cricketmuse

a writer's journey as a reader

Old sayings, Last Days of May


It happened again yesterday. In trying to explain something to my students to make it more clear I confused them into verbal anarchy. It doesn’t take much in these last days of May, especially with seniors.

The scene: after lunch class on senior skip day in the midst of analyzing a poem about the aftermath of war. 

Yes-I see that nod of sympathy.

In trying to explain the speaker’s attitude, that there were tones of irony, I dropped in the expression “tongue-in-cheek.” The eight students who did show up to class (only because they could not miss any more days) pretty much lost it. I spent the next ten minutes trying to explain to a group of nearly graduated teens that the expression meant to not be totally serious, having to do something with facial expressions when a person is not telling the total truth. They were thinking of other possibilities . One student even licked another student’s cheek. Of course, this is the same student who interrupted my class to bring me a live cricket and dropped it on my desk thinking I would be amused.

*Sigh* There’s how many days until school is over? 

No, that’s what teachers are saying. For students? They are in school barely. Only by sheer habit or momentum at this point. I asked one student to stay on task instead of chattering about everything except the assignment. She replied: “But it’s so hard.”

May. Mother, May I take a giant step forward to June 10th?

May we call school due to the lack of interest?

Oh, by the way–I’m switching to sophomores next year. Just saying. Correlation? What correlation?

Wait–is that being tongue in cheek?

April Reads of Note


from Pilgrim’s Inn by Elizabeth Goudge

 amazon.com

page 227:

Grand old place, he thought , pausing to look about him. It was a fine still day, with the sky faintly veiled in mist so that the suffused sunlight fell silverly. The cushions of moss were emerald between the cobbles, and the garnet-colored walls and the steep, crinkled, amber roofs of the outbuildings glowed with warmth. Beyond the silver trunks of the old apple trees there was a haze of shadow behind the bronze and gold of a few late chrysanthemums. There was a bonfire burning somewher, its pungent scent mixing with the smell of the wet chrysanthemums, the scent of the ironing from the kitchen, and the smell of a baking cake drifting down fromthe open door up there, the door that opened on the Malony’s balcony.

I tend to harken toward classic literary when filling up my basket for extended reading. Authors like Willa Cather, Daphne du Maurier, DE Stevenson, and Elizabeth Goudge are ones I easily grab and check out. There is a sense of unhurried eloquence of pacing, setting, and characterization that is difficult to find amongst contemporary reads. There is also the lean towards omniscient point of view, so that all is known about everybody in such a seamless manner the thread of plot is not lost, as it so often happens with the current practice of each chapter being a separate character’s perspective.

I am open to new literary classics in the making. One such author is the renowned Ishiguro. I became a fan after Remains of the Day. Admittedly, I have hung in there with his other offerings, yet I haven’t been as enamored. I did, however, give his latest novel a try: The Buried Giant.  I wanted to like it, but I ended up finishing it with more questions about the plot than satisfied resolve. I do think Ishiguro is an accomplished writer and I look forward to his next book.

amazon.com

Seeing as how I mainly write for children, it’s important for me to wade out there and see what exactly is catching g the eyes of readers  and publishers. I requested Pax from the library (that’s usually the sign of a good book if others have it checked out) and I would have read it in one sitting if I hadn’t started so late in the day. It’s difficult to resist a story of a boy and a fox, especially as they struggle to be reunited once again. I had a feeling I would cry at the end of the story. I did.

These were the top three reads of my spring break, and I am still tracking down as many DE Stevenson’s as I can. To keep up on my current reads, I have taken time to read my notices of new novels and have loaded up my “want to read” list. I hardly watched any movies over the last month. Nothing like a good book, actually lots of good books, to lessen the desire to plunk down in front of the screen and be bombarded for 90 minutes.

Anyone else find movies less desirable once the reading bug truly gets to biting?

Fore Warned in My Musings…


Or this could be named: “Cricket Takes a Holiday”

(this is actually my second attempt at posting since the resort wifi is a bit tricky)

I will admit May is tough on teachers. Sure we get our free lunches, cards, and goody sacks on Teacher Appreciation day, but the rest of the year could use some boost and cheer as well. We are all a bit weary and the finish line is closer, yet not quite close enough.

If you are traisping over from my last post you understand I May *grin* be suffering from burnout. This is why I am on holiday. I took two of my hoarded personal holidays (we get three during the school year) and signed myself out for a four day weekend. Never mind it takes about three days to set up two days worth of lesson plans and I hope a sub can be found. I needed to get awaaaay. Yes, that is the sound of a teacher jubilating a happy sound as she pulls out from the parking lot Friday afternoon. And yes, there is a knapsack of ungraded papers I must deal with before I return to work on Wednesday.

The first two days of my retreat–wait, I need to digress…

Why call it a retreat, indicating I am running away from something when I am actually running toward what I embrace willingly without shame? There is honor is working in the trenches classroom. And maybe I am suffering from PTFSD (positively tired from student disconduct). 

Back…

The first two days were spent soaking up time with the hubs, who forbade any talk about school (good man), and soaking up the view, reading, sunning, and watching the swallows.

Our condo faces the fairway (have I got a story about nearly getting hit by a golfball–and I did have a forewarning, but not the yelled out kind) and is the flight path of the resident swallows. In fact, we share the roofline and they often sit near the rail, twittering and preening like tuxeodoed Woolworth parakeets. I love ’em. I left the robins home in the backyard. This is swallow country.

 

The third day finds me all by my lonesome. The hubs has returned home and I am told to “WRITE.” I have not been writing at home, being too (am)bushed from grading essays and creating lesson plans. This long weekend is meant to rejuvenate me enough to finish out the year and to get Something accomplished.

I have pulled up my Hamlet Choose Your Own Adventure manuscript. Not too much dust resting on it. I diligently worked on it all morning. I now have hit the wall. When that clock reads “1 PM” I have hit my creative capacity. I am not much good after sitting down four or five hours. I’m hungering for a walk. Either that or some chocolate. I better put on my shoes.

*update: I did both by stopping at the front desk to buy M&Ms to eat while I walked. Multitasking at its best.

 

 

Tis the Month of Maying


April brought showers, daffodils, moose eating tulips (again), a trip to see the First Folio, unprecedented warm temperatures, and a month of poetry. Now we are on to May.

May–yes, may I just say that May makes me tired, and we are barely five days into the month. As I write this it’s 3:30 a.m., about two hours too early to be so wide awake. My head is spinning with how much I need to do this month. May I just stop a moment and reflect what the month of May involves…

  • Complete the Victorian Era unit with my seniors, yet leave enough time for Modern and Post-Modern by end of this month
  • Post progress grades by 3 pm Thursday–today!
  • Create my unit exam
  • Figure out my second semester final
  • Create a meaningful series of activities for my AP students for the rest of the month now that they have taken their exam and are basically done with the class, yet still need to attend. Did someone say film appreciation unit?
  • Speak at the annual Women’s Tea talking about getting a “piece of quiet” which is based on my essay in Chicken Soup for the Multi-tasking Mom’s Soul (I should be nervous but I’m too worn out to be nervous–wait it’s next week? I am nervous)

(Survivor of the nefarious Tulip Moose)
Just thinking about my “get’r done” list makes me tired enough to maybe go back to sleep. May I, might I, may I get it done because all this is going through my head:

Tis is the month of maying:

  1. May I get my gradebook straightened out
  2. May I get my lesson plans written up
  3. May I win against my everlasting match with yard maintenance (Weeds 3, Cricket 1)
  4. May I get caught up on my book reviews
  5. May I get a month of blog posts going
  6. May I send off yet another volley of queries to editors and agents
  7. May I actually find time to pack for my escape weekend–that’s right, I’m taking two personal days and making a four day getaway. By doing so I may survive the outbreak of senioritis at our school.

May I just go back to sleep so that I’m not a zombie impersonating an English teacher… 

POM: End of April


And so, a month of poetry has come and gone just that quickly. I thought it appropriate to end out this month of celebrating with verse with a poem by Ellis Levin’s “End of April.”

Enjoy. Thanks for another wonderful National Poetry Month

image: morguefile.com/pippalou “I found a robin’s egg…”

POM: April 29


Emily. Emily. How amazing is the ability to capture a moment for all of us to wonder and appreciate centuries later. And to think your poems lay hidden, languishing until a sister realized they needed freedom not a burial.

A lane of Yellow led the eye (1650)

Emily Dickinson
A lane of Yellow led the eye
Unto a Purple Wood
Whose soft inhabitants to be
Surpasses solitude
If Bird the silence contradict
Or flower presume to show
In that low summer of the West
Impossible to know—

POM: April 28


One of the lovelier aspects of spring returning is the flurry, fluttery returning of birds. I especially like the robins cheerup salutes of this season as they parade on the lawn feasting on worms. No robin poems of notice yet, so this dandy tribute to blue birds will suffice:

Advice to a Blue Bird
by Maxwell Bodenheim
Who can make a delicate adventure
Of walking on the ground?
Who can make grass-blades
Arcades for pertly careless straying?
You alone, who skim against these leaves,
Turning all desire into light whips
Moulded by your deep blue wing-tips,
You who shrill your unconcern
Into the sternly antique sky.
You to whom all things
Hold an equal kiss of touch.

Mincing, wanton blue-bird,
Grimace at the hoofs of passing men.
You alone can lose yourself
Within a sky, and rob it of its blue!

POM: April 27


I live in an area that definitely provides all four seasons–five, if mud, the one between winter and spring, counts. I couldn’t imagine living in an area where reading about snow through a Robert Frost poems is the closest a student would get to experiencing it. Although I am definitely not a fan of snow, it’s tedious place in our seasonal line up reminds me how much I appreciate the wondrous, warm, sunny days once they again make their appearance.

To days and lives spent in the false days of winter provided by glimpses of bad weather here is a poem that explores snow from a different perspective:

The Poetry of Bad Weather

POM: April 26


This is oh so Thoreau. The way he observes nature, breaking the whole into bits without dissembling the phenomena.

 Mist by Henry David Thoreau

Low-anchored cloud,

Newfoundland air,

Fountain-head and source of rivers,

Dew-cloth, dream-drapery,

And napkin spread by fays;

Drifting meadow of the air,

Where bloom the daisied banks and violets,

And in whose fenny labyrinth

The bittern booms and heron wades;

Spirit of lakes and seas and rivers,—

Bear only perfumes and the scent

Of healing herbs to just men’s fields.

POM: April 25


John Donne, Metaphysical poet, definitely challenges our perception of death with his “Death Be Not Proud.”  Death is not seen as a bully, a villain,  nor even anything to actually fear. Donne portrays death as a coward, in that it cannot act upon its own accord, needing an agent to perform. He presents death as merely a comma, a breath into the next life. This Holy Sonnet is a stunning portrait of his faith.

Another portrait, one more contemporary is by Dean Rader. He presents our transition as a reuniting. How welcome is an embrace, the meeting of child and parent after a long journey apart? Beautiful.

Alternate Self-Portrait 

by Dean Rader

One day

I will drift

into darkness

and know it

perhaps

the way a son

recognizes a mother

after he has returned

from many years

of travel

understanding

the new distance

is neither

beginning nor

end

only stillness

 

Copyright © 2015 by Dean Rader. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on December 30, 2015, by the Academy of American Poets.

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