Forest Photo

I had nothing to publish on this Wednesday morning. Sitting in my favorite chair with a cup of peppermint tea in hand, I was stymied. As is the norm these days, the television news was depressing, so I turned off the tv and looked out the windows onto our back yard that slopes down to a small lake.

Seemingly overnight the leaves had overwhelmed the green grass resulting in a carpet of fall colors. Now I’m thinking about putting on a hoody and some boots for some serious leaf crunching. I’m sure Studly Doright would appreciate it if I did some raking while I’m out there, too.

The Assignment

Once upon a time I was a teacher. I wasn’t a great teacher, nor was I an awful one. I loved being with young people all day long, but I am a woman of little patience, and that is not a good thing when working with active children.

While I taught students in grades three through seven at various times in my career, by far my favorite years were those I spent teaching English to middle schoolers. I know what you’re thinking, “How’d someone with Leslie’s blatant disregard for the rules of grammar ever teach English?”

Shucks, y’all. I had a teaching manual. Duh. Seriously, though, before I began blogging I was much more cognizant of, and adherent to, those pesky rules. Now it’s “Rules, Shmules” most days. But this post really isn’t about me. Gasp!

One of the first assignments I gave as a seventh grade English teacher was for students to write about something important that had happened in their lives. It could be something funny or frightening, happy, or sad. I’m not even sure I placed a word count requirement on this paper, I just wanted to get to know the students better and to get a feel for their individual writing abilities.

I was shocked and pleased that those seventh graders went immediately to work, and after I’d read their rough drafts I knew that the students who wanted to share their stories with their classmates should have the opportunity to do so. Much of what they’d handed in was so honest that it had to be worth more than just a grade.

After making some editing and proofreading suggestions on each of the ninety or so papers (I taught four sections of English), I handed back the papers and told my students how proud I was to have them in my class, and that once they’d written their final copy I’d open up the floor for anyone who chose to share.

Now seventh graders are an interesting lot. I figured I’d have perhaps twenty percent of each class volunteer to read their papers. Instead, every single student shared their stories. And what an experience that became! I’m sure we spent way too much time on this activity, but my students and I bonded over these stories.

One athletic young man had us all in stitches as he told of the time he and his buddies got into his older sister’s closet and put on various pieces of her clothing, including tutus and swimsuits. and wore them to dinner, much to the horror of his sister and the amusement of his parents.

A shy young woman told of being chased by a vicious dog while riding her bike and being rescued by another dog at the last minute! By the end of the story her classmates were on the edges of their seats, cheering her on.

The story I remember having the most impact, though, was the story a quiet young man told about his mother’s illness. He and his father and sister were at the hospital visiting his mom who had been diagnosed with cancer. As the boy walked down the hospital hallway, he turned to his sister and asked, “Is Mom going to die?”

His sister became angry and told him that he just killed their mom because it’s bad luck to mention dying in the hospital. Their mother did die later that week, and the child blamed himself. The class sat silently when he finished, many were in tears. I was in tears, and I’d read the story.

The love that then surrounded that young man was amazing. Other students made a point to tell him he wasn’t to blame for his mom’s death. He knew that deep down, but hearing those words from his peers seemed to turn a light on in this child. I watched him blossom that year.

When we finished sharing, more than one child thanked me for allowing them to write about themselves. While I’d just been trying to help myself get a feel for their abilities, I got a good deal more. Extras like that are what make the profession unlike any other.

Peace, people.

The Meaning of Life

The Meaning of Life

By Leslie Noyes

We serve as witness

No more, no less, bearing weight

Of life’s existence

That’s why we remain

When those we love cease to be

We serve as witness

When my time here ends

Serve as my witness; I lived

I can ask no more

The Long Way

The Long Way
By Leslie Noyes

She likes to take the odd way home and longs for unpaved pathways. A crowding of trees on either side pleases her

More than she can explain. He, though, searches for direct routes, interstates and expressways. No time for

meandering hither and yon. No desire to stroll the byways; a clear cut destination with the horizon firmly in view.

Always ahead of schedule, critical of those who linger over the simple pleasure of traipsing off the beaten trail.

She loves him anyway.

Opposites Attract

Forty-one years ago Studly Doright and I exchanged wedding vows in a small Baptist church in Dumas, Texas. We were young, dumb, and totally in love. We were also poor, a fact I didn't fully comprehend until I began counting the funds we had remaining after spending a quick honeymoon in the dubious luxury of the Camelot Inn in Amarillo, Texas. 

We'd gotten married on July 30, 1976, and I remember turning to Studly on our 45 mile drive back to Dumas, Texas, and the rental home we'd signed a six month lease agreement on and saying, "This can't be right. We only have a hundred dollars left and you won't get paid again until the 15th." 

Thus began my understanding that my life had changed forever. No longer was I under the financial protection of my mom and dad. I was now a partner in a brand new relationship that extended beyond romance and into the arena of money. I was woefully unprepared for this new reality.

Thankfully, Studly was barely more prepared than I had been. Did I mention how dumb we were? The difference between the two of us was that he never doubted his ability to provide. I worried, but he never did. 

Somehow, we always managed to scrape enough money together to pay the rent and buy groceries.

Nowadays, the money isn't as tight. I still worry, though. Studly still doesn't. I guess that's the whole opposites attract theory in action. We've made it this far and that's no small feat. I think we'll shoot for at least another twenty years.

Peace, people.

Toby or not Toby

I am visiting my son and his family in Dallas this week, so my posts are going to be brief glimpses into their lives. Jason and his lovely wife Liz adopted this amazing Golden Retriever/Great Pyrenees mix dog about a year ago.

His name is Toby and he's approximately the size of a coffee table. I fell in love with Toby at first sight.

In the picture below Toby is telling my son that it's well past time to go for a ride in the car.

Studly Doright won't let me have a dog, but if he did, I'd want one just like Toby.

Above, Toby is charming a fellow canine. The little boy in the photo was enamored of both dogs, while they were so into each other that they didn't even notice there was a human in their midst.

Peace, people!

Thief with a Conscience

I am on a road trip from our home in Florida to our son's home in Texas. Studly Doright called me yesterday to say someone using my American Express card has been buying stuff all over the world including plane tickets to exotic destinations and a pinball machine.

This morning he called to ask if I'd just made a sizable donation to Doctors Without Borders. While I hadn't, I applauded the thief's social conscience. I just wish he/she had waited for a more convenient time to steal my card. Like never.


Irrelevant picture of an alligator.

Designing Woman

My mother had two hobbies: reading and rearranging furniture. I shared her love of reading, but never understood her passion for decorating. Once I get my furnishings placed appropriately they might remain in the same place for years. The only times I've moved furniture around are when we've been transferred to a new location. I wouldn't do it even then, but I can't afford new stuff every time we change houses, and no one ever seems to want our old stuff.

Mom never had a budget for decorating, so our furniture was about as basic as it could be. We had a sofa, a love seat, and two chairs in varying shades of brown, tan, and black, but by simply rearranging the pieces from time to time and adding a new throw pillow or a crocheted afghan she'd create a completely different look.

Not long after I left home Mom bought a floral sofa. It kind of pissed me off. For all those years I thought furniture had to be a solid color and at the tender age of 18 I discovered florals exist! Had I not been worthy of a floral sofa? Was she making an exchange? Me for a sofa of flowers and leaves?

Studly Doright and I inherited my parents ugly black sofa when we married, but when I had the opportunity to buy a new one, it had flowers everywhere. It was ugly as sin, but at least it wasn't a solid. That'd show 'em.

Honestly, I have no skills in decorating. I never thought of it as something I'd enjoy doing for fun, but recently I was looking for an online game to keep me from overthinking everything in my life, and I found Design Home. Now I'm obsessed.

Here's how it works. Every few hours a design challenge is posted, usually with some criteria attached, i.e. two metal items, three rustic pieces, etc. Players select pieces either from their own inventory, from the inventories of friends, or from the shop, and then try to create a pleasing room. Players also get to vote on other designs. I get a kick out of seeing how others interpreted the challenge.

Here's one of my designs:

Isn't it pretty? My mom would have loved this game. Would she have chosen a floral sofa? I'll never know.

Peace, people. Go hug your mom.

A Moment in Time

I believe I’m happiest in that brief moment when I’m removing my makeup at day’s end. My face glows and I wear a triumphant smile. 

“Here I am, world! I survived yet another day!”

It’s too bad that some famous photographer isn’t around to capture me in that ephemeral moment between being made up and being bare faced. Truly, I’m a thing of beauty.

I’m experimenting with this new thing called self acceptance. Be kind.