wrapping it up

Being a proud Southerner through and through, I took Southern Living’s online quiz, “How Southern Are You?”

Not surprisingly, I am “eat up with it.”

I feel blessed to have grown up with these experiences (and more) that define our region:

  • double names
  • fireflies in Mason jars
  • saying bless your heart
  • monogrammed stationery
  • tailgating in the Grove
  • calling my mother mama
  • crawfish boils
  • shelling peas on the porch
  • seersucker
  • camo
  • scheduling weddings around football season
  • knowing Shelby’s “blush” and “bashful” colors in Steel Magnolias

We were introduced to some of the things that I checked off by our children, so the tradition continues.

Talking with each other and telling tales are other Southern traditions. I wish I were a better oral storyteller, but I am so thankful to have the opportunity to use some of those gifts as I write. Sometimes I feel like the words that people share can wrap themselves around you and make you feel understood, and noticed, and loved. A gift indeed.

And I know the real color and warmth in us, as a people, is not in the landscape or the sky but in our language, the way we lean the words against each other. We are the best-spoken people on earth, not in the realm of grammar, perhaps, but in the pictures we paint and hang on the air. Rick Bragg

The March Slice of Life Challenge has been invigorating and exhausting, encouraging and frustrating. But most of all it has given me the opportunity to follow my dream and answer my calling. To write.

Thank you Two Writing Teachers for this wonderful opportunity. Thank you, commenters, for taking time to stop by and share a friendly touch with your words. It has been a fast ride this year. And a good one, too.

I hope we’ll all see each other again on Tuesdays when the weekly Slice of Life Challenge continues. Wow – that’s tomorrow. No rest for the weary, as my mother used to say…


It was a surprise in our conservatively styled town when this house turned up a bright blue.

blue house

I had noticed that an older lady lives here, so that made the intense shade even more unanticipated. Even the garage makes a statement.

blue car garage

Upon closer examination I saw a familiar looking car. It reminded me of a favorite picture book, The Old Woman Who Named Things by Cynthia Rylant.

old woman who named

Now I am filled with wonder. What other similarities are there? Most importantly, does my neighbor need a friend?


This house is on my route when I walk into town. Maybe someday I’ll stop in and pay a visit.

the determination of spring

Today’s weather has not been very spring-like. We have not seen the sun at all. Even after the pouring rain ceased, the clouds and dampness never went away. There is snow on the plateau just off to the east. The day started out chilly, and it has gotten colder as the day and evening have progressed.

But this time there is something different…


The grass is greening.

The buds on the bushes are growing every day.

The fruit trees and daffodils are blooming.

The foliage on the lilies lengthens and thickens each day.


Despite this cold and nasty day, the signs of spring are everywhere. They won’t be denied. Or stunted by the cold. Even when the sun hides its face, nature keeps moving along the path to warmer weather, sunny days, and all sorts of new life.

For these and all Your gifts, Lord, we thank you.

a trip to bountiful

I attended a play in one of our community theaters with my book club last night. One of our members was in the play, The Trip to Bountiful. When we arrived and got settled, I took this picture and sent it to my husband with the caption, “waiting for the play to start.”

pull tight bountiful

Pretty simple, don’t you think? Pull-Tight Players perform in a former church. It is quite a small space, with limited seating, a mere three rows deep along only two walls of the building. There’s no curtain to rise and fall or shield the audience from set changes, but the lights dim well and the actors are good at moving things around in the dark.

The actors are also very good at acting. They transformed this simple set, and I strongly felt like I  was a part of the lives of the characters they portrayed. And they do it for love, not fame, and certainly not money. They have talent, and determination, and dedication to their craft.

Last night I was transported from a rainy night in Franklin, Tennessee, back in time to a tiny apartment, a train ride, a small town jail, and a beautiful sunny day in Bountiful, Texas. I could hear the redbirds chirp (provided by sound effects), and smell the wind off the gulf (all in my mind). The full moon was huge and glowing over it all.

I left feeling that I had made new acquaintances of the characters – such seemingly real people who had let me inside their lives and souls for a few minutes. And my tears at the end were heartfelt. Kudos to all community minded actors who give their time and talent to spreading culture and class, and to making our towns better places to live.

musical memories

Summer Project:

Load my CD’s into iTunes and get up-to-date on accessing and listening to music in the 21st century!

Meanwhile, I went through some of those CD’s the other day and “organized” them. Meaning I chose the ones I hadn’t listened to in a while that caught my eye and stacked about five in my car for the road.

The first one I played was an oldie made up of songs played on the old TV show, Dawson’s Creek. I remember how taken our daughter was with this show, and how smitten she was with some of the characters. At first I didn’t encourage her to watch it at all. Then I saw it a couple of times and got interested myself.

Such angst! So many “tragic” problems. Lots of young love. My daughter was just coming of age then (and our son thought he was) and so, as I remember, the show prompted several discussions around our house. We watched it regularly and were sad to see it end. Well, actually it got a little strange toward the last part of its run so we longed for the good ol’ days before it officially ended.

Some songs on the CD I had not heard in quite some time. Some I remembered word for word, others just in parts. But listening to it took me to another place and time. It reminded me how much our family members had changed since then.

I also thought about the changes in the lives of some of the stars. Katie Holmes has certainly had an interesting life with and now without Tom Cruise, and James Van Der Beek (Dawson himself, with thicker hair) is in the cast of a new show slated to start next week.

Funny how a melody sounds like a memory… wait, that’s from another song, but it is oh, so true.

a new perspective

I was up early this morning, running an errand before heading to a meeting before school.

I drove along a familiar route, though it is one I do not normally travel at this time of day. The sun was just coming up to shine its light on the scene from the opposite side of the sky.

It’s amazing what a different perspective can do to your vision. Trees that are usually in shadow were spotlighted. Angles became distinctive, landscapes were unique, and my point of view was changed.

Sometimes it’s a really good thing to view things another way. It sheds a whole new light on things.


weather forecast:

returning cold; strong winds to follow

snowflakes falling, little if any accumulation

below freezing again – tonight

protect those plants


school forecast:

analyzing data; numbers first, then names

results varied, little if any of a true picture

more tests to come – almost every day

protect those students

monday again

Amazing how time flies when you are away from work. Last week’s spring break went so quickly! It was a wonderful week, filled with family time, chores completed, books read, delicious meals, visits with friends, writing and reading in the Slice of Life challenge, and some beautiful weather to enjoy.

I am well planned for the week ahead and I will be glad to see my students again. And I’ll be anxious to see friends and learn all about their week, too.

But it sure is hard to muster up the get-up-and-go I need to make it a good day. Yes, last night I felt like this little fellow, ending not just a weekend but a week-long break as well:

Monday again

I am not sure where this came from, so I am only including a part – but the caption is “Tomorrow is Monday again!”

Yes, A Monday that brings new opportunities, smiling faces, and hope.

New challenges – with new solutions – and grace.

Family, friends, and love.

Have a great day!

report from the lake

It was a beautiful day today and we drove to our cabin at the lake. The forsythias greeted us there.


So did the buttercups, beneath a clear blue sky.


The porch swing beckoned us to come and sit a spell, just relax and unwind.

porch swing

But that was not why we came. There were many things we could have done and enjoyed at home, but we had no choice but to go. On Friday evening when we opened the day’s mail, we received a notice from the electric company that our power had been disconnected. Turned off 10 days earlier because our payment was” late”.

Even though we mailed it on time, just as usual.  Even though we have been reliable customers for years. Even though no one called or emailed or anything, just cut the power off. The only reason we got the letter was to say that they received our payment after stopping our service, but to have power restored we had to pay $250. Then on Saturday’s mail we received a bill for this month’s service, dated three days after the power was stopped, with no mention of the disconnection.


There’s no one in the office to speak with until Monday. Tomorrow we will have a lot to say. But today we drove there to check on things, empty the refrigerator, and run the gas logs for a while to add warmth to the house for a cold night ahead.

We were shocked to see that the power had literally been cut off – the lines were sliced in two.


But we were blessed as well. Everything was in good shape. The water from the bagged ice that had melted had collected in a bin at the bottom of the freezer (rather than running out on the floor). Nothing else seemed to be a concern. It was a beautiful day to travel, and the house was warmed by the sun.

Still, this is no way to do business. Right now there are so many questions.We will definitely be seeking answers.

a (real good) change in routine

A weekly rendezvous –

friends sharing time at the local bakery

reviewing the week, talking shop

telling of joys and concerns.


The usual order each time –

scrambled eggs (add cheddar), oatmeal toast

a small cup of coffee in a to-go cup

always the same for me.


My friend has tried it all –

breakfast sandwiches, croissants,

sausage, egg, and cheese biscuits

– and add a sweet pastry on the side.


(These choices are good for us both –

I am always trying to eat less,

She needs to eat all she can

yet the sweet’s always offered for sharing.)


This week I broke from routine –

ordered the scone instead of the toast

raspberry filling called my name

too much goodness to resist.


Disappointment upon a close look –

blackberry filling for sure

I can’t stand all those seeds

knew I should’ve stuck with the toast.


Just a nibble for me, but wait –

the soft crumbles, the white chocolate chips

the icing to hold it together…

who cares about a few seeds?


Now one more little bite, and another,

indescribably delicious, and then

suddenly there’s almost nothing left

wishing for a few more scrumptious bites.

scone gone

Back to routine next week

the toast will be just as delicious

and the memory of other goodness

will make for another great breakfast together.


Yesterday I wore my new tennis shoes.

All. Day. Long.   The longer I wore them the better my feet felt.

I still can’t believe it. And of course I am wearing them again today!

This is remarkable for me because I have feet that often hurt. I can’t wear most shoes. They hurt the ball of my foot, or they rub my heel, or they pinch my toes. Or they don’t give support to my very high arch.

These new shoes are amazing!

I bought them back in the late fall when I also purchased some tan walking shoes. I got those because I was tired of wearing white tennis shoes in the winter. (Even though I don’t often wear stylish shoes, I do not like wearing white shoes in the fall and winter.)

Those tan walking shoes (yes, they are really tennis shoes in disguise) were very comfortable and I wore them more than I probably should have.  But I can get so much more done at school when my feet don’t hurt.

Like yesterday. Those new tennis shoes helped me be much more productive around the house!

So I have adjusted to life with frumpy shoes, trading cute feet for comfort and joy. I have short term wear shoes for dressier occasions, and I have found a few pairs that have some bit of style for all day school wear.  But there’s a part of me that cringes when I think about what my shoes look like.

Then I saw this ad in the paper:


That’s the name of their store. I wonder what is really inside? Could I dare to believe that there is truth in advertising these days? Should I even halfway think that it is possible to have cute AND comfy shoes?

There’s nothing left to do but go there and find out. I have a feeling these shoes could be pricey. But that’s OK. If the store name is true (if the shoe fits…) it will be SO worth it!

breath of spring

Today is my mother’s birthday. She would have been 93 this year. She couldn’t have been born on a more appropriate day.

Mama was light, and mirth, and joy. She was happiness, enthusiasm, and energy.

She was creative, and stylish, and young at heart – even when she was old.

My mother was a breath of fresh air, an encourager, and a promoter.

She was loyalty, and determination, and depth.


Happy Birthday, Mama. Thank you for bringing the new life of Spring into our lives all year long, and throughout all your years. I love you.

spring magic

Tomorrow is the first day of spring, but lately it doesn’t seem like spring. It has been cold, and gloomy, and blustery, and wet. Ugh! Now, finally, the weather has taken a turn for the better today. And so have my spirits.

Seems I have to have visual and other proof that spring really is on the way. And once I get a taste of it I think there’s no turning back to winter allowed. Shame on me.

I should know that change takes time. And it rarely moves in a constant forward march. There are stops and starts, a few curves and switchbacks, and sometimes second thoughts. But still, change is taking place.

The birds know spring is coming. They are here in larger numbers, searching for nest building materials, singing their songs. The grass knows it, too, gradually sprouting and turning green.

The buttercups know the seasons are turning. They are blooming and glowing even on the cloudy days. The lilies are sending up their green leaves, and the trees are budding, despite the cold.

Nature doesn’t have – or need – a calendar to know that winter is packing and getting ready to leave. I should know it, too. Instead of grousing about the remnants of the cold, I should dwell on all the signs that spring is on the way.

Remembering that change takes time, I’ll be patient yet confident that the miracles of new life are happening all around me. That’s the magic – and the mystery – of spring.

book club night

Today is the first day of Spring Break (yahoo!!), and St. Paddy’s Day (the luck of the Irish to ye!).

Also, tonight is Book Club night.

I have been sharing good reads with these friends for several years now. Along the way we have shared many life events as well – graduations, children’s engagements, new houses, children’s marriages, grandbabies, new jobs, and retirements. It is a joy to know each other so well.

Here’s a picture from a book club meeting last summer. It’s just part of the group resting on the screened porch of a friend’s lake house where we met for that month’s book club (and fun!).

book club

We are a small group, but very consistent and regular in attendance. We try to read a variety of books, and it is usually easy to know who will like (and dislike) the choices we make, even before we meet again to discuss them.

Tonight we will talk about Anna Quindlen’s Still Life with Bread Crumbs. I started it late (over the weekend), read it quickly and was sad when it ended. I liked it a lot. I’m pretty sure we’ll all be in agreement on that.  But we’ll find out for sure tonight.

still life quindlen

Reading a book is never complete to me now until I can talk about it with someone. I am sure I will gain some new insights as we talk. And our book discussions always lead right into life conversations, too.

This group has broadened my reading horizons, and as a result I have read and enjoyed several books that I would have never chosen myself. And sometimes the incidental recommendations of other books that members have read have also led to some remarkable reads.

Me Before You by JoJo Moyes was one such book. Two of my book club friends had read it and raved about it, but when I went home and Amazoned it (don’t think that’s a word – yet?), I thought, “Uh, no!”  Yet I also read a few reviews, and based mostly on my friends recommendation I read it. Though quite a challenging subject, it was just as good as they said.

Me Before You

Now I am already wondering what we will decide to read next month!

What are YOU reading these days?

worshipful words

This morning at church we sang songs with lots of words. Not the choruses with repeated phrases, not the tunes with one line sung over and over – loudly, softly, slowly, and fast.

We sang old hymns, some with newer tunes, and we sang new songs as well. All these selections – every one of them – had lots of things to think about in their lyrics.

On top of that, today’s song leader had a beautiful voice and sang the offertory with such feeling and expression that I was totally caught up in the moment. That, too, was a reverent and worshipful experience.

I told my husband I was going to talk to our worship leader after the service and thank her for choosing this type of music for today. “Really?” he said. “She needs to hear it.” I replied.

As I spoke with her, I said that as a reading specialist and as a writer I believed in the value, and the message, and the worshipfulness of words.

We all worship in different ways, and our God is large enough to accept all our heartfelt adoration. What’s great is when the activities focus on Him, not on us, and make us mindful of how great a God we serve.

Our God is an awesome God, He reigns from heaven above

With wisdom, power, and love, our God is an awesome God

night light

A surprising late night visitor

peeking in the window

waiting to be noticed


when you’re up that late


A blurred shape somewhat familiar

sharpened edges softened

glowing in the mist


when the clouds allow


A trustworthy night light

lighting fields and valleys

illuminating paths


when the phase is right


A traveler with a known routine

arriving right on time

departing as expected


when you’re keeping track


A mesmerizing sight

stopping other movement

holding thoughts at bay


when you’ve been moonstruck

no more being mean

When my son was younger (think middle and high school age) we would often go round and round about this or that, arguing and fighting about the day’s current crisis, and he would often ask, “Why are you so mean?”

As you can imagine, that question would lengthen our conflict for another short while, but one day it hit me and I answered, “Because you make me that way.” I wasn’t a mean mother and I didn’t want to always be criticizing and finding fault, but his actions and expectations led me in that direction. It was disheartening and very unproductive. Thank goodness that’s now in the past.

I have spent the last thirty-four years as a teacher, and I have truly cherished my career. I feel that it is a calling, and I trust that I have served well.   The students, their progress, my professionalism, varied learning opportunities, competent colleagues – all have enriched this journey and I can honestly say I would have never been as happy doing anything else. I have thrived as a teacher. I am thankful.

Yet currently I am constantly discouraged by practices and beliefs that continue to astonish me: unending assessments, judgments of students on data alone, lack of trust of teachers, scripted lessons, political power plays, reading wars, teacher evaluations dependent on student scores, and impossible demands placed on classroom teachers.

And so I have found myself being in a bad humor, criticizing, and finding fault almost daily. Not because I want to be that way – not because that’s who I really am. But it seems I am always just a little bent out of shape, always slightly miffed about the latest educational concern.  The current state of things is making me mean again.

I seem to think that pointing these things out will bring about a change. I’d like to think that is true, but there’s not much history of that. And it’s spring (almost) and there’s only 44 days left in this school year, and so…

I am choosing to be positive.

This isn’t going to be easy. It is going to have to start as an intentional act, but I am hoping that it will soon become a habit. And to get started, today, I talked with a parent of a child who has gotten lost in the paperwork of assessments. I told her that I would add her to my reading group, and we would work on making her a stronger reader. That made me happy. (It made her mom happy too.)

I’d much rather be the bearer of good tidings rather than being mean all the time. So I’ll start with that, and look forward to finding the good in the days to come.

something to look forward to

When my children were babies I often felt that I would put them down for a nap, and when they woke up I thought I could actually see that they had grown. Just in that small amount of time. And maybe I was right.

These days when I look in the mirror from one morning to the next, I am just as sure that my nose has grown. Why is it that our ears and nose keep growing and start to overtake our faces? That just doesn’t seem fair. But mine is definitely taking up more space than it used to.

My son would say that this is very appropriate, as he thinks I am very “nosey” and that I ask too many questions. The other night he went to eat dinner with my husband and me. I have had a rotten head cold for several days and was not on my regular game. I told him I was sure he missed my interrogation techniques.

And what is up with our teeth moving towards the front as the years go by? Recently I saw a picture of two women who had been very influential in my education years ago. Goodness, this is awful to say, but they had horse faces, with so much teeth exposure. Is that what I have to look forward to?

Last week I had my hair cut and highlighted a bit more than usual. I really like the way it looks, but I remember the deep creases and lines I noticed in my face that showed up in that harsh lighting. Is that how everyone else sees me? Argh!

And yet… I absolutely love my life. I am thankful for the days of usefulness, and those of relaxation. I am grateful for my abilities, and even for my challenges. I so appreciate the friends and family that see past my outside faults and love me in spite of my inside shortcomings as well.