Life on the Mississippi


Modern day Hannibal, Missouri enthusiastically celebrates native son Samuel Clemens who wrote under the pen name Mark Twain.  His image and name grace nearly everything in the old downtown.

the mississippi

Walking along the river it is easy to see how it charmed a young boy looking for adventure.  Life on the Mississippi undeniably shaped the man and stayed an important part of his being though eventually the pull of the river lured him away.


mark twain statue


Just a block from the Mississippi River not much has changed since the days which gave life to Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn.


clemens law office

The law office of Twain’s father, John Marshall Clemens, stands just feet away from the childhood home of the little girl who would come to be known as Becky Thatcher through the author’s work.becky thatcher's house



Directly across the street stands the boyhood home of Mark Twain.  A still white washed fence heads down the hill from the house.boyhood home of Mark Twain


the white washed fence

Tom’s clever way of conning his friends into doing his work remains one of my daughter’s favorite stories.  She was not above trying to fool her siblings by the same means as they grew up.

white wash bucket

A bucket of white wash remains in case the visitor can’t resist discovering what all the fuss was about.

I can’t argue that modern day Hannibal isn’t highly commercialized; after all, we walked up the hill from the white wash bucket to eat Twain Family Fried Chicken at the Mark Twain Dinette.  Still, I love the place a little more every time I visit.  I plan to return sometime when I can explore the river banks and, of course, Huck’s cave at my leisure. I will meander while reading adventures inspired long ago by the life of a boy and his friends, hoping for a little while to be swept up in an adventure of my very own.



TToT: A Muddled Mind

Just got back from Chicago where we took the time to see The Bean finally.  This is a shot standing in the center of the opening beneath it and looking up.  This photo is a good illustration of how my mind has felt of late….muddled and over busy.

Even muddled there are things to be thankful for this week.

Cooler temperatures, the beauty and art of the city, the freedom to not live in the city.

The engagement of a friend’s daughter… which led to a frenzy of texts between the friend and me… which served as a reminder of how much this friend has meant to me for as long as I can remember.

Working with Middle Schoolers—can’t help it.  I love them!

Silly road trips with my kids,  wrong turns and side trips that lead to adventure.

The experience of motherhood.

Coming home.


TToT: A Simple Life


Most of what I love in life is simple.  Fussy design whether in clothing, architecture or people wears me out leaving me cranky.  This week I am thankful for the uncomplicated.


For Kansas.  Wide vistas where you can see for miles without anything obstructing the view.  Home.

For people who are honest and open.  The kind of people who for good or for ill never make you wonder where you stand with them.

Vine ripened tomatoes that taste like tomato.


Along a busy thoroughfare in Chapel Hill, North Carolina I caught sight of a white deer.  It took me a while to realize it was not yard art, but a living breathing being.  Suddenly everyone in the car scrambled for our phones and started snapping photos while marveling over the strange beauty of the creature.  I am thankful nature still has the power to take my breath away unexpectedly.

I am thankful for weekends.

And chocolate.


I am thankful that most real wisdom in life is so basic.  Real wisdom is uncomplicated and discernible by all of us, not reserved for a few chosen intellectuals.  It is evident to us in nature and the ways our ancestors did things. It is up to us to stay open to it and be willing to learn.

And Chinese take-out, I am definitely thankful for Chinese take-out.

White Space


“White Space is where the world and all distraction falls away. Where the voice of the Divine can be heard. Where the Truth of who you are is found. Where miracles happen.”
― Valerie Rickel


I sit at the kitchen table in silence sipping tea and letting my eye travel over the simple shapes in the cupboard.  My mind begins to clear and my shoulders relax. I need these quiet moments.  I savor the stillness, though too often I forget to include it in my day.  Too often I feel guilty for sitting in stillness in a world that values busyness.


But the White Space is productive too. Only here can I hear myself think.  Hear the whisper of the small still voice that guides me and loves me and emanates from God.


I am better suited to face the world as I emerge from the stillness.  I think more clearly and forgive more readily.  I am more in tune with myself and my God.  I am renewed in the White Space.




The Difference Between Women and Men


I stopped to fill up with gas the other day and noticed a woman employee chasing a rat around the pumps, whacking it with a broom.  A very animated female customer loudly cheered her on, all the while jumping up and down.

A man was pumping gas at the pump in front of me.  The rat circled the man’s pump as the lady kept swatting it with the broom–to the left, to the right.  The man didn’t appear to notice either woman or rat.  The woman announced she was getting a bigger broom and retreated to the station past the cheering woman who continued to urge her on.

The rat took advantage of the cease fire to hide under the man’s car.  Finished pumping, the man jumped into the driver’s seat, threw the car in gear and sped away leaving a flattened rat on the pavement having never been aware any of this drama had unfolded in his presence.

This-I believe-illustrates difference between women and men.