Thursday, September 30, 2010

Keep the Home Fires Burning

Google images
The Airman is 28 tomorrow.
So is Epcot.
It is the anniversary of the Chicago Tylenol killings.
Sony CDs share this birthday, too.
Yeppers. A stellar historical day!
To celebrate, I am going to see the Airman while the Mister keeps the home fires burning. I am flying. Pray for the people on the plane. Did I mention I don't fly well?
Twelve years ago I took the Airman to England backpacking for three weeks for his 16th birthday (yes, we were still speaking when we got home).
You know it is going to be a bad flight when the plane can't make the concourse and you have to go to it on a bus.
And you have to sit on the tarmac for an hour.
And the pilot says, after the plane suddenly drops eight million feet, "Uh, ladies and gentlemen; please put on your seatbelts. We are going to try to make Charlotte in less time than scheduled. We have a little problem with the plane."
And then, when you are ready to land, two hours early (??), you are told to assume "impact positions."
And when you land you hear a remarkable crack and then nothing.
And then you see your son's hand in the air, three rows over, finger spelling his favorite swear word at the time.
And then you hear a thud!
Because another plane has backed into you.
Yah. I am super excited!
Have a good weekend everyone!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Banning Books??

Yeppers. It is banned book week! And to honor this wonderful week celebrating free thinking and the glorious opportunity we have in this country to select what we read (or don't), here is a list of the top 25 banned books:

1. Harry Potter (series) by J. K. Rowling
2. Alice (series) by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
3. The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier
4. Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
5. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
6. Scary Stories by Alvin Schwartz
7. Fallen Angels by Walter Dean Myers
8. It’s Perfectly Normal by Robie Harris
9. And Tango Makes Three by Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell
10. Captain Underpants by Dave Pilkey
11. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
12. The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison
13. Forever by Judy Blume
14. The Color Purple by Alice Walker
15. The Perks of Being A Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
16. Killing Mr. Griffin by Lois Duncan
17. Go Ask Alice by Anonymous
18. King and King by Linda de Haan
19. Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
20. Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson
21. The Giver by Lois Lowry
22. We All Fall Down by Robert Cormier
23. To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee
24. Beloved by Toni Morrison
25. The Face on the Milk by Carton Caroline Cooney

How many of these have you read?

Tomorrow I will share the Banned Book Event we held on campus today. Tonight, however, I am pooped. Dragging around my ball and chain have worn me out!

Happy reading!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Getting Normal

While I still have the cast, I have mastered driving, which is making me a happier gal. Today, I took myself to and from work. Yah!

What makes this most delightful are three things:

1) I no longer have to listen to the Mister's road rage.

2) I can listen to K-Love on the way to and from work without comments.

3) I got home early enough to have a wonderful cuppa and to catch up on my blog reading!

Life is good, ya'll, even if one is hobbling... At least I am hobbling!

I guess this is a segue to another thing on my mind -- my son's former fiance'. Her current boyfriend had a terrible accident in the summer and is paralyzed from the chest down. I love this girl so much and am heartbroken for their sadness. Will you help me remember them in your prayers? They need all the love they can get right now.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

First Day Musings -- Sitting Pretty

Learning to sit quietly this weekend is like going to a Southern religious retreat: there is a lot of praying, eating, and crying. Then, you kind of settle into a routine and all is calm. Mostly.

As the foot has been swelling like a good yeast bread this weekend, I have spent the greatest part of it on my least favorite part of my anatomy: my sitter. Not much happens when you are sitting, three miles from any neighbors, and it is raining. Coffee. Movies. Knitting. Grading. Reading. Repeat as needed.

So, let me entertain you with what I have been doing.

This is a scarf for M'Mere. She has asthma and cannot abide natural fibers. (So sad!) I discovered this lovely little fiber at Orchardside in July. It is Online, Linie 194, Solo, Colour 201 (black and white). It is a really neat pattern. Cast on 7-8 stitches by picking up along the edge of the "ribbon". Then, knit until you are exhausted. I have learned that I need to leave about one finger's width between each "stitch" to get the best looking ruffle.

This is the sweater for the new baby. I usually knit either a Five Hour Sweater or a Baby Surprise Sweater for new wee ones. But when Knit Simple came this month, I fell hard for the layette patterns. It is all in garter stitch, which is rather brainless and I can knit as the Mister drives me around (it cuts down on the use of the "Oh Rats!" bar). I had this Encore worsted weight that I bought on close out a while back. I just loved the stripes and, since we don't know if it is a dude or dudette, I decided this would work for either. When I am done, there will be a sweater, hat, booties, and blankie. I'll show all when done.

I have graded all my papers and read a little bit. And, I have seen ALL of "Independence Day", "Chronicles of Narnia", and "Inspector Lewis." Yah. Fun times. Oh, and I am drinking decaf... to be safe...

How's your weekend??

Friday, September 24, 2010


Something in this house stinks. I mean STINKS. I have looked everywhere and cannot find it. No rotten taters. Or onions. No unfortunate Wookie boo-boos. No sour laundry. No trash. Compost. Recyclables.

I've checked the Mister's shoes and mine. Looked behind the sofa and under His chair.

The bathroom has been scrubbed.

My search even went out to the porch, but Absolutely Nothing.

In short, my house smells weird and I can't find the source.

No one is getting in until I find it. I hate when this happens.

Added later: I found it! Wookie's food formulation has apparently changed. Mystery solved. Glad it wasn't the Mister. I have gotten used to him....

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Say Cheese!

When one has been a good girl all week and not cried about having no wheels, she gets a fancy dinner at a fine restuarant and her picture taken with her hero! I just wish you could see the lovely green cast...

Monday, September 20, 2010

Basket safety: steel toe boots

I have a monster Longaberger Hope Chest basket complete with maple top. Last night I went to retrieve yarn for the new baby (Sara and Julian are due in October) and put the lid on the top of the cedar chest. As I leaned over, the top slid off the chest and straight down on my bare foot.

I'll be in the cast and walking boot for at least through hay season...

Sunday, September 19, 2010

First Day Musings -- Save it!

Seeds drying from the Georgia Candy Roaster Squash
Black Forest Winter Squash, Sweet Dumpling Squash, Georgia Candy Roaster Squash, Buttercup Squash, Cinderella Pumpkins, Jarrahdale Pumpkins... The names are musical to the ear and the fruit is lovely to the eye! These are the fall crops we have harvested this past week. And what a lovely crop we gleaned! We are all thrilled with the variety and the colours of our fall goodies. And, apparently our customers at the farmer's market found our treasures just as appealing!
Each of the varieties is an heirloom, which means that we can save the seeds and plant them next year. For us, this is a given; we try to only use heirlooms as we are fearful of the Genetically Modified seeds and produce. Our bodies are not created to deal with foods that are not natural. We don't have the amino acids or the chemistry to deal with unfamiliar compounds. A case in point is artificial sweeteners. Research shows that these pass through our systems unprocessed because our bodies do not know what to do with them. So, it stands to reason that GMO foods will pass through our systems without our bodies gleaning every single ounce of nutrition from the food.
And, saving heirloom seeds is important for another reason. What if crops fail and seeds are not available for next year's plantings? What then?
Such was the case here in our little corner of the mountains some 75 years ago. A terrible drought strangled crops in the fields. Food supplies diminished, but being good mountain folks, enough was put by for the next year. But, when the next summer came and the reserve seeds were planted, another drought dried crops in the fields. While folks still had food to eat (we hunt, fish, and scavenge quite well, thank you), no one had seeds for the next year's crop. Except one rather odd woman who lived alone on her farm. She saved her seeds every year. Jar after jar lined her barn shelves and spilled over into her house. Spare rooms overflowed with seed jars, each carefully labeled, their contents safely stored against possible want.
Hat in hand, the community leaders (read: pastors) called on her. She didn't keep the Sabbath with them. She had been an outsider because of her "odd" ways. Yet, she pleasantly greeted her visitors, inviting them to sit in the yard under an old, dying chestnut tree. She offered them water from the spring and a slice of tall, rich pound cake, which they eagerly took. No one in the mountains conducts business on an empty stomach.
After a little chat about the dry weather, the men broached the subject of the seeds. She listened patiently. Personally, I think she knew what they were there for and just wanted to see how long it would take for them to ask. Mountain men hate to ask women for anything and won't look 'em in the face when they do.
Finally, the presentation was over. She sat quietly, knitting in her lap. She brushed her apron smooth and paused, "Well, I guess I could share some." It was arranged that each family would receive what they needed and no more. And, each person had to save their seeds, all their seeds, in the next crop. She calculated that she had enough for each person in our district for two years. Surely, she pondered, God would send rain.
Well, of course you know He did and the next year's crops were abundant. Seeds were saved and are still passed down in families. And, such are the crops many of us still grow -- such as the Candy Roaster.
Do you save seeds??

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Archaic Silliness

The Mister and I have different last names. I have opted to continue using my maiden name; he uses his. We had a long discussion about it and decided that it was silly to change names. Frankly, both of us have fine families and, thus, fine name recognition. Heck, his great-great Uncle was a noted Civil War General and never took the oath of allegience after the "recent unpleasantness." I'd be honored to have his family name. But, it is not MY family name.

I have grown used to answering the question: "Why do you have different names?" His mother tells people I have a "professional" name which makes me feel like a stripper or something. My answer is much more direct: "I offered him my name, but he just wouldn't budge." And that usually ends it.

This has become annoying recently. We are in the process of conducting a legal business transaction. Would you believe I had to write the board a letter explaining WHY I use a different name. For crying out loud, who cares? It is our business. All my personal information is accurate. There are no descrepencies.So, why does it matter that I have a different name? I am not his property nor is he mine. He does not control me or my career, nor do I his. And this is why women started taking their husband's last name. It was a show of ownership.

Don't get me wrong. I adore my Mister. I am glad we are spending our lives together building our dreams and goals. He is my other half. I waited a long time for him and glad he finally showed up! However, I am sick unto death of having to justify a personal decision.

What do you think? Do you think married couples should have the same last name? Or, should that be as personal as their china pattern?

Monday, September 13, 2010

Dumb, but true

For several weeks now I have been dealing with a slight vertigo. This isn't unusual as I have a spinal cord injury that often will get irritated and give me a little case of it. And, I have seasonal allergies in the spring and fall, so I usually don't get too torn up over it. Until now. It has reached the point of disturbing my life, so I knew I had to see someone.

Today, I went to the eye doctor as it seemed to be related to my vision. She poked, prodded, dilated, and pressure checked very carefully. She double checked her findings. I followed the little light, looked at her nose, and traced her fingers. Nothing. Then, she checked my specs.

The ones I am wearing are six weeks old. When the optomitrist checked my eyes, he commented that they had seriously changed and my astigmatism was really worse. Oh well, I thought. That is what comes with getting older. When my glasses came, they troubled me, but I tried to slog through it. Twice, twice!!, I returned to have 'em checked. "They are fine," I was told.

No, they weren't.

New glasses are on the way and I have to suffer with these another week. My father reminded me that this happened to me when I first started wearing glasses. Go figure. Some people have all the luck!

Sunday, September 12, 2010


Clarice at Storybook Woods has just released her book "Wren Bay." Clarice generously invited me to read the book before publication and I am here to tell you, it is a tender, well-written novel about a young woman learning to make home just that -- home. There are receipts and ideas that will inspire your homemaking tendencies and wet your appetite!

Won't you pay her a visit, congratulate her on her first novel, and order one for yourself? You'll be glad you did!

Congratulations, Clarice! I am so very proud of you!

First Day Musings -- Autumn is Here... Maybe...

Autumn, the year's last, loveliest smile. -- William Cullen Bryant

After summer's heat, there is nothing so delicious as having to sleep with a light blanket -- even though the windows are open and it is a choice to be a little chilly in the night. Waking to find the sun just creeping above the mountains, gently caressing the ridges rather than thunder over the mountains is another treat and makes Autumn so special.

I love the crispness of the evenings, the mist rolling up the hollar, the night calls of the birds as they tuck into bed. The pumpkins are harvested and fill the bench and old fashioned wheelbarrow on the front porch. Potatoes are drying on screens, getting ready to either go into the cool storage or the market.

Ground is turned up, moist rich soil covering the remnants of summer's bounty. Greens are sown; parsnip, turnip, carrot, and beet seeds are made ready to broadcast in the gardens to get a good start for winter and early spring. Once winter's cold arrives, mulch will cover them to extend their season. It is an experiment this year. I have been reading Eliot Coleman's "Four Season Harvest" and have decided to give his theories a go. We'll see what winter and spring bring with these crops.

As it cools down, I start scanning more shawl patterns -- can one have too many?? -- and getting sweaters out to wear. I love how they smell -- all lavendar-y from being stored with sprigs of lavendar to keep the moths out. It is shameful how many handknits I have; it is an addiction and something that I, actually, am rather proud of! The Mister, on the other hand, stays too warm to wear handknits and the Airman, well, he was born sweating as well... So, I indulge myself with all the lovely fibers I find.

Autumn -- where we start the morning with layers of sweaters, blouses, and capris, shedding the sweaters by mid-day. Autumn -- where summer pats our cheeks, kisses our noses, and wishes us well in Winter. Autumn -- where we slow down, sip apple cider, and begin dreaming about spring.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Native Lessons

Did you know that the Monacans were chosen at random to leave the Ohio Valley when the Aboriginals had over populated the region? And, did you know they were a peace loving and sedentary (meaning they lived in one place and didn't move) tribe? And, would you believe that they were pushed out of their territory in Central Virginia by the Iroqois?

Our class was so fortunate to have a fabulous docent, Victoria Ferguson, meet us at Natural Bridge and share her immense and personal knowledge of the tribe. Victoria, a Monacan tribal member, works with her husband and the other docents to bring authenticity to the village at Natural Bridge. No bigger than rabbit, to quote "Swingblade", Victoria quickly brings authority and dignity to her presentation. She is energetic, interesting, and proud of her heritage. Her research shows in the common sense analysis she brings to her talk.

We learned so many things in the two hours she so generously gave us! Among the most interesting to the class were:
  • The Monacans' oral tradition focuses more on survival than religion. As Victoria stated, "Which would you try to learn? How to pray or how to live? I suspect to live. For this reason, the oral tradition focuses more on how to survive than to pray. I can do that on my own!"
  • Monacans' lived in at-tees which were constructed of saplings strapped to form a foundation and then covered with what appears to be thatch from cattails. They did not use bark or skins as these were not as readily available as the cattails.
  • After contact with the Europeans, the Aboriginals became more possession oriented and began to exploit natural resources to trade with the Europeans. This caused turf wars as well as murder and loss of food goods (such as deer) necessary for survival.
  • And, most tragically, the Aboriginals suffered heavy loss of tribal members (nearly 80-percent) within 10 years of contact with the Europeans. Talk about genocide...

What an interesting day! I will have pictures to share in the next day or so. Our class is constructing an online resource so that we can share our experiences.

Who can guess where we might go in October? I am up for guesses!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Road Trip!

Isn't it beautiful? And, would you believe, there is graffiti by George Washington? Rogue!

Tomorrow a colleague and I are taking a class to Natural Bridge to see the bridge and the Native village. We are taking a delicious lunch for them -- apples, journey cakes, honey, walnuts, pannikin, jerky, and water. We want them to experience an actual meal as they would have eaten 250-plus years ago. We are packing the food in muslin slips, tied with string, just as it would have been done by those early travellers. The students have no idea what is awaiting them.

We have a special tour of the village lined up and we will take in the Bridge, caverns where saltpeter was hidden, and walk along the river, just as our ancestors. It will be a rather short day, relatively speaking, but long enough to prepare us for our next trip in October --- Williamsburg!

We have combined an American Literature and American History class into one hybrid course, for which they will receive double credit. They are responsible for teaching us as well as our leading them on their path of discovery. Today we held a "freedom dues" trial for an indentured servant. They had to prepare the indenture contract, research freedom suits, and learn about 17th c. court proceedings. It was a fabulous day! I even got to wear my "judge's robe"! Oh, and our servant? The jury found he had more time to serve on his contract, but that the Master had to made some adjustments to the contract to what was more usual and customary.

What fun we are having! And, I hope they are learning something, too!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010


Don't let this innocent face fool you;
behind those soft chocolate eyes is the heart of a rogue!

Monday we were going to a birthday party. We have made some nice friends at the Farmer's Market and one of them invited us to his birthday party on Monday afternoon (Happy Birthday, Ron!). We were really looking forward to going, but, as luck would have it, a certain bull decided to destroy the fences -- two of 'em -- and let the goats out.

Fortunately, Shelly and I had picked all the pumpkins and such as this is where some "escapees" ended up. (What is left is fine, Shelly... promise!) Copper, on the other hand, took the time to go 'xploring -- the pastures, the woods, the garden, and the hay barn. Oh, he is such a well loved bull -- even tonight! NOT!! I think the only thing that kept the Mister from making Mr. Copper steak is the fact that, as a bull, he won't taste too fine. He needs to be a steer to make good meat.

Should you ever want a good work out, let the bull out and go for it. I promise, you will drop pounds quickly. And, if you are really lucky, you'll learn some old words in new ways!

I Love You, Emerson

To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment. Ralph Waldo Emerson

My friend Donna gave me the most cunning bee clings she picked up at the Hillsville Farmer's Market. Several are now hovering on my window. Being senior faculty does have its perks. Everyone needs a friend like Donna. She makes me laugh, doesn't act shocked when I am catty, and has the best laugh I've ever heard. And, she is clever, cute as a button, and very matter-of-fact. Aren't I lucky?

Thanks for all the healing suggestions. I am going to give 'em a go when I get home from classes. In the meantime, I have offered "A"s to those who will scratch my itch! *giggle*

Monday, September 6, 2010

I'll Pay Five Dollars...

for someone to scratch me... I have poison ivy. All over one arm. Just one arm. But it is enough to make my whole body miserable! It itches to the point that I have been eyeing the hairbrush with a certain tenderness that unnerves me....

I have tried all the cures... Suggestions???

In the meantime, who's willing to come give me a scratch??

Sunday, September 5, 2010

First Day Musings -- Ziphorah

I have been missing my Great-Grandmother. The past two weeks have been without boundaries. Name it and it was happening. No time for sitting, reading, or even sleeping. Relentless. And I have been feeling chased by the hounds of hell. And, this busyness is what has made me long for Grandma and her eye of the hurricane peace.

Her birth certificate states she is a person of "colour", but she was actually a Saura indian. A striking 4'11", she had solid black hair that fell from her shoulders to her waist to the floor and beyond which she wore in a semblance of a bee's skep on her head, plaited and wrapped until she appeared to have on a turban. Most remarkable, however, were her steel blue eyes. It is believed the Sauras may have intermarried with folks from the Lost Colony, thus, some had red hair and others had blue eyes. A beautiful mix in any case.

What made Grandma so unique, to me, was the fact that she could fry the best sweet potatoes in the world on her wood stove and that she was never flustered. Make no mistake. She could be firey mad when needed, but she laughed so hard that, like Santa, her belly jiggled like a bowl full of jelly. She knew right from wrong and there was no such thing as grey in her world.

When she was 17 or 18, she met a 6'5" Scot-Irishman with eyes bluer than hers, fell hard, and married him. Thus, her marriage certificate states that she is a person of "colour" yet again. Together they created 17 children, of whom 9 lived to adulthood, and survived depression, death, TB, and strokes until her death at 82 in 1975.

When we would go visit Grandma we didn't call first. It was long distance and too expensive to make a call unless it was serious -- illness or death. But, she always knew we were coming. Sweet potatoes, biscuits, pear preserves, roasted chicken, corn, mashed potatoes, and cake would be cooling on the table when we drove up. And Grandma would come dancing from the back door, apron on and covered in flour, clapping her hands and calling, "hurry and come eat before it gets cold!" She always knew "things." She could stop bleeding with her hands and a prayer. She could churn butter in the heat of summer and grew only red flowers because "we all know those are the only ones that are pretty." Her house was immaculate until the day she went home to her Heavenly Father.

From time to time I smell Grandma, her perfume gently slipping past me as I feel her presence, her stroking my hair as she did when I was a wee thing. I hear her whisper to me, telling me what matters and what doesn't. She knew. She was centered, content as a well fed kitty, and understood the world in a way I doubt I will.

I miss her.