Not bad for a fat girl

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Free Write!

So right now we’re in the middle of writing camp (almost, it’s day four of ten) and it’s free writing time, which means time to writ about whatever we want. We have lots of pieces started, and we can go back and flesh them out, or revise them, or begin again. Or… we can ignore them all together and work on something completely different. Something new, perhaps. Maybe a blog post, even? Why yes! Even a blog post.



These kids are hard at work on stories, character sketches, setting descriptions, responses to poems, and stories, stories, stories! They are going to town with their ideas, and it’s a beautiful thing to witness. Two of the three sisters are collaborating on a piece, sister number three is writing near, but not with, her new friend. The teen who we’re not quite sure we’re reaching, is scribbling away, and she doesn’t have her earbuds in! The boys have each staked out their own territories and are hard at work, and the one with the tiny attention span… well, she’s changed spots and decided that she HAS to have her bag of junk with her, but she’s writing too, at least a little.

Writing is hard work, so sometimes we need permission to just play. We did that today too, by writing all over the sidewalk. The kids brainstormed messages before we did it, so they had a plan in mind before they got the chalk in their hands. Once we got to our chosen spot they swarmed. I wish I had a hidden camera to record people’s faces as they read the quotes and words of encouragement our kids wrote. One of my favorites:


Wow. I hadn’t heard that quote before, and I can’t find where it originated, but I sure do like it. Listen to these kids, they have a lot to say.


Random Stuff My Dad Used to Say

My Dad was an unusual man. He had many interests and would plunge into projects and hobbies full force, sometimes to the dismay of my ever tolerant mother. He built a greenhouse out of lumber and plexiglass in our backyard, and he set up a firing range for pistols in our basement. He was not your typical medical doctor next door in the suburbs. He was made of slightly different stuff. He was well educated and quirky and truly one of a kind.

My dad had so many sayings it would be impossible to compile them all here, but I want to share a few of them in honor of Father’s Day. Some of these make me laugh, others make me cringe, but they all passed my father’s lips many many times.

If wishes were horses, beggars would ride.

I like that one. I didn’t really get it at first, but he patiently explained to me that just wishing for something won’t make it so. Anyone can wish, but you have to act on those wishes in order for them to come true. Oh… you mean, like, work? Yep. Work.

typography-quotes-inspiration-027A  journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.

Ok, so this one isn’t his. Apparently Lao Tzu said it about a billion years ago, but it stuck with my dad and now it sticks with me. It’s much like the one about eating an elephant, but Dad never said that one. He would be opposed to eating elephants. Anyway, this saying is another one about working toward your goals. No matter how big our dreams are, we will only reach them if we begin to follow the path that leads to them. Suck it up, take chances, and go for it. That last part is mine, not Dad’s.

Give time time.

Huh? In the later years of his life, my dad became very ill, primarily with Parkinson’s but he had other health issues as well. This became his go to quote during his declining years. I guess it means slow down. He had to slow down (he was never speedy to begin with), so maybe this quote was to remind himself that it’s ok not to rush. It’s ok to take the time you need to accomplish what you’re attempting. I’m still not sure about this one. Maybe with time I’ll understand it better.

Buy only what you need.

And we have just entered the land of irony. If “need” means 23 miniature brass cannons, 74 glass paperweights, and 6 garden hoses, then he nailed it. This man who preached a frugal lifestyle had a penchant for collecting things. As I mentioned earlier, he had varied interests, so he had varied collections to match. He was a regular in the gift shops of the art and science museums, and after his retirement he became a darling of the local estate sale agents. They would even put items aside for him. An entire bookcase full of antique family Bibles is one result of that particular obsession.

Bibles weren’t the only books he was passionate about. He had a huge library and he read every word of every book that he brought home. He would sit up in bed and underline passages and make notations in the margins and add in newspaper articles about the author or the topic. Each of his books on art, history, religion, philosophy, botany, nature, and politics received similar treatment. He loved the Time Life books, subscribing to several series including one on the Old West and another on Anthropology. At dinner he would share his learning with us, and challenge us with “penny questions” both about his topic, and about current events. My brother and I wanted those pennies! They were like gold coming from my dad.

My dad was one of a kind, and he taught me many lessons, both formally and through his example. He could be charming or irritating, suave or abrupt, cuddly or prickly. He was complex, multi-faceted, and exceptionally intelligent. He was a lot of things, but above all, he was my Dad.

Happy Father’s Day, Daddy. I miss you.





Daily Prompt: The Golden Hour

“You can’t hoot with the owls and then soar with the eagles.”night owl

This quote, attributed to Hubert Humphrey, vice president under Lyndon B. Johnson, is displayed prominently on my mother’s refrigerator. It shares space with, “A moment on the lips, a lifetime on the hips,” and a warning not to eat processed meats, which have not been a part of her diet for as long as I can remember. I guess better safe, than sorry.

Personally I don’t agree. With any of it. I also don’t agree with covering your refrigerator in quotes, clippings, and inane magnets, but that’s another story all together.

Let’s get back to the owls and eagles thing. I have to assume that once upon a time it made sense for human beings to wake with the sun and sleep in the darkness most of the time. Of course it would have depended on what old homo sapiens was up to. Planting and tending crops required daylight, while hunting might have been a better activity for twilight or later, depending on the prey.

I think we’re pretty much past all of that. Like it or not we live in a more or less 24 hour world now, at least in much of the world. We’re globally connected, so working across times zones frequently means that we’re connecting to one another at different times of the day and night.  We also have far fewer restrictions on our activities based on time of day. You can buy your groceries, wash your car, or watch your favorite soap opera at 3 am if you desire.

Still, the whole world isn’t operating on the 24 hours open model. I’m a school teacher in a traditional school. The morning bell rings at 7:55 and by gum I better be ready when it does. In order for that to happen, and all of the things that lead up to it to happen, I have to be up by 5:25. It is unholy. Still, there are alternatives starting to emerge, such as online schools that operate with different schedules.

The world is moving away from the nine to five model. More people are telecommuting and more employers are recognizing that flexible scheduling can increase productivity, as our world economy continues to shift from manufacturing based to information based.

As for me, I’ve always thought that if I could go to bed at 2 am and wake at 9 am I would be at my most productive. Over the years, though, I’ve started waking earlier and earlier. Too many 5:25 alarms have warped my inner timepiece. Soar with the eagles, huh? Honestly, I’d rather be back in the nest.

6:00AM: the best hour of the day, or too close to your 3:00AM bedtime?