“What was I scared of?”

Dr. Seuss

Sharon Stevens


Our carton of milk outdated today, June 12, 2013.

That doesn’t mean it needs to gurgle down the garbage disposal drain. This just means if I leave it in the refrigerator for another day or two the milk may sour, spoil, decay, or become odoriferous. I don’t know about you but spoiled milk is not palatable on any level, not even for cooking.

The outdate occurred on the same day I read in the Amarillo Globe News that this was the anniversary of the birthday of Anne Frank. But more lovely than that was the mention of this day in history that it was the time Anne received her diary, really an autograph book, on her thirteenth birthday in 1942. Her very first writing…“ I hope I will be able to confide everything to you, as I have never been able to confide in anyone, and I hope you will be a great source of comfort and support.”

The day my milk outdated also coincided with the funeral of Mary Huntington. Mrs. Huntington was the librarian at the old Canyon Public Library for so many years. She is the one who kept the library going when others felt it needed to be closed. Also she, with the help of her volunteers and co-workers transferred and adapted all the codes from the Dewey Decimal system to switch to the computer database for the Harrington Consortium. She also volunteered at her daughter’s elementary class to help the kids with their reading, and the whole family pitched in and taught the children chess.

Mary meant more to me than anyone can ever know! When our girls were small I would take them into the library every week and we would check out a mountain of books to read at home. I told Mary that I was a failure as a mother as I just couldn’t seem to read Dr. Seuss. So even though I didn’t discourage the girls from checking out his books I didn’t encourage them either. She was such a tiny, mild mannered, little munchkin, and she looked at me sweetly and kindly and told me. “It’s because you are trying to READ Dr. Seuss”. Then she went on to explain that Seuss is not one you can read. She encouraged me to enjoy, and sing, and use expression and it will all come together. It worked and I have loved this man and MOST of his writings ever since.

As I pour out my milk and replace it with a new carton in the refrigerator I will remember Anne Frank and Mary Huntington. And I don’t mean this in a bad way or any disrespect. Quite the opposite. I know this is a lousy way to express endearment, but please bear with me. Milk, fruits, vegetables, dip, canned goods, etc. will always carry an expiration date of a time that will end. Nothing can last forever that we put in our bodies. Our brain, bones, and organs need sustenance that will separate what we put in our mouths to what can be broken down and used for fuel.

Books are different. Once they are written they NEVER expire. The stories they carry will last forever and never get old, a tangible expression of so many letters chained to words, connecting to sentences, linking to thoughts. They can be read over and over, and then read again. Books can be shared and dissected, treasured or argued, once and again.

Isn’t that a lovely sentiment? Timeless. Everlasting. Forever. Never a death, never an expiration date. Heart and soul always intact. Never spoiled, never soured. Right there on the page in front of me. What treasures, what a gift!

The only problem is, so many books, so little time. I’m the one with the expiration date.




by Sharon Stevens

 “You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes.

 You can steer yourself in any direction you choose.

You’re on your own.
And you know what you know.

You are the guy who’ll decide where to go.”

 “Oh The Places You’ll Go”

                                                              Dr. Seuss

When our daughters were small I took them to the Canyon Public Library for storytelling every week. What an adventure it was to hear the stories and share the activities. As a young mother, (young is such a relative word), I had thirty minutes of peace to browse through the library as they were picking out their books.
We read every night, every naptime, and throughout the day. To me reading is such a treasure. In fact our girls tell me that this is one of their most precious memories growing up.
Everything was glorious in our little world. That is until they brought a Dr. Seuss book home. Try as I might I could not read his books aloud or even to myself. No matter which one it was I couldn’t make heads or tails of the way the sentences were supposed to go. I never admitted it to the girls and I still let them check his books out, but I just couldn’t make it make sense.
The next week at storytelling I admitted to Mary Huntington, the librarian, that I just couldn’t read his books to the kids.
She looked at me sweetly and kindly and said the words I carry with me to this day.
“You are trying to READ his stories and with Dr. Seuss you don’t read them, but let them take you where you need to go.”
Of course! Something so simple!
From then on I relished his stories and celebrated his gift. Seuss could take any word and pair it with another word and make it sing and dance to celebrate life, or the life of whatever creatures he conjured up in his imagination. Thing One and Thing Two come to mind.
I admit I still have troubles with the behavior of “The Cat in the Hat”, and can barely stomach “Green Eggs and Ham” as well. Nevertheless I love, “Horton Hears A Who” and “How The Grinch Stole Christmas”. And I can’t wait to see “The Lorax” on the big screen at the Varsity Theater in Canyon, Texas.
Thank goodness I never let on to my girls my struggles, and they enjoy Dr. Seuss to this day. In fact our daughter, Andrea Keller, will Skype with her classroom at Sally Elliott Elementary school together with Dyane Smokorowski in Kansas  for a worldwide celebration of his birthday March 2, 2012. What fun!
One of Dr. Seuss’ favorite quotes is: “Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.” I think admitting to Mary Huntington about my struggles helped me to understand one of my dilemmas in writing up to that point. Since then I have taken HER words to heart. We don’t have to be poets or make our work rhyme. Of course it should make some sort of sense, but not in the fashion of fitting a square peg into a round hole.
So many times as writers we try to make our words fit into the mold we have pictured in our minds. If we would just step back and let our story find the rhythm on its own, taking a leap of faith, never doubting that the next step will be there beneath our feet…in our shoes.
In that way our READERS will treasure when they READ our writing.
“Oh The Places You’ll Go”!
Sharon Stevens