Saturday, March 31, 2012

Saturday Snapshot -- Vines and Flowers

To participate in the Saturday Snapshot meme post a photo that you (or a friend or family member) have taken then leave a direct link to your post on Alyce's blog At Home With Books. Photos can be old or new, and be of any subject as long as they are clean and appropriate for all eyes to see. How much detail you give in the caption is entirely up to you. Please don’t post random photos that you find online.
Yesterday afternoon, it was colder in my house than it was outside as the temperature hovered around the high 60s. I called my friend Sheila and we went for a meandering walk through our small town. As we rounded the top of a hill, we saw a charming house with a metal balcony and vines just turning green as they climbed the walls. In front of the house stood a flowering pink tree.

Although you couldn't see it, on the right side of the house was a small pond. It was like a little secret garden house.
I also stood underneath a blooming tree and took a shot straight up.

Then I took a self portrait under the tree, wondering if the pink blossoms would give a soft lighting effect.

What do you think?

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Passing of a Landmark

I woke up at 4:15 this morning and lay in bed thinking about all the things I need to accomplish. Finally at 5 I got up, made myself a cappucino and here I am avoiding that list of things by writing a blog post instead.
Still, something important has happened: Our local Caribou Coffe is closing.
I'm so sad.
I know it's a chain, but it seems like a fairly reputable chain. They are 100% Rainforest Alliance certified -- whatever that means. They give me 50 cents off when I bring in my own cup.
Here we are sitting outside Caribou on New Year's Day.

It's a place we walk to at least once a week.
Caribou is closing because a local restaurant offered twice the rent that Caribou is currently paying. I hate that restaurant. Yes, I resent it because it drove Caribou away, but the two times I've been to that restaurant, bad things happened. Once Earl and I went and he bit into something metal in his food. (I'm not sure why we didn't sue them. Then maybe they wouldn't be able to afford to take over the Caribou space.) The other time I went to the restaurant with a bunch of girlfriends and a waitress spilled an entire Coke down one friend's back. (You remember that don't you, Stephanie?) To apologize, they offered her a cellophane wrapped cookie rather than offering to pick up her check. This place obviously has no people skills.
Even before we moved here, I spent a lot of time in Caribou. That's where I started retreating in the early mornings with my laptop. I wrote my first two books tucked into a corner at Caribou, sitting on the hard wooden bench, listening to the whirr of the coffee bean grinder.
I can still taste the creme horn pastry that I used to buy as my fingers tapped away, creating characters like the homeschool mom Annie who sold her minivan and ran away to Europe with her three kids. Or the two women, Jess and Andi who decided hiking the Appalachian trail was the best diet plan they could find.
I love the open ceiling that shows duct work painted a dark rust orange. The floors are green concrete except for a raised wooden section in the middle. The decor is Craftsman style, which is the style of the house we ended up buying when we moved closer. Not that we bought here just to be closer to Caribou.
Earl and I had many date nights at Caribou. It was one of the attractions that first brought us to this little town. And my friend Sheila and I have met at Caribou more times than I can count. We settle into leather arm chairs and lament the price of motherhood.
So the closing Caribou leaves a gap. Sure, there are other coffee shops nearby, but this Caribou felt like a community.
Oh Caribou, we hardly knew ye...

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

First Paragraph, Tuesday Teaser -- The Gilder


Every Tuesday, Diane at Bibliophile by the Sea posts the first paragraph of her current read. Anyone can join in. Go to Diane's website for the image and share the first paragraph of the current book you are reading.
This week I started The Gilder by Kathryn Kay. The main character, Marina, is a gilder, restoring art work and she spent a year in Florence learning her trade. But now she's a mother, dealing with her teenage daughter. (See, all very similar to my life, except I only spent 3 months in France and I didn't learn to become an artist, but I do have the teenage angst in my life.)After the first chapter, the book jumps into the past, to those days in Florence.
Here's the intro:
It wasn't unusual for soccer practice to run late, but Marina couldn't shake the sense of uneasiness that had hovered all day. From the window, the road was all but invisible under a canopy of gold and russet oaks. Marina strained to see beyond the end of the drive, as if she could conjure Zoe's appearance, but all she saw were leaves spiraling down and tumbling across the lawn into the thorny arms of a rosebush. She checked her watch again and then turned away to stoke the wood stove.


Also this week is Teaser Tuesdays.

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

Grab your current read
Open to a random page
Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!
Here's my teaser from page 113:
"Why don't you model for him?" Marina wanted to know.
Sarah snorted and shook her head. "My modeling days are long over. It's not good for our relationship. Besides, he's in love with your neck."

What do you think?

Monday, March 26, 2012

Grace Update

For many regular readers, you know that Grace has had an up and down college career. She finished her freshman year last May unsure whether she'd return to her Upstate New York college. She took off autumn semester and went to hang out in France with some French friends and blogging friends. Then she bit the bullet and returned to Upstate New York in January.
So, how's that going?
Super! Thanks for asking!
Although she has been homesick, she has lucked out with the weather. This has been a very mild winter from the Midwest through the Northeast. She has avoided the below zero weather and the thigh-high snow fall.
She started the semester with a roommate she didn't know, but the girl dropped out within a few weeks, leaving behind her microwave and mini refrigerator. So for awhile Grace had a room to herself, until a girl she works with asked if she could move in with Grace. Now she is rooming with Emma, who she gets along with and doesn't spend every minute of the day with -- a healthier relationship. The girls work together doing makeup for stage performances.
Grace settled on a major -- multi lingual studies and she's enjoying her French and Italian classes, along with Oceanography and Global Studies. Plus, she starts German next year and will spend Winter Semester in Vienna next year. Some life, huh?
She says the world of short men continues at her college (Grace is 5-foot, 10-inches) but she has found some good friends and this weekend was initiated into a sorority. One of the first orders of business -- a toga party, of course.
Grace and I talk and text a lot. I miss her, but I'm so thrilled that she is enjoying college and thriving. When her global studies professor returned her essay, he told her she could have it published. Every little blip of success helps to build her up, reminding her what a spectacular young woman she is.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Saturday Snapshot -- Spring

To participate in the Saturday Snapshot meme post a photo that you (or a friend or family member) have taken then leave a direct link to your post on Alyce's blog At Home With Books. Photos can be old or new, and be of any subject as long as they are clean and appropriate for all eyes to see. How much detail you give in the caption is entirely up to you. Please don’t post random photos that you find online.
I'm sure everyone who lives through the Midwest or Northeast United States is posting pictures of the miracles that have popped up through the last week.

We've had weather in the 80s.
Usually, if we went south to Florida this time of year, for spring break, we would watch the foliage gradually change to spring. We'd see the redbuds blooming in Tennessee or Georgia. Then fully-leafed trees in southern Georgia and finally palm trees in Florida.

Now, the trees have bloomed here, along with spring flowers.

Of course, along with the beautiful blooms, comes the stormy weather. I took this picture before I headed to the basement to wait out the tornado warning.

Still, everyone has been enjoying the warmer weather. Even 18-year-old boys mourning the end of basketball season.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Teaching College

This year, I'm teaching a lot of college courses. Seven courses January through March. Next week I start seven again.
Sometimes I love teaching college. Like at the end of the quarter when students come up and thank me. When they send me an email, like Donald did:
I wanted to thank you for your dedication and hard work in teaching English xxx. I have a much better grasp on how to write and develop a thesis throughout an essay, especially the topic sentences. English professors, from my experience, are under appreciated and I wanted you to know how much I appreciated learning research and composition in your class.

Ah. See. Now I feel like I'm making a difference. But that was last week. And while the public college I teach at is taking spring break, the for-profit college I teach at is carrying on.
During class on Tuesday, a student named Victor came in late and proceeded to set up his computer while we continued class. After an hour and a half of teaching, I released the students for a 10-minute break. We started class again and Victor waltzed in 10 minutes after we had started class again. Within five minutes, Victor, clutching his cell phone, walked back out to the hall. I was trying to break the students into groups of three. Would Victor be there for it or not? Should I give him the assignment too?
When the students were separated into groups, I stepped into the hallway where Victor was on the phone. I stood in front of him for a minute until he asked the person on the phone to hold on for a minute.
"I feel like we're really interrupting your day with this whole class thing," I said, trying to keep it light. Usually, this approach causes students to apologize for leaving or disrupting class. Instead, Victor came out with both barrels.
"Look, I run my own company. None of my other professors mind if I leave class to take phone calls."
I told Victor, "I don't mind if you leave class to take a phone call. Just take your things with you and don't come back into class."
"Do you want to go talk to the dean right now?" he asked.
"I'm happy to go with you after class," I told him and motioned toward the classroom, full of 25 students who hadn't taken phone calls.
After class, I stopped in to see the dean. Apparently Victor was upset that I had interrupted his phone call.
At the public college, my expectations are that the students will do the work and meet the criteria. I expect them to be respectful of me and the other students.
At the for-profit college, my expectations are to kowtow to the students. And I wonder if we aren't doing them a disservice. I accept late assignments. I don't say anything when they come into class late. How am I preparing them for the real world?
The dean doesn't actually support me. He says he'll carefully word an email message to Victor that let's him know his concerns have been heard. I want to roll my eyes.
I go out and buy a lottery ticket, and if I win, my first move is to turn in my resignation at the for-profit college.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Punished by Rewards


I read that book Punished by Rewards a long time ago, when my kids were little. It was easy for me to embrace it. Kids needed to accomplish things and explore things because they were curious and loved to learn. They didn't need parents or grades or candy as a reward for doing what they should do. During the years we homeschooled, I talked to my kids a lot about the intrinsic importance of learning. I never talked about the importance of grades.
And, of all the things I said that my kids ignored, for some reason, they adopted this idea, even after they started school. I tried to explain that if they were going to join the "system" then they had to play by the system's rules. They needed to work hard to get good grades. All three of them have felt that minimal work for a B is smarter than a lot of work for an A. They don't work hard at school. They don't study hard. Their GPAs always seem to hover around 3.4 -- not quite enough to get on the honor roll.
They haven't shyed away from taking honors classes, but they seem content to receive Bs in their honors classes.
Finally, as my second kid is getting ready to graduate, I've made the connection between grades and finances. The better grades my kids get, the more help I'm going to get for them from colleges. Now, this may not be true with public universities, but it is with private colleges that offer aid to middle class families.
That's why, last night, as the third quarter of the school year draws to a close, I offered both of my boys $100 if they'll make the honor roll during 4th quarter. With Spencer, it's just a matter of keep his GPA where it is when he graduates. With Tucker, as a sophomore, there's a chance he could graduate with honors and put more dollars in my pocket when he goes off to college.
I was surprised to hear both boys say they would be happy to take up the challenge. Spencer even took his backpack with him to do homework when he headed off to Kasey's garage where they talk about existentialism and the mysteries of girls.
So, yes, I have become that person who offers her kids money for good grades. I am punishing them with monetary rewards when they should be embracing the intrinsic values of learning.
As Bugs Bunny would say, "If you can't beat 'em, join 'em."

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

First Paragraph - Tuesday Teaser -- Another Piece of My Heart


Every Tuesday, Diane at Bibliophile by the Sea posts the first paragraph of her current read. Anyone can join in. Go to Diane's website for the image and share the first paragraph of the current book you are reading.
I haven't started this book yet, but I'm ready to start it when I get home from teaching today-- Another Piece of My Heart by Jane Green. I love Jane Green. She might accidentally be living my life as a successful author. The inside cover says this book is about a woman who marries a man with two daughters and tries to make a family. Difficulties ensue.
The sheets are drenched. Again. Andi takes a long time to wake up, drifting in and out, aware she is hot, then freezing, then finally, when she moves into a state of consciousness, wet.
Opening an eye, she looks at the clock -- 4:02 a.m. It's always four in the morning, these nights when she awakes, when she cannot get back to sleep. she turns her head to see Ethan, his back to her, his body rising and falling in deep sleep.
Lucky.


Also this week is Teaser Tuesdays.

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

Grab your current read
Open to a random page
Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!
Here's my teaser from page 124:
Here they are, in the waiting room, with Emily hating everyone and everything, wishing she were anywhere but here, Ethan feeling like his life is spinning out of control with no idea how to get it back, and Andi seeing her last chance at happiness being snatched away from her. Three people sitting feet apart, separated by a mile of hurt.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Saturday Snapshot -- Catching a Ride

To participate in the Saturday Snapshot meme post a photo that you (or a friend or family member) have taken then leave a direct link to your post on Alyce's blog At Home With Books. Photos can be old or new, and be of any subject as long as they are clean and appropriate for all eyes to see. How much detail you give in the caption is entirely up to you. Please don’t post random photos that you find online.
Since Grace is home from college this week, our niece's daughter Caroline had to come over to play. Here she is catching a ride home from the park on Earl's shoulders

Hope everyone is having beautiful weather like we are.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Skin in the Game

My best friend has a rocky marriage. No, it's not the marriage. It's the guy.
Her husband is a narcissist. I firmly suggested she not marry this guy when her first marriage dissolved. But she was on the rebound and knew she was marrying someone who would treat her well. Nine years later, not so much. Truthfully, in the first year he showed his true colors.
I'd like to say that I've been supportive of her marriage, encouraging her to keep trying, but I was saying "Dump the guy" before she reached her first anniversary. That year, growing large with pregnancy, her father dying of cancer, her husband scheduled corrective eye surgery. He couldn't afford it before, but the end of my friend's first marriage came with a settlement that her new husband felt free to spend. As she drove him home from the eye procedure, fighting a sinus infection that seemed to have taken root with the pregnancy, tears leaking from her eyes as she imagined her father fighting for each remaining breath, her husband told her that he had been dreaming of this corrective eye surgery for two years and now she "was ruining it for him."
Dump him, I advised.
She's been to years of marriage counseling with him, now as their son reaches his 8th year. They've had some happy times -- blips of moments that can't be pieced together to form weeks of happiness, much less months. They fight over her kids from the previous marriage who regard him with disdain. They fight over his free spending habits, his bi-monthly massages and $600 ski equipment. His refusal to help pay for her daughter's college so she has to hide the fact that she's covering the tuition costs. She works long hours, makes more money than him, puts the little guy to bed every night, cooks the dinners, goes to the sports events for the older kids. She's doing it all alone. Oh, wait. He does yard work, but lets her know what a drain it is on him.
Her husband is a little OCD. For instance, one day, she went out to the garage to change the bunny cage, washed her hands afterward, and continued with the rest of her day. That night when she made dinner, her husband refused to eat it because she hadn't worn gloves to clean the bunny cage. One of the biggest fights they have is about keeping the house clean, which isn't easy for most people, but even harder for my friend with the three teenagers, the 8-year-old and the unhelpful husband.
A few weeks ago, she told me the saddest story. She was chopping up jalapenos for dinner while her 8-year-old ate a snack in the kitchen. The cutting board tipped, sending the jalapeno pieces onto the floor. The 8-year-old hopped out of his chair and ran for the back door.
"I'll keep Dad outside until you get those picked up," he said. He knew that his father would blow a gasket if he saw the jalapeno pieces on the floor and then later in his dinner, even if my friend washed them and cooked them.
And that's her son's reality. Keep Dad from getting mad. Keep Dad from throwing a hissy fit.
So, my friend is inching her way toward a divorce. She gives ultimatums. She searches the internet for cute puppies she might get when doesn't have a husband any more. And the other day she upped the stakes.
"If I get a divorce, I'll pay for us to fly to France. You find us a place to stay," she said.
"Deal," I replied. Then I told her she might regret giving me skin in the game since I now had something to gain from seeing her divorce.
I texted her yesterday about great prices on flights to Europe, in case she needs incentive to hurry along her divorce.
She tells me, "I'm the only one in the room who has been through an awful divorce. I'm the only one who knows how hard it is."
Which is true.
But I haven't said to her, "You're the only one in the room who is living with a man who treats you with total disregard, who puts you last but expects you to put him first, in front of yourself, in front of your kids."
The trip to France was not the only skin I have in the game. She's my best friend. Every time he treats her badly, it scrapes away at my skin, wearing it raw as I see my best friend worn down into a numb person, moving through life like a race as if the finish line will provide her relief.
My stake in this game is the love of my friend -- and a trip to France.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

First Paragraph, Tuesday Teaser -- Coming Up For Air


Every Tuesday, Diane at Bibliophile by the Sea posts the first paragraph of her current read. Anyone can join in. Go to Diane's website for the image and share the first paragraph of the current book you are reading.
I've gotten really fortunate with good books lately. This one is Coming Up for Air by Patti Callahan Henry. The main character reassesses her marriage and her life choices after her controlling mother dies. Here's the first paragraph:
There are both wonderful and awful moments in a woman's life. Many of them, really. Standing in a white dress in front of family and friends, vowing to forever love the handsome man in front of me, is on the top of my wonderful list. Then years later, standing in the receiving line at my mother's funeral and pulling away from that same man's touch because I knew I didn't -- couldn't -- love him anymore is more than awful. It's tragic.


Also this week is Teaser Tuesdays.

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

Grab your current read
Open to a random page
Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!
Here's mine from page 115:
"Mother lost; everyone does. When she was in love -- when anyone is in love -- the heart cannot imagine its loss.When I first met Rusty, I of course could not imagine hurt or loss would come from his words, which had then been nothing but sweet."

Monday, March 12, 2012

Cowboys

The wind came sweeping down the plain in our little town this weekend as the high school put on the musical Oklahoma. When Grace was in high school, I worked on costumes for weeks before the musical. This year, teaching 7 college classes, I avoided volunteering. But Earl went to work on the set and kept telling me how intricate it was. I finally got a chance to see for myself on Thursday night. One of the other mothers texted to ask if I'd help sell flowers. So I passed out carnations for a dollar and got to sneak in to watch the production.
Tucker tried out for the ensemble and in addition to being a cowboy, got to be a dancer, which meant throwing himself on the floor, learning the two-step, and flinging girls around the stage. As a matter of fact, at the end of the production, they gave him the "brute strength" award because much of the time he was lifting girls into the air. Not a bad way for a 16-year-old to spend nine weeks of rehearsal.
He says it was a lot of work and he doesn't know if he'll do it again. He had to juggle swim team with musical, and going to States to compete, and he has already started track practice. But I think he had fun, and I could tell he was having fun on stage. Who knows, next year, maybe he'll get the nerve to accept a speaking part.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Saturday Snapshot -- She's Home

To participate in the Saturday Snapshot meme post a photo that you (or a friend or family member) have taken then leave a direct link to your post on Alyce's blog At Home With Books. Photos can be old or new, and be of any subject as long as they are clean and appropriate for all eyes to see. How much detail you give in the caption is entirely up to you. Please don’t post random photos that you find online.
Earl drove to Buffalo, New York, last night to meet Grace who caught a ride from a friend as far as Buffalo. She has a week off from college for spring break.
Earl and Grace got home around 1:30 a.m. and she immediately started scooping up cats to hug.

Thursday, March 08, 2012

Three-Course Lunch

Wednesday afternoon, the sun was shining and the thermometer climbed into the 60s. I was working when Earl texted me and asked if he could make me something for lunch.
"Let's walk downtown and eat," I texted him back.
So when I got home, we walked to the strip of downtown and debated where we should eat. One restaurant was only open for dinner on weekdays. Another didn't have any outside seating. We ended up at our favorite Italian restaurant which had one lonely table outside.
We'll take it!.
As we settled into the sunshine, ignoring the whipping wind, the waiter set the usual menus in front of us and then a different menu. We had happened upon "Dine Originals" week in Columbus. This is a week when restaurants around the city offer special meals at special prices.
We could get a salad, a main course and dessert for $10 -- like a prix fixe at a restaurant in Paris. And it was cheap enough that we didn't feel guilty ordering the $7 glasses of wine to go with it.
We started with a spinach salad with dried figs and goat cheese. Then we ate wild mushroom ravioli with spinach and dried tomatoes. I finished the meal with pots de creme, which is similar to a chocolate mousse. Earl went for the cannoli.
I didn't need to eat again the rest of the day.
The outing was a reminder to me to enjoy the current life I'm living, rather than pining for the life we have planned for the future.
Yes, someday we hope to settle in a small village in France where slow lunches and long walks are the norm. But until then, we can find the same thing in our own little Ohio village.

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

A Tale of Two Sons

Last Friday I started feeling very ill. We went out for breakfast at 6:30 a.m., the only time we could all celebrate Tucker's birthday, and I could hardly eat.
My throat hurt, my head hurt and my nose was stuffy. I came home from school for an hour break to rest and never made it back to the staff meeting. I felt too miserable. I lay on the couch as Earl left for work and the boys came home from school.
When I asked, Spencer brought me a glass of water and some ibuprofen.
I pulled myself off the couch to serve birthday cake to five boys who then cleared out quickly.
Before he left, Spencer said, "Mom, do you need anything before I go out?"
I told him no and he leaned over to kiss me in my cocoon on the couch.
I got sicker before I started to get better. Stiff neck, vomiting, chills.
By Sunday, I was sitting up at the kitchen table when Tucker wandered in for lunch.
Tucker began shoveling down his tomato soup and grilled cheese then he turned to me, "Are you sick, Mom?" he asked, surprise in his voice.
It took him three days to notice.
Those are some very different boys I'm raising.

Tuesday, March 06, 2012

First Paragraph & Tuesday Teaser -- Passing Love


Every Tuesday, Diane at Bibliophile by the Sea posts the first paragraph of her current read. Anyone can join in. Go to Diane's website for the image and share the first paragraph of the current book you are reading.
I picked up Passing Love by Jacqueline E. Luckett because the main character visits Paris after her best friend dies. And, as you know, anything can happen in Paris.
Here's the first paragraph:
She'd waited all her life to go to Paris. As for the reasons why the dream of speaking French in France, of standing beneath the Eiffel Tower at the stroke of midnight, of lingering in sidewalk cafes took so long to come about -- she chose to evade, not explain them. Her greatest fear, the one she carried like a locket close to her heart, was that in taking too close a look at the days that composed her fifty-six years, the dam that confined her existence might break and release a river of regret for all the places she'd never visited, the books she'd never read, the things she'd never done
.

Also this week is Teaser Tuesdays.

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

Grab your current read
Open to a random page
Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!
From page 150:
"If we were better acquainted, Monsieur, I'd say you were following me. I've had my ticket for weeks." Nicole shivered on the inside, feeling sultry and shy and demure -- not who she believed she was. She adjusted her dress, glad her outfit complemented her legs. C'est dommage. Too bad the woman on his arm was so young. Judging from the ogling ladies in the lobby, Laurent was a man women watched without the slightest hint of reserve."

Monday, March 05, 2012

Paying It Forward

Part of receiving The Versatile Blogger Award from Suzie Tullett is naming other blogs that should receive the award.

The criteria stated 15 blogs, but that's a lot. I don't read 15 other blogs regularly -- maybe I need to expand.
And a lot of blogs don't accept awards. So that's fine. If I nominate you and you don't accept awards then just ignore me (or leave a comment if you want).
If you do accept awards, then please accept The Versatile Blogger Award and write a post about seven random things your readers don't know about you.
Since I'm a Francophile and a writer, many of the blogs I read focus on those topics.
Frenchless in France by Linda Mathieu makes me feel like I'm in Paris with her. She's the author of a Kindele book, Secrets of a Paris Tour Guide.

du Jour by Delana is living my dream. She's a Minnesota gal who moved to southern France and writes about her adventures there. She also runs a business called Provence Rugs.

My friend Sheila writes Life's Many Colors. She's the healthiest person I know and also writes about the trials of raising children, homeschooling, art projects and rehabbing her bungalow.

My daughter Grace started a blog called Life Allons-y when she went to college and then spent fall semester in France.

Artist Sally Tharpes Rowles writes Between Here and There and spends summers in France.

Diane writes Bibliophile by the Sea reviewing books and discovering great authors.

Tongue in Cheek by Corey is all about an American woman who married a Frenchman and loves antiques. I love her photos and her American gaffes.

Book Pregnant is a new blog about some authors whose first books are getting ready to be published. They provide me lots of info about what will someday happen when I get a book deal.

At Home With Books by Alyce is, you guessed it, about reading and books. She also does a Saturday Snapshot meme once a week that draws lots of readers and great pictures.

Lucia writes On My Way 2 Work & Other Stuff. She takes gorgeous pictures of sunrises and shares my love for foreign countries.

I know this isn't 15, but these are some blogs that I enjoy and that I wanted to offer the Versatile Blogger Award.

Sunday, March 04, 2012

Versatile Blogger Award

Thanks to Suzie Tullett, a fellow writer on our Yahoo Writer's Group who gave my blog the Versatile Blogger Award.



The requirement of the Versatile Blogger Award is that I must reveal seven random facts about myself. Since I've been fairly forthcoming on my blog, I feel like it's going to be a real stretch to come up with seven things I haven't already told my readers. Maybe not many people have read my old posts.

1. My nose is not my original nose. It was broken by a Frisbee flung by a friend in St. Petersburg, Florida, and I had to have surgery to straighten it. While the doctor was straightening it, he took out the Kincer bump in the middle of it.

2. I went to school with Neil Armstrong's son Mark. His mother always made sure we were in the same class because she thought the competition was good for him. I always tried to earn the best grades in class.

3. I never learned how to dive. To this day, as I sit through my kids' swim meets, I don't know how to dive.

4. I used to sing solos at church and take voice lessons.

5. I tried out for a musical in high school only one time. When I didn't get a part, I never tried out again.

6. We lived in four different houses the first year my daughter was born, moving from Florida to Michigan.

7. Once my kids are finished with college, my husband and I plan to move to France to live.

Saturday, March 03, 2012

Saturday Snapshot -- Europe

To participate in the Saturday Snapshot meme post a photo that you (or a friend or family member) have taken then leave a direct link to your post on Alyce's blog At Home With Books. Photos can be old or new, and be of any subject as long as they are clean and appropriate for all eyes to see. How much detail you give in the caption is entirely up to you. Please don’t post random photos that you find online.
I didn't have any fabulous photo opportunities this week, so, I'll fall back on my usual: photos from trips to Europe.
In honor of Tucker's 16th birthday this week, here's a photo from 2006 when we visited Munich. The entire trip Tucker was in character, making us laugh.

That's the trip where we met Earl's Italian cousins in northern Italy and traveled on to Venice.
Here's a photo of a gondola so I can tell you the Tucker story.

Tucker really, really wanted a gondola ride. But it cost 98 Euros. I told him he should wait until he came back with a girlfriend or wife to enjoy a gondola ride. He's never let me forget it. I should have paid for the gondola ride. How often do you get to Venice? Now I'll have to save up my money and someday send him to Venice for his honeymoon.

Thursday, March 01, 2012

Last Senior Game

Last night was Spencer's final high school basketball game. Unlike a lot of sports that go on to districts or states, the basketball season ends with a loss for almost every team as they get knocked out of the tournament.
Here's a picture of Spencer in the grips of his coach. I'm not sure if it is right after he fouled out with a minute left or as he was going back in to get his last foul.

He's had a love-hate relationship with this coach who left Spencer in for almost the whole game last night to see him score 16 points and pull in 6 rebounds. Nevertheless, the team lost by 6 and is finished for the season.
People stopped me on the way out, exclaiming over Spencer's amazing game.
"He left everything on the court," they said.
"It was obvious he wasn't ready to be finished with the season," another one said.
"Awesome game."
And I felt sad at the end of an era.
At the end of Grace's high school swimming, she still had YMCA swimming to finish that winter and again in the summer before she went to swim in college.
Spencer says he will not play basketball in college. He's finished with coaches and refs who call more fouls on the big guys.
"Basketball will always be part of my life," he said.
And I know he's right because I've watched my brothers compete against each other on the basketball court into their 40s and my dad played basketball into his 70s before a should injury forced him to the sidelines.
So basketball will always be there for Spencer and he has some pretty good high school games that he can point to when he reminisces.

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