Friday, August 28, 2020

Poetry Friday: My Expanded Etheree!

Heidi at my juicy little universe is hosting 
this week's roundup of poetic goodness.

It's almost the end of the month and I challenged myself to write an original poem once a month. I know that isn't much, but it's a challenge for me. After seeing some Poetry Friday friends post etherees, I wanted to try out this form. (The poetry form, Etheree, consists of 10 lines of 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 syllables.)  

I decided to try the form with my OLW (one little word) for 2020. After all, it's the perfect one syllable word for the first line. The only problem was that I ended up with 12 lines instead of 10. So I went to work whittling it down to fit the ten line structure. Only I think I still like my expanded 12 line, 12 syllable poem better. So I'm posting both versions. 

My expanded poem with 12 lines, 12 syllables:


my one

little word

for this year of

living differently.

I seek moments of shine

to calm my frenetic heart

and turn my heart to gratitude.

I seek friends shining beacons of hope

illuminating the path through darkness.

I seek Jesus, the source of all light, who heals,

succors and sustains my journey toward the Light.

                                                    - Ramona Behnke


The shortened version to fit the 10 line Etheree structure: 



my one

little word.

I seek moments

of shine to turn my

heart toward gratitude.

I seek friends with hope filled hearts

to lighten our walk through the dark.

I seek Jesus, the source of all light,

who succors and sustains my quest for Light.

                                            - Ramona Behnke

 My daughter, Sara, created this light visual for my desk!

Tuesday, August 25, 2020

SOL & #52Stories 33/52: Routine Disrupted!

#52Stories is my attempt to write 52 stories from my life during the year 2020. At least one story a week, in no particular order, to remember and document some of the memories and moments of my life.

Grandson Jack and I have a regular morning routine. When Robby goes down for his morning (and only) nap, I have computer time while Jack does a table activity. Only today our routine was disrupted. It all started when Jack asked me to pick him up high. I had to tell him that I couldn't do that. I can still pick up my three and a half year old grandson, but picking him up high? That is something that only Dad can do. 

Jack jumped down and went to Dad's office (the spare bedroom) to ask if he could lift him up high. And of course, Dad was too busy so Jack returned with a sad face and a bit frustrated. Before I knew it, he had picked up my bag and dumped the contents onto the living room carpet (something he's never done before). He and I picked up everything and talked about other actions that might be more appropriate. He mentioned looking at an exciting picture in a book, or playing in his new home (the box from Dad's office chair). I demonstrated how it's okay to punch a pillow and say aloud what you're feeling when things don't go your way. 

But the biggest disruption that impeded my return to the computer and writing this post was an item that Jack found when we were replacing the items in my bag. Jack discovered a new chapter book that I had picked up at the library and was saving for our "after lunch" story time. How could I resist his plea for just one chapter? Each time we finished a chapter, the plea would be for "just one more" chapter. One chapter turned into nine and before we knew it, we reached page 110 and the end of the book.

I return to the computer to finish my post. And now Robby is awake. 

P.S. I didn't get back to finish this post until I returned home at the end of the day.

I always bring three books in our special book bag when I arrive to watch the grand boys! Here are today's picture books. I'm so glad that our local KCLS library has curbside pickup!

Our Friend Hedgehog is the chapter book that captivated my young grandson
and made it impossible for me to resist his plea for "just one more chapter." 
And yes, we read it again for "after lunch" story time.

And during Jack's quiet time? Why I'm busy reading whatever Robby picks out.
(I love how he stands on tiptoe to retrieve a favorite book.)

My days are rich and filled to the brim with joy!

Wednesday, August 19, 2020

Poetry Friday: A Significant Week!

When Mary Lee put out the call for Poetry Friday hosts, I knew that I had dabbled and showed up and reaped where others had sown for far too long. So I gathered my courage, picked what looked like an unremarkable week in August, and signed up to host Poetry Friday for the first time. 

Little did I realize at the time that this week had SIGNIFICANCE! 

It's the anniversary week of the passing of the 19th amendment. There's so much to learn and so many opportunities available. I still haven't watched the American Experience: The Vote (a two part PBS special I recorded).  I saved the special section from Sunday's New York Times, "How American Women Won the Right to Vote," and I'm slowly reading the articles. While writing this post, I discovered 14 Ways to Celebrate the 100th Anniversary of the 19th Amendment. While written for residents of Washington, several links lead to online opportunities.

It's the week of the Democratic National Convention, a convention unlike any we've ever seen before. And I've been lucky to watch the proceedings and commentary of the first three nights and am looking forward to the final night's events on Thursday evening.

It's the anniversary week of my first post for Poetry Friday. Mind you, I'd been a lurker and commenter for a long time, but it was during this week (six years ago) that I finally took the plunge and began my journey as a some-of-the-time participant in Poetry Friday. And guess who left a comment on that first post? None other than Lee Bennett Hopkins! It still makes my heart happy to read his words on that post.

Here are my poetry offerings for this week: 

Evie Shockely's "women's voting rights at one hundred (but who's counting?)" was co-commissioned by the Academy of American Poets and the New York Philharmonic as part of the Project 19 initiative (with new poems by nineteen contemporary women poets). Shockely's poem reminds us that amid celebrations of the centennial of the Nineteenth Amendment, we should remember the ongoing struggle of black women to claim their voting rights.

Say Her Name arrived in the brown bag that I picked up curbside recently at my local branch of the library. Zetta Elliott is a new-to-me author and I'm not sure how I learned about this book. The back cover of the book has this endorsement: "Award-winning author Zetta Elliott engages poets from the past two centuries to create a chorus of voices celebrating the creativity, resilience, and courage of Black women and girls. ...these poems pay tribute to victims of police brutality as well as the activists championing the Black Lives Matter cause." As I read this book, I discovered that I have much to learn. After my first reading of the book, I found the notes at the end which helped provide much needed context for many of the poems and led to another reading of the book, flipping from poem to notes in the back for the additional information.


Here's a link to Camp TV (fast forward to 47:05 to find the exact spot) where you can listen to Zetta Elliott read her new picture book (published July 2020), "A Place Inside of Me: A Poem to Heal the Heart."

I look forward to reading your blog posts and seeing what you'll share this week. 




Saturday, August 15, 2020

Sharing Our Story: Serendipity Arrived!

The request arrived via an email from a friend who knows me well. We met as young moms in Texas. We are both teachers. We supported each other through our second pregnancies. We spent countless hours in the company of each other because her husband traveled and mine worked many hours. We volunteered at the local elementary school. We alternated weeks for a day of summer camp at each other's houses so we could have some time to ourselves. Her daughter headed off to middle school the year before my son did. My friend blazed trails ahead of me and was always available to brainstorm when a new parenting concern arose. And then we moved from Texas to Washington the summer of 1997. And now both of us are navigating being grandmothers at the same time.

So when she sent a text requesting book help, I wanted to help. Her son and daughter-in-law are working from home, as so many are now. He needs a child's bedroom for his office. Did I know of any children's books that portrayed opposite sex siblings sharing a bedroom? I didn't, but I scoured my bookshelves. I asked the librarian for help. And I came up with next to nothing, just one book about a lovely sibling relationship, but no reference to their room. 

So it was with sheer delight that I recently opened a book from my latest library pickup and found the perfect example for my friend and her son's family. I'm not sure how I stumbled upon this book, probably from someone's recommendation since I'm not familiar with the author or illustrator (except that when I read the back flap, I discovered that the illustrator is author/illustrator of one of our favorites, The Digger and the Flower).

Here are the words from the front flap: "This lyrical bedtime story celebrates the wondrous bounty of the natural world and the intimate family moments we share each night."

And here are the pages that make this a perfect fit for my friend in search of a book that portrays opposite sex siblings sharing a room. 

And I also love that an earlier two page spread shows the children kneeling in prayer. I'm celebrating that I was lucky to find the perfect book for my friend and her son's family. You never know when the right book will arrive to address your latest need!

To savor the magic of story, join the fun by linking your story at Sharing Our Stories.

Friday, August 14, 2020

Poetry Friday: Curbside Pickup and Library Memories


Molly at Nix the Comfort Zone is hosting
this week's roundup of poetic goodness. 
Check out her delightful monotera about
 the demise of their sole area code in Michigan. 

Since daughter and her family had the week off and went camping last week, we watched the boys on Saturday (daughter and son-in-law's anniversary) instead of our usual Friday. The highlight of the day was when I told the boys I was going to the library to pick up books. Suddenly, everyone wanted to join me! And so we loaded up - Grandma, Grandpa, three and a half year old Jack, and sixteen month old Robby. 


As we pulled in front of the library, Jack asked if he could come in and I had to tell him, "No, I won't even be going in. We are here for curbside pickup." However, after four months without any new library books, we're thrilled for curbside pickup!  


Here's a lovely Nikki Giovanni poem "My First Memory (of Librarians)" that I discovered when I went in search of the link for "Knoxville, Tennessee" for last week's Poetry Friday share. Here's the final stanza . Be sure to click on the link to read the entire poem.


"The welcoming smile of my librarian

The anticipation in my heart

All those books—another world—just waiting

At my fingertips." 


I look forward to the day when we can enter libraries again, but I celebrate books in brown paper bags at tables outside the library. I'm so grateful for libraries and their efforts to provide books and services during the pandemic.

Tuesday, August 11, 2020

SOL & #52Stories 32/52: Granny Memories & the Puttering Gene

#52Stories is my attempt to write 52 stories from my life during the year 2020. At least one story a week, in no particular order, to remember and document some of the memories and moments of my life.

My granny, Ella Duff, lived down the street from us when I was growing up. When she sold the farm at McNally flat and moved to town, she bought the house across the street and two houses down from ours. Our granny wasn't particularly indulgent, not like her sister, Aunt Becky, who moved next door to her. Aunt Becky (who never had children of her own) indulged her great nieces and nephews with treats (candy, cookies, cake, or ice cream), and talked to us, and treated us just like grownups.

My granny often seemed lost in her own world. She could while away a day chasing one of her two favorite passions. Either one would be scattered all over the living room while she hummed and puttered. I think I may have inherited her puttering gene. Several weeks ago while my husband hiked, I puttered. Hard to say exactly what I accomplished, but I did get a walk in around noon. But before then? I meandered through a pile of old newspapers that I've been wanting to read! Granny's puttering was much more productive, with end products (eventually) as a result of her puttering. So what were her two puttering obsessions that could cover every sofa and chair and even the floor?

One was quilting. Every grandchild was given a quilt made by Granny when they married. Everyone in the family gave their fabric scraps to Granny, so looking at the quilts is a stroll through family history. My sister, Kay, knows the origin of many of the scraps in my quilt. As Granny slipped into dementia, she continued laying out fabric scraps to plan her next creation.

I love the idea of quilting, but not so much the actual execution. I still have a partially finished wall hanging from a time when I took a quilting class and envisioned becoming a quilter just like Granny. However, thanks to Ann Frederickson's tutelage of a group of girls from our congregation one summer, Sara acquired basic sewing skills and inherited her great grandmother's quilting gene. That particular gene just happened to skip a generation. I'm amazed by the lovingly constructed quilts Sara creates and shares. Her latest creation? This car quilt she constructed for Jack during the early days of the pandemic. 

But I digress, back to Granny's other favorite puttering activity, genealogy. I still remember the brown briefcase with gold clasps that housed all those long genealogy sheets. And the hours she spent in search of her ancestors. Maybe I have a bit of that gene, although it's been germinating for a long while. When I pull up FamilySearch and begin to look around, it's as if Granny is peering over my shoulder, whispering, "Go, Mona, go!"

Sunday, August 9, 2020

Poetry Friday: Kiss Summer Goodbye!

Laura Purdie Salas is hosting
this week's roundup of poetic goodness. 
Check out her poem "Blow It Up, Pufferfish!"
When I taught 3rd grade, my teaching partner 
had a pufferfish for our discovery table. 
It was my introduction to this fish. 

I know it's not Friday. We usually watch the grand boys on Fridays at our house, but they went camping this week. So we watched the boys on Saturday (their parents' anniversary).  I had high hopes for being a faithful Poetry Friday poster all month. I'm hosting Poetry Friday for the first time later in the month. Since Saturday felt like Friday all day, it seems that I'm really just a day late (instead of two) with this post.

Today, while reading some summer poems at, I reread an old favorite, "Knoxville, Tennessee" by Nikki Giovanni I went in search of my children's book of the same title, published in 1994 and illustrated by Larry Johnson. I didn't find it, but I know it's on my shelves somewhere. When I find it, I'll be sure to shelve it with my poetry books. I fear that's it out of print since I couldn't find it on Amazon.

This poem paired perfectly with one of my "opening of school" traditions. My students used to write a Kiss Summer Goodbye paragraph each year. It was a great way for them to acknowledge what they would be missing as we moved into the beginning of the school year. We followed up with another paragraph, Embrace Festive Fall, as we looked forward to fall festivities.

And even though August is still summer, my students always felt that summer ended the day they started back to school. If you're not familiar with Giovanni's poem, take a moment to click on the title and read it. You'll be transported to summer in a grand way and perhaps reflect on some of your own summer memories. And we do need to rely on our memories this year when our summer has been lived so much differently than usual. 

Friday, August 7, 2020

Spiritual Journey Thursday & #52Stories 31/52: Art for the Soul

 It's time to show up with our friends for Spiritual Journey Thursday. 
Margaret at Reflections on the Teche is our host this month and
selected Spiritual Art as our theme. The image shared on her post reminds 
us of the value of touch and connection during this time of pandemic.
More than 25 years ago while living in Houston, we purchased original art for our home. I love each piece, but this one remains a favorite. When we walked through our current home with a realtor, I could already visualize this art by Annell Livingston mounted above the fireplace in the living room.

Annell's later works focus on geometric shapes, but this earlier piece speaks to my soul and has continued to do so for the decades that it has resided in our home. There's a definite southwestern feel to this piece which may be why we were so attracted to it. I love the colors, the movement I feel when I look at it, the honing in on a contemplative moment with one person perched in front of a small building (that I like to think of as a chapel). It encourages me to slow down, to breathe, to meditate, to savor the beauty that surrounds me. 
Indeed, borrowing from this article in our files from an unidentified magazine,  Annell's art "...reminds us that sacred space is all around..." ("Squaring Off: Annell Livingston's radical shift from realism to abstraction," by Donna Tennant, September 1993). During this time of pandemic, I find embracing sacred space to be an essential act. Whether that sacred space is found in art, in nature, in scripture, in prayer or in mediation, it is a way to connect with the divine. I hope you are finding sacred space in your days.

If you feel so inclined, could you add my brother, Karl, and his family, to your prayer list? He is hospitalized in Oklahoma and facing serious medical issues (not COVID).

Saturday, August 1, 2020

SOS & Poetry Friday & #52Stories 30/52: Playing with Words for My First Nonet

  Catherine at Reading  to the Core is hosting  
this week's roundup of poetic goodness. 
Check out her poem "The Edge of the World" 
for a bit of mermaid love, inspired by an 
illustration by Emily Winfield Martin

Sometimes I have no idea of what I'm going to write for a particular post and today was one of those Fridays. When this happens, I usually just start reading and before long, someone inspires me and I'm ready to write.  Today's inspiration came from Irene's post and the handout she created, How to Write a Nonet. A nonet is a nine-line poem that starts with one syllable in the first line and ends with nine syllables in the last line (or the reverse).

Suddenly I knew I wanted to combine my Poetry Friday post with Sharing Our Stories - Open Invitation #17: Have fun! And I remembered the box of words I've clipped and saved, inspired by Leigh Anne Eck's found poems she wrote for National Poetry Month in April. 

So I opened that box of words and reminded myself that summer is flying by and I need to relish the days (yes, even during the pandemic). Here's my playful attempt (thanks, Ruth) at writing my first nonet (thanks, Irene) using my box of saved words (thanks, Leigh Anne). It was fun!
Play every day
Delicious summer
Everyone's invited
Walk, dance, party, linger in
ice cream days of songs and stories
Go! Create, cut-up, glow, be happy.
- Ramona Behnke

To savor the magic of story, join the fun each week by linking your story at Sharing Our Stories.