Blog

Only 150 years ago . . .

Only 150 years ago, if you had enough money, you could purchase another human being.  Can you even begin to comprehend that?  I am not a fan of the modern trend of judging our ancestors according to today's more enlightened standards, and I've always been proud of my...

read more

Looking on the bright side . . .

After all my ranting about how miserable I am living in a house devoid of central air conditioning, I feel compelled to mention the benefits.   Just as I used to say back in the days when living without AC myself only a theory, having air conditioning does keep people...

read more

I hate change

Anyone who knows me knows this.  So I was distressed to read this just now.  You see, I'm one of those rare Knoxvillians who did give up downtown as a bad job in the 70s, or just discover it in recent years.  Our route from Knoxville Catholic High School when it was...

read more

Legacies

I call her Grandmother, even though I never knew her, because that is what my mother called her, but her name was Mary Becker Hagan Higgins.   She was born in 1891 in Mobile, Alabama, and she died in 1960.  My grandmother had a picture of her framed on the antique...

read more
Doctor Elvyn "Doc" Davidson 1923-2010

Doctor Elvyn "Doc" Davidson 1923-2010

After Bob Dewine died at Easter, I was talking to his son-in-law about how sad it was to see many of the pillars of our church community growing older and leaving us.  I knew then that Doc Davidson had not been doing well, and I was dreading his loss.  I'm not sad for...

read more

Influencing on the Web

So I was reading today about Fast Company's The Influence Project: In roughly 24 hours, nearly 6,000 people have registered to participate in an experiment we started called The Influence Project. It's been written about by TechCrunch, The Huffington Post, The New...

read more
Good morning, Baltimore!

Good morning, Baltimore!

Baltimore, Maryland was not a place I ever thought much about growing up.  I doubt it was on my list of places I wanted to visit.  But I married a man who was born and raised in Baltimore, where his mother and other relatives still live, so I have spent a lot of time...

read more
Got baby?

Got baby?

Because I'm on vacation (where I envisioned I would have uninterrupted to hours to blog, but that isn't happening) here is another column reprint for you: Billboards. They are everywhere in our town and in our state. Their unsightliness mars the beauty of rural...

read more

Everlasting Laundry

My favorite part of going on vacation is getting away from housework, cooking, dishes . . . all of the everyday chores that cannot be put off or ignored.  When I am at home, if I am not doing those things, I am feeling guilty about not doing them.  The only way I can...

read more

New Life

Congratulations to my friend Katie and her husband Jon on the birth of Georgia Allison Hickman, who has brought a gigantic dose of joy to a family sorely in need of it after the loss of the big brother she will never meet in this life.  Georgia arrived a month early...

read more

Simple Pleasures

On day one of our vacation, I spent four hours in the motel pool.  I think I was in there longer than any of the children.  I have not felt so good in over a month.  Between cold water and frigid motel air conditioning, I think I've died and gone to Heaven.

read more

My son, the chef

I remember when Jake and Teddy were about two and three, and the mailman saw them standing together outside the house eating a snack.  He told me, "If you think they eat a lot now, just wait until they are both teenagers!"  (Why do parents love to scare other...

read more

It's been quiet . . .

Please don't give up on me and keep checking back for new posts.  I've had a lot of office work to keep up with, and the heat (90s for days on end, and as you know our AC is limited) is sapping my energy so that I've resorted to daily siestas!  I have two pages of...

read more
Ascent into Hell

Ascent into Hell

It was with great relief that I walked into the air conditioned church this morning, but I remember when it wasn't that way.  Summer at Immaculate Conception meant that the stained glass windows (now permanently closed and sealed with protective outer coverings) were...

read more
Wishful thinking

Wishful thinking

Yesterday a Facebook friend was trying to convince others, via her status, that Pepsi was debuting a new can that included the whole Pledge of Allegiance except for the words "under God" (the HEATHENS!).  We were all supposed to put this in our statuses and NEVER EVER...

read more

Private pain

 A WONDERFUL FACT to reflect upon, that every human creature is constituted to be that profound secret and mystery to every other. A solemn consideration, when I enter a great city by night, that every one of those darkly clustered houses encloses its own secret; that...

read more

In lieu of flowers

Henry's mama has asked friends to publicize the scholarship fund his family has set up in his memory, which will pay for treatment for other addicted young people whose families could not otherwise afford it.  Henry's guitar teacher wrote a lovely song in Henry's...

read more

Enough with the bugs, already!

Now we have ANTS.  The little bitty ones. The exterminator was out here just a few days ago, and it did not one lick of good.  They are everywhere--crawling on the counters, over the dishes in the sink, in the garbage, and--need I add--all over me!

read more

Roll Call

So, who's still here?  Quite a few people seem to be dropping by, and I'd love to know who you are.  Please introduce yourselves in the comments.  What brought you here?  If you've stayed, what sorts of posts do you enjoy?  Any suggestions for future posts?  It gets...

read more

Whither ideas?

My last semester in college I took four English classes (guess what my major was?) and one Health class.  Two of my English classes (20th Century Catholic Fiction and Southern RenaissanceFiction) were four-credit classes with three five-page papers and two ten-page...

read more

Why do writers write?

Like picking a scab, I keep returning to the most recent News Sentinel article on Henry's death, the one they decided to run as the LEAD STORY on the morning of his funeral.  As if the statement by the Sheriff wasn't upsetting enough, when you read stories online you...

read more

Joy mixed with sorrow

I might as well confess that I enjoy a good funeral.  The singing, the eulogizing, the visiting with rarely seen friends and relatives, even the catharsis of tears.  But implicit in my notion of the "good funeral" is that it is a remembrance for one who lived a full...

read more

The boy can eat!

For years my oldest son, Jake, was a skinny fellow.  Last summer he grew.  And grew.  He spent most of his time eating and gained 40 lbs. It looks like all "training" paid off, as this afternoon he won the biscuit eating contest at the first annual International...

read more
Remember

Remember

This is a favorite poem of mine--I have it almost by heart; but I did Google it to make sure and found it on a wonderful website with a collection of quotations and other resources for those who are grieving the loss of a loved one. Remember me when I am gone away,...

read more

Discouraging

I am extremely upset to hear the latest on the investigation into Henry Granju's death.  I hope that the celebration of his life that his family has planned for tomorrow morning will not be overshadowed by this latest controversy.  Their already impossibly difficult...

read more

Fearful parenting

Pictured above is the Weigel's on Fox Lonas, a frequent post-school stop for our family.  We are also daily--or more--patrons of the Weigel's at the corner of Morrell and Northshore.  It's one of the perks of moving--for the first time in several years (since our...

read more

Misunderstandings

Emily, while reading a book, to me:  "I hate linen." Me: "Why?  Because it wrinkles?" Emily: "No, because he was a terrible person." (Holds up book:  Nicholas and Alexandra) John, walking into the room: "I thought she was talking about the singer."

read more

A mother's plea for justice

Nothing can make up to his family for the loss of Henry, of course.  But that doesn't mean that they don't want justice to be done.  News of his death finally hit the Knoxville paper this morning.  He was assaulted over a month ago.  Up till now I would have thought...

read more

Scary

Years ago, John and I were Hillary and Bill Clinton for Halloween.  For some reason, the little people love to pull out the Hillary mask and chase each other around laughing madly.  I thought it looked interesting discarded there on my "antique" porch furniture.

read more

Just for fun

Once again I have pulled out some random pictures from my bottomless box for some quick inspiration: This was taken in February 1996, at Teddy's first birthday party.  I remember it well--an Italian dinner for 27, followed by cake and presents.  Watching the cake...

read more
The Circle of Life

The Circle of Life

Here's a column I wrote in August 2007, that seems especially appropriate today. “The circle of life” isn’t just an idea dreamed up by Disney. Every day we are confronted with its reality–births, deaths, and every stage and milestone in between. Rarely, though, has it...

read more

A celebration

Henry's mama has shared the details of the services for him, and a way those who wish can honor his memory, on her blog, which is back up after having crashed earlier today from the traffic of the hundreds of people who came to wish the family well.

read more

One way to help

Katie's co-workers at Ackermann PR have asked friends to pass along this link which has information on how people can contribute to a fund to help the family with the financial burdens which they will be facing on top of everything else after Henry's 37 day...

read more

Sad News

Henry has died.  Please pray for his family. Just as God gives us loved ones and does not lose them in giving, so we do not lose them in returning them to Him.  For life is eternal, love is immortal, and death is just a horizon  beyond which we cannot see with narrow,...

read more

Sick of Farmville

I didn't get what the big deal was when I first started playing Farmville.  It seemed like a poor imitation of Farm Town, which I was already playing and enjoying.  In fact, I still think that most things about Farm Town are superior--the graphics, the speed, the...

read more
The Terrifying Teens

The Terrifying Teens

The thing about being the mother of three preschoolers is that eventually you will be the mother of three teenagers.  You hear a lot about the Terrible Twos, but what about the Terrifying Teens? With three teenagers in my house this summer, and with the tragedy of...

read more

Blasts from the past

O.K., here is a Bad Mother confession:  I have not put any pictures of my kids in albums since #3 was brand new.  He is now 15.  There is a large box next to my desk full of picture envelopes, and it's not the only box I have.  So I think I will turn a negative...

read more

School's Out!

Yesterday was the last day of school.  So we welcomed in summer with our traditional last day treat:  a trip to the Fountain City Creamery Park Grille for ice cream cones. We followed this with a walk around Fountain City Lake, a.k.a. the Duck Pond.  I have to say,...

read more
He's a Poet and We Know It

He's a Poet and We Know It

My oldest son, Jake, has had a challenging semester, to put it mildly.  Tomorrow is the last day of his Sophomore year, and boy are we glad!  He took his Chemistry exam today, and for extra credit, wrote the following poem--which demonstrates that his true talents lie...

read more

Another guilty pleasure

I really dislike most children's programming of the educational variety--it has a didactic tone that grates on me.  Every story may have a moral, but do we have to beat kids over the head with it?  And that's why I love the Teletubbies.  I don't feel like they are...

read more

No expert here

I am not a parenting expert.  I am not a parenting expert.  I am not a parenting expert.  I want to make sure that I make that perfectly clear!  It can be dangerous to be thought of as a parenting expert, because then you are expected to have perfect children.  Then...

read more
The Little Black Boy

The Little Black Boy

Most of my classes my first year at Georgetown were part of the Liberal Arts Seminar, an interdisciplinary course taught by renowned professors of English, Theology, Philosophy, and History.  Our English professor, Wordsworth scholar Paul F. Betz, introduced us to...

read more

Talking to Kids about Race

Update: I wrote this five years ago.  I think many of us hoped racism would die simply die out along with elderly racists.  What happened in Charleston makes it clear that racism persists even in the young.  So those of us who are parents have a responsibility to try...

read more

Through my window

I wrote a couple of days ago about how much I enjoy the ability to easily open the windows in our new house.  I also love what I see when I look out.  This is what I see when I am working at my desk: The windows in my office provide a feast for almost all the senses. ...

read more

Keeping Christmas all the year

Christmas was anything but peaceful this year, since we were in the process of moving.  I love to collect new decorations, but this was the only one I bought this year.  And when it was time (past time) to take them down, I decided to leave this one. Our house is...

read more

Windows

My beautiful old Victorian house had the original double-hung windows.  But most of them were stuck, painted, or even epoxied shut!   Even when we managed to pry one open, most of the ropes that held the counter weights had broken long ago.  So we had to prop them up...

read more
Sleeping Beauty

Sleeping Beauty

Most mornings, after I get up at 6:30 and wake the boys, prod Jake to get ready, make breakfast for John, and close the door behind the three of them, I go back to bed for an early morning nap.  I try not to feel guilty about this, because I work hard all day long,...

read more

Nature red in tooth and claw

The poison ivy saga continues.  Lorelei and William are covered in it.  I now have patches all over my body, doubtless from clingy Lorelei's little hands since there is no way the actual ivy touched me in most of these spots!  To add to the fun, I also have enormous...

read more
Peace

Peace

Just this morning, as my husband and I were rushing through breakfast and trying to wake our older kids up for Mass, I said, "Sometimes I envy those people who post things on Facebook like, 'Having a peaceful Sunday morning reading the paper,'  don't you?  Wouldn't it...

read more

More on kindergarten

More bad news for those of us who have kids entering kindergarten (plus more dismaying news about education in general): Up until very recently, it was considered developmentally appropriate to begin serious reading instruction in the second grade. Now, however,...

read more

If you love Knoxville . . .

. . . you will enjoy this site.  I stumbled upon it when looking for illustrations for another post.  It contains a variety of shots oh Knoxville--I especially enjoyed the downtown pictures and the Neyland Stadium shots.  And if you don't know Knoxville, taking a peek...

read more
Coffee:  A Love Story

Coffee: A Love Story

It all began in the summer of 1986.  I was home after my first year at Georgetown, working as a waitress at Cracker Barrel, a thankless job if ever there was one.  Each evening, around 9:30, my exhausted fellow waitresses would retreat to a smoky cubicle equipped with...

read more
Finding Balance

Finding Balance

Balance.  Does anyone have it?  You hear everyone talking about having too much on their plates.  Of juggling all their responsibilities.  Well, my plate overflows on a daily basis and I can't keep all those balls in the air (in my case, it's actually flaming...

read more

I'm gonna need an ocean of calamine lotion

I HATE POISON IVY.  I cannot seem to escape the stuff.  It encircled the backyard of our first house, right where I wanted to plant a border of daylilies.  I wore gloves and long sleeves when I tried to pull it up, and still ended up with welts all over my arms.  My...

read more
'Tis the Month of Our Mother

'Tis the Month of Our Mother

Sitting outside this evening, I smelled the honeysuckle and looked over at our garden statue of the Blessed Mother and suddenly found myself launching into "'Tis the Month of Our Mother." (I frequently burst into song at the least provocation and have an extensive...

read more

Tennessee Tragedy

If you don't live in Tennessee, you might be unaware that heavy rains flooded Nashville.  My cousin and her husband went canoeing around her neighborhood.  The pictures from downtown are simply unbelievable.  Read about one family's experience in my friend (and sixth...

read more
This is the Time to Remember

This is the Time to Remember

This column reprint from 2007 seems especially apropos for a lovely spring day which I spent sitting at a desk drafting motions for continuances while my kids played outside in the sunshine.  Over the past few weeks several people have mentioned that they haven’t seen...

read more
One Is Silver and the Other Gold

One Is Silver and the Other Gold

The popularity of Facebook has made the concept of community-building via the internet commonplace. But for most of us, our Facebook friends are people we know in real life, even if we haven't seen them in a long time or do not know them very well. The idea of...

read more
Two Walks

Two Walks

I love walking, but I like to walk SOMEWHERE. That's something I miss since our move from an urban neighborhood with sidewalks and shopping, parks, and more within just a few blocks, to a suburban home on a dangerous road with no sidewalks at all and no safe way to...

read more

Thanks be to God

 If you are a mother, you remember how excited you were to hear your baby say, “Mama,” for the first time. Today my friend Katie got to experience that joy again, but infinitely multiplied, when Henry woke up and said, “Hi, Mama.” Praise God! But please keep praying,...

read more

Please Pray . . .

 . . . for my friend Katie, and her 18-year-old son, who is in the ICU in critical condition after being brutally assaulted.  She is the mother of five (one in utero) and I know that she is just devastated by this.  Thanks.

read more
The Impermanence of Things

The Impermanence of Things

When we were preparing for our wedding, around 21 [now over 28] years ago, I made sure to register for a 12-piece place setting of everyday dishes and flatware, because I planned on having lots of kids.  We requested Pfaltzgraff stoneware, which seemed like it would...

read more
Homeschooling for Dummies

Homeschooling for Dummies

Catchy title, huh?  Seriously, though, I just don't think homeschooling is as hard as many people seem to think it is.  Or at least it doesn't have to be. Let me tell you how I approached it.  When I decided to keep Jake home for fourth grade, I registered him with an...

read more

Facebook Friends . . . and Foes?

It's still Education Week, but I'm taking a short detour to ask what you think about discussing controversial topics with your friends on Facebook.  Specifically, since it's a social site, is Facebook kind of like a virtual living room, where discussions of politics...

read more

Let's Talk Amongst Ourselves . . .

I see I have an enormous uptick in visitors today thanks to the mention by my friend Katie Allison Granju in her awesome blog.  So let's introduce ourselves in the comments below--I'll start!  Let me know who you are, how you got here, what you look for in the blogs...

read more
Math: How Much Is Too Much?

Math: How Much Is Too Much?

The accepted wisdom these days seems to be that our kids need more math in order to be "competitive."  The requirements at my teenagers' school just changed from three years of math to four--regardless of what level a student has reached upon matriculation.  For my...

read more
I Hate Homework

I Hate Homework

Since this is the week that public school students are taking the TCAPs, I've decided to make it Education Week on my blog.  I have enough opinions on this subject for an Education Month, but we'll just have to see how it goes. I've got a busy day ahead of me and as...

read more
She'll Be Gone

She'll Be Gone

It's late, and I haven't had time to post anything today, so I thought I'd share something I wrote a long--VERY LONG--time ago (about 15 years ago). [edit: this happened in 1993] The incident I recount below touched me so much at the time that I wanted to write it...

read more
The Feast of St. Bernadette

The Feast of St. Bernadette

When I was a little girl, I received The Song of Bernadette as a Christmas gift.  The story of Bernadette and the apparitions at Lourdes captivated me, and I immediately decided that Bernadette would be my Confirmation saint years down the road. I recently re-read...

read more

Jesus Is My Uncle

Well, maybe he's not.  Actually, I don't believe it at all, because I'm Catholic and our tradition denies that Jesus had any siblings.  This is some of the suspicious information you run into doing internet-based genealogy.  I was investigating my family history on...

read more

Why I Love Ebay

It really is true that you can find almost anything on ebay.  I know that many people shop for clothes there, and even big ticket items like cars, but I like to shop for treasures from the past, childhood toys, the kinds of things you think you will NEVER be able to...

read more
What Is a Baby?

What Is a Baby?

Twenty-eight years ago today--and I remember well my horror at the time, the parents of a child known forever as Baby Doe apparently decided that he was not a human being deserving of love and care when they allowed him to starve rather than correct a minor defect. ...

read more

Mysterious Wisteria

I love Springtime in a new house.  Every day is a discovery, as blooms appear, whether seeded by chance or some long-gone resident.  Just now I am basking in the beauty of wisteria.  I'm sure some people consider it invasive, but I've always wanted some.  And now I...

read more

Uncle Charlie

The picture that currently heads this blog comes from this image: This is a picture of my Uncle Charlie holding my oldest child at the hospital the day after she was born--that's more than 19 years ago.  I treasure this picture because Uncle Charlie died just a few...

read more

Hello world!

Since 2001, I have written a bi-monthly column on life issues in the East Tennessee Catholic newspaper.  Recently I learned my column was being cut "to make room for some new voices."  I was disappointed because I still felt like I had more to say. I've often felt...

read more
RSS
Follow by Email
Pinterest
Pinterest
fb-share-icon
Instagram