About Me

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Recent retiree--35 year's experience teaching reading, English, adult basic education and volunteer leadership skills. Started this blog to exchange ideas and commentary with friends and others having an interest in joining the discussions. Greatest life accomplishments include: 1.organized my 3rd grade class to check out library books for me to get around librarian's weekly limit--Amazon.com, the Mullins Elementary 3rd Grade Class of 1956 is still waiting for "thank you" notes; 2. volunteered in the Peace Corps, island of St. Kitts, West Indies; 3.taught adults to read, earn their GEDs., and speak English as a second language; 4. bought a border collie puppy for $6, got evicted rather than give him up, and began a life-long love affair with all things "Dog"; 5. joined a physical fitness boot camp in my mid-50s--don't mess with someone who's been doing regulation pushups in wet grass at 5:30 a.m.; 6. walked across Northern England with best friend Sally--over 80 miles from the Irish to North Seas; and 7. travelled to many foreign countries for pleasure and work.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Peggy Flobbins Look Alike

Checking the mailbox is a pleasure these days since I started exchanging postcards with people from all over the world. Every day I eagerly sift through the bills and junk mail for brightly colored handwritten cards with exotic stamps from interesting people from many countries outside the USA. Recently I was excited to receive snapshots of the Great Wall of China; a sunset over Dresden, Germany; and the Empress Catherine I Palace in St. Petersburg, Russia.

And then a few days ago this sweet card arrived from Leicestershire, England. I did a double take at first because this dog(Samy? I think. Unfortunately her name was blurred by the postal metering.) looks so much like Peggy Flobbins, a favorite blogosphere dog of mine for several years who also lives and occasionally blogs from England.

Peggy Flobbins, my favorite blog doggy diva, can be found at Lane's Write . Check her out, you'll be amazed at how much they resemble each other. Now I don't know much about Samy except that she's a 13 year old rescue. I'm better acquainted with Peggy Flobbins. She lives in a cozy house with her owner(servant?)Lane and two girls who think she's very amusing and photogenic. Peggy spends her days supervising Lane who sits at the kitchen table every day tippety tapping on the laptop. Peggy can't understand Lane's obsession with this writing stuff. Personally, she thinks days are better spent curled up sleeping with her sister Teabag or supervising making yogurt cakes or buns. In warmer weather she doesn't mind going for a stroll with Lane and Teabag. And she never passes up a good bounce on the trampoline with the Younger One.

Peg has opinions about many topics and sometimes Lane allows her to guest blog on Lane's Write, much to the delight of her many reader fans. At other times she's just happy to have hers and Teabag's photos in a blog post. In fact, the two of them are featured in the latest Lane's Write post modeling a cozy crocheted blanket. Prompted MANY favorable comments! Now I've known Peggy Flobbins for about two years and that's long enough to have discovered the major disappointment in her charmed life. You see, Peggy has been disappointed in love like so many other beautiful girls. If you're familiar with Cesar Millan, The Dog Whisperer, you know he has a trusty sidekick, Daddy the Pit Bull. Daddy has always led a glamorous life, first as a rapper's companion and then as Cesar's assistant in working with dogs that have gotten off on the wrong paw. Poor Pegs saw him on Facebook and immediately wanted to friend him. Daddy, sadly, has ignored this little English rose. What's a girl to do? I'm thinking Pegs should write a tell all book or her own blog. That may get Daddy's attention.

Now be sure to pop over to Lane's Write to meet Peggy and Teabag and have a good blog read courtesy of Lane.

December 1 Update: Peggy Flobbins had taken over Lane's blog to spread the word to all her fans that she has a double! Check out her post on Lane's Write. Now we're just waiting for contact from her double in Leichestershire to see what happens. Will they meet at a halfway spot? Will they like each other? Or, will they just have to communicate via blogs and Facebook? Stay tuned. . .

December 3 Update: Well the Double Dog story just gets better and better! I heard from a very excited Peggy Flobbins this morning with news that she has gotten a message from her Leichestershire double, Sally. Not only do they look alike but they have many things in common except for age. Sally is a 13 year old gentlewoman while Pegs is still a young thing. They both enjoy naps and biscuits. Both are rescues and pretty much are in charge of their respective households. Peggy is liking this idea of "double dogs" and now wants to find her Teabag's alter ego. She also promised to be on the lookout for Summit Musings' Willie the Pit Bull double. Could there be an English reality TV show in the works? If so, I hope it doesn't take as long as Spooks or Robin Hood to get to BBC America. . .

Monday, November 23, 2009


Giving thanks is the topic for this week's Fun Monday post. Our host is Wendy from Queensland in the great Down Under. In recognition that many Fun Monday participants live in the USA and will be celebrating Thanksgiving this week, Wendy suggests that we share things we are thankful for in our lives.

So, in no particular order here are five things that almost guarantee that every day is a G'day for me:

1. Willie the Pit Bull--he's 13 years old and my constant companion (sleeping under my desk right now). Taking care of him and going through our daily routines together is an on-going pleasure. Life would not be very much fun without a great pet.

2. Health--I just had a birthday a week ago and went through the annual pleasure and pain of physical exams and tests. Passed with good results, if not distinction. Sure, I could lose some weight and lower some of my vital numbers, but overall I'm strong, healthy, active and able to take care of myself and help my sister--that's a relief.

3. Secure retirement--in these uncertain economic times, I'm so thankful to have been in the workforce when saving for retirement was possible. Because I worked for two different organizations that had longevity and stablility, I was able to retire at 60 with an adequate income and health insurance.

4. Interesting friends--I am so lucky to have several long time friends who always have my back--in good times and bad. And then there's another whole group of friends that I've made through the magic of technology, like you dear Fun Monday bloggers. How great to be connected with interesting people from all over the world through blogging and my newest project, postcarding. Right now I'm looking at a beautiful postcard of the Rotterdam, Netherlands waterfront, last week it was the Great Wall of China. We do indeed live in a small world.

5. Books, films, and travel--the world is open to us through what we choose to read, great films we see and the places we go. I'm grateful to have unlimited access to all this on a daily basis. How better to understand and appreciate people who live differently from the way I do?

My list of "thankfuls" could have been a lot longer, but these five are tops from day to day. Over the weekend I was thinking about this post and trying to come up with something more original than a list when I ran across this youTube video of a soldier returning from Afghanistan being greeted by his golden retriever Gracie. The pure joy and love in this reunion is something I hope each of you experience in some way in your life.

Wishing each of you a very "thankful" holiday wherever you are. Now be sure to have a look at all the other thankful lists before Thursday!

Monday, November 16, 2009

When Christmas was Magical

This week's Fun Monday assignment is all about sharing some of our oldest possessions. Our host this week, Ari_1965 at Beyond My Slab , asks us to share some photos of our oldest possession and explain how we came to own it. Why have we hung on to it for all these years? For all of you who get crazy when you see or hear anything Christmasy two months before December 25, I apologize in advance. I'm with you. Thing is, the oldest possession I have is a rather fine collection of glass Christmas ornaments, many probably were made in the 1920-30s.

There was a time when I loved everything about Christmas--the sights, sounds, smells, and celebrations. I especially loved decorating my home with all the treasures I had collected over the years. A month before Christmas, I cleaned and polished everything, shopped for presents and wrapped each one in special paper and topped each gift off with a simple bow of fabric ribbon. A week before Thanksgiving I started watching the local tree lots and nurseries. When would they start selling Christmas trees and live greenery for homemade wreaths and roping? My tree of choice was always a fresh fraser fir from the mountains of North Carolina. Its fragrance was the essence of Christmas and its sturdy branches were spaced well to hold the largest and heaviest ornament.

Once I had the noble fir home and had gotten it to stand upright in the tree stand--a big challenge since I usually worked alone--it was time to get out my treasured collection of glass ornaments. For several years I rummaged through antique stores, flea markets, and yard sales on the lookout for the brightly colored ornaments that people gave up in favor of coordinated tree decorations in the 70s and 80s. These ornaments gleamed against the dark fir branches and multi-colored tree lights. I especially searched for ornaments made in West Germany, Poland and Czechoslovakia. Here's a sampling of some of my most prized ornaments:

In the lower portion of the photo you can see two examples of reflectors that fitted underneath a Christmas light bulb. The reflections from the colored lights made magic on the tree. In the center of the photo notice the brightly colored pendants. They were made in Poland.

Starting in the upper left corner, here's a close up of some extra large ornaments made in West Germany. I found these at an auction--about 10 in a box. Those with the indents are quite special:

Moving on to the upper right hand corner you can see examples of tinsel decorated ornaments, a pear shaped clear ornament with a tableau inside, and chenille tree that fitted over a bulb:

On the right the smaller, brightly colored balls are from Poland and Czechoslovakia and were made in the 1930s.

In addition to these European glass ornaments I also collected other unusual shapes:

Beginning in the lower left corner, the red clown is very old and almost patriotic. Perhaps made especially for sale in the U.S. Moving clockwise, you can see my collection of glass musical instruments. Also notice the lamp with a green shade and gold lace fringe--a great find. Beside the lamp are some of my favorite shapes of Shiny Brites. These familiar striped ornaments where manufactured in the U.S. after WW II and hung on many trees, along with large colored lights. In the front center are three kugel grape clusters. These ornaments are German and can be identified by their heavy weight and flat ornamental cap.

I stopped putting up a Christmas tree the year that Willie was a pup. I couldn't stand the thoughts of him breaking any of the ornaments or turning the tree over. Both catastrophes were distinct possibilities. That was 13 years ago. I haven't given these ornaments away so maybe there is a tree in my future. . .

Now be sure to check out the possessions that other Fun Monday participants are still hanging on to. Do you think it's true that we are our "stuff"?

Monday, November 9, 2009

Ben's Daily Schedule vs Mine

Our daily schedule is the topic for this week's Fun Monday. Our host is the very busy working student mom, Gracie over at Mama Rehema's . She wants a description of our typical day. When do we get up? Go to bed? What do we do to get going? Wind down? And all those activities in between? Now before I share my very laid back retired schedule, I thought you might be interested in another person's schedule for comparison. Say Ben Franklin's, a man famous for accomplishing a lot in a day. This daily schedule is from Ben Franklin: An Autobiography and Other Writings.

There's a lot to admire about Ben's schedule. I wish my day followed his pattern, but it doesn't. What better way to start your day than by asking the question: What good shall I do this day? Followed by taking stock at the end of the day--What good have I done today? In between Ben takes the time to connect with "Powerful Goodness", his perception of God. Franklin was not a traditionally religious man, rejecting much of the stern Puritan beliefs of his day. Instead he believed that the greatest service of God was in doing good for man. When I study Ben's schedule, balance and moderation come to mind. He rises, contemplates some higher purpose, gets cleaned up, plans and organizes his day, eats breakfast. Then he works until mid-day when he stops to rest and refresh himself with food for mind and body. After that he resumes work. When the workday is done, he puts things in order and then he spends his evening in pleasurable pursuits--dinner and conversation, music, reading. He ends his day by meditating on what he has accomplished, then he sleeps. A day well spent.

I imagined I would spend my retired days much differently than I do. I thought there would be a schedule that, like Ben's, balanced work and pleasure. I would maintain a very organized, efficient household and still have time to have fun and be creative. Instead, I spend a lot of time caregiving and then compensate by not using my free time that wisely--I escape from my current reality a lot. So Gracie, here's what my daily schedule looks like:

2:00-3:00 a.m. Go to bed

8:00-8:30 a.m. Wake up, leash up Willie for trip to paperbox, feed him, make coffee

9:00-10:00 a.m. Drink coffee, eat breakfast, read newspaper

10:00-11:00 a.m. On computer--e-mails, blogs, more news

11:00-2:30 p.m. Household chores, yardwork, errands & appointments, lunch, read

2:30-3:30 p.m. Walk Willie

3:30-4:30 p.m. On computer again, read

4:30-6:30 p.m. Cook and eat dinner, watch news, clean kitchen, straighten and tidy things

6:30-8:00 p.m. Watch Netflix DVDs on computer

8:00- 11:00 p.m. Watch prime time TV, read, paperwork

11:00-2:00 a.m More Netflix, read, blogging

2:00-3:00 a.m Go to Bed

My good friend S has just retired and she can't get over the freedom you feel after so many years working full time and being accountable for your schedule. I understand. My days don't have much form to them and I like it that way. Although, I keep thinking I could make better use of my time. . .

Friday, November 6, 2009

Kitty Knows

"After reading you blog I couldn't resist sending you this":

My longtime friend Kittyhawk sent this message this afternoon after reading my most recent post, "Listography Q & A". I laughed out loud when I opened the kitty attachment. After revealing that not only do I have years of journals, I also do very self-absorbed exercises like making life event timelines and personal photo collages from childhood to the present. I deserved a good ribbing and who better than a friend to do it!

Yep, you're right Kitty. I am a mess at times. And one of the advantages to blogging is that you can go ahead and reveal some of that in your writing without too much loss of face. Kitty knows and so do your friends, but they accept you anyway.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Listography Q & A

This week's Fun Monday assignment is all about questions and answers. Our host, the lovely butterfly Mariposa gives us the opportunity to reveal a bit more about ourselves to our friends in the blogosphere, something we haven't shared before. Then in the second part of the assignment, she asks us to come up with three questions for our readers. Finally, we're to go to each Fun Monday participant's post and answer the questions posed. I've peeked at a couple of your posts and this is going to be an amusing and revealing exercise. I decided to borrow from Lisa Nola's Listography, a do it yourself autobiography in lists, for my questions.

I've been interested in memoir for many years, filling journals with daily writings about whatever was on my mind at the time. I've also created lifelines where you record significant events in your life as either positive(above the base line--1951 started school) or negative(below the base line--1968 not accepted in graduate school at first). I wish I could show you what this looks like, but it's a bit too personal. It does, however, give a very graphic picture of a life--both the highs and lows. Another interesting memoir exercise that I've worked on is to make a photo timeline. By now you're probably thinking, "Come on! Just how self absorbed can you be? But, when you study photos of one person at different stages of life you get the whole picture. And, if it's your own photos, you remember what was happening in your life when that photo was taken and what you were feeling.

Nola's Listography is a really fun way to capture some of the details and experiences of your life that you'd like to remember, from the mundane to sublime: List your favorite teachers. List the best days of your life. List your favorite childhood toys. List your biggest regrets. Put all these lists together and you have a life.

So now to Mariposa's assignment:

1. Share something you wish your readers would know about you. I am film fanatic. First run films showing about town, TV, and Netflix. I especially love independent films, British period drama, foreign films (especially Czech), intelligent crime dramas. I've seen 25 first run movies since January. In October alone I watched several full series on Netflix: Islands at War, Lilies, Almost Strangers, Wire in the Blood, Michael Collins, The Interpreter, Zelary and The Country Teacher(two good Czech films). After looking at this list would you be surprised to know that there are leaves that need raking, and a house that needs de-cluttering and cleaning? :-)

Three questions for you to answer in my "Comments":

1. List past jobs you've had.
--babysitter, house cleaner, caterer, reading/English teacher, education consultant, trainer

2. List things you love and despise.
--love dogs, friends, travel, books, films, kindness
--despise intolerance, things that don't work, obnoxious behavior, cruelty

3. List things you like to do on your day off.
-- stay home, drink coffee and read the paper, walk Willie, watch movies on Netflix, read

So, there you have it--what this inquiring mind wants to know about her blog friends. I'll be around shortly to answer all your questions.