Friday, April 24, 2015


...and the First Prize is awarded for The Best Use of a Tree
Trees Need Not Walk the Earth
                                                                    David Rosenthal
Trees need not walk the earth  
For beauty or for bread; 
Beauty will come to them 
Where they stand. 
Here among the children of the sap
Is no pride of ancestry: 
A birch may wear no less the morning 
Than an oak. 
Here are no heirlooms 
Save those of loveliness,
In which each tree 
Is kingly in its heritage of grace. 
Here is but beauty’s wisdom 
In which all trees are wise. 
Trees need not walk the earth
For beauty or for bread; 
Beauty will come to them 
In the rainbow— 
The sunlight— 
And the lilac-haunted rain;
And bread will come to them 
As beauty came: 
In the rainbow— 
In the sunlight— 
In the rain.

This is the fourth Friday of April – Arbor Day. I found this poem when I went looking for something a little less used than Joyce Kilmer’s Trees.  Trees are magnificent things. Aren’t they?  I’m not what you’d call a regular tree hugger, but I have hugged a tree or two in my time, just out of exuberance and a desire to know what it was like to hug a tree.

A trek through the woods in 1992

I remember my oldest granddaughter, Katie, when she was about three years old, staring up at the trees as we walked the trails in our woods. It was a bright, cold day after a snow fall, and the woods were relatively naked.  As she stood and stared up a tree, her grandfather asked her what she was looking at. She replied with a question something like “how come the trees don’t fall over like pencils?”  She didn’t know about roots. That child had, still does have, an inquiring mind.

Inquiring minds want to know.

I really like the trees where we live now. This part of the Carolinas is a transition area, a zone where trees and plants from both northern and southern climates can mix together – everything from maples, oaks, and poplar to pines, pecans, and palmettos.  I recognize old friends, and get to learn more about the trees new to me. 

Not to mention cypress trees and knees


I read this morning that this is the 200th birthday of the Victorian novelist Anthony Trollope. We readers should really celebrate this because

     He said: “The habit of reading is the only one I know in which there is no alloy. It lasts when all other pleasures fade. It will be there to support you when all other resources are gone. It will be present to you when the energies of your body have fallen away from you. It will make your hours pleasant to you as long as you live.”

For a reader, truer words were never spoken.
              - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

It is also the 73rd birthday of Barbra Streisand. How do I know this? First of all because I know that she was born the same year I was. And because I know the lyrics to her version of I’m Five.  “…I’m five – on April 24th."
So, nu?

It’s also the birthday of Sue Grafton and Robert Penn Warren. Great day for birthdays of all kinds.  And a very merry unbirthday to you.

This was just an impromptu post - Today is also Arbor day, and I've a nice post to post about trees. See you later! 

Monday, April 20, 2015


The mailbox on Floreana
 My favorite cousin and his wife just returned from a trip to Peru and the Galapagos Islands, so this BBC Travel article on The World’s Most Charming Mailbox attracted my attention. It’s a wonderful story – be sure to read it.

At the end of the piece, the BBC asked readers to take part in an on-line poll about travel. The first Question was this:
How often do you travel internationally?
Select only one
1 to 3 trips/year - The destination matters more than the journey
4 to 6 trips per/year - Home is important, but travel is better!
7 to 10 trips/year - I am on the road more often than not
I'm nomadic. I don't even have a home address!
Votes 8,506

Wow! I would have loved to click on that last option. I can’t even click on the first one. Perhaps if they’d included the option of 4 to 6 trips in your lifetime, I could have gone with that one.  With 8,506 votes at that time, it seems like there are plenty of people who could select one of the options. Lucky ducks.

Friday, April 17, 2015


Dragons are immortal - didn't you know that? I say that if you have to
pick a picture of a dragon to illustrate your blog, you should pick a good one.
 This is a good one.

A few weeks ago, one of the daily freebie Kindle books was 1000 Awesome Writing Prompts by Ryan Andrew Kinder. I’ve written about prompt #2, and prompt #7 in last week’s blog. The next one to interest me was prompt #10: “You are given an opportunity for immortality. Do you take it or decline?”  Oooh – I’d take it. I do know that my immortal life could end ‘not with a bang but a whimper’ – a whimper of boredom when everyone else has gone – or in a fiery inferno as our sun dies. But we’re merely speculating here, so the end really doesn’t signify.

I’ve written before how When I Get to Heaven, God is going to have pictures for me to see some of the events I’d like to have seen from the past. Well, living forever, I can look ahead to things I might see in the future. Cars that run on water? Widespread and inexpensive use of solar and wind power? More and more features built into our personal electronic devices? Cures for everything from the common cold to the worst cancers. There has been so much change in the last century that it is a given that there will be more amazing things to come.

I know that unless the extraterrestrials come soon enough and we all band together – the eternal ‘them’ against ‘us’ – this world is going to see a lot more strife. Whereas in not all but much of our previous history, war has been caused by greed and expansionism, most the newer conflicts now seem to be caused by intolerance. Where will it end? When will it end? I’d like to be around to know that.

I’ve read enough fiction about those, like vampires, who’ve lived for hundreds of years, and those like the immortals who’ve been around since it all started. One of my persistent questions, one rarely answered, is how do you keep the mortals from guessing why you’re around so long - just keep changing your address, of course – and how do you hold on to your funds? I suppose you would leave it to yourself under a new name at that new address. I think that, given the proper circumstances, I’d happily deal with these problems. Birth certificates, Social Security numbers, bank accounts? I’d be immortal, I could figure it out.

I do hope that if I do become immortal I will also become a few decades younger. If I stayed at my current age of 72, I’d have to move quite often because folks would become wary of an already-old lady who is about to outlive the neighbors. And I’d want to be in the shape I was in when I was 52, maybe even 42. Yes, as long as I’m writing this piece of speculative fiction, I might as well choose 42. I weigh now what I weighed then, but it has all sagged a bit a lot. Hey, as long as I’m speculating, why not lose even more pounds and be immortal at my ideal weight? I can dream, can’t I? The possibilities, fictionally speaking, are endless. The possibilities are immortal.

Dragons live more than a thousand years - I'd love to have a dragon friend forever.
 A "realio, trulio, little pet dragon."

Friday, April 10, 2015


 A while ago, as I’ve previously blogged, one of the daily freebie Kindle books was 1000 Awesome Writing Prompts by Ryan Andrew Kinder. I posted a blog about what the second prompt prompted in me. Another interesting prompt was this: how were you named?

My father was a musician: pianist, song writer, music librarian. He loved beautiful melodies and he and my mother wanted me to be named for one of his favorites: Aura Lee. (“Aura Lee, Aura Lee, maid with golden hair.” Well, I certainly did have the golden hair.) But the family powers that be objected strenuously, and I remember my mom saying that some folks at that time thought it strange. I suppose it would be the same for parents today who wanted to name their girl Hepsiba or Hermione. My parents thought about it, compromised, and named me Laura Lee.

I’m guessing at this, but I think that my father’s mother had something to do with the name change: her name was Laura. Aura Lee was close, but not close enough, and my grandmother did rule the roost. Being that my grandmother’s name was Laura, and my parents didn’t want to get into the business of “Big Laura” and “Little Laura”, they called me Lee.

Lee is the name I have used most of my life to family, friends and co-workers. I was Lee Lee to my mother, and now only my cousin Bill still remembers that, much to my pleasure. My brother calls me Leebus, and I love that. I remain Laura to doctors, dentists and bankers, and to anyone who doesn’t really know me. I’ll answer to any and all of the above mentioned names.

Interesting note: I was baptized with the name Lawrence. At that time the Roman Catholic Church was very strict about the baptismal names for children, and there was no Saint Laura, much less Lee. Today you can have your child baptized with any name under the sun and the church hardly blinks or questions it at all. My how times have changed.

Saturday, April 4, 2015


With thanks to Mary Engelbreit

Raise your hands, those of you who know Hans Christian Anderson’s tales.  Raise your hands, those of you who loved the 1952 movie Hans Christian Anderson.  Ah, even more! But the movie was a rather romantic version of his life – it wasn’t all music and dancing children. Anderson, who had only a very basic education, had to start earning his living at a very young age. He found his way into the Royal Danish Theatre, and began his writing there. He considered himself a novelist and a playwright, but he is best known to the world for his tales for children. The Ugly Duckling, Thumbelina, The Emperor’s New Clothes, The Princess and the Pea, are certainly the most popular. This year we celebrate Anderson’s 210th birthday.

Wouldn't it be great to get together this many kids to read? But that position, reading on the floor, was never comfortable for me. I wonder what they're reading.

Because Anderson’s tales, many with morals attached, have both taught and delighted children to this day, the International Board on Books for Young People gives a biennial award to authors and illustrators in his name, and his birthday, April 2, has been designated as International Children’s Book Day.

Books are probably the best gifts grandparents can give to the children in their family. They teach, they amuse, they enthrall, they stir the imagination, they keep the kids occupied and quiet – at least or a short time.  Though many books, especially the classics, are available on line, printed books are probably best. A book is a present that can be opened again and again. I am “the book Grandma.” My granddaughters expect them. One year I had one of my younger granddaughters giving me curious looks when I presented her with a large, wrapped box for her birthday. She thought I had given up on the books – but no! I’d pulled a little trick on her: the box was full of books, and she was very relieved.

This is my great-granddaughter, investigating some of the books I gave to her mother yeeeears ago.

Start even the littlest ones with books. Before you blink, before you even realize it, they’ll be grown and will have a large book collection to pass on. This last thing I know for a fact: my oldest granddaughter is now a mother.  She has all the books we’ve given her over at least two decades. Her daughter’s collection is well started. Actual books, once they’ve been read, can sit on a shelf. As a child passes the shelf, or as he searches through the collection, certain books will ‘register’. Whole stories will flit through his mind to be appreciated, perhaps subconsciously, again and again.

C.S. Lewis, the author of The Chronicles of Narnia, a set of books that should be in every child’s library, once said “Someday you will be old enough to start reading fairy tales again.”

Wednesday, April 1, 2015


In April I will go away
To far off Spain or old Bombay
And dream about hot soup all day.
Oh, my, oh, once, oh, my, oh, twice
Oh, my, oh, chicken soup with rice.

Yes, today is April Fool's Day. No fooling today, but if you would like to read something silly, NASA has this for you. If you would like to read something serene, The Writer's Almanac has a bit of Keats for you. While you're there, you can read about one of my favorite authors, Anne McCaffrey, the inventor of Zen Hugs. I'd really love to be going away to Spain or old Bombay, or any place else for that matter. A trip in the lovely month of April is just what everywinter-weary soul needs.