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Nesting Notions

Updated: 2018-01-11T11:41:49.955-06:00


2015 Reading List


Where She Went (G. Foreman)*The Silver Star (J. Walls)Margot (J. Cantor)The Kitchen House (K. Grissom)The Invention of Wings (S. Monk Kidd)We Were Liars (E. Lockhart)*Wild (C. Strayed)Lies You Wanted to Hear (J.W. Thomson)Still Alice (L. Genova)Tell the Wolves I'm Home (C.R. Brunt)Number the Stars (L. Lowry)*Out of the Easy (R. Sepetys)*All the Truth That's In Me (J. Berry)*In the Shadow of Blackbirds (C. Winters)*The Husband's Secret (L. Moriarty)The Girl You Left Behind (J. Moyes)The Girl on the Train (P. Hawkins)All the Light We Cannot See (A. Doerr)The Winter People (J. McMahon)Me, Earl & the Dying Girl (J. Andrews)*Big Little Lies (L. Moriarty)Fig (S.E. Schanz)The Outsiders (S. E. Hinton)*Weightless (S. Bannan)The Minnow (D. Sweeney)*The Revelation of Louisa May (M. MacColl)*The best books I read last year are highlighted; my favorite, by far, was All the Light We Cannot See, which was set in Saint-Malo, one of the places I visited on my trip last summer. Runners-up are Tell the Wolves I'm Home and Fig (I really love the cover on that one, too.).  The ones with a * are YA/Gateway books I read to be in the loop at school.“The burning moves toward my back, into my shoulder blades. And this is where my wings would attach if only I could fly away.” “There are dark black buttons tattooed on my heart. I’ll carry them for the rest of my days.” “Open your eyes and see what you can with them before they close forever.” [...]

Outta here


Tomorrow is the last day of school (it's been a good year for me--my eleventh!--and my classroom is packed, grades are posted, and I'm just tapping my foot for that final bell) then it's summer...And it's going to be an exciting one. Macauley and I are going on a trip to Europe with a small group from Kickapoo (all girls!) and we leave in just 11 days!  We've been shopping and reading and making lists and pinching ourselves.  I've been to Europe once, back in 2001, before I knew I would have a son.  What a lucky boy he will be to have seen some of the most iconic and beautiful sites this world has to offer before he even reaches 7th grade.  

We're also thinking of doing a family road trip just the three of us when we get back, maybe to FRASER, Colorado via Denver and Jackson Hole, Wyoming.  So instead of making my usual mental to-do list filled with all the things I want to accomplish while I'm HOME for the summer, I'm approaching this break with the idea that I'll probably get nothing done task-wise but I'll see and DO so much. Life-wise. 

The sweetest


Julian Jasper Cowan17 April 1922-25 January 2015On my 27th birthday, which was several years ago now I have to say, I helped my grandpa move out of the house he had lived in for over 42 years.  Many of you probably know this warm and cozy house on Cherokee with the barber shop out front.  When my sisters and I were growing up, Grandpa Cowan’s house was a place of curiosities.  There was buttermilk in the fridge, masses of rubber bands on little nails hung at varying heights, chickens in a coop in the backyard, a bed in the guest room with a set of box springs so bouncy and unpredictable we nicknamed it the Bronco Bed.  Sometimes there would be a little bowl of food or milk on the back porch for neighborhood cats that he never claimed as his own but looked out for.  When the barber shop was in full swing, Grandpa kept a stash of Big Red gum in one of the drawers behind his chair and there was cold pop in an old-fashioned cooler in the narrow closet off the waiting area.  Back in the house, photographs of our family, some in frames, some taped or tacked up here and there, lined most available surfaces, from the top of the television to the front glass of the huge clock that always hung above it, all the way over to my grandpa’s old desk next to the wood stove. It was an overwhelming task to sort through and pack up 42 years of my grandpa’s history but we made a lot of progress that day, enough that he could sleep in his brand new house across town that night.  As I was packing one of the bookshelves in the living room, I came across this little wooden shoe.  It had been on that shelf for as long as I could remember and I said something to my grandpa about it.  He told me to take it home with me and keep it.  He said when I was a little girl I would put it on and clomp around his house.  There are pencil marks scrawled across the bottom of it, too, which I must have been responsible for.  He remembered me, he knew me, when my feet were tiny enough to fit into that shoe.  He knew me before I knew myself.  I felt lucky, and I put the shoe with my things and it’s been with me ever since, reminding me of my grandpa and a life so well-lived.He brought the shoe home from Europe when he returned from the war.  My sweet and soft-spoken grandfather was once a young, brave soldier.  A medic.  I teach English at a large high school in Springfield, Missouri.  Every year, I ask my seniors to create a tribute to a hero in their lives using photos and music and text.  And every year I am so proud to show my students the tribute I created as an example about my Grandpa Jude.  There is a picture of him as a teenager that I’ve surrounded with images reflecting his background working on farms, one of him looking like a young Elvis Presley next to an image of a guitar and music notes.  There’s even one of my sweet grandpa standing in my living room in Springfield next to my dad and me and my little boy from a few summers ago, four generations of us.  There’s a picture of his Bronze Star and one of a medic’s helmet. My favorite photo, though, is front and center. He’s in his Army uniform standing in front of a building in Paris.  I can only imagine the horrors he must have gone through on those battlefields so far away from home, but despite that, despite having seen some of the worst this life has to offer, he remained, throughout his life, gentle and kind.  I never heard him speak a callous word about anyone or anything, and I love to tell my students about him.  His kind nature must have shone through even then, to his fellow soldiers, who nicknamed him Mother Cowan because he was the one who would turn the meager food they could scrounge up into some kind of meal when they were on foot and taking shelter wherever they could.  I don’t think I’ll ever be as brave or even as good as he was, but I like to think some of my quiet and[...]

So long, old girl


Our Allie cat left us early this morning.  She was 18 and a half years old.  Ryan pulled a batch of kittens out from under my parents' deck in Cassville the first summer we were dating in 1996.  We had just gotten back from a vacation in Minnesota with my parents, sisters, Nanny and Papaw.  A few weeks later we went back for the little girl who looked like a Russian blue and brought her to Springfield to live in Ryan's college apartment on Campbell. She was always his kitty, but she loved me too.  When she was a kitten, she'd sit on Ryan's shoulder while he played on the computer.  She'd lick his plate clean then sit down in the middle of it.  She'd gotten so small in her old age, but at one time this spoiled kitty weighed in at 18 pounds, earning Ryan and me quite a scolding from the vet.  

It's hard to imagine our life--hard to imagine us--without this funny kitty...she'd been with Ryan and me all but three months of our entire relationship.  She moved with us seven times, went through most all of our adventures, milestones, ups and downs with us.  I think most people understand what it's like to lose a dog--they're so friendly and interactive and rely on their packs so much.  Sometimes cats seem less likely to get attached, to be attached to.  But for us, it's been really hard to let this girl go.  She went when she was ready though, and seemed to go peacefully while I held her last night in our bed and tried to sleep.

We buried her in Ryan's parents' backyard this morning. Macauley covered the soft patch of dirt with leaves  and we came back to a house that feels different now.  We know she lived a long, happy life and always felt safe and full and like she was truly one of us. We loved her so much, and we will miss her funny/grouchy chatter around the house, her cuddly nature here at the end, the way she'd pop out of the cat door as soon as the garage door went up to welcome Macauley and me home from school then roll around in the sunshine on the warm driveway.  She'd been by our sides for so long...

Alice "Allie" Cooper
17 August 1996-14 December 2014

The books of summer 2014



The One and Only by Emily Giffin
Every Day by David Levithian
Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald by Therese Anne Fowler
Sisterland by Curtis Sittenfeld
Just One Day by Gayle Forman
Just One Year by Gayle Forman
Breaking Beautiful by Jennifer Shaw Wolf
One Hundred Summers by Beatriz Williams
The Imposter Bride by Nancy Richler
In the Blood by Lisa Unger
Orphan Train by Christina Baker Cline
It's Kind of a Funny Story by Ned Vizzini
Where We Belong by Emily Giffin

I was able to read quite a few books during my summer hiatus from school, only a few of which, highlighted above, I really liked.  I'm working on Amy Tan's The Valley of Amazement right now, and then I'll read Somerset by Leila Meacham, a prequel to her Roses, which I read a few years ago.  On my want-to-read list are Sue Monk Kidd's The Invention of Wings, Paris: The Novel by Edward Rutherford, Reconstructing Amelia by Kimberly McCreight, We Were Liars by E. Lockhart, and Lisa See's China Dolls.



We are settled back into the routine of school (summer passed by in a blink without me ever getting back into a blogging groove) and starting the day before 6...Ryan turns the TV on when I get up and we listen to the local news and then the Today show most mornings as we race around in the early morning darkness putting together outfits and packing lunches and preparing to go our separate ways when it's home together we'd all like to be...Sometimes the headlines are more than I can stomach any time of the day, much less first thing when I wake up.  The world goes crazy--both far from us and just a three hour drive up the interstate--but still we get up, get dressed, head out into our little part of it and try to focus on the good to be done, the good to take in.

Then yesterday in my classroom I flip through the copy of Alice Walker's The Color Purple I've had since college--it's my favorite book of all time and I've read it over and over--and see my unfocused feelings spelled out in black and white:

"Then Shug and me go fall out in her room to listen to music till all that food have a chance to settle.  It cool and dark in her room.  Her bed soft and nice.  Us lay with our arms round each other.  Sometimes Shug read the paper out loud.  The news always sound crazy.  People fussing and fighting and pointing fingers at other people, and never even looking for no peace.

"People insane, say Shug.  Crazy as betsy bugs.  Nothing built this crazy can last.  Listen, she say.  Here they building a dam so they can flood out a Indian tribe that been there since time.  And look at this, they making a picture bout that man that kilt all them women.  The same man that play the killer is playing the priest.  And look at these shoes they making now, she say.  Try to walk a mile in a pair of them, she say.  You be limping all the way home.  And you see what they trying to do with that man that beat the Chinese couple to death. Nothing whatsoever.

"Yeah, I say, but some things pleasant."

Z is for Zelda (Zelda is for me)


                        I finished a really great book last night.  Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald by Therese Anne Fowler reminded me of the spirit or intent of The Paris Wife in that it told a fictionalized first-person version of Zelda Sayre Fitzgerald's life based on deep and meticulous historical research (Fowler included her own rewriting of many of the couple's letters, which I liked) similar to the way TPW told one for Hadley Hemingway.  I am 100% Team Zelda after reading the novel and felt sad to have reached the last page late last night. She had style and talent--as a writer, a dancer, a conversationalist--with a once fiery marriage that ended up draining her and an adventurous, decadent lifestyle that took its toll.  The book transported me to a time (and many places--Paris, NYC, among others) I have always been interested in and I enjoyed it very much, especially Chapter 39:"Beyond our royal lawn, the river flows past, broad and brown and silent, unconcerned with the little party gathered at its bank this afternoon, the twenty-first of May.  It's 1927, but it could be a hundred years earlier or a thousand or three; the river doesn't know or care.  It doesn't care, either, about the dramas playing out among the people at this picnic, or about the one taking place in the sky far to the northeast, where Charles Lindberg is attempting to cross the Atlantic Ocean to Paris with a single engine in a single flight."If the river has a soul, it's a peaceful one.  If it has a lesson to impart, that lesson is patience.  There will be drought, it says; there will be floods; the ice will form, the ice will melt; the water will flow and blend into the river's brackish mouth, then join the ocean between Lewes and Cape May, endlessly, forever, amen..."My dress for this picnic is as brown as the river.  As much as I'm succeeding in imitating the river's appearance, I haven't been able to assimilate its wisdom--and won't, not until years later..."The sight of one of the maids standing on the porch and waving a dish towel gets our attention.  'It was on the radio!' she calls.  'Mr. Lindberg just landed his plane in Paris!'"We foolishly look up at the sky past the treetops, as if we can see the plane, see it descending lower, lower, then disappearing from our sight.  It is the end of an astonishing journey, I think.  All done now, nothing more to see."[...]

Farewell, sweet girl


We said a sad but peaceful goodbye to an old friend this weekend.  Our timid little Averie, the blonde kitty Ryan and I had for over 17 years, left us early Sunday morning.  She had been acting different on Friday and then retreated to the master bathroom and stayed very still for the entire day on Saturday.  She was always too skittish to be held, but when I got in bed Saturday night, I cradled her in a towel and laid her on my chest.  She was limp but breathing softly.  I dozed off but was awake when I felt her take a final soft gasp about 2 a.m.  We buried her Sunday morning in Ryan's parents' backyard in Bolivar with our little kitty Emma Jean and a host of Ryan's beloved childhood pets. The house feels different today without her in her usual spot on the floor at the end of the couch in the living room.  Ryan and I sat on the bathroom floor this weekend and cried, not only for her loss, but also in the nostaglic remembering of all the events of almost our entire relationship big and small she's been around for.  He adopted her from a cage at PetSmart and gave her to me for Christmas in 1997, when we were living in our townhouse on Guinevere, and she has moved with us to five other houses since. She and our gray girl Allie had been constant companions for almost two decades.  I hope she felt loved until the end.  Goodbye, little Ave.



(image) It's been a ridiculously long time since I have blogged, but I'm hoping to change that once school is out for the summer on 28 May.  I'd have an awful lot of backtracking to do if I tried to cover all that we've been up to, but I have to tell myself it's okay to let some of it go and just jump back in.  We were afraid that spring had skipped us entirely when we transitioned so quickly into 80+ degree temps, but this week it's gray and colder and I kind of hope the rain sticks around.  The yard is green and I put some plants out in my containers (nicotania in the flower boxes on the back patio) this past weekend and mulched the front beds.  I've got a mental list of clean up/clean out/redo projects to start checking off once my days are free and I've been thinking about what I want to read.  We might do a cruise this summer, just the three of us, and my sisters and I plan to take a girls trip to Lindsay's new condo in Marco Island, Florida in July.  Macauley is taking a break from swim team this summer, and I have to say I am relieved without that obligation hanging over us, especially because he was getting burned out and I hate to think I've ruined him on the one thing he really, really enjoys.  He's been funneling much of his energy lately into trying to learn Swedish via an app on his ipod in hopes of one day being a foreign exchange student there.  My mind has been full these last few weeks with all sorts of responsibilities and loose ends and finishing up at school.  I've been enjoying my work there this semester (last semester, not as much) but I, of course, am ready to come up for breath this summer and leave it all behind.  9 and 2/3 days until then...

{s}no school


We've already gotten the call that there is no school tomorrow due to the 6-8 inches of snow that fell last night and this morning, as well as the low temps and negative windchill in Monday's forecast.  So we are nestled in here at 5380 South Woodfield.  I got the Christmas decor put away before our holiday break was over and the house feels a little plain without it.  I've been doing the quintessential organizing and cleaning out that comes with this time of year and have a few projects on deck.  Ryan is really sick, so I made chocolate chip cookies for him even though he might not have the appetite for them.  I'll have to wake him up in a bit for the 49ers playoff game, so I've got a fire going in the living room and Booker is warming up the couch for him.  The snow has stopped, I think--at least for a couple of days--but I don't see us leaving the cozy confines of home any time soon.[...]

celebrate {good times}


My sisters and I hosted a birthday party for my parents last Saturday at their house in Cassville.  My dad turned 60 on 30 October and my mom's 60th birthday is 28 December.  We figured 60 was a milestone worth celebrating, and a good reason to have an event for friends and family at their new-ish farm.  The weather was beautiful, the yard picturesque, and the turnout was great.  My sisters were in charge of the food and I did the decor and setup on the back patio.  I used mostly things I already had--flea market crates, the pumpkins and mums from my front portch--to accentuate the fall decor my mom already had in place.  We had a firepit in the driveway for everyone to gather their chairs around.  It was nice to see lots of old friends from Cassville, but I was especially glad to have some of our family from Oklahoma there:  my aunt Debbie and her husband Jerry (and her cute little dog, Chip!), my cousin's adorable little girl Gray, my dad's sister Cathey and my uncle Rick, and most of all, my sweet 92-year-old Grandpa Jude.  I squeezed him often and much while I had a chance.  Quite a treat to see him and so nice for him to be happy and getting around okay and enjoying himself. I took lots of pictures and also had guests write little messages, all of which I hope to package in a small scrapbook memento for my parents.  An all-around lovely day!I'm linking up to Debra's Common Ground..Hi Debra![...]

we will miss you, Pop...


We lost Ryan's grandfather week before last.  He was kind, generous and funny, a business success, a flirt and an animal lover.  Most of all, he was a huge part of Ryan's life.  We were just talking last night about how many of his personality traits, interests and abilities he inherited from Pop.  There's a lot more to say, but for now I wanted to post links to this tribute from an old friend of Charles and this detailed write up from the front page of the Bolivar town newspaper, as well as the link to his obituary and online guestbook. Ryan's parents have been receiving letter after letter these last couple of weeks from people they never knew who Charles helped over the years. I can't wait to look through them myself.  He left a legacy and that makes his passing at the age of 94 a little easier, but it's just so hard to say goodbye...I personally can't thank him enough for some very generous things he's done for me over the years and also for helping to raise such a good boy for me to marry...RIP, Charlie by Dave BerryMany throughout the region will have stories to tell about Charles Fraser, who died last Tuesday at age 94. There would be even more if he hadn’t outlived so many friends and associates.Among the stories is the one about how several months ago he was given only a few weeks to live, but until just days before his death he could still be seen mowing his lawn despite near blindness and other maladies that would have idled the common man.And the one about his many treks back and forth to Parkview Residential Care Center, crossing a busy highway to care for his friend Elizabeth Teters over the last few years of her life.I developed an instant liking for Charlie the moment I met him in 1977. As a banker and youth baseball coach he reminded me of another banking Charlie who had done his best to coach me in Aurora Little League. As it turned out, they were close friends and golfing buddies over many years.And I grew even fonder of banker Fraser in 1978 when he loaned us $25,000 to buy what was then the Bolivar Bowl, sporting six lanes in what is now a warehouse for Roweton Home Center, alongside N. Springfield Ave.The wife and I would go back later to borrow more to buy used pinsetters to replace leased units that AMF was trying to force us to buy at an outrageous price. What AMF was saying was worth a fortune went straight to Yeargain Salvage for scrap after I happily told them to come and get them, because a friendly banker agreed they were trying to take unfair advantage of us.In both cases, Charlie had absolutely no reason to have confidence I would have the means or wherewithal to repay those loans, other than what he saw in my eyes or felt in my handshake. And, for that matter, neither did I.To this day I don’t know for certain if Commerce Bank issued those loans to us or if the bank just serviced what Charlie put up out of his own pocket. I would later find out he and other country bankers were prone to do the latter on occasion, something technically prohibited even then but out of the question in today’s regulated banking world.But truth be known, the loans probably had more to do with the other signature on those documents — my wife’s, whose smile and legs he appreciated. He was a safe flirt all the way to the end.Either way, the loans were repaid in full and we gained a gold mine’s worth of experience that is paying dividends still today.There are countless stories like that out there involving people who were helped by Charles Fraser in some fashion. Some probably didn’t end with full repayment of the loans or mutual appreciation for the acts, but there are valuable lessons in that, too.Of course, I’ll also never forget him because of his donation of the land [...]

Our summer trip to Chicago...


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I couldn't quite convince Macauley to commit to the banana he tried on at Target last week for his Halloween costume this year...We've been so busy that figuring out what to go as hasn't been on the radar, but Macauley did mention to me the other day that this might be the last year he dresses up for Halloween...Boo(hoo).Jenn, Casey, Tonya, Andrea, Tina, Misty, Kara, Heather, MeWhat's bananas is that I've known several of the girls in this photo for almost 30 years, all of them for at least 20...I met up with some of my friends from Cassville for a long overdue girls night at the Branson Landing last weekend.  We got a big suite at the Hilton, had dinner and stayed up way, way too late catching up on years and years of happenings--some of us hadn't seen one another since graduation in 1994 or since our ten year reunion.  We were missing a couple of key components of the old gang, but there's just something about the comfort of knowing you don't have to impress or prove anything to these old friends.    It feels like we have had plans or obligations more nights than not, both weekends and school nights.  The above photo is one of 30+ we collected over the last week (and had developed today) for Macauley's extra credit math project entitled "Shapes in the Real World."  We counted the wet floor sign as a pyramid, though it may only pass for a triangle.  The poster is glued, labeled and packed in a trash bag for transport to school tomorrow (in case it rains as forecasted).  He has struggled with fifth grade math thus far, and we could sure use all the points we can get. On Tuesday nights and Saturday mornings, we drive to Drury for Mac to practice swimming.  He's been on burnout lately, and Ryan and I have been fretting that we've made him despise the one physical activity he's always loved.  But once he's in the pool, he swims hard and seems happy and I think it's good for him.  Plus we get to see our sweet little friend Ella.  Adorable. As of tomorrow, the school year is officially 1/4 completed.  I've been on a bit of burnout myself where school is concerned, but just like with Mac's swimming, I keep showing up.  And once I'm there each day I swim hard and seem happy.  We've got a workday with no students on Wednesday, and then it's a downhill slope to the weekend.  I'll be seeing Keith Urban and Little Big Town in concert on Sunday with Amy.  For now, though, I should be in bed.  6 am will be here in a blink.  [...]

goodbye, funny pug


Our hearts are breaking tonight for my sister Lindsay who had to say goodbye to her sweet Meena today.  After 13 good years, her little pug body was giving out.  We feel like we've lost a member of our family and we are so sad for my sister.  But, as you have to do in times like these, we are trying to hold on to the memories and the thought that Meena had the very best life a dog could have.  She was such a funny little pug and spent a lot of time at our house over the years.  We will miss her very much.  We love you, Linds...Hang in there.

Meena Tate
9 February 2000-8 October 2013
aka our...
Meenie Beens
Meenie Beenie Been Dip
Meena Pug

come again


Dream Marks on My Pillow by Ana LancuLast night before bed, I stepped out onto the front porch while Booker T. raced with a predatory growl towards the woods behind our house.  I waited for him to return, a triumphant skip in his step telling me all was safe and sound thanks to him, and from there on the front steps I noticed there was no moon out, or at least not one I could see.  A few stars dotted the sky but the yard was darker than usual and my big black dog crept back up beside me almost camouflaged.I had been thinking of her off and on all day--my sweet Nanny who left us in June--and another round of loss swept through me moonlight only made me miss her more. I scratched Booker's ears and cried, soft so that no one would hear, as if anyone was listening at that time of night.I'll never be a little girl again.I'll never see her shrug her shoulders the way she always did.I'll never see her handwriting on aletter in my mailbox.I'll never see her listening with interestto my little boy's chatter the way she always delighted in whatever I had to say.I'll never see her again.Ryan let Macauley sleep with us--a real treat on a school night--and with puffy eyes I slipped into the tiny sliver of our king size bed left for me, my son's now long legs tucked in close to mine and my big black dog in a ball at my feet, my husband miles of blankets and pillows away. Our room was dark and warm and I read only a few pages of my book before I floated into sleep.And then, she was there...standing on my front walk, reaching out to me with a piece of paper in her hand.  He was there, too, a few feet behind her and to the side in dark blue jeans and the striped shirt he had on in their only picture with Macauley when he was a baby.  I grabbed her and squeezed her and cried for her to stay.  She just stood there and let me, still holding the paper.I blinked and turned to see the numbers on the clock pushing me to start another day. I stared at the ceiling, making myself remember seeing her, knowing how dreams come and go if you don't commit them to long-term so many days I spent with her or spent not with her...they just slip away.I could have cried in the car this evening when I told Ryan on the way to dinner. He said maybe it was a sign but he didn't say of what.  If I cry for her again tonight, will she be there on my front steps when I close my eyes?the heart breaks and breaksand lives by breakingIt is necessary to gothrough dark and deeper darkand not to turn~Stanley Kunitz"The Testing Tree"[...]



Today is Allie's golden birthday:  She's turning 17 on the 17th.  This picture is from a from a few years back, at our old house.  She's looking a little rougher these days.  Ryan and I have been together for 17 years, and this old girl has been around for all but about three months of our relationship.  Can't imagine our lives without her...

Summer 2013 Reading List



A short list this time:

Divergent (Veronica Roth)
All These Things I've Done (Gabrielle Zevin)
Shine (Lauren Myracle)
Delirium (Lauren Oliver)
The Legacy (Katherine Webb)
Between Shades of Gray (Ruta Sepetys)
Insurgent (Veronica Roth)

I don't know if I should blame Pinterest or what, but I didn't read as much this summer as I usually do.  All of the books except The Legacy are ones I read for school...I enjoyed Divergent and Insurgent (hailed as the next Hunger Games) and look forward to reading the final installment in the trilogy when it comes out in October.  Between Shades of Gray was probably the best book I read this summer--I had no idea that a number of educated families were taken by train from their homes in Lithuania to work in labor camps in Siberia prior to Hitler's invasion of that country.  I'm back at work now and students begin on Wednesday.  Once I get acclimated to the early mornings and mental and physical exhaustion of the first couple of weeks, I hope to get back to some good books...

ready {but not}


Macauley will be going to a different school for 5th and 6th grade.  I think it's the only intermediate school in town.  We were able to get all but two items on the school supply list on Sunday night and he has orientation on Monday, 12 August.  He'll get a locker with a combination to learn and be put on one of three teams.  He'll have four different teachers for the main subjects, plus music, art and PE.  He got a new lunchbox and has been excited about different lunch possibilities since he saw the "student" microwave in the cafeteria on a visit last spring.  He's going to miss sweet Wanda Gray Elementary--I think we all will--but he seems game for this new adventure.

wedding card keepsake book {for my middle sis}


 I can check a couple of things off that end-of-summer to-do list I mentioned:  Macauley and I cleaned out his closet and his room in preparation for redecorating, which we plan to do next week after a trip to IKEA in Dallas for a new bed frame, mattress and some accessories.  And, I managed to make a book out of Lindsay's wedding cards (she had a lot!) using her favorite color purple, some of the ribbons from her gifts, and a hint of the lovebird theme from the reception decor.   All items I used (other than the 3" binder rings I got at Office Depot) were purchased from Michael's.  I started with a wooden album cover by Heidi Swapp, to which I attached scrapbook paper on the outside and a complementary pattern on the inside.  I added a felt bird that I found in a set from the dollar bin a long time ago, some linen look flowers by Recollections, a wooden J (for her new last name) that I spray painted black then sanded a bit, a purple ribbon from one of her gifts layered with some cream velvet ribbon and some pom-pom ribbon that I also bought from the dollar aisle around Valentine's Day. On the back cover, I glued a wooden medallion that I painted and sanded and some little pearl adhesive edging.  I used Elmer's X-treme glue for the paper and Aleene's Super Gel Adhesive for the embellishments and ribbon.  Both worked great.  Lindsay had organized the cards by each event (three showers and her reception) and I used the holes on the wooden book cover as a template to punch the cards one at a time using a plain-old metal three-hole punch.  This took a while and my right hand was sore and bruised the next day!  Perhaps there is a better method out there, but that was mine.  The 3" rings were just barely big enough to hold all the cards and the covers.  I could have split them up, I guess, but I liked the idea of a single collection, so I pushed it a little.  I cut scraps of ribbon, all from Michael's I believe, into roughly 4" strips then tied them all along the rings down the side.  I tied a couple of pieces of ribbon and tulle inside the book where a new section started (with the invitation for that event).  I very quickly glued some scrapbook paper to a cardboard box, put the book inside and tied more of the purple gift ribbon into a bow to take it to Lindsay's house, but I didn't get a picture of that.  I thought about writing a little message inside the front cover, too, but didn't do that.  I really like this idea (not my own--I've seen it done several ways on Pinterest) of making a keepsake out of cards rather than stashing them in a box.  I was going for a kind of shabby, scrappy, layered look, and I hope Lindsay and her new hubs like it.  There's no going back now...those holes are punched![...]

summer's edge


We went on a family road trip to Chicago last week, just the three of us.  I took lots of pictures, but this one of us inside a plexiglass box 104 stories up at the top of the former Sears Tower might be the most dramatic.  It's also the one I look skinniest in.  Bonus.  No sooner had we pulled into the driveway from our 8+hour drive home when my dad called and asked if Macauley would want to go on a trip to Minnesota with them this week.  He said yes, so I've got a quiet week at home now, which is lovely.  I plan to make a photo book of our trip on Shutterfly, hopefully before school starts again.  Which is coming up.  Teachers go back for meetings on Friday, 9 August and the kids start on the following Wednesday.  It would be nice if I could muster up the motivation to do some painting and cleaning work in my classroom before then, but I also have a list of things I'd like to get done before these luxurious summer days have come and gone.  1:  Read at least 4 more books.  2:  Clean out Macauley's closet.  3:  Rework Macauley's room with a more pre-teen feel.  4:  Make Chicago photobook.  5:  Make a mini scrapbook out of all of Lindsay's wedding cards for her.  5:  Add to my flea market booth.  There are others, but that's a good start.  It's been quite a summer--some great trips, a boy who's growing up, the loss of my Nanny...I'm not dreading the start of school, but I will miss these open days so much.

the {4th}


We had a blast (lots and lots of them) this 4th.  My mom and dad came up from Cassville and spent the day, then our good friends the Swans came over for the evening.  We met at our neighborhood pool, which we had totally to ourselves.  Macauley and their 3 girls swam in the rather frigid water until we dragged them out, and we had a yummy potluck dinner.  Then we made our way back to our house and the kids put on quite the fireworks show for us.  Our front sidewalk has some major black scars now that may never go away, but all in the name of fun, I suppose...Today Macauley and I took my mom and dad to see Lindsay and Tyson's lake house near Kimberling City.  We went out on their new boat and had lunch at a little dock.  It was a beautiful day on Table Rock.  On the way home, we stopped at an antique mall and I liked a pair of Audubon prints but didn't leave with anything.  My mom and dad headed back to Cassville and when Ryan got home from work we were off to the pool at Twin Oaks CC for our friend Stephanie's birthday party.  Tomorrow we are going to meet Lane and Derek at a cabin on Bull Shoals Lake.  Feels like we have been constantly buzzing around for weeks now...Fun stuff, but busy, busy...Not sure when I'll get to put away the red, white and blue decor in the dining room. I am thankful to live in a country where I can do the things I want to when I want to do them, a place I feel safe and happy, a place where I am fortunate well beyond what I deserve.  What I did in the grand scheme of life to be born here and not somewhere else, I can't say, but I am grateful and need to pay it forward.We, the People, recognize that we have responsibilities as well as rights; that our destinies are bound together; that a freedom which only asks what's in it for me, a freedom without a commitment to others, a freedom without love or charity or duty or patriotism, is unworthy of our founding ideals, and those who died in their defense.Barack Obama[...]



I'm still getting used to a world where the stars and moon come out at night but my Nanny isn't here anymore to see them, even from her window. My Papaw either. He's been gone since 2004, but I can still picture his small figure standing in their front yard in the evenings "checking the stars." We saw the supermoon this past weekend from our front yard in Missouri. Ryan and I are headed to the desert for a quick getaway to Las Vegas. Temps are forecast at 110-117, but I'm still looking forward to shopping and eating and seeing the new Michael Jackson tribute show. He was such a superstar.

Summer Stars

by Carl Sandburg
Bend low again, night of summer stars.
So near you are, sky of summer stars,
So near, a long-arm man can pick off stars,
Pick off what he wants in the sky bowl,
So near you are, summer stars,
So near, strumming, strumming,
So lazy and hum-strumming.

for her {not nearly enough}


           Four Generations:  My Nanny, My Mother, My Boy and Me (July 2010)           Norma Jean Curtis had 10 grandchildren, and I was lucky enough to be one of them.            We moved to Missouri from Oklahoma just before I turned 8, but my family made the three hour drive back to Muskogee often to spend the weekends or holidays or weeks in the summer with my Nanny and Papaw.  Many times, my sisters and I would try to sleep on the long ride, but even with our eyes closed in the backseat, we could just feelit in our bones when the car turned onto Smith Ferry Road.  We'd feel the pull of that little gray house on 24th Place and know as soon as we rolled into the gravel driveway that the light on the post in the front yard would go on and that the two people who made us feel the most treasured in all the world would be coming out onto the low front porch to kiss us hello and bring us in.  Being at Nanny's house was alwaysa treat, and I think even as a kid I knew and appreciated that.  She was so magnetic, and my sisters and I were so drawn to her and prized our time with her so much, that we would often even follow Nanny into the bathroom and sit with her so as to not miss even a minute of basking in her warmth.  She never seemed to mind the invasion of privacy.            When her grandkids were coming, Nanny would stock her little kitchen with all sorts of treats, many of them novelties my sisters and I didn't get to have at home, like individually wrapped beef jerkies, Ritz crackers and the E-Z cheese that came in the spray can, Borden ice cream and chocolate Magic Shell, tiny cans of Donald Duck orange juice.  I remember there being such bounty in that old kitchen...any craving satisfied by all the snacks stacked on the metal cart next to the fridge, always feeling like I could have my fill, that there was always more where that came from.            How many times in any given day must that wooden screen door from the garage into the kitchen have slammed shut as us sweaty kids burst in to grab the scissors from the drawer under the oven and cut the top off another plastic Flavor-Ice popsicle or pour a tiny paper Dixie cup full of Dr. Pepper?  In that same drawer there were all sorts of notepads and pencils and pens and tape, even a little handheld label maker, all at our creative disposal.  I never felt like I had to conserve or skimp.  This is not to say that Nanny taught us it was okay to waste--quite the contrary.  She was just generous in all she did and had and was, and I know there are many people besides her grandkids who could attest to that.  Norma Curtis was such a giver.          I guess Nanny and Papaw's house was actually quite small, but that never occurred to me growing up.  You can imagine the crowd at holidays when their four daughters would meet there with their families, but we always made do, pulling a hodgepodge of stools and chairs around the kitchen table and around pop-up tables in the living room for big family meals.  I remember piles of presents and kids all over that little living room floor at Christmas.&n[...]



My sweet Nanny left us last night.  Macauley and I were eating dinner in Branson with Lane when my dad called to tell us.  I know she is at peace like everyone keeps saying, but I cried the whole way home for her anyway.  It's almost her birthday.  When we visited her in March and took these pictures, she didn't know who I was.  She certainly didn't know my little boy.  She didn't say much and only barely smiled once...My sister and I sat with her for a couple of hours just to be next to her, aware it was likely the last time we would be.  There's a lot more to say and I've been making notes for a longer piece about her...For now, though, I'm just sad...missing who she was to me for all those years, wondering where she is now, knowing this is the way life goes, wishing it didn't have to be.
Norma Jean Fricks Curtis
10 July 1926-18 June 2013