Monday, July 24, 2006


Four days of learning and fun in rural Wisconsin. No cheesy jokes about WI needed, it was just plain fun. Did some workshops, danced my feet off and sang (badly). Was introduced to two new books that are exciting:
From Disability to Possibility by Patrick Swartz. He is a dynamite speaker and specialist in special education and the inspirtation for my (still unsold) picture book about "My Cousin Nick Zay." (note to self, get that back in the mail).
Teaching Reading to Black Adolescent Males by Alfred Tatum. Also a great speaker and full of no-nonsense advice for hooking reluctant readers by understanding and meeting their cultural needs.

Thanks to Smokey Daniels and all the Heinemann crew who work so hard to make this work every year. More info at

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Hamline University

THIS is why I am always on a diet. People treat me too well. Who knew that Minneapolis has such good Italian food? Who could say no? Not me.

Teacher after teacher came up to me at the literacy conference at Hamline and told me that this is a conference that they look forward to every year and as a speaker I could feel the responsiveness of the audience as they flowed into the theater. Most of the participants were from the Minnesota area and I got a first hand sampling of "Minnesota nice." Everyone was friendly, even when the projector and overhead decided they wanted to talk over one another during my break out session. I loved everything about this conference, a genuine learning place.

Did I mention the food?

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

the heat

The heat is everywhere this week. In the sock drawer, the cabinet in the bathroom, seeping out from under the fridge and toasting my toes. It's straining at the windows and blaring through the skylight. Cleveland does heat in a very wet way, hair adhering to the neck, shoes stuck on the feet, sweat running downstream along ever appendage. Tomorrow I go to Minneapolis, maybe it will be cooler. Rain is predicted. Ah, cool mist in the face.

I haven't had to bring out the suitcases for two whole weeks. It's almost okay, but still . . . After next week in Wisconsin, I will be basically off duty until October. I have a couple of projects going, now all I have to do is clean my office so I have a clear surface to work. Looking in my office door at a clear surface would feel like a cool mist in the face. Writing is my business, clutter is a side job and (sadly) I'm good at it. Amassing that is, not managing. Sigh.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

How does your garden grow?

It's almost trite for a poet to have a garden, the seed being the original metaphor and all. I don't grow anything practical. I used to grow tomatoes until I battled with a fungus of some kind and lost three years in a row. I grow flowers. Two, now three beds of perennials. It is 8:30 and now is the best time to put in new plants, when the sun is still stretching and the temperature is low. I don't like sweating in the high heat hours, but I have to confess that I like the feeling of the warm dirt on my knees. It is more comforting than flannel sheets, as soothing as a backrub.

Kelly started a blog last night. I read it and it made me cry and served as a reminder of how important it is to jot down memories before they go the way of the morning dew.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Tshirts say: We put the fun back in Dysfunctional Posted by Picasa

holes in my blog

The problem with letting a blog go into a holding pattern for a while is that life doesn't have a hold button and so many astonishing things happen, it's hard to know where to start to catch up.

Summer has been incredible. Vacation to Oak Island, NC with the whole family, I mean the entire lot. Pictured here is my partner Michael, his two sons, Max and Frank, Max's girlfriend Adelle, my daughters Katie,husband Doug, kids Stephie and Scotty, Kelly and Brian, Ben, Danny, Thomas and my ex-husband Tom, his wife Ro and her daughter Darcy, husband Doug and son Nick. Is it any wonder that Tom had T shirts made for us all that said "We put the fun back in dysfunctional?" Katie and Doug wore their T shirts to the market one day and people kept stopping them to say, "my family needs those shirts."

I have had a few weeks at home and am enjoying it so much that last week the telephone was on the fritz and I didn't even call the repairman. Michael was out of town for almost a week and I went into full recluse mode. Ahhhhh.