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.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Good Photos Challenge Day 16 - Silhouettes

30 Day Good Photos Challenge Day 16 Subject - Silhouettes

Not the dramatic variety--like ET flying across the moon--but a silhouette nevertheless. It's the dogwood tree in front of the house at high noon.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Good Photos Challenge Day 15 - Eyes

30 Day Good Photos Challenge Day 15 Subject - Eyes

Halfway to the challenge finish line. Don't know if my photos are getting any "gooder", but it sure has been fun. I enjoyed a friendship tea recently at Sister's Tea Room with this little pal--she's studying the tea listings. Love her almond-shaped eyes and those almost John Lennon style glasses.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Good Photos Challenge Day 14 - Long Exposure

30 Day Good Photos Challenge, Day 14 Subject - Long Exposure

Well, I'm a bit confused about the term "long exposure" even after some googling. Has to do with night and motion photography and, maybe, a bit of camera magic. Here's what I got with a dark room, flashlight and some colored dots. Cool, huh?

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Good Photos Challenge Day 13 - Yourself with 13 Things

30 Day Good Photos Challenge, Day 13 Subject - Yourself with 13 Things

Not sure what this photo reveals about me--misplaced priorities, too much time on my hands, basic shallowness? But here you have it. Proof of my ongoing search for the perfect neutral/nude nail polish. Cannot be too orange, or brown, nor too sheer and definitely no sparkle--OPI's "Passion" is ALMOST perfect. . .

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Good Photos Challenge Day 12 - Sunsets

30 Day Good Photos Challenge, Day 12 Subject - Sunsets

Okay, I'm puzzled. According to the weather guys our current conditions--heat, high humidity, haze or smoke in the atmosphere, pollution in the west, drought--should produce some colorful sunsets. This anemic pink shot on July 17 is the best I've been able to do.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Good Photos Challenge Day 11 - Something Blue

30 Day Good Photo Challenge, Day 11 Subject - Something Blue

Some of my favorite mementos of foreign travel include: my photos, postcards and stamps, bookmarks, paperweights, coffee mugs, paper and pencils, and small art pieces. Like this lovely cobalt blue dish that I found at the Pinfold Gallery in Bowness-on-Windermere in England's Lake District.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Good Photos Challenge Day 10 - Childhood Memory

30 Day Good Photos Challenge, Day 10 Subject - Childhood Memory

School Picture Day - in the days before everyone had cameras, videos, and iPhones, school picture day was a big deal. In the photo on left I'm 4 years old, on right 5. And, I was dying to go to school but couldn't enroll until 6 years old. To ease the pain a bit, my older sister took me to school on picture day.

Hairdos and dresses for the all important photo: On the left, my hair had been rolled on soft pink curlers the night before and then held back with hairbows that matched my dress. I remember that my mother made this dress from a green print feedsack (yep! I'm old). In photo on right, I was wearing my first store bought dress, a red polka dot. My hairstyle was a short bob capped by pin curl "horns". My no nonsense mother would never allow my hair to "hang in my eyes" (her words).

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Good Photos Challenge Day 9 - Someone You Love

30 Day Good Photos Challenge, Day 9 Subject - Someone You Love

No challenge at all for this photo. It has to be of Willie, my good old dog. He's 15 years old, a good eater and walker, doesn't hear much, pants like an obscene phone caller, and shows signs of dementia. The postman calls him Lumpy. I call him Dear.

Announcement from Willie: on the advice of my Agent I am calling a halt to the Servant/Paparazzi's constant posting of my photos all over blogs and Facebook. He fears that I am becoming over-exposed. You know, kind of like a canine Kim Kardashian. . .

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Good Photos Challenge Day 8 - Bad Habits

30 Day Good Photos Challenge Day 8 Subject - Bad Habits

Not following through on projects or, as I like to say, things undone, is a major bad habit of mine. And I have the lists to prove it--guitar lessons, diet, exercise programs, home maintenance and organization, patience, flying lessons. The list goes on, the latest being learning to knit. Last year I bought the yarn and needles, read the how to books and watch demos, signed up for classes at the local knitting shop. So far I can only cast on and off when I'd like to be making beautiful scarves or even this handy dishcloth that my friend finished as her first knitting lesson. Ah well, maybe I'll just say I have ADD!

Friday, July 22, 2011

Good Photos Challenge Day 7 - Fruit

30 Day Good Photos Challenge - Day 7 Subject - Fruit

Every year in late July my friend Kittyhawk and I make our annual peach roadtrip to Jackson's Orchard in her hometown Bowling Green, Kentucky. We're after the luscious red-gold freestone varieties like Cresthaven, Redhaven, Blushing anything. In this 2010 photo the back of my Scion xB "bread truck" is filled with summer goodness. We're loaded and ready to make a fast trip home and get deliveries made to friends and family. They ripen by the minute and, for sure, it's a fortunate time of the year to call us friends!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Good Photos Challenge Day 6 - From a High Angle

30 Day Good Photos Challenge Day 6 Subject - From a High Angle

Yesterday's photo challenge subject was "from a low angle". I used a photo of the underside of this robin's nest which looked like a mop head with all the nesting material hanging down in strings. Today's shot of the same nest in the viburnum to illustrate "from a high angle" is such a contrast--a smooth, tightly molded concave just perfect for protecting eggs in the spring and the bossy little babies until they're ready to fly away.

Photographic license: I added these three fake eggs to the empty nest just for interest. Earlier the nest held three eggs that were robin's egg blue. I had to get on the second from the top rung of a stepladder to get this shot angle. Since falling off a ladder a few year's ago this was a bit beyond my comfort range, but we must make sacrifices for art's sake, right? :-)

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Good Photos Challenge Day 5 - From a Low Angle

30 Day Good Photos Challenge, Day 5 - From a Low Angle

Every year the robins build their raggedy nests in the viburnum in front of the house. To get this "from a low angle" I had to position a stepladder underneath and then climb it backwards to shoot from below. I'm amazed that the nest stays put through the nesting season. It doesn't seem that securely positioned from below.

By the way, I never thought of photography as an extreme sport but might have to change my opinion! When positioning the ladder to get this shot, I pinched my fingers in the hinge. Ouch! In about a week I may be sharing photos of black 'n blue fingernails, I fear. . .

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Good Photos Challenge Day 4 - Something Green

Subject for Day 4 of the 30 Day Good Photos Challenge - Something Green

Of all the colors in nature, green, it seems to me, has infinite variety. And, all those shades of green complement each other so well. Like this golden lime of this creeping jenny growing among the almost black-green of English ivy.

(Good photos note: I'm still having a bit of a challenge with taking time to focus before shooting as you can see from this somewhat blurred image. Practice! Practice!)

Monday, July 18, 2011

Good Photos Challenge Day 3 - Clouds

Subject for Day 3 of the Good Photos 30 Day Challenge - Clouds

This photo of fluffy white dumpling clouds floating across a brilliant blue sky was shot on April 2. I look at the skies every day for good photo possibilities because of another photography meme that I play called First of the Month. My subject is Kentucky Skies. However, for the past couple of months here in the Ohio River Valley the skies have been cloudless, hazy, and glaring. Is it too early to think about the sparkling clear skies of fall?

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Good Photos Challenge Day 2 - What You Wore Today

Day 2 of the 30 Day Good Photos Challenge -- What You Wore Today

Right off I'll assure you that I don't go any further than the curbside newspaper box in this outfit. In fact, a better title for this post may be "What Not to Wear". Ah well, comfort before fashion is my motto. These old flannel lounge pants are from Wal-mart and they only touch at the waist! The "wife beater" is left over from the late 90s when I was in a very serious fitness boot camp run by an honest to goodness Army drill sergeant. Sergeant Rouse I could use an intervention today!

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Good Photos 30 Day Challenge - Day1

Well, I've just gotten a new and improved camera in anticipation of taking some wonderful travel photos on a trip to Scandinavia (Sweden, Norway, Denmark) in August. Only trouble is, my digital snapping skills are inadequate, to put it kindly. Trolling through some of my favorite blogs, I ran across this Good Photos in 30 Days meme at In Good Company with the Georgia Girls . The idea is to take a photo a day for 30 days--subject determined by the meme maestro.

Day 1 is "self-portrait". There's a saying that the eyes are the windows of the soul. I agree. When I look closely at these eyes, wish they had more of their old sparkle and fun, but that's the state of things this day. On a strictly ornamental note--I quite like these new retro frames (very Annette Benning in The Kids are Alright). Cool frames and high functioning lens are very important to me since I wear glasses all the time. Must give the "windows to this soul" a good frame!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Teaser Tuesday - Sarah's Key by Tatiana de Rosnay

On July 16-17, 1942 over 13,000--including 4,000 children--Parisian Jews were arrested by the French police in what became known as the Vel' d'Hiv' Roundup (code name Operation Spring Breeze). Entire families were dragged from their homes over the two days and held in the Velodrome d'Hiver, an indoor cycling arena, without water, food, sanitation, or medical attention. This German Gestapo plan to reduce, or rather exterminate,the Jewish population in occupied France was ruthlessly carried out by policemen and civil servants of the French Vichy government. Parents were forcibly separated from their children and shipped by cattle rail cars to Auschwitz for extermination. Followed by the children. Only about 900 Jews survived the roundup to tell the horrendous stories of the French government, police and ordinary citizens' turning their collective backs on fellow French citizens.

For this week's Tuesday Teaser I've chosen the riveting Sarah's Key by Tatiana de Rosnay which, she says, is her tribute to the children of the Vel' d'Hiv'. This was a hard book to read, but I won't forget it--nor should anyone else who reads it.

Teaser Tuesday is described by its host, Miz B over at Should Be Reading ,as a "weekly bookish meme" open to any reader who wants to play along. If, like me, you're always curious about what people are reading or on the lookout for the next great read, then this may by your meme. To play, just click on Miz B's link above for the simple rules.

Sarah's Key
by Tatiana de Rosnay

" She woke at night, trembling, thinking of him in the cupboard. She took out the key and stared at it with pain and horror. p. 70

Book description from cover: Paris, July 1942-Sarah, a ten year old girl, is taken with her parents by the French police as they went door to door arresting Jewish families in the middle of the night. Desperate to protect her younger brother, Sarah locks him in a bedroom cupboard--their secret hiding place--and promises to come back for him as soon as they are released.

Sixty Years Later-Sarah's story intertwines with that of Julia Jarmond, an American journalist investigating the Vel' d'Hiv' Roundup. In her research, Julia stumbles on a trail of secrets that link her and her husband's family to Sarah. These secrets change Julia's life dramatically and give her the courage to make some hard life-changing decisions.

I'm always glad when a well-loved book is adapted to film. That's the case with Sarah's Key. Here's the official film trailer and is scheduled for summer 2011 release:

In 1995 French President Jacques Chirac made a public apology to French Jews for the complicit role of the French policemen, civil servants and citizens in the roundup: "These black hours will stain our history forever and are an injury to our past and our traditions. . .France committed that day the irreparable. Breaking its word, it delivered those it protected to their executioners."

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Teaser Tuesday - On Hitler's Mountain by Irmgard A. Hunt

Figuring out what will interest blog readers is always a tossup. I'm constantly surprised at the topics that get a lot of hits on Summit Musings. A good example of this puzzle is a post that I wrote about visiting Hitler's infamous mountain retreat, the Eagle's Nest, high in the Austrian Alps and about an hour's drive from Salzburg, Austria. At least one reader clicks on this post almost every day. That's why I was so interested in reading Irmgard A. Hunt's On Hitler's Mountain, her memoir of growing up in the Berchtesgaden valley in a village at the base of Hitler's mountaintop retreat.

Teaser Tuesday is described by its host, Miz B over at Should Be Reading ,as a "weekly bookish meme" open to any reader who wants to play along. If, like me, you're always curious about what people are reading or on the lookout for the next great read, then this may by your meme. To play, just click on Miz B's link above for the simple rules.

On Hitler's Mountain, Overcoming the Legacy of a Nazi Childhood
by Irmgard A. Hunt

" Hitler had chosen Obersalzberg, a hamlet above Berchtesgaden, as his home and headquarters. . . The mountain loomed large over every aspect of my childhood in this highly visible and public place, in the shadow of the Eagle's Nest and near the lair of men whom the world would come to view as monsters." p. 2

Book description: Hunt's memoir provides a vivid, yet homely, account of what it was like to be a child in a Nazi Germany and a daily witness to the historic events that took place on Hitler's mountain. As she went about her childhood activities, she saw the mysterious black cars carrying Nazi and other world leaders to meetings with Hitler on the mountain. She was subjected to the Nazi propaganda and National Socialist teachings at home and in school. Her father was drafted and killed fighting for Hitler early in the war, leaving her mother, sister and herself to struggle on alone. Only her grandfather had the courage to speak out against the Nazis. In May 1945, 11 year old Irmgard saw American soldiers, Easy Company, occupy Hitler's retreat and help bring the war to an end. This is an important memoir for its honest look at what happens when a country loses its way and becomes pawns of evil, amoral leaders. It is the rememberings such as this that will save us from repeating this evil in the future.

Here's excerpts from the "Easy Company Takes Hitler's Eagle's Nest" post that describes my 2008 visit to Hitler's mountain:

September 17--by now I'm at exactly the mid-point of a two week tour of Europe. On this day our tour group travelled from "base camp" in Innsbruck, Austria to Salzburg for a tour of Mozart's home city, spending the majority of our time in the Getreidegasse, or Old Town, where Mozart lived and worked. We were also in Sound of Music country, seeing the church where Maria and Captain von Trapp were married and the estate where Maria cared for his many children and later helped the family escape the Nazis. We even saw the hill where Julie Andrews was filmed singing "The hills are alive. . ." This hill was on the southeast route out of Salzburg which we took for our afternoon destination--Hitler's Eagle's Nest.

The Eagle's Nest is a cliff top fortress about 28 km outside of Salzburg near Berchtesgaden, Germany on the German-Austrian border in the Austrian Alps. We were in luck that day because there was snow falling in the mountains. The cold mist added to the eerie feeling we were all experiencing, knowing the horrible decisions of life and death that were made by the Nazi administration at this evil nest high in the Alps. When we got to the village of Oberzalberg (where Hitler lived when not at the Eagle's Nest) we transferred to special bus equipped to climb the narrow one lane road and around the hairpin curves carved in the side of the mountain. One mis-turn and we would have been tumbling down the mountain to the valley below. Such beauty. Such danger.

After a short bus ride we get off at the base of the mountain and walked through a marble lined tunnel dug 400 ft. into the mountain. From there we took the original brass elevator 400 ft. straight up into the Eagle's Nest building at the top of the mountain. Today this place is a tourist destination and restaurant. In the mid-40s Hitler used this mountain hideaway, or "Teahouse" as he called it, for entertaining foreign dignitaries and members of the Third Reich. There were photos and newsreels of Hitler and his guests looking out over the Alps from the decks, just as tourists were doing that day. (After the tour while waiting by the tunnel for our bus down the hill, we decompressed with an impromptu snowball fight in the parking lot, ganging up on Sandor, the cheeky Aussie, who enjoyed tormenting many of us.)

Hitler's Eagle's Nest was designed and built for Adolph Hitler's 50th birthday by his personal secretary and head of the Nazi Party, Martin Bormann. Incredibly, the construction was done by soldiers who signed on to work cutting a road by hand up the Alps. The work went on 24:7 through all seasons. Many men fell to their deaths in its construction. After all this effort to ingratiate, Bormann was not that successful. Hitler was afraid of heights, among other things. He chose to live in his chalet, Berghof, at a much lower elevation.

In May 1945 American troops, Easy Company--a band of brothers made up of farmers, coal miners, mountain men, sons of the south, and Harvard, Yale, and UCLA graduates--took control of the country surrounding the town of Berchtesgaden,
including houses of the Gestapo police. They also secured the Eagle's Nest in the only way possible by scaling the mountain face. Their job was to search out German generals and SS troopers who were hiding in the Alps.

Before I saw this incredible place, I wish I had known more about Easy Company and the individual soldiers who joined the Army from all walks of life, their only preparation for fighting being sports or hard scrabble work of farming or coal mining. They signed on to train for the parachute infantry for the extra $50 per month they'd earn. Along the way they learned to work as a unit to accomplish their mission and protect their brother soldiers. And to use one of their favorite expressions, "That ain't no chicken shit job."

Friday, July 1, 2011

First of the Month - Rocket's Red Glare

I'm cheating a bit this month with the First of the Month photography meme in order to show you some spectacular 4th of July fireworks along the Louisville waterfront. The actual show is not until the 3rd so these photos are from the 2010 show.

For the past seven months I've been scanning Kentucky skies, camera in hand, in order to participate in a year-long photography meme that attracts aspiring photographers from all over. The idea is that we look at our surroundings and record the changes from month to month. The host for this meme is Jan at Murrieta 365 . Here's how it works: "The goal is to capture one thing repeatedly on the first day of each month. It can be a landscape, a person, an animal, a project; whatever your focus is fine. It can be a record of where you are each first day of the month." I decided to photograph Kentucky skies.

July is the perfect month to feature my hometown Louisville's strikingly modern skyline. Louisville is right on the banks of the Ohio River with Indiana on the other side. There's a wonderful green space called Waterfront Park where Louisvillians gather to enjoy the river views and great concerts and special events. Several times a year the celebrations include spectacular fireworks displays laid on the two bridges across the Ohio River connecting Indiana and Kentucky. Here's another view:

Those of us who live with dogs dread the fireworks, but there's no denying how thrilling and beautiful they can be when handled by experts like the Zambezi Brothers who set off the Louisville show. So, if you're ever in Louisville for the Derby or Independence Day, I recommend that you leave the "rocket's red glare" to the pros and just lie back in the grass and enjoy.

Be sure to check out Jan's link above for some photographs of people and places from all over on the first day of July.

(Image credit: Photobucket)