Monday, June 30, 2008

June 30 Haiku

painted fern

heat breaks in clouds
showering the painted fern;
cool of the day

Sunday, June 29, 2008



Basil is one of the herbs I always have in a pot by the kitchen door. I start a new pot every spring and enjoy snipping leaves all summer and into the fall. It doesn't winter over very well indoors, so I have to start another one the next year. I put it in soups and salads, on pizza and pasta, and it makes a refreshing, relaxing tea. According to Rodale's Illustrated Encyclopedia of Herbs, "Basil has been described as having a slight sedative action, which would explain shy it is sometimes recommended for nervous headaches and anxiety." I have to say, we all had some after dinner tonight and bed time went quite a bit smoother than it usually does!


One thing I haven't tried is making pesto. Surprising, right? That's probably the first thing most people do. I read a great post at A Caribbean Garden yesterday all about making pesto. Nicole has a couple of wonderful recipes up which I am going to try this week. She has nice photos too - take a look!

Here are more basil links:

Gardens Ablaze

Indian basil tea recipe

Holy Basil (Tulsi) Tea

Ohio State Fact sheet on basil

How to make herb teas

What's happening in your garden this week? Leave us a link to your garden post this week in Mr. Linky, and leave a comment and we'll come visit.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Sestina: Garden Child

Sept.2 2007 058

In the evening one small child
begs "excuse me" to the garden.
Longs to leave the ones all grown
sitting to watch the dying light.
He's no time to stop and wonder
what he's left; he wants to run.

From the table he will run -
slamming doors will mark the child.
Mother stands to see with wonder
her heart moving through the garden.
His head crowns the long day's light.
What that's planted now will grow?

Lettuce, peas, tomatoes, growing
midst the weeds in endless run,
reaching towards the rising light,
arching over her laughing child.
His the kingdom of this garden
showing all he dreams in wonder.

Live and breath - here's the wonder:
on each other's will they grow.
She fills table; him the garden
neither one alone can run.
When she welcomed home a child
she discovered fire and light.

Suddenly her anger lights;
his defiance leaving wonder.
Who can stand to bear a child -
every atom drawn to growth.
Then one day he'll leave and run
past the wall of tended garden.

Now he crashes through the garden
gathering glow, attracting light.
Earth is tilting, stars are running;
moon is rising to our wonder.
Pea pods on the vine are growing
all in orbit of this child.

Open garden gate and wonder
at the light from all things growing,
bursting, running with this child.

.............-Andromeda Jazmon

I've been studying the sestina form with some of my poetry princesses. This is my first serious attempt that I am willing to share. It's very difficult to use the same six words over and over in a complicated pattern and still say something meaningful while painting a picture. I need a lot of practice if I am going to keep up with the princesses.

More explanation of the form:

Craft of Poetry course at Univ. Northern Iowa, 2001: Damon McLaughlin

The Friday Poetry roundup is hosted at Biblio File this week. Enjoy!

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Review: Secrets in the Fire

by Henning Mankell. Translated from Swedish by Anne Connie Stuksrud. Annick Press, 2003. I read this in two nap times and cried all the way through. It's a heartbreaking story based on the life of a real girl living in Mozambique. While running to the fields to work with her mother and sister she stepped off the path once and landed on a land mine. Her sister was killed and she almost died. She lost both of her legs.

Her family had already suffered the tragedy of having their village burned to the ground by militias who also murdered her father and most of her relatives, friends and neighbors. They were refugees for months, walking across country until they found another community of refugees who welcomed them. They had built a new hut (their third) and settled into work raising food for themselves when Sofia and Maria met the land mine.

Sofia is lucky to survive. She must live in the big city in the hospital and then in a nursing home for a long time in recovery. The doctors and nurses she meets are kind and nurturing, in spite of having almost no supplies or equipment. In the nursing home, for example, she sleeps on a rusty spring frame for a bed, with no mattress. She finally gets her new prosthetic legs and learns to walk again. She is determined to return home to rejoin her family and due to her strength of character and indomitable spirit she succeeds.

It's a very inspiring story, but so tragic. Information in the front and back of the book tells us that:
"The Global landmine crisis is one of the most pervasive humanitarian problems facing the world today. It is estimated that there are between 60 and 70 million landmines in the ground in at least 70 countries. Approximately every 30 seconds, another innocent person is maimed or killed by a landmine. UNICEF estimates that 30% - 40% of all mine victims are children under the age of 15. Survivors are forced to endure a lifetime of physical, psychological, and economic hardship."

You can learn more at the Adopt-a-Minefield website. This book would be an excellent book club selection for young adults interested in making an impact on the world. It could be an excellent resource for service opportunities and global awareness curriculum. It's very well written with excellent pacing and balanced descriptions. I can almost imagine myself living in Sophia's world and it is a shock to put the book down and walk into my neighborhood grocery store overflowing with luxury and wealth.

There is an interesting review of Secrets and the sequel Playing with Fire at St. John's University website written by Professor Barbara Harlow. Here's another review hosted by the University of Manitoba.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Two Things

stella d'ore

The June Carnival of Children's Literature is up at Susan Writes. She's rounded up some great posts all about fathers and daughters in kid's books. Take a look!

I'm following conversations about using Twitter on Library Thing and on the Yahoo Kidlitosphere group. I had been resisting joining Twitter because I didn't want to feel obligated to keep up with every little thing. But now I am wondering about using it for book lists, to keep track of what I and my kids are reading, and what I am doing in my classes in the fall. I've read some ed. blogs where it is used as a tool for tech teachers to share how they are integrating new technologies into their classrooms. Are you Twittering? How and why?

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Review: She's So Money

by cherry cheva. HarperTeen, 2008. Review copy. I meant to review this book in May as part of Asian Pacific Heritage Month. It's one of the featured Fusion Stories. With the end of the school year craziness it got put off till now.

I enjoyed reading this book a lot. My only time to read is after the little kids are in bed and quiet, but I found myself thinking about this book all day long, wondering about the main character and what would happen to her next. Maya is Thai and works in her family's restaurant while a senior in high school. Her number one priority is getting into Stanford. She has a great bunch of friends, all smart kids in the Honors classes with her, who also work in the school tutoring center with her. When she is not in the restaurant she is studying or tutoring with them.

When her parents go out of town for a weekend she and her younger brother are left in charge of the restaurant. They are heady with delight at the freedom and responsibility, and everything is going well except that they decide to leave the end of the night cleanup for the next morning in order to enjoy a free, parentless weekend night. Unfortunately the health department shows up bright and early Saturday morning. The resulting fine leaves Maya with a huge burden that she is afraid to tell anyone about. How will she raise $10,000 to pay it without letting her parents know?

Camden, one of the richest, most adorable and most popular guys in the school offers to pay her to do his homework and she decides to take him up on it in order to earn the extra cash. He gets interested in her and in expanding the business, and they get drawn deeper and deeper into a pay-for-homework service that does indeed raise a lot of money. Maya's main conflict is with her struggle to protect her hoped-for future at Stanford while suppressing her ethical dilemma over the cheating and lying. She says,
"I know cheating's wrong, but it's better than being dead, right? Which is what I'd be if my parents knew about what happened. I never expected things to spin so far out of control. Or that I'd be such a sucker for Camden's lopsided grin."
This is an entertaining novel that raises a lot of interesting questions. I think it would start good discussions in a book club for teens. I would love to hear what young adult readers think of the book.

Other reviews:

The Compulsive Reader (contest for a signed copy)
Interview at Slayground
Biblio File
June contest giveaway at The Story Siren (comment on her June 26 post)

Monday, June 23, 2008

June 23 Haiku


cardinal calling
in the quiet before dawn;
summer solstice

Sunday, June 22, 2008



My favorite summertime drink is sun tea with spearmint. I've been growing mint in my garden for at least 20 years in different houses. Every time I move I just dig up a bunch and dump it in a pot and put it in the truck. When we get to the new place I just dig a quick hole in a sunny spot near the back of the garden and dump it in. It always thrives and takes over a large area.

In this garden, when we moved here eight years ago, I put it near the fence a couple steps from the back door. I also started some honeysuckle on that fence to screen out the neighboring apartment house parking lot, and sooner or later some English Ivy found the same fence. The lesson for me: beware starting honeysuckle! It's a weed even stronger than mint.

Because my side of the fence is the shady side the mint moved itself to the sunny side, away from me. It migrated right through the fence and was thriving along the parking lot edge until the honeysuckle completely took over.

The mint I used to have in my yard I now have to walk around the fence to pick from the edge of the parking lot, and this year it is getting harder to find. I dug up some roots and replanted them on my side of the fence in a new spot. I hope they take over this new corner because I make tea almost every day and I need my mint.

mint sun tea

According to the Book of Mint, by Jackie French, the Romans believed that eating mint would increase intelligence. She says, "recent research at the University of Cincinnati in the United States has indicated that sniffing mint may improve your concentration; and several large Japanese companies pipe minute amounts of mint oil through the air-conditioning systems to invigorate workers and increase productivity." I just like to drink it on a hot afternoon when I am not planning on doing much at all. It's very relaxing.

Here's what other bloggers are posting about gardens:

writer2b has photos of her veggie garden. I am envious of her peppers and cucs!

Lisa has lovely photos of wildflowers in Ontario. Gorgeous!

Becky shows us her lilacs and shares a dream of building a house in the midst of them.

Charlotte shares more photos of her roses, clematis and delphinium.

Sheila has shared some wonderful garden strategies, including growing lettuce in window boxes. Her strawberries look delicious dipped in chocolate!

Alkelda has delightful photos of her gardens and shares what delicious greens her daughter is discovering.

gawdess posted a charming photo of a peaceful corner of a friend's garden, featuring a bird bath surrounded by shade plants.

What's growing in your garden this week? It's not too late to put a link to your garden blog post in Mr. Linky below and be sure to leave us a comment. We'd love to come visit!

Friday, June 20, 2008


June 18 015


open slowly

reaching through the neighbor’s

fence into late morning sunshine,

stamens tipped with pollen calling all bees;

the bronze of my son’s arm reflects

dappled sunshine as it

blesses us with


This is an original poem in response to Miss Rumphius' Monday/Tuesday Poetry Stretch. She says: "Rictameter is a nine line poetry form in which the 1st and last lines are the same. The syllable count is 2/4/6/8/10/8/6/4/2. You can learn more about this new form at Wikipedia."

I am late to posting this today. I have to admit I forgot it was Friday! Ah vacation. The Friday Poetry round up this week is found at Semicolon.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Summer Goals

June 18 020

All the cool kids have posted their summer goals already, and here I am tagging along late to the party. What can I say? I was at a picnic in the backyard with two cutie pies yesterday and I was hanging out at the playground the day before. My blogging has slipped. Here are my goals:

1. No pressure to blog. Do it when I have something to say.
2. Read from the box of 15 library books next to my bed.
3. Write short reviews of books read just to keep track of them.
4. Catch up on house maintenance projects listed on the kitchen blackboard.
5. Write for an hour every morning when the kids are at camp
6. Get a work out routine at the Y and do it three or four days a week
7. Enjoy lots of picnics, playground visits, beach days, the pool, and the zoo with my kids
8. Catch up with all doctor appointments, tests, follow up, etc. as recommended
9. Knit and quilt Christmas gifts
10. Slow down. Bag any and all above goals if they are stressing me out. (Except numbers 7 & 8)

Here's my post about last summer's goals and the follow up on how I did. How about you? What are your summer goals?

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Review: Note by Note

A Celebration of the Piano Lesson by Tricia Tunstall. Simon & Schuster, 2008. I just finished this wonderful book and I would highly recommend it to anyone who loves music or has a child in music lessons. I read a review of it on Becky's blog Farm School and I requested it from inter-library loan immediately. It is worth every effort to look for and acquire.

Tunstall writes with grace and tenderness about music, about her students, and about teaching. She has a master teacher's perfectly tuned ear, alert to the exact tremor of her students' needs and ability. She celebrates, as the subtitle promises, the essential loveliness of melody and of the struggle to find and nurture harmonies.

I took piano lessons from my father, starting at the age of seven. I left piano as soon as it got difficult and moved on to recorder, then clarinet, and lastly flute. I was barely good enough to play in the high school band but I enjoyed every minute. I was never a good musician. Tunstall's musical understanding is way beyond me so I marvel at the way she turns music in her hand and reveals the glorious structures that makes it as solid as colorful objects gleaming in the sunshine. In reading this book I am amazed at how much of music I have missed all my life, even as I was surrounded by it and found great pleasure in it. I had no idea of the depth and complexity of composition.

Even if you know nothing at all of music and have never had a lesson, this little memoir is a delight to read. The teacher/pupil relationship is delicately and wisely delineated. The process of moving from beginner to accomplished performer to beginner (again) is beautifully illustrated. If this intrigues you at all you must read this book.

Interview with Trisha Tunstall at

Chicken Spaghetti's mention on a Friday Poetry

Monday, June 16, 2008

June 16 Haiku


warblers song
sinks from canopy to fern;
drowsy forest

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Dad's Garden

Nothin' much happening in my garden this week. The impatiens in the porch baskets are dying. I think they get too much morning sun or something. I decided to go over to my parent's garden to enjoy their flowers.


This is next to the deck.


Isn't that a cute planter?

dad's roses

This little rose bush hangs over the deck. Sometimes I get discouraged when I see how much better their gardens are than mine. But then I remember they are retired and have many more years to have worked on perfecting their gardening skills. So some day mine will look this good too! How is your garden this week? Leave us a comment and we'll come see your post!

Here's the round up:

writer2b has been weeding the gardens with her daughters and has some insights into that particular pleasure.

Charlotte has "a red rose climbing up the barn". She's posted a lovely photo.

Becky at Farm School is release butterflies, photographing hummingbirds, watching fawns and mourning the loss of some very cute kittens.

LisaC has a great story about her bearded iris with lovely photos.

Suzanne has a photo of her chives in bloom - one of my favorite herbs!

It's not to late to join in; just leave us a comment and a link.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Friday Poetry: Rainer Maria Rilke

tulip tree blossom

I Am Much Too Alone in This World, Yet Not Alone
by Rainer Maria Rilke

Translated by Annemarie S. Kidder

I am much too alone in this world, yet not alone enough
to truly consecrate the hour.
I am much too small in this world, yet not small enough
to be to you just object and thing, dark and smart.

...Read the rest here at

...or read and listen to it as translated by Anita Barrows here. I have Barrows and Macy's book Rilke's Book of Hours; Love Poems to God and every once in a while I sink into them. It's been that kind of week.

The Poetry Friday round up is here this week! Share your post in Mr. Linky and be sure to leave a comment. Then come back later to enjoy what everyone else is posting this weekend.

ETA: Someone in the comments asked how to find the Friday Poetry roundup schedule and that reminded me that for new comers it's a bit confusing. Let me point you to the article by Susan Tompson of Chicken Spaghetti at the Poetry Foundation that explains Friday Poetry. Kelly Harold organizes the schedule of hosting and posts it in the sidebar of her blog Big A, little a. She puts out a call for volunteers several times a year. Anyone can join anytime of course! If you enjoy poetry jump in!

Click around to read some great poetry:

1. Wild Rose Reader (Three Original Poems about the Sounds of Summer)
2. Blue Rose Girls (A Poem by Richard Brautigan: Gee, You're So Beautiful That It's
3. Kelly (an original poem about Little Sioux Scout Camp)
4. Gregory K. (end of the school year, Hello Summer!)
5. Michele (W B Yeats)
6. Stacey (Sea Joy)
7. writer2b (Silence)
8. Sara Lewis Holmes (riff on a quote from Robert Frost)
9. Jama Rattigan (celebrating Father's Day with two poems: D. Nurkse and Edgar Guest)
10. Laura Salas (15 Words or Less Poems)
11. Laura Salas (Billy Collins poem)
12. Mary Lee (Poe and a review)
13. MotherReader (Our Deepest Fear)
14. Shelf Elf (Tap Dancing on the Roof)
15. Jules, 7-Imp (Choose Your Own Adventure)
16. Kimberly @ lectitans (The Mermaid in the Hospital)
17. Little Willow (Tarts and Evidence from Alice's Adventures in Wonderland)
18. msmac (Janet Wong’s Night Garden: Poems from the World of Dreams )
19. Sylvia (Father's Day poems)
20. Laurel Snyder (a poem about surfing and youth, by Mark Jarman)
21. Tricia (Summer Days)
22. Picture Book of the Day (Blackberry Banquet)
23. Karen Edmisten (Basho, Henry Timrod and an interesting connection to Bob Dylan.)
24. John Mutford (The Poem I Turn To)
25. Linda ("a sestina I wrote for my grandfather")
26. Tiel Aisha Ansari (an original flood poem)
27. Lisa Chellman (Peter, Paul & Mary)
28. Semicolon (Caedmon)
29. Kelly Fineman (So We'll Go No More a-Roving)
30. Becky (Surrender Tree review)
31. Ruth (where we are)
32. Liz in Ink (with Louise Gluck)
33. Chicken Spaghetti (poems about superstitions)
34. Marie DeVries (a poem about listening)
35. LisaC (AA Milne)
36. Charlotte ( In For Winter, Out For Spring)
37. Sarah R. (Cowboy Vernacular)
38. Suzanne :: Adventures in Daily Living :: (Mist by Tom Robinson)

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

June 10 Haiku

June 9 008

cowslip primrose
nodding behind lavender;
heat wave descends

Here's my post on what it's like in my library today.

Monday, June 09, 2008

June 9 Haiku


froth floating
above my neighbor's fence;
today's roses

Today we start putting all nine thousand books in boxes so the library can get painted and have new carpeting installed. Last night I realized that I haven't ordered enough boxes because I forgot to count a whole section of shelves in the downstairs lab. Oy. Have you ever packed a library (or other challenging collection)? Any tips?

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Garden Surprise


You might think I have a huge yard and burgeoning garden from my frequent posts on gardening, but I don't. I actually have a small yard with mostly shade gardens full of perennials and ground cover. I think I might run out of topics until I go out into the yard and wander around looking to see what's going on that is worth talking about. I am often surprised by what I find.

I was looking for a section of garden that I wouldn't mind the boys digging up, since they found my trowels and were intent on digging in the dirt. Low and behold, we found a potato growing by the fence! I think a squirrel must have drug it out of the compost bin and let it roll down the hill. It landed in the dirt and started growing. I can't wait to see what happens next.

potato leaves

What surprised you in your garden this week? Leave a comment so we can all come read about it. You don't have to have pictures to join the garden tour, by the way, just post about what's growing in your neck of the woods.

Friday, June 06, 2008

Sonia Sanchez Haiku

June 2 036

we are sudden stars
you and i exploding in
our blue black skins

.............-Sonia Sanchez

Sonia Sanchez was born in 1934 in Birmingham, Alabama. Her mother died a year later and she lived with her sister in her paternal grandmother's home until she moved to Harlem to live with her father and his third wife. She has taught writing at several universities in America and is now a professor of English at Temple University in Philadelphia (since 1977). She has performed her poems, given poetry workshops and lectured around the world in Australia, England, Cuba, Nicaragua, and Africa. She was married to poet-activist Etheridge Knight and had three children with him.

Sanchez is known for her use of authentic language of the common people, her support of Black power, and her emphasis on encouraging Blacks to know themselves. She's written more than a dozen books of poetry, two of them for children specifically - It's a New Day and A Sound Investment. says:
" Her poems manifest the spiritual link between art and politics. [...] Her work is intentionally non-intellectual, unacademic, and anti-middle-class."

She is also know for using punctuation marks within lines and phrases, mixing lower-case letters, slashes, dashes, hyphenated lines, unconventional spelling, and abbreviations in order to shake up readers and startle new understandings. She's written free verse, ballads, letters, and haiku among other forms. She is one of my favorite poets to hear live.

(The haiku quoted above is read aloud about halfway through this video.)

Friday Poetry is at Sarah Reinhard's blog. Next week it's me right here at a wrung sponge.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

June 4 Haiku & May Carnival

june 3 022

sparrow's chatter:
"school's out for summer!"
"ripe cherries!"

The cherry tree outside the computer lab is full of sparrows these days. The make quite a ruckus! It's the last week of school and excitement is in the air. Here are the berries on this tree last January, and here they are in October.

Melissa Wiley has the May 2008 edition of the Carnival of Children’s Literature up at her place. Lots there to get you ready for lazy summer reading days... Go check it out.

Monday, June 02, 2008

June 2 Haiku

June 1 005

young bike mechanics
discussing tire problems;
sun dappled shade

I'm blogging light this week and next while we pack up the library for painting and new carpets. Summer approaches...

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Planting Pumpkins

Pumpkin seed

I've been reading the blog Handbook of Nature Study's Green Hour Challenge post for this week and thinking about our pumpkin seeds. Barb is keeping nature journals with her children "using Anna Comstock's book Handbook of Nature Study as our textbook and the great outdoors as our classroom". She suggests planting sunflower seeds this week for the challenge, so that you and your children can study them all summer long.

We don't have sunflowers this year, but we planted pumpkin seeds. When my oldest son Buster was about four we planted pumpkin seeds and it was so exciting watching them grow over the summer. The vines expanded all across the back of the lawn and in the fall we had a couple really beautiful jack o'lantern pumpkins. I wanted to try it again with my currently young guys.

Veggie Tales Jack O'Lantern Pumpkin seeds from Ferry Morse

We planted
Veggie Tales Jack O'Lantern Pumpkin seeds from Ferry Morse about two weeks ago. Buddy and Punkin love their daily chore of watering the seedlings. They can't get over how exciting it is to see them grow bigger day by day.

may 31 019

The fabulous thing about pumpkins is that they are so big. The leaves are enormous and the growth is so rapid even a little kid can see the difference from one day to the next. I am not sure we have enough sun in our yard to get many big pumpkins, but we planted them in the sunniest spots we could find; two plants in the side yard and two in the back of the lawn near the fence. One of my friends said she planted pumpkins last year and they climbed up in her tree. They do take a lot of space!

We have a few books to read about kids growing pumpkins: Farmer Boy has Alonzo growing milk-fed pumpkins for the fair, the Berenstain Bears and the Prize Pumpkin, and a board book called The Little Pumpkin Book that I found at a second-hand sale years ago.

If you want to do more nature study and play with your children I suggest the following links: National Wildlife Federations' Green Hour, the No Child Left Inside Coalition, and the Handbook of Nature Study blog. This post is submitted to challenge #16.

Whatever is going on in your garden this week, I hope you'll put it in Mr. Linky and leave a comment so we can all come visit on my Sunday Garden Tour!