Thursday, December 16, 2010

We hold these truths...

During the early pre-TV years of our marriage, Sheila and I enjoyed daily our little stereo and merged-collection-of-LPs in that little log cabin on Lake Creek in Chubbtown Community. One album we listened to regularly was Portrait by the Fifth Dimention. So whenever I taught about the Declaration I'd pack that record to school and play this song for my students as they followed the words in our text. Now I have it on iTunes and my students follow these magnificent, poetic words of Thomas Jefferson projected on the "Smartboard".

Saturday, December 11, 2010

True Treasure

Thinking of Christmas shopping brought this bit of light verse to mind. I wrote it 15 years or so ago, at Christmas, for my daughters and wife:
Exchanging Gifts

What gifts will you bring your Papa?
Pure gold, however they're made
Wrapped in sunshine smiles;
Tied with love that won't fade.

What gift will you bring your lover?
Its rich, whatever you've spent,
You've paid thrice in sweat and tears
and my promises, broken or bent.

What gifts can I bring my daughters?
What present is worthy my wife?
Tawdry trinkets diamonds would seem
On these precious true-treasures of life.

Corny but sincere sentiments, still, from this ol' fool, as he prepares for a Lillian-less Yuletide.

(Some other poetry of mine can be accessed via the Wayback Machine.)

Friday, December 03, 2010

Just Singing A Song Won’t Change The World

Greetings from Ohio. I posted this on DaytonOS today. I'm contemplating making a big organizing effort here in Kettering for the next 5 or 6 months and see what happens. I keep thinking I will make it to Rome. Carmon is 100 this February and so I know I will be down your way then.

I love this clip of Neil Young talking with David Letterman. Neil jokes that he is working on a new song, “Just Singing A Song Won’t Change The World.” He banters with Paul Schafer and finally says, “You can keep trying, though.”

    It’s a good question: what can change the world? Americans, generally speaking, believe the answer is democracy.

    I keep writing posts saying in different ways that “Democracy is the Answer.” Name a problem -- more democracy is the answer.

  • Raising America’s standard of living -- more democracy is the answer.

  • Transforming our system of public education -- more democracy is the answer.

  • World peace -- more democracy is the answer.

No, just singing a song about democracy is not the answer, but it might be a good start.
In response to a recent post, Stan Hirtle replied and said the “Waiting for Superman” movie delivers this message: “America’s standard of living arguably depends on having a higher skilled, higher educated work force than in the past, and therefore we can be less tolerant of the education results of the past.”

The movie doesn’t suggest that for our failing economy more democracy is the answer, it says a more highly trained work force is the answer. Diane Ravitz calls the movie “propaganda.”

The idea that the focus of our system of public education should be to maintain and improve the American standard of living is an idea so often expressed, we don’t recognize it as propaganda.
Here are two recent statements by President Obama:

  • “Make no mistake: Our future is on the line. The nation that out-educates us today is going to out-compete us tomorrow. To continue to cede our leadership in education is to cede our position in the world.“

  • “When countries that out-educate us today, they will out-compete us tomorrow. Giving our kids the best education possible is an economic imperative. That’s why, from the start of my administration, we’ve been fighting to offer every child in this country a world-class education”

Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan, says: “Nothing — nothing is more important in the long-run to American prosperity than boosting the skills and attainment of the nation's students.”

But, if American test scores were at the top of the chart, and our students were outscoring students of other nations in science and math, our current unemployment figures would be substantially unchanged.

Alfie Kohn notes:
“ For nations, there’s little correlation between average test scores and economic vigor. The late Gerald Bracey, for example, found 38 countries whose economies had been rated on the Current Competitiveness Index calculated by the World Economic Forum and whose students’ test scores had also been assessed. There was virtually no correlation between countries’ scores on the two lists. ... Consider Japan’s outstanding test scores in the 1980s and its dismal economic performance in the 1990s.”

Low test scores didn’t cause our current economic crisis, and high test scores will not solve our economic problems. Blaming public education for our poor economy is effective propaganda -- a way for the ruling oligarchy to manage public opinion -- but, raising test scores will not improve the economy. It is illogical that, if our system of public education could succeed in dramatically accomplishing Duncan’s goal of “boosting the skills and attainment of the nation's students,” sufficient good jobs would somehow materialize.

Citizens in the old Soviet Union demonstrated greater academic accomplishment than citizens in the United States. But academic accomplishment in the old Soviet Union did not translate into prosperity.

The Soviet Union had a system problem, and, it is the system that matters most -- not the individuals in the system. It was impossible that the Soviet system could produce wide-spread prosperity, because it was never the purpose of the system. The point of Soviet Union system was not to produce prosperity, but to give more power and privilege to those already privileged.

America also has a system problem. Our central problem is not that school children can’t understand the quadratic formula or can’t comprehend photosynthesis. The problem is our system of democracy is failing. In practical terms, we have an oligarchic system, not a democratic system. To solve our economic malaise we need to vitalize our system of democracy. More democracy is the answer.

The idea that More Democracy Is the Answer is a fundamental idea with great power. But where are the documentary movies that make that case? Where are the talk radio programs that are working day and night to stir people up so they begin to express passion for this fundamental idea?

The need to vitalize our democracy seems so obvious to me that I keep predicting that eventually it will be obvious to many others as well. My prediction, that I keep returning to, is, The Ascending Issue In Our Democracy Is Democracy Itself

Maybe it is just wishful thinking, but, I believe the grassroots is awakening. Stable, prosperous communities such as Kettering, where I live, whose public education is deemed “Excellent,” have the greatest capacity for creating an authentic democratic grassroots movement. Such a movement will be a nonpartisan effort to build community. The core of this movement, initially, I believe, will be the conviction that local control of public education must be returned to local communities.

A grassroots' movement requires that people begin to act on their convictions. Note to self: Changing the world means getting off one’s duff and actually doing something. Neil's right -- just singing a song won’t change the world, even if the song is about democracy

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Which Presidents Increased our National Debt?

The National Debt
by Percentage of Decrease or Increase

Here's an interesting table taken from Wikipedia. It uses CBO figures. The pink cells are Republican presidential terms. You will see that ALL percentage increases in the national debt came in Republican administrations.

I am no economist. Far from it. But I cannot help but believe that there is significance to the fact that the combined increase in the national debt compared to the gross national product of last five Republican administrations has been more than 60% compared to a decrease under the last five Democratic administrations of a combined total of 30%

Like President Roosevelt in the 1940s, President Obama is having to again increase the debt to get us out of a mess. But for Republicans to holler about it would be humorous if it weren't such a serious topic.

Trickle-down does not work.

Reagan tried it and doubled the debt.

Bush Jr tried it and nearly destroyed our economy.

Now we have the Republican leaders declaring they will fight to lower the national debt WHILE cutting more taxes, raising defense spending, rescinding the debt-reducing health care reforms, etc., etc., etc.

Didn't work for Reagan 1, Reagan 2, Bush 1, Bush 2 or Bush 3. Won't work now.

Reagan and Bush I administrations raised the debt from 33% of GDP to 66% of GDP. Bush Jr took the debt from 56% of GDP to 83% of GDP.

Democrats? Every Democratic administration since 1945 has reduced the percentage of debt compared to gross domestic product (GDP). When Bill Clinton took office the debt was 66% of GDP. When he left office the debt had been trimmed to 56% of GDP.

Economically, Republican administrations have been great for rich folks and the current GOP leaders are standing tall - stout hearts - to protect the interests of those mistreated folks who "earn" a quarter of a million a year or more.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

I Endorse Mike Burton for State Senate

Mike Burton is my close friend and the Education Candidate for the Georgia Senate, District 52. Mike says that when he and his brother and cousins would get into arguments as youngsters, his grandmother "Mama Brown" would say, "Boys, lets have a little 'sweet reason" here." And she would help them find a way to compromise and get along. Mike wants to bring some sweet reason to the Georgia Senate. It could sure use it!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Mike Burton for State Senate

I am proud to support my lifelong friend, Mike Burton, for State Senate, District 52. If you live in Floyd County, western Gordon County, or northern Bartow County, please look beyond the big money, slick ads, and negative attacks of the other side and vote for Mike and "Sweet Reason"

Mike will not represent a party, a special interest, or a rigid platform -- he will represent the people of our district. He is open, intelligent, and reasonable.

Mike is the Democratic nominee. Our district is 65% Republican. In order for Mike to win he must receive the votes of a lot of Republicans. I ask my many wonderful Republican friends to please give him a fair hearing. You will not agree with him on every issue, but I believe most of you will find more to agree with him on than you will his opponent if you give him a fair hearing. Thanks!

Saturday, October 16, 2010

The New York "Mosque" Controversy II

 I do not understand why it would "disrespect" other loyal Americans for these loyal Americans, just as much victims of Al Qaeda as you or me, to build their center in lower Manhattan where our mutual enemies attacked us. Certainly Muslims in lower Manhattan are as likely as you or me, actually more so I imagine, to know workers at the World Trade Center who were killed in the attacks of 2001. Moderate Muslims are specifically targeted by Al Qaeda.

The Golden Rule is a great way to look at this. When I put myself in the place of an American Muslim I feel the incredible pain of seeing my own countrymen accepting Bin Laden's world view of a war between Americans and Islam instead of a battle against extremists who kill moderate Muslims daily. Putting myself in the place of my Muslim students, parents, and friends -- some of whom had very close relatives murdered by different terrorist, Saddam, BTW -- I would be terribly hurt and insulted and even angry.

Our allies among the Kurds, Shites, and Sunnis in Iraq and Afghanistan must wonder if we can be trusted if we treat even Muslim Americans as if they are "disrespectful" just for using a building in lower Manhattan. Our soldiers include loyal American Muslims and are fighting alongside Muslims in Afghanistan and Iraq. What message are the folks so vehemently opposing the "Mosque" sending the moderates?

I say again: Bin Laden must be chuckling at his unwitting allies. I believe that the vociferous opponents of this building are helping Bin Laden estrange Muslims from America. They are helping him create extremists. If they can't support it, they should be silent, in my opinion, because, even if they were right that it would be best not built, it is counterproductive, divisive, and helps Bin Laden achieve his goals to continue to alienate our allies among the Muslims. If we agree they have the right to build it, then how does insulting them help our cause?

The better response to the announcement of the building, however, would have been: "Good for these folks! This demonstrates that America will not fall into Bin Laden's trap. We actually believe in the words of our founding documents. See OBL, you creepy medieval rabid dog, reasonable Muslims are not on your side. They believe in America and want to help lower Manhattan recover from your evil."

Friday, October 15, 2010

The New York "Mosque" Controversy

Osama Bin Laden must be sitting in a cave somewhere chuckling about his unwitting allies.

The attacks of 2001 were attacks by extremists against the United States, a nation of all religions and none. In those attacks Methodists, Catholics, Mormons, Jews, atheists, Muslims, Sikhs, and more died. For the 200 years plus before that, other Americans, of all faiths and none, have died fighting for our Bill of Rights which proclaims freedom of religion.

Any American has the right to build a house of worship on land he owns if he pleases.

When I think of the sweet Muslim American kids I have taught over the years and the many fine Muslim American parents and teachers I have known, I am not bothered at all for them to build a mosque near the site where extremists of their faith tried to terrorize them and us into forsaking our freedom to worship as they and we please.

I stubbornly refuse to succumb to terrorism.

An extremist Christian terrorist set off a bomb in Centennial Park about 24 hours after I was there. I will not allow my rights as an American to be altered one iota by his terrorism. Nor will I quit visiting New York because of Bin Laden's terrorism. Nor will I change my belief in religious freedom, as Bin Laden would have me do, because of his despicable acts. I believe terrorism deserves a quick and brutal response. I  will cheerfully stand in line, shoeless, to have my belongings x-rayed before each flight. I will pay whatever taxes need to be paid so that practical safeguards can be maintained and so that terrorists can be hunted. But to alter my core values because of terrorism would be to surrender to it, period.

I will not do it.

I want Bin Laden and his ilk to see America going on about its business, refusing to be terrorized, -- ready to take safeguards, ready to punish terrorists without mercy, but otherwise -- bravely, determinedly, resolutely unaffected by terrorism.

The Case for the President

The link above (click on the picture) is to a pretty good rundown of the accomplishments of the last two years. They are impressive. Our President inherited a terrible situation on January 20, 2009. The economy was hemorrhaging jobs. According to almost every economist there was real danger of us slipping into depression. At the time virtually everyone admitted that it would be a long slog out of the recession. Well, it has been. But things turned in the right direction almost immediately under the pragmatic, calm, open-minded leadership of our President. We still have a terrible jobless rate, but we have gone from losing hundreds of thousands of jobs to gaining thousands of jobs each month. That's not enough, and would be better without the stonewalling of the GOP, but it is a huge improvement.

Yes we have terrible deficits. We have them because of the excesses of many, but a big part is the mess created by folks who want to conduct two wars and cut taxes at the same time. Letting the ridiculous tax breaks for the wealthy expire as originally planned will help the situation. The wealthy paid much higher taxes than they do now during the boom years of the fifties! (& even the roaring nineties under Clinton.)

Now is the time for level-headed folk to come forward and head off the silliness of the Sharron Angles, Christine O'Donnells, and Rand Pauls, (and Nathan Deals, and Barry Loudermilks here in Georgia) who want to blame this ongoing crisis on the very folks who are digging us, slowly but surely, out of it. The Teabaggers like Angle, et al, would remove any safety nets left for common folk, like Social Security and minimum wage.

Vote for reason. Vote for reality. Vote for hope. Vote Democratic!

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Sunday at the National Storytelling Convention

Sometimes the emcee is as entertaining as the tellers. That's how we were introduced to Kevin Kling a year ago. If Barbara McBride Smith or Ed Stivender or Gayle Ross is the emcee you look forward to their brief moments on stage.

Gay Ducey was emcee for the Sacred Telling session in the College Street Tent on Sunday morning. What a hoot! She performed the usual anti-cellphone duty to the tune of "What a Friend We Have in Jesus":

We know how much you love your cellphone,
You take it with you everywhere,
But if it rings while we are telling,
You'll be standing in the need of prayer!

Then in her best and most solemn voice she recited the rest of the usual "Thou Shalt Nots" of audience etiquette.

My Facebook friend, Suzi Whaples, was our first Sunday teller. She told a touching tale of a street person in Charleston, WV, who hung around the office building where Suzi used to work. Mary Jones was expressionless and definitely less than articulate, but Suzi made the effort of greeting her every morning and afternoon nonetheless. When the woman was suddenly killed in an accident, Suzi learned that her daily greetings were more important than she realized. "Be careful how you treat strangers," Suzi reminded us, "you might be entertaining angels, unaware."

Corinne Stavish was next. Of Jewish heritage Corinne is known for her bible stories told from the perspective of women from the Old Testament (Sarah on Friday). But this morning she spoke of her mother's creative uses of the common exclamation, "Oy veh!"
"I understood," she said, "that compassion passed directly from God to my mother." Though she also admitted that her mother "... had anger management issues of her own." Embedded in this story of her mother was a tale she borrowed from a writer named Kohn (sp), "The Princess Who Never Cried".

When Gay took the stage to introduce Bill Miller, she had to interrupt herself to turn and cough. She immediately turned back to the audience with an unwavering gaze to announce, "Don't worry -- just a hair ball."

Bill Birdsong Miller is a Mohican who grew up on a Wisconsin reservation. He sang two of his songs: "Listen to Me" and "Dark River"

Next came the inimitable, unlimitable, Kevin Kling. He told a short Ukrainian folktale called "The Mitten". Then told of some of his own childhood experiences in church. During one seemingly endless church service he noticed the long list of names under a stained-class window next to his pew and whispered to his mother to ask who those men were. "Those are the men who died in service," she replied. Kevin wondered, "The first service or the second?!!"

Abbi Patrix is this year's international teller. He's a Frenchman. He is an amazingly animated, joyful teller, whose stories give the impression of being created before you. They are more than passing strange. Unique. They include bits of chanted or sung French phrases. One was a dream/vision from the night before, or maybe moments before, about an ascension into the sky and his deposit outside the tent just before the telling. He reminds me of the lesson I try to teach my children before a performance: If you have fun on the stage, you audience will have fun too. Abbi always seem to be having great fun!

As Gay introduced the wonderful Carmen Agra Deedy, one of my very favorites (and a friend of our family friends the Jorge Gonzales family), she despensed with the usual admonitions and just just said: "Make your Mama proud."

Carmen told of her first visit to the public library in Decatur. Tersi, her older sister --- and another wonderful teller and my Facebook buddy --- took her there to be rid of her for an hour or so. (I'm sure there's another side to this Tersi!) This is the story in which Carmen describes Tersi as a "pink flamingo" in her ballet costume. She also beautifully paints the WPA murals in that library on our mental canvasses and sculpts for us a very Southern, very tough, and very loving, librarian.

Parenthetical aside: Some of my favorite folks have been librarians... Gloria & Priscilla, WC Owen, Matilda, Ms. Burge, Avis & Martha, Sadie, Libby, my buddies on the Bookmobile, even old FB friend Tony, and those whose names I can't retrieve, at the library in Griffin where we walked with my Mama in the fifties, and in the cannery-building library at Ellijay. I read all the Hardy Boy books and so was reduced to checking out Nancy Drew "for my sister".

Librarian Mary Mac explained to little Carmen that "you don't like books because it hasn't found you yet." So of course Charlotte's Web leapt off a shelf in no time, almost onto her toe, and found her, and Carmen was hooked.

I had to note this wonderful detail: "Librarians are all about precision - three-ninety-eight [quick index-finger jab accompanied by a sound-effect "pttt"] point-two"

Bil Lepp was next and chose to tell the familiar "My fourth-grade teacher was Wonder Woman". Fun all over again.
Bill Birdsong Miller was back with a few more songs: "Blessing Wind" "Blowing in the Wind" [We were invited to join in], a Jim Pepper song, and "Wild Horses".

Jay Ocallahan presented a tribute to the late Brother Blue. "Brother Blue flew above his ego."

The joyous Abbi Patrix was back to talk about the Creator and his imagination. He often accompanies his stories with a hand-held Kalimba. The Creator "... looks at man and thinks, 'I can do better!'" We must "... tune ourselves with the world."

We got our second taste of Charlotte Blake Alston -- I wish we had heard more from her -- who told a tale I have heard on Sunday morning, maybe from Jim or David, about the little girl teased about the futility of trying to toss all the stranded starfish on the beach back into the safety of the sea, "... to this one it will matter".

Bil Lepp came back on and talked of his experiences with other languages and as an exchange student in Germany. I laughed so hard I forgot to take notes.

Rafe Martin told folktales. I enjoyed them without jotting any notes.

Then here came Suzi Whaples again.
We are ready for the tears to flow as our hearts are rended as usual. She elicits tears alright!! The most tearful laughter of the festival!! She begins by discussing how language has changed since her childhood and teen years. She has learned that peddle-pushers are now capris, for example. She told of the incredulous looks she got from her granddaughters when, concerned that her granddaughters have appropriate footwear for the beach, she asked them if they were taking their thongs. With great timing she drew out this misunderstanding for several minutes ending with: "Well, if y'all feel that strongly about it, I'll leave my thongs at home, but you'll never talk your Granddad out of wearing his!"

Corinne Stavish told of her father's reaction to a neighbors petition to keep "those people" out of the neighborhood. She ended by quoting her father: "Honey, never be afraid to do the right thing. The time to be afraid is when you don't."

By this time I think Gayle Ross is the emcee. Her introduction of Andy Offut Irwin was simple: "Take cover -- incoming!!!"
Aunt Marguerite is back of course, this time with a campaign to change the Newton County High School "Lady Rams" (????) to the "Embraceable Ewes". Braswell plays cymbal in the band and uses them for an impractical joke that he thinks goes unnoticed, but he's convinced otherwise when Margueite remarks, "Braswell, that's a wonderful use of symbols."

The festival ends for those of us at the College Street tent with the grand old man of storytelling, Donald Davis. Donald talks of visiting Hugh Massey's Toggery with his mother. Her only admonition before they entered was two words: "Be Have!" Of course he didn't. After all "I was only six. I didn't have a memory yet. Didn't need one."

And it's over. We rush to the "Resource Tent" - It's only open for thirty more minutes! - and drop a hundred dollars (it's only money) for an assortment of storytelling CDs to listen to on the way home. Sheila has finally succombed to my cold and is miserable so we head back to the hotel where she collapses into bed and I go out for soup-to-go from Panera. After a long night of sleep, we have a brunch at IHOP across the street -- no diet today -- and Sheila sleeps more as I drive listening to Andy Irwin and Kathryn Windham and Kevin Kling thorugh the beautiful Tennessee countryside.

Alright, Facebook friends! I want to organize a real, big name with local talent interspersed, Northwest Georgia Storytelling Festival! I can see those beautiful white tents blooming in the pastures at Berry College, or down in Booger Hollow at the Burton Farm. Tie it to Chiaha? Or Waterfest? Maybe get the Georgia Writers group involved.

We've got Tersi & Carmen & John & Andy right there in the Atlanta area. Kennesaw has a storytelling professor! We've got Jane & Barbara & Bob (and Terrell, of course) here in Rome. Shoot, Ms. Windham and Donald Davis aren't all that far away.

Sunday, October 03, 2010

Saturday at the National Storytelling Convention

Our second wonderful day with a schedule of stories from 10 a.m. till midnight including two hours each to Donald Davis and John McCutcheon!

Donald Davis described the family reunion as a "semester of eating." And when someone said what he shouldn't: "...he looked like like he'd just stepped in a hole and realized there wasn't a bottom in it," and "... I had a bite ... right there. [points to neck and pauses] ... Wouldn't go either way. [now the patented Davis neck jut and stare]"

John McCutcheon joyfully sang and sang, and had us join him often, with this encouragement: "Music has a wonderful inclusionary clause -- harmony. You have several chances to get that right, and if you don't... it's jazz."
During his "college year abroad" in Eastern Kentucky, John learned that, in the South, "...even vegetables aren't vegetarian." He finished by singing one of my very favorite American hymns, accompanying himself on his newest instrument, the the Tibetan Singing Bowl -- "How Can I Keep from Singing?"

His second set was a request time. I put in two, neither of which was chosen ("Old People in Love" and "The Wind that Shakes the Barley") but I was very happy with the hour he gave us. He sang "Cut the Cake" for someone's birthday, and spoke of his campaign to replace the dirge-like "National Birthday Anthem" with this lively alternative (Afterwards I had the chance to tell him that I am doing my part in that effort!)
And when he was interupted by the train, -- as tellers often are, especially in the Courthouse Tent where we spent the day -- he just added a train verse to the song without missing a beat.

The story of Kathryn Windham's coffin was like hearing it the first time all over again. We were reminded of the epitaph she wants: "She was twice blessed. Say she was happy. Say she knew it."
Then she turned to a long discussion of her current full-time career: "I take care of a crotchedy old woman." There followed a detailed and hilarious depiction of the challenges of living into one's nineties ... with many references to "she", the unwelcome "house guest". And another train brought the suggestion that "they could use some WD40 on those wheels!"
Our only hour with Kathryn Windham was a wonderful blessing, and we knew it.

We chose the evening concert in the Courthouse Tent, "One Clown Short of a Circus" with Bil Lepp, Kevin Kling, and Andy Offut Irwin. We got back from supper only 45 minutes early so there were no seats left except for one single seat on the very back row. So we claimed that and sat behind it on the asphalt to eat our soup and sandwiches from Atlanta Bread. We struck up a conversation with the fellow beside us who was holding three seats. He said that it was possible one of his companions would decide not to come. That how it turned out so Sheila and I both got seats after all -- one on each side of this nice couple. They live in Jonesborough and are interested in renting out their basement next year dring the festival. We traded e-mail addresses! Wouldn't it be nice to stay right there in Jonesborough!

Crazy Bil Lepp told the tale of his visit to a rodeo last year, and his participation in a Wild Cow Milking Contest. I noted his mention of "...the kind of vegan who won't even say 'Glad to meet you'..." His adventure included "...800 pounds of aggravated radical feminist bovine" and his punchline was: "Hell hath no fury like TWO women scorned!"

Frenetic Kevin Kling kept me so limp with laughter that I only managed one brief note and I don't remember the context exactly: "...brothers from other mothers and sisters of from other misters."

If you have not heard Andy Offut Irwin's Aunt Marguerite from Covington Georgia, you have missed a treat. He. has. her. down. I have Newton County roots myself. I have met that woman! She gives two examples of "The very defininition of a fool...": "some one who'd pay a dollar for a bottle of wahrter..." or "... buy a bale of pine straw in Jahrja." One of her neighbors would not go to the optician who recommended progressive lenses "... Ah'm a R'publican!"

The Midnight Cabaret was one of our favorites: Bill Harley ... and friends. Great music (What a keyboard artist is Bill's friend whose name I forget! I swear he rivals James Willis.) and some storytelling in between.
"The most radical thing in America is a longterm memory!"
He called Willy Chaflin and Barbara McBride Smith and a couple of others to the stage to help him with a hilarious "radio play". "That's like beating a dead horse of a different color!"
He talked of his father's laissez faire parenting style: "My Dad figured I was stupid enough to learn from my own mistakes." He sang his song "Daddy Played the Phonograph" and explained, "It's not enough to know how to play, you have to know how to listen too."

And he mused: "You can't see the story when you are in it."

As Bill finished up the evening he reminded us of Edgar Mitchell's awe-inspiring glimpse of the whole earth and famous exclamation: "Now I know why I have come so far."

Saturday, October 02, 2010

Friday at the National Storytelling Convention

What a great time we are having! Yesterday we spent many happy hours hearing stories and songs. We have heard several of my old favorites and several of my new favorites!

Kevin Kling's evil old woman walked "... grass dying around her feet...". Another of his characters "... didn't know coincidence: to a fool there's no such thing."

When John McCutcheon missed a word of a song he interjected: "When your memory goes ... forget it!"

My new facebook friend, Suzi Whaples, described one of her characters as "... madder'n a 'possum turned upright!" She is a-m-a-z-i-n-g!

Andy Offutt Irwin, another Georgia boy, explained that in the South folks think an "underwire bra" is redundant!

Corinne Stavish told the story of Sarah from the old lady's point-of-view. Imagine! (I remember, the first Sunday after Brannon Ruth Shaw was born, that James Sanders used the story of Abraham and Sarah in his children's sermon, then had me distribute my Baby Ruth candy bars. Hmmmm.)

Bill Lepp patiently gave the history of the invention of the Tiki Torch. Later he suggested that deerhunters would be more successful if they took a hint from car manufacturers. Cars are made ever more bullet-like, why not make bullets car-shaped. Why, wouldn't deer just jump right out in front of those things?

Michael Parent's semi-fictional cousin Artie, given the choice of having his pizza cut six or eight ways, chose six. He just wasn't sure he could eat as many as eight.

Carmen Deedy's father to Carmen's mom: "May God bless the tree that gave the wood that made the bed where you were conceived."

Frenchman Abbi Patrix: "Truth and falsehood live in the same house..." [points to noggin] "...and use the same door." [points to mouth].

Minton Sparks described Vicki Pickle's mother as "... smokin' herself into a bass..."

We started at 10 a.m. and finished up a few minutes after midnight, tired but happy.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Mary Whaley: A favorite picture

My great-grandmother Shaw was Minnie Zipora Wood, a twin of Maudie Lenora Wood, and the daughter of Nathan Robert Wood and Mary E. Whaley Wood. I have other pictures of Nathan and Mary but this week my second cousin Annette Winningham has forwarded me two wonderful photos of Nathan and Mary I'd like to share with my family and friends. Click on each picture if you'd like to see it in a higher resolution.

The first is one of my favorite family pictures. I suspect this was taken in Porterdale, Georgia.
If any one knows for sure, please let me know.
My great-great-grandmother and her cow:

Mary E. Whaley Wood and her cow.

Mary's husband, Nathan, had enrolled in the First Georgia Cavalry, if I remember correctly, at the age of 16, during the War Between the States. Here he is much later, again probably in Porterdale GA:

Nathan Robert Wood

If you are a descendant of Nathan's son-in-law, Columbus Turner Shaw, I hope you will consider a donation toward the cleaning and renovation of the little Shaw Family Cemetery near Lithonia, Ga. It is in terrible condition. Call or e-mail me and I will put you in touch with our two cousins who have taken charge of the clean-up.

This posted way too fast. I'll correct any errors when I find them.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Charles Shaw: In the Creek

Bo Tush Creek, maybe? The Yellow River?

Here's my Daddy as a kid in the creek.
The resemblance to me and my brother is amazing.

Charles Columbus Shaw
about 1925?
Click on the photo to see the best resolution available.

From the photos of his cousin Loraine.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Mother's Dahlia

Mother has been bragging about her dahlia for several days, and told us at church this morning that we'd best hurry to Rollingwood Drive to see it. My sister Joan did and this picture is the result.
My friend Mike Bock brought us a few dahlia roots two years ago or so and the resulting blooms were so wondrous that I have invested in two containers of dahlia roots since. Unfortunately this project has coincided with the residence in our neighborhood here on the river of a voracious family of woodchucks.

Those derned groundhogs have a hankering for nothing so much as fresh dahlia plants. They've kept our crop nibbled down to nubs.

Mother planted the few roots I gave her in a pot and despite the hungry herds of whitetails in Garden Lakes, she got this gorgeous bloom. Ain't it pretty? Thanks for the photo, Joan!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Louisa' s Little Cemetery

My daddy's daddy was Daddy Shaw - Grady Columbus Shaw - barber, salesman, and storyteller extraordinaire. I lived for the week I spent in the summer at Daddy Shaw's house -- and especially the barber shop! I loved to crank myself up and down in his spare barber's chair while his clippers buzzed and his words painted my brain with images my eyes had never seen. What fun to slide some Tom's peanuts from their little cellophane packet into an ice cold Co'cola. Or earn a dime shining a pair of shoes for someone waiting his turn under Daddy Shaw's clippers. All the while listening to laughing, teasing, storytelling.

His daddy was Grandpa Shaw - Columbus Turner Shaw, Lum for short. My first memory of him is from his funeral where there was a bewildering amount of crying.

(l-r) Minnie, Lewis, Curtis, Lum (Grandpa), and Grady (Daddy Shaw)

I knew nothing of Grandpa's daddy till after he and Daddy Shaw were both gone. Now there's a story. Grandpa Shaw's daddy was not a Shaw! He was a Treadwell, John Treadwell. And he and Grandpa's Mama, Louisa, had never married even though they had a bunch of children together.

John Treadwell

Today I spent some time with several other descendants of that illegal union. My second cousin and genealogy friend Annette Winningham and three other cousins I'd never met before: Gwen Shaw and Clyde Shaw - descendants of Louisa's eldest son, John; and George Long, grandson of Louisa's daughter, Mary Ann Shaw Long.

(l-r) Terrell, Gwen, George, Annette, Clyde

We visited the little family cemetery near Lithonia and found it completely overgrown. You would never know it was there without being very close and having good light.

The cemetery is completely obscured from the road by trees and undergrowth.

We are hiring a tree surgeon to clear the young pines and other undergrowth and weeds. He has assured Gwen that he will be gentle and careful.

There is a chain link fence along one side.

Marci gets a close look at the gravestone of Mary Amanda Shaw Dobbs.*

Those of us descended from the folks buried there should help with the $1200 it will cost, if we can. Sheila and I made a small pledge. If any of my siblings or other Shaw kin would like to help, give me a call and I'll put you in touch with Annette and Gwen.

Louisa's gravestone:
Louisa Shaw
Born Aug. 31, 1842
Died Feb 26, 1932
She was a kind and affectionate wife, a fond mother, and a friend to all.

I've wondered a lot about Louisa. She was revered by her children. Treadwell bought her several houses and a couple hundred acres or so for the use of his second family. He also bought her first shoes and later gave her a slave (Lou Stroud) according to my grandmother. He provided for her in his will. She was so young when this older married man took up with her. If it weren't for their misbehavior I wouldn't be! This poem grew out of my wonderings:

All Things Work Together: Questions for a Kept Girl
For Louisa Frances Shaw, 1842-1932

Louisa, little girl.
Tell your secret.
Was he kind at first?
Did he give you dolls?
Did your dolls know too?
When did you tell your pa?

Louisa, mother girl.
Where is your secret now?
In how many cities do we breathe and wonder?
Did he take you in your sleep?
Carry you from the well? Or the wood?
Where was your Daddy?

Louisa, grandmother girl.
Your secret spreads north and west.
Why did you stay?
Why put him on the mantel?
Should we love him too?
Did your mother cry?

Louisa, great grandmother girl.
I am your secret now.
I know your pain.
I cry for the lost father.
I cannot save you.
I would not.

Louisa, great great grandmother girl.
Your secret is mine and a hundred more.
Without your pain we never were.
These tiny hands would not clasp mine.
I would be no one's Papa,
no one's me.

© 1997 Terrell Shaw

* 9-13-10 I have corrected the name for this grave. I knew better than the name I gave previously, but still put the wrong one. Whoops! This should be a reminder to ALWAYS take genealogical info with a grain of salt and verify, verify, verify. I have seen mistakes on tombstones and lots on census records. Thanks, Annette, for straightening me out!
(Also corrected some typos.)

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

On being called "Politically Correct"

Those who rant against the building of the Islamic equivalent of a YMCA in lower Manhattan have enjoyed accusing those of us on the other side of "political correctness". In fact, of course, if one side can be fairly accused of being motivated by "political correctness" it would be the ranters. They have repeatedly used sensibility to the feelings of some (not all by a long shot) 2001 terror survivors as their main argument in discouraging free expression among actual residents of lower Manhattan -- who were also terrorized in 2001.

My objection to the use of the term "politically correct" is that, rather than dealing with the core issue of whether or not Muslims in lower Manhattan have every right to speak and worship and assemble as they please*, opponents attack civil libertarians' motives by accusing us of only worrying about ruffling the sensibilities of the Muslims. Hogwash! That is an ad hominem response , in my book. I have Muslim friends. I love and admire them. But I think the beliefs of their religion, as I understand them, are wrong and definitely not the loving faith of the New Testament as I read it. That's why I choose to be a Methodist instead -- though I disagree with some other self-styled Christians about as vehemently. I have no problem telling anyone that.

I believe those who are ranting about the erroneously-labeled "Ground Zero Mosque", have every right* to do so, but are tragically mistaken in doing so. In practical terms their actions are totally counter-productive. I believe their actions are also analogous to calling for Japanese-American internment in WWII, calling for segregation of African-Americans, calling for posting of "No Irish Need Apply" signs, calling for Native-American removal, etc. I believe, eventually, they or their progeny will be embarrassed by their actions and statements. Newt Gingrich, for example, has permanently soiled his own biography with his extremism on this issue.

I hope I would, if it came to it, be willing to die for the ranters' and the Muslims' right as Americans to be royally wrong and believe, preach, worship, assemble*, to their heart's content for their wrongheaded beliefs.

* under the law, of course -- please don't anyone give me another lecture on extraneous issues like zoning.

Editing Note: spelling corrected in title, 8/25/08.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Freedom of Religion, period.

It literally pains me to see so many Americans falling into Bin Laden's trap. I say as gently as I can: however pure the motive, however admirable my friends who do so may be in other ways, that is exactly the fate of those who presume to tell other Americans where and when, within the law, they should worship or where they should build their houses of worship.

I believe that to the tips of my toes.

Those things are just plain noone’s business but the ones involved -- in the present case the Muslim community of lower Manhattan. The families of the Americans killed by terrorists are not involved in those decisions. Neither is the President (as he has said), Newt Gingrich, Sarah Palin, Harry Reid, some song-writer named Rita, or any of the assorted bloggers, professional blatherers on TV and radio, or me.

This is the United States of America. It is not Germany. It is not Israel. It is not Saudi Arabia. Not only do the Americans in question have an absolute right, within the law, to build their community center two blocks away from the site of the attacks that killed Muslims, Christians, Jews, Sihks, Atheists and other AMERICANS in 2001, we should, regardless of our theological beliefs, praise and encourage them in their efforts at bridge-building, as some of the survivors of 2001 are doing. Christian-Americans have NO special claim on the site of those attacks. Bin Laden wanted to kill Americans. He cared nothing about hyphenated prefixes or suffixes. The more variety the better as far as he is concerned. Muslim-Americans were every bit as much a target as any other Americans, and every bit as much victims of it.

The correct American manifesto to Al Qaeda should be:

In America we believe in freedom of religion, period.

And no sons-of-bitches* like low-down, scum-of-the-earth Bin Laden and his murderous box-cutter wielding Kool-aid drinkers can make us back down from that basic principle even if they send a thousand fully-fueled 747s aimed at a thousand American cities.

You egg-sucking-dogs can kill us, but you can not kill our unalienable American rights of free expression of any sublime, mundane, or idiotic idea that we hold dear.

We will take necessary practical precautions, of course. We will submit to shoeless inspections in airports. We will pay whatever taxes are needed to fight you.
But we WILL hunt you down and you WILL submit to American justice. We WILL strike at you without mercy if you resist.


We will NOT shy away from our big cities.
We will NOT alter our core principles.
We will NOT cower in fear.
We will NOT help you recruit extremists by striking at innocents.

We WILL remain steadfast in support of the principles of our Constitution and Bill of Rights come hell or high water.


* I detest overuse of coarse language but, in my opinion, it is entirely appropriate here.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Sunday Concert: Amazing Grace for Mother

My wonderful mother has been after me to record some of the hymns I often sing (usually at funerals). Actually my vocal coach, Angela Flannigan McRee and I have been busy recording some of those and other songs for quite a while. We have about a dozen finished so the world wide web will have to put up with more Terrell recordings for a while.

I only know how to upload music that is attached to video - hence the somewhat random old family pictures to accompany the song.

This arrangement is one of my favorites. I've been singing it for a couple of decades, thanks to Rachel Jones who introduced me to it. I am glad it includes the fourth verse - often skipped in congregational singing, much to my chagrin.

So here are four verses (plus the final verse added by later generations) of John Newton's hymn to the Amazing Grace that can reverse the course of even a wretched slave trader.

Monday, July 05, 2010

Independence Day 2010: Missing Friends

Our guests lined the top of the levee behind our house, with a few thousand other Rome citizens,
as the fireworks began a little after nine Sunday evening. I really like this picture.

Those Missing
Our Independence Day Celebration for 2010 started on a somber note as we remembered the three missing friends who have died in the last few weeks.

Charles Reichel attended the Fourth of July get-together several times with Sharon in recent years. Their daughter Carlyn is a dear friend of Brannon and one of our "extra daughters" from Brannon's school days. Their other children Carsten and Cara are former students of mine from my days in the gifted program. Cara and her husband Peter Mills, are the founders of Prospect Theater with whom I performed in a musical theater revue about ten years ago. Charles was the director of the National Creative Society, a Lutheran pastor, a loving husband and father, and a man of deep commitment to all those roles. Charles died of a sudden heart attack.

Here are a few of the early arrivals at last year's celebration. We grieve that we have lost three dear friends this year, each very suddenly: Cleve Burton (facing the camera in light blue shirt at the right) and Wint Barton (suspenders and cane), and Charles Reichel (not pictured)

I have written about Wint Barton several times. How he enriched our lives, the last few years especially. As our pastor pointed out at Wint's funeral, you don't expect the obituary of a 97 year-old to include the words "died unexpectedly". Wint's did. And it was very appropriate because he was such a vital, interesting, and interested nonagenarian. Wint began attending our Fourth of July parties about four years ago and was always the life of the party.

Then just a week ago Thursday, Cleve Burton, my good friend since 1962 (another, another, another) was struck by a massive heart attack in the middle of the night. His funeral came one week before the Fourth. I was unable to attend because of my involvement in a Rome Little theater show.

Cleve, a lawyer, was a person of remarkable integrity. He was scrupulously ethical in all his dealings. He loved the law. The Constitution and legal foundation of our country were precious to him. He would have made an excellent judge.

Cleve and I performed folk music together when we were in high school. We were MYF friends. At one MYF party at Cleve's house we got to watch a movie from his glassed in porch. They had sold West Rome Drive-in the property and had finagled the glassed-in porch and speaker as part of the deal. We went to Camp Glisson together. I bought my first guitar from Cleve.

Cleve and his father, Joe, taught me to play poker. Cleve's brother, Mike, became (and remains) one of my closest friends after Sheila and I moved back to Rome. Cleve's wonderful mother, Burnita, arranged so many singing engagements for me that I jokingly referred to her as "my manager."

Cleve and Terri have two children whose ages match those of our children. Keenan and Brannon were best buds in their preschool years. Daphne and Lillian were inseparable from toddlerhood through elementary years. We visited each other's houses for game nights, birthdays, chili, etc. Cleve and Terri make one of the world's great chilis. Sheila and I took squaredancing with the Burtons for several months in 1986.

Cleve and his family were almost always in attendance for our Celebration on the Levee from its inception in 1993. We grieve for him and will sorely miss him, especially at this time each year.

David had already removed most of the meat by the time I got a picture.
It sounds as if it would have been difficult to wedge in one more drumstick the smoker was so full!

About 150 old, new, and renewed friends joined us for the celebration and barbecue.
This is taken from the levee.

Fireworks over the world's greatest barbecue smoker.

You soon can read about and see more pictures of our
2010 Independence Day Celebration on my Facebook wall.

Here's a bit of John Adams for your Independence Week viewing:

Monday, June 14, 2010

Nature Walks: June 14

I took a walk under the powerlines next to the school today and was thrilled to see two native milkweeds to help out our monarch projects. There were probably 12-20 individuals of each of the two species. We have several cultivated milkweeds in our classroom gardens, but it's nice to have some natural colonies of them about. First is, I think, Curly Milkweed.

Curly Milkweed
Asclepias amplexicaulis

The flowers had faded - this was the best example left.

It seemed to grow as individual stalks topped by a flower.

This one had gone to seed -- well, one seed pod.
See how the leaves curl. Their bases clasp the stem so tightly that they seem to join with the opposite leaf.

When I removed a leaf the milky sap fairly gushed from the wound.

The other milkweed under the powerlines is Butterfly Weed. It is one of the milkweeds that doesn't bleed milk when you pull a leaf. If is also one of my favorite wildflowers. We have several of these plants in our gardens that we have purchased. W could have as easily dug them from under the lines.

Butterfly Weed
Asclepias tuberosa

There were several other things in bloom or fruit as well. Which composite is this?

The ripe blackberries disappeared soon after the photo was taken. They were delicious.
Southern Blackberry
Rubus argutus

There were several of these showy little flowers.
Sensitive Briar
Mimosa microphylla

I don't know if this is fully opened. Could it be a pea?

Another common composite.

I don't know this guy.

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Nature Walks: June 7

Yesterday I couldn't resist a walk along the school trail and then on back into Berry property to see what's blooming and to get a little exercise. I found several pretty blooms, some I know, some I don't. I'll label them the best I can, but always understand my labels are preliminary until they have Richard or Teresa's OK!

Black-eyed Susans everywhere. Rudbeckia hirta, I suppose. This one was enjoying a visit from an interesting wasp.

All along the old railroad bed were clumps of this showy flower. I think it may be Wild Bergamot, Monarda fistulosa. It is a very pretty flower that is new to me.

This one looks like a Scuttellaria of some sort?

Wild Petunia? Ruellia sp?

This is growing in our little stream. It's Lizard's Tail, Saururus cernuus.

Alright, Richard and Teresa, set me straight.

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

What Makes A Story "Newsworthy"?

I posted this article today on DaytonOS

I just had a chance to talk briefly with Lynn Hulsey, the reporter for the Dayton Daily News. On my way home from making copies of the resolution for the Montgomery County Democratic Party Reorganization Meeting, I stopped in at the DDN office in the old NCR building on Main Street, and asked at the desk if I might speak with Ms Hulsey.

I was pleased that within a few minutes Hulsey showed up and greeted me. I know I’ve met her before in a couple different settings -- very professional and very considerate.

Ms Hulsey let me know, gracefully, that she doubted that my resolution was newsworthy and that the DDN is not likely to print any story concerning the inner workings of the MCDP at their Reorganization Meeting. “Now, if it passes ...” she said. Of course, I told her, I didn’t expect the resolution to pass, but that, to me, it still would seem a good story for the DDN to cover.

Ms Hulsey told me that for political junkies the story would be interesting, but most people just wouldn’t be interested. But she thanked me for coming in, said she appreciated the information and asked to let her know the outcome. I told her that I very much appreciated her time.

I'm hoping that the DDN might change its outlook about what makes a story of value, worthy of investigation, worthy of investing time and effort into researching and writing. I would argue that the kind of stories that help explain our world are the stories that interest people. Everyone wants to have some insight into the answers to these questions: Why do we continually elect such weak leaders? Why does our political process fail to produce men of vision, imagination and conviction? Why is our democracy becoming a failure?

Just recently, the DDN printed an article about family members who work for other family members who are elected officials. I’d like to see Ms Hulsey, or some other industrious reporter, do some research about the local Democratic Party. A good place to start would be to research the individuals who show up this evening as voting delegates to the Reorganization Meeting: How many of these people hold patronage jobs assigned to them by elected Democrats? How many of these people, themselves, are elected officials?

Sunday, May 09, 2010

Not There Yet But On the Right Track

The turnaround that our President has led is nothing short of phenomenal. We are still hurting from the recession and will be for a while - I have several relatives and friends who are searching for jobs - but we are headed in the right direction and faster than anyone could have expected. And the turning point was the inauguration of a pragmatic, no nonsense, non-doctrinaire President.

Sorry to have been neglecting you, Ol' Blog. I'll try to do better.

In some ways this year is just as important as 2008. We face the usual reverse political tendency two years after a big win. The so-called "Tea Party" has huffed and puffed (with the usual right-wing blow-hards in the media lending their lung power) some enthusiasm in their ranks that must be countered. Actually every single "Tea Party" supporter that I know of was also a supporter of George W. Bush, so they are just the same old right-wing huffers and puffers. The angry always vote. We cannot be apathetic and expect to hold onto our gains of 2006 and 2008. Even with 59 votes in the Senate the President has had a tough slog to pass even watered down legislation against almost unanimous opposition from the Party of No. If we lose seats progress will be slowed further.

We need to get out the word. This President and the Democratic caucus in Congress have handled our troubled economy about as well as possible against a blatantly obstuctionist opposition. And the numbers are beginning to prove it.

Pass the word. We were right. America is coming back.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

An Unscheduled Feast

Your reporter eating a samosa.

OK. It was scheduled. And had been for weeks.

But I had planned to be disciplined, or at least moderate. In the end I rationalized that I had had no February Feast. I was, until last evening, one feast short on my 12 Feasts a Year schedule!

When Nancy joined our faculty last year I enjoyed talking with her about her heritage. She's from New Jersey and she is a Sikh. Her husband is from India. I wanted to know about her traditionally arranged marriage. The results of that practice seems to add credence to my oft-cited principles of love. Certainly the obvious love of this young couple does.

Jagdeep, Avi, Nancy.

Why are there so many Sikhs named Singh? Does she know anyone who practices that strange (to non-Sikhs) tradition of wearing a dagger, for heaven's sake? One of our students, a Sikh, wears a turban of sorts. I wanted to know about that custom.

But, being me, I was most interested in the food!

I had discovered Punjabi food in 1968-69. My Asbury College (now Asbury University) roommate, Solomon Lasoi, was a Kenyan. Through him I became acquainted with a Sikh couple from Kenya who were studying at the University of Kentucky in nearby Lexington. And they invited Solomon and me to dinner with them at their home.

Terrell, Solomon, and Mr. Singh, May 1969.

I am always delighted to discover new culinary delights and was not disappointed. The curried chicken and rice and attendant dishes were delicious. I wish I had been keeping a journal at that time so that I could remember the meal in more detail. Ever since then I have been interesed in having another Indian meal.

So I found occasional opportunities to suggest that Nancy should bring a Punjabi dish to the next faculty pot luck. She replied that instead she and Jagdeep planned to have Sheila and me as their guests for a real Indian meal at their house.

The occasion of the first birthday of their son, Avi, served as the occasion for a big celebration for a host of their friends, relatives, and co-workers, including us, last night.

What a feast!

My absolute favorite, but an item that may have included my usual alloted Weight Watcher points for an entire day, were the appetizers. They are called samosas. It is a large triangular deep-fried stuffed pastry. The crunchy crust is fairly bursting with a spicy concoction of potatoes and spices and onions and who-knows-what. Yum!

Soaking up this audacious sauce are chunks of chicken breast.

The main dish was Butter Chicken -- small chunks of chicken breast swimming in a spicy reddish-orange sauce, served over basmati rice. This dish seemed very similar to what I had eaten in Lexington FORTY years ago.

I think the chicken should have been served over the rice. Since I am dieting I went light on the rice.

Side dishes included spicy creamed spinach dotted with small cubes of cheese...

I really liked the creamed spinach. (My mother will be proud.)

and, yes, spicy chickpeas.

Chickpea dish.

A thin tasty yogurt sauce was available to top any or all of these dishes, perhaps to moderate the bite of the hot spices. Quartered flatbread, itself spinkled with spices, provided a way to sop the soupy residue of deliciousness when the fork had done all it could.


What a wonderful treat.

Avi enjoying his birthday cake. I couldn't resist posting this. How well I remember those days with my toddlers!