On Book Clubs…


I have a wonderful book club now, and I’ve been a member of three other book clubs previously.  The best one is now, and the worst one is the one I joined right after I moved here. 

The funniest one lasted one afternoon, and was a conversation about books read in which none of us could remember the books’ titles, the authors, and the plots.  I wrote a blog on that one called “The Bad Memory Book Club.”  You can go back and read that for a laugh, if you want.

The worst one was a group of people who met at the public library.  Everyone read random books, and then just sort of reported on the book each had read.  The group of people was very nice, and we all got a variety of titles of which we might want to read in the future, but there was no unity, friendship, or refreshments (i.e. wine).

The reason my best book club is the one I am in now, is that…uh…I am in it now.  I loved the retired teachers’ book club that I left back in Arizona.  We’d all taught together for many years.  We had a history and a present.  I am still on their emailing list, and some of them read this blog.  That book club is the prototype for my current one.  Books are chosen for the entire year, assigned a month, a host, and a date, and there you go.


My current book club formed from my neighbor gatherings.  One of the women said, “Let’s have a Book Club!”  If she’s said, “Let’s put on a show, ” we might’ve done that, too, but thank God, it was a book club.  So, we morphed from monthly dinners to monthly book discussions.  Two members moved away, and we absorbed two.  We are a diverse group…ages 40’s to 70’s…married, widowed, and divorced.  All of us live, except one, in the same square mile…well, really less than a square mile.  Some still work, most of us are retired.  All of us are physically and mentally active and compassionate.  All of us practice our own particular crafts, of sorts, in our own way.  Pretty much, all of us enjoy a glass of wine.

We all have a lot to say about the books!  Oh, the books…that is the journey, rather than the destination.



House Love


I have lived in my home for six and a half years, and I love it more everyday.  Oh, I love to spend time with my family in Wisconsin, to travel abroad, to make weekend visits to the Lake and to spend time with other friends scattered nearby.  But I really love being home.

I found my house when I didn’t even know I was looking for it.  My nephew, who was then eleven and is now about to begin his freshman year at UNC-Chapel Hill, and I were taking a walk about their neighborhood.  I suggested we walk around to the street behind his home.  We took the long way, and this is what we saw:

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It was a God moment.  I stopped.  My nephew, rule follower that he is, stood in the driveway.  I, on the other hand, looked in every window that I could reach.  Then I looked again.  We, it took the two of us because I am terrible with numbers, memorized the phone number on the For Sale sign.  We went back to my brother’s house, where I phoned and made an appointment to see the house the very next day.  I went back eight more times until I finally made an offer.

In 2011, things were complicated in the Real Estate market.  Banks weren’t giving mortgage loans readily, and people weren’t buying homes like they had been during the “bubble.”  My house had been empty for a year.  The owner had done some updating, decorating as painting is called, and he was getting eager, or more like anxious.  It is a small house with only two bedrooms and one bath, so it was waiting for the one person who would fall in love with it.  I was approved for a mortgage; my offer was accepted after some back-and-forth, and hoo-boy!  The pieces of my puzzle were falling into place, and God was at my side.

I moved in the day after Easter, and for the first week, I sat in the dark during the evenings.  I didn’t have blinds, shades, or curtains, and I was living alone for the very first time in my entire 62 years of life.  Let that sink in, will you?

Of course, things gradually changed.  I threw myself into making my little house my home.   Every year, since, I have done something to improve my home…a flagstone path in front, a new deck on the back, a garbage disposal installed, new blinds, guttering updates, new storm doors, and a fresh new color on all the exterior doors.  I’ve cozied up the inside, too.  All those wonderful trips with Mom and my sisters and friends to thrift shops and auctions have helped me find items with which to decorate.


My house love has deepened more and more.

Sometimes I call my place ‘The Hokey Pokey Clinic,’ where I turned myself around, or ‘The Hive,’ where I learned ‘to BE.’

Mostly, I call it HOME.







On Squirrel Patrol…


Everyone loves my little dog, Hattie, and she loves everyone.  Well, everyone except the squirrels.  To rid our yard of squirrels is her mission, and she takes her mission very, very seriously.   Dogs need a job.  My sister’s Corgi, Penny, has the job of herding chickens. My neighbor’s dog, Leo, has the job of guarding. Hattie’s job is to make me happy…and to keep the squirrels at bay.


Squirrel patrol works like this:  The squirrels gather at the bird feeder and below.  One squirrel shakes the seed down.  The others call all their friends over for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.  Hattie watches.  When she spots the crowd, she takes off.  Heaven help her if she should ever actually catch a squirrel, although once, she came very close.  It surprised both of us.


My little dog, Hattie, is a rescue dog.  She rescued me from aloneness, which is very different from loneliness. She came to the “Hokey Pokey Clinic, where-I-turned-myself-around” six years ago, and she saved me. The theory is that dogs look like their owners.  If that is true, I am so fortunate to look like Hattie…happy.  She has done her job well.  Actually, she does both of them well.






On Weeding…


Call me crazy, but I like to weed.  On my own terms, but still…

A fine crop of weeds had grown up thanks to a fair amount of rain while I was in Wisconsin.  So the other evening, I pulled my camp stool out from under the house, and I got my weed digging tool, and I started in on the weeds that I had actually mowed earlier in the day.  They were thriving between the flagstones of my front path.


Okay, so perfect weeding conditions:  clear and sunny, a nice breeze, temps hovering mid-seventies, ground nice and soaked, but not muddy.  I had nearly all of those requirements met, and I got going.

Weeding is a mindless task.  It is quiet, except for the sounds of Mother Nature, and maybe a car or two passing by.  It is a job that demonstrates clearly the worker’s  accomplishment. 


It is an accomplishment that lasts, unlike dusting or making a meal.  The dust reappears almost within minutes.   The meal that took an hour or more to make is gone in twenty minutes, with a pile of dishes, pots and pans, and utensils left to be dealt with.  Weeding lasts, well, at least a week.

I like to think when I weed.  I think of all kinds of things…what materials to use with my tutoring kid, what my folks at the farm might be doing at that moment, upcoming visits from friends, what to wear tomorrow, what to eat for supper.

I weeded my front flagstone path.  I had most of my perfect conditions.  I could see clear results.  Call me crazy, but I like to weed.


(The green that remains is actually sedum, which I WANT to grow between the flags.)

Walking the track…


The sky was that crisp blue, Carolina blue, only it hovers in Wisconsin, too.  The air temp was 60 degrees (feels like 58), a nice breeze, a lovely summer morning.  I was walking the track. 


The track is a half mile oval race track on the folks’ farm, used for training horses for harness racing.  There are three race horses…Kenny, Nurse Jackie, and Vickie.  They are jogged everyday, with few exceptions.  Harness racing has been part of this family for at least three generations, maybe more.  Walkers shouldn’t be on the track when the horses are working, and they were already in the barn when I hit the gravel.  I try to walk every day, at least three laps, when I am here. 

That’s not what I was thinking about when I walked the track this morning, though.  I love this time and routine that I have developed on my visits.  Often, I say a rosary, and that is done in two laps…one rosary = one mile.  Good to know.  Often, I write this blog in my head.  Often, I plan for future projects, or just think.  Sometimes I make a phone call home.  Mostly, I just BE.

Track-walking time is pretty sacred.  I’m close to the soil, crops, the birds, and yet, I can look across the fields and see many changes.  When I arrived three weeks ago, the corn was just a few inches tall, and the beans had barely poked through the soil.  Now, the corn is knee high, and the beans’ rows are filled in.  The hay has been cut, baled, and is well on the way to the second cutting not too many weeks from now.  We’ve had heat, and good rains, and it’s cooled down to a couple of perfect weeks, too.


Next time I get to walk the track, it will be winter, and an entirely different experience.  I will still be close to the soil, though it will be frozen ground.  I’ll still be able to look across the fields and see the changes, probably snow-covered.  And I still will just BE.  I have to pinch myself sometimes to know this chance I have to experience this part of family and life is real for me.  And so, Amen.

Nobody Cares About my Spanx…


Horton Hears Herself

It was my 50th high school class reunion.  I know.  I can hardly believe it myself.  When I look in the mirror, I see someone much younger, someone more around the age of 35-ish, rather than someone eighteen…plus 50 years since graduation.  We were “the girls of the 50’s, stoned rock and rollers of the 60’s, and more than our names got changed as the 70’s slipped away,”  giving a nod to K.T. Oslin.  Of course her song is the essence of our youthful times, and not the reality for most of us.

I only went to my graduating high school one-and-a-half years.  That’s not long enough to form lifelong bonds, and yet I did…with a couple of friends with whom I roomed in college.  They are the kind of friends a person can be away from for years, and then meet up, and it be like two class…

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Summer Days…


One of my greatest joys of teaching was to read aloud to my students, and one of my favorite books to read aloud was Charlotte’s Web by E.B.White.  I must’ve read this book nearly thirty times in thirty-eight years, but my introduction to this story was hearing it read aloud myself.

I can still see the twenty-two year-old me in my first classroom, Spring, 1971, Spring Lake, North Carolina.  Most of my students’ daddies were serving in the Air Force or Army, many were Green Berets, in Vietnam. 

At the end of each day, fifth-graders all packed up and ready to leave, glaring overhead lights extinguished, I’d place the needle on the LP vinyl record from the school library, and we’d all be transported by the voice of Mr. E.B. White, his very own self.

My favorite chapter of this beloved book is called “Summer Days,” and this brings me to the point…I love summer days.

I love the early hours lightening up, and being able to sit outside in my jammies with my coffee and book as the day begins.  I love all the birdsongs.  I can’t get over all the different shades of green in the tree canopy.  I like the smell of fresh cut grass, the sturdy stems and vibrant colors of summer flowers.  I’m fascinated by the blue of the sky and the white of the clouds.

At Farmer’s Markets, I’m drawn to the activity, smells, colors of each booth, be it crafts or foods or living plants.  I could spend all day at a Farmer’s Market.


I welcome the warmth of the sun on my old skin, and the rolling breeze that keeps my own personal “air conditioning” system at work.  And counterpoint to that, I appreciate the ground-softening rains that help my weed pulling go more smoothly.  Oh.  I love orange Popsicles.

Yes.  Summer days.  Living them today makes me remember a fine, fine children’s classic.  I gave my copy to one of my grandkids.  I think it’s time for me to replace and re-read.  Maybe I’ll do that outside, my book and glass of wine, on these upcoming summer evenings.  I’ll revisit my old friends, Wilbur and Charlotte, as the day cools and the light sticks around a little longer.