The Black Cat Blue Sea Award!

Thank you to Susan Jarreau for nominating me for The Black Cat Blue Sea Award!  Susan has a very innovative blog with a strong sense of voice. I am so honored to meet so many interesting and talented writers like Susan through blogging. Please visit Susan at

This is an award given and received by fellow bloggers and is meant to be fun. If any nominees are not interested in The Black Cat Blue Sea Award, participation is not required.

The rules are as follows:


The  questions I was asked to answer:

1. Why did you start blogging?

I started blogging because I find joy in writing about the world around me. I decided that the 2015-2016 would be my last year to teach. Even though I still cared dearly for my students and their families, I felt like I needed a new challenge. When I finished college with a degree in Journalism, I worked at newspapers for seven years. Blogging reminds me of writing feature stories about people, places, and ideas!

2. What do you do to unplug and relax?

We have a farm in the pretty piney woods of East Texas. The farm is hilly and we have cleared lots of trails through the woods and down to the creek. We like to ride our four wheelers…such fun and freedom! The only difficult part would be the 2 1/2 hours it takes to get there!

3. Name three people you admire and one of the qualities you admire in them.

#1: Tracy Kidder, author of Among Schoolchildren. I admire him because his clear nonfiction writing helps me to understand and visualize situations…situations that I have not experienced.

#2: Suzanne Thomas, my college best friend and still my close friend. I admire her for being a very successful suburban newspaper publisher and then changing course to follow her dream. She and her partner have a beautiful and historic Bed & Breakfast in Virginia.

#3: Thomas Jefferson. I admire him for the innovative architectural features of Monticello, his estate in Virginia. He brought many ideas back from the time he spent in France and incorporated them into his amazing home.



1. Kewrites

2. mydearyellowworld

3. thechickengrandma

4. zorazebic

5. Dora Buonfino

6. Dehan Taylor

7. Olive Ole


Questions for my nominees:

1. What personal rewards do you receive from blogging?

2. What place in the world would you like to visit? Why?

3. What are your four most favorite books?




Super Engaging Book #7. Duck Jumps!


Little Quack

Written by Lauren Thompson

Illustrated by Derek Anderson



Little Quack has no plan to jump into the scary water to swim with his brothers and sisters. It was impossible to talk him into being a swimming duck. Oh no! What would happen to him in the cold water? What if he was the only duck in the world who could not learn to swim?

Little Quack had too many questions and there was too much water for Little Quack. His family said, “You can do it! We know you can!”…Mama Duck pleaded with Little Quack to jump into the water. After much thought and fear and more consideration, the baby duck made his first leap into the water! What joy! What excitement! What fun!

When I would read this book to my kindergarten students, they would all loudly repeat “You can do it! We know you can!”…the children were totally involved. Everyone had felt the very same way about something that they were asked to do. Make a list on chart paper of things that the children say that they might be afraid to do!


Part of my chart list from last year’s class:  

1. Devon was afraid to pick up frogs! (Teacher to herself: Yuk! They jump!)

2. Kate was afraid to walk down the school hallway! Big kids might be at the end of the hall! (Teacher to herself: I sort of feel the same way about the big kids!)

3. Jason was afraid to write his name with a pencil. He only wanted to write with a crayon! (Teacher to herself: Why? Where do these ideas come from?)

4. Jose was afraid that his Mama would forget to make a cake for him to eat when he got home from school! (Teacher to herself: A whole cake? Yes…everyday…I asked…I couldn’t believe it!)

And on and on until everyone had the opportunity to talk. A good book like Little Quack lends itself to fun and productive conversations and writing activities! Beyond writing, Little Quack teaches a math lesson on virtually every page as we count how many ducks are left on the bank of the pond. There is even a Quack-U-Lator on every other page or so to help keep track of the number!


Review from School Library Journal:

“This delightfully simple story is sure to become a storytime favorite. Imagine Mama Duck’s surprise when her five ducklings are more than a little reluctant to leave their cozy nest for the big pond. One by one, though, she manages to coax them into the water. First Widdle, next Waddle, then Piddle, and Puddle. Little Quack can’t be budged. Eventually, after some convincing from his mother and his siblings, he dives in and guess what?! He loves it!”

Have fun reading Little Quack!!!








Find Your Own Style. Why Follow?

rolled-down-hoseWhat do you think about these 2016-2017 shoes?

Personally, I can’t get past the rolled down hose!!

When thinking about the word style, I naturally think about clothes. What is current? What does Glamour magazine say about clothing this season? What does Vogue magazine say about clothing this season? What are the movie stars and television stars wearing? I say…what a bunch of totally ridiculous thoughts!

I say ridiculous because many times ridiculous is the best word to describe the clothes that I see in magazines. No matter what, I am going to buy clothes that look like me and clothes that make me feel comfortable. However…


I truly love to shop for clothes!!

Stylish clothes and shoes for 2016-2017 that certainly won’t be entering my closet anytime soon and most likely never:

1. Jeans that are already torn here and there and all over.


2. Shoes that look like they were made for a clown.


3. Ruffled dress that is perfect for a dance recital. Not me.


4. The bow and the ruffle are just too much to deal with.


5. Giant shoes most likely would not work for me.


Stylish clothes and shoes for 2016-2017 that I most likely and probably need in my closet:

1. The Texas casual look. Traditional.


2. Pretty dress and accessories. Traditional again!


3. Comfortable and really the look I like for any year, but are the jeans already faded or torn??!


So there you have it! You choose your style so that it goes with your personality and lifestyle. I will pick my style that makes me feel happy and comfortable…no matter what Vogue or Glamour magazines say!!!



Speech is Silver. Silence is Golden.



 “Silence is Golden” as sung by The Tremeloes. Originally sung by Frankie Vallie & The Four Seasons. Written by Bob Crewe and Bob Gaudio.

I hardly ever listen to the radio in my car. On the way to work during the last year or two, I have listened to a morning talk show for the 40 minute drive…because one of our neighbors is the co-host of the show.  The show is very informative and very funny…such an interesting combination. So…I stop my moratorium on the radio for a short time period.

Our neighbor should be so honored! Otherwise, I can’t take the noise from the radio combined with the traffic. Silence is priceless in the car to me. There was a time when I listened constantly to the radio in the car…talk shows, pop music, country music, any music. And then our daughter turned four and talked continuously the moment that I started the car.

She was four years old just over 25 years ago. Her important conversations were interesting to say the least. She talked about how other people were driving, about buildings that she liked (especially the courthouse in downtown), and how she was going to be mayor someday. She planned to “get this city under control”. Girls are so different. At the same age, our son talked in the car about how he was going to build a baseball stadium downtown. He even drew pictures of the future stadium, but he never talked about being in charge of the whole city! And sometimes he was quiet.

I began turning off the radio so that I could hear what plans she had for the city after she “finished college at TCU”. She had not even started kindergarten yet. She did finish graduate school at TCU, but I haven’t heard much about the mayor’s job recently. The mayor is going to be able to keep her position for a while longer. Our daughter still has a lot to say, but carefully listens too.

And I am still not listening to the radio. I became very accustomed to the car silence after our children were in elementary school. I was facing an entire day of children talking in my classroom, in the hallway, in the cafeteria… teachers talking too! The quiet was calming and gave me time to totally change every lesson plan that I had written for that day! This continued for every single day of my career! I welcomed the chatter when I arrived at school because of my short amount of quiet thinking time.

“Silence is Golden” became my first lesson on the first day of school every year. Most of the children had never heard the phrase. They believed me, especially when I told them about the rewards to those who listened quietly. If someone started talking excessively, someone would invariably say “Shhhhhh!”…”Did you forget about the gold silence?”…victory! Someone learned something!

I also sought to learn some background about the phrase, since I had no idea where it came from at all. Some scholars state that the phrase dates back to Egyptian history. The first time that the phrase evidently was used in English was in a novel, Sartor Resartus written by poet Thomas Carlyle. Translated into English, a line in the book reads “Speech is silvern, Silence is golden”. According to the website, one of the characters in the book uses the line to mean that discretion could be more important than eloquence.

Actually, I had not heard the entire phrase said together… “Speech is Silver, Silence is Golden”. I evidently was not paying attention somewhere, someplace! Literary analysis from states the following edited words:

When we are silent and waiting, something great inside us keeps on growing, and silence give birth to creativity. Moreover the more we keep ourselves silent, the less our hearts will be hurt. In past times, the silence would be a great way of communication and more effective than speaking. Often a silent, but angry look of our parents is enough to give us feelings of their agony and fury. It can make us behave in a much better way than harsh scolding.

 It simply tells us that when we remain silent

and wait, something great keeps us growing,

and gives us creativity.


Emphasis on Sunsets.



Sunset on a Farm-to-Market road in Lindale TX.


 Sunrise, Sunset

Swiftly Flow the Days

Seedlings turn overnight to sunflowers

Blossoming even as we gaze. 



Sunset view from Top of the Rock at Big Cedar Lodge, Ridgedale MO.

“Sunrise, Sunset”

 From the musicalFiddler on the Roof

Song composed by Jerry Bock

Lyrics by Sheldon Harnick



Sunset behind the chapel at Top of the Rock, Big Cedar Lodge, Ridgedale MO.

Photographs by

Fragile Dishes. Non-Fragile Dishes.

pitcher Singapore Bird by Adams!

I like new dishes, old dishes, dishes for children, sets of dishes, and partial sets of dishes. The more fragile the dish…the more I like it. I don’t know exactly when this situation started. It may have happened when I was born. My mother totally loved dishes of all types. I  thought that every mother had dishes and more dishes in every single cabinet. Every mother surely had a pantry filled with sets of dishes. There were two shelves reserved for canned goods and such. No problem! Brookshire’s Grocery Store was just five minutes away if we needed anything. No need to stock up when you could fill that food space with a creamer or pitcher or…the best…a gravy boat.


My mother’s Avonlea by Minton.

I do not have a gravy boat at all and I have no idea what happened to the ones that my mother had. Did she let a friend borrow one? Did she give a gravy boat to one of my aunts? Did we pack a gravy boat or two in a box and put it in our attic instead of unpacking it? I guess that it doesn’t really matter.  I am not so good at making gravy, but I put out my best effort. I need to gain some expertise in making cream gravy for Chicken Fried Steak. I really have no need for a gravy boat.


 Singapore Bird Gravy Boat.

 Nevertheless, if you happen to find a gravy boat in the pattern Singapore Bird by Adams…let me know right away! When I was choosing china and pottery patterns before we married, I could not look any further than Singapore Bird. You might not have ever heard of it. My friends thought that I was quite crazy. My cousin thought that I was quite crazy. My mother loved it. My dad stayed out of it. He knew better.


                            Singapore Bird Cup and Saucer!                             

My husband-to-be didn’t blink an eye. The Singapore Bird decision is most likely the only major decision that I made on my own for the first two years of our marriage. He had a difficult time having dinner with those blue plates and little birds. Imagine that! I now have the entire set except for that gravy boat. Or a gravy boat in Francisco Desert Rose would be very nice.


Stanwood by Minton.

I couldn’t stop with the Singapore Bird. I needed a formal set of dishes. Remember…this was in 1976. Never mind that I didn’t have a formal dining room for five years. I chose Stanwood by Minton. They were for the china cabinet that matched my estate sale dining room table and buffet. And that china cabinet is where those beautiful dishes have remained all these years. Of course, there is not a chip to be seen. They have never been used. I guess that they are for viewing only. I finished out buying most of the pieces in the set three years ago. A china replacement store was going out of business and they had what I needed. It was like finding a rare diamond in the middle of a forest. Remember…they are for viewing only. I really need to use those dishes right away!


Friendly Village by Johnson Brothers.

Rounding out my dishes I have my mother’s pretty set of Friendly Village by Johnson Brothers. I have used those at Christmas several times. In addition, I have my great-aunt’s set of Franciscan Desert Rose. They are too high up in the cabinet to reach and anyway, some are missing. I haven’t found replacement pieces. A project!


Franciscan Green Ivy

At our farm, I have my mother-in-law’s set of  Franciscan Green Ivy. Our daughter loves these dishes and I most likely would have never chosen them. They are just too traditional for me, but they have very nice glasses to match. To round out my collection, we have the fabulous…

Three Sets of Brookshire’s Grocery Store Dishes.

You probably know the deal…you spend $25 or so and you get a plate for an inexpensive price…or something like that. My mother had one set and my mother-in-law had two sets. We still use them at the farm. They will not break. I can’t tell you how many times that I have dropped a plate or a cup on the way from the dishwasher to the cabinet. They are totally indestructible. There is absolutely nothing fragile about grocery store dishes. They are my husband’s favorite dishes. Go figure! Choosing grocery store dishes over Singapore Bird!



One of the grocery store dish patterns!

Perplexed. Why Can’t I Sing?


My cousin…Steve Earle. 

I have relatives who can sing, like to sing, and people actually want to listen to them. They sing professionally and can really make a living from doing something they love. They are songwriters, play guitars like pros…I guess so… since they are pros. I am the family member who would absolutely love to be able to sing. How perplexing is that? I really try. I sing in the car at the top of my lungs. My kindergarten students are the only ones who have ever clapped when I sing. And that is because I clapped first!

One of my cousins has won three Grammys and has been nominated for several others. My own mother grew up in Nashville and wanted to be a singer. She sang on the radio and anywhere else where she was asked to sing. However, she met my dad in Texas and was content just to sing in weddings, church, and around the house. To tell the truth, she had perfect pitch and could play the piano or organ without taking lessons or looking at a sheet of music. I took accordion lessons for nine years and played on a local TV station once. Emphasis on the once. I don’t think that the lessons were successful!




My cousin…Justin Townes Earle.

My brother could also sing and was in the All-State Choir in high school. I was in the choir, but I was not meant for contests. My brother did not care anything about singing and I doubt he ever sang (except in church) after high school and college. Our daughter can sing quite well. She auditioned for the Texas Girls’ Choir when she was eight years old and stayed in for over seven years. She literally sang around the world with the choir… singing at some incredibly special places. What a lucky girl!

Still…I am the one who yearns to sing. The one who yearns to write a song.  The one who yearns to play the piano. Sometimes, you just have to accept that you just did not inherit that particular talent! And you need to be proud of those in your family who have been able to use their talent to bring joy or contemplation to a listener. I guess that I should not really be perplexed. Maybe I am a bit envious, but I am filled with pride for their abilities!





My cousin, Stacey Earle and her husband, Mark Stuart.