And the thunder rolls again in Texas.


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Photo by…Dallas, Texas…Summer, 2017


The thunder, the lightning, the clouds, the howling dogs, the cats hiding under the bushes, the rush of the wind, the bending trees, the falling limb on the roof… plus the brightest sunset…just another evening thunderstorm in Texas. Like the people we meet each day…every storm is different. Some loud. Some quiet. Some needed. Some not needed. And yet…amid the noise from the sky…we know tomorrow will be brighter because we surely learned something from the storm we encountered.









Schools might need to be playful.

With the school year arriving very quickly, I decided to reblog one of my posts from June, 2016. I honestly feel that playful classrooms combined with strategic learning should be more prevalent. Children cannot be serious all the time!


In the eighteen years that I spent in public schools, the word “playful” so often was an absent commodity. More absent every year. Playful? No time for such folly in 2017. Not in some schools.

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Preparation and practice for the state test takes precedence over most everything. That is how it appears to me. I have not been teaching in a testing grade level for several years. Thank goodness. However, I do feel pressure to prepare the children for what lies ahead. The pressure felt by teachers and children in grades three, four, and five (and beyond) must be intense. I see it in their eyes. Or is this my imagination? I doubt it.

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Or is it in my imagination that I don’t hear as much laughter? I doubt it. I wonder what happened to fun assemblies? When I taught in another large city district, we regularly had a fascinating magician, Folklorico…

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Finding A Happy Disposition In A Sea Of Disparate Negativity.


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Your disposition, your attitude, your demeanor precede you throughout your life. It is true…people can sense a poor disposition by the scowl on a person’s face. There was a time when I thought that a sad and discordant disposition was an inherited trait. I believed that there was nothing that a person could do if they were born with a negative personality. They were stuck with it. They just had to figure out how to live with negativity, how to simply give in to negativity, how to accept that they were the inevitable complainers. I changed my mind in the years after college when I was working at newspapers. I really changed my mind after I began teaching elementary school.


Nature vs Nurture…the debate that has continued through generations.


Blaming nature may be the easy way to explain away your far from positive attitude and lack of motivation. A coworker at a newspaper where I worked was a prime example…temperamental to the point of throwing things off of his desk; curt and rude answers; never thought that he was at fault for anything; blamed the general population of the city for any complaints about his articles; argued and yelled during staff meetings; stomped out of multiple meetings. His overall negative disposition and blatant behavior caused havoc for the entire staff. What a downer of a person. He was lusting for control of every situation.


One comment that he always made was… “I act just like my grandfather. I am proud of it!”…followed by “I could easily act a lot better, but I like the attention!”


He eventually lost his job. He never went back into the newspaper business. His disposition preceded him at every location where he applied. What talent he had! What a very fine writer! What research he completed for each assignment! And yet…he could not succeed in a competitive environment. The fault was completely his own.


I wonder how his upbringing came into play. Was he nurtured by his family? Was he taught to accept responsibility for his own actions? Was he taught to seek happiness even if it took a huge amount of effort? Was he taught the critical importance of behavior restraint? Was he taught about kindness?


Craig Jarrow wrote an interesting article on his site, Time Management Ninja…”21 Ways to Define a Positive Attitude”. Jarrow states that productivity in a job setting is contagious and your attitude is also very contagious. A positive and happy disposition can be contagious, but a negative and poor disposition can seem like a virus. In other words…a poor disposition can be a corrupting influence in any setting.

A positive attitude works in tandem with  a positive disposition.





“21 Ways to Define a Positive Attitude”

By: Craig Jarrow


  1. It is looking adversity in the eye…and laughing.

  2. Getting what you get, and not pitching a fit.

  3. Enjoying the unexpected, even when it’s not what you originally wanted.

  4. Motivating those around you with a positive word.

  5. Using the power of a smile to reverse the tone of a situation.

  6. Being friendly to those you don’t know.

  7. It’s getting beck up when you fall down. (No matter how many times you fall down.)

  8. Being a source of energy that lifts those around you.

  9. Understanding that relationships are more important than material things.

  10. Being happy even when you have little.

  11. Having a good time even when you are losing.

  12. Being happy for the success of someone else.

  13. Having a positive future vision, no matter how bad your current circumstances.

  14. Smiling.

  15. Paying a compliment, even to a total stranger.

  16. Tell someone you know that they did a great job. (And mean it.)

  17. Making someone’s day. (Not just a child’s…adults like to have their day to be special too.)

  18. It’s not complaining no matter how unfair things appear to be. (It is a waste of time…instead do something.)

  19. Not letting the negativity of other people bring you down.

  20. Giving more that you expect to get in return.

  21. Being true to yourself…always.


Your choice…adjust your disposition and have a positive attitude!


Choose to be the type of person that everyone wants to work with, to talk to, to collaborate with…a positive and happy disposition is a cohesive force!


A Savannah, Georgia Tradition…Lunch At Mrs. Wilkes’ Dining Room!

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Mrs. Wilkes’ Dining Room: 107 W. Jones St. in Savannah, Georgia


We heard about Mrs. Wilkes’ Dining Room from the flight attendant when we were just about to land in Savannah. She was walking by checking passenger seat belts and happened to say out loud…”I can hardly wait to get off of this plane. I have a layover in Savannah… so that means that I can have lunch at Mrs. Wilkes!” Someone across the aisle said, “Me too!” and we knew we better ask who in the world “Mrs. Wilkes” was and how they both knew her.


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We asked immediately and found out that they were talking about the famous (except to us) Mrs. Wilkes’ Dining Room. Originally a boarding house, this iconic restaurant is a throwback to yesteryear. Guests are seated in groups of ten in the dining room even if they have never seen each other. No worry…everyone will be getting along by the time lunch is over!


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In the dining room, there are large tables and the food is brought in pretty dishes…to be passed around to everyone. There is no menu. The dining room staff select the choices and the selection is changed daily.


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The food is delicious and totally Southern style and made even more appealing by the location. Mrs. WilkesDining Room is located in a historic house…built in 1870.  Author William Schemmel describes Mrs. Wilkes’ as “a treasure hidden away in a beautiful historic district townhouse”…be prepared to wait in line on the sidewalk! The wait is worthwhile!


Famous guests at Mrs. Wilkes’ Dining Room

I tried Brunswick Stew for the first time at Mrs. Wilkes’ and it is still one of my favorites…


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2 pounds pork or chicken, cooked and chopped

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1 teaspoon hot sauce (your choice)

1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

1/3 cup pork drippings or 1/3 cup bacon, fried and chopped

1/2 cup barbecue sauce (your choice)

1 1/2 cups catsup

2 cups diced potatoes, cooked

3 (16 ounce) cans cream style corn



Place all ingredients in large pan, cover and heat slowly on top of the stove. Salt and more hot sauce may be added according to taste preferred.

Makes about two quarts.












A cup of tea. A group of friends. Surely happiness is brewing!


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When I read that the prompt for today is tea, I thought about the above quote and all of the wonderful friends who have come my way through blogging. From Iowa, South Carolina, Texas, California, New York and all across the United States, England, Australia, New Zealand, Scotland, Cameroon, India, Dubai, Nigeria, Norway, Japan, China, Iceland, Switzerland, Ireland, Vietnam, Russia, Italy, Canada, Estonia, Brazil, Germany, Spain, Denmark, United Arab Emirates, Ukraine, Singapore, Albania, Argentina, Sweden, Hungary, Indonesia, Belgium, Finland, Saudi Arabia, Romania, Paraguay, Czech Republic, Thailand, Mexico, Croatia …and on and on and on.

I thank all of you for your kindness, your thoughtfulness, your proud voices, your talent, your differences, your likenesses, your strong opinions, your faith, your humor, your ability to reach out across the world.


We are indeed involved in a particularly important venture…writing for the sake of the pure spirit of communicating. We are building a world for ourselves that is wider and larger that ever we expected. I do think that we are reaching for a glimmer of understanding…a glimmer of peace…a glimmer of sharing.

Thank you for your friendships. I tell my friends and family about you and they are amazed at how fortunate we are that you are in our world!


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A true statement…for sure!!



A poem by Kate Greenaway…a children’s book author and illustrator in the latter half of the 19th century…


In the pleasant green garden
  We sat down to tea;
“Do you take sugar?” and
  “Do you take milk?”
She’d got a new gown on–
  A smart one of silk.
We all were so happy
  As happy could be,
On that bright Summer’s day
  When she asked us to tea.



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Whatever belief we hold…whatever faith we hold, I believe that we do share in the journey of helping those in need…for we already understand friendship.


Definitely not a traditional home life. By any stretch of the imagination.



Someone might ask…just what is a traditional home life? What is traditional in Texas might be different from a traditional home life in California. What is traditional in Japan might be different from a traditional home life in Brazil. Differences are understandable and expected. Everyone can define a traditional home life in their own way.

However…I would hope that traditional in any part of the world would (or could) involve the basic levels of need for sustainable life. Abraham Maslow, a noted American psychologist, wrote “A Theory of Human Motivation” in 1943. His findings stated that the basic needs are arranged in a Hierarchy of Needs. A pyramid is often presented as the foundation for a person’s basic needs. Lower needs must be met before a person can reach the top level called self-actualization. When this level is completed, a person reaches their full potential, according to Maslow

Those lower needs on the pyramid include the very basic needs of water, food, sleep and shelter. When I was in graduate school for Educational Administration, the presentations on Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs made a serious impression on me. To me, it represents the eventual motivation that is especially needed for a young child to successfully progress through school with a sense of joy in learning, pride in accomplishment and a feeling of creative thinking.






In my own classroom, I have sadly seen the effects of the absence of these basic needs. When I was thinking of the word “traditional”…I thought immediately of the small child who was in my classroom more than ten years ago. I cannot help but think about currently young children who are in the same situation. Is there someone there to hear their voice? I only hope that someone at their school listens like a group of educators at my school listened. I wrote the following post in the second month of my blog…




Listen: A Small and Quiet Voice is Talking.



The child walked quietly into my elementary school classroom.


His eyes were cast downward. His smile was absent. His walk was slow and hesitant. His smile was absent. Other children walked in laughing and talking and skipping. Most everyone had something to say…”Good Morning, Good Morning”, “Want to hear something funny?”, “Hey teacher…look at my new backpack! I found it at a garage sale! Do you love it?”, “Today is pizza day in the cafeteria. Is it lunchtime yet?” and on and on.


Yes…most everyone had something to say and all of the children greeted me with a smile. All smiled except for one small, fragile boy. He sat down at his table and put his head down on his folded arms. He was asleep in less than 30 seconds. I tried to wake him up for circle time, for the main lesson of the day, for the teacher read-aloud. Clearly exhausted.


He evidently came to school to get some peace and quiet. I never consider my classroom to be particularly quiet and sometimes I don’t consider it particularly peaceful. I do know that my classroom is filled with love and care…love from me to the children, from the children to me…love and care is always my goal.

I rarely know right away about a child’s life away from school. I listen, learn and discern information in bits and pieces for a few weeks. I would eventually know what type of home life they bring to school. With this sad little boy, I knew that things were certainly not right. Something was missing. Please, please…help me find the missing part to the puzzle.

I asked the mother and step-father to come in for a meeting. I sent a note home in his daily folder. I called repeatedly. I left messages. The number was quickly disconnected. A relative picked him up in the afternoon. She would barely talk to me. She muttered a quick greeting with the same look of despair as the child.


Everyday, I spent extra time with the child while his classmates were busy with projects. Little by little, he started talking quietly to me.

He was hungry. He usually did not eat at night. The breakfast and lunch provided at our school were mostly his only means of sustenance. He did not have a bed. He slept on a couple of blankets on the floor. Sometimes a sibling would take the blankets away from him.

His mother had two jobs. I was glad that she was working, but worried about the care he was receiving or obviously not receiving. I doubted that she had time to talk with me. I began trying to get the step-father to talk with me. No luck. Collaboration? Not from these parents.

A few days after the child began talking to me, he said his leg hurt, his tummy hurt. The story came out in a blur of words. I immediately talked with all of the appropriate people at my elementary school and beyond my school. The counselor talked with the child. The sad truth was indeed the really sad truth. Things were very wrong at his house.


Action was taken very quickly by the appropriate agency. He was sent to foster care in another school district that very day. I hope he found love and support. I hope he found a warm and comfortable bed. I hope he found a good dinner waiting for him every evening.

I do not know what happened to him after his placement. I hope that he learned to smile. I hope that his mother learned that she needs to collaborate with the teacher and the school and anyone else who would help her. Fear keeps so many parents from seeking assistance. If only she really knew how much effort we put into finding a bit of a future for her child.


I certainly did not find a chance at a better life for him all by myself. It took a group of people working together. And it all started because a group of educators listened to his quiet voice. That is why I believe that it takes a truly committed village to raise a child.





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Summer of 2017...the child who was in my class is now grown up. My prayer is that he made it…that he became the happy child that he deserved to be. I hope that his basic needs plus more were met.




Two Voices. Blending Sounds.Two Guys In Lubbock Share Their Talent!

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Michael Henry and Justin Robinett were students at Texas Tech University in Lubbock Texas when they decided to record a YouTube video in 2009. It was just on a whim…just for fun. Justin had a set of amateur recording equipment that he had acquired back in high school. Michael was curious about how they could make a video. Why not try it out? Anyway… who in the world was really going to listen?


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They both had a musical background in their growing up years and met when they were both on the Texas Tech drum line. Michael took piano lessons for a couple of years and played drums in his high school Jazz Ensemble. His singing ability was unknown to most everyone. Justin started taking piano lessons at ten years old and later began playing drums and playing guitar. He attended Texas Tech as a Music Performance Major. They had no idea of the fan support that they would receive from those first and subsequent YouTube videos.



And…another YouTube career was soon launched. Just by accident. Just for fun. They did not even think about the real people who would watch their video. And people watched…and people listened. People loved the blending harmony of their unique voices.


Michael and Justin have over 385,000 subscribers and over 74 million views on their videos. I first heard about them when a friend sent me a video of Michael and Justin singing “Hallelujah”. It turned out to be one of the best renditions that I have ever heard.




Their covers of well known hits are astounding. I have heard that they are currently on separate career paths…Michael now has a law degree from Texas Tech and Justin has several degrees from South Plains College in Sound Technology and Audio Engineering. I am simply hoping that they keep sharing their musical talent…

Michael and Justin’s harmony is truly a wondrous sound! 



When The Crepe Myrtle Trees Wake Up In Texas…And The Beauty Begins!



A group of Crepe Myrtle blooms at our East Texas farm!

Summer is the ideal time for Crepe Myrtle trees in Texas. They evidently need their winter sleep to deal with the hot weather. I have never even thought about Crepe Myrtle trees being dormant during the colder weather. No wonder that the grade I earned in my college botany class was far less than outstanding…I must not have paid attention to a word that was said. Too many other things were on my mind. I was far more interested in being on the college newspaper staff and taking pictures with an actual news camera. Learning to develop the film and then enlarge the pictures was a thrill!



A Crepe Myrtle growing near the tractor trail to one of our barns.

The scientific study of plants was certainly not a thrill for someone who was still a teenager! No doubt…I would absolutely love that class now! We have so many Crepe Myrtles scattered throughout our farm. Some of these pretty flowering trees are hidden away in deeply wooded areas…to be discovered by sheer accident!


More Texas Crepe Myrtle trees at our farm!

A flowering tree discovered by a sheer and beautiful accident. A Crepe Myrtle quietly slipped into the woods to grow beside tall pine trees and delicate wildflowers. Such a sight to behold! And this feat of nature has happened over and over again!



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…and look for hidden flowering trees in the quiet of the afternoon!



Why Choose Love?


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Indecision…the long way to success or the easy way?


Indecision…to laugh at knowledge or attain knowledge?


Indecision…scorn the poor or reach out a strong hand?


Indecision…give up your hopes or follow your dream?


Indecision…use sarcasm to communicate or kindness?


Indecision…invite disastrous results or find peace?



Waiting to make the best decision is very slow. Fear…slower. Lost in sorrow…time is so long. Choose to celebrate…time is so fast and fleeting…yet full of joy. 


However…look for true love and your time becomes a matter of eternity.



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1 Corinthians 13:13…

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.








Saving The Earth…One Step At a Time.


Earthaven Ecovillage is an educational center and community living project located in a mountain setting near Asheville, North Carolina. Their basic belief is to take care of the earth through sustainable efforts to the make the world a more healthy, knowledge-driven and livable environment. These are my own words to describe a place where our son spent part of a summer learning more about the structure of sustainable living.


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Our son was involved in using the integral ideas of sustainable living and a program called Permaculture and had taken a variety of courses for certification. A system of agricultural principles as well as landscaping design principles utilizing the features of natural ecosystems, Permaculture and sustainable living were at the core of our son’s plan for his life. Earthaven was a natural educational extension for him and we are so thankful that he had the opportunity to take part in such a program.

The vision statement of Earthaven Ecovillage states…”We are dedicated to caring for people and the Earth by learning, living and demonstrating a holistic, sustainable culture.”


Sustaining the earth for our children, grandchildren and beyond…a vision that we all might want and need to consider. Earthaven has an interesting newsletter that you subscribe to at their website ( Their educational facility is named SOIL, School of Integrated Living. SOIL offers classes and workshops throughout the year. Think about another statement written by Earthaven…


“We envision a world where self-reliant, interdependent and ecologically aware people engage consciously in their land and global communities. These committed individuals will make informed and responsible choices for their basic needs, understand their impact on the world, forge real connections with themselves and others and ultimately contribute to a more sustainable world for all.”


We don’t all have the time to attend classes at a place like Earthaven or even have the desire to take classes. So…what can we do on our own to help make the world a better and more healthy place? In thinking what we can do to sustain the earth in our own individual lives, we might first consider the task of…




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Composting is a first step in making a contribution to sustaining  our planet. According to the television show, “This Old House”, the following are the steps to beginning to compost organic materials at home…


1. Sort organics to throw in the compost bin such as fruit, vegetables, coffee grounds and egg shells for carbon and dry leaves, newspaper, or cardboard for nitrogen. Do not use meat, dairy, oils or bones in compost.

2. To build your own composter, use a 32-gallon trash barrel and drill several 5/16-inch holes on the cover of the garbage can and up and down the sides for aeration. Use a cordless drill.

3. Add organic matter to the compost bin. It should be a 3:1 ration of carbon items to nitrogen.

4. Finished compost should be ready for use in several months.




A video from “This Old House” that further explains composting…





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