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Do You Have Your Passport?

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CarolynI love to travel.  If I could find a way to do it full time, I probably would.  I love taking my students to Europe and watching them realize just how big the world is and then come to the conclusion that while we’re all unique, we are all alike as well.  People have dreams and hopes and fears and families and friends and insecurities and confidence and all the rest of it no matter what their first language is or where they live.

This love of traveling was sparked in me by my friend Carolyn.  I introduced you to her when I first wrote about my book club, Between the Covers.  She was an amazing woman.  She possessed class and dignity and compassion and humor and more knowledge about literature and teaching than I can ever hope to attain.  She took me to London and Paris in 2005 and opened up the world to me.

Several years ago we were going to go to Rome.  But she couldn’t find her passport.  She looked everywhere.  Carolyn considered having it replaced, but her health was declining, and she wasn’t sure if she’d really ever get to use it again anyway.  As it turns out, 2005 was her last trip across the pond.  The lost passport became somewhat of a joke–if we misplaced things we’d say “It’s with Carolyn’s passport.”Passport

However, Carolyn had the most important passport there is.  Carolyn knew our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.  She was a godly woman who was an example not only to me, but also to everyone she was around.  She touched so many lives–in her family, in her friends, in her classroom, in her church, in her visits to the hospital and cancer center, in her nail salon, in restaurants.  She was steadfast in her faith.

Carolyn knew John 14:6: “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.”

This morning Carolyn’s Passport was stamped by Jesus Himself as He welcomed her home.

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January Spice Cabinet

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Ah, lucky January with your five Wednesdays.  How exciting it is for me to think of things I want to share in the spice cabinet.  Perhaps my favorite part of the spice cabinet is taking pictures for it.  You get a little glimpse into the things that make my life, well, my life.

1.  I live in a part of North Carolina that may or may not get snow.  When it’s predicted, I’m like a little kid and make sure all my shades are open so I can see it when it starts.  Yesterday was such a day.waitingforsnow

 

 

2.  These are two of my most favorite pieces of décor in my house.  My friend John makes them as a hobby.  camcraft

3.  My hot chocolate making kit.  That little wisk is just the perfect size for making sure my hot chocolate, peppermint sprinkles, and milk are well blended in my awesome Barbie cup. (hmm, seems that pink theme from the last Spice Cabinet is around)hotchocolate

4.  When you’re a teacher you occasionally get gifts.  One of my favorite gifts is this mug. It so happens that it was from one of my favorite students as well.  He “got” me.laughtermug

5.  And here is my sweet love on date night.  It’s tough sometimes to balance what needs to be done and what wants to be done.  But, the end result will be worth it, and frankly, it’s just nice to have him near on date night.stevenstudies

July Spice Cabinet

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Fifth Wednesdays are going to be the Spice Cabinet. Essentially, that’s going to be a collection of fun things that have spiced up my life that I think are worthy of sharing. I’ve been super excited about this first Spice Cabinet. It’s actually going to be hard for me to narrow down so you’re not just overwhelmed with the flavor!
1. As an English teacher, I like words. Recently, I learned a new one. For this first spice cabinet, I think it’s appropriate that I introduce you to it as well. As an added bonus (which is fun because it goes with the word) you get to meet Katie at Cardigan Way! So, here you go–lagniappe.

2. I totally love this shirt! It will make more sense as we journey through Seasoned Fiction over the months, but in the meantime. . . .

3. This is some random spice in the cabinet (don’t you have some of that in yours?) but I went to the Outer Banks this month, and it occurred to me that kids don’t care about sand. . .not one single bit.  To have that kind of abandonment, well, I think it’s gone for me.

4. I thought I’d share with you where I put my ideas for each blog post. . .I bought it several months ago without knowing what I’d use it for. Now we know!

seasonedjournal

5.  And, finally, our last little bit of spice for the month of July.  I was cleaning out a cabinet this month and found this gem.  It’s a birthday card from my BF–she gave it to me several years ago.  This card defines our relationship to perfection.

seasonedsherricardseasonedsherricardback

And upcoming in August (because if I tell you, maybe I’ll stick with it)

Faith Walk: Music is my “God Love Language”

Literary Life: Book Review The Light Between Oceans

Life in General: The 30 Day Exercise Experiment (and I HATE exercise)

Seasoned Fiction: The Next Installment of Paper Wrappers

Between the Covers: the Beauty of a Book Club

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seasonedbookclubI’m a teacher, who met a group of ladies almost fifteen years ago that became integral to my development.  We talked over the years of creating a book club, but it never happened.  Well, until all but two of us entered that wonderful land of retirement.

Timing–it’s everything.

So, meet the girls:

Cathy: oh, to describe Cathy–she’s the most kind-hearted, sweet, finds the positive in everything, build you up, fantastic woman.  I’ve never heard her raise her voice, and I always feel good when I’m with her.

Carolyn: our no-nonsense, stubborn to a fault, fighter who knows more about literature than I will ever dream of knowing and embedded a love of travel in me that burns bright.  Before her I was afraid I’d get lost in airports.  Now I dream of getting lost in Rome.

Lina: my official mentor when I started teaching–I want to be like her when I grow up.  She is the one who “brings it” as the youngsters would say, but she does it with class, and people feel encouraged by her and never berated.  She was the first to retire, and we all wished we had made a book of Linaisms to keep around–because we miss them and can’t remember them now.

Gail: my lovely Gail who has been by my side in NYC, Paris, Madrid, Rome, and our little corner of the education world. She writes as well, publishing poems.  She challenges me to economize words.  She loves Hawthorne and Hemingway and me, even though I don’t care a hoot for the fellas.

and Donna: who I have known since I was seven and is the only one of us who isn’t an English teacher.  We need her.  She keeps us grounded so we don’t float away into the “Blue Curtain” too often.  She opens the door every time I unexpectedly show up at her door.

So far, we’ve read nine books (well, eight, the ninth is for August). There’s not enough space in one blog for me to review them all here.  I’ll give a brief synopsis of my thoughts and a recommendation for reading.  I was trying to think of something cute for that. . .something like “seasoning.”  So, we’ll go mild, medium, and spicy: mild, wish I hadn’t spent the time on it; medium, not bad, worth the time; spicy, would read again and you should immediately read.

October 2012: The Time Keeper by Mitch Albom-  An interesting weaving of science fiction and faith with three life stories.  I liked the book and found it challenging to my thought process, but BtC had mixed reviews of it.  MEDIUM

November 2012: The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society: a Novel by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows- This book is in letter format and quite good.  It left me slightly upset about some main characters and their stories, but otherwise ok.  BtC was united on liking this one. MEDIUM with a hint of SPICY

January 2013: The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh- I was looking forward to this book because of the blurb and because two members (Gail and Cathy) had read it previously.  But I was disappointed.  I liked the premise of it with that flowers were used to convey messages that the main character couldn’t say herself–communication is difficult.  But I kept getting mad at the main characters and wanted them to get over themselves. MEDIUM but just barely

February 2013: The Paris Wife by Paula McClain- Ah, this one was historical fiction and set in Paris and I loved it.  It is told from Hadley Hemingway’s first person perspective. Hadley was Ernest Hemingway’s first wife. It’s well written and just lovely.  The passion of Hadley and Ernest’s relationship is raw in the beginning and you get swept away by it.  Then you get tumbled into the twists of their life in Paris and his attempt to break into the writing world outside of his journalistic identity.  I don’t particularly care for Hemingway, the man or the writer, but I thoroughly enjoyed this book and the insight it gave me. SPICY

March 2013: The Round House by Louise Erdrich- Native American Reservation life and the conflict of law and how it governs the reservation at a time of need.  I liked the premise of the book–the idea of a young boy wanting to defend his mother when it seems no one else is doing anything, or maybe can’t because of the blurred lines.  But I didn’t finish this one.  It was laborious to read. INCREDIBLY MILD

April 2013: What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty- I LOVED this book. What happens if you wake up and forget who you are or how you became who you are? I found myself do a lot of self-reflection.  Would 27 year old Season be happy with who 37 year old Season is? Would she think she’s being represented well?  Would what the younger Season wanted still be what the older Season wants? And would the way I’m getting those things be acceptable? SPICY

May 2013: The Kitchen House by Kathleen Grissom- How do you balance who you are and who you want to be when society demands and rules are so rigid? A fabulous book that is a new look at the slave life of the south. I liked this book a lot.  I got angry at the characters quite often.  I tend to do that especially when one character falls into the pattern of another–but don’t we do that as people? SPICY

June 2013: The Aviator’s Wife: A Novel by Melanie Benjamin- While I liked the content of the novel for the most part, the writing style frustrated me (if you want to teach simile, here’s your chance). I also enjoyed the learning about Charles Lindbergh I gained.  You don’t get much about him in history class other than he flew straight to Paris and his baby was kidnapped.  I did find I didn’t care much for Anne or Charles as people.  Perhaps I can give Anne some grace because of the time period and the expectations of society, but eh, not much.  I did find myself contemplating if this was the beginning of the press’ power over American society. MEDIUM

for August 2013: The Light Between Oceans: A Novel by M. L. Stedman- This is my favorite by far and in August I will post a full review.  But read it now.  Seriously, go out now and buy it, download it–whatever your favorite way to read a book is these days–I think this one is available in audio form as well.  I LOVED this book.

This is what we’ve done so far.  And sometimes we actually talk about the books.  It’s the beauty of a book club with people you love and who know you.