Saturday, April 25, 2015

The Week in Words and Pictures 4-19/4-25

Sunday - Rainy, foggy, chilly, which my previous blog was about. Later in the week I clipped some of those 'delicate, star-petaled' plum blossoms so I could smell their 'timeless perfume' for myself.

Monday - 95/100's" of rain over the weekend. Took Maisie and Hamish back to the Library and got Mary Russell & Sherlock Holmes and Inspector Ian Rutledge.
Activated the new card Discover sent to replace the one I had "Because we recently learned your Discover card account information might have been compromised. No Discover card systems were involved in this incident." Hm-m. Wonder if using any card is safe anymore?

 Photo of the tortured Redbud tree I see on the way to the Library. (Orange sign is advertising garden tilling.) Even though much of the tree has died and been cut down, this one old limb survives to put forth its spring finery.

Tuesday - Ian's and Nicholas' birthdays. Nicholas is 13 - a teenager! The oldest grand-nephew of the five I have.
NFM called requesting additional pictures of the mattress and box springs. Tore the bed apart again. 

Sure sign of spring seen at the grocery store:

The garden hoop is up and plants are in. See the hanging baskets of fuchsia in the lower right corner? I had only known them as delicate potted annuals until 1994.

When I went to Ireland and saw them growing as hedges all along the by-ways in the coastal southwest. These are wild flower shrubs there - not delicate at all. I took this picture in County Kerry near Sneem, Ireland.

Wednesday - The 45th anniversary of Earth Day! I planted some radish and spinach seeds as well as potting some herbs in the old mailbox from the farm. I use it for herbs every year.

Oregano and rosemary with room in the right corner for basil - when it is warm enough! Still a chance for frost tonight!
A female Grosbeak at the feeder this morning. I'm still watching for her mate. This is the picture I took of him last year:

Thursday - My first thought was "this should have happened yesterday (Earth Day)" when I saw Mama Goose coaxing this year's babies out of the nest. But Mamas always knows best.

Had to wait awhile to get a picture of them on the water. Surprised to find only two babies this year. There are usually six or seven. I wonder why only two?
Back to the Library again to pick up my adopted author's new book, The Dream Lover. I didn't even know Elizabeth Berg had a new book out this year. It looks interesting - about George Sand (Aurore Dupin).  I still remember when I first learned that 'George Sand' was a woman. I have so many good books to read in the next couple of weeks. Good thing it is rainy and cold!

Friday - Woke up with my left knee really hurting. If it was like this all the time I would be scheduling that replacement surgery. Went ahead and went to the Y to walk anyway - with my knee supports on.

These are some of the azaleas along the side of the Y building. There are also many flowering trees in bloom in the Memory Trees area. The building itself may be nondescript, but the grounds are pretty.
NFM called. They are replacing our mattress and box springs at no charge! That's the good news. The bad news is they won't be delivered here until the end of May.

Perhaps I should have taken it as a good sign when I noticed the examples they showed for how to take the needed photos was of  the same mattress we had!

I brought in some white lilacs from the bush next door as well as a little bouquet of grape hyacinths and mertensia bluebells.

The perks of spring - fresh flowers in abundance. The rocks are some my brother-in-law brought me from his hounding forays in the Arizona desert this winter.

Saturday - Awake at 5 to the sound of rain falling gently on the roof. Knee feels much better. I'm hoping the weather clears and warms before evening. Tonight is Dominique's and Devin's prom in Winterset.

This is a photo of Dominique taken before last year's prom. Her Mom, Shalea, always takes such good photos. Can't wait to see ones from this year.

And that is the week that was......

Sunday, April 19, 2015

A Rainy Sunday Morning In April

It was foggy early this morning when I got up. I was going to take a picture of the fog over the pond but before I got to it the rain came and cleared the fog away. Instead of fog, my photo shows the greening of the willows, geese on the pond, rain dripping from bare oak branches, white plum blossoms in the distance and the green, green grass.

Then I decided to find a poem about wild plum blossoms. Surely someone has written one that I could relate to? Boy, did I find a doozy!
I first became aware of Ted Kooser and his poetry when he was making regular appearances on CBS' Sunday Morning. That was probably 2004 to 2006 when he was Poet Laureate Consultant to the Library of Congress. He also won a Pulitzer Prize for Poetry in 2005. I greatly admire his work and am so glad searching for a poem about plum blossoms led me back to him. This is the one I found:


Mid April already, and the wild plums
bloom at the roadside, a lacy white
against the exuberant, jubilant green
of new grass and the dusty, fading black
of burned-out ditches. No leaves, not yet,
only the delicate, star-petaled
blossoms, sweet with their timeless perfume.

You have been gone a month today
and have missed three rains and one nightlong
watch for tornadoes. I sat in the cellar
from six to eight while fat spring clouds
went somersaulting, rumbling east. Then it poured,
a storm that walked on legs of lightning,
dragging its shaggy belly over the fields.

The meadowlarks are back, and the finches
are turning from green to gold. Those same
two geese have come to the pond again this year,
honking in over the trees and splashing down.
They never nest, but stay a week or two
then leave. The peonies are up, the red sprouts
burning in circles like birthday candles,

for this is the month of my birth, as you know,
the best month to be born in, thanks to you,
everything ready to burst with living.
There will be no more new flannel nightshirts
sewn on your old black Singer, no birthday card
addressed in a shaky but businesslike hand.
You asked me if I would be sad when it happened

and I am sad. But the iris I moved from your house
now hold in the dusty dry fists of their roots
green knives and forks as if waiting for dinner,
as if spring were a feast. I thank you for that.
Were it not for the way you taught me to look
at the world, to see the life at play in everything,
I would have to be lonely forever.  Ted Kooser

In search of a poem about plum blossoms, I never dreamed I would find one which so perfectly expresses my own feelings on this rainy April Sunday morning.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

The Week in Words and Pictures 4-12/4-18

Sunday - Watched Jordan Spieth set record and win the 79th Masters Tournament. We've become quite the golf fans. There are always good back stories pertaining to the players and the Augusta National Golf Club course is gorgeous. Love the azaleas.

Monday - Went to the Y and to the Library. Got the new Maisie Dobbs, A Dangerous Place, Yay! No secret, I adore this woman. Brought in a bouquet of daffodils.

Tuesday - Fun on Facebook. I posted this picture:

with the notation that I had 'captured' a photo of a bobcat! in our back yard. Bud mowed the yard for the first time this season.

Wednesday - Maxine's 97th birthday party in Mt. Ayr. I helped serve the beautiful and yummy cake.

I have great admiration for this remarkable woman. I'm so fortunate to have met her and become her friend.

Thursday - Learned that Mom's cousin, Doris, fell and broke her leg. Went to the hospital to see her after the Y. Had a momentary scare when I was directed to her room and it was in the intensive care unit. Looked into the room and saw her oldest son Bobby first and then saw Doris sitting up in the chair. She looked great for having had two rods plus pins put in her leg and hip.

Bobby, Doris, Kenny and Mike at her 90th birthday last November
I had a very nice visit with Bob & his Mom. It is a treat for me to be with Mom's last surviving cousin. It may be because Mom always talked about growing up with her Haley cousins or because I grew up knowing them from the Ridnour Cousins Reunions, whatever the reason(s) I always have a strong feeling of connection and belonging.

It was such a nice afternoon that we decided it was time to get last year's leaves raked and the flower beds cleaned off. I raked off most of the ones on the south side of the house.

While Bud did the entire north side as well as hauling off nine plus bags of leaves. As he says: "And, it's not even our tree!" The Mertensia, or Virginia Bluebells are about ready to bloom. I always call them Mertensia because that is how Grandma Ridnour referred to them. I wish I could say these were from the ones she gave Mom, but I forgot to dig any of those up to transplant here when we moved. So I got these from Kristi when they bought Lulu's house. I still think of Grandma when I see them, though.

Friday - Took some pictures on my way home from the Y to use in my National Haiku Poetry Day blog. This was one of the magnolia blossoms in McKinley Park that I particularly liked. If the Civil War monument near the flags in the background had shown up better, I had in mind working out a Haiku with a comparison between falling petals and fallen soldiers.

When we first moved here almost seven years ago, I admired the lovely grove of pine trees across the street. At that time there were a few trees that were dying from the pine beetle infestation. In the ensuing years, more and more trees have died and have been cut down. The grove will eventually cease to exist. Next it will be the ash trees as our county was among the state's first identified as having the emerald ash borer. 

Saturday - Decided to tackle the onus of jumping through the hoops necessary to hopefully get our mattress replaced under warranty. This involved taking many photos including one of the supporting frame. That meant taking the bed completely apart. Naturally I cleaned under it while it was dismantled. That led to a whole house vacuuming and dusting. Not that it needed it. Ha! Taking the bed apart and putting it back wasn't as bad as I thought it was going to be, thanks to Bud's help.

Last night we ran the air conditioning for the first time this year. This morning I had all the windows open letting in lovely fresh air. This afternoon the rain has moved in. A perfect afternoon to finish my Maisie Dobbs book and call it a week.   This is the week that was. 

Friday, April 17, 2015

National Haiku Poetry Day

As noted once before in this blog, July 29, 2010, I really like poetry. As today is National Haiku Poetry Day, I thought I would try writing a few Haikus.

This was my first of the day - one I put on Facebook as a challenge for my FB friends:

Plum thicket blossoms
Tossed by the clickety-clack
Of the passing train

Haiku is a traditional form of Japanese poetry. It is a 17 syllable verse form consisting of  three metrical units of five, seven, five syllables. Images from nature are often used in Haiku. It also emphasizes simplicity, intensity and directness of expression. In other words, a successful Haiku gets across an idea with minimum words and maximum impact.

Here are a couple poems I happened upon when I googled Haiku Images:

These were apparently used in connection with new designs for Moleskine notebooks.
In silent dreaming
Remaining still where we are
We travel so far

I liked them so well I copied them in my Moleskine Daily Life Journal.
Words fall like leaves
Onto the empty white page
A story appears

My own poem with regard to Moleskine products:
I dare not go there
Temptation to indulge in
More journals too great

Magnolia petals
Falling invoke spring desire
Memories dormant

Last year chasing Spring
South to glimpse redbud's delight
This season nearby

Stately pine tree grove
Victim of pine borers' lust
One-by-one you die

The End

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Just My Imagination Runnin' Away With Me

I've always thought of imagination as being a good thing. As a child, my imaginings or those of my siblings and cousins made for many hours of made-up fun. One of us would say, "Let's play house or cowboys and Indians or tea party or dress up..." and away we would go, each one adding to the story line created by our imaginations.

I've always adored this photo of my sister and me and our Robert's girl cousins playing dress up. How I wish I could remember what our story line was that day! I know we had one! Or two or three. We probably argued over who got to wear what as well as what we were playing at.

Betty and I spent hours roaming the farm playing sheriff and outlaws, tracking the 'bad guys' to their hideouts and then capturing them after a wild shootout.

And after our cute little brother came along when she was eight and I was ten, we added him into our fun - dressing him up, feeding him his lines.  I still can't figure out why he grew up to write sci-fi books instead of westerns! But I like to think I had something to do with the development of his imagination. Oh, wait, that might be the reason he does write sci-fi instead of another genre.

By the time I was a teenager, my imagination turned to boys and dating and romance. That pumpkin could turn into a coach, couldn't it? Moonlight, a boy's smile in my direction, a song on the radio, they could all contribute to my imagining being wanted, loved. The majority of times though, it was just as The Temptations sang: "But it was just my 'magination, once again, running away with me...."

And while I might have imagined what it would be like to have children of my own, I never could have imagined the fierce love and protectiveness I felt for them.

Nor the joy, love and pride I have felt from having nine grandchildren. No one can explain how you are going to feel about being a grandma until you are one.

There is another song about imagining - John Lennon's: "Imagine there's no heaven, it's easy if you try. No hell below us, above us only sky. Imagine all the people living for today..." 
The imagining of my life now is much more along these lines, especially when I wake in the night and can't go back to sleep. As my 97-year-old friend said: "It's not that we worry about dying, but about how we die." I imagine another stroke - and if it kills me, fine, but I don't want to be partially incapacitated and have to have someone take care of me. I worry about what the world will be like for my grandchildren and great-grandchildren to survive in. In other words, my imagination is running away with me and it runs to the dark side.

My imagination doesn't seem such a good thing anymore.

Monday, April 13, 2015

♪♪ Listen to the Radio ♪♪♪

"I try to find a way to explain to you what's on my mind and not sound so plain to you, but you'll realize if you close your eyes the feelings my words can't show - they're playing on the radio."

"Listen to the radio, oh listen to the radio, let's spend the night together baby don't go, they sing it on the radio. The words I'd say don't seem to sound as real. The songs they play, that's how I really feel." 

How true those words Don Williams sang were when I was a teenager. There was a song for every mood, every feeling. Break-up songs, make-up songs. Songs to dance to and songs to cry to. All that was needed was a radio to listen to. For Christmas, 1960, the year I was a senior in high school, my boyfriend gave me the portable radio I'm holding in the 'pretending to be asleep' photo above.
The bunny I'm cuddling I had received for Christmas at Grandma Ridnour's three years before. It was a 'pajama' bunny - unzip the opening in its tummy, put your jammies in and put the bunny on your bed for the day - after you made the bed!

Portable radios were something new at the time. Kenny had gotten it from someone he was with in National Guard training at Fort Jackson, South Carolina.

This photo I found online shows what mine looked like, just a different color. The handle was also the antenna and turned for better reception. I loved the radio and enjoyed it until the batteries ran down and I had to replace them. I was shocked to find that they were going to cost more than $16. I don't think I replaced them more than once.

Besides, by then the much smaller transistor radios were on the market. I definitely remember someone in my family having one like this with the case. Dad, maybe? I believe these took a 9-Volt battery.
Connie Smith had a song about her Tiny Blue Transistor Radio. "He bought it for my birthday just one short year ago. We stayed out late and listened to the music soft and low, on the tiny blue transistor radio."
I don't remember her song as well as I do Van Morrison's Brown-Eyed Girl. "Whatever happened to Tuesday and so slow, going down to the old mine with a transistor radio. Standing in the sunlight laughing, hide behind a rainbow's wall, slipping and a-sliding all along the waterfall, with you, my brown-eyed girl."

Today's teens (and older) have so many different ways to hear their favorite music, but for me, there's still nothing like listening to the radio. (Especially the oldies station.)

Sunday, April 12, 2015

The Only Thing We Have To Fear Is - Polio

Of course President Franklin Delano Roosevelt's quote is "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself". But reading the novel Lucy by Ellen Feldman last month got me to thinking about how much we feared contracting polio when I was young. President Roosevelt was stricken at the age of 39 in 1921 after running for vice-president in 1920. His partial paralysis did not prevent him from being elected president an unprecedented four times beginning in 1932.
The above picture is from the FDR Memorial in Washington, D.C. I had seen all the older memorials on previous trips to D.C.

But our trip there in 2008 was my first visit to this memorial. I think it is one of the most attractive of all the memorials. It would be lovely to visit it at this time of year when the cherry trees are in bloom. It lies very near the trees and tidal basin. There are several water features throughout the 7.5 acre memorial. I believe the one Mark, Bud & I are standing before in this photo represents the Tennessee Valley Authority dam building project begun in 1933 during FDR's first administration.

Because of his polio, Roosevelt founded the National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis to combat polio in 1938. Singer, actor, comedian Eddie Cantor came up with the idea for everyone to send the President a dime for his January 30th birthday in 1938. Calling it the "March of Dimes", the White House was inundated with dimes.

The "March of Dimes" became an annual fund raiser to "put an end to polio". This is the poster I remember the most:

In 1953 my home county, Adams, had the highest per person contribution rate in the state of Iowa. As a grade school student I remember the little cardboard dime holders.

My quarter a week allowance never went far enough and try as I might, I wasn't a very good "saver". So when the time came to fill our folders with dimes, I never had enough and I desperately wanted mine to be completely filled even though it was okay if it was less than full. Mom would contribute a dime or two, but with three of us in school, whatever dimes she had in her coin purse was never enough for all of us. Dad's spare change was usually on top of the refrigerator. I was not above sneaking dimes off there to fill any of my empty spaces.

Nationwide there was a huge polio epidemic in 1949. That may be the time my 'polio' memory stems from, although I think it was more likely 1952 when I was almost nine. Summertime was prime polio time. I distinctly remember not being allowed to go to town, which for a country kid was a big deal, because of my Mom's fear that we might 'catch' polio - even though it was unknown exactly how polio was spread.

Usually by the time school started the polio season was over. This is our 'first day of school' photo from 1952. I was entering the fourth grade. That's the cowboy (cowgirl?) shirt I was so proud of.

Here are some news bytes from the Free Press that year: January 17 - "Eight active (polio) cases in Adams County." There were eleven new cases in 1952 added to six from previous years.
August, 1952 ad - "Polio Insurance $10 per family."
Also August - (4 year old) "Larry Wynn, oldest son of Mr. & Mrs. Verl Wynn, entered the Blank Memorial Hospital last Sunday, a polio patient. His condition is listed as satisfactory."
September 11 - "Clifford Abbey, 30, dies of polio leaving wife and two sons; veteran of WWII." Three other polio sufferers were also listed in that issue.

This is why I think my polio fear memory is from 1952:

At that time the local swimming hole was at Lake Binder. There was a small beach, a diving tower, and the little diving pier shown in this photo. That summer there was a big scare about swimming at Lake Binder. People were being advised NOT to swim there for fear of catching polio. We didn't go to the lake to swim very often, but I'm sure we didn't go there that summer.

Sixty years ago today, April 12, 1955, the Salk Polio Vaccine was licensed for use. Two years earlier Dr. Jonas Salk had announced that he had successfully tested a vaccine against poliomyelitis. Clinical trials using the vaccine and a placebo were conducted during 1954.

Preparations for immunization clinics must have been readied before the vaccine was licensed because the first immunizations in Adams County were administered on April 21, 1955. All children in the 1st and 2nd grades were the first to receive their shots. To be effective, you had to have three shots. On May 2, those 1st and 2nd graders got their second shots. All 304 students were processed in one hour, ten minutes at the National Guard Armory.

I don't remember how or when I got my shots, but I'm sure I did - probably at Dr. Fry's office. It's funny, but I remember more about the Sabin oral 'sugar cube' vaccine which was first given in July of 1962. Maybe my little brother took part in that. The second dose was given August 2, 1962 in Central Park. All ages were urged to take the oral doses even if they had received the Salk vaccine. More than 4,000 people paid 25 cents to receive their second dose that day. Am I remembering the oral vaccine because I did get it, too? My first child was born only eight days after the second dose was given. Would I have taken the vaccine while pregnant? I can't remember.

My absolute biggest fear about polio had to be the fear of being placed in an iron lung - a negative pressure ventilator which enabled a patient to breathe. I remember the first time I saw a picture of a little boy in one. I was horrified. I couldn't think of anything worse than having polio and being in one of those contraptions.

President Roosevelt died 70 years ago today, April 12, 1945, ten years before the licensing of the vaccine that would end polio. (Coincidence? or planned to correspond?)

The following year the Roosevelt dime was released to honor FDR and his efforts in founding the National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis. (March of Dimes)

My children and grandchildren have not had to fear polio, but I will always remember the summer I didn't get to go to town.

Friday, April 3, 2015

Do You Take Those Quizzes You See On Facebook?

Can you resist those Brainfall and Playbuzz quizzes your Facebook friends post links to? I could; but I don't. To me they are just too much fun. How can you resist discovering "Which sense do you rely on most?" or "What's Your Zombie Name?" or the one I recently took: "What Kind of Drink Are You?"

Granddaughter Deise probably posts more of these quizes than any of my other Facebook friends. She is the grandchild born on my 51st birthday. Think what you like about the significance of astrology and birth dates, but there are a lot of similarities in our two personalities. And more times than not, we will have the same results on these quizzes. We both are "D's" in the "What Is Your Emotional Personality Type?" (D: Self-motivated and positive.)

"What Kind of Drink Are You?" - Yep, both Cosmopolitans. "You are quiet and content. You don't stand out too much, but you don't mind and you don't care what people think of you. You don't need everything to be perfect as long as you get what matters."

A couple days ago daughter-in-law Shelly shared the "What Is Your Totem Pole Animal?" link. She didn't share which animal she got, but naturally I HAD to take the quiz myself, not that I needed to - I've known my totem animal for many years. But just for fun, I wanted to see what animal the quiz said is my totem.

Crow. "Your totem pole animal is the crow! The crow is a spirit animal associated with life mysteries and magic. The power of this bird as totem and spirit guide is to provide insight and means of supporting intentions. Sign of luck, it is also associated with the archetype of the trickster; be aware of deceiving appearances. If the crow has chosen you as your spirit animal, it supports you in developing the power of sight, transformation and connection with life's magic." Hmm, okay, I like this. I've always thought I would like the power of sight and I do believe in the magic in our lives. (Wonder what animal Deise got?)

Because a totem is something such as an animal or plant which is the symbol for a family or tribe especially among Native Americans, I thought I should also include my Native American totem according to my birth zodiac:

Characteristics and meaning of the snake symbol: "Impulsive, shrewdness, rebirth, transformation, initiation, and wisdom."

Rather than being a family or clan symbol, I always thought of a totem as being a personal symbol. It was that personal symbol I asked for a quarter century ago. Just before falling asleep one night, my silent request was: "Please make my totem known to me." That night I dreamed about a .....

Dove. The American Native symbol for "cross-world communication, spirit messenger, peace, gentleness, love." I wasn't surprised to receive the dove as my totem - my middle name means 'peace' and I have been a life-long lover of doves.

Aileen (meaning 'light of the sun') was my beautiful white dove. I'll still think of the dove as my totem and while it seems just the opposite of the crow, I'll still keep taking those quizzes when someone shares a link to them on Facebook. To me they are a few minutes of fun and once in awhile say something which seems significant.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Noble, Graceful, Bitter Pearl

Twenty-six years ago today my second granddaughter was born - a Sunday child 'full of grace'. She is an Aries: 'honest, emotional and friendly' - also 'a good judge of character but once in awhile distracted by her naivety or by a lack of self confidence'.

She was the youngest daughter (six weeks old) at the Mother-Daughter Tea at our church that year. This 5-generation photo was taken that day - Alyssa being held by father, Doug, next to grandmother, Ramona. Great-grandmother Ruth, back right and Great-great grandmother Delphia, back left. This was just the first of many tea parties in her life.

There was the American Girl Doll tea where a very poised young lady displayed Allison, the American Girl wanna-be doll I had given her for Christmas.

And then there were all the impromptu play teas when she came to Grandma's house to visit. I wonder what she was thinking about in this picture.

Alyssa is the mother of my only great-granddaughter. Lily has the curls Aly didn't, but look at that same thoughtful expression. Oh, to know what's on this little one's mind!

This photo of Lily and Aly was taken a year and a half ago. I read Alyssa's birthday horoscope for those born on this day: "You should be a creative or inventive Aries. You have that eye for peculiar things and a bold quality to go with it. That could be a dangerous combination as you approach life but you remain humble and independent."

Oh, that post title, Noble, graceful, bitter pearl? The meaning of her name, Alyssa, is 'noble, graceful', which I think fits her. It's the meaning of her middle name, Mae, which surprised me: 'bitter'. But one other source said Mae spelled with an e can also mean 'pearl'.

Alyssa's April birthstone is the diamond. So I'll end with this quote: The rarest things in the world, next to a spirit of discernment, are diamonds and pearls." (Jean de la Bruyere)

Happy 26th Birthday, Miss Alyss.