Saturday, March 17, 2018

Sunday Sights in Singapore

The National Gallery
Ahhh, art. If that is your art opinion, you will be well satisfied by the exhibits (both permanent and on loan) at Singapore's National Gallery. This fall we saw works by Japanese artist, Yayoi Kusama: Life is the Heart of a Rainbow. Awesome. Currently impressionists' words from the Musée d’Orsay Museum are on display. Two highlights from this exhibit include a collection of paintings showcasing how impressionists used shades of black and a collection of artist's tools and how technology of the time (paint tubes and the like) influenced the impressionists.

Madame Darras  by Renoir

Can you imagine?! Renoir's palette and paint box!

The Cloud Forest
Bring a jacket or a wrap when you venture to the Cloud Forest. When you walk in you feel the temperature difference immediately. Constantly cool, the Cloud Forest must measure temperatures in the high sixties, low seventies. Definitely chilly to folks who are acclimated to the eighties and nineties of the tropics. Cooler than the air are the flowers--and they are everywhere! Imagine a three story man-made mountain cloaked in greenery: that is the Cloud Forest. At every turn up the "mountain" we marveled at floral displays that brought art exhibits to mind.

Up on the walk way in the cloud forest.
Orchids on exhibit

Tree Top Walk
I enjoy a walk in the woods. The birdsong, the cricket chorus, the squish and rustle of mud and leaves, nature is restorative. We first did the Tree Top hike in July. Computer science teacher, Nick Kwan, organized a group of new teachers. He also took 360 degree photos and uploaded several to Google Maps. My husband is in the picture below.  Beware of the monkeys though. Don't smile at them (showing teeth is a form of aggression in the world of monkeys). Don't carry food, either. Monkeys chased us like trolls across the suspension bridge.

The sun was barely up when we arrived at the park this morning for the Terry Fox Run. If you do not know about the Canadian hero, Terry Fox, take a few minutes to be moved by his story.  It is a beautiful day for a run/walk at East Coast Park--bougainvilleas are in bloom  and the breeze coming in off the water--glorious. The park is much bigger than I first thought and along the pedestrian trail are camping sites,  restaurants and rental stations. I can't wait to go back with our roller blades and to rent paddle boards and explore. 

The Slice of Life Story Challenge is hosted by the team at Two Writing Teachers during the month of March and on Tuesdays throughout the year. Head over to share your own slice.

St. Patrick's Day Memory

Blogger doesn't have a re-blog option. This post from past was first published on the blog I kept for family. Happy St. Patrick's Day! 

Friday, March 16, 2018

Sort and Learn

“You might need to spread out on the floor,” I said.

They did.

They sort words into categories. Words that meant talkative and not talkative. Words that meant criticism and praise. Words for hidden or secretive. 

“Rail? Like the railroad?” 

“I don’t think so. Look it up.”

Yes! Talk and discovery and rehearsal and practice. We followed the sort with a word round up in students’ academic journals. Then we played a round of Kahoot. 

Come Monday we’ll review again with Quizlet Live.  Looking for some lists? See the links below.

Praise & Criticism words

Secret/hidden & Stubborn words

Talkative & Not talkative words

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Resource Time

Students filed into the room after school in pairs or alone. They walked in slinging  backpacks and lunch boxes and athletic bags and water jugs and musical instruments onto empty desks. A chorus of "Hey Spillanes" pulled me out of my end of the day reverie.

I wheel over to a students desk--it's the end of the day and jet lag is catching up with me, so I just stay in the chair and scoot, scoot with my feet. It makes me chuckle. Once I sidle up to the desk I say, "What are we working on today?"

And so it begins.

Thursday afternoons from 3-4:30  or so I stay late for kids who need to come in for additional support or to make up work or or who want to re-assess and give a task another try to show me their learning. I call it resource time after a practice my son experienced at his K-8 school. I appreciated that he had an opportunity to get extra help or have that time (if needed) with his teachers each day. When he was in middle school, every school day ended with twenty minutes or so of  resource time. His experience shaped my own practice.

I've been holding a weekly resource time for a several years now. At my former school,  during my final year there, the principal pushed for such an hour in each department. Then, Tuesdays were earmarked for English.  Other days of the week were tagged for math, science or social studies. School wide support can't be beat.

Resource time helped me refine my grading practices too. I've written about grades and grading and zeroes here and  late work policies here and grades and working time here. As a teacher, grades and grading policies have been an interest of mine for many, many years. I believe a grade should represent what students know and can do--not a behavior or an economic status. I believe a grade should represent the learning, not the average of attempts to learn.

Any grading program, it seems, is a limiting factor because each averages grades. Our PLC and school overcomes the averaging factor with policies. School-wide, we use letter grades, not points or percentages. We look for trends in performance and exclude early attempts to capture the most accurate and most recent achievement level(s). 

Sketchbook Exchange

Teacher artist, Becky Green, organizes a Sketchbook Exchange at school.  Essentially, you choose a theme for your own sketchbook, sketch out your first page to show the them and pass your book on.  We exchange books with group members about once a month and by year's end will have a collection of drawings from colleagues. I loved the idea, so I signed up straight away. Such an exchange is a first for me.

I love to sketch and to paint and to doodle. I've been playing with the ProCreate app to transform some of my word art pieces this year. The Sketchbook Exchange challenges my creative thinking in new ways -- one because there is suddenly, deep breath, an audience! And two because each person's theme is unique.

My theme is & yes. And seems an ongoing theme for me. Life says you get this & that AND that. Oh AND... like that old Coke commercial. This year  I've had some pretty spectacular "ands" in my life but I've also had some strange juxtapositions: celebrations and challenges side by side.  I started my own sketchbook with a Brian Andreas poem on the first page (a little overworked) and then an Irish prayer tucked in a pocket in the back.

From my sketchbook.
I wish I'd taken photos of each journal I've received (or each piece I created)  this year, but I wasn't consistent in documenting them.

The sketchbook that just got passed to me has an "I am..." theme. I don't want to give away the artwork, so I will just share a couple of stunning clips. These doodles and sketches, I must say, sure feed my creative soul.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Long Haul

I feel out of writing practice. My writing brain seems gauzy: wrapped in the fluff of funeral flowers and comfort meals  and handkerchiefs. Slice of life stories capture small moments-- think ALL the imagery. Build the moment, draw it out, say something with it: go!


I am not as good at the "textbook slice" piece as I might be writing just about teaching or instructional issues. I've been writing my way around that for a while now. But I think that is okay. We learn to write better by writing. We learn about ourselves as writers (and people and mothers and daughters and teachers and friends and aunties and wives) by writing. 


This morning the refrigerator is humming its electrical song. Wind chimes alternate between high twinkle and loud clang as a warm front begins to blow in. The sun is still sleeping and the lamps are dimmed to low-yellow light. 

I am thinking about: topics for writing, the header and layout of the blog, my Mom, lesson plans for this week at school, feedback and grading that will need doing, my dog curled at my feet-- are we all packed? I am thinking about what food we left in the apartment, cab logistics after midnight, Mom's health, air conditioning, writing,  the weather and wind,  Kelly Gallagher's topics chart, ordering groceries to arrive in Singapore when we do, Mom,  the snow forecast for Detroit, sleep strategies for the flight,   my nieces and their swimming results, Mom, the Delta Sky Club in Japan, connecting with cousins, roller skating and the baby goats we missed this trip, Mom, parallel structure,  making bread, putting on a  pizza feast. Mom. So many thoughts winging through  this morning. Maybe next time, I will settle into focus on one of them.

We lose time on our return to Singapore. Though we leave on a Monday morning, we won't arrive until Wednesday after midnight (Singapore time). There is a kindness in the long journey. It blurs the edges of events. Our travel time is usually twenty-five hours, give or take depending on delays. It is not as bad as it sounds--you get used to it. Today's flight will be our seventh since July. 

Our bags are packed and we're ready to go. We'll time travel today en route to South East Asia. I know to the day when we will be back in June.  

The team at Two Writing Teachers hosts Slice of Life Story Challenge every day in March and on
Tuesdays throughout the year. Swing by the link up slice to serve yourself up seconds or join us! 

Monday, March 12, 2018

Testing to Evaluate

The team at Two Writing Teachers hosts Slice of Life Story Challenge every day in March and on
Tuesdays throughout the year. Swing by the link up slice to serve yourself up seconds or join us! 

Testing season has just begun in the state of Florida. At Singapore American School (SAS) there is no such season--well, except when the advanced placements tests begin. In Singapore students take a yearly assessment, but it is used as almost a clinical check to make sure kids academic health is sound. Like a blood test, a CBC, the doctor scans the results to make sure there aren't any numbers far out of normal ranges. At SAS teachers are not judged by test scores--my public school self still wonders how that can be true.

 In Florida, at state, district and local levels teachers are evaluated in terms of their instructional practice and their students' test scores. Test scores influence curricular and  programatic decisions.  As a former "Race to the Top" state, Florida uses a "Value Added Model," a complex equation that tracks students' test scores by teacher over time. Many researchers note the model's limits. My last five years teaching in Florida administrators evaluated my practice using this "new" model.

Each category in the evaluation model, instructional practice and test scores,  makes up fifty percent of a final composite score for the year. The scores, once compiled,  label a teacher as highly effective, effective, needs improvement and unsatisfactory. The math to compile the scores is interesting. Luckily, someone once shared a spreadsheet template that automatically calculates scores. Of course, I've wasted all sorts of instructional planning and assessing time plugging numbers into the spreadsheet to see what sort of "grade" I could get. Teachers, like kids, will game any grading system used in order to learn (and conquer) it.

I hate that this model reduces teacher performance to number, a number that is cloaked in the mystery of equations and weights. Yet,  I love the complexity of the model.

It is complicated much like teaching. Teaching is complex, as is any model that tries to capture the  nuances, the instructional moves, the many decisions of a master teacher.

Florida adopted "the Marzano Model" from Learning Sciences International. It examines teacher performance across four domains and sixty individual elements. It is a living model that has changed over time. It is also a model that changes as teachers and administrators' understandings of it changed. Implementation varies district to district, school to school, administrator to administrator.

 I hate that variability. I dislike inconsistency of implementation. But I love learning about and reflecting on teaching by digging in to some of the model's elements.

Somewhere, behind the scenes, practices shift, language changes.

The language on the model's map shifts too. In 2014 they are labeled DQ1 thru DQ9 and written as headings and the "I do" language of the questions has been shifted from the question to each element.

It's interesting, the language shifts, but difficult to keep current. And really, how important is it? How much time should a teacher invest in learning the model's map? Staying up on the lingo is much less important to me than learning about my students, learning about teaching or learning what is working and not working, so that I can try and tweak and fix before this group, this year is gone.

There is value in the model, no doubt. It reminds me that there are sequences I need to pay attention to as I plan instruction. It reminds me that I must develop a community and establish routines in my classroom --such systems make the classroom run smoothly and give learners security and predictability and that enables learners to focus their attention on the content. The model reminds me that kids need processing time and time to take notes or create visual representations of learning. The model serves as a reminder to me. I minored in education and went back to graduate school to study curriculum and instruction. The elements are familiar education concepts to me, but they aren't familiar to everyone. There are many paths to becoming a teacher and even though teacher preparation programs aim to prepare teachers, we know that learner to be a better teacher never ends.

So I love that the model pushes me to keep learning. I love that it helps me coach teachers new to my department.  I have written about it's use as a practical learning tool before, but as you can see, we have a love/hate relationship.

No doubt teachers in Florida have final evaluative observations approaching. If you are one of those teachers or you'd like to read more about how you can demonstrate your teaching strengths, check out Take Charge of Your Teaching Evaluation by my friend Jennifer Ansbach.

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Sunday Sights

I have a running list in my mind of sights and sounds of Singapore I want to see. My son and I usually reserve after-church time on Sundays for such outings. Since I've been home this week for Dad's memorial service, I've thought a lot about our favorite Florida places--the sea, especially, calls.  Here are six Sunday sights.

Blue sky, golden beach grass, big sea grape leaves draped over dunes and ocean— waves and waves of it with not a high rise in sight. This is our “local” beach. There are pit toilets in the parking lots and boardwalks up over the dunes to the beach— we love how unspoiled (some would say primitive) it is. Bring your own water for drinking and washing up at day’s end.

Just down the way in Merrit Island is the Haulover canal which connects Mosquito Lagoon and the Indian River. My husband loves this spot. It often affords views of manatee (in February) or alligator (especially in March). Drive by to get a gander at the bridge or pull the car over and step out to walk up and  see what the fishermen are catching.

Gator getting into the river.

In east Orlando, when heading east on highway 50 you cross the St Johns river— the longest river in Florida. At this intersection with the highway, there are airboat rides and there is a fish camp and a boat ramp and often cows out grazing the river flats. The flats run dusty gold toward the horizon this time of year with just a few palms sitting the landscape. My eyes love that vista. Put a boat in there or rent one and see alligator and water birds. My son got this great gator shot when he and my husband were out on the river in the canoe this week.

Am old favorite in Winter Park, Leu Gardens boasts a gorgeous garden and special events like Jazz under the stars or the upcoming Boots & Blues concert. For an evening event, put together a picnic— fancy or simple— bring a blanket and chairs and hang out on the great lawn for a concert. Definitely a good time.

The blooms are bursting late February and early March at Azalea Gardens. This was my go-to picnic spot in high school and college— it’s a large garden with several private azalea framed alcoves. Plus it’s on a lake and has a cool sort of crumbly columned stone structure that is great in photographs.

In the summer, if we are outside, we are likely in water. We’re at the beach or floating in the springs. The springs maintain consistently cool water temperatures all year, so they are safe swimming holes in the heat of summer. At Rock Springs you can jump into the “run” at the spring head  and float with current down to the swimming hole. Sift through the sand of the spring for shark’s teeth or snorkel the edges to spot fish and water creatures. On the weekends, you’ve got to get there early because the park fills up and rangers close the gate. The best is a mid-week visit when the spring is not as crowded or for the truly brave, camp there and enjoy early- access to the water before the park opens.

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Learning to Retain

I love to learn. It must be one of the reasons I do what I do. I get to learn new things every day at school. One joy I have found in my transition from teaching in a public school in Florida to an international school in Singapore is professional learning.

When new faculty arrive in Singapore there is a two-week settling in program. One week is all about living arrangements: housing, banking, utilities and the like. The second week is an introduction to the school. During that time, we met key administrators and familiarized ourselves with each division (early learning, elementary, middle and high school divisions). We also heard quite a bit from our superintendent.When our superintendent said that one retention strategy for talent at Singapore American School is professional development, I must say my insides did their happy dance.

I am that nerdy teacher. Here's just a quick list of opportunities we've had this year--these are just those sessions offered by the Office of Learning and not our stand-out learning in small groups we do weekly and monthly.

In September,  Jackson Kaguri spoke on campus and then one weekend,  Solution Tree put on a PLC at Work institute for international teachers.  Trevor Mackenzie came to work with teachers on inquiry. In October we had the opportunity to work with cross-discipline teams on inquiry projects with a facilitator from the Buck Institute.

At the Buck Institute session, I remember the facilitator talking about driving questions for inquiry. She repeated "driving question," "driving question." At one point a teacher raised a hand and said, "Could you clarify these questions and put them in a bit more context. How do these driving questions compare to the questions we create with Understanding by Design or to Sizer's essential questions?"

A teacher asked that clarifying question during a learning session held on a weekend. Pure learning gold-- I'd found my people.

The opportunities continued with poets and teaching artists,  Sara Holbrook and Michael Salinger were on campus working with teachers and student poets at the end of October and writers, Elliot Schrefer and Patricia McCormick. In early November, we had an opportunity to do workshop with Holly Clark and  Sylvia Duckworth (on sketchnoting) prior to a Google Summit! A couple of weeks ago Rosetta Lee spoke on diversity and talking to teens about difficult topics.

These are just additional opportunities --these are the fancy learning picnics we take on special days or for long afternoons. This list doesn't count independent learning or the daily and weekly sustenance of PLCs or administrator led learning--both rich in dialogue and discovery. I love being surrounded by learners and opportunities to learn.

Friday, March 9, 2018

Slice #9: Drafting Writing

I love writing early in the morning. The house hums with only electric sounds and the pre-dawn darkness softens every surface. My dog curls up next to me. I could sit for a few hours and just draft writing -- let ideas wander around and take shape. Chase rabbits. Think.

This morning I'm sitting on a chaise lounge in the family room. The back yard is bathed in yellow-hued light. The sky is coming in crisp and blue with the barest wisp of white cirrus cloud. The boys--husband, son and uncle--are still asleep. I hear the hum of the refrigerator and warm clicks from the coffee pot. What to write today?

I log in to Blogger and take a peek in the blog's back door. Thirty-one drafts? Wow.

View in the blog's back door: 407 published posts and 31 drafts
It's the shadow side of some of my strengths shining here. Singapore American School uses Gallup's Strength Finders tools with faculty. It's an interesting assessment. Administrators and leaders use the strengths to frame conversations and to guide team creation too. My top five strengths are summed up in the image below-- though these are a few of my strengths, they also have a shadow side. One being that I like to chase rabbits. I like to think and explore and learn and draft (writing or art) and sometimes I can get caught up  in the creating and exploring and so concerned about the finishing. 

Still, the blog is ten years old this year.

Thirty-one drafts spanning 2008 to last week doesn't seem like too much left undone.

It's been a long time since I've asked kids to talk about or write about their own writing processes. Looking back at drafts and looking forward toward new ideas always energizes me to learn more.

Folks are starting to wake up at my house now. The sound of the shower is a sure sign. I swapped the laundry from last night and the comforting click and whir of clothes in the dryer plays counter point to the coffee pot. I love writing in the morning and remembering and thinking in the still quiet of a sleeping house.

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Where’s the Beef?

“Earthy tones. Hint of leather. If you like the texture of a tire..”

My brother cracks me up. 

“Which one is that?” my Mom asks. 

“It’s technically number four but we are discontinuing number three because it’s Turkey.” John says. “If you like leather, go for that one.”

Oh my. We took Mom out to walk along Park Avenue today and we ran a couple of errands: post office, drug store, gas station. At the drug store, I saw a bag of Krave beef jerky at the checkout counter and asked John if he’d ever had it. “The Chili Lime flavor is fantastic,” I said. “But this is black cherry.” The clerk quickly pointed out the wall of jerky and that was all we needed to hatch a pre-dinner plan: a beef jerky taste test.

We gathered around the kitchen table — and Rick, my husband, and John got the side-by-side comparison set up. It was challenging to capture the conversation while laughing. 

“If you missed power bars from the 1980s then this is the jerky for you”

“My tongue still burns from it!” Mom says.

“Then have a cracker and cheese chaser!” my brother replies. 

Life (and and laughter) is good.

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Poetry Helps

What poems do you still remember? What lines speak to the secret spaces in your heart? When I think about my answers to those questions, my mind wanders to the poets I Iove. Poets who write for children. Poets who write for adults. Poets who write for nature or the world or who write of grace and the color of light coming in a winter window. When I think about what poems I still remember, I think about what the poems connect me to in terms of feeling or mood or moment that they explore.

Poetry speaks.

It's tough to choose a favorite, but it's easy to choose a poem to share. I learned this week that my Dad had a favorite poem, "Little Boy Blue" by Eugene Field. Mom said he wanted it read at his memorial reception. She thinks he liked it because he memorized it in grade school . Through his adult life it was something he could recall and recite. I will bring it printed this afternoon, but I am not the one to read this poem for him.

Sometimes we use poetry to remember our best or most innocent selves. Perhaps that what Dad did with "Little Boy Blue." My feelings today, about living in a world without him are layered and nuanced. I have not found a poem that speaks to all of the fathers I had in the one man who raised and loved me, but I've found him in some poets-- Gregory Orr or  Sharon Olds and Chris Forhan or Dylan Thomas. There is such complexity in fatherhood and fathers and feelings. Still, what love I have for mine.

Poetry strengthens.

Sometimes we use poetry to strengthen ourselves. I did that with "Invictus" by William Henley when I struggled as a teenager. That poem gave me strength to see the hard times through. The Unibomber and my own faith changed that poem for me because I eventually grew up and  realized, "I [really] am not the master of my fate" or "the captain of my soul." Thank God for that! And I did that with "Tula [Books are door shaped]" by Margarita Engle too--that  poem reminds my teacher self about the importance of nurturing readers and thinkers and not letting the twin monsters of testing and grades swallow children whole.

Poetry informs.

Sometimes we use poetry to show us what is happening in the world. Martin Espada's "Letter to My Father" does that brilliantly. His images make me want to cheer on his father, back from the grave to snatch those paper towels out of a man's hand. Sara Holbrook and Michael Salinger are my go-to for teaching kids how to use poetry to see the world.

Poetry gives.

Sometimes poetry is a gift to give.  I send a poem to a friend as a pick me up like a pressed flower made of words.  A friend of mine used to give people poems on their birthdays. She and her teaching partner would gift their students with special birthday poems (illustrated, printed on nice paper). They would read the poems to the birthday student in class. Nancy said it got to the point that if a student had to be absent on the day he or she knew they'd be getting the birthday poem, the student's parents would often call or email to insure that the birthday poem wouldn't be missed. I love everything about that community ritual and I don't even know what it sounds like. But it must be yellow and gold and clear and blue, like perfect skies on a crisp day--fresh with innocence and love.

Poem in Your Pocket day is April 26th this year. I think I will ask my students how they would like to celebrate it. We can certainly make and print poems to share with one another. Perhaps they'd like to do more though--share poems with our staff or their other teachers? Perhaps they'd like to connect with another class. Would you?

Many thanks to the writing team at Two Writing Teachers for
hosting the annual Slice of Life Story Challenge!

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

The Story of the Irish Banshee

The annual Slice of Life Story Challenge is sponsored by the team at Two Writing Teachers. Join us
and write your slice. Link up every day in March and on Tuesdays throughout the school year. 

My father was the first in his family born in the United States. A few years ago, we were sharing stories from Boston and NCTE. 

I started with snow flurries and the amazing Sunday wind that made our hotel room shriek because the seal was so tight. 

That story triggered Dad's memory--my memory of that window seal shrieking--suddenly he was telling us about the Irish Banshee, a spirit known to shriek and wail at a loved one's death. I imagined a moor--lots of peat and heather, clumps of clover all looking deep gray nearly midnight blue at sunset. Because of course that is when a Banshee would shriek. 

Having activated our background knowledge (and curiosity) he connected to Banshee to our warrior grandfather.  

He told us a story about his father's fight in Fermoy, an area near the Cork countryside.

Dad and Aunt Bea (his mother's sister) in Donegal Ireland, 1980.

In Dublin, late 1990s.

My grandfather fought in the Irish Republican Army. He was a guerrilla in 1916.  He was traveling by foot across the countryside with his band of men when they heard a story about a woman who had passed away sitting up in a chair.

"Do you know what rigor mortis is?"my Dad asks my son.

"You know when a body stiffens after death," I clarify as Collin nods his head, eyes widening at the image of a person who died sitting up.

Well, my grandfather and his men had run out of food. Maybe it had only been a day or two, but they were hungry when they heard the sounds of a wake float across the field. They knew that the mourners would be well stocked with food and drink.

So, they made their way to the house. One man snuck into a window. He found the deceased laid out for viewing. The body was tied tightly to a bed to hold it in place (or straighten it out). This man crawled under the bed with a knife.  Another man in the squad started shrieking and soon a few fellows joined in the strange call. 

The mourners started to gather near the bed just as the terrible sounds started outside. Then suddenly, the deceased sprung up into a sitting position (the man hidded under the bed had cut the cords holding the deceased down).

As the story goes, the mourners ran screaming from the house. Once the house was confirmed clear, Grandpa and his squad moved in and ate a good meal. 

 That is only one of two Irish war stories he  ever told.You should have seen my son's eyes at this story and heard my Dad's laugh. My Dad was quite a prankster--perhaps it came by that trait honestly. 

Tomorrow we will hold our own version of a wake. He won't be on display for a viewing. It won't be a traditional Irish affair. But we will have a small feast and take comfort in a band of friends and an army of family. Dad had an adventurous eighty-three years on this side of the curtain: a wonderful life. 

Monday, March 5, 2018

Photo Memories

Oh my... after a day of sorting out closets and donating clothes and checking senior apartments (planting seeds for Mom) and shredding pay slips from 1992 and clearing off shelves and drawers and cabinets and double checking that we got all the bullets and guns (all gone), we sit with boxes of pictures and letters and remember and tell stories.

Today were stories of highs and lows— people are complex and complicated and opinionated after all. Still, suck luck and love in our family lives. Today’s cache include: graduation, the jumper mom made me, my first  cousin, Krystal and I making funny baby faces (we must have been saying something in our secret baby language) and entire series of my brother we tagged as #heygirl. 

This is the good part of remembering. 

Sunday, March 4, 2018

Paper or Plastic

"Paper or plastic?"

In a grocery store, I would answer paper, or pull out my own reusable shopping bags. In a book store, the answer depends on how quickly I have to get my hands on the book.I have a friend who says she's read just one "plastic" book --her moniker for all digital texts--but I love reading e-books even more so now that I've discovered how to borrow them from the library.

Now, I read on my iPad and my cell phone.  I read on a laptop or a desktop or on paper in the car or sitting on the train.  I buy e-books and I also  downloaded them my local library for a trip. I prefer to read a print book just before bed, but that doesn't mean I don't have several e-books going in addition. I'm that sort of read-around reader sometimes. Are you?

Z is. She is a ninth grader who loves a good story. I've been feeding her books since fall. Her first run through an author's work was in September when she discovered Sonya Sones.

She's read so much this year, book after book. She is breathing stories in. So a couple of weeks ago she came to me looking for book recommendations. I talked up The Winner's Curse by Marie Rutkoski: powerful central character, plenty of plot twist, medieval meets dystopian feel. I figured she would love it. She took it straight away. 

Z ran into the room before school started the next morning.  Holding the book out to me, she said, "I did mean to finish it! It was just so good!"


Saturday, March 3, 2018

Oh the Memories

Oh yeah. Today was one of those days: laughter, tears and funny faces. This shot circa 1975 was poolside at the Langford hotel in Winter Park. My Dad was a hobbyist photographer and a saver (the nice word for pack rat). My brother, John, and I have been going thru Dad’s den. 

Let me tell you, we have found some gems. 

There is my brother with his B.B. gun wearing some sort of giraffe camo? He puts the special on special forces. 

And memories of Christmas with cousins — dinner at Aunt Suzanne’s in Ocala with the Wagner side.

And Dad and Auntie Gayla laughing together.

And so many pictures of me and John— 

Dad used to set up a tripod and take pictures of us. Hours of photos—I think this one was the onset of my photo allergy— just before the hives started making me itch. 

Oh what a wonderful life he had.