Bon voyage!

HParisFlightLandingCrop

Currently thankful for….

Four perfectly working engines, two structurally sounds wings, and a trustworthy flight crew

Two enthusiastic chaperones and a lot of families who worked all year to send this group of kids off on a grand adventure

A daughter who’s willing to venture a few thousand miles out of her comfort zone

Digital devices that let us track a transatlantic flight in the middle of the night from the comfort of our beds

A big ol’ planet dotted with amazing things, people, food, art, architecture, and cheese that sometimes you just have to go see for yourself

Reading Challenge month 3 – A classic romance

Romance

When H chose this category last month, the image that immediately came to my mind was that rack of pink-covered Harlequin Romances at the book store when I was a kid.

That rack that I passed with barely a glance on my way to the brown clad books: dogs, horses, reference.

In fact, I went in search of that rack for a picture for this post and you know what I found? Fifty shades of grey. Quite literally. To be sure, there’s still a scattering of covers dressed in pinks and purples depicting clutching couples, shirtless men, and gowned damsels in distress. But most of the romance covers are unlike those of my dusty pink memory. They’re blue and black and grey, with motorcycles and vampires and empty landscapes. Old houses, space ships, jewels, and, of course, blindfolds.

And still, between the covers, it’s almost always that same long-told, reassuring story: one meets another, there’s the spark (love, hate, disdain, attraction), there’s the longing and the eventual coming to terms, there’s the obstruction (cruel step mother, overseas job, old girlfriend, different species, different planet), there’s the long montage of return to each other. And then there’s the ending… together or apart, with some hope that there will be love at some point, if only in a different time and place.

For this challenge, all I really wanted to do was read my favorite Jane Austen (Persuasion), which has all of the above elements in abundance, plus (to my mind) a heroine who truly deserves the happiness she attains at the end. Instead, I read a more recent classic: The French Lieutenant’s Woman, by John Fowles.

It was fine. It had most of the elements. It had Sarah in her dark cloak at the end of the Cobb being buffeted by the wind and waves (the Cobb, in fact, makes an appearance in Persuasion). But it was no Persuasion. And now I’ve learned that the crucial element (for me) is the ending: Elizabeth and Darcy must end up in incandescent happiness. Anne and Frederick must end up on the deck of his ship, setting out for adventure.

Otherwise, what’s the point?

~~~~~~~

Our books for month 3:

We’d love to know what you read this month. Please leave a comment telling us about it!

The category for the coming month is:

Month4

If you need help finding a book, here are some good resources (note, however, that just because a book was popular or best selling in a particular year doesn’t mean it was necessarily first published in that year; check the information for the particular book you want to read):

We’ll see you back here on May 9!

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This post is part of our multi-year reading challenge. We’d love to have you join us for the whole challenge or any portion. Take a look at the checklist to see the current category (in green). We’ll announce the next category on the 9th of each month.

If you talk about it long enough you’ll finally write it

PoMoSco-Website-Badge-2As much jabbering as I do here about myself, there are probably still one or two things you don’t know about me.

Here’s one: when I was little I was a Brownie, and then I “flew up” to become a Junior Girl Scout, and then, after the novelty of wearing my uniform and sash with badges to school once a week on meeting days wore off, I gave all that up. I’m not really a joiner.

When I first became a Brownie, the thing that interested me most about the whole affair was the manual. It was a square, orange-colored, soft-covered reference book that contained all you needed to know about being a good Brownie: the uniform details, how to wear the sash, the story of how the Brownies came to be, a comprehensive list of all the badges you could earn, the pledges you would recite, the behavior expected of you at meetings and in your community, the songs you would need to memorize, the suggested games and activities for Brownie meetings.

As I remember it, near the back of the book (but it could have been anywhere), there were sketches of Girl Scouts in their uniforms. The dimple-faced Brownie in her brown outfit, the Junior in her green. As you progressed through the evolution from Brownie to Senior, the uniforms (always a dress or a skirt, mind you, back in those days) got more elegant to my mind. The older girls wore cute berets worn slightly askew…. and white gloves. I gave serious consideration to whether I could tough it out long enough to get to white glove stage. Then I thought better of it and went back to my blue jeans and model horses.

I spent a lot of time in that book. More time, in fact, than I spent at meetings or activities. I didn’t much enjoy the activities, but, even back then, grade 2 or 3, I really dug a reference book.

Some things never change.

Why am I telling you this?

Well, today starts National Poetry Month and though I agree with Mary Ruefle that November could use more poetic attention, I don’t see any reason why we shouldn’t cram the year with a much poetry as possible, so why not celebrate poetry in April? This year, as in past years, I’ll mark the occasion by adding a new poem to this post every day for the month.

On top of that, I’m going back to scouting. Poetry scouting, that is. I’ll be participating in the Found Poetry Review’s  PoMoSco project, where I and 212 other poetry scouts (representing 43 states and 12 countries) will be creating and posting a new found poem every day for the month of April.

Each day there’s a new type of found poetry to compose, a new badge to earn. Through March, I’ve been preparing by gathering source texts and writing some first drafts, but today is when it all becomes real.

Enough talk; it’s time to write.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Details for Paterson

I just saw two boys.
One of them gets paid for distributing circulars
and he throws it down the sewer.

I said, Are you a Boy Scout?
He said, no.
The other one was.
I have implicit faith in
the Boy Scouts

If you talk about it
long enough
you’ll finally write it—
If you get by the stage
when nothing
can make you write—
If you don’t die first

I keep those bests that love
has given me
Nothing of them escapes—
I have proved it
proven once more in your eyes

Go marry! your son will have
blue eyes and still
there’ll be no answer
you have not found a cure
No more have I for that enormous
wedged flower, my mind
miraculously upon
the dead stick of night

–William Carlos Williams, From The Collected Poems of William Carlos Williams. Copyright © 1988 by Christopher MacGowan

That’s a bonus poem for you.

From now on, I’ll be adding a link each day to a poem that somehow relates to the day’s PoMoSco badge category (in parentheses). I hope you’ll also visit us over on the PoMoSco site to see our poems there. (If you want to see the poems I’m writing, you can get there by using this direct link.)

April 1 (Pick and Mix) ~ Pick ‘n’ Mix , by Holly Magill
April 2 (Shake it Up) ~ Back Yard, by Carl Sandburg
April 3 (White Out) ~ Departure and Departure and…, by George Bruce
April 4 (On Demand) ~ The Grind, by Ange Mlinko
April 5 (All Ears) ~ LXI, by César Vallejo
April 6 (First in Line) ~ Louisiana Line, by Betty Adcock
April 7 (Roll the Dice) ~ Here, by Arthur Sze
April 8 (Redacted) ~ a little bit of poetry, by tychogirl
April 9 (X:Y) ~ X Minus X, by Kenneth Fearing
April 10 (Interloper) ~ The Interloper, by Thomas Hardy
April 11 (Haiku Anew) ~ Not That It’s Loneliness, by Chloe Moorish
April 12 (Chance Walk) ~ A Late Walk, by Robert Frost
April 13 (Picture It) ~ Picture of Little Letters, by John Koethe
April 14 (Survey Says) ~ Phone Survey, by Carole Langille
April 15 (As Advertised) ~ The Letter, by Dana Gioia
April 16 (Blender) ~ Miniature Delights, by Anne Ryland
April 17 (Spelling B) ~ I Wave Good-bye When Butter Flies, by Jack Prelutsky
April 18 (Open Book) ~ Granted, by Maxine Chernoff
April 19 (Quiet on Set) ~ Passing Through, by D.A. Powell
April 20 (Off the Shelf) ~ Canada, by Billy Collins
April 21 (Interrogator) ~ The Wrong Question, by Anne Swannell
April 22 (Dialed In) ~ The Farm on the Great Plains, by William E. Stafford
April 23 (Click Trick) ~ The South Transept Window, St. Lucia at Lowhampton, by Martin Monahan
April 24 (Best Laid Plan) ~ To a Mouse, by Robert Burns
April 25 (Crowdsource) ~ Out of the Rolling Ocean, the Crowd, by Walt Whitman

Hidden spring

Hidden spring

The internet’s serving up photos of crocuses and daffodils. I hear tell of apple and pear blossoms, kids and lambs, and Easter egg hunts.

Around here, spring seems reluctant. There’s tell-tale mud, to be sure. But there’s still snow. And nothing is blooming.

When I look up into the trees, they look as quiet and empty as the winter that’s just passed.

But just because we can’t see something happening, doesn’t mean it isn’t.

Spring

There’s a thaw beneath the fallen snow
And the geese don’t know which way to go
There’s a warm wind blowin’ round the bend
And the days are growin’ long again

And I will go down by the river
And wash the cold away
And gaze across the water all day

There’s a bird rehearsing on a wire
And a soft green underneath the briar
There’s a hazy ring around the moon
And the rains of spring are comin’ soon

–Cheryl Wheeler, from “Spring“, 1997

How Lowe can I go?

Nick_Lowe_at_Knuckleheads_Saloon2
“Nick Lowe at Knuckleheads Saloon” by K8 fan

What can I say? It’s the man’s birthday. And I’ve loved his music since I was a young teen. And one time not too long ago he and I made eye contact.

This morning started off at 2ºF, but the sun’s brilliant out there and the bird feeder outside my desk window is bristling with a pair of Pine Siskins, a handful of yelllowing American Goldfinches, an embarrassment of Black-Capped Chickadees, a scattering of Tufted Titmice, and a single Downy Woodpecker.

I’m distracted by everything and anything today. By shiny things. Things with wings. Prints in the snow. Reddening buds on the lilac bushes. Something’s happening.

The geese haven’t made their comeback, but can’t you just feel they’re on their way? Winter coats and mittens are still required, but the light is distinctly softer, less oblique.

Something long frozen is shattering.

It’s a good day to be alive. Especially when Nick Lowe is singing.

Where I come from

Bird ball

[Ed note: Today’s post is written by Hyla, another favorite guest blogger.]

Vermont is such a beautiful place, and it’s small enough that I feel comfortable, but big enough and unpopulated enough that I can feel uncramped. My family only owns two acres of land, but we live in a 200-year-old house with ancient beams and a renovated kitchen and orange and red walls, and there are four bird feeders hanging from the windows, and my room’s floor is so uneven that one side of my bed is on six-inch shims. We have modern lights hanging from century-old ceilings, and beehives in the garden, and goats in the yard, and cats under our feet, and a dog at our heels. The snow comes up to the windows in the winter, and in the summer we can sit out by the firepit listening to blasting music from inside and we live so far away from any city that we can see every single star. There’s an ancient maple tree in the middle of the yard that I have seen nearly every day of my life for almost sixteen years, with an old swing hanging from it and our pets who’ve passed away buried under it. There’s a ring of mountains around my house on a hill protecting it, and a valley underneath, and a forest behind, with a path I’ve walked a thousand times that can take me all the way to the waterfall if I go right, or the big green bridge with the yellow gate and the perfect swimming hole if I go left. As I’m writing this, the huge wind (that yesterday blew so hard the snow was falling up) is making the big bell on the apple tree clang. At night in bed, I can hear the waterfall and the coyotes, and as soon as dawn comes I can see the sun rising through my windows. Where I come from is empty and godless and heathen and uneven and filthy and cold and hot and, sometimes, plain miserable. But I’d never, ever want to live anywhere else.