Tag Archives: slicing

Craffunchity sounds in my mind

I may have been teaching reading intervention too long.  I articulate sounds and words to the nth degree.  I notice this afternoon and evening that there are these phonemes, half-word and half phrases of


clunking around in my thoughts.  Like the very act of thinking was squeezing sounds out of my synapses.  Strange.

I grilled mahi-mahi, another musical word arrangement, and Mom and I made fish tacos.  Then I began my first internet lesson in what will probably become a dissertation on the walk-in bathtub.

Just reading the consumer reviews and rafts of 3D measurements wigged me out, but I only persisted awhile since it is my first class.  And, after an hour I found the one I like.  Guessing it is the most expensive, but at least it doesn’t look bad.

Some of the contraptions are unimaginably functional and that means ugly.  In my dressing room, with it’s ash floors, plaster walls and three wood windows looking out on the backyard, many of the models would look as if an alien fleet left behind their icecream maker, or look as if a Home Depot display of various bathing options had melted into one unit.  Or that in the year 2060 people will actually be kept in plastic modules, only to be released for certain periods of physical activity and required face time at jobs.

Well, yippee.  Good timing to get a tax refund.

But this brain thing.  This sounds turned loose, playing around with words, or more with the feeling right before words.  Interesting.  Maybe I should write some really bad poetry?


Tweet Memoir

Maybe I write because I watch. I’m an observer who frames scenes, a mental photographer, would-be painter. Art takes time. I work day gig, so flash memoir appeals to me.

The longer version of Why I Write:

What I observe about my writing is that my process involves amassing thoughts and many scribbled pages on a subject that is pressing on my attention. If I am to write, I have to produce a great deal of what Don Murray so charitably calls, “discovery drafting” before I can get a clue about even the form, let alone clarity of purpose.

So, revision is, for me, one big gruesome butchering, a slaughter. In a more vegan mode, I simply disregard everything I’ve written and get a new, organic piece of recycled paper and write off the topic, trusting that the background I need was provided in the carcass of the first draft. And then further “revision” is simply constrained by the deadline.

I write because I have to and I don’t know where to get a sponsor. I write because I have this nagging sense that I have something to say.

I write in absolute fear of rejection. It is exhilarating to learn that something I’ve written, “spoke” to someone else’s experience. And really, in profound respect for Don Murray, how else will I find out what I really think?


After School

There were many moments from Monday’s workday, but none calling “pick me! pick me” to write.  I think the moment today was arriving home, after teaching ELD writing group after school, and taking myself in to change into play clothes.

Then, smoothly, without distraction, I took myself out on the downtown neighborhood sidewalks to learn how to walk daily again.  With so many weeks of flu, I had lost the habit of going out for my walk.

As I headed around the corner, in comfy sweat pants and hoodie sweatshirt,  a bit of breeze stirred.  We’re working on that chance of rain tonight and the weather change felt good.  I felt so free to not be handling any household items or follow up on work.  Just walking.

Air.  Good to be out moving in it and breathing.  Walking.  Natural exercise.

I decided to check in with Karen on 14th as we often walk together and I haven’t seen her in a long while.  She was exhausted and grading one final paper, so was glad to be pulled out for a slow, small walk.  Which is what I was up for, just getting back into it.

We routed our walk by our friend Anna’s house to check out the new paint job.  It is a two story farm Victorian Craftsmam style which now is sporting a red onion paint with cream color window trim.  Very nice.  And, as a treat, Anna was coming home on her bicycle, dressed to match her house colors perfectly.

So a tromp around part of the hood felt very good.  And Karen and I caught up on news.  I saw irises that have bloomed and critiqued front yards.

When I arrived home I was ready for banter with my mom and to make the bok choy beef stirfry we planned.  I’m grateful to have the energy back to ramp up to my normal fitness level.  Bedrest sure takes it outta ya.

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Paying More Attention

The quiet that is finally seeping in

The grace to enjoy the moment

Time to sit still and think about things

Time to think through things.

To dream up creative ways to spend my time

I want more of my free time in creative mode.

I really want to be more like my cat: look how he lies out in the yard, watching everything.

When I have a camera in hand my brain tunes to “observe.”

I need to be more observant to write.

I want to notice more.

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Early this morning I called Kaiser’s advice line to discuss Doing Something about my returned sore throat, cough, ear ache and lackluster energy.

The woman on the line quickly assessed my medications for allergies and asked if I am asthmatic.  I told her my pitiful recent history of having the infamous flu cough for the month of February, missing two days of school for a 4 day stint in bed, and staying abed the next weekend and all of my free evening hours.  I was describing a ground hog, not my life.

“Uh huh, uh huh,” she sympathized along.

“And then, after being well for exactly one week, Friday night my throat goes into a flaming infection and the energy drains out of me again.”

More interesting to the nurse was probing for symptoms of developing pneumonia.  I could see I was going to be diagnosed as another flu case with the usual hydrate, rest and take cold meds solution.  I slouched down with the phone to my ear, no longer having the energy to resist her assessment.  My last ditch plea for medical relief was to ask why I would be sick again so soon?  She said it was simply that I came down with the flu again.

“It’s because you work with children,” she concluded as I mumbled my thanks and rang off.

I am not very good at resting or doing nothing, but I’ve been pretty good today.  I sat up awhile and finished reading

IMG_2594 Choice Words: How Our Language Affects Children’s Learning by Peter H. Johnston.  This is by far the best read on literacy and teaching in awhile, and I pink-highlighted points with especially my morning group of 4/5th graders in Leveled Literacy in mind.  I have been working to have them lead discussions and modeling how to affirm someone else’s thinking.

From my experience with reading and writing workshop, I have the gist and the philosophy that Peter Johnston carefully documents from classroom observation.  What was richer for me was the research he wove into his narrative. Here’s a symtom some intervention students suffer. [pg.82]

Children who focus on getting praise or on not looking foolish
have a much harder time becoming literate than children who focus on engagement
in learning activities.  [Niemi and Poskiparta 2003]

Chapter 4 in it’s entirety is a wonderful exposition of agency.  Some teachers are very good at building a sense of agency in children…the power of narratives is in there, too.  Help children tell agentive stories about their performance.

I got the best advice today from Peter Johnston’s book.  And, yes, dear Kaiser nurse, it’s because I work with children.


Ewww! Another acronym?  Not an educational one, pleeze!

No, it’s just short for “what I really want” which is a writing exercise a girl friend and I re-invented last week.  I send a calendar notice early Wednesday morning to us, saying “Welcome to our six-week WIRW.  Today, write for 10 minutes to the prompt, “What I really want.”  Save your response.

This is week two.  We email or text each other.  K. wrote, “I am so new at our writing.  I don’t have a pattern yet.  I just know that I am surprised that I really like it.”

“I started out with very simple statements and by the end I was doing paragraphs and the last one gave me clarity on an issue that had been bugging me.”

Our plan is to get together after the 6 weeks and share what we discovered.

I do my free write on keyboard, with my phone timer, then save and close the doc, without re-reading it.  Interesting to notice that I really get to the point at about the 9.5 minute mark, then scramble to write that.  But now, just thinking about this little practice, I am growing curious to know what I wrote so far.

This writing exercise came out of a conversation we were having about how, in our point on the great number line of human life, people often start asking themselves, “What do I have to look forward to?”  Not a good question, really.  A better question, especially for someone who has spent a lifetime pleasing others, is to ask, “What do I really want?”


Toad and Me

“Our theories are really disguised autobiographies, often rooted in childhood.” The first sentence of Thomas Newkirk’s book, Minds Made for Stories. IMG_0009 IMG_0010The sticky notes are from the story The Garden in the children’s book, Frog and Toad Are Friends, which I was using as one of my texts today in a presentation teachers of 2nd and 3rd grade.  We were pushing ourselves to get more opinions from a book.  And as I voiced over, or “wrote in the air” my theory about who Toad really is, I had to laugh.  He reminds me so much of me.  And perhaps, each of those teachers who had brought a book with a favorite character found something of themselves as we made notes and did down drafts for our opinion letters.

I am, like Toad, always in a hurry for things to happen.  I want a whatever now.  You could say he is impatient, but I think that’s not quite it.  Over-eager?  Naive?  When he learns from Frog that his seeds are likely too scared to grow, from Toad’s loud voice telling them to “Grow NOW!” the OCD amount of care a sleepless Toad lavishes on the dormant seeds is extraordinary.

He sings to them, reads stories to them, poems even.

My side comment in the presentation this morning made me remember how when I was four I wanted to be an adult.  I asked if children were people, too?  I wanted high heels. I resented any baby talk, and corrected my mother’s grammar if she tried it.  I was in a big hurry to not be a child.

I see that over eagerness in me to expect instant progress from my students sometimes.

The point being, it’s all story, isn’t it? And now, having presented with 68 teachers, taught my LLI afternoon groups, launched the after school ELD writing class and written two grant reports for the leadership team, I’m just like Toad at the end.  The seeds sprout.  (I know, spoiler)  And Toad has to agree that gardening is very hard work indeed.  So is being a teacher leader.


Where I’m From

I’m from the rain we finally got, Come on, Rain! has vanished overnight

I’m from heat your nan in the toaster

while sunrise shafts light up old plaster.

I’m from the theory of I’d love to write and Mr. Early Grey sustains me

I’m from weekend tax appointment get your grant report done and oh yeah,

You have a demo for 60 perfect stranger teachers first thing Monday.

I’m from take a breath

Eat spaghetti with Mom

Watch one, only one episode of Gilmore Girls

Sipping one, only one teensy glass of pinot noir.

I’m from a sleepy neighborhood where I went out to a bare driveway for the Sunday paper

And watched the battered old car spin in the intersection

Swoop around and fling the red plastic sack of news at my feet.

Utterly amazing.

I’m from a desk piled with opinion writing clutter

My head is packed with unwritten parts of the presentation.

I have roots that need to be dyed over today

and yet.  The sun makes birds begin to twitter.

The wet windows are bright with promise.

I’m from get another cup of tea.

Window fan