Saturday, November 29, 2014

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.  A stop by the Stenhouse booth at NCTE
I jokingly told Chandra Lowe that I could open my own Stenhouse bookstore
as I circled the booth chanting, "Got it, got it, got it."  She replied that she knew I would succumb to the call of a new book.  She was right.  I purchased Poetry Mentor Textsand Chandra shared her Trader Joe peanut butter cups with me.  
Perfect combo - book love and chocolate love.

2.  An expert packer and loan of a bag
My son Blake helped me pack my books so nothing would get bent
 and even let me borrow one of his Tom Bihn bags to haul my treasures home.  

3.  Bathroom art
No, not graffiti.
Our plane arrived in Seattle 45 minutes early!  
I discovered beautiful art outside the restroom near baggage claim  
and wondered where the rest of the collection was displayed. 

Yes, the rest of the alphabet was in the women's restroom
(still wondering it there's a set in the men's restroom too)!

4.  Bellevue Regional Library
I dropped my husband at the dentist and headed to the library where I found a pristine copy of Janet Wong's Minn and Jake at the Friends of the Library bookstore.  While I meandered around the library, I discovered the bookmark for You Choose the Next Newbery at KCLS.  I've already read Brown Girl Dreaming and The Meaning of Maggie.  I can't wait to read each of the titles chosen by KCLS children's librarians before the winner is announced in January.   Even though I'm retired, I'm hoping to lead an after school book club to explore these titles with students!
What other titles do you think 
are possibilities for the 2015 Newbery Award?

Brown Girl Dreaming
The Ghosts of Tupelo Landing
The Fourteenth Goldfish
The Meaning of Maggie
Rain, Reign
The Crossover
West of the Moon
5.  Continued fall color
Two trips in November...each time I was frightened
that all the leaves would be gone by the time I returned,
but I'm still enjoying brilliant displays.

6.  Writing by the light of the Christmas tree
A big thank you to Ryan and Lance for setting up the tree for me.
It's not decorated yet, but a lighted tree fills me with delight.

7.  SNOW!
Our Saturday sprinkling of snow in Seattle!

Friday, November 28, 2014

And I Love the Rain!

Welcome to Poetry Friday, a weekly celebration for poets and poetry lovers.  Be sure to get your taste of poetry love today at Carol's Corner.  Thanks, Carol, for hosting at this very busy time of year.

When we moved to the Northwest, I learned to embrace the rain.  I composed this haiku in celebration of the liquid jewels pattering our deck this morning.

Murmuring raindrops
Bare branches shimmer in puddles
Gentle refreshment

-Ramona Behnke

When I checked out books for the Poetry Box project last month, I rediscovered a favorite anthology, One Big Rain:  Poems for Rainy Days compiled by Rita Gray.  It celebrates rain through the seasons of the year and begins with autumn.  One of my favorite poems is "November Rain" by Maud E. Uschold.   She captures an image that I love in these lines from the poem:

"Trees and bushes, 
Nearly bare
Of leaves, now chains
Of raindrops wear

Along each twig."

You can read the entire poem in the book, One Big Rain:  Poems for Rainy Days.   Swing by Wild Rose Reader for Elaine Magliaro's excellent review and some of Elaine's rain poems.   

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

NCTE - Friday Wrap-Up!

Today I join my fellow bloggers in "serving up a slice" 
to the Tuesday Slice of Life sponsored by
I entered the massive hotel so early that the conference center was virtually empty.  There was no one around to direct me.  Since I'm directionally and map reading challenged, I looked for someone who might know where they were going.  I spotted two ladies and asked if they were attending NCTE.  They replied affirmatively.  I learned they were also planning to attend the First Timer's Breakfast.  I followed them.  Once we were seated at our table, I joined one of them to go downstairs to check in and pick up a name badge holder.  With my name prominently displayed around my neck, my new friend inquired, "Aren't you a slicer?"  It was Aileen Hower,  a fellow slicer.  Soon we were joined by another first time attender of NCTE, Kim Dooele.  We quickly found many points of  connection:  she completed the 31 Day Slicing Challenge in March, she posts to Poetry Friday, and she loves books and poetry as much as I do.  We spent our first two sessions of the day together and met up later in the day for another session together.

Here a few quick takeaways from my Friday sessions:

Literary Models and Mentor Texts to Teach the Craft of Writing
  • Writers can borrow from a text in many ways:  writing topics, personal connections, characters, new plot lines, a character trait, language patterns, literary themes, genre elements, or author's style.
  •  Ruth Calham - I reread books because I'm not finished learning from them yet.   It takes many reads to really get it.
Harnessing the Power of Narrative, Visual Art, and Lyrical Storytelling in Informational Books
  • Jen Bryant - Research is a journey, a discovery, an adventure.  
  • Personal note:  I recently discovered Bryant's Georgia's Bones, a new favorite. 
  • Melissa Sweet - When I look at archival material, I'm looking for details and clues that become part of the design.  She showed us how Balloons Over Broadway is all about movement.
  • Cynthia Grady - Research is an exploration of ideas that involves going from question to question, meandering and enjoying the process.  
Writing Teachers Write:  Journeys into Digital Composition
  • I glanced across the room and spotted Tara Smith.  I immediately knew her, even though we had never met in person before. 
  • I soon realized that this session was filled with fellow bloggers who may have been drawn to the session as I was by slicer presenters Cathy Mere and Julie Johnson.  I enjoy Cathy's poetry and posts.  Julie's post last February about the Poetry Box led me to contact Kevin Cordi and the opportunity to host the Poetry Box in October.  It was so fun to meet both of them.  
Knowing Stories:  How Published Authors and Student Writers Improve Their Craft through the Use of Mentor Texts
  • Jeff Anderson - When we want to do something well, we study it.
The Lessons Poetry Teaches:  A Doorway into Writing
  • Georgia Heard - Poetry can be the doorway for students to become fluent, competent writers.  
  • Rebecca Kai Dotlich - Tools of the craft make up the playground of poetry.
  • Paul Janeczko - Unless we read poetry, we will never have our hearts broken by language.
I wrapped up the day with a visit to the exhibit hall with Tara Smith where we luckily obtained copies of Fish in a Tree after one of the salespersons found a few extra copies in a cupboard.  I also discovered The Story Blanket, a delightful picture book at the Peachtree Booth.

Best Part of the Day:  Meeting and learning from authors. bloggers, and speakers
Worst Part of the Day:  Deciding which session to attend when you want to be three places at once

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Posting Sunday night from DC

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!

I'm glad that we can now post anytime during the weekend:

1.  I loved my first NCTE!

2.  It was delightful to meet friends that I know from the blogging world
and enjoy dinner with many slicer friends. 

3.  I had a fabulous time at Hotel Behnke complete with
my own chauffeur to and from the conference each day.

4.  I spent today with Stefi and Blake.  I attended my son  Blake's Sunday School class of 8 six and seven year olds (7 boys, 1 girl)!   We sang and danced to the Turkey Pokey.  I was amazed by student engagement as he taught via an iPad.  As they answered questions to reveal a picture of the risen Christ, my son quipped that the clouds reminded him of an impressionist painting.  One of the students replied that he had painted a Claude Monet. We also discussed whether you'll look like a zombie when you're resurrected (student initiated question)!

Friday, November 21, 2014

Shouting for Joy!

  "Welcome, Baby King of the Universe - 
    By your light I see..."
                                   by Marilyn Nelson

Be sure to stop by Tapestry of Words for this week's taste of poetry love.  Thank you, Betsy, for hosting this week and for your delightful round-up poem!

This week I popped into Island Books to see if they had Manger, Lee Bennett Hopkins' new anthology of poems.  They didn't have it, but assured me they could get it in a day or two.  When it arrived yesterday, I got an email from the owner, instead of the usual phone call notifying me that the book was in.  I like to think that Roger stopped and read my copy when it arrived, and that he immediately ordered 25 copies for the store.  I'm tucking my copy into my bag for NCTE and hoping to get some autographs from poets at the convention.

If you're a crazy collector of Christmas books like me, then call your favorite indie bookstore and place your order.  I first learned about the book at Amy's Poetry Friday post in September.  The poems are written by the animals in celebration of the Savior's birth.  You'll fall in love with the lavish illustrations by Helen Cann.  You'll celebrate the birth of Christ with the animals and the poets.  You'll need to buy copies for all your friends!

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

A Baker's Dozen +1 or Avoidance Techniques 101

Today I join my fellow bloggers in "serving up a slice" 
to the Tuesday Slice of Life sponsored by
I'm a master at procrastination - read through this list to see what I'm avoiding:

 1.   Renew library books online.
 2.   Text my daughter - Does she want a gift subscription to Real Simple?
 3.   Write note to husband about Saturday's appt.
 4.   Post Sat. appt. on the calendar.
 5.   Text my brother - We're checking in daily about our exercise.
 6.   Grab a handful of chocolate chips from the top shelf in the pantry.
 7.   Order vitamins that I can't procure locally.
 8.   List the sections I need to write for tomorrow's meeting.
 9.   Clean the litter box.
10.  Bring in cat carrier from garage (so it won't be too cold for Ms. Hadley).
11.  Put a towel in the dryer so her carrier will be warm and cozy when we head to the vet.
12.  Phone Mary to confirm L's Sat. appt.
13.  Take the cat to the vet.
14.  Write my SOL.

Can you tell what I need to DO when I get back from the vet?

WRITE the sections for tomorrow's meeting.  And the purpose of the meeting?  My former principal  asked me to introduce slice of life to some of the 6th grade teachers!  So no more time for slicing, instead it's BIC (butt in chair) time.  I borrowed that acronym from Jane Yolen, but I know it's been around for awhile.

Day after tomorrow, I head to DC for my first NCTE convention.  Isn't it a shame that I never made it there while I was in the classroom?  I can't wait to bump into some of you and to attend some of your sessions!

Saturday, November 15, 2014

CELEBRATE this week!

Join us each Saturday 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!

Winding up my week in Oklahoma with lots of pictures -

1.  Time with family 
We celebrated Leah's 3rd birthday, and I met my newest great-nephew, Asher.

2.  More time with friends and family
Best friends since 7th grade - Jan, Susan, and me
Abby (a friend's daughter from WA attending Tulsa University)
and her roommate joined our group for dinner.
My brother didn't mind at all that he was the only guy in our group of seven.
After all he's an only brother with three sisters.  
The next morning Susan met us at the care center
for a quick visit with Patsy (Udder Mudder).
Then I made Jan stop so I could take
these pics of fall color at the airport exit.  
Here's her sublime pose . . . 
and her ridiculous pose. 
So glad she hasn't changed a bit in the almost 50 years that I've known her!

3.  Home and more gorgeous leaves 
I  loved every moment of my Oklahoma trip,
 but nothing beats coming home, 
especially to fall splendor like this.  

Friday, November 14, 2014

Inspired by my friend and fellow blogger, Betsy

When I hopped on the bus, I grabbed my phone to catch up on some blog posts.  After reading just one post, Betsy's at Two Writing Teachers, I pulled out my writer's notebook instead.  And this morning I'm setting the timer for 30 minutes.  

Surprised by an offer of senior space, I take a seat
I follow moving white lights whizzing by homeward bound
I follow moving red lights bound for the city
I follow white lights, almost stationary, threading their way home.
I look around me, people sit silenced by devices in hand,
Plugged in, but not connecting.
I'm surprised by the quiet and 
the total darkness at so early an hour 
Lights twinkle at the edge of the water
Beckoning me toward evening pleasure.
The tunnel curves into the bowels of the city
The rounded face of a station beckons,
We pause at a red light
A long red light
Accompanied by the quiet rumble of radio engineers.
Finally we edge toward the face of our first stop
No one disembarks, we add one passenger
The vacuum door closes with a whoosh
We wait and watch the red lights ahead
They disappear and finally we ease forward. 
Only to stop and wait again at another red light
We move forward to 
Another stop, six get off, a few get on
We stop and wait again,
An occasional female voice breaks the silence to 
Announce the next station
As we ease forward, pulled by the light.

This draft was completed in 22 minutes.  Thanks, Betsy, for inviting me to write a poem. Your voice  was so powerful that I had no choice but to respond.  And thanks for our slow progress which provided time to reflect and write.

Keri Collins Lewis at Keri Recommends is hosting Poetry Friday today.  Thanks for hosting, Keri, during this difficult time for you.  Be sure to stop by for today's taste of poetry love.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

A Slow Oklahoma Morning

Today I join my fellow bloggers in "serving up a slice" 
to the Tuesday Slice of Life sponsored by
I'm sitting at my BFF's kitchen table.  She's not up yet, but it won't be long.  Topher, her college-age son, is cooking breakfast.  We're listening to Michael Hedges ("old" new age folk), and Rusty (her German Shephard/Lab) is sitting at my feet.  He made a quick foray outside, but his pleading eyes appeared soon at the sliding door.  The arctic blast arrived as predicted with a 30 degree drop in temperature.  It's really not that arctic, but they've had practically no cool weather this fall, so 45 degrees is a big change for them.   No more time to slice because she just got up.  We have a slow, cozy morning planned, a visit to "udder mudder" (her mom),  and a late afternoon flight for me.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Where the wind comes sweeping down the plain...

Join us each Saturday 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!

So many moments to savor this week:

A cherished week long trip to Oklahoma
 Getting lost in my book on the flight
Shopping at Dillards and a road trip with my BFF to McAlester
Road tripping with Karl to Ardmore with a full moon to savor all the way home
Visiting my niece Kara's 4th grade classroom and dinner at a Mexican restaurant
Sharing meals with family and friends
Bucky and Elaine, good friends since elementary school

Dortha, good friend for 50+ years
My brother Karl and his wife Kathy
Cutest couple ever!
Blue skies and sunshine

Friday, November 7, 2014

Two 4th grade classrooms separated by 50 years!

 "Poetry is a rhythmical piece of writing that leaves
 the reader feeling that life is a little richer than before,
a little more full of wonder, beauty, or just plain delight."
-Aileen Fisher

Stop by Diane's blog at Random Noodling for this week's taste of Poetry Love. 

 We said goodbye to Percy this week and shipped the Poetry Box to its next stop in Utah.  

I'm visiting my brother in Oklahoma, and yesterday he drove me 2 1/2 hours so I could visit my niece Kara's 4th grade classroom.  My stack of books for the classroom visit included the book I was currently reading, my writer's notebook, and a picture book to share with the students.
When I shared some of the poems from my writer's notebook with them, Kara's students clamored to share a poem with me.  I was delighted with their recitation of "Fall" by Aileen Fisher The repeated phrase "the last of October" in Fisher's poem was a perfect segue into the picture book that I brought to share, In November by Cynthia Rylant, a book rich in poetic language.  

My time in Kara's classroom reminded me of my 4th grade teacher, Mrs. Lewallen, who taught for 40 years and required us to memorize many poems.  I know that my life was made richer during the year I spent with her.   I wish I could share with her the joy that poetry continues to bring into my life.  She would love Poetry Friday!

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Percy (passionate promoter of poetry) pens a farewell post!

Today I join my fellow bloggers in "serving up a slice" 
to the Tuesday Slice of Life sponsored by
Hi, I'm Percy, the poetry loving penguin.
I couldn't resist this opportunity to pen one more post about
my adventures in Washington because today I fly to Utah!

Tuesday I visited Ms. Moore's and Ms. Gaffney's classrooms.  Every student shared a poem they finished for the Poetry Box.  Wow!  I loved listening to their contributions to the growing collection of poems traveling around the country.

Thursday I discovered this Carl Sandburg quote about poetry:  "Poetry is the journal of a sea animal living on land, wanting to fly in the air."  I was perusing the pages of The Poetry Friday Anthology for Middle School compiled by Sylvia Vardell and Janet Wong (hey, I met her last month)!  This book has many poems by poets who contributed to The Poetry Box.

Monday everything was a flurry of activity as Mrs. B. sorted poems by author, located air pillows to cushion me for this adventure, and readied the box for today's travels.  

But Saturday was the high point of the week!  I spent the afternoon at Island Books with poets and poetry lovers.  Mrs. B. kept reminding me that it was the day after Halloween so there might not be a huge turnout for my farewell party.  (She keeps reminding me that it was the Poetry Box's party, not my party.)  But remember, I did have a cameo appearance on the flyer!

Three student poets and their families arrived to share poems.  Two of Mrs. B's teacher friends who love poetry stopped by.  I was introduced to Nancy and Lori, children's booksellers and passionate advocates for poetry at Island Books. I met Vikram Madan, local poet and illustrator of The Bubble Collector.  I giggled at his poem "Ogre's Meal (a.k.a. The Toad Not Taken)."

The best moment of the afternoon?  Listening spellbound to Vikram's sonorous words as every person in the bookstore paused to listen to "Curses:  A Villain-elle," perfect for the day after Halloween. 
The icing on the cake for me?  Discovering Vikram's playful business card that features a penguin and a little person savoring a cup of hot chocolate.
And so my friends, adieu.  Hopefully you'll hear more of my
adventures with the Poetry Box in the coming weeks and months.  
 ~ Percy, passionate promoter of poetry

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Bags, Lost Bins, Deer, Percy, and 300 Posts!

Join us each Saturday 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.  I broke in my "after-retirement substituting bag" that I bought ten months ago for less than $15.   My first subbing stint was for Patty in our front office.  
It was fun to spend my first Halloween after retirement 
enjoying the costumes and the fun with no teaching duties attached.

2.  I thought I had returned all the poetry books to the library,
and then I discovered another bin in Janet's room.  
I've said it before, but people who don't lose things cut down on the celebrating 
that occurs when something is found (even if you didn't know it was lost).

3.  My good friend and I stopped on a walk to investigate a lot for sale that is perched on a ravine.  
When we walked to the edge, we discovered this deer who soon joined two others 
munching on the tasty leaves brought down during our recent windstorm.

4.  Percy poses with the Poetry Box and flyer for today's party.  
He's perfectly elated with his cameo picture on the flyer, excited for today's party,
and can't wait to spend several days perusing poems before his arrival in Utah.

5.  Shout outs to Two Writing Teachers, Celebrate this Week, Poetry Friday, 
and my blogger friends who nurture my writing life.
Today marks my 300th post!