Monthly Archives: March 2017

Good-bye, Faithful Old Friend


Today, I said good-bye to my faithful friend, Gracie Ellen. I petted her head, her fur still soft and golden. Her eyes, dim with age, glanced up at me as tears rolled down my face unabashedly. I thought about all the joy she selflessly gave to me through the years as I said good-bye. I knew it was her time. I cried as I kissed her and told her I loved her. I left for school. My grown sons and husband cried with me. Would she be there when I returned?


I met her 15 years ago, less 3 months, at a farm up north. Two tiny puppies were laying in the hand of the farmer. Both, with eyes still closed and almost hairless, cuddled together. One sleeping quietly, the other half-lying on her sister and whimpering for her mother. “We’ll take the sleeping one,” I announced without consulting anyone else in the family. I knew about dogs that sat on their siblings, and I wasn’t going through that again. A pink satin ribbon was all that recorded the choice.

On the way home, we debated her name, but Gracie Ellen seemed so perfect for her that that was that. After all, when the kids started praying for a dog, my mom wisely warned me to start praying for “a good dog.” And so I did! And that is how Gracie Ellen got her nickname, “the prayed-up pup.”
Two weeks later, the puppy was weaned and riding in her crate (so gigantic then) in the back of the burgundy and tan Suburban. All the kids were with us, all happily chattering about the new puppy. The first night, she whimpered so pathetically that my husband moved her into our room and put his hand on her all night. That was all it took. After that, she was a part of the pack and didn’t long for her former life.

I was skeptical about dogs, after all, our last dog was a real rascal and was not that enjoyable. But this little fluffball won my heart when, out in the back yard, she came running over as fast as her little legs could carry her, straight to me, with a humongous stick in her mouth. It must have been 3 times her size! Who couldn’t love a little puppy like that?

Then, that was the hard, thesis year. It was my first year back working full time after staying home for 18 years being a full-time mom. It was the last year of my master’s program, too. It was unbelievably hard. I’d wake up at 2:00 in the morning, get up, and work on my assignments, and later, my thesis. My little friend was never too busy or tired to come over and cuddle up on my feet, keeping them warm and giving moral support. We had a special bond after that.

In the summer, she’d be tethered to my belt as I hung up laundry in the summer breezes. Later, no tether was needed as we worked together to hang out the wash. A full laundry basket on one hip, and Gracie on the opposite heel. She’d lay patiently in the shade while I finished my work, and then get up and trot back in with me. We made a pretty great team.
Of course, the kids were part of her pack, and they’d often be seen playing together. Like the time the kids hitched her up to the scooter and had her pull them around the block. Or, the time she went up the ladder of the play house just to be with them. She came down the slide after them, too.

You’d think swimming would be an instinct with Goldens, but no. Not for Gracie. Whenever she tried to swim and her feet left the bottom of the lake, she panicked! Frantically splashing and paddling and with terror-filled eyes, she’d quickly return to shore. That wasn’t the life for her. Until one day…she saw a stick splash out a little ways from shore. She swam after it, retrieved it, and wanted more and more and more. After that she loved swimming so much that one time, she took off swimming without waiting for us to throw the stick! We thought she was going to swim all the way to Michigan! Off came my husband’s shoes as we kept throwing stick after stick and calling for her to come back. Getting ready to rescue Gracie, my husband started in. At the moment, Gracie saw the splash of a rock in her periphery vision and turned toward the splash. Then, she saw the next stick we threw. Retrieving it, she proudly swam to shore, much to our relief. She had found her calling in life! She was a Retriever!

Gentle and intuitively knowing, my mother-in-law (and the other elderly people in the care center) felt the joy of having my 80 pound Golden Retriever gently put her head in her lap to be petted. How did Gracie know to be so careful and gentle? How did she know that Grams had arthritis and was in pain?

Whenever a stroller went by with a little baby or toddler, gentle Gracie would sit quietly while they squealed and petted and pulled her ears or hair. No growling. No nips. She knew. She knew to be careful.

Then there was the time when we thought she was dying. How did we know? She stopped wagging her tail, stopped looking up with her doggy smile. Something was wrong. She had her head on my lap as I cried and cried, thinking this was the end. She just looked up at me with her chocolate, eye-liner eyes as if to say, “I”m sorry it hurts.” Happily, that time, we cheated death with surgery for her. But, that “near-death-experience” served to spoil her rotten. Mischievous, but generous children, would slyly slip her some table food. A bite of pizza, a piece of hamburger, a part of a cookie. She never ate so well. She never got table food before! “After all,” they’d say, “she almost died!”

I could write and write and write happy little vignettes about Gracie and me and the family. This could be a novel. I hope you see why I have to write, to let you get to know, in some small way, this friend of mine. She was the best dog ever. I still say it was because she was a “prayed up pup.” Maybe it the love, too. All the love she kept giving and giving and giving. We loved her in return, but I think it was only a paltry down payment compared to what she gave to us. Our lives were so rich, and still are with the beautiful memories and selfless love she gave us!

Good-bye, faithful, old friend. I miss you!

Gracie loved the snow. She also loved to stand in the yard with her nose pointed into the wind and smell all the wonderful outdoor smells.

Gracie loved to ride in the car with her head out the window, and her ears flying like the wings of a plane.

What Says the Robin?


What says the robin to welcome Spring?
Tweet! Tweet!
Isn’t she sweet?

What says the leaf to welcome Spring?
Rustle, rustle!
See how they bustle.

What says the squirrel to welcome Spring?
Scamper, scamper!
Look how they do pamper.

What says the grass to welcome Spring?
Swish, swash!
Look, a stroller so posh.

What says the cricket to welcome Spring?
Chirp, chirp?
Do I hear a burp?

What do we see? What do we see?                      Mabel in Stroller
Baby out on her first stroll.
Baby out to greet the spring.
Could it be?
Oh, can it be?

What says Baby to welcome Spring?
Coo, coo, coo!
I’ll grow and grow
Strong and true.

What sings Spring, her soft reply?
Hush-a-bye, hush-a-bye,
Hurry on home!
Hush-a-bye, hush-a-bye,
Hurry on home!

Phone Poems


2 – Phone poems
6 – Seemed quite easy when I began.
2 – Not now.

3 – Now I’m stuck,
7 – Words won’t come in correctly numbered phrases.
6 – I’ll keep trying, won’t give up.

6 – One, two, three, four, need more….
8 – Five, six, seven, eight; this slice’ll be late!
6 – Phone poems are fun now that
2 – I’m done!



Sadness envelops me like a shroud.
Gloom glues my soul-feet down
Heavy and mucky and leaden
Unable to skip or spin or dance.

Melancholy settles in my heart like a weight,
Sorrow saps my strength
Sapping joy and laughter and bliss
Sapping soul sunshine like foggy morning mist.

Clock Watching


7:30 A.M.

Clicking on the gmail envelope, my email opened. There was a notification reminding me of the get-together after school. Yes, I’m glad I’ll be going. It’s Friday, and I’m glad.

4:45 P.M.

I lifted my eyes to the clock on the wall. Quarter till five. Hoping my splitting headache would go away, I lifted my fingers and firmly massaged my temples. That book order took forever. Why was it so difficult the get that quote? It had been over an hour, and the clerk on the other end of the phone line had wanted me to give her every ISBN number. Aren’t they supposed to just be able to click on a title to order it? I wondered. Well, that was the last of the money that had to be spent by Monday anyway. Well, except for $4.24. The students will LOVE these books! A satisfied smirk broke out on my face. I can’t wait for the orders to come in. I guess, in spite of the frustration, it really was fun. Picking out books that my students loved when I was a Reading Recovery teacher was fun! Thinking about how wonderful it will be when these books are in the hands of guided reading group readers, my smile broadened.

Then, the lightbulb went on in my mind. Four forty-five! I’m supposed to be at that get-together. Is still there? Already 45 minutes late. Ugh! Why didn’t anyone stop in to remind me? Oh, yea…I was on the phone. I had been planning to leave right when the bell rang, but I got so distracted by that order that took so much longer than expected. I quickly gathered up my things, mentally noting that I’d be coming back the next day, and pushed the lock button on my office door.

Cl-click! Cl-click! Cl-click!  The car turned right into the restaurant’s parking lot. What luck! A parking space close to the door. I pulled in, jumped out of the car, and ran inside. There they are! They’re still here. I hurried over to where the teacher group was standing around chatting and watching the big screens. Fifty-eight to 58, our high school was tied in overtime in the first game of the state basketball tournament since 1999. Small talk mingled with the cheers and gasps of teachers as we watched our team finish overtime. Then, double overtime. Oh, to be young and have their enthusiasm. Claps and cheers! A three-point shot and then a blocked shot. We win!
Little conversations, some about work, some not, fill the air. I feel a little lighter connecting with colleagues.

6:05 P.M.

“I can’t believe how the time flew,” I said as I glanced at my wristwatch and reached out to grab my coat.  I need to make more time for this….

4:55 A.M. Comes Early


Four fifty-five comes early. A little bit, or a lot a bit, early by my way of thinking. Darkness, like a cloak, still covers the world when we leave the house. Fortunately, the bitter cold of deep winter is in the rear view mirror as the car pulls out of the driveway.

“Day 3,” I muse, “Why did I ever agree to this?”

One part desire to get in shape, I guess. Two parts, love. That I do know. My two grown sons who have returned through the revolving door to our home after college, asked me, or hinted really, to join them in going to the gym in the morning. What grown-up, young men want their mom to go with them to a gym? Not too many. So, of course, I had to say yes.

So, when I hear the buzz of the alarm, I drag my sorry bones out of bed and slip on my exercise clothes, all laid out nice and neat in the bathroom. Opening the bedroom door as quietly as possible, I attempt not to waken my husband who still slumbers peacefully in bed.

“Have fun,” comes the gravely voice, in spite of my best efforts.

“I will. Thanks,” I reply. Well, I thought he was still asleep.

Down the stairs I go.

“Hi, Barbs! Ready to go?”

The Paradox


Things I Dislike

  1. Cleaning the bathroom-With boys, so needed!
  2. Cleaning the pets’ bathrooms-the litter box, the backyard, the fishtank…
  3. Cooking after a long day at work-Let’s face it; I’m just plain tired.
  4. Making cake when I’m on a diet- Sabotage 101
  5. Dieting-Weight Watchers, Whole30, counting calories, grapefruit, you get the idea.
  6. Cleaning the house before a vacation-Why do I do this?  Do you? My mother trained me well.
  7. Flossing my teeth daily-The dentist’s bi-annual reminders finally guilted me into doing this.
  8. Prepping for professional development-When I used to just attend PD, I never thought much about the prep that went into the presentation; now I know the truth…so many hours to plan and plan and plan, then so many more hours to check and recheck and double check to make sure everything is perfectly set.
  9. Washing my hair-This seems such a time sucker!
  10. Organizing my desk-Who has time for this?? It is just a mess again in five minutes flat!

Things I Like

  1. A clean bathroom-There is nothing so wonderful as a sparkly, clean-smelling bathroom.  The fixtures don’t even have one water spot!
  2. The aroma-free air after cleaning the pets’ bathrooms-Couldn’t I train the pets to do this job?
  3. The “Thanks, Mom” I hear after my family finishes the evening meal-And often, the “That was good!”
  4. Shining eyes in the candlelight as we sing Happy Birthday to you-What are a few extra calories anyway?
  5. Fitting into my clothes and feeling good about the way I look-The way is long and hard, especially at my age!
  6. Coming home from a vacation to a clean house-Besides, I would be totally embarrassed if the Fire Department or a robber came in when I was gone!
  7. Being cavity free every six months!-This was a hard one for me because I have naturally great teeth.  I am happy I have this healthy habit.  My kids now floss daily, too.
  8. Finishing a PD and knowing I did my very best-There always are glitches, though.  I have learned it is OK not to be perfect.
  9. Clean, fresh-smelling hair-I love it when my husband says, “Your hair smells good!”
  10. An organized desk-This is so amazingly hard for me.  I never seem to have enough time, but I am trying to get better at this.

The Paradox

You can see my paradox:  The things I love take the effort of the things I do not.





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.



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.  


The N0-Snow-Day Day

The no-snow day day

The No-Snow-Day Day

The snowflakes swirl and laugh and play.

While inside, here I sit.

The snowflakes run along the wind

And wave up to the sky.

And all the while, I’m stuck  inside,

inside hard at work.

Reading, ‘Riting, ‘Rithmetic

Have no appeal to me.

It is outside I want to be

To run and laugh and play.


The snowflakes tire and sit to rest

Upon the cold, white ground.

The snowflakes seem to wait for me

To don my woolen mitts.

Here inside I have to stay,

The teacher reads a book.

“What do you think about this book?”

She asks me after while.


How can I tell her what I think?

How can I let her know?

I’d rather be outside right now

And playing in the snow!



The Joy of Lingering


Today, I lingered. It was quite by accident, you know, how I lingered today. Spring forward, home from travel, oversleeping, coffee.

No alarm was set; I overslept. The clocks sprang forward; I did not. I was tired from traveling. I have a cold…or the flu. I haven’t decided yet which. With sand still in my eyes, I glance at the clock…only 15 minutes until church starts. I won’t get there in time. Impossible. I resign myself to staying home. I’m old-fashioned in my relationship with God; I like to “assemble” myself together with other Christians on Sunday mornings. The singing and worship and listening draw me closer, recharge my batteries, fortify me for another week. This week, this is not to be.

Instead, I get ready for the day.

In the shower, I formulate my thoughts for my daily slice: “I Don’t Want to Slice…Yet Here I Am.” How appropriate that will be after yesterday’s poem about struggling to find a topic. It will be fast. I’ll connect it to “I don’t want to floss my teeth everyday, yet here I am doing it.” I have more great ideas like that! It will be fast; I’ll crank it out and check that off my list on this busy day. (A concert, cleaning, preparing for the work week after being out of the loop all last week…) Contentment floods me. I’ll get that done right away.

Padding down the carpeted steps, coffee will surely taste good this morning. I need it to focus. Then, that rich, coffee aroma fills the air. Could It be? Yes. Someone has a pot brewing! As the door swings back and forth, I turn and see it’s true. The coffee.

“Hey, Mom, can you bring me a cup of coffee?” asks my 25 year old son. He’s tucked all snug in the big overstuffed, green chair under my new birthday afghan. His wild morning hair spikes in all directions; his voice gravelly, I know he just got up, too.

“Sure. Do you have enough for me to have a cup?”


I pour the coffee-one large cup for him, one small cup for me. Walking into the family room, freshly vacuumed, I hand him the dark brew. I sit down on the loveseat, in my spot. I’m becoming more like my dad everyday.

My fingers curl around the retro cup; the warmth greets each finger; I breathe in the fragrant aroma. We begin to chat. “How did you sleep?” “How was work last night? I’m sorry you missed your sister’s birthday dinner.” “Do you work today?”

I don’t jump up. I linger. The chat meanders on. The chat rounds the bend from the everyday to the philosophical: politics and religion and his thoughts on life. We discuss the world and the family and the past and the present. Still, we linger. How sweet this discourse. Things my mother-heart yearns to know, it learns as I linger.

Today, I lingered. I linger still on the words that are wrapping around my heart and warming it still. Today, I lingered.  Today, I found joy.

Dear friend, make time to linger…