“I Love You to the Moon and Back”

Dear Reader:

There are few parents, grandparents, aunts, and uncles who haven’t used the expression “I love you to the moon and back” while rocking babies and grand babies. And if we are lucky enough to be outside with children, grandchildren, nephews and nieces…absorbing the beautiful glow of the moon…it just rolls off our tongues automatically.

Since man has existed…the moon has lured him into a contented state of appreciation for the light it provides during the dark hours of night. Mev sent me a wonderful memory of what was happening in her life on July 20, 1969….perhaps the best memory of all! ūüôā

“I missed out on the astronauts landing July 20, 1969! I was a bit more involved with the landing of our little ‚Äúmoon baby‚ÄĚ as she was called by the staff at Dorchester County Hospital: Hallie Shieder landed at 7:20pm July 20, 1969!”

There was also another mother who was holding her breath that famous Sunday evening in July, 1960…Violet Armstrong, Neil Armstrong’s mother. She had a terrible fear she had shared with her son before he left…and even though Neil had reassured her that it was unfounded… she wasn’t “buying it” until she saw it with her own eyes.

“Armstrong’s¬†mother Viola watched the historic moment at home on TV, along with 650 million other people around the world.¬† Her biggest fear had been that Neil would sink down and be “swallowed up” by the moon so shortly after taking his first steps,

So Armstrong purposefully commented out loud “I only go in a small fraction of an inch, maybe an eighth of an inch but I can see the footprints of my boots and the treads in the fine sandy particles.”¬† *That line was for her, to ease her mind. He was a good son.

By now many of you have seen one or more of the special programs commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 “Moon Walk.” You probably know how close the mission came ¬†to having to abort…especially the critical problem…based on fuel shortage while hunting for a flat place to land among the craters and rocks.

One of the most interesting perspectives I got was off of the daily Google icon yesterday…I clicked it on and a short/short video came on…the mission story told by astronaut Mike Collins… who stayed in orbit roughly 60 miles above and behind the moon in the command module…the mode of transportation that would take all three astronauts back home.

Mike, Neil Armstrong, and Buzz Aldrin felt the”weight of the world on their shoulders”…after all it had taken approximately 400,000 people-engineers, computer programmers to the people who sewed the airtight ¬†space suits they wore… to land humankind on the moon.

The module had to keep turning around and around like a ‘chicken on a barbecue spit’¬†to keep the temperatures regulated inside the module…depending on whether they were on the sunny side of the moon or the dark side.

Collins remembers two beautiful sights he will always keep in his memory…the first was seeing the moon upclose…it was huge with the light of the sun behind it cascading to the front of the moon in what looked like a golden “halo.” Just when he thought he couldn’t see anything more beautiful…he turned around and saw this tiny object far off in the distance…it was Earth…it was home!

Beside the American flag being left behind…a plaque, was also left, that read:

“Here men from the planet Earth first set foot upon the Moon¬†July 1969, A.D. We came in peace for all mankind.”

When I read that plaque again for the first time in a long time…it really got to me…because ironically these three brave aerial pioneers would soon return home to Earth…where peace no longer existed for too many of its millions of inhabitants. My brother, Ben, didn’t say anything but being home (just a few weeks from his tour in Vietnam)…he probably felt the irony more than the rest of us.

We might have “come in peace”…but sadly man has yet to “keep the peace” on Earth. (Probably a good thing we didn’t stick around too long on the moon!)

Soon after the module landed in the Pacific Ocean On July 24, 1969..all three astronauts took a world tour and Mike Collins said that what really touched him was that no matter in what part of the world they traveled…the crowds cheered “WE DID IT!” And as inhabitants of Earth they had.

So until tomorrow…I don’t think we have to wait until Christmas to sing and talk about “Peace on Earth” …Instead perhaps we should ask the moon to send its beautiful beams to fall softly on the inhabitants of Earth…showing us the light of peace amid the darkness of destruction.


“Today is my favorite day” ¬†Winnie the Pooh

Thank you Doodle for the fridge magnet!!!!




Have you picked up your commemorative Oreo’s yet?



Has anyone had this famous drink?

The Moon Walk – Joe Gilmore, legendary Head Barman at the Savoy Hotel’s American Bar in London, invented this cocktail in 1969 to commemorate the first moon landing. The drink‚ÄĒa combination of grapefruit, orange liqueur, and a hint of rosewater, topped with Champagne‚ÄĒwas the first thing Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin sipped upon returning to earth.


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Remembering and Sharing Moon Memories

Dear Reader:

Fifty years…fifty years? How can that be so? I was home from college watching this once in a lifetime event with mother, David, and Ben…who had been home from Vietnam just a couple of months. We all sat in complete awe and disbelief on July 20th, 1969. A knock on the door broke the spell of the moment…I forgot I had a date. We had backed it up until Neil Armstrong said his famous words…”that’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.‚ÄĚ

My good friend Jerry, neighborhood boy, had just graduated from the Citadel and he brought his roommate home for a few days before he was to report for military duty. He asked me if I would go out with him and his own date. He told me Julian was shy so not to be offended if he didn’t talk much….but with all the excitement of watching the moon walk….none of us could hardly get a word in saying…”Did you see this or that….wasn’t it so cool”

I remember us getting ice cream and driving to the golf course where we could see the moon better…laughing far into the night at this amazing feat of American pioneer spirit. When Julian walked me back to the porch…I teased him….telling him Jerry had told me he was shy and didn’t talk much…apparently I witnessed another Julian ….He grinned and replied…“You just got me on a good day.”¬†

I heard later he was in Vietnam but lost track of him after my neighbor moved away…but for one special moment in my youth…I will always remember a wonderful night of American patriotism and pride, ice cream, and a new perspective on the “Old Man in the Moon.”¬†Now he had company…Neil Armstrong.

My wonderful friend, Jo, sent me her memories of this event ….now and in July of 1969 as fellow history teachers…lovers of history. But they were too good not to share….*and please if any of you are willing to share your memories of July 20, 1969… please do.

“Just had to share this with someone who appreciates history as much as I do.¬† Last night, I watched ” Eight Days with Apollo 11″ on ETV.¬† It went through all eight days of the flight that carried the first man to the moon.¬† I remember 50 years ago on July 20th when I kept my six year old Kelly up to watch history being made.¬† She doesn’t remember much about it, but I told her then, “Someday you can tell your grandchildren , “I saw that”.¬†

“As I watched Wednesday night, I found myself holding my breath just as I did then.¬† I am still just as amazed as I was then.¬† I do hope technology has not taken away the wonderful feeling of amazement from our future generations.¬† Oh I know, there are so many more things man and his robots will invent and do, but I want to see that feeling of “awe” in our young people.”

“I say to my grandsons, “Those cars are driving themselves!!!” and I barely get a nod.¬† Really nature amazes me.¬† I watch birds and the things they do, and I say to myself, “Now how could anyone not believe there is a God, Creator?¬† Things just can’t happen like that.”¬† Okay, I stand amazed at so many things, and as Forest said, “Now that’s all I’m going to say about that.”

So until tomorrow…I think we only grow old when we no longer wonder or stand in awe at the mysteries of the universe and life. …And Jo, “...that’s all I’m going to say about that.” ūüôā






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Camp Boo Boo

Dear Reader:

Yesterday was Camp Boo Boo! Rutledge has been attending several community day camps and Vacation Bible Schools this summer…until this week- the calendar was empty…so he signed up for Camp Boo Boo. It was a week rolled into one day…we gave it all we had…and then some. I got a high “ten” for the effort.

When I looked up the words “Boo Boo Camp” I had to laugh…pictures of Yogi Bear and Boo Boo in Jellystone Park ¬†flashed on….There are even real Boo Boo cabins.

Even without a cabin…Rutledge was into camp….as soon as he arrived we planned the day’s itinerary to include everything a camp would do and …..more! When Rutledge managed to hook a stuffed animal with “the claw” and four quarters in the arcade machine (normally one never can grab a stuffed animal) Rutledge returned grinning with his stuffed bear and a ‘paw print’ strangely resembling Boo Boo the bear!

We started out in the back yard where Rutledge climbed the tree house, went swinging on the tree rope….and then we drove to the park for Rutledge to continue his camp “obstacle course”…he passed with no effort what so ever…everything that had been too challenging about a year and a half before at the park was a breeze now at age 6. He passed with flying colors!

We took time out for music (always important at camp) which Rutledge provided with his ukulele .

We stopped briefly at the train store and chowed down at Groucho’s before we headed to the movies…PETS 2! (Adorable!) I used to always love movie night at camp, didn’t you?


It might be summer with summer camps but that doesn’t mean reading isn’t included in the curriculum. I took Rutledge to the Timrod Library to show him one of the oldest private/membership libraries in South Carolina….its origin dating back to the 1890’s. Rutledge is into history and studying old objects…he loved the library!






When we got home from the movies…Rutledge found an old trunk in what used to be his dad, Walsh’s bedroom….we couldn’t open the trunk but Luke stopped by and helped us….Rutledge was thrilled! He discovered more Summerville football jerseys, signed baseballs, and pictures of his dad playing sports at about his age. Rutledge was on Cloud Nine.

After supper we headed to Barnes and Noble where we met mom who was picking up Rutledge from camp….what a day!

We saw an Eloise wall sketch in the children’s section….just like our little Eloise!


Rutledge taught me the basics of chess….he said he had learned it at school…love it when the student becomes the teacher.






We can’t have camp without smores….the boy behind the deli counter in Barnes and Noble said he could make us a drink that tasted like Smores...deliciously close enough to bring closure to Camp Boo Boo.


Rutledge graduated with honors!

What a day!

So until tomorrow….Simple moments always become priceless memories!

“Today is my favorite day” ¬†Winnie the Pooh



Yesterday, was memorable in so many ways. Ted and Brooke made it back down from the mountains where they had innocently headed out almost a month ago for some family reunion only to end up in rehab for three weeks. So happy the Parkers are home again…Welcome home Brooke and Ted!

Libby accompanied her daughter Betsy to MUSC ¬†(yesterday) for her annual check-up from the surgeon who operated on her ¬†thyroid cancer…she is still officially cancer free…still she must stay on many heavy medicines to assume producing what her parathyroids would have normally done until their removal …but what the heck…Betsy is doing great! Libby is so relieved and happy!

Home again for the Parkers, great report on Betsy, happy mom Libby, and Camp Boo with Rutledge….what a glorious day yesterday was!

Rutledge and I didn’t sing Yum Bah Yah to end the day at Camp Boo…but the little ‘bird chapel of hope’ and the solar lights ended the day perfectly anyway.



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The Study of Life Puts Us On “Course” with God

Dear Reader:

As a teacher we were always encouraged to instruct to the individual …meeting each student’s needs… over simply throwing out information to the class as a whole and letting it fall where it may. Since we know that God doesn’t make two individuals alike…we also know and recognize that we all learn differently…some of us are predominantly visual learners, some audio, and some “hands-on.”

I would let my students select projects that fit their particular learning style instead of making every student conform to just one set of directions and application for an end of the unit summation.

Another phrase that was quite popular when I taught was the importance of ¬†“Creating life-time learners.”¬†This is still true but now I see it as more of a spiritual endeavor ¬†than just a quest for pure knowledge.

In this month’s Awakin.Org¬†…”Hazrat Inayat Khan says, “A study of life is the greatest of all religions, and there is no greater or more interesting study.”¬†The more I examined this sentence in my mind the more I realized where the author was coming from. It also matched a reader who had responded to the article with this insight…”

“Real religion awakens us to awareness that there is one Creation of which every thing and every being is a part. It awakens us to awareness that all things and all beings, including human beings, are unique expressions of one Creation, totally interconnected and interrelated, not separate. This is what the study of life teaches us…and for me… my unique learning style in this life course revolves around nature…seeing God through nature.” (David Doane)

Another responder, Jagdish Dave, agreed with Doane’s learning style of nature which, also, ¬†eloquently expressed my exact sentiments.

“I experience the religion of nature when I am fully present to hearing the sounds of nature, to feeling the touch of wind, to smelling flowers and to watching the movements of the sun, the moon, and the stars. I feel oneness between me and nature. And that to me is a religious experience.” (Dave)

Since my garden was created… a sanctuary for my innermost feelings has also appeared within its perimeter… calling me in the early mornings and waning evenings. It is my God-given sacred ground to ponder and study life through God’s gift to us through nature. (Or as Archibald Rutledge, SC Poet Laureate, once wrote…nature is one of “Life’s Extras.”¬†)

When Michael arrived yesterday to cut the grass, trim the bushes, and cut branches off the trees, I asked if he could help me dig up Mandy’s stepping stones she made for me (in her art classroom with the kiln) the year the garden was started. Over the years they had sunk so low in the ground they were almost completely buried.

I was afraid they would break digging them out but the nice thing about “home/kiln”-made stepping stones is that they last forever. Michael and I carried them to one of the long wooden garden benches. While he worked in the yard I scrubbed and cleaned the stepping stones with stiff brushes, cleaning products, and peroxide. I was so excited when we placed them back along the path leading to the front garden …they looked brand new. (title photo)

Isn’t that what God does every day for us? He provides stepping stones to show us the way, to give us direction in our study of life. He wants all of us to get an “A+” at the end of our ‘study.’ The only way to be successful is to experience every phase and sphere of life…the good, bad, and ugly.

Saturday as I watched Mandy working with Jakie…how to float on his back… keeping his head pulled completely back…thus pulling up his legs with his arms at his side… he was completely relaxed…but only as long as Mandy had her arms under his back. Sometimes she only had a finger touching the center of his back…but it was enough to reassure him. Take away that light flutter of a finger sensation and he immediately started sinking.

As I watched I realized that God is trying to show us the same thing about His constant presence…even if we can’t feel His physical touch. He is there cheering us on…to become a floater of trust and hope to others.

So until tomorrow…Life is the greatest teacher…take every course you can find…the more courses you take…the clearer your path becomes.

“Today is my favorite day” ¬†Winnie the Pooh

Sanctuary of ¬†“Life’s Extras”

Every morning that Sammy the Cardinal comes to see me…is the start of an especially good day…He doesn’t drink out of the hummingbird feeder but he likes to perch on top and chirp until I get near the window…he glances at me and then takes off…I love this photo taken yesterday….I got his profile…like he was posing and waiting on me.


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Remembering the Magic Moments in Life

Dear Reader:

Late yesterday afternoon I went to my bedroom “office” to start today’s blog and sat there wondering what it would be about…I honestly don’t know until I start typing. I am just as curious as anyone else.

Suddenly I heard a loud boom of thunder from off in the distance…while it was still sunny right outside my window. Curiously I grabbed my IPhone and headed out to my bench. From there I saw it… between the tree branches…the deep dark bluish-black skies rolling in. I felt chills go down my back. Mother Nature is so beautiful while being so powerful simultaneously.

I took the title photo and edited it while still sitting on the bench. When I heard my name I looked up and Susan, another neighbor, was walking her dog and she had spotted me…trotting over. She asked me what I was doing…and I told her how much I loved summer thunder storms.

I told her that our other neighbor, Vickie, loved the fresh smell of the rain falling from the sky during a thunderstorm…it was her favorite smell. She always texted me when she smelled a thunderstorm approaching…as if on cue my IPhone pinged and we laughed together.

I then went on to quickly summarize the true story I have printed two or three times in the blog for you over the years from an old Readers Digest magazine.

In summary…A little baby girl was born prematurely and very little hope was held out by the doctors that she would make it or if she did…she would have brain damage, as well as, physical handicaps. Facing this dire prognosis her parents never gave up….her mother sat by the incubator, day after day, with all the wires going in and out of her child…simply wishing she could hold the teeny tiny body in her arms so the child could feel the tremendous outpouring of love she had for her.

Miraculously the child survived…with no brain damage and minimal physical restrictions. One day, when she was about five, she and her mother were at the ball park watching her older brother practicing when a boom of thunder was heard and felt by the shaking bleachers. The coaches began whistling for the boys to come in off the field…while parents and siblings began climbing down from the bleachers.

Suddenly the mother realized the little girl was still sitting on the top bleacher with her arms spread wide open and the biggest smile of happiness on her face. The lightning was getting closer and yet the little girl paid no attention to her mother’s verbal warning to get down immediately.

As rain began to fall the mother ran back up to the top of the bleachers as the child hugged herself and laughed and laughed. Frantic with worry the mother asked her child what was going on…why wasn’t she listening to her. By now the rain was soaking both of them but still the child squealed with delight.

Finally she said…”Do you smell it mommy?” The fresh rain!” Her mother suddenly realized something bigger than a thunder storm was going on in her child’s mind.

“What about the smell?” her mother asked quietly.

“It’s God, mommy!When He held me on His lap when I was a baby God smelled like fresh rain!”

Her mother hugged the child and now understood that all those months she prayed and begged to be able to hold her little girl…God was doing it for her.

I finished by telling Susan that I have never forgotten that story and every time I smell ( like Vickie) that wonderful fresh smell of summer rain…I remember it is also being the smell of God and smile.


So until tomorrow…For me this was a magic moment yesterday…to share a story that Susan and Vickie (told it to her years ago) will always associate with the smell of God.

“Today is my favorite day” Winnie the Pooh

Another magic moment happened Saturday afternoon when Jakie, Mandy, and I were looking at the pond and watching a group of ducks swimming together. Three took off at one time…leaving one duck behind. I managed to get this photo before it, too, joined the others…I love the reflection in the water.







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“Life Happens Between an Inhale and an Exhale”

Dear Reader:

Just like one letter can take “Hope” and turn it into “Hoe” ūüôā with a missing “P” …one quick second (between inhaling and exhaling) with our first breath of air…is when the miracle of life begins.

In one second, for another example, I grabbed a flower planter and put it on the front porch steps to get the strangest little rain shower that popped up for about twenty minutes yesterday… while the sun was still out.

As soon as I put the planter back in its rightful place on the porch…a little daisy, that had been struggling to survive, popped open. One second (of putting it in a position to drink the rain)…and life was restored.

The miracle of life that takes place everywhere, everyday, on our planet…from hospitals, to tents, to homes and every place in between…IS the most important second in each of our lives. It takes place with that first intake of air into our lungs. What a strange baffling sensation that must be to our small, still undeveloped, nervous system.

None of us remember it at birth…but later as mothers or family members helping with child-bearing…we remember holding our own breaths until we hear the startled gasp and then ¬†cry of a beloved child. The most beautiful sound on earth.

Haven’t many of us have fallen or had the air knocked out of us…perhaps while playing a sport? It is the most terrifying second in our lives…not be able to catch our breath. In that moment of frightening disbelief… air and life become one and the same. We would give away everything we possessed just to get our breath back again…to feel life one more time.

Today all types of meditation classes have us stop and practice breathing since we spend most of our time taking it for granted. We discover that deep breaths, not only enlighten us, but open us up to a level of awareness not recognized with shallow breaths on a daily basis.

Think about breathing in relation to the most important benchmarks in our lives. The first question asked in an emergency situation is: ‚ÄúIs the person breathing?‚Ä̬†It is also often the first question asked about newborns and the last one asked about the dying.

But the most important question we must ask ourselves each day when we rise is…how am I going to help someone today between all my inhales and exhales? How can I help make the world just a little bit better for having been in it?

If we find ourselves hard pressed to answer the question…then we must face the next one. “Are we contributing to this old world or are we simply taking up space by breathing and little else?”

So until tomorrow…Like oxygen and carbon dioxide…we must find that perfect balance in life between taking in all of life’s beautiful gifts it has to offer and then releasing all our own unique God-given gifts to help as many others as we can… before we take that last breath.

“Today is my favorite day” Winnie the Pooh

I spent Saturday night at John and Mandy’s keeping the children while they “escaped” for some much needed adult conversation time. But that left me free to listen to a four-year old and and nine-year-old share the world according to both of them….wonder and curiosity.

Jake always wondered why girls got to paint their finger nails and boys didn’t…so (while Eva Cate giggled hysterically) I painted Jake’s finger nails too…he loved them and proudly wore the polish Saturday night and Sunday as we explored the inside and outside world together.

Eva Cate went with Clemson colors…orange on her finger nais and purple on her toes!

At last a meal without having to jump up every few seconds to get something for the children…and adult conversation without interruptions. Summertime and the ice cream truck…best childhood memories.


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Accepting People as They Are

Dear Reader:

I usually stop a couple of times a week and go through the mail that needs more time to read and make decisions about…rather to keep or throw away. Time management requires some time but I am getting better at categorizing the flood of daily mail that can pile up quickly if I put it off to read another day. Suddenly too many “other days” have passed and a mountain of mail is sitting on the desk.

One piece of mail (to arrive this past week) was a small envelope from Special Olympics for South Carolina….I give annually to this worthy endeavor but I make myself check my stubs to see just when I sent the check so I am not writing repeat “annual” checks to different organizations under Special Olympics over and over… thinking I didn’t pay the first time.

When I opened the envelope the familiar student drawing (title picture) was on the card and a smaller card within… displaying options on how to give. It was when I turned the outside envelope over that I saw these words”

“Thank you for accepting people as they are.”

This made me pause. In the present climate today of mounting intolerance towards different peoples, cultures, religions, and just simply different opinions…acceptance is not something we can automatically take for granted.

As a history teacher…pictures, videos, and heartbreaking stories of intolerance in our country (that was built on the ideals of tolerance and acceptance of diversity) bring too many similar scenarios from past histories in different countries.

Like Mark Twain once said, “History doesn’t repeat itself…but it rhymes.” ¬†As a mother and grandmother, ¬†an ¬†American history teacher…the rhymes are coming at alarming speed. My concerns are not about me…but the world my children and grandchildren will live in.

Will it be a world of indifference and ‘look the other way’ attitudes…or a world of kindness, caring, and acceptance. If we cannot now end our differences, at least we can help make the world safe for diversity. Strength lies in diversity, not similarities.

So until tomorrow… Hopefully…the best thing to come out of all the turmoil we are witnessing today, is to awaken people to the realization that “We, the People are the government and it is our responsibility to be vigilant in preserving the rights of the people to continue to have a voice in maintaining core values in a country built on them.

“Today is my favorite day” ¬†Winnie the Pooh

I have to admit that the fastest growing things in the yard and garden today are the weeds…all two feet tall of them….(Michael, where are you?)

With the mixture of rain and sunshine we have had lately, my weeds, that I like to call grass (until they are over my head) are happy indeed.

Still my plants are blooming and not in the least bothered by the weeds.



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