Memories 11 September 2017

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Today is the anniversary marking 16 years since the attack on the twin towers, the Pentagon, and the thwarted attack on the White House. I cannot watch the coverage without feeling like my air has been choked off and tears welling up, especially when family members read the names of their beloved, lost in senseless violence. And yes I know that this and worse than this happens all over our world, but that doesn’t make it any easier to witness.

And the devastation caused and being caused by the recent hurricanes has affected some

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that I know and love, and many of my students and their families. And all of this got me thinking about memories. We all have those physical treasures that remind us of those we’ve loved and lost, and maybe even those we never knew but who are still a part of who we are. Being told to evacuate whether due to flood or fire or something unforeseen, or just having to flee our homes and leave behind all of those precious photos or heirlooms or whatever it may be is so difficult.

And yet, we still have our memories. No one can take those from us. We know we can rebuild and start over. Of course it’s hard and of course there is heartache. But when we work together with family, neighbor, and friends, we find the strength, love, and courage we need to go on. I believe God is there in those hands, in those meals delivered, in those arms around our tears and grief. Reach out to those in need this day and offer them just one small slice of grace.

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Travel 8 August 2017

Many people travel over Labor Day weekend and I’m sure get to see marvelous sights or visit with folks they haven’t seen in a while, or fish and camp and have any number of great adventures.

Not having a lot of time, we decided not to let that hold us back and we hit the road Thursday afternoon to shave off 350 miles of our almost 900 mile trek to Rollag, Minnesota. We have a system for traveling on my work days. My husband drives while I work on my computer using my cell phone hot spot.

Friday’s drive north through Nebraska, South and North Dakota, and on into Minnesota was beautiful and green, rolling and in turns flat. Reaching the Western Minnesota SteamThresher Reunion grounds late on Friday afternoon, we were just in time for a rain storm and to peruse the lay out of the grounds so we’d know what we wanted to be sure to see on Saturday.

So many magnificently huge steam tractors, threshing machines, antique tractors, horse powered farm implements, stationary engines, and, ice-cream stands! The barns and restored farm houses and bread baking in wood fired stoves, and too many Minneapolis Molines to even count-like heaven to me.

Roaming the grounds all day Saturday, we had a blast. We’d meet up by the engines, go our separate ways, only to meet up by the engines again. Exhausted, we couldn’t stop smiling and talking about everything we’d seen. After a bit of sleep, we were back on the road early Sunday morning and home by five that evening, our spirits were fed and we were ready to get back to work at home.

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Adventures 31 August 2017

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Last weekend, I had the pleasure of seeing the premier of Frozen The Broadway Musical in Denver, before it even hits Broadway. My son and my great-niece came along and we really enjoyed the show. The music was wonderful, the set versatile and the northern lights were beautiful. The ultimate beaded curtain representing the frozen ice-palace made me want one! I was wrapped up in the characters and story, the stage disappearing as I was pulled into the land of Norway.

We all wished the soundtrack had been available so we could sing along on the way home,

but we settled for The Lion King and belted that out instead..”This is the morning report…” Now, I am surprised to find that tomorrow is September 1st! How did that happen? We’ll soon be on our way to the Western Minnesota Steam Threshers Reunion in Rollag, Minnesota.

It all started in 1940 with a little idea sparked from the soul of some local Threshermen over supper. The Nelson boys fired up the old Garr-Scott engine to thresh with steam again for old time sake with family & friends. The event continued once a year until 1954, when Western Minnesota Steam Thresher’s Reunion

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met formally for the first time and invited the public. Today the show has grown to include hundreds of demonstrations and exhibits spread over 210 beautiful acres” (Rollag.com).

We’re looking forward to traveling some new roads, seeing some new country, and enjoying Labor Day Weekend. Enjoy yours too!

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Teaching 30 August 2017

At the end of school, last year, I sat at my empty desk. I’d packed up all my teaching gear, collected over the last fifteen years and I’d hauled the boxes out to my pick-up: mostly really good books, some tape and sticky notes, scissors and my green stapler, three Pez dispensers and some Zots, and the pictures I always kept on my desk. Moving full-on into my life as an online teacher, I wanted to be sure these supplies found their way to a teacher, maybe just starting out, who could use them. They did.

I really dislike the end of the school year. I hate the thought that my students are flung into

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summer without a second glance, and I miss them and worry about them and continue to pray for them. This last year was particularly difficult as I knew I wouldn’t be coming back, so I wouldn’t see them in the halls to ask how they were doing or offer help to them with their academic or personal struggles, or just give them a hard time about not saying hi to me in the hall. So I sat at my empty desk and wondered what I could do.

I found blank paper. And I wrote. I know, big surprise there. I wrote a letter to each of them and told them about the person I had gotten to know in them. I said I believed in them and knew that, even though they might have bad days, that they would succeed. I wrote that I expected them to do their best next

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year in school and that they should make good decisions over summer. Sealing each one in an envelope, I took them to my principal and ask that he please deliver them to each kid after school started in the fall. He promised that he would, and I left believing that he would.

One of those kids sent me a Snapchat message just a couple of days ago, “Mrs. G, I got your letter and I promise to try.” And another sent me a Snap to let me know that they were working on prepositions and remembered what I’d taught them last year! Make a teacher’s day; it’s the easiest thing in the world to do.

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Professional Development 24 August 2017

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Professional development is important, no matter what your profession is. But, if it is just “busy work” as my students will tell you they’ve had enough of, then it is a waste of time, and time is precious. Don’t get me wrong, I love to learn and I strive to be the best I can be as a teacher, a writer, and a horse lover. I also know we can all relate to wanting to poke our eyeballs out with a pen when we get stuck in a “professional development” meeting that is lame, and worse boring, and they didn’t even provide snacks!

If you want me to be engaged and you have a purpose in the learning, then make sure I’m

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on board. Make sure it is relevant to what I do. Make sure that whoever presents the material knows what they are talking about and that they are flexible enough to move in directions the learners want to go, and that is still within the context of the development. Make sure you treat me like a living, thinking human being. Make sure there is coffee.

Are there places in your life where you need some “professional development?” I know there are in mine. I want to be a better spouse, a better mom, a better horsewoman, a better friend and neighbor. So, where do I go for this kind of professional development?

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Suggestions for experts?

I hope they know the “Star Trekkin'” energizer so we start on a good note.

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What the Day Brings 22 August 2017

Greeted by fog as I ran this morning was kind of cool because the stars were out overhead but I couldn’t see the sides of the road. By the time I turned around to head home, the fog had lifted and the stars were gone. Now the fog is back and thick and wet. Everything feels damp and makes me think of my good friends in Georgia and fireflies.

Besides getting my day figured out, the very early morning always brings surprises in shooting stars or bright planets, the ISS passing overhead or the full moon lighting my way. It’s a quiet kind of blessing in an otherwise hectic day, filled with the noise of life. I find peace there, talk to God there, dream there, pray for those I hold dear there, pray for those I don’t know there; and by the time I finish, check the fencer and pry all the gravel out of the bottom of my shoes, I’m ready for whatever the day brings.

If only I could figure out how to hold onto that peaceful knowing that everything will be fine, in the midst of daily life!

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Writing 17 August 2017

The two summer courses I’m taking in my creative writing master’s program are coming to their end this week. Both “signature” assignments, which will end up in my portfolio, are due. I’ve been writing and revising them all quarter as I’ve studied with my fellow online students all about short story and literary genres.

It’s been a pleasure to read the work of my workshop group and to learn how to critique another writer in very constructive ways. I’ve utilized this learning with my students and their writing to good effect. Wrestling with my own writing has been more productive as well, with all the other writer-eyes reading my work as writers. Input from others is critical to a writer, so I must find more sources for willing “pre” readers.

I’ve learned a lot, and I thought I already knew a lot, about managing time. I try to keep to a schedule so I am available to my students, to my own course work, and to the daily work around the farm, not to mention hiking and the flexibility to hop up and take care of whatever might come up in a day.

I started using a new resource in a timing app I found that allows me to input daily tasks with timeframes and different sounds to let me know when to take a break, when to get back to work, and when I’ve accomplished the tasks I’ve put into the app. Mostly, I love the ┬ásounds at the ends of the intervals! With a little breather between summer and fall quarter, it’s time to pursue some publishing opportunities.

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