Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Sleepy Puppy

Sleepy Puppy

     I was home sick yesterday, and Cleo, the Great Dane, kept me company in bed all day.  She takes up the entire foot of the bed, and she has her own pillow.  As tall as she is, she always hesitates jumping into bed.  I think right after she jumps up and is standing on the bed, she actually becomes frightened of her own height.  After she settles down, though she is difficult to get out of the bed.  Sometimes my husband gives up and sleeps in the guest room.  Regardless, she was an excellent bed mate yesterday as I sneezed through the afternoon.  

Monday, January 28, 2013

Before Lunch

Before Lunch

The Spring that I was sixteen
sitting in Spanish
before lunch and anxious to see my friends
instead of conjugating "to run"
I looked out the window 
at the Florida sky.

No one planned to take us
outside anymore.
Shuttle launches were
no big deal anymore.

But I looked  just in time to see
the straight line of smoke pop
and turn into a lopsided upsilon. 

In my youthful naivety
I thought surely
there was an escape pod
like in I Dream of Jeannie.
Surely. There had to be.
I could not have just watched
those astronauts die 
just before lunch while avoiding
conjugating verbs in Spanish.  

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Trading Here Since 1972

     The Publix that I shop at is going through a remodel   Because of this remodel, the items have been moved all over the store.  It is driving me a little crazy.  Particularly because it seems to not make sense.  Candy on the same aisle as "I Love Daytona Beach" shirts?  I feel like I am at Wal-Mart where the mushrooms are next to the motor oil.
     But, the changing of aisles is really driving my 81 year-old father over the edge.  "My seltzer water has always been in the same spot and now I can't find it," he complains.  Which is not entirely true because the Publix used to be on the other side of the shopping center, so it could not have ALWAYS been in the same spot.  My favorite is when he bellows, "I have been tradin' here since 1972 and I now I can't find a darn thing!"  Tradin', he actually uses the tern tradin' as if he secured his horse to the post when he went to Publix in 1972. But the really funny thing about that comment is he never set foot in Publix when I was a kid.  My mother and the housekeeper did all of the shopping.  I guess he considers it a personal affront that Publix dared to changer things without consulting him since so much of his paycheck over the years has landed in its cash register.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Coca Cola

Coca Cola

I don't drink
coffee in the morning.
I prefer Coca Cola 
cold out of the bottle.
I am a southerner
whose mamma 
probably put it in her 
baby bottle.

I even drank it
during the New Coke
disastrous phase. 
I can tell you which restaurants
have the best fountain Coke. 
I am a Coca Cola Connoisseur.

So when you ask with a smile,
"Is Pepsi okay?"
I glare at you.

Friday, January 25, 2013

     Tonight was the Volusia County Teacher of the Year Announcement, and a dear colleague of mine won.  I am so proud and so happy that the powers that be chose someone worthy.  The picture I have posted is very blurry because I was very far away; but if you know her, you can see her ears turning red.
     I loved her acceptance speech.  I loved that it was a little sassy,  taking a few digs at our new evaluation model and standardized testing.  My favorite line of her speech went something like...teach with your heart and the rest will follow.  I know that is how Emily teaches.  Her students know she loves them and she teaches them to love learning.  People like Emily remind me of the joys of teaching and why we do what we do.
     Please Lord send our children more teachers like Emily Edwards.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Chicken Salad

Chicken Salad

I will never
how adding
of mayonnaise
makes a salad.

But I do 
slopped together 
with mayonnaise.

Miracle Whip.
What is the 
big miracle 

I wish 
I had
known there were
in this

I would
never have

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Enter to Learn

Enter to Learn

     As a second job I am an adjunct English teacher at Bethune-Cookman University.  When you walk into any building on campus, it says, "Enter to Learn."  It is a Methodist college, so on your way out of every building it says, "Depart to Serve" over the door.  I like both sentiments.  I particularly like the enter to learn reminder   It says, "Hey, we mean business, no fooling around, you have paid your tuition now get busy." Of course, I probably notice this sign more than the students. 

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

The Laundry

The Laundry

    I do not mind washing the clothes.  In fact I like pulling out fresh towels from the dryer and folding them while they are still warm.  I like making the grungy clean, and the smell of Tide detergent reminds me of my childhood.  
     I do not mind sorting the dirty laundry to be washed.  Darks in this basket, lights in this one, all whites in this one so that they get bleached.  For someone whose closet is organized by color and sleeve length, this sorting gives me peace.
     Years ago, my husband enclosed a portion of the garage and ran air condition to it so that I do not have to lug my baskets into the sweltering Florida heat. Which I used to have to do for years.  I would sit inside looking at the sorting baskets until finally I got up the energy to lug one of them to the garage heat.  So, now, I do not mind lugging the baskets to the laundry room.
     However, for some unfathomable reason, I hate putting laundry away.  I will have it all folded neatly in the baskets and just dig through it during the week.  You would think that not having laundry put away would drive me insane.  And, to some point it does.  My week is much more peaceful when all the laundry is tucked away or hanging in its color coordinated spot.  But sometimes I cannot summon the strength to put it away.  I don't know why, but sometimes I hate putting the laundry away.  When I do this,  my smart aleck husband reminds me that I have simply washed the clothes and I have not done the laundry.  

Monday, January 21, 2013

A Day Off From School

A Day Off From School

She stayed in my lap most of the day
while I was 
grading papers
She shot up when I made a sandwich
and crawled in the bed while I ironed
otherwise she stayed warm in my lap
like a huge house cat
I might have heard her purr

She stayed there while a president made an oath 
and while I reached for a tissue 
while a lark sang
My Country Tis of Thee
and while a poet
wrote his words to a nation
while a pop star and her husband
made strange bedfellows
with a Republican and his iPhone

She ignored it all and sighed and snuggled
her long nose under the blanket
in my lap

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Stained Glass

Stained Glass

          I was visiting Tallahassee this weekend, so I visited a Methodist church down the street from my friend's house.  I thought their stained glass behind the Cross was stunning.  It had a weaving vine up the middle and all of the other images were pictorials of land and water.  It was heavy on blue and greens, and reiterated the church's message of "we are the vine." 
     Above the alter in my church is a simple wooden Cross and two small windows close to ceiling.  The view is usually a blue sky and the tip of a tree waving in the breeze.  To me, this view is just as stunning as the stained glass I through today.  

Saturday, January 19, 2013



After watching a post-apocalypse movie
your husband panicked, 
planted a survivor's garden
built a chicken coop
and filled it with a clucking chicken.

The garden bloomed one spring
then shriveled  under the 
blazing Florida sun.
The remains blew away with 
the pine needles of the fall.

But, the chicken coop still stands
and your children love to sprinkle
corn like confetti on the lawn.

Your oldest daughter 
who has the same sense of humor
as her father, named him Nugget.

When the horsemen come riding through town
she will be the first to heat the oil 
in the fryer. 

Friday, January 18, 2013

Road Trip

Road Trip

     I cannot take a road trip by myself without some books on CD.  I spent a good hour last night picking out books for my trip to Tallahassee.
    Part of the reason it took me so long was that not every book is meant to be listened to. I have to be able to flip back in the story when I read a mystery because I am constantly trying to figure it out.  No good on CD.
     I find that Young Adult Literature and nonfiction are good choices.  Hence my A.J. Jacobs and Jerry Spinelli selections.  So far the Spinelli is a fun choice.  I will finish it on my way home, start another, and then purposely drive around in my car so that I can finish.     If I try and listen at home, I start doing little mundane activities while I am listening and then end up not paying attention to the story,  So, I spend gas money on a free book I got from the library.  It is a mini-local road trip!

Thursday, January 17, 2013

A Favorite Place

I love the library. If I had to be stranded anywhere, it would be in the library. When I was little, there was a library in town that was built in an old Spanish home. The floors were dark stained wood and there were three floors. In the children's section there was an old claw footed iron bathtub filled with red velvet pillows. I would curl up with a favorite book snug in that bathtub and read for hours while my mother trudged between the card catalogue and the upstairs reference section.
The home for this library is still standing, and I believe the city of Daytona Beach owns it. I am a little sad that I never made it back by the Cornelia Young Memorial Library before it closed. But, then I think maybe the pure memory of it is sweeter.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Mmmmm Gelati

Mmmmm Gelati

     My husband and I split a gelati tonight after dinner.  It was delicious.  If you have never had a gelati, it is a layers of Italian ice and soft serve ice cream.  The one here is town is pretty good, and we like the mango ice layered with vanilla ice cream.  But, there is a place in Orlando called Jeremiah's and their gelati is fantastic!  They have many more flavors of ice to choose from.  My favorite is the peanut butter ice with chocolate ice cream.  Also at Jeremiah's the layers of ice cream and ice are thinner so that you get a mix of ice and ice cream in every bite.
     At first, I thought a gelati sounded gross, but it is really delightful.  It is refreshing and smooth and creamy.  Who knew?  By the way, do  you appreciate the irony of our bicycles in the background? I don't think we bicycled more calories than the we ate in gelati, but it was a sweet little treat to ride our bikes up to a local ice cream shop in January.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

English Teachers at a Soccer Game

English Teachers at a Soccer Game

between the three of us we know some of the rules
doesn't matter
we came to watch our girls play
the game is a blowout
grossly unfair
the chatter clacks between us
our students
latest read
best lesson
while keeping 
our eyes
our girls
who are trying very hard to win with grace
when the score is

Monday, January 14, 2013

The Catch All Table

The Catch All Table

     Do you think it is time to clean off the dining room table?  I cannot remember when we last ate at the table instead of the counter.  Generally the table serves as my desk during the school year and is covered with stacks of essays that glare at me as I walk by.  But, this time it is covered with my husband's stuff.  His work stuff, his school stuff, and, some of his miscellaneous gear. 
    Seriously, though, where does this smoke alarm go?  I can't find a missing one around the house, and he can't remember.  He swears he did not replace one in the house.  It is a conundrum.  I guess worse things could just appear on my dining room table.  Mystery dirty socks would definitely be worse.  Yet the enigma of a rogue smoke alarm has finally motivated the hubby to clean off this catch all table.  

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Boys and Their Toys

Boys and Their Toys

Really?  A Compound Bow?
It is fun.
I don't get it.
It is a stress reliever.
So is a manicure.
I don't get that. 

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Little Flag Football

Little Flag Football

     I went today to watch my nephew play flag football.  It was the final game and his team was in the winner's bracket.  The Super Bowl of pee wee football if you will.  They lost by one touchdown, and it was a heart breaker   But, the kids soon remembered that they had cake and root beer waiting for them, so the crush of defeat did not last long.
     This morning before he played football, he had baseball tryouts, and next week basketball season starts.  While I sometimes worry that he is a little too busy, I also know that he is ten and discovering his talents.  I also know that the busier kids are they less trouble they are likely to get into.
     My brother can afford to enroll his children in anything they want to try. In fact, I even drove over to Orlando last year to catch a pee wee lacrosse game.  Who knew there was even a kids' lacrosse league anywhere in Florida? My niece and nephew are lucky.  My brothers and I were lucky.  Our parents pushed us to find our talents and try different sports, music, and arts.  How many kids go through life without ever discovering their talents because they are not as lucky as we?

Friday, January 11, 2013

Fun Friday Shoes

Fun Friday Shoes

Red for my allegiance
Converse for my comfort
Every Friday
Like your Chucks, Mrs. Paul

Thursday, January 10, 2013

My Writing Family

     I had a NWP meeting tonight, and it was so good to reconnect with my writing family.  As always, we started with an invitation to write.  Tonight's invitation was about skill versus talent in writing.  My thoughts on this are pretty simple.  A talented writer needs to learn the skills so that she may convey her message to the outside world.  A so-called untalented writer's talent will only have a chance to emerge once she learns the skills.  And, nurturing all of that is an English teacher's job.  As Sir Ken Robinson says, "Even Shakespeare had an English teacher."

Wednesday, January 9, 2013


      I love when students lend me books.  Right now, I am reading the Divergent series because one of my sweet students lent two books to me.  There is no better way to keep up with good young adult literature than to go to the young adults themselves.
     To me lending someone a book is a complete leap of trust.  I am giving you my baby, take care of her.  Don't bend her binding, don't dog-ear her pages, and for goodness sake give her back to me in a timely manner!  And, I had to smile when this young lady lent me the hardback without the paper cover.  I would do the same thing.  In fact I take the paper cover off of all of my hard cover books when I read them.  Readers- we are protective of our children.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013


     Our Great Dane, Cleo.  She is the prettiest dog we have ever owned.  When we take her for walks people always stop us on the street to admire her.  She attracts attention because not only is she gorgeous, but she is huge.  For a Great Dane, she is not actually that big, but the top of her head easily reaches my rib cage.  Her problem is she knows she is pretty and sometimes acts like a "pretty girl."  Often times when I am calling her to come inside, she looks at me and I swear her interior monologue is I am pretty. I don't have to do that.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Back from Break

     Pulled the good old teaching bag out today.  It was time to head back into the classroom after a nice relaxing winter break.  When the alarm went off at 5:15, it was plain awful. Getting dressed for work was almost painful.  I had to keep walking back in to the house because I kept forgetting necessities.  My husband leaning out the garage door, "Hey!  You planning on eating lunch today?"  I completely forgot to grab my frozen cardboard delight and my iPad and my cell phone and my seventy five cents for a Coke at the Circle K.  I completely got out of my routine.
     By the time I pulled into the Circle K, I was completely cranky.  Then as I left (with a 44 ounce Diet coke in hand), the little woman who is always behind the counter at 6:50 a.m. and knows I am a teacher told me to have fun with my kids today.  And that was it.  I remembered that my job is not a job, but a fun place to be with my students.  While I would have loved to sleep in again today, it was so nice to see them (even though many of them had the back from break blues) safe and sound and ready to enjoy their last semester of this year.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Mr. Fix-It

     I grew up in a family where when something broke, we either bought a new one or paid a handyman to fix it.  My father's philosophy was always to throw money at the problem.  He simply did not know how to fix anything, thus we never learned either.  As a matter of fact, I did not know it was possible to fix things myself.
     When I was a kid, we had one hardware store downtown, Dunn Brothers.  While I was fascinated with the huge rolling ladder that swung between vats of nails and screws, I really thought people only bought their new lunchboxes and P. E. uniforms at Dunn Brothers.
     My husband, however, grew up in a more frugal family, and he knows how to swing a hammer and put sweat equity into a home.  I discovered this soon after we were married and moved into our first home.  He decided our living room fan needed a light on it.  I groused that we really could not afford a new fan with a light fixture and installation so soon after the expense of moving.  He looked at me like I had three heads and preceded to tell he was going to install a ten dollar light kit from Home Depot. I was amazed.  And, when he went to turn the light on, I still hid behind the couch sure the light was going to explode when he turned it on.
     Because of my husband's talent for fixing the broken, my father thinks Ken hung the moon.  And, that is why, today, I made three trips to Ace Hardware so that Ken could install a new kitchen faucet for my Father. My father who no longer throws money at the problem but my husband instead.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Fire Bells

hang and sway, but never ring
blazing to the eye, but not the touch
you are drying in the winter wind,
and I wonder why I used to run
when my brother chased me
swinging you like fire

Friday, January 4, 2013

Brazilian Pepper

     This Brazilian pepper tree is the center of my backyard.  On a gloomy, rainy, windy day like today, the pepper tree sways with the beauty of a ballet dancer with the small glossy leaves twirling on the branches.  It is a beautiful tree.  It grows easily and survives the roasting heat and the occasional Florida freezes.  Unfortunately, that is what makes this tree evil.  It is not ingeniousness to Florida, and it overtakes everything in your yard if you let it. Vines from its roots show up in my front yard.  I know it is going to cause problems with our pipes at some point.  My husband begs me to let him chop it down, but I just can't.  It is too beautiful no matter how dangerous it is.   

Thursday, January 3, 2013


Sniffle, snarffle, sneeze
in the night he whispered his cold to me
masked as a snore.
In the morning
I awoke 
 tight and a tickled in the throat..
By noon two boxes of Puffs 
were sacrificed like
wet clouds to the trash.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

The Boat

     This is Annie. Also known as Anna Banana, Banana Boat, and The Boat.  She came into our lives two years ago.  She crawled out of the woods, near death, and landed on my in-laws' porch.  It was the day after Christmas, and they were headed to the mountains.  My tender-hearted husband could not handle the thought of a poor dog left to fend for herself on a night when it was supposed to be in the 20's.  He drove the two hours north and picked up this poor flea covered creature.  It was late in the evening, so we had to take her to the emergency vet.  Between a two week long "hospital" stay at our vet and the emergency vet, Annie ended up costing more than buying a purebred from a fine breeder.
     She has been worth every penny.  She is fiercely protective and has become our Great Dane's playmate. She does not like many people, and we figure that because of all of the scars on her, she had to fight for everything since she was a puppy.  But, she is one of the most loving dogs I have ever had.  She likes to snuggle up under me whether I am reading, sleeping, or working.  She follows me wherever I go, and if she had her choice, she would get in the car with me every time I leave the house.
     My brother gave her the name Annie as in Little Orphan Annie, and we are happily her Daddy Warbucks.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

My Southern New Year Dinner 
     Have to have hoppin' john which is basically black-eyed peas and and rice.   It is a requirement to eat black-eyed peas on New Year's day for good luck throughout the year. Often, I have thought of opening a can to eat in July for a refresher of good luck.  Next, we always have my husband's favorite meat, ham.  We do not do the sugary spiral ham.  We do the salty country ham. I pretty much overcook it on a low temperature and it comes out perfectly every time.  Plus the whole house smells like ham all day!
     The cornbread is a staple, but I make mine moist with a good splash of rosemary.  My grandmother's cornbread was always crisp with cracklins of bacon speckling the outside crust.  She had a special cast iron pan for making cornbread sticks.  She would put the pan in the oven and let it get super hot.  Then, she would pour in bacon grease and then the batter.  It would all delightfully sizzle and almost bake on the spot.  My rosemary cornbread is completely different, but it still reminds me of her.  It makes me think how this is the first year I will be completely without her.  Funny how a simple dinner can do that to a person.
January 1, 2013

     So, I have decided to statr out the new year by starting to blog.  My plan is to post a picture and write every day.  Sometimes the writing will be related to the photo, and sometimes it will not.  The photos are more of a photographic diary of 2013 for me.  The genres of my writing will probably range depending on my mood and the weather.  I do not want a lot of rules here.  I just want to try and write every day like I used to in my younger days.  But, I am not going to beat myself up if I do not make it every day.  While writing is a disciplined event, it is also something I enjoy that I do not want to be a chore.  Also, be prepared.  I am a terrible typist and may not always have time for a good proofread.  And, be prepared for many pictures of my dogs, food, and the beach. Well, here goes...