The Pyrenees---Southern France

The Pyrenees---Southern France

Saturday, September 25, 2010

A Poem from the Other Side of the World

        If you are not familiar with this poet, you should be.  She is a marvelous writer, blogs, and has a link to a poem of hers that was recently published.

       I am always interested in where poets put line breaks.  In this poem, I was definitely intrigued...

photo by faith goble

       If you're in the mood for a poem (and don't we all need a bit more poetry in our lives?), read and revel in Rumjhum Biswas' poem.


Oh! To Be a Kid Again!

         I have a student who has been in the hospital for a week; a terrible staph infection has kept his activity level down, but his spirits have remained up.  The doctors and nurses say he will probably have only 6-8 more days of hospitalization. To the parents, that long on a too-short couch is a small inconvenience, as long as their son is fine in the end...

          While sitting around his bed and visiting with the parents (my friend and I went), we had such a rollicking good time, we did not even notice it was almost 9:00 before we scurried out. 

            Everyone in the room was in their 40's and 50's. 

           The dad was constantly massaging his son's stomach as we told tales of our childhood, and bemoaned the ways things were so different then...Playing outside with neighborhood friends (we had no "play dates" then), and having to settle arguments on our own (our parents didn't meddle in that kind of thing)...Polishing or shining shoes...Drinking out of the hose when you got thirsty (it was warm but it was wet), because your mom didn't want you constantly running in and out...

          The other three adults in the room are African American, and they spoke of being admonished to wash extra well, because they were seen by (some) white people as "dirty."  This is something I could not relate to, but I certainly could understand.  (My mother would loved for me to embrace cleanliness; I was a dusty, dirty tomboy.)

            Today, in some neighborhoods there is no evidence that children live there: the parents are too frightened to let them play outside, and so the kids stay in, and instead of playing ball and climbing trees and pretending they're spies, they play video games and learn no give-and-take skills.  They become inactive and unimaginative.

photo by victoriana216

              If you're not a perky, peppy 20-something, what are some of your favorite childhood memories?  What is unique about your upbringing that you would like to share? 

Wednesday, September 22, 2010


         Donna's blog has a great link to an article about the death of the English language.  It provokes one to contemplate a variety of issues.  Read...Ponder...Comment.

          One of the comments was made by Lisa Ricard Claro.  You can look her up on the blogosphere as well.  (She wrote an incredible short-short story about a looker in one of her recent postings.)  She left a thoughtful quote, which I said I would nab, but I would (of course) give her credit:

English is not dead, it's "just growing tentacles, each arm brandishing its own idea of what is acceptable."
                                                ----Lisa Ricard Claro 

photo by Whipped Bakeshop

Monday, September 20, 2010

A Contest (a la Becky Povich)

      Okay, I didn't win Becky's writing contest, but I should have.  Really. I had truckloads of all sorts of goodies shipped to The Ronald to bribe him.  (Apparently he is not a fan of Zamfir and His Magic Flute CD's, nor was he tempted by a membership in the "Bratwurst-of-the-Month" club.) I let everyone know that only contestants whose name began with "S" and ended with "X" were eligible. (I just was being thoughtful; I didn't want them to waste their time.) I even slipped in some subliminal suggestions in what they watched on TV all week ("Sioux should win...Sioux should win..."). None of it worked.  Drats!
          What I loved about it was it got me writing. It got me revising, carving away the words until I got it under 100.  So, I thought I would keep the momentum going with a contest that will take us to the end of the month.

              It's a tad bit different than Becky's.  Here are the guidelines:

  • 200 word limit (which does not include the title)
  • use the photo below as inspiration
  • must include a bit of poetry--a couplet, a sonnet (that would eat up the word count, but doesn't it sound like fun?), a limerick, a bit of free verse, a song lyric...whatever poetry means to you
  • can be any genre--fiction, newspaper "story," journal entry, etc.
  • The contest opens as soon as this is posted, and ends on October 1 at midnight.
  • My writing/teaching partner will be the main judge (she will get two "votes" to my one), since she won't know any of the entrants.
  • Please email pieces to

photo by Rhodentette

         Here are the list of prizes. (I will take pictures and post them when I find where I put my USB cord--or whatever it's called.)

  • a writing journal
  • a book called Writers, a 218-page coffee-table style book complete with lovely black and white photographs of many famous writers, along with their musings on writing
  • a hand-knit scarf (the decorative kind, the type you wear with a sweater) in olive green, turquoise, and purple---knit by a persnickety menopausal Missouri artist
  • a button--bright yellow---with the word "Writer" emblazoned in black across it
  • a small (12" or a little more, square) hand-quilted autumn wall hanging
  • a box of staples and a few dry-erase markers (a humorous prize offering, for a teaching acquaintance of mine)
  • some sort of chocolate/edible treat
       If I forgot anything, let me know.  I like how Becky did it---she printed off the entries, cut off the names, and let them sit until the judging, so she was clueless which one belonged to who.

        Let the writing begin...

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Windows...A Barrier or an Invitation?

         A Gateway Writing Project teacher consultant friend, a member of the Saturday Writers group, and a fellow blogger, Barbara can look at the most mundane thing and come up with an introspective, thought-provoking post.

       Check out her post on windows.  Think about what windows say about us...Some windows are covered with a kid's fleece blanket.  Some have no shades or curtains.  Did you ever notice that when you look into a home's windows at night, when the lights are on, everything looks cozy and Hallmark-y?

An unusual stained glass window---due to it being a "Roman" cross (resembling an "X")
This photo was taken by me during my trip to France in the summer of 2009. 
(I was searching for Johnny Depp, to no avail...I guess I will become
a stalker at a later date.)

       Barbara's blog is one to check out.  (Her observations about windows was posted on September 13, 2010.)

A Girl Named Sioux

          I was named "Susan" by my parents.  I spent the first twelve years of my life answering to that name, along with "Suzie" (my grandparents, primarily) and "Sue."

        When I was in 7th grade, it was an extremely formative year. 

  • I had an English teacher who taught us poetry via CSN & Y/Cat Stevens/Joni Mitchell/Paul Simon lyrics.  He also helped me deal with the fact that freedom of the press was not guaranteed to writers on the school newspaper.
  • I fell in love for the first time, as only 13-year olds can, first with a 26-year old English teacher (see the above bullet) and then, more sensibly, with a fellow seventh grade juggler who wore harness boots.
  • I developed an admiration for the Native Americans.
      I listened to JD Blackfoot, Elton John's Indian Sunset, I read and did film projects on Indians.  And I changed my name...

       Oh sure, it was just with my friends, so it didn't really "count."  They all knew me as "Sioux" throughout middle and high school.  I had one teacher who wrote in my year book, "You can't go through life with that name."  My parents thought it was just a phase.  Neither that teacher nor my parents knew me very well... 

       When I filled out the information for my high school diploma and my mom and dad saw "Sioux" on it, they had a connipition fit, insisting I request another one with my real name on it. 

         When I was in my 40's, I figured it was about time to make it official.  I had spent more time with my name as "Sioux" than "Susan."  I filled out the paperwork, paid the fee and went to court.

photo by rblachut

        It has only led to one uncomfortable moment.  While in college, my son had a girlfriend who is still a friend of his; she is Native American.  I was petrified she would discover how my first name was spelled, and would be offended. I have never asked what she thinks about it; I'm still too scared...



Fabulous Fathers

         This week I had cause to publicly praise one of my parents.  When I get the chance to see him in person, I am going to shake his hand.

           The parent in question has a son in my class.  It is clearly evident that this family does not play.  They have high expectations for their children, they set firm boundaries, there are consequences in their home.  In other words, the kind of family I'd like to clone about 25 times each year.

       The young man told me earlier this week that he asked his mom and dad if he could get his hair cut, mohawk-style.  His father replied, "NO.  That's not normal."

       Don't get me wrong.  I am all for individuality.  I enjoy squirrely kids, kids bursting with personality.  However, too often children get the impression that an unusual hair style gives them carte blanche for being the exception in other ways. And for some, that eventually leads to them being unable to conform in any way.

    When I saw the mom later in the week, I recounted the conversation that took place in class, expressed my gratitude to dad, and mom said, "If he was in a band, that would be different."

       I responded, "Yeah, like a band called The Mohawks."

       She countered with, "Or The Village People..."  *

photo by Charles Allen

(* If you are so young that you are clueless about who The Village People were, I'm sorry for you.  You missed out on a fun musical era...)