31 January 2011

Sei sempre nel mio cuore.

Family Weekend.  St. Louis.  Good food.  Great company.  What's not to love?  In a few short days my firstborn will celebrate her 19th birthday.  Nineteen.  Wasn't I just that age myself?  The four of us loaded into the vehicle for a Saturday road trip to see our girl.  Along the way we saw this:

My friend aptly described the atmosphere.  The night before, some of us sat awake and watched as Egypt began to unravel at her seams.  The black-rimmed gun of the tank was a reminder that the winds of war continue to blow.  Then, upon arriving at campus, we viewed this:

An authentic piece Egyptian art on papyrus, it depicts Isis, goddess of motherhood, marriage and love, leading Nefertari, chief queen and favorite wife of Ramses II.  This is my daughter's gift from her boyfriend, who vacationed in Egypt this past summer.  It is my hope that our strongest Arab ally will not fall apart...

As we visited her dorm room  it is, not surprisingly, tidy as ever.  The little ones easily made themselves "at home" there, taking over the desk, the pens and paper, even the laptop.  My youngest, still in preschool, has yet to figure out why McKenzie has to go to 'tollege' or why she (still the little one) can't be left behind to hang out with McKenzie for awhile instead of returning home with her parents.  The girls love their big sister, and she loves them too.  Meanwhile, her dad and I sat on her small college bed while McKenzie talked to us, with us, as the adult she has become.  You are beautiful inside and out, sweet girl.  xoxo

The celebratory birthday lunch took place on "The Hill."  There is no other place to enjoy the perfect Italian meal while in St. Louis.  It is an area famous for its Italian-American heritage, where restaurants and bakeries are tucked between small residential homes of former immigrants.  At Zia's, the Seafood Stuffed Mushrooms are exquisite.  The Pollo Parmigiana is top notch, and the homemade bread?  Just add olive oil and Parmesan.  The price tag isn't bad either. Baseball fans recognize "The Hill" as the home of Yogi Berra and Joe Garagiola.  Jack Buck,. Cardinals broadcaster, also lived in the area early in his career.  The neighborhood has a particular American story feel to it.  I'm anxious to return. 

 Piccola di papà
Piccola principessa
"Tutte le strade portano a Roma." 

28 January 2011

Stories to Tell

As depressing as the words may seem, that's not really the message I intend to convey.  Brandi Carlile's voice is enchanting ~ folksy ~ and I hope you'll take some time to hear her music.  I've been enjoying it for awhile now.  The lyrics to one of these songs had already found their way into today's post, but I stumbled across the words of still another and couldn't resist them either.  As some of you know, I've been playing with the writing of a novel for awhile.  Contained in these two songs are the names of the essential characters in the book.  An interesting coincidence, yes, but the messages are hauntingly relevant to my story's plot.  I am in awe, and feel propelled to spend hours writing this weekend.  Enjoy.

"The Story"
~ Brandi Carlile ~

All of these lines across my face
Tell you the story of who I am
So many stories of where I've been
And how I got to where I am

But these stories don't mean anything
When you've got no one to tell them to
It's true
I was made for you

I climbed across the mountain tops
Swam all across the ocean blue
I crossed all the lines and I broke all the rules
But baby I broke them all for you

Because even when I was flat broke
You made me feel like a million bucks
You do
I was made for you

You see the smile that's on my mouth
It's hiding the words that don't come out
And all of my friends who think that I'm blessed
They don't know my head is a mess

No, they don't know who I really am
And they don't know what
I've been through like you do
And I was made for you

All of these lines across my face
Tell you the story of who I am
So many stories of where I've been
And how I got to where I am

But these stories don't mean anything
When you've got no one to tell them to
It's true
I was made for you

It's true
I was made for you 

  *     *     *  

~ Brandi Carlile ~

I was born when I met you
Now I'm dying to forget you
And that is what I know
Though I dreamed I would fall
Like a wounded cannonball
Sinking down with my heart in tow

Bright lights like white lightning
Who shot me down
Who cut me down
I'm frozen in my bed till the day comes around
How I'm lost
How I'm found

There's a man all alone
Telling me his friends are gone
That they've died and flown away
So I told him he was wrong
That your friends are never gone
If you look to the sky and pray

Someone told me a lie
Someone looked me in the eye
And said time will ease your pain
But behold, when you fall
Its that same old cannonball
Coming back for your heart again

Bright lights like white lightning
Who shot me down
Who cut me down
I'm frozen in my bed till the day comes around
And it may come around
Till the day comes around
How I'm lost
How I'm found

I was born when I met you
Now I'm dying to forget you
And that is what I know


*     *     * 

Your Best Life Now, by Joel Osteen. 
Chapter 17: Letting Go of Emotional Wounds.

Quit dwelling on what could have been, should have been, or might have been... Take what God has given you and make the most of it.  You may have suffered much, endured great hardships, or been through a lot of negative things.  You may have deep scars from emotional wounds, but don't let your past determine your future.  You can't do anything about what's happened to you, but you can choose how you will face what's in front of you.  Don't hold on to feelings of bitterness and resentment and let them poison your future.  Let go of those hurts and pains.  Forgive the people who did you wrong.  Forgive yourself for the mistakes you have made.

The song lyrics above are less about me and more about those whose names are hidden within, the characters whose epilogue I already know by heart.  Osteen's words, however, spoke directly to my heart today.  Forgive the people who did you wrong.  Forgive yourself for the mistakes you have made.  The words are written as a command.  Sometimes, sometimes obedience is the hardest part.

27 January 2011

A Big Day

Today is a good day.  I wondered...since I'd felt a moodswing stirring last night.  Ridiculous.  Why should today not be as fabulous as any other?  Apparently it was less so for some of my students ~ our class size was reduced from 19 to 14 for the day and I have no idea why.  I hope the kiddos are feeling well enough to return to school tomorrow.  I missed them!  For those of us present, there was a birthday celebration (Thanks for the brownies, C!) and I stumbled upon some treasures from my trip to Japan.  I'd stored the items at school and apparently kept them in such a safe spot that I'd forgotten all about them!  So today the students and I took another little trip, this time to East Asia.  I hope someday when they climb inside the Great Daibatsu in the beautiful old region of Kamakura, they'll return to tell me of their adventures and remember the day when they first dreamed of the possibility.


"Hyaku go yori isshou."
A smile is worth a thousand words.
American on the left, Japanese on the right


a snow capped Mt. Fuji in the distance
The Great Daibatsu...The Great Buddha
I discovered yet another lost prize at school.  (I suppose that makes this my lucky day.)  I have an affinity for a particular old sweatshirt, a sweatshirt that had been missing for far too long.  I purchased it on the Country Club Plaza while spending a weekend with my college roommate in Kansas City years ago.  The material is frayed at the neckline and wrists, yet I wear it anyway.  It is sunny yellow with letters stitched in nautical blue.  I'm wearing it tonight like a warm hug.  That ~ especially today ~ feels nice.

And now I think I'll return to that which is familiar.  I'm heading west a bit for some comfort food. 
I think I'll make it for someone I love.

Piperada Sandwich
(Basque Omelette)
8 -10 tablespoons olive oil
2 small onions, coarsely chopped
4 bell peppers, seeded and chopped (red, orange or yellow)
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 pinch cayenne
1 1/2 lbs tomatoes (peeled, seeded and chopped)
1 teaspoon oregano
1 long French bread
2 tablespoons butter
6 eggs, beaten
basil (optional)

Heat 4 T olive oil in a large heavy frying pan. Add the onions and cook over a gentle heat, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes until they are softened but not colored. Add the peppers, garlic and cayenne to the pan. Cook for another 5 minutes, stirring, then add the tomatoes, seasoning and oregano.  Cook over moderate heat for 15-20 minutes until peppers are soft and most of the liquid has evaporated.  Preheat oven to 400. Cut the bread in half lengthwise, trim off ends and cut into six equal pieces, brush with remaining olive oil. Place bread on baking trays and bake for 8-10 minutes until crisp and just turning golden. Heat the butter in a pan until it bubbles, add eggs and cook, stirring, until softly scrambled. Turn off heat and stir in the pepper mixture. Divide evenly among the pieces of bread and sprinkle with basil, if using. Serve hot.

One kind word can warm three winter months. ~Japanese proverb  I can think of more than one, but tonight, I'm letting my heart smile while my lips fall silent.  ~S.

25 January 2011

Small Town

"Famous In A Small Town"
Travis Howard, Miranda Lambert

They say life is so much sweeter
Through the telephoto lens of fame
Around here you get just as much attention
Cheerin' at the high school football game

I dreamed of going to Nashville
Put my money down and placed my bet
But I just got the first buck of the season
I made the front page of the Turnertown Gazette

Every last one, route one, rural heart's got a story to tell
Every grandma, in-law, ex-girlfriend
Maybe knows it just a little too well
Whether you're late for church or you're stuck in jail
Hey, word's gonna get around
Everybody dies famous in a small town

Tyler and Casey broke up
It ended pretty quietly
And we heard he was caught red-handed with her mama
So that's just what they let us all believe

Every last one, route one, rural heart's got a story to tell
Every grandma, in-law, ex-girlfriend
Maybe knows it just a little too well
Whether you're late for church or you're stuck in jail
Hey, word's gonna get around
Everybody dies famous in a small town

Well, baby
Who needs their faces in a magazine?
Me and you
We've been stars in this town since we were seventeen

Let's go on down to the quick stop
Wear your yellow shades and I'll put on my tight jeans
and we'll just spend the weekend burnin' rubber
And we'll let 'em point and stare in disbelief

'Cause every last one, route one, rural heart's got a story to tell
Every grandma, in-law, ex-girlfriend
Maybe knows it just a little too well
Whether you're late for church or you're stuck in jail
Hey, word's gonna get around
Everybody dies famous in a small town
Everybody dies famous in a small town

I've said it before:  I love my town.  It's a small city, with a small-er town feel.  Cozy.  Comfortable.  Familiar.  Yesterday I dined at my favorite restaurant ever.  Arris' Pizza Palace is a local tradition.  I remember my first visit there.  My dad and mom took me and my sister for a large sausage pizza and a pitcher of Coke.  That was a long time ago.  A lot has changed ~ my family, the restaurant's atmosphere ~ but much remains the same.  I still order that same sausage pizza (handmade Greek sausage, that is)...

...and I still enjoy the view while I indulge.

When you finally go back to your old hometown, you find it wasn't the old home you missed but your childhood.  ~Sam Ewing

There's a lot to be said for small town life.  I wouldn't trade it
for, say, the world.

I had rather be on my farm than be emperor of the world. ~George Washington

It was supposed to snow another 4-6 inches today.  The meterologists were wrong.  So few snowflakes, and they never even stuck.  That means school will be in session.  I'm only mildly sorry.  As much as I love winter, I'm still dreaming of spring.  I've decided to buy flower pots this week.  I won't be planting flowers yet (too many snow angels left to make), but I'll be baking these:
Topped like this:

Or maybe I'll make one of these:

Tomato Tarte
Raspberry Tarte
I must, I must, I must quit typing while my stomach is talking to me.  I am hungry!  Due to some health 'issues', I've upped the calories (no regrets, the starvation plan served its purpose) and am dreaming of food.  Good food.  Fresh food. 
The farmer has to be an optimist or he wouldn't still be a farmer. ~Will Rogers
Farmer's Market food.  I cannot wait!

23 January 2011

Dear Jaime,

I'm sitting here typing this love note, but I will not finish the post until tomorrow or later.  I must soon get ready for an evening out with you.  Tonight you are not eleven years my junior.  Tonight you are, quite simply, my friend...and I am yours, just as I have been for the past two decades.  I am writing this to you, for you, because I anticipate there are words I will forget to say in your presence.  I want to somehow capture the message so you can keep it with you, so that you will not forget.  I have loved people that you have loved, and detested others on your behalf.  I have always felt a sense of regret that I did not do more.  I think you know what I mean. Just please believe what I know to be true:  You are beautiful and strong, and you are worth so much more than the hand you've been dealt.  Keep putting one foot in front of the other and someday, someday, you'll be far away from this place of today.  I love you, Jaime.  You know I do.  Great things await.  I have no doubt.  I will always be your cheerleader.  Always.
It's not who you are that holds you back, it's who you think you're not. ~Author Unknown

If you hear a voice within you say "you cannot paint," then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced. ~Vincent Van Gogh

If you really put a small value upon yourself, rest assured that the world will not raise your price. ~Author Unknown

It is not the mountain we conquer but ourselves.
~Edmund Hillary

Always act like you're wearing an invisible crown. ~Author Unknown

It's hard to fight an enemy who has outposts in your head.
~Sally Kempton, Esquire, 1970

Pay no attention to what the critics say. A statue has never been erected in honor of a critic. ~Jean Sibelius

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, "Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?" Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It is not just in some of us; it is in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others. ~Marianne Williamson, A Return to Love: Reflections on the Principles of "A Course in Miracles," 1992

With so much love and affection, my friend. ~S.

21 January 2011

Peace of Mind

"Life, love, and laughter - what priceless gifts to give our children." ~Phyllis Dryden

This week in class as the students and I discussed themes associated with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., a little girl asked, "Why did he die?"  Bigotry.  Prejudice.  It breaks my heart each time I try to explain these things to six and seven year-olds.  These concepts, fortunately, are foreign to them.  They have not [yet] learned ~or been taught~ to hate.  It is my sincerest wish that it may always remain so...  A young boy in our room commented, "And there wasn't very good security in those days."  Security.  That's a big word for a young one.  He lives in a world where even children are in tune to organized protection from society's dangers.  Sad.  Shortly thereafter, my phone displayed a push notification from FOX News, "Two Shot at a California High School.  Gunman in Custody."  Seriously, at some point we need to stand up and take accountability for breeding monsters...which brings me to my next rant.  Last night, while working on a Social Studies project, my daughter said, "I just realized something.  I always thought tourists were people who went around killing other people.  I was actually thinking of terrorists."  How unfortunate is it that my little girl is familiar with the word terrorist, yet not the word tourist?  I have failed her by not giving her adequate doses of positivity.  As a mom, my heart is frowning.  Even so, these words from Helen Keller bring a bit of comfort.  Who, really, is better able to comment on a sense of security?  “Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing.”

*     *     *
 “Sunshine cannot bleach the snow, Nor time unmake what poets know.” 
~Ralph Waldo Emerson

Morning Sun
There is little that brings me peace like the silence of snowfall.  We've had a lot of that around here lately ~ snowfall, that is.  Thanks to an appointment at the doctor's office today, I will not be going to work.  After taking my little one to preschool, I circled the Capitol.  It was a scant 6 degrees outside and I had no coat with me (of course), but I couldn't help but get out of my heated car and walk around a bit.  Beautiful. 

And as I stood high above the Missouri River looking at the bridge in the far distance, it began to snow.  When I left this vantage point, the falling snow was also left behind.  How interesting, to stand along the edge of the river and be snowed upon, when just a few feet away, no flakes fell.  Magical.

*     *     *
And finally, there's a new song on my iPod.  I've included lyric excerpts of  Pink's latest hit, "F----- Perfect" (the clean version, because the profanity isn't the point).  I like her grit, though.  She's a tough girl.  Like me.  Most of the time.  ~S.

Made a wrong turn, once or twice
Dug my way out, blood and fire
Bad decisions, that's alright
Welcome to my silly life
Mistreated, misplaced, misunderstood
Miss 'No way, it's all good', it didn't slow me down
Mistaken, always second guessing, underestimated
Look, I'm still around

Pretty pretty please, don't you ever ever feel
Like you're less than perfect
Pretty pretty please, if you ever ever feel like you're nothing
You're perfect to me!

You're so mean, when you talk about yourself, you were wrong
Change the voices in your head, make them like you instead
So complicated, look happy, you'll make it!
Filled with so much hatred...such a tired game
It's enough! I've done all I can think of
Chased down all my demons, I've seen you do the same

Oh, pretty pretty please, don't you ever ever feel
Like you're less than perfect
Pretty pretty please, if you ever ever feel like you're nothing
You're perfect to me

17 January 2011

Say Cheese

“As my sufferings mounted I soon realized that there were two ways in which I could respond to my situation — either to react with bitterness, or seek to transform the suffering into a creative force. I decided to follow the latter course."
~Martin Luther King, Jr.

His words speak for themselves.  I think I'll follow suit.  Whether the battles be obvious or simply hidden within, I'm going to try to put the energy to good use.

*     *     *
Footnotes to Some Amazing Garlic Spaghetti
[see yesterday's recipe] 
  • For a family of 4 or 5, double the recipe.
  • This sauce is NOT your traditional spaghetti sauce.  The oil and butter leaves it, well, oily.  It tastes fabulous (according to moi and Melissa D'Arabian), but may not be palatable to everyone.
  • The sauce will make an excellent addition to bruschetta or crostini.  Just grab a pastry brush and add some fresh and yummy veggies from the Farmer's Market.  (Coming soon!)
*     *     *
I've had little sleep lately and, given today's holiday-induced day off work, I slept late...really late...until 9:27 a.m. late.  It was nice!  Then my girls and I 'hung out' a bit.  My baby Lane (who isn't really a baby anymore) said, "You look beautiful, mommy."  I have never liked photographs of myself.  I am rather self-conscious, but today, I posed for Lane. 

 Some of the shots she took herself. Honestly, they are some of my favorite pictures of myself. That's hard to admit. Maybe it's the love of an almost-five-year-old that made the difference today.  I'm posting these as a testament to your talent, Lane (and at your request, because I love you). 
xoxo, ~Mommy.

While there is perhaps a province in which the photograph can tell us nothing more than what we see with our own eyes, there is another in which it proves to us how little our eyes permit us to see. ~Dorothea Lange


 Thank you, Baby Lane.  You captured the age of my heart.  Today I feel 17...not 40.  Hugs back to you, sweet little one. 

When words become unclear, I shall focus with photographs. When images become inadequate, I shall be content with silence. ~Ansel Adams

16 January 2011


There isn't a child who hasn't gone out into the brave new world who eventually doesn't return to the old homestead carrying a bundle of dirty clothes. ~Art Buchwald

She is gone.  McKenzie has left to return to college after a month-long furlow at home.  I wonder if she really knows how much she is already missed.  Be safe, sweet girl.  I will see you soon.  Love, mom.  xoxo

"There is always a moment in childhood when the door opens and lets the future in." ~ Graham Greene

And so today includes a bit of glum.  I was thinking of taking a brisk walk, but at 24 degrees and a very soggy outdoors, I think I'll stay inside and dream of Spring awhile...  Kudos to you again, Amy.  My little sis has introduced me to a site I'm liking...A LOT.  The Boden clothing line hails from Britain.  I love the scenery... (I'd really like to walk these these lanes.)

I love the philosophy:  Cast your eyes over our Spring range. A wealth of brighter hues, set to remind you of days when the sun rose before you did. Enjoy.

And I love this shirt and the fact that the girl even looks a bit like me. 

After folding laundry to the sound of Food Network in the background, I'm feeling inspired to cook something really fresh for dinner.  Melissa D'Arabian shared this recipe from a favorite restaurant in Vermont.  When I return to the northeast, I'm stopping by!

Garlic Spaghetti

  • 9 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 6 tablespoons butter
  • 1 (15-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 pound spaghetti, cooked al dente
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
  • Grated Parmesan, for garnish 
In a small saucepan, cook the garlic in the olive oil for 30 minutes on low heat. Stir occasionally to keep the garlic from drying out. In a medium saucepan, add the butter and tomatoes, and stir until well blended and the butter is melted. Stir in the garlic oil and season with salt and pepper. Allow the flavors to meld for 10 minutes. Toss with the spaghetti and serve garnished with basil and Parmesan.

Apparently the key is to steep the garlic in olive oil long enough to removes its sweetness.  Oh my goodness...hunger strikes again.  Deliziosa.

I've already confessed.  I have a tendency to hang onto things longer than I should.  Although I'm pining for Spring, I'm not yet ready to say goodbye to winter.  Snow is coming to visit me tomorrow (I hope) and this, too, is welcome.  The lyrics to Winter Song, by Sara Bareilles and Ingrid Michaelson, are significant too.  (To avoid a cacophony, pause the playlist at the bottom of this page before listening.)

This is my winter song to you
The storm is coming soon
It rolls in from the sea

My voice a beacon in the night
My words will be your light
To carry you to me

*     *     *
They say that things just cannot grow
Beneath the winter snow
Or so I have been told

They say we're buried far
Just like a distant star
I simply cannot hold
*     *     *
I still believe in summer days
The seasons always change
And life will find a way

And before I go ~ I stumbled upon a particular blog in an unlikely place (via Huckleberry Prairie by way of Sugarpie Farmhouse).  This is not the type of blog I tend to read ~ which has effectively changed as of this moment! ~ and my guess is that it's not Huckleberry Prairie's typical read either.  My curiosity was piqued.  Meet Kandee Johnson: make-up artist by trade...style seeker, heart inspirer, and happy maker by heart.  I found these words on the video located at her "About Me" page:  "You are more beautiful than you know, more talented than you think, and more loved than you can imagine."  And at the video's close, this:  "Keep your hopes alive and your heart and chin even higher.  No matter what is going on, think of it as getting you stronger and more prepared for greatness.  I love you and believe in you.  If no one else tells you that today, I did." 

Ah, good stuff!  ~S.

12 January 2011

Cabin Fever

It is the second snow day in a row.  The temperatures are frigid and it's too frightening to let the little ones outdoors.  They tried yesterday, to play in the snow that is, and the effort was less than a success.  Their college-age-sister's-boyfriend invited them over to sled in his neighborhood (thanks, Adam!) and reminded him, I'm sure, of why it's nice not to have little sisters underfoot with any regularity.  Still, it was sweet to see my daughters dressed in snowsuits, hats, gloves, scarves and boots...and less than sweet to see the resulting chapped hands and cheeks.  The price we pay to play with winter, however, is very often worth it, and makes the hot chocolate epilogue all the tastier.

I am a kid at heart and love the anticipation (followed by the realization) of school cancellations due to inclement weather.  These days offer opportunities I don't often find so readily available ~ a laundry room sans laundry to be washed and dried, a kitchen with children and warm food and candles emitting cinnamon scents in the daylight hours, a big leather chair waiting for hours of a book-laden occupant, and a few extra coveted minutes to write.  Tonight I'll be back to the grind.  I have a pile, 3 feet high, of teacher's manuals, curriculum guides, and files for lesson plans that I must tackle ~ I mean, um, peruse ~ before returning to school tomorrow.  I'm slightly more motivated than I was two days ago.  This winter-induced respite has helped a bit. 

This is precisely what I mean by Cabin Fever.  I'm not aching to break out of this house.  I am searching, though, for some direction regarding my career and educational pursuits.  I'm feeling something of a Seven Year Itch (although I've been at this for far more than seven years) and need to find a more narrow focus for my rambling mind.  I can honestly say I do not know where this will lead, maybe nowhere (and that's okay, too), but I'm anxious to find out.  Perhaps a road trip is in order...when the wind is a bit warmer and feeling fresh in my hair.  It's good for me, in such this way, to clear my mind and discover my focus...again.

I do know that I'm excited to share the happiness of some good friends.  One of my favorite bloggers, England's own Bertie Meadows, is back and newly married.  She inspires me, and the countryside in which she lives leaves me smiling.  Also, "my best friend" (as my youngest has deemed her) is opening a new business soon.  Capital City CORK and Provisions will be, I assure you, a local hotspot.  I can't wait to take you there...wine (if you like), gourmet cheeses and chocolates, fresh-baked bread and sandwiches and soups, oh my!  [Note to you, Jami Thornsberry Wade: I love you!]

I am also excited to step on my scale and see the ugly number become a bit more friendly before my eyes.  Last week I measured an 8-pound loss.  I'm hoping for more this week!  I'm in love with my Lemon Zest Luna Bars, my flavorful varieties of Laughing Cow Cheese (a singular wedge will do), and today I enjoyed a half can of Progresso Light Chicken and Dumpling soup.  Those are the some of the best 80 calories I've enjoyed for lunch in awhile...fresh-cracked pepper added, of course.

Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening
by Robert Frost

Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.

My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.

He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound's the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.

The woods are lovely, dark and deep.
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.
So now that I've written awhile, I'm off to make the kitchen smell something like mostaciolli and garlic parmesan bread.  I think those scents will provide an apt backdrop for my visit to Skully's Landing, care of Truman Capote's Other Voices, Other Rooms.  I'd like to chat a bit longer, But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep, And miles to go before I sleep.

09 January 2011

The Steps You Take All By Yourself

Nobody grows old merely by living a number of years. We grow old by deserting our ideals. Years may wrinkle the skin, but to give up enthusiasm wrinkles the soul. ~Samuel Ullman

*     *     *

Today I'm feeling old.  I've got the blues. I'm running low on enthusiasm, but just for today...
I hope. 
*     *     *

"In This Diary"

Here in this diary,
I write you visions of my summer.
It was the best I ever had.
There were choruses and sing-alongs,
and that unspoken feeling
of knowing that right now is all that matters.

All the nights we stayed up talking
listening to 80's songs;
and quoting lines from all those movies that we love.
It still brings a smile to my face.
I guess when it comes down to it...

Being grown up isn't half as fun as growing up:
These are the best days of our lives.
The only thing that matters
is just following your heart
and eventually you'll finally get it right.

Breaking into hotel swimming pools,
and wreaking havoc on our world.
Hanging out at truck stops just to pass the time.
The black top's singing me to sleep.
Lighting fireworks in parking lots,
illuminate the blackest nights.
Cherry cokes under this moonlit summer sky.
2015 Riverside, it's time to say, "goodbye."
Get on the bus, it's time to go.

*     *     *

But summer is long gone and yet also still so far away. I think I'll take a winter's walk... (Thanks, Lisa Leonard, for the inspiration.)

*     *     *

"Can't Go Back Now"

Yesterday, when you were young,
Everything you needed done was done for you.
Now you do it on your own
But you find you're all alone,
What can you do?

You and me walk on
Cause you can't go back now.

You know there will be days when you're so tired that you can't take another step,
The night will have no stars and you'll think you've gone as far as you will ever get
But you and me walk on
Cause you can't go back now
And yeah, yeah, go where you want to go
Be what you want to be,
If you ever turn around, you'll see me.

I can't really say why everybody wishes they were somewhere else
But in the end, the only steps that matter are the ones you take all by yourself

And you and me walk on
Yeah you and me walk on
Cause you can't go back now
Walk on, walk on, walk on
You can't go back now

*     *     *

Our seasons have no fixed returns,
Without our will they come and go;
At noon our sudden summer burns,
Ere sunset all is snow.
~James Russell Lowell

07 January 2011

Oh My Darlin'


(klem′ən tīn′)

1.  A deep red-orange, often seedless mandarin orange.
2.  My saving grace in these days of starvation.

Yep, I said it.  I'm starving.  Maybe not literally, but this exercise in melting away has me feeling h.u.n.g.r.y.  I'm not complaining.  After all, this revolt is self-imposed.  I won't continue on this path for long, but 6 pounds lighter in 4 short days...well, yes, I think it's worth it.

I anticipated treating myself to some celebratory new shoes very soon as a result, but honestly, I have sooooo many pairs of shoes.  Maybe I should hold out until closer to Spring. I have, though, found something I want.  I think this small food processor will make me a very, very happy girl.  I'll be able to make the most of my [so few] calories each day.  The Magic Bullet.  Enough said.

*  *  * 
My sister introduced me to yet another blog.  (I am not accustomed to being told what to do and then subsequently doing it, but I've learned something.  When Amy says, "Check out this blog," it's usually worth my time.  Sometimes having a little sister around isn't so bad after all.  xoxo) 

I was drawn in by the story behind the name of this blog.  I hope you'll read "Joy's Story" from the link in the title banner.  Make sure you have tissues within reach, especially if you are...or were...or hope to be...a mom.  More than anything, the opening caption paraphrases the posts:  Do something good. Everyday.  I agree.  Just do it.

And so today I tried...to do something good, that is.  As I was cleaning out my purse (ugh), I found a receipt I'd saved from The Red Nun.  This was a favorite haunt while I was in Cape Cod.  I began to reminisce.  My time there was life-changing for many reasons.  I carry the northeast with me always and long to return.  My students, however, have not been there...until today.  With the help of AverVision and SmartBoard technology in our classroom, I used my photographs to take them on a trip with me.  We viewed land formations from the airplane...saw rivers and fields, highways and buildings, from miles and miles above the earth.  We soared above the clouds and compared these blankets to that of familiar snow on the ground.  I took them on a boat ride to Nantucket.  We rode the waves, saw the passing boats and water splashing against the windows of our ferry.  We enjoyed lobster, authentic New England Clam Chowder, and stuffed baked quahog.  We were sorry we couldn't taste these through the screen, but somehow, these foods don't seem so 'yucky' anymore.  The students think they now understand why the Pilgrims enjoyed these foods at the first Thanksgiving Feast.  Speaking of which, I also took them on a trip to Provincetown, the original landing site of the Pilgrims, and we visited the tower that stands as a memorial.  And so now I'm feeling a bit selfish.  I returned to New England today because that is where long to be.  I am happy, though, that my students traveled with me, and I think they are happy they went along.

In the classroom, we are currently engaged in an author study of Cynthia Rylant, one of my favorites.  There is an Appalachian theme that runs through much of her work.  My students know my heart is also in the Smokies.  "When are you going to show us pictures of the trip to your mountains?"  My mountains.  And so we'll soon be journeying again.  I'm sure you can guess where we'll adventure next.

*  *  * 
And now I'm switching gears a bit:  She called me resilient.  Thank you, Sarah, for believing that about me even when sometimes I don't.  As I think about "doing something good everyday," I wonder if you realize the good you've done for me.  One word.  Just an adjective, yet so much more.  I'm going to pay it forward to another friend who needs the reminder. 

re·sil·ient [ ri-ˈzil-yənt] adjective

  1. capable of withstanding shock without permanent deformation or rupture
  2. springing back; rebounding
  3. marked by the ability to recover readily, as from misfortune
And so these words below (authors unknown) are for you, my friend.  You know who you are.  Believe them.  I've been there too. 

Giving up doesn't always mean you
are weak; sometimes it means that
you are strong enough to let go. 

Relationships are like glass.
Sometimes it's better to leave
them broken than try to hurt
yourself putting it back together.

And always remember this:  No road is long with good company. ~Turkish Proverb  I'm glad to call you my pal.  xoxo, ~S.

A single rose can be my garden... a single friend, my world. ~Leo Buscaglia

05 January 2011

Love Note(s)

Dear Jen,

It was the first day back to work after Christmas Break...no students, just teachers...yet still, I did not want to be at school.  I sat in my room ~ staring at the work before me ~ the piles left from the substitute on that last day, the day I'd stayed home with a flu-ish child.  I was hungry and tired, wanting a nap, which was precisely my mood when you appeared at my door.  "I finally printed my wedding pictures," you said.  I was afraid of what you held in your hand.  Documentation that I was there, too much of me... but that was then. "This is for you.  I want you to keep this and be reminded of how far you've come.  I don't recognize this person anymore."  That is what you said.  You didn't recognize the 'me' of fourteen months ago.   Of course we both know that you do recognize me.  The minute I open my sassy mouth and make you laugh,  you know it's really me.  But what a gift you've given:  Encouragement.  A pat on the back.  Proof of where I've been...and of a weight to which I'll never return.  In the future, I hope there will again be a time when you look at the me of today and say, "I don't recognize this person anymore."  The journey is worth it, even if I must sleep my way through the hunger pangs to reach my goal.  Thank you thank you thank you, my friend.  Just remember, you can always contact Houston if you have a problem.  You are my Houston, too.  This, Jen, is my love note to you. 

xoxo, ~ S.

"Happiness is a perfume you cannot pour on others without getting a few drops on yourself." ~Ralph Waldo Emerson   

This is a fitting quote from my little book today, considering the subject of the post is 'love notes'.  The interaction with Jen isn't the only happiness that was sent my way earlier this week. As I was driving home, I noticed something tucked under the windshield wiper.  A love note.  For me.  *sigh*  I love you, too!

There is another kind of love note that has me smiling today.  It's not really even a note per se, but it is a message.  Today as my students prepared to write their rather BIG ideas in Writer's Workshop, they asked for my help in spelling certain words.  We have talked about strategies for 'helping ourselves' but today, I spelled the words aloud for them, and let them "teach" their classmates as they wrote the words on the board.  I love the kidwriting.  I love the thought processes behind the words.  I love that my students use verbs like 'pierced' and dream of destinations like 'Maui'.  I love that my first graders are brilliant.  I know it, and so do they.  I hope they never, ever forget that someone believed that about them. I hope they never stop believing it about themselves.  That is my love note to them.  

A man can be as great as he wants to be. If you believe in yourself and have the courage, the determination, the dedication, the competitive drive and if you are willing to sacrifice the little things in life and pay the price for the things that are worthwhile, it can be done. ~Vince Lombardi