Saturday, September 30, 2017

Celebrating Time Fishing

     Celebrating with Ruth Ayres and others today. Come visit to see how wonderful it is to celebrate all the delights of the week! 


I discovered this quote by Henry David Thoreau when I visited his place and Walden Pond a long time ago with my students: 

“Time is but the stream I go a-fishing in."

        I'm celebrating time today, that sometimes-elusive thing we often wish more of. When I look back, however, I have fished quite a lot of wonder in these past days!

Time for:

       Visiting my son, daughter-in-law, and grandson especially to be with them for Carter's marching band performance during the Friday Night Lights football game.

       Time because of a flight delay to create a poem from pictures at the airport.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Poetry Friday - Autumn WithThe Birds

        Poetry Friday is with Laura Purdie Salas today at Writing The World for Kids and she's sharing poetry from Amy Ludwig VanDerwater's new book: Read!ReadRead! Be sure to visit to get a little peek into this wonderful book and then click on all the other links to poetry posts!

O’ pumpkin pie, your time has come ’round again 
and I am autumnrifically happy! ~Terri Guillemets

        Nearly every month, Michelle H. Barnes has a guest who challenges us to write a specific poem. You can read about September's challenge from Carole Boston Weatherford here. My earlier poem was on Michelle's blog this week, a nice surprise, but I haven't stopped writing another. The abecedarian poems are challenging, but lots of fun, too! Thanks, Michelle and Carole!  

        Autumn's here, and birds are in the midst of settling or flying on to new digs. Here in Colorado, we've had a celebration of painted lady butterflies swooping everywhere, and we're still waiting for the snow geese who fly through on the way south. I love birds and try to spot what I can on nearby small lakes, hence this new poem!

Alphabetical Aves

           Amazing Birds, Cerulean-Dazed, Elegantly-Feathered, Geometrically-Hatched—
                  Ibis, Junco, Killdeer, Lark, Magpie, Nutcracker, Oriole, Pigeon, Quail—
                                  Random Selection Tallied Under Various Walkabouts--

                                                                Xylophonic Yammering Zealots!

                                                              Linda Baie (c) All Rights Reserved

photo credit: Bill Gracey 16 Million Views A Sky Full of Snow Geese via photopin (license)

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Girls Who Followed Their Dreams

        Visit Alyson Beecher on Wednesdays for Non-Fiction Picture Books at Kidlit Frenzy.  From Alyson and others, you will discover terrific nonfiction picture books!

        Women's stories are often of their struggles to follow their dreams, use the talents they have despite the naysayers, despite sometimes also fulfilling the stereotypical female roles. Caroline Herschel lived from 1750 to 1848, became a great astronomer and the first woman to be paid for her discoveries. She had a tough upbringing, was scarred by smallpox and her growth was stunted by typhus. Her parents thought she would never be attractive enough to marry and used her as their maid. Thankfully, her brother William, one with whom she had a close relationship, left for England (from Germany) and he took Caroline with him. They shared an intense interest in the stars and together built a great telescope, worked to create numerous star charts. Their discoveries were many. Caroline was the first woman to discover a comet! The book by Emily Arnold McCully shares a story of someone who worked tirelessly because of her interest, knowledge, and passion. The Herschels' star catalogs are still used by space agencies today. Added information is in the backmatter, including an author’s note, a bibliography, a glossary, and a timeline.

       My former colleague and long-time book buddy and I are sharing again, and she brought me this book last week.  I know of the controversy when Maya Lin's submission was chosen as the architect of the Vietnam Memorial. She was a student! And she was a woman, and unknown! Thank goodness, she persisted, a trait we are all admiring lately! Jeanne Walker Harvey writes that that beautiful memorial is just what Maya Lin wanted, "a quiet place to remember all those who died during the war." Here is how Dow Phumiruk illustrates that first day of visitors, who did touch names special to them, and who cried.
Click to enlarge.
      What I didn't know was of Maya Lin's childhood, that her father was an artist and her mother was a poet, that Maya played chess with her brother and drew and built tiny towns with paper scraps. Harvey tells the story simply, touching the highlights of Maya Lin's life. And Dow Phumiruk fills the pages with realistic scenes, including the architectural inspirations of Maya, and the tools she uses in her work. There is a small part about her memorials designed since the one for Vietnam and an added author's note. I enjoyed it very much.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Friday Night Lights and More!

        Join us on Tuesdays with the Two Writing Teachers and others who post. 

             Like others, I travel to see one of my children and the rest of that family. And like last year, I had the pleasure of going to a Friday Night Lights game to see my grandson Carter's marching band, and the football game, of course! This time, I want to give a shout out to how wonderful teens are, and the parents who support them! We traveled about three hours to Abilene, an 'away' game, and yes, parents came too, with the trailer and the grill to feed them first! They do this every game, home and away, and I am in awe of their work and dedication. I didn't get a picture of the kids sitting and eating and having fun before the game because I was serving, too. But each time I offered a plate, with a tortilla ready for soft tacos, each one smiled and said 'thank you'! Everyone should spend time around high schoolers at least once in a while. They're enthusiastic, hard-working, and make me happy to see them. We also went to the South Plains Fair to see Carter's photo in the entries from his school, and to eat funnel cakes! The fair was just as you imagine it: entries to amaze, crowds of excited kids, deep-fried everything, the knife salesman and the animals! I haven't been to a fair in a long time, and it was fun!
              Here are some pics from my trip, all too quickly in the past, but filling me up with good memories! 
    Barb and Nathan, parents extraordinaire!

    Barb and another parent prepping!

    Nathan preparing the meat!

    Wednesday, September 20, 2017

    A Book To Help Us Understand

            Visit Alyson Beecher on Wednesdays for Non-Fiction Picture Books at Kidlit Frenzy.  From Alyson and others, you will discover terrific nonfiction picture books!

             Tomorrow is the International Day of Peace. Many are invited to share something on social media or a blog post about your wishes for peace. Here is a post that gives the history of this day. Look to the right and click on the dove to find one invitation.

            It's an appropriate time to share Stormy Seas: Stories of young boat refugees by Mary Beth LeatherDale, illustrated by Eleanor Shakespeare. There are people all over our world who need to flee their homes to find safety. Eleanor has filled the pages with starkly created  pages of paintings, parts of photographs, maps, graphic images that tell a tale of heartbreak and hope, courage and despair as Mary Beth tells the stories of five refugees, this time those who can be called "boat people." At the time of their flights, they were children, sometimes with family but often alone. Each one spoke of starving, going without water. Each spoke of being terrified of drowning, but expressed in different ways that there was no going back, they would rather die. 
          In these situations, the descriptions of the journeys and then the life in the migrant or detainment camps are starkly told. Most sold everything, used all savings in order to escape terrible dangers only to face others . Sadly, their hopes and sacrifices continued to be hard, even when they survived the horrific boat rides. They also experienced discrimination upon arrival, during the time they were finally allowed to become part of the new countries, struggled and struggled for years. 
         The book is organized around those five journeys with a table of contents, a timeline of escapes by boat since World War II, resources, cedits and acknowledgments. The individual parts give an intro about the person, a part in his or her own words, and a "What Happened To" section. Within that text, there are illustrated maps, small bits of other information like a personal timeline. 

    Sunday, September 17, 2017

    Monday Reading Fun

    It's Monday - Reading Recap

                  Visit Jen at Teach MentorTexts and Kellee and Ricki at UnleashingReaders to discover books you'll love! Thanks to Jen, Kellee and Ricki who share so much from their own reading lives and support this meme, too.
              Those affected by the hurricanes and forest fires are still on my mind. Don't forget to help where you can.
                                    I'm taking next week off, will be flying to see my son and family this weekend into Monday.  Less reading but good visiting!
                                                     tweet #IMWAYR

    I shared Amy Ludwig VanDerwater's new poetry book, Read! Read! Read!, on Friday HERE! It's a wonderful book for the school year's beginning or for any time you want to celebrate reading! 

             Thanks to Candlewick Press, I was able to enjoy this wonderful new fairy tale retelling! There is little changed in the tales, and they are recognizable, but just enough to entice new readings of old favorites like “Snow White” and “Hansel and Gretel”. Emily Jenkins has managed to link them all within the setting of an icy cold, wintry forest. She writes that some say “vengeful sprites and witches with cold hearts along with others with hot ovens and wicked appetites live there,” and you’ll need to read these stories to discover if you recognize some old friends, or perhaps enemies!  I imagine a fabulous read aloud happening with this new book where there will be “holding-one’s-breath” times and a “just one more” time. Emily Jenkins shares her desire to write these tales from a history of loving, collecting and studying fairy tales in an author’s note.  I enjoyed my own reading very much.

              A father, Mark Gonzales, writes a new picture book inspired by his daughter of the joys of a multi-cultural heritage. “Yo Soy Muslim” is “I Am Muslim” in Spanish. The stunning illustrations by Mehrdokht Amini bring both cultures into their creation, filling the pages with dream work, the girl climbing a tree so that her “smile will touch the sky.” He adds an homage to the girl’s abuela, tells of those who question where she is from and offers an answer. A favorite part is when she flies with swans and is a “child of crescent moons. . . an ancestor in training.” For every child or adult who wants to celebrate her or his heritage, this book will make a heart beat faster.

    Saturday, September 16, 2017

    Ordinary Gifts

         Celebrating with Ruth Ayres and others today. Come visit to see how wonderful it is to celebrate all the delights of the week! 
           Among all the other books I'm reading, I'm re-reading Amy Krouse Rosenthal's Encyclopedia of An Ordinary Life, again loving her entries of the every day, and connecting this time to our celebrations each week. In her words, in the A's: AS - As self-conscious as rearranging what's on your coffee table before guests arrive--putting Art Forum and Milan Kundera's latest novel on top of People magazine and The Berenstine Bears' Potty Book. I used some of her work with my students when the book came out and was so loved, giving them a chance to have a fresh and positive look at their "ordinary" lives. It was a joy then, and today, too.

    A few pieces from my ordinary week:
                I had the pleasure of having brunch last Sunday with a former colleague who's also no longer teaching. She was the "book buddy" I referred to often, and we met at a restaurant right at my favorite Indie bookstore, The Tattered Cover. It was like a spark to renew our talks, still about teaching, of course, about how it works NOT teaching, and about books. We won't stop reading and sharing!

                 Many of you don't actually "see" me, so I'm sharing that I'm letting my hair grow. And I'm also telling that it's not easy. I have waves in some parts, and curls where they curl in different ways. I'm not too interested in this, but when a curl goes wrong in my bangs, I'm reminded that my grandfather used to say this rhyme to me: "There was a little girl who had a little curl, right in the middle of her forehead. . ." I guess some things never change. 

                I have a confession to make. I do procrastinate, and most of the time, it's because I have a house repair. It's not easy being the only one to make decisions, so when I have some workman out to do "something", I have a tough time deciding if it's okay. For about ten days, I've heard a drip sound in one of the toilets. Yes, I knew it was not good to hear. And yes, I finally called and had a person out last Monday. He's here today to fix what's wrong because a part had to be picked up from the warehouse. So, it's okay. I did it. But I still don't like the doing.

                You know that Ingrid and Imogene form a big part of my life. This week I only saw Ingrid for a bit because her class had a campout trip, but Imi and I spent Tuesday afternoon at McDonald's. A nearby one has a new play space. I've been to quite a few amusement parks through the years, and although they're  larger and maybe fancier, I see the same joy in the kids playing here at McDonald's as in other places. There's something enticing to kids about climbing into tunnels, zipping down slides, and screaming!

                I hosted my book club Thursday evening. We love talking books, and talking "us". This time there were only five of us. I celebrate their life enthusiasm for doing things. One is waiting patiently for the adoption process to finalize, then she and her husband will have their first child! Another, my friend I wrote about above, is starting a new life without teaching. Right now, she and her husband are in NYC visiting their son, and seeing a play performed that was written by one of our former students! Another friend who already has a successful restaurant is stepping away from it to begin a new adventure in food trucks! It's always a joy to see these strong and courageous women.

                I worked at the bookstore Thursday, my usual shift, and met wonderful people who wanted to find books just for their own needs. One woman is in town because her husband is in the hospital. For her, easy reads to fill the time in the hospital room. Two teens came in on their 'off hours' to browse. One, an artist, bought an art book and the other bought a chocolate cookbook. They were already making plans for cooking that night!

    My ordinary week is one I'm celebrating. And I did make a place for the needs of those after both the hurricanes. Those I know are all right, although one still needs power back, but others will continue to need help and we mustn't forget them. 

    Friday, September 15, 2017

    Poetry Friday - This Time

              Michelle Barnes hosts Poetry Friday at Today's Little Ditty with "Five for Friday" and a plea for peace! All the special ideas are explained there! Enjoy her post and others with the riches of poetry!

              This is the time when teachers are excited about their new students, the time to start a year of learning, the time to discover students’ passions, about reading and writing.
             This is the time when teachers have writers notebooks ready, empty and waiting to be filled with words: personal words of happy and sad times, future hopes, observations of the world only children know. Teachers wish to know that world through student eyes, too.
              This is the time when stacks of books wait to be opened, stacks teachers have gathered like flowers all the summer for their students, ready to share the stories that have been written to excite, to inform, to settle in hearts. “I know that one. I read it this summer.” “Oh, I want to read that one. It sounds terrific.” “Make a list for this one. Everyone will want to sign up.” “Look at this cover; it’s about refugees.” “And this one; it’s all about reading. And it’s poetry!”

            This is the perfect time for Amy Ludwig VanDerwater’s new book: Read! Read! Read!, charmingly illustrated by Ryan O'Rourke. From young to old, readers will connect to the poems as life links to their past, or links to the joy of reading that will be coming to them. 

    Wednesday, September 13, 2017

    Long Ago and Today, Too

            Visit Alyson Beecher on Wednesdays for Non-Fiction Picture Books at Kidlit Frenzy.  From Alyson and others, you will discover terrific nonfiction picture books!

         It seems appropriate to share this today after Mother Nature has packed such a wallop to places in our world these past weeks. I have spent much time in my years as a teacher out in nature with my students. I was fortunate that my school held the philosophy that "outside" was learning, and the more hours the better. Students kept field journals, learned to identify so many animals and plants, made ongoing observations, etc. Now I think that some of this work is due to the long ago work of Anna Comstock, a person I'm sorry to admit I've never heard of.

    Monday, September 11, 2017

    One More Time and Tiny Slices

    Join us on Tuesdays with the Two Writing Teachers and others who post. 
      The afternoon knows what the morning never expected. ~ old Swedish saying

            The last time I wrote on Tuesday was to take a moment to consider the help that was/will be needed for those who were devastated by Hurricane Harvey. Yes, just two weeks ago. Now, it's time for us to add our help to those in the path of Hurricane Irma. Oh, what a frightening weekend this past one was for many in her path! I am happy that those I know in the Caribbean and in Florida are okay. Some do not have power, but they have had little to no damage to their homes.
                 I realize that others are not so fortunate. In that recent post, I spoke of my goal to find schools and libraries that needed help, and one friend from Houston has shared that her older children's high school and middle school are okay, but the younger daughter's elementary was destroyed, and it won't reopen in another site for two more weeks. I have and will continue to help them, and will see if those in Florida have a specific need, too. In the midst of these busy start-of-school days, Mother Nature has once again forced us to take notice, but in an un-gentle way! I am hoping that Captiva Island has not been hit too hard by Irma!
                 And Monday I spent some time watching the ceremonies to remember those who died on 9/11. After sixteen years, I know that many of us remember and remember and remember with sorrow.

             I feel very busy, yet little has changed except I've had a few extra things to do, like manage to get an arborist and crew in to trim my old and needy cottonwood tree or call a plumber to fix a minor problem. I've also made a few regular doctor appointments, managed to get my hair cut and train some new volunteers (The bookstore schedule is nearly full!). I snatch every moment I can to read and write. I have a story and several poems I'm working on and excited about. And in my usual week, Ingrid and Imogene are regular visitors. Some days, it feels as if my life fills with the tiniest of sliced hours, but each part is sweet, just like my summer beach time and that key lime pie, of course!

      It's Monday - Reading Recap

                    Visit Jen at Teach MentorTexts and Kellee and Ricki at UnleashingReaders to discover books you'll love! Thanks to Jen, Kellee and Ricki who share so much from their own reading lives and support this meme, too.
                I am checking on Kellee on FB who lives in the Orlando area, and the last time she posted, they were waiting for the storm, bunking down in an inner hallway. Best wishes to Kellee and all those affected by Hurricane Irma.
                            tweet #IMWAYR

                I've read this wonderful book by Neil Gaiman more than once in the past, and each time with smiles and sighs, along with some holding-my-breath moments. This time, I had the joy of seeing more than one illustrator respond to Gaiman's beautiful words. The following artists collaborated in this graphic novel:  P. Craig Russell--Adaptor & IllustratorKevin NowlanTony Harris, Scott HamptonGalen ShowmanJill ThompsonStephen B. Scott Illustrator , David Lafuente--all Illustrators, and Andrea Plazzi (translator). The book is published in two volumes, or combined into one, the one I read. Each volume has different parts, stories within stories really. It's wonderful to see the different ghosts that I only imagined before, to see Bod growing up and to have a visual of the graveyard itself in its kind, then frightening, beauty. If you haven't read this story, I do recommend it, but also if you can, get the graphic novel! Like all Gaiman books, it's a treat!

             I read lots of great picture books again this past week. Here are some favorites:

               In gorgeous paintings that remind me of the expressionists, a cat’s owner dies and he is taken with her belongings to her birthplace, but everyone forgets he’s there. He decides he must travel to the place he’s always called home, the one where he could “feel the softness of the bluegrass that grew behind the stone house by the edge of the sea.” One can spot certain landmarks as he travels, like the Eiffel Tower. There are other things he remembers, and as we follow this poignant journey, it’s wonderful to see the happy ending.

      Thursday, September 7, 2017

      My Last Wonderful Swap

            Poetry Friday is hosted today by Matt Forrest Esendwine at Radio, Rhythm & Rhyme who happens to be in the midst of book events at bookstores so he can share his new book, Flashlight Night, illustrated by Fred Koehler. It's not out for a little while, but I've already found it at my library! Thanks, Matt! Celebrate, celebrate!
           And, once again,  we must give support for those fleeing or who must endure the coming new Hurricane Erma. Also, I am saddened by the news of so many fires in the northwest. We in Denver are well aware of those disasters because the smoke has been hovering over the city for days. It's time to step up and help however we can. 

             When one takes time to talk with people, the discoveries can be enlightening and simply wonderful. I just spoke with a cashier with whom I visit often when grocery shopping and discovered today that her grandmother has written an autobiography about her work in Tibet. I know this cashier grew up in Hawaii and migrated to the mainland, but did not know of her rich heritage until this week. I tell you this because the summer swap created by Tabatha Yeatts pushes us to look more closely at those we are sending swaps to, and while reading their posts, examining the words and pictures shared, we learn a little more about them. 

      Wednesday, September 6, 2017


                 Several years ago, Carrie Gelson of There's A Book for That and Maria Selke of Maria's Melange started us down the path of giving love to all the books that came before, the ones we have on shelves, but still haven't read! There is a small group of us who began sharing lists titled #MustReadIn2014.  My list is now #MustReadIn2017, a few from the previous lists. You can see #MustReadIn2016 above, too.
              Thanks for hosting, Carrie!  Find the latest group update HERE!

      Here are the books I've read, and am now starting the graphic novel of Neil Gaiman's The Graveyard Book. I've loved this story, love all Gaiman's work, so bought this a long time ago. And guess what? It's kept sinking to the bottom of the pile. This time, I will read it, number 14 on my list of 26. You can see the entire list above on the bar under the header.

                The best ones, the ones you should not miss: all of them! If you want to read more about each, check my Goodreads reviews. I placed them on the list because I read the many reviews by the people who share the books they read for the Monday Reading meme hosted by Kellee Moye, Ricki Ginsberg and Jen Vincent or Horn Book or on Goodreads, etc. And I already know that you love them, so I should, too! Thank you all!