Tuesday, May 31, 2011
Monday, May 30, 2011
Rambling Thoughts During This Mini Vacation
Sunday, May 29, 2011
Yesterday was my brother's birthday. We live far away, so I sent a card and a gift, and we called him last night. He is my only sibling, and special to me. We're looking forward to a long visit this summer when we return to my home state. He, his wife, my husband and I love to travel the back roads, looking for terrific little cafes, general stores, and antique shops. It's just fun to be together and I wish we were closer, but glad we do spend time together as much as possible. A poem for Jim,
My Little Brother
Thursday, May 26, 2011
Wednesday, May 25, 2011
Tuesday, May 24, 2011
Monday, May 23, 2011
It Depends On What You See
Sunday, May 22, 2011
Saturday, May 21, 2011
When Grandchildren Come To Play
Friday, May 20, 2011
I've written earlier about my collection of poems that say goodbye, and as we are now living the final days of this school year, I've written another goodbye poem. This time, all but two of the students I have had in my classroom will be leaving, moving on to high school. They are special because they hold a place as part of the group of students in my last classroom, and so it's time again to say goodbye.
Thursday, May 19, 2011
My daughter is pregnant with her second child now-due in August, has a two year old, works a challenging full time job, and sounds tired lately. She lives near, but mostly we talk on the phone in the evenings. I have thought back to the taking care of children when I was a mom with the kids still here, and some of the care given when they were ill. When our adult children are ill, or just tired, we can't do those things we used to do, at least very much. I've written a poem that tried to capture one of those moments.
How To Comfort A Sick Daughter
How to comfort
a daughter out of sorts:
Offer hug immediately,
then bring the thermometer, and
perhaps a cold cloth.
Finally, ice water and saltines,
the blue and white afghan
and of course
Close the blinds;
begin the Mozart - quietly.
Start boiling the water
Write a quick note that says
I love you,
but in French.
Give one more hug
and leave the room.
(She needs the rest!)
Wednesday, May 18, 2011
Writing each day gives pause to think about all the writers whose words enthrall me, and whose words daunt, yet inspire too. Sometimes I can't quite see how the writers keep on. It's hard work!
Tuesday, May 17, 2011
Monday, May 16, 2011
Closing in on night and that time before full dark is a magical time. I remember hide and seek games during the time when it was just a little bit scary because shadows were deeper and times when I could sit on the porch, lazily listening to the grown-ups talk as we all finished our days. Some of this feeling is captured in the movie To Kill A Mockingbird, that sweet, sweet time before being called home after having such adventures with the neighbor kids after supper. So I wrote about it, but just a little poem. It hopefully will bring more specific personal memories of that time to those who read it.
Sunday, May 15, 2011
My daughter wants to build a teepee for her daughter, Ingrid, to play in this summer, so they both arrived at our house with poles and ideas. Unfortunately, the weather turned rainy and cold, so we stayed indoors and had a great visit, watching Ingrid play and talking about the coming summer, along with teepee ideas. We found a pattern that looked good on Amazon, and ordered it; ate tamales that I bought at the farmer's market earlier in the morning, and just had a lazy day, not exactly as anticipated, but maybe what we needed. My two year old granddaughter is a busy girl, sweet and delightful. It is such fun to see her that I often wish they lived down the block and not so far away (30 minutes into the city). When she is here, no other priorities exist; she is here.
Friday, May 13, 2011
Rare rainy day I treasure, so
I pull the quilt closer, and
relax into my thoughts.
In my mind’s eye of a
a favorite part of my life.
With all its complexities,
a gathering of wood pulp,
the binding of paper,
hard, then soft, then hard.
The difference lies in
gathered and arranged
experiences in life—
to inform, to persuade, to entertain.
I speak in awe of
these written words,
Wednesday, May 11, 2011
May 11, 2011
When we gaze across the months, we see that some seem
more dutiful to the seasons than others. My vote goes often
to October as the favorite, holding minutes of dreams
of summer weather, then hinting at times of winter
with cooler nights. It glories in the final blast
of color from the summer gardens, and the leaves who’ve
lost their springtime green turn now to loss, yet hold fast
with their goodbyes in oranges, reds and yellows.
October carries us on the coaster ride from warm to cold
Winding down to Halloween, the holiday of old.
Tuesday, May 10, 2011
May 10, 2011
a recent book I loved
As a classroom teacher and as a literacy coach, I read so many books to find new ideas to share that will enhance our literacy program. I search for books for specific individuals and groups, mentor texts for writing workshop, and read-alouds to share special content and find new ways to see others’ lives as well as our own. The ideas presented in the books also promote rich discussions, in whole classes or small groups. Books form a spine of the school’s curriculum, and it seems important not only to find the new authors who are exploring new ways to communicate through print—like the recent explosion of graphic novels—as well as to review books that have been in print a while, even a long while, to access their value. This time, it’s a new book I’d like to recommend.
Published last fall, and lately awarded the Jane Addams Children’s Book Award for older readers, A Long Walk To Water, by Linda Sue Park, fills several goals mentioned above, and I liked it so much that I wanted to share about it in this Tuesday’s slice. It is a recent read and I loved it, was inspired by it, and hope you will be, too.
The book is based on the true story of Salva Dut, a Sudanese refugee who fled his home village at the age of eleven because of war. Salva became one of the ‘Lost Boys of Sudan‘, immigrating to the U.S. in the 1990s. He is the inspiration and the founder of Water for Sudan. In the book, Park switches viewpoints and stories between the boy Salva who in 1985 was forced to flee his home after his village was attacked and a girl from 2008 contemporary Sudan who walks eight hours each day to get water for her family. The changing viewpoints across the years create interest in the story, and begin with the two children 23 years apart, but slowly, as the book progresses, brings them together. Park weaves a difficult and complicated story well, crossing the divide of 23 years in a clear (but uncomplicated) style.
There are several ways I might share this book in the classroom:
o As a book group, with a study of unique ways of telling true stories as historical fiction.
o As a read aloud that will include many discussions of other ways of living, in challenging circumstances, but without giving up. Discussion of personal traits, like persistence through adversity and determination to reach one’s goal comprises the ‘other’ curriculum that teachers cover for our students.
o Also, a class might be embarking on a search for a service project, and reading this story together could inspire students to see needs that they might not have understood before.
o As a book goal for a particular student (or group) that might be reading and studying different ways of living, including challenges, attempting to figure out the characters’ source of strength and determination. As one reads the book, a consistent question underlying the story is ‘how do they manage?’ or “how do they keep going, accepting the responsibility over and over?”
It’s wonderful to find a new book to add to my collection of books to use in the classroom and of course, I am always searching for more!
Sunday, May 8, 2011
Clothing Advice Overheard on Mother’s Day
(from Mothers Probably)
I know that this is something you’d like to avoid, kid,
but let’s not skirt around the issue.
Be sure you take care of your money, honey,
and certainly don’t lose your shirt.
When you prepare for a job interview, dear,
You should go dressed to the nines.
If you want friends around to support you, sweetie,
don’t ever be a turncoat in your group.
When asked, be sure to grab your coat,
and get your hat, dear, leaving the worries on the doorstep
It’s really great that you think for yourself, lovey,
I don’t want you tied to my apron strings.
And be sure that if you get upset with anyone,
That you won’t get shirty with me!
But in all, when I think about you as my child,
I know that I’ll always take off my hat to you.
Saturday, May 7, 2011
I am on a mission, like all moms, straightening, dusting, attacking those
mundane tasks of housekeeping. As I move into the kitchen,
I glance at the clock and the numbers blink:
often 1:11, sometimes 2:22, or 3:33, 4:44, and 5:55.
They occur twice a day, of course, and in one half, I’m usually asleep.
But even then, sometimes I wake, and there they are: 1:11, 2:22, etc.
I notice them often enough to make me superstitious.
My mother believed in numerology,
and that when one noticed the numbers repeating,
it was loved ones in heaven, looking down, making a connection,
and letting you know that they were watching over you.
Of course, in reality, this seems a bit silly, because
the important parts of my mother are in me, and need no care.
Just like poetry is in me, she wrote her beliefs into my being.
The beliefs sit with me sometimes, just as my mother did so often,
dialoging about a dilemma, a challenge, a victory.
Sometimes it seems to be the time when I look at the clock,
and 4:44 appears, making it easy to remember:
Be kind, make lemonade out of lemons, always try to do things better
than the last time, and always, always go the extra mile.
Still, in lieu of the real thing, I like the numbers, a little visit
from my mother.
Thursday, May 5, 2011
Considering The Meaning Of Stanza
Stanza means ‘room’ in Italian.
It’s a good thing because there are so many rooms
from which we write our lives (or deaths).
There is the living room, where lives are lived
or lost, yet in recent years no one who has died has a night there,
but often spends that last, earthly time in some cold other place,
missing out on the final conversations about his or her life.
The room with a view if you can afford it offers a chance for good talk
now and then. “Look, the sky has darkened to ready for the rain,” or
“the ocean seems particularly calm today” and
“you can see the mountains so clearly today; aren’t they gorgeous?”
Another room to consider is the bathroom where drama
can unfold, much that involves the slamming of doors and locking
oneself in, most especially if one is a teenaged girl. And then we notice
the bedroom, also high drama, especially early in a relationship,
or not so much if the fight has occurred, and then this room houses
lonely bedcovers and quiet, not the good kind, but the thick kind.
I like to think that the music room is one where quiet is welcomed until
cymbals crash, drums roll, and violins play until the tears flow. Here also voices
can scream, especially when the other kind of music enters the room, like rock ‘n roll.
In past times, the rec room was filled with box TV’s, ping-pong tables and bowls
of popcorn. Families who valued each other enjoyed recreation time with each other,
and even invited others in on occasion for a night of Monopoly and mixed drinks.
In some houses there is a sunroom, a delightful space with wicker and plants
and quilted cushions. Sweet tea is served, with cucumber sandwiches and tiny cakes.
Men don’t often appear.
The laundry room becomes a contented space where housewives
think themselves lucky to have moved into the Maytag brand of their lives,
And they spray and press and hang sweet-smelling clothes on the rack,
ready to carry to the bedrooms. This room plays second fiddle to the
other workroom of the house, that doesn’t even earn the name of ‘something’ room,
but its own designation, the kitchen, from the ancient German, kocina. This is the
room, the best room, one that nourishes more than the body and could easily be
called the home room. This is where lives play in and out, with fights and hugs and kisses
to show love and hate and shear wonderment at the goings-on in this room. It is where gifts
are given through measurement, mixing, and (today) microwaving,
and also received with gratitude for the gestures made.
How can I write a poem with a stanza or two, when there is so much to say?