something to ponder – 2017 #23

We have lived in our house for 12 years. We love the floor plan, the location, the neighbors, and the size of the yard. We have made it our own (after a lot of work). It is HOME.


All our bedrooms are upstairs. It is not an issue for us now, but our fourteen-year-old dog has some problems with the stairs. And one day we may, too.

We have been blessed to be able to “build” (have built for us) three houses. And we have also renovated three other houses that were built by someone else (including where we live now). Each had its challenges, and its rewards.

It isn’t time for us to make a move, and we aren’t considering it right now. (Good thing, since property values are so very high and prohibitive in our area right now.) But every once in a while it does cross our minds.

Here is a renovated home for sale in our area:

There is such a sense of place, and history, and established trees, and the pleasure of preservation, and carrying forward – all are involved with bringing an older house back to life.

Here is a newer home that is also for sale:

The builders have chosen a classic style with current detailed touches and an open floor plan. It speaks of roots, and being established, and sturdy materials, and practical usefulness.

Which one appeals more to you?

don’t I wish – SOLC 2017 #22

A bad habit is developing in the evenings at our house. I have been eating a small (truly very small) dish of vanilla bean ice cream. It is plain and natural and soothing to my digestion. There are (I reason with myself) much worse things that I could be consuming.

But it is becoming a habit.

Yet I continue almost every night.

To make things worse, now I am wishing for a topping. Not just any topping, but one remembered from my past. Something that isn’t made anymore. I can see it, smell it, almost taste it now. But I can never eat it again.

PDQ – Pretty Darn Quick – was a mix of flavored beads and chips that could be mixed with milk or sprinkled over ice cream. The chocolate milk was good – but oh! – that ice cream! Crunchy, chocolatey morsels that added just the right amount of interest and delight to plain vanilla ice cream. PDQ was made by Ovaltine, but it was discontinued in the late 1990’s. I have missed it for a long time.

It also came in strawberry and eggnog flavors. I never tasted either of those. I never wanted to! But the eggnog mix had many fans, including my father.

Here is some interesting news I discovered while searching for a picture:

The closest thing available now is Benco Instant Choco Drink which is manufactured in The Netherlands and sold in Europe.  It tastes very similar to the PDQ Chocolate drink mixes.

And it apparently can be purchased on E-bay. Maybe I’ll try to get some…

I guess sometimes wishes really can come true!


resilience – SOLC 2017 #21

The Bradford pear tree does not enjoy the favored stature that it once had.

There was a time when people planted them everywhere and couldn’t get enough of their lacy white blooms and beautiful oval shape. A neighboring community was just developing its town center back then and planted these trees all over, knowing they would grow quickly and fill out symmetrically.  They even had a spring Pear Festival in their honor.

Now they have fallen from that favor and are dismissed, even disgraced, for their smelly aroma and their tendency to split and break apart over time.

Some, however, seem stronger than others. Maybe they are a different variety, or were planted in better soil, or are out of harm’s way when the winds blow through. This tree-lined driveway takes my breath away when viewed with sunlight pouring through its newborn blossoms. (I was a little late in snapping a photo this year.)

On one side of our sloping lake property these Bradford pears prove that some CAN withstand the winds that blow.

Bent but not broken. (The trees look better than the fence.)


these are the gifts – SOLC 2017 #20

Today would have been my mother’s 96th birthday. The first day of spring will always be her birthday in my heart.

My mother was the epitome of so many beliefs, talents, and dreams:

* joy in the little things

* creativity

* knowing how to be a friend

* generosity

* a loving and enduring marriage

* enthusiasm

* an eye for decorating

* discernment

* a flair for fashion

* intelligence

* a talent for teaching others

* laughter

* determination to do a task right

* LIFE! *

* love *

*** always so much LOVE ***

There are bits and pieces of her life reflected in mine. Most are mere aspirations on my part for these higher, nobler traits that defined her life.

The models and the memories are the gifts my mother gave to me.

I have missed her so much these last 14 years.

But her gifts live on.

a good news text – SOLC 2017 #19

As a classroom teacher I often found myself dwelling in the minutiae of reading instruction – small groups, centers, checklists, notebooks, grades.  My students did absorb some of the joy of reading that is so vital, but, sadly, never enough.

Too many details to attend to. Both as a teacher, and as students, too.

It was a gift when I was able to serve as a reading specialist for the last ten years of my career. Time to focus on reading as thinking, and strategies, and rich literature.  Learning how to spread this joy to students.  Ways to help teachers be able to use all this – and more.

Balanced literacy was the guiding light for our system to bring real reading experiences into our classrooms and into the minds and hearts of our students.

The tragedy came when a new director of schools came and enforced his backward-thinking regulations into our schools and tried to take so much of that joy away.

Those of us who believed in doing the right thing and couldn’t let our students slip back into a reading routine that couldn’t be internalized carried on. Quietly, but with conviction. Supportive, but with determination.

So many excellent teachers in my school kept the faith. It was my joy to help them carry on.

After my retirement, a new reading “coach” was hired. Lacking background, data driven, and absorbed with a demanding personal life. Concerned about keeping her position. Not much support for the teachers who wanted more than the basal party line. But I was gone from there, and there was little I could do.

And so … my heart sang when I received this text from a teacher who still “carries on” :

I think of you when we read those rich literature stories- scarlet stocking spy, train to somewhere, swamp 😇… better than the basal!!!!

Bless her!  How fortunate her students are.

How this message made me smile.

this is good – SOLC 2017 #18

One night last fall, after my husband had gone to bed, I saw the last half of a TV show that caught my attention from the first moment. Entering the plot halfway through confused me, and drew my focus as I tried to figure out who was who and how they all related to one another.

It turned out to be the first show of “This Is Us.” Luckily I had recorded it, so I could go back to the beginning and watch it all.

I was hooked.

I tried to get my husband to watch other weeks with me. He declared it too depressing. He deals with lots of real world angst daily. And he wasn’t willing to watch through the whole show to see the resolution that always comes.

(For some reason we did watch the season finale together and he was a teary mess at the end.In a good way.)

I am thankful for the writers and producers and actors and whoever else is responsible for taking the messy lives these characters have created (as we all do) and finding the redemption that is always there if you are willing to work through the hard parts.

Just like real life

Today’s paper had a review of the show’s season that said, “It can be a bit too eager to surprise and a lot too tidy in its circularity and its urge to wrap things up with a speech and a lesson.”

I for one am so grateful for that very thing.

The review went on to offer praise for other aspects of the show. But the review of critics is only one small reason for this show’s success this year.

The bigger reason is that it speaks to the heart. In the good times and bad.

Yes. This is ALL of us.

a special treasure – SOLC 2017 #17

Written to a friend after having breakfast together:

What a delightful morning I spent with you yesterday. Thank you for giving me the first few hours of your Spring Break. I hope you enjoy every minute of these days off as much as I enjoyed my time with you.

I am so very thankful that we share such a special friendship. Even though our backgrounds are so different, and we don’t see each other now as much as we once did, we know each other’s hearts, and that is where the true knowing lies.

I hope we can visit again soon, and I know that whenever that happens, we can take up right where we left off as if no time had passed.

Your friendship is a special treasure to me.