Sunday, March 30, 2014

New blog link

Since I have been locked out of this blog and have to borrow a computer to get on at all I have created a new blog at:
Hoping for better access on this new site.

Monday, March 24, 2014

March 24, 2014

     It is somehow hard to believe the above, when the forecast predicts a snowstorm and a high temperature of 32 degrees.  I was thinking about it though, as I listened to strangers discuss the is the one thing that unites us all, the one thing we all experience and can't get away from, or do anything about, short of get on a plane and fly away to a warmer climate.  So in some ways, it is the great equalizer, rich or poor or somewhere in between, we all have to deal with the climate, we can't change it, we complain about it, it gives us something to talk about with people we will never know.

Friday, March 21, 2014

March 21, 2014

     There is a certain innate beauty in the remnants of plants from last autumn against the stark spring landscape.  I purposely don't tidy the garden in the fall so that birds can forage for food in winter, and to give the garden some form during the long winter months.  As soon as I do clean up the debris the garden almost looks too orderly and dull for awhile, waiting for summer to spur on its sprawling growth.  Every season in the garden is beautiful to me, even the the desiccated old growth as we wait for spring.

 " There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens,
a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot...He has made everything beautiful in its time."
                                                        Ecclesiastes 3

Thursday, March 20, 2014

March 20, 2014

     Spring is approaching tentatively this year.  Each day there is a little less of the mountainous snow pile that was in our front yard for months.  But I will treasure each incremental sign of this new season. I am willing to keep my winter coat on, if the air even smells like spring it gives me hope.  Hope for things green and growing after the toll of this harsh winter.  Removing the plants that didn't make it, with regret.  This is all part of life, reassessing, taking account of what remains, moving on with hope for better days.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

March 19, 2014

    Trying to convince others to cherish the same things we do isn't always an easy thing to do.  I would spend the entire day outside in the summertime, my family...not so much.  The best way to coax them out is to share the love of nature by sheer persistence.  I pushed my children as long as I could in a stroller so that I could continue taking my long walks every day.  When we go to our cottage it is a little easier to convince them to go for hikes in the amazing wooded areas surrounding the lake.  There is just nothing to compare to being outdoors on a beautiful day especially in the spring when everything is coming back to life.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

March 18, 2014

     The artist perfectly captured the look on the character's face in this illustration to show how he is feeling..."I want to so much to change, but I don't know how."  I have been in this place many times.  Sometimes its a just a matter of getting up off the comfy chair and into life.  Many times we need someone to spark that change by giving us new ideas and directions as incentive.  We may think it is never too late to change and grow, but I have seen that sometimes we grow too old and are hampered physically in order to do so.  So...seize the day, gather the roses while you may, whatever adage gets you motivated and live while you still can.

Monday, March 17, 2014

March 17, 2014

"It has never struck me as harmful to make a conscious effort to elevate one's thoughts, in the hope that by doing so one's writing will get off the ground, even if only for a few seconds (like Orville Wright) and to a low altitude. I am an egoist, inclined to inject myself into almost everything I write. This usually calls for good taste, if one is to stay alive. I'm not against good taste in writing, however unpopular it may be today."   E. B. White.
    If E. B. thought good taste was gone when he was writing, how much more so is that a fact today.  I would rather reflect on the beauty of life around me, than to try to be witty and use expletives sprinkled throughout my writing as so many authors and bloggers do today.  It seems shock value is more popular that fine tuning our words.  So I will continue to go back in time to find mentors for my writing... and I don't think I will have any regrets.


Sunday, March 16, 2014

March 16, 2014

    When I was young I loved animals and dreamed of having a kitten of my own.   We would visit my uncle's farm, and go up in the barn to find the kittens and cuddle them all day, even if they had gunk in the corner of their eyes and a sickly look.
    I would pick up caterpillars and examine them without fear.  Now I skitter away from any living thing no matter what it is.  I don't know what happened to that fearless, curious little girl.  
     When James Herriot's novels about being a veterinarian in Yorkshire were published I loved reading them and later watching the televised version so much that my sons names come from those novels filled with loving anecdotes about people and their pets and animals.
  My son's girlfriend has been a good influence on our family in that way.  Her obvious love for animals  
shames me for the way I shrink away.  We need people like her in our lives to remind us how  loving a pet and being loved by one can enrich our lives.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

March 15, 2014

  It is such a joy to find a beautiful garden and then find friends who appreciate it as much as you do.  Northwinds Perennial Farm took my breath away, as does Eder Nursery.  They both have that tumbledown look, with twists and turns that hold surprises around every corner.  I remember telling someone that I almost wept because the gardens were so beautiful and they gave me an odd look of that being incomprehensible.  One has to be careful who one shares their passions with, not everyone is moved by the same things. But when you do find a kindred spirit, treasure their company always!

Thursday, March 13, 2014

March 13, 2014

     I had my own secret garden once.  It was quite an effort to clear the detritus of many years of neglect.  The entire time my children were growing up I tweaked the garden as they played as a way of watching what they were doing without them realizing it.  What joy that garden gave us all as they played in and around the plants and the tumble down stones and created stinky brews out of decaying plants and water. I have a new garden now which is neat and tidy, landscaped to perfection to fit the standards of the subdivision.  But I will always have a special place in my heart for my tumble down out of control secret garden of the past.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

March 12, 2014

Philippians 4:8

New International Version (NIV)
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.

     I've been told that in these tumultuous times I should be confronting all the issues and be more aware of all the inherent dangers in the world.  I realize that some people love to debate and even to switch sides in the middle of argument, but that has never been me.  Arguing makes me uncomfortable and anxious.  If I absorb all of the current events and dwell on them it will break me. I know this for a fact.
    I think there are people in this world who can be aware of everything that is going on, put it in the hands of the Lord, deal with the things at hand, and choose to think about praiseworthy things instead.  That is the only way I can survive.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

March 11, 2014

     One spring day a few years ago, I went for a walk on a rural bike path and it was like awakening from a long sleep.  Life had been tumultuous and uncertain. Walking in nature just coming out of hibernation was the best thing I could have done for myself to rejuvenate my spirits.  It was as if I was seeing the natural world for the first time.  That is a good thing about winter, even though it has a beauty of its own, it makes us appreciate the rebirth of everything so much more than if it was around us all the time.  Perhaps that is why we live in Wisconsin, to experience that awakening every spring each year.

Monday, March 10, 2014

March 10, 2014

     We have yet to see the first robin this year, I have a feeling he will be late if he is smart.  But when he does come, what a welcome sight he will be.  This week it will warm up just enough so the sap begins to rise in the sugar maples.  So...I guess for March, that is just about where it should be.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

March 9, 2014

     The character of Dickon in The Secret Garden is one of my favorites in all of Children's Literature.  I love how he is intuitive about nature, how he loves animals, but especially how he draws Mary out of her crankiness with his kind and gentle ways.
       I have a few students this year who passionately love animals and want to work with them when they are older.  They are a good influence on me, since I basically fear anything that moves that isn't human. (It is a family trait from my mother's side.)  It has taught me that we can influence the people around us to take a second look at the things they may not love (or fear) and change their outlook by example.  That is a wonderful contribution to make to the world.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

March 8, 2014

     I have felt more like sickly Colin in  The Secret Garden than lively Mary Lennox lately.  A week ago Thursday a student came back to school with a very contagious germ that spread through my class like wildfire.  We had no school on Friday, but by Monday almost everyone had succumbed to coughing, sneezing, and blowing their noses.  I had to buy a small case of kleenex just to survive.  I think I bonded with some of the quieter students in our misery together.  What does that say for the climate of my classroom?
     So... this weekend I have to squeeze in some quiet recovery time amongst house cleaning and preparing refreshments for an open house at school tomorrow.  I will be sure to let someone else serve the cake and punch to our guests and stay far away from that table.
    Hopefully I will recover to take a few steps outside into some spring weather next week and grow strong again in the warm March sunshine.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

March 6, 2014

     It is serendipitous to make friends wherever you might find them, or however unlikely that person might be.  Just to have someone to talk to once in awhile, who will speak the truth, even if it stings a little.  We can grow so much from these relationships however brief or long they endure.   What has never worked for me were forced friendships.  If it doesn't naturally fall into place, its just not going to work for me no matter how hard we try.  I thank the Lord for the sensible, no nonsense people He has placed in my life here and there.  I have needed them so much and been so thankful for them.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

March 5, 2014

     Yesterday as I took clean clothes out of the dryer I caught a whiff of spring air.  I don't know the source of the scent, since there is a foot or more of snow on the ground and we are still held fast in winter's grip.  But I will take the scent from whatever door it is emitting from!

Sunday, March 2, 2014

March 2, 2014

     Oh, to see the lush green of this illustration in real life again!  It has been so long.   Hopefully when spring does come it will be a rapid thaw and the world will transform before our eyes.  By Thursday of this week the temperatures are supposed to rise and on Friday we have a field trip to learn about maple sugar making.  I'm sure no sap will be rising, but it is the thought that counts.
     Everyone's spirits have been sagging because of this long winter, but we've had long winters before.   Somehow, it hasn't been the weather that has brought me down, rather what is happening indoors.  It was good to have a respite on Friday to go to conference, even though the information wasn't new and there were too many business meetings.
     I have new hope and strength to go on, at least for tomorrow...

Saturday, March 1, 2014

March 1, 2014

     With the winter we have had this year, I feel as cranky as Mary Lennox at the beginning of The Secret Garden before she learns to play outside and get some fresh air.  So hopefully by the end of March,  we will be unlocking some secrets in the garden.  I'm fearful of what I might find, have my perennials survived?
     It is such a beautiful time when the earth begins to awaken again.  I hope to have time to acknowledge springtime for the miracle it truly is when everything begins to emerge from hibernation.  Maybe I'll even befriend a robin like Mary did...

Friday, February 28, 2014

February 28,2014

     In the quiet of the early winter morning I wait for my ride outside my home.  The view is of the bell tower of this neighborhood church.
      The first summer that we lived here, we had no yard or landscaping, so I made the front porch my favorite perch and spent the summer reading Nine Tailors by Dorothy Sayers.  It all tied together so well, since the victim in the story was found in a bell tower, struck down by the loud tolling bells.
      It is such a sweet memory of those first days of life here, and that first perch has become my favorite place to read in summer, even though we now have a beautifully landscaped yard. Who wouldn't be happy with a view like this?

Thursday, February 27, 2014

February 27, 2014

     As February winds down a cup of something warm is in order.  It has been a brutal month weather wise and in other ways too.  How can a month with only 28 days seem so long?  Tomorrow we have a break in the schedule to attend a conference in Illinois.  Even with the promise of delicious food and camaraderie with colleagues it doesn't sound enticing.  A cozy chair, a cup of cocoa and a good that would do the trick.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

February 26, 2014

     In my latter years of teaching I have become good friends with coworkers young enough to be my own children. They have given me excellent advice and new ideas.  They have also given me hope for future generations.  Here's to 'intergenerational' friendships and the richness they bring to our lives!

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

February 25, 2014

      I've had a hard time writing lately because I've been discouraged, but with prayer and thoughtful friends I'm slowly coming out of it.  What I am struggling with is best laid plans, hours of work, blown to pieces by unpredictable behavior.  I knew it would be like this, but there is no way to imagine how it would really affect me.  This afternoon I am meeting with a coworker from last year who will make me laugh which will go a long way in boosting my spirits.  Perhaps that is the lesson in this:  we need others to help us through rough times.

Monday, February 24, 2014

February 24, 2014

Psalm 143:8  Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you.

New day, new week, renewed strength...

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Friday, February 21, 2014

February 21, 2014

     The wind has been whipping wickedly around the corners of the house since the middle of last night.  It is howling and whistling trying desperately to get inside, and the chill in the house shows that it is succeeding.  This winter has been difficult in every way, in every single person's opinion that you could hear from.  It doesn't seem as if that will change any time soon.
    It seems I have gotten used to going outside only to get in the car and go across town to enter a building, and then returning home to curl up under a blanket.  It is hard to remember a time when that hasn't been the case this has gone on so long.  How sweet those first warm days of spring will be when they finally appear...

Thursday, February 20, 2014

February 20, 2014

   Many years ago a pastor that was between calls spent some time at our church and added much depth to our already excellent Bible classes.  One Sunday he quoted a passage I had never heard before that I thought was profoundly beautiful.  I remembered it this week, when many things have gone wrong and it reenergized me:
Habakkuk 3:17-18
New International Version (NIV)
Though the fig tree does not bud
 and there are no grapes on the vines,
though the olive crop fails
 and the fields produce no food,
though there are no sheep in the pen
 and no cattle in the stalls,
yet I will rejoice in the Lord,
 I will be joyful in God my Savior.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

February 19, 2014

   Even though yesterday afternoon didn't end very well, I headed off early for school this morning with high hopes for the day.  I had become inspired to redecorate our extra room in order to use it when the gym is too noisy for us to learn and only have time before school to work on it this week.  My efforts are slowly paying off and the room is taking shape.  Of course I was disheveled and exhausted before 7 am but it was worth it as I stood back and admired the progress I am making in a room that lately had begun to resemble a junk pile.  I added bookshelves to block the clutter towards the back of the room, cozy chairs with comfortable seat cushions for a reading area, and more colorful paper fish hangings as a room divider.
    In the early afternoon things disintegrated in my classroom as we worked on a long term project.  It is so discouraging to put so much effort into preparing special projects, trying to make things more hands on, and redecorating to make it appealing, when someone just wants to push my buttons to see how much they can get away with and before I know it I have turned into an ogre.  I had the best intentions today but it seems I was thwarted in my plans.  Now I have to come up with some way to not repeat the same mistakes tomorrow....

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

February 18, 2014

     When I was 23 I may have sat near a tiger just as my daughter did in Thailand recently.  But as her mother I immediately was concerned, how can they do that?  I started to research petting tigers in Thailand and right away, third hit down:  girl mauled by tiger in Thailand, August 2013.  I instinctively look for the inherent danger in every situation and want to protect my kids in every way, even though they are adults.  What is it that changes in us and makes us so fearful?  Knowing the possible consequences takes all the adventure out of life.  That's what maturity and experience brings to us.  Does it also rob us of spontaneous joy?

Monday, February 17, 2014

February 17, 2014

     Because I come from a large family, there is always something happening to someone, some story developing to cause concern.  It's a relief then when I hear that something has been resolved, so I can move on to worrying (and praying) about something else. It is interesting to me then when I learn of a struggle I haven't heard about, that someone is dealing with something quietly and under the radar.
   We all are challenged in some way every day and it is good to take note and realize this.  I tend to think I am the only one and begin to feel defeated.  Life is rarely easy for anyone. Knowing that there is a heavenly plan and it is all being worked for our good helps me to continue on.  '
   When I first started teaching there was a little prayer in a devotion book that I still say every time I face a tough day.  It is kind of tender and sweet:
Oh help me Lord this day to be
Thine own dear child and follow Thee
And lead me Savior by the hand
Until I reach the heavenly land.
   Puts everything in perspective and helps me start the new week...

Saturday, February 15, 2014

February 15, 2014

     This past week at school was Spirit Week which is usually the craziest week of the school year with very little actual learning taking place.  Surprisingly we were able to focus very well, but that might be what we were studying: bats, ancient civilizations, and weather.  The level of energy was so high though, that last night I was comatose by 8 pm and this morning I awoke early trying to come up with ways to tweak things for next week.  That kind of sums up the life of a teacher: persevere, get a good night's sleep, tweak everything, regroup on Monday.

Friday, February 14, 2014

February 14, 2014

     When I saw this poster I immediately thought of my husband.  Through all the years we have spent together he has calmed me down from the dramatic person I once was.  I haven't always appreciated it, but I do now. It is nice to know after 25 years of marriage that he has been a good influence on my character.  I can only hope that I have done the same for him.  Looking back we've had many ups and downs, times of heartache and sorrow, but just as many laughs and good times.  At the end of the day I'm glad I can come home and be calm with him.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

February 13, 2014

    With Valentines Day on the horizon, thoughts of romance are on the mind.  Since it is the day before, I will allow myself to write on the subject of failed romance...
   Growing up as a bookworm and with a love of musicals like 'Oklahoma' and 'South Pacific' I had a pretty skewed view of what romance would look like.  The plot would move just like in a novel: rising action, a problem, problem overcome, solution, and the happy ending.  Real romance is much messier than that, for me the problem usually came with the happy ending.  I thought I would be fine ending a relationship, that was a horrible experience so I resolved never to be the one to end it again.  Therefore I stayed in a relationship well past the expiration date and when he ended it I was devastated again.  I often wondered why I had to learn these lessons so painfully.  Now I have my answer: to understand and help my children go through their own.
  With my first heartbreak, my mother watched me suffer and told me later she didn't know what to do to help me so she left me alone.  She was a wonderful mother in our childhood, but didn't really understand teenage girls and she had four of them at one time! (I can't even fathom that.) So it means so much to me to be able to help my children through those rough times.
   I know I have written about my older sister a lot since January, and not just because she has become my most devoted reader.  I must mention how much she helped me through my second failed attempt at romance.  She was there for me during my darkest days and didn't let me flounder through them alone.  I don't know what I would have done without her.
   But finally I stood on my own, with my battle scars and the Lord led me to the right person for me. Tomorrow I will write more about him...

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

February 12, 2014

          One of the things I love about teaching is sharing a passion for writing and good books.  This week we are looking at a beautifully written book, Bat Loves the Night by Nicola Davies.  We watched a video interview of the very engaging author telling about how she writes her books.   I found a lesson plan that makes an anchor chart of her very descriptive writing and the kids were right there with me today as we delved into the book.  What a feeling that is, to finally have it all come together.   It has been an elusive feeling this year but one I will continue to pursue.  Today we are going to read bat poems and web all of our ideas and attempt to write a poem about bats ourselves.  Amazing what is possible, even when one doesn't like bats!

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

February 11, 2014

"Oh would some power the gift give us, To see ourselves as others see us."Robert Burns
     Yesterday was a day so full of twists and turns that I awoke early today and couldn't get back to sleep with all the thoughts circling in my mind.  I like to sort things out but some of these thoughts are unsortable.
     It comes back to the quote above, the way people behave with a kind of tunnel vision, so self absorbed they don't see that they are sabotaging their own lives.  Whenever I have thoughts like this I know it is time for some self reflection. 
     How do others see us?  To be socially aware, one has to think that there is usually a grain of truth in the criticisms aimed at us.  As painful as that may be, we won't grow as a person without addressing the criticism in some way.  I suppose I should be thankful that I am over sensitive to criticism so it has kept any ego I might have had in check. Then again it isn't a good way to live, always cowering in fear of offending someone.  Somehow there has to be a balance.  We need to check ourselves every day against what others are saying or doing around us.  There is always need for improvement and prayerful consideration of being more thoughtful of others.

Monday, February 10, 2014

February 10, 2014

     This week is 'Spirit' Week at school so every day has a crazy theme.  Each year during this week I just about lose my mind trying to have some normalcy while the kids struggle to focus on learning while wearing pajamas or crazy hats.  I'm going to try to relax things a little, but then things just seem to get crazier.  Having 'fun' at school without actually learning anything is hard work, at least for the teacher.  At least there is Valentine's Day in there so it's a good excuse to eat chocolate!

Sunday, February 9, 2014


     I have always been a shy person, as a child I hid behind my mother's skirts or sometimes in the laundry room behind the furnace when people came over.  I am an observer, I love people watching, and I have learned much from doing so.
   For some reason I was comfortable in kindergarten, but after that school was painful for me.  Once I learned to read, I existed in the world of those books.  When I wasn't reading, I was thinking about the plot and characters and reliving the stories.  In seventh grade, I made a conscious decision to stop living in my personal world of books and join reality.  As I have written here before, that was a big mistake. Reality is brutal to shy people.
   When the book Quiet came along, it almost championed my cause.  There will have to be a sequel titled Shy for it to really be my book.  Then the next one could be titled Late Bloomers and Why It Is Good Not to Peak Too Early in Life.  
    I watched the same pattern emerge for two of my children.  Early social success in school and then plummeting into invisibility and sometimes being bullied.  Now, after many years, they have come into their own, met people they connect with and who appreciate them.
     Long ago I read the novel I, Keturah by Ruth Wolff, a coming of age story about an awkward orphan who is told by her foster father, "The cream always rises to the top."  The novel ends with her acknowledging to him, that the cream had finally risen.  But in real life, this rarely happens.  Those who  point out their accomplishments get the praise, the rest of us toil (and perhaps excel) unnoticed.  What a relief to have a heavenly Father who does notice.  Without that comfort it would be impossible.
     Even at my advanced age, I can still feel like that little girl who is invisible at times.  I have learned to cope with it, but it still hurts.  When I feel like that I rush home to find solace in a place where I know I belong.
     Do I do this to quiet and shy students?  Do I notice them and compliment their achievements or just cater to the extroverts in the crowd?  Do my quiet students silently soothe themselves at home each night and avoid me because the pain of being ignored and overlooked is too much?  I hope not.  I need to attend to them first thing Monday morning to make sure.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Feb. 8, 2014

     I am not a William Faulkner fan, having been forced to read the Sound and the Fury in college literature classes, but I do like this quote attributed to him.  I have made it a goal to try to write something every day and it is not easy, at least not to put words down here.  There are days when I have plenty to write about, but I would have to do such heavy editing there would be nothing left on the page.  I do know this, writing helps me sort things out and work out the problems I am dealing with.  The last few days have been no words, but then this morning a thought came to me that helped me to resolve it somewhat.  Immediately I thought, I need to write this down!  I will write it down elsewhere of course, but it will be written.  Then when I encounter the difficulties again, as I inevitably will, I can go back to that paper to remind myself, this one is already solved.  Move on.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

February 6, 2014

     This week I hesitantly began a basketball unit in Phy. Ed.  This year I never know what will be destined for success or failure until we try it, but they absolutely are loving it.  I know shooting hoops or playing Horse for hours got me through an awkward time in my life.  Whenever there wasn't much to do, my sister and I would be out there in the driveway competing.  I thank her now for dragging me away from my beloved books and dolls to play those outdoor games.  It has served me well!

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

February 5, 2014

  On Monday a former student was chatting happily with me at recess about winning third place in a wrestling match over the weekend.  He ran off to play and I turned my attention to other matters.  A few minutes later he said from the floor, "Do you think you could help me up?"  He jokes around a lot so I tried to give him a hand but couldn't get him up.  His teacher tried to assist, but we finally told him to try to pull himself up on the edge of the stage.  He couldn't do that either.  Becoming increasingly alarmed his teacher started trying to get a hold of his mom, while I talked to the student, trying to figure out what had happened.  He really couldn't say.  About 20 minutes later, the ambulance had to come and take him away, and his mom, a nurse, spent the rest of the afternoon with him at the hospital as they ran all kinds of tests.  Thankfully, as he moved in the hospital bed, there was a loud pop and his hip popped back into place.  He was back at school today as good as new. (hopefully)
   While traumatized by the entire episode, it makes me stop and think how fast life can change.  One minute he was a carefree child, the next living in fear of being paralyzed or facing surgery.
     Each day is a day of grace to be thankful for:  our physical, mental, and emotional health and our spiritual well being even more so.  So very thankful that our afternoon of prayers were answered for my young friend.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

February 4, 2014

     On Sunday, my sister in law posted a plea on Facebook to get her children to call her, not text, not email, but call.  I tried to stick up for the non calling people by saying I don't enjoy talking on the phone, I'd much rather message with my children which my brother in law took objection to.  But if one thinks about it, in the past all we had was the written word.  People communicated everything in letters that crossed the continents to people they loved.  Now we write our words and they are instantly transported around the world.  My daughter can think about what she wants to say before she hits the enter button, I can go back and reread what she wrote and relive the moment.  A phone call is gone forever.  I say, go with whatever communication works for you.  When I don't hear from my children I know they are fine, out there enjoying their lives, living in the moment.  When they need me, I will hear from them and hopefully say what they need to hear.  Until then, a brief word here or there, a photo of them with a happy smile is good enough for this mom, and hopefully always will be.

Monday, February 3, 2014

February 3, 2014

     I first saw this 'tag art' in Victoria magazine many years ago and immediately was smitten by the look.  What is there about simple manila tags that is so appealing?  I love the look as much today as I did back then.  I think it is the idea of taking something basic and making it elegant and beautiful.
    Next week I am going to set up a valentine making station for my students to see how creative they can get. It is an idea I saw online for women friends to get together and craft, but I thought I would tweak it for my girls.  It'll be fun to see what they come up with.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

February 2, 2014

      I loved the movie Groundhog Day for various reasons:  the quirky humor of Bill Murray, the story of one day starting over until he gets it right, beginning each day with the song 'I Got You Babe' blaring from the clock radio...  (That is kind of an inside joke, because my husband teased throughout our engagement that he would sing it as a solo at our wedding.) ...the long awaited happy ending which you are not sure the main character is going to pull off...
     No matter what Punxsutawney Phil says today, I know from the weather we have had this winter what we are in for: more winter, and a long time of it.  Well, so be it, I'll take whatever comes, we have to anyway!  Might as well be content with what we have.  

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Winter Sunset

      Dealing with my mother's illness these last few years has been like going out on ice that seems to be frozen solid,  but in reality is fragile enough to break through at any moment, plunging you into the murky, dark waters below.  As I move through daily life, suddenly something will trigger the grief that lies just below the surface.  Suddenly I am weeping uncontrollably, grieving for what was, unable to explain what caused this to happen.
   It is a strange feeling, grieving for my parents while they are still alive.  What they were in the past is gradually fading away as their memory lapses more and more and her ability to communicate becomes more difficult.  The roles have reversed from what they once were, I trim their fingernails, give Dad a haircut, put in the dvd of the church service for them to watch, water the plants, gather the mail to go through...all the things they once did for me when I was growing up.
    Somehow I  thought I  would be ready for what would come.  I  recognize the passage of time, that I am aging, my parents are aging.  I know that death is part of life, but it never seems to be that simple.  They are dying slowly as they live and I was not prepared for that.  Will it make it easier when death finally comes?  I'm not sure.  But I know that it will be a sweet release for my mother from this crippled physical body and a mind that has slipped away from her.  I pray that she does not realize in full what has happened to her, that it is a hazy mystery that seems intangible to hold on to, and that she slowly slips away to enjoy the rewards of heaven by the  grace of our Lord.
    Then the grief will be sharp and painful not this lingering sorrow that lies just under the skin.  I will deal with it, go through its stages and accept what is.  This time out of time cannot be categorized or sorted out until that happens.
   What I can do with this time though is to live.  To notice little things, to appreciate being able to go off to work, to drive a car, to shop at the grocery store, to attend church, spend time with friends, to cherish each day of grace that has been given to me.

February 1, 2014

     Even though the view out the window looks the same, turning a calendar page seems to give a fresh start.  The last two days have been parent/teacher conferences with the students attending and sharing their work,  for the most part it was very rewarding.  I can see progress has been made.  We are halfway through a challenging year.  We have turned a corner for the better and now we have to soldier on.
     It is strange to be writing this in the peace and serenity of my home when the rest of my life is tumultuous and uncertain at best.  It is a blessing to have one small piece of my life that is orderly and somewhat predictable.  I am so thankful that the Lord gave us a day of rest during the week to regroup and rest up for the days ahead.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

January 28, 2014

“A book, being a physical object, engenders a certain respect that zipping electrons cannot. Because you cannot turn a book off, because you have to hold it in your hands, because a book sits there, waiting for you, whether you think you want it or not, because of all these things, a book is a friend. It’s not just the content, but the physical being of a book that is there for you always and unconditionally.”

~ Mo Willems

     This morning in my online perusings, I stumbled upon something in the Guardian about 'The Year of Reading Woman Authors'.  Curious as to what that meant I read the article and then made the mistake of scanning through the comments.  Vitriol!  
    As a young child, I had no idea who the authors were, I just loved the books: Madeline, Curious George, Babar.  When I read on my own I gravitated towards women authors because they wrote about my interests:  Carol Ryrie Brink, Louisa May Alcott, Catherine Woolley, Lenora Mattingly Weber.  It never crossed my mind to think I should be broadening my horizons by reading male authors.  
     When I look at what I read now though, my reading does lean more heavily toward male authors, not by any conscious design.  I admire the spare writing of E. B. White, Wendell Berry, and Verlyn Klinkenborg.  I just discovered the exquisite writing of Melville Davisson Post.  It doesn't matter who is writing the book:  what matters is good writing.  
     Josephine Tey, Dorothy Sayers, and Agatha Christie write male main characters very convincingly.  Wendell Berry wrote Hannah Coulter beautifully.
    The arguments quickly segued into bitterness about this being a man's world.  How comforting that as a Christian I can see it as all part of the Creator's design, accept the way things are, and go curl up with a good book.

Monday, January 27, 2014

January 27, 2014

     I love the scene in The Lord of the Rings where this takes place:
"But what about second breakfast?"
" Don't think he knows about second breakfast, Pip."
"What about elevenses? Luncheon? Afternoon tea? Dinner? Supper? He knows about them, doesn't he?"

   I think of it on 'snow days' like this when I wake up before dawn and eat breakfast.  Then I am hungry again at 9:30 since that is when we have snack at school, and lunch is at 11:10 so that would be elevenses...It all seems so cozy and quaint.  Unfortunately it may be similar to the time I bought the Wind in the Willows cookbook and started snacking like Mole and Rat when they stumble onto Badger's home.  Ideas that are whimsical and charming in books end up with different results in reality.  But just for today, I will indulge in their world.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

January 26, 2014

  A light snow fell during the night, turning the landscape into an enchanted world this morning.  When everything looks clean and fresh I think of the passage:  Your mercies are new every morning.  (Lam. 33:2)  As cold as it is, it is hard to go inside and leave the beauty and wonder of that white world.  Wallace Stevens says it better than I ever could in 'The Snow Man':

One must have a mind of winter
To regard the frost and the boughs
Of the pine-trees crusted with snow;
And have been cold a long time
To behold the junipers shagged with ice,
The spruces rough in the distant glitter
Of the January sun; and not to think
Of any misery in the sound of the wind,
In the sound of a few leaves,
Which is the sound of the land
Full of the same wind
That is blowing in the same bare place
For the listener, who listens in the snow,
And, nothing himself, beholds
Nothing that is not there and the nothing that is.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

January 25, 2014

     My goal for writing every day has brought a few of my interests together, which is a serendipitous surprise.  Years ago I loved to cut beautiful photos out of magazines and make collages for my room.  Now that I have switched to reading online, I hardly have a magazine in the house, but I have begun to collect images online and use them as writing prompts.  On a whim I started January by seeking out all the Monet winter images I could find.  It has been a joy to look at them throughout January.  It sparked my idea to choose a theme for February of all kinds of hearts and it was very enjoyable seeking out interesting photos of them to use for future writing ideas.  I am so thankful to have online mentors who are reminding me to go back to what I loved as a child to rekindle my joy: reading, writing, making art, having fun...I sometimes forget what that is like in the tumult of every day life.

Friday, January 24, 2014

January 24, 2014

      January is ebbing away, but winter still has a tenacious hold on us.  Next week we are supposed to have the coldest days of the year.  As long as I am warm and cozy I don't mind it so much, but my students are like colts kept too long in the barn:  they need to get outside in the pasture to run around.  Somehow running around in a gym is not an equivalent to fresh air and sunshine in the great outdoors.  But we will hunker down, soldier on, all of those expressions of fortitude that one must have when one chooses to live in Wisconsin.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

January 23, 2014

Before the sun even rose today, my sister texted me a Bible passage as I was preparing for the day.  What a thoughtful, sisterly thing to do during this week that hasn't had very much to be thankful for.  It is something one gets used to, having someone always live through the year before you so one can kind of think:  this is how it is to be this or that age.  Now our ages have kind of evened out, but she still goes through things before me:  first child married, first grandchild, and many other experiences.  It is comforting to know that we will most likely end our days as we began them:  saying our prayers together. Lovely thought.