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Follow the king penguin as it dives deep into the ocean to feed on squid and lantern fish. Trace the life cycle of this bird from molting to mating and protecting its young. Learn how the king penguin survives in the cold waters just north of the Polar Front.
In the first part of The King Penguin, you’ll hear a poem* paired with beautiful photographs of this amazing bird.
In the second part, you can listen to the paired rhyming lines followed by 24 fun facts about the king penguin and its environment.
Listening to poetry is a fun way to discover sound and rhythm in English. It’s a wonderful tool in developing children’s language, and later their reading and writing. Research shows that reading aloud to young children is a critical factor in creating successful readers.**
Younger children will enjoy listening to this “Read Aloud” book with a parent. Older children can read along with the audio track, following the highlighted words on each page. This feature, word highlighting in sync with the voice narration, provides great interactivity, focusing on the language. It is perfect for pre-readers and early readers. It is also a great option for English language learners of any age.
The King Penguin can be viewed on an iPhone, iPod Touch, or iPad. It is optimized for display on the iPad. It is one of nine “Read and Listen” iBooks in the Animal Tales Series from www.littleell.com
*The poem is written in anapestic tetrameter. Other well-known examples using this poetic meter are “Twas the Night Before Christmas” and many poems by Dr. Seuss.
**In the 1985 report, Becoming a Nation of Readers, the Commission on Reading said “The single most important activity for building the knowledge required for eventual success in reading is reading aloud to children.”
Next Steps As Movimiento Photogs Recover Negatives
After forty years, it all boils down to a massive misunderstanding.
“Ask me next month” one photographer replies when I ask if he’s satisfied, now that the negatives and other materials reside in Joe Razo’s office, seventeen cartons of three-ring binders.
Negative strips in binder sleeves.
The suddenness of events has caught everyone by surprise, the full impact is still sinking in. There’s a ton of work ahead and an immediate critical decision.
Last week, La Bloga reported on the sequestration of photo archives of movimiento newspaper La Raza Newspaper and Magazine. The issue had burned quietly over the forty years since the magazine folded, leaving the archive in possession of the final editor, Raúl Ruiz.
Over time, photographers sought access to their negatives but Ruiz denied access. Once, the photographers were twenty-somethings, the editors in their thirties. Today, those photographers are retired and taking store of a life’s work. In all this time none have seen their youthful images except in memories. Ruiz' best expression of regret and apology for the years of discord over the negatives is seen in his swift delivery of all the materials. He was wrong, Ruiz acknowledges that. Ruiz includes his own negative files, including those he took during the police riot of August 29, 1970. I asked one photographer who had inspected his negatives, if there were images he remembered, that he looked forward to seeing again. “Oh yeah.” The two words burned with the warmth of never-forgotten moments of perfection, like remembering an old novia. “Oh yeah,” he says again.
When Luis C. Garza wrote the Open Letter on the subject and LatinoLA published it Saturday November 10, Ruiz realized his error and quickly recanted.
On Tuesday morning November 13, Ruiz delivered seventeen cartons to former editor Joe Razo’s chante. Garza and Razo estimate they will have 30,000 images once they recover the complete archive. The negatives are sleeved in individual strips and kept in binders. Many of the pages include proof sheets. This means there's an excellent chance the negs have not deteriorated.
Through the years and various relocations, Ruiz kept the archive—which includes editorial material--largely intact. Ruiz promises he’ll find some missing elements, for example, most of editor-photographer Razo’s files are not in the notebooks.
Properly processed and stored negatives have a long shelf life, especially when professionally organized like the 17 boxes of notebooks. Sadly, indexing was not a disciplined occupation of the newspaper. There’s a ton of work to be done now, identifying the photographer, the date and location of 30,000 frames.
Razo and Garza identify key issues the photographers will decide collectively. The most critical decision, and the one the photographers will address first, is keeping the collection together. What if individual photographers want theirs back? It’s likely they all share a commitment to finding an institution to receive the archive and make the images publically accessible. Photographer and USC professor Felix Gutíerrez can make the conecta with USC’s Digital Library.
UCLA, UCSB, Cal State Northridge, the University of Southern California would make suitable repositories. I recommended the collective favorably consider USC’s Digital Library. I donated my own negatives of the 1973 Festival de Flor y Canto to USC, and know the gente well.
With USC’s extensive collection of Southern California historical images, La Raza Newspaper and Magazine archive makes a good fit. For example, the library is digitizing the files of the LA Herald-Examiner.
Felix Gutíerrez shares last foto of Ruben Salazar with Boekmann Center librarian Barbara Robinson.
The library’s Boekmann Center Collection features an expanding catalog of historic Chicanada materials.
In addition to the digitized videos from 1973’s Festival de Flor y Canto that launched the floricanto movement, the Boekmann Center Collection is the repository for Ruben Salazar’s personal papers, including the last known foto of Salazar alive, an FBI surveillance shot of the journalist trailing the marchers along Whittier Blvd.
The photographers met last week to launch discussions on the collection’s fate. Scholars who have a pressing need to see the archive can contact Joe Razo. Razo describes his caretaker role of the negatives “completely transparent,” indicating Razo’s commitment to returning these images to history, as well as the photographers.
Massive work and key decision lies ahead.
Technology allows photographers to have their negatives and share them too. I had a hundred or so frames that I digitized myself. I keep possession of my negatives while USC displays the images themselves on its Digital Library. In theory, any library in the world wanting “original” copies of photographic images need only acquire the scanned file and store it on local servers. If someone wants to own a museum quality print of an image, or use a frame in a textbook or documentary, there’s a link to create that opportunity. The photographer doesn’t lose control of one’s own work.
Digitizing is costly. Hardware is cheap; it’s the labor to feed the machine that costs. Non-stop scanning, 35,000 images at a minute per six-frame strip will require almost 500 hours. At $10.00 an hour for one work-study student, that’s $5000 the library must come up with, just to start thinking about acquiring the donation of the archive.
Every frame requires coding. Not just a dewey decimal number or other catalog locator, but libraries keep, inside the files, hundreds of characters of data about every item. That data needs to be verified then keyboarded. Some of this work requires an information professional’s skill. Add another ten grand to the budget and now we’re up to $15,000.
Library administrators don’t budget for such fall-in-your-lap windfalls like 35,000 important historical photographic negatives. Where does a Dean find a source of fifteen thousand dollars to spend on safeguarding the value of La Raza newspaper and magazine’s archive?
This photographic collection is the only one in existence of some of the most important events of recent U.S. history. The images can flesh out, or be the subject, of dozens of dissertations. For a University, such treasures help attract leading scholars, and donors.
USC has a President’s Office and a leader with a long list of friends and a vision for the University. La Bloga calls on President Max Nikias to prioritize USC’s acquisition of this precious resource. Can a president turn a magical money tap and produce fifteen grand just like that?
Problems like that are why universities have presidents. Solutions go with the job.
But first things first. The photographers will decide what to do with the collection. Keep it whole, or break it apart. That’s unlikely, but a possibility. In the meantime, the process of making a database of those seventeen cases of negative strips occupies the available energies of the collective, but mostly Joe Razo. Razo's offered access to any academic with a professional interest in the archive. Who knows if academia will beat a path to Joe Razo's door?
La Bloga On-Line Floricanto, Penultimate Tuesday of November 2012 Odilia Galván Rodríguez, Elena Díaz Bjorkquist, Avotcja, Ana Chig, Alma Luz Villanueva
"Motherland", by Odilia Galván Rodríguez "Calling Forth the Seeds of Winter", by Elena Díaz Bjorkquist "Are We Even Listening?", by Avotcja "INSANIA", por Ana Chig "Happy", by Alma Luz Villanueva Motherland Odilia Galván Rodríguez far from artificial borders that birthed us our long toothed roots remain tethered here to earth red with ancient ancestor's blood that bloomed future, their generations spread across these great nations, which was always motherland long before strangers came, named us foreign we remain forever citizens of Turtle Island Calling Forth the Seeds of Winter Elena Díaz Bjorkquist Dedicated to my Comadres of Sowing the Seeds who endured the cold outside on the porch at our last meeting! In cold truth, Summer ends, Seeds prepare to rest. Something about that cold. Things come out of it, Settle in our writer’s heart. Sun vanishes, temperature drops, We endure head-clearing cold, Recall, recognize, honor The seeds of our wisdom’s harvest. Winter winds like sacred voices Call forth abundance, A time to resurrect Our natural creativity, A joy for all. Time to remember the gifts From loved ones who’ve gone on. Time to select seeds of wise actions To plant for future harvest. Cold and heat, Summer and winter, Seed time and harvest time, Suggest a definite time of harvest. But there's no fixed time for harvest, We can call it forth at will. The harvest is clear—memories Reveal the lessons of what's passed. We become aware, Accept the creative power of now, Conceptualize, visualize, energize A world of beauty, good relationships. The heart of awareness, Is the dance of arising worlds, Soul seeds planted in winter. Are We Even Listening? Avotcja Mother Nature is crying And as I drink her tears I ask myself What can I do to make her smile? INSANIA por Ana Chig Un compás de nieblas nocturnas detenidas en el verde oscuro Migas de astenia repartidas a los pájaros en la escisión inaprensible de las almas La ventosa urbana, el cementerio de nubes grises y silenciosas Todos reunidos ésta noche a contratiempo Con la médula de cartón humedecida Orgánica la palabra, luciérnaga el deseo, articulados los sueños, y un vacío tintineando inquieto en los bolsillos. Happy Alma Luz Villanueva Flowers in fountains, scented lilies, roses, beauty, trees, grasses fed by springs, greeted "Hola, la agua es muy rica," this water always heals me, the unguarded smiles, laughter, until the tourists arrive, smiles but now polite, butterflies float in warm November air, the scented lilies soothe me, a black crow struts, a kitten plays with her mother, as I eat chicken fajitas for breakfast, cold cerveza with limes, a pitcher of coffee, Spanish cradling my ears, I'm happy. BIOS "Motherland", by Odilia Galván Rodríguez "Calling Forth the Seeds of Winter", by Elena Díaz Bjorkquist "Are We Even Listening?", by Avotcja "INSANIA", por Ana Chig "Happy", by Alma Luz Villanueva
Odilia Galván Rodríguez, poet/activist, writer and editor, has been involved in social justice organizing and helping people find their creative and spiritual voice for over two decades. Odilia is one of the original members and a moderator, of Poets Responding to SB 1070 on Facebook. She teaches creative writing workshops nationally, currently at Casa Latina, and also co-hosts, "Poetry Express" a weekly open mike with featured poets, in Berkeley, CA. For more information about workshops see her blog http://xhiuayotl.blogspot.com/ or contact her through Red Earth Productions & Cultural Work 510-343-3693.
Elena Díaz Björkquist, third from right.
“Sowing the Seeds, my woman writers collective has been active in Tucson for 12 years. Each November, we meet at my home to celebrate el Día de los Muertos and for an arts and crafts workshop. This year we decided to invite Doña Rosa from Albuquerque to do a Medicinal Herbs Workshop for us. The workshop was held on my portal. It was a beautiful sunny day that was supposed to warm up, but instead it got colder! I wrote this poem for my freezing Comadres.” A writer, historian, and artist from Tucson, Elena writes about Morenci, Arizona where she was born. She is the author of two books, Suffer Smoke and Water from the Moon. Elena is co-editor of Sowing the Seeds, una cosecha de recuerdos and Our Spirit, Our Reality; our life experiences in stories and poems, anthologies written by her writers collective Sowing the Seeds. As an Arizona Humanities Council (AHC) Scholar, Elena has performed as Teresa Urrea in a Chautauqua living history presentation and done presentations about Morenci, Arizona for twelve years. She recently received the 2012 Arizona Commission on the Arts Bill Desmond Writing Award for excelling nonfiction writing and the 2012 Arizona Humanities Council Dan Schilling Public Humanities Scholar Award in recognition of her work to enhance public awareness and understanding of the role that the humanities play in transforming lives and strengthening communities. Elena is one of the poet moderators for the Facebook page “Poets Responding to SB1070” and has written many poems published not only on that page, but also on La Bloga. She was recently nominated for Poet Laureate of Tucson. Her website is at http://elenadiazbjorkquist.com/.
Avotcja (pronounced Avacha) is a card carrying New York born Music fanatic/sound junkie & popular Bay Area Radio DeeJay & member of the award winning group Avotcja & Modúpue. She’s a lifelong Musician/Writer/Educator/Storyteller & is on a shamelessly Spirit-driven melodic mission to heal herself. Avotcja talks to the Trees & listens to the Wind against the concrete & when they answer it usually winds up in a Poem or Short Story. Website: www.Avotcja.org Email: LaVerdadMusical@yahoo.com
Alma Luz Villanueva was raised in the Mission District, San Francisco, by her Yaqui grandmother, Jesus Villanueva- she was a curandera/healer from Sonora, Mexico. Without Jesus no poetry, no stories, no memory... Author of eight books of poetry, most recently, Soft Chaos (2009). A few poetry anthologies: The Best American Poetry, 1996, Unsettling America, A Century of Women's Poetry, Prayers For A Thousand Years, Inspiration from Leaders & Visionaries Around The World. Three novels: The Ultraviolet Sky, Naked Ladies, Luna's California Poppies, and the short story collection, Weeping Woman, La Llorona and Other Stories. Villanueva's fourth novel, SCORPION HUNTER, and new book of poetry, GRACIAS, are to be published in 2013. Fiction anthologies include: 500 Great Books by Women, From The Thirteenth Century;Caliente, The Best Erotic Writing From Latin America; Coming of Age in The 21st Century; Sudden Fiction Latino. Her poetry and fiction has been published in textbooks from grammar to university, and is used in the US and abroad as textbooks. Alma Luz Villanueva has taught in the MFA in creative writing program at Antioch University, Los Angeles, for the past fourteen years. She is the mother of four, wonderful, grown human beings. Alma Luz Villanueva now lives in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, for the past eight years, traveling the ancient trade routes to return to teach, and visit family and friends, QUE VIVA!! And taking trips throughout Mexico, working on a novel in progress, always the poetry, memory. www.almaluzvillanueva.com
Open to World Wide: If the winner is outside the USA they will receive the cash equivalent via Paypal or Amazon NO EXCEPTIONS!
I've never had a play station, but as my husband is a gamer, we've always wanted one. Join me in entering to win this great Play Station 3 Bundle.
The PlayStation 3 320 GB Uncharted 3; Drake's Deception bundle provides the action and adventure, as well as the unique blend of entertainment, excitement and fun that PlayStation 3 is famous for. The bundle consists of a PS3 loaded with a huge 320 GB hard drive, a matching DualShock 3 controller and a copy of Uncharted 3; Drake's Deception, a PlayStation Plus 30-day voucher and standard cables required to get playing (HDMI cable not included). Couple all this with the advanced audio-video features of the PlayStation 3, which includes access to Netflix,¹ Hulu Plus, CinemaNow, MLB.TV, NHL GameCenter, as well as a 3D gaming option,² and you have the perfect means to enjoy the world of modern digital entertainment.
To Win - Happy Holidays! One lucky winner will win PlayStation 3 Uncharted 3: Bundle. For your chance to win simple enter via the Rafflecopter Below. GOOD LUCK!
It's the week of Thanksgiving, which means the countdown to Christmas has officially begun! When I was younger Thanksgiving meant putting up the tree, making decorations, and hanging up the ultimate paper countdown chain. I would have loved to ring in the Holidays with today's gift ideas from Hallmark.
Gift Idea - “Bring the Holidays to Life” with Hallmark and Hallmark Gold Crown Stores.
Besides the paper chain, every Christmas Season I also marked off the days on a calendar, ate chocolates from an advent calendar, and did a secret 12 days till Christmas for one of my sisters. I would have absolutely loved the North Pole Countdown Christmas Ornament.
The North Pole Countdown Ornament is a cute radio that helps listeners dial down the days till Christmas. Every day you turn the dial, and here an update from the North Pole. The news update is brought to you "live" from the North Pole every day between Dec. 1st and Christmas.
Something else new from Hallmark are there Be a Part of the Story Storybooks where kids chat with the main character.
In A Visit to the North Pole, readers can interact with Santa Clause as they tour around the North Pole. When highlighted lines are read aloud, the character chimes in with a special question or choice for a child to answer. Once the child answers, the character responds and the story continues. The book can be a little different depending on the child's response, but it's always fun!
Hallmark also has a new line of Interactive Greeting Cards. You can countdown to Christmas with Mickey,. Uncover a new Holiday surprise every day with the advent calendar. Or my favorite, record your child's wish list!
To Buy - All of the above products can be purchased at Hallmark Gold Crown Stores. And the ornaments and interactive storybooks can be purchased online for $24.99 from Hallmark.com. As a special for all of you, use the code BLOG30 for an extra 30% off your order at Hallmark.com. (Good through Dec.)
For Extra Savings, visit a Hallmark Gold Crown Store all Season Long
Snowvember WeEkend Event • November 16-18, 2012 - Five new snowmen gifts will arrive just in time for this event! Join us to get 25 percent off ALL regularly priced Hallmark-branded Snowmen and Snow Globes* and be among the first to see new holiday products, including the 2012 Swooshin’ Duo snowman plush and it’s coordinating Keepsake Ornament, Snow Globe and storybook, There’s Snow Stopping Us Now.
KeEpsake Ornament Gift of Memories WeEkend • December 7-9, 2012 - Get an up-close look at nine of our newest Keepsake Ornaments and take them home to commemorate the holidays with your family. With the purchase of any Keepsake Ornament, you’ll receive $5 off your next purchase (of $10 or more). We’ll also host drawings to win special holiday surprises. Stop by to see what’s up for grabs at your local Hallmark Gold Crown store! To Win - Hallmark is giving away a fun Christmas prize pack to one of you. The package includes
“A Visit to the North Pole” Be a Part of the Story Storybook
One of Hallmark’s “Everyday” Recordable Storybooks or an Interactive Storybuddy
A selection of the newest Signature and Interactive Greetings from Hallmark
To Enter Complete any of the entries on the rafflecopter form below. Open to US no PO Boxes.
I received a product to review from the above company or their PR Agency. Opinions expressed in this post are strictly my own - I was not influenced in any way. I received no monetary compensation for this post. By entering this giveaway you agree to my giveaway/disclosure guidelines
DreamWorks Animation has a comprehensive in-house training program which provides a lot of resources for their artists. They provide every incoming artist with a list of the books and resources that they have found most helpful for mastering the art of animation.
DreamWorks has generously allowed me to share this recommended list with you. The links take you to more information about each of the books. If the resources are not books, I've added a note about where the links will take you.
Today's vintage children's picture book is another goodie illustrated by Philippe Fix, whose lush and highly detailed illustrations enhance Alexander and theMagic Mouse. I can't imagine any child not wanting to read a book about a older woman who keeps house with an alligator from China, a yak, a Brindle London Squatting cat and a Magical Mouse!
Great vantage point on the above illustration. To view a previous posting I did on TheBook of Giant Stories, illustrated by Philippe Fix, click here. There is a little bit of information about Fix, all I've been able to find to date.
Alexander and the Magic Mouse
By Martha Sanders
Pictures by Philippe Fix
American Heritage Press, 1969
Weekly Reader Children's Book Club Edition
Thanks for viewing my blog, I hope you enjoyed it.
This is my grandfather and Great Aunt Dot, when they were both about nineteen years old. It's from a series of photos taken that day that include my grandmother, some friends and one of her brothers, my Great Uncle Thomas, who was also dressed in hula gear. Neither my grandfather nor Dot were married into the family yet (she would marry my grandmother's brother Rob), but they were in many photos from this era as part of the "gang" that was my grandmother's family. The Lennons always knew how to have fun - stories about their parties are nearly legendary and the best part is that it didn't take much for them to have a party (there were eight siblings). My grandfather in particular was looking for a bunch like this, I think. He was much younger than his own siblings (he was born while some of his brothers were off fighting in WWI), and his mother was ill during this period - she actually died before my grandparents were married in 1939. The Lennons sort of adopted him from the moment he and my grandmother first met at a party when she was only fourteen.
I wish I knew what was going on up on that roof that day. The pictures come from my great grandmother's photo albums and this group was labeled by my grandmother but I only saw them recently and so was never able to talk to her about them. I imagine they were part of the group having "a few laughs" as she would say. Just another day in the life of the Lennons.
Sometimes you get really lucky in the people you come from - the joy manages to leap off the page and infect you across decades and miles. How can you look at this and not smile?
This picture book, sub-titled A Traditional Iroquois Story, is a read-aloud treat. Telling the story, a traditional Native American fable (ever-so perfect for winter), of why Rabbit’s once long, beautiful tail is now stubby-short, the Bruchacs (father and son, both storytellers) incorporate engaging chants and rhythms into the text (”I will make it snow, AZIKANAPO! I will make it snow, AZIKANAPO!” and “EE-OOO! Thump! Thump! EE-OOO! Thump! Thump! YO, YO, YO! YO, YO, YO!”), daring you not to tap your foot as you read. I don’t want to give away the story here, but there’s a lot of humor here, especially given our protagonist’s excessive pride.
The artwork here is by Jeff Newman, who visited for breakfast in 2010. I always like to see what Newman is up to. There are some final spreads at the bottom of this post, as well as some sketches, storyboards, and dummy images, so you can get a good sense of Newman’s style with this one. Check this out, too, something I wish so super bad I’d written: The Publishers Weekly review of Rabbit’s Snow Dance wrote, “Newman’s influences are comparatively modern—think Mary Blair with a touch of Hanna-Barbera.” Right? RIGHT. That fits. That works. It totally and entirely does. You can see this below in the images he shares.
[Note: As for the three different storyboard versions below, Jeff writes: “… Storyboards 2 and 3 are evolutions of the same approach, which ended up in the final book. However, the first storyboard shows an entirely different version of the book, which would have essentially been the same scene repeated throughout the book. So, rather than the scene changing, we’d see the animals moving over the landscape, and how the weather changes it.”]
Enjoy the art, and I thank Jeff for sharing today. (more…)
Ask a room full of children, "Who's seen a parade?", and you'll see dozens of eyes start to sparkle. A parade?!! What fun!! One of my favorite books to share at this time of year is Melissa Sweet's Balloons Over Broadway. It tells the story of Tony Sarge, the puppeteer who created the original giant balloons for the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. Whether you have the chance to see this parade in person or watch it on TV, this book will delight families with its story of creativity and invention.
Ever since Tony Sarge was a boy, he loved inventing creative solutions to problems. Sweet hooks readers right from the beginning with the snippet of Tony as a child inventing a way to use pulleys to open the chicken coop early each morning while managing to stay in bed. Tony Sarge was truly a creative inventor who looked at new ways to do things his whole life. He brought his puppet making skills first to London, and then to New York. It was in New York that Macy's asked him to put on a parade, which Sarge did with delight.
Children love thinking through Sarge's dilemmas with creating puppets for his parade. How can he make them big enough for everyone to see? How can he carry them down the streets if they are that large? How did he get his ideas? Melissa Sweet shows just the right amount of clues that kids put the pieces together themselves, feeling Sarge's "ah-hah" moment for themselves. Her artwork is full of joy, creativity, and clear history as she leads children through Sarge's life.
I enjoyed reading this interview with Melissa Sweet over at Monica Edinger's column at the Huffington Post. Monica asked Melissa to tell readers a little bit about her process creating the art.
"Melissa Sweet: My studio is full of old toys, fabric and found objects I've collected. I started making quirky toys and paper-mache puppets using the materials I had on hand. People often ask which comes first, words or pictures, and in this case making these objects taught me about Tony's creative process and helped me figure out an angle to tell the story. I knew I wanted a 3-dimensional aspect to the art to give the feel of what Tony's studio might've been like."
Also make sure to check out the great collection of primary resources over at Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast - Melissa Sweet shares original video from the Macy's Parade in the 1930s, photographs of Tony Sarge and his puppets, and some of her early sketches from the book.
If you like sharing nonfiction with your children, be sure to check out the Robert F. Sibert Informational Book Medal. This award is given every year to the author and illustrator of the most distinguished informational book for children. I am always fascinated by the range and depth of information books that this award recognizes.
The review copies came from our school library. If you make a purchase using the Amazon links on this site, a small portion goes to Great Kid Books (at no cost to you!). Thank you for your support.
We were snowed in as usual. The cabin fever began to grow. There was barely room for all of us and the animals. Nothing could be left out in this cold. The wind shrieked and howled while the snow buried our houses with us in them. The digging started right away, of course. Those of us who were nearest the door were given shovels and plows whether we wanted them or not. Granny sat by the wood stove. She was blind but she was knitting. There would be a long scarf for the children by the time we tunnelled to daylight. Children howled and shrieked with joy as they buzzed through the crowded residence. Families and extended families with their neighbours and their extended families sheltered in the humble abode. Gramps saw it once. One time, so they say, before he passed away, Gramps emerged from the snow tunnel the day before the winter snows descended again. He looked upon the homestead that day, without snow on it and never spoke another word. Caribou jerky hung from the ceiling. Wood stoves kept the stew stewing. We took it in shifts. We hoped, in our modest way, to make it out before the snows came again. We aimed to see what Gramps saw. Farmyard beasts mated in the back, among the hanging furs. Birds sat in the rafters and dropped droppings as we dug for many days. Once, it became lighter and we thought we had reached the end in record time. We were wrong, of course. A cave-in deprived many of consciousness. Lively Irish fiddle music replaced lively Scottish fiddle music which replaced lively French fiddle music. Then they reversed. Stew and beer awaited those who participated in the digging. It wasn’t an occupation which promoted good health, but as our neighbour, Mr Clark said, “Up, up and away! ” Children were born, old ones passed along, the population’s size expanded and shrunk. The digging went on, but it was slow work. We were sure to reach the end by the return of the snowstorms, but what then? Did we always have to do this? Is this what life was about? It was in this frame of mind that I’d become separated from the main group. I don’t know how it happened. I wandered through a shiny crystal tunnel. I was lost. The temperature was all right but I had no food or water. A mysterious tugging kept me walking on without fear. Then it was over as soon as it had begun. I emerged into a warm field full of sunshine and trees and grass and birds. A small man dressed in green sat with his back up against a towering oak tree. He was fingering a flute, trying out different notes by covering different holes. I sat down in front of him and watched. His bushy grey eyebrows flickered as he stared at his fingers in concentration. He blew a few notes, wrinkled his nose and placed the flute in an inside jacket pocket. From this he withdrew a deerstalker pipe and tobacco. When he had lit up and enjoyed the smoke, he smiled and looked at me. ”Well now, how are you and the Canadians you know?” I wasn’t sure what to say. I felt good right then, at that moment. But how was I really? And the Canadians I knew? This flashed through my mind in a nanosecond, but the little man’s eyes showed that he was waiting for me to catch up. It seemed that he was reading my mind. I only had to think something and he would chuckle to himself. It made me examine every thought. “Fine” I said. “Fine? Fine?” he chuckled, drew a good draught on his pipe. When I looked into his eyes I could only think of the digging. Stew, beer and digging. It wasn’t a happy fate that awaited Canadians. The reality of it struck me in the face like a cold mackerel. “Well, you seem to have caught me unawares, so I’ll grant you the wish you desire” said the little man dressed in green. He produced a wand and stood at the ready. He rolled his eyes, checked a pocket watch in his vest, tapped his toe, sighed and looked impatient. I could think only of the digging as I made my wish. The little man doffed his green fedora, pocketed his pipe and disappeared with a smile and a twinkle of the eye. I found myself walking along the crystal corridors again, pulled onward by an unknown force. Sounds of the digging greeted me as I joined the digging assembly line to the envious oohs and ahhs of my coworkers. They were admiring my brand new shovel. More stew, beer and digging. It began to look dubious that we would reach the end of the snow tunnel before the snows returned. We dug harder and faster to make it through. Then, just when things were darkest, we began to see a little light. As we dug toward the surface, there were hoots of jubilation among the grunts of work. The sun appeared as we emerged a year after the last snowstorm, but a snow cloud quickly hid its warmth and light. We realized, as we looked upon the homestead, that big lump of snow, that the snowstorms had returned. We were late by a few days. We resolved to beat the snowstorms next year as we filed back into the tunnel.
Don't ask me where I was last week because I surely won't remember! Work has been crazy busy and I'm feeling like the hole I've dug myself is getting bigger. Perhaps this holiday will afford me some time to catch up.
Even thought I'm going slightly crazy, I still have time to read poetry. These days it's Mary Oliver's work that graces my nightstand. I've been thinking a lot about the poem "I Happen to Be Standing," in which Oliver meditates on her morning ritual with a notebook. The poem begins this way:
I Happened to be Standing
I don't know where prayers go,
or what they do.
Do cats pray, while they sleep
half-asleep in the sun?
Does the opossum pray as it
crosses the street?
The sunflowers? The old black oak
growing older every year?
You can hear Oliver talk about this poem and others in this NPR interview.
Do you have a morning ritual? Do you say prayers at night, in the morning, or whenever the urge hits you? These are the things I'm thinking of and want to write about. Won't you join me? Leave me a note about your poem and I'll share the results in time for Poetry Friday.
"I just came up with a not especially original idea: an 'If you want to understand me...' list. It would include shows, books, movies, and other influences. Not that different from a list of faves, just introduced a bit differently. And it might be more skewed towards things you quote all the time. So. If you want to understand [Kiba], watch Ferris Bueller's Day Off and Buffy the Vampire Slayer. If you want to understand [Kiba's sister], watch The Princess Bride and Futurama."
For me, the list would include:
Leverage, my favorite currently-airing TV show. Thanks to the brilliant writers, directors, and cast, this genre-blending series is smart, funny, and touching. It fuses together elements of comedy, drama, action, even romance, with plenty of justice and great stunts to boot. Leverage has memorable main characters who have grown and changed along the way, and all of the five main characters truly matter to one other. By that, I mean that they not only make a dynamic team, but they also connect one-on-one. This show has had a solid impact on me. If you know me, if you really know me, you'll know why I love it so much.
Singin' in the Rain, my favorite movie musical. Thank you, Gene Kelly, Donald O'Connor, Debbie Reynolds, Jean Hagan, Arthur Freed, Betty Comden, Adolph Green, Nacio Herb Brown, and MGM for making me so happy. I wish I had been a part of that film.
Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery. I read this book so many times when I was a child. Anne Shirley shares my optimism, imagination, and determination. Like all of my favorite characters, she's intelligent and imaginative, bold and strong. Simply put, Anne rocks. After you read the book, please watch the Kevin Sullivan adaptations of Anne of Green Gables and Anne of Avonlea. Megan Follows is absolutely wonderful as the title character.
Disney's The Little Mermaid. Like Anne, Ariel shares my optimism and determination. Howard Ashman and Alan Menken's score is beautiful. Jodi Benson's voice is wonderful. I want to sing with her. I'm a musical theatre actress-singer, and I would be over the moon if I got to sing in a movie such as this, with a score such as this, surrounded by such talented people. I also love Liz Callaway's vocals in the animated Anastasia.
When I was little I loved filling pieces of paper with faces. Not much has changed.
Have you seen this TEDx talk by author/illustrator Jarrett Krosoczka? It's really wonderful!
Also, authors Kate Messner and Joanne Levy have started "KidLit Cares", an auction to raise money for the Sandy relief effort. There are lots of really amazing things being auctioned off, including a portfolio critique from Marla Frazee, tuition to the SCBWI 2013 Winter Conference in NYC, and a set of signed Lois Lowry books. Take a look! Maybe there's something you'd like to bid on!
I can teach you things, but I can not make you learn.
I can give you directions, but I cannot be there to lead you.
I can allow you freedom, but I cannot account for it.
I can take you to church, but I cannot make you believe.
I can teach you right from wrong, but I can not always decide for you.
I can buy you beautiful clothes, but I can not make you beautiful inside.
I can offer you advice, but I can not accept it for you.
I can give you love, but I cannot force it upon you.
I can teach you to share, but I cannot make you selfish.
I can teach you respect, but I cannot force you to show honor.
I can advise you about friends, but I cannot choose them for you.
I can tell you about drinking, but I cannot keep you pure.
I can tell you about the facts of life, but I can not build your reputation.'
I can tell you about drinking, but I can not say no to you.
I can tell you about drugs, but I cannot prevent your using them.
I can teach you kindness, but I can't force you to be gracious.
I can warn you about sins, but I cannot make your morals.
I can love you as a child, but I cannot place you in God's family. I can pray for you, but I cannot make you walk with God. I can teach you about Jesus, but I cannot make Jesus your Lord. I can tell you how to live, but I cannot give you Eternal Life.
We celebrated my father's 87th birthday this week. He's still smart, he's still funny, he's still ambulatory, he's still helping other people. We should all hope that we are doing that well at 87. When we hugged, he said, "I never thought I'd have this many."
It would be easy to dread the time when there are no more birthdays, but that would be a mistake. He knows this and he has lived his life enjoying what he can when he can. So much wisdom.
I spend way too much of my life thinking about what I should be doing, dreading what I must do, regretting what I haven't done. From this day forward, I commit to avoiding this waste of time.
If I can do something, I will, but if I'm stuck in traffic, or I'm too tired, or the day is too short, I'm not going to waste my time with the worry and regret. I'm going to enjoy life. Maybe that way, I'll live to 87. Who knows how much fun I can have, books I can read, books I can write, games I can play, walks in the autumn leaves I can take -- if I don't waste that time?
Remember a few weeks ago I visited Christy Rush-Levine’s classroom? As a reflection for our curriculum director, principal, and school board, we (Andrea Komorowski, 6th grade language arts teacher; Shelley Kunkle, 7th grade… Read More →