Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Two Good Movies!

Snapdragons at the base of Stone Mountain 11/27/11.

                                        Kay's Happy Jalapeno Corn Casserole 11/24/11.

Movies!  I love them!  Many times I disagree with the choice of the movie critics.  About Schmit is one example, the critics loved that movie.  My husband and I use that movie to judge the bad movies we see. "Was that as bad as About Schmidt?"   "No, only about half as bad".  Now,those two movies above? I have no idea what the critics have said about them but I just saw them both and enjoyed them very much.

On  Thanksgiving Day, after enjoying a nice time at my Dad's, my husband and I came home and watched The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader.  This came out last year and was on TV.  It is a wonderful movie!  Beautifully filmed and staying fairly close to the book with only a few exceptions, it was such a nice ending to a wonderful day.  After the film was over and we were reading the credits, remarking on how much we loved it, we see the  British director's name... Michael Apted.
Ah, I said there you have it... he is one of my favorites!!   This is the list of movies that he has directed that I have seen and love: Coalminer's Daughter, Gorillas In The Mist , Thunderheart, Amazing Grace, and now... this one I just saw on Thanksgiving!  He also did some fascinating documentaries on children that he first filmed when they were seven years old.   Have you ever seen them? 7up/ 7plus seven/21 up/28 up/35up/42up...he filmed them every seven years.   I love everything that he has ever done!

The second movie that we saw was in celebration of our son's birthday.  All three of us went to see the new Muppet Movie and it was such a joyous movie and we enjoyed it very much indeed. ( I just noticed that the Muppet Movie will be out in theaters in Britain, I think in February, gives you something to look forward to, right?) It is also directed by a British director named James Bobin.  (Kay, do they have to be British for you?  Well, I can't help it, they just are!)  The story is so cleverly written, the music is good and of course, there are muppets!  This movie works both for children AND adults.    Even though Jim Henson is no longer with us, I thought it was a very nice touch to have a poster of him above the theater at the end of the movie, it was as if he was giving this movie his blessing.

Jim Henson's Rowlf was on the Jimmy Dean Show in the early 60's.  I remember staying up to watch that show just so I could see Rowlf!   Kermit was also Jim's voice. In the Muppet Movie from 1979 these muppets sang a song together. (Both voices are by Jim Henson, he just recorded them separately and the voices were blended together later.)   I found this song on Youtube.  If you listen to it, you might just sing it all day too!  Would love it if I caused someone to sing!   Please let me know if you have seen either of these movies and if you haven't, then I urge you to do so!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Kyle Maynard

Since I wrote my last post about Kyle Maynard and his climb up Stone Mountain, I have been in touch with his business manager and best friend, Joey Leonardo.   That name makes me smile, because you see, in my small town Georgia upbringing,  the name "Joey" always sounded like "Joy" to me.  How appropriate since I began my post about the song which really means having JOY in your life! Also, he gave me another link and I am so grateful that he did and I would like to share it here, it is

MISSION: For Kyle Maynard and the entire Mission Kilimanjaro Team to summit the highest
                      peak in Africa together.

PURPOSE:  To send a message to our heroes in the Veteran community and to young people
                      with disabilities around the world that no obstacle is too great to be conquered
                       with an active, no-barriers lifestyle and mindset.

I mentioned in my last post that he works with and is an inspiration to disabled children but also,
if you go to the  link above, you will read how Kyle met a couple of veterans at the Atlanta airport and that they made him realize what a powerful influence he could have with veterans who have lost limbs in the war.   From what I have read about Kyle, he has been working with veterans ever since.

Now, neither of these young men know me at all.  I am just someone who likes inspiring true stories about REAL people.  I, for one, will do everything I can to tell anyone who will listen that this is something to talk about, something to support...dare I say to even cheer about? Why not?  We hear about heroes all the time, but honestly, how many true heroes do we hear about on the news?  Everyone should know about this upcoming mountain climb to the highest peak in Africa.  
      This is good news.  Let's spread the word!

NOTE:  After I posted this I thought of a very good book.  It is  "Reach for the Sky" by Paul Brickhill.  It is the story of Douglas Bader who lost both legs in a plane crash in 1931 and even though he was dismissed by the Royal Air Force, he talked his way back into the Force and became a famous hero in the Battle of Britain.   I highly recommend this book to you!

Sunday, November 27, 2011


  There is a song that I like that has as one of its lines, "And when you have the chance to sit it out or dance, I hope you dance".   Now, as I read those lines, I think of those who are physically unable to dance or to even move very much, but  I hope that they have JOY in their lives, which is really what that song is saying to me.  There was the most amazing story recently on the news about a young man from Buford, Georgia,  who climbed Stone Mountain in October.  His name is Kyle Maynard and he has written a book called "No Excuses".  Here is the link to his website: .  He was born with shortened limbs, with his arms just to his elbows and his legs just to his knees.  Now, you would think that climbing Stone Mountain would be difficult enough but that is just in preparation for his goal of climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro.   Yes, you just read that right, he plans to climb Mt KILIMANJARO!!!  By doing this, he plans to raise money for children with disabilities in Africa. 

Please watch this video above.  The people who were walking beside him that day were inspired and  one of them took a photo of him saying that she wanted to show that photo to people who said they COULDN'T climb the mountain!  This reminded me of the line from Ralph McTell's  " Streets of London" song,  " And how can you tell me that you're lonely, or say for you that the sun don't shine.  Let me take you by the hand and lead you through the streets of London, I'll show you something, to make you change your mind."  He wrote that song about the homeless in London but the woman's remark on the mountain about Kyle Maynard  very much says the same thing...

So, have you climbed your mountain lately, either physically or figuratively?


Wednesday, November 23, 2011

And I Thank You

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving Day in the USA and I would like  to wish everyone happiness and joy as you celebrate with family and friends.  For those of you outside of America, I wish you a good rest of the week and weekend!  Thinking of something uniquely American, I thought of one of my very favorite movies. (The title of this post is a quote from the movie.)  If you have never seen this movie, what are you waiting for?  It is just one of the best movies ever!  Based on the true story of George M. Cohan, the portrayal by Jimmy Cagney is just magnificent!  The casting of the whole film is brilliant, Walter Huston as his Dad and the beautiful young Joan Leslie as his wife.  The actress who played his sister, Josie, was his real life sister, Jeanne Cagney!  There is a special poignancy to this movie when you know two things about it.  One, George M. Cohan was able to view it just before he died and heartily approved of Jimmy Cagney's performance. Secondly, as filming began, the crew was informed of the attack on Pearl Harbor, so that made them put some extra feeling into the patriotic songs.
 You know when people say they do a "happy dance"? The first time I heard that phrase, I instantly thought of Jimmy Cagney dancing up that wall while he is singing "Yankee Doodle Dandy".  I defy you to watch that and not feel joyful!

This next video is really quite good and in a strange way fits with the 80's music.   Even if you don't like the music from Wham, just turn it down and watch Jimmy Cagney dance.  It's magic.
Feeling very grateful for all the joy that I have received through my blog.
And I thank you. 

Monday, November 21, 2011

Make Gentle The Life of This World

Several of the wonderful people who write blogs have had loved ones die and they have written about their loss.  It's amazing to me how much their readers try to comfort and help just by typing words into a keyboard.  For my  part, I would like to share something with you that was written by Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, who is the oldest child of Robert Kennedy.   I am sure that everyone is familar with the Kennedy family and all the losses of the Kennedy family.   Her Aunt Kathleen, who was her namesake, died in a plane crash.  The oldest son,  Joe, died in World War II.  John F. Kennedy, our 35th president, was assassinated on November 22, 1963, a date that will be forever etched into the memories of all those who are able to remember that day.  Her own father was also killed in June 1968, as he was running for President.   So, here are the lessons that she felt she learned about how to console those who have suffered a loss...

"First, go to the funeral.  It's there that you see people, and that they see you.  It's there that you mingle with families, listen to them talk, and lend your full support.  Death opens an enormous hole in the heart.  A funeral service brings together those who can help fill that hole.

Second, call or write your friend.  It is remarkable how few people actually reach out in tough times. Perhaps they don't know what to say or they think the person would prefer to be left alone.  It is better to try and be rejected than to never try at all.

Third, never say, "You will get over it".  People rarely do.

The death of a loved one rips us apart, shakes us up, hurts terribly. So, my fourth tip is to embrace the person who suffers.  Make it clear in the letter or phone call to your friend or loved one that he or she is wonderful. The warm embrace or the freshly baked cookies do not replace the life. But they do say, "You are loved. You are cherished".

She also shared a note that her father gave her on the day that President Kennedy was buried and this is what it said,  

Dear Kathleen,
You seemed to understand that Jack died and was buried today. As the oldest of the Kennedy grandchildren, you have a particular responsibility to John (her cousin) and Joe (her brother).  Be kind to others and work for your country.

If you would like to read a good book about John F. Kennedy, please read this one: Johnny We Hardly Knew Ye: Memories of John Fitzgerald Kennedy by Kenneth P. O'Donnell.  The video at the top is the speech by Robert Kennedy which he gave the night that Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated.  This was given in Indianapolis and that night there were riots all over the country, but none were recorded in that city. This wasn't even a prepared speech, he just spoke from his heart.

And so too I am speaking from my heart and it is my hope that this post may help people who are trying to console in the loss of a loved one and to perhaps bring comfort to someone, to somehow "make gentle the life of this world".

Thursday, November 17, 2011

England At Her Best!

Hey, Georgia Girl, why do you have an English heart?   Maybe you will see why if you look at these photos.  This first one is one of my favorite memories.  That is me with my mother-in-law, Joan and it is so windy that the wind was about to blow her down! So, I linked my arm into hers and am helping her up that hill.  I look behind me and there is my sweet son just sprinting up to us, so HE can be the one to help his grandmother! I am so glad that my husband captured that moment.

  My husband misses beautiful potatoes like these.  Sainsbury's must think we are nuts, taking photos of potatoes!  But just look at them, they taste as good as they look.

 This is my elegant mother-in-law with orange poppies and wait for it...snow in summer!  Aren't they beautiful together!  That means you too, Joan!
 Along the seafront in Eastbourne.
 Does this make anyone else think of Mary Poppins? "Step in time"!
 The lighthouse at Beachy Head.  We can walk there from the seafront from Eastbourne.  It is a beautiful walk and one that you will never forget.  Maybe I will see you there one day!

 Our son took this photo of the two of us on our last day in England.  Look at that view and the buttercups under our feet.  Beautiful!

Every time we visit England, a dear family friend always has the American flag draped over the doorway along with the English flag. (And some Union Jacks are sitting in a milk bottle just out of view.)  What a welcome sight after a long flight!
Forget-me-nots under an apple tree... I took so many photos of flowers in England! Can you see the bee loaded down with yellow pollen? This bee looks very different from the bees in Georgia!  I had never seen pollen like that before! And that apple blossom!

A field of rape that will take your breath away even from a great distance ... the yellow is so intense. This is made into rapeseed oil and since it is grown in Canada also, this is called Canola oil in America.  Why can't we grow this in the USA?  Americans, wouldn't you love to see this growing?

Can anyone spot the partridge   PHEASANT! in amongst the bluebells?  This was very exciting for me... I had never seen one before.  The bluebells were "at their best" according to the sign.  This bluebell walk was breathtakingly beautiful and one that I will never forget.

These are just a few of the photos that we took when we were last in England... these were taken in May of 2010.  I don't even have any photos of any of the smiling faces that greet us when we arrive there.  Take my word for it, they are even more beautiful than any of these photos.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011


"In  visual experiences, harmony is something that is pleasing to the eye.  It engages the viewer and it creates an inner sense of order, a balance in the visual experience.  When something is not harmonious, it is either boring or chaotic.  At one extreme is a visual experience that is so bland that the viewer is not engaged.  The human brain will reject under-stimulating information.  At the other extreme is a visual experience that is so overdone, so chaotic that the viewer can't stand to look at it.  The human brain rejects what it cannot organize, what it cannot understand.  The visual task requires that we present a logical structure.... harmony is a dynamic equilibrium."    Jill Morton

After our visit to the mountain that was so heavily quarried, both my husband and I felt a bit overwhelmed by the destruction left behind.  I just happened upon this writing above.  It is specifically about color harmony, but it really spoke to my feelings about what we had experienced on the mountain.  Remember how I felt that I wanted to bring some order to it, and was pleased when I found that someone had begun a low stone wall?  Harmony, we must bring harmony to the mountain again!

Oddly enough, on the same day, we were able to enjoy wonderful harmony at a concert which was performed at the Monastery.  This was by the University of Georgia Collegium Musicum, which was directed by Dr. Mitos Andaya.  It was a perfect place to hear them sing because of the wonderful acoustics in the church.  Normally, only the monks and those attending retreats are allowed in that part of the church.  Whenever there is a concert, one is allowed to sit at the front.  The glass there is yellow, so the altar is bathed in a golden light.  (There are some orange windows on the side, does this help intensify the golden hue?)   The rest of the windows in the church are blue and purple and therefore, the rest of the church is in a blue/lavender light.  In photographs, the bluish light is much more intense, somehow, our eyes are better at seeing the true colors!  Light and music were enjoyed in equal measures...

Isn't it clever of the monks to place the speakers into the shape of a cross?  Never could see this in the back of the church!

The musical director was wonderful... her movements were as precise as a ballerina's.  And her selections for the choir, excellent.  We were informed that some of those in the choir were music majors but many were not, they just did this for the love of the music!    The video is from the same group performing at the Monastery in May of this year.    

The Monastery may look very plain to anyone from Europe but the size of it alone is very impressive in rural Georgia, which is what Rockdale County was when it was first built in the 1940's.  Also, it is built of concrete, not stone, and it was very hard work to mix and then to build with that heavy concrete.  I was excited that I was able to see the gingko trees which are the yellow ones that are photographed here.  The pansies are waiting for the monk who will plant them in the winter garden.  All the trees and flowers that you see have been carefully planted and tended.  The buildings are beautiful at the Monastery, the grounds are beautiful, the concert was wonderful and the harmony of all this together was a perfect joy.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Arabia/Quarried Mountains

Quite a few posts here on our trips to Arabia Mountain.  Technically speaking, the mountain that we  climb is named Bradley Mountain and the one directly next to it is Arabia Mountain.  We only found that out when we were looking at maps of the area.  Yesterday, we marched down one mountain and carefully, picked our way over the rubble to the next one.  It looks as though the next mountain over was heavily, heavily quarried and it makes you wonder how much of it was taken away... Maybe it is just me, but I think that I will call that one the Quarried Mountain and I will continue to call the first one Arabia.  The whole area is called Davidson/Arabia Mountain Preserve.  Why does everything have to be so complicated?  We climbed Arabia on Sunday and we also went late this afternoon, very late...we just made it back before it got dark.  Every time we see the mountain, everything looks different, depending upon the light.  The light!  It is what the artists always talk about when they paint, isn't it?  But there is a reason, you see, if the light is just right, it makes all the difference in the world!
Perhaps in the spring, there will more life on that next mountain over but Quarried Mountain will be my name for it...

  Look at that photo above, can you see that someone has taken the rocks and built them into a wall?  I wonder who did that? You see, you really want to take all these rocks and put them into some kind of order and beauty.

   On this photo, you can just look over and see the top of Arabia Mountain.  It looks very far away, but it is only about a 15 to 20 minute walk.  It is only about a half mile, but remember, you have to be careful of all those rocks!

There, that's more like it.  Back on the mountain that we love to visit!
Who knows, perhaps we will grow to love the Quarried Mountain too?
Here is Richard looking back at that mountain that we just left...
how much was blasted away? We read that these mountains are FIVE HUNDRED
MILLION YEARS OLD.  So, correct me if I am wrong, but they made it that far and the Quarried Mountain was destroyed in the 20th century?

On a positive note,  there was a mention of my blog on someone's facebook page about my posts on Arabia Mountain! And I was informed that there is indeed a covered bridge on the walking/bike trail which is on the other side of the road from Arabia Mountain.  It was exciting to discover that the construction of it was designed to honor Horace King, who was a famous bridgebuilder during the Civil War period.  Horace King was a former slave who bought his freedom and was very well known for his covered bridges in Alabama, Georgia and Mississippi.  Look him up!  I think this is fascinating!
His son, Washington King, built the covered bridge that is now at Stone Mountain.  (This bridge was from the late 1880's but was moved to Stone Mountain in the early 1960's.)  Look for the photo of the covered bridge on this trail...I WILL find it and photograph it one day, I promise!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Stone Mountain Autumn


Now there comes a time when one really needs to spend time doing housework. So much to do and the longer one puts it off, the more work there is to be done...but the leaves are still so beautiful just now, the autumn is slipping by quickly... couldn' t some of that work be put off until later? Wouldn't it be a good idea to visit Stone Mountain, enjoy the walk- up trail and then the trail around the base of the mountain under all the trees? Sounds good? Yes, forget that housework, let's go outside in the fresh autumnal air!

Can you spot me holding my pink jacket in one of the photos?  There is a photo of  my dear husband waiting for me at one of our favorite picnic tables which is near the Grist Mill at the lake.  We think we walked about ten miles the past two days, surely that is better than housework.  Hope you enjoyed seeing Stone Mountain in the autumn as much as you did in the spring!  Wishing everyone a lovely week ahead and as much beauty as I saw this weekend.