Wednesday, July 29, 2009

She Says Some Funny Things...

This is my youngest niece, Molly. Yesterday we drove to Target. It was a hot, humid day here in Kentucky. It felt very cool and refreshing inside the store, thanks to their air conditioning. When we walked out to the parking lot, we were hit by a wave of heat, and were remarking how hot it was. Molly said: "God needs a thermostat up there."

Sunday, July 26, 2009


My most recent obsession... collage. I have no idea what I am doing; I just find images I like and mix them up together. Up until now, I have been using only paper on paper. However, in my most recent one, I added some tissue paper, tore it off in some places, and added some cloth flowers. It has a little bit of a 3-D effect. That's it above.

The remaining photos are some collages that I made a few years ago, and just found packed away. These are my very first attempts.

This one was done when I was in a crazy mood, and wanted to try abstract design:

"Bloom Where You Are Planted" was my attempt to cheer myself up after moving away from a city I loved:

The final two were inspired by a vacation in the Caribbean:

I really didn't think I would post these. I thought I would be embarrassed by my amateur attempts. I see so many accomplished artists' works in the blog world. But, hey, this is where I am! So, I am going to put it out there. Everyone has to start somewhere... right?

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

The Ol' Family Farm

My family owns a farm in southern Ohio. It used to be a dairy farm, but now it is a cattle-raising farm. It's not big, just 300 acres. No one in my family has lived on it since my grandfather's generation. My grandfather grew up there. When we were kids, my grandfather loved to take us to visit the farm. We went into the barn to watch the milking machines working, and to play with the cats and kittens who lived there. He had us taste water out of the sulfur spring. He took us to the grain elevator and told us how it worked. He took us to visit the little family cemetery where many of our ancestors are buried. My grandfather grew up before there were interstate highways. He never drove on them, preferring county roads and back roads everywhere he went. We learned so much from our grandfather.

Our farm has been in my family for many generations, since 1811. It was a land grant to Joseph Brown, my great-great-great-great (not sure how many greats) grandfather by an act of Congress. We still have the original document. It is signed by James Madison, President and James Monroe, Secretary of State.

My family lived on the farm and worked the farm all those years, until my grandfather and his two sisters left the farm. Since then, it has continued operating, occupied and farmed by a series of tenant farmers. It became a business in 1993, when my father and his two cousins signed incorporation papers.

Now we are required to hold meetings once a year. My sisters and my cousins, their spouses and children all gather for lunch, then a meeting at a manager's office. This year's meeting is Friday... that's what made me think to write this post. The man who farms it for us will be there, with his wife. He owns his own farm next door, and he has been farming our farm along with his own for a long time (not sure how many years). We talk about cattle and corn, wheat and soybeans. We talk about repairs to the barn and crop yields and the price of corn and beef.

When I was a child I thought the farm was fun. I envied the kids who lived there their way of life. When we began having "farm meetings" I though it was kind of a nuisance. Now it has deeper meaning for me. I think about the history and I wonder about all the family members who lived and worked there. I thank my grandfather for fostering an interest in the farm in me. And sometimes I wonder: was my ancestor Joseph Brown the original "farmer Brown"?

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Wednesday, July 15, 2009


I am busy celebrating birthdays these days!

June 15: my twelve-year old niece
July 9th: my youngest sister
July 10th: my birthday
July 16th: my youngest niece, who will be eight tomorrow
August 2: my mother
August 28: my ten-year old niece
September 4: my oldest sister

My family (especially my mother) has always made a big deal out of birthdays. If possible, the whole extended family gets together. Someone bakes a birthday cake and brings the candles and matches. Everyone brings at least one gift. If the weather is nice, we all troop out to a local park for a picnic. Otherwise, we gather at someone's house (usually my youngest sister because she has the largest house). Or, we go to a restaurant that is family-friendly and has a large enough space for all of us.

Last weekend we all met at one of those restaurants. We had a group of fifteen and a very patient waitress. There were six chldren in the group, who kept changing places around the table... first sitting by mom, then by dad, then by grandma, then by aunt or uncle. The waitress kept track of everyone. There were requests for more bread, more water, etc., etc. Finally, we needed plates for birthday cake, and we took up time opening gifts. She was amazingly patient and efficient. Thankfully, we needed only one check so she didn't have to make separate checks. Then, all the men sat around exchanging cash and credit cards.

I was a waitress during college, so I still have empathy for them. (Guess I couldn't make it on the Supreme Court.)

My husband can't believe how we celebrate birthdays in my family. In his family, they send a card, if they remember. They exchange gifts only at Christmas and then usually wind up just giving each other cash. They are more likely to go out for a beer than have a birthday cake. They have just as much love for each other as my family; they just have different ways of showing it. I like their way as much as I like our way. It's just interesting how different they are. Mine just happen to be all clumped together on the calendar, so we have a very busy birthday season!

Saturday, July 11, 2009

I Am Proud Again Today

I am watching President Obama's visit to Ghana today. I can't help feeling proud of our President. It's a good feeling to have a President who is admired by so many in the rest of the world. He is a man of the world, who can relate to people of other cultures. I believe that is what we need now.

Friday, July 10, 2009

A Birthday Story

I was born on my father's birthday, July 10th. So, every year we shared a birthday cake and blew out the candles together. It was nice sharing my birthday with my dad. My father died fifteen years ago, and my birthday became mine alone. I no longer had a shared birthday, though my sister's is July 9th, so we often celebrate ours together. At the time my father died, I was living in Philadelphia and my sister was living in Kentucky. For the first several years after our father died, my sister drove to Ohio on our birthday to visit his grave and place flowers on it.

One night, my sister had a dream, in which our father was speaking to her. He thanked her for the flowers and made a suggestion. He suggested that, rather than leaving flowers at his grave that she send them to me on our birthday. So, every year when I lived in Philadelphia I received a bouquet of flowers from my sister on my birthday. She still does it, now that I live in Kentucky near her. Today, I had lunch with my sister and three nieces and they brought me roses for my birthday. And for Dad's birthday, too.

Here I am at lunch today, with my nieces. Yesterday, I made a birthday cake for my sister, and today she and the girls made a birthday cake for me!
(See yesterday's post where we celebrated my sister's birthday!)


In my family, summer is the birthday season. I was born on my father's birthday, July 10th. My sister was born on July 9th. My three nieces' birthdays are in June, July and August. My mom's birthday is in August, too.

Yesterday was my sister's birthday. She was true to an old family tradition... having a birthday picnic!

This is the birthday girl; my youngest sister, she is 17 years my junior. She is the one in the family who went to medical school and became a doctor. She has three girls, ages 12, 10, and 8. These are the nieces I watch on days when my sister works.

She and the three girls gathered around the birthday cake:

Sammy came along to take a dip in the creek. She loves to doggie paddle in the creek!

This is Molly, on the bridge over the creek. Her birthday is next week.

And on the playground:

But who needs a playground? A big rock is fun, too!

Well, now I am going to go and celebrate my own birthday... today! My father is no longer living but I will think of him as I celebrate the day that is our joint birthday.

Monday, July 6, 2009

In the Night Sky...

The International Space Station passed over us last night. I stood outside and watched it pass all the way across the sky. It was very bright and took about five minutes to pass over.

The photo below is how it appears from earth. My view was a lot smaller than this, but I could make out the shape of it when it was directly above me. It felt a bit surreal to me. I think it was the first man-made object that I have ever seen orbiting the earth.

It made me remember the time in 1968 when I saw the movie "2001 A Space Odyssey". It was just released and, at the time, the year 2001 seemed impossibly far away. In some way now, I feel like I am living in the future.

I Made Shade!

Our back deck was unlivable in the summer because of the hot sun. We have trees at the back of our yard, but none close enough to the house to provide any shade. I have spent three summers here unable to sit outside during the day because of the hot sun. I decided this year was going to be different! So, I went to work (with some help from my husband) to create shade. Here are the results:

We had an old gazebo down in the yard. It used to have a roof, but it was blown off during a storm last winter. We moved it up to the deck and reassembled it there. We put a canvas top on it. I hung some flower baskets to bring some greenery closer to the deck.

We bought outdoor drapes which I hung on the west side to keep the sun out in the afternoon. Also, I bought a little table to use with the umbrella we were storing in the basement.

The "Yeager" sign used to hang on the wall of an old family cabin on a lake in Michigan. It helps us to pretend we are looking out over a lake as we enjoy the new-found shade on our back deck. Now, if we just had a loon calling to us in the distance!

Saturday, July 4, 2009

One of My Heroes

Tonight, if you watch "A Capitol Fourth" from Washington, D.C. you will see one of my heroes, conductor Erich Kunzel. He has been the conductor of the Cincinnati Pops since 1965. In 2006, he won the National Medal of Arts, which is the highest honor given to artists and art patrons. In 2008, he led the Cincinnati Pops at the opening ceremony of the Summer Olympics in China. He is also known for his exuberant personality and his sense of humor; one person who interviewed him said it was easy to see why recordings by the Cincinnati Pops sound so lively and joyful.

The first time I saw him in action was back in the 70s at Cincinnati Music Hall. At Christmas time we went to see "The Nutcracker". Somehow, we had ended up with tickets in the very first row. We weren't sure if that was a good idea or a bad idea, as the view from the first row can be a bit overwhelming. As it turned out, I was mesmerized by watching Erich Kunzel. He was so animated and expressive. It was a joy to watch him. I especially remember when the snowflakes were dancing in the enchanted forest, the Land of Snow. The scene was magical, with sparkling snowflakes all around, and the dancers in their luminous costumes, and the lovely lyrical music. In the background, the chorus is singing softly, "ah, ah, ah, ah" and we could here Erich Kunzel singing right along with them, his voice strong and joyful. It was clear that he was enjoying it. That was when he became my hero. His love of what he was doing was infectious. There are moments that you never forget. That was one of mine.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Here I Go Again!

I must be in a chatty mood today. I am home by myself and I seem to be blogging everything that comes into my mind. First, it was about the news media. Now it's about Sam Waterston. When I got disgusted with the news, I started watching a "Law and Order" re-run. Sam Waterston is in it, along with Carey Lowell, Richard Gere's attractive and natural-looking wife (she doesn't appear botoxed or nipped/tucked, unlike a lot of actresses).

I love Sam Waterston! I have loved him every since I saw the movie "The Great Gatsby" back in 1974. At the time, a big deal was made about the movie before it came out and it turned out to be a flop. I wasn't crazy about the movie either, and thought it was awfully depressing. But I loved the actor who played Nick. I loved the character of Nick. He was the only likable character in the movie. He was charming and sincerely nice. And Sam Waterson played the gentlemanly Nick very well. I have liked him ever since.

Until Law and Order, most people seem to have never heard of him. When anyone asked who my favorite living actor was I would name him and they would have a blank look. I was gratified when my late mother-in-law (whom I liked very much) said he was her favorite actor too.

I think I will get up and get out of the house now. I've blogged enough for one day!

Enough Is Enough!

I have had it with the news media! I like to be aware of what is going on in the world. There is a lot to be concerned about. Africa, Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, North Korea, Nicaragua, Israel, and on and on. Yet... what is the first thing I see every time I put on a news channel? Michael Jackson! I have nothing against Michael Jackson. I liked a lot of his music. I reserved judgment when he was on trial. I was sad when I heard that he had died at the age of fifty.

But, enough already! It is now the lead story on every news broadcast. How did he die? Were drugs involved? What about the doctor? Where will the memorial be? Where will he be buried? Who will get the children? Was there a will? It's been over a week since he died. When do we get back to hard news? Shouldn't this be covered under entertainment news?

This didn't just happen with Michael Jackson. Remember when Anna Nicole was all over the news? That went on and on and on for months! Why does the news media have to act like tabloids? Now I know why my father (rest his soul) got all of his news from reading "The Economist". Our news media is a joke.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

A Charmed Life... Is It Possible?

I have a little book called Creating A Charmed Life by Victoria Moran. The book is made up of suggestions... sensible, creative strategies for coping and thriving. I find inspiration in many of these suggestions. Suggestion number 12 says "Enjoy Your Eccentricities", encouraging the reader to "unearth the whimsical wonders inside you". That appealed to me right away. Just the term "whimsical wonders" inspires me.

Perhaps the most relevant to my current situation is number 16: "Live Your Life in Chapters". It reminds me that I can't have everything at once; my life in Philadelphia was one chapter, and my life here close to my family is another chapter. Realizing this helps me to concentrate on what I am doing now rather than concentrate on what I am missing from the previous chapter of my life. (An exception to this is the friends I made when I lived there; I still cherish them and talk to them and see them as often as I can. That means a lot to me; I wish they were still a part of my everyday life.)

Suggestion number 33 follows logically from there. It is "Seek Compatible Frequencies". What does that mean? She explains it is "finding places where you recognize yourself" and suggests that "we are happiest when surrounded by people and places that are in sync with us". In Philadelphia, this was true for me. I felt in sync with my surroundings. I loved working in the city. I had a job that was ideal for me. I had friends who were soulmates. After I moved here, I felt out of sync. Culturally, politically, socially out of sync. Now I have to work to find places where I can recognize myself, in this different environment.

I am still working to find these places. I grew up near here, and my family is here, but I am a different person now. I no longer recognize myself here. That's a very strange discovery to make. I have found a favorite bookstore, and a favorite coffee shop, but they are both far from my neighborhood. I have made a lot of progress inside my home, making it feel like "home" to me. But, I still need to find more places outside of my home where I feel comfortable. The search continues.