Sunday, August 31, 2008


One of my favorite poems is "Valentine for Ernest Mann" by Naomi Shihab Nye, a poet I've been privileged to meet and host at two different schools. I just read this poem to students on Friday, and every time I read it I think of hearing Naomi read it. It's a beautiful poem that suggests poetry makes the things of the world beautiful when we notice those things, even skunks.

(To hear Naomi read other poems, go here.)

Because I commute more than 100 miles each workday, I see a number of animal corpses along the freeway and highways. I often see skunks and, despite their foul odor, I can't help thinking of them as lovely and soft and innocent animals.

I met a skunk once, when one of my aunts and her then-husband came to visit
. I must have been quite young, as I remember looking up from the driveway into the car window and seeing the skunk slung across my aunt's shoulder like a miniature living shawl. It was so warm and so silky that I have fantasized ever since about having one of my own.

Instead, I have this poem, which I just Wordled (

Valentine for Ernest Mann
by Naomi Shihab Nye

You can't order a poem like you order a taco.

Walk up to the counter, say, "I'll take two"
and expect it to be handed back to you
on a shiny plate.

Still, I like your spirit.
Anyone who says, "Here's my address,
write me a poem," deserves something in reply.
So I'll tell you a secret instead:
poems hide. In the bottoms of our shoes,
they are sleeping. They are the shadows
drifting across our ceilings the moment
before we wake up. What we have to do
is live in a way that lets us find them.

Once I knew a man who gave his wife
two skunks for a valentine.
He couldn't understand why she was crying.
"I thought they had such beautiful eyes."
And he was serious. He was a serious man
who lived in a serious way. Nothing was ugly
just because the world said so. He really
liked those skunks. So, he re-invented them
as valentines and they became beautiful.
At least, to him. And the poems that had been hiding
in the eyes of skunks for centuries
crawled out and curled up at this feet.

Maybe if we re-invent whatever our lives give us
we find poems. Check your garage, the odd sock
in your drawer, the person you almost like, but not quite.
And let me know.

Spend some time today looking for the poem waiting for you and make it beautiful.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Clean Deck

The other day, I posted a photograph of my grungy deck, which has never been properly cleaned or sealed since I moved here in 2002. I suspect the previous owner had not cleaned and sealed the deck in the three years she lived here, and since she was the builder of the house, that means my deck had a reason to be grungy.
Yesterday, however, the deck was pressure-washed in preparation for re-sealing. The porch was cleaned as well for the same purpose. Unfortunately, it stormed as the pressure washing was completed, but the deck is nevertheless much more clean.

I love the way it looks now. Indeed, it reminds me of the sable color of the creek bottom in the yard where I grew up, or of old stones, cobbles maybe, washed by a storm, or my favorite piece of polished agate in my childhood rock collection, striated with ochre and fawn and mahogany and salmon and beetroot.

I shall enjoy the planking now and enjoy it even more when the colors are sealed.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Down in the Hollow

Sometimes, when I drive home at the end of the school day, I avoid the interstate and take one of several long ways. Today, I did that.

I crossed under I-24 along Highway 64 and turned right on old Highway 41/The Murfreesboro Highway to drive alongside lazy cows and spiky purple wild flowers and free-range chickens and sleeping ducks beside a
small pond and munching goats and beautiful rolling fields and hills. Even the names of the side roads and lanes are musical and soothing: Dexter Bush Lane, McBride Branch Road, Daniel Swope Lane, Worthington Lane, French Brantley Road, Huffman Hollow Road,and my favorite, Tillman Hollow Lane, where I stopped to take my rainy-day photograph. Along my route is the little crossing called Noah, where a newly built white Church of Christ sits across from an old general store, where I think someone lives now. Just a bit further down the road, Jo Jo's Java sports a wind turbine that grinds the Bongo Java beans.

Although my commute is long and difficult and tiring, the land and the things it sprouts never cease to calm me. It's my passing painting of green.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Lucy's Chair

I am a cat person who does not collect cat objects -- no cute little knickknacks and silly gewgaws. I like the living animals and their purring and silky fur.

But I also like my friends Diane and Florence who gave me the cat quilt and the cat pillow specifically for Lucy who has her own chair facing the front windows and the bird feeder. (Diane, a fiber artist, made the quilt just for kitties.) The white chair doesn't entirely match the decor of my living room
(for a comparison see my entry about light at night), though I have covered the cushion with the same fabric as my couch, and it sticks out a bit uncomfortably toward the couch.

The thing is, I don't care that it doesn't match. Lucy likes the chair and I like Lucy so much that I want her to have her own chair from which she can admire the wild outdoors to which she otherwise has no access.

When the pressure washers arrive tomorrow and the painters on Monday, I hope she finds some comfort in her nesting place atop Matisse and company.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008


This summer, when I visited my niece and her family in North Carolina, she suggested I join Facebook.

Why, I asked.

Because you connect with old friends, she said.

But I don't want to see what my students are up to, I said.

She said, you'll be sorry. It's great.

So I joined Facebook, and . . .

I can avoid looking at what my students are doing by just not looking at their pages . . .

and I have already connected with many former students from New Orleans. I have seen photos of their weddings and read about babies and upcoming weddings and new jobs and relocations and . . . I love those girls. I mean young women.

And I have missed running into former students and their mothers and fathers at PJ's or Starbucks on Maple Street or at Lebanon's Cafe on Carrollton or at the alum Easter party at McGehee's.

Facebook, as my niece promised, has been a wonderful adventure.

She's a smart cookie.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008


For as long as I can remember, I have loved the play of light: the light that slunk under the shades in my childhood bedroom, circling pools that wound through the fabric pulls; the light splotches in the creek, dappling water and minnow with leaf and sky; the Christmas lights on the bridge and the glass-porch tree with the house otherwise unlit; the startling, ghostly platter of silver moon reflected on the middle Tennessee countryside slathered with untrod snow that I glimpsed from a train window somewhere around 2 or 3 AM in January 1965; the light of my lamps in late night at home.

This is the light I love most now, a splattering of warm yellow on mahogany and Colombian art and Romanian runner and red couch and flowered rug, the light of reading before bed and of quiet at the end of a noisy day. The light makes me feel welcome in and of and to myself.

If I could be anything, I'd be a painter of light and shadow. If I could live anywhere, I'd reside inside the surface of a Caravaggio or a Rembrandt, bathed by light and shadow.

Monday, August 25, 2008

End-of-Summer Gifts

My friends Jill and Ronn shared more of the bounty of their garden: little blue-purple potatoes, one creamy yellow tomato, two lovely little Roma tomatoes, and a whole mess of okra. Theirs is a deer-fencing protected garden, so they manage to grow vegetables (Ronn told me he gave away 30 cucumbers yesterday) and flowers. It's a magical place. And my dinner was equally magical. I'll let the two photographs speak delicious volumes for me. I am saving the glorious okra for tomorrow.(There is no picture for this part of my blog entry. First thing this morning, at school, I did a dumb thing. I am embarrassed to admit that I sent an invitation to Shelfari (originally sent to me by a New Orleans friend back in January) to everyone in my Gmail contacts instead of just to my students, and I did so completely unitentionally! While 16 14-year-olds fluttered about helplessly in class, calling my name and requiring my help, and while the Internet was as slow as lard still in a can, I pushed the wrong button and bingo! 670 contacts got invited! Argh. The great thing is that almost two dozen old friends and former students emailed me! One is an oil engineer in Texas; one is teaching in NOLA; an old friend from Vanderbilt updated me on his family from South America; one lives in Oregon and teaches online with Kaplan University; two mothers of former students wrote me about their reading; and a McGehee graduate of 1972 said I was the best thing to happen to her in an otherwise hectic day. Something good can come even from a careless mistake, and that's even better than my dinner!)

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Rainy Day?

With luck, the droplets of rain I captured on my deck about thirty minutes ago bode more to come.

This didn't begin as a dry summer, but it certainly became one and with a vengeance. My oak leaf hydrangea and dogwoods are suffering. One white azalea looks as if it's about to lose its fight for survival. I already lost my lovely little star magnolia, which crackled to the touch. And the deer have come out of the woods, in search of food and water.

What to others in Florida brought flooding and misery in the form of tropical storm Fay might bring to us some small relief. According to the National Weather Service of NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration),


The rain would be a welcome visitor indeed. I'm keeping my fingers crossed.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Pooh on the Window Ledge

Margi was one of four eight-year-old campers in my first-ever cabin as a counselor at Camp Green Cove, Junior 1. In arts-and-crafts, she made this wonderful little Winnie-the-Pooh for me. I've always set it in my kitchen or on my bedroom chest-of-drawers. Here, he has a place of honor in my window just above my kitchen sink.
 I see him many times of the day, and I remember Margi and summer camp and my friend Susan Little and my mother (who read me Winnie-the-Pooh and The House at Pooh Corner.

Susan and I became friends at camp, where on days off at 17, we paraded down the main street of Hendersonville, North Carolina, in yellow rain slickers and high black waders. We loved dressing like Christopher Robin and leaving "sustaining missages" on the Lodge tables at meals and delivering them at activities and reading Pooh stories at campfire. Indeed, when a new building was added to Junior Line, we christened it "The House at Pooh Corner" and renamed the cabins after Hundred Acre Wood sites.

Susan died years ago after suffering from multiple sclerosis, and my niece and nephew never loved Pooh as much as I. However, there are four little ones in the family now, and soon I plan to start reading them A. A. Milne's stories about his son's stuffed animals and then illustrated in books by the wonderful E. H. Shepard before they get indoctrinated by the awful Disney versions.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Fluid Metal

Today, after school, I had an appointment in Manchester, a town between Bell Buckle and Sewanee through which I generally drive at 70 mph along I-24. I drove off the freeway and, within a couple of miles, found myself on a beautiful old street with fabulous late 19th-century houses. What caught my eye, though, was this beautiful fence, bent and scuffed with age but nonetheless standing.

I was mesmerized by its gentle and humble design and by its iron will. I felt as if the fence were offering me a life-lesson: withstanding whatever comes, being what I am in the moment without thinking about who I have been and who I might become.

Even if the appointment had been disappointing (and it wasn't), I would have taken away the beauty of fluid metal.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

We Three Angels

Caption: "We 3 are really Hood(lums) / But, at this time of year, / We make out like we're angels / And spread the Christmas cheer."

Christmas 1947. My first Christmas. Billy, on my right, was 7, and David, with the blond crew cut, was 5.

I noticed this photograph when I came home this afternoon. I turned on a living room lamp, turned around, and saw this one -- among other family snaps -- on the little table my brother Billy bought for me on eBay. Our happy faces (especially mine) remind me of the little children now in our family -- four of them under five (but not for long).

Every year our parents made our Christmas cards, at least until Mother died in 1963. Most often, Daddy would design the card, and Mother would write it. On this treasured photograph I'm certain Daddy took and probably even printed, Mother has written the caption in red ink. This beautiful card is one of the few things I still have that brings my parents together in a palpable way that feels like family.

Childhood was a grand time when everything ahead seemed magic beyond belief. I loved my childhood, and I love my brothers and parents.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Greeks Bearing Gifts

On Saturday (registration day), Mary P came running up to my table in the gym, squealing. She had spent the summer in Spain with a school program and then in Greece, of which her father is a native. She looked radiantly happy to be back at school and to see me.

She was in one of my sophomore English classes last year. She attacked her learning with enthusiasm, curiosity, and good cheer. When her advisor, one of my closest friends at school, told her advisees that she was leaving, Mary P asked if I'd be her advisor. I'm honored. Truly.

She brought me this little refrigerator magnet and a beautiful postcard of the blue blue sea surrounding Greece. Little does she know that once I was a Hellenophile, that I have always dreamed of going to Greece, that I studied ancient Greek and Greek history and classical drama and Greek art and architecture. Some day, some day, I'll see these beautiful whitewashed houses clinging to the rocks and looking out on the sea.

In the meantime, this magnet cheers me every time I pass the fridge.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

A Welcome Sight

What a lovely thing it is to come home in the evening to my home.

Tiny white lights have always pleased and calmed me. My mother never allowed colored lights on our Christmas tree, saying that "only common people" have colored lights. Ours were always white, and when they were invented, ours were always tiny. At night during Christmas season, I loved
going into the living room alone, where I played carols, reading music from a little yellow and green book, on the piano my mother brought into the house. I then lay on the green rug in the living room and watched the twinkle of the tree on the large front porch, glassed in for winter. If I was lucky, Daddy had earlier lit a fire, which crinkled and popped behind me. If I close my eyes now, I can still see the beautiful white-and-green tiles, surrounding the fireplace. I remember Mother designing, painting, and firing them in the basement. (Six now form the top of a brass table Daddy made for me years ago.)

Somehow, subconsciously, the Christmas lights I hang all year long on my front porch echo my childhood, when I slept all night along, in a room on the first floor with my parents who loved me down a long hall and my brothers who loved me on the floor above.

Even though they aren't all still alive, they still love me and always will.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Homegrown Cukes!

Ooh, boy, what a gift! Awaiting me on my porch when I got home from school today was this lovely environmentally friendly bag with homegrown cukes from the garden of my friends Jill and Ronn. Wowee zowee. One of them is so small and sweet that it already looks like one of my favorite things in the world: a snappy Kosher pickle. I can't wait to eat these little babies, starting tonight.

The best Kosher pickles I ever ate were placed in plastic tubs, generously free for the taking, at a wonderful little Jewish deli called The Buttery. It was in Mountain Brook Village throughout my childhood and teen years, but has since been replaced by some tony clothing or sports shop. The buttery had four things I really love: lovely garlicky pickles; melt-in-your-mouth blintzes; hot pastrami sandwiches on strong rye bread; and New York cheesecake so smooth and slightly lemony that one bite convinced your mouth that it and you had entered nirvana. I still mourn the disappearance of The Buttery.

One more reason to remember it. On an evening outing there with my widowed father and my brother David, he actually held the door open for me -- an important first. I remember being so shocked that I was mute, something I'm not known for.

And to think: all this remembering started with a gift from a friend's garden!

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Lucy Meets Rick Steeves

Lucy doesn't travel well, usually meowling loudly any time I struggle to contain her in her travel box. That difficulty, however, doesn't keep her from demonstrating interest in my travel box, in this instance my newly arrived rollaboard from Rick Steeves.

For some time, I have known my inexpensive rollaboard, purchased more than a decade ago for my idyllic summer in Oxford, was going to break. In North Carolina, at my friend Leslie's house, it did just that. Had she not known about zippers because of her hobby of sewing, I'd not have been able to get at my clothes . She simply inserted a long knitting needle into the zipper and broke the teeth apart. The whole suitcase has now gone to the dump.

After researching rollaboards online for several hours, comparing features and prices, I decided to order something better than the discount-store one I dumped. Hence, the Rick Steeves bag from around which Lucy peers. I hope it's as lovely and useful as she.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Friday Night Movies

I have an elderly friend who loves movies and ice cream, and since I love movies and ice cream, we have a mutually beneficial agreement: almost every Friday night, I bring the movie (courtesy of Netflix) and she supplies the ice cream.

Last night when I arrived, she was doing her breathing exercises. Since my great-nieces have been hooked up to similar equipment before, I knew that even though the contraption looked scary, it actually isn't. But she looked sort of strange, sitting on her throne (her couch), surrounded by miscellaneous articles and newspapers and books, tissues and TV clickers, food packets and the like. I just had to take her picture.

Once she finished and I made my bowl of German chocolate cake and she got her leftovers for dinner, we watched a terrific movie -- Charlie Wilson's War. I'm not exactly sure how much of it is historical, but it was a thrilling political film that suggests some of the previous wrong steps we've taken to lead to our current global conflict with Islamists.

By the way, here's an amusing note about Marymor (nicknamed Boo): she was in the very first class at Metairie Park Country Day School and, as a child, lived in the old McGehee's building on Louisiana Avenue. Small world department strikes again!

Friday, August 15, 2008


When I was student, I never thought about work my teachers did, not even of the work my really good teachers did, like Jan Sawls Mims or Margaret Gage or Lloyd Stow or Milly S. Barranger or Ljubica Popovich or Gerald Chapman. I guess I just thought they taught on the basis of divine inspiration.


It's hard to teach well. I should know. I've been doing it for more than 25 years, and while the classroom part has become easier, the preparation hasn't.

The keys to good teaching are two: planning and writing down the planning. That's what I'm doing now before school starts Monday. I've been here at my desk since 9 this morning. And I'll be here tomorrow afternoon and Sunday as well. I thought quietly all summer, and now I have finally started spitting it all out -- bit by carefully considered bit.

It's exciting and exhausting both.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

The One and Only Lady

There are dogs, but there is only one Lady and she calls me "aunt." She loves me and I love her.
I met Lady in July 2001, when I was new to Bell Buckle and she was still a youngun. As you can see, she has a gray chin now. (I have aged, too.) But another thing about her has also changed: she has grown to think of me as family, and I the same of her.

She first visited me every morning when I lived across the street from her human companions, my friends Florence and Jere. She'd trot over, sniff around, stand off in front of the bushes at first, but soon clamber up the steps onto the porch where I loved to sit, let me pet her, lean on me, and lie down next to me and let me rub her tummy till one of her companions came to take her home. Later as a teen, she and her sister Princess (who stood on her front feet to pee!) came to visit me in Sewanee. After taking a tour of my downstairs, Lady slept for the night in my entryway. Now when I stay at her house because I have to work late into the night at school, she doesn't even stir in the morning when I leave, thinking of me as one of her own.

What I love most about Lady is simple: when I enter her yard and she hears my voice, she charges me, pawing me to pet her and, whining/grunting, wiggles her whole body with pure joy and begs to hold her, rub her, talk to her, love her. No matter what anyone thinks of me, Lady loves me as only a niece can.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

A Book Fetish

I love books. I love everything about them -- the smell of the paper, the way they feel in my hand, the different typefaces and methods of pagination and decoration, their covers and cover art, dedications and epigraphs, blurbs, ideas and words and typos and . . . well you get the idea.

I used to have one book wall, with enough shelves to leave quite a lot of room for more books. That was six years ago. Now I have a book corner too. And I've eaten up almost all of that space. I have a perfectly good library here at the college, but leave it to me to want to read things I can't find there.

Like this little book I bought
through Alibris.

What makes it so special, you wonder? My friend Jill wrote it. I read about it on her blog and decided I wanted to read it and own it. I don't personally know many actual published writers. Yes, there are my sometime neighbor and Naomi Shihab Nye and my own brother Billy. And there are Milly Barranger and Andrew Hudgins and now John Jeremiah Sullivan. But in the grand universe of things, they number few. Some of them are really just acquaintances anyway, but Jill is a real friend with a great eye for detail, an incisive wit, and keen intelligence.

Oh. Did I mention she has a beautiful garden and a yen for cats and dogs? And now I have one of her books. It's next on my Shelfari list of things to read.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

The Return of the Bold Deer

Just as has been true of ants, I have learned that movies also mislead us about deer. As a child, I cried and cried during Bambi. Once, I longed for a dotted fawn when I read Marjorie Kinnan Rawling's lovely The Yearling.

Now that I have lived with deer every day since December 2002 (I once counted 13 of them one Sunday in my front yard) and now that I personally know two people who have suffered from Lyme disease (happily not here from our deer) and now that I have spent more than $200 on plants that have summarily been eaten to the ground, I think of them as pests, not as pets or cute Disneyesque figures. I have also learned that chuffing loudly at them while simultaneously
stomping my feet on hard ground will make them turn and run. The problem is that they come in droves anyway -- at night, in early morning, during the day -- and munch away and munch away and munch away. Ach du lieber!

Today's visitor to the edge of my yard tried to stare me down. I won.

(By the way, the Terro terrorized the ants. They have now disappeared!)

Monday, August 11, 2008

Garden Art

On the McMinnville Highway, close to the town, is a beautiful garden-art lot filled with large and small, exotic and native, human and animal statues. I only wish I had had time to stop on my way into town. When I was heading out, the yard was already closed and the gates locked.

Among the many statues that looked nearly regal in the setting sun were a chicken almost as tall as me, a soldier carrying a wounded baby in the direction of a four-foot monkey (dressed like those drumming and
cymbal-crashing monkeys on Daddy Will's wind-up toys), a red-and-white hunting dog taller than the brown pony next to it, a black horse, a fat and satisfied pig,a wingspread eagle, and a jumping fish. Across the way, a row of saints seemed to march in their direction, and all faced the zooming traffic.

These concrete fancies decorate another concrete construction, the strip of Highway 55 along which, happily, other gardens grow -- nursery after nursery after nursery filled with trees and shrubs of every kind.

As Alice Walker said, we are all gardeners of some kind.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Good Friends and a Beautiful Environment

Even on a day when I feel a bit challenged or blue, a visit from a good friend, a somewhat sappy movie (Rails and Ties), quiet time on the deck, and a beautiful environment can still me. That's what happened this weekend when my friend Florence came for the afternoon, night, and morning. I have been blessed with her friendship and persistence and wisdom.

Yesterday, we walked around Lake Cheston, where she had not previously been. We had to keep stopping to ooh and ah at the plants and views through the trees. This morning, after made-from-scratch pancakes and good coffee, we walked through Abbo's Alley and marveled at the bridges and memorials throughout the forested garden.

This visit was the balm I needed.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Flowers on the Inside

In North Carolina, I also gifted myself (and my friend Florence) with a nifty little glass vase that hangs on the inside of a window. Some days, when the world seems a bit more difficult than usual, having even one cheerful little blossom in view is enough to cheer me up.

Friday, August 8, 2008


In North Carolina, I exercised a good deal of self-control, buying very little. But . . . I could not resist this little papier-mache fellow I saw hanging in a cooperative gallery window (along with other birds including a bluebird, a cardinal, and a goldfinch).

Owls fascinate me: they eat the entire object of prey; you must look hard to see one; they make fantastic noises. Once, an owl alighted on a deck rail while Lucy and I relaxed in the late afternoon. It landed, briefly, directly above her, and only as I registered it on its taking off did I see the baby cardinal in its talons. Another time, in mid-summer, at about 2:30 am before my graduate class began its study of Thoreau's Walden, I awakened suddenly to the deep-chested hoo-hoo-hooing of a barred owl, which must have been perched at the peak of the roof directly above my bedroom window. Just as silently as it had arrived, it disappeared after four haunting cries. As suddenly as I had awakened, I fell back into deep sleep. Another time, my friends Florence and Jere and I saw a white owl swoop across the hood of my car as we drove home from Trink's after enjoying the evening performance of the College's Lessons and Carols. In my book, owls are majestic and mysterious.

Some Native Americans say that when the owl calls your name, you're going to die. This I remember from a beautiful little book called I Heard the Owl Call My Name. I doubt this legend, but I long to have another owl visit my house in the stillness of night.

Thursday, August 7, 2008


Those movies never tell the truth. Ants are not cute! Especially when they invade your kitchen and you can't get rid of them. Even though I was away for almost a week and have been scrupulously clean since returning, they too have returned.

After an internet search for a solution, I happened upon advice
offered by Katie and Jeffrey who wrote in to Thrift They suggested one commercial solution: a product called Terro.

After seeing the doctor in Winchester yesterday, I went to Walmart, asked for Terro, and came home wondering if I had finally found the miracle solution. At first, I watched the little ants scoot right past the bait trap on the end of the counter where I had seen them slinking along under the Cedge.

Then, bingo!
I looked down when I was peeling a cucumber and a whole colony were dining on the sweet poison I had placed near the deck door! Patience, Robley, patience. It's a virtue. Those little buggers are spreading the good news to the home colony. Many more will return.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Charles and Ray Eames

Stamps are expensive these days, but that doesn't mean they have to be boring. When I went to the post office yesterday to buy three lovely summer-fruit postcard stamps (I forgot to mail the postcards from North Carolina, of course), I also bought 42-cent stamps.

I asked the woman at the counter for commemoratives. (I never buy the regular stamps, which are always a little too patriotic or too blah for me.) She said they didn't have any really pretty ones at the moment and proceeded to show me two different kinds of hearts, Frank Sinatra, and something about baseball.

Just when I was thinking she was right, she turned the page to the Charles and Ray Eames stamps, one of which had just arrived on an envelope at my house. How could she say these weren't beautiful? I love them!
I don't know much about architecture and decorative arts, but I know I love some of their furniture. And I did not know until I read the back of my stamps that they were a married couple! How could I have missed that before?My favorite chair (on the lower right) is called the "molded plywood chair." Here's what the stamp sheet says: "The molded plywood chair was affordable, comfortable, and could be used in virtually any setting -- qualities inherent in most pieces of Eames furniture. It was also one of the Eameses' most popular designs. Introduced in 1946, the chair was mass-produced using a method for bending or molding plywood that they had developed during the 1940s." I'm not sure these are still so affordable. A Herman Miller reproduction can be purchased on eBay as of this moment for $355.90!

The Library of Congress has posted a terrific website about the Eameses. Another terrific site has been posted by the Design Museum.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Daily Kibble

Instead of posting my own picture today, I want to write about two great websites.
The first is Free Kibble. A ten-year-old who loves animals took on her own public service project. With the support of her parents, she started companion websites you can visit every day. When you answer the cat or dog trivia question, you contribute to the feeding of sheltered animals. The websites are modeled on other nonprofit support sites. To contribute, go to FreeKibbleKat or FreeKibble.

Another site I love was sent to me by a former student now at Oberlin. It's called Free Rice. You'll contribute grains every time you know the meaning of a vocabulary word. Try it!

The web can make you feel good even when you don't!

Monday, August 4, 2008

Calligraphic Gift

Years ago, before I left McGehee's, where I taught for 18 years and student-taught before that, the mother of a graduating senior gave me a gift that I see every day: a calligraphic quotation. With cheerful, multi-colored Where's Waldo-type characters surrounding it, the text box reads: "The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes. -- Marcel Proust." When the mother gave me this gift, she thanked me for helping her daughter gain new eyes.I remember both women fondly. (The daughter, whom I taught in English 8, 10, and 12, is now 27, so "woman" is indeed the suitable word.) The daughter was somewhat shy and self-conscious in school. By the time she was a senior, she had become more assertive and a much better student of language and composition and literature.

Looking at this gift reminds me that even when students or parents or fellow faculty claim I am too demanding, I have made a difference for some people, Sally included.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

North Carolina

A photographic celebration of a delightful trip to North Carolina (July 28-August 2), where I enjoyed beautiful scenery, exotic animals, beloved family, treasured friends, fine food, rain and sunshine, beautiful spaces, and crafty shopping.