If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Happy Easter!

Saturday, April 19, 2014

A Piece of Southern History

When I was a classroom teacher, I learned that one way to get students to recognize that they each have stories to tell and that each of them is a writer is to give them some freedom and give them a model and give them some boundaries.  Then, turn them loose.  I always tried to write with them.  This would give me a model to share and provide the opportunity to learn how to ask for feedback and suggestions from their peers.  The following poem is one way I would nudge these young adolescents toward realizing their stories needed to be shared and they have an innate ability to write.  Calling it free verse poetry kind of opened some doors and it also helped me to teach them to show, not tell with their writing.  They were challenged to describe, providing details...to paint a picture with words.  With this particular assignment, I would ask students to write descriptions of themselves.  It helped me to learn about them and it was a magnificent way to get students to feel successful and proud to publish and post their work for others to read.  After I shared an example about myself that I crafted when I was drafting the lesson plan, I would generally choose somebody else I knew well to describe as I wrote alongside them.  Then, I would model how to seek feedback and suggestions by projecting my efforts and asking my students for suggestions and feedback.  I would point out a place where I was struggling for just the right word.  I would ask for feedback to see if something needed to be revised for clarity or brevity.  I would seek editorial guidance.  Then, my students could turn to one another and ask similar questions.  It helped them to see what sort of suggestions writers needed and helped them to feel knowledgeable enough to offer ideas.  I always pointed out that when seeking creative feedback, they still owned their piece and didn't have to apply the suggestions.  It was always their choice there.  Yet, it was important to consider and apply suggestions when the conventions of our language were in question - to look at punctuation or spelling corrections offered by their peers with a critical eye.  My writing alongside them about somebody else also offered them an idea for crafting a poem like this as a gift to somebody when a purchased gift might not be possible.  In this particular poem, I described my Granny.  I called it Living Southern History at that time but in honor of her passing, I'm changing the title to:
A Piece of Southern History
Tea Parties in the living room when nobody else was around;
curling up next to the fire place with a book that was once read by my Mama; 
frolicking through the fields like Anne and her friends at Green Gables;
rolling into a ball near her when the wicked witch and that scary wizard were after Dorothy; 
tromping through the plowed fields and picking up arrow heads;
pulling weeds and transplanting flowers from a shady bed to a place with full sun

The sweet fragrance of blossoms nodding in the breeze; 
fresh turned soil crumbling through my fingers as we planted the tender little plants
that would later fill our pantry and table;
smoke tickling at my nose while it lulls the bees into calm so we can gather their honey; 
fresh vegetables bubbling on the stove; 
light, fluffy, golden biscuits rising in the oven while we scrub flour off the cabinet’s red rim

Golden shafts of wheat nodding in the bottom of the bowl
after we’ve licked the last syrupy sweetness of a maple banana sundae;
cool, creamy ‘coffee’ which makes me feel grown up;
buttery layers of golden bread started at our fingertips as dough on that red-rimmed cabinet; 
crispy bacon topping tender tomatoes freshly picked from the garden;
chocolates selected from a large Whitman’s Sampler box

Screams coming from me when I thought I saw an 'alligator' scrambling across the floor; 
Listening to stories of her past for hours on end;
hearing about where she lived as a child growing up;
learning about her life with "Maahh-vin" and raising her children; 
that deep southern drawl that is unmistakable to my ears

Smiles at me just because I came to visit;
short, nubby fingernails at the end of work-worn hands
a turned up nose that has been transmitted through three generations;
salt and peppered curls encircling her smooth skin like an angel’s halo;
a soft, sage-green, fully, gathered, shirt-waist ‘airplane’ dress;
twinkling blue eyes above deep dimpled cheeks

A strong, intelligent, friendly, admirable role model for me

My Granny

Lily Esther Walker Pratt

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Memories are to Pass Along

My Granny passed on today.  In her honor, I am sharing this piece that I wrote a while back about a memory she created for me and one I hope to share with my grandchildren:

The Living Room was a place for Company only… well, sometimes family - if it was a holiday when we dressed in our Sunday Best.  Our shoes, faces, and behavior were shiny and we donned our ruffled socks and dresses.  Somehow this room demanded that we sit up straight and wear our manners proudly.  There would be no romping and running here like in other rooms of the house!  The entire herd of us would gather there before we hunted eggs, sliced the turkey, or ripped open special gifts.  Dads laced up with neckties and Moms with bouffant hair and pinched toes.  The rest of the time it was closed and quiet, waiting for the Women’s Society group to gather.
Yet, I remember personal tea parties there with silver spoons and a real teapot. Granny and I baked tea cakes.  These buttery golden rounds sparkled with diamonds of sugar when we stacked them on the gold-rimmed plate.  Lemons sliced, tea brewed, and perched atop the hand-made doily alongside two dessert plates on the shiny tray.  A cut-glass vase with some simple blooms was carefully placed on the tray and we majestically entered The Living Room. Granny was like a regal, ornate carriage carrying precious cargo and I pranced like a little foal along behind her. 
We were royal queens for what seemed like an hour or two.  Ham and cheese sandwiches, shaped like flowers and stars by a cookie cutter, never had been tastier.  The tinkle of our stirring and clink of the cup against the saucer were music to my ears.  We chatted and balanced on the edge of our seats, nibbling our cookies and sipping our tea.  Only the finest was fitting for my Granny and me. 
Then, after a while, Granny slipped out the door back to the realities of laundry, lunch for the farmhands, or sweeping the floors.  I was left to linger in The Living Room alone to sip more tea and pretend of grand thrones.  I toyed with the spines of the books tucked there on the shelves and curled up with a good one whose corners were frayed with wear from the fingers of my mother and aunts long ago.  Anne of Green Gables and I became bosom friends for hours on those afternoons and I followed her through Anne of the Island, and Anne of Sunnybrook Farm as well. 
Left to enjoy all her finery, I’m sure Granny knew I fingered each fragile piece and carefully returned it to its designated spot before getting acquainted with some new bauble or trinket.  Finally I would hear my name being called.  It would be time to wash dishes or fold clothes or chop garden weeds.  I would stand at the door with one final glance to burn the memory of my privileged party deep into my brain.  Then, I would close the door slowly and skip off to find Granny. 

I remember these tea parties as if only a week had passed.  My gangly, sun-browned limbs bouncing along beside Granny’s sturdy work-bronzed ones probably extended extra hours to her days.  Yet, she patiently guided me and shared her softest moments.  I think I inherited her green thumb, her baking skills, and eye for things beautiful.  I wonder if personal tea parties with my own granddaughters will be recalled years from now as majestic and regal privileges shared with their Grand B?

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Thinking About Babies

Almost everybody in our immediate family has their minds on babies.

These two found out last week they are having a baby sister in August...
Lillie and Lydia with the photos of baby Luci

These two are planning toward the summer and the arrival of their little boy...

This crew has been thinking about the baby they have who just turned six-months-old...

And this little lady came home from church yesterday and rocked her baby to sleep...

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Grand B Time

Last weekend I trekked off for a little Grand B time.  I got to spend a couple of nights with my favorite grandson.

We had loads of fun while his mom and dad cut some limbs off the back yard trees and stacked branches onto a burn pile.

We had more fun while his mom and dad scrubbed all the vehicles to get the grime that had been building for ages off.

We mixed up a little more fun while mom and dad measured the height from the lowest branch of one of those back yard trees.

Then, I headed off south for home...
...but SOMEBODY got a new swing!

Hey Mikey!  I think he likes it!

Monday, April 7, 2014

Clean-Up Crews

The grass is greening up and the wind is blowing in some rains.

It is also blowing some limbs down.

This clean-up crew got creative with their collecting...

They had quite a collection piled into the back of their vehicle and some were so long that the driver and passenger were required to hold on to the ones draping overhead.

Another clean-up crew in our family made a big pile of their collection and set them afire.  All that was left was a little pile of ashes.

Last night a storm blew through again...

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Three Little Monkeys

The day after I went Day Tripping to spend some time with my favorite grandson, two of the granddaughters (their mother was chauffeur) went to visit and had a sleep-over with sweet little Harris.  I think a good time was had by all from the reports I got from both families.

Lillie and Lydia's mother must have been taught by a wonderful mother.  The first thing they had to do is go shopping for a gift to give the host.  So, they combined the gift shopping with a grocery run.  (Again, somebody must have taught their mother well!)  They found the perfect thing.
Cah-hun Candy!
 Doesn't the label say it all?  FUN sweets!  Of course, the little Cotton-Candy-Lover thought is was the perfect gift but big sister thought it was a good choice because "there is a chick on it."  Who knows why that made it have the seal of approval but I'm sure First-graders have high standards for approval.  The best part of the deal is that Lydia got a treat as well...
Doesn't the look on that cute little face say it all?

Off they trekked on a hard two-plus-hour-drive to visit their little cousin.  They arrived at nap-time and Harris's mom said he had the same amazed look when he awoke to find them at his house that he'd shared with us the day I popped in at nap-time.

I'm sure they did all the fun things they had on their agenda - plans were to teach him one bad trick like sputtering his tongue or something and to play, play, play with Harris.  Of course, against better judgement, Harris's parents did let him have a taste of his FUN sweet and... he liked it!

Lydia, thinking she is such a big girl in comparison had to hold Harris.  As you can see, maybe she isn't quite as big as she first believed she is...
Isn't that a lap full?

They had a day outing to the park and I understand that everybody enjoyed the warm, sunny Friday to the fullest.

There was time for a photo op that they shared with Grand B.  I just love the pose that the girls made to compensate for Harris's shorter-than-them stature.
Isn't it cute that they scootched down to be as short as him?

I just love these three little monkeys and I'm glad they have chances to get together even though geography is a bit of an issue at times.
Good Times!