July 2007

31 Jul 2007 01:35 am


Last night I settled in to read the last bit of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. I sat in a quiet room away from the telephone, television, radio and people. The cats were allowed, however, being very literary creatures. First my cat, Sabby settled in on my lap and then Captain climbed on the arm of the chair. As the story became more intense, Cappy also climbed on my lap.

I wasn’t reading the book out loud but I think the cats could sense my inner turmoil as I turned the pages. When I was finished reading I closed the book and sat a while longer with my loyal kitties, pondering the events contained in the 759 pages.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows is, without a doubt, J.K. Rowling’s best.

The novel takes off on the events directly following the previous book in the series, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (2005), and through many twists and turns leads to the final battle between Harry Potter and Lord Voldemort. The Wizard world divides in two: those who follow Voldemort and those who support Harry.

Nineteen Years Later, the Epilogue was an extraordinarily satisfying resolution to this powerful story of personal courage and perseverance. How often do children read a book that tells a story of courage in the face of certain death? The courage to walk alone, stand up against powerful opposition and face death.

Something about the epilogue brought comfort and finality to the Era of Harry Potter. Readers know without a doubt that the life for which Harry yearned was attained. Unlike many in our present world of unconscious Muggle-like humanity Harry understood the cost he had to pay in order to be able to appreciate the joys of having a family.

I’ve had close calls in traffic at different times in my life (on the German autobahn) that left me pinching myself later on to be sure I had indeed survived and then would get chills up my spine all over again. Reading this final novel provided plenty of chills.

And yet the reality of our understanding of the world is trumped by a fictional story about a boy wizard who recognizes evil and doesn’t let anything stop him in his vow to defeat it. The moderate little milktoasts at the Ministry of Magic made war on Harry in order to keep him quiet about the return of Voldemort. That’s before many of them join Voldemort’s side. Subtly, Rowling confirms the old aphorism, If you stand for nothing, you’ll fall for anything.

I first learned about Platform 9¾ on a train. My daughters had read the first book in the series, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone and were so enthusiastic about it that I decided to read it. We were on a train from Paris to Heidelberg and for some reason had our own car. We all stretched out around the train compartment and I was seated comfortably across two seats reading about Harry’s first experience taking Hogwarts Express. I became completely captivated.

The Hogwarts Express was a selling element of the story to me. (being fond of trains and travel) So I became a Harry Potter reader as well, anticipating each new novel as excitedly as any young person.

I hope J.K. Rowling continues to write. She’s written a fantastic series and I’ve no doubt that she’s got many more stories in her.

23 Jul 2007 03:14 pm


Art by Laura Lee Donoho

The wonderful British Isles which beget my favorite writers, Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, Thomas Hardy, Jane Austen, and Charles Dickens continues to amaze in the person of J.K. Rowling. I am only a fourth of the way through Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows and am savoring every word. The plotline is brisk, emotional and breath-taking. The foreshadowing intense and devastating.

I’m going back to read some more and will resurface sometime soon.

23 Jul 2007 02:19 pm

There will be a benefit concert held for Pfc. Adam Watkins of Fayetteville, Arkansas Saturday Aug. 4th, 3 to 9 PM at the Rodeo Community Center Bldg. (Parsons Rodeo Grounds off Emma Street in Springdale)

PFC. Adam Watkins, 21, was seriously injured May 21 when the Army Stryker vehicle he was driving ran over an IED (improvised explosive device ).

Adam received second- and third-degree burns to his arms, back, head and buttocks as well as some second-degree burns to his face. He also sustained a compound fracture of both tibia bones in his lower leg and broken bones in one foot.

Please consider helping in any way you can for this fine young American. Valerie of Val’s Bien has much more.

21 Jul 2007 11:07 am

Last night close to midnight I went to the local bookstore to get the latest Harry Potter book. My daughter, son-in-law, sister, two nieces and nephew were also out to experience the Harry Potter excitement. It was huge in our city. Lines of people wrapped all over the store and outside into the parking lot. Children and adults were in on the action. I saw kids dressed as characters such as Luna Lovegood. I saw quite a few of my former art students at the party too. It’s really quite thrilling that so many children and their parents are like the dockworkers in the eighteen hundreds who awaited the next installment of Charles Dickens.

I had been staying away from the internet all week because I didn’t want the experience spoiled by leakers such as the New York Times. At the bookstore they were giving away Harry Potter posters as well as other things. A sticker they were giving away said, Snape is loyal. But now that I am on page ten of the book I am wondering, loyal to whom?

I will be laying about today, reading J.K. Rowling’s seventh in the series, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows. I won’t read it in a rush because I want to take in every word.

18 Jul 2007 02:32 pm


My brother returned home this weekend for his two weeks R&R. There was a big crowd at our local airport waiting to welcome other soldiers in my brother’s unit who were coming home for their R&R. You can bet these guys won’t be having a hard time at home these next two weeks. They left behind daily average temps of 119 degrees.

Their families know and experience the sacrifice they are making and appreciate what they are doing for our country.

Welcome Home Brother!

15 Jul 2007 08:36 pm


The words on this truck says, “I’m a married man. Lies. All lies.”

My niece and her husband saw this truck parked downtown this weekend.

15 Jul 2007 03:28 am


Old family photos in black and white representing the generations past. We look at them with curious eyes, trying to find recognition, a likeness or a kindred spirit. We take for granted our heritage of blood, family, and way of life.

Many of us are “blue-gray Americans”, confederate yankees, somewhat at war within our own heritage. Some ancestors fought for the North, others for the South. For those who search for ancestors who were living in the South before the Civil War there is less chance of a sure answer in records because many courthouses were burned in what my great grandmother called the War of Northern Aggression.

When I was a little girl I had the privilege of knowing three of my great grandmothers. My paternal great grandmother, Kathryn Ford Mackey had the whitest of hair and a kind and gentle nature. Everyone in the family held her in reverence and were always happy to be in her presence. When “Grandma Kate” developed breast cancer my mother volunteered to take her to her “cobalt treatments” which is what the treatment was called back then. I went along with my mother and great grandmother almost on every occasion she was treated. Along the way, being a curious child, I peppered Grandma Kate with many questions. I wanted to know what it was like to grow up in the late 1890s and early 1900s. I wondered about the kinds of games she played as a child. I was curious about her family, her mother and father.

Grandma Kate answered every question I had but the most striking memory I have of my conversations with her was her stories of her father’s service in the Civil War. She told me that her father and his brother, being from Tennessee broke with their own father, uncle and other brothers, choosing to fight for the South. Her father, Thomas Weir Ford joined the Confederate Army in Livingston, Overton County (just north of Putnam County) Tennessee in 1861.

She told me that her father moved to Arkansas after the war was over. He fought in many battles, including Shiloh and Chickamauga and two of his brothers in the Union Army fought on opposing sides in some of the battles. Grandma Kate didn’t believe her father ever communicated again with his Yankee brothers after the war.

One time, Grandma Kate told me, when Thomas Weir Ford was on furlough from the war because of a wound to his leg, his sisters had to hide him in a cave from the Union Army. Grandma told a fearsome story, captivating me as we sat in the old fifty five Pontiac, of his sister’s attempt to keep his leg bandaged after they escaped to the cave. His wound was opened and he began to bleed and they had to tear off part of their own clothing to wrap his leg tight to stop the bleeding. After the danger was over they discovered the old homeplace had been burned. It was hard for me to imagine having to hide in fear from an enemy.

Grandma Kate told me that her father went to all the Confederate reunions after the war dressed in whatever was left of his confederate uniform. When he died in 1919 the James H. Berry Chapter of the Daughters of the Confederacy, honored him with a floral offering and marked his grave with a confederate marker and flag.

She told me that when his grandkids asked him about the Battle of Shiloh he would always answer, ” We Fit the Yankees and fit em and fit em.”

My great grandmother was a strong willed woman who refused to take her children out of Arkansas when her husband wanted to go to the Northwest territories with his brother. She was a friend of Louise McPhetridge Thaden, an aviation pioneer and watched Louise’s children for her on some of her flights.

I lost my great grandmother when I was 21. She lived to be eighty six years old. What a lot of history she experienced in her life.

A life lived in freedom.

Recently I linked to a report by Michael Yon that told of an entire village that Al-Qaeda had ravaged. The graphic photos of the dead bodies were horrifying but the most haunting image was the photo at the top of the report of a family that was found in one of the homes.

This evil organization destroys members of their own religion and is actively seeking to destroy Western Civilization. Will one day our own family photos be found on the street after an attack? Michael Chertoff, a sober man has a gut feeling that an attack may be coming but his comment is met with derision and laughter.

The Congress is quickly becoming a lost cause in the war on terror. Great Britain has banned Winston Churchill from the history books. History is facts about events and people of the past. To remove the one man from the history books who did so much to preserve Western Civilization is evidence that Islamic terrorists as well as their politically correct allies are winning in the U.K.

Will our children’s children be left with a nation worth living in? Will they still have a remnant of understanding of a country where women could pursue their dreams of aviation, men from humble positions could rise to positions of eminence and children could grow up to love their neighbors instead of plotting to kill them?

13 Jul 2007 02:03 pm

Dean Barnett alerted me to a new column by Peggy Noonan, a columnist I used to enjoy reading for her literary abilities and keen insight. Now, unfortunately, Noonan is morfing into either a cranky old woman or more likely, a Maureen Dowd wannabe. Come to think of it, I’ve never seen the two of them in the same room before. Perhaps the old dames are merely ships that pass in the night.

This statement really takes the cake.

“His good humor seems to me disorienting, and strange… Americans have always been somewhat romantic about the meaning of our country, and the beacon it can be for the world, and what the Founders did. But they like the president to be the cool-eyed realist, the tough customer who understands harsh realities.

“With Mr. Bush it is the people who are forced to be cool-eyed and realistic. He’s the one who goes off on the toots. This is extremely irritating, and also unnatural. Actually it’s weird.”

Odd that an accomplished writer like Peggy Noonan doesn’t seem to possess the literary resources that would give her more insight into the psychological heart of a great man.

One of my favorite quotes by Ralph Waldo Emerson is, Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm.

What does Noonan want President Bush to do? He is the leader of our country. Leaders don’t grovel at the feet of an antagonistic media. They don’t make admissions of failure which would give our enemies heart. Successful leaders are careful to focus on the positive aspects of any mission so as to give those who are working to complete the mission the needed support. We don’t need a President Woody Allen in these treacherous times.

We already have enough of them in Congress.

07 Jul 2007 10:33 pm


We went out to the country to see my cousins, Jeanne and Junior. They moved out to the country about fifteen years ago and have a great garden.


I love Jeanne’s Four O’clocks. They bloom every afternoon like clockwork.


Junior and Jeanne’s abundant garden has tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, potatoes, okra, yellow squash, acorn squash, green beans, asparagus, cabbage, lettuce, cucumbers, onions, and more. They also grow blackberries, strawberries and have peach and apple trees.


Jeanne and Junior’s cats and dogs have the run of the place.

We had a supper of tomatoes, cucumbers, homemade guacamole, chicken enchiladas (the best I’ve ever tasted) beef enchiladas, and spanish rice. For dessert: delicious strawberry shortcake.

Afterwards we played a friendly game of Pinochle. We spent so much time laughing we didn’t pay a whole lot of attention to the game and yet the crafty guys managed to win. I went outside on the deck to listen to the sounds of the night in the deep country. No street lights were around for miles, Jeanne and Junior live on a dirt road off another country road with lots of acreage.

The sounds of nature were even more striking than the bright sky. The night was a little humid but still peaceful and restful to the soul.


The coolest pantry I’ve ever seen.

Jeanne and Junior have a beautiful tortoise shell cat who’s taken it upon herself to guard the driveway. When we first arrived she wouldn’t move out of the way so we parked out of her way. When we left, there she was again, right in the middle of the drive, so my husband drove out in the grass to avoid her.

07 Jul 2007 01:42 pm


Cappy in the window.


Sabby’s in a wistful mood.

Captain’s not feeling well lately. We’ve been working with our vet to try to overcome his intestinal problems. We are on solution number two. The steroids should start working in a few days. If not, the next step will be surgery. Captain is fifteen years old (at least) so we know he is getting more delicate. He still has a great appetite and tackles Sabby when he is being annoying.

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