Downsizing

After more than three years of keeping up with two blogs, I feel it’s time to combine them. This blog was originated to help with our transition to Birmingham. I later tweaked it, still keeping the focus local when possible. I think it has run it’s usefulness, so over the next month I will attempt to combine them. This will include reposting some entries from this site to my other blog, Not In This Soup Alone. 

Thanks to all who read and encourage me!

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Pulses

“Childhood’s learning is made of moments. It isn’t steady. It’s a pulse.”

~ Eudora Welty, One Writer’s Beginnings

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I can remember random moments from childhood and now wonder, were they learning moments?

I remember when I was five being frightened of the man next door, the father of an older girl I played with, who pushed his wife down as she was ironing. She already had a cast on her leg. He knelt down to try to comfort me, to tell me it was okay. I knew not to trust him.

When my older brother and I got in trouble and were banished to our separate bedrooms, we got our little brother to be a messenger, passing notes between us. These notes consisted of stick figures doing silly things. I learned my brothers would be my friends for life, though not without a few rough patches.

Fast forward to fourth grade and the learning didn’t feel like a pulse. Long division felt like a long, slow drip-drip-drip in a bucket. A bucket with a hole in it; for just when I thought I was finished with a problem, I’d discover my numbers weren’t lined up properly and I would have to start all over again.

Many of my learning moments came through books. The horrors of the Holocaust came through the eyes and words of Anne Frank and Corrie Ten Boom; the horrors of child abuse from A Child Called It and Sybil. But before these books, there was Little Women, where I first got the idea that I’d like to write. I wanted to be Jo. That desire has waxed and waned over the years, as motherhood and making ends meet took precedence. I know many have been able to work, mother, and write concurrently, and I did to some extent, in pulses like my childhood learning.

But now the writing flame has been fanned and I need it more than ever. I don’t want it to go out.

Shopworn Words

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photo-Stuart Miles

In a book by Madeleine L’Engle, Walking on Water: Reflections on Faith and Art, she says this about language:

“If our vocabulary dwindles to a few shopworn words, we are setting ourselves up for takeover by a dictator.”

Now, at first glance that seems a little overboard. But, when you think about it she makes a great point. I know I am ashamed of my lack of vocabulary. I’ve tried, and failed, to incorporate some kind of self-help ritual to learn new words. But, I won’t give up; I’ll persevere in my efforts. I do not want to fall to a despot. I do not want my lack of good words to allow me to be usurped.

My facebook/twitter-pal and ex-Bhamian (is that a word? well, now it is), Mandy Shunnarah, posts a word a week such as words like youthquake and pablum. She is onto something.,

So, are you with us? Take up the vocabulary yoke!

Snow in the South

With weather on everyone’s mind, I thought I’d share this from E.B. White, a man who truly had a way with words. If you don’t know who he is, he’s the author of the children’s classic, Charlotte’s Web. When talking about the first flakes of snow falling, he said,

 

“At first it was an almost imperceptible spitting from the gray sky…”

I love the way he put it – such a perfect way to describe this scene. This is how I want to write.

 
I didn’t get any pictures yesterday, but here are some pictures from February, 2015, when we had that “…imperceptible spitting..”.

 

And, if you haven’t seen the Snow video, an Adele parody by Mary Morris from Tennessee, you’ve GOT to watch it!

 

Starting the Year With a Look Back

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I decided to give the look of this blog an uplift that features pictures I took this past year around town. It was really hard to pick out which ones to feature as Birmingham has so many picture-perfect spots.

I also thought about highlighting some blog posts, but they are all here to be found by clicking tags and such. Instead I thought I’d link up some articles I wrote for the Leaf that didn’t appear on the blog.

Four of the articles revolve around Riverchase Middle School since that is where I spend much of my time as a substitute teacher.

·         In September Dr. Tim Elmore visited RMS for a day, speaking to students, teachers, and parents.

·         Also in September, teacher Hannah Rodgers won the WAIT One Class at a Time Grant.

·         The fall brings football, and this year it brought a new tradition to Pelham High School. Players write appreciation letters to former teachers and the coach delivers a jersey to the teacher to be worn on game day.  

·         Students had a real treat when local author Lou Anders came to visit.

Also…

·         In August we traveled to Montana to see our daughter. Before we left, I made a thank-you package for a family that was giving us a place to stay while we were there. I had fun shopping for All Things B’ham.

·         I was able to see Big Fish in September, my first Red Mountain Theatre Company experience.

Looking forward to 2016, I hope to explore more of the Birmingham area, make more blog posts and continue to write for the Leaf.

Comfort Clothes

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My cousin Debbie wrote a lovely piece about her trusty brown sweater.  She says, “This is my someone’s at the door, throw over your gown, warm, feel good, soft, sleep in, coffee stained (you can’t see them, thankful brown) enduring, lasting, missing one button, never fail me sweater. I keep it because it is the one thing I can trust to give me that peace of mind and comfort I need.”

This brought to mind Old Red. Old Red was an old red wool coat that belonged to my mom. Long past its prime, it hung it the closet for years. On Saturday afternoons when Dad would kick back in his recliner in the den, with a golf game on TV, he would say, “Go bring me Old Red.” I, or whichever of my brothers was closest, would go it from the closet. Dad would proceed to cover up and fall asleep. But we wouldn’t dare try to change the channel. He would stir up and bellow, “I’m watching that.” I wonder whatever became of that coat; it would have come in handy here in Alabama.

Then there were my overalls. When I was in college at Georgia Southern, there was this great old fashioned hardware store in town where you could buy painters pants and overalls. In the mid-70s these were the fashion around campus. I wore my overalls a lot. A whole lot.  I have a picture of me in them a few years later at Clearwater Beach holding my firstborn son. I also remember that I had them on the day I rushed out of the house to take my neighbor and her son to the ER. I didn’t have time to change, just scooped up the baby and the diaper bag and flew out the door. Barefoot. I’m sure people were shaking their heads at me at the hospital, especially when I had to go into the restroom to unhook them in order to nurse my baby. Then, when I was pregnant with our second, I wore them through about my fifth month. I think I finally gave them up when they got too many holes in them.

My husband had a pair of comfort shorts. When he finally replaced them, we had a burial ceremony in the side yard. He put them in a  shoebox and dug a hole, and then we and the four kids all trooped out, very somber of course, while he said a few parting words over them. They had lived a good life and died with dignity.

I appreciate Debbie and her trusty brown sweater. Comforts clothes are akin to comfort foods. And to friends.  We need to keep them around.

I love how she ends her thoughts. Thank you, Debbie.

“People are constantly telling us we need to let go of the past and move forward. No, we don’t have to forget the past; it is a part of who we are, where we have been and where we are now. Holding on is what we call “memories” and what’s wrong with having those to fall back to?… It is the thread of life that connects us to each other and if I find it woven in a piece of clothing, I’ll hang on to it and I’ll continue to hang this sweater over me until it or I am no more.”

 

 

 

30 Things I love Right Now

This post was inspired by Javacia Harris Bowser. You can read her post HERE. I decided to alphabetize my list – it’s the teacher in me. 🙂 Since she had a song in hers, I’m including one I love, too – Rainy Night in Georgia sung by Boz Scaggs.

  1. Back porch mornings
  2. BFF Cathy – we have known each other for over 40 years
  3. Blogging
  4. BOGO school supplies
  5. Bulletproof Coffee
  6. Discovering B’ham
  7. Freshly painted bathrooms
  8. Hiking at Red Mountain
  9. Husband of 36 years
  10. Loretta, my black lab
  11. Making my own schedule
  12. Melatonin
  13. Microwaved pepperoni dipped in hummus (just ask me)
  14. Mom – my example and support
  15. My grandkids – I love both of them so much my heart aches
  16. My kids – four plus my DIL
  17. PackPoint app
  18. Pepper Place Market
  19. Photography
  20. Prepping for Montana
  21. Reading
  22. Rug from World Market
  23. Salami
  24. Spotify
  25. Steak from the backyard grill
  26. The soft wind
  27. Toss pillows
  28. Tweeting
  29. Writing letters
  30. Zumba videos

Out of the Mouth of Babes – A Journey

Photo by Tina Phillips. Photo by Tina Philips

This month Alabama Women Bloggers has challenged its members to write about their blogging journeys.

The first blog I ever started had the Out of the Mouth of Babes in my url.  It was a Blogger/Blogspot  blog that now I can’t figure out how to access. I’ve tried all kinds of things to no avail. I hope one day I can figure it out and get my content back. If anyone out there has any helpful hints, please let me know.  Persistence paid off – I’m in!!!

Anyway, I started that blog when I was still teaching fulltime, using funny stuff culled from my students and some of my own poetry and personal essays. Now I’m a substitute teacher and I still find lots of gems in the classroom. I have two current blogs – this one which is B’ham focused, and another, Not In This Soup Alone, which is more personal.

Being in the classroom, especially as a substitute teacher, can be a real source of entertainment. Such as when students have to write sentences using their vocabulary words. In the spring I had fun reading some of the sentences created for the words floundered, laden, and remote. Laugh along with me…

The remote school is in the middle of the road.

I picture a one-room schoolhouse plopped down in the middle of a road in the middle of nowhere.

The woman floundered after getting tazed.

I believe I would flounder a bit if I was tazed, wouldn’t you?

The camel was floundered.

I wonder if the camel was also tazed? I think perhaps he was laden down with something illegal and thus he was tazed and floundered.

This is a laden place.

This was a dark coffeehouse full of beatniks quoting heavy poetry.

I’m sure when school resumes in August I’ll have more to share, so stay tuned. 🙂

Speaking of staying tuned, please subscribe so you don’t miss any of my posts!

I Write One Page and Then Another

“When I face the desolate impossibility of writing five hundred pages a sick sense of failure falls on me and I know I can never do it. This happens every time. Then gradually I write one page and then another.”

John Steinbeck, Travels with Charley

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Yesterday I posted on facebook that I had completed my two hours at the Hoover Library. My brother commented by asking, “What did you do to warrant community service hours?” I replied that is was a voluntary incarceration.

Let me explain. I have found that by going to the library, and sitting myself down in the Quiet Study area, I can allow myself to focus on writing this book that has been in and out of the works for about five years. I am determined to get to the end. Then I’ll begin the editing and revision process, which I actually like to do. And I will finish it. Then I will move on to trying to get it published.

This is the summer to get ‘er done.