Saturday, January 29, 2011

A Full Box of Crayons


Last night Roger and I headed downtown to 'The Rep' to see "A Raisin in the Sun".  Not finding a place to park on the street Roger parked in the parking garage.  As we entered the walkover into the theater a woman stopped me.  With a huge smile on her face she said, "You love purple don't you?"  My first thought was, what an odd assumption.  Without thinking I immediately looked down and saw I had on my eggplant colored all-weather coat and a deep purple sweater over black slacks.  I looked into her smiling face and said, "I do".  She quickly opened her coat showing me her lovely purple outfit and said, "I do too".  I quickly patted her arm and replied, "Well we have good taste, don't we".  She had the most wonderful smile.

This morning as I stood in my closet trying to decide what to wear  for a day out and about running errands,  I thought about my encounter with my new friend in purple.  My closet is pretty much organized by color, so it only took a glance to see between the blue and the red (red and blue make purple) I had five purple sweaters ranging  from eggplant to lavender.   And in my usual obsessive way I began thinking about my favorite colors.

 I've always thought of myself as a "blue girl".  I have blue eyes and I've been told blue makes my eyes bluer.  I can't think of a better reason to really like blue, but other than blue jeans, one blue shirt and a couple of scarves I don't actually own a lot of blue clothing.  I  have a lot of aqua and turquoise, but not true blue.

barn red cabinets
With camera in hand I walked around looking for a color trend.  What I found was . . . .a lot red, some green, a sprinkling of yellow and just the perfect touch of orange...and did I say a lot of red?

I do love the color red, but I have never considered it my absolutely favorite color.  I do seem to be drawn to anything red.   Does that mean it is my favorite color?

 At the beginning of each school year,  I give each child a new box of crayons and ask them to take out their favorite color.  The boys will always pick blue and my girls will pick pink or purple.  I almost always have one child that will empty the box out in front of them looking a bit lost.  When I ask the child, "What is you favorite color?"  They almost always answer, "rainbow".

A child after my own heart!  Yes, I have a lot of red in my home and purple in my closet, but when pressed to select my favorite color, I want to empty out a full box of crayons. 

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Hints of Whats to Come

This morning while chatting with a dear friend, I mentioned how surprised I was to find my daffodils already peeking out of the ground.  She said hers were coming up as well.   We have had really cold nights, and up until yesterday, the sun has not been a frequent visitor.

This afternoon, while out with Willie, I thought I would check on other parts of the garden.  Here is what I found:

hellebores ready to burst open

Lilac buds

butterfly bush


plantation verbena

There is a lot of cleaning up to be done, but winter is not over.   Sometimes February is our coldest month.  I will leave the leaves and old plant matter to insulate against the cold.

It is hard to believe just a week and a half ago Willie and I were out taking pictures in this.

While I await the moment I can pull out the garden shears, shovel and hoe, I will be content to sit by the fire with a book  and enjoy the beauty and aroma of my meyer lemon wintering in my sun room,

with one last lemon.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Curiousor and Curiousor

This past Saturday Roger and I spent three lovely hours browsing the bookstore.  I roamed the aisles checking in on favorite authors and checking out new releases.  I walked around with several books in hand only to return them to their shelves later.  I ended up walking out with hard copies of "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn" (oh, don't get me started.....) and "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass".

I am not for sure why, but for several months I have been wanting to reread "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland".  I read it as a child and, of course, saw the Disney movie.  I think once you see the movie it is hard to remember the words of Lewis Carroll.

Last night, having just finished a book I really enjoyed, and knowing I had a book reserved at the library waiting to be picked up, I opened up "Alice's Adventures..." and started reading.   No matter how hard I tried, my mind kept wandering.  I looked at Willie curled up next to me...looked back at the book.   Okay, I'm a little embarrassed here; I started reading out loud.  I really think my sweet pup thought I had gone absolutely mad.  I think he even raised an eyebrow before grunting and going back to sleep.  I have to be honest, I totally became lost in Alice's world.  Reading it aloud was so much better than reading silently.  I only wish my children were old enough to sit and  listen to it. 

I finally got sleepy and could not  read further.  I turned out the light, and, as far as I can remember, fell sound asleep.  I woke up when I heard a loud bang, as if  something had fallen.  I was awake, but no matter how hard I tired, I couldn't open my eyes.  And, I was sleeping on back with my legs criss-crossed, just as I have my children sit in circle time.  Once I opened my eyes, I started smelling meat frying (I do not fry meat).  I still could not straighten my legs.  It was as if I was trying to untangle  rubberbands.  I was becoming a  little distressed.  Finally I was able to kick one leg out from underneath the covers and the other followed; I could stand.  I couldn't figure out what the frying smell was all about.  I convinced myself the loud bang was our morning newspaper being thrown against the front door, but, with my heart racing, I headed downstairs to check out the smell.  Feeling a bit shaky, I grabbed onto the banister and started tiptoeing  down the stairs.  Just as I reached the last step, my alarm started buzzing.

I opened my eyes, reached over and slapped the button down on my alarm clock, smelling nothing but the cotton sheet pulled over my head.  I have to admit I was feeling a bit off balance, but relieved to find myself curled up, laying on my side.

I think we will skip " Through the Looking- Glass" tonight.

This afternoon I spent some quiet time at the library.   Oh, what adventure shall I have tonight?

Friday, January 21, 2011

Be Nice to One Another

"There is no exercise better for the heart than reaching down and lifting people up."  --John Holmes

Each year one of the Weekly Readers in the January packet  will be related to Martin Luther King's birthday.  As the years have passed our little paper becomes less about the man and more about his ideas.  I always save this paper for the Friday after the MLK holiday.

This week I used Jan Brett's book The Mitten as the foundation for my curriculum.   The Mitten  is  about a little boy who wants his BaBa to knit his mittens from soft white wool.  She explains it would not be a good idea, because he will lose them in the snow.   Being a loving grandmother she gives in and knits his white mittens. Of course, it doesn't take long before he takes  them off and loses one.   This story is not about the little boy losing his mitten, but about what happens to the mitten.  One by one a parade of animals crawl, push and shove themselves into the  mitten along side the last.  When all is said and done there is a mole, a snowshoe rabbit, a hedgehog, an owl, a fox, a badger, a bear and a mouse inside the mitten.  The mouse, being the last to enter has to sit on the bear's nose.  The bear sneezes and sends all of the animals flying through the air back into the snow, and the mitten flying through the air.

This delightful tale is rich with teaching opportunities.  We practiced sequencing and worked on ordering by size.  We added some wonderful words to our vocabulary.   We even talked about how this author gives us a hint of what is going to happen next  on the next page with "foreshadowing".  Today, ending our unit of  The Mitten, we acted out the story.  At the very end the bear's sneeze blew us back to the table where our  Weekly Readers and crayons were waiting.

Today's Weekly Reader was about getting along with one another.  This to me, is the foundation for everything Martin Luther King taught.  As the children and I talked about Dr. King and his idea that we all needed to work together and be nice to one another, it occurred to me I had  to go back to The Mitten.

I held the book up one more time and ask the children to think about the animals that had pushed into the mitten.  There were eight very different animals.  They were different sizes.  They were different colors.   They smelled differently.  Stuffed inside a small white mitten were prickles, glinty teeth, diggers, big kickers, sharp talons, and "who wouldn't be  afraid of a bear".  They were different, but they worked together to stay warm.  I ask my children to help me to think of ways to help and get along with others.
  • you help them read
  • you share and care
  • you help them
  • you help them not to fight
  • you hug them
  • give them kisses (followed by a collective ...yuck)
  • you help them when in trouble
  • when they fall pick them up
Wow, what a wonderfully warm way to end a wet and cold school week.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

What is a memory?

"What matters in life is not what happens to you but what you remember and how you remember it".  Gabriel Garcia Marguez

One of my favorite children's books is "Wilfrid Gordon McDonald Partridge by Mem Fox.   Wilfrid Gordon is a little boy.  He lives near an "old folk's home" and is friends with many of the residents.  His favorite is Miss Nancy Alison Delacourt Cooper, because she has four names just as he does.  Hearing  his mom and dad talking about how sad it is that Miss Nancy has lost her memory, he sets out to help her find  it.   He visits the other residents of the home and asks the question, "What is a memory?"  Each person gives him an answer, "something long ago...something that makes you laugh...something warm". ... He then collects "things" to match the descriptions he was given.  He finds seashells from a trip to the beach a long time ago, a puppet that makes him laugh, a warm egg fresh from the nest.  As he shares his treasures with Miss Nancy, she shares a memory with him. 

I cannot read this story without getting misty eyed.  

What is a memory?

 I love listening to family and friends telling stories from their past.  My dad has a terrific memory and is a wonderful story teller.   I love telling stories.  I love that the way I remember something may not be the same as someone else who shares my story.  Who has it right?  

A memory is like a work of art.  Two people seldom view it the same way.  Everyone one has their own point of view.  I love it!  Just think of the wonderful stories to be told.

What is a memory?

A memory is something solid to hold on to.  Something that keeps you standing when you've had your feet kicked out from under you.

Dear friends,  

What is a memory?

Friday, January 14, 2011

So, What's Your Sign?

Have you heard a new astrological sign has been added to the zodiac,  changing the dates associated with the others?  As I understand it, the shifting of the earth has changed the alignment of the stars.  (I am sure there is a more "astrological" way to put it.)  I first became aware of the news while browsing facebook, checking up on the goings on of my friends.   I was surprised when the story actually showed up on my news feed and on the national news.

I haven't thought about the zodiac signs or horoscopes for years.  When I was a teenager, my key chain had a big plastic disk with a Capricorn on it.  Yes, I am a Capricorn.  I remember there was a picture of a mountain goat climbing a steep mountain ridge.  Those of us with birthdays between December 21 to some time in January (don't hold me to the 21st) have been described surefooted, confident, stoic, ambitious, always trying to reach the top.  In other words we are "born leaders" ready to take charge.  Hum!  I have never felt as if I matched up to those adjectives. 

The news of the changing zodiac forced me to do a little research.  I confess, I've thought so little about horoscopes, I couldn't tell you what comes before Capricorn.  I know Aquarius  follows.  I mean really,  what child in the 60's and early 70's didn't want to be an Aquarian.  You know, the whole "age of Aquarius" thing.   Well, after my research I found out it is Sagittarius.

Sagittarians  are optimistic, honest and knowledge seekers.  They are enjoyable to be around when in a joyful mood, "but can become more sullen if feel their wings have been clipped".  I am a "glass half full" kind of girl.  I strongly believe if you tell the truth you have nothing to forget; as I age I have less and less storage space for remembering.  I've mentioned before I could easily be a professional student (seriously, I researched blackeyed peas and astrology).   Oh yes, if I feel like I have been wronged... I pretty much shut down.

I almost forgot, Sagittarians  also enjoy being around horses (the archer is part horse).  In an earlier life, I was a barrel racer (surprised, huh?)  There might be something to this realignment thing.

I think I  am a Sagittarian.  If not, I should be!

Monday, January 10, 2011

Just Breathe

It started snowing around 2:30 yesterday afternoon.  The snowflakes were fat and wet.  It couldn't be described as a whiteout by any stretch; it was beautiful and I didn't want it to stop. 

I thought it would be interesting to take a picture of the same sky ( same general direction) as is posted in my last post, twenty four hours later.

Through the years I have been fortunate to live in and visit many regions of the United States where snow is the norm, not the exception.  The winter we lived in Marblehead, Mass. it snowed 15 inches every Friday in January.  I was always amazed that everyone just carried on with their lives.  I would watch, out a back window, as neighbors cross country skied down the streets and  school children headed to school pulling their sleds.  It all seemed so routine.  It didn't take long before Heather and I didn't let "a little snow" keep us inside.

I actually learned to drive (somewhat) in snow while living in Nashville.   We found Bear Valley,  where we all learned to ski, when living in Northern California.    Visiting Santa Fe is always a treat, and to have it snow -- magical.  And today, I am here with my 5 1/2 inches. 

Watching a small fragile snowflake drift from the clouds, through the trees and land perfectly intact will always amaze me and take my breath away. 

Saturday, January 8, 2011

A Southern Snow

This week the area meteorologists have been hinting that it is going to snow this weekend.  The first of the week they said there "might be a chance of winter precipitation".  Later in the week they actually used the word... "snow"... just as the temperatures started rising.  Yes, rising!

In this area we normally have at least one snow.  Sometimes it even sticks for a day or two.  Every few years or so we get a really good snow.  One that keeps us at home for a day or two, sometimes longer.  The anticipation brings out the child in all of us.

I don't know if the weather guys enjoy toying with our emotions, or if they are afraid of setting off a stampede at the grocery store.  You see, it snows so seldom in the south it is not fiscally responsible to have the equipment to clear streets, and we southerners are terrified of running out milk and bread.

Will it snow?  I  don't know.  I just checked the local weather blog; it says we should get around two inches tomorrow night.  I am ready!  I have three books waiting to be read and wool for knitting.

What can I say?  One woman's milk and bread is another woman's books and and wool.

By the way, no worries,  I also have a quart of milk and at least a half loaf of bread.

I'll keep you posted....

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

A Bite of Good Luck

Growing up the child of southern parents there were certain traditions that were followed without question.  One such tradition was the obligatory spoonful of black-eyed peas on January 1.

As a child, I cannot tell you how I dreaded those peas.  Our New Year's Day menu usually included pork chops, turnip greens, black-eyed peas, some kind of potato (only because that was about all I would eat) and cornbread.  My momma and daddy were not superstitious people, but no matter how much I protested I was told I had to eat at least a spoonful of peas for good luck.  Now I probably wouldn't have minded so much if I had been allowed to mash them into my potatoes (it didn't matter how potatoes were cooked, once in my plate, with the help of a little Parkay, they became mashed potatoes ).  No, New Year's black-eyed peas had to be virgin peas.  They could not be mixed with anything that was not included in the pot when cooked.

I did a little research and found the idea of eating black-eyed peas for good luck came about during the civil war.  It seems when Sherman's army raided and destroyed  southern pantries and crops, they overlooked  this simple pea. It became a nourishing staple in the southern diet, keeping many from starving.

Through the years I have grown to love black-eyed peas, greens and cornbread.  The oddest thing,  I seldom eat potatoes (and I'm not for sure Parkay still exist or if it should).  I am now the one encouraging everyone to eat their black-eyed peas for good luck.

Here is how I  serve up black-eyed peas on the first day of the year. (Not quite my momma's peas.)

Good Luck Pea Dip

Olive oil
1 to 2 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 of a medium onion, chopped
1/2 of a bell pepper, chopped
1 jalapeño , chopped
1 can of black- eyed peas, drained
1 small can diced chilies
Sharp cheddar cheese, grated

Sauté onion, bell pepper, jalapeño in olive oil until tender.  Add garlic and continue until all vegetables  are transparent.
Add drained black-eyed peas and chilies.  Stir in as much cheese as you like.  Cook until cheese is melted and everything is nicely combined.
Serve with tortilla chips ( I like the multi-grain chips)

Note:  I've used both canned and dried peas.  I don't think it makes a difference; I go with convenience

I know I am a little late; may 2011 be a great year for you, with or without the humble black-eyed pea.  

Happy New Year!

Monday, January 3, 2011

A Winter's Respite

This was our fifteenth year to spend the week after Christmas in Seaside, Florida.

I am frequently ask why we go to the beach in the winter.  I love the winter sea.   Her voice both calms and soothes my soul.   She is my elixir.

Enjoy my Seaside...

View from our tower

a perfect starfish
a beach friend

entries to the beach

a favorite spot to read
a nightly tradition of toasting

a perfect sunset
Until next year!