Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Flying into the sun

Woohoo--last night I bought (relatively cheap) airfare to Florida so I can be with A on her birthday! You don't know how excited this makes me. Yes, we'll be there just the week before her birthday, since we're going to spend part of my winter break in Florida visiting our daughters. But I haven't been with A on her birthday for several years, and she's always asking if I can come for her special day.

But then, every day is special when A is there!

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Poor choices

One of my high school's former football players yesterday shot and killed a man. This kid (now almost 20) was just plain dumb. He was in SpEd, so that's how I knew him. Not a mean bone in his body, but if provoked he would fight.

This is a kid who was almost never in class. He was one of the elite, a football player, an athlete, so he could pretty much write his own ticket in school. He roamed the halls and dropped in here and there to talk to people. He was pretty much untouchable. Agreeable for the most part, always smiling, but dumb as dirt, did very little work, but was scooted along and tolerated in class because he was a football player.

He lives in the worst possible part of town on a street that no one in their right mind would walk down after dark. Crowds of angry young men (why are they always angry? Upset about not having the advantages of other people? Then for God's sake, quit whining about it and do something about it--WORK!!!) congregate on the corners all night long. The police department is making an effort to let their presence be known there during the night, parking at one end and slowly making their way to the other. People will come outside--at 3 a.m.--to thank them for being there. But the angry young men will either bolt, confront them ("I didn't do nuthin" without being accused of anything), or just stand and watch.

This kid was given every possible chance by the school's principal (a lady who cares about these troubled kids as if they were her own); his SpEd teacher took him to the doctor (and paid the bill) when he was sick, fed him, took him to football practice, things which his crack-ho of a mother (okay, she was on crack, I'm not sure about the ho part) couldn't be bothered to do. His father is in prison and has been most of the kid's life. He had at least two prior felonies (relatively minor assault and battery--at least, minor when compared to cold-blooded murder) and the teacher's husband, a criminal defense attorney, had defended him (taking payments because the family couldn't pay it all at once). He is livid; he's worked with this kid for years, seeing another side of him (the big, dumb, lazy, easy-going athlete), but the man who was killed was the attorney's friend. This man heard the fight building steam, at 1 a.m. (and it's freezing here at night, literally, so what are these dumb asses doing outside at that hour anyway???), and ran outside to break it up. The newpaper says that several 911 calls were made about the fight, but by the time the first police arrived, shots had already been fired.

You've heard, "I've got your back, man"? Well, yesterday I found out what that means. It means that if you're dissed, your "man" will fight for you. The kid who was dissed is a total waste of carbon and oxygen, a lazy, whiny bastard (he wasn't in SpEd, but I worked with him in a class three years ago), was afraid that he was going to get hurt, so he ran and got this kid, who had his back. And who will now spend the rest of his life in prison, because he was stupid enough to have a gun and bring it outside with him, so he could have that bastard's back.

My God.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Hitting the big time

I have arrived.

Spam was left on my blog.

Sweet Disgusting.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Found: One Grawnpah

My youngest grandson, B2, not quite 3, has been speaking in full sentences (paragraphs, even) for over a year. Problem is, most of the words are in his own language and we haven't been able to tell just what it is that he's saying. Now most of his words are understandable, and we've had fun (and some of those Huh? moments) deciphering his speech.

While I was visiting in August, we went to Walt Disney World a few times. My daughter, J, works there (if I told you what she does I'd have to kill you) so we get in free on visitors' passes. B2 gets in free anyway, at least until he's 3. On the way home one night, J said that B2 has been asking where "Grawnpah" is. (It's said as if it's a French word, and he has the accent and speech pattern down perfect.) J has told him that he doesn't have a Grawnpah; M's dad is dead, and J's is dead as far as she's concerned. (She didn't tell that to B2; it's just an explanation for those not in the know.)

(These photos were taken that weekend at Disney-MGM Studios while B2, veteran that he is, was waiting for MuppetVision 3D to start. He went straight in, picked up his 3D glasses, and put them on--upside down. Mr. Cool.)

That night, on the way home, B2 was tired and crabby, so J tried to distract him. Unfortunately, it backfired. She asked him where Grawnpah was, and he, in a very casual way, said "In the front." She asked him in the front of what? "In the front." That went on for a while, with B2 getting more and more irate at not being understood. He was finally yelling "IN. THE. FRONNNNNTTTTTT."

We left it alone until we got home, when B2 stalked into the living room, found a DVD, stabbed his finger onto the logo of Cinderella's Castle, and again insisted, "Grawnpah. In the front." Then he tossed the DVD cover onto the floor, sat in his little recliner in front of the tv, and asked his mommy to turn on the DVD.

It was a WDW video, showing the different parks. B2 watches this thing over and over. Suddenly he triumphantly yelled, "THERE's Grawnpah!"

We came running into the room, and this is what we saw:

Walt Disney is B2's Grawnpah. We should all be so lucky.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

My grandson, the racer

My oldest grandson, B, has a race car that he actually drives in actual races. Scares me to death! Like his daddy, my son, it's in his blood and it's what he likes to do.

This photo is one that I think is just darling. He'd stopped driving (at 30+ mph!!!) around the school's track and of course I aimed my camera at him. Look at that salute. Isn't that precious? And so grown up?

He's only 6 and a half! He's been driving tractors and lawn tractors for years, just like his daddy did. He drives better than I do.

Watch out, NASCAR!

Paris Street Market and bakery, morning of July 15, which was my birthday. In Paris. Have I beaten that to death yet?

I don't think so.

This is my second attempt to show you the amazing street market. You know you want to see it. I know I want you to see it. Blogger disagrees. Let's see if I can get through this one without resorting to using htm. I know just enough about that to screw up anything I touch. (Thank you, ebay.)

*deep breath*


So we got up fairly early on my birthday (told you). At least, it was early for me when I'm not working. During the school year I have to be dragged out of bed kicking and screaming at 5:40 a. stinkin' m. Actually, Tom wakes me very gently and quietly, usually calling me sweetheart and saying it's time to get up. He doesn't even attempt to wake me until he's showered and dressed, and while I'm stumbling into the clothes I laid out the night before and brushing my teeth, he's taking Zippy outside. Zippy's the dog. Chester is his best friend. Could I have ever found a better man? No way.

Anyway, that morning we were headed to the bakery a couple of streets over for breakfast when we saw a street market in the median strip of a side street.

This was an incredible market.

There were shoes, purses (Gucci, anyone?) (Yeah, right.), scarves, tablecloths, all kinds of veggies, fruits, breads, meats, cheeses, fresh eggs, thong panties, anything one could think of (and you know who you are). I'm not adding these photos in any particular order, since the last time I tried that I lost that stupid html tag somewhere.

Everything was displayed in such creative ways, not veggies piled on tables like at a produce stand here in the States.

There were cooked foods available. Some stalls only had olives--but about 50 kinds of olives. Some had fresh eggs and fresh butter. I was practically drooling by the time we left.

There were stalls devoted to gorgeous cut flowers, potted plants and herbs, fresh veggies, and just about every kind of cheese available.

The placement of these photos offends my sense of symmetry, but I can't figure out how to arrange them. I took hundreds of photos, but I've selected the best to share. Such as this one of a dog at the market.

Then we went back to "our" bakery and had breakfast. Their croissants with fresh butter, the pain au chocolat, and hot chocolate were all just incredibly tasty.

The hot chocolate was just that--cocoa and hot milk, with sugar cubes on the side. Oh my gosh, it was so good!!!

That morning was cool (70s), but even when it was in the 90s the following week, that was some kind of good and I had to have it for breakfast. The tiny bakery was air conditioned, so that helped.

We frequently went back to the bakery for snacks. I wish we could have brought it home with us!

Did I mention that it was my birthday?

I am not happy.

And I am pissed off at Blogger. I spent quite a bit of time writing about stuff and uploading photos (when Blogger would let me upload them, which was rarely) and it kept telling me that I had an html error, but it didn't show WHERE it was. I kept changing things, it kept previewing just fine, but it would not let me save it or publish it.

So now I have to start over. I'm sure that you're waiting on pins and needles for me to get this going.

Why are you on pins and needles, anyway?

Monday, October 16, 2006

Evening in Paris, July 14

Well, we did get to bed after midnight, but I'm betting that it was much later than that. It didn't get dark until 10:30 or so, so we could sightsee much later than while we were in Rome. It was even better in London! I could easily get used to having the sun set at nearly midnight and be up before 5, if I didn't have to work. And if I didn't have to experience the much, much shorter days during the winter.

These are some random photos I took that night. This one is an apartment building on a side street. I was impressed that many buildings had flower boxes and trees on their tiny balconies.

This is a view of streets near our hotel. The tall weird building is the Tour Montparnasse. I don't know anything about it except that it's big and evidentally not considered to be attractive by some people. We liked it because, as long as we could see it, we knew that we could fairly easily find our way home, even at night. There's an observation deck on top, but we never went to check it out. I wish I had, as it would have given us a really good view of the surrounding area.

In the next one, you can see that motorcycles can be parked just about anywhere! The street is on the other side of the motorcycles. Note to Betty: I think that the greenish-blue object in the lower right corner is a public toilet. They're a lot bigger than they look.

And here is our first view of the Eiffel Tower. Pretty exciting. I didn't realize just how close we were to it. We used the Metro to get there, but walked all around our district. You can see it if you squint your eyes and look down the avenue of trees.

This intersection is about a block from our hotel. You can barely see the Galleries Lafayette sign; it's supposed to be this grand shopping mall, but I wasn't impressed. Maybe I only found one small wing of it. I did manage to buy a pair of cropped pants and t-shirt there.

You know how it is. What's the use of going to PARIS and not buying any clothes???

It's like going to Rome and not seeing the Sistine Chapel.

Another random street. Just about all the restaurants, bars, and cafes had outside seating that took up most of the sidewalk.

This place (to the right) is called Le Nemrod. That's why I took a picture of it.

"Au Chien Qui Fume"--"At the Dog Who Smokes"? I should check some website to see what "au" means. It's only been 35 years since I took a French class; I should remember something that simple. I wish that photo was better. Usually I check them to make sure they're okay right after I take them, but we had the light and were crossing the road, so I had to move on.

And here's the obligatory shot of a Paris shoe store window. I'm sure there were some non-Birkenstock shoes in the shops.

I take pictures of dogs and shoes, Tom likes pictures of cars. Here are two leetle teensy cars (the first of many, as with the dogs and shoes).

I really like this picture. I was taking a photo of of a pretty building with nice ironwork and plants, and a man with a little girl in his arms was looking out and waved. That just made my night. He saw a tourist taking a photo of his window and he didn't shoot me. He waved.

It was wayyy past our dinner time, so we checked out the restaurants as we walked. We finally found one that looked to be reasonable, and sat down at a table right next to the curb. It seemed to be some kind of chain restaurant as we saw others on our travels, but it had good food. Or, at least, decent food.

I was amused that the restaurants with air conditioning made a big deal out of it, with hand-lettered signs in the windows. A/c? Doesn't every restaurant have it? We'd find out in a couple of days that, although a/c wasn't necessary that night, it would be a couple of days later, and the places that had it were the places to be.

Just a couple of doors down the street from the restaurant was this produce stand. They were everywhere. And the produce looked good.

These photos were taken after 10 p.m.! Look at all the light still in the sky.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Just passing time

while working this morning. Don't ask what I'm doing. I'm supposed to be paying attention to a class of 24 scholars.

Part of my "paying attention" time is being used to select and save the photos that I want to post eventually. I'm all the way to the morning of July 15 (my birthday) (in Paris) and the street market.

Did I mention that it was my birthday, and that I was in Paris with Tom? Does it get any better than that?

Friday, October 13, 2006

One less candle in the world

This refers to the shootings on the Florida Turnpike during the night (2 adults and 2 children were shot multiple times each), but it also refers to the death of a gentle, sweet man.

My great-uncle Wellford died on Wednesday. He would have been 93 next week. He was active in his church, travelling overseas many times with mission groups. He was one of those men whose pants got bigger as he got smaller, till the waistband reached almost to his armpits, which just made him more appealing.

He was dedicated to his church, singing in the choir earlier, but in later years just attending the practices and not singing as his voice became less than melodic. He taught Sunday School for many, many years.

His wife was my Nana's oldest sister. She died a number of years ago. They had two children, the youngest of whom died in her thirties of leukemia (in only 6 weeks after the diagnosis). The older sister is a sweet, gentle woman who married a pastor. Wellford often travelled overseas with her husband.

Wellford lived alone after his wife died but continued to stay in close touch with her remaining family. They often ate out together once a week, they went to church together, they visited frequently. A couple of months ago he went to live with his daughter and her family until he moved into a nursing home.

Wellford was well-known for his love of travel, photography, and rock collecting. He enjoyed sharing his photos and collections with family and friends.

From his obituary:

Luther Wellford Swift, age 92, of Hopewell, Va., moved to his mansion in heaven on Tuesday, October 10, 2006 from Manor Care Nursing Center, Wilmington, Del. He was graduated from Hopewell High School in the Class of 1931, along with his brother, Robert. He enjoyed reunions with his classmates, even writing and reciting a poem about their school years together. He also received a broad education from his lifelong love of reading. Mr. Swift served in the postal service in the U.S. Navy during WWII. He was a money order clerk and eventually postmaster of the Hopewell Post Office, retiring in 1976. His life was busy with church involvement, serving at various times as treasurer, adult Sunday School teacher, missions committee chairman, Singing Saints choir member and trustee of First Baptist Church, Hopewell. He participated on mission teams for many years, starting with church construction in Endicott, N.Y. and in several European, South and Central American countries and in later years with evangelism teams, notably eight trips to Brazil and three to Moldova in Eastern Europe - 27 trips in all, the last one to the Bahamas in the summer of 2005. Mr. Swift was predeceased by his wife of 54 years, Beulah Alma ONeill; a daughter, Judy Anne Sawyer and his brothers, Robert N. and Frank T. and their wives. Among the survivors are a daughter and her husband; a sister-in-law; six grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren.

Your family will miss you, Wellford.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006


*sigh* We're supposed to have freezing weather tonight, tomorrow night, and Friday night.

Who turned off the heat???

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

My week

This has been me lately.

Do not mess with me.

Friday, October 06, 2006

More gratuitous dog photos

I apologize if you don't like dogs. I love them and have to take photos of them. It's in my contract.

Check back later for lots and lots of cute dogs, including mine.

In fact, I don't apologize. I like dogs, and this is my blog.

This next one is what I'd hoped to do for my wedding, but we ended up getting married on a cold, damp day and couldn't have the dogs with us. This dog belonged to a friend of mine, and he was her escort in her wedding. She even held him during her vows.

This dog was visiting the lighthouse at Cape Florida, Miami. He had some people with him.

This one is Mia, my daughter's Yorkie. She later became mine and died of cancer last year at the age of 12.

Typical Key West dog

Another Key West dog

Ha! Wanted to see if you were still awake.