harnessing energy

The water on the shoreline at our lake house was very high, so we thought it would be fun to drive to the dam and see the runoff that was surely going through the spillways.  My husband looked it up – 2800 cubic feet per second.

When we arrived, it was quite a sight:

The sound and the breeze reflected the power of that rushing water.

Our lake has a relatively small dam, but it does produce hydroelectricity through the Tennessee Valley Authority.

It isn’t an old dam – built in the 1970’s – but seeing it caused me to think about our discussions at Book Club of the WPA (Works Progress Administration) projects from the 1930’s. In a terrible economic time, workers were paid to do all sorts of public works projects, like building dams (and being pack horse librarians like we read about in Book Club.)

Someone at Book Club commented that they didn’t think that would go over well these days – being told what kind of work to do if you wanted to get paid.  Sadly that could be true.  These days the government is just giving away money, without requiring any work at all.

Back to the dam – the might and force of the water pouring through was mesmerizing. Such energy rushing past.

Then I thought of the pent-up energy and frustration we are seeing in the protests in our cities these sad days. The strength and intensity is alarming.

If only we could manage to harness that energy into life-giving work and support, just as dams are able to harness the water’s potential into producing electricity – and lighting the world.

lily days

It’s that time of year. The orange lilies are back!

Here in Tennessee, these beauties have gone wild.  Along with thriving in gardens, these lilies are abundantly growing along the roadsides. What a beautiful sight!

“It’s June!” they announce.  “Welcome to summer!”

Years ago a friend gave us some from her bountiful spread from the entrance to her driveway.  “I almost wish I hadn’t planted them there,” she said. “They multiply so quickly and take over.”

Not being much of a horticulturist, to me a plant that needs little care, multiplies, and almost never dies sounded right up my alley. I was thrilled to receive them.

We planted them along a retaining wall and they were perfect there. I enjoyed those lilies so much that when we moved to another home, I wanted some more. I had another retaining wall that needed them!

And, being a hardy Tennessee volunteer, I decided to dig my own. I had spotted some growing almost hidden in a roadside area that cried out to be dug up and replanted in my yard – to be enjoyed and admired by all.

So I took my daughter with me that morning – the day of her prom, she reminds me – and we waded through the swampy ground and swatted bugs as we dug up our lilies.

They turned out to be just as sturdy and as beautiful as the ones I had before, and we enjoyed them so much in our new home. Plus they also continued to multiply in the area where we had dug them, so no harm done, right?

Now we live in yet another house. We have been there 16 years, but we have no lilies.

This time every year I see them blooming and feel them calling my name.  Of course, I could go to the garden store and buy some, but where’s the fun in that?

Right now I have some other other pressing projects, so another year will probably roll around without new lilies.

But someday….

 

lake life

The weekend was filled with so much energy! Our family was all together at the lake – celebrating being together and ushering in the unofficial start of summer.

We took “scooter” rides, played in the blow-up pool, used squirt guns, threw balls, raced toy trucks, enjoyed boat rides, chased each other around, played Qwirkle, ate yummy food, read stories, watched cartoons, discussed current events, and laughed a lot.

A slower pace helped us recharge our batteries for a return to the real world.

Our children’s families left a day or two ago, and my husband and I remained for a few chores and a little cleanup. It has been much quieter since they have been gone. We miss them!

But there’s still life at the lake.

On our boat ride we saw geese and herons. From the scooter we spotted squirrels and deer. The call of an owl echoed through the cove. In our own yard we have spotted an armadillo, a big fat toad, several lizards – and a skunk!

And tonight we were thrilled to see the first fireflies of the season.

I’m so thankful for summer at the lake!

 

 

book women

I was moved by The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek by Kim Michele Richardson and was able to write about the connections it brought to mind. So I am excited that it will be the book we discuss at our book club this week.  Unfortunately we are meeting through Zoom – we postponed this book from last month, and still can’t gather in groups of more than 10, so we will make do. It will be nice to “see” everyone again.

The leader has given each of us a question to ask, so all can participate (such a good idea on her part – everyone getting to speak can be difficult with a large group online). The questioner can also answer the question if she would like, or let the group respond.  My question is this: How has a librarian or booklover impacted your life?

I will give my response at our meeting, but only briefly, because I’ll also be anxious to hear what others have to say as well.  However, this question has brought many thoughts to mind, so I’m sharing my complete answer here.

I’m sure my parents read to me when I was young, but I don’t have any memories of that.  I do have some old Golden Books from my childhood, so I know books were present. I also remember going to the old East Nashville Carnegie Library, but I don’t recall the librarians there.

My first “book woman” influencer (that I remember) was my fourth grade teacher, Evelyn Burns. Her classroom walls were literally lined with books.  She read to us, put us in groups to read and share books together, taught us how to use the library to find books we liked, and required us to do fun projects that evolved around books.  Thank you, Mrs. Burns!

Again, as a student, I don’t remember any school librarian having a big influence on me, but I had high school teachers that broadened my horizons in books.  Sarah Stamps never helped me fully see all the analyses of English literature (she tried!), but she did instill a deep appreciation of literature, even those English works written in faraway times and places. Because Mrs. Stamps was enchanted with these books and poems, she helped me love them too. Thank you, Mrs. Stamps!

In my college Children’s Literature class, Dr. Elinor Ross brought classic works written for children into my young adult mindset, and helped me see them with new eyes. And I discovered SO MANY great books! I have been a devotee of children’s literature ever since. The class project where I cataloged books and their themes was helpful to me as I began my teaching career. Thank you, Dr. Ross!

During my career I worked at six different schools and with ten different school librarians, and each one helped me help my students learn to love books. They each possessed different levels of enthusiasm and exhibited various methods of presentation, but I am grateful for each one. Children learned to appreciate the magic of the written word through their efforts, and so did I. Thank you, Brenda, Dolores, Nancy, Karen, Thresa, Teresa, Rachel, Alice, Amanda, and Heather!

The most important and meaningful book of all – the Bible – holds new information and lessons each time I read it.  When I participate in a Bible study group, I can read the Bible, read the study text, answer the questions, and pray – and STILL get more insight when our group meets together and discusses the lesson. I have been blessed with good teachers and leaders of Bible study throughout my life. Thank you, Yvonne, Beth, Vicky, Lisa, and Nancy – just to name a few!

Book Clubs have been a part of my life for a long time.  I have read books I wouldn’t have chosen myself, and I have finished books I might have abandoned if left to my own choices. (And most of the time I have been glad I did!) Now whenever I read any book, I feel like it’s not complete until I discuss it with someone. I am grateful to the organizers of these groups for bringing together readers to discuss what we read – and more importantly, to discuss life!  Thank you Peggy, Marcia, Ellen, and Mary Kay!

Sometimes it is those one-on-one conversations that mean the most. One of my colleagues and I learned together about balanced literacy and critical thinking – she as a classroom teacher and I as a reading specialist.  We would share insights and discoveries along the way.   I remember how we inferred about illustrations in the Sarah Stewart book, The Journey. When my friend moved into the reading specialist role at a different school we continued to meet and discuss – books, lessons, and life.  These breakfasts continue to this day. Thank you, Kim!

So many book women have made a difference in my life. I am thankful for each and every one.

blackberries

The weather has taken a turn. It is so cold outside today – cloudy, blustery, misty rain mixed with showers.

Quite a change from just a few days ago.

It’s a tough transition from winter to spring.  That’s why we sometimes move two steps forward toward summer, and then three steps back into winter. Those cold snaps have names, and right now we are in the midst of Blackberry Winter. How do I know? Because I have listened to and learned from the folklore and old wives’ tales. And – the blackberry bushes are blooming.

They are so pretty and so noticeable this time of year.  But when summer comes, the fruit is hidden away.

I’d like to take a walk with my granddaughter right now and take a bit of brightly colored yarn. We can tie little bows on these blooming branches. Then when summer comes, and taking a walk in the humidity is like swimming through thick soup, we can go back and find those bows and see what has become of these blossoms of Blackberry Winter.

Wouldn’t that be fun!  I will go now and look for that yarn…

uprooted

In addition to the powerful, devastating tornadoes on March 3, and the continuing soul-wrenching COVID pandemic, the Nashville area has just had another round of strong storms come through on May 3 and May 4 (yes, back-to-back evenings).  Winds up to 70 mph! Power was out for 130,000 in Nashville alone – plus 40,000 in the neighboring county where I live – and countless more in surrounding areas. They say it might take two weeks for some to be restored.

The straight-line winds did tremendous damage to so many trees in the area:

Yes, some branches and trunks snapped in two, like in the last picture, but all the other trees in these pictures have one thing in common – their roots were not durable.

Some of the roots weren’t deep enough, or sturdy enough, to stay in the ground under the extreme pressure of the wind. Other trees broke off at the ground line – the connection between roots and trunk just wasn’t resilient or solid enough to hold tight in the raging squall.

*******

We all, like trees, face storms in our lives – uncertain times where we need strong roots to protect us and keep us grounded. And we need to keep our relationship to those roots in tact. That is what will see us through hard times.

How strong are YOUR roots?

I am thankful for the roots of faith in my life.  Mine were planted by my parents, watered by caring friends, and tested by trials. These roots are available to all – but again, like trees, some people have roots that are stronger than others.

Our roots must have something to hold on to. So most importantly I am grateful for our Father, God, the surest foundation for us all.  His Almighty Strength is more powerful than any trial, and that’s what I choose to grasp. He is always there, in quiet and supportive ways. He can carry us through and past all the tribulations we face.

In the Bible, Paul said, “And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power.” (Ephesians 3:17-18).

May we all grow our roots to be strong and deep, planted in God’s love.

three dears

1

Madison, our oldest grandchild, and her little brother rode with us to our house. As we pulled in our driveway, she squealed, “There’s a dandelion!” So my husband stopped the car to let us out before he pulled around to the back.

Madison scampered over to the dandelion and I followed, thinking of how I could convince it to blow towards the street or our neighbor’s driveway to stop from spreading more of these weeds into our yard.

But after she picked the long stem with its cottony top, she made no move to blow on it. As we walked down the driveway to the back of the house, I asked her about that.

“Wadie loves dandelions,” she said. “So you’re saving it for him to blow?” I asked. When she nodded yes, I replied, “Well, that’s a very nice thing for you to do – to share with your brother.”

Then she looked at me and said, rather matter-of-factly as though I should already know this, “That’s part of being a big sister.”

So true, sweet girl – so true.

2

Grayson, our second grandchild, was visiting when Pops (my husband) showed his a small cut on his thumb. “Look at my boo-boo,” said Pops.

Grayson frowned and then immediately went over to the kitchen sink, stood on his little stool, and said, “Tal, tal,” (towel, towel) as he stretched and tried to reach the paper towel roll.

“You don’t need a paper towel right now,” I said firmly.

But he would have none of that. “Tal, tal,” he continued. And of course I relented and tore one off for him.  Then he wanted me to get it wet, which again, of course, I did.

He hopped down from the stool and went straight to Pops.  “Boo boo?” he asked, and Pops held out his thumb.

Then Grayson took the towel and dabbed it on Pops’ boo boo.  He was careful to touch and clean it gently and then looked up into Pops’ face. “Better?” he asked, and smiled.

Much better, sweet boy – so much better.

3

Wade, our third grandchild (by only three weeks) was so excited when we came to his house. “Nan, Nan, come on,” he said, and he motioned for me to follow him.

We went to his room and he pulled out a thick blanket from the drawer. “Cape?” he asked.

I did my best to put it around him and tied it at his neck. He wiggled a bit and shrugged his shoulders. “Tank Ouu,” he said and disappeared.

Soon he was back without the cape but with a lightweight swaddling blanket in hand. “Cape?” he said again, and held it up.  I looked at it and smiled. “Better,” he said. And it was better – much easier to tie. So I suited him up.

“Now you can go fast,” I said. He smiled, ran across the room, and said, “Ready? Big hug!” Then he ran straight to my arms.

Yes I’m ready sweet one – always ready for this.