Tuesday, November 12, 2019

The Butterfly Hours Memoir Project: SUMMER JOB

For 2019 I'm running a year-long series on my blog in which I share my responses to the writing assignment prompts found in THE BUTTERLY HOURS by Patty Dann.

I welcome you to join me, if you like! I've divided the prompts by month, and the plan is to respond to 3 (or so) a week. For some of these I may write poems, for others prose. The important thing is to mine my memory. Who knows where this exploration will lead?

For links to the prompts I've written on so far this year, please click on The Butterfly Hours tab above.

This month's prompts are straws, studio, stuffed animal, summer job, tattoos, telephone, tennis court, test, theater.


SUMMER JOB

My best summer job was as a babysitter for a family with four girls: Phoenix, Noel, Merry Lynn and Alaina. Actually, when I first started, Alaina wasn't yet born! My sister and I both babysat for them for several years, and I still hold them all in my heart. We read together and painted and played and
made snacks... I didn't know it, but I was totally practicing to be a mother. Because the girls lived within blocks of the library, one of our favorite things to do was walk down with the wagon, and come back loaded down with books! I wrote a poem that includes some of the details for the anthology THE POETRY OF US, edited by J. Patrick Lewis.

I Give Thanks for Trussville, Alabama

For the boxy blue house
on Lake Street

the low branch on the chinaberry tree,
perfect for spying

the rattle of the Red Flyer
as we pull it empty

across sidewalks cracked
and raised by the roots of ancient oaks.

For the library three blocks down
and one block over

where we build a soon-to-be
avalanche of books –

our wagon turned pumpkin
turned carriage turned train.

For the one stop light
blinking caution caution caution

for the noonday bus
wheezing its promise to carry us away –

someday,
but not until we're ready.

- Irene Latham

Sunday, November 10, 2019

The Butterfly Hours Memoir Project: STUFFED ANIMAL

For 2019 I'm running a year-long series on my blog in which I share my responses to the writing assignment prompts found in THE BUTTERLY HOURS by Patty Dann.

I welcome you to join me, if you like! I've divided the prompts by month, and the plan is to respond to 3 (or so) a week. For some of these I may write poems, for others prose. The important thing is to mine my memory. Who knows where this exploration will lead?

For links to the prompts I've written on so far this year, please click on The Butterfly Hours tab above.

This month's prompts are straws, studio, stuffed animal, summer job, tattoos, telephone, tennis court, test, theater.

STUFFED ANIMAL


wee me with birthday stash
I've had lots of stuffed animals over my life. (Pretty much all my birthday pictures include books and stuffed animals!) Some were made for my by my grandmother. Others were the store-bought variety. I remember an ultra-soft plush white polar bear, a little lamb with a black face. My sister Lynn, who is a Leo, had a fuzzy yellow lion. In recent years my middle son forgot my birthday when he was probably 16, and then he surprised me with a pink stuffed dog he got from the grocery store where he worked at the time. The dog wasn't anything like what I'd choose for myself, and I didn't really have a place for a stuffed toy that size, but of course I loved it!
last shot of the stuffed dog
It lived a long and happy life until recently, when puppy Rosie took a shine to it. The damage was done before I could rescue the stuffed dog, and the real dog liked it so much, that I just let her enjoy it. This is more in keeping with my current more minimalist, in-the-moment approach to living... recent experiences like downsizing and losing my father (who was quite the collector) are helping teach me not to be so attached to THINGS. Even the son who gave me the stuffed dog was understanding when I showed him the picture of the now-destroyed stuffed dog. (He also said he'd let Santa know. :) And it was also that son who told me recently when I said after he'd gone, “I just wish I'd taken a picture of you” that I shouldn't worry, because I have him in real life. Oh, the fear of loss... like I said, I'm learning!

(and this is why I couldn't resist
letting Rosie have her way
with the toy!)

Thursday, November 7, 2019

Still and Steady for Poetry Friday

Hello, dear Poetry Friday friends! Welcome to this week's Poetry Friday Roundup! I've just a couple of things to share before we get to the links.

1. NCTE is less than two weeks away! I look forward to seeing many of you there! Don't forget to rsvp Laura Shovan about the Thursday (yes, this has been changed from the earlier Wednesday plans. Now THURSDAY!) night Poets of Kidlit Dinner at Nick's Fish House, 7 pm. Here's a graphic with some of my events:



2. I've been thinking about how often our first impulse when upset or fearful or mad or whatever is to do something, when maybe what we really need to do first is pause and reflect... and then I was reading IN BEAUTY MAY I WALK... Words of Peace and Wisdom by Native Americans, edited by Helen Exley. This sweet, rich little book was published by Exley Publications back in 1997 and has been warming my bookshelf ever since. Here's a passage that resonates with me today:

I WILL BE STILL AND STEADY...
If, like a Cherokee warrior, I can look at the new year as an opportunity to stand on new ground, then strength and courage are on my side. I will remember that things do work out, bodies do heal, relationships mend -- not because I said it, but because I believe it.

But it is time to make things right, to stay on the path. As water runs fresh and free from the woodland spring, so new life and meaning will bubble up from my own inner source. I will be still and steady, because there is nothing to be gained by showing fear in a chaotic world.   - Joyce Sequichie Hifler

... and here is a poem that seems to come from that same place inside me:

Thanks so much for reading!

ROUNDUP
Be sure to visit all these wonderful posts to get your Friday (and any day!) poetry fix:

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!
Click here to enter


Wednesday, November 6, 2019

The Butterfly Hours Memoir Project: STUDIO

For 2019 I'm running a year-long series on my blog in which I share my responses to the writing assignment prompts found in THE BUTTERLY HOURS by Patty Dann.

I welcome you to join me, if you like! I've divided the prompts by month, and the plan is to respond to 3 (or so) a week. For some of these I may write poems, for others prose. The important thing is to mine my memory. Who knows where this exploration will lead?

For links to the prompts I've written on so far this year, please click on The Butterfly Hours tab above.

This month's prompts are straws, studio, stuffed animal, summer job, tattoos, telephone, tennis court, test, theater.


STUDIO

I've written before about my own studio – the Purple Horse Poetry Studio and Music Room. I chose “studio” (over “study” or “library” or “office” or any other name) because I identify as an artist first. Here's a quick poem:

If You Want to Know My Heart, Come Inside My Studio

one chamber:
four walls to hold
eighty-eight piano keys
five cello strings

two dozen shelves
fat with books
and hungry for more
more more

a hodgepodge gallery
of watercolor, collage,
pen and ink
the exact same scent
as woodsmoke

its heartbeat,
a window
carrying inside
tree   mountain
bluebird    lake

one light, pulsing
and strung
with yellow-edged
pictures of 
loved-ones' faces

open-shut-open
door taped over
with Dear __ greetings

two roomy closets
where poems tuck
themselves between
quilts   paint
ribbon    thread

the air aswirl
with dreams
made red with words –

some silent
and true as stars,
others slipping
whispering, still:

                       dust
beneath the door.


-->
- Irene Latham

Monday, November 4, 2019

The Butterfly Hours Memoir Project: STRAWS

For 2019 I'm running a year-long series on my blog in which I share my responses to the writing assignment prompts found in THE BUTTERLY HOURS by Patty Dann.

I welcome you to join me, if you like! I've divided the prompts by month, and the plan is to respond to 3 (or so) a week. For some of these I may write poems, for others prose. The important thing is to mine my memory. Who knows where this exploration will lead?

For links to the prompts I've written on so far this year, please click on The Butterfly Hours tab above.

This month's prompts are straws, studio, stuffed animal, summer job, tattoos, telephone, tennis court, test, theater.

STRAWS

July 2004 US Open Sandcastle
Competition, Imperial Beach
San Diego, CA (the guy on
the lower left is using a straw)
A straw seems such a simple thing and yet it generates a lot of opinions, doesn't it? I like a straw because sometimes my teeth are sensitive to temperature. Also I read or heard somewhere that using a straw prevents stains on teeth. And since I drink a lot of tea... but then I was lunching with a friend, and she told me she won't use a straw because it will wrinkle the skin around your lips and mouth. Another friend is a proponent of reusable straws to cut down on landfill waste. At the zoo, straws aren't allowed, because they are potentially dangerous if ingested by an animal.
Some artists use straws to help them create their work. In particular I have this memory of watching sand sculptors use straws to blow away bits during a sandcastle competition. Cool!

p.s. My first thought when I hear the word “straw”: MILKSHAKE. Mmmmmm....''

Friday, November 1, 2019

A Gee's Bend Poetry Friday

Hello and Happy Poetry Friday! Be sure to visit for Tabatha at The Opposite of Indifference for Roundup.

Last week it was my great good fortune to spend some time with students at Pelham Oaks Elementary. The 4th and 5th graders had read LEAVING GEE'S BEND, and wow, were they a great group! I was impressed by what good listeners they were, and also by what interesting questions they asked. This is a direct reflection on librarian Kristi Plemons and all the teachers, and the way they made this story come alive for students. What an honor to share time with these readers! Here are some pictures from the day:
some great readers, Kristi Plemons,
Irene Latham (and Ludelphia)!

timeline of happenings in Gee's Bend

... and here is maybe my most favorite
thing of all, found on a bulletin board
full of "lessons or takeaways" from
LEAVING GEE'S BEND:



"That you don't have to follow the rules or draw inside the lines, to make something beautiful, and express yourself."

THAT is a poem! And: "Quilting is Art."

YES! And here's proof, in an autumn motif, from the recent Blount County Quilters Guild show held at beautiful Palisades Park:


Finally, I want to share a little from YELLOW KAYAK by Nina Laden, illus by Melissa Castrillon. It's a long poem about an adventure that begins:

Yellow kayak.
Blue sky.
Paddle swiftly
Wave good-bye.

I'm completely smitten with this book! I hope you'll check it out. Happy first day of November to all! xo





Wednesday, October 30, 2019

The Butterfly Hours Memoir Project: STEPMOTHER

For 2019 I'm running a year-long series on my blog in which I share my responses to the writing assignment prompts found in THE BUTTERLY HOURS by Patty Dann.

I welcome you to join me, if you like! I've divided the prompts by month, and the plan is to respond to 3 (or so) a week. For some of these I may write poems, for others prose. The important thing is to mine my memory. Who knows where this exploration will lead?

For links to the prompts I've written on so far this year, please click on The Butterfly Hours tab above.

This month's prompts are sister, shoes, slippers, snow, snowstorm, soccer, soup, stairs, stamp, stepmother.


STEPMOTHER

I have deep respect for stepmothers. I am not a stepmother and didn't have a stepmother. But I know stepmothers, and it can be tough! Which is why, some years ago, I wrote this poem about Anne Moynet, who was John James Audubon's stepmother.


Anne Moynet Audubon, Long before
Birds of America

This boy would dart off before dawn,
climb trees, examine eggs, take out
his little pencil and draw the birds in flight.

When I’d meet him at the arbor with tea
and cookies, he’d share the bounty
of pockets: egg shells, nests of curling

leaves, feathers of every color. So what
if his cheeks stayed smudged and he rarely
made it in time for supper? For those

of you who’ll say, he was not yours,
I ask you: Does the earth not belong
to the sky? Does the shore not love

the ocean, even as it crashes upon it?
Does the bluebird not sit on the nest,
even if the egg is speckled instead of pale?

- Irene Latham


Monday, October 28, 2019

The Butterfly Hours Memoir Project: STAMP

For 2019 I'm running a year-long series on my blog in which I share my responses to the writing assignment prompts found in THE BUTTERLY HOURS by Patty Dann.

I welcome you to join me, if you like! I've divided the prompts by month, and the plan is to respond to 3 (or so) a week. For some of these I may write poems, for others prose. The important thing is to mine my memory. Who knows where this exploration will lead?

For links to the prompts I've written on so far this year, please click on The Butterfly Hours tab above.

This month's prompts are sister, shoes, slippers, snow, snowstorm, soccer, soup, stairs, stamp, stepmother.


STAMP

me and Papa, probably talking
about books or poetry or writing
No one has been a bigger supporter of my writing than my father. He's the one who introduced me to Dr. Seuss and Shel Silverstein. He's the one who encouraged me with ideas and books and conversations. 

When I was a teenager Papa paid for me to take a by-mail writing course. The first part was journalistic writing, and the second was creative writing. I'd complete an assignment, send it in, and then someone out there would read it and offer me feedback. I got some pretty nice feedback – so nice that I got a bit bored with it and never even got to the creative writing portion of the course. Or maybe I just got busy... there were many distractions during those (and all) years! I'm sure Papa was disappointed, but that's not the part I remember. 

The part I remember is how he'd give me assignments of his own. One of the most memorable assignments was when he gave me an envelope from his stamp collection. The stamp was postmarked in Ireland and the envelope was addressed to Charles A. Lindbergh. Papa told me to write about what might have been in that envelope. And so I did! My father loved it, of course. He was my best cheerleader, the one who'd listen to me spin my wheels about anything and everything books and writing. I'm so grateful. I'm so lucky. I miss him every day.

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

The Butterfly Hours Memoir Project: STAIRS


For 2019 I'm running a year-long series on my blog in which I share my responses to the writing assignment prompts found in THE BUTTERLY HOURS by Patty Dann.

I welcome you to join me, if you like! I've divided the prompts by month, and the plan is to respond to 3 (or so) a week. For some of these I may write poems, for others prose. The important thing is to mine my memory. Who knows where this exploration will lead?

For links to the prompts I've written on so far this year, please click on The Butterfly Hours tab above.

This month's prompts are sister, shoes, slippers, snow, snowstorm, soccer, soup, stairs, stamp, stepmother.

STAIRS
The house on Burns Lane in Birmingham, AL had a staircase in the corner of the foyer that turned and became a small balcony that led to my younger brother's bedroom and one side and mine and my sister's bedrooms on the other side. One of my childhood gripes was how once we moved into that house, my father no longer came into our rooms to bid us goodnight. He was obese for much of my childhood, and climbing stairs was not something he could comfortably do. I'm not sure which I resented more – him (and his weight) or the stairs. I just thought if he loved us, he would climb the stairs anyway. And when he didn't, I felt unloved and forgotten.

Another (happier) memory from the same set of stairs was my first date with Paul. I was in college, living at home, and when he rang the doorbell to pick me up on our first (blind) date, I was still (strategically) in my room. My mom answered the door, and I made my grand entrance coming down those stairs as Paul watched, smiling, from the foyer. With what happy faces we greeted one another! I remember how his cheeks lifted, how round and rosy they were, like a little kid's. And how his hair flipped up above his ears. Adorable! Of course I had to marry him! :)

Currently we live on a mountainous lake which offers an amazing view, and to get to the water, there's a 150-step staircase. Getting down there is not a problem. It's the coming-back-up! Our son uses the staircase like bleachers and runs them as part of his exercise regime. We, too, use those stairs with joy and pep in our step – who needs a gym membership? It's all in how you frame it... and it all balances out, because our home is 100% one-level living. It's not for everyone, but we feel like we have the best of both... and our “Overlook” is one of our favorite parts of the place. It's a giant rock right on the edge near where the stair begin and where we've got a couple of Adirondack chairs for looking out over the water and up in the sky at the eagles, geese, herons, clouds... lovely!

FYI: My picture book collection of nonets, which are "grand staircase" poems, comes out June 9, 2020! You can find the first nonet I ever wrote here.

Saturday, October 19, 2019

The Butterfly Hours Memoir Project: SOUP poem

For 2019 I'm running a year-long series on my blog in which I share my responses to the writing assignment prompts found in THE BUTTERLY HOURS by Patty Dann.

I welcome you to join me, if you like! I've divided the prompts by month, and the plan is to respond to 3 (or so) a week. For some of these I may write poems, for others prose. The important thing is to mine my memory. Who knows where this exploration will lead?

For links to the prompts I've written on so far this year, please click on The Butterfly Hours tab above.

This month's prompts are sister, shoes, slippers, snow, snowstorm, soccer, soup, stairs, stamp, stepmother.


SOUP

We were a Campbell's soup family. Alphabet soup, chicken noodle, tomato (for the grownups-- I didn't care for it as a child). Sometimes I would carry soup in a thermos to school. Sometimes it leaked. I remember loving the smell of homemade chicken soup simmering in the big pot on the stove. When the time was right, it was my job to dump in the noodles. Also, during our time in Louisiana, I recall church and other gatherings that included big pots of gumbo. Those cajuns can COOK! My mother-in-law Bobbie loved making vegetable soup and corn bread – and I do, too!

Because today is a soup day, I decided to write a poem.


Soup Season


When the wind curls
and the sky unfurls,
pull out a big pot.
Fill it with all you've got:
onions, carrots,
bits of meat. . .
Wait awhile
for it to heat.
Breathe it in, let it steep.
Ladle it into bowls
you can cradle in your lap.
Then blow, slurp.
slop sop!
Soon you'll be good
and warm and cozy
from your ears
all the way to your toesies.

- Irene Latham


Friday, October 18, 2019

Pumpkins, Paint and Poetry

painted pumpkin patch
Hello and Happy Poetry Friday! Be sure to visit Jama's Alphabet Soup for what I am sure will be a beautiful- delicious Roundup!
Each year my community has a Fall Festival with pumpkin painting, hay ride, petting zoo, inflatables, cake walk, silent auction, food, and more... it's a lot of fun!
This year it started raining about an hour into our festivities, so many folks packed up and went home. But we sure had a good time while it lasted! And it reminded me to share about a couple of pumpkin-y books I've read recently (which is kind of weird, because usually I am not so timely in my reading!):

PICK A PUMPKIN by Patricia Toht, illus. by Jarvis, brought to us by Candlewick is one long poem for the wee ones that perfectly captures the experience of visiting a pumpkin patch and choosing just the right one and turning it into a jack-o-lantern. Lovely!

... and PUMPKINHEADS by Rainbow Rowell, illus. by Faith Erin Hicks, brought to us by First Second. It's a graphic novel about teens who work at a pumpkin patch. In true Rainbow Rowell style, it's also a sweet love story.

I also received in the mail a delicious cornucopia of Halloweenie treasure from Michelle Kogan! You can find them at her etsy shop.


I'm kind of enchanted by white pumpkins lately... you can learn more about them here. And here is a wee poem:


ghost pumpkin
glows,
smolders –
spooks no one

- Irene Latham


Wednesday, October 16, 2019

The Butterfly Hours Memoir Project: SOCCER


For 2019 I'm running a year-long series on my blog in which I share my responses to the writing assignment prompts found in THE BUTTERLY HOURS by Patty Dann.

I welcome you to join me, if you like! I've divided the prompts by month, and the plan is to respond to 3 (or so) a week. For some of these I may write poems, for others prose. The important thing is to mine my memory. Who knows where this exploration will lead?

For links to the prompts I've written on so far this year, please click on The Butterfly Hours tab above.

This month's prompts are sister, shoes, slippers, snow, snowstorm, soccer, soup, stairs, stamp, stepmother.

SOCCER

Soccer was not a part of my childhood. I avoided team sports at school, and certainly never joined a team outside of school. I don't remember ever even going to a soccer game until my younger brother MicaJon played in high school. He was pretty good at it, I think. He's always enjoyed pushing himself physically... his current passion is road cycling.

For soccer poems, be sure
to check out 
SOCCERVERSE:
Poems About Soccer 

by Elizabeth Steinglass,
ilus. by Edson Ike.
Back to soccer: I do have soccer memories from the thick of crazy-childrearing years. All three boys played soccer on a little league team at least a few seasons (and often participated in games held at the same time on different fields). At one point I even served as co-commissioner for one of my sons' age groups (though I cannot now remember which!). This meant setting the teams, game schedules, assigning colors, ordering and distributing t-shirts... I helped out for a couple of seasons, until our kids moved on to other activities. Daniel stuck with soccer the longest, but eventually we realized it was not a good fit for him. Better fits were karate and later cross-country. It can be difficult for shy compliant kids to find their place... esp. when they are good at everything, which Daniel was. But that didn't mean he wanted to be there! So even though it seemed a shame for him quit something he was good at, his happiness was (and is!) more important.




Monday, October 14, 2019

The Butterfly Hours Memoir Project: SNOWSTORM

For 2019 I'm running a year-long series on my blog in which I share my responses to the writing assignment prompts found in THE BUTTERLY HOURS by Patty Dann.

I welcome you to join me, if you like! I've divided the prompts by month, and the plan is to respond to 3 (or so) a week. For some of these I may write poems, for others prose. The important thing is to mine my memory. Who knows where this exploration will lead?

For links to the prompts I've written on so far this year, please click on The Butterfly Hours tab above.

This month's prompts are sister, shoes, slippers, snow, snowstorm, soccer, soup, stairs, stamp, stepmother.

SNOWSTORM

I don't have any childhood snowstorm memories -- I did love the descriptions of snow in the LITTLE HOUSE books, though!

As an adult I have wonderful memories of the snowstorm of 1993 here in central Alabama. Paul and I lived on a mountaintop in a middle of forty acres. The drifts were crazy-big and so white! Our power was out, and because our water ran on an electric pump, we were out of water, too. And we couldn't leave our property because of the whole living on top of a mountain meant a very steep driveway which was impassable for nearly a week. We cooked steaks in our fireplace. We camped out next to the same fireplace. We spent the mornings in the sun room where the windows warmed the room. We played Trivial Pursuit 80s edition, and Paul won. And then... it got old. I wanted it to be over. I wanted the snow to melt. It still took a few more days.

A more recent snow/ice event was the snowpocalyse of 2014  I was driving with Daniel to pick up Eric for a special lunch out, because school was being let out early. As we were heading toward Birmingham on Hwy 280, the traffic slowed considerably. By the time we got to the school, the snow and ice combined with everyone getting off work/school created an impossible traffic jam around the city. NO way could we get back home! 

We hiked instead to my friend Jim's bookstore. Eric was in flip flops (due to have had an ingrown toenail removed), so we stopped at the shelter on the way to pick up some socks and other supplies. I asked Jim if we could hike and stay at his house, but he thought we'd be better off at Eric's school (a boarding school). Later, he said he thought we'd enjoy the adventure. Daniel didn't care for this plan, so he said he'd walk home. 

Eric and I went back to the school to wait it out. We ended up staying the night and going to the Alabama Power building for supper. I think it was far more fun for the kids than the parents. It was pretty brutal sleeping on the floor. I couldn't wait for things to warm up enough the next day for us to try getting our car home. 

We were the first ones to brave the roads, and we had no idea what we were in for! The roads were still treacherous, and now the roads were stacked with abandoned cars. It truly was like the apocalypse! We had to go like 10 mph most of the way. It felt like a miracle when we finally got home. We were jealous of Daniel who had walked and hitched his way home the night before. Andrew did some walking, too, after he wrecked his car coming down the hill on Caldwell Mill Rd. from school. He had to leave the car and walk the rest of the way home. To make matters worse, he couldn't get in touch with us because the phone service was down. Meanwhile Paul was stuck at work. He was able to get to WalMart to get some blankets and food for he and his employees. They slept on office furniture. What an adventure for all of us!

Friday, October 11, 2019

MOONSTRUCK! and a New Moon Poem

Hello and Happy Poetry Friday! Be sure to visit Catherine at Reading to the Core for Roundup.

I've got the moon on my mind -- thanks, in part, to the anthology MOONSTRUCK! Poems About our Moon edited by Roger Stevens, illustrated by Ed Boxall. Lots of gems in this book, and proof of poets' continued fascination with the moon. (A couple of my faves upon this latest reading: "Three Short Poems" by Tony Mitton and "You" by Jay Hulme. Do check this book out!)
I mean, who among you has NOT written a poem about and/or including the moon? Which is what makes it so difficult, as Karla Kuskin so brilliantly addresses in her poem "Write About A Radish," which begins with this stanza:

"Write about a radish
Too many people write about the
 moon."

So of course I decided to write a new moon poem. :) Enjoy!

photo by flikr from london, UK - flikr0114, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=384420

If the Moon Were an Onion

then stars could only be
the sun's teardrops
as she halves,
slices,
slivers –
preparing our nightfeast.


- Irene Latham

Thursday, October 10, 2019

The Butterfly Hours Memoir Project: SNOW

For 2019 I'm running a year-long series on my blog in which I share my responses to the writing assignment prompts found in THE BUTTERLY HOURS by Patty Dann.

I welcome you to join me, if you like! I've divided the prompts by month, and the plan is to respond to 3 (or so) a week. For some of these I may write poems, for others prose. The important thing is to mine my memory. Who knows where this exploration will lead?

For links to the prompts I've written on so far this year, please click on The Butterfly Hours tab above.

This month's prompts are sister, shoes, slippers, snow, snowstorm, soccer, soup, stairs, stamp, stepmother.


SNOW

ice storm, 5th grade
Growing up mostly in the south (and partly overseas), I don't have a lot of snow memories. So I tend to romanticize snow! It's all quiet hush and magic to me. I remember making snow cream and snow angels and snow men. I also remember watching our boys sled down the hill on trash can lids. But my biggest cold weather memory from childhood was an ice storm when I was in 5th grade living in Folsom, Louisiana. This was a rare event in Louisiana, and school was canceled for two days. The icicles daggered from the gutters and the yard held sheets of ice. It was thrilling!

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

The Butterfly Hours Memoir Project: SLIPPERS

For 2019 I'm running a year-long series on my blog in which I share my responses to the writing assignment prompts found in THE BUTTERLY HOURS by Patty Dann.

I welcome you to join me, if you like! I've divided the prompts by month, and the plan is to respond to 3 (or so) a week. For some of these I may write poems, for others prose. The important thing is to mine my memory. Who knows where this exploration will lead?

For links to the prompts I've written on so far this year, please click on The Butterfly Hours tab above.

This month's prompts are sister, shoes, slippers, snow, snowstorm, soccer, soup, stairs, stamp, stepmother.

SLIPPERS

I guess I come from a mostly go-barefoot-in-the-house family – and we've most often lived in the south, where slippers aren't nearly as useful as flip flops. (I myself am an ardent flip flop fan!) So the only slippers that come to mind are the pink ones that belonged to Grandma Dykes (the fuzzy ones with a simple open-backed band over the toes that you slip on) and my ballet slippers. 

Yes, for a time, I was sure I would be a ballerina! I never made it to toe shoes, but I did learn the basic positions. I also got to wear a leotard and tights. I was told I had a beautiful “dancer's neck” and that my flexibility and long limbs made me a natural. What little girl doesn't love hearing that?! Truly, I have carried those words with me for a lifetime.

Here are some links to poems I've written about dancers/dancing:




Sunday, October 6, 2019

The Butterfly Hours Memoir Project: SHOES

For 2019 I'm running a year-long series on my blog in which I share my responses to the writing assignment prompts found in THE BUTTERLY HOURS by Patty Dann.

I welcome you to join me, if you like! I've divided the prompts by month, and the plan is to respond to 3 (or so) a week. For some of these I may write poems, for others prose. The important thing is to mine my memory. Who knows where this exploration will lead?

For links to the prompts I've written on so far this year, please click on The Butterfly Hours tab above.

This month's prompts are sister, shoes, slippers, snow, snowstorm, soccer, soup, stairs, stamp, stepmother.


SHOES

The shoes of my childhood were mostly plain. I wrote about them in "Shoes," which appears in CAN I TOUCH YOUR HAIR? My mother was quite practical, and we had a large family, so we got what we needed: a pair of athletic shoes and a pair of church shoes.

As a teen I remember wearing white Keds with pretty much everything. My senior year I had a pair of white boots with leather fringe – and I loved them! But boots were only a fall/winter thing, and even that was something of a stretch in Alabama. I probably only wore them three or four months.

the boots were sort of like this
When I think of my “style,” which has been described as bohemian or flow-y or artsy, I think of those white fringed boots. I especially remember wearing them with a pink (flow-y) sleeveless dress that my mother miraculously bought for me at Walt DisneyVillage Marketplace when we were there meeting a friend of hers. It was so unexpected that she would splurge like that on a dress from an overpriced shop... but she did, and I wore that pink dress with the white boots to school every couple of weeks (which was as often as one could get away with repeating an outfit).

One of the many things I learned from my mother-in-law Bobbie was to get the clothes items that you want – sometimes they come from Walmart or thrift stores (for me, not my mother-in-law), sometimes they come from expensive shops. Price shouldn't the primary consideration. (Yes, this shows my privilege.) These days COMFORT is a primary consideration. And while I haven't seen white fringed boots in a long time, I do own a pair of beige cowboy boots that I adore and wear in much the same way I wore those other boots. Mostly, I think, we should wear whatever makes us feel good about ourselves. I'm not sure that's white fringed boots anymore, but it is fun to remember!

Friday, October 4, 2019

"This Old Boat" and Other Treasures

Hello and Happy Poetry Friday! Be sure to visit Cheriee at Library Matters for Roundup.

Some exciting things around here:

1. It's CYBILS time! Be sure to nominate your favorite books, now through Oct. 15. I'm exciting to be serving this year as a round 2 panelist for Elementary/Middle Grade Nonfiction. Yay!

2. CAN I TOUCH YOUR HAIR? released this week in the UK, thanks to Oneworld Publications, Rock the Boat imprint. (Don't you love that name?) October is National Poetry Month in the UK, so it's quite good timing for a poetry book release.

3. My NCTE plans are coming together! I am excited to see many of you in November. :) :) :)

4. While driving around Blount County, Paul and I made a discover that was begging to be a poem. Enjoy!


This Old Boat

After so many voyages,
so many seas
now she floats
in a kudzu lake,
surrounded by pine trees.

See how she dips,
sways?
How bound she is
to each new day?
These gentle waters offer shelter
from once-relentless
storms: Go or stay?

Who could have imagined
her life would turn out this way?
This boat cresting waves
that belong to nobody.
This old boat, waiting 
                               for me.

- Irene Latham




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