Friday, October 30, 2009

We Walk By Faith, Not By Sight

On Thursday and Friday, the staff at my school attended the MANS convention here in Detroit (Michigan Association for Non-Public Schools). Being yesterday was Friday, I was very tempted to attend just a couple sessions and then leave right after lunch. But while sitting at lunch with a group of colleagues, a few of them mentioned a session they attended that was so powerful it moved them to tears.

Since there was a repeat session at 2:30 I forced myself to stay to see what this session was all about.

Bill Barkeley is legally blind and lost 85% of his hearing at age five. Given these disabilities, you'd think he'd just be sitting at home, allowing his friends and family to do for him all the things a blind/deaf person can't do. But in all the Bill has lost, he always kept his faith and always believed that God had a plan for him. And you'll never believe what he set out to do: climb Mt. Kilimanjaro. And climb it he did.

What is so inspiring about Barkeley's climb is not just that he did it, but that he sees his blindness and deafness as a blessing. He thinks that non-disabled people often don't know what to do with the gifts they have been given and as a disabled person, he was able to "see" that constraints help make clear what is possible in life.

Walk Your Own Path from Serac Adventure Films on Vimeo.

Poetry Friday

"Do You Have Any Advice For Those of Us Just Starting Out?"

Give up sitting dutifully at your desk. Leave
your house or apartment. Go out into the world.

It's all right to carry a notebook but a cheap
one is best, with pages the color of weak tea
and on the front a kitten or a space ship.

Avoid any enclosed space where more than
three people are wearing turtlenecks. Beware
any snow-covered chalet with deer tracks
across the muffled tennis courts.

Not surprisingly, libraries are a good place to write.
And the perfect place in a library is near an aisle
where a child a year or two old is playing as his
mother browses the ranks of the dead.

Often he will pull books from the bottom shelf.
The title, the author's name, the brooding photo
on the flap mean nothing. Red book on black, gray
book on brown, he builds a tower. And the higher
it gets, the wider he grins.

You who asked for advice, listen: When the tower
falls, be like that child. Laugh so loud everybody
in the world frowns and says, "Shhhh."

Then start again.

-Ron Koertge

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Another One Bites The Dust

I'm having a major case of boredom with books lately. Nothing seems to be holding my interest. I just abandoned what seems like my tenth book in the past few months. My most recent victim that I tossed aside tonight was Julie & Julia. I was disappointed with how little the story actually had to do with food and how crass Julie Powell's writing was. I got about halfway through it and couldn't take any more. I hope the movie is better than the book. I need books to inspire me again. I need another Hunger Games or The Help to get me out of this slump I've been in lately.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Poetry Friday

This poem cracks me up because it's kind of making a satire out of the most famous poems of William Carlos Williams "The Red Wheelbarrow" and "This is Just to Say"

An Apology
Forgive me
for backing over
and smashing
your red wheelbarrow.

It was raining
and the rear wiper
does not work on
my new plum-colored SUV.

I am also sorry
about the white

- F.J. Bergmann

Thursday, October 22, 2009

High On Books

Last week I did a book talk on The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins and now it seems like half the 6th grade is walking around with a copy of the book in their hands. I can't tell you how happy it makes me to see when my words influence kids like that. Talking about books with kids and seeing that I can influence their reading habits - that is my drug of choice.

Who needs a lesson plan when you can just talk about books all day?

Sunday, October 18, 2009

There's something about Michigan football that turns me into a sports fan

I'm not a sports lover. About the only sport I watch faithfully is figure skating, and even that has dwindled since Michelle Kwan retired from eligible competition. So it's very strange that U of M football turns me into a crazy fan, willing to denounce all of my Ohio relatives for having the audacity to root for the evil Ohio State Buckeyes.

OK, so I'm not THAT bad, but I do like to chide my father and other extended family on occasion especially when it comes to be that time of year when the most contested game of the season rolls around: OSU Vs. U of M.

So when my husband and I scored some tickets to the U of M vs. Delaware State game in Ann Arbor yesterday, I knew I would have to do something to antagonize my dad given his shame at having a daughter who is a Michigan fan. (But more on that later.)

While this was no means a game of OSU rivalry proportions given that Delaware State is a Division 2 team, it was still amazing to be there in the stadium rather than watching it at home on the couch. Thankfully Michigan won this game, and even though it was expected to be a walk for us, we all remember the travesty of last year's game against Appalachian State. So we Michigan fans take nothing for granted.

But by the time the second quarter rolled to a close, this is what the scoreboard looked like:

So yeah, no worries about having a repeat of the Appalachian State debacle. And even though the game was a cake walk for us and not much of a competition (though all of us in the stands were making our own goals for the game, "I wanna see 50 on the scoreboard before halftime" and "Let's try to not let them score ANY points for the entire game...") it was still exhilarating being at The Big House with 107,000 fans, all high fiving each other whenever the Wolverines scored a touchdown (and we were high fiving each other A LOT!). And even though I'm fighting off a chest cold that doesn't seem to want to go away, being there in the forty-degree weather, rooting for boys in maize and blue, even in my sickened state was an experience worth having. Aaah.... There's just something about Michigan football that I love. Maybe it's the rebel in me - since most of my family roots for Ohio State I have to be the voice of dissent. (I did grow up in Michigan after all so being a Wolverines fan is not that much of a stretch for me. But you have to wonder why I chose to be a U of M fan instead of a Michigan State fan).

I'd have to say though that more than us winning by almost 60 points, my favorite moment of the game had to be when our friend snapped this picture of my husband and me on my cell phone

and texted it to my dad saying, "Go Blue and Purdue!" (You see, Ohio State was playing Purdue at the same time we were at the Michigan game).

He called me later that evening and said rather begrudgingly, "So I got your picture... and OK I got the point!"

I love how college football rivalries bring families together. It's all in good fun until someone ends up with a black eye. :o)

Incidentally, this was the final score

I've never seen such a high number on a football scoreboard before.

Hail to the Victors!

Book Trailers Worth Watching

I love finding book trailers that rival movie trailers in lighting a fire under people to make them want to know more about the story. One of my favorite book trailers is this one of The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

But I just stumbled across this book trailer for Th1rteen R3asons Why on Jay Asher's blog and it is phenomenal. There is honestly a lot of YA lit out there today that rivals adult lit in characterization and story lines. This is definitely one of those books that many adults would find a fascinating read.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Poetry Friday

This is Just to Say

I have eaten
the plums
that were in
the icebox

and which
you were probably
for breakfast

Forgive me
they were delicious
so sweet
and so cold

-William Carlos Williams

Sunday, October 11, 2009

The Actor and the Housewife by Shannon Hale

There were so many things about this book that made it a train wreck waiting to happen: Telling rather than showing, vague expanses of time, an annoying, sugary-sweet main character...

But then something happened about 3/4 of the way through reading it: I started becoming attached to the characters and found myself crying at a very pivotal moment in the story. It was then that I found myself actually caring deeply about the characters in the story. When did that happen?

There's no doubt about it, this is total chick lit. But it's sugar-coated, chaste, and unpredictable chick lit. I was honestly waiting for the main character, Becky Jack, to give in to her desires and cheat on her husband. When that didn't happen, I had to give Shannon Hale major props for going against the grain and writing something that goes against every predictable scenario a reader could think of.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

It's Like Crack for Bookworms

Thank you Sarah Miller for posting this awesome website on your blog!

Author Pronunciation Guide

Did you ever wonder how your favorite author's name was pronounced? OK, maybe if your favorite author is John Green you don't have this problem, but for those of you like me who've been pining away for many years about how in the heck you pronounce Avi's name, well look no further than the website above. Not all author pronunciations are needed of course, but in addition to pronouncing their own names, some of them even tell the story behind their names as well. Not to mention the fact that you actually get to HEAR what the author sounds like.

But before you assume you already know how to pronounce your favorite author's name, use Cornelia Funke as a lesson to you. She is German and therefore the E at the end of her name is not silent. How many of you knew that?

Friday, October 9, 2009

Finally a Keeper!

It's been a while since I've made a dinner that's been "a keeper." I love trying new recipes, but most of the time they just turn out "eh" and aren't worth making again. Tonight's dinner was a long time coming. Finally a keeper!

It's a Rachael Ray recipe, and yes, I know that many foodies find her name blasphemous, but I think she really gets a bad rap. She has helped so many people get into the kitchen and start making meals for their families that wouldn't have otherwise. I personally think someone who helps to get people cooking using real, wholesome ingredients (not processed crap a la Semi-Homemade's Sandra Lee) and not ordering takekout every night should be commended.

But I digress. The meal I made for dinner tonight was Chinese Spaghetti and Meatballs and after making this meal, I think my new favorite spice blend is Chinese Five Spice. I honestly could've done without the spaghetti part of this meal because I just devoured the meatballs. If you haven't tried Chinese Five Spice, it's time you tried because it adds such zest and flavor to your meal.

At the risk of sounding cheesy and cliche, all I have to say is "Yum-o!"

Poetry Friday

Oh, To Be an Earthworm

Oh, to be an earthworm.
It has five hearts.
When one is pained or pierced
the other four carry on.
It has no chin to "take it" on
no upper lip, no backbone
to keep stiff, just crawls
along in closest touch with the earth;
doesn't yearn at the stars
or stretch for the moon
but goes about its intimate
business, living its soft life
to the full, savoring it,
inch by inch.

- Ralph Fletcher

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Late to the Party

I know I'm a bit late to the party here, but I finally received my copy of Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins, the much anticipated 2nd installment to The Hunger Games. I purchased this title for my classroom, but I'm debating on whether or not I should just give in and read it or wait until my hold at the library comes in for the audiobook. I really enjoyed listening to the first book on audio CD that I'm kind of thinking I'll wait. But I don't know if I'll be able to show that much restraint.

If you haven't read The Hunger Games yet, I'm telling you that it's time you put that book at the top of your reading list. For the longest time I read the synopsis of the storyline and thought to myself, "That book sounds awful! You couldn't pay me to read such gore!" But lo and behold, I was finally convinced by all the favorable reviews and personal recommendations from people who told me, "You will be shocked at how much you'll love this book."

Don't get me wrong, there were still flaws in the story that made it not quite a 5-star book for me (like the main character. I understand heroes are supposed to be flawed, but there is something a bit grating about the main character of Katniss. Maybe she'll grow on me in the second book) but the writing is so lyrical and dare-I-say beautiful, despite the storyline's dire circumstances.

I am currently in the middle of reading two books right now, but I think if the audiobook of Catching Fire does not come in before I'm done with those two books I'm going to have to give in and just read it.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Poetry Friday


Had I known, only known
when I loved so near,
I'd have gone, gladly gone
foregoing my fear
of the wholly grown
and the nearly great.
But I learned alone,
so I learned too late.

-Timothy Murphy