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Crap on a Cracker!

May 22, 2015 Leave a comment

Do you have a favorite idiom? I have many, and if I can’t think of one, I am very comfortable making one up. Of course, this skill is more often due to my inability to remember real idioms during my time of need, but whatever. I think my new favorite was the time I was irritated while driving. (As an aside, the older I get, the crankier I get while driving. Oldest wagers that by the time I’m 80, I’ll get out at traffic lights and harangue other drivers and then whack their cars with my cane. He may be on to something.) I was trying to clean up my notoriously potty-mouth and instead of shouting to the imbecile with car keys the error of his ways, I instead hollered “crap on a cracker!” (I grew up hearing ‘Christ on a cross’ often…so I suppose the alliteration stayed with me?)

“Crap on a cracker!” has a certain ring to it, doesn’t it? You’re welcome to try it out the next time you are feeling crabby. I promise, all those hard “c” sounds will feel great as you holler them. Just don’t holler them at me.

I have a long-held love for the author Julia Alvarez. I was living in Minnesota when I decided I needed to finally read some of the new classics I was feeling guilty over having never read. Each week I would drive to my local library and see if Isabel Allende‘s House of the Spirits was in. I would start at the aisle and walk towards the other end, trailing my fingers across the book spines.

That is a wonderful thing to do in case you are not familiar with that sensation. I fully believe that books talk to you, even before you ever open their covers. Seriously, go try it. Visit a library or book store, hell even someone’s bookshelf. (But get permission first, otherwise it’s breaking and entering and that leads to jail time. Trust me on this.)

Let your fingers slide across those spines and you will feel their lives as sure as if they had knobby backbones just like yourself.

Every week I did this; sliding my fingers along the books, feeling the differences in paper, cloth, protective covers. I’d breathe in deeply all that glorious book smell and be happy.

And every week, when I got to where Allende should be, she wasn’t. And then I’d be a wee bit less happy. I needed to expand my reading list! Help me out here, book universe!

It was the time before computerized holds and such things. Today I would have put it on hold and then realized that I was something akin to being the 863rd person in line for the book. But things were different back in 1996. Instead, I walked between the stacks with hope. And my finger held out, meeting my old friends…the fiction writers with last names starting with the letter A.

Every week my finger would eventually land not on Allende, but on Alvarez, who luck would have it was shelved immediately after Allende. Week after week I pulled off the shelf not House of the Spirits but In the Time of the Butterflies. Sigh. Back to the card catalogue I’d go.

Finally, one week I checked it out and fell in love with Alvarez, her sisters, and her voice which all come together so beautifully in In the Time of the Butterflies, seriously, read this book folks. (When I finally got a copy of House of the Spirits I found I loved it too. Love me some magical realism, I do.)

A few years later I was teaching 10th grade English and at that time it was a survey course. Imagine my thrill when I came across Alvarez’ short story “Daughter of Invention”. It is a fabulous story of Alvarez, her struggle to find her voice, and her mother’s challenge to master our idioms.

It is our use of idioms that sets us apart. It makes us colorful and illustrates how closely we stay within the lines. And it is a lovely residue of where we came from…and the people we knew there.

I figure when my children grow up and go far from this corner of the world or galaxy, they will surprise someone by shouting something odd and unexpected. It might be “crap on a cracker” or it could be by calling someone an “apple”, but in either case they will prove that not only did I mother them well in my mother tongue, but that I imprinted upon the poor things a need to speak their minds, even if it doesn’t always make sense to anyone else.

Go out and be colorful. And for crap’s sake, color outside the lines if that’s what you want to do!

 

Having News and Being Sorta Shy

April 17, 2015 8 comments

I have a literary agent.

Yes, I know I technically already told folks that news back in March when I wrote, “Leaves Unfurling,” so this post is superfluous. Except that in the month since I signed my contract with Danielle M. Smith of Red Fox Literary and updated my bio, I’ve had time to sit with the news.

I guess I needed to sit with it for a bit.

Remember back when you were a teenager and you started a relationship with someone you really, really liked? Someone you thought was everything awesome and you wanted to yell it from the rooftops and yet keep it a secret?  Not because you were ashamed but because you wanted to hold it close where it was nice and safe? Read more…

Scaffold Me and You Too

March 27, 2015 2 comments

There’s a bit of jargon we teacher types use to describe when aspects of the teaching process help the student to achieve more and more independent learning: scaffolding. As a high school teacher, I typically used it to describe actions or activities that developed skills required by future activities. Mastering baby steps, if you will.

I have to admit that even though I’ve left the classroom, I still use the term. I do this because I like it. I see it in action in parenting, in ministry, in friendship. Whether it is called “scaffolding” or not, we do it for one another when we come together and support one another to be better.

Scaffolding is great as far as I’m concerned. Read more…

Leaves Unfurling

March 20, 2015 5 comments

According to the calendar, today is the first day of spring. Of course, an arbitrary date on a calendar doesn’t necessarily line up with what a body might be experiencing. A friend of mine, the writer Linda Grimes, uploaded a video of the snow gently falling in her front yard this morning. For her and her East coast counterparts, spring feels a bit off. And, of course, out here on the West coast, spring began creeping into being several weeks ago.

Sitting down at my kitchen table this morning, I realized the trees along the creek have leaves on them. I don’t remember there being leaves on them yesterday. But they are certainly there today. The dogwoods in my yard still are leafless and the big maple across the field still is in pre-bud form. But those birches across the way definitely unfurled their leaves in the past few days. Read more…

Enough Is Enough

March 2, 2015 5 comments

I have a few things rattling about my brain this morning and so I’m not sure how they will come out, but I know they need to come out. I’m pouring myself another cup of coffee and hoping to compose myself and my words enough.

It is an interesting word: enough. Depending on the context, it brings up so many things for a body and soul. Read more…

Elbow Grease Required

January 9, 2015 Comments off

I moved into my new house on December 23rd. Today, a mere two weeks and three days later, I stood in my brand new shower and scrubbed at the spots already setting up house on my glass shower doors.

Two weeks and I already have soap scum/water spots? WTH universe. I thought I had a little more time before the evidence of use took hold.

That’s what I get for thinking. Read more…

Categories: family, Life, Writing Tags: , ,

Friday It Up!

May 16, 2014 2 comments

Earlier this morning I tweeted “Advil starting to kick in. Ah…let’s Friday it up, folks.” In quick succession, two of my Twitter folks responded to that tweet which got me thinking about gerunds, social media, and Fridays. As one does, obviously.

First off, I adore the community I have carved out for myself on Twitter. The folks I follow are largely folks I’d actually want to go have coffee with, or people whom making small talk would be fun and not a challenge. Does that make sense? There are lots and lots of people whose company I enjoy when I’m around them, but having conversations with me require me to engage my full-extrovert-skills. Somedays I just don’t have that in me. Because I’m a creative type which means all that natural extroversion takes a toll. In other words, my extroverted self is balanced against a soul which can easily be trampled by all the noise and energy of mishmashing people. Read more…

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