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.





beyond the fog

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!

 Michael and Justin one

  mj six

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?


Shakespeare one

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.



choose love one



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…





soil 2

A Family Tree and DNA. My Heritage. My Family. My Foundation.

ancestry one


Family Trees are unbelievably fascinating to me. I started working on our family tree at least six years ago. I joined on a whim. I had been looking through old family photographs and thinking about…Who were the people?…What did they hope to accomplish in their lives?…When did they marry or did they remain single?…Where did they originally come from?…Why did they look so serious or so happy?…How did they lead their lives?


Who? ? ? 

What? ? ?   

When? ? ?

Where? ? ?

Why? ? ?

How? ? ?


Literally, the basic and the most important questions that journalists attempt to precisely answer are “who”, “what”, “when”, “where”, “why” and the inevitable “how”. These are the first elements of writing that I learned in my first journalism class in college. In trying to figure out the puzzle of a Family Tree, I thought about these questions and how they would give me more information about my relatives. As in any good story, the writer (or in this case…the researcher) needs to figure out what questions are not being answered. The best help can come from photographs and copies of old documents such as census or marriage records.

As I delved deeper into my family history, I knew that I would need new technology and scientific concepts. DNA appeared to be the direct route to the ultimate units of universal information.




The first portion my DNA results from

My Ethnicity Estimate According to DNA Testing…

Europe 100%


1. Great Britain



2. Europe West



3. Ireland


4. Europe East


5. Iberian Peninsula



6. Finland/Northwest Russia

< 1%


7. Scandinavia

< 1%




A second portion of my DNA results from…Genetic Communities.


Genetic Communities™ are groups of AncestryDNA members who are connected through DNA most likely because they descend from a population of common ancestors, even if they no longer live in the area where those ancestors once lived.

For example, some Genetic Communities trace their roots back to groups of people who were isolated geographically. Mountains, rivers, lack of roads, or other barriers made it likely that each new generation would marry someone who lived close to home. Others have their roots in groups who typically married others of the same religion or ethnic group. In each case, these groups came to share a significant amount of DNA. Modern-day descendants who inherited some of that DNA make up Genetic Communities.




My Genetic Communities:

According to, the majority of my relatives lived in the following locations…some for hundreds of years…some arrived in the mid to late 1880s…


1. Settlers of Northwest Alabama

2. Settlers of Western Tennessee, Arkansas & Northeast Texas

3. Early Settlers of the Deep South

Pictured above is the home owned by my great-great grandfather in Nashville, Tennessee… as it looks today….a blue house with a picket fence. The house was built in the late 1880s and is shown in the top right picture in the early 1900s. My relatives are standing in the front of the house. The entry hall staircase evidently looks as new today as it did when the house was built. The house has had numerous owners and is now divided into four apartments. It is located on Park Avenue not far from downtown Nashville, Vanderbilt University and  Centennial Park.



The information concerning my Genetic Communities is totally on target. My maternal great-great grandfather immigrated to Nashville, Tennessee from Oldham, Lancashire, England in the mid 1800s. He was a very young man. My mother grew up in Nashville and I still have relatives who live there. On my father’s side of my family, his relatives lived in Tennessee and moved to Arkansas in the 1800s. My grandfather was born in Hot Springs, Arkansas in the late 1800s. Later, he moved his family to Louisiana and then to Texas. I grew up in Northeast Texas. Through research, I discovered that my paternal ancestors were indeed very early settlers in North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia.



Ancestors. Family. Cousins. Aunts. Uncles. Some that I knew when I was growing up. Some that I am just now finding. My DNA results identified 1,498 4th cousins or closer who are currently living somewhere around the world! Unbelievable!! 


ancestry two

Abstract. Use. Space. Idea. Life and Architecture.


FLW one

The architect brings abstract thought to fruition…to reality. The architect finds a way to combine the beauty of nature with the beauty of life. In a way, we are all the most important architects of our own lives. Unlike professional architects, some of us seem to choose a life without a plan…floundering under the guise of needless procrastination. Some of us have not been introduced to the idea of reality…to the real idea that we have a less than expansive time to create a masterpiece of a life. And yet…we all have that opportunity…should we decide to reach towards that particular choice.

In my own thinking, the word “architect” means the type of person who takes a blank canvas of earth and turns an object…turns a building…turns a dwelling… into a companion to the trees, the sky, the hills, the water.


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A professional architect blends the earth and the building together so that they complement each other. Can you do that with your own life? It takes effort, but you surely can put forth that effort.


flw eight

An interesting article on architecture was written by Steven Holt on “What is Architecture? (Art?)”…and published in “The Brooklyn Rail”.  Holt is considered one of America’s most intriguing and important of currently established architects. He has been widely recognized and honored for his ability to blend space and light with contextual sensitivity.

Holt’s article defines architecture with simply four words:


1. Abstract: Architects work from the abstract to the real. Architecture does have constraints such as safety, function, economy…and yet, it can transcend to inspire with ideas in space and light. 

2. Use: A function of architecture is to inspire. Architecture’s highest “use” is to inspire us.

3. Space: Architecture draws us from one location to the next. It seems that the idea of architecture can surround us like music. Architecture, like life, is the art of space.

4. Idea: Architecture has an idea…a link between concept and form. The idea of space and light and detail convey the art of architecture. This occurs whether or not the organizing idea is really totally grasped.

“This idea is a hidden thread connecting disparate parts with exact intention”…states Steven Holt.


flw quotes

If at first you do not succeed…try again and again and again. You cannot just bury your mistakes in the sand.




In comparing the concept of architecture in constructing a building to the concept of architecture in constructing your life…I believe that we can see a common thread. We need to have a plan, an idea, a concept, an intention…we need to fill our space with light. We need to find a way to be an inspiration to our own part of the world.