Scraps of the Past

In the dining room of my parents’ house on 1100 Jackpine there was a built in china cabinet. Behind the glass doors were shelves of trinkets my siblings and I bestowed upon my mother over years. Below the glass doors were two heavy wooden drawers where my mother piled all her scraps of fabric. By the mid-1980s, those drawers where packet with fabric commemorating 20+ years of Easter, homecoming, prom, birthday, Christmas, and wedding regalia my mother had stitched together by herself.

photo credit:
photo credit:

I am no seamstress (my 7th grade Home Economics teacher will attest to that). All the same, here are my scraps. I started collecting them over a year ago, because, like the old saying goes, “you don’t know when you’ll need them.”

Instead of letting them pile up for the next 20 years, I thought I would share them with you (Yay!). Maybe, just maybe, there is a writer out there who is apprehensive because nothing they write sounds just right. I’m here to tell you that I am standing right here with you. Nothing I write sounds highly impressive in the first draft (or second or tenth or ever), and there are sections that I have to cut out of the final draft completely. Cut and move along.

But hold on to the scraps. You never know when you will use them.



Life Lessons Learned 4/17/13

This weekend taught me a couple lessons, or should I say, I learned a couple lessons this weekend, since technically weekends cannot teach a person anything. Rule #1 in writing: Make sure your subject can actually do the action.

Now you understand why it takes me a week to write a post, constantly editing as I write. Rule #2 in writing: Do not self-edit while you write.

Whatever. Easier said than done.

Lesson #1 It’s easier to talk to your children about compassion toward others than to teach them by action.

Lesson #2 God doesn’t always get even with you by blessing you with a child just like you. Sometimes it’s much more heinous.

It’s All in My Head 6/25/13 

I started this blog to face my fears about publishing my writing.

Another reason for this blog is to journal family stories as I remember them, or was told, or experienced them (that should cover any lose ends with the fact checkers).

I have come to realize that not all family stories are funny, nor do they involve bad decisions; although those are still the stories I like to tell. When I remember a good one, I jot it down and wait for a great time to publish, but I can’t do that anymore. I need to write and click publish all in one action.

So here goes.

When I Am Old 8.1. 2013 (unpublished draft)

In the beginning of August, I found some folders of my writing from the summer of 2000. At the prompting of my community college creative writing instructor, I applied and was accepted into the Nebraska Summer Writing Institute that was being held at Wayne State College (not to be confused with Wayne State University in Michigan).  I felt I had really come into my own at the mention of a stipend in the acceptance letter. I was being paid to write!

When I walked into the commons area of the Humanities building, my confidence left me as I looked around at everyone who seemed to know each other, and I instantly believed that everyone in the room had known each other for decades and all of them were seasoned poets and essayists. They were going to find out that I didn’t know what I was doing and revoke my acceptance into the summer institute.  I sunk into the background and stayed as quiet as I could.  Everyday, I listened to what the others said about line breaks and rhythm, voice and tone, style and imagery, hoping desperately for a nugget of information that would instantly catapult my confidence to a place where I could talk myself into believing I should be there.

During the opening session, I silently prayed that we wouldn’t have to spend a lot of time on poetry. I have read poetry. I have recited poetry. I have made my students study poetry. “Please, oh please,” I prayed, “do not make me write poetry.” That’s when the institute’s facilitator explained that poetry and prose would be given somewhat equal time and that it was expected that everyone would participate.

Oh joy.

Over the next three weeks, I was delighted when the presenter passed out examples during the teaching. I clung to these examples and depended upon them to keep my charade going. I was desperate for the others to not find out that I was a fraud.

One attendee chose to teach us a mini lesson using Jenny Joseph’s Warning as an example

Hashimoto’s Disease 12.3.13 (unpublished draft)

(In my friends’ defense, I know they would have listened, commented, asked questions and would otherwise shown every sign of being totally engaged and concerned, and I love them for it.)

Although I agree with a couple of these, other topics are hold conditions as to whether or not they can be interesting topics of conversation. While I listened to the podcast, I found myself writing a rebuttal paper in my head.

Random Thoughts Friday ????? 6.1.14 (unpublished draft)

Recent Examples:

Halloween night I was scanning Facebook for cute pictures of family and friends’ children and grandchildren (I love the creativity of some of the parents) when I came across a friend’s post about her husband, Mr. Generous, giving out too much candy when an old acquaintance/friend thought it appropriate to hold Mr. Generous’s feet to the flame for claiming to be against the celebration of Halloween.

Pahleeeze! Can we all get off our high horses for one second to enjoy each other? Is it such a hard task to withhold harsh criticism to delight in the amusement with a friend? Can we dispense with taking to task every jot and tittle of a persons life and show some love and friendship? Goll… what a moron. Pull your head out! (So, okay, it is a tad bit hard.)

Daily Writing Challenge: How do I feel about education 12.18.14

When I decided to have children, I made their education a top priority. I promised myself and them that I would give them every chance at a solid knowledge base that my pocketbook could afford. It all started with buying books when the kids were newborns, and yes, the first books were Dr. Seuss. When money was tight, the library card was used more; however, I stayed mindful of the books to which they gravitated and those were kept at the top of the list.

My kids could read by the time they were four years old.  The girls, G and Effy are veracious readers, interested in almost anything they can get their hands on. My boy, Z, on the other hand, likes to read about farts, so Captain Underpants, Dork Diaries, Dragon Breath and Big Nate tops the list.

Making the kids into early readers was not my intent. It started with G coming to me and asking me to teacher her how to read.  Who in their right mind would tell their child “No, wait until you start school”?  So my husband and I saved up $300 and purchased Abeka PreK-K5 curriculum, so I could teach her how to read. After a couple of months, she was off and reading by herself. By the end of the year, so was reading at a 4th grade level, doing third grade math, and writing in script (cursive). Throughout school, she excelled in math and English and could memorize material after reading it over a few times.

There are nine years between G and Effy and Z. I did the same with them as I did with G and with the same results.

I am not a hardcore, “push my kids to excel at any cost” kind of mother. I expect them to do their best because I have laid the ground work for them to do their best.

Nor am I a “let the school do all the teaching” kind of mother. I have never expected the public school system to teach my children everything they need to know.

Common Core Curriculum will be the death of American education.

photo credit:
photo credit:


There they are. My scraps in all their error-filled glory. It took me awhile to get used to cutting chunks out of my writing. Choosing what was ultimately going to stay in my post and what was to be cut felt like choosing which one of my children I was going to keep and which I would give away. How does a writer do that? My solution was to create a scrap pile. Those precious snippets are all in a place I can find them if I ever need them.

What do you do with your writing scraps?


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