There is such an incredible difference in people between the times that they are filled with discouragement and the times they can see a light at the end of the tunnel shining just for them.

The difference is called hope.

Deflation, discouragement, and despair show in lowered eyes, sagging shoulders, and somber speech.

Energy, excitement, and expectancy radiate in smiles, attention to details, and joyful interactions.

I saw that difference manifested today, in a sweet soul who moved from darkness to light, from failure to belief –

from hopelessness to hope.

Hallelujah! God is so good!

standing out

Ahh, the color of summer!  Over, under, and all around. Lawns blend into foliage into bushes into trees to make a solid canopy of green. 

How things change when fall comes! A sapling you may not have noticed becomes flaming orange – and suddenly sets itself apart. 

The tips – and then the whole – of a burning bush lights up fiery red. 

A small tree shouts, “Look at me!” with bright yellow leaves, after a summer of merely filling in the space. 

Even the shades of tan and chestnut brown distinguish themselves this time of year. 

Yesterday my daughter posted this on Instagram:  “It’s a dreary, rainy Monday, but beautiful, glorious fall has arrived outside the family room window.”

Stand up and take notice!  True colors are shining through!

What happens to make each individual one of these trees become so much more than “one of the masses”? 

Is it the summer of growth experiences, the challenge of colder weather, the encouragement of the warm sun?

What makes each one of us as individuals step out and shine with our own special glow? 

Is it our own growth experiences, our challenges, and warm encouragement from others?

That could well be. We all need the chance to show the world our true selves. 

I see God’s hand in all of these wonders as well. 


Burgers are all the rage these days. Nashville has oodles of burger joints  – Burger Up, The Pharmacy, Burger Republic, and Rotiers to name just a few. 

Pucketts Grocery in Franklin has a fabulous burger, with a special creation featured each month. The pimento cheese burger is always popular. 

Along with cheese (so many kinds!), there are endless condiments for burgers. The traditional fare  is always good when you get to pick what you like best – mayonnaise, mustard, ketchup, lettuce, tomato, onion, and/or pickles.  Bacon, mushrooms, and avocado are commonly offered, too. 

I am a Five Guys fan. I also love Krystal burgers. Most people would say I am not picky – and I would have to agree! But I do know a good burger when I taste one. 

Tonight we had a delicious dinner. We are working on the house at the lake and the local marina has some mighty fine burgers. Comparable to the latest gourmet version any day. 



I am cleaning out my Christmas decorations. I have offered the things I don’t want to my children. They don’t want some of them either. So off to Goodwill they will go!

These things were becoming a burden, and I dreaded getting them out every year. For the past five seasons I decided to “pick and choose” and only used certain things each holiday. But it was time to purge.

There are certain heirlooms I can’t part with, of course. And now I will look forward to decorating with them each year! Plus I hope to go with a more natural look, with real greenery where possible.

I do wish I had some of these vintage ornaments. I saw this picture not long ago of the hand-blown glass globes like my mother had. I wouldn’t part with them for sure. How beautiful they are!

vintage Christmas ornaments

pumpkin / punkin


P    plump and bumpy

U    ubiquitous this time of year

M   mushy on the inside with a sturdy shell

P    pleasing flavors in coffee and muffins

K    kids love to carve faces with snaggle-toothed smiles

I     incandescent glow when candlelit from within

N   now available in a rainbow of colors


P    precious little granddaughter

U   unbelievable how much she has already grown

N   Nan and Pops love her so very much

K   kisses and hugs with her are the best

I    independent, intelligent, inquisitive

N   never knew how much we would love her snaggle-toothed smile


When I left home yesterday morning, I really didn’t think that it would be after 9:00 last night when I was home again and uncommitted with my time. But it was. And I am not complaining.

I had time for a meeting of a community service group, time with my daughter, daughter-in-law and granddaughter, time to take a home tour and get inspiring ideas, and time to begin the weekend together with our little granddaughter. Plus time for a delicious dinner.

The one thing I neglected to take time for (I FORGOT!!) was my writing. It was just a commitment to myself to write each day for the month of October, and truthfully I had gotten a little self-satisfied and proud that I was doing so well.


I missed a day. I’ll post twice today. And all will be well. And even though I was too involved yesterday to remember my promise to myself to write each day, I gained lots of activities and experiences yesterday to write about! That’s part of the writing process, too, I believe.


There was a ribbon cutting for a new road in our town recently.

I live in Franklin, Tennessee, a wonderful community that offers a “blend of modern and historic, with trendy places to shop and eat and attractions that tell the story of the Civil War Battle of Franklin. The historic downtown district is nationally recognized as a Great American Main Street.” (trip advisor)


Franklin is situated near I-65, with the main part of the town west of the interstate. Lots of development is coming in to the east and south of town, but traffic makes those areas hard to access.There are five exits off the interstate traveled by thousands of workers to and from Nashville daily, but the main one is terribly congested many hours of the day. Add to that years of road work to widen the interstate, complicated by a terrible and tragic truck accident that destroyed and delayed a major part of this road project, and you have a big transportation mess.

So, there was a ribbon cutting for a new road in our town recently. A much needed artery that will allow drivers an alternate route when the interstate is clogged. A major boost for the people who live “over there” on the other side of the interstate.

There was nothing for me to do but take a ride and check out the new road – right? So I did, and found that it was done very well. Unfortunately it is only two lanes – not enough money for four – but it is a great connector route.

I was surprised and amazed by all the development that already exists – and much more that is planned along this new road. Houses and more houses, everywhere. And even more land cleared, for even more to come.



With all this coming, it is indeed too bad that the road is only two lanes. It will be congested – like everything else around here – before too long.

Many communities would think this is a great problem to have. And I would have to agree. I haven’t always lived here, but I am glad there was room for our family when we decided to move here fifteen years ago.


My father worked for the railroad all his life. His father before him did that as well. Most of those years his employer was the L&N (Louisville and Nashville) Railroad. Mergers and such had him working for CSX at retirement.

(I hope I am correct in saying this. He was 42 when I was born, and being a railroad man was all I ever knew him to be.)

His avocation, his passion, his love, was football – and he played, coached and refereed games for over 60 years. This brought him much pleasure, but the railroad was his income.

He was a brakeman and had other positions I can no longer name, but when I went to college, he was finally accepted into the engineer program. At long last he fulfilled his desire to be an engineer.

Many of his trips went to or through Cowan, Tennessee – a place I had always heard of but never knew anything about.

On a trip last weekend we passed through this small town in the foothills of what become the Appalachian Mountains. It was a small, well-kept village with antique and junk stores I would like to visit someday.

Much to my surprise and delight, in the center of town is a railroad museum and an old locomotive on display. Another piece of my dad’s life of which I had so little understanding.

I wish he were here to tell me all about his time spent there. I would be a better listener now.



There he was this morning, getting out of his car at the coffee shop across the parking lot. It made me smile to wonder if he was enjoying his retirement as much as I am.

I noticed his clothing, and I remembered his always crisp and stylish attire.  His serious views on the education profession made an impression on me each time I heard him speak. Yet he was quick to offer words of wisdom and helpful tips to those who needed guidance along the way.

He conducted my video interview way back when, as I applied to teach in this system. He told me all he would do was ask the questions – he would not respond in any way. But he nodded and smiled in agreement and encouragement all throughout. And he teared up at the end when I answered the question, “Who is your hero?” with a description of a friend who had overcome many hardships in her life and still stood strong.

Then I stopped myself. “That’s not him,” I thought. He passed away last year.

Yet his life casts a long shadow – still – on those he influenced in countless ways along his life’s journey.


We took a winding drive up a curvy road to Sewanee, Tennessee this past weekend. The autumn colors were just starting to emerge and the views were spectacular. We were in the midst of several projects at the cabin, but we found a stopping place and took some time for ourselves to feed our souls. Such a good decision!

On the way up the hill we noticed an overlook that was enticing, so on the way back we decided to check it out. There were a few stone steps to climb and then a flat plateau that offered incredible views of the valley below.

It was my idea to climb up, but the footing was unsure, so my timidity quickly popped out. I had to hold on to the stone and to my husband. When we got to the top – with nothing to hold onto, just open air, I couldn’t go any farther. I could peek over and see some of the view, and I was enthralled. But that was as far as I could go.


Wayne scampered on up and encouraged me to join him, but I was content to stay where I was an enjoy my limited view.


And now I wonder, what else am I missing because of the hesitancy I have to take the next steps?


What fears hold you back sometimes?



A chill is in the air. Just the beginning of things to come.

Nothing keeps that chill away like sitting around the fire.


Well, you could go inside and turn up the heat.

But then, you wouldn’t be able to watch “Cave Man TV.”

And you wouldn’t have the perfect opportunity for being together –

and discussing all kinds of important things.

Gathering information and advice to keep other chills away.

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These hydrangeas were just cut – all from the same plant.

Same soil, same sunlight, same amount of water, same air.

How different they are! Just like us. What makes them so?

multi hued hydrangeas

Thank you, God.




pie in the sky

When I was young, I was very idealistic. I wanted everything to be just so. Disneyworld-like, with dreams come true for all.

As I grew,  realized that life isn’t always like that. Not everything that should be comes to pass. Acceptance became the norm.

No more idealism for me.


Distrustfulness set in. I expected the worst, even when hoping for the best.  Cynicism took control. What could I, alone, do?

I dreamed of changing things. Making a difference. I worked so hard, but made little progress. Frustration ate at my insides.

Expectation looked only for the worst.


This colored my world, and it became the prism through which I viewed everything – situations both hopeful or hopeless.

At least I knew better than to expect good things. Better not to get my hopes up than to be disappointed – again.

Mediocrity and just getting by left me lukewarm and tired.


Deliverance came in realizing that, in order to keep my own integrity intact, I must do the best that I could, every day.

I couldn’t change the world, but I could be consistent in doing my part. My heart lightened with anticipation of better things.

Idealism had never left me after all.


It guides me still.



on the porch of a friend

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a happy gathering

teachers, all –

we started that school

way back when


all retired now

but oh, so alive

pursuing dreams and

enjoying life


catching up

on families and projects

where we have been

and where we are going


remembering together

our careers of service –

relieved that we have left

the world of education today


somehow our students had success

and made something of themselves

without constant testing

and keeping score

for now

Last night a friend mentioned that she heard there were ten Fridays until Christmas. Another friend stared in wide-eyed wonder – and a little panic and fear. Yes, Christmas is coming – and if you need any reminders, almost any retail outlet will offer you plenty.

But wait! What is coming is NOT now.

Now is blue skies and crisp air and vibrant colors and the harvest’s bounty. Now is squirrels and nuts and corn stalks and pumpkins. William Cullen Bryant reminded us that “Autumn, the year’s last, loveliest smile,” is a treasure.

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So I choose to be Scarlett and think about Christmas tomorrow. For now, I will

  • sit at the firepit and follow the trails of smoke,
  • slurp up a s’more or two,
  • hold my hands tight around a warm, steaming mug,
  • be calmed by the falling and drifting of leaves,
  • gather the brightest ones as light for dreary days ahead,
  • get out my long-sleeved shirts and scarves,
  • be thankful for the time to count my blessings.

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lessons learned

When I began this month-long writing commitment, I started with a post about discovering how little I really do know.

I was reminded of my work in helping teachers use a certain approach to managing their reading block. Our school did a book study to learn about how the authors had developed and refined a system to teach students how to work independently.

Their idea was for the children to do their important work of reading and writing on their own, so that the teacher could do his/her important work of meeting with small groups of students for more focused, on-level instruction. Brilliant! And so very needed in reading classes today.

And this is no small task. Yet these authors had tackled the problem, devised a solution, used their ideas in classrooms, improved their techniques as needed, and then written a detailed explanation of both the theory and the practice for teachers to follow. They presented at workshops and made videos to help others with understanding how to pull this off.

During our study, in my “wisdom,” I remarked frequently to teachers that, since not every classroom is the same, it would be good for them to pick only the parts of this program that might work for their group of students. Or, to help them more easily implement this routine, just to choose one or two pieces to start with and see where that led.

Yes, picking and choosing was the way to go, I said. No one could do it all, and no class of students would need each part of this plan. Even though I saw a need for these habits in students, and I thought this method was a good one, I was advocating a partial approach. Some is better than none, I thought. It will make your life easier. Just try what you think you can do.

All determined by me after a brief overview of the reading, and zero time using the plan with students.

One colleague told me, in a very nice way, that she would be using the strategy in its entirety.

First of all, she said, these authors had invested a lot of time and energy to research and put into practice the whole of their ideas, the “total package,” and if they seemed to think it was all necessary, then so did she.

Secondly, she said, if she didn’t do it all, she wouldn’t really know if the ideas were sound and would stand the test of time. How could she determine which parts would be worth repeating with students year after year if she hadn’t seen the big picture?

I had no argument, no recourse, no reply, other than, “You are so, SO right.”

You see, I had taught a long time and thought I knew so much. But I was not putting into practice what I had learned over those years. Anything worth doing is worth doing right. And right means thoroughly, completely, and for the right reasons.

Thankfully my friend showed me the way.

some days

Some days are meant for writing:

  • for being inspired,
  • for seeking exact phrases,
  • for revising and editing to uncover the essence that will speak out through those chosen words.

Other days are meant for finding the wonder in different ways –

such as watching your granddaughter learn to walk.



thank you, mr. lamons

Never have I ever been the least bit athletic. I have a shameful lack of balance, hardly any strength, about five minutes of endurance (tops), and what muscles I have are robed in fat.

(This is not why I detest the words, “athleticism” and “physicality,” but I digress. I’ll leave that to another post.)

Despite this truth, when I was in high school I played basketball. Yes, it was half-court, yes, I never scored a point since I played guard, and yes, my main value to the team was being able to “clog up the middle.” Still, I was on the team for several years.

It was church-league basketball, one of the most cut-throat games in town. I devoted one night a week to practice, and each Saturday we played our games.

Truthfully, it was a very meaningful part of my life. It was a chance to participate even without much talent. It was a bonding experience for my teammates and me. And I learned as many life lessons as I did rules and techniques of basketball.

My coach was Bob Lamons, a patient man if ever there was one. He taught us so much, and seemed to enjoy the laborious hours he spent trying to form us into a team. In fact, we won most of our games and even a championship or two.

The week I noticed in the paper that Mr. Lamons had passed away. He had moved away to live near his daughter years ago, and I unfortunately had not kept up with him or his family. But the picture in the paper was from years ago – the Mr. Lamons I remembered – and it made me smile with remembrance.

He was a successful banker and a much loved family man. He was an athlete himself, and a golfer for countless years. Yet, in his obituary, where meaningful parts of people’s lives that are important to them are included, it said, “Bob spent years coaching both boys’ and girls’ basketball teams at Dalewood Baptist Church.” So those days from long ago must have still mattered to him.

It still means a lot to me, too, Mr. Lamons, and I thank you so much. Thanks for loving a bunch of rag-tail basketball players and teaching us about what is important and what will remain, long after our “glory days” are over.

dust to dust

A few years ago we received what we considered to be a gift. We had been wanting a cabin on the water at the lake, and a friend told us about one near him that was going up for auction. We were the only bidders, and just like that the cabin became ours.

Several events and situations prevented us from closing on the house for about six months, even though we had possession of it. Many, many things needed to be done to make the house clean, updated, and comfortable, but we were hesitant to spend money on it until we had the deed in hand.


So we would go there and explore, fiddle, and dream. And I would run the vacuum every visit. Because there was little else we could do. And sure enough, the cabin always looked better after I did.


Now we are selling the cabin. There are many reasons why this is what we need to do, although it is also a little sad. But we know this is the right thing to do.

And we are thankful for the good times we have had there, and for the people who have helped us transform the way it looks, and for the family and friends that we have spent time with at the cabin through the years.

front with lights 2 

Today we cleaned it for the last time (I hope) and I found myself running the vacuum again for the finishing touch. Because there was little else left to do. And sure enough, the cabin looked better after I did.