I guess “Reflections” in my title is a bit of a stretch because I didn’t actually take time to reflect much yet. Instead, I wanted to get some thoughts down and share some photos. There is so much more to say about the whole NCTE experience, but for now here are some of my delighted, though surfacy, highlights.
Having presentations to attend where I knew presenters, like fellow Slice of Life writers–Glenda, Sally, Margaret and Trish.
Presenting and rooming with Mo and Jennifer
Hearing Jacqueline Woodson and Tom Hanks
Meeting Victoria Pasquantonio, a fun and passionate educator who is now the education producer at PBS NewsHour Classroom.
Meeting Dr. Luz Carime Bersh from Minnesota State University, Mankato.
Restaurants at the Short North Arts District on High Street in Columbus were a definite high–but I didn’t take any photos! My favorite was Brassica, where we ate dinner two nights in a row.
A few weeks ago we met a new friend at Starbucks. He’s a fellow bike rider and lives in the town of Joshua Tree. He has literally ridden every highway and road–paved and dirt–as well as all the trails. He helped us find a new shortcut to Joshua Tree on a three-mile trail to his house. Now, he has taken us on several adventures seeing the landscape and sites. This week we went on two 20-mile rides. Just some of the sites we saw were beehive homes, a split rock, a suspiciously-not-really-contaminated “high energy microwave field”, a mirrored egg embedded on a mountain, a train museum (where the train has never passed through) and more. He estimates it will take two more months to finish seeing the sites he has to show us. Here are some photos of our last two bike rides.
I’m working on my own personal schedule from the NCTE Conexiones schedule. Have I missed any that you are leading or that you are attending?
7:00 a.m. – One Line Coffee with Ethical ELA friends
F.14 – “Building Networks: Bringing Together Teachers, Researchers, Families, and Communities to Explore, Expand, and Interrogate Writing Instruction” with Sarah Donohue and Margaret Simon and others
H.10 – “Acts of Assemblage: Bringing Art, Science, and History Together in the Storytelling Classroom” with Glenda Funk and others
I.18 – “Connecting English Language Arts and the Climate Crisis” with Trish Emerson and others
K.19 – “Authors are Real People: Connecting Students to Children’s Book Creators” with Margaret Simon, Sally Donnelly, Mary Lee Hahn, Heidi Mordhorst, Amy Ludwig VanDerWater, Laura Shoven, and Laura Purdie Salas and others.
L.29 – “Relational Poetic Practice: How Poetic Thinking Empowers Teachers to Author Their Own PD” with Sarah Donohue, Mo Daley, Jennifer Guyor Jowett, and me, Denise Krebs
M.34 – “Planning with Purpose: Nuts and Bolts for New College Classroom Teachers” with Anna J. Small Roseboro, Glenda Funk, and others and 4:00-4:30 – Laura Purdie Salas signing Finding Family
P.11 – “Connections within Research in Young Adult Literature” with Leilya Pitre and others
Last week we found this quaint little coffee shop/restaurant in Palm Desert, D’Coffee Bouteaque. It has a healthy and interesting menu, an amazing selection of coffee and tea drinks, and homey, eclectic decor. Everything is served on a variety of china dishes. We had a sweet server who we really made a connection with, and we knew he would be there today when we were going to be back in town for an appointment. So during the week, I made a plan to speak to our waiter, M, in Spanish this time. I had to look up a few words that I didn’t know because, as I told M, “Por favor, ¿Podemos hablar in español hoy porque quiero mostrar a mi esposo que puedo hacerlo? He was such a good sport, and it was a success. I ordered a chai latte with leche de avena and agave en el lado. He helped me with one of the many mistakes I made, but I forget it already. I think it was at the end of the sentence above about how to say, “I could do it.”
Anyway, I felt like I am on my way to the next stage of learning Spanish. I will definitely feel more confident next time.
Now, because we have no trick-or-treaters in our rural area, I’m sitting writing this and eating the M&Ms I bought (just in case).
I spent so many years of my life overworked and overwhelmed, and now here I am in retirement and I needed more to do. I told my husband today that I wish we could spread retirement out over our careers and enjoy a little boredom, respite, and rejuvenation throughout the years. On that note, I volunteered for the Friends of the Library in our town. They needed someone to figure out how to do email blasts, so I said I could do that. I went to MailChimp (or as the FOL board president has started to call it–ChimpMonkey. I’ve started calling it that too.) It was not difficult to learn, and today I successfully added contacts and sent out different newsletters to each of the four segments of our audience. It was rewarding, and such a treat to have time to sit and work without distractions.
A few pictures of late:
This week is the Open Write at Ethical ELA is going on this week. Here are the poems I’ve written so far:
Marshmallows burnt just right
Settled round the fire light—cold backs
Warm fronts, time to relax.
Then looked up, viewed star tracks—chatter
turned to higher matters
Universal star spatter, bright moon
Soul space, Divine commune
Inspired by “August Moon,” a poem by Emma Lazarus. I used this striking line: “Look! The round-cheeked moon floats high in the glowing August sky.” Her poem reminded me of this moon last August:
Take a Look!
Time for a surprise, for the
calendar has yet to turn round
and this orb, full-cheeked,
is shining again–blue moon
they call it. Super moon floats
above the mountain, lighting high
and low across the sand, just in
time for popcorn on the
porch and the glowing
cozy comfort of this August
evening, falling up into the sky
Children buried in rubble of war.
Are children only flesh and blood
literally–just children born to bleed
die survive as children no more?
Adopting hatred of elders, children waste
Justice and peace! They’re our children!
The news this week is painful. So many questions, so much pain in Israel and Palestine. Pain for the past seven decades, and more pain in the future too. God, please help.
The slices in my life recently seem to include sadness and questions and worry about how to be a better global citizen, but here is a small moment that happened this morning. In 2020, for the first time ever, I made a sourdough starter in Bahrain, along with many other people who were home during the pandemic lockdown.
When I moved back to California, I brought a small bottle of sourdough with me in my carryon. I nurtured it, used it, and gave some to my daughter. Over the year in Minneapolis, she improved my process and products of sourdough bread. Meanwhile in California, inadvertently I let my own sourdough die.
When I came home from my daughter’s last month, I returned with a small jar of sourdough in my carryon. It’s from the same batch I started in 2020. Now it’s healthy again and living in my fridge. This morning I started a loaf of bread.
The sadness is getting into my Inktober poems…
October 15 – dagger
knocked, assaulted, choked, stabbed
dozens of times: mother and son
hate crime, unthinkable escalation
Gaza war exported to Chicago by a
monster of a man who once
built a treehouse
I thought of her idea when I went for a walk today. I looked for artifacts–both manmade and natural. Then I chose one of each and tried to find the connections. Of course, the horrific bad news in Israel and Palestine was on my mind today too.
Here’s today’s poem.
ramrod straight ahead
stay the course
do it my way
cries out there are other ways
today she waves to travelers
arms beckon us to follow a new path
signs of sureness are needed at times
but flowing signs of wonder can
forge new directions of hope and home
rather than war
Now during the last couple days, I’ve gotten even more inspirational mileage from this event. As I read and comment on poems of other participants, I’m getting more ideas. I modeled this poem for my Slice of Life after a similar one someone wrote. Here’s a taste of my tender week:
Ten for Tenderness
Keith squeezes and says
“I’m holding Denise Reed in
the desert,” then sighs.
I loved meeting sweet, Blessen LaFleur, written by
Amber cuts my hair
the soft touch of scissors and
comb makes me tingle
Lori brings a box
of treasures from the sale, things
she knew I would love
Lotion plumps my skin
with “overnight Retinol
therapy” for dryness
The Hilary storm
helped a tall cactus send a
late bloom for the world
Move the couch in place
Popcorn and movie ready
watching in his arms
Funny joke, Milo!
“Jabber, jabber, jabber,” laughs
like a kookaburra
Three meals lovingly
made Saturday while I wrote
Then he did dishes
Sonny comes running
to get his treat then lies down
for a belly rub