What’s Your Teaching Story?#SOL

Did you participate in Kathleen’s 6 word challenge over the weekend? Her prompt was: “What is your teaching story, told in a 6 word memoir?” If not, I’m sure she’d love your offering.

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I’m not sure why it didn’t trigger a response about the here and now for me. Instead it dug up the past. When I graduated from college in 1987 (OK, it’s out there. Do the math!), districts were closing schools and RIFing teachers. My then Superintendent father encouraged me to hang on before entering “the family business.” He said things would get better, but they’d take a bit of time. I took his advice and I’m glad I did. For the next ten years I worked in marketing and PR (Labatt’s beer, Chico-San Rice Cakes, RC Cola, John Hancock Life Insurance), gaining terrific work experience and building up my savings for grad school. There were days (and many nights) that were fun, but many that weren’t. I yearned for a job that was rewarding, fulfilling. One that made me feel I was making a difference, and not just forcing a product or service upon someone. Finally I starting taking grad classes one at a time in the evenings. This was a big secret. Nobody knew. I’d dash out the office door in downtown Boston as close to five as I could, hop on the T, and make my way to Cambridge for an evening of study. Just taking one class at a time took quite a while. Years. Eventually it was time for student teaching. I couldn’t work and student teach, so it was time to make my move. Needless to say it shocked everyone at work. I’d never mentioned or let on that I had a plan and now it was time.  And there I went, never looking back.

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Click here to read all the responses to Kathleen’s prompt.

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Many thanks to the crew at Two Writing Teachers, and the extended SOL community, for giving us the time, space, and encouragement to live the writerly life each Tuesday. Won’t you join us?

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#GoldenCap #PoetryFriday

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Last week during our vacation, my husband and I climbed Golden Cap, the highest peak on the south coast of England — the Jurassic Coast. (Click here to learn more.) My offering this Poetry Friday is a tanka found among the lines of Andrew Blakemore’s Golden Cap, like fossils found amongst the pebbles by beachcombers on shore below.

Golden Cap rises

 

Golden Cap rises

Above sparkling blue water

Gulls circling, soaring

Heathered slopes beckoning all

To ascend and join the clouds

 

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Golden Cap by Andrew Blakemore

Golden Cap views from its peak so enchanting
Across the blue waters to Lyme Regis bay,
The fine pearl of Dorset her Cobb and the harbour
Her houses a paint-box of colour this day.

I walk through the grass on this heavenly hillside
That’s rising so steeply to Corsican Pine,
I stand there and gaze at the south coast of England
And know that these riches shall always be mine.

(click here for more)

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Katie over at The Logonauts is graciously hosting this week’s Poetry Friday. Why not join us there and spread some poetry love!

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I was warned! #SOL

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“Watch out for the gulls when you’re down at the sea front,” just about everyone warned us during our week in Lyme Regis. “They are everywhere, and they’ll snatch the food right out of your hand!” Of course I heard this cautionary advice time and time again, but since we didn’t eat in exposed areas all that often, I suppose it went in one ear and out the other.

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So there I was minding my own business, nibbling on a delicious Coronation Chicken sandwich, when it happened. I looked away for a split second and “OUCH,” I shrieked! I felt a brief, but sharp pain in the tip of my left pointer finger. There was a speck of blood where I’d been pecked, and my sandwich was gone. How had I not seen it happen? It was all a blur. My husband said one gull pecked at me, forcing me to drop the sandwich, and several gulls descended on the tasty meal that lay before them on the pavement. Several locals passing by just shook their heads in that “Bloody tourists. I told you so” way.

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Many thanks to the crew at Two Writing Teachers, and the extended SOL community, for giving us the time, space, and encouragement to live the writerly life each Tuesday. Won’t you join us?

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Memories of Paddington #SOL

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Just a sliver of a slice with a big dollop of Devon cream as I’m traveling in the UK at the moment!

Recently Michael Bond, the author of the Paddington books, passed away. I have such fond memories of these books, as my father read all of them to me when I was little. Every night we’d snuggle up on the couch in the living room, laughing together at the latest escapades of this delightful character so lovingly created by Mr. Bond. While passing through Paddington Station on Friday, I was struck by the memorial to him that has cropped up at the statue of his iconic bear. There were bouquets, heartfelt notes, and even jars of marmalade, Paddington’s favorite treat. What a lovely tribute.

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Many thanks to the crew at Two Writing Teachers, and the extended SOL community, for giving us the time, space, and encouragement to live the writerly life each Tuesday. Won’t you join us?

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She Sells Seashells By The Seashore #PoetryFriday

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Greetings from Lyme Regis on the Jurassic Coast of England! I’ve just arrived today to begin a week of hiking the Southwest Coast Path with my husband and exploring the amazing world of Mary Anning, a 19th century fossil collector and amateur paleontologist.

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Mary is thought to be the inspiration for the children’s tongue twister, She Sells Seashells By The Seashore. (Click here to read my slice about Mary and the trip’s inspiration.) If so, those weren’t shells she was selling!

Here is the complete text:

She sells seashells by the seashore.
The shells she sells are surely seashells.
So if she sells shells on the seashore,
I’m sure she sells seashore shells.

While researching my trip and literary connections, I stumbled up this silly limerick about Lyme Regis written by 19th century art critic and limerick writer William Cosmo Monkhouse. (Click here. You HAVE to see what he looks like!) Just for fun!

There once was an old man of Lyme 
Who married three wives at a time, 
When asked, “Why a third?” 
He replied, ” One’s absurd! 
And bigamy, sir, is a crime.”

See you soon!

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My dear cyber friend and digital literacy mentor Carol at Beyond Literacy Link is graciously hosting this week’s Poetry Friday. Why not join us there and spread some poetry love!

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Near Disaster! #SOL

My husband handed me his laptop bag and asked, “Will you carry this for me?” He then removed his suitcase and backpack from the back seat, and shut the car door. We made our way inside the Logan Airport Express bus terminal, so he could buy his ticket. It was still 30 minutes before the 3:00 bus was due to depart, but the line was already quite long and boarding had begun. It was the 4th of July weekend, so this wasn’t really a surprise. My husband joined the queue and it wasn’t long before the driver took his suitcase and placed it in the hold. He moved towards the door and we said a quick goodbye. He was one of the last passengers to board, so things moved a bit more quickly than we had anticipated. I followed my husband’s outline as he made his way down the aisle to find a seat. If it wasn’t for his silvery hair, I wouldn’t have been able to make out which shadow was his in the window. We waved, the driver slammed the cargo hold shut, and boarded the bus himself

It was then that I became aware of the weight baring down on my left shoulder. HIS LAPTOP BAG! My heart began to race and I instantly broke out in an adrenaline-charged sweat. I ran for the door and banged loudly on the glass. The driver saw me, but then looked away, and made no attempt to open the door. HELP! I looked up and saw my husband running up the aisle to the front of the bus. He engaged the driver in conversation (heated, I later learned) and after a bit of a delay, the door finally opened and I handed my husband the bag. PHEW! My husband was flying to London later that evening to begin a week of research in the archives at Oxford University for a book he is working on. His laptop was absolutely essential. As the bus pulled away, my heart continued to pound, and I slowly returned to my car. I sat in numbed silence while the air conditioning brought my escalated body temperature gradually down, and my heart slowly recovered. As I sat there, unable to drive just yet, my mind replayed the near disastrous scenario over and over again, “Groundhog Day” style.  It then occurred to me that not only did the bag contain his computer, but it also held all of his travel documents and passport.

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Many thanks to the crew at  Two Writing Teachers, and the extended SOL community, for giving us the time, space, and encouragement to live the writerly life each Tuesday. Won’t you join us?

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Thomas Hardy #PoetryFriday

Note: Bear with me, dear reader. This post is about everything and nothing, darting about like a squirrel unable to make up its mind. If you know the book If You Give a Mouse a Cookie, you’ll get my train of thought. There it is. I’m owning it!

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When my husband and I take a trip, I can’t resist the opportunity to do a bit of research. “A bit” is probably an understatement! I dive head-first into reading and learning everything I can about our chosen destination — local history, customs, and, of course, any literary connections. While it was Tracy Chevalier’s Remarkable Creatures that inspired our upcoming trip to England’s Jurassic Coast, I couldn’t ignore the literary luminary from Dorset: Thomas Hardy.

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(photo credit: Encyclopedia Britannica)

I’ve adored Hardy novels for years. Who can resist Tess of the d’Urbervilles, Far From the Madding Crowd, or Jude the Obscure? It wasn’t until I began my sleuthing that I realized how much poetry Hardy had written. Hundreds of poems, in fact. How had I missed this? Hardy was a true Victorian, and his poetry is, well, brooding. You can read a bit about his life here. One poem, however, captured my imagination — The Roman Road.

 

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Photo © Christie Wyman, 2012

What I love about poetry is its openness to personal connection and interpretation. My connection to roman roads goes back to 2012, when I won a teacher fellowship to work on an archaeological dig at the Roman supply fort, Arbeia, near Hadrian’s Wall. When I wasn’t working on the dig site, I was off hiking along the wall, exploring it’s milecastles and forts, as well as nearby roman roads. Upon reading The Roman Road, I was instantly transported back to the summer when I was given the gift of a month to truly wonder and wander. As a child, Hardy’s imagination must have run wild as well, growing up around so much history.

The Roman Road

The Roman Road runs straight and bare
As the pale parting-line in hair
Across the heath. And thoughtful men
Contrast its days of Now and Then,
And delve, and measure, and compare;

Visioning on the vacant air
Helmed legionaries, who proudly rear
The Eagle, as they pace again
The Roman Road.

But no tall brass-helmed legionnaire
Haunts it for me. Uprises there
A mother’s form upon my ken,
Guiding my infant steps, as when
We walked that ancient thoroughfare,
The Roman Road.

So there you have it. A little Thomas Hardy on this Poetry Friday.

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Diane at Random Noodling is graciously hosting this week’s Poetry Friday. Why not join us there and spread some poetry love!

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