Friday, December 14, 2012

The Snow-Flake


No snowflakes here in the deep South, but we can always hope! It did at least get cold this week, a nice cool change from our 70/80 degree winter. So I am enjoying the images of snow in verse.

Enjoy more Poetry Friday at Jama's Alphabet Soup.

The Snow-Flake
Walter De La Mare

Before I melt,
Come, look at me!
This lovely icy filigree!
Of a great forest
In one night
I make a wilderness
Of white:
By skyey cold
Of crystals made,
All softly, on
Your finger laid,
I pause, that you
My beauty see:
Breathe, and I vanish

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Taking Stock

December is always a month of looking back for me. Did I accomplish what I set out to do? Did I achieve the goals I set for myself? Did I stay true to the word I felt was mine for the year?

So I started looking back and realized I didn't really set any goals this year.

That may sound terrible, but it was just the reality of my place in time back last January. My desire for the year had nothing to do with accomplishing pages of writing, but rather with reconnecting with my love for writing. I seem to have lost something of that in the push of trying to get books written.

Somewhere about midway through the year, I felt the word for me was "Don't strive." That's not the same as don't try, don't create, don't write, but don't strive so that the joy in the writing gets lost in the producing a product.

So have I been true to those "un-goals" I set for myself this year?

In some ways, yes. I have relaxed a bit. I have had some wonderful reconnections with my writing. Sometimes though, I still miss the joy I once had in playing with words. I am still wanting that essence to return to my writing life.

Health challenges with my parents have been a very real part of this year's journey. As I watch them in this last stage of life, my heart fills will a myriad of emotions. Sometimes it's hard to get past them to write. Sometimes they are the impetus to write. I find that I need to give myself a bit of room, not expect so much of myself on these days. Life is happening right before me and I need to be part of it. And hopefully the writing will flow from it with a little more grace.

How about you? Are you looking back? If so, what have you found?

Monday, December 10, 2012

Don't Feed the Boy

I absolutely loved this book! Okay, yes, I've had it since October, but life is strange and the to be read pile is never ending, but finally I managed to get to it, and it's wonderful.

From Roaring Book Press. Available on Amazon.

Of course, I'm slightly prejudiced because I love the author,

Irene Latham

 but that doesn't change the fact that this is a good book. 

You may think you'd like to live in the zoo, but Whit, who really does live in the zoo, would change places with you in a minute. Whit's mother is the zoo director and his father the elephant keeper. The business of the zoo keeps his parents so involved with the animals that it's easy for Whit to be overlooked. He even wonders if he should have been born another species. 

Whit hasn't had many friends besides the animals. He is homeschooled by a tutor and seldom goes anywhere outside the zoo. When he discovers Stella, the Bird Girl, Whit is determined to become her friend. He takes her on tours and into places only the zoo people are allowed to go. When he breaks the rule never to leave the zoo and goes to Stella's house, he is confronted by a problem that is way too big for him to solve. But that doesn't mean he won't try. 

Whit has "normal" problems with his parents. Problems most eleven-year-olds experience. Stella's problems are much more threatening. Yet Irene handles both situations with respect and sensitivity. 

I love the scene when Stella realizes that Whit understands her situation. He doesn't feel safe in her house, but he doesn't want to leave her. 

She grabbed his arm. "So now you know. And that's why you can't complain about your parents. Because what you have is so much better than this."
Whit stared at her.
What she said was true.
And it wasn't.
Yes, it was an awful situation. Clearly Stella's family needed help. But that didn't make Whit's problems any less important. Stella telling him that he couldn't complain was like saying you can't complain when you have a sore throat because there are people in the world who have cancer.
Oh, he could complain all right. Stella didn't have the corner of the market on unhappiness. It was just different, that's all. Their situations were completely different.

Nice, huh? No spoilers here, but you'll breathe a sigh of relief for both characters as the book comes to a satisfying end. 

If you have a young reader on your Christmas list, it's perfect stocking stuffer. 

Monday, November 26, 2012

Turning Five in Nigeria

My grandson turned five this weekend. Unfortunately, I couldn't be part of the party, since it took place in Nigeria. But I'd love to share some photos and brag a bit. According to my daughter-in-law, they played
 hot potato, musical chairs, duck duck grey duck (in my day this was duck, duck, goose!), and ring around the rosy. After dinner they lit candles and sang Happy Birthday. 

Love that happy face.

Not sure who won, but could it be that little blonde kid?

Happy Birthday, sweet boy!

The joys of a tug of war!


Friday, November 16, 2012

Enthralled on Poetry Friday

I have been reading my copy of Thrall by poet laureate Natasha Trethaway. Here are a few favorite bits to whet your appetite. Poetry lovers, you need this book!

More Poetry Friday with Anastasia Suen at Booktalking.

from "Taxonomy"

The canvas is a leaden sky
   behind them, heavy
with words, gold letters inscribing
   an equation of blood--

from "Kitchen Maid with Supper at Emmaus; or, The Mulata"

She is the vessels on the table before her:
the copper pot tipped toward us, the withe pitcher
clutched in her hand, the black one edged in red
and upside-down. Bent over, she is the mortar,

from "Help, 1968"

when my mother took me for walks,
she was mistaken again and again
for my maid. Years later she told me
she'd say I was her daughter, and each time
strangers would stare in disbelief, then
empty the change from their pockets. Now

from "Geography"

my father and I walk the rails south
toward town. More than twenty years
gone, he's come back to see this place,
recollect what he's lost. What he recalls
of my childhood is here. We find it
in the brambles of blackberry, the coins
flattened on the tracks. We can't help it--

from "Rotation"

Once, he watched over me as I dreamed.
   How small I was. Back then,
he was already turning to go, waning
   like the moon that night--my father.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

2012 Georgia Literary Festival on Jekyll Island

It was a wonderful weekend in this gorgeous piece of paradise!

 It's a very long ways from Columbus to the coast. Fortunately, my good friend Karen Johnson went down with me and kept me awake on the long drive. We arrived on Thursday night and crashed at a hotel in Brunswick. On Friday, Dr. Jennifer Gray, who coordinates the writing center at the College of Coastal Georgia, along with three of her writing coaches picked me up to take me to my school visits for the day.

 Because I prefer to do actual writing workshops, a single classroom situation is the best scenario. My first visit of the day was with fourth graders at Satilla Marsh Elementary where we worked to create a plan for a personal narrative. I was thrilled with the teacher's report that although she had special ed students and autistic students in the classroom, every child successfully completed their plan.

Dr. Jennifer Gray, Hannah, me, Beth, and Ashley.
My second school visit was with second graders at Altama Elementary. Both sessions were combined classes. Forty students in the first session and fifty in the second. I was grateful and proud of my entourage of writing coaches who pitched in and helped the students. You go, girls! That's what writing coaches do! And thanks for the lovely lunch on St. Simon's Island.

Jennifer delivered me to the hotel on the island. What a wonderful place with such fascinating history. The first transcontinental telephone call was initiated here with Dr. Bell in New York and Mr. Watson in San Francisco.

The festival was held at the new conference center on Jekyll, a lovely setting with views of the Atlantic from nearly every window.

It seems to happen to me often when I would really love to have a photo. I couldn't get the camera button to work. Though it worked fine the rest of the weekend. So I'm grateful to have found a video by Buffy Hamilton from the Unquiet Librarian of Natasha Trethaway's reading of "The Elegy," the first poem in her collection, Thrall. Ms. Trethaway read numerous poems from the collection. I was moved to tears. Literally. I had to sit for a moment before I could leave the presentation. Perhaps because I'm dealing with my own father's final days, the tenderness and the struggles inherent in this collection (one that she called a public conversation with her father) hit a sweet spot in my heart.

Saturday was a wonderful time of hanging out with good friends, Gail Karwoski and Lola Schafer. And meeting new ones. The children's sessions were fairly small, but well attended. I always take my hat box with me to talk about the writing process, all the hats a writer wears. It's not literal, but I really do like literal hats, so what can I say?

Saturday night, we enjoyed a wine dinner with Chef Hugh Acheson, who owns the Five & Ten in Athens and the Empire State South in Atlanta. I have no idea how they decide who will sit with whom, but table nine was the place to be. Karen and I were joined by BA and Gabe, owners of a sustainable farm in Brunswick who provided vegetables for the night's meal, a couple from Florida (so sorry I've lost the card with their names) who also run a sustainable farm, and a book reviewer from Atlanta. The laughter flowed more volubly than the wine, I think. It was a wonderful close to a very full day.
The raucous crew of table nine.
Before we left on Sunday, Karen and I bicycled around the island. We started on the landward side, pedaling along the marshes of Glynn, then turned onto Driftwood Beach, an eerily beautiful scene. The tide was out and the sand was hard, so we biked the rest of the way around on the beach. So beautiful!

On the way out of town, we stopped at Sapelo Farms and BA gave us a tour, let us sample different varieties of greens, and introduced us to the baby lambs.

What satisfying weekend!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

An Early Poetry Friday

I will be on Jeckyl Island this weekend presenting at the Georgia Literary Festival. I am so excited to hear keynote speaker Natasha Tretheway, current Poet Laureate.

Other Southern Breezers on the docket for the children's part of the program include the effervescent Gail Karwoski and the always inspiring Lola Schaefer. I can't wait to see them. Also on the program are children's authors Danny Schnitzlein (The Monster Who Ate My Peas), Jane Wood, and Pamela Bauer Mueller. I have not met them, but I know they are awesome from their books.

I'll let you know more about the weekend when I return. In the meantime, Ed DeCaria will enthrall you with his rendition of Poetry Friday at Think Kid, Think!

by Natasha Tretheway

All day I've listened to the industry
of a single woodpecker, worrying the catalpa tree
just outside my window. Hard at his task,

his body is a hinge, a door knocker
to the cluttered house of memory in which
I can almost see my mother's face.

She is there, again, beyond the tree,
its slender pods and heart-shaped leaves,
hanging wet sheets on the line -- each one

a thin white screen between us. So insistent
is this woodpecker, I'm sure
he must be looking for something else -- not simply

the beetles and grubs inside,

Read the rest here (scroll to the bottom of the page).

Monday, November 5, 2012

Ironman Florida

I spent a packed three days in Panama City Beach this weekend with our daughter and boyfriend while they ran Ironman Florida 2012. Friday afternoon the temptation to take a nap was huge, but I resisted, choosing to get to bed early and sleep since rising time for race day was 4 a.m.  After dropping Jeanetta and John off to get ready, Cliff, Gail (or Gee, John's mom) and I parked the car and made our way to the beach. This was John's third Ironman. Jeanetta has done several half Ironman races, but this was her first full.

 They found us on the beach just before the start at 7 a.m. At the mass start, three thousand athletes rushed through the timing arch and into the water.

It was complete craziness! It looked like a massive school of human fish. Bodies packed together so tightly, you could have walked across them on the water. The water was rough, making it hard to see the course. We watched the rescue team bring several people ashore on stretchers attached to seadoos.

Once they transitioned out of the water, we were able to see both of them heading out on the bikes. Then it was time for a breakfast break and a few hours of rest at the condo. The bike ride took them right past our condo, so we stood on the sidewalk cheering riders on their way to the finish until we saw John go past. We jumped in the car and headed back to the race area hoping we would see John early on the run, but he was already past us.

We caught him (on the right) at about mile 12 of the run. 

Then we rushed back over to catch Jeanetta coming in on the bike. Here's where we got separated. Gee went back to the car because we forgot John's keys. He was planning to load the bikes after he finished. I was rushing forward so I wouldn't miss Jeanetta coming in. Cliff was searching for a trash can to dump our garbage. In a crowd of about 30,000, a blue shirt just doesn't stand out! We never found each other again until the end of the race. 

I watched her come in, then raced back to the other side of the transition area to see her leave on the run. She stopped coming out and gave me a hug. Jeanetta told us later that she saw all three of us and we probably weren't more than 10 yards apart.

At one point we had to cross the bike path. It was like playing a game of chicken. There were crossing volunteers. I would have had heart failure if that had been my job. Bikes coming down the road at 20 miles an hour, a short space in the oncoming traffic, a mad dash by handfuls of spectators going both directions across the road! Someone shouted, "Run like a bandit!"

Once Jeanetta was out on the run, it was time to watch for John to come in for his finish. I found a nice spot on the rail just before the stretch to the finish line. The bleachers at the grandstand were crowded, noisy, and hard. I was happy to be at a spot where I could see the runners coming in. He finished with a great time, but pushing himself in the heat of the day took a toll on his body. He crossed the finish line and headed straight to the medical tent with cramping and dehydration. Fortunately there were still hours left before Jeanetta came and and Gee was able to take him back to the condo where he could soak in the tub and recover a bit before coming back to the grandstands for Jeanetta's finish. 

After he finished, I waited around for a while thinking I might find Cliff or Gee, but no such luck. So I headed back to the car and to wait and see Jeanetta at the turn around midway through the run. Cliff had done the same thing and we finally stumbled on each other again. At the midpoint, Jeanetta was still looking happy. 

We went and found some dinner. Cliff watched some of the LSU/Alabama football game. He had a wager going with our son on the game. Loser buys dinner. We connected with Gee by phone and agreed to meet them at the grandstand to watch Jeanetta come in. During the last half of the run, she started slowing down. Cliff went to find her and was able to run the last bit with her before the finish.

I'm not too good with a camera when I'm trying to see what's going on, too! I pressed stop too soon, but I did catch a bit of her finish. 

 So proud of my sweet ironman woman!

Swim - 2.4 miles. Finish times. John - 1:19:45 Jeanetta - 1:24:26
Bike - 110 miles. Finish times. John - 5:05:12  Jeanetta - 7:45:12
Run - 26.2 miles.  Finish times. John - 3:51:00  Jeanetta - 6:38:01

Overall finish.
 John - 10:28:16
 Jeanetta - 15:59:50

We finally got to bed around 1 a.m. What a day!

Friday, November 2, 2012

Poetry Friday: If a Song Could Be President

I'm tired of all the political commercials and phone calls and speeches and debates. You probably are, too. Soon it will be decided and life can move on for another four years. In the meantime, I'm enjoying Over the Rhine. I hope this song brightens your Poetry Friday. Be sure you vote!

More poems brighten the day at Mainely Write.

If A Song Could Be President 

If a song could be president
We'd hum on Election Day
The gospel choir would start to sway
And we'd all have a part to play

The first lady would free her hips
Pull a microphone to her lips
Break our hearts with Rhythm and Blues
Steve Earle would anchor the news

We'd vote for a melody
Pass it around on an mp3
All our best foreign policy
Would be built on harmony

If a song could be president
We'd fly a jukebox to the moon
All our founding fathers' 45's
Lightnin' Hopkins and Patsy Cline
If a song could be president

If a song could be president
We could all add another verse
Life would teach us to rehearse
Till we found a key change

Break out of this minor key
Half-truths and hypocrisy
We wouldn't need an underachiever-in-chief
If a song could be president

We'd make Neil Young a Senator
Even though he came from Canada
Emmylou would be Ambassador
World leaders would listen to her

They would show us where our country went wrong
Strum their guitars on the White House lawn
John Prine would run the FBI
All the criminals would laugh and cry
If a song could be president.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Common Core Links

While thinking about my upcoming author visits, I wandered around on some nonfiction author blogs and stumbled upon some excellent recent posts on the Common Core. I thought I would pass them along.

Free teacher's guides to using award winning nonfiction trade books.

Nonfiction author Carla McClafferty on the Common Core

Darcy Pattison with links on choosing common core text exemplars

Common Core Writing Standards Rubric

Enjoy your trick or treaters tonight!

Friday, October 26, 2012

A Woman and her Wheels

Our Poetry Friday host is Linda at TeacherDance.

I have bicycles on the brain this week. So here's bicycle poem for the day.

The Maiden
by Anonymous

The maiden with her wheel of old
Sat by the fire to spin,
While lightly through her careful hold
The flax slid out and in.
Today her distaff, rock and reel
Far out of sight are hurled
And now the maiden with her wheel
Goes spinning round the world.

Must get back to the work in progress. Yes, it has bicycles.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

WIK 2012

The WIK 2012 conference for Southern Breeze (SCBWI) was exceptional this year. The writing intensive on Friday before the conference featured Donna Jo Napoli. What a delightful lady she is, so passionate about writing for children. She began the day with a question many people ask her, "How do you do so many things?" Her answer -- "Badly!" -- won my heart.

She talked about writing her first draft very quickly, knowing that it's terrible, but rewarding herself with chocolate at the end of a page, a beer at the end of a chapter, and a bottle of wine at the end of a draft. Then she puts it away--for months. When she comes back to it, she looks for organization. The next step for her is to take it to readers where the goal is to read it aloud. Reading to a classroom or an afterschool program or a library group. She stressed the importance of finding those readers, watching their body language, paying attention to their responses, both verbal and nonverbal.

She delivered a marvelous keynote speech Saturday morning on why she writes about terrible things.

In the first workshop session, I taught a class on the nuts and bolts of publishing. I always determine the success of a class based on whether I had a good time or not. This one was a blast. The room was full of dry-sponge, newbie writers ready to soak up every bit of information they could. Fun!

During the second session, I attended Vicky Alvear Shecter's class on using your nonfiction research to write historical fiction. She did a wonderful job using the research on Cleopatra  into Cleopatra's Moon as examples. Some tips from Vicky that stood out:

Vicky was the Crystal Kite Award Winner for the Southern Region.

  • You need a clear bad guy from the very opening! What specific person has power over that kid that is beyond manageable. If you can’t write about it in the opening, at least hint at it.
  • Make sure it could have happened that way. Be ready to defend the choices you have made. 
  • Never assume on details.
Julie Hamm's (associate editor at Charlesbridge) workshop was a double session after lunch. Charlesbridge publishes 60% nonfiction/40% fiction. Julie read paragraphs from each of the Siebert award winners since 2002 when the award began. We plotted them on a graph from traditional/safe to expressive/edgy. As you might expect, the winners from the last three or four years leaned farther to the expressive/edgy side of the graph. 

Tips from Julie:
  • Read all applicable literature on your subject matter.
  • Revise from multiple perspectives.
  • Highlight each adjective and verb in your piece, then replace any that feel a bit weak and tweak for a sense of immediacy.
  • Hone in on the elements that most excite you. Bring those facts/events to a surprising light.
There were other workshops that I missed with Marietta Zacker, Agent with Nancy Gallt Literary Agency, Leila Sales, associate editor at Viking Children's Books, and Kevin Lewis, author/illustrator and executive editor at Disney/Hyperion. But you can only do what you can do. That's my new motto. 

All in all, it was a wonderful, exhausting weekend!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Poetry Friday: Home

At the Miss Rumphius Effect blog this week, the poetry prompt was to write a poem about home. You can see my contribution there, though it's a bit rough and should have been shored up more before I posted. Don't you hate it when you do that?! 

Since I'm traveling again this weekend, SCBWI Southern Breeze WIK (fall conference), I'm identifying with all these home poems. Here is one more, posted at Your Daily Poem this week. 

Irene Latham hosts Poetry Friday today at Live Your Poem. Irene has been busy on a blog tour the last two weeks to launch her new book, Don't Feed the Boy. Today she's hosting a community zoo poem (yes, I contributed two lines) to celebrate Poetry Friday and the new book. Join her for a real treat!

by Barbara Eknoian

I cross the miles holding
on to memories:
my children’s first steps,
their first days at school,
romping in piles
of orange and gold leaves.

The neighborhood movie house,
where Rocky played
for six months.
It was something I could rely on
when I looked up at the marquee.

The drugstore where my kids
brought their piggy banks;
the clerk counting out
pennies to buy me perfume.

Chatting over the backyard fence,
as we hung clothes on our lines.
Margaret always washed
on Mondays, shopped on Thursdays;
Vivian walked to the market at noon.

I arrive in the new land
of smog-filled haze
and star-like cacti,
I am on another planet.

Read the rest at Your Daily Poem.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Bathroom Reading

I was avoiding the chores that needed to be done this morning by scrolling through old blog posts by some friends I enjoy reading. I stumbled upon this bit from an interview Irene Latham posted with poet Barry Marks. 

What do you read in the bathroom?
Magazines: Esquire, Rolling Stone, Smithsonian, etc


I suppose it caught my attention because one of the chores I did just manage to complete was cleaning out my bathroom reading bucket. I threw out 2011 catalogs from Boyds Mills Press, Charlesbridge, and Peachtree Publishing. I filed 2011 to 2012 copies of SCBWI Newsletter.

My Chevrolet green fifties bathroom and my reading bucket. 
I left in about two years worth of the Chrildren's Writer Marketplace, the latest copy of the SCBWI Newsletter, 2012 catalogs from Sleeping Bear, Pelican, and Charlesbridge, one copy of the Birmingham Arts Journal, a small volume of the Gospel of John, and Letters to a Young Poet by Ranier Rilke that I bought when I was in Portland visiting my daughter. 

Okay, back to the must-get-done list before I head to Albany tomorrow. 

Friday, October 12, 2012

A Poet and his Dog

"I came to poetry with no particular qualifications. I had begun to suspect, however, that there is a poet—or a kind of poet—buried in every human being like Ariel in his tree, and that the people whom we are pleased to call poets are only those who have felt the need and contrived the means to release this spirit from its prison."
                                 --James Dickey in Howard Nemerov's Poets on Poetry

The Poetry Friday Roundoup is at Teaching Young Writers

A Dog Sleeping on My Feet
By James Dickey

'Being his resting place,
I do not even tense
The muscles of a leg
Or I would seem to be changing.
Instead I turn the page
Of the notebook, carefully not

Remembering what I have written,
For now, with my feet beneath him
Dying like embers,
The poem is beginning to move
Up through my pine-prickling legs
Out of the night wood,

Taking hold of the pen by my fingers.
Before me the fox floats lightly,
On fire with his holy scent.
All, all are running.
Marvelous is the pursuit,
Like a dazzle of nails through the ankles,

Like a twisting shout through the trees
Sent after the flying fox
Through the holes of logs, over streams
Stock-still with the pressure of moonlight.
My killed legs,
My legs of a dead thing, follow,

Quick as pins, through the forest,
And all rushes on into dark
And ends on the brightness of paper.
When my hand, which speaks in a daze
The hypnotized language of beasts,
Shall falter, and fail

Back into the human tongue,
And the dog gets up and goes out

To wander the dawning yard,
I shall crawl to my human bed
And lie there smiling at sunrise,
With the scent of the fox

Burning in my brain like an incense,
Floating out of the night wood,
Coming home to my wife and my sons
From the dream of an animal,
Assembling the self I must wake to,
Sleeping to grow back my legs.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Conference Crazy!

Conferences galore the last few weeks. I just haven’t had time to stop and blog about it all.

I’ve been to:

The Local Author Showcase at the Columbus Library where about 40 local authors attended. It was lots of fun connecting with folks I knew and meeting other like-minded writers who live nearby. Steve Scott, the Kudzu King, occupied the table next to me. He’s a great hit at local school libraries. 

At the Maneuver Conference in Columbus, I walked the exhibit hall talking to vendors, looking for advertisers and articles for the magazine, the Infantry Bugler, where I work as an editor. I’ve been doing this job for ten years now. It’s a quarterly magazine, so I’m only there one day a week. With the added responsibilities of my mother and dad in different nursing/assisted living facilities, I’d love to find someone to replace me. So if you live near Columbus and are reading this and are interested, get in touch with me.

The Chattahoochee Valley Writers Conference in Columbus is put on by a group of local writers. Most of the workshops are geared for adult writers, but I taught a class on writing for the educational market. Two highlights. I got to hang out with my sweet friend, Irene Latham. I enjoyed Irene’s class on writing poetry from artwork. She does such a wonderful job teaching poetry.

And I rubbed shoulders with the amazing Terry Kay, the keynote speaker. I took a workshop with him years ago and the exercises he used, one impromptu drama sketch in particular, remain vivid in my memory. He drops names like Pat Conroy and James Dickey, both of whom were/are close friends, says outrageous things that most of us could never get away with, and just keeps writing wonderful Southern stories. He recommends typing out the text of great literature as a means of learning the rhythm of a good story. And he follows his own advice.

Last week, I donned my business suit and manned the Delaney booth at the COMO (Council of Media Organizations) conference in Macon. Lots of librarians. Lots of books. Lots of good friends. Fellow writer and vendor, Annette Laing, is always a pleasure to visit. I was wishing for a good cup of English tea, but she didn’t bring the teabags along this year, just her delightful British humor.

 And at the author reception, fellow Southern Breeze authors Vicky Alvear Shecter and  S.R. Johannes signed copies of their new books.

 Next week is WIK, the fall conference by Southern Breeze (SCBWI) in Birmingham.

Then there’s only one more (the Georgia Literature Festival) and I can breathe again. This is what happens when you have too many jobs! 

Friday, September 28, 2012

Poetry Friday: Margaret Atwood

This has been a week of moments. Some harried and addled. Some bright and beautiful. Some quiet and still. I've tried to enter each one with purpose, to find a place to plant my feet and dig my toes into the shifting hours, brace against the slapping waves of responsibility, and plunge into the next thing with joy.

This morning, the next thing is to take my dad to the doctor. The next thing after that is time with the lovely Irene Latham this weekend and the Chattahoochee Valley Writer's Conference. 

Wishing you wondrous moments today. And plenty of Poetry Friday at Paper Tigers.

The Moment
Margaret Atwood

The moment when, after many years
of hard work and a long voyage
you stand in the centre of your room,
house, half-acre, square mile, island, country,
knowing at last how you got there,
and say, I own this,

is the same moment when the trees unloose
their soft arms from around you,
the birds take back their language,
the cliffs fissure and collapse,
the air moves back from you like a wave
and you can't breathe.

Read the rest here.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Poetry Friday: Elizabeth Bishop

I'm slow to Friday. Slow to Poetry Friday. Just plain slow today. 

While getting ready this morning, I realized I couldn't find my phone. I looked in all the probably places. Hubby helped me look with different eyes. I called myself. Nope. No one home. So I sat down to breakfast.  Hubby says, "When that happens to me, I have to retrace my steps." So between bites of scrambled egg and yogurt and strawberries, I mentally walked myself back in the door from last night. Clothes. I put clothes in the dryer. Went to check and there it was, on top of the dryer, lying on a folded towel. No wonder I couldn't hear the thing vibrate.

So we're getting ready to go out the door and hubby says, "I can't find my watch." We looked in all the usual places. No watch. I said, "You know, when that happens to me, I have to retrace my steps." We cracked up laughing. No time to retrace steps, so he's probably been retracing them all day long. Hopefully the watch will show up tonight.

I got in the car, planning to plug my phone in, since it had been on battery power all night and was nearly dead. I couldn't find the phone charger. 

So here is the perfect poem for losing things.

One Art
Elizabeth Bishop

The art of losing isn't hard to master;
so many things seem filled with the intent
to be lost that their loss is no disaster,

Lose something every day. Accept the fluster
of lost door keys, the hour badly spent.
The art of losing isn't hard to master.

Then practice losing farther, losing faster:
places, and names, and where it was you meant
to travel. None of these will bring disaster.

I lost my mother's watch. And look! my last, or
next-to-last, of three loved houses went.
The art of losing isn't hard to master.

Read the rest here.
More Poetry Friday witRenĂ©e over at No Water River.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Poetry Friday: Tennyson

I took an online class this summer on plotting and outlining a novel with Dennis Foley through It was a really good class and Dennis recommended Scrivener as the tool of choice. So I've played around with it for a couple of months and finally decided to buy the version for Windows. This program is really involved, very powerful, and I needed more than a tutorial, so I'm taking the class offered by Gwen Hernandez. It's a pretty cool program and Gwen is a good teacher. If you write fiction, it's worth checking out. I use OneNote for research on my nonfiction projects, but I can see where Scrivener can be useful here, too. Even for keeping up with blog posts, Scrivener looks like a great program for making life easier.

Gwen recommended a wonderful blog post by a friend about using Scrivener. It's definitely worth reading. Check it out at The Ruby-Slippered Sisterhood.

There is no theme to this post. I just felt like this poem today. Enjoy. More Poetry Friday at

The Oak
by Alfred Lord Tennyson

Live thy Life,
Young and old,
Like yon oak,
Bright in spring,
Living gold;

Then; and then
Gold again.

All his leaves
Fall'n at length,
Look, he stands,
Trunk and bough
Naked strength.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Monday Musing

Random musing going on for Labor Day!

1.  If you have an iPhone, there is an app called Viber that lets you talk to anyone around the world free who also has an iPhone with Viber.  Stephen called on Saturday morning to say they had arrived in Lagos, Nigeria. They made all their flights and connections and managed to get through customs despite the fact that the forgot to take proof of the vaccines. He called again Saturday afternoon to let us know the had reached Fiditi, where they would stay for the night.  By now they should be settling in to the school and working to get the wifi up and running. I'm grateful for their safe travels. Fiditi is between Ibidan and Oyo. 

2. My dad is feeling a little better in a rehab facility. I think he's decided to stick around for a while longer. In a few weeks. We may be able to bring him home. My brother and I will put a refrigerator downstairs in his tri-level house, along with a microwave and toaster oven, so that he doesn't have to get up the stairs. I live four houses down from him and in a couple of weeks, my brother will be moving back to town and will be living in his house for a while.  

3.  I once sold a book called "In Your Genes" to a fifth grade teacher for teaching science. Unfortunately, it was a bit too graphic about what was in your jeans for a fifth grade classroom. We exchanged it for something more appropriate.  I was sitting in my dad's room this week and noticed he was sleeping with one foot out from under the bed covers. That's how I sleep. So is that in the genes, too?

4.  There are secrets grandparents keep. Until you're a grandparent, you don't even know they exist. If you're a grandparent, call me and we'll break open a bottle of wine. If you're not a grandparent, you 'll just have to wait.

5. I saw the cover of one of my new books this week. It's a series with State Standards on Native Peoples. I wrote the Inuit, Kwakiutl, and Nez Perce. Love the cover! 

Friday, August 31, 2012

Saying Goodbye

My house is strewn with toys. My energy is no match for the two little ones that have filled the rooms with noise this week. We've read books, watched Sheriff Woody and Buzz Lightyear multiple times, done puzzles, played Operation, and fed the ducks. Today my son and wife and their two sweet children board a plane for Nigeria where they will serve as house parents for a new school, Bethel American International School, opening just north of Fiditi. It's about three hours drive from Lagos on the coast.

In the last four months, they have sold, packed, or given away most of their household goods. They are traveling with nine suitcases and six carry-ons, plus children and car-seats! We've had a sweet visit. I'll miss them, but they are so excited about being there. It's such a great fit for them. You can see their story here.

Sylvia Vardell is hosting Poetry Friday this week at Poetry for Children. Stop by and enjoy the poetic offerings. In the meantime, I'm headed to the airport.

Taking Off
by Mary McB. Green

The airplane taxis down the field
And heads into the breeze,
It lifts its wheels above the ground,
It skims above the trees,
It rises high and higher
Away up toward the sun,
It's just a speck against the sky
--And now it's gone!