Saturday, September 28, 2013

Fulfilling a dream

     I don't have a bucket list, but there are things I'd like to try that I daydream about having and then sometimes forget that I want.  Last spring I put a weaving loom on my wish list, but had to wait till now for that to happen.
  Once I saw a home with a room just for weaving and thought that would be so cool.  I only have a small beginner's loom and it looks intimidating! I am determined to follow through with this to have a challenging new hobby and try different yarns to make scarves and wall hangings.  I will work my way up to a room size loom...

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Praying Mantis

    It has not even been a month since school started but it seems like I cannot remember life before that.  It has consumed me this year, more than others, probably because of the move across town and many other reasons.
    Friday afternoon I had to leave school to drive directly to a Cross Country Meet that our school was hosting.  It was a beautiful afternoon, but I was tired and my feet hurt.  I would have liked nothing more than to go home and put my feet up and relax on the porch.
  We got our instructions and headed over to our assigned posts.  I was to point the runners to a specific destination when they ran out of the woods.
  I was beginning to enjoy all the different shades of green of the woods when I saw two of my students and their younger siblings making their way across the field.  They had found a praying mantis and they were coming to show me their find.
   This...this is what makes it all worthwhile.  Their delighted faces, flushed red with exertion and excitement, the fact that it was after school, but they wanted to make the connection.  They knew I would be interested and I was.
   The praying mantis will become a symbol of this for me: to remember one of the reasons I do this and what makes it so rewarding.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Using The Franchise Affair as a template for my story

      It was four thirty in the afternoon on a warm summer afternoon and Kasni  Vittuli was thinking about calling it a day.
     She was supposed to work on her writing until five o’clock, but being an author she was her own boss and could make her own hours.  When you write in an old garden shed behind your home, it doesn’t take long for the commute home.
     She sat there enjoying a slight breeze wafting in through the screen door of the shed, staring at a vase of wildflowers that sat on her desk, gathering up the energy to make the trek up to the house.  As her eyes rested on her unfinished manuscript, she felt a pang of guilt for stopping early.  She knew she had a deadline and it had to be finished by the beginning of September.  Yet, when the storyline was based on her own life, it was hard to relive all of those experiences day after day, even though she was tweaking the facts and changing scenes to make that fact less recognizable.
     Why had she thought this a good idea, to base the novel on the happenings of her life?  It hadn’t been easy to live through the events in the first place, why would she want to rehash the painful memories that lingered long afterward?
     She pushed back her chair and stood up, going over to the screen door to look out over the yard leading to the house.  The lawn stretched lush and green up to the gardens that surrounded the house, with wildflowers and roses tangling amongst the shrubs and bushes.  She made an effort to begin closing the windows, but paused as the phone began to ring.  She hesitated a moment, wondering if she should just let the machine pick up, but then picked it up and answered.
“Kasni?” a somewhat familiar male voice responded to her greeting.  Her heart beat faster at the sound of his voice, but no, it couldn’t be, not after all of this time.
“Garan?” she questioned softly, “Garan Karl?”
“Kasni, I’m in trouble. Can you help me?”
“What is it?  What has happened?”
“They put me in rehab.  I’m going crazy here.  I need to get out of here or I’ll lose my mind.”
“Garan, if you are in rehab it’s because it is what is best for you.  I don’t want to interfere with that.”
“Kasni, I thought you would understand how this is.  You are the only one who ever understood me.”  His voice relayed his desperation, and sounded nothing like the confident Garan of old.
“ I don’t know about that, Garan.  I’ve never understood drug use.”
“You would’ve never done this to me.  Come and get me!”  Suddenly the call was terminated and she was left listening to the dial tone.  She had no intention of getting involved with him again, especially in this situation.  But the afternoon had suddenly changed, the sunshine darkened somehow, and her comfortable life disturbed from this call out of the past.  Perhaps that was what she deserved for dabbling in the past in her writing.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Cloud to Cloud Lightning

     I was in the bedroom reading before I fell asleep when my husband came in and said, "Come and see the lightning show to the south."  I actually glanced at the window to the north, hoping I could somehow see it from there and return to my book.  My love of reading is that obsessive, I have to make a conscious decision whether reality is worth laying my book down.  I decided it was and went out on the porch to take a look.
      The strong breeze of the early evening had dissipated;  it was warm and still in that crepuscular time before the darkness sets in.  The lightning was jumping from cloud to cloud across the entire southern sky, sometimes just lighting up a cloud from behind, sometimes crackling so fast it was hard to even capture the memory of it.  The lightning show continued for at least half an hour, with only the sound of crickets and an occasional swish of traffic as accompaniment.  It was spectacular.  I returned to the bedroom, turned my book over, switched off the light, and went to sleep.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

The Sound of Crickets

    The sound of crickets reminds me of late summer in childhood.  Right before we had to go back to school, play became more important because we knew there was an end in sight.  We would stay out in the dusk till the last possible moment, but always the cricket's chirp was a reminder that it was late summer, and school was just days away.  My mother would be in the steamy kitchen canning peaches or other summer fruits, and somehow we got away with staying out late playing tag with the neighborhood children.  We really wouldn't have time to spend with them freely again until the next summer, and by then a whole year at school would have changed us all.
  Since today's cricket is chirping in the morning... it brings to mind my red plaid lunch box, crisp cool mornings of the first school days, apprehension about the new school year to come.  As E B White says in Charlotte's Web, for adults the crickets song is a reminder that summer is over and gone.   The vegetables are ripe, the annual plants looking a little worse for wear...time to get down to business.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Holding On and Letting Go

     All the stages of life require change to grow, but some are more painful than others.  Even though the years my kids were dependent on me were insanely busy, it is what I loved to do.  I knew that it was time for my daughter to move on and spread her wings when she went off to college.  There was just that sense that she needed something more in her life than what we could give her by keeping her here.  I was fine with it, and she was happy and excited in her new life as we drove away.  Her brothers were busy in high school football, so when I would come home from school no one was there.  No one really needed me anymore.  There was no one to "mother".  This was a huge blow that I didn't see coming for some reason.  The need to be needed was something that had become so much a part of me I was lost.
    It took some time and some help from others to adjust to the new life of independence, for me!  Now I have to relearn it all again every year when they leave after being here in the summer.  I rejoice that there will be less dirty dishes, clutter I didn't leave, and piles of laundry, but grieve because of the silence and the loss of their presence in our home.  I rejoice at the exciting new things in their lives and know that this is truly living, to let them pursue their dreams, always knowing we are here for them if they need us.
     This song by Ross Copperman expresses it well: Holding On and Letting Go...

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Mediterranean Dreams

     Kasni arrived in the  Mediterranean with a sigh of relief.  It would be heavenly to get up in the morning and look out over the sparkling waters of the sea and feel the warm scented breeze.

She planned to have breakfast on the warm stone patio, and then go to an open market and buy fresh fruits and vegetables to make a healthy lunch.

She would try to spend every day outdoors exploring, or relaxing with a good book on the patio.
When she had unpacked she went out to explore.  There were beautiful red flowers growing along the rocky shore.  She took a deep breath of the crisp, fresh air.  "Things are going to be different from here on in.  I am determined to make it so," she mused.
   After lunch she made good on her resolution to spend the day outdoors by hiking the rocky hillsides.
When she got to the summit there was a wonderful view of the isle of Crete stretching before her as far as her eyes could see.  There were olive green groves interspersed with rocky cliffs against the most beautiful hazy blue sky.   Two lonely sheep were her only companions.  Here, for a time, she could find peace and contentment.

At dusk she headed towards town to the cobbled roads to see what everyone else was doing.  The street lights were lit so she could see the boats bobbing gently against the shore in the harbor. The beauty of it all took her breath away.  As she walked down the street the architecture intrigued her. Her old life seemed distant and far away in her memory.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Things I Would Never Put in a Poem- For Teachers Write

The Smell of Garbage
Bird droppings
exhaust fumes
mean math teachers
scornful people
bad hair day
dead plants
grass clippings
compost pile

Things I Would Never Put in a Poem or Story-now put in a poem or a story.  So much fun!
I could tell what kind of day this was going to be as I drove into town, the exhaust fumes of the traffic lingering in the humid air.  My hair had been perfect when I left the house, but soon reverted into its natural frizzy state as the moist air took its toll.  Not only would it be my first stressful day at school, it would also be a bad hair day, which made me grumpy before I even got there.

I remember with fondness
the day I was lying in the sun
on a pier at a lake resort
when suddenly a bird
sent a dropping my way.
Without missing a beat
my dad said "Bullseye"
as the droppings hit
a strategic target.
His quirky humor
has been passed on.
When I was young
I had a mean math teacher
who made me feel very small
and insignificant as well as
This inspired me to be the kind of teacher
that will never make students feel this way.
I try to be infinitely patient
when they don't understand
a concept.
Scornful people and
can help us see what not to be
and make us better people than
we might have been without them.
After mowing the lawn
I happily sprinkle the
grass clippings on
top of the dead plants
in the compost pile
knowing that they will decompose
and go back into the beauty of nature.
The smell of garbage reminds me
that things are breaking down
nurturing the earth below it,
turning it into rich crumbly humus
to replenish the soil.

The smell of garbage
brings a reminder of the day
 I read the letter telling me
you were leaving me.
The memories of our time together
buzz around my mind
like flies attracted to refuse.
My thoughts of you are withered, dead plants
to be added to the compost pile
to decompose along with the
grass clippings of the love I had for you.
All that we had together
breaking down to decay.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Sensory Writing Prompt for Thursday Quick Write

Kristina Paustian
Posted July 18, 2013 at 7:04 am | Permalink
The water laps rhythmically against the aged wooden pier. The waves echo as they gently push against the boat launch.
The breeze is warm and humid as it brushes the water. It is a slight relief from the surrounding muggy air but it brings along a fishy odor.
Across the lake there are tree-covered hills, lush and emerald green with a light mist hovering over the hills in the distance. There is an old white farmhouse and barn tucked into the hills, with farmland running right up to the river’s edge where it intermingles with the lake waters.
Around the curve of the land past the old white farmhouse is the Wisconsin River with glistening white sandbars and rugged bluffs that swallows nest in.
There is only one boat on the entire lake at this moment, its motor muffled by the distance between us. A fish leaping for its insect breakfast it splashes as it re-enters the water. The only other sound is bird song and the waves rippling to the shore.
  • Posted July 18, 2013 at 8:09 am | Permalink
    For me this is such a peaceful scene. I can picture myself there seeing and hearing the same things.
  • Posted July 18, 2013 at 8:48 am | Permalink
    Nice description of a beautiful setting. You have taken me there.
  • Posted July 18, 2013 at 10:50 am | Permalink
    I love the verbs that you’re using here: “laps”, “echo”,”tucked”,”Leaping” –so vivid; they bring this to life. Great job!

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

The Essence of What We Once Were

 “All grown-ups were once children... but only few of them remember it.”  Antoine de Saint-ExupĂ©ry, author of "The Little Prince"   
     As we mature and life changes us, I think we can begin to forget who we were as children and morph into adults we never planned on being.  I try to remind myself of things that I loved as a child and return to the simple joys of reading, writing, sketching, playing the piano, baking treats, and yes, even weeding the garden to retain the person I once was.  It is good to be reminded of childhood, especially when working with children, not to expect more of them that we were ourselves, and to encourage the joys we experienced growing up.
     I have noticed recently how some people I grew up with and really enjoyed turned into completely different people as adults, one can hardly recognize who they were in their youth.  How and when do we become the people we never thought we would be?  I'm thinking that it is a gradual insidious process that no one could really place their finger on to say "There, that is when you became someone else."
     How can we see ourselves as others see us?  If I look at myself in many ways I am still  as insecure and sensitive I have always been, but I have grown more confident through experiences as a teacher.
   We are at best complicated and complex people of many layers.  I have seen my own children grow and mature and change for the better.  I hope they never change completely and always retain the essence of what they once were.

     We measured the personalities, values, and preferences of more than 19,000 people who ranged in age from 18 to 68 and asked them to report how much they had changed in the past decade and/or to predict how much they would change in the next decade. Young people, middle-aged people, and older people all believed they had changed a lot in the past but would change relatively little in the future. People, it seems, regard the present as a watershed moment at which they have finally become the person they will be for the rest of their lives. This “end of history illusion” had practical consequences, leading people to overpay for future opportunities to indulge their current preferences.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Pewit's Nest for Teachers Write

Kristina Paustian
Posted July 16, 2013 at 7:02 am | Permalink
I wrote this last week as we hiked in this place and I was focusing on all the colors, but got some acoustics in…
Pewit’s Nest is a deep gorge of layered rock that appears seemingly out of nowhere between two farmer’s fields of corn. It is shaded and cool with plants of every shade of green imaginable: verdant vines clinging to the trees, moss growing on the sides of damp rocks, the pine green of the evergreen trees swaying in the breeze above, the jaded shade of the maple leaf, the olive green of the oak leaves, lime green of the succulent plants clinging to the shore. It is hard to pick out the sound of the waterfall from the sound of the breeze lightly rustling the branches above our head. A pine tree so aged that the bark resembles that of a cottonwood tree stretches towards the sky. The edge of the gorge is cool with the forest shading the rocks with dappled light. The scent of pine is strong as we crunch the pine needles underfoot. The buzzing of insects is the only sound disturbing the peace of this beautiful place.
  • Ericka
    Posted July 16, 2013 at 8:17 am | Permalink
    Kristina, I felt like I was on that hike with you – lovely!
  • Posted July 16, 2013 at 11:48 am | Permalink
    This sounds like the perfect place for a hike! Nicely done!
  • Posted July 16, 2013 at 4:01 pm | Permalink
    I want to be there! You’ve described it as such a peaceful place. Great sensory details. I love all the references to “green.”
  • DebKrygeris
    Posted July 16, 2013 at 6:17 pm | Permalink
    Wow, great descriptive writing! I visualized and heard your scene so clearly!