About Me

My photo
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.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Fun Monday - Frank's House

Well, here we are at the end of a month's attempt to resuscitate Fun Monday. Not sure that we were successful, but here's my take on the last topic from Mariposa , our host for this month. She asks for a show and tell of the favorite part of our home. I've written about this several times. It's the den "hidey hole" where I work at my computer, watch movies and read. So, I'll range a bit further and tell you about my favorite style of architecture. If I could have a dream home it would be designed by Frank Lloyd Wright and look like this:

This is the Rev. Jesse R. Zeigler House, a private residence in Frankfort, Kentucky. This house is the only Frank Lloyd Wright design in Kentucky. Wright designed the home for Rev. Ziegler, a Presbyterian minister whom he met on board a ship bound for Europe in the early 1900s. The house sits in a neighborhood just down the street from the Kentucky state capitol buildings.

A couple of weeks ago a few friends met at the Ziegler house for a private tour by someone who house sits for the current owners quite regularly. L is also a student of the architect Wright so she was able to give us the inside scoop on this house as well as Wright's rather flamboyant lifestyle and eccentricities. For example, he only earned $500 for this house design. It was known as a prairie style for its open floor plan. On the first floor the living room flowed into the dining room and then on into the kitchen. Above the fireplace there was a lighted stained glass case at ceiling level, visible in both the living and dining rooms. In the "public" rooms the windows were uncovered and almost floor to ceiling leaded glass with decorative designs. Wright called these windows "light screens".

Since the Zeigler house is a private residence I can't show you any of insides. Too bad because the house is a wonderful example of simplicity, craftsmanship, and functionality of a Frank Lloyd Wright plan. It looked very much like this interior, which is also a Wright house: I would want a house filled with Wright's Arts and Crafts furniture like this writing desk and table:

Many years ago I was on a roadtrip between Boston, MA and Buffalo, NY and, by accident, discovered the area of the Adirondack Mountains where Gustav Stickley, a German immigrant, started the Arts and Crafts movement, including homes and furniture. I fell in love with this simple well-made furniture, touring the Stickley furniture company and sales area. I even remember staying in the Craftsman's Inn where the rooms were furnished with Arts and Crafts furniture .

It's a bit late in my homeowning ventures to have this kind of house, but if it were 30 years earlier, I'd be living in such a place.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Fun Monday -- Time Travel to the Kentucky State Fair '05

The Fun Monday assignment for August 23rd is a piece of cake--or more aptly in this instance a pork chop sandwich. Mariposa , our host for August, asks us to describe where we were on August 23, 2005. I didn't really even need to check my old calendar because if it's mid-August I would have been manning a children's exhibit in the education wing of the Kentucky State Fair. That's 11 long days of fair goers--the good, bad, and ugly.

In 2005 I was working for Kentucky Farm Bureau, one of the largest agricultural organizations in the state. Part of my job responsibilities was agricultural education for students and teachers. Put simply, we tried to help children make the connection between the foods they ate and the farmers who grew the food. So every year at the state fair we designed activities that would help children understand that the food they bought in the grocery store was grown on a farm and then processed into popular foods like pizza, french fries, or cereal.

If you've been to a state fair you understand that it's a madhouse of people out for a day of looking at the farm animals on show, going through exhibits picking up all kinds of junk that never makes it out of the fair tote bag. There's the midway games, the amusement rides, concerts and food that you wouldn't eat any other time of the year like this year's donut cheeseburger with two Krispy Creme glazed donuts as the bun (I can hardly type this it's so wrong. . .).

My smart young sidekick Susie and I tried to design an exhibit booth where kids could slow down for a few minutes, play a game and learn about agriculture. We also gave them really cool junk like tattoos and comic books. Teachers got lesson plans. Each year it was a challenge to come up with fun activities. The smiling little guy in this photo has successfully matched food models with the correct farm product. Example: milk and cheese with the dairy cow, drumstick and scrambled eggs with the chicken. One year we played Assembly Line Antics to help kids understand how food is processed and marketed. Each kid got to go through several stations with pans of trail mix goodies like gold fish crackers, raisins, pretzels, and M & Ms. They scooped up their personal favorites in a baggie and then at the end of the line used crayons and colored markers to design a label for their own bag of trail mix, giving it an original name like "Kelly's Moonrocks and Asteroids". It was nice to see them scamper off with their original bag of trail mix. They were so proud, even the little ones.

The year of the giant pizza puzzle was a favorite exhibit. We had a huge 42 in. wooden pizza cut with a jigsaw, painted and then cut again in pieces the size of a sheet of paper. We used metal pizza pans to mount photos of different pizza ingredients like peppers, tomatoes, cheese, pepperoni on the wall exhibits.

Kids were drawn to the size of this puzzle and enjoyed spending a few minutes working the puzzle. Sometimes whole families would work on the puzzle together, giving us a chance to teach them a bit about agriculture.

The fair is in full swing right now. I won't be going though. After all these years of working at the fair I'm glad to stay home. But in 2005 it was not a bad work assignment to be around kids for a week or so helping them have fun and learn something new.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Fun Monday - Colors of Our Lives

This is good--the third week of Mariposa's attempts to revive Fun Monday. Our topic for August 16 is: Colors of Our Lives, stories about our fascination, or lack thereof, with color.

If you look through my home there's very little evidence of how much I love color. This quilted wall hanging is a good example. A few years ago I made this Log Cabin design in a quilting class. The first step in the class was to go through the bolts and bolts of fabric and select the colors and fabric designs for our particular quilt pattern. I naturally headed to these earth and neutral tones while other students laid out bright and bold or soft pastels colors for their quilts.

Throughout the house there's very little color. Walls have been painted Porter's Queen Anne's Lace for many years. I have brown leather sofa and chairs. Bed and window coverings are in the same color family as this wall hanging. My closet is a lineup of mostly black and brown with just a touch of blue or red. Hey, I even prefer my dogs to be black, white and tan!

However, if you dig around here you'll find some evidence of color fascination. I dabble a bit in drawing and painting, especially watercolors. Am endlessly fascinated with color relationship and enjoy creating these color cards so when I do paint I can see the nuances of different color combinations in a painting. In watercolor classes I always got in a bit of trouble with my instructors when they tried to limit me to just cad yellow, burnt umber and sienna, cad red and alizaron crimson, thalo and ultramarine blue. I wanted every color tube at Preston Art Supply.
I'm also quite fond of watercolor pencils and have quite a collection. Each kind works differently on paper. The Derwent Inktense colors are very strong, even more so when brushed with water. The Derwent Graphitints are soft, dusty shades that work well for landscapes. The Rexel Derwents and Stabilo Aquiticos keep their bright clean colors even when overlaid with water and come in a fantastic range of colors with names like celadon green and tuscan red.
This week school begins here and I'm noticing all those ads for back to school supplies. If I were heading back to school I'd for sure need the biggest box of Crayolas and that packet of 48 magic markers because every life needs some color. This week when I'm checking out Fun Monday posts maybe I'll try to figure out favorite colors for each of you beforehand. Let's see, I think for Sayre it's probably blue?

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Mrs. O'Leary's Cow

Are you are familiar with the story of what caused the great fire of Chicago in 1871? If not, legend has it that Mrs. O'Leary was milking her cow one night by lantern light. And, as cows will do sometimes out of impatience or orneriness, she kicked over the milk pail and lantern, setting fire to the O'Leary cowshed. The fire quickly spread over much of Chicago burning everything in its path.

I remembered this tale yesterday when I got this call from my older sister who lives in an elderly housing complex about 10 minutes drive from my home. Opening inquiry went something like this:

Sister: "Have you been trying to 'get' me?"

Me: "No, why?"

Sister: "I've been sitting in the parking lot all morning. The firemen made us leave our apartments and just now let us back in the building. The woman in the apartment at the end was smoking while she had one of those oxygen breathing tubes up her nose (I know. . .). They say she fell asleep and set her chair on fire. The firemen came and put out the fire and now half the building is smoked damaged and people can't go back in their apartments. They have that yellow tape all around like you see on police shows. I can get in my apartment though."

Me to myself: "Thank god."

I am beginning to think that Sister M is my own Mrs. O'Leary's cow. You've maybe heard the reply that people sometimes make when someone throws out an apology that they don't really
mean? "Yeah, and Mrs. O'Leary's cow is probably sorry for kicking over the lantern but Chicago still burned!" This is the third fire scare that my sister has been involved in in the past two years. I am constantly worried about her and fire.

About this time in 2008 her apartment building caught on fire. All the apartments were destroyed or smoke damaged. Sadly, two people were killed in the blaze. My sister's apartment was badly smoke damaged. I decided to move her to Louisville--it was about a 400 mi roundtrip to see her--where I live so that I could do a better job of care giving. She lived with me for about five months while we found her a suitable apartment. Oh my, that was hard! Those of you who either live alone or have your own family understand what an upheaval it is to have someone else--even if it is family--in your home.

Finally, I got her settled in a safe elder living complex. Right off she threw her neighbors in a panic by setting off the smoke alarms. When she cooked or fried it was always at full tilt. Pots were boiling dry and burning, steam and smoke billowing, and grease sizzling. She couldn't be bothered with the vent fans so, of course, the smoke alarms went off. Concerned neighbors poured out of their apartments, and the firetrucks arrived! It was only yesterday that she admitted that she'd caused the firetruck runs. She did say that she left a note up in the hall apologizing to the neighbors for causing alarm. You see, Mrs. O'Leary's cow! If she's sorry, that should be enough--until the next time.

I suppose the point of this post is to vent about some of the ongoing challenges and frustrations for caregiving. I'm not cut out for it, but it is my reality. I know many of you are in the same boat. How are you coping?

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Fun Monday - Brands We Love

Third week in our attempts to revive Fun Monday. Mariposa very brilliantly took on this challenge by setting a whole month of topics so each of us could decide whether to Fun Monday post or do our own thing. Very laid back--I like it! Question: do we want to continue this course in September? It sure makes finding a host and keeping track of the topic a lot simpler. I'd be willing to do a month's worth of hosting if this appeals--either September or later on if someone is eager to volunteer right away. Your thoughts?

But now on to the topic for August 9: brand names which make life easy. I'll admit that I don't have a particular brand loyalty for any product I use regularly--car, computer, clothing, spaghetti sauce. With one exception and that's skin care products. After years of experimenting with all price ranges of products I pledge allegiance to this brand:

For many years I've used Origins products in my daily skin care routine. Each product is made from therapeutic plants andnatural essential oils without harsh chemicals. A big bonus is the delightful fragrance for each product. Here's my daily face and neck ritual: 1. Cleanse with Never A Dull Moment gel and water which contains crushed papaya to get rid of dingy, dead skin cells leaving the skin bright but not dried out. 2. Tone with United State balancing tonic. 3. Apply Eye Doctor moisture cream around eyes--it works, almost 65 years old and no eye lines, wrinkles, or bags. 4. Moisturize face with Starting Over, an age-erasing moisturizer with the delicious scent of mimosa, billed as a natural alternative to Botox injections. Only takes a few minutes twice a day and I'm ready for makeup or sleep. Best secret, other than inheriting good skin genes, is to NEVER go to sleep with makeup on your face.

The cost for Origins products is, I suppose, mid-range. They last a very long time, even with daily use, because you just use drops, dabs, and dribbles. I prefer to spend money on skin care instead of expensive makeup. Cheaper products for face and eye color work just fine. On that topic, don't you wish companies would make smaller amounts of blush, lipcolor, and eye shadows? I hate having to get married to one color. Much more fun to date around!

On Monday morning you can go over the Mariposa's place to get the list of players for this week and check out the brands we all love.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Fun Monday - Shoe Fetishes

So, this is the second week in Mariposa's attempt to revive Fun Monday. She's hosting all through August and has posted topics for each week at Mariposa Tales . Topic for August 2 is: all time favorite shoes.

Well, I like shoes a whole lot although you couldn't tell from my closet lineup of basic blacks which I've had since I was a working girl. I'll keep wearing what I have because it seems such a waste to buy new shoes when these are perfectly okay, although not very exciting. Last night (pretty sad for Saturday night, huh?)I checked out the new fall styles at Zappo's online. Here's what I'd buy just for fun if money and common sense were no object:
Flip flops -- love, love, love flip flops. Wear them every day at home no matter the season. About this time of the year I make sure to have a few pair squirreled away for the winter as well. Hot feet. . .

Really fine leather loafers are my choice of about town shoes that you slip on hurriedly as you head out the door--no buckles, bows, or contrast stitching though:

I'd chose these Eccos for more strenuous walking or long hours on my feet. And definitely if I were traveling, I'd wear these instead of white sneakers/tennis shoes, the fashion suicide of every American tourist:

Finally, about this time of the year there's need of a "culsha" outfit--something fashionable, dressy but comfortable and easy, for play, concert and dinner out season which opens in September (with The Kite Runner at Actor's Theater--I'm excited about this one). These little Naot bootlets would be great with a long skirt or pants and are very edgy, don't you think?

So, there you have my ideas for great shoes for any occasion. I'll check in with Maraposa on Monday to see what shoe fetishes you other Fun Mondayers have.