Monday, May 31, 2010

American Girls And American Guys

Will always stand up and salute.
We'll always recognize, when we see ol' glory flying,
There's a lot of men dead,
So we can sleep in peace at night when we lay down our heads.

Today, the last Monday in May, is Memorial Day in the United States. Memorial Day is a day of remembrance for those who have died serving our country. A lot of people think of it as a day off work or an excuse to have a party. Some think of the bargains they may find at their favorite store. But there is a lot more to Memorial Day than all that.

History says on May 5, 1868, Memorial Day was officially declared by General John Logan, national commander of the Grand Army of the Republic. He set it to be observed May 30th when the graves of Union and Confederate soldiers were to be decorated at Arlington National Cemetery. It was originally called Decoration Day. It is a day of remembrance for those who have died serving America.

In 1966, President Johnson declared Waterloo, New York the birthplace of Memorial Day. He did this because New York was the first state to officially recognize the holiday in 1873. States in the South refused to acknowledge the holiday until after World War I because until that point the holiday honored only those who fought and died in the Civil War. It is believed the date was originally chosen because flowers would be in bloom all over the country.

Congress put into law that the holiday would be celebrated on the last Monday in May in 1971. Monday was chosen for many federal holidays. It also ensured a three-day weekend holiday.

According to the Veteran’s Administration, in December 2000, the U.S. Congress passed and the president signed into law “The National Moment of Remembrance Act,” P.L. 106-579, creating the White House Commission on the National Moment of Remembrance to ensure the sacrifices of America ’s fallen heroes are never forgotten. The commission’s charter is to “encourage the people of the United States to give something back to their country, which provides them so much freedom and opportunity” by encouraging and coordinating commemorations in the United States of Memorial Day and the National Moment of Remembrance.

The National Moment of Remembrance encourages all Americans to pause wherever they are at 3 p.m. local time on Memorial Day for a moment of silence to remember and honor those who have died in service to the nation. As Moment of Remembrance founder Carmella LaSpada states: “It’s a way we can all help put the memorial back in Memorial Day.”

When I was a little girl in Albuquerque I had a neighbor who was in high school. My friend and I would hide in the willow tree in my front yard and watch him come and go. We were both a bit infatuated. He was just the right age to be drafted for the Vietnam War. It wasn’t long after he graduated that he got called into duty. He died in a helicopter crash. He was only 20 years old.

One time I went to Washington DC for a work trip. My husband got to go with me. We made a trip to the Vietnam Wall. I looked up my neighbor’s name. It still made me sad that he had died so young. But it made me proud that he took the challenge and defended my right to be free.

Many people confuse Memorial Day and Veterans Day. Memorial Day is a day especially for honoring and remembering military personnel who gave their lives in the service of their country. Veterans Day is a day set aside to thank and honor ALL those who served honorably in the military - in wartime or peacetime. We should be thankful every day.

My nephew is currently in Afghanistan. We pray daily for his safety. His brother, just graduated from college, has joined the reserves. He will leave in a few weeks for Basic Combat Training and after graduating from that moves to Officer Candidate School. He should graduate there around the first of December. Then he will probably have to go too. We are very proud of them both.

I’ve finished two full months of knitayear. On day 60 I chose a pale hand painted cotton yarn. The colors are peaceful and I was in a reflective mood. They were calming colors that suited my reminiscing. I was glad to be there with the boys and to have seen my good friend. Day 61 was Memorial Day. I picked a brown camouflage yarn. I’m thankful for the men and women who have served our country. They deserve to be honored because they gave the biggest gift there is, for us to be free.

Hey, Uncle Sam put your name at the top of his list,
And the Statue of Liberty started shaking her fist.
And the eagle will fly and it's gonna be hell,
When you hear Mother Freedom start ringing her bell.
And it'll feel like the whole wide world is raining down on you.
Ah, brought to you, courtesy of the red, white and blue.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Silver and Gold

I used to have a treasure chest
Got so heavy that I had to rest
I let it slip away from me
Didn't need it anyway
so I let it slip away.

Isn’t it funny how somebody else’s junk is so much better than your own? It might be an addition to your collection of interesting objects. It could be what you needed and would have paid full price for at the store. Maybe it’s something that has sentimental value to you, reminding you of something you used to have/do/want. Maybe it just calls your name and you can’t pass up the opportunity.

Garage sales are an interesting pastime in America. Some are held for necessity, some for fun. I held a garage sale once and the only fun thing about it was the company of the other hostess. People were rude. The garage sale started at 9:00am and they were ringing the doorbell at 7:00am. Something is marked ten cents and they want it for five cents. Stickers are switched. Items are stolen. It was stressful for me. It was so long ago I don’t even remember if I made any money for all my trouble. I don’t know if I’ll ever do it again.

Going to a garage sale or a flea market, on the other hand, is great entertainment. It’s surprising the things you’ll find. It’s surprising the things people set out. There will be broken things, all sorts of clothing, usually toys, old movies, books and almost anything else you can think of, including underwear. Who wants to buy someone else’s underwear, much less wear it? But if that’s what you want you can probably find it at a garage sale. Sometimes you wonder just why they are getting rid of something.

My son told me he once ran across a pair of prosthetic legs at a sale. I don’t know if they were a pair or if there were just two of them. He was so freaked out by it he had to leave. I went to one once where the house was open to the public. It was an elderly lady moving to a smaller house and her daughter was hosting the sale. Someone asked to go to the restroom and when they came back asked if they could buy the toilet! She told them she could hold it for them and to come back late that afternoon. I don’t know if they came back and she just took it out of the bathroom or what! Another sale I went to had a bunch of shoes. As we were getting ready to leave a lady came in. She said she needed to see if her shoe was there. Apparently she had tried on one of a pair and forgotten to put her own shoe back on. She left and had been walking around with two different shoes on all afternoon.

Everybody wants to find a bargain. The first house we went to seemed familiar. One of the other times I’d been in Tulsa we had come to this house for an estate sale. This time the sign said huge multi-family sale. I found a few crocheted items and my bargain, two sets of sewing machine drawers. Then we were off to another. We spent well into the afternoon perusing items for sale and finding new possessions.

Saturday morning was the flea market. My good friend Hallie met us. We had such fun. There was so much to look at. We looked, picked up things, laughed and put down things. We spotted different things, each deciding we had found something special. I got some old salt and pepper shakers and a couple of small crystal decanters. I saw a great costume jewelry bracelet and pin I couldn’t pass up. We both got a china cup and saucer. She found a rooster for her collection and some other little treasures. Bryce got an old book and Ty found some crystal decanters. As I was looking at an iron bedstead with the headboard, footboard and the rails the lady in the booth said I’ll make you a deal. Sold! Now to get it all home!

It was a good time, one memories are made of. I found trinkets that I probably didn’t need, but the best treasure of the weekend was spending time with a good friend and my boys. That kind of treasure doesn’t grow old. It just gets more valuable.

Knitayear is progressing nicely. It’s really long and it’s only coming up on the second month! I still am not sure just what I can do with it. It’s a good thing I decided to divide it! Day 58 was a great day. I was excited for the concert, Brooks and Dunn, Friday night and I was excited to find my little treasures at the garage sale. I chose variegated orange cotton. It seemed bright and cheery and exciting! Day 59 was another good day. Meeting with Hallie and hanging out was great fun. She always makes me laugh. The boys were in good moods and seemed to have fun at the flea market too. I chose a white with silver sparkles in it for this day. The white was for the bright day I was having and the silver for the victories I made in the great finds at the flea market. It may have been trash to someone but I felt victorious because of my new assets! Good company, good friends, good times and treasures too…far better than silver and gold.

Workin' hard every day
Never notice how
the time slips away
People come, seasons go
We got something
that'll never grow old.
It's better than silver and gold.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Music Makes Pictures And Often Tells Stories

All of it magic and all of it true
And all of the pictures and all of the stories
All of the magic, the music is you

I’m driving down the road with the radio on listening to the sweet sounds…music. I change the channel if I don’t like the song and I find a song that makes me happy. It’s Black Water by the Doobie Brothers. My friend Tina and I are in high school. We’re cruising and having a good time. I change the channel again. It’s The Dance, by Garth Brooks. I remember the death of my dear friend’s son, the disbelief that a young life is ended so soon. And I change the channel.

According to Wikipedia, the word music comes from the Greek mousikê (tekhnê) by way of the Latin musica. It is derived from mousa, the Greek word for muse. In ancient Greece, the word mousike was used to mean any of the arts or sciences governed by the Muses. Later, in Rome, ars musica embraced poetry as well as instrument-oriented music. One definition of music says: an artistic form of auditory communication incorporating instrumental or vocal tones in a structured and continuous manner. Another says: an art of sound in time that expresses ideas and emotions in significant forms through the elements of rhythm, melody, harmony, and color.
The magic of music has been woven into my life as long as I remember. I reminisce about the songs my grandmother sang when I was still a baby. We would spend time in the summer at her house. She had a piano so we ‘played’ the piano. We learned church songs and Christmas carols and sometimes little silly kid songs like Mary Had a Little Lamb. We visited my other grandmother too. She played the radio or the record player. We listened to country music songs. We’d dance around and laugh while she sang. We’d join in and sing the choruses. I still remember the words to some of those songs.

My parents were teenagers when I was born. They were young and I remember cruising in Albuquerque, my sister and I in the back seat while the Beatles played on the radio. Sometimes it was country music. We’d stop at the drive in, Frank’s or Lionel’s and dad would get a chocolate malt. If we were very good we could have the very last drink. It was such a big treat!

Music reminds me of spending time with my uncle and aunt in Amarillo. Early morning I’d be lying in bed with the curtains blowing in the breeze. I’d hear the soft sounds of country music and smell coffee or toast. I’d lay there quietly and sing the words in my head. Lazy Sunday afternoons at their house would be spent with the radio or records of Willie Nelson playing, the Sunday paper on the floor. Those are good memories.

My grandmother and granddaddy bought a piano for my sister and me. I took piano lessons for one year. I was in third grade. My teacher was named Mrs. Wilson and it was after school at her house. I only took lessons that one year. I don’t know why. My sister never did. One time my grandmother found out about free accordion lessons in Albuquerque. She had a baby accordion she brought to the house and I took lessons. The man’s name was Mr. Francini. I loved the accordion lessons. When they weren’t free they ended. We didn’t have a lot of money and I guess that wasn’t a necessary thing.

There is a group of people I work with. We have the same job but we live and work in different parts of the state. We see each other, for work purposes, a couple of times a year. One time, I don’t even know why, one of the guys brought his guitar. He picked out songs and sang ballads. He can remember words to just about every song he hears. We call him the singing cowboy. We laugh because he’ll change keys while singing, going up or down an octave, adjusting then starting again. But he’s pretty good. When one of the guys in the group moved to another job we got someone in his place who has a band. He really can play anything but he prefers to stay in the background as far as the singing goes. He’ll play and sometimes sing and the other one will always sing. It’s been a lot of fun.
Sometimes, when I’m brave, or I’ve had a shot or two of courage, I’ll sing with them. I don’t do it very loudly because I’m fairly sure I don’t sound that good. I can harmonize and I know a lot of the words too, from listening when I was little. As I get more comfortable I get a little louder. I usually feel silly later but it’s fun while we are singing. And they always ask me to sing again.

I like a lot of different kinds of music. When the kids were little they got to hear a variety. They knew the words to rock and roll and country, songs their friends didn’t know. They got to hear oldies and top twenty. They know the names of some of the old country artists and groups. They’ve heard and sang songs their friends would not think were cool. I remember how we laughed at how Pretty Woman could wake Ty up from a sound sleep, his foot tapping slowly in time with the music til he was awake. Callye would pick a song and play it over and over and over, all day, all night until we begged her to stop. Bryce would break into an opera voice and sing a song when the mood struck. We lived in a small town and they didn’t have some of the opportunities they might have but they were in the band in school and all can play at least one instrument. The boys still like to sing and will sometimes go to Karaoke night. And they sound pretty good!

I think in song lyrics. Sometimes I even converse in song lyrics. Not reciting the entire song but picking and choosing words that have meaning to me. Sometimes I’ll answer a question with a song lyric. How’s everything today? Oh, it’s just another day in paradise. Very few people get it.

Before music videos, when you listened to a song you made up your own meaning. It was kind of like reading a book. You made the characters, you interpreted their actions. Now, seeing the video can change your whole idea of what the song means. Sometimes I wonder what the video even has to do with the song! I still like the music without the video. I’ll make up my own story, paint my own pictures. I’ll sing my old favorites and I’ll learn new songs. I’ll remember the magic.

It’s getting close to two months on the knitayear. I still like it. Day 53 was a maroon ribbon. This was my great grandmother’s yarn. I don’t know what she made out of it but I have several spools. It was a day when I was feeling curious about what is going on and what the new week has in store. Day 54 was a serious day. There are lots of things to get done before leaving for Tulsa. I chose a pale blue yarn because it made me think of being steady and getting the job done. This yarn is a special yarn because my high school teacher spun it. She made the yarn and had me knit her a sweater. Day 55, May 25, was a tired day. I got a lot done but I still had so much more to do. I chose a tan and green and off-white yarn. It seemed peaceful and restful and fit my tired mood. Day 56 was the day before leaving. So many loose ends to tie up! Trying to get work stuff cleared up and packing done left me feeling overwhelmed. I chose an all colored flag yarn. It seemed to resemble the frazzled mood I was in. Day 57 was the day I left. I drove to Tulsa by myself. It’s 500 plus miles. It’s a long way and there were some really crazy people out. I was nice and was in a tolerant mood and didn’t even get upset at having to pay a toll to drive on a crappy road. I chose a black yarn with a white thread wrapped around it. It reminded me of the highway and the lines on the road. It has a few little sprinkles of blue and pink as well. I thought of stars in the dark sky and how they twinkle and make different colors. And I’m reminded of a song.

Music makes pictures and often tells stories
All of it magic and all of it true
And all of the pictures and all of the stories
And all of the magic, the music is you

Saturday, May 22, 2010


We live in a greedy little world—
that teaches every little boy and girl
To earn as much as they can possibly—
then turn around and
Spend it foolishly

Have you ever bought something you didn’t need? Maybe it was on sale or maybe you just wanted it? Maybe you already had one so now you have two because it was too good of a deal to pass up? Of course you have! We all have something we don’t need. We all have stuff. A lot of us have too much stuff.

Stuff is the subject of comedians. George Carlin has a whole routine on having stuff. He said a house is just a pile of stuff with a cover on it. That's all your house is: a place to keep your stuff. If you didn't have so much stuff, you wouldn't need a house. You could just walk around all the time.

There are several television shows now based on people who have too much stuff. We watch these kinds of shows and think, wow, they have a problem. As we watch, we are thinking how could anyone live like that? It’s disgusting. Then we quickly glance around and think quietly, is that me?

There is even an organization called Clutterers Anonymous, whose primary purpose is to stop cluttering one day at a time and to carry this message of recovery to clutterers who still suffer. They say they are “a fellowship of men and women who share their experience, strength, and hope with each other that they may solve their common problem with clutter and help each other to recover”. I wonder if they have stuff with their logo on it?

So how do you determine how much stuff is too much stuff? Is there a stuff scale and if you get over a certain point you have too much? Is it possible to have too much stuff? Wouldn’t not having any stuff be a bigger problem? I’m sure there are many people who wish they had enough stuff. They would even be ecstatic to have too much stuff. But it seems like almost everyone has too much stuff in one way or another.

I know people who have too much stuff on their minds. They are busy beyond belief. They can’t and don’t take time for the little things, the things that brought them pleasure. I know people who throw out food. There is so much stuff in their refrigerators they can’t even find the ‘good’ stuff and end up wasting food that other people would be glad to have. I know people who can’t find their jewelry in the morning because they have so much stuff it’s all meshed together and one piece can’t be singled out.

So why do we have too much stuff? Perhaps it’s because we can. After all, new is better, right? And new doesn’t have to be new. Just new to you. And we all need new stuff. Of course there’s always the special occasion when you need a treat and you deserve it so you get more stuff. Then there’s the old ‘keeping up with the Jones’ thought. If they have stuff I need stuff too. And finally, sometimes you just don’t have anything else to do, you’re bored, so you get more stuff. The Internet and television make it so easy.

When I was growing up we got one pair of shoes at the beginning of school. Sometimes, only if we had to because of school, we got a pair of tennis shoes too. Those ugly old white ones, nothing like the cool ones kids have today. We didn’t have good shoes and play shoes and Sunday shoes. We had one pair of shoes. We wore them from the beginning of school to the end of school unless you were lucky enough to have foot growth spurt or have a really large hole in the sole.

My aunt had a lot of shoes. She had red shoes and blue shoes and shoes with little bows on them. I’d never seen so many shoes. I vowed then that when I grew up I would be like her and have as many pair of shoes as I wanted. I would never have to wear just one pair of shoes until they were so ugly and ragged that it was less embarrassing to just stay home. And now I have as many pairs as I want. Do I have too many? Probably. Just ask my family what they think.

I read an interview with Dolly Parton once and she was telling the interviewer why she liked wearing the wigs and makeup that have become her trademark. She said when she was little she would see this woman who was blond and piled her hair up, wore high heels and tight skirts. She thought she was the prettiest thing she'd ever seen. She didn't know what she was, and it turned out she patterned her look after her. She said her mother used to tell her the lady was just trash. Dolly thought if that was the case she wanted to be just like that when she grew up…trash. Dolly has several wigs and people who are hired just to keep them styled. She equates high hair and tight clothes to beauty, just like I equate having more than one pair of shoes necessary to keep from embarrassment or humiliation.

Maybe you can have too much stuff. When it’s not fun to find new stuff, it could be a sign you’ve got enough. When you don’t have any more room, you might have enough. If it’s a chore to acquire something new or that you like, maybe you have enough stuff. If it might have occurred to you that the stuff you have is becoming a burden you could have enough stuff.

So what can you do? You can always throw some of your stuff out. You can look through your closets and fill up garbage bags with those clothes you are going to diet down to and wear again, or with the shoes you might have had since you were in your twenties. You can get rid of stuff you've had for years for no apparent reason. You can donate to Goodwill but not the Salvation Army because they took some of my friend’s stuff without asking. You can leave stuff by the dumpster or out by the road or in the alley and let some lucky someone find it and make your stuff their very own. And then, to celebrate, you can go out and buy or get more stuff!

Day 48 was one of those days where there was a lot to do. It seemed like I stayed at it, diligently, all day but there was just as much to do when I finished as when I started. I chose a yellow with a little orange twist woven in. The yellow was a happy color saying it could all be done. Day 49 brought blue yarn. It was an open sort of day, open and receptive to new things and new ideas. The blue reminded me of sky and how there are no limits in the sky. You can keep your ideas and still be receptive to something new. Fuzzy pink yarn was the color of the day for Day 50. It was a day filled with apprehension. Stupid things going on at work type of day. Things that aren’t important at all but make you wonder or worry. The fuzzy pink reminded me that there is a solid core but all the extra makes a fuzz around that core. The core is just as strong as it ever was, just ignore the fuzz or pretend it’s supposed to be there to make things more interesting. Knitayear on day 51 was a ribbon yarn, blue, purple and aqua, with threads hanging from it every so often. It was a thoughtful day, not so much in that I did anything nice for people, just that I was thinking about many different things, things I should have or shouldn’t have done. The solid ribbon showed a steady day of thinking while the threads were the tangents my weary mind goes off on. It’s all connected and the fiber is still strong even with the threads waving. Day 52 was a lazy day. I chose an orange handspun. It’s more of the antique yarn I found that I made in highschool. I look at some of that and compare it to what my friend Brenda can spin and find there is no comparison. This yarn is a wide bulky yarn. Again, I don’t remember if it is spindle or wheel yarn. It would be considered art yarn today probably, like I intentionally made it that way! It was calming to work with though and fell right into place. I’m thinking tonight that while you can have too much stuff you can never have too much yarn stuff!

All we ever want is more
A lot more than we had before
So take me to the nearest store...

Monday, May 17, 2010

I Got A Name

Like the pine trees linin' the windin' road
I've got a name, I've got a name
Like the singin' bird and the croakin' toad
I've got a name, I've got a name

I was attending a workshop the other day, or staff development as they like to call it, at work. It was based on the work of Dr. Ruby Payne and dealt with multiculturalism and poverty and the differences in learning. The presenter wasn’t Dr. Payne. To set the stage she gave us an ‘icebreaker’ activity. Typically I hate icebreaker type activities. I’m basically shy, although people who know me well beg to differ. My theory is they don’t really know me well or I've become so used to them I'm not shy with them. Anyway, I have to warm up to strangers. I do it on my timeline, and don’t like to be forced into touchy-feely activities that make me uncomfortable. But if you are a staff developer, trainer or teacher, that’s what is expected. It’s an unwritten part of the training process. Unfortunately I subject other people to this type of activity when I do the training. Somehow it’s not as bad administering as receiving!

This time, though, the activity was actually interesting, and in my mind, non-threatening. She had five questions on a paper and you were supposed to write the answers. Because the questions interested me I followed instructions and wrote my answers. The questions were as follows:

1. Write your whole name.
2. Were you named after someone? Who?
3. Is there anyone else in your family with the same name as you?
4. What does your name mean? Where does it come from?
5. Did you or anyone else name someone after you?

My name is not common. My first name is probably the most common of my whole name but the way it is spelled makes it uncommon. My name is Jamye and I’m named after my dad. I was supposed to be a boy. He’s James. So I’m Jamye. I have a sister who was also supposed to be a boy. Her name is Judi. Judith really. We always joke that I got her ‘y’ and she got my ‘i’. Then they finally got their boy. James Jr. or Jimmie as he's called.

I have three kids. Callye is named after my mother, Carolyn, and her dad, Alan. C for Carolyn and Al for her dad. The ‘ye’ is for me. She has a made up middle name, JaRae. The ‘Ja’ is for me and the Rae is for her dad whose middle name is Ray. All of the kids got a ‘y’ in their name for me. There’s an interesting story about Callye’s name. She was the first grandchild on that side of the family. My grandfather asked me what we were going to name the baby. I told him Callye. He said, “That was my great great grandmother’s name.” She was born in a wagon train crossing the US. Her name was California Mary and they called her Callie. I didn’t have a clue.

Bryce is the oldest son. His dad came up with that name. His middle name is Alan after his dad. I had decided on a girl name but left the boy name up to his dad. He had a good friend named Olen. His first impulse was to name him Alan Olen or Olen Alan. Yucko. So Bryce it is. I wanted Evan Alan. My husband said that sounded too much like a furniture company. I’m not sure where he got Bryce. The youngest is named Tyson. When I was pregnant with him Mike Tyson was popular so the kids at school were sure that is who he’s named after. It’s not. He is named after my husband’s step father, Tyson. His middle name is James after my dad. We call him Ty.

My maiden name is unique. It always seemed to be anyway, because nobody could ever spell it or say it right. It’s not that hard. Four letters. Exum. Say it like X-em. I looked it up. According to there are 3,178 people in the U.S. with the last name Exum and statistically it is the 10609th most popular last name. That’s not real high on the list! My grandfather was named Ermer James. My dad got the James from him, and he from his dad. There were six kids in his family, all names starting with an E except for one. I don’t know who was oldest but their names were Ermer, Ernest, Edward (Joe), Era, Euell and Fred. Fred’s middle name was Lafayette after another ancestor. Granddaddy’s dad was Ira James and his mother Ethel Euver Lanham Exum. I guess that’s why the kids got the E names. I'm glad my parents chose the James part to name me after!

My paternal grandmother was named Opal Odelle. Her maiden name was Harrell, which she gave my dad as a middle name and he passed on to my brother. When my grandmother was pregnant her sister was also pregnant. They were due about the same time. Her sister had picked James Harrell out for a name for her baby should he be a boy. Grandmother had my dad first and took the name. I never told anyone what baby names I had picked out because of that. She had two sisters and two brothers. John was lost in the war and never found. Fleta and Nadine were her sister’s names. Charlie was the baby and was about the same age as my dad. Her mother was Ethel Mary and her father John.

My maternal grandfather was Charles William. I don’t know anything about his family. He had a brother who looked just like him because he was at his funeral. It was creepy because my Papaw was dead but there was a man who looked just like him standing there. His last name was Arthur. My grandmother used to say Pretty Boy Floyd was an ancestor because his name is Charles Arthur Floyd. I don’t know. Her name was Bessie Lee. Her maiden name was Billberry. Her dad was James Raleigh and her mother Catherine "Kate" Stoneman. She had two brothers and two sisters, William (?), George, Myrtle and Imaree. I never got to meet any of my great grandparents.

My daughter has blessed us with three grandchildren. She named the first Evan Alan. I finally got an Evan Alan. The second boy is named Caleb Ray. The Ray is after his dad who goes by Bernie. Then there is Mia Isabel. She is called Belle. When she starts school she will probably be Mia because that’s her true first name. Also, Isabella is the most popular girls name right now so there’s bound to be several in her class.

When I married my name became Swinford. It’s possibly Irish, but I don’t know. My husband’s father is Fagin. He doesn’t have a middle name. There were nine kids in his family. Supposedly his great grandfather had 21 kids in the family, no twins. That would be horrible. The lady was pregnant her whole life! His grandmother was named Fannie Stewart. He’s not sure about the spelling. She had siblings but we don’t know how many. We do know that she and her sister married brothers. My husband thinks he might be related in some way to every Swinford in the US!

When I did a search to see if anyone had my name, spelled the way I spell it, I came up with a website called It has some facts I found amusing.

1. 31% of the letters are vowels. Of one million first and last names we looked at, 74% have a higher vowel make-up. This means it is modestly envoweled.
2. In ASCII binary it is... 01001010 01100001 01101101 01111001 01100101 00100000 01010011 01110111 01101001 01101110 01100110 01101111 01110010 01100100
3. Backwards, it is Eymaj Drofniws... nice ring to it, huh?
4. In Pig Latin, it is Amyejay Infordsway.
5. People with this first name are probably: Male or female... We don't know yet. We're working on it!

There are also fewer than 1,547 people in the U.S. with the first name Jamye and 1 or fewer people in the U.S. are named Jamye Exum. There are 3,684 people in the U.S. with the last name Swinford, statistically the 9314th most popular last name. That’s a lot more popular than Exum! And finally, there are 1 or fewer people in the U.S. named Jamye Swinford. So it seems I’m unique in one way at least!

It used to be drilled that having a good name is related to your reputation. I’m not sure that it’s that way today. I’m not sure that people are even aware of the connection, must less a good reputation. But it’s still important even today. A good reputation is how people look at you. Does it matter? Possibly, no if you have a good self-esteem and know you are okay. But in another way it’s very important. It’s important, even with good self-esteem because your reputation is used for practical purposes. It’s a social world we live in and friendship and income depend on reputation. You won’t have friends if people think you’re mean or spiteful. You won’t have a job if you aren’t reliable or if you are lazy or dishonest. Reputation is built partly on action but it’s also built on perception. Others perception of you and your actions can influence even other peoples perceptions of you. And so the cycle begins.
The Internet and social networking has a lot to do with reputations. It’s said that an employer will check Facebook and MySpace and Twitter and any other social network out there when a prospective employee applies. In an interview you can tell anyone what they want to hear. If they look on your Facebook account they will get a true picture of who you are. Think twice about what you post!

Finally, let me apologize to anyone who might read what I write here. I noticed, when I was reading back, the emphasis on the unknown regarding graduation. Did I mention it in what, three posts? It must be a Freudian thing or something because obviously I’m the one who is scared and nervous about it, not the kids!

The knitayear project, which I’m really enjoying, is current. The 45th, 46th and 47th days are in this post. Saturday was a good day. Everyone was relaxed. There wasn’t anywhere anyone was supposed to be at a certain time. We enjoyed sleeping in and a leisurely visit to a bookstore. I chose a blue/green/purple yarn because I was peaceful. It seemed to reflect the peaceful nature of the day and the gentle letdown after a lifelong memory. Sunday, May 16, was the long ride home. It was a pleasant trip, especially since I didn’t have to drive! It rained some but otherwise the weather was nice. I chose a gold yarn with a purple thread twisted around it. It seemed to be a peaceful color with an evenly twisted thread that reminded me of the great memories that were just made. Monday was a day off from work. I was so thankful that I had the foresight to take the day off. I was tired and recuperating from the long ride, from the trip and just from the emotion of it all. I found a green yarn that reminded me of gentle grass and trees. It seemed peaceful and restful, which I needed to be. I thought about my name, my background and my kids and what they mean to me. I thought about how I became who I am. And I remember my name.

And I carry it with me like my daddy did
But I'm livin' the dream that he kept hid
Movin' me down the highway
Rollin' me down the highway
Movin' ahead so life won't pass me by

Friday, May 14, 2010

A Helluva, Helluva, Helluva, Helluva, Helluva Engineer

I wish I had a barrel of rum and sugar three hundred pounds,
The college bell to mix it in and clapper to stir it round.
Like every honest fellow, I take my whiskey clear,
I'm a rambling wreck from Golden Tech, a helluva engineer.

That is the beginning of the Colorado School of Mines school song. The school was founded in 1874 and is located in Golden. It is a public research university devoted to engineering and applied science. It’s a relatively small school with about 3600 undergrads and 1000 grad students. The professors know their students and the students know their professors.

The students who are accepted are used to achieving high grades and meeting goals. The average ACT score of an entering freshman is 28 and most rank in the top 10 percent of their high school graduating class. The competition is fierce and the standards are high. It has the highest admissions standards of any public state university in Colorado.

It’s Graduation Eve and celebration time. The festivities start with a reception for the Petroleum Engineer graduates. It’s finger foods, cookies and cake. My daughter and youngest son don’t always get along. They have different ideas about things. But she did a very nice thing for him. She made and decorated about 96 cookies for his reception. They were beautiful and well received. A humorous thing, to us anyway, was the blue icing on the cookies. When someone ate a blue cookie their teeth and lips turned blue. It was pretty funny!

We had an amazing dinner, a gift from a special friend. It was the most magnificent sushi ever. I have to apologize for the quality of the pictures. The restaurant has dim lighting. But the presentation was outstanding! It was a generous and wonderful gift, a gift from the heart. Thank you Thang!

Friday morning is the morning of graduation! It is a clear day and the ceremony is outside. At first it was thought it might have to be moved indoors but the weather cooperated. There was a cool breeze but the sun was enough to keep everyone warm. I was a bit apprehensive when I found out there had been a 7:00 am happy hour for the graduates. DS is very social and won’t miss a free happy hour! We happened to sit on the right side, the side on which he walked up to the stage. We saw him on the way up and all was well. I breathed a sigh of relief. We also got to congratulate him on the way back. We were towards the back and it was hard to see him but the boy walked across the stage! It was bittersweet for me. He’s my baby.

Graduation means many things. It’s the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. It’s the reward for countless homework assignments and labs and many sleepless nights studying for the next test or celebrating the victory of a successful exam.

Graduation also brings many questions and uncertainties. What happens now? Where will I go? What will I do? The search for the perfect job leading to a fulfilling career is in full swing. The door is wide open but what is on the horizon? The prospects are as frightening as they are exciting.

Although the goal of graduation, the degree that is earned, is to get a perfect job, college isn’t only about gaining employment. The college experience, four years of hard work, is as much about growing up and maturing as it is about grades and passing. The experiences that are gained and the memories made will last a lifetime. College teaches you about life; how to figure out and solve new problems and confusing situations. The books you read and the experiments you perform give you the confidence and the skill to contribute to the world and make it a better place. The strangers you meet at the beginning of each year become some of your best friends.

While Mines ranks number one among Colorado state schools for starting salaries of graduates with a bachelor’s degree, there are no guarantees. The current economy makes the job market tough and competitive. Unemployment is on the rise. In April, the number of unemployed persons was 15.3 million, and the unemployment rate edged up to 9.9 percent. The rate had been 9.7 percent for the first three months of this year. (US Dept of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics) That isn’t the kind of news that a new graduate wants to hear.

Regardless, a college graduate still has the upper hand. Census data shows that the difference in earnings between a bachelor’s degree and a high school diploma is significant. Of course it depends on the occupation and geographic area, but usually a college graduate will make twice as much in their career as a high school graduate.

Graduation night we headed to downtown Denver for a celebration dinner for DS and his friends. He chose Maggiano’s. It’s an excellent Italian restaurant. We had a true feast. He chose the appetizers, entrees and dessert. There was so much food he took several doggie bags back home to his fraternity house and the boys ate well for a couple of meals!

The experience of the last four years is priceless. The academic and social skills gained contribute to the knowledge that DS will make it in the real world. He may not find the perfect job right away but he’ll find something. He’ll have the satisfaction that he’s learned far more than what is written on the piece of paper he received when he walked across the stage. He will make it in the real world. He’ll be a success. He’ll be a helluva, helluva, helluva, helluva, helluva engineer!

I am working on knitayear while in Colorado. I didn’t have a color I needed. If that happens I keep track of my mood and find a color later. I had to add this yarn when I got back. I felt proud of my son and what he’s accomplished. I chose a sort of magenta color for Thursday, day 43. It’s a rich color, and I know he’ll be successful in what he chooses. Maybe he’ll even be rich! Friday, graduation day, I chose a navy yarn. Mines colors are navy and silver. There are tiny specks of color in the navy yarn. These remind me of fireworks, because the colors are sprinkled throughout. It’s a very happy day for all of us. It seemed a fitting yarn. I know that DS will carry the college experience with him forever. He’ll never forget the M climbs or E-days. He’s an Oredigger, a graduate.

The Miner’s “M”, a symbol of a brand of mining men,
Whose courage knocks the mountains down and builds them up again,
No matter in this paydirt world orediggers choose to roam,
Mines is always with them, The “M” still stands for home.