In March

In March, the earth slowly begins the warming process to encourage plants. Sometimes that is a cruel trick.

In March, the weather is unpredictable. One day it might be warm and sunny, but overnight winds bring snow to blanket the earth.

In March, clocks spring forward an hour. An hour lost takes its toll on a body.

In March, the world exclaims, “I’m Irish!” for a day. Many dress in green devouring corned beef and cabbage.

In March, the trees hide no secrets, revealing broken limbs and nesting places.

Slowly, the buds of new growth appear. A few leaves unfurl,

 

 

brilliant blossoms appear.

In March, a spring’s gate opens wide to welcome the green back from its winter’s rest. Bulbs planted in fall push dirt aside to claim their space.

In March, animals shake slumber of hibernation off. Birds flit, collecting bits of grass, twigs, strings for new nests.

In March, people write more every day to meet a challenge. Writing friends, old and new, share a slice of their life. Writers play with words to preserve a thought or perhaps a moment observed.

In March, the world grows a little bit smaller because of the Slice of Life Challenge. Congratulations to all who have written this month.

Perhaps you recognized my mentor text for this post, In November by Cynthia Rylant

5 Things to Do More Often

I mentioned to my husband I was working on this post. I started to ask him if he had any suggestions, when he began to smirk. I could see a glint in his eye. I decided not to ask for any suggestions. His list and my list would not be the same.

I imagine his list would say:

  1. Ride your bike more.
  2. Walk three miles every day.
  3.  Organize  your office.
  4. Dust your office.
  5. Put everything back in its place immediately after using said item.

My list, on the other hand,  says:

  1. Build in time to go out with friends more often. Coffee, lunch, happy hour, dinner are all options I need to remember for get-togethers with friends. Life gets busy and I get stuck in the rut of being home.
  2. Clear my desk. Stacks of papers and books seem to grow and grow. I need to find a place for each.
  3. See more movies. I love those recliner seats in movie theaters. When I can get to the first showing of the day, it is not only cheaper, but there are fewer people. I just forget that is an option for my day.
  4. Take my mom out for lunch. I try to savor every bit of time I can with my mom. She’s 87 and seems more frail every year. We need to spend quality time together, just chatting about her life or my life in general.
  5. Sit, sip, and savor a lovely glass of wine before dinner. Doesn’t that sound good? Usually I am so busy preparing dinner, I don’t have time to enjoy a glass of wine before dinner. Often when I have a guest for dinner, they sit at the counter, sip wine and visit with me while I’m finishing up preparations. I need to try this out too.

There you have it, my five things to do more often. Who knows, I might even do a few from my husband’s list too. 🙂

Counting Commercials

Every day, since March 17, I ride a bike on a trainer for thirty l o n g minutes. I am trying to get back into a routine of some deliberate exercise that disappeared for about six months.

Every morning, when I open my eyes, a thought passes through my mind. You should get dressed and on the bike. Get it over and done. If I wait a moment, another thought leaps to the front. You should make your coffee and drink it before you ride the bike. I decide to go with that last thought.

I make the coffee, relax into the couch reading my iPad, thoroughly enjoying my morning beverage. Usually, there’s no real hurry. I have a mental timetable of when to climb onto the bike to begin the endless pedaling. I want to be finished with this by 8:30 a.m.

For some odd reason, I love to watch the intro of the Today Show. They do quick snippets of the latest news. Then they launch into the more in-depth story. I continue to watch, finishing up my coffee. Once the coffee is gone, I need to move onto the bike. Perhaps this is about 7:30.

Big mistake!

I am pedaling away watching the show, but what’s this? Commercial after commercial after commercial. I counted eleven different commercials before they returned to the show! Then they chatted with someone for about five minutes (that may be stretching the time) followed by another round of commercials! By then, they broke away to the local station for the next ten minutes. My time was up on the bike, but I was appalled at how many commercials I had to endure. It’s already torture to sit and pedal, but that was adding insult to injury.

The next morning, I didn’t languish in bed a few extra minutes. I got up, had my coffee, and got on the bike before seven. Do you know how many commercials were in the first twenty minutes of the show? NONE! I guess the second half hour has to make the money. Guess what my new plan is now.

I will attempt to be up and on the bike before seven, because if I’m not, I know I will pay for it after 7:30. I just don’t enjoy pedaling through commercials. I bet that didn’t surprise you.

Curious, But Cautious

Read these definitions, do you know what word applies to both?

  • irrelevant or inappropriate messages sent on the Internet to a large number of recipients
  • trademark a canned meat product made mainly from ham

Did you guess spam?

As a child I loved a crispy fried slice of spam from the skillet, placed on soft, buttered, white bread. The heat from the meat (?) melted the butter and soaked into the bread. Now that was a good sandwich when I was seven, eight, nine, ten.

Today, I doubt I could get one bite of that sandwich down. But, this is not a post about food from my younger days. This is about the spam that collects in my email folder, titled Spam. This email fascinates and frightens me.

The fascination comes from the brief snippet my email shows. Look at this snip, I am curious about the new order from Leonard. Why does Jeremy think my images need editing.? Kaitlyn has a delivery approved for me. It must be a gift, because I didn’t order anything. I love getting gifts! Each line makes me want to open it up and see what it’s all about.

But I will never open them. I know better. I watch the Today Show with Jeff Rosen and have seen his reports on scams and viruses. But still, I am curious. I wonder, private message from Sliona? Who are you!?

Then there are the ones that make me worried. Some of these sound serious. Those words, Security Alert, make me think I need to check into this, but I don’t. Same reasons as above.

So every few days, I open up the spam file to see if someone landed there by mistake. Occasionally, I will find a blogging friend in the spam file. Not quite sure why they end up there, but that’s an easy fix by checking the Not Spam box. My eyes will look at the line given, I will be tempted, but I won’t open it. Ever.

 

Traffic Lights

My eyes scan the traffic ahead of me. My mind is busy. Wondering what lane to select. Planning the best route for my trip to where ever I’m headed.

Up ahead I notice the light is green, but will it be when I get there? Will I be able to stop if it turns red? I judge that I will have to stop. Now I consider how many cars are ahead of me. Is there a truck with a trailer? Is there a semi? Where will I be in the line? I like to be first in line. Two cars will be ahead of me, but a quick glance to the lane next to me is empty. If I move over, I will be first. I am now first in line.

As I wait for the light to turn green, I look to see who is in the car next to me. Will they be a quick starter? Will they be a dawdler? My eyes return to the traffic light. I want to be ready when the light turns green. The light changes, I pause to be sure the cross traffic has stopped before I move forward.

I like to be first because I’m not very patient with people who don’t go when the light turns green. It’s particularly annoying when I’m second or third in line. Four seconds pass and we are still standing still. I give an exasperated sigh that no one can hear, except me.

Now if I’m farther back, my attitude is completely different. I am less impatient, more resigned to my position in traffic. So, I wait patiently for the line to begin to move. Now I’m back assessing, will I make it through or will I have to stop?

The traffic cycle of assessing positions starts again and continues,  until I am back home and in my garage.

Wrapped to Go

Sheets stripped from bed.

Flat sheet, fitted sheet, pillowcase.

Individually placed in washer.

Spin cycle twists.

Wet sheets

Shaken to untangled,

Tossed into dryer.

Roll, flip, turn

Over

And

Over.

Cycle chimes,

“Ready to go!”

Not so neatly packaged,

Wrapped to go.

At least it’s dry.

 

There’s a Hole in My Bread, Dear Liza!

Are you hearing the tune from the title? If you need a refresher you can hear it here. That’s the dilemma I faced when I pulled the bread out to make a grilled cheese sandwich.

My cheese will melt through and stick to the pan. 😦 A light bulb moment, make a grilled cheese and tuna. The tuna can stop the cheese from escaping. I open a pouch of sweet and spicy tuna, squeeze as much of the liquid out, then realize the tuna won’t stay together. It will flake and fall through the hole.

With what can I fill the hole, dear Liza? Another light bulb moment, how does an avocado, tuna, grilled cheese sound? I can strategically place the avocado over the hole and it will prevent the tuna from falling and the cheese from melting through. Perfect!

I assemble this tasty treat on the griddle. I’m a little concerned when it comes time to flip the sandwich that all the insides will fall out. I set the stove temperature to a low medium heat and wait. I know that if I want the cheese to melt (and I do), I must heat the bread slowly.

First cheese, then avocado over the hole, followed by tuna, more cheese with carefully placed avocado.

I do a little edge check. The bottom is golden . . .  it is time to flip. Holding my breath, I use my widest spatula and my free hand to support the sandwich. Flip! Siz-z-z-z-le! A few tuna crumbs fall out, but they are tucked back in to be encased in melty cheese.

Once I take it off the stove, the sandwich must rest a minute. This gives the cheese time to firm up a little. If I cut it immediately, the cheese would ooze out onto my plate. Finally, the moment of truth, how does a grilled avocado, tuna, cheese sandwich taste? Let me answer that with one word, YUM!

There’s a hole in my bread dear Liza, but I fixed it with an avocado. And it was great!

Creativity Project Explored

This is what I was seeing on blogs, Instagram, Twitter:

Don’t these pictures make you curious? I could not imagine what this was all about. Slowly I gathered clues and tried to make sense of it all, but it didn’t make sense.  The word prompt kept appearing and I couldn’t quite wrap my mind around how creativity and prompt fit together.

I decided to wait until I knew more and placed my trust in Colby Sharp. I knew in my heart that Colby was not a teacher who gave a prompt and expected kids to write. I decided to wait and see, but I did pre-order this book.

Colby did several videos when he got the ARCs. He mentioned trying some of the prompts with his students. I was feeling a little hesitant, even though he said his students loved creating with the prompts.

I am not a fan of prompts. Prompts make me think there isn’t a choice in what to write or how to write. We are right back there being the turkey persuading you not to eat him. When I think back to my days of writing as a student, I don’t ever remember getting a choice in my writing. I remember wishing I could write the story from my pencil’s point of view. That was never an assignment and I only wrote to fulfill the assignments. I didn’t know I could just do it on my own.

The first page I read began with the heading WELCOME TO THE CREATIVITY PROJECT! Here he explained how the project worked. He challenged forty-four authors and illustrators to create a prompt that would get creative juices flowing. These prompts could take any form illustrations, photos, poems, anything that gets one thinking. Once he got the prompts, he sent them out to the authors and illustrators to create. This book contains the prompts (forty-four used and forty-four unused) and the creations from the prompts.

Now, I am understanding that these aren’t your everybody-writes-the-same-story kind of prompts. These are more like prompts for quick writes. I’ve been trying to understand quick writes. Penny Kittle, Kelly Gallagher, Linda Rief write about having their students do a lot of quick writes off a prompt. I spent an evening talking with Ruth Ayres about the difference between a prompt and a quick write prompt. She helped me clear the fog that had been clouding my brain on this topic. I wish I knew a different word for quick write prompts.

As I read some of the prompts, then the response, I noted that sometimes the responder didn’t truly follow the prompt, but they made it their own, which is what is asked of the writer in quick writes.

Gary Schmidt is one of the contributors. I have been a fan of his writing ever since I read Orbiting Jupiter. I was curious what he wrote for a prompt. He had a half page of a story started, then Linda Urban finished the  story, but she included an author’s note that I very much appreciated because she explained her thinking on this idea of prompts. These words made all the difference: “. . . I want all the readers and writers who are looking at this anthology to understand that prompts like these are for play. They are for exploring and trying things out and seeing what skills you might have and where you might want to grow.” A few sentences later she said, “The project isn’t called the Perfection Project or the Judgment Project or the Published Authors Can Do No Wrong Project. It is the Creativity Project. I stretched my creativity a little here, to try to finish a short story. I’m going to call that a success. Now, how about you?”

I can see using this book in many ways in the classroom. It can spark an idea. It can be examined comparing the prompt to the response. Perhaps the response could be read, can you figure out what the prompt said? I see mentor texts in these pages. I love the range of writing and illustrations. However, I wish the illustration pages were in color, but I guess that would make the book too expensive.

What a unique concept for a book! Well done Colby Sharp!

 

 

 

A Winner!

All day (March 13), I waited and waited for a new book to arrive. It wasn’t just new to me, it was new to the world. I wrote about it on March 14.

I also got an email newsletter on March 13 from Colby Sharp announcing his book to the world. The subject line was – Holy Smokes! I have a book in the world. What an awesome feeling that must have been to be able to create that subject line. At the bottom of the newsletter there was an announcement:

GIVEAWAY

I’m giving away a copy of The Creativity Project. Just reply to this email and tell me something about a teacher that had an impact on your life. I’ll draw one random winner, and ship them a brand spanking new copy of the book.

Even though I had a book coming, I replied to his email with the name of my French teacher from high school as a teacher who had an impact on my life. I sent the email because that’s what I do if someone offers a book. I had no expectations of winning.

On March 19, I saw another email with the same subject. That’s odd, I thought. I almost deleted it because I thought it was the original, but I didn’t delete it. I opened it and couldn’t believe my eyes when I read:

You won a copy of The Creativity Project. Just let me know where you’d like me to send it. 

Holy smokes, I won! Of course, I immediately sent him my address information. I’m so excited to have this book to gift to someone. Now I just have to decide who to give it too.