The Power of a Teacher


A Crayon Apron Made for My Daughter, Hayley, by My Teacher, Laura Gordon

    I’m in a pretty intense de-cluttering mode lately.  This morning I went through a bin of my children’s toys and found this sweet child’s apron with hand embroidery work done by my friend and, also, my former high school English Teacher, Laura Gordon.

    It’s been 30 years or so, since Laura gave me this gem and a sweet baby resting basket for my daughter, Hayley, when she was born.  In the past few years, we’ve had a chance to reconnect.  I am awe struck as to how Laura can name the year, class period, and the classmates from the year I met her at Bishop McCort High School.

I loved her class.  She painted her class room yellow; she was excited to share the school  allowed her to pick her own color.  I remember her saying she chose yellow, because this is the color students learn the best.  She bought us Kurt Vonnegut novels with her own money and taught us how to highlight passages in the book.  She shared herself with us…from her husband driving by the school on his way home from work (I think) with a Toyota car horn beep close to 3 O’clock every week day, and Laura stopping class and saying, “That’s Brad, he’s saying hello to me…every day.  It’s his way of letting me know he’s thinking of me.”  When John Lennon was killed in New York City, she dressed in black and explained how she wasn’t sure she could even come to class that day and what the world had lost from this senseless shooting.  In Laura’s class that year and the next year, too, we learned about life, literature, loss, and inspiration.  I was pretty sure I wanted to be an English teacher just like her.

I don’t remember how we stayed in touch as she moved on from Bishop McCort to teach at another school, but I was so thankful to be in Laura and Brad’s orbit, when I became a babysitter for their daughter, Jessie.  It was a blessing to spend time with such nurturing people.  There are so many ways they influenced me; they showed me how the gift of hospitality worked, how to hang wall paper, how to garden, how to really invest in a house and turn it into a home, to showing me the value of a hand made and hand quilted double wedding ring quilt.  It was a whole new world to me.

Life happened. I had one little girl named, Hayley, and a few years later a little boy name, Ben.  Laura and Brad were stalwarts of hope through a confusing time. We lost touch when our schedules didn’t mesh with our growing responsibilities.  Still, Laura checked in with me from time to time.


For a gaggle of years, we lost touch.   A year a so ago, I stopped by the Gordon house. I briefly saw Laura, when I visited Johnstown, PA. I thanked Brad and Laura for helping me so much with Hayley.  They had made a difference in her life; I wanted them to know much I value them.

Just a few weeks ago, I was shocked and brokenhearted by the news of the passing of their daughter, Jessie, at 34 years of age. It was good to talk to Laura over the phone and to know how she and Brad are doing.  Once again, Laura mentioned the class, period of the day, and my classmates by name when we spoke on the phone.  It was heart warming to reconnect with such fond memories from another time.  Gee–I loved their daughter, Jess, as did so many other people.

I’m still so grateful for people in the world like Laura and Brad Gordon; they are nurturing people, really the salt of the earth.

If you would like to donate to a meaningful and worthy cause, Laura and Brad have set up a memorial in Jessie’s memory; it’s called the Jessie Tree Fund. Use the link below to see what a beautiful person she was, and the huge imprint she has left on the lives of others.

I don’t think it’s possible to underestimate the power of a teacher to influence a child’s life for good!

I give thanks for Laura and Brad Gordon.

~From a grateful student and friend


Grand Parenting in 2018

Face Time w Matilda

From My Phone:  A Picture of Matilda’s Doll House and Me

I don’t know what I’m doing as a grand parent.  Both sets of my grand parents had passed before I was born. Grand parenting in this day and age is a unique experience.  This weekend I visited with my grand daughter, Matilda, using Face Time.  Matilda was playing in her bedroom with her doll house.  She set her mother’s phone in one of the rooms while I chatted with her.  From this picture, it looks like I was put in the bedroom.  This was such a funny experience…talking with Matilda and somehow being apart of her play time, too!

My two requests during this conversation were…one, please don’t put me in the dollhouse bathroom, and two, don’t ‘red-button me’ which ends the conversation.

Have a great week!

Lent and Letting Go


So, I’ve been thinking about what to give up for the Season of Lent this year.  Each year I try to do something different…like drink more water, eliminate chocolate from my diet, eat smaller portions, do quiet acts of service, not buying any new clothes, etc.  Recently while driving around my neighborhood, I noticed the Hazelnut Orchards were pruned.  It occurred to me if the hazelnut trees need to be pruned, maybe this would be a good time to do a focused season of ‘pruning’ of the things…the ‘stuff’…accumulated around my house over the years and let it go.  I plan to do this in a number of different ways.

Yesterday, I went through two extra large plastic bins of upholstery fabric; I’ve been storing this material thinking someday, I would make a ton of cute teddy bears.  And well, no.  It’s not happening.  It’s time to let all of this material go. I emptied the bins and came up with 4 garbage bags full of different fabrics, loaded them into the car, and took them to Good Will. 


Today, I went through the garage and gathered the following items together:  Styrofoam, cans and glass bottles for recycling, cardboard, florescent light bulbs, a broken VCR player, and old window shades.

I loaded the car and went to the Fresh Start Market and Espresso on Center Street and Styrofoam Recycling Center in Salem, Oregon, to drop off the back seat full of Styrofoam.

Next, I drove to the Marion County Recycling Services on Griffin Road off of Route 22 to drop off the blinds, cardboard, florescent bulbs, and the broken VCR/DVD player.

Then, I traveled to the Bottle Drop Redemption Center on River Street in Salem, to take care of three bags of recyclables…which amounted to a little under 10 bucks worth.  Here in Oregon, recyclable cans, bottles, and plastic drink containers are worth .10 cents each.  My son, Ben, makes fun of me for going to the Bottle Drop.  He told me he thinks only homeless people go there.  In truth, I’ve seen all types of people there…soccer moms, teenagers, the oldies but goodies (older people). I explained to Ben why I go to the Bottle Drop Redemption Center.  It’s really simple.  I love when I’m done the machine pumps out the reward of cold, hard cash.  Oh yeah!

It’s nice to know we are at the beginning of Lent, because sadly, I have so much more ‘stuff’ to sort through.  I’m determined to work through this Season of Lent and letting go. It’s time to make space for new things to come in life.

Check back to see how I’m doing and for the creative ways I hope to clear things out of my house. Some of the things I want to go and to never return are a pretty decent leather Lazy-boy Recliner, an oak claw foot dinner table, old paint cans, books, and more.

Will I or won’t I be able to park a car in the garage this year?



Pictures from My Rail Trip


I took this picture outside of Klamath Falls near Modoc, Oregon while on the Amtrak Train.






The Wagon Train Cafe found in Truckee, California.



This picture was taken at 1:50 am.  I’m finally boarding the Amtrak Train to Salem, Oregon from Sacramento, California.

More pictures of this journey can be found at

I Made It to Salem

I made it to Salem safely after 25 hours of travel. This picture is of the Salem Amtrak Depot and Greyhound Station.

I’m feeling a bit worn out and a little hungry. I can take care of these creature comforts when I am back at my house.

Thanks for joining me on this adventure. It’s been enjoyable to blog about this journey. Time wise, traveling from Salem to Reno, I would say flying is the fastest way to go at an hour and a half flight. Driving second at 8-10 hours and the bus/train combo – 26 hours.

It’s really good to be home!

Eugene, Oregon…Albany…Final Stop for me…Salem, Oregon

We hit the Amtrak Train Depot in Eugene, Oregon. There is a quick stop in Albany. The next stop is Salem, Oregon where I’ll get off. I’m very drowsy, but comfortable. I haven’t done any hand piecing on the quilt project I brought since I’ve been on the train. I’ve read a little of Richard Rohr’s book, Everything Belongs.

I’m glad I took the combo bus/train trip; it’s been a welcome change of pace. I’m grateful for the chance to sit, rest, and simply ‘be,’ and not be in a ‘doing’ mode.

I recommend traveling by train. I hope I have more opportunities to explore the US this way.

Overall, traveling by bus and train was a little cheaper cost wise than flying from Reno, Nevada to Portland by 20-40 dollars. I like driving to Reno from Salem, Oregon best. It is the cheapest…however it is a solid 8-10 hour drive.