Thursday, July 31, 2008
This year I am in charge of scheduling the author visits for our Pre-K to 8th grade elementary school. It's the first time I've ever done this and I am feeling really green. Can anyone offer advice, links, resources, names, recommendations or blog posts for me? I would prefer a really fabulous author with great kid-appeal with a fantastic presentation (writing process, poetry, fiction or non-fiction) for ages 4 - 13 that lives in the NYC - D.C. corridor, has reasonable rates, and is not booked solid for the coming school year. Do you know of an author or a database I can search? What would you recommend?
Tuesday, July 29, 2008
Author interview at Cynsations
Monday, July 28, 2008
Sunday, July 27, 2008
I've got a nice spot of catnip in my garden this year. It is supposed to be easy to grow but I have found it difficult to get established. Neighborhood cats tend to destroy it but none have found this patch yet.
It's in the mint family and sends up spikes of white flowers flecked with red. You can make a calming tea from it and there have been other medicinal uses going back thousands of years. I give it to the cat when we have to take her to the vet because it has a mellowing effect on her after she is finished her initial crazy rolling around chewing on it. The vet was surprised to see a sprig of catnip in her carrying case. She had never heard of the mellowing effects. I guess different cats react differently to it, some not caring for it at all. I think it helps her relax a bit and since she hates going to the vet it a small consolation. Sometimes I bring a branch in from the garden just for fun.
I couldn't get a photo of her this morning because she didn't feel like posing. Maybe I can come back later and add one.
What's in your garden this week? Leave us a link to your post and we'll come visit.
Friday, July 25, 2008
A wood thrush throws down
her pretty song gentle as the light
filtered through a million layers of green.
Away from the scheduled
rules, routines, expectations
we wander from sun to shade
hand in hand.
Brother, I found something here -
a small rock we can kick or
toss into the creek.
The road is lined with
these rocks, the forest is full of sticks.
No one cares if we wave them.
The Friday Poetry round up is at A Year of Reading. Enjoy!
Thursday, July 24, 2008
We discovered our old badminton set in the attic last week and have been playing in the backyard every day. My six year old is getting pretty good at hitting the birdie without knocking it into the neighbor's yard. My three year old loves to hit anything or play guitar with the racket. They left them out in the rain the other night.
Yesterday we walked to the library for the first time with no stroller. Yeah! Actually, we dropped the car off at the garage around the corner and walked to the fabulous grocery store down the street to order Buddy's birthday cake. He is turning six! Then we walked to the party store to buy the favors for the roller skating party this Saturday. Excitement all around. Then we walked to the library.
I didn't know if Punkin, my three year old, could walk that far but he did fabulously. One little tantrum over buying bubble gum that didn't look the way he expected it to look coming out of the package, and an argument over the trains in the children's room at the library, but otherwise fabulous.
We signed them both up for library cards. You might wonder why they didn't have cards yet, but that would be because mom can't keep track of that many library books. Now they each can check out 15 books at a time. Put that on top of my books and my head is spinning.
The librarian who gave them their cards was quite charming. She was delighted over everything they had to say, even though they were both chewing huge wads of bubble gum. Buddy wrote his full name proudly on the card and Punkin told her all about his love of trains. The children's room has a wooden train set and you can borrow a bag of trains if you leave your card at the desk.
I clearly remember when I got my first library card at age five. There was a rule then that you couldn't get a card until you could sign your first and last name. I practiced for a long time and when I finally could do it and they trip to the library was planned I came down with the measles. I remember laying on the couch sick as a dog and looking up at the fireplace mantle where my card was propped, signed and waiting to go get some books. I had to stay home and let everyone go without me. My mom brought me home my first books signed out on my own card. I was amazed at how great she was at picking books. All through my childhood and even teen years she continued to pick out the most amazing books. I thought she had a magic touch and was always delighted with how well she knew what I would love.
The thing with my boys is, they go to the library to play with the train set, the computers and check out movies. They don't have a second glance at the books. Maybe that's because our house is so full of books. They are like, "Books? Got that. Where's the tech toys?" Ha.
Tuesday, July 22, 2008
Sunday, July 20, 2008
The Rose of Sharon bushes along my fence are in full bloom this week. Hibiscus syriacus is not really a rose at all. It grows about 8 - 10 feet tall and can be pruned into hedges or tree shapes. It's native to Asian and is the national flower of Korea. I found them growing on my eastern fence when we first moved in here and I transplanted some of the volunteer shoots along the western fence.
They are growing into a nice privacy screen. They scatter seeds everywhere and now they are one of my most prolific weeds. I am constantly pulling out new shoots from every soil-filled crack and crevice. I keep moving them to the fence. Someday I'll have a thick hedge there.
The flowers on all my plants are shades of pink and mauve, but you can get them in pink, white, lavender and blue. Some plants are doubled-bloomed as well. You can buy them in a nursery but if you know anyone with a plant you can get shoots for free I bet.
They bloom late in the season, compared to other shrubs, so right now they are quite lovely. Yesterday while photographing my bushes I found this poisonous vine called Bittersweet Nightshade. The berries are highly toxic and have caused death in children. I always rip it out because I've found they are particularly attractive to kids and I'm always afraid my berry-picking children will sample them. I can never get completely rid of it, however.
I think this branch is shriveled because I tried to rip it out the day before. Here's some haiku about it I posted last year, along with a photo of the flowers.
What's growing in your garden? Leave a comment so we can come read.
Tuesday round up:
I have to link to Cuileann's Friday Poetry post, since she gave us a lovely poem about waiting to see the hibiscus bloom. Perfectly fitting I'd say!
Lisa's asking advice about how to build a new garden across the lawn in front of her house. She has some unique problems to overcome. Gardeners? Speak up!
Charlotte is wondering about zucchinis at the library... (what do you do with zucchinis?)
Saturday, July 19, 2008
At my 365 photo-a-day blog I am on a theme of water this month. I've been posting short passages that have to do with water from some of my old favorite books. I'm celebrating particularly luscious descriptive paragraphs. Can you help me remember stories where water plays a role?
Friday, July 18, 2008
one smooth round stone
a rubbed bone long
gone thrown right quick
last light's trick sharp
air licks the dust
breaks the crust cracks
old rust all's flown
I wrote this little poem this week in response to Trisha's Poetry Stretch.
Climbing Rhyme is a form of Burmese poetry containing a repeated sequence of 3 internally-rhymed lines consisting of 4 syllables each. Since Burmese is monosyllabic, this works well, but in English this might be difficult. Instead of 4 syllable lines, let's try writing in lines of 4 words. (If you're feeling brave, go ahead and try four syllables!)
The rhyme scheme for climbing rhyme is internal. That means the position of the rhyming word changes. The rhyme appears in the 4th word of line one, 3rd word of line 2, and 2nd word of line 3. The pattern continues as a new rhyme appears in the 4th word of line 3, the 3rd word of line 4, and the 2nd word of line 5. This continues on, giving a stair-step feel to the poem, hence the name climbing rhyme.
It seemed impossible at first. I started thinking about children's jump rope rhymes and counting rhymes. Then the image of the way my boys love to throw stones and how they crack the air on a slow summer afternoon starting rolling around my brain. That it's a circular, climbing rhyme seems to fit.
The Friday Poetry Roundup is over at Writing and Ruminating. Enjoy your weekend!
Thursday, July 17, 2008
by Shelia P. Moses. Margaret K. McElderry Books, 2004. Library copy. In 1947 Rich Square, North Carolina twelve year old Patty Mae lives with her mother and grandparents and adores her Uncle Buddy. He's handsome and smart and just home from living up North in Harlem. Pattie Mae's mother is a sharecropper and she and Pattie Mae live in a former "slave house", complete with the bell in the yard used to call the slaves in for "feeding time". Her grandparents live next door and own their land, bought through her great-great-grandfather's labor towards his former slave owner. In the midst of racism and injustice Pattie Mae's strong family endures heart-breaking trauma as her grandfather slowly dies from a previous injury done in brutality by the town's sheriff and her Uncle Buddy is put in jail after unjustly being accused of attempting to rape a white woman who passed him on the sidewalk. Seen through the eyes of Patty Mae, the confusion and violence embedded in the community are direct and shattering. The story is based on true events that the author, Shelia P. Moses, learned about at her grandmother's knee. It's beautifully written and rich with conversation material for a book club or study group. There is a sequel called The Return of Buddy Bush. Recommended for grades 6-8. National Book Award finalist for Young People's Literature, 2004, and Coretta Scott King Author Honor book, 2005.
Sheila P. Moses (1961–) Biography - Personal, Addresses, Career, Honors Awards, Writings, Adaptations, Sidelights
Wednesday, July 16, 2008
Just when you thought you'd cut back on the number of blogs you read, we find a post by Geeky Mom linking to "Top 100 Liberal Arts Bloggers." Literature, teaching, technology... it's a gold mine. You've got time to read, right?
In a future world where beasts, humans and machines are at war with each other two teens find they have hidden talents for balancing the unique attributes of all three species. As they face each life-threatening challenge they begin to understand their powers and learn to harness their strengths.I found this tension and development particularly interesting in reading Kaimira: Sky Village last spring. When the opportunity came for me to interview the author, Chris Rettstatt (pen name Monk Ashland) for the blog the main thing I wanted to hear him talk about is how this schema connects with real life for him and his readers. Here's what he had to say:
Cloudscome: The thing I love about reading fantasy is the connections I can make to my own internal struggles. As a parent I am always on the roller coaster of affection, admiration, amazement and heights of joy alternating with plunging into terror, despair, frustration and rage. And that's not the toddler's tantrums, that's mine. I connected right away to Rom's struggle to balance the triangle of Mek strength with Beast passion. I'd love to hear you talk about how you feel that in your life and how you managed to split it off and write it into a story.
Chris: As a very young child, I was terrified of the TV show The Incredible Hulk. According to my mother, I’d line up all my action figures (mostly Star Wars and G.I. Joe) in a protective circle around my bed when I went to sleep. That was how I dealt with my fear, and I think my fear had something to do with the character’s battle with his own rage, and particularly how that battle was dramatized on the screen. Either that or the scary green skin.
My teenage years were full of wild mood swings. In my early teen years, I was nervous and introverted. I was awkward and poor. I was one of millions of kids who came from broken homes, and I could go from being depressed to being angry in a matter of seconds.
This wasn’t mental illness. This was the normal experience of a teenager. And I had no idea how to manage those feelings.
By the time I hit high school, I was still a high introvert, and I was anxious by default, but I’d taught myself a few tricks to use whenever an Incredible Hulk moment hit me and my feelings threatened to get the best of me.
These experiences have certainly found their way into my writing. What I love about writing fantasy is that it allows me to take very personal, internal dramas and come up with crazy ways to externalize them. Mei and Rom are torn from their worlds and hurled into an adventure, and while they struggle with what’s going on inside, the challenges they face around them – demonsmithing, learning the ropes – take that struggle to the next level.
The recent Incredible Hulk movie starts with Edward Norton meditating in a favela in Brazil. I found this particularly interesting. First, because learning to wrangle the most intense of our emotion seems like something straight out of Buddhism. And second, because whenever I start thinking I had it hard as a teen, favelas and comparable communities around the world remind me what it really means to have it hard, where keeping one’s cool, so to speak, can be a life-and-death matter. Cloudscome: That is fascinating! I've already said in my review that I sometimes imagine myself as Rom with a little triangle in my head showing how my temper/passion is balancing with cool reason when I am about to lose my cool in a frustrating situation. Your story has given me an image to employ.
Cloudscome: That is fascinating! I've already said in my review that I sometimes imagine myself as Rom with a little triangle in my head showing how my temper/passion is balancing with cool reason when I am about to lose my cool in a frustrating situation. Your story has given me an image to employ.
I also am intrigued by the way you're inviting fan participation in gaming and through your interactive website. How do you see readers/fans contributing to growing the Kaimira world? I wonder how it feels to let go of control. I imagine it's a powerful rush and also a bit disconcerting to see it take off.
Chris: Fan participation is something I’ve been particularly excited about since I first created Kaimira. I’m curious to see what readers will do with the world and characters I’ve created. Of course, it’s never easy for a writer to let go of his babies. Like anyone else, I struggle with the desire to control the things I create. But I also know that a story belongs to the readers at least as much as to the storyteller. And the intersection of those perspectives – the author’s and the readers’ – is where the real magic happens.
Cloudscome: You are so right Chris! I know this is going to keep building as the rest of the books come out and I am looking forward to seeing how the growing Kaimira community evolves. And I'm going to be so proud to tell my library patrons, , "Oh, yeah, I know the author. We chat online."
Cloudscome: You are so right Chris! I know this is going to keep building as the rest of the books come out and I am looking forward to seeing how the growing Kaimira community evolves. And I'm going to be so proud to tell my library patrons,when they are begging me to hold the book for them
, "Oh, yeah, I know the author. We chat online."
Chris has more interviews up on blogs this week. Check out Wands and Worlds and Shelf Elf for the posts from Monday and Tuesday. Thursday he'll be at Brighton Book Bloggers, Friday the Association of Online Community Monitors, and Saturday he visits Bri Meets Books.
Thanks for visiting Chris!
Tuesday, July 15, 2008
I'm four books behind in blogging about what I'm reading this summer, so I am going to keep this to a bullet list of what I loved about the book:
- written in dairy format so it's direct, intimate and descriptive
- charming pen and ink drawings by Dashti illustrate her diary, courtesy of James Noel Smith
- little details of Asian culture like the importance of offering genuine gifts with both hands to demonstrate sincerity and honor
- the importance of her pet, My Lord the cat, as a gift from the prince, a killer of rats, a friend, and a gift she sacrificially gives to her lady to cure her heart-sickness
- the prince's sweetness, humor and perplexity
- Dashti's sweet, generous, courageous, hopeful heart
- Dashti becomes more honest with herself and others as her difficulties become more intense
- music is part of the healing work that Dashi devotes herself too and one of her talents
Bookshelves of Doom
Maw Books Blog
Yapping about YA
Readergirlz feature, May 2008 - interview with Hale
Interactive Reader - round table discussion about the book
Be sure to come back here tomorrow for a guest post by Chris Rettstatt, author of Kaimira: Sky Village (pen name Monk Ashland). His blog tour for the week is listed here.
Sunday, July 13, 2008
My first tomatoes are coming ripe. I have some Better Bush plants in a big pot by the kitchen door and another pot full of Sweet Red Cherry tomatoes.
Sweet Red Cherry
For the last couple days I've been eating them right off the vine and it is heavenly. Last night for dinner I made cheeseburgers and put a little fresh basil and oregano from the garden on the meat under the cheese. With this tomato on top it was so delicious I was swooning.
What have you got in your garden this week? Leave a comment with your link and we'll come visit.
Monday, July 14, 2008
Wands and Worlds
Tuesday, July 15, 2008
Wednesday, July 16, 2008
A Wrung Sponge
Thursday, July 17, 2008
Jan Dohner, Library Media Specialist
Friday, July 18, 2008
Association of Online Community Moderators
Saturday, July 19, 2008
Bri Meets Books
Can't wait to read what Chris has to say about the book, the series, the gaming and video productions and the virtual community growing around the book.
Saturday, July 12, 2008
How To Make Braided Friendship Bracelets - video powered by Metacafe
Friday, July 11, 2008
I did my job.
I kept them in
or you out;
whatever was needed.
That satisfying click
closing my latch
spelled safety gate.
I held their cries
on both sides
when you retreated
to the sanctuary
of cooking dinner.
You pushed crackers
through my bars
buying distance in
your over-heated kitchen.
I stood my place
on the border.
Now they climb me as
a stair to the cookies.
You trip over me.
You’re tired of dusting
behind my hinge.
You want to paint over my holes.
You’ve driven me away
hoping for loose change
in exchange for my service.
frowned at me today,
running her wondering fingers
over my stained rails.
Whatever she’s carrying
I’ve got her covered.
Open or closed, I’m her gate.
I wrote this poem after taking down all our baby gates and sending them to the consignment shop. It's a bitter sweet time of relief and nostalgia for me. They are growing so fast in into more mischief than a gate can keep out these days.
This week Miss Rumphius challenged us in the Poetry Stretch to "write a poem in any form that includes the phrase "loose change." It seemed a natural fit. Today's Friday Poetry round up is over at under the covers. Enjoy your weekend!
Wednesday, July 09, 2008
Tuesday, July 08, 2008
1. Write a six-word memoir.
2. Post it to your blog including a visual illustration if you would like.
3. Link to the person who tagged you in your post and to this original post if possible so we can track it as it travels across the blogosphere.
4. Tag 5 more blogs with links.
5. Don’t forget to leave a comment in the tagged blogs with an invitation to play.
I love a good meme and this one's been going around. Check out the comments from the OP linked above if you want to spend the day reading great memoirs.
I am going to follow Charlotte's lead and post more than one version. Maybe it's cheating, since that gives you eighteen words instead of six, but the truth is there is always more than one version of a life.
The first time I wrote one I settled on:
"Single mom again found wandering the library."
"Again" is the hinge. I played around with the punctuation to find alternate meanings. What makes a good six word memoir is lots of ambiguity and layers of meaning, right? You have to hint at character, setting and plot development, leaving the reader to fill in the details and wish for more. Is she single again, a mother again, or wandering again?
Then I wrote:
""...a poet let loose in the library..."
That's my blog header for now. Who let her loose? What's she doing, climbing the stacks, cackling at patrons, scribbling in the books, or huddled morosely in a dark study carrel?
This morning when I woke up I came up with a new one, which I think is the best so far:
"She stumbles on, rejoicing in grace."
Charlotte challenged me to include an illustration, so I took a self portrait at 6 am, puffy eyes and all.
I am tagging five people whose lives I love to read. If you've already done it give yourself a new version. If you haven't been tagged yet go ahead and do it anyway. It's kind of like haiku. Once you get started it keeps rolling.
Tag, you're it:
Suzanne, jo(e), Christine, Jocelyn, Don
Monday, July 07, 2008
Set in Shanghai during WW II, this book follows the adventures of 12 year old CC (Chinese Cinderella) as she studies in a Martial Arts academy and trains to join band of heroic crime fighters. The Japanese occupy China and are oppressing the people. Some Chinese are involved in covert resistance, supporting the American military fighting Japan. CC and her kung fu brothers carry out secret missions to rescue and care for wounded American airmen that crash land on a coastal island after bombing Japan. The plot is are based on true historical events which Yen Mah expertly weaves into CC's story.
It is very entertaining and inspiring. Chinese principles of Confusionism, Buddhism and Taoism are presenting in the context of training one's mind, spirit and body for the hard work of striving for truth, justice and wisdom. Many of the teachings she absorbs are familiar to me from my study of Tai Chi. A couple passages highlight the importance of inner peace for the warrior:
"This tea ceremony was designed to point out to you the difference between perception, awareness and attitude. All of us aim to be happy. But happiness is an attitude that comes from within and is dependent on a person's perception of what is happening around her. To avoid living in a fool's paradise, one needs to perceive correctly. True perception can only come from Wu, mindful awareness, which develops gradually through meditation. For you to become enlightened in Fu Dao, the Way of Buddha, the transformation has to come from within yourself."
CC is considered an orphan girl because her mother died when she was a baby and her father and step-mother have kicked her out of her home. She is alone on the streets when taken in to the Martial Arts academy. Her new found brothers and fellow students are a collection of abandoned boys who are all multiracial. When she participates in the joining ceremony her teacher tells them,
"Unfortunately, there is a lot of prejudice in Shanghai against Eurasians and orphan girls. But should any of you encounter hostility or rejection, seize that negative energy you feel coursing through your veins and use it for a positive goal. Prove to the world that you are worthy of respect. Don't mess up your lives by being bitter and self-destructive!"
These lessons are worth learning for all of us. In joining with her academy family CC becomes a life-long member of an elite secret society where honor and justice are the code of life. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book and highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys adventure stories.
Sunday, July 06, 2008
June and July are day lily season in this part of the world. Everywhere you go you see banks of orange lilies leaning out into the sun. Yellow Stella de Oro lilies are landscaped along every parking lot. Some gardeners collect lilies in every shape and shade. I inherited several types of yellow, orange and red lilies when we moved in here, and I've just divided and transplanted them around the yard to fill in spots. They keep coming and coming.
What's in season in your garden? Leave a comment and we'll all come visit.
Friday, July 04, 2008
Day's end, the sky
a worried knot.
Clouds suggest a fork.
Sun on the wall
warms a rose;
An open sky
tinged with rose
loosens the knot,
breaks the wall,
bends that fork.
The worry fork -
one side trumpet,
one side wall.
Above us floats the sky.
This garden knot
is brambled rose.
Some comfort this knot
pushed up against that wall,
forever opening trumpets,
feeding me with a fork
these dripping chunks of sky.
It's a knot that's grown into a rose.
It clings to the wall that holds it's fork;
the trumpet that opens the sky.
"The challenge this week was to write a poem containing the five words sky, knot, fork, wall, and rose, as well as either trumpet or bullet as the sixth word."