Email from My Maple Leaf Daughter: Butter Knives & The Ides of March

It’s fun reading this post. This exchange occured the first Spring of Devon’s mission, when she was so GREEN! Fun! In a week she will be home to embark on a new adventure. Can’t wait.

The Mermaid Swims... Strait Way to New

Wolver Devon

Butter knives?……and the Ides of March?  Hmmmmm.


This week has felt like an eternity for me. It is good to be writing to you all again:) Last Monday, after emailing you all, we went to Royal Roads University. Otherwise known as the X-Men castle! It is out of my area, but we went with the Sister training leaders, Sister D. and Sister K., so it was okay. We also took butter knives and pretended to be wolverine! I got to wear pants and my swacket! It was glorious:) We also saw a peacock in a tree. Sister B. tried to coaxed it down with her peacock call, but it wasn’t having it.

This week I also was able to have real poutine! One of the members has a dinner called La Belle Patate, which I think is French for ‘The Beautiful Potato’, and he gives free poutine and soda…

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mE-mail Momday: evonDay Countdown

Dear Sister Robertson

Dear / Sister Vancouver/

Hi Devon.
I hope you had a great week doing missionary work and that you are not being
TOO serious.
Confession:  I can’t wait to Skype with you on Mothers Day.
Speaking of Serious, (cough) DESPERATE….Your Sister is working desperately on a research paper for Ms. (teacher who has a bird name), tonight.  She put it off until the absolute last minute. Surpraise! I think I meant Surprise, but I’ll keep it.  The project is a position paper on how Smart phones are bad for our health.  I have been telling your sister that for ages. She is definitely addicted to her phone………me too.
I have decided your sister is no fun to tease when she is stressed.
I haven’t been feeling well.  Maybe this is from my cell phone.  Every school day feels like a week. It is not that fun at school these days.  Testing has ensued.  Our school sits directly on the Sage Fault line. Even so, Friday afternoon, I did get out the HotWheels, dominoes,  and Legos for another episode of Virtual Starbucks Apprentice. Guess What?! The real Starbucks is marketing a new, ridiculous frap called the “Pink Unicorn.” The kids made me a pretend one.   Starbucks should rename it “Sipp’n Siren/ Death by Sugar.” There is no way I would ingest one of these.  I know I need to change my thinking about school. I am in survival mode and still stuck in the past and not loving the present.  I need to be in thrive drive…but all I want to think about is the drive to the coffee drive thru.
Last night we watched E.T. on Netflix.  D. had never seen it before. Of course, I had, but this time it was kind of dumb and extremely SAPPY!  The best part of the movie was tiny Drew Barrymore and the flying BMX bike get-away.
Yesterday, I went to the city and spent a few hours with S. and Wyatt. It was sunny and warm enough to be out in the yard.  S. spread fertilizer and weed n feed on her lawn.  She and I pulled weeds and dandilions.  This was a lot of fun.  There were some huge rag weeds with deep roots on the strip near the road where I park Pearl.  I kept joking with S., saying, “Take it easy. Don’t puncture my sidewall!” It felt good to laugh. It felt really good.
I pulled some dandies, but I mostly played and rolled around on the grass with Wyatt.  He loves being outside and touching and feeling everything…..grass, leaves, tiny blossom petals on the ground, dirt, sunglasses, earrings, necklaces,etc.  He sees and wants to touch everything!  Fortunately he doesn’t put stuff in his mouth, but his hands are so STRONG!
Later, I hiked to the Spillway and over to Mermaid Cove.  Each time I go there, I bring home a piece of driftwood, or an interesting rock.  I’m making a wood flow   -er, arrangement in a large glass vase.
I hiked to Rockport again, today.  This was the best! I walked half way through the fields along the ditch project.  It is so sad to think the ditch is dead and buried now.  No more milkweed. No more Monarchs. No more running  and hurdling the gaps and cow pies toward the Dam Loop.
Higher up the  cedar hill, an old telephone pole looked like a cross. There were three poles, actually.  These reminded me of Easter and Christ on Calvary.   Beyond the scree, I scaled the rock ledges from Dead Man’s Cove over to the campgrounds and beach access. Once on the shoreline, I found a sandy moraine and a soft spot on the sand to decompress.  I just breathed and soaked in the sun. It was so peaceful, D.  I lay there wondering what the Sea of Galilea looks like; whether it resembles wind-tossed, choppy, Rockport. Some day you will see it for yourself.
There was a group of women on the shore laughing and talking. They had two boxer dogs and a collie.  They didn’t try to box me…ha ha 🙂 The curious dogs did come to investigate though.  When the women called for the dogs to come back, they didn’t mind any better than Jimmer and Bruiser used to.  After some time, your sister picked me up at the boat launch. I was so grateful for this, because it was such a windy day.
 It was partly sunny,  and partly coldy today.  I wish I had taken my hoodie with me. I feel a sore throat swelling now. I was grateful for sunglasses though. I am more wind burned than sun burned.  It snowed one day last week but the weather is improving each day.
D. has MORP on April 29.  She is excited and has been on the phone making plans with her friends about the date and dance, instead of writing her paper.  I told her I should help her with her paper by locking her phone up in the safe.  Then she would have a story to include in her paper for Ms. Hawkes.  She didn’t go for it, but has now refocussed and has been working steadily for the last half hour… so there is hope.
Did you know Don’s birthday is Wednesday, April 26?  He will be 23?  He and his room-mate, Josh,  were home this weekend to build a coffee table for their apartment out of 2x4s.  The design is a table that can be used as a foot rest or table, but that can also function as two benches for extra seating. It’s really taking shape.  Next time they come, they will sand and fill cracks.  Last night, D.,  Kyler and Kendrick had a bon fire on the Bates’ side of the river.
Don told me the two of you emailed back and forth last week. Cool. Wish I could do this with you. Let me know what time you are online.
I love you.  I sent a “Happy Spring” package, the day before Easter. Hopefully you get it soon.
Take care and have a wonderful week!
Love, Mom 🙂
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My father….he loved trees



My father, he loved trees

but I’m not sure he loved me quite as much

I know he loved the trees cuz twenty-something sweaty sun-baked holes got dug

a double shovel handle, hungry razor jaw,

hinged post-hole digger slammed

again again again

he pulled the earth and shook the sods

as if extracting rattler fangs

he pounded on

down down

the iron mouthbit ringing out and splitting rocks

deep deeper in the heart of Chiggerville

until the acre lot out front became a bumpy scarred up place

full of tree holes for twenty- something root balls

then while he cut and pulled the twine and burlap

he sent me off  and running to turn the tough red faucet

my slippery little hands just could not grip

and so I swung and kicked my whole child self

I hung in hopes I’d budge it

long last…..I did

like magic

It hissed and sighed the breath of life

it made the heavy green snake jump beneath bare feet

it came to life

a hundred feet of twitching, pulsing, jerking, muscle

water works

Again again, my father quenched their thirst

and so, I know he loved his trees

besides, I hauled a hundred times five-gallon buckets with him

his hands were strong and calloused

the bucket handles cut my hands to blisters

And all the time, there in the shade, my brother chopped the bamboo

behind the Air Force barack, make-shift house

he worked for pennies

for nothing…..

He couldn’t stop the rooted beasts from growing

along the flood plane, the bamboo grew an inch or two each day

nothing could stop it, not even ten times ten machettes splaying

He could have worked all day and night and never gained the upper hand

I never understood this rite of boyhood or preferential treatment

and all the while the bamboo grew

and all the while my father hoped his trees would too

I think the bamboo knew …the work of growing…better than most

It was something magic

requiring patience

demanding faith

hope,  vigilance

I think my father wished this magic bamboo spell upon his trees

and prayed they would take root and grow as fast

my father loved his trees this much and more

more than the bamboo in the backyard, more than the sun

he watched them every one just like a sentinel

within the moonlight

beneath the stars

beyond the fireflies and cricket chorus

he heard the dance of armadillos

the shift and shuffle of their midnight rounds

the claw and tear and gnaw of tender shoots and roots

This made him crazy

one night I saw my father leave with haste

with gritting teeth, chest pounding

he set an angry jaw and slammed the screen door shut

then left a trail of choice words through the night air

I listened through the heat but could not see or hear much

until the painful screams began to work their terror on me

a shadow of a man with claw in hand

a bloody, muscly ball of armor jumping, squeeling

a scalloped, hairy rodent trying to flee

no use.

In time the bludgeoning hammer stopped

the air was thick and still and silent and dad returned without a word

his pants were torn and garment top was bloody

His face was red with pride

and he was smiling through the blood and dirt and sweat

He loved his trees… no doubt about it…he proved it

but I’m not sure he loved me quite as much.

A decade passed.

I went to college,

partly by luck on scholarship and paid the rest

I bought a junk heap car and got my license on my own

some Saturdays I drove the fifteen miles home when not at work

he’d be there in the yard with hose in hand

tending the trees

admiring their leaves

glowering over a first pear or peach, boasting a nut yield

cracking small pecan shells

even if it was only a dozen cracks a year

I never seemed to please him in this way

Sometimes I wonder what our life would be….. if he,

if we…. had stayed on there deep in the heart of Texas

awhile on Weil, on that land and in the Ping Pong House

another wet season on Wetz; in that strange house on stilts

if dad hadn’t had the heart attack

or retired early,  or moved out West to rest.

He would have seen those trees grow to maturity

in all their fruit and beauty

I know

They grew up….I saw them

three decades later on an autumn holiday

We, the trees and I, we had our own reunion

They were magnificent

I wonder what dad would have said, if he were living and thriving then and now

just like his trees

perhaps he’d hear them speak the Wisdom he was seeking

when he loved them

Somehow, somewhere…

I think he’s growing trees again and wishing he had me to help him



























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wander wear


(random image from Google images; just playing at found poetry)

she travels wild sands

turns warrior pose

away to see a tameless mane

blown grasslands

froth and whirl

effaced salt mist

heartbeat and thunder

a tree ear pressed to the pounding ground

eyes closed

adept to hearing tangled

wild creatures netted in the surge

heart caverns home to swirling

billowing breathless


dirge of a restless







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Girl I Know


Orange clove mind

mist, boxing gloves

sweaty work-out

power pose

smiles, laughter

protein, eat-clean

mountain dance

tank-top, jeans

pens and Art

Giving hands

Growing heart

to understand

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Goodbye Butterflies

My heart cries tonight at this site.  A construction crew came through this week.  They installed a high pressure pipe irrigation system in place of the old ditch flood system. Tonight when the rain stopped and the sun broke through, I took a walk down the fence line to look it over.  That’s when reality set in.  Every bit of marvelous milkweed is gone. Not a leaf or stick remains.   A 150 year flood irrigation system and wetland ecosystem has been altered forever and I am heart broken.  When the Monarchs return there will be nothing here for them. Nothing… unless there is milkweed growing in the riparian zone closer to the Weber River, three hundred yards away. As for me, I gifted away all the milkweed seed I had harvested.  I am just so sad about this.

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In Which I am Thankful I am Surrounded by Good Witches and Gobblings…




Today I am thankful…

for good witches (not the bad ones found jelly side down in a sand box,

or the frightening warty ones of literary and cinema horror stories,

but good ones… Glinda, and Elphaba, and Xan, and teachers

who clap their hands believing in fairies and scatter pixie dust

some flying with wings and gold and rainbows

Some reading Roald Dahl…with or without gloves and square-toed shoes.

Which ones?……good women, with kind thoughts, understanding hearts,

and who have each others backs

*I am thankful too for

gobblers ( ha ha…..not of the turkey kind……but of the children kind

(sometimes hungry, and sometimes not, but more often than not,

birds of a feather, grateful for the snacks I scatter before them)



I am thankful

my life does not depend on eating some of that turkey feed and…….Seaweed.

It was March, and the Moon was full of milk, like a first time Spring heifer about to calve. It was the week of Dads and Doughnuts, and Read Across America, when on a whim, I bought a package of dried seaweed at Whole Foods. Oh, the Places I go.  This school year, I have a student who loves the stuff, and just for kicks I decided to taste it.  I was dying to know what the draw was. Why did he love the stuff so much.

After one bite, I discovered there is no draw for me.  Zilch. Zero. Nada. No magnetism.  Let’s just say I experienced the Law of Repulsion. Barfo! It smelled and tasted like…goldfish food.  Yes.  I have tasted goldfish food. So along with that bite of seaweed, I think I drank more water in five minutes than I had all day that Saturday…and that was a double Title work-out day, which meant mega hydration.

So,  I sat in Pearl,  carefully chewing, nose plugged so as not to taste the smell. I imagined the green stuff as green eggs n ham.  I was hoping Seuss’s Magic would work on me. Initially, the stuff crackled and mixed with saliva like a thin slice of celophane. Thoughts left Mulberry Street and  meandered toward Sassman and Wetz Lanes , backroads of my rural Texas upbringing. Memories of well-done scrambled eggs filled my brain. I held these heavenly haloed on my tongue.  The scabby skiffs of egg-run residues. I concentrated my tongue, like a spatula scraping a ring around the teflon rim of the frying pan.  The egg pan trimmings were my favorite thing about breakfast as a kid. Better than bacon. Sweeter than juice.  I loved making a  quick collection of crusty protein.  So with a fast greasy finger, I garnered these, as if playing with fire, trying not to get burned on the still-hot pan before mom could catch me and take the turner.

Turn the clock forward forty years. The whole time, at  Whole Foods, while in that awful cud chewing mouthful moment, even the best imagining could NOT make the seaweed taste good.  So, like the creative stack and stockpiler I am, I saved the despicable thing. Rather than toss it to the trash, I took the seaweed to school and stashed it on top of a rolling bookshelf.  Just knowing I had attempted eating the stuff, was worthy of a prize ribbon.  Just possessing some of it, felt just as empowering toward magikal, because I knew it would only be a matter of time before a certain little boy would want it.  There: along-side a plethora of skinny, fine-tip markers, crisp roll of golden tickets, and sundry master copies of just run, or needing to be run Reading Street tests and practice sheets. Yesterday’s custodial pen and pencil pick-ups,  Sleddy the Snowman who is still counting down the days until next Christmas, and Rusty, the recess cowbell, had nothing on the seaweed pack as I would discover.


Student: (with a Big Smile, drawing out my name) “Mrs. Rrrrrrr, Can I have a piece of

your seaweed?”

Teacher: ” Did your dad bring a supply to Mrs. Beamann yet?”

Student: “Nooooooo.”

Teacher: “I guess your dad needs to do his homework then.”

Student: “The China people live too far away for them to get it.”

Teacher: ” Your dad doesn’t have to go to China to get seaweed. There is a store in the city, less than an hour from here. And…..the workers don’t live in China either.”

Student:  “I know. My dad has been too busy….(endless excuses)”

Teacher:  “Maybe you should work on your dad instead of working on me.  He needs to do his homework. If you want seaweed, your dad will have to bring it to Mrs. Beaman.”

Student: “Okaaaaaay.” ( Pause.  I am doing homework check-in and attendance, etc.  Student is standing next to me.)

Teacher:  “Do you know how most mornings I am the one checking  in on you, asking  how your morning is going and if you have eaten breakfast?”

Student: (Nods.)

Teacher:  “Well, today, you might need to be asking ME those questions.  I had a really rough start this morning. But the good news is……even though it started out that way, I can still choose to make today a happy day. You know, you can make it happy too. Does that make sense?”

Student:  “Yes.”

Teacher: “Good.”  (Student slinks back unsatisfied to his desk, continues to stall and does not comply with work requests.  Picks up a book called Explorers and reads, rather than working on an Ipad task.)

Teacher: (Lets it go, realizing that INTEREST drives reading……and Reading is good and better than no reading.)


(Rewind to approximately 30 minutes earlier)

7:38 am

I notice daylight permeating the peach and mauve-acado  J.C. Penny floral curtains

Sit stark upright, wondering if it is Friday

Nope it WASN’T!!!!  (That was tomorrow’s Snow Day holiday)

Dove into a pile of pillows to retrieve a cell phone


Discovered to my horror it truly was…..7:39 a.m.

It was a school day

The Benedryl sleeping pill had done the job…..TOO WELL

Knocking me out like a Title prize fighter!

And so, with a head ringing like a  bell

I called for help.

All day long…..

I am grateful for Mrs. S. for opening up my classroom, letting in the children, and for cracking the iPad safe.

I am thankful for Mrs. B.

for sitting with the children until I arrived 20 minutes later


I am thankful I made it to school ALIVE without incident

and that I slowed to 20 mph in the school zones


even in a fuzzy state of dishevelment, without a morning routine,

without beloved  COFFEE

ambrosia of the gods

without deodorant, oblivious to the sunrise, and without thoughtful morning prayer,

With the biggest Benedryl hangover headache possible

I arrived ALIVE.


So thankful for Mrs. B……for B-ing there.

Thankful for students who

are kind and get to work  without too many questions.

Thankful for the Office help and for a shorty-bus shuttle

to the swimming pool so we didn’t have to walk in the snow and rain

the 2×2 blocks to and from the high school pool.

I am thankful for space, and for quiet recovery to go sit in Pearl and to put on

make-up in a belated parking lot ritual

I am thankful for

a prayer of quiet gratitude

I am grateful for no judgement

No one there, aware, and  judging the state of my mind and my physical appearance

in this moment.

I am thankful for imagination

and for my Savior’s  arms around me

as I realize…….everything is okay and is going to be okay.

I also realize…….I have a sleep problem, among other problems

that I wish to overcome

but I am really just very thankful……that I woke up.

Later I see a friend.  She is hanging Art in the kiva. They are the pixelated pictures; a product of the practice of “Seeing” things as they are. I tell my friend what happened.  She listens and cares.  Then she shares some scary personal stories about a family member with sleep problems.  The individual was so out-of-it on pills, that she would wake in the middle of the night in a zombie state and  cook food.  One night she almost burned down the house.  Wow!

I am thankful……that I don’t cook…(ha ha)…(under the influence)

and that the only waking I do (in the night)

is in a hot flash, or

is to go to the bathroom

or to make the cold, hard wood floor walk, to fill my green plastic, bed-side water cup.

I am thankful I can walk… with and without pain.   And I am thankful for water.

I am thankful for school lunch……..cuz I was soooo hungry today.

Not even a Yoohoo snack drink, almonds, and two fist-fulls of Cheeze-its would quell my churning stomach.

I am thankful… (that I don’t have four stomachs like cows do….or otherwise…

I might have had 4 times the hunger)

I am thankful…

for kind lunch ladies who make it my way, right away, and don’t mind customizing

the lucky red tray

without, chips, cake, cookies, and cinnamon rolls, even though all of these things are homemade and delicious.

I am thankful for protein and carb cycling

for baked chicken and homemade rolls,

for green salad, with Ranch dressing and dried blueberries (bugs).

And….I am thankful  I am frequently caught on the knot of lunch room tug-o-war,

being beckoned by my children to eat with them.


(12:00 pm, Lunch)

Seaweed Kid:  “Mrs. R., will you sit by me?”

Teacher:  (Slight pause. Whispering heart) (Enthusiastic) “YES.”

Student:  “I get to sit by the BEST teacher ever.”

Teacher: “I’m glad you are feeling happy today.” I sit down and begin eating french fries.

Student: “Mrs. R., You are loved.”  (Student half-hugs me.)

Teacher:  “I’m glad you are feeling good today. You know, I don’t always feel loved.”

Student: “Well, you are!”

Teacher: “Thank you.”  ( I imagine this has something to do with me inviting students to have inside recess in our classroom with Legos, rather than face the chaos of inside recess in the gym.)

I am thankful for

inside recess (at least for today)

for happy, playfully engaged children

and for seeing stormy weather as an opportunity


And so…… I host the Lego Club and another edition of

“Robotic Starbucks of the Future” as it is wonderfully imagined by my 4th graders.

I am also thankful

I could rescue two girls from the wrath of a witchy teacher casting dark spells

outside her own territory.  So, I  was Glad to welcome in with a wink, two girls form another class as my own, who had curiously gone rogue from the gym to find safe haven in my classroom.

I am thankful for smiles

from those girls and others who chose to build domino trains and  “gears” into  engineering something future-rama.

I am grateful for many things, not the least of which are my 4th grade gobblings,

one of which covets a nasty  feather-weight seaweed pack, that I keep as a reminder of leveraged power

that is …….the Power

to do good or to reward good on my terms, with Love and Logic,

And so I will end with this….

and promptly make a sandwich made for gobbling















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