Thursday, June 30, 2011

A Favorite Relative - A Summer Gift

June 30, 2011

       I've been trying to remember events in summers while growing up because I just read some ideas that suggested writing about specific seasons in order to connect the moments more readily.  I'm also interested in prose poems, that directly hone in on one small topic.  Here is my prose poem about a favorite uncle:

                                                        Summer Gift

       When I was a young teen, my Uncle Caryl, whose family lived across the street from mine, took the time early in the morning before he went to work to play tennis with me.  It was a chance I would not miss.  I was quite willing to rise before the sun to beat the heat, grab toast and juice, and tiptoe out my door by five am.   The last year we played, my uncle’s own children, my cousins, were getting older and taking more of his time, so we played less frequently.  It made me sad to miss that time with him, but I too was growing up, and spending more time with friends.  I still remember the cool of the mornings, the drive to the courts with few on the streets, and the thwack of the ball against the rackets.  My uncle gave me a gift those years; I love him for it.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Our Little Place In The Woods

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

the meadow in front of the cabin, looking toward the creek

the cabin-entrances are at either end

     We have a small cabin in the Rocky Mountains.  We went there many times in the summer when our kids were little, and have memories of such fun times there with family and another family that went with us often.  The kids built (or tried to build) dams in the creek, we played softball in the meadow, and went bouldering at nearby rock formations.   We don't go as often anymore.  Life seems to get so busy, so my husband and I only go when we have a day or two, to clean a little bit, hike some of the trails around the cabin, and relax.  Yesterday was no different.  We raked needles from the cabin's perimeter because of fire danger, and swept the cabin of evidence of the mice who use it as their own home when we're not around.  One time we found the home of a packrat in the outhouse, who had filled much of it with his 'discoveries', but that's another story.  This time I walked around and about taking pictures of some of the wildflowers growing near.  They are so lovely, seem tough even with little moisture, offering up their blooms with pride.  Here are some of the pics, with one of the cabin and my husband waving hello and of our meadow.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Trip Snapshots

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Snapshots of Our Trip’s Tradition

      When we’ve taken trips with our grandson, we have often developed a routine, usually according to a place we’re visiting, and what’s available nearby for the evening activities.  For example, last year, on the Oregon beach, we were near only one small town, so ended up visiting a variety of small towns in the area, eating the catch of the day for lunch, and spending quite a bit of time watching boats at the docks.  It was a prime interest for an eight year old to see what the sailors were up to.  There were other daily things, like finding each town’s best ice cream cone, and building a fire in the cabin fireplace each night, & having s-mores.  (It’s cold in Oregon, even in July!)

            This year of course, we flew the other way, to the Gulf in Florida, and shared different experiences, always close to our place on Sanibel Island.  As I wrote in the two previous posts, most of this time was spent watching animals and playing in or by the ocean.  We chose outdoor activities like visiting a nearby refuge, learning about an animal rehab hospital, and taking a sunset cruise on a bay – hoping to see dolphins and manatees, and we did!  This trip’s tradition ended as a simple, but grand one, one we looked forward to every day after the first evening.  We ended each day down on the beach to swim one more time, to play a little more in the sand, to look for one last good shell, and to watch and photograph the sunset.  This was the time of day we saw more people than any other time.  There were never many people, but more were there in the evenings to see this spectacular vision of the sun.  It was like being at a fireworks display on Independence Day, lots of ohs and ahs.   Each night the sky offered a particular different look to the sun, and we began to try to describe what was happening, as in ‘the clouds above are shading it enough that it looks hazy’ or ‘the wind earlier cleared the air, so it’s pure sun tonight’.  It became like little poems and I now wish I had written them down.  However, I did manage a good photo each night.

          One definition of the word ‘serendipity’ is “The occurrence and development of events by chance in a happy or beneficial way.”   I love how our trips seem to fall around us, delighting us with the usual because we are really noticing this time; and holding us in the particular place, a little group of three experiencing a small part of our world.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

New Adventures - Poetically

Sunday, June 26, 2011

         In a Friday Poetry post, April Halprin Wayland showed a new poetry form called a trimeric.  Click on trimeric to see the post.  I thought it might be fun to capture parts of our trip with our grandson in a different way.  

                         I Watched My Grandson

      “We’re off to new adventures”, I shouted, and
     my husband and my grandson said,
     ‘We’re in!”
     So we flew to Florida, depositing ourselves on an island.

     My husband and my grandson said,
     “Let’s try out those new boogie boards.”
     Then, well-covered with sunscreen, we splashed and laughed ourselves silly.

     “We’re in!”  came the words for cruising Tarpon Bay.
     Amazing birds flew around us at sunset, while within our view
     swam dolphins and manatees.  It’s for precious moments

     that we flew to Florida, depositing ourselves on an island.
     I watched my grandson, already growing
     tall enough to meet my eye.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Some Great Learning On Our Trip

Saturday, June 25, 2011

An osprey on one of our walks in a refuge.

I’m not going to tell about every single place we visited on Sanibel Island, but one really interesting place that was special was CROW (The Center for The Rehabilitation of Wildlife).  The visitor’s center seemed new, and the displays of the different animals’ stories of rescue and rehab were well-done & sometimes so poignant.  One common tragedy for animals on the coast is to be caught up in fishing line that’s been abandoned in the ocean.  There were several cases shown, like a raccoon whose paw was almost lost because of a line wrapped around it.  If people on the island find any kind of animal that is in need, they are to call CROW, & one of the many volunteers come to pick it up, to transport it to the hospital for treatment.  One of the presenters (see below) was one of those transporter volunteers, and she showed photos of a raccoon rescue she did.  They have special equipment to capture the wild (and scared) animals, including safe boxes that hold the animal in a confined space so it won’t move around uncontrollably and further hurt itself.

Because the plan is to rehabilitate the animals back into their natural habitat as quickly as possible, they have little human contact, so in the displays, they had webcams of various parts of the hospital so we could observe without disturbing the animal.  For instance, one showed a small water area with several birds, including pelicans, hopping about, trying out mended wings, etc.  It was heartwarming to see the progress they were making.  We also learned that the veterinarians and workers there used both eastern and western medical techniques in the healing process.  Acupuncture was used often to alleviate pain, and various kinds of herbal diets were used for differing needs. 

We happened to visit on the day of a presentation from two of their volunteers about armadillos and raccoons, which was good.  One of the presenters was also an author of two picture books.  Her name is Kyle L. Miller, and the books were science/animal based and about a baby armadillo and shore bird life on the Florida beaches.  It was fun to talk with her, to have Carter experience this too, and we bought the shore bird book, Snowy Pea and The Ghost Crab, a nice souvenir of this adventure.  It’s a beautiful chapter book, with journal-like illustrations.

It was terrific to see this place, to connect the animals we were enjoying so much on our trip to what others were doing to help the animals on the island.   It took us all deeper into what the habitat really meant, not just to vacationers but to those who are having to adapt to the people’s ways, the animals. 

Here are two quotes that were posted on the walls:

“Lots of people talk to animals…  Not very many listen, however.  That’s the problem.”  Benjamin Hoff, The Tao of Pooh

“Only if we understand can we care.  Only if we care will we help.  Only if we help shall they be saved.”  Jane Goodall

Friday, June 24, 2011

Beginning of our trip

Friday, June 24, 2011

On Our Way

Up with the sunshine,
Pack, eat, last minute check, drive,
Whew! On way to airport;
love waiting to fly!

Leaving Home – Looking Ahead

Too many lists, too much to do,
Now it’s time for a break
just to be with you.
The ocean swells into my heart,
I love looking outward
until we must depart.

We had a marvelous time in the past week on our trip to Sanibel Island with our grandson.   Exactly what we anticipated happened:  we spent hours on and in the ocean, we looked for and found some special shells, and we saw some animals in the wild more than once.   We tried hard to be part of this unique environment, looking at plants, watching seabirds, and talking with those who lived there year-round.  This is the fifth trip we’ve taken with our grandson, and each time we’ve developed a rhythm to it, yet not always the same one.  We found a grocery and shopped for our favorite foods as well as some special ones.  We planned to eat out whenever a restaurant strikes us as interesting, so the grocery cart is not very full, but full enough with the basics and those few special items.  We stop at a visitor’s center or just look at the wire advertising kiosks outside the store to grab a few local tourist magazines.  The first night, we plan the next day, list what we don’t want to miss during the trip, take a long walk by the ocean, already finding beautiful shells, and walking with a group of ibises, looking for last minute snacks.  We dip our feet in only, kind of like tasting a new recipe before serving.  We know the next full day of our trip will be such an adventure, and it’s been a long day of travel, so this day, it’s early to bed.  The rest of the trip awaits!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Summer solstice by the sea --tuesday slice from ipod

June 21, 1911

One final day of gazing
Ocean hypnotics.

Search is also on.
Best wave and interesting shell,
Prettiest sunset.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Anticipation - Vacation

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

     The Merriam Webster Learner’s Dictionary online says that the word anticipation can be used in two ways:  1) a feeling of excitement about something that is going to happen and 2) the act of preparing for something.  I am picking up my grandson today at our airport so that he can fly again tomorrow with my husband and me to Sanibel Island, on the gulf side of Florida.  This is the grandson who moved away this year; he’s ten and we’ve taken him on a trip every year since he was four, although only this far away last year and this trip.  We are anticipating the week with such excitement, have planned what we want to see and do with multiple lists, although we certainly are flexible enough that if something else better comes along, we’ll go there!  We have also planned lists of what we need to bring with us, like plenty of sunscreen and insect repellent, comfortable clothes for beach combing and bird watching, and the pertinent paperwork in order to fly and take care of ourselves in medical emergencies, plus journals, pens, pencils for writing, and books to read at our leisure.  We have planned big! 

     So, as I have been anticipating this trip with such excitement, as definition 1 says, and I have been anticipating each of our needs according to definition number 2, I am again making connections to work, and wondering where this all fits into how I teach?   There is so much whirling around in my head because of my own anticipation, but it seems to narrow to only a few things:

§            Trust within the group so that everyone feels fully open to a new experience.
§            Allow everyone to anticipate what is needed and participate in the planning.
§            Build in time for flexible thinking, in case something wonderful presents itself that supplants other plans.

         I’ve had such fun with the building of this trip, and know I’ll have fun in the next week, hoping to find new ideas for writing too!  And actually, I believe that later I might write more fully about the three points above, and how they really look in the classroom.

Monday, June 13, 2011

My Writing LIfe - then & now

Monday, June 13, 2011

     I was inspired by Ruth’s posts both yesterday and today to get writing, and stop all the voices in my head that say things like “no, you need to do the wash” or “the weeds are back again” or “it’s time to plan the grocery shopping”.   In the late Saturday post with things from Etsy, two of the pictures featured old typewriters, of which I own two, my grandmother’s Royal and my college typewriter, an Olivetti.  My grandmother wrote many things during her life, some stories for me growing up, to which she added music because she was a pianist, too.  Later in life she wrote one of those town life columns in the local newspaper that included who visited whom, announcements of births, glowing descriptions of weddings as well as obituaries.  She wrote these on the old Royal, sitting in a small office-type room in her old two-story house, papers surrounding her like the nest that Kim of Goldilocks And The Perfect Desk described. 

 My mother wrote poetry often and one of her happiest moments late in her life was a little book of her poems published, and given as gifts to family and friends on one of her last Christmases.  She used journals for her writing, and my brother helped her by putting them into his computer so the poems could be published.
     Just now, I sat at my college typewriter and typed a couple of lines.  It took much finger strength!  I marveled at the hours I’ve spent at that machine, clacking out pages and pages of reports, stories, poems, mostly for professors, but sometimes for me.  I have taken the typewriter in to let my students see how they work, to try out a bit of writing on it, and have also told them how lucky they are to have missed out on re-typing pages when grave errors had been made or having to estimate just the place to stop in order to add footnotes.  They too noticed their lack of finger strength.  However, that machine was certainly a friend, all through my undergrad years, and needed only new ribbons to be renewed.
      As for my own current writing life:  It seems to ebb and flow like the tide.  I have always written in journals and with my students, but lately, have been more active because of this blog, and the inspiration of the Two Writing Teachers and the Tuesday Slice People. I am determined to write every day, and mostly sit at the sofa in the picture, writing on my trusty MacBook Pro, loving every minute.   I still make lists in journals, but more and more am using sticky notes on the desktop for idea posting.  The tech world is taking me on new paths.  Happy Writing!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Present In The Moment

June 12, 2011

       Having a two year old visit means being right there, in the moment!  Perhaps I should take a lesson from this in the classroom, not worrying so much about the next plans.
new things to draw - crayon or chalk

taking care of baby

just enjoying the swinging

doesn't know if she wants to go in

But-here she comes!

Friday, June 10, 2011

Keeping Cool At Grandma's

June 10, 2011

        Keeping Cool

My grandmother had beds put out
on her summer porch, where we’d lie
on cool sheets
those summer afternoons with our books.
We’d fan ourselves with church pictures,
And Grandmother would shake her hankie at her face,
saying “Pshaw!  It’s not as hot as last summer,
just a bit close is all.  Have some more lemonade.”
She’d send my uncle down to buy a nickel’s worth of ice chips
at the ice house.  He’d stay there long as he could,
in that  coldest spot in town,
filling his body with smells of sawdust and ice blocks. 
By the time he’d returned, we’d tired of turning pages, and
started on the games. 
The sun had begun that downturn and we could feel
the thermometer slide too. 
Time to start supper,
lay the table,
And wait for Grandpa to come in from the fields.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

The Promise of Summer

June 9, 2011

       I set the goal of writing with each sense lately, and I've come to the visual this day.  I'm finally on vacation and have been working all over the yard, weeding mostly the grass out of the beds.  It brings me to the memories of one of my grandfathers, stooping over in the evenings, pulling weeds and grass, grumbling a little about the work being never done.  As I lean over, I remember him so well, and here I am, doing what he did years ago.  I see the perennials already in bloom and thought I'd take some photos.  Since they are up so much faster than the annual seeds I plant, it seems they give the promise of summer to me, saying 'here we are again, we said we'd return!'  Many of these perennials have come from family members-my mother and mother-in-law, an aunt;  and some from friends, brought in from Missouri on visits.  I am grateful for the blooms, and what they represent from loved ones, as well as that promise of good things to come all summer.  The one pic of the squirrel and the swing is another promise, of fun observations of our little friends that live around our backyard, and the granddaughter who comes to visit.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Responses to the Wall Street Journal Article - YA Literature

June 8, 2011

      Lately, I have been reading numerous responses to a recent newspaper article that trashed Young Adult literature as too dark for young people to read.  If you haven't read it, go to Laurie Halse Andersen's blog here which also gives the link for the article along with her response.  It seems that much talk among teachers, parents and librarians has been sparked by this and I am concerned that this article may drive more attempts at book censorship in our schools and libraries.
     However, in my reading, I found a blog that proposes we combat the furor by linking to that blog with recommendations of many YA books that aren't necessarily 'edgy and dark', but great literature that helps students (maybe all of us) figure out how and why people act the way they do.  I'm not saying that one should be ignoring any books;  'edgy and dark' is what you personally make of it, but it is a response that is positive.  The link to this idea is here, and it is called "The Light and Round Project", posted by Jennifer Bertman.
      My first recommendation for your project, Jennifer, is last year's National Book Award winner, by Judy Blundell, called What I Saw, and How I Lied.  It's an excellent mystery, showing well the challenges of a young girl growing up and discovering the realities of her family life, as well as that which is most important in life.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

On The Endings of The School Year

June 7, 2011

    I've written several times about saying the goodbyes at the end of the school year.  Last week was full of them, to Continuing students, to colleagues who are leaving for other challenges, to our head of school.  It was an emotionally exhausting week, but each moment needed, both for us left behind and for those moving on.  Time for summer break!

Now let me welcome summer with a sigh,
No more times to say goodbye,
just greetings to early chirps, with breezes soft,
the smell of cut grass, and birds aloft
looking for meals of worms and seeds,
while I sit still and fill my needs
of contemplation of this full school year.
I hold all that happened dear
yet now look toward the weeks of rest.
In catching up, I’ll do my best
I’ll read and think and mop and dust
and lunch with friends, but then I must
be sure to love my family
who are so very dear to me.
They’ve been supportive through the year
and now they need me to be near.
We’ll eat and laugh and play away the days
until the summer cartwheels away.
Then I’ll be ready for another year
of teaching and learning with good cheer. 

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Sounds At Dusk

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Evening Sounds Push Back Time

Dusk murmurs heard next door,
down the street,
across the park:
My neighbor crosses over the driveway
asking ‘how is Sarah getting along?’
(My daughter, due in two months.)
I tell ‘she’s fine, getting a little uncomfortable,
but feels good still.’

This time, I hear my grandmother, Sarah,
call “yoo hoo, Mrs. Judy, how are your tomatoes doing?
Mine are not looking so well this year.  Lots of bugs, I think.”

Later, across the park, it’s “come home, Charlie, come home.
It’s getting dark out,
time for bath,
time for bed,
time for stories.”

“Linda, Linda, are you up in that tree?  It’s really
too dark for you to be climbing still.  Come home now.  Is that
Alice with you?  Alice May, you get on home now.  Your momma’ll
be worried to death.”

My husband clinks away the rake, the shovels.
The broom whispers across the porch, my hands
or my mother’s, final work of today?

Mom, come in, come in to visit a while.
I hear you sweeping on the porch,
at last light,
as I turn the pages of my book.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Summer Memories

          June 4, 2011

       Memories from accessing the senses appear so real sometimes.  I thought I'd like to explore how many of my memories are enhanced by the senses.  This first poem arrived from a summer afternoon treat at a grandparents' home where I visited each summer through most of my growing up years.  I drank a Pepsi and here came the words!

Pepsi Time

Let me by transformed,
if only for a while.
I drink my Pepsi and become
a little girl again.

On the farm
humidity surrounds me.
insects surround-
I escape upstairs
and read stories
from the “Post”,
that magazine of good fiction
I can’t find
Newsprint smells
keep me satisfied
For two weeks
I live my childish
nothing to harm me,
no worries around me.

They love me,
daughter of their
lost son.
And feed me biscuits
and stars
                 and Pepsi.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

What To Do With All The Goodbyes

June 2, 2011

How should I finish the goodbyes?
I’ve spent the past weeks
finding good, appropriate, warm, special, and creative ways
to say goodbye:
to students who are leaving our school to continue on to high school,
to students who are leaving to attend other schools,
to teachers who are leaving because they’re moving
or because they want a change in their careers,
and to our head of school
who also is moving to another life challenge. 
I feel I am ready to stuff all the goodbyes into one beautiful box.
It will hold all the emotions. 
It will contain the tears and best wishes,
good lucks, and
I’ll miss you’s—the fluttery feelings of heartache
that I don’t want to feel anymore. 
They’ll be packed into the box,
shut and taped down for this year,
until next time,
when I ready myself for endings again. 

It reminds me of playing Bingo,
when one stays at the card,
dutifully marking the numbers as they’re called
when you see some on your card. 
Slowly, the squares are taken, and the line is made. 
BINGO is shouted, and it’s over,  
someone has won,
and it’s over. 
You’ve done all you could,
and won or lost, and it’s over. 
That’s how goodbyes feel. 
It’s time to put them all away this year.