Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Happy Leap Day, Judy Anne!

The symbolism escaped my notice until this morning, but today, the 29th of February, is the day my little sister has chosen to take a giant leap into a different lifestyle: she is retiring. She has worked her entire adult life. Now, she'd like to rest for a while.

Today will be a difficult one. She loves her job, her boss, and her co-workers. They've been part of her life for many years, and it makes her sad to know she'll no longer see them every day. But there's a part of her, just like there was a part of me in 2009, that is begging to slow down. A part of her that needs peace and calm more than it needs excitement.

It took me a while to settle into retirement. For several months I felt guilty about staying home, being unproductive, no longer part of the work force that helps to keep the wheels of justice rolling. Those feelings went away as soon as I realized that the "hole" I had left in the office had been filled nicely by the woman who replaced me. I think it was an innate sense of responsibility that had caused me to struggle in those early post-retirement days, and I expect that my sister will experience some of that same second-guessing. She's responsible by nature and very dedicated to her job. She's good at what she does.

That's why I think she'll be good at retirement, too, once she gets used to it. After she discovers the luxury of waking up when she's ready, not when an alarm clock sounds, after she gets plenty of rest, after she experiences the freedom of living in the moment without worrying what she needs to do from one minute to the next, I believe she's going to relax and enjoy the fruits of all those years she worked.

I'm happy for you, Sis. Welcome to my world. Hang on and enjoy the ride.

What I'm Reading Today: Sing You Home

Jodi Picoult is an excellent writer whose books always give the reader a lot to think about. This one is no exception. One thing that's unique about this book is the music CD that's tucked into the back of it. The main character is a music therapist, and Picoult wrote songs to reflect what was happening at various points in the novel. Interesting concept, huh?

Click on the image above for a
description and reviews of this book.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Sepia Saturday: Shoes or No Shoes

When I read that the inspiration for this week's Sepia Saturday post is SHOES, I knew it was time to repost one of my favorite pictures. It's a photo of Ruth and Loren Elliott, my great-aunt and -uncle, from about 1911 or '12.

I love this photo. I'd like to believe Uncle Loren actually owned a pair of shoes, but if that's true, wouldn't his mother have insisted he wear them on this occasion?

While I was searching my files for this image, I came across others of cute kids wearing old-style shoes. I had planned to upload them and make children's shoes the focus of this post, but that all changed after I went looking on YouTube for a shoe-related Saturday Song Selection (one less obvious than "Blue Suede Shoes" or "These Boots Are Made for Walking"). The following video made me think about the fact that there are large segments of the world's population for whom the wearing of shoes is not optional:

I don't remember ever hearing about the 2011 event that was the subject of this video. Although I missed the day, the mission is an ongoing one, and it certainly has my attention now.

The song is "One Day" by Matisyahu.
(Click here to read the lyrics.) 
Thanks to tomsshoes for posting this video on YouTube -- and for showing us another way we can help to change the world.

Click the image below
 to see a list of other bloggers who have posted
shoe-related photos this week:

What I'm Reading Today: The Sweet By and By

Bedtime reading a few hours ago took me only a couple of chapters in, but I already know I like the richness of the characters and the well-written dialect of this book. It always surprises me when men write women this well.

Click on the image above for
a description and reviews of this book.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Warning: Don't take a potty break...

...when something's about to get you.

After a couple days of shirtsleeve weather, the temperature is dropping fast today. The patter of rain on the window woke me up this morning, and gusty winds nearly tore the door out of my hand when I opened it to let Levi outside. I hoped he could take care of business and get back in the house before the rain got heavier.

Instead, as he began his usual beeline into the farther reaches of the yard, something caught his eye and brought him to a halt right at the edge of the patio. He whirled around and looked at me, his eyes big with worry or fear, head ducked, shoulders hunched. I urged him to go on: "Hurry, Levi! Hurry!" He didn't budge, just paced right there in the same spot.

In the time it took me to zip up my robe so I could step outside, Levi moved. He was now huddled right outside the door, his big, curly body scrunched up in a posture that seemed designed to make himself look as small as possible. I didn't know what was out there, but it had to be something scary.

A few short steps across the patio took me to the end of the privacy fence, and from that vantage point I could see the chain-link fence that abuts it. There, pinned by the wind to the other side of the gate, its body mashed flat and its "wings" spread to their full span, was a white-plastic Walmart bag.

My 85-pound baby watched from behind me as I grabbed the bag with two fingers, pulled it through the fence, and wadded it up into a small ball. Then he ventured close enough to sniff it, threw his head back and visibly relaxed, and ran on out into the yard.

It felt good to be able to set Levi's world back on its axis so easily. Made me want to put on a cape and see who else's problems I could solve with my magical powers today.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Pit Stop

Coming in for a landing:

Taking a rest break:

And back on their way:

What I'm Reading Today: Sarah's Key

UPDATE - 2/24/12:
I just finished reading this book and had to come back here to tell you it is wonderful! I think almost anyone would find it a good read, but I'd call it a must-read for the genealogists among you. If you've ever known the thrill of finally putting together the pieces of someone's story, after hours and hours of gathering tiny scraps of information from many different sources, you will love this book. I stand firmly by the single sentence of my original post.

I think this one is going to stick with me for some time to come:

Click the image above for a
description and reviews of this book.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Stop the reposting madness!

If you're on facebook, you've probably already encountered some of the "reposting bullies" who write a sentimental tribute to some group of people, a tribute that only an ogre could find objectionable, and then, in the last sentence, imply that your failure to repost it signifies disagreement. It's that last sentence that drives me NUTS!

Tonight I've written my own message to those bullies, and I'll post it on facebook right after I publish it here. You guys are my friends, so I'm bringing it to you first. You know I like you, right?

 Okay, let’s get something straight: I love my children and my children’s children. I love my siblings. I loved my mother and my father when they were alive and I continue to honor their memory. I love my friends. I love God as I perceive Him to be. I love America and the men and women in uniform who fight to keep us safe. I love dogs, and, if I knew any cats, I’d probably love them, too. If anyone asks me whether or not I love some person, place, or thing mentioned above, my answer is, “Hell, yes!” If anyone challenges me to prove my love for someone or something by copying and reposting a facebook status, I will NOT do it. I will not even bother to type out a response that says what I’m really thinking: “Who does this silly shit? Grow up!” The people I love already know that I love them, and they know that my unwillingness to copy and repost someone else’s words on the subject means only that I cannot be led like some kind of stupid Internet sheep. If asked to repost something that will help find a missing child, spread the word about a harmful product recall, or (if I ever move to a third-world country) announce the location of a freedom rally to overthrow a dictator, I might consider it. Otherwise? Not a chance. If you like this post, copy this as your status. I’ll be watching to see who can’t be pushed around by their facebook friends.

What I'm Reading Today: 77 Shadow Street

This post will be short: I have to hurry to the library and get something else to read. I'm about sixty pages into this one and can't wait to put it down and walk away.

Click on the image for a
description and reviews of this book.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Sepia Saturday: Packy May Have Been Kidding about Rita Hayworth

The photo that is the prompt for this week's Sepia Saturday challenge features a handsome man who is sitting in a chair and pointing a finger. That man happened to be an actor, and the theme for this week's post is FILM. As I looked through my image archives, I first thought I wouldn't be able to participate this week, but soon, by stretching the theme of the photo prompt as far as I possibly could, I made a couple of tenuous connections.

First, I came across a photo of my own in which a man was sitting in a chair. This was my grandfather, Lewis (known to all his grandchildren as Packy), whistling as he bounced my little sister and our cousin on his knee about 1950:

As for the "film" connection, I remember at least two occasions when Packy told us with a straight face that he used to pull Rita Hayworth in her little red wagon. I've spent a ridiculous amount of time researching online, trying to prove his story by putting them in the same place at the same time,  but haven't been able to do so. It's a shame, really. I think Rita would have  liked Packy.

And then I found a photo of a man who was pointing.  Pointing guns, actually. The man in the photo below was my children's paternal grandfather, Charles. This photo was taken in 1920 when he had just turned 21 years old and was working in North Africa. After  studying his pose in this photo, I can make still another film connection: I think he may have seen too many movies.

Another photo of Charles, this one from about 1933, shows his undeniable, film-star good looks.

As is customary here, I am also posting a Saturday song selection. This time I've chosen a movie theme, and, in honor of Charles, it's from a classic gunfighter movie.  Coincidentally, it is rumored that the star of this movie, Gary Cooper, may also have a connection to our family. I haven't been able to prove that one, either.


The song is "High Noon" as sung by Frankie Laine.
Thanks to RikkyHeeHa for posting this video on YouTube.
(Click here to read the lyrics.) 

To see other people's photos and posts related to this week's theme, click the image below and visit the participants listed on the Sepia Saturday site.

Friday, February 17, 2012

What I'm Reading Today: Chasing the Dime

I've read just enough of this book to tell you that the main character is a genius who sets out on an incredibly stupid course of action. I hope the rest of the story will help me understand why.

Click on the image for a
description and reviews of this book.

Buh-bye, word verification!

Blogger has now made word verification for comments so complicated that I can no longer justify asking any of you to deal with it:

They have also neglected to provide a way on the new interface to disable that feature, so I'll say a hearty thank you to the techies who told me how to do it here

I know some of you will be happy to be rid of it, and the fact that you're happy makes me happy, too. I'll stay happy as long as Blogger's spam filter does a good job.

Hugs I've Had Lately

Hugs, I've discovered, come in many forms, not just in encircling arms, though those traditional hugs are among the best. A hug can reach you when you don't even see it coming, and only when it has wrapped itself around you do you realize how much you needed it. Let me give you some examples:

Expressions of caring:
Phone calls, cards, messages and blog comments arrive from family, friends and even strangers. They offer support at a difficult time. They offer comfort.

A package in the mail:
A new bathrobe I had ordered arrives in the mail on the day of Butch's death. When I find it and open it, it is warm from the sun that had shone through its dark plastic packaging inside the black mailbox. A warm bathrobe always feels like a hug.

Fresh bedding:
While I am on the telephone at the end of that same day, my daughter hears the dryer buzz. She takes my bedding out of it so it won't wrinkle and goes on to make up my bed. I sleep that night in the caress of thoughtfulness and smooth, clean sheets.

A dog's trust:
Levi is a good watchdog. He's not yet convinced that the neighbors aren't up to no good, and he barks an alert when he hears their cars, their voices, or their footsteps. But when I come home, he's quiet. There is no barking. I know he can hear my car. He can hear me shut the car door, and he can hear the "beep" when I set the car alarm, and yet, when I open the door and come inside, he sits quietly on the sofa, his head tilted slightly to one side, alert and waiting. I am home, and Levi knows I belong there.

I leave the library with a stack of books tucked into the crook of my elbow, and my steps feel lighter than they did before. It's as if a sense of well-being has been handed across the counter with those books.

After days of cold weather, followed by days of rain, the sun breaks through for a short while. I sit outside, my face turned upwards to receive a full allotment of the sun's warm kisses, and listen  to the rustling of tree branches and the trill of a single bird.

Bringing Butchie home:
A call from the vet's office lets me know that Butch's remains have been returned to them by the crematorium. I want to go get him immediately, but the tears begin to flow, and so I wait. I wait several hours, until I'm relatively sure I can remain composed, and then I go. In less than twenty minutes, he is home with me again. His essence lives on in my heart and my memory, but all that's left of his physical self is contained in one small, simple, cherry-wood box, exactly like the one that now holds Kadi. The cycle is complete, and it gives me peace. Butch is home. Nothing else can harm him.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Valentines of Days Gone By

Earlier today Janet posted charming images of valentines she received in first grade, and they brought back all kinds of memories. One of her commenters wrote about the anxiety-filled process of deciding which card to give to which classmate, a dilemma that plagued me every year until I was old enough that it was no longer cool to give out valentines at school.

One of my favorite parts of those early Valentine Days was working with my mother to create a special "valentine box" to take to school. There was always a slot cut into the top to make it function like a mailbox, and most of mine were covered in ruffles of red and white crepe paper, with paper doilies and hearts stuck on the top. That red crepe paper bled like an accident victim when it got a little water on it, which it always seemed to do somehow.

While I was thinking about valentines, I suddenly remembered a little boy I hadn't thought of in decades. He had a crush on my little sister when they were both in first or second grade. His name was Charlie (Charley?) Hart, and he once sent her a love note on which he had carefully printed, "You are my weethart." I thought that was hilarious, and I'm sure I must have called her "weethart" for weeks after that. Do you remember him, Sis?

Love feels sweet and warm on this day or any day, don't you think?

Monday, February 13, 2012

What I'm Reading Today: Sweetwater Creek

Emily, the main character of this book, is a young girl who desperately needs a hug. I know how that feels, and I'm hoping that somewhere in the pages of this beautifully written book, someone will step up and give her what she needs. I'll stay right there with her until that happens.

Click on the image for a 
description and reviews of this book.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Sepia Saturday: Shining a Light on Books

A NOTE TO MY READERS: The following post was written early in the week and scheduled to publish on Saturday. It was written before I knew it would be necessary to euthanize my beloved dog, Butch, which happened on Thursday. In light of that event, the tone of this Sepia Saturday post now seems flippant, inappropriate, or, at the very least, insensitive. Let me assure you that I am not feeling flippant at the moment. Nevertheless, I have decided to let this post publish as scheduled. I was satisfied with it before the loss of Butch, I don't feel like writing something else to replace it, and, as it was written in response to a theme-based challenge, saving it for later won't work. I hope you understand.


As luck would have it, the first two themes of Sepia Saturday after I discovered it were dogs (last week) and books (this week). Dogs and books, two things I love so much that both are mentioned in the "About Me" item in the sidebar of this blog. In fact, I probably have more posts about dogs and books than about any other topics.

This week, however, it didn't take long to determine that none of the oldest photos in my files featured books. The first photo I could find of a person reading anything was a 1949 one of my grandfather, lying on the very couch (with the very doilies) pictured below. Technically, though, Packy was reading a magazine, not a book, while the publication I was reading in the following photo from 1950 was at least called a book--a comic book. I've posted this photo before, along with the one of my grandfather, when I wrote about my earliest reading adventures here.

I do have a number of more recent photos of books, and one thing I noticed is that light, especially light streaming through a window, figures in many of those images. I like thinking about the metaphorical relationship between light and books: the way books shed light on so many different subjects, the way a good book lights a fire inside the reader, and, well, you get where I'm going with that.  If you're only half as corny as I am, I'm sure you can come up with other examples. (And if you're thinking about the Itty Bitty Book Light®, don't even go there).

The next photo looks sort of like sepia but isn't really. These are the colors I got by thinking there was enough natural light in my bedroom that I wouldn't need to use the flash. I was wrong, but I like the image anyway in its shades of beige and brown.

Disappointed at not seeing books in any of my genuine sepia photos, I made the following modern photo of books look sepia by tinting it in Photoshop Elements: 

Now, before you say, "Why, that isn't fair," let me explain my reasoning: The world is full of fakery, and most of the time it doesn't bother us at all. The wood finish on some of my furniture is fake, a partial denture fills out the corners of my smile, and every  sugary-tasting treat that's touched my tongue in the past year has been made with artificial sweetener. Watch any of this season's award shows, with their streams of starlets on the red carpet, and you'll see plenty of fakery pointing right at you. So what's the big deal about a little false sepia?

Never mind. I get your point.  But to add a historical perspective to this post, please know that I got that kind of crooked thinking from my father. Please know, also, that I inherited enough honest genes from other ancestors that I can't perpetuate such a fraud without admitting it. (Although it occurs to me that there was a time when I faked something and didn't confess it, but that was only because I really wanted to go to sleep and I did not want to bruise a certain male ego.)

The next photo is a full-color version of the same corner of my den that's pictured above. Books, in addition to lighting up my life (watch: here comes yet another cliché, right on the heels of that one), add color to my world. I go places, see things, meet people, and have adventures that would never happen any other way than through the pages of books. What a gift they are.

I keep a few special books in the living room in my grandmother's old secretary hutch, pictured below. In there, among other things, are a handwritten volume of my older daughter's poetry, a published volume of poetry that includes one of hers, and a copy of a book she wrote when she lived in New York and writing was her day job.

The boxes of books shown in the collection of thumbnails below are about half of the ones I gave away last summer. I took photos of them with the intention of creating some kind of book database so I wouldn't accidentally order the same titles again, which has happened before on half a dozen occasions. Applying a different definition of "light" keeps the metaphor alive, in that winnowing out enough books to have shelf space for the remaining ones "lightened" my load and left some uncluttered breathing room in my home. And affirmed in my own mind that I really am not hastening down the path to the city of Hoarderville.

So, those are my meager book photo offerings. In thinking about all those books, in realizing that Valentine's Day is right around the corner, and in recognition of the fact that Saturdays here have been traditionally about music, I'll wrap up this post with a video of a song that fits our theme perfectly: Peter Gabriel's version of "The Book of Love." The song is beautiful, but if you don't feel like listening to music, turn off the sound and watch the video anyway. You'll love the photos in it!


Thanks to sakuramlyu777 for posting this video on YouTube.

If you'd like to see what other folks have posted about books, click the image below and check out the list of participants in this week's Sepia Saturday challenge:

Friday, February 10, 2012

Going for the Gusto

I'm recording the following story here both to share it with you and to make sure it's written down so I'll never forget it.

As Kim and I sat with Butch in the vet's office yesterday, knowing those moments with him would be our last, he did one thing so typical of him, one fleeting, triumphant action that made me want to stand up, raise my hands in the air, and sing the theme song from the first "Rocky" movie.

Euthanasia is a two-part process. First, the doctor gives the animal an injection of a sedative meant to calm its fears and put it into a state of semi-consciousness in which it is supposedly able to hear what its family members are saying and feel their love. Later, when the family is ready, the drug that ends life peacefully is administered through an IV apparatus.

Before the first injection was administered, Butch was lying on a soft blanket on the floor. He was on his stomach, propped up on his elbows with his head between his paws. The  doctor gave him the sedative and quickly popped one treat in his mouth and a second one right in front of his nose. He spat out the first one and ignored them both. The doctor left us alone with him to say our goodbyes, telling us she'd check on him again in about five minutes.

Butch's breathing relaxed immediately after receiving that shot, but he didn't lose consciousness right away. As we sat and stroked him, telling him what a good boy he was and how much we loved him--all the things we felt deeply and thought might be reassuring to him--we could tell by the occasional twitch of an ear or a paw that he was still with us. In fact, after nearly five minutes' worth of such twitches, we became concerned that the sedative wasn't going to work. Suddenly, in a motion so quick it startled us, Butch raised his head and stretched his neck, grabbed both treats and gulped them down, then promptly dropped his head and fell over onto his side.

He was out, but by golly he didn't leave anything undone. I loved that big heart of his.

Thursday, February 09, 2012

And God Gets One More Furry Angel

At approximately 8:15 this morning we said goodbye to our beloved Butch. My heart aches to know that I can no longer reach out and touch his soft fur, but I feel a sense of relief that his beautiful spirit has been released from his tired, old body.

Butch's condition deteriorated rapidly in the hours following yesterday's post. By late afternoon he could no longer get up without assistance. When we helped him up, his back legs didn't work properly and sometimes his feet landed on the tops of his paws instead of on the pads. He fell a few times. Last night he could not get comfortable and slept no more than an hour and a half all night long. His breathing was distressed, but he didn't cry, and I am hoping that means he wasn't in a lot of pain.

By dawn today he was disoriented. I've posted before about not wanting to put him through the trauma of a car ride on what might be his last trip to the vet, but this morning we needed to get him there fast. As I sat beside him in the backseat of the car, he did not seem to be stressed, and I can say in all honesty that I don't think he even realized where he was.

For months I have dreaded having to make the decision to end Butch's life. This morning that decision was an easy one. This time, I knew, Butch's brave spirit wasn't going to pull him through.

I know that some of you have grown to love Butch after getting to know him on these pages, so I will offer condolences to you and know that you understand the magnitude of my own loss. Wherever Butch's spirit is as I write these words, I hope he can run fast and see for miles and miles and miles.

Butchifer Patrick
March 19, 1998 - February 9, 2012

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

My Old Man

Butch is sleeping. Finally. He had a hard night last night, waking me up and asking to go outside no fewer than four times between bedtime and dawn. Yes, it was a hard night for me, too.

His legs seem stiffer than usual today, but not as stiff as I've seen them on his worst days. I think the unusually warm temperatures we've had have given him some relief and that his arthritis has flared up because the weather has turned colder in the last day or two. He's been panting all morning, too. I just gave him some food, a small, extra meal he doesn't normally have at this time of the day, and that seems to have done the trick. He has passed out and is breathing quietly now.

The melanoma tumor I can see in the roof of his mouth continues to grow. He has begun to sneeze frequently and to blow air out through his nose as if he's trying to clear it. That makes me think the tumor is enlarging in the other direction, as well, into his sinus area, although he doesn't seem to have any difficulty breathing. (As I said above, I think the panting today was caused by arthritic pain, and he isn't panting while he sleeps.)

Butch's appetite is strong. He gets excited about suppertime and eats his puréed meals and soft treats enthusiastically. He's eating every bit as much as he did before we discovered the tumor. Last night, not long after I had fed him and Levi, I discovered Butch  standing next to the kitchen garbage can, the lid knocked off on the floor beside it. I'd put the carcass of a rotisserie chicken in there earlier. I think his arthritic joints are all that prevented him from standing up tall enough to reach that chicken. Since his time with us is short, I'd like to indulge him with as much food as he seems to want, but I know the extra weight would put strain on those already painful joints.

He is friendly, outgoing, and social, the way he was for most of his life until the dark, whiny  period that started near the end of 2010 and lasted all the way into this past summer. He still asks to go outside multiple times in a row in hopes of scoring a treat each time he comes back in (a reward I should never have started). Sometimes he doesn't even bother with the pretense,  just steps out, turns around, and scratches to come back in. And, sadly, sometimes he waits too long to ask to go outside and doesn't quite make it to the door.

His nap is already over. And he's panting again. I'll go now and offer him long strokes and scritches. He's had all the food and medicine he can have until tonight, and I can't think of anything else to do for him right now but show him I love him.

What I'm Reading Today: Buried Secrets

I simply adore Joseph Finder's books and am so glad to finally have his most recent one in my hands:

Click on the image for a 
description and reviews of this book.

If you like mysteries and haven't discovered this author, give him a try. You won't be disappointed.

Monday, February 06, 2012

"The worms crawl in, the worms crawl out..."

"...the worms play pinochle on your snout."

Remember that old song from your childhood?

Somehow I never imagined myself writing about worms, but heavy rains have washed a few my way recently, and I, camera at the ready, thought to myself, "You never know when you'll need a worm picture." Now that I have three of them, enough to be considered a collection, they have wiggled their way into a blog post.

This first guy (who is probably a caterpillar instead of a worm if you want to get technical about it) had the audacity to march himself across my living room while I watched TV and four dogs dozed nearby. I assume he crawled in under the front door, though I don't presume to know where the heck he thought he was going. I also don't know, despite looking at hundreds of Google images in an attempt to figure it out, what he is or will grow up to be. He was slightly over two inches long. If you know what he is, please tell us.

This one's only offense was breaking and entering.
After he crawled willingly onto the paper towel I placed in his path,
I picked it up by the corners and gently carried him back outside.

It isn't at all unusual to find earthworms on the patio after a hard rain. As much as I used to love fishing, I always felt squeamish about baiting my hook with these wriggly pink things.

Earthworms are creepy, but they remind me of good times
and they're good for the earth, so I always let them be.

On the same day that I shot the earthworm photo, I was horrified to find this next creature on my patio. I'd never seen anything like it. Just as I spotted it turning and twisting its more-than-a-foot-long body on the concrete, Levi stepped on it. He picked up his paw and the thing clung there, holding onto his fur and dancing in the air like some kind of freakishly skinny Cirque du Soleil performer. I grabbed hold of it with my bare hands and tried to pull it off, which wasn't easy to do. That sucker was strong. I thought it would break apart in my hands, but it didn't. It didn't even stop wiggling.

This is how it looked after I'd stomped its a$$
several times with my big, heavy shoes.

Finally, after I had managed to disentangle it from Levi, I learned on the internet that this is a horsehair worm and that it is "harmless to people, pets, and plants" and "should be considered beneficial."

Harmless to people? Hah! It nearly gave me a heart attack.

What I'm Reading Today: Down the Darkest Road

I started reading this book at four o'clock this morning, after Butch asked to go outside and then decided to mosey around the perimeter of the yard for what turned out to be half an hour. He's done that the last four nights, so I knew I might as well get up and make the  sleep interruption as pleasurable as possible.

Click on the image for a 
description and reviews of this book.

I'm not very far into the book yet, but so far, so good.

UPDATED TO ADD:  I just read this snippet of dialogue and had to post it:
"I'll never get the sentencing for attempted murder," Tanner said, shaking her head. "Why should they get off light because they were incompetent? The idea was for the victim to die, right?"
I've voiced that question so many times. (Just goes to show you why I wasn't completely comfortable in my job at the Public Defenders' Office.)

Saturday, February 04, 2012

Sepia Saturday: Old Dogs and Children and...

Yesterday Vicki Lane posted about a wonderful box of family photos and letters that her husband received from his cousin. One of Vicki's commenters, Martin, provided a link to another blog, Sepia Saturday, that I think most of you will enjoy as much as I did. Sepia Saturday sets a different theme each week and challenges readers to post old photos related to that theme. As luck would have it, the theme for this Saturday is DOGS. Now, you know I can't leave that one alone, don't you?
I'll start with the oldest of my old dog photos and apologize for its poor quality. It's actually a photocopy of the original image. The lady at the left of this photo is my great-great-grandmother, Amy Lucinda Smith, née Hagadorn, and the man is her son, Arba. It's my understanding that Amy was a serious participant in séances in her later years and that Arba was at least a little bit dimwitted. Amy passed away at the age of 80 in 1923, so we know this photo is older than that.

Amy and Arba Smith and man's best friend.

There are two spotted pups in the next photo (also scanned from a photocopy). The family group at the right is headed by my paternal grandparents, Erna and Audrey Barclay. The small blond boy with his thumb in his mouth is my dad. The other family is known to me only as "the Pinkertons." I don't know if they were friends, neighbors, or distant relatives, but I know from this picture that I would have liked them.

The Pinkertons, the Barclays, and the pretty, speckled pups.

Next we have my maternal grandparents, Lewis and Lola Saunders, with my mother, her older brother, and someone's dog. I'm guessing this photo was taken about 1928. It's interesting to me that these stern-looking grandparents are the ones I remember as the fun ones, while the other grandparents, shown smiling in the photo above, were stricter. (I thought Grandma Barclay would either have a stroke or kill me one time when I helped myself to a piece of salt pork before grace was said.)  

The Saunders family with a dog who may or may not have been theirs
but recognized a photo-op when it saw one.

I love the photo below of my mother's first cousins, the Gaylor kids, sitting on a hill with their dog. This photo probably dates back to the early 1930s. The boy on the right was written up in the local newspaper a few years later in an article that begins as follows: "With his 2-ton Flying Fortress so badly damaged by anti-aircraft fire that it could not reach a speed equal to that of a fast automobile, Second Lt. William R. Gaylor, 19, Springfield bombadier, rode his bomber back to a night-time landing in England after an Eighth AAF daylight attack on oil refineries at Merseburg, Germany." Quite a change from this peaceful scene, don't you think?

Bob, Pat and Bill Gaylor with faithful companion.

The girl snuggling the terrier in the photo below is my mother. She was probably about 10 or 12 in this picture, which would date it in the early-to-mid '30s. I never thought about it until this very minute, but there weren't very many years in my mother's life when she didn't have a dog. Maybe that's where I get it.

Wanda and the furry object of her affection.

My plan was to end this post after the preceding pre-1940 pictures, but then I came across a "recent" one (from 1957) and couldn't resist adding it to the mix. In the summer of that year my family traveled from our home in Missouri to visit with Mother's older brother's family in East Texas. The photo below shows my sister and me (I'm the one in the doorway) with our boy cousins. Does it strike you as odd (and more than a little creepy) that three of the five of us are scratching our heads? What the heck? Other photos from that trip show us all at the beach, so I'm choosing to think that our heads were itching from sunburns. Yeah, that's it, sunburns.

Saunders boys, Barclay girls, and, yes, a dog.

After all that, I'm reminded that the theme for this post is supposed to be dogs. Regrettably, I can't tell you a darn thing about any of these dogs. I wish I could. Maybe, if you check out the Sepia Saturday site, you'll find it will lead you to some blogs that feature dogs the writers knew well enough to tell stories about. Click the image below to go there:


Usually, if I post on a Saturday, I post a music video. I 'd planned not to do that this time, but then I remembered the perfect song to go along with these photos: Tom T. Hall's "Old Dogs and Children and Watermelon Wine." (I can personally testify as to the blessings of old dogs and children, but I don't know nothin' 'bout no watermelon wine.) Enjoy!

Thanks to consman22 for posting this video on YouTube.
Lyrics are posted here.

Friday, February 03, 2012

What I'm Reading Today: Unbroken

This book by Lauren Hillenbrand is a non-fictional account of the life of Louis Zamperini, an Olympics-class athlete and World War II prisoner of war.

Click on the image for a 

description and reviews of this book.

It's well written and well worth a read; however, if you're looking for a page-turner, this isn't it. There's just too much information to absorb without taking a break now and then to think about it.

Thursday, February 02, 2012

Why don't you come on up and see me sometime?

Somewhere along the way, photography (including photo editing) has become my favorite hobby, edging out reading by the slightest of margins and writing by a bit more. Nothing else even comes close. Even when I haven't found time to post a new entry here, there'll be a fresh new image on my photo blog every single day. I simply love playing with all those little digital snippets of my life.

I started that blog exactly four months ago, October 2, 2011, with this picture of a played-out Levi:

Let me tell you it's been lonely over there. My stat-counter shows that the photo blog gets roughly, oh, one or two hits a day. Not exactly setting the world on fire, huh?

Now, I know the blogosphere is full of photographers whose skills and images far surpass mine, but mine are better than they used to be, and they're improving over time. And if you've come to know me through my words, you'll know me even better after seeing the images that have moved me enough to record them. I don't do much writing there, but if you have a question about a particular photo, I'll be glad to answer it in the "comments" section. can I get you to take a look? I've fixed the tab at the top of this blog so you can get to the photo blog with one click instead of two, and I've added a clickable icon on the sidebar, hoping it will catch your eye. May I offer you a cup of coffee or a glass of wine? Some hors d'oeuvres perhaps?

Please stop by now and then to support my latest obsession.