Friday, February 27, 2015

We Love Lucy

The meteorologists missed the forecast once again.  Only this time they underestimated the snow we would receive.  So it snowed six inches or so on Monday night.  And another eight on Wednesday night.  Fortunately, Thursday brought temperatures in the 40s and the snow dropped off in big chunks as it melted from the trees.  With the above-freezing temperatures the streets are fairly clear with only a few icy spots here and there.  Yet lots of snow remains on the ground.

Lucy came out to join my husband and me while we shoveled our driveway yet again.  She walked around in the snow.  Then she shoveled the snow with her nose.  And finally she ran in zoomie circles all over the place just like she did when she was a puppy.  Quite a difference from her usual response to snow.

Wow!  There is a lot of snow.

 I think something has been here before I came.

 Yippee!  Watch out, Mom.  Here I come.

 She seemed to really enjoy the snow every time we took her outside.  My husband had cleared a figure-eight path for her to use and she ran and ran around it before she remembered why she had come outside.

 The snow in the yard was beautiful.  And best of all, the roads are mostly clear today so we are not stuck on the mountain.

Don't think we will use these chairs for a while

This is the end of February which always gives me a lift.  Just thinking about March makes it feel like spring, although we know that March often brings wintry weather.

English poet and philosopher Samuel Taylor Coleridge gives us the quote for this week:

"Advice is like snow---the softer it falls, the longer it dwells upon and the longer it sinks into the mind."


Monday, February 23, 2015

Dog in the Snow

We had some light snow and lots of ice last week.  We are delighted that our temperatures are back to near normal and the sun is shining.  35 degrees is a lot better than 3.5.

I have mentioned that our Lucy does not like the snow.  She does not want to run or romp in it.  And many winters we have only a couple of measurable snow storms.  Perhaps she does not like having her paws get so cold.  Perhaps she is fearful of sliding.  For whatever reason, Lucy is reluctant to walk around when there is snow on the ground.  This is pretty much how she looks the entire time when we take her out in the snow:

Can we go back inside now?

Lucy spent her first year in Wisconsin with tons of snow.  And she loved it!  She and Ellie would run and run around the yard.  Golden zoomies until they were exhausted.  They would lie down and roll in the snow and dig in the snow with their noses.

Although Lucy is not such an old dog, she certainly acts like one when we have a skiff of snow.  And I'm with her.  I don't care for it at all.  Been there, done that.

Friday, February 20, 2015

We Love Lucy

Lucy does not like ice and snow.  Strange because she loved romping in the snow when we lived in WI.  But now she stays inside as much as possible when we have ice and snow.

One of her favorite spots to curl up is the foyer

 Unless the fire is burning.  Then she chooses to be near the warm hearth

I have hesitated in the past to use the word "cold" weather in deference to our daughter in WI and our son in Indiana.  But when we have sub-zero, record-setting temperatures I feel entitled to use the word.  When the high winds are added to the mixture, it is cold indeed.

We had really high winds last weekend with power outages all over the western part of NC.  Thank goodness for our generator, large enough to run the entire house and for our new efficient fireplace.  Our power was off for more than five hours so we turned off the upstairs heat pump (since it pulls so much power) and used the fireplaces upstairs and downstairs to keep us warm. We were warm and cozy as we read and watched movies.

 Monday evening brought snow and then sleet, covering the mountains in ice.  We definitely weren't going off the mountain for a while.  But with the freezer and pantry stocked and plenty of propane in the tank for the generator and fireplaces, we were set.  We expected more power loss due to the heavy coating of ice on the trees but we have been lucky so far.

 Heavy ice on the trees in the back yard
(You might want to enlarge by clicking on it)

We're under another winter storm warning for tonight.  I hope it passes us by.  While we are well fixed to withstand another storm, many in our county are not.  Our thoughts go out to those less fortunate, especially the children.

John Burroughs gives us this wise quote:

What a severe yet master artist old Winter is...
No longer the canvas and pigments, but the marble and chisel.



Monday, February 16, 2015

So Much More Than a Coach

University of North Carolina Chapel Hill (UNC) Coach Dean Smith died last week at the age of 83.  At the time he retired in 1997 he was the winningest coach in college basketball.  (Many of his records have since been broken.)

Much loved and honored, Coach Smith started his career at UNC on rocky footing.  He succeeded Frank McGuire when McGuire was asked to resign.  Students and alumni alike were not happy with the choice and at first they did not appreciate Smith's coaching style.  Smith's first team lost more games than they won.

My husband was a student at UNC during the early Smith years and he recalls Smith being hanged in effigy following yet another loss.  That was the 1965 loss at Wake Forest.  The effigy was hanging from a tree outside Woollen Gymnasium, the "tin can" where UNC basketball teams practiced.

 Smith coaching during the 1964 UNC/NC State game
(Photograph from Wikipedia)

 This post is not a tribute to Dean Smith's coaching styles or his winning teams over the years.  This post is a tribute to Dean Smith, the honorable and courageous man.

 Typical Dean Smith pose
(Photograph from the Internet)

In 1967 Dean Smith made history by awarding a black student (Charlie Scott) a basketball scholarship to play for UNC.  Nowhere else in the South was a black person on a major college team.  Smith was criticized for breaking this barrier.  Some schools even referred to Scott as Dean Smith's trained monkey.  A few schools refused to play against UNC because of Charlie Scott.

Dean Smith took several black friends to one of Chapel Hill's finest restaurants at a time when blacks were not welcome.  The restaurant dared not refuse to seat them, so Smith helped integrate the restaurant.

Very active in his church, he supported the church's stand against the death penalty, against nuclear proliferation, and supporting the rights of gays and lesbians.  He openly spoke out when others chose to remain silent.  His church was "kicked out" of the Southern Baptist Convention and the NC Baptist Convention for supporting a gay minister's right to preach in the church.

He was a liberal and politically active in those endeavors.  He never failed to recognize the smallest fan and was kind to all he met.

I once had the occasion to contact Dean Smith to request a favor.  When the Smith Center was built, the old Carmichael Auditorium was torn down and pieces of planks from the gym floor were sold.  Carmichael was the place the Tar Heels played during my husband's eight years as a student at UNC.  We purchased a valued piece of the "paint" which came with a medallion, a photograph, an inscription and a computer-generated Dean Smith signature.  I wrote a note to Dean Smith, enclosed an index card and requested a genuine signature to replace the computer-generated one.

A piece of the paint from Carmichael
This was the real Carolina Blue

In reply we received a nice note along with a Dean Smith photograph on which he had written, "Best wishes to Randy" and signed by Dean Smith.  Just one small example of Dean Smith's generosity and kindness.

The photograph Dean Smith sent us

Coach Smith suffered from dementia in his later years.  A man who was noted for remembering the smallest detail about each of his players over the years, he was devastated when he realized his memory was failing him.  It was almost a blessing when his disease progressed to the extent that he no longer realized he was impaired.  And a blessing last week when he found eternal rest and respite.

Remembered for his expertise on the basketball court, Dean Smith also helped promote the political and social views in the State of North Carolina.  He was a civil rights activist at a time when it was not very popular to be one.  He was humble and a deeply religious man.  His memory will linger in the hearts of all who knew him.  And his legacy will endure at the University of North Carolina.

Friday, February 13, 2015

We Love Lucy

Lucy is a creature of habit.  And she can develop a habit very quickly.  She is nearing the end of her medications for the hot spot.  (Which has healed nicely.)  She gets medication three times a day.  It's not the medicine that she is concerned with.  It's the little pill sandwich that carries it. Those sandwiches are even better since Dad couldn't find the regular cheese and got some mascarpone instead.

Another quality Lucy shares with most dogs is optimism.  If she thinks it is time for something, then it must be time.  She knows that one of her pills comes in the evening.  She just isn't sure just what time.  One evening she decided that pill time was 6:45.

Hey, Mom.  I think it's pill time, don't you?

  No Lucy, it's not time.  I'm watching "News Hour."
I'll just stand here until it's time.
No, you'll have to move out of the way.

 How about this?  Is this out of the way?
Yes, but it doesn't look very comfortable.

 Guess it's just as well that you fell asleep.  The pills are not due until 9.
Of course I might have to move before then.

Persistence and optimism are hallmark qualities in our Lucy.  She is full of both.  It will be hard for her on Saturday.  The last pills are today.

Our quote is from Helen Keller:
"Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement.  Nothing can be done without hope and confidence."


Monday, February 9, 2015

Is This the Best that Money Can Buy?

The 2014 North Carolina Senate race for the US Senate has the dubious distinction of being the most expensive Senate race in history.  The Republican Party was determined to unseat Democrat Party incumbent Kay Hagan.  Enabled by the Republican-led gerrymandering in 2010, the stage was set.  So the money poured in, seventy percent coming from out of state Political Action Committees (PACs).  Looming large among the PACs were the Americans for Prosperity managed by the Koch brothers, the National Republican Senatorial Committee, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.  At the end of the day, Thom Tillis (formerly Speaker of the House in the NC General Assembly) was elected as one of NC's Senators.

This is his official Senate picture

Senator Tillis became the butt of many jokes recently, following his outrageous and stupid comments regarding hand washing requirements in business.  At a recent Bipartisan Policy Center conference Tillis bemoaned the onerous regulations that the Federal Government places on businesses.  He might have made a better point had he not taken hand washing as his example of onerous regulation.  Really Senator?  Hand washing?

He went on to say that "I don't have any problem with Starbucks if they choose to opt out of this policy as long as they post a sign that says, 'We don't require our employees to wash their hands after leaving the restroom.'"  (I guess it didn't occur to him that he was replacing one regulation to require hand washing with another one to require a sign.)  Then he went on, "The market will take care of that."  Tillis has not responded to any statements regarding his outrageous suggestion.  No indication that he thinks it might have been inappropriate or that he misspoke.

You know your Senator is a buffoon when he makes a five-minute slot on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart who gave Tillis the title of "Mr. Ayn Rand of 2015."  You can see the clip here

 Our Freshman Senator ridiculed by Jon Stewart

The jokes have abounded.  Similar to this one from Salon:  If you ever see Senator Thom Tillis out campaigning, don't let him shake your hand or kiss your baby."

 This will no longer be a common sight.

The truth is not the irony about substituting one regulation for another.  The truth is that no matter what Thom Tillis thinks, the public needs to be protected from unclean food and beverage service.

Tillis seems to have forgotten an incident that occurred here in his home state in 2013.  Eating at an All American Grill here in North Carolina led to the infection of a hundred people with salmonella.  Several health code violations contributed to this outbreak, including the fact that the grill ran out of paper towels and soap and employees could not effectively wash their hands.  So the salmonella infected a hundred customers before the market had a chance to take care of it.

A silly and inane statement in any context, considering lifting regulations that employees wash hands after using the restroom makes us ashamed of having elected this man to make the laws of the land.

So Charles and David, I suggest that you do some research before spending your millions on our state politicians.  Seriously?  Is Thom Tillis the best your money could buy?

[In the interest of full disclosure, I did not approve of Tillis when he led our General Assembly.  I actively campaigned for his opponent and definitely did not help elect him to office.]

Friday, February 6, 2015

We Love Lucy

While Lucy definitely loves to have a pillow, she often snoozes with her head up.  Like a nodding toddler, she briefly awakens when her head drops.  Then she falls back to snoozing in the bright sunshine.

She has another "hot spot" that mandated a trip to the veterinarian this week.  We caught it early which is a good thing because these areas can spread very quickly.  Surprised that she had a hot spot in mid-winter, my husband asked our vet if this is common.  He replied, "It's always hot spot season for Golden Retrievers."  So she is on antibiotics which means she gets special little sandwiches with Laughing Cow cheese spread to obscure the pills.  Fortunately she tends to leave the areas alone so she doesn't have to wear a cone.  And they begin to heal almost immediately with the antibiotics and steroid sprays.

Please stop calling it a cat nap, Mom.

After several days of cooler than normal temperatures we are expecting some amazing days this weekend.  Might get into the 60s with sunshine.  Oh, I am so looking forward to Spring.

Author Barbara Kingsolver has this to say about dogs:
"A dog can't think that much about what he is doing.
He just does what feels right."

We should do the same.  We always know if it feels right.



Monday, February 2, 2015

Little Church by the Lake

Our community was established more than 40 years ago.  At the time a small Baptist Church sat beside a creek running through one of the valleys.  The creek was dammed to make a large lake.  Yet the church retained its name:  Carson Creek Baptist Church.

The church is not considered a part of the community that surrounds it on all sides.  It is not assessed any fees and the members and guests are issued passes to enter our gates for services.  Our community has paid for improvements to the church and its property over the years and the church and community remain good friends.

The US flag and the Christian flag unfurl above the church sign.
It was a windy day.

It's a small church and has a small but active membership

The cemetery overlooks part of the lake.

Our community respects the church, especially during the Sunday and Wednesday night services.  An active duty soldier was buried from this church a few years ago.  Community residents, several people deep lined both sides of the road from the gate to the church.  Each resident waved an American flag to honor the fallen soldier whom none of us knew personally.