26 April 2006



Full. I am full to overflowing. Full of words, stories, thoughts that need to make their way to paper. Ideas take shape and begin to develop. Thoughts roll around in my mind until I can no longer contain them. I need to write.

From a young age, I wrote poetry. Sometimes rhyming verse, sometimes free form. Sometimes humorous, but often dark. Then time rolled on. Perfectionism took hold. The desire to write was pushed back to somewhere deep inside. But it has always been in me. Waiting.

Through my scrapbooks, the words have begun bubbling up again. I scrapbook primarily because I love to write. With a scrapbook, I have a reason to write. A subject to write about. An opportunity to weave meaning into my work. Through scrapbooking, I’ve mustered the courage to write more and more freely, expressing things that have long gone unheard. And the more I do it, the more compelled I am to continue.

Two separate conversations with editors have given me confidence. The first editor hugged me close and whispered, “You need to write.” The second editor, when I suggested that I’m not a real writer, asked me how writing feels. I told her that the more I write, the more I want to write. “Oh,” she smiled. “Most people find writing challenging and frustrating. If this is how you feel, you’re a real writer.”

So here we go. I have no idea where this may take me or what words may come forth. But I know that they are inside me, waiting for me to shape them into something of meaning.

20 April 2006

Library Day

Shelving. Checking in. Checking out. Alphabetizing. Searching. Finding just the right book for a wide-eyed second grader. People ask me why I still volunteer at the Beaver Creek Elementary Library when I no longer have a child who goes there. The easy answer is this: I love to be surrounded by books, and I love the order created by shelving them. I actually appreciate the look of books in order on the shelves. Each book has its own address, and when all the books are in place, it feels good. All the spines are lined up, just so. It’s satisfying to look for a book and find it, exactly where it is supposed to be. These are all things I love about working in the library.

But dig a little deeper and I just might tell you the real reason I work in the library.

When I was an elementary school student myself, thirty-odd years ago, one of my favorite days of the week was Library Day. Our library was on the top floor of the school, and I was always anxious to climb the painted cement stairs to pick out new books. I can still remember the feel of the construction-paper bookmark with its mimeographed seasonal picture...maybe a kite or a snowflake. There was something about going to the library that always gave me a sense of optimism, of excitement. In fact, I always believed that given enough time, I’d read every book on the shelves, starting with the letter A.

I can still remember the slight mustiness of the library, yet new books always smelled fresh when I opened them for the first time. Pulling on the drawer of library cards, but not pulling so hard that whole drawer would come crashing down. Listening quietly to a story while sitting cross-legged on the floor.

But the main reason I loved going to the library so much was because of our librarian. She taught us how to handle books so they would stay like new. She showed us the ways of Dewey Decimal so that we could find any bit of information we needed with the fun of a treasure hunt. She fostered in us a deep appreciation for books, not only for the information they contained, but also for the way they could open doors for us. In books, we could realize our potential. In books, we could learn everything, and that knowledge could take us anywhere.

Then one summer before school started, I learned that my librarian had been killed in a motorcycle accident. Suddenly I realized that she had had a family...a husband, daughters, a farm...even a motorcycle. How hard it was to picture her doing anything else except helping us in the library. How hard it was to believe that she wouldn’t be back in the fall. To this day, I have no recollection of who replaced her. She’s the only librarian I can remember.

And to this day, I handle books in a certain way because of her. I love research and thumbing through pages of picture books. I love the smell of the library. The stacks of colorful bookmarks. Covering a new book to keep it safe. Reading. Shelving. Checking in, checking out. Helping a reluctant student find a book that just might inspire her to read.

I really work in the library because my librarian awakened in me a lifelong love of learning. Library Day takes me back to those days long ago. It nurtures that tender, optimistic part of my soul. And from time to time, I still need that.

13 April 2006


A few years ago, around the time when I first planted my perennial garden, I received several unusual flowers as a thank you gift for a donation made to our public television station. Of all the flowers that arrived in that box, the one that intrigued me the most was this one: the pasque flower. That first spring, I poked it in the ground and it did nothing. Drooped. Looked sad. I wondered if it would make it through the hot summer and bitterly cold winter that followed.

But the next spring, and every spring since then, this is what greets me one morning, always by surprise. Long before anything else is greening up, the soft and silky leaves and buds of the pasque flower emerge. In a day or two, purple blooms appear, opening in the morning, and gently closing as evening falls. By late spring, the blooms have faded, but fasinating, spiky brown skeleton flowers remain, far too delicate and interesting to prune.

This flower is named pasque flower because it blooms around Easter time. "Paques" means Easter in French. I find it fitting that the flower blooms at this time of year, as it symbolizes, for me, rebirth. Spiritual rebirth, creative rebirth. Amidst the crumbled brown leaves of last year's untidied garden emerges a fresh, new spirit, not only alive and well, but strong, colorful and bold, and able to make me smile.

10 April 2006

Sheep Spandex

A few years back, we wandered into the sheep barn at the Iowa State Fair and instead of sheep in their natural state, we found sheep in spandex. Not just your everyday spandex, mind you, but bright, funky, retro spandex.

Now, one of my favorite things is to visit the sheep barn every August and check out the latest fashions.

Who knew that sheep had such a sense of

06 April 2006

Teddy's Big Day

Looking back over photos from last year, this one has to be one of my favorites. The 100-year old teddy bear with the blue ribbon belonged to my dear grandma who passed away a couple of Februarys ago.

Mom knew that Teddy was somewhere in Grandma's house. When sorting through boxes and trunks in the hot and musty attic, Mom felt a distinctive lump in the bottom of a black plastic garbage back buried under a pile of insulation. She knew immediately that it was Teddy. She carried him carefully down the rickety stairs into the light.

The minute I saw Teddy, I recognized him like an old, forgotten friend. Mom carefully dusted his golden fur. I was sure that I could see a gleam in his eye.

Suddenly I could remember playing with Teddy on Sunday afternoons as a child at Grandma's house. In those days, he wore a little green outfit that Grandma had sewn for him. Teddy had been well-loved by three generations.

Teddy sat in my parent's family room until it was time for him to travel to the Iowa State Fair last August. Imagine how that must have felt to Teddy: All those years trapped in a garbage bag and now to be on display in Pioneer Hall. On opening day of the fair, we found Teddy sitting tall in a glass case, proudly sporting a blue ribbon.

Well-deserved, Teddy. Your day has come.

04 April 2006


So yesterday was the day for me to catch up on some projects for the store. The task looming ahead of me was to create instructions for 4 projects. Soon after starting to type up my text in Word, I noticed something was horribly wrong: every time I typed certain words (like "a", "and", or "the") they were replaced by "April Fool's!"! I was sure I had some dreaded April Fool's Day Virus and proceeded to spend the next 2 hours searching all over the web for 1) the name of the virus and 2) how to get rid of it. Two complete virus scans of the computer detected nothing. DH was on the verge of recommending a complete scrubbing of the computer.

Coming up at a complete loss, I finally posted a message on 2Peas asking if anyone had heard of this virus (in case you didn't know, the Peas collectively know EVERYTHING). Within a few minutes, some kind soul replied that no, it was not a virus, but more likely that SOMEONE was playing a trick on me using the Auto-Correct feature in MS Word.

Someone playing an April Fool's trick on ME? Two days late? I knew immediately who was on my short list of suspects.

When I picked up the suspect at school, I told her I was late because I had been searching for the source of the computer VIRUS that had infected my documents. Had she ever heard of such a thing, I asked?

At which point the suspect broke into fits of hysterical laughter, not only because she really got me, but also because I had proceeded to embarrass myself on a huge world-wide message board inquiring about the April Fool's Day virus.

Suspect, just you wait 'til next year.