06 November 2011


It's been awhile since I've stopped by.  I reread a draft of an earlier post.  The tone of it made me laugh.  It was so me...at least the 'me' that is prone to irritability:

Dear Lady in the Green Clogs Sitting Next to Me in the Bookstore,

I am trying to study.  Others are attempting to read.  I am confident that none of us want to listen to the sitcom streaming loudly on your computer.  I would give you my earphones if I hadn't left them at home on the sofa.  You do have the option of exercising your volume button.

Sincerely, ~S.

Instead, I am going to channel my thoughts elsewhere (since I am hostage to this background noise).  Ugh.  Oh well, I suppose.

That mood has passed thank goodness, at least for now.  I have skipped studying these past two evenings and it has been an indulgence of great proportions.  Tomorrow I will begin a weekend of preparing a lengthy paper, but tonight?  Tonight, I am here.  My dear friend sent some kind words my way and motivated me to write. “Kind words can be short and easy to speak, but their echoes are truly endless.” ~Mother Teresa  Thank you, Nat.

And alas, it is already Sunday and I have not yet begun my paper.  I attempted to reread excerpts from Harvard Business Review's 10 Must Reads on Leadership.  It was a bit difficult as my youngest child was over my shoulder, excitedly pointing out words that she is learning in kindergarten.  How precious is that?  She has been feeling a bit under the weather and it has been nice to feel her close and wanting her mom.  Now she is off with her sister, helping her to clean her room...and there is silence.  I am not sure if that is a good thing.  For sure, it is rarity.  *sigh*  Silence is more musical than any song. ~Christina Rossetti

Things that made me smile recently~

Three beautiful daughters.  I am blessed.
Lane, dressed for her teacher's wedding
Ally, top right, at her final soccer game of the season
McKenzie being silly, hating to pose (as always)

My little one playing 'mannequin' for nearly 30 minutes while her sisters shopped... I enjoyed watching the passersby look and laugh.
Beautiful scenery on my drive home across the river:
Gorgeous sunsets...
And a chill to my November days.  I love this time of year!

"How silently they tumble down
And come to rest upon the ground
To lay a carpet, rich and rare,
Beneath the trees without a care,
Content to sleep, their work well done,
Colors gleaming in the sun.

At other times, they wildly fly
Until they nearly reach the sky.
Twisting, turning through the air
Till all the trees stand stark and bare.
Exhausted, drop to earth below
To wait, like children, for the snow." 

-   Elsie N. Brady, Leaves

17 October 2011


It is a rainy October day, the thought-provocative kind that piques the senses.  Finally, finally a chill has kissed the air and I am happily settling into the season.  Today I drove across ribbons of an old highway, high into the hills and along the bluffs, following the river.  Lovely.   How beautifully leaves grow old.  How full of light and color are their last days.  ~John Burroughs  These are the vistas that find their way into books.  The scenery itself has a story to tell...

I am now sitting with a mug and a laptop, making an attempt to study.  My focus, though, is not on academia at the moment.  (Instead, I am thinking back over my happy day.)  I am at the bookstore [*sigh*] and my determination to stay seated and remain far from the stacks is waning.  I confess:  I am a bibliophile.  I love the feel of books, the smell of books, the sight of them on my shelves...  Most of all, I love the words.  Fill your paper with the breathings of your heart.  ~William Wordsworth  With that, I must go for now.  A book (or two or three) is calling my name.  The polite response, as always, is to answer.  

Part Two:  

I perused a few books but refrained from making a purchase.  Self control is not my forte but this afternoon I managed to conjure a wee bit.  Later, I enjoyed some Chinese food with my daughter.  My fortune cookie summarized my life story:  "Be prepared to modify the plan."  The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails.  ~William Arthur Ward

A storm is brewing and I'm off  to relax with Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance and listen to the rain.  I'm also going to make plans for this:
October.  Nice.  ~S.


14 October 2011


 Love, love, love...

And I love this too...a print that reminds me of my childhood, just a decade or two (or more) ago: 

 I cherish my childish loves--the memory of that warm little nest where my affections were fledged.
George Eliot, Theophrastus Such

Cheddar Bacon Ranch Pulls
(Crack Bread) 

1 unsliced loaf of (round is preferable) sourdough bread
8-12 oz cheddar cheese, thinly sliced
3 oz bag Oscar Mayer Real Bacon bits
1/2 cup butter, melted
1 Tbsp Ranch dressing mix

Using a sharp bread knife cut the bread going both directions. Do not cut through the bottom crust. Place slices of cheese in between cuts. Sprinkle bacon bits on bread, making sure to get in between cuts. Mix together butter and Ranch dressing mix. Pour over bread. Wrap in foil the entire loaf in foil and place on a baking sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes. Unwrap. Bake for an additional 10 minutes, or until cheese is melted. 

This weekend, this  recipe!  From morning till night, sounds drift from the kitchen, most of them familiar and comforting....On days when warmth is the most important need of the human heart, the kitchen is the place you can find it...  ~E.B.White (1899-1985)

The weekend is here and I am so, so happy.  This time, I have three whole days to catch up on laundry and chores, followed by time to read and write, and read and write some more.  Leadership Theory and Practice, Leadership Theory  and Practice Application, and Professional Seminar One...I am feeling the weight of so much coursework and yet I find it invigorating.  Somewhere in the midst of all this excitement, I am determined to enjoyed the crisp Autumn air and the laughter of my children. 

All things on earth point home in old October: sailors to sea, travelers to walls and fences, hunters to field and hollow and the long voice of the hounds, the lover to the love he has forsaken.  ~Thomas Wolfe  


04 October 2011

Young...at Heart

Children are the hands by which we take hold of Heaven.  ~Henry Ward Beecher   There is something that happens to me each and every weekday now, something that brings a smile to my heart.  My youngest child is a student at "my" school, the one at which I teach.  This means she is never far away, and always, always, she finds me to deliver a hug.  Her classmates then greet me...  "Hi, Lane's Mom," they say.  To them, I am not their potential future teacher.  I am simply "Lane's Mom."  That, most definitely, is good enough for me.  Your children are not your children. They are the sons and daughters of Life's longing for itself... You may house their bodies but not their souls, for their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams. ~Kahlil Gibran

*     *     *
A child's world is fresh and new and beautiful, full of wonder and excitement. It is our misfortune that for most of us that clear-eyed vision, that true instinct for what is beautiful and awe-inspiring, is dimmed and even lost before we reach adulthood.  ~Rachel Carson  

Fortunately, for some of us, this is untrue.  Rather,

Youth is a perpetual intoxication; it is a fever of the mind.  ~Francois Duc de La Rochefoucauld  I know this is true.  How?  Two words:  Gerard Butler.  Uh huh.  I was perusing a favorite blogger's site, Lisa Leonard Designs, and here's what I found.  Yep.

And finally, this note to self.  
Read.  Repeat.  Believe.  

“When I say, 'I love you,' it's not because I want you or because I can't have you. It has nothing to do with me. I love what you are, what you do, how you try. I've seen your kindness and your strength. I've seen the best and the worst of you. And I understand with perfect clarity exactly what you are. You're a hell of a woman.” ~Joss Whedon

That's all.  For now.  xo, ~S. 

23 September 2011

Mirror, Mirror

Things that have made me recently reflective ~
re·flec·tion (rĭ-flĕk'shən) n.  1. The act of reflecting or the state of being reflected.  2. Something, such as light, radiant heat, sound, or an image, that is reflected.  3. Mental concentration; careful consideration.  4. An indirect expression of censure or discredit.  5. A manifestation or result.

The word 'benign' and all it implies.  Thank you, God.

A fading pink sky, a rising mist, a full moon.

Saying hello, reminiscing with old friends, 'church lady food', saying goodbye.

Biscuits and gravy with my daughter, soccer tournaments, the anticipation of a St. Louis visit.

A rose from a student...yellow, of course.

The sounds of a late night train. 

A quote:  "I read and walked for miles at night along the beach, writing bad blank verse and searching endlessly for someone wonderful who would step out of the darkness and change my life. It never crossed my mind that that person could be me." ~Anne Quindlen 
...or two:  "The problems of the world cannot possibly be solved by skeptics or cynics whose horizons are limited by the obvious realities. We need men who can dream of things that never were." ~John F. Kennedy
The arrival of fall, when my senses are most keen, the time of year when my sentiments are heightened.  It is in these days that I am an old, old soul.
Magic:  "Second star to the right, then straight on 'til morning...That Peter had told Wendy, was the way to Neverland."
And with that, I think I'll take flight.  For now.  ~S.

11 September 2011

Let's roll.

Time is passing. Yet, for the United States of America, there will be no forgetting September the 11th. We will remember every rescuer who died in honor. We will remember every family that lives in grief. We will remember the fire and ash, the last phone calls, the funerals of the children. ~President George W. Bush, November 11, 2001 

These lines from final verse of our national anthem speak to my heart.  I hope they do likewise to yours.

Blest with vict'ry and peace, may the heav'n-rescued land
Praise the Pow'r that hath made and preserv'd us a nation!
Then conquer we must, when our cause is just,
And this be our motto: "In God is our trust"
And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

May you and yours be richly blessed.  ~S.

04 September 2011


I am in 'a mood' and have decided to whittle away the edge of it with words.  I am typing in a public place and I find the blaring sounds of YouTube on a neighboring laptop to be intrusive.  I wish I'd brought along my earphones.  I could wear them myself or offer them to the party at the adjacent table in exchange for some peace and quiet.  Annoying, too, is the way the young man behind the cafe counter keeps flicking his braid, a tiny thing that hangs behind one ear and down onto his shoulder.  (I don't understand the purpose of this style statement.  It seems bizarre, or maybe my thoughts simply indicate I am growing old.)  He serves me my vanilla cupcake with a smile and a wish for a great day.  Now I feel bad.  I need to rewind and begin again.  I, of all people, should know better than to judge a book by its cover.  Dang it.  What is wrong with me today?

Right now I wish Cape Cod wasn't so far from here...or maybe I am wishing that I was far away on Cape Cod.  My little sis pointed me in this direction and I am 'homesick'...

I love the work of Holly Mathis Interiors and think I could make it work here, on Nantucket Island:

And this driveway is lovely:

A young girl nearby has just asked to use my phone.  She is obviously trying to study but is frustrated with a new-but-dead battery in her own.  There is something about helping someone else that lessens the egocentrism.  My mood is shifting...

Someday, when we both reminisce we'll both say, 'There wasn't too much we missed,' and through the tears we'll smile when we recall we had it all for just a moment. ~St. Elmo's Fire
Sit in reverie and watch the changing color of the waves that break upon the idle seashore of the mind.           ~Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
To lick your wounds, to smack your lips over grievances long past, to roll over your tongue the prospect of bitter confrontations still to come, to savor to the last toothsome morsel--both the pain you are given and the pain you are giving back--in many ways it is a feast fit for a king. The chief drawback is that what you are wolfing down is yourself. The skeleton at the feast is you. ~Frederick Buechner
 There:  a few final quotes...for me, if not for you.  I think I can study now.  I think.  ~S.

30 August 2011

Over the River and Through the Woods

The memories which peaceful country scenes call up, are not of this world, nor of its thoughts and hopes. Their gentle influence may teach us how to weave fresh garlands for the graves of those we loved: may purify our thoughts, and bear down before it old enmity and hatred; but beneath all this, there lingers, in the least reflective mind, a vague and half-formed consciousness of having held such feelings long before, in some remote and distant time, which calls up solemn thoughts of distant times to come, and bends down pride and worldliness beneath it. ~Charles Dickens

Is it any wonder this place is called Spring Garden?  That is the name of my childhood...of grandma's house. 

the yard
apple orchard
site of the old grape vines and a cherry tree
This tree reminds me of my favorite book, To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. Scout's reflective thoughts near the end of the story always tugs at me a bit... "We came to the street light on the corner, and I wondered how many times Dill had stood there hugging the fat pole, watching, waiting, hoping. I wondered how many times Jem and I had made this journey, but I entered the Radley front gate for the second time in my life. Boo and I walked up the steps to the porch. His fingers found the front doorknob. He gently released my hand, opened the door, went inside, and shut the door behind him. I never saw him again. Neighbors bring food with death and flowers with sickness and little things in between. Boo was our neighbor. He gave us two soap dolls, a broken watch and chain, a pair of good-luck pennies, and our lives. But neighbors give in return. We never put back into the tree what we took out of it: we had given him nothing, and it made me sad."
We should all have one person who knows how to bless us despite the evidence, Grandmother was that person to me. ~Phyllis Theroux 
the old Spring Garden Baptist Church, abandoned for a newer structure, still stands on grandma's property

This little one-room schoolhouse, still in use as a community building, is just a skip down the gravel road from grandma's house.  I can see it from her porch.  I took this photo on the Fourth of July and love it.  My mother attended first grade here.  As a first grade teacher myself, this place is rather sweet.

xo, S.

01 August 2011


Somewhere in the world today is a boy, I mean a man, who is celebrating a birthday.  He was from Paris and spent a month in my neighborhood as a foreign exchange student in the summer of 1986.  He attempted to teach his uncultured American friends how to blow smoke rings.  I wonder where he is today.  I wonder why I even wonder.

July was a lot of busy-ness for me.  I completed the inaugural session of my doctoral work and just last evening, registered for the next semester of courses.  Now if only gas prices would fall (ha), I'd enjoy the trek to class a bit more.  I am contemplating research in the area of literacy-deficit children and their experiences in the primary grades.  I have this persistent drive to narrow my focus and make a plan.  Time is money and I'd like to begin spending less of it (money, that is).  Besides, if I'm going to conduct research and then prepare a manuscript of, say, 500 to 1000 to God-knows-how-many pages, I'd rather begin sooner than later.

I'd also like the rain to begin sooner versus later.  Days on end with exorbitant temperatures and sweltering humidity makes for hefty doses of misery.  I need gills.  I am dreaming of fall, of this:

Flicker. Onironauta.

Summer here is summed up by one word:  sweat.  Personally, I think sweat is disgusting. 

So today while I clothe myself in air conditioning,  I am going to begin the prep work for creating an office.  First, I need to clear the area (a lofty goal).  Ultimately, I think I'd like a space like this:  

or this:

using fabric like this:

on a settee such as this:

inside of antiquated walls like these:

in a setting identical to this:

And now we're back to Autumn...soon, I hope.  *sigh*

22 July 2011

Into My Own

~Robert Frost
ONE of my wishes is that those dark trees,
So old and firm they scarcely show the breeze,
Were not, as ’twere, the merest mask of gloom,
But stretched away unto the edge of doom.
I should not be withheld but that some day       
Into their vastness I should steal away,
Fearless of ever finding open land,
Or highway where the slow wheel pours the sand.

I do not see why I should e’er turn back,
Or those should not set forth upon my track       
To overtake me, who should miss me here
And long to know if still I held them dear.

They would not find me changed from him they knew—
Only more sure of all I thought was true.

Dear Mom,

Many words in these posts are about dad, perhaps not always overtly so, but you recognize the ebb and flow of my words.  Sometimes the most difficult aspect of a relationship is the lack of closure following its end.  I seem to be always searching for the period at the end of the sentence, or the epilogue that comes at the fading of the book.  It is true that dad provided much of the fuel for my maddening fight.  Sometimes it was much like gasoline.  Ultimately though, the story of me is about survival.  For that fire, I can be grateful to dad despite everything.

The heart of a mother is a deep abyss at the bottom of which you will always find forgiveness. ~Honore de Balzac, author

Still, I wonder if you can forgive me...for always looking back at the sadness, for struggling to channel the anger, for trying to assimilate it all, somehow, into my life today.  What I want you to know is that I have not forgotten:  I am not only his daughter.  I am yours as well.  No matter how old a mother is, she watches her middle-aged children for signs of improvement. ~Florida Scott-Maxwell  It is your calm, your smile, the seeds that you have sown. ~ These are anchors that hold me steady when my heart is adrift. You are, as you always have been, a safe harbor.

What I want you to know is that where I have been may have a lot to do with dad, but where I am going has everything to do with you.  How could you have known so many years ago that those alphabet flashcards (still in my cabinet) and journals and stories ~ shared because you believed literacy mattered ~ could have such an impact? Most mothers are instinctive philosophers. ~Harriet Beecher Stowe  More importantly, I watched (and am still watching) you read.  You taught by example. That best academy, a mother's knee. ~James Russell Lowell  And so today, as I contemplate research that will perhaps impact the lives of others, I return to those memories of us...a mother and her young child, reading and learning and falling in love with words. I only hope that every child might be so blessedWhatever I do in this educational journey that is good, it is you to whom I am indebted foremost.  Love, S. xo

As is the mother, so is her daughter.~Ezekiel 16:4  
Lord, let it be so.

Patriotism, belated, is still timely...

O' beautiful for spacious skies

This is America ... a brilliant diversity spread like stars, like a thousand points of light in a broad and peaceful sky. ~GEORGE H.W. BUSH, RNC acceptance speech, August 18, 1988

God bless America, land that I love. Stand beside her, and guide her, through the night with a light from above.

Young man, there is America -- which at this day serves for little more than to amuse you with stories of savage men, and uncouth manners; yet shall, before you taste of death, show itself equal to the whole of that commerce which now attracts the envy of the world. ~EDMUND BURKE, speech on conciliation with America, 1775

 God shed His grace on Thee

No People can be bound to acknowledge and adore the invisible hand, which conducts the Affairs of men more than the People of the United States. Every step, by which they have advanced to the character of an independent nation, seems to have been distinguished by some token of providential agency.
~GEORGE WASHINGTON, first inaugural address, Apr. 30, 1789

O' say does that star spangled banner yet wave, o'er the Land of the Free, and the Home of the Brave?

France was a land, England was a people, but America, having about it still that quality of the idea, was harder to utter—it was the graves at Shiloh and the tired, drawn, nervous faces of its great men, and the country boys dying in the Argonne for a phrase that was empty before their bodies withered. It was a willingness of the heart.
F. SCOTT FITZGERALD, "The Swimmers," Saturday Evening Post, Oct. 19, 1929

The God who gave us life, gave us liberty at the same time. 
~Thomas Jefferson

03 July 2011

Hello, again.

I am a bit sad today.  I realized how busy I've become and until this morning, I hadn't even thought of this blog for a week or two.  It is summer, true, and that involves camp and vacation and swimming lessons and and and...and summer school for me so, yes, my schedule is packed.  I am learning much in my current classes, thanks to an incredible amount of reading.  The latest assignment, though ~ an article for which I must provide an annotation for my peers ~ is excruciating.  It was written by a feminist and although I champion the female cause, the bias of her position is ugh.  And so I am here instead, writing, because I happen to like my voice better than hers at the present time.
On a completely random note, I found these photos on Pinterest and was reminded of some childhood happiness.  When I was but a few years old, my mom made me a butterfly cake for my birthday.  It had sky blue frosting, just like on these cupcakes shown.  She found the design in a cookbook (which she still has on a bookshelf somewhere).  The cakes in that book were fabulous to me, and I'd sit and look at the pictures often.  And the turkeys ~ the ones my mom made weren't quite like these.  They were not edible but looked similar.  I remember the bodies were made from small paper cups (to hold nuts or candies), and the feathers were cut from construction paper.  I believe they were used as party favors.  The leftover supplies from the craft were stored in a desk drawer, and I used them often for my own projects until, alas, they were finally gone.

  As for childhood, my daughters are keeping me in smiles.  My youngest sat near me, 'reading' the Bible the other evening.  She was sharing the story of Mary's journey to Bethlehem.  What I did not know, until then, is that Mary's last name was Jefferson, and during her travels she also visited Africa, Illinois and California.  That particular lesson will surely prove beneficial for some New Testament trivia at some point.  My child has also developed a gift for writing songs.  She played her piece before swimming lessons today.  She indicated it is a love song.  (Um, she's five years old.)  She let me read the lyrics.  Truly, truly, this is a mother's love song.
As I race to complete this post, I anticipate but one more before my summer fades into a classroom, one in which I am again the student.   Tomorrow my family will travel to the magical town of Spring Garden and I will include a bit of it here.  It has been awhile since I've visited there...my mother's childhood home, my grandmother's house when she was well.  I have so many Fourth of July memories stored there and it will be a nice return.  The old white house.  The church bell.  The one-room school house.  Lilac bushes and honeysuckle.  Reminders of family dinners in the yard.  The cherry tree.  Gravel roads.  Lightning bugs.  Barbecue.  Homemade ice cream.  Watermelon.  Chocolate pie.  Singing "America the Beautiful" with cousins atop the doghouse.  My grandmother's echo: "I love you too, kid."  I miss those words.  Tomorrow, maybe tomorrow, I can conjure their sound...if not in my ears, then in my heart.
xo, ~S.