Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Slice of Life: Charles Waters, Visiting Poet!

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

You'll be happy to know that I've broken my two week streak of writing about the weather. This past week was brightened by a visit from Charles Waters at IMS, the school where I used to teach. I still stay in touch with teacher friends and notified the librarian when I learned via Irene Latham that Charles would be in our area. I was delighted that the librarian arranged for him to speak to our 6th, 7th, and 8th graders.

When I learned that the presentation fell on one of the days that I babysit grandson Jack, I knew I wanted to be there and so the babysitter got a babysitter. I slipped in before the 6th grade assembly to meet Charles and to have my book autographed. 
Ms. Cifu introduces Charles Waters
Even though the day was rainy and gray (as they've all been lately), Charles brought a spot of sunshine, humor, and poetry to an otherwise mundane Friday morning. He shared his journey to becoming a writer and his journey to writing Can I Touch Your Hair? with Irene Latham. Irene visited our middle school in the fall of 2016. How lucky we are to have heard from both of these authors  at IMS!

Here are a few of the nuggets I managed to jot down on my phone. I really prefer to take notes on paper, but somehow showed up without my notebook.
  • Poetry is all about putting your own spin on an idea.
  • You'll never know when it's time for you to perform a poem (good reason to memorize a few).
  • Poetry is all about making the ordinary extraordinary.
  • All you need is pen, paper, and your imagination.
  • When you have a poetry emergency, go to 811 (in the library).
Charles encouraged us to follow the lead of
Irene and Charles from Can I Touch Your Hair?
 and start the conversation.

To learn more about the book, check  out this Q&A on the Lerner blog from a recent Hornbook webcast with Irene Latham, Charles Waters, illustrator Selina Alko, and moderated by Roger Sutton. You can also find a link to the webcast on the Lerner blog post.

Facts learned about Charles during the Q&A with students:
    • Favorite poets - Valerie Worth, Nikki Grimes, and Jack Prelutsky
    • Favorite food - breakfast 
    • "Breakfast for dinner, Is always a winner." 
    • And his closing words: "You all are covered in awesome sauce."             
      Charles shows off his poetry themed clothing.

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Celebrate This Week: Remembering Jan

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.

It's been a rough January with too much rain, too many dark, cloudy days, and never enough sun. We know that winter means mostly rain for us (we loved our bit of snow for Christmas this year), but somehow we forget in the splendor of a Pacific Northwest summer that January and rain will come again.

Yesterday a dear friend in our small congregation died. My heart is heavy. I ache for her family, her friends, and all who knew her. Jan is one of those people who lived the good life. She was diagnosed with multiple myeloma more than a decade ago. Her diagnosis forced her to retire earlier than she had anticipated, but she showed us that life doesn't end when you get a cancer diagnosis. 

She and her husband, Jack, started a memoir writing group with friends from our congregation and community. I loved reading her story of staying overnight in the BYU library with a group of friends. This story gave me a peek into her life as a college student when I was just in elementary school.

When I visited her in rehab earlier this month, I was impressed by the young medical personnel surrounding her who spoke to her with such respect. They knew that Dr. Woolley was a pioneer who chose to enter medicine at a time when few women made that choice. She was my daughter's pediatrician and knowing her influenced Sara's choice to become a physician assistant.

Her illness did not keep her grounded as she and Jack were always planning their next trip. The trips were always planned around her treatment and when she could be away for a bit. And having cancer didn't keep her from continuing to learn and grow. On one of my recent visits to her, I had to leave because her piano teacher arrived with lunch for Jan and her husband. 

Her gentle demeanor and soft voice will be remembered by many who fought this battle with her. I loved hearing her stories of those who sat beside her for chemotherapy and those who ministered to her. She was frequently the one doing the ministering as she listened and loved all around her.

We were joyful when she could join our women's meeting at church and missed her and prayed for her on the few occasions when she was absent. She will leave a giant hole in our hearts for she was one who lived the gospel and loved the Lord. Heaven is a richer place now that Jan Woolley has arrived.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Slice of Life: Delighting in the Rain!

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

This tree is just outside my kitchen window. I watch the rain falling  and contemplate the beauty of each drop as it collects on the tree.

Incessant rainfall
clings to bare branches, becomes
enchanted jewel drops!

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Celebrate This Week: A Grab Bag

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.

A grab bag of celebrations this week:

Picture Books
The picture books I check out are the ones I see mentioned by my blogger friends. This morning I rounded up the books that are due back at the library to read them before I return them.
1) The Watcher: Inspired by Psalm 121 
by Nikki Grimes, illustrated by Bryan Collier
This is one that I've read several times. I love the way the author uses the golden shovel format to create a story of friendship, compassion and faith. 
2) When a Wolf is Hungry
by Christine Naumann-Villemin, illustrated by Kris Di Giacomo
I can't believe that it's taken me so long to read this one. What a delicious tale of Edmond Bigsnout, lone wolf, in search of a delectable city bunny. I love the dedication from the illustrator - 
To good neighbors and to little city rabbits!
3) That is My Dream!
by Langston Hughes & Daniel Miyares
I love poems that are illustrated in picture books. Two that come immediately to mind are Susan Jeffers' beautifully illustrated Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening by Robert Frost and 
Dav Pilkey's rich illustrations of One Today, Richard Blanco's poem shared at Barack Obama's second presidential inauguration.
That Is My Dream will join those books on my shelf soon. 
"Dream Variation" is the Langson Hughes' poem that is brought to life by Daniel Miyares in this picture book. In the words of the illustrator, this poem "contrasts a day smothered by inequality 
with one of bright hope."

Friday night ER
On Friday, my husband sent a note to our family that ER was streaming on Hulu. We used to record ER and the kids and I would watch it on Friday afternoons. I frequently fell asleep and would have to ask my kids what happened. Last night, my daughter and I watched the pilot together and I stayed awake the whole time! She's planning to make it her treadmill entertainment. 

Hornbook Webcast:  Exploring Race, Mistakes and Friendship through Poetry
I loved listening to this webcast with Irene Latham, Charles Waters, Selina Alko and moderated by Roger Sutton at Hornbook. After listening to the webcast, I began . . . 

 My Pursuit of the Book, Can I Touch Your Hair?
My local indie bookstore did not have the book. I called several other bookstores before finally locating another indie bookstore who told me they could get me a copy. I was delighted when the other bookstore told me to phone my local indie bookstore and let them know that one of the suppliers now had the book in stock. I can pick up the book on Tuesday, in time for the assembly on Friday at my former school where
Charles Waters will be presenting!

Grand Boy Pics 

My week is never complete without sharing pics of these delightful boys who bring such joy into our lives. 
Jack's charming smile
Teddy's new haircut

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Slice of Life: Weather Wrongs Bring Delight!

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

My dad watched the weather every night (I think it mattered more to him than the news). I've inherited a bit of that proclivity since I'm constantly checking the weather app on my phone. This time of  year it mostly depresses me. Yesterday when I checked, it showed clouds for today and rain for the next six days. Those are the days when I scroll and check the weather in my sibling's and my son's locales. Suddenly, rain and temps in the 50's doesn't seem so bad. My sis in Tennessee has snow and a high of 16 for today. My brother's predicted high today in Oklahoma is for 19 degrees. My son in Virginia will reach 41 degrees after starting at 22. Then there's my sister in southern California, basking in her 74 degree partly cloudy day.

But sometimes the weatherman is wrong! Those are the days that I delight in, and today is one of them. We started with rain and clouds, but slowly the sun came peeking through the clouds. I love that I can see out the front window and the back sliding glass doors when I sit at the kitchen table at my daughter's house. Even on cloudy days, I enjoy the view. But when the sun peeks through, I'm delighted! 

The view out the back
 The view out the front
 Our delightful blue skies
Just remember that when you have nothing to write about, you can always write about the weather!

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Celebrate This Week: Family 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.

The best thing that happened this past week was receiving a link to our family pics from my daughter's friend, Whitney. The day of our photo shoot, December 23rd, was cold and crisp. So cold that there were icy spots in the parking lot when we arrived at Saint Edward State Park. We brought blankets to wrap around our sweet boys between pics. The adults just grabbed their coats if they weren't slated for the next pic. Hats off to Whitney (who kept her hat on) for her excellent skill in working with our family group. We walked by a beautiful outdoor playground on our way to "the Grotto" that we simply must visit with the boys when the weather is warmer (think next summer). I'm committed to sharing something delightful (delight is my OLW for 2018) on each celebrate post this year. You can easily see why these pics delight me. Thanks, Whitney, for these memorable photos! 
This was the last pic taken. Our boys had 
shown remarkable patience, but this pic shows
that even sweet boys have their limits!

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Slice of Life: When Will Jack Walk?

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

My grandson, Jack, started crawling in October right before a move to their first home. He's been very confident about standing for some time. He stands and scoots along the furniture. He walks when he's holding our hands. He even stands up without any support. I thought that his cousin Teddy would inspire him to walk when he was here over the holidays, but instead Teddy started crawling some of the time right beside Jack. My daughter and son-in-law have asked us to give our best guess for Jack's first steps. I think he'll do it when he's good and ready, but I'm throwing my prediction in for January 14th.

Here are some standing pics taken of Jack today (Jan. 9th). 

Saturday, January 6, 2018

Celebrate This Week: Words and Boys and Sunrises!

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.

This is my Saturday morning routine. After attending a 7 am Weight Watcher's meeting, I head to Starbucks to write my celebrate post. I have a short raspberry hot chocolate to fuel my thoughts and warm my heart. Some weeks I have time to read all the celebrate posts before writing my own. Today I spent the past hour reading and commenting on OLW posts from my friends at Spiritual Journey First ThursdayAnd because I have some errands to accomplish before Costco opens at 9:30, today's celebrations will be brief.

I celebrate the power of words to propel us forward, to support and sustain our journeys, and to turn us toward the Lord who can bring solace in the face of life's many challenges. I love reading the posts of friends as they share their words for this new year.

I celebrate my boys every week. I think that being a grandma is the grandest thing in the world! This week I enjoyed a video of Teddy all tucked in (it's very cold in Virginia) and reading a book to himself. Here's a screen shot from the video.

Jack spent Friday at our house where he continues to explore vintage toys that his mom and Uncle Blake played with over 30 years ago. This week it was the colorful pegs of this Discovery Toy that has come out of the hall closet every time there is a youngster of a certain age in the house. His favorite part of playing with this toy is dropping the pegs and watching Grandma pick them up. Although he did help me pick them up when he got out of the high chair.
Tuesday as I headed to Jack's house, I was greeted by a gorgeous sky that delighted my heart. I felt blessed that I could stop the car on our lane and snap a picture. 
I hope to share a delight (my OLW) weekly on my celebrate post. I think there are some close connections between delight and celebrate. 

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Spiritual Journey First Thursday: My OLW For 2018!

I am excited to join a community of fellow bloggers who write on the first Thursday of each month about our spiritual journeys. This month we are writing about our OLW (One Little Word) for 2018. Thank you, Margaret, for hosting our writing on this first gathering of 2018. 

I posed several possibilities for my One Little Word in Tuesday's Slice of Life. And while I love each word from that post, there is no denying that delight has claimed me for this new year. I want to receive and share delight more often in 2018.

First a few ways that I receive delight:

I am filled with delight as I arrive at grandson Jack's house and his giggles greet me. He has a delightful, deep, rolling giggle that my husband says is like a chipmunk. My daughter says it reminds her of the chuckle of Reeses, our guinea pig and family pet when she was young.

I delight at the videos my daughter-in-law Stefi sends us of 18 month old Teddy. (We just got a new one this morning. He's tucked in with a blanket and reading a favorite book to us. How delightful is that?) It's apparent to any reader of my blog that I delight in my role of Grandma to two grandsons.

Perhaps some of my happiest moments are found within the pages of books. I continue to struggle to find enough time to read, but I'm delighted to spend time with favorite authors. Yesterday I read Roz Chast's newest book, Going Into Town: A Love Letter to New York. (It was a gift to my son Blake for Christmas, but he left it here with some other things I need to mail to Virginia.)

When I immerse myself in daily scripture study and prayer, I experience the delight that comes from the Lord. "Yet they seek me daily, and delight to know my ways, . . . they take delight in approaching to God. (Isaiah 58:2) I'm strengthened by a fellow blogger's counsel that she reaches for her phone and reads scripture before she gets out of bed every morning.

I'm delighted to travel to see family. I have a trip booked to Oklahoma for this spring to see my brother and family and friends. It's been too long since I've been there, and this girl does love to go home again!

One of my favorite activities at the end of the day is settling in to watch something with my husband. Our current watch is "The Crown." I'm delighted that Lance can answer my many questions about the historical authenticity of what we're seeing on the screen.

Finding ways that I receive delight comes easily when I pay attention. I love this quote from Greg Boyle's book Tattoos on the Heart which our book club read recently:  "If you are paying attention, then the day is going to be pretty joyful, and a lot of delight will fill it." 

When I googled "quotes about delight," I discovered this except from Jack Gilbert's poem, "A Brief for the Defense."

"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"

(Digging a little further I discovered more about the poem in The Atlantic Monthly article, "The 'Stubborn Gladness' of Elizabeth Gilbert's Favorite Poet." You can read the entire poem in this tribute published in The Sun. It's the last poem in the article.) 

Risking delight, recognizing it, receiving it, and sharing it - that will be the focus for me in 2018. One of the ways I plan to share delight is by writing more letters in the upcoming year. I may think of other ways to give delight, but for now, at least for the first quarter of the year, letter writing will be my focus. Perhaps you can give me suggestions for other ways that I might be a dispenser of delight.

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Slice of Life: Dilly Dallying

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

My favorite lines about choosing a OLW (One Little Word) come from a post shared last year by Carol at Beyond Literacy Link. I especially love the sentence that I've highlighted in blue:

"Each year instead of creating resolutions, millions choose one word to guide their journey. Why? One, meaningful word becomes a focal point, a reminder, and a guide throughout the year. It makes its way into your life, tugs at your heart, snuggles into your being, connects with your lifestyle, and accompanies you on your journey. It can be your mantra, your go to word, your star to follow." 

This is my sixth year to choose a word. Here are some lines I put together last year to honor each of my words.

Listen to the stillness, 
Savor the present moment, 
Stretch to grow, and always 
Abide in His love to  
Nourish my soul and reach out in love. 

And because I'm still shilly-shallying, vacillating, and  dithering about my OLW for 2018, I'm offering up these lines with my current possibilities:

"The time has come," the walrus said . . .
To plunge into the delight of  a new year,
To embrace and relish the challenges ahead,
To weave a garment that will renew and comfort, 
And join me on the journey through 2018.

I'm known for being indecisive, but I promise to pick my OLW before the end of the week. I love each possibility and hope to find just the right word for 2018 that will "tug at my heart and snuggle into my being."