Teachers as Storytellers

We learn from the stories we are told and from the people we encounter. Parents, coaches, friends, media – they are all teachers.

Teacher as Transformer

Think of the people we call teachers, not just in classrooms but in every facet of our lives. A quality they share is storytelling. They connect with our hearts and minds. We laugh, cry, yell, and carry on in every imaginable way with them. We remember them not because of what they taught us, but what they revealed about themselves and helped us discover about our self.

The best teachers are the best storytellers. We learn in the form of stories.

~Frank Smith

View original post

FLASHBACK FRIDAY: Feb. 20, 2008 – Lunar eclipse

To find something appropriate for this week’s Flashback Friday, I went digging through my collection of CD-Rs.  I’m winter weary, so I didn’t want to look back at other snowy winters past.  Then I came across this…

On Feb. 20, 2008, there was a total lunar eclipse. My husband took these pictures, starting with the total eclipse.  We watched with awe from a window on our stairwell, the best place in our house for moon viewing.

DSCF6272-2The total eclipse turned the moon into a reddish color, more like Mars than our moon!

DSCF6273-2An eclipse of the moon is when Earth comes between the sun and the moon, blocking out the sun’s light which normally reflects off the moon, making it appear white and bright. This phenomenon only can occur when the moon is at full moon phase.

DSCF6274-2As the position of the Earth moved relative to the sun and moon, the eclipse waned, and gradually the moon grew bright again.


Writing 201: Elegy for Mother

Writing 201: Poetry, Day 5
Form: Elegy
Theme: Fog
I didn’t use the device of metaphor in this poem. Instead, I used repetition, and a pattern in the number of lines per stanza.

Elegy for Mother

She could no longer travel;
Now fog descended over her eyes –
Fog that didn’t allow her to read,
Thickening fog that meant no more TV.
But that fog did not prevent her
From recognizing those around her.
She knew them by the touch of those
who massaged her gnarled hands.
She knew them by their voices
Serenading her with hymns.
She knew them by their scents
Familiar since they were babies.
She knew them because they knew
Where to find her chocolate,
Or to bring it as a gift.
Now the fog has lifted from the story of her life.
Her voice no longer speaks.
Her ears no longer listen.
Her eyes – even through the fog –
No longer see.
She no longer tastes the sweet chocolate
Someone puts on her lips.
Now there is no need
To visit the stranger she had become,
Or to sing Christmas carols to her,
Or to apply lotion to her hands.
Now we celebrate her life –
Through pictures, stories, videos,
Her writing and her letters.
We see her more clearly than we have seen her
For a long time.
Our memory no longer depends on the image
Of her frail frame,
Her inability or unwillingness to speak,
Her desire to leave this world.
Now we once again see her bright brown eyes,
Hear her laughter,
Listen to her stories of long ago,
Know the love we shared
And the love of those who preceded her
In leaving this world
And entering the next.
Now the memories
Of who she was
And the grief
For whom we’ve lost


Margaret Thom Lovejoy
May 4, 1917 – December 3, 2014

Weekly Feature: FLASHBACK FRIDAY- my son Jayme, 1985-1990

For this week’s flashback, I’m honoring my son, Jayme A. L. Villa-Alvarez, who will turn 30 on Sunday, Feb. 22.  Here are some memories of his first five years.

Feb. 22, 1985:
Jayme with his dad, Fernando Villa-Alvarez and mom, Katy Villa-Alvarez

Fernando, Katharine & Jayme Villa-Alvarez

1986Jayme Villa Alvarez

Jayme's first birthday: I remember he wasn't feeling very well - a bit feverish.

Jayme’s first birthday: I remember he wasn’t feeling very well – a bit feverish.

Jayme meets his new cousin, Leslie

Jayme meets his new cousin, Leslie

Family pictures, 1988

Betsy Sweet, MTL, Mary, Rob & Maria Sweet, Katharine & Jayme Villa-Alvarez, Alix Waeffler, Elmer Sweet, Julia & Tom Waeffler Heather, Elmer, Julia Murray, Sara Kirchoff, Fernando, Katharine, John, Jim, Alix, Allen, Larry, Julia, Jennifer, Mary, Horace Phillips, Clark, Holly, , Maria, Betsy, Leslie, Jayme, , Julia, Eric

Jayme wearing "cangaceiro" hat from Northeastern Brazil

Jayme wearing “cangaceiro” hat from Northeastern Brazil, on our front porch in Milwaukee

BFFs - Jayme and his cousin Julia, 2 years older, were best friends during these early years.

BFFs – Jayme and his cousin Julia, 2 years older, were best friends during these early years.

We move to Illinois

 Jayme with Mom (me)

Jayme with Mom (me)

At the cottage - summer 1989

At the cottage – summer 1989

Christmas 1989: Our first Christmas after we moved to Illinois.

Christmas 1989: Our first Christmas after we moved to Illinois.


Jayme on his 5th birthday, with his cousin Betsy

Jayme on his 5th birthday, with his cousin Betsy

Easter in Janesville: Jayme spies hidden Easter eggs!

Easter in Janesville: Jayme spies hidden Easter eggs!

Acrostic trust

Today’s assignment in Writing 201 is:
Topic/theme: Trust
Form: Acrostic
Device:  Internal rhyme

Once again I find it necessary to write two separate poems on the topic – an acrostic poem and a poem using internal rhyme.

My acrostic tells the characteristics of the man I love and trust.

The one who is:

Sympathetic and

is the one in whom I trust.

Here's a man with a face you can trust!

Here’s a man with a face you can trust!

My second poem is a parent imparting wisdom to a child:

Trust has to be earned, you’ll learn,
to find someone who is true to you.
Someone who has won, my son,
the respect you expect in return,
the love you live to give
and deserve to secure for sure –
So, you see, it must
be she that earns your trust.


A journey by limerick

Writing 201/poetry:
word prompt: journey
Form: limerick
Device: alliteration

Although I tried, I couldn’t do all three in one poem! So I wrote two:

Limerick Journey

To describe ‘journey’ in a limerick
It needs to be summed up very quick
If I could arrive
anywhere by five
I’d find out what makes the world tick!

Alliterative Journey

A journey can be
a walk in the woods
or wandering the world
in awe and wonder.

el-escorial-basilica-interior ??????????????????????????????????????????????????Photos:  Top:  El Escorial, Spain, copyright Andrew Prokos.
Bottom:  woods in autumn, copyright by the author.

30 things to do on a trip from Illinois to Texas and back

One of the first assignments in Blogging 201 (since I’m not one to keep up with assignments or do them in order) was to analyze the statistics for my blog.  I found out that my travel posts are by far the most popular and attract the most readers.

In the summer of 2013, my husband and I took a trip to Texas to visit a friend and then to visit places that were on our ‘bucket list’, such as San Antonio and Memphis, TN.  When I came back, I intended to blog about each of these places, but only posted a few, about Austin.  But here, in a nutshell (in case you are planning a trip to Texas) are “5 things to do” (in each general location) on a trip from Illinois to Texas and back.

(Originally dated July 26, 2013)

5 things to do on a long car trip:
• Rent a Great Course or audio book at your local library and listen to it in the car.
• Work on crossword puzzles or play games, such as thinking of a city that starts with the last letter of the previous word, 20 questions, Guess Who I Am?, finding every letter of the alphabet on road signs or license plates.
• Go off the beaten track: Get off the expressway and travel some back roads. Stop at some unexpected , little known places along the way.
• Stop to read Historical Markers.
• Buy local music at one of your destinations and listen to it on the road.

DSCF2140We are stopped for an hour on the expressway through Missouri in a long line of cars and other vehicles. I’m working on a crossword puzzle, but eventually get hot and impatient. What’s going on? We see billowing smoke way up ahead.  My guess is a car caught on fire.  Once we began moving again, we eventually caught up to the smoldering thing:  a truck, full of beer, had somehow caught on fire! Alcohol being highly flammable, it exploded and we saw flattened, smoldering cans of beer scattered everywhere among the ashes and ruins of the vehicle. Wish I’d taken a picture, but we were anxious to get moving, with a goal of reaching Oklahoma City before nightfall.

5 things to do in Austin, Texas
• Watch the bats at dusk on Congress Ave. Bridge. (See my blog post of July 18, 2013.)
• Visit the capitol.     DSCF2145
• See a show at Esther’s Follies: musical revue in the form of political and social satire, and magic show. Afterward, go to one of the nearby bars to hear live music and have a nightcap.
• Eat Texas barbecue (recommend La Barbecue) at a food trailer – go early before they run out! Then cool off with Amy’s Ice Cream (good choice of flavors + “crush’ns”).
085 amysicecream
• Tour a winery in the countryside outside Austin. Wineries are closed on Wednesdays. If you are there on a Wednesday, other options include: visit LBJ’s boyhood home in Johnsonville and the LBJ ranch about 12 miles from there or go tubing on the San Marcos River.

??????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????We happened to arrive in Austin on June 25, which was the day that Senator Wendy Davis filibustered an anti-abortion bill, which ended only after 11 pm that night.  Unfortunately, her efforts didn’t stop the bill, and it became law in 2014, leading to the closing of almost all women’s clinics where abortions were available in Texas. The first picture shows the senator on the floor of the Senate (her pink running shoes are not visible here!); the second shows the balcony where spectators were allowed. Most of these were supporters of the filibuster and many wore orange shirts, the color of their movement around this issue.  See my blog post of August 13, 2013.

5 things to do in San Antonio, Texas
• Take in the River Walk: shop, have lunch or dinner, take a boat tour.
?????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????? ?????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????? ?????????????????? 847
• Go to Hemisfair Park. See the Institute of Texas Cultures – exhibits of all the immigrant and ethnic groups that have made their home in Texas: Native Americans, Spanish, French, Jewish, African American, many others from Europe. Next to this museum is the Tower of the Americas. For $10.95 you can go up in an elevator to the observation deck. To save money, go in the late afternoon (during Happy Hour) and tell them you are going to the bar. You can get drinks and hors d’eouvres at a reduced price during Happy Hour, enjoy the view and spend less than you would to buy a ticket to the observation deck.

??????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????? ?????????????????????????????????????????????????? ????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????? ????????????????????????????????????????????????
• Visit King William district of historical homes and take a tour of the Steves’ Homestead.

634 ??????????????????????????????????????????????????????????? ??????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????? ???????????????????????????????????????????????????????????

We stayed at this B&B in the King William district, within walking distance of downtown and the River Walk.

We stayed at this B&B in the King William district, within walking distance of downtown and the River Walk.

• Visit the Alamo and the other 4 missions around San Antonio.

Mission San Jose

Mission San Jose

Mission Espada

Mission Espada

Mission Concepcion

Mission Concepcion

• Go to the San Antonio Museum of Art (SAMA) – especially the sections of folk art.

View of SAMA from parking lot

View of SAMA from parking lot

?????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????? ??????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????

5 things to do in or near Houston, Texas
• Take a tour of Ima Hogg’s mansion and explore the grounds.
• Go to art installations sponsored by the Orange Show, including: The Orange Show (open W-Su), The Beer Can House, Smither Park.

Smither Park

Smither Park

The Orange Show

The Orange Show

Ima Hogg's mansion

Ima Hogg’s mansion

• In May, go to the Car Parade.
• Visit Johnson Space Center (NASA). About 20 miles south of Houston

• Spend a day in Galveston (about 40 miles from Houston) to: walk along the seawall, swim in the waters of the Gulf of Mexico, eat seafood, and/or rent bikes and explore the town.


5 things to do in Memphis, Tennessee:
• Visit Graceland, the iconic home and tribute to Elvis Presley.

Graceland mansion

Graceland mansion

pool room

pool room

Gold records

Gold records

• Spend time at the Rock and Soul Museum, which tells the history of blues, R&B and rock n roll; lots of interesting displays including 4 different jukeboxes that show how it evolved.

• Take a tour of Slave Haven, the former home of a German immigrant who harbored runaway slaves as a stop on the Underground Railroad.

• Visit the Civil Rights Museum, located across the street from the Lorraine Motel, where Martin Luther King Jr. was killed on the balcony in front of his room. Plan plenty of time (3+ hours) to see everything.

1292 1293• Go to the Mississippi River museum, which tells the history of the river.
5 things to do in or near St. Louis:
• Visit the St. Louis arch. There are small tram cars (egg shaped, cramped) that take you to the top, or just enjoy the arch itself at different angles and in different lights. If you want to go to the top1344 to enjoy the view, sit in the sample tram car next to the ticket booth at the entrance to the Jefferson Museum.
• Visit the Old Courthouse (near the arch) where the Dred Scott case took place. Warning: it closes at 4pm. Free.
• Visit the Jefferson Museum of Westward Expansion. Free.
• Take a riverboat ride on the Mississippi. Book your trip in advance at the entrance to the Jefferson Museum.
• Visit Cahokia Mounds. Read about the history and culture of the Mississippean cultures that settled that area and built the mounds. Then take the 3 walking tours to the different areas of the park, including climbing Monks’ Mound and experiencing the woodhenge sun calendar built by these ancient people.

Monks Mound

Monks Mound



Pingback: Blogging 201

Writing 201/Poetry: Haiku – Visions of Water

Water….grand as in an ocean or a waterfall, the reflection in the surface of a lake, frozen as icicles in the winter, or a mere drop on a leaf…

These were my visual inspiration for haiku about water:


River meanders,
winding and twisting its way
down to the ocean.

meandering river

Upper Kaubashine Lake

Orange and pink sunset:
Reflection on a rippled
surface of the lake.



Water dripping down
freezes into icicles
hanging from my roof


La Paz Waterfall (Costa Rica)

La Paz encanta:
Magia meditativa ,
templo natural.

Enchanted La Paz :
White meditative magic ,
temple of nature.

La Paz waterfall

One drop of rain

A fallen leaf holds
pebbles gathered in one drop
after a rainfall.

126(Images of river and waterfall downloaded from google; other images by author).

Pingback: Water haiku

I’ve visited 9% of the countries of the world

Click on the first link below to see the map. You can create your own map – click on the second link!

<div style=”width:550px; position: relative;”>

<div style=”background-color: #38235b; padding: 5px 0px 5px 0px; text-align: center; width: 549px; border-left: 1px solid #372060; font-size: 11px; color: #EEE; line-height: 1.4em;”>
<a style=”font-size: 14px; color: #FFBF42″ href=”http://www.travbuddy.com/travel-widgets”><strong>Create your own travel map</strong></a> – <a style=”font-size: 14px; color: #FFBF42″ href=”http://www.travbuddy.com”><strong>TravBuddy</strong></a><br/&gt;