Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Oh! I almost forgot!

Happy 20th Anniversary
to my best friend, my rock, my husband!

abstract hearts painting


frame full of yellow rubber duckies
I would like to dedicate this poem to all our brothers and sisters around the world who turn their faces toward the white heat of oppression and claim their due. Marge Piercy is one of my favorite poets (yes, I have a few) and I find her work strong and moving. If ever there was a poet for the revolution, it is her.

-Marge Piercy

What can they do
to you? Whatever they want.
They can set you up, they can
bust you, they can break
your fingers, they can
burn your brain with electricity,
blur you with drugs till you
can't walk, can't remember, they can
take your child, wall up
your lover. They can do anything
you can't stop them
from doing. How can you stop
them? Alone, you can fight,
you can refuse, you can
take what revenge you can
but they roll over you.

But two people fighting
back to back can cut through
a mob, a snake-dancing file
can break a cordon, an army
can meet an army.

Two people can keep each other
sane, can give support, conviction,
love, massage, hope, sex.

Three people are a delegation,
a committee, a wedge. With four
you can play bridge and start
an organization. With six
you can rent a whole house,
eat pie for dinner with no
seconds, and hold a fund raising party.
A dozen make a demonstration.
A hundred fill a hall.
A thousand have solidarity and your own newsletter;
ten thousand, power and your own paper;
a hundred thousand, your own media;
ten million, your own country.

It goes on one at a time,
it starts when you care
to act, it starts when you do
it again and they said no,
it starts when you say We
and know you who you mean, and each
day you mean one more.

From "The Moon is Always Female", published by
Alfred A. Knopf, Copyright 1980 by Marge Piercy.


I just found the most wonderful thing. As I was carousing around on the internet, I happened upon Poetry 180: A Poem A Day For American High Schools, a site by former poet laureate, Billy Collins, and part of the Library of Congress.

Japanese style silk painting of large waves with mountain peak in background in blues and browns
"Poetry 180 is designed to make it easy for students to hear or read a poem on each of the 180 days of the school year. I have selected the poems you will find here with high school students in mind. ... Listening to poetry can encourage students and other learners to become members of the circle of readers for whom poetry is a vital source of pleasure. I hope Poetry 180 becomes an important and enriching part of the school day."

The first poem in the list is by Mr. Collins, himself, entitled -
how appropriate:

I ask them to take a poem
and hold it up to the light
like a color slide

or press an ear against its hive.

I say drop a mouse into a poem
and watch him probe his way out,

or walk inside the poem's room
and feel the walls for a light switch.

I want them to waterski
across the surface of a poem
waving at the author's name on the shore.

But all they want to do
is tie the poem to a chair with rope
and torture a confession out of it.

They begin beating it with a hose
to find out what it really means.

from The Apple that Astonished Paris, 1996
University of Arkansas Press, Fayetteville, Ark.

Copyright 1988 by Billy Collins. All rights reserved.

I have added the link to Poetry 180 on the left. It is a great idea from a poet I truly enjoy. There are many names in the poetry list I am unfamiliar with, and that gives me a chance to broaden my own horizons. Who knows, I may even find a new favorite or two (or three).

You can find the Poetry 180 Homepage on the link to the Library of Congress Poetry and Literature Center. It is definitely worth perusing. A permanent link to the Library's home page is offered at left, also under NEXUS.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Some Ramblings

girl reading while lying in field of yellow flowers

One of my daily news sources is the British Guardian, and today as I was reading, I ran across an article on Siobhan Dowd. Her book Bog Child, which she finished just three months before her death from cancer, has taken the Carnegie medal for children's literature. She is its first posthumous winner. What struck me most was a quote included in the article. She said,

"If a child can read, they can think, and
if a child can think, they are free."

I agree so very much. As a tutor for many years, I've seen a direct correlation between literacy and quality of life. As teachers we are charged with an awesome task, often under challenging circumstances. But we must never lose sight of its importance. If you're interested, here is the link to that article.

six brightly dressed children in a row reading booksWhile sorting some papers I ran across this. It's just titled Hebrew Proverb.

"A child is not a vessel to be filled,
but a lamp to be lit."

Thursday, June 25, 2009


Does this sound familiar?
Any idea where it comes from?

"...and accordingly all Experience hath shewn, that Mankind are more disposed to suffer, while Evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the Forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long Train of Abuses and Usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object, evinces a Design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their Right, it is their Duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future Security,"

Right! It's our own Declaration of independence.

photo of actual declaration of independenceHere are some related links you might be interested in:

The charters of freedom
The Library of congress
School house rock / Preamble
School house rock / Declaration of Independence

My kids just LOVED School House Rock. Who am I kidding? So did I.
I think it's a great tool for use in the classroom, to augment the curriculum.


I am always touched by the poetry of Langston Hughes.
His images are strong, painted with the sure hand of an artist.

hands holding jail bars black and white pic

- Langston Hughes

Now dreams
Are not available
To the dreamers,
Nor songs
To the singers.

In some lands
Dark night
And cold steel
But the dream
Will come back,
And the song
Its jail.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009


square peg round hole

Periodically, I post an offering from a book called Teaching With Fire, edited by Sam M. Intrator & Megan Scribner. It is not a book that you need to read from front to back. In fact, I tend to browse until something resonates. Todays' offering is credited 'Courtesy of Apple Computer.' I think it was originally a kind of advertisement, but it seems strangely appropriate somehow. 

Think Different

Here's to the crazy ones.
The misfits.
The rebels.
The troublemakers.

The round pegs in the square holes.
The ones who see things differently.
They're not fond of rules.
And they have no respect for the status quo.

You can praise them, disagree with them, quote them,
disbelieve them, glorify or vilify them.
About the only thing you can't do is ignore them.
Because they change things.

They invent. They imagine. They heal.
They explore. They create. They inspire.
They push the human race forward.
Maybe they have to be crazy.

How else can you stare at an empty canvas and see a work of art?
Or sit in silence and hear a song that's never been written?
Or gaze on a red planet and see a laboratory on wheels?
We make tools for these kinds of people.
While some see them as the crazy ones,
we see genius.

Because the people who are crazy enough to think
they can change the world, are the ones who do.

Monday, June 22, 2009


In Foundation, Issac Asimov said (as Salvor Hardin) "Violence is the last refuge of the incompetent."

Our world seems to be awash in incompetence these days.

Political discussions are so often bereft of common sense or empathy, something that frustrates and confounds me. We look at the struggles in the world around us, and often forget that we have been there too. It can be very tempting to step in where we are not needed, but just as devastating are the times we fail with our support when it is needed. I'm not talking about guns and bombs, but a true respect for all human rights, the spirit of our own constitution; forgetting economics, and saying, "No! This is unacceptable!"

I am following the valiant struggle for justice going on in Iran at this moment. There is so much I would like to say, but my thoughts are muddled so silence would be the better choice.

The green ribbon at left is their symbol for victory, and below it I have posted a feed with current information. It links to The Daily Dish, by Andrew Sullivan, a respected British blogger and political commentator. There is an almost real time following of the events on the internet as they unfold. The internet has given us a way around the censorship and propaganda of the oppressors as well as the disinterest of a profit driven media.

Thursday, June 18, 2009


I received my birthday present two months early this year, and I am so excited about it! I've just begun playing with it, and I think it is something to share here. It is a PULSE PEN by LIVESCRIBE.
pulse pen on paper
I write, and have always started longhand. I then entered it into the computer to revise. If I wanted to work on a piece, say, at a coffee shop, I'd have to print it out again and then reenter the new changes. What about a laptop, you query? Well, I haven't always had one, and even when I finally did, it wasn't always as convenient as it was cracked up to be. (Plugs/battery life, space & security issues, etc.)

Soooooooo ...

I had been looking at writing options for people with motor disabilities, and the thing they have most in common is high price. Universal Design for Living, however is gaining momentum in our fast paced, digital world. Who knew that things made for the convenience of "normal" people, (and I write that with tongue firmly in cheek) would be helpful to those with disabilities?
livetext screen
The Pulse Pen can actually record a lecture while you are writing and connect it to your notes so that you capture a more complete picture. This is important for those with motor issues as well as those with attention and input issues. Write key words and the program indexes the recording with what you wrote and when you wrote it (so you can keep actual writing to a minimum). When you get home, put the pen in its cradle and it all is uploaded. I have a MAC Air Book, and installation was effortless.

I am not describing it well, so you need to go to the website.
pen laptop and notebook
Oh, and I mentioned price before. The 2G model was priced reasonably - much better than some products built specifically for those with disabilities. The key is to know what you need from a program or device, and find one that meets that need. The pool of choices is expanding and I, for one am excited.

The saga will continue ...

Wednesday, June 17, 2009


There once was a young man from Lyme  
Who couldn't get his limericks to rhyme  
When asked "Why not?"  
It was said that he thought  
They were probably too long and badly structured and not at all very funny.


large orange daisy

How is your summer going? 
Mine? Well have you ever heard the ancient curse that goes, "May you live in interesting times?" Well, I'm there!

Job hunt is not going so well. I hope you all are having better luck. Who in their right mind chooses a career where you go to school for seven years only to get pink slipped yearly and blamed for all of society's ills? Oops! My discouragement is showing. 

I know I'm hooked for life though. The time spent in the classroom is worth all the rest of the pain. (Don't tell any prospective employers though; they might expect me to work for free.)

Monday, June 8, 2009


cowbird on branch with cherry blossoms
This has been a sad week in the world. I know, it really hasn't been that much different than the week before, or the week before that. Maybe that is why it seems so sad. When I was younger, my anger was quick to spark and flash at the injustices and blindness. But now - I just feel sad. There is so much I will never understand. This is not a political forum, so I will simply ask: How can people say they have love for others when they know nothing of compassion, and take delight in their suffering?

Two lines from an e.e. Cummings poem, You Shall Above All Things, have been stuck in my head all week. (Maybe they'll stick in yours.)

I'd rather learn from one bird how to sing
than teach ten thousand stars how not to dance

Monday, June 1, 2009


If it was important then, maybe it is important now.

Just thinking.