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Posts Tagged ‘Berry Queens’

Join the Two Writing Teachers blog for March Slice of Life Challenge.

Join the Two Writing Teachers blog for March Slice of Life Challenge.

I met Julianne first on her blog, To Read To Write To Be. She writes about as often as I do reflecting on her life and teaching. I really do not remember why we connected so easily. We met in person at NCTE14 at the Kidblog.org booth in the grand exhibit hall. Then last summer she was coming to New Orleans with her daughter to look at colleges, so I made plans to meet her. We spent the whole day together and never stopped talking. What fun to show her parts of the city I love. We decided then to be roomies for NCTE15. And now we are close friends.

Today is Spiritual Thursday, a day created by another blogging friend, Holly. We are writing about each other’s One Little Words. Julianne’s word is the theme for today, Admire.

It fits Julianne so well. She is one of those people who stands beneath your wings and helps you fly. She does this for her friends. She does this for her family and for her students.

I think the reason Julianne chose this word was completely unselfish. She wants to admire others in the same way you notice a sunset.

Admire, notice, see, celebrate.

In my own life, I surround myself with people I admire, my family, my friends, my communities. I evaluate and then emulate.

But there are always times when I fall short. I am not the person I want to be, especially when things are not as they should be.

On Sunday, a group of women I belong to, The Berry Queens, held our annual Hats and Hallelujahs brunch. I wasn’t planning to go until a colleague offered a hat that she had won a few years ago at the same event. Like Goldilocks, the hat was just right.

I was so glad I went and not because of the food (delicious cheese grits, bacon, egg casserole, and biscuits) or the singing (a local gospel choir) or the raffle or any of those superficial reasons. I sat next to a woman whom I hadn’t seen in a while. She has been through a great deal of loss (her husband, then her mother), and she moved away. We were talking about tough stuff that you go through and how life can be a cruel teacher. She talked so honestly about her growth and her faith that instead of me offering her comfort, she was giving that to me.

In the end, we stood together and sang “Amazing Grace” knowing in our hearts the true meaning of the words we were singing, “I once was lost and now I’m found. Was blind, but now I see.”

Admiration is opening the window and looking out, letting God speak to you through others. He always will. You just have to notice.

Join the Spiritual Thursday round up at Reading, Teaching, Learning.

Join the Spiritual Thursday round up at Reading, Teaching, Learning.

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Join the Two Writing Teachers blog for Tuesdays Slice of Life Challenge.

Join the Two Writing Teachers blog for Tuesdays Slice of Life Challenge.

Magic Mike entertains

Magic Mike entertains

The magic started with a special visit from Magic Mike (not the dancer) at our annual Solomon House Christmas party. We invited ten families. We were all treated to a special magic show with Michael Dardant and my former student Magic Matt. This was the first time they performed together. My cheeks were hurting from so much laughter and joy. Our church had sponsored these families. We ate together, laughed together, and shared the gift of Christmas.

Nothing like a Christmas parade to put you into the holiday spirit. I joined the parade with my Berry Queens. The Magic on Main Street theme this year was Frozen, even though the temps were in the late 70’s at the time. We wore white wigs and blue or white dresses.

My best Berry Queen friend is Cathy, “Queen Puss-n-Boots.” She is a creative seamstress. I never know what she will create for us to wear. This year she created snowflakes on a baby blue skirt. She added fairy wings to our blouses. She knows how to make me look great.

During the parade, a few little girls wanted to take pictures with me, and one precious one gave me a hug. Spreading joy is rewarding and fun! “It’s Great Being Queenly in the Berry!”

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Met up with beautiful Miss Iberia, Brandy Milliman.

Her Royal Highness talks the queenly talk with an itty bitty princess.

Her Royal Highness talks the queenly talk with an itty bitty princess.

 

My husband took me to dinner and dancing. He was not embarrassed one bit.

My husband took me to dinner and dancing. He was not embarrassed one bit.

 

 

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SOL #28

SOL #28

Discover. Play. Build.

Ruth Ayres invites us the celebrate each week. Click over to her site Discover. Play. Build. to read more celebrations.

Tulips from the grocery store.  A gift for my mom.

Tulips from the grocery store. A gift for my mom.

I am at home. My parents are surrounding me and my friend, Cathy, with love, kindness, and laughter. I love seeing my parents through her eyes. We are eating breakfast this morning having lively conversation about personality types and stories. The stories! I hear stories again that I have heard before, but with my friend, the stories have new meaning. I am celebrating friendship and family.

Last night we ventured out to an oyster bar to hear my brother’s band play. What live music does for the heart and soul should be celebrated. One of his band members, Monty, has been playing with him for 36 years. I celebrate my brother, his music, and Monty.

My brother Hunter, me, and Monty, his longtime friend and bass player.

My brother Hunter, me, and Monty, his longtime friend and bass player.

Cathy and I are in Jackson for the Sweet Potato Queens weekend. The theme this year is Braveheart, so we wore plaid tutus to the Big Hat Brunch. Cathy made the skirts as well as our hats which reflect our own personal theme of “birds of a feather.” I celebrate Berry Queens, friendship, and Cathy’s creativity.

Me with Cathy in our Berry Queen finery and big hats

Me with Cathy in our Berry Queen finery and big hats

View of the lake from an upstairs window.

View of the lake from an upstairs window.

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Discover. Play. Build.

Ruth Ayres invites us the celebrate each week. Click over to her site Discover. Play. Build. to read more celebrations.

The winter can be such a dreary time. I am celebrating today how blooming continues even when the days are gloomy. An amaryllis bulb, a Christmas gift from a friend, is blooming in my kitchen. I have documented it with images and put them into a quick video. Enjoy blooming!

This week the Chamber of Commerce held its annual banquet honoring the Citizen of the Year. Our own boss queen of the Berry Queens, Jerre Borland, was selected. In typical Berry Queen fashion, many of us wore our ball gowns and enhanced hair along with tiaras and glitter to honor Jerre. Her speech touched us all. I wanted to celebrate and share a snippet with you today. I am sure you will be inspired by her words as well.

Several years ago, a little saying popped up that became popular—YOLO: You only live once—a kind of distant blacksheep cousin to Carpe Diem—not just Seize the day: Live like it is your last, but above all and everyone else—live for yourself. Somehow I can’t get behind this sentiment, though we in Berry Queens can Carpe the heck out of the Diem—no problem. Life may be short–but I do not believe it is meant to be spent selfishly doing whatever you want, whenever you want. The richest moments of our lives are spent with others, doing for others—moments of selflessness in which we exhibit the give and take of loving others. You see—Love does. If you love something, someone: your community, your mother, your son, your husband, your friend—you do for them. In this act comes the feeling and the intent of what it means to really love. Love is a verb. It is constant. Love shows up—Love acts—Love does for others before self. That is what it truly means to love.
–Jerre Borland, Her Royal Highness Head Boss Queen of the Berry.

The 2015 Chamber of Commerce Banquet with Cathy M and Farrah T

The 2015 Chamber of Commerce Banquet with Cathy M and Farrah T

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Discover. Play. Build.

Ruth Ayres invites us the celebrate each week. Click over to her site Discover. Play. Build. to read more celebrations.

Last Saturday, New Iberia commemorated artist George Rodrigue with a day of festivities and a Christmas parade. George Rodrigue (1944-2013) is a well-known Louisiana artist who created the iconic “Blue Dog.” He grew up in New Iberia. The whole downtown is colored blue with blue lights and blue decorated windows. My Berry Queen sister, Cathy, made us matching blue dog poodle skirts to wear in the parade. We all word blue wigs. The streets were lined with festive parade-goers.

Blue Dog Berry Queens

Blue Dog Berry Queens

The Shadows always looks beautiful. Our final day of performance was Monday. My student Erin, dressed as Harriet Weeks, looks out dreamily to the gardens below.

Harriet surveys the Shadows

Harriet surveys the Shadows

I caught a nasty cold and spent Thursday afternoon on my soft sofa with Charlie at my side. Even though it took illness to get me there, I was grateful for the quiet time to watch the twinkling Christmas tree.

My view

My view

Jack, the lemur, became part of our origami Christmas popper making. Vannisa set up a “photo shoot” with him among the wrapping paper. Together we wrote a Christmas poem for you. Merry Christmas everyone! Celebrate!

Jack the lemur wishes you a very merry Christmas!

Jack the lemur wishes you a very merry Christmas!

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Discover. Play. Build.

Ruth Ayres invites us the celebrate each week. Click over to her site Discover. Play. Build. to read more celebrations.

Sugarcane tractor on display at school.

Sugarcane tractor on display at school.

It’s Sugarcane Festival, y’all! This is the annual celebration in New Iberia to open the harvest season. I love this season. The cane is getting tall. The air is getting cooler. And there are parades galore.

I am involved in The Berry Queens, so named because New Iberia is sometimes called “Da Berry.” Last night we inaugurated our very first Candy Toss Parade. About 30 golf carts were blinged up with lights, decorations, and shiny Berry Queens. What a fun time! Here are a few pictures.

Candy Toss parade

I’m still basking in the glory of the NCTE Donald Graves Award. My local paper did a feature article that appeared on the front page on Friday. I’ve had so many wonderful congrats from our community– The local parks director grabbed me in the parade, a neighbor yelled from his car while I was walking Charlie, and a longtime teacher friend came to my front door this morning. I am impressed by the number of people who are taking the time to read my essay. I have pretty strong convictions about the teaching of writing. I am humbled that my own beliefs are touching so many.

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Slice of Life Day 24.  Join the Two Writing Teachers Slice of Life Challenge.

Slice of Life Day 24. Join the Two Writing Teachers Slice of Life Challenge.

I am home exhausted and happy from a delightfully fun weekend with my fellow Berry Queens in Jackson, MS. for the Sweet Potato Queens Weekend. I am a Diva in the hierarchy of our membership in New Iberia. The Berry Queens (so named because the nickname for New Iberia is “The Berry”) have grown by leaps and bounds since I joined in its inaugural year, 2008. Now we are up to 100+ members. We were easily one of the largest groups at the SPQ weekend with 30 women.

On Friday, my friend Cathy and I dressed in black petticoats topped with golden tree skirts. (Cathy is so creatively clever.) We attended the Big Hat Brunch with hundreds of other women dressed in crazy costumes and big hats. After the brunch, we shopped around Fondren, an area in Jackson that has been revitalized as an arts community.

Cathy and I stop off at Brent's Drugs, a location used in the movie, The Help.

Cathy and I stop off at Brent’s Drugs, a location used in the movie, The Help.

One of the blessings of this weekend was going to the lake. My parents live north of Jackson near a lake, so the first few nights we stayed there. We had time to visit some with Mom and Dad and enjoy the peacefulness of the lake, totally different from the very crazy active time with the Sweet Potato Queens.

Friday night, Cathy and I became a spectacle downtown in our matching wigs. The buses for some unknown reason did not run from the hotel, so not many queens appeared for the Bouffants concert. Everyone around wanted to take pictures with us. We are probably all over Facebook on strangers’ pages. Even the Bouffants themselves noticed us and called us up during one of their songs. We felt famous!

Cathy, Lory, and me at the Bouffants concert.

Cathy, Lory, and me at the Bouffants concert.

On Saturday, I joined my fellow Berry Queens as we represented New Iberia in the RAD Color Run for Blair Batson Hospital. Here are a few of us squeezing into a hotel bathroom to put strawberry tattoos on our cheeks. I’m the one in the tutu.

tattoos for color run

The run was so much fun. I walked, of course, but while I did, I got to know two of our new members (known as virgins to the Sweet Potato Queens). At the end, I was covered with color and feeling great. The day was a glorious 70 degrees.

Saturday night was the big Zippity Doo Dah parade. I walked the 5K route again, and this time I was wearing a strawberry dress, a wig with light-up noodles, and boots. This time there was a huge crowd to throw beads and strawberry Tootsie Rolls to. What a blast!

A selfie with our Boss Queen Jerre at the parade.

A selfie with our Boss Queen Jerre at the parade.

Jill Connor Brown is the brilliant woman who created this whole kingdom of Queens. She believes in the inner beauty of every woman. She closed the weekend with a touching speech at the Bathrobe Brunch. Here she honored Vietnam Veterans for whom the parade was held. She shared stories of her childhood and had us all in tears when she talked about her friend who had gone off to the Vietnam war. She spoke of forgiveness and the need in all of us to forgive, not for the other person, but for ourselves. Jill Connor Brown is a hero. I thank her for creating a time for having just plain fun for the sake of fun, and for empowering us to be beautiful, inside and out.

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