Monday, April 20, 2009


"...something special happens when a group starts to sing togther--something extraordinary from a cognitive (and dynamic complex systems) perspective, something you've probably experienced yourself in any place where people come together to sing: football games, church, campfires, or political rallies."


"Confucius reportedly said, 'Music produces a kind of pleasure which human nature cannot do without.'"

"Music and health are intimately related in human history, from shamanic healing to 'witch doctors,' from the Hebrews to current-day programs of music therapy. King David played the harp to relieve the stress of King Saul (Samuel I, 16:1-23), and the ancient Greeks (in particular Zenocrates, Sarpander, and Arien) used harp music to ease the outbursts of people with mental illnesses."


"The six types of songs that shaped human nature
--friendship, joy, comfort,
knowledge, religion,
and love songs--
I've come to think are obvious..."

Peace Corps Volunteer

Catherine "Kate" Puzey, Peace Corps volunteer, was found dead outside her home in a remote, rural village about a seven hour drive north of Cotonou, in West Africa.

Peace Corps volunteer’s killing devastates relatives in Cumming
by Kathy Jefcoats

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Monday, March 16, 2009

Kate Puzey settled into the West African nation Benin almost two years ago as a Peace Corps volunteer teaching English.

Relatives said she acclimated quickly, dining with local seamstresses and wise women, and attending a birthday party for a village child. Puzey, 24, wrote on her blog of witnessing a ritual circumcision and anticipating the start of mango season in April.

So her parents, Harry and Lois Puzey of Cumming, were devastated to learn last week that someone had killed their only daughter. Her body was found Thursday outside her home in Benin.

“We’ve been told they have a major suspect but we don’t know any details,” Harry Puzey said Sunday. “We don’t think her death was political or random but an individual act by one person.”
Lois Puzey said her daughter was a staunch defender of the “underdog.”

“She was whipsmart, articulate and honest with people,” Lois Puzey said. “She would always stand up for the underdog. That was a major part of her personality.”

Kate Puzey was born in Germany, where her parents were U.S. Department of Defense teachers. When she was 7, they moved to Okinawa, where Kate graduated high school at the top of her class. She graduated from the College of William & Mary in Williamsburg, Va.

“We taught her to be a citizen of the world,” he said.

Kate wrote about her experiences around the world on her blog, at

One entry about Benin begins:

“I realized some time ago my education here goes way beyond the local language and customs. I’ve become familiar with so many new sounds. I now know the sound of a chicken when it’s being killed, a goat when it’s giving birth, the baby next door when it’s hungry. … With all the noise I find myself listening more. That is, before I put in earplugs at night to try and get some sleep!”

Lois Puzey said she is devastated.

“She was an incredible person, gifted in people skills,” she said. “She would just light up a room. It’s hard to believe someone bigger than life is gone.”

Kate Puzey was comfortable in her adopted, albeit temporary, home, said her cousin, Emilie Jacobs-Finnegan.

“She always saw the positive in people,” Jacobs-Finnegan said. “But she was not naive. She was feisty, a real steel magnolia, but she had a way of soothing people. She was open-minded and compassionate.”

Lois Puzey said her daughter’s body will be accompanied back to Georgia in a few days by a Peace Corps official.

Services are set for 11 a.m. Saturday at Alpharetta’s Sanctuary at Birmingham United Methodist Church.

There are over 100 Peace Corps volunteers currently working in Benin.

Out of the Woods

When we travel by car, my husband does the driving and I read aloud. On one road trip, we were introduced to Chris Offutt's writings in his book of short stories Whiskey Straight and were both blown away by his writing.
The man can write.
His book The Same River Twice broke my heart, as did No Heroes.
I don't read short stories as much as I used to (recalling how I savored/devoured the stories by John O'Hara and his characters' perfect dialogue).

shadows and light

By a departing light
by Emily Dickinson

By a departing light
We see acuter, quite,
Than by a wick that stays.
There's something in the flight
That clarifies the sight
And decks the rays.

Habitat for Humanity

Didn't cook on Sunday (again!).

Seguin Habitat for Humanity served its special grilled chicken and pork loin lunches during its Square Meal for Habitat plate fundraiser on Sunday at Faith Lutheran Church.
Some of the funds from this lunch will be used for the 13th home being built on the corner of Ireland and Guadalupe.
A good cause. A good meal.

Better laughter - than tears

We devoured these!

1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup butter flavored shortening
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 cups rolled oats
1 cup raisins
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. In a large bowl, cream together the butter, butter flavored shortening, brown sugar, white sugar, eggs, and vanilla until smooth. Combine the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves, and salt; stir into the sugar mixture. Stir in the oats and raisins. Drop by rounded teaspoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheets.
  3. Bake 10 to 12 minutes until light and golden. Do not overbake. Let them cool for 2 minutes before removing from cookie sheets to cool completely. Store in airtight container.

Note: the day I baked these, they never made it to the 'airtight container' - they were gone in a flash!