Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Unplug Me

Yesterday I received quite a dressing down for "not communicating" with a colleague with whom I am involved in a project. In part, this person stated that I "will not communicate" with them. In fact, while it is true I didn't want to talk with them at that moment, the greater reality is that I wasn't home and didn't get the message and respond as quickly as this person believed I should. After all, he had just called. Why didn't I call right back? Wasn't I really just "refusing to communicate?" Surely I was sitting by the phone and waiting for his call and then, in a quirk of fate, decided to worry him when I refused to answer the phone. Quite frankly, after such a little hissy fit, I am not inclined to communicate at all. However, I do see that the problem is more than his ego.

While I hate sentences that start this way, here we go.

I am old enough to remember no voice mail, email, instant messaging, answering machines, cell phones, or call waiting. And, guess what? Usually no one died if they couldn't get a response in 15 minutes. We called back, sent notes, or, if possible, dropped by, but we didn't throw a fit if we didn't have instant gratification.

Let me be clear.

Technology fails. Not all messages are received. Great are the mysteries of email and voice mail. Sometimes it just doesn't work.

Life is busy. I get to make my own priorities. You may not be the first thing on my list every day. Get over it.

I don't want to listen. More and more people want to listen to their own voice. I get to decide if I want to spend the next hour listening to your profound wisdom and life experiences.

Nothing to say. Yeppers. There are times when silence is all I want. Believe it or not, just because I can have someone with me in someway, there are times I just don't. Leave me alone when I feel this need.

The movie "Metropolis" has been running through my head since the said "dressing down." The principle theme of the movie is that technology takes humanity away; it does not enhance it. We become slave to the machine. Forgive me, but I don't want to play anymore. Unplug me, please.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Literary Thoughts -- The Revolutionary Paul Revere

Spending nearly three weeks annually in Concord, MA, I get to hear the ongoing disagreement between Concord and Lexington about the first skirmish of the American War for Independence. Well known is the story, thanks to Henry Longfellow, of the "midnight ride of Paul Revere", but little else is presented in classrooms about this remarkable fellow. So, a great deal of enthusiasm prefaced reading Joel Miller's The Revolutionary Paul Revere (Thomas Nelson publisher).

Miller's research into Revere's life is generally point on. While he seems to take a majority of the information from a singler biographer, he is a storyteller and manages to bring Revere's character to life. Starting with an examination of Revere's father's immigration to the birth of Revere's 16 children, Miller provides a comprehensive overview of the many aspects of the engraver, silversmith, and patriot. Surely, Revere's personal disappointment that he was uncommissioned in the Continental Army is little known and demonstrates what a man of honor he was to remain with the Army in whatever capacity he felt useful. Miller certainly shows the commitment Revere had to the American cause as well as the personal sacrifice of Revere and his family. Here is a man who was loyal, strong, compassionate, and tender.

Courier, engraver, spy, ship captain and foot soldier are just a sampling of the many responsibilities Revere willingly and competently held before, during, and after the War for Independence. He confidently learned trades outside that of silversmith to serve his country -- cannon forger and saltpeter producer, for example. The richness of his creative and personal life give testament to a man who lived his life, as Tennyson wrote of Ulysess, "to the lees." His devotion to his first and second wives as well as the care he took in providing for his family and extended family demonstrates his love to them as well.

While the overall story of Revere is rich and fascinating, Miller's biography often trivalises events simply because the word choice is trite and unsuited to this subject. Addressing Revere by his first name, calling his parents "mom" and "dad" as well as the occasional use of current jargon (referring to Revere's daughter Sarah's birth eight months after his marriage to her mother as "being just inside the margin of error" seems unnecessary, for example). The biography is riddled with a bevy of sentence fragments for effect, but they rapidly lose any effect because of the overwhelming number. Truly. Like the proofreader goofed.

While the chapter titles are intriguing, Miller (or his editor) opted to utilize an 18th century technique of introducing chapters which seems awkward and detracts from the richness of each. The story is compelling enough to move the reader along; there is no need to interrupt the follow with two or three sentence "teasers."

The biography is interesting and informative. The reading is easy enough for most high schoolers through adults. In fact, it seems that high schoolers would benefit from the richness of the biography if nothing more than to deepen their appreciation and knowledge of what a "regular guy" and not an aristocrat committed to gain personal freedom and choice.

I give The Revolutionary Paul Revere four bees out of five for content and interest.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

First Day Musings, Update

Never doubt the power of prayer and friends. Moose is much better and, with his appreciation deepened for pain meds and cheese, is up and moving around quite well. He has enjoyed a bevy of visitors and "presents." Both of these make us realize how many truly kind and loving people there are. Don remarked yesterday that Moose had more visits than he did when a dog ran into the bike and Don was out of work for six weeks!

This leads me to reflect on that whole silent majority concept. We aren't silent; we are just living our lives in the best possible way. We are trying to love and encourage each other. We are not being loud or obnoxious. We are just living. I guess that is why we are so easy to overlook.

However, let us get our ire on and we can be a force to reckon with. You have seen it happen. Let there be a wrong somewhere and folks try to make it right. They give, work, pray, and love miracles into being. We fight for what is right and try to love the often unlovable. We are far from silent!

These day, folks, we need this silent majority more than ever. We need to love, encourage, and, most of all, pray for each other. Show love to others in little ways --- letting a car into line, picking up a dropped item for a person, give up your place in line for the mother with babies, say a prayer for the cashier who has been working seven hours with one break, and, always, smile and say something pleasant even to the most unpleasant. The world has become increasingly uncivil. Let's take it back.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Animal Cruelty

A speeding white pick-up truck hit Moose deliberately yesterday and then left him to die. He didn't. He will be an indoor dog for a quite a while, but he will live. Given the tough life our little guy had before coming here, this is God's blessing -- that he will be okay.

However, the people who hit him won't.

Although they didn't stop or take responsibility for targeting him, they will have consequences beyond a damaged truck fender. Her mother called me last night and told me the story and urged me to make the adult child take responsibility for her actions. The young woman has done prison time and, apparently, continues to make poor choices. The young man has done the same.

When I tried to talk with the pair, they were verbally abusive and made more threats to me and the dog. According to the police, though, the threats aren't enough to warrant charges. So, now, we will have to wait and see if these people are going to follow through on their threats.

The consequences? I am a firm believer in karma. I believe that what one does brings certain results. While these results might take a while to come, they do. In short, I believe that God does "care for the bird of the air" and all other creatures. And, I believe that there is special punishment for those who abuse or hurt an animal.

In North Carolina, there is a movement to pass Susie's Law which will take animal abuse laws penalties to a new level. It is a fine law and deserves full support from every North Carolinian. Indeed, every state should have a similar law on their books.

Our first parents were charged with carrying for the Garden He made and placed them in. They were given "dominion" over all creation, making them partners with their Creator in caring for his creatures. We still have this responsibility. All creatures are entitled to kindness and care. It is the manifestation of our humanity. If we stop this, what will be next? Our aging parents? Or children? The chronically ill?

I know full well that accidents happen. I have hit rabbits on the road. It makes me cry, but sometimes it can't be helped. However, to target an animal and make it a point to injury or kill it -- that is inhumane and despicable.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

"There's a Troll in the Closet!"

My sister works with a woman whose dearest friend has a 20-something son with a slight mental disability. The young man is charming, sweet, hard-working, and very kind. However, he did something the other day that had us in the floor.

The phone rang at his mother's work.

"Mom, there's a troll in the closet," he said.

"Turn off the TV. You have scared yourself. Go outside and clean the barn and quit watching TV," she replied.

"Yes, Mom."

An hour later:

"Mom, that troll in the closet is making a terrible noise," he began.

"What did I tell you, son? Turn off the TV and get the farm chores done!" she scolded.

"Yes, Mom."

An hour later:

"Mom, I think the troll is dead. It is very quiet."

"I am coming home and we are going to settle this, son. There is no such thing as trolls. You know that. I'll be home in ten minutes. Be outside waiting on me."

When she arrived home, he was waiting dutifully outside.

"Now, show me your troll," Mom insisted.

Into the house they went. As she closed the front door she heard:

"Help! Let me out! Helllllpppp!!!"

Rushing to the closet, she opened the door and out came a very petite man. He had been taking tracts door-to-door when he was "caught" and locked in the closet. The son had never seen a petite man before and, when he opened the door, he was scared of the man. Of course, it didn't help that the man walked right into the house without an invitation and scared the young man more.

In the end, fortunately, the "troll" was very kind and understood the young man meant no harm. All the same, I think he may be a Lutheran today....

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Don't Drink Too Much Water!

Adding a few glasses of water to my regime seemed like a good idea. Until this afternoon.

After a lovely lunch with Pegs, I still faced an hour drive home. So, to ensure that all would go well, I made a pit stop before leaving the restaurant. But, as all of us over 50 can attest, that isn't dependable "insurance." By the time I got home, I was rather desperate.

It has snowed and rained today, so the yard was wet and I was in heels. Barely getting the door open, I flung my coat on the desk, stepped over Wookie and fairly flew to the little farmer's room. The next thing I knew, I was wedged between the toilet and tub, my right knee was under me and the left leg was part of the puzzle that formed my prison between two of my favorite fixtures in the house.

"What the heck??" I thought, which was followed by, "How the heck..."

I was stumped. How to get up? Now let's not even think about the fact that I was feeling a great deal of pain in both legs. And, let's not forget that I alternated between weeping and giggling. I just knew I didn't want Don to find me stuck. That would be more than I could bear.

Finally, I managed to wiggle my legs behind me and pushed myself up.

"That was fun, not!" I laughed.

Then, I realized I no longer needed to potty, but I did need to mop.

Ah, the joys of trying to keep fit....

Monday, March 22, 2010

A Moody-ful Day

Five times now I have seen the Moody Blues. Five. And they are better every time.

For spring break we took a little ride to Asheville to the Thomas Wolfe Auditorium to enjoy a Moody Blues evening. The weather was horrible -- fog, rain, cool. I had to pull off the road once just to breathe into a paper bag to calm down. But, it was worth it.

The Thomas Wolfe Auditorium is an intimate venue and we enjoy going there. We saw Lorena McKinnett there two years ago and loved the entire experience. Fabulous. The Moody's were no less pleasurable.

In the past I have seen them with orchestras, but this performance was just the band. The light show, sound, and performance were all topnotch. My goodness, Grahame reciting the intoduction to "Nights In White Satin" while a mirror ball filled the auditorium with "pinprick holes in a colourless sky" was magnificant! Starting the programme with a "I Know You're Out There Somewhere" and ending with "Ride My See-Saw" showed that being "dinosaurs" is not a bad thing. Grahame even managed a wonderful Irish jig in the interlude of "Higher and Higher." Justin was in very fine voice as demonstrated in "Driftwood" and, of course, "Nights in White Satin." Whilst Norah Mulligan is a fabulous flautist, Ray was missed terribly.

Probably the saddest comment of the night was when we pulled into the parking lot and I commented to Don: "Look at all the gray heads! Man, there are some old folks here." And then I realized, we're old, too. Sigh. While Miss Matty can still dance most of the night, many folks sat with their eyes closed, perhaps remembering those wonderful nights of "our youth." The one thing that surprised me was the amount of wine and beer served. We are tee-totalers, so our strongest beverage is the house wine of the South -- sweet tea. Not surprisingly, as the night wore on, more folks were willing to shake their groove thing.

Probably the funniest comment of the evening was when Grahamm held up his two fingers and remarked rather waggishly: "This used to mean 'peace.' Now it means Viagra! Either way, it is 'sex, drinks, and rock-and-roll!'" Yeah.

Although spring break started out being grown-up and responsible, folks, it is somehow heartening to know that I can still rock-and-roll all night long. Yeah. Just don't ask how I felt the next morning..... Pass the aspirin, won't you?

Sunday, March 21, 2010

First Day Musings -- Spring!

Spring has arrived at Lazy Bee Farm this week. While it has been nibbish at night -- around 32-degrees -- the days have brightened to a sultry 66-degrees. This is the kind of weather that makes a young or, a-hum, older, woman's thoughts turn to babies. And chickens. And dirt.

Maisey and Monk are a delightful pair at six weeks. They bounce about the lots, surf the cow's back (should she be in a really good mood and resting by the hay stall), and pull out tufts of hay -- for eating and piling. They are in their forever home it seems. I am smitten with Maisey who bawls just like her Momma Mia. I adore how her ears airplane around her little horn sprouts. Monk has taken over Don's heart. Both come when called, which only makes it harder to even consider letting them leave for another home.

Diddles, as we call 'em in the South, have been order to supplement (actually replace, but don't tell) the aging hens who are not pulling their weight in the coop. By mid-April we will have 50 brown egg layers from Murray McMurray basking in the grow lights of the coop. Come July we will have eggs from them, we hope. We can't keep up with our egg orders now, so having new hens just makes sense. We are expanding to the Farmer's Markets this year, with our friend Shelly, and hope that the eggs will be a big draw.

Delivery men bearing boxes of assorted shapes, sizes, and weights have kept Moose and Annabelle busy this week. As the official greeters of Lazy Bee Farm, the dogs, er, greeters, have sniffed every package to determine orgin, contents, and connections to other dogs in far away places such as Maine and Piedmont Virginia. Heirloom seeds from Southern Exposure Seed Exchange and potatoes from Wood Praire Farm have delighted us with their creative packaging and interesting contents. Now, if the ground would only dry enough to plant our early crops...

Shelly, Don, and Alvin started greenhouse construction yesterday as I chased down the greenhouse cover in Henry County, Va. Puckett Greenhouses is the most interesting business; it is tucked up a hollar and fills it to overflowing with greenhouses and equipment. I counted 15 houses full of plants, seedlings, and other delightful gardening supplies. It smelled like heaven next to the office. Upon investigation, Mother and I found a greenhouse door propped open and jasmine in full bloom twining around the posts and up along the roofline. Surely, God selected jasmine to scent heaven.

This week, tragically, spring break is over. I still believe I have the best job in the world; I am so grateful that it gives me time to pursue the things that make life wonderful. Babies. Chickens. Dirt. Who could ask for more??

What are you doing to celebrate Spring?

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Girls' Day Out!

The three of us left the mountains this morning at 6:45 a.m. for Winston-Salem and arrived home at 6:45 p.m. We covered 225 miles, 2 snacks, 10 stores, and 1 meal. We talked about children, grandchildren, parents, husbands, food, and if the hot light was on at Krispie Kreme (it was). We laughed so hard that people stopped to stare as we stood, leaning against counters, trying not to wet our pants, giggling like teenagers. We had store clerks in giggles simply because giggles are contagious. We cannot go back to Victoria's Secret. We got lost twice and found twice.

I bought tennis shoes, pepper and salt grinders, and a marble mortar and pestle.

Gal pals are the best, aren't they?

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Literary Thoughts: John Bunyan

Kevin Belmonte's biography of John Bunyan, part of Thomas Nelson's Christian Encounter series, is a well researched and tender look at this unassuming tinker/preacher/author. The book opens with a glimpse into Bunyan's childhood and concludes with, fittingly, his successful penning of Pilgrim's Progress and subsequent Christian allegories. Belmonte suggests that the double tragedies, the death of Bunyan's sister and beloved Mother, lead to his search for meaning in life and death. Coupled with a fortunate marriage which lead to his religious conversion, the Tinker Bunyan transforms to the Preacher Bunyan.

From Belmonte's biography I learned more about Bunyan's psyche and how he came to write his story. Little did I know that he wrote it while serving the first of two jail sentences. Just as the great disciple Paul, Bunyon took his imprisonment as a time to write a convincing Christian treatise. Using his own conversion story, Bunyan's allegory suggests that all converts struggle to overcome the world. Set against the backdrop of regicide, civil unrest, and legal uncertainity, Bunyan's life story is an inspiration in these uncertain times.

The book is a compact 166 pages, including comprehensive endnotes, bibliographic sources, as well as a timeline of Bunyan's life. The chapters are relatively short, usually four to five pages, making it a wonderful book to pick up and put down for quick bursts of reading.

I give John Bunyan five out of five bees for being informative, easy to read, and inspiring.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

UPS Stinks

It started with a loom being dropped in my front yard, in assorted boxes, in assorted states of destruction. Parts were missing or destroyed. Three of the four harnesses were broken. The post AND pest were split. Five of the bolts survived the shipping from New Hampshire. More than 85% of the heddles were bent beyond use.

It took five months and Don locking the front door and taking my car keys on more than one occassion before the claim was resolved and the loom was finally servicable.

I have been pretty successful in avoiding UPS until two weeks ago. In a moment of optimistic reconcilation, I opted to ship $100 worth of books to TX. They have not arrived and the tracking number, according to UPS and all their infinite wisdom and dependability, doesn't exist.

Mother says that we shouldn't hate anything or anyone. She's wrong.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Spring Break!

This week we are on spring break (number two --- if you count the week we were out for snow!). When I was younger, it meant a week at the beach. Now, it means I catch up grading and house work.

I hate getting older!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

First Day Musings

Daddy: "You need a new car."

Me: "Why? The one I have is fine."

Daddy: "It is old. It has too many miles (I can't argue there -- it has 330,000 original miles). It is undependable."

Me: "It is not that old. When I bought it in 2001 I made myself a promise to drive it ten years or 500,000 miles. It is a Subaru. That is reasonable. It has only made me walk once due to mechanical failure. It is dependable."

Daddy: "I don't understand why you won't buy a new car."

Me: "I am not going into debt."

Daddy: "Everyone goes into debt."

Me: "I love you, Daddy. The car stays."

As Don and I have gone through the Financial Peace University program one of the things we have noticed is how often things are bought "Just Because." And, as we have worked on clearing out the house and buildings, we are finding things that we Just Don't Know Why We Bought It. For example, why did I think that the Winnie-the-Pooh thimbles were "to die for" ? What were we thinking when we bought a push mower when we have two acres to mow?

One of the most powerful things I have come away from the class with is learning why I make the shopping choices I do. And, this has caused me to question what I value and why. What I have learned is that stuff holds me prisoner. I am forever worrying about taking care of it, storing it, keeping it safe. I know this is a recurring theme here, but I am just astounded that as a society we have, in two short generations, gone from use it up, make it work, or do without to copious consumption. This is an epiphany for me and I am wondering if I am alone in this.

What do you think? Is our society bound by the "gotta have its" or is it shifting back to a less complicated and less materialistic value system? Do you find yourself shopping less and making do more?

Friday, March 12, 2010


So, to overcome my fascinating Thursday morning, Peg takes me to Sagebrush for lunch. As we are sitting there talking, a group of people come in. I realize they are dressed in habits, wimples, tunics, and cowls. This is not unusual to me. Mother attended a Catholic nursing school and, even though we are not Catholic, I have been around nuns and priests dressed in traditional garments. I rather like the tradition of it all.

However, as one of the monks walked past, I realized something very odd. Between his girdle and rosary, you guessed it, was a cell phone.

The incongruity of it all nearly reduced me to giggles. I guess no one is immune to technology, eh?

Thursday, March 11, 2010

You Should Stay In Bed When...

1.) The security alarm goes off at 4 a.m. and you think it is the carbon monoxide alarm; AND,

2.) You go back to bed for a "few minutes" and wake up 15 minutes before you have to leave for work; AND,

3.) As you are driving to work, you hear a sickening "Thump thump thump" only to discover you have a flat tire one day before you are going to buy a completely new set (you have an appointment to do it, for crying out loud!); AND,

4.) While the gas light usually means you have another 50 miles to go, after traveling 24, you start to hear another sickening sound, "putt putt putt); AND,

5.) When you finally get to work, you discover that your donation of coffee is empty and no one has brought a new can.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

First Day Musings

Are you on time?

This question has rolled around my head since yesterday's birthday dinner. Don's family is fabulous, but they are never on time. Lunch was to be at 12:30; the birthday boy showed up at 2. One daughter didn't get there until 3:15. This is a long history. There have been Christmas dinners we (me and Don) didn't eat and Thanksgiving dinners that were six hours late. My personal favorite was the Christmas dinner when we showed up at the appointed time and no one was home. After a series of frantic phone calls, we found that dinner time had been shifted forward three hours and we weren't told. Everyone had gone to eat at a Chinese restaurant; we had Nabs (Nabisco peanut butter and crackers) and a Coke. And I refused to go back for a meal until yesterday.

This has gotten me to thinking about being on time.

"Why are people so late?" I queired Don as we started home.

"I'm late when I don't want to do something," he confessed.

You know, I bet we all are late when that is the case. To me, however, being late is something more. It is like telling someone they aren't even important enough for me to respect their time or efforts to share moments. For some, it is a control issue. It is like their saying, "Well, to get all your attention, I am going to make you wait for me until you are really glad to see me." Or, for other's it is an indication that they underestimate the time it takes to get somewhere. Their judgement is skewed about time and space (which Don says should only happen one time if you are paying attention).

Whatever the reason, it drives me wild. Don's sister, darling Chris, confided to me yesterday, "If it weren't Daddy, we'd eat and clean up the whole meal now. But, you know, we live with the monsters we create."

Insightful. And, to her credit, there were no potatoes and apples left for the latecomers. "I am NOT going to make more," she declared. "If they had been here on time, they could have enjoyed a full meal with the rest of us." I kissed the top of her head and said, "Well done!"

How do you deal with late comers? What do you think about perpetual tardiness?

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Happy Birthday!

Don's dad is 85 this weekend! He is a fine fella --- Air Force pilot in WWII, retired from TWO careers, raised and college educated five children, married nearly 60 years to the same fabulous woman (who, I am positive, made him the man he is!), pipe smoker extraordinaire, and wickedly funny. Demanding, hard-working, saving, and ferociously devoted to his family, he is one of the "Greatest Generation."

It is my good fortune to have married his son who is just as fine a man as he is.

Happy Birthday, Mr. E!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Five Essential Southern Translations

My sissie moved to NC after living in Florida for more than 40 years. If you do the Math, you can quickly figure out that we moved there when she was five. Thus, she missed the whole "North Carolinian" childhood and, sadly, learning to translate Southernisms. After a year of her trying to figure out what folks were really saying, I sat her down and taught her the Five Most Useful Southern Phrases and When To Use Them.

Bear in mind that these phrases must be said in the sweetest voice possible! The five most Useful Southern Phrases are:

5.) Well, I never!

Usage: When listening to a story that seems a little too preposterous!
Translation: I can't believe you are telling the truth and if you are then you are a bigger fool than I realized.

4.) As I live and breathe.

Usage: When overwhelmed by a storyteller's version of a story that you know the rest of the story.
Translation: Can you believe how stupid this person is? How did s/he ever find his shoes, much less get them on the correct feet?

3.) Ain't she purdy (pretty)?

Usage: When discussing someone's daughter, neice, sister, girlfiend or wife and their looks.
Translation: Good thing she can cook; her looks won't help her!

2.) Ain't "it" sweet?

Usage: When admiring a baby and the gender is uncertain and the appearance isn't at all adorable. Let's face it; some babies are just not cute.
Translation: What a plain child! I do hope s/he will be a good cook!

1.) Well, bless their heart!

Usage: When commenting on someone's sister, aunt, uncle, brother, mother, father, or cousin who is really out to lunch.
Translation: This is a tricky one. It can either mean: they are really stupid or they can't help being really stupid.

I just love being Southern....

No One Is Cute Today

Don and I were just discussing today's blog post and he made the comment, "No one was cute today, so I don't know what you will write" which is true. No one was cute today -- especially me.

One of the hardest things about being a Southern Woman is the fact that we are NOT supposed to speak our minds. So, when we do, it not only surprises all those around us, but we give ourselves a little shock as well. However, there is something naughtily delicious about saying what one thinks, don't you agree?

When I turned 40, my best friend, Eleanor, said to me: "Ah, 40... you will start to speak your mind." (She is 13 years older than I.) And, it was so.

As I approached 45, she wisely stated: "Ah, 45... now you will speak your mind and you won't care if you hurt someone's feelings." And, it was so.

As 50 came, she nodded over lunch and remarked: "This is the best age, 50. You speak your mind, don't care who you hurt, and, in five minutes, you don't remember what you said to whom." And, it was so.

As 55 is nearing, I find myself being a curmudgeon sometimes. While I wouldn't have dared at 21 to tell someone what I thought about their behavior, their treatment of me, or their politics, now, it is like I am channeling Imelda Marcos. Sometimes, I think I am just cross.

But, you know what? I can't remember to whom or why....