Category Archives: Uncategorized

“God is in His Heaven…”

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Bang! The car door slammed behind me. Turning, my feet stepped from the back parking lot into  the alleyway beside church; I headed toward the front door. The sun shone brightly on my face, warming it.  A smile, the kind with little upturned ends, spread across my face. It feels so good. The breeze, an early-spring kind of warm, played with my wavy, brown hair and tickled my skin.  It feels so good.  

Chirp! Chirp!  Could that be a robin?  Where is it? I asked myself, looking up, down, left, and right.  Where is it?  My little feathered friend was shy and chose to remain out of sight.  

I need to hurry.  I”ll be late. I willed my feet to hurry along.  Then, music and joy and God’s people praising Him.  How great to be alive!  

I ran up the concrete stairs, reached out my hand, grasped the door knob, pulled it open, and entered.  “God is in his heaven, and all is right with the world,”  I quoted to myself.    

Life’s Little Pleasures

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The day has been a peaceful one, full of the pleasures that make my heart happy.  The kind of pleasures that just make life beautiful. First, when I did my Saturday banking, I chatted and laughed with the teller.  I greeted the next teller by name. A smile lit my face as a strode out the door.

Then, my husband and I went to Starbucks for a quick cup of coffee. Before we went in, we stopped to chat with a stranger.  And his two Corgis, one was 7, and one was 3. Strangers connected by a common love for dogs.

As we sat down with our coffee, my husband and I happened to see an acquaintance from work, and we chatted how we ended up in Wisconsin.  It was just everyday conversation about the weather and the merits of living in our community. A conversation where we made a little connection.  I walked out of the shop into the brisk wind with warmth in my heart.

Then, my little, sweet granddaughter came over to visit and showed me how she can toddle across the room now.  Then, “Where is Mabel?” A pink-cheeked face wreathed in smiles, peeked out from behind the table. “There she is!”  More baby giggles. Ah, that is pleasure.

Next, off to the airport to collect my third son and his new bride from their belated honeymoon.  The Florida sun could not match the sunshine that broke across their faces as they told me of their 5th story balcony overlooking the private beach.  Cool weather was not enough to dampen their pleasure in being together or freeze their fun. How wonderful for me to be a willing listener in this happy discourse.

Yes, this was a peaceful day full of life’s simple pleasures! There is a smile and glow in my heart.

My Bags are Packed, I’m Ready to Go

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IMG-3219I’m sitting at my hotel desk eating my breakfast. My mind is not here, though.  I’m already, in my mind’s eye, on the long road home. The congestion and buildings of the city thin.  Little communities with welcoming signs invite me to linger, but I can’t visit now, not now. I’m watching the farmlands, some beginning to green up, some still slumbering in winter hibernation, some churned up, whisking by.  With each passing mile, my heart’s song is a little more joyous, a little more lyrical, a little more liting. Farmhouses, snug and warm, nestled in the land and dreaming of the coming spring, wink at me as I pass. Tall windmills, spinning and twirling high in the air, greet me as I pass.  Pick-up trucks and 18-wheelers and passenger cars join my along the highways, racing beside me as if to say, “You’re almost there! The journey almost is done!” Rivers and creeks, friends with fascinating names, like Kankakee and Potato, give a cheery gurgle as I pass.

I smile to myself, reflecting on my week.  How anxious I anticipated the trip, the learning, the journey!  Oh, and it was so worthwhile. I wouldn’t have stayed away for anything, but now my focus is homeward, my eyes to the north.  

Indianapolis, 35 miles.  Chicago, 95 miles.  Milwaukee 65 miles. The road signs, green, with envy perhaps, count off the miles and guide the way.  Then, there it is, Cedarburg, 4 miles!  And, oh, how long are those last 4 miles!  My eyes sparkle, my pulse quickens, my foot presses the accelerator just a little bit harder.  How the miles creep by! Like a snail running, that is my speed.

My hands turn the steering wheel to the left and then to the right.  My foot gently pushes on the brake. Grabbing the gear, I put the van in park.  I grip the door handle, push open the door, glance up, heart pounding in my chest.  And there, a pair of sea-blue eyes look for me, a familiar grin slides across the face.  Two warm arms reach out and enfold me. I’m home!

catch the teacup

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china teacup falling freely

time slowing down…

shattering, scattering shards

 

salty tears trickling

from eyes, from soul

fingers trembling, trying to undo

 

eyes smoldering, shooting hateful darts

darts piercing, cutting, tearing

my wounded, bleeding heart

   

remorseful words

forgiveness pleading

alas, those ears not hearing

 

sorrowful glances

forgiveness begging

alas, those eyes not seeing

 

hasty words, angry acts

joyful friendships

shattering, scattering

 

tender bonds

kindred spirits

once though one; now are two

 

halt the words

end the hate…

catch the teacup

Achoo!

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Achoo!  Achoo! Achoo!

Harbingers of colds

announce a dreaded virus

will soon be taking hold.

 

Drip, drip, drip.

My nose is running now.

Faster, faster, faster.

How I wish it would slow down.

 

Kleenex dab

and dab

and dab

until my nose is raw and reddish,

until my nose is hurt-y.

 

Please bring more tissues, dear,

the ones with lotion in.

Puffs?

Kleenex?

Any…only let them have the lotion!

 

Throb, throb, throb,

Pounding is my head.

I need quiet,

I need peace,

I need Excedrin.

 

I’ll pay the price; I won’t be nice.

I’ll kill this irksome virus.

I’ll eat the zinc.

I’ll drink the lemon, honey tea.

The tea to soothe,

the tea to coat,

the tea to heal my hurting throat.

 

Friday, Saturday, Sunday

Achoo, achoo, achoo!

Monday, then Tuesday

Oh, my aching head!

So Wednesday’ll be the day for me

to rest and stay in bed.  

Achoo!

I’m an Addict

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I’m an addict.

“To what?”  you ask.

The Great British Baking Show.

About a year or so ago, I watched season one of this baking show on Netflix, but that was all there was.  The other day, my husband commented that he found it again.  Netflix brought back Season 1, and added Seasons 2 & 3.  Hooray!

Honestly, I have been chain-watching the first  half of season 2. I had to hit the pause button on the remote just to be able to think about this slice.  Can you believe I can’t even write with this show in the background?  Usually, I can sit and write and tune out the t.v. if I need to, but not with this show.  I want to learn how the bakers are conquering each new challenge.  What is working and what is not.  I just put my computer back away…

There are many reasons why I’m addicted.  One thing I really like is that the people are amateurs. Not professional chefs.  Just ordinary teachers or builders or grandmothers who love baking. People who bake for their families and friends and co-workers. They get to come prepared on the weekend (a show real people with jobs can participate in) with a “signature recipe” that meets the criteria of the week.  They can demonstrate  their ability with a recipe that they know and love.

Next, there is a technical challenge.  Usually Paul Hollywood or Mary Berry gives them a recipe with  minimal directions.  What do they know?  Do they know this or that technique?  Can they manage their time? What do they know?  They know a lot, and I have learned a lot.  Did you know that English Muffins are made on a griddle?  Did you know that most (it seems) British folk aren’t intimately acquainted with angel food cake?  Did you know that adding fruit to yeast dough can slow down the rising time?  Hmmm…me either.

Last, there is a final challenge.  It is “show stopper.”  It has to be a recipe in the theme that is over the top.  The bakers are so talented and creative.  Have you ever seen a cookie tower made to look like a Swiss lodge?  Or, a Jenga tower of shortbreads?  It’s just plain fun to watch.

In addition to the interesting things I am learning about baking, I also am learning a bit about how Americans view things differently than the British.

  1. British folk don’t seem to ascribe of the American motto of Go Big or Go Home.  Comments by the judges to participants like “Your cake is too big!” make me wonder about myself.  It looked the right size to me.
  2. The judges seem to like everything to be uniform.  “Make 24  bar cookies (that isn’t that British baking term for bar cookies, and it sounded much fancier…but I can’t remember it right now) that are perfectly uniform for this challenge.”  What American cares if the yummy bar cookies are perfectly the same size?  Just give me the biggest one!  What American doesn’t say it is better to be unique?
  3. British bakers seems genuinely interesting in baking for the fun of it.  For the joy of winning the title of  Star Baker, even just for one episode.  The grand prize is a golden spatula, not a new house or a million dollars or a new food truck.  What American would sign up for a show just to show they can do it?
  4. The British bakers have even been caught helping each other in the last stressful minutes of a challenge!  Who would have thought that possible?

I love to bake, but I have learned that baking leads to eating and eating leads to bigger  jeans and more time needed at the gym so I, sadly, have given up most baking.  I think I’m going to change that.  I want to do more than just watch people having fun baking. I want to bake. I’m sure even my “failures” will not go to waste.  (My children already have said they would be quite willing to help dispose of the “cast aways.”” So in my retirement years, I want to adopt a British philosophy.  A British philosophy of baking.  Small is O.K.  Make it beautiful and uniform.  Bake for fun.  Bake it yummy.  Bake to earn the reward from my family and friends of Star Baker!

Hi.  My name is Barbara, and I’m addicted to The Great British Baking Show.

Here Will Be There

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I woke up today, my mind churning with excitement.  In three days, I’m on my way to Ohio State University for professional development.  The other literacy coaches in our district and I are lucky enough to be given the privilege of going. Twice a year.  It is like a spring breeze in the dead of winter.  A time to recharge.  A time to learn new things.  A time to collaborate with others who understand the challenges of being a literacy coach.

I made my to-do list, longer than usual for a lazy Saturday.  What fun I had crossing off item after item.  Wash-check.  Edit Franklin stories-check.  Pay bills-check.  Go to bank-check.  Check, check, check.  Today it seemed like fun and not drudgery-all because soon I’ll be there.

Here I sit near the end of this long, busy day.  Here on the loveseat where I love to write my “slices”.  Here.  Though I struggled to begin; now my ideas are flowing.  The same energy that propelled me through the tasks of the day seems to be making my fingers fly over the keys.  Here I sit.  Here I write.  Soon, here with be there!

 

“A Nest of Robins in Her Hair”

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The silhouetted tree who this morning wore a sparkling sheath of knitted snowflakes and sunlight stood stripped bare and alone in the fading sun.  Sadly, I looked at her and mourned her diminished state, her rich robes so recently lost.  My eyes lifted to her twiggy branches reaching upwards to the darkening sky; vague thoughts of bygone summer days flitted dreamily in my mind.  Verdant leaves whispering to the wind. Chirping friends celebrating life and promise.  Squirrels racing delightedly up and down her trunk, daring her not to laugh with wild abandon.  But now, alas, her glory departed, only a shadow of her former self remained.  Turning to go, an abandoned nest caught my eye.  No, two. No, three.  Three nests in her branches!  Then, unexpectedly, a specter of words wafted in my thoughts…a specter of a poem long forgotten, but deeply loved.  “…A tree that may in summer wear a nest of robins in her hair…”

My melancholy vanished like mist in the sun.  

Trees
I think that I shall never see
A poem lovely as a tree.

 

A tree whose hungry mouth is prest
Against the earth’s sweet flowing breast;

 

A tree that looks at God all day,
And lifts her leafy arms to pray;

 

A tree that may in Summer wear
A nest of robins in her hair;

 

Upon whose bosom snow has lain;
Who intimately lives with rain.

 

Poems are made by fools like me,
But only God can make a tree.