Sunday, May 31, 2009

School's Out...but Not Quite Over!

This is my number one vacation spot during the summer: my home. When school is in session, I drive 40 miles one way into the Eastern Standard Time zone, over the Chattahoochee River, and into west Georgia to get to my school.
The most interesting exterior feature is the granite rock work on the front of the house. It was shipped in from near Warm Springs, Georgia in the late 1930's. It is the only house in the neighborhood which has not had a major addition or remodeling. The other 18 homes are painted brick or red brick.

The most interesting interior feature? Hummm.....I once had a knock on my door one 23rd of December ... someone looking for work. She said she used to work in some houses on the street. Did I need any help? Boy did I ever! Upon first entering my keeping room, Lola declared,"Umphhh.....this house has ghosts.....but they are all GOOD ghosts. I can stay and help you." Indeed the house is seventy years old, so it has seen a few generations. It does have a granite fireplace and many quaint nooks and built-in shelves and corner cupboards.

This summer we will celebrate our 30th summer in Graystone Cottage. Once upon a time, summer was nearly 12 weeks long for most teachers, and even longer for students. Now it is barely 10 weeks, and a teacher may be obliged to attend classes at a university or a regional program to acquire professional learning units to maintain his or her teaching certificate. My school system offers some innovative programs which will help teachers use local resources such as county archives and museums. My first official day off was Thursday, May 28th. I celebrated by lounging around the house and drinking cups of tea, and reading and catching up on blogs I love and have missed! Tomorrow, I will begin a three day course in the west Georgia city where I teach: Heritage Education Workshop "These Walls Can Talk." My homework assignment for the first meeting is to share a photograph of my home or apartment and tell about its most interesting feature. Were I resident of Troup County, I could have chosen the topic of "What Troup County House Would I Most Like to Live In." I don't know enough about the homes to go with that one, but maybe after the three days of touring, I will have a favorite. I thought I might try this as a post to get me back on track for the summer. This way something I loathe (homework) becomes something I truly enjoy: creating a new post to share.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

A Wedding Anniversary

Mountain Laurel on the bank
"If you came this way,
Taking the route you would be likely to take
From the place you would be likely to come from,
If you came this way in may time, you would find the hedges
White again, in May with voluptuary sweetness."

This Sunday the Colonel and I will celebrate our 40th wedding anniversary. Yes, it was 1969;
he had just finished the US Army rotary wing flight school a few weeks before. We had been engaged for 5 months, and there was really no one to plan a wedding for us but ourselves. So, we did. Well, he did. He suggested the church camp he had attended in northwest Alabama. I wore the white dress I had made for graduation, and my First Lieutenant wore his dress blues. Our two best friends stood with us, D.S. Pearson and his wife. The Rev. Epps and his wife did all the rest. This is the chapel where we married. It was open air at the time with no glass. Though it was a simple building, and the service was read exactly from the 1928 Book of Common Prayer,
late on a May afternoon, it was quite grand to us.

"You are here to kneel,

Where prayer has been valid. And prayer is more

Than an order of words, the conscious occupation

Of the praying mind, or the sound of the voice praying."

We felt just as these two may have felt because we also had reason to be fearful for our future. The four people there with us knew and did all in their power to make this our very special day.
Mrs. Epps picked a glorious bouquet of mountain laurel from the steep bank leading down to Clear Creek behind the chapel. I carried it as if it had cost thousands. We had really beautiful gold rings etched with roses enhanced with black carbonising to make the images stand out. Our best man and maid of honor wore their Sunday clothes and their love for us.

Epps Hall as it is called today served as a reception hall where Mrs. Epps served us pound cake and Coca Cola. After we helped her put things away, we changed clothes, and went canoeing on Clear Creek for about an hour. Then we drove back to the city. We weren't too keen on a honeymoon because we mostly wanted to be with family.

So we said goodbye to what would become a very important and even sacred place in our lives.

Both our sons attended church camp here.

On Tuesday the 27th, I graduated from high school. My mother and ailing father, and my husband were in the audience. I am ashamed to admit that I cannot remember if either older sister was there. Afterward, I remember turning in my gown folded neatly in a box, and having a big cry as I said goodbye to classmates - many of whom I had known since the first grade.
We spent the rest of the week staying alternately at our parents' homes.

On the following Saturday, June 1st, our two best friends, my husband's mother and father, my husband and I, drove together to the airport. I vowed I would be brave and not embarrass my soldier. I was ... briefly ... until that plane took off to the other side of the world. I am forever grateful to the four people who peeled me away from the huge window looking on to the runway and upheld me through the longest year


excerpts from T. S. Eliot's THE FOUR QUARTETS: Little Gidding

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Wednesday Poem: A Spark Divine

One of my favorite Christmas presents last December was a collection of poems on the creatures I most cherish in this world -- dogs, of course. THE DOG IN BRITISH POETRY edited by R. Maynard Leonard was originally published in 1893. It features two hundred poems. I have been very blessed to share my time on this earth with some very memorable and loving dogs, but one was outstanding in her beauty, manner, and sheer devotion to our family. I will save the story of how she came to us for another day, but for my first offering of a Wednesday Poem, I came across the perfect tribute to our Chelsea.....aka Chelsea Pudding....aka Pudds.....and......well.....Damn!......I still miss her so much. This poem is from the chapter titled "Elegiac Poems."
I have color photos of her rich liver and white coat, but I call this her Walt Disney pose. My older son made this picture when he was taking a photography course. Look closely, and you can see the tip of her tongue. (Click on photo to enlarge.)


Not hopeless, round this calm sepulchral spot,

A wreath presaging life we twine;

If God be love, what sleeps below was not

Without a spark divine.

by Sir Francis Hastings Doyle

Monday, May 11, 2009

Becoming REAL: Why I Feel Like the Skin Horse

"It's a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real."
Five Random Facts on Being a Mother
1. My first son was born while his father was flying missions in Vietnam,
and nearly twelve years later my second son came along and joined us...
so I have really had two distinct motherhoods!
2. I loved having a teen and a toddler...sort of like two only children... big brother loved dragging out all his classic Fisher-Price toys and Dr. Seuss books.
3. As I look through old photos, I recall the sweetest sound:
I can almost hear tiny feet thumping down the stairs in fleece sleepers
making a beeline to me for that good morning snuggle.
4. The hardest part of being a mother - the part that really HURTS- is knowing when I cannot interfere and that MY child may be hurt or disappointed
or betrayed or disillusioned no matter how much I love him.
5. My greatest joy is in celebrating each son's happiness,
his accomplishments, and his unique gifts to the world.
"Does it hurt?" asked the Rabbit.
"Sometimes," said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful.
"When you are Real, you don't mind being hurt."
"It doesn't happen all at once," said the Skin Horse.
"You become. It takes a long time...
Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in your joints and very shabby. But these things don't matter at all, because once you are Real you can't be ugly, except to people who don't understand."

In the swing of things with Son #2

Outdoors with Son #1

High school senior, Mom, and kindergartner

Son #2 - May Day Program 1987

Even though I look at my younger self in these photos, and ask the inevitable, "How did these boys grow up so quickly as I grew older?" I just smile and remember my many, many, many happy hours, days and years spent with them. I embrace who I am today because of them and will enjoy our years yet to come!

"I suppose you are real?" said the Rabbit. And then he wished he had not said it, for he thought the Skin Horse might be sensitive.
But the Skin Horse only smiled.

from The Velveteen Rabbit
by Margery Williams

This post was inspired by yet another wonderfully rendered
meme posted by Willow of Life at Willow Manor
on May 10, 2009.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

My Neighbor's Garden

My favorite May scent.....Honeysuckle! (Click on photos to enlarge.)

Down the steps to the garden...

English Roses & Boxwood


Oak leaf hydrangea


Gather ye rosebuds....

Perhaps there is a resident named Charlotte here?

It seems the custom in our little Blogdom here is that one should declare a theme day......Hmmmmm?? Well don't hold me to it, but it did occur to me this morning, as I was strolling through my neighbor's Oh-So-English-But-Right-Here-In-Alabama Garden, that if I were to have a theme day it could well be sharing one beautiful lady's one beautiful garden. Here are just a few images I plucked today! I Hope you enjoy them as much as I have! If only I could engineer the technique to have the scent of these roses wafting from your screen...(sigh)

Friday, May 1, 2009

Tra La! It's May! The lusty month of May!

The Fairy Feller's Master Stroke

by Richard Dadd

The Princess Out of School
by Edward Robert Hughes

by Edward Robert Hughes

The Fairy Wood
by Henry Meynell Rheam

Indeed, it is a lusty month! Consider the Maypoles of the Romans and the ancient Druids with their floral vines and colorful ribbons intricately woven around a towering pole. It is a custom that still survives in some communities, or a least I hope it does.

The little country school I attended for grades 1 to 9 always presented a May Day program on a baseball field on the first Thursday evening in May. Each grade level presented a brief program. The first graders had a marching rhythm band every year. The junior high aged classes performed a square dance. Other classes might interpret a popular movie, song, or novel, but the fourth grade was as fixed as the sun in the sky, with the unabashed fertility dance ritually pairing a boy and girl around the Maypole. There were two on the field: one at first base and one at third. (There were only two fourth grade classes consisting of about 28 students each.) Every girl held a gold and each boy a purple shimmering ribbon. Girls wore pale spring colors and boys a white shirt and white pants. It was my favorite. I never wanted to be in the May Queen Court (Each class had a representative...but the Queen was always a 9th grader). Oh how I loved the Maypole. One of the 4th grade teachers, Miss Fitzgerald, a spinster and the most feared teacher in the school had been the guardian of this tradition, and the practice was intense for several weeks before the big event. It was truly the highlight of the night.
As the music was played over the loud speaker, each boy and girl faced one another, and the dance began....skipping and weaving....over and under.... over and under.... over and under.....until the the pole was a brightly woven symbol of spring!

Little did I know what a sordid event it was when I was ten years old! (The Puritans banned these during the Reformation in England...too pagan.) Whew! Later I would come to truly appreciate what it was all about when the movie Camelot was released!

To this day, I spend most of May 1st either humming, singing , or playing "The Lusty Month of May." And as the sun goes down, I will be remembering those magical first Thursday's in May when my older sister Sue and I -thrilled with all the performances - would walk home amid the dreamy, warm night fully redolent with the first opening and abundant blooms of wild honeysuckle woven along the roadside.

About Me

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Recreational scholar, former high school and junior college English teacher. Animal lover (especially horses, dogs, and people), live in the South, sometimes poet and essayist... "Ireland, Scotland, Britain, and Wales...I can hear those ancient voices calling..." Van Morrison from Celtic Heartbeat