I’ve always been a reader. Since I’ve been writing more, though, I take notice of words, phrases, and sentences in a different way. Sometimes the words resonate so clearly with an idea I’ve tried to write about, I marvel at the way an author has crafted a perfect phrase or sentence or chosen the perfect word.
Here are a couple of phrases from a recent read- The Fault in Our Stars by John Green that stirred that feeling of wow: “… the spring air just on the cold side of perfect, the late-afternoon light heavenly in its hurtfulness.” I have had this feeling before about air that feels deliciously cold (or warm) or sunshine, fall colors, waves of the ocean- things that are so beautiful that it almost hurts your eyes to look at them. “Just on the cold side of perfect” made me feel like I was there in that moment when you walk outside and the air feels so good- even though it is just a tiny bit too cold. The phrase “heavenly in its hurtfulness” made me gasp at how perfectly it describes the feeling of walking out into bright sunshine, and how well it put into words the kind of thought I have often wanted to express that sometimes there are things that are so lovely it makes you close your eyes to savor the sight.
At another point in the story was this sentence: “I worked hard to meet his eyes, even though they were the kind of pretty that’s hard to look at.” A different expression of my feeling about looking at beauty.
Isn’t it great being a reader/writer?
I recently got a notice in the mail. As I have shared it with others, the news universally has been acknowledged with a commiserating groan. I ask myself if I have presented the news in a negative light. I hope not. I’ve received this particular request twice before, and I had an interesting experience both times. It seems to me a reasonable request for my service. I think of my father, uncles, cousins, husband, and son, who have all given greater service than this as U.S. citizens.
Have you guessed I am writing about a summons for jury service? that the envelope was decorated by an American flag? that it bore the words “IT’S AN HONOR TO SERVE AS A JUROR”?
Jury duty does not seem too much to expect. I concede to my groaning friends that it may cause inconvenience, and that, although it is usually only minor (as little as a daily phone call for 5 days, a trip downtown one day, or an average of 1-3 days for a trial), there is always the possibility of a major inconvenience if you are chosen for a complicated trial. Still, I embrace this common American experience. I value it as just that- an experience we have in common, that ties us together as Americans. It is an opportunity to cooperate with fellow citizens and make an important contribution. As I accept the privileges of citizenship, I also accept the responsibilities.
The Sunday after Thanksgiving, I will make that first call. I am not affected by any condition that would interfere with or prevent jury service. I meet every requirement for a prospective juror. There is no personal hardship that calls for me to postpone it. On Thanksgiving, gratefulness for my country will be one of the blessings I count. How appropriate I have such an immediate opportunity to put that gratitude into action!
He had said he didn’t remember doing the project. Yet when he walked into the gallery, with his mom, dad, and brothers trailing behind, he led them straight to his work. He posed for photos on his own, with his brothers, and finally with the whole family. In his hands, he tightly clasped the sketchbook and pencil he had received from the museum. He checked out the pieces by three of his classmates and pointed them out to his family. He chatted nervously with the teachers who came to share the special occasion, unaccustomed to being with them outside of school. He never stopped smiling.
Mom and Dad looked dazed by it all. Their eyes and proud smiles stayed fixed on their son. When the accomplishment was understood better after translation into Spanish- statewide art competition, top 20 on display- they never stopped smiling, eyes on their son.
Sunday, I attended a reception at the Indianapolis Museum of Art in honor of student artists and writers who were finalists in the “Inspired by Matisse” school competitions. Four students from our school were in the top twenty! It was a proud day for the students and their families- and their teachers!
Along a city street stand buildings, once proud-
where well-known businesses thrived,
marked by iconic signs-
Repurposed now, with signs painted over,
mocked by the recognizable past, or
Abandoned and empty, windows broken, boarded,
fences collapsing and yards unkempt.
In the same block stand trees, still proud-
formerly, only saplings
offering little shade but holding future promise-
Mature now, with solid trunks,
and overarching leafy branches-
a shady refuge in summer and
a dazzling spectacle in autumn.
Blight and beauty, coexisting-
Seen in a moment’s time, yet impressing in heart and mind
a more lasting message-
If your heart is open, if you take notice,
Grace is given,
Loveliness can be found,
Hope is ever present…
Rays of morning sun
Slice through trees wrapped in thick fog-
Glorious new day
Beams of evening sun
Make autumn trees glow, then fade-
Night falls peacefully
I had been sitting next to her, listening to her quietly read and use a think aloud strategy to practice test-taking skills in the computer lab. An unlikely setting for an amazing, thrilling, wonderful, heart-warming revelation, wouldn’t you agree?
As she was logging off the computer, she turned to me and said, in a completely serious, oh-so-grown-up voice, “To tell you the truth, Mrs. Anderson, last year I really didn’t like to read.”
She continued, “In the summer, my mom got me some books to read. I just started to pretend and put myself in the story. Now I like reading a lot.” A huge smile broke across her face, lighting up her eyes.
As big as her smile was, mine might have been bigger!
Just went back to school yesterday after our TWO WEEK Fall Break…here’s my list of highlights to hold onto when I need that “I’m on break” feeling, when I get caught up in “I’m so tired”…
Read whatever I wanted to, whenever I wanted…finished 10 books, abandoned a couple
Wrote on SOLSC Tuesday both weeks (don’t want a break from this) and spent a lot of time reading slices
Met friends for lunch (the talking lasted from 11:30 til 3:00 at one lunch)
Cleaned the carpet (good to get it off the to-do list)
Drove back and forth to ISU for my tree-girl to come home for a weekend
Drove back and forth to take her to my sister’s place in the country so they could ride their horses
Found out what she wanted and shopped for her birthday, sent surprises with her to open on the big day (her 20th!)
Went to the movies twice with my sister (and she gave me some awesome belated birthday presents)
Visited Brown County, Indiana’s fall destination to see autumn leaves, with my mom
Viewed the Matisse exhibit at the IMA (if you are close to Indy, try to come, it’s great!)
Switched my closet from spring/summer clothes to fall/winter clothes
Watched daytime TV
Shopping (new purse, new shoes, a few new clothes)
Wrote lesson plans (is there ever a break from this?!?!?!)
Mowed the lawn (almost time for a break from this- yeah!)
Slept late after staying up late most days
Enjoyed “Singing in the Rain” with the Indianapolis Symphony playing the sound track
Led Bible study group on Sunday mornings
Stayed up way past midnight the night before returning to school watching the epic Colts/Broncos War of 1812 on Sunday Night
Football and watched the Colts WIN!!!