Thursday, August 03, 2017

Poetry Friday: Hope is the thing with feathers

“Hope” is the thing with feathers
by Emily Dickinson

“Hope” is the thing with feathers -
That perches in the soul -
And sings the tune without the words -
And never stops - at all -

And sweetest - in the Gale - is heard -
And sore must be the storm -
That could abash the little Bird
That kept so many warm -

I’ve heard it in the chillest land -
And on the strangest Sea -
Yet - never - in Extremity,
It asked a crumb - of me.


Donna has the round up at Mainely Write.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Brave Writer: Registration for Fall Classes Opens on July 31

I'll be teaching for Brave Writer again in the fall! Huzzah!

I'm teaching another session of The Writer's Jungle Online (formerly "Kidswrite Basic") from September 25th to November 3rd.

The complete, upcoming class schedule (for all Brave Writer classes) is here.

You can find registration information (including cancellation policies, etc.) here.

Hope to see you in one of my favorite online spaces!

Friday, July 14, 2017

Poetry Friday: Mac and Cheese and ... Haiku?

July 14th is National Macaroni and Cheese Day (that's okay -- I didn't know it existed either) and Tabatha is seizing the day. She's hosting a cheesy Poetry Friday, and I am lamenting days gone by.

Casserole Woes 

by Karen Edmisten

We savored the stuff. 
 O, lactose intolerance!*
No more mac and cheese.

* I'm not the one with lactose intolerance, but since I've been tiptoeing (tentatively, with many stumbles over stubborn old habits) down the vegan road, I guess I should be thankful that Betsy's lactose intolerance has helped get certain cheesy dishes out of our house. And yet ... and yet ... O, cheese! Food of the gods! How I love you! Can I ever really let you go?

Hey, I can call that haiku, too: of the gods! 
How I love you. Alas, can I 
let you go? 

Okay, I think it's time to stop. 

For a starchy, cheesy Poetry Friday, visit Tabatha at The Opposite of Indifference.

Friday, July 07, 2017

Poetry Friday: Marginalia, by Billy Collins

Are you a marginalia type? Or a notes-in-a-separate-notebook reader? Do you use post-its? Do you dog-ear? What do you think of book darts? (Thanks, Anne Bogel, these might change my life.) Do you leave your own books in pristine condition, but enjoy eavesdropping on the marginalia of others, via a heavily used book?

Whoever you are, whatever you read, however you scribble, Billy Collins gets it.

by Billy Collins

Sometimes the notes are ferocious,
skirmishes against the author
raging along the borders of every page
in tiny black script.
If I could just get my hands on you,
Kierkegaard or Conor Cruise O'Brien,
they seem to say,
(Read the rest here, at the Poetry Foundation.)


Carol Varsalona has the round up this week at Beyond LiteracyLink.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Bits and Pieces of Our Days

Umm, where did the first half of 2017 go? Kinda sped by, no?


In May, Atticus ran his first half marathon. He'd run the distance before, but had never signed up for a race. A dear friend, who runs a couple of races a year, asked if Atticus wanted to run with him, so he tried it and loved it. Then he ran another half a couple of weeks ago. After we cheered his start, the girls and I went out for donuts and coffee. To my credit, I walked a lot that week. Really. I blame my aversion to running on bad knees that run in my family. (So to speak.) At least, that's what I tell myself ever since that time when I tried to run and my knees hurt. 

Anyway, now Atticus has plans for a third half-marathon in the fall. I see more coffee and donuts (and walking! Really! And podcasts while I walk!) in my future. 


My Brave Writer Kidswrite Basic class ended on June 16th, and I miss those kids! It was a fantastic and fun six weeks. I'll be teaching Kidswrite Basic again from September 25-Nov. 3rd. Registration for that session opens on July 31st.


Ramona's been busy and so was happy to get some down time the last few days. She helped with skits and music for VBS, took a cake decorating class, had a fun week with the Missoula Children's Theater, and did some citizen science one morning at a youth discovery camp. Whoosh! Time for a good book. 


Speaking of good books, Betsy has been revising her NaNoWriMo novel from last year. She's expanded it to about 72,000 words and I can't wait to read this first in-depth revision. I'm so happy for her! 


Speaking of revising, Anne-with-an-e has been helping me revise our books shelves. It's the Summer of the Great Bookcase Declutter. We're trying to be ruthless. It's not easy, but we've sent at least a dozen grocery sacks of books out the door. We are proud of us and we usually reward ourselves with an iced coffee and some reading time. 


Speaking of reading time, I need to pull a book post together. I recently read Marilynne Robinson's Gilead for the first time and it's become one of my favorite books ever. Beautiful. 

Friday, June 16, 2017

Poetry Friday: Leisure

It's been a slightly hectic summer for us so far, but I'm looking forward to some days of lolling around soon. Time to stand and stare ... ah, yes. Good for the soul. 

by William Henry Davies

What is this life if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.

No time to stand beneath the boughs
And stare as long as sheep or cows.

No time to see, when woods we pass,
Where squirrels hide their nuts in grass.

No time to see, in broad daylight,
Streams full of stars, like skies at night.

No time to turn at Beauty's glance,
And watch her feet, how they can dance.

No time to wait till her mouth can
Enrich that smile her eyes began.

A poor life this is if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.


The Poetry Friday round up is at Carol's Corner.

Friday, June 02, 2017

Poetry Friday: Mary Oliver

Go read "Mindful" by Mary Oliver, which begins

Every day 
I see or hear 
that more or less 
kills me 
with delight 

Then come back and tell me what it's put you in mind of.

I wanted to post the whole, gorgeous, little poem here, but I'm mindful of copyright laws, so all I can do is mindfully send you to this link at Google Books. "Mindful" is part of Why I Wake Early: New Poems and is also part of why I adore Mary Oliver, who kills me with delight.


I've been having a blast teaching my Brave Writer class, Kidswrite Basic. I've been so mindful of the fact that every day I read something from these kids that more or less kills me with delight. These kids are brave, and I feel lucky indeed.


The round up today is at Buffy's Blog

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Bits and Pieces of Our Days

We've closed the door (and the math book) on another school year and I'm emitting happy sighs.

When her sisters started college, Ramona and I had adjustments to make in our newly-one-person schoolhouse, but over the last three years we've found our own rhythms and routines. I love our days together.

We're still finishing up our read-aloud of Emily of New Moon, just finished Black as Night, and we have summer plans to read Romeo and Juliet together. (There's never an end point for read-alouds.) Ramona also has plans to work on writing a fairy tale novel this summer, and plenty of other fun, summer diversions await.

Huzzah for summer!


About seven years ago, I wrote this post in which I mentioned that I was bugging my parents to move back to the midwest (after many years of living in farflung places ... Houston, Phoenix, Hot Springs). I'd been bugging them annually about that move, until last year -- Ta Da! -- they made the move! It's been a crazy year for them. My mom fractured her hip just a month before their planned moving date. They still moved on schedule! (They amaze me!) Then she had (her second!) open-heart surgery last October, and in December she got a spinal compression fracture. Enough already! She has recovered beautifully from everything, and both of my parents are inspirational in their positive approaches to such challenges. My mom never wallows in self-pity, and my dad steps up to the plate to be a generous caregiver, and I find myself thinking that I hope I'll be as positive and inspiring when I'm in my 80s. 

The benefits of having them closer are countless. Recently, my dad had the privilege of taking an Honor Flight, and Mom stayed with us while he was gone. The girls and I went to a Mother's Day party with Mom at her retirement community and it was the first Mother's Day we've all spent together in ... how many years? Ever? More birthdays together, more holidays, more trips to the bookstore together, and they want to go see Wicked with us next summer. We love that they finally loaded up that moving van are living in our neck of the woods. 


I'm in Week 2 of my Brave Writer class, Kidswrite Basic, and I am loving it! It's delightful to work with such devoted parents who want the best for their kids and there's nothing I love more than sharing ideas about writing. 

If you've never looked into Brave Writer, I highly recommend checking it out. A couple of great places to start: 

Friday, May 05, 2017

Poetry Friday: Emily Dickinson

I just felt like a little bit of Emily today. 

Go here, to, to read the five perfect lines of "To make a prairie."


The Amazing Jama has the round up this week at Jama's Alphabet Soup.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Poetry Friday: James Hearst

An Atticus pick this week, and a lovely one:

In April
by James Hearst

This I saw on an April day:
Warm rain spilt from a sun-lined cloud,
A sky-flung wave of gold at evening,
(Read the whole poem here, at


The Poetry Friday round up is at Teaching Authors.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Poetry Friday: Wordsworth

Wordsworth always speaks for himself, but I will add that I adore the line, "The Child is the father of the man;" ... happy sighs on this spring day.

Tabatha has the round up at The Opposite of Indifference.

My Heart Leaps Up
by William Wordsworth

My heart leaps up when I behold
      A rainbow in the sky:
So was it when my life began;
So is it now I am a man;
So be it when I shall grow old,
      Or let me die!
The Child is father of the man;
And I could wish my days to be
Bound each to each by natural piety.

(In the public domain.) 

Don't forget to check out all the National Poetry Month happenings:

Monday, April 17, 2017

Recent Reading: The Year of Living Danishly

I did a double take the first time I saw this writer's name. Helen Russell was the name of my theater professor in college and I didn't think my Helen Russell was still around, much less that she'd just spent a year in Denmark testing the happiness waters. I was right: this is not my Helen Russell in any way, shape, or form. This Helen Russell is a British freelance writer who was living in London, and was married to a man who was offered a job at Lego. (It sounds like the beginning of a storybook: Once upon a time, there was a man who went to work at Lego....) 

Lego beckoned (don't Legos always beckon?) and so Helen and Lego Man, as she calls him, moved. Helen, being a journalist and needing to fill the roughly 675 hours a month that it's dark in Denmark in the winter, decided to write about the adventure. She and Lego Man gave themselves a year to decide if they really wanted to make the Land of the Best Pastries on Earth their permanent home or not. She also set out on her own kind of happiness project to discover why Danes are considered the happiest people in the world. (Something to do with the pastries, was my guess.) 

The Year of Living Danishly was delightful, informative, and witty and it had me debating the merits of moving to a Nordic Wonderland. I told Atticus this morning that the whole time I was reading, I found myself nodding, thinking, "Yes, I could do that. I could live there. I wonder if..." and then I'd have to shake it off, return to reality, and remind myself that moving to Denmark is not an option in our lives. This is not a real thing for me. Not now. Not ever. It's just not. But the pastries...And the pace....

(No. We are not moving to Denmark. We're not even contemplating it. Stop acting like it's a conversation you're going to have with Atticus, Karen.) 

I think if there was a place on earth where I could have the lifestyle of Denmark (minus some of its quirks, because, let's face it, it's majorly quirky*), along with their entire nation's stock of candles for proper hygge-ness, and we could throw in their education and healthcare systems, and experience an average daily temperature that approximates San Diego, and I could be promised a few million more hours of sunshine, I might have a real pro and con list to compose.  

But until I find that place, I'll have to content myself with living Midwesternly. It's not quite the same, sigh. Though happily I can say that we at Casa Edmisten are all about the hygge. And books. Witty books like The Year of Living Danishly

*Adding a brief caveat: be aware, if you are sensitive to such things, that Russell does explain the generally casual approach many Danes have to certain intimate things, just fyi. 

Monday, April 10, 2017

On Relevant Radio tomorrow morning at 6 a.m.

I'll be talking to John Harper on Morning Air Tuesday, April 11, at 6 a.m. central time. We'll be talking about Holy Week, and "The Triduum: Kidterrupted." 

Go here to find out what we mean. 

Friday, April 07, 2017

Poetry Friday: Things to Do by Elaine Magliaro and Catia Chien

Just look at that cover. 
Isn't it delightful? 
Now, open the book. 
(What? You don't have it? Go get it now! 
In the meantime, you can take a peek inside 
by visiting this post on Elaine's blog.) 


In Things to DoElaine Magliaro (the poet) and Catia Chien (the artist) have created a thing of beauty. The poems are whimsical, the illustrations are both simple and rich, and the combination makes for a thoroughly satisfying read-aloud experience.

Today I'm sharing one of my favorites from Things to Do, along with its gorgeous illustration:

Things to do if you are the Moon
by Elaine Magliaro

Live in the sky.
     Be bold...
     be shy.

Wax and wane 
     in your starry terrain.

Be a circle of light,
just a sliver of white,
         or hide in the shadows
         and vanish from sight.

Look like a pearl
          when you're brim-full
           and bright.

Hang in the darkness.

             Dazzle the night.


Things to Do was published by Chronicle Books in February. After reading about it on Jama's Alphabet Soup (how I love Jama and her Alphabet Soup!) I put it on my "must get" list. Then I was lucky enough to win the drawing Jama held. Huzzah! 


Irene Latham has the Poetry Friday round up this week at Live Your Poem.

And be sure to visit Jama Rattigan's 2017 National Poetry Month Kidlitosphere Events Roundup for a list of all the poetic goodness going around the blogosphere. 

Thursday, April 06, 2017

Exciting Brave Writer News: I'm joining the team!

Julie Bogart's Brave Writer is an extraordinary writing program. More than that, Julie has always, through her method of teaching language arts, encouraged what she calls, "the Brave Writer lifestyle." That lifestyle has always resonated with me, an unschooly, Charlotte Mason-ish, John Holt-ish, But-I-Still-Like-to-Plan-ish and Writing-(Like-Life)-is-a-Process-ish kind of homeschooling mom.

So, when I heard that Brave Writer was looking for a few more teachers, I jumped to apply, though I didn't dream I'd actually have a shot at joining such a wonderful team. I'm happy to report that I'm on board, and I'll be teaching my first "Kidswrite Basic" class next month.

This link tells you more about how and why Brave Writer works, and this link explains the structure of Brave Writer's online classes.

Kidswrite Basic will run from May 8-June 16, and you can register here.