Thursday, December 31, 2009

New Year Intentions

Taking a cue from Ruth over at Two Writing Teachers, I've decided to do intentions rather than resolution. For some reason intentions seems much more do-able and if I don't met them all, I don't think I'll feel so much that I failed. So here are my intentions for 2010:Another "page" that I'm borrowing from Two Writing Teachers is the idea of One Little Word.
My word for 2010 is "explore"

–verb (used with object)
1. to traverse or range over (a region, area, etc.) for the purpose of discovery: to explore the island.
2. to look into closely; scrutinize; examine: Let us explore the possibilities for improvement.
3. Surgery. to investigate into, esp. mechanically, as with a probe.
4. Obsolete. to search for; search out.
–verb (used without object)
5. to engage in exploration.

1575–85; < class="ital-inline">explōrāre
to search out, examine, equiv. to ex- ex- 1 + plōrāre to cry out, prob. orig. with reference to hunting cries

I'm looking forward to what this year will bring.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

In Honor of Thanksgiving

This fall we went to Newtonville Books and met author Kate Messner. While we were waiting for Kate to begin her talk, we browsed the children's room and John spotted this book. We hold a special place in our hearts for turkeys, as we had turkeys regularly visiting our yard this summer and we often see them during our daily commute over the mountain.

Of course being November and Thanksgiving, we haven't seen the turkeys in quite a while.


I am thankful for
a loving husband
a good job
a loving family, including great in-laws
a comfortable home
a place to write
books upon books
time to read

Sunday, November 8, 2009

From Cynthia Lord's Journal supporting an independent Artist

Wearing Words
counter create hit
My friend, artist Laura Hamor is having a contest to showcase the beautiful bracelets she creates.

Laura_Believe.jpg picture by cynthialord2005

"Create," "Write," and other bracelets can be found on her Etsy site.

I love single words. I have a bracelet that was given to me at a series of "One Book/One Community" visits that says INSPIRE on it. I wear it to every school visit or conference where I speak--and at no other times. There's something powerful about sliding that word onto my wrist. It reminds me of my real job at those events.

Laura_Net.jpg picture by cynthialord2005
Leap and the net will appear.

Since I already have a bracelet for speaking, I think I need one for writing. Laura also does groups of words, so besides this contest, I'm going to ask Laura to make me a unique one--my favorite reminder for revision. It's a quote by the artist Andrew Wyeth, and it's "Go deep, not wide."

To look down and see those words so close to my typing fingers would be a good reminder to be honest, to be brave, and to be respectful of the complexity of the characters and situations I've created.

If you want to enter Laura's contest, here's what to do:

1. Post this contest on your blog, including a link to

2. Then go to Laura's new blog and comment on the giftaway post---

and put your blog address in the comments. Laura will draw a name from those comments and that person will win a bracelet.

This would be a great holiday present. And if you've been married as long as me, you're at the point where you pretty much just tell your spouse what you want! So Laura, you can expect an email from my husband, even though he doesn't know it yet!

The contest runs from now until Nov. 12.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Rain, Rain Go Away

After nearly a week of rain, including heavy down pours this morning, the basement has flooded. There is at least an inch. Fortunately everything is either in plastic boxes or up several inches off the floor. John's workshop is down there, but none of his tools are in danger and only a little bit of his wood was directly on the floor. We are so lucky that he has a job that allows him to leave work and come home to deal with things like this! Right now he is working with the sump pump to get the basement pumped out. It's going to be a long job, even with the pump because there is no good outlet for the hose and we have to put it into the septic, which means it has to be unplugged every little bit to let the septic grinder/pump in the holding tank catch up.

Sigh. I hope we don't get much more rain.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

A Romantic Anniversary Dinner

Yesterday was our second anniversary. John came home for work early and we just kind of hung out- weeded the flower garden together, chatted, researched voles to try to figure out how to get rid of them- they are systematically destroying the flower garden. Money is really tight right now, so we decided not to go out to dinner. We made dinner together. I love doing that! I set the table with cloth linens and lit candles. The "bouquet" (a couple of wild daisies, purple asters, and butter cups, all from our yard) of flowers from Sunday was on the table. White wine. And meatloaf, baked potatoes, and bok choy. No Pudge cappuccino brownies for dessert.

It probably wasn't the most traditional romantic anniversary dinner in the history of romantic anniversary dinners, but it was special to us, and we loved it! We finished off the evening by watching A League of Their Own. A very "us" way to celebrate two wonderful years together and look ahead to many more.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

The Memory of Old Jack

I'm always looking for new and interesting things to read. At times I am a literature snob. I usually stay away from the latest fads in reading (I've not read Twilight, Dean Koontz, Janet Evanovich, Nora Roberts, etc.) Even when I am reading YA novels for my students, I am always looking for and enjoying the ones that are complex and well written, not just a good story. So the other day when I was perusing my friend Jackie's blog and she mentioned having to put down a book because it was too poignant, I was intrigued.

After a brief internet search I had found Wendell Berry's website and had requested from my local library three Wendell Berry books. It has taken me a couple of weeks, but I pushed through The Memory of Old Jack by Wendell Berry. It is indeed incredibly poignant. From the description of the farming community to Old Jack's ties to his land, this book left me grieving for the lost agrarian culture of the 1800s and the loss and and hardship of the characters. I found the book hard to read, not because it was bad writing or a boring story, but because it was such complicated writing that held so much depth of meaning.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

SOLC- Sometimes art is brief!

Today was Fine Arts Day at my school. This is the third year I've been in the school and I believe the third year for FAD. It's changed a little each year due to feedback from the classroom teachers, which is good. Basically the visual arts teacher, the theater teacher, and the music teacher get together and plan a day of activities for the entire school. The student body is divided up so that each classroom teacher has a mix of all the grades in their classroom. Last year we did a Jackson Pollock style painting - the canvases still hang in the stairway. It was really cool. We also had to try to build a structure out of cake. That was not so cool. The kids were obviously more interested in eating the candy and cake than building with it.

This year we had a central theme- which I thought was a great idea, even though I was not thrilled about having little kids (might I mention really HIGH maintainance little kids) in my room all day that I had to entertain, referee, and generally deal with (there are many, many reasons why I am a middle school English teacher!) Our tasks for the day were to lead a devotional on one of Jesus' parable (that we got that morning), lead the children in making a fabric art wall hanging that depicted the message of the parable, oversee them making mosaics on cookies with frosting, Nerd candies, and Twizzlers, and inspire them to create a skit or song that taught the parable.

We had made it through the wall hanging and were in the middle of the mosaic creating when the office announced that we had a call from the town saying the water was going to be turned off because of a water main break. No water. No bathrooms. No school. All the parents had been called and the students were being sent home.

Three words to describe what happened next: barely controlled chaos.

And that was the end of Fine Arts Day. I can't say that I'm sorry. I know that our Fine Arts Team put in a lot of hard work planning and preparing the day. But there are many reasons why I teach middle school English.


I feel I showed tremendous restraint at the library this afternoon. I only came home with 6 books (of course I've got 5 holds that I'm waiting to be delivered to my library for pick up, several sets of essays that must be graded by the middle of next week, and two sets of projects coming in Wednesday and Friday of this week).

Seedfolks by Paul Fleischman
Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton
Click by David Almond, Et al.
Inkheart by Cornelia Funk
Bone: #1 Out from Boneville by Jeff Smith
Your Own, Sylvia: a verse portrait of Sylvia Plath by Stephanie Hemphill

There is also the stacks of books I got at the Scholastic Warehouse sale a few weeks ago, the stacks of books I got (for free!) from the Scholastic Book Fair at my school, the stacks of books I need to read for next year's curriculum...

Sunday, May 31, 2009

A Sad Kind of Joy

This spring John and I started attending the baptist church in town. From the moment we stepped in the front door we knew we were in the right place. That first Sunday we met a very sweet woman named Kathy who asked our names and made us feel welcome. The second week we attended, Kathy immediately greeted us by name and visited with me some after the service, introducing me to another woman in the church and encouraging us to become involved in Sunday school or bible studies as soon as we felt ready. The next Sunday she handed us a book on collecting antique hand tools that she found on her mother's book shelf. I had mentioned the week before John's love of woodworking and especially hand tools.

Friday, May 29, 2009 Kathy Brown lost an 8 year battle with cancer but received the complete healing she had prayed for. God called her home. We had barely met her but were deeply blessed by her. It was her friendliness that helped us know that we belonged at FBC. Her husband Dee was at church this morning, sharing tears, blessing, and joy. He came up to us, welcomed us, told us Kathy was pleased that we'd started coming.

What an incredible testimony.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

SOL-Like a kid in a candy store

The Scholastic warehouse sale ends Friday. My husband agreed to go with me, so today after work we found our way over to the warehouse- it wasn't easy! I had dutifully printed out my pass and proudly showed it to the volunteer at the door. She gave us a map and her little spiel, and we were off to roam the isles of a book warehouse where everything with 25 and 50 percent off.

I was quite reserved, much to my husband's delight, and only came away with about 15 books. Now he loves books, too, but as he pointed out, we are verging on having too many books. How can you have too many books? Our floors aren't sagging, yet. Just because the top of the coffee table can't be seen under the piles of books...

Our coffee table isn't just any coffee table. It is a round dining room table, and old pedestal style, that was cut down to coffee table height. My husband's grandmother used to be very active with the town library (he himself is a "Friend" of the library- lifetime membership) and this coffee table at one time lived in the library's reading room. It's a coffee table that can hold a lot of books!

I just love books!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Slice of Life Tuesday

When I was younger I had this often irrational fear of the dark. I especially didn't like looking toward the windows at night. I was always afraid I might see a face or something there. I liked that we pulled the curtains at night in our house. Last night as I sat at my desk marking papers I thought I heard something outside and that old fear returned. I told myself I hadn't heard anything. After all, I had music playing and the furnace had just come on. That wasn't any kind of snuffling or scraping sound I heard out there. I didn't look toward the window. I just kept working. It really didn't help my overactive imagination that I had started reading Skeleton Creek by Patrick Carman over the weekend. If you've read the book, you understand what I'm referring to! Dismissing my fears as silly, I went back to marking papers and by the time I went off to bed I'd forgotten all about it.

This morning when my husband woke me up he told me, "We had a visitor last night." The bird feeder pole was bent over and the feeder was empty. After nearly two years of living here and having a feeder we have to start taking it in at night.

Perhaps I would gotten to see the bear if I had never been scared of the dark.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Slice of life

These 7th graders of mine are a hard sell. Sometimes I wonder if they are even conscious during class, until later when a parent mentions their child has told them something we discussed in class and how it impacted them. They're pretty quick to let me know what they don't like; *groan, "Not another project", "I don't get this book", and not so quick to tell me what they do like or what they are thinking about what we are trying to discuss. I'm learning to watch their faces during class and every once in a while get them to give me some written feedback. And I'm trying to listen outside of class for those comments that might seem innocuous, but have a great deal of depth.

This week I read aloud Love That Dog by Sharon Creech to introduce our poetry unit. The majority of the responses I was getting were along the lines of, "ugh, not poetry" and "I don't get this book". As we study different forms of poetry, the kids will be creating a book of original poems centered around a theme they choose. After school I overheard one of the boys talking to his older sister who graduated last year and is having to do a similar project in her freshman English class right now.

"Do you remember Mittens?" He asked, his voice soft. She just gave him a funny look and head shake. "The dog?" He prompted.

"Oh yeah!"

"That's going to be my topic."

This is why I teach.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Love That Book

We went to the library this morning to return some books. I absolutely love books. In browsing for books to use with my class (I'm starting poetry with 7th grade and Shakespeare with 8th grade) I came across some little gems:
Please Bury Me in the Library by poet J. Patrick Lewis and illustrated by Kyle M. Stone is a wonderful book of poems about books. I think it is my new favorite!

Horizons Poems as Far as the Eye Can See by Jane Yolen, photographs by Jason Stemple is one of several books by this wonderful mother/son team. And they have a new one out, too.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

This is spring

All the windows in the house are open, letting in the fresh, warm air. The morning was spent in the sun enjoying our separate pursuits; John enjoyed rustic woodworking behind the barn, I sat under the apple tree reading through a unit on teaching Shakespeare to middle school students. After lunch we donned our straw hats and sneakers, then headed for the patch of earth we garden. Together we worked under the hot sun to turn the soil - John wielding a pitch fork and I a garden rake. Now we are ready to plant. Although we hope to get some good manure from a friend of ours who has an organic farm. Looking forward to eating lots of our own veggies this summer!

This is John being goofy and pretending to garden in his flip-flops (which he actually often does in the summer) and stab his foot with a pitch fork.

Friday, April 24, 2009

We've only just begun

So here is my first attempt into blogging. We'll see how it goes.