Sunday, March 29, 2015


A couple weeks ago I was in the South, Georgia and South Carolina, enjoying the early spring. I have a "thing" for trees and I love the efforts I saw to preserve some of these old beauties.


Beaufort, SC - Gnarled old branches of a live oak that have wandered over the road for centuries are cared for, a "Clearance - 10 feet" sign alerting vehicles passing under.



Hilton Head Island - Another sign reminds walkers and bikers to duck under the branches at a park entrance.




Savannah - Colonial Park Cemetery. Spanish moss hangs from the old oaks shading the graves of Colonial leaders and heroes of the American Revolutionary War.




Hilton Head - Cypress trees make a valiant effort to create a root system that will let them hang on in their fight against constant erosion by wind and water.







Harbor Town, Hilton Head - Plans to build a harbor here were altered to preserve this huge live oak. It was given a name - the Liberty Oak - and the environmentalist responsible for its preservation, Charles Fraser, is buried beneath its branches.







One of my dad's favorite poems was this one, and he enjoyed reciting it often from memory.


I think that I shall never see

A poem as lovely as a tree.

A tree whose hungry mouth is prest

Against the earth's sweet flowing breast;

A tree that looks at God all day,

And lifts her leafy arms to pray;

A tree that in summer wears

A nest of robins in her hair;

Upon whose bosom snow has lain;

Who intimately lives with rain.

Poems are made by fools like me,

But only God can make a tree.

Joyce Kilmer, American poet, father of five, killed by a sniper's bullet in the Battle of Marne in World War I.

Well said, Mr. Kilmer!

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Thursday, March 26, 2015

Monument to An American Family

On the old cobblestone waterfront in Savannah, on the spot where slaves first put their feet on the ground in Georgia, stands a moving memorial to the African-American family.

At their feet the chains of slavery have fallen away.








The inscription on the base, written by American poet and author Maya Angelou, brought tears to my eyes.

"We were stolen, sold and bought together from the African continent. We got on the slave ships together. We lay back to belly in the holds of the slave ships in each others' excrement and urine together, sometimes died together, and our lifeless bodies thrown overboard together."

The harshness some saw in her words affected funding. After years of delay in getting the memorial built, Angelou added a final line:

"Today, we are standing up together, with faith and even some joy."

It seems a weak addition after the strength and impact of her original words, but it did get the memorial completed and placed.

The African American Monument was built in 2002, designed by Savannah College of Art and Design professor Dorothy Spradley.




Monday, March 23, 2015

The Return of Winter

Rowdy old codger
Crashing the party
Weighting down tree
Limbs and high spirits, putting
Spring fever on ice.


Today, seven inches of snow.

I wonder what tomorrow will bring.

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Sunday, March 22, 2015

Why Do I Live in Minnesota?




This was yesterday. It was only in the 30sF but as soon as I raked the leaves away, the crocuses shot up and began to bloom.

Today the sky is heavy and gray and we are getting sleet and snow, up to five inches accumulation.

Poor crocuses.


Thursday, March 19, 2015

Gone South, Looking For Spring

I have returned from the sunny South -- Georgia and South Carolina -- where spring comes much earlier than it does in Minnesota. When I left Minnesota, we were delayed because the plane had to be de-iced. When I landed in Savannah, it was a welcome and wonderful 80 degrees.



Savannah Airport. The fountain was already green for St Patrick's Day, but leaving the land of white and brown, to me it was green for SPRING.


My friend lives in the South Carolina Lowcountry where centuries old live oaks hung with Spanish moss form shady tunnels over the roads.



Pre-Civil War rice fields stretch as far in every direction as the eye can see.









A modern fishing pier has replaced it, but traces of an old railroad trestle across the Broad River remain.


Pylons made of cypress that held up tracks and trestle carrying the heavy trains between Savannah and Charleston remain in the water a couple hundred years later.


During the Civil War, a battle was fought at nearby Honey Hill to protect this railroad. Confederates won that battle, but Sherman's Army wasn't far behind with flames and devastation.





One more stop -- for shrimp just hours off the boat ...



I'm not sure the shrimp were smiling, but when we brought them home and dropped them directly into a pot of spicy boiling water, I was!


Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Not That I'm Irish ...

Happy St Patrick's Day!

Forsyth Park, Savannah, Georgia


Once the site of the camps of the French and American armies during one of the bloodiest battles of the American Revolution, today a park for those of all ages enjoying the beauty of spring.



Savannah has been celebrating St Patrick's Day for 191 years and holds a parade and street celebration today that draws up to 400,000 people. The azaleas, camellias, a little bit of green water in the fountain, 80 degree temps -- celebration enough for me!


Monday, March 9, 2015

Hometown Homemade


When some in my small town wanted to create an art center out of a landmark church scheduled to be torn down, one of the criticisms went something like this: What kind of "art" are we going to find in this little town that people would want to come and look at?


I hope the naysayers are paying attention. These quilts prove there is enjoyable art to be found in small town America.



Chicago skyline




Lady in the Mirrror






Heirloom quilt, Log Cabin pattern, c 1935. This design was often used when the larger useful pieces were used up in other quilt patterns.













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Thursday, March 5, 2015

A St Paul Hero, An American Hero


In 1980 a Minnesota coach led the US Olympic Hockey Team to a gold medal victory over the highly favored Russian team in an upset that became known as the "miracle on ice." With several Minnesota hockey stars on the team and a coach born and raised in St Paul, you can imagine the excitement in Minnesota.


The coach's name was Herbert Paul Brooks, Jr. He played college hockey for the University of Minnesota Gophers and later coached them to three NCAA championships before signing on as the coach of the 1980 Olympic team.

Disney made a movie of the story, called simply "Miracle."

Tragically, Brooks was killed in a one car accident just north of Minneapolis in August 1983. He fell asleep at the wheel returning home from the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame Golf Tournament in Biwabik, Minnesota. He was just 66 years old. I remember hearing with shock about the accident on the radio and the speculation that it was Coach Brooks who was driving.





In 2004, a statue of Herbie was erected in St. Paul's Rice Park across from another of St Paul's famous sons, author F. Scott Fitzgerald. He lifts his arms forever in joy and triumph near the old Civic Center where his team held practice.

Brooks aimed to inspire his teams to greatness with words of wisdom his players called "Brooksisms". Some are appropriate only for the locker room, but here are a few of his gems:

  • Risk something or forever sit with your dreams.
  • You're playing worse everyday and right now you're playing like it's next month.
  • Be better than you are. Set a goal that seems unattainable, and when you reach that goal, set another one even higher."

And my favorite,

  • "Great moments are born from great opportunities."


Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Packin' It In

I'm not one to watch videos on how to pack a suitcase, mostly because, ho hum, they're boring. And because mostly they are trying to sell you something. (Have you seen those vacuum bags that suck all the air out of your clothes and leave them permanently wrinkled? I already have enough wrinkles, if you know what I mean.)

Also, and I don't mean to boast here, I consider myself a whiz because of years of experience in packing light.

This video a friend put on Facebook caught my attention, though. Following this method, I could get my entire closet in a carry on. Not that I want to. But hey, I thought: this could leave lots more room for books and rocks and teapots and the other things I tend to bring home!

So I hope you'll find this interesting. It's like watching a clown car fill up. No way will all those things fit in there! And I promise, he's not selling anything either.

What do you think?


Packin' It In

What do you think?

Note: Carry on rules vary from country to country. In the U.S. safety razors are allowed in carry on luggage, as are liquids up to 3.4 oz. each, packed in a clear 1 quart plastic bag, knitting needles, and nail scissors with shorter than 4 inch blades.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

March, At Last




Up from the sea, the wild north wind is blowing

Under the sky's gray arch;

Smiling I watch the shaken elm boughs, knowing

It is the wind of March.

John Greenleaf Whittier.

American poet

We have a snowstorm coming tomorrow night, but spring has come to my windowsill.