Thankful am I –

On this day of the feast

For family and friends

From the first to the least;

For furnace and farm

And all manner of life;

Brothers and cousins

Parents, children, and wife

For clouds in the sky

And the snow that they bring

For briers and thorns

And the birds on the wing.

Thankful I am –

For the schooling at work

That blesses the town

And the day in the kirk;

For country and God

And the graces bestowed;

For Jesus Himself

And the debt that is owed.

For all that I have

And each gift that I love

Is sent from the One

Mighty Father above.


Mall Performance Art?

As I awaited the return of my beloved Sharon from her shopping stops today, I sat in a mall-provided couch-type chair. Mostly I wrote, since my Kindle battery quietly insisted it need more charging. And that was okay, since that is something I long to do more. Indeed, I was able to complete the written expression of a memory of sorts I had begun a few nights back.

However, just about the time I completed the recording of my little musing, I noticed two people I assumed to be staff from the mall. One was more of a creative type, a lady, and the other was more of the official custodian of the place. Their work I observed, without seeming too obvious, and what I saw in their work, and what followed, could possibly be characterized as performance art. You know, artistic expression that involves passersby, and doesn’t just sit there on the wall for others to contemplate?

With my head in my journal book, I heard two people advance on the area in front of the bookstore, about ten feet between the store and my location on the chair. I looked up, and the woman had some materials in her hand. It turns out they were footsteps, of sort, or maybe I should say, they were shoe prints, for a large, or stout, man. The lady arranged the shoe print copies on the floor, and proceeded to take strides across them herself; I assume to ensure the pacing was correct. When the eight prints were deemed in the correct position, the custodian took a print, set it aside, and cleaned the mall floor only in that location with some sort of spray-bottle cleaner. Each print he handled in this way. Then, the creative person returned to the beginning of the line they had laid out, peeled off the backing of these over sized shoe prints, and affixed them to the floor in the spot previously cleaned. Each print she secured in this way.

Their work complete, they strode off “stage”. And then the onlookers engaged.  Two little girls, parting hands from their mother’s side at the couch beside my chair (we were in a grouping, apparently), stretched from print to print in a manner not unlike playing hot lava. Like jumping from one island to the next, they made it the entire course of steps before returning to mama. Adults reacted to these prints like a magnet, also, either stepping in stride, or avoiding the prints like one avoids a hot potato.  An older girl, talking on her cell phone, absent-mindedly strode through, matching her steps perfectly.

It turns out, so the story goes, these steps would be the boot marks of a messy Santa. By following the boot prints, one would find the way to the jolly elf (who looks nothing like Legolas, by the way) in order to secure a photo for a wary child. Ah well, it was entertaining to me, anyway.

Mall Performance Art?

(Shared) 50 Reasons Homeschooled Kids Love Being Homeschooled.

Found this on Facebook, but I thought it would be appropriate to share it here, since homeschooling experiences may, at times, figure into blog posts. As a homeschooling dad, I can say that PJ’s aren’t an option, but it was interesting to compare this list of collected responses with the comments I’ve heard from my own children.

From a teaching and administration standpoint, it might be wise to remember that public education in the United States as we now know it is something that right around 100 years old. In the history of education, even in these United States, a good education at the primary levels looked less like what we see today, and more like what homeschooling families experience. This is not to say that teachers in public education are bad people, nor that I regret all of my own public education. Having said that, I am thankful for the freedom and responsibility for homeschooling.

(Shared) 50 Reasons Homeschooled Kids Love Being Homeschooled.

Telling True Stories – A Review

Earlier this week, I finished reading “Telling True Stories”, edited by Mark Kramer and Wendy Call (Plume, 2007, ISBN 978-0-452-28755-6). This is another writing book that I’m certain that I will read again, both in parts and the whole. I have others on my shelf that evoke similar sentiments, of course, but this book particularly strikes me in several ways. It is focused on nonfiction writing, yet it ignores neither narrative nor poetry. Indeed, the various writers praise both story and “song” as a way to enhance nonfiction writing. Also, the book includes original contributions by many (more than 50) authors, some familiar and some obscure. This tapestry of experience has produced a delightful and multi-faceted creation. Many of these authors, whether drawing upon their own work, or well-known works of others, show vivid examples that made me think, “Aha, and now I see”. In other cases, I thought, “Hmmm. Now, I would never have made that connection on my own.”

Still others provided enough tease that I decided to purchase or borrow one of their books. David Halberstam is one of those authors. He wrote a book entitled “The Teammates” about baseball legends Dominic DiMaggio, John Pesky, and Ted Williams, of the Boston Red Sox. Fascinating stuff this was. I love baseball, anyway, though I don’t follow it much these days. The story was so well written, though, I had a hard time putting it down.

This book includes additional value in the little things. Various sidebars are scattered throughout the book, including one on “The Ladder of Abstraction”, one panel discussion on interviewing techniques entitled “To tape or Not to Tape”, and another entitled “A Storyteller’s Lexicon”. The book also includes a list of website resources, a thorough index,  one-paragraph biographical sketches of all the contributors, and a suggested reading list that goes beyond a simple bibliography and is keyed to those contributors.

Section titles include, “An Invitation to Narrative”; “Finding, Researching, and Reporting Topics”; “Name Your Subgenre”; “Constructing a Structure”; “Building Quality into the Work”; “Ethics”; “Editing”; “Narrative in the News Organization”; and “Building a Career in Magazines and Books”.

Great stuff. It took me a whole year to read it and digest it. It was well worth the time. Even though I don’t recall where I bought this book, or how much I paid, definitely I would say it has been worth the money. You will enjoy it, too, dear reader.


Telling True Stories – A Review

Derek Walcott on style

In  Telling True Stories, edited by Mark Kramer and Wendy Call (Plume, c2007), Emily Hiestand says this, on page 199:

“The poet Derek Walcott tells students that their language should be clear as water and so complete that readers can detect the  weather  of the poem.”

I really like that, for it is memorable. It will stick in me like cockleburrs on a poodle.

Derek Walcott on style


I like Goodreads. I’ve been using it for awhile on my phone, and I sign in using my Facebook ID. Now, I like it even more. For some time now, I wanted to have a currently reading spot on my blog, but the last time I checked, nothing was available. If I went to TypePad, I could have it there, apparently. Dan Eads has it there. Now, I can. Just look at my sidebar.  (To look at my sidebar, click on the ≡ character in the upper right corner of this blog’s page.) Also on my sidebar is a blog roll and a few other options.


Remember to Vote!

I plan to vote this morning, as soon as the polls open. That way, if I get a trouble call during normal work hours, or after work, I won’t have to miss the opportunity and incredible privilege of voting.  I hope all of you readers that are United States citizens and are eligible to vote will do so.

This link (for Minnesota residents) has an added feature, after you enter your address information also shows ballot initiatives and a sample ballot. Both the box above and Minnesota link give information about polling place location and names on the ballot.