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.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Watery Wednesday - March in Ireland


Getting a head start with Watery Wednesdays and Friday Fences in Ireland, two photo memes that many of you participate in. For the entire month of March, when all of us claim to be a little bit Irish, I'll be sharing photos from a 1998 garden tour of southwestern Ireland.

This white cottage with dry stone wall is in Bray, County Wicklow. Photo was was taken with a 35mm and not the greatest, but the water and fences were there so I did a little photoshop edits to give it a painterly effect.

Want to see some more "watery" photography? Click here for the players.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Friday Fences - Goodbye New England Gardens

What do you think? Did I save the best New England garden fence for last? For the month of February I've been sharing photos from a May '99 garden tour of New England states--Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Vermont. Here you have a combo of stone walls, sturdy fence, and promise of voluptuous roses tumbling all over.

Stay tuned here for the fences of Ireland in March when all of us turn a little bit Irish. In the meantime, be sure to stop by host Janis' place for more Friday Fences: Life According to Jan and Jer .

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Friendship Stories

It hardly seems possible, but three weeks ago I lost a dear friend to an untimely and unexpected death. For over 35 years Lydia Wells and I were the best of friends. As with many friends, we started out as work colleagues--for us in the Kentucky Department of Education. For a time we even shared an office, which worked out great. Lydia Wells was the mathematician and technology pioneer. I was the English major, writer and grammarian. She taught me math skills that I hadn't learned in high school and college and provided my first intro to computers and technology. I taught her to write letters and presentations that wouldn't put listeners or readers to sleep with boring education jargon. We kept up with this reciprocal learning outside the workplace as well. (This photo of us is from 2002, Lydia on the right. We're planning a trip to France.)

Since Lydia Wells' funeral, three close friends have been trying to carry out her last wishes. Those of you who knew her would not be surprised to learn that she had specific written directives for settling her affairs. The main thing was protecting her privacy and not being tacky with the way things were done--and, most importantly, finding a good home for her two beloved cats, Olive and Edith Ann. To that end, the Three Amigos, have been following her directions while sorting though her belongings. Along the way, we have found things that have made us laugh and cry as we remembered all the good times we had together. Yesterday I was thrilled to find this blast from the past, Lydia Wells' hand embroidered cutoffs from the 1960s hippie days! I remember her wearing these cutoffs--once for a formal dinner where she made individual shrimp molds and eclairs for dessert--all served on the fine family china and silver. The honored guest for this dinner was my new border collie puppy Zack.

Lydia Wells added to her "wearable art" as she developed new interests--flower gardening, palm trees for Jimmy Buffet and visits to Florida, animals that she loved, and a small airplane that she added when she got her amateur pilots license (which explains her Kittyhawk blogname--before that it was her CB moniker!). These cutoffs reminded me of another jeans related story. Lydia Wells was a great fancy needleworker, but she wasn't very handy with more pedestrian sewing like mending. Once she prepared my tax returns and I mended some jeans for her in return. As luck would have it, I got audited that year. So, like any good accountant, she went with me to the hearing. When the auditor asked if I'd paid her for her services. She said "Yes, she mended these jeans!" He burst out laughing much to the surprise of others in the office. I guess there's not much laughing at the IRS office?

I miss Lydia Wells so much, as do her many other close friends. She was passionate about many things--learning something new or challenging projects, helping animals and people, protecting the environment. She loved beauty in art and her home, travel, music, plays, and reading. I am blessed to have her as a friend and companion for these many years. Thanks for the memories, Lydia Wells.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Friday Fences - New England Garden Whimsy

Behind this graceful garden gate you'll find the hand of a gardener with a great sense of humor and talent for combining a stunning variety of plants. Nestled up against the garden fence, I spotted this "stacking" turtle water fountain. What were they thinking? "Okay boys, let's just keep climbing up on each others' backs and surely we'll be able to reach the gate latch and blow this joint!"

If you like this image, scroll down to the Valentine's Day post earlier this week for the huge terra cotta salamander entwined in the passion flower vine on the fence in this same garden. (photos taken on a late 90s garden tour of New England)

Be sure to check out the ever growing list of Friday Fence photographers on our host Janis' webpage, Life According to Jan and Jer .

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Watery Wednesday - Winter on Beargrass Creek

These two photos were taken on February 1, a cold and rainy day in Louisville. Both views are of Beargrass Creek which runs through Seneca and Cherokee Parks. The top photo was shot from a bridge so you can see the water running over the creek stones. In the second photo I was at creek level trying to capture as much of the moss-covered rocks along the water's edge as possible. It was not a day for catching reflections on in the water--just a quiet scene in winter. I'll come back here in the spring and show you how lush and green it can be.

Want to see some more "watery" photography? Click here for the players.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

New England Garden Valentine

The may possibly be the oddest Valentine's Day greeting you'll get today. But how about a terra cotta salamander entwined in the passion flower vine growing on this garden fence in a New England garden? And, as always, hope there's chocolates for you before the day is over.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Friday Fences - New England Practical

This fence was in a New England garden--in either Massachusetts or Connecticut. I took this photo on a late 1990s garden tour of the area, going all the way up into Vermont as well. We also saw White Flower Farm and Logee's Greenhouse, both well-known for catalog sales of plants for the serious gardener. This particular garden featured a series of fenced garden "rooms". I call this one New England practical for the bushel basket hanging on the fence ready to hold garden tools or clippings.

For more Friday Fences check out Life According to Jan and Jer to see who our host Janis has on the list of players.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

A Romantic Watery Wednesday

Since we'll celebrate Valentine's Day before the next Watery Wednesday I thought it would be good to go back to Venice for some water scenes from this most romantic city.(Bonus photo - you may be familiar with this pop art symbol of love. It's the sculpture "LOVE" by Robert Indiana and is currently on exhibit at the Speed Art Museum in Louisville, Kentucky.)

Both natives and tourists enjoy riding through the canals of Venice in a gondola. Most gondolas are lavishly decorated in richly colored, lush fabrics for very elegant lounging with your Sweet One on your watery tour of Venice: Here's two closeups of Venetian gondoliers with their classic boater hats and striped shirts. There's a lot of friendly rivalry among the gondoliers. Who has the most romantically appointed gondola? Which boat has bragging rights in the annual gondola races?

I took this last photo of a just married young couple on the dock when we got off the ferry from Lido Beach, Venice to the mainland. The wedding party was seeing them off to the waiting cruise ship for their wedding journey--lots of music and good wishes for the bride and groom. I wish I had gotten a photo of the bride's sandals with their extravagant organza bows tied at her ankles:

Want to see some more "watery" photography? Click here for the players.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Publishers Clearing House Winner Date--"Doing" the Big Apple with an Accountant

Sayre over at Sayre Smiles is hosting First Fun Monday for February. Since it's the month of LOVE, she's asked us to share stories of first dates or of dating gone right or wrong. Well, here's my story that fits in both categories, Pubishers Clearing House weekend in New York or "Faye and the Accountant Do the Big Apple". BTW, this is an oldy but goody re-posted from the past.

Around the end of the year I start noticing the commercials on TV urging us to enter the annual Publishers Clearinghouse Sweepstakes. You know, the one where the Prize Patrol van arrives at some one's house totally unexpectedly (it's the truth, I swear) with balloons, excited neighbor onlookers, and a huge check for 10 million dollars to surprise a lucky winner of grand prize that they won just by mailing in an entry form--no magazine subscription purchase required. When I see the commercial I think two things. One, there was a time when I was so financially strapped that I prayed to win the sweepstakes and entered it every year. Two, how many people actually believe that the sweepstakes is for real? Well, I don't enter anymore, but I do know someone who actually won a PCS prize, S the Accountant, my sweepstakes winner date from hell.

In the late 1970s I had just returned to the U.S. from three years of heady, exciting living and working in the West Indies. As do a lot of young people, after a spell of adventuring I wanted to come home. Home was a small college town in the Appalachian foothills where I had gone to school. I was hired by the university to run their adult education learning center. Every day I got to help adults learn to read, study for their GED high school equivalency diploma, or learn to speak English as a second language (this for foreign students or their families who were studying at the university). The work was great, the dating scene not so much.

If you're familiar with small college towns, you know that it's slim pickins' in the dating department. Most of the eligible--and desirable--men are already taken, usually by your good friends! So in the late '70s I was half-heartedly dating S, the chief accountant for the university. S was not particularly handsome (okay, I know that's shallow, but I was young!), rather boring but reliable and respected on campus. We were floundering along with the occasional dinner and movie date. Then S went big time!

He called me all excited--for S--with the news that he had just been notified by Publishers Clearinghouse that he had won a $2,700 promptness prize in that year's sweepstakes! Now I wasn't surprised that he won the promptness prize--he was, after all, an accountant. But, in addition to the prize money, he was invited to fly to New York City, along with the other winners from across the U.S., for a whirlwind publicity tour of the city. He would stay at The Plaza Hotel on 5Th Avenue, travel by limousine, dine at the greatest restaurants, see a Broadway play, tour the Publishers Clearinghouse out on Long Island and meet the CEO and employees responsible for the sweepstakes. Professional photographers would follow the winners for the whole tour.

And, he could bring a guest--me! Would I go with him IF I could be assured of having my own room? I can just imagine S making clear to the tour organizer that his guest would need her own room!! I said "Yes" because it sounded like a great adventure and I knew that S needed reinforcements. He had never flown before. I remember him clutching my hand when we lifted off at the Lexington Airport. He was very smart, but totally lacking in social skills. My job was to be his buffer and help him enjoy the trip. On reflection, I deserved more than my own room at The Plaza--I should have had combat pay!

I could tell so many stories about S the Accountant taking Manhattan, but will be selective. The best stories centered on S's wardrobe, especially a short butterscotch (you couldn't even call it a caramel) colored corduroy coat with a faux fur collar that he bought at the local Maloney's Department Store (where you could also buy furniture or a shovel). When S showed up in that coat at my house I knew that my lovely red wool coat that went so well with my shiny black hair cut al la Dorothy Hamil didn't stand a chance!

S and I got checked in the fabulous Plaza and went our separate ways to get settled in. First time I'd stayed in a place ritzy enough to have mints on the pillow and my bed turned down. Back to S's coat, though. Our first activity was to meet the other prize members in the Palm Court of the Plaza and head out to dinner. I got downstairs first and was enjoying meeting the other people. The 10M grand prize winner was a nice young couple who owned a dime/variety store in Florida. So, we're chatting along when MY date walks in the Palm Court with his tie in hand! The man does not know how to tie his tie! Believe me, his guest (me!) would have loved to help him in the privacy of his room. Instead, a couple of the guys in our party took him to the side and tied his tie. He then puts on his fine butterscotch coat. We get into our private limo for the drive to dinner--at Windows on the World Restaurant on the top of the World Trade Center. (How sad to remember that beautiful place which is no more after 9/11--it had just opened in 1976.)

When we arrive at the restaurant, the limo driver suggested that S leave his coat in the limo since we would take the same limo back to the hotel. He balked, saying that he'd just bought that coat and didn't want to lose it! Reluctantly he did take it off, but not before writing down the limo license plate number and chauffeur's name. Can you imagine the all-points bulletin that would have gone out to New York's Finest if that coat had gone missing! The next night we dined at The Four Seasons without a coat incident. This time it was a cutlery intervention that was required. Even with all the stress of helping S tread the social waters, I still remember the glittery dining room and my first taste of French chocolate mousse.

After that first day I learned to anticipate S's potential social blunders and the rest of the group accepted him for what he was--a good, smart, unsophisticated man who hadn't seen much of the world. It was great to be able to see and experience some of the best of New York in such great style. The highlight of the trip was actually touring the Publisher's Clearinghouse and meeting the employees, including the those who actually drew the winning entries--including our Florida friends--for that year's sweepstakes. So, in these hard economic times, you may want to think about entering the Publisher's Clearinghouse sweepstakes, but think twice before agreeing to accompany a winner to New York!

P.S. Please excuse the overuse of parentheses today. I don't know why I needed so many. . .

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

First of the Month & Watery Wednesday - At Cherokee Park

For this year's First of the Month photos I chose Louisville's Olmsted Parks, a beautiful park system designed by the Frederick Law Olmsted, the father of American landscape architecture. This month I went back to Cherokee Park to re-visit places I'd photographed in January.

For no more than ten minutes this was the way the sunrise looked on my way to the park:

The day quickly shifted to damp and misty. Here is Baringer Hill, a favorite place for people of all ages--and their dogs--to come and play. I hope to catch the hill snow-covered and covered with sledders before winter's end, but here's what it looked like today. Baringer Hill tree lace:

Cherokee Park has many gentle streams, creeks and stone bridges like this:

First of the Month: 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 .

Want to see some more "watery" photography? Click here for the players.