Archives for the month of: September, 2012

Readying to settle into a book,
First, I set my eyes upon the canvas of the day.
I perch my chin in my hands and look—another glorious page
from Nature’s sketch book, cross hatchings
fine as feathers across the page
forming into bursting rays of light that reach up to its source.

Three dragonflies hover,
suspending themselves on the length of the breeze;
they glide into the small force of gravity.

It’s the ocean out there in that splendid sky of blue silk
and white linen wrapped in tinkling bells chiming in the warmest
of winds and the copper glint of light as it bounces
from the wings of the largest dragonfly. He gracefully
makes his way across this most wonderful and natural work of art.

It’s been a while since I’ve let my thoughts spill out onto the page. I’ve continued to write in my private journals and there have been days when I had much to say and then others where I feel as if I’m a small well that has damned itself up somehow. I know that I cannot live in the past. I can visit, but I can only push forward and live in the present.

Where was I…my thoughts…this morning my thoughts are knocking around inside some sort of cage, pulling at the bars shouting, “let me out.” If I don’t write this and post it to my blog(s) I won’t be able to get these little hindrances out of my system.

I forgot my secret pin number to my ATM card this past weekend. I had only just used it that morning or was it the night before? I walked up to the machine on a Saturday in the middle of an art festival. I put my card in and as I did so, I realized the numbers weren’t coming to me. It wasn’t a good feeling. I tried again. The card spit back out. I tried again and again. I put my hand to my head. How could I forget? The bank was open. I went in, explained and waited to reset my pin number. It felt awful to forget a number that I use almost daily. But this number meant nothing to me. The bank had assigned the number when I was issued a new card for a new account a year ago and I had never gone in to change it to something more memorable. I used that as the rational for how I could forget such an important number. On the other hand, I’m surprised I didn’t forget it sooner. It was a fuzzy day. A migraine was coming on and I was out of sorts.

A few weeks back I decided to discontinue my membership in the writer’s group that I had been attending. The group was supportive and I appreciated the feedback that I received, but for several reasons including time, I felt that I needed to move on. I’m glad I at least experienced what it was like. I come back to a quote that has stuck with me ever since I saw Jonathan Franzen speak. At the end of his talk, an audience member asked what he thought about writing critique groups. He said they can be good, but what stuck is when he said, “After enough practice, you can see your own work.” I do believe this.

I was scared stiff when I first started sharing myself by blogging a few years back. All of my writing up until that point was kept tight in my journals or written in essays for teachers. I noticed that as I got more comfortable sharing aspects of myself, it became a little less frightening to push the button to post my blog. I only recently started cross-posting to WordPress. I’ve found some great children’s books blogs and have discovered a variety of other interesting blogs. I don’t have a whole lot of extra time to search around on WordPress, so I’ve been appreciative to find other blogs through the process of blogging.

The short story writing class I am taking is fine. There are some interesting assignments. Part of me is trying to remember exactly why I signed up for the class. I know why, but really, why? I do try to practice coming back to “beginners mind” from time to time. In this class it’s difficult for me not to compare my experiences to another creative writing course I took so many years ago where we wrote several short stories using the whole story process.

What’s working for me in this class is that it’s digestible and the instructor is great. What’s not working for me is the focus on scene building, our assignments focus on a scene per week, except when we do a workshop with a full story. I am writing my scenes and the instructor helps us find ways that we can blow the scene up into story; however, I am noticing that I don’t necessarily want to blow all the scenes up and if I do, I want the story to happen organically without outside forces.

Since I know we are coming up on a workshop week where we will choose one of our scenes that we’ve written in the class and create the full story, I have one last chance to write a scene assignment before workshop. I am going to try to think of the full story ahead of time—in fact, I already have, but I’m not sure if I’ll be able to go with it. We’ll see.

In general, my mind is not working well with a scene-by-scene approach. It feels very piecemeal to me. And I’m not sure if it’s because I learned one way and am now learning another way or if I prefer starting with the whole—the meaning—and working from there.

I am starting to feel Ray Bradbury’s words more than ever and keep them close so that I can avoid the pitfall: “Don’t think. Thinking is the enemy of creativity.”

It’s all a wonderful process. My middle name should have been process. I don’t actually have a middle name, but if I did have one—and this goes way back to high school—it would be Raye.

Rebbecca Raye Hill. That isn’t visually appealing, is it? Oh, well.

Rebb

 

 

I love children’s books and lately amongst the various other reading that I am nibbling away at, I am also weaving in several children’s picture books and books about children’s books.

One of the books I am currently reading is Everything I Need to Know I Learned from A Children’s Book: Life Lessons from Notable People from All Walks of Life edited by Anita Silvey. This is a wonderful collection of interviews turned into brief essays of leaders from various fields, accompanied by a photo of the chosen book, a summary, and an excerpt. I recognize some of the books from my childhood and jump for joy inside at having my memory jogged and remembering more books. And there are several books that I have not heard of before or have not read, which makes it like an adventure—in search for more worlds that I may have missed, that I can still return to.

This is an incredibly inspiring book that demonstrates the profound affect that books have on our young minds and how books continue to inspire and encourage us to pave our paths in life.

Here is a fantastic video published by the Library of Congress of Anita Silvey discussing her book. It provides additional insights and images of each of the chosen leaders she interviewed for her book

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fNvKfZjDOV8

**

Childhood Garden
by Rebbecca Hill (Rebb)

I water the wildflowers that reside within my soul,
tend to those wild abundant gardens.

Flowers bloom,
petals dance and spring about,

for the spirit of childhood—
that magic palace of wonder and curiosity
will live on—it must.

The music has changed. The beat has risen. Boom. Boom. Music fills the room, bursts out through slits in the window. She has traveled through a myriad of emotions and memories this morning through the many musical choices she has slipped in and out of the music player.

Her body first connects with the music through a pit in her stomach and then as the selections change, she feels a rise that enters through her toes, and then different parts of her body begin acting of their own accord: her legs, her hips, her arms, her head, her skin. She is practically dancing in her chair, ready to break out and dance around, losing herself for these few moments before the rest of the day begins.

I don’t usually watch that much television, but I do have a handful of shows that I like. Most are cooking shows. I have to put limits on myself so that I don’t become consumed with television. That’s not so difficult though, since there aren’t that many shows out there that grab my attention. I turn to my books and I try to include movie watching. I don’t watch as many movies as I’d like. There’s a constant balance and, oh yes, the Internet can be distracting. I might be reading an article or a book and next thing I know I’m searching for other books or digging deeper into this or that; I start writing or scribbling thoughts out and then I add to my thoughts, backspace, delete; and before I realize—hours have gone by.

All this talk about television brings me to my next TV show for the season: The Voice, a talent competition of blind auditions where contestants are at first judged solely on their voice, hoping that their voice is strong enough for at least one of four coaches to turn a chair to say, “I Want You.” Once the blind auditions are complete, next come the battle rounds, and finally the live performance shows. The judges are Christina Aguilera, Adam Levine, Cee Lo Green, and Blake Shelton.

While I was searching for a You Tube of The Voice this morning, I came across this clip of an Australian version of this program. I adore the Edith Piaf song, “La Vi En Rose” and had to have a listen to Rachel Leahcar’s rendition of the song. Her voice is magical and I could feel the emotion welling up inside of me.

The power of the voice: in all its manifestations whether through singing, acting, dancing, cooking, writing, or a gesture.

My first introduction to “La Vie En Rose” was Grace Jones singing it. Her version holds sentimental value and I treasure it.

Enjoy!

The Voice Australia – Rachael Leahcar sings “La Vie En Rose
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iVHl3j31pUA

Edith Piaf – “La Vie En Rose
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0NdmIpHKfgk&feature=fvwrel

Grace Jones sings “La Vie En Rose
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ah2x1Enu7Go

Last night I prepared pork tenderloin with a rub of salt, pepper, garlic salt, cayenne, tarragon, rosemary, paprika, and a few turns of “Pirates Bite,” which adds some extra heat. I served the tenderloin with a side of lentils and pasta. I followed a recipe for lentils and pasta with chard years ago and had only prepared it once, but have craved it ever since. I got rid of the cookbook where I found the recipe. After an Internet search, I found another recipe as a guide.

The recipe link is below. What I did different: I did not use a slow cooker. This time I used Spinach. I bet this would be great with kale and mushrooms. I decided to use large macaroni noodles instead of linguine, and I didn’t feel that I needed the Parmesan cheese—as much as I love cheese—the cream cheese was enough and pulled the dish together into a creamy delight. I cooked the lentils in low sodium chicken stock and the pasta in water. I will definitely be preparing this again, adding and subtracting along the way.

You can find the description for “Pirates Bite” at The Spice and Tea Exchang
http://www.spiceandtea.com/pirates-bite-p-197.html

Here is the recipe I used as a guide at About.com
http://southernfood.about.com/od/crockpotbeans/r/bl21c6.htm

**

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking the past week about how I think I’d like to work with children as a classroom assistant. I say think because I’ve never really worked with children for any length of time. Only a few times, one-on-one.  I think I’d be comfortable in the kindergarten through third or fourth grade environment. I know that I don’t have the means to pursue the education or certification needed to be a teacher. I need one to get the other. And adding onto my existing loan debt would not be a good option.

Last time, at least ten years ago, when I thought about going this direction, I called a local Montessori and shadowed for a day in the toddler section to see if it was for me. Though the toddlers were adorable, I didn’t want to change diapers and when I shadowed the older toddlers, I noticed I wasn’t as outgoing or at ease as the other teachers. When we walked through the class for the older children, I felt that this would be the right environment.

So, I thought long and hard, even though it’s only been a week and through the years this thought has cropped up. I have been shy around children in the past the few times that I have been in a situation with many children. I do better with one or a small group, and on a few occasions, the shy ones are drawn to me, probably because they sensed another shy and quiet human.

I thought that a great way to satisfy what I’m being pulled toward is to start searching the volunteer pages to see if there was an opportunity to work in a classroom as an assistant. I found a few that required credentials and/or a minimum of 12 ECE units, which I do not have. I kept looking and changed my search details, and I may have found just what I was looking for. It’s a literacy program for grades K-3 where tutors work one-on-one or in small groups in the classroom, which would be perfect. I love the energy of children when I am around them and have always and still love children’s books; and I feel that I am a teacher at heart; definitely a child at heart, as well as a nurturer of the sprit.

I have many fond memories of my teacher’s from childhood, especially Kindergarten, all the way through third grade, actually. Well, no, wait…second grade wasn’t so great. The instructor didn’t seem very nice. And though it’s a distant memory, I can remember my mother’s presence in one of my classrooms. I believe she was a teacher’s assistant and it must have been first grade. I remember seeing her help other students. It’s a memory that comes in and out of focus. In my childhood I didn’t think much of it, yet now looking back has created yet another piece of the puzzle toward understanding my mother—toward learning who she was and also the things she had me do and how it helped foster who I became, whether intentionally or not. I do remember how she was helpful with the other students.

I feel a certain synchronicity in that my search aligned with an upcoming training session for the tutoring opportunity. It will still take time between waiting for the training date late next month, and then for placement, which could take more time. I am very much looking forward to this new experience, and now I must wait.

I always thought of myself as a person who saw the big picture and I do still believe that; however, I also realize that at times, I get caught up in details. There have been some recent examples where this has become more apparent, causing me to flip the pages backwards to find others examples of both.

My significant other and I had this conversation over dinner after we saw the new movie, The Words, about a struggling writer who discovers an old manuscript, becomes enchanted with it, eventually typing it up to see what it would feel like to have written those words.  And here, the trouble begins, for this struggling writer. We had a difference of opinion on our overall interpretation of the movie. He caught a detail I missed and that was an important clue to the understanding of the truth behind the fiction. I still have my doubts and will not know for certain, unless I watch the movie again.

Although, this was a detail and a fact—that I the detailed one ironically missed—perhaps I was actually seeing the whole. I don’t know.

In thinking through it more, though, it has made me think of the times I have looked too much at details, and that while they are relevant at times, the big picture and the details are important toward a balanced understanding. I have to admit there is still a part of me that is resisting that I fall into the trap of detailed thinking. I suppose it’s situational. Sometimes the whole is visually clear to me and at other times it could be that I give in to the details.

I’m not positive where I feel my strength is and I also realize that it depends on the situation whether my detailed mind takes over. I’ve always striven to adopt a whole picture view, but being aware of the fact that I sometimes slip into detailed mode is needed in order to catch myself, knowing when it’s appropriate to bring the microscope into focus, but always trying pull the focus back so that I’m not missing the whole.

I appreciated the movie for what it makes the viewer think about, though unless it’s my naivety, I can’t imagine any writer being able to live with themselves, knowingly stealing someone else’s writing and claiming it for their own, but I imagine it does happen in some capacity. Of course in the movie, we are told that the writer only intended to feel the writing and the words by tapping them out, to get close to them—at first. Then when the struggling writer’s wife reads what he wrote, was moved to tears and said it was like nothing he had every written before—that it was all of what was missing in his previous manuscripts—he was unable to reveal the truth to her because he wanted so much to succeed. And so the movie continues where it started in a sort of parallel fiction that crosses boundaries.

I enjoyed the movie, yet the end seemed to just end. I suppose I wanted more, but there wasn’t more and I knew that. It’s that I somehow became enthralled with it all, that I didn’t want the reel to stop running. After I started thinking more about the movie and how it was told, I was left not knowing if I believed the narrator or not—I didn’t know how much was truth and how much was fiction. I may have been reading too much into it or perhaps I missed a few of the subtle details, or the one subtle detail that my significant other honed in on that I had missed.

One of my favorite Kindle blogs is, Michael Gallagher’s “Free Kindle Books and Tips [Kindle Edition].” It’s ninety-nine cents (.99) per month. There have been a variety of great free books that I have downloaded for free that later went to full price. Sometimes I don’t see any books I’m interested in for a few days. Nevertheless, I still enjoyed reading what Michael has to say and seeing and reading about the books he chooses to share. I’ve never personally emailed him to tell him how much I enjoy his blog; this is my way of sharing my appreciation, and perhaps I’ll drop him an email to let him now how much I like his blog. I’ve been a subscriber ever since I purchased my Kindle. I think it’s been at least a year and a half.

You can also view his website, with the same content, at no cost at http://www.fkbooksandtips.com/

Recently when I read his blog, he let his readers know that his kids, Rylee and Reed put a book of quotes together that they hand selected and published, with the help of their dad, on Amazon Kindle. It’s called Quote of the Day 2013 by Rylee Gallagher and Reed Gallagher. The cost is $2.99. They have put this book together to earn money to pay for their school’s trip to Washington, D.C. for spring break 2013. Rylee is in junior high and Reed is in middle school. I purchased the book in hopes that they reach their goal and I appreciated that they took the time to put this together and were creative in their efforts to help pay for their trip in 2013. Good luck to them!

Each page in the quote book has just one quote. I’ve enjoyed the quotes I’ve read so far. Many gems. This quote below has me thinking about my life path:

“It’s a funny thing about life: If you refuse to accept something but the best, you very often get it.
—W. Somerset Maugham

One more that screams at me, YES! is this one:
“When one door is shut, another opens.”
—Miguel De Cervantes

That’s just a small taste of the quotes that you will find in this collection that Rylee and Reed put together. You can visit the Amazon product page here.

Happy Friday!

 

Last night was a restless night. Not in a bad way. I waited too long to brush my teeth and it bothers me when I skip a night of flossing and brushing. My significant other got up to use the restroom at close to 3:30 a.m. and I took the opportunity to drag myself from a laziness; not quite sleep, rather some sort of heaviness where my mind and body were both awake, but neither was budging. I know it drives him crazy when I wait so long. It disrupts his sleep. I’ll try to do better.

After that, I was wide awake and that thing that happens, happened. You know, where you find yourself phantom writing, where thoughts pour out of your mind, full ideas and thoughts that you’ve held inside and turned around and around—they finally begin pouring out coherently and you can see the words, the sentences, the feelings streaming by, but you just watch. You don’t want to move. You don’t want to disrupt the flow.

And so, there I was. I didn’t want to get up again because I could sense that my significant other was not sound asleep yet. It wouldn’t take long. I continued to let my thoughts spill out and I imagined that I was an hour glass and these thoughts were sand steadily pouring out and I wasn’t doing anything about it. And then I felt the night breeze caress my cheek. It soothed me so. There is nothing I enjoy more than the feel of the breeze on my skin at night through the open window. I have a pack of index cards on the window sill. I grabbed one carefully not to make too much movement, then I reached for my mechanical pencil. I tried to write two words and it seemed that the scratch of the pencil in the quiet room echoed loud. It wasn’t going to work. I put both back up and sat there, going back and forth in my mind: Am I going to get up or lose all the thoughts that are shooting out like stars in the sky? What will I do? Do I want to begin my day?

By now it was a little after 4:00 a.m.—ah makes me think of a book I checked out from the library. I’ve poked around in it, haven’t done the exercises. But still felt inspired in some way. I’ll have to come back to this book, since it makes more sense now that 4:00 a.m. is on my mind. The book is called The 4 a.m.. Breakthrough: Unconventional Writing Exercises that Transform your Fiction by Brian Kiteley. He’s also written The 3 a.m. Breakthrough. I haven’t set my eyes on that one yet. As I was saying: I didn’t want to get up that early and start my day because I knew I would be exhausted later and that I needed to sleep.

Finally, I heard the breath from my significant other that signifies that if I get up, he won’t notice, so I slide out of bed, or rather I maneuver out of bed. I’m boxed in on the window side and I have to navigate just enough space to put my foot down at the end of the bed, so as not to lose my balance. I go to the living room, get the battery operated lantern from the bottom shelf, turn it on, get my notebook and pencil, crouch over, and begin writing.

By then, the thoughts are not exactly flowing out the way they were at the brink of awakening. No, of course not. I did manage to jot a few thoughts down so that I can come back to them later. Instead what I wrote was mostly a few words to spark my memory next time, words put in their own corners in the notebook for each separate idea or thought. I’m still glad I got out of bed. I’m glad I was awake at that hour. The clouds seem to wait until the wee hours of the morning to look there most stunning and romantic. I could slip out of my window and fly with them easily. And that was my restless night.

About the photo: I’m not exactly sure why I chose this one to share. I took it a month back on a visit to the library. I liked how one piece of art framed the other artwork. It was taken with my iPod Touch, so the quality isn’t that great. There’s something about it I like and I love that the mountain is in the background.

It’s nighttime again…have a good night.

Happy writing!

This morning I went to my bookshelves to find a quote. I had a book in mind. Instead I saw another, picked it up, and flipped the pages to see what passages I had marked.

It’s a quiet morning. The sun is taking slightly longer to rise and that is when I begin noticing…I usually rise with the sun. It seems, though, that my inner clock is set on a particular time and woke me before the sun had fully blossomed. When we fall back in October, it will be a test of my inner clock.

Some months ago I picked up a used copy of Ben Franklin’s Almanac of Wit, Wisdom and Practical Advice: Useful Tips and Fascinating Facts for Every Day of the Year by the Editors of The Old Farmer’s Almanac. Now isn’t that a mouth full of a title! Well, it’s probably no surprise that I have the book situated in a place where I can see it daily, yet I’ve only flipped through the pages a few times.

This morning I decided to crack it open to September 5 to see what wit and wisdom I would find. Today seemed to be all about work. I spied that yesterday is recipe day: Rush Hour Pasta and Peas. Sounds delicious. Speaking of recipes, I am finally going to get back into the kitchen. I’ve been relying on prepared “healthy” foods and other prepared meals from Trader Joes. I’ve gotten uninspired in the kitchen and have gone back to my ways of not wanting to cook and clean up a mountain of dishes that seems far too many for only two. I’ve seen some nice lentil and pasta recipes—one that I emailed to myself months ago. I will finally give that a try. It has cream cheese in it too! The October Family Circle magazine also has some nice looking lentil and one-pot meal recipes.

Something came up in our writer’s group. One of the writers is working on a children’s book for the nine to twelve readers. It’s a delightful story, but because one of her characters has a Spanish accent, she has written his dialogue so that he speaks English with a Spanish accent, so he would say something like, “How are joo.” Anyway, rightly so, a few members said that some readers—the parents or librarians—might take offense. I didn’t have a problem with the dialogue, and it added to the adorableness and humor of the character.

I was curious and asked a librarian if she had examples of books where this sort of thing occurred in the published children’s books. She wasn’t able to come up with much, but did tell me about the Skippyjon Jones series written by Judy Schachner. She told me that actually the kids loved the books and they were very popular, but that a review tag had been put on the books because of the very thing that our group’s writer was trying to do with her books. A review tag, meaning they might try to pull the books from the shelves. I put a hold on the one titled just Skippyjon Jones. The book arrived and I read it last night. It was absolutely delightful. There wasn’t too much throughout the book as far as exaggerating the spelling to achieve the sounds of a Spanish accent. There were a few spots. For example, one part goes like this, “Then, using his very best Spanish accent, he said, “My ears are too beeg for my head. My head ees too beeg for my body…” The story really is fun to read out loud. I was laughing and the main character, Skippyjon Jones is a Siamese cat who thinks he is a Chihuahua—or at least he’s pretending. There are also a few simple Spanish words scattered throughout the dialogue. It’s great. I’m glad I’ve been introduced to this book and have another on hold from this same series. So I will share with our writer in the group about this book unless she already knows about it. Also, this book is for a younger age group, so I don’t know if that will make it not very helpful.

**

Flipping through the book that I pulled from my shelves, looking at different passages that I had underlined, I found one the spoke to me this morning, resonated deep within. It’s part of small chapter, “The Spectrum of Love.”

“The highest, most comprehensive level of love is agape—a spiritual, objective, unconditional love. Immature love needs to be loved; mature love simply loves. Agape, or unconditional love, can dissolve the false self…Eventually agape will refine and expand our sense of who we are to infinite dimensions. It will dissolve our separate existence. Then, instead of seeking the security and consolation of the ego, instead of seeking to be loved, we will be love itself” (pg. 47).

From The Knowing Heart: A Sufi Path of Transformation by Kabir Helminski.

**

I’ve always been drawn to all knowledge and wisdom from as many traditions as I can be exposed to. This book was introduced to me in a class I took called The Metaphysical Heart. I will always be grateful for all the different doors and windows that I’ve ventured to open and that have been shown to me—and I will continue along that path—a path that is wide and varied, where I am but a vessel of some sort, knowing and feeling that I am a part of this grand world that stretches far and wide.

Sending blessings and love to the world…unconditionally.