Welcome to the

Random words, pictures and thoughts of one who always wishes to be on the mind's road to discovery!

About Me

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Connecticut River Valley, New England, United States

Saturday, July 25, 2009

The Only Person in the World

A foggy morning
Is the ocean ever still?
Its motion quiets me!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Friday, July 3, 2009

Mr. Cheeks

Cheeky fellow,Red!
Eating All the Birdseed Up!
Cardinals and Grosbeaks,
Loudly Complain.
Gold and Purple Finches,Too,
Add Their Voices.
Only Chickadees, Brave
And Blue Jays, Huge
Are Willing to Risk
A Snack,
What Little You Have Left Them.
Beware, My Little Glutton,
For the Cats Are on Their Side.
But I Shall Protect You!

Sunday, June 28, 2009

loves chalk--affair

RainBow of Colors
Addiction Unwavering
Attachment Through Life


As I was putting away my most recent scrapbooking purchase, a set of chalks and stencils, (which cost me $104!, since Massachusetts has sales tax, which we don't have in civilized New Hampshire, or Montana for that matter! But I digress), I started to think about my long association with chalk. I tried to remember when it began but my earliest recollections are volunteering to clap the erasers at the end of the school day for my favorite teacher. It was quite the feather in one's cap to be chosen and usually there were two of us. We'd run down the marble stairs to the imposing front entrance of our Catholic school and join the other chosens from other classrooms. We'd clap and clap and try to make the biggest clouds of chalk dust and then to make sure our erasers were as clean as possible we'd bang them on the huge stone walls of the entry. This inevitably got us in hot water with Mother Superior, whose office window overlooked the doors. I guess those rectangular chalky imprints were rather disfiguring but Boy, those erasers were clean!

Living in Manhattan we used the sidewalks as our playgrounds and chalk had a very important place in our active lives--particularly in the structure of the pottsy grid--known in some circles as hopscotch and other hi-falutin' names. Oh, the lines had to be just so and sometimes, depending on the sidewalk, the paving stones would be just the right size for the 0ne-two section or the three block. I was back in the old neighborhood about ten years ago. They've planted trees along the streets, people carry pooper scoopers, the rent on our apartment is $4000 a month and there wasn't a kid or a pottsy grid to be seen. Chelsea is the PLACE To BE now, but the old school is still there--no chalk marks on the walls, either. But then, chalk has become somewhat passe these days. Probably not green enough.

I remember the black, real slate chalk boards, too. In the lower grades I had occasion to kneel on the wainscoating under the chalk tray for talking in class. Only happened once --I was a fast learner. But this one painful experience, in which we were not to use the chalk tray for balance or relief, was not enough to dampen my love of chalk and all things chalk related. I begged to be allowed to go to the board to do the math homework, or write the spelling words or diagram a sentence.

In my eighth grade classroom one of the slates was broken--a whole triangular piece right across the section was missing. It was whispered that the teacher, Mother St. LA( I don't DARE to identify her more clearly, since she is probably in heaven watching me write this essay and who knows what punishment I will be forced to endure should I give her full name) broke it when banging the head of a particularly disobedient student into it. She was awe inspiring---let me tell you about the day she forgot her desk was on an elevated platform. One minute she was there, the next she was not. I THINK we gasped but I KNOW we did not laugh and not a kid moved as she rose red-faced and furious. Class went on as if nothing happened. I'm not sure we even talked about it outside of school--who knew where she might be and what she would do if she heard us! Oops, I digress once more. But I should tell you that she had a biological sister, who looked just like her and taught music in my high school. Mother St CM couldn't be more different than LA and I loved her.

Our real Mom and Dad both worked outside the home. My sister and I arrived from school around 3:30, assuming I didn't have the eraser detail, and we were not allowed to stay on the street but rather had to go upstairs and start our homework. Dad got home around 4:30-5 and Mom around 6. This gave us plenty of time to take the sheets off the bed ( white sheets!) and don them as religious habits, with plenty of long skirt to drag on the floor. There was one large plaster wall in our bedroom painted a pale green. It was a perfect blackboard and we loved playing school ,complete with chalk, and taking turns teaching lessons on that wall. Sometimes the amount of chalk seemed excessive so, taking a page from the nuns, we would use a damp wash cloth to remove the excess. This was more to prevent our Mother from knowing what we'd been doing than to ,in any way, restore the wall. We never could figure out how she knew --we dried it with a towel and made sure the sheets were tucked in perfectly on the beds. That was just one of the many ways we knew that our Mom was really smart. I don't know where we got the chalk though--probably lifted it when on eraser assignment. Can't remember if Mom confiscated it and we replaced it or if we had it hidden somewhere. Some details just fade with age, you know?

As I moved on to high school the fascination with chalk diminished . Oh, I still volunteered to do homework math and science on the blackboard--especially those multi-trait Punnett squares in biology. I loved them and the nun who taught the class. Not CNDs this time but Sisters of St Joseph of Carondolet--whom I really didn't like, in general--but I thought Larry Joe was a doll and it is because of her that I majored in biology in college and not the English that I'd always thought I would study. Ultimately, it was because of her, too, that my life's work was as a biology teacher.

And that is where my love affair with chalk culminated. By this time the old black slate chalkboards had been replaced by green colored material of some sort and I changed to yellow, rather than white, chalk because I felt it was more visible in the back rows of the classroom. I had boxes of yellow chalk and boxes of multicolored chalk in my supply room. I had a special plastic chalk holder but it didn't do any good--chalk was in my hair, all over my hands, under my nails. I had a large protractor for angles when teaching physics and a gigantic compass for drawing circles. I had a gadget that drew five lines at a time--the music teacher turned me on to that--made drawing Punnett squares--the big ones--so much easier. My black sleeves, when I wore them, always had a slight yellowish tinge to the cuffs and the rest of the blouse had a light dusting of pollen-like overlay. My black skirt or pants, when I wore them ,always had a bar of yellow chalk strategically placed across my derriere. I laughed when I told friends that if ever I were in an accident and had no ID the emergency people would know that I was a teacher --without a problem. But I actually wore that veneer of chalk dust proudly.

And, oh, the biological diagrams I'd stay after school to draw for the next days lessons! Colorful and labeled just so. One of the first I ever did was of a nephron in the kidney. The glomerulus and duct in lovely yellow; the duct surrounded by the blue renal artery and the red renal vein--actually by the capillaries that came together at the junction of vein and artery. I left my classroom so proud of that diagram and returned the next morning to a spotless, gleaming black board with all evidence of multicolored chalk dust removed from it and the tray beneath it! I was devastated. All that work and detail. I asked my department head about its disappearance to be told that the custodians erase and clean all boards unless one wrote PLEASE SAVE, in huge letters in several places. Never happened again--not only am I a fast learner but custodians these days only sweep the floors--no boards, trays,windows or waste baskets and certainly, no mopping or washing of boards!!! But then again, when I retired the old boards were gone( except in my classroom--I wouldn't let them cover my green board) replaced by white boards and erasable markers, which skip and run out of ink. One doesn't even get a nice blotch on the fingers or even a mark on a white blouse sleeve. Really! About the only thing left to designate the teacher is the red pen, and I hear they are doing most things on the computer now so even that has gone the way of the slide rule!

It wasn't until I put my new purchase away with all the other sets of chalk I've amassed that I realized my love affair has not ended. I can still apply chalk to surfaces and my work area is still covered with the rainbow dust of its excess. I have chalk under my nails and on my jeans and I still love it--only now if I'm in an accident who knows what they'll think I do for a living. Whatever it is, it involves CHALK!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

A Family Heirloom

Betsy was five when she made this plate for her Grandmother. I see we did it in the Fall of 1991 but I cannot remember if it was a Christmas gift or a something for Grandma, just because. Grandma died when Betsy was 8 so we've had it ever since and, because we use it, some of the colors have faded. Last night before filling it with dinner we three looked at it closely once more.
Betsy laughed at how distorted Bill is--he looks pregnant on long, long legs. Why? He's tall but never has had a belly! I remember at the time she made it, I asked about the Christmas lights and Betsy indignantly told me they were the leaves of fall. Last night she reiterated that and said ANYONE can see that's what they are--they still look like Christmas lights to me! LOL
We've always laughed about the huge rings she and I are wearing and how Bill seems to be holding up the sun, though we are holding hands. She also asked if I liked the rainbow! There was always a rainbow somewhere in her art.She noted that she got the eyes right--she and I have hazel eyes and they are exact as are the eyebrows but oh, those lashes on us all! Bill's eyes , you will note, are NOT hazel, they are brown. And, oh, yes, she said, I'm wearing a nice necklace there--meaning BetsYYYYY--oh, that Y! I am particularly enamoured by the tights, which if you look closely do cover the stick legs ( just as our sleeves cover the stick arms!) that were drawn first. And oh, those shoes--Minnie Mouse, anyone.
I just love this plate and wish now that she is 23 that she'd do another one for us. Maybe for Christmas?

Sunday, June 7, 2009

A Lost Creative Form

My first collage--that is a hard creative form. My scientific mind was very challenged and even with effort I'm not happy since I don't think there is enough flow and randomness. I used Stampin' Up stamps and Jolee's stickers. Here is a sort of poem,which does get random in its rhythm, to go with the image. I hope you enjoy them.
First, Palmer Method
Perfectly Round Circles,
Beginning Cursive.

Salutation, the Body,
Then close with Signature.
Neat Penmanship,
Stationery,Plain or Fancy,
Depending on the Style.
Inks of Black or Blue
In Fountain Pens only,
Never Ball Point smears.
Business Letters,
Friendly Letters,
Notes of Thanks or Sympathy.
All Had Their Rules and Form.
But It Was Fun To Draw
On Envelopes,SWAK,and Hearts,
In Red and Turquoise Inks
On Paper With Polka Dots or Flowers.
Pages and Pages of News and Notes.
Sent Far and Wide for Ten Cents.
The Anticipation of An Answer.
The Joy When It Arrived.
Some of Us Still Carry On This Ancient Art,
Bemoaning email and fax and Twitter and Texting.
The Feel of Snail Mail in Our Hands,
The Scent of the Author,
The Chance to Reread Words of Those who've Gone,
Will Forever Keep Us Going With the Hope
Of Making Converts.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Altered are Altered

The biology teacher in me is not really happy because three chromosomes should be represented exactly and only one is. Bill's Dad gave him the exact y-chromosome and they are the same in my layout. But the x from my Dad should be exact for me--the closest I could come was a similar one outlined in yellow--and the x from Bill to our daughter should be the same. The rest are all scrambled eggs--which X did Bill get from his Mom, which did I get from my Mom and which did I give the kid? It gets even funnier if you look at the chromosomes in my starting generation and wonder who gave them what? All in all--we are our ancestors, sort of! We are our ancestors, altered! And isn't that fun????

Friday, May 29, 2009

AA's are giving me a headache!

My daughter asked us the other night how it was that one of her dearest friends is so petite when the girl's sibs are tall. ( We are retired science teachers--I taught biology,for goodness sakes! Genetics, however, went right over her head in high school!) Biting our academic tongues we merely pointed out that the girl's father is rather on the short side. "Yes," said she, irritated(aren't children ALWAYS irritated with their thick-headed parental units?) " but he is the father of the other four kids!"
"True," we replied calmly "but their mother is not hers and their mother is considerably taller than the Dad!"
"Well," harruphed the irritated one "her mother is also taller than he!"
Obviously, the obvious was not providing a satisfactory answer. The male parent then inquired"would you like us to do the genetics thing--you know the genes on the chromosomes and various possible combinations, including the variables introduced by the presence of two different mothers?"
He is always so much better at ending the conversation without escalation than I--that's one of the reasons I keep him, I guess.
With total disdain for us both, she sighed,gave a resounding "NO!" stomped upstairs muttering "nothing is ever simple around here!"
We shook our heads and went on with our lives, knowing it really is because her Dad is short.
BUT, that conversation gave me an idea for this week's theme--that and the Altered Ancestor's book on Inpire Me Thursday's website. Sooo, today I'm going to try to make a scrapbook page that will show our darling the altered ancestors that is SHE. Have only her grandparents and us to work with but it should work out.
Please come back in a few days to see how it turns out.

Monday, May 25, 2009

An American Observance( I think)

Today is Memorial Day here in the US and ,while many folks are just grateful for an extra day off from work,some are thinking of loved ones who have died or been injured in the service of our country. Such loss is not unique to us Americans. Many men and women worldwide have suffered in the military.

In my case, though father and brothers and uncles have served in the Navy, we have been fortunate enough not to have had them serve during wartime. Purely by luck they were either too young or too old to serve during those periods. I've known others who have not been as lucky and today, more than usual, I think of them and their families.

It is overwhelming to walk some of the Civil War battlefields that exist here and to imagine the events that took place a mere 140 years ago. It is even more overwhelming to walk in one of the National Cemetaries and look upon row after row of white stones. If, by some magic, the dead were able to rise and walk that place even momentarily the numbers would compare to an audience at a concert! Unbelieveable and daunting.

So today I thank all of you who have served their countries--US AND others. I'd like to believe that war will some day be obsolete but I don't believe it---being human we will always find some reason to disagree and there will always be those who feel war is the only way to go. I'm not being judgemental, nor am I a pacifist. On the other hand I am not a warmonger. Despite our rationality, anger and discord will rise and lives will be lost.

Let's just remember the ones we've lost so far and pray for them.

Friday, May 22, 2009

The Warrior

He lifted his pseudopod slightly---was that a popping he'd heard, like a child playing with that packing stuff? Had it been followed by a snicker of triumph? Did he detect a slight catch and roughness in the soft ebb and flow of the air around him? Listening a moment longer he decided he was just a bit jumpy. There'd been talk of contagion between his hostess and her family for several days now but no signs of invasion so far. Silently he lowered and extended his pod--oozing along the smooth, glistening, warm, moist, gently moving walls of his post.

He passed several other soldiers and quietly asked if they had encountered anything unusual. Only one thought there had been a slight shudder earlier but things seemed normal otherwise. Suddenly, there was a short rapid expulsion of air and moisture and several of the troops were carried rapidly out of the chamber by its force. Then he noticed that the walls appeared to be sweating more than usual and the moisture was becoming somewhat stickier. Calling to the fellows nearest him, he started around a narrow passage to the next chamber. As they continued through another explosive rush of air almost carried him upward toward the outer world. Becoming alarmed he urged the men to follow him more closely and he attempted to increase his speed. He did not want to allow himself to panic but he knew that he had to explore every chamber of this structure. Somewhere, he feared, danger was brewing.

As they continued,stealthily, through the convoluted corridors the sticky seepage of the walls thickened, making it more difficult to slide their way along the passages. Soon, they began to see clusters of viral remains stuck to the now deepening effluent. His soma began to pulse and he realized that the sounds he heard coming from the farthest chambers were the separation noises of the rods in the throes of asexual euphoria. Although he now knew what to expect ,the sight of the brilliant red walls of the invaders' camp stunned him.

Immediately, he dispatched some of his men to the barracks to muster reinforcements. The others he ordered to stretch their bodies to the limit, until the middle pinched in and the one became two. In the process, chemicals were released to neutralize those of the maniacally reproducing foe. Over and over again, he and his men stretched and divided, hoping against hope to form a battle unit large enough to overcome the enemy which had a head start. As his numbers increased he assigned some to diffuse through the walls and spread out within his hostess, starting fires as they went to increase the temperature of the surroundings. This he knew would start to destroy the weaker among the rods. He also ordered others to begin the engulfing, though he knew this meant death to his men as well. He thought fleetingly of the kamikazes of that far off country he'd read about in his youth. But, the battle he was waging did not leave much time for nostalgia,nor for regret. His mission was to overcome the threatening horde and save his hostess.

As the frantic reproduction on both sides continued there was a sudden cataclasmic eruption and pieces of the now thickened lining of the walls were pulled away, along with the bodies of his dead--bloated with the bodies of engulfed rods. White, and yellowish and green in death. Slimy with the coating of the chamber, they were explosively carried upward and out of sight. On and on the battle raged. The eruptions came more frequently. The heat became unbearable to him and his men as well as to the still splitting rods.

And then, as quickly as it had begun, the battle slowed and almost ceased. The air was fetid and moist and its flow in and out of the chamber was ragged. But for the moment there was a respite and he took that moment to assess the damage. His forces were reduced but word came that help was on the way. Other messages informed him that the men on the periphery were unscathed and able to keep the fires going without interference. Just as he was about to doze for a few minutes the second in command came to inform him that he had a visitor. Sal, from the hostess, wanted to see him. He had to put him off--he couldn't have any interference now. The battle had not truly begun and he needed to keep total command until he felt the tide turn in his favor. And so, his lieutenant was ordered to stall Sal.

Stretching for one last split before resting he was infuriated to find Sal pushing his way into his space. Sal demanded that the fires be tamped down and said he'd been sent by the hostess to do just that. He countered that the heat was necessary to weaken the invader but Sal argued back that it was weakening the hostess as well. " She cannot eat, nothing she drinks stays down" he declared. " Besides, it is because of her that you have this quiet! She sent NyQie to calm the walls." Looking around he realized that in his fatigue he had not noticed the blue green tinge of the thin wash now beginning to cover the walls. " If you don't let us do our work--we few that she has sent so far--she will only send more and your men will not be able to stop us putting out the fires. At least let us damp them down and reduce the heat so she is somewhat comfortable. Look around you, your men are being slowed by this intense temperature." Wearily, he agreed.

Soon after Sal's departure the new recruits arrived en masse. He shook his head in sorrow. Some of them were so young they didn't even have their central control rooms fully developed. Yet, here they were starting to engulf and to discharge neutralizing liquids almost without order. Another spasm pulled some of them upward almost as soon as they arrived--dying already and not yet full to bursting with rods. He joined the fray and once more the chaos of battle became the only reality. On and on it went --periods of frenzy, periods of quiet. After what seemed an eternity the horde was subdued. The weary remains of his force returned to the barracks. He gave his lieutenant and others of the routine patrol time to relax. Fresh recruits who had not been needed when the battle raged arrived to clean up the remains of the fallen of both sides.

He wearily found a corner out of the way and observed the carnage. Sorrow for the lost mingled with satisfaction at a job well done. He wondered how much longer he would survive these attacks but knew that he would be ready to lead when the next one came. And it would.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

I Try Poetry!

Oh,Graceful Petals
So Snowy,Fragrant,Lovely
White Apple Blossoms

I just got so inpired by the other Haiku posted I had to give it a sophmoric try! My first, so be kind,please!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

The Promise of Spring

A first visit to Mystic, Ct for our 25th wedding anniversary, we took a walk around the village to help digest our oysters on the half shell. We found a lovely garden to walk through and as we neared the exit we walked beneath this lovely magnolia in bloom...One of the first blossoms in New England and so welcome after the long,snowy winter of short days. As I looked up through the branches I saw that they formed a lovely frame for the stained glass window of the Church, whose garden it graced. It seemed so lovely I just had to save it to my digital camera's memory card to bring up on rainy days like to day!

Sunday, May 10, 2009


I think of you often although you have been gone more than half my life.
You never met my husband;nor held your granddaughter.
I feel you near me at times and yet, at other times, I wonder if Dad was right:
There is no afterlife, we live on in our children and theirs.
That may be true--so much of me is like you--some things I really love and others which drive me crazy in me as much as they drove me nuts in you!
You were the glue that held us all together.
You would be 108 now and I wonder what you would have been like as you aged.
I miss you and wish I could share so many thoughts and worries and joys with you.
Happy Mother's Day, I love you.

Friday, May 8, 2009

And Then There is One

We start out as one--alone in the womb--but soon we join THE FAMILY--parents who coo and sing and love and feed and clean and nurture. The circle grows--siblings,aunts,uncles,cousins --maybe grandparents. We go into the world and acquire friends who are like family and their families become part of the extended family. Some of us get married or form a particular bond with a specific partner and adopt that person's family as our own. Perhaps, with that partner we add children and the circle becomes huge and the support of it and the burden of it and the stress of it all keeps us going. Far too soon the circle begins to grow smaller as the elders start off on new journeys --to another place? The younger ones move on as well, to other places and to other "families". Until the circle is completed and once more we are just one!