Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Some more photos I like: rocks!!

I saw one of those globes in a yard, you know, the colored kind on a pedestal. I went up close and took a picture of myself in the reflection. Note: objects in this mirror are smaller than they appear.

I like rocks. Rocks of all kinds! Small, large, mountainous, striated, polished, it doesn't matter. Rocks rock! This is of a garden pond.

The mountainous granite of Acadia, the rockbound coast of Maine

Jasper Beach Maine. No sand, all the beach is polished rhyolote and jasper.

Painted rocks west Texas. I think if I remember right, it was the Lobo Valley petroglyph site near Van Horn.

New Gloucester Maine rock wall, and heron, hiding. Or trying to.
Harbor rocks at low tide, Lubec, Maine. Plus kelp!
Two cute girls trying rock climbing for the first time, Gray ME

I went outside today

When school ended Friday afternoon, I came home, slept for three hours, and have not emerged from this apartment except to put kitty litter in the garbage, ever since. This morning I decided I probably needed an airing out and went to do some errands.

In the summer, thinking is different, Rather than cram every minute with productivity so that everything that needs to get done, gets done, in the summer you have to do the opposite. Each task is carefully placed upon a particular day of the week, so that there is a touchstone for the day and something productive to then revolve around. You have to spread it out. Today was errands. Tomorrow will be vacuuming and laundry. The next day I plan to plant my seeds in pots and make a little garden over there on the cement next to my front door. Friday will be Danielsville for grocery shopping and the Library. Saturday will be cooking, and Sunday at church. I don't know what I will do next week, except likely repeat the cycle. And I'll do that 8 more times and then it will be school again!

I went to the gas station, Post Office, ATM, Dollar Store for two items, and then the fruit stand. That was my favorite part. Ralph has fresh Georgia peaches, and I also bought the last of the early summer strawberries. A pound of little potatoes ("dug today!") a tomato and a yellow squash completed the happy produce buying.

Feeling virtuous, and hot, I came home. By 10:30 the temps were already 92 and climbing, so I happily entered my cool and cozy apartment, to further my day by study, writing, and reading. Ahhh, summer.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Because the mail never stops...

In the early 2000's, I worked for about 10 months in the US Post Office. It was a God-send of a job, and I appreciate my time there immeasurably. My role was to put up the inside Post Office Box mail, so I was not a carrier delivering in the weather. I did become familiar, though, with the trials and tribulations of what the other employees did, including the clerks, Postmaster, carriers, and substitutes. Being a Federal establishment, there were byzantine, complicated, unnecessary duplications of rules and tasks, and just plain stupid things we had to do. But the whole process is still amazing, if you think about it. If you're in California, you can pen a letter, put it in an envelope, and for little over 40 cents, it will travel across thousands of miles and be delivered to a tiny box by the side of the road, directly to you, in only a matter of a few days. Amazing. And I know from personal observation that the carriers and clerks and Postmaster I worked with are hard-working, honest, committed people who care.

We still like to poke fun at the PO, though. It doesn't help that the most famous cultural roles have created characters that are less than esteemed. Cliff Clavin from the long-running comedy show Cheers and Newman from the long-running comedy Seinfeld come to mind. This clip from Seinfeld where Newman explains why some workers 'go postal' is hilarious. I understand completely where he is coming from. My job as to first put up the first class mail and then start on the third class (junk) mail. There was tray after tray after tray of it...just as you get one tray done, three more come in...and your sense of purpose and accomplishment diminishes proportionally, not helped by the fact that you know people throw it away immediately.

Here is an article from an environmental website that talks about a USPS collapse. Think about the fleet of cars and trucks connected to delivering the mail, about how many people it employs, and the gas used. It is a lot more complicated than we like to make fun of.

USPS report says total collapse is imminent
The United States Postal Service is headed off a cliff, and – according to the US Government Accountability Office - few are even giving its demise a second thought. ... So, what happened? That’s what Phillip Herr, of the US Gov’t Accountability Office, is trying desperately to find out … for the past three years. Herr finds the USPS fascinating, for (perhaps) obvious reasons:  the USPS is ubiquitous, relied on, and (my words, not his) totally screwed. “It’s one of those things that the public just takes for granted,” he says. “The mailman shows up, drops off the mail, and that’s it.” How bad, then, is the situation for the USPS? In scientific terms:  Really bad. Since 2007 (the “salad days” of America’s last economic bubble) the USPS has been unable to cover its annual budget (80% of which is made up of employees’ salaries and benefits).  To stay afloat and pay its people, the USPS has had to borrow more than 12 billion (with a b) dollars from the US Treasury, which (unlike GM and Chrysler) it has been unable to pay back.  Earlier this month, the Treasury reached its statutory debt limit … so, unless something pretty drastic happens on Capitol Hill, it’s pretty much Game Over for the USPS, already."

There's more at the link, the author talks about the environmental impacts to having a fleet of a quarter million vehicles using so much gas every day, etc. He ends by saying that the USPS has outlived its usefulness...and perhaps, just perhaps, the last clip from Seinfeld (from the 1990s no less) speaks to that thought.

Why do carriers go postal? Because the mail never stops....

I'd like to cancel my mail

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Two By Two

I like to take pictures. When I worked for the Athens newspaper doing features and photography I went to a lot of events and I took a lot of pictures. In reviewing these, I noticed I tend to take photos of twos. Two things, two people...etc. Here is a photo essay of local people enjoying life, two by two.

At Carlton GA music fest
Two girls getting candy at Comer GA Christmas parade
At Farm Day, Mobile Dairy Exhibit for field trip elementary students
Two gentlemen catching up at Comer (GA) Fair
At a Lowery Gallery Art opening, Danielsville GA
Eastport ME 4th of July parade, USS McFaul Captain(l) and 2nd in Command
Gray ME, friends restoring Old Post Office historic building
Comer Farm Market, impromptu violin lesson
Danielsville GA, two Madison County High School football players recollecting a great play
Comer GA farmer's market, watermelon farmers talking

Friday, May 27, 2011

Godok Pisang, coming up!

It's summer! Aside from my hopes of outdoor pot gardening as I mentioned earlier, I enjoy frugal grocery shopping which often results in creative ways to prepare the food I've bought. Today there were 5/lb bags of bananas for $1.29. I can't leave the red sticker items alone, and I bought the bag, fully knowing that my commitment to 17 bananas was ambitious. Being in the south and enduring 90 plus degrees every day already, baking banana bread for an hour was out of the question. Banana-cantaloupe or strawberry smoothies are always a healthy and cool choice for summer, but is there something to do with bananas beyond the mundane and expected? Why, thanks to the internets, I discovered there is!

Godok Pisang is a fried banana fritter that apparently is quick to prepare and delicious for tea time. It is a a ubiquitous snack in Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, Philippines, Singapore and other south east Asian countries. I found this photo and recipe on a Singaporean food blogger's site. It is a very informative and also attractive food blog.

"If you have overripe bananas but are sick of making banana bread/muffins/smoothies, try this for a change. Kuih kodok or godok pisang. Gorgeously caramelised fritters using mashed bananas. Easy as pie. In fact, easier than pie! This recipe is very roughly adapted from Bananas.org (see last post), but I used a lot more fruit."


8-9 medium ripe bananas (those with blackened skin are perfect)
1 cup flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon of salt
Oil for frying


1. Mash bananas into pulp (I used a potato masher).
2. Add flour, baking powder and salt. Mix well. Your batter should be thick.
3. Heat oil (about 2-inches deep) in wok or deep pan using medium heat.
4. Use a large spoon to scoop and drop the batter into the hot oil. Hold the spoon low and close to the oil, so you don't get a nasty splatter.
5. Fry a few at a time until golden brown. Don't put too many in the oil at once because the oil temperature will drop too much and the dough will absorb oil and turn soggy.
6. Repeat until batter is finished.
You can see the ones I made are not as spherical as the ones sold outside. That's because I used more fruit and less flour, so they don't hold their shape as well. But they taste a whole lot nicer!

I think when some of the bananas get old, I'll make green sun tea and whip up some Godok Pisang. Just because it's summer, and I can!

Memorial Day weekend plans

It is the long weekend for many people. But for me, It marks the beginning of summer break. Our school year ended today and I plan to kick back and relax, as I mentioned in a previous blog entry. I also plan to plant my pots with flowers, and the teacher with whom I worked part of this year gave me some seeds. I'll be planting nasturtium, zinnias, and morning glories. The Morning Glories I will train to go up the wrought iron and over the awning to the front door. It makes a nice canopy.

There were some changes to the shrubbery and landscaping by my front door from last year. I noted these in a blog entry last week. The changes are: the five o'clock flower plant, the rose bush, and the grass are all gone. They have been replaced with concrete. I will have my work cut out for me to pretty it up. I got the pots out and lined them up, ready for planting on Tuesday. I also have a bunch of round polished granite half cylinders that I'll use to make a border. Some of them will be used to put the posts on so they will be at different eye levels, for interest. As least, that is what the home landscaping shows say to do.

Looks kind of bleak, doesn't it?

Below are two gorgeous sunflowers along with greenery a dearly beloved friend sent to me on the last day of school. The flowers arrived in a bright yellow tissue paper tied with a yellow plaid ribbon. It was quite a happy surprise to receive these, and they are cherished.

(They got squashed in the classroom moving furntiture and then in my hot car while I went grocery shopping, They were assuredly perkier when they arrived at school!)

This is the mama blue jay hopping mad and squawking at me while I got out my pots and lined them up. Chill out, mom, it's SUMMER!!!!!!!!!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

It's summer break: Sloths are my current role model

I am making a light joke about being slothful this summer: my goals are to read, write, and blog. That's it. So...sloth. But cute sloth! On Cuteoverload.com I found two recent entries that grabbed my heart.

Meet the sloths from Lucy Cooke on Vimeo.

Sloth crosses the road, "I believe I Can Fly" version:

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Sunday night heat

The bluejays are squawking out my window. Wonder what they are on about. "You are getting on my last feather!" "Well, you ate my last seed!" LOL.

It is very hot here, the high today was 95 and it is still 94 at 6:15 pm. It's pretty early in the season to be so hot and that is a bit aggravating. Hey, maybe the blue jays are hot, too.

I am listening to John Prine radio on Pandora, "This guitar is for sale." I like Prine but can only take small doses, he gets so melancholy. Now it's Simon and Garfunkel, The Boxer, 1969. I used to think that was such a deep song when I was 9. But hey, I know all the words so on we go.

Tomorrow we have a classified staff breakfast at the big lunchroom at Colt Academy, and that will be nice. Our Kindergarten wing also has a luncheon at a K-teacher's house because we are saying good bye to some staff on our team. They will have new assignments next year, so the team will be broken up and a new team will be formed. It will be really nice to have lunch together and I'm looking forward to it. In between and afterwards I will be cleaning out our classroom and helping to clean the common areas of the school. We have a long checklist to accomplish but we have several days to do it. We have five days of post-planning this year due to the snow we received in January. Three of these days are make-up days which were originally going to be two days.

Here is something I thought was hilarious on Cute Overload:

So we can never say, "yeah, when sloths fly!" eh? Have a good week!

I'll miss the kids

So I'm thinking this week about how I'll be at school but no kids will be there. That's always strange. I am looking forward to the rest, but I really do like the kids and I'll miss them.

One day a couple of weeks ago I returned to the classroom to find this at my seat:

 I like you too, kiddo. I like you too.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Time for gratitude

It's the end of the year. I mean the Georgia educational system school year. We start in August and we end in May, a month's difference than the school year I was employed by in Maine, which was on a September to June schedule.

End of year usually means reflection on the past and reviewing hopes for the future. I substitute taught in this system for two years and this year I got the permanent job. It has regular hours, medical benefits, and is clean work. More importantly, it's with kids, my calling and first love. It was a miracle that I got this job last July in a tight economy with many qualified applicants. I am grateful for it and count it as a blessing.

Best of all, I work in a school system run by people I admire and respect. I admire my principal who is a woman of great skills, passion for children, and integrity in her work. She is loyal to employees, but fair, and has high standards. I enjoy that she is approachable and that she runs a tight ship. She is also a Christian. What else can an employee ask for? Nothing.

I enjoy that the Superintendent is a moral man, a Christian who is also a man of great skills, has integrity, and is fair with high standards. It is important to me that I am part of a system that is run by people I respect. It is a terrible thing to be embarrassed by your boss. Rather, in my case, I have people whose example I strive to live up to. This is a blessing.

The school year beginning was a scary one for me because it has been 21 years since I was employed as an employee. I have either run my own business or have freelanced most of my life. But the people I work with are tremendous. I enjoy all my colleagues. They are good people! They are local moms and grandmoms, community members in this small community with whom I go to church, and see at the library, the Rec Department, the store. They are friendly and warm. They welcomed me, a stranger, into their fold and I am grateful to know them all. It is a blessing to like the people you work with.

After school today, the last day, I went grocery shopping. I value that I have a good, locally run grocery store just two miles from my work, and that quality, affordable foods are offered there. This is rare these days, that I can not only afford food, but I have access to GOOD food. I really love that a local family owns the store and they are civic minded. I would frequent their store even if it was not close, for this reason. I am grateful that I have good food in my fridge. I just finished scrambled eggs with fresh tomatoes, toast, and home fries. That's more than a lot of people get in a week.

I am really grateful that I have a solid bible-believing church to go to. This is rare these days. It is helmed by a wonderful pastor who is loving and friendly but also extremely knowledgeable about the bible and preaches with a passion and love for Jesus that just makes you love Jesus more. I enjoy the folks at my church and in my Sunday School class, who again, welcomed me into their world lovingly and openly. They have helped me when I needed help and I know they are there for me if I need help again, as they know I would help them too. It is a blessing to really like the people you worship with.

I am blessed I live in a place like this:

It is my back yard. I'm not homeless, and I don't live near a quarry, or a garbage dump or live in a place like Tijuana or Calcutta. The Lord gave me a beautiful, peaceful place to dwell when I am not at worship or work. What a blessing.

No matter the tumult in the world, I am richly blessed in my sphere and I know it. Summer itself is another blessing. It is glorious around here, and just 4 miles down the road is a State Park with a river to swim in and a waterfall to enjoy. Thank you Lord for the riches you've given me, and I am grateful.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

It's almost time to plant

Well, it's past time to plant, but school is almost out and I will have some time to devote to my three pots, lol. There have been changes since last year. My front door used to have two sides where bushes and plants and pots were and could go. This year, the left side has been paved over by the landlord. I understand the need to do that, I guess, but I miss the huge and lovely five o'clock flower bush that used to be there,

And the beautiful rose bush,

and now it looks like this,
I had planted morning glories under the wrought iron hanger, and had trained them to wind up all over it and to the awning. Now those flowers are gone too. I'll buy some smaller pots to put on the shelves of the hanger, which secretly is a CD rack I'd gotten free at a yard sale and simply hung up as a planter holder.

Good news, though. The hummingbirds have discovered the feeder. And one lone morning glory had transplanted itself under the feeders by the tree,

I'll make it look pretty. I promise.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Summer Reading Program

I've been thinking of great first lines to books lately. I really love language and I remember the really good lines that meant I was about to become embroiled in a story that swept away all else in the world. For a time, anyway. I am getting excited because the school year is almost over, and I will have days upon weeks to read what I choose. I'm really excited about this. I already have some books lined up- Leaving Cold Sassy, the unfinished sequel to Cold Sassy Tree, which a friend kindly lent me. An old Grisham law thriller, any old one will do. Angel Harp, a book that another friend had said was terrible but she sent it to me all the way from Kansas for me to try my hand at it, so I will. Lol. The Rainbow Men, by Douglas Sheldon. I found it in a swap pile, and there was no cover and very little is available on the internet about it as far as a synopsis goes. But I was taken by the first line:

"So this is how it ends for David Fulton Webster, he thought, in a dinghy with a dying girl." Intriguing! I'm hooked!

Topping the list will be bible study. Opening line: "In the beginning..." Pretty good if you ask me!.

My two favorite classic opening lines are below. The first is from my favorite author, Thomas Hardy: from The Return of the Native:

"A Saturday afternoon in November was approaching the time of twilight, and the vast tract of unenclosed wild known as Egdon Heath embrowned itself moment by moment. Overhead the hollow stretch of whitish cloud shutting out the sky was as a tent which had the whole heath for its floor."

That's just beautiful. Simply wonderful.

And this one from Love in the Time of Cholera, by Gabriel Garcia Marquez--

"It was inevitable: the scent of bitter almonds always reminded him of the fate of unrequited love." Who wouldn't love that? So creative, and so immediately relatable.

My favorite joke about an opening line is from the wonderful comedy, Cheers. In the bar, Frasier tries to get the guys interested in classic literature. He begins reading the first line from Dickens' "A Tale of Two Cities".

"Dr. Frasier Crane: "It was the best of times. It was the worst of times."
Norm Peterson: Wait, whoa, whoa, whoa. Which was it?"

It's much better seen. Skip to 2:40 - 3:40 on the video below. After that joke about the opening line, Frasier continues to read, and the guys immediately mock Dickens for being too indecisive. As they begin lose interest, Frasier spices it up...

Happy Summer Reading!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Pic of the day and quote of the day

From My Modern Metropolis:

Caption at My Modern Met: "Does street art get better than this? Found on the streets of Verona, Italy is a pair of unmistakable legs! Surely they belong to the Wicked Witch of the East who was known to wear ruby slippers and striped socks. Morbid? Sure. Awesomely unexpected? Absolutely."

Quote of the day. This is from my life:

My neighbor took her two daughters to the beach for a 4-day weekend. The four-year-old had never been to the beach. They got home tonight as I was taking my laundry out of the dryer in the garage. "How was the beach?" I asked the little girl. "It was fun. There was a lot of sand and a...a...a really BIG pool!"

Sunday, May 08, 2011

I'm almost to the moon!

LOL! I read spaceweather.com today and was treated to a photo of a dashboard, with the odometer highlighted. Above the dash was a display of stars --

The caption read:
"CHECK YOUR ODOMETER: "On the eve of International Astronomy Day, 2011, my 1998 Jeep Cherokee Sport passed a major milestone," reports astrophotographer Dennis Mammana of Borrego Springs, California. "Its odometer flipped over to 186,282 miles; in other words, it's taken 13 years and 8 months for my Jeep to travel the distance a beam of light can cover in just one second."

I'd posted a few days ago that my 1993 Ford SUV clicked over to 211,111. The distance to the moon is 238,840 mi.
I'm almost there!!

In other astronomical news, I'd posted a couple of months ago that I had seen a sun halo. Yesterday Space weather posted an extraordinary photo of a complex sun halo. The caption said ""It was one of the brightest and most complex displays of sun haloes I have seen in 25 years of observing," reports Philippe Mollet, who took this picture:" Read the spaceweather entry for astronomical explanation of how these haloes form and why.

Here is my halo again. It was so big, that though I was lying down on the ground I could not get the entire halo into the picture.

The skies are amazing and wonderful!


My mother, father, and his parents upon their wedding day in the late 1950s.

My one year birthday with my mother, grandmothers, and aunts. My mom is in the red shirt

Christmas 1961, me and my mom

My sister's wedding. My mom is in the pink dress. My brother is at the left and I am on the right

Christmas 2009, my mom and her Obama video.

This is my friend, who is a great mom. Here, she is washing the dishes. Again.

These are moms lining the soccer field's edge. All are great moms/grandmoms or women who support friends' kids.
Where would we be without moms?

Saturday, May 07, 2011

Hummingbird feeder is up

I hung my hummingbird feeder today. It's a bit late, but better late than never. I hope that the location will suit, it is near the other bird feeder, and the activity around that feeder gets fast and furious sometimes. But it is the best place to view them from inside the apartment. It is near enough for both me and the cats to see them and also to photograph them without scaring them off. I can move the feeder if the hummingbirds are too skittish from other birds.

This photo is from the apartment in Maine I'd had. I lived upstairs and was afforded a large deck, which I really loved. The feeder was hung at the opposite side of the deck from the sliding screen door
There is something so precious and cute about these birds. There is also the challenge to capture them in flight and to get a really good shot.

This next photo is of the same location in Georgia I'd hung the hummingbird feeder previously, and the shot isn't so great but I did capture the bird in flight --

This feeder is harder for them to perch. I may get a different feeder so they can set down for a moment...we'll see what the Dollar Store has.

While I'm waiting for the hummingbirds to show up, here are some other photos of birds I've taken--

spooky birds:

Mama & baby birds --

Shy birds --

Pretty bird --
Beach bird --
funny bird --

I love birds!