Welcome friends...thanks for coming by. We're seeking beauty in all of creation... in our faith and our families; our art and our music; our crafts and kitchens, and even in our own backyard. We'll share a poem or a recipe, a picture or a memory; maybe a dream of how we wish our life could be. And though we acknowledge that the world can be harsh, we're keeping it pleasant in our little corner; endeavoring to keep the words from the Book of all Books: ...Whatsoever things are lovely; think on these things.

I so enjoy hearing from you...so leave me a comment; it'll make my day!

Photo: Bee and thistle: Taken high in the Cascade Mountains where there is a bee buzzing on every thistle. by Debora Rorvig

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

for Maya--Phenomenal

I woke this morning to the news that Maya Angelou had died. I feel as though I have lost a dear friend, a mentor; a She-ro.

To some, it makes no sense that I would be so profoundly sad for the loss of someone I never knew. But I would argue that I did know her. She spoke to me and it was personal.  Her voice was calm and soothing, her words were always wise. She told me that I am phenomenal. That caged birds sing about freedom. She showed me how a poor little girl (as I once was) can grow up to become a woman of dignity because it isn't where one starts, but where one finishes that matters. She reminded me to be still and listen to my heart; and in so doing, I just might hear the voice of God.

Maya Angelou's departure has left a gaping hole in my world. And not just my world, but in our world. Who will dare to step into the void left by this woman, this phenomenal woman? Are any of us able; are there any phenomenal among us? I hope so. Oh, I really hope so. She left us her words. She told us how.

Photo by Patrick Schneider

Pretty women wonder where my secret lies.
I’m not cute or built to suit a fashion model’s size   
But when I start to tell them,
They think I’m telling lies.
I say,
It’s in the reach of my arms,
The span of my hips,   
The stride of my step,   
The curl of my lips.   
I’m a woman
Phenomenal woman,   
That’s me.

I walk into a room
Just as cool as you please,   
And to a man,
The fellows stand or
Fall down on their knees.   
Then they swarm around me,
A hive of honey bees.   
I say,
It’s the fire in my eyes,   
And the flash of my teeth,   
The swing in my waist,   
And the joy in my feet.   
I’m a woman

Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

Men themselves have wondered   
What they see in me.
They try so much
But they can’t touch
My inner mystery.
When I try to show them,   
They say they still can’t see.   
I say,
It’s in the arch of my back,   
The sun of my smile,
The ride of my breasts,
The grace of my style.
I’m a woman
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

Now you understand
Just why my head’s not bowed.   
I don’t shout or jump about
Or have to talk real loud.   
When you see me passing,
It ought to make you proud.
I say,
It’s in the click of my heels,   
The bend of my hair,   
the palm of my hand,   
The need for my care.   
’Cause I’m a woman
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.
Share this text ...?

Maya Angelou, “Phenomenal Woman” from And Still I Rise. Copyright © 1978 by Maya Angelou. 

Saturday, May 10, 2014

School Lockdown

"Attention staff...WE ARE IN LOCKDOWN," came the announcement over the PA system in our school. It was Mary, our school secretary who made the call. Mary is the poster girl for cool-calm-and collected; but today her voice was different. Fearful. This was no drill; it was the real deal.

We sprang into action. Close the blinds. Hide the students.  Joanne runs across the hall to check the restroom for stray students and dashes down another corridor to lock the door to the playground. We hate this part.  If we hear gunshots it's agreed that we will not open the door to let her back in. She will be on her own out there. The students come first. She sprints back and Terri, who's watching anxiously through the blinds at the doorway, allows her to slip quietly back into the room and re-locks the door.

Now we wait. I try to control the trembling in my hand as I stroke the head of little Angelica, who sits under a table next to me. She looks up at me, her eyes are big and round and full of anxiety. "Is this for real?" she whispers.

"Yes honey. Hush. We'll be fine." But I wonder. I pray silently for guardian angels and policemen; and try to recall comforting Bible verses. He that dwelleth in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord; he is my refuge...


 Every sound is magnified. I strain to hear voices in the hallway or God-forbid...gunshots. Someone coughs. I cringe. It's grade-school. Somebody's always got a cold. Absolute silence is impossible in a roomful of third graders. The halls are strangely silent. Eerie. The table I'm crouched under is kid-sized and my joints are stiffening up from being hunched into a little ball. I try to adjust myself a bit. Peeking up at the clock I see that it's been about twenty minutes. Where are the police? I look toward the windows, searching for shadows or perhaps the sun reflecting off a windshield of a of car entering the parking lot. Nothing. Where are they? An airplane buzzes lazily overhead. It feels otherworldly. Surreal.

The fear is subsiding as time passes and I am no longer trembling. I look around the room. What can I use for defense? Books? Overhead projector? Chairs? This is not good. There is nothing within reach that I could use as a weapon. I whisper to the librarian who's hunched up under the table with me and Angelica, "If we have to, we can turn this table over and shield ourselves." She nods. Not much of a plan. But it's all we've got.

With my 'plan' in place, my thought turn philosophical. If we get out of here...should I keep this job? Is it worth this kind of risk? If something really happens in this room will I sacrifice my life for a child? The answers were easy and immediate. Yes. Yes. And Yes. I wish I had my cell phone so I could text my husband and children. Note to self: Keep your cellphone with you at all times.

Across the room Joanne is crawling on her hands and knees toward the a closet. What on earth is she doing? She places trash can inside the closet, then beckons a boy. He crawls, commando-style to the closet and goes in and closes the door partway. Then he comes out. It dawns on me. He had to pee.
I have to chuckle. Custodian's gonna love that!

It's been over an hour. Finally, a voice comes over the PA. "This is Mr. B. You are in no immediate danger but we will remain in lockdown for a while longer."

I could feel a collective sigh of relief coming from every classroom in the school. Then a short time later, another announcement. Partial lockdown. We can move about the school, but are safely locked inside. And then... it was over.

Sometime after 10 a.m. on May 2nd a 911 caller said that there was a man with a rifle at the local high school and that gunshots had been fired. A short time later another 911 report was made that there was a shooter at the hardware store. At the same time there was a stabbing at a home near an elementary school. The police; figuring the events were somehow connected; ordered a lockdown of our entire school district. A SWAT team was sent to the high school where every room and student was searched. In all, Two high schools, two middle schools, five elementary schools; several thousand children were locked down for about an hour and a half. In the end it appears that the man who committed the stabbing and later shot himself had called in the reports to throw police off his trail.

Thankfully, we were all safe. The stabbing victim survived. And in a way, this event turned out to be a blessing. This is my Facebook post following the crisis...

Dear friends,
I've been giving a lot of thought to the hour or so we all spent in lockdown in our school district. In retrospect, I've come to see that the experience was a unique gift. Blessedly, without experiencing a terrible loss, we were all given a chance to view ourselves and others through the lens of a crisis. Who were we for that hour? I know personally, and heard from others; we were ordinary people who were willing to try and protect children first. That's who we--who YOU were for that hour. And that's who we--who YOU really are. What an exquisite gift! (But I still hope it never happens again!)


And so dear friends, in closing, please; when tempted to malign teachers, I hope you remember this story. I hope you remember that there are those of us who, when we initially answered the call of our hearts to teach young children; had no idea that it might involve sacrificing our very lives for them. And yet we remain true to the profession. Of course there are bad teachers; and please, by all means--hold us to the highest standards! Expect excellence, your kids deserve no less. But always remember that one day it could be your child or grandchild crouched under that desk with her teacher stroking her hair, hugging her and reassuring her that she will be OK. That teacher is willing to give her life, if necessary, to protect your baby.

So this summer break,
 instead of griping about all of the time off that your children's teachers have...
 wish us well.  


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