At Summer’s End

There’s an old song from a 1935 George Gershwin folk opera (Porgy and Bess) that goes this way:Summertime

I’ve been thinking about this song as the end of summer unofficially comes tomorrow. From my point of view, even in summertime the livin’ is far from easy. Especially for the fictional Porgy (the central character of the opera), life is miserable! He’s beset by numerous problems, not the least being his dark skin in this 1920s portrayal of South Carolina. Continue reading “At Summer’s End”

Battle Lines

With all the chatter in the news and online about the so-called “militarization of local police departments,” I decided it was time to pitch in my two cents. In the days following #Ferguson, the hue and cry has been incessant. Commentators who had previously broached the subject (of supposed militarization) nodded their heads, anxious to remind others of their brilliant insight.ferguson-police-700

Capitalizing on the current hysteria about law enforcement militarization, the ACLU released its opinion on the subject in a July report titled “The War Comes Home.” This report promotes a perception that the weapons used to fight our wars over the last 20 years have been purposefully brought from the battlefields in foreign lands to hyper-arm our home-based law enforcement units. Further, the ACLU suggests the attitudes of war are pervasive among state-side police officers, who have adopted “a warrior mentality … who think of the people they’re supposed to serve as enemies.Continue reading “Battle Lines”

Eighty-Eight Ways

Today is my dear mother’s eighty-eighth birthday! Because she’s my hero, all week long (in anticipation of her birthday) I’ve been planning to list eighty-eight ways in which I think she’s great. I began the list, but as I reflected on her life, I felt like it wasn’t really fair to compile a list … as if this amazing woman could be summed up with a number of facts or trivia! I’ve posted about her in the past, so I invite you to read some of the facts of her life I’ve already shared. (Start here, here and here. There are others but those three will suffice for now.)100_0286

The photo at right is a picture of a pillow my daughter-in-law made for her, painting the picture as a pleasant reminder of the years Mom lived in Florida. (She and my daddy moved there after he retired. After his death, she remained about six more years in the home they had shared and then moved back to St. Louis.) She always loved being near the beach because she was an avid swimmer.

During my mom’s lifetime, she has done remarkable things by living a simple life of steadfast resilience. She encountered early challenges, losing her daddy when she was six years old … and shortly thereafter, losing the daily presence of her mother because Mom was quickly enrolled in boarding school. This double-barreled loss would’ve devastated the spirits of countless children, but my mom soldiered on.

When my mom met my dad during the mobilizing phase of World War II, she fell in love with this Army corporal, not knowing whether or not he’d return from D-Day. (At one point, he was reported as MIA; thankfully, that proved to be untrue.) Once the war ended and he returned from military deployment, he invited her to visit his family in St. Louis. At first, his close-knit family were all pretty wary of this Eastern, boarding school girl, but they grew to love her and she found an extended family unlike anything she’d known before! Continue reading “Eighty-Eight Ways”

Beauty Is . . .

Our daughter-in-law adopted a young lady this week. (It was only temporary.) The young lady happened to mention to S. that she was entering a beauty competition for Miss Carroll County (AR) which was one of the competitions that launched S.’s beauty pageant experience!

MissCarrollCountyDIL’s shop, Vintage Violet Boutique, sponsored this young lady in the 2014 competition held this week. The young lady earned (today) a 2nd runner up award. S. also posted a picture of herself (on FaceBook) that I’m borrowing here. I think this may have been the official Miss Carroll County picture from the year she won.

One of the reasons S. became involved in pageants was to earn money for her college education. With those earnings, she was able to put herself through school. She continued competing and won many other pageants, including Miss Hawaiian Tropic events. Her experiences in pageant events through the years makes her a great resource for young girls who also want to enter and do well in these competitions. S. loves to engage in this kind of instruction and she’s a great teacher!

That’s my DIL. Then there’s me. I’ve never been involved in a beauty pageant of any kind. (Truthfully, I always thought they were stupid … until I met my daughter-in-law and saw how valuable the experiences had been for her!)

Looking at DIL’s experience through my more-enlightened eyes, I see how the pageants helped her to develop poise, to think on her feet, and to comfortably express her bubbly personality while being scrutinized by beauty pageant judges. I’m pretty sure I’d have hated participating in the glare of those lights, but I see how it makes her the person she is today. She developed the confidence that enables her to take the risk of opening her own store (in a depressed economy) and to make it a successful endeavor! Continue reading “Beauty Is . . .”

Challenge Me

People who know me know that one of my personality quirks is an eagerness to take on almost any challenge. Don’t misunderstand me. I’m not saying I’m incapable of refusing a DARE. In my view, dares are slightly different than challenges. I don’t respond to dares in the same way, though I can’t deny I’ve been baited on occasion.Razorback

One time during our Thursday morning ladies golf game, we were on the 7th hole. This is a short hole, but also a water hole that has intimidated me as long as I can remember. Sixty-eight yards should not be terribly hard, right? But my golf balls have an incredible talent when it comes to flying over water … they mostly refuse to take the trip!

The ladies with whom I played were hitting nine irons or wedges. I’m thinking (to myself) maybe I can get over with a seven iron … or if I hit the ball surprisingly well, an eight iron, but that’s iffy. So I pull the eight out of my bag and tee the ball up just a bit. I manage to get the ball over the water and onto the grass but there’s a downward slope and the ball rolls off the grass, down the edge and into the water. But since that was a pretty dry summer, there wasn’t as much water in the pond and the ball got caught in the muck (ducks) and dirt. Continue reading “Challenge Me”

School Time Blues

News reports the last couple days are buzzing about the American Academy of Pediatrics report advocating later start times for the school day. This idea, they say, would prove advantageous for children, promoting better mental alertness and general health for kids (especially teens). As a professional association of more than 60,000 pediatricians, AAP is advocating that the school-day start about 8:30 a.m. or later, particularly for middle school and high school students.Tired-Girl

AAP’s report has generated plenty of discussion with articles here, here, here, and here … among a host of others. News anchors on radio and television have highlighted the discussion as well. Continue reading “School Time Blues”

Writing To Distraction

Discussing the possibility of purchasing a piece of property this weekend, my Beloved and I were contemplating potential uses for a 10-acre wooded rural space with its fixer-upper 1,000+ square foot house. Because it’s 30 minutes away, the distance was a huge sticking point for him. The ten acres (and the bargain selling price) appealed to me. Mostly in jest, I suggested it would make an ideal writer’s retreat, a place to steal away to and be wholly focused on writing!


The notion of an actual writer’s retreat is something of a standing joke for the two of us. I think of the numerous writers I’ve known through the years, several of whom wrote novels while sitting at their kitchen tables … between the hours of 4 and 6 a.m. before they trundled off to their day jobs.

I’ve known others, however, who cling to the romantic model of a secluded cottage nestled in the forest, a light dusting of snow on the ground and a generous benefactor delivering meals thrice daily with only the most minimal amount of polite conversation appended to the exchanges. Romantic notions of the cloistered writer are appealing. (I’d be lying to pretend otherwise.) Continue reading “Writing To Distraction”

Tin Can Alley

One of the amusing things about blogging is the Spam that seems to be an integral part of the territory. Spam … that delectable Hormel product introduced in 1937 and popularized during World War II … isn’t just for the food pantry anymore. It’s an indispensable element of the World Wide Web experience!spam_can_open

Given his experience in World War II, my dear daddy enjoyed Spam. He’d slice it up, arrange it in a skillet and fry one side and then the other to a golden brown. Usually, he’d serve the slices on bread. I don’t recall him using any condiments, just fried Spam and bread. (And he wasn’t much for vegetables, so this would be a complete meal for him.)

Looking through my blog folders today, I got to thinking about Spam. I have a plug-in set up to move what appear to be Spam comments into a trash folder. So far, I’ve set up the folder so that I decide when and if these comments are permanently deleted. This could be done automatically if I changed the setting, but I’m the curious type and these comments can be perplexing … hence my curiosity. There are certain common themes and the language usage leads me to believe these messages are machine generated, or else originate from a non-English-speaking country. I’ve never researched them, but have my suspicions. Continue reading “Tin Can Alley”

Wanted: Computer Nerd ASAP

Since about 1992, I’ve been working with computers. In those early days, I ignored my younger brother’s advice to go with Mac (what did he know … he was my kid brother after all). I wholeheartedly jumped on the Windows 3.1 bandwagon.

We had dial-up internet and as I recall, the speed (theoretically) was in the 14.4k range (bits per second?) But we were amazed computers could communicate over a network! Wow! Eventually, we ditched the outmoded modem for a smokin’ hot 56k — boy, we were zooming!

(It’s been so long, I’m having trouble recalling the exact terms, but all those old modems are still gathering dust in a box out in our barn. Maybe when I’m old and gray … uh, really, really old and gray … my grandkids will dig through that stuff and ask me, “What’s that odd-looking thing?”)

In the years since, Windows has released multiple iterations and advanced its operating system far beyond what we experienced in those good old days. I remember 3.1 — a single window at a time, but we were tickled pink with its fancy, colorful interface. How far we’ve come! Continue reading “Wanted: Computer Nerd ASAP”

Summer Camp Redux

A couple weeks ago, one of my posts was a spoof on Summer Camp. Following that post, I had not expected to undergo a mild case of nostalgia after remembering various aspects of my actual summer camp experience during my youth. I was surprised at the flood of memories that came to mind! In predictable fashion, a whimsical poem began to draw certain images and test how they’d work themselves into verse.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

One of those images, the Elephant Rocks shown above, pretty much demanded to be included, so being the pushover I am when my brain is so insistent, I worked the mental image of elephant rocks into what I was writing. With that impossible phrase included, the poem took on its own style.

A word to those who question the existence of both boondocks and elephant rocks, please be assured I didn’t make up these things. Boondocks may describe numerous places (especially in the South, especially in states with a generally rural landscape as Missouri has), but the boondocks description definitely fit the location of the summer camp I attended in childhood. Further, the camp I attended (located in the southeastern part of Missouri) was within close proximity of both the Johnson Shut-Ins State Park and the Elephant Rocks State Park.

Boondocks? Check. Elephant Rocks? Another check. Continue reading “Summer Camp Redux”