The words you gave me

We apologize for the delay. The proprietor of this blog wishes to state that she was temporarily flattened by pizza sauce, sweet corn, and birthday parties.

Aw, you guys are so fun!

It’s chancy putting a game out there and not knowing if anyone will want to play. I loved watching you dig into your bookshelves. Your booklist was charming – reference books, all-time favorites, and even one of my dad’s titles – ranging from serious to slapstick. There were some classics, some inspirational, and some dry as toast, with a splash of whiskey (not recommended at home). Your kindness to me and each other was delightful. Thank you.

Did you know that one of you arranges her books by the colors of the rainbow – which pleases me to no end?

And these words…!

My friend Sheila emailed me to say that she checked four bookshelves hoping for something good. Four! and found “of” twice. “It’s a random word, dear, not a Message From Jehovah,” I told her. Her next email made me laugh. “At least it rhymes with love, she says, straightening.”

My friend Cris found page sixteen completely blank, between the introduction and part one of a medical tome. Very significant, that. If only I knew in what way.

We ended up with two main characters, Pat and Charles, besides dad and God. Your “boring” words held everything together (theoretically), and you had some winner nouns even though they didn’t know how to play nice with the other kids. The washstand and the R.R. were particularly unwieldy.

The following paragraph uses each of the words given me to date, and only those words, although some of them are used more than once.

Those schemes for the back door breakfast analogy you want will have dad as God. I want more green smoke for you. Pat schemes to have Charles for early breakfast. The washstand is in the windy October world. Charles is packing. Pat helps. I said I loved today. Charles had that last o’clock of life. The R.R. voices will have soul’s word in it. In Pat’s defense, I observe that Charles will have loved God.

I mean honestly, guys, it’s not a thing of great beauty. You can do better than this.

Are you sure you checked the right bookshelf?


Well, that was silly and fun. What would you compose from our word list?

The fourth word on the page

Confession: This past Sunday morning I was trying to impress my Sunday school kids with how smart God is.

He knows how many hairs are on your head, I said, even counting the ones that fell out while you were brushing them this morning.

He knows how many leaves are on that tree.

He knows what’s going to happen next.

He knows what you’re thinking inside your mind, whether or not you’re listening to me. (I can’t tell.)

There is no question you could ask him that he wouldn’t know the answer to.

You could say, Think of the Meadville Public Library, upstairs, tenth book on the top shelf, page sixteen, what’s the fourth word on the page? And he would know just like that.

I could tell they were listening then; their mouths opened.

I didn’t really expect that to say that. I guess it’s true. Is it true?

Okay, but ever since then I can’t stop thinking about those books. At home, I went to my nearest bookshelf, pulled the tenth book from the top shelf, opened to page sixteen, looked for the fourth word. It was –

But I am getting ahead of myself.

I thought it would be fun if you told me what yours is. Maybe it’s a secret code. Maybe together we would spell out something of great beauty. It would be fun to try.

At the very least, if we said what book it came from, we could compile a delightfully random to-read list.

Introducing flower journaling

Recently, while browsing the web in search of ideas for simple homemade journals, I stumbled across this gem–how to make a book with only paper, one rubber band, and a “backbone” of choice, such as a twig…


…a pencil


…or chopsticks.


{Check out the instructions here, from twowritingteachers.}

It’s too cool an idea, and adaptable for any age from preschooler to adult. You can use it for a notebook, a sketchpad, a journal, a love letter… you name it.


You can finger-paint on the cover. Better and better…

I’m going to use mine for flower-journaling, which is, as the White Knight would say, a tune of my own invention. I stumbled across that too, and I love it.

Sometimes I just feel muddled, especially at this time of year–either by a task list, a complex sequence, or a boatload of conflicting emotions.

So I draw a circle on a piece of paper, and I write in it the topic at hand: What I’m Feeling, or Urgent Tasks, or Dreams for This Summer. What I Love About My Life. Ingredients Available For Supper. Frustration. Happy Things From Today.

I draw petals extending from the circle, and begin to write in them. If I’m assigning the project to one of my children (Things You Like About Your Sister), I draw 5-7 petals. If I’m making it for myself, I draw petals as I progress. Who knows how far I’ll go? Maybe I’ll start a second row behind the first and it will turn into a chrysanthemum…

flower journaling

I’ve found it a valuable way to condense what I’m feeling into a few key phrases; to separate the parts, and yet visualize the whole.

Try it?

I Am From

What Anita did looked so fun I decided to try it too. Here’s the template if you want to join the party. Based on the beautiful poem “Where I’m From” by George Ella Lyon.


I am from hot suppers and homegrown cabbage and children in and out of doors.


I am from the ancient gray farmhouse, from enormous windows and unfinished rooms.

I am from the herb garden, the chestnut trees whose long gone limbs I remember as though they were my own.

I’m from hamburgers in the fireplace and not admitting I’m angry, from a 91-year-old grandpa in heaven and a brand new nephew on earth.

I’m from singing in parts and staying up late and making much of babies.

I’m from You’ll be just fine and Anything worth doing is worth doing right and Jesus loves me this I know.

I’m from rich holiday dinners, from seeds in deep rows of earth, from houses built with our hands.

I’m from Minnesota and France and Germany and homemade cookies and southern tea; from dad getting spanked in school and pretending to cry, from the Roth family Bible, from birthday boxes from one grandma and faint memories from the other and china heirlooms from both.

I am from Coblentz and Yoder and Yutzy and Zook.

I guess I am from Shari.


Where are you “from” right this minute? Jammies and hot chocolate? Laundry in stacks and too long a to-do list? Tell me.


An amateur word-picture, just for fun–though the experience certainly was not.


They turned me into a sickly sun set high above the earth

I scorched everything I touched

Blistered that desert

Heartbeats and mustangs gone loco together

And I could not tell the cowboys guns

From the pounding

And the pounding in my head


They turned me into an arctic plain

And icy winds played over me

Numb and barren and throbbing

The freezing and thawing, the cracking

Pain in my back, my legs, my teeth

And the pounding

And the pounding in my head


They buried me in oblivion

For hours I hardly woke

Except to ask for water and medicine

They cannot make me forget

The one who carries the pain of the world

Who heals the pounding

And the pounding

Oh the pounding

Healed the pounding

And the pounding in my head.