Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The gamut of emotions


To discover that our ad rep at the local paper incorrectly spelled "effectiveness" in a front page ad that we were to run this week.

Horror: To get an email back from the ad rep stating that it could not be changed at this point. To be told that I had created the error in the ad copy I sent to them.

Cold comfort: To check my original submission and find that the spelling error was in fact their doing, not mine.

Frustration: That I cannot get them to answer their phones.

Warm, joyous relief: To call an old friend at the newspaper and be assured that in fact he will make sure that the ad copy is corrected, even at this late hour.

Gratitude: To God, whatever my damnable, detestable doubts about Him may be -- oh, to kill them once and for all -- for if there is a God, from Him came the inspiration to make that last call and thus possibly save my job.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Season changing ...

Daffodils, tulips, hyacinth, forsythia ... all are in bloom now or nearly blooming, in my neighborhood. Signs of spring, we say.

But these are foreign transplants, truth be told. The peoples who called this area home, before the boats of the Europeans ever dropped anchor, would not have recognized them.

No, for a Powhatan or a Monacan, the changing of the season from winter to spring would have been seen in the budding of puccoon (bloodroot); and what we now call Spring Beauty, Virginia bluebells, Mayapple and other ephemereals -- long gone by the arrival of summer.

In a corner of the woods near my home, I have reintroduced a few of those native flowers and every spring, I cherish the sight of them far more than spindly forsythia and home improvement store daffodils.

The first sign of Virginia bluebell, photographed yesterday, is not much, a few green leaves above the brown litter of autumn's detritus -- but just you wait until she blooms!

Friday, March 4, 2011

Where trees should grow

As I walked the dog this morning past the fenced-in factory on the edge of the neighborhood, a thought drifted into my mind and stayed there.

The west side of the factory property, about two acres or so, is close-mown grass. Better than asphalt, certainly, but still, rather useless from the perspective of the planet, other than for beetle grubs and robins.

What if I could talk to the big shots that own the factory? Convince them to let some conservation group, Boy Scouts, etc., plant about forty trees in that grass? In years to come, a cool, shady forest requiring no attention from humans, no mowing, no fertilizing, could cover that area. Great PR for the factory, and a money-saver, too.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Reading to children

I agreed to read to a classroom of children today, Dr. Seuss' birthday. When I arrived at the school, I saw that many volunteers had signed up to read to the littlest kids (K, 1st grade, etc), but none for the older kids (5th graders). So I signed up for 5th grade, being contrary that way, I suppose.

Our reading choices were of course the works of Dr. Seuss. I picked up The 500 Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins.

As I walked down the hallway, I wondered how these sophisticated "big kids" would react to being read a Dr. Seuss book. I had deliberately picked one of greater length and more depth than most of the good doctor's works. I know little children love funny voices, hand gestures, etc, when being read to. But 5th grade? It has been a long time since I was that age, and I have not been blessed with children of my own. So what do I know about the mind of a fifth grader?

I read the book to them, changing my tone for the various characters but not getting overly silly about it. I had fun. I hope they enjoyed it, too.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011


I brought upon myself my first bully.

He was a moron and I told him so. He did not appreciate my evaluation of his intelligence and chased me through the neighborhood to fight me on every possible occasion. My last bit of revenge was to blow sand in his eye through a garden hose a couple of days before we moved. I've never seen him again. I'm sure he is warming a cell in some prison. Or maybe he grew up, got smart and is running a corporation somewhere.

I endured other bullies as I continued through school ... until, in seventh grade, I learned to fight back.

An organization now exists in which kids can anonymously report bullies. http://www.anonymoustips.com.

These people comprehend the impossibility of convincing kids to openly report to an adult that they are being bullied. I know for a fact I would never have gone to my teacher or principal to "tattle," no matter how miserable I was. But if I could have filed an anonymous report ... well, I just might have done so. I wonder if the taunts that still echo in the back of my mind today, might never have taken such hold of my pysche, nipped promptly in the bud.