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Showing posts from October, 2008

Blog Your Blessings: Right Here, Right Now

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This week's blessing is this very moment, and every very moment that preceded it time and time again. I think I first learned this lesson years ago when I worked part-time as a waitress. Though everyone is hungry at once and wants everything served at once and wants to be the center of the universe at once, a waitress can be in one place at one time doing one thing at a time. Learning that one meant being able to do more things and to do them more efficiently than I could have if I had been pulled apart by the demanding eyes of all those hungry people.

When my daughter was born ten years ago Wednesday, I relearned that lesson. From the moment she landed all warm and wet on my belly and hungry and noisy, she was the only project on hand at any given moment until started working again. Dust settled. Laundry accumulated. Chores piled up. But nobody died or suffered as a result. And the time to address those needs presented itself in such away that I am not typing from under a ten-y…

Skywatch Friday: Art Imitates Nature

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Thursday Thirteen: Verse 22 of the Tao

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Verse 22 of the Tao tells us: "The ancients said, 'Accept and you become whole,
Once whole, the world is as your home.'"

Which is wonderful if you can get it. I feel at the moment that I want to get it-- especially at work, where some difficult kids who don't want to learn don't want anyone around them to learn, either. Some days they wear me out; our interactions become conflicts between "I Want You to Learn" and "I Don't Care so Leave Me Alone"--"Life Is Beautiful" versus "Go away, Miss."

So I've decided to face every day with a genuine smile even when doing so requires more imagination that I think I can muster. I have decided to insist on joy. Here are 13 lines from this verse that leads me to the conclusion there is no other way to live well:

Accept and you become whole,
Bend and you straighten
Empty and you fill,
Decay and you renew,
Want and you acquire,
Fulfill and you become confused.

The sage accepts the world
A…

My World Tuesday: Stained Glass at St. John's

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This photo captures detail in a stained glass window at St. John's Episcopal Church in Waterbury, Connecticut. The window itself is a gigantic eagle flying over the Connecticut hills, and this small cityscape in the corner captures the church (far left, along with the Mattatuck Museum and a few other Brass City landmarks. St. John's is one of the oldest Episcopal parishes in New England and contains some very beautiful stained glass and other works of ecclesiastical art. It's a beautiful place committed as much to the needs of the people in the community as to celebrating the beauty and wonder of the world, all in the name of God.

My World Tuesday

Weekend Snapshot: Blessed Peace

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One Single Impression: Gift

My mother gave me a gift
In passing
One day long ago:

Don't ask people questions,
she said;
People will tell you what
They want you to know.

What they want you to know
They want you to know what

They want you to know

So I don't ask questions.
I let the stories find me.

Stories? Yes.
They are people

Always people who don't much bother
With the where and the when
And often not very much even with the who

They start with the what--
What happened
What happened to them
What they made happen

But they don't stay there very long

Always they are interested
In the why of the thing

And if these stories are my friends
We look for it together,
Always and forever
And without ever asking

Seeking to know why.

One Single Impression

Blog Your Blessings: Friends who Listen

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This week's blessing: Friends who listen, even when they're tired, too.

Blog Your Blessings

Skywatch Friday: The Apple Boughs for No Man

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Thursday Thirteen: Word is the Word

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An eighth-grade girl counts off the languages of which she has some knowledge: "I speak English, Spanish, French, Italian..."
Her boyfriend smiles and looks up from the desk where he rests his head. "Yeah?"
"You know it!"
He is not finished: "Yeah? You speak Ghetto?"
She isn't finished, either: "I'm speaking to you, ain't I?"

Ghetto, the language of Over There. I am learning to understand the speak if not speak the speak, one word at a time. Today's word is Word. In the beginning was the Word. Much later, the Word was made flesh. And the word is forever. In the ghetto, as in the church, the word is everything:

1. Word: "Hello."
2. Word: "I agree."
3. Word: "I am favorably impressed."
4. Word: "Really?"
5. Word: "I am indifferent."
6. Word: "I approve."
7. Word: "Hell, yes."
8. Word: "Promise of Truth."
9. Word: "You can say that again."
10. Word…

Wordless Wednesday: The Rhythm of Autumn

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My World Tuesday: Angels in the Architecture

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Here is Mary presiding over the Basilica of the Imamaculate Conception in Waterbury, Connecticut. I didn't realize until after I took the photo that she is pigeon-proof.

My World Tuesday

Weekend Snapshot: Where Have They Gone?

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One Single Impression: Never Ending

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What some call forever
I call Sunday afternoon
Two-thirty exactly
When the sun is still high
And there is no thought of night—
No thought even of the sapphire
Brightness of early dusk
That yields too soon to endless,
Silent pitch punctuated
By indifferent stars
And an overripe moon—
No thoughts of any of that
At that never ending moment
I call two-thirty, Sunday,
When nobody is hungry or tired
Or angry or sad or frightened
About anything.
It is all good.

I call it forever.
I dream Sunday
Into Monday
And beyond.

The dream is never-ending;
Too often I dream it alone.

One Single Impression

Blog Your Blessings: Yeah, That

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Some days I go out for a walk and wonder about the good things. There are a million and there are none all at once. Nothing specific will come to mind, but I will feel a sense of general goodness that tells me it's all good. It's all special. Good is a state of being.

I think of stopping by my parents' with my daughter to visit on Columbus Day, of going for a walk with my camera and taking in the color while she showed my folks some new online game or other.

I think of bringing the guinea pig down to keep me company while I'm making dinner. He taste tests the salad like only a true and loyal friend could.

I think of pleasant conversations with good, old friends who know the score and who care about me as much as I do about them. How what we do and how and why are relevant hearthside as well as in the anonymous outside world.

I think of the kids who go out of their way to say hello or to share their deeply private love poems or to ask me how long germs can stay alive in you…

Skywatch Friday: Brooklyn Bridge

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Thursday Thirteen: Autumn dba 'The Fall'

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1. I like autumn, which is currently doing business as The Fall2. Because everything does. Always the atmosphere is animated with color.3. This most vibrant and beautiful time of dying is full of sound, too. 4. There is no silence. Anywhere.5. And there is more light. It gets through everywhere and touches everything.6. That warmth and light ignite the secret incense of autumn,7. And the air is filled with the fragrance of leaves and wood and earth.8. At night the moon is visible--in fact, it is touchable9. As it rests in the cradle of bare branches at the tops of trees.10. The moon surrenders to the trees; the trees, to the cold; the cold, to 11. Small fires and the warm breath of living things12. That continue their steady march to winter13. Through leaves that (like I said) will have the final word.

Thursday Thirteen

Wordless Wednesday: Gritty Graffiti in Brooklyn

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Weekend Snapshot: Geometry Lessons in Brooklyn

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One Single Impression: Gold

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We embrace,
The light and I,
At dawn
And at sunset

But not in between

Never at noon
When the sun is high
And everywhere
Over and around
All at once
And nowhere

I forget about it then
Though I am breathing it
Tasting it
Bathing in it

Thus I forget
My best love

Forget again and again and again

We are strangers at midday,
So familiar are we

Despite the intense light and heat.

On the edge of dark,
Though,
We are reacquainted

And we are close.

One Single Impression

Blog Your Blessings: 'Everybody Sit Down!'

Part of the challenge of teaching, like the challenge of parenting, is waiting to see the results and accepting that I may never see the results. I have to live in the hope that I am getting something right and that the right something is landing in the minds and hearts of the kids in my classes. (I have the same hope for my daughter on a much deeper, personal level.)

This week's blessing came from Mark on Monday. He gave me a pretty clear indication something was working in his class. He's a sixth grade boy who couldn't read for beans six weeks ago and often refused to read aloud in class for that reason. He'd come in nervous and agitated and fiddle and fidget with whatever he had. When the music teacher issued him drumsticks, I thought my game was up.

Then Monday came. I handed the kids copies of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz that I had bought because that's what they said they wanted to read. They were thrilled to hold new books. They were even careful not to crease …

Skywatch Friday: At Ease at Home

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Thursday Thirteen 54: I Will not Try to Change You

This one is for my students.

1. I will not try to change you, child--
2. Not in any way.
3. I accept that you are perfect
4. As you are,
5. Complete and whole.
6. Child, you are my teacher.
7. You teach me patience,
8. Humility, compassion, justice.
9. You don't bend; I don't yield.
10. In the space between us,
11. Lessons unfold.
12. I reach way over the edge
13. For you, and I learn.

Believe me, child, I learn.

Thursday Thirteen

Wordless Wednesday: Images on a Bank in Waterbury

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Weekend Snapshot: The Brass Horse

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One Single Impression: Serendipity

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Walking out from home
One tired August day,
I sought the musk of summer:
Overblown roses, dripping pines,
Cedar, fir, and still water....
I knew what I wanted.

Instead I climbed up a trellis
Of wild grapes,
The aroma of which
Held the promise of new wine
In the cool early evening of autumn
And a smoldering fire....

And I was tantalized.

One Single Impression

The Defeat of Habit

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Creativity can solve almost any problem. The creative act, the defeat of habit by originality, overcomes everything. (George Lois)

Blog Your Blessings: 'Elements of Style'

I could hear myself sounding like I was in love with these men. I urged them to read their book, to follow their style, to trust everything they wrote. To believe they could change their lives forever by teaching them to write well.

I went on and on.

About E.B. White and the tiny masterpiece that bears his name alongside William Strunk's.

I was daring the kids I tutor for the SATs to get a copy of Elements of Style and trust it like they could never trust a living English teacher to teach them the basic rules of grammar, usage, style.

Strunk wrote the thing in 1919 to create a basic style sheet from which his students at Cornell University could learn to write clearly and therefore effectively. In 1957, White prepared this little book for publication by MacMillan. In his introduction, White lists the contents: "Seven rules of usage, eleven principles of composition, a few matters of form, and a list of words and expressions commonly misused--that was the sum and substance of Pr…

Skywatch Friday: A Good Morning

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Thursday Thirteen 53: Why I Love Halloween

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My daughter's birthday at the end of this month heralds the season of crinkling wrapping paper that doesn't end until the first blissfully silent fall of snow in January. One birthday seems to follow another after a holiday until all of this comes to a halt on Christmas and the following week of, "I can't believe I forgot to...."

By the time it's over, I remember why I so much love Halloween:

1. Everybody is included in a party
2. I which the pure spirit of play permeates everything.
3. Costumes reflect the wildest dreams of the children wearing them,
4. As they receive the wonderful gift of every kind of candy
5. And people invite them into their bright and warm homes
6. So they can pick their favorite treats.
7. Kids are at the center of everything,
8. And their pleasure in receiving bits of candy
9. Reminds us it doesn't take much to be happy, to feel good.
10. Everyone laughs.

11. Halloween is a feast of the imagination,
12. So there is no reason or need to opt…