A Love Letter to Autumn

A Love Letter to Autumn

Some mood music for this post:

My Dearest Autumn,

The seasons may change, but my heart remains true. It is you I love most of all.

Your slow sunlit days that are heady with change. When you begin to paint the trees with shades of crimson, gold, and ginger – creating a feast for my eyes.

You make the grey day glow and the sunny day is beyond all imagination, thanks to the vibrancy of your chosen color palette.

The nights you bring can be warm and sweetly mild – in Autumn Summer’s sweet embrace. Or they can be crisp and cool that are the perfect partner to a roaring fire.

You entice me to sip Manhattans with their smoky warmth.

And, when the falling leaves create a carpet so glorious on my lawn – I know you time here is fleeting.

My greatest joy is to savor you completely, because when you are gone it is you I miss most of all.

This week’s prompt was to write about Autumn and Carole and I would love it if you would join us on our Think, Write, Thursday journey. Signing up is easy and you can do that here.

But, really, won’t you share what you love about fall?

 

The Most Important Thing

The Most Important Thing

When a citizen gives his suffrage to a man of known immorality he abuses his trust; he sacrifices not only his own interest, but that of his neighbor; he betrays the interest of his country. – Noah Webster

Robocalls are over, although the ones from Barack and Michelle Obama are pretty darn awesome, the others not so much.

The media will again focus on what is going on in the world we live in, not just politics!

But today, 96 years after the ratification of the 19th Amendment, I will vote as I have done every single election since I was 18. However, this time will be different. Today, I will cast my vote for her. Gladly. Emotionally. Proudly!

I really hope you will be joining me and voting today. It is the most important thing you will do today!

A Tale of Two Teachers and an Aide

A Tale of Two Teachers and an Aide

Think Write Thursday this week is all about teachers – especially a favorite teacher that most influenced you and how.

Teachers can change lives with just the right mix of chalk and challenges. Joyce Meyer

And thus, began the great internal debate – which teacher to use…

I suppose I am fortunate that I had so many great teachers over the years. However, there are two teachers and one very special aide who had tremendous impact on my life as a student and their influence stayed with me far beyond the classroom to my daily life.

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To start out – I moved midway through first grade and that meant a new school – Lakewood Elementary on the “north side” of Holland, Michigan. Not much fun at all when you are a child of any age, but it was especially difficult because it was obvious that I was woefully behind my classmates in so many things. The worst of which was reading. I was not reading at all, yet my classmates were. Luckily, I spent time every single day with Mrs. Hayward and it was with her help that I began to read. She opened new doors for me and with her help I became a voracious reader. She helped me get caught up to my classmates and I then just blew past them. It might have been a slow start, but once I got going there was no stopping me! Thank you so much Mrs. Hayward!

 

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The first teacher I want to share with you was my second-grade teacher, Miss Vanden Belt. Until I began to work on this post, I never realized that my second-grade year was her first year of teaching! Miss Vanden Belt was extra-special! She was the first teacher that truly made me excited about learning. I thought she was magical – she dressed just so perfectly, her enthusiasm was catching, and simply put – I just wanted to make her happy so I eagerly did whatever she asked! Now, I went to pre-historic grade school and there was never any homework. But, she kept the fire burning in me for reading and I devoured books – in class, from the school library, and even those great wonders – Scholastic Books! But, perhaps the best thing about Miss Vanden Belt was that she never forgot her students.

Ever.

I could run into her in Meijer’s and she would be as excited to see you as she was when you walked into class each morning. And, when you saw her again, she remembered your last conversation and asked how things were. And, you knew she sincerely wanted to know. I have not seen Miss Vanden Belt in years, but I think of her often.

 

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The last teacher that had a tremendous impact on my life was Mr. Berghorst – he was my high school English teacher. I really loved him and took as many classes with his as I could. He was a very popular teacher with the students. Honestly, I can confidently say that he was everyone’s favorite teacher. As you can see, he was such a snappy dresser and was so different from every other teacher I ever had. He was a bit theatrical and his room was not your typical class room in very conservative Holland, Michigan. Encircling the room were hundreds of New Yorker magazine covers. I had never heard of the New Yorker magazine before Mr. Berghorst and that was just one of many things that he opened my eyes to during the classes I had with him. He taught the importance of critical thinking. His class room was a place that fostered lively discussion and how crucial listening is. He shared that there was a big huge world outside of West Michigan and he encouraged us to discover it with open minds. In his class I learned to overcome my fear of speaking in public, I learned how to write a paper that someone would want to read, and I learned that an open mind is the best thing you could possibly possess.

These very special people all had a wonderful influence on what and who I am today. I am so very grateful for all they imparted to my life.

If you would like to join Carole and I on our Thursday writing journey, you can sign up here.

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Gratefully Tuesday

Gratefully Tuesday

Hello, November!

It seems like just yesterday that you were here, but then I look back at the year and I realize it has been a very full year. A year full of so many good things but with temps slated to be in the 70’s here again today – it hardly seems like it can even be November!

This has certainly been a lovely autumn.

I have much to be grateful about today beginning with the Halloween festivities of last night. It was not a banner year for visitors – we had less than 30 Trick or Treater’s. However, seeing their excited faces was an incredibly pleasant break in the usual evening activities. And, really – I prefer visiting children to the news of late! So, perhaps for the next week we can just replay last night. Sort of the “I am so sick of politics” version of the movie Groundhog Day.

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Several of you kindly commented on the soup from my weekend. I roughly based it on a recipe I found here. Changes I made: I used left over roasted chicken from earlier in the week. I shredded the chicken and added it with the onions as they cooked. I used Trader Joe’s Cuban Black Beans and Cannellini beans (instead of kidney beans). I did not have diced tomatoes or a can of diced chiles. Instead I used a large can of whole tomatoes and crushed them with my hand before I added them and I added a can of Rotel™ tomatoes. Instead of corn, I diced up the last few Anaheim and Cubanelle peppers from our garden. So, I changed it quite a bit! Haha! It was good and will be made again!

Sigla’s sleeve number two is almost done – I just have the ribbing to finish and it will be done! Just in time too, because cooler weather is in the forecast!

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Lastly, I am grateful for all of you who read my blog each day! Thanks to Random.org I have a winner – and that is commenter #8 – who is Carole of Carole Knits! This is especially wonderful because it is thanks to Carole’s invitation last year to join her in NoBloPoMo that reinvigorated my blogging and brought so many new friends to my life! Congratulations Carole – MDK’s Stripes will be on its way to your house!

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Haunted Questions

Haunted Questions

I can pass an abandoned building anywhere and Haunted Houses by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow plays in my mind.

Is it haunted?

All houses wherein men have lived and died

Are haunted houses. Through the open doors

The harmless phantoms on their errands glide,

With feet that make no sound upon the floors.

Who had lived here? What did they do? Where did they go? Did anyone care about them? Miss them? Think about them?

We meet them at the door-way, on the stair,

Along the passages they come and go,

Impalpable impressions on the air,

A sense of something moving to and fro.

Was it their presence I felt on the breeze that caused gooseflesh to raise on my arms? Did they see me peering in the windows?

There are more guests at table than the hosts

Invited; the illuminated hall

Is thronged with quiet, inoffensive ghosts,

As silent as the pictures on the wall.

Are there silent celebrations happening that I can neither see or hear?

The stranger at my fireside cannot see

The forms I see, nor hear the sounds I hear;

He but perceives what is; while unto me

All that has been is visible and clear.

What would it have been like when people lived here? Did they feel the presence of those who owned it before them?

We have no title-deeds to house or lands;

Owners and occupants of earlier dates

From graves forgotten stretch their dusty hands,

And hold in mortmain still their old estates.

Why does this house stand empty? Does no one see the potential?

The spirit-world around this world of sense

Floats like an atmosphere, and everywhere

Wafts through these earthly mists and vapours dense

A vital breath of more ethereal air.

Or does the presence of something hang on the air?

Our little lives are kept in equipoise

By opposite attractions and desires;

The struggle of the instinct that enjoys,

And the more noble instinct that aspires.

Are the forces inside out of balance? Omnipresent? Wanting to be elsewhere? Disturbed by my interruptions?

These perturbations, this perpetual jar

Of earthly wants and aspirations high,

Come from the influence of an unseen star

An undiscovered planet in our sky.

Does my presence make them uneasy? Can they sense my increased heartbeat?

And as the moon from some dark gate of cloud

Throws o’er the sea a floating bridge of light,

Across whose trembling planks our fancies crowd

Into the realm of mystery and night,—

Do they long for moonlit skies, filled with twinkling stars? Do they delight in the shadows they create?

So from the world of spirits there descends

A bridge of light, connecting it with this,

O’er whose unsteady floor, that sways and bends,

Wander our thoughts above the dark abyss.

I don’t recall how old I was the first time I read this poem, but I think I might have been in 7th or 8th grade. This poem caused me to think about things that went bump in the night. Walking to the bus stop in the morning in the dark and hearing a strange whistling in the wind was suddenly more than a little scary and being alone in a house after dark made me hyper alert to all the house sounds that suddenly were no longer normal.

Curious how a poem, a vivid imagination, and the mystery of an abandoned building can make Halloween come to life!

As always, Carole and I would love to have you join us on our Thursday writing journey! You can sign up here – and we promise it won’t be scary!

**Featured image courtesy of RWTurenne

With Visions of Breakfast Dancing in My Head

With Visions of Breakfast Dancing in My Head

Welcome to Think Write Thursday!

This week Carole and I are eager for you to Tell Us About the Best Breakfast You Ever Had:

If you asked me, I would absolutely say I am not a “breakfast eater” my usual for a major portion of my adult life has just been coffee.

That being said, I have had some stellar breakfasts in my life.

While my mother could not be classified as a cook at all. I simply loved those mornings when she made CoCo Wheats. What child would not like chocolate for breakfast, right? If she asked what I wanted, it was always my first choice!

As an adult I remember going out for breakfast on a weekend morning and having the best omelets at the Elbow Room (sadly, no longer there) in Saugatuck. They were so good, just packed full of such good things, each and every one of them!

I also have fond memories of incredibly different breakfasts in other countries – my favorites were in Scotland where I learned that I simply love steel-cut oats. This is a hearty, stick-with-you breakfast that I have long tried to replicate. I think I come close with my oven roasted version, but replicating the ambiance that is Scotland…Yeah, that is not so easy to do!

However, I think my absolute favorite breakfast is this; My Great-Aunt Marian’s Baked Pancake. The first time I had this I was about 6 or 7 years old when we went to Lansing, Illinois to visit Aunt Marion and her husband, Uncle Fred. She made Baked Pancake for breakfast and it was so elegant and beautiful – topped with powdered sugar and freshly sliced strawberries. This was unlike anything I had ever had before. It was so puffy and custard-y and buttery. It seemed to just melt in my mouth. In my child’s mind, my Aunt Marion seemed to be magical, creating such an incredible breakfast.

After that, my most requested breakfast was Aunt Marian’s Baked Pancake – but none were ever the same as hers.

I have made Baked Pancake a number of times in my life and each time I fondly remembered that very first time in my Aunt Marion’s simple home. For me, food is an incredible tie to the roots of my family and sadly I have not made Baked Pancake nor thought about Aunt Marian in a very long time.

Perhaps it is time to dust off my recipe and make Baked Pancake again soon – in fond and loving memory of Aunt Marian.

P.S. Are you ready to take the plunge and write creatively on Thursdays? Sign up now and join us!

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