Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Slice of Life: Tuesday Afternoon Bliss!

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.

When I saw Betsy's post yesterday about her OLW (One Little Word), I was reminded that today is a 5th Tuesday - my own designated time to reflect on my OLW.  This year I'm having a bit of a tough journey with my OLW, abide.  So today, I'm postponing that post and sharing instead a bit about our after school book club.  It's that time of year when we're a little less organized.  We're post-test season, and finishing up our last round of book clubs.  It's tough to get everyone focused on discussing a specific book after a full day at school, but when we do, I'm amazed at the insight exhibited by my book-loving friends.  Last week we discussed Hope Was Here by Joan Bauer, and this week we discussed Rules by Cynthia Lord.

We started our discussion of Rules by exploring the Schneider Family Book Award.  Some of the winning titles that members of our club have read and enjoyed include:  Fish in a Tree by Lynda Mullally Hunt, The War that Saved My Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley, Rain, Reign by Ann Martin, Rose Under Fire by Elizabeth Wein, Wonderstruck by Brian Selznick, Reaching for Sun by Tracie Vaughn Zimmer, Small Steps by Louis Sachar, Becoming Naomi Leon by Pam Munoz Ryan, and  A Mango Shaped Space by Wendy Mass.  It's affirming to see the empathy and compassion that students feel as they read these books that feature characters with special needs. 

Several students had read Opehlia and the Marvelous Boy by Karen Foxlee.  Their interesting discussion has me adding this title to my summer reading list.  I'm intrigued by the image of the girl peeking through a keyhole who sees another eye looking back at her.   And this review from Goodreads should pique your interest:  "It really is a modern-day fairy tale, reminiscent of Roald Dahl, with a touch of Grimm Brothers, engaging like the Narnia books." 

We only have three remaining Tuesdays of this school year to meet and share book bliss.  We plan to  visit our elementary schools to distribute flyers to 5th graders about two summer meetings in July and August, and to invite the rising 6th graders to join us next year for Tuesday afternoon bliss as we share book love and sometimes an occasional brownie or cookie bar.  

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Celebrate This Week: Babies & Blossoms & Memorial Day

 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.  Another baby shower and impending Grandma status!  
Our small congregation will be welcoming three new babies in June.  We're so excited.
At Helen's shower, we decided on the name Charlotte,
and that baby girl should be called Lottie.
We'll see what her parents decide.    
And June is when my first grandchild,
Baby Boy Behnke arrives.

2.  Finally joined a colleague for Friday morning fun!
That's when she watches her granddaughter.
We went for a walk, looked at the flowers, sang songs, read books, and posed for pics.  

3.  Memorial Day remembrances!
I celebrate and honor all those who've served our country.  
My brother has this memory box with Dad's medals and this inscription:  
Ellis Scifres
United States Army
Prisoner of War
Dec. 16, 1944 - April 17, 1945
I loved hearing Dad tell the story of how he and another soldier took off on foot when they were liberated.   They made their way across France, were fed by French farmers who let them sleep in their barns, somehow got across the channel, and then on board ship for the United States.
Dad arrived home in Oklahoma on May 19, 1945.
I wish we could sit down together today for stories and burgers and homemade ice cream. 

Friday, May 27, 2016

Poetry Friday: Concrete Poetry

Head over to The Drift Record
for today's round-up of poetic goodness!
Thanks, Julie, for hosting this week.

I'm still reading a few books of poetry that I checked out in April for National Poetry Month.  I've returned most of the books, but saved a few back that I hadn't read yet.  This week I explored Bob Raczka's new book, Wet Cement:  A Mix of Concrete Poems.  It's as delightful as his other books.  
It was difficult to choose my favorite poems since I loved all of them.  But I forced myself to choose three.  My favorite has to be "Dipper" with these exquisite words:  "...I'm a vessel of stars, my brim overflowing with the night."  I love the rhythm in "Dominoes,"  a perfect poem for teaching the importance of syllables in poetry.   The third poem I chose is "Lightning."  A perfect glimpse of "...a  bad mood sky," zigzagging its way down to the "...cloud tantrum."  I tried taking pictures of the poems, but they don't do justice to the creative images painted on the page by Bob.  

So I'll leave you with this page from the beginning of the book.  Be sure to read his last paragraph and invitation:  "I hope these poems make you smile.  I hope they make you look at words in a fresh way.  Most of all, I hope they make you want to play with words yourself."   
And now you simply must request this book from your local library or visit your indie bookstore to obtain your own copy so you can savor every single page.  It's sure to provide summer fun that will inspire poetic play. 

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.