30 October 2017

To the Season of Hallowe'en

I've mentioned before that I write seasonally. A few of my pieces, I only work on during certain periods of the year, during October and its build up to Hallowe'en, for instance. One drawback is that it can stall the writing process. Even if I have some ideas brewing, I tend to hold back until the proper period rolls around again. One advantage is that it helps flavor the writing with authenticity to the season. Another drawback is that it can slow me down until I have multiple pieces going all at once. Another advantage in that regard is that I can therefore tend to finish pieces all at once as well.

This year, I finished a poem I had been working on for a couple of years, a story I'd been writing for a couple years longer, and a draft of a chapter book five Octobers in the making. Along with an assortment of short verses that have been hanging around for a while. The ends all came one after another after another. It has been ages since I felt so accomplished at my writing desk. 


One other advantage to writing  in such a seasonal manner is that while the season "seasons" the writing, the writing also "inscribes" the season with a certain character. This year, though I have been extraordinarily busy at work in the school library, my writing has helped maintain and even expand the feeling of Hallowe'en, serving to make the whole of October a celebration of the holiday...just the way October should be.


The first pumpkin I ever successfully grew and harvested,
carved into a Jack-o'-lantern!

27 September 2017

Banned Books Week

Celebrate Banned Books Week
-
Read a Banned Book!



For more information, visit these sites:

Banned Books Week

American Library Association
http://www.ala.org/advocacy/bbooks/banned



From the middle of Banned Books Week:
This week in the school library, we've been looking at a few "controversial" works by the masterful Dr. Seuss. Many a reader is surprised to learn that even a single Dr. Seuss book has ever offended anyone.

Visit these site for some interesting articles:
http://world.edu/banned-books-awareness-dr-seuss/
http://nerdalicious.com.au/books/banned-books-week-2014-dr-seuss-banned-i-am/

19 August 2017

Eclipse Plans

National Public Radio asked listeners to write in with their plans for the eclipse.
I wrote a short essay, but I'm afraid I was too slow in submitting it. Seems a shame not to share in anyways.

****


I shall be watching the Total Solar Eclipse from my front step.
I first learned away back in the early nineties, when I was still in my teens, that my hometown of Casper, Wyoming, would be having a total eclipse in 2017. (Astonishing how awfully far off 2017 seemed back then.) I’ve been looking forward with amazement ever since. The partial solar eclipse on Christmas Day back in 2000 provided a splendid opportunity to start collecting eclipse glasses and solar filters. Only a few years ago, I discovered that my house was but a stone’s throw off the very center line of totality’s path. That wonderful revelation has had me even more astounded with anticipation—matched only by the marvel of knowing my five-year-old twins shall have as an early, indelible memory the sight of the Sun going dark in the mid-day sky above their home.
To celebrate the day’s event, we’ve invited family and friends, near and far, to join us for food and drinks and a welcome chair—though I expect few folks will be sitting down. We’ll also have games: horseshoes, cornhole, ladderball, and instead of “pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey,” we’ll award prizes for rounds of “pin-the-Moon-on-the-Sun.” We plan to revel the whole day through. Nevertheless, for two and a half minutes just before noon, my attention shall be focused entirely on the sky. To behold the wonder. To feel the shadow of the heavens cast upon me. And to witness the awe of the universe aligning before my eyes.




04 August 2017

Out of the Warehouse

Yesterday was my last day at the warehouse. Now all my focus is on my school library.

Working at the warehouse has not been just a source of supplemental income. I had been warehousing since I was a kid, when my Dad first handed me a boxknife and told me to start cutting off flaps. "And be careful, why dontcha!"
Ever since, warehousing has been my career.
Crown. Amcon. Def Tec. Wear Parts. HD Supply, The Glass Warehouse.
Then my wife finally convinced me to go to school and pursue teaching and librarianship (like my Mom and Dad tried to do fifteen years earlier). I studied, earned a degree, and landed a position as a Teacher-Librarian in an elementary school.
All through school I kept my position at my last warehouse job with The Glass Warehouse. The folks there were wonderfully supportive of my efforts at school. I actually did put in my two weeks notice right before I first started college, but they wouldn't hear of it. Instead, they were willing to work around my schedule. As I delved deeper into my studies, semester by semester, I reduced my hours to the point where I was working only half a day a week, on Saturday mornings.
I worked most of this summer, however, even though it meant neglecting my prep work for the coming school year. Turned out to be one last busy hurrah at the daily adventure of pulling orders, stocking shelves, loading trucks, and zipping around on the forklift and honking the horn like a deranged Shriner in a pallet-filled parade.

But now, my warehousing days are over. I'm changing careers.
Here I am at 40, staring down a major shift in my life. It's exciting. It's terrifying. It's joyful.
But it's also a bit saddening. I wonder if I'll ever again have occasion to operate a forklift.

Will I ever again have to cut the flaps off of a box?
Maybe when I receive my book orders.
I'll be able to cut with precision, 'cause I've had years upon years of practice.

Perhaps keeping a library really shall turn out to be a lot like warehousing. Plenty of constant shelving to be done. I've had lots of practice in that, as well.

However it goes, I'm glad to have had such rich experiences with warehousing as a career. Still, I'm ready to make the transition at last. 
Into the library...


Thanks to all the warehousing crewmembers with whom I worked over the years. Particular thanks to all at The Glass Warehouse and Decker: Curt Weston, Dan Seth, Gary Romer, Jerry Alley, Brian Sorenson, and the keepers of the books: Cathy and Patty, and of course all the rest of the crew who had such incredible patience with me and my goofy schedule these last few years. 
Don't forget to rotate your stock!





http://www.deckerautoglasswy.com/



23 July 2017

The Next New Moon...

The very next New Moon brings with it The Eclipse!

I'll be watching from my front step.
That's right off the center line of the path in Casper, Wyoming.

Where will you be?


Helpful links:
https://eclipse.gsfc.nasa.gov/eclipse.html
https://www.greatamericaneclipse.com/
http://www.eclipse2017.org/
https://oilcityeclipse.com/


21 July 2017

One Month Until The Eclipse

One month until the total solar eclipse!

It's set to cast its shadow right on my doorstep!

I can hardly wait. This promises to be a long, long month...yet so extraordinarily quick.


Visit Wyoming Public Radio for advice on viewing the eclipse:
http://wyomingpublicmedia.org/post/astronomer-offers-advice-viewing-total-eclipse-sun

Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported (CC BY-SA 3.0) 








01 July 2017

First Day As Librarian

Today, the 1st of July, 2017, marks my first official day as school librarian for Crest Hill Elementary.



30 June 2017

Cosmos Mystery Area

In a few weeks we are headed to the Black Hills for vacation.

We'll be checking out the usual attractions: Mt. Rushmore, Devil's Tower, et cetera.
The place that has me most excited to visit is Cosmos Mystery Area.
I could go on about it, but I haven't even been there yet, so here's the link for the best information:


21 May 2017

Just Three Months Until The Eclipse

Here are some helpful links regarding the eclipse on Monday, August 21st.
That's just three months away! A mere quarter year!

http://www.eclipse2017.org/

https://www.greatamericaneclipse.com/

https://eclipse2017.nasa.gov/ 

http://www.space.com/33797-total-solar-eclipse-2017-guide.html


Each site has LOTS of wonderful information available on the upcoming eclipse.


My hometown of Casper, Wyoming, lies in prime viewing position.
My own house is just a stone's throw from the very centre-line of the eclipse path.
So, here is some local information on the eclipse:

http://eclipsecasper.com/

http://www.casperplanetarium.com/

https://www.timeanddate.com/eclipse/in/usa/casper

My family is planning an eclipse celebration.
Food, drink, games. Free eclipse glasses to the first 100 people to drop by.
Come join us, and experience the total solar eclipse!

Lunar Eclipse,  27-9-2015,
as viewed from my house, 
occurring in roughly the same part of the sky in which the solar eclipse shall occur.








08 April 2017

An Evening with Garrison Keillor

My wife and I drove to Laramie yesterday to see Garrison Keillor speak at the Arts and Sciences Auditorium at the University of Wyoming.

Mr. Keillor spoke of poetry and literature. He sang spiritual hymns and patriotic songs. He told of Wyoming and Minnesota, New York and Washington, even Billings and Pocatello. He recited tales of sex and of funerals and of murder ballads thrown out at Thanksgiving. He spoke of literature and of poetry. It is a poetic month, after all.

Honestly...
It was surreal.

Watching him speak felt just like listening to him speak.
 
I might have closed my eyes and imagined him talking--as I have so often since I started listening to him on the radio a mere twenty-five years ago or so--and it would not have appeared at all different than it did as I watched him pace the stage before me last evening.

His somnolent drone, sagely sharp in every sigh. His wry observations. His seasoned humour. His poetic flow. His storytelling. His storytelling. His tangential, spiralspun, wonderful storytelling.

He often refers to his efforts as those of a writer. (And any reader would know he's a better writer than me.) But, truly, he is a storyteller. As natural a storyteller as who ever did spin yarn enough to hold a few drops of soup--or who ever did carry his audience away, yet also carry them closer to themselves.

I missed the chance to have him sign my copy of Lake Wobegone Days. Still, I was glad for the opportunity to attend the performance, particularly with my wife at my side. And I was honoured to be part of a master storyteller's audience--to watch, and to listen.


Here is a link to The Writer's Almanac, Garrison' Keillor's daily offering of nourishing sips of literature, history, and poetry.
http://writersalmanac.org/
 

30 March 2017

Young Authors Program 2017

 Young Authors


This year's Young Authors Program was a terrific success here in Natrona County. There was fair turnout, and students presented fabulous work. Celebrations for both primary and secondary levels are scheduled for next week.

As building coordinator for my school, I helped judge students' submissions from Kindergarten to 5th grade. As a member of the Casper Reading Council, I also had the privilege of reading and judging the work of students from across the district, and at every level, Kindergarten to 12th grade. Each  and every piece impressed me in some way: style, voice, focus, breadth, fluency, presentation. I think back to my own work at comparable grade levels, and I am proud of the our students' achievement, often so much more advanced than ever I wrote as a "Young Author."

I am deeply heartened by the work of all our local Young Authors. The imagination and inspiration evident in their words promises to serve as a fountainhead of creativity for the burgeoning generation of new writers, as well as readers. Students' efforts--along with the efforts of teachers, administrators, parents, guardians, and neighbours--help shine a magnificent light on the strength of creative writing in our educational community.