Tag Archives: Life

Swirling, twirling


Swirling, twirling

Hurricane of thought

Unsettling whirling

Chaos of confusion

Twisting, turning

Sleep eluding

Restless, dreamless

Wakeful brooding

Should I?

Could I?

What if?

Or… not?

Sun dispelling deepest night,

Dawn-exploding, shimmering light.

Return my peace,

Serenity of soul.

© Barbara Donaldson, 2017

Dandelion Bouquets


“She’s so slow,” said Tommy with exasperation.

“Hi, Mom!” added the blue-eyed brother.

“Hi,” I responded, “Where are Jimmy and Maggie?”

“Jimmy’s waiting for Maggie. It’s his day,” Tommy said over his shoulder as I watched the two brothers fly down the stairs to the basement.

BAM! The door flew open five minutes later, and in stomped my third son. “Why is she so slow?” Jimmy asked me as he grabbed a chocolate chip cookie off the plate with avocado flowers that sat innocently on the island. “I had to wait forever at the top of the hill.” Then, reaching out his hand, he grabbing the doorknob, opened the basement door, and followed his brothers down the stairs.

“Hi, Mommy,” came a little girl voice behind me, a voice bubbling with excitement. My little-girl daughter eagerly looked up into my eyes, her hand outstretched. A golden ball of dandelions was held securely in her chubby little-girl hand. A warm feeling spread in my heart like hot fudge sauce on ice cream. My eyes lit with a wonder glow as I reached out my hand and gingerly took the offering. Bending down, my lips kissed her rosy cheek.

“Thank you, Honey! They’re so pretty. Let’s put them in some water.” A little dried beef jar became the vase that humbly displayed this sweet gift. No fancy, store-bought bouquet could rival their beauty in my heart.

Now, many years have passed. I look back to those days of childhood innocence when all of God’s creation was delightful and enchanting. I gaze back to my little girl child, my sweet, little girl-child daughter who loved to bring me wilted dandelion bouquets and wild snapdragons with love in her eyes and joy in her heart.



So many whys-

Why do letters make sounds

and sounds make words

and words make ideas

and ideas change the world?


Why does one man love one woman

and why is that woman the one?

Why does that man become the one

to that woman?


Why does love kindle desire

and desire bring babies

and babies grow love?


Why does time go by

and people grow old

and people pass away

and why does time leave us…alone?







Learning Language


Her eyes locked on mine; she became still.  “What is that big story you are telling me?” I asked in a quiet voice pitched a bit higher than normal.

Her brows came together just a bit as she worked to get her lips to make an O shape.  Then, “ooo” she replied

“You’re talking to me,” I answered with a little smile. “Ooo,” I added.

Again, the little brows furrowed.  “Ooo-ooo,” and the corners of her lips turned up.  Her eyes were still locked on mine.

Awe filled me.  Mabel is learning to talk.  This is how language is acquired.  What a miracle.

Some may say that  these were random baby sounds, but I know better.  This was communication between Mabel and me.  She was answering me by trying to imitate the words I was making.   Mabel is learning to talk!

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!



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….

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.