Thursday, January 30, 2014

Another snow day....or rather another snowy day

Photo: My big black dog.
Freya carries in a blanket of snow. I try to grab her with a big towel before she shakes.

Writing this morning before school. Going to try to hop on the trainer for a bit, too.

Rafi and Maddie, the characters in the novel I'm working on, have me hooked and all I want to do is write, but then comes a little thing like school.
Rafi is a Muslim and Maddie has grown up in a conservative Christian home. They are both fighting the frac-sand minds, and they fall in love. They're smart, so of course they talk about their religions. I'm worried about too much "talkiness" sometimes, but I guess I will have to read the whole thing aloud and see. It's sort of pouring onto the page.
All I want to do is write. I already said that.

Yes, this is the novel where both kids go to St. Peter High School. 

Saturday, January 25, 2014

I was higly insulted this morning...

When I woke, I saw what I thought was a mouse turd on my phone! On my night stand! I have a cat, that crazy Katniss, and besides, what ballsy mouse would dare make a deposit one and a half feet from my head during the night?

Well, I put on my glasses and picked up my phone. Turned out to be a Boxelder bug wing. Farsightedness sucks, but in this case, it was a relief.

Monday, January 20, 2014

January 20, MLK Day

A good day to remember how important it is to make sure everyone gets equal rights, equal opportunity, and equal chances.

Is that realistic? No, and the longer I live, the more I see that level playing fields aren't a reality. We can each do our best to make sure that we are not part of any system that perpetuates oppression, that students and any other people in our charge not only get a fair shake, but get encouragement and see what's possible. But we can't make sure that anyone gets a level playing field.

I had so much fun two Wednesdays ago (January 8) in Marshall, MN at the Southwest Cooperative Young Writers' Conference. Students were eager and engaged. Freya and I had fun meeting students and spending the day talking about writing.

Then I many of those eager young writers will publish the books they want to? Will working long hours, piles of other responsibilities, the need to keep bread on the table, keep them from realizing their dreams? Maybe, but some will reach their dreams, and having a dream is as important than being successful in many, many ways.

I'm a big Downton Abbey fan. I don't watch live TV much at all, but I've caught up to season four on Netflix and Amazon Prime. It reminds me of the sharp divide of class. We pride ourselves that in the U.S., such classism doesn't exist, but that's a lie. If we think we have no such class divides in the U.S., we are living with our heads in the sand.

Look at what money can do without regard for its effects: Fracking destroys property, health, animals, and long-standing family ranches or farms because big oil and gas companies have the money to do so.  Frac-Sand mining is doing the same thing in Minnesota and Wisconsin because Fracking is such a big industry that the silica sand miners can get what they want, take the property or make it worthless, mine the silica, sell it for billions, no matter how many people the company tromps all over in order to do so.

Lime Township has been up in arms for most of two years, battling the new Jordan Sands processing plant and mines. What's happened? The entire township full of citizens can't stop the power of a big wealthy company with the potential to make billions more.

Class? Money? Yeah, my friends, I'm afriad it's everywhere.
This could be very depressing, and if we let it, it is. However, the fact remains that we have to each do everything we can, to chase our dreams and to make the world as just and safe as possible. To fight injustice and the greedy destruction of our planet however we can.

If we don't, then we are living with our heads in the sand.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Happiness takes a different shape

Happiness as you age takes on a different shape.
Not so much setting out cookies for Santa
As cleaning up the crumbs afterward, smiling,
Satisfaction with the illusion.

Not so much stumbling down Christmas steps
To tear bright Santa-laden paper
But the settling into a rocker, after
Surveying a paper-strewn living room
In the glow of tree lights you assembled
December 26 before your children came home
When you finally had an evening
Without work.

The joy of rest.
The joy of action.

The joy of climbing a hill
With a three-year-old towing his sled
The pushing of the happy ones, screaming
Bigger even than the thrill of descent
Which is still a joy.
You want to ride the toboggan when you’re eighty.
When Alec has to protect your bones from the
slide downhill.
You want to go down, laughing.


I can’t imagine my own grandma
Playing with me in the snow.
She was always working.
There were evenings when we all sat
And played cards,
Afternoons when my brother and I
Sat, doing homework for Bible School
When she and Grandpa John sat
at the kitchen table with us,
and a day we wrote our own version of
the delightful ironic children’s book
Brave Daniel.
Grandpa caught the spirit of irony
And wrote, “I killed a fly.”
Grandma, the literalist, said, “I killed a snake with a spade.”
That’s all I remember from the afternoon:
The contrast of the two.

But how I loved them both
But I remember my grandma
As sweetness
And cookies
And an apron.
And the funniest story she had to tell
On herself was showing up at church
To be organist, slipping off her coat
And finding
her apron still around her waist.

She made the best cookies in the world
as did her daughter
my mother who inherited each recipe.

But my grandma never played.

I am working in the kitchen and
Three-year-old Alec comes to me,
“Nannie, will you play with me?”
And oh, I set everything aside.
Everything. We can microwave dinner
Or have Kraft macaroni and cheese from a box,
But oh, I will not say
“No, I cannot play with you because I’m busy.”
Because years are too fleeting and you’re already growing
So tall,
and I screwed up
Enough with your parents’ generation,
I will give anything and all I can to you,
Little one.
Not stuff, not things—I don’t have enough money
But I will play with you
Until my knees give out.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

LOOK! It's Medusa!

 My Capstone Book from Medusa's point of view will be out soon!

Medusa Tells All: Beauty Missing, Hair Hissing

Loved writing this book!
 Medusa Tells All: Beauty Missing, Hair Hissing

A new year, and reflections, goals, and all that

I always tell my comp classes about Emmitt Smith. I'm not a big NFL fan (or even a little one), but I read an article about Emmitt in Sports Illustrated while in the Orthopedic and Fracture Clinic waiting room once. He says that his high school football coach told him, "A dream is a dream until you write it down. Then it becomes a goal." Therefore, I make my comp students dream about their life in ten years--writing down their fantasy life; then, they have to formulate three goals for the semester. I almost always (or at least once a year) do this with them.

The point of this rambling? To write down my goals. Here. Publicly. So my friends and acquaintances who glance at this blog will help hold me accountable. I have found that a buddy in the goal-setting business is helpful.

1. Finish my novel, the title of which is Who the Frack is Maddie Jackson?
2. Get back in shape, race the Minnesota senior games, and ride at least two centuries: "The Ironman" at the end of April, and The "Jesse James" in September. (I read an article in  Bicycling about several people who collectively lost over 600 pounds through riding and eating right. For some reason, that was a kick in the butt to get back on the wagon of paying attention to what I eat and riding in a way that you could actually call training. I also just received an email about the National Senior Games. A few pictures of some senior athlete women's arms reminded me that I can get truly fit no matter how old I am. I've always been pretty fit, and reasonably competitive. I have let it slide lately. It's hard to make writing a priority AND riding a priority, but it can be done, and I'm going to do it.
3. Keeping a balance. Keeping up with schoolwork, and still doing the above two priorities which are the work of my soul.
It's hard for me to make the two things that are a priority for my own soul (versus school which is ever-present) when I am overwhelmed with work to do. Maybe I'll assign fewer assignments. I always say that and rarely do it.

Less important to me:
4. Trying to get my finances in better order. When you don't have enough money, and your monthly teacher income barely covers all the bills (it does, but barely), it's hard to make this any kind of priority because it's so depressing, especially in light of all the hours I work every week all year. However, I'm actually determined to put some effort into this. I just made a new budget, and I'm going to file taxes in February instead of April this year. Those are starters.