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a quote from my favorite author

“The most solid advice, though, for a writer is this, I think: Try to learn to breathe deeply, really to taste food when you eat, and when you sleep, really to sleep. Try as much as possible to be wholly alive, with all your might, and when you laugh, laugh like hell, and when you get angry, get good and angry. Try to be alive. You will be dead soon enough.”

-William Saroyan, The Daring Young Man on the Flying Trapeze

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Everyone Deserves a Tiki Torch


On the season finale of The Middle, Frankie (the mom) buys a tiki torch to turn the backyard into a summer paradise only to be smacked in the face with the realization that each of her three children have huge hurdles to overcome in order to finish the school year before her summer paradise can be fully enjoyed. 

Well, although I feel her pain, with two of the busiest, most labor intensive weeks of the school year yet to face, this weekend my husband and I “bought the tiki torch” so-to-speak. 

These are just a few of the “tiki torches” that turned an ordinary yard into our backyard paradise: 

our dog Aurora snagging some shade underneath the Adirondack chair

our dog Roosevelt acting like he is a real dog (instead of the prissy princess he really is) by lying in the grass

our hybrid poplar trees swishing in the breeze, creating the sound of ocean waves or a seashell cupped to an ear

sunlight and a sweeping breeze that made shadows dance on the fence

and I couldn’t resist adding one “front (side?) yard paradise” picture of Duck Daddy who comes around (usually accompanied by Duck Mommy) to snack on the dropped birdseed from one of our many feeders

Here’s to finding your own tiki torch!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

As Promised…



Sadly, these two (three?) mistakes in apostrophe usage came from within my current school district.  I would love to say that these are the result of some home schooling run amok, but I would be fooling myself. 

Every time I walk past the banner in the display case in the main hallway in my school that reads “Inferno Schedule: Febuary…” I shake my head in dismay.  If the thing wasn’t encased in locked glass, I would have corrected it long ago.  I have brought it to the attention of the Powers That Be multiple times, but apparently the standards we hold for our students don’t apply to staff.  It may sound crazy, but every time I see it, I picture this fictitious scenario: a parent who brings her child to our school cafeteria one evening to participate in the Boy Scouts program that utilizes our school as a venue sees that banner, shakes her head, makes a clucking sound, and says to herself, “and that is why I home school my child.” 

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

My Other, More Exciting Self


“For the first time in his life, he got up every morning with something to look forward to.  Leslie was more than his friend.  She was his other, more exciting self—his way to Terabithia and all the worlds beyonds.”
-from Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson


Years ago, my friend Dena gave me a collage with this quote in the center.  Recently, I found a giant read-aloud edition of the book and gave it to her son (who is only 5 now) for her to read with him one day.  I gave it to him in hopes that he will one day have a friend who is as valuable to him as his mom is to me. 

I meant this sentiment, but I had no idea how deeply I meant it until the day I gave her the book. 

Although we grew up near each other in Illinois, Dena now lives in Minnesota.  Because her parents live nearby, I still get to see her fairly often when she visits them. Most recently was her trip during Easter weekend.  That Saturday, she asked if we could take a walk together. 

I have a new nature path behind my house, so she came over and we hit the trails.  We walked.  We talked.  We reflected.  We laughed.  We stopped dead in our tracks to allow two deer to cross the path in front of us to join their herd of seven breathtaking companions.  And we continued walking, talking, reflecting, laughing. 

There are a rare few friends I have with whom I am truly myself.  Dena is one of them.  She reminds me who I am.  She grounds me and helps me stay centered in the midst of my crazy life.  Sharing that walk with her not only made me feel reconnected to her, but it reminded me of my high school self, who used to walk and talk with Dena around the outdoor track during physical education classes.  Walking with Dena is the closest thing there is to walking with me. 

Everyone deserves someone to be their other, more exciting self—their way to Terabithia and all the worlds beyond.  Everyone deserves a Dena.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Overexposure [I’ll let you decide if I mean the sun or the students]


“Ms. Rush, did you get a sunburn?” 

I was expecting the question, so I was ready, “Yes, but only on this side of my face [insert sweeping gesture over right side of face here].”  I figured if I said it first, I would avoid being told that my sun exposure was unbalanced. 

“Where did you go this weekend?”

“My backyard.”

 [insert perplexed teenage facial expression here]

“Yes, the sun shines in my backyard.  I am pretty sure it shines in your backyard as well.”

“How long were you out there?”

“Not all that long.  It doesn’t take much for my pale skin to burn.”

“Why is only one side of your face red?”

“I guess it is the way I was sitting.”

“Why did you sit that way?”

[insert annoyed “Really?” teacher facial expression here]  Gotta love 8th graders at the end of the school year.  They are so…raw and, well, honest.