no time to write

I haven’t had time to write lately.

I have been busy at school reviewing with students for our state testing. I have planned and led 3 study group sessions about Common Core. I have worked on the last quarter of read aloud lessons for each grade.

But I haven’t had time to write.

A group of friends is having a party this weekend for the daughter of another friend who is getting married. I have helped spearhead that group, sending emails, leading a planning meeting, renting tables and linens, picking a group gift, coordinating our efforts.

But I haven’t had time to write.

We visited our son one (last?) time in Oxford, MS, where he is an engineering student and (hopefully ?) graduating this semester. We had a wonderful visit in a literary town and spent some very good times together.

But I haven’t had time to write.

For better or for worse, I am in two book clubs. I have kept up with my reading in both and have even read two extra books, just because.  And I have kept fairly up-to-date with reading the daily papers so I can be an informed citizen. Plus I am almost caught up on my monthly magazine reading (and looking).

But I haven’t had time to write.

There’s much fodder in all these experiences, and stories waiting to be told… There’s a tale about a student whose true self gets lost in data, and another about the joys of having friends with whom you can celebrate life’s milestones. There’s one about seeing your children reach their own milestones, and yet another about the soul of a small town, and one more about what books are speaking to me.

But I haven’t had time to write.

By that I mean I haven’t had the time to sort through my thoughts about all these valuable pieces of my life. And I haven’t taken the time to choose just the right phrases from all the words in the world to find the exact ones that capture the settings and the characters and my impressions.

But I WILL find time to write.

Meanwhile, I read a very short piece that moved me greatly. Yes, I am quoting his words exactly. A friend’s sister posted a picture on Facebook showing the two of them as very young children, sitting on the porch with their mother. His reply told her information that she, being the younger sibling, didn’t even remember, although she had always cherished the picture.

(How many pictures have those stories hiding inside that can only be uncovered by the background knowledge of just the right person? But I digress…)

Anyway, here are his well-chosen words that spoke to me:

“We are sitting on the porch of our house on McKree (off Grand Ave.) in St. Louis. Me, my sister, and my mom. We lived there until I was six. What you see behind us is the porch of the next house. And if you look further you can see the porch of the next house. Three story houses close together for blocks. We lived here while dad went to school at Wash. U. The man who lived in the house next door was my best friend. His name was Jess Lukenbill. He was in his 90s and lived with his daughter Bess. Bess’s husband Walter died on a Saturday morning. We were all supposed to go to the zoo that day. We didn’t go. Funny what sticks.”

Thank you, friend, for taking the time to write this down. Thank you for sharing this writing piece that spoke to me enough that I took the time (finally!) to write some thoughts about not finding the time to write. And enough to make me realize what’s missing in myself when I don’t take that time. This is important – the memories, the reflections, the life found in this short story.  Thank you, friend, for your valuable words.

And so I did find the time to write. Sometimes you just have to.

positive and negative

Our son is a civil engineering major, and he describes his classes as something off the Big Bang Theory. At least it seems that way to me. And as part of his last semester before graduating he is taking a required electrical engineering class. Although he has done quite well with his college career, this course is giving him a hard time.

I don’t really understand much about wires and circuits, but my husband learned a lot about all this from his grandfather. Together they would wire buildings and such. But when our son describes what he is learning even my husband shakes his head.

So my point in all this is to say that I know electricians are smart people. They have to have a basic understanding of so many things and also a practical knowledge of making things work. I know I couldn’t do it, and I wouldn’t want to try.

What I don’t understand is the lack of consistency I see in light switches and plugs. We have had various electricians do work for us throughout our lives, both in new houses we have built and in older structures we have remodeled. Thankfully we have had professional work done every time.

Yet we have never had electric plugs that have the grounding hole routinely at the top or the bottom. This really isn’t a big deal, and I don’t notice it unless I am going from room to room with the vacuum cleaner.  But still, why can’t they all go the same way? Is that too much to ask?

And if there is ever more than one light switch in the same location, why can’t the switches be in the same place as the lights. The closer switch should control the closer light, don’t you think? Or the one on top should control the ceiling lights, and the one on the bottom could control the wall plugs.

Perhaps there is so much other information to consider that this just slips their mind. I am truly grateful that we have never had any issues with the wiring or the circuits. So like I said, maybe it isn’t that important – but it would make life a little easier for common folk like me.

azalea trails and tales

When we bought our house at the lake, the yard had been unattended for some time. There was a forest of azaleas in the front, covered with vines and filled with dead limbs and branches. They lined a path through the front yard, and were also found in other spots here and there.

They flowered beautifully in the spring, but they were unhealthy and destined to become even worse.


So I took it upon myself to trim them back. It was a huge job, but our neighbors thanked us afterwards because it looked so much better.


There were some empty spaces along the path so last year we decided to plant some new azaleas to fill in these spots. Our children came and we worked all weekend to plant twenty three new azaleas and several other bushes in the rocky ground.

I watered them faithfully throughout the spring. They, too, flowered beautifully, but they were so small it looked like a cemetery with that many spots of color close to the ground. And when the drought came in June, they all dried up. Every one of them.

This spring my husband and son have taken out many of the rotting timbers that someone long ago spent hours placing down the path and around trees in the yard. I am sure they were nice at one time but it looks so much better without them there now.  As we were doing this we also moved thirteen established azaleas to fill in places along the path.

Hopefully these transplants will take root and in a few years they will be blooming beautifully and healthily again. If we work hard and are blessed by the forces of nature, one day our yard may be a small reflection of another place at our lake. This spot, called “Lollypop,” has a gorgeous azalea garden which shines even on a cloudy day.







southern women

I was reading an article called Southern Women and after I finished I told my husband that I loved what the author, Allison Glock, had to say. The problem, as I saw it, was that not all women in the south act this way anymore. Along with pointing out, among many other things, that we southern women always send handwritten thank you notes, the author also says:

To be born a Southern woman is to be made aware of your distinctiveness. And with it, the rules. The expectations. These vary some, but all follow the same basic template, which is, fundamentally, no matter what the circumstance, Southern women make the effort.

Oh, yeah. This may explain why everything I try to do is more time consuming than I want it to be. I just can’t do things half-way, it seems. And now I know why. I was born that way. Allison Glock also says:

Southern women are willing to give, be it time, hugs, or advice about that layabout down the road. Southern women listen and we talk and we laugh without apology. We are seldom shocked. Not really.

This is also true, and I am thankful for the friends I have who do all these things. And I can pick out a true southern woman just by sight and sound. I know the lady at the neighboring table at that restaurant last night could be my friend, just by overhearing what she had to say.

So when I complained to my husband that just being a woman in the south doesn’t guarantee all these attributes anymore, he pointed out two things. One, that not everyone that lives here was born and raised here, and two, my mother raised me to be this kind of lady.

And that is so very true. My mother was just this kind of southern woman – and she passed it on. And I believe my daughter has these becoming attributes as well. To say that I am thankful for this would be quite an understatement. All of these characteristics that are ingrained in me make me who I am, and push me to become who I want to be.

And so the author, a southern woman who has lived away from her homeland, is moving back to the south. As she says: Before I know it, my girls will be grown. And they will be Southern women too. And that, I believe, will have made all the difference.

Yes, it does make quite a difference. And yet it seems to be the road less traveled, too. Even in the south we need more mothers like mine, being signposts along the route to give directions towards “the better way.”

My mother passed away ten years ago today. I had to look it up to be sure of the date, because I remember her life and her influence so much more than her death. She was a true southern woman – enthusiastic, creative, fun-loving, and the best mother a girl could have. And because of the legacy she gave me, she lives on – she always will.


Change is on its way.

I noticed this weekend that the limbs on the trees for the most part were still bare, still drawing and outlining their unique shapes across the sky.

But I could see that the change is coming.

Some trees looked all furry with countless bumps of anticipation, making them look like a fuzzy bottle brush anxious to get to work scrubbing winter’s cares away.

Other trees had tiny leaves that were already big enough so that I could see their baby shapes, making a statement about who they are, deep down inside, and who they are going to be.

A few trees were already covered with leaves that have that glorious spring green color  – the tint that blurs the hard lines of branches and seems to shimmer in the light, leading the way for others to follow.

Change is in the air.

The warm days and bright sun that have finally pushed the cold and clouds away have started something big here. And there’s no turning back.

I took two pictures from one day to the next, and yes, you could see the difference.

I think if I stood real still I could see it happen in real time, too.

Change is here.

Spring, the season of being surrounded by miracles. I don’t want to miss a single one.

long time gone

Last week when I did some spring cleaning I found many things that I had not seen in quite some time, including some music that had gotten tucked away and forgotten.

Today I listened to an old favorite CD. There is such talent there – vocal, instrumental, and lyrical. It was a joy to hear these songs again, and it made my slow trip in heavy traffic much more bearable.

So it was a trip back on memory lane to hear this music again. The songs reminded me of a fun summer season from the past, a different house we lived in then, a distant friend, another time.

And one song took on a whole new meaning to me, considering different life circumstances that have occurred since I last heard this music.

Now those tunes are rumbling around in my head. I hope I don’t forget about them again.