My Favorite Teacher

As a child, my mother would read to me every day. Books were an essential part of my life from an early age, and Mama laid the foundation for my love of books. When I was about three years old, she started teaching me the alphabet, and I began writing those letters. By the time I was four years old, I was reading books independently.

One fun activity I enjoyed was our treasure hunts. It taught me some of my sight words. Go, to and the. Then my mother would draw objects from around the house with the word printed under her creations. My vocabulary grew as I learned the words: lamp, couch, mailbox, and so many more. Once I completed my activity, I would find a treat or barrette or hair ribbon for my treasure.

She taught me how to read with the Dick and Jane primer series as my vocabulary grew. I was so excited to show my dad that I could read Fun with Dick and Jane. As I progressed, so did my library. She always made sure that I had plenty of books to read. Some of my favorite childhood series included the Dr. Seuss books, Little House on the Prairie, Nancy Drew, and the Hardy Boys.

Looking back at that time, I fondly remember a busy mother taking time to ensure I had a good start on my educational journey. Without a doubt, my favorite teacher made learning exciting.  ‘

Photo Source:

A Snapshot of Mama

The young girl poses on a rocky ridge. She wears light-colored slacks and a button-up shirt. Her long brown hair is pulled back into braids. Sitting on the ledge with her dog, she holds onto Midge’s reins. She looks into the distance and smiles.

This picture is one of my favorite photos of my mother, Dotty Allen. I received this photo after she died, and I wish I could ask her questions. Where was the photo taken? On the family ranch? How old was she? My guess is around 12 or 13, so the year it was taken was about 1946 0r 1947. I wish I could ask her what her pup’s name was. And I wanted to know what she was looking at in the distance.

Although my mom and I often talked about her life, I still have so many questions. I wish she were still here to answer my queries and spin more yarns and tales about her life on the ranch.

Marie-Marguerite Dufrost de Lajemmerais: The Mother of Universal Charity

Margueritte d’Youville – Le Mémorial du Québec, 1918

All the wealth in the world cannot be compared with the happiness of living together happily united.

— Marie-Marguerite Dufrost de Lajemmerais – Saint Marie-Marguerite d’Youville

End of the Line: Madeline De Brie and Nicholas Mignault

Herman, Paul and Jean de Limbourg, October (detail with Louvre), from Les Très Riches Heures du Duc de Berry, 1413-16, ink on vellum (Musée Condé, Chantilly)

During the sixteenth century, the Renassaince arrived throughout the nations of Europe, and France celebrated in all of its glorious splendor. The French monarchs returned to the city, and Paris began to flourish. Henry IV ended the religious wars and his people enjoyed their new spiritual freedoms. New monarchies supported the arts and sciences, which influenced all the nations of Europe. Architectural wonders, monuments, and city parks abounded, and Parisians took pride in their lovely homeland.

The Cornerstone

Summer 1965 – Ann Marie, mother, Dotty, David and Tommy, Alameda, California

Often, recollections from days gone by take up residence in my thoughts as I remember my childhood. Days of warmth and fun-loving doings flow full circle. Yet, each innocent recollection eventually comes to rest on the woman that rendered care for her family, the loving matriarch of my family, my mother, Dotty Allen Reeder.

This woman gave me so much strength, hope, and courage. She taught me to laugh and rejoice at each extraordinary occurrence that took place in our lives. It was the simple things that found a home in my heart, words of encouragement, cuddles on the couch on rainy days or endless board games at the kitchen table. Or, it was summer tournaments of baseball and kickball with brothers and neighbors with mom in the middle of it all.

Always my closest confidant, we shared stories and laughter and silly gossip while doing kitchen chores or sharing a Dr. Pepper, her favorite soda, and now mine. She was the hub of our home, the very foundation that provided prudence and understanding on how to live in a world that was not always kind. She reminded everyone to find joy in each incredible moment and take nothing for granted. As my biggest cheerleader, the world sometimes feels so strange without her. Still, I find her in the shared stories with her granddaughter. I see her smile in my granddaughter, her kindness in my grandson, her ornery humor in another. Her legacy has continued and found residence in each generation that has followed; the cornerstone of our family still stands.

Fright Night, Mom Wisdom, and Family Traditions

“If The Exorcist doesn’t knock you out of your seat, it’s only because you are too stunned to move.”

Stanley Eichelbaum ~ The San Francisco Examiner ~ 26 Dec 1973

“Everybody in the movie experienced some kind of horror.  On the day Max von Sydow arrived for his first scene his brother died, and the film was again delayed while Von Sydow returned to Sweden for the funeral.  The little girl’s grandfather died the first week of the picture.  One of the carpenters cut his thumb off.  Irish actor Jack MacGowan who is murdered by the demon possessing the child, dropped dead one week after his death scene.”

Billy Friedkin ~ The Los Angeles Times ~ 18 Nov 1973