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Ramblings from a Southern liberal, Boomer, single parent, grandmother, reunited birthmother, cancer survivor, pop-culture observer, retired teacher

Most dramatic lymphoma posts are from June 2002 - February 2003 archives.

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The Waking

I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.
I feel my fate in what I cannot fear.
I learn by going where I cannot go.

We think by feeling. What is there to know?
I hear my being dance from ear to ear.
I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.

Of those so close beside me, which are you?
God bless the Ground! I shall walk softly there,
And learn by going where I have to go.

Light takes the Tree, but who can tell us how?
The lowly worm climbs up a winding stair;
I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.

Great Nature has another thing to do
To you and me; so take the lively air,
And, lovely, learn by going where to go.

This shaking keeps me steady. I should know.
What falls away is always. And is near.
I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.
I learn by going where I have to go.

--Theodore Roethke


Joy's Updates - Straight from the Horse's Mouth.
Sunday, May 28, 2006  
Cheeky Wee Ferguson

As my friends know, I just love to watch Craig Ferguson's The Late, Late Show and emailed CBS as soon as I first saw him to let them know that I thought he was brilliant and would be the sucessor to the Letterman throne when Dave retires and that when he does, he'll blow Conan O'Brien out of the water the way he's surely doing now if he decides to stay on as a talk show host which many of us would love to see happen. Since Letterman's company produces his show, I'd think he'd be the obvious choice to take over The Late Show, and Leno has named O'Brien as his replacement on The Tonight Show when he retires from it in four years or so. I hope I added to all the praise Ferguson receives but have noticed that my emails have no effect on networks. His monologues are hilarious and include references from pop-culture, history, philosophy, literature, and all kinds of insightful, entertaining topics. His does great impersonations of Michael Caine and Sean Connery and has been compared to Peter Cook as a comic genius which is high praise indeed.

Ferguson has written, acted in, directed and produced movies. He wrote and played the gardener in Saving Grace (in which Brenda Blethyn was nominated for an Oscar for Best Actress), wrote, directed, and acted in I'll Be There, wrote and starred in The Big Tease, played the English boss in The Drew Carey Show, and wrote and sings the theme song to his talk show.

So it's no surprise that Craig Ferguson's first novel reflects how multi-talented and complex he is. Reviews for Between the Bridge and the River have been good, better, and best. This review from NPR contains a typically wonderful excerpt. I'm about half-way through reading it and am fascinated by the magical realism of the four main characters whose lives intertwine in odd ways. Scottish childhood friends George and Fraser become a criminal-defense attorney and a televangelist, respectively. Fraser dreams of Carl Jung disguised as various characters while George faces death with a Frenchwoman whose Six Great Loves have all died. Leon and Saul are Southern half-brothers whose fathers were supposed to be Frank Sinatra and Peter Lawford and are adopted by a Florida snake-handler after their mother drank herself to death, and they escaped from an orphanage. See? Already bizarre!

Check this review out: Staff Pick

Books written by famous personalities are generally badly written, often interesting only as ephemeral curiosity like car accidents involving shining new Porsches. In the end you are still just left with a wreck.

Craig Ferguson is a blaring exception. His novel Between the Bridge and the River is well written and extremely funny, and Ferguson's voice is honest with a unique style. The reader is drawn in by a story unfolding as naturally as a conversation; yet it is fresh and witty with a sophistication which keeps the pages turning — sometimes in both directions, revisiting a passage just to laugh again, or marvel at a phrase. How Ferguson found the time to write this excellent novel while hosting The Late Late Show is baffling. Even more mysterious is how someone in his unusual surroundings — the glitz and glam of Hollywood — could write a story so genuine about life, love and the grit in between.

This is the book for critical readers who expect more than to be entertained. This is a book for critical writers who should expect to be jealous.

11:49:00 AM

Thursday, May 25, 2006  
Either I have no readers or they have mute typing fingers.

2:59:00 PM

The Horror

My cat Brigit who is a blonde diva killed a bird last night. It was flying around the patio and banged itself into the glass storm door which caused it to fall on the patio. She was already out there enjoying the night air and pounced on the disoriented little bird as soon as it hit the concrete. Cats don't just kill anything but play with it a while first. I went to the door to see what was going on and saw her with the bird in her mouth while it made pathetic, screechy, scared noises. She wanted to bring the bird in the house, but I wasn't falling for that again. I've had birds and mice in the house because a cat quickly ran in before I noticed something in its mouth. Then it was my problem eventually - dead or alive. No thanks! I had to listen to the sounds of Brigit's victim for a while and then nothing. I checked this morning and didn't see any sign of a dead bird, so maybe it got away. It was capable at times during all this, so I can hope. Cats get bored with their prey when they die and leave them there most of the time because the fun is in the hunt and capture.

One time an ex-boyfriend was visiting and started yelling for me to come make my cat Arlo stop torturing a bird. He said, "He just lets it go, plays with it, and gets it again! It's awful! He's an animal!" Well, yes.

2:23:00 PM

Wednesday, May 24, 2006  

I watched more of American Idol this year than I have before. Usually I'd see the end of episodes since I always watch House and love that show. Hugh Laurie is brilliant! For some reason I got interested in it starting with the episode when Rod Stewart helped them since I wanted to be sure to see him. Their singing was best on that show than the ones following it. After that I kept watching and thought Chris would win. He seemed the most versatile and talented. It was a shock when he was voted off, but then who can tell about voters. Tonight we'll find out whether Taylor or Kat will be the next Idol. I hope it's Taylor. Katherine is pretty and sings well but isn't the performer he is. If Chris had been on there last night, it would have been a better show.

Later that night .....

I'm watching the finale and didn't know about Mandisa since I started watching after she was gone. Wow, can she sing!! Hope she gets a recording contract.

And later still .....

Taylor did win. And Harold won Top Chef. I hoped he would. He seemed to be a really nice guy and a talented chef. Tiffani was hard to get along with, and all of the competitors on tonight wanted Harold to win. I'm glad he did.

Did any of you watch either or both of these? If so, what did you think?

5:36:00 PM


In keeping with my media activism, I just bought the new Dixie Chicks CD Taking the Long Way. I heard on the news that Nashville station WKDF doesn't play their songs because the phone lines light up so much they had to install extra lines that would funnel the mostly negative calls to voice mail. WSIX still plays their older songs. As the Murrow quote I referenced states, dissent doesn't mean disloyalty. I love my country and am proud to live here, but I can see our flaws and point them out. It's no secret that I dislike the present misadministration and am outraged by most of their policies and actions. Why? Not because I am unpatriotic but because I love this country and planet and want the best for them. W and the gang aren't doing that. So I don't blame the Chicks for singing "Not Ready to Make Nice" and financially support their right to speak their minds. Tom Cruise is the reason I didn't watch War of the Worlds and one of the reasons I won't see Mission Impossible III. Remember the MI curse and how I'm flirting with danger by even acknowledging that it exists. He has become nuts and who even knows what all this with Katie (uh, excuse me, now he's decided she should be called Kate) Holmes is about. Scary! Anyway, I'm putting my money where my opinions are. I'm such a rebel. ;-)

12:00:00 PM

Monday, May 22, 2006  
More Posts!

Jackie has added more posts to our blog, and I've added a photo to the bee funeral story. Thought you might like to know.

5:26:00 PM


Everyone is a prisoner of his own experiences. No one can eliminate prejudices - just recognize them. ~ Edward R. Murrow

Linda and I went to see The DaVinci Code yesterday in Bellevue which we enjoyed and also which generated more conversations about all kinds of things. We've both read the book as well as Angels and Demons and found them to be interesting light works of fiction. Unlike a former Vice-President, we are able to determine the difference between fictional characters such as Murphy Brown and actual people. We can also spell potato and pronounce nuclear correctly. So all the hoopla, boycotts, protests, and objections to the book and movie made me want to go on opening weekend, especially on Sunday. Whenever organizations get so large, it is easy to see how political and sometimes corrupt they can become. (not that this doesn't apply to small groups and individuals as well)

There is a history of censorship, suppression, oppression, and editorializing in Christianity. I agree with a friend who said that she thought people envisioned God based on how they view life. For example, those who are intolerant, vindictive, and unforgiving worship the deity Jonathan Edwards preached about in "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God." Those who have a kinder, forgiving, loving God are more likely to be that way themselves. There are many shades of belief and action in between that organized religion caters to. I grew up in the Methodist Church and fortunately didn't have a lot of damaging religious baggage to unpack. There are some weird, scary, unspeakable practices done in the name of religion.

2:43:00 PM

Edward R. Murrow ~ True Now As It Was Then

We must not confuse dissent with disloyalty. When the loyal opposition dies, I think the soul of America dies with it.

From "See It Now"

Murrow's historic broadcast shown on March 9, 1954 on CBS TV:

No one familiar with the history of this country can deny that congressional committees are useful. It is necessary to investigate before legislating, but the line between investigating and persecuting is a very fine one and the junior Senator from Wisconsin has stepped over it repeatedly.

We must not confuse dissent with disloyalty. We must remember always that accusation is not proof and that conviction depends upon evidence and due process of law. We will not walk in fear, one of another. We will not be driven by fear into an age of unreason, if we dig deep in our history and our doctrine, and remember that we are not descended from fearful men- not from men who feared to write, to speak, to associate and to defend causes that were, for the moment, unpopular.

This is no time for men who oppose Senator McCarthy's methods to keep silent, or for those who approve. We can deny our heritage and our history, but we cannot escape responsibility for the result. There is no way for a citizen of a republic to abdicate his responsibilities. As a nation we have come into our full inheritance at a tender age. We proclaim ourselves, as indeed we are, the defenders of freedom, wherever it continues to exist in the world, but we cannot defend freedom abroad by deserting it at home.

The actions of the junior Senator from Wisconsin have caused alarm and dismay amongst our allies abroad, and given considerable comfort to our enemies. And whose fault is that? Not really his. He didn't create this situation of fear; he merely exploited it- and rather successfully. Cassius was right. "The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves."

Good night, and good luck.

2:31:00 PM

Tuesday, May 16, 2006  

I hate NBC. It used to be the network that won Emmys and had quality shows on it. Now, not so much. The reason I hate them is that they cancelled my favorite show. I watched The West Wing since it first came on and haven't missed an episode since. Sunday night was the series finale. No two-hour finale like others got. No promotions on talk show. No send-off at all. Just a "don't let the door hit you in the ass on your way out" treatment. It was not the way to treat an Emmy-winning show that NBC moved around and caused to lose ratings. OK, it wasn't as good after Aaron Sorkin left, but it picked back up again, especially these last several months.

I thought I would be miserable with an election and new administration but got hooked. I mean, after all, Jimmy Smits! He's always great to watch, and then we have Jimmy Smits as President-elect Matt Santos. Good chemistry with his wife. Josh as Chief of Staff. Donna as the First Lady's Chief of Staff. The possibility of seeing President Barlet again as visiting statesman or at the opening of his library. So many good story lines ahead. So much to look forward to. But no. Never again. I sent emails. Now I'll miss West Wing and hate NBC.

1:50:00 PM

New Post

Jackie posted a new entry on our collaborative blog. Check it out.

2:56:00 AM

Friday, May 12, 2006  
OMG! They've Killed Kenny's Face!

Kenny Rogers has joined others who for some reason decided they'd look better after cosmetic surgery and botox. Others off the top of my head I can think of who would look fine if they'd leave their faces alone are Priscilla Presley, Joan Rivers, Burt Reynolds, Mary Tyler Moore, and who else? Doing all this doesn't fool anyone into believing you're not your age but makes you look freakish. It's sad when we can't accept ourselves at all the stages of our lives and enjoy being where we are and who we are.

1:22:00 PM


After almost a year of being retired, I am beginning to feel rested. To say that teaching is stressful is obvious. I've recently started reading Teacher Man by Frank McCourt which triggers memories and brings cheers of agreement -especially since we both taught English and creative writing. I'll quote some parts of his book that resonate with me on here. This excerpt sounds negative, but it's realistic.

In America, doctors, lawyers, generals, actors, television people, and politicians are admired and rewarded. Not teachers. Teaching is the downstairs maid of professions. Teachers are told to use the service door or to go around to the back. They are congratulated on having ATTO (All That Time Off). They are spoken of patronizingly and patted, retroactively, on their silvery locks. Oh, yes, I had an English teacher, Miss Smith, who really inspired me. I'll never forget dear old Miss Smith. She used to say that if she reached one child in her forty years of teaching it would make it all worthwhile. She'd die happy. The inspiring English teacher then fades into gray shadows to eke out her days on a penny-pinching pension, dreaming of the one child she might have reached. Dream on, teachers. You will not be celebrated.

10:58:00 AM

Wednesday, May 10, 2006  

I back on this topic again with stronger views inspired by a letter from a retired border patrol officer. According to Snopes, the above-quoted letter to Senator Bill Frist of Tennessee (the Senate Majority Leader) concerning illegal aliens was written by David J. Stoddard of Arizona, who served as a U.S. Border Patrol Agent for 27 years. As far as we know, it was first published on the Internet when Mr. Stoddard posted it to the web site.

What he says makes sense, and I agree with him. We need to provide jobs that pay a decent wage and benefits, health care, and safety. Too many Americans have an over-inflated idea that everyone wants to come here and that we are a beacon of civilization and hope. Not really, and that letter points this out.

12:53:00 PM

Sunday, May 07, 2006  
Creative Endeavors

Tina and I went to an all-day scrapbook crop yesterday in Clarksville and had such a good time. We learned new techniques, won door prizes, visited, and had fun. We made a mini-album which I'm really into now. They make good gifts and are quick and relatively inexpensive to make.

Next Saturday we're going to a screenwriting workshop sponsored by the Tennessee Screenwriters Association and which they are calling a boot camp. It's at Watkins Film School and sounds intensive and productive. We're looking forward to it.

I guess it's taken me almost a year of retirement to rest and become ready to be productive. I'm motivated to get things accomplished now. Wish me luck!

8:50:00 AM

Friday, May 05, 2006  

Maybe I'm missing something, but it seems to me that what's happening to the illegal immigrants is exploitive and abusive. It all seems wrong on several levels.

Cable TV

I discovered that we have a documentary channel on Comcast. This is good news since I really like documentaries. Bad news because all I need is something else to watch!

11:43:00 PM


I've kept Brendan several times lately. He stayed here during the weekend while his parents went to Atlanta to Melissa's brother's wedding. It rained most of the weekend, so we didn't get to go to the park or do much outside. He did run through the back yard at Mother's Saturday and in my yard Sunday. Brendan loves being outside no matter what the weather. He's like a frisky wee pony (as I call him sometimes as well as a cheeky wee monkey - got it from Craig Ferguson) who has his freedom in the great outdoors. I'm glad and hope he always enjoys being active.

I highly recommend the Beatrix Potter DVD collection. They were produced for British TV and are wonderful. I've seen all of them several times. The animation is right from the illustrations in Potter's stories. Hugh Laurie does the voice for Johnny Townmouse, and Patricia Routledge is the voice of one of the adult cat cousins. When recommending children's movies, I keep in mind something that bears repeated viewing. This one does. I can handle The Aristocats several times, too, which he also likes. The Teletubbies wear a little thin, but I believe watching TV or movies with children needs to be active and not passive, so I use them as learning tools. (gosh, that sounded like a teacher!) They can learn basic skills at first and critical viewing as they get older. I can ask him what the Teletubbies are doing, comment on objects, actions, characters (all of whom I know now), and other things. Brendan decided the green one was named Gupsy, and when we watched them again this time he was here, he looked at me and said, "They call him Dispsy." I said, "Yes, but we call him Gupsy," so from then on he was "Dipsy who we call Gupsy."

When I read books to children, I like to discuss the story, help them make predictions, see what is on the page, check out the illustrations, and all kinds of things that help them learn to comprehend and appreciate the books. I think it's also good for children to have unstructured play time to explore and do what they want. Brendan plays with magnetic letters and numbers on the refrigerator, plays with his toys and stuffed animals, and as I mentioned before plays outside sometimes directly with me and sometimes exploring on his own while I watch. I love seeing him enjoy the parks, play grounds, and play areas. He enjoys it so much and has interesting comments and questions. He has fun in the bath with the foam letters and numbers and bath toys. What a delightful, happy little boy!

Being a grandparent is pretty wonderful. I like rocking babies and singing to them, so that's really special before bed. He requests songs and snuggles so sweetly. I'm glad he enjoys spending time here because it's fun for me, too.

11:42:00 PM

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