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...