Thoughts on Montessori Schools & Honey Grove, Texas. . .

Yesterday, I attended the Library Event sponsored by Region VIII ESC in Mount Pleasant, Texas. Patty Duke is in charge of the program, and as usual, she did such a great job. I rose at 3:00 a.m., was on the road by 4:00, there by 7:30, left at 12:45 after the program ended, and arrived in Monroe about 4:30 just in time to do a couple of errands and teach my class at Delta at 5:00.

This morning at 10 a.m., before my Academic Seminar Class at Delta, I’m showing various musical instruments and performing some songs for my grandson Mason’s Montessori class.  The Monroe school is called Nature’s Way and I can tell attending the school has been a good experience for Mason (who is now three years of age). My daughter Rachel made a good point: The cost of Montessori instruction differs little from the price of good day care for little ones, so you might as well place the children in a nurturing and educational environment.  If you are unfamiliar with Maria Montessori’s philosophy of education, you can read about it here

You can read about the Nature’s Way school in Monroe and its philosophy here:

Teaching in a Montessori school must be much like teaching gifted students (in the public schools that still believe in REALLY serving gifted children and when they let you develop them).  I’ve talked to many parents that have used the Nature’s Way school and they are very pleased and vocal about how the school helped their children.

AUTHOR EVENTS: I’m to be working with the Honey Grove, Texas ISD this Friday. It has been nearly a year since I’ve been to the schools there, but I remember I had such a grand time.  Beverly Ann Herriage is the district librarian.  This town has an interesting history. According to the city’s homepage, There is a legend stating  “in 1836 as Davy Crockett was traveling to join the Texas Army at San Antonio, he camped in a grove just west of the present town square, on the bank of Honey Grove Creek. In letters he wrote to Tennessee, he told of the ideal place where he had camped, the “honey grove.” It was so named due to the abundance of honey in the hollow trees.

In 1842, the first settler, Samuel Erwin, arrived to make the “honey grove” his home. Erwin was a friend of Davy Crockett. In fact, Crockett performed the marriage ceremony for Erwin and his wife. B.S. Walcott came to Honey Grove in 1848, laid off the town and sold building lots, and progress really began to speed up in the tiny town. Honey Grove was incorporated in 1873.”

Region XI Library Harvest

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I presented a program at ESC Region XI’s Library Harvest in Fort Worth. I spoke to the  librarians on this topic: “How to Have Affordable Author Events.” I intend to type the outline I followed and post it in the near future. Below are two photos of the event. One is at my author table (note my little Leprachaun)  where I was signing books and the other was taken while I was speaking. Tomorrow, I’ll be at ESC Region VIII’s conference in Mt. Pleasant, Texas. I’ll leave for that event early in the A.M. and will post something on it tomorrow night.

Rickey Pittman speaking at Region XI

Mama Said (Pick in His Pocket) by Take Root : Lyrics and Chords

A week or two ago I was driving to Oklahoma to visit my parents, Gene & Jessie Pittman, and I heard this song on The Range, KHYI 95.3, which is as far as I know, Dallas’ only Americana station. You can see the station’s site here:) This is my favorite Dalls/Fort Worth radio station. In my many travels to the area, if I’m not listening to a book on tape, (thanks to Beautiful Bonnie Blue of Region XI), or listening to a song over and over again to learn the lyrics, I’m listening to NPR or the Range. As I’m a guitar player, this song registered–yes, even cutting into my selfish heart a little (not as much as it should). I’ve always liked songs, stories, and movies about guitar players. (“While My Guitar Gently Weeps” by the Beatles, “Tennessee Flat-Box” by Johnny Cash, “This Old Guitar” by John Denver
“Tonight I Just Need My Guitar” by Jimmy Buffett, and many others). Guitars to guitarists are like swords to Vikings–we name them (B.B. King named his Lucille, my Taylor is Fionna) and we revere them.

As far as I know, Southern Missive is the only site to post the lyrics to this song. I transcribed them, so if I made a mistake, please let me know. The chord changes I figured out. If you want to purchase the song, you can do that here: If you have a song you want me to run down and find the lyrics for, let me know and I’ll do my best.

Mama Said (Pick in His Pocket) by Take Root : Lyrics and Chords

Come all you young fair ladies,
Hear what I have to say
Don’t marry a man with a pick in his pocket
Or you’ll live to curse the day
You’ll never have the things you need
To make a decent life,
If you marry a man with a pick in his pocket,
You’ll be a poor man’s wife.

He’ll leave you in the evening,
When the sun is going down,
You’ll sit home all by yourself,
While he’s out on the town,
Cause he don’t care about nothing,
Except to play a guitar and sing,
He’ll come home with just a pick in his pocket,
And a pick won’t buy a thing.

Now when you were a small girl,
You thought the whole thing through,
You’d grow up and you’d marry a man
Who’d take good care of you,
So heed this word of warning,
Or your future will be dim,
If you marry a man with a pick in his pocket,
You’ll be supporting him.

And when you lie there sleeping,
Dreaming dreams of bliss,
He’ll stumbling through the door
And wake you with a drunken kiss
And you’ll know the dream is over
But it’ll be too late by then
Cause you married a man with a pick in his pocket,
Look at the mess you’re in.

Cause you married a man with a pick in his pocket,
Look at the mess you’re in.

(They play it in Bb. Capo Fret III.) If you listen to the song, you can easily hear the chord changes. Here’s the chord progression of a whole verse:
G C G C G F C D C D G C G Bb C G


Tomorrow morning, I’ll be at the Daily Harvest Deli & Bakery, performing. I’m so looking forward to it and I wish Teresa tremendous success with the debut signing of her cookbook. Sunday, Tom and I will be performing for the Celtic Society in West Monroe.

Thursday, I was at the Library Harvest of Region XI in Fort Worth. I’ll have some photos and information to post about that event and my day (today with my Aunt Winnie) in Garland, Texas tomorrow night.

On to Fort Worth!

Tomorrow, I’ll be presenting a program at the Region XI Library & Media Services for their annual Library Harvest event. You can read about the event and see the schedule here: I will also set up school and library programs and sign some books. There’s a good chance I might be able to provide some entertainment as well. I’ll have my guitar with me at any rate. I’ll be back to Monroe Friday night as I must be at Teresa Gordan’s Daily Harvest Bakery and Deli bright and early Saturday to do some guitar /vocals there for her special event. She’ll be presenting her new cookbook (that I edited) and signing them. Should be a grand day.

Here is a photo of me in my little story-telling tent at the Jackson Celtic Festival. It was taken by a friend, Dr. Mack Barham. Mack is a reader, a known photographer, and is a committed patron of the arts in Northeast Louisiana. I taught his son in junior high reading class and I was also his soccer coach. I can tell by the chord I’m making that I’m doing Leonard Cohen’s song, “Hallelujah.” That song is a favorite of kids and adults both. I believe the song’s popularity is a result of the Shrek movie.

storytelling jackson ms

A Story about the Battle of Gettysburg

Few battles of the War Between the States  have captured the attention of people as much as the Battle of Gettysburg, PA.  This is an excerpt from one of my stories in my collection of short fiction entitled, Stories of the Confederate South. The soldier is in the 15th Alabama, and an Irishman from Connemara. You can read more about the book the story comes from by clicking on the book’s link/icon on this page.  The story was inspired by a song of Jed Marum.

A Prayer from Little Round Top

Jim leaned his back against an oak to catch his breath, and used its broad trunk as a shield while he reloaded. Bullets bored into the tree, chewing off chunks of bark and notching its edge until the side of the tree resembled a saw blade.  The torrent of lead dug into the ground about him, and the Minnie balls slashed branches and saplings and brush, and ricocheted or flattened against rocks. At least there’s a breeze, he thought, and he sucked a deep breath into his lungs. It’s Southern air, he thought. Blowin’ my way.
He watched his friend, Sean, scramble to the left of him in bare feet across the slick, moss-covered rocks, his Enfield slung across his back. The hillside was steep, so Sean’s hands clutched branches and bushes to steady his ascent. Even over the rifle shots and cannon, Jim heard Sean wretch after he too found a shield-tree.
He and Sean had woven their way to this point through the boulders and trees, past the dead, past their own wounded friends, relatives, and comrades who would be abandoned to the Federals’ mercy if the battle were lost.  Behind them, black-powder smoke crept along the ground like a malignant fogbank, veiling the blood staining the moss and leaf-covered ground and congealing in puddles on rocks. Giant boulders rose above the clumps of slain men like tombstones.
Like the other soldiers of the Fifteenth Alabama on this Pennsylvania hilltop, Jim coughed and gagged and choked on his swollen tongue. He licked his parched and split lips, wishing he had a canteen. Hours before, the captain had gathered all their empty canteens and sent a squad of men to fill them.  The squad had not returned, meaning that they had been caught in a firefight or had been captured. He and the other men of the Fifteenth had now gone six hours without water, and the heat had steadily increased. Many men had fallen out due to heat exhaustion. Having already taken heavy losses, Colonel Oates was now left with only 400 men and officers to make this crucial assault on the Federal flank.
Jim tore open a cartridge with his teeth, and the acrid taste of the powder only made his dry mouth pucker even more. He emptied the powder into the barrel, squeezed in the cartridge, and rammed it home.  Jim rolled down the hill to get closer to Sean, then called out, “Who are we facing, Sean?”
“The green uniforms are Vermonters.  I think the blue are Maine men.”
“Those Vermonters are crack shots.  They’ve got the eyes and patience of hunters.”
“Aye, that they do.”
“Where’s Sergeant O’Connor?” Jim asked.
“Ahead of us.”
“He’s a fierce man.”
“Aye, there’s no fiercer Irishman for sure.”
Jim studied the side of the mountain, littered with the scattered forms of his comrades in their Tuscaloosa gray uniforms. We’ve got the Yankees on the run, but many of us are going to die here, he thought.
“Well, you rested up enough to move closer?” Sean said.
“Aye, Sean.” Jim picked out a tree, about fifteen yards ahead. He blew out his breath, doubled over and ran to it.  A green uniform rose on the summit, and some lines from Sir Gawain floated through his consciousness. He raised his Enfield, steadied its barrel against the tree, and fired.  The green uniform tumbled backwards.  He fumbled inside his cartridge pouch for another bullet.
The firing intensified—Spencers, Sharps, Enfields, Springfields—and he heard bullets pass overhead in waves of muffled sound. A rebel yell echoed as the rapidly thinning ranks of the 15th rallied and neared the summit. He marked and started for another boulder a few yards in front of him. A lead fist burned its way into his chest and knocked him on his back. Damn good shots, those Vermont boys, he thought.
He closed his eyes. Ellen’s face materialized, and he wondered how she would take the news of his death, wondered if she would know, wondered who would win this battle. Ellen, I love you so much.  God Almighty, I do.  And, as he always did in moments of stress, he thought of his sister. He reached into his canvass haversack and his shaking fingers found Sarah’s small daguerreotype. He looked at his twin, and saw her as he liked to remember her, before the famine and the sickness, before they had locked her from his sight in the coffin.
Through his blurred eyes he could make out the blue-tinted outline of Big Round Top about 1,000 yards away. The mountain’s base was shrouded in smoke. A Federal in the signal corps stood on its bald, weathered cap and flagged some distant artillery, and heat waves refracted the man’s form and the blue haze of the sky.  He remembered contemplating the two Round Tops as they marched on the double for this attack.  The two rounded mountains seemed like stiff sentinels in the gently rolling hills of Pennsylvania, stone children spawned by ancient volcanoes in a forgotten turbulent age.

*     *     *

Celtic Heritage

This weekend was an important event for me personally as it was the first public signing of my new children’s book, The Scottish Alphabet. The book was received well and I had a grand time story-telling to the little ones and to adults as well. The weekend was important in other ways as this news release indicates.


(Jackson, MS) – Governor Haley Barbour issued a proclamation that the weekend of September 5-7, 2008 is declared “Celtic Heritage Weekend” to coincide with 17th annual CelticFest Mississippi, a weekend celebrating the music, dance, and culture of the seven Celtic nations of Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Cornwall, the Isle of Man, Brittany, and Gallicia.

The Proclamation notes that large numbers of Irish, Scottish, and Welsh immigrants settled in what is now Mississippi as early as the mid-1700’s, establishing homes, farms, and communities. These Celtic settlers made significant contributions in every aspect of life which are still felt today.

The Celtic Heritage Society (CHS) was founded in 1992 by Celtic music and dance practitioners. The mission of the CHS is to preserve, promote, and present traditional Celtic art and culture in Mississippi.

CelticFest Mississippi is the main outgrowth of the CHS mission, celebrating traditional Celtic culture over three days with stage performances, workshops, food, drink, and specialty item vendors. The event takes place at the Mississippi Agricultural and Forestry Museum.

Regardless of personal ethnic background, all Missisippians share a common culture influenced by those who settled the area. Some sources estimate that as much as three out of every four Southerners can claim Celtic ancestry.

For more information, please visit the CelticFest web site: The Celtic Heritage Society is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization with the mission of promoting and preserving the arts and culture of the Celtic nations. CelticFest is a family-oriented event, and all CHS events are open to the public.

CelticFest’s sponsors include: Fenian’s Irish Pub, Guinness, Cabot Lodge Millsaps, Branch Cable, Wine & Spirits in the Quarter, the Jackson Irish Dancers. This project is also funded in part by a grant from the Mississippi Arts Commission, a state agency and by the Southern Arts Federation in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts and the Mississippi Arts Commission.

Art Therapy: A Definition

This weekend at the Celtic Fest in Jackson,  was an extraordinary weekend.  I met so many fascinating and artistic people. One of the many interesting people I met was Dianne Stefanick, an intelligent and beautiful volunteer worker for the festival.  She is also an art therapist with a very impressive resume.  I’ve long believed in the healing, redemptive, and creative power of art, and talking to her helped solidify my beliefs about that. What follows is an article she gave me defining art therapy.


Art Therapy is the therapeutic use of art making. within a professional relationship, by people who experience illness, trauma, or challenges in living, and by people who seek personal development.  Through creating art and reflecting on the art products and processes, people can increase awareness of self and others cope with symptoms, stress, and traumatic experiences; enhance cognitive abilities; and enjoy the life-affirming pleasure of making art

Art Therapists are professionals trained in both art and therapy.  They are knowledgeable about human development, psychological theories, clinical practices, spiritual, multicultural and artistic traditions, and the healing potential of art.  They use art in treatment, assessment, and research, and provide consultations to allied professionals.  Art therapist works with people of all ages: individuals, couples, families, groups and communities.   They provide services, individually and as a part of clinical teams, in settings that include mental health, rehabilitation, medical and forensic institutions: community outreach programs; wellness centers; schools; nursing homes; corporate structures; open studios and independent practices.

The American Art Therapy Association, Inc. (ATTA) sets educational, professional, and ethical standards for its members.  The Art Therapy Credentials Board, Inc. (ATCB), an independent organization, grants credentials.  Registration ( ATR) is granted upon completion of graduate education and post-graduate supervised experience.  Board Certification (ATR-BC) is granted to Registered Art Therapist who passes a written examination, and is maintained through continuing education.  Some states regulate the practice of art therapy and in many states art therapist can become licensed as counselors or mental health therapists.

Report from Celtic Fest Mississippi in Jackson 2008

This has been an overwhelming and wonderful experience, with little sleep. The Scottish Alphabet book is selling well. Tom and I have performed three times, and we have one more to go today. I did two story-telling music sessions, and have one to go. There will be many photos of this event. So many talented musicians and dancers, so many fascinating people. Here are three photos to get thoughts on this event started.

The first photo is of me last March, doing storytelling in Baton Rouge, LA. Though not connected with this present festival in Jackson, it is one of my doing storytelling on stage.

baton rouge08

The second photo is of me with volunteer workers of the Northeast Louisiana Celtic Society.

NELA Celtic Fest Workers

The workers are Tina, Rhonda, Amanda, & Gloria. They worked so hard to promote the society and W. Monroe’s upcoming Celtic Festival.

Guinness, along with Fenian’s Pub and Cabot Lodge (where I’m staying in Jackson), is one of the official hosts. Here are the Guinness Girls, whose task was to promote Guinness by photo ops.

guinness workers

Weekend Plans

This weekend I’ll be performing and storytelling at the Celtic Fest Mississippi in Jackson. My friend Tom and I (we call ourselves Angus Dubhghall) are performing 4 times, at 11 p.m. Friday, 10 a.m. and 10 p.m. Saturday; and at 11:30 a.m. on Sunday. I’m also scheduled to do storytelling and music 11:30 a.m.n and 4:00 p.m. Saturday, and 3:30 p.m. on Sunday. I’ll also be showing and signing my new Scottish Alphabet children’s book. I checked Ingram and orders for the book have been pouring in!  Needless to say, I’ll be very busy this weekend. You can find the site for this fabulous festival here.  I hope you explore the site. You can download a schedule, and you can view other festival participants. I’ll have my laptop with me (we’re supposed to be in the Cabot Lodge in downtown Jackson) so I’ll try to post some news and pics of the festival. I am looking forward to hearing and meeting some of these Celtic celebrities who will be performing!  There should be tons of Celtic crafts as well.

Puritan Laws & I Made the News!

At ULM I’m teaching ENG 205, American Literature till 1865. This is the first time I’ve taught the course,  and I’m both enjoying and learning more than I expected. One focal point in my studies (possibly perverse and indicative of serious personality and pathological problems) is my fascination with the Puritans. Maybe it’s my religious upbringing. Maybe it was the bad experiences I had as an adult with a certain religious group in New York City. Anyway, currently I’m attempting to help my students understand the mindset and world of the Puritans. For example, here are some notes on Puritan laws I’ll be presenting. If you teach Arthur Miller’s The Crucible in high school or college, you may want to use this list. The information was gleaned from a variety of sources.

Examples of Puritan Laws: (There are so many more, but these should give you insights into their thinking)

1. Beachcombing is illegal.
2.Hunting ducks is illegal. (If you’re a bad shot, they thought you would waste resources and time)
3. Drama/theatre, erotic poetry, and religious music, gambling, are banned. (Remember, these are the ones who closed down Shakespeare’s theatre.)
4. Any form of idleness or laziness. (Yawn . . . I’m sorry! I’m sorry!)
5. Swearing, sleeping during sermons, skipping church will be punished.
6. Long hair will not be tolerated. (Must be why the Cavalier Poets fought with Charles I. I would NOT like the Roundhead Puritan haircut! You can see a painting of a Roundhead here:
7. Gluttony is forbidden.
8. Religious instruction is required for all, as well as public fasting, austere living, and evening curfew. (According to one town’s records, a man was imprisoned for three days for smiling during a baptism.)
Entertainments, theaters, festivals, were banned and the Puritans prescribed the death penalty for sex outside of marriage. Lord Macaulay said the Puritans “hated bear-baiting, not because it gave pain to the bear, but because it gave pleasure to the spectators.” The Puritans also opposed dancing, drinking, card playing, gambling, listening to certain types of music, reading novels or poetry, rolling dice, going to horse races, wearing jewelry and makeup, or having thoughts relating to sexual pleasure.
9.The celebration of Christmas was even forbidden in Massachusetts on pain of a five-shilling fine. In England, the Puritan Parliament “prohibited the observance of Christmas, Easter, Whitsunday, saints’ days and holy days.”
8. All work, play, brewing, and travel were forbidden on Sunday (which they called the Sabbath). There was even a debate on whether a man could be rescued from a well on that day. Folks were punished for picking strawberries, playing cards, smoking, and sailing. In 1670, a couple was brought to trial for “sitting together on the Lord’s Day under an apple tree.” Sex on Sunday was out of the question. This was particularly a problem for children born on Sunday, because Puritans believed that people were born on the same day on which they were conceived. Sunday-born children were sometimes denied baptism for this reason. A minister name Israel Loring was very strict in this regard until his own wife gave birth to twins on a Sunday.

Punishments for violating Puritan laws included fines, imprisonment, pillory, stocks, whipping, hanging, tar and feathering, ears being cut off, occasionally burning, and once in America, a man was drawn and quartered, ducking stool (reserved for women who gossip or ridicule their husbands) and humiliation (wearing letters indicating your crime etc.,) and even a hot awl through your tongue if you spoke against religion.

A Small Rant Against Puritanism

Existing Sunday Blue Laws are a hangover from those Puritan days. So is our government’s and society’s compulsion to create laws AGAINST everything. The mountain of laws we create in our effort to legislate morality is a control and power issue as well as a tax/fund-raising strategy. The ideas we promote of inflicting humiliation and increasingly more severe punishments are straight out of this dark Puritan mindset. Such thinking is just an excuse to  justify cruelty against our fellow human beings. While we may not want a theocracy like the Puritans did, the Big Brother-ocracy of Big Government many want is just as bad a replacement. (Please read Orwell’s novel, 1984 if you haven’t.) Such a mindset was repulsive and ineffective then, and it will be today as well.

I Made the News!

Well, I somehow made the news again. Read about it here: