Monday, April 30, 2012

Back in the Day

I was young and green and possessed of the belief that I could do anything I put my mind and my effort to.  So I took a job teaching sixth graders, notwithstanding that the only experience I had with that was my own attendance as a child in a sixth grade class.
As it turned out, this small township school provided me with twenty-four sixth grade students for whom I was responsible  from 7:50 A.M. until 3:20 P.M., except during the weeks that I had "late bus duty."  Then I got to go home at four.

This was called a "self-contained classroom," which simply meant that I got to present the entire curriculum to the learners, including art.  I am not an artist, had no practical experience in art beyond a course in art history (which I liked very much) and my own coloring-book when I was a wee child.

So, naturally in my belief that I could succeed at anything, including the teaching of art lessons to these youngsters, I enrolled in "Teaching Art in the Elementary Classroom."  I still have a few examples of the efforts I made in order to learn the presentation of a lesson or a technique to the students.

The first example is called  "batik."  Almost convinced myself I had talent.   The second is a painting-- a finger painting.  I successfully removed the mess from my hands and clothing.  My favorite piece is a chalk drawing.  If I find it somewhere in all this stuff, I may post it later.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

The Flowers Appear

Rise up, my love, my fair one, and come away. For, lo, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone; The flowers appear on the earth; the time of the singing of birds is come, and the voice of the turtle is heard in our land; The fig tree putteth forth her green figs, and the vines with the tender grape give a good smell. Arise, my love, my fair one, and come away.   Song of Solomon 2

We have a rather nice patch of mature columbine beneath our crabapple tree.
They hide the gas meter and other gaumy stuff on that side of the house.
They are various colors.  I particularly like this one.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Writing and Rafting

Image: Log raft on the Clinch, Tennessee State Library and Archives

Any historical study of Southwest Virginia and East Tennessee is likely to turn up references to rafting goods and in particular logs down the Clinch and Tennessee Rivers to Chattanooga.  This practice prevailed from mid-nineteenth century even into the first two decades of the twentieth.  I have been attempting to write what is to be either a short story, a novella, or a short-short story depending upon the number of words I can string together in a cogent manner to tell a story I want to tell.

In the introductory chapters (meaning the first three or four pages of work) I was having a character sign on to work as a hand on a rafting expedition down the river.  This is all within keeping of the time and setting of the story.  But then I found myself relating a circumstance that centered around a drought in the area, and I brought myself up short, so to speak.  "Whoa," I said.  Would the Clinch support commercial traffic in a time of drought?

So I shut down the writing and go to the research.  I have two very large loose-leaf notebooks related to my family history and genealogy.  I recalled that therein someplace I had an article about the floating of logs down the Clinch as it seems that some of the Morrells and Palmers were engaged in such activities.  From that I went to the internet to garner more information if available.  All this to insure that a fictional tale made sense in a non-fictional world.

Now I am beginning to appreciate a bit better the efforts my sister engaged in to write her recently-published novel, Child of Desire*.  (btw, Sis, I am not attempting to replicate your effort.  Couldn't do it even if I wanted to.)

At any rate, the story will hold together so long as I make sure the protagonist made his trip in the winter, not in spring or summer, for the logging operations took place during the dry summer-fall season, logs being stacked along the riverbanks in preparation for the swelling of the stream in the winter.  A completed raft would be up to 225 feet in length.   The crew would consist of a steersman and six to a dozen hands.  Following delivery of the goods, the crew would return home via rail or on foot.

*Powers, Verla Lacy.  Child of Desire, Tate Publishing Company, 2011.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Flashback Within Flashback

My late mother-in-law, Helen Prout, Ellie's mother, lived with us during the last few years of her life.  She was a pleasure to be around, and as for annoyances, I probably provided more of them for her than she did for me.
The last several months of her life, Helen was bedfast.  However at no point was her mental capacity diminished.  I would sometimes sit at her bedside in the evening and listen as she regaled me with her memories of days gone by.  Sometimes I would listen carefully, then before retiring for the night I would go to my desk and record her stories.  I tried to keep them in her voice and as closely to her words as possible.  As I was culling some of my myriad file folders, I came across these records.  Let me share a few of these tales.
Great-grandfather Richard Goodwin was highly educated and quite prominent, but my grandmother's mother died when Grandma was a girl of ten.  Richard Goodwin remarried and apparently, as I understand it, remanded Charlotte to the custody of a guardian, at least some of the time during her growing-up years.  Charlotte, though, was very strong-willed and independent, and upon nearing adulthood and wanting means of her own, learned telegraphy and took a job as a telegraph operator.  Her father, on discovering this, was so furious he cut off all Charlotte's hair, as he deemed her actions disgraceful and beneath her status in life!

The greatest mistake my mother ever made was staying with her mother (Charlotte) all her life.  My grandmother was very severe and somewhat of a tyrant.  She was not what I would call a loving person, and both my sister Elsie and I were recipients of punishments at her hand that were too severe by half.
(More, perhaps, another time.)
Helen Knapp Prout
on her 90th birthday

Thursday, April 26, 2012

An American Icon

Image: Wikipedia

Happy Seventy-ninth birthday to Carol Burnett.

Since there is no one remaining in America who does not know who Miss Burnett is, it is unnecessary, redundant even, to present a biographical summary.

Thank you, Miss Burnett.  You have entertained us wonderfully well!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

On April 25th

Image: Wikipedia

Lysander’s Spartan Navies and Armies defeat the Athenians thus ending the Peloponnesian War, 404 B.C. following over a quarter-century of hostilities. Whether the Spartans or the Athenians should rule became totally moot a half-century later when Philip of Macedon conquered the whole of Greece.

Francis Crick and James D. Watson publish Molecular structure of nucleic acid, describing the now-famous double-helix structure of DNA, 1953.
Image: Wikipedia

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Peppermint Patty and Ducky Duddle*

I have any number of file folders with labels such as "Stuff," or "TTK," or "Bulletin Board." Over the years in the office, I dropped clippings from articles, things I had posted on the bulletin board, and in general things that interested me at the time. Occasionally I will pull one of these folders from the file cabinet and reminisce a bit. Sometimes I think, "What was I thinking?"

The cartoon above may be a reminder of a time when your student, or perhaps you yourself, had such an experience in your classroom. That may have represented a difficult childhood moment. But I look at Peppermint Patty's dilemma today and see it in a whole new light, for this experience is becoming more and more commonplace in my daily living. I find frequently I know exactly what I am thinking and I know that I know the word I want as well as I know my name, and yet it will not fall off the tip of my tongue. Very frustrating. There is a scientific name for this phenomenon, but I can't think of it at the moment.

I kept a supply of these little forms in my desk drawer. Occasionally a student, or a staff member, was the recipient of one of these. Good for making paper airplanes, or it might have been placed in the circular file. Whatever the case, my writing was not limited to reprimands and directives. One wonders, though, which sorts of notes had the greatest effect on a person's behavior.
There is another thing that happens when one gets old. He muddles in nostalgia and wonders what might have been. Or even what was.

*When I was in first grade, we sang a little song that went as follows:
A little Ducky Duddle went wading in a puddle,
went wading in a puddle quite small.
Said he it doesn't matter how much I splash and splatter
for I'm only a Ducky after all.

Now how's that for nostalgia?

Monday, April 23, 2012

Brother and Military Hero

Our last day on the road home included a stop in Mt. Vernon for a visit with BBBH's brother, Glen.
The stop included thirty extra miles of driving, not because Mt. Vernon is off the route, but rather because the driver missed the exit. Oh, well.
Glen is eighty-seven now. A visit with him is always a pleasure. For the siblings it will always include reminiscing about earlier times. For me, it is always a revealing session, because I am not privy to all of their shared experiences. But it is not all nostalgia, for we always take some time to solve the current problems of this sorry world we inhabit. Things will be better now.
Glen went into the army in time to take his basic and his paratrooper training before some of WWII's most noted battles. His experiences included a drop over Corregidor he would like to forget, yet memory has not failed him. Over the course of his military career, he served with the 101st Airborne as well as with the 82nd and the 173rd. He retired from the Army after 22 years of service which included postings in Europe as well as action in the South Pacific.
His varied career following service included several years as an instructor at Rend Lake Community College. He still lives with his wife, Marge, in the home they purchased in the 1950s.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Psalm 127

1Except the LORD build the house, they labour in vain that build it: except the LORD keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain.

2It is vain for you to rise up early, to sit up late, to eat the bread of sorrows: for so he giveth his beloved sleep.

3Lo, children are an heritage of the LORD: and the fruit of the womb is his reward.

4As arrows are in the hand of a mighty man; so are children of the youth.

5Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them: they shall not be ashamed, but they shall speak with the enemies in the gate.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Dining with Mrs. Laine #T

Way back in 2010 we presented a series of stories about the years we lived in Loonville. One, if so inclined, might go back through the archives from that far-distant time and find all twenty-two of these stories posted weekly between June 8 and November 2. But herewith, longing for a fine dining experience once again, I repeat this one.

Decades before America was introduced to the "Soup Nazi," there was Mrs. Laine. The old 1897 brick building on the southwest corner of Main and Water was home to Laine's Cafeteria. It was a cafeteria only one day a week-- Sunday from 10:30 to 2:30. The restaurant was also open on Friday evening and Saturday evening, but service then was not cafeteria-style.

Mrs. Laine during the week is the drama and literature and Latin teacher at the local high school. We have no idea how old she is, for most people under fifty remember her as their teacher; and yes, plastic surgery was practiced in that day and time. Also, we know that she has a son who is forty-six years of age, about whom more later. Let's meet her in her establishment on this beautiful Friday evening.

There are no gaudy lights, no signs visible from the street. There is a small bronze plaque, about six inches by twelve, affixed to the brickwork beside the front door on which is inscribed


As we pass through the vestibule, noting that the lights are becoming dimmer as we walk along the hallway, we soon come to the podium at which sits Mrs. Laine on a high stool. On the podium itself is a leather-bound menu, and the one is more than enough, for the menu is exactly whatsoever has been created in the kitchen on this day. That is what you will have, no more, no less, if indeed you have anything. Mrs. Laine inherited the recipe collection from her great grandmother who was an immigrant from Eastern Europe. The food is worth the trip, as numerous souls from as far away as four neighboring states would testify.

Mrs. Laine raises her perfectly-coiffed head. With neither smile nor frown, she peers imperiously toward you through her lorgnette. "Yes?" You tell her how many in your party, and she looks down at her desktop as you note the triple strand of high-quality pearls that encircle her neck. This is where the "rubber meets the road." Even though a quick glance around the dining area reveals several empty tables, and you know as well that Laine's does not take reservations, you may or may not be admitted for dinner! Some have driven eighty or a hundred miles only to be rejected at the door. No one knows what system or set of standards the hostess uses to make her determination; but her decision is final. A few unlucky and unwise souls have attempted the ploy of sliding a folded twenty-dollar bill across the desktop. It is unfolded, daintily held now between thumb and forefinger, and thrust back toward the offending soul. Here the proprietor speaks, "You may be admitted at a later date; but if you make this mistake again, you will be banned forever." Here she taps with her lorgnette on an eight x twelve poster on the wall to her left. You look at it. It is headed "Persona non grata." Below, though in your haste to retreat you do not read all the names, you note a few that are immediately outstanding.

    • Fidel Castro

    • Lyndon B. Johnson

    • Matt Welsh

    • John Frederick

    • Anna Lighthouse

and so on. We would probably all ban Castro. Mrs. Laine has voided Mr. Johnson's privileges because, though she was a huge JFK fan, her suspicions regarding LBJ's ascension to the presidency are quite strong. Matt Welsh is the governor of the state, an all-round nice guy, but he had the misfortune of running against and defeating Mrs. Laine's brother in a heated election for state representative many years ago. Roger Branigin succeeded Welsh as governor in 1965, and shortly thereafter, his name was added to the list. I don't know why. John Frederick is the local "mayor," the title being an honorific since there is no such official position. The community can only speculate as to Mrs. Laine's dislike of him, but it is well-known. Anna Lighthouse, and this is really ancient history, was a rival for Mr. Laine's attentions when the three of them were students at Indiana University. Though Mrs. Laine prevailed in the contest for the man's heart, she has never forgiven Anna. Just for existing, we suspect.

Oh, dear. And having ourselves passed muster, we have yet to be seated. The Empress hostess lifts her right index finger slightly. A tuxedoed lad immediately appears at her shoulder, and she says, "Four for seventeen." We are escorted at once to our candlelit table and the feast begins.

The tureen is set on the table, the waiter takes the ladle and...

Thus begins a dining experience to which I am unable to do justice, so you will complete the story by simply imagining the most delightfully indescribable dining experience you have ever had.

© 2010 David W. Lacy

Thursday, April 19, 2012

The Christmas Cactus

The Christmas Cactus has occupied a spot in the home for forty years. Its origins having been lost in the mists of time, I can only attest to its existence during the time that I have known it. Its actual age is unknown, just as many a beautiful lady would wish for herself.

This plant has survived the trauma of over-watering, re-potting, relocation, and other such treatments. Three years ago as it dropped its leaves, stems and arms, I would not have bet a dime on its chances of survival. But with judicious trimming and tlc, it has returned to this state!

The plant has on occasion bloomed at Christmas time, but also at Easter, or whenever it seems to be in the mood to dress up in its formal attire!

Heide cared for this creature, as she did for all our indoor plants, while we were gone this winter. We returned home to find this display. Way to go, Cactus. Way to go, Heide!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Searching for Something... write about. I played this game, since tomorrow is the eighteenth day of the fourth month, I went to My Pictures and counted down to the eighteenth folder, selected the fourth picture and transferred it over here.

Data: Taken five years ago in Louisiana, entryway of my cousin's home. On the tray Jeeves is holding you may see "Flat Stanley" who made the trip to Texas with us. Flat Stanley was creation of Grandson Brayton in partial fulfillment of requirements for third grade social studies. Stanley's trip was recorded photographically, pictures submitted to the student as required, along with notes on the trip.

It is supposed that Brayton's project was acceptable, for he is now an eighth grader.

Other memories sparked: This trip was the one in which we traveled along the Natchez Trace. We ate BBQ in Natchez. Stanley did not partake. We visited a haunted house in Louisiana. Stanley was not frightened. We had the wettest, coldest winter we have ever spent in coastal Texas. Stanley did not care.

And off the top of my head, twenty-two minutes before my bedtime and after a long, hard day of effort in the yard, which now looks pretty darn good if I do say so myself, that is about the best I can do!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Open the Door!

How do you gain egress from a public restroom? For years I have washed the hands, taken the paper towel, dried the hands. Then, and this is where the expertise enters the picture, using the towel as a buffer, I grip the handle of the door, pulling it open. Next, blocking the door open with the foot, I wad the towel and expertly flip it into the wastebasket. No, one does not miss, for one does not leave trash on the floor for the custodian to handle.

But. Technology being what it is, someone has finally perfected an awesome hurricane-in-a-can which will dry the hands in a trice, thus eliminating the need, in the mind of management, to provide towels. So how to open the door? Clearly, someone has posed this question to the powers that be, for now I find (just yesterday for the first time, in fact) that someone has created a hook thingy to fasten on the inside of the door, along with a diagram showing how to use it. In a few words, insert arm, fingers up, and pull door open with the wrist, thus avoiding the necessity of touching a handle with the freshly washed pinkies.

Now if you have not tried this, trust me: it is trickier than the picture shows. Open a door with the forearm extended up its inside with the elbow plastered against it. And get your body out of the way. Wait! How do I move? Where?

Drat. I am going to have to start carrying extra paper towels in my pocket for just such a situation.

Monday, April 16, 2012


Weary travelers at Boomland.

Our third road stop on the way home was at Boomland. This facility is in Charleston, Missouri and we have stayed here many times over the years. It seems that no matter what roads we take across Texas and Arkansas, no matter how many stops we make, no matter how early or late our morning start, we always wind up here right about sunset.

Not a bad thing, for the overnight camping is very good, the price is right, and Boomland offers copious food and plenty of shopping, if you are into knickknacks, souvenirs and the like. Fish special on Friday (and Monday) is $3.75. We ordered that, ate our fill and took enough home with us for Saturday night supper.

We made it home before dark on Saturday night, tired but relieved to be no longer at the mercy of the highways.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

A Good Place

No, we are not going to call this place home, but it is a good resting place for our second night out on the road.


Friday, April 13, 2012

Crested a long rise, and...

...somewhere in the northern part of East Texas, we found Animal Farm. The RV park, I mean; and that is not its real name. The proprietor was eighty-seven year old Emily who ran the place while her husband George mostly watched. Emily escorted me to the house to check us in, but first she had to corral the lamb and get it into the house. Mostly, it thinks it is a dog, so a little coaxing got the job done. We would later hear the story of the triplet lambs born on a freezing cold night, leaving the mother dead, and how Emily nursed this and another one to this happy stage of their lives.

There were cats in abundance, and to the question regarding their number, the response was "something over twenty." We like them here, for they tend to keep the copperhead population under control. Yeah, I am thinking. That is probably a symbiotic relationship, for it is likely that the serpents tend to keep the kitty population somewhat under control as well.

One could look out the window and see no fewer than a half dozen black cats at any one time, not to mention the cats of other stripes and colors. The grey was probably the prettiest, the black-and-white the largest, and most interesting because while many of the cats were of the short-tailed variety, this one had a short corkscrew tail. Made one wonder which car door or screen door got that one.

As you see from the picture, sitting around on the patio visiting was a feature of the evening and brought back memories of the good old days when neighbors gathered on a front porch to pass and evening. You may also note that BBBH was greatly enthralled with the lamb.

The little dog, a dachshuahua (I made that up. Well, actually the male chihuahua who jumped the dachshund made it up.) represented a whole other story with which Emily regaled us.

And here you can see how two of the cats joined us for visit by perching on the hood.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Multitasking Merchant

Just around the corner from Chanticleer Gigantor we discover this apparently multipurpose dwelling. The sights hereabouts are so much more interesting than are the dwellings along the shoreline where seven digit investments in housing are de rigeur. There is such a sameness, such an obvious we-have-more-money-than-we-know-what-to-do-with and is-this-not-impressive? attitude.
But in these nearer-downtown neighborhoods, we find real individuality, real Americana. Real, well, real.

Here, we imagine, we can get our shoes half-soled while our flower arrangement is prepared. And there is apparently plenty of space for parking. On the grass.
Perhaps its a Mom and Pop operation; she works on the Westside, he on the East.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Computer Repair

Doubting my ability to stay away from the interwebs and simultaneously maintain my sanity, such as remains, I sought out a techie. I found him here in the caboose.

I took the computer in at 8:45 a.m. At eleven ten I got the call advising me that it was ready to pick up. Now how can you beat that?

And what was the matter? you wonder.

Keyboard. He changed out the keyboard. Better that than the wild imaginings going through my head which included such things as loss of pix and music.

So, I'm b-a-c-k!

Sunday, April 8, 2012

He Lives that We Might Live

He died that you might be saved. He arose that you might live with Him eternally!

Happy Easter!

Pedro, Juan y Maria Magdalen en el sepulcro vacio
Jaime Dominguez Montes

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Ice cream!

Philosophy, wisdom, and guides to living are often found in the comics. Sometimes true wisdom is expressed much more succinctly and in a more entertaining manner than one finds in dry tomes.

Here we have Earl Pickles whose encounters with frustrations and disappointments have clearly taught him a valuable lesson. There is ice cream.

Beautifully, and as it is supposed to happen, Earl shares his wisdom with his grandson, Nelson.

Have a bowl of ice cream. And give some to your grandchildren, too!

Pickles, by Brian Crane

Friday, April 6, 2012

Yard Art

I normally don't do yard art, but occasionally something is just too too to pass by. There used to be a blog "Along Life's Highway" featuring the yard art game. I don't know the blogger or what happened, but there has been no new post for four months.

I did, however, espy this one which I thought to share with the readers. It is near the historic downtown area of Rockport, and not two full blocks from the police station. Why don't they do something about that? *grin*

Anyway, I stopped and snapped a shot rather quickly, then rode to the end of the block and stopped in the shade of an oak to take a gander at what I had. I had cut the head off the creature! Drat. So I mounted the bike and rode back, hoping to improve on the first effort. But. And it was a mighty big but. And I do not mean "butt." A young man of perhaps thirty years of age, shall we call him "Monster Dude" was in the front yard. The sleeves of his too-tight double XL shirt were ripped off at the shoulders. This was to accommodate the man who was himself "ripped" as they say in the business.

So holding the handlebars with the left hand, I attempted to palm the camera in the right hand whilst snapping the shot with the ring finger. Wonder of wonders! It's not bad. Not great, but not bad.

Top: Snapped while riding by; shows scale

Bottom: Blowup for detail

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Accomplishment and Failure

It has been quite some time since I have treated you to an example of my inimitable artwork, so here you go. You are welcome. I will refer to this picture as I relate my experiences of a very hot and quite muggy afternoon.

BBBH had a couple of prescriptions at Wallyworld which needed to come home. She was at the pool leisurely enjoying the water. She was not impeding any lap swimmers, as she was the sole occupant of the pool. I thought, "Hmm. It is only about three miles to the store, the bicycle is in good shape, and if I take it easy, I will make it there and back with no problem." So I took off.

Cutting to the chase, I made it to the store and was on my way back. As I rode by the sports complex at the junior high school I observed a few soccer players at practice and a few tennis players working out on the courts. After I passed the court and as I approached the stoplight at the corner, I saw a tennis ball lying by the curb. "I shall do the youngsters a favor," thought I. So, retrieving the ball, lying at point A I determined in my mind that I would need to return to a point closer to the court in order to heave the ball over the fence. I moved to point B, and thus there was, say, 45 feet between me and the fence, plus the ten feet above the fence to be negotiated.
HEAVE! The ball hit the fence, bounced to the bleachers, bounced to the fire plug, and rolled back across the street to point C.

Now I am directly across the street, thirty-five feet from the fence. The ball hit the fence, rolled under the bleachers and back into the street. A very chastened and embarrassed old man strolled either chalantly or nonchalantly, I don't recall which, back to his bicycle and proceeded on his way home.


Getting old does stuff.

Some I like (I get to live another day.) Some I don't (the old gray stud's not the stud he used to be. If he ever was.)

I made it home!

Readers of Bob Warr know why I didn't take the scooter.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

A turtle for Lin

Lin has been sharing with us the coming back to life of her pond. She loves her pond creatures, and it seems that the frogs hold a special spot in her heart. Yesterday, she schooled us in determination of frog gender. Lesson received, and yet not one that will frequently be applied, I suspect.

We have a very nice pond on the premises, probably sixty meters long by seven to fourteen meters in width. I thought to walk over and see if I could capture a frog for Lin. With the camera, of course. I don't even want to think about shipping and handling, particularly handling, of frogs.

While the pond is teeming with life, I did not see any frogs. There were seventeen jumpy whistling ducks, all of which jumped into the air at my approach and sped off to other parts. There were lots of turtles, which may account for the paucity of frogs. So here is one of those turtles.

Since the turtle contributes very little to the "beauty" of this post, I decided to include this picture of tiny flowers. These surround the pond and one can scarce take a step without treading on them. But they spring back and continue to bloom in their places!

Isn't it often the case that in this life, wherever we are placed to blossom and bring beauty to the world, we are sometimes trod upon? So then we spring back and continue to fulfill the mission for which we were intended!

Monday, April 2, 2012

More Screen Shots

Pelican on Post and Fishing Pier

Gulls on Ground and Marina

Walk to the End of Pier

Wonderful Palm Sunday here in Paradise. Morning service in church was a musical presentation of "The Borrowed Tomb" by a 42-voice choir with re-enactment of scenes in the last years of Jesus's life, culminating in the crucifixion and the Resurrection!

Sunday brunch was seafood at the Big Fisherman. Cannot top Texas for seafood!

After the meal, we parked the RV along the seawall at Rockport Harbor, door next to the sea, opposite window toward the marina. The waves rolling in and breaking against the wall, the wind soughing through the riggings of the sailboats, and I was soon in Dreamland. When I awakened, I strolled along the docks, then BBBH and I walked the length of the pier, and visited a time with the fisherpeople at the end.

Then it was back to the campground, which though inland only four or five blocks from the sea, had to be fifteen degrees warmer. So we sat inside in the A/C until the sun went down!