Monday, June 30, 2008

Country and Western Music

If Tennessee is the center of country music, then Texas must be the center of western music. Here are some songs I learned yesterday at the Smithsonian Folklife Festival that have to do with the lone star state.

"The Yellow Rose of Texas," by Mitch Miller
"You Can't Get the Hell Out of Texas," by George Jones
"Deep in the Heart of Texas," by Moe Bandy
"El Paso," by Marty Robbins
"Luckenbach, Texas," by Waylon Jennings
"New San Antonia Rose," by Bob Wills and the Texas Playboys
Now who is your favorite country and western singer? Mine is Willie Nelson. I like how he combines "outlaw country" music with east Texas delta blues.

Smithsonian Folklife Festival 2008

Click on pictures for more detail in the pictures.

Every year around the time of the Fourth of July Celebration on the Washington D.C. Mall the Smithsonian Museum hosts the National Folklife Festival. Each year's festival highlights at least one foreign country and one U.S. state. Last year's festival was outstanding. Northern Ireland, the four countries that border the Mekong River (China, Vietnam,Cambodia and Laos) and the state of Virginia were the themes for the food, music, dance and displays. This year's featured places all in some way have a connection to Texas the featured state for this year. Texas I assume was chosen as a tribute to President Bush's last year in office. I didn't know NASA was a country or state but it was chosen because of its 50 anniversary this year. And of course, it has a Texas connection with the Houston Space Center.
The one foreign country featured this year is the little known country of Bhutan which is wedged between China to the north and India to the south and which stretches from tropical jungles in the south to cold Himalayan mountain passes in the north. And if you want to go to a place in the U.S. to learn about Bhutan, go to the University of Texas at El Paso where all the campus buildings are built in the style of Bhutan Buddhists architecture. (Who knew! Not me!) In the pictures posted here you see the U.S. Capital and the Mall and a replica of a Bhutan Buddhist Temple. A brochure I picked up shows the campus of the University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP) with the same style of architecture. Kathleen Worrell, UTEP's first dean, had the campus's first building built in this style in 1917 and nearly all other UTEP buildings followed this style of architecture. The top photo shows a group of Bhutan dancers doing a skull dance. We also had the opportunity to see an antler dance and the Buddhist monks black hat dance.
The fifth picture down was taken inside the tent labeled the Texas Dance Hall. Jack and I were transposed in our minds back to 1975 when we attended the wedding of an army auditor at El Paso whose post wedding reception was held at El Paso's Red Dog Saloon. The two artists up on stage playing and singing are Lloyd Maines and Teri Hendrix. Lloyd Maines besides being a Texas country artist in his own right is now probably best known as the father of Natalie Maines of the Dixie Chicks who had a few strong comments to make about President Bush's invasion of Iraq when she performed in London in 2003. Final note. We try to attend the Folklife
Festival each year. On a scale of one to five stars I would give the 2008 festival four stars and the 2007 just five stars plus. Jack and I both noticed that while there were many local people and tourists in town for this annual event there seemed to be a lot less then in previous years. I think gas prices and food costs are having a big impact on tourism.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

The Botannical Play Act 2, Scene 2

Every good story or play needs some tension. Well, we have tension big time today. The deer have returned and destroyed the beautiful soft lilac blooms on all my blooming hosta and have stripped the buds off most of the remaining hosta. See the two photos. Last night Jack and I ate dinner on the patio. We grilled hotdogs and had baked beans and fresh tomato salad with a glass of red wine while admiring all the hosta in bloom by the patio wall. Good thing we enjoyed it last night because in the wee hours of the morning the deer finished their golf game and headed to our club house for a little snack of hosta blossoms. So there is tension big time today. Shall I have Jack put down more deer repellant today or go to the bathroom outside today. These are suppose to be two good ways to deter deer from eating your flowers. Watch Act 2, Scene 3 to see how the plot thickens between Jack, Joann and Bambi and his golf course friends.

If A Picture Is Worth A Thousand Words

If a picture is worth a thousand words, how many words describe my daughter Jennifer's new blog. This past week the entire family was at a lost when we discovered that Jennifer's old blog had disappeared from the web and it would take a hundred dollar bill to reclaim it. Then Jenn decided to use the same blogsite service that Jack and I use and started to create a new blog from her reservoir of photos of Baby Jack. Luckily she had previously printed out her monthly summations of Baby Jack's growing experiences since his arrival last July 16 (Which by the way is just around the corner once more.) so she had these "letters to Jack" to post. And she had all these wonderful photos of Baby Jack so she started a Flicker account to post them. Yes, this is what the entire family was so concerned with---you mean you have lost all those wonderful pics of Baby Jack that we love to go back and look at again and again and AGAIN! Let's face it grandparents and aunties get a little anal about baby photos being available at all hours of the day. Like when you are down and out and feeling a little blue just look at the baby photos and you will soon be smiling and laughing your fool head off. So if you would like to smile and laugh your fool head off, head on over to daughter Jenn's new blog.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Remember Dinah Shore?

I know some folks do Skywatch Fridays. I don't but if I did, I would choose this photo which shows how blue our skies in Virginia usually are in the summer. Everyone have a great weekend and remember that when the last week in June is here it is officially summer vacation time and so drive carefully and enjoy our great country. I wish somebody these days would sing that great Dinah Shore lyric: See the USA in your Chevrolet.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Diabetic Workshop

For the last three weeks Jack and I have been attending weekly sessions on diabetes at the Prince William Hospital in Manasas. Jack was diagnosed with diabetes in December of 1983 and in January of 1984 Jack and I attended our first diabetic workshop. First of all, why we have waited so long for attending the second I don't know but we are back and learning many new things. And like anything else in the medical field we know that you have to play the devil's advocate to get good treatment and results. Spouses play a big role in diabetes management because of the diet concerns and the exercise/movement component of this disease. Jack began taking insulin shots in January of 1990 and now takes four shots a day. We have learned a lot over the years but we definately have much room for improvement. Over the years as you get older you tend to give in to more temptations food wise and you forget to exercise every day. So this workshop that we have been attending is a good wakeup call for us to get back on track with this disease. And internet addict that I am I recently went looking for a good site or blog for diabetes education and I think that I have found one that is excellent. So if you are diabetic or know someone who is diabetic, do yourself a favor and go to this blog: This woman has an extensive blog and it covers everything and more that we have learned in our recent diabetic classes.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Family Celebration

Jack, Jeanine and I drove to the planned city of Reston, VA and met up with Jennifer, Terry and Baby Jack at Clydes Restaurant. This restaurant has three sections, each decorated in a different style: airplanes, sailing ships and horses. We were seated in the horsey section so Baby Jack was fascinated by this huge black horse above his head. The reasons for the June family celebration: two birthdays (Jennifer and Joann) and Father's Day. Our waiter was a Bulgarian young man here for two years on a work visa. He was very helpful and volunteered to record the event by taking a group photo with our camera. Jack Aidan didn't dance on the table like he did for Jeanine's birthday celebration in March but he did cruise the restaurant once or twice on Grandpa's shoulders. The family is beginning to learn that putting the two Jacks together at a social event is just asking for Trouble with a capital T.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Asiatic Lilies

The yellow Asiatic lilies in bloom are at my daughter's home. In 2006 Jack and I did a "While You Were Out" front yard makeover while Jenn and Terry were at work. When they got home from work they had a new look to their landscape. I'm glad that these Asiatic lilies keep coming back each year bigger and better. This past Friday morning Jenn was giving Baby Jack a see and smell introduction to Asiatic lilies. Friday afternoon I had an appointment with an Ear, Nose and Throat doctor for my vertigo problem. I now have vertigo exercises to do. This may be a case where the cure is as scarry as the vertigo since the cure requires bringing on the vertigo to fight it. Anybody got any experiences with vertigo that you would like to share? Anyway this is my song for this week: There Is Nothing Like A Dame. A Dizzy Dame!

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Good News This Week!

Good news this week! Our daughter's beau who has spent this past year in Iraq with the VA National Guard has now left Iraq and is spending his last days in the Middle East in Kuwait. Hurrah! By the middle of July we hopefully will be able to see him here in Virginia. We will give him a beer to celebrate his safe return.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Rest In Peace

These Roses Are For Tim Russert
1950 - 2008
A Man For All Seasons
May He Rest In Peace
Meet The Press Will Not Be The Same

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

The Heirloom Gardener

Go to this blogsite to meet the most amazing gardner. She has the most beautiful photos of heirloom roses and other plants. And she has lots of gardening tips on how to fight beetles without chemicals. She will give you a lesson in soapy water drowning of the beetles. This woman has five children. How she does so much with her yard with five kids amazes me.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Monday Wake Up Call

These flowers from my garden should wake you up after a busy weekend. Have a safe Monday back to work, if you work. If you don't work, it means that you have more time to look at the flowers.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Happy Father's Day

Daddy, Happy Father's Day to you! I wish you were here instead of out of town on business. I will see you Sunday night late if Mommy lets me stay up. If not, we will spend Monday together. See these photos. Grandpa Jack Jack has been giving me shoulder rides while you are away. Wow, I'm up so high that I can see myself in the mirror. I want to tell Grandpa Jack Jack Happy Father's Day too. This is his first Father's Day as a newly minted Grandfather. He makes me giggle when he pretends that he is Donald Duck going quack, quack! Click on the photos to see the little octopus on my coverall. Aunt Marilyn gave me this coverall.

Our baby is 32! Jennifer Mary turned 32 yesterday. She is our Flag Day Baby since she was born on June 14'th. And she is our Bicentennial Year Baby since she was born in 1976, the year of the U.S. Bicentennial. And she is our Arizona Baby since she was born in Tucson, AZ in the heat of the Arizona summer. Back then there were these contraptions on Arizona house roofs that were called swamp coolers. In the southwest desert it was the poor man's version of air conditioning. So in the one photo you see her dressed in just her diaper as we were trying to keep her from having a baby meltdown on her first Fourth of July.

Jennifer Mary was our firstborn so she didn't have siblings to welcome her home to our Raggedy Ann and Andy nursery. But we did have this little mixed breed pup (part lab and part dachshund) named Shiloh to welcome her home to Huachuca City, AZ. And there she learned to sit up, crawl, talk and walk. All activities that Jennifer's son, Jack Aidan, is now trying to do just like Mommy. Happy Birthday Jennifer Mary!

Friday, June 13, 2008

Jack Scared the Daylights Out Of Me!

I was sitting at the kitchen table this morning reading the Washington Post when Jack started screaming his head off. The last time he screamed in that tone of voice the second plane had just hit the second tower in New York City. Oh, my gosh, I thought to myself our house must be on fire! Then Jack yelled, "Look at the bird feeders! Quick, look at the bird feeders!" Oh no, that gosh darn coopers hawk is back and has killed another bird I thought to myself. So with fear in my heart I looked out the window and what to my wondrous eyes did I see but a young deer helping itself to the bird seed! It was just standing next to the irises and eating away. When I got up close to the window the young fawn got spooked and leaped thru the flowerbed, over the lawn and across the street. No wonder my hollyhocks and hostas have been attacked. And no wonder Jack couldn't understand how the birds were going thru so much bird seed. He would fill the feeders at 8:00 P.M. and by 8:00 A.M. they were empty again! So what am I going to do? I'm putting the bird seed away for awhile. The birds and all other wildlife will have to manage on their own or hitchhike to Ohio to Mr. Abraham Lincoln's bird feeders. I know. I know. I'm punishing the birds for what the deer did. But isn't that always the case. The good guys get punished because of the antics of the bad guys. Well, that's life. And when I went back to The Post I read that the neighboring county has wary homeowners because black bears have been sighted foraging for food in the burbs. Well, that really does it for me. I'm not interested in seeing black bears in my yard. The bird feeders are now history.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Astilbe In Bloom

Three colors of astilbe: pink Rhineland, white Deutschland and red Fanal. Astilbe is like hosta in that it is a perennial that keeps increasing in diameter until you run out of space and need to divide it. Then just get out your butcher knife on a cool and shady morning and cut it in half like a cabbage. If your plant has really grown you can take each half and divide in half again. Dig some holes for the new plants, stick them in the holes and water well. There you go. Easy. I started out with just one plant of each kind and have at least quadrupled my plants by dividing them.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Baaa Baaa Grey Sheep

The lambs' ears are standing tall and blooming. I grow this perenial for its feel. The leaves feel like velvet and the bees love it.

The Director of the Botanical Play

Do you talk to your plants? I do. In fact I think of myself as the director in a fast moving botanical play. Spring bulbs you are in act 1, scene 1. Roses you are at the end of act 1, so get ready. Mums, you don't appear till act 3, so just grow and grow but don't bloom till fall. All plants enter from stage left. When you have said your lines please exit from stage right. If you are a repeat bloomer, let me give you a haircut (deheading) when you exit from center stage.Green lawn please stay green and remember that you are the orchestra for this play. You must give each actor his due by playing loud and green. Madame de Bouchard Clematis you are now in the spotlight so please smile at the audience and do your thing.

Of course, there are always unexpected and sometimes unfortunate happenings during the course of the play. Sometimes you get rained out or winded out. And sometimes the actors don't even show up for the play because they failed to sprout or they died! Other times there is someone streaking the stage like last night when I had two wild brown bunnies attacking each other by the lily bed. And now and then there is a plant actor who can't go on stage and be in the limelight because they have been attacked and injured. That was the story yesterday when I discovered that the roaming deer had eaten the buds of one of the hollyhocks that was getting ready for her appearance in act 2. I've learned that I'm not really the director of this play even though I try my hardest to be. Someone up above is in charge.

Monday, June 9, 2008

It Began Sedately But Proceeded To....

It began sedately with the babies in their best clothes behaving nicely but proceeded to a total baby meltdown when the parents placed the birthday hats on the little ones for the official group photo. Trying to get nine babies to look at the camera at the same time was a challenge to say the least. One baby left the party early and missed the group photo madness. The party began at 11:00 A.M. and by 1:30 P.M. some folks sorely needed an afternoon nap. And it wasn't necessarily the babies but the adults who needed that nap! If you would like to experience more of this baby madness, click on our daughter's blog:
Just want to let you know that Jenn and Terry now have a new blog so the pics are now under Flicker at their new blog. The new blogsite:

An Unforgetable Party

Yesterday Jack and I had two parties to attend. The first one so wore us out that we almost skipped the second. The first party was a combined first birthday for eight little babies that are in our daughter's baby support group. The second party was a high school graduation party for our neighbors's son. I have so many photos to share from this baby party that I don't know quite where to begin. Well, let's begin with a photo of the birthday cake. There were eight names on the cake but I counted ten babies at this party so that means that we had two babies crashing the party.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Naval Academy Application

Will the Naval Academy consider your application if you have a baby plug in your mouth? A friend of Baby Jack's Daddy gave Baby Jack this outfit. Doesn't Jack Aidan look cute in it? He also reminds me of John McCain.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Blowing Bubbles

This past Wednesday on a paint break we blew bubbles for Baby Jack to catch. Did you know that they now have bubbles on steroids? These are latex bubbles and they last a long, long time. In fact, some stuck on Jack's little red car and they were still stuck there when we returned Thursday morning. Jack really enjoyed seeing the bubbles and trying to catch them. We enjoyed the bubbles too. Reminded me of Lawrence Welk and his bubble machine.You are never too old for some bubble fun.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Little Gem Magnolia Tree

This is the first of two Little Gem magnolia trees that we have in our yard. This one always reminds me of 9/11. We planted it here by the bluebird house just two days before 9/11 occurred in 2001. If you have a small yard then a Little Gem is the magnolia tree to select. It reaches just to 30 feet with a 8 feet spread when fully grown while a regular magnolia tree can get ginormous at 100 feet with a 50 feet spread. It may be little but it smells like a big magnolia tree. Heavenly.