The Pyrenees---Southern France

The Pyrenees---Southern France

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Obama: Yes, He Might...

         For those who love the hope that President Carter and President Obama both embody (present tense, not past tense), please check out Katie Gates' insightful and optimistic post.  This particular post is from September 29 and is absolutely brilliant.  (Jeeze Louise!  I wrote from my dog's perspective today, and other bloggers write such thought-provoking stuff.  Amazing!)

photo by Violentz

photo by KGO Radio

Foley: A Guest Blogger

             My mom is swamped this weekend.  She is working on finishing report cards, and today, she has a board meeting for Love a Golden. (Love a Golden is the dog rescue group that saved me.  Before I was rescued, I was running the fields, I had to find my own food, and I was scared to death of storms but I had nowhere to feel safe---I spent all my days and nights outside.)

             Since Mom is so busy, she asked me if I would write a post today.  (It's slow going, because my paws are so big, so sometimes they hit several keys at once, and I have to erase and begin again.)  My day is usually spent napping on the couch in between sessions of playing fetch, so I figured, I have the time...

This is a photo of me as I contemplate where I will take my next nap...
In the hall?  On the futon? By the door?  So many decisions...

                 I admit, I have an easy life.  I get fed two meals every day and even though I eat the same thing every day, I don't complain.  It's pretty tasty stuff!  During the sweltering summer months, I suck up the air conditioning right along with Annie, the senior citizen I live with, and my mom and dad. When the snow piles up, no worries.  I can go outside and play in the drifts if I choose, but otherwise, I curl up on the couch where it's cozy and warm.

This is Annie. (I figured I might as well include a picture of her,
since she was nice enough--two years ago---to agree and share her home with me.)
Her eyes are really cloudy.  Mom and Dad say that she has something that sounds like "cadillacs..."

                 There's only one bad thing about living here:  the squirrels are quite wily.  They scamper around the yard in the early morning, and when they hear the back door open, they race for the trees and the fence. As fast as I run, I can never catch one.  Before I was rescued, I had to catch squirrels and rabbits for my meals.  It's been a long time since I've had a snack with four legs...

This is a picture of Love a Golden's booth at a dog rescue event.  Humans bake dog treats and spend their free time selling things so there is money to rescue more dogs.  Look them up at (That's our president. She doesn't get any money for all the work she does, just like all the other unpaid "workers." I give them a rating of "four paws out of four.")
             I only do one thing that makes my family look at me in mean ways.  I love to chew. Sofa pillows. Shoes. (Only my mom's shoes. My dad says his are too stinky, too smelly to even tempt a dog!) Any paper within my reach.  Bags of bread. (I not only eat the bread, but I tear and rip the plastic wrapper until bits of it are strewn all over the floor.)  Now the house looks a little different.  All the pillows are put away, the bedroom doors are closed while us two dogs are alone during the day, and Mom does a final "security check" before she leaves in the morning. Shoes? Put away, check. Bread on top of the microwave or way back up against the wall on the table? Check.  Doors closed so they "click" shut? Check.  Any mail or papers or magazines or books set up out of reach? Check.

               I know what you're going to say.  I've tried.  I've tried to blame Annie on the mischief I make. (Hey, before you look aghast, she's deaf, so she wouldn't be able to hear Mom and Dad admonish her and she's also forgetful, so her shame would pass in an instant...)  The two-leggers are not buying my scam. They know that nothing ever got chewed up before I came along, so I can never escape the well-deserved reputation of being the Chewinator.

This is one of my "pin up" photos.  The girl dogs love me in this tantalizing pose,
but I have no interest in them.  (The vet made sure of that when I got rescued.)
At my side is one of my two favorite things. This one is "red ball." My other
favorite thing is "purple ball." I used to also have "disgusto ball" but my dad threw it too hard,
and it went into the neighbor's yard and since it looks like a jungle back there, no more "disgusto ball..."

                I suppose this is a long enough post. I hope my mom is happy with it.  She had this idea when one of her blogging friends Lisa Ricard Claro had her two grand-cats write a post!  Yuck! Cats!  They make me even more crazy than squirrels!

Friday, October 15, 2010

A Laugh and a Prod

       If you want the opportunity to laugh (and these days, who doesn't need to laugh?) check out Katie.  If you want the chance to think, to reflect, to go back into your memory bank, check out Katie Gates' blog.  (Her October 11 post has a hilarious definition for what a mushroom is.)

photo by Sean Hawkey

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Magpie Tales

Only half of the door open,
Allowing the sunshine to flood in

Blind now---
the light too bright
and the wounds too raw
I lower myself to the floor



into the darkness...

        Try your hand at a magpie tale.  It's quick and enjoyable...Just go to Magpie Tales, take a gander at the photo, and write a poem or vignette.

My Life as a Reader

         A great blogger that I follow is Pat Hensley.  She frequently posts about marvelous teaching sites (which I'm so grateful for). This morning she shared a link to another blog that provides weekly topics to write about and wrote what her life as a reader has been like so far.

         All she had to do is mention going to the bookmobile, and it brought back a flood of memories...

         The bookmobile came to our neighborhood, and it was like going to church for me. Especially in the summer.  You'd walk up those few steps, open that heavy door, and the cool air would whoosh out and embrace you like an old friend.

          As a kid I went through phases and depending on what phase I was immersed in, I'd head for that particular section in the bookmobile.  The phases I went through were:

  • mythology...I read every collection of Greek and Roman mythological stories. It was a marvelous escape.
  • books about saints.  I can't figure out why I got hooked on reading about saints--I'm not Catholic--but I really fixated on Joan of Arc.  (I think a small part of it was her haircut.  I had a pixie haircut when I was a kid and was a tomboy.)
  • Alfred Hitchcock Presents...These were collections of scary stories that kept you on the edge of your seat.
  • The Three Investigators series...These books were about three boys who solved mysteries; their "office" was in the middle of one of the father's junkyard, and to get there, had built a tunnel through the junk.
  • Nancy Drew mysteries...Nancy and her two female friends faced danger and solved mysteries, and they usually did not need any male assistance to do it.
         These days I read a variety of types of books.  I especially love memoirs.  Change Me into Zeus' Daughter.  All Over But the Shoutin'. Lit. Lucky.  I enjoy novels about other countries and different walks of life. The Kite Runner. A Thousand Splendid Suns. I love authors who can craft a novel that keeps me thrilled with their twisted and turned plots, even though they don't write "thrillers"---authors like Sandra Dallas and Jodi Picoult.

photo by finsbry

        Mostly I read on the couch. I usually have a book with me, because I read in the car (when my husband is driving) and we also live by a set of railroad tracks, and getting stuck waiting for a long train is very pleasant when you have a book with you. However, as I have gotten older, one of the most delicious things is taking time on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon to read and...nap.

    How about you?  What is your life as a reader like?

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

With Both Barrels...

            Teaching is a challenge every day. It was a challenge last year, but this year it seems like the nation is expecting educators to jump through hoops that are set at unreachable heights.

           Last week was National Mental Health Awareness week.  In schools around the country, we cannot even acknowledge that a child's mental health (or their parent's mental instability) is a factor when it comes to achievement.  If a child is bipolar/ID (intellectually delayed or what used to be called mentally retarded)/OD (oppositional defiance), they still must achieve at an "advanced" level on the state test this next spring.  No excuses.  If a child's mother is absent due to drug addiction, if a child has just been removed from their foster home and is now in a group home, no accommodations will be made.  They still are expected to achieve at the top level.  

         The media and the politicians make me angry.  They say, "Your children are as smart (or stupid) as their test scores."  They say,"You are not a good teacher. How do we know? We know because your children are not testing at the level we've proclaimed." My students are full of potential, and I work my rear end off...

           I come in on Saturdays and Sundays. I don't have energy to do anything "fun" nor do I have the time. I am at school hours after my day officially ends. I have done home visits.  I spend my own money on my classroom.  However, since I will probably be operating the slurpee machine at Walmart next year, I had better start saving instead of spending...

         Politicians...Reporters...Anyone who slams public schools... Walk a mile month in my shoes.  Take on a classroom, and hold out your platter, 'cause it's going to be heaped to the point of overflowing. Data collection meetings every week. Grades. Parent conferences (they happen all year).  Grading papers. Scoring district assessments. Faculty meetings. Grade level meetings. Lesson plans. And of course, teaching.

          This morning I discovered I was not the only angry one. Dr. (Bell) Branstetter, on her pheomental blog was one who had let "them" have it with both barrels.

photo by flickrway
Yesterday I really did bang my head against the wall while in my principal's office.  She was talking to a group of my students--third graders---and she metioned "America" and one of  my kids asked, "Do we live in America?"  (She is NOT an immigrant nor is she the child of immigrants, in case you're wondering.) I HAD to bang my head (just once) in frustration...

           Check out her post yesterday (October 11).  She says it eloquently.  She says what needs to be said.  And although you'll get some spittle on you---'cause she's (deservedly) on a full-tilt rant---it's worth the read.

Monday, October 11, 2010

It's Microfiction Monday

           Forty-eight years of "settling." Enough! No plans. No destination. No regrets.  Ruth was 18 again, her whole life ahead, full of possibilities...


          Tired of her bald, paunchy, liver-spotted husband, Ruth was headed to see "those dancers...Chip and Dale, I think they're called."

          Try your hand at one.  Only 140 characters (I learned spaces and punctuation count), so it's fast. It's all because of Susan at Stony River. (Thanks, Susan!)

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Being Broken

photo by Danielle_T
"...monetary poverty is nothing---nothing---compared to the starvation of the creative spirit."
                                      ---T'Mara Goodsell


        I have been intrigued with the title of T'Mara Goodsell's blog since I found her (through Becky Povich, I believe).  The Art of Being Broken. It made me wonder what deep meaning was under the surface of that title.

        Tonight I was reading some of her past posts (trying to avoid grading papers), and happened up on her post on June 9, 2009.  It's entitled "Write On, Dude."

         As I was reading it, I thought about the art of mosaic. People deliberately break plates and pottery into small pieces, so they can fit them into a completely different new piece of art.   

         That post not only explains what she means by the "art" of being broken, but it vividly paints a picture of what it's like to be emotionally battered.

           Sometimes you have to break things---to take something that was "whole" but maybe not good---to create something gorgeous...


If You're a Frequent Submitter, Do Not Read This

          I am one of those people who think of themselves as a writer, but I only talk the talk.  I don't walk the walk.  Actually, I guess that's not quite accurate because it is definitely not the case that I don't yearn to live the writer's life. I do.  With a great deal of my heart. However, the rest of my heart is taken up with my kids (24 right now), and since they clamor more and yell louder than my laptop does, my students win just about every time... 

         A little over a month ago I sent off a manuscript.  It's one I have sat on for several years.  (And it's not a novel. It's a picture book.) Did I think it was going to hatch if I let it sit long enough?  Who knows? 

           Since this is--more or less--my first foray into the world of submitting-getting rejected-retinkering-submitting to different venues, I am a bit excited that on some desk (perhaps gathering dust) is my piece. It may take four more months to hear from them (and it probably won't be a thin envelope when their response arrives) but I have a plan when I do hear from them.

         I'm also working on a short story for a contest the Saturday Writers are having, and a story for a Chicken Soup for the Soul collection.  Also, the writing I read on other writers' blogs inspires me.  I am in awe of what others are able to do with their writing craft.

          If you're a writer who submits all the time, you won't be able to relate to someone who is getting excited about their "first" serious attempt at getting published. It was probably so long ago, you've forgotten it.  However, they say you never forget your first...

Mos Def I'm Definitely NOT

          This is a rap I wrote a while ago (just playing around, don't worry...You don't have to move to a foreign country, afraid this rhymically-challenged woman fancies herself a rapper).

Times I write good,
Times I write junk...
Times my writing goes places
I didn't 'riginally thunk.

The rhythm, the words
They go hand in hand,
Sweepin' you away
To a fantasyland.

You edit, scratch out,
You worry and fret,
You change some lines...
And then comes the sweat.

But keep on tryin'--
Don't ever stop.
Don't ever think your stuff
Is pure slop,

'Cause a writer's heart is strong and true...
I'm a writer and my name is Sioux.

Mos Def--the performer and actor
photo by am v animere

      We have to continue to nurture our creativity.  We have to develop thick skin yet still embrace constructive criticism.

        Does anyone have any raps about the writing process you'd like to share?