Thursday, March 29, 2007

Pink rain....

The large crabapple in our front yard bursts into bloom overnight, it seems. And within days, the petals of the begin to drift to the ground in the least little breeze. It becomes a rain of pink petals, which carpet the driveway. So many colors to see. The golden flowers of the forsythia, the pink flowers of the redbud and the peach, and the white of the choke cherries by the barn. And the lilacs are about to bloom as well. Underfoot, purple violets dot the lawn along with grape hyacinth and snow drops, which have escaped the flower bed. We took a walk last night after dinner. It was so nice to walk by our neighbors houses and see the tulips and phlox and other flowers just coming into bloom. Oh yeah, that tall teal blue structure in the background is one of the town water towers.

Saturday, March 24, 2007


All varieties of bird song fill the air, from the monotone whistle of the Field Sparrow, to the wolf call of the Cardinal (and that's exactly what it sounds like) to the tea-kettle tea-kettle song of the Carolina Wren. After the mostly dead silence of winter, the world suddenly seems very much alive and very noisy indeed. And as the birds calm down for the night and go to sleep--except for the owl, of course (I heard one this morning when my eyes flew open at 4 a.m.)-- the spring peepers* wake up at the pond and they serenade all night long until dawn breaks. Shakespeare said it all:

In the spring time, the only pretty ring time
When birds do sing, hey ding a ding, ding;
Sweet lovers love the spring.

Of course, that is what its all about – love. I watched two squirrels chasing each other up and down tree trunks for a while this morning – I know what was on their minds!

*We had one of these little guys as a pet for the winter one year. It came in the house in the late summer (we had about an 1-inch gap at the bottom of the screen door) and I found it in the bathtub. I took it outside and let it go and about an hour later it was back on the porch heading for the house again. So I brought it in and put it shower enclosure, which is made out of redwood and there are some holes in it where knots came out. So the frog stayed there all winter, pretty much sleeping but occasionally waking up and getting on the shower curtain or moving around other the tub. In the spring I put it outside and it went on its merry way

Thursday, March 22, 2007

On this day in history...

Some important have happened on this day in history. In 1765 the British Parliament passed the Stamp Act, which drove a wedge in the relationship between the colonies and Britain that eventually led to independence. In 1457 the Gutenberg Bible became the first printed book. In 1733 Joseph Priestly invented carbonated water. And some famous people have been born on this day, among them Marcel Marceau, Louis L’Amour, Chico Marx, and William Shatner. But I think the very best thing to have happened on this day, and the most important person to have been born, was my baby sister. What a blessing she has been to all of us. I love you sweetie. Happy birthday.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Doo Wop a Wop

As much as R and I rail against the university gobbling up the historic homes in the downtown area of West Plains (why in the world didn’t they put the campus on the outskirts of town where there is PLENTY of open land?), if the university hadn’t come to town, there would be no Civic Center and no Community Programs Department, and we would not have gotten to see the St. Louis Shakespeare Festival’s delightful presentation of Much A Doo-Wop About Nothing, a 50-minute restaging of Much Ado About Nothing in a 1950s era soda fountain. What a treat. We suffered major culture shock when we moved here. Both of us grew up in the bustling suburbs of Los Angeles, where there were plenty of places to go and things to see and a million different restaurants to choose from. Then we lived for a couple of years near a college town in Oregon, which also had community cultural events of the university – in fact, that’s where I learned to play the guitar (semi-funny story that was embarrassing at the time: I had to bring N with me to one of the classes, and while we were walking down the hallway he saw the Fire Alarm button and pressed it). And then here. Seriously rural America, where the nearest decent sit-down restaurant is 12 miles away (I don’t count the truck stop), and the nearest Mall is a 90-mile drive. Well, at least the “culture famine” is easing some now. I’ve written about this before in at least one previous post, so I won’t belabor the point, except to say that we take none of this for granted!

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Welcome to the Hotel....

Nope. Forget it. I’m not talking about the Hotel California here (as in the Eagles' song). I’m talking about the lethal accommodations available in the Hotel Roach. Yes, indeed. R tracked down the humble Roach Hotel on the Internet and rooms are now available. Come one, come all. Plenty of room. It may not be Spring on the calendar, but the weather is behaving very Spring-like indeed and Nature is responding. And, suddenly the roaches are everywhere -- coming in from outside. So far, the guests at the Roach Hotel include 2 crickets (I feel sort of bad about them) and 6 roaches. The Bathroom Ants are back – they are the first ants to invade, and we differentiate them from the Kitchen Ants, the Bedroom Ants, and the Office Ants. I have noted that the Bathroom Ants are quick to recycle the dead roaches that I fail to pick after they are squished. Except R sprayed the bathroom last night so the ants are gone, for awhile at least. Some of the insects that live in our house don't bother me that much, but roaches -- whew. This is one critter where "live and let live" does not apply.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

A spoon full of sugar...

Since the end of July – after we got a really good look at ourselves in the full-length mirrors in the room we were staying at the Tuscany Suites (a truly wonderful place to stay) – R and I have been focused on loosing weight. We are not on a “diet” per se, but are simply counting calories. The upside is that we can eat anything we want as long as we account for it and don’t go over the limits we have set for ourselves for the day. The downside is that we spend a lot of time calculating how many calories are in the food we eat. At mealtimes we sit across from each other at the table with our solar-powered calculators (we're very energy conscious, doncha know) adding up figures and consulting calorie-counting books. So today I added a tablespoon of powdered sugar to the cocoa I had added to my coffee and thought I better look it up in the book and get it written down. So I did and I announced to R: “Powdered sugar has a tablespoon of calories.” He gave me “the look” and we both started to laugh.

What immediately leaped into my mind was the banquet in the CS Lewis novel That Hideous Strength that occurs at the end of book. Merlin crashes the party and “Babel” breaks out as various dignitaries are giving their speeches. It starts off as mixed-up sentences and then eventually deteriorates into gibberish. “Jules seemed to be saying that the future density of mankind depended on the implosion of the horses of Nature... Then he thought, Come! That is going too far. Even they must see that you can’t talk about accepting the challenge of the past by throwing down the gauntlet of the future... and then came the sentence: “The surrogates esemplanted in a continual of porous variations.” Well. I’m not quite that bad.... not yet anyway.

Oh yeah, I caused something of a disturbance yesterday in the aerobics class when I discovered, much to my delight and surprise, that I have now lost enough weight that can touch my elbow to my knee!!!

Tuesday, March 06, 2007


A stuffed armadillo makes an appearance in John Irving’s book A Prayer for Owen Meany, but the armadillos that visit our place are very much alive. Many people who live in the country take as much pride in their lawns and flower beds as do their counterparts in the city. In recent years, armadillos have moved into the area, and despite the carnage on the highway, their numbers seem to be increasing. And one or two determined armadillo can tear up a lawn or a flower bed looking for worms and grubs in nothing flat. They are really high up there on the Most Hated list, right along with moles, Country folk who have guns shoot them on sight or, in the case of one irate friend who arrived home late at night to find them busy rooting up her freshly planted lawn boarders.... careening across the lawn in the car attempting to run over them. As it happens, we do not take pride in our yard. We do good if we mow the grass once or twice during the growing season, and I have one flower bed planted in perennials and spring bulbs that I have not actually done anything with for about 10 years. Just in the past couple of weeks -- and yes, the grass really is this green despite snow, ice, and freezing temperatures--armadillos have made a pass through our “side yard” and left this pockmarked landscape behind. We didn’t care too much about it. Unlike the special effects wizards who did the movie Holes I can’t capture the scope of how many holes there actually are, but there are at least 40 or 50 in a fairly small area...