Saturday, November 27, 2010
Thursday, November 25, 2010
For rest and shelter of the night,
For health and food, for love and friends,
For everything Thy goodness sends.
~Ralph Waldo Emerson
I went south for Thanksgiving for the first time in my life. Normally this day would find me with 2-3 dozen family members and friends somewhere in Massachusetts, but this summer--within the space of 2-3 weeks--our family somewhat combusted (not in a bad way) and moved to the far corners of the country: I moved to Phoenix for a new teaching job; a niece moved to Loma Linda, CA for medical school; my youngest sister and her husband moved to Charlotte, NC for a new teaching/principal job for him; and a nephew moved to Collegedale, TN for college.
This was a shock for a family that has been within 2 hours of each other for the past 18 years or more and has managed to spend every holiday and every birthday together during that time. While I've been lucky to see everyone at least once between September and this week, we won't be all together until Christmas now. Still, the seven (out of 11 core members) of us have enjoyed this Thanksgiving break together in Charlotte.
I do have much to be thankful for, in spite of the distance that has come so suddenly upon us. And it has been good to contemplate it all over the days.
Sunday, November 21, 2010
2 The Lord of the Rings - JRR Tolkien
3 Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte
4 Harry Potter series - JK Rowling
5 To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee
6 The Bible (I'm enjoying The New Century version right now.)
7 Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte
8 Nineteen Eighty Four - George Orwell
9 His Dark Materials - Philip Pullman
10 Great Expectations - Charles Dickens
11 Little Women - Louisa M Alcott (have read this many times. Also played "Jo" in a faculty production at Cedar Lake.)
12 Tess of the D’Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy (wrote a very long paper on this book for a doctoral class at UNH...60 pages...)
13 Catch 22 - Joseph Heller
14 Complete Works of Shakespeare (took a seminar in Shakespeare with Ottilie Stafford. We had to read every play we hadn't already read/seen!)
15 Rebecca - Daphne Du Maurier (loved this book. Lauren, Jerry, Connie and I read it back to back to back to back one summer in Loma Linda)
16 The Hobbit - JRR Tolkien
17 Birdsong - Sebastian Faulk (This was fascinating...you really lived the horrors of war in this book.)
18 Catcher in the Rye - JD Salinger (I read this on a student's recommendation. He thought every English teacher should read it, even if I couldn't teach it.)
19 The Time Traveler’s Wife - Audrey Niffenegger
20 Middlemarch - George Eliot (I still have a book report I wrote on this in 11th grade. Don't ask me why)
21 Gone With The Wind - Margaret Mitchell
22 The Great Gatsby - F Scott Fitzgerald (beautifully written...)
24 War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy
25 The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams
27 Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoyevsky (taught this one year for Honors English)
28 Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck
29 Alice in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll
30 The Wind in the Willows - Kenneth Grahame
31 Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy
32 David Copperfield - Charles Dickens
33 Chronicles of Narnia - CS Lewis
34 Emma - Jane Austen
35 Persuasion - Jane Austen (my new favorite Austen book)
36 The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe - CS Lewis
37 The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini
38 Captain Corelli’s Mandolin - Louis De Bernieres
39 Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden (this was fascinating)
40 Winnie the Pooh - A.A. Milne
41 Animal Farm - George Orwell
42 The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown
43 One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez (loved this)
44 A Prayer for Owen Meaney - John Irving
45 The Woman in White - Wilkie Collins
46 Anne of Green Gables - LM Montgomery (I know this almost by heart)
47 Far From The Madding Crowd - Thomas Hardy
48 The Handmaid’s Tale - Margaret Atwood
49 Lord of the Flies - William Golding
50 Atonement - Ian McEwan (amazing movie)
51 Life of Pi - Yann Martel
52 Dune - Frank Herbert
53 Cold Comfort Farm - Stella Gibbons
54 Sense and Sensibility - Jane Austen
55 A Suitable Boy - Vikram Seth
56 The Shadow of the Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafon
57 A Tale Of Two Cities - Charles Dickens (I love teaching this as a parable on salvation)
58 Brave New World - Aldous Huxley
59 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time - Mark Haddon
60 Love In The Time Of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Marquez (a beautiful book...haunting...I was lost in it for days after I finished reading it...read it on the plane to and from Russia)
61 Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck (this book was edited in the old GBA library...literally words were blacked out!!!)
62 Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov
63 The Secret History - Donna Tartt
64 The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold
65 Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas (I've been to the island prison off the coast of Marseilles)
66 On The Road - Jack Kerouac
67 Jude the Obscure - Thomas Hardy
68 Bridget Jones’s Diary - Helen Fielding (gotta love the movie)
69 Midnight’s Children - Salman Rushdie
70 Moby Dick - Herman Melville (the unabridged version!)
71 Oliver Twist - Charles Dickens
72 Dracula - Bram Stoker (this was for the same doctoral class at UNH. I would not have read it otherwise)
73 The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett (many times...the movie too)
74 Notes From A Small Island - Bill Bryson
75 Ulysses - James Joyce
76 The Inferno - Dante
77 Swallows and Amazons - Arthur Ransome
78 Germinal - Emile Zola
79 Vanity Fair - William Makepeace Thackeray
80 Possession - AS Byatt
81 A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens (I've enjoyed it best in live theatre)
82 Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell
83 The Color Purple - Alice Walker
84 The Remains of the Day - Kazuo Ishiguro (I loved this. It has one of my all-time favorite quotes at the end where it talks about the remains of the day)
85 Madame Bovary - Gustave Flaubert (In French)
86 A Fine Balance - Rohinton Mistry
87 Charlotte’s Web - E.B. White
88 The Five People You Meet In Heaven - Mitch Albom (Tuesdays with Morrie is better...and a favorite to share with seniors)
89 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
90 The Faraway Tree Collection - Enid Blyton
91 Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad
92 The Little Prince - Antoine De Saint-Exupery (also in French)
93 The Wasp Factory - Iain Banks
94 Watership Down - Richard Adams
95 A Confederacy of Dunces - John Kennedy Toole
96 A Town Like Alice - Nevil Shute
97 The Three Musketeers - Alexandre Dumas
98 Hamlet - William Shakespeare (my favorite Shakespeare tragedy and the one I teach instead of Macbeth)
99 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - Roald Dahl
100 Les Miserables - Victor Hugo (in French, and three times in the live theatre and also as a movie. The musical is wonderful)
Friday, November 19, 2010
Thursday, November 18, 2010
The first time I saw this movie, I was with a small group of students on a retreat. It was the evening of a full day and we were looking forward to relaxing with a good movie. We were unprepared for the effect this movie would have on us. As the story unfolded, we become more an more attentive, more and more focused on the images, almost to the point of being oblivious to anyone else around us. When it ended, we sat there in stunned silence for a full eleven minutes (one of the boys timed it). No one wanted to speak. No one wanted to break the spell. In spite of the discomfort for some (boys), it changed us. As individuals and as a group. We will never be the same for having gone through that experience together.
I don't know if this new class will feel the same way tomorrow when we finish the movie. I hope it makes an impact. But the fact that it happened even once is enough.
Sunday, November 14, 2010
To us, family means putting your arms around each other and being there. ~Barbara Bush
“Your family and your love must be cultivated like a garden. Time, effort, and imagination must be summoned constantly to keep any relationship flourishing and growing.” -Jim RohnMy sister spent the past three days in town (her husband was here for a medical conference). I took Friday off and enjoyed a spectacular day with her and my nephew who was also here. We gardened, sat by the pool, went shopping, talked a lot and just hung out. Thursday afternoon and Saturday was more of the same. I haven't done anything like that in some time. It was good to relax with family. I love the garden she made for me on the back patio with bouganvillia and a hummingbird bush. The birds do, too! The front patio is more of an herb garden with French and Spanish lavender.
Tuesday, November 09, 2010
"If you want to experience abundance at work, do what you were made to do. Do it for theOne who made you to do it (Colossians 3:22)."
Randy Roberts is one of my favorite speakers. I've never had the privilege to hear him live, in person. But I've watched him on the internet (live streaming) dozens of times. He is pastor where my niece now worships out in CA where she is in her first year of medical school. She is active in the musical life of the church and I've had the pleasure of seeing/hearing her minister to the congregation twice already in the past two months and will again this weekend (she's the cellist here).
It's a wonderful thing to be able to do what you love and know it is also what you are called to do. Every day when I wake up I say a prayer of gratitude for the opportunity I have to do what I do. I know I am fortunate. Not everyone is happy in what they do for a living. Truth to tell, I haven't always been happy, even though I knew I was doing what I was called to do. So the two don't always go hand in hand. But they are working well together right now. Can't complain about that!
Monday, November 08, 2010
Away from books, away from art, the day erased, the lesson done,
Thee fully forth emerging, silent, gazing, pondering the themes thou lovest best.
Night, sleep, and the stars.~Walt Whitman, "The Clear Midnight," Leaves of Grass
I've had this poem saved on my computer for several weeks. Not sure what prompted me to set it aside, but tonight it spoke to me again. "Away from books, away from art, the day erased, the lesson done." It's been a long day. Mondays I'm at school for 12+ hours, arriving around 7 and leaving well after 7. I often don't even get out of my room once I go in.
Teaching 6 high school English classes is beyond time consuming. The prep alone is exhausting, never mind the actual teaching. And yet, I love it. Even the classes that challenge me. I greet each day with joy knowing that not only will I be pondering themes I love, but, with any luck, so will my students.
But for now, night, sleep, and the stars.
Sunday, November 07, 2010
Saturday, November 06, 2010
Spades take up leaves
No better than spoons,
And bags full of leaves
Are light as balloons.
I make a great noise
Of rustling all day
Like rabbit and deer
But the mountains I raise
Elude my embrace,
Flowing over my arms
And into my face.
I may load and unload
Again and again
Till I fill the whole shed,
And what have I then?
Next to nothing for weight;
And since they grew duller
From contact with earth,
Next to nothing for use.
But a crop is a crop,
And who's to say where
The harvest shall stop?
I have become increasingly negligent with this blog. I'm not sure why. I think about it quite a bit. I am constantly looking for things to blog about. I even have the time. I just haven't done it. It's not that I'm not interested in doing it any more. I am. It's just that sometimes I wonder at the weight of what I write. Like Frost's poem here: Next to nothing for weight...next to nothing for use. I want what I write to have some weight, some merit, some use...for myself if no one else. But that's a pretty heavy demand, especially if you're going to write every day. I ask my students to write five times a week in their journals. I give them writing promts 2-3 of those days, but they are supposed to come up with something worth writing down the other 2-3 days. An even heavier demand of reluctant writers I'm realizing.
But...a crop is a crop, according to Frost. And who's to say where the harvest shall stop? Who's to say what's meaningful? What seems lightweight to one, might make all the difference to another. And so...I'm determined to do what I ask my students to do: write at least 5 times a week here. Don't hold me to it. But I will try...