Sunday, April 24, 2011

George Louis Poudrier

My father, George Louis Poudrier, was born on April 24, 1926. He was raised in Quebec,Canada, Trois- Rivieres to be exact. I know so little of his family history or his childhood and I regret that every day. My dad died on March 11, 1997, taking his stories with him. As far as I know, all the people who could answer my questions about him are gone too.

He was a good man, in many ways a brilliant man, and underneath it all, a gentle person. He was also a suffering man who lost himself in a pharmaceutical maze that became his prison. That's part of who he was, but not the sole part. I only wish I had known him better, heard his story, written it down.

I lost my chance on March 11, 1997. If you have a mom or a dad who are still living, don't lose your chance. Their stories are far more precious than you can imagine.

Trois-Rivieres between 1900-1920
Ursuline Convent Trois-Rivieres
Two boys in Trois-Riviere around 1900-1920.

photos courtesy Mario Groleau

Easter 2011


Christ has died.

Christ is risen.

Christ will come again.  

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Ecce Homo: Good Friday


 John 19
       Then Pilate took Jesus and had him flogged.  The soldiers twisted together a crown of thorns and put it on his head. They clothed him in a purple robe  and went up to him again and again, saying, “Hail, king of the Jews!” And they slapped him in the face.

      Once more Pilate came out and said to the Jews gathered there, “Look, I am bringing him out to you to let you know that I find no basis for a charge against him.”  When Jesus came out wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe, Pilate said to them, “Here is the man!”

     As soon as the chief priests and their officials saw him, they shouted, “Crucify! Crucify!” But Pilate answered, “You take him and crucify him. As for me, I find no basis for a charge against him.” The Jewish leaders insisted, “We have a law, and according to that law he must die, because he claimed to be the Son of God.”

   When Pilate heard this, he was even more afraid,  and he went back inside the palace. “Where do you come from?” he asked Jesus, but Jesus gave him no answer.  “Do you refuse to speak to me?” Pilate said. “Don’t you realize I have power either to free you or to crucify you?”

    Jesus answered, “You would have no power over me if it were not given to you from above. Therefore the one who handed me over to you is guilty of a greater sin.”
    From then on, Pilate tried to set Jesus free, but the Jewish leaders kept shouting, “If you let this man go, you are no friend of Caesar. Anyone who claims to be a king opposes Caesar.”
  When Pilate heard this, he brought Jesus out and sat down on the judge’s seat at a place known as the Stone Pavement (which in Aramaic is Gabbatha). It was the day of Preparation of the Passover; it was about noon.
   “Here is your king,” Pilate said to the Jews.
  But they shouted, “Take him away! Take him away! Crucify him!”
   “Shall I crucify your king?” Pilate asked.
   “We have no king but Caesar,” the chief priests answered.
  Finally Pilate handed him over to them to be crucified.

    So the soldiers took charge of Jesus.  Carrying his own cross, he went out to the place of the Skull (which in Aramaic is called Golgotha).  There they crucified him, and with him two others—one on each side and Jesus in the middle.

    Pilate had a notice prepared and fastened to the cross. It read: JESUS OF NAZARETH, THE KING OF THE JEWS.  Many of the Jews read this sign, for the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city, and the sign was written in Aramaic, Latin and Greek.  The chief priests of the Jews protested to Pilate, “Do not write ‘The King of the Jews,’ but that this man claimed to be king of the Jews.” Pilate answered, “What I have written, I have written.”
     When the soldiers crucified Jesus, they took his clothes, dividing them into four shares, one for each of them, with the undergarment remaining. This garment was seamless, woven in one piece from top to bottom. “Let’s not tear it,” they said to one another. “Let’s decide by lot who will get it.” This happened that the scripture might be fulfilled that said,
   “They divided my clothes among them
   and cast lots for my garment.”
So this is what the soldiers did.

    Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother, his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene.  When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to her, “Woman, here is your son,”  and to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” From that time on, this disciple took her into his home.

    Later, knowing that everything had now been finished, and so that Scripture would be fulfilled, Jesus said, “I am thirsty.”  A jar of wine vinegar was there, so they soaked a sponge in it, put the sponge on a stalk of the hyssop plant, and lifted it to Jesus’ lips.  When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.

   Now it was the day of Preparation, and the next day was to be a special Sabbath. Because the Jewish leaders did not want the bodies left on the crosses during the Sabbath, they asked Pilate to have the legs broken and the bodies taken down.  The soldiers therefore came and broke the legs of the first man who had been crucified with Jesus, and then those of the other.  But when they came to Jesus and found that he was already dead, they did not break his legs.  Instead, one of the soldiers pierced Jesus’ side with a spear, bringing a sudden flow of blood and water.  The man who saw it has given testimony, and his testimony is true. He knows that he tells the truth, and he testifies so that you also may believe.  These things happened so that the scripture would be fulfilled: “Not one of his bones will be broken,” and, as another scripture says, “They will look on the one they have pierced."

   Later, Joseph of Arimathea asked Pilate for the body of Jesus. Now Joseph was a disciple of Jesus, but secretly because he feared the Jewish leaders. With Pilate’s permission, he came and took the body away.  He was accompanied by Nicodemus, the man who earlier had visited Jesus at night. Nicodemus brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about seventy-five pounds. Taking Jesus’ body, the two of them wrapped it, with the spices, in strips of linen. This was in accordance with Jewish burial customs.  At the place where Jesus was crucified, there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb, in which no one had ever been laid.  Because it was the Jewish day of Preparation and since the tomb was nearby, they laid Jesus there.

Friday, April 22, 2011

The Perils of Pokeweed


It started out innocently enough. I bought a package of mixed seeds designed to attract birds and butterflies and planted the seeds in an area around my shrubs. Little did I know that, among the desirable seeds, lurked an insidious invader. Pokeweed gained a toehold (roothold?) in my flowerbed.

Pokeweed prejudice is what I have, and I practice it without excuse. Pokeweed is, well, a weed-- a pushy, raggedy, gaudy weed at that. One tiny pokeweed seed quickly morphs into a monster tap root, thrusting branches willy-nilly in a bid to outgrow any plant in its neighborhood.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Annie Get Your Gun


 "Anything You Can Do, I Can Do Better"

Monday, April 18, 2011

I. Kant Because He Says So

After wading through pages of information and hacking my way through the dense jungle of philosophical mumbo-jumbo, I had an epiphany of sorts concerning Immanuel Kant's philosophical critiques.

You just Kant.

You Kant know reality.
You Kant know truth.
You Kant know whether or not there is a God.

However, you CAN use your faculties of reason to conform to the Categorical Imperative.

Someday you'll thank me for this. 

Friday, April 15, 2011

Grammar Grouch: Apostrophes

People. I try not to be too uptight about grammar things, I really do, but there are some grammar blunders that just drive me up the wall. Allow me to illustrate one of my pet peeves:

I saw three cat's; one was licking it's fur. The second one seem's to be asleep. The third cat had green eye's. My sister's like cat's, but my mother like's dog's. I dont' like snake's.

Apostrophe, poor apostrophe! You are misused and misunderstood. Does anyone remember what you do and where you belong?

You show possession.

Singular: the cat's whiskers
Plural:  the boys' teams  
In words that are already plural: women's,men's, children's  

You signal a contraction.

Do not = don't 
It is = it's  
Could not = couldn't 

 You do not belong in a plural noun:  cats, houses, apostrophes
You do not belong in the possessive for its   For example: The dog wagged its tail. 
And although you can indicate both singular possession or  plural possession  with a name (Jess' book, the Smiths' business, Mrs. Meekers' mouse )depending on how the name is spelled or used, you NEVER EVER belong in a name as part of the word. Never. Ever. Unless you are named Can't or Ain't...

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Immanuel Kant, or He Won't?

What could possibly top a research paper on black holes? Why a presentation on Immanuel Kant of course!
Because, as you all know, Kant's writings on the nature of reason, perception, and reality are easy reads that can be knocked off in just a couple of hours right before bed. Right? Right?

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Ever Have One of Those Days? Every Day?

You know how it goes.Your day is rolling along; you think you're doing a good job handling yourself. You think you are in control of your thoughts, your emotions, and your mouth. Then something happens--does it really  matter what that something is?--and you find yourself doing the very thing you swore you wouldn't do, or saying the thing you shouldn't say, or feeling stuff all out of proportion to what is going on. Happened to me today, at the end of the day. But it doesn't really matter where or when. It matters that it happened. And once again I have sinned, after telling myself I wouldn't do that thing again. Forgive me Lord. Thank you for your son, Jesus, who delivers me even in my weakness. And thank you for second chances. Your mercies are new every morning...

     " We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin.  I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.  And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good.  As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me.  For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out.  For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing.  Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it. So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me.  For in my inner being I delight in God’s law;  but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me.  What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death?  Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!"
Romans 7:14-25

Monday, April 11, 2011

They Make Me Smile...

Two things to share today. Both of them make me smile...

{The Magnolia House} 

Cooking with the kiddo,  who is also a fabulous photographer! She is also a mean dishwasher, and I mean that in both senses of the word~

I am a volunteer with an animal welfare organization. After seeing what people can do to animals, my feelings about my fellow man are often negative. But here is a young man who lifted my spirits. Thank you, Julie T., for sharing the link with me. And thank you, young man, for caring.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Conservative Chicken Littles

To everyone up in arms about a possible government shut down~

Stop it.

I am tired of the flip-flopping.

As a pro-life conservative,  I sent my representatives to Washington, D.C. with the mandate to fight for pro-life legislation and fiscal responsibility. I was not alone in that mandate. Since most pro-life conservative legislators are Republicans, we were directing them to stand their ground on those issues and not to back down in the face of opposition.

Now really, people, what did  you think that mandate entailed? Did you think the Republicans could just waltz into Congress, state their case, and be done with it? Did you think that the mostly Democratic opposition would just throw up their hands and cede the field to the Republicans? Come on!

It's politics, it's power, and it can get ugly. Wasn't that the point? Now that the Republicans have enough political clout to push the changes we asked for, they can't turn around and compromise their position.We asked them to stand firm and they did. They went toe to toe with the liberal Democrats and didn't blink when their opposition threatened  to force a government shut down rather than work with the budget propositions that the Republicans made. Fur and feathers flew, and we should have been cheering our side on.

But no. In the social media, in op-eds and commentaries, I witnessed 'staunch conservatives' turn into Chicken Littles, lamenting that the big government they railed against might indeed be shut down. Their sky was falling.  Did they not sense the irony?

Look, peeps. When the Democrats held the majority, they never even passed a federal budget. That's right. No approved federal budget. Can you run your household like that? Your business? Well that's how Congress was running your nation. I didn't hear a lot of hoohaw about that from my conservative friends and associates. No one running around complaining about the childishness of Congress, the end of the world, etc. But when the Republicans directly address this issue, and then fight for the things we sent them there to do, they get skewered for it by the very people who sent them there!

You know, I'm not sitting around hoping for a government shut down, and I realize that should a government shut down occur, there would be many unpleasant consequences. I certainly don't want to see essential personnel or military families suffer, nor do I relish the idea of having lives disrupted. BUT--I asked my representatives to fight, knowing full well that if they did it might not be a pretty sight. I asked them to not compromise on the issues, knowing that they faced ferocious opposition from the Democrats and the President. So I am really vexed that it's now being insinuated that they are acting like spoiled children because they won't just sit down and play nice with the Democrats in regards to the federal budget.


This isn't fantasy land and you can't have it both ways, so stop your whining. Stop stomping your feet and pouting and pointing fingers at everyone when it's not all blue skies and lollipops.

Just stop it.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Transcendentalism, or the History of the World

So today was the day we tackled Transcendentalism. Perhaps I should explain--my daughter's assignment was to read the first chapter of Thoreau's Walden, then write a paper that used Thoreau's essay to identify his Transcendental beliefs. Sweet, right? Think again.

My dutiful daughter waded through the reading assignment, complaining as she went that of course Thoreau's first chapter would have to his longest and most confusing. What on earth was he talking about, anyway?

Wrong thing to say to an English major. Wrong, wrong, wrong. Because I had to explain Transcendentalism, which of course had to be explored against the backdrop of the Age of Enlightenment, the American Revolution, the Industrial Revolution, the Victorian Age, urbanization, and the Romantic movement that was a reaction to all of the above. Plus we had to make a foray into the class system in England, the  differences between Americans and the English at the time of the Revolution, the evolution of communities from agricultural/pastoral, including subsistence farming, to the rise of skill specialization in trades, and how this changed the structure of families and communities, how both the benefits and the drawbacks of industrialization affected the outlook of the Romanticists and the Transcendentalists, and how the realities of the past can become idealized myths in relation to the realities of any given historical period (for example, Arthurian legends in England and the concept of the 'noble savage' in America) and yada yada yada yada yada....

and yada yada yada yada....

and, finally, mercifully, I realized that I had been yammering on for almost an hour, going through the entire history of civilization as it relates to literary subjects in order to explain one concept. Transcendentalism. Oh ye Fates and Fancies! My daughter was still alive--she was breathing-- but her eyes were glazed over.

I had an epiphany. Perhaps I should make a list of the major characteristics of Transcendentalism. Perhaps it should be short and to the point, in bullet form. Perhaps my daughter would actually get a chance to write her paper, using my bulleted list as a guideline.

She was very polite. She declared that NOW  she understood what Thoreau was trying to say in Walden. It had all come together. The day was done. The sun had set. Could we please stop the madness?

I agreed. I think she'll make a full recovery.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Jean Halsey Snelling Poudrier

My mother, Jean Halsey Snelling, was born in Mecklenburg County, Virginia on April 8, 1927. She grew up in the little town of Boydton, Virginia. Her father ran the Snelling Drugstore; the building  still stands. Today she would have been 84 years old. It doesn't seem possible that she has been gone for 13 years. I miss you Ibba.

Renovated vintage building in beautiful, downtown historic district.
Known as the old Snelling Drugstore, the building has
been renovated and is ready for occupancy. 
Used as a hair salon/barber shop and most recently
as an attorney’s office. 

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Chub in a Tub

This is Chub.

This is Chub in a tub.
Now Chub doesn't normally hang out in a large Tupperware bowl, even though the yellow really accents his nice orangey scales. Chub has his own crib, er tank, to swim around in, a nice model with an air stone, a filter, lots of tank decorations, and Chub's personal favorite: pebbles. Lots and lots of pebbles that cover the bottom of his tank and collect all the Chub detritus that builds up in there. 

Everyone knows that goldfish are the pigs of the aquarium world, which means their tanks must be regularly cleaned. Usually when Chub's environs are being sanitized, he just hangs out in the tank. Sometimes, when a more massive cleaning is underway, he must retire to his snazzy yellow Tupperware tub until the procedure is done. 

Today Chub's tank was scheduled for a regular clean up, so there was no need for him to vacate the joint. 
However, if it hadn't been for my daughter, Super Smart Girl,  he might have vacated the tank in a more metaphysical sense, shuffling off his mortal coil (scale?) 

Normally, we remove a couple gallons of water from the tank every time we clean it. This is done with tubing we run from the tank water to a bucket below the table the tank rests on. Collect the water, remove the tubing, water the plants with the dirty water. Add some new water and voila! Happy fish. However, mom, who has a mind like a steel trap--rusted shut--efficiently set up the water removal system for the fish tank, and then promptly forgot about it when she was distracted by another task. 

Eventually Super Smart Girl entered the bedroom where Chub resides. Good thing. The water bucket was brimming over with dirty tank liquid which was spilling across the bedroom floor. And Chub...well let's just say that Chub was almost like a 'fish out of water'. Because I had removed not one gallon, not two gallons, but  more like 5 or 6 gallons out of his tank! 

Chub was still swimming, but the remaining water barely covered his dorsal fin. (Did you know fish can look panicky?) Fortunately we had several gallons of water that we keep on hand just for the aquarium, so they all got dumped in. The water reached a safe level and Chub heaved a sigh of relief. Actually, he went back to nosing through his pebbles, but if a fish could have sighed, he would. 


Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Crooks and Crazies: Go There!

I have a sister who raises sheep, chickens, working border collies, and Cain, not necessarily in that order. She has friends who do some, or all, of the same. Now these sheep-border collie-(possibly chicken)-Cain people understand each other, mostly, so they know that one of the nicest things you can do for a fellow sheep-dog-barnyard animal person is to offer to farm sit when such a service is needed. Well, it just so happened that recently my sister needed someone to farm sit for her, and her dear friend Laura shouldered the responsibility. She also shouldered some chickens, but that's another story. In fact, it's THIS story:
Go. Read about frightening fowl and baaaaaaad sheep. And a doorknob. I cannot make this up.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Nothing Gold Can Stay


Nature's first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf's a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay. 

Robert Frost 

Monday, April 4, 2011

She Went to the Party; I Got the Gift

My daughter recently attended a birthday get together for a dear friend of hers. The birthday girl turned 15 years old and all the girls in attendance were in their mid-teens.  As part of the festivities, the girls were escorted to all their favorite places: Barnes and Noble, Ed McKay's, Claire's, and the Mellow Mushroom, to name a few. Along the way, they discovered a little market selling all kinds of handmade goods. After looking at what the sellers had to offer, my dear daughter pulled out her own hard-earned money and bought her mother two gifts. 

Now there are a few things you need to understand. The first is that mom's finances stay perpetually tight.
The second is that  over the last few months mom  accidentally broke not one, but two of her very special mugs--mugs that had lots of sentimental  and symbolic value. Third, mom has a medical condition that causes her hands to break out in itchy red rings when they are too dry or irritated. Cheapo hand lotions don't do a lot to alleviate the condition.

When my daughter came home, she had a brown bag with paper crumpled in it and a crazy grin on her face. The bag was for me. As I unwrapped what was in that bag, she told me all about the little market and the artisans there. Inside the paper were two gifts: a container of  home made shea butter lotion  and a lovely hand- thrown mug. 

But wait, there's more. The shea butter is for my hands and the mugs is meant to replace the ones I broke. Now my daughter doesn't like the idea of deep water or anything floating on it--I mean she REALLY doesn't like it. But I do. My original major in college was marine biology and I adore everything about the tall masted ships. Despite her distaste for the decorations on the mug, she knew I would like them, so she bought it for me. ( I can imagine her squeezing her eyes shut as she gingerly reached for the salmon-colored mug). 

Isn't she something? She went to the party, but I got the gifts. 

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Peaceful Porch

The house that we rent is set into a  small hillside, so the back side of our basement is exposed. That means we have a sort of downstairs porch, and then a upstairs porch attached to the back of the house and over the downstairs porch. The upper porch is not screened and we have a clothesline strung across it, but on pretty days it is heaven to go out there with a good book and a cool drink. You can sit in the sunshine that hits part of the porch, or catch a gentle breeze, and listen to the birds sing and the squirrels fuss. You can even curl up on an old sleeping bag and take a nap; just ask my daughter! The dogs might join you, with the little ones trying to find space on your blanket and the big one stretching out in a patch of sun. At the right time of day it is indeed a little slice of heaven.

Black Holes: Light Bending and Mind Bending

My daughter is homeschooled utilizing the Classical Conversations academic program. This year she is in Challenge I. As part of her curriculum she is required to complete a research paper, and she chose 'black holes' as her subject.

Do you have any idea what it's like to try and describe a phenomenon that may or may not exist (although astrophysicists seem pretty sure that  they're out there) and that has properties that incorporate some of the most difficult scientific theories in the field?

Let's just say I'm wishing she had picked something a bit, er, different. Like quantum mechanics, perhaps.

Friday, April 1, 2011

New Month, New Entry


I was blessed to grow up in a house full of music. Although neither my mother or father played an instrument, they loved to listen to music of all kinds. In our home, Harry Belafonte met Aida, Mitch Miller sang alongside Peter, Paul, and Mary, and the great Russian composers followed the Singing Nun. Instrumental, vocal, ethnic, operatic, folk,contemporary, or classical, it didn't matter.We heard it all, and I am thankful for that legacy.

As a parent I have tried to pass this rich musical heritage on to my children. They have grown up listening to all kinds of music, and each has had the opportunity to play an instrument. Their tastes are eclectic and I am glad.

Thank you mom and dad. And mom, you were right; I did grow up to love opera, just like the two of you.
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