Monday, December 31, 2012

Happy New Year!

Dear Friends,

Have a beautiful New Year...  May angels watch over you and those you hold dear...  And sometimes, although at times unrecognizable, may the spirit of  Peace, Joy, and Love be your constant companions throughout 2013.

Snowfall deepens here; the world blurs outside...  Soup simmers on the stove, and Mom and I send out our very best wishes....

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Pioneer Woman

I have the luxury of writing notes to myself on my phone alarm...  I can remind myself to take a certain book to school, send a gift or card...  Say a prayer.  Once a week it says, "Saturdays are for accidental farm girls."   That's to remind me to rise and shine and watch Pioneer Woman.  Today she had a four episode marathon!  Sweet!  I like her because she is so real, she started as a blogger, her food is simple and scrumptious, and she loves her family first and foremost...  I like her blog, her generosity in so many contests and giveaways, and her zest for life and teasing...  I just think we could be friends...  She makes me want to be a better person in a "doing something real" sort of way...  But I don't feel bad about myself and defeated after each episode...

Friday, December 28, 2012

Holiday Treats

My goodness!  These beautiful cookies found their way to our home right before Christmas.  My sweet cousin stopped to visit and gift us with this plate...  (Plus maybe a couple more that we gobbled sampled)....  Every time I see her, I'm transported to my childhood Christmas Eves spent together in our grandmother's home in Excello.  After a huge family meal we spent what seemed like hours waiting for all the dishes to be washed....  Santa then brought our gifts...  Five of us cousins each had a differently-styled, felt Christmas stocking...  Mine was pastel blue with fur trim and an angel on it.  Inside was an orange in the toe, a peppermint cane, a new toothbrush and Crest....   Other gifts were unwrapped, and the whole atmosphere released such good times...  Such good times!   Thank you for the cookies and memories...  Have a wonderful New Year.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Movies, pizza, and friends....

Tonight some dear friends are coming down for some good times.  We plan to have pizza, cookies, homemade bread, and a movie.  Our choice is a classic that is hard to find directed by Sally Field and starring Andrew J. McCarthy.  The Christmas Tree....  It's a beautiful movie about the friendship between a young businessman and a nun....  Quite a heart-warmer.

I made graham cracker praline cookies....  Oh, my....  Little bites of Heaven.  I lined a cookie tin with parchment.  Then I laid out 25 graham cracker halves.  Then I boiled 2 sticks of butter and 1 cup of brown sugar for 3 minutes.  I added 1 cup chopped pecans and poured over crackers.  I spread out the topping carefully and baked at 350 degrees for 10 minutes.  Let cool.  Voila!

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

The shining day after...

Where do we find you, Dear Readers, on the day after Christmas?  For several of my dear ones, it is ...the city with its allure of prices slashed, lovelies tucked in....  The bustle and magic, if you will, of the day after hunt.  For some, it is back to work with tales and memories and sharing of yesterday.  For me...  My heart's desire is a day free to sit, putter, simmer a casserole in our new oven, set the table with snowflake pottery....  Toasting my dreams by the light of Mom's new electric fireplace....

Roll call....  What will be your focus word for 2013?  Please leave me a note with your word!  I'm pondering mine, caught between something practical and a word of, what else ?---- Whimsy.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

It's Christmas Week!

May each and every one of you have a truly lovely holiday and Christmas.  I am signing off (tentatively) until after the holiday, so I can do some much needed WORK at home and some good dreaming, too...  I will be talking to you soon after Christmas to discuss our New Year's goals and visions.  And, of course, I will be checking in on everyone's blog to see what lovelies you have created for your family and friends...  Much love from Missouri... 

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

The first thing we do...

"You have traveled too fast over false ground;
Now your soul has come to take you back.

Take refuge in your senses, open up
To all the small miracles you rushed through.

Become inclined to watch the way of rain
When it falls slow and free.

Imitate the habit of twilight,
Taking time to open the well of color
That fostered the brightness of day.

Draw alongside the silence of stone
Until its calmness can claim you."
— John O'Donohue
As all over America mothers, sisters, teachers, and friends go back into the world of thanksgiving, Christmas, dedication, and life...  we each throw ourselves into something we love.  For many, the day begins with hugging children a little closer and shutting our eyes in that silent, almost wordless-less-we-think-it plea:  God, please keep them safe...  And we wonder...  But why didn't He?  and then we shove that aside, knowing we mustn't wonder for long or we will Mark Twain ourselves out of the Garden of Eden and into that cynical world where no happiness, no trust, no joy can dwell...  And I wish, so wish...  that tragedy hadn't happened...  that time could erase and blot out something again so dreadful I don't know how those lives can possibly carry on...

For me, miles away in the Midwest, I slip into an old routine---  making my world as lovely as possible for myself and for anyone in the midst...  Back when I lived at home it seemed easier...  Now, let me just say it is fun (!) trying to convince my Mom to use good china!    

We had some lovely company on Saturday evening, and we all enjoyed the happy companionship of friends who have known each other for a long time, who understand, and who have seen each other through many stages of our lives.  That was good for the soul.

And here at school I am trying to do anything I can to help the students feel safe, happy, and hopeful.  It is amazing what happens to young people when tragedies strike.  Some get lippy...  some get quiet.  Some get incredibly apathetic.  Some just plod on with renewed dedication to do the right thing and get their work done with perfection.  

On 12/12/12...  I set my alarm on the SmartBoard for 12:12:12....  and I told my Spanish 1 students they could make a special wish when the "rooster" crowed...  You should have seen those tall, quiet, "scientific-minded" junior boys squint their eyes and make wishes...  Some of the girls texted (with permission) to their boyfriends to wish them a happy 12/12/12...  It was a mini festival.  I thought how odd we were--- celebrating something so totally one of a kind.  These students might or might not remember the day when they get older, but it's not like being able to say to their grandchildren, "Yep, I remember being in Spanish class when the old calendar turned 12/12..."  It was actually nothing.

What I found remarkable is the way students reached for the idea of being granted a wish...  Why are they so desperate to be told they can wish?  I even had one senior boy after school who was bemoaning the fact he didn't get granted a wish...  I, of course, told him he wasn't too late, and he immediately closed his eyes and thought a dream...  My son literally laughed me off the map on this one. "Mom," he huffed, "wishes are not something anyone believes in any more.  Don't be dumb.  Anyone knows wishes don't come true."  My mother pronounced me weird, and she shook her head wondering why I didn't ever decide to "grow up."  I felt happy...   I am nearly old enough to be eccentric...  so possible growing up won't be an option any longer (as if it ever has been with my kind.)

So Monday, yesterday, I cleaned off my desk, graded the 36 persuasive essays that I had procrastinated quite long enough, and lit a battery-operated tea light in my lantern on my school desk.  McDonald's Unsweet tea in a bluebird cup and Christmas lights glowing in the room...  we return to the shattered peace....  because we have to.  Life is too precious. 

Today computer keys click as students pore over semester writing portfolios...  A winter snowstorm looms in the forecast for tomorrow night.  I secretly (and publicly) cheer on the advent of Christmas vacation and its two solid weeks of recuperative time to focus and dream...  and yeah,  I wish....

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Silence... While our inner hearts are screaming.

Little children.  Teachers.  School.  Christmas.  No words.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Here it comes... a magical time of year...

At last our home is beginning to look like Christmas is coming.  My son helped me put up the tree yesterday.  We also finished the mantel, the dining room, and the kitchen gingerbread.  All over the house are several totes still full of beautiful holiday.  Mom and I decided not to break out all of them this year.  We are loving the look of the festive touches we have out, and we may have waited a bit late to start!!!!!.  I still want a few of her cherished SnowBabies out, and I also have to place carefully the beautiful Fontanini nativity.  Then, in the twinkling of Christmas magic, we will be ready to bake a little, continue our Hallmark movie marathon of Christmas films, and entertain family and friends...  oh, and let's not forget the wrapping.  I love the wrapping.  I always think of the Christmases at my house with the dining room table filled with wrappings and gifts, my son's little TV on a chair and Beauty and the Beast in the VCR...  That melody plays hauntingly in my mind, whether I actually have it on or not.  Now with the wonder of iTunes, a song as old as time can accompany me as I tape and tie and "do up" those little gifts...  Oh, baby...  two weeks...

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Fire in our Town...

Last week a fire ravaged the little downtown area in Bevier.  The flames began in a restaurant, but the building next to it also went up in flames.  During the night we battled for the salvation of our dear little Black Diamond Museum.   You see it here in these pictures.  As you see, we failed.
Evidently the roof of the building was wood, coated in pitch--- recipe for disaster but very common for older buildings in the Midwest.  Years of dedication, money making, and hopes had rebuilt this museum, filled it with memorabilia of our town's early coal-mining glory, uncovered elaborately carved wood beams...  all gone.
Gathered in the early morning, the people of our little community cherished the hope the building could be saved.  I'm told the volunteer firemen risked their lives to enter the museum and chop into the trophy cases, loading precious souvenirs, keepsakes, and memorabilia into bags and dragging them out as the flames licked toward the roof....  I know people cried because all my friends did.  While VERY grateful for the lives and health of all who battled the fire, we loved the old girl as we do a special old lady, a grand dame...  We had helped her "fix up" and remember her glorious past, and then disaster slipped up and consumed her forever. One of my students wrote of her in his blog, and I loved his passion...

I watched it all happen as friends snapped these photos and posted them on Facebook.  Along about four-thirty in the morning, I decided to grab an hour and a half of sleep before school.  What I found remarkable was the extreme sadness of my students.  You know the world may say what they will about young people, but basically they are good at heart.  These kids all felt the loss of "history" and the loss of tradition, and they were very sad...  Some others wrote in their journals, and a few created a small memory wall downtown.

Bevier also lost a "famous" restaurant, but that was a business, despite the memories.  I felt very sad for the loyal employees who had worked in that establishment for years, but the building that housed it was old and part of the original days of Bevier...

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Welcome, changes....

That doesn't even sound like me, does it? I have had a thoughtful five days to contemplate, create, muse, and even nap.  I have, traditionally never liked change.  I learned as a teen the name for this kind of thinking was reactionary.  Yes, how could I not see the connection?  Reactionary is a perfect, perfect name for the ones of us who do not enjoy altering our futures for any reason.  We do not create.  We react.  Life brims with change...  One thing follows another in a procession of shifts and dynamics.  Th daily round rarely ends just at the beginning.  In fact, life more or less spirals, each day hinging on the last, but never wavering too much, drifting either toward the top or the deplorable plunge...

Reactionaries dread the changes in life because we do not cause them.  Our changes usually ARE sad because they are the changes caused by breaking, death, illness, catastrophe, and loss.  Those who enjoy change do not mourn the old ways because they intentionally, yes, on purpose, turned away from that path and chose another.  This is the pathway to peace as we grow up...  I can think of multitudes of changes that should have been good.  Yet, in my typical, fearing demeanor I have refused the joy because I chose to hang on to that past.  In my driveway at home a red Thunderbird, a scarlet Camaro,and a silver Intrepid slowly rust to the ground.  Why?  They ceased to function.  We purchased other cars to transport us, but we couldn't bring ourselves to make that cut, junk those memories with the chassis of yesterday....  And so they sit, blocking our vista with reminders and impeding the future as weeds mingle with their wheels...

New shoes go in the closet while absolutely reproachable ones sit handily by the door...  Mom's old stove slipped to the back porch to soften her heartbreak of giving up the stove she and Daddy bought together to begin their lifetime of happy meals, marriage, and events. The new gradually works itself in, but without a change and a parting, it will just sit atop the rubbish, precariously balanced on the past...

Can a person choose to change this most integral facet of her own character?  If I don't, I see my future as a series of scramblings toward survival.  No choices, just defensive maneuvers to survive;  life becomes a game of chess played from the viewpoint of protecting the king without risking the attack that might win the game...  We prolong the play, but we cannot be the victor if we never, ever march toward the offensive and map strategy to alter our futures with positive direction.

And to live with a dear, dear, fearful-of-the-future mother....  To be followed generationally by a son who mandates things remain exactly the same...  Even to the point of not moving the tools my dad left sitting by the barn door...

The end of The Great Gatsby says, "And so we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into our past.."  Hopeful, yet pessimistic.

So here I am.  School is bringing on the pressure. Life beings me burdens in the form of health issues, money problems, and so on...  Mom is from a different, stronger generation.  She knows she is right.  My son knows he is right.  I am that silly, willy, nilly peacemaker generation who tries to negotiate the river without any wake, without any steam, without a paddle or a rudder...  I'm drifting.  Some of my friends are the same.  Others have seen the light and are casting ballast overboard to make a different lifestyle.

On this sunny November morning, I am setting up to make my own changes.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

A New Era...

For 62 years my mother has cherished a gas stove very much like the one above.  My dad once worked it over and ordered parts from a far away company in order to make it safe and working for another fifteen or so years.  However, this past week, the stove did some very uncomfortable things.  After a visit from a local repairman who Ahem! made a part for the oven from a gutter  outside the house....  I tried to bake my dear sister/cousin an ooey gooey butter cake.  The whole endeavor took about two hours, and the cake was barely done.  Then Sunday after I lit the oven with my trusty match, we both smelled gas.

Then came the foolhardy part....  kind of like riding with an alcoholic who has only had a "few"...  Mom wanted the stove to be okay so much we tried lighting it several times.  Once my breath was enough to ignite the fumes in the oven's coils...  That feels like magic!  But is a bit disconcerting if one's face is right there...  Later, even the burners atop the stove performed similar pyrotechnics as they poofed up about six inches from a low blue flame, make a huge "pop" and went out...  Mom called the time of death about eleven a.m.

I have ordered us a new gas stove to be delivered on Friday morning.  My son and I wheedled my mother into keeping her beauty and not sending her to the ditches.  I plan to wheel her into the extra room/pantry/laundry room off the kitchen...  If anyone could see the disarray in there, they might wonder how that Thanksgiving Miracle is to take place...  I dunno..  I just plan.

Our meal is to be on Friday, and again my cousin/sister is saving the day by bringing an electric roaster for Mr. Turkey who is sitting politely in his pan in the  refrigerator.  We are using electric oven, microwave, and crock pot to create our Thanksgiving meal.  The new stove maybe will be here in time to finish the trimmings, and maybe not...  and maybe just in time to really cause a delay.  Luckily our only guests are my son and my dear friend...  both will understand.

While I am thrilled to have a new stove to enjoy, I am equally happy not to have to say goodbye to our queen of the kitchen....  I am so nostalgic...

Monday, November 12, 2012

Happy Veteran's Day!

A salute to all veterans everywhere!  Our school is really having a celebration.  We have invited veterans to a thank-you breakfast.  Then we will have an assembly.  The veterans march in and sit in a place of honor. We have a speaker and we'll finish with music and a flag-raising ceremony that features a flag flown over Washington, D.C.  Lots of fun, and it is always nice to see the appreciation by the veterans.  If you are lucky enough to have the day off, ENJOY!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

A Rearrangement of Clouds

Each moment is a joy-filled gift!  Even the clouds become something utterly spectacular in the light of autumn's magic.  I love to watch the clouds and find the darkest ones juxtaposed against the most riotous blue skies.  It is a love affair with the sky.  My cousin shares this love, and we always see each other's Facebook posts dotted with little snippets of our "skies."

What a surprise this week brought!  I had been discussing plans to rearrange my little room at Mom's.  I came home from school on Tuesday, and my son was safely stashed upstairs, his truck hidden in back.  He had been there all afternoon and had somehow moved all my furniture...  Big beds, cabinets, tables.  He had put everything where we discussed as a huge and miraculous surprise for me...  I was enchanted.  and so happy!  Now comes my part:  cleaning and organizing and yes, pitching...  I did not feel well again, so I had to stay home yesterday and recuperate.  The new arrangement of the room soothes me and looks more like a room than a stuffed showcase.  I have always been the type of cleaner who doesn't enjoy a good housecleaning if I don't move stuff around.

My poor Mama came tiptoeing down the stairs, uttered a little, feeble, "Oh, my!" and turned around and found herself a little chair.  It IS overwhelming.  That's part of the fun.
Yesterday I made a special Spanish soup from the blog of dear Cielo at House in the Roses.  It was a Garbanzo Soup, and I was hesitant because I wasn't sure about all those little garbanzos.  It was magnificent and just what the doctor ordered to help us both feel better.  I ordered little blue sheers for my windows at Mom's.  They are so different.  It picks up the little blue flecks of flowers in her wallpaper.  Blue is such a soothing color to me...

Two weeks from today is Thanksgiving?  It cannot be true?  I am sooo  lost in time warps throughout my year.  It seems time moves from something in the spring to suddenly almost Christmas.  I come up for a look around from time to time throughout the year, but the majority of days are simply blurs on the calendar.  I don't much like that. I want to live more mindfully--- Every day, a gift.  Every sunrise and definitely every sunset...  I love the days, and I love the long and blustery nights when the wind rattles my windows and ruffles my new curtains...  Rearranging, in my case, is good for the soul.

Friday, November 2, 2012

November Gold at heart

What we are, ----all that we are-- is, in fact, heart.  I know, many arguments may be made we are physicality; we are sinew, we are water, we are blood.  But in the end, all that remains on the face of this earth after we have left it..  is the portion of heart we have been able to tuck inside the beating hearts of those who live on beyond us.  Ancient Egyptians did not remove the heart along with the internal organs.  They believed mankind thought with its heart.  How beautiful.  How beautiful is that image, a group of humankind...  thinking and acting with heart instead of logic and calculated risk/physical knee-jerk response.

I see All Saint's weekend as a new beginning, the truer New Year of the soul.  All of us here have only a few short days to remember just what it is that creates our love's journey.

I am ready for the weekend.  No huge plans, just ready to metaphorically dance in the sunshine or shadow of the winter-warnings of early frost and the lingering melody of late warmth...  These days are brief and beautiful, November Gold at heart.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Not Going In...

I stayed out of school today to rest and recuperate from a little Autumn bug or virus...  It was a quiet and peaceful feeling to not have to be anywhere.  I have a driven feeling.  So many things to do, it feels like those magic nine sliding puzzles.  I cannot feel what square one looks like any more
My new retro Halloween tea towels....

The kitchen table

My potion in the cauldron....  Fiesta Taco Chili!
Tonight is 30 degrees.  Time to layer in the blankets and bring hot cocoa in to soothe the soul.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

That Special Zing...

 Fewer and fewer things come to mind when I think of perfection...  It seems as I have thought about all angles of life, I have come to adore the imperfections, the little nuances that differentiate the ordinary..  the bumps on the pumpkin....  the irregular orange patch of fur off-center on Sally's back...  But a fall day...  That is the closest to perfection I find.  On Saturday Mom and I took out for a little bite of lunch and a drive through the most beautiful woods you can imagine.  Ours at home is just as stellar...  The sunlight and the blue of the sky was just perfect.  Even with my phone camera, these pictures show just how lovely the trees have been this Autumn.
 And the neat thing is, we had to get off the main road to find them.  Sure, the horizon looked lovely when we motored down the blacktops and highways....  but the true gem was the side trip down these gravel roads in search of the ultimate landscape.  We found it...  all around us.
 And then it has rained since then for two or more days.  Blessed rain we have begged for all summer...  Although it came too late to help our bean crop, the rains will bless our fields and add to the natural health of the land.  This morning as I flew down our gravel driveway, the sun's timid pink began its whisper overhead.
 I noticed the oddest sight.  Our mud puddles had turned all pink and lavendar...  Can you imagine a muddy gravel road with pink and lavendar mud puddles?  I swear!  I would have stopped to take pictures, but I was running just a tad behind time...  I seem to lose time like an old, worn-down clock, in the mornings...  I get up early enough, but I simply putter and sputter and snooze a bit in my favorite chair.  Sometimes I talk to Mom, and sometimes I simply just be....  I usually wish for a snow day, but alas!  It is about 60 beautiful degrees and the odds of a snow day are grim.
 In five minutes my five English 3 girls will fly in here and grab the roll-around chair, begin working on their business Thank-you letters, start an essay about an extended experience....  roll their little mascara-dabbed eyes when I tease them....  and turn down my AC.  My room is freezing!  I like to get it cold first hour, my free hour..  Then I am cool for the rest of the day.  "Time to sparkle.  It's Show Time, Shirley...."

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Kitten, Kitten... Kat.....

My son sent me a quickly-snapped photo of my dear little cat, Sally...  She is a happy camper,snoozing away on his couch....  Is there anything more peaceful than watching a cat gently snoozing away an afternoon, a morning, an evening....????  Well, perhaps doing the snoozing, too...  That might be peaceful and fun...

However, it's Autumn...  who wants to sleep when it's so beautiful outside?  I have decided to finally bake the cookies featured on "The Good Witch" series, Harvest Moon cookies.

Here is the recipe.  Stay tuned for results...  Hey, it's an almond cookie dipped in chocolate.  I think it will be fine, huh?

Harvest Moon Cookies
1 cup butter, room temperature
1/2 cup powdered sugar
2 tablespoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon almond extract
1 egg
1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup ground almond meal ( I ordered mine from Amazon)

Preheat the oven to 350˚F
Cream the butter and slowly add in the sugar.  Add in the vanilla and almond extracts and the almond meal.  Work in the flour gradually. Wrap the dough in wax paper or parchment paper and refrigerate for 2 hours. 
Line a cookie sheet with a silpat or parchment paper. These are delicate cookies, so don't handle them too much. Divide the dough into 2 batches, leaving one in the refrigerator. Divide the dough into small 1 teaspoon sized balls and place them on a cookie sheet and slightly flatten with the heel of your hand or a spatula. Bake until just slightly golden brown on the bottoms, about 12 to 15 minutes. Cool the cookies and drizzle with white or dark chocolate or cover 1/2 of the cookie in chocolate. Serve with cocoa or chocolate milk for dunking.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

My Personal Cinderella

With much flair and advertisement, Disney released today the Blue-Ray version of its masterpiece,Cinderella...  I wanted to buy it every time I saw that ad...  I don't own a Blue Ray player, but I have always adored Cinderella...  From the earlier reading of the story in a Little Golden Book to the Disney classic released when I was a little girl...  to a television version starring Leslie Ann Warren who sang, "In my own little corner; in my own little chair, I can be whatever I want to be." --  I have been smitten with the tale of the little cinders girl who became a princess.  I loved the Drew Barrymore version, Ever After, and I once taught a beautiful Cinderella unit with great surprise at the number of international versions available on Amazon.

I was and am the original Cinderella ..  I hope you all know this as it is for certain! I have been that mystical princess all my life, puttering away in the ashes and grime of ordinary, everyday "stuff"..  yet drawn to the sparkle and glitter of the fanciful.  I have grown to favor the Fairy Godmother just a bit too much in my later years, and I hope to do something about that.  The Disney Godmother looked almost exactly like my own grandmother, who did her best to perform any and all magic required of her fairy granddaughter.  If I needed a new dress,Gramma's magic fingers flashed, and one appeared on her sewing machine in a few days.  She had a basic pattern I adored, and she made so many variations I was able to always sail around the school feeling quite on top of any fashion crisis.  I loved those dresses, and I loved being the princess of her life.

The lovely little Cinderella statue in this blog is one purchased years ago.  Probably my sweet mama bought her for me.  She doesn't agree with the Cinderella factor.....  but she tries...  Unfortunately, my statue's little foot broke off in anticipation of that beautifully magic slipper, I guess...  I think, ironically, I dropped the sweeper handle on her...  a simple, homespun task gone bad, eh?  I had stationed her in my kitchen at HOME, and I had a little corner just for reading, sipping hot coffee, and being a kitchen Cinderella...  No such corner exists where I am now, but no matter...  I have that other one, still...  locked in my mind and ready to welcome me any moment I choose to travel back in time to that other life.

Autumn brings with it all the pageantry and color of magic.  How can trees so deprived of all good things this summer come forth with another blessing of radiant, crimson color?  I am enchanted by the mists of morning as they cling to each branch along my drive to school.  Last year I stopped along the way and took pictures...  and then I was late....  and then I met the "stepmother" who had me sign in and lose fifteen minutes pay....  But....I really love those pictures....  haha...

Do you ever wonder about Cinderella as an old woman?  Do you think she managed to keep that beauty, that pure and honest kindness for all the little animals and creatures in her world after she became queen of the land?  I think so, of course... I think she was a magical mommy and an absolutely scrumptious Gramma.....  You see, I would rather do an awful lot of imagining rather than face any kind of ugly truth.... I was once called "Cinderella of the"  (not a nice part of the anatomy)---  by a young man who simply wanted me to pull my weight with the reality of living in this world....  He didn't mean it in a very kind way, ... but I think I actually thought it was a compliment....  Today, even this week.... I am often called a fool, to my face----- for the way I view the world, the future...  everything....

So, to be more in sync with my coworkers,  I approach this magical world in cloaked behaviors...  one for all to see, and one to keep for myself....     A bit with my closest friends and sometimes my family, I am available to be their co traveler into the land of "Hope for the Best."  By doing so....  I am afraid I often seem glum to a few...  But be so very sure.... I am never really glum at my core....   At the base, I am truly and honestly a pool of sparkling glitter....  magical and mysterious...  I allow my soul to live near that pool...  If I let her leave that perpetual inner land of unwavering optimism--- even for a moment, I would feel too forlorn.  I would be forced to begin the keening an Irish moan that will never stop...  Occasionally I do creep to the edges of the world of REALITY...  I don't like it much. Yep, the world is messed up....  So what...  Those who "deal with reality" are never correct in their predictions...  Realism seems to be wrong about as often as I am actually, and all the days are ruined when we spend them "accepting reality"...  There will be only one day, one hour really, when each individual, "bad thing" will happen..  My dad passed away on one August morning...  one hour....  and he spent his whole life believing he would live forever, I think...  My Gramma left this world on a November afternoon, hooked up  to a myriad of life supports....  and don't you know, that August before.... she never ever whispered to me it would be her last garden...  Why do I ever ruin even a minute of the "now" with fears of the "then"?

What in the world has got into me today?  I am at school, and I am caught up somewhat with grading...  my second hour girls will come in and begin their work with laughter and chat...  I need to come back to the semi-ordinary life of teaching and feel the magic settle back down inside me to await a later resurgence....  I feel I was cut out for something truly wonderful.  Is this it?  My life has been truly blessed...  but am I living up to the Princess potential?  That ---- remains to be seen...  Bibbity, Bobbity, Boo......

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Trees do not Disappoint...

Those of us who are inveterate, Autumn Tree lovers were holding our collective breath this fall.  Would our beloved trees come out of that dead, dry, dormant phase they entered after a summer of intense heat and arid treatment? Would we see a colorful fall?  I was hoping, of course, but due to the state of it all and the poor crop we have raised, I decided it might not be the fall to remember.  It is unusually special this year.

Sights such as this are not uncommon in mid-Missouri.  We have bits of trees that decided to go pretty...  bits of the same tree remain leafless, and the last part looks completely dead.  Go figure.  And this morning on my way to school, I saw a poor giant Magnolia tree with at least half of the top in blast/bloom.  What confusion among the Flora (and maybe Fauna and Merriweather, too) we are seeing this year!

I bought Mom a little heater, and I gave it to her early.  She gets up way before dawn each day and slips out to her chair.  Sometimes I hear her walker before I make it to bed...  oh, yes...  even on school nights.  She is cold-natured, and this little heater looked amazingly cozy..  It has a little remote control, so I hope she loves it...  I don't dare tell her I have had the window air conditioner on in my room for part of the night...  I love a cold room when I sleep...

Tonight I am meeting some dear friends for a little retired teacher get together.  I am odd man out here because I am not retired at all...  We used to meet, all five of us teachers, when we were teaching every year and have a little back to school soiree....  It will be fun to see everyone.  I'm sure I'll leave feeling quite exhilarated and full of laughter.  (and maybe a tinge of envy to be the only one still trudging in every morning? or relief?  I dunno...  I think envy is winning out this year!)

How are the leaves in your part of the country this year?  I don't know if the Midwest was the only section for weird weather or not...  Have a fun weekend.  It's getting closer!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Every autumn... See you at the pole...

What a beautiful little circle..  A few others, including me, were in a larger "circle" outside this group as we met at the Pole, to thank God for the opportunity to worship freely in this country.  I loved hearing the prayers of the students willing to stand up and accept the blessings straight from God as he wishes to do for all his children.

Our school is a tiny one, and the attendance at this event was a little less than usual, but I know it took only twelve for the lord to do mighty things...  and I count at least a dozen here!

Have a great week....

Friday, September 21, 2012

Magical Concoctions for Autumn's Arrival

So, what kind of festivities do you plan to welcome Sister Autumn into our midst.  I am pleased to report so many of my friends who usually favor Summer have come over to the "dark" side and are ready for fall this year due to our sweltering heat, dry dead foliage...  just a general turnaround from this pattern is what we look for!

I have always been a Fall Girl.  This weekend seems the perfect time to make a favorite soup for Mom, me, and anyone else who cares to drop in...  It would also be perfect to create my grandmothers' favorite Chili Sauce.  I have no idea which grandmother made it first, but I have such fond memories of a kitchen steeped in rich, red tomato chili sauce, tinged with onion and red pepper...  and spices..  It is definitely my most favorite potion.  I made that sauce HERE if you have extra tomatoes...

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Sunshine on my Shoulder

This is the time of year when I see that old sun rising in my rear view mirror as I head toward school.  It always makes me want to turn around and go back home!  Seriously.

This has been a difficult beginning of school.  I finally feel the call to retire.   I realize the time to have heard that particular call would have been before!  I love my classes and the students this year.  We have done so many fun things already.  Yesterday I sent my English 2 students to good old Google Earth to map the trail from Dawson Creek where Jack London's unhappy gold digger met his doom in "To Build a Fire."  19 English 1 students surprised me with finding a Quilting Site instead of the Preposition online game I thought I had linked them to play...My son explained it as static and dynamic addresses...  I dunno...  They thought it was a hoot.  Me?  Not so much.

I personally think the paper mountain has all but eclipsed nearly every avenue of our lives.  I don't talk to anyone who is in public works who isn't overwhelmed with the amount of documentation required to do our jobs...  people who touch people's lives shouldn't have to note every single thing...  the important parts of education cannot be tied to Common Core standards any more than they could have been tied to GLES standards, CLES standards, or MMAT benchmarks....  or any of the other numbered nonsense we have had to do...  I think many of the improvements and suggestions have been okay for us teachers, but that silly step of telling which number every little objective meets?  It's a bunch of stupid, time-wasting nonsense.  I guess I should really say what I'm feeling, huh?  Yeah.

Our school is making many improvements to the facility, including surveillance cameras, extra vestibule doors, emergency exits....  I hope and pray nothing ever is needed...  All that extra  precaution brings an air of fear to the classroom.  Imperceptible at times, the idea of danger permeates the very core of each student.  My freshmen recently finished reading Du Maurier's "The Birds" about the cold war fear.  I asked them to journal if they felt they were more secure today than the people felt in the 1950's.  Well, to my surprise, they felt much more afraid than I had hoped.  All but one felt it was likely they would be attacked by either terrorists or madmen in their lifetimes..  Can you imagine being 14 years old and thinking you would not live your days in peace?  I was sad.  Very sad.

The 19 students in my composition class just wrote essays for college scholarships.  In these, I read dreams, goals, hopes, needs.  Now, in a historical fiction writing project, their ideas turn to disaster.  I realize most of that mindset is due to drama, television and movie and novel themes they have experienced.  However, not one student plans to write about anything positive...  I have Wall Street Crash Tycoons, bomber pilots from both the American and Japanese sides of the war, privates in D-day, and a couple of holocaust survivors and   victims..  I see a few with Afghanistan and one with good old Titanic...  I can't wait to read these stories because I know my students have a great amount of creativity and joy inside.  Actually, if I were seventeen again, I would probably choose something bizarre and dramatic for my historical fiction as well...

Onward and upward.  Have a lovely week...  It's Thursday, my favorite day of the week...  Time to prepare the house for the weekend tonight, so when I return home on Friday, all I have to do is experience WEEKEND magic...

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

It's All About the Bling.... and bling is my thing!

 I know.  I am a primitive girl at heart.  I really am.  I am in absolute love with Randolph Mercantile and its style.  I have always painted my rooms dark (when I had rooms)...  and I have stocked the homes I live in with primitive crows, pumpkins, with old side boards...  and much to my Daddy's distress, with antiqued, "ugly" wood...  But lately, and I can't quite explain why...

I am in awe of this show.  Donna Decorates Dallas is on HGTV, and while I don't think I would live happily ever after in her spaces, I do love to see the transformation from ordinary into fairy tale snappy...  This show was on last year, and I recorded every episode and watched them twice or more.  There is something about her pep, her hair, her high heels, and her confidence that is inspiring.  She manages to make "snooty" seem kind of generous, if you know what I mean!  She hangs crystals off anything she can find.  She hot glues glam rocks on every surface.  Her telephone will "knock your eye out" as my grandfather used to say.

 Donna's show was cancelled last season.  The network gave the reason that she catered to a specific style that didn't attract as many people outside of Dallas as they wished.  Well, something happened.  I wonder if they got some letters or if they reconsidered...  or if some of Donna's wealthier clients sent some incentive.
 For whatever reason, it is back on the air for another season, and I love it...  Here are some examples of the over the top, fairy tale rooms she creates.  They appeal to my inner princess.  I only know that when I watch several episodes in a row I lay on the jewelry and the glittery tops and sweaters (which, as you know, I am enamored with anyway)....  and I curl my hair!  hahaha....  That's all...  I don't redecorate, paint, hot glue, or hang prisms....  yet...  Oh, wait!  I guess the sixteen prism ornaments from Valerie Par Hill that currently and all year have bejeweled my ceiling to floor lamp are a bit Bling...  I do like to say that...  "Bling is my thing."

Have a fun and blingy week!

Monday, September 3, 2012

Happy Labor Day!

Good morning...

I slip to the windows... Regular time, at six in the morning.  Intense mist, gray swirling fogs...  My world is swathed in delicious moisture as if long, lost lives have again found each other----the earth and the rains and cuddling in sweet harmony this morning.  A day off from school, so newly begun...

31 years ago Labor Day brought me a new baby....  My son will be 31 on Wednesday.  So will I...  Don't we sometimes feel we only began to learn when we started teaching our children just what life includes...

Hot Almond Joy Coffee on the porch with Mom and some Oatmeal bars...  I hear the birds, the sunrise...  and the chocolate chips calling my name.

Oatmeal Breakfast Bars

1 cake mix yellow ... or try something spicy....
2 c. quick oats
1 1/2 c. melted butter
1/2 pkg. chocolate chips

that's it.   blend all but chips until crumbly.  press half in sprayed 9 x 13 pan.  sprinkle chips.  i could see some almonds or pecans here... or some raisins...  crumble and pat on the other half and bake 20-25 min.

cool...  if you are so inclined, and I wasn't...  drizzle with warm caramel.