Tuesday, November 29, 2011

A Possible Newbery, But Already A Winner

                          Tuesday Slice of Life can be found at the Two Writing Teachers blog

In my reading life, I’ve been trying to read books about which others are whispering NEWBERY, NEWBERY!  The most recent book I’ve read is Breadcrumbs, by Anne Ursu and illustrated by Erin McGuire.  The book is marketed for middle grade readers, yet I know I would encourage my middle school aged students to read it, too.  It speaks with such compassion about the pain that children feel when they are suffering from tragedy in their lives that not only young adults, but parents and teachers should also read this poignant tale.  And tale it is, including the heroine, Hazel who saves her knight, Jack, because that is what friends do.  The book is over three hundred pages, yet I imagine that reading it aloud to a class would open up such opportunities for immediate personal sharing in either conversations or in writing workshop that it would be worthwhile to spend the time.  It is about friendship, bullying, heroism, reversing the stereotype of the prince saving the princess, and being true to oneself.  It is about so many things important to growing up.
On one level, I can see that students will love the sweetness of Breadcrumbs about a friendship and the things one can imagine doing for a friend, even challenging and defeating the Snow Queen.  On another level, if a student has been often immersed in fantasy, the subtle references to other favorite tales delight often.  Not only are there references to stories of Hans Christian Andersen, but from Philip Pullman and J.K. Rowling, too.   From the viewpoint of a teacher, one can read this book to see examples of the incredible strength of childhood/young adult friendship, and the alarming disconnect of these same children with the adults in their lives.   I know we teachers make strong connections with our students, and I am proud of those relationships; yet I have also known that many of my students did not tell all. 
Read this passage from Ursu:  ‘Hazel Anderson’, said Mrs. Jacobs, who was the thing that had deflated, ‘would you sit still?’ / Someone sniggered.  From somewhere in the back of the room, someone else sneered, ‘Yeah, Hazel,’ which was not the greatest insult ever, but one thing Hazel had learned at her new school was when it comes to insults it’s the thought that counts./Mrs. Jacobs looked at her with weary eyes, and Hazel froze.  She was still like the snow-covered morning.  She did not even breathe, at least very much.  She was going to listen, she was going to try, because she was not a little kid anymore, because it was her job to sit still and listen to the teacher and we all have to do our jobs in the world, even if we don’t like them very much.  There are other times in the book that Hazel tries to do what everyone wants her to do, to say the words they want her to say, and I felt sorrowful that I have probably been that teacher sometimes, and watched as the student dried up, became quiet, and did as he or she was told. 

Later in the book, the main story shows Hazel defying the rules and taking back the pieces of her self in order to save her friend.  The story of this friendship as told so clearly by Ursu, although couched in fantasy terms, shows fantastical heroism as the metaphor for the real-life saving done by children for their friends. 
And my approach to curriculum seems to have changed lately, perhaps because of conversations I’ve been having with teachers I coach about their students.  This book, Breadcrumbs touched me so much because it showed the ability of a child to be lost in a class lesson when experiencing personal turmoil.   I’ve been thinking more about the student’s personal and emotional support that leads to improved success in the curriculum.  To integrate thoughtful lessons that connect to the personal seems critical.   There are writing experiences that do come from the heart, and do help us know our students.  If we are not gaining the trust needed, if students aren’t personally ready for the lesson (no matter how well prepared is the lesson), plus if students aren’t getting the care they need—rest and food first, then we have a battle like Hazel’s to fight, to forge the good relationships in order that we might teach well.  What to do?  What to do?

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Feeling Grateful Before and After Thanksgiving, Too

              I have written recently of my many blessings; this past Thanksgiving was rich because of them.  When counting the blessings this year, I must include being welcomed into a writing community mostly through the Two Writing Teachers blog.  It has been a life-changing experience for me as a teacher, to meet teachers all over the world who will talk (write) about their teaching lives with such dedication to and compassion for their students.  Years ago, Adlai Stevenson said, “On this shrunken globe, men can no longer live as strangers.”  I imagine it would interest him to see just how small our world today has become because of the Internet.  I am grateful to be a part of this new kind of community.
As part of the community, I reflect on those words written by others, many times about their teaching experiences.   One of the words that describe what I’m ‘hearing’ is resilience.  According to the online Free Dictionary, the definition of resilient is marked by the ability to recover readily, as from misfortune.  I often wonder if those who do not teach understand how resilient teachers must be in their day-to-day challenges while teaching?  There are a number of times, when a lesson must be adjusted (read changed, dropped, or interrupted) because of circumstances beyond the control of the teacher and/or the students.  While beginning a lesson, when students are settling into the group, one may burst out crying and run from the room.  Another might get sick, right there, in the meeting area.  Someone might say, “I have to go really bad!”   The electricity may go. Two students might whisper to tell that they have to talk about their conflict, right then, right now!  This is beginning to look like a list poem.
Of course, we realize there are often glitches in the plans and one must be flexible enough to make changes.  We are ready and know that we’ll find ways to make up time lost because we take care of the sudden problem even if the lesson must be abandoned.  We make time for that which is most important, the students.  I’m sorry that I don’t remember where I found the following link, but this man, Michael Josephson, a radio commentator and founder of the nonprofit Josephson Institute of Ethics and CHARACTER COUNTS, has re-worked a piece by a teacher named Taylor Mali, who wrote a strong response to a critic who was putting down teachers.  It’s called Making Lives, and shows well what teachers do in the very midst of being resilient.
One year when my school site was downtown near our capitol, I had planned on the very first day to walk the class to that capitol to climb to the top and look out over the city.  We were going to write our first notebook entries there, with the caption “this is my world to explore”.    On the morning of the first day, I glimpsed one of my first students arriving, with his mother helping.  He was moving slowly up the stairs on crutches!  My mind whirled as I greeted him with a big sympathetic smile.  This day was changing already, but we had a very good start to the year (in the building).  Do you have a story to tell about your resilience?  I imagine you have more than one.  Give yourself a pat on the back for “making lives”.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Passing Down Traditions - Daughter to Daughter

   Heidi Mordhorst at my juicy little universe is hosting Poetry Friday.  It's a lovely way to start your weekend.

     My daughter (with her husband) hosted Thanksgiving yesterday.  I added to the table, but it was her day to take, to make her own.  I am happy to give it over and enjoyed being a guest.  She has recently had her second baby, and even more recently returned to work.  I admire her ability to live her life well, and to manage all the details she must manage.  Her husband helps of course, but it wasn't always so in the past.  This day filled me with memories, of past women’s Thanksgivings and all that they accomplished in order to create this day of thankfulness for food and family.  It isn’t easy crafting a feast.  In the work days, part of the mind works out the menu, the shopping, the seating.  It takes some planning ahead in addition to sneaking in the silver polishing late at night when the babies sleep.  I had a wonderful day watching my daughter take care of the day, and counted all my blessings.   When we returned home, I wrote this poem for her, and for her daughters.

                Sestina Memoir

From the mantle shelf, the book
was chosen lovingly by the mother.
She turned then toward her daughter,
inviting her to sit by the fire
and listen to poems of the seasons,
at this time of cold, snow, ice—of winter.

Soon, the words reminded of a long ago winter
when others sat and marveled over a book,
this book, the only one twas valued, about the seasons.
It told of monthly tasks, that mothers
were to perform as their duty.  The fire
blazed, illuminating the face of the daughter.

“Mother, explain this to me,” said the daughter.
“We’ve often sat the long evenings of winter
talking and sewing, telling our stories by the fire.
Why is it that this time you remember that book?”
“Because you are almost a woman,” replied the mother.
“And I was told I would know the right seasons

to guide my life, my family.  Those seasons
of growing to young womanhood, my daughter
are what I’ve left to give you as your mother.”
The young woman shivered, for it was full winter.
She averted her eyes from the book,
to watch the embers glow in the fire.

Then in her body raged a new kind of fire
one that would take fuel from all the seasons.
And the things shown pictured in the book
were now asked after in detail by the daughter
because she did know that it was already winter,
and she desired answers from her mother.

“Yes, my dear, I have your answers,” said her mother.
“If you’ll just throw more logs upon the fire
and keep from me the sorrow of winter
I’ll share with you the secrets of the seasons.
First the spring, when you were my little daughter.
See, look here, at pictures in the book.”

They rambled on to winter, last of seasons,
then the mother turned and kissed her lovely daughter,
said goodnight, put out the fire, and closed the book.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Telling all of our stories on Thanksgiving

Tuesday Slice of Life is at Two Writing Teachers
John Two-Hawks is an awarding winning Lakota flute player.  He says:
"I cannot tell you the dreamy Indian story of your imagination simply because I am not imaginary -and my story is no dream...."
      Happy Thanksgiving everyone.  I am grateful for this community that helps me be a better teacher.  Thank you for your support this year and your kind comments.  I am grateful!
As Thanksgiving is upon us in a couple of days, I am reminded of my time in the classroom and the importance of sharing important truths with my students.  It’s a lovely thing to say thanks for our blessings, and I do.  I feel I have many and am forever grateful.  In my years in the classroom I developed a number of traditions to help students both to celebrate and to learn about the real history of Thanksgiving.  Although we are often proud of those we call pilgrims, in the spirit of the learning all the stories of our American history, I also wanted my students to understand that Native Americans, most especially the Wampanoag, the Native Americans who helped the early colonists through that first hard winter, are still here, still living in the United States, and living their lives as they have for 350 years.  I experienced the story firsthand with my students when we visited the Plimoth Plantation a few years ago.  It’s a wonderful place to experience history as ‘first-hand’ as one can get without the availability of time travel.  There is where we met the Wampanoag, spoke with them about their journey in history, and began to understand that for them, our Thanksgiving is not a day of celebration.
Plimoth woman
There is a new documentary out, which details a recent venture of saving the Wampanoag language.  It is titled “We Still Live Here – Âs Nutayuneânby” and tells the story of Jessie Little Doe Baird, a Wampanoag Indian who began to search for pieces of the language that hadn’t been spoken for 100 years.  You can find an article about it and a brief film clip here.  Her daughter is the first native speaker in seven generations to speak the language!  I share this story, in addition to sharing an article by Susan Bates, called “The Real Story of Thanksgiving” and one by a teacher, Chuck Larsen, titled “Introduction for Teachers”.  Both are here.  It is important to me that students learn the stories that have often been omitted, and to question and explore history instead of accepting every story as the only one.     
Wampanoag exterior
Because my school does acknowledge and celebrate Thanksgiving as part of our heritage, I also held other activities with students.  One year we created special thank you proclamations (art and words), and presented them to the special someone at the Thanksgiving table.  Another time we wrote and shared the exercise of answering this question:  If you could invite five people to your Thanksgiving table, whom would you invite, who would be the guest of honor, and at that dinner, what words would you say to them?  Various people were among the invited, like grandparents who had died before the students had met them, favorite cartoon characters, best friends who had moved away, along with famous people like Helen Keller, Albert Einstein, Neil Armstrong, and on.  After completing the exercise, we shared our writing on the day before the Thanksgiving break.  And beautiful, serious, along with tongue-in-cheek words were written.  Often on that day we have visitors, because many relatives visit at this time, so we share with them and ask them to share one person they might invite.  It is a rich experience to hear the array of people chosen, and even more exciting to hear the words chosen to say to the invitees.
Last, during the days before the holiday, we created a thank you wall, on which we posted notes of thanks to people in the school, and notes of gratitude for both people and things in our lives.  It was good to see the enthusiasm for this in the class and from our viewers. 
I know that we cannot review parts of the past as responsible researchers without some regret, but we can use this lesson that any study of past times is a way to research for truth from all the relevant viewpoints.   We can teach our students to write stories from their research in order to imagine standing in others’ shoes.   Instead of ignoring that wrongs were done in the past, we can look for those things done right, and be thankful for that.  As well, we can continue to give thanks that people all over the world are trying to learn how to live together in peace.
When my students celebrate Thanksgiving with their families, my hope is that they are richer for their knowledge.

wild turkeys

ready for pies?

Sunday, November 20, 2011

My Husband Has A Birthday

       Today is my husband's birthday.  We've been married a very long time, and celebrated many special days.  Each year brings new celebrations-birthdays of children and grandchildren, new grandchildren, and the times that we just arise in the morning, give each other a kiss and give thanks for the day to come.  Here is a poem I wrote a few years ago for my love, and some words randomly brainstormed that remind me of our time together:

      Riding on a mini motorcycle for a few weeks (he helped me get over the fear of it), playing games with dear friends (always served drinks and snacks to all of us), putting up a high swing in a tree (I worried that he would fall, but he did it), climbing mountains together (putting up with my griping about the climb), hiking in Costa Rica (with my students, too-was a special chaperone to certain students who needed extra support), our first baby arriving (taking the 5 am feeding), just the two of us staying at our cabin and listening to coyotes howling (extra hugs and assurances), and on and on...  Our song, Side By Side, says it better than I can.

  My Love Song

Come stay with me
and hug a while;
your arms will only
make me smile.

My days are joyous
with yet one fear—
an empty life
without you near.

Enough of sadness
I’ll live life true;
savoring minutes
spent with you.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Poets Disagree About November

   Poetry Friday Can Be Found and Savored this week at Tabatha Yeatts: The Opposite of Indifference

     A favorite poem of the autumn season is an old one, by Thomas Hood from the mid 1800’s.  It is  titled NO! and can be found at All Poetry.  At that site, I discovered that Hood also published a shorter version of some of the lines from this poem and titled it November, found at PoemHunter.  Even after some research, I could not find which poem came first.  One could argue either way, I suppose.  Perhaps Hood wrote the shorter one, then expanded it.  Or he wrote the longer one, and decided to shorten it for some particular reason.  I’ve loved the poem NO! for years, find it clever and easy for young students to enjoy.  For some parts of our country, this is definitely the weather in the eleventh month of the year.  For us in Colorado, not as much.  We still have our days with NO sun, but not very many.  Here are the first lines of the poem November.

No sun - no moon!
No morn - no noon -
No dawn - no dusk - no proper time of day.
No warmth, no cheerfulness, no healthful ease,

As I write this, it is sunny and the weatherman predicts 60 plus degrees.  Colorado weather is mostly lovely, but not always, so I intend to enjoy this contradictory day as much as possible.  Our November is often lovelier than the poet Thomas Hood describes.  
On the other hand, a poet special in my eyes and still writing today is Cynthia Rylant, whose words in the picture book In November create lovely pictures worth illustrating, as is done so beautifully by Jill Kastner.  In Rylant's opinion,  trees are standing all sticks and bones.  Without their leaves, how lovely they are, spreading their arms like dancers.  She believes also that Food is better than any other time of the year. And that food has an orange smell.  Even the ending, a blessing of sorts on winter, is sweeter and more optimistic compared to Hood's persistent "NO'S".  
I still enjoy Hood's poem every year, however, but also love Rylant's book.  The poem by Hood is pragmatic instead of nostalgic, and tongue in cheek instead of sentimental.  There is room for both kinds of poetic response in my world of favorites.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Watching Out For The Nice Ones

Tuesday Slice of Life can be found-and enjoyed at the Two Writing Teachers blog.  

Some of you know that I have a new granddaughter, born at the end of July.  My daughter recently returned to work, and because I work only the middle three days of the week, my husband, who is retired, and I have committed to keeping baby Imogene Marie on Mondays, at least until a nanny is found.  The older sister who is two and one-half attends a Montessori school.  We started last Monday, and yesterday was our second day.  As we spend the day with Imogene, we learn that this baby has to be the most serene and content baby we’ve ever met.  She is quite different from her older sister as a baby, is undemanding, smiles and coos at us whenever we talk to her and hold her, rarely cries, and only then if we’re a little slow in readying her next feeding.  After being fed, she plays with us for a while, then goes to sleep when we lay her in her crib.  Amazing.  We are all in a little awe of this little person and wonder what she’ll be like as she grows older. 
Imogene Marie - 2 1/2 months
 As I’ve spoken with Imogene’s parents, and thought about her, her demeanor has brought me to think again of certain students I’ve had in the past, both girls and boys, whom we often call nice.  They are the students who turn in assignments on time and meet expectations, are friendly and respectful to everyone, and who also often stay in the background, allowing others to take their turn first, share materials they own, and so on.  One could also call them generous in spirit, and relatively calm and quiet. 
We in education talk about at risk students, and work hard to help them fill needs that are vital in their lives to fill.  We speak of students who cry out for extra support because they have extraordinary challenges; they are diagnosed with ADHD perhaps, and struggle academically until scaffolds are put in place.  There are others who have physical challenges, and take time from teachers in order to be taught adaptations for their learning.  Numerous students take time because they really need it. 
And then there are the nice students.  I worry that they remain at the end of the line because teachers just run out of time to see if they are being all that they can be.  They don’t ask, don’t need, and can continue on with little attention.  I want us to notice them, too.  If we didn’t make extra efforts for Imogene, I wonder if she would just smile and coo and even continue to progress in her baby ways, as she has.  But is that what we should do?  Should we say, oh, she’ll be okay; she’s such a nice baby?  I want to be sure that she and all the nice kids get the attention too, to receive extraordinary instruction because they can receive it so well, to learn to self-advocate, and to add to their repertoire of skills because they can, if someone offered.  Am I being too picky?  I don't think so.  Yet, I certainly know that there is a finite amount of time and energy that teachers have to spend. 
 Imogene has managed to remind me of that child in the classroom that rarely demands anything of me as a teacher, you know, the nice one.   And I will try to find ways to meet those students' needs too.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

One Book That You Don't Put Down - Really!

         I just started and finished a 640 page book.  I read straight through with only a pause to get a drink.  It is a book lately reviewed and/or mentioned by many.  This book is amazing, satisfying, intriguing, mysterious, full of pictures, but not a picture book, and wondrous.  It is Wonderstruck, by Brian Selznick.  I couldn't read all the reviews, but did read some.  None could give away much more than the beginning questions asked by the main character.  I was enthralled by the ideas toward the end of the book, and the analogy given that applies to writing.  Read the book;  you will love it!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

A Remembrance

 Poetry Friday can be found with April Halprin Wayland at Teaching Authors!  Enjoy!

It’s Veterans Day today.  I am grateful to those in the past and who now offer their lives to keep us safe.  Some do not return, like my father in World War II.  I am saddened when I see today that children are still losing the sweet relationship of parent and child.  Some veterans return to fight the other war within themselves to regain the life they had.  I hope for them in that terrible conflict.   
John Gillespie Magee, Jr. was an American aviator and poet who died as a result of a mid-air collision during World War II.  He was serving in the Royal Canadian Air Force, which he joined before the United States officially entered the war, as did my father. Here is the beginning of a poem many of you may know; it was dear to my mother’s heart and is dear to mine. 

Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of earth,
And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;
Sunward I've climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth
Of sun-split clouds, --and done a hundred things
You have not dreamed of

The whole poem can be found here.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Those LIttle Things Do Mean A Lot!

Two Writing Teachers host Slice of Life Tuesdays

When Ruth Ayres, of Two Writing Teachers wrote in her personal blog, Discover, Play, Build of a search for the little things that teachers do to make a difference, I was intrigued, and wrote one response.  I continue to be interested in the search for more.  As I contemplate those little things, I find many, ones that I remember from my own classroom, and those I am beginning to observe as I visit classrooms.  Perhaps I will write still another post about these little things, because I believe that teachers everywhere have created wonderful teaching moments, specific and personal to them that enhance their work in literacy.  Perhaps someone will read an idea and use it with his or her own students?
 When there are small challenges to meet some certain needs of students, teachers so often devise little things that help.  One challenge I remember was to help students to slow down when reading or writing or working on a project. What a challenge it was to explain, or show, all the layers of a task in order to do it better!  Numerous direct lessons and time to practice is often the key, however, so often, students want to be done, for the teacher to say, “that’s enough”.  Another way to view it is to improve students’ metacognition, defined as their awareness or analysis of one's own learning or thinking processes, according to the online Merriam – Webster dictionary.  One year I began using the phrase SO FAR with the students. “What has happened SO FAR in your writing, reading, project”?  I began to write the words on the white board at the beginning of the day and during morning meeting, when making plans for work time, I reminded students to ask themselves questions like, “SO FAR, what have I done in my writers notebook, what do I need to do, when will I do it?” or “SO FAR, where am I in my book, what has happened, what do I believe will happen next?”  
The discussions of SO FAR continued, and while there were still instances of students turning in what seemed like hurried assignments, improvement in first drafts and talk about books also occurred.  It seems that the two little words made a difference in my students’ learning and attention to that learning.  

Monday, November 7, 2011

Monday Memory - One Tradition

My daughter was out visiting this past Sunday; she’s in the city and I live in the outskirts, so to visit is a bigger deal, especially now with two young children.  It was fun to be with the granddaughters and just visit for a while.  She returned to work last week, so we’ll see her less now.  Her sister-in-law and family are coming to stay for Thanksgiving, so my daughter will do the dinner this year, with me bringing odds and ends.  We made a list of the possible menu, and one of the musts I will bring is cranberry relish.  It’s one of those traditions that must BE. 
I don’t know when or where I found the recipe, but I have it clipped and taped into a recipe box I’ve kept for all my married life.  Simple.  Just grind one pound of cranberries, two navel oranges and one cup of walnuts.  Add one cup of sugar and it’s complete!  We love it, or at least most of us do.  It brings back memories of the many times I’ve made it, like the first time my son and my daughter were old enough to help with the grinding.  I have an old metal grinder.  You know - the kind that attaches to the cabinet shelf.  I have used it sparingly because I no longer make ham salad, and never have made sausage.  I have made pimento cheese with it, but not for years.  Now, it is taken out only for cranberry relish.  It makes a mess when we grind because of the juiciness of the fruit, so we put down newspapers and a big bowl that will catch much of the drips.  To make about a quart, it really is a big production, but as I said, it’s an important Thanksgiving preparation production!  I remember trying to use the workbench in the garage because of all the mess, but nearly froze because it was so cold.  And I remember doing it for the first time with my grandson.  One year we heard about a new kind of relish on NPR from Susan Stamberg’s Mama.  It sounded awful, but we decided that something new would be interesting, so traipsed around at the last minute finding horseradish and sour cream.  Sorry, but I still can’t believe that anyone likes it.  It was awful!  The next year, we returned to our own cran relish.
The history of cranberries, according to the Cape Cod Cranberry Growers’ Association is one of only three native fruits that are commercially grown, along with Concord grapes and blueberries.  On one of the trips to the Boston area with my students during a year of studying American history, we visited a cranberry grower, and their bogs, harvested a few, and discussed the environmental needs and challenges today.  We bought some cranberries and later cooked them in our kitchen, serving up a big pot of sweetened berries with the oatmeal the next morning.  It was fascinating to see where they grow for us in Colorado, where we live in such a dry climate that never will we see a bog growing these berries.  This same growers’ site says: The name "cranberry" derives from the Pilgrim name for the fruit, "craneberry", so called because the small, pink blossoms that appear in the spring resemble the head and bill of a Sandhill crane. European settlers adopted the Native American uses for the fruit and found the berry a valuable bartering tool. 
Another web site, Cranberry Creations, gives information about Native use of the berryThe Lenni-lenape Indians of New Jersey called the cranberry "ibimi" meaning 'bitter berry.' They used this wild red berry as a part of their food and as a symbol of peace and friendship. The Chippawas called the cranberry "a'ni-bimin," the Alogonquin called it "atoqua," and the Naragansetts called it "sasemineash." Native Americans would eat it raw, mixed in with maple sugar, or with deer meat (as a dried "Pemmican").
It’s a good thing to have traditions and it’s a good thing to try new things once in a while, and I apply this to my teaching as well.  If we travel to eat elsewhere, we may have to settle for that jellied stuff that comes from a can, sliced into small rounds, put onto lettuce with other fruit.  It’s not the kind of cranberry dish I “relish”, but may be for others.  Sometimes I add cranberries to a sweet potato casserole, and I keep bags of berries so I can add them to banana or pumpkin bread.  Not only are they delicious, but are considered one of the “super foods”, with several health benefits.    We will have cranberry relish as long as we have our Thanksgiving dinners together.  It’s tradition!

Friday, November 4, 2011

One More Time

Poetry Friday today - at Laura Salas New Site - writing the world for kids

from Australia

    Among the numerous kinds of books I love to read, nature journals are a favorite.  The words of Abbey, Muir, Bass, Beston, Carson, Leopold, Dillard, Thoreau, Nabham, and others inspire me.  When I find new authors I am excited to learn of their lives, and to read about their experiences.  I have recently discovered a well-known naturalist of Australia who wrote a poem that sources say is a favorite of many natives to that country.  As it includes words about October, and is about a beautiful mountain area in that country, and because I live in the Rockies, I am pleased to share this discovery.  I know, I know, it’s November, but I hate not to share! 

     The poem is titled Bellbirds, by Henry Kendall, and as the site says, it is a beloved poem known to many in Australia. 

It begins:

       By channels of coolness the echoes are calling,
       And down the dim gorges I hear the creek falling:
       It lives in the mountain where moss and the sedges
       Touch with their beauty the banks and the ledges.

And the rest of the poem is here.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Snowy Memories

It snowed today in Colorado, a wonderful eight inches or so, and I didn't have to go to work.  I will work the rest of the week, but today was wonderful--no rushing out the door, but actually having the time to shovel the sidewalks and enjoy hot coffee several times before and after the shoveling.  

Winter’s cold settles into Missouri, where I grew up, in late autumn and doesn’t offer many warm, sunny days until spring.  It isn’t like Colorado, where I’ve lived most of my adult life, where t-shirts and shorts show up even in January.  The sun hides often during Missouri winters, the snow stays around for a long time and freezes to hard and dirty ridges that are hard to walk or drive over.  On the other hand, big winter storms in Missouri can fill the sky with white goose feathers, moist and beautiful.  They are so ready to make drivers’ nightmares of hills, but also create marvelously slick runs for those wooden sleds with metal runners, like my own childhood’s Flexible Flyer.

Before I moved to the city, before I was twelve, I lived in a small town of about 800 people.  All my relatives were near—grandparents, aunts and uncles—ready to give me, my cousins, and friends happy times.  One of the happiest and most adventurous experiences came on snowy days, when some one of the adults would tie our sleds to a car and take us flying around town on the snow-packed streets.  Remember, on a snowy day in a little town years ago there would have been little traffic.  Even if we had met another car, they would have watched out for us.  We were safe back there behind the car and loving every fling around the corners.  It was especially exciting when we hooked up two sleds to the bumper and had the added challenge of avoiding collisions.  Sometimes our bodies slid off the sleds and careened over slippery roads, up onto curbs.  The driver would finally notice we were gone, probably by our screams to stop, stop.  We would get up, brush off, reposition the sleds, and move right on. 

This special sledding only happened in the beginning of the snowy days.  After that, even the few vehicles driving would wear off enough snow so that the sled wouldn’t always glide, but would hit bare spots that tore up the runners.  The sledding also happened late afternoons, because we were usually in school, so really didn’t get ready until after four.  It was getting dark by about five. We had an hour of pure adrenalin-charged fun until we had to call it quits.

We arrived back home, peeled off frozen, sopping wet clothes, and drank hot chocolate while we screamed and giggled remembering the curves, bumps, and near disasters.  Our skin warmed and we waited for supper.  

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Learning Is Hard!


     New class-New Learning.  Lots of hours to try to get it right!

      Please use this link to see my post today.  I tried an experiment to see if I could embed the 'glog' into the post.  It was either too big, or so small that no one could read the different pieces.  But, I did learn again how to do Glogster.  Other applications I'm working on are Evernote, Mindmeister and LiveBinder.

     If you have a favorite read aloud-please share in the comments.

     Thanks for your patience with a new idea!