Saturday, February 28, 2009

Paul Harvey: 1918 - 2009

Legendary broadcaster Paul Harvey died today. He was 90 years old, and will be greatly missed.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

The Eye of the Beholder

Art. What is art? I think that depends on who you are. What is one person's art, is another person's...well, trash.

This is my favorite work of art: Vincent Van Gogh's Starry Night. The first time I saw this painting, I had a real emotional reaction to it. I don't know what it is. There's just something about it that gets to me to this day. To me, this is a true work of art.

This is Jackson Pollack's No. 5, 1948. Pollack is one of those artists whose work I just don't understand. To me, it's just a bunch of paint splattered on a canvas, or in this case a piece of fiberboard. I've seen children's fingerpaint pictures that look more like art to me than Pollack's work.

An artist I recently discovered is Charles Bell. My husband, Chris, is a fan as well. He was a photorealist, and when I look as his paintings, I can't believe how much they look like photographs instead of oil paintings. This one is call Marble Swirl.

Chris is also a fan of Leonardo da Vinci (self-portrait above), but not only for his paintings. In actuality, I don't think he really pays much attention to the man's paintings. He likes him for the fact he was what we now call a renaissance man. da Vinci was a scientist, mathematician, engineer, inventor, anatomist, painter, sculptor, architect, botanist, musician and writer. His insatiable curiosity led him to become one of the most diversely talented people to have ever lived. To this day, I can't think of anyone who comes close to this man's talent and achievements.

Most artists seem to agree that even if their work elicits a negative reaction, they've accomplished something. Positive or negative, the goal is to make a person think and react in some way.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Try Something New

Never be afraid to try something new. Especially when it comes to food. As I get older, I have found that my tastes have changed. Even after my hysterectomy about a year and a half ago, I found I liked some things I didn't like before. Odd huh? Must be a hormone thing.

A month or so ago, I decided to give sweet potatoes a try. I don't know if I'd ever actually tried them before. I think I did as a kid. If so, it was more than likely in the form of a casserole at Thanksgiving or some such. Walking through my local grocery store, I noticed how inexpensive these things are, and we all know they are healthy. So, I bought one, brought it home and baked it.

To use a phrase from an old Shirley Temple movie, "Oh my goodness." I love these things. What the heck have I been missing all these years? And I wonder if they are as easy to grow as regular potatoes. I'm still planning my garden after all.

More recently I tried turnips (left, above) and rutabagas (right), two other veggies I have long avoided. They kind of look like the radishe's larger, odd-looking cousins. Should have told me something. Anything that reminds me of a radish deserves a chance. Again, I can't believe what I've been missing all these years. These things are oh so good.

My latest "discovery" is the avocado. Last week, I went to lunch with my friend Liz. We decided on Mexican as we have a pretty good Mexican restaurant here, El Ranchero. (Plus I think Liz likes to flex her Spanish chops.) She ordered guacamole, another food I have always stuck my nose up at...fiercely. Being the brave soul that I am, I let her convince me to try it. And yet again, what the ever-loving heck have I been missing all these years. Then, I tried a slice of avocado that came with our meals. Jeez, I've been in the dark way too long. Those things are pretty darn good.

Definite proof that you should try something new every once in a while. You never know what treasures you will find.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Surfing the 'Net

Wow, over a week since I last updated this blog. Time just goes by too fast sometimes.

Today I'm going to point y'all to some blogs I've come across while surfing. I actually like to go out looking at random blogs using the "next blog" link found at the top of most blog pages. Some of the blogs have links to interesting websites, some have great family stories and yet others simply have photos that I found interesting. The reasons a blog makes my favorites list are many and varied.

At the blog titled Lloyd's Newfoundland Photos (, Lloyd C. Rees posts some great pictures. I especially love the ice photos; nice winter images.

I don't remember what initially interested me in the Billboard Jen blog (, but it does have some interesting links. Like the link to a site where you can see famous paintings recreated with Legos (

The Billboard Jen blog had a link that led me over to the Shakin' & Bakin' blog ( Some interesting things can be found here as well. Such as the link to a site where you can buy anti-theft lunch bags ( These are very interesting. Check them out.

Well, that's enough surfing for this morning. So many blogs, so little time.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Saying Goodbye Part II

My dad's funeral is this afternoon in St. Paul, Minnesota. I could not be there so have said goodbye in my own way.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Courage Campaign

Not long ago, California passed Prop 8 banning gay marriage. Now, attorney Ken Starr has filed a brief that seeks to forcibly divorce the roughly 18,000 same-sex couples who were married before the propostion passed. I love this video. It's very touching and puts a very human face on the whole thing. (You can go to this website and sign the letter for the state supreme court if you wish as well:

"Fidelity": Don't Divorce... from Courage Campaign on Vimeo.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Saying Goodbye to My Dad

I received a call this evening from my stepsister. My dad passed away sometime early this morning. He was battling a malignant brain tumor, and the last time I spoke to him, he actually sounded a bit better. I was hopeful and planned on going to see him in the next month or so. I won't be able to make his funeral on Monday, the tightening of the proverbial money belt has hit so many of us these days, but I do still plan on heading for St. Paul some time to see Sandy, my stepmom, and to visit Dad's grave.

Somewhere I have a picture of Dad giving my first bottle at home on December 24th, 1969. It is the only picture I have of my dad and me. Actually, it is one of only two or three pictures I have of my dad. He wasn't one for having his photo taken. He was the photographer. Any time I visited him (my parents were divorced when I was 4), he seemed to always have a camera at the ready.

Years ago I wrote an essay about how trains reminded me of Dad. He worked for the C&NW railroad. The essay sat on my computer for the longest time until I took it out and dusted it off last year, sending it in to Western North Carolina Woman Magazine for their Y Chromosome issue. That essay can still be found at

Dad and I have never been very close. He wasn't an easy person to get close to. But over the past several years, we kind of found a place where we at least knew what was going on in the other's life. We talked on the phone once in a while, and we emailed each other a bit. (Dad was never a letter writer, so when email came around, it was perfect.) In the last couple of years, Dad seemed different, like maybe he was realizing what he missed out on as the years sailed by.

I didn't grow up with my dad around, so I used to think he really had no influence with me. But, to paraphrase a comment left by Vicki Lane on yesterday's blog, when it comes to parents, even when they're not around, there's still a relationship. For better or worse, they are a part of your life. You just have to take what ever they give you and go from there.

Goodbye, Dad. I will miss you.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Happy Birthday Mom

Today would have been my mother's 73rd birthday. She passed away from leukemia in the summer of 2000 at the age of 64. She lived 8 years with a form of the disease that usually had a survival rate of only 5 years. She had treatments every few months in Bethesda, Maryland at the National Institutes of Health, and it's possible that the only reason she died when she did is because she stopped going for those treatments. She said she simply was tired. Can't blame her for that.

Mom and I didn't have the best relationship in the world. To tell you the truth, she didn't have the best relationship with any of her six kids. She had a hard life growing up, and as an adult didn't make the best of decisions, especially where men were concerned. That being said, it's still an odd feeling to know the one person who was in my life from the very beginning is no longer around.

I decided to go through the few photos I have and pull out the ones of Mom and me together. There aren't many. {I will warn you, the quality isn't too good as 1) the pictures are old and 2) I don't have a scanner so had to use my digital camera to make copies for the blog.}

This one is probably around December 24th, 1969 or so. I was born December 21 and the hospital sent me home on Christmas Eve in a giant Christmas stocking. Cute idea, huh? Check out those curlers in Mom's hair. She used those type of curlers all her life. Heck, it may have even been the same ones all those years. And if you have to go out for any reason with those curlers, you mustn't forget the obligatory scarf. It makes all the difference in the world.

According to the date on the edge of this photo, it was developed in April 1970. It seems in the back recesses of my memory Mom may have said something about this being taken the day I was christened. (Was christened Catholic as a baby, but not raised that way. Long story for another blog. Or for a book.) I love the little dress, but boy what a big head I had. And check out Mom's hair. She always wore it that way. I call it the Steel Magnolia hair. She used to tease it up and shape it into a big, red football helmet. (As opposed to Sally Field's big brown one.) We were living in Minnesota, but Mom never lost her "Southern" hairstyle.

This blurry one is from Christmas 1970, which makes me a year old. I love the blanket sleeper pajamas I'm wearing. Wish I had some now. Mom's hair isn't styled quite as big as in the previous photo, so I guess she wasn't planning on going out anywhere. You can't really tell, but those glasses are the cat's eye style that was so popular back then. (Gotta love the 70's.)

I have no idea where this one was taken, or what year. I'm assuming I'm about 4-years-old or so, as Mom is tying my shoe. (I remember being "forced" one day to finally learn to tie my shoes. Couldn't go outside and play until I tied my own shoes. Sheesh!) It looks like we're in a hotel room. The bedspread looks like another 70's thing, and this has to be the only time I ever saw Mom go out without the big hair. Wow!

No matter how dark some of the water was that flowed under the bridge, I can look back on life with Mom using the eyes of an adult daughter who has learned from her own experiences. She made some wrong choices, but don't we all. And besides that, she taught me a lot. She came from a deep south family with LOTS of prejudices, but she taught me differently. I wish she was alive today if for no other reason than to have been able to see our first black president take the oath of office. I have this mental picture of her calling her family to rub their noses in it. She would have enjoyed that.

And I have to smile when I think of the times Mom came to my rescue. Like once when I was in the third or fourth grade and another girl accused me of cussing at her. (I didn't even know any cuss words back then.) The school was threatening to suspend me. I was devastated. I loved school. I was standing next to Mom when she called the school and told whomever she spoke to that if they tried to suspend me, she would be at the next school board meeting and it would make Harper Valley PTA look tame. To this day, I wonder what she had on those people.

No matter what, life with Mom was interesting. And as I look back, I have to admit there's quite a bit of fodder for my writing back there. Times were tough, but that life made me who I am today.

Thanks Mom. Happy Birthday.

Monday, February 2, 2009

My Newest Photographic Goal

When it comes to taking pictures, I have a new goal.

This is a photo I found on the internet when I ran a Google search for an "albino cardinal." I ran the search because I saw what looked like a white cardinal in one of my trees. I wanted to know if they really existed or if I was seeing things. Low and behold, they do exist.

I have always had a goal of getting a decent picture of a cardinal in the snow. I know I'm not the only one with that goal as I've seen it mentioned on various websites including Ray's Weather. And yes, I still have that goal. But now I have another one added to it.

I will continue watching for this elusive white cardinal, keeping my feeders full in the hopes that she (as I think it was a she) will join the more common red and brown brothers and sisters at the ever present feast. Now that I know she is out there, I will not rest until I get a photo.

Just hope she doesn't become my Moby Dick.