Friday, July 27, 2007

A Little Poetry for You: Levine

Happy Poetry Friday! You'll find the round-up over at Check it Out!

I've snuck back from vacation for just a day, and wanted to get you this link to a wonderful poem by Philip Levine (brief bio).

I could only find this in audio, but I've transcribed the first half to the best of my ability.
Messieur Degas Teaches Art and Science at Durfy Intermediate School, Detroit 1942
by Philip Levine

He made a line on the blackboard
One bold stroke from right to left diagonally downward
And stood back to ask --
Looking as always at no one in particular --
"What have I done?"

From the back of the room Freddy shouted,
"You've broken a piece of chalk!"
Messieur Degas did not smile.
"What have I done?" he repeated.

The most intellectual students
Looked down to study their desks,
Except for Gertrude Bimler,
Who raised her hand before she spoke:
"Messieur Degas, you have created
The hypotenuse of an isosceles triangle."

Degas mused.
Everyone knew that Gertrude could not be incorrect.

Go here to hear: Messieur Degas Teaches Art and Science at Durfy Intermediate School, Detroit 1942

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Creative Writing: Sailing and Love

I'm posting this a few days early because I'm heading out on vacation.... Here's a sailing poem I wrote last year, to celebrate the wedding we got to witness on board the Victory Chimes.


by Nancy Rae Kienzler

I watched two boats
sail their separate courses,
and thought how sad
that these two beautiful things --
so similar
and following parallel paths --
should nonetheless be disjoined
by all that sea between them.

Like clouds overhead,
blown across the same space by the same wind,
but separated by a slice of sky.

But then sometimes the wind
will catch one cloud a little more than the other,
and blow the two together,
and sometimes,
when you watch the sailboats in the distance,
you'll see their paths cross,
their bows kiss,
their sails intermingle.

And you realize that
neither sea,
nor sky,
nor any space between,
can keep two --
who are meant to be one --
from joining.

(This poem is protected by copyright. Please do not use without permission.)
Have a great week everyone!

Friday, July 20, 2007

A Little Poetry for You: Moore

Happy Poetry Friday! The round-up can be found at this link.

I'm off for a sailing trip today, and leave you with this little bit about the sea.

A Grave
by Marianne Moore

Man looking into the sea,
taking the view from those who have as much right to it as you have to yourself,
it is human nature to stand in the middle of a thing,
but you cannot stand in the middle of this;
the sea has nothing to give but a well excavated grave.
The firs stand in a procession, each with an emerald turkey-foot at the top,
reserved as their contours, saying nothing;
repression, however, is not the most obvious characteristic of the sea;
the sea is a collector, quick to return a rapacious look.
Go here for the rest of this poem.

No reliable audio this time (you might try this link but it didn't work for me), but here's a bio of the poet. She worked at the New York Public Library, just like other people we admire who may or may not have blogs and who appreciate good poetry.

While you're there reading the bio, click on the link to read another good poem called "Baseball and Writing." Moore was a big baseball fan, and it shows in this second poem!

Update: here's an audio clip of Moore reading "Silence." Quite interesting.

Back next week!

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Words on Wednesday: Doctor Whom?

This arrived as a recommendation from Amazon today. Anyone heard of it?

Monday, July 16, 2007

Tanga Puzzles: July 16 - July 22

Here are the daily clues for the Tanga puzzles this week. To see the hint, highlight the space to the right of the date.

I don't give away answers here, just a small hint each day to help get you started or past a rough patch. If you want stronger hints, you can check the blog on the Tanga site itself, which is chock full of spoilers.

While I avoid giving away the answers on this page, be warned that there may be spoilers in the comments to this post, so open those with care.

Good luck!

July 16: Start with the ends.

July 17: If you're the type that likes to do things single-handedly, you'll get this puzzle with no problem.

July 18: Start with the synonym for ecru, and this should be simple. Bigger hint: Where do Michael and Dom both shop?

July 19: I found what I was looking for when I centered my attention on the guest list.

July 20 -22: I'm travelling for the next several days, but will catch up when I return.


Sunday, July 15, 2007

Creative Writing: Parchment


It's been over 3 months since I've written anything of my own, but tonight it just felt possible. I went over to one of my favorite Magnetic Poetry sites for inspiration, and these words got me started -- cloud, strike, crash, tingling, waiting, happen -- even though I only used a few of them.

Here is the result, not quite perfected, fresh off the press as it were:


by Nancy Rae Kienzler

It was our longest, our greatest, our finest drought,
The time we dried like raisins, like sawdust, like parchment.
Experienced as we were, knowing it would end,
As droughts always do, we waited patient and still.

And yet, nerves tingled. Senses heightened.
Do you smell electricity? Are those cirrus or cumulous?
Are the leaves up? Are the cows lying down?
Even the animals were restless then, pacing and sighing.

One night we heard the crackle across the bone-dry hills.
We sat on the porch and looked Southward,
Then wrapped around the side to look Westward.
It was beautiful, and so brilliant, but no more. Not a drop.

I don’t remember the fall or feel of that first raindrop,
Nor the first storm, momentous as it must have been.
But the weeks, and the weeks, of watching and wanting,
Waiting and withering – I hold on to those.

Friday, July 13, 2007

A Little Poetry for You: Kumin

Happy Poetry Friday! When you're done here, don't forget the Poetry Friday round-up over at Chicken Spaghetti.

I have to say I really enjoy hunting around on for new poetry. Today, I followed their link for "Cowboy Poetry" and from there a link to the poet Maxine Kumin.

Consider this poem about her guilt over letting go of a good horse:
by Maxine Kumin

How pleasant the yellow butter
melting on white kernels, the meniscus
of red wine that coats the insides of our goblets

where we sit with sturdy friends as old as we are
after shucking the garden's last Silver Queen
and setting husks and stalks aside for the horses

the last two of our lives, still noble to look upon:
our first foal, now a bossy mare of 28
which calibrates to 84 in people years

and my chestnut gelding, not exactly a youngster
at 22. Every year, the end of summer
lazy and golden, invites grief and regret...

Go here for the rest of the poem.

And then consider going here to read and listen to Kumin's "Woodchucks," which takes a somewhat humorous, somewhat grisly look at the determination of the poet to get rid of varmints in her garden. The poem begins: "Gassing the woodchucks didn't turn out right." If you read it as I did, you will laugh and then you will wince.

If the phrase "Cowboy Poetry" intrigues you, use this link for a description of Cowboy Poetry. By the way, based on this description I don't think either of the two Kumin poems I point out are part of the Cowboy Poetry genre.

And here is a Brief bibliography/bio of Maxine Kumin.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Words on Wednesday: Anagrams

Here's something new I learned today: The phrase "two plus eleven" is equal to the phrase "one plus twelve" in more than one way!

Go here for more anagram coolness! (Click on the anagram link at the top right.)

Oh, and there's a whole bunch about palindromes there too.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Tanga Puzzles: July 9 - July 15

Here are the daily clues for the Tanga puzzles this week. To see the hint, highlight the space to the right of the date.

I don't give away answers here, just a small hint each day to help get you started or past a rough patch. If you want stronger hints, you can check the blog on the Tanga site itself, which is chock full of spoilers.

While I avoid giving away the answers on this page, be warned that there may be spoilers in the comments to this post, so open those with care.

Good luck!

July 9: Use the phrases one way, then apply to the pictures.

July 10: This is an inside joke but you don't need to be a hero to get it.

July 11: You need to recognize at least a few of these pictures to get this one.

July 12: I don't know why I couldn't remember, but it's buck.

July 13: If you can count, and if you aren't too blue, this should be a fine puzzle for you.

July 14: Little-'uns first.

July 15: If you can get those petty girls in order, you can probably figure it out within the first two rounds.

An Impossible Interview

The very kind Jules and Eisha over at Seven Impossible Things have added me to their series of blogger profiles. If you want to know things about me I'd never admit on THIS blog, and see my picture, and all that good stuff...


Thanks Jules and Eisha. I'm so happy to be part of the tribe!

Sunday, July 08, 2007

One Year and an Anniversary Contest

Today is the first anniversary of this blog, and I'm so pleased to have made it a whole year. There were times -- after I went back to work, after I started spending more weekends out and about and more time getting together with people I love, after the visitors started showing up on my doorstep to stay a day or two or six -- that I thought something would have to give and most likely it would be the blog. But I've given myself permission to lighten up, post only when I want to and what I want to, and that's made a huge difference and allowed me to keep going. You can't be all-or-nothing about blogging, or eventually it will be nothing.

So, I'll take a moment to reflect on the first year of blogging, and then I'll talk about my Anniversary Contest. Bear with me, the contest info will be just a few lines below....

Highlights of my blogging year:

  • Coming up with my blog name, one that was perfectly suited to me.
  • Being welcomed to the blogging world by Jen Robinson.
  • Buying two of Leila's excellent t-shirts.
  • Watching Miss Erin and Little Willow crush the competition in my Great Antagonists of Children's Literature and Great Passages of Children's Literature contests.
  • Laughing and laughing and laughing over MotherReader's posts.
  • Remembering to treat myself well thanks to Robin.
  • Remembering to be grateful thanks to Jules and Eisha.
  • Being able to count on Michele for very smart commentary.
  • Learning how to write fibs from Greg.
  • Working as a judge for the Cybils YA category.
  • Being contacted by a reporter about my postcard series.
  • Getting to know Kelly, Liz, Heather, Susan, Lady S, Elaine, and so many others out there blogging.
  • Finding treasures like the picture at the top of this post and the picture at the bottom.
  • Every single comment and email that you've sent my way. It's meant so much to know when I've captured your interest, introduced you to a poet you'd never heard of, made you think or laugh, or inspired you to contribute to one of my lists. It's also meant a lot just to know you've been reading. Yes, you.

And the posts....

Posting about sailing, children's books, my evening with Stephen King, my ghost, and my lousy lousy pear trees.

Posting quotations and learning a little about the people who said them.

Posting poetry and discovering the joy of listening to the poets read their own words.

Posting word games, puzzles, dictionary links and other wordie stuff and indulging my love for language.

Posting my own writing and being willing to take a risk by sharing it.

Posting a bunch of old postcards, and getting connected to the past through a little research and a lot of imagination.

Okay, that about covers most of the high points. I'd have to say my very highest points lately have been when I post an old postcard. The "Lives in Letters" series has turned out to be really interesting for me, and a great way to stretch my brain and figure out how things tie together.

Which leads me to the Lives in Letters Contest, at last....

In honor of my one-year blogversary, I am holding a contest that will run through the month of July.

The prizes:

I'll award 4 prizes, each a $25 gift card. Probably Starbucks gift cards, though I might shake it up a bit and go with Target gift cards too. Plus each winner will get one mystery prize of small monetary but huge sentimental value.

The deadline:

Deadline extended to September 30!

The rules to enter:

To enter, simply send some postcard, letter, note, photograph, or some other piece of history that tells a story. Use the Lives in Letters postcard series for inspiration, and search your attic, your scrapbooks, or your local flea market for something from the past that you find interesting, touching, intriguing, sweet, funny or sad.

Email a photo of your item along with its story to nrkii at aol dot com.

I will probably post all the entries up on the blog, so please let me know if you want me to make your entry anonymous. Otherwise, I will be sure to give you credit!

Entries will be judged for overall coolness of the item and for how interesting the story is surrounding it. In other words, I'm afraid I'll have to be entirely subjective in judging the entries. I may call in outside judging help to make it more fair.

I'll also have a separate drawing for a book prize that will be open to any blogger who links to this contest in their blog. Just pop a note in the comments to let me know.

Not yet inspired?

If you want more inspiration for things you could contribute as contest entries, check out The Book Inscriptions Project (thanks Little Willow!) which is very similar to the postcards idea, but centers around the notes people have written inside of gift books. Or check out Found, which is a place to see and read about all sorts of found objects -- love letters, grocery lists, doodles.... I will accept any of these types of entries as well.

I am basically looking for history in the smallest places. Check your sock drawer.

Friday, July 06, 2007

A Little Poetry for You: Davidman

It's Poetry Friday! Get your round-up over at Farm School.

Lately I've been thinking about C. S. Lewis and Joy Davidman (Gresham), and their story as told in the movie Shadowlands and the book A Grief Observed. I don't know why these things pop into my head, but once they do, it's best to just let them out.

So here's a poem from Joy Davidman, which was actually used in the movie Shadowlands.
Snow in Madrid
by Joy Davidman

Softly, so casual,
Lovely, so light, so light,
The cruel sky lets fall
Something one does not fight.
How tenderly to crown
The brutal year
The clouds send something down
That one need not fear.
Men before perishing
See with unwounded eye
For once a gentle thing
Fall from the sky.

Go here for a brief write-up about the life of Joy Davidman. She was known to many of the public as that Jewish, atheist, Christian, communist, divorcee, American poet and novelist who married C. S. Lewis. She was known to Lewis himself as:
my daughter and my mother, my pupil and my teacher, my subject and my sovereign; and always, holding all these in solution, my trusty comrade, friend, shipmate, fellow-soldier.

I do recommend reading "A Grief Observed" if you've got plenty of kleenex handy and want to know more about Lewis and Davidman.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Tanga Puzzles: July 2 - July 8

Here are the daily clues for the Tanga puzzles this week. To see the hint, highlight the space to the right of the date.

I don't give away answers here, just a small hint each day to help get you started or past a rough patch. If you want stronger hints, you can check the blog on the Tanga site itself, which is chock full of spoilers.

While I avoid giving away the answers on this page, be warned that there may be spoilers in the comments to this post, so open those with care.

Good luck!

July 2: Find the gemstones, then let the maze solution help you find the answer within.

July 3: The instructions at the top are useful, but not if you follow them.

July 4: That's Dinah Shore, and that is her shirt.

July 5: I couldn't decide which way to attack this one, so I drew straws. Then I tried rock paper scissors. I should have kept it simpler.

July 6: The numbers at the bottom range from 1 to 34, which is a big clue about what to apply the numbers to.

July 7: Where I got stuck was the "palindrome" instruction. It means, find the palindrome word that is a synonym or an anagram. I was reading "palindrome" as a verb.

July 8: If you do a Google image search, this will come easily.