Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Getting in a December Post

I really meant to post this month, truly I did. But it proved to be a very busy and a bit stressful month, and for the last week I've been sick with a head and chest cold that has made me miserable. I am feeling quite a bit better, though, and I am thankful that I haven't had the stomach bug a lot of people have had around here.

Nothing really to say tonight, I just wanted to make one last post for 2013. Hope everyone has had a nice evening, and I hope that 2014 is everything you want it to be!


Sunday, December 1, 2013

Ruminating on Stobs and Seasoning Sheets

Well, I made 26 posts last month, so although I didn't complete NaBloPoMo, at least I posted more than I have in previous months this year, and a few of the posts were even halfway decent!

Yesterday was a gorgeous day! After several days in a row of cold temps and rain, 50+° and sunshine was very welcome. I even hung some laundry out. Any time I can keep from using a dryer, I will do it! I may have written about this before, but once I was drying some sheets out on the line, and I said to Thomas, "My sheets are probably almost totally dry. I'm going to bring them in to season them." And I kind of shocked myself, because I couldn't remember having used that term before. But Mom used to say it a lot. She'd have something that she had mostly dried outside, then she'd bring it in and "season" it in the dryer or (in the wintertime, especially) in front of the fire. 

I looked at Thomas with a shocked expression on my face and said, "Did I just say 'season'? Where did that come from?" I was just surprised to hear it come out of my mouth, because it wasn't something I normally would say, and I didn't have any conscious thought of using the word. And Thomas said, "Yes, you did, and surprisingly I know what you mean!"

I find that more and more often a word or phrase from my childhood will pop out of my mouth before I can stop it. For example, not too long ago I cautioned Eler Beth to "watch out for that stob" when we were walking through some woods. She said, "What's a stob?!"

Did you ever run around barefoot when you were a kid and step on a stob? Well I did, and I can still recall the pain. Stubbing your toe on one was just about as bad as cutting your foot. And if it cut your foot, it would almost invariably be on the soft arch or under or between your toes; wherever it would be the most painful while it healed. 

I was thinking about the word "stob" today, so I decided to see where it originated. I found conflicting information. One source says it is from a Gaelic word, and it would make sense that my Scottish and Irish parents would have used the word. Another source says it comes from a Middle English word meaning stump. I'll have to do more digging. Anyway, regardless of the origin, in my little world it's a broken off or cut off stump of a small tree, bush, or thick weed, even, that sticks up out of the ground just enough to either stub your toe on it or step on it and cut your foot.

Okay, so I've started off December with a post, and I'll try to post several times this month, even if I don't post every day.

Saturday, November 30, 2013


That was my final word count when I sent my "novel" in to be verified today. So I made it past the 50,000 word count goal by the end of the month.  I learned a lot and now have a lot of editing and fixing to do. I realized I need to do a bit more research in some areas as well, and, of course, the book will end up being much longer than these 55,000 words. December will be a busy month, but hopefully I'm in the habit now of sitting down and writing almost every day. So even if I have to throw out half of what I wrote this month (or more), it was worth it!

Monday, November 25, 2013

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Ice Skating

I told Eler Beth I needed to do my blog post but didn't know what to post about. So she told me to post about the ice skating rink in town opening up this weekend. So I am.

We don't have any permanent ice skating rinks in our town, although there are a couple across the river in Louisville. But a couple years ago they put up a temporary rink in downtown Jeffersonville during the holidays, and it was so popular they left it up through most of January and then brought it back last year.

Eler Beth is a very good roller skater -- since she could walk, she could skate! And a few years ago she had her first chance at ice skating. Last year she made it to the rink here in Jeff and had such a great time! She wore her Necomimi fox ears when she went, and the little kids got a kick out of that. She's a good ice skater and is looking forward to the rink opening this Friday. 

So I'll try to get some pictures and maybe some video of her.

And hey, I'm right on track with my NaNoWriMo novel -- I'm actually a bit ahead at the moment!!

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Observant and Confident Daughters

For Better or For Worse, Thursday, November 21, 2013

This reminds me of Eler Beth. I can remember working a lot of overtime when she was about 4 years old, and sometimes Thomas would start dinner for me. He would tell me how she would know exactly where I kept everything, and she would correct him if he cooked or cleaned anything differently from me. "That's not how Mom does it," she'd say, and then proceed to tell him how to do it. He took it with good grace.

When our local Meijer first opened, it was the first store in our area with the self checkout, U-Scan lanes. Once when she was about four years old, she was in there with her Dad, checking out, and it was one of the first times he'd used the self checkout. Whatever it was he was trying to buy wouldn't scan. He kept running it over the scanner, but for some reason it wouldn't scan. (Apparently he wasn't doing it right! lol)  She couldn't even see over the top of the counter, but, without saying a word, she reached up, took the item from him and ran it across the scanner.  The scanner beeped, and she popped it into the bag. Thomas said an elderly couple in line behind him burst out laughing. 

That's my girl! She has always been observant and confident, and ready to take charge when needed!

Friday, November 22, 2013


Andrew dropped by after work this morning to see if Eler Beth wanted to go run some errands with him. She was still asleep. Here's how he reported the conversation they had.

Andrew: "Hey, Eler Beth, do want to go to Game Stop with me?"

Eler Beth: "I don't have all the pieces."

A: "What?"

EB: "Some of the pieces are missing."

A: "Pieces of what?"

EB: "The jigsaw puzzle. In my head. I don't have all the pieces."

Andrew to me when he came out of her room: "She's not going anywhere for a while."

He told me what she'd said, and I thought, you know what? If I had a jigsaw puzzle in my head, there would most certainly be missing pieces!

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Boring Post

I don't have anything to write about. I know why I forgot to make a post two nights ago. I was having a bout of sciatica and nothing seemed to help. So I took half of a Tylenol 4 which certainly took away the pain but also made me extremely sleepy. So I went to bed early and forgot about my post.

And that's my boring post for tonight. 

P.S. Does anyone else have unsolicited ads showing up on their blogspot blogs? I do, and I don't like it!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Oh No!!

I don't know how or why, but I forgot to make a post yesterday!! So I guess I've blown NaBloPoMo for this year!

Oh well, I'll go ahead and finish the month out, TRYING to remember to post every day for the rest of the month. Can't believe I did that!!

Monday, November 18, 2013

"There's Rosemary,..."

I had a letter to mail to my sister Barbara today, and Eler Beth had a card she was sending to her as well, so she was picking out "flower" stamps to put on them. She took her time over it and explained to me afterward that she knew what some flowers were supposed to stand for, so she liked to pick them out carefully when putting a stamp on an envelope.

So of course I had to throw in some Shakespeare. I said, "There's rosemary, that's for remembrance;...." Then I just sort of trailed off. "Hmm," I said. "I used to know that whole piece. But now I can't remember it."

Our eyes immediately flew to one another's. I could see that she was thinking the same thing I was. So I let her say it.

"Well, I guess you need some rosemary, then!"

I set myself up big time there, didn't I?

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Stormy Weather in November

We've had about 24 hours of stormy, windy weather in these parts. But, thankfully, it didn't get as bad as they had at first thought it might. Central Illinois, on the other hand, had some devastating storms and tornadoes. We may not be out of the woods yet.  Sixty and seventy degree temperatures in November combined with thunderstorms is not usual.

Instead of thinking about our stormy weather, I thought I'd post Lena Horne's Stormy Weather. It's much nicer.


Saturday, November 16, 2013

Tired of Writing


I've typed my fingers off today. Got up to over 24,000, so I'm pleased. 

Today was the first day of gun season. Thomas got a big doe this afternoon. It moved past Eler Beth too fast for her to get a shot off, but a few seconds later she heard Thomas' shotgun and saw the deer drop. I'm a bit surprised they got anything with the weather the way it was yesterday and today.  And tomorrow we're supposed to have storms, so I doubt they'll go out. Looks like her next chance will next weekend.

And that's all for tonight folks!

Friday, November 15, 2013

At The Half-Way Point

Well today is the halfway point. I'm a little behind. As of tonight my word count is 21,439, behind by 3,561. But tomorrow will be a good opportunity to make a start on getting caught up.

It's the first day of gun season here in Indiana, so Thomas and Eler Beth will be out all day from 3 in the morning. If they happen to get what they want early in the day, they may be home fairly early, but usually they make a whole day of it on opening day. I do hope they get a couple because my freezer is getting empty!

Anyway, with them gone all day and Andrew at his own place, although he may drop by for a while in the morning, I'll have the whole day to write if I want to. So I'm planning a writing marathon. My daily goal is always 1,667 words, but to catch up I would need to average 1,786 words each day. I want to get at least that tomorrow, but I'd really like to do a 3,000 word day. That would almost get me caught up. Let's hope I find some inspiration throughout the day because I'm kind of at a point in the story that is dragging a bit. I took a detour away from my outline and thought it was going to work, but now I'm not sure and don't know where to go with it.

So here's wishing all of us a good and productive day tomorrow!!

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Gifts for Book Nerds and Other Unique Gift Ideas

Short post today because I'm battling sinus pressure and don't feel like writing. My face hurts!

16 Fancy Gifts for Book Nerds

I especially like #s 3, 4, 5, 12, and 16.  Which are your favorites?

And as a bonus:

Set of 6 Grammar Grumble Mugs 

My favorites are "figuratively" and "loose and lose." That whole web site has some wonderful gift ideas. I haven't even had the time to go through all of them yet. I have oh so very discreetly brought it to Andrew's, Eler Beth's, and Thomas' attention. My sister Barbara makes things with altered books, and some of the things on this site remind me of some of the things she makes.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

There's Almost Always A Reason


And I finally figured out what the reason was....



 For most of us there are family stories about things we did or said when we were little that would give our families a chuckle for years to come. Stories that could be pulled out and laughed over at family gatherings, or actions or sayings that we laugh about, repeat, or tease each other about in a good-natured way.

Well, I was quite a Momma's baby when I was little, and I provided my sisters with a lot of things to tease me about or bring up when I got older. I really was quite attached to Mom, and I can actually remember standing at the back door, waiting for Mom to come open it for me (because I couldn't reach the doorknob), and one of my siblings came to do it for me. I screamed, "No! I Want MOMMA To Do It!!"  And that wasn't the only occasion where that phrase was screamed. So that became a family saying. My sisters would say that my "chickens came home to roost," when my daughter was born, because I was blessed with a daughter of my own who was figuratively glued to my hip for most of her younger years, and we frequently heard some form of my own famous line, "No! I want Momma to do it!" It was only fair, I suppose. 

But there was one action on my part having to do with my attachment to my mom that really did have a reasonable origin.

When I was very young and lasting probably until I started school, I did not like my mother to take naps on the living room sofa. Poor dear, she was 42 when I was born, and even though the two oldest had moved out by the time I was a toddler, she still had a house full of kids. I know she needed a nap now and then, and I hate that I tried to disturb them, especially now that I'm in my 40s and need my own daily naps.  But at the time I really, really did not want her to nap. After she would fall asleep on the couch, I would pat her on the cheek and say, "Momma! Momma, please don't go to sleep." I'd keep doing that until she'd either get up or make me leave her alone. And my feelings were always terribly hurt if Mom disciplined me in any way, even if it was just with a dark look or a threatened punishment, so I'm sure I went away crying if she made me leave her alone.  

I can remember bringing my toys over close to the sofa and staying near her, occasionally patting her on the cheek and asking her to get up. And I can remember doing that sometimes when one of the other girls was at home, and they would tell me to "leave Momma alone!"

For years when I was older, that was a family joke, a tale on Lori. I always knew that there was some reason I did that because when it was brought up, although I'd laugh about it, I could also remember the feeling I had when I was doing it. It was a panicky feeling, a desperation, a fear. I just didn't know where it was coming from.  Until one day it hit me, and I knew.

I was four years old when my Grandmother Dowell died.  Her health had started getting bad, and her mind had started wandering about a year or so before she passed away.  She lived with my father's brother Harlan, or rather he lived with her in the house where she raised her 12 children, almost directly across the road from our house.  When the family started worrying about her being at home alone, Uncle Harlan would bring her over to our house on his way to work, so Mom could keep an eye on her. 

I can remember her coming in, dressed in an old-fashioned house dress, with her old-fashioned apron on, and Mom would brush out her hair and braid it for her first thing.  She had long, thick, iron-gray hair, and she usually wore it in a braided bun at the nape of her neck, or sometimes she just wore a single braid down her back. I can remember watching Mom brush out her hair, braid it for her, and then wind it into a braided knot and pin it for her. I don't have any other vivid memories of her being there at the house during the day, except that I can remember bringing my toys over and playing near her. I'm sure that if she was able, she helped Mom with household things, because Mamaw Dowell was never an idle woman. But what I do remember most about her being there was that she always -- always! -- took a nap in the afternoon, on the living room sofa.

Well, Mamaw napped on our sofa, and then one day Mamaw wasn't there any more. That was the first death I had ever had to deal with. It was the first funeral I can remember going to. It was the first time I can remember going to a grave yard and watching someone be buried. I don't remember feelings of sadness or confusion; I don't remember how I was told or if I asked any questions about it. I remember going to the funeral at the big Methodist Church in Hardinsburg and that it was packed with 11 of Mamaw's children, their spouses, their children, and in some cases, their grandchildren, not to mention other family members and friends. I can remember that I wasn't allowed to walk into the church with my Mom and Dad because all the children and their spouses were supposed to go in together and sit in the front, and I had to go in with my sisters. I remember crying about that. I can remember that I was sitting between my sister, Lois, 14 at the time, and my cousin Stuart (on whom I had my first ever crush -- he had sideburns!), and I started to fall asleep. I kept leaning over toward Stuart in my sleep, and I would wake up with a start, then do it all over again.  I can remember my sister Maxine, who was sitting behind us, tapping Lois on the shoulder and saying, "Pick that baby up!"  So Lois had to hold me for the rest of the service.

I can remember the drive to the grave yard -- not even a mile down the road from our house, where most of my Dowell and Roberts ancestors are buried. And I can remember the little tent top they put up over the grave, and the fake grass carpeting they put there with the chairs for the immediate family to sit. 

At some point in my early twenties I realized that the reason I didn't want Mom to nap on the couch was because I associated that with Mamaw and her death. So the next time the subject was brought up I told my Mom and my sisters what I'd figured out.  I told them that I'd always known there was a reason for it, because of the memory of how I had felt, but I had never known what the reason was, and couldn't have put the feelings into words when I was younger. And it made so much sense to them. It wasn't just a momma's baby wanting all of mom's attention, begrudging the lady even a half hour's nap during a busy day, exerting power, or getting her way. It was a little girl who'd seen a certain daily routine carried out; a routine that ended suddenly and with a finality that she couldn't fully understand.  

Sometimes my patting Momma on the cheek and begging her not to go to sleep will still come up in the context of family talk; it will get a smile.  And that's okay.  It was always okay, but now it's even more okay, because we understand what was behind it.  

Sometimes there's a very good reason for the way a child -- or an adult, for that matter -- acts, even though we may think they have no good reason or excuse. And that's a very good thing to keep in mind. 

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Bub, Duke, Honey, and Jo Jo

Eler Beth and I were talking recently about pets, and I was trying to remember when was the earliest I could recall having a pet, or the earliest pets I could remember.

There's Bub, of course. Bub belonged to my Grandmother Dowell whose house was almost directly across the road from ours. He was long-haired, mostly white with some light brown patches. My memory of him is that he was kind of medium to medium-large, but I was pretty little, so that memory could be skewed. I'll have to see if I can find a picture of him. I don't know where she got him, or if he actually belonged to my Uncle Harlan, one of my Dad's bachelor brothers who lived with Mamaw Dowell until she died. I'd say he was a collie/shepherd mix, with who knows what else thrown in.

He loved Mamaw and would walk with her over to our house and back when she was still feeling up to walking over by herself.  He was very, very protective of her.  He would also meet me in the drive when I was allowed to walk over to Mamaw's by myself (with Mom watching, unknown to me), and he'd walk me home. He always seemed to know when Mom was frying chicken or baking biscuits, and he'd wait at the back door for a hand-out. 

I think his real name was "Whitey," but at some point he became just "Bub." He was a sweetie and loved kids. And if someone said to him, "Awww, poor old Bub," in a slow, sorrowful drawl, he'd lie down on his side and make a sound between a whine and a howl that sounded for all the world like he was saying, "AwWwwW." And then of course he'd get a belly rub. I don't remember when or how Bub died, but I'm pretty sure it was from old age, and it was after my Mamaw died in 1970.

Another dog I can remember from my early childhood was my sister P.J.'s dog, Duke. He was a Rhodesian Ridgeback, smart as a whip, and loyally in love with P.J.  He would do anything for her. I think she had him before and after she was married, and as she married when I was about 5, I was probably pretty little when she first got him.  I can remember him knocking me down one time, accidentally, and licking my face, and I said to him, "Aw, dawdie! Aw, Doot!"  And that became a family story. I must have been pretty little if I couldn't pronounce doggie or Duke correctly, but I can remember it well. I was standing at the back door, waiting for someone to open the door for me, and when they opened it, Duke ran in and knocked me down. I wasn't really mad at him, though. He was a sweetie too.

The third dog I can remember from when I was really young was Honey.  She was honey-colored, small to medium, and that's really all I can remember about her, except that she was my sister Barbara's dog, and Barbara told me she'd share her with me. So Honey was my very first dog. The only other thing I remember about her, though, was that she got hit by a car, and we buried her directly across the road in what we called "the sand banks."  Over the years a lot of our fur babies were buried there.  Barbara put up a wooden marker for her and engraved her name on it. For many, many years it stood there, weathered but stuck tight, and you could still make out the letters spelling "Honey" when I was a teenager. 

Then there was Jo Jo.  He was sort of my dog, too. He belonged to my Dad's youngest brother, my Uncle Leonard. Uncle Leonard and his family moved into Mamaw's house after she died, and Uncle Harlan bought and moved into a mobile home and set it up on acreage he owned directly across from Mamaw's house (which he also owned), and next to my Dad's property.  Jo Jo had a habit of coming over to our house too. He was a standard poodle mixed with something that gave him some weight to go with his height. His hiar was solid black with lovely curls hair that were never clipped. I don't know why Uncle Leonard gave him to me, but he was technically the first dog I ever owned on my own.  I have no idea what happened to him, though. Perhaps he just died of old age. I didn't have him long, and I don't remember grieving for him, but perhaps I did.  Honey's death is really the first pet death that I can remember being aware of.

Well, anyway, those were the dogs of my extreme babyhood and youth.   

Monday, November 11, 2013

I Guess It's Time To Get A Smartphone

I've held off long enough. My really, really good, really, really old Samsung is starting to mess up on me. I recently got Thomas a Samsung Galaxy III, and we brought him into the 21st Century, kicking and screaming. Now it's my turn. 

I have nothing against them. I just never have seen my need for a phone that does everything that I don't really need it to do. And from what I've seen of some smart phones, they do everything but make calls. However, the Galaxy III is pretty sweet, and it does seem to make calls as well as everything else.

Part of me wants to hold off until the last second, though; until my old Samsung flip phone breathes its last breath. But Thomas is tired of it fading out at random times when he calls me, so he says I'm getting a new phone this week. Guess I will.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Who Was I Trying To Kid?

First of all, I haven't had time this past weekend to work on my NaNoNovel or to come up with a decent blog post. I did finish editing a short story for someone, so I guess my brain did get some exercise.
So will my muse whisper to me tomorrow? I sure hope so.

On another note, I don't know why I thought I would be calm and cool when both my kids became independent or semi-independent. Andrew has his own place and is 24 years old, and I realized this afternoon after he left our house that I was pretty much holding my breath until he called to say he'd gotten home safely. That probably won't end any time soon, will it? 

And now that Eler Beth has her license and is coming and going on her own more often my worry level has gone into full-blown MOM-mode. (And is it bad that I worry about Andrew when he's on the road more than I worry about Eler Beth? She's the better driver and has more common sense. Is that a gender thing?)

Well all my chicks are home safe (and so is the old rooster, haha) so I'm off to bed. It has been a long weekend and a long day. I'll try to get some writing done and come up with something interesting to blog about tomorrow. Or not.


Saturday, November 9, 2013

Remember the Wonder Twins?

I was rather proud of myself for coming up with the speech bubbles for this one!

Friday, November 8, 2013

Beautiful Weather; Stressful Day

I'm not feeling a long blog post tonight, and I haven't written any for NaNoWriMo today. That's okay, I'll make it up. I'm doing pretty well for the first week, anyway. (See sidebar.)

The weather was really beautiful today, but I didn't have much of a chance to enjoy it.  Today was the memorial service for a very dear, elderly friend of ours who died on Tuesday. She was 84 years old and one of the sweetest, happiest, liveliest ladies I know. She thought the world of Andrew and Eler Beth, and they loved her too. I love that my kids have always had good friends of older generations. It's good for the older ones and the younger ones.

Anyway, her service was today, so I was busy shopping and cooking for the gathering afterward. The service was lovely. She and her husband, whose health isn't that good, had been married for 35 years. It was a second marriage for both of them. He is black, and she was white, the oldest mixed-race couple I knew. Both of her sons from her first marriage were there, along with many of her grandchildren and great-grandchildren, and two of his three surviving children were there as well. All together with her own and the steps, she had 5 living children, and 34 grandchildren and great-grandchildren. She was a lovely woman, and we will miss her.

This evening was busy too, and I am only now getting a chance to stop and make a blog post. I just almost skipped it; decided I didn't care, and I'd just not worry about making it through NaBlo without missing a post. But there's still a little time before midnight, and my perfectionism kicked in, so here I am.  It isn't much of one, but it's all I've got. 

So goodnight for now, and I'll be back tomorrow. Same bat time, same bat station.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Poodwaddle World Clock

This is rather interesting and something else we can waste our time on.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Cat Fonts and BitStrips

Veronica over at California Dreamin' Squirrel introduced me to these neat 

Isn't that neat? I can't seem to get the HTML to work, but you can save the image and place it like a picture or copy and paste. The web site is NekoFont.

In other news...

Have you noticed your FB friends posting BitStrips lately? I have seen some that are really quite cute, and I've been impressed with how much some of the avatars can be made to look like the real person. So I finally gave in and downloaded the BitStrip app and the desktop program, and I posted a couple of them today. One was of me with my sister, P.J., since she's been posting some funny ones lately. 

I thought my kids would think they were funny, too, but for some reason Eler Beth doesn't like them at all. I think Andrew is neutral regarding them. Well I think they're fun as well as funny! And hey, if you can find something interactive on the web that is clean and funny and that makes your friends smile or laugh, why not use it? If anyone doesn't like them, they can always hide the app on Facebook.

Beware! I will probably post some BitStrips on my blog as well. Below is the one I posted today. Dee is our eldest sister and the high speed chase is sort of family joke.

   Okay, so Goodnight All! (Hey I got the HTML to work!)

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

My Sister May Not Be Teaching Much Longer

I have a lot of respect for the teaching profession and for good teachers. I also know that a teacher is more a slave to bureaucracies and state and federal teaching standards than they have ever been in the past. My sister who has been a teacher for almost 30 years is thinking of retiring sooner than she had planned simply because she doesn't feel like she can do any real good any longer. She has, and I quote from a recent letter from her, 

"... just about come to the conclusion that teaching isn't for me.  Only took 27 years to figure it out, too.  Or maybe it's just that the joy of teaching has vanished due to the fact that we no longer get to teach because we are always assessing students to see their strengths and weaknesses to guide our teaching, but we don't have time to teach because we are spending so much time testing.   Therefore, there is really no need to test or assess because I can already tell you that my kids don't know it because I haven't had time to teach it because I'm testing.  Everyone and his brother wants to mandate what goes on with education without a clue as to what is age appropriate.  At least that's how it seems.  There is so much more that I could say, but won't." 

School in Wales won't be giving out home work

At first thought I rather liked the idea. I had a really big problem with the amount of homework Andrew was bringing home when he was in school, and it was starting to get ridiculous for Eler Beth before I started home schooling her. It was one of the factors in our decision to home school. I do believe that home work is important and can be a valuable educational tool. Completing and turning in home work and scheduling time for home work can teach responsibility, be a source of self-confidence and pride, and provide good opportunities for parents to be a part of their children's education. But there should be a limit.

I first read about this school in a BBC article. It is a school in Wales, UK, that will open next year with plans for giving out no homework. It is a free school that will service about 1,100 students from 11 to 18 years old. The downsize is that students will not be dismissed until around 5 p.m. which would mean children would be traveling home during "rush hour." The purpose of the no homework policy, according to the prospective principal of the Jane Austen Academy, Claire Heald, is to allow families more free time together in the evenings. 

"Rather than setting homework that students could go home and struggle with, and where there may be limited access to computers, they will do that in the school day.  We are saying that when they go home they should enjoy quality family time....There will not be any traditional homework and that has been really well received by parents who respect the fact that family time will be family time."

Students will be expected to study at home for tests and will have a longer school day in which to complete their school work. It will be interesting to see how this works out. Other schools have actively reduced the amount of home work sent home with students, and apparently this isn't the first school in the UK to ban homework. There has been quite a debate about it in the media, and I have been interested in reading what both sides have to say.

There are children who don't have a home life that is conducive to home work, and there are children who either can't or won't be motivated to sit down and do their home work. I can't help but think that this policy would actually help them.

What do you think? 

Links to relative articles above.


Monday, November 4, 2013

Back to Cooking

I'm still in some pain, but it's so much better. I managed to cook dinner tonight. Did a pork loin roast with broccoli and rice on the side. I like to use pineapple wine when I do a pork loin, and man, was it good!! I think it's the best one I've ever made. Thomas always makes enough pineapple wine for me to have on hand to cook with. We actually have some friends who like it to drink, but I like to cook with it. 

Eler Beth has really come in handy this past weekend. She has run errands for me, done grocery shopping, and driven me when I needed it. It's nice to have a trustworthy daughter with her license. I did write today, but not too much; still hurts to sit up too long.

So anyway, this is my NaBlo post for today. Not too interesting, but it's going to have to do for now.

Later dudes!

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Yes, Tonight I'm There

I had something sort of planned to write about for my third NaBlo post today, but I can't get my brain to work right for that topic. And I can't come up with anything else, so this is it for today folks. My back is feeling better, but not 100%; I'm still groggy, and my brain is still foggy, so I'm off to bed, and hopefully tomorrow I will produce something more interesting that this. : )

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Regal Bryant Helms Is One Year Old

At Bass Pro Shop he couldn't figure out why those "dogs" wouldn't play with him!

I must get this posted before I pass out. I stretched today and pulled something in my upper back. Now I can't turn my head very far in either direction or tuck my chin down. I took a painkiller -- usually only take half of one because a whole one knocks me out. The half didn't touch it, so I took the other half.  It has eased up some of the pain, but not all of it. I'm sitting here in my high-backed desk chair with a pillow supporting my upper back, neck, and head, and I'm starting to feel a bit woozy.  

Bryant turned one year old yesterday. Today Eler Beth took him to Feeder's Supply to bathe him. He didn't care for it; it wasn't like getting a bath at home! But Eler Beth loved it!! They have bathing stations there where you can wash your own dog for $10.00. For a big, eighty pound dog like Bryant that is very convenient and economical. She drove him there by herself in her truck, and then she took him to Bass Pro Shop for the first time. This was their first adventure by themselves, no one else along for the ride. I thought I would post some of the pictures she took, as well as some of his 8-week-old pictures to show how big he's grown.

 "It's right behind me, isn't it?!?"

He has a noble mein, doesn't he?
Eight Weeks Old

Friday, November 1, 2013

At The End Of Day One

Not bad for the first day! My goal was 1,667.

Pep Talks from James Patterson and Rainbow Rowell

NaBloPoMo Post #1


Welcome to November 1, 2013, Day One of NaNoWriMo and NaBloPoMo. I thought I would share the pep talk emails we got from James Patterson and Rainbow Rowell this past week. I enjoyed them and pulled a quote from Rowell that I think I'll use as my signature line for a while.

James Patterson's Pep Talk

Rainbow Rowell's Pep Talk

"That’s not writing, I thought, that’s just piling up words.
But then I thought about how wonderful it would be to have a pile of 50,000 words…" -- Rainbow Rowell, on National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo)

Friday, October 25, 2013


But I don't really know why....


A few weeks ago Guido let me know that my Twitter account had apparently been hacked. "Twitter account," I mused. Hmm. I'd forgotten I even had one. So I deactivated it.


Then for some strange reason I decided that along with writing 50,000 words in November and making a blog post a day for NaBloPoMo, why not try to Tweet every day or so about my progress; and so I opened a new Twitter account. 


Also, I'm exchanging Tweets with some fellow WriMos and writing buddies. Who knows, it could be helpful if I get stuck. Or it could be a waste of time. Either way, I am going to try Tweeting. Twittering? Twitting?  And if you want to follow me, you can find me at @lorihelms1. (Yeah, I know, really creative tag, right?) Be warned though -- if you follow me, I'm going to follow you right back!!


P.S. Eler Beth just walked by as I was posting this. I said, "I am officially 'tweeting'." 


"Oh God!" she said.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

My Apologies...

So I haven't been posting every day.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013


We lost our matriarch dog, Heidi, last week. She was at least 13 years old, and was probably closer to 14 or 15. About a month ago she suddenly started getting skinny and slowing down. She was still a happy dog, smiling and thumping her tail at you when you spoke to her, lying on her back to get a belly rub. So I don't think she was in any pain or distress, even up to her last hour. I miss her and had a good cry when she died, but it isn't as hard as it was when my Scout died.

We got Heidi in 2001. Thomas and the kids had stopped by a house in the country to buy some fresh corn. They had several dogs, and one of them was Heidi. She took a shine to Eler Beth, 5 years old at the time, following her around and running and playing. They offered her to Thomas, and he called me to see what I thought. Well, I didn't really want a dog. I really, really didn't. We'd moved into our house the year before, and I hadn't planned for a dog. But I couldn't say no. They came home and got me, and we went back to see the dog. The previous owners had called her Smilie, but I immediately knew she was a "Heidi," and I fell in love with her. 

They told us she was a year old -- I put her at closer to two years, based on her teeth -- and that she'd been spayed.  When I took her to get her shots I didn't asked if she'd actually been spayed -- I should have. lol A year later she presented us with eight beagle-mixed puppies. We loved them, though. They were adorable, and we ended up keeping two of them: Bruin, Eler Beth's dog, and Taxi, for Andrew.  Needless to say, Ms. Heidi-Ma'am was spayed as soon as we could have that arranged, and we found good homes for the other six pups.

Three months before this, Eler Beth's dog Fanci (yes, another dog had been added to the family, and that's a whole other story!) had four pups, full-blooded Fox Terriers. So when Heidi's pups were born, we had 13 dogs/puppies on the place. And we ended up keeping two of those as well: Little Bit, for Eler Beth, and my own dear Scout.

Fanci's pups, especially Scout, loved Heidi. He would follow her around, try to get her to play with him, and sleep snuggled up to her. She was a good Momma-dog to her pups, and when Fanci died a few years ago, she became the Momma-dog. She had a beautiful Beagle voice, and she assigned to herself watch-dog duties and took them very seriously. She wasn't afraid of any other dog, no matter how much bigger than her it happened to be. She respected the cats we've had over the years and put up with Eler Beth's pet possum, although she looked a little disgusted about it, but she never, ever got used to the rabbits.  And I wouldn't have expected her to, bless her old Beagle heart. Anytime Eler Beth had the rabbits out in the yard, either loose or on their leashes, the dogs were put up in their kennels, and Heidi would lower her head, stand very still, and just watch them intently. 

She was a good, sweet old girl, and we'll miss her.  Little Bit is now the oldest dog on the place, being three months older than Bruin and Taxi, and years older than Bryant. She always did want to be the alpha dog, and I guess she has her chance now. But she has some mighty big paw prints to fill!

Tuesday, October 1, 2013


I think I'll do it this year.

But I want to do it this month instead of next month.


Tuesday, September 17, 2013


A few posts previously I mentioned a writing project that simply fell in my lap. It was offered to me as a project that I could put my own name on instead of ghost-writing, or I could co-write if I preferred. I'm hesitant to write too much about it on my blog, but I really, really want to. It is a great story, and I feel privileged to have been asked to take it on. 

It is a story based on the family of a school-fellow of mine. She is living an unusual -- well, unusual in the grand scheme of things, but not as unusual as it would have been a few decades ago -- life, with some very specifically unique, trying, and sometimes humorous -- as in, "You have to laugh so you don't cry" -- scenarios. 

There are two very categorical circumstances in her family, with neither of which I have any real personal experience, so for nine months now I have been doing research and brainstorming ideas. I have gotten to know her and her family very well through her emails. She has been very frank with me, and, honestly, the information she has given me could be overwhelming if I let it be so. But I have parsed her emails, transferring what I want to use into my notes and skeleton of an outline. She has recommended reading material and videos for my research, and I have found a lot of information on my own. 

I think I am ready to develop my main characters. You see, she wants it to be a work of fiction, but based on some of her own experiences. So now that I have all this information I have to separate the story I am going to write from her, her husband, their children, and other key characters in her real-life narrative. I can't let myself picture them when I'm writing. I can't let myself think of them with their real names. The characters in "the book" must belong to themselves. And so far I am having trouble getting the right "voice" for it in my head. I know who the main character is and what's going to happen to her. But she doesn't have a name yet, and she doesn't have a voice. It will come, I know. I've been here before, and it always comes to me eventually, but it has never mattered so much to me before as it matters to me now. I mean this is a really great idea for a novel!

This school-fellow of mine works with my eldest sister, who knows her family and their circumstances very well. When my friend started talking about how she'd love to write a book about her situation but knew she couldn't and that she'd love to give her idea to someone else to write, my sister recommended me. And I am feeling a lot of trepidation about it because I don't want to fail or make a mess of it. It could be so good if it's done correctly; but what if I'm not the one to do it? 

Guess I won't know until I try, right?  

I won't rush it. When I do have something coherent, I might ask a few of my Blogger friends to sample a bit and give me some feedback. I will at some point need a sounding board besides my own family. My sister Barbara is my usual sounding board, and she will continue to be so, but I want several readers who have different reading tastes and backgrounds.  So don't be surprised if some time -- perhaps after the first of the year, although that might be a bit pessimistic -- I ask you for that favor.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Javen's First Studio Recording

This is my 10-year-old grand-niece, Javen Smith (my eldest sister Dennice's youngest granddaughter). Her father, my nephew, Jamie, introduces her:

  "This is Javen's link to her soundclick page. This is her first studio recording. It is a cover of the ever popular "Cup Song" a/k/a "Miss Me When I'm Gone" as recorded by Anna Kendrick." 


She has such a nice, true voice. Very pretty. Reminds me of her daddy!

Give it a listen and let me know what you think. 

Friday, August 9, 2013

School, Work, and GOOD DOGS

I just realized I didn't make even one entry in July. I think it has been a long time since I've missed a month. We were pretty busy last month, and I just don't keep up like I used to. I haven't read anyone else's blog in a long while either. I'll make that a goal for the weekend.

I finally have a weekend that I'm not super busy. I love weekends when I can stay home, and I certainly have a lot of things I'd like to get accomplished around here.  The local school kids started back to school on Thursday, August 1, which I think is way too early and hot to be going back to school, but what do I know. Eler Beth started her home schooling on the same day, but that's different!  Others in the area started on the 7th or 8th and still others are starting next week.

Eler Beth is beginning her Senior year. Can't believe that after this year I will no longer be putting together lesson plans and such. I will miss it. Of course, I may be helping her with college homework. Or, I have thought about going back to school myself to finish getting my degree. Part of me really wants to, even if I never really use it. Part of says, "Are you sure you have enough brains for that?!?" 

I'm already starting to plan Eler Beth's graduation party. Andrew didn't want one when he graduated. He wanted a trip to Florida instead, so that's what he got. He's never been one to have something like that where he's the focus, and we respected that. But this party for my girl is going to be a BIG one; at least that's what I'm planning. I want it to be extra, extra special, because she's an extra, extra special young lady.

Eler Beth is looking for part-time work. She tried everywhere back in the late winter, early spring, but it's really hard for teens in this area, unless they know someone who knows someone; even getting a job at a local fast food place is hard when there are so many applicants.  She has worked for three years part-time for a friend of ours who has a lot of health problems, cleaning for her and running errands and things like that, but that is on an as-needed basis. She loves doing that kind of thing, though, and is very close to this friend. Then in May she posted on Facebook that she was looking for work, any kind of work, and did anyone need someone to mow their lawns or walk their dogs or something. Well, Andrew's best friend had just gotten a puppy, a 10-week-old Australian Cattle Dog, and offered her a job of walking him, helping to train him, and playing with him an hour a day each weekday. She was thrilled to get that and loves taking care of "Batman." She watched him one week while his owner was out of town, too. I wish she had a bunch of jobs like that. They would fit nicely around her school schedule and give her enough pocket money to do her for now. But that job will be ending soon, as Batman is moving a bit further away and won't need as much care through the day anyway.

Also, right after posting that another one of Andrew's friends gave her a weekly job of mowing his lawn. That might last into September or October. So between the three jobs she's been able to make a little extra pocket money, but now she's started putting in applications around the area again. She's saving for a very special trip next year. She is such a hard worker and a go-getter. She doesn't mind doing hard physical labor, and actually prefers it to sitting or standing around. A lot of places will be taking on extra people to gear up for the holiday season, so hopefully she'll get something that she can enjoy and that's close to home. She's such a good girl with a good head on her shoulders. Oh yes, and she volunteered at the local library all summer. She really enjoyed that, and that will look on her resumes too.

One day last week she was talking about a lot of her friends and their dating woes, including her cousin (18) whose fiance' called off their wedding, another friend (18) who just got married, and another friend (17!!!) who just got engaged. Eler Beth is a firm believer in not getting serious at a young age. She has had her crushes, and she has a lot of friends who are guys, but she wants to enjoy herself for a while and find out what she really wants in her life before she goes and gets serious with anyone. And that is, I assure you, all her own idea, not ours (although we applaud it); she is just that type of person. So anyway, she was talking about her friends' break-ups and heartbreaks and so on, and then she suddenly just blurted out, "Girls my age just need to get themselves a GOOD DOG!"  Then she said, "Seriously, I have Bryant to love me unconditionally. And I can shower my affection on him and take him everywhere with me. He listens to me if I need to talk, and he loves and protects me. He's all I need right now!"

Good girl!

Well, I've babbled on long enough. I plan to visit my Blogger friends over the weekend to get a bit caught up. And I might even return and make another post. I hope everyone has been having a nice summer and that all are happy and healthy. Catch you later! 

Thursday, June 20, 2013

26 Years

It doesn't seem possible that it has been 26 years already. 

Well, in some ways it seems longer than 26 years. LOL

It has been a roller coaster ride at times, but always with a soft and smooth landing.

I love Thomas more today than I did 26 years ago, and that's saying a lot! 

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Just Say NO To Turkeys!

This must have been some kind of Thanksgiving assignment; I'm pretty sure his school doesn't blatantly advocate vegetarianism. This is something my great-nephew Tajulian did at school. It is so funny I had to share:

In case you can't read it, it says: Tajulian says, "Just say NO to turkey!" Instead, we should eat... (and he wrote) "chicken nuggets because they don't move."

Tajulian's mother, my nephew Jamie's wife, is a vegetarian, but my nephew isn't. One night at dinner their daughter Javen asked, "Mom, can I be a vegetarian when I grow up?" and Tajulian, six years old, piped up, "I thought you wanted to be a teacher!"

Yes, he does come up with some good ones!

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Law & Order CI (Canine Investigations)


Every time I look at this picture I hear the Law & Order "Thronngg!"

Or maybe it's L & O CVU (Canine Victims Unit)

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Writer's Block


The blank page 
           stares back at me.

It has more patience than I.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

May I Ask A Favor?

I am going to be hosting a light lunch for a group of about 15 friends in a few weeks, and I have no idea what I want the menu to be. Would anyone like to send me a suggestion? PLEASE???

It doesn't need to be fancy or unusual, but one friend did chili and sandwiches (with all the fixings) two months ago, and last month another friend who hostessed did croissants with a choice of fillings, fruit salad and a cheese log, so those two ideas are taken. I want to keep it simple, but also tasty. I thought of maybe doing a quiche (even though I couldn't eat it myself because of my egg allergy), but my mind is just really drawing a blank. Now if it were a full dinner, I'd have no problem, but a nice, attractive, neat, little, light lunch? A blank, I tell you!


"Worry 'bout yourself!"
 I think this is the cutest video. If I want a laugh, I watch it. I think that's going to be the catchphrase around our house. I can just imagine her parents telling her older sister or her, "Don't worry about what your sister's doing, you just worry about yourself."


Sunday, April 21, 2013

The Perils of HGTV

One day when I was feeling under-the-weather I spent several hours watching HGTV. I came to the following conclusion: When you watch shows like "Design Brothers" or "Love it or List it" you will do one of two things -- feel seriously depressed and go back to bed to hide your head under the covers for a few days OR go into a cleaning, organizing, and de-cluttering frenzy!!! 

Spring is finally here. This past week the deciduous trees have greened up and leafed out,  my grass is really needing to be mowed -- will do that today, I suppose -- and I am ready to clean out flower beds and plant something new.  I just wish I could get over this allergy-induced head and chest cold. It is really hanging on this year. I'm not the only one. Seems like everyone is having the same problem. I guess I'll do a bit here and there and rest when I need to, because anything I do seems to zap my strength very quickly.  Maybe I need one of Granny's spring tonics!

Monday, April 1, 2013

Peering Around Corners

My Little Red Rocker


My earliest memory is from when I was three years old. It's a simple little memory, but I have had it all my life. It comes to me now and then, and I cherish it. I was aware even at a very young age that it was the oldest conscious memory I had, so I've held onto it, and I bring it out now and then, dust it off and admire it. The memory is from January, February, or March of 1970. I know this because I know that it was following the Christmas of 1969 when one of my elder sisters, Maxine, and her husband, Ronnie, gave me a little red rocking chair as a Christmas gift. This is not a picture of my own little red rocker, but it is very similar to mine. I don't know if any picture even exists of mine.

Anyway, the memory is of me getting up one morning when there was a lot of snow on the ground. I got up, put on my little robe and house shoes, walked out to the living room, and sat down in my little red rocking chair that sat in front of the big picture window. My older sisters, Phyllis, Lois and Barbara, were already outside at the end of the drive, waiting for the school bus. I sat and rocked and watched them get on the bus and go off to school. (None of my other sisters or my brother would have still been living at home at that time.) Barbara would have been 9-1/2, Lois would have been just turning 14, and P.J. would have been 15.

See? It's a simple, short little memory, but I love it anyway.  Winters were real winters back then in Kentucky. I'm sure we would already have had several snowfalls throughout that winter with one or two probably being bad enough to cancel school for a few days.  Back then it stayed cold enough that the snow didn't melt quickly but hung around for days or weeks. When there was a lot of snow and/or ice, the roads where we lived out in rural Breckinridge County would have been potentially dangerous to drive; some of them, like the road we usually took into town, would have been impossible to drive.  When they got bad Daddy would have had to take a different route to work; but he never missed a day of work because of bad roads. Instead of taking the curvy, hilly road that crossed Dodge Creek (everyone called it "Dodge", but it was really named Dorridge Creek), he would take the straighter and newer road we referred to as Freedom Church Road.

On this morning, he may or may not have had to go the "long" way.  If he had, Mom would have woke him earlier than usual. Once when the roads were bad and she was having a hard time waking him up, the family story is that she kept saying "Jeff! You need to wake up! The roads are bad, and you're going to have to leave early!" And Daddy, talking in his sleep, answered, "Yeah, and it hasn't been that long that we've even had roads out here." And in fact, when this memory takes place, the road in front of our house may actually have still been a dirt road. I don't know what year the county paved it, but I know I was very young when it happened.

Mom would have made me a nice hot breakfast after I got up that morning. In winter weekly breakfasts were usually oatmeal or my favorite Cream of Wheat. There may  have been bacon or sausage. There was always home canned preserves, jellys and jams to put on toast or home made biscuits. There may have been eggs.  Mom kept chickens, but at that time of the year they probably weren't laying. When they weren't laying, she bought eggs at the grocery. If it was March, there may have been a box next to the wood-burning stove holding several dozen baby chicks. Mom would order them through a business in town, pick them up when the order came in, and then keep them inside close to the heat until the weather was warmer and they were big enough to put out in the chicken yard. So when I got up that morning it might have been to the sound of sleepy little peeps next to the fire.

I wonder what I would have done for the rest of that day?  It would have been just me and Mom until the girls got home from school (and that's the way I liked it; I was very much a "Momma's Girl"). I might have helped her with her housework (read: got in her way), or watched as she prepared dinner. I may have brought out some toys and played with them in whatever room she was in, because I'm sure I followed her around the house. At some point I'm sure I would have dressed warmly and gone outside, either to play in the snow or to help feed chickens and whatever else we might have had at the time. I know we would have had dogs and cats, because we always had dogs and cats. 

Actually, let's see. At that age, I don't believe I had a dog of my own, yet, but I know that I was very much attached to the dog that belonged to my Uncle Harlan. It was either Uncle Harlan's dog or it was my grandmother's with whom Uncle Harlan lived until she died later that year. The dog was a big, blonde thing. I have no idea what he was -- I must ask Mom. I think his real name was supposed to have been Whitey, but everyone called him Bub. He was a great dog. He'd walk home with me if I'd been visiting my grandmother's house. And you could say to him in a plaintive, sympathetic tone, "Aw, Bub! POOR old Bub!" and he'd start howling and whining along with you.  

I'm fairly certain that Barbara had her pony, a little black and white half Shetland pony named Champ at that time.  And we might have had one or two of my sister P.J.'s there as well.  If we did at that time, it would have been a pinto named Injun. And it would have been around this time that P.J. had a Rodesian Ridgeback named Duke who liked to lick me, and I would say (according to family legend, of course), "Aw Dawdy! Aw Doot!!"

Isn't it amazing how one tiny little memory can open up so many more?  I like peering around the corners of my oldest and most cherished memories, and I tend to do that so much more often as I get older. 

I'll be 47 soon, and it just occurred to me today that my mother would have turned 47 the December after this oldest memory of mine. So when she was 47 she had seven kids between the ages of 4-going-on-5 and 22. She would have had a 6-month-old grandson, a 3-month-old granddaughter, and a grandson on the way. Her son would have been drafted, done his basic training, and gone off to fight in Viet Nam earlier that year. 

I can't imagine being the age I am now and having seven kids, most of them grown. 

Guess I'd better stop for now. I have a feeling this post could go on forever. But I'm sure I'll peer around some corners again soon.