Tuesday, October 30, 2007


I turned my cart towards the fifteen-items-or-less checkout line and stopped short when I noticed the woman in front of me had a full cart -- well over 15 items! Three, five, ten, twelve, seventeen. . . I stopped counting and wondered, Lady, can't you count? Ready to get home after a long day, I swung my cart into the adjacent line.

Waiting for the person ahead of me to pay his bill, I watched as she unloaded her cart --one item at a time. She is someone's grandma, I thought, as I admired her silver hair and noticed her sensible shoes and unhurried pace. She probably didn't even see the sign.

The sales clerk glanced at the cart, then at the sign, then caught my eye and smiled. He shook his head a little, but spoke kindly to the woman as he scanned her items. His actions more gracious than my impatient thoughts.

I stopped at the end of his checkout stand and told him, "You are a gracious gentleman, and you have blessed my day." He simply smiled again and said, "Thanks."

Friday, October 19, 2007

A Book Meme

Here I was this evening, surfing through blogs of some of my favorite writers, clicking on links at their sites, when I came upon several memes. I sat here wishing I knew more bloggers, wishing someone would tag me for a meme, when I happened to catch my name in the tag of Susan Ito's book meme and Caroline's writing meme.

Well, what a serendipity! Of course, anyone can complete a meme, but there is some fun in being tagged. Since books and writing are my favorite things, I'm happy to participate!

1. Hardcover or paperback, and why?
I buy both, but I'm willing to pay for a hardcover only if I have read the book and loved it. Then I want a copy for myself. The one and only book I have ever bought in hardcover unread is Cold Mountain by Charles Frazier; fortunately, I loved it.

2. If I were to own a book shop I would call it…
Marmee's Corner -- What else?

3. My favorite quote from a book (mention the title) is…
from To Kill a Mockingbird: "Atticus was right. One time he said you never really know a man until you stand in his shoes and walk around in them. Just standing on the the Radley porch was enough." (There is a lot more to quote from that book!)

4. The author (alive or deceased) I would love to have lunch with would be ….
Harper Lee. Some have criticized that she is a one-book wonder, but if I wrote one book the caliber of her novel, I'd die a contented writer.

5. If I was going to a deserted island and could only bring one book, except from the SAS survival guide, it would be…
the Bible. No matter how many times I read it, there is always something fresh and new that I have never seen before. Or the Holy Spirit will show me a new application for my life. There is no novel or non-fiction book that inspires and sustains me as God's Word, and no matter where I am, I am in need of His sustenance.

6. I would love someone to invent a bookish gadget that….
was a book light with a battery and bulb that would last for an extended period of time. I love to read in bed after my husband is asleep, and all the book lights I've tried suck up battery energy so quickly.

7. The smell of an old book reminds me of….
my grandma's house. She had a library off the living room. It contained bookcase with glass doors against one wall. It was a small collection of books, but my sister and I loved to open those doors and play school with those books. I especially liked the Big Little Books and Puss and Boots.

8. If I could be the lead character in a book (mention the title), it would be….
Scout Finch in To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee.

9. The most overestimated book of all times is….
Bridges of Madison County (It is not even worth a hot link!) . Everyone was so ga ga over that book, but I thought the the main character Francesca had absolutely no reason to commit adultery when she had a loving husband who worked hard to give her a good life. The book also had the most sappy lines -- something about the male character being a peregrine. Barf!

10. I hate it when a book….
is full of vulgarities and unnecessary graphic language. I don't mind controversial subject matter that is presented in a thoughtful, reasonable way, but to pepper the dialogue with excessive profanity annoys me. I don't want those words or images running through my mind.

I tag Daphne.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Rain, Rain, Go Away

This morning looked promising. Sunlight backdropped a bank of gray clouds on the horizon, but those clouds billowed, growing into clumsy giants that bumped and thumped their way across the sky. Then the heavens opened.

A torrential downpour would turn to a mist then return to the torrential downpour. Noah came to mind.

Lucky me, my car battery decided to die on this most unpleasant day, and I spent most of the afternoon setting in my car, which was parked in a 20 minute loading zone of a University of Missouri at Kansas City (UMKC) parking lot. (One good thing about the rain -- campus police were not patroling and issuing tickets!)

I called our road service and reached a customer service rep in India. Within an hour two guys from Pop-A-Lock arrived in a mini-van but not before I had to leave my car and flag them down. Something about them looked helpless, and my impression was right. Though they tried to jump my battery, the engine refused to turn over, leading them to believe it was my starter. Since their mini van was not equipped to tow me, I had to call India a second time and arrange for a tow truck.

Before that arrived, my knight in shining armour appeared and stayed with me, so I would not have to ride home in the tow truck. Thankfully, the tow truck driver successfully re-charged the battery, and I was able to drive to my salon for a haircut appointment (the most worrisome problem of the day -- I desperately needed a trim.) Jim followed me to the salon, traded cars with me, and took my car to get a new battery.

Compared to others' problems, this was trivial, but I sure do hope the sun shines tomorrow.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Writing Is a (Re)treat

The writing retreat was fabulous! It was so rewarding and invigorating to be with a group of people who love writing and are appreciative of having a day and a half set aside for their passion.

This year my co-facilitator and I did not have time to write. Instead of placing ourselves in a small group of peer responders (as we have in the past), we made ourselves available for one on one responding. Surprisingly, of 16 participants, probably half of them conferenced with us. When we planned this change, I wasn't sure how I felt about it. I wanted time to write, too. But in the end, it worked well. I did take a nonfiction piece I wrote in the parent-lit class and shared it during our read around.

Another change that I really liked was giving everyone a pad of post-it-notes. As each person read their pieces on Saturday evening, we all responded in writing. When everyone was finished, we passed out our notes. There was something special about receiving "mail" and doing this saved time, as we didn't make oral remarks. Now, each reader has a written record of his/her listeners' appreciation.

As great as all the activities were, I must confess the beds and bedding at the Westin Crown Center are almost as wonderful. The picture here doesn't really do them justice. Some day I'm going to book a room, order room service, rent movies and spend an entire 24 hours soaking in the ambiance.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Writing Retreat

This weekend I am headed to the Westin at Crown Center -- a posh hotel connected to one of Kansas City's popular entertainment venues. We (my friend and co-facilitator) have been working hard to prepare for a writing retreat. We will be joined by 18 other teacher consultants with the Greater Kansas City Writing project.

This is the fifth annual retreat, and each one has been rewarding and invigorating as we set aside time to write and share our writing -- without any distractions of home or work begging for our attention. I'll fill in the details next week.

Happy Writing!