Saturday, December 20, 2008


Yes. Second semester finals are over, and Christmas break is here. The school year is halfway complete.

Friday night I staggered out of the car for the house, the sacred laptop and my trusty bag of ungraded papers in tow (we don't have to report final grades until the fifth of January), in a state of shock, weariness, holiday cheer and reckless, heady glee. The Older Daughter was spending the night with a friend; The Younger Daughter had a friend spending the night with us, and ahead stretched two blessed weeks of Christmas break. I was finally going to get enough sleep (no more 16 hour days at school!), be able to leave a pencil or ballpoint pen out on my desk without someone borrowing it interminably, and make headway on the pile of laundry threatening to swallow the cats.

Today I discovered that the washer is broken. I squeezed water out of the clothes and threw them in the dryer, blessing my husband for having brought home a new drying rack this afternoon and wondering if everyone has enough clean underwear to make it until someone can fix the poor washer. Great Scott complimented me on my calm reaction to the discovery that the spin cycle is now nonexistent. Truthfully? That washer has worked well for seventeen years (save for the time it ate a baby sock and got indigestion). It's had fewer breakdowns than I have. It deserves a few days off, too.

I suppose if I need to visit the laundrymat, I can take the opportunity to journal while I'm waiting. Oddly enough, I've not been journaling, although not for lack of material. Like blogging, journaling has been difficult to find the time to actually do. My head has been full of students (I even dream about them or their assignments, often), but many of the things I've observed or experienced or had shared with me, I've hesitated to write down, even in my journals. I struggle with determining what things belong to me to write about and what things should forever belong simply to my students. According to a great many writers I've read, this excludes me from writerhood most absolutely, since writers should supposedly respect no one's experiential privacy when good material is concerned. I do not know if I can go along with that. I suspect I can't. Several times a week I pick up a pen or come here to post, consider the things my students share, the lives they live, the people they are and are becoming, and I lay the pen aside or sigh and delete the half-written post. (Blogging, of course, presents a particularly complicated ethical dilemma, since some of my students know about Quotidian Light and occasionally check in.)

Plenty of quirky things go on everyday that are perfectly bloggable, however; I just need to take the time to write them. Hopefully the break will help. Thanks to those of you who wrote comments or e-mails of encouragement, letting me know Quotidian Light's posts were missed. You were welcome reminders that life outside Mrs. Lawson's classroom still exists.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008


The skies this morning were deeply overcast and grey. They're clearing now, but I am not.

The light is dim.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Attack of the ROUS-es

Two and a half weeks into teaching I have already been thrown to the mercy of the ROUS-es (Ridiculous Oratory and Uncomfortable Shoes). The first encounters happened quickly. School began on a Thursday, and by Friday afternoon, I had broken blisters on the backs of my heels. Lesson learned: Do not break in a new pair of shoes at school, no matter how comfortable they may have felt in the store. As for the Ridiculous Oratory...well, let's just say I've heard it at length from someone whose job it is to deliver it, and, no, I'm not speaking of any of my administrators or colleagues. Of the two, I would endure the broken blisters any day. Lesson learned: There's a perfectly appropriate time to lock yourself into the French teacher's room and engage in unauthorized multi-lingual...expression.

The teaching is a mixed sort of experience. I teach 7 class periods a day, three of which are the same course. This means I have five different classes for which to prepare, and herein lies my struggle. I am a depth person, a person who values quality over quantity. In the past two and a half weeks it has been becoming abundantly clear that this is a path to sure burnout when it comes to a teacher's job in the public education system, at least for the first one to three years (the time estimate is based on input from other teachers). I stay late most nights, go back to the school to plan on Saturdays and sometimes Sundays, and most of the time I hit some point at which my mind balks and simply closes down at the sheer amount of information I'm expected to convey and the information I absolutely must assimilate, myself. This is the bad news, the struggle.

Teaching does have its upside, too. My personal upside the past couple of weeks has been the debate--actually a communications--class. I didn't expect this, but the five students who are in it are more good natured and willing than I ever might have expected or even hoped. They don't strike me as particularly likely to hang out together in a general social setting, but they work (and banter) well together in class and with me, and I am very, very grateful for them. The creative writing class is usually fun, again good natured, and is small, also, which allows us to do more experimental types of things like going outside to write or watching the kindergarteners' very first gym class for character sketch material. I'm hoping the small size will allow us to workshop as a class, as well. The folklore class at 8:30 in the morning is more of a challenge due mostly to the time of day. We've covered fool tales and riddle tales and lying tales and story tales so far, and I think we're going to dive into fairy tales next. Because we live in the Ozarks, I would love to look at some specifically Ozarks folktales, but the only ones I have acutally studied were in a course at MSU entitled "Bawdy Ozark Folktales". The course was a hoot; we used Vance Randolph's book, Pissing in the Snow and loved every minute of it. Unfortunately, I don't think that would fly for a high school class. Maybe I can get my hands on a copy of Who Blowed up the Church House instead.

Some of you reading this are familiar with the kind of stress related issues with which I tend to deal. If you are, let me just say that prayer would not be inappropriate at this juncture. I'm dealing, but barely. Enough said.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

In the Woods: Part Two

I do not answer naturally to the name "Mrs. Lawson." For substitute teaching purposes, I learned to do so last spring, but it wasn't a quick thing. Mostly I was used to being called, "Hey, [The Older Daughter]'s Mom!" This will change. A lot is going to change.

A week ago one of the high school English teachers resigned unexpectedly from my daughters' school. This last Friday evening I was approved by the school board for the position. In three weeks I will be responsible for seven classes every day. The final schedule is not yet in my hand, but the preliminary one has me teaching creative writing and folklore/mythology as well as multiple sections of sophomore English and a couple of other classes.

Thus, it is settled. I have looked into the woods and there I have seen my fate: great looming grizzlies of state requirements, acres and acres of towering stacks of papers to grade, ROUS's (Ridiculous Oratory and Uncomfortable Shoes) and in the deepest, darkest depths of the educational forest, Julius Caesar himself lurking sulkily in a cave while Brutus lumbers about with the conspirators making reassuring and flattering noises to draw him out.

Someone hand me the bag of breadcrumbs. I'm going in.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Into the Woods

Funny, isn't it, how lives are lived in chapters, how changes can be effected in a matter of weeks or days, turning the order of our comfortable (or excruciating) lives around, flipping them upside down and leaving them resembling nothing we would have ever anticipated? Sometimes our own actions precipitate those changes; sometimes they're entirely out of our control. Either way, there's no going back. Things have been altered permanently. Even if we try to undo whatever action opened the chapter--such as getting a divorce or giving the child up for adoption--we're now someone we weren't when the first page was turned. We can't write it over; we have to go on as the characters we've become.

Here at Possum Box Lane, big changes are afoot, changes we (mostly I) set into motion, but certainly not changes I ever expected to come about as quickly as they are. It's dizzying. At more than one point I have found myself blinking in stunned confusion somewhere beyond not only words but also comprehension. By next week the plot will almost certainly be set in its new direction, although whether I'll find myself in an enchanted forest or a thorny maze remains to be seen. Either way, it's into the woods.

(Disclaimer: I might add here that neither my marriage to Great Scott or the familial status of our children are in any way at risk. Not even a jot.)

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Corvus Moon

The artists I admired most last year at White Hart Renaissance Faire were from Corvus Moon Ceramic Arts. They made various pots, vases, pipkins and other pieces on site; everything from shaping the clay to firing was done before one's eyes.

I fell in love with several pieces, of course, but one had to come home with me. Its glaze gleams with coppers, blues, golds, greens and purples, and the ginko leaf is the perfect finishing touch. Full of Queen Anne's lace, it makes a perfect centerpiece.

White Hart Renaissance Faire 2008

Lately Quotidian Light has been getting hits for people searching for information on White Hart Renaissance Faire. Well, I've got good news.

YES! It's happening again this year! Come one, come all!

June 21-22, 28-29 and July 5-6, 2008
Saturdays 10:00am-7:00pm, Sundays 10:00am-6:00pm

A map and directions can be found here. We've not been yet this year, but last year's faire was wonderful.

There were arms demonstrations:

A magician who captured memories of the faire straight out of your ear:

Cavalry demonstrations:

Falconry education and demonstrations (one of my favorites):

And Queen Elizabeth herself, presiding over the festivities:

There is nothing quite like White Hart. Highly recommended!

Sunday, June 22, 2008


We're in a busy stage of life, Great Scott and myself. The girls are old enough to have begun after school and summer activities; Great Scott works long hours; I've begun subbing when school is in, and last month I began ABCTE's teacher certification program to obtain a certificate to teach English in Missouri secondary schools. While this route to certification is going to save us a lot of money and a lot of time, while it allows me to do work online and here at home (save for the tests and the student teaching experiences, which will come later), the work still needs to be done, and I'm doing it while keeping up with the girls' activities and my grandmother's medical appointments. Summer has given us a bit of a slow-down, yes, but Great Scott is still taking a graduate class four days a week in a city an hour away, working on two degree papers and finishing up the yearbook for the 2007-08 school year where he teaches. It's easy for each of us to forget what the other looks like.

This weekend my mother took the girls to Steal Yer Dollar City (a.k.a. Silver Dollar City) all day Saturday, leaving Great Scott with a sizable gift certificate for Borders bookstore. The temptation was too great. Off we went, tra-la-la, here-we-go-round-the-mulberry-bush.

It had been a long time since I've spent time alone with my husband being silly, and silly we were. We made smart remarks, played at being cynics, played at curmudgeonry, played at obliviousness and simpletonry, played at making the other laugh--lots of this. We browsed the bookstore, laughed in the parking lot, got frozen custard at a place we used to frequent when we were dating and first married, laughed on the way home, and we laughed after we got home. We picked on each other mercilessly the entire time, and we loved every minute of it.

Sometimes it's very difficult to remember a time when my mind and identity weren't entirely tied up with responsibilities, schedules, censored motherhood and things-to-remember-so-that-no-one-starves-and-the-electricity
-stays-on. This weekend I remembered.

Today we spent the day at Great Scott's father's farm, where we celebrated both their birthdays and a belated Father's Day. Sometime after lunch I slipped outside to look at the lilies and hollyhocks in the yard and joined The Younger Daughter in the hammock. After a bit The Younger Daughter went off to learn to shoot a gun--she turned out to be amazingly good at it--and I was left alone under the light-dappled leaves, a cool breeze stirring the hem of my gypsy skirt about my ankles as I lay back and closed my eyes. I drifted off amid the wind and whispering grasses, and no one came to call me back. It was utterly restful (rest full).

This next week will be a busy one again. The "Little House" play practices are upping the times from one practice a week to two, both five hours long; my grandmother has a doctor's appointment, we're taking the girls to see Cats! one night, and I have another section of my English/Language Arts course to complete. I've tucked away this weekend, though; I'm keeping it deep within, ready to bring out and enjoy in stolen moments. It was very, very good.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Friday Quote: On the Home Library

"The library is a room that contains human wisdom. Call it a room that reflects our relationship with knowledge. Because knowledge is like anything else--when you love it, you want to do something for it. Sometimes you want to build it a beautiful room, which is exactly what the English did, with steadfast elegance, for centuries."

Akiko Busch
Geography of Home

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Thirteen Marriage Tips for Bibliophiles

1. Budget for books the way you do for food and electricity...or you won't have food and electricity.
2. Read each other's books.
3. Keep separate accounts at the used bookstore.
4. Books are paper. Paper is good insulation. Line the walls of your house with bookcases. Fill them. It's the environmentally responsible thing to do.
5. Read aloud to each other.
6. Keep stray dishes, flowerpots, etc... handy to throw during arguments, lest you be tempted to throw books.
7. Respect each other's differing literary tastes.
8. To communicate with a spouse who is reading a book, replace his or her bookmark with a note.
9. James Fenimore Cooper is your friend.
10. Work out a shelving system together to ensure both of you can find the books you need when you need them.
11. For the sake of your financial stability, do not often shop for books together.
12. A bookless parlor is a howling wilderness.
13. Buy only one copy of books you both love. The thought of having to buy replacement copies is an excellent divorce deterrent.

Friday, June 06, 2008

Wind and Windows

It is drawing nigh unto two in the morning, and here I sit (again) in front of a computer screen. Outside the windows the wind is winding itself up, scattering my papers across the table behind me and throwing small twigs from the trees into the yard. Soon full storms are supposed to erupt. Not to worry, the weatherman tells us, the tornadoes that are likely to form tonight should be small ones. Both girls were downstairs moments ago complaining of the heat. When I went to check, they'd turned off the fan and closed all the windows upstairs. No wonder. I opened the windows, plugged in the fan and tucked them back in, reassuring them that I'd come shut the windows again when the rain begins.

I hated closed windows as a child. My attic rooms were always hot and stuffy, the indoor silences thick around my face, stifling. I needed wind across my skin and the sound of peeper song and insect chants to lull me to sleep, reminders that the world was a bigger place than my bed, my little room, my parents' house. Some of my favorite nighttime memories are of sleeping outside under an open sky and waking to watch the treetops dance wildly as the wind picked up, and faint rumbles and flashes of distant light in the west announced the approach of more powerful weather.

I grew up attending stuffy churches with shut windows, but the faith I somehow stumbled into anyway remains. I don't know why I still believe, given the effort I've undergone to abandon that faith and the often excruciating difficulty of the journeys I've had to make to reclaim it. Perhaps the answer lies in the fact that the story rings true to me with a deeper truth than fact alone. Like fairy tales, it carries something I need to survive: adventure, beauty, strength, hope, a wind that blows from beyond the edge of the small world I've known, a wind that throws my life into crazed disorder and makes breath possible.

Faith and Faerie, I've been told, are incompatible. One cannot believe in both miracle and magic. One should not open windows in the wind.


Wednesday, June 04, 2008

The Carcass Chronicles: Part One--On 'Possums and Lawn Mowers

The low for the night is 72 degrees F, which means the daytime temps here are considerably higher, higher and humid, to boot. Somewhere in the yard something is dead. It could be something small (or part of something small) that the cats have killed and so very thoughtfully left under the window for us, or it could be something big that is in the field. Either way, leaving the windows open on the west side of the house is a mixed sort of blessing. The breeze is nice. The smell is not.

When I was a girl, we used to have a dog that was covered in curly, white, fluffy hair, poodle hair. Happy was an exclusively outdoor dog, but even if he hadn't have been all year, he would have been in the summer. There was very little he loved more than to find dead carcasses and roll in them. He'd go out in the woods or the field and come back with dark greenish brown patches in his fur, smelling like he'd been picking up vultures in bars. Poor thing! He never understood why my brother and I refused to pet him or play with him when he'd obviously gone to all the trouble to make himself more enjoyable for all concerned, from a doggy point of view. Sometimes Happy would even bring home a nice ripe one, so we could have it for our very own.

My sister wasn't any more appreciative of Happy's offerings than were my brother and I, but she was more creative than we'd been when it came to dealing with them. Evidently one of Happy's 'possums (his favorite flavor) hit optimum ripeness the same day my father decided it was time my sister learned to mow the yard. "It was big and round and ripe," she later told me, "and I looked at it and thought, 'I wonder what would happen if I ...'"

Yes. She did.

This is why everyone in my family can authoritatively testify to the fact that dead 'possums and lawn mowers don't mix. Just a bit of wisdom to share with the rest of you.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Thirteen Reasons To Love Fairy Tales

I have an inordinate fondness for fairy tales and mythopoetic literature. This evening I've spent several hours at SurLaLune, pouring over annotated fairy tales and their histories, not to mention many, many absolutely gorgeous illustrations. It's an incredible site.

If anyone knows of a graduate program that focuses in on mythopoetic lit or fairy tale lit or literature of the fantastic, drop me a line. Until then, here are thirteen reasons to love fairy tales.

1. Magical powers.

2. Wise women.

3. Brave princes and princesses.

4. Unbearable suffering.

5. Perserverance.

6. Long, flowing hair. (Yes, I know it's terribly girly, but...I'm a girl!)

7. Scary monsters. (See here. If you get this joke, I will write a poem for you of your very own.)

8. Small children being eaten.

9. Good overcoming evil.

10. Forests and thickets and rivers and lakes and thorns and flowers and mountains and castles and cottages.

11. Otherworldly kingdoms.

12. Talking beasts.

13. Journeys of the exterior and interior.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

On Mother's Day...and Easter

Someone I'd consider a cyberfriend of sorts asked what I was given for Mother's Day this year. That would be these teacups. I've got a thing for hot tea, and Great Scott is kind enough to indulge me.

For Easter, he gave me the coolest apron ever.

Friday, May 09, 2008

Hidden Vision

"The virtue of those [respected literary] writers is precisely that they have refused to do what their imitators do so humbly. Each of them has had a vision of the world and has set out to transcribe it, and their work has the forthrightness and vigor of all work that comes from the central core of the personality without deviation or distortion."

--Dorothea Brande
Becoming a Writer

What one has to bring to one's writing, to share with the world, is one's own way of seeing. Especially in my blog writing I usually hide my vision, my way of seeing, rather than drawing my readers into it with me. Instead of honesty, I present a false vision, a substitution, a deceit. It is possible, I suppose, that the masking vision is born of the self that serves most often in my interactions with the outside world. (Ah, the joys of being an INFP, whose deepest convictions and being are most naturally held in reserve!) If so, then the word "deceit" may not be entirely accurate, since my public self is still a genuine, a true representation of my whole. Isn't it?

The other night I began looking over the language arts courses of the online certification program I've begun. I took the quizzes over the various sections, cold, to try to get a sense of where I am in terms of what I'll be expected to know. It's been 18 and a half years since I graduated with my BA, sixteen since I left graduate work. My quiz scores were not as high as I'd hoped. In spite of the fact that my scores had been higher than the average scores of people who take the quizzes after having worked through the courses, I went to bed discouraged and worried, and I woke up feeling worried and overwhelmed.

Out of irritability that morning I scolded The Older Daughter over something inconsequential and caught myself on the verge of tears. Then on the way to school the girls and I were laughing together when a wave of premature nostalgia hit me, choking me up, and I also got sentimental about the terrapins that are beginning to cross the highway, an annual occurrence.

When I realized what was going on and stopped to consider, it struck me that the underlying cause of both the morning's irritability and predisposition to tears was fear. Surprised, I began considering some of the most emotionally volatile periods of my life--high school, college, early marriage, early motherhood. How many of those wild moodswing rides originated from the same material: fear of failure, fear of not measuring up, fear of finding myself utterly unequipped and inadequate for the task at hand?

True vision, it would seem, is not only hidden from others.

Friday, March 07, 2008

Friday Quote: On Poetry and Plastic Flowers

"The cloning of humans is on most of the lists of things to worry about from Science, along with behaviour control, genetic engineering, transplanted heads, computer poetry and the unrestrained growth of plastic flowers."

---Lewis Thomas

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Thirteen Things in My Desk Drawer

Yesterday I came home and swiped at the wide, flat drawer beneath the center of my desktop, intending to open it and grab a pen. It budged, but wouldn't open. I had to drag it open, to my wry displeasure. The reason? Too much stuff crammed in it. Here's a sampling.

1. Umpteen million pens and pencils: ball point, gel, and mechanical. (The fountain pens are set apart, well-nigh sanctified, in fact.)

2. Two pairs of sissors. One for me and one that the children are allowed to use. This is not due to safety factors. This is due to me wanting a pair of sissors that haven't been used to cut industrial grade cardboard to make castles and French log homes.

3. Empty Whitman sampler and Altoids tins. You never know when these will come in handy.

4. Enough mechanical pencil refills to be a lead poisoning health hazard.

5. A stapler. This is not always in residence, as Great Scott and The Daughters borrow it with regularity.

6. Umpteen million erasers, but they're apparently the wrong kind, as I am regularly asked to buy more.

7. Flathead and phillpshead screwdrivers.

8. Coconut brittle.

9. Two miniature screwdriver sets, neither of which are the right size to fix whatever pair of eyeglasses has broken this time.

10. Boxes of staples, brads, two or three different sizes of paperclips, and a box of butterfly clips.

11. Two or three different kinds of staple removers, regardless of the fact that I almost always just use my fingernails. This would explain the shape of my fingernails, I suppose.

12. Occasionally a stray M&M or Skittle. Finding these is just like Christmas, no matter how old they are. Hey, who am I to ask questions about age?

13. Two freerange, vampiric thumbtacks that attack and then scurry away to hide beneath the pens or in a far corner until they feel the need to feed again.

Friday, February 29, 2008

How I Got into this Business and Where It Went Thursday

I didn't intend to do anything but start a writing club at our school. In November I was given permission to do so for the Jr. High and high schools provided I find a certified co-sponser on the current staff and that I obtain a substitute teaching certificate myself. I didn't even have to sub. You know the outcome of the substitute certificate (see the last post). Here continues the story of the originally intended writing club.

Thursday was our first meeting. I knew we'd have 9 students or so. I hoped we might get as many as 12-15. Before the afternoon's club schedule I went into the tiny half-room at the back of the library where we were to meet and waited to see who would arrive. To my amazement, 37 kids managed to cram themselves into that little space. The tables were quickly filled. More lined the walls, standing. Others leaned in the doorway or sat in what little floorspace existed. What's more, they are excited not just about starting a club, but about writing itself. They want to compete. They like the idea of running in-house writing contests not just for the Jr. High and high school, but for the elementary students. Mostly, though, they want to workshop papers with each other, to read each others' work and comment, to have feedback and find ways to improve their writing. They listened to our ideas and hopes for the club; they shared their ideas (good ones) and listened to each other and were in agreement about their goals. They wanted to have after school meetings to workshop, and then someone said, "What about over the summer? Can we do something this summer?" and was echoed.

You could have knocked me over with a feather. I was stunned. Stunned and utterly humbled.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

The Plan...or...Am I Out of My Mind

Lately a question one of my readers asked a long time ago has been haunting me. Seeker once asked if I would ever walk the halls of academia again. My answer was a pretty definite no.

I'm reconsidering.

The last week of January I began substitute teaching in a local high school. While I thought I might survive it pretty well, I did not expect to enjoy it past a vague satisfaction, so I was taken entirely by surprise when after subbing for our French/English teacher for three days running, I found myself bewilderingly and entirely in love...with the kids. This was not supposed to happen. This was not in The Plan.

The Plan, as much as there is ever a plan in my INFP life, was to eventually go back to school to finish a MA or if I was very lucky and somewhere found the energy and self-confidence, an MFA, and acquire a job teaching per course for a college or university in the area, maybe even landing a full-time job with a community college, perhaps in a writing center. Teaching secondary school was not even a consideration. Notta. Notta. Notta.

Yet here I am with an application to admittance to a teacher certification program sitting in an envelope on my dining room table, check enclosed, addressed and stamped. Granted, I put a note on it this morning--"Wait until after Friday to mail this, you fool!"--just in case my four day sub stint in the Family and Consumer Science room this week changes my mind about exactly how much punishment I'm able to take. Nevertheless, my instinct, that deep down knowing at the center, tells me that, yes, indeed, I am going to do this.

I am going to do this, and it will change my life, and there will be no end to it. It will be difficult and hair-pullingly frustrating and utterly exausting and shatteringly glorious beyond my wildest imagining. It will be good.

Friday, February 01, 2008

Friday Quote: On Darkness

"Sometimes I forget that even though the darkness whispers my name it does not tell the truth."

--Beneath the Valley of the Ultra Vixens


In my blog wanderings and perusals over the past three years, I've seen many lists of "Forty Things to do Before I Turn Forty." By the time I thought of composing my own, my time was seriously running out, and I was faced with either making a list of "Forty Things to Accomplish in the Next Nine Minutes" or of finding a creative alternative. (Allow me to offer a small bit of advice: given a choice between Lots of Potentially Emotionally Unhinging Work or a Creative Alternative, go for the latter.)

My alternative to the "Forty Things to do Before I Turn Forty" list? It needed to be something positive, something affirming, something that would help me appreciate the life I've had already and the one I have now rather than laying on the pressure to do more, accomplish more, be more. I needed not a list of things to do, but a list of wonderful things I have done in my first forty years, a list of appreciation and celebration. Therefore...

Forty Things I've Done Before Turning Forty

1. Learned to see God as a very real and compassionate Person rather than a Lurker with a Big Board.

2. Convinced my brother to willingly eat mud.

3. Slept in trees.

4. Jumped out of a barn loft.

5. Earned a writing degree, had success with creative pieces, publication, readings, two Pushcart nominations and served a week long term as Poet in Residence at Bryan College.

6. Been proposed to or seriously co-considered marriage five times.

7. Had a sixth man fall to his knees dramatically before me in a public place, spread his arms wide and sing loudly, "Besa me! Besa me mucho!"

8. Promptly married him.

9. Stayed married 17 years to the above to date.

10. Gave birth to two children with a midwife presiding and no meds.

11. Learned to enjoy poetry. Learned to detest poetry. Learned I can't live without poetry.

12. Enjoyed mathematical theory.

13. Pieced and hand-quilted a quilt from dress scraps.

14. Found out what happens when one puts one end of an electrical cord in one's mouth while the other end is still in the outlet.

15. Learned to cook, yea, even unto a complete Thanksgiving meal for company.

16. Played the piano and the oboe.

17. Walked barefoot through snow.

18. Danced.

19. Put my brother in a tractor tire, rolled him down a hill and survived my mother's wrath afterward.

20. Attended wonderful Renaissance festivals.

21. Played the lead onstage in "Once Upon a Mattress."

22. Sang a solo in Handel's Messiah.

23. Learned to live without medication for an affective disorder--something a diagnosing doctor said I would never do.

24. Lived amid a passion for learning.

25. Discovered a passion for teaching.

26. Learned to live in the midst of prayer.

27. Made peace with an ongoing and difficult relationship from my past.

28. Learned where I fit in my family.

29. Read thousands of astounding, wonderful books.

30. Tutored and taught writing to amazing people.

31. Moderated for the beautiful ladies of LHM's Lighthouse and Covenant Women for several years.

32. Given up an addictive and self-destructive way of "coping."

33. Found the courage to keep/enforce my own boundaries while remaining unruffled.

34. Learned jewelry making.

35. Mentored some incredible young women.

36. Learned to recognize and name flowers, trees and other native plants.

37. Taken up yoga.

38. Kindled a love of books in two children.

39. Laughed nearly every day.

40. Been a student of grace.

Monday, January 14, 2008

A Review: Goblin Fruit Winter 08

So many of the poems in this issue were excellent in either storytelling or wordplay, and so many excelled in both, that I hardly know where to begin in letting you know what I like. Where to start?

JoSelle Vanderhooft's two pieces were, as hers always seem to be, strong. I very much liked "The Explorer's Daughter," but it was "Death Enters a Mother's Service" that had me crouched in front of the monitor scrolling up and down and up again to read and reread. Elements there of Walter de la Mare and Rosetti, strong images and rhythms, heartbreak and beauty. Lovely work.

Robert Borski's "The Bashful Young Swain at the Ogre's Cotillion" made me raise my eyebrows and laugh aloud with pleasure.

Sophanny Marin's "The Choke-Damp"...ah, what a poem. This is definitely one of my favorites, and I need to find a way to let her know. I think that by which I am most struck in this poem is her adeptness in bringing the world of faerie and the modern world into such graceful, frightening and heartbreaking juxtaposition. Well done.

Maureen McQuerry's "Selkie" is a study in wonderful line breaks (always tricky and potentially awkward!) and language that sings in both sound and sense. McQuerry is someone whose work I will be watching in the future. If all her poems are as well crafted as "Selkie" and "Chesire" (another poem I loved in this issue), I can't wait to read her books.

Jennifer Crow's "Twelve Swans" also was exquisite and exceptionally wonderful technically as well as lyrically and narratively. She has a skill in poetic construction that shines as she spins the familiar tale of the twelve swan brothers into a new poetic form with each section. Brava!

And finally, I couldn't comment on Goblin Fruit's Winter 08 issue without mentioning "Revisiting the Maiden's Tower" by Stacy Cowley, a piece that gave--and continues to give--me chills, with its images both beautiful and horrific.

These were probably my favorite pieces, but the other poems were wonderful as well and deserve a read, especially by anyone with an appreciation for mythopoetic literature. Old fairy tales spun in new directions, silk kimonos, ravens, seals, cherries and snow and a saint... It is easy to become lost here. Tie a string to your wrist as you enter, to be sure of finding your way back out.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Publication: Goblin Fruit

This morning a wonderful email waited impatiently in my inbox to be discovered. The Winter '08 issue of Goblin Fruit (which I wrote about earlier) is out at last, and in it, "Night Augur", a poem of my "own pure brain." To my surprise and deep pleasure, the Editors Who Shall Be Adored have even used it as a prologue to the issue, may-their-names-be-praised-forever.

Seriously, I am very happy and very grateful.

(There's even audio!)

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Someday You'll Have Children Just Like You...

The Younger Daughter is the liviliest of our bunch. Great Scott and I are, as The Older Daughter likes to remind us, aged and slow, and her sister, as Great Scott and I like to remind her, is energy conservative (save her father prefers the briefer, 4 letter word in all its simplicity). This means that The Younger Daughter often finds herself wandering about the house forlornly looking for something interesting to do while the other three members of the family are preoccupied. Christmas break has evidently been especially hard on her, but ever the innovative child, she managed to entertain herself with pen and pencil. The results are telling.

Once upon a time there was a little dragon. Now she was a good little dragon. Her family hoarded not gems but books. The little dragon got on nerves a lot. Though she tried her best she always got on other dragons' nerves.

One day she was bored, and she'd read all her Humanology books. So she went to her sister who was reading.

"Leave me alone. I don't have any ideas. Now go away!" her sister snapped. Then she burned the little dragon's backside very fiercely, and the little dragon left her sister to the book.

So the little dragon went to her mother who was also reading.

"I'm bored. Do you have any ideas of what to do?"

Her mom was not in a good mood. "Youngling, you are taking your life into your claws. The only things that stands between you and my snapping sanity is this book!" her mother answered and gave her a good whack with it.

Sadly the little dragon left to find her father. Suddenly her father flew in the lair and removed the umbrella from over the book he brought.

"Daddy..." the little dragon began.

"I'm reading. Leave me alone, Child!" and he lashed her with his tail.

By now the little dragon's backside was hurting miserably, so she made an ice pack and lay down. Then she drew. She drew dragons killing with flame, diamond spear and tail. The her parents came in with her sister and saw the painting and realized the suffering they had caused her and asked for forgiveness, and the little dragon gave them just that, and her family learned to think before they acted.