Wednesday, June 30, 2010

America The Beautiful

The photo assignment this week at The Pioneer Woman’s site is “America”. Folks are submitting their interpretations of what America represents to them. The images submitted have been just wonderful. There are mountains and plains and monuments and lots of red, white and blue.
When I clicked on her site this morning I was excited to find that one of my pictures was chosen as a contender for the finalists to be announced later this week. I jumped up, shook my tail feathers and shouted, “Hallelujah!” You’ve heard of air guitar? I did the air chest bump with no one in particular and hurt myself. It’s incredibly flattering to be singled out with the other submissions because I’m tellin’ ya, there are some great pictures in the running, and it’s only day three of this contest.

This is my picture:

It’s one of my favorites of the ones I've taken since I started dabbling in photography. It makes me feel warm and fuzzy and patriotic whenever I look at it, and it’s actually one of about fifty I took of flags last July Fourth. I like the simplicity of it.

The other image I will submit tomorrow is this one:

I captured this fellow during the local Veteran’s Day parade. He quietly flashed the victory sign to veteran after veteran as they rolled by him in the parade. They knowingly returned the gesture. He never knew I was behind him, shedding tears for the unspoken emotion in that hand sign between elderly men and women still feeling the scars of battle. The gesture drowned out the bands and crowd noise around me.

These images and others at The Pioneer Woman remind me of the sacrifices of so many, including my grandfathers. Grandpa B. fought in World War II and was highly decorated. He brought home from the war a huge Nazi flag he tore down from a pole during fighting in a German town, and he would sometimes bring it out to show us grandkids and tell us about war stories. We were too young to really understand the significance of the flag or his service. I regret now that I didn’t listen more, since he passed away twenty four years ago.

Grandpa M. served in World War I, and I never heard him discuss it. Perhaps because he was so old and I was so young. He died when I was ten years old, and he mostly shared fond memories of the family farm in the last years of his life. He was such a gentle man it’s hard for me to imagine him in battle. I don’t really know the full details of his time in Europe, but I do have a memento of his war service. It’s a copy of a letter he wrote to his mother at the end of the war. It was included in the family history book one of my aunts compiled several years ago, and I found it recently when we cleaned out the attic at the old house. It makes me smile to read it and imagine what a poor farm boy from rural Illinois thought about his travels to another part of the world.

In keeping with the July Fourth theme, and in recognition of him and all the others who saved our freedom over the years, I share the letter with you today. And I encourage you to visit the photo contest and check out the shades of America. It will make you feel good and remind you that behind all of the political fussing and congressional shenanigans, this country is still a wonderful place to be.


Aven Ville, France, November 25, 1918

Dear Mother,

Will write you a few lines tonight. I am well and hope you are the same. I got a letter from sister and one from Almus today. Well, Mama, I think by the time you get this I will be on the way home. We are drilling now and getting in shape for a big parade in New York. It has been five months today since I saw you, but it won’t be that long until I see you again.

Well mother, I will tell you a little about my trip. We got on the train at Camp Upton, New York, about five o’clock in the evening the same time at Montreal, Canada and took the ship and sailed up the St. Lawrence River to Quebec and around the gulf to Sydney, Nova Scotia. We laid there four days and nights and then sailed back to Quebec, landing there at five o’clock on September 2nd. We then took another ship and sailed for England and in thirteen days we landed at Liverpool, England. We boarded a train there and rode until the next morning and got off and went to a rest camp and cleaned up and had dinner. Then hiked back to town and took another ship and sailed for France, landing there the next morning. We were again put aboard the train and rode for two days and nights and landed where we are now. I never got sea sick one minute but believe me there were some sick birds out there. Mama, I have been working on the railroad building roads. I have seen some great things.

Well, brother, how are you and Old Bob (a mule) making it? Sis said he was mean as ever. Don’t let him hurt you. I will give him what he needs when I get home if I can get the land to work. Tell Alta I made her a nice silver ring today out of French money. I think I will get there in time to take a good possum hunt. Well, Mama, we boys are all together yes and we have lots of fun. Have you ever got any of my allotment? If you haven’t, write and tell me and I will look into it and see why you don’t get it.

I will close for this time. You all keep writing until I get home as my mail will follow me. With best wishes to you all and hope to see you in the near future.

Your son,

Private John M., Co. I 22nd Eng., 3rd Batn. A.P.O/ A.B.F.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

If Anyone Needs Me I'll be Under the Table

Take it from Hula that extra second or two that it takes to double check the phone number you’re texting is worth it.

Last night Teen Angel was on a date. I texted her , telling her to alert me when she was on her way home so I could put on more clothing before she and the new beau came into the house. I did this because back in March she brought the last boyfriend into the house unexpectedly one night when I was in my pajamas, and I spent thirty minutes in conversation with the boy with an open book slapped across my chest so he wouldn’t realize that underwear is not always a priority in our home.

When my phone dinged with a reply last night, I clicked on it to find, to my horror, a message from the youth minister at church letting me know that I had sent HIM the message about the clothing, and he was pretty sure it wasn’t meant for him. Apparently, he had sent me a message about bible school earlier, and I had opened it up without realizing it when I was composing the underwear note to Teen Angel. Great Gertie! My face hasn’t been that red since that unfortunate Playgirl pinup in the locker incident my senior year of high school.

While the youth minister jokingly threatened to work this into an upcoming sermon, all I could think was that if that dadgum Eve had just eaten something ANYTHING other than an apple this clothing thing would not be an issue.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Time Out

For days now, I’ve been trying to work into my schedule a nap in the new hammock. Life just hasn’t cooperated with that plan. The last two weeks have been simply overwhelming around here because of Mama J.’s and Papa T.’s needs. I don’t share much about their conditions because they like their privacy, but I could write paragraphs daily about the ups and downs of elder care. There are the 4am phone calls, the falls and the piles and piles of medication which take incredible concentration to keep from getting that stuff mixed up. It is intense. Our experience over the past two weeks could be summed up with the phrase, “Bus driver, let me off!”

We always knew we would reach a point where we needed some help with their care, and that time has arrived as these three Hula- gen’s will collapse if we try to keep up this pace much longer. I know we’ll work through this phase and trudge on. It’s what must be done, but right now we’re walking around in a constant state of weary.

It’s especially hard on Hubby as he bears the brunt of the load. He has spent more time at their house lately than ours and has rarely had a break. By Saturday morning, he was in dire need of a little “me” and “we” time, so even though I wanted to sleep in and could have, I dragged out of bed so we could be together for a while. We went to an auction while Teen Angel was at work. We had breakfast together and made plans to buy him some new shoes and eat a late lunch with Teen Angel between her two shifts at work.

We had a great time at the auction. The police department was auctioning off confiscated items and unclaimed property. I bought a home gym for a third of what it would have cost in the store, and we hauled it home just in time to meet up with Teen Angel. I stood in the kitchen piddling around on the computer while they were supposed to be freshening up and getting ready for us to leave for lunch. About ten minutes into my Facebook and Pioneer Woman time, I turned around to see why everyone was so quiet and found this:

And you can’t see her in this picture but the cat was napping, too in her bed by the patio doors. Everyone was napping. I wasn't the only one who needed hammock time. My poor tired peeps were all pooped out. (Say that three times fast.) The week had caught up with them, so I did what any good mom would do. I pushed aside by plans for lunch and shopping. And took their picture so I could post it on my blog for the whole world to see.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Work of the Day-"Stalk"

Main Entry: stalk

Function: verb

Etymology: Middle English, from Old English bestealcian; akin to Old English stelan to steal — more at STEAL

Date: 14th century

intransitive verb 1 : to pursue quarry or prey stealthily
2 : to walk stiffly or haughtily

transitive verb 1 : to pursue by stalking
2 : to go through (an area) in search of prey or quarry
3 : to pursue obsessively and to the point of harassment
— stalk•er noun

Used in a sentence: "Hubby was so distraught over missing the ice cream man's weekly visit to our neighborhood Thursday that he drove to nearby subdivisions stalking the little white truck with the loud music."

PS: Someone is now pouting over the fact he will have to wait a full week before being able to buy a certain chocolate bar.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Photo Friday Challenge-"Motionless"

There is a lady who does performance art at various downtown festivals, and she's so good at pretending to be a statue that you have to get really close to her to see her twitch or move. Sometimes folks have trouble deciding if she's real or if she's a mannequin. I love watching the people watch her.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Oh, Daddy

We have this event in our town every Saturday night during the summer. Traffic is blocked off in our downtown area, and live music is performed on various street corners. People can plop their lawn chair in the street, listen to music and visit with friends. There are also some street vendors there. One vendor sells henna tattoos, the kind that lasts for a couple of weeks and fade away.

While I was goofing around downtown Saturday night I watched a father who was obviously watching his little girl while mom was elsewhere that evening. He was absent mindedly keeping tabs on her while he chatted with an acquaintance. She ran up to him, asked to get a tattoo, and he said, "Sure." I don't think he had any idea what she was asking. She smiled brightly, handed the woman her money and picked out a large butterfly design for the top of her hand. I watched the artist do her thing, and all I could think was, "Boy, is he going to be in trouble when they get home."

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Things Hula Loves

Every day when I look out the dining room window or pull in and out of our driveway I see a sea of Black Eyed Susans in my neighbor's yard. Their front flower bed is just a large mass of yellow. I can't help but smile when I see them. To tell the truth, I'm kinda glad they're on vacation, and we have to feed their dog this week. It gives me an opportunity to wander right by them. And take a picture or two.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Hula-gen Family Fun Fact #91

Hula's aversion to snakes started at a very early age, probably around 1967 when her grandpa killed this four foot long cottonmouth that climbed into his fishing boat. Shivvvvverrrrrr.......

I get the creepy crawlies just looking at this picture.

Monday, June 21, 2010


After twenty years of marriage there should probably be this unspoken agreement that Hubby and I never debate over who is right and who is wrong when it comes to the little stuff. We should have this symbiosis that allows us to peacefully coexist in a home where it doesn’t really matter who is right and who is wrong. Notice I said “should”.

Most of the time it works that way since we’re usually too busy or too tired to fuss over much. And honestly, at this stage of life it rarely matters who is correct. Notice I said “rarely”. We bite our tongues a lot. A LOT as we both enjoy being right and neither one us likes to be told what to do or how to do it. Despite the occasional urge to whack each other over the head with a 2 by 4 because someone didn’t read the instructions or Hula left the gas tank on empty, we have few “I told you so” moments. However, there are days when the urge to claim victory wells up and swallows up one of us. Usually me. I don’t know why. It just does. Gosh darn it, it just feels good to be right sometimes and to point it out to he who isn’t.

Like the last time we left downtown Nashville, and I hollered for Hubby to turn right, RIGHT I SAID! He wanted to go left because our GPS, Desdemona, said to go left. I’m here to tell ya’ Desdemona was a bee-atch on our last trip, and she had us lost as Easter eggs the whole time. I said I didn’t care what Desdemona thought, we needed to go right because that would take us right to Interstate 24 where we needed to go. “Okay, we’ll do it YOUR way,” Hubby said. He just knew we were going to get turned around and wanted to prove me wrong. We rode in silence. A few miles down the road we passed under the sign that said “I-24 West” and I said, “Ha! I knew it!” I may or may not have pointed my finger at him.

Flash forward to this past Saturday when I was standing in the yard getting ready to try out the new hammock for just a minute. (By the way, I still have not napped in it yet.) As I leaned back to get into it, Hubby came rushing up and said, “Wait, wait, let me show you how to do it!” Only it wasn’t a cheery helpful, “Let me help you into it dear” kind of tone. It was more of an “I’m the only one who really knows how to do this so stand back little Missy and let me show you the right way to do it so you don’t hurt yourself” kind of tone. The man watches way too many John Wayne movies. As I started to say something sassy the Nashville incident flashed through my head and I told myself to shut my pie hole and just watch as it wasn’t worth not so nice words. As it turned out I was rather glad I did. Hubby leaned back, rolled into the hammock, relaxed and promptly flipped over. He hit the ground with a loud thud faster than a jack rabbit on a date. It was kind of like our kayak in Barbados incident but with less blood. I clamped my hand over my mouth to keep from laughing out loud. He glanced around to see if the neighbors were in their backyard, and since they were, he quietly shuffled into the house mumbling something about how I could probably do it myself. I rolled my smug hind end into the hammock and lay there giggling. And then when it was time to get out, I made sure no one was watching and rolled out of it very slowly because if there’s one thing I’ve learned about marriage over the last twenty years, it’s that she who laughs loudest usually falls on her face when she least expects it.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Drip, Drip, Drip

Into each life a little rain must fall. What a crazy week! It’s been a zoo around here. We had practically no weekend as we were nonstop busy with commitments from Friday afternoon until Sunday evening. Actually, Hula had nonstop commitments because she can’t say no. The rest of the family was just plain busy. Monday brought the unexpected hospitalization of Mama J. Nothing too serious. Teen Angel took her to a doctor’s appointment with plans to go shoe shopping afterward, but the doctor found an irregular heartbeat and stuck her in the hospital in order to safely treat the problem that sent her to the doctor in the first place. I don’t know who was more unhappy, Mama J. or Teen Angel. They both love shoe shopping.

The hospitalization business sent us all into a tizzy as Hubby was a sweaty mess in the midst of must do chores when Teen Angel called with the news, and I was trying to cook for eight ladies expected at our house that evening for dinner and games. After much scrambling and ball juggling, which may or may not have included a few anxiety laced profanities, we got through the day without injury. In the days since then the three of us have been bouncing between work, the hospital and Papa T.. Now that we’ve settled into somewhat of a routine, Mama J. will likely get to come home tomorrow. Whoops, everybody shuffle!

Teen Angel’s friend and coworker was in a very serious car wreck Monday afternoon, too. Her pelvis was broken in five places and she had to be airlifted to an Evansville, Indiana hospital. She gave us quite a scare, but we got word that the nurses had her up on her feet today, and she will make a full recovery. She should get to come home in a few days. I’m sure she’ll have weeks of healing, and she likely won’t be helping Teen Angel run the hot dog cart downtown this summer, but at least she’s going to be okay. About the time I get relaxed about Teen Angel driving, a friend of hers has a wreck, and I get all antsy again. I’m finally catching on to the fact that you never stop worrying about your kids, no matter how old they get. Rats, mama was right about that one, too.

I have a day off tomorrow, so hopefully I can catch up on some things that have fallen by the wayside in the last few days. And somewhere in the next few days I hope to take a nap. A long glorious nap. Hahahahahah. The odds of that happening are slim, but a girl can dream. I also hope to stop by the opening of this town’s annual photo contest selections. I submitted some entries but didn’t get picked. I felt much better about it when I found out 1140 other people didn’t get chosen either. It should be a great show.

I finally remembered to buy some toilet paper. Yesterday. A full three days after we ran out. Let’s not discuss how many times I passed the grocery store or Walgreen’s before I remembered to stop and get some. Thank goodness for Mama J.’s stash of paper supplies. She buys large quantities of canned goods and paper products and always has a large supply of every household product imaginable. I think it’s a habit she developed years ago when Papa T. got paid once a month. There are many days in years past when we would have been cleaning our backsides with Brawny and Kleenex if not for Mama J.’s stash of toilet paper. Years from now when she’s gone to her great reward we’re going to laugh and say, “Remember when we used to steal your mama’s TP?”

A little rain fell on the Hula-gen’s this week, but we managed to keep from getting too wet. We can see the light at the end of the tunnel anyway. Hubby installed a new hammock in the backyard last Saturday, and I’ve been eyeballin’ it since then. I haven’t had a spare minute for hammock time, but I hope to change that by Saturday evening. I’m thinking a good book, a cold beverage and some tropical music would add to the experience. In the meantime, there are old folks to feed, groceries to buy and laundry to wash, but thankfully, the umbrella is working.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

I Miss My Grandma

Even though she's been gone for more than twenty years, every now and then I have a day when I really miss her. Today is one of those days.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

A Little Rain

"Clouds come floating into my life, no longer to carry rain or usher storm, but to add color to my sunset sky. "

Rabindranath Tagore

Tagore obviously never dealt with the unexpected hospitalization of a mother in law, a disabled father in law, an extremely serious car wreck involving his daughter's good friend AND a dinner party for eight people all in the same day. Just sayin'.
On the positive side, the photo contest at The Pioneer Woman this week is bugs. Oh, joy!

Monday, June 14, 2010

Word of the Day-"Glee"

Main Entry: glee

Pronunciation: \ˈglē\

Function: noun

Etymology: Middle English, from Old English glēo entertainment, music; akin to Old Norse glȳ joy, and perhaps to Greek chleuē joke

Date: before 12th century

Definition: 1 : exultant high-spirited joy : merriment
2 : a part-song for usually male voices

Used in a sentence: "Nothing brings Hula so much glee as when a bug lands on a blossom she is photographing."

The Quicker Picker Upper

HOLY COW!!! The Hula-gen's are out of toilet paper! I mean really out. As in not one square and no roll to spare. I'd complain to the person in charge of that, but I think that's me as I forgot to put it on the grocery list for Hubby Friday.

We discovered this issue when we got home from church yesterday, and I forgot to pick some up on the way home from a meeting last night. We must stop TODAY and get more. In the meantime, we've been using the only thing we have available: paper towels. And Bounty may be thicker and more absorbent and that may be great for spills, but let's just say that using it for TP is about as comfortable as shaving with sandpaper.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Where The Lilies Bloom

This Spring I’ve paid particular attention to the way plants and trees bloom. They come in waves. First there are the crocuses and daffodils, proclaiming to the world that ding dong the wicked winter witch is dead. Then come the dogwoods and pear blossoms. The tulips pop in a blaze of glory, and the roses like to be fashionably late. In some ways it’s as if I’m seeing them for the first time. Spring in western Kentucky was exceptionally beautiful this year, and about the time I thought we were going to have a lull until the summer annuals bloomed, the Tiger Lilies pushed to the sky and spread their petals in a joyous orange.

The thing I like about Tiger Lilies is their ability to grow anywhere. Sure, people plant them in bunches along driveways and in flower beds, but mostly they thrive in ditches and fields. They can survive in the grittiest and lowliest of places. They are loud and hardy, and they love the sun. Like me. The Tiger lilies and I are in sync, man.

I love Tiger Lilies. They’re one of my favorites, and for several days now I’ve eyeballed a particular patch of them, waiting for them to pop open so I could take a few pictures. I noticed the field Monday. I drive by it every day to and from work, and it sits next to the entrance of a paving company. It was such a nice surprise to suddenly see them peeking their buds above the weeds in search of the sun. Dozens, maybe hundreds of them.

A sea of orange along a busy highway. Did anyone else notice them I wondered? Every morning I’ve slowed as I got closer to them, trying to decide if it was THE day. Tuesday-not yet. Wednesday-still too soon. Thursday-hmmm, almost. Today-wait, wait, yes! It’s THE day. I parked along the grassy shoulder and bailed out of the car with my camera, and while I enjoyed taking the pictures, the best part was just being there. There is something cool about standing in the middle of a field surrounded by waist high flowers in the early morning sunlight.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

In This Moment

I’ve been terribly reflective the last couple of days. I don’t know if it was spurred by that long library fine list or that pitiful homeless fellow I saw sweltering in the sun and vacantly peering over his cardboard sign, but something has me deep in thought. Thoughts about the fragility of life, the power of emotions and even the sad state of people and wildlife in the Gulf of Mexico. Mostly I’ve been thinking about time and how fast it’s moving. It’s as if the globe spins faster each day. Some days I feel as if I’m barely hanging onto the earth and I could lose my grip at any minute and go flying into the atmosphere. As a child I used to laugh at my mother when she had trouble remembering what day it was or how old she was. Now, I suffer from the same problem. The older I get the faster everything moves, especially the clock. Proof of that sits right in front of me every day in the face of my daughter.

Poor Teen Angel is my victim when I drag out the camera to practice things like aperture and shutter speed. She’s a pretty good sport about it as long as I don’t push my luck too much. She posed for me Friday evening while I toyed with light and shadows. And while I have plenty of pictures of her smiling, it’s the more somber photos that intrigue me because they make me wonder what’s she’s thinking.

Is she mad at her boyfriend again? (And can I just pause a moment to say he’s been a royal T-U-R-D?!) Is she thinking about the year ahead with all the joys and emotions the senior year brings? Or is she looking even farther into the future, and thinking about college and careers?

I don’t know. Emotionally, she’s mature beyond her years because of some of the things she’s had to deal with in recent years like the drowning of her cousin and the suicide of her aunt. In some ways she seems more than ready to skip this last year of high school and move right into the freedoms and responsibilities of college. In other ways, she seems like such a kid, like when she belches the alphabet with pride and gusto. I’m not sure what she’s thinking, but I know what I think when I look at her. She’s growing up fast. In a short time her dad and I will be loading her belongings into a car and driving her to college. We’ll wave goodbye and drive home with our hearts in our throats and hope for the best. We’ll watch from afar as she dives into adulthood and starts to make her mark on the world. She’s a good girl. I’m proud of the woman she’s becoming, and there are days when she makes me believe that her dad and I aren’t complete failures at parenting. I can’t wait to see what she does with her life. Right now though, in this hour, I have to enjoy every fleeting moment and will the earth to slow just a little so I can savor these days. I hope she’s thinking the same thing.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010


I’m really good at pointing out other people’s flaws. Hubby says I’m an expert at it. I don’t think that’s a compliment even though he says it with a smile. While I’m a crackerjack at summing up others’ issues, I’m terrible at figuring out my own flaws. Most of the time I’m not really interested in hearing about them because they’re so…so…uncomfortable. I generally have to be smacked over the head with something before I own up to it and then my reaction is usually somewhere along the lines of, “Oh, you must have me mistaken for that OTHER scrawny brunette with the pointed nose and double jointed elbows.” While denial can sometimes be a girl’s BFF, there are times where there is no avoiding the truth. As Mama says, what goes around comes around, and I have found that when it comes around it usually bites me in the butt. I had a chunk taken out of my backside yesterday, at the library of all places.

I love the library. My love for buildings with lots and lots of books goes back to my childhood. As a kid, I visited the library just about every week. It was a Carnegie Library with dark walnut shelves, ornate woodwork and the smell of aging pages. I would check out my weekly limit and then burrow myself in the corner between the Agatha Christie’s and the autobiographies for some solitary reading while Mama, Super Cop and Handy Man finished making their selections. I worked my way through rows of Little House and Nancy Drew books and moved into adult fiction way before I was mature enough to really understand some of what I was reading. I read book after book after book. The library makes the world accessible to everyone, no matter how poor or isolated he is. It’s where my dreams of travel and ambition were hatched, and just the touch of a library book today sends my brain racing through those old memories. The only problem I have with the library is fines.

I have joked about my library fines for years but never really considered them a problem. I mean fines are just their way of making you conform to a schedule, right? And that due date is like the expiration date on a milk carton. It’s just a suggestion really. A good book is to be savored and who can put a time limit on how it should be enjoyed? If I’m late taking back a book, I just pay the fine and skip to the shelves to check out more. I’ve been doing this for years.

My first fine was when I was about nine, and I lost a Nancy Drew book. While it eventually turned up in the closet where I had been playing, I had to pay for that book. In college, I had to pay library fines to get my final grades and as an adult I’ve often joked about having a library shelf named after me as my fines had likely paid for a shelf. Turns out, I wasn’t really wrong about that.

Yesterday, I returned my books and had to pay a whopping $12 fine. In my defense, most of that was due to Mama J. because I was returning her overdue books, too, and she had more books than me. The sweet lady who took my money had an issue with the computer system and couldn’t get the normal receipt to print. Very pleasantly she said, “I’ll just print your entire fine history, and it will be included on that.” “Oh, that’s okay,” I replied. “I don’t need a receipt.” She ignored my attempt to brush it off and hit the print button. With this little clicking noise, the printer started rolling off my list of fines for the last three years. And it clicked. And it clicked. It clicked some more. It paused to catch its breath and started clicking some more. The lady behind me stifled a laugh. The lady behind her peered over the counter to see how long the register tape was. I started to cringe. It just kept going until I couldn’t help myself and finally said, “Great Googly Moogly!” There was my shame of fines rolling off the counter and into the floor for everyone to see.
It was kind of like showing an alcoholic a scan of his liver. A library intervention right there at the circulation desk.

By the time the printer was finished I wanted to hide under the desk. The receipt was so long the librarian had to roll it up. She smiled nicely, handed it to me and said, “Thank you.” I said, “Thank you, I think.” I tucked it into my sack and slipped out the door, avoiding looking the lady behind me in the eyes. I forced myself to review that receipt this morning. The word "overdue" rings out over and over on the paper.

The total of my fines? $154.25. Just for the past three years. That doesn’t include the other nineteen years I’ve use that library. $154.25! I could buy a light stand with that money. And guess how long that receipt is. I measured. Twice, because I couldn’t believe it the first time. Seven feet, ten inches. That’s just crazy. It has to stop. I’m immediately implementing some new steps to improve this situation, and I have a new motto:

God, grant me the sensibility to check out only the books I will read, the strength to avoid the books I won't, and the wisdom to know the difference.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Old McDonald's Got Nothin' On Us Except A Few Chickens

The Hula-gen’s have a garden again this year. It was a little in doubt as we still have a long way to go until we get our yard in order at the new house. You should hear Hubby whine about the terrible shape of our grass. And the crabgrass! Oh, the crabgrass. Anyway, we decided to make time to till up a corner of the backyard, build it up and fertilize it for a garden. ‘Cause the reality is, we can’t live without a fresh supply of homegrown tomatoes in the summer. While tomatoes aren’t the only thing we plant, there is a direct correlation between our happiness and the amount of ripe tomatoes we consume between June and October.

This garden isn’t as big as the old one, but that makes it more manageable. We have 21 tomato plants this year, instead of the usual 35. I think we’ll still be okay. They’re coming along nicely, thanks to the abundant hot sunny weather we’ve had lately.

In fact, they’re noticeably bigger than when I took this picture about eight days ago. We have some small green tomatoes on the vines, so the wait for the first juicy bite is officially on. Those PVC pipes you see are Hubby’s watering system. He shoves a pipe into the ground next to each plant and uses the hose to regularly fill each tube with water. It’s a slow watering system that seems to work better than sprinklers and soaker hoses.

The garden also includes cucumbers and bell peppers. We skipped the squash and zucchini because our next door neighbors planted enough of that to feed Somalia. They shared their first squash with us yesterday. It goes on the stove tonight. Have I mentioned how much the Hula-gen’s love fresh produce? I absolutely love wandering out back and putting together dinner with whatever is ripe.

The thing that surprised me though, was Hubby’s fruit kick. I think he spent too much time on the pot with the Starks catalog ‘cause before I knew it he had ordered all sorts of fruit trees and bushes. He planted watermelons and cantaloupes. Yum.

Along the edge of the yard are three, count ‘em three grapevines. See the one in the middle?

That’s the one I’m looking forward to sampling. It’s a white seedless. There is also a red seedless and a concord. It will be next year before we yield anything from them, but they’re budding out nicely.

We figure we need a trip to the local vineyards to see how they prop up the vines. Really.

There are three apple trees.

AND we have two raspberry bushes, two blueberry bushes and two blackberry bushes. You’ll have to imagine what they look like since I forgot to take a picture of those. By July of next year I should be able to make a variety of pies with whatever is blooming in the backyard. I find that very exciting, but then I’m easily excited.

The thing about the garden that amuses me most is Hubby’s windmill.

He dragged it from the old house the other day despite some concerns that it might be a little ragged looking to bring to the new house. He loves that old thing, as do I, but was worried that our neighbors, many of whom are very picky about their yards, would be uptight about it and think it looked bad. Since I generally don’t care what folks think, I prodded him to go get it. Three days later, we looked next door, and our neighbors had purchased their own windmill, and it was gaily blowing in the breeze. Hee hee. **** Drive will never be the same now that we’ve arrived. We may have everyone there growing tomatoes before it’s over. Walking the dog at 5:45am in Crocs and holey pajamas though? Probably not.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Word of the Day-"Anticipation"

Main Entry: an•tic•i•pa•tion
Pronunciation: \(ˌ)an-ˌti-sə-ˈpā-shən\
Function: noun
Date: 14th century

1 a : a prior action that takes into account or forestalls a later action b : the act of looking forward; especially : pleasurable expectation

Used in a sentence: “It is with great anticipation that Hula awaits the overhaul of the Hula-gen’s bicycle built for two as Hubby plans to ride it with a very blind Papa T..”

(The overhaul is expected to take about two weeks readers, and you can bet I’m gonna blog about this one.)

Saturday, June 5, 2010

And I Giggled Uncontrollably

Hubby handed me this flyer from the inside of a Birds and Blooms magazine that was soliciting photos for the front and inside of the magazine. The magazine uses reader photos for its covers and many of its inner pages each issue.

Hubby said, "I thought you might be interested in this. Don't you have a few flower pictures?"

Do I have a few flower pictures? LOL. Just a few. A few daffodils, a few dogwoods, a few tulips, a few tiger lilies.......

I wonder if they want those WITH dew or without.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Photo Friday Challenge-"Aqua"

You regular readers saw this one coming as soon as you saw the word "aqua" didn't you?

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Just A Moment

Nashville was great. While it did brew up a little thunderstorm and gave us flashbacks to the May 1st flood (apparently we bring rain to that city), the weather dried up quickly. There was that little incident where the gusty wind took control of my lightweight skirt and introduced more of me than I wanted to the folks on Commerce Street. Hello Nashville, meet Hula’s backside! Have you seen my new underwear?

I can report that downtown Nashville is clean and almost back to normal. The Cumberland River is tucked back into her banks.

The street musicians are back under the eaves of shops, and all but a couple of stores and restaurants are open for business.

The Ryman Auditorium was fabulous as always, and it was the perfect place to see rock icon Neil Young. We loved the show. Not many performers can pull off a one man act without a band, but he did, shuffling between a variety of guitars, pianos and even an old pump organ. The typical audience members like Mr. Smells Like Spilled Beer, Ms. Dances Like A Maniac and Sir Pees A Lot made the experience all that more interesting. We were thoroughly entertained, but it was the ride home that made me smile the most.

Somewhere around Clarksville, Tennessee at about 12:30 this morning while we were driving down the interstate I had a moment. Hubby and I were drinking convenience store sodas, eating fizzy Skittles and singing Harvest Moon to each other when I realized it was one of THOSE moments. You know, when everything seems perfect, time seems to freeze and the moment seems bigger than you. There are no worries about aging parents, teenaged children or cancer stricken friends. You are completely taken away by the music and the person sitting next to you, and you have no doubts that for some unexplained reason you will always remember this moment, no matter how old you get. I smiled in the darkness and kept singing off key.

“I’m still in love with you. I wanna see you dance again, on this harvest moon.”

Those moments are like rainbows. They are incredible when they happen, they fill you with awe and then they slip away quickly, making you long for their return. And they are so rare, that you truly appreciate them when they happen. For a brief few seconds, longer if you’re lucky, you get a glimpse into your own heart, and you like what you see. Then it passes, but because of that moment, you know you’re going to be okay, no matter what life throws at you. What a night.

Yes, Nashville is fine. And so am I.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Back to NashVegas

By the time this is posted Hubby and I should be in Nashville, tapping our toes in some little downtown joint waiting for our show. We get to see Neil Young at the Ryman Auditorium tonight, and we couldn’t be more excited. For starters, the Ryman is a fabulous place to see show, with his stained glass windows and weathered woodwork. Secondly, it’s NEIL YOUNG! We have a bucket list of performers we’d like to see before we or they die. Some of our favorite acts are getting old or have lived a hard life and are looking a little rough for the wear, so we feel some urgency about seeing them. We saw BB King a couple of years ago on his 80th birthday, and we squeezed in Willie Nelson last year. Tonight it’s Neil.

We’ve been fans for a long time, Hubby even more so than me. He’s incredibly excited about tonight.

I like Neil for his uniqueness. I love a good songwriter and storyteller. Even more so, I love a performer who stays true to his passions and beliefs. Neil’s one of those folks who has been around for a long time and is probably appreciated more now than he was when he was popular for hits like Heart of Gold and his stint with Crosby, Still & Nash years ago. I didn’t fully appreciate his talents until I reached middle age. He’s developed a rich body of work during ever changing periods of popularity and obscurity. Forty years after he started recording he’s still anti-war. Still preaches about taking care of the environment and still speaks his mind regardless of who he ticks off. If you know nothing about Neil Young, you probably at least know the reference to him in Lynyrd Skynyrd’s Sweet Home Alabama. You may not know he collaborated with Pearl Jam and is considered the father of the grunge movement.

He’s always been outspoken. He started Farm Aid with Willie Nelson many years ago, and he’s still fighting for the causes of the average Joe. Whether you agree with him or not, you have to appreciate his honesty. He performs because he loves music and he’s comfortable around the blue collar guy. That’s why it wouldn’t surprise me to catch him playing a tune or two with a bar band somewhere in downtown Nashville before or after his show tonight or hiding out in a corner taking in the nightly talent at one of the clubs. Hubby and I will probably slip into Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge or another club along Broadway before the show just in case. Besides, we like soaking up the local atmosphere. Even if we don’t catch an up close glimpse of him, we certainly expect to enjoy his concert. Mark one more off the bucket list, a big one.

I leave you with a link to one of my favorites of his: The Painter

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

The Dew-Part 2

Here are the rest. I have no words. Sometimes it's best to let nature speak for itself. Oh, wait. I would challenge you to notice the things below your feet. You'd be amazed at what's down there when you get on your hands and knees and look.