Thursday, August 31, 2006


Just enough time for a quick post tonight. I found this quote today and wanted to share it.

"Be mindful of how you approach time. Watching the clock is not the same as watching the sun rise." Sophia Bedford-Pierce

I wish I had a beautiful picture of a sunrise to put with the quote, but I don't have one so you will have to use your imaginations.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Blog Day 2006

I don't anticipate having time to post tomorrow so I am doing my Blog Day thing a bit early. Thanks to Karmyn at Dreaming What Ifs for sharing the Blog Day information.

The official Blog Day 2006 link: Blog Day 2006

Five blogs that I read pretty much every day and have been too lazy to add to my sidebar:

Go Fug Yourself I love this site! Just looking at the pictures makes me feel better about how I dress and about my own sense of style. A thin body and big bucks does not necessarily mean you always look fabulous.

Sometimes A Girl Needs A Blog ElleCharlie is extremely articulate and insightful. Some of her posts make me laugh and some make me cry. I thoroughly enjoy reading what she has to say.

The Big Question Sublime posts a new question every week day and asks for honest answers. Fun to read all the different opinions, likes and dislikes.

Ninja Poodles Belinda is a fellow Arkansan who writes about family issues, child rearing, coupon clipping, current events and a host of other topics. Always a good read.

The Dust Will Wait Pamela is another articulate and insightful writer. She posts lovely pictures and has an awesome water garden in her backyard. A must read!

I have several other blogs on my daily read list, but I am going to stop at five tonight. Someday I will get all my favorites listed in my sidebar. In the meantime, I hope you enjoy checking out the five that I listed.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Spaced Out

I mentioned this in a comment on Dreaming What Ifs, but it is so cute that I want to use it as a post tonight.

I teach third, fourth and fifth grade general music in addition to high school, middle school and elementary choir. I have seven fourth and fifth grade music classes and eight third grade music classes. Once per school year each grade level performs a musical for the rest of the student body and the general public. The third graders have the great honor and responsiblity of putting on the first musical of the year.

Wouldn't you know that I chose "Spaced Out", a musical about the planets, for the third graders to perform this year. It is a very cute show and each planet plus the sun and moon have speaking parts. There is also a song in which each planet does a little rap verse. "For what it's worth (snap, snap), I'm the Earth (snap, snap)!" Catchy, huh? "Pluto's the smallest, Pluto's the smallest, Pluto's the smallest, number nine!" Love that third grade music....

The recent decision to oust Pluto from its planet status has totally upset my third graders. We have had to discuss this horrible event in each of my third grade classes. Their comments and views have been a joy to hear. Yesterday we were reading through the speaking parts and a little hand went up.

"Yes, B.," I acknowledged the hand waver. "What would you like to share?"

"Ms. T.," the sorrowful little voice stated. "This may be Pluto's last speaking part."

Monday, August 28, 2006

True Grit

Remember the movie "True Grit"? For those of you who may not remember, the movie was released in 1969 and featured John Wayne, Kim Darby, Glenn Campbell, Robert Duvall and a host of other actors including Dennis Hopper. The movie was based on a novel by Arkansas author, Charles Portis. The story, in brief, follows young Mattie Ross ( Kim Darby ) in her quest to avenge her father's murder. Her father was murdered by a hired hand/outlaw, Tom Chaney, and Mattie seeks out the meanest US Marshal in the Oklahoma Territory, Rooster Cogburn (John Wayne), to hunt down the murderer. Mattie and Rooster are joined on their quest by Texas Ranger, LaBoeuf (Glenn Campbell). The movie is packed with no good outlaws, lots of action including shoot outs and a tumble into a rattle snake pit, plus some really beautiful scenery. The entire adventure takes place in Arkansas and the Oklahoma Territory yet most of the actual filming took place in Colorado.

Ok, enough background.....I saw "True Grit" and I loved it. Mattie Ross was my hero and I thought Glenn Campbell was just too cute. Tom Chaney was evil incarnate. I used to saddle up my horse, Champ, and ride around our farm pretending I was Mattie Ross riding off to bring Tom Chaney to justice.

At the time I was deeply involved in my "True Grit" dreamworld, my dad had a horned Hereford bull that we named Tom Chaney. Tom Chaney, like his namesake in the movie, had a nasty temper.

(This isn't actually Tom Chaney in the picture, but he looked a lot like this bull except the real Tom Chaney was nearer the size of Paul Bunyan's ox.)

So, one day I had finished my "True Grit" fantasy. I had unsaddled Champ, brushed him down and was meandering the long way around through the pasture toward the house and the homework that awaited me. Suddenly, I became aware of some heavy breathing, snorting sounds and through a little stand of trees I could see Tom Chaney. He was staring right at me and sort of tossing his head around. Did I mention that Tom had horns? Fantasy took a sudden dive and reality put wings on my feet. I began to run. Now I have been known to tell a tall tale or two, but I swear I could feel that bull's hot breath on my heels and his pounding hooves made the earth quake as I ran toward the nearest fence I could see. I was flying. I have never run faster in my life. The fence loomed ahead of me. I gathered all my 12 year old strength and flung myself into the air. My legs didn't clear the top strand of barbed wire, but I managed to land on the far side of the fence in a heap on the ground. The important thing was...I had escaped. I was safe. I picked myself up and turned around fully expecting to see Tom Chaney roaring to a halt as he reached the fence behind me. He was quietly grazing near the little stand of trees.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Very Young Songbird

This is my new profile picture. For those of you who are wondering and even for those who could care less, this is my Grandma T. holding me when I was only a few weeks old. Yes, I was a big baby girl. Notice that my mouth is wide open. The perfect mouth shape for proper singing. I would like to say that I was a child prodigy and that the photographer caught me singing a Mozart aria for my granny, but I am pretty sure I was just doing a big baby yawn. Anyway.....wide open mouth.....singing.....Songbird.....profile picture.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Funny Friday
And An Interesting Job Interview

In my pre-Candyland employment days, I worked in management for a large retail jewelry corporation. I didn't like the job and decided to seek other employment. I read a magazine article about a certain government agency that was actively recruiting female applicants. The thought of working for this agency appealed to my sense of adventure. I also thought the job would be quite glamorous. (In hindsight, I blame my total lack of perspective as far as what the job would entail on watching too many James Bond movies.) I sent a resume with cover letter to the address given in the magazine article. Several weeks later, I received a letter from the agency. I was told to report to a location in northern Virginia for an interview. The letter stated the date and time of the interview, parking instructions and strict admonitions concerning the secrecy of the interview. I was to tell no one where I was going or what I was doing. I followed all the instructions to the letter....well, almost all of the instructions. I simply had to tell my closest friend where I was going and why. The day of the interview arrived. I got up early, dressed in a very appropriate dark blue suit and drove to the interview location. I was greeted by a man (in a dark blue suit) and given a small mountain of paperwork to fill out. An hour later, I was ushered into a cubicle where I answered questions like, "Is there any event or circumstance in your past that a foreign government could use to influence your loyalty to your country?" After approximately 30 minutes of answering what seemed like three questions asked in fifty different ways, I took an IQ test. Then the interview was over. I drove home envisioning a room full of men in dark blue suits wondering how such a naive and idealistic country girl could possibly think she was fit to work for their organization. Imagine my surprise when several weeks later I received another letter with instructions for taking the first in a series of tests required for employment. I took the first test and was scheduled to take another one. In the meantime, headlines and news reports were suddenly focused on this certain government agency. Employees had been killed in suspicious circumstances in a foreign country. This was the "wake up call" that I needed. My sense of adventure and visions of glamor were bludgeoned by the stark face of reality. I submitted my letter of resignation before I was hired.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

A Tale of Two Princesses

Granny and Granpa W. lived in a big white farm house. In the early 60's, the house had plumbing in the kitchen, but no indoor bathroom. Granny and Granpa had an oval, galvanized tin bathtub that they kept on the backporch.

Both grandparents were avid gardeners and the house was surrounded by flowers and shrubs. Granny had a very large flower bed in the front of the house. In the spring, the bed was a kaleidoscope of colorful tulips in all shapes and sizes.

One spring in the early 60's, my cousins were visiting with Granny and Granpa W. G was my "best friend" cousin ( and she still you, G!!) because we were close to the same age and we liked so many of the same things. I also greatly admired G because she had lived in England which was quite impressive to a little girl from Arkansas.

Once upon a time there came a lovely spring day. A gentle, warm breeze whispered through the trees. Bees were buzzing and the flowers were bursting forth in bloom. I was at Granny and Granpa's house playing with G. G and I were feeling quite royal in such a glorious setting so we decided to pretend we were princesses. We designated Granny's backporch as our royal chambers and proceeded to issue orders to G's pesky little brother, BJ, whom we graciously allowed to play with us as long as he understood that he was our servant. I don't remember whose idea it was to take a royal bath in Granny's tin bathtub, but that is what we decided to do. Rather than use water to bathe in like mere commoners, we chose to immerse ourselves in flower petals. Granny's tulip bed provided the most luxurious flowers around so we commanded BJ to bring us petals from that divine source. BJ's sturdy little legs made trip after trip around the house while G and I reclined in opposite ends of the tub. He tossed hundreds of tulip petals on our bare legs. What richness!! What luxury!! We giggled and whispered as little princesses do and tossed handfuls of petals up in the air so that they fell in our hair and made small puddles on the floor of the porch. Eventually, Granny's tulips were stripped bare.

As so often occurs, calamity struck our kingdom. A raging dragon in the form of our Granny invaded the backporch. I will swear to this day that she was breathing fire and smoke billowed around her head. A switch was swinging madly from Granny's hand. The two princesses were none to gently removed from their bath and the switch was applied to their royal backsides. BJ was spared from the plague of punishment because we ordered him to bring us the petals and "we should have known better". In abject misery, G and I were herded around the house to view the destruction of Granny's tulip bed. It was a very sad sight. Tulip stems minus petals simply do not please the eye. Switched backsides were bad enough, but disappointing our Granny was even worse. Our kingdom fell into disarray. We tearfully abdicated our throne.

The End

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Summer at My Way

A collection of antique watering cans on the front porch.

Bee balm in the herb garden.

Purple coneflower in the herb garden.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Heart Burn

i'm not sure
i want you back.
after all
what can i say
to a man
who threw me
out of his life
like so much
leftover spaghetti?
i just sealed
all my feelings
into a genuine
plastic bowl
and i don't want
to serve
them out again
as a lunch
for two.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Musically Speaking

I am borrowing Willowtree's post idea tonight. I am tired (again) after my first full day of school with students, but I can always find some energy to talk about music.

The best live performance I've seen was The Eagles Hell Freezes Over Tour at War Memorial Stadium in Little Rock, Arkansas. Really an awesome concert! They opened with "Hotel California" and closed with "Desperado". In between, they did all of their biggest hits as a group and many of the hits they've recorded as single artists. It was crowded and hot, but the music made up for any discomfort. At a close second, is Chicago at Anaheim Stadium in California in the summer of '76. I was 17 at that concert and I screamed myself hoarse. It was great!!

As far as live performers under the influence of something ......Stevie Nicks with Fleetwood Mac. I don't know if it was alcohol or some other substance, but I was on the front row and Stevie appeared to be in another world. She stumbled around on stage, messed up on her lyrics and actually walked off the stage during several of the songs. Maybe it was all part of the act. In second place is Doug McClure. Remember him? He played Trampas on the TV series The Virginian. I saw him at the Arkansas State Rodeo when I was a youngster. I can't remember if he actually sang or just made an appearance or what. I do clearly remember that he fell off his horse as he made his grand entrance riding around the arena. He also fell up the steps to the stage that had been set up in the middle of the arena. Maybe it was supposed to be a comedy act and I was too young to understand.

I also saw Roy Rogers as a youngster. Roy was my dad's hero and I remember being amazed that I was seeing someone so famous. And his horse, Trigger, which Dad admired almost as much as he did Roy Rogers. I was able to shake Roy's hand at the end of the program.

I would like to see Aerosmith in concert. I love their music! I would also like to see Bette Midler. She seems to be such a neat lady and is so very talented. She also uses her fame and her wealth to accomplish good things in this world and I admire that. My concert "wish list" also includes any of the really great symphony orchestras.....New York Philharmonic, Chicago Symphony, Los Angeles Philharmonic, London Philharmonic. I have all of them on CD, but hearing a live performance would be a dream come true. And speaking of dreams.....I want to attend an opera at the New York Metropolitan and at the Sydney Opera House. Puccini is my absolute favorite composer and seeing a live performance of Tosca, La Boheme or Turandot at the Met or in Sydney would put me on cloud nine. Given the opportunity, I would attend just about any opera at either of those venues.

Last, but not least, I have to mention Harry Chapin. Great music, great live performance. He "wins" the Artist Who Said The F-word More Times In A Two Hour Period Than I Have Ever Heard In My Life award.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Lace Changes

Recently there have been many wedding pictures posted in the blogs that I read. I am so happy for those of you whose marriages have flourished through the years. Mine didn't. Don't feel bad for me though. It ended almost 20 years ago and it was a must end situation. It took quite a few years for me to get over it. Maybe I'll talk about it in a later post. In the meantime, this is supposed to be amusing, so I'll move on....

This is me in my wedding dress in 1982. My mother made the dress for me. The dress took so much work and Mom actually had to make two dresses; an entire dress in lace plus a taffeta dress that was worn underneath the lace. I didn't want to sell the dress or give it away after my divorce because my mom made it. So, after some thought, I decided to make some lace curtains for my dining room.

Sorry the picture is so dark, but you get a halfway decent view of the curtains. It bothered me to undo the work Mom had done. Still, I figured curtains were a nicer way to pay tribute to my mom's handiwork than leaving the dress packed away in a plastic bag. Plus, it really made my friends laugh when they admired my curtains and I told them the story behind the beautiful lace. It made me laugh, too, and it felt good to laugh.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Friday Night.......I'm Tired

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Before And After

In May I posted this picture of my nineteen year old self with an afro. It was the 70's. The hairstyle was popular. I was trying to be cool. Instead, I somewhat resembled Bozo the Clown. This picture does not do justice to the orange hue of my perm damaged hair. About three months after I got the fro, I decided I hated it (thank goodness!). I was a poor college student so rather than have my hair cut and styled by a professional, I let a friend cut all the perm frizz off. It never occurred to me that my hair, minus perm frizz, would be in layers so when my friend finished cutting my hair looked like brown venetian blinds. I was mortified and began to cry. Luckily, my friend kept her wits about her and decided we could get rid of the venetian blind layers by using a razor blade to create a short, spikey style.

This is my after picture. Needless to say, I have never permed my hair again.

I had forgotten that both these pictures were taken with me posed on the side of a mountain. The before picture was taken in Tennessee and the after picture was taken in Arkansas. And I was a college student, at the time, in Louisiana.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

The World's Greatest Compliment

I think it was Mark Twain who said he could live on one compliment for a month. I so totally agree with that statement. I really thrive on praise. Compliments, positive feedback, praise, a pat on the back.....these are the types of incentives that really spur me to perform. Don't get me wrong. I enjoy getting a raise as much as the next person. But, when I think back on all the job evaluations I have been subjected to over the years, what really sticks in my mind is not the dollar amount of the increase I received. I remember the words of praise and the absolute joy I felt from being appreciated. The acknowledgment of my skills, talents, hard work, loyalty and perseverance meant so much to me. I have had my share of insincere flattery, too. That simply doesn't do the trick, but honest and sincere praise makes my heart sing!

I made a major career change in my early 30's. I dropped out of the corporate world and became a teacher. Well, one doesn't actually become a teacher. Teaching is a constantly evolving vocation. I will still be growing, improving and learning in my chosen vocation for as long as I teach. Gone are the days of corporate evaluations and fat raises. What I have now is so much better! My students are my praise. They are the acknowledgment of all that I do. They are the reflection of my skills, talents, hard work, loyalty and perseverance. Their voices uplift me in ways that no amount of money could ever accomplish. I do still appreciate the positive feedback and the pats on the back and the yearly addition to my salary, but "my kids" are really what it's all about.

Now....before I go polish my trophies, I want to share a poem I wrote for my choir kids last spring.

I can't imagine a life without music
It fills my heart and soul.
It's a constant companion, a voice within
when the world seems bitter and cold.
And you, my dear students, are my greatest song
Your lives are a sweet melody.
And no matter how old or how far you've gone
You are still the music inside of me.
Your smiles are the harmony, strong and true
Your voices the notes of my life.
Why seek fame or great wealth when I know what I do
Is perfectly, perfectly right?
And you, my dear students, are my greatest song
Your lives are a sweet melody.
And no matter how old or how far you've gone
You are still the music inside of me.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Back In The Saddle Again

Just a quick post tonight because I have paperwork to complete, lesson plans to write and music to practice. The first day back to work was a good one. Lots of meetings and greetings to people I haven't seen since May. Our students don't come back to school until Monday, August 21, but I did pick up my class rosters. I have 50 students in high school choir and 68 students in middle school choir ( yikes! ). Those two performing groups are my first two class periods of the day. After middle school choir, I drive across town to the upper elementary building where I remain for the rest of my day. I teach 5 classes of elementary music per day with an average of 20 students per class so I see many, many students every day. One wonderful thing about teaching music is that it is just so much fun!! And, I won a door prize at our faculty lunch today. I couldn't believe it! First, Pioneer Woman's photo caption contest and then a door prize. I take this as a good sign that I will have a "winner" of a school year....I know, I know.... I just couldn't help myself!

Monday, August 14, 2006

The Last Day of Summer Vacation

Today was the last day of my summer vacation. I did not spend the day finishing up my summer "to do" list. Instead, I picked some flowers.

I let my cat, Africa, in the house.

I took Cherokee for a walk. ( Jasper went on the walk, too. I just couldn't get a good shot of them together. )

I played with Jasper.

I visited with my 80 year old neighbor. I talked to my mom and my nieces. I filled my bird waterers with fresh water. I cooked a steak on the grill and ate it with garlic bread and a salad. I spent 30 minutes on the phone with my friend Tiggerlane. And, I won Pioneer Woman's photo caption contest. Yipee!! I ended summer vacation a winner!! What a perfect day.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Candyland Security

With all the buzz concerning security in recent days I was reminded of my own adventures in that area. For most of the 80's, I worked in a managerial position for a large specialty retailer. I was responsible for the entire operations of a store with gross annual sales exceeding five million dollars. My store had what we called a mezzanine in one of the storerooms. It was really an attic-type space where we stored off season merchandise and supplies.

One day I was in the mezzanine checking inventory levels of Halloween candy. I found some empty candy bags and a few candy wrappers dispersed among the stored merchandise. My first step was to check my managers' job assignment sheets to see what employees had been assigned to work in the mezzanine area. I also wanted to see if any managers had recently been working up there. My search yielded two possible candy eaters. Of course, I realized it could have been anyone in the store though probably not a customer. But the fact that two people had recently been working in that area gave me two people to start watching for suspicious activity involving candy. That very afternoon while lurking in a storeroom I observed a department head, we'll call him DH, stuffing something inside a bicycle box. As soon as DH left the area, I checked out the box. Voila! An empty candy bag.

Over the next several days I kept a close watch on DH. I continued to find candy wrappers and an occasional empty candy bag concealed in areas where he had been working. He spent 30 minutes in the mezzanine one afternoon supposedly performing a task that should have taken all of 5 minutes. After DH left work that evening, I went upstairs to investigate. I took a flashlight with me so I could thoroughly search every nook and cranny of the mezzanine. I found a nice little hideaway area surrounded by huge boxes of Christmas giftwrap. One side of the area was the cinderblock wall that separated the storeroom from the sales floor. I used the flashlight to look down in the cinderblocks and what I saw was rather surprising. I was expecting to see candy wrappers, but instead I saw ashes caught on spiderwebs in the blocks. Further investigation yielded used pipecleaners that smelled strongly of an illegal substance known for producing the munchies. And I found an entire box of pilfered candy. It was time to call in the Big Dog.

Big Dog was our area head of security. I brought him up to date on all my covert operations. He met me at the store the next morning in the wee hours before the store opened. I showed him all the evidence I had collected, the hideaway area in the mezzanine, the used pipecleaners and the ashes. We installed a video camera in a box of the Christmas giftwrap with a live feed to a monitor and recorder in my office downstairs. I have to tell you....this was so cool! I totally felt like 007 sneaking around with hidden cameras and the like. It was so clandestine.

I came back to the store that same morning at my regular time. A couple of hours later, Big Dog came in and we did a little security tour together then announced that we were going out for lunch. What we really did was sneak back to my office through the side door. We sat in my office in the dark and stared at the monitor. It didn't take long. DH sauntered into view. We watched as he removed a joint from his wallet and lit up. I knew that's what DH had been doing, but it still was such a shock to see him actually smoking a joint on the job in my store!! We also watched as he opened a bag of candy, ate a couple of pieces and put more candy in one of his pockets. Unbelievable!

I left my office to fetch DH. When Big Dog confronted him, DH denied any wrongdoing. We had to show DH the video before he finally confessed to all that he had stolen, eaten and smoked in the store. Big Dog called the cops and DH was escorted from the store. Oh, yeah, I had to fire him before he was arrested.

Candyland was once again secure.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Twelve Vivid Memories of My Life Before I Was Six

1. Watching my mom unpack things and put them in the kitchen cabinets of our new house.

2. Mom crying the day JFK was shot and watching the funeral with Mom on our 19" Zenith black and white TV.

3. Being allowed to pack my Mary Poppins suitcase all by myself for an overnight trip with Dad and Mom to Shreveport, Louisiana.

4. Wondering why Mom and Dad brought a baby brother home from the hospital instead of the pet monkey that I requested.

5. Laying on the livingroom floor with the teenaged daughters of my parents' friends and watching The Beatles on the Ed Sullivan show. I clearly remember thinking that you couldn't even hear the singers because all the dumb girls were screaming so loud.

6. Stripping down to my panties and running around the outside of my Granny W.'s house in the rain.

7. Sitting on Granny W.'s lap while she read me Bible stories.

8. Snow ice cream.

9. My mom laying in bed with me and singing songs before I went to sleep.

10. The murmur of my parents' voices in the kitchen and the smell of coffee when I woke up in the morning.

11. Traveling on a passenger train with my Granny W. to visit my aunt and uncle in Louisiana.

12. Standing on the sidewalk in town and singing a church hymn at the top of my lungs while Mom tried to get me in the car.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Excellent Quote

"Live your life and forget your age."
Norman Vincent Peale

House Hunting

When I moved back to Arkansas sixteen years ago, I knew I would buy a house. I had a list of exactly what I wanted: 1. a house in the country with enough land to support a horse 2. a big kitchen with either an island or a counter where friends could sit and talk while I cooked 3. loads of closet space 4. two bedrooms and two baths 5. a large porch.

After two weeks of camping out in my parents' house, I was ready to start shopping. I contacted an agent, described what I was looking for, gave her my price range and set up a day of house hunting.

The first house the agent took me to was in a neighborhood within the city limits. The property featured a large, chain link fenced backyard that might have supported a horse for a day or two. Medium-sized kitchen, no island, no counter, lots of closet space, three bedrooms, two baths, no porch. Next house.

Smaller, older, still within the city limits, large front yard, small backyard, no fences, two bedrooms, one bath, small kitchen, no island, no counter, few closets, small porch. Next house.

On the fringe of the city limits, definitely a larger lot with lots of pine trees, but not enough land to support a horse or a goat, for that matter. At this point I mentioned to the agent that I really wanted a house in a more rural with a pasture....with grass....for a horse......Next house.

Ok, this house was in the country. It was actually a trailer with a lean-to attachment in an overgrown pasture minus fences. I didn't even check out the interior. Not that I have anything against just wasn't what I wanted, ya know? Next house.

This house was fantastic. I could tell at first glance that it was way out of my price range. Several acres of land, four bedrooms, nice kitchen, small porch....I didn't really check out the closet space. I couldn't afford the house. I knew it and the agent knew it, too. End of day one of house hunting.

I was so disappointed and discouraged by my first experience with a realtor. Fourteen years of living in apartments didn't prepare me for the reality of finding a house that meshed with what I really wanted. My parents took me out to dinner in an effort to pick up my spirits. As we were waiting to be seated, I studied a little bulletin board in the entryway of the restaurant. There it was!! A picture of a house with the words "For Sale" underneath it. A little house surrounded by trees with a huge screened porch all across the front and a wooden fence on 4.5 acres of land. "Mom, Dad, look at this house!" "I know that house," Mom replied, "I just can't remember where it is exactly."

The next day we drove around in my parents' country "neighborhood" and we found the house. My parents even knew who lived in it so we called and the owners invited us over to look at it. We drove across a cattle guard down a meandering drive to the little cabin-like house surrounded by trees and a wooden fence. I was sold. The huge, huge screened porch was the clincher. I didn't even need to see the interior. I wanted this house. So.....I bought it. Small kitchen, no island, no counter, two closets, one bathroom, two small bedrooms.....I love it!!

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Simple Gifts

We had a wonderful thunderstorm in Arkansas late this afternoon. Thunder, lightning, wind whipping the trees and rain....glorious rain. I had almost two inches in my rain gage after the storm.

As sometimes happens in rural areas, the electricity went off mid-storm. I sat inside with the front door open until the lightning settled down then I decided to sit on my screened in porch and enjoy the twenty degree drop in temperature. It was also a perfect time to work on my senior high all region choir audition music for this fall. Armed with Walkman, copies of music, a pencil, a bottle of water and the rehearsal CD's, I sat at the table on my porch and began working on Kpanlongo, a West African folk song. The lyrics are in Phanti, a West African language. (Luckily, we have a written pronunciation guide in the music plus spoken pronunciation help on the rehearsal CD.) I sang through every voice part at least twice before deciding to move on to the next audition piece.

The second song I decided to tackle was Simple Gifts, a beautiful arrangement of the traditional Shaker tune. I worked through the men's parts and the alto part before moving to the soprano. As I began to sing through the familiar melody of the first soprano part, a male Cardinal landed in the cedar tree at the east end of my porch and began to sing along with me. From somewhere near by, a Chickadee joined in and a Wren added his lyrical bird song to our efforts. Wow!! I felt like Cinderella. ( Remember my disnementia....) It was truly an exhilarating experience to have birds join me in song.

I thank God for the simple gifts He gives us. Rain for the dry, thirsty land. Birds with their free and joyful songs. Music that touches our souls. The ability to lift my voice in praise. "Life is full of simple gifts....'Tis a gift to live simply, 'Tis a gift to live free, to find the path on which you ought to be. It's really very simple once you start; just follow the spirit, the spirit in your heart."