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, December 31, 2013

Best of 2013 - February Photography - Gothic Gatehouse

Continuing with a look back at favorite photos/subjects in 2013, for February I choose the Crescent Hill Reservoir and Gatehouse.  This fabulous gothic "castle", built in the 1870s, houses the valves which control the flow of water for the Louisville water reservoir.  This 110 million gallon basin holds water pumped from the Ohio River to be filtered for the city's drinking water. 
The gatehouse is ornamented with many gothic architectural details such as the huge water urns on each of the roof points.  An elaborate iron fence runs all around the reservoir.  The path goes all around too and is a favorite walking, jogging and photography site, especially at sunset when you can catch this golden light--if you're lucky!

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Best of 2013 - January Photography - Pastel Skies

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In this last week of the year I always enjoy looking back over the last 12 months and reflecting on what the new year may bring. First "looking back" will be of the subjects and themes I've explored each month in the photos I've taken. Almost every day I take a few photos --some I'm really happy with the photo or the subject, others not so great. At least this January-December review will provide some clues of what was catching my interest as the year went on. For January I chose "Pastel Skies"--just a few quick photos of a soft early morning sunrise. 

Monday, December 23, 2013

Christmas Memories

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This month I've been posting examples of the Canine War on Christmas on Facebook.  Here's an example of the war on the homefront.  Frank and Zack the Crazy Border Collie are getting in their packages and endangering the much treasured old German glass tree ornaments.  (circa mid-1980s)

Happy Holidays, Friends.  Will see you again after the new year.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Friday Fences - Snowy Kentucky

While driving from Shelbyville to Louisville on U.S. Route 60 in the early afternoon on Wednesday, I spotted this wintery scene that could be a great holiday card from Kentucky.  May be biased, but I think Kentucky is beautiful in all seasons. :-)
Linking to Friday Fences at Life According to Jan and Jer .

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Wild Bird Wednesday - Mean Girls

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Who would think this sweet-faced mourning dove deserves to be called a "mean girl"?!  For sure, I didn't know until recently.  They have been visiting the yard for a while--since I started scattering feed for the ground foragers.  A lot visited, but they were very calm and non-aggressive.

Then last week, in preparations for the ice, snow and bitter temps we're experiencing right now, I set up this platform feeder and supplied it with some bird delites like peanuts and nutty suet.  Wow!  what a bunch of bullies--especially when a half dozen tried to crowd on the feeder at one time.  Lots of pecking and wing flapping going on.  So far, they've managed to intimidate a lot of the birds--and squirrels.  That is except for the tufted titmouse and blue jay.  Both of them can stand up to the mean girls! In the meantime, I'm cancelling the post titled "Peace Conference" that was planning. . .

Linking to: Wild Bird Wednesday .

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Wild Bird Wednesday - November Yardbirds

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This past month I've tried to keep a record of all the different birds that have visited the bird buffet or just roosted in the now bare trees just long enough for me to get some not so great photos.  The tufted titmouse is a frequent visitor and doesn't stay still for picture-taking.  Maybe should be renamed the blurred titmouse!

Here are others spotted in the yard in November:

Clockwise:  northern male cardinal and house sparrows, cardinal, blue jay ( first snow of the season)

Clockwise: mourning dove, cardinal, hawk (no idea which kind), the black-eared Chetbird, Carolina wren, Carolina chickadee

Clockwise: male house or purple finch, trapeze artist, juvenile European starling, dark-eyed junco, mourning dove, northern mockingbird

Clockwise:  brown creeper or downy woodpecker, another woodpecker - hairy or ladder back?, hawk, white-breasted nuthatch, American crow, red-bellied woodpecker

I'm still learning about how to ID the birds that visit--get right maybe 50% of the time.  Just wish I'd started with this interest a long time ago.  Could spend hours watching them out the window--and sometimes do!

Linking to: Wild Bird Wednesday .

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Mosaic Monday - Tree Hieroglypics

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Recently I found this interesting tree in Cherokee Park whose trunk was decorated with many "hieroglyphic" carvings. In the lower right the traditional symbol for love, but what do you make of the rest? I see something definite in each carving. What about you? Can you also see a face in profile in the leaf shadows on the tree?

Linking to Mosaic Monday.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Monday Mosaic - Late Fall on Beargrass Creek

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Each season I try to get some photos of this twisty-trunked old tree on the banks of Beargrass Creek in Cherokee Park.  For the fall shoot most of the colorful leaves had fallen by the time I made it to the park last week.  Instead of being disappointed, learned an important photography lesson: focus on what's in front of you and you'll always find great subjects.  In this instance, found all these different small shells on the creek bank and even on submerged leaves.  Serendipity!

Linking to Mosaic Monday.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

InSPIREd Sunday - Historic Methodist

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This is the former Middletown Methodist Church, which is my neighborhood.  The church was built in the late 1800s in the gothic architectural style.  The spire and windows are especially distinctive.  The church is listed on the national historic register and is now a community center.  (I took these photos yesterday in the afternoon sun, as you can see!)

Here are a few more views:

Linking to InSPIREd Sunday .

Friday, November 8, 2013

Friday Fences - Locust Grove Split Rail

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Re-visiting historic Locust Grove farm, owned by the family of  George Rogers Clark in the early 1800s.  Clark was founder of Louisville, a Revolutionary War hero and explorer on the western Lewis and Clark expedition. The farm is about 20 minutes drive from downtown Louisville, Kentucky.  I've used these photos of the split rail fence before, but thought they might be interesting in a collage to see how the rails would look side by side when shot from different perspectives.

Linking to Friday Fences at Life According to Jan and Jer .

Thursday, November 7, 2013

November Gratitude Mosaics - F for Films

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November 6

Today for the November gratitude alphabet, F is for Films - good movies entertain, inspire, challenge, and teach through their characters and events.  They can take you to places in the world you may never see for real and visually amaze.  Every year I try to see the important films when they are released in the theaters.  And I enjoy "helping" choose the winners for important awards like the Academy and Golden Globes.  This year hasn't been a great year for movie going for many reasons, but the ones above I've seen and loved for different reasons.  Well, except for Anna Karenina, which totally irritated me because it was almost like a comic opera.

Second--or maybe first--way I watch films that I've missed on the big screen is to rent from Netflix and watch on computer in the hidey hole/den.  This is my favorite place in the house, especially with the owner of those little black--or white speckled now--legs to keep me company:

Here's a sampling of Netflix viewing this year:

In films my taste runs to history and politics in troubled parts of the world--Of Gods and Men, A Woman in Berlin, Salmon Fishing in Yemen.  I watched In the Land of Blood and Honey because it's about the Bosnian-Serb war in the late 1990s and I hope to visit Bosnia in 2014.  If you love photography, highly recommend Everlasting Moments, the story of a Swedish woman who escapes a brutal and impoverished marriage by learning to take pictures.  Just as with books, like British police procedurals--Vera, Foyle's War, Rebus, Endeavour Morse, DCI Banks.  And just for the heck of it, throw in Jane Campion's Top of the World set in New Zealand. Annika Bingtzon gave me a little Swedish crime.  And In Treatment gave me Gabriel Brynne as a troubled therapist--yumo! And finally, do I even need to mention BBC Masterpiece Theater period dramas like Downton Abbey and The Paradise.  Of course, loved them. 
It's a good thing that this project is falling in November.  I'm one of those year in review people, taking stock of the past year and figuring out what's ahead for 2014.  By the time I finish this gratitude alphabet won't have anything to do for December and January!
Linking to November Blog a Day at Myanderings .

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Wild Bird Wednesday -the Red Head

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Red-bellied Woodpecker - visited the bird buffet a couple of days ago.  A most welcome customer.  Understand that he likes dried meal worms which were on the breakfast menu that day.  I'm most happy to hold my nose and put more out if he'll visit again!

Here are a few more views, including a shot of his bell (second row left) so you can kind of see where he gets his name.

 Linking to: Wild Bird Wednesday .

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

November Gratitude Mosaics - E for Education

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November 5

How timely that our newspaper has a front page article with some pretty bleak statistics about the poverty and trauma experienced by children in Kentucky on the day that I would be writing a post on how grateful I am for the education and lifelong learning experiences that I have had all these years.  According to the front page article, half of the state's children live in poverty.  Sixty years ago I would have been one of those statistics.  Thankfully, through education I was able to escape that life of poverty and build a very satisfying, economically secure, and sometimes exciting life.

My love of learning began at Mullins Elementary in eastern Kentucky.  I was thrilled to learn how to read and be able to check out a book every week from the school library.  And then there were making "pigtails (cursive "e")and other letters of the alphabet.  Early on I also discovered that I liked to write and by the time I was in high school a few teachers praised my writing and encouraged me to do more.  When I looked through the Mullins High School annual, my picture wasn't in any clubs or after school activities.  I did win the English award from the senior graduating class and was voted girl "most likely to succeed" from the senior class.  That probably means I was an original nerd!

By the time senior year came around I was determined to continue my education despite having no money.  And thanks to encouraging teachers and student loans, I was able to move away from home and enroll in college.  I earned undergraduate degrees in English and home economics and a master's degree in American literature from Morehead State University.  Those were heady times and I loved everything about student life.  And, to this day, I feel like education is like an insurance policy, or a survival tool that can't be taken away from you.  Even after I started working, I still wanted more education.  I became interested teaching adult basic education and volunteer leadership  development and earned further credentials in these areas.

After graduating from college where I earned a secondary teaching certificate, education was still the focus of my work.  As you can see below, I've ranged around:  middle and high school English and reading teacher, Peace Corps volunteer teacher in the West Indies, adult learning center director, consultant for the Kentucky Department of Education, and volunteer development trainer for Kentucky Farm Bureau.
And finally, when I retired in 2006, I didn't stop learning.  Only then I could be very selective about what I learned and how I did it.  It was then that I got interested in technology.  Truth be told, it was blogging that got me hooked so I started learning about computers in order to natter with social media friends every day! :-)  I've taken classes in special interests such as watercolor painting, writing and gardening.  I do international learning vacations as often as I can afford.  Lately I'm trying to learn digital photography and birding.
I feel like I will not need to write a memoir by the time I finish this month of gratitude mosaics!  When you start trying to figure out the things in your life for which you're grateful, it leads to a lot of navel gazing and some REALLY long posts!  If you're still reading, thanks.  There will be some lighter subjects coming up!
Linking to November Blog a Day at Myanderings .

Monday, November 4, 2013

November Gratitude Mosaics - D for Dogs

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November 4

My love affair with dogs began in earnest in 1983 when I bought Zack the Crazy Border Collie from a local farmer for $6.  He was just a little black and white butterball in the litter.  Apparently his mother, a working girl border collie had her head turned by a handsome black lab on Friday night. . .Anyway, I brought Zack home to an apartment that did not allow dogs.  We got evicted, forcing me to buy a house which was great.  For 16 years Zack led me for a merry chase as you can imagine.  Border collies are not meant to live in the 'burbs!

In 1985 I adopted little black Frank (named for Frank Sinatra because he had one blue eye).  He showed up at my friend Sherry's basement door on moving day for her.  We were just sure he was a valuable dog so advertised finding him but nobody claimed.  Took him to vet for his first well baby check and found out he was blind in that blue eye and full of worms.  But he and Zack were great buddies.  He lived for 15 years.

In 1991 I moved from Frankfort to Louisville and rescued Dan the Golden (I named him for former Vice President Dan Quayle because, like his namesake, he was very handsome but not so smart). Dan was collateral damage in a divorce.  When I picked him up from the young family that owned him he was tied to a dog house in the middle of a bare yard and stunk to high heaven.  Luckily, he fit right in with our pack and lived for 12 years.

And then trouble came in the form of Willie the Pit Bull Mix in 1997:

Willie and his sister Hallie were found by the dumpster at a Ben Franklin Store by a friend.  She asked me to come over and LOOK at him.  I did, bringing along a milk crate just in case. . .He climbed in that milk crate and in just a few months turned our home into a battlefield.  By the time he was a year old he was the alpha dog.  I was at my wits end because I had never dealt with this canine rivalry.  However, by 2002 he became an only dog with Zack, Frank, and Dans' deaths from old age and disease.  He thrived as an only dog and was my good companion for 14 more years.  I called him my Goodwill Ambassador for Pit Bulls.

Finally, when Willie died in April 2012 I immediately adopted Mr. Personality Chet from the Shamrock Foundation (his former name was Bubbles for the big ones on his butt).  I don't need to say much about him since he appears regularly on this blog and Facebook.  He's a thoroughly modern dog who embraces social media.  When he and I have disagreements, he takes to social media to tell you all what he's having to deal with and get some advice.  I absolutely adore him because he's so stinkin' cute and funny.  Here are some of his baby pics:

My goodness!  If you're still reading this I'm amazed.  Of all the areas of my life that I'm grateful for, living with these five dogs is right up there.  They have been a constant source of joy, humor, and companionship for most of my adult life.

Linking to the November Daily Blog at Myanderings and Mosaic Monday

Sunday, November 3, 2013

November Gratitude Mosaics - C for Coffee

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November 3

Continuing with the alphabet of gratitude for November - today it's coffee made my own way.  For many years I've used this odd coffee making contraption, the Toddy Coffee Maker, to ensure that I can have a fresh cup of my favorite brew any time of the day without resorting to instant (yuk!) or brewing a pot and then wasting if I'm only in the mood for one cup.

Here's how it works (starting kind of at the bottom left) 1. insert the rubber cork in the bottom of the white "jug" and then place that round "buff" pad in the little well inside the jug.  2. next add about a pound of your favorite coffee and then fill the jug with cold water and cover.  3. let steep about 24 hours, either out on the counter or, when it's really hot, in the fridge.  4. After the steep time, pull the plug and allow the "coffee extract" to drain into the glass container.  As the extract drains through the "buff pad" all the bitter oils are captured so you have incredibly mellow coffee.  5.  Store the coffee extract in the fridge for over a week.  6.  When you're ready for a cup of coffee deliciousness like the one in the big photo, just mix equal parts coffee extract, water, and milk.  Microwave for about 3 minutes.  Of course, if you don't use milk or cream, just tinker with the ratio of extract and water to get the right strength.  And there you have it--a perfect cup of coffee any time, no fuss, no waste!

You may not be surprised that a coffee lover would also have a thing for the perfect coffee mug or cup.  Mugs are my souvenirs of choice when I travel or go to arts and craft fairs.  The lower right I bought at the Saint James Art Fair, and the brown at the Te Papa, the national Maori museum in Wellington, New Zealand.

Linking to the November Daily Blog at Myanderings .

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Friday Fences & InSPIREd Sunday - Small Town Charm

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This is the First Presbyterian Church right on main street in the small historic town of Shelbyville.  The church is small and cleanly designed.  I haven't been in the sanctuary, but would think that the light would be fantastic through that front window.  The fence surrounding the church is wrought iron in keeping with the church's simple architecture.

Beside the church there's a small garden where the ornamental grass and peeling bark of the river birch trees take center stage in the fall:

Linking to Friday Fences and InSPIREd Sunday .

November Gratitude Mosaics - B for Books

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November 2
Today I'm grateful for books --stacks and stacks of them all over the house mean hours of reading pleasure.  I read from many different genres from historical fiction to police procedurals.  Especially fond of Scandinavian crime fiction from Sweden's Stieg Larsson (Girl with Dragon Tattoo series) to Iceland's Arnaldur Indridason (Inspector Erlendur series). Click on mosaic middle row to see some of the Nordic Noir that I read last year and favorite authors.  Also, when I discover new--for me--authors I like to read everything they have written.  Right now I'm working on Daniel Silva's novels about Gabriel Allon, Israeli spymaster and art restorer.  To date, I've read about 100 books in 2013.
Until a few months ago I ordered books from Amazon.  The UPS guys made regular stops at Summit Court with those Amazon boxes.  Then I discovered our excellent public library.  Now I keep a running lists of books on order.  About the only message that I like getting on the answering machine is "This is the Louisville Free Public Library.  You have four items on hold.  Please pick up as soon as possible."  On my way!
Finally, you can tell just how much we love books around here.  Instead of a man cave, Chet has a book cave!  He loves to snooze under this bookstack.
Linking to the November Daily Blog at Myanderings .

Friday, November 1, 2013

November Gratitude Mosaics - A for Autumn

My blog and Facebook friend Sandy over at Myanderings, Myanderings is challenging her blogger friends to post every day in November.  I thought I'd give it a go.

November is the traditional month for gratitude--remembering the many reasons we have to be thankful, both great and small.  I'm going to try to do a daily alphabet mosaic of the things,  for which I'm grateful.

To begin, here's A for Autumn -- most favorite season for it's blazing colors, coziness, and peace:

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If this sounds like an interesting blog project, join in today and for the rest of November.  And check out Sandy's link to see what she's doing with her own challenge.  Now, if you'll excuse me, must start figuring out an "X" for which I'm grateful!

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Wild Bird Wednesday - Raspberry Dipped

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First time visitor to the deck railing feeding station a few days ago.  He only showed up once and was flying solo.  As far as ID, I'm going with male Purple Finch.  One bird book said that the male looked like he had been dipped in raspberry juice!  I can see that in these photos which have not been color edited at all.  The purple finch is similar to the male house finch, but its coloring is more crimson, compared to the orange-red of the house finch.  The purple finch has a notched tail (see the photo of him on the grass stem) while the house finch has a longer squared tail.  Migrates through Kentucky looking for food as it gets colder.  Has a liking for the black oil sunflower seeds that are offered on the Summit Musings bird buffet!

Here are a few other shots of the raspberry dipped beauty.  Hope to see more of them this winter.

 Linking to: Wild Bird Wednesday .

Sunday, October 27, 2013

InSPIREd Sunday & Mosaic Monday in Moscow

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Candy cane colored onion domes of Saint Basil's Cathedral in Moscow, Russia - sits on the famous Red Square and is one of the most recognized landmarks of Moscow.  Saint Basil's was ordered built by Ivan the Terrible in the mid-1500s to celebrate a major victory over the Mongols.  Ivan was said to have blinded the cathedral architects so that they could never repeat this design.  Most scholars agree that this is a folklore myth.  Still makes a great story. (photos taken September 2012)

I just finished reading Daniel Silva's newest spy novel, The English Girl.  It's set in Corsica, London and Moscow.  And, as I was reading, realized that I had just seen many of the places that was the scene of the Moscow action in this novel.  I love it when that happens--just makes the book so real.  Here are a few scenes from the novel:

Clockwise: Saint Basil and tourist heads(!), church walls ornately painted, closeup of onion domes, GUM Department store beside Red Square and scene of one of Silva's spy capers, Red Square where one of the book's spy operations began, soldier statue in honor of Ivan the Terrible's Mongol victory

Clockwise:  Cover of book The English Girl; bridge over the Moska River lit red-white-blue of Russian Federation flag which replaced the Communist hammer and sickle; Saint Basil's at night; history museum on Red Square; Russian "White House"; Red October Chocolate Factory on Moska River at night

BTW, if you like spy novels, highly recommend The English Girl.  I'm planning on traveling with Silva and his main character Israeli agent Gabriel Allon to some other locations like Venice and Amsterdam based on this book!

Linking to InSPIREd Sunday and Mosaic Monday .

Sunday, October 20, 2013

InSPIREd Sunday - Saint Michael the Archangel Orthodox

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A bit late in the day to be posting for InSPIREd Sunday, but worth the wait, I hope.  For the past several months I've been trying to get photos of all the historical churches in Louisville.  Have had Saint Michael the Archangel Orthodox on the list for some time.  Waiting for a day when the sky is bright so it would be a good background for the church dome and blue spires.  This church was established in the 1930s and is described as Pan-Orthodox Christian, serving many cultures and ethnic groups from Eastern Europe, Middle East, Africa, and America who live in Louisville.  Your can see the different influences in the architecture, especially the domed roof, brightly colored spires, and iconography.  Hopefully, I can get back to the church in the future to take some photos inside.

Here are a few more photos of the exterior:

Linking to InSPIREd Sunday .

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Wild Bird Wednesday - Meet Jane

A few weeks ago "Jane" showed up in the front yard looking for a snack from around the bird feeding stations that I've set up to try to attract some different birds for the winter. I was thrilled to see a hawk so close up--especially those piercing eyes. But it was the "leggings" that cracked me up and earned this one the name of "Jane". Remember Jane Fonda and her workout leggings in all those exercise videos? Feel the burn!

And then yesterday I heard this terrible racket in the backyard and, after looking and looking, spotted "Jane" in the tiptop branches of a tree.  She obligingly stayed around long enough for me to get this not so great photo.
Identifying "Jane" has been a puzzle.  According to my Kentucky bird books, we're supposed to have sharp-shinned, red-shouldered, red-tailed, and cooper's hawks.  I've studied the pics of each and none fit "Jane" exactly.  Either missing the "leggings", tail shaped differently with different color bars.  My best guess is sharp-shinned, but a couple of Facebook birders say she might be a juvenile goshawk migrating or a rough-legged.  Whatever!  I'm thrilled that she stops by.

Linking to: Wild Bird Wednesday .