Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Slice of Life: A Peek Inside

Today I join my fellow bloggers in "serving up a slice" 
to the Tuesday Slice of Life (SOL) community.
Thanks to Stacey, Betsy, Dana, BethAnna, Kathleen, and Deb
                   for hosting this meeting place each Tuesday and nurturing our writing lives.

June is on the horizon.  Its imminent arrival conjures up childhood memories of endless days stretching before me, with hours to read sprawled in the den with the noisy room air conditioner accompanying my summer journeys.  I no longer feel that any season posseses endless days.  But I head for the deck, book in hand, lunch on tray, and hope in my heart to savor summer's precious days.  While our local library is undergoing planned renovations, our bookish community is relegated to a small space in a local church (with a few computer stations) where we can pick up holds and return books.  

Sunday evening and 
time for a walk.
The parking lot is still open
even though the library doors 
are ringed by yellow tape
and "hard hat area" signs.  

I stroll familiar streets
 spying my favorite shade of
springtime yellow green leaves
framed against a blue sky.
My heart fills
with happiness for
the beauty of this world.

I return from my walk
and take the shaded path
that curves around two sides 
of our library.

I peer inside
happy to see that
renovations have begun. 
I hope for a prompt completion
of planned changes and a 
reopening in July
(fingers crossed)
for my favorite island
gathering place.

Carpet is gone,
books are protected, 
and imagination reigns
as leafy reflections frame
endless possibilities for 
summer journeys within 
the pages of a book.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Celebrate This Week

 Join us each weekend for Celebrate This Week with Ruth Ayres. 
                                                             When we pause to celebrate, we find the joy.
Discover. Play. Build.
A week filled with moments to celebrate and remember. 

1.  Michael saved the day!
I created a secret Facebook page for my sister's milestone birthday.  I contacted family and friends requesting that they post memories and pics on the page.  I was hoping for at least 70 posts.  But it was my nephew Michael who stepped up and added many memories and pics on Sunday that helped us reach that significant number in time for her birthday on Monday.
Thanks, Michael!  
Michael and Kay (his mom, my sis)
2.  Thank you, Facebook!
I try hard not to get sucked into FB.  But I'm glad that I clicked on FB Monday morning
and saw the reminder about Janet Wong's presentation at the Sammamish Library.
You can read about it on my Poetry Friday post.  

3.  Thank you, Sara!
Sara came over on Friday and we tackled more paper piles.
I'm always thankful for her help.

4.  Red winged blackbirds, and ducks, and herons, oh my!
I was planning to join Sara for a walk in the wetlands this morning.
So I just showed up a bit earlier and made pancakes before
Will left on his hike and we left on our walk.  
It's wet and rainy, but I loved seeing and hearing lots of birds.
Heron from the bridge

Heron from the grass

Heron in flight

Friday, May 20, 2016

Poetry Friday: Family Stories with Janet Wong

for today's round-up of poetic goodness!
Thanks, Margaret, for hosting this week.

When this invitation appeared on my Facebook feed on Monday, I checked my calendar and made plans to join Janet Wong at the Sammamish Library that evening.  I popped into the meeting room fifteen minutes before the workshop started, and Janet mentioned that I might get a one-on-one workshop with her.  
It was not to be.  Before we knew it, the tables filled with young students and their parents, a high school student, a Friends of the Library member, the teen librarian, and me - all eager to learn how to share our family stories from this master teacher.     

It didn't take long for Janet to open her giant suitcase.  Students selected objects and Janet's stories began filling the room.  Then she invited us to stroll over to the "story window," choose a topic and find a partner for story sharing.  
After this delightful round of storytelling, we gathered once again and learned about platforms for publishing our stories.  Soon it was time to write a story or poem (either our own or the one our partner shared).  And then each participant met with Janet for a one-on-one writing conference.   
If the student was willing, the piece was shared with the entire group.  After this conference, each writer chose a book and lined up to get the book autographed.  
As I continued to write, I overheard Janet speaking with a student about a rock and a library.  Hey, that was my story!   I jumped up to read my partner Helena's poem, took a picture of her and Janet together, met her mom, and obtained permission to share her poem and picture.


Kicking a stone one day
Park in front of the library
Go in and get a few books
Kick it to the drug store
Get a cone on the way back home.
-Helena Zheng

A sweltering Oklahoma summer day,
two friends meet under a large oak tree
clutching their summer lifelines.
They begin the trek,
1.3 miles each way,
early morning is best.
Each select a rock to kick,
to propel them onward,
to quicken their pace.
Rocks are parked,
stairs are summited,
lifelines are returned.
They emerge,
laden with 
new treasures,
a stack
to savor.
Their return trek-
sweetened by a cool ice cream cone
from Rexall Drugstore
and on arrival home
tales to fill an afternoon! 
- Ramona Behnke

It was the best of times - a room filled with people eager to share and write their family stories, all under the tutelage of someone who cares deeply about nurturing writers in today's world.  I'm thrilled that I stumbled across Janet's reminder on Facebook.  And now I'm looking forward to an exciting event at Western Washington University this fall with Janet and more friends of poetry! 

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Slice of Life: It's a Small World!

Today I join my fellow bloggers in "serving up a slice" 
to the Tuesday Slice of Life (SOL) community.
Thanks to Stacey, Tara, Betsy, Dana, BethAnna, Kathleen, and Deb
                   for hosting this meeting place each Tuesday and nurturing our writing lives.

I struggled about which poems to share at last Thursday night's poetry reading in our indie bookstore, Island Books.  My focus was children's poetry.  My daughter advised, "Choose three books and just share from them."  I ended up with four anthologies - Reflections on a Gift of Watermelon Pickle, Whisper and Shout, The 20th-Century Children's Poetry Treasury, and A Family of Poems.  I filled all four books with sticky notes indicating my favorite poems.  And then I walked by my dining room table, covered with poems that I also wanted to share.  I decided to use those since I would be able to move the poems around easily and could decide on an order that I liked for my presentation.  Done!  And then I practiced.  Doggone it!  I was only halfway through the poems I wanted to share when my ten minutes of time elapsed.  I started tossing, making tough decisions, and reordering.  I'm sure that if I did it today, I would make different  choices.  
Here are the poems in the order I chose to share them for Thursday's presentation:

"Ode to Pablo's Tennis Shoes" by Gary Soto
"Knoxville, Tennessee" by Nikki Giovanni
"Lemonade" by Rebecca Kai Doltish
"Three Words" by Douglas Florian
"It Must be September" by Tracie Vaughn Zimmer
"The Ones They Loved the Most" by Janet S. Wong
"Sun" by Valerie Worth
"Wake Up" by Zaro Weil
"S'Mores" by Gregory K. Pincus
"Toasting Marshmallows" by Kristine O'Connell George
"Reading Is Dangerous" by Tony Johnston
"One Moment in Time" by Ramona Behnke
"Sifter" by Naomi Shihab Nye

And now it's time to explain my "small world" title for this post.  Two of the poems I shared "S'Mores" and "Toasting Marshmallows" were part of a poetry tag that we did in my classroom several years ago.  "S'Mores" was posted by Mitchell Woolston who had been tagged by someone whose poem mentioned fire.  Mitchell wrote that fire made him think of s'mores.  Mitchell tagged Emil Talerman who followed up with the poem "Toasting Marshmallows."  (Sylvia Vardell explains poetry tag in this March 2011 article in Book Links.)  When our poet organizer for the evening, David Horowitz, took the podium, he commented that he works in a law firm with Mitchell's dad, and that Mitchell is currently a sophomore in high school.  How amazing is that?   Linking poems and linking people - the best possible way to stay connected in today's world!

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Celebrate This Week: A Week's Vacation!

 Join us each weekend for Celebrate This Week with Ruth Ayres. 
                                                             When we pause to celebrate, we find the joy.
Discover. Play. Build.
A week filled with moments to celebrate and remember. 

1.  Sunshine
We've enjoyed days and days of sunshine.
It's glorious to wake to the sun streaming
through the window, to walk with friends,
and to notice the beauty in our world.  
This crying tree was discovered
by Jan on one of our recent walks. 

2.  Clouds
We've lived in the Northwest for almost twenty years.
I'm thrilled that our extended ten day forecast shows
clouds and rain for every single day with only two 
days when the sun might peek through the clouds.
And no more days of 80+ degree weather.
(That's worrisome in May.)
I guess celebrating rain and clouds makes
me a true citizen of the Northwest.

3.  Poetry Reading
I was invited by a local poet to participate in 
an evening at Island Books.  I agonized over what to share
in my allotted ten minutes on the program.
My daughter said to focus on just three books -
an impossible task.  So I took a bin of books (36)
and shared poems from some of my favorite children's authors.
What I didn't anticipate was how much I would enjoy
the rest of the evening after being asked to go first.
We heard from Christopher Jamick, author of Not Aloud;
Laura Totten, teacher and founder of the high school Poetry Club;
and David D. Horowitz, author of Cathedral and Highrise.
(Laura, Christopher, David, and me)
I'm looking forward to connecting Laura's high school
Poetry Club to our middle school book club.

4.  Embracing the Slow at Books, Brownies, and Beyond
Maybe it's the call of the sun, maybe it's the time of the 
school year, maybe it's due to the past two weeks of state testing,
but our numbers at book club have dwindled recently.  
Our attendees have been in single digits and we've enjoyed
our time together in new ways - reading alone, sharing titles,
chatting with friends, and looking at poetry books together. 
This past week, Elsa, Katie, and I explored my blog
trying to figure out how to add "tags" to my entries
(something I've wanted to do for a long time).  
It turns out they're called "labels" in blogspot. 
Elsa kept a running list of labels we created and
even sent me a list of entries with original poetry. 

5.  A Week's Vacation!
Yes, I'm taking a week off from subbing.  It's been a busy spring
and I'm looking forward to diving back into some 
neglected projects at home and enjoying a bit more time to read. 
I'm reading Rules for Books, Brownies, and Beyond,
My Brilliant Friend for our quarterly google chat book club
(with two friends who've moved away),
The Shepherd's Life for my monthly book club,
and Bettyville just for fun.  

Friday, May 13, 2016

Poetry Friday: Discovering a New-to-Me Title

Head over to Violet Nesdoly/poems for today's round-up of poems.
Thanks to Violet for hosting this week.

One of the things I love about our library system in King County is that it's easy to visit libraries different from my home library.  And while I don't visit other libraries very often, a few weeks ago found me at Costco and close to the Issaquah library.  I stopped by, eager to pick up a few poetry books for my after school book club that might be different from the ones I checked out every year from our home library.  It's always fun to explore a new (to me) title, like the one pictured below.  

This title is City Kids:  Street and Skyscraper Rhymes by X. J. Kennedy with illustrations by Philippe Beha.  I believe it was the colorful spine that inspired me to pull it off the shelf (and the name recognition of X. J. Kennedy).  It was published in 2010, but this was my first encounter with the book.  It's why I always encourage a stop by the 811's when you visit the library.  

You can always find a new friend or two on the shelf!  

The table of contents is set up like subway lines with the
titles of the poems listed beside the subway stops (page numbers).  
I liked "soggy morning" and the illustration on the opposite page.  

The next time you find yourself in a different library, be sure to stop by the 811's.
You may discover a new-to-you book of poetry!

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Slice of Life: My Favorite Newspaper Section!

Today I join my fellow bloggers in "serving up a slice" 
to the Tuesday Slice of Life (SOL) community.
Thanks to Stacey, Tara, Betsy, Dana, BethAnna, Kathleen, and Deb
                   for hosting this meeting place each Tuesday and nurturing our writing lives.

Each Friday I look forward to the a special pullout section,
Weekend Plus, of our local newspaper.

It includes a restaurant section with reviews for Dining Deals and Happy Hour, calendars and reviews for Nightlife, Concert Hall, Visual Arts, a movie section, a datebook for all kinds of events around the Sound and my favorite section - Readings, which includes a book review and author visits for the upcoming week.  There's always at least one book reading that I want to attend and usually a conflict that prevents me from going.  This week I spotted two Saturday events that I wanted to attend:  the first at Town Hall, "Listen to Your Mother, Seattle," featuring local writers in celebration of all aspects of motherhood, original readings performed live onstage by their authors; and the second event a free author discussion and signing at the Burien Library - Dan Gemeinhart, author of The Honest Truth and Some Kind of Courage.  We read The Honest Truth this fall in our after school book club.  Wouldn't you know it?  Both events occurred at the same time, and I was already booked for Saturday.  

I scanned the rest of the week and that's when I saw it . . . my own name!  I was aghast, there was someone else in the Seattle area with my name!  And then I remembered . . . I am participating in a poetry reading on Thursday at my favorite indie bookstore in our community.  One of the poets contacted me and asked me to participate.  I told him that I would be happy to share favorite children's poems.  So there should be a little footnote to this announcement (poets read their work and poetry-loving Islander/retired teacher shares favorite poems for children).   I'm so excited for this opportunity.  My challenge is how to pick which poems to share from the hundreds (maybe even thousands) of poems I love!