Marry the Dog – SOL Day 7

I forgot my Notebook at school, so here’s a quick write over something that happened at dinner.  Planted this one in another Notebook, too, before bringing it here.  This year for SOL, I’m committing to notebooking first, before bringing anything to this blog.. 

Kids seem to have memories that last longer than the years they’ve been alive..

We chomp over dinner, and eldest-middle child says she once thought she’d marry her younger brother and that older brother would marry older sister.  Younger brother says, “And I thought that the Baby would marry the dog.”

… because when his two-year-oldish reasoning (at the time) figured there was no one left.

I depend on my children’s memories to get me through.  I’ve told you.. my memory faults me for so many reasons.  Know God is the keeper of my memory has let me drift into more important things — priorities, the present moment.  But, even so, every time they tell me some miraculous memory from another life (That happened to us?  Really?  Mama doesn’t remember.. ), I want to tell them with urgency to Write it down, Write it down, Write it down!!

But the teacher part of me wants to rest once I get home, and barely, just barely, I’m beginning to overcome my hesitation to impart what I know are best practices with my own children.  We play, you see.  And I believe in letting the mind rest for the few hours we have before we have to do it all over again.

It’s their viewpoints I want to remember, what I want to keep.  It’s those memories and viewpoints I want them to value over time by putting down those little meaningful details somewhere permanent.  I want them to believe, understand and commit to the importance of reflecting on a meaningful life.. among other things…

I’m telling myself now, so I won’t forget:  it’s not too late to bring the Notebook habit of mind to my children.




Notebook History – SOL Day 3

Slice Image

My memory’s vanished over time.

Nothing traumatic happened to me over my life that caused me to repress anything.. that I know of.  I don’t think I have something growing through my brain.. that I know of.. yet.  But at age 44, I can honesty say that I, at the age of 44, have a very limited memory of my childhood.  I don’t know where they are.

I make them up as I go along..

Meaning — something will remind me of a memory, and I’ll bring it into my Notebook.  I’ll notice that writing will draw out the event, beginning with a trace, and slowly fill in the image of the past, much like a child filling in a picture in a coloring book.


and that’s as far as I got before something came up during Writing Time in class today.

The point I was getting at.. I completely forgot!

(Note to self:  what are the best ways to capture ideas so that I won’t forget?)


My Mom’s Heart – SOL 2017


From a 3rd Period Notebook entry I wrote during Writing Time with my students..

It’s late at night, the dishes are washed, the counter’s finally clean and I notice the solitary hunk of stone sitting in the center, waiting to be picked up.  At first glance, I thought it was a potato, but when I touch it and feel it’s heft, I smile.  The smile turns to levity when I realize it’s a rock in the shape of a heart.  It’s almost a spiritual experience..

“Who’s is this?” I call from the kitchen.

“The rock?  Oh, I found that,” the 22-year-old replies from his room.  All these years and the kids still collects rocks.  He’s learned well from his momma.

“It’s mine, now!” I tell him.  “…’cause it reminds me of Granma.. and it’s in the shape of a heart.”

My son squeaks out into the living room in his pajamas.  It’s not so much that he wants to see the rock.. He wants to hear the story..


My mom didn’t talk about love much when I was growing up.

The only time she did was after Mom and Dad had an argument.  The moment Dad would storm out the door with his guitar to drink and sing the night away with, she’d  turn to me, saying “don’t marry  a man like this.  You want someone to love.”

Actually, I don’t know how accurate that is, because I don’t even recall the word “love” escaping from her lips and tied to a noun, pronoun, or even a Proper Noun in a single sentence.   .. until I grew up and met my husband.

That’s when she’d tease us and say “puro love!  puro love!”  She’d purse her lips, twitch her eyebrows, and jab the air with her index finger, pointing to the ceiling.  This was her wink-wink-way of letting us know she knew  we were intimate.  This wasn’t perversion.  It was her way of speaking of love-making in the puritanical world I grew up in.  She knew my husband and I loved one another — our story played out in front of her.

Other than this, no mention of love.  Hugs and kisses for sure, but I don’t remember any talks, any soothing recollections passed down from the family.. nothing.

There were only her rocks.

I must have been in my early 20s when I finally realized her rock collection meant more to her than memorializing a little trip or event in her life.

We’d be walking in the back yard, moving her water hose from one tree to another or weeding one of her plants when she’d pause for a moment and double over – entirely at the hip.  For a woman her age, I thought she was keeling over.

“Ma, what are you doing?”

“I’m getting a rock.”


She’d hold up her little find — a brown stone no larger than the dip in the middle of her palm.

“.. Ma, it’s a brown rock.”

Another moment to cast a knowing glance to her know-it-all daughter.  “You don’t see it?”

“No.  What is it?  What do you see?”  With my mother, any moment could become a mystical encounter. Tea leaves, curanderas, fire walks were the norm then.

“It’s a heart.”

I stood in silence, waiting for her to reveal what she knew.  Mom always knew.

“When I see these, I think God’s trying to tell me something.  I think he loves me.”

Religion reigned through punishment in my family, doled out by my punishing father for a punishing God. Dad was the authority in the realm and spoke nonstop about it — not Mom.

She never mentioned God, either.   Her silence on both faith and love was a sound rejection of my Dad and his belief, so it’s no surprise she found God’s love hidden in the castaway pebble that could be so easily overlooked by those who refused to see.

Her simple, profound statements echo through time and speak more to me than any dogma my father interpreted and tried to pummel in our souls during those years.

Today, I have yet to enter my mother’s house and find her rock collection that I know is hidden away somewhere, like her faith,  her love, and that brief moment I witnessed my mother encounter God’s simple love.

Tree Rings – SOL

My youngest daughter completes her 8th year this December.  To me, she’s already 9, which is mysterious to me because just 6 months ago, she was only 5 years old.

This particular phenomenon is all my doing.  The children don’t see this in themselves, they don’t intend to demonstrate these ages at all, but as the wistful parent who’s watching the last of her children’s childhoods .. it’s all I can do to see them 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 all at once.  Or 19, 18, 17, 16, 15, and 14.  Or 21, 20, 19 and 18.  Or 10, 9, 8, and 7. Or 13, 12 and 11.  That would be my second daughter.  She has always been 11 since she was 2, graceful and mature and independent since she knew she could run.

Beatrice, my youngest, aged quickly from 5 to 9 because 9 has always been my favorite year for the children, because 9 was my own favorite year.  I have very few memories.  What memories I do have depend on photographs of 1.) me nestling next to my mother when she was about 47 (… I’ve silenced myself for a second there.. Just this moment I realized this.  Mom was just a few years older than I am now..) and of 2.)  me before I go on my first trip, by myself to a big city.

Me, standing with medium-length hair parted on the right with a bow.  Me, semi-toothless and joyful.  Me, still clueless in childish wonder.  This was the year before I woke up.  Before I knew.  Before I saw.  Before I felt.  Before I understood.  Before I knelt.  Before I cried.

Sometime several weeks ago, the age kicked in for my youngest.  Which is unusual for my thinking.  Usually, their little years will extend into their older years, and not the other way around.  My soul must sense this last year, wanting to relish this last year early.

With every 9 that my children celebrate, I find myself cherishing the last of their childhood, but contemplating the strength of my will to sustain the joy,  peace and innocence of their lives.  Just by loving well, I think.

That’ll do it.




[still drafting]



imageOn our way down to the Rio Grande Valley, we pass several Whataburger restaurants, beginning a few miles from our home.  I can think of 1, 2, 3.. 7 Whataburgers as a viable turn-in option as we travel.  Obviously, it’s a Texas staple.

I’m not the first one to coin that phrase.  I think I borrow it from Joe Patoski who wrote several articles about Selena, the Tejano Queen, for Texas Monthly.  Whataburger was a staple for her, too, while she was growing up.  It’s interesting to think that these restaurants have been visited by the most diverse socioeconomic segment of society in Texas.  From infamous international music stars like Selena, to Texans eating hamburgers at their counters since I was 5, to immigrants crossing the border into America with nothing but the clothes on their back, Whataburger’s fed everyone.

I didn’t consider those ideas when I snapped this picture for a pitstop.  I liked the word “envisioned,” so I wanted to remember it.  Sitting here, listening to the roll of the road beneath my seat, I realize Whataburger memorializes memories of movement for millions of Texans.

We pass through, Whataburger stands.  Since 1950.


Sidekick. – SOL Day 8

Slice Image

I changed my avatar.  That’s me at 9 years old.  I loved that year.  Every time my children have turned 9, I celebrate that year as though they’re graduating from college or getting married.

This is almost true.  I’ve had 2 children graduate from high school — one a junior, another a sophomore in college — so I’ll soon know whether I’ll feel the same overwhelming joy of them earning their college degrees as I felt when they turned 9.  College degrees are no measure of lifelong success, not now, not in this economy.  But when you’re 9, you’ve entered the realm of reason and begin to enjoy the unfolding of life.


This is pretty much when my memory begins.

I have flashes of images — from old photographs not in my possession (isn’t that curious?):  me, holding on to Mom’s elbow when she was a teacher’s aide at my old school.  Me, about to embark on my first solo journey to San Antonio on a school trip.  Me, celebrating my 9th birthday, surrounded by my family that had outgrown me — which is where my avatar comes from.


I was 8 years younger than my closest sibling.  And, so, when I woke up to the world, everyone had already moved on.  That’s how I became Dad’s sidekick.

I don’t remember having done everything with him, but I do remember tagging along when he went to McAllen for tv parts and schematics (tv repairman), when he prepped his classroom and stocked it with measured chemicals and bunsen burners (chemistry teacher), when he drove for miles, late on Friday nights to drop off film for our local football team (team photographer) .. I just hung out with Dad.

We didn’t have conversations that I remember.  I don’t have photographs of those times.  I’m probably the only one in this world who remembers him being peaceful in his solitude as I recall these moments, because I know I was such a diminutive presence when I was around.  I kept Dad company, and he whistled.

He whistles still.