Sustainability is the key to all facets of life...whether it be farming and gardening, camping and kayaking, or simply living on this planet from day to day.

Campers, hikers, and lovers of the outdoors have been doing it for years. We call it 'leave no trace' ~ leaving things nicer than we found them ~ in essence, the very same philosophy that we learned as little children but, which sadly, for many has fallen by the wayside as life just keeps getting busier and busier and as the world keeps moving faster and faster.

Slow down for a moment and sit a spell in the rocker on the front porch as I do my best to return my own life to those simpler times.

Enjoy your visit, come back as often as you like, and feel free to bring a friend every now and again~

MarySue

"We never really grow up, we just learn how to act in public." ~Bryan White















Saturday, May 3, 2014

The Bored Generation

I think that I may just make this as a sign in my classroom next year...
along with one of my own "favorite sayings"




 As much as I love my students, the kids of today are truly the "I'm bored...entertain me (until I find that boring, too, and expect to be entertained again by someone or something else)" generation.

Do you remember how we used to look forward to summer break when we were kids? Now, the kids tell me that they are bored after about the first week and a half and that they have "nothing to do" and many tell me that they'd prefer to be back in school...even the kids who don't do any work while they are here and who "hate school" because it is "so boring".

That's when I get on my "Bored people are boring people" soapbox, because I believe it with all my heart. We have entertained the vast majority of this generation out of the ability to be creative, innovative, and resourceful. The creators and explorers and innovators are still out there, but (in my opinion) each year they become fewer and further between. The rest of them are all waiting for someone else to entertain them or to tell them what to do next.

It's sad, actually. We have created the Bored Generation by believing that it was our job to entertain them every step of the way, instead of letting them discover one of the greatest gifts of all...how to entertain themselves...and, ultimately, how to discover where, indeed, their true passions may lie.

Okay...I'm off my soapbox for the morning and headed outside where there are lots of interesting things to see and explore!  






Friday, May 2, 2014

Beauty is where you find it.

I have been away from the blog for far too long...in part, because I have been wasting way too much time following my friends' posts on Facebook. Again.

While I really do enjoy keeping up with their families, photos, big events, etc., it doesn't take more than a few minutes to realize that I am seeing more Buzzfeed ("What ______ are you?" With the blank being filled daily by some inane thing like a TV character, a color, a food, an odor, a board game...you name it.) and less personal content.

The best way to recharge (for me, anyway) is to unplug and get back to nature. Works every time.

I wanted to share this with you from my recent trip to Arizona to visit my parents. No real words required, other than to share something that my aunt said when I posted this on Facebook.

"You make that dusty, dry desert look beautiful!"

I didn't make it look beautiful. The beauty was already there. Sometimes we just have to remember to look!

Have a great Friday.


Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Who knew running was actually kinda fun?

This will be short and sweet.  I won't be posting daily -- just maybe 1-2 times per week for now and will probably only post 1 time per week once I get better at all of this whole thing.  I also am only going to step on the scale once a week, but, remember...that's not my biggest concern.  The rest of this stuff is.

Here are the stats for today and the video.  They really say it all. 

10/30/2013  6:18 p.m.  Completed 1.13 miles in 18:30 minutes. 
My overall pace was 16:24 min/mile and my fastest interval was 14:13 min/mile. 

Comparing this to Sunday's C25K 'run', I'm looking better already in just a few days. 

10/27  1.05 miles
My overall pace was 17:35 min/mile and my fastest interval was 15:22 min/mile. 

So...in just a few days, I'm already down over a minute per mile.  I know I am still really slow, but I'm moving in the right direction.  A friend who was into fitness once told me that 'the trend is your friend'.  Right now, it's a bit early to be calling trends, but my mini-trend is making me smile.  Oh, and get this...I liked it!  I never in a million years thought that I would actually enjoy 'running'.   One day I will just call it running...and not 'running'...but I'm still using the term pretty loosely.

The video will tell you the rest...





'til next time...MarySue

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Baby Steps to the Mountaintop


“It is better to take many small steps in the right direction than to make a great leap forward only to stumble backward." ~ Chinese Proverb

Photo credit: http://www.city.ketchikan.ak.us/img/bigpic_home.jpg

When we think of seasons and new beginnings, we often think of Spring.  It's only natural, I suppose.  However, new beginnings may occur at any time of the year and if we wait for spring to come, we only spend our autumn and winter thinking of short days, cold weather, and dreariness.  I planted garlic and onions the other day.  I won't be harvesting them any time soon, but if I want to have something to harvest next year, I needed to get the bulbs into the ground now.  So many things are like that.  

Today is also a day of new beginnings for me.  

I am 54 years old.  I will be 55 in the spring.  Just like my garlic, I don't want to wait until next spring for my own new beginning. I want to begin now so that I may reap the benefits of my fall and winter work in the spring.  

Today, I have begun a new journey.  I have been creeping toward this path for a while now, but today is the day that I have decided to make it official.  I am publicly putting my goal out here and will be video blogging my journey.  Mostly, just to hold myself very accountable for I know that with the days getting shorter and the weather getting cooler, I will be able to come up with far too many excuses NOT to progress toward my health and fitness goals if I just keep it to myself.

This is not about getting svelte and sexy...though, if that happens along the way, there will be no complaints from me.  It is about getting fit.  

I have made some pretty crappy eating choices along my life's path and I have been quite blessed that they have not caught up with me...yet.  While so many of my friends take so many medications to deal with chronic health issues like diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and the like -- so far, so good for me.  But...I also know that this cannot continue forever.  I am probably already past the point where my luck should have run out, so I have been drinking Mountain Dew on borrowed time.  

Food and activity are the best kinds of medicine.  So...with no magic bullets and nothing but commitment, good sense, and hard work...I will begin. 

I want to be able to hike to the summit of Deer Mountain in June.  

I have big plans for next summer.  If all goes as I hope that it will, I will be spending about ten days in Alaska -- kayaking, camping, hiking, and exploring.  It should be a wonderful trip! However, if I want to make it a really good trip, I need to be in better physical condition.  Today is my daughter's birthday -- a day of joy and happiness and new life.  So...what better day to start working toward a healthy start than today?

Photo credit:  http://www.experienceketchikan.com/image-files/ketchikan-hiking-deer-mountain.jpg
In the hiking information about the area, Deer Mountain Trail is listed as "more difficult" because it has some pretty steep vertical rises in a very short distance.  This will not be climbing that involves rappelling, ropes, and all of those things -- but rather hiking to the top with a fully loaded backpack of camping gear, spending a night or two on the mountain, and then hiking back down.  If I tried to do it today, I'd be huffing and puffing and gasping for air a few minutes after I started. 

So...not in just a figurative sense...but in the literal sense...I have a mountain to climb and I plan to do it in about 9 months.  Along the way, I will need to incorporate daily changes to my lifestyle.  

It's a mountain, but it is not insurmountable.  


One of the units that I teach my middle schoolers is Goal Setting.  I teach them how to write a SMART (specific, measurable, actionable, realistic, and time bound) goal, to plan and prioritize the steps and resources that they will need to accomplish that goal, to foresee possible obstacles to reaching that goal, and to have strategies in place to keep those obstacles from stopping their forward progress toward their goal. 

I guess it's time to put my money where my mouth is, eh? 

So...here goes.  
My SMART Goal:  To hike to the top of Deer Mountain in June 2014 where I will camp, explore, and enjoy the wonderful view!  
Resources needed:  
Health and fitness.  More specifically -- a cardio plan, a strength plan, and an eating plan. 
  • Cardio Plan:  Couch to 5 K Running Plan  I picked this plan because it looks as though even someone like me who has not run since high school should be able to achieve success.
  • Strength Plan:  I have two jobs, plus a small business, plus a life.  I know already that going to the gym is something that won't work for me and I don't do well with 'rah rah' group fitness stuff.  It's just not me.  My plan is to do home based weight training with free weights, patterned after the Strong Women Concept. 
  • Eating Plan:  My plan of choice is the Recipes for Repair: Anti Inflammation Diet  In addition to helping me to become more fit, this program will also help with the arthritis that I already have.  I have been doing a lot of reading about anti inflammatory diets and, even if I were not planning to climb a mountain, it's just a good idea to get as close to healthy, whole, non-processed, non-inflammation inducing foods as you can.  
As they say, each journey begins with a single step.  In my case, we're talking baby steps because I have been somewhat sedentary for a very long time.  

It will be a challenge, but it will be worth it in the end -- as most challenges are.  

Photo credit:  http://www.americantrails.org/nationalrecreationtrails/04photocon/images2/DeerMtn-AK_jpg.

I am also video blogging this, as well, to keep myself accountable. (Yes...I do realize that I said that it was 2014 -- but it's not.  I guess I'm just planning ahead!)



The first two are from this morning.  The third one is from after my 'run' (using the term quite loosely, I must confess) this afternoon.  I actually ran.  Slowly...but I did it!



Here are the stats from today's C25K Run.  I love the app!  I loaded it onto my phone this morning and all I had to do was click "Day 1".  It kept track of my time and distance with the GPS on my phone and told me when to 'run', when to 'walk briskly' and when to cool down.  It is very cool.

Here is my baseline and starting point:
10/27/2013  4:10 p.m.  Completed 1.05 miles.  Pace.  17:35 min/mile.

It's a start.  I worked hard, but I felt great afterward!


Before I close, I would be remiss if I did not thank two people who, whether they realize it or not, have been complete inspirations to me:  Julie Hendrix and John Radtke.  Each of them has lost more than 100# over the 1-2 years through no magic bullets -- but just through good, healthy eating choices and hard work.  Following you both on Facebook has been more motivating than just about anything I can think of.  You two inspire me more than you will ever know.  Thank you!


Oh...and just so you know... next year, no photo credits will be necessary.  They will be my own photos...taken from the top of the mountain.  

Photo credit:  http://www.experienceketchikan.com/image-files/deer-mountain-view.jpg

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Old dogs...new jobs.



I look into your eyes, Brutus...and I wonder.
So often, I wonder just what it is that you are thinking.
And...for a moment...I see myself in your eyes.
For, you see, we are both aging and we are both doing our best to do so gracefully.

You are, without a doubt, the smartest dog I have ever known.  
In fact, you are far smarter than many of the people who have crossed my path over the years.
I do not say that in jest.  It is quite true. 
You are exceptionally smart and I am exceptionally blessed to have you as a part of my life.

I remember the day that you came to us.  
You stayed with us for several weeks as a foster, tho I cannot remember exact dates anymore.
For you see, like you...I am aging a bit, too.
I do remember, however,  that Ben and I both were fascinated and amazed by you.  We still are.


It was with a heavy heart that I took you to meet your new mom.
I gave her all sorts of instructions about what to expect from you.
She was adopting an older dog, but I think she had puppy expectations.
Sadly, many do.

The very next day she called me.  She was angry.
She said that I had given her a 'handicapped dog'.  At that moment I knew where you belonged. 
Instead of giving her tips or telling her that there is always a period of adjustment, I told her that I would take you back.

She seemed relieved...but I don't think that she was as relieved as either you or I were.
You had played at my house for weeks with nary a limp. 
I had warned her about your injury and that you loved to play...you were smarter than she was.
That much was obvious.

The three hour drive to pick you up was not a problem at all.
I returned her adoption fee, took your leash, and secretly smiled. 
I was happy to be bringing you back 'home'.  
You certainly deserved better than the fancy house with the fancy attitudes.

I don't remember everything these days, but I do remember that ride home.
I remember it well.  You and I were both smiling.  
I also remember when Ben came home from school that day. 
I am still not sure who was smiling bigger that day.

That was the day you became a member of our family.
Interestingly, the limp and the 'handicap' that the lady had complained about were never seen again.
I often wondered if you planned it that way.  
I would not be surprised if you had.  You're a very smart dog.


You and Ben have always had a special bond.
I still remember the day he went to college.
I thought that you had somehow slipped away. 
You were nowhere to be found.

I was worried sick. 
I called and called.  I looked and looked.
Finally, at the end of the day I headed up to bed.  
No Ben. No Brutus.

When I walked past his bedroom, you let out a big sigh and looked at me with sad, sad eyes.
You were lying on his bed looking as though your best friend had deserted you.
I hugged you and cried and said,  "I know, Bru...I'm going to miss him, too."  
You and I have shared many moments over the years. 

You moped around for a few weeks.
Truth be told, I did, too.
But, pretty soon we settled into a new routine.
That's how life is.

We played, we worked,  and you remained my loyal companion.
I can only hope that I have been as good a friend to you as you have been to me.
You love to play...and still do.
But, even more, you love to work. 


It makes me smile to look at photos of you...so happy and doing your job...any job.
I always tried to find little jobs for you, as I know that it made you happy.
Whether it was helping me to herd the turkeys or to disperse the roosters
You always took your job very seriously. 

You have always been complex and I have always wondered what you were thinking.
But, now...I wonder so even more. 
I see myself in your eyes.
I see my parents in your eyes.

You still have the heart of a puppy.
Your mind is still sharp, but your body is slowing down.
As your eyesight is failing and your reflexes are slowing
I often wonder how you must feel to be aging.



Today you were doing one of those jobs in your dreams.
You were sleeping beside me and you were young again.
Your feet were running, your breathing was fast and you even barked a bit.
It made me smile.

This is probably what it is like to be in a nursing home where you spend your day sleeping.
These days, you must carefully plan your jump up onto the sofa next to me. 
I can see in your eyes the calculation, the worry, and the relief as you make ithe now big leap.
What once came so easily is now work.  

You snore, you eat, and you get let outside to go potty...always under watchful eyes.
I have seen you try to sneak away to do something fun in the woods.
I find it amusing that you pretend like you don't hear me when it is time to come in.
I know that you do.  You hurry faster to the woods the more I call your name. 

I wonder...will I be like that?  Will I want to make a run for it? 
When the time comes that my kids want me to slow down so I don't break a hip someday,
Will I pretend that I don't hear them and hurry faster in my shuffling old lady way?
I hope that I will.  I am taking lessons from you.

I know that you don't like the idea of being helped very much.
I can see your embarrassment as I lift you up onto the bed when the other dogs need no help.
You are proud and I know that you would rather have a job.
I suspect that I will feel the same way when I am your age (in dog years), too. 

We all need to feel needed and capable and loved. We all need jobs. 
Maybe, just maybe, your job has changed, Brutus.
In fact, I hadn't realized it until recently, myself.
I am always learning from you.





You have aged a lot this past year. You're almost fourteen. 
Now you have a new job...and just like the old job, you are very good at it.
It may not be as active as you would like it to be, but that's how it goes when we get older.
That's just all part of the circle of life.

We change...our jobs change. 
Although you may not always see your own contribution,
You have a really big job.  Bigger than ever before.
Your job, my loyal and loving friend, is just to be loved.


Saturday, April 7, 2012

Turkey Eggs and Taters

Spring has, indeed, sprung!

My turkeys have started to lay their eggs and I have been collecting them for the incubator.  I have three young hens and they are giving me 2-3 eggs every other day. 



 I am going to try to hatch approximately 15 eggs for the first go-round in the incubator.  Meanwhile...over the next 28 days whie the eggs are in the incubator, the girls will continue to lay.  I only have one incubator, so I am going to leave the eggs in the pen with the birds for the next four weeks.  Hopefully, one of the turkey hens will have enough maternal instincts to sit on a clutch of eggs.  The good thing is...they are a heritage breed (Bourbon Red), so all of their instincts have not likely been bred out of them and they will figure out how to sit on a nest.  I will keep you posted!

The second fun thing today is that I planted four varieties of potatoes...















...in old feed bags.  I did some sweet potatoes in containers last year, but wanted to give regular potatoes a try this year, too.

 This is my first foray into potato bags...so there will definitely be a learning curve.  These are just a few of the bags, but I wanted to give you a nice representation.  They are in my living room tonight because it has been getting really cold here at night and everything I have read says that potatoes like warmer soil. 

A few of the things that I learned today (and, as a result, I had to dump and reload my potato bags) were:

  1. Put rocks in the bottom of the bags.  These will perform a two fold purpose.  In addition to keeping them balanced and upright when outside, it will also enhance drainage.
  2. Put a layer of landscape fabric between the rocks and the soil.  This will keep the soil from slipping down between the rocks and clogging up the drainage holes.  (You will need to cut holes around the bottom of the bags to allow them to drain properly.)
I will keep you posted as to Potato Progress over the weeks and months ahead.

Happy Easter!

Monday, March 5, 2012

Thunder and Goat Kids and Chicks...O My!

It may not be here officially for another three weeks, but in my mind...Spring has definitely sprung.

A week and a half ago we had our one and only snow of the season. I was okay with that. 'Tis one of the perks of living in this part of the country, in my opinion. I grew up in a region where snow lasted forever and subzero temperatures would be the norm for days and sometimes weeks on end. It's funny. When folks here start to whine about it getting into the teens, I make sure to conjure up memories of Januaries and Februaries past when we were thankful that the temperature finally got up to zero after two weeks of chipping ice out of water buckets in the barn or the multiple trips of carrying my canning kettle full of warm water from the house out to the goats a few times each day to make sure that they were staying warm and well hydrated because the outside well hydrant had frozen solid. That makes me appreciate the warmth of the teens on a chilly winter's day.

But...as usual...I digress.

Spring has, indeed, sprung this week. How can I be so sure, you ask? My first sign was that my very favorite flower, the daffodil, is in full bloom. Yes...but that's just one sign, you say...and, besides...a little over a week ago those same daffodils were buried by snow. And...you'd be correct.

But...as I said...that was my first sign of spring.

Here are the real signs...all on the same day.



















Our newest additions....new life! 

Spring has sprung, indeed.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Welcome, Dairy Goats!

What a wonderful weekend I had...even if being sick is still taking its toll a bit. (But enough whining already!)

I raised dairy goats for many, many years when my children were young back in the Midwest.


I had a beautiful herd of Oberhasli dairy goats, but life 'got in the way' for a while and as the kids grew up and interests moved from goats to sheep, I opted to sell my goats and to get out of them altogether for a while.

A year ago, I bought a share of a goat (that's the only way that you can legally buy raw milk in Virginia) and had a goatshare, which provided me with wonderful, fresh, raw milk and cheese for approximately nine months, until the herd owner dried up the girls to get them ready to kid in January.

The more I thought about it...the more I realized that the time was right for me to get back into the wonderful world of the dairy goat again. It's a big commitment, as when you have a dairy animal, you cannot just pick up and take a vacation or have a weekend away whenever you like. Rain or shine, in sickness and in health, you have to be there for your dairy goats -- they don't milk themselves, after all.

After much soul searching and weighing of pros and cons, I have decided that the time really IS right. I want to be home more than I have been in recent years. I love to travel, but being away so much the past few summers has caused me to miss out on so much that is occurring right in my own back yard. There are so many wonderful things to enjoy about the summers -- particularly, as a school teacher who has those summers off -- that I'm making myself excuses to stay home. I'm planning and prepping to begin planting the biggest garden that I have planted in years. I kept back several turkeys to, hopefully, provide me with poults that I will be raising for next Thanksgiving. I am building a new little goat/chicken/turkey barn so that all of my animals have the very best environment possible. I am starting a chicken flock again and...I recently purchased three dairy goats.

Once the decision was made to get back into goats, the next decision was...which breed?

Again...much soul searching went into my decision and, in the end, I came to realize that since it's mostly 'just me' here, I don't really need a high producer like a standard sized Saanen or Oberhasli. I don't need a gallon of milk a day...or anything close to that. I just want enough milk for drinking, for baking, for cheesemaking, and...if I have a little bit left over, for fun things like fudge and goat milk soap.

I researched and researched and I have happily decided to raise a mini-herd of mini-milkers. It's a mini-herd because I don't plan to have very many goats -- just enough to supply me with the milk that I need for my personal use. Mini-milkers are something that was not even heard of in the goat world when I was raising standard sized dairy goats back in the 90s.

For those of you who have not yet been enlightened to the wonderful world of the mini dairy goat, the minis are crosses between standard sized dairy goat does (Oberhasli, LaMancha, Saanen, Toggenburg, Nubian, or Alpine) with Nigerian Dwarf bucks for first generation minis. They combine the best of both worlds -- a goat that doesn't eat as much or need as much space, but that still has the wonderful dairy character of the standard foundation breed -- combined with the personality and the high butterfat content of the Nigerian Dwarf goat.

I feel a bit like Goldilocks. The standard goats are too big for what I want (too much milk, eat more, and need more space). The Nigerian Dwarves are too small (hard to milk with their tiny teats, escape artists, and back breakers when bending over them). The minis should be 'just right'. They are a mid size, give a nice quantity of milk, and...best of all, it should be great quality milk, too, with the wonderful butterfat content of the Nigerian Dwarves.

I picked up my first doe today....Jill, a sweet little mini-Nubian.

Jill is (hopefully) bred and due to kid in mid-April. My barn isn't quite done yet, so she has taken up temporary quarters in with my turkeys. Interestingly, there is a little doghouse that has been in that pen forever (I thought that the turkeys might decide it would be a great place to nest and to lay eggs...but so far, they have not set foot inside the doghouse.) Tonight, after getting Jill all settled in (photos coming soon), I went back out to see how she was doing -- if she had found everything okay. When she heard me coming, she popped her head out of the doghouse and looked as comfortable as can be. I think that little doghouse may just end up moving into the new barn with her when she goes. She's a little wild, but with gentle handling and lots of TLC, she should come around nicely. My other two girls, Iris and Millie (mini-Alpine),

will be coming home in a few weeks -- after the barn is done. This will actually work out perfectly, as it will give me time to get Jill comfortable here and to give her the chance to bond with me a bit before her new companions arrive at home in a few weeks.

Just had to share...more to come!

False Spring has Sprung

This past week has been a crazy one for me. I am recovering from a bout of pneumonia which, in all honesty, probably should have put me in the hospital...but I'm too stubborn an old girl to do that, so I've been nursing back to health slowly. I cannot remember the last time when I have taken so much medicine. I don't take anything -- an aspirin or Tylenol for a headache, nothing. Zero...zip...nada. This week, however, I have been laden down with all sorts of things -- scary things that I'd prefer not to take, actually. Cough medicines, antibiotics, steroids, and an inhaler. I always have to laugh when they ask me which medications I take during the intake portion of the exam and I say, "None." It's as though they don't believe me. "None?", they ask, skeptically...and then it kind of ticks me off that maybe the think that I have just forgotten which meds I take.

"Not anything? Nothing for high blood pressure? Diabetes? Cholesterol?"

"Nope," I reply..."None."

I think that it is because I am over 50 and overweight. Not morbidly obese, mind you, but not as thin as I once was. However, I attribute my general good health to an active lifestyle and eating mostly natural, homegrown things.

But...that is not the real point of today's post. It is just an aside that I thought about as I started to type.

What this post is REALLY about is our exceptionally mild winter and my fear that with the warm weather we have been having that the plants are responding as if spring is already here. Can you blame them? We have had not one flake of snow so far this winter and it is almost the last day of January. The temperature this past weekend was quite warm and it is supposed to reach 70F by Wednesday. My daffodils are poking up out of the ground and many of the trees are starting to bud.

"Too soon," I keep thinking..."It's too soon!"

Yet...we all get sucked into this early spring thing. I was at the feed store this afternoon and folks were loading up carts with seeds and all sorts of gardening items. I, too, succumbed to the call of the garden sirens. I placed my seed order this week from

Southern Exposure Seed Exchange

...my very favorite seed supplier. They are local to me here in Central Virginia (actually at the other end of the very same county where I live). I went crazy with ordering...but that's okay. I plan to save those seeds that I do not sow this season.

I also pulled out the little peat pots and Jiffy mini "greenhouses" (quite a stretch calling them greenhouses, actually -- more like plastic trays with clear plastic lids). I bought all sorts of good things and I am going to be sowing some lettuces in my cold frame (which I never posted photos of, I just realized) very soon. I will start them in the house in the Jiffy greenhouses and then move them out to the cold frames when they are big enough.

This early spring thing is absolutely infectious!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

I broke down and bought a Kindle today...

Okay...to those who know me well, you know that I have ranted and raved about how we, as human beings, need to read books...REAL BOOKS. Not e-books. Not websites. The real deal.

I am a middle school teacher, so I have a front row seat on a daily basis to see what we have done to our kids (and, perhaps being dramatic here, but I truly feel this way) to our civilization by letting them grow up in a world without shelves of real books and the written word. Screen time and texting have replaced face to face contact and even phone calls for this generation.

As a part of my Consumer Rights and Responsibilities unit, I require that my students write real, physical, put-them-in-an-envelope-with-a-stamp-on-it letters to companies instead of emailing them or replying through the contact forms on the websites. I have them call the company's customer service number to get the mailing address -- something which is nearly impossible to find on their websites, I might add.

I encourage them to actually sign their names and not just to print them. In their eyes, I'm pretty old school. I am quite comfortable with that, as I think that there are still many old school lessons which have value today -- particularly in the subject which I teach -- Family and Consumer Sciences (or what we used to call Home Economics).

The part where I give them extra points for cursive writing causes them a great deal of anxiety. As you may or may not know, forty-one of our fifty states have adopted the Common Core State Standards Initiative, a nationwide framework for teaching children which no longer requires children to be taught to write in cursive. Only a handful of my students are able to do so. Those who can write in cursive wear it like a badge of honor -- signing their names on the front of their papers in big, bold script.

Rightfully so, I must agree. They should be proud. Cursive is nearly as old as writing itself. The ancient Greeks, Egyptians, Romans, and Japanese all used a form of script writing -- and in one fell swoop, we are killing it. (But it seems that that's another rant for another day.)

This all leads me back to my own personal struggle which a part of me sees as being a double standard -- a bit of hypocrisy.

My new Kindle will arrive tomorrow.

As far as being a little on the geeky side goes, I'm a very much out of the closet geek. I tried (to no avail) to closet my geekiness for many years. I remember the day that it hit me that it was all a charade, though. I was looking through an old high school yearbook with my son one day and, after looking at a few photos of myself, I said to him, "Boy...I was such a geek back then...wasn't I?"

My son looked at me incredulously and said, "Was??? 'Was', you say??? Mom...you are still a geek! You always have been."


Well...that says it all, doesn't it? He's right. I just never embraced that geekiness until a few years ago. After I was outed as a geek.

I share this because I want you to understand that I 'get' technology.
I was an early adopter. My first modem was a 14.4 external that was larger than my present clock radio.

My first email address was a compuserve address that consisted of nothing but digits (7 of them, to be exact) @ compuserve.com.

During that same time period, I was also the proud owner of a Brother Word Processor with a CRT screen and a floppy disc drive. Granted, it was nearly as large as my microwave at the time, but it was a beauty!


Impressed as you may be by my circa 1990 gadgetry and tech wizardry,
I am not what you might call a tech head or a gadget geek. I genuinely prefer simple things. I don't own a television -- by choice. (If you want to freak out middle schoolers, just tell them that you live in a log cabin and don't have a TV. Trust me -- their faces are priceless as they try to process that one.)

I don't own a smart phone or an iPad or an iPod -- nor do I have a desire to own any of those things. I don't have a dishwasher, I heat with wood, and I use antique kitchen equipment from my collection whenever possible to do things like beat eggs, whip cream, etc. (I'm a home ec teacher, after all -- what else would I collect?)

I prefer the old and simple things.

But...I am also a reader and always have been. I love books and I love to read. I had a flashlight and a cache of books tucked away under my mattress to read under the blankets when I was supposed to be sleeping as a kid. I tend toward motion sickness, but the tradeoff between being carsick and reading -- reading always won out. Granted, I would get a little bit green about the gills and sometimes my dad was even forced to pull the car over as a result, but I have always been a reader and I always will be.

At present, I always have a book or two in my purse, in my truck, stashed under my bed and a stack on my nightstand. Even in the bathroom. Rarely am I further than a few arms' lengths from something to read. I never thought I'd see the day that I would consider reading anything but a real book.

I will be doing some traveling soon and I must pack very light on this trip. Some things will have to be left at home. Books are non-negotiable and will not be among those things.

If I finish books at my usual rate, that would mean packing no fewer than four books. Four books that take up space and weight in my luggage. My new Kindle will weigh less than 6 ounces.

When I finish one book, I can begin another...and another...and another.

When I run out of things to read on a trip, I will not be subject to the limited selection of those awful airplane book titles which are sold at the airport book stalls along with the overpriced neck pillows and tacky last minute souvenirs -- shot glasses, pens, t-shirts and the like, with the city's name emblazoned on them.

If I am waiting for my appointment in a doctor's office or in the cattle call area at the DMV, I will be able to reach into my purse or pocket and have a mini-library at my fingertips.

Will e-books ever replace the real thing in my life? Of course, not. I have had a special bond with books my entire life. That will never change.

There is something very comforting about snuggling up with a good book and a cup of tea on a cold night.

There is something very aesthetically pleasing about looking at a crowded bookshelf with books overflowing -- some stacked this way and that.

There is something that makes me smile when I find a book face down in the morning with my reading glasses resting on its spine.

Real books will always be my favorites. They will always be a very special and important part of my past, my present, and my future.

How can I be so certain of this?

I cannot dog ear a Kindle.