Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Wordless Wednesday

I had discovered “Wordless Wednesday” over the past few weeks.  While my own photos are family oriented, Royalty-free photos provides me with amazing choices. (Even so, I always question my right to use them for my blog.)  So my “Wordless Wednesday” contribution is this.


source: alfi007

This one may be found here...I hope.

Where would you be?  Why?  What took you there?  

Monday, February 25, 2013

The Man who Went Back

Few people would have done this. 

January 13, 1982 was the day when an Air Florida plane crashed into the frozen Potomac River on the edge of Washington D.C.  The water was 31 degrees F., one degree below freezing.  Massive ice flows and slushy water paralyzed most of the passengers, resulting in a loss of 74 passenger lives.  Four other people on the overhanging bridge also were killed.

Six people were still alive and clinging to the tail section of the plane, the only part above water.

Six people, but only five were rescued.  One man, Arland D. Williams, Jr., age 46, did not survive.

Why not?  Each time the life line with a float was lowered, Mr. Williams passed the ring onto someone else.  He swam to one woman whose arms could no longer hold onto the ring and secured her in the device.

Five times Arland Williams, Jr., passed the ring to other passengers, helping them to be pulled to safety.  When the ring was lowered a sixth time, Mr. Williams had disappeared into the icy water.

Crash on the Potomac, 1982

He was the man who went back. 

Friday, February 22, 2013

Dear Julian Fellowes,

To:  Julian Fellowes
At: Canarven Castle
RE:  Angry viewers

Dear Mr. Fellowes,

Sir, I must protest!  How dare you! 

The last episode of “Downton Abbey”, Season three, was absolutely unacceptable.  

While I appreciate the little happy bits you allowed viewers throughout the two hour showing, the last five minutes were NOT tolerable.  You toss the viewers little crumbs of joy only to sweep them all away in the final minutes of the show.

Dammit, man, we below-stairs viewers deserve more than this!

Do you not think something less catastrophic would have met the criteria of “cliff-hanger”? 

I impatiently await your reply and explanation.

Sincerely, etc. etc.
Your devoted follower,
Susan Kane
Grandmama par excellence

Julian Fellowes, an other-wise brilliant writer

For those who are in the dark about this whole business, please go to this link:

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Thank you, Kate Morton!

As the page was turned and the last line read, Susan experienced an unexpected sinking in her heart. Of course, this is how it has to end.  She nodded, closing the book cover.

Susan had thumbed back nearly 70 pages as the end loomed.  All her conclusions and interpreted clues cried out against the inevitable.  But, no.  The author had pulled subtle threads, snipped here and there, and the last pages surprised her.

That so seldom happens to me. Ahhh…. Susan smiled in pleasure.  Thank you, Kate Morton.

Kate Morton is the author of The Forgotten Garden, The House at Riverton, and The Distant Hours.  

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Bruce Willis...Who knew?

A Good Day to Die Hard is a movie just released, and we will go see it. 

Bruce Willis surprises me.   In the 1980s, he was a co-star with Cybil Shepherd in Moonlighting.  She was an established celebrity, a famous successful model.  Bruce Willis was an unknown, just-another-cocky actor who would try for stardom in an unlikely show about a failing detective agency.  Classy rich Shepherd becomes the new owner, Willis is the street-wise mouthy fast-talking detective, and flirtation is rife.

Somehow, Moonlighting was a big success.  Bruce Willis was a big success.  He did not fade into the annals of “Where is he now?” Who knew? 

Since then Bruce Willis has made many action movies which my husband and I have seen.  I know, I know…but for some reason, Bruce (may I call him that?) and his smooth gutsy style makes destruction, gun fights, death-defying stunts enjoyable. 

In preparation for our viewing of his new movie we are having our own DVD marathon of the Die Hard movies.  The first one was released in 1988, when we were in late 30s: the new one finds us at 60.  Bruce gets totally thrashed in previous movies, and I expect he will again one last time.

Call me shallow, but I (the retired teacher/grandma) truly relish his movies.  Who knew?

Friday, February 15, 2013

Answers? What is the Question?


Answers, we all want answers.  From early toddlers to very elderly adults, we all ask questions and expect answers.  No, demand answers.

It is a myth, these elusive answers.  Disappointing, I know. 

However, I have compiled a list of universal answers to many of those questions.  Choose the answer which best fits the question poised over your head:

A good strong cup of tea


Why do you ask?



Think about it.

Later, maybe.


Not now.

Wear comfortable shoes.

It takes time.

You have the flu; go to bed.

Eat more fiber.

Slow down.

Do any of these answer some of your questions?  Do you have some possible answers to add to this list?  Put them in your comment!  Thanks.  No. I’m fine. Get a job.  Cut up your credit cards….

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Love is in the air...

Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day.  Rejoicing all around!

Please don’t get me wrong—it is a wonderful day and a HUGE money maker in all sorts of ways.  Who doesn’t love Godiva chocolate?  Strawberries dipped in cheaper chocolate?  Triple-the-regular price roses with chocolate?  Champagne with chocolate?  An over-the-top Hallmark card (with chocolate)?

Yes, I am a cynic when it comes to Valentine’s Day.  Maybe it is the twenty years of teaching that crushed the joy within.  In fact, it IS the twenty years of teaching.

Valentine’s Day created pervasive insanity in the classroom.  The day of the traditional “making the individual Valentine’s Day boxes” was the instigator.  The neat stacks of red, pink, white, and lavender construction paper and the Elmer’s glue bottles set off an explosion.  From there it was always hard to contain.

The next day the cards were placed into the personalized boxes, sly smiles exchanged.  The parents brought in obscene amounts of sweets, cards were opened in a flurry, and then BAM! the day was over. 

What will my beloved and I do on Valentine’s Day?  We are going to see Garrison Keillor at Point Loma College.  Tickets cost $45+ each.  That blows the chocolate budget right there.

Here is something for your Valentine's Day pleasure:

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

To my grandchild with love...

In her 84th year, Amy Peck sensed that her time was growing short.  Winter would soon arrive and death with it.  While she still remained in her small house, Amy examined her imposing bookcase.  It held so much of her life.

The bottom shelf was weighted down with books from her college years when she first studied to become a medical doctor.  Circumstances forced her to become a pharmacist.  Amy brushed her hands along them.  Organic Chemistry.  Pharmaceutics.  Advanced Mathematics.  Biology and Anatomy.  Heavy tomes even then, but these books were as concrete now. 

The next row contained collections of sermons given by William Spurgeon, 1887.  These Amy inherited from her mother-in-law, Laura A. Peck.  Perhaps she treasured these books more than the first row?

The third shelf up was a collection of books given to her over the years from family.  Knowing that Amy was a voracious reader with a questing mind, family had chosen carefully from contemporary publications.

The final shelf was Amy’s favored book shelf.  It held the treasured books of poetry, her Bibles, journals of poetry she had written, photographs carefully placed in small albums…the representation of her life that was most accessible.

It was here that Amy Peck began the last part of her literary journey.  She pulled volume by volume out, one at a time.  Opening the musty cover with a pen poised over the fly-leaf, Amy considered the book.  Then she wrote. 

“To Susan  With love from, Grandma   Read and enjoy these words that meant so much to me”

Amy worked her way down the bookshelf with the help of her daughter Helen.  When the books were all assigned to people whom she felt believed would love them best, Amy felt was pleased; her journey was almost over.  

She had sent her beloved books forward, like precious gifts.

Will this happen in the future?  Will my grandchild hold one of my favorite books with her name “To….From….” written with love?  Will her child hold a grandmother’s treasured Treasure Island and appreciate that her grandma knew she would love each word?

Kinda hard to do with a Kindle.  

Click here to visit my other site about my family

Friday, February 8, 2013

The Sky is Pink


This is a scary thought, because it really is not just a thought: it is a reality.

Here it is:  If you repeat a lie often enough, it will become the truth.

IF I told my students “The sky is pink!”  a thousand times a day, for days on end, eventually one student might look up at the blue blue sky.  He might say, “Why, you’re right!  It IS pink!”  Soon every student would agree with him.


So a lie becomes the “new” truth. 

Where will it all end?

In this video clip from “Star Trek: Next Generation”, Jean Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart) has been captured by the evil Cardassians (not Kim or Kourtney).  David Warner is the interrogator who relentlessly and brutally questions Picard.  

But first Warner has to break Picard.  He shows Picard four lights, tells him repeatedly there are three lights.
At the end as Picard is rescued, he is peering up into the lights, on the edge of breaking down.  Are there three or are there four?

The new truth:  what will we do with it?

(This is an excellent episode, and worthwhile to view in its entirety.)

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Where I Am From....

A delightful blogger, Molly Bawn has challenged me to write my own take on her wonderful poem/prose about her life story.  You must read it!

 Molly writes with an Irish flow. Delores writes poetry that brings tears. Arleen has wry humor and perspective.  Joanne connects past and present seamlessly.  Dee brings introspection and wisdom with her writing. My own writing is that of a Midwest story teller.  

That said, here is a lengthy post:  

The road home

Take that straight road, the one over there.  Road flows past maple trees, now yellow, bright like birthday candles.  Go on past the corner where the old school house used to be. A mound of crumbled red bricks mark where children once played.

Stay on this road, but not too fast.  Just gaze at those cornfields to the west.  

Good crop this year, tassels are dancing in the breeze, the tangled silk is spilling out the shy ears tightly wrapped  like a present.  Like strands of gold running down the stalks.

Good full corn.  Silk is almost ready to brown.

A row of battered mailboxes are on the left, all people I once knew. Names of people long gone are streaked off.  Strong farmers and patient farm wives.  Good people.  Their paths crossed mine time and again.

That big barn, covered with vines?  Old couple lived on that patch of ground, but their house is almost gone, chewed down by creeping ivy and violent weeds.  Like fingers from the ground wrapping around the wood frame and pulling it into the soil.  

Stretches of field after field drift on across flat land.  Stand of corn over on the right is strong, tall this year.  A parade could hide in the rows.  But the beans on the left?  

Creek flooded its banks, covered the field in knee-deep creek water. Beans turn yellow when saturated roots drown.  Too much water this year, not enough next year.

This angry creek pours it muddy waters out over the fields every spring, but farmers continue planting. "Maybe this year will be better..."  Never is, but farmers stake their lives in hope.

The road will fork off, but a dirt road goes on straight over a quiet creek and by the bluffs.  A rusty old bridge stands astride this wide welcoming creek.  Traveled that road so many times.  

Did my share of splashing in that creek on steaming July days.  So did my folks.  So did their folks.  Life is lived to the fullest in a cold creek on a hot day.

But don’t take the dirt road, although you could, but it’s a long stretch of bumpy back road. It will rattle your bones loose.  And it won't take us where we must go.

Swing over to the road to the left, follow its wide curve like a bow.  Let the road take you slowly, or you’ll fly off into those bean fields.  Don’t want to get stuck out there—that clay mud will suck the car down to the fenders. Seen it happen.

That road will glide over a new wide bridge, put in twenty years ago over angry creek.  Follow the rise to a big house and a mud-splattered truck.  

From there, oh my! from there your eyes will want to rest a bit.


Gaze at rolling land, rich and green.  Fields and cows, barns and houses, trucks and tractors, families with lots of children. 

The Land is everything. Land remains.


So much life! Awe will steal air from your lungs.  

Take your time, look.  

Your eyes may want to race over the velvet land.  Land does not give up its secrets with ease, or let you study footprints stamped deep in the earth.  

Ancient stone arrowheads lie just beneath growing wheat, bones beneath corn.  
Old nations crossed over this plain, dwelt on this land, and faded sadly into mists. 

Wagons once rattled along hunting trails. Houses appeared, disappeared.  

Flash, flash.  

One generation to another builds and leaves.  Always shifting into mists in the west.  

The land stays, but people move on.


Wait!  Now, there

That is where I am from, that farmhouse right thereSee it?  Two stories of windows, white paint, green roof?  Turn in at the mail box. The name is almost faded out, but it is still a ghost on the tin.

Quick! The north porch, see it?  The begonias are bursting out of their pots this year.  See those boots?  That means Dad is inside, and Mom is watching out the kitchen window for us.

Look now.  The barn over there? The trees made for climbing?  

Run, hurry inside and don’t blink.  

‘Cause if you do, this will all vanish.  

An older post about "Home" can be found here.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Black Is the Color of My Truth Love's Hair

Joan Baez has had an amazing career.  Her voice—that incredible soprano voice—rang out as a voice of our generation.  There are too many roads to take down this topic, the wide genre of her songs.  Instead, the one song that rings clearest in my memory is “Black is the color…”

A question niggles in my brain:  What is it about the color black that pervades the design world?

Why are TV remotes black? Is it possible that Sony or RCA want us to lose the remotes in the dark recesses of sofa cushions knowing that the black remotes will remain hidden?

Why are many purse linings black, or nearly black?  Is it possible that, by making the linings dark, little items (nail clippers, lipstick, lip-gloss) will disappear, thus requiring further purchases?

Why do fancy dress events involve black/dark suits and dresses?  The ‘little black dress’: Why is it the important dress in the closet?  

For that matter, why do members of the Clergy wear black cassocks, black suits, black nun habits, etc.?  Why?  

In the beginning two questions, the color black perhaps denotes dignity and stylishness.  In the last question, maybe the color black indicates a desire to shed worldly attachments. Just guessing here...

Teenagers seem to go through an ‘all-black-Goth’ stage.  Black hair, black clothing, coal-black eye make-up—this is supposed to shout out to the world that they are individuals making a statement.  

Oddly, when they are all together, they appear to be wearing uniforms.

Spies, burglars, movie villains, and Harry Potter characters all are dressed in black.  The Adams family—stylish black clothing.  Matrix—really cool black clothing. 

Enough of this rant.

Anyway, enjoy this song.

Friday, February 1, 2013


From phone camera

Martha and her Collette had spent much of their fish lives gracing the tank in Dr. Reman’s medical office.  Their job was to flutter their golden fairy fins, float effortlessly from one end of the four foot tank and then back again. 

No sense of time ever ruled in their world.

Martha and Collette had normal fish expectations: food, swim, release waste products.  Repeat. This was absolutely fine.

Then Jerome arrived.  Tiny Jerome.

His job was to buzz around furiously, a gray and browned striped tiny shark-like fish.  Jerome was not there for looks; he was there to eat the waste products and clean algae from the rocks, wafting sea plants, and the castle which served as a place to linger.

Jerome expected nothing else, until he saw Collette.  Gazing into one eye on her side and then the other eye, Jerome sensed a shift in the tank world.

What is more, Collette sensed it as well.

Martha saw the exchange and fluttered in between them.  Jerome sped down to the castle, behind a rock.  He waited, hoping that Martha would forget Collette and wander off to the aerator. 

Then, Jerome darted out, flying through the water to Collette. Their side fins brushed lightly against each other briefly, but just enough to send vibrations of deep emotion shivering through them.

Martha broke up the sensual caress and chased Jerome away.  Watching his retreat, Martha felt the same exultation Collette had felt, the same longing.

Jerome.  Tiny Jerome.  Jerome the Gigolo.

One's imagination runs rampant while waiting in the doctor office.