pens or pins? that is the question...

What's one to do when the heart and hands enjoy words and fabric, the pattern of paragraphs and quilts to an equal enthusiasm? To solve my dilemma I'm writing the print that stirs me and sharing the journey of blending fabrics into quilts and wearables, the discovery of old--be it quilts or friends, and the pleasures of today. Come...have a visit with me.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

School time, school time!

School memories --great classrooms, both big and small
                  I love the beginning of school. Seems a bit strange to think of this late summer season in that reference, as years have gone by since I went to school. Even years have gone by since my daughter went to school. BUT, some of my fondest long term memories include the calendar of back to school. I love thinking about the season of fall, football games, a scheduled routine and always, the adventure of books, learning and friends.

Post college I continued my beginning of school routine by teaching school. The schedule of school days, learning names and first assignments always fit my step. In those early teaching years, I lived in Lubbock, only blocks away from Texas Tech. Every early fall afternoon the band music echoed to my house and put my feet and heart in step. I thrived in hearing their beat and sound practice for the weekend football half-time performance. I loved and still love, the sound of "back-to-school" band music.

Another favorite school memory involved clothing to match the newness of the occasion--always something new to wear on the first school day.  Mom would sew or buy something that made my sister and me feel special. Often it seems new shoes were part of the outfit. High school memories recall a certain sock style, always white. We called the sock a crew sock and it had to be worn with a Weejun loafer (a style of penny loafer; we thought it cool to NOT put a penny in each shoe.) Nothing less; nothing more.

Always a new dress--which color??

I carried the tradition forward. As a young mom I always sewed a new "back to school" dress for Lis. I tried to match the theme of her interest (Big Bird, favorite color or twirl-ly skirt (big and full). I always wanted her to feel proud and look adorable (and I brag, she did.) Later the custom sewn dresses were replaced with brand name jeans and small embroidered icons (of course, only certain ones) on shirts, purses and watches. Our budget often allowed for "only one", but one seemed satisfactory. The one of a name brand satisfied the ego.

Thanks mom, for buying extra paper.

And the school supply aisle still stops me. I remember looking at the spiral notebooks in question "do I want red or the one with the fancy lettering on the cover?"  In my day new pencils and ball point pens gave expected status to that first day of school.  We wrote with red, yellow or blue #2's. If we really landed "cool", we had preordered pencils from Lillian Vernon with our name on each pencil. And I loved the zippered pencil pouches that fit inside the notebooks. Ball point pens? Clear plastic with the ink color showing visibly and of course, the pen must retract.

Now, as I view the pencils, it seems the style is the retractable--guess time even changes pencils. And the pens--choices are endless. Fine, extra fine, two tips on one pen, colors, gels, erasable and... Beyond my childhood pencil and pen dreams.

My favorite 3 ring notebook had to look like denim (no vinyl for me) and dividers? Oh, what fun to make a special title page for each subject--even Latin or Algebra. It felt so organized, so important. Lined paper was always on sale and I remember mom saying, "let's get several packages--you'll use it before years end." Wow! the newness, the smells, the efficiency--it all spoke to me.

And, do you, like I, remember learning our favorite or dreaded teacher lineup and the home room assignment of designated hall locker location? I always wanted a "top" locker, not one that required finding books, etc. by bending over. In my day a locker was just that, a storage space. Now locker accessories from mirrors to locked "safes" are some of the options. My, how time changes all.

And covering our books was a big thing. After the first day of class I remember toting a stack of books home and making "covers" for each book from grocery sacks. It was important to turn all of the advertising print to the inside. (and a book cover expert knew how to turn the covers without scotch tape to hold them tight-dad was very good at this task) True "high school status" was achieved when books displayed only brown sack stock showing. As the semester weeks passed we doodled our boyfriends names or our special monograms on the covers (sure that no one would "really" notice) and by semester end, tired covers had holes in the corners and  fuzzy worn spines. They had served us well. And, in this week's review of school supplies I spotted "3 for $2.00" stretchy book covers. time changes....

And the carpool. My childhood didn't have such; we walked or were driven by mom. But I remember big preparation in organizing Lis's carpool. We (all the moms) wanted just the right number of girls, personalities that would mesh, co-moms that would be on time and not run late and of course were "responsible." Big, big planning, all before cell phones; seat belts were still in their infancy. I don't remember my carpool kids wearing them.

Back to school again? I quiz. For me, I still have to find the way. I recently wrote of my trek to Alpine to the Texas League of Writers workshops, one week of study on Sul Ross Campus. And it was great. I wrote, I read and I studied until I dropped. My psychic demands this routine at least once a year. I reminisce about going to school again, being a full time student, even a degree--this time in journalism.

But for now, the next great realistic school experience...

SUE SPARGO brings Folk Art to Texas!

Quilting Adventures short week of study with Sue Spargo--folk artist extraordinaire. I can't wait. Sue is coming from Ohio and for four days she will guide her students through the primitive styles she does best. Check her out at QA:  
Sue's workshop is one of three weeks Quilting Adventures offers with the BEST quilting and art instructors around. What a dream to study each week! And like our childhood memories--our after school dinner is cooked for us!

Happy learning,


And I love to share:
My favorite read this week: Writing Creative Non-Fiction, 2001.
                                          Theodore A.Rees Cheney, Ten Speed Press

Great writing and GREAT inspirational examples. I'm pleased I found this book--Amazon.

My favorite scripture study: I Samuel 1,2 and following.

Hannah's story (she is the mother of Samuel). A woman's story --to touch every woman's heart.


  1. Love your walk down Memory school lane!...It would be fun to have about 10 girlfriends write their school memories... I remember in the first grade it had been raining and the teacher told everyone NOT to go on the playground and get in the mud! Well, we probably wouldn't have even thought of it if she hadn't given us that great suggestion. BUT-- I and a few others disobeyed and our punishment was to have our hands bent backwards and several lashes applied with a stiff ruler...
    Awe--the good memories of first grade.....Your sis...Fran

  2. Alice, your post was wonderful and brought back many memories from both my school days and those of my children....AND...believe it or not, I still have a pair of weejuns....somewhere in the back of my closet...somethings are hard to part with...and No pennies!
    Thanks for sharing this wonderful trip down memory lane..
    Hugs, Judy

  3. Great post! Brought back lots of memories and many were the same as yours. Back to school time IS exciting and I could even feel the excitement in the "driving to work" traffic last week on the first day of school. It is a fresh start feeling that I like to be a part of even if it means just taking our little grandsons to buy new lunch boxes. Took at least 30 minutes to decide on Thomas, Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader. Big decisions!
    Thanks for the good read.
    Blessings, Suzanne