Sunday, January 25, 2015

Roz Chast + Mark Strand + National Poetry Month = I Want That Poster

April is National Poetry Month and every year the Academy of American Poets comes up with a marvelous poster. This year, the poster combines one of my favorite cartoonists (Roz Chast) and a favorite poet (Mark Strand*).  Love.

*May he rest in peace. Strand just passed away in November of 2014. Here's a lovely piece about him from his friend, Charles Simic.

(With thanks to Ruth for bringing the release of the poster to my attention.) 

Friday, January 23, 2015

It's Billy Time

I first thanked this little guy about three and a half years ago.* He made my day then, and he's making it again today.

by Billy Collins

(More of his recitations here.)

The Poetry Friday round up is at A Teaching Life.


*Thanks to the Poetry Foundation, a place I love for putting "poetry" and "foundation" together.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Catholic and Married: Leaning Into Love (In Which Atticus and I Write a Foreword and You Discover His Real Name is Tom)

Awhile back, Atticus (okay, okay -- it's Tom) and I were asked to write a foreword for a new book that has just been published by Our Sunday Visitor: Catholic and Married: Leaning Into Love. We were delighted to write about mawwiage. Entering into that "bwessed event, that dweam within a dweam" is the best thing we've ever done. (Until we had kids. Now they're the best thing we've ever done, although Tom's homemade red sauce rivals the miracle of children. I'm not kidding. You have to come over.)

Edited (and with a chapter) by Art and Laraine Bennett, contributors include Simcha Fisher, Brandon McGinley, David and Amber Lapp, Jenny Uebbing, Meg T. McDonnellThomas LickonaJoseph D. White, and Dan and Hallie Lord.

Here's more information about the book. Tom and I were delighted to be a small part of it.

But I'm still going to scribble Atticus on his cards and gifts and those cute little marital love notes.

Monday, January 19, 2015

The Downton Abbey Season 5 Workout: Courtesy of Anne-with-an-e

Anne-with-an-e and I were talking about Downton and she said, "Y'know, if we came up with a Downton Abbey workout game, we'd be in shape in no time. For example, 'Mary is mean to Edith: Five jumping jacks.'"

She kept going, and I said, "You have to write this down."

I now have a blog post for today.

So. Here's your workout. Enjoy the show, and, hey, you've never felt so invigorated!

Mary is mean to Edith: 5 jumping jacks
Thomas gives someone an evil look: 4 push-ups
Robert is a jerk: 5 sit-ups
The music reminds us to worry: 1 lap around the room
Mr. Bates is suspected of a crime: 6 crunches
Edith looks wistful: Touch toes
Miss Bunting offends someone: Jog in place
Thomas does something sad, yet also stupid: 10 deep knee bends
A Dowager Countess Zinger: Hop on one foot for 30 seconds

Friday, January 16, 2015

Poetry Friday: Ramona's Haiku

One of Ramona's best friends had an idea for their writing group. They were each to compose three haiku about animals, then read the poems aloud to one another, and guess the animals that have been immortalized in five syllables, then seven, then five.

Here are Ramona's contributions:

Large, and hairy, too. 
Sharp teeth, glowing eyes as well. 
I'm gonna say ... Yuck. 

Hippity, hop, hop. 
Fluffy and adorable. 
I have lots of them. 

Slow and steadily
makes its way across my yard. 
Hey! Don't be so shy!

(Answers in the comments. And, fyi, I was wrong and far too narrow-thinking on the first one.)

Irene Latham has the round up at Live Your Poem.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

We've Been to Pemberley: A Post in Bullet Points

  • Yesterday: finished up watching the 1995 Pride and Prejudice with Ramona, Betsy and Anne-with-an-e. (Betsy, of course, has already seen it approximately 97 times, but we had all promised ourselves that we would watch the whole thing together over Christmas break. We were a little late, but we did it.) 
  • This morning: Ramona suggested that I "take a turn about the room." (We are all amused to no end by this and we will not stop saying it.) 
  • Today: Ramona made a new Minecraft world: "Pemberley," she said, "complete with fainting couch." 
  • Tonight: showed Austenbook to Ramona. We giggled in a most ladylike fashion. 
  • Also tonight: Betsy may read a bit more of Emma aloud to Ramona. 
  • Next up for girls' movie night: Pride and Prejudice (2005), Pride and Prejudice (1940), perhaps Pride and Prejudice (1980)....

Friday, January 09, 2015

Poetry Friday: Wallace Stevens

I've hated him, been intrigued by him, stolen from been inspired by him, laughed about him, cried about him, loved him (I especially loved him when I wrote about him.) 

Today, I'm simply going to send you to him, to "The Snow Man," and ask you what you think of it, what you think of him. 

The Snow Man
by Wallace Stevens 

One must have a mind of winter

(read and listen to the whole poem here, at The Poetry Foundation.) 


Wednesday, January 07, 2015

I May Not Be Starting Off On the Right Foot

I sat down today with a piece of chocolate cake and this book: 

Year of No Sugar: A Memoir by Eve O. Schaub

I'll keep you posted. 

Tuesday, January 06, 2015

A Beautiful Article About Miscarriage, Grief, and Burial

Yesterday, Catholic Stand ran a touching piece called "The Forgotten Corporal Work of Mercy."

Perinatal Bereavement Nurse, Tammy Ruiz, shares her experience of helping grieving parents. She had kind words to say about my book, After Miscarriage, which I greatly appreciate, but I'm sending you over there for Tammy's words, not for mine:
In Turkey, I visited Mary’s House and the tomb of St. John in Ephesus as well as ancient Churches in Istanbul. But as I mentioned in my column about visiting Rome I feel closest to God when I am caring for precious little ones and their parents — even closer than standing in an amphitheater where Paul preached — for our vocations are precious individual gifts to us from God.
I'm so grateful for amazing women like Tammy who do the vital work of supporting and assisting grieving parents.

More about Tammy Ruiz can be found on her blog, Life and Loss. And here's a wonderful post from her about helping others through the daze and the fog that is grief.

Friday, January 02, 2015

Poetry Friday: T.S. Eliot's Journey of the Magi.

What else could I post on this Friday before the Epiphany?

Journey of the Magi
by T.S. Eliot 

'A cold coming we had of it,
Just the worst time of the year

For a journey,

It's an astounding poem. If you've never read it, do yourself a favor -- go read, then listen to Eliot read it -- the link is here.

If you're thinking you're not a big fan of Eliot, give it a try anyway. Then try to answer these questions:

How does he do that?
How did he haul around the reputation of being too scholarly and too philosophical to write poetry, and then do that?

This poem is such a perfect melding of earthly earthiness and supernatural doings. Eliot captures that down-to-your-bones discomfort, the squirming, the revelation, the discovery that this isn't really my home -- that knowledge which at first is both comforting and terrifying.


The round up today is at The Miss Rumphius Effect.

Thursday, January 01, 2015

Bits and Pieces of Our (Last) Days (of 2014)

It's been quiet here on the blog because I've been on vacation in every way.  (Well, for awhile I was sick, but then it morphed into vacation.) Recent goings-on:

We made gingerbread houses again. Because, surprisingly, that's just what we do. 

A blurry Ramona with houses, mid-assembly. 

The final products: 

 It's our sixth year of making them (thanks, Magical Mrs. M.!) and I finally created a gingerbread house label for the blog. No TARDIS or 221-B this year -- Ramona went candy-laden old school, Betsy did the Psych office (that's the Blueberry parked out front) and Anne did the retirement home of Sherlock Holmes (the yellow jellybeans next to the house are bees and hives): 


I finally got around to Instagram. As much as I love Instagram and Facebook (certain aspects of it...there's the whole love/hate thing), Twitter, et al, I know that sometimes I post things in those places and then neglect my blog. But the blog is the only place I connect with some of you, so today I'm playing catch-up (I'm looking at you, Tanita.)

From Instagram: 

Sketching, from Big Hero 6, courtesy of Ramona. 
And, just because I like to look at them: Madeleines. 

From Facebook: 

From Twitter: 

Well, that's about all that my vacation brain can handle today. 
All too soon, it will be back to work and real life. Atticus said last night, "See, here's the problem with my vacations -- I'm so happy to get to be with my family all the time, and then, bam, it's back to work." I love that man. 

Happy Eighth Day of Christmas! 

Friday, December 26, 2014

Poetry Friday: A Christmas Card - Written in 1947 by Thomas Merton

Federico Barocci, Nativity, 1597

A Christmas Card - Written in 1947
by Thomas Merton

When the white stars talk together like sisters
And when the winter hills
Raise their grand semblance in the freezing night,
Somewhere one window
Bleeds like the brown eye of an open force.

Hills, stars,
White stars that stand above the eastern stable.

Look down and offer Him.
The dim adoring light of your belief.

(Read the rest here.)


The round up is at Reading, Teaching, Learning.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Read Aloud Role Reversal

Yesterday, thanks to the lovely little bug I've been fighting (Is it a cold? Just a cough? Sinus stuff? Who knows? Who cares? It's finally getting much better today), I didn't feel up to our usual, annual read-aloud of Madeleine L'Engle's The Twenty-four Days Before Christmas

We all love this book beyond measure, but my voice just wasn't going to cooperate. So ... grown daughters to the rescue!

Anne-with-an-e and Betsy read it aloud to me yesterday. To Ramona, too, of course, but I sort of selfishly reveled in the fact that my girls were reading to me. Read-aloud Karma, if you will.

That is all.

We will now return to our regularly scheduled reader.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Poetry Friday on the Fourth Sunday of Advent

I've been a little down with a virus, and haven't been getting much done beyond the essentials, but I still wanted to send you over to the round up at Buffy's Blog. Just because I didn't have the energy for a post doesn't mean you shouldn't enjoy some poetry, so I'm sending you wandering.

A few highlights this week:

Jama, as always.

Laura Purdie Salas is never not delightful.

Linda, highlighting UA Fanthorpe (and The Wicked Fairy at the Manger is a must-read.)

Tabatha, of course.

Back later with more....

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

How a Secular Christmas Song Became Our Song (for Atticus)

from the archives:

We hadn't been married very long and we didn't have much money. It was almost Christmas and although we weren't Christians we always gave each other gifts. The pickings would be slim this year, though, as the budget for presents was non-existent.

Atticus knew that I loved Nat King Cole's smoky voice crooning The Christmas Song. I had described it as "almost perfect." But this was in the days before digital music and mp3 players. I could hear my favorite song of the season only if it happened to come on the radio, as I didn't own the album. Atticus wanted to buy it for me, but our budget was so tight that even a new cassette tape (remember cassette tapes?) wasn't a possibility that year.

It was Christmas Eve, and I had to work. Feeling a little disheartened that we didn't have much to give one another, I was nevertheless looking forward to the meal that Atticus would no doubt have ready when I got home.

When I reached our apartment, I put my key in the lock and thought, "It's awfully quiet in there." I opened the door and found a candlelit room, heard a click, and then Nat's smooth voice. Atticus took my hand and we danced.

My dear, sweet husband had scrounged around our apartment, found a blank tape, and then waited. He had vigilantly stationed himself by the radio all day long as he cooked, waiting to hear and capture that song. He waited and waited some more, and finally hit the "record" button when the coveted song made its appearance.

He captured it; he captured me again. And ever since, when Nat starts to sing, we dance.