Saturday, December 29, 2018

Celebrating November & December!

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.

The past two months have been quite a whirlwind!

First was NCTE, a delight from the sessions attended
to the shared hugs and conversations with my blogger friends
to the free lodging and rides provided by my Texas friends.

And a Thanksgiving with everyone home!
A certain someone celebrated his birthday twice - 
with cake and then with pie! 
Christmas pjs delivered early.
 Matching Christmas tees
Enjoying Grandma's cookie bars
My favorite pic - boys and books!
Then, a scary diagnosis for my brother the week of Thanksgiving led to my hopping on a plane the next week to spend some time with him.
Things learned while we were together:
1. Hallmark movies make everything better.
2. There's something very special about sibling love. 
3. Prayers are answered.
Gratitude for God's love and all on our prayer team.
 And my brother never once complained about his liquid diet! 
(Great example for his whiny little sis.)
An early Christmas treat was attending Kara's
final rehearsal for their upcoming community concert.
After a few days at home, I went to DC with Sara and Jack.
While they visited Will's sis and family in Baltimore, 
I worked on  transcribing the letters
my dad had written to my mom during World War II 
(a project started by my niece Kara and my brother Karl).
I typed the last few letters written in December 1944
before his capture at the Battle of the Bulge with an enormous sense of sadness, gratitude for his service, and joy for his survival. 
I could never write full time from home. In order to keep my 
BIC (butt in chair) while working on this project, 
I had to keep my HIC (hand in chocolate).
My son laughed when I told him I had eaten
all the chocolate chips in his freezer
(not true, I made pumpkin chocolate chip bread that day).
But I did do a bit of damage on a large package of M&Ms.
Blake and Sara (brother and sister) assemble Teddy's kitchen.
 Who knew these elves could work together for two hours? 
 Jack and Uncle Blake enjoy a giggle fest!

  One of the things I miss about writing a weekly celebrate post is remembering the little things worth celebrating.
This morning I pulled up to Starbucks (a favorite writing spot) 
and found a parking spot right in front of the door.
I love celebrating the simple pleasures!

 I must include a couple more favorite grandson pics.
Teddy and Santa 
Jack at the park

Finally, a remembrance that has truly 
sweetened this Christmas season! As Jack and I played
with our wooden nativity figures and 
I talked to him about baby Jesus, he replied, "Newborn King."
My heart fills with joy as I've revisited those words frequently during the past month and celebrated the birth of the newborn king
who came to save us all!

Saturday, December 8, 2018

Spiritual Journey First Thursday: Delight, My OLW for 2018!

"Risking delight, recognizing it, receiving it, and sharing it - that will be the focus for me in 2018." Those were my words in my January post as I shared my OLW for the year, delight.

And in that same post, I shared these words from Jack Gilbert's poem: 
"We must risk delight. We can do without pleasure,
but not delight. Not enjoyment. We must have
the stubbornness to accept our gladness in the ruthless
furnace of this world."
                       - Jack Gilbert, "A Brief for the Defense"

Those words, "...the stubbornness to accept our gladness in the ruthless furnace of this world," have become even more meaningful as I've faced some sad times since Thanksgiving. I traveled to Oklahoma to be with my brother as he waited for a biopsy. We filled that time together with delight - laughter, Hallmark movies, a few tears along the way, and of course, stories. We received good news from the surgeon on Thursday. He doesn't believe that we are dealing with pancreatic cancer as we had been led to believe by his earlier medical screenings. And now we're waiting on the results of his biopsy.

Other delights of my time in Oklahoma (my third trip there this year) included  attending my niece's final rehearsal for the Christmas community concert, reading to her fourth graders, shopping with Kat and Kara, seeing Kat's beautiful revolving Santa Christmas tree, helping my brother set up a blog, and sharing many hugs!

Stopping to notice daily delights has enriched the days of this year. And just this morning I spotted this gorgeous tree, still clinging to fall color as it stands surrounded by bare trees.

 It has been a joy filled year as I've slowed down to pay attention and notice the many ways that delight can fill our days. This post has reminded me that one of my goals for the year was to be a dispenser of delight. I'll be working on that during this season!

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Slice of Life: My Top Three Reasons for Attending NCTE!

I promise to share more about my NCTE conference 
experience once Thanksgiving isn't lurking around the bend.
For now it's a sharing of pics and
my top three reasons for attending:

#3. Meeting authors, book signings and free books!
  #2. Stellar sessions with rock star educators and authors!
(just a few of the sessions that I attended
& took pics of the presenters).

#1. My community of fellow educators & bloggers! 
It's larger than the folks pictured here,
but these are the folks I pestered
to pose for a pic with me.
Carol Varsalona and I finally managed 
to meet in person. Her seasonal galleries
of images and poetry are her gift to our world.
I met Kim Doele at the Newcomer's Breakfast four years ago
at my first (and only until now) NCTE conference. 
She saw my Twitter post and reached out 
hoping we could connect again. 
Leigh Anne Eck, blogger and friend, whose
slice I remember  EVERY time I buy milk. 
Ruth Ayres, my virtual friend (until I attended my first
All Write conference in Indiana), is a nurturer
and encourager of my writing and spiritual life.
Irene Latham presented at the middle school where
I used to teach, spoke with the members of 
my after school book club, and spent time with me
before heading to Poetry Camp at Western University.  
The world needs more huggers (and poets)
like Amy Ludwig VanDerwater! Aren't we
lucky to have her in the world?

Saturday, November 17, 2018

Poetry Friday on Saturday: Homework from Mary Lee

  Linda Baie at Teacher Dance
is hosting this week's round-up of poetic goodness. 
I'm reporting in a day late with a completed assignment.

I'm at NCTE and attended the Writing Poetry in the Wild session yesterday. Mary Lee Hahn kicked off the session with introductions and a creative, "wild" musical clip for each of our presenters.
(pictured left to right) 
Heidi Mordhorst, Laura Purdie Salas, Margaret Simon,
 Irene Latham, and Mary Lee Hahn
Such a wonderful gathering of Poetry Friday friends!  

I wish I had time to tell you about their presentations, but I'm reporting in a day late (sorry, Linda) for Poetry Friday with a completed assignment. Mary Lee gave each of us a sticky note at the end of the session with a homework assignment to complete before we go home. We were supposed to write a small poem on the sticky note. I wrote mine last night as a note to my friend who had plans for Saturday morning. I'm staying at her house and had planned to attend an 8:00 am session this morning. As the time drifted past midnight, I changed my mind and left this haiku on my door.

Catching zzz's won out
for this west coast, weary gal
I'll catch an Uber. 

Homework completed, Mary Lee!

I'm happy to report that after a few hours of sleep, I woke up invigorated and ready to make my planned early session, The Power of Poetry with Georgia Heard, Barry Hoonan, . Maybe I can check in next week with some snippets from NCTE. 

Here I am getting a copy of Irene's book, Love, Agnes:  Postcards from an Octopus, for my young friend Rose who loves octopuses.

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Slice of Life: What to Pack in a Bag Marked NCTE!

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

Walking shoes
A book for the flight

A sweater
A book in need of an autograph
Pumpkin chocolate chip bread (for those who can gather after G10)

My new notebook
Several favorite pens
Protein bars & fruit

An empty backpack and a tote bag or two (for stashing book finds)
Energy for the long days
Delight for this magnificent gathering!

Thursday, November 1, 2018

Spiritual Journey First Thursday: Gather

Welcome to Spiritual Journey First Thursday,
a group of friends who blog monthly about our spiritual journeys. 
I'm hosting for November and chose the word gather as our focus.
Please include the link to your post with your comment.

I've enjoyed asking family and friends what they think of when I mention the word gather. Both my daughter's response (that it made her think of warmth and coziness) and my friend Karen's response (that it made her think of holidays, traditions and sharing) echo some of the thoughts I have. My husband's response, "Eggs," made me chuckle. You can take the Kansas boy off the farm, but he's never far away from his roots. Anyone who's ever scooted the hen over to gather eggs can affirm that those eggs are frequently warm. 

My favorite gatherings involve people I love and know:  a faith community, a book club, a grandparents' club, a recent trip to visit family in Oklahoma, the upcoming NCTE conference in Houston, and of course, the holiday gatherings that occur with Thanksgiving and Christmas. 

I thought of hymns that include the word gather and immediately remembered the classic hymn "Shall We Gather at the River?" If you like John Ford films, check out this link - "Shall We Gather at the River?" in seven films by John Ford.

Isn't it interesting how once we focus on a word that we begin to see that word everywhere? Gather popped up in a children's book that I've read many times with grandson Jack this past week.  
"Gather now, let's all take part. 
We'll play music, we'll make art. 
We'll share stories from the heart.
All are welcome here." 
Perhaps you've read All Are Welcome by Alexandra Penfold. Its message is both timely and necessary in today's world.

And just yesterday I opened my podcast app to see this announcement from Story Corps: "The Story Corps podcast is back. We return this fall with new conversations that remind us of what's really important in life. In this season we'll focus on reunions of all kinds. Over 12 episodes, we'll consider what it means to come together at this moment in our nation's history." The new episodes begin next week. As someone who loves stories and reunions, I'm so excited!

And today I flipped the calendar on the wall beside my desk for an advance preview of November and this is what I saw:

Beginning in the upper right hand corner, here are the words on the calendar - "connected, love endures, belong, a bountiful harvest begins with seeds planted in gratefulness, love, grateful, gather together, and on the green door - love lives here." Thank you, Eliza Todd, for this calendar page that captures the spirit of gathering and togetherness.

Gently gliding leaves float by,
a season for reflection, a time for remembering
that not everyone feels warmth and love and
hope.  May we be the links to connect as we
extend our arms and hearts to
reach across and reach out in love. 
 -Ramona Behnke

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Slice of Life: Book Club Celebrates Twenty Years Together!

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

We dreamed of a trip to Europe, but it was not to be for our book club's twenty year celebration. Instead, we chose a destination closer to home for a two day getaway. Our early morning boarding of the ferry and an almost three hour ride to Victoria gave us plenty of time to gab and enjoy the bread, fruit, and juice that Shannon provided.
Three in our party headed to Butchart Gardens immediately after we disembarked from the ferry. Their pictures convinced me that I simply must experience the gardens in the fall (maybe next year?).
The rest of us headed to Jam Cafe for brunch and then wandered around Chinatown doing a bit of shopping, lingering in a tea shop, and tasting a bit of chocolate. The weather was gorgeous and the fall colors were resplendent. 

Then it was off to Munro's Books because . . . a book club trip definitely deserves a stop in a bookstore!
I was immediately drawn to their incredible children's book section. It was not until my return visit the next day that I noticed the neo-classical architecture and beautiful fabric banners by Carole Sebastian that grace the interior of the bookstore. 

Most of us grabbed a quick nap before dinner at Ithaka Greek Restaurant. The service was superb and the food was delicious. We returned to our hotel where we played a game of "take a coin, look at the date, and share a story from that year in your life." Before heading to bed, Coleen passed around a box of beautiful chocolates from a delightful chocolate shop in Edmonton.

We kicked off our Saturday fun with breakfast at the hotel followed by the Egypt exhibit at The Royal BC Museum. The highlight of the trip for me was our afternoon tea at the Empress Hotel. 
All too soon it was time to board the ferry for our return trip to Seattle.
While our time away was relaxing and refreshing, we found ourselves longing for more time together. And that's why our next celebration simply has to be more than two days long! 

In case you're wondering, not all of us have belonged to the book club for twenty years. But there are five original members who made this trip. And three members who have moved away, but joined us for the fun. And several others who regularly attend, but couldn't make the trip.

The delight of our two days together can be summed up by the words of Rainer Maria Rilke:
Ah, how good it is to be among people who are reading.”