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.

Monday, September 27, 2010

October 4 Fun Monday Signup - Favorite Family Photos

And now ladies and gentlemen we start the third month's push to revive Fun Monday in the blogosphere. I'm your host for October. The rules are simple if you want to play. A host for the week--or month--selects a random topic and then everyone offers up their particular slant on the subject in a Monday post. All you have to do is sign up and the host publishes the list of participants. Write your post for the assigned topic and then sit back and wait for those lovely comments that we all crave.

October 4 Topic: Favorite Family Photo -- share that one family photo that you just love for whatever reason. It makes you smile. It reminds you of someone who is no longer with you. It perfectly illustrates your family spirit. Basically, you're just plain glad that you have the photo. It can be a photo from the past like this one of the Stevens Family circa 1909 (did someone say stair steps?) or this year's casual family vacation photo. Your choice.

We have a volunteer! Julie at Another Chance Ranch has just confirmed that she will take on hosting duties for November. Thanks!

Thanks to Pamela and Sayre for helping me sort out Mr. Linky, offered below for your convenience in signing up to play.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Fun Monday - Three Wishes

Bravo to our host Sayre for keeping Fun Monday going for the entire month of September. She closes the month with an intriguing assignment: What are our Three Wishes? If getting our heart's desires were as simple making wishes, what would they be?

I feel almost guilty rattling off these wishes because I do believe that anything worth having is worth putting in the effort and time to achieve it. But hey, this once Sayre is going to be our genie and we can have our wishes granted just like that! Here are mine:

Wish 1 -Health

In about two months I'll hit mid 60s which is beginning to sound rather old. But truthfully, I don't worry about longevity. I do, however, care a lot about quality of life--in mind, body, and spirit. So my first wish is that as I age my body doesn't betray me and weaken with infirmaties and disease. I hope my mind continues to work and that I'll always be interested in learning something new. Finally, I want to go into old age with a peaceful, loving and tolerant spirit--a live and let live attitude.

Wish 2 - World Travel

Second wish would be that I would have the health, freedom and financial resources to travel to foreign countries every year. I've been fortunate to have visited almost 20 other countries in my adult life--some like the West Indies and Ukraine staying long enough to understand the culture. There's so much more of the world I want to see--its lands, people and culture. Next summer I hope to tour Scandinavia and then in following years more of eastern Europe, Turkey and Greece and then on to Asia.

Wish 3 - Choral Music

Final wish would be to be a part of a great community choir. I sang in glee clubs and choruses in high school. I entered college determined to major in vocal music, studying voice and participating in college choirs. In college and into adulthood I always sang in Methodist church choirs, loving the great Protestant hymns. Those groups haven't been a part of my life for many years and I miss them. I'm sad to realize that I no longer have that clear, confident soprano voice any more. This summer I've been following a wonderful almost documentary-like program on BBC where a young choirmaster goes into working class schools and communities in England and recruits locals of all ages to sing together. Here's a sample of the South Oxhey Community Choir. Just look at the pride and joy on their faces as they sing Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah". I'd like that experience again.

(Image credit:"Three Wishes" Ilfochrome Print by Loretta Lux)


And now a word about October Fun Mondays. I'll be hosting the full month. Check back here every Wednesday to sign up for the upcoming week. If you want to participate, just leave me a comment at any time and I'll get you on the list.

October 4 Topic: Favorite Family Photos--share one--or two--that has special meaning for you and tell us why.

And, it's never too early. Who wants to host for November?

Monday, September 20, 2010

Fun Monday - The Hermit

The Hermit, a collage by Lunaea Weatherstone, is described this way: "A woman sits in contemplation at the edge of a still northern lake. The sky above her is heavy with clouds and storms threaten, yet she remains under the lowering sky, thoughtful. She dwells here alone, one who has come away from the noise of the world and the comforts of companionship to hear her own inner voice and to read the messages in the sky, water, and stone. Without distraction, seemingly without connection to the world . . .This is the country of silence. . .the deep need of the soul for quiet solitude. . .Give yourself this gift."

Sayre , our Fun Monday host for this week asks us about our Quiet Places. What do we take refuge in when we need to escape life's crazies and renew our spirit? Well, since I live alone with Willie the laid back pit bull, finding a quiet place is not the challenge it may be for some of you who are surrounded by family, work and community. I am by nature a hermit, perfectly happy to stay home with all the interferences from the outside world tuned out (except blogging and facebook :-) Many weeks, except for daily dog walks, I may leave home only once. I am happy to at last be able to shut out the world after years of being with people. However, I still need the "comfort of friendship" so I'll meet my friends for days of shopping and crafting, lunch, a movie, or play.

But to get to that Quiet Place that Sayre asks about, I have to go it alone. Julia Cameron, author of The Artist's Way and my favorite writing and creativity coach, recommends weekly expeditions where you explore something new on your own. These Artist Dates, as she calls them, allows you to totally tune into the experience without being concerned about being a good friend or travel companion. With the lovely days of fall coming on, I have some Artist Dates planned where I'm only concerned about my own enjoyment:

Fall Antiques Market at the Historic Locust Grove mansion in Louisville where I can wander through over 100 booths filled with American country antiques and treasures. Who knows what I'll find to help me remember the day?

Another week I'll check out "Mary Ann Currier: Floral Drawings", a still life exhibition by local artist Mary Ann Currier. I love her paintings because they remind me of Old Dutch Masters, like this one--Face Downward. Later in the fall I have tickets for an Iris DeMent concert at Kentucky Country Day School Theater. Iris is a singer/songwriter with country and folk influences. She's not exactly top 40, but hangs out with some pretty tall company like Emmylou Harris, John Prine, and James Taylor. She's also an acquired taste as you can hear from this performance of "Our Town" with harmonies by Emmylou:

So, I'm looking forward to these solo adventures, plus others still to be discovered. Poking around in the past, beautiful art, and music that reminds me of my roots. All good Quiet Places for me to escape and renew the spirit.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Fun Monday - Wild about Harry's Eyes--and Mine

This is a bit of a jumbled Fun Monday post because I'm going to hit on two loosely related topics. Our host for September is Sayre, she of the lovely Sayre Smiles . For today, the original topic was: who would be your freebee (person you would leave a relationship for) and why? Amended topic is to describe our favorite body part--and least, if we want to dwell on the negative a bit. See what I mean by jumbled!

Since I never miss an opportunity to sing the praises of my favorite British actor, the fabulous Richard Armitage, I planned to write about him today, including his piercing blue eyes. In my case, the eyes also have it as my own favorite body part. Blue, but not as amazing as Richard's. So, to the tune of "Close My Eyes" by the Backstreet Boys, here's some glimpses of RA in his best roles. I think you'll agree that he has many body parts which we can admire! :-)

I first learned about Richard Armitage a couple of years ago when blogger friend Laurie steered me to the British period drama "North and South" where he played John Thornton, an 1850s cotton manufacturer in northern England, who fell into conflict--and love--with Margaret Hale, a genteel parson's daughter from southern England. Here they are trying to understand each others' ways:

Next I saw him through three seasons of the BBC's re-make of "Robin Hood" where he played Sir Guy of Gisborne, the villainous henchman for the Sheriff of Nottingham who was terrorizing Robin's village when he returned from the Crusades. Great swashbuckling fun as they fought through Sherwood Forest and competed for the love of Maid Marian.

Next it was Richard as the painter Claude Monet in "The Impressionists".

Then there was the comedic side for Richard's acting talents when he played Harry Kennedy, the posh London accountant, who fell for the village vicar on "The Vicar of Dibley".

Richard next took on the role of a British intelligence agent Lucas North in MI-5 or Spooks with stories of bombings, espionage, and terrorist threats ripped from the daily headlines from all over the world. He played the newest agent on the MI-5 Grid, just released from many years in a Russian prison and suffering the effects while he used that experience to beat the Russians at their own game.

The main thing I love about Richard Armitage, aside from his obvious great looks and star appeal, is that he approaches each acting role as a serious student intent on capturing the essence of the character whether it's a modern day spy or medieval villain. But most of all, let's not forget those amazing blue eyes.

Part 2 -- Faye's Eyes
In my opinion, my eyes are my best feature. When I look closely at the photo of me as a five year old I see kindness, curiosity,and humor in this steady gaze. That has not changed--I hope--over the years.

Two negatives. Wish my eyes were larger and not so deep set. And there are times when I wish I could lose the glasses. I've worn them since I was in grade school, every day, all day. As I've gotten older have accepted this as a necessity and treat eyeglasses as a fashion accessory, selecting the most modern frames and lens options. Right now I'm excited because I'm getting new specs in the next month. Will I go for the tortoise shell studious look or the black modern frames like Annette Benning in "The Kids are Alright"?

So, there you have it Sayre. As promised, a jumbled celebration of eyes--mine and Richard's.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Fun Monday - Knitting with Mrs. Moskowitz

Here we are--the first Monday in September and the always on the move Sayre over at Sayre Smiles has volunteered to host Fun Monday for the month. Her question for September 6 is: what would you like to learn? Well, I hope to always be a student and want to learn something new. But when I read her assignment I thought knitting. I learned sewing, quilting, embroidery(crewel and counted cross stitch),and needlepoint from older women whom I knew growing up. I didn't know any knitters though.

I am seduced by the wonderful colors and textures of yarns that are tucked in all the cubbyholes in a yarn shop. I've bought yarn, instruction books, and needles over the years thinking I could teach myself to knit. I've paid good money for classes and in the latest one had the distinction of being the slowest and worst student in the class. Very hard on the old pride. In fact, I dropped out before getting to my simple goal of knitting a granny dishcolth or simple scarf. I'm using the excuse of being a leftie for my inability to knit. In truth, it is more of a challenge because most instructions are for right-handers.

After failing in a live knitting class I did what we all do today--went to the Internet for help. And on youtube I discovered Mrs. Moskowitz, an excellent knitting teacher. She demonstrated the mysteries of making that initial slip knot,casting on and the basic knitting stitch. Look how simple she makes beginning knitting for the most fumble-fingered:

How easy it was to collect my yarns and needles and sit down at the computer for a quick lesson from Mrs. Moskowitz. I could learn at my own pace, rewinding when I got tangled up or stop to practice a certain stitch. I liked having a pile of yarn in front of me when I watched Netflix movies and TV programs. It was very peaceful to have this handwork to do while zoning out on screen. When the weather got so hot I put the yarn away but now with the hint of cool fall weather I'm ready to start learning again. Who know? Maybe I'll finish scarf--or a bookmark-- by November. You can be sure I'll post a photo of what Mrs. M and I have done when it finally happens!

To all the Fun Monday bloggers and readers in the U.S., have a great Labor Day doing exactly what makes you happy. To blogger friends from other parts, you're welcome to celebrate with us.

(Painting: The Knitting Girl by William-Adolphe Bouguereau, 1869)