Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Slicing for A Friend

        I'm slicing with the Two Writing Teachers community today. It's been almost exactly a year since I posted here. I have years of fond memories on this site, have shared hilarity, experiences, and sadness here. I've made friends and sometimes met those friends in person! I've written in March with students and then after retirement, without, a kind of mourning to know that my teaching days had ended. I'm still reading and reviewing, sharing on Mondays and Wednesdays, and writing poetry as well as reading it, sharing that on Fridays. 
         This post is a return, perhaps not every Tuesday, but I have received several "asks" from a long-time slicer friend, Terje Akke, whom I'm sure you know, who blogs at Just For A Month. This is for my over-the-ocean friend.

          I've become quite immersed in a few things this year that take more time than I ever imagined: 
          Politics! Since the 2016 election, I have become involved more than ever before, writing letters, calling, donating where I can. I won't make this a huge diatribe in this post, but I am alarmed at the happenings in the past two years, and won't stop trying to make things better. 
         A Used Bookstore! I've been a customer at this bookstore for years, drove into the city from my home in the suburbs to visit it. I moved to my new home six years ago last December. Hard to believe it's been that long. A few years ago, after I retired from teaching middle school at an independent school for gifted children, I volunteered at the store. It is a non-profit, kind of like a coop, and run entirely by volunteers. We have a couple who are managers, but they too are volunteers! Super, right? Well, more and more time committed, and now I am on the board and the volunteer coordinator. Kind of like having another class, ha! I love working with all these people and each is as individual as my students were. It's lots of fun and oh my, the books! I try hard not to bring home some every week, but it is a challenge. I work a shift regularly, too, and love interacting with customers, helping them if they want it, but many, including the kids, just want to browse. I'm also in charge of the children's sections and that is a love that doesn't stop.

Monday, January 21, 2019

Monday - Reading Fun

           Visit Kellee and Ricki at UnleashingReaders and Jen at Teach Mentor Texts to see what they've been reading, along with everyone else who post their favorites. 

           I guess everyone will know the ALA reward results by the end of Monday next week. It is exciting to imagine what might wear those medals!
As we take this day to remember the important life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., I hope we all remember his words:
Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter. Let us step up and use our words for good as he did!

        I've loved Neal Shusterman's books before and loved this one, too, written with his son, Jarrod, although this time I liked it a bit less and possibly because it was too real, too close to home. I live in Colorado where we often wish for moisture. 
       This time the setting is a drought in southern California and the plot involves a group of teens who end up at the forefront of the struggle because, through events beyond their control, their parents cannot. There is what is called a "Tap-Out" when one day, turning the tap for a drink, nothing comes out. The entire water supply runs "Dry"!
        The stage is set, the players involve 16-year-old Alyssa Morrow and her little brother, Garrett, whose parents disappear because there is a possibility of getting water from the new ocean machines. Their neighbor Kelton McCracken was born into a survivalist family, well-prepared, but their protected home is not so safe when desperate neighbors come to call in a group (a mob)? Kelton has assumed leadership here when he sees the need also to help Alyssa and Garrett. 
        Kelton leads Alyssa and Garrett to find their parents, end up in a heart-stopping situation, is saved by a street teen who joins the group. One more new teen joins in later on this dangerous trek to safety and water (Kelton's family's 'bug-out', a hide-out in the mountains). The book is interrupted once in a while by “snapshots” of perspectives outside the main plot while tension rises with some in the group wanting the power, and some wishing they were anywhere else, but have nowhere to go. A range of experiences with other people who are surviving and take chances in very different ways occurs, too, sometimes with alarming consequences. Descriptions of those near to becoming "water zombies" horrify, and acts of kindness feel very good indeed. It feels very close to our future in some areas. Great book, but often scary. First one in my #mustreadin2019 list!

          Thanks to Candlewick, I had fun reading this book out this month! Main characters Prince Veera and his companion, Suku, a farmer's son who won a contest to become educated at the palace, are center stage in these delightful 'trickster' tales from India. They sometimes take over Veera's father, King Bheema's court where they hear complaints from the commoners and try to solve the problems and/or conflicts. And at other times they discover problems out in the market, even helping Suku's Aunt Chandra. The different problems will be fun to read aloud to see if students can figure out how to solve them as Prince Veera and Suku do. And the cultural names and experiences with new foods and ways of living add to the interest. I enjoyed the stories. Originally published as two smaller books, now out in this one collection.

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Poetry Friday - for Mary Oliver

          Tricia at The Miss Rumphius Effect is hosting this week! Thank you, Tricia for the loving words from you for Mary Oliver!

        Today I heard the sad news of the passing of Mary Oliver. Through many years she taught me to look out at nature in new ways, her words a mentor for me while trying to pass her lessons on to students, too, as we traveled to wonderful places together and to teach myself new ways to see. I do have many favorite poems, but marked one passage a couple of years ago to remember, in prose, from her 2016 book, Upstream. It feels apt to share it with all of you this day.

    After observations by her pond of a fox feeding on an old frozen raccoon: 

     "And now my old dog is dead, and another I had after him, and my parents are dead, and that first world, that old house, is sold and lost, and the books I gathered there lost, or sold--but more books bought, and in another place, board by board and stone by stone, like a house, a true life built, and all because I was steadfast about one or two things: loving foxes, and poems, the blank piece of paper, and my own energy--and mostly the shimmering shoulders of the world that shrug carelessly over the fate of any individual that they may, the better, keep the Niles and the Amazons slowing.
      And that I did not give to anyone the responsibility for my life. It is mine. I made it. And can do what I want to with it. Live it. Give it back, someday, without bitterness, to the wild and weedy dunes." (p. 21,22)
      Thinking of Mary Oliver as I took an evening walk this Thursday, grateful for the gifts she gave to the world from her life .