Monthly Archives: January 2018

…goose convention


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That’s right, we’ve got a convention right in our backyard. I loved going to NCTE or IRC when I was teaching, but, I’m resentful that this goose convention was planned really close to our bedroom sliders without even Moi!

We live in Illinois, thirty miles from the best city in the world (according to my mother) and about two hours from the ‘Mighty Mississippi’ (I was so proud in second grade when I learned to spell it).  Why won’t these goosey guys from Canada plan a convention in another beautiful habitat like Kansas City where there’s tasty barbeque or even southwest to ‘Sin City’ where a few of them can try out a new comedy act. The perfect place I think would probably be on the ‘Daytona Strip.’  The sound of the surf is so amazing, and I know those sunbathers would have some room for them on this beach (heck, I’m sure the Atlantic waters are still flowing free in Florida).

Every fall these geese awe us with their practice sessions of their famous V formation. But instead, of flying south like God taught them to do they decide that our small wetland area suits them even on many below zero days.  And nights.

I know you are thinking, “Oh Nancy, why don’t you care more about these precious little honkers?”

Well, it’s not like I want a hunter to go out and massacre them in the dead of night.  I can’t can’t gather my hunting friends because of legal issues they would incur.  Here’s a new fact, my teaching friends…they are nocturnal, did you know? I’m guessing it’s the guys in the group having a party every night after the convention hours are over.  They are up all day learning what to eat in the tundra. And at night they must somehow get a bit inebriated and get mad when their ‘girl’ gets too goose cozy with a new feathered friend.

And then they let the whole world know about it at one, two and three am.

And for the life of me this one I can’t figure out. What do they even eat when the lake is slick enough to skate on, and even fishermen have to cut holes in the ice to dip their lines in.  But they must be eating something because they leave a ton of excrement behind (maybe more like two tons).

I’m sure I’ll get used to all this stuff after a time, we’ve only been here since July. People have told me that they don’t hear subway trains after a while.  All I know is this.  I can’t roll them over from their backs to their sides like I do with Dave on some occasions.

And don’t tell me to that I need to sing them all a sweet lullaby every night until they drift off calmly.

They won’t.  I know because I’ve tried.

…working from home


You know the feeling of lingering and not having to rush.  The luxury of not having to be anywhere, not having to put your make-up on or change out of your pajama pants.  That slow cup of coffee is pretty sweet when it doesn’t spill out of your cup as you jettison to work with your honey pies.  As a matter of fact, I haven’t spilled down the front of my shirt for a good long while.

It’s sweet to make decisions on your own about what tasks you will take on and in what order.  Much like my former life in the classroom working from home is a pleasant existence of choices.  On a perfect day I write a little, read a little, write a little more. On a good day, I do the same but open the garage door to let the delivery men unload tile, or put a load of laundry in.

I have time.  Time to dream up stories and new ideas for stories.  Time to compose and look for a different sentence structure or a better verb that fits the rhythm of the article I am working on.

I’m still learning.  The pace of my former life still lives inside of me as I reach for my dad in a hug.  While I’m with him, the calendar and the ‘to do’ list emerge quickly.  With him, I do issue commands but also try to offer the dignity of choice.

Finally, I love this new journey, this new life, this new kind of slow.  slice button this march

PS  Many people have encouraged me to sub after I retired.  To be a good sub is a calling and it just wasn’t mine.  Last night a few of my friends said I maybe could try dog walking or being a personal grocery shopper. Both of those might be something to think about,  but writing and reading will always be a part of my daily business.  It’s who I am.


…you can


slice button this marchI don’t have an ounce of patience for stripping wallpaper that comes off in small half-dollar sections.  I don’t have an ounce of patience for painting closets, ceilings and edging or even rolling.  But ” you can,” I say over and over again from July to January. I have no idea how to lay hardwood in a kitchen and in a great that suddenly doesn’t appear to be so great.  I have no idea how to cut trim, install all new doors or do a subway backsplash with light grey grout.  But “you can learn, by watching YouTube, I have the utmost confidence in you, Dave!”

It has been a journey so far and I am pretty proud that we have finished all one level of our fixer-upper.  Oops, excuse me…that Dave has finished; my perfectionist…the love of my life.






i didn’t want to



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I didn’t want to leave my cozy red chair where my writing room where books surrounded me day and night and framed photos made me smile and cry. My window to the cul-de-sac festivities lost.  My battle with my man and his need to design waged on until he drove me down a lane lined with walnut trees and smelling of pine and wood smoke.  Seeing the wetland lake in the distance my heart did a pitter-pat. It was unkempt, not loved and as we crossed the loose gravel and opened the door, I feel my resolve begin to fade.  A massive rock wall from the peak to the lower level stood proudly before us beckoning us through the mess to view the lake beyond.  Awestruck I stood there, without taking a step any further I knew this was the place my dreams are made of.

PS I’m kind of excited about flash memoir…which is what you do every week when you SLICE.  A new person just joined her writing group, and this is a craft that she teaches. This is her blog.

PSS I like the idea of trying to write small and not long.


not done in an hour…part 1


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It seemed like Dave was always looking for a new house but maybe it got more intense when his landscape for fixing, changing and decorating seemed finished.

“A retirement house, that’s what he said he was looking for.”

He looked in Colorado for a ranch, dreamily looking for a place where we could care for llamas and alpacas.  Too expensive, I declared, even though that’s where Jeff and Brit live.  We looked in Ecuador for a second but then realized it was hard for us to even visit Emily and family for three weeks.  And what if they came home from the mission field, we would be stuck not even knowing the language of the wonderful people there.  We gave up the living somewhere else thing finally realizing that we could never leave our dad’s, our church and our friends and start over like we were in our thirties (double that and that’s where we are).

Dave kept searching.  I was content.  I loved our fireplace, our cozy finished basement and my office cheered me every single morning.

“We need a ranch,” he declared. “Look at our dad’s…that is why they can still be independent, you want to always be independent, don’t you Nancy?”

“I argued…well…I just get one of those chairs that go up the stairway, if that is what happens.” I retort.

Knowing he needed another argument. “I’m just looking, you know, for that special place…like the house you grew up in.”

I was startled, “You mean the house that we had to practically drag my mom out of when she was too old to climb stairs?”  My mom had lovingly spent all her summers scraping the ancient wallpaper and using smelly goop to scrape the wide trim and then re-paint.  She had patiently worked all the years of my childhood going room to room bringing it back to its former glory.   “Dave, you’ve got to be kidding.  Are you really in the mood for a fixer-upper! ”

He nodded, ” A  special fixer-upper, that’s right.”

“It won’t get done in an hour like Chip and Joanna do.” I said.

“Together, we can make something special.”

“I know,” I said.

“Be open, you’ll know it when you see it, Nanc.”

And Dave was right, as he usually is.