Books that speak to my heart.
John and I laugh often in our home. His sense of humor is one of the things I love most about him. And I do think a bit rubbed off on me as I find that I can come up with some good one liners that I don’t know if I would had I not been married to John all these years.
John is usually up before me every morning. But it’s usually not long afterwards, that I shuffle in my slippers into the kitchen to find John making a pot of coffee. Such was the case this past Saturday.
John said quite seriously, “I’m concerned about the chicken.”
I had taken out a whole, frozen chicken out of the freezer the evening before around 8pm and put it in a large bowl of cold water.
At first I was a bit annoyed that John was questioning my “thawing” skills. I really thought it would be okay.
But John said the chicken was warm to the touch.
And I was then more upset with myself for having just wasted a whole, organic chicken that was supposed to be for dinner. Though I did still question if it would be okay to eat. But it wasn’t worth taking the risk.
But then I giggled thinking back to the seriousness of John’s tone when he stated he was concerned about the chicken.
I said that it sounded like we were talking about a live chicken. So I decided to name the chicken Chuck.
John said, “Should I pick up another chicken at Miesfeld’s?” (a local butcher shop in our area).
“Fine,” I said. “But it’s your turn to take Chuck to work. He has not been behaving around here lately and I don’t think I can take another day of his antics.”
And so the rest of the day we had an imaginary chicken named Chuck who became our muse for the day. The muse that diffused what could have been a heated discussion of me feeling inadequate and John, really, just trying to help.
I thought back to our earlier years of marriage and how I would have taken this so personally and the whole day would have been ruined.
But one thing (among many!) I’ve gained from this marriage with John is to not take things so seriously. That laughter really is good medicine, good for the soul, and good for a marriage.
And yes, I know, Chuck is really a male name which would make him a rooster…but remember this is all imaginary! 🙂
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I got the call late last year. A call from my friend Jodee, who is a principal at Fair Park Elementary School in West Bend.
She asked if I’d consider coming to her school for an author visit. We’ve known each other for many years having met because of our love of dogs. She also knew I’d not done any school visits since Frankie passed away (with the exception of one I’d done with Joie).
I wasn’t sure at first. But the more we talked, the more I wanted to give it a shot. This time, yes, would be different without Frankie. But I was excited about encouraging kids to read and write, which would be the main focus of my visit.
Putting a new presentation together came together quite well with the help of questions the students prepared and Kindergarten teacher, Mrs. Wilberg sent to me ahead of time. I found pictures to go with my presentation that I put into a PowerPoint presentation and practiced to my audience of one — Miss Gidget. I hoped her snoring wasn’t an indication that my presentation would put the kids to sleep!
But the big day finally arrived this past Thursday. I couldn’t sleep the night before excited and nervous all at the same time.
Arriving at school around 9:30am I was greeted by fourth graders, Maddie and Justin who handed me a welcome basket of items I might need for the day. Bottles of water, chocolate, a breakfast bar, a pen, and a pad of paper with dogs on it.
Maddie and Justin were wonderful hosts as they showed me around their school pointing out key areas such as the teachers lounge where I would be having lunch with the staff and the gym where I’d be doing my presentation.
Justin took his host responsibility very seriously and made sure I understood where his classroom was in the event I had further questions once my tour was done.
After the tour, standing near the entrance of the school, I looked down the hallway to see a tall, blond woman waving her hands frantically and running toward me. It was Mrs. Wilberg who had been my main contact as we planned the visit. She ran up to me and we hugged each other. By now we really felt like we had come to know each other.
Then I had a brief break in the principal’s office until it was time to set up for my first presentation for the K-2nd grade students.
Everything was orchestrated to perfection. As the students began filing into the gym a video of dogs played on the large screen with a song about dogs being our best friends. I found myself getting a bit teary-eyed– but it was all good.
And then how my heart overflowed when the MAPS singers performed a song the music teacher had written just for my visit. It was in part “How Much is that Doggie in the Window” with two verses about how special dachshunds are. She will be sending me a recording of the song and I’ll be sure to share it here when I get it.
Jodee (err, I mean Mrs. Stahmer) then introduced me and the floor was then all mine.
And it all came back to me… like riding a horse… and away I went into my presentation.
I talked about how important reading and writing are, my struggles and triumphs as a writer, what success means to me, and touched on the themes of empathy, determination, visualizing an idea, and persevering.
And the one thing that surprised me was how the kids responded to seeing pictures of my writing cottage. They ooo’d and ahhhh’d! They really thought it was cool–and I was tickled they got so much out of seeing where I write.
Followed by my presentation was signing books some of the students had purchased and photos, too.
Walking the hallway to the teachers lounge afterwards, the 3rd and 4th graders were heading to lunch. And how sweet it was when they started to wave and call out my name — Mrs. Techel! It felt like a huge, warm, blanket of love wrapped around me.
The teachers out did themselves welcoming me to their school home with a lunch spread that blew me away! Fruit plates, veggies and dip, puppy chow in two different flavors, doggie shaped cookies, beans, and last, but not least in one bit…. giant sized hot dogs!
One of the teachers was even dressed in dog pajama’s! She was adorable (you can see her on the far right in the photo below). And I’m sure she’d want you to know that she wasn’t the only one in jammie’s — it was pajama day for her whole classroom.
In the afternoon I talked with the 3rd and 4th graders. One young boy, before the presentation, came up to me telling me how much he loved my books. I thanked him and as I did, he sheepishly walked closer, then opening his arms wide he enthusiastically hugged me around the waist.
I just have to say that this was truly an authors dream visit! Mrs. Wilberg and her team did an amazing job with every fine detail and making me feel so welcome.
It is a day I will always remember with fondness and much love. Thank you, Fair Park Elementary!
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