A Memorial to Sharon Webb Brown forum: Lessons from Sharon

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Oct 26, 2016 6:09 AM CST
Name: Arlene
Grantville, GA
Personal taste can often account for numerous problems. One time I had to teach a teacher's workshop, lots of people attended. Lots, as in more than I expected. Some I didn't know, some I did. It was about integrating cultures via the arts into regular classroom studies. The day started a little rough, a late summer day, hot and sweaty and I remember grabbing a hat as I left, probably a straw hat, not too shabby and wore it with me as I entered in a late hurry to teach that workshop. My opening words as I rushed in were simply, 'So sorry, I'm having a really bad hair day,' and I jerked the hat off and let everybody see hair that waved in all directions. It was longer then than now. Messier too. But I grabbed a band and jerked most of it up in a pony tail and opened my mouth to introduce myself when the entire group started laughing and then applauding. Best workshop I ever taught. It was in a summer session at Murray State U.

Fast forward to another year and we had a very expensive guest speaker hired from the state's list of preferred speakers named Azalea something. She was a bit older than I was, larger, but then most are, and she got up to speak. I sort of noticed that she was wearing a tailored gray 3 piece suit, the kind that comes with a buttoned vest, with low heeled black shoes of no real description. Her straight skirt hit about 3 or 4 inches below her knee. I remember thinking she should have worn boots with that skirt instead of almost flat black sort of penny loafer type shoes. Her blouse was buttoned up to her bottom chin, though she wasn't really fat, and there was a ruffle circling her entire neck. Tightly. Her hair was . . . well I can't remember her hair, dark something, but nothing about the hair registers. It was hot, and I remember wondering when she'd start sweating.

Anyway, she got up to speak and the room was respectfully quiet and her first words were something about teaching us how to dress for the classroom. I glanced down at my long flared and pink and green flowered skirt that was trailing the floor from my chair. And my toes peeking out from my hot pink sandals that had pink and green beads on them. Matched my skirt. And my Salmon colored Kiss Me Pink toenail polish. Matched my shirt, the one that also had pink and green beads on it. Scooted down a little in my chair. Hid my shoes beneath my flowing skirt. Picked up a notebook and held it across my hot pink shirt. And was very thankful I was short. And could scrunch up.

So she talked about clothes and how important it was to not divert attention from the important subject being taught by wearing very dark colors and very dark shoes for the sake of our dignity. There were men in the group, many men and they were not left out of her directions. Same thing applied, dark clothes for dignity and to keep the young ladies from falling in love. And the young men. Dark clothes demanded dignity and close attention to what you were teaching. She said.

After what seemed to be days of her droning but dignified voice she opened the floor for comments or questions.
Now keep in mind that I have a lot of friends. Many of whom sat in that room that day listening to Azalea. Men and women teachers, all of them. Some of them had also been in the culture workshop that I taught the year before. The straw hat hair one. They had once been good friends. Long ago.

One of them opened the comment period by standing up in front so the world could see, dressed as he was in his brown slacks and open collared knit golf shirt and said, 'Ms Azalea, do you think it's proper for a workshop teacher to come late into a classroom filled with teachers and begin teaching her workshop by yanking a straw hat off her head, letting some kind of wild curly hair fall in her face and then taking time while she introduced herself to tie it all up into a pony tail?"

Azalea kind of sputtered trying to form the word No, which I heard barely though she probably yelled. Because just as that 'NO' rolled off her sputtering tongue, that room burst into laughter and then wild applause.

The stinkin' woman thought the applause was all for her because she took a little bow and raised up when the applause finally stopped and continued talking about how undignified that was, beneath the dignity of that teacher who should surely have been given walking papers immediately. What a perfectly awful example she set for any student, she said. I don't think the wicked woman ever realized that not a person in that room was looking at her. By that time I was probably down on the floor somewhere but luckily the meeting was over shortly after and I sort of crawled out of that huge room. My principal, my friend, walked up to me after and told me he very nearly walked over and asked me to stand up so she could get a good look at an excellent teacher with 30 years of experience behind her, no matter if she was covered in a straw hat and pink daisies. The truth is later he said he did tell her before she left. I hope he really did. I loved that man, still do.

So sometimes we stifle our inner selves to meet expectations, but sometimes we let them out of the cage and hope we don't offend too many people. It's just the way we are.
Oct 26, 2016 12:14 PM CST
Name: Vicki
North Carolina
Upon first moving to western KY, I taught in the newly built county high school, but then after my children were born, I stayed home with them until they were ready for school themselves. When I returned to teaching, I chose to go to the middle school, it was closer to my home. I'd never taught middle school, but I loved it and had some wonderful students. One year I had several amazing male students, very creative, artistic, and highly intelligent. I had them in my art classes for their 6th, 7th and 8th grades, then I was asked to return to the high school, back to my former classroom. Since those wonderful young men would be following me there to start their years as HS students, it was a win/win situation for me. I would have them again as art and humanities students. So I went back to teach at the high school.

When that class of boys became seniors, my department had created presentations that included all levels of study and all subjects. During the spring we had a fair. The year of daVinci, the theme of the fair was the Renaissance, and each subject area was to create a presentation telling of the events/inventions/creations pertaining to that subject...covering whatever occurred during the Renaissance. We had this fair every year, and covered different time periods. So...

My class of boys decided to create an updated version of daVinci's painting of the Last Supper. We had learned that during the Renaissance, artists used each other as models most of the time, and the new emphasis in art was the study of perspective and proportion. My boys were a group of 17, still yet all equally talented, creative and hightly intelligent. They were dream students, and I'd taught them for 6 years. They planned to recreate the Last Supper using themselves as models for the disciples and for Jesus. One of them, Nick, had long dark hair, he was tall and thin and the class voted and chose Nick to be in the position of Jesus. The other 16 chose to be whomever they wanted, and of course there were only 12 disciples in the original painting, so we had 4 left over.

The background was to be our classroom, including the windows and the chalk and bulletin boards, and one of the art tables was to serve as the table in the painting. The extra students decided to place themselves away from the table, looking out the windows, etc, but still all things in the original daVinci painting would be included. We debated about dress. They decided since they were painting themselves and each other, they'd dress in their current fashion. After all, it was an updated version of an old painting.

Now this you'll have to imagine...the painting was about 40' long and approximately 8' tall. We had to hang the canvas over the bulletin board that covered one wall. We left it unframed because it was so big. We would have to transport it by rolling it up. I had to order the canvas by yardage. It would be life sized.

I had a Polaroid camera for the classroom, so each student assumed his position, matching the actual painting as well as he could and I took a photo of each of them in that position. From the photo, he would paint his own portrait. They drew the background, checking for perfect perspective all the way. They copied the windows in the room, they copied the position of the table, but of course it was the art room they were painting. It was just painted in the style of the Renaissance. Then they drew themselves in place, spent some time painting the background, then were ready to start on their own portraits.

Our art room had an open door policy. It was across the hall from the cafeteria and it had two doors. When the school had visitors who wanted a tour, the administration always brought them to the art room, entering one door and walking through the room, observing what we were working on, and leaving by the other door. Same thing happened during the lunch hour, teachers would wander in and out of our classroom just to see the projects the kids were working on. Our school was large, and we ate in shifts, so the art class ate during the last shift, which meant people wandered in and out during the first hour while we were in class. If I were lecturing, I just kept the doors closed, otherwise we had lots of visitors on studio days.

The first few days we were painting the daVinci picture, we had visitors, but in its first stages the visitors couldn't tell what the painting was, all they knew was that it was for the Renaissance fair. But before very long, the painting took shape and most people recognized the positioning of the Last Supper.

This area of KY is in what is called the Bible Belt. Most here are good people and have a firm belief in the Bible as the word of God, our administrators in the school were definitely these kinds of people. When the painting began to take shape, I noticed a steady stream of teachers and administrators walking through the art room, eyeing the painting, not saying much.

After a few days, one of the vocational school teachers came into the room and made his way to my side. He asked if he could talk with me for a minute, so I stepped to the door with him. He said: "You can't let the kids do this! It's blasphemy!" I asked what he meant by blasphemy. He told me that it was blasphemous to use the student as a model for a picture of Jesus. Then he walked away.

I walked back into the classroom, and of course the boys wanted to know what he said and I told them. We gathered in a group, closed the doors, and revisited the Renaissance artists for awhile, talked about the time period, talked about the beliefs of the time and discussed just how paintings were done during that era. We came to some conclusions based on fact, then the boys continued with their painting.

It wasn't long before we were visited by two administrators, one woman and one man. The woman said to all of us: "You can't continue with this painting! It's blasphemous!"

I asked her what caused the painting to be considered a blasphemy. She said the same thing, we were using Nick in the painting to represent Jesus.

So I turned to the class, and I said: "Who can tell me the artist who painted the original Last Supper?"
Jonathan said: "Leonardo daVinci."
I asked: "And when did daVinci paint the Last Supper?"
Johnny said: "In the late1490's."
I asked: "And who did daVinci use as his model for Jesus?"
Nick said: "The artist, Raphael."
So I asked one more time: "When was the painting done?"
And the whole class answered: "The late 1490's."

So I turned back to the female admin, and I said to her: "Ms. J, do you really believe that Jesus came to pose for Leonardo daVinci in the late 1490's, and do you really believe he brought all his disciples to pose with him? Do you really think that daVinci actually painted a portrait of Jesus?"

Both admins just stood there, mouths open, then walked away. I closed the doors, and the kids, who had been silent, started applauding. I never heard another word about it, and the fair went on. After the fair was over, one of the local banks asked if the painting could be displayed in their lobby for awhile. It was. After school was out and the boys had graduated, we had one of the State Parks ask to display it in their community building. So the painting made the rounds that year. Everybody loved it. And I think the entire county could name every student in the painting. My boys had done excellent work!

The most interesting thing, the boys were also all in sports, Nick, Jonathan and several others played soccer, Johnny and one other played football, and if I remember I had a couple of basketball and baseball players, too. And they were amazing artists!

My boys graduated, 10 went on to college and are now in various professional positions. Nick teaches in London at the Oxford College of Architecture, studied there and remained. Jonathan is a big deal business manager in Nashville, and Johnny took my place as art teacher when I retired. He still has the rolled up canvas of our Renaissance painting in our old classroom, he uses it whenever he teaches the Renaissance. He studied art at SIU, got his masters there, I think. He also is one of the football coaches. The other boys are doing well, I keep in touch with most of them. They are in their early 30's now, some with families of their own.

That was a little bit of a battle that together we handled well. I didn't mean to hurt anybody's feelings, but I knew my boys and they knew me. Together we knew the facts about the Renaissance, too. I guess it could have gone either way, but we weren't in the least defiant, I knew the kids well enough to know they wouldn't be. That might have been my favorite year of teaching, but I can also remember others that were good as well.

So that's my daVinci story. The original painting is below.
And to all a Good Night.
Sure is cold here!

Thumb of 2016-10-26/vic/94baa5
NATIONAL GARDENING ASSOCIATION Purslane & Portulaca ~ Garden Art
Oct 26, 2016 6:33 PM CST
Name: Arlene
Grantville, GA
Abraham Lincoln --- does anybody even remember him? In this day and age the history lessons have been so changed he might just be a very distant memory or not at all in the minds of some -- but he said one time "A house divided against itself cannot stand."

I know this is a Biblical quote, but today as in history, it applies all over the world. Our cities, our states, our country, the world . . . is anybody working together for the good of all? Politics and politicians have become a joke, and as a result we have world wide chaos. It didn't happen overnight but we are reaping the results of the seeds that have been sown. We as a people have not always made wise choices and we as a people have not taught our children to make wise choices . . . I'm talking collectively, not as individuals. So we are stuck in a chaotic world and our young people don't know which way is up, and they are choosing to ignore or too often they are choosing to join the chaos because they don't realize the end results.

Perspective is different for those of us who have lived during WWII, when we had so little yet the results were so much, and the following years of gold and richness until the golden glow began to show cracks in the 60s. We seemed to patch the cracks in the 70s but beneath them there was growing a strange bit of rebellion and by the 80s the rebellion began to spill through the cracks. We still had time in the 90s to break the rebellion that by then was seeping through even faster, but we thought we'd grow out of it and things would get back to 'normal' but for alot of people, youngsters included, 'normal' was just a word, not an action. And so now, well into a new century we are right here in a world so many of us don't recognize. And instead of listening and thinking for themselves, so many are saying 'I am right and everybody else is wrong' and that very selfish mode: I, I, Me, Me and Mine, Mine, is putting us on the fast track to nowhere. Or we are so weak minded we can't think for ourselves so we are siding with a group just to have somebody to hold on to, no matter that the group is standing on a mountain made of swirling sand.
Oct 26, 2016 9:00 PM CST
Name: Arlene
Grantville, GA
Tell us your Easter memories!!

I was thinking this morning of years ago when I sniffed that same wisteria scent. When I was little Easter meant church and a brand new dress, new shoes, new hat and new gloves. I remember just about all of them, including the new dresses, mostly all handmade by my mother. She bought the shiny black patent Mary Janes, and she bought the hat or made a fancy bow from leftover fabric from my dress. But the dress was always handmade.

The year I was in 8th grade I asked for my first straight skirt, a pencil skirt they might be called now. Mom made the straight skirt and a jacket to match and I couldn't wait to wear it for the first time to church. And so I did. After church we had lunch with my grandmother and all the aunts and uncles and cousins who lived close by. By the time lunch was over and we hid the eggs for the little cousins to find, my gorgeous straight skirt was slipping and I had to hold it up with one hand. I'd long since tossed the jacket aside.

After the last egg hunt and all the jelly beans I could eat, everybody was outside enjoying the beautiful day but I crept back inside to find both grandmothers in the kitchen cleaning the last of the lunch dishes. I went to them and asked if I could borrow a safety pin and of course they had a safety pin and so I took it to the bathroom and pinned that skirt to my underwear just knowing the elastic in it would hold the skirt up. I went back outside knowing that pin was going to keep me from grave embarrassment. Bad things happen when you have the shape of a ruler.

Croquet was next on the agenda, we always played our first croquet game of the year on the lawn on Easter Sunday. It was more for those of us cousins who were older, too old we thought for the egg hunt. I had the red ball, because it matched the skirt I was wearing and the flowers I had pinned from my jacket onto my blouse. Red roses from Mom's rose bush in the back yard. We didn't live anywhere near a florist but a rose and a pin were all I needed for a corsage, along with maybe a little asparagus fern for greens.

It was my turn and much like playing golf, I made my first swing at the croquet ball. My grandparents had a large lawn and the stakes and wires were far apart for those of us who were older. I swung with my entire body. As soon as I did, I realized the skirt was traveling downward again along with the underwear that was holding it up. I dropped the croquet hammer thing fast, grabbed the skirt and went running to the closest hiding spot, the cellar.

I thought maybe if I spent the rest of the afternoon in the cellar, the laughter that I could hear all over that mountain might fade with time. Eventually Ninna, always the one to my rescue, came to the cellar with a few more safety pins along with my jacket. She pinned my skirt to my blouse, and I finally dragged myself out of that cellar but only after my older cousins had gone home.

It was not the happiest of all my Easters, but probably my most memorable one.

I've been digging around in old pictures trying to find that red suit, but all I could find from Easter were those when I was very small. After the straight skirt fiasco, Mom made dresses with straight skirts for me. Just a few of them because I thought they were so grown up, but never a skirt all by itself. I guess if the straight skirts were attached to the tops, I could keep them on a little better. I also remember the little red elastic suspenders. Ha.
Oct 26, 2016 10:20 PM CST
Name: Arlene
Grantville, GA
Well, poetry is a lot like art. It's how it makes the reader react that's important and not everybody reacts in the same way, which is the joy of art as well.

I might paint a rose, just a plain red rose, and in that painting I'd paint a thorn poking into the petals of the rose, and from the poking thorn I might paint drops of red to look like the red petal is bleeding. Now the truth is I just did it because I'd pricked my finger on a needle or Daisy had scratched my arm and it was bleeding, so I painted my own physical reaction into the painting, so there is no underlying message, I just stuck my finger with a pin and it bled and I painted that little moment of bleeding; instead of painting myself with blood dripping, I painted the rose with blood dripping.

So when Vic looks at it she sees the bleeding rose and her understanding of it is sadness, somebody has a broken heart and the painting symbolizes maybe a romantic break up, love lost.

And maybe Larry looks at that painting and he conveys what he sees as Christ on the cross, pricked by a crown of thorns and bleeding to death, or as maybe a spiritual death.

And Lucy looks at it and immediately thinks that something has been in her rose garden and smashed her prized red rose down onto a thorn.

So that one painting had 4 different reactions, one from the artist- a bleeding finger, one from a viewer who sees love lost, one from another viewer who sees spiritual death and one from yet another viewer who sees only her rose garden's damage. Four different reactions. There is no right or wrong, everybody sees things from his/her own years of experience. When you look at something or read something, your reaction is based on what you already know.

This is true of songs, which are modified versions of poetry, too.

Thanks again for tuning into my regularly scheduled Wednesday morning educational effort. Blame it all on Cabin Fever; it stirs the teacher in me, I reckon.
Oct 27, 2016 7:58 AM CST
Name: Arlene
Grantville, GA
Little short story:

Years ago when my children were still in elementary school, must have been in spring but I can't remember. Anyway, we'd finished dinner and the children were in the den with their dad and I was cleaning the kitchen, Our house is built in such a way that the western third of it is open with an floor to ceiling laundry/furnace/waterheater room in the middle. From the kitchen I can see all through that open area. Like a great room.

Anyway, I remember the children wanted to watch a show on TV and this was allowed for an hour after dinner if their homework was done. The TV was off and I remember I was asking them if all homework was done while I was wiping the table. Vivid memories of that moment.

Our TV reception came via a line into the house and that line entered right behind the TV. The table I was cleaning is about 20 feet from it and the children were on the sofa that faced the TV so they were perpendicular to me. All within that 20' span. At that time the sofa was sectional, the children on one leg of it and Bob against the wall I was facing on the other leg of it.

He had not turned the TV on, seems like this was before the days of the remote so he would have had to get up to do so.

Suddenly I saw a ball bounce up from behind the TV, bounced to the ceiling and then to the wall above where Bob was sitting. I was so startled I couldn't move or say a word, but that ball made another bounce against the TV wall then disappeared. I glanced at the children and Ashley's hair is curly like mine but long, very long in those days and her hair was standing straight out and up all around her head. As soon as that registered in my brain, there was a huge thunderclap that jolted all of us and we all sort of melted together at the end of the sofa, Bob and I as frightened as the children. Then the stink began, like burning eggs, that's the only way I knew to describe it. There was no sign of anything, just that odor of burning eggs.

I don't remember any damage to the house but the TV was ruined and the wiring was burned to a crisp. All of it had to be replaced. There was no fire though, only that incredibly bad stink.

And that, my friends, was the first time I ever knew there was ball lightning. It's also why I very nearly crawl beneath the bed with Jazz during thunderstorms. Scary stuff, Vic. Bet it was aimed at those latches if they are metal.

I'm so glad you are safe and unharmed.
Oct 27, 2016 9:04 AM CST
Name: Arlene
Grantville, GA
One time I was on my way back to Louisville from a visit to my parents in the mountains in my hot Mustang. I was not really far from my childhood home when suddenly BAM!! and I started fishtailing all over the road. Now mountain roads are mostly carved into the mountain and on one side is the very steep drop off and on the other is the side of the mountain. There was no place for me to pull over my fishtailing car. So I stopped pretty much in the middle of the road, got out and saw the blown tire. No traffic, no way to pull over and in about 1966 there was no cell phone. I couldn't leave my car and find the nearest house because this was a couple of counties away from mine and I had no idea how far away the nearest house was, so I decided I would change that tire. If I could find the jack. And if I could find the little tire that comes with a car just in case. I only remembered it was in the trunk.

So I opened the trunk and found what I needed and started to try to take that tire off. I had to jack up the car. So I got it all positioned, still in the middle of the road and here came a pickup truck. It parked behind me and a tiny stooped old man got out of that truck. He walked over and I stood up and he looked me up and down. He wasn't any bigger than I am and I thought to my self that he seemed so old he surely couldn't help me.

"Whose child are ya, girl?" he asked. I swear never in a million years will I forget this.
I told him that I lived two counties over and that I was on my way back home in Louisville. But before I could say anything else, he said . . . "I jes' ast ya whose chile you wuz, I din't ast ya whar you's from nor whar you's goin', I jes ast ya whose chile you wuz." Knocked me right off my school teacher pedestal, he did.

Anyway, he changed my tire and I very kindly told him who my parents were and where they lived while he worked. I used short sentences and called him sir. He was real quiet, never said a word, and I thought maybe he was hard of hearing.

When he finished, I offered to pay him for the help and he looked me right in the eye and his eyes were smiling, sort of twinkling. He told me that he knew my grandfather (I'd never mentioned anybody except Mom and Dad and my grandfather had died in 1950.) Told me that he'd studied with him years ago and that they had taught together for a few years at one of the schools in my county. Told me he had watched my mother and her siblings grow up and that he remembered when I was born and how my grandfather told him that he had given me my name. Said he had moved away from my county to this one to take a job as a postmaster and had retired a few years back. Said his wife had died and his children had moved away. Said he was right proud to see me again and that I had 'growed up good' and my grandfather would be proud that I was a teacher.

I cried. I just hugged him and cried. And I haven't thought of that in many many years; I can't even remember his name now, but I remember his words. When I told my parents, they remembered him and my dad said he'd make sure to visit him when he was in that county.
Oct 27, 2016 9:23 AM CST
Name: Arlene
Grantville, GA
I close my mind to weird thoughts or dreams, unexplained experiences, and don't think of them incessantly. But I do open my mind to the infinite possibility that we really know only a sliver about the reality of life and death. One time in a moment of fun I allowed my friend to take me to a fortune teller, not one of the fakey ones but a little old woman who lived in a house that was surrounded by a mass of wildflowers. I figured it wouldn't hurt and I really wanted to talk with her about her flowers.

She did her 'reading' thing with my friend while I sat in a far corner listening and watching both of them. It was the usual, looking at her palm, doing something with cards then with incense blown across the room. All sweet and pretty words and predictions. Then it was my turn.

She looked at my palm and said nothing.
She looked at my cards and said nothing.
She did the smoke thing around my head and said nothing.

Finally she said something like this: "You can see my soul as well as I can see yours. Use your gifts wisely."

And that was it. That sort of shivered through my body, but my friend had just paid for her reading and when I started to pay for mine, the old woman would take no money, but told me to pay it forward in some way. It was a weird moment and I think it scared my friend. Didn't scare me as much as make me wonder because the other very strange thing is that if I'm not very very careful, I will dream about the death of someone -- anyone -- and the next thing I know, someone that I know and am very close to has passed away. It's happened several times and that part I don't like very much. I don't always know who, but I know it will be someone who is close to me. It happened before my dad died. I dreamed I was in my grandmother's living room and some men were carrying a casket up the steps. I didn't know who was in the casket but I knew it was going to be placed in the living room and I was clearing out a space to make room for it. Nobody would tell me who it was and it was of course closed. I only knew it would no doubt be family. Dad passed suddenly about a month later, but the living room scene was a memory of when my grandfather died in 1950, by the time Dad passed, nobody did the wake in homes anymore.

It happened this year in early spring, I dreamed of being on a bridge over a huge body of water with a lot of people, many of them people I had taught with. The bridge broke and a part of it fell away and took many of my teacher buddies with it. I woke just as I was getting ready to jump in after them, thinking I could help.

Do you remember my mentioning all the teacher deaths that have occurred this summer? There was the coach, the librarian, the English teacher, the very old science teacher, and can't remember but seems like there were others -- and just last week the husband of one of my favorite teacher friends who lives nearby. So it's weird, but I've learned to be watchful.

I don't tell those things very often, makes people look at me in a very strange way. And besides, I sure don't invite the dreams in for a visit, they just happen. It does make me think along the lines of what Lance said, there is a lot to our consciousness that we are not aware of.

It's a lot like Sunshine sensing a storm. She knows the weather is weird before I do.

So no, I can't predict the weather no do I give much thought to those who do predict the future. It is what it is and I mostly just keep it all to myself. But I do believe there is more to living than we understand right now. We get a glimpse occasionally but then it fades from our minds.

You know my head is filled with a lot of useless knowledge, cobwebs of the mind. It makes me a very good storyteller, though. Smiling
Oct 27, 2016 10:57 AM CST
Name: Vicki
North Carolina
I've never much liked the idea of controlling nature, but then I love wildflowers, so there's that. I do like setting boundaries, but sometimes when I see something I can't identify growing in the middle of my prized peonies, I'll let it grow, watch for it to bloom and then decide if I want to keep it or not. Knowing full well that it was brought there by the birds, most likely. Like rules, boundaries were sometimes meant to be broken.

On the other hand, I also love weeds, know the medicinal value of so many 'weeds' that I can't bring myself to destroy all the chickweed that grows in my yard. Same with plantain, same with heal-all, same with mint when it goes nutzy crazy. Same with monarda which is in the mint family too. I mostly keep these things in clumps, but even so, to others they are weeds and aren't worth anything.

But then I don't take meds either, if I know for sure I have a dried leaf of something that will make me feel better. Meds came from plants in the first place, and would still come from them if some brilliant scientist had not conned us into thinking chemicals would be better. Brilliant in that he could see $$$ rolling in.

Sorry. Soap boxes get old, but then I don't climb on mine very often.

I plant by the light of the moon too. Heh!!
I guess it takes all kinds.
NATIONAL GARDENING ASSOCIATION Purslane & Portulaca ~ Garden Art
Oct 27, 2016 11:18 AM CST
Name: Vicki
North Carolina
An example, people scream and yell that poke is toxic and fatal. Well, it is at some point. If you are going to eat poke as a vegetable, then it has to be done with very early young leaves and they must be cooked and rinsed then cooked in new water again a couple of times. Same thing with man made chemicals. If you take more tylenol or aspirin or anything else than is recommended, you'll be sick or dead.

Digitalis comes from foxglove. I'd much rather the experts extract it than to even think of extracting it itself.

Aspirin, salacin is where aspirin originated, comes from the bark of the willow, I think. But if we take it directly from the bark without knowing how to deal with it expertly, it can also be toxic to certain extents. So they copied the chemistry of salacin and beat it down so that now we have aspirin in the form that doesn't immediately kill us. My point is we don't know what our ancestors knew about preparing things, so we can't just go out and eat weeds or nibble bark like a wild animal. Before we can live off the land, we have to know how.

We lost two generations of common knowledge about plants, edible and medicinal, in our quest for the *greater* knowledge of man. And what has that gained us? We are now eating who knows what that we purchased from who knows where and it contains things we know nothing about. And paying dearly for it.

We believe everything in every ad we see and hear on commercials and we eat or drink or consume it right into our bodies. Without question. We lost our quest for knowledge and we are paying dearly. Organic or inorganic and how can we be sure?

I'd rather eat weeds from my own back yard.

Pure water comes from that spring at the top of a mountain that has remained untainted for thousands of years. It contains minerals that our bodies need. It's been depleted of necessary minerals. Yet we go out and buy water in plastic bottles. That bought water contains nothing, though it might quench our thirst. But what about all the packaging? What about the plastic bottles that the water is contained in? I think it was Lance that mentioned plastics and foods and absorptions thereof.

Ugh. It must be a soapbox day.
Just be careful no matter what you are eating or drinking.

I'll hush now
NATIONAL GARDENING ASSOCIATION Purslane & Portulaca ~ Garden Art
Oct 27, 2016 11:22 AM CST
Name: Vicki
North Carolina
I've never seen a purple cow
I never hope to see one
But I can tell you anyhow
I'd rather see than be one.
NATIONAL GARDENING ASSOCIATION Purslane & Portulaca ~ Garden Art
Oct 27, 2016 11:30 AM CST
Name: Vicki
North Carolina


















I have a brand new beautiful keyboard. Amazing. I also have a most incredible son, he ordered it yesterday at about 10:30 a.m. and it was here before 10 this morning.
NATIONAL GARDENING ASSOCIATION Purslane & Portulaca ~ Garden Art
[Last edited Oct 27, 2016 11:32 AM CST]
Quote | Post #1221765 (12)
Oct 27, 2016 11:52 AM CST
Name: Vicki
North Carolina
Well, Charlie, Kentucky is Kentucky and it's just as bad on the west side as it is on the east end even with 400 miles between the two. But of course, it's just as good too.

The stereotype doesn't mean much of anything, and lots of people play along with it just to get misguided attention. There's good and bad in all of us, it seems, no matter where we live. Disregard for nature and for natural resources drive me craziest though. Seems like it runs rampant more here in the western end of the state than across on the other side.

You are right in one regard, there's not one exotic thing about Kentucky.
I do get a kick out of all the stereotypes though.

There was a man here in western Kentucky who died not very long ago. Actually he was a friend of mine if one could call a good debater a friend. We debated a lot. Anyway, he was what I would call an entrepreneur, without reservations. He lived along a busy highway that saw a lot of tourist traffic leading to one of the lakes. One year he started a rumor that he'd seen a snake as big as a telephone pole and it had a yellow head and yellow stripes, he said he was going to catch it because he knew it lurked around on his farm. So on one very busy tourist-y weekend there were signs along the highway leading to his house:

See the Snake: Big as a telephone pole: $1.00.

People started stopping, pulling up in his driveway, lots of traffic, lots of people. He had one of his children sitting in the shade of a big oak collecting $1.00 from everyone who walked past on the way out behind the barn to see the snake, or to try to prove he was lying. Another child sold cans of soft drinks that were iced down in a tub for $1.00. Behind the barn he had dug a deep 3 or 4 foot pit, had lined it with rocks and made a shelf like structure in the bottom. If you looked into the darkened pit, you could see bits of yellow and a slightly pointed end which could resemble the head of a snake, all tucked nicely slightly beneath the rocky shelf. It was a pretty big and deep pit, but glimpses of yellow could be seen. The man made about $500 that weekend, then he told anybody who inquired that the snake had escaped, but he was determined to find it again.

This went on until early fall and he kept finding then losing the huge snake, and by then he'd made well over $2000+. The news was in all the papers and even on the radio when they interviewed him. But in fall he told that the snake got away again but he had hopes of catching it once more in the spring.

I happened to have one of his children in class that fall and learned his trick: he'd painted an old football yellow and tucked it beneath the rocks with just one end sticking out. The other yellow was just more paint splashed on the rocks beneath. The pit was darkened anyway. I never got to see the snake, though not for lack of trying. Every time I asked him about it, he always said it had slithered away and he was afraid to turn me loose on his farm to try to find it because the snake was so much bigger than I was.

So the question is, who was the smarter? The man who gained thousands of dollars and got lots of publicity, or those people who each paid a dollar trying to prove he was wrong.

Ahhhhhhhhhhh Kentuckians.
NATIONAL GARDENING ASSOCIATION Purslane & Portulaca ~ Garden Art
Oct 27, 2016 11:59 AM CST
Name: Vicki
North Carolina
I don't really remember being read to, but I must have been because when I was 4 and was bedridden with polio, I read everything my grandmother brought to me. Look, Life, Grit everything that had words was fair game. And then my grandmother got into the attic and brought out some very old books that were small and very thick. They must have been her own books or some she had for her children. One of them was 'The Little Colonel', which was also a movie with Shirley Temple. Eventually I had children's books, starting with bedtime fairy tales, but after discovering the little colonel books, I rapidly moved on to others. The fairy tale books had pictures and I was interested in them, but books without pictures were good as well.

Anyway, I don't really remember learning to read, but my grandmother must have taught me during the polio time. All I remember of that time was having stacks of books and magazines on my bed. There was a window beside the head of my bed and I remember having Ninna open the curtains even before the sun came up so I could see to read. I traveled to many places from my bed during that time. By the time I started school I think I had graduated to my dad's Louis L'Amour books. Ha! I traveled along with him, too. Not exactly the stuff of children's books, but all that was available in the mountains at that time. It sure was a rude awakening when I went to school and had to read the Alice and Jerry first readers. I kept wanting to add more words to every page. "Run Alice run." "See Jack jump." Duh. I remember getting into trouble for defacing school property during that first school year. On the page that said 'See Jack jump' I continued the sentence in pencil to say, 'See Jack jump over the candlestick. He jumped so high he touched the sky.' I erased till there was a hole in the page.
NATIONAL GARDENING ASSOCIATION Purslane & Portulaca ~ Garden Art
Oct 27, 2016 12:04 PM CST
Name: Vicki
North Carolina
We do have huge imaginations as the result of having to entertain ourselves during those pre TV years. I must have invented 50 ways to jump rope and maybe just as many ways to play marbles or jacks in winter and with a few card games thrown in for really bad weather.

And I painted with paint made from berries and boiled leaves, with feathers for brushes and I wrote stories with happy endings and characters named Boggard and Corkus and Penelope Jane. And I climbed to the top of many trees that became Noah's ark and I was the dove that was searching for land. And I was the bride in many weddings wearing my grandmother's priceless crochet tablecloth that covered me from head to to with a crown of sweet clover around my head. Naked as a jaybird beneath.

We are all products of our past no matter when our past took place.
Don'tcha just love it?
NATIONAL GARDENING ASSOCIATION Purslane & Portulaca ~ Garden Art
Oct 27, 2016 12:32 PM CST
Name: Vicki
North Carolina
I would love to be so much taller. You don't know how many times I get shoved aside and stepped on, literally. And elbows. They mostly hit me in the shoulders.

Sometimes I need football gear just to get through a crowd without bruises.

And another problem: Crawl spaces. I don't have a basement, just a crawl space and the opening is not very big. Once under the house there's enough room for me to sit up so I really don't have a problem going under there. But I swear, every time he thought there might be a leak, my husband would send me to crawl under the house to check, because I was the only one who could easily get through that crawl space. And even now, guess who still is the only one who can get through it. Someday somebody is going to wake up and realize I'm gone and they'll find me somewhere under the house. Believe me, I'm very familiar with all the nooks and crannies and pipes and spiders that lurk down there.

And up a tree. 'You need to climb the maple, the cat's stuck at the top.'

'The cat can get himself unstuck. You go climb the tree.'

'The branches aren't strong enough, or are too thick, or too something, but you'll fit right through them.'

Oh yeah, I just love being the peanut.
Oh but!!! I got through the Eye of the Needle in Mammoth Cave, and was the only one who got to see the other side. Yeah!! Well, there was my daughter who was 6 at the time.
NATIONAL GARDENING ASSOCIATION Purslane & Portulaca ~ Garden Art
Oct 27, 2016 12:48 PM CST
Name: Vicki
North Carolina
Truth is, I'd much rather be surrounded by real books than computers, except when I need to chat with y'all.
NATIONAL GARDENING ASSOCIATION Purslane & Portulaca ~ Garden Art
Oct 27, 2016 12:57 PM CST
Name: Vicki
North Carolina
My daughter woke me: 'Mom, there's a strange Lexus SUV in our driveway. It's blocking my car'.

'It's Sam's SUV', I said.

'Then where's Sam?' said daughter.

'Somewhere around here,' said I.

So I drag myself out of bed and in my long nightgown that is virtually topless from the shoulders up I go outside to see who's visiting my driveway, no coffee yet. The wind hit first and then the cool air, but I walked barefoot and gown clad down to the mysterious silver SUV, walked all around it then still barefoot walked through dew laden grass from one side of the front to the other, toes shivering, but checking each end of my house. Where is Sam?

"Mom, you can't walk around the yard in your nightgown!"

"Watch me."

"Mom, the neighbors!!"

You'll notice I don't talk much in early mornings, nor do I really care what neighbors think. Except Sam.

Sam is my neighbor and best friend here and lives diagonally across the street from my back yard. She is my gardening buddy and my 'let's go exploring' partner and also my problem solving friend. Recently she has been sick and it worried me that her car suddenly appeared in my driveway. Where was Sam?

Still in my long almost topless gown that was by this time soaked to the knees in dew and shivering in the chilly morning air I walked all around my house looking for Sam. She was nowhere. Back to the front I went, freezing now, and suddenly realized that my normally quiet little street was looking much like a full frenzied freeway. Amid the honks and the waves it occurred to me that they weren't the least bit interested in my soaking nearly topless gown, but that something was blocking one of the surrounding streets, which could also account for why Sam's car was in my driveway. My gown was getting heavy soaked as it was in dew.

My ears opened then and I could hear the roar of work trucks and the rat a tat tat of something digging into asphalt. Freezing and shivering I walked back inside and finally saw the trucks that were parked and rumbling in front of Sam's house; men busily digging a hole in the middle of her street. By now the gown was dragging. About the same time my phone rang.

"I had to borrow your driveway," said Sam. "Now I'm going back to bed."

Mystery solved, breathing normally again, I jumped into a hot shower and the wet gown went into the washer. My daughter maneuvered around the silver Lexus and went on her merry way.

Now I wonder sometimes why I can't have a quiet morning like normal people when I can just take a nice hot cup of coffee and sit on my deck and enjoy the quiet songs of birds. Why is it that I usually am running around barefoot in all kinds of weather draped in whatever I happened to sleep in, solving mysteries? I swear it happens all the time.

Time to put the gown and the towels that were with it in the dryer.
I might take a little nap now, solving mysteries makes me tired.

Y'all have a real good day.
NATIONAL GARDENING ASSOCIATION Purslane & Portulaca ~ Garden Art
Oct 27, 2016 2:05 PM CST
Name: Vicki
North Carolina
My maiden name is Webb, but not really. Here's the story.

There was a man who was a high ranking soldier in William the Conqueror's military force, think 1066. Because of his valuable contributions to William's victories, the man was awarded a great deal of wealth, land, money, jewels, etc. He had a wife and a daughter, but I don't know of any other children. The man's name was James Webb. His precious daughter was named Mary. Mary Webb.

Mary fell in love with a handsome young man from Wales who spoke only in Gaelic and Mary knew only the King's English, but they were so in love they taught each other their words and had no trouble communicating. The day came when the young man from Wales went to Mary's father, Mr. Webb, and asked for his daughter's hand in marriage.

"But what is your name, young man?" asked the wealthy and highly superior Mr. Webb.

"My name is Raouldus fLaithbheartaigh, Sir," said the young man in halting English.

"What! No daughter of mine will take a name like that. No! You cannot marry my daughter."

Now Mary, being a very strong young woman, as all Webb women are, took matters into her own hands (as most all Webb women do) and had a talk with her beloved. And more talks. And more. Time passed and she continued to talk with her beloved.

One day she went boldly into her Father's quarters to talk privately with her Father.

"Father, dear Father," she said in her most daughterly fashion. "My beloved is handsome, he's strong, he will work hard to support me, he will give you many strong grandsons, and he will take good care of me. Please give us your approval."

"NO, absolutely NO, no daughter of mine will marry a man by the name of Raould fLaithbheartaigh. Never!" said the stately Mr. Webb.

"Father, dear Father," said dear Mary, "my beloved has agreed to take the name of Richard, in honor of your brother, when we marry. Will you now approve?"

"NO, absolutely NO, no daughter of mine will marry a man by the name of Richard fLaithbheartaigh. Never!" said Mr. Webb.

"Well then, dearest, dearest Father, my beloved has agreed to take the name of Webb when we marry. He will become Richard Webb. Will you now approve?" said dear and quite brilliant Mary.

"Welcome to the family, Richard Webb," said the smiling and very wealthy Mr. Webb.

And that my friends is how - all these years later - I became Sharon Webb and not something as undignified as Sharon fLaithbheartaigh.

(P.S. The story is legendarily true, but the Gaelic name is incorrect. It's something similar, but much longer, and I'm too tired to dig into my records tonight to get the correct spelling, so forgive that one little writer's privilege I sneaked in. My grandfather was an attorney and had access even years ago to many many records and lots of people and places. His father was also the postmaster, which opened other doors for him. The results are quite remarkable, and though there are some blanks in the very early years, closer accuracy begins in England sometime around the mid 1300s and I can pretty well count on the accuracy of the rest of it. I love interesting stories.

G'nite, y'all.
NATIONAL GARDENING ASSOCIATION Purslane & Portulaca ~ Garden Art
Oct 27, 2016 2:07 PM CST
Name: Vicki
North Carolina
Webbs weave tangled webs on the website.

Once upon a time in the tangled web of the darkest forest, there lived the crisp and spicy demigod named Rettig. He built his throne by weaving a web of wisteria vines, and there he sat through the darkness of the blackest nights and through the shadowed web of his grayest days on his woven webbed throne of wisteria.

At his feet and on their bellies, the worms wriggled and wove themselves into fleshy mats, keeping his feet dry and crispy from their warmth. And occasionally hungry leeches crawled from the swampy pits that surrounded him, and crept up his scratched and thorn-blooded legs to feast from the spice that dribbled and dripped down from them.

His long dark days and nights were puzzling to him, he who dreamed of having all creatures and beings who lived in the webbed forest bowed down at his crispy spicy feet. But they never appeared, preferring instead to live in the unwebbed sunlight and dance in the unwebbed light of the moon.

So the spicy and crisp demigod named Rettig waited, and watched the tangled web of worms as they continued to weave their bodies into a mat that began to creep upward and over his cold but crisp and spicy feet, providing a living ladder for the leeches to climb ever upward.

And so he sat alone, day after day and night after night . . . alone . . . in the woven webbed world of his own making.

NATIONAL GARDENING ASSOCIATION Purslane & Portulaca ~ Garden Art

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