Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Slice of Life: The Recipe Box

Today's post is part of the Slice of Life roundup at Two Writing Teachers.  Stop by for links to many great slices or, better yet, join the fun by linking your own piece.  Thanks to all for hosting.

I don't really know where pot pie came from.  Was it a recipe with its roots in the kitchens of the Pennsylvania Dutch?  Has it been adapted from the German bot boi recipes?  Was it a recipe used in kitchens during the depression when eggs may have been harder to find?  I'm really not sure.  I'm not even sure it matters.  In my mind, pot pie always came from Grandma's kitchen.

What I do know is, as a child, I could always count on having pot pie when I visited my grandma.   The smells from my grandma's kitchen greeted us as soon as we climbed the cement steps to her house.  She'd open the door and we would be immediately enveloped in the love of her kitchen as she wrapped her arms around each of us.

Grandma would make pot pie - my favorite dish - for family dinners, week visits, and over the holidays.  Mixing flour, shortening, salt, and a little baking powder, Grandma would magically create thick noodle-like squares to toss into a pot of boiling beef broth.  She'd add leftover beef, make some mashed potatoes, cook a few sides and dinner would be served.

Just before I got married my grandma gave me a tan plastic box containing contents too valuable to measure.  I still remember looking inside to find her carefully scripted recipes I had grown to love over the years.  Alphabetized meticulously, the box contained recipes for cheese potatoes, ham loaf, date pinwheel cookies, strawberry salad, sugar cream pie, and many other dishes Grandma would prepare with love in her kitchen for family gatherings.  And of course, the box contained the recipe for pot pie, a dumpling-like noodle made with a recipe similar to the recipe used for pie crusts.

I remember looking at that box and thinking how thoughtful the gift was.  I was touched by the care given to prepare each of these cards.  What I didn't realize then was that each year that box would become more and more treasured.  What I didn't know was how many times I would reach into my kitchen cupboard and feel that she was standing right beside me telling me to add a pinch of this or a dash of that.

Tonight I came home from a long day of writing student learning objectives, preparing science units, and learning with first graders to prepare dinner.  I reached into the cupboard near the oven, grabbed the recipe box, and looked for the card quite worn from use.  Mixing flour, shortening, salt and a little baking powder, I carefully made thick noodle-like squares to throw into the pot of boiling beef broth.  As the smells of my grandma's kitchen began to fill my house I smiled to myself.  Sometimes someone breathes so much life into a moment that it carries across days, seasons, and years.  Sometimes memories sit so firmly in our hearts that they bring us joy when we least expect it.  

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Writing Priorities: Slice of Life

"I must write it all out, at any cost.  Writing is thinking.  It is more than living, for it is being conscious of living."                                  --- Anne Morrow Lindbergh

Today's post is part of the Slice of Life roundup at Two Writing Teachers.  Stop by for links to many great slices or, better yet, join the fun by linking your own piece.  Thanks to all for hosting.

Why Write?
If you didn't have time to check out this week's Big Fresh by Brenda Power be sure to stop by.  In it Brenda talks about the different kinds of writing we do and compares our writing to gardening.  She shares, "A garden is a great metaphor for writing, because it helps me to think about what I need to prune, plant again, or trim back to keep myself thriving as a writer."

I've been trying to rethink my writing habits --- or maybe I should say begin to shape strong writing habits.  I really value my time writing like some people make time to exercise, quilt, or read books.  Writing helps me to make sense of life.  Writing makes me pay attention more to all that happens around me.

There are many types of writing I enjoy doing, but finding time for them all is a challenge in the busyness of life and teaching.  This has especially become apparent as I do more writing online.  More and more communities are forming that are finding common ideas to write about.  I enjoy these writing communities, but being a part of them means finding time to write, to read, and to comment.

Writing I Enjoy

I really wasn't sure whether I would post this.  It really has no voice.  I'm still trying to figure out want I want to say about it.  I stopped by Two Writing Teachers to see what was happening and stumbled upon Stacey's recent post, Climbing Out of a Rut.  When I read her words, I knew just what she was talking about and loved these two quotes:

The problem:  "I don't feel like I've written anything that is fueling me as a writer."  Stacey Shubitz

The solution:  "Clearly, something has to change so I can make time to write the stories that live inside my head that are yearning to make their way on the page."  Stacey Shubitz

What changes do we need to make as writers to find time for the work we value most?  

So I Wonder
What do you like to write?  How do you carve out time for this type of writing?  What's most important?  

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Celebrating Discoveries

I was pretty excited to learn of Ruth Ayres' Celebrations Round-Up at Ruth Ayres Writes.  As I have thought about it, I have so much to celebrate each week it is hard to choose just one thing, but here it goes.

Today I'm celebrating DISCOVERIES.  This weekend we found a little time to sneak away to visit our oldest daughter.  As teachers it isn't often we manage a fall get away.  With Friday off, we packed our bags, jumped in the car, and decided to head south.  

The drive was beautiful as we meandered through the Blue Ridge Mountains speckled in crimson and gold.  We arrived in North Carolina at the end of her school day and the adventure began.

Staying at the Ritz Cortney has been full of delightful discoveries.  I became a vegetarian after eating a zucchini sandwich at Natty Greens in Greensboro.  Maybe it was the combination of vegetables.  Maybe it was the fresh bread.  Either way, I wondered why I didn't order veggie meals more often.  

While in the Carolinas, I found I love antique stores after discovering they hold so many great memories for me.  What's not to love about those Looney Toons Pepsi glasses, a 70s Barbie case, a silver Christmas tree like my grandma's, and an avocado green Easy Bake Oven?  I'm not sure what to think about the fact that antique stores now hold clues to memories long forgotten for me.  For now, I'm not going to think much about it --- just revel in the discovery.  

This weekend has reminded me that new cities are full of places to discover.  While in Greensboro we found cheesecake, the Woolworth's lunch counter where the 1960 sit-in occurred, and interesting local artisans.  I realized I am a discoverer.  Today I celebrate discovery:  new places, new hobbies and discovering memories to last a lifetime.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Don't Miss It: Poetry Friday is Here!

I'm truly honored to be hosting today's Poetry Friday event.   I always enjoy wandering through the blogs joining the Poetry Friday conversation.  It is a pleasure to be reminded of poems I have loved, to discover new poems, and to read the poems written by participants.

If you're joining us today, and I hope you are, please add your link to the comments section of this post.  Then follow the links in the post, and the comments section, to find more poetry.  I'll be by a few time across the day to update the event.  Enjoy!

A Chance
The quarter
tossed carelessly
to the bottom of my purse,
once coveted,
now overlooked.

Shiny quarter
once held such promise,
a wish for something grand
from the store's gum ball machine:
a new ring,
a bracelet of gold,
a plastic parachute man. 
Something sure to be envied. 

Twenty five cents
placed in a slot,
Opening the door
revealed a clear plastic bubble,
the tiny treasure inside
never what I imagined.

Yet, that quarter,
that shiny quarter 
or found,
would provide a chance
that maybe,
just this once,
the treasure would be
everything I hoped. 

© Cathy L. Mere

April from Teaching Authors celebrates Poetry Friday and Teen Read Week with a poem from her book, Girl Coming in for a Landing:  Imprinting.  

Have you noticed those orange pumpkins popping up on patios and near front doors?  At Father Goose  Charles Ghigna shares his original poem, Pumpkins on Guard.  You will think differently about those jack-o-lanterns on doorsteps.

Today Violet turns grandma poet to share poems written in senryu about her busy days, Grandma Poet.  If you like haiku, you won't want to miss this. Stop by Violet Nesdoly Poems.

Stop by Blue Window where B.J. shares her roundel, The Things I Saw.  Warning:  don't read it in the dark.

You can't miss this!  A little fun, a guessing game, some information --- all rolled into verse.  Tabatha Yeats shares Joyce Sidman's, Do Ya Know 'Em?.   Stop by The Opposite of Indifference to test what you know about inventors.

Mary Lee wakes up early to share Millay's, The Fig, at A Year of Reading.  She also tackles some big questions and misconceptions we may have about the poem.

It's a good day for Millay.  Julie, at The Drift Record, shares our second Millay poem, Recuerdo.  Join Julie as she takes us on a virtual ferry ride.

At I Think in Poems, Betsy shares an original poem about those writers that are just discovering the power of their words, Tiny Hands.

Michelle shares Carrie Clickard's Danse Macrabe at Today's Little Ditty.  Mortimer stops by too for a little interview and some poetry fun.

Mortimer also joins Janet for her Poetry Friday post at Across the Page.

Stop by Author Amok for original concrete poems "Lucky Hat" and "Blue Ribbon" in the voice of Joe, a character cut from her novel in verse. It's number 3 in her "Kill Your Darlings" series.

Laura Purdie Salas shares her original pandoum, Otter's Winter Song.  Fascinating form and song.

Tamera also joins Poetry Friday and the Children's Poetry Blog Hop.  She shares her reasons for writing children's poetry and playing with form.  She also shares an original poem from long ago, Running.

Mortimer reappears at Mainely Write where Donna tries to impress him with some rabbit poetry.  Hop on over and join the fun.

Ride on over to Carol's Corner where Carol shares a poem from Cowboy Up, a Cybils Nonfiction Nominee, Rodeo Rider.

At Reflections on the Teche Margaret shares student poetry inspired by photography.  This poetry is sure to appeal to your senses.

Steven shares an original poem called "A Clutch of Sea Turtle Eggs" at Crackles of Speech.

One can hardly ignore politics these days.  At Random Noodling Diane shares, "In the Moonlight."  Stop by for an interesting read and some great links.

Everyone has a favorite sweatshirt.  Stop by Kurious Kitty to read "Hand Me Down Sweatshirt" from Button Up!.

Stop by Kurious K's Kwotes for something to ponder.

Dog lovers, stop here!  Robyn Hood Black shares a canine poem today with Mary Oliver's new DOG SONGS.

Looking for tasty fall treats?  Stop by Jama's Alphabet Soup for a little poetry, "A Short History of the Apple" by Laux, and a must-try recipe for Baked Apple Oatmeal Pudding.

Catherine, at Reading to the Core, shares a poem by Derek Walcott, "Love After Love."  She talks a bit about mindfulness and how knowing ourselves can help us to love others.

Amys' poem makes me laugh.  You wont' want to miss it.  So many great poems' on her page.

Sorry, I just couldn't resist.  Amy LV makes me laugh with her poem Apostrophe as she sets things straight at The Poem Farm.  

At There is No Such Thing as a God-Forsaken Town, Ruth shares two powerful lines from Emily Dickinson that will make you stop and think for a bit.  So true!

Matthew Forrest Esenwine, at Radio, Rhythm and Rhyme, answers some questions from Mortimer who appears yet again on one of the Poetry Friday posts.  I must say, I learned a lot about Matthew and the writing of poetry by reading his responses.  Mortimer runs a tough interview.  There is plenty to read when you stop by; including an original apple poem by Matthew:  "The Apple Tree."

Stop by Linda Baie's blog, Teacher Dance, where she shares a story sure to lift your spirits.  Take a moment to read the Mary Oliver poem she shares, Wild Geese.  Make sure you click over to read the poem in it's entirety.  You'll be glad you did.  

Tara at A Teaching Life reminds us of the importance of slowing down a bit as she shares Robert Hedin's poem, "This Morning I Could Do a Thousand Things."  

If you've ever had a kitten you know exactly what Marileta is talking about in her original poem, "Whew."  You'll love the beautiful language used in this delightful poem of a kitten full of energy.  

Time for a little haiku.  Stop by Anastasia's blog, Poet!  Poet!, to read Sleepyhead.  I thought of the sun a little differently after reading this haiku.  

Mortimer is a busy guy.  He's visiting Tricia at Miss Rumphius Effect where she shares a poem she wishes she wrote and another she loves from long ago.  

As you go through the poems from Poetry Friday you begin to see threads.  For example, we have the obvious visits from Mortimer happening across blogs, there is also a little form challenge that appears now and again, there is the recurring thoughts of fall, and also one might notice a movement to slow down from the busy pace of life.  

Today Liz is reminding us to slow down as she shares one of her favorite Ted talks and a poem inspired by it, Cloud Watching.  

Heidi brings the busyness of school together in her original poem, The Dishwasher of My Mind, at My Juicy Little Universe.  

At Tapestry of Words, Becky shares just a taste of a poem from the poetry collection An Eyeball in My Garden.  You'll want to stop by to read her thoughts on this poetry book that had her laughing and wanting to read more.  

Do you remember spinning round and round until you collapsed in laughter nearly sick?  Well, today Joy shares her original rhyme that may have come from just spinning until poetry popped out, Little Rhymes, at Poetry for Kids Joy.  

Dia shares the Demon Snag, by 12 year old Eva, the heroine-poet from her middle grade novel, Eva of the Farm.  

It seems these days everywhere I look I see the web of a spider.  Jone weaves a web in her original poem, Orbweavers, at Check It Out.  Apparently, she has noticed this too.

At All About the Books, Janet shares one of my newer favorites:  A Full Moon Is Rising.  Seems perfect since I noticed a full moon hanging in the night sky on my way home this evening.  Stop by to read more about it.  

Myra, at Gathering Books, shares a creepy poem by Margaret Atwood, Questioning the Dead.  Surely perfect for October --- and slumber parties?  

Jen, at Teach Mentor Texts, shares her original poem Speak Up as she ponders all the would haves and should haves we consider after difficult conversations.  

Wowza!  So many great links...so little time.  That took quite some time, but well worth it.   You'll find many treasures in this virtual poetry parade.  

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Just 15 minutes

Life has been busy.  It's busy for everyone.  I find when I get busy I have to let some things go, and keeping up with this blog is always one of them.  Today I'm rethinking that...

It's 7:53.

Today is Slice of Life.  In March I joined the month long challenge once again.  After March was over I decided I was going to try to continue with the Tuesday Slice of Life posts.  I did really well for awhile; writing a slice, reading at least three, and then leaving comments.  Soon I didn't have time to write and would stop by a few posts to comment.  Then I was reading a few and not leaving a comment.  Then it just seemed hard to keep up.  I've missed this weekly community so today I've decided I'm going to find time for this post.  I've decided all I need is 15 minutes.

You see, recently at a writing retreat Brenda Power has had me rethinking productivity.  She's caused me to pause and rethink writing time a bit.  I've always felt I need a large block of time to write, but maybe sometimes 15 minutes is all I really need.  She talked a lot about the power of just finding small pockets of time to write.  It was something to think about.

It wasn't long until this idea was reinforced by Ruth Ayres when she visited Central Ohio recently and spoke with Literacy Connection participants.  She gave us two different writing time periods less than 15 minutes.  It was interesting to see how much could really be accomplished in less than fifteen minutes.  I realize how many times ideas slip through my fingers because I don't take time to write.

So I've been rethinking 15 minutes.  Yes, I've been rethinking writing time, but also a lot of things I have a hard time finding enough time to do.  I've started keeping a list of things I can do in 15 minutes.  When I find myself with a few minutes I just look at the list.  I've also started trying to find 15 minutes to write quickly.

In 15 minutes I can:

  • take time for a 15 minute clean (This is my new favorite.  I just set a timer and clean as much as I can in 15 minutes...it's a lot less of a commitment.)
  • clean off my dresser
  • complete a quick write about an idea so it is ready for my return 
  • jot a quick poem
  • make a list 
  • go through the dreaded mail stack
  • put dishes in the dishwasher
  • fold a load of clothes
  • scan my Twitter feed
  • read a few blog posts
  • clean out my car
  • read a few Slice of Life posts
It's 8:08.  My 15 minutes are up.  

What do you find you can do in just 15 minutes?  

One Little Word 2020

As Christmas approached this year, I looked at the calendar and took a deep breath.  We were out of school on Friday and everyone was arri...