31 December 2019

Holiday Theatre

Quite the busy Holiday Season. Now that Christmas Day is past (and the new air hockey table that Santa brought is assembled and positioned), I finally have a moment or two to share a few thoughts on a couple shows I was able to attend this year.

Stage III Community Theatre presented A Christmas Carol, adapted by Gayann Truelove and Tammy Barton, and directed by Heather Rankin. I read the book every year. I'm sure to catch many of the movies every December, especially Scrooge starring the late, great Albert Finney. I've also seen a few local stage productions of the story. The most impressive aspect of this version is how it begins: with Ebenezer Scrooge walking the city streets, wishing folks a Merry Christmas, and then inviting the audience to learn of how he used to keep Christmas and what brought him to such miraculous change of spirit.
In the novel, the main character's introduction as a morose miser remains so powerful that the name "Scrooge" evokes for most folks thoughts of stinginess, greed, and grumpiness--and little else. But ever since I was a young reader first discovering Dickens's work, I came to think of Scrooge as the fictional embodiment of transformation and redemption. It was, therefore, compelling to see that characterization instead serve as the introduction to CD's ghostly little tale.
Also, a ring of carolers wassailed the audience between scenes--A beautiful, melodious method of helping the cast and crew do such a fine job with accomplishing scene transitions.
Lastly, the stand out of the evening was Jeremy Patey as Ebenezer Scrooge. He did a wonderful turn with the honourable role.

We also took the family to see "A Charlie Brown Christmas - Live on Stage". This one had me excited--but also a bit frightened beforehand. I have loved this cartoon since I was a wee lad, watching it every December with my family. (We still call each other to make sure everyone knows when it's scheduled to be broadcast--and it still makes us all hungry for snack cakes.) Anyway, I did not want to sit and watch a bunch of humans ruin the cartoon. What if they "killed it!"?
They didn't kill it. They brought it to life! The cast honoured the original, doing justice to nearly every word of every line in the cartoon. The singing, the dancing, the jazz trio--each member of the cast and crew did a splendid job. Perhaps the most pleasant surprise was that they went onwards to present the Christmas play that the gang was working on through the end of the cartoon. Using Snoopy's doghouse as the stable, the cast sang carols in order to tell the Nativity story. It proved to be the perfect way to end the play.

(I just became aware that Lee Mendelson, producer of "A Charlie Brown Christmas", died upon Christmas Day. Strangely poetic to think that one of the men involved in making such an enduring fixture of modern Christmas celebrations passed into eternity upon the sacred day.)

Finally, I spotted a handful of students at both plays. Pupils know that if I catch them at a public library or museum or, yes, a theatre, they earn a prize at their school library. I look forward to seeing the kids when we return to school


21 November 2019

Thanks to NCPL and "Friends of the Library"

The Natrona County Elementary Librarians collected at the Public Library yesterday for their monthly collaborative meeting. Heaps of appreciation to Twyla Gaylord for showing us up and down and all around the facilities and explaining the available resources and services.

Thanks also to Sherry Good for inviting us all into the "Friends of the Library" room and outlining the numerous ways the Friends can help support our school libraries--and also for sending so many of us away with armfuls of books. 
The Friends of the Library is a magnificent organization made up of extraordinary folks. 

A great way to support the Friends is to attend their seasonal sales. 
The next sale is coming up December 5th-7th. 
Here's a link for all the details: https://www.natronacountylibrary.org/support-us/friends/

27 October 2019

Better Late...

Here are pictures of our House Painting (mis)adventures this past season.

Took us 7-1/2 years to get around to painting the place.

Only took 1-1/2 months to share the photographs.




Not too shabby for not knowing a lick about paint and painting.

Thanks to Jereco Cleaning Systems for the advice, equipment, and assistance.

29 September 2019

Crest Hill Celebration

I am astonished and honoured at how Crest Hill students and staff helped celebrate my Outstanding Librarian of 2019 from the Wyoming Library Association.

I'll never be able to hear "O, My Darling Clementine" in the same way for the rest of my days.

Here's a link to the story:
Oil City News Article
My 2nd Grade Twins

09 August 2019

2019 WLA Outstanding Librarian

I am honoured to be recognized as 2019 Outstanding Librarian 
by the Wyoming Library Association.

24 July 2019

Rocket Builders Celebrating Apollo

This Summer, of course, marks the 50th Anniversary of Apollo 11.

To commemorate the mission, let's bookend today's anniversary of perhaps the most vital part of the mission--returning safely to Earth--with last week's anniversary of the initial launch.

On July 16th, the Natrona County Public Library, in conjunction with the Casper Planetarium, hosted children on the lawn to build their own rockets to celebrate the launch of Apollo 11.

While there, my children and my niece were interviewed on the news!
My son and daughter on the evening news...alongside their cousin with the evil stare!

Here's a photograph of the rockets they built:

They really zoom!

22 July 2019

Wyoming Library Leadership Institute - 2019

This year's Wyoming Library Leadership Institute focused on the future of the Institute: how to ensure its services keep progressing and how to strengthen its impact on communities throughout Wyoming and beyond.

Past Graduates collaborated on fortifying the Institute's mission, vision, and organizational structure, its communication strategies, its regional networking capabilities, and its prospects for funding.

As a team, we established a firm foundation for carrying such vital work forward, in order to make certain the Institute continues to help librarians all across Wyoming lead their communities toward excellence.

It wasn't two days of constant work, of course. We had the chance to meet up with old acquaintances and meet new friends from Institutes across the years. Also, Jep Enck of Enck Resources facilitated some intriguing discussions, helping attendees examine their leadership acumen and strategize methods for sharpening their skill sets as leaders in all sorts of situations. 

Our collated collection of librarians also had the opportunity--after enjoying dinner at Pizza Carrello--to take a walking tour of downtown Gillette and learn some of its fascinating history from Mary Kelley of the Campbell County Historical Society, topping off the evening with ice cream and ghost stories!

Our appreciation to Campbell County Public Library for hosting, also to La Quinta of Gillette for putting up us out-of-towners.

Special thanks to Johanna Tuttle for all her hard work in coordinating this year's Institute!

And as always, thanks to Chris Van Burgh for her inspiring dedication to the Institute and to Wyoming's Libraries and Librarians!

Photograph courtesy of Chris Van Burgh
(And taken by a gracious employee of the Campbell County Library whose name I did not quite catch...
but later found out was Kevin Kauffman.)

30 June 2019

Share and ShareAlike

My wife and I attended a workshop this past week in Cody, initiated by the Wyoming Department of Education. Its main focus was getting educators together to collaborate in the creation and curation of Open Educational Resources, particularly resources specific to Wyoming.

Teachers and students, stakeholders and community members have now the opportunity to create, share, remix, customize, improve, and renew all manner of resources in the educational setting, from supplemental materials such as books, worksheets, and other multimedia items, to lesson plans, to whole units, and even to entire curriculum maps. It's Pinterest meets Teachers Pay Teachers, except all resources are open and free, in addition to being reliably collected and curated by leaders in the field of education.

It proved to be quite an engaging workshop, and we are excited to become involved in such a promising initiative for teaching and learning.

Here are links for more information:

Open Range - Wyoming's OERs

Open Range Wyoming - Wyoming Department of Education

However, because of the openness of such resources, the workshop we attended thoroughly investigated proper licensing and attribution procedures along with a helpful look at accessibility. Now, I have studied copyright and fair use principles, and I have taught them to students. But the workshop truly helped to clarify a few points as well as to provide a few resources that will help me in practice and in instruction.
Even here on this blog, I've provided links to open resources--usually photographs that I've used--but I've employed mere lazy linking rather providing ideal attribution. No more. I aim to practicce what I preach. From here on, I'll be sure to do my best at including right and proper attributions on my resources.

Here's a prime example:

How to give attribution

Here is a photo. Following it are some examples of how people might attribute it.
This is an ideal attribution
Creative Commons 10th Birthday Celebration San Francisco” by tvol is licensed under CC BY 2.0

For more information, visit this set of links to the Creative Commons:

About the Licenses

Share Your Work

Use and Remix

Search the Creative Commons


Creative Commons License
Day Dreamer Weblog by Devin Hodgins is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.
Based on a work at https://devinhodgins.blogspot.com/.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at https://devinhodgins.blogspot.com/.

23 May 2019

Winter Ethereal - Arch / Matheos

This is not a review; it's a recommendation:

Winter Ethereal by Arch / Matheos

Get the album and listen to it.

Here's the link:

All I can say about the music on Winter Ethereal is it's so powerful that ever since it was released, wide swathes of the country--including here in Wyoming--have been experiencing an otherworldly resurgence of Winter. 
Ice, frost, snow. Wind wailing cold and hollow. Grey clouds hanging as a heavy veil all over the horizon. 
The Seasons seem to be spiraling away. (I was mowing while it was snowing the other day. Mowing while it was snowing!) 
Indeed, the rebirth of the world has arisen this year still cast in the far-falling shadow of the season past, the season of loss, of being lost, of wandering onwards, of seeking and finding the way beyond--which, incidentally, are just a few of the themes flowing throughout the music.
Spring will blossom. That promise will always be fulfilled. But as memories are forever tethered to music, and music together with memories, I will forever remember first hearing Winter Ethereal during these cold, ghostly days this spring. How wondrous the prospects are of listening to it across other seasons yet to be.

Anyhow, again, I do not intend to describe here my impressions regarding this new music nor even praise the laudable musicians, along with all the others involved. I'm still too astonished.

Rather, allow me to direct folks to the words of Mark Cubbedge, a photographer and writer based out of Florida. (Also a genuinely nice fellow and talented artist whom I was honoured to meet a few years ago at Prog Power in Atlanta.) I can't say much more.
Maximum Metal Reviews - Mark Cubbedge

I will, nevertheless, write a word of thanks to John Arch and Jim Matheos for sharing their music. Once more, my thanks, in every measure, for every measure.

28 April 2019

Young Authors - Again

Here they are once more: our Young Authors. 
Both won first place at the district level and both received honourable mentions at the state level.

O, if only I were half the writer they are...

30 March 2019

To The Wyoming State Library

I finally made it to the Wyoming State Library!

Nearly forty-three years of living here in this state, and I've never been there before.
(Of course, I've never been to Yellowstone National Park either. People travel from all across the world to visit the place. It's in my own backyard. I could conceivably walk there, but I simply haven't yet bothered. I've always felt bad about that--but not quite bad enough to break down and visit.)

Anyway, last autumn, the State Library put out a bulletin that an array of overstocked books was available free to Wyoming's librarians. All we had to do was make some selections and then find a way to retrieve them.

I made my selections, but I kept missing my chance to go get them. I wanted to drive down myself but just couldn't cram a trip into my schedule. I also missed a few opportunities for fellow librarians visiting Cheyenne to haul them back for me. Winter soon arrived, and I abandoned the notion of making the trip until fairer weather cleared the highways. The patient folks at the State Library continued holding onto my books all the while.

Well, this past week was Spring Break for us. I finally took the opportunity to drive down to Cheyenne to get my books. In fact I took my family with me. Anyway, I walked into the library, and the receptionist greeted me with a couple of boxes labeled with the name of my school library. Fantastic! But never having visited the State Library before, I wished to have a look around. I hadn't wandered far before a nice lady walked by, glanced my way, and then smiled. It was Chris Van Burgh. I had met her last summer at the Wyoming Library Leadership Institute. She showed us around a bit. Then she asked if I would like some boxes of Zoo Books they were looking to give away for free. She scrambled around to find Danielle Price, along with Thomas Ivie--both fellow graduates from Last summer's Institute--who then loaded me and my kids down with Zoo Books.

Truly, it was a heartening visit. Imagine: I walked into a library I had never, ever visited before, and I was greeted by a group of librarians who knew me and welcomed me and my family to their library, the library for all Wyoming's citizens. Indeed, I plan to revisit far more often.

My thanks to Chris Van Burgh, Danielle Price, Thomas Ivie, as well as to Abby Beaver and Jessica Dawkins, and to all at the Wyoming State Library.

As I stated, I went with the family. We made a day of it. After the State Library, we visited the State Museum (another state facility I had never before entered). We visited Children's Village, part of Cheyenne's Botanical Gardens.Then we drove over to Laramie to visit our college student, working hard in only her second semester at the University.

On the road to Laramie, we stopped and saw Russin's Lincoln Head along I-80. A striking sculpture gazing down with a not altogether curious attitude. ( I wish I had not read just that morning a review of the monument that mentioned its odd resemblance to Captain Pike from Star Trek--an image I could not dispel from my mind.)

Those who know of Captain Pike from Star Trek,
tell me the comparison is not somehow strangely appropriate.

I look forward to my next trip to Cheyenne and to the Wyoming State Library.

(And to think, my wife wanted to go to Bora Bora for spring break!) 


28 February 2019

Thank Goodness For Rejection

Going over a few pieces from my distant past, comparing and contrasting them to my more recent work, I am pleased at some of the growth evident in much of my writing. My work is now more concise. My language is less flowery. I have dropped a few bad habits and stylistic foibles.
For instance,  it's apparent I once used a whole lot of he saw, she heard, I think--unnecessary constructions that hamper the focus on the point of view, disconnect the reader from the character, and damage the flow of the narrative. Also, I often fell into the pretentious trap of choosing stilted, seemingly impressive synonyms when a simpler word would have been more appropriate, more effective, more powerful. Contrived plot points, lazy escapes, and shallow characterizations marked much of my prose--and even many of my poems!

Indeed, I read back and wonder: How could I have ever written such drivel?

Nevertheless, I am thankful.

I am thankful that every old piece of writing was--and is--a learning experience. 
I am thankful to reflect and to recognize growth and to have the opportunity to keep improving.
I am thankful that every word helps pave the path of progress.

And I am thankful that most of those old pieces were never published!

I could "plaster the walls" with rejections slips: scores of standard form rejections from Realms of Fantasy and Asimov's and so forth, along with the periodic encouragements from Van Gelder. Each rejection was a disappointment when I received it.  Soon, though, they would all transform into an incitement to do better. 
Yet, as keenly as I ever wished for my writings to be published, I'm glad now that they weren't.
Once a piece is published, that's it. It's finished. The words remain on the page. 
So now, each and every one of those rejections has come to serve as a preservation from embarrassment.
I shudder to think of anyone ever reading my early work as I originally wrote it.

Yet, a handful of those old pieces just might be worth revisiting and revising. If I do end up submitting a few rewritten works, I sure hope I can avoid being thankful ever again for their rejection.

30 January 2019

Another Theme to Explore

I have read it to be said that most writers work on a small handful of major themes over their careers. A couple few main ideas that they explore, even if through various avenues.

I don't mean writers who rarely venture out of their familiar genres. And I'm sure we could compile an impressive list of eclectic authors whose work runs across a whole host of disparate themes.

Yet, for instance, take Asimov, one of the most prolific, expansive writers I can think of off the top of my head. Was not an overarching theme of much of his work the exploration of intelligence? 

Look at Gaiman, a writer who--seems to me, at least--has reached the pinnacle of literary success: the ability to explore any idea in any form and expect it to reach a receptive audience. Perhaps even he might have a limited, though reliable, collection of themes--Curiosity, Loss, Uncertainty, Natural and Supernatural Wonder.

I've been writing for a little over a score now. It seems that most of my work--prose, poetry, even journaling--deal with the themes of Dream and Fate and Time. Many of my pieces--early on as well as recent--continue to explore ideas such as fantasy and reality, predestination, memory, expectation, the past and the future and the presence abiding between and beyond. I anticipate delving even further into such realms of wonder with stories and poems I have yet to write.

Nevertheless, since studying library science and becoming a school librarian, not only does it appear that much of my work is aimed at younger and younger readers, but it also seems that another theme keeps turning up in my own humble collection: that of information literacy.

Again and again, the notion of locating, evaluating, and using information shines brightly through in  the pieces I have been developing lately. It's exhilarating--also a wee bit frightening--to consider that I might be expanding my literary horizons. 

So it seems, for me, uncharted territory beckons.