The House in Illinois

The Baltimore Review has just released their summer issue, and they included one of my poems! I think The Baltimore Review sets their standards a bit higher than some of the other lit mags I’ve been published in, so this is a special one for me. The poem itself is about eleven years old. I think it’s time it was published!

Here’s the link to The Baltimore Review. My poem is called “The House in Illinois.” Find the picture of me to get to my poem!


Heartland is a beautiful new book of poetry, published by Anchor & Plume, written by LeighAnna Schesser, who lives in Kansas with her husband and young children. I love the depth of the imagery and the integrity of the author. Below are some lovely bits and pieces from her poems:

Of little wooden bridges, missing slats, tiptoeing across tiny rivers, and anthills, dusty and eroded in a drought, of dried-out footprints.

— from “Urgency”

The kind of afternoon that calls for old book pages;/ not for reading, for smelling, for feeling slightly raised/ print–for inexplicably desiring the prick and scratch/ of skittering down the scattering sides of haystacks.

— from “Memento Mori”

The river deepened and tickled the stones, and we hungered/ for the flavor of chilling air. Savor September, he told me./ The month of yellow may never come again.

— from my favorite poem in the book, “A Sip of September is Yellow”

Rosewater light at sunset moistens a sea of wheat./ Love makes us transparent, sky-weathered–

— from “On the Westward Expanse”

LeighAnna Schesser blogs here:



Scripture Journal

On a really tough day that has been part of a really tough few weeks, I’m finally doing something to get closer to the One who can actually solve my problems. I’m beginning a Scripture Journal, which you may follow if you desire, but it’s mostly for me. WordPress is acting as my accountability partner here. I’m looking at a Bible verse (or passage) a day and journaling about it. I aim to do it for a month.

My site is:


What’s Going on in the CM World?

What isn’t going on in the world of Charlotte Mason education, would probably be the better question to ask. It seems I joined in on this movement that is blossoming and growing and becoming more aware of itself by the day. That doesn’t mean I’m aware of it all. Not yet. I’m kind of slow about these things. I don’t care for big conferences, and I decided to take a summer break on any CM meetings that are taking place in the area. I don’t even have much patience to follow the conversations about the changing CM world on various blogs and web sites.

However, I do know that CM educators are finding more and more info from the different articles and reviews that Miss Mason wrote. Those of us who began with the six big volumes are now becoming aware that those big volumes are only a framework. The articles and reviews and letters that are becoming more easily accessible flesh out Miss Mason’s theories. And we find out we have been doing things wrong. At least some things. I’m not an expert yet, but I’ve vaguely become aware that nature study techniques need to be restudied (less art, more inquisitiveness). And composer study is perhaps a crutch we educators have been leaning on to cover a much broader (and more intimidating) study of music.

As my oldest begins third grade in the fall, and as I slowly begin to turn my summer break into a preparation for the next school year, I find myself wondering how much studying I should do? I like to study, and I’m pretty good at research, but at the same time, will it do much good to find out exactly how Miss Mason taught her class? Will slogging through a pile of articles really help me become a better teacher to my own children? I don’t know. There are some educators out there who do extensive research (Art Middlekauf, I’m talking about you!), and they seem to benefit a great deal from it. I think these folks with the big brains and the big hearts for their kids can honestly combine the two into a really good education.

At the same time, I think trial and error has its advantages as well. I’ve tried following Ambleside Online to the letter. Now, I believe I’ll try combining AO with some new things I’ve been keeping my eye on. For example, I think I’ll buy the “Jot It Down” writing program from Brave Writer, which will change the way we do poetry, among other things.

I feel like the wisdom of Charlotte Mason sifts into my life. Sifting is kind of an old-fashioned thing, too. The older recipe books tell us to sift together our flour and baking soda and salt. I think a sifter is a tool people used to use (sorry if I’m completely ignorant about this–I grew up without sifting things). Well anyway, it’s all a metaphor that I’m trying to work out here. CM is the flour sifting into my other life-ingredients. Her ideas help make a fine cake:)

Psalm 23

Normally Psalm 23 is easy to read, just a trip down memory lane. It contains all those pleasant images: green pastures, still waters. It reminds you how death isn’t so final or lonely. In fact, your life is forever and God provides everything you could possibly need and more.

But I read it today. And it wasn’t easy. More like uneasy. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life? Well, they might be right behind me, but they’ve taken on some disguise. I will fear no evil? Ha. And comfort? It’s not here right now.

I wonder what kind of day David was having when he wrote this psalm. Was he trying to convince himself of these things? Or did he sincerely know them to be true, and they really were a comfort?

I can say that I know this psalm to be true every day, but there are days it doesn’t seem to apply one bit. It should comfort me to know that it is true anyway. And so then I’m like a robot, muttering verses that are incongruous to me. (Still waters wouldn’t do robots much good.)

But there will be a day (I know this from past experience) when I’ll realize I have a soul after all and stop looking through these robot eyes. And then things will look brighter and make more sense. I hope.

Three Men Walking II

Three Men Walking II by Alberto Giacometti, 1948/49
Three Men Walking II by Alberto Giacometti, 1948/49

I like how open-ended Giacometti’s sculptures are. This could be three strangers, passing each other in the street. It could be three family members, at home with one another. Or it could be three personalities, walking together and also going their separate ways. I know I have those days when there’s at least three of me, and I don’t stick together.

A Reason to Blog

I’m not much of a party person, but I went to a very nice casual party. I knew everyone there, and I liked everyone there. The entire time I felt like I was enjoying it. And then this is the secret of me, the thing that even I don’t really understand: I come home and think about it and everything is suddenly awful. I’m sure I was not dressed right. I’m sure my kids were acting impolite. I’m sure my own house is unfit to live in compared to the houses of other people. I’m sure I not only sounded foolish there but I’ve always sounded foolish and didn’t know it. I’m certain there is nothing about my life that can even stand up to the lives of my friends. I’ve done everything wrong, and moreover, I cannot fix it.

This is when I need my blog, folks. I need to see those old posts. I need to know that I have actually said some things that made sense. I need to see those pictures because those are beautiful. Nothing in my head can convince me otherwise. I need to know I have a niche in this world where I am at least a little bit unfoolish.

Even now, though, I think this through and know that I am supposed to be going to the Bible for my affirmation. Well, yes. So that’s a part of my blog, too. To think things through and get myself oriented. Sometimes I need that more than other times. It’s like a little pep talk from myself in the past.