Friday, December 24, 2010


"At one time, most of my friends could hear the bell, but as years passed, it fell silent for all of them. Even Sarah found one Christmas that she could no longer hear its sweet sound. Though I've grown old, the bell still rings for me, as it does for all who truly believe."  The Polar Express, Chris Van Allsburg

On this night when reindeer are given the gift of flight, may you hear the sweet sound of the Christmas bells.

Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Autumn Reading

Today, a little after dusk, somewhere between 6:00 and 6:30, autumn will quietly exit from the stage and winter will make her entrance.   I love winter!  It's quiet time.  The one time of year I don't have to make excuses for curling up with a cup of tea in my hand  and a good book.  Truth be told, I don't ever make excuses for slipping away into a good read (or a bad one for that matter).

While my little guy up there is already dressed to settle in with his winter reading list, I thought I would share my autumn reads.

Let the Great World Spin, Colum McCann
(loved everything about this book)
Reading Like a Writer, Francine Prose
(beautifully written.  It fed the part of me that would love to be a professional student, minus the papers.)
Ex Libris, Anne Fadiman
(This little jewel was a reread.  I forgot I needed to keep a dictionary near)
The Common Reader, Virginia  Woolf
(didn't enjoy it as much as A Room of One's Own)
Sarah's Key, Tatiana de Rosnay
(loved Sarah's story; found Julia's story weak)
My Reading Life, Pat Conroy
 (I would read anything by Pat Conroy)
The Nimrod Flipout, Etgar Keret
(short stories filled with loneliness.  Not really my cup of tea)
The Sparrow, Doria Russell
(I listened to this while on a road trip.  Who knew I would enjoy science fiction?)
Great House, Nicole Krauss
 (Beautifully written!  Not a book to read when you have a lot on your mind.  I am going to reread.)

I hope you have a fabulous winter reading list.  I would love to hear about it.  Stay warm and happy reading!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Gifts from a Child

"While we try to teach our children all about life, our children teach us what life is all about."   -William Saroyan

Yesterday  was the last day of school before Christmas vacation.  It was the perfect day for wearing pajamas to school, handing out presents, snacking on chocolate waffles with whipped cream and hot chocolate, and for filling up treat bags with presents. I am always awed with my parent's creativity and humbled by their generosity.

Along with the fabulous gifts my children gave me, I had a present, left in my care, to deliver.  Today I carefully pack it in a box and shipped it out along with this attached note:

 This gift is for you.  It isn't from me or anyone you've met.  It is from one of my children.  L. and her mom made gifts for the class.  When they had finished they had one  left.  B., her mother, ask her what she wanted to do with it.  B. told me that without thinking L. said, "it is for Miss Bonnie's daddy".  She continued to tell me that everynight you and I are in L.'s prayers.

L. is a delightfully spunky little four year old with a mind of her own.  (Remind you of anyone we know:))Trust me - she will ask me if I gave this to you.

So, Merry Christmas "Miss Bonnie's daddy".  L.

Love you Daddy, 

Yesterday I was the recipient of the true meaning of Christmas, given by a  four year old with a loving heart that I don't think most can comprehend.  (Oh yeah, you know there were tears!) 

I repeat, my children teach me so much more than I could ever teach them.

(Note  I first posted this last night.  I pulled it this morning because I rewrote the note to my Dad)

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

A Sentimental Journey

Each year as I toss out the last of  the Thanksgiving turkey, tote the pumpkins back to the potting area, move the mums to some little noticed area of the garden, my thoughts head toward the coming of Christmas. 

When  Heather was home we would make a big deal of heading out to the tree farm the day after Thanksgiving to find the perfect tree.  Later in the day, Roger would carry all the boxes downstairs, and we would begin the decorating.  Roger was in charge of putting on the lights even though I was never short of advice of how to string them around or how many were needed (I always want more, more, more).  Soon it was time to tackle the daunting task of finding the perfect spot for each ornament.  Heather would hang her collection (she always found an ornament in her stocking on Christmas morning) and then help with the rest.  She now has a home of her own with her own  Christmas tree decorated with her collection.   Roger and I  may be a little slower in getting it all together, but our routine is pretty much the same.

As years have passed, I have admired friend's trees that are theme decorated; I have toyed with having someone come in to give me a show stopping tree.  Then I remember the ornament Roger gave me the Christmas before Heather was born.


There is the Santa that came back with my family from Germany.  I was two when we returned home.  He no longer is allowed on the tree, as he  seems to become more fragile each year.  Growing up my brother and I would fight over who would hang him on our tree.   This lovely old man and I are the same age.  I am the fortunate keeper of several ornaments that survived the relocations of a military family, and my brother and I.

There is the Santa Claus I made when I was in kindergarten, made from a styrofoam ball, a triangle of red foil and some cotton,  and, the apple Heather's first teacher, who has become a cherished friend, gave her.  My dear friend's granddaughter is in my class this year.

There is the whale bone cross, a student in Nashville gave me shortly after he was diagnosed with leukemia.  Each year as I take it out of the bubble wrap I pray is well and happy.  It is given a place of honor.

And I can't forget the beautiful Santa Claus my son-in-law gave me the  Christmas before he and Heather were married.  I was overwhelmed with it's elegant beauty and his thoughtfulness.

There is a royal monkey (a gift from Heather), a bear or two, an otter, several reindeer and I am amassing quite a collection of birds.  Some were gifts from Santa, friends, students,  or clients.  Some were gifts we gave each other.  Each decoration has a story about a person, a place or moment in our life.  I don't think I will ever tire of reminising as I carefully unwrap each precious treasure and place it among the branches of the most perfect tree.

I  may never have a "show stopping" tree, but it will always stop my heart for a brief moment one night each December.  You see, it is not a tree loaded with random pieces of colorful glass, wood, paper, dough and maybe some plastic.  It is a record as vivid as a photograph of this family's life and love.

Monday, December 13, 2010


Sunday morning the howling wind, which lulled me to sleep Saturday night, woke me before 6:00a.m.  I could have chosen to pull the covers a little higher and fall back to sleep, but I decided to get up, put on my warmest (not my favorite) robe and head downstairs with Willie at my heels. 

Willie was eager to go outside; I was eager for caffeine.  It was in my best interest to put Willie's needs ahead of my wants.  Once we were back inside I could have chosen to turn up the downstairs thermostat; I decided to turn on the fireplace (yes, I have gas logs).  

With the coffee brewing, Willie and I settled into a comfy chair wrapped in a cozy throw.  My laptop laying on the stool in front of me, my book  on the table beside me, and three balls of yarn yearning to be played with, waiting in my knitting bag next to the chair, it was a quiet morning with options.

Sometimes that is all that is needed to recharge.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Alas, Dear Elna You Served Me Well

My grandmother's sewing machine

I come from a long line of accomplished seamstresses.  While they did not make a living sewing for others, they clothed themselves and their children. They sewed for their homes when there was cloth or money for such extravagances.

I honestly don't believe my grandmother ever owned a "store bought" dress.  The only thing she made for me was the "sunbonnet girl" quilt that covered my childhood bed.  I would give anything to have that quilt.  When I was little I was afraid to sleep in my room by myself.  My mother would lay in bed with me and tell me to pick a girl.  I would select one of the squares;  Mother would tell me the story of the dress made for her out of the fabric.  I would keep selecting squares until I fell asleep.  My grandmother had made the quilt from dresses she had sewn for my mother when she was a child.

Like  her mother,  Mother was quite talented.  Each year before school started we would go to town and pick out cloth for my school wardrobe.  If I saw a dress or outfit in a store window or catalog, Mother would draw out the pattern on newspaper and make it for me.  She made most of my clothes while I was in high school and college.  I ask her to make my wedding dress and she did.   She stopped sewing after she made several maternity outfits for me.

I have to say, I really thought that particular creative gene had passed me.    Mother tried to teach me; sewing bored me.  My freshman year she would not sign off on my class schedule until I signed up for a home ec class.  I started a garment, but Mother finished it; I got an A.  I just could not learn to sew.  And, why should I want to when my mother sewed so well?

Well, Heather was born.  I started playing around on a little sewing machine Mother and Daddy gave me for Christmas one year (just in case I needed to repair something).  I found I actually  loved making little clothes.  

Once I started, I was obsessed (we've chatted about my obsessive personality).  I was at my sewing machine whenever I had free time.  If I was not sewing, I was smocking or working at the local fabric/smocking shop (to pay for my habit).   I pretty much taught myself to sew on the little machine that could only sew a straight stitch, and, with great effort, make a basic buttonhole. 

Many years later,  I was fortunate enough to purchase a brand new fancy computerized Elan sewing machine.  Let me tell you, it did everything.  My sewing went up several levels.  I bought my Elna in 1990.    

This past Saturday I took my machine in to  be repaired.  Something was wrong with the bobbin.  They told me it was probably the timing, and it could be repaired by servicing; they would call me if there was something else.  Well, today while browsing the bookstore I got the phone call.  There was, in fact, a crack in a part that can no longer be found.  I ask what I could do with the machine.  I ask if he would be interested in buying it for parts, or if he knew of someone who might.  He told me this machine had not been popular "in this part of the country".   I was so sad, and my first instinct was to become defensive, but instead told him I would pick it up later this week.

Alas, dear Elna you made me look really good!

Monday, December 6, 2010

"Bird by Bird"

Many many years ago I read Anne Lamont's book, "Bird by Bird".  There are probably of a lot of things one could get out of the book.  My favorite story and the one I still carry with me is about her brother and her dad.   This is how I remember it (I apologize to Ms. Lamont if I butcher her wonderful story).

Anne's younger brother had been given an assignment to write a report on birds.  Like most children, he put the report off until the night before it was due.  Sitting at the dining room table he quickly became frustrated and overwhelmed with the amount of information on birds.  His dad returns home to find his son panicked.  In one of his better parenting moments, he sits down next to him, places his arm around his shoulders and says to him, "Buddy just  take it bird by bird".  To be really honest I don't remember if the "bird" report was completed, but I don't think that was the point of the story.  At least it was not the lesson I took from it.

Through the years I have carried the phrase, "bird by bird" with me.  Whenever things become overwhelming, I remind myself, "take it bird by bird".   I suppose you could say it has become my mantra when life gets busy and there seems to be so much to do.


This Christmas I am taking it "bird by bird".


brought tree home


tree placed in stand

Tonight, I thought about putting on the lights.  I took  the lights out of the storage box.

"Bird by Bird"

Saturday, December 4, 2010

From My Hands and Heart

Several years ago when my friends went from having babies to having grandchildren, I decided I wanted to knit something for their first grandbaby.  Well, it has sort of grown.  Have you heard "We have met the enemy..."? It is no longer the first grandchild.

While knitting for the baby, I think a lot about the relationship I have or have had with the parent or grandparent.  I use the time I knit as sort of a little mini-trip back in time; a time to reflect on friendship and time together.  There are times I find myself giggling, and others I may become a little misty eyed with gratitude.   When I knit for friends, it is a gift of love from my hands and heart. 

In July I posted this picture with the caption "future baby dress".

I changed my mind.


Pretty darn cute!

I do love the process, but I am always happy to see the finished product.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

With a Grateful Heart

Outside my garden gate.

Thanksgiving  2010 is history, a memory, an event that will never take place again.

Each month when I change out the calendar in my classroom I tell my children we will never see that particular month again.  I explain the month will come around again next year, but it will not be the same.  "It will not be 2010.  You will be older, you will be taller.  Look out the window.  The weather will probably be different.  You will be in a different classroom.  Each day changes us just a little and  prepares us for tomorrow."   Usually they get very quiet and look at me with wide eyes.  I am not trying to teach anything, only introducing a concept (one I've been thinking a lot about lately).  And, it is a great way to get everyone's attention. 

We spent our Thanksgiving with Heather and Kyle in St. Louis.  I reveled in and absorbed every minute of it.  I walked with snow falling on Thanksgiving day.  I became addicted to the game  Banangrams (I love words).  I ate way too much, and I talked and laughed more than my fair share.    I am most content when I am with my family, and I was most content.   Now, Thanksgiving 2010 is a memory locked within my grateful heart.   

Thanksgiving day snow in St. Louis
Just as I tell my children after we have changed the month and counted our first day,  "Now, let's take out our crayons, go to the table, and prepare for tomorrow", it is time for me to take out my "crayons"  and prepare for Christmas and more memories.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Weekend in Review

This is where Roger and I are sitting while enjoying this early evening.  He is checking out all the latest Longhorn news, and I am reviewing a somewhat productive weekend. (You gotta love wireless internet!)

The Art Center hosted their annual student sale on Saturday.  I had heard you really had to get there early to get the "good stuff".  Roger and I were up  and out of the house early enough to go have a little breakfast.  The Metroplex was filled with works from all mediums.  We found several pieces we liked, but were snatched before we made a second round.  We left with a black and white photograph titled Morning Vision.  (I'm getting too much glare from the glass to share tonight.)

After leaving the the art sale, I wanted to go looking for a couple of bookshelves.  I have been so inspired by everyone, I thought I might be able to find something to rehab.  There are not a lot of bookshelves out there.  I did find this at Fabulous Finds.

Not just one -- a pair.  I fell in love with these chairs.   They will be going to live with Heather in St. Louis. 

Today, I replaced these

with these.

One flat of pansies was not enough to complete the border.  Hopefully I will find the same variety tomorrow.

So, before my lovely fire dies down, I think I will hit publish, close my laptop and enjoy this lovely November evening.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Oh My!

I am still working my way around in the blogging world.   When I first started, the only way I knew to get to certain areas was through another bloggers site.  I even used her website designer to pretty up my page, with the help of my daughter.  Thank you Gretchan! 

I have only recently started checking out and following bloggers I  don't know personally, and have found by checking out other's favorites.  I hope no one thinks I am stalking them.  I'm not for sure what I thought all those tabs at the top of my dashboard meant.  You know the ones:  Comments, Settings, Design, Monetize, Stats.   Not long ago I started clicking on everything just to see what would happen.  I kind of look at things with a "what's the worse thing that could happen?" attitude.  So I totally wipe everything out?  I'll just start over.  Anyway, I found out I can check out comments without going to my draft page.  And, if I click on stats I can see how many hits I get in a day, week, month or year.  It's one of those things I haven't been concerned with, but once I discovered it I check if I'm signed in.  My stats are quite modest, actually,  lower than modest.  I have a few followers, and....oh yes, I  even have a phantom follower (I love mysteries). 

Two days ago I checked my stats and the  hit line went to the top of the graph.  I squealed "Oh my!  What's going on?"  Willie jumped down and ran for cover.  Roger looked up from his laptop with concern.  I am sure he thought I had just totally wiped out my computer without hope of recovering anything.  When I returned to my dashboard I found out what was going on.

My friend Charlotte had mentioned  me, and her memories of time we shared in Louisiana, in her blog,  Nightbook.  She titled it "A Durable Memory".  I commented back to her, I literally had to go back several times to reread.  I don't believe I have ever had my name mentioned in such a beautifully written piece.  She described me as "bubbly".  This appeared on a day when I needed bubbly.  I am grateful, not for the "hits on my blog, but that someone with Charlotte's extraordinary talent would mention me.  Her writing is both lyrical and poignant.  I am humbled.  I hope that I once was, and still am the person she remembers me to be.  I hope I can live up to being "durable".

Sunday, November 14, 2010

The Middle Child

Friday's  Weekly Reader subject was Needs and Wants.   The cover picture  was of a child looking in a big store window full of toys.  After talking about the picture, I ask the children if there was anything in the picture the child needed.  Almost in unison they said  Christmas presents; two began singing "Jingle Bells".  My heart fell.  (The children actually did very well choosing between needs and wants; my parents have done well.)

I couldn't get past the Christmas presents and "Jingle Bells".   After we worked through our Weekly Reader I ask everyone to sit in circle time.  I ask them to look around the room and tell me what holiday we are getting ready to celebrate.

Even with our trees decked out in autumn splendor, the fabulous turkeys hiding behind the watercolored leaves, and our list of things we are thankful for tacked to the bulletin board,  they all responded with an enthusiastic -  Christmas.  I assured them Christmas was certainly around the corner, but we have another holiday to look forward to and prepare for, Thanksgiving.  I ended circle time with the book Thanks for Thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving is the middle child.  Halloween comes first.  It seems like the witches, tombstones, giant spiders and jack-o-lanterns were out in my neighborhood by the end of September.  I am not a huge Halloween decorator ( I do love a spooky  jack-o-lantern, I am not opposed to stories of witches and goblins and I will not miss the parade of costumes that appear at my door.), so for the most part, I don't get it.

Before the last miniature Snicker's bar was handed out, Christmas lights were being hung and carols being sung.  I love Advent and Christmas.  I love the smell of our freshly cut Christmas tree. I love unpacking the few ornaments that survived my childhood, as well as, the ornaments we have collected through the years, and retelling the stories attached to each one.  I love searching for that perfect gift and wrapping it in pretty paper and ribbon.  I love the songs, carols and hymns sung with angelic voices, and by those of us who do not have the voices of angels.  And who cannot help get caught up in the infectious anticipation of young and old.

But ... I adore Thanksgiving, the middle child, most.  It is the perfect holiday!  Mother Nature takes care of the decorations and there are no gifts to buy.  It is a day of food, family and friends, football and (taking a deep breath here)  reflection (I'm sure a better word-smith than I could have come up with another "f" word) of the blessings we have been given through the year.  So I am keeping my basket full of autumn foliage on my door and my pumpkins and mums standing like Sentinels guarding my home, until after November 25th.

Oh, and if you hear some crazy woman humming, "Come Ye Thankful People Come" over "You Better Watch Out", while gathering up Christmas finds at the department store....well, you will know who she is.

"Raise the song of harvest home"

Thursday, November 4, 2010

"They Were All of Them Saints....."

All Saints Day was Monday; it was the subject in Children's Chapel Wednesday morning.  To describe a Saint, Father Danny ask the children,  "What happens when the sun shines through the stained glass window?"  He went on to explained the light shines through, lights up the window so we can see the colors, and makes it pretty.  He went on and explained that is what Saints do, they give us light so we can see things better.  He told about a Saint in his life, his Grandmother.  After telling the story of how she affected his life, he ask the children if they could think of someone who was a Saint.  Several hands went up.  Here are a few of the answers:
  • my Dad, the sun shines on him
  • my brother tries to like me  
  • my sister plays with me 
  • my Dad throws the football to me over the bushes
Father Danny ask for one more.  A little girl raised her hand, and he asked,
"Who has been a Saint in your life?"  She said, "Jesus".  He paused, then  continued, "Okay, how does Jesus show you light?"  She gave her one word response, "love".   Five children, one answer .  Maybe we adults overthink  things.

"....God help me to be one too."

    Wednesday, November 3, 2010

    The Move in Begins

    It is the beginning of November and the temperatures are finally starting to drop.  Sunday I pulled perennials out of pots and planted them in the garden to settle in before the first freeze.  Next spring I will find the various ferns, hostas, heuchera, pachysandra, sweet woodruff, wormwood, lamb's ear and hardy begonia popping up in unexpected places in the garden.  It will probably take a bit of time to remember I had planted them.

    Yesterday rain was on the horizon arriving in the late evening and staying until late this afternoon.  Along with the rain came much anticipated cooler temps.  The lows tonight should remain in the 40s so I'm not too concerned about most of my plants.  I did bring in the Maidenhair Fern into the sun room.  I think she will be happy for the winter.

    Sunday, October 31, 2010

    Unfulfilled Promises or....

    It is an absolutely beautiful morning.  It is the kind of morning that holds such promise.  A day for. . .

    Pumpkin waffles for breakfast.  Nope, I didn't pick up the pumpkin yesterday.

    A little gardening, maybe?   Nope, I didn't make it by the nursery for my flats of pansies.

    Putting together a pot of warm spicy chili to enjoy while waiting on Trick or Treaters.    Nope, couldn't make up my mind between white or red -- didn't  shop for that either. 

    Today is not a complete loss.  I have a chicken roasting in the oven, a stack of books waiting to be opened, Willie curled up next to me, Roger sitting across from me and leaves calling to be raked.

    Oh, I also have a bowl of treats waiting for tonight's costume parade.

    It is a beautiful day!

    Happy Halloween!

    Tuesday, October 26, 2010

    A Special Visit

     I had the chance, this past week, to spend three days with my mentor,  my hero, my biggest fan, my Daddy.   It was not a visit I had planned.  I traveled to Louisiana to be with him while he was undergoing  medical tests.   We had this picture taken just before we got in the car to head to the hospital (can you believe he is 93).  I felt it was very important to have this picture taken.  We were both nervous, but neither would admit it.  We both knew the outcome, but neither would talk of it.  By the end of the day Daddy had been diagnosed with cancer.  Daddy was physically exhausted; I was emotionally exhausted.  We were both overwhelmed.

    The thing about life threatening illnesses is one person tells a lot of stories;  the other  does a lot  of listening.  I was fortunate to be on the receiving end of wonderful stories from my  Daddy's past.  Many of the stories I have heard many times, but they took on new significance this time.

    No one really knows how this story will end.  I do know I will visit this wonderful man (yes, I have always felt this way about my Dad) as often as he will allow.  I will listen and record as many stories as he is up to sharing.  His past is my history.  I will champion his fight.  I will respect and honor any decision he makes.  And I will be blessed.

    This story is about my Daddy and me; however,  I cannot leave it without saying I have a stepmother who loves him and is a blessing to me. I also have  a step-sister I would happily call Sis.

    Monday, October 18, 2010

    Kindergarten Ready

    I have eight delightful four year olds, this year, who keep me on my toes.  Every morning to start our day we gather around for circle time.  We say the Pledge of Allegiance, sing a song or two, and on Mondays, I introduce our letter for the week.  This morning I was having a little difficulty getting everyone to settle down.  There was a constant barrage of questions.  "When can we go outside?"  "I'm hungry, when is snack?"  "Miss Bonnie, I need to go the bathroom. "Are those brownies for us?" ......(you get my point).

    I finally gave up and ask everyone to go sit in their chairs, and I pulled my chair up to the table.  I ask the children if their Mommies and Daddies worked?  They all started talking at once, telling me what their parents did.  Once I quietened them down, I ask, "What do you think is Miss Bonnie's job?"  Most of them just looked at me.  One little girl look at me and giggled, "Silly Miss Bonnie,  your don't have a job."  Of course this started everyone giggling.  Not quite the reaction I was hoping for.

    I explained to them they will be going to Kindergarten next year, and my job is to get them ready.  " We have  a lot of work to do together.  We need to know our letters, our numbers, we need to be able to cut on a line, and most importantly we need to be able to (pause)  listen and follow directions".  They pretty much stared at me.   Going around the table, I ask each child, "Do you want to go to Kindergarten next year?" The first five answer with an enthusiastic "Yes, Ma'am".   I touched the hand of the next child, "C., do you want to go to Kindergarten next year?"  He stopped fidgeting, looked me straight in the eye and whispered, "I don't know, I need to think about that."

    You know?  I would almost do this for free!  Almost!

    Sunday, October 17, 2010

    Sunday Supper Treat

    Yesterday was "apple" day at Whole Foods.  I literally grazed through the store.  The first thing I was handed when I walked in was a  little cup of chopped baked apples, cranberries and nuts.  It was delicious!  I picked up the recipe, looked at it, folded it up, put it in my bag and started shopping.

    Here is my version:

    Stuffed Apples

    2 apples of choice (I used Fugi)
    Butter (a little over a tblsp)
    A good heaping cup of fresh  cranberries
    8 dates , pitted and chopped
    Juice of a blood orange
    Zest from the blood orange
    1/4 tsp. cardamom
    2 tblsp. honey (I used a creamed honey with cinnamon from a local beekeeper)
    a handful of shelled walnuts, chopped coarsely

    Cut tops off of apples, and set aside.  Take out core, and hollow out apples leaving about 1/4 of an inch around sides and bottom.

    In a large pan, melt butter.  Add whole cranberries, dates, juice and zest of the blood orange, cardamom, and honey.  Cook until cranberries have popped and liquid has thickened.  Stir in walnuts.
    Spoon mixture into apple cavities, dividing equally.  Place apple tops on stuffing.  Place stuffed apples in a deep baking dish.  Pour water around apples (bout 1/4 " deep).  Cover with aluminum foil and bake in a 400 preheated oven for about 30 minutes.  Remove foil, pour out water and continue baking for 15 minutes. They  should be brown, but not collapsing.

    Bon Appetit!

    (My picture was taken before I baked the apples.   I was not for certain if the fugi apples would hold up.  They were beautiful and yummy.  They were not as rich or as sweet as I thought they would be.  You can add more butter and substitute brown sugar in place of the honey, for a sweeter richer version.)

    Tuesday, October 12, 2010


    It was a beautiful morning to go to The Pumpkin Patch with my children.  Everyone had a great time!  Usually I have several children following behind me.  This year I had difficulty getting many of them to smile for a picture.  I suspect they knew their Moms and Dads held the real power.

    I always enjoy walking around watching and helping the children make the perfect pumpkin selection.  Some will look for the biggest.  Some want a smooth pumpkin.  Others are looking for a long stem.  Then, there are the children who let their Moms make the decision.  I always try to take a picture of them holding their treasure.

    This morning while waiting for everyone to arrive, I had one little boy run up to me to give me a hug.  I noticed he brought along a toy.   I ask him, "M... what did you bring with you?"  His face lit up as he gave me a fabulous smile, "Miss Bonnie, I brought my measuring tape.  I'm going to measure my pumpkin."  You guessed it, he was going to be looking for a big one.  After the instructions were given about where we could pick and how many (one), I noticed my little boy stand up and raise his measuring tape above his head. No one was looking his way.   I ask everyone to look at me, "If you want to measure your pumpkin, M... brought his measuring tape."  There was such pride on his face.

    You ask why I teach?  I just gave you my answer.

    Thursday, October 7, 2010

    Book Group

    Tonight is Book Group.  I have to say, I am really excited.  It is one thing I truly look forward to, and I have missed it so much.  This will be our fourth year together.

    I had talked with a couple of friends several times about starting a group, but, like all things, life kept getting in the way.  I finally decided there was not going to be a perfect time.  I called up my two friends, added another and set a date to organize.   We decided on a meeting time, what we wanted to read, how many members we wanted and how we wanted to choose our material.  I didn't want it to be Bonnie's Book Group, so I ask each of them to invite up to three women.  I made only two request:  I wanted members who would really read the book selections and no self-help books (I was a psychology major.  They are only good until the next great one comes out.)  We were well on our way!

    We are a mixed group.  Several of us are teachers (only two at the same school), active and retired.  We have an attorney, an actress who also writes, a jewelry designer, a photographer and a computer consultant.  Everyone brings a unique insight  to the table.

    Our first  meeting of the "reading year" is taken up with putting together a list of books to read during our reading season, and signing up to host.  I had to miss the September meeting (my favorite) because I was busy moving into the new school building.   I will have a great evening chatting with this great group of women about our book, The Glass Castle".  I actually read it three years ago, so I read her newest book, Half Broke Horses.    Reviewing the list, I am anxious to see who nominated each book.

    Book Belles 2010-11 Book List:

    October - The Glass Castle or Half Broke Horses by Jeanette Walls (memoir)
    November - Sarah's Key by Tatiana de Rosnay (historical fiction)
    December - The Nimrod Flipout, by Etgar Keret (humor, short stories)
    January - Wives of Henry Oades, by Johana Moran (fiction)
    February - Doomsday, Connie Willis (science fiction)
    March - Woman in White, Wilkie Collins (classic)
    April - Issac Newton, John Gleick (biography)
    May - Stoner, John Williams (fiction)
    June - Cutting for Stone, Abraham Verghese (international fiction)

    A couple of these books would never have even appeared  on my radar.  They will probably end up being my  favorites.

    Happy Reading!

    Tuesday, October 5, 2010

    Bon Appetit

    One of my favorite things about teaching is having a child come back to visit.   It is such a treat!

    A couple of weeks ago one of my sweet girls, from last year, came to visit me. We had the best conversation.  We talked about her summer, her teacher (a good friend of mine), and what she likes best about her new school.  At the end of our visit I ask what she and her  Mother  were going to do on her day out of school.  Her Mother said they were going to go get something to eat.  I replied, " Bon Appetit!"

    My little friend looked up at me with a shy little smile.   I ask her if she had told her Momma about our Bon Appetit; she shook her head.  I explained at snack time, after saying the blessing, I  say "Bon Appetit".  It is my way of saying you can eat now.   It doesn't take long before the children begin saying it with me.  The Mom had a slight look of confusion, but I didn't really think much about it.  I am not for sure when I started saying "Bon Appetit in the classroom, but I have parents tell me their children say it at the dinner table for years after they leave me.  I was a bit surprised S. had not repeated it at home.

    Later, before starting dinner, I logged onto my computer to check my email.  I immediately saw I had a note from the Mother who had visited earlier.   After reading her email I understood her earlier expression.

    She explained at dinner, after saying the blessing, S. would say, "one cuppa tea".  The Mom ask her why she said "one cuppa tea" after the blessing.  She replied, "because Miss Bonnie says it everyday".   She continued to write that she didn't understand "one cuppa tea",  but thought it must be an English saying; once she heard me say "Bon Appetit" she understood.

    I always hope my children will take what I teach and make it their own;  my  sweet girl did just that. time you eat...may your meal be blessed and "one cuppa tea"

    Monday, October 4, 2010

    This Thing Called Blogging

    I've been writing my blog maybe five months now.   I'm still not always sure why I continue.    I started, thinking I had all this great advice to pass on.   I've made it through fifty five years fairly successful and unscathed without knowing a lot about anything.  Thus my heading, "Living Life By the Seat of My Pants".   Looking at it now, that seems a little presumptuous.

    I stated at the very beginning I am not a writer.   I will never pretend to be.    I am a conversationalist (I hope that is a word); I love to tell stories, but, I do not have the patience to spend the time editing for perfect grammar and structure.  I spend enough time just making sure I didn't leave out a word or two.  And, thank  goodness for spell check.   I  am a preschool teacher.  I am  more concerned with the alphabet, holding a pencil correctly, saying , "I'm finished" in place of "I'm  done" (a pet peeve of mine), trying to get everyone home without anymore bruises than they brought to school,  and most importantly, introducing a lifelong love of learning .   Split infinitives no longer concern me a great deal.  I don't like hanging prepositions, but I'm a Southerner; they  will slip by me.  I pretty much write as I speak.  

    I'm not sure where this adventure called blogging will take me,  but I will continue to ramble, unedited, about Living Life.  While everything I do is pretty much "by the seat of my pants", I've changed my heading to simply "Living Life".  And, yes, it is a much blessed life.

    Saturday, October 2, 2010


    I know the Autumn equinox occurs around September 22; for me, October ushers her in. The temperatures finally start going down, and Mother Nature dons her most beautiful and organic colors before shedding her clothes for a winter's nap.

    Hydrangeas are one of my favorite plants. I will find any excuse to add to my collection; each one has a special meaning. I have an Oakleaf that anchors one corner reminding me of my introduction to gardening. I planted an Everlasting the weekend Heather and Kyle became engaged, and the Bridal Wreath the week after their wedding. (My hope is one day I can give them cuttings for their own garden.) I have three, given to me by students. They are actually florist hydrangeas. Most are discarded once the blooms die; being pretty much fearless in the garden, I planted them. I found it takes three years for them to rebloom. The plants stay fairly small, but they give the really heavy dense mopheads. I planted Red Ladies because I love the color red. I have lace-caps, mopheads and varigated.

    I anxiously await the first blooms. Most hydrangeas bloom on old wood, and I am never completely confident I clip the old blooms at the best time for a good blooming season. You see, even though I love the blues, pinks, greens and whites of the spring blooms, the antique and transparent greens, bluegreens and deep purples are my favorites. They are the jewels that perfectly set off the scarlet reds of the maples and the deep oranges and yellows of the oaks.

    I've been told I have a talent for putting together unusual color combinations. I say just look out your window. There are no mistakes out there. Autumn gives us the most fabulous and inspiring palette of the year -- free of charge.

    Friday, October 1, 2010

    Time Passes

    I do not do very well with change. I like to say I am flexible; I'm not really. I like routine. I like status quo. I suppose you could say I'm not very progressive.

    A couple of weekends ago while out and about running errands I passed "our" video store and saw the "going out of business" sign. A wave a sadness washed over me. We no longer rent a lot of movies, so I suppose in some small way I have to take some responsibility for their demise. Although I suspect "Movies on Demand" (I think we have that; I can't figure it out though. We tried to order a movie once. We watched the first 30 minutes, or so, and it cut off. We got our bill and discovered we were charged three times for that movie. They were very apologetic and gave us a month upgrade with more movie channels for us not to watch.)  and Netflixs have a lot to do with it.

    I wonder who will help me find that old obscure movie I've been thinking about lately.... You know... it had some actress Clayburn or know, yes, Jill Clayburgh. It starts out with her jogging with her husband through... Manhattan, maybe? He stops and tells her he is having an affair...he leaves, she kicks him out I can't remember. . .anyway she becomes involved with an Artist, Alan Bates (whew!  I don't know where I pulled that bit of information from) maybe? It came out sometime around '78 or '79 maybe. I think sometime between "The Goodbye Girl" and "Apocalypse Now" I think it was up for several awards. Yes, that's it ..."An Unmarried Woman". I don't think that is the conversation I will be having with Netflixs.

    I would guess Netflixs is computerized. I can hear the conversation going something like this. Please state the genre' of movie you are wanting. Please speak clearly into the phone. If you want an adventure movie say "adventure movie". Drama...Did you say comedy? Please say yes or no. No.... What did you say? I said DRAMA... I'm sorry I don't understand you. Please speak clearly into the phone. I SAID DRA.A.MA.A...I'm sorry let's try this another way. For an adventure movie please press "1" now. For a comedy movie please press "2" now.......Geez! I'm sorry I can't understand you. Please hold for a customer service representative (meaning a live person).

    Oh please, say it isn't so? I've been outsourced!

    Maybe I should just hit that DVD sale!

    I will miss you Premier. Thank you for remembering all those old movies when all I could offer were snippets of information. Thank you for letting me bring my puppy in with me and making a fuss over him. Thank you for always reminding me my movies were due back even if there was an ice or snow storm. Thank you for making me feel safe when it was just me and that really weird guy over on the action aisle in the store. Thank you for being a part of our community. I'm sad to see you go. Good Luck!

    (I humbly apologize for all the grammatical mistakes; sometimes you just have to tell the story.)

    Sunday, September 19, 2010

    The Books I read

    "There are two motives for reading a book; one, that you enjoy it; the other, that you can boast about it."
    — Bertrand Russell

    I've been on a reading frenzy of late. I think it might be because school has begun and there are things that I need to do in place of things I want to do. I've loved to read as long as I can remember. My first love was Dr. Suess. My Mother bought a subscription to a "Dr. Suess book club" I suppose. Each month a new book arrived in the mail. Oh how I loved those books. I remember Mother reading to me at night, until I started reading them myself. Many times falling asleep with one in my hand.

    When I was old enough to get my library card (you had to able to write your name in cursive), I found a treasure chest of friends. I met Heidi, Alice, and Dorothy. Oh Dorothy and I became fast friends. Did you know there is a complete series of "The Wizard of Oz" books. I can close my eyes and describe exactly where they were located in our public library (left corner back wall, bottom shelf - children's room). It wasn't long before I met Nancy and set out to solve each and every mystery she encountered.

    When Scarlet entered my life I was recuperating from a bout with the flu; I considered myself quite the "southern belle", until we found ourselves treating wounded soldiers in a field hospital.  I turned absolutely green (using my  best southern voice) while reading the vivid descriptions of the wounds we were treating.  Scarlet had to wait until I was well before we could continue on our trek through the civil war and on into reconstruction.

    I soon found a kindred spirit,  Francie Nolan (A Tree Grows in Brooklyn).   I loved the thought of starting with the A's and reading through the library.     I loved she had a place outside to escape and read.  I especially loved her Saturday ritual of going to  the Library for books, stopping by the candy store for a  small purchase, returning home with her treasures and spending her day  in solitude savoring  her treats.    I never did try to read through the library; I did begin going out and sitting on my front door steps to read.  Often I read aloud to my cat who was curled up in my lap.  

    Recently, I traveled to the nineteenth century  and searched the the shores for Remarkable Creatures, listened to a Tinker(s) revisit his youth in the last hours before his death,  witnessed  the Salem witch trials after discovering The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane, and searched relics left by imprisoned  Japanese Americans at the Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet.  I found a lost identity in The Forgotten Garden.   I was rescued by The Blessings of the Animals after being offended on so many levels by A Reliable Wife.   Lastly, I cherish the time spent with Lilly Casey Smith as she spun the tales of Half Broke Horses.

    Books worth bragging about?  I don't think so.  Enjoyable?  Some more than others.    Now you know how I spent some of my summer vacation.  I can't think of a better way to stay cool when the temperatures reach 105+.

    Summer is over, and when I have time  I will relax and Let the Great World Spin
    before me.

    Saturday, September 11, 2010


    The first week of the school year is behind me, and I am exhausted!

    This year I moved into a new classroom in a newly remodeled building. My old room was in the "back hall" of the building. It was small and had one window letting in very little light. I had very little storage; I managed with a tall metal cabinet and a file cabinet, both had seen better days when I inherited them. I had a small bulletin board that I took great pains and pleasure filling with either my artwork or my children's, and a poorly placed chalkboard. When it was hot outside my room was freezing. When it was cold my room was an oven. The carpet was a few years old, but had paint stains.

    Several years ago, while my back was turned, three of my girls decided to walk a purple paint filled paint brush across the carpet in the back of the room. When I ask what happened they informed me that the "church mouse" turned the purple paint bottle over and walked through it. I created the church mouse story after seeing a small field mouse in the back closet perched on an antique typewriter. (Not to worry, critter control was called in and all holes were sealed.) It was one of those moments when you should scold, but you can't because you are working so hard at not laughing.

    My old classroom held thirteen years of memories. Memories of storytelling, laughter, tears, and yes, spilled paint. It was a room where I welcomed a new group of children each September and bid them a tearful goodbye in May. My old classroom is now the teacher's workroom and part of another classroom.

    My new classroom is at the end of the main hall. While not big, it has three big windows allowing in a lot of light. I have a full wall of beautiful woodgrain built-in shelves and cabinets without the dents and layers of paint. They finally hung my bulletin board Wednesday afternoon. It is eight by four! I divided it to make two display areas. I still don't have coat hooks or a chalkboard; I have notes up where I want them placed, they will appear one day soon. They are still working on adjusting my thermostat. My new floor is rubber, not carpet. I will be able to wipe up any "mouse footprints" should he decide to visit my room again.

    My new classroom doesn't have the memories attached to it, but is a clean canvas for painting new memories. My bulletin board is embellished; and, even though I have no idea where anything is, I greeted a new group of children this last week.

    What I know: Memories are not created by a room, but by those who enter and leave a piece of themselves. Memories are not held in a room, but in the heart.

    Yes, I have been a little discombobulated this week, but I am truly blessed to be allowed to do what I do five days a week.

    Sunday, August 29, 2010

    Creativity at work......

    I am knee deep in construction paper, glitter, glue and paint. Has anyone seen my scissors?

    These picture were taken just before I really made a mess. I've now spread from my workroom to Heather's bedroom floor. Hopefully everything including file boxes will be moved to my brand new classroom Friday.

    Saturday, July 31, 2010

    July 30, 2010

    Thirty years of marriage to one of the really good guys in the world

    One perfect daughter
    (and the best son-in-law)

    Four great dogs

    One manic cat

    Ten (across state line) moves

    Eight cities

    Twelve homes

    So many good friends (one who has been with me through it all)

    To many hours of laughter to count

    Not enough tears to matter

    One great life!

    * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

    I wonder what's planned for the next thirty years.
    It begins today!

    Wednesday, July 28, 2010


    I love tomatoes! I am passionate about tomatoes! I anxiously await mid-summer when the sun has been blazing down, warming the earth and ripening all those delicious red globes of flavor. The really good tomatoes only start showing up mid to late June. If someone tries to tell you they have great homegrown tomatoes in April or May. Trust me they were not homegrown nearby, unless you live may be in Florida or California. I still might question it. I watched tomatoes being harvested in California. They were red. Trust me, once again, they were not ripe.

    I grew up in Louisiana, in the country. My Dad always had a wonderful garden, and the star was almost always his tomatoes. I learned quite young, the best way to eat a tomato was over the sink with a salt shaker in one hand. I can remember standing there taking that first bite with the warm juices running down my chin. I would eat until I thought I might pop. He still grows tomatoes; I'm just not close enough to enjoy his bounty, but discuss his trials (to much rain - not enough rain) and successes (overloaded plants - I could help him with that problem) frequently.

    There is nothing better than a simple tomato/cucumber salad, bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwich (probably nothing healthy about that one, especially if your loaded it down with mayo), tomato with mozzarella and pesto. So many wonderful concoctions. But probably of my favorite things to do with my farmer's market tomatoes is make gazpacho.

    My Gazpacho
    (makes about 4 soup bowl servings, but easily doubled or tripled and so on)

    4 small garden tomatoes
    3 to 4 pickling cucumbers (or 1 hothouse)
    1 red bell pepper
    1 roasted red pepper (chopped)
    1/2 large purple onion
    1 medium jalapeño pepper (minced)
    2 large cloves garlic (finely minced)
    23 oz. (about 1/2 bottle of tomato juice)
    1/4 cup fresh squeezed lime juice (about 2)
    1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
    1/2 tsp. cumin
    a handful of fresh cilantro (roughly chopped)
    salt and pepper to taste
    (amounts and measurements are sort of estimated)

    In the food processor using the pulse speed I chop, separately, the tomatoes, cucumber, bell pepper and onion. I like my gazpacho with a lot texture, so I don't puree' it. I leave lots of
    chunky pieces. I toss them in a big mixing bowl and add the jalapeño and garlic (I was conservative in my amounts. I love jalapeños and garlic.)

    Pour in the tomato juice, lime juice and olive oil. Add the cumin, cilantro, salt and pepper.
    Stir and refrigerate overnight. The longer it sets the better it gets.


    Friday, July 23, 2010


    Yes, I finished! Jumping up and down!

    Edging (all 56 peaks) finished, and slip stitched (14 peaks on each side) around the central part of the blanket. Finished! Finished! Finished! I may actually get it in the mail before the baby makes his appearance.

    Remember, in my very first blog entry, I mentioned I am a perfectionist; I do a lot of redoing (in knitting that is defined as a lot of ripping). Well, you guessed it -- I sewed the edging around three times before I was happy.

    As I type, it is in the washing machine, on handwash, preparing to be blocked. With fingers crossed, I hoping all the little ends are woven in securely.

    Oh my, three babies due in December. I will take advantage of the hot weather, stay inside and knit... may be just a little...

    (future baby dress)

    Wednesday, July 21, 2010

    Woman on a Mission

    Woman on a Mission or obsessed woman? Either way I am determined to finish the baby shawl.

    It has been the traveling knitting project. I have taken it to Austin and numerous times to St. Louis.

    I started it in April as soon as I found out Roger's niece was expecting her first baby, a boy. (please take into consideration my knitting time has been waylaid by the end of school, a month of compulsive gardening and a stint of reading everything I could get my hands on.)

    I had my eye on this sweet project for sometime. Thinking it would be so much fun to knit. It looks a little more complicated than it really is, really. It is one of those things where you just have to take a leap of faith. And I did!

    I finished five triangles and nine rectangles, thinking okay this will go smoothly. said repeat 3 more times. Twenty seven more rectangles and some triangles as well. Okay, I had some road trips planned. It would give me something to do in the car. And, how many more episodes of "The Tudors" are left? Well, those little rectangles, even though they are only 22 stitches across and 22 rows each, take a little bit of time.

    This past weekend I finally finished the the central part of the blanket. I looked at Roger, "Finished! All I have left to do is the trim around it. Now when is the baby due"?

    I immediately started the edging by casting on the initial seven stitches. It was a pretty simple pattern - increase one stitch every other row, creating an eyelet, up to 15 and cast off eight and begin again. Begin again, how many times? Fifty five times! Total peaks needed - fifty six.

    Fifty four triangles -- two left.

    I am going to finish this tonight!