April 30, 2009

Great Books of Poetry

Pick one of these up at the library or your local bookstore. Read. Read. Read. Better yet, memorize one (Story from the NYT).

The End of Poetry Month

The End
A. A. Milne

When I was One,
I had just begun.

When I was Two,
I was nearly new.

When I was Three,
I was hardly Me.

When I was Four,
I was not much more.

When I was Five,
I was just alive.

But now I am six, I'm as clever as clever.
So I think I'll be six now for ever and ever.

April 29, 2009

Sorry, old man

but I don't believe you.

Sen. Specter, I just don't believe you when you say the Republican party is too far gone to the right for you.

What I do believe is that you are an old man who is unwilling to let go of a lucrative Senate seat. You are afraid of losing.

Did you ever think of working from the inside to change things? of standing up as a voice of reason instead of abandoning your party?

Is there no loyalty left?

I am a moderate, but I am still a Republican.

I am personally pro-life, but I vote pro-choice. And I am still a Republican.

I think it would be just fine for the two men down the street who have been together longer than my husband and I to get married. And I am still a Republican.

Sorry, old man but I don't believe you.

Word of the Week

per⋅spi⋅ca⋅cious [pur-spi-key-shuh s]

1. having keen mental perception and understanding; discerning: to exhibit perspicacious judgment.
2. Archaic. having keen vision.
1610–20; perspicaci(ty) + -ous

Related forms:
per⋅spi⋅ca⋅cious⋅ly, adverb
per⋅spi⋅ca⋅cious⋅ness, noun

1. perceptive, acute, shrewd, penetrating.

1. dull, stupid.

perspicacious. Dictionary.com. Dictionary.com Unabridged (v 1.1). Random House, Inc. http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/perspicacious

Poetry can be Fun

There was a wonderful story on yesterday's Morning Edition (NPR) that I encourage you to listen to.  In honor of National Poetry Month, Renee Montagne interviewed Kathy Jo Shapiro who has come up with another way to make poetry fun for kids.  She takes famous poems and parodies them by rewriting them for kids.  

All of us were laughing at Ms. Shapiro's take on Poe's Annabelle Lee ... turning it into Macaroni and Cheese.  The boys have heard Annabel Lee and liked it. They loved Macaroni and Cheese.  They asked if I would please, please buy the book.  Well, it will soon be an addition to our library ... if my boys beg me for a poetry book, you can bet I will get it for them.  

My Letter from the World
Kathy Jo Shapiro
With apologies to Emily Dickinson
("This is My Letter to the World")

This is my letter from the world
That once it wrote to me:
"Dear Friend," it spelled, in purple buds
Upon a lilac tree.

"Come look around." the letter said
on mountains topped by snow.
“For if you search for a hundred years
There’d still be more to know.

“Please play with me,” it wrote in waves
Beneath a bright blue sky,
Then signed itself, “Sincerely, World,”
Upon a butterfly.

Here is the original.

This is My Letter to the World
Emily Dickinson

This is my letter to the world,
That never wrote to me,
The simple news that Nature told,
With tender majesty.

Her message is committed
To hands I cannot see;
For love of her, sweet countrymen,
Judge tenderly of me!

April 25, 2009

I Got Carried Away

Have I mentioned how much I love the Texas Bluebonnet Book program? Oh yes, here and here. I think last year's books were better than this year's choices, and one of the standouts was This is Just to Say. My favorite poem from the book follows:

to Kyle
I Got Carried Away


Kyle, I'm sorry
for hitting you so hard in dodge ball.
I really just get carried away
in situations like that.
Kids screaming and ducking,
Coach bellowing,
all those red rubber balls
thumping like heartbeats
against the walls and ceiling,
blinking back and forth
like stop lights
(that really mean




I even got
carried away
in this poem.

April 23, 2009

Happy Birthday Will

April 23, 1564
William Shakespeare born

According to tradition, the great English dramatist and poet William Shakespeare is born in Stratford-on-Avon on April 23, 1564. It is impossible to be certain the exact day on which he was born, but church records show that he was baptized on April 26, and three days was a customary amount of time to wait before baptizing a newborn. Shakespeare's date of death is conclusively known, however: it was April 23, 1616. He was 52 years old and had retired to Stratford three years before.

But did he really write those plays and sonnets? A Supreme Court Justice has his doubts.

From Saturday's Wall Street Journal:

Justice Stevens Renders an Opinion on Who Wrote Shakespeare's Plays
It Wasn't the Bard of Avon, He Says; 'Evidence Is Beyond a Reasonable Doubt'

The Atlantic has a take on this as well:

The Case For Oxford

April 22, 2009

Word of the Week

hu⋅mor [hyoo-mer or, often, yoo-]

1. a comic, absurd, or incongruous quality causing amusement: the humor of a situation.
2. the faculty of perceiving what is amusing or comical: He is completely without humor.
3. an instance of being or attempting to be comical or amusing; something humorous: The humor in his joke eluded the audience.
4. the faculty of expressing the amusing or comical: The author's humor came across better in the book than in the movie.
5. comical writing or talk in general; comical books, skits, plays, etc.
6. humors, peculiar features; oddities; quirks: humors of life.
7. mental disposition or temperament.
8. a temporary mood or frame of mind: The boss is in a bad humor today.
9. a capricious or freakish inclination; whim or caprice; odd trait.
10. (in medieval physiology) one of the four elemental fluids of the body, blood, phlegm, black bile, and yellow bile, regarded as determining, by their relative proportions, a person's physical and mental constitution.
11. any animal or plant fluid, whether natural or morbid, as the blood or lymph.

–verb (used with object)
12. to comply with the humor or mood of in order to soothe or make content or more agreeable: to humor a child.
13. to adapt or accommodate oneself to.

14. out of humor, displeased; dissatisfied; cross: The chef is feeling out of humor again and will have to be treated carefully.

Also, especially British, humour.

1300–50; ME (h)umour < style="font-style:italic;">Related forms:
hu⋅mor⋅ful, adjective
hu⋅mor⋅less, adjective
hu⋅mor⋅less⋅ly, adverb
hu⋅mor⋅less⋅ness, noun

4. Humor, wit refer to an ability to perceive and express a sense of the clever or amusing. Humor consists principally in the recognition and expression of incongruities or peculiarities present in a situation or character. It is frequently used to illustrate some fundamental absurdity in human nature or conduct, and is generally thought of as more kindly than wit: a genial and mellow type of humor; his biting wit. Wit is a purely intellectual manifestation of cleverness and quickness of apprehension in discovering analogies between things really unlike, and expressing them in brief, diverting, and often sharp observations or remarks. 9. fancy, vagary. 12. Humor, gratify, indulge imply attempting to satisfy the wishes or whims of (oneself or others). To humor is to comply with a mood, fancy, or caprice, as in order to satisfy, soothe, or manage: to humor an invalid. To gratify is to please by satisfying the likings or desires: to gratify someone by praising him. Indulge suggests a yielding to wishes that perhaps should not be given in to: to indulge an unreasonable demand; to indulge an irresponsible son.

12. discipline, restrain.

humor. Dictionary.com. Dictionary.com Unabridged (v 1.1). Random House, Inc. http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/humor

MY SENTENCE: Based on the comments I did not publish, some people failed to see the humor in my writing.

April 18, 2009

Why I don't watch the news

Everybody Tells Me Everything
Ogden Nash

I find it very difficult to enthuse
Over the current news.
Just when you think that at least the outlook is so black that it can grow no blacker, it worsens,
And that is why I do not like the news, because there has never been an era when so many things were going so right for so many of the wrong persons.

April 17, 2009

Apollo 13

Today in History - April 17, 1970
Apollo 13 returns to Earth

With the world anxiously watching, Apollo 13, a U.S. lunar spacecraft that suffered a severe malfunction on its journey to the moon, safely returns to Earth.
Here are some movie favorites.

And some great books for kids.

Team Moon was one of our favorite books from

April 15, 2009

Word of the Week

dis⋅in⋅gen⋅u⋅ous [dis-in-jen-yoo-uhs]

lacking in frankness, candor, or sincerity; falsely or hypocritically ingenuous; insincere: Her excuse was rather disingenuous.

1645–55; dis + ingenuous

Related forms:
dis⋅in⋅gen⋅u⋅ous⋅ly, adverb
dis⋅in⋅gen⋅u⋅ous⋅ness, noun

disingenuous. Dictionary.com. Dictionary.com Unabridged (v 1.1). Random House, Inc. http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/disingenuous

April 14, 2009

We LOVE Percy

And now the movie is being cast for a 2010 release (can we wait that long?)

What? You haven't read the Rick Riordan series? Are you crazy? Go check the book out from the library or go buy it. You could borrow one of my three copies, but I have pressed them on all of my friends. We are crazy about Percy. We have read the books and listened to the audio book and now we will see the movie.

From the Hollywood Reporter (a website I will say I have never visited before today):

Pierce Brosnan, Uma Thurman, Sean Bean, Kevin McKidd and Melina Kanakaredes are heading to Mount Olympus.

The quintet has been cast in Fox 2000's fantasy-adventure adaptation "Percy Jackson" as classical Greek gods Chiron (Brosnan), Medusa (Thurman), Zeus (Bean), Poseidon (McKidd) and Athena (Kanakaredes). Aries, Hades and Persephone have not yet been cast.

The film, being directed by Chris Columbus, is shooting in Vancouver for a February release.

Hopefully Pierce will redeem himself after his rather "comic" performance in Mamma Mia!

And don't forget, Book 5 will be release on May 5th. Have you reserved your copies?

April 13, 2009

The Best Kind of Afternoon

An Afternoon In The Stacks
William Stafford

Closing the book, I find I have left my head
inside. It is dark in here, but the chapters open
their beautiful spaces and give a rustling sound,
words adjusting themselves to their meaning.
Long passages open at successive pages. An echo,
continuous from the title onward, hums
behind me. From in here the world looms,
a jungle redeemed by these linked sentences
carved out when an author traveled and a reader
kept the way open. When this book ends
I will pull it inside-out like a sock
and throw it back in the library. But the rumor
of it will haunt all that follows in my life.
A candleflame in Tibet leans when I move.

April 10, 2009

How did I miss this?

Since its beginnings 84 years ago, Miller Outdoor Theatre has provided a unique resource for the City of Houston and its visitors. Steadfast in the founding principal that the theatre shall provide cultural and educational events free of charge for the public, Miller has evolved like the city itself. What was once "a permanent bandstand" in Hermann Park is now a first-class proscenium theatre, professionally operated and committed to providing quality and diverse performances worthy of the great international city that Houston has become.

We went to our first performance last night. The whole experience - driving down early to get good tickets (free), driving to Whole Foods for outdoor dinner food, driving home, preparing the dinner, driving to pick up my husband, driving to the treater again, watching the production, driving home - took up most of my day. It was worth it. The production was first class. The company was unparalleled. The setting was wonderful. It is the perfect way to introduce the boys to a more varied fine arts experience.

I have a feeling we will be spending many a summer afternoon and evening there. Hope to see you in the audience.

April 9, 2009

Spanish Haiku

Each year the Texas Library Association sponsors the The Texas Bluebonnet Award reading program (my experiences with it were discussed here). It was established in 1979 to encourage Texas children to read more books, explore a variety of current books, develop powers of discrimination, and identify their favorite books.

One of this years nominees is Yum! Mmmm! Que Rico!: America's Sproutings.

From the School Library Journal:
This concept book serves as a delicious introduction to 14 types of food, all of which have their origins in the Americas. Snippets of information and a haiku poem accompany each one, ranging from blueberry and chili pepper through papaya, prickly pear, and vanilla. Using English and a smattering of Spanish words, Mora crafts a playful introduction to each one.
Here is one of my favorites:


Under round luna,
Scattered tumblings down the rows,
autumn's orange face.

I love that a traditional Japanese form of poetry steeped in thousands of years of history is being used to reach Texas school children.

April 8, 2009

Word of the Week

quo⋅tid⋅i⋅an [kwoh-tid-ee-uhn]


1. daily: a quotidian report.
2. usual or customary; everyday: quotidian needs.
3. ordinary; commonplace: paintings of no more than quotidian artistry.
4. (of a fever, ague, etc.) characterized by paroxysms that recur daily.


5. something recurring daily.
6. a quotidian fever or ague.

Related forms:
quo⋅tid⋅i⋅an⋅ly, adverb
quo⋅tid⋅i⋅an⋅ness, noun

Today in Baseball History

Hank Aaron sets new home run record.

On this day in 1974, Hank Aaron of the Atlanta Braves hits his 715th career home run, breaking Babe Ruth's legendary record of 714 homers.

Have I mentioned that in the Spring my life revolves around baseball?

April 6, 2009

Visions and Revisions

I am currently reading the classic Zinser book On Writing Well, 30th Anniversary Edition: The Classic Guide to Writing Nonfiction.

Here the author talks about the book and the history behind it.

Was Shakespeare Wrong?

Is language just communication?

NPR today had an interesting take on the question.

Turns out Shakespeare was wrong.

Fate is the Hunter

From Fate is the Hunterby Ernest K. Gann:
A pilot's capacity for discourse on flying is virtually unlimited; he may drift away from the subject momentarily, but soon, by some device or accident of simile, he is once again locked tightly to his obsession.
There were many obstacles to be conquered before this could be done, and there were as many pessimists who said it could never be done. The visionaries, as always, found they must be their own strength, for the hairs of pomposity prickled upon the skins of the incumbent authorities, warning them to smother this new attack upon the impossible. Fertile imaginations were ridiculed and occasionally thwarted, which was only a repetition of history; yet, likewise, they mainly triumphed in the end.
Put your trust in God and Pratt and Whitney.
For loneliness, I thought, is an opportunity. Only in such a state may ordinary minds, spared comparison with superior minds, emerge victorious from thoughts which might prove perilous to explore in company. Loneliness presents no challengers to undermine by argument and stipulation those comforting theories born of it.... Unless men are transformed into true imbeciles and simply stare at nothing or play with their physical toys, then loneliness can form a magic platform which may transport the meek to thoughts of courage, or even cause the scoundrel to examine the benefits of honesty.
And it seemed to me that men were never intended to play at Gods.
Yet the confidence which lures a man to a life of flight in the first place is almost indestructible. He believes, he must believe absolutely, in his personal fortune and destiny.

April 2, 2009

From War - a Tree

I will never forget this tree. It grows now on the island of Corregidor which sits at the entrance to Manila harbor in the Phillipines. During WWII, American troops led by General MacArthur held this tiny island for weeks, withstanding brutal bombardment by the Japanese force fortified across a small strait. When the island fell, the surviving American troops were forced on the murderous Bataan Death March.

Today, more than 60 years after the end of the war, Corregidor is a lush and beautiful tourist spot where we were lucky enough to spend a peaceful night in 2006. Our tour guide stopped in front of this tree and recited Joyce Kilmer's Trees and then proceeded to tell us his story.

Joyce Kilmer

I think that I shall never see
A poem lovely as a tree.
A tree whose hungry mouth is prest
Against the earth's sweet flowing breast;
A tree that looks at God all day,
And lifts her leafy arms to pray;
A tree that may in Summer wear
A nest of robins in her hair;
Upon whose bosom snow has lain;
Who intimately lives with rain.
Poems are made by fools like me,
But only God can make a tree.

Our tour guide grew up without the father who had been captured on Corregidor and died on the death march. Thanks to the American soldiers who rebuilt many of the schools in the Phillipines after the war, he recieved an education and was a successful businessman. Now retired, he leads groups of tourists, many Americans like ourselves, on tours of Corregidor as a gesture of thanks. He always stops as this tree and recites the poem he was taught by his wonderful American teacher in third grade. He looked at us and said, "From war - a tree. From loss - beauty."

Here are our trees:




This art project came from the post "How to Paint Spring Trees" at That Artist Woman's blog.

April 1, 2009

Word of the Week

du⋅plic⋅i⋅ty [doo-plis-i-tee, dyoo-]

–noun, plural -ties

1. deceitfulness in speech or conduct; speaking or acting in two different ways concerning the same matter with intent to deceive; double-dealing.
2. a twofold or double state or quality.

1400–50; late ME duplicite < MF < ML, LL duplicitās, with -ite r. -itās; see duplex, -ity

1. deception, dissimulation..

1. straightforwardness.

Happy April Fool's Day.