Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Stumble Upon Chernobyl

This link just arrived in an email from StumbleUpon:

The photo scenes are starkly haunting, but fascinating and interesting at the same time. I remember when the terrible nuclear accident happened in 1986, but its been years since I've given Chernobyl a thought.
Here is a blog and website dedicated to continued indepth study of the the aftermath of the Chernobyl accident.

Monday, March 30, 2009

My World #25 - John Deere/Waterloo


my world picture

John Deere tractors are manufactured in Waterloo, Iowa, providing an economic beating heart for northeast Iowa.  There are four Deere sites around the city……the Downtown Works (foundry), the Engine Works, the Product Engineering Center, and the Northeast Site, which contains the tractor assembly line.  (Click on the pictures to enlarge them.)

I happened to be passing by the Northeast Site one day last week and took these drive-by photo shots.  These first three scenes show newly-built tractors waiting to be loaded on train cars or semi-trucks for shipment throughout the U.S., Canada, and the entire world.

The Northeast Site facility is situated on former farm land.  Native prairie grasses have been seeded in the fields in front of the main building.

The fields behind the assembly line building are used for crop land…….it looks like there were soybeans here last year.
Sorry I don’t have scenes from inside the Northeast Site.  Back in grade school, my class toured the downtown John Deere facility, when the assembly line was still located there.  I worked for a year at the downtown site, too……in a janitorial and maintenance department.  The mass of Deere buildings was like its own town there within the city of Waterloo.
Thank you for visiting this “My World Tuesday” post!  Please visit the “showyourworld” website to find more stops on this week’s tour.

Sir Robin the Vain

Chirp, chirp to you on this Monday morning!

robin 1

Pardon me while I attend to a bit of primping…..

robin 3

There…..do I look more presentable now?

robin 3

Yes……we all agree you look fine and dandy, Sir Robin!


Have a dandy day yourself, dear reader!

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Judica Sunday

Mar 27 28011

Today is Judica, the Fifth Sunday of Lent. The name has something to do with desiring to be governed well…….by God, first of all, and then by earthly leaders.

Certainly, I pray for our leaders. I would rather do that than lambast them.

Yesterday, I was involved in an e-mail argument with a person who believes our current president and his administration are a reincarnation of the Bolsheviks and/or the The Third Reich. It put me in such a sour mood that I baked cranberry nut bread and a chocolate sheet cake, and turned off the comments on today’s post. (Its Sunday—take a rest from commenting.)

I have no recourse but to pray for the person I was arguing with, and he is probably praying for me, meaning our prayers will cancel each other out. That scenario is happening amongst Christians thoughout the U.S. That’s sad.

We have a properly elected president, and an administration in place. It would seem that being prayerfully supportive of their efforts to govern would be the right thing to do.

By the way, the snowy photo was taken yesterday.

Blessed Judica.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Love Is The Answer

Musician Dan Seals passed away a few days ago.  Back in the 1970's and later, I could at times be found humming or singing in tandem with his voice on the radio, particularly when he was part of the short-lived duo, "England Dan & John Ford Coley".

My favorite recording of theirs was the song,
"Love Is The Answer", written by

Name your price

A ticket to paradise

I can't stay here any more

And I've looked high and low

I've been from shore to shore to shore

If there's a short cut I'd have found it

Light of the world, shine on me

Love is the answer

Shine on us all

Set us free

Love is the answer

Who knows why

Someday we all must die

We're all homeless boys and girls

And we are never heard

It's such a lonely world

People turn their heads

And walk on by

Tell me is it worth just another try

Are we alive

Or just a dying planet

What are the chances

Ask the man in your heart for the answers

And when you feel afraid

Love one another

When you've lost your way

Love one another

And when you're all alone

Love one another

And when you're far from home

Love one another

And when you're down and out

Love one another

And when your hopes run out

Love one another

And when you need a friend

Love one another

We got to love one another


Sure, some might dismiss this song as New Agey pop goo, but I always appreciated its emphasis of that timeless adage: “Love One Another”.

The following series of events really did happen; I've always wanted to weave this story into a blogpost and now seems to be the time, seeing as the experience involves the above song,
Love Is The Answer.

Several years ago, on a day in May, my daughter and I were driving from store to store in Waterloo-Cedar Falls, shopping for who-knows-what.  At one point, we were stopped for a red light at a busy intersection.  Do you ever suddenly relax and zone out for a few seconds at a moment like that?  Well, during that brief time a picture went through my mind of a person standing in the median area up ahead of us and they were being forced to make a quick decision on which way to jump to get out of the way of an oncoming car.  That is the absolute truth……that scene went through my mind, and I thought, “Gosh, I don’t know where that thought came from, but it would be an awful situation to be in.”  I should have sent up a prayer at that moment, but didn’t.
A few weeks later, in late June, right before waking one morning I had a two-part dream.  In the first part I was involved in a minor car accident (which did come true later that morning, by  the way) and the second part of the dream involved me watching several balloons which looked like faces wearing sunglasses.
Two days after that, I received a mid-morning phone call from my brother.  I figured it could not be good news, as my brother normally never phones me.  Sure enough, he related very sad news……our first cousin’s only son had been killed the night before in a tragic hit-and-run accident.  The driver was tracked down and was found to be drunk.  The accident happened at the intersection where the odd scene had floated through my mind!  The accident’s actual scenario was eerily similar.  My cousin’s 20-year-old son had been driving his motorcycle home from watching a movie at his girlfriend’s house.  Evidently, he had been stopped at the intersection and must have seen the drunk driver’s car barreling towards him from the opposite direction.  His motorcycle was found lying in the median as if he laid it down and then he most likely was forced to make that quick decision about which way to run.  He chose the wrong direction.  Oh, how very sad.
My siblings and I decided we would buy a plant to give to the deceased’s family.  I offered to go pick it out; my mom suggested a particular flower shop in Cedar Falls and I headed there on the day of the funeral home visitation.  Normally, I kept a few favorite CD’s in the car to listen to while driving, but as I headed to town that day I remembered with dismay that I had taken the CD’s into the house a few days before.  I thought, “Great…..I’ll have to listen to the stupid radio.”
After purchasing a nice potted plant, my plan was to deliver it to the funeral home.  My route would take me right past the scene of the tragic accident.  As I neared the spot, I suddenly became aware that the song playing on the radio was one I hadn’t heard in ages…..it was “Love Is The Answer” by England Dan & John Ford Coley.  This is the absolute truth……right as a I drove by the cross which had been set up at the accident site, these lyrics were coming over the radio waves, “Who knows why……someday we all must die.”  I shook my head in disbelief.  Right after that, I pulled into the nearby Subway for a quick lunch.  I sat down in a booth and unwrapped my sandwich, and right then the same song, “Love Is The Answer” began playing over the restaurant’s sound system.  By then, my amazement was so great, I could hardly eat.  As stated, I hadn’t heard or thought of that song in months, maybe years, and then suddenly I’d heard it twice in the span of five minutes, and right close to the spot where my cousin’s son had so recently lost his life.
Two days later, I accompanied my mom and stepdad to the funeral at a large church in Waterloo.  It was packed.  We paid our respects at the casket;  it was difficult to look at the handsome young man lying so still.  His parents appeared to be holding up well, but what grief they must have been feeling, despite the fact that they have a very strong Christian faith.
Once situated in the pew, I scanned the long row of flowers and plants lining the front of the sanctuary.  Suddenly, I almost froze…….right in the middle were several balloons which looked like soccer balls (the deceased had been an excellent soccer player).  As the balloons bobbed and turned gently, they looked for all the world like faces with sunglasses on!  Just like in that dream I’d had several days before!  On the way to the funeral I had told my mom about the dream, so I pointed out the soccer balloon faces to her, too.
The funeral actually had an almost joyous atmosphere.  Many people got up and spoke about how their lives had been positively impacted over the years by the enthusiastic Christian faith of the deceased.  He had a habit of urging his friends to get involved with church activities.
A few hours later, I was back at home and had just changed into regular clothes when the phone rang.  On the line was an old friend of mine, someone I’ve known since kindergarten.  She said, “Was that your cousin’s son who died in that accident?”  I told her it was, and then she said, “My cousin’s son died this week, too.”  I said, “Wha-at?!”  Yes, she had just returned home from his funeral in Colorado.  A tubing accident on a river there had claimed the life of her cousin’s teenage son, on the morning after my cousin’s son was killed.  Goodness gracious.  I immediately hopped into the car and drove to my friend’s house and we visited for a couple hours, amazed at the similarities in the two boys and their tragic deaths.  Both had had very outgoing personalities, strong faith, and lots of friends.  Both were survived by one sister.
Well, there you go……another reason why I’m so interested in dreams and coincidences.  Not that there is any particularly profound meaning in any of this, but the way these events meshed together seemed quite incredible at the time, and left me with the feeling that in some mysterious and miraculous way, everything is connected and foreordained.
And, don’t forget:
Love IS the answer!

Friday, March 27, 2009

Influential Authors

Recently, Kat, who lives in Ontario, and authors wonderful blogs (including “Poetikat’s Invisible Keepsakes” and “Poetikat’s Blasts From The Past”), posted a list of 25 authors who had a hand in the forming of her writer self.  She ended the post by challenging several other bloggers to also reveal 25 author influences; she included me in that challenge, so here we go……

First of all, let me say, it is difficult for me to refer to myself as a writer, though certainly I am a blogger, and bloggers do write, of course.  Reading came very easy for me at an early age, and my list of 25 includes authors I enjoyed as a child, often reading their books over and over again.  Some on the list are from my years of choosing books at our high school library.  Not attending college handicaps me a bit, as my list does not include important authors of classic works and intellectual literature and/or poetry.  I feel very inadequate in that respect, but so it goes, and I certainly don’t have time anymore to catch up on the crucial reading I should have done years ago.  Goodness, if I tried to do that, there’d be no time for laundry, cooking, doing dishes, feeding calves, walking, taking photos……or blogging!


Drum roll, please…….here’s the list, for better or for worse, and in simple alphabetical order:


Louisa May Alcott

Bess Streeter Aldrich

C.W. Anderson

L.M. Boston

Gwen Bristow

Charlotte Bronte

John Bunyan

Frances Hodgson Burnett

Taylor Caldwell

Mary Calhoun

Beverly Cleary

John Fox, Jr.

Hamlin Garland

Laura Lee Hope

Carolyn Keene

Lois Lenski

Helen MacInnes

Robert McCloskey

Robert Louis Stevenson

Irving Stone

Elswyth Thane

Agnes Sligh Turnbull

Mark Twain

Leon Uris

Laura Ingalls Wilder


I was drawn to stories that lifted me to laughter or reduced me to tears, and storylines related to historical events, and, of course, mysteries.

Books such as Mary Calhoun’s Katie John series, and Homer Price by Robert McCloskey, I read over and over again……I loved them because to me they were hilarious!  Fifteen by Beverly Cleary was another book which prompted much laughter and I read it several times.  For whatever reason, I always felt that the best book I ever read was The Little Shepherd of Kingdom Come by John Fox, Jr.  It must have contained all the facets I treasured in a story.

I still have the unabridged editions of Tom Sawyer and Little Women that my parents gave me for Christmas in 1965.  I was born in 1958, meaning those books were given to me when I was a second-grader, and I recall being very excited to start reading them right away.  It was slow going at first, but now in looking back, it seems that my brain/mind/whatever grew by leaps and bounds during the reading of those two books at that tender age.  Perhaps teachers knew how to teach reading better back then, too.  The entire group of girls I hung out with were voracious readers; we traded books back and forth all through grade school, sometimes almost fighting over who got what book next.

Truthfully, I don’t recall my parents reading to me much, though they might have in my toddler years and I simply don’t recall it.  I doubt that my mom read to me in utero.  To my parents’ credit, there were always plenty of books around our house.  I recall poring over Egermeier’s Bible Stories and a pictorial version of Pilgrim’s Progress, plus a series of books about John Deere tractors and implements that had faces and could talk.  Often, I would page through the Collier’s Encyclopedias, too.  My parents gave me a Revised Standard Version Bible when I was eight and the binding ended up worn out a few years later, not to say I read all 66 books, but probably came close, with Psalms and Proverbs being my favorites.

In my high school years, I absolutely loved Agnes Sligh Turnbull’s books. Maybe she developed her characters well, which is important to me when reading a story.  Its a slight if I’m not allowed to know the characters on a deep and personal level.

I love writing on the blog.  It would be very difficult for me to consider myself a writer, though.  Uncanny though it is, Ruth of the blog “Ruth’s Visions and Revisions” recently wrote a blogpost which very closely describes my own upbringing, and my resulting lack of expectations in many areas of life.  My experiences with my mother are almost identical to what Ruth went through with her mother.  I’m in complete awe at how clearly Ruth articulates that, and connects it to her own traits as an adult.  I wouldn’t expect to ever be considered a writer or that anyone would care about my writing.  Its just not wired into me.  Additionally, somehow I managed to marry a nonreader.  My husband can read, of course---he reads the newspaper and magazines---but he doesn’t read books, and thus doesn’t comprehend the love of reading, and the satisfaction of writing, and that someone might actually feel very drawn to doing it.  So, mostly, I keep those matters to myself.


Whew.  Ok.  Enough of that.  I’ll challenge one other blogger/writer to share her list of 25 influential authors:  Caution Flag of The Human Race 600 blog is a creative writing instructor and it would be fun to see her list!


Thanks again, Kat, for the challenge!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

SkyWatch #37


Welcome to a farm field in northeast Iowa. I had other plans for my SkyWatch post, but this morning a flock of gulls landed in our hayfield, securing themselves as first choice for today’s SkyWatch.

Mar 26 white birds036

A search in my Birds of Iowa Field Guide informs me that these are most likely Ring-Billed Gulls, stopping at our field for a rest and a snack during their spring migration northward.

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Besides the gulls, you also get to see what the sky looked like here this morning. It was overcast then, but this afternoon the sun is shining brightly!

Mar 26 white birds049

Please visit the official SkyWatch website to find links to beautiful sky scenes from around the world. As always, many thanks to the SkyWatch team.

Visit Ann's Moody Blues

Jumping in here briefly to urge you to visit "Ann's Moody Blues" blog. Several days ago, Gramma Ann started posting antique photos taken by her husband's great-uncle back in the early 1900's.

The above link will take you to Gramma Ann's post of today which features a U.S. Mail carrier riding a unique delivery cart in rural Maryland. I've never seen anything like it before. Please go take a look!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Sheep in the Sunset

Last Saturday evening around 7 p.m., Husband and I left home to drive to a county dairy banquet near Waverly. A stunning, out-of-this-world sunset show was in progress as we drove west on C-57. You’d better believe I pulled the camera out of my purse to snap some photos. (These shots came right out of the camera……no editing was done.)

c57 1

The next scene shows the bridge over Crane Creek. If you look closely, you can see something on the highway up in the distance. At the time, though, I didn’t notice that, for I was engrossed in snapping photos and looking downward, oohing and aahing over the glowing golden-orange scenes on the camera’s LCD screen.

c57 bridge

Suddenly, Husband slowed the car and blurted out, “Sheep!” I said, “What???”

Sure enough, a small herd of sheep had chosen that very moment to escape from their pen and scamper across the highway into the front yard of their owner’s house. Frantically, I began clicking the camera……

sheep 3

The sight of the gorgeous sunset was incredible enough……the sheep also making an appearance at that particular moment was indeed flabbergasting!

sheep 2

Whew…..just like that the amazing little sheep interlude was over and onward down the road we went, shaking our heads at what we’d just witnessed. The sun hovered over the lane we were driving in, as if beckoning us to come along…..showing us the way!

west of 63 2

The banquet was held at a church in rural Waverly. A farmer was burning fencerows in the field adjacent to the church. Shortly after we were seated for our meal, firetrucks were called in to help control the blaze!


This was the only picture I took at the banquet, and its rather blurry….sorry about that.


The Dairy Banquet makes for a pleasant enough outing and a chance to hobnob with other dairy farmers and people in related occupations. A dairy princess and junior princess are crowned there every year……sadly, there was only one candidate in each category this time, and they were even sisters! Those two girls and their parents will have one very busy summer, attending parades and being involved in county fair activities.

Several annual awards were handed out……”Cream of the Crop'’ to a deserving dairy woman; “Dairy Service Award” to a business which serves dairy farmers; and, “Distinguished Dairyman Award” to a dairyman who is considered “distinguished” (silver-haired temples not necessarily required). Every year, I listen in amazement as the winner’s off-farm activities are enumerated…..this year’s winner was lauded for heavy involvement in Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts, school bond issue committees, DHIA board, dairy promotion committees, etc. It always makes me wonder who is home doing the chores while he is away at meetings and such! In the background must lurk a helpful elderly father, a wife, children, and, perhaps, employees. Husband’s farm work is all-consuming and he has no time left over for off-farm activities.

The banquet meal was OK. I’m not a fan of huge, rarely-cooked slabs of prime rib, so I handed mine off to Husband. Actually, big meals in the evening are not my thing anyway, so it was all I could do to eat the baked potato and green beans, and innards of a piece of pie (I dislike pie crust, too…..picky eater, aren’t I!). The soft-serve ice cream machine owned by the Dairy Promoters was there and that was the best treat of the evening! Yum, yum! In the past, we’ve rented that machine for our kids’ graduation parties; my favorite memory is leaving the machine running until the next morning and eating soft-serve ice cream for breakfast! It was so good……very easy to take!

Four Bonnie Mohr prints were given away in a drawing. Sadly….boohoo……neither Husband or I won one of those. My water glass had a number on the bottom so I did win a door prize……a “Got Milk?” t-shirt in size XL. Wowser…..Husband can wear it. There were containers of Cows caramel candy on the tables, so I stashed a couple handfuls in my coat pocket. Hey…..why not…..people were supposed to help themselves and hardly anyone did. We also received our choice of a pound of butter or a pound of cheese on the way out the door, so we definitely did not go home empty-handed.

Let’s see if I’ve forgotten anything……oh, yes, there were several tables of dairy posters drawn by elementary students in the county. What a hoot! Quite a variety of ideas, ranging from very creative and clever to rather silly and sloppy. Many kids attempt to draw a cow, which is a rather difficult undertaking.


Before I bring this rambling to a close……back pedal for a moment to the encounter with the sheep on the highway. That happened on Saturday evening. On Saturday morning, Poetikat (gifted writer/poet/blogger from Canada) left a comment on my blog in which she happened to randomly mention that she liked the photo in the sidebar of me holding the lamb! That’s the first thing that came to my mind after we saw the sheep in the road! Poetikat……you let those sheep out, didn’t you!!


Annie lamb

(Little Orphan Annie and me……circa 1964. Annie’s mother had died giving birth and I raised Annie on a bottle. She lived to be very old and gave us many lambs. She was always a pet and would come a-running whenever she spied people.)


Sunday, March 22, 2009

UNI-Dome Antique Show

antique show day 005

Hey……let’s race……around the track…….

antique show day 003

……at the annual Antiques & Collectibles Show at the UNI-Dome in Cedar Falls, Iowa.

antique show day 009

Cold and gray reigned on the outside, but inside the Dome all was colorful and bright. If only there had been more time; I was there from 1 to 4 p.m. and felt forced to browse in a rather hurried fashion. The words “browse” and “hurry” just don’t fit together very well, though.

antique show day 001

My main goal was to find stacks of old photographs to look through. Recently I found out that my ggg-grandfather, Ira Wilkins, worked as a daguerreian/photographer in Viroqua, Wisconsin, in the 1850’s and in Charles City, Iowa, in the 1860’s and 70’s. Apparently he continued westward……my great-grandfather’s diary mentions his grandfather Ira Wilkins passing away in the Los Angeles area in the early 1900’s. Thus, I’m on the probably futile quest to try and find an old photo with his name trademark stamped on it. No luck today, although I did find a “C.E. Wilkins – Freeport, Ill” stamped on one old portrait. I looked at daguerrotypes today, too, and not many of them carry trademark names……that’s why I’m sure the quest will be fruitless. No matter, I am thrilled to know there is a photographer in my family tree!!


Somehow I managed to look at old books, too, and ended up purchasing the four in the next photo. Three were from “Hungry Horse Books”, the owner being from Fort Dodge, Iowa. While writing my check, I said to him, “Did you know there is a “Hungry Horse Dam” in Montana?” (I was there once many years ago.) The guy laughed and said that’s where the name of his business originated! Many years ago he had visited Hungry Horse Dam and after hearing the true story of the hungry horses, he decided that if he ever started a business he would name it after them.

antique show day 025


A Poem for Laetare

Today is Laetare, the fourth Sunday of Lent. A Latin word, laetare means "be joyful" and comes from the introit for the day, Isaiah 66:10, which begins with, "Be joyful......". Hmm, are we to be joyful during Lent? Maybe so.

Rarely have I attempted poetry, but am taking a stab at it in this post, prompted by the sight of crocuses emerging from the ground in front of our barn. The bulbs are lying within soil and under a layer of "tares".......corn silage blown out of the silo chute by the blustery winds of winter. Its a stretch to think thusly, I know, but the crocus shoots are growing amongst "tares"......leading to the word laeTARE. Do you suppose the crocus bulbs are feeling joyful as they send their shoots upwards? And, what force prompts that upward growth? Ah, we all know the answer to that.......the powerful, forceful gaze of the sun! Dare we say the sun "inspires" plants to grow and bloom?!

sun beaming




Brightly beams His shining gaze

Long before a response

From me is evidenced.


Coldly in darkness I hide

Averting my eyes

Not wishing to see.....or grow.


Ablaze with confidence

His brazen gaze

Penetrates to my chilled heart.


Effortlessly growth ensues

Coaxed by warmth

Directed by light.


Boldly does the gaze endure

Melting stubborn walls

Ever urging leaf and flower......



Happy Laetare.....Be Joyful!

Yield to an inspiring gaze!


Friday, March 20, 2009

Barn Karaoke

Spring break on the dairy farm.......college students are forced to shed their city/dorm image. In a desperate attempt to find something entertaining to do, they may give in to the temptation to sing along with the barn radio. In this first video the dairy maid croons exuberantly along with the amazing Whitney Houston on "I Wanna Dance With Somebody":

We're not sure who this child belongs to. She looks and acts NOTHING like Husband or me. A mix-up in the hospital nursery is most likely to blame; I should have opted for a home birth. Poor kid......she's had to put up with the likes of us all these years.


About all you'll hear in this second video is the milker pump and washer running......sorry. Her head movements crack me up, though. A quick Google search says that this song is "See You Again", sung by Miley Cyrus AKA Hannah Montana, daughter of Billy Ray Cyrus, the "Achy-Breaky Heart" guy. Land sakes......her family didn't know her identity, either.

Skip A Post

Skipping a post was the plan for today, but then the sunrise this morning caught my eye. This photo is blurry because the zoom is on all the way, but you get the idea. It was a cool sight!
"Skip a post" made me think of the song, "Skip A Rope". Remember that one?
Here's the original pointless post I had put together last night......with photos taken last evening during chores. I was running back and forth, here and there, in between feeding calves. Couldn't stay focused.......kept trying to find things to photograph. Its an illness, that's for sure.

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mar 19 106


Lastly…….”What is this?”

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C’mon…….take a guess!

Be sure to have a pleasant day, too!


Thursday, March 19, 2009

SkyWatch #36


Welcome to rural northeast Iowa, U.S.A. where fire-breathing dragons rule over sunsets!

dragon sky

Have no fear……its not really a dragon. (Its an old hay mower.)


Next we have a mountain range etched in evening sunlight:

sunset 1

Nah……you’re too smart to be fooled……there are no mountains in Iowa.


Here’s one more sunset scene for good measure:

sunset 2

Thank you for swinging by on your SkyWatch tour. If you’re not on the tour, then surf over to the official SkyWatch Friday website to join in the fun!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

The Acrobatic Leaf

Yesterday afternoon I was sitting in a pathetic old wicker chair on the porch, hunched over a tabletop piled high with bills, envelopes, stamps, a checkbook, a calculator, and a stapler.
I should be ashamed to say that the pleasantness of the warmish breeze, the gaily chirping birds, and the gently sighing pine trees had slipped from my awareness. My absorption in the depressing stack of bills in front of me was total.
At some point I opened up the laptop computer to check the day's blogpost and almost without thinking clicked the start arrow on the Harvey video. Once again, I laughed out loud over Veta wryly saying, "Oh-h, yes.....Elwood SEES someone, alright." As the video neared its finish, a fluttering sound on the window screen caught my attention.......a leaf was spinning rapidly there, as if on an axis. I walked over to take a closer look; the leaf was impaled on a tiny pine needle which was stuck in the screening. I ran into the kitchen to grab my camera, but to my chagrin the leaf's dance had stopped by the time I returned to the porch. It was quivering just the slightest bit in the breeze, though, as if its animation might restart at any second, so I stood and waited, camera ready.
Apparently, the talented leaf needed a few minutes of rest between acts, perhaps to gather courage for its grand debut on the stage of blogdom. It seemed the little leaf had dropped by just to brighten my mood. Actually, it seemed more like a bird than a leaf. Perhaps it was a sort of pooka or fairy.
Without further adieu, may I present.....for your viewing pleasure......
"The Amazing Acrobatic Leaf "
(Be sure to watch closely for the very brief encore appearance at the end.....and, please hold your applause until the performance is finished......thank you!)

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Irish Roots of "Harvey"

st patricks day

First of all, Top O’ the Mornin’ to You on this St. Patrick’s Day! I didn’t imagine I’d have anything Irish to blog about today, but you just never know. We random-stuff bloggers have to pick up prompts wherever we can. There is Irish in my family tree, but it may not be the right kind for celebrating St. Patrick’s Day. My Grandpa Wilkin died when I was nine, but one time I did ask him, “Grampy, what are we?” and he replied, “Scotch-Irish”. Does that count as Irish? Probably not, as there is no Catholicism in my family tree.

One gray afternoon last week I popped one of my favorite movies into the DVD player……Harvey (1950), starring James Stewart as Elwood P. Dowd, who claims to have a six-foot white rabbit---a pooka named Harvey---as his constant companion. Harvey is invisible to everyone except Elwood, of course. The delightful, uplifting story is crammed with cleverness and humor, providing me with plenty of therapeutic laughter. The DVD contains “extra” features, one of which is a bio of Mary Coyle Chase (a daughter of Irish immigrants), the newspaper journalist from Denver, Colorado, who authored the Pulitzer-Prize-winning play, Harvey. Mary Chase wrote the play in an attempt to cheer up her grieving neighbor who had lost a son in World War II. That’s cool……her intent was not for fame or monetary gain, but to help her neighbor.

I’m in awe, also, of Mary Chase’s grasp and use of coincidence. One of my favorite scenes in the movie is when the orderly, Mr. Wilson, is looking up the word pooka in the dictionary. It is brilliant! Mary Chase attributed her story-telling abilities to her three Irish uncles. As a child, she would listen to them relate tales of fairies and pookas from Celtic mythology.

Bio of Mary Coyle Chase

Mary Chase


Here is director Alan Bailey’s notes for the 2008 production of Harvey at Commonweal Theater, Lanesboro, Minnesota (I visited the very cozy Commonweal Theater in Lanesboro several years ago when my daughter attended a summer drama camp there.):

Mary Chase was born in 1907 in Denver, Colorado, to parents who immigrated
to the United States from Ireland. In 1942, she began writing Harvey, a play about a
friendly inebriate named Elwood P. Dowd and his invisible companion. The inspiration
for the play came from a dream she had in which a psychiatrist was being chased by a
giant white rabbit. It reminded her of stories her Irish uncles had told about pookas,
mischievous goblins in Irish folklore who appear only to those who believe in

The pooka is well-known as one of the most powerful of Irish fairy folk. It is an
adroit shape-shifter, and it may appear as a horse, rabbit, goat, goblin, or dog. Though
the pooka enjoys confusing and sometimes terrifying humans, it is considered
benevolent. It has the power of human speech, and it has been known to give advice
and lead people away from danger. The names of both Puck from A Midsummer Night’s
Dream and Winnie-the-Pooh are said to have derivations in common with the word

Mary Chases's play Harvey enjoyed a phenomenally successful Broadway run,
playing for nearly five years after its 1944 opening. It won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama,
and the 1950 film version starring James Stewart has achieved iconic status.
The dreamer that lies in each of us should never lose sight of the following ...
this play that has become a classic ...
this play that has endured for generations ..this play that is about one of the most famous dreamers in literature was
created because an artist listened to her dream.


In my unlearned view, the underlying theme of Harvey seems to be that larger forces are at work to bring joy into our lives, often in ways that seem comical or troublesome. James Stewart’s character, Elwood P. Dowd, is most certainly an oddball at first glance. For reasons never quite made clear, Elwood is completely resigned to the fact that the pooka, Harvey, is his constant companion. Elwood and Harvey prevail at every turn, effortlessly dodging attempts to thwart them. They guide and nudge those around them onto paths that lead to hope and joy. Harvey is most certainly a form of the trickster, about whom myths and tales have been told in many cultures down through the ages. Christians know it is the Holy Spirit, working miracles here and there as He pleases. Elwood never quenched the Spirit's influence……he was in step with it.

May you have a blessed St. Patrick's Day, whether you are properly Irish or not. I will be wearing green just in case my Irishness is legitimate.
(Harvey---or whoever my trickster is---must have been at work while I was writing this post. I had the whole blogpost finished in Live Writer, but then somehow managed to close the Live Writer window, deleting the whole thing. Evidently, Live Writer does not auto-save as you write, like Blogger does. My husband came in for his noon meal right then, and I’m afraid I was very quiet as we ate, because I was running sentences over and over in my mind so I wouldn’t forget what I had written.)

May your trickster show kindness to you today!


Monday, March 16, 2009

Dairy Headlines By Mookie


Greetings from me, Mookie the Cat! I’m so glad you stopped by; maybe you can be of assistance to me……I need to find a job to pay for my cat food. That’s why I’m purr-oosing the columns of this dairy newspaper. Dairy farms need cats to keep the mouse population under control, so I’m looking for “Cat Wanted” ads.

Hmm……I seem to be having trouble finding those two words together…..”Cat” and “Wanted”. Here’s “Free Cat to Good Home” and “Cat Give-Away” and “Kitties For Sale” (good luck with that)……but no “Cat Wanted”. I just don’t understand it.

Well, to keep this newspaper-reading session from being a total waste, I’ll share some of the headlines with you, in case you’re not up-to-date on dairy issues. They will be fairly random and disconnected, so hold onto your cat…..er, hat:












“MILK PRICES (paid to farmers) DOWN 50% FROM LAST YEAR”










Yeah, even I, Mookie, know that many of you blog readers are also feeling pressure in this current financial crisis. You may be in danger of being laid off from your job or losing it altogether, or having your wages or salaries cut, or losing your retirement savings. I feel for you, truly I do, but you must understand that my main worry is cat food. On that note, I will return to my search for “Cat Wanted” ads. Hang in there. Thanks for stopping by.

By the way, Jeannelle wants me to tell you something. She can't tell you herself because she's engrossed in reading a new book......it has trees on the cover.......I guess Jeannelle likes trees. Anyhow, she wants me tell you that she finally saw robins yesterday.......on the way to church, there were robins flying around all over the place. Hmm.......yum.......robins. Hey, they would make good cat food, wouldn't they?! I'd better skedaddle to the out-of-doors and start hunting.

[Jeannelle also asked me to link to this editorial she saw in yesterday's Waterloo Courier. Jeannelle worries somewhat that she and her husband have erred in encouraging each of their four children to go to college. For one thing, college is terribly expensive and without stupendous scholarships, kids leave there burdened with debt. Plus, not everyone can be an engineer or accountant or teacher or doctor or have a desk job of some sort. Someone's got to stay behind and man the trenches, taking care of things at the very basic of levels.....repairing vehicles, building and maintaining infrastructure, growing food, tending to sick and aged people, being stay-at-home mothers when children are small, etc., etc. Jeannelle knows that many of you might not agree with her and that's OK. Perhaps a shakedown has begun and things will balance themselves out eventually, but it may be a painful process and we may have to change our views in some areas.

It was in a different era, of course, but back when Jeannelle was growing up her parents discouraged college......and, so did her high school guidance counselor. When Jeannelle (of straight A's and an ACT of 29) told him she wanted to go to college to study history, he told her that was "pointless". Apparently, he could see into her future better than she could. Yeah, right, whatever. She never possessed "uumph" and assertiveness, that's all. As of this moment, I, Mookie the Cat, am of the opinion that Jeannelle should rebury her nose in that tree book, as I have robins to pursue. Have a good day!]

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Afternoon Walk

Here’s some immensely exciting news for you! I went for a walk this afternoon! In sunshine…..and the proof is here in the spindly shadows of this hay rake:

Mar 14 030

Trilling high in the treetops was a band of redwing blackbirds. They haven’t yet descended to their roadside fenceposts.

Mar 14 053 (2)

The ground was solid enough for venturing on foot to the sandhill hayfield. At one point I looked down and saw this portion of a ceramic White Crown fruit jar lid---a relic from long ago. Several years ago I found a complete, unbroken White Crown lid in the field and it just so happened that shortly before that I had purchased a lidless White Crown canning jar…..at a thrift store, or a garage sale, or on eBay, I don’t remember exactly, but now I had a lid to go with it!

Mar 14 036 These next three photos were taken from the hayfield, with the zoom all the way on, thus they are a bit blurry. See the buildings in the background…..they are new, erected on the site of one of the farmsteads destroyed by last May’s F5 tornado.

Mar 14 039 Here’s another place that was destroyed……sheds and a house have been rebuilt:

Mar 14 042

Shown in this next scene is the farm I grew up on, several miles away. Its looks entirely different than it did before the tornado. There formerly was a round barn there and lots of red buildings, surrounded by a windbreak of trees. All that is gone now---a farm’s history down the drain, which is fine---the main thing being that no one was hurt or killed. The shed and bins are new since the storm. My brother had the shed built extra-strong and he’s in the process of building a concrete house, also.

Mar 14 048

And lastly, for good measure…….a junky conglomeration for your viewing pleasure (or displeasure):

Mar 14 047 Hopefully, there is sunshine where you are this weekend!