Featherbed

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Gratitude List:
1. A field of smiling yellow sunflowers shining through the fog of a rainy morning.
2. Featherbed. Two nights ago, I couldn’t sleep for a while because I was shivering so badly. The weather change hit me hard (not complaining, though!). Last night I pulled the featherbed down from the cupboard, and I was warm and cozy. Makes me want to sing this: John McCutcheon singing “Featherbed”
3. When a new idea for a classroom activity gets them buzzing and collaborating without any pressure or pushing from me. This is not always the case. In fact, it is often enough NOT the case that when it happens, it still feels like magic. AND this one meets the goals of the unit perfectly. Win-win.
4. My classroom. I like this space. I loved the coolness of the science aerie up there on the third floor of Rutt during the heat wave, but I have created this space to be somewhere that I want to host groups of students throughout the day, somewhere that we WANT to be, and it’s nice to be here with a cool breeze blowing in the windows. I missed it.
5. Color, texture, hue, harmony, blending, Beauty.

May we walk in that Beauty!


“We cannot live in a world that is not our own, in a world that is interpreted for us by others. An interpreted world is not a home. Part of the terror is to take back our own listening, to use our own voice, to see our own light.” ―Hildegard of Bingen
*****
“Beneath our clothes, our reputations, our pretensions,
beneath our religion or lack of it,
we are all vulnerable both to the storm without
and to the storm within.” ―Frederick Buechner
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“The vulnerability of precious things is beautiful because vulnerability is a mark of existence.” ―Simone Weil
*****
Here is how we make the world:
I will say fire and mean wisdom.
I will say wisteria and mean my thoughts are tangled.
I will say the river is flowing and mean that time is passing.
I will say grandmother’s quilt and mean that the work is love.
I will say house and mean your heart.
I will say spiderweb and mean the prayers are holding you.
I will say the eagle flies and mean my thoughts are with you.
I will say the daffodils are blooming and mean you are healing.
I will say song and mean dream.
I will say dream and mean prayer.
I will say prayer and mean poem.
―Beth Weaver-Kreider
*****
“When an elder dies, a library burns.” ―African proverb
*****
“How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.” ―Anne Frank
*****
“But how could you live and have no story to tell?” ―Fyodor Dostoyevsky

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Rain

Gratitude List:
1. The Women’s Trio this morning at church. Blending of voices, colors, textures, rhythms.
2. Feeling the bass rumbling through the back of the pew.
3. Rain: Making it not-hot
4. Rain: I get to walk around with my cheery yellow duck-headed umbrella
5. Rain: Lying on my parents’ couch, wrapped in Uncle Henry’s red-violet blanket, watching the rain and listening to the murmuring and laughter between my parents and my children in the garage.

May we walk in Beauty! (And may all your basements stay dry!)

Claiming Space


Gratitude List:
1. Time with friends
2. Pizza on the grill
3. New shelves in the classroom. I’m starting my fifth year here, and I finally feel like I am filling my space–giving away books that I won’t use, taking the time to organize my shelves in a logical way. I almost can’t wait to get back to teaching!
4. Cooler weather
5. Pewee calling from the chestnut tree

May we walk in Beauty!


Thursday’s Thoughts:
Marc Chagall: “In life there is a single color, it is the color of love.”
***
“Try this:
Sit in a circle at dusk with people you love.
Let it be when the swifts are flying.
Let there be a catbird with a whiskery voice in a spruce tree.
Speak your stories into the bowl of the space between you:
stories like a rich meal, the bitter, the savory, the sweet.
Let it get dark. The darkness will listen, too.
You can hear people listening when you speak in the dark.
You may light a candle if you have a candle.
Laugh together. Cry.
Let there be occasional questions,
occasional grunts, occasional exclamations of oh-I-hear-that!
Make a meal of the stories before you,
and eat your fill. Be nourished.
Be together in your stories.
Know that all these stories are your story, too.
Let there be a benediction,
words sung or spoken into the full dark,
accompanied by the chittering of bats,
good words to keep you always
in this circle where you belong.”
—Beth Weaver-Kreider
***
Thursday’s Quotes:
“Each of us faces a time when the holy well within needs tending. When we’re no longer able to bestow blessings on others because we’ve overgiven, or when something precious has been taken from us, or life’s demands are too great on our fragile system. But when the moisture goes out of our lives, and we’re no longer able to see beauty or converse with magic, we must ask ourselves how we can replenish our well-ness.” —Dreamwork with Toko-pa
***
“We are not to simply bandage the wounds of victims beneath the wheels of injustice, we are to drive a spoke into the wheel itself.” —Dietrich Bonhoeffer
***
“We never belonged to you. / You never found us. / It was always the other way round.” —Margaret Atwood
***
“Would you like to have an adventure now, or would you like your tea first?” —JM Barrie
***
“There is no agony like bearing an untold story inside you.” —Zora Neale Hurston
***
“. . .The knowledge of the heart is in no book and is not to be found in the mouth of any teacher, but grows out of you like the green seed from the dark earth…” —Carl Jung
***
“Listen. . .with the ear of your heart.” —The Rule of St. Benedict
***
“One child, one teacher, one book, and one pen can change the world.” —Malala Yousufzai
***
“It’s always the beginning of the world.

“Even if you don’t call yourself an artist, you have the potential to be a dynamic creator who is always hatching new plans, coming up with fresh ideas, and shifting your approach to everything you do as you adjust to life’s ceaseless invitation to change.

“It’s to this part of you—the restless, inventive spirit—that I address the following: Unleash yourself! Don’t be satisfied with the world the way it is; don’t sit back passively and blankly complain about the dead weight of the mediocre status quo.

“Instead, call on your curiosity and charisma and expressiveness and lust for life as you tinker with and rebuild everything you see so that it’s in greater harmony with the laws of love and more hospitable to your soul’s code.” —Rob Brezsny

Keep Pushing


Not intending to be maudlin here. I don’t know quite why the carvings of skull wings on 17th century gravestones is so fascinating to me.

Gratitude List:
1. Doing things. Channeling the unsettledness into working for change. Keep up the writing and calling, folks. Keep your Senators’ and Representatives’ feet to the fire. Demand that they be fully informed of the truth of what is happening. Send them the images and the videos and the news reports. Require them to respond.
2. Hours of professional development this afternoon with a colleague who just retired, and in passing on two challenging but fun classes to me.
3. Listening to a Terry Pratchett novel. I love reading the Tiffany Aching books, but to really get the accents right, you can’t beat an audiobook. I’m listening to Hatful of Sky. Really disappointed I couldn’t find Wee Free Men.
4. Butterflies
5. Colorful stones. I am oiling the collection of stones I found on Race Point Beach. It’s taking a while because I am soaking them for hours in the oil before polishing them. They come out with slightly matte colors compared to the brilliance of being in water, but the colors are definitely brighter than the dry ones.

May we walk in Beauty!


Quotes for the Day:
“I do not understand the mystery of grace — only that it meets us where we are and does not leave us where it found us.” ―Anne Lamott
***
“[E]ducation is not just about utilizing a particular curriculum, or ensuring that critical reflection in a community follows a particular formula. It is full of intangible and random events. It is not just taught in the classroom, but lived in the midst of the community in ways that are not even fully quantifiable.” ―M.S. Bickford on the educational theories of John Westerhoff
***
“The trouble with trouble is, it starts out as fun.” ―Anonymous
***
“One of the few things I know about writing is this: spend it all, shoot it, play it, lose it, all, right away, every time. . .give it, give it all, give it now.”
—Annie Dillard
***
“You can tell people of the need to struggle, but when the powerless start to see that they really can make a difference, nothing can quench the fire.”
—Leymah Gbowee
***
“There are opportunities even in the most difficult moments.” —Wangari Maathai
***
“Throughout my life, I have never stopped to strategize about my next steps. I often just keep walking along, through whichever door opens. I have been on a journey and this journey has never stopped. When the journey is acknowledged and sustained by those I work with, they are a source of inspiration, energy and encouragement. They are the reasons I kept walking, and will keep walking, as long as my knees hold out.”
—Wangari Maathai
***
“If you do follow your bliss you put yourself on a kind of track that has been there all the while, waiting for you, and the life that you ought to be living is the one you are living. Follow your bliss and don’t be afraid, and doors will open where you didn’t know they were going to be.”
—Joseph Campbell
***
“I’m a Zen Buddhist if I would describe myself. I don’t think about what I do. I do it. That’s Buddhism. I jump off the cliff and build my wings on the way down.”
—Ray Bradbury

Ride the Wave


Today’s prompt is to write a poem titled __________ Wave.

Ride the Wave

If you watch closely
as it approaches
you can begin to feel
the energy enter your body
before the water
even takes shape.

Enter the sound and the color
before the matter engages you.

And suddenly you are part of it,
caught in the song of it,
bound in the curve and the crash
and the pull of the wave.


Gratitude List:
1. Speedwell and dandelion and grape hyacinth and violet and deadnettle. The little quiet beauties that catch your eye when you’re least expecting it. “Wake up now,” they say.
2. Spring in the air
3. People who put their souls and hearts into what they do. Art that is more than technical perfection, but is a reflection of humanity.
4. Getting some of the work done. Not nearly enough. But some. The load begins to lift.
5. Blooming. Flowers, children, teenagers, relationships, work, ideas.

May we walk in Beauty!

Bring Forth What is Within You

“Women, if the soul of the nation is to be saved, I believe that you must become its soul.” —Coretta Scott King
***
“If you bring forth what is within you, what is within you will save you. If you do not bring forth what is within you, what is within you will destroy you.” —Gospel of Thomas
***
“If a child is to keep alive [her] inborn sense of wonder, [she] needs the companionship of at least one adult who can share it, rediscovering with [her] the joy, excitement, and mystery of the world we live in.”
—Rachel Carson
***
“The ultimate measure of a person is not where [he/she] stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where [she/he] stands at times of challenge and controversy.” —Martin Luther King, Jr.
***
“The weight of the world is love.
Under the burden of solitude,
under the burden of dissatisfaction
the weight, the weight we carry is love.”
—Allen Ginsberg
***
“What have you done for color?”
—Henri Matisse
***
“Beauty is whatever gives joy.”
—Edna St. Vincent Millay
***
“In every outthrust headland, in every curving beach, in every grain of sand there is the story of the earth.” —Rachel Carson
***
“waging peace
with tender ferocity
and ingenious empathy
and wild compassion”
—Rob Brezsny
***
Have you caught the rustle of wings
as the train rushes through,
hardly slowly to stop at the station?
Have you felt the breath in your ear
as the quiet sun leaps from the ridge
and touches your face like a lover?
Have you noticed the shadow that darts
just at the edge of your vision
as the river flows with purpose
under your ancient bridge?
And suddenly, before you–
before you can take another breath,
the madness is upon you,
the craving has taken you,
the pen is in your hand,
the words glow and bleed
beneath your fingers.
—Beth Weaver-Kreider
***
“Dreams make the inner life substantial, giving it dimensionality, colour and form. Ritual is the further enfleshment of the unseen; a way of feeding that which is nourishing you so that your living conversation with the holy in nature grows in strength and vocabulary.” —Dreamwork with Toko-pa


Gratitude List:
1. Snow sure is pretty
2. By hook or by crook, I am ready for the new semester to start today. Now if only I can find a few hours to finish up last semester’s grading. . .
3. I’m getting a whiteboard in my room, which will be nice and easy. I will, however, miss the beauty of chalk work. I’m a secret chalk artist, and I do love to leave little drawings on my board. But the surface was really rapidly wearing away. The other sad thing is that one of my own high school memories of this room is of walking into the classroom and seeing the same green chalkboard filled with Mrs. Banks’s neat and beautiful cursive notes. There were some of us who sought to emulate her handwriting. The more notes, the better–we got more practice copying the beauty.
4. The way you can’t keep a group of English Teachers on a focused conversation because everything comes back to grammar and pedagogy.
5. Chocolate. You know how it helps Harry Potter recover from the dementor attacks? Yeah.

May we walk in Beauty!

Dial Up the Magic


Today’s prompt is to write a ______ if ______ poem. His examples all filled the blanks with longish phrases, but this came to me:

If I sleep I will speak
Speak if I sing
Sing if I breathe
Breathe if I wait
Wait if I weep
Weep if I dream
Dream if I sleep.

 


(For some reason, the quotations from last year on this day all seem to be intended to comfort myself from some great sorrow)

” ‘They kept going, because they were holding onto something.’
‘What are we holding onto, Sam?’
‘There’s still good in this world, Mr. Frodo. And it’s worth fighting for.’ ”
—J. R. R. Tolkien
*
“Somewhere deep in the forest of grief
there is a waterfall where all your tears may flow
over mossy rocks, under watchful pines.”
—Beth Weaver-Kreider
*
“But this moment, you’re alive. So you can just dial up the magic of that at any time.” —Joanna Macy
*
“Always be on the lookout for the presence of wonder.” —E. B. White
*
“Love imperfectly. Be a love idiot. Let yourself forget any love ideal.” —Sark
*
“Everything I understand, I understand only because I love. Everything exists, only because I love.” —Leo Tolstoy
*
“Love is everything it’s cracked up to be. It really is worth fighting for, being brave for, risking everything for. And the trouble is, if you don’t risk everything, you risk even more.” —Erica Jong
*
“Fall in love over and over again every day. Love your family, your neighbors, your enemies, and yourself. And don’t stop with humans. Love animals, plants, stones, even galaxies.” —Frederic and Mary Ann Brussa
*
“For small creatures such as we, the vastness is bearable only through love.”
—Carl Sagan
*
“There are certain things, often very little things, like the little peanut, the little piece of clay, the little flower that cause you to look WITHIN – and then it is that you see the soul of things.”
—George Washington Carver


Gratitude List:
1. The way the large flocks of little birds line the electric lines when the pause to take a rest in their migrations, making the lines look furry
2. The way the color just keeps coming, keeps deepening, keeps astounding
3. The way the year has turned, from despair and rage to a kind of hope
4. The way the Open Secrets of Hollywood and Political Power are being blasted open so that powerful men can no longer hide their predations
5. Kale with dried tomatoes for supper

May we walk in Beauty!

That Ancient Song

“Our indigenous voice is that ancient song which emanates from our gratitude. It knows no such construct as comparison or exclusion because it is devotional. It sings to keep the stars in the sky and the moon rising in its arc across the night. It sings to all the helpful conditions that are enabling our well-being in every given moment and it recognizes itself as an essential note in that great choir of being.” —Dreamwork with Toko-pa
*
“We owe it to ourselves and to the next generation to conserve the environment so that we can bequeath our children a sustainable world that benefits all.” —Wangari Maathai
*
Sometimes we have a strong sense of what our destiny is calling us to do, but we don’t feel quite ready or brave enough to answer the call. We need a push, an intervention, a serendipitous stroke—what you might call “fate bait.”

It’s a person or event that awakens our dormant willpower and draws us inexorably toward our necessary destiny; it’s a thunderbolt or siren song or stage whisper that gives us a good excuse to go do what we know we should do.

Do you have any ideas about how to put yourself in the vicinity of your fate bait?”
—Rob Brezsny
*
“And death, when he comes
to the door with his own
inimitable calling card
shall find a homestead
resurrected with laughter and dance
and the festival of the meat
of the young lamb and the red porridge
of the new corn”
—Kofi Awoonor


Gratitude List:
1. Magenta
2. Cerulean
3. Viridian
4. Gold
5. Violet

May we walk in Beauty!

Bedevilment

Today in Creative Writing, we did a fun bit of wordplay from the website Writing ForwardYou make lists of a dozen or so nouns, adjectives, and adverbs. Then you make a list of prefixes/suffixes. Using your lists, you add prefixes and suffixes to some of your nouns in order to create words of your own. Then you make up new compound words, use nouns as verbs and adjectives as adverbs–all to experiment with using language in different ways.  Today’s poem, using the prompt of bedevilment, comes out of that writing experience.

I have dungeoned my wonder,
enshaded my joy,
chaining myself in the ragecage
I made for my shadowling.

Addicted to fury,
I fought fear with burning,
teethful in reaction,
and wasting my flame.

When you make a rope of curses,
you catch your own head in the loop.

TOMORROW’S PROMPT:
The tower. It may have begun as the Tower of Rapunzel, where her witch-mother kept her waiting. It may have been a fortress, strong and impenetrable, or a solitary place of retreat. But this tower is falling, burning, lightning-struck, and the Fool is falling, falling. To understand the lightning-struck tower, it may be necessary to remember the journey the Fool has taken from learning temperance to the experience of bedevilment and addiction. We find our balance, and then we fail, and so we are thrown off-balance again, and need to find a new grounding. The experience of falling from the Tower is about losing your attachment to your ego. The Fool has to learn that she cannot be completely in control.

Gratitude List:
1. The misty fogginess in the hollow as dusk fell. It felt like a fairy tale world.
2. The way rain brings out the deepness of the colors.
3. Kreutz Creek Library Book Sale
4. Mandalas
5. Kindnesses. Today, standing in the hallway, I watched one of my students who sometimes seems a little isolated by his extreme shyness. He was walking quietly through the crowd in the hall, head down, and another kid saw him and just reached out and bumped him on the shoulder and grinned at him, noticing him. The shy boy smiled back. It might seem like a small, almost unremarkable kindness, but I think it was really actually pretty huge for the shy one. That’s the kind of people these young folk are. I know that my school is not perfect, and that unkind words and bullying occur, but more than that I am aware of kindnesses, of thoughtfulness.

May we walk in Beauty!

Taking the Measure

imag2382November hosta

Tomorrow, in mid-afternoon, we are invited to join the Water Protectors at Standing Rock to pray and meditate. I will pray for their safety, for the success of their cause. I will pray with thanksgiving for the work that they have done and are doing, in gratitude for their fearlessness and resolve. I will pray for the continuation of the movement. I will pray that the hearts of those who must hear will be softened, and that the people who have the power to protect them and their lands and waters will have the courage and wisdom to do the right thing.  Join me?

Today’s Poetry Prompt is to write a tape poem.

Taking the Measure
by Beth Weaver-Kreider

Along the top of the green shelf my father made when we moved here,
I’ve lined the three jars of herbs the demolition crew found in the wall
of my grandmother’s house, a rambling old Victorian taken down
the month after we bought this place in the hills west of the River.

My great-grandmother’s butter paddle, an ancient pair of reading glasses,
an onyx vase from India full of goose feathers from the pond
near my parents’ house where the children like to look for baby swans,
and a tall, thin ebony carving of a Maasai warrior in a beaded skirt.

Coiling around and through them all, like a frayed yellow snake,
my mother’s mother’s tape measure, which used to wrap around a waist
or along a length of hem to perfect her stitching and mending,
now takes the measure of the memories I’ve collected.

Gratitude List:
1. Senses. Color, hue, and texture–in sight and sound and smell, in taste and touch. How being human is a constant exploration of the complexity of senses. The more I pay attention to color, the more color I see. The more I notice scent and aroma, the more fully I am able to distinguish the subtle shifts and changes in the smells around me. The more carefully I listen, the more easily I can begin to sense changes in the temperature and color of sound. I love this business of being in a body.
2. All those handsome and thoughtful raptor youngsters standing sentinel on posts and poles along the highway today.
3. Crowdsourcing. Whether it’s where to buy local goat meat, how to handle the post-Downton Abbey blues, what poem to read to my classes, or what to do about a flagging Prius battery, I’ve gotten very helpful advice from my friends on social media. We saved ourselves from making a potentially very expensive bad choice by researching the Prius battery situation with friends on Facebook.
4. Sam at Sams Auto. We sent him a Facebook message the night before Thanksgiving, and he responded in five minutes. He is a real expert on the Prius, and perhaps a little obsessed. We are in good hands, and we should finally have our car home a driveable by Tuesday.
5. Reason. Clear logic. But also emotional intelligence. Heart logic. Gut reasoning. Intuitive intelligence. Wise instinct.

May we walk in Beauty!