Category Archives: Hobbies


The Eric Carle Museum of Pictures

It’s funny. Ever since I finished cleaning out years of accumulation in my art room, I’ve just looked at it, been pleased, and moved on. It’s almost as though the room belonged to someone else. I didn’t want to mess it up.

Today, since it’s too windy to even THINK about working with peat moss or vermiculite, I’m giving myself permission to play. I don’t know that I’ll come up with anything, but IT’S OKAY TO PLAY.

I hope that you have found something fun to do today, too.

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Reading and Children Quotes – Take 1

Family Read-Shutterstock-Northern Virginia Magazine


“Once you learn to read, you will be forever free.” — Frederick Douglass

“To learn to read is to light a fire; every syllable that is spelled out is a spark.” — Victor Hugo, Les Miserables

“There is more treasure in books than in all the pirate’s loot on Treasure Island.” — Walt Disney


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Frightening Statistics

Vintage Books and Anchor Books via Ann Gilstrap

After I got my Master’s Degree as a Reading Specialist back in 1492, I didn’t want to read anything for awhile. I had been under so much pressure to read things I didn’t want to read and be ready to spit out the information in whatever form required for a LONG time. I found that, even when I tried to read something for pleasure, I read it as if I would be tested on it.

As I taught school at the elementary level on the north side in Tulsa for 8 years, my students have a need to learn to read at first. Their lives were such that books and reading just didn’t make the cut on what was important. I finally learned to break through that, using my guitar to teach phonics, and tossing all the rules I had just learned out the window, opting for common sense approaches. My own love of reading again broke through as I began convincing my students that they could develop a life-long love of reading.

I cannot go a day without reading. I LOVE the Internet. It’s such a good source of information, and you can learn most anything you want to if you’re willing to put in the time and effort to judge your sources. I could spend hours on YouTube. After reading and getting some background, actually watching demonstrations or explanations help make the new skills your own.

I read and follow recipes – trying to fill our lives with good-for-us low-carb food. I’m a lousy cook and have no talent for coming up with things on my own, but using the creativity of others, I can find a good recipe to try (low-carb peanut butter cookies will be tried soon), get whatever ingredients I need, and make the recipe that day (often to the delight of my husband).

I read to try to find out what’s going on in the world. I’ve learned that there is a lot of mis-information out there provided by really biased folks with axes to grind, but if I keep looking, I can find more reliable sources and then can judge for myself what is important for me to know and what the facts are.

Mostly, though, I read for FUN. I am the happy owner of a lot of books that I enjoyed reading, and now enjoy re-reading. I also love ordering new books for my Kindle. I can dive into a world that allows me to leave whatever might be bothering me behind, immersing myself in a world of interesting people doing things I’d never dream of doing personally. I emerge, feeling rested and happy.

I don’t want to believe the statistics above. I feel sad that so many people are missing such a rich source of learning and happiness.  This would be something I would want to try to change – if I had the chance.


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Ends and Beginnings


I’ve just finished re-reading all the books by Robert B. Parker – there are 40+ books in the Spenser series, plus the Sunny Randall series, the Jesse Stone series, a couple of books for youth, and then the “western” series of 3 books. I’ve had a wonderful time immersing myself in his world for the past few weeks and now – I have to admit – I’m feeling a bit bereft. I love his world, no matter the series or characters.

I’m reading an interesting book now called, “The Residence – Inside the Private World of the White House “- covering the Kennedys through the Obamas through the memories of the huge staff that not only works there, but feel an intense loyalty to whomever is living there, as well as the house itself, and all it stands for. The book is by Kate Andersen Brower.

The next thing I’m going to dive into is a re-reading of all of the Lee Child books in the “Jack Reacher ” series. He has created a fascinating, smart character confronting complex issues.


My husband and I laughed when the first movie made from the series starred Tom Cruise. Jack Reacher is supposed to be 6’4″ and lanky, kind of scruffy looking. And then there’s Tom Cruise. I have to admit that once we got over the appearance of the character we had in our heads, Tom Cruise did a good job of playing him in the movie.

I’m looking forward to re-reading the Lee Child books. It has been several years, and he has one that we just bought in paperback to add to the list!

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Cure via books rock my world via cathy ruggiero

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Cats and Flowers

One of my dear friends ordered two sets of hand-painted, personalized thank you notes recently – one with a cat theme and the other floral. I’ve had more fun doing this!


My friend knows my work. The cats will be silhouettes and cartoony and the flowers I paint are mostly ones that never were – except in my own mind. I’m spending a bit of time each day playing in my art room, trying to create thank you notes that will bring a smile or two.

Spending time there working on a project, trying to bring order out of chaos, or just experimenting, is just about the best time there is for me. The years fall away. Aches and pains fade. I’m totally absorbed, bopping to my music, surrounded by fun materials, with the only limitations my own imagination and ability. HEAVEN!


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J.D. Salinger via

There are two authors in this category for me – Nora Roberts, both for her romances and her J.D. Robb/Eve Dallas In Death Series; and Robert B. Parker. I’m now in the process of rereading his Spenser books, of which there are 40. I’m on #13 “Taming a Sea-Horse.”  Some of them have been read so many times that they’re falling apart, so I’m ordering ones in better shape to keep my collection intact.

Both of these authors have given me countless hours of pleasure with interesting characters I feel I know and care about. I can dive into a book and leave current worries behind. I feel so lucky to be able to read for pleasure.

When I was about 3 my family was all together one day in the living room. My mom was working a New York Times crossword puzzle and the daily cryptoquote. My dad was reading a book on archeology. My older brother was reading a comic book. I was sitting on the floor in the middle of the room looking at each of them in turn. I suddenly shocked everyone by saying, “I wish to HELL I could read!” There was silence after my brother’s gasp at my language. My parents were torn between washing my mouth out with soap and listening to the desperation in my voice. The desperation won, and my mom sat down beside me and began teaching me to read.

The school system tried to kill my love for reading and almost made it. By the time I got my Master’s Degree as a Reading Specialist, the last thing in the world I wanted to do was read something. For years I read as if I would be tested on it, or would have to write a paper about it. There were a couple of years where I read in order to prepare for teaching, but couldn’t read for pleasure. When I realized what I was doing, I made a conscious effort to get back the gift my mom gave me so many years ago.

I tried to give the gift to others, in the classroom and then in my own reading clinic. I only stayed in the public school system for eight years. I was constantly in trouble for using unorthodox methods, such a playing the guitar to teach phonics to my first graders, or giving out paper certificates under a tree on the playground on Fridays for good work that week. The clinic was a joy. My partner and I changed a lot of lives. We had children cry because they realized they weren’t ‘stupid,’ that they had just missed something they needed in order to make sense out of what they were seeing. We convinced one wonderful young man to go to college. He came back, several years later, thanking us for helping him become a park ranger. We did everything but make a profit, and so we had to shut the clinic down after three years. I feel lucky that we touched several lives.

I find it hard to imagine a life where reading isn’t an integral part, whether learning how to do something on the net, finding out about something interesting, following directions to cook a new dish, figuring out how to put something together, or the simply joy of escaping into different worlds, vicariously visiting places, meeting fascinating people!

I’m not sure what I would SAY to Nora Roberts or Robert B. Parker. I would probably be tongue-tied, trying not to sound like an idiot. Suffice to say, I would say a very sincere, “Thank you” for making my life so much richer.

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