cricketmuse

a writer's journey as a reader

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Paper or Plastic?


“I would rather have a hard copy, if that’s okay.” This is from a new AP recruit wanting the summer reading text How to read Literature Like a Professor in book format rather than the PDF version I found on-line. Curious, I asked why. Her response? She had difficulty connecting with the on-screen type. Not what I expected from eyes way younger than mine. I, of course spout off about how much I prefer hard copies to e-copies as well because of my need to connect sensory-wise and as I’m talking, I’m flipping pages and smelling them and listening to them and when I finally notice my student nodding and edging toward the door, like she’d really like to leave because I’m a looney lady (more than one student has commented on me being a bit crazy), I hand over the book and wish her a great summer.

I am a looney lady when it comes to books–hence the Book Booster thing I do. Books aren’t just a pasttime or a channel of information, they are an introduction. Ahem, a new quote from moi:

A book in hand is a friendship in the making.

Beyond making a new friend, there is joy, a celebration of the senses holding a book in hand. I’m talking honest to goodness REAL paper-in-hand book. I do so enjoy paper, maybe that’s why I always answer “paper” instead of “plastic” at the store. Perhaps it’s because paper comes from trees and trees come from the earth and holding a book bound in paper produces more connection to the world around me.  I have little or no sensory connection to my plastic e-reader even though it’s a book in hand.  Oh oh–I feel the looney lady coming on and before I go on about trees, books and their connection to the world and mankind, here is my list of reasons for preferring a book of paper when reading:

1. Smell: that inky pungency stimulates my imagination to anticipation

2. Hearing: the flip-swish of pages signifies my involvement and commitment and helps me to further escape

3. Taste: no, I don’t lick the book, but reading a paper book whets my appetite for setting aside time to open up the pages to fall into another time, another place, another person’s story

4. Touch: there has got to be a study out there concerning the connection between the tactile aspect of reading and brain synapse when communing with a book–I am so much more involved when I am holding the book instead of just listening to it by audio or thumbing up a new screen. Think about this: glass does not conduct electricity, which means no synapse boost. Plus, when I see my book lying on the bed, table, chair it beckons me to pick it up, so there must be a some kind of magnetism involved.

5. Visual: perhaps the most notable because of the cover has all those colors and interesting bits to feed my eyes and mind, and then, of course, there all those illustrations and photographs and drawings sometimes waiting inside.

I’ve shown this video before, yet it definitely illustrates the visual appeal of books.

Reading is definitely a sensory experience for me.  What about you?  Paper or plastic?

Rocking Out on Being Stoned


Nope. This is no expose on Mick Jagger. We’re looking into semantics today.
Did you know when you are picking up souvenir rocks at the beach you are actually picking up stones? Truly.

Rocks from morguefile
We may only think that “rock” and “stone” are interchangeable. They technically aren’t, yet like most of our language, we throw actuality out the window and go for ease of saying.

Stones by morguefile
Here are the distinguishing facts:

Rock: Usually large, immovable natural material made up of one or more minerals that is hard or soft in composition.

Stone: Most often a harder, smaller, moveable mineral matter. 
More clarifications:

A rock is comparatively larger.

A stone is comparatively small.

A rock is not usually moved, being it is part of the earth as in The Rock of Gibraltar. 

A stone can be picked up as in gemstones.

A rock can be hard or soft in material composition.

A stone is hard.

Now–how does that transfer into everyday expressions?

We say, “He’s solid. He’s a rock of strength. He’s immovable, and can’t be swayed.” And right about here is where the Rock of Gibraltar is bandied about.

Looking over the checklist of facts, it looks pretty good, metaphorically speaking.

Let’s move on…

“She’s got a heart of stone.” This is not a compliment. To be solid as a rock is considered a positive attribute; however, your heart should not be hard and it should be movable. Wait, stones are movable. Wouldn’t that mean that person could change her outlook?

Or doesn’t it follow that a rock solid person would have a heart of stone because the heart is a part of the body and is smaller and can be moved more easily?

Bookmark that thought. 

Think about:

A. We collect rocks along the shoreline to perhaps add them to our rock garden.

B. A diamond is a precious gemstone and set in a ring it’s touted as “quite a rock.” [right for gemstone, wrong for rock]

C. Loud electronic music  is considered “rock” and some will enhance the listening experience by being “stoned.” [not sure]

Now that you know the difference, be sure you don’t get caught between a rock and a hard place in your terms.
 

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: April 11


April is so close to May which is close to June and then it’s SUMMER!!

Here’s some Ella to remind us of that good, good season:

Good old William Blake also knew how to lay down one awesome summer poem, I will credit him for that.

O thou who passest thro’ our valleys in
Thy strength, curb thy fierce steeds, allay the heat
That flames from their large nostrils! thou, O Summer,
Oft pitched’st here thy goldent tent, and oft
Beneath our oaks hast slept, while we beheld
With joy thy ruddy limbs and flourishing hair.

Beneath our thickest shades we oft have heard
Thy voice, when noon upon his fervid car
Rode o’er the deep of heaven; beside our springs
Sit down, and in our mossy valleys, on
Some bank beside a river clear, throw thy
Silk draperies off, and rush into the stream:
Our valleys love the Summer in his pride.

Our bards are fam’d who strike the silver wire:
Our youth are bolder than the southern swains:
Our maidens fairer in the sprightly dance:
We lack not songs, nor instruments of joy,
Nor echoes sweet, nor waters clear as heaven,
Nor laurel wreaths against the sultry heat

And for something a little less dazzling, I turn to a fave: William Carlos Williams

Wanderer moon
smiling a
faintly ironical smile
at this
brilliant, dew-moistened
summer morning,—
a detached
sleepily indifferent
smile, a
wanderer’s smile,—
if I should
buy a shirt
your color and
put on a necktie
sky-blue
where would they carry me?


Why We Say: #24–oldies, fer sure


A gathering of odd phrases today. Have you ever “laughed up your sleeve” at finding a good deal, only to find that you “paid through the nose” for the item, which, perhaps, made you feel “the wool was pulled over your eyes” making you want to “put up your dukes?”

In that case…

Back in the days of kings and queens when mindings one’s manners was essential to remain in good grace with the court, a courtier would hide an unbecoming guffaw by laughing up his or her wide sleeve, thus muffling the merriment. Today, to laugh up one’s sleeve indicates hiding our humor from someone or laughing at someone without that person realizing it.

preparing to laugh up one’s sleeve via youtube.com

When the Irish were conquered by the Danes around the 9th century, they suffered the cruelty of receiving a slit on their nose if they didn’t pay their proper tribute. Today, if we feel we’ve paid more than what think is a fair price we apply this saying. My wallet taking a slice is a bit more appealing than my nose.

I knows I wouldn’t want to anger those Danes

Then we go back in time once again in the days when men, as well as women, wore wigs. Highway men would stop carriages of the well-to-do and pull their wigs over their eyes so they could not identify the thieves. The wigs often being white (that one I don’t know why) resembled wool. Today getting “the wool pulled over our eyes” indicates getting fooled or even cheated.

 King George apparently started the white wig fashion–or is someone pulling the wool over my eyes?

Inevitably, when a fight is about to erupt, the obsequious line “put up your dukes” is sallied forth. The Duke of Wellington, yes, Napoleon’s duke, had a rather significantly  sized nose. Fists became known as “duke busters” and finally shortened to “dukes.” To put up your “dukes” means someone’s nose is in hazaard. Is that where we got the Dukes of Hazzard?

 Did the Duke duck when a fight broke out?

Stay tuned for next month’s round of leg pulling, piping down, pulling up stakes, and getting read the riot act.

Has Spring Sprung Yet?


If Yoda lived around my geographics he might mutter: “Strange I think this weather is.” 

  
Plastic tulips to fool the moose that ate last year’s batch.
For instance:

One day last week I ate lunch out on the “patio” (back doors by my classroom) soaking up the delectable rays of 50+ degrees, only to wake up to snow flurries six days later.

This must be spring. That roaring lamb thing is in gear.

I know the calendar declares spring to be around March 21. Being too comfy to get up, I checked the Farmer’s Almanac on-line instead. I definitely got distracted on the way to corroborating the date:

According to folklore, you can stand a raw egg on its end on the equinox. 

Apparently the FA editors decided it was worth a try–and suceeded.

Some pithy verse:

One swallow does not make a spring.

Bluebirds are a sign of spring; warm weather and gentle south breezes they bring.

In spring, no one thinks of the snow that fell last year.

Don’t say that spring has come until you can put your foot on nine daisies.

Spring-time sweet!

The whole Earth smiles, thy coming to greet.

The vernal equinox signals the beginning of nature’s renewal in the Northern Hemisphere! 

  • Worms begin to emerge from the earth.
  • Increased  sunlight hours, with earlier dawns and later sunsets.
  • Birds are migrating northward, along with the path of the sun.

After checking out planting schedule links and other diversions, I discover Official Spring is Saturdayish and not Monday after all–Leap Year influence. Then again I knew it was spring about three days ago because:

1. A huge robin trilled a bodaciously loud and cheery morning song as I readied to get in my car and go to work. Having just read The Secret Garden, I felt compelled to chat with him. He must not have known the robin from that book as he utterly ignored me.

2. Cars are driving down the road with the ubequitious yellow bagged tires needing to be switched over from their studded weather partners.

3. Girls are wearing tank tops at school.

4. Daffodil points are cautiously peeking up out of the barren landscape.

5. Seniors are skipping classes more than attending them.

6. Black is no longer a first choice grab in my wardrobe. Got me a real hankering for purple, pink, and yellow.

7. Turtlenecks suddenly seem so negative. 

8. It’s not dark when I get home.

9. Primrose pony packs greet me outside the supermarket.

10. I set up my resin chair outside the front door. I’m catching any stray sun ray I can.

What spring signs are harkening your way?

 

A Puzzling New Pastime


As much as I love to read in the evening, sometimes I find myself dozing off, getting soundly thwacked in the face. Noses do not generally make for comfortable bookmarks.

With the evening still stretching out ever so long–dark, dark at 5:30 pm *blech*–I try to find ways to stay awake until at least 9:30 or 10 pm. If I go to bed any sooner I am up at 3 or 4 a.m. [My body automatically wakes after 6 hours of sleep. Alarm clocks are a waste. So much for sleeping in. My family jokes about setting Mom instead of an alarm clock if we need to get up early]. I’m willing to get up at 5 a.m–not 4 a.m.

So–long evenings, what to do?

During the day, when I’m not teaching the joys of literature, I’m on the computer grading, answering emails, creating lesson plans, doing more grading, and I’m not real thrilled about jumping on the computer when I get home.

The hubs would be content watching a movie [we don’t do commercial TV] but that’s a lot like screen time to me and I enjoy peace and quiet after a full day of teen jollity.

We tried cribbage. Backgammon too. He’s a chess guy. I’m a checkers fan. Not a knitter.

And then, there I was at the library. Right next to the magazine exchange rack I spy  a new addition: puzzles!

I grew up watching my dad patiently wangle his way through landscape puzzles. Those teeny tiny pieces of chopped scenery boggled my little mind. It looked like boredom in a box and I avoided puzzles growing up. Besides the boredom factor,  I like life organized, and puzzles remind me too much of trying to fix something that was broken. Spin ahead a few decades, and standing there in front of all those free puzzles at the library I became somewhat transfixed. Dad always looked so calm slowly piecing together those pictures. Why not?

Bringing home a puzzle proved much more complicated:

  • a dedicated table is needed
  • a certain light is necessary
  • a certain dedicated area is both needed and necessary

It only took two weeks and five stores to find the perfect table. It took a half hour to clear out a corner. I’m still trying to find the perfect light. But–

We are now on our second puzzle. 

The hubs worries over the quiet addiction that is developing. One little piece leads to another, then another, and soon two hours have gone by. I was almost late to work one morning as we battled out the last twenty pieces of placement. I’m in my coat, lunch bag and purse slung over the shoulder, and I keep muttering: I need to go. I don’t go because I found the tree branch piece and that means it connects to the sky, which bridges the roof to the chimney…Is there a twelve step program for puzzlers?

I am a bit puzzled over our new pastime. I feel dociled, like I’m in a folksy home. I’m nervous about telling the kiddos their folks are puzzling. They will no doubt smirk and nod and sibling-text how cute we are growing in our older years. Fine. They do all that already.

Any one else a puzzler?

Why We Say: #23


With this being a leap year I thought it appropriate to spotlight some jumping words and phrases.

“Jump the Gun”

Jim Bob tolerated the good-natured ribbing from the crew when he showed up to school wearing shorts and a cutoff tank top. “Hey, Jimmy Boy, are you jumping the gun about the weather? It indicated the sun poking out today–not a heat wave.”

It appears our hero anticipated raging temperatures suitable for summer. His wishful thinking reflects on the runner who anticipated running down the track to victory and started out before the official fired off a blank cartridge to start off the race.

image: morguefile/marykbaird 

Kangaroo

“I say, captain, what is that strange animal over there.”

“Which one? This country is full of odd animals.”

“That one that hoppitys about with a baby popping out its middle.”

“Oh–that animal.  Hmm, go see what you can get from that native chap, over there.”

A few minutes later.

All I could figure out is he said something to the likes of kanga roo.”

“Sounds like a fitting name. Write that one down. Let’s go exploring some more.”

 

Captain Cook and his crew probably didn’t have this exact conversation, but I imagine something similar occurred. Apparently when he asked what the big hopping critter was called, the aboriginal native said “kangaroo” which actually  means “I don’t know.” Makes sense. I don’t know how that baby stays put in the pouch as momma kanga goes bouncing around either.

image: morguefile/wallyir

Happy Leap Year!

 

Bonus: there is a cow scene

 

A Bit of Book Botherment


As much I proclaim to be a Book Bookster, I fear I’m not a proper one, for if I was,  wouldn’t I be scandalously boring about reminding everyone that September was National Get a Library Month (“get carded at your local library”) or that October was National Book Month? I’m not fully living up to my potential. I’m hoping it’s okay that I just read and blog about what I’m reading. Guilt does overtake me now and then that I should be organizing parties and perpetuating cute little cookies in the shapes of books or something. Perhaps I need one of those calendars that they tend to pin on the wall in the staff bathroom that spouts when it’s national Eat a Chili Pepper Day or National Hug Your Bank Teller Day. There must be a calendar app just for bibliophiles.

However-

In an attempt to make amends for not noticing October was National Book Month, I will reprint an article about books that have influenced a batch of Ted Educators. We do like our Ted Talkers.

If I were a Ted Educator and someone did ask me about a book which had influenced me, I would wholeheartedly reply: To Kill a Mockingbird for the reason that having read it I keep passing on my passion for it on to my students. It’s not just required reading. It’s required to read to understand our US country’s history better and how Jim Crow laws affect who we are today, and how walking around in someone else’s shoes should be a lifestyle commitment not just the answer to the question on the test of “name a famous Atticus quote.” I know the book makes a difference in my students’ lives because when they return to me three years later as seniors that unequivocally agree that TKAM  is “such a great book.”

As to the idea of books making a difference or creating an impact in live I provide for your entertainment and enlightenment John Green’s list of books he appreciates.

 

So, by the by–which book has changed your life? Or is there a book you want everyone to go and read right now?

Why We Say #22:Junk to Jeeps


Getting into the J zone of sayings with junk, jalopy, jazz, and jeep…

Jalopy: when a car goes south, south of the border

Archie probably didn’t buy his car from Mexico, although if he did, he might have bought it in the town of Jalopa. Since there was a shortage of cars in Mexico around the 1900s, many old automobiles would come to the country by way of USA cast offs. A car bought in Jalopa meant buying a worn out ride, sometimes a junky one. Eventually a jalopy car is what these were known to be called.

Junky Jewelry: be forewarned of Forney

Remember, those vendors are probably selling phoney Coach purses. Don’t buy one. Same goes for the watches. Stick to touristy stuff as souvenirs.

Well, we all know that some market vendors aren’t totally on the up and up when it comes to the authenticity of their wares. Purses, watches, clothing–consumer be wary. Forney, a manufacturer of cheap jewelry, may have started the knock-off industry, junk merchandise. Spotting a “Forney ring” became a buyer habit. The name changed to “phoney” and today we are still on the lookout for poorly made merchandise claiming to be the real deal.

 

watch out for those phoney phones

Jazz: mixing up the beat

There are many different thoughts to the origin of Jazz. Why We Say claims the word is derived from the Louisiana French verb “jasper” which means to speed up, chatter, or make fun. As we know, “it don’t mean a thing, it it don’t got that swing.” doowop doowop doowop

Jeep: initially an Army ride

When the US Army designed their “General Purpose Car” they probably didn’t know that the “G.P.” would eventually been shortened to jeep.

GP=jeep

morguefile image: click

one last minute “j”: jumping the gun

This one is easy. About 35 years ago, racers started off at the bang of run firing off a blank cartridge. Anticipation was undoubtedly high, so it wasn’t unusual for a runner to start off before the bang, which became known as jumping the gun.

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