Saturday, October 29, 2016

Celebrate This Week: Come Ramble with Me!

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.

Whew!  This has been/is one of those weeks.  I returned from DC on Sunday evening and played catch-up most of the week.

  • I'm celebrating a lovely evening spent with my friend, Anne, at Beautiful:  The Carole King Musical.   I was transported to my college years when Lynn and I religiously listened to Carole's Tapestry album.  And then I made the mistake of counting up how many years ago that was.  I won't share, but it was a bit surprising/horrifying.  How did I get this old?
  • I'm celebrating the creative talents of my friends.  We decorated for Trunk or Treat on Friday evening.  It's a fun annual event that I've been attending for two decades.  It's amazing to watch the transformation from plain church gym to beautiful decorations for this fall event.

  • I'm celebrating my friend, Deborah, who agreed to work three additional days. Then I only had one more day to work for my friend, Patty (who's been  in upstate New York celebrating the birth of her granddaughter).  
  • I'm celebrating words.  I get a M-W's Word of the Day.  Today's word, osculate, is new to me.  It just doesn't seem to fit its meaning, kiss.  Something about kiss is soft, but osculate feels hard.  I was thinking it's maybe the difference with the hard c sound in osculate.  Kiss has that k sound at the beginning, but it's softened by that double ss sound at the end.  Another word I'm celebrating is lagniappe.  The popcorn effect continues as I encountered it last week in Kirby Larson's new book, Liberty.  "She gave them each a B.B. Bats Taffy saying, 'Here's a lagniappe, something extra, to celebrate.'"
  • I'm celebrating connections made in books.  Connections that can carry us from the words of the page into delightful memories from the past.  Kirby Larson's reference to Popular Mechanics magazines in Liberty was a lovely stroll down memory lane for me.  My dad subscribed to Popular Mechanics and kept yearly stacks of the magazines in our attic tied up with twine. 
  • I'm celebrating words and books and a serendipitous discovery after I read this from The Poet's Dog:  "But I grew up with words. . . He read me Charlotte's Web, The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe, Morning Girl, and my favorite story, Ox-Cart Man."  I made a mental note to check out The Ox-Cart Man.   I was curious to see why it was the character's favorite story.  Several days later, I stopped by one of the free libraries in our community and sitting on the shelf was, you guessed it, The Ox-Cart Man!
  • I'm celebrating daughter Sara's baby bump of grandson #2.  He'll be here in a little over three months.  
  • I'm celebrating that it's only three and a half weeks until Teddy and his folks arrive.  Last week's Sunday parting was softened knowing that it would be just a short time until this sweet boy and his smiles (and his parents) would be visiting us for Thanksgiving.  Here's a pic Sara posted on Instagram:  "The evolution of a Teddy smile!  Feeling like the luckiest Aunt in the world the way this sweet boy smiles for me!"

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Slice of Life: Three Doggone Good Books!

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

Let me make one thing perfectly clear!  I'm a cat lover and it's rare for cat lovers to fall for "dog tales (tails)."  Heck, cat lovers usually don't even pick up doggie books.  But my previous experience with Kirby Larsen's Dash found me itching to read her new "Dogs of World War II" book, Liberty.  I expressed my desire to read it on a Twitter feed and a few days later, an autographed ARC arrived in my mailbox from Kirby Larson!  I started it on my trip to DC and finished it while I was there.  Its next stop is my niece's 4th grade classroom in Oklahoma.  

I can't talk about Liberty without introducing Wish by Barbara O'Connor, another book I read this month.  As I read Liberty, I couldn't stop making connections to Wish.  Both books have boy-girl friendships at the heart of the stories.  In Wish, the friendship is between main character, Charlie (a girl) and Howard.  In Liberty it's between main character, Fish, and Olympia, his next door neighbor.  The boy in each story has a physical struggle that affects his walk.  Howard's irregular gait is described by Charlie as an up-down walk while Fish's step-clomp walk is due to a bout with polio.  Both main characters have an older sister.  Both books are set in the south:  Liberty in New Orleans during World War II and Wish in the Blue Ridge mountains of North Carolina.  In both books, the main character tames a stray dog.  And yes, even if you're a cat lover, you'll found yourself falling in love with Liberty and Wishbone!

My third doggone good book is The Poet's Dog by Patricia MacLachlan.  Patricia MacLachlan is one of those authors that I've loved for a long time (ever since Sarah Plain and Tall).  Her novels never fail to fill me with delight.   And The Poet's Dog does not disappoint.  It's a slim volume that can easily be read in one sitting.  The narrator is a dog named Teddy.  I'll borrow these words from the front book flap to entice you to read this book:  "... a poignant story about two children, a poet, and a dog and how they help each other survive loss and recapture love."  You'll sigh with delight as you turn the last page and look around you in search of a next reader for this lovely gem of a book.  

I give you three books by well-known authors, three dogs to love, three doggone good books!

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Celebrate This Week: Birthday Weekend!

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 in VA celebrating the birthdays of my two with both of them.
Yesterday Sara turned 30 and today Blake turns 32.
I'm so lucky to be Mom to these two kids who are also my good friends!
Sara and I came to see Teddy, to celebrate birthdays, and to help with some
of the packing for my son's upcoming move to be closer
to his work and whittle down that daily commute. 
I've treasured every moment together even though it's been a busy visit.

I've loved all the moments spent getting to know Teddy better -
reading books together, chatting together, snuggling together.  
Oh, I'm in grandma heaven!  
Here are a few pics with Teddy's comments.
Most of my books are packed,
but Grandma & I have read these over and over.
Reading with Grandma
                                                       Story time at the library
Meeting Aunt Sara for the first time!

Every year I think I should compose a #whyIwrite post.
This year I contributed a tweet.   Baby steps, right?
I write to capture the present, reflect on the past, and dream about the future!

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Slice of Life: A slice composed in the air

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

Currently I’m . . . 

Flying to Washington DC

Marveling at the technology that can take us coast to coast in under five hours (good tailwind today)

Scheming to come up with a quick slice of life

Reading Kirby Larsen’s new book, Liberty, so I can send it to niece’s 4th grade classroom (it’s an ARC she autographed for me)

Listening as daughter shares her quarterly goals just entered in her bullet journal

Praying for Daniel who had a stroke yesterday and for his sweet wife, Eva

Hoping that their son Jeremy will arrive home from college soon to be with his mom

Feeling gratitude for friends offering help and prayers to this sweet family in our faith community

Sneaking peeks to see what other passengers are reading as I make my way to the restroom

Chatting about books with flight attendant, Jennifer, who loves to read too

Calendaring the Passey’s Pie Night coming up on November 5

Flirting with precious Caroline, the 14 month old across the aisle

Anticipating Teddy time

Celebrating that we will arrive half an hour early

Saturday, October 15, 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

I love fall color and these words from James Whitcomb Riley:

"...But the air’s so appetizin’; and the landscape through the haze 
Of a crisp and sunny morning of the airly autumn days 
Is a pictur’ that no painter has the colorin’ to mock— ..."

So I'm sharing pics I took just this past week
celebrating autumn, my favorite season of the year!
We had a few crisp and sunny mornings early in the week, 
but for now our days have turned to soggy and gray 
which seems to highlight the fall colors even more.  
I'm fearful that our predicted high winds will rip the colors
from the trees too soon which is why I take so many pictures. 

Come stroll with me!
Walking with Coleen near Rotary Park
Spotted on my way to the grocery store
Spotted circling block for previous picture
More autumnal bliss near Rotary Park

Poetry Friday: "When the Frost Is on the Punkin"

Head over to Irene Latham's blog, Live Your Poem,
for this week's round-up of poetic goodness.  
Thanks, Irene, for hosting this week!

My fourth grade teacher was Alta Llewelyn.  She had no children of her own.  She was a stickler for penmanship.  She arranged for us to be pen pals with a ship's captain that traveled regularly to Australia.  She was a demanding teacher.  She always put her lipstick on after lunch and before she put her purse away.  She read aloud every day after lunch.  She insisted that we memorize poems.  Some days snippets of those poems memorized 50+ years drift to the forefront of my memory.  This time of year I find myself reciting the first verse of the James Whitcomb Riley poem, "When the Frost Is on the Punkin."

A few years ago I discovered this lovely book illustrated by Glenna Lang in the hues of autumn and added it to my collection of poetry books.

While cleaning out files this past summer, I ran across this mimeographed copy of the poem with a line drawn after the first verse (we only memorized the first verse) and my name (written in cursive at the bottom of the page).  

And this morning I found this gem!  Take a few moments to listen to Kent Risley's recitation!

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Slice of Life: Serendipity on the Way Home!

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

When I took Irene Latham to Seattle to meet Carmen T. Bernier Grand for her ride to WWU and Poetry Camp, I used Google maps.  I don't know Seattle at all, but I do know enough to know that we took a very circuitous route to Leonie's home .  I called it our stair step adventure - 1 block north, 1 block west, repeat over and over.  We eventually arrived. but I was convinced that I could improve on Google's directions and so I struck out on my own, to bird dog my way home. 

Success?  No!  
I found myself under the overpass of the bridge I needed to be on to cross Lake Washington.  I continued on a bit, recognizing a few streets, confident that I could still find my way home.  And that's when I stumbled across a most serendipitous discovery.  

I found the park that I had accidentally discovered several years ago on another lost in Seattle adventure.   My sister-in-law and her husband were visiting us prior to their Alaskan cruise.  We wandered around Seattle after dinner, and they laughed as I found myself totally lost.  But we did find this little park with a great view of downtown Seattle.  I've often wondered where I was and wished I could find that little park again.  

That won't happen again.
Because this time, I parked the car and took a picture of the street sign.
I snapped this pic of the small entrance to the viewpoint.
I snapped this pic of the view framed in golden leaves.
And this pic of downtown Seattle. 
And this pic of the neighborhood plaque informing me
of my whereabouts at Mt. Baker Ridge Viewpoint.  
Isn't it lovely what can be discovered by turning off Google maps?  

Sunday, October 9, 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.

Still basking in the glow of poetry camp!
Such a cute pic!  It's one week later, and I've loved reading the 
blog posts and Facebook shares.  Poets really are the nicest people ever! 

This quote from Some Writer! The Story of E. B. White
(which I purchased this past week)!
"Life is always a rich and steady time when you are 
waiting for something to happen or to hatch."
I'm lucky to have both in my life.
The waiting for something to happen...
is my next visit to see Teddy and his folks in eight days, 
and the waiting for something to hatch . . .
 is Sara and Will's little guy who will arrive in four months.

Halfway through my two week stint of subbing!
Our secretary, Patty, became a grandmother this past week
when she welcomed a granddaughter.  I'm happy to help out, 
but working full-time is challenging for this gal
used to life at a slower pace.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Poetry Friday: Celebrating Poetry Camp at WWU

Head over to Violet Nesdoly/poems
for this week's round-up of poetic goodness.  
Thanks, Violet, for hosting and thanks for
all the wonderful photos from Poetry Camp!

Last Saturday's Celebrate This Week post was a quick celebration of Irene Latham's visit and Poetry Camp.  Tuesday's Slice of Life was the longer version of Irene's visit to our school and community.  And today for Poetry Friday, I'm bringing you the longer, detailed version of Poetry Camp.  Feel free to skim.  I love using this space to reflect about conferences that I attend.

Take an ordinary Saturday in October...
Wait, nothing is ordinary about October.
October is brilliant, it's magical, it's enchanting!
Add thirty-eight poets and multiply by five
for a roomful of enthusiastic devotees.
Kick off the day with book sales and signing
and an informal session with Brod Bagert
crooning songs and reciting poems.

Cut to the opening session with
Sylvia Tag and Nancy Johnson's
delightful poem for two voices,
debating the necessary devices and gizmos
required for a day at Poetry Camp.
Stir in a keynote address Poetry for Fridays
and Every Day by Sylvia Vardell
and Janet Wong encouraging us to share
poetry, not just in the high and low point
moments of our lives, but in
ALL the moments of our lives.
Shake in a generous sharing of poems
from the poets scattered around the room.

Dismiss to workshop sessions 1 and 2.
Oh, the agony, when I want to attend
all five classes held during the first session.

Since I adore Verse Novels, I cannot resist the allure of a session with four verse novelists.  Jeannine Atkins explains her process of introducing readers to history by focusing on what we share in common.  She quotes Ezra Pound:  "Find the luminous detail."  Holly Thompson brings her years of living in Japan to her verse novels.  She has written mostly YA, but I'm interested in her MG verse novel, Falling into the Dragon's Mouth.  Stephanie Hemphill points out that writing novels in verse gives you space to share internal dialogue and allows the reader to connect not only to what is happening, but also to what the character is thinking.  Nikki Grimes believes that what separates a novel in verse from a collection of poems is story.  She is most interested in making an emotional connection with the reader.  "I want to find the crack that will let me slip into the reader's heart."

Speak for Change:  Writing and Performing Poetry with a Purpose is my second workshop session.  Sara Holbrook and Michael Salinger explain that they will show us how to write from the outside in. We worked in small groups to research a topic and then followed this formula for our first version of a summary from a nonfiction narrative:

Topic sentence 
Another sentence - these first two sentences create the premise
Unfortunately - shows the conflict
Fortunately - points out the resolution/hope
Finally - conclusion

Then we looked at our words with an eye to going from story to poem utilizing the strategies of slash and burn (eliminate unnecessary words) and pick and choose (create a grocery list of important words, look for the power words in order to find the poem).  In this 2nd version, the helper words (fortunately, unfortunately) drop away.  Because we were working at such a rapid pace, I don't have all the drafts we created in our group.  We were asked to choose a point of view and in another draft to add two poetic elements.  We chose to use rhyme and alliteration.  Our assigned topic was the Syrian Refugee Crisis.  Here's our draft from a very compressed opportunity to use this process:

11 million flee
Seekers of acceptance, opportunity
250,00 dead
Soldiers and civilians silenced
Asking the world for help
Will you answer?

Several times during our drafting process, we read our poem aloud . . . simultaneously, as in every group in the room (best way ever to get rid of performance anxiety, huh?).  And then, an invitation to see if anyone wanted to share with the group.

After lunch in the reading room and book signing, it was time for another keynote with Sylvia and Janet, Poetry Across the Curriculum.  Once again, we were privileged to hear poets share poems, this time with a focus on a variety of curriculum areas.  Leonie, my carpool companion to Poetry Camp, mentioned that hearing poets read their poems was one of her favorite parts of the conference.

Workshop Session 3 focused on Teaching Poetry.  I selected the session Poetry + Art & Music with Cynthia Grady, Eric Ode, and Lorie Ann Grover.  Eric Ode advised us to "allow whatever sparks you to guide your writing."  He shared that Myra Cohn Livingston used to say, " It needs more music.  Can you bring more music into this?"  Lorie Grover spoke of her journey to becoming a writer and how she continues to utilize art in her writing.  She creates a collage when she begins a new book.    She spoke of using three dimensional objects to show one's life story.  Check out her unique images at her blog On Point for inspiration.  Cynthia Grady walked us through a guided lesson that uses art as a springboard to poetry.   I was happy to receive a copy of her lesson for connecting the museum and the classroom.

As I returned to the Wilson Library Reading Room for the conference closing, I managed to say hello to Tod Marshall, our Washington State Poet Laureate.  (Tod visited our community last spring and I wrote a grant for his visit to Islander Middle School where I used to teach.)  He asked Nikki Grimes to inscribe a book for him, but neither of them had an available pen.  I offered mine, with one caveat, if she would then sign my book Words with Wings.  We were completing this with 30 seconds to spare as Nancy Johnson was trying to get everyone to take a seat and gather around the poetry campfire one more time.

After a quick conference closing that celebrated our day spent sharing poetry love,  I headed for the exit.  We weren't staying for the closing performance and celebration with Jack Prelutsky because I'm not fond of driving at night.  I glanced back at the room one last time and walked over to April Halprin Wayland.  We exchanged a few words and a quick hug.  As we left the building, Irene Latham asked how I knew April.  "Oh, that's the first time we've met.  I was just thanking her for her poem,  'How to Read a Poem Aloud' which I loved sharing with my students."  (BTW, I was introduced to that poem through  Sylvia Vardell's book,  Poetry Aloud Here.)  And that quick exchange exemplifies what I love about this community, a place where I know my fellow writers and poets because of the words we  share.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Slice of Life: Packing Memories into a Canning Jar

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

Last week I had the incredible opportunity to host Irene Latham when she came to visit the middle school where I used to teach.   When I learned she would be visiting the Northwest for Poetry Camp and was willing to do school visits, I grabbed my pen and went to work writing a grant for our schools foundation.  It was funded!

On Saturday, I celebrated Irene's visit with a short list.  Today, you get the longer narrative.  After meeting Irene and her friend Sarah for lunch at Pike Place Market, it was off to the middle school for an afternoon meet and greet with teachers.   Wednesday is early release day and many teachers were tied up with training that afternoon.  However, the few who dropped by were rewarded by Irene's graciousness and with autographed books for loved ones.  

We headed home, but not before a quick stop by our local library so that Irene could meet Carrie, my favorite teen librarian, who co-hosts our after school book club with me.  Then I sent Irene off for a quick rest before dinner.  After dinner, it was out the door for some time to walk and chat and sit and watch the sunset.  We filled every moment with talk about writing, books, friends, and family.  
Sunset on Lake Washington

The next morning we headed to IMS to prepare for Irene's morning presentation, Adventures in Writing, to two groups of sixth graders.  Irene was our guinea pig for a presentation spot in the new gym.  She was patient as glitches were worked out and ready to roll when her first group of readers and writers arrived.  We were enthralled as Irene explained her journey to becoming a published writer.  You an see student responses to Irene's presentations here and here.
Hanging out with the newly painted Gator in the gym

After a short break, we switched spaces to the new library in our school for a session with our after school book club.  Carrie Bowman, librarian at our public library, joined us and offered fresh apple cider (that she presses herself) at the conclusion of Irene's presentation.  This was a delightful time for the students in our book club to ask questions and to be inspired by Irene.  This padlet (link is coming, perhaps I should add slow in coming since it took me until the new year to create this padlet).  My takeaways from both presentations and responses from the students in Books, Brownies, and Beyond can be accessed here.   (which I finally managed to post in mid-January).  You can read my Tying Up Loose Ends January post here.  

We made a quick stop for lunch and couldn't resist a quick stroll through Island Books which was right next door to our lunch stop.  I felt compelled to introduce Irene to the chocolates at the checkout created by a local chocolatier, Ann Peterson, the mother of one of my former students.  Then we headed to Seattle where Irene met Carmen T. Bernier Grand, her afternoon carpool connection to Bellingham.  I met Leonie, Carmen's friend, who carpooled with me on Saturday to Poetry Camp.

I'll roundup my learning at Poetry Camp with my post for Poetry Friday later this week.  That will conclude a week full of reflections bookended by Irene's visit and Poetry Camp.  You can read Irene's post about her visit to IMS at her blog, Live Your Poem.  
It was a treat never to be forgotten,  a treasured memory to be packed into a canning jar so that like Charlie, in Barbara O'Connor's Wish, I'll be able to " it up and breathe in the goodness of it..." and be inspired.