Monthly Archives: February 2013

missing that guy

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Things I Miss About Dave When He is Traveling


I miss the lump that stretches one hand in my face as he sleeps,

I miss that person who can turn on the snow blower and blow everyone’s sidewalks clean in the cul-de-sac,

I miss my fastidious kitchen cleaner,

I miss a guy who loves ‘Modern Family’ as much as I do,

I miss the pot of coffee  you brew at just the right time when I arrive home and then when you politely ask if I would like a cup,

I miss how you smell after you’ve served all day at a Habitat house,

I miss that man who can find his phone and answer it too,

I miss the discussion as we travel back and forth on Route 72 multiple times all week-long,

I miss singing next to you as we worship the God we both love.

I miss the dreaming, the scheming, the planning,

I simply miss

YOU…

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Redecorate?

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love to write, love to think, love to SLICE... please join our community

love to write, love to think, love to SLICE… please join our community

My husband is talented with color, a paintbrush and a shovel.  In our garden he researches where the sun falls around our house, the health of the soil,  and the other trees and plants near a new bed that he is considering, before he plants, before he digs.  If a certain plant fails to thrive one year, he may dig it up and place it somewhere new.  It’s like cutting and pasting.

One year he painted our family room under pressure because we would be having an ‘after the wedding celebration’ for our daughter.  I quietly watched as he covered the walls with new color.  I silently thought, “I just don’t think….”  I stood there silently reading what this new shade did to our room that I loved.  I was upset inside, and I just knew that he felt the same way.  After this room in our house was finished, I thought, “We are just going to have to live with it for a while”.  I just didn’t have the heart to tell him… an editor I am not.

Two years later, I did have the courage and he admitted that he hated it too.  We picked a new color out, painted it on a giant cardboard box and held it around the room in the different lights.  Ahh,  satisfaction, at last.  After we got the right paint, a few accessories were  also added ;  they also brought new richness and pleasure.

I have never felt like redecorating was my passion, however when I got to pick out all of my own choices for my office, added my books, my framed family pictures, I  could put my feet up and write and read for hours on end.   I am content and feel alive inside.  Environment matters, choice matters.

Some of the grim reality is this, I like to keep and hold on tightly to my mess, and is achingly hard for me to take things out and clean things up, even in this beautiful room that brings me great pleasure.   For an example, all my books, papers and notes from the fall class that I taught on assessment are sitting right in front of me.  It hurts my vision and it nags  and begs to be cleaned up, filed away or just thrown out.  It is hard work for me, extremely hard work for me to redecorate in this way.  I hate throwing out papers, lessons and words.

Last week I pleaded with Dave, “Won’t you just please come up to my office and clean it and figure it out for me, figure out where I should put everything? ” I told him, I would pay him for it.

He sighed and said, “Why can’t you just do a little at a time, a little every day?”  He is right, getting started is half the battle for me.  Inside I know how happy I will be when it is done and the accomplishment I will also feel when I unload what isn’t necessary.

One of the reasons I love the Slice writing that we do every week is this:  I have decided to look at my writing for this blog as my first draft.   Ruth Ayres has talked about this on a post titled Best 1st Draft.   It is much easier to do our best first drafts in this new era of the computers, however, I guess I am curious about how many ‘slicers’ still prefer to compose using paper and pen.  I really don’t think that I would be able to complete as much writing without my laptop.  It is a mysterious and beautiful connection that I have with the keys.  I most definitely rather redecorate my posts and my life in this way, even though it is still such hard and personal work.

Now I am going to start with something that I can do right now, take what isn’t necessary out of this slice.  I will probably paste it in another draft to be explored at another time…or maybe not.  This is a true fact, ‘redecorating or revision’ is not easy for me, but I know that when it is my story, I’d much rather do it myself!

PS  I’m pretty excited because I made the redecorating analogy with my fourth graders.  They are diving in with passion.  I am so excited…writing workshop is such an amazing and colorful place to live in. 🙂

revision (it probably shouldn’t be considered a swear word))

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Can't wait to get the party started !

Can’t wait to get the party started !

I was rereading my post last week and it was a mish-mosh of a bunch of topics all rolled into one post.  I was trying to explain about how writing in the slice challenge stretched and encouraged me as a writer.  I learned many things, but the biggest piece for me was the fact that every time I looked back at a piece I could always find things that I needed to change.

Revision, from childhood had always been such a nasty word.  Back in the ’60’s and the 70’s we viewed revision as editing spelling, punctuation and grammar.  And truthfully, my mom, a secretary at my high school was an expert.  It was a very big part of her job, editing the case studies for the psychologists that she worked for.  She also loved to dig into my papers and then would even retype them for me, what a mother, what a help!!!

I really could never be bothered with this mundane task of editing.  However, when I was away at college it was the most aggravating part…my fight with the white-out and my brand new Selectric typewriter.  I viewed revision as the last step…but what I learned, quite by accident was sometimes revision happened as I was writing.  I would look back at the last page I had written and realize that I needed an example.  I would write it on another paper with a number beside it.  I would then put a number on my handwritten version and then just type the addition in when I was typing the final paper.  I still feel that it was a miracle that I was able to think of this version of cutting and pasting on my own. I’m sure somewhere in my education they talked about the magic caret where I could insert something small…or just crossing out and replacing a blahhh verb with a stronger word. But honestly, I don’t remember a whole lot of teaching going on in the area of writing.

When I began teaching in the 1976, there was a new word on the scene.  The word was ‘draft’.  I kind of like trying new words but much to my chagrin, my sixth graders didn’t like it very much because after we wrote draft 1 I insisted on draft 2 and sometimes draft 3- and if the truth be told….reading a 3rd draft wasn’t exactly my cup of tea either.  I was getting way to used to reading stacks and stacks of papers every weekend, over and over, yikes…it felt like Groundhog Day as I marked all those papers up.   The drafts didn’t change much, even when I made my ‘stellar’ suggestions.  The nerve!  I guess they didn’t love my little love notes in their margins much either.

We weren’t doing workshop yet, I hadn’t even heard of the word.  Don Graves had somehow flown under my radar early on also.  Then one summer, as we made our way out of Chicago down I-80, I cracked open a book that would forever change my life.  Nanci Atwell, with clarity and precision shared her experience as a writing and reading teacher in a sleepy little town in Maine.  The vision was cast.  I was up for the big experiment, and it changed my life and my students’ lives probably forever.  I began to build community first and actually started to teach writing strategies. The best part was sitting with individuals and actually talking about their draft. My students were given choice on what drafts they wanted to publish.

It is a winding road, it’s a journey, isn’t it?  Most of the time it is never finished. That is what our writing lives will always feel like.  It seems to mirror our own. But at least with writing workshop we were on our way talking and laughing hard with each other.

So this post ends with a thank you to my mom who helped me with the mundane details that pushed me into greater and greater revision, those phenomenal professional writers that I happened on early in my career (Graves, Atwell,Calkins, and Daniels) and current visionaries that have encouraged my writing voice, Ruth and Stacey, and all of the people who so generously comment and commit to this great challenge.  Good work always seems to happen when a strong and positive community develops.

PS because I know you know I like them…all I have to say is , wow, technology…aren’t we lucky?  I remember long, long ago when I had to walk two miles to school every day in 24 inches of snow and, and, I had to write every story with a #2 pencil and, and, I had to sometimes look words up to know if the ‘i’ came before the ‘e’ and, and, and, there wasn’t a microwave or a Skype or a way to fast forward through all the stinkin’ commercials- but now, I really have deviated from my thesis and maybe this whole rant should be cut and pasted somewhere else.

One Year and Still Finishing Strong

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Can't wait to see the new image for the slice challenge !

Loving the Slice

It was February last year and I was determined that I would figure this blog thing out.  I had long been a lurker on several blogs. I read the Slice of Life stories and found myself grabbing ideas for school and also for the university that I work for part-time.  I followed Stenhouse authors and really loved reading journals and research that would stretch me in my career.  When the vision was cast last year, I thought… “Why not me?”

For a long time wrote weekend thoughts to my teacher friends and would share places that I had visited on the web that might help them in their classrooms. Now with Pintrest, I’ve become  somewhat obsolete.   So… I decided to my hand at following Ruth and Stacey and their suggestions for a creating this blog that was absolutely free.  I admit, there were parts I struggled with.  There are tools and words I still don’t understand on the blog.  For example I don’t get what ‘akismet stats’ is and I don’t get tagging or categories, however, it hasn’t bothered me enough to lose sleep over.  Today I want to encourage all of you who are considering trying this on-line community to definitely take the plunge.  It has made me acutely aware of how important it is to document our lives and also understand how difficult first draft writing can be.  The people who are on this blog I trust.   It is a true writing community.   When a person isn’t able to write for a week I wonder if they or sick, hurt or sad- maybe too sad to write.  I love the very distinct writing voices of my friends.

Last year I remember choosing the design for my blog, it mattered to me.  I wasn’t giving too much thought to the writing at that point…I wanted the format of my blog to reflect an aspect of my hippie personality.  I still love the paisley design, the colors and the paper that I am writing on.  Next, I had to think of a name for my blog.

It actually is a name that honors something that was a big part of my life for so many years, athletics. My husband Dave coached  sports for about 30 years in our local school district.  Forever I will be so proud of how he marked the lives of his players in every one of those years.  He loved to win, he hated to lose. But he always understood that  how you played the game was what really mattered.  He talked to them always about ‘finishing strong‘.  My own two daughters and son were on his teams and they will remember how he insisted on a strong work ethic in practice and also always wanted them to also go ‘all out’ in every game they played.  This is how I want to be remembered at my school, working hard for the kids and teachers up until the last-minute of my career.

Now, what about the ‘Two Years’ part?  It is something in my personality that is strange… the moment I start a school year, I feel that it is over.  How many of you on the first day of Christmas vacation say to your spouse, “I feel like it is over already”  It has always been the running joke at our house.  So in actuality last year when I created the blog in February I felt like the year was in the books.  I probably should have named it 2 and a half years and finishing strong, but that was too wordy.  I like the name so I won’t change it even though now I have only one year left in a career that leaves me still breathless with wonder on most days.

I am a little more nervous about writing a post a day this year.  I finally resolved that if I couldn’t come up with a new post I will go back, revisit and redecorate old posts.  Why redecorate, you are probably asking?  I guess ‘revision’ has such a negative connotation for me.  I love to redecorate…so maybe that is just something I can try, at least once a week.

Let’s get the brushes out and begin the masterpieces ! XO