Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Discrimination and Prejudice

Follow this link (HERE) to note the source and view some interesting tweets.



Monday, March 28, 2016

Grimm Characters with Guns

I loved fairy tales when I was a child.  Not the cleaned up Disney versions, the real ones translated from the German in the Brothers Grimm collections.  Some of them were very dark and horrid but I loved the evil and the plot twists.  One never knew who was going to eat the innocents or who was going to turn into a prince.  I never was one for the "happily ever after" ending where the good always wins out.  I was more "all's well that ends well," because sometimes it's all right if good doesn't win.

So I may have enjoyed the newly released re-telling of two famous fairy tales by the National Rifle Association (NRA).  On the other hand I might have thought the revisions of Hansel and Gretel and Little Red Riding Hood a bit too tame for my taste.  Nobody gets killed or eaten and the children follow all the rules of safety.

One revision is called "Hansel and Gretel (Have Guns)."  Hansel and Gretel leave home not because they were sent away, but because they have guns.  The family is near starving, and they somehow know some areas deep in the forest that have not been hunted.  After killing several animals, including a magnificent 10-point buck, they head toward home but lose their way.  They come upon a witch's gingerbread house but dare not approach since they had been taught not to speak to strangers.  They hear whimpering and find two boys in cages inside the witch's house.  Gretel keeps her gun at the ready while Hansel rescues the boys.  They all go home to the rejoicing parents, delighted with the meat supply the children brought.  The two rescued boys are reunited with their parents and the villagers set off to hunt down the witch.  She is captured without a single shot being fired and the sheriff locks her up in her own cage.  After a very successful hunt, the villagers have a feast, eating the witch's cottage for dessert.

Illustrations taken from the Internet
Hansel and Gretel with their guns.
(note that Gretel has a pistol in addition to her rifle)

The other revision is Little Red Riding Hood, now called "Little Red Riding Hood (Has a Gun)."  Seems that Red has taken lessons and carries her very own rifle.  After all, she is walking alone in the woods.  In this telling, Red sees the wolf as she is carrying the goodies to gramma.  The wolf tries to approach her with his cunning grin, but Red puts her rifle in place and the wolf takes off.  Red decides to take a little rest.

Meanwhile, back at gramma's place, a knock on the door surprises gramma.  She isn't expecting Red quite so soon.  There stands the wolf, not just any wolf, but the Big Bad Wolf.  They proceed through the usual, "My, what big eyes you have" routine as gramma inches toward the shotgun she keeps by the door.  The wolf is dismayed to hear the sound of the click when gramma took off the safety.  Dratted luck.  He WOULD have to run into two family members who know how to protect themselves.  As luck would have it, there are hunters looking for the wolf and they happen on the scene.  While gramma holds the gun pointed at the wolf's face, the hunters tie him up and take him away.  And gramma and Red enjoy some tea and chicken soup.

Gramma aiming at Big Bad

The NRA strongly focuses on gun training for children.  They have an interesting section on their Website in which people can send in stories and photographs of their first guns.

Photographs from the NRA Website
You can link HERE if you wish

This little boy knows all about gun safety.

I'm really not so sure about this little guy's knowledge level.

A disclaimer:  My father was a hunter.  He kept several hunting rifles for various uses.  I learned to shoot at an early age although I never wanted to go hunting.  My brother is a contributing NRA member who owns a very large collection of guns and fears that President Obama in particular and for some reason the Democrats in general, want to take all his guns away.

I believe everyone has a right to own as many reasonable firearms as he or she wishes.  The key words are "own" and "reasonable." There are few reasons for citizens to actually carry guns except for hunting or when their personal safety might be at risk.  And even then, no one outside the military battlefield should even own, much less carry, a high-powered assault rifle.  (Otherwise more gently known as "tactical rifle" or even "modern sporting rifle.")

There are many reasons I do not support the NRA.  My biggest concern is the tremendous power they now have over the legislative branch of our government.  And their steadfast position that loss of ANY control over firearms is a slippery slope ending with taking away all guns.  They want no limitation whatsoever on owning or carrying guns of any kind.  With no attempts to be subtle, the Senate Majority Leader has openly said he will not bring to committee a Supreme Court nominee not supported by the NRA.  Seriously Mr. McConnell?  That is a litmus test for a justice?  They already hold tremendous power over the Congress and Senate and now they should have the same power over the judicial branch of government?

Back to the fairy tales.  I have absolutely no problem with the revision of the fairy tales.  The illustrations show the children to be old enough to handle a gun, although Red may be marginal.  And the tales reinforce the necessity of gun training and safety.  No one is forcing anyone to read them.  No one is putting them in front of your children.  You have to go looking for them.

Would I have read these stories to my own children?  No.  But then again, I also did not read the original Grimm stories to them either.

Friday, March 25, 2016

We Love Lucy

This has been a very busy and frightening week.  The terrorist attacks in Brussels reminded us once again how vulnerable we are to evil people who are willing to die in order to murder innocents if that will generate fear in the hearts and souls of everyone.  Just when we thought politics couldn't get much more disgusting, the candidates proved us wrong by attacking the previously sacrosanct family members of opponents.  And here in North Carolina our General Assembly has given its collective blessing to those who would discriminate against LGBT individuals.

I could write multiple posts on those things, but this is Friday.  And my Friday posts are set aside for dogs and the genuine love and comfort we give and receive from them.

What could be sweeter than a dog sleeping among her pillows?

Actually, it was even sweeter back when Ellie was among us.
We often saw two dogs sleeping in one bed.
When the bed is big...

or when the bed is smaller

While we will always miss our dear Ellie, we do love our Lucy.  She is still young at heart and just as silly as ever.  She brings great joy to our lives.

If you are celebrating Easter, I hope you have a wonderful weekend.  If you are not celebrating Easter, I still hope you have a wonderful weekend.  And I hope that Spring will come soon to everyone.

Today's quote is from a great American poet, Edna Dean Proctor:

I think of the garden after the rain;
And hope to my heart comes singing,
'At morn the cherry-blooms will be white,
And the Easter bells be ringing!'


Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Sometimes You Need Stillness and Calm

Some days I am so filled with the horrors of the world that I just withdraw from it.  I reflect on the things that I am so grateful for and the beauty that surrounds me.  Sometimes it's as simple as watching the bare branches clipped from our Forsythia and brought inside to open.

The Forsythia is rooting in the water.  The buds have fully blossomed.
 I will transplant it when the frost danger is over.
You can fill your yard with this lovely plant in this manner.

The quote on the plaque reads:
The South
The place where...1. Tea is sweet and the accents are sweeter   2. Summer starts in April
3.  Macaroni and cheese is a vegetable  4.  Front porches are wide and long
5.  Pecan pie is a staple  6.  Y'all is the only proper noun  7.  Chicken is fried and
biscuits come with gravy  8.  Everything is Darlin'  9.  Someone's heart is always being blessed.

The carving above the plaque is a dogwood limb.  Our State flower.  And don't try to tell us that the Dogwood is a tree.  Our State tree is the pine. The dogwood blossom is our flower.

I get a great deal of pleasure in watching our birds.  Every now and then we see birds that are common to our area but not commonly seen at our house.  Such is the Yellow-throated Warbler.  Those sightings give me peace of mind.

Yellow-throated Warbler in our tree

Then he actually hopped onto the deck.  What a treat.

Another way I find stillness and calm is with music.  I recently purchased a set of really good wireless headphones.  I've never been fond of earbuds, not even the newer ones.  With the very comfortable earphones I can move around without being tethered to my iPod.  And they are so perfectly noise-reducing, I can listen to music while my husband is watching television.

I find stillness and calm in knitting.  There is something very pleasing about seeing something start from a ball of yarn and turn into something beautiful.  Like this (poorly photographed) yellow baby blanket.  I'm not creative at all, but knitting a complex scarf or a simple blanket makes me feel as if I have created something.  (Never mind that it came from someone else's creative pattern)  I'm sure it must be a fraction of what writers, potters, and other artisans feel when they complete their works.

And I find stillness and calm with books.  They take me totally away from all the troubled times and worries about our Nation and our world.  Right now I am reading the memoir of one of my favorite writers, Lee Smith.

I am loving this book for many reasons.  Smith grew up in a small mountain town much like my own hometown.  She grew up in a time when children's activities were not scheduled all summer but they were allowed to roam freely and make their own fun.  So did I and those times are gone forever.  Her writing is always strong and she tells her story in an interesting manner.  So this book gives me stillness and calm as well.  No suspense, no intrigue, no twisting plots.  Just excellent writing.  My only criticism is that it's over far too soon, leaving me wanting more.

I hope that you can find things that give you stillness and calm.

Our thoughts go out to all those who suffered in any way from the Brussels attacks.  And to the refugees who are dying by the hundreds trying to escape terrorism.  And to all those in need no matter why or where they are.

Monday, March 21, 2016

It's Getting Time Here in the East

The much-anticipated 2016 Ruby-throated Hummingbird migration has begun.  A few birds are already reported as far north as North Carolina and Tennessee.  So despite our brief chilly weather Spring has definitely appeared.

You can click to enlarge
Better yet, click on the link provided below to go to the Website

The tracking and reporting interactive map is posted HERE.  Keep in mind these are not scientific reports, but reports from anyone.  If you see a Ruby-throated Hummingbird in your area and it hasn't been reported, you can click on the map and report it.

Watch the map and put out your nectar before the birds have entered your area.  I am not aware that there is any tracking map for other types of hummingbirds.

I am fascinated and frustrated every year by watching the progress of the migration.  Invariably the little buggers are reported to our east and west, to our south and north before we have them.  I think it is because we are only a mile or so from the Southern Blue Ridge Escarpment where the mountains rise up sharply above the land on the South Carolina border.

But come they will and we will delight in their presence.  Something about the tiny birds fills us with joy.

And the humming-bird that hung
Like a jewel up among
The tilted honeysuckle horns
They mesmerized and swung
In the palpitating air,
Drowsed with odors strange and rare.
And, with whispered laughter, slipped away
And left him hanging there.
– James Whitcomb Riley

Hummingbirds in our yard
Arguing over the feeder as they are wont to do

Friday, March 18, 2016

We Love Lucy

We are almost there.  After what was a relatively mild winter, we shouldn't be quite so anxious for Spring.  But we are nonetheless.  And it's officially coming this weekend.  Yes, we will have more chilly weather.  In fact, after a week of significantly warmer temperatures we are expecting some freezing weather to welcome Spring.  But it won't last long for us.

A lot of gardeners got so carried away with the warm weather they did more than they knew was prudent.  And they will suffer a bit for that.  But as with all gardeners they will move forward when the real Spring weather is here for good.

Lucy really enjoys the cool mornings, but the sun during the day is already too warm for her liking.  Thank goodness for the NCAA Tournament.  It keeps my husband in the den with the wide-screen.  Her bed and Ellie's bed are side by side in the den and she enjoys both of them.  She can sleep in either one, or sometimes in both at once.

The blue tug is never far away

Judy Woodruff of PBS Newshour made a special comment about the family shown on my last post.  She said the producers had not noticed the significance of the two tattoos on the hands of the woman in the interview.  One of them is a neo-Nazi symbol and the other is a white supremacy logo.  Ms. Woodruff said they contacted the woman after receiving a lot of comments from viewers.  The woman said they were "Christian symbols" and she had no knowledge of any other message.  On a personal note, I think it a bit unusual that someone could get not one, but two such hate-filled and inflamatory tattoos and not know their meaning.  But that's her story and she's sticking with it.

For many Christians, the Lenten season is drawing to a close with Palm Sunday this Sunday and Holy Week beginning.

And for all of us in the Northern Hemisphere, Sunday marks the first day of Spring.  For us in the Eastern Time Zone of the US, the vernal equinox will occur at 12:30 AM.  For others to our west, the equinox will occur late on Saturday.  But the first full day of Spring will be on Sunday for everyone in the United States.

This unseasonably warm weather has made me think of Mark Twain's quote:

It’s spring fever. That is what the name of it is.
And when you’ve got it, you want — oh, you don’t quite know what it is you do want, but it just fairly makes your heart ache, you want it so!



Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Too Informed

I get most of my news from Newshour and reliable Internet sources.  I find the PBS program usually represents both sides of an issue.  But last night's program gave a very false impression of voters in North Carolina.  They interviewed a family of devoted DJT supporters.  And while the people definitely represent the stereotypical DJT supporters in NC, they do not represent mainstream North Carolina.  And Newshour did not have anyone on the program who supported any other candidate in our primary.  To their credit, they did indicate the segment was intended to be a profile of Trump voters in NC.  But it did not focus on other Trump supporters, only this family.

The overwhelming theme of the three-generation family interviewed was this common one, "He tells it like it is."  The family Newshour focused on is barely making ends meet and they see DJT as their best hope of improving their lot in life because, as they said, "He has always been a good businessman."  It became rather clear that the family knew little about the man they so strongly support except that he is tired of political correctness.  The family is tired of having to make any accomodation to the language and ethnicity of "outsiders."  They should learn English and conform to the American way if they want to live here.  They are not concerned about the treatment of protesters at the DJT rallies.  They are tired of hearing "black lives matter."  The family prayed together, "Father God, we thank you that you are going to  use Donald Trump for your glory and your kingdom oh Father God.  Amen."  The patriarch of the family has never worked on a campaign before.  The thirty-three year old daughter-in-law has never voted before.  Her husband has always been a registered Democrat.  Yet all three and other members of the family are volunteering in the DJT office.  Even the 11-year-old grandson was kept out of school to make phone calls on behalf of the candidate.  If you missed the interview on Newshour, you can access it (HERE).
[LATE ENTRY:  Someone pointed out that the tattoos on the hands of the woman are in fact white supremacy and Nazi in nature.  I had not recognized them but I think their presence explains a lot about her and her beliefs.] 

I have no problem with supporters of any candidate as long as they are informed about who the candidate is and what positions the candidate takes.  And this should include some information about his or her plans for being President of the United States.  I support everyone's right to believe in different approaches to government's roles than I do.  But I do have a problem with voters who enjoy the rhetoric and drama.  Who enjoy the blunt, often rude words of a candidate and see that as the most important quality that draws them to the candidate.

So the primary votes here in NC are over and DJT overwhelmingly won the Republican Primary.  Perhaps the family can now go home until the process is complete and they have a candidate who is nominated.

All right.  I admit it.  My other two sources for news are from John Oliver and Samantha Bee.  But I do recognize that they generally focus on my own point of view.  And I know their "news" is one-sided.  But they do indeed "tell it like it is." Perhaps I'm not so different from the NC family interviewed on Newshour.  Just another side of the same coin.

Whether or not my views on politics are accurate, and whether or not they are in agreement with yours, I do make them based on finding as much information as I can.  And I do listen to opposing viewpoints even when it might be painful.  And I do try to understand the other points of view.  I'm rather like my little cartoon friend.  Whom I still miss very much.

Here in NC we can breathe a sigh of relief.  The phones will be more silent for a while.  We will no longer overhear political conversations in the grocery store.  At least for a while.  And life on the mountains will go on.  And we will enjoy it.

Monday, March 14, 2016

Cloudy Skies

Our weekend brought clouds and rain as well as bright sunshine.  Much warmer than normal temperatures felt like spring is already here.  The most amazing thing about the sky was the constant change.  Since we cannot see large expanses of sky, we do not see far into the distance.  Thus, the weather seems to change abruptly since we cannot see it coming.  The clouds have been moving so fast that even the most threatening ones don't bother us very much.  They, too, will pass away.

The sky is dark, but the sun is still there illuminating the clouds.

Things change very quickly from minute to minute.

I absolutely love the wide range of sky one can see in lower elevations further from the mountains.  Especially the clouds at the beach.  But we get what we get.  And usually that's enough.

We are looking forward to our Presidential primaries here in NC tomorrow.  Perhaps that will put an end to the barrage of phone calls we receive.  Who knew there were so many exceptions to the "Do Not Call" listings?

And most of us have caught March Madness, especially with our TarHeels given a top seed.  Let the games begin.

Friday, March 11, 2016

We Love Lucy

Spring has come here in the mountains.  Yes, we know it is temporary.  And yes, we know there will be more chilly weather.  But I'm going to enjoy it while it's here.  And I won't lament the chilly weather too much because I know it will have a short life.  This time of year we focus a lot of discussion around the subject of open windows.  I love having the windows open.  Unfortunately both my husband and I have spring allergies so open windows mean increasing allergy meds (which we both hate) or dealing with runny noses and sneezes (which we both hate).  Or both (which we both hate even more).  So we will likely tolerate the pollen outdoors but keep it out of the house as much as possible.

Lucy loves being outdoors in all sorts of weather with the exception of rain.  But she also loves relaxing inside.  She is still loving her pillows and rearranges them all the time.  Thank goodness everything has removable washable covers.

Taking advantage of three pillows.  Another pillow is unseen at her rear.
Yes, she has pillows everywhere except under her head.
Her ear provides a great sleeping mask.

Daylight Savings Time arrives this weekend for most of our country and Spring officially arrives the following weekend.  My oldest surviving aunt hates daylight time and laments the fact that the number of DST days has substantially increased.  I suppress a laugh every time we talk about it because she invariably says, "I hate it!  I hate it!  I hate it!"  Always three times in a row.  And said with great disgust.  And when we switch back to standard time, she says, "I'm so glad to see that daylight time gone.  I hate it!  I hate it!  I hate it!"  Well, hate it thrice or not Aunt Ruby, it's coming this weekend.

Today's quote comes from British poet, essayist, and critic, Samuel Johnson.  He could be speaking of our current Presidential campaign.

"When once the forms of civility are violated, there remains little hope of return to kindness or decency."

I sincerely hope he is wrong and that we can indeed return to kindness and decency.




Wednesday, March 9, 2016

The Winners

No, I'm not referring to any political winners.  These winners are elementary school children and two female bloodhound puppies.  Remember the post about the Henderson County bloodhound puppies?  (HERE)

The sheriff's office had a contest for naming the two puppies, now being trained to help locate missing persons or fugitives.  The department wisely selected winners for first names as well as middle names, thus allowing for four winners.

The bloodhounds recently paid visits to the schools to meet with the winners and to receive a lot of loving from the students.  (Photographs from the bloodhounds' Facebook.  Yes, they have a Facebook.)

Meet Bailey Lola Sniffer-Doodles and
Echo Charlie Foxtrot
(I have no idea which is which)

 The contest winners were presented with certificates (puppy paw-stamped no less), a stuffed bloodhound and a tee shirt.  Not to mention the kisses from the dogs.

 Proud moments for these fifth-grade winners

The puppies gained from the meetings almost as much as the students did.  They are at an age in which socializing is crucial.  And puppies can't get much more loving and socializing than from elementary school students.

A win-win for all.  The children learned that the sheriff and deputies are approachable people.  The puppies loved the attention.  And the children loved meeting and petting the puppies.  And I got a lot of joy in seeing the happy faces.  And that makes me smile.

Monday, March 7, 2016

Few Signs but Welcome Ones

Among the many pleasures of living in North Carolina is the gradual unfolding of spring.  In Wisconsin, spring was rather like "The Wonderful One Hoss Shay," described by Oliver Wendell Holmes.  Spring arrived:
 All at once, and nothing first, —
Just as bubbles do when they burst.

One day the trees were bare and it seemed the bleak mid-winter.  Within a week, not only were the spring flowers blooming, the grass was green and the trees were leafed out.  It's different here, with spring arriving in bits and pieces, each one as valued as the other.  In the lower elevations the crocus and daffodil are blooming in profusion.  Our community is about a week or two "behind" the weather downtown.  But even so, we have our own signs of spring.

This camellia seems unaware that another cold spell is certain.
And all those lovely buds will brown and fall off.
But she puts out a few flowers nonetheless.
And we appreciate it.

 Right on time the Lenten Rose (hellebore) is blooming as well.

 Arnold Promise (our witch hazel) has fewer blooms than usual
But they are still lovely and the fragrance fills the air.

 Dependable pieris japonica blooms right on time.

 And one flower never stops blooming no matter the season or weather.
It's a cut glass flower made and welded by a WI neighbor as a farewell gift.

So we watch as spring approaches.  And we drive to different elevations where we can find a lot more spring and dead of winter all in one day.  Life is definitely better in the mountains.

Friday, March 4, 2016

We Love Lucy

Once again the weather has been front and center here.  No severe storms like we had last week, but unpredicted rain, welcome sunshine, and unpredicted and a most unwelcome snow storm.  The snow started to fall yesterday afternoon and fell in huge flakes, quickly covering the trees and the ground.  Bummer.  But typical for almost-spring in the mountains, this morning dawned bright and sunny with rapidly warming temperatures.  The snow fell off the trees in big clumps and by noon there was no evidence of any snow at all.  And that's a good thing.

Since Ellie died, Lucy follows my husband around a puppy.  No matter where he is in the house she is either by his side or waiting outside the door.  Often she will stand at the head of the stairs to determine whether or not he is going to stay downstairs or come right back up.  Usually she takes her cue from whether or not he takes his water mug, Big Bubba (here) along with him.  She especially loves to sit with him on the porch or the deck.  There are so many wonderful sights, sounds, and scents.  We have a patio heater on both the deck and the porch so they can sit even in chilly weather.  She's always a little disappointed if he is going on the deck only to come right back inside.

Are you going to stay out here?  Or are we going back inside already?

 Much as she loves her beds and pillows, Lucy often lies on the rug or even on the hardwood floor.  This time she is using my husband's shoes for a pillow while she snoozes.

I have a personal request.  That you buy as many Girl Scout cookies this year as you can.  Buy more than you can eat and give them to your local food pantry.  The great evangelist Billy Graham's son Franklin says he won't be buying any this year.  Why?  Because those Girl Scouts welcome and embrace all lifestyles, even (gasp) lesbians.  So a person loudly proclaiming his "Christianity" is boycotting little girls for being inclusive.  So buy the cookies.  Someone should tell Franklin that when Jesus himself was feeding the five thousand, he did not have the disciples ask for lifestyle preferences.  He welcomed ALL to the table.  Just sayin'.

[Late entry:  A valued reader pointed out her problem with Girl Scout cookies because of the use of African palm oil, the gathering of which threatens animal habitats and the animals themselves.  I admit that I thought the palm oil issue had been resolved after a couple of very courageous girls made the public aware of this problem several years ago.  I thought the use had been totally discontinued but I was wrong.  Apparently while they are using "sustainable" palm oil they are still using palm oil in the cookies.  So I suggest you do some research on the issue and make up your mind.  If you decided not to purchase cookies, then make a donation to the local troop.]

Today's quote comes from Albert Scweitzer and is a favorite of mine:

Seek always to do some good, somewhere.
Every man has to seek in his own way to realize his true worth.
You must give some time to your fellow man.
Even if it's a little thing; do something for those who have need of help,
Something for which you get no pay but privilege of doing it.
For remember, you don't live in a world all your own.
Your brothers live here too.


Seek always to do some good, somewhere. Every man has to seek in his own way to realize his true worth. You must give some time to your fellow man. For remember, you don't live in a world all your own. Your brothers are here too. Albert Schweitzer
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