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.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Mosaic Monday - Tree Hieroglypics

click on image to enlarge

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

Click on images to enlarge

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

click on images to enlarge

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

click on images to enlarge
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

Click on the images to enlarge
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

click on images to enlarge

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

click on images to enlarge

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

click on mosaics to enlarge

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

click on image to enlarge

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

click on images to enlarge 

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

click on mosaic to enlarge
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:

click on mosaic to enlarge

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!