Where Is It?

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Pushing the door to exit Kohls, I step into the sunshine and confusion. “Where did I park my car?

My eyes scanned the rows, looking for some familiar shape. My mind rewinding my arrival to the parking lot. I turned around and looked back at the door I’d just left. Yes, that was the door I entered, which verified I was in the correct area of the parking lot.

The only thing left to do was wander up and down the rows of cars while clicking my key fob, listening for the beep, beep of the car doors unlocking and the flashing of the tail lights. Trying not to look like I lost my car (which I clearly had), I walked with a determined step. At one point, I knew I was too far away from the door, so I crossed over to another row. Clicking, listening, looking for some sign of my car. No luck!

Just when I began to panic (thinking my car was stolen), I remembered I did not drive my usual car. I had taken our other car because my husband was using my usual car to haul away tree clippings. Relief flooded my body! Of course there would be no beep from pressing my key fob.

Now I needed to scan the parking lot for a different car profile.  One quick look did not reveal the car. This car is keyless, so I had to dig deep into my purse for the fob for this car. Once again, I trudged up and down the rows of cars clicking, listening, looking. Once again, panic begins to snake its way throughout my body.

Faintly, I hear a beep respond to my click. One row over, tail lights flash as I try it again. Yes, there it is! Now I remember, I scored a great parking place, the second car in the row, just a few steps away from the door, too bad I didn’t remember that as I left the store fifteen minutes ago.

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Duty?

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Five weeks ago, the official envelope arrived. My husband laughed as he handed me that envelope. “Your turn!” he  said with glee. It was a summons for jury duty. 

My heart dropped. When? Christmas plans didn’t include a visit to the courthouse. Quickly I scanned the summons for the date. Date and time to report : January 8 @8:30. Relief, I didn’t have to alter my travel plans for Christmas. A quick check of my calendar showed I was free until the 12th. No need to ask for a postponement. Now all I have to do is remember to call the day before my report date and don’t lose this paper (I need to bring it with when I report).

January 7, I call to find out if I am needed or excused. (Not going to lie, I was hoping for excused.) The message announced, “All juror numbers 1-400, you will not be needed, you are excused.” My juror number was 572. I continued to listen to the message, “Jurors 401-600, you will report Tuesday, January 9 at 8:30. Call this number after 5:00 on Monday to confirm your status.” Disappointed, I hung up wondering if I was going to have to do this all week long. At least I didn’t have to go on Monday.

On Monday, I continued preparing for my work on Friday. My husband suggested I call at noon to see if the message was posted. I did. “Jurors 401-600, your service is cancelled, thank you.” My heart skipped a beat and a smile erupted on my face. I returned to planning my work day with new vigor.

Someday, I will be called and gladly go to complete my civic duty, but today I’m glad I didn’t have to go. 

 

 

 

 

Pruning Time

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It’s been two years since we’ve seen them. They came with all their equipment. They stood below, studying  the intricate structure of the maples. They had been given orders: remove crossing/rubbing limbs and excessive sprouts, subordinate prune co-dominant leads for better structure, reduce longer limbs for weight and vase structure.  Those words meant nothing to me, but they had a vision of what needed to be done.

Nimbly, they climbed into the trees. Cautiously they snapped safety ties, just in case. Higher and higher each man scaled the tree. As I watched the dance in the trees, I couldn’t help but think of the lyrics,

“He’d fly through the air with the greatest of ease,

That daring young man on the flying trapeze.”

 

 

Once they had reached their highest point, small limbs began to rain down to the yard. The thicker branches hit the ground with a “thud.” A man on the ground raced to collect the discarded branches. A machine hungrily devoured limb after limb, each one became a pile of mulch. Sawdust shimmered in the light below as the chainsaw buzzed like an angry wasp. It didn’t take long to prune the two red maples.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The last bit of pruning was my peach tree. I had been warned it needed to be reduced by half. Yes the limbs were too high for us to reach the peaches. Yes, the peaches were too heavy for the branches. Yes, the peach tree is fighting for sunlight with the arborvitae trees beside it. But . . .  it was still a shock to see how much had to be pruned.

Before

After

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Even though I knew it had to be done, it was sad to see it happen. I will be surprised if we have any peaches next summer.

Hopefully, all this pruning will extend the life of our trees for many more years.

Every December

Every December

My kitchen fills with sweet scents

of sandbakkel* cookies.

(*pronounced like sun buckle)

Reindeer prance across

the lid of my box of tins,

tiny, fluted tins.

 

 

Butter softening,

Tins sorted into three lines

To rotate baking.

 

 

 

Old Mix Master from

Grandmother begins mixing.

First, softened butter.

 

 

Sugar is added.

Flour addition thickens dough,

use muscles to stir.

 

 

 

Thumbs push and press dough.

Bake until golden brown, cool.

Will cookies crumble?

 

 

Unfortunately,

Some cookies shatter when pressed.

Who will eat those? Me!

 

 

Sandbakkels to share,

Sandbakkels to enjoy with

my morning coffee.

 

 

Every December,

these Norwegian cookies keep

traditions alive.

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Starting Again

slice 2014

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“Why aren’t you writing?” Ruth Ayres asked me in a quiet voice a couple of weeks ago. Thoughts (or should I say excuses) tumbled around in my head. What could I say that would make sense, because I don’t know what happened to my writing life. My last post was June 13. How did this happen?

January 11, 2011 was the date of my first, but tentative step into writing and allowing the world to read my thoughts. Week after week, I pressed that publish button and held my breath. Would anyone be there to read and comment? Someone did read and they left the most wonderful comments. The weekly sharing of lives developed friendships around the world. Weeks changed into months of writing. Months added up to become years of writing about those small moments or noticings of life happening.

Then one day I didn’t write. The next week there were no words published. Week after week passed. Something always seemed to come up on Tuesday, which gave me the excuse not to post.

Friends from near and far reached out. “Are you okay?” “What’s going on?” “You are not writing.” I assured them, there was no problem. I just fell out of the habit. I said I would be back, I just didn’t know when.

Ruth also asked another question, “Do you miss writing?”

It took me a minute to answer her. This question went to my heart. “No, I don’t miss the writing. But what I do miss is the community of writers.”

I know I don’t have to tell you, dear reader, writing is hard. It is hard to always be present and aware, looking for that moment to bring to life with words. I’ve taken a break, but now I know I need to get back to writing.

Thank you to those who inquired and nudged me back to sharing my words.

 

A Writer

This simple, unassuming black leather notebook belongs to a writer. A writer who creates lyrical language in picture books. A writer who shares writers’ thoughts through professional books. A writer who pens a tale that keeps the reader entranced, whether it be fiction, autobiographical, or memoir. This writer’s notebook is a place to react to the world. It is a tool for living and writing.

Are you wondering who this might be? Before I reveal this writer, I will share a few snippets of my learning from this person last week.

  • What is non-negotiable in writing for this person? It does not matter the age of the student. These are critical elements to developing a writer.
  1. Time: a writer is someone who writes a lot, students must have that time.
  2. Choice: choice leads to voice.
  3. Response: Lucy Calkins said, “Children need readers, not correcters.” Respond to what the student is trying to say. Appreciate the intelligence behind the error.
  4. Environment: a safe environment that allows students to take a risk with their writing.
  • Teachers need to help students find a process for writing, not the process. All elements of the writing process are evident, but it may look different for each person.
  • This author spent time discussing the difference between boy writers and girl writers. Yes, boys do want to write about blood, fights, guts, and gore. As teachers of writers we need to figure out a way to allow boys that freedom of topic. Boys tend to write for each other, girls are more likely to be writing for the teacher. Another statement was made that had me doing more thinking. Girls tend to draw nouns, boys draw verbs. That is something I want to investigate more as I look at student work.

Those are a few of my take-aways after spending two days with this author. Have you figured out who this person is? Here he is signing a book.

 

This is from the inside cover of his writer’s notebook. Wouldn’t you just love to linger in the pages of this notebook?

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E-Bike Tryout

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It was a sunshine filled Saturday afternoon, it seemed like a perfect chance to check out the e-bike demonstration from our favorite bike shop.

We drove out into the countryside to a mountain bike park. I didn’t have any intention of riding. I like flat paved surface to ride on. None of that was evident at this park. However, I couldn’t resist the urge to see what an electric bike would be like.

I got my bearings on the bike by riding around the gravel parking lot. Oh, this is fun when the electric motor kicks in! I’m ready to try the trail. I thought I was ready to try the trail.

Immediately, I am to climb a steep hill. No problem, I will let the motor take over and I will help by pedaling a little. Wait! The ground is rutted and rocky. Rather quickly I come to a dead stop midway to the top. There is no way I can pedal uphill. The motor did not keep me going. I began to walk up the hill with the bike. That’s when the heat and humidity hit me.

I blinked to send the black spots before my eyes away. My head felt like it was caught in a spinning whirlpool. I couldn’t press on. I laid the bike down and collapsed next to it, trying to catch my breath. Slowly I sat up to let my vision clear.

Once my breathing returned to normal, I began the climb to the top of the hill where I could wait in the shade for my husband. I had sent him on down the path, promising I wouldn’t move. When he returned, I s-l-o-w-l-y made my way down the hillside avoiding the ruts and rocks as best I could.

This experience only confirmed my belief: mountain biking is NOT for me! I loved the e-bike, but they are a bit pricey right now. Hopefully, they will come down in price as I get older and have more need for an electric assist.

This was taken moments before my issue. The scenery is beautiful. Can you see the rocks? This makes it look like the road was smooth, it wasn’t. There are gullies in the road.