Wednesday, March 22, 2006


Eliza and I left Marietta last Friday (3/17) and headed to Lexington, KY to see one of my lifelong best friends, mentor, grad school prof, and favorite Brit, Dr. Brian J. Dendle.

There are just not words that can adequately express the tremendous respect and love I have for "BJ." I remember the first seminar I had with him in graduate school as being the hardest and most intimidating class I had ever had...I knew nothing about the 19th century peninsular literature; Dr. Brian J. Dendle was recognized as one of the world's leading scholars in that field. I had never read a single novel by Benito Pérez Galdós; Dendle's claim to fame was his expertise on the man and the hundreds of novels Galdós had written. After two days of cowering in the back of the classroom, I went to plead with my advisor (Dendle's best friend, as it turns out) to let me drop the class. Dr. MacCrary refused, and I had to stick it out.

It was lucky for me because had I dropped, I would never have gotten to know Brian Dendle. My second year as a grad student, I assisted Dendle in a summer travel program to Mexico, and upon our return, I spent the rest of the summer living at his house. Under Dendle's careful guidance, breaking only for a couple of ping pong games a day against him, I prepared for my written and oral exams.

That was over 30 years ago. We've traveled together, served as each other's sounding boards, and spent hours and hours engaged in conversations about many, many things. Brian J. Dendle is one of a very few people in whom I place total and complete trust.

What was really neat about last weekend was that Eliza got to know Dendle again. They hit it off really well, sharing the same sense of dry wit and sarcastic humor. They both had great comebacks for each other in our conversations, and she listened carefully as he talked to her about language, the importance of writing, the necessity of sound verbal skills, etc. He was wonderful with her, as she was with him.

We returned home on Sunday, and on Monday(3/20), Joe Davis and his girlfriend, Elissa, came to the farm for a visit / work days here at the farm. Over the course of two days, we cut down trees, cut up and hauled the brush into burn piles, shored up the grapevines, cut down and cleared the vines around the barn, and made a list of 500 other things we want to get done at the farm. We fixed good food, napped in between our working "shifts," got some good conversation in, and took some great walks. My gratitude to Joe, Elissa, and Joe's dad, John, is HUGE! Those guys worked their fannies off doing manual labor in the snowy cold and loved doing it!

Eliza and I have spent the evening talking about the incredible people we know and who form a part of the farm family. Joe's been around for 25 years or so, and Elissa, here for the first time, fits in as if she's been around that long as well...She's a farm natural! and such a wonderful person.

It's all about love and simple pleasures here. Hanging out.... Working the land..Cooking good food.....Listening to music....there's nothing better to share with those we love and who love us. The Farm...It's home and blessed are we to have so many who share it with us!

Spring poem....I read this every year on the first day of spring. It's a poem by Wendell Berry that I wrote down in a journal I got for Christmas in 1991....So, officially a couple of days late, I now read it again......

At the start of spring, I open a trench
in the ground. I put into it
the winter's accumulation of paper,
pages I do not want to read,
again, useless words, fragments,
errors. And I put into it
the contents of the outhouse:
light of the sun, growth of the ground,
finished with one of their journeys.

To the sky, to the wind, then,
to the faithful trees, I confess
my sins: that I have not been happy
enough, considering my own luck,
have listened to too much noise;
have been inattentive to wonders;
have lusted after praise.

And then upon the gathered refuse
of mind and body, I close the trench,
folding shut again the dark,
the deathless earth. Beneath that seal,
the old escapes into the new.

~Wendell Berry

Wednesday, March 15, 2006


Winter quarter has officially come to a close for me. I just posted my last set of grades, closed my gradebook, and stashed it in my desk. For a week, I plan on clearing my mind of anything and everything related to work. Plans for spring break? Visit a dear friend, mentor, and former professor in KY who has been an incredible inspiration in my life....See my sister-in-law (sister of my ex-husband) and her daughters...Work on the farm a couple of days...Head to NC to visit parents and Sammy....Hang out with Eliza....Sleep...Walk...Do yoga....Read a novel....PLAY !!!!

My gratitude at the moment is for ....Some wonderful students who didn't let up toward the end....My yoga students for really allowing themselves to think out of the box and get into our Wednesday afternoon practices....My wonderful beyond words office mate, Mary Ann.....My fellow Level 4 colleague, Deb....Tom J. and Dr. Tom....The end of the quarter!

The sun is shining brightly as I prepare to lock the door and walk to my car....
One more quarter and then it's time for SUMMER break!!!!!

HOORAY !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Monday, March 13, 2006


Loonis, the fetch-playing cat and princess of the felines here at the farm, was totally into "feeling her oats" the other day while I attempted to do some work around the side yard. As I pulled weeds, she distracted me by pouncing on every dried blade of grass that wiggled. While I carried off the limbs I pruned, she attacked each pile from some hidden perch along the path to the brush pile. And, more than once, I spotted her feisty grin and swishing tail before she would jump out at me, arch her back, and go hopping sideways across the yard. Her final feat of the day was to climb the grapevine post and swat at my head as I stood there debating where to make the first cut in my pruning endeavors. In short, it was play time for her and time to forget about the pruning for me.

Loonis, named for some famous North Carolinian whose name Eliza and I spotted on a coffee table book , came from the animal pound. The moment I walked in the door at that smelly place, this little gray ball of fur began meowing at the top of her lungs, fixed her eyes directly upon me, and bellowed until I approached her cage. She was quite a persuasive little kitten because she didn't let up until I held her, and when I tried to put her back in the cage, she whimpered so, so pitifully that Eliza and Lori (who had already picked out 2 more kittens!!) insisted that Loonis complete a threesome that we ended up bringing home. (Unfortunately the other two adoptees, Yoda and Bibbis, went to Kitty Heaven not long thereafter--one as a result of illness and the other as a result of an accident.)

That was almost three years ago, and Loonis, the surviving feline from the trip to the shelter, has staked her claim as the only cat who sleeps on my bed (much to Hendrix's chagrin) and the only cat who eats indoors. Currently her favorite pastimes include bringing her felt ball to whomever is at the computer for a game of fetch (and jumping up on the keyboard to dance about until the person there picks up the ball to throw it again...quite annoying when one is preparing an important document like a final exam), attacking the paper as it comes out of the computer printer, swatting at heads from underneath the banister when one walks down the stairs, and randomly zipping through the house while stalking some imaginary bird or rodent.

For me, she's a lesson in getting what she wants and doing so without a second thought. And beyond that, when things get too serious, she's the world's best teacher about the importance of chasing your tail until you flop over, getting up, flashing a big grin, and doin' it again!

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Twilight Cacophony....

I grabbed the laundry basket this evening and headed down to the basement...
With ideas ping-ponging around in my head,
I threw the dirty clothes into the washing machine without giving a second thought to sorting them....
Tossed in the detergent ....and
Walked back outside....somewhat dazed, fatigued....

That's whenI heard it - -
The first concert of the year
Down by the pond.
Hundreds of voices announcing their transformation
from tadpoles to wannabe bullfrogs...
Adolescent amphibians
joining in a spring chorus...vibrations in unison...
The second verse....

It was magical....a connection to the same moment year after year
and to the memories it brings...

The first song of the "peepers...."
March 9, 2006.....

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

International Women's Day
March 8, 2006

"The campaigns of the people are weak only when the hearts of women are not recruited to carry them out. But when women step in and help, when the naturally shy and quiet woman stands up and applauds, when the cultured and virtuous woman annoints the task with the sweetness of her affection, the campaign becomes invincible." ~José Martí

(The flower to the left is the Mariposa, the national flower of Cuba.)

Saturday, March 04, 2006

(I'm going to brag a bit here.....)

Today, and always, but especially today, I'm a very proud mom. Sweet Eliza, my baby girl who is definitely not a baby anymore, tried out for the high school color guard squad yesterday and was selected! Go Eliza!! She's such a great kid. While other moms talk about the difficulties of living with their teenage daughters, I sit back and count my blessings. Eliza's very easy...easy to live with...easy to get along with....easy to hang out with...She's bright, beautiful, and loving, has a GREAT sense of humor, and enjoys life to the fullest....I'm delighted for her....Can't wait to see her marching with the band and performing on the field!

And an incredible young man! His transformation over the past year and a half has been so great to witness...His mind is active and curious--his intellect, keen. He's hoping to do an internship at a winery in NC this summer, make a little cash, and eventually study abroad. The adventures that await him will be AMAZING, for sure! Samuel's a wonderful person and one of the most sensitive and caring young men I've ever known.

I suppose one of my greatest satisfactions is that I know my kids make this world a better place...I know that sounds cliché, but it's true, and for that, I am very, very proud.

OK, on to other things....

This amaryllis is the second to bloom here at the farm this winter / almost spring. When I walked into the dining room this morning, it was the first thing I fixed my eyes upon. It's a little pinker than the photo shows...very delicate and feminine. Other plant friends are getting ready to blossom---I'm really excited about the orchids that are sending out bloom shoots.

Best get outside and enjoy the day. It's chilly, but way too pretty to be inside.

May whoever reads this find themselves in a space of total happiness and joy!


Wednesday, March 01, 2006

when all I can do is laugh at myself....

This morning--
While standing in front of the bathroom mirror waiting for the hair dryer to start blowing air and thinking all the while that it was broken, it dawned on me that I had plugged in the iron.

Later in the morning--
I walked into the kitchen outside my office and stood there with my keys in my hand, attempting to open the refrigerator door.

This afternoon--
I went to the women's restroom to change my clothes for yoga class. I took off my dress, hose, etc. to put on my yoga attire and realized that I had left it on my desk in my office. So, I had to re-dress, go get my clothes, return to the ladies' room, and start all over again.

Two more days until Friday........I think I need a break!