Smart Mart?

Be sure to visit Two Writing Teachers for more slices of life.

Be sure to visit Two Writing Teachers for more slices of life.

For four years I have been driving to Warsaw, Indiana to be with blogging friends and attend the All Write conference. Every year it is a challenge to get through Indianapolis and find my way to Warsaw in a timely manner. I don’t think I’ve ever been the same route twice. I have used a variety of methods to plot the route: GPS, phone/iPad apps, a paper map. There is no major interstate that will bring one to Warsaw. It is a series of roads that meander through the countryside. I always felt like I was missing something in the directions. Fortunately, I have had a navigator, Kim, beside me to help decipher cryptic signs.

After eating lunch in Indianapolis, I unfolded the map on the table, located Warsaw, and slid my finger over the roads to trace the route. I then listed the numbers of the roads needed to reach Warsaw. Sounds like a great plan, right?

It was working like a charm until there was a detour. We followed the detour, this time. Finally we were back on the right route following our list of numbers made at lunch. Another detour sign appeared, but this time we wondered if it really was meant for us. Time was ticking away. I decided to ask at the Smart Mart about this detour that said a bridge was out.

I walked into the shop, it was deadly quiet. I could not see a single body. I worked my way through the aisles heading to the counter with the cash register. A young man was crouched down, stocking the cigarette shelf.

I began my inquiry, “Hi, I’m trying to get to Warsaw, but I see this detour sign. If I stay on the road will I be able to get to Wabash?” As I am talking, I see confusion passing over this young man’s face. He doesn’t know where Warsaw is, he’s probably having a hard time comprehending my English. “Is there someone else around that I can talk to?”

He goes to the nearest doorway and mumbles something. Another young man, carry an iPad comes out. I launch into my inquiry once again. This time hopeful he will understand me. He does understand, but he has no knowledge of conditions of the road to Wabash.

His solution was to have me travel down the road and go south (Warsaw is north of where I am) to connect to two different roads. He comes from Fort Wayne once a week, so he’s never been to Wabash. His directions don’t make sense to me, because I would be going backwards in my journey. I thank him and leave to report to Kim, that Smart Mart isn’t too smart.

We continued on the road and did discover the closed bridge (only it wasn’t really a bridge, but more like an overpass). With the help of Kim’s phone we navigated that stretch and arrived in Warsaw in time.

Before leaving the conference, I enlisted the help of those who live there to tell me the route to take to get back to Indianapolis. I am happy to report that there were no missteps on the return trip (thank you to Mary Helen and Dianne). Now, all I have to do is find a safe place for those route numbers so I can use them again next year.

Celebration Week

celebrate new

Seven days . . . what can happen in seven days? It begins with a trip to the airport to welcome my friend, Kim, from California. Then . . .

  • we have a picnic dinner prior to enjoying a Tent Theater production of All Shook
    Here we are in the saloon at Silver Dollar City. Don't believe the poster behind us, or should you?

    Here we are in the saloon at Silver Dollar City. Don’t believe the poster behind us, or should you?

    Up.

  • we relax, chat, and shop for groceries.
  • we spend a day living in the 1800’s at Silver Dollar City.
  • we hang out at a pool, eat Frito Pie at Caspers (requested by Kim because of this post), sample popcorn, and begin our road trip to Warsaw, IN.

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    Caspers and Frito Pie

  • we study a map, plot a route, and begin the next 425 miles of our trip to Warsaw, with perhaps a few moments of “Are we on the right road?”
  • we meet up with the best people I am privileged to call friends. Friends is not even the best word for these people who have touched my heart. All year long, I anticipate the moment we are reunited. Then I relish every second I get to spend with with them.
  • we spent two days filling our minds with new ideas from incredible presenters at the All Write conference.
  • we met new friends in real life, not just through their written words. They were just as delightful in person, as we knew they would be.
  • sadly we were forced to say good-bye to all to begin the journey home, but we know that we will come back, and we will be welcomed with open arms.

Time speeds up when you are immersed in celebration and joy. What a gift friendship is.

Dinner Delight

As I walked into the room, first I noticed the Seymour Simon books stretching out on the table. Each cover so bright and enticing saying “Buy me!” Next I noticed my friends had selected a table for our dinner.

I left the books (only for a moment) to lay claim to a seat at the table with my friends. There were too many of us for one table so now we had two tables. I set my camera down and returned to browsing the books. Book selection completed, I returned to my table.

A lovely blonde woman was chatting with my table mates. She was a new face for me, but the others were deep into conversation. Must be someone from their school district I inferred. I looked over and mouthed to Deb, “Who is Mary Helen talking to?” Her response put a smile on my face and a light in my eye. I sat up a little straighter and paid more attention to the conversation. Truth be told, I was a bit star struck.

She discovered we all had blogs and wrote regularly. She said she had a blog, but didn’t really write on it, yet. She wasn’t quite sure what she’d do with it. She wanted all of our blog addresses. (Picture me going Oh my gosh!)

After the dinner and speaker, we were milling about. Our new friend exclaimed, “How lucky was I to get to sit at the best table in the room!” We were all thinking, how lucky were we that you chose to sit at our table!

I suppose you are wondering who this mystery woman was. The next day I attended several sessions she presented and had my picture taken with her.

Georgia Heard and me at the All-Write conference.

Georgia Heard and me at the All-Write conference.

Friend Celebration

What can you celebrate? Share your celebrations with the world at Ruth Ayres Writes.

What can you celebrate? Share your celebrations with the world at Ruth Ayres Writes.

Heading to the garage our steps are halted by the ring of our house phone. Do we answer it or just let the machine pick it up? We’ve been plagued by lots of dead air when we IMG_0841answer this phone. My husband picks it up. His voice changes from impersonal “hello” to warm “yes, I know who you are.”

It is the voice of a friend who moved to Iowa three years ago. She is in town visiting her children for the weekend. Plans were made to meet for lunch. So glad we stopped and answered the phone! It led to lots of conversation and camaraderie I’ve missed for three years. Friends are a treasure!

Friends from All Write 2014. Wonder who will join this group in 2015?

Friends from All Write 2014. Wonder who will join this group in 2015?

Which leads me to anticipating the friends I will greet at the All Write conference this year. The conference is great, but it is the people who I first met through their writing that makes this conference a highlight of the year. These are friends who I only see in person once a year, but I get tobe aware of the happenings of their life through their words. This is a connection I never dreamed possible three years ago.

Every day I celebrate those who have touched my life through our friendship. Thank you!

 

Maps or GPS?

I trusted Lola (my GPS system) to get Kim and me to the hotel in Warsaw. She had done a fine job the year before, so I had no reason to doubt her abilities this year. I should have known something was not quite right when I could not locate the place I stopped at for lunch last year. The landscape was familiar, but doesn’t one suburb area look much like another especially when you are not from the area? Finally, we gave up and stopped for lunch. I just knew it would be in the next shopping center down the road, but it wasn’t. We never saw the center from my memory. I should have known, she was leading me down a different path.

We did need to take a small detour because of an accident, but Lola recalculated and put us on a road to Warsaw. We arrived just in time to pick up our registration packets and meet up with friends. Once we were in Warsaw, I had a guide to help me navigate the streets, so Lola was put away.

Saturday was going to be a day of exploration. Kim and I planned on driving north into Amish territory to view garden quilts and devour treats not to be missed (according to the natives of the area). With general directions, we set off to find Das Dutchman Essenhaus for breakfast. No help from Lola was needed. It was after breakfast when we encountered our first quandary.

We were able to locate our first garden quilt in the yard behind the Essenhaus. Of course the grass was drenched in dew, so our shoes were soaked walking to view the garden (no path was available 😦 ).

Bowtie garden at Essenhaus

Bowtie garden at Essenhaus

Now on to the next location, but where were we exactly? This garden was in the middle of a triangle on our map and the roads on the map were not labeled. mapWe plunged ahead looking to find something labeled on the map to give us a reference point. After a stop in a small shop, we were able to locate our second garden.

Waterwheel at Krider Gardens

Waterwheel at Krider Gardens

While studying the garden and our map, a man drove up to take photos of bikers on the trail. We politely asked for help to determine where in the world were we? It was when we mentioned we were seeking the Rise ‘N Roll Bakery, he became friendlier. His eyes lit up knowingly at the treat we were searching for. With his directions, we were on our way to begin our foray into overdosing on sugar.

Cinnamon Caramel donut, their specialty.

Cinnamon Caramel donut, their specialty.

 

Rise ‘N Roll was a hopping place and many donuts were being consumed. If you are in the neighborhood, this is a treat not to miss. I also bought a quart of pickled baby beets. Yum!

Sugar high set in and we were off to find our next quilt. Now that we had a point of reference, we were good for the rest of the morning.

Dutchman's Puzzle at Menno-Hof

Dutchman’s Puzzle at Menno-Hof

Goldie's Basket at Farmstead Inn

Goldie’s Basket at Farmstead Inn

But it was time to start the trek back to Missouri, and long hours in the car were ahead of us. First, we needed lunch and the locals dictated we must go to the Blue Gate for pie. Once again the recommendation was spot on. I enjoyed the seasonal Key Lime, while Kim savored every bite of the German Chocolate pie.

Lola was called into action as we wanted to head for home. Her idea was go to Chicago, then down Illinois to Missouri. I was not so sure of that, so we began to retrace our steps going back to Warsaw. She was not happy and constantly wanted to guide us away from our route. Finally I unplugged her and we broke out the backup map. (In retrospect, I suppose I should have listened to her.)

Once we were back to Warsaw, we gave her another chance. Her route seemed odd. Kim took out her iPad and used the map app. It seemed a better route. We followed the iPad. As I drove, whisperings in my mind began to tickle my memory. This was the route from the previous year. There was the shopping area I had eaten at last year!

Lola, I wonder if you need to retire. My faith in you has been compromised. Kim warned me that you were not always thinking clearly. I think I will have to analyze your route and the app’s route next time I plan to go somewhere.

 

Glimpses

Today Kim left. It has been an action packed week of fun, fun, fun. On Saturday, I listed some highlights from each day. There were so many moments worthy of being a true slice, but I don’t have the time or energy to develop them properly. Some of the moments will live deep in my heart as memories to savor. Here are a few more glimpses into my past week.

My one little word this year has been sweet. I have found sweetness in being with friends and family. These people are especially important in difficult times. So it was particularly sweet for Kim to bring me a gift bag with some “sweets” inside.

sweet

The first stop on my tour of St. Louis for Kim was the botanical gardens. The Climatron had a special exhibit with Lego sculptures incorporated into the plants.

These strange critters were mostly made of Legos.

These strange critters were mostly made of Legos.

I took lots of picture of flowers and plants. Perhaps these photos may appear in another post, but here are a few to give you a glimpse into the gardens.

These gates had Chihuly glass. There were other places throughout the gardens with more of this glass.

These gates had Chihuly glass. There were other places throughout the gardens with more of this glass.

 

 

Elizabethan herb quilt garden.

Elizabethan herb quilt garden.

Not everything was plant based in the gardens. We spotted several geckos wandering about.

Not everything was plant based in the gardens. We spotted several geckos wandering about.

The Arch is a must do for any visitor to the city.

Kim snaps a picture of Cardinal stadium from the top of the Arch.

Kim snaps a picture of Cardinal stadium from the top of the Arch.

Dinner with Slicers and Tweeters and others was a wonderful way to cap off the day.

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Christy is all smiles.

 

 

 

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Tam and Ruth, wonder what they are focusing their attention on.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ruthRuth inspired and filled hearts with her opening message. I wish it had been filmed and saved on You Tube. It would be a video to view over and over.

My day was spent with Mary Helen, Tammy Shultz, Franki Sibberson, and ColbySharp. Each one nudged me to think in a new way.

After the entertaining dinner with Barry Lane, a group of us sat outside visiting. Eventually we had to move our talk inside, but it was fun to visit with new and old friends.group

Friday came too early, and once again my thinking was pushed by Martha Horn, Kristin Ziemke, and Kelly Gallagher. This evening had a perfect ending. Dinner at a delightful restaurant with very special friends.

Next week, I will share the adventures of map reading. Stay tuned.

 

 

 

 

Days of Celebration

Every moment this past week has been a celebration. It began as soon as Kim arrived Monday evening. We stayed up too late talking that night.

Tuesday was the whirlwind tour of St. Louis in the heat and humidity.

Wednesday began with a road trip to Warsaw, IN for the All Write conference.The dinner (arranged by Ruth, thank you Ruth) was a veritable who’s who in educational blogging.

We made it to Indiana!

We made it to Indiana!

Thursday began the conference with a special keynote address by Ruth. The message was full of heart. It was difficult to get up and head to other sessions because you just wanted to sit and savor her words. Another memorable dinner with Barry Lane entertaining with his message.

Friday was a day of learning with Martha Horn, Kristin Ziemke, and Kelly Gallagher. The conference ended, leaving minds spinning with new knowledge and inspiration. But the best part of the day was having one final dinner with a group of friends. It was bittersweet, because we knew our time for talk was coming to an end. These ladies are very special in my life, so I savor every moment we get to spend together.

Dinner with friends

Dinner with friends

Today begins the road trip back home, but Kim and I will continue to celebrate all the sights and flavors along the way.

I hope you had a celebration filled week too.

 

Anticipation!

It was May 2012, I was in southern California, and I knew a new blogger from the March challenge was somewhere near. I thought about contacting her. I had her email because she had commented on my blog. Do I reach out or do I return home wondering what would have happened if I contacted her? The first week went by, I did not contact her.

During the second week, I clicked send and an email was sent into cyberspace. My heart thumped in my chest when I saw a response in my inbox. Did she want to meet? Yes! She did want to meet me!

We met for lunch, but it wasn’t long enough. We talked for several hours, but still it wasn’t enough. However, it had to do for that first meeting.

The next year we met again. This time we spent the day together. Still it wasn’t enough time.

Then I hatched a plan for her to come back to the Midwest and we could have a road trip to the All Write conference. That might give us enough time together. 🙂

Monday was a waiting game. Waiting for Kim (from Learning Tour Writing Stop) to arrive. She wasn’t due to land until 8:40 p.m., but her flight was early. I was still ten minutes away from the airport when she called to tell me she was here. That was great because we have so much to do. It was a late night of talking, but today our adventure begins.

If you are reading this in the morning, we are on our way to St. Louis for a quick tour. If you are reading this later in the day, we may be on our way to the top of the Arch. Or we could be at the Botanical Gardens. But if you are reading this after dinner, we have eaten an Italian meal on The Hill (click here for info).

Wednesday morning we will head for Warsaw. The next two days will fly by with lots of learning and meeting friends from the slicing world. Before we start back to Missouri we hope to visit the Amish area north of Warsaw. Rumor has it there are garden quilts to view.

The next few days will be fun, fun, fun!

 

 

Mail and Email to Celebrate

A quote on Linda Baie’s blog, Teacher Dance, really spoke to me today. “There are exactly as many celebration in life as we choose to celebrate.” Robert Brault. I think Ruth understands this and lives this daily. She allows us to live it too. Thank you Ruth, celebrations are joyful.

This week email had me doing a happy dance. The first came from my office. It announced that I will have the opportunity to learn from Laura Robb for two days this summer. Ten of us will be working with her from her book, Unlocking Complex Text (which comes out June 2) and another book related to vocabulary that won’t be out in time for our meeting. The publisher is sending us galley proofs to use during the training, then we will get it when it is published. How cool is that?

The other email was from Kim, of Learning Tour Writing Stop. She has made reservations to fly into Springfield so we can have a road trip to Warsaw, Indiana for the All Write conference. She will then get to spend a few days hanging out with me after the conference before flying back to California. I don’t want to wish my life away, but I can’t wait until she comes and we get to hang out/learn in Indiana.

Then the snail mail brought me two packages this week. Through the March Slice of Life writing challenge, I won a book of my choice from both Stenhouse and Heinemann. This week they both arrived. I now have several professional books to read during this summer.

Life is sweet*, but reflecting on the celebrations each week just brings it home.

*my one little word for this year

All Right! All Write!

Last year I jumped into the pool of the All Write conference. It was better than I’d ever hoped. The sessions were great, but that wasn’t the real reason I wanted to go.

I’d been sitting on the sidelines dangling my feet into the water by reading the posts of those who attended, in years past. I thought, someday I want to go. So many slicers are there, I love meeting the person behind the words.

At first I’d discussed with my husband that perhaps we could go and then travel on to bike the trails of Michigan. That sounded okay to him, until I started talking about all the people I’d get to meet. He knew that I’d be torn, spending time with him vs. slicers. The decision was made, no biking (we’ll do that another time), go and be with the slicers.

I dived right into that water, even though it meant, 587 miles by myself in the car. I checked out a few audio books, had some music ready, and snacks to munch. The GPS guided me every mile. In no time I was in Warsaw and meeting the people who write the words I love to read.

It was the best of times and one I wanted to repeat this year. Several weeks ago I got an email from the conference saying registration was open. Could I? Should I? Would I? Absolutely! I’m ready to dive back into the water and splash about.

Sunday, I called and made my reservations at the hotel. Quickly followed by the on-line registration, and writing the check to put in the mail. Only one thing left to do, convince another slicer that she wants to go too.

I sent my email outlining possible travel plans. I got a response back saying I’ll think about it. Soon my email announced:  *****News Flash!***** I’m in, who do I make the check out to? Woohoo! My email begging her to come east worked. I am not spending time alone in the car this year. Kim of the Learning Tour Writing Stop will be joining me.

For the last two years we have met up in California, this year we will meet up in the midwest. I am so excited to have her coming with me!

Have you thought about attending? If not, what’s stopping you? Come on join the fun! Here’s a link to the flyer that you can download. Let’s make this a year to remember!