Sunday, June 17, 2018

Celebrate This Week: Boys, Fathers, Grandpas and Books!

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.

Even though I'm late to the celebration, I'm happy
to pop in with a photo story to celebrate
grandsons, fathers, and one very special grandfather.
Story time at Island Books when
Teddy visited last month 
Playing the xylophone with Dad
at KidsQuest Children's Museum
 Teddy's visit to the zoo last week 
 Jack helping Grandpa open his presents - 
a hiking with kids book, a potholder (with handprints),
 and a board book of The Odyssey 
(one of Grandpa's favorite stories)
 Checking out the whipped cream!
Strawberry shortcake
Summer reading - 
recent holds picked up from the library

My current adult read -
The Library at Edge of the World 
by Felicity Hayes-McCoy
"Told with heart, wry, wit, and charm,...
an empowering story about the meaning 
of home and the importance of finding 
a place where you truly belong."

Friday, June 15, 2018

Poetry Friday: Fathers and Shoulders

Karen who blogs at Karen Edmisten*
 has this week's round-up of poetic goodness. 
Stop by to be filled with "Sustenance" by two poems:
one from Barbara Crooker and one by Karen.

It's that time of year when our thoughts turn to fathers. I love the tender love exhibited by the father in "Shoulders" by Naomi Shihab Nye, as well as the challenge to each of us for what we need to do "to live in this world" and "to do what he's doing with one another".

"A man crosses the street in rain, stepping gently,
looking two times north and south,
because his son is asleep on his shoulder..."
This poem was selected by the Academy of American Poets as a selection for Teach This Poem on Monday of this week. You can access the rest of the poem and the lesson plan here.

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Slice of Life: Acquiring a New Habit!

Today 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.

It all started with a book! And I don't remember which one, but after finishing it, we went in search of a hat because someone in the book was wearing a hat. Jack has never really liked hats, but I want this to change because he's quite fair and needs protection from the sun. 

We rummaged around in the front closet until we found his winter hat. We put it on and he wore it for a bit.  Then we tried on his summer hat. It immediately came off. (It's one of those fabric bucket hats, defintely uncool.) I decided that he needed a baseball cap. 

So when my daughter and I went to the outlet mall for some pre-birthday fun (my birthday, not Jack's), a baseball cap was on the list. I purchased the last cap on the rack at Carter's. When we got home, I had Grandpa put on his baseball cap. And then we went to the mirror so we could admire Jack and Grandpa in their caps. And to everyone's surprise, Jack left his cap on while he played. 
We wore it to story hour last week. And here's a pic of Jack playing with Uncle John last week, sporting his baseball cap. 
I think, at least for now, Mister Jack has acquired a new habit. 

Saturday, June 9, 2018

Celebrate This Week: Nine Things!

1. Technology win! I lost/misplaced my phone. Find my iPhone wasn't working. I googled "find my iPhone not working" and when I found my phone, I checked the settings in iCloud to discover that Find my iPhone had been turned off.  I have no idea how that happened (I think there are gremlins at work here), but I turned this very necessary feature back ON. 

2. Another technology win! I was headed to a movie, I was on the bus (trying to meet up with my husband downtown), and my phone battery was low. Ryan has shown me several times how to use the Low Power Mode feature. I opened up settings, felt overwhelmed, but continued to scroll down, found Battery, and then clicked on that Low Power Mode button. Score! And I did it all by myself.

3. Movie share!
We saw Champions (Campeones) as part of the Seattle International Film Festival. If feel-good and family friendly are movie adjectives that appeal to you, watch for this Spanish movie when it comes to a theater near you. It's currently Spain's biggest box office hit of 2018. The real champions are the ten disabled people who make up the basketball team. The director attended our showing and hosted a Q&A after the showing.

4. Assigned reading pages! In order to finish the two books I'm reading for my upcoming book clubs next week, I've assigned myself daily reading goals. So far I've met the goal except for yesterday when I got so absorbed by The Leavers that I kept reading past the 26 page assigned reading and failed to fulfill my 20 assigned pages in The Handmaid's Tale. Both books are tough reads, so I'm looking forward to something lighter soon. 

5. Secret of the Ron Mor Skerry! I'm on page 41 of 90 pages. This is my dessert book when I fulfill assigned reading pages. Kathleen shared this book with me the last time I stopped by the middle school library. It's one of her childhood favorites which she recently located after not knowing the title for years. The novel is the basis for John Sayles's classic film The Secret of Roan Inish (a family favorite).  I'm delighted that Kathleen shared this book with me. I need to finish it this weekend since next week is the last week of school. Who knows what evil may befall me if I don't get it returned?

6. About fifty books off my shelves! Our ladies group at church is having a Books and Brunch gathering this morning. Everyone was invited to bring a book or two to share. I find it difficult to purge books, but when I know that they are going to a good home, it's a bit easier. Downsizing is part of our ten year plan, so I will have to continue this effort. Good to know that I can do it in stages.

7. Grandmas and grands at story time!  Jack and I enjoyed a play date with Natalie and Coleen at Island Books on Wednesday. Good friend Coleen, who now lives in Canada, was in town while Natalie's parents are traveling.

8. Friday fun! I love watching these two have fun together on Friday mornings. 
They made a movie for Teddy at the playground and received a movie back from him.

9.  904th post! Last Saturday's Celebrate post was my 900th post, but it slipped by me. So today I'm celebrating 900+ posts and all the good friends I've made on this journey that began when I timidly joined the Slice of Life challenge with my students in 2012.

Friday, June 8, 2018

Poetry Friday: "From a Country Overlooked"

 has this week's round-up of poetic goodness. 
Inspired by all things summer-esque,
she gifted us with a wonderful "Summer Song."

I almost included this poem in my Spiritual Journey First Thursday summer post yesterday. However, by the time I included my musings and pics, the post was long enough. So I saved the poem for today. And I was delighted to find it in the Writer's Almanac archives. Here's a taste of "From a Country Overlooked" by Tom Hennen. Click on the poem's title to read the entire poem.

"There are no creatures you cannot love.
A frog calling at God 
From the moon-filled ditch
As you stand on the country road in the June night.
The sound is enough to make the stars weep
With happiness."

Thursday, June 7, 2018

SJFT: Summer!

Welcome to Spiritual Journey First Thursday, a group of friends
who blog monthly about our spiritual journeys. 
Margaret Simon, our host at Reflections on the Teche
 has chosen summer as our theme for the month.

Selected lines from your summer posts that resonated with me:

"slowed-down sun-kissed feeling"
"lost in a good book"
"juicy-sweet June days"
"a time of quiet and rest"
"everything . . . awake . . . and flourishing"
"fill my summer to the brim"

Summer is celebrations - my birthday, Father's Day, Fourth of July, Summer Celebration, Mostly Music in the Park, our anniversary, and Shakespeare in the Park
(King Lear & The Merry Wives of Windsor).

Summer is slow time for reading on the deck and making homemade ice cream, for outings with friends and family
and trips to farmer's markets for luscious summer produce, 
for long walks in the woods and
a family camping trip.

How can something so filled with activity also be a slow time?
It's the focus of the activities with time to talk and listen to each other and time to be outside that slows us down and makes us appreciate the long days filled to the brim. Summer gifts us
with possibilities and time to be present for each other.  

"This is the day (or season) which the Lord

hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it."
- Psalms 118:24

Even though my life is no longer governed by the school year, I feel a sense of joy as summer approaches and a desire to savor the slow days filled with goodness that make each day a treasure. I'm grateful for the constancy of the seasons and the joy that summer brings. 

Taking walks reminds me to rejoice in our world:

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Slice of Life: A Delightful Birthday!

Today 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.

My birthday celebration started with family on Saturday and three slices of cake from Deru, a local restaurant that makes delicious cakes. Chocolate, coconut, and carrot cake (you have to love that alliteration!). And the three candles? They represent the ones place of this birthday year. You figure out how many birthday decades I've celebrated.

Sunday found me gifted with plenty of chocolate from friends at church and yesterday the fun continued with flowers, cards, texts, FB greetings, gifts, and two meals of the day spent with friends and family - breakfast and dinner. That sums up my very delightful birthday! 

Except that I left out the walk at the park with a friend. We planned that for after breakfast, but it was raining. So we decided to watch a movie instead. We planned to watch "The Man Who Invented Christmas" (something I missed seeing in theaters last winter) which was recently added to Amazon Prime.

However, while looking for the movie about Charles Dickens, we stumbled across "Greenfingers." We were immediately drawn in by leads Clive Owen, Helen Mirren, and David Kelly. And the unusual mixture of gardening and prisoners. I liked this review from Mick LaSalle of the San Franciso Chronicle:  "Succeeds in capturing the movement of a soul from hopelessness to humanity." And at the end, you learn it's loosely based on a true story.

After the movie, the sun had come out and we took that walk in the park. I managed to read a bit in the afternoon, and then it was out to dinner with friends. All in all, a totally indulgent, perfect birthday celebration!

Saturday, June 2, 2018

Celebrate This Week: Summer Gifts, Podcasts, & Pics

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 tend to think of Memorial Day as the unofficial beginning of summer. And those thoughts make me think of the unique gifts that summer sends our way. More daylight, more sunshine, meals on the deck, fresh fruits and vegetables, farmer’s markets, Music in the Park, Summer Celebration, and Shakespeare in the Park to name a few. Just thinking of these gifts makes me grateful for this time of year. 

But the gift of summer that I love the most has to be reading! When summer begins, I feel drawn to reading (even more than the rest of the year). I want to sit on the deck with a book and a tall glass of lemonade. PBS has just started a new series, The Great American Read with 100 of America’s best-loved books. You can access the introductory launch episode here. It's a two hour celebration of reading hosted by Meredith Vieira.

I started listening to a podcast this morning at On Being with Krista Trippet - The Power of Words to Save Us, an interview with Marie Howe. I don't know Marie Howe or her poetry. I downloaded the podcast (from May 2017) because I was intrigued by the title. I'm only twenty minutes in, but oh, it's filled with words I love. It's clear from the little bit of this podcast that I've listened to that I need to know Marie Howe and her poetry.  Podcasts like this one are not meant for the car because I need to listen with my notebook in hand. I was headed for a meeting this morning and found myself chanting these words until I was able to jot them down - condensed, economical packets of beauty and grace. After the meeting, I rewound and listened so I could give you the actual quote. "It strikes me that these rituals of ordinary time themselves are a little bit like poetry, these condensed, kind of economical little packets of beauty and grace that carry so much more forward than is obvious." I think that stopping to celebrate each week is one of my rituals of ordinary time. Thanks, Ruth, for creating this ritual for me through our weekly celebrations.

And now it's on to my celebratory pics for the week:
Teddy celebrating his new home
(Friday was moving day.)
Jack and Grandpa at the park
Beautiful sky at Mercerdale Park!
This pic from daughter Sara -
"Enjoying a night of baseball with 
two of my favorite guys!" 
(Grandson Jack's early bedtime
gave me plenty of time to read & nap.)

Friday, June 1, 2018

Poetry Friday: Laughter Eases the Traffic

Head over to Buffy's Blog for this 
week's round-up of poetic goodness.
Buffy kicks off our Friday fun with
 a delightful spiral poem celebrating
helicopters (of the maple variety).
Thanks, Buffy, for hosting our gathering.

I spend several days a week with my sixteen month old grandson, Jack, who loves to laugh. Today he laughed while we sat in traffic and kept me amused as it took us an hour to reach his home (generally a 30 minute drive). I wonder what provoked his laughter. Perhaps it was the huge flatbed truck we passed that was stacked with giant tires. He does love trucks and wheels. I adore the laughter of children and love to tell Jack that he makes Grandma happy. 

The poem I'm sharing today "The Laughing Child" by W. S. Merwin is one I saved when I read it earlier this year on Teach This Poem.

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Slice of Life: Tis the Season for Reading Challenges

Today 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.

It's that time of year when summer reading challenges and lists for summer reading seem to be popping up everywhere. Rather than get carried away with a new challenge, I've decided to rededicate myself to two challenges that I'm already doing and add one additional challenge.

1. #mustreadin2018 - Carrie Gelson & friends who blog
I haven't made much progress on this list because I keep getting waylaid by other books (most recently Ghost Boys by Jewell Parker Rhodes & The Boy, the Bird, and the Coffin Maker by Matilda Woods). I want to read three titles from my #mustreadin2018 during the summer. And in the spirit of commitment, I'll pick the top three from the photo of my book stack:  Chicken Boy, How to Steal a Dog, and A Tangle of Knots.

2. 10 to Try in 2018 - King County Library System
I'll add three titles completed to this challenge. Currently I'm reading The Handmaid's Tale for my adult book club (that will fulfill my banned book square). It's one of those books I've never read, but always planned to read. Any recommendations for the other two squares of my challenge that I plan to tackle?  A book about food? A book in translation?

3. Three Richard Peck titles I own, but have never read. I pulled up a list of books written by Richard Peck after reading his obituary. I was amazed to realize that I have three of his books already sitting on my bookshelves that I've always planned to read. So I'm adding these books to my personal summer challenge.

I'm resisting the urge to add another challenge to my already overfull summer reading list, but take a look at this book bingo card for adults from the Seattle Public Library and the Seattle Arts and Lectures. It's filled with fun categories.
Book Bingo:  Adult Summer Reading Fun 2018 

Happy summer and happy reading!

Saturday, May 26, 2018

Celebrate This Week: Grandboys, More Activity. Blossoms, & Writing Challenges

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.

Each week I join Ruth Ayres and a few friends to celebrate the week and 
to focus on the positive things that happened in the past week.

Some celebrations are easier to find than others and some weeks are  just filled with the regular rhythm of life (which is actually something to celebrate). 
Okay, this pic is from last week, but I'm still basking in the joy of a visit from Teddy and his parents. We were getting ready to make pancakes for breakfast in this shot. Everyone knows that a boy needs a ladder to stand on when he's helping Grandma in the kitchen. 

Teddy spent the past week helping (?) his mom pack for their upcoming move. Here's a shot of him exploring the window seat in the kitchen of the new house. 
I captured these shots from an Instagram video Stefi posted before their flight this morning to New Orleans to visit family.

Some pics of Jack from this week! 

I actually returned to my swim class this week more than a year after stopping due to some knee problems. Thanks to Shelly
for her continuous, yet gentle prodding.

 My new goal of trying to walk more means that I'm
capturing more pics of blossoms in my surroundings.

Summer writing challenges abound! While summer no longer signals a different schedule for me, it still signals a shift in thinking (slower days filled with more daylight) and seems like a good time to tackle a new challenge. My favorite post comes from a shared link at this week's Teach Write Writing Round-Up. Stephanie Morrill's post Three Mindset Shifts to Help You Have a (Realistically) Productive Summer resonated with me. And if you're looking to get some ideas for summer writing don't miss the upcoming #TeachWrite Twitter Chat on Monday, June 4, 2018 at 7:30 pm ET. Their theme for June is Summer Writing. I'm totally going to make more time for writing this summer. I'm celebrating the inspiration that is all around us to help us grow our writing muscles.

Friday, May 25, 2018

Poetry Friday: Pairing a Poem and a Book

Head over to Reflections on the Teche for this 
week's round-up of poetic goodness. Margaret Simon
is hosting this week. She kicks off our Friday fun
with a sonnet inspired by Molly's photo as part of a
recent geographic photo/poetry exchange.
Thanks, Margaret for hosting our gathering this week.

Sometimes the best laid plans get changed. And that's what happened to this Poetry Friday post. I had planned to share a book that I discovered last month in the poetry section at the middle school where I used to teach. But when I opened today's Poem-A-Day to  discover "My Love is Black" by DéLana R. A. Dameron, I knew I had to share this poem. Here are a few lines from the poem that juxtapose a lovely evening with ever present fear:

                       " ...But
here we are: walking
hand in hand
in our parkas down
the avenues & he pulls away
from me. I might be
in some dreamy place,
thinking of the roast chicken
we just had, the coconut peas
& rice he just cooked,
& how the food has filled
our bellies with delight. How
many times can I speak
about black men
& an officer enters the scene?

This poem immediately reminded me of Ghost Boys, a book by Jewell Parker Rhodes I recently finished that continues to stay with me. If you haven't read it, put it on your summer reading list and tuck this poem into the book.