Posts tagged wordpress

A Trip to the Past

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“Serena,” Raven sputtered excitedly as they walked to the cafeteria beneath the beautiful autumn maples.

Raven turned around and giggled. “Serena, what’s wrong with you?

“There’s this new cafe off campus.”

“So?”smiled Raven, walking as they talked.

“Well, they serve tea ,coffee, hot chocolate or pastries, but that’s not the exciting part.”

“Then what is?” Raven asked, stopping in her tracks.

“When you walk in the door, you go back in time.” Serena whispered. “I swear. I thought I’d been drugged. Even my clothes were from the middle ages. Everything was, the food….”

“Raven grabbed Serena’s hand. “What are you waiting for, let’s go!”

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A Country Girl Meets the Big City

Arriving on Cecelia’s block had been quite an adventure. Everything looked the same. Rows and rows of tall brown buildings, each apartment with its private fie escape-seemingly the only thing “private” about the north-eastern metropolis. The noise was so uncomfortable, everyone seemed to be in such a rush. Honking horns and sirens filled the background. She had resorted to parking blocks away at a price high enough to buy a good meal in the Carolina’s, where she lived. Why hadn’t she just invited her cousin to her house where she could have at least have experienced a breath of fresh air!

Arriving on Cecelia’s block had been quite an adventure. Everything looked the same. Rows and rows of tall brown buildings, each apartment with its private fie escape-seemingly the only thing “private” about the north-eastern metropolis. The noise was so uncomfortable, everyone seemed to be in such a rush. Honking horns and sirens filled the background. She had resorted to parking blocks away at a price high enough to buy a good meal in the Carolina’s, where she lived. Why hadn’t she just invited her cousin to her house where she could have at least have experienced a breath of fresh air!

She walked quickly into the entryway where four elevators and some vending machines resided. Pushing the button to the fifth floor, she looked cautiously around her, hoping to see nothing that dwelt in this checkerboard city. As the door opened, a man emerged. Just a regular man, she sighed in relief as she went in and he emerged.

She took the note card with her cousins apartment number on it out to refresh her memory. “519” it said, as she began looking from side to side on the hall. At last she found it and breathlessly knocked at the door.

“Sophie!” her cousin said as she opened both the door and her arms. “It’s so good to see you! Welcome to my humble abode.”

“Humble?” thought Sophie, “we’ll see.”

She walked into the apartment and was pleasantly surprised. In contrast to the outdoors, it was surprisingly individualistic. The colors were bright and welcoming. The space, though relatively small, was well arranged and felt roomy. She began to feel better, more at home.

She thought of her home in the mountains, the sound of the trees whooshing in the wind, her dogs barking at squirrels in the woods, the long dirt driveway, the peace and solitude.

“What drew people to a place like this?”She thought. Money? Friends, and education, a boyfriend. She sighed and whispered, “who knows?” to no one.

Cecelia had gone to pour them a cup of coffee. This would be an interesting adventure. Next time, Sophie smiled, she would be inviting Cecelia to her house.

She walked quickly into the entryway where four elevators and some vending machines resided. Pushing the button to the fifth floor, she looked cautiously around her, hoping to see nothing that dwelt in this checkerboard city. As the door opened, a man emerged. Just a regular man, she sighed in relief as she went in and he emerged.

She took the note card with her cousins apartment number on it out to refresh her memory. “519” it said, as she began looking from side to side on the hall. At last she found it and breathlessly knocked at the door.

“Sophie!” her cousin said as she opened both the door and her arms. “It’s so good to see you! Welcome to my humble abode.”

“Humble?” thought Sophie, “we’ll see.”

She walked into the apartment and was pleasantly surprised. In contrast to the outdoors, it was surprisingly individualistic. The colors were bright and welcoming. The space, though relatively small, was well arranged and felt roomy. She began to feel better, more at home.

She thought of her home in the mountains, the sound of the trees whooshing in the wind, her dogs barking at squirrels in the woods, the long dirt driveway, the peace and solitude.

“What drew people to a place like this?”She thought. Money? Friends, and education, a boyfriend. She sighed and whispered, “who knows?” to no one.

Cecelia had gone to pour them a cup of coffee. This would be an interesting adventure. Next time, Sophie smiled, she would be inviting Cecelia to her house.

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As Fragile as Glass

Three years ago, I lost my mom.

She had been fading for years, but we still talked,

we laughed and loved.

It seems like since then loss and loneliness

have been so much of my life.

I feel like I am drowning.

After loosing my child, hope, faith,

and that special closeness with my family,

I feel I will never capture the joy in life again.

I can only beg you, young people,

to take that joy, when you find it,

and treat it as thought it was glass, because it is.

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A Precious Soul

She is 86 years young. I grew up to this amazing person, my aunt, youngest sister of my mother.

Since I was a toddler, I would walk up the hill to her house, plant flowers with her, watch her can vegetables, help her work in the garden, and help decorate for Christmas.

When I was a young adult, trying to survive a disastrous marriage, be a single mom, work and go to school, she made sure my kids and I had clothes, food, toys. Even today at her last siblings funeral, she smiled at me and said, “Maybe someday I can make up to you all that you have done for me.”

I smiled and quietly whispered, “If I were to live a thousand years I could not begin to make u for all you have done for me.”
I think often of what the world would be like if it were full of people like my aunt. She listens, she cares, she is generous, considerate, loving beyond all reason. I envy her thoughtfulness, honesty, willingness to help, or even to be kind when she disagrees.

If ever there has been a person who is “my precious. Is is my aunt, who is like a “sister”and friend as well. I have shared my joys and sorrows with her, helped her with her ailing elders, and enjoyed visits to her house several times a week, if not more. When I thin of the word, “beautiful”, her face comes to mind. She is the kind of person that makes life worth living on my worst day, a true treasure.

Thanks for being ‘my precious’, Aunt Phib!

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The Pain of Progress

“Wow!” Jack gasped as he and his friend, Don, walked down the street that was sparkling with activity in the 1980’s. “It’s empty, tagged with grafitti, this was the main drag back then.!”

Don took a moment to look around at what had been a new and up-coming area of their small mid-western town. The plants thank had been placed there to beautify the cement surroundings were over-grown. The sculpted trees were tangled with vines. It was sad, heart-breaking,to be honest.

”Progess.” Don sighed. What a joke. The walked on to the “new”main drag only a few blocks away.

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MONARCHS, LADY BUGS AND PRAYING MANTISES

Butterfly Monarch Butterflies Facts | Butterfly

I have studied insects for many years. Monarchs and their host plants, the many varieties of the milkweed plant, are  among my favorite.  I notice that the milkweed plants that we have in the Southern Appalachians, (wild and tame) do not look like some of the ones that I have seen in other areas, so there are more varieties than I am accustomed to watching.

There are several varieties of milkweed plants in our area. Some have tiny white flowers and delicate stems and leaves. Other, more common milkweed plants have slender leaves and are more “bushy”. The flowers are dainty and vary from yellow to deep orange. All milkweed plants secrete a milky white substance that makes the insects who feed on them distasteful and therefore, helps reduce predation..

I love to watch the life cycle of the monarch, which begins with the barrel-shaped egg that the female attaches to the bottom of the leaf of the milkweed. I watch as the tiny black caterpillars grown, soon showing their beautiful yellow, white and black stripes, which are visible from the time they have molted only once through several more molts, to adulthood. Fully grown caterpillars, hang upside down in a “comma shape”, suspended by a silky thread secreted from its abdomen. It looks like it is going to “dry up” or shrink, a bit, before it seems to magically turn into a mint green chrysalis with gold spots and a gold spiral.

Even through the Monarch caterpillars devour the plant as it grows, the leaves and stems will grow back on some branches, even those with with pretty severe damage. The milkweed is a perennial and grows back from a deep tap-type root that is not damaged by the monarch caterpillar. Therefore, I don’t have to worry if this season’s monarchs severely damage my plants. Next season, fresh new leave will appear, ready to blossom and then have their leaves and blossoms turn into a monarch feast.

There are several broods of monarchs, spring, mid-summer and late summer. Only the midsummer brood gets to partake of the blossoms, which seem to be the caterpillars’ favorite part of the plant.   When the monarch emerges, it secretes an orange fluid as it pumps up its wings with fluid. this is normal and necessary.  The wings will not take on their normal shape without it. It is very easy to tell a male monarch butterfly from a female because the male has a black spot in the middle of it’s hind-wing which secretes a hormone scent. The last brood of the season flies to Mexico, or Central America and over-winters as an adult, flying back north in spring to lay its eggs on newly sprouting milkweed plants. As with all butterflies and moths, the monarch is a four-cycle metamorphic insect, meaning it has 4 life stages-egg, larva, pupae and adult. Ironically, the Lady Bug,(as well as other beetles and ants) also has 4 phases in its metamorphosis.

The Praying Mantis and the Lady Bug (sometimes known as Lady Bird Beetle)are carnivorous insects.  They are often known as a “good” insects, or insects which eat insect pests that destroy many flowers and cultivated plants. Both insects start out with their favorite foods being aphids and gnats. As they grow, Praying Mantises catch and eat larger insects with their claw-shaped front legs. Lady Bugs stay with the smaller insects, mainly aphids. Praying Mantises are three-cycle metamorphic insects, as are all grasshoppers, crickets and cicadas – meaning they have 3 stages, egg-nymph and adult.

File:Praying mantis india.jpg - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Praying mantis molts from its’ exoskeleton four times. By the time they reach their third in-star, you can tell a male from a female because a female is larger and has a wider abdomen. As they grow, so does the size of the prey they feed on. Bees and small butterflies remain favorite foods throughout a Praying mantises life. A third in-star mantis has what might be called ‘proto-wings’ or wing bugs beginning to protrude from the top of its abdomen. A fourth in-star has larger wings which reach further down its abdomen, but are not yet usable. Only a full grown Praying Mantis can use it’s wings to fly.

Males , lighter-weight and looking for mates are more likely to fly. Females that are ready to make egg sacks can do little more than glide from the top of a plant. Therefore, males are more likely to end up prey themselves, likely to bats who use echo-location or a form of radar to detect where the mantis is.

Most of us have seen nature films where the prey, say a gazelle, gets away from a lion. This is true with carnivorous insects as well. I have seen a large butterfly or cicada struggle so hard with a Praying Mantis, that the Praying Mantis lost its claw! Fortunately, a young mantis starts to re-grow its claw, so if a third in-star mantis loses the end of its claw, it may have a usable claw again if it reaches adulthood.

It is also a myth that the female mantis always eats the male after mating. Ordinarily, the Praying Mantis chews off the wings of a flying insect and discards them right away , so that the victim has nothing to fight with, Using craft paint to mark them, I have marked mantises from third in-star on into adulthood with craft paint dots and have seen many male mantises mate more than once. The trick, (like that of a black widow) is to pick a mate that isn’t real hungry and “know” how to dismount. I have actually seen three male Praying Mantises trying to mate with one female at one time! Safety in number? Who knows!

Nature has so many variations of life that it would be impossible to run out of creatures to study. Some, of course, make studying them a bit easier and safer than others. I enjoyed teaching my little ones about insects and flowers and it brings a smile to me as I see them teaching these things to their own children. Observation is the best way to learn about creatures, and often, choosing whichever creature presents its self is the best way to “choose” what to study.

My suggestions: Keep a dated journal of both words and photographs. Include yourself and children in your pictures. Try to make some memorable photographs, keep your journals safe and share them with friends, family, classrooms and neighbors. Most of all, enjoy the world around you, protect and respect it so that the next generation can carry on your tradition!

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The Barrister’s Ball

The house was gorgeous as the hanson pulled up into the circular drive. The horses were a bit restless in the blowing snow, the driver having to calm them so that Serafina and her soon-to be husband, Dalton emerged.

Serafina’s coats blew wildly around her dresses. Her bonnet barely holding on as Dalton held on to his new black tophat.

“I simply despise these extravagant events!” Serafina complined as the doorman bowed and let them in.

“Oh, Sera,” Dalton sighed, “It is only one night and being invited to a party at Sir Dellingam’s estate is something you simply don’t turn down if you want to be a Barrister in the town!”

Serafina sighed and handed her coat to the doorman, hanging on to her reticule as Dalton shook out his coat and handed it in as well.

They we motioned to a room glistening with the light of candles and lamps, a roaring fire warming the room a little too much. Several servants scuttled by with trays, offering drinks and cucumber sandwiches, tarts, and even a tray of chocolates.

Dalton noticed an associate from his firm across the room and lead Serafina toward him.

“Ah, Raymond!” Dalton said with a smile and slight bow, “May I present my future wife, Serafina?”

“ Very nice to meet you, my lady,” Raymond smiled and turned to his left. “This is my wife Abigail. I am sure you will become good friends in the years to come.”

After a few minutes of conversation and more that a proper amount of delicacies from the trays, Dalton whispered to Serafina, “Come, I have something to show you!”

With a look of suspense in her sparkling blue eyes, Serafina followed Dalton down a hall and through a door behind a stairwell. There they found themselves in a small library, with doors leading out outo a terrace.

Dalton, opened the door as the wind swept over them, immediately bringing her warm coat to Serafna’s mind.

“Where are we? She inquired.

With a sparkle in his eye he smiled, “A place quite alone within a crowed house.”

“How did you…” she started to say, but found her mouth sealed with those of her fiance’.

“Oh, my!” she smiled as she shivered a bit, both from the kiss and the cold of the wind.

“See, I told you such parties were not so terrible!” he laughed as he opened the door and hustled her back inside.

Sarafina shook the snow off of her hair, hoping the pins were not too far out of place from the wind and the stolen affection. She fluffed it a big and curled her arm through his as they returned down the hall to the party.

Suddenly, the fire seemed particularly attractive as they walked together and stood in front of it, their hands touching behind them as they warmed themselves.

“Maybe being the wife of a Barrister would not be so boring after all,” Serafina thought as she helped herself to another tart from the pro-offered silver platter.

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The Trivial ( but Filled with Love) Item I Would Desire

Money could not buy back what I have lost-my son, my health, so much more, so I will go trivial. I have 2 Model A’s that I bought from my elderly uncle. One is is my son’s garage and one is under a carport at a rental house I am fixing up. My son, who claims them-(but he has to wait for me to kick it) takes care of them a best he can,but I need a garage to keep them in, like my uncle had SO much. It means a lot to me to keep these cars my uncle gave me safe and let my grand kids have them one day.

 So that will be my simple wish, a garage for my 2 Model A’s (Named Misty  Model A ” the ’29 Coupe” and Midnite Model A ” the ’30 full body black car) that my uncle pickedImage up cans and bottles from the side of the road to buy when he first got them!

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Shipwrecked

I felt chapped and burned all over, though the clouds were dark and threatening that cold winter day.

He ran down from the stunted trees, to the dock, where I waited in the boat as it rocked in the shallows of the sound. There on the the boat, he kissed my cheek. “You’re alive!” he cried out. As the schooner slipped below the waves, I grasped his hand and cried. I remember the horror of that day, not because of the warmth of the land, or the lovely clusters of palms, but because of the fierceness of the burning sands.

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Storm of the Century

We had watched the weather channel for days, awaiting the storm that was predicted to hit on New Years Eve. I started home from the store, with the wind picking up. I knew the storm was on the way. I hurried up the steep mountain road, hoping to beat the beginning of the snow. The kids were both home, I felt tears on my cheek.

The television was still on the Weather Channel, predicting “The Storm of the Century.” The kids, 14, and 17, were excited, as they looked out side. I was not so exuberant. We we were alone and I didn’t have a four-wheel drive. I would be stuck up here for days. I knew the electricity would likely go out and we had only a fireplace and a portable radio for comfort.

 I went down into the basement to get some wood to start a fire. Gathering the wood, I raced back up thee stairs, wanting to get the fire started before the winds got too fierce and we lost power.

 “Mom,” My daughter yelled, it’s snowing like crazy!” The excitement in her voice echoed down the hall.

 Sure enough, the air as filled with huge flakes of snow, already sticking to the ground. I rushed to get newspapers for kindling, and ran to the kitchen for matches. My son lit a candle in each of the main rooms, so that we would not be left in darkness. I was proud of how prepared we were.

 Suddenly, I thought of our elderly neighbor, Mr. Carter, who lived down the hill around a steep curve. He didn’t have a generator and was not able to contend with making a fire or cooking. We had to go get him!

 I yelled at the kids that we had to go find Mr. Carter. It was already dark outside by the time we got ready to go. We loaded up a wagon, in case he couldn’t walk up the hill and started down the road, streetlights still glowing in the snow and stiff wind.

 The wind took on a loud roar as we shivered in the blowing snow. I thought I heard a faint voice in the wind. “Oh, no!” I thought. “Mr. Carter had started up to our house own his own.’

 “Mr. Carter!” I called back. “Don’t go anywhere, we are on our way!”

 I heard a weak voice near where his long driveway started. “I’ve fallen.” he cried out. I think I hurt my leg!”

 Suddenly, the lights went out. We could see nothing in the swirling snow. I shouted out, hoping to hear his voice against the power of the wind. “Mr. Carter!” I cried out. “Can you hear me?”

 Nothing. The forest was silent between whirls of snow and crackling limbs. “Mr. Cater, can you hear me?” I shouted again. The snow fell on as we wandered in the dark, now on a desperate search.

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