Kipling’s “IF” and Graduate School.


When I excitedly signed up for my last graduate school class for my M.Ed in Educational Leadership 14 years ago, I knew that the class would be Education Law. I also knew that there were three or four professors who typically taught the course. I had heard “through the grapevine” that one of the professors had a different expectation for passing the class…a very different expectation.

As luck would have it, the poem professor was teaching the class on the only two nights that I could attend. It would be a tough course after teaching my own class all day. And then we heard the requirements:

Education Law: Yes, most likely your last graduate school class. Congratulations!

Tuesday/Thursday: 5:30 pm-8:30 pm

Number One Course Requirement: Memorize Rudyard Kipling’s poem title IF.

Number Two Course Requirement: Give a presentation of the poem IF by Rudyard Kipling to our entire class. Memorize the poem. Stand up and be proud. Speak every word of the poem. No notes allowed. We want to clearly hear the SOUND of your voice.

Number Three Course Requirement: Your presentation will take place during the last class meeting of the semester. Your grade and exit from this class depends on this poem.

Number Four Course Requirement: Read all assignments from the textbook. Take all exams. Sit down in your seat immediately upon arrival. Show up for every class meeting.

Number Five Course Requirement: Do the best that you can. Be the best that you can. You are part of the future of education. You will hopefully be leaders in a school. Our children are counting on you.



 None of the 24 decidedly adult class members had recited a poem since high school. We could talk all day to the students in our classrooms. We were totally petrified of saying a poem out loud to the entire class. We were so relieved that ours was a small class. I was most certainly familiar with Rudyard Kipling’s poem titled IF. Actually, the poem would rank at the top of my poem list…should I put together a poem list. I doubt that I would bother to rank poems since I care so deeply about many other poems such as…

The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost

Trees by Joyce Kilmer

Caged Bird by Maya Angelou

Stopping By Woods On A Snowy Evening by Robert Frost

Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein

Our professor considered IF to be the most important group of words every written. If we lived our life by the poem, he thought that we would undoubtedly have greater success. In addition…we would be better examples for the students in our schools. We were told that the women in the class could change the words if needed to…“You’ll be a Woman, my daughter”! Two of the five women in our class did indeed change the words. I just left the words as Kipling wrote them. I did not want to risk changing the words and making Kipling unhappy. Sort of silly…I know!

After hearing every person in our class flawlessly recite the words to IF…we all believed that our professor was right in his assessment of the poem.

The words are truly profound!

Needed Now…Serious Positivity.


A few of us seem to not possess even an ounce of serious positivity. Most of us seem to personally own positivity. These people know what being positive is and what being positive can do. It is said that positivity is an entity that accepts the world as it is. That does not mean that we cannot seek change where change is needed. It means that we accept, listen, discuss, plan, collaborate. Always with a sense of understanding, positivity, seriousness, empathy and happiness…

1. Accept

2. Listen

3. Discuss

4. Plan

5. Collaborate

Always with understanding and positivity.

Always with seriousness and empathy.

Always with happiness.





I truly think that we need positivity in the world when I hear all of the disagreements, controversies, complaints, condemnation, criticizing, and non-acceptance. 

Remember…positivity accepts the world as it is. Seek change where change is needed. Seek change in appropriate ways with an appropriate voice of reason…with a peaceful, easy feeling.

So Good Lemon Cake Pudding.


Delicious Lemon Cake Pudding!

A pudding that is sort of a cake, but really it is sort of a pudding…so good that you might want to make it for Valentine’s Day! Decorate the top with whipped cream and “the amount that you like!” sliced strawberries. You can use red raspberries instead of strawberries.


My mother and her friends made this recipe for parties and casual neighborhood get-togethers. I thought that I did not have the recipe, but found it in one of my mother’s many cookbooks. I have since found similar recipes on the internet, but I have only tried this particular recipe! I know that it works!!

The recipe for Lemon Cake Pudding came from the very popular “back in the day” Charity League Cookery…a cookbook published in 1953 by a women’s club in Longview, Texas. There are scores of wonderful “vintage” recipes to try. All of the recipes are written by hand…by several people who had amazing handwriting skills! Hope that you enjoy this recipe!!


Lemon Cake Pudding


Grated rind of 2 lemons

2 Egg Yolks, beaten (save the whites)

Juice of 2 Lemons

1 Cup Sugar

1/4 Cup Sugar

Dash of Salt

1 Cup Milk

1/4 Cup Melted Butter

2 Egg Whites, Beaten

Additional ingredients if desired: small carton of whipped cream (whip with 1/4 cup sugar), strawberries or raspberries (your choice of quantity)!


Mix beaten egg yolks and juice of 2 lemons together. Add 1 cup sugar blended with 1/4 cup flour and dash of salt. Add grated lemon rind. Add milk and melted butter. Fold in beaten egg whites.

Pour mixture into 1 1/2 quart baking dish. Place in a larger baking pan of hot (not lukewarm) water. The water should go up at least one to 1/2 inch on the side of the smaller baking dish.

Bake for 1 hour at 325 degrees. Watch carefully!

Serve with whipped cream and sliced strawberries on top of cake pudding! Red raspberries may be used instead of strawberries!




Aware and Tired of Disdain.



I understand why I am not caring so much for politics these days. The reason why I understand my feelings is because I clearly do not understand all of the constant disdain. Continuous disdain is not the answer to the problems. I understand because I do not understand. That is how I feel every time I turn on the news and have to hear about the results and ramifications of the political decisions again.

I am more than a little aware of the immigration controversy. I am more than a little aware of families who have easily and illegally crossed the Rio Grande to seek a better life. I am more than a little aware that illegal immigrants who have criminal records should not be allowed to stay. I am more than a little aware the some of these illegal immigrants with criminal records have repeatedly returned to the United States. I am more than a little aware that deportation and division of families is a heartbreaking occurrence. I am more than a little aware that…no matter what…the laws of our country must be followed. I am well aware that communication and information assistance is needed to help these immigrants assimilate in a legal manner.

I have never been a proponent of discrimination in any shape or form. I am certainly a proponent of people understanding and following the proper procedures for entering and staying in our country or any other country. Dealing with immigration in accordance to the laws of the United States is not an injustice.

However, there is injustice throughout the world. Injustice towards women. Injustice towards those who believe differently from the immediate majority surrounding them. Injustice from the majority to the minority. Injustice from the minority to the majority. Injustice towards innocent children. Injustice towards the disabled. Injustice towards the homeless. Injustice never seems to stop.

All we can really do is to change some small portion of our personal world. Little by little. And hope that someone comes along who would like to join us. And hope that someone cares enough to pay it forward.

Innate Vision…A Gift?


It seems that some people are born with an innate vision for their future. Others struggle daily to find a vision for their next week or even for their afternoon. What is the source for innate vision? Perhaps from a higher power, some would say. Perhaps from ancestry, some would say. Perhaps from good parenting, some would say. Perhaps from determination, some would say. Perhaps from extended education, some would say. Perhaps just from luck of the draw, some would say.

I am thinking that vision comes from a combination of all of the above in differing degrees of percentage. I have always been fascinated by those endowed with vision. They are usually planners and organizers. They are rarely driven by popular public opinion. They are confident and not bothered by change. They have depth of thinking and depth of nerve. Visionaries are fascinating individuals. At least, I find them fascinating. Others may find them besieged by prideful decisions.

Maybe this is the misunderstood part…the decisions of those filled with vision are sometimes considered controversial. It might be that they take pride in stirring up differing opinions. But…where would we be without the visionaries such as…

  1. Walt Disney. My favorite television show as a child was The Wonderful World of Color on Sunday nights. Actually, Walt Disney and his collaborators were the creators of many favorites from my childhood…The Mickey Mouse Club, Donald Duck, Minnie Mouse, my Mickey Mouse ears…just to name a view. And I could hardly wait to ride the “teacups” at Disney World! We need more joy in our lives and Walt Disney provided the basis for so much joy!

My favorite quote from Walt Disney…



     2. Frank Lloyd Wright. I have been buying house plan         books since I was in elementary  school. When I discovered houses built by Frank Lloyd Wright, I was hooked on design. He understood the value of natural light before people realized that they needed natural light. Frank Lloyd Wright believed in open concept before people realized that it might be a good idea to view the rest of the house from the kitchen.

My favorite quote from Frank Lloyd Wright: 


What is your Vision?

Caddo Lake. Part Texas. Part Louisiana.


Caddo has been called an “incredibly lush lake” on the state park website.


Caddo Lake is located in East Texas and crosses into Louisiana. The mysterious lake is wrapped in a murky green swamp appearance. Caddo looks like it might be out of an eerie movie that you are slighty hesitant to watch, but you feel compelled to finish. Caddo is an ideal place for nature study for serious and amateur enthusiasts. Sometimes, it is an ideal place to be frightened by nature. At other times, Caddo causes a visitor to be mesmerized and appreciative of the lush foliage, the cypress trees moving slightly in the breeze and the abundance of wildlife. Unusual birds, large fish and even larger alligators will look back at you from the water that encircles the tangled webs of vines and trees.




Caddo Lake State Park has included on their visitor information the following intriguing description of Caddo Lake:

“Thick bald cypress and a tangle of aquatic plants thrive in the waters at Caddo Lake State Park. Because the vegetation is so lush, much of the lake is really a maze of sloughs, bayous and ponds. The park affords excellent access to the diverse fishing in Texas. Also popular are the park’s quaint cabins built by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s. Activities enjoyed by visitors include camping, hiking, paddling small boats, nature study, fishing and boating.”



Caddo Lake…located near Uncertain, Texas…makes you feel more than a little uncertain! Caddo does not even seem real. It is difficult to believe that such a place of undeveloped isolation is still in existence. That is something to indeed be thankful for!

Ranked #1 place to live in USA…Austin!

Austin Evening

Austin, Texas…Lady Bird Lake!

Austin, Texas was chosen recently as the #1 Place to live in the USA, 2017 by U.S. News & World Report! Not a surprise at all! I would not criticize this choice! Austin is really everything that you think a city should be and more. I have considered Austin “the best” since my first visit a long time ago.  Most everyone who has spent time in Austin feels exactly the same way. Austin is filled with fun activities, educational opportunities, many cultural destinations, expansive parks, multiple lakes and friendly people.




Add to that, the slogan that the Austin Independent Business Alliance has adopted…Keep Austin Weird!  Why weird? Maybe just partially weird! It could be the eclectic vibe of 6th Street’s music venues. Or maybe it is the array of unusual shops on South Congress Avenue. Lets’s not forget the hundreds and hundreds of bicycles, kite flying, canoes floating on the lake near downtown, bats flying over and under the Congress Street Bridge. And who can forget the thousands of students at The University of Texas?



The Oasis Restaurant on Lake Travis…Austin, Texas!

When we go to Austin for a UT football game, I always think that the same people who lived there in the mid to late seventies are still there. We always go to the “Student Co-Op” (now run by Barnes & Noble!) on Guadalupe Street…across from the campus. Those people walking around looking like they are very grown-up “weekend” students…those are some of the people who loved Austin so much that they could not consider leaving after college. Actually, the current students are studious and collegiate looking…a bit different from the seventies!



University of Texas…the tower lights up orange when the Longhorns win!



Longhorn football!

When U.S. New & World Reports ranked cities for the current Best Places to Live, 2017 list, they were taking into consideration 1) good values in the area, 2) a desirable place to live, 3) strong job market 4) high quality of life and 5) net migration . Check out the report at…


From parks to lakes to festivals to the state capitol…Austin offers lots of living!


Top 10 things to see and enjoy in Austin…

1. 6th Street

2. State Capitol

3. Zilker Park

4. Blanton Museum of Art

5. Barton Springs Pool

6. Lyndon B. Johnson Library and Museum

7. Bullock Texas State History Museum

8. The Austin bats at the Congress Avenue bridge

9. Mexic-Arte Museum

10. Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center





Sounds of Allegiance.


The words of the Pledge of Allegiance to the American flag bring such a feeling of patriotism and pride to me. Perhaps the sounds of the Pledge of Allegiance mean so much to me because we recited the pledge each day when I was teaching at my various schools. I heard the sweet voices of the children…with their hands over their hearts…resound across all of my schools each morning. 




The majority of the students in my recent schools spoke Spanish at home. My class each year was designated ESL…English as a Second Language. This particular district called classes like mine “regular”, although my students indeed spoke English as a Second Language. In my first district, we were asked to study for, take and pass the ESL test to add to our state teacher certifications.




Reading instruction in English is presented to ESL students in a very logical, phonetic and sequential way. Actually, this type of instruction is beneficial to all students. These are some of the brightest and most enthusiastic children that I have ever taught. They were eager to learn, outgoing and well-behaved. My school was a Title I school with a dominant amount of children from homes at the poverty level. In fact, all of the schools in my public school career were Title I schools. Some schools had a high percentage of Hispanic children, some schools were predominately Vietnamese and some were like a “windows to the world”. I care so deeply for these children.




One year, a bit earlier in my career, I had children in a third grade class who individually spoke one of seven individual languages at home, but English at school. The vast cultural differences were amazing and so were the responses of the children to each other. They took the time to learn about each other in positive ways. They were all thrilled to have emigrated to the United States. Some of the children came to their new country as toddlers and some came as recent as the summer before school started. They kept close ties to their birth country, but rarely were able to return because of the cost.



The children were mostly very articulate in English and did not have a difficult time transitioning back to their first language when they went home for the day. If a parent was picking them up, they immediately spoke in their other language. I considered their language versatility at such young ages to be a true gift. If only I could switch to speaking Spanish so quickly! Instead, I have to stop and think for a few minutes! At this point, I am still not particularly fluent. 



With all of this in mind, I truly did find hearing the Pledge of Allegiance to be a compelling moment each day. I knew that they had allegiance to their home country, but they were willing and ready to embrace the United States. My classes and many other classes in my school learned the The Star Spangled Banner and America the Beautiful. If I were to go to school or teach in their home countries, I would want to learn their most well-known patriotic songs as well as the pledge to their flags in the language of the new country.


For all of these reasons…I was surprised when we were told to also say the Pledge of Allegiance in Spanish. This occurred at multiple schools in different districts.

Something about this administrative decision seemed wrong to me since my experience included teaching children from many countries. We certainly did not ever say the American pledge in Vietnamese or in a dialect from various countries in Africa or in French. Why couldn’t we remain learning and saying the pledge in our common language in this country?


My student for two years …Ukoh from Nigeria…never expected us to say the pledge in his home language. This boy…an incredibly bright nine year old when I last saw him…was so proud of the American flag that he said the pledge and sang our patriotic songs more distinctly and exuberantly than any other child in my entire career. He asked each day to have the honor of holding the American flag.


Thank you to Ukoh for reminding me of the vast significance of the Pledge of Allegiance…and the beautiful sounds of the Star Spangled Banner!

Sounds of Music Boxes Everywhere.

Walking into my parent’s house occasionally sounded like you might be walking into a recording studio. There were always sounds of music and voices coming from every direction. My mother might be singing and tap dancing in the kitchen; my dad might be talking  (call letters: W5FRO) to someone from across the world on his ham radio; the television would be on even though not one person was watching; and our neighbors would be sitting at the oval breakfast room table talking a mile a minute (all at the same time) while drinking too much coffee. A symphony of familiar sounds to me…that I lovingly remember.


 Stein and circus music boxes. The circus was a favorite of our children. 

However…the most beautiful sounds would come from my mother’s collection of music boxes. I absolutely loved those music boxes and so did she. I don’t remember a time when she was not on the lookout for an unusual music box. We are proudly and lovingly taking care of the music boxes these days. They still play beautiful music.


The sounds of musical magic…at least…that is how the music boxes sounded to me!


Music boxes are referred to as items that readily produced mechanical music. I had never heard that particular term in reference to music boxes before doing some research. The first music box was a barrel organ created in 1502. A musical instrument called a carilllon was the music box or mechanical music item that was made next. The carillon played a musical scale with a set of bells. These bell sets automatically played chimes at the top of the hour. Designers eventually realized the possibility of combining the set of bells with the barrel organ. Barrels were pinned with melodies that became increasingly complex.


Chiming watches were next!



Music boxes were soon created with combs and cylinders. In Music Boxes: A Guide for Collectors, David Talis states that “the musical box is a mechanical instrument in which tuned steel tongues are set in vibration by means of pins set in a rotating cylinder or disc”. In 1796, Antoine Favre invented a tuned steel tooth which could be plucked by a note. After this invention, music boxes as they are known today were soon created. Thus…


Music boxes… very similar to the ones my mother so dearly loved…became much appreciated keepsakes and collectibles.




The entire history of music boxes is so very interesting to read. More interesting are the memories that I dearly hold… when I hear the special sounds of each box. And then I fully understand why all types of music are so very important to me and why the music boxes are so very important to me. They remind me of…


The symphony of sounds from my childhood!


Recycling Bin Confrontation.


Just a regular recycling bin. Surely not overwhelming!

The recycling bin looks so innocent just sitting there waiting for someone to empty the appropriate items inside. Such an easy task. Keep recyclable items in a designated trash can inside the house or maybe in the garage. Relocate all of the contents to the bin before the truck arrival once a week . Pull the bin to the street. Sometimes the pulling might require the use of a few muscles here and there. So easy. Such the right thing to do.


The inside the house or garage recycling can.

Such the right thing to do until last Tuesday. I imagine that I simply didn’t have the acceptable technique for putting the contents of the little container into the big container. I mean…really now…it is not such a totally overwhelming task! I have emptied the little can into the big can hundreds of times. My husband has emptied the little can hundred of times. So have our neighbors, our children when they were growing up, all of our neighbor’s children. Not even one mishap. Until the really aggressive behavior of the recycling bin last Tuesday. And…it just had to happen to me. Or was I the aggressive one?


Two liter bottles surely are not heavy!

Maybe I walked too fast to the driveway. Or maybe I simply approached the bin with a less than friendly face. I have never said a negative word about the bin. I have not sent any middle of the night tweets about the recycling bin. I have always been politically correct in all of my recycling comments. I have never even made any harsh statements on Facebook about the recycling bin. I have not even made any sarcastic remarks about the recycling bin. And…I am so unfortunately capable about being sarcastic. Therefore, I have done…



And then the above pictured problem happened. I walked up to the bin and opened the lid so it would stay back. As I was beginning to empty the small can into the recycling bin, I realized that it was way heavier than I thought. I struggled to turn the can over to empty out. I almost pushed the entire large bin over and dropped the whole small can  into the bin. In this fairly ridiculous process, I slammed my left wrist into the sharp plastic edges of the inside of the bin. They certainly did not look sharp. They were overwhelmingly sharp.

I would not dare show you what my hand looked like at first or how my wrist started swelling so much that I could not remove my watch. So glad that the watch was not high priced at all. Emphasis on WAS since if it is 3:00…my watch now says 5:00 and will not change.

Like the words in the Jimmy Buffett song…

“It’s Five O’Clock Somewhere”!

My hand will also not be working right for a while. There was a place much worse than a scratch…like you would not believe. Let’s not even talk about the large bruise that immediately appeared on the top of my hand. I spent three hours going to the doctor and having my hand patched up. Not fun. Especially after I had been so nice to that recycling bin.

However…I did take the bin to the street. I did not want to take any chances on further injuries!