Draft Dodger

In going back through my post folder this weekend, I found several drafts of entries that I began and then never went back to.  Why not?  Various reasons:  I might have wanted to think through the topic more, or I might have just lost interest in the subject.  In most of the cases, I like(d) what I had written…and in every case, I’d do some tweaking to polish the prose!

Here’s a look at some partial [very] rough drafts:

From fall of 2012:

You’ve seen prettier beaches. So have I. Beaches with clear blue water, shining white sand. Beaches with exotic names and in exotic places. But I will always list Seal Beach in California as one of my favorite places to be.

From early 2013:

The sun-bright day glows around me, the January cold somehow sharpened by the intense light.  There is no warmth in it, but still it cheers me.  The sunshine holds a promise of warm weather to come, of green grass and growing things, of movement and newness, change and activity.

Spring, then summer.


From spring of 2013:

I just dropped Meg off at the high school for choir practice, and it occurs to me I’ve been dropping kids off at those same LTHS front steps for eleven years now…eleven years.  The building façade has changed some, and interior a lot…but the memories are somehow very similar.   Three kids, three sets of high school experiences, of high school dramas, of high school growing pains and of high school coming-of-age stories.

Somehow my children are twenty-five, twenty-two, and sixteen.  How did that happen?  My adult son, Eric, has graduated from college and lives in a house across town.  Sometimes we meet for lunch or dinner, and I marvel at the person seated across the table from me:  the deep voice, the three day growth of beard, the muscled arms.  Some days, it’s just new to me all over again that the teenager has grown into a man.

Last Sunday, my husband and I took Eric and Jorge to breakfast and then afterwards we all went to Town Lake, and I laughed as Eric named the many varieties of trees growing there and his plans for the trees he and Jorge would be planting at their place…laughed because when Eric was a kid, he would have talked nonstop about what dinosaurs might have lived on the banks of the river and which trees each dinosaur would have liked to eat best.  I could see the same enthusiasm and passion in his face at twenty-five as I saw in him at age five, only the topics have changed with the passing of the years.

Karen is in her junior year of college in Georgia…Georgia!  How did that happen?  She’s our artist and our comedian; this house still laughs while she’s away at school, but when she’s home it positively roars.  Karen is our only kid to have earned a true nickname:  Dee Dee.

from spring of 2014:

Megan spent hours of her day making Tardis birthday hats for her March 22 party. Each one is a fez made of cardboard, painted blue, with “Police Box” in white letters and other styling on it. The hats look great, and they’re comfortable, too! I tried one out and wore it for an hour while I graded papers. Yup, we’re all a little nuts here. Happy, silly nuts.

All the while, as she crafted each hat, Meg had Dr. Who playing on her laptop at the kitchen table. That’s my girl. Age 18, and as rabid a fan as you’ll ever find when it comes to her shows. Her bedroom walls are hung with Star Trek, Harry Potter, Dr. Who, and Supernatural. She’s been to conventions and she’s bought memorabilia. She’s purchased photo-ops with the stars and waited in line for autographs. Megan is a fan girl, in every sense of the word.

And secretly, I am too. She must have got it from me. I love make believe and pretend. I love…

Any one of these could become a post sometime in the future.  It’s always a good idea to save old drafts–you never know when you might want to come back to a subject.  An essay I started developing on the Texas Pledge of Allegiance about five years ago eventually became a post in another blog I write.  I’m so glad I saved my work on it all these years.

Look through your own draft folder every now and then and see what you can find!


A Trip to Four Winds

This weekend I escaped to a place I know well, a place I have been many times before:  Four Winds Harbor, Nova Scotia.

I went there with Anne Shirley, now Anne Shirley Blythe, as she set out from her childhood home to begin her new married life. From my hammock, my couch, and my easy chair, I joined Anne in conversation with two old friends, Captain Jim and Miss Cornelia, and smiled at their humorous exchanges.  I met again Leslie Moore and felt my young girl’s fascination with her tragic beauty and the painful life she led.  I was introduced again to Owen Ford,  and I felt the pain of his heartbreak–until the author set all aright at the end of the book.  I remembered the tears that came when I first read of Little Joyce, and I saw myself as a girl, sobbing over her death.  Oh, how I cried when I first experienced that grief, forty years ago!

Why do I return to my Anne books over and over again?  They are among a handful of childhood favorites I keep close, as digital downloads on my phone and Nook as well as hard copies in my book case.  When I need to rest–really, really rest–I turn to my old favorites and they never disappoint.  Knowing what will happen, knowing if not the exact words then the cadence and feel of the prose to come in each chapter, at each turn of plot, makes the reading a connection to the past and therefore a true escape. And yes, I do know whole passages by heart–but I still thrill at the re-reading of them.

There are movie and television versions of these treasures from my youth (The Secret Garden, Watership Down, The Crystal Cave, Anne of Green Gables, Little Women and so many more) but I don’t watch them.  Too much is wrong:  wrong houses, wrong faces, wrong words!  Nothing can be as right as the images I’ve carried in my head all these years of the people and places that have meant so much to me.

I love my old classics and the good people in them.  Through their influence, I have become in part the person I am today.  The characters of my childhood books have been role models to me, and I am not ashamed to say I turn to them still for example and comfort.

This weekend, a visit to Four Winds Point and the House of Dreams was just what my spirit needed.

Thank you, Lucy Maud Montgomery, for the wonderful gift of Anne.

Note:  In the above photo is my collection of Anne books I purchased in the 1970’s with money I saved from babysitting and my allowance.
They have been read many times in the decades since…can you tell?

Star Trek Birthday Party

“Mom, time to come downstairs!” Karen called.  She and my son Eric, my husband Steve, my parents and my cousin Shelly were waiting for me.  Megan hadn’t been able to get off work, so she’d be joining us later.

I’d been asked to stay in the study while final preparations were made for my birthday party.  I’d known something special had been in the works for over a week, but I was still surprised when the sight met my eyes:  our living room had been transformed into the bridge of the starship Enterprise !

I was soooooo amazed!  There were the helm and navigation stations…the blinking panels for communications and science…the main view screen on our television…and all in incredible detail thanks to the painting talents of Steve, Karen and Meg.  There were even some tribbles on one of the consoles!

But that’s not all.  My family was dressed in costume:  Karen had bought red, gold, and blue t-shirts and painted them with the insignia and brocade of Star Trek uniforms.  My costume?  Command gold!  Karen presented me with the shirt and gave me some minutes to change.  What to wear with it?  My black cropped pants and some black boots, of course!

And there’s more–Karen had written a Star Trek skit!  We were each given a script to read, and a fun production followed.  I don’t think any starship crew has ever laughed so much in the face of danger 🙂  The first scene took place on the bridge, but then Captain Tracy ordered a landing party to beam to the planet’s surface.  We found ourselves outside in an environment strangely like that of Earth.  Soon, Chief Engineer Eric’s secret treachery was revealed:  he had sabotaged the ship and our entire mission.  He was immune to phaser fire, so the only way to undo his terrible deed?  Defeat him and his team in a game of Star Trek trivia!

I am proud to say that I and my team won, hands down.  Thanks to my leadership, we got every question right–and also knew the answers to all of the other team’s questions 🙂  The mission was saved, and I and my first officer posed for a victory shot:

How proud I was to be the victorious captain of a starship!  After all, it had been twenty-seven years since I had become a Starfleet science officer, on Halloween of 1987:

1987 trek

and even longer since I’d first encountered the captain who was my inspiration.  The Star Trek fangirl in me couldn’t have been more thrilled with Sunday’s surprise.

What a party!  What a family!

Live long and prosper, y’all.

How to Crochet a Grit Stitch

One of my favorite things to do is crochet. I learned how from my grandmother, who taught me the basic stitches when I was in college. I can’t say I’m an expert at it, but I have learned a lot since making my first granny square all those years ago.

Each summer, I try to learn new stitches and designs. While I do know how to read a printed crochet pattern, it really helps to see video tutorials when I’m going to try a stitch or project that is new to me.  YouTube is the perfect teacher! I can watch a demonstration of what I read, then try the moves myself.

Here’s a stitch I plan to use for my next scarf:

What color yarn should I choose for my scarf?

Maybe I’ll make a holiday design–something for Christmas!


attendance and seating charts
lesson plans and websites
xeroxes and uploads
PLC and conference periods
emails and faculty meetings
pledges and assemblies

composition books and binders
pencils and pens
novels and short stories
nonfiction and poetry
essays and blog posts

questions and answers
goals and achievements

thoughts and feelings

community and parents
personalities and people
teachers and kids


And the Thunder Rolls

What to do with a stormy afternoon like this?

An afternoon that is growling at me, pelting at me, trying to get at me through window panes and rooftop?

And all this sound and fury on the heels of a morning that was just…wrong…in so many small ways that it felt awful in one big, all-encompassing way.  Like I could do nothing right, maybe even be nothing right. Pressure from without, pressure from within.

Fortunately, I have the wisdom of my years to talk sense to that inner voice that still doubts, still worries, still pronounces judgment.  Get some perspective, my wise self says to my foolish self.  This too shall pass.  It always does.

You’re good, I say.  It’s all good.  Ain’t nobody stressing over this stuff but you.  Ain’t nobody even thinking about some of this stuff but you.  Classroom needs, Twitter issues, curriculum questions, inservice demands, pressing life crises?  Just gotta breathe.  Then breathe more deeply.  Think. Write. Rest. Move through the day, meeting each challenge as needed — or, in some cases, not.  Some challenges do not need to be met YET, not by myself.  I have a great team to work with, and we’ll all be together soon at school.

Yes, perspective.  Take Susan’s call…how’d her visit with the oncologist go today? Remember my own bout with cancer five years back, and count my blessings.  This time last year, I was facing a traumatic surgery and two months of treatment.  Didn’t even meet my students until October due to complications and setbacks.

Yep.  Gotta stop sweating the small stuff.

The work I’m trying to do will all come together, and come together beautifully.  Better to explore new learning and struggle with growing pains than to not grow at all.

You’ll make it happen, I tell myself. 

Just slow down, and breathe.


Texas Fight!


Texas fans, we are 22 days from kickoff.

Are you ready for some football?!

We’ve got a new season, a new coach, and a new spirit here in Austin. Charlie Strong has brought change to the 40 acres, and by all reports it’s the kind of change I’ve been wanting to see for awhile.  Toughness? Passion? Accountability? Something’s been missing, and it’s encouraging to see that the new coaching staff agrees.  An arrogance started growing after 2005, and it seemed to infect more than just the players.  Mack Brown, we’re grateful for all you did, but it was time–past time–for you to go.

In the morning my husband and I will head to Memorial Stadium to watch the open practice at 9:30, followed by Fan Appreciation Day at noon. We’ll stop by the Co-Op, too, for some new burnt orange gear. We’ll make the walk across campus and back, relishing the feel of the place as we look at the buildings we used to have classes in, the lawns we used to sit down and study on, and libraries Steve used to sleep at (those couches were pretty comfy).  The University of Texas is in our hearts and in our blood, and we need to pay her a visit.  Time to commune with our past and catch a glimpse of the future.

Football season can’t come soon enough…tomorrow’s little taste of what’s ahead will have to hold us for now.