Visiting an Old Friend

I’ve been spending time with an old friend these past few days. You may know her well, too. She was born 100 years ago- actually, birthday 101 is almost here. Her earliest years were spent as a farm girl, but later she became a city girl. She could not wait to go to school to learn to read. She always knew she wanted to write, too. School almost killed both. Books saved her. And later, write, she did.

Some of her characters were probably your childhood friends as they were mine, and as they still are for children today. A bunch of ordinary kids- neighborhood friends and siblings, pets with personality, and more. The name of the first one just came to her when she started to write, then his personality and stories developed out of memories of the kids who populated the city blocks of her youth, and those she interacted with as a children’s librarian. Her most well-known character came about when she realized some of her characters needed siblings, and she gave one a little sister, primarily to explain the origin of that primary character’s unusual name.

She would find the germ of a plot from memory or imagination, choose words because she liked the sound of them, used advice from her mother- make it funny, people always like to read something funny, and also remembered words from her favorite college professor who said the proper subject of the novel is universal human experience. She also relied on another professor’s three-hundred words a day assignment and made herself write daily. She vowed to ignore trends and not allow money to influence decisions about her books. She relied on her own imagination and wrote more than 35 books, the first published in 1959 and the last in 1999.

Did you guess? I’ve been reading Beverly Cleary’s two memoirs, Girl from Yamhill and My Own Two Feet. Now I’m ready to revisit Ramona, Beezus, Henry, Ellen, Otis, and the rest of them.

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Just Watching Basketball

We were just three friends getting together to watch one of the Elite Eight NCAA games. Two are real sports fans. One is “Bracket Girl.” She filled out brackets with two different groups. She was bemoaning the fact that both of her brackets have been wrecked, but she has two picks that still have a chance. She has two sons with at least five sports between them. The other watches more sports than anything on TV. (Though she does like the old classic sitcoms and westerns.) I, on the other hand like the time with friends more than I care about sports. Growing up in Indiana, though, I do know basketball. It’s a requirement.

We watched the game. There were lots of comments about the plays, the players, the coaches, the colleges. But the conversation flowed back and forth to other topics. We talked about our kids. (Are there any moms who don’t talk about their kids? Even when they are mostly grown up?) We talked about horses (one friend is a horse lover- she and her husband have two trail horses and two racehorses) and laughed over a Facebook video of a miniature horse frolicking around the barnyard. In the middle of it all our friend told us about her latest doctor visit. She might be accepted into a clinical trial. Her current course of treatment offers an average of eight months life expectancy. It could be longer. She shares a few other details. Pause. We take her cue. Back to basketball. Let’s get together again for the Final Four.

Friends. Just watching basketball.

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Celebrating Bird Songs

Do you hear them in the morning when you wake?

Birds trilling, chirping, cooing?

They greet the day with a joyful noise,

and stir a song in me, too.

I hope they do the same for you.

I love to hear the birds in the morning. It is a happy way to begin the day, noticing their songs. I think of the many places and times I have heard them. When I lived in an apartment on the twelfth floor of a tall building in the middle of a big city, it was not the noise of the city I woke up to, but instead the gentle cooing of pigeons in the treetops of the park beside us. I often hear a chorus of different birds who stop by in the trees in my yard. I notice them in the short walk from my car into school on weekday mornings. I am not really a birdwatcher. I only recognize the most common birds and know for sure the distinctive songs of only a few. Still, bird songs are a joy I celebrate. What small, everyday pleasures do you celebrate?

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Nonet for Peru

The rains fell and carried lives away.
Floods took homes, belongings and hope-
brought damage, devastation,
disease and suffering.
Do we hear the pleas?
Will we answer
with love and
renew
HOPE?

A nonet is a nine-line poem beginning with a line of nine syllables and descending to one syllable. It is inspired by music. (Search poetry forms, see Writer’s Digest)

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Peru, Oh, Peru

Flooding, which began earlier this month with torrential rain in Peru, continues to devastate the nation. More than 70 people have lost their lives. At least 134,000 homes are uninhabitable. Thirty-three highways are closed and 3,500 damaged, with over 150 bridges collapsed and 275 more severely damaged. Some villages are totally isolated as a result of the bridge collapses. Nearly 1,200 schools are heavily damaged. Hospitals and health centers where people would go for help are also damaged. The capital city, Lima, is affected with a serious lack of drinking water for its 9 million people, and flooding in the streets.

The rainy season could last another two weeks. The statistics of suffering will only increase. Epidemics may be coming due to the collapsed sewage systems. Looting in markets has already begun. Even relief trucks carrying food have been attacked.

You can find news reports online. I am getting news first-hand from missionary friends living and working in Peru through Scripture Union. The boys (who were formerly homeless) living in the Girasoles (sunflower) Home in Ica are leading a project to provide water to a neighboring town. They will fill 5 gallon water bottles with purified water (a system provided by Living Waters for the World) from the well on the property to distribute in Chanchajalla. Volunteers from their school ministry staff in Piura, Trujillo, and Chosica will set up soup kitchens to provide meals to children and women and the elderly. In partnership with Health Bridges International, they are preparing to provide medicine for malaria, dengue fever, cholera, typhoid fever, and amoebic dysentery, which are expected to spread.

The organizations I mentioned are only a few that will be involved in relief work alongside the government of Peru. Donations are needed.

Please pray for the people of Peru.

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Going to the Movies

Go to the movies with an 11-year old
You’ll see things in a new way
Get your tickets- for 3D if possible
Hanging out in the lobby before the show
It’s not just a wait, it’s time to play
And burn through as many quarters for The Claw
As you can trick someone out of-
“I’ll really win…next time! I’m sure”
Concession stand- you must make a stop there,
And get the biggest bucket of popcorn (with butter!)
And the tallest Icee they have- blue, of course
Carry it all toward the screen
Keep going, all the way to the front
Yes, we HAVE to sit in the front row, every time
It’s the only way to enjoy the show!

I guess you can tell where I was yesterday afternoon. There’s more to the story, though. I always like to spend time with my great nephew, but yesterday’s outing was special. Usually, we are with my sister, his nana, but yesterday she, my niece, and my niece’s husband were at court. For a custody hearing. My nephew’s birth father, who has never been a part of his life, had moved out of state and sued for visitation. Yesterday, the struggle ended.  (He agreed in court, to sign away his rights. In the best interest of his son. We understand it was not easy. It was a huge change of heart on his part.)

After the movie, we went to my sister’s, where my nephew was surprised with a big bunch of balloons and a “coming soon” poster with the adoption date and his name with the last name he will now share with his mom, little brother and his DAD. There was lots of crying, but also laughter, clapping, and hugging- more hugs than anything!

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Reading and Writing Book Spine Poem

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Another slicer made a Book Spine Poem from “teacher” books. Here is my entry made from reading and writing texts.

Open a World of Possible
Close Writing
59 Reasons to Write
Writers are Readers
Reading Strategies
Writing Strategies
Story: Still the Heart of Literacy Learning
Heart Maps

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