Monday, July 31, 2006

An Adventure With Rudy

He was abandoned in a large cardboard box on the parking lot of a Food 4 Less in North Little Rock, Arkansas. I found him. He was a skinny orange kitten who had cried so long that his voice was just a croak. I thought I was hearing some kind of bird.

The first night in my apartment he slept in my bed curled at the top of my head. He was the friendliest, most lovey dovey cat I have ever met. I named him Rudolph after Rudolph Valentino.

Later that year, Rudolph and I moved to Virginia Beach, Virginia. Rudolph was a unique cat in that he loved to travel. He stood on his hind legs and looked out the passenger side window. Sometimes he rode in the rear window. He loved to ride in the car. He also behaved quite well on a leash. Another oddity, I thought, for a cat. I actually took him walking on the beach. The beach was okay, but he really liked walking on our apartment complex grounds and in the park.

Now the adventure.

It was our second year in Virginia Beach and time to purchase our Christmas tree. It was a beautiful cold day and Rudolph wanted to go outside so I decided he could go with me to buy the tree then we could go for a walk. I drove to the tree lot in my little hatchback with Rudolph watching the scenery out the passenger side window. When I opened my door to get out, Rudolph hopped out. I absolutely know he had his escape planned because he moved so fast I couldn't even grab the end of his leash. He took off for the rows of evergreens displayed in the lot. I immediately panicked.

The lot was on a busy corner and I had visions of Rudolph being flattened on one of the busy streets. I began walking in a crouch searching among the trees and calling, "Rudolph! Rudolph!" I was so worried and concerned for my cat that I didn't really pay much attention to the other shoppers. I was focused. "Rudolph, Rudolph, come here!" I peered through branches, looked under trees, scurried through the "aisles" constantly calling Rudolph. Gradually, I became aware that people were moving out of my way. Fast. They were whispering behind their hands. Some people were laughing. Their behavior registered in my mind, but I was still focused on finding Rudolph. Finally, I captured the frisky feline and took him back to the car. I gave him a firm talking to, locked the doors and returned to the urban forest to select a tree.

As I was driving home, it hit me. The people in the tree lot must have thought I was a mental patient searching for Rudolph, the red-nosed reindeer. No wonder the attendant was so jolly and helpful. He probably thought he was dealing with a young woman who had a couple of screws loose. After all, what better place, in a twisted sort of way, to search for Rudolph than a Christmas tree lot.

That day Rudolph became Rudy. He adjusted. He was also grounded from riding in the car until our Easter vacation home to Arkansas.

Friday, July 28, 2006


This morning when I woke up
sunshine touched my feet
guided me across the dirty floor
to a chair where
a pair of faded jeans lay crumpled
like an old man
waiting to be noticed.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

There's No Place Like Home

This is the road that leads to my home. For approximately one half mile, stately trees line both sides of the road. Their limbs stretch over the country lane forming a canopy. At the end of the leafy tunnel lies the bridge. Another half mile beyond the river is my home.

I love driving and walking on this stretch of country road. I love how the trees change with the seasons. Autumn winds send leaves of all colors scurrying across the road. Squirrels scamper to and fro making last minute additions to their hoard of food for the winter. Eventually the leaves are gone. The canopy is a profusion of bare limbs sometimes dusted with snow. The winter moon gleams through the skeletal trees. Spring brings green. A banquet of varying shades as new leaves burst from the buds. Birds sing as they busily search for nest materials. The canopy is at its peak as summer arrives. Sunlight dapples the road. The leaves rustle and whisper in warm summer breezes.

There are many beautiful places in this world that we live in. I have lived in four different states and have traveled in many more. And I have a long list of places I still want to see. But no matter where I go and no matter what I see, this road will always be one of the most beautiful sights of all. When I look down this road under the canopy of trees, I know I am one mile from my home. And, we all should agree, there truly is no place like home.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Black-eyed Susan rudbeckia species

These lovely "ladies" produce masses of blooms from midsummer till frost. The plants are rugged and easy to grow. They make excellent cut flowers for bouquets and also dry easily while retaining their bright color. They like full sun and will tolerate almost any soil type. I love combining them with purple coneflowers and red bee balm (monarda).

"Forget what you've heard about green thumbs: A gardener's greatest asset is a fertile imagination. How else could we envision Eden in a single seed or Paradise in a clay pot?" Author unknown, but greatly appreciated

Sunday, July 23, 2006

The Dance

She ran through the wet grass
to the sound of
a disco beat
the drum pulse pulled her
heart strings and
she began to dance.

copyright 1977

I actually wrote this poem as a senior in high school. I entered it in a collegiate level poetry competition my freshman year in college and won. It was published in an anthology along with other first place entries from across the United States.

Thursday, July 20, 2006


    This is a wonderful book. I think just about anyone would enjoy reading it, but it is a must read for music teachers. I have been fortunate enough to attend John Jacobson's clinics in Grapevine, Texas, for the last three years. They are terrific.

    John Jacobson is a teacher, author, composer, choreographer and motivational speaker. He is the founder and volunteer president of America Sings! Inc., a non-profit organization that encourages young people to use their time and talent for community service. John's energy is boundless. He has taught music and dance all over the world. He has climbed to the top of Mount Kilimanjaro, performed with America Sings! at presidential inaugurations and was at the Berlin Wall in 1989. John's stories and humor will make you laugh and cry all at the same time.

    Here are some of my favorite quotes from "A Place In The Choir":

    "What we learn through music we don't forget."

    "In music everybody can find a home."

    "You cannot hear the sound of children singing and fail to think that this is a world worth preserving."

    "Music is not an 'extra.' Music is THE difference."

    "What I did know was that young people and music is a combination that can truly change the world."

    "It is here that my notion was affirmed that everybody on Earth has a song inside of them, and every song is as legitimate as the next."

    And, finally, my favorite....."There is no better way to spend your life than as a music teacher."

    Amen, John, amen!!!

    What Fresh Hell Is This?

    First, "What Fresh Hell Is This?" is a quote attributed to Dorothy Parker. She supposedly said the phrase when a ringing phone interrupted her literary thoughts. She liked the phrase so much that she began to answer her phone in that fashion. Great story, but it has nothing to do with my "fresh hell". I just love the quote.

    Years ago my sister was married in a perfectly beautiful ceremony. She married her sweetheart in the town where they both attended college. This meant that her family had to commute to the wedding location. For some reason that I no longer recall, my sister ordered her flowers (yellow roses) from a florist in our hometown. The roses traveled with my parents, my brother and myself to the duplex where my sister and her husband-to-be would reside after their honeymoon. Immediately upon inspection of the flowers, my sister began to wail. Some of the roses already had brown edges. Who cares that one had to use a magnifying glass in order to see the brown edges, it was my sister's wedding and she wanted everything to be perfect. We calmed the bride-to-be down and set about accomplishing all that needed to be done before the wedding that evening.

    Mom, sister and I were to head to the church to arrange the flowers and perform other decorating chores. We walked out on the duplex porch and I, the wedding soloist and maid of honor, misjudged the distance from porch to ground. I fell. Hard. And twisted my ankle so badly that I couldn't put any weight on it at all. I was half carried, half shoved back into the house by my entire family and placed on the sofa. An ice bag was hastily assembled and I was forced to elevate the quickly swelling and blueish ankle on four or five pillows. My sister tried hard not to cry as my mother murmured prayers that I would be able to stand, much less walk, by the time the wedding was to begin.

    Time passed. Chores were accomplished. It was time to head to the church. I was able to stand, walk and, thank goodness, wear the white shoes specifically purchased for the wedding. ( Myself and the two bridesmaids were wearing emerald green dresses with white shoes. ) I got out of the car and was walking into the church when the heel on one of my shoes broke. It wasn't a nice heel-disconnected-from-shoe break that could be repaired with super glue, a hot glue gun or a nail. It was a three-inch heel broke in half break. Luckily, we were running ahead of schedule so my brother drove back to the duplex to retrieve a pair of black pumps I had for some reason packed in my overnight bag.

    We were all spiffied up. Everyone looked beautiful and handsome. Grandparents and mothers were seated. I sang "The Wedding Song". Perfection. The bride entered. Vows were spoken. Prayers were prayed. Now the bride and groom stared lovingly into each other's eyes as the sister of the bride ( me ) began to sing "Love Me Tender". If only I had kept my eyes closed or stared at the back wall of the church. But, no, I had to look at my baby sister and......I began to cry. It wasn't a nice lady-like misting of the eyes, it was crying. I don't why I didn't just give up. I sobbed and blubbered through three verses of "Love Me Tender". It must have been horrible to have stand and look into her beloved's eyes with all the caterwauling that was issuing from my throat, but my sister did it.

    Finally the reception was over. The newlyweds were on their way to Orlando. The church was cleaned. The brown-edged roses were disposed of. The guests had departed. Mom, Dad, my brother and I discovered that we were starving. We decided to pick up some food before we headed back to the duplex where we would spend the night. My brother motored us to the drive-thru of a fast-food joint. Technology was primitive at this point in time. The drive-thru had one of those hose things that rang a bell inside when the vehicle ran over it. My brother stopped the car before running over the hose thing so we could study the menu. An overly exuberant employee's voice came over the speaker as we were deciding what to order.

    "May I help you?" she asked in a perky voice.

    "We haven't even run over the ding-a-ling yet!" my brother exclaimed.

    That was it. Four weary, emotionally drained, hungry people lost their composure. Somehow we managed to order food and drive to my sister's new home while laughing hysterically. No more "fresh hell" for us. The day was over.

    Tuesday, July 18, 2006

    Parental Pride

    I always wanted to have children, but I found out long ago that becoming a mother was an unlikely event for me. So I became a teacher instead. Fifteen years and hundreds of children later, I feel that I have experienced some degree of motherhood and I am content.

    I have always had animals as a part of my family and, needless to say, I become quite attached to them. Case in point: Jasper. I love my other dog, Cherokee, and my cat, Africa, but Jasper is my baby.

    I recently had to make arrangements for Jasper to stay at the kennel while I spent four days in the Dallas area. My mom takes care of my other animals, but she and I both prefer that Jasper stay at the "doggie motel". So I stop by the kennel to make sure they have room for Jasper and the lady behind the counter says, "Oh, of course we have room for Jasper. He is the sweetest little dog. And so well-behaved. You've done such a good job training him." As I walked out the door, I found myself beaming with pride. My dog is sweet and well-behaved! I've done a good job!! I wanted a bumper sticker that says "My dog is an honor student at Dogwood Kennels". I wanted a report card. Jasper might very well become the valedictorian of his doggie class. And I am a good doggie parent! ( Disnementia.....I'm telling you....I have it bad.)

    As if the reservation clerk accolades were not enough, when I picked Jasper up on Sunday another woman was behind the counter. "You're here to pick Jasper up? He is such a beautiful little dog. He has perfect markings. Have you ever considered showing him?" I was struck speechless ( which is amazing for me ) with rapturous pride. What an animal I have raised. Jasper a potential winner of the Westminster show. Forget bumper stickers. Now I have visions of gold cups, blue ribbons, best of breed, best in show......Mr. Doggie America!!!

    Then Jasper came running around the end of the counter, tail wagging and a big doggie smile on his face. Suddenly, he stopped, sniffed the edge of the counter and hefted his leg. Oh well, I guess even superstars have to pee.


    Monday, July 17, 2006


    I was watering and weeding in the garden several days ago when a Chickadee flew to a limb near where I was working. Mr. Chickadee chirped and chattered as he watched me work and I finally realized he wanted me to put some fresh, cool water in the bird bath for him to enjoy. I took care of the bird bath and, sure enough, the Chickadee flew down, took a few sips of water then proceeded to take a nice cool bath. After a few minutes of splashing, he flew back to the limb, chattered his thanks and went on his way. This seemingly innocent incident reminded me once again that I have a severe case of "disnementia".

    "Disnementia" describes the belief that movies in which animals have human characteristics are real rather than fantasy. "Disnementia" is usually caused by parents (mine) who take their children (me) to see every Disney movie ever made. The condition is made more severe when children ( and adults ) have very creative and active imaginations.

    "Disnementia" can produce terrible feelings of guilt and angst. That little mouse that I don't really want in my kitchen could be Jacques or Gus Gus. The ham in my sandwich ( gasp ) could have originally been Babe's relative. Ants, cute little bugs, lobsters, fish, cows, chickens, ducks......the list is endless and I don't even want to talk about what happens during deer season.

    At one point in my life, I thought I could alleviate some of the guilt by becoming a vegetarian. And then.....I watched my first Veggie Tales video.

    Saturday, July 15, 2006

    Consider The Lilies

    "Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them....And can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your span of life? .....Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you that, even Solomon in all his glory was not clothed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you?....But strive first for the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well." Matthew 6:25-33

    Tuesday, July 11, 2006


    One evening in March we sat on the sofa in my livingroom and made plans for a vacation together in June. We ate popcorn and watched the musical Cats on video. The next day he told me our relationship was over.

    "What?! Why?"

    "I just can't do this anymore."

    "Last night we made vacation plans, you kissed me goodnight and told me you loved me and today you can't do it anymore? What are you talking about?"

    "I don't love you anymore."

    "So overnight you suddenly don't love me?"

    "I lied last night. I haven't loved you since January."

    "Since January?!!! You've lied to me for three months?"

    At the time, this conversation just broadsided me. I couldn't believe what I was hearing. I had been engaged to this man for 8 months. We had discussed where we wanted to live, changing jobs, wedding locations, all types of things and I didn't have a clue. Not a clue.

    I still cringe when I think of how emotionally distraught I became. I felt consumed by dark clouds of despair. I couldn't eat, I couldn't stop thinking about being lied to for three months. There were days that I couldn't function; when I called in sick to work so I could stay home and cry. I called the man and begged, begged for an explanation. I had to understand why. I felt like a foundation had been knocked out from under me. I was 40-something years old and had been married and divorced twice, but this dissolution of a relationship made me feel as though I were a teenager having my heart broken for the first time.

    Much later, I found out that this man had met another woman in January. I still don't know why it took three months for him to dump me. Why such a complex and drawn out betrayal took place I will probably never know. Cowardice and weakness had to be part of the equation. Eventually I was able to identify fault lines in our relationship that led to the earthquake of emotional turmoil that I found myself in. And I healed.

    There isn't always a satisfactory explanation for human behavior. Lasting relationships involve huge amounts of work. I don't know any other way to put it. You have to be committed to each other and to the relationship. Positive changes grew from my experience and for that I am thankful. A new job, new friends, a stronger sense of self-worth, the support and love of old friends.....


    whatever seed
    you planted
    has grown,
    someone will pull up
    the dead stalk.
    someone else will
    replant the seed.

    Used Shoes

    I first learned to ride when I was six. My horse was a Quarter horse named Champ. He was the color of a shiny, new copper penny. Champ and I went on trail rides, appeared in local parades and once participated in the opening ceremonies of a rodeo. For the most part, Champ and I traveled around the rural area where I grew up. My friends and I rode all over the place. We rode because it was fun.

    All good things come to an end. I left Champ behind when I went to college. I rode occasionally when I came home, but, for the most part, Champ was retired.

    Fourteen years later, I moved home to Arkansas. Champ had long passed on to heavenly pastures. After years of living in either dorms or apartments, I had three goals: 1. buy a house with some land; 2. buy a horse; 3. buy a piano.

    The horse I purchased was an Arabian. He was older ( because I was older!), but he still loved to run. His name was Jhakkar. view here He held his head high and ran with a high-flung tail. Being on his back was like riding the wind. It was exhilarating!!!

    Jhakkar was white and his coat glistened in the moonlight. Watching him move around the pasture after dark was like watching a ghostly apparition floating in and out of view.

    Jhakkar has since joined Champ up in those heavenly pastures. I don't know if I will get another horse, but I will always remember the great rides I had with Champ and Jhakkar.

    Friday, July 07, 2006

    i will follow you

    i will follow you
    through the delicate
    colors of spring
    i will pick you flowers

    i will follow you
    through the passioned
    heat of summer
    i will kiss your mouth

    i will follow you
    through the golden
    grandeur of autumn
    i will hold your hand

    i will follow you
    through the bitter
    cold of winter
    i will warm you

    if ever you become
    tired or full
    of despair
    i will lead you