Saturday, May 10, 2008


Finally! And for a couple of reasons.

First, I’m back on the blog. No promises, but here I am today after a hectic six or so weeks since my last visit.

Second, maybe more important, the gentling Ginger gender mystery is resolved. No more gender guessing. No more Thomas or Thelma?

Thursday, we managed to coerce, force, drug her/him into a cat carrier and make the long overdue visit to the vet for a check-up, shots and the final answer. But no, at least, not at once. “Well?” I demanded. My vet friend looked chagrined. He couldn't tell either. Ginger wasn’t being gentle. He/she was not going into this examination routine without a bit of help from some anesthesia.

Later in the day, after some medical adventures of my own, I called the vet for the results.

Why was it so hard to determine? The vet’s best guess is that Ginger had been caught in a feral cat round-up, neutered, and set free. The ear notch is most likely a mark declaring “Don’t round me up again, you’ve had me once!”

Ginger isn’t completely gentled yet, but feral is no longer an appropirate description.

Please welcome, finally. . .Thomas Jefferson Pando!

Monday, March 31, 2008

Gentling Ginger VII First Cat

The first cat is getting a bit fed up with all this Ginger gentling and has asked, firmly asked that I speak on her behalf.

Dolley Mae Madison Pando declares that she was here first and that makes her definitely First Cat. Besides her indecisive owners can't even decide if Ginger is Thomas or Thelma. People!

[Editor's note: Dolley M. is mostly right. She was first cat in the house, but Ginger was hunkering under the azaleas when she arrived. (See Gentling Ginger I.) That was before the editor had a change of heart.]

Dolley M. continues that not only has she been working hard as First Cat, she keeps the editor's head warm at night by stretching out across her hair. She has also spent long hours serving as Bob's muse as he finishes his disseratation. (See entries for March 3, 2006 and February 26, 2008.) She adds that he is defending this afternoon, and while she is unable to attend she'll be sending good thoughts and hope you will as well.

Meanwhile, she finds this entire Ginger thing rather boring.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

White Iris

Spring is beautiful all over. I can't leave my house here in Bainbridge without slinging a camera over my shoulder. It's not just my garden (call it a jungle!) that's over the top. It's the whole town. I'll share some of this glory in the next few days.

One of my favorite stops is my neighbor around a corner and down the street. I exclaimed so much that's she's told me to prowl around and take all the pictures I want. That's great, 'cause she's one of the town's premier gardeners.

On my last foray, I captured some of her breath taking white iris. It made me thing of my mother and grandmother's gardens. How they treasured the iris. They bloomed later--deep into April or early May. The wait made them all the more welcome.

When I returned home and checked a few of my favorite blogs--no surprise! I'm not the only one who loves white iris. Share some Texas hill country beauties from Susan Albert's Lifescapes. If you haven't been there, plan to spend a little time (or more). She take you on a tour of her home, and then let you join her own blogtour. She's at

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Gentling Ginger VI Thomas or Thelma?

Oh dear. Here we've been married almost 50 years and have three children. You'd think one of us could figure out if a cat is a boy or a girl, but. . .Our initial diagnosis (guess) about Ginger is back in question. He/she's coming in the house now--Dolley M. puts up with it--and allows petting, but no, absolutely no, picking up or cuddling which make the exam difficult. And so next week it'll be off to the vet for the verdict. Whatever the outcome, we'll do the socially responsible thing.

Meanwhile, is it Thomas Jefferson or Thelma Ryan? Here she/he enjoys a little time in the house.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Busy days, blazing spring

The Georgia State Flower, the Cherokee Rose, flourishes on the ancient fence in front of our house. There's a lovely legend about the rose--I'll tell it soon. Maybe too, I'll tell the story of a neighbor who took it upon himself to take down our almost eighty-year-old fence. I taught him what "it's my fence" means!

I've been busy. We've been busy. Bob's almost through! Let me catch up. Following an involuntary retirement, Bob decided to fulfill one of his forever dreams and go to graduate school. (Fatherhood at 20 had precluded it almost 50 years ago.) Once he got started, he couldn't stop. After he got an MA at Florida State, the history department asked him to stay. See the March 3, 2006 entry for some background (how can it have been 2 years?). He turned in his dissertation last Monday. Now he's doing all the finishing touches before he defends next Monday. I've been helper doing all the things that are legitimate for the nonauthor to do. (My rule of thumb--if he could have paid someone to do it, then I will.) I've proofread 'til my eyes swim, checked footnotes and taught myself to do tables on the computer, while he's done the heavy thinking, writing, and editing. Neither one of us has thought or talked about much else.

With all my good intentions, the blog has suffered.

So here I am in my third March blogging, and I can't help myself. It's too beautiful. So one more time share a blazing Bainbridge spring! Dogwoods float around the cypress (our Christmas tree about 20 years ago). Azaleas planted in 1933 thrive on the side of the house. It's a good time to be here!

Maybe more on Ginger tomorrow. There's a serious question. She may not be Thelma.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Gentling Ginger V It's a girl!

Bob's been in much closer communication with Ginger, and we can now say with confidence--Miss Ginger. Maybe considering her beat-up appearance we should say Ms. Ginger.

Now a new dilemma--an official name? For reasons, or nonreasons, I'll go into later, we use presidential and first lady names for our pets. We've had Eleanor and Frankie D. (Also Miss Lucy Mercer--but, again, a story for another day). The current ruling feline is Dolley Madison Pando--sometimes known as Dolley Mae. A fella cat was going to be easy--Thomas Jefferson, but a chick cat?

We have two choices--going for the nickname, we can dub her Elizabeth Virginia Truman, or going for the red-headed angle, there's Thelma Catherine Ryan Nixon. (She named herself Patricia when she started college.) I'm leaning toward Thelma Ryan (Ginger) Pando. She quiet, a bit aloof, and from the looks of her left ear, able to endure adversity. Seems like a natural. Besides, do you think that there's ever been a cat named after our 34th first lady?

Here's Thelma. I'll try to get a close-up of that right ear.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Gentling Ginger IV More Contact!

We did it! Rather Bob did it. While I was out roaming Texas, hanging out with friends, generally having a good time, he was back here in Georgia bringing out food three or four times a day and crooning, "Here, Gingie, Gingie, Gingi."

I'm not the only one to be wowed by his sweet words. Ginger is now definitely his cat. I don't speak kitty very well, but I can translate the plaintive meow I hear when I try to be the bearer of good food. "Where's my fellow? He's the one who feeds me."

Ginger has (except for some of our recent rainy days) abandoned under the house and taken up permanent residence on the kitchen porch. Bob made a bed from the rug that used to live in front of the sink.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Moon over Bainbridge

Thank goodness my daughter called. All day I'd thought about the lunar elipse, and then I forgot.

Sometimes I love living in a little, tiny town almost in the country, and then, other times, I ache for city lights and more to do in the evening than be a political junkie on MSNBC or a zombie watching Law and Order reruns for the fourth time. Last night, the dark skies of the Georgia countryside won hands down.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Notes from the Road

Home again. I’m still relishing the heady excitement of Stories from the Heart and wonderful visits later in Austin and Houston—a great balance to my usual quiet small town living; although Bainbridge is beginning to share its early spring glories. (We all run around warning each other that we’re likely to have another frost.) More about this on Valentine’s Day.
Meanwhile, I’ll share a few more conference and Austin memories. At the conference, we gathered for panel discussions and writing practice sessions. Nancy Aronie’s presentation was inspiring—someday I’m going to one of her workshop. We ended the Conference on a true high note. At the closing luncheon, Austin singer/performer sang and chanted, and then, she had everyone in the room on their feet singing and chanting joyfully. What a sendoff!

Fellow board member Joyce, and I stayed over for the Monday night board meeting. What to do? Books! Of course, as if we hadn’t had enough of the written word. Sunday afternoon we headed to the legendary Austin book store, Book People and loaded up. Monday afternoon, tired and with time on our hands, we took our books and notebooks and headed for Jo’s Coffee, a hangout on South Congress. The view from the table included the legendary Austin Motel and in the distance the State Capitol.

We enjoyed books, each other, new friends and some balmy Austin weather.

Friday, February 01, 2008

In Austin with Stories from the Heart

I've left Bob to tend to Ginger--the votes are coming in for her in the her/him mystery--the adopted tree and all the Bainbridge doings, while I'm in Austin at the Story Circle Network's Stories from the Heart Conference. I wouldn't miss it. Women from all over, this year 17 states and Canada, gather to tell and listen to our life stories.

It's been a wonderful, and busy, day. First everyone pitched in with the set-up. All must be ready and bright and shining when registration opened at noon.

Next, Story Circle founder and President Emerita Susan Wittag Albert led an all-too-short pre-conference workshop on writing about place, "Mapping Our Stories." We did lots more than write. We all had crayons and traced our lives out on a map, and then drew maps of our personal community. The air was alive, you could about hear the popping of insights.

The evening closed with an energy-filled presentation (speech doesn't do it justice) by Nancy Aronie, author of Writing from the Heart: Tapping the Power of Your Inner Voice. Here she is with Story Circle Executive Director Peggy Moody. Nancy is on the right.

This hotel if full of fingers itching for tomorrow to come so we can grab our pens and write, write, write.

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Gentling Ginger III Contact!


We did it. Ginger was pussyfooting in the door, out the door, couldn’t make up his/her mind. I got down and enticed—to no avail, but then Buddy Bob gave her a chance. It only lasted about 5 seconds—long enough for a picture. But we’ve made contact. This kitty is about to trust us.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Adopt a tree

Several years ago, I journeyed up to the botanical gardens in Atlanta to take a class on drawing trees. It was a wonderful experience. I didn’t produce a masterpiece, but I had a wonderful day outside. Plus, I learned lots about looking. There are many ways to see a tree.

The instructor suggested we adopt a tree for a year. She didn’t mean we should dig up a tree and take it home. No, she suggested we pick a tree in our own yard or somewhere that we were regularly and study it. Draw it. Look at it from all directions and different times of day for the year.

Know the tree.

I propose to do that only with photographs instead of drawing. I’ve picked my tree. I didn’t choose one of our towering pines—more about them another time, nor did I choose a fine live oak. I’ve picked a little tree near the curb in my front yard. A persimmon tree.

When we first moved in, I had no idea what the somewhat scrawny tree was. The first year we were here it produced exactly one persimmon, and a bird ate it. Now twenty years later we had a hugely abundant harvest. We gave fruit away, we mailed fruit across the country to friends. We munched on persimmons for breakfast and dinner. What bounty. Now that we have had some frost the fruit is gone. What we did not pick to eat or share, the birds made sure did not go to waste. This afternoon the tree was bare save for one lonely, last piece of fruit.

Gentling Ginger II

Ginger is coming along. She’s let Bob touch her. It was brief, but it was a touch. We’re encouraged. We enticed her into the back door with the lure of breakfast and warm after a cold night, but mostly she/he (we still haven’t solved that mystery) keeps her distance watching us from the edge of the porch or from under the Jeep.

She explored around the sunroom for a little while and then encountered the resident cat, Dolley. A spat ensued, but Ginger retreated outside and Dolley recovered nicely on her favorite resting place, the sheepskin.

I’d worried about Ginger on the cold nights, and then I discovered that her pal Bob had moved some bricks. She’s been warm and cozy under the house.

I’m leaving tomorrow for about ten days in Texas. I expect by the time I return that Ginger and Bob will be best buddies.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Gentling Ginger I

For a year, maybe more, this orange (I call it ginger) cat has been hanging around our house. It (we haven’t settled the he/she issue) strolled the front porch, peaked in the kitchen window, hid under the Jeep (scary) and meowed pitifully from under the azaleas.

We agreed on one thing. No more cats. Resident cat Dolly felt strongly about this.

“Shoo! Scat! You go on home where you belong.” Each time we saw it, we ran him/her off. It came back. We ran it off. It came back.

Around Thanksgiving, I don’t know, maybe it was the holiday spirit, I began to mellow. I sneaked a little dry cat food out under the azaleas. I didn’t tell Bob or Dolley. The next morning it was gone. Then I sneaked a little more. Bob caught me.

I didn’t stop. Bob gave up, next thing you know he’s joined the campaign.

“Here, Ginger, Ginger, Ginger. Want a little snack?” Once you name an animal there’s no going back.
Ginger will come up on the porch to eat, even meow to call for his/her breakfast if we aren't early enough. But there's no touching. She/he's had a hard life, it's clear from the chewed-on ear and the darting eyes. I suspect that human treatment hasn't been much better than what's come from other cats and few dogs. Now we're determined, we will gentle Ginger and bring a new member to our family. (It's hard to avoid those pronouns.)

Here’s Dolley regarding Ginger through the kitchen window. She’s not on the welcome committee--yet!

I'll keep you posted on the gentling of Ginger.

Blooming Bainbridge

It’s warmer today and Sunday, a perfect day for an after-lunch-and-too-many-political shows walk. Here at the end of January after a week unseasonably cold weather, guess what?
Bainbridge is in bloom! Here are some examples. Trees like this first one must blossom all over America. They flourish in front of houses with high school scholars inside. (That’s a Bainbridge Bearcat sign in the background.) Here are the toilet paper flowers on a “wrapped” tree after a couple of days of rain.
It looks lots like this natural beauty. A nearby Japanese magnolia(on the right) has bravely put out its natural and much more beautiful blossoms. I don’t know how they survived the 27 degrees we had the other night. I’m mighty glad they did! Made me smile to see these trees looking so much alike from a distance and so different close up. Like a lot of things in life
This nearby fruit tree (I think it’s a cherry) adds color to the January day.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Cold winter day

Count me wrong. That sabbatical stretched way out beyond the trip to Texas, right on through the summer, the fall, the holidays, and now, here I am back again.
Midwinter in South Georgia. Usually we’re bragging about blooming camellias like these, mild days, walks in the park.

Not this year, we are cold, and today we’re wet. You’ll hear no complaints around here. After the driest year in ages, we welcome every drop—warm, cold. We’d love it if it were white.
Not much chance. In twenty-one years, we’ve seen snow about four times. Came close the other morning, though. With the thoughtlessness that accompanies a frost-free life, we forgot to turn off our sprinkler system the night last week that the temperature fell to 27 degrees. Brrrrr. We woke to white stuff. Although it wasn’t the ‘real thing,’ it was fun.
Now today is cold, tonight is forecast to be colder. (We’ll be sure to turn off the water.) It’s a good day to stay in and read, or revisit a long neglected blog.
I’ll willing to bet I’ll be back. I’ve got a great incentive. Next week is the fourth Stories from the Heart conference sponsored by Story Circle Network in Austin. I’m on the panel that’s discussing blogging—and I haven’t since May. Oh! Oh Dear! I’m going to make up for lost time this week. Then, I hope, I’ll be back in the habit. I have a project in mind that will get me on once a week. More about that tomorrow.
Meanwhile, learn more about the conference by visiting

Welcome back to South Georgia.