Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Checking In

We had a dusting of snow yesterday morning, but it wasn't much and it was gone quickly. Today we have had a lot of rain, and tomorrow we may see a bit of snow. But the big thing they're talking about for tomorrow is high wind.

The K Mart in our town is going out of business. Eler Beth and I glanced through the store yesterday to see what might be on sale that we couldn't live without. Turns out there really wasn't that much! Ha! A few things I need anyway that were 10% to 40% off, and Eler Beth got some cute capris for $2.40. Can't beat that with a stick. I never liked our K Mart and have been expecting them to go out of business for years.

I think Friday or Saturday Eler Beth and I will do some serious shopping, and I think we'll see if Andrew's girlfriend wants to go along with us. (I'm fairly certain that this is the one who will be my daughter-in-law some day. But that's at least a couple years down the road -- I hope!)

Well, I just thought I'd pop in here quickly to say hi. I know everyone is probably very busy, just as we are. Hope no one is having any very bad weather.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Taking Some Kind of Action

If you don't already read Debby's blog, please drop by to check this entry about vandalism in her neighborhood and how she plans to try to make a difference. Also be sure to read her follow-up entry here.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

NaBloPoMo '09

Follow Up on Garden and Gun


I have enjoyed many of the articles in the magazine, and I wanted to highlight two more: The Return of Pat Conroy by Julia Reed and Chicken Dog by Clyde Edgarton.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Garden and Gun


I don't subscribe to many magazines. I used to do so, but finally convinced myself that I was usually wasting my money. There are a few that I like well enough to buy a subscription, and occasionally I'll buy something at the check out that catches my eye. I like Reader's Digest, Woman's Day, Family Circle, things like that. Sometimes I'll buy a decorating or gardening magazine or something I've never read before just to check it out. Once in a while I'll buy a magazine sub
scription or renew a subsriction from someone's child who is selling them as a fund-raiser. But I have seriously over the past few years cut down on the amount of magazines that come into the house.

However, a few months ago a college kid came to our neighborhood selling subscriptions. He was very personable, so I actually gave him a few minutes of my time and listened to his spiel. I let him talk about his college major and his school, which happened to be the same university my grand-niece Summer is attending. I told him right off that I really didn't need any magazine subscription but I made the mistake of glancing through his little catal
og.

And this name caught my eye and my fancy: GARDEN AND GUN

Now how could I resist a magazine with a name like that??

Well, I got my first issue last week, and it is really a cool little magazine with some very interesting articles. I don't know that I'll renew my subscription, but I think I'll actually enjoy it for a while.

A sampling of the articles in this issue:

The Bog Man and His Secret Garden
Scuppernongs
At Home in the Wild

There is even an article about a Kentuckian:
Homegrown

Firefly populations dwindling? Who Turned Out the Lights?

LOTS of articles worth reading. I was really pleasantly surprised with the topics covered and the quality of the writing and the photographs.


Sunday, November 29, 2009

Still A Bit Foggy

I slept for 13 hours, and I do feel a lot better.

That's thirteen hours without any artificial help. I didn't take any cold medicine until I woke up. I guess I needed the sleep.

My throat is no longer scratchy, and I don't feel feverish or chilly. My shoulders and neck ache, and I feel really tired. But hot tea, some soup, and just sitting here relaxing has done a lot -- that and the cold medicine. Aside from sneezing a lot I don't have any other symptoms. I think I just tried to do too much this past week.

Had a wonderful time at my Mom's; didn't really start feeling bad until I got home last night. I hope I didn't have anything contagious. I called Mom to warn her and the girls and Alton to up their vitamin C and juice intake just to be on the safe side.
(I should have known I was getting sick when I couldn't eat much! lol)

To answer Guido's question: I can't promise that I'll post every day after November is over, but I'm certainly going to try to post as often as I can. It has been fun checking in every day, and I've been keeping up with most of the blogs I read also. Sad to say, that has been easier than it used to be because many people aren't blogging as often, if at all. I've rather enjoyed making myself find something to say every day. I am going to edit my NaNoWriMo manuscript in December, and I thought I'd focus a bit on my book blog too.

I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday/long weekend with family and friends. We have two more deer ready for our freezer (thanks to Thomas). That's two for Eler Beth and three for Thomas. Today is the last day of gun season, but muzzleloader season starts in one week. And no, I don't have five deer in my freezer -- more like three. I took a lot to my mom and sisters Friday, and we have given a lot to Thomas' nephew's family and packages of steak to various friends and family members.

Guess that's all for now. Hope everyone has a great week.


Saturday, November 28, 2009

"A Page From Miss Litcott's Book" . . .



has reached more than 50,000 words!!!









And I am going to bed. I don't feel well; feel a bit feverish and chilled all at the same time.

I got this Nov-Nov finished this morning and have sent it in to the validator. Its title is no longer Nov-Nov, by the way, but the title you see above. It's good to be done with it for now. I can start editing as soon as I like. But for now -- bed!!

Friday, November 27, 2009

I've Almost Done It!



I have four days left and less than 3,000 words to go. I do believe I'm going to do it!! It was touch and go there for a while, with a houseful of sick loved ones and 36 hours worth of things to do for every 24 hour day.

(On a side note, my fingers hurt!!!)

Since I expect to be busy with family tomorrow and Sunday, I'm actually going to try to finish tonight or get really, really close, at least. I can send it in to the validater as soon as it is finished.

Quality? Hmmm. I'd rather not say. Oh well, okay, I'll say. It's not too bad. Parts of it are really, really good, and they give me great pleasure to re-read (which I'm not supposed to do at this point, but Little Miss Perfectionist has reared her ugly head a time or two.). And other parts are really, really, REALLY bad, and I've had to really, really REALLY make myself leave them alone. And I'm very proud of myself for doing just that. And other parts are so-so and could go either way.

It isn't 50,000 words of drivel, but it isn't 50,000 words of pure genius either. The point was to write a 50,000-word novel in 30 days or less (novelette, really); to write, write, write without letting myself get hung up on perfectionism, just to see what comes out. And I have just about done that.

In December I plan to edit, edit, edit and rewrite, rewrite, rewrite. And then I'll send it to two of my sisters, Barbara and Lois, the ones who always get to read my manuscripts first. If it passes their muster then I'll let my other sisters read it, and I may just shop it around. There are even a few online friends whom I would let read it I believe. No promises or anything, but you can ask if you're interested.

Well, anyway, thanks for all the encouragement. I'm well into the home stretch now, and yes, I have TWO copies backed up so I don't lose it and have to shoot myself (one copy on my laptop in case my desktop dies, and one on a flash drive).

Also, there are only four more days of one blog post a day. I think I've got that covered, as well. : )

Just a Hint for You . . .

that probably won't be necessary:

If you need to go somewhere today to get something accomplished -- anything accomplished -- expect it to take at least three times longer than it should take!!

(And tomorrow probably will be just as bad!)

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

A Bit Down Today

Vernie's funeral was today.

Thomas went to the viewing last night because he knew he wouldn't be able to make the funeral today. I wasn't sure if either of the kids would feel up to going; neither of them has been able to deal well with funerals since my dad died -- neither have I, but I've still gone.

Well, Eler Beth decided she wouldn't go, but Andrew said he'd feel bad if he missed it, since he'd known Vernie all his life, and I wanted to at the very least see Vernie's widow and express my condolences. So he and I went. We saw Jean as soon as we went in and gave her a hug. She looked like she was doing pretty well under the circumstances. She had all her kids and grandkids there. We spoke to a lot of other friends, and my sisters-in-law and some of my nieces-in-law were there. I did very well when I saw Vernie in the casket, his WWII photo beside him. But when I went to look at the display of other pictures they had I couldn't handle it and started crying. I told Andrew I'd have to step out to get myself composed, and my 20-year-old son put his arm around me (!!!) and gave me a squeeze and said we could go ahead and leave if I wanted to. Turns out I was staying for him and he was staying for me.

I never used to loose it like that at funerals but now they are very hard for me. Usually I can get through the funeral or memorial service and only toward the end do I get teary. But today it went beyond teary.

It's kind of a gloomy day anyway, and I am so tired, as if I hadn't slept much or well, so maybe my nerves are a bit compromised anyway.

Oh well, sorry for this gloomy bit of an entry. Thanks for indulging me.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Seven Days To Go . . . . .



It's down to the wire.

Seven days to go!

But I work well under pressure.

Oh yeah! I can do deadlines!

I'm going to be a writing fury this last week!!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Driving Dreams

Eler Beth hasn't been able to complain about being bored lately because she's had somewhere to go every day. Today she went with me to the winemaker's shop in Louisville so I could get some campden tablets and a new bottle brush. She's a good companion to have along anywhere we go because she is constantly looking around and taking note of what she is seeing.

Lately she's been talking about how soon she can get her license or at least her permit. Today she told me "When I get my permit and want to go somewhere you can say, 'Well, okay, but you'll have to drive,' and then I'll drive and you can just sit back and close your eyes and take a nap or something."

I said, "Nooooo, you'll have to have been driving for a loonngg time before I take a nap while you're driving," I laughed.

This is CAKE doing a cover of Bread's "Guitar Man".
The little boy in the red shirt starring in the video is the lead guitarist of the kid band, "Still Pending". It's a very good video and CAKE does a great cover of "Guitar Man".

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Rabbit Palace and Bing

Thomas and Eler Beth finished the rabbit palace, I mean hutch, today. It is so BIG! I hope Tsune will like it.

A friend of ours passed away today. He was in his 90s, and he simply went to sleep. Thomas had known him and his family since Thomas was about 16, and I have known them for about 18 years now. He was a good old guy, always busy, still doing farm work and driving himself until early last year. He has often called on Thomas to come give him a hand mending fence or doing some other work on his land, and almost every year he would call us to come pick cherries or pears off his trees. He will be missed, and I feel for his wife. She has some nervous problems as it is, and I know this is going to be extremely difficult for her.

On a funny note -- has everyone seen those "Bing" search engine overload commercials? Well I really get a kick out of them. I saw a new one tonight and had to see if it was on You Tube. It is, so here it is for a Sunday chuckle. Bing may never amount to much, but they sure do have funny commercials.

Bing Search Overload Syndrome: Santa

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Rabbit Wire, Taco Tico, and CAKE

Yesterday Eler Beth and I found ourselves on Charlestown Road in New Albany, and I discovered that there is a new Taco Tico there. I can remember when there were several Taco Tico (fast food franchises) in the Louisville area when I was a teenager. As a matter of fact I went to Taco Tico long before I ever heard of or visited a Taco Bell. But they suddenly disappeared from the area when I was around 20 years old.

So we decided we'd give them a try. Eler Beth was impressed with the soft tacos, which she said were better than Taco Bell's, and she really liked the Cinnamon Crustos. I was impressed with the Loaded Nachos, which actually were loaded with everything, unlike the Nachos Belle Grande at Taco Bell, which is mostly just nachos. I couldn't eat the whole thing in one sitting. The churros were good too!

Today Thomas started building a big hutch for Tsune, the white rabbit that Eler Beth rescued and nursed back to health this summer. Her cage is getting smaller in proportion to her growth, so we decided to give her a bit of a palace. We made a trip to Lowe's for rabbit wire and wood. Our friend who raises rabbits has a nesting box for us, so she'll be all set very soon. Thomas and Eler Beth did most of the construction this evening.

Here is another song and video by CAKE. This one is called "Love You Madly", and I like the song okay, but I really enjoy the video.

CAKE -- "Love You Madly"


I don't want to wonder
If this is a blunder
I don't want to worry whether
We're gonna stay together
'Till we die

I don't want to jump in
Unless this music's thumping
All the dishes rattle in the cupboards
When the elephants arrive

I want to love you madly
I want to love you now
I want to love you madly, way
I want to love you, love you
Love you madly

I don't want to fake it
I just want to make it
The ornaments look pretty
But they're pulling down the branches
Of the Tree

I don't want to think about it
I don't want to talk about it
When I kiss your lips
I want to sink down to the bottom
Of the sea

I want to love you madly
I want to love you now, yeah
I want to love you madly, way
I want to love you, love you
Love you madly

I don't want to hold back
I don't want to slip down
I don't want to think back to the one thing that I know I
Should have done

I don't want to doubt you
Know everything about you
I don't want to sit across the table from you
Wishing I could run

I want to love you madly
I want to love you now
I want to love you madly, way
I want to love you, love you
Love you madly


Friday, November 20, 2009

Go, You Chicken Fat, Go!

Does anyone else remember the Chicken Fat song from the sixties? We had it on a little .45 record. President Kennedy apparently sent it to elementary schools across the country in 1961, and I don't know how we happened to have gotten hold of one of them, but I'm guessing one of my sisters brought it home. I can remember playing the record and exercising with it when I was a little girl. I wondered if I could find it on You Tube. Well, of course I could; everything is on You Tube. So here it is for your nostalgic listening pleasure. And if you get the urge to do so, get up and "send that chicken fat back to the chicken. And don't be chicken again!"

I didn't realize that Robert Preston did the singing, and it was written by Merideth Wilson who wrote the music for "Music Man."

Chicken Fat Song (The Youth Fitness Song)



And check out this web site too.

P.S. I challenge you to listen to this and NOT have it going through your head all day.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

What Would Beethoven Think?

Andrew recently acquainted me with an indie-rock band called CAKE. They've been around since 1994 but I'd never heard of them before this week. I like a few of their songs, especially one called "Commissioning a Symphony in C", which I am sharing here. I like their style; they are impossible to pigeonhole, really. One of their songs sounds a bit country, another may sound more hip hop, and yet another is a combination of rock and big band. I really like that. The lead singer's voice is smooth and easy to listen to without being exceptionally remarkable. Their lyrics are smart and punchy.

They were dismissed by most critics when they had their first hit, The Distance, but they have proved they are not a one-hit wonder by the hits they've had since. I like their sense of humor and their sarcasm -- and I'm sure their sarcasm is one of the things that most appeals to me about their music.

They do a cover of "I Will Survive" that is worth hearing at least once. The lead singer's voice is all wrong for the song, but he doesn't try to do anything other than simply sing it; it's the bass, the lead guitar, and the trumpet that are so superb in their version.

Below is a video of "Commissioning A Symphony in C" so you can hear it, and I'll print the lyrics below as well. When you get the chance I would also recommend their songs,"Never There" (highly recommend that one), and "Love You Madly" (LOVE the video for that one). "Sort Skirt/Long Jacket" was critically acclaimed, but it isn't one of my favorites. "Meanwhile, Rick James" and "Frank Sinatra" are two others where the lyrics really get me, especially the latter. "Friend is a Four Letter Word" is pretty good too.

I know I'm probably late to the dance and everyone else out there knows this band, but since I had to write something today, I figured I might as well write about them.

Click the link below to hear the song (love the keyboard in it):

Commissioning A Symphony in C

By John McCrae

So you'll be an Austrian Nobleman
Commissioning a symphony in C
Which defies all earthly descriptions
You'll be Commissioning a symphony in C

With money you squeeze from the peasants
To your nephew you can give it as a present
This magnificent symphony in C
You'll be commissioning a symphony in C

Completely filling the palace concert hall
It's warm and golden like an oven that's wide open
It has a melody both happy and sad
Built on victorious known triads

You've entered the room with great caution
Though no one in the hall is even watching
They are transfixed
They are forgetting just to breath
They are so taken by your symphony...
In C

You're sitting there thinking your thoughts
They are not about what is but what is not
You are sitting there breathing in your breath
You are seldom breathing life but mostly death

So you'll be an Austrian Nobleman
Commissioning a symphony in C
Which defies all earthly descriptions
You'll be commissioning...
A symphony...
In C



Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Rainy Wednesday

It rained yesterday and today, but that's okay. I guess we needed it.

Tomorrow Thomas is going hunting. Eler Beth was going with them but decided this evening that she's not really feeling up to it. I think she's done her part for the year, but I know she'll get back out there before season ends. We have two deer in the freezer and gave one away. I do like having my freezer full of meat for the winter. It's a very good feeling, especially when you know it's clean and preservative-free! lol

I thought I was having the house to myself tomorrow (gave Eler Beth the day off to go hunting), so I was going to do a writing marathon. I'm still going to. I told Eler Beth if she stayed out of my hair and let me write I'd still give her the day off from school. I'm going to try to do 6,000 words tomorrow.

I saw the mutt out on his own again today. They didn't keep him up long. But maybe he got out honestly this time. He ran after a neighbor lady walking her dogs, and one of her dogs is a rottweiler. But she's a sweet old rottweiler, and she didn't do anything about the little mutt yipping at her heels. The neighbor shooed him off and they went on with their walk. I'll keep my eyes on him though. If he's out a lot again, I'll have to call again.

Hope everyone is having a good week.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Got JUST Milk?

When Andrew was about two years old he tried buttermilk at my Mom's house. Of course he didn't like it. For some reason he had it in his mind that buttermilk was called "just plain milk". I honestly have no idea why. But the morning after that visit when I was fixing his breakfast I asked him if he'd like juice or milk, and he asked what kind of milk.

"What kind of milk? It's just plain milk," I answered. He refused to have any. After a lot of questioning I figured out that he thought it was the kind he'd tried at my Mom's, so I had to pour that milk out, wash the glass, and say, "Ok, well, I'll get you just milk. It's the kind you drink every day. See? It's JUST milk."

He drank it.

A few weeks later he went to spend a few days with my parents. The morning after we left him there my phone rang. It was my Mom.

"What kind of milk does Drew drink?" she asked.

And I burst out laughing. I knew! "Oh no! Did you tell him it was 'just plain milk'?"

She chuckled. "Yes, I did, and he refused to drink it. I poured it back. What should I have called it?" (She's a wise old bird, my Mom.)

I explained, and for the rest of his visit he had JUST milk.

Monday, November 16, 2009

No Boredom For Me

When I picked up my desktop from my computer geek last week I found out he'd been in the hospital for pneumonia -- brought on by H1N1!! That's the closest it has come to me.

Everyone is feeling better at my house except for me. I'm still achy and so tired and sleepy. I have also had the urge these past few days to read Kafka. Should I be worried, do you think?

Eler Beth is feeling a lot better, but she is SO BORED!!! I didn't feel up to doing anything special today like taking another downtown walk, so other than school she was pretty much on her own. Andrew took pity on her and played video games with her for a while, and she went with me to the grocery. But I read her post tonight, and she says today she was SO BORED!!! Sometimes I wish I could have some of that boredom. OR it would be nice sometimes to wander around the house, letting out huge sighs and whining, "I'm so stressed!!" Wonder what they'd do if I started doing that?

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Day 15

Day fifteen into National Blog Posting Month, and I have no idea what to write for today.

All weekend I have felt like someone worked me over really good with a baseball bat. I think part of it was just from exhaustion. Thursday night I didn't sleep well, then Friday was extremely busy and tiring, and I didn't sleep well Friday night. Then I was up early Saturday to see Thomas and Eler Beth off to the woods. I slept all day Saturday, just getting up to go to the bathroom or answer the phone, until they got home. Then of course I had to admire the deer and make a blog post. lol

Today was much the same. Slept all morning, then watched cheesy romance movies on the Hallmark Channel all afternoon. Even as I sit here my head is spinning, and I really just want to get back to bed. I hope tomorrow things are back to normal.

Thomas got a big doe today. Eler Beth stayed home. The deer are all still on ice, and tomorrow we begin the packaging process. Rain is in the forecast for this week. I hope we don't get too much, but I can't really complain because we've had several dry and very nice days in a row.

I am behind again on blog reading, but I will start catching up tomorrow. I have really enjoyed reading everyone's posts again, and don't want to get too far behind.

And that's it for today.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

First Deer of the Season

And Eler Beth got it!

Thomas had her in a tree where he was pretty sure the deer would pass right below her. He was in a tree a bit up the trail where he could see her. If anything came by that she missed, he'd get it.

Only she didn't miss.

First she shot her doe, which dropped right where it was. Then an eight-point buck came up looking for the doe, and she dropped it.

She says she's a bit tired and doesn't know if she will feel up to going out tomorrow, but she doesn't want to disappoint her dad. Somehow I think Thomas will understand if she stays home tomorrow. lol

They went off without any camera, but the daughter of the friend who hunted with them, and at whose house they cleaned the deer, took some pictures and is going to send them to me online.

P.S. I just read Eler Beth's post about her hunt. She did a good job writing about it. She just told Thomas that she wasn't sure she'd feel up to going tomorrow, and he said he hadn't expected her to. She is SO sore, poor baby!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Rewind


A few days ago Eler Beth was watching a rerun of Everybody Hates Chris, an episode where Chris was MC'ing a school dance and borrowed a James Brown album from his mom. Anyway, I was in the kitchen, halfway hearing what was going on in the show, when Eler Beth called from the living room, "How did you rewind records, anyway??"

I had to laugh. Then I told her you didn't rewind them. You picked up the arm of the record player and put the needle back down at the beginning of the song you wanted to play.

She came to the kitchen wide-eyed. "Needle?!?"

"Yes, there's a little needle that you put on the record. It sits in the grooves of the album and that's what plays the music."

"Really!"

"And if you want to go back and play a song again, you just raise the arm and move the needle back to the beginning of the song."

She still had that "okay-if-you-say-so" look on her face. Then something else occurred to her. "How would you know where a song begins or ends."

"Well, there are, like, sections, on the album, where you can clearly see a beginning and an end."

A few years ago Thomas had bought me a phonograph that has a CD player, cassette player, and radio with it. I use it mostly for the radio or CD player these days. For quite a while Eler Beth had enjoyed listening to my old record albums, but she was pretty young and I hadn't let her actually handle them or the arm of the record player. And I guess she'd forgotten anything she'd learning about albums at that time. So I showed her an album and I demonstrated how the arm worked.

"And you could set it to immediately go back to the beginning of the album when it finished, so you could hear the whole thing over again. You could also stack several albums together and it would drop one at a time to be played."

"Cool!"

Made me wonder what her own future kids would have that would make all the current new-fangled gadgets she takes for granted every day seem wonderful to them.

I can remember an old RCA Victrola Dad had that played long cylinder "records" and that had a crank. I can still remember some of the recordings we would listen to, and I thought that was the neatest thing. I have no idea what ever happened to it.

**********************************

Thomas had taken the day off today so he could get ready for tomorrow. So we were running errands most of the day or getting things ready for the first day of gun season tomorrow. I didn't sleep well last night, so I was SO sleepy and tired all day. Andrew very kindly invited Eler Beth to tag along with him today and they spent most of the morning at Perkfections Cafe downtown.

We all met up at the T-Mobile store, though, because Thomas was buying a new phone, and Andrew needed to send his back and get it replaced (thank goodness we had got insurance for it, because it wasn't a cheap one!), so Eler Beth started looking at phones to see what kind she would like. She never actually "asked" for one, she just told us which one she'd like if she got one. Thomas is actually talking about going ahead and getting her one this year, so at least now we know which one she likes.

I had to upgrade mine a couple months ago, so I guess it's the year for new phones all around.

Okay, so I guess I'm off here for now. Be back after I have a nice, long rest (I hope!).

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Playing With P.J.

A couple weeks ago my sister Phyllis and her husband Bill celebrated their sixth anniversary, and I asked all my "friends" on Facebook to wish them a Happy Anniversary. About 40 people did so, and she was very touched. It was a cute surprise for her to have people she didn't even know wishing them well, especially as I let it be known that it was a second marriage for both of them, and that they are very much made for each other.

P.J. is the only one of my siblings on Facebook, and I have enjoyed visiting with her there and playing with her on so many of those annoying FB apps! P.J. is almost 12 years older than I am, and she married young, so my memories of her before she was married are very few. She always figured in my juvenile mind as one of the "older" bunch, the "married" ones. And now she and I are the only two who are married.

Since we never "played" as children -- because we weren't children at the same time -- it is a new experience for me to play online games with her. (Well, we've played cards and board games and outside games like badminton, softball, and kick-the-can, but we never "played" together as kids, like I did with Barbara and even Lois.) Now a couple times a month we find ourselves up until 2 in the morning, laughing until we cry, playing some online game and chatting with each other. It is one thing I have with her that I don't have with my other siblings, who either don't like or don't care one way or the other about the internet in general, or don't like or trust social networking sites.

So this entry, #12 of my November Blogathon, is dedicated to my #5 sibling, Phyllis Jane, because I was thinking of her today. Below is one of my favorite pics of her when she was a teenager.
Photobucket

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

"He was grinning as he went down."

gunner's mate, 1st class

My Father was a Gunner's Mate, First Class in the Navy during WWII. He served on a tanker, the U.S.S. Tappahannock, an AO-43 Class oiler, commissioned June 22, 1942, just in time for my Dad to serve on her.

He had lots of stories to tell about different ports of call made during his time on the Tappahannock, but he never talked a lot, in my hearing anyway, about any danger during his service. It goes without saying I suppose that an oiler would often be in danger during war, servicing battleships and destroyers. But it was only very recently that I heard my father's account, as told to my sister Barbara, about the day in April 1943 that the Tappahannock was in a battle for its life.

According to my father on April 6 the Tappahannock was in Guadalcanal, transferring fuel to other ships, as well as aviation gas to shore tanks. It was with aviation gas that they were most fully loaded, carrying over 300,000 gallons. That evening Japanese aircraft started a nuisance raid that dropped a few bombs off the Tappahannock's stern, but didn't do any damage. Can you imagine if a bomb had hit while the oiler was carrying all that aviation gas?

The next day the tanker was still in the area, transferring gas. As a side note here, I have to tell something funny. When the Tappahannock would come up beside a ship to transfer fuel, it was one of my Father's jobs to send a mooring line over to the other ship. He would attach a brass rod to a thin line, and the line was attached to a big mooring rope -- they used brass because brass wouldn't cause a spark when it hit the deck -- and then he would pack the brass rod, attached to the line, into the barrel of his .410, securing the rod into the shell. He would then aim at the other ship and shoot. The rod, propelled by the .410 shot, then pulled the thin line, which pulled the mooring rope over to the other ship. I always thought that was such an amazing way to get it over there, and knowing my Dad, I know he enjoyed doing it. My sister, Barbara, still has that .410, and it is the gun I first learned to shoot with when I was a child.

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U.S.S. Tappahannock

Now, back to my story. The next day there was an air raid alert, and the Tappahannock got orders to get underway, along with two destroyers. I was able to find the names of the destroyers online; they were the Woodworth and the Farenholt. The alert had given the word that a Japanese air raid was expected a bit after noon, but around 3 p.m. a "Condition Red" warning sounded from Guadalcanal. Unknown to the American vessels when they left port they were heading right into the path of the Japanese force.

Dad said that they could see some planes off in the distance that looked like they were engaged in a dog fight, and then all of a sudden the planes got into formation and the American sailors realized they were "Vals", carrier-based dive bombers.

And the Tappahannock was the main target of their attack.

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Japanese D3A2 Val

The first bomber did some damage and the Tappahannock lost way a bit. The gunners on deck took down that bomber and eventually they saw him hit the water. The destroyers were doing their share with their own guns. A second attacker came in from Starboard and though it didn't do much damage, the gunners weren't able to bring him down. Also, about this time three 20-millimeter guns on the Tappahannock jammed.

The engineers were able to get the Tappahannock underway again, and a third dive bomber came in astern. Its bomb missed the oiler, however, and hit the water clear of the ship, "drenching," Dad said, "all the gunners." A fourth Val came in, and this is the one that Daddy got to see up close. He said it flew right into the fire of his gun, as if it had meant to do so. It was hit several times but it stayed in the air. Dad's 20-millimeter hit it, and as it went down, Dad said it dropped so closely to the ship that he could see the pilot's face. He was grinning widely as he went down. The fifth bomber came in, dropped closer to the ship than any of the others had managed, and then flew off. For a while they thought this one had done some severe damage, but after a check it was discovered that the Tappahannock was okay.

And that was the end of the attack. It only lasted a few minutes. The Tappahannock was given credit for taking down two Vals, but some people (Daddy included) say that they actually shot down a third one, but the credit for that one was given to one of the destroyers. I think that this was the only oiler that had ever officially shot down Japanese planes. The two destroyers weren't harmed, but behind the little convoy of three two other battleships had been struck and sunk.

I thank my sister for getting this info from Dad when she had the chance and documenting it.

A WWII Serviceman said about the Tappahannock's fight on that day,
"Pretty good performance for a big slow moving "Non Combatant" Oiler I think. The Tappahannock was in a fight for her life. It took expert marks-manship to shoot down those planes and expert seamanship to manuever such a large slow moving ship to evade all of those bombs coming in from all different angles. They did an OUTSTANDING job! I'm sure those Japanese pilots thought the Tappy would be easy prey. She is big and slow and lightly armed compared to a destroyer or a cruiser. At the time of the attack the Tappy was carrying 300,000 gallons of avaition gasoline,so if just one of those bombs had hit her it would have been certain disaster." -- Paul Kuzman

I have some other stories of Dad's, amusing ones, that I look forward to sharing, but this was the one that I felt was appropriate for today.



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Tuesday, November 10, 2009

I Think I Won The Bet

That bet between Andrew and me about which one of us would have to go to the doctor next, that is.

I'm going to make this post so I don't miss one, and then I'm going to bed. Eyes are burning, head is hurting, neck is aching, and nose is itching. Blah!

Had to take my desktop to the computer doctor today. I have Nov-Nov backed up on a flash drive, so it's safe. Hopefully I'll be feeling 80% better tomorrow (I'm not feeling optimistic enough to hope for 100%). Hope everyone is safe and healthy in your lives.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Rx

I just read Eler Beth's post and thought it was funny that she talked about not feeling any better yet and then went on to tell how she'd walked three of our dogs today!

Her doctor did give her an antibiotic, though, since she keeps getting this thing. Her left ear was pretty stopped up, and she has a lot of congestion. She gave her a prescription for a decongestant/cough syrup and suggested she start taking Claritin.

She spent as much time outside as she could this afternoon, but she didn't overdo it.
We're expecting rain tomorrow afternoon, so Andrew went up on the roof, swept down all the leaves that were accumulating there (!!) and cleaned out the gutters for me. Thomas is feeling a lot better; his symptoms are practically gone, but he'll continue to take ALL of his medicine. Andrew and I have a bet on which of the two of us will need to go to the doctor next. (Not really!)

No lessons today, but I think we'll feel up to having school tomorrow. We're getting into that busy time of year, so I really hate missing a day of school now.

I think I'm going to have to call animal control on a neighbor's dog. A family who lives across the street from us, but not directly across, apparently have a relative staying with them and they have a little mutt of a dog who is very territorial and thinks he owns the whole street. He will come right up into our yard (and other neighbor's yards) and bark at you like he's in his own yard. It's against county ordinance for him to be loose, even if he is in his own yard; dogs have to be in a fenced-in yard or on a leash. This mutt (and he's very strange looking -- I have no idea what he is) loped down the street barking at a little girl going to her bus stop one morning. I heard him barking and ran out and chased him home. Someone from inside the house called to him and opened the door for him. So he isn't getting out by accident.

He's the kind of sneaky dog that likes to chase and bark at you until you turn around and confront him; then he runs off, still looking behind him and barking. I don't trust sneaky dogs like that; if you keep your back turned to them, they could decide to bite. I don't want these neighbors to know who called the law on them, so I'm going to try to do it anonymously. Normally I would speak to the neighbors about anything like this, but not these neighbors. I'll have to just leave it at that.

I don't make a big deal, either, when someone has a dog out in their unfenced yard without being on a leash. Usually it's a well-trained dog and is out there with its owner. Eler Beth knows and has befriended most of the pets in the neighborhood anyway, but this one doesn't want to be befriended. So anyway, I guess I'll make that call tomorrow before someone gets bitten or some neighbor decides to take matters into their own hands and the dog mysteriously disappears.

Well, that's enough for now. Til tomorrow.

Think Seeing This Every Day Will Spur Me On??

Yes, this is where I am now.



Here it shows what percentage of 50,000 words I've completed, and how many days remain.



I'm going to put one or more on my sidebar or at the top of every entry. It'll either freak me out or spur me on! (I'm glad I've never bitten my nails.)

I'm behind in my daily goals mostly because of Eler Beth being sick. It has been hard to find the right time (read: quiet time) to write. I know, I know, excuses, excuses!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Sunday Closing

Eler Beth finally dropped off to sleep. The birds are confused because she was up so late in her room, and I kept coming in and out to bring her something or check on her. They are singing loudly, but she is sleeping soundly. She woke up this morning with a low-grade fever. During the latter part of the afternoon she started sneezing off and on, and then this evening she was sneezing almost constantly. Allergy medicine finally settled the sneezing, but it was still a while before she relaxed enough to get to sleep.

I will be taking her to the doctor tomorrow. This thing keeps hanging on. I still thing with her it is mostly allergies, but she has a lot of congestion, her ear was bothering her, and she is achy.

On a good note Thomas is feeling much better today. He reacts very quickly to medicine.

I raked leaves and sweep leaves and bagged leaves and hauled leaves around the yard. I'm tired of leaves! I figured I'd better take advantage of the good weather. It is supposed to be nice for a few more days, chance of rain on Tuesday, nice the rest of the week, but a bit colder.

Please tune in on Wednesday, Veteran's Day, when I will share some of my Dad's WWII Navy stories.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Shopping for a Baby is so Relaxing!


(72 °! Are we sure it's November? Tomorrow is supposed to be just as beautiful as today.)

We were supposed to go to a baby shower this afternoon, but I was afraid we might pass along our cold germs, and I certainly wouldn't want to give them to a lady who's 8 months pregnant. We had fun shopping for it this morning though. Eler Beth and I went to Burlington Coat Factory, one of the places where the mother had registered, and we had fun putting together a whole basket full of gifts. (Yes, I waited til the last minute to buy a gift!)

We dropped off the gift and came on back home. Eler Beth could have gone, but didn't want to go without me. I had a bit of a fever last night, though, and a scratchy throat all day. I was worried about Thomas. He was really feeling bad last night and this morning but went on into work anyway. I had tried to get him to go to his doctor yesterday after work, but he always waits until he's tried all his home remedies first. Well as soon as he got home this afternoon he said, "Where can I go to get some antibiotics?" So we went to the Little Clinic at Walgreens. There was a time when he could shake off these colds pretty easily, but now they almost always go into an upper respiratory infection.

Nothing really interesting to talk about. I'm reading The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley. I'll let you know how I like it when I finish it. Hope everyone is having a good weekend!

Friday, November 6, 2009

A Hodge Podge

I see in the news that there has been another shooting, this time in a high rise in Florida. So tragic and so senseless.

Thank you to everyone who commented so nicely on my previous post. My little dear got out for a while this afternoon to do some scouting with Thomas since gun season opens next Saturday. I need to go through my big freezer, rearrange a few things, and give away some of any deer that's left from last year to make room for this year's offerings.

I had something specific in mind to write about today, but for the life of me I can't remember what it was. I have really enjoyed writing an entry every day this week, and am beginning to think that maybe I'll actually succeed in NaBlo with some good entries and not just drivel. As for my Nov-Nov, it's coming along. I'm up to about 4,000 words, which is below par, but I'll catch up. As for the quality of it, I'm not going to venture to say. It is what it is, and in December I'll tidy it up.

I've been sneezing a lot. I really don't want to get sick. But more than that I really don't want Thomas or the kids to get sick! Eler Beth has been fighting allergy/sinus/head-cold for two weeks now; just when we think she's over it she gets it again. And two days ago Thomas starting having the same symptoms. Now Andrew is sneezing his head off and feeling excessively tired. We're all drinking lots of hot tea and juice, and taking echinacea and vitamin C. So far no one has run a high fever, had chills or severe stomach pains, or had anything get down into their chests.

I usually wipe down my bathroom doorknobs, faucet handles, and light switches every morning with bleach water as part of my morning routine; now I'm doing them throughout the house every day, but with alcohol, not bleach water. And I have started carrying more hand sanitizer in all the vehicles; I have some in each of the door pockets and in the glove boxes. I make sure I wipe down the shopping cart handles when I have to use one, and I didn't always do that before. With more and more cases of flu and other viruses being diagnosed and more deaths from H1N1 in the area, I don't want to take any chances.

So what specific things are you doing differently because of the flu threat?

Well, this hasn't been the most interesting of entries, has it? Maybe I'll remember what I wanted to write about for tomorrow. I hope everyone has a safe and beautiful weekend.


Thursday, November 5, 2009

My Little Best Friend -- or Mothers, Daughters, and Sisters

My favorite people to be around to bring up my spirits has always been my sisters (well, Mom, too, of course). We never get together without a lot of laughter, and it's the best kind of shared laughter, where you know what the other is thinking, know where their joke is going, understand the code their talking, if you know what I mean. As my nieces got older each of them has been added to this club. They each can hold their own when it comes to "witty repartee" when they're with us girls, and my own daughter has now risen to those ranks as well. I don't know why but the boys just don't quite get our humor sometimes, and none of them is slow by any means. It's a girl thing, a sister thing, a woman thing, I guess.

It occurred to me a couple days ago that Eler Beth has truly become one of my best friends. And that's all right because we still, believe me, have the mother/daughter dynamic in our relationship. She's always going to love and hate me the way she will love or hate no other. I tell her things no one else can or will because I know her as no one else can or will, at least until she finds her soul mate and has been married for a few years. And even then I'll know her in ways her mate never will. She can say things to me that she'd never say to anyone else she loves because she knows it is safe to do so. We can share secrets and dreams that perhaps we'd never speak of to anyone else. She is right there beside me almost every day, and she is right "in step" with me, figuratively speaking, wherever I go.

Once a few weeks ago I took advantage of going shopping for myself without her while she was spending the day with a friend. I don't like to shop as a rule, but when I have to shop for myself, particularly if it's clothing, I prefer doing it alone. I have never been one who liked to have a friend with me shopping. I like to go in, find what I want, and then get out. Well the whole time I was shopping -- actually even in the car on the way there -- I was missing my daughter. I realized that I actually enjoyed shopping with her. She makes it fun. She always discovers something new and interesting when we're out together and we always end up laughing our heads off over something or other.

I have always been in love with both my children. They are special in different ways, and I have a different relationship with each of them, to a certain extent at least, and not just because of their different genders. As alike as they can at times be, they are still both very different individuals. But now that Eler Beth is becoming more mature I find that our relationship has moved to a different level. And because she is my only daughter, this is a level I hadn't yet experienced and hadn't even foreseen. I think of my own Mother and her six daughters. We are all very alike in many ways, but we are also very different. I have different things in common with my five sisters. We have different shared histories and memories because the age range is so wide. And I know that Mom knows us each better than anyone else can or ever will. She always said when asked how you raise seven kids, that you treat them each as individuals. I have heard her say this, and she always has. She never lumped us together or expected something from one just because she expected it of another.

Eler Beth and I can exchange looks and know what the other is thinking. Yes, she has arrived. She's part of that club now. Yesterday she told me something that she thought I should know. She said, "I thought I'd better give you a heads up in case you didn't already know. Because you know," she said, half teasing, "I'll always have your back."

And she will.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

That Crunchy Time of Year

My front yard is once again full of crunchy, red and brown maple leaves. I do love the sound they make when I walk down to get the mail every day. I like leaving them on my yard longer than my neighbor, Ms. B, probably likes. I like the way lawns look covered in leaves. I do need to get Andrew to clean out my gutters though.

We had a little rain this morning, and it was chilly and cloudy. By noon the rain had stopped, the sun had come out, and the temps warmed up to around 60°. I couldn't take Eler Beth on any little side trips today because I just had too much to do this afternoon, so she was very bored. Even after the sun came out she didn't want to go outside, and she never even asked to go to a friend's house after school, so I guess she's just having one of those blah days we all have sometimes when we don't really want to do anything but still we're bored.

I was noticing when we drove out to the grocery this evening that another house on our street has a For Sale sign up. I think that makes three just on our street, and there are several in the neighborhood. When I pointed it out Eler Beth said, "Oh that's the one with the cute little shelty! I'll miss that dog!" She still knows all the dogs and cats and birds in the neighborhood and identifies the houses by them more so than by the people who live in them.

I also noticed that several houses on the street that have siding have green mold growing on them. My neighbor across the street was talking about how bad it is on one side of her house but that she just can't afford to hire anyone to do anything about it. I guess most of us are in that boat and are having to put off doing some maintenance on our homes.

Well, once again I'm getting this in under the wire, and I don't really have anything interesting to talk about. It has been a typical fall day. Our weather is supposed to be very nice for several days, so hopefully we'll get out with the camera and do some more exploring downtown. I hope everyone is having a very nice fall so far. Ta for now!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Strolling Downtown

It has been very pretty today, so this afternoon I decided that Eler Beth and I would do something I've been meaning to do for quite some time now, and that was visit the Historic District downtown. There are certain little shops that we visit irregularly, but -- especially in this economy -- there are new store fronts popping up all the time. Some new venture will fail and move out and a new one will move in. I remember it was about a year ago that I discovered Jeff Book, a wonderful little bookshop run by and for a charitable organization, and it had been there for a couple of years before I found it. So I'm sure I've probably missed some good ones that have come and gone. (If you click on that link you'll see a small shot of part of Spring Street.)

The buildings on Spring Street remind me a lot of those on Main Street in Hardinsburg, KY, where I'm from. I don't know enough about architecture to teach anything about it to Eler Beth, but there are books at the local library about our historic district and the type of architecture that Downtown Jeff boasts, so we'll probably tie our downtown visits in with some local history lessons. What I do know is that I love looking at the old buildings like those, and it is pleasant just to stroll up and down the street window shopping. Today I particularly wanted to check out any new shop I hadn't noticed before and that looked interesting.

So we parked on Spring St. near the big Chase bank and began our walk going South toward the river. Our plans were to browse all the way down to the overlook and walk back up North Spring to our car. Another day I figured we'd do the intersecting streets as well as Court Avenue, the main four-lane street in the downtown section of town. I forgot my camera, of course, so I won't have pics this time. But if you click on this link and then on the "Historic District" link at the top of the page, you can see some of the examples of architecture there, including Italianate, Victorian Goth, Queen Anne, and others, if that sort of thing interests you. Clicking on the thumbnail picture will enlarge it.

We had only gone a few paces when we found a shop that was new to me called Forever More II. I found a write-up about it in one of the local papers just now. It has been open since June, but I'd never seen it or heard of it. I guess I really should read the local paper more often. The lady who owns it does estate sales and decided that she'd open up a shop to help sell some items. The shop is very well stocked and everything was very prettily arranged, not crowded or slip-shod like some antique stores. Eler Beth and I spent a good 40 minutes browsing and talking to the owner.

Eler Beth found a very old, very pretty French-made fan of bamboo and black lace that we had to have. And in the course of talking to the owner we mentioned Eler Beth's collection of foxes. The owner said at one time she'd had a painting of a fox but thought it had sold, and she gestured over to the area where it had hung. So as we were leaving Eler Beth was keeping her eyes open for it, and she spotted it hanging with some other paintings but partially obscured from our sight by a lamp. I don't know how we had missed it. We had to buy that too of course. It's an actual painting and not a print, and it is very well done.

As for me, I saw a lot of things I would have liked to have had, but I restrained myself. I did get a couple of old books and four beautiful old neckties, the kind that Thomas and Andrew really like, the narrower ties from the sixties. I mentally "bookmarked" a few things, though, that I may have to get if they're still there when my budget allows.

When we left we went next door to Schimpff's to buy a little bit of candy and continued our walk. But we didn't go inside any other shop. We made mental notes of the next places we wanted to visit, walked as far as the newspaper office, then turned and went back to our car. I'm going to try to get back down there again this week while the weather is nice, and I'll take some pictures. Visiting and writing about Downtown Jeff should provide some nice posts this month!

P.S. I should probably link to Eler Beth's blog in case some of you don't have it any more. So here it is.

Monday, November 2, 2009

I Write Where I'm Told

library mice

(I really must start doing my blog post earlier in the day, because if I don't one of these days I'm going to put it off until it's too late. I'll wake up in a sweaty panic around 2 a.m. and realize that I missed a day of posting, and I don't want to go through that -- and you don't want to read about it!)


Okay, so I thought I would write about writing today; specifically about where you write. Is there one place and one place only where you can write or does it matter? I have a desktop and a lap top, so I can write just about anywhere, but if I'm working on a project (like Nov-Nov) sometimes I find that I have to be in a certain place or the muse doesn't visit me.

For example I was working on a project a couple years ago and started it sitting at my kitchen table. My brain sent the right words to my fingers, my fingers flew, the characters started doing and saying things practically on their own. The next day I took my laptop to my bedroom to write so no one would disturb me and . . . nothing! I sat on the bed, I sat at my desk, I sat in an easy chair. Nothing. So the next day when I had some time to myself I sat at the kitchen table again, and the magic was back. Later I tried writing outside on the front porch, in the back yard, in the living room. I could not get anything decent to come unless I was sitting at the kitchen table!

The last big project I worked on I wrote in my bedroom, sitting on my bed. Again, nothing would come to me unless I was writing in that spot in that room. It's very strange I think. I'm a big believer in stories taking over and writing themselves, especially if it's a character-driven story. I've had characters jump up and shout until I noticed them and realized that they were actually more of a major character than I'd planned on them being. Conversely I've had characters kind of huddle down and hide and refuse to say anything until I left them alone. So I suppose it would only make sense for the story to prefer one place of creation over another. Whatever it is, I'm not going to ignore it. If I'm going to be on the computer for a long stretch of time I prefer using my desktop because I have a nice ergonomic chair there, and the desk is just the right height. So Nov-Nov is getting written here at the desktop, and so far it doesn't seem to mind.

I did 898 words yesterday. I had planned on coming back to it after showering and getting ready for bed, but I was just too tired. Today I did 1,018, so the grand total so far is 1,916. That's below par, but it's a good start.

Happy blogging and noveling!

P.S.
Eler Beth decided at almost the last minute that she'd join NaBloPoMo this month too, so she made a post last night, and hopefully she's got one in today by now. Nelishia is doing NaBlo too this month.


Sunday, November 1, 2009

Oh Dear, Oh Dear, Oh Dear!

It's November 1, the first day of National Novel Writing Month, and the first day of National Blog Posting Month. Oh dear, what have I got myself into?

I had meant to have had my first post written quite early this morning, and I was planning on writing the first 1600 words of my November Novel (which I'm calling "Nov Nov" {get it?... get it?!} as a working title, since it doesn't have a title yet) well before this evening, but I still had the remnants this morning of a two-day headache. Only in the past hour has it subsided enough to think, let alone write.

And as for this blog post, I have no idea what to write about!

Oh, wait, yes I do. Or at least I know one thing I want to write about. In the welcome email from NaNoWriMo there were three bits of advice that I thought were very well done, so I'm going to share them here. The first one told us that it is okay to not know what we're doing: "Write every day, and a book-worthy story will appear even if you're not sure what that story might be right now."

The second bit of advice is worth completely quoting here: "Do not edit as you go. Editing is for December. Think of November as an experiment in pure output. Even it it's hard at first, leave ugly prose and poorly written passages on the page to be cleaned up later. Your inner editor will be very grumpy about this, but your inner editor is a nitpicky jerk who foolishly believes that it is possible to write a brilliant first draft if you write it slowly enough. It isn't. Every book you've ever loved started out as a beautifully flawed first draft. In November, embrace imperfection and see where it takes you." I would like to know how they know my inner editor so well!

And their third piece of advice is to tell everyone you know that you're writing a novel in November because "This will pay big dividends in Week Two, when the only thing keeping you from quitting is the fear of looking pathetic in front of all the people who've had to hear about your novel for the past month. . . The looming specter of personal humiliation is a very reliable muse."

There was an addendum to #3, and that was that though there will be times we'll want to quit we must stick it out and see it through. "Week Two can be hard. Week Three is much better. Week Four will make you want to yodel. And we're talking the good kind of yodeling here."

Cool, huh?

Martha is participating in NaBlo this month, and Mara is participating in NaNo, so I have some old J-Land friends to keep me company -- and it's good company at that! So please drop by to give them some support and encouragement.

Well, gotta go for now. Nov-Nov is waiting for me!

P.S. Just found out that Betty and Rose are participating in NaBlo too, so please stop by and check out their posts this month.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Falling Back Into Writing

This Sunday Daylight Savings Time will end and we will fall back to Standard Time. I'm going to see if I can "fall back" into writing beginning November 1, too, even if it's only for the month of November.

I have never before officially participated in NaNoWriMo, but this year I am going to do so. (If you are interested in signing up or just want more info, you can click the image on my sidebar.) I have always worked best with a deadline, so being accountable to the NaNoWriMo community, particularly my own regional group, and seeing my word count online, may speed me on to complete 50,000 words in November, and keep me from taking too much time to think but just WRITE instead.

Also to aid that I have joined NaBloPoMo for November, pledging myself to make a blog post every day for that month. (Again, clicking on the image in my sidebar will take you to that web site.) Making myself write something every day will be a good exercise for me.

I have a new idea for a book and have done no more than make a very sketchy outline for it, so it's good timing for me. I'll simply plunge into writing it on Sunday and at the end of the month we'll see what I've come up with. Forcing myself to just write and not edit or re-write until I've completed 50,000 words will be very difficult for me, I know, but it will be good for me.

For the past three nights I've been reading and commenting on blogs -- have visited about 25 in that time period, some that I hadn't visited in many months. I'm going to keep on visiting a few each day. I have really enjoyed that. So maybe the fog is lifting, and the joy of blogging and reading blogs is coming back to me.

Friday, October 23, 2009

My November "To Be Read" List

In case anyone is interested --

The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco. This book was written in 1983 but somehow escaped my notice. I read a review of it recently and thought it would be something I'd like to read -- a medieval abbey, famous for its library, and someone killing off the monks? How could that not be a great read!

Triangle by Katharine Weber. In 2007 this book won one literary award and was a finalist for two other awards, and was on the long list for a third literary award in 2008. Again, it somehow escaped my notice when it was published but I'll hopefully remedy that in November. This book is a fictional novel based on a real event, the 1911 Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire in New York.

The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley. I read a review of "Sweetness" and knew that I would have to make the acquaintance of 11-year-old detective/heroine Flavia Deluce. Can't wait to read this one!

What Hath God Wrought: The Transformation of America, 1815-1848 by Daniel Walker Howe, Pulitzer Prize for History winner. This is part of The Oxford History of the United States series. I listened to an interview with the author and knew I'd enjoy reading the book.

Anyone care to read one of these along with me and discuss it?

I have a feeling the weather this winter is going to give me plenty of reading time!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

My mother is reading Louis L'Amour

I called Mom recently and in the course of the conversation asked if my sister Barbara had received a book I'd sent her in the mail. She had, and I started talking about how much I'd enjoyed the books she and I had recently read by that particular author, and then Mom told me she was currently reading some Louis L'Amour books that had been my Dad's. She'd never read L'Amour before, she said.

I hope when I'm 85 I'll be making the acquaintance of new (to me) authors as well as picking up old favorites.

I made an entry in I Stand Corrected (see link in sidebar) last night, and that made me want to make an entry here this morning, but I don't really have anything to write about. We're all just "kickin' along" as Thomas would say. There has been too much rain here lately which has knocked Thomas out of work a few times, and with overtime slowing down as well we've had to re-do our budget a bit -- but who hasn't had to do that in these times! I can't believe there are parts of the country that have already had snow/ice-related deaths! I'm not looking forward to a bad winter.

I had to take my SUV to our mechanic yesterday, but the news wasn't as bad as I'd been afraid it would be. Seems a metal piece on an axle had broken off and was somehow affecting my anti-lock brakes. Less than $300 to fix it, which was better than what we'd feared -- we were afraid it could be something like a tie-rod, and the mechanic said that his first fear was that it was something else that could have run into a thousand. We'll take good news where we can get it.

Andrew and Eler Beth are fine. Yesterday Eler Beth was mixing up her words, and she told me her head was on the fritz. I liked that description. My head goes on the fritz a lot lately. And that makes me wonder where that expression came from, so I think I know what I'll be researching when I get off here.

I wrote a short story in my head last week, but when I went to put it on paper it was not at all like it had been in my mind. So I guess I was premature with it. It wasn't ready to come out yet. I'll try again later.

I hope everyone is doing well. I won't promise to get by to visit, but I will, you know -- I'm just not going to make a promise of it. I have been reading at least one blog a day since the first day of October, hoping to catch up with everyone, and I'm sure your turn is coming.

Well, the cat is sitting on my chest now and making it plain that he expects my hands to stop playing with this keyboard and start addressing his own needs, so I'll close this for now.

Take care all and have a good week.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

For Alma, Wherever She Is


Isn't it strange how obscure memories can pop into our minds at odd times? It happens to me a lot these days. I'll have a brief flash of memory of a place, a road, or a house I haven't been to in decades. A face I haven't seen or a name I haven't heard since I was a child will suddenly pop into my head.


Recently while I was puttering around the house that's what happened. Alma popped into my mind.


Alma was a black woman, probably in her late twenties or early thirties, a tall, slim lady with sad, brown eyes and long hands with tapering fingers. I was about nine years old when my mother took me with her to meet Alma.


In the town where I'm from the ratio of African American to Caucasian was (and probably still is) pretty small. I'm from a Northern Kentucky small town in a very rural county -- no industry to speak of --, one of the largest counties in Kentucky. The native population of African American was made up of the descendants of slaves for the most part. There were very few black people out in the county, but small populations of African Americans could be found in each of the three major "towns" in the county (population 2400 or less), and they usually lived within their own prescribed neighborhoods. (I can only think of a couple of local educators who were black and who lived in white communities in my hometown when I was a child.)


There were two such black neighborhoods in my home town, and they went by indelicate names. One was near the feed mill and was made up of small houses and mobile homes. It wasn't extremely isolated from the whites, though; you could turn a corner and be in an all-white neighborhood. The other was more secluded from its white neighbors and consisted of a lodge, a church, a few decent houses and a lot of what can only be described as shacks. This is where Alma lived.

My mother and our friend Julie (the one who died of breast cancer last year) were teaching Alma to read, or at least trying to. And sometimes I would go with them when they visited her. She really wanted to learn to read, although it was quite a struggle for her. I can remember being embarrassed for her because I could read and she couldn't.

Alma lived in a shack that was the remains of a burned-out house if I remember correctly. I remember that part of the house was enclosed but the rest of it was out in the open. She had fashioned a sort of living area right out in what should have been a yard. She had rugs on the ground, a sofa and chairs, and a few tables, all arranged very nicely, but completely in the open. I think there was a part that connected this lawn-room with the enclosed part of the house that was partially covered, and if I remember correctly there was a stove in this part; a wood stove with burners.

She would offer us a glass of water or cup of coffee when we came, and once she had cookies. She was always sweet to me.

A couple of times when I was there a man came up and pushed his way into the lesson. Even at that age I knew the man was drunk or had at least been drinking. He would talk badly to Alma and I can remember her bowing her head and not looking him in the eyes, and I knew she was so embarrassed. He would get sarcastic with my mom and Julie, too, and he would bad-mouth them and make fun of Alma for trying to learn to read. He said she never would, that she was too dumb. I don't know if he was her "man" or if he was a family member. My mother and Julie inspired me during those visits because they remained very calm. I saw the spark of anger in my mother's eyes and the fire leaping out of Julie's, but they held back. They stayed calm, but they answered him back firmly when he spoke to them. They didn't let him shake them, and they didn't leave, but remained "ladies" through it all. They waited for him to get tired of his game and then went on with their visit and their lesson.

I probably only went with them four or five times, but I can actually close my eyes and see her and her "house" clearly even after all these years. Within just a few years all the shacks and falling-down houses in that neighborhood were gone and the area was built up with new houses and modular homes. When I saw Mom on Saturday I brought up Alma and Mom told me that Alma had eventually moved in with a relative in a proper house. I asked Mom if she had ever learned to read, and she said that she had not as far as she knew. But she had loved the visits and she at least learned her alphabet and how to read a few small words.

Like I said, I don't know why this woman came to my mind, but I'm glad I had the opportunity to go with my Mom and Julie when they visited her. At even just nine years old I was impressed by her quiet dignity when she welcomed us into her "home", which, such as it was, was kept clean and neat. I learned a wonderful lesson from my Mother and Julie about patience and brotherly love, and that it is possible to be angry in the face of ignorance and hate without reacting in kind, to stay cool and calm, to answer reasonably when the person you're answering is being unreasonable, and that being a lady doesn't mean being weak.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

I'm Baaackkk


Well, maybe I am.

At least I'm here for now. What have we been up to this summer? Too many things to write about right now. I really got out of my good routines over the summer. We had so many things going on, family visiting, and little mini-vacations (a couple that were spontaneous, which was nice). The weather has been so strange, too. We had temps in the 90s in June and so far August has been way cooler than normal. We've had so much rain this summer that it has been hard to keep up with the yard and I just let a lot of my flower beds practically go to the weeds.

Andrew turned 20, so we're back to only one teenager in the house again. Thomas has worked much less overtime as the bad economy finally touched his job. But that means he's been home on the weekends, so we've been taking advantage of that -- see the mini-vacation line above! He just almost changed jobs because he saw a bad trend happening at work, but at the last minute changed his mind. And we're glad he did. There are some changes coming where he works, but we don't now believe they are going to affect him adversely. In any event, he'll ride it out and then we'll go from there.

I got back into following FlyLady this past month. I'm so glad I did. I really needed her fussing at me to get me to get my routines set up again so things will go smoothly when classes start full-time for Eler Beth next week. Also I've been doing a lot of writing -- just not here! --, and having everything organized has made it much easier to write regularly. I have two manuscripts sent off to a published-author acquaintance of mine for critiquing, and I'm very happy to finally have them finished to my satisfaction. Now we'll just see what we'll see, as my Mom would say.

And speaking of my Mom, I spent the day with her on Saturday while Thomas and Eler Beth took my nephew and his wife and son fishing all day. My Mom is 85 and she just about wore me out just from watching her on Saturday. When we got there she made everyone breakfast, which included sausage-gravy and home made biscuits. Then before anyone else could get to them she started doing the dishes. Then she was snapping beans, making cherry preserves, sorting through some pictures and scrapbook items, and more. Then she finished by making dinner, of course. The whole time I was there she was busy with something. (I didn't just sit there idle, while she was busy, so please don't think I did! lol) My sister Barbara said that the day before Mom had started cleaning off the back porch and then washing down the siding on the front of the house from the front porch, up as high as she could reach. If Barbara hadn't come along when she did, Mom probably would have gotten out a ladder and finished it up! Well, maybe not, but we just never know with that one! I asked her about that and told her she had no business doing that kind of cleaning outside (quaking in my shoes as I was saying it, of course!), and she told me that the siding was dirty and needed the dead bugs washed off it, so she DID have business doing it too! And so I shut up.

She does have days when she's tired and just "does nothing much", or so she says, but I have an idea that even on those days she does more than most of us do!

So, anyway, I've had a busy summer and I hope to write here a bit more as things get into a good routine again. I have lots of ideas for entries, if I would just write them!

I hope everyone is doing well and enjoying the summer months, or getting settled back into the school routine. Please take care, and I'll try to drop by soon.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Wow! What's Wrong With Me?

I did three entries last month, and I think two the month before. Whatever is wrong with me???

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Copper

Eler Beth's flying squirrel, Copper:














Copper in his little fuzzy bed, eating a pecan
.

Doesn't he have a cute feathery tail?













And big eyes?


























"Okay, Mom, that's enough pictures!"

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Explanation of our Cooler Weather

A few days ago Eler Beth observed how cool the temps have been in our area and came to a conclusion.

"Must be all those people going green!"

Photobucket

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Facebook


Yes, Facebook can be very time-consuming. But this evening I was reminded of one of the reasons I like it so much.

First I saw the name of an old high school classmate of mine in a comment on another friend's profile. So I contacted her, and now we're in touch again. Hours later I logged in to see that I had a friend request from another old classmate of mine -- "OMG, Lori, is that you? It's me!" --, and then only minutes after that, while I was still responding to "OMG", I got a private email from a girl with whom I'd worked at the newspaper before I was married (she was two years ahead of me in school, too), and it was especially wonderful to hear from her. She and I spent a lot of late-night hours putting the paper to bed and getting punchy and silly over nothing. I learned that her son, who was a baby the last time I saw him, is now a college graduate and married, and she has remarried and has two daughters now.

Yes, it is nice to hear from people we haven't seen or heard of in years. To be fair, though, I don't think I'd be spending much time blogging anyway, even without Facebook. I just got out of the mood and out of the mode for a while. However, the past few days I have had entries writing themselves in my mind, so one just might make its way out of my head and into the blogosphere before too long.

This spring has been super busy for me -- graduations, weekend mini-vacations, terms ending, relatives having surgery. (I was SO tempted, Beth, to put "and so on" or "etc." at the end of that sentence, but I didn't, just for you! lol) I've read or skimmed through blogs but have not left many comments lately. We are all well, and busy, and happy, and I guess I can't ask for more than that.

Hope everyone is well out there and enjoying their summer. Ta for now!