Sunday, May 30, 2010

Oh, those independent cats!

My cat likes to nestle against the rise of the pillows on my bed. So I put a special towel for him to lay on. And what does he do? Moves NEXT to it.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

What a great morning

My car hit a milestone today: 207,000.  It's a Ford truck engine so I know it has life left in it, and I'm hoping that life is enough to get me through the summer and the next school year. Go Ford trucks!

I left early to go to a friends' yard sale. It rained hard overnight and when I arrived I didn't see any activity, so I thought maybe they postponed it or were waiting for the yard to dry a bit. I sped along, driving back over the nice back roads in this part of the county, admiring the farms, the pastures, the animals, and both the farm homes and the 'development' homes.

Before arriving home, I stopped at the Post office, and already in town thought, what the hey, I'll visit the Farmer's Market, opened for the season these last couple of weeks. The honey guy was there, saying that he had just processed it this week. I also bought organic, local (2 miles down the road!) carrots, and a huge bag of green beans. I picked up a couple of Georgia peaches, and home I went, which brings me up to now, blogging about the last hour of my Memorial Day weekend!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

A day in the country

Well, summer's here for us teachers and other educators in the school system. Nowadays, I sleep late (7 am!) drink two full cups of coffee before they get cold, and finish reading an entire page in my book without falling asleep. Those are just a few of the changes in lifestyle after the kids are gone and school's out.

The natural beauty around me also deepens and changes. On my way to school this morning, I passed farmers haying, their colorful daisies chopping away behind the tractors. Empty roads greeted me, all buses now stilled. A red, red barn with gated white 'X' sits atop a hill covered with thistles,

And here's the thistle

And went to visit a friend and a fancy showbird showed up, bands and all. She is contacting the local Pigeon Showbird chapter, but meanwhile, we had fun admiring its colors

I guess you never know what the day will bring. Today it was hay, thistles, and a racing pigeon!

Youtube turns five!

And Clara Cannucciari (Depression Cooking with Clara) is one of the featured clips! As for Youtube...what a blessing it is to be able to watch what you want to watch, when you want. Instant replays of sports, political speeches, songs, concerts, whatever ... and what a blessing for people 'on the ground; to be able to report and publish the truth when The Powers That Be are suppressing it. Go Citizens! Go Youtube!

(PS: Clara is at 40 seconds)

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Corner View: "The End Of My Street"

Jane at Spain Daily has a weekly theme upon which we all write from our corner of the world. It is called Corner View and this week's theme is "The End Of My Street." Please be sure to check out her entry and the links to all the others!

I live at the end of a one-way street. It was recently made a one-way due I suppose to its narrowness. I agree it is safer this way, but I live at the end of it you see. I cannot turn from the main road to my driveway 15 feet away ... I must now pass my abode, drive down the road a piece, turn left, drive, turn left, drive, and then turn left again, adding about a mile to the 15 foot journey. Oh, well, it is a quiet street, despite being adjacent to one of the main routes in the county.

Below, the corner, the stop sign, and the property on which I rent. There are a lot of old-growth trees and lots of flowering bushes.

The house across the street is nice and next to that, through the chain link fence, is the local elementary school. I love living near a school. I hear the buses crank up at 6:22 am, my community snooze alarm. I hear the sounds of children's laughter all day. I hear them playing on the playground and the squeak of the swings and the crack of the bat. I hear the end-of-year cheer on the last day of school. That always cracks me up.
In this photo, I am standing adjacent to my driveway, so you can see how tantalizingly close I am to the main street. Alas, that one-way. However, I can also hear roosters occasionally at dawn, the crickets at night, the train horn in the far's quiet street, and a friendly one. People trundle up and down it with their electric golf carts, going from one of their pastures to the next. Kids ride their bikes in the road. Cats scurry to guard their territory. It's good here.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

The difference between summer and winter


Breakfast: Scrambled egg and grilled blueberry muffin, coffee
Lunch: Homemade hummus sandwich with local tomato, apple juice
Dinner: Homemade calzone, water


Breakfast: Coffee, cold by the time I get to drink it
Lunch: Water. No bathroom later either.
Dinner:: Corn flakes. With banana if not too tired.

Plus, there's this:

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Macro photography inside my house

Colors and textures of favorite items inside the house

Florida shell-

Alabaster, hand-carved nativity-

Cat Bert-

Book I'm reading now-
Bedroom curtains-

Journal bead detail-

Sandro Boticelli self-portrait-


It was a bad, bad, bad, bad, movie

I love movies. All kinds, even campy bad ones. You know, the ones that are so bad you laugh and play along. When Mystery Science Theatre 2000 (now 3000) debuted in 1988 I was thrilled. Finally! Something to fill the gap left by the sad departure of Creature Double Feature!

I discovered quickly that MST3000 was a sly take-off on programming like Creature Double Feature, in that the same bad monster, alien, and martial arts movies were shown, but this time, acerbic and witty audience members comment on the flick all throughout its showing. You know, like in real movie theatres where people always think they are making funny comments, but they really aren't and it gets annoying real fast? Well, MST2000 (sorry, it'll never be 3000 to me) is a place where the funniest writers put together the funniest comments and you just die laughing. Like this one:

"I am the lemon zester of destruction!"

See the whole clip live here, you'll die laughing. I promise. Or maybe this one from "The Creeping Terror", it's even funnier! I had tears running down...

I'm not witty enough to make comments like theirs but I still get caught up in the utter badness of some movies. Such a one last night was "They Live" by John Carpenter, on American Movie Classics. Wrestler Rowdy Roddy Piper turned actor dons sunglasses and sees Our Evil Alien Overlords exposed. He must save us all from the subliminal messages on every billboard and magazine cover! He must shoot the cleverly named "Formaldahyde faces" whenever there is a clear shot and even when there isn't for the sake of a good gunfight! He must fist-fight Keith David in the looooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooongest fist-fight EV-ah before Frank will don the glasses and see the truth!

This premise was explored quite well in my opinion in the Dean Koontz Book "Twilight Eyes" more successfully than this movie, which is also taken from a story, "Eight O'Clock In The Morning". Here is a funny excerpt of the review from 'It's a Bad, Bad, Bad, Bad Movie':

"John Carpenter failed The Filmmaker's Exam at question 1 when he cast Rowdy Roddy Piper in the lead role of They Live. However, the movie itself was so painfully bad that even if Carpenter had somehow gotten Harrison Ford or some other luminary to act in this movie, it still would have sucked. Hot Rod really isn't a bad actor, he's simply not a very versatile actor. Piper prepared for his acting career by being a professional wrestler. As such, he learned how to express two emotions very well -- "In Pain" and "Not In Pain." Unfortunately, he never expanded his repertoire of emotions to include such vital ones as "happy," "sad," or "angry" -- any one of which might have helped him at some point in this movie."

Er, Harrison Who? Make that Billy Dee Williams as a saving luminary for this movie...

Friday, May 21, 2010

My first day of vacation

On my way to a friend's house today, I traveled the back byways of our countryside. In the rain, the red dirt road glowed:

I wasn't fast enough to catch a photo of a black kitten crossing the red clay road and pausing among the greenery that edged it, but I did snap this big guy laying down for a rest:

The gate welcomed me in to my friends' house, and a lovely gate it is:

And one more greeting committee, one whose photo I took from a loooong distance away!

A good time was had by all, and we talked well into the afternoon on the screened-in porch with coffee mugs in our hands and listening to the jays in the pine trees. A nice first day of summer vacation.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Corner View: Collections

Jane at Spain Daily has a weekly theme upon which we all write from our corner of the world. It is called Corner View and this week's theme is "Collections." Please be sure to check out her entry and the links to all the others!

I am a failure at collecting things. I think it's because I am ambivalent about the whole enterprise. I've tried my hand at several collections. Richard Brautigan books was a favorite collection-hunting item for a long while. His books are out of print and the older ones are truly rare finds. I haunted bookstores and spent hours browsing with an eye to getting that next one in the list. I found one in Confederate Books in Quito Ecuador of all places. Though not surprisingly because Quito is a good hippie hangout place and Brautigan is a great ex-hippie. I found a bunch more at Mandala Books in Daytona Beach, a super-duper old bookstore, which unfortunately closed two weeks ago after thirty years of happy dusty book stacks near the beach. Visiting City Lights Books in Brautigan's old stomping grounds was a thrill, but being the epicenter for Beats and their first generation offspring such as Brautigan, all their books were of course scooped up, and I found nothing there except lost history.

I reached about 80% of all the Brautigan books I'd ever hoped to find, and I read them all. I re-read them and then I looked at them a lot. Then, just as suddenly, the urge was gone and I gave them all away to a very happy ex-hippie.

Next I tried my hand at rare books. I having attended the 1999 Paper and Book Intensive at Haystack Mountain in Maine, and I learned how to work with leather, gild edges, marble paper, and tree calf, I was all about the old book. At a rare and antique book show in Portland I found the famed naturalist and illustrator George Sowerby's "Popular British Conchology" and Mary Roberts' "The Mollusca." I was collecting shells then and the books seemed like a natural fit overlapping several of my hobbies. I also found a wonderful example of a tree-calf covered book in Scott's Poems and the best part was that I actually like the contents of the book as well as the exterior adornment, lol.

 Far above, two inside hand-marbled covers from Conchology and Mollusca. Above, Scott's Poems with tree calf cover. But alas, collecting those three rare books was the extent of my foray into the rare books world. It's a very expensive hobby. As for the shells, I had assiduously collected them from every sea I visited, and for a while, there were a lot of oceans to dip my toe into. I lived on a sailboat and when I wasn't on the boat I was traveling by any other means to every ocean I could find. I've collected from the North Sea above Scotland, Red Bay near Labrador, Adriatic, Mediterranean, Atlantic, Pacific, Gulf of Mexico, River Thames, Bahamian Sea...shells were a great way to remember where I'd been, were small enough to tuck in a pocket and not have to declare duty on, and were worthy of study later. I cataloged them examined them, learned about them, and admired them. Then I gave them all away to kids who were interested.

As a kid, I loved to eat pastina with broth my Nonnie gave me from a pink, cunningly designed bowl that was as pleasing to my eye as the food was to my tummy. When I grew up I determined to find those same bowls and get me a few. Turns out, they were original Fiestaware, and were not only hard to find, but expensive. Why do I have to go for the expensive collections? Anyway, I did search for a few years and occasionally I bought one or two dishes and bowls when they crossed my path. In the end I had quite a nice collection of saucers, mugs, bowls and plates, all in those vibrant colors Fiesta was so famous for. Then just as abruptly, I gave them all away, except for the mugs, which I had forgotten about and had left in the cupboard.
 I guess the upshot is, if you want to have a real nice collection, follow me around. As I throw off ballast you might get lucky.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

In praise of habits

I like habit. Routine I guess is closer to the truth. Doing the same things day after day and week after week is like a security blanket that wraps around you and warms you as it enfolds you in security. Not that I dislike change, or spontaneity or adventure. Insouciance has attractions as well. But the careful scripting of my days as they roll one into another has an attractiveness that I find compelling. I like knowing that on Friday afternoons I will be at the County Library, browsing the new bookshelf in anticipation of good reads over the weekend. I like knowing that at 10:30 am on Saturday mornings, my laundry will be hanging on the line, waving in the light breeze, and that immediately after hanging them I will check the progress of the figs on the fig tree. I like knowing that on Sunday mornings at 10:50 I will be speaking to my Sunday School class about the previous week's prophecy indicators. I like knowing that on Monday morning I will be driving to Danielsville Elementary School with coffee cup in hand and Gregorian chants on the CD,  then working with children.

The springtime routine is wonderful to behold. The buds, then the flowers, then the fruits; the grass growing then cut, growing then cut; all beautiful to watch and take part in. God established a routine in the seasons and the tides and the weather that is a comfort and brings not only a sense of peace, but renewal.

Child care specialists (including parents!) know that establishing a routine for their children is utmost for creating a sense of peace and stability. I don't think that feeling of needing peace and stability through routine goes away as adults. And as adults we can also intuit when a routine has become a rut, and break out of it when we need to. But for now, my weekly routine is  working for me, and I am glad.

Magnolias are blooming.

Robins are hatching.

Figs are ripening.

Flower baskets are swinging.

Sunday, May 02, 2010

Corner View: Animals

Jane at Spain Daily has a themed weekly blog-write called "Corner View" and we offer out thoughts and photos from our corner of the world. Because Jane is away for a few weeks, Joyce at A Perfect Beginning is hosting Corner View. This week's theme is Animals. I'm a few days late on this week's entry, sorry!

I moved from Maine to Northeast Georgia a few years ago and the thrill at living in a rural area with its myriad animals; domestic, farm, and wild, has not palled. In driving around, I never know what I'll see. These goats are on the farm next to where I lived in my first apartment:
Driving home on Thanksgiving Day from a friends' house, I saw this emu. They sure are huge birds! What a surprise that was, driving along and suddenly there's an emu keeping pace with my car!

Chickens are a number one industry here in Madison County. When I was reporting for the Athens Banner Herald, I visited a Chicken Farm one day in pursuit of a feature story. I snapped this inside the chicken house, and somehow the light allows the chickens to look almost majestic. Which is quite a trick, because chickens are anything but...

A common scene here in Georgia, hounds in truck.

My darlings, Bert and Luke!

We get quite a few thunder-boomers here in the spring. These birds fly against a stormy sky: