Friday, April 25, 2008


Today was the big District spelling bee, and wow, was it ever exciting!

Emma was in Division I (grades 1-5), which went first. They sat at big tables in front of the audience and had to write down 30 different words. They were given approximately 10 seconds per word.

After that first round, they announced that a tie breaker was needed between five of the kids. I nearly fell off my chair when they called Emma as one of the five! They were given five words and their papers were checked right there and then, leading to a second tie breaker between, you guessed it, Emma and another girl. Thank goodness there weren't any more tie breakers because I'm not sure I would have survived. Emma, on the other hand, wasn't nervous at all. I think to her, it's just fun to go and spell words.

The result: Emma won 3rd place in her division and got the very cool little trophy you see above! The audience let out a collective gasp when they announced that she's only in Third Grade and I think everyone was excited to see her do well. Her teacher was there to encourage her and give her a sense of security, and the principal from her school was there, too.

Way to go, Emma, we're proud of you!

By the way, if you look closely at the trophy picture, you'll see that it says Division II, grades 6-8. They messed up the plaques on the trophies and are going to get new ones for all the kids.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Addiction can be a good thing

when it involves writing poems! Yep, another 30 has gone by. Here's the titles from Round 16:

1. From the Windshield of a Rusty Truck
2. And the Trees are Beginning to Bud
3. White Flag
4. Hirsute
5. A Tiger's Hand
6. Fort Union
7. A Stink Like Rotten Eggs
8. An Easter Confession
9. Refraction
10. Featherweight
11. A Cowgirl's First Kiss
12. One Minute, Please
13. Pétit
14. Cape Foulweather
15. Like a Lion
16. How to Identify Human Bone in the Field
17. What Does the Wife Imagine (cento)
18. Residual
19. A Billboard for Soap
20. If Barbie were a dress shop girl
21. Vignette
22. Siren
23. Seventy-Six Hours after the Funeral
24. An End to Sunlight
25. Spring Has Come
26. Forgetting to Say Goodbye
27. Vim
28. All the Things We Might Have Said
29. shine a light, little moon
30. a reason for children

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Put a poem in your pocket

and share it with the world. As part of National Poetry Month, today is poem in your pocket day. Carry a copy of your favorite poem and share it with others.

This one has been a favorite of mine since I was at least 5 or 6 years old:

Table Manners - I

The Goops they lick their fingers,
And the Goops they lick their knives,
They spill their broth on the tablecloth -
Oh, they lead disgusting lives!

The Goops they talk while eating,
And loud and fast they chew,
And that is why I'm glad that I
Am not a Goop – are you?

By Gelett Burgess, published in Goops and How to Be Them: A Manual of Manners for Polite Children. This book was originally published in 1900 and I absolutely loved it as a child. At one point, I had every single poem memorized.

Not only are the poems great, but the illustrations are utterly charming as well:

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Letting It Out

I haven't mentioned it here on the blog, but the past six months have been incredibly stressful here. In mid-October my husband found out at work that his entire group was being outsourced to another country. Every single one of them was going to be laid off because their jobs were being given to people in Costa Rica who would work for much less. This is not unusual. It's happening all over our country. I think it's a travesty. No wonder our economy is tanking.

In any case, we were suddenly left with impending unemployment hanging over our heads. At least it wasn't immediately impending - the layoff wasn't going to take effect until June. Still, to announce this shortly before Thanksgiving and Christmas was pretty lousy. We've been living with a lot of uncertainty since then, not knowing where we'd be living, if we'd have an income. I'm not a big fan of change. I like a good routine. I like the familiar.

We considered moving to Idaho where my folks live and Dennis even went so far as to attend a job fair there. He had calls from at least a couple of companies afterward, but nothing real materialized. And he talked to people he knows, putting out feelers for potential jobs, trying to get a heads up on anything that might be coming along. At his current company, his status was called 're-deployment' which means he was losing his position but could try to find another elsewhere within the company. It sounds oddly military, doesn't it?

Some of you will remember when I wrote about Dennis going to Costa Rica for two weeks back in February. He was training his own replacement. Don't even get me started on that. It was supposedly a great thing, created by management to extend his group's employment. Whatever. Recently he also had his year-end performance review. It went incredibly well. He was given a promotion and a quite sizable raise. Just in time to be laid off!

In the past few weeks, he's had several interviews for jobs within the company, but even though he kept ending up among the top choices, he was never picked for an offer. This past week, he had two more. One of them called and asked if he could interview immediately. They met on Thursday and by the end of the work day, he'd been offered the job. He accepted it on Friday.

The suddenness, the sense of relief, the weight lifting from our shoulders, has been overwhelming. Now we can relax, knowing we won't have to move. We won't have to try to sell our house in an impossible real estate market. Our kids can stay near their friends and near all the things we love about this place.

I realized on Thursday night after the offer came that I had been holding my breath for the past six months. It feels great to finally let it out.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Latest Arrivals

The new issue of Quarter After Eight includes my flash "Witch." This is a beautiful (and quite thick) annual devoted to short prose writing, with a particular emphasis on work that treads the middle ground between flash and prose poetry.

Cadenza is a slim magazine from the UK that features plenty of high quality writing. Poetry editor Bill Conelly has put together a fantastic selection of poems under the heading Bard Attitude and I'm delighted to have my own poem "The 13th Rosicrucian Poem for Love and Hope is Just Another Pickup Line" included.

If you get the chance to pick up either of these magazines, I encourage you to give them a try.

Saturday, April 05, 2008


We just found out this week that Emma won the school spelling bee for grades 1-5!

She beat out two fifth graders in the final round.

Later this month she'll get to compete against the winners from all the other schools in the district.

We're not surprised - last year, in 2nd grade, Emma's teacher resorted to spelling lists for high schoolers and finally gave up even trying to find words to challenge her.

Friday, April 04, 2008

Self Storage

A couple of weeks ago, Kelly Spitzer interviewed Gayle Brandeis, author of Fruitflesh: Seeds of Inspiration for Women Who Write, Dictionary Poems, and The Book of Dead Birds. If you haven't already read it, go now - it's a great interview that will inspire and encourage all writers. As part of the interview, Kelly and Gayle offered readers a chance to win a signed copy of Gayle's latest novel Self Storage by leaving their own story about self storage in the comments. I'm pleased and very surprised (there were some amazing entries) to say that I was the winner! You can read my story "For Safekeeping" below. Thanks to both Kelly and Gayle!

For Safekeeping

The thumbs were the first to go. Her mother’s largest thimble served as casket for both and at the age of five Salida put away her babyhood. Later, she would also sacrifice her lush eyebrows and that beautiful nose of flesh and gristle to the whispers of her classmates. They went in the dustbin after school. When her father burned the trash on Sunday, Salida watched her brows rise on the smoke, tumbling together like castanets thrown into the sky.

The priest claimed her breasts with his awkward insistence on purity. As she packed them in salt and brown paper, Salida wondered how the Virgin had ever suckled an infant. The mole under her lower lip, her long black hair that reflected light like a spider’s eyes. Even the secret dimple on her back where Pedro used to place his thumb. One by one, Salida surrendered pieces of herself. She swept them onto the porch, watching them fly into the night like dust returning to the stars. She filled glass jars and small spaces under the floor boards. She wrapped them in scarves behind the socks.

Salida’s granddaughter found the first fragment. It was a strip of slender wrist wrapped in silver wire. Salida flashed it like a dancer flaunting her grace. She had thought such things were lost. She had forgotten herself. Soon more pieces were uncovered: an earlobe, pierced and hung with a dangling loop. Hands and calves. A smiling mouth. Thumbs. Salida had found herself.