Sunday, September 26, 2010

TSS: First Fall Weekend

In the Midwest we have a saying:  "If you don't like the weather, just wait five minutes."  This week is living proof of that adage.  Monday was sunny and hot - high near 90 degrees.  The air condition was running full blast and all were dressed in shorts and t-shirts.  Today the morning weather greeted me with a cloudy and chilly - 49 degrees - fallish day.  The forecast calls for a week filled with sunny days with highs hovering in the low to mid 70s and I am more than ready for this change of seasons.

Another indication that fall is here can be seen at all the local grocery stores.  I pulled into the parking lot yesterday morning and was greeted with autumnal displays of dried cornstalks, jack-o-lantern pumpkins, bumpy and lopsided gourds, and small bundles of colorful Indian corn.  Just looking at these vivie displays puts a smile on my face.  I plan to take my camera with me someday this week (probably early morning when there will be few shoppers to question my sanity) and experiment with some creative photos of my favorite time of year.

I am not quite sure why I like fall so much.  I literally feel less burdened by life now that I have spotted these tale-tell signs of the season.  I do not feel this way about spring.  I notice the trees starting to bud, and I notice a few of the flowers making their appearance after a landscape of nothing but winter brown, but Spring is just not a season with which I resonate.  Perhaps it is because I am not a gardener, so the anticipation of landscaping is non-existent.  Or perhaps it is because Spring is so short-lived here in Kansas:  we tend to go from from frigid winter to stifling summer in the span of two weeks.  But Spring signals a rebirth - a new chance at life. Spring is a season of hope - or at least in literature it seems that way.  But somehow Spring does not elicit these joyful  emotions within me.

Fall on the other hand literally signals that life is soon coming to an end.  The leaves change from "ever" green to a variety of yellows - reds - and oranges that eventually give way to dried and withered browns before falling off the tree.  Literature tells me that autumn is the prelude to inevitable death.  And yet for me, Fall is filled with living color and the hope of good times ahead.  After all, in the fall we celebrate Homecoming and winning football games; children dress up as their favorite characters and in exchange for a simple greeting receive enough free candy to last until the new year; the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade rings in the start of the holiday season and families from far and wide come together to celebrate the bountiful blessings received throughout the year.  Fall is the time when the temperatures drop, clothes are layered, and sitting by the warmth of the fireplace provides one of the greatest pleasures on earth.  Yes, I do love this time of year - and I plan to enjoy each and every day that this season has to offer.

I mentioned that my daughter was invited to Homecoming this year by a young man who is as enthralled with Harry Potter as much as she.  He had sent her a bouquet of six roses - red and yellow for Gryffindor House - and asked her to the dance in true Hogwarts style.  There was some talk that they would go as Hermione and Ron, but in the end, they decided to attend as themselves --- although as you can see, they both show a strong resemblance to their literary characters.  I am sure a good time was had by all - but I will probably not hear about the festivities until later this afternoon when Mandy finally wakes up.

I hope you all have a wonderful first week of this new season.  I hope that it is filled with cool weather, colorful decorations, and anticipation of good times ahead.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Journaling Discoveries

Last week I mentioned the book, A Writer's Book of Days by Judy Reeves, that really resonated with me at this point in time.  I have read numerous books on the writing process, both with regards to writing fiction as well as non-fiction, and while I have several that are high on my recommendation list, the prompts listed in those books intimidate me.  It is as though they almost stifle my writing rather than foster it.  I think I need to try writing with training wheels before I start riding the "big bike."  This book by Judy Reeves has given me those training wheels.

I have strived to use these writing prompts every day this week and while I did not achieve that goal, I did manage to write 4 out of the 6 days and I refuse to beat myself up over the two missed days.  Even in this short time of routine writing to a focused prompt, I have discovered a few things about myself the writer.
  1. There really isn't a "right" way to respond to a prompt.  For some reason I have been programmed since childhood (and most likely toddler-hood) that if you are going to do something, you should do it right.  Consequently my left-brained dominant mind has taken that generality in life and applied it to everything.  I still hear the whisper of "I don't think this is the right way to do it" - but I am trying to silence that voice during these writing sessions and just allow the pen to write from the spontaneous images that come to my mind.
  2. Being a writer requires that the author be an observer - and being an observer requires that the author slow down and pay attention to the present.  This is tough for me as I have come to realize that I have held EFFICIENCY as the top priority in my life for several years.  I have always admired those who accomplish more than seems humanly possible.  Superwoman should exist, in my mind, and I have tried to emulate this fictional character for far too long.  My daytimer has been my lifeline - allowing me to keep track of all these tasks so that they are accomplished on time (or even early so that I can move on to the next task).  I look for ways to add more minutes to my day - not so that I can relax but so that I can do more.  But oh....what have I missed in all this running around?  And quite honestly, what have I accomplished at the expense of missing the little things in life?  I need to learn to slow down - to enjoy the moment - to look closely at nature and meditate on the simple pleasures of life, which definitely do not include all those multi-tasks on my to-do list.
  3. If I allow myself to write long enough to follow the bunny trails of my subconscious mind, I can be surprised at the clarity it brings to life.  I must confess that this does not happen each day, but there is a element of mental cleansing that does feel refreshing at the end of each session.  Yesterday, however, I actually had an epiphany.  The prompt was simply "Life's Simple Pleasures" and I immediately started writing about reading, which led to shopping at bookstores.  I wrote quite a while on this - detailing the different interests I have cultivated over the past two years while reading blogs and browsing the shelves.  One of those interests included photography - which led to another simple pleasure in my life which is scrapbooking and card making.  In this moment of writing I bemoaned the fact that not only do I not have enough time to engage in these activities - but I really have no reason to make a card - to whom would I send it?  And then it dawned on me --- my mother!!!  I have experienced such guilt not calling her or visiting her as much as I think I "should" .... mom LOVES mail - I mean, she lives for the noon hour when she can go to the mailbox.  If there is anyone who would appreciate a card, it would be my mother.  Why have I not thought of marrying these two activities before? I have no idea, but I am certain that I would not have developed this combination on my own; it was only through allowing the subconscious to guide the pen that led to this discovery.
So today I am going to make a card - or perhaps more.  Today I am going to enjoy the process of making the card, rather than rush to complete the task so that I can move on to the next one on the list.  Today I am going to write again and see where the pen takes me.  Today I am going to practice living in the present.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

TSS: 9.19.10

Well, it has been another quiet week on the blog.  Life was not overwhelming this week, in fact, it was gloriously routine, but I think I am still drained from the events of the beginning of the month.  I did not come home and fall asleep on the couch, but I did come home and veg on the couch.  Perhaps this coming week I will have the energy to avoid the couch altogether and do something more productive - like escape with a good book or work on my own writing skills.

It seems that during this season of life my blog routine seems to concentrate on the weekends.  I try to read as many of your blog posts as possible on Saturday and Sunday mornings, and then I try to write my own post(s) in the afternoon.  The blog reading this weekend showed me that I am not the only one who is struggling with finding balance in life that includes blog writing, blog visiting, and blog commenting.

Nicole had a fabulous post that summarized my "bloggy" feelings perfectly.  I DO read a lot of blogs, but I simply do not have the time to comment on each and every post.  While I love the idea of continuing a blog conversation with my cyber friends, the reality is that I don't have time to respond to comments made on my own blog.  I LOVE them - I READ and CHERISH each and every one of them (except for those pesky Spam comments - which I will discuss in a moment), but my life would be totally out-of-whack if I commented on all of them.  I hope you understand - and I hope you take the time to read Nicole's post, which is so much more eloquent that what I have just blurted here.

Along these same lines Lynne posted this morning about Blogging without Obligation - which apparently was as popular a subject in 2007 as it is today.  I will ask you to visit Lynne's blog to read all that this button entails, but essentially, it gives us the freedom to make our blog what we need/want to make it.  And while I would love to post everyday, read 4 or 5 books in a week and immediately post well-written, thoughtful reviews, the truth of the  matter is that is not a possibility right now.  For someone who naturally accepts guilt for any situation, I need this visual reminder that it is ok if the blog is what it is - and that it is not what my unrealistic expectations tell me it should be.

Random Thought:
Does the lack of new posts signal the spammers to visit your blog with increased regularity?   I initiated the comment moderation function on the blog about six months ago when I seemed to be inundated with spam.  That seemed to do the trick and up until this week, I have only had to delete a couple of comments a week.  This week, however, I have had multiple comments A DAY from spam artists and I must say that it is rather annoying.  Is anyone else experiencing this phenomenon?

Well, classes have been in session for nearly a month and we are now in FULL SWING - and what I mean by full swing is that there are papers to grade, tests to grade, novels to read (re-read for me), and parental communication to delicately write.  I have three wonderful Teacher Aids this year who can help with the grading quite a bit - but the buck does end with me and that it is always time consuming.

I did have a fun experience with the iWrite class - the class where they are to write a 12 chapter novel in a year.  We are having a TON of fun - but not quite doing all the required work in the One Year Adventure Novel curriculum.  I have now decided that we will do the worksheets in class - helping one another flesh out characters and potential conflicts, rather than requiring it as homework.

I do like to try to give the students some time at the beginning of class to exercise their creativity and found this exercise on the internet that they absolutely LOVED.  One student - my star "artist" - went to the white board and drew a square that represented the four walls of a room.  The students were then told to design this room.  I did not tell them what kind of room it was - how big it was - where it was located.  Just - design a room.  OH MY WORD --- 30 minutes later they had created an elaborate study/den that included not only props but characters, and the design continued to the front yard with added landscape and mythical creatures.  They used the entire white board and complained that they did not have more space.  They asked if we could keep it up and continue the adventure the next class period.  It was one of those times when an idea for a lesson is actually better in person than it was on paper.  It was awesome!

Well, I continue to fail miserably at reading challenges.  As much as I LOVE Carl's RIP challenge, I have just not been motivated to read any of the books on my list.  I blame this ongoing feeling on that of general malaise and remain optimistic that this is not a life-long condition, but rather, a brief interruption.  I hope to return to my old reading self shortly and still participate in this challenge, even if it is at a slower rate than I had hoped.

One event that I would LOVE to do is participate in the read-along of The Historian.  This book has been on my TBR bookshelf for several years and I even had it listed on my original RIP reading list.  While 100 pages a week would not normally prove to be much of a problem for me....for some reason this year it seems like an impossible goal.

I did however pick up a book that I had put on reserve at the library, A Writer's Book of Days by Judy Reeves.  I know that I discovered this title on one of your blogs, but darn if I can remember who it was that recommended it.  If it was you....please know that I am forever in your debt!  This book is absolutely PERFECT for me and where I currently reside on my writing journey.

The book is divided into 12 chapters - one for each month of the year.  There are 12 Writing Principles that are highlighted for each month, as well as very practical advice to help hone the writing craft.

In addition, each chapter also offers a writing prompt for every day of the month.  I have always struggled with prompts because they are typically focused on the 'creative' side of writing and quite honestly, my brain draws a complete blank once the prompt is read.  These prompts, however, have the opposite effect for me.  As I was reading them my mind instantly imagined a scene or a memory or a possible life application and I WANTED to stop what I was reading and start writing immediately.  I also loved the fact that there was no right or wrong way to write about these prompts.  If I want to use the prompt to write a scene for a fictional story, I can do that.  If I want to write about a memory from childhood, I can do that.  If I want to imagine what life might be in five years and write about a personal dream, I can do that.

I feel as though I have finally found a book that will allow me to be the writer I desire to be.  I have finally reconciled the fact that writing (for me) is not wasted time, but rather vital to my journey of self-discovery.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Weekend Cooking: Stir Fry

I am so grateful to Beth Fish Reads for hosting this fun weekly meme.  I don't always have something to contribute, but I always find good foodie reading material to help me celebrate the weekend.

This week I thought I would share my stir fry experimentations.  Actually this is typical of many meals that I prepare.  I always start off with a recipe and follow it to the letter.  Then the next time I prepare the meal I modify the seasonings to adjust to our particular tastes.  The more familiar I become with the ingredients, the less I measure and the more I rely on sight and feel.  This is most definitely the evolution of my new-found love of stir fry.

This summer I wanted to find some quick, easy and healthy recipes that I could add to my dinner repertoire when school started.  I checked out several Stir Fry and Wok cookbooks from the library, and wrote down several of Martin Yan recipes.  In analyzing the recipes and preparing a few of them, I noticed what seemed to be a pattern.  
  1. Start with a protein (meat - chicken - shrimp etc) and cook through. I usually spray the pan with "high heat" Pam and then add about a teaspoon of peanut oil for flavor.
  2. Remove the protein from the wok and then add aromatic vegetables, most typically garlic, scallions, and ginger.  Again, I usually cook these in about another teaspoon of peanut oil.
  3. After a brief one minute stir fry add to the pan other vegetables such as:  broccoli - asparagus - mushrooms - zucchini - water chestnuts - fresh bean sprouts - etc.
  4. Once these vegetables have cooked through - again only about 2 minutes or so - return the meat to the pan and warm.
  5. Now create the sauce in a separate bowl - which most often consists of:  1/2 cup of stock (either chicken or beef depending on the meat of choice) - about 1 tablespoon of corn starch - and soy sauce to taste.  Creativity can really take over here, as there are a variety of other Asian tastes that you can add to liven up the flavor:  hot sauce - oyster sauce - hoisin sauce - terriyaki sauce - sesame oil - etc
  6. Once sauce ingredients have been thoroughly mixed - pour into the wok or skillet and cook until thickened.
  7. Serve with rice (I prefer Jasmine rice - but brown rice would be a healthy alternative)
This basic process can yield a variety of different dishes - all of which can be prepared in about 30 minutes or less (I always start cooking the rice first and most often the rice and stir fry are both complete at about the same time).  To be honest, this is the only night of the week that I can get the entire family to eat vegetables - so it is a win-win meal for everyone.  I always try to cook extras so that I have a meal to take to school the next day - but sometimes the troops devour the entire dish in a single night.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

TSS: 9.12.10

Well, this week was a blur.  Between trying to find 24 hour care for my mom, getting her situated in her apartment again, and school getting into full swing, I barely had time for anything else.  Until my life adjusts into a more predictable routine, I thought it might be good to segment The Sunday Salon into three parts:  personal, teaching, and reading.

The holiday weekend was anything but a holiday for me.   For some reason - I am sure dictated by insurance companies - the hospital chose to release my mom last Sunday.  While I am sure she was physically ready to go home, logistically it was a nightmare.  Her regular pharmacy - the one associated with the hospital - was closed; my pharmacy had limited hours and the hospital refused to give us a two day supply of meds to see us through.  After running all over the county, I was finally able to retrieve her meds on Monday afternoon - 24 hours after she was discharged.

In addition, she is not allowed to stay by herself due to her recent wondering episode and leaving the plastic pan on the stove's heated burner.  She is currently on the waiting list for Assisted Living, but until a unit becomes available she must have someone with her at all times.  Again, trying to schedule this kind of care when given less than 24 hours notice on a holiday weekend proved to be nearly impossible.

Consequently, this week I have had no energy to do anything except the bare essentials.  I am hopeful that this next week life will begin to level out and I can find the time to do a few other things besides teach - like clean the house, go grocery shopping, and perhaps read.

I am constantly trying to improve lesson plans and/or add new projects to the classroom mix.  This year I am teaching college level English Composition for the first time and this past week the students wrote their first rough draft.  While I have always utilized the concept of "peer edit" in the classroom, this week was the first time that I tried "group edits" - that is, each student read aloud his/her piece while the rest of us viewed the hard copy.  Students then offered constructive criticism and praise for the work in question.

Now sometimes my ideas are far more successful on paper than they are in reality, but I am pleased to say that this was one time that the new idea far exceeded my expectations.  The students really enjoyed the conversational feedback and I do believe each paper yielded a teachable moment for all.  I will definitely be using this strategy in other writing classes.

It was certainly not from a lack of "wanna" that I did not accomplish much in the reading department this week.  I tried to force myself to keep my eyes open long enough to read at least a chapter every night.  I am currently reading a short novella by Susan Hill entitled, The Man in the Picture .  This is for Carl's delightful challenge, RIP V.  Again, I am hoping that a more settled week, coupled with more fall-like temperatures, will yield greater opportunities for personal reading this week.

I have tried to keep up with blogs this week, although I find that I am not quite able to read as many as I would like, and unfortunately comment on even fewer.  I know that this unbalanced time of life shall pass, and I greatly look forward to spending more time with all of you soon.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Isn't this cute?!

Well, school is in full swing right now and my daughter is experiencing a lot of "final" high school experiences.  We already had our 'final' first day of school picture, and now we are headed into the fall season.

A week ago she didn't think that she would be going to homecoming this year.  This weekend, all that changed.

On Saturday afternoon these flowers were delivered - and the card said:

Hold this to the Mirror of Erised
To see what you desire

Mandy quickly noticed that the roses are the colors of Gryffindor House.

She opened the scroll - which looked like this.

After holding it up to the mirror she discovered that it read:

Will You be the Hermione to my Ron
And go to Homecoming with me?

In keeping with this Harry Potter theme, Mandy replied in the affirmative by purchasing a small owl stuffed animal and attaching a note that read something like:
Neither demons nor bludgers
Nor all the Malfoys -
Not even Valdemort himself
Could prevent me from going to homecoming with you.

Yes...this is a relationship based on Harry Potter and this bibliophile mother could not be more pleased that her youngest loves literature almost as much as she does!

Mandy actually looks like Hermione and Jake is definitely Ron Weasley made over.  There is even talk that they may attend the dance in character.  If that is the case, you can be sure that I will post pictures.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

TSS: Labor Day Weekend

September has not started off well at all, and it continues to become more difficult with each passing day.  I take comfort in knowing that "it is always darkest before the dawn."

Kind-hearted people offer the advice of "taking care of myself" in the midst of this, but I have always struggled with that.  Two weeks after giving Cesarean birth to my eldest daughter I was taking the subway to a business meeting.  From the time she was three weeks old I was working from home during her nap time, putting in about 30 hours a week.  I have always viewed taking time for me as being "selfish" - which is admonished; selfless is the noble character trait. BUT....I think I have reached my limit.  I am so very frustrated and weary that I just want to run away.  However....I am so sick and tired of hearing myself talk about my mother and my job (I can't imagine how bored you must be), that I have vowed to keep quiet on those two subjects for a while. This blog was initially started as a book blog, and so that it is what I will choose to focus on for the time being.  

This may mean, of course, that there will be fewer posts, as I do not seem to make the time to read much anymore.  I am hoping that Carl's RIP V Challenge will rectify this problem.  I have always enjoyed the thriller genre; this is actually my "go to" book when I don't know what to read, but I also want to concentrate on some of those novels that I am reading for my own "work in progress"

I plan to complete Marie, Dancing over this long holiday weekend.  I have enjoyed taking notes on character development, plot arc, and language used for this particular subject matter.  I plan to re-read Dancing for Degas and Luncheon of the Boating Party and follow this same note-taking pattern.  I have already discussed this kind of 'reading for writing' with my Creative Writing class, and I hope that this personal exercise can prove to be a model for them.  They have already discussed several movies in class and I have encouraged them to bring in videos so that we can watch certain scenes and discuss how the screen writer's script and the director's point of view have effectively held the viewer's attention.  I look forward to learning as much about writing from these gifted students as (hopefully) they will learn from me.

I only have two classes this year that focus on literature:  7th grade and 9th grade.  The other courses I teach involve mostly writing and/or grammar: English Comp - iWrite - 8th grade and High School grammar.  I simply did not have enough students to sign up for British Literature this year, which saddens me even though it frees up quite a bit of time - but hopefully the numbers will be higher next year.

The 7th grade class has just learned about the elements of fiction and this week I will introduce the Fairy Tale unit.  Students will first read The Three Little Pigs and discuss the story as it relates to these elements of fiction.  I want them to get used to using the terms when discussing literature, and I think that doing that with simple narratives such as fairy tales is a less intimidating way to accomplish that goal.  The following week we will read several variations of this Fairy Tale, namely The True Story of the Three Little Pigs and The Three Little Javelinas and discuss how the writer has changed a portion of the story to make it his own.  That will segue into their first writing assignment which will involve "fracturing" their own fairy tale.  This is always such fun to read and the students usually enjoy this exercise.  This sets us up nicely to read Tuck Everlasting where we will really begin to delve into literary analysis.

In the 9th grade class we are also reviewing the elements of fiction (although these students learn about twice as many definitions as the seventh graders) and they are learning this terminology by reading several short stories.  This past week we read and discussed Marjorie Daw by Thomas Bailey Aldrich; next week we will read Dr. Heidegger's Experiment by Nathaniel Hawthorne, and the following week we will read The Necklace by Guy de Maupassant.  At this point the students should be well acquainted with the terminology, as well as the expectations of class discussions, and we will begin to delve into Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury.

I have some wonderful Teacher Aids this year and I am trying very hard to hone my delegation skills and allow them to do some of my initial grading - particularly in the lower level classes.  My goal is to have at least one hour at night that I can devote to personal reading.  I'll let you know how that goes!

I hope you have a wonderful holiday weekend as we say good-bye to summer, 2010 and welcome the cooler fall season.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

RIP Challenge V

I have been checking Carl's website for the past couple of weeks to see if has posted anything about this, my most favorite challenge of the year.  I was absolutely thrilled to see the information and Mr. Linky sign-up earlier this week, and I simply cannot tell you what a terrific distraction this will be in my life.

The RIP (Readers Imbibing in Peril) Challenge is celebrating its 5th year - but this will only be my second time to join.  The challenge runs from September 1 (I am already behind....) to October 31 and offers a broad spectrum of reading choices in which to participate:
  • Mystery
  • Suspense
  • Thriller
  • Dark Fantasy
  • Gothic
  • Horror
  • Supernatural
There are also several different levels in which you can opt to participate.  While I would absolutely love to commit to the Peril the First option (read 4 books of any length in any of the appropriate categories), I am afraid that I may not achieve that goal and I need to have some success in life right now.  So, I will commit to Peril the Third (reading only one book over the next two months), but I will stretch for more.

I have actually been scouting the bookstores for possible RIP bargains throughout the year, and I do have several books on my shelves from which to choose:
  • Shutter Island by Dennis LeHane - I actually saw the movie - twice - and LOVED it.  I have had this notion of reading the book and watching the movie over the course of a weekend and then reviewing for CBs Read a Book/See a Movie challenge.  Perhaps this fall will provide that perfect opportunity.
  • In the Woods by Tana French - this was on my last year and I didn't get around to it.  I actually have her second book as well and fantasize about reading all three books back-to-back.
  • Murder on the Cliffs by Joanna Challis - I actually won this book from an author give-away and I thought it would be the perfect RIP novel.  I read Rebecca last year, which has become one of my favorites, and I am very much looking forward to this book which enlists Daphne duMaurier as the main character.
  • The Man in the Picture by Susan Hill.  I really enjoyed this author's book (and West End play) of the Woman in Black, and when I saw this lovely little novella in the bookstore I knew I had to read it for this challenge.
  • The Ghost Writer by John Harwood - I actually borrowed this book from the library during last year's challenge, but only managed to read the first two chapters.  I decided to purchase my own copy (so that I am not pressured to finish the book in a certain time frame) and hope to read it over the next two months.
  • The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane by Katherine Howe - I actually obtained a copy of this ARC at BEA 2009 and desperately wanted to read it immediately.  Unfortunately, life had other plans and I have yet to read it.  I hope to find the time this fall --- and I actually have one autographed copy of an ARC to give-away sometime during this challenge time period.
  • The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova - I can't tell you how many years this book as been languishing on my shelves.  I actually read Swan Thieves before this one.  I really, really, really want to read this prior to October 31, 2010.
  • Dracula, My Love by Syrie James.  I actually won this book from Stephanie and I am thrilled!!  I loved the author's debut novel, The Lost Memoirs of Jane Austen, and I expect great entertainment from this book as well.
  • Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger - This book has been on my list since the release date.  I found it today at Half Price Books for $2.00!  If I don't happen to read it this year, for sure it will be on the list for next year.
  • Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury - I will be re-reading Fahrenheit 451 with my 9th graders this fall and I absolutely adore that book.  While I am not really into science fiction (Bradbury's concentration), I do think this book sounds right up my alley.
  • We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson - I actually read this book and her other classic, The Haunting of Hill House, for the RIP IV challenge  and I loved them so much I want to try to re-read one of them each year.
  • Victorian Ghost Stories:  An Oxford Anthology - I found this book about three years ago in the clearance section of the bookstore and I have never regretted the purchase.  I would love to commit to reading one short story a week during the challenge, but at the bare minimum I will read at least one.
I told you I had quite a list.  I am sure that there are other books on my shelves that qualify, but these are the ones that I have specifically earmarked for this challenge. find those extra hours in the day to get all this reading done (and hopefully writing the reviews!)

Thursday, September 2, 2010


I was at the hospital today visiting with Mom and waiting to talk with the nurse regarding her condition.  I arrived around 3:00pm and put in my request to talk with her before I even went into Mom's room.  I was told that the nurse had just admitted another patient, but "would be with me shortly"

That is a nebulous term, "be with you shortly"  I consider "shortly" to mean 15 or 20 minutes, wouldn't you?

Forty minutes later (yes 4-0) the nurse popped her head in the room and said that she was really busy but she would be back in "just a minute"  Now, I am not naive enough to think that just a minute means 60 seconds, but I think that perhaps 5-10 minutes is a reasonable time frame.

Shortly after this there was announcement over the intercom that a Dr. Anderson was needed in the ER - stat.  This was repeated about 3 times and I thought that perhaps we were dealing with a rush hour accident, or a heart attack patient.  I said a quick prayer for those in ER....but went on seething at the incredibly long wait that I had to endure in order to ask one simple question.

After one hour and ten minutes I left the hospital --- never having spoken to the nurse.  While I was quite frustrated, I did rationalize that there is always tomorrow.

Just now I was watching the news and I heard that a 7 year old boy tried to run between two cars walking home from school today.  He was rushed to the hospital at 3:45 PM -- the same hospital where my mom is staying.  They tried to resuscitate him; they tried to do all they could do.  He did not make it.

I am certain that Dr. Anderson was the doctor on call.

And I am so sorry that I my patience is so weak, and I am so self-centered, to think that I was being inconvenienced when a young boy was fighting for his life and a family was struggling downstairs.  Their lives are forever changed; and I have come to realize that I am truly blessed.

I pray for the ER staff who valiantly strived to save this young boy; I pray for his family - who is left wondering how on earth this could happen when the morning started off so typical; and I pray for the driver of the car that hit him --- knowing that they had no idea that a young child would run across their path so unexpectedly.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

This speaks to me....

Today has been a difficult day.  It started at 4:00AM when we got a call that my mom was found outside her apartment complex, dazed and confused.  She is now resting comfortably in the hospital where she can be  monitored, but I fear we are entering a new phase of life and one that I am not looking forward to.

A former student of mine sent me a link on facebook yesterday and it reminded me of this video I watched last summer.  It speaks to me - provides motivation for difficult days - and I hope that perhaps you might enjoy it as well.

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