Showing posts from 2016

Taking a break again!

Though I love this blog, I will take a break from posting in 2017. I won't take it down, though!

As a farewell, here is a poem I wrote about school and food:

3 Feb. 2016
School: Food They say an army moves on its stomach. So school must be an army. Korean food: garlicky kim-chi, rice-veggie-beef  bibampap.
Studying is brain work and depletes the brain of energy. Energy=calories, so studying calls for food. Mexican food: lardy refried beans, corn-husk-wrapped tamales.
Studying makes you think about food:                 2x + 3y=5 pieces of California roll sushi A sonnet ends with a couplet, two rhyming lines, which implies two chimichangas (but not from Chipotle).
The school café is okay, but limited. Favorites are                 Tomato bisque soup                 Egg salad sandwich with sprouts on whole-wheat                 toast
Just down the street you can get some Italian food:                 Calzones, antipasto, NY cheesecake.
They won’t let you eat in classrooms with decent carpet, but I …

When the Frost is on the Punkin BY JAMES WHITCOMB RILEY

When the frost is on the punkin and the fodder’s in the shock,  And you hear the kyouck and gobble of the struttin’ turkey-cock,  And the clackin’ of the guineys, and the cluckin’ of the hens,  And the rooster’s hallylooyer as he tiptoes on the fence;  O, it’s then’s the times a feller is a-feelin’ at his best,  With the risin’ sun to greet him from a night of peaceful rest,  As he leaves the house, bareheaded, and goes out to feed the stock,  When the frost is on the punkin and the fodder’s in the shock. 
They’s something kindo’ harty-like about the atmusfere  When the heat of summer’s over and the coolin’ fall is here—  Of course we miss the flowers, and the blossums on the trees,  And the mumble of the hummin’-birds and buzzin’ of the bees;  But the air’s so appetizin’; and the landscape through the haze  Of a crisp and sunny morning of the airly autumn days  Is a pictur’ that no painter has the colorin’ to mock—  When the frost is on the punkin and the fodder’s in the shock. 

Song of the Witches: “Double, double toil and trouble” BY WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE (from Macbeth)

Double, double toil and trouble;  Fire burn and caldron bubble.  Fillet of a fenny snake,  In the caldron boil and bake;  Eye of newt and toe of frog,  Wool of bat and tongue of dog,  Adder's fork and blind-worm's sting,  Lizard's leg and howlet's wing,  For a charm of powerful trouble,  Like a hell-broth boil and bubble. 
Double, double toil and trouble;  Fire burn and caldron bubble.  Cool it with a baboon's blood,  Then the charm is firm and good.

An Irish Airman foresees his Death BY WILLIAM BUTLER YEATS

I know that I shall meet my fate  Somewhere among the clouds above;  Those that I fight I do not hate,  Those that I guard I do not love;  My country is Kiltartan Cross,  My countrymen Kiltartan’s poor,  No likely end could bring them loss  Or leave them happier than before.  Nor law, nor duty bade me fight,  Nor public men, nor cheering crowds,  A lonely impulse of delight  Drove to this tumult in the clouds;  I balanced all, brought all to mind,  The years to come seemed waste of breath,  A waste of breath the years behind  In balance with this life, this death.

Everybody's English

I'm just back from Europe, where I learned an important lesson again:

No one owns English; it belongs to everyone.
As a native speaker of English, a writer and an English teacher, I get stuck in my ways. Proper English sounds and looks like THIS, not THAT.

Hearing someone speak English with a nearly impenetrable accent causes me to work much too hard, I sometimes think. Hearing grammatical errors makes me want to stop the person, a stranger perhaps, and correct the errors. Hearing two people speak English and misunderstand each other challenges me to mind my own business and let them work it out.

It's good for me to get out of the US and confront the reality of English language use around the world: if it works, it's okay.

Networking: crucial for making a place for yourself in a new culture!

One thing my own career has shown me, again and again--if you don't get a job, university place or other competitive position you apply for, write a respectful letter to the person who informed you of your non-selection and ask why you were not chosen.  Then ask how you can make your credentials stronger to apply again at a future date. Sometimes you'll get no response, but other times your added effort will put you at the top of the alternates list, and maybe get you a second chance if the preferred candidate backs out.  If you can make a call on the phone the person who rejected you, that's even better. Just be sure you don't communicate anger or hostility.  Instead, communicate humility and a sincere desire to make changes that will make you a better candidate.  I have gotten several jobs by doing this, as well as referrals for other, similar jobs.  This is called networking--making friends in your desired profession. Naturally you will do the same for others.

The Debt by Paul Laurence Dunbar, 1872 - 1906

This is the debt I pay Just for one riotous day, Years of regret and grief, Sorrow without relief. Pay it I will to the end— Until the grave, my friend, Gives me a true release— Gives me the clasp of peace. Slight was the thing I bought, Small was the debt I thought, Poor was the loan at best— God! but the interest!

The Soul selects her own Society (303) by Emily Dickinson, 1830 - 1886

The Soul selects her own Society — Then — shuts the Door — To her divine Majority — Present no more — Unmoved — she notes the Chariots — pausing — At her low Gate — Unmoved — an Emperor be kneeling Upon her Mat — I’ve known her — from an ample nation — Choose One — Then — close the Valves of her attention — Like Stone — c. 1862

[Emmy Dickinson] by J. P. Swiatkowski, on the occasion of the new MLA handbook

Emmy Dickinson
Spryly wrote “Hope” of feathers;
Hail the Publisher!


Still sits the school-house by the road,    A ragged beggar sleeping; Around it still the sumachs grow,    And blackberry-vines are creeping.
Within, the master’s desk is seen,    Deep scarred by raps official; The warping floor, the battered seats,    The jack-knife’s carved initial;
The charcoal frescos on its wall;    Its door’s worn sill, betraying The feet that, creeping slow to school,    Went storming out to playing!
Long years ago a winter sun    Shone over it at setting; Lit up its western window-panes,    And low eaves’ icy fretting.
It touched the tangled golden curls,    And brown eyes full of grieving, Of one who still her steps delayed    When all the school were leaving.
For near her stood the little boy    Her childish favor singled: His cap pulled low upon a face    Where pride and shame were mingled.
Pushing with restless feet the snow    To right and left, he lingered;— As restlessly her tiny hands    The blue-checked apron fingered.
He saw her lift her eyes; he fe…

Chicken Little gets fooled

Chicken Little likes to walk in the woods. She likes to look at the trees. She likes to smell the flowers. She likes to listen to the birds singing. One day while she is walking an acorn falls from a tree, and hits the top of her little head. - My, oh, my, the sky is falling. I must run and tell the lion about it, - says Chicken Little and begins to run. She runs and runs. By and by she meets the hen. - Where are you going? - asks the hen. - Oh, Henny Penny, the sky is falling and I am going to the lion to tell him about it. - How do you know it? - asks Henny Penny. - It hit me on the head, so I know it must be so, - says Chicken Little. - Let me go with you! - says Henny Penny. - Run, run. So the two run and run until they meet Ducky Lucky. - The sky is falling, - says Henny Penny. - We are going to the lion to tell him about it. - How do you know that? - asks Ducky Lucky. - It hit Chicken Little on the head, - says Henny Penny. - May I come with you? - asks Ducky Lucky. - Come, - s…

Mr. Flood's Party by Edwin Arlington Robinson

Old Eben Flood, climbing alone one night  Over the hill between the town below  And the forsaken upland hermitage  That held as much as he should ever know  On earth again of home, paused warily.  The road was his with not a native near;  And Eben, having leisure, said aloud,  For no man else in Tilbury Town to hear: 
"Well, Mr. Flood, we have the harvest moon  Again, and we may not have many more;  The bird is on the wing, the poet says,  And you and I have said it here before.  Drink to the bird." He raised up to the light  The jug that he had gone so far to fill,  And answered huskily: "Well, Mr. Flood,  Since you propose it, I believe I will." 
Alone, as if enduring to the end  A valiant armor of scarred hopes outworn,  He stood there in the middle of the road  Like Roland's ghost winding a silent horn.  Below him, in the town among the trees,  Where friends of other days had honored him,  A phantom salutation of the dead  Rang thinly till old Eben's e…

Writing prompt for today

Think of a place you know well.

Fix an image, or picture in your mind, of this place, in as much detail as possible.

Use colors, smells, textures (touch), sound and taste to fill in the details of the place.

Now write a description of this place, using all these details.

Write until you feel confident that you have used all your details and that the reader has the same mental image of the place as you do.

If you like, you can use an actual image, such as this one:

The first day of Class

There’s the beginning, which is always confusing. No one knows the rules except the old hands, and they struggle to explain what’s going on. The newbies strive, some of them, while others give up almost immediately.
Then the middle. a long slog. It’s become quite clear what is expected: work, work, and more work.
And the end—it’s always the same. The end comes suddenly crashing through the door, sweeping everyone up into a frenzy. No use trying to plan rationally-the end is always the same.
And then it’s over. Time for some newbies, Again.