This blog actually hits near a topic that I plan to blog about in the very near future. How many parents squash their kids’ dreams by refusing to hear them? We teach our children to want less, but we should be teaching them to want more.

Originally posted on Michael Cogdill:

After I spoke at an event this morning, the mom of an Auburn journalism student approached, naturally incandescent with pride in her daughter. Proud, but a tad troubled, I could tell.

Someone, or a group of them, at Auburn has been filling her daughter’s head with gloom speak about her chosen profession. You’ll make nothing. Brace for poverty. Steel yourself for a life lush with canned beans and government cheese. (Not a thing wrong with either, by the way).

There is, however, something wrong with educators trying to cap the expectations of a student. Education is about broadening, not narrowing, expectations. No, that’s no sturdy realism they deliver. Nor is it refining pragmatism, teaching a kid she’ll be poor. It is, I believe, a rant of quiet resentment. A seething desire not to see the student out-soar the instructor.

In my college experience, at Georgia and North Carolina, rare…

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Whenever I have free time, I often think of drawing. It is one of the hobbies that I have that completely relaxes me. While I enjoy photography, painting, sewing, and gardening, none of those hobbies have the same effect on my mind. It is also one of the few activities that I will lose sleep doing. My medium is graphite. While I have also drawn using watercolor pencils, charcoal, and pen, I have the most control over graphite. I can push it on the paper and don’t feel rushed and impatient getting it to where I need it on the paper. My latest drawing is of Steve, my one true love. I chose a work photo and traced the proportions (the outline of his head, hat, uniform, ears, and eyes) because I struggle with getting those things down on paper. I used to think it was cheating, but many artists use trace paper to capture proportion. I also draw from either a photo or the person (if he or she is willing to sit still long enough.) Since this drawing has been going on for months, no one normally will sit that long, but I have drawn faces from just a model.

Pictured below is my progress to date. It has taken hours for me to get this far. I still have his uniform, the flag, and the hat to finish. When I am done, I will publish the results and the photo for comparison.

photo (4)

The tracing of the photograph that helps me with proportion.photo (2)

Skies at Home


While my husband fished the Eastatoe River, I watched the clouds.At fall sunset in Liberty, SC

I am a creature of the air.  Even in my dreams, I fly.  When I am outside, while the trees and ground hold my interest, the sky claims my heart.  This photo was taken while my husband fished for trout in Eastatoe River, South Carolina.  With hands clasped behind my head, I lay on a rock while clouds drifted across the March skies of deep blue. I was entranced and could have lain there for a very long time.

While the next photo isn’t of good quality (taken with my iPhone in low light), it was the deep violets and pinks painting the sky above the setting sun.  I wanted to save those colors–what a palette!  This picture was snapped at my home in South Carolina.

This next photo was taken (again on my iPhone) on a Friday night in Liberty, South Carolina.  Bradley had a game that night, and Steve and I though it was a good omen–see the “V” the sun made in the sky?  V is for victory!

The last Friday night football game at Liberty High School--Vor victory–they won.

This photo below was taken with my iPhone, and has incredible depth.  I took this near Clemson, South Carolina at Twelve Mile Park.  It was perfectly timed for the light and that was exactly what the simple camera needed to capture all the details.  I could get lost in this sky.  I love water and how light reflects off of it.  Mostly, I like the way the water interprets the sky.

The last photo was taken in Florida in early spring at Big Shoals State Park in north Florida.  I love the way the Suwannee River completely reflects the sky–even the vivid blues of that afternoon.

Sunset at Twelve Mile Park near Clemson University, SC

The sky reflected in the Suwannee River in Branford, Florida–my parents' home.

The sky reflected in the Suwannee River in Branford, Florida–my parents’ home.

Next year, our school is going to allow students to take classes online.  I can hear the WHOOPS and HOLLERS now! Many of our students will be happy to ditch the living presence of their teachers  for  electronic-based instruction.  F-R-E-E-D-O-M will be their chant.  What they don’t know is that these students will be asked to apply for those courses and our leadership is already anticipating this type of reflex.  The next thing they will learn, hopefully not painfully but through observations of others, that online learning isn’t for the casual, unprepared learner.

What we expect to see is that the typical student will no longer harbor the idea that online classes are easier, due to the fact that more and more high schools and middle schools already offer or will be offering online courses; however, we may be dealing with it in our middle school students this year since this is the first year we are offering distant learning.  I suppose the learning curve will be steep and we may see many failures.  Another challenge is that we are a very rural, Georgia school system, and  too many of our students still don’t have home technology or Internet access.  For those students who still experience technological poverty, the last 10 years at the elementary and middle levels have increased the use of computers for basic lessons.  Therefore despite the challenges, my prediction is  that the traditional, class-attending learner being the norm will gradually diminish even in our district.

Then what will teachers and schools do?  Remember, education, like government, is an old decrepit institution that is traditionally resistent to change. Teachers need to prepare themselves. As for me, I am preparing for the job switch. As a middle school child in the late 1970′s, I read the writing on the wall at Epcot Center in Orlando, Florida in “Carousel of Progress” (sponsored by GE) where miniature classrooms built in the home were a norm of the future. The display was fascinating–children reporting to the learning room to see their electronically delivered teacher–then buzzing in to ask a question (my favorite part is not having students blurt out).  It is the future, after all.  I have always dreamed of a touch screen desk where students watched presentations, read electronic books, took online tests, and scheduled tutoring help (funny how in my fantasy, they are still sitting in their desks).

Today, all my students in eighth grade writing classes turn all their work in on Google docs.  I evaluate them online and paste a writing rubric at the end of the doc with comments.  In addition, my students take instructional surveys on Google docs about my instruction in order for me to serve them better.  Next year, they will also be taking all quizzes online with a tracking program that gives us both information in mastery of our standards/targets.  I create for them an environment that is electronically friendly–they can bring their own smart phones, laptops, and tablets–and paper hostile.  While I still take paper copies of their work, they know each time that its not my preference (frown face with lowered, drawn eyebrows).  Even when I help them from my home to their home, I insist that they go online with me to discuss their work.  My students and their parents, 97% of them, accept this willingly.

What is most interesting to me, despite all these advances, I have found that my work hasn’t lessened; it has slightly increased.  I have to work harder to keep a balance between “home” and “work” since access to work related materials travels with me all the time in my electronic devices.  I spend more free time on work-related problems than I have in previous years. My challenges are new, and like students, I will work through them the same way people have always worked through problems–trial and error.

To read more, visit:  Education News: Student Desks of the Future Feature Interactivity, Connectivity and Re:Thinking by Ben Wilderboer, educator Blog and Another educator’s blog about the future and  Report: Online Learning Nearly Doubles Among High School Students

A large, old Live Oak tree in a pasture of my family's farm in northern central Florida.

A large, old Live Oak tree in a pasture of my family’s farm in northern central Florida.

When I visit my mother in father in Suwannee County, Florida, I find myself admiring the trees, those stately spread of Live Oak trees seen all over the sandy river bottoms of northern central Florida. During my most recent visit in March, we visited Ivey Memorial Park in Branford, Florida–one of the sweet little parks along the Suwannee River.  As I was snapping some quick photos of the trees, I found this carving.  It occurred to me as I walked around the small park looking for more tree carvings, that this neatly manicured park had many old trees, but no young saplings.  I suppose that the city frequently mows down any young tree saplings as they sprout.  What bothered me is that in about 25 years, some of these trees may be gone; I mean, they are aging–aging like my grandmother, and if there are no little trees to grow up around them and take their spaces left by these grandfather and grandmother trees, then one day the park will be barren. According to Clemson University Cooperative Extension webpage, Quercus virginiana or Live Oak trees can live 200 to 300 years and as they age, slow their growth considerably.  I don’t know how many years the old man tree is, but based on it’s size and the slight damage to its trunk, it has more years behind it than before it.  We need a plan, especially in public spaces, where young trees are regularly planted and nurtured for the future.


A tree carving in Branford, Florida in a roadside county park on the banks of the Suwannee River.

Instead of a tree-hugger, I am a tree-climber. To me, the best quality to look for in trees is the climb-ability factor.  Since I am slightly less than five feet tall, climb-ability factor has much to do with the many, low spreading branches of Live Oaks.  Although I am nearly half a century old, I still love to climb trees.  Most of my favorite childhood hours were spent in a tree of one form or another dreaming up adventures that only could happen in a tree.


Yes, that’s me sitting up about 10 feet off the ground on one of those low-lying limbs.

Celebrate!  I have been nominated by a fellow blogster (my niece) for the Liebster Blog Award!  It is a good thing to get me back to my blog.


I must fulfill the requirements of this award.

1. Post 11 random things about yourself.

2. Answer the questions that the nominator posted for you.

3. Create 11 questions for the bloggers you nominate.

4. Choose 11 blogs (oops!) that you love (with 200 followers or less) and link them to your post. I don’t have that many.  Sorry.  I  nominated tw0 out of my favorite five.  

5. No tag back. Leave a comment acknowledging the award, but you can’t nominate the person who nominated you.

Part 1: Eleven Random Things About Me

1.  My favorite food is oatmeal, steel-cut and served with butter, cinnamon, and a wee bit of turbinado sugar.

2.  I draw.  It is one of my passions.  I like to trace the living forms of people’s faces; I feel close to their souls when I draw them.  For a blog that I wrote about drawing, go here.


My last drawing was of my daughter

3.  I am athletic.  This is not to imply that I am in prime physical condition, but I could be easily.  I enjoying hiking, mountain biking, kayaking, running, and walking.  I bitch and moan for the first 30 minutes of the activity, but once I get past the pain, I could go forever it seems.

4.  Even though I am 4’11″ and petite, I feel big inside.  Indeed, I feel bigger than most people I meet.

5.  I recycle because, mainly, I feel guilty for having so much when so many all over the world are cold, thirsty, and hungry.  I can’t stand the idea that we waste so much here–everything is wasted.  How dare we?

6.  My favorite color is now purple, but for 30 years it was green.  When I was in second grade, it bothered me that I didn’t have one favorite, so after  I thought about it, I realized that I really liked all of them for different reasons.  I wanted my favorite color to please God, so looking around, I realized that God must love green for he made so much of it.  As a result, I chose green as my favorite. Amethyst, with a close second of green (think of Asters), is my favorite color–not too many people claim that as their favorite.

7.  I am never bored.

8.  In my elementary years, I spent as much time as I could inside my head.  For entertainment, I would squeeze my eyes shut and then watch the swirls of whatever was behind my eyelids.  I thought it was like a movie because at times, I could see images.  At other times, I would pretend that I was giving a speech in front of millions of people.  I couldn’t stop my lips from moving, so I had to be sure that I was alone to avoid teasing.

9.  The second toes on my feet are long–freakishly long.  My grandmother always said that they were “boss toes.”  I like that.

10.  I suffer from fibromyalgia, IBS, dry eyes, psoriasis, food allergies, and Reynaud’s phenomenon.  I don’t know the underlying cause, and the mystery irks me.  I also don’t like it that I can’t eat cake, pudding, steak, and other foods without problems, but I deal with it.

11.  I plan to retire in nine years.

Part 2:  The Nominator’s Questions

1. Since this is a blogging award, what are the reasons you started your blogging adventure?

I created the blog to impress my co-teacher, Mrs. Schyck.  She introduced me to Facebook, iTunes, and other modern computer-based activities, and I couldn’t stand feeling older than she just because I didn’t blog.  Another reason was to practice writing short pieces.  My students, eighth graders, deserved an English teacher who was willing to write with them as well as for them.

2. Who/where/what do you want to be one year from now?
I want to be a better teacher, mother, wife, friend, artist, writer, and citizen than I am today with people that I love close to the mountains of Appalachia.
3. How do you “get away from it all” and relax when you need to?
I get outside.  If I can be outside, I feel comforted.  If I can’t, I write.
4. What is one bad habit you have that affects the people you love?
I start things that I don’t finish.
5. Do you have a guilty pleasure? If so, what?
6. If you were doing the job you dreamed of doing when you were 17, what job would you be doing?
I would be an officer in the Air Force working in intelligence and surveillance.
7. If you could choose one place in the whole world to live for the rest of your life, where would it be?
Eastatoe Valley, South Carolina or Cades’ Cove, Tennessee
8. Do you have something in your life that deserves less of your attention? If so, what?
Negative people.
9. What is your favorite line from a song or movie?
Madagascar Julian: Shh! We’re hiding. Be quiet everyone. That includes me. Shh! Who’s making that noise? Oh, it’s me again…
10. What book(s) are you reading right now?
 I have just finished Empire of the Summer Moon:  Quanna Parker and the Rise and Fall of the Comanches, The Most Powerful Indian Tribe of American History, by S. C. Gwynne.  This was a great book because it detailed the most exciting and interesting period of American History, the 1800′s on the western frontier. I also love stories of Indians.  My current book is The Highland Witch by Susan Fletcher.  Even though I am not a big fan of fiction, sometimes I need to step out of the box to view life from a distance.  It gives me a mind-broadening perspective.
11. What is the most adventurous thing you have ever done?
I finally let go of trying to live the life that other people wanted for me and began to live the life that I have instead.

Part 3:  My Eleven Questions for You

1.  Why do you blog?

2.  What do you want your blog to accomplish?

3.  Tell me your top 11 favorites.

4.  If tomorrow was your last day on earth, what legacy would you wish to leave?

5.  Given one hour of time with no other obligations, how would you spend it?

6.  Finish this:  God is….

7.  If you could live anywhere you wished, where would it be?  Briefly describe a morning there.

8.  How many languages do you speak?  If you could speak another language, what would it be?

9.  What is your favorite song, poem, or expression (from a movie or a proverb)?

10.  Where do you go when you need peace?

11. What are you reading now?

Part 4:  My Favorite Blogs and My Nominees*

1. * Walhus’ Blog This blog belongs to my German friend, Michael Baumeister who works very hard for human rights in education for all students in Germany.  This work comes from his heart which has always been tender.

2. The General Specific is my niece’s blog.  Amber is very blessed and shares her blessings here.  She also does a fantastic job of taking us through life as a Marine wife.  I can’t nominate her because she nominated me.

3.  Momastery is a wonderful blog about life from a lovely woman’s perspective.  I can’t nominate her because her blog already has thousands of followers, but I want everyone to read it.

4.  Classroom as Microcosm This is my favorite educational blog written by a teacher in Canada who also teaches writing and reading, but to young adults.  Another blog that I can’t nominate because it has too many followers.

5.  * State of the Mind:  Ultimate Freedom  This blog is hosted by a college student who does all the outdoor things that I love.  Although I have just started following him, I have enjoyed reading his latest post.


I crave this lifestyle. One room. I can do this. Thank you for blogging about it!

Originally posted on Minimalist Living:

How to Live a Minimalist Lifestyle

If you want to live a more minimalist lifestyle to try and simplify your life I applaud your decision. You are going against the mainstream in doing this.

The mainstream says that more is better. Be busy all the time. Spend your money on useless stuff.

Those of us who enjoy minimalist living eschew this philosophy.

We want more time for ourselves and those close to us.

We know that less is more.

We may like certain items but they have meaning and purpose.

It is okay to be quiet and still.

So what is it about living a minimalist lifestyle that appeals to you?

I encourage you to examine your personal core values. Are your really ready to make some wholesale changes to your current lifestyle?

You may have to dig deep in order to do this. To let go of certain ingrained…

View original 355 more words


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