Thursday, July 26, 2018

Poetry Friday: Birthdays in July

Birthdays in July 

One is sixteen. 
Sixty-one is another. 
One is my daughter. 
My husband's the other. 

© Karen Edmisten 

Ramona was, Atticus always says, his 45th birthday present. 
Happy birthday to my old man and my youngest daughter! 


The Poetry Friday round-up is at Reading to the Core.

Friday, July 13, 2018

Poetry Friday and Bits and Pieces of Our Days

Eeeek! Has it really been a month since I posted?

Summertime and the livin' is easy? Or summertime and we're-so-busy-I-don't-have-time-to-post?

That depends on the week.

Ramona did two theater camps in June, so those weeks flew by. Atticus bought our thespian some lovely flowers, and they lasted for ages:

What is the purple flower? Some kind of ornamental cabbage?


Ramona and I experimented with baking vegan chocolate chip cookies and we discovered that aqua faba (translation: chickpea liquid) is an excellent substitute for eggs. (These were as good or better than my usual recipe.) Yum.

Speaking of all things vegan, how did Omaha get so lucky as to be the landing spot for Isa Chandra Moskowitz's incredible vegan restaurant, Modern Love? Atticus and I recently tried it for the first time and the food was crazy-good. I could eat their gnocchi carbonara all day, every day.


In pet news, we decided to try a thunder shirt for our poor, anxious doggo:

"Okay, it's kind of helping. Do you have it in another color?"

And we're all truly, madly, deeply happy that fireworks season has passed.


We did an overnight at our favorite state park. I like to call this kind of getaway "camping" because the trip requires that I pack insect repellent, no make-up, and we must all be on constant alert for ticks. Combine these factors and I can pretend, in casual conversation with other midwesterners, that I enjoy camping. But in reality, I am deeply appreciative of cabins that are equipped with air conditioning and coffee makers. 


And now, for the point of this post -- Poetry Friday! 

I shared this poem a few years back, along with a story about the swallows that nest on our front and back porches. We love them, despite the mess they create. They've made their peace with us (almost no divebombing to speak of these days) and we happily accept their messes in exchange for the joy they provide.

Happy midsummer, and here's to further mash-ups of easy livin' and too-busyness!


by Leonora Speyer

They dip their wings in the sunset,
They dash against the air
As if to break themselves upon its stillness:
In every movement, too swift to count,
Is a revelry of indecision,
A furtive delight in trees they do not desire
And in grasses that shall not know their weight.

They hover and lean toward the meadow
With little edged cries;
And then,
As if frightened at the earth’s nearness,
They seek the high austerity of evening sky
And swirl into its depth.

(This poem is in the public domain.)


The Poetry Friday round up is at Poetry for Children

Thursday, June 14, 2018

The Poetry Friday Round-up is Here This Week!

Welcome to Poetry Friday! 

(I'm posting early because I know how you guys are. I'm the same way, so welcome, kindred spirits.) 

I was waffling about what to post today. Atticus gave me a couple of ideas and they were lovely and heady but I was in the mood for something about marriage. ("Sorry, honey, I don't want your ideas. I want something about marriage," I said to my spouse. Hmmm. Perhaps there's something wrong with that but there you have it.)

Then something whispered in my ear: Barbara Crooker.  Crooker's poems are so real and rich. Deep currents run through her deceptively simple work -- currents we all swim and sometimes struggle through: love, nature, grief, food, dreams, marriage. Life.

So, I went wading through Crooker's website and came upon this one, which is lovely and new to me:

by Barbara Crooker

The sky hangs up its starry pictures: a swan,
a crab, a horse. And even though you’re
three hundred miles away, I know you see
them, too. Right now, my side
of the bed is empty, a clear blue lake
of flannel. The distance yawns and stretches.

(Read the whole poem here, at The Poetry Foundation.)


After I chose that one, I remembered a poem I wrote about eight years ago, also titled "Sustenance." I decided to share that one today, too.

by Karen Edmisten 

like marriage,
requires the promise
of leavening.

There is flour and water —
foundation — yes,
but it begs
something more:
fermentation, lather,
and growth.
It must take on life,
risk failure,
swell in size,
though never
sloppily escape
its necessary confines.

My husband
mixes flour
and water,
baking bread for me.
It is nothing,
he says.

It is everything,
I counter,
as I watch him
measure, stir yeast
and add salt,
carefully constructing a promise.


For your weekly poetic sustenance, leave your link below, and then go devour some goodness.

Thanks for stopping by!


Friday, June 08, 2018

Poetry Friday: Driving Lessons

Driving Lessons

Child #1:
My right foot
is pressing
desperately on an
invisible brake pedal.
My voice: tense.
Body: rigid.
Knuckles: white.
Mortality: powerfully aware.

Child #2:
Her tranquilizing
confidence becomes
my confidence.
She says the wheel
in her hands feels
just as it did
in her dreams.
What a second-y second child
this girl is.

Child #3:
Six years younger
than her closest sister.
(A final round, then
I'll retire from this gig.)
She has been watching
road signs, listening,

We are both grateful
for those who
came before, for the girls
who have been
helping both of us
to grow up.

© Karen Edmisten


Poems are being rounded up this week at Whispers on the Ridge

Friday, June 01, 2018

Poetry Friday: A Haiku for the First of June

June. Liquid sunlight. 
Cardinal calls the cat but
he, solemn, is still.
© Karen Edmisten 

(Photo credit: Ramona) 

The Poetry Friday round-up is at Buffy's Blog

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Ending the School Year With Beautiful, Heartbreaking Literature (and some poetry)

It is (I say without hyperbole) a perfect novel.

I love it so.

Ramona and I finished reading it aloud today and I'm so glad we lived it together instead of my having "assigned" it. This was, after all, my last opportunity to experience Mockingbird for the first time with one of my daughters.

Betsy told Ramona, before we started the book, "You can't really know how good it is until you finish it."

Today Ramona concurred.


Our other read for May was Thornton Wilder's Our Town. This, too, is a book I thrust into my children's hands and say, "I loved this play desperately when I first read it. Forty years later, I still love it. I hope you will, too." Then I add, "But ... umm ... no pressure, y'know?"

I am a lucky, lucky woman though because all three of my daughters willingly clasp these books to their hearts and look back into my eyes, happily, and with tears.

Emily: "Good-by, Good-by, world. Good-by, Grover's Corners ... Mama and Papa. good-by to clocks ticking and Mama's sunflowers. And food and coffee. And new-ironed dresses and hot baths ... and sleeping and waking up. Oh, earth, you're too wonderful for anybody to realize you. (She looks toward the Stage Manager and asks abruptly through her tears):  

Do any human beings ever realize life while they live it? -- every, every minute?"

Stage Manager: "No. (Pause.) The saints and poets, maybe -- they do, some."

Our Town was inspired by Edgar Lee Masters' "Lucinda Matlock" and the works share a common theme: life is mundane and profound; it is nothing and it is everything. It is the stuff of saints and poets.

Lucinda Matlock

by Edgar Lee Masters

I went to the dances at Chandlerville,
And played snap-out at Winchester.
One time we changed partners,
Driving home in the moonlight of middle June,
And then I found Davis.
We were married and lived together for seventy years,
Enjoying, working, raising the twelve children,
Eight of whom we lost
Ere I had reached the age of sixty.
I spun, I wove, I kept the house, I nursed the sick,
I made the garden, and for holiday
Rambled over the fields where sang the larks,
And by Spoon River gathering many a shell,
And many a flower and medicinal weed—
Shouting to the wooded hills, singing to the green valleys.
At ninety-six I had lived enough, that is all,
And passed to a sweet repose.
What is this I hear of sorrow and weariness,
Anger, discontent and drooping hopes?
Degenerate sons and daughters,
Life is too strong for you—
It takes life to love Life.


The Poetry Friday round up is at Reflections on the Teche this week. 

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Bits and Pieces of Our Days

Spring is finally here, so naturally I have to post pictures of lilacs. It's a law. 

Or a guideline, at the very least. 


 Where has Maggie O'Farrell been all my life? 

I Am, I Am, I Am: Seventeen Brushes With Death is a gorgeous memoir. I went straight from that to one of her novels, This Must Be the Place and I will assuredly be reading more of her lovely work. 


 Ramona's writing group! 

I gathered this collection of objects and we each did a freewrite based on the items here. Our local library recently did this and called the workshop "Chopped: The Writing Edition." It was such a fun idea that I had to steal it. 

For other freewriting ideas, you can always visit the Brave Writer blog. Loads of freewriting prompts! 

Speaking of Brave Writer, I absolutely love being a part of the Brave Writer team and teaching The Writer's Jungle Online. I'm on a little break right now, but I'll be teaching again in the fall, with classes starting on September 10th and October 29th. 

Brave Writer is developing new classes all the time. Check out the amazing array of what's available


Oh, how the Edmistens love the Penderwicks! 


This was one of my Mother's Day gifts from Atticus. 

As a middle child, I must say, it was deeply appreciated. 

Friday, May 11, 2018

Friday, April 27, 2018

Poetry Friday: Poetry Month Blues

Poetry Month Blues 
Karen Edmisten 

Another April -- Poetry Month! --
has slipped through my fingers.
Failed plans, lack of sharing ...
The guilt in me lingers.

"Next year will be different!"
I shout with conviction.
Really? Inner Me sneers,
A doubtful prediction. 

Who knows? Should I worry?
I think not. You see,
every Friday's poetry day.
That's just Weekly Me.


The Poetry Friday round up is hosted today by the amazing Irene Latham, at Live Your Poem.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Poetry Friday: World Make Way, edited by Lee Bennett Hopkins (and pssst: Happy Birthday!)

Could you resist this book? 

I couldn't. I ordered it the second I saw it. 

World Make Way: New Poems Inspired by Art from the Metropolitan Museum of Art, edited by Lee Bennett Hopkins, is precisely what the title says it is. This lovely book begins with this splendid quote from Leonardo da Vinci: 

"Painting is poetry that is seen rather than felt, 
and poetry is painting that is felt rather than seen."

(Pardon me while I pause and nod in appreciation.) 

The poets are delightful, the selections delicious. Here's a snapshot (from the backcover) of the featured artists and poets: 

I'm sure I need not say more? 
(I'll get out of your way as you race to your local indie bookstore....) 


Oh, one more thing: 

Happy 80th birthday to Lee Bennett Hopkins, 
Poetry Advocate Extraordinaire! 
Thank you, Sir Hopkins, for all that you do 
to champion the beauty of language and share it with children the world over. 


Robyn Hood Black has the Poetry Friday round-up 
(and a bunch more birthday wishes for Lee) 

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Meeting Ally Carter

About eight years ago (Seven? Nine? Something like that -- whenever she was at that junior high-ish age), Betsy started reading Ally Carter's Gallagher Girls series. Then she went through the Heist Society books, devoured all of Embassy Row, and somewhere along the way, introduced her little sister to Ally Carter too. Ramona promptly inhaled every Ally Carter book she could get her hands on (which wasn't too hard -- Betsy owned most of them.)

Fast forward to a few weeks ago. The girls discovered they could get their hands on a signed copy of Carter's brand new book, Not If I Save You First from an indie bookseller in another state. They promptly ordered it, and just a day or two after it arrived, Ramona spotted big news on Twitter: Ally Carter was coming to an indie bookstore just a short distance from us. (Ahem ... when you live in a small town in the midwest, everything worth doing that is under 2-3 hours away is "a short distance.")

So it went on the calendar!
We counted down!
Monday, April 9th arrived!

Ramona was sickish, but it would've taken a coma to keep her away from this book signing. Anne-with-an-e had never gotten in on the CarterMania, but she came along just because, hey, it's a bookstore, and hey, the rest of us are sparkling company.

Betsy and Ramona talked about what to say to Ally Carter when they met her. They speculated that the fangirling could spiral out of control -- what if they sputtered, spewed, misspoke, and embarrassed themselves with things like, "We loved the Grungy Goblin series ... umm, I mean Gallagher Girls! And Horse Solemnity -- No! Heist Society! And of course we loved Eatery Rowboat. Doh! Embassy Row!"

In the end, they slaughtered nary a title, remained composed while asking questions ("What book or writer inspired you to want to be a writer?" and "What advice do you have for someone who loves writing and would like to get her writing published?"), we bought a couple more books, and we all survived the long book-signing line. When it was our turn, we all fangirled, truth be told. And Ally Carter could not have been kinder or more gracious. She was truly lovely, and gave so much of her self and her time to each and every girl (and mom) there.

The next day we had a fun little exchange with her on Twitter and today Ramona said, "Do people still say 'shook'? Because I'm still shook."

Some of my fondest mom/daughter/road trip memories involve book signings and being shook in the company of my daughters. (Remember Ramona and Jim Arnosky? Sigh.) And sometimes, writers you originally met online become the dearest of friends.

Finally, it just has to be said: indie bookstores are the best. Thanks, Bookworm.

Friday, April 06, 2018

Poetry Friday: Magdelen Walks, by Oscar Wilde

Magdalen Walks
Oscar Wilde

The little white clouds are racing over the sky,
And the fields are strewn with the gold of the flower of March,
The daffodil breaks under foot, and the tasselled larch
Sways and swings as the thrush goes hurrying by.

A delicate odour is borne on the wings of the morning breeze,
The odour of leaves, and of grass, and of newly upturned earth,
The birds are singing for joy of the Spring’s glad birth,
Hopping from branch to branch on the rocking trees.

And all the woods are alive with the murmur and sound of Spring,
And the rose-bud breaks into pink on the climbing briar,
And the crocus-bed is a quivering moon of fire
Girdled round with the belt of an amethyst ring.

And the plane to the pine-tree is whispering some tale of love
Till it rustles with laughter and tosses its mantle of green,
And the gloom of the wych-elm’s hollow is lit with the iris sheen
Of the burnished rainbow throat and the silver breast of a dove.

See! the lark starts up from his bed in the meadow there,
Breaking the gossamer threads and the nets of dew,
And flashing adown the river, a flame of blue!
The kingfisher flies like an arrow, and wounds the air.

(This poem is in the public domain.) 


Thursday, April 05, 2018

Bits and Pieces of Our Days

Happy spring from my backyard to yours. 


Despite the fact that spring hasn't fully arrived, Atticus has been out running (of course.) 
Last week he ran in a ten-mile race with 1,999 other people, came in 326th overall, and 2nd place in his age division. (I think they categorize our age as something like, "Old Enough to Be Called a Senior Citizen But Not Old Enough to Retire. Congratulations.") 

Anyway. I'm proud of him. The girls and I stayed with old friends and drank lots of coffee and ate scones. I was proud of us. We came in first in our division, too. We are the champions. 


Ramona has been drawing the imagined adventures of Kylo Ren and Rey. She calls them Kylo-Rey Doodles, and here are a couple of recent ones. The first one is called "Makeover Night": 



On a serious note, Ramona finished reading The Diary of Anne Frank yesterday and we had to just sit down and cry for awhile together. 


Anne-with-an-e is truly, officially a librarian with true, official Librarian Superpowers. She told me that the other night at work, she was keeping an eye on some kids who seemed to be unattended and were starting to get just a little bit rowdy. As she pushed a book cart nearer to where the kids were, she overheard one of them say, "You guys! Is she a librarian?" The kids got quieter. A minute later, she heard, "You guys! There's a librarian coming!" and suddenly ... the Kid Noise was no more. 


Betsy is participating in April Camp NaNoWriMo. She's writing novel #8, I think. Or is it #9? I just asked her and she can't remember either. Lotsa novels. One of them is gonna get published one day. Perhaps it will be the one she's currently revising? She wrote it for Camp NaNoWriMo in July of 2016 and is on her third draft. I get excited for her every time I read it. It's a fantasy adventure called ... oooh, sorry! You'll have to wait till it's published to find out the title. 


It's April already, people! April! 
I blinked four times and March was gone. Of course, an hour was stolen from me via the inhumanity that is known as Daylight Saving Time, but still ... months shouldn't be allowed to careen out of control like that. 
And yet they keep doing it. 


Happy April, Happy Octave of Easter! 

Friday, March 30, 2018

Good Friday, Poetry Friday, Merton Friday

Fr. Louis (Thomas Merton) was such a prolific and moving poet that it's hard to decide which poem to share today. "Death" is a piercing one -- it jolts us (Take time to tremble lest you come without reflection / To feel the furious mercies of my friendship, / (Says death) because I come as quick as intuition)  but ends with the infinite hope of a tiny act of faith.

Read the whole poem here.


Heidi Mordhorst has the round up this week at My Juicy Little Universe. She's also sharing details about her kick-off of Irene Latham's annual Progressive Poem


April is National Poetry Month. For a jam-packed post full of every Kidlitosphere event you can imagine, visit Jama Rattigan at Jama's Alphabet Soup

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Bits and Pieces of Our Days (The Picture Edition)

Ramona's been drawing again:

Howl and Sophie from Howl's Moving Castle

Wonder Woman! 

Speaking of art, she and I have been using the lovely and whimsical art from this page-a-day calendar as inspiration for our own doodles, too.  The calendar was a gift from dear old pal Lissa, and we look forward every day to the next thing in A Year of Tiny Pleasures. 

This one happened to fall on the same day we had a blizzard. 

Atticus has the best kids on his speech team. They gave him a Dundie!


Doggo is looking forward to spring, and to shedding her winter coat: 


Me, too.