Monday, December 30, 2013

End of 2013

How did the year, 2013, get away from me? I tried to savor the small moments, but my work kept me very busy. As a family we celebrated anniversaries, birthdays and accomplishments. We traveled some beginning the new year in New Orleans, headed to Ohio twice and back south to the Florida gulf in October.

2013 was my first attempt at teaching an online class. I learned so much about focusing on clear communication. I have a tendency to veer away from the original plan but this course forced me to remain steadfast and persevere. I'm currently making changes for the next online class. I spent lots of work time traveling to Jefferson City to work with a curriculum revision team.

For 2014, I hope to participate in artistic endeavors so much more.  I'm working on setting up a studio so I can draw, sew, paint, and write.

Now I must prepare the black-eyed peas so we will have good health & wealth in the coming year.

Happy New Year to you and yours in 2014!
Cemetery # 1 in NOLA

Here is a pic from last January when I visited Cemetery # 1 in NOLA, the professed burial site for Marie Laveau.

Friday, December 6, 2013

A little winter weather

Walking in the woods on a snowy day

Yesterday afternoon we had freezing rain and sleet then sometime during the night the precipitation changed to huge snowflakes. It is still snowing today. 

My dog begged me to take her out. I dug out the winter duds and got wrapped up so we could hike.

At first she loved romping in the drifts. Then she had to stop frequently to get the ice out between her toe pads. She followed in my trail and limped as we made it back to the warmth of home. 

Here is a link to a short winter rap you might like:

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Ecosystem Interactions

This picture was taken with my IPhone as I walked to the woods behind my house. You can see several interactions on the leaf: spider web attached to the leaf, spider getting food, insect caught in the spider's web, leaf getting sun, smaller insects on the leaf...
What else can be observed?

Friday, October 25, 2013


Various adaptations allow species to survive in the environment they live, the adaptation or specialized structure gives them the ability to survive. View the pictures for examples of adaptations.
Size -

The Tulip Poplar or yellow poplar is a member of the magnolia family. It is native to Southeast Missouri and often grows to be the tallest of the hardwood trees which is a good thing because the lumber is often used for furniture. interior finish and veneers. This is fast growing tree was planted by my son 18 years ago.

Behavior - Advertising
Collard Lizard
I took the picture of the Eastern Collard Lizard on Stegal Mtn. His behavior is certainly not attracting me.

Behavior - Showy display

Missouri's state tree, the flowering dogwood has showy flowering branches. The leaves don't appear until the flowers fade. This tree has an outstanding showy feature for almost every season; cross-shaped white flowers in spring, gray-green leaves with parallel veins in summer, and scarlet fruit and leaves in fall.The dogwood is an understory tree that likes the shaded parts of the forest.

Behavior - Food gathering

These insects are busy getting the required nutrients from the bright yellow flower. The flower could be used to demonstrate showy behavior with its bright yellow color or advertising behavior with the center portion sitting above the petals.
Coloration - Blended or hidden

This is a picture of a female Eastern Collard Lizard that I also took on Stegal Mtn. on Peck Ranch CA. You must admit it is difficult to see.

I haven't yet found pictures for these categories, maybe next summer I can get pictures.  
Coloration - Mimicry
pattern on a Broad Banded Water Snake so you can see what it resembles
Coloration - Warning
Monarch Butterfly or red milk snake
Shape -
A fish would fit nicely here
Behavior - Nesting
I have several bird nests to get a shot of
Behavior - Warning
an insect's stinger, lots of reptiles but they are mostly things I don't want to get too close for a picture

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Ethics and Safety

Neighbors had been talking of strange sightings and we found tracks behind our shed.  We carefully tried to id the track by using a hand for size comparison. Then we took a picture so we could look closely without messing up the track. We finally saw the claw mark at the end of each toe pad and knew we had a canine, not a feline track. Whew, no Mountain Lion! 

I think if most people would check out the evidence before drawing conclusions and overreacting, we could all rest better. 

Ethics can include gathering evidence to substantiate a claim. Safety can be achieved by having knowledge and taking necessary precautions.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

A Snapshot of 21st Century Nature Study - Scavenger Hunt

1. Producer - This picture was taken near the edge of a woodland on Peck Ranch Conservation Area. You can see lots of green plants with the sun shining in the background.

2. Consumer - I don't often get to take a picture of a live animal. This little guy had a nut and stopped to look closer so I had time to snap a picture with my I-phone. I was heading to a trail on Chalk Bluff on the Arkansas side of the St. Francis River. It is a cool spot that marks a Civil War Battle. The sides of the hills are white, chalky made of gypsum.

3. Something colorful - I was walking with my dog and searching for things in nature. I noticed lots of movement near the flower beds. I had to get on my knees to see what was it was. Trying to get a shot of this skipper was quite a difficult task. The skipper continually turned away from me. After several attempts, I finally got a picture showing the lovely coloration. You can get an idea of the size of the skipper because the bud looks large. I haven't yet identified the species of skipper. The family description says skippers are fast darting with stout bodies and relatively small wings.

4. Something important in nature - 
Rocky Glade
This is a picture of a glade on Peck Ranch CA. This glade is very diverse, it has more than 700 different kinds of plants. Look closely and you can see the rocky ground. It makes great habitat for sun loving reptiles too.
5. Something noisy - A river can be noisy or peaceful. On this particular day, the Mississippi looks calm and peaceful. I was high and dry on a backyard deck when I took this photograph. It is quite a view. If I lived here I would dream of adventures such as Mark Twain wrote about.
Mississippi River
6. Strange thing - I have seen and heard a red headed woodpecker in this tree. I can't get a picture though. Here is the evidence he was here, making holes to find insects.

7. Camouflage - 
This tulip poplar makes great hiding spots for birds of all kinds. The leaves block the midday sun so you can see details.

8. Interaction - a cool ladybug on a native plant, bee balm.

10. Something gross in nature - While poo is a natural occurrence, it did look ugly on the Crepe Myrtle bush.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Slice of Life Tuesday - Homecoming

I live about 4 miles outside a community of 894 residents. This week is our 67th annual Homecoming sponsored by the VFW. Richardson Avenue or Main Street is blocked to make room for the square dance floor, carnival rides, eat stands and booths selling chances on quilts, guns, 50/50 drawing, tool chest, etc. Each night attendance drawings are sponsored by local businesses. Some businesses close for the week-long event and others, especially restaurants, hire extra help to serve the additional crowd of people. Store front windows display pictures of veterans throughout the years. It is a touching display. Pictures of my Dad and Uncle in their uniforms are on display.

Tuesday night was the first night of activities. At 6:30 the first Homecoming Queen Contest for resident girls age 5 began. Soon after was the contest for 16 year old residents. I worked at the booth sponsored by the Puxico Library Board. We sold 50/50 chances, gift cards and book bags decorated with renderings of the Library by deceased, local artist and former librarian Elizabeth Ruser and 75th anniversary plates and mugs. I visited with former students, current friends and family. The evening was enjoyable because I reconnected with old acquaintances.

Every night is bracelet night for the kids. Wednesday night is Church Night with a sermon in the Park, Thursday night is music in the Park, Friday at 10:00 am the baby contests for residents and Grandparents' Delight up to 2 years of age occurs followed later in the evening by the Alumni Reception and Saturday has a 1:00 parade, 5:00 Kids Attendance Prize Drawing and the largest crowd of the week. Graduates of Puxico High School schedule a class reunion every five years sometime during the week and usually have a float in the parade.

I need to mention the Goat Burger, which is not actually a burger, but a tasty bar-b-que made from goat meat. My husband says. "It's not baaad." They usually run out of goat burgers about 7 each evening. Other eat stands include a Corn Dog stand sponsored by the Ladies Auxillary, Ribbon Fries by the Methodist Men and various booths sponsored by the Carnival Company.

In spite of the intrusion of our daily lives and extra work, it is a welcome event. It brings friends and family members back to the community and signals the end of summer because school starts mid-week the following week. Members of the local community take time to stop and celebrate life and honor the veterans who have made our freedom possible.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Is it Poison Ivy?

It is important to recognize poison ivy.

Is the plant pictured to the right poison ivy?

No, it is Virginia Creeper. Notice the leaves.

You will find this plant in the same types of habitat as Poison Ivy. It is easy to distinguish from poison ivy by its 5 leaflets on a palmately-compound leaf. Unlike poison ivy, it will not harm you. The bark of the woody vine has been used as a tonic, expectorant and remedy for dropsy.

"Leaves of three, let it be" is a good rule to follow but some plants with 3 leaves are ok.

Is this poison ivy? No, it is dewberry. Notice the coarsely toothed margins of the leaflets.

Leaves are usually found in threes with an end leaf along the vine. This plant is scattered throughout Missouri in old fields, prairies, open banks and along roadsides, similar to the location of poison ivy vines.

I have a memory of picking dewberries in late summer and often encountering a snake.

More dewberry:

Here is a close up view of the poison ivy vine. It can be found all over Missouri. Notice the three, smooth leaflets. The leaf margins are largely toothed. The end leaflet has a more pronounced pointed tip. An oil found in all parts of the plant is poisonous and can produce an intense skin irritation. Wash with cold, soapy water immediately after contact with this plant.
Poison Ivy

Monday, May 20, 2013

And they continue to build

I have had the opportunity to watch several birds nest in my back yard.

A wren carefully built this nest on the patio in a shelf. Lots of moss, one of the softest of materials was selected. It has a small opening and lots of cover. I will get to see the process for a short length of time. I try not to be too intrusive as I spy on them.

Two Eastern bluebirds have been guarding a 6ft tall metal pipe that is about 3 inches in diameter. I watched the female dive into the pipe with something in her mouth. I've also seen the father perching on the edge with a worm in his mouth.

Then, in the shed for the pool pump on top of a shelf in a box, I spied some doves. I had recently used the pump and failed to put it back. The mother dove took advantage of the open box and built her nest there. The doves are big enough to fly, but they return to the nest in the evenings.

Nature fills my curiosity.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Apple Blossom

I planted this apple tree several years ago. This is the first year I have seen blooms on the 4 ft. tall tree. It is loaded with blooms. Maybe someday I will eat apples from this tree. 

Thursday, April 11, 2013

STEM Haiku

A haiku is a short poem that follows a 3 line pattern of 5-7-5 syllables written in present tense usually about an experience in nature or the seasons. Here is my haiku that relates to STEM (science, technology, engineering & math).

Building for respite
Protection from predators
Strength for all weather.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Aunt Charlene

My Dad's baby sister, Charlene seemed so much older.
I now realize she was only seven years older than I am.
When I was ten, she would take me to the cafe to get a Coke.
Charlene only sipped and never finished the drink.
She talked and told stories the entire time.
She'd get so tickled as she told me stories of her life.
I was too young to understand the funny parts of her stories.
I quickly drank my Coke and thought we should leave.
I was too young to understand the art of conversing at leisure.

Our lives took different directions.
We never made time to visit over a Coke.
I would have understood her stories if we had.
She would have listened to my stories of life.
The last morning she read her birthday cards.
Her husband fixed lunch and they took an afternoon nap.
Charlene could not be awakened.
She passed on her birthday.
Her husband said recently she had cut back to only one Coke a day.

Monday, April 8, 2013

May Apples

The May Apple is starting to emerge. On a recent walk to the pond with my Golden Retriever, Ellie, we spied these small shoots. It won't be long before they are sprouting all over the woods.

I was reminded of a quote by Aldo Leopold, "The wild things that live on my farm are reluctant to tell me, in so many words, how much of my township is included within their daily or nightly beat... Who is the more thoroughly acquainted with the world in which he lives?"

Ellie and I are trying to acquaint ourselves with our acreage, but we find something curiously new with each foray into the woods. I am trying to pay close attention to what surrounds me, while Ellie always has her nose to the ground.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Future Studio

This is the south facing view from the loft studio/apartment I am in the process of completing. I took this picture in February and plan to continue taking pictures of the view so I can document seasonal changes.

The room has plenty of natural light. I plan to have lots of shelves to store books and supplies.  The area will provide workspace room so I can work on various projects. It will also have a kitchen, sitting area, bath and a Murphy Bed for overnight guests.

I've collected pictures of other studios for inspiration. The goal is to have the space completed before June.  Right now I have lots of stuff in the upstairs hall. It's scattered on my desk and not conducive to creating or concentrating. I hope to use the studio as a place to relax, dream, read, teach and create.

Here you can see part of the south facing window and one of the higher windows along the sides.

Sunday, March 31, 2013


I did it!
Thank you to the support team.
I  wrote a slice every day for the month of March.
I wrote about my family.
I wrote about the weather.
I wrote about technology.
I wrote poetry.
I wrote about my bucket list.
I wrote about my allergy.
I wrote about work.
I wrote about memories.
I wrote about nature.
I wrote and wrote and wrote.
I read and read and read.
I learned so much from everyone.
It was a great experience.
I could hardly contain my excitement most days.
I felt so connected to teachers all over the country.

Saturday, March 30, 2013


My Saturday was hectic:
7:00 am Exercised! yea! 6 times in a row this week!
7:30 Cooked 2 kinds of protein because I can't eat pork
8:00 Work 4 hours at the family business sending monthly statements
12:00 Stopped in town to pick up mail, purchase a small dessert and pork butt from the VFW
12:30 Quick lunch at home for hubby
1:00 Helped him move some car parts, hook up car trailer and drive to back of shed
1:30 Drove to a bit larger town 25 miles away to pick up a few things to cook for tonight & tomorrow
2:45 Made 2 cheesecakes
3:30 sorted magazines into shelves
4:00 took Ellie for a walk in the rain
4:30 put the cheese cakes in the fridge to cool
Somewhere in between I folded towels and washed another load, talked with son, washed all the dishes, cleaned my work space, picked/stacked up paperwork from my real job...
Now I'm getting ready to take 1 cheesecake to my sisters for dinner.
Son will be home later tonight for the family Easter Luncheon tomorrow.
whew, barely had time to write this post. I've read several, but yet to comment.

Friday, March 29, 2013


This quote from Dickens so eloquently describes yesterday afternoon:

"It was one of those March days when the sun shines hot and the wind blows cold:
when it is summer in the light, and winter in the shade."
~ Charles Dickens, Great Expectations

The sun felt like late spring as my husband and I sat soaking in the warmth. As soon as we moved toward the shade,  the sharp  breeze gave us a chill. And that was my clue that spring is getting close. I'll be working in the yard, getting blisters on my hands before I know what happened.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Easter Memory SOL#28

I am the oldest in the family of four girls and one brother, the youngest child. Our house was always full with busy parents and extra kids. When we moved out and began having our own families, we thought it was important to have family dinners, especially during the holidays. We all thought it was important to stay close even if Mom was not with us.

The grandchildren consisted of 6 boys and 2 girls, which was quite different from our family. Our get-togethers always seemed loud and boisterous. One Easter weekend I volunteered to have everyone at my house on Saturday afternoon to dye the eggs. All 8 children sat on their knees in the chairs around the dining room table. My sisters had prepared 8 cups of dye and 8 egg holders so each child would have his or her own to start with. Then they could trade colors.

One nephew who was about four, had difficulty using the egg holder. With so much excitement, no one noticed his problem until his mom saw his blue fingers. He had put down the egg holder, having more success using his hands. The ony problem was every finger on both hands was dyed a shade of Robin's egg blue. His mom was not happy and quickly went to work attempting to return his fingers back to their normal color. She couldn't take him to church on Easter Sunday with blue fingers. Poor little guy, his fingers were red from scrubbing. At least they were not Robin's egg blue.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013


Interesting writing in the #27 SOL posts drew me in today. I had some free time so I:

  • followed a couple more blogs
  • signed up for a newsletter
  • learned how to create a dream board
  • started an all year art journal
  • visited the Farmer's Almanac web page for the names and meanings of the full moons
  • watched a TED talk about our brains
  • learned how to combine color wheel opposites when combining outfits
  • created my own list of 10 things I have learned since I began teaching many years ago
  • commented on more posts
Is this the best learning community or what?

Thank you all for my learning and reflection today!

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Devil's Walking Stick SOL#26

My dog and I walked to the pond this afternoon because the temperature was a bit warmer. And the wind had died down. We had a great walk and I found this plant.. I've seen it other places when I've been out in the woods, but never on my acres. I was excited to find it. It always seems to grow in areas where a person walking past naturally wants to reach out and grab it for stability. I looks like a simple stick but when you reach out for it, you will notice something painful. If you look at the picture very closely, you can observe the thick thorns all along the stalk. That's what you feel when you grab it. And that is why it is called a "Devil's Walking Stick".

Monday, March 25, 2013

Tribute to Grandma Lillie Pearl SOL#25

I remember . . .

Your quick speech, always in a hurry
Your fried fruit pies, buttermilk biscuits and grease gravy
All the time you spent talking with your grandchildren.

The strict diet you kept while cooking our favorite foods
Always tithing to your church, donating to TV preachers and taking us to church
Wearing slacks under your dress to church when it was cold

Words . . .


Things . . .

Crystal Jewelry

Stories . . .
The huge, long belt you kept rolled up to always remember your weight loss
Going on the train to help family members
Of growing up without a mother and becoming a mother to 3 little girls overnight

And how you let us rummage through your dresser drawers
And save newspapers with articles you thought we should read
You always made us feel loved

We miss you, Grandma. I will always love you.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Finding a place to eat when travelingSOL#24

After our weekend get-a-way we headed home this morning. The weather forecast was predicting 8-10 inches of snow for my sister so she was worried about the road conditions. We searched for a place to stop for lunch. We didn't want to take too long. We didn't want fast food. We were looking for a place friendly to allergies. We were trying to please the tastes of 7 people ranging in ages from 19 to 60's. Luckily we found a little out of the way place, "The Chicken House." It served all our requests. And we were back on the road.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Weekend SOL#23

Saturday is for sleeping in
Scrambled eggs and coffee for breakfast at Chateau Suite
Get dressed and drive 5 blocks to the Red River outlet mall
Buy some clothes for Easter
Meet husbands for lunch at the crab shack
Shop a couple more stores
Drive to visit with extended family
Stop along the way because of heavy rain and  hail
Arrive and share gifts
Play with the kids, cats and puppy
Enjoy company and dinner
After a long day head back to the hotel
Rest tonight
Tomorrow the drive home will be good.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Road Trip SOL#22

My sisters and I left this morning with fresh snow covering the ground. We headed south but it took 4 hours for us to leave the snow behind. Finally the temperature warmed up and we put on our sunglasses to shield our eyes from the warm sun.  By the time we arrived at our destination we had the car windows down for the fresh air.

We enjoyed the road trip, using the time to catch up on our lives. This eve we had a good visit with extended family members and made plans for more time together tomorrow. Oh, I almost forgot to mention we had spicy crawfish for dinner. Mmmmm, it was delicious.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Using Technology SOL#21

Today as I was driving between school visits, I was thinking about the SOL for today. In my review of the day, I was comparing the culture in the schools I had visited. Simply entering the building provides me with clues about the environment. The tone of the secretary, attitude of the teachers, accessibility of the principal are a few observations I noted. I know it isn't fair to judge a school culture by one visit and I usually get an accurate feeling after several visits.

I was driving and didn't want to forget my thoughts so I grabbed my phone to record my thoughts. I couldn't remember how to access the microphone, so I asked Siri. She said she could open notes and record my message. I said,"Ok".  So as I was driving to the next school I was recording my thoughts hands free. Technology is amazing!

Later I was reviewing the notes I had to laugh. I realized my speech created some errors. Either I was slurring words, speaking too fast, or allowing the southern drawl to be too obvious. I was impressed because the microphone for notes recognized the correct use of the word " too".

I'm not sure which was better: planning my blog ahead of the deadline or using the microphone in notes to record my thoughts. Maybe I can finish my thoughts on school culture in another blog.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013


Tonight I read lots of Slice of Life  posts. They are varied and interesting. I've had a very busy day and preparing for another similar day tomorrow. So I've had little time to think about writing. Hopefully tomorrow will be an improvement with my time and writing.

If the weather forecast is not accurate, I'm taking off work on Friday for a little jaunt with my sisters. Hope the forecast is all wet, with rain, not snow.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Blogging SOL#19

I'm fairly new to blogging. I have several blogs that I follow and love to read. When I compare myself to these blogs,  I am hardest on myself, thinking I don't have anything to write.  I'm still trying to find my niche in/on my blog. The Slice of Life Challenge has been helpful. I'm inspired by other teachers. I like writing and I especially like to find and read comments on my posts.

Today I reviewed the stats for my blog. I have reached 50 posts! And my blog has 2300 page views. Wow, that is quite an outreach. I'm pretty satisfied with these results. And I have lots of room to grow.

Thank you to Stacey & Ruth for offering the SOL.

Monday, March 18, 2013

An unforgettable camping experience SOL#18

I am the oldest of 5 children. Because we lived on a farm, a trip away was a rare experience. My family and my Uncle George's family drove south to the White River in Arkansas. We settled in for the night by the swift river. After dinner, I remember my mom enjoying the cold, fast water. Some of our group slept in a tent and others slept in the straw scattered around the bed of our pick up truck. My uncle,  who served in the Army, was afraid of his shadow. During the night he heard some noises and awakened everyone when he began yelling and grabbed his ball bat to fend off what he thought were intruders. Finding nothing, we slowly returned to our sleeping spots. About an hour later he awoke everyone again. We heard Uncle George exclaim, "The water is rising! Quick, we've got to move!" What we didn't know was the spot we selected to camp was close enough to the river's edge that the water from the spillway upstream quickly made us vulnerable to being swept away. I can't remember another occasion when our families camped together.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

A place I Love SOL#17

I was stumped., couldn't focus on a topic so I searched the suggestion list. A place I Love, easy, piece of cake, I thought. But instead of a place, I thought of the thing that draws me to a place.

It's the trees.
Tall, light blocking trees.
Providing shelter in the rain.

Trees create
A canopy to walk under.
Encouraging one to linger.

Trees invite
Come, read under my branches.
Share a picnic lunch.

Trees paint
The landscape
For all to admire.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Questions SOL#16


What's next?
What lies ahead?
How will I react?

Will I breeze through?
Will I over react?
Will I accept the challenge or admit defeat?

What is in my power?
What are my choices?
Where can I find solace?

The View Forward

Friday, March 15, 2013

Classroom visit SOL15

Today I visited 7th and 8th grade science classrooms. The teacher and I had sent emails back and forth to select the date and topic for me to present. I offered map & compass or watershed mapping and the teacher suggested watersheds. As I prepared for the visit, I had a hundred questions that went unanswered. Then I realized it was almost impossible for me to judge the level of difficulty I needed. I think it is more effective when you know the students. At least it would be easier to focus the presentation. But that was not my situation so I prepared several bits of information.

I read a quote from Aldo Leopold's Sand County Almanac about home range. The premise is who knows more about the land: the owner or the wild animals who inhabit the land? Then I found out the students had walked around their schoolyard and mapped the direction for water flow.

I talked with the students about the vocabulary used to discuss watersheds and found the 8th graders had a good working knowledge of the earth science concepts. The 7th grade students were not as advanced so I changed my focus to be more general.

Last I had both groups of students go outside to use a topography model that helps with understanding of contour lines. I asked the 7th grade students to demonstrate a contour line along the schoolyard by lining arms length apart downhill.

I left an instruction sheet for the teacher to have students create a basic contour map to understand the progression of the intervals. I think the foundation has been established so the next visit can focus on learning how to read contour lines on a watershed map. I would like to work with the 7th grade students using a compass. Then I hope to use GPS units with the older students and have them mark waypoints along their schoolyard.

My first visit with them was short but it gave me a good idea of how to proceed in future visits if time allows. We may complete some of the planned activities on their field experience. Classroom instruction time is precious.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Another step in the growing SOL#14

I always joked with our only child that he would have to 25 before he got married. I taught at the public school he attended. Even in high school when I was the counselor, he would come by my office before he left for the day. I changed jobs one year after he graduated, it wasn't the same without him being there.

He went to college 200 miles from home and made lots of new friends. Once he even told me the guys were " like the brothers he always wanted."  They resurrected a fraternity while there. He graduated college, got a job, not working in the rural family business,  and moved 150 miles from home to the big city. Now he is 26 and has a girlfriend that he is serious about.

Today he called me, he was with a jeweler, looking at diamonds. He knows the cut, clarity, price and size he wants. The jeweler showed him 3 diamonds that fit his criteria. He is taking his time to make the decision. Next week the jeweler will have some settings for him to view. He knows what he wants and is proving he is ready to make this decision.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Spring SOL#13

Spring is creeping in
Wind isn't biting
Insects are flying

Sensing warm sun, the
Trees are budding while
Ground flowers are blooming

Puddles dry quicker
Children play longer
Smiles appear brighter

Welcome old friend.


Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Mom SOL#12

Today, March 12, was Mom's birthday. We lost her 35 years ago. She passed three days after her 45th birthday.

I remember the call from my youngest sister who was living at home. I was 26,  married and living about 7 miles away. It was one of those groggy mornings, I didn't understand what was said. But I knew something was wrong, quickly dressed & drove to the house. As soon as I got out of the car, I saw Grandpa who lived next door. As he walked back to his house, he commented, "It should have been me." "How could this happen?"

 The rest of the day was a blur. My husband drove to pick up another sister at college. My brother was 11 and unsure of what to do. Dad clung to him. Through the blur, we gathered and made decisions. We went through the motions. Choose a dress. Meet the Funeral director. Make arrangements. Select flowers, music, .. So many things none of us knew anything about. We tried to be a family. We spent the night together. We tried to live past it  We took dad on a trip across the country. In April I finished sewing my youngest sister's prom dress. Holiday gatherings were not the same. Grandchildren were all born after she passed. We took Dad on an airplane trip. We celebrated special events but we always felt the space.

Sometimes I thought,  I'll give her a call, temporarily forgetting that she was gone. One night in my sleep she came to the foot of my bed. She told me everything would be ok. It seemed so real, I wanted it to be real. Time passed, life passed. Mom, you are sorely missed. We will always love you.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Alpha-galactose SOL#11

Today was a follow up visit to the allergist. As I answered the questions on the registration form I remembered how unique my allergy is. I could only answer yes to one question: Hives? Yes, I have hives. I spent a long time trying to figure out what was causing me to have hives. They were occurring frequently, making me miserable. Benadryl eased my discomfort but made me drowsy and I was missing work. The hives seemed to occur 2 to 4 hours after I had eaten, so I thought something I was eating was causing the hives. I thought my first food enemy was BBQ, so I stopped eating BBQ. One Mother's Day I ate bacon for breakfast and my head and inside my ears started itching. Within 2 hours I had hives and blisters occurred where my clothes touched parts of my body. No more food for that Mother's Day and I stopped eating bacon. Another day after a few bites of sausage gravy, I started itching on top of my head. I stopped eating sausage gravy. Then I thought the problem was the nitrates in processed meat so I stopped eating processed meat. But I still had hives. During an appointment with a dermatologist, I explained my situation and he suggested I visit an allergist. He said I might be avoiding steak for no reason. I made an appointment with an allergist. As she listened to my story, she asked questions. "Do you spend much time outside?" I smiled because I always enjoyed nature and had recently started working for the conservation department. My job involved spending time outdoors with teachers and students. Then Dr. Tuck asked, "Have you been bitten by a tick?" Well, you can't live in southeast Missouri and sit in the shade of a tree without getting a tick on you. My answer was, "Yes." How amazing that the one allergist I happened to visit knew about this rare allergy. She took a blood sample to send to the University of Virginia and told me it would take 2 weeks to get results. I finally was diagnosed with alpha galactose almost 2 years ago. It is caused from a tick bite, ticks that live in southeast Missouri, southern Illinois and Australia. The saliva from the tick causes the person to have an allergic reaction to the protein enzymes in mammalian meat. So I don't eat any mammalian meat.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Sunday Go To Meeting SOL#10

When I thought of the phrase, Sunday go to meeting, I thought about all the times I went to the Penticostal church with my Grandma. Gramp would drive us to church, drop us off, go get a Sunday paper and park under a shade tree to read the paper and wait for us. He never minded waiting. Some Sundays, well most of them actually, the preaching did not end at noon. It continued til at least 12:30.  My stomach would be growling and I was not feeling the Holy Spirit by then. When church finally dismissed, we got in the pickup and drove an hour to my parents house so I could go home for the school week. We always stopped on the way, under a huge shade tree beside the road and had a picnic lunch. It was a fun time. I would get a chance to read the comics from the paper and run around under the shade tree. It was a different time, no McDonalds, paper plates, bottled water, or fast food. We might have a bologna sandwich or if Grandma felt energetic, fried chicken. This takes me back to a nice memory on a rainy Sunday, one in which I'm driving to a meeting. It is not quite the same in many ways.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Saturday SOL#9

I left my son's house at 7:30 this morning to drive 2 hours for a meeting. I thought the weather forecast called for sun, but it rained on me most of the way. The sun came out during my meeting and I could see it from the windows. But we continued with our tasks. Lunch was brought in and we continued to work away. We ended the meeting at 5:30. I was wiped out. I stopped by Happy Garden to order take out because I didn't want to eat alone. Then I went my hotel room. I read posts from today's SOL, at least tried too, I was falling asleep so I thought I should try to write my post for the day. Tomorrow I will have more of the same. I will try to write a post early because I won't be home til late.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Dad's Birthday SOL#8

SOL#8, I must write about my dad because March 8 was his birthday. He had 4 sisters and two brothers. He graduated 8th grade. He served in Korea. He was a sharecropper and used the GI Bill to buy 70 acers of farmland to become a farmer. He married young and loved his wife. They adopted one child and then had 4 more children. He lost his wife too soon. He was proud of his kids and 11 grandchildren. His sense of humor helped him make lots of friends. We lost him almost 2 years ago. Life hasn't been the same without him. Encouraged by a post on the blog of Two Writing Teachers,  I wrote a tribute poem for him. Here is the link to that post, if you want to read it.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Productive day SOL#7

Today I met with 3 other coworkers and our supervisor. Our goal was to step back and assess our efforts thus far. We've all had varying levels of success so we brainstormed strategies to accomplish our goal. As a team we developed some good ideas to help refocus our efforts to reach our goal. All that happened before lunch. After a quick lunch I met with one other coworker to improve an on-line course we are developing. We set deadlines and are getting close to having a concise and interesting course. We plan to be completed and ready to go on-line by April 15.

At 9:00 this morning,  I left my work vehicle with auto detailers to have it washed, cleaned inside and waxed. I have had this vehicle 7 years and usually cleaned it myself, but was told I needed to have it detailed. I picked it up about 3:30, boy did it look & smell great. At least when I drive to meetings this weekend, I will have a good looking vehicle.

Last thing work related I did was to pick up field guides I had on order at B&N. I also grabbed a latte then drove home. I plan to use the field guides next week when I teach 4th graders how to use informational text. That should give me a great SOL!

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Work interferes with life SOL#7

Most of the time I work 40 hours during the regular 5 day work week. Occasionally I have work scheduled on the weekend. That is my life this weekend. I have working meetings scheduled on Saturday & Sunday. The meeting location is 5 hours from home so l'll be traveling too. Because of the work schedule I am missing 2 wedding showers, a birthday party for 2 nephews, and a visit with my sister and her family. I always seem to be missing fun things. I sit home lots of evenings with no family gatherings because everyone is busy. Then a weekend when lots of things are planned and I can't attend. I'm sad, not glad about this turn of events. Hopefully this won't happen again soon.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

My bucket list SOL#5

I postponed writing this slice the entire day. I read slices by others and commented, hoping for inspiration. Finally at 8 pm, I found Julie's SOL for today, her bucket list. Perfect, several of the things on her list were things I have on a dream board. So that's what I can write about, create a bucket list. Here is the beginning of my bucket list:

  • Re-visit Hawaii
  • Visit Rome, Paris and Costa Rica
  • Buy a beach house on the Gulf of Mexico
  • See the polar bears in Churchill, Canada
  • Create drawing & using water colors to paint a portrait of my Golden Retriever, Ellie 
  • Retire - soon, maybe even before the curriculum I'm working is revised
  • Improve my piano skills
  • Visit schools in other countries
  • Start a school
  • Build a native plant garden
  • Write children's picture books - get back to work on a story I started
  • Exercise, exercise, exercise and get toned
  • Have coffee with... I've gotta work on this because many of the people I admire have passed on.
Thanks, Julie.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Making connections SOL#4

We have a new eating spot in town so my husband and I went there for lunch. It's a cute gift shop/restaurant that is owned by a former student of mine and run with help from her family and friends. Lots of our acquaintances had the same idea about eating lunch there so that made it even more enjoyable.

After salad, my husband and I shared a slice of homemade carrot cake and went back to work. The afternoon flew by but I managed to accomplish several tasks. On my way home I stopped in town again to get a couple items from the grocery and ran into some friends. Always working, I ran into a 4th grade teacher and we scheduled a day for me to visit his classroom. I wanted a chance to try out a lesson using field guides to teach students about informational texts. Now I have a reason to finalize the lesson. And the day was not my usual one in which I'm usually working in isolation. It is good to stay connected with family, friends and former coworkers.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Viewing Eagles SOL #3

The first weekend in February, we scheduled an event for everyone to learn about and view eagles in the wild. It was a success with 800+ school children and 600+ public visitors attending the presentation with a Golden Eagle and a Bald Eagle, traveling to viewing scopes to see eagles in the wild and viewing their nests. During that weekend we had about 50 eagles around the area, which is quite a good number when you remember that eagles have been on the endangered species list for some time.

This picture shows a scraggly tree standing beside the state highway I drive on my way to work. I've often seen a lone eagle perched in it but yesterday around 6 pm I saw 4 eagles! My husband turned around so I could take a picture of this amazing event. Very cool experience.

Saturday, March 2, 2013


Saturday morning with no work scheduled, I dressed warmly and took my Golden Retriever, Ellie, for a walk in the woods. She was excited and ran ahead sniffing the ground as she headed toward the pond. We always check the water level and i usually take a picture to show my husband. Ellie especially likes to get a drink of the cold water and continue exploring. Sometimes we sneak upon a heron or duck. Once I was startled by a snorting deer. Ellie is so intent with her nose to the ground looking for scat that she often misses the wildlife. I'm glad because I would not want her to give chase.

Ellie has finally learned to stay with me at a comfortable distance. Last year if she wasn't on a leash she quickly ran to visit the neighbors. Something about their trash pile drew her away from me. I would get in my car and retrieve her. I'm so glad she doesn't run away now. It is great for her to go walking without a leash.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Slice of Life

I'm going to participate in the daily writing journey during March. This will be my first time. I so enjoy reading the stories written by others. It will be a great challenge for me, but here goes.

The first day of  March certainly arrived like a lion. My day began early because I was scheduled to visit elementary teachers at a school an hour away. When I went outside to load the car, it was covered with lots of wet snow. The temperature was above freezing so the roads were clear. I cleaned the snow from my car and headed south.

When I arrived at the school, I rang the buzzer to be invited in. That is a new procedure for 2013. The door to each classroom was also locked. I felt safe and the students seemed accustomed to having the door locked. Each classroom that I visited was a reflection of the teacher. The rooms were decorated in themes, selected by the teacher. A few themes I saw include a frog, ladybug, monkey and bee. The bulletin boards were filled student art work. The atmosphere was a good learning environment. Students and teachers were polite and respectful. I felt welcomed into each classroom. I witnessed positive interactions throughout my visit.

The teachers listened to my comments and shared some of the issues they were experiencing. The day was a successful one for me, I always learn so much when I go to school.

Here's to hoping March goes out like a lamb.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Wintery Weather


 The most recent midwest storm created some difficult choices for us. Many area schools closed or sent students home early because of hazardous travel conditions. The view on the left was from my front porch, sparkly and cold. Later that night I heard a loud crash. I went to check things and found a limb from the elm tree had broken under the weight of the ice. It came close to my house. I was lucky because the huge limb fell down inside the tree instead of on my house.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Writing Progress

I have a couple items to report:

First, I commented on 3 different picture book submissions. These writers are so creative, I really had fun reading their work. I'm not sure my comments were helpful but I tried to be objective and make suggestions that might improve the story.

Second, I wrote a 275 word story that had been rolling around in my head for some time. It evolved during this month as I narrowed the focus. I submitted the first draft on the critique site today. Yea!

Now I wait for comments and suggestions.

Personal Learning Network

Recently I attended a tech conference that encouraged me to create a PLN for me and my coworkers.

Educators so often work in isolation. It is very apparent to me when teachers get together for a staff meeting or training session because they have so much talking to get out of the way before they are ready to attend to the speaker.

Social media has allowed teachers to connect without leaving their homes. Twitter is one fast paced networking tool that I have used to connect to other educators. After seeing how a PLN can be created, I think it would be a useful tool in my current job.

Here is a great web site with tips for creating a professional learning network.

Check out Kathy Schrok's guide to PLNs

At the tech conference I attended a session with Shelly Terrell and here is a link to her web site with information about creating a PLN

My next step is to attempt a PLN and invite coworkers. We could be connected before nightfall.

#SOL 2018 Day 31 Thank you, slicers.