January 30, 2010
We had a great time last night at our friends’, the Bajpais’, house. Nandini and I were celebrating taking the next steps in our writing, and what better way to celebrate on a bitterly cold night than cooking together and sharing a meal? The best part was, I got to learn how to make Nandini’s delicious chicken curry and baingan bharta (a yummy eggplant dish), and how to prepare the dough, and fry, puris—though mine didn’t come out as puffy as I think they were supposed to. Our meal was wonderful, thanks to a patient instructor. I took careful notes so I can try these dishes at home, though I doubt they’ll taste nearly as good.
Our kids always have a blast together, and they joined us in the kitchen, too, making homemade pumpkin bread and cutting the puri dough into fun shapes.
Thanks, guys, for all the fun! Rob’s looking forward to learning the recipes, too. And it was great seeing Yogi!
January 27, 2010
What happened to our One-Card Tour? Well, school and activities and work and the list goes on … That’s not to say we haven’t kept up with our own town library. Just no official stops on the tour for a while. BUT, glad to say, we’re off again this afternoon with our group (I hope I didn’t just hex us by typing that). More soon.
January 24, 2010
Could really use some travel, but in lieu of actually boarding a plane, traveled otherwise locally this weekend. First was International Night at my daughter’s elementary school. The kids who participate each choose a country to study, then share what they’ve learned with those of us who visit. It’s a fun, loud and colorful night in the school cafeteria. Lots of kids dress up, my daughter included. The country she chose is Japan, which she’s been informally studying the past few years since getting hooked on Spirited Away and other films by Hayoa Miyazaki. Now as a fourth grader, she’s into Japanese fashion and design, and really got into her project.
I was impressed with all of the kids’ hard work. A fun night at the school!
Saturday, a balmy 40 degrees, we took off for cross-country skiing at the Weston Ski Track. Basically, it’s a golf course groomed for skiing in the winter. An easy place for introducing kids to cross-country and, for those of us adults who came late to the skiing thing, a great course for practice. I’m eager to get out to the mountains, but since that wasn’t happening this week, this was the next-best thing. Felt good to be out in the fresh air for a workout.
Can you guess what the image above is from? Kicked off last weekend with a tour of WGBH, Boston’s PBS station. The station now occupies high-tech digs not too far from its previous “02134″ location. Above: the letters from ZOOM. Not the original Z-double O-M, but from more recent ZOOM days. Still, brought me back to the ’70s—I remember proudly receiving ZOOM cards for the Miss Mary Macks I sent in. As I think about it, those might have been the first poems I wrote.
Very fun to see the soundstage where Fetch! with Ruff Ruffman is produced. Auditions for the new cast were going on while we were there, so new episodes must be coming soon. Bubbles and 21 would have liked to have added their name to the casting director’s clipboard, but alas, these were the finalists from an original casting call. The girls still had fun hamming it up alongside the various characters we came across on our tour.
And how cool was it to check out the control rooms and recording booths? We even got to watch an orchestra perform in one of the studios, designed with such acoustics in mind. An impromptu concert, lucky us! Thanks, Tia, for the great tour and for introducing us to many wonderful people who work at GBH!
Speaking of wonderful people, I also had a great time on Saturday night at the “tweetup” of kidlit folks gathered in Boston for the American Library Association‘s midwinter conference. Lots of great conversation about books, writing, libraries … fun evening. And while I enjoy Twitter, there’s nothing like face-to-face conversation. Thanks again to Mitali Perkins and Deborah Sloan for organizing the event!
Sunday, took in the ALA exhibition with my friend, Jean, from my SCBWI writing group. A great chance to see what books are coming out from the various publishers and to talk with publishing folks to see what books and series they’re excited about … many wonderful selections for my To Be Read pile.
This week, back to work.
January 15, 2010
It’s been a horribly sad week, the news from Haiti following the earthquake. It’s easy to take much for granted in our lives, like shelter and fresh water, and I awoke this morning thinking of Marilyn Singer’s poem “Wells” from her collection How to Cross a Pond: Poems about Water. I can’t find a link to the full poem, and it’s worth reading the full, but here’s an excerpt:
Water is too easy here,
grandma says. …
To appreciate water,
you must work for it,
Pump, hoist, and haul. …
Learn to understand
that water is the true treasure
of small villages and great cities.
Only then will you never squander
What is not yours to own.
I heard on the car radio after dropping my daughter that the Red Cross has estimated some 50,000 deaths, with the toll expected to rise. On another station, Rusted Root’s “Send Me on My Way” was playing, and it felt like the right song at that moment, like a postcard of hope through the lift of the music. It opens with the line, “I would like to reach out my hand.” From YouTube:
(Kids may know this song from Danny DeVito’s film adaptation of Matilda.)
With thoughts of those in Haiti and those with friends and family there.
Poetry Friday is hosted this week by Mary Ann at Great Kids Books.
January 8, 2010
Difficult to start a new year without at least a quick trip to the library, so off I went the other evening. Found myself, as usual, in the childen’s poetry section. Sometimes I’ll go with a specific title in mind. Other times, like this week, the joy is in not knowing exactly what I’m looking for, but finding it anyway.
Among several books brought home: Words with Wings: A Treasury of African-American Poetry and Art, in which 20 poems by noted writers are paired with 20 works of art by acclaimed artists (selected by Belinda Rochelle, HarperCollins/Amistad, 2001). Slavery, racism, and black pride are explored through the poetry and images, though the selections transcend those specific themes. It’s a beautiful picture book.
Included is Alice Walker’s “How Poems Are Made: A Discredited View,” the poem I’m carrying around with me this week. Thought I’d share it for Poetry Friday. (In Words with Wings, it’s paired with the 1946 painting Can Fire in the Park by Beauford Delaney. I believe the poem originally appeared in Walker’s 1986 collection Horses Make a Landscape Look More Beautiful; someone please jump in if I’m off on this):
HOW POEMS ARE MADE: A DISCREDITED VIEW
by Alice Walker
in order to hold on
I gradually understand
how poems are made.
There is a place the fear must go.
There is a place the choice must go.
There is a place the loss must go.
The leftover love.
The love that spills out
of the too full cup
and runs and hides
its too full self
I gradually comprehend
how poems are made.
To the upbeat flight of memories.
The flagged beats of the running
Read the rest of the poem here.
The progression from “I gradually understand” and “comprehend” to “I understand” and “I know” resonated even more strongly as I wrote out the poem longhand, something I like to do with poems I’m studying. In my own writing, I’ve been contemplating why it is poetry feels like the right fit, and what is poetry anyway? What is poetry to you? How did you come to it as a writer? And, while we’re talking, thoughts on Walker’s subtitle “A Discredited View” I’d love to discuss.
Happy Poetry Friday! With thanks to Tricia at The Miss Rumphius Effect for hosting today. Go check out the roundup!