Garage Sale Day

A big thank you to Debbie Hope Norris and her sister for making the trek over from Bonham this morning to come to our garage sale.  I really appreciated you taking the time to visit.

Also, much thanks to Ronnie Ball’s wife, two daughters and granddaughter for dropping by.  As I said to them, “One of my greatest pleasures on facebook is seeing the wives/husbands, children and grandchildren of my childhood friends. I find it very touching.” I admit to getting a little teary -eyed when I looked at Ronnie’s girls and saw his face in their faces.  Yes, I do have a serious sentimental streak, for which I will not apologize.

Also, my cousin Lee sent a friend of his over with our mutual friend/family member, Jim Adams, to meet Ray and me.  We chatted with Jim and David and then I took David on a house tour.  In his words, “I was geeking out upstairs looking at all the Lyon memorabilia.”  Needless to say, we hope to be seeing more of David.  We clearly have a lot in common!

Much thanks to Parker McComas for making the trek from Anna to see us.  Parker always brings his well-honed sense of humor with him and that makes everything a lot more fun. Gayle, we missed you, but understand you were making tons of money today working, so what can we say?

Finally, thank you, Laura (Jeannine) Jones for coming to visit after sixteen years.  We picked up right where we left all, a true measure of friendship.  I enjoyed getting completely up-to-date on all the family news.  Hugs to Jim.  It was good to see your son and grandson too.

We had a great day.  Lots of sales, fun and camaraderie among neighbors and friends.

Now I must sleep.

We’ll be talking again tomorrow.

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Dragging

I would write more if I could get my fingers to move. We have been working all day getting ready for the garage sale and it was 98 degrees for most of the time we were outside. I am sitting here wringing wet and I still have at least four or five boxes to unpack. Those will have to wait until early morning. Right now I am going to take a bath, maybe burn my clothes and hit the hay.

My step counter says I walked 17,764 steps.

Enough said?

Hope those of you who are nearby will come by and see what we have to sell. It’s a yard-full, I can say that and we have several friends arriving tomorrow with their stuff as well.

Off I go to the bath. I expect to be up with the chickens.

Sleep well and I will be checking with you again tomorrow.

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Delving Deeper for Great College Essays

I have been working with students on college essays over the past few days, using shared Google docs and the telephone. It is always an interesting process and this year is no different.

Part of the fun of college essays is that we dig deep, looking for experiences that carry real heft. This is not particularly easy to get to and requires a lot of prompting:

“Have you had a particularly challenging experience?”

“How did you feel? Sad, defeated, frustrated, demoralized?”

“What did you do after you felt those feelings?”

Most students are very uncomfortable talking about themselves in this way, but this is one sure method to get down to a person’s core values.

“And then what?”

Deeper and deeper.

Many of my students laugh in the middle of this process and say, “I’m telling you things I don’t usually share with anybody.”

This is the key. The goal of the personal essay is to communicate in 650 words an essential truth about the writer’s life experience and that is never going to happen by focusing on surface experiences and emotions.

I have helped many students write their college essays over the past sixteen years. It is one of my favorite activities because it is so personal and ultimately so rewarding. I’ve watched kids with average grades and SAT scores gain admission to top schools primarily because of their superlative personal essays and I’ve seen others with excellent grades and top SAT scores get unexpected full ride merit scholarships to top universities greatly aided by their strong personal essays. More importantly, I’ve watched all of my students find that nugget of truth that sheds real light for them on their lives and their struggles and who they are deep down. That’s the best part, no matter where they end up in college.

I am lucky to have this job. I always come away with a sense that we have accomplished something that goes well beyond the college application process. We have connected on a personal level and I have witnessed a transformation as my students have pushed themselves to ask important questions about who and how they are and what they see as their purpose in this world. We would all do well to have someone from time to time asking us to probe into our psyches for those answers. I suspect we’d create a better world for others and ourselves if we did.

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Come See Us on Saturday for Our 2nd Neighborhood Garage Sale

Ray and I were up at 6 this morning, down at our bank building, pulling out lots of goodies for our next neighborhood garage sale which will be this Saturday from 8 – 5 in the front yard of our home here in Sherman, which is a historically marked Queen Anne Victorian known as Lyon House. We also brought a whole van load of antiques and collectibles from CA specifically for the garage sale and/or the antique mall. Several of our neighbors and friends are joining us for what we hope will be a repeat of our successful sale back in late May. We can only have two sales a year, so come one, come all! There should be lots to buy and the prices will be right. There will be antiques, collectibles, appliances, clothes, household items and books. Our address here in Sherman is 716 North Crockett Street. Just come on by to browse and visit. It should be a fun day.

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The Boy in the Box Story: New Facts

I had a funny thing happen yesterday when I went to my childhood friend Marsh White’s visitation at the local funeral home here in Sherman. I was speaking with a woman named Betty who identified herself as Marsh’s cousin. I told her my name and she said, “When I was fifteen I worked one summer for one of the Leatherwood families there in Bonham.” I asked her if she knew which one (I had lots of aunts and uncles in Bonham at that time) and she said, “No, I just remember the family had a little boy and an older brother who was a teenager, but he wasn’t around all that much. And one day I came to work and I found that little boy sitting right in the middle of 9th street in a cardboard box.”

The box story is a Leatherwood family legend. “If it was a little boy, then it must have been my brother Sam,” I said. “That means you must have worked for my family.”

“I said to Mrs. Leatherwood I had half a mind to spank that boy for being in that box in the middle of a busy street and she told me, ‘Well, that would have been all right. You could have spanked him.'”

Betty shook her head. “At that time, there was no way that a black girl of fifteen could have spanked a little white boy without getting in trouble.”

It was the early 1960’s in rural Texas and that was the truth.

“I sure loved that house, though,” she said.

“Yes, that was a beautiful house for sure.”

I don’t remember Betty and she doesn’t remember me from that summer. I am guessing I was busy with my friends during that time and her job was to watch my little brother Sam, who would have been around four at the time.

The “box” story has been told and retold in Bonham for a long time and the boy in the box goes from Sam to brother George in the variations. It never goes to me – it was a Leatherwood boy – and it speaks of a different time in history because no one spends too much time wondering where in the heck my parents were that they didn’t notice their small child out in the street in a cardboard box. Of course, there was a lot of speculation as to which brother (or brothers) might have thought it was funny to put Sam out in that box. Good thing all the cars going by chose to drive around it rather than over it.

I have heard many accounts from people who have heard the “box” story and even a few accounts from people who were driving and avoided the box. I have never once spoken to the person who actually retrieved my little brother from the box and escorted him to safety.

When I came home from Marsh’s visitation, I said to my husband Ray, “Well, it was Sam in the box for sure. I met the woman who wanted to spank him for getting in it.”

Thanks, Betty, for clearing that up. It’s only been over fifty years now. It’s about time to set the record straight.

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Going to Say Good-Bye to a Childhood Friend

I went to the viewing of my childhood friend, Marsh White, today at Waldo funeral home here in Sherman. I wanted to pay my respects since I can’t attend the funeral tomorrow in our hometown of Bonham, Texas.

I haven’t seen Marsh in person since we graduated from high school together back in 1971. However, he has had a big presence on the Internet over the past several years and I have gotten a window into Marsh’s life through his frequent religious postings. You see, Marsh studied at Dallas Theological Seminary and was quite a man of God. In fact, a woman who was at the viewing said she had met Marsh at the University of Arkansas many years before when she had listened to him deliver a talk on Daniel. She said she contacted Marsh 25 years later and told him how much that talk had meant to her and how it had bolstered her belief in the Christian faith. Quite a testimony.

Marsh was a stellar football player in high school and college and went on to play with the pros. The photos of him are ones that flanked his coffin today. He died of pancreatic cancer.

I know the world with miss this gentle giant, but Marsh is now free from the painful confines of a physical body.

Rest in peace, my friend, and may light perpetual shine upon your soul.

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A Few Thoughts and A Tentative HBO Recommendation

I am here in Texas, sitting in the room we call “the green room” because it has green floral wallpaper and a deep green ceiling, and I am struck with how odd “time” can be. Once I get here to this house, whether it is 6 weeks or 6 months, after only a few hours, I feel as if I’ve always been here. Very strange. It is as if my California life recedes into a pocket in my brain and I am fully immersed in my Texas existence, which includes life in a big Victorian, buying and selling antiques, organizing our rather large collection of odds and ends as well as dealing with renters either here or Fort Worth. I have a full set of friends and neighbors here just as I do in CA and we have many similar discussions about art, design, music, writing and concerns about the events in our country and around the world.

When I am in CA, I have a similar experience: Texas fades away and I am fully there with a life that looks a little different because of my teaching, the presence of our kids and grandkids and the orange grove, but very much the same in many other ways.

I suppose our brains have the capacity for serious compartmentalization.

I am hurrying tonight to finish this post because Ray is waiting on me to watch the next episode of the new HBO series, “The Night Of.” We saw the first episode last week and I can highly recommend what I have seen so far. A complicated story with lots of twists and turns. I will write more when I know more.

On that note, I’ll say good night. I hope your Sunday was relaxing and you are gearing up for a good week.

I’ll be checking back in with you tomorrow.

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Flash Fiction, Memoir and Essay

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