Archive for Non Poetry Ramblings

Troubling Days

There are indeed days when I feel like we are living in a very dark world.  This week started out this way.  Like many others, I was glued to my television set (and when I wasn’t near a television set, a computer) watching the news of the Boston Marathon bombing and the events that followed.  Locally, we had another tragic and horrific event where four men invaded a country home (located about a half hour from where I live) and killed the couple who lived there.

On the homefront, things haven’t been too much better.  I’m suffering from some health issues that aren’t going to kill me, but are making me uncomfortable and tired.  Our cat, Lola, had a setback this week, and once again, had to have a chest pump inserted into her chest cavity to drain fluid.  The vet is hopeful, and says that in cases like this, it’s not unusual to have to pump a cat’s chest three or four times before seeing results.  Lola is back home with us and seems happy and healthy — she’s eating and playing and resting in the sun.  When I look at her now, it’s hard to believe that two days ago, she could barely breathe.

So, as I’m writing this post, I’m looking forward to weeks of recovery — at the national level, at the local level, at our little home.  I have a colleague who told me that good heals pain faster than fear.  I know she is right.

Spring Has Sprung

Spring has arrived just in time! (So says the poet blogger rather sarcastically).  I’m back to the classroom tomorrow and looking forward to the whirlwind of April events, including JCC’s celebration of Earth Month.  The temperatures have warmed up, and the cats (Lola is holding her own.) are enjoying open windows and the outside drama of birds and bunnies and chipmunks.  Yes, it’s supposed to rain later today, but I will take the warm April showers, instead of frost and snow.

Stray Robin with Snow


Last week, my students were trying to convince me that yes indeed, they saw robins.  Having seen nothing but our usual winter birds (including the obnoxious Blue Jays that hang out in the pine trees in our back yard), I didn’t believe them.  But I saw a robin yesterday, while I was trying to maneuver through what I hope will be our last winter storm.  He did not look happy.

Still, I have to believe that Spring is in the air.  Even if we are under another Lake Effect Snow warning.  Even if I am wet and cold and the only sign of spring that I really see is an annoyed robin, who looks incredibly displaced in this world of slushy white.

A Month of Detours

February started off with a detour.  And I haven’t been able to get back on track (with either regular life or my own writing) since.

Yes, here in Western Pennsylvania/New York, we missed many of the big named snowstorms (Nemo, I’m talking about you!), but we’ve had our share of Lake Effect Snow.  At the start of the month, I had to battle many days of uneasy travel to my job, and one morning, I had to take a detour, because of an accident, through the icy Alleghenies.  The hills and farmhouses, covered in sparkling white snow, were beautiful.  The road was not.

Since that drive, I’ve had major projects to complete for school, a start of a new class, and more prep for my Modern Novel class, a course that I don’t get to teach very often and requires a lot of extra reading.  (Right now, we are finishing Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut — not my favorite, but my students love him!)

Then, there was a family member who had an accident (he is fine), an elderly father who was sick (he’s feeling better now), and a friend who was diagnosed with stage four kidney failure (he and his wife are coping).

Plus, we are dealing with a clogged drain that is causing some water in our basement (we are working on that issue…)

And…we are facing another storm that may make for another fun trip to work in the morning!

Still, I know, that like all detours, one eventually gets back on the original route towards his or her destination.  I want to find that route soon!

Arctic Blast

Here in Western Pennsylvania/New York, we are bundling up to get through the coldest weather we have had this winter.  In the last few days, I have been waking up to single digits with blowing wind and snow. I’m cold and grumpy. My colleagues are cold and grumpy.  My students are cold and grumpy.  I’m lucky that I just got a new battery in my car; otherwise, my car would be cold and grumpy too!

As soon as I warm up, I will be back to my regularly scheduled blogging!

The Good is There

In the last few days, Winter Storm Draco dumped about four inches of snow on us, just enough to make everything look pretty, just enough to cover the brown sludge that has covered our world. On the outskirts of town, snow has covered the split milkweed pods and cattail gone to seed that line the road. Dirty guardrails and road signs have been wiped clean. Yet, it’s sunny out today.  The sky is bright blue, the snow is glistening. It’s easy to believe that we could start anew.

When I went to the grocery store yesterday, the lines were crowded, but people were pleasant, as if suddenly realizing that shopping is a gift.  I saw two old friends embrace in the produce section (by the green peppers, if you want a specific image).

In front of our house, I saw a woman walk her little terrier.  The dog was wearing those plastic reindeer antlers and a Christmas sweater.  He looked very proud as he wagged his tail back and forth.  I had to laugh. (Small side note: no way would we ever get one of our cats to wear any sort of Christmas gadget. Nope. Not happening.)

When I drove through town early this morning, I saw kids pulling their sleds to the local sledding hill that is located about two blocks from where we live.  Their laughter made me smile. 

In spite of the recent tragic events, there are moments that make me believe that the world is essentially a good place. I’m not a romantic; indeed, Anthony calls me a pessimist (I prefer the term “realist”).  Still, when I stop and think about the good, I don’t have to think hard.  It’s there.

I will return after December 25 to post my “Best of 2012” book lists for the year.  Wishing all of my readers a safe and happy holiday season!

Belated Thanksgiving Wishes & Black Friday

Anthony and I celebrated Thanksgiving early this year.  Since he is a professional cook, he works on Thanksgiving, so we celebrated the day before.  Then, I traveled to my sister’s house yesterday to spend time with my family.  The weather has been gorgeous, with mild temperatures and a clear blue sky.  However, rumor has it that we are in for some Lake Effect Snow this weekend when the temperatures drop. We will see.  Here’s hoping that this post finds my readers recovering from a nice Thanksgiving…

…and perhaps recovering from Black Friday shopping as well.  I don’t do Black Fridays.  I worked retail for years and I saw how crazy people would get over what they perceived as great bargains.  To be honest, I am slightly dismayed to see more and more stores opening on Thanksgiving Eve.  I understand that buying may boost the economy a bit (maybe….), but I really do think we should give ourselves a break. Still, I know many families make Black Friday a family affair event, so maybe it’s our new way of celebrating?  There’s a big part of me that really, really hopes not.

Here’s to a quiet weekend of catching up on writing and school projects.  I have promised myself that I am going to clean out the spare bedroom, so that is another project that is in the works!

And Autumn Settles In….

I love the snap of color in Autumn, the bright yellow goldenrod, the orange  leaves, the red edges of Sumac.  Anthony doesn’t like  Fall because he says he knows “what’s coming” but I love this time of year. I love the weather, the colors, the food (yes, I have already drank my share of Apple cider for the year) Yesterday, when I drove home from work, I suddenly felt lucky.  Lucky to have a job, lucky to have my friends and colleagues at JCC, lucky to have my family, heck, even lucky to have my two happy and healthy cats (even if they tend to wake me up at 4 am). 

I’m even lucky to be grading.  (Did I just write that?).  I have been busy with piles of papers.  For the first assignment in my Writing About Literature class, I asked my students to write about their favorite book or their favorite children’s book.  I held my breath, waiting for their written responses, mostly because everyone says “No one reads anymore.”

I never really thought that statement was true.  After all, students probably don’t read what we as English Professors think they should be reading (Moby Dick, anyone?), but many of my students are reading.  Thankfully, no one mentioned Twilight, but many students did talk about Harry Potter, The Hunger Games, and other Young Adult dystopian novels.  For my readers who work with young people, you know that dystopia is the trend.  (See this article here) Since I too indulge in dystopian literature, I found some great book recommendations!

Back to School

Tomorrow, I’m back in the classroom.  It’s been a bit crazy the last few days — I’ve been preparing for my regular classes plus working on a new course I have never taught before.  Furthermore, I’ve been trying to finish up some summer projects, including writing two book reviews.  (Why, when I have the whole summer, do I wait until the last-minute to finish things? Could it be that I really do work best under pressure?) I’m ready to settle into a schedule, both a classroom and a writing schedule. I’m ready to get back into the groove.

June, Oh June

So far, my summer has been a series of self-imposed deadlines — some of them having to do with poetry, such as sending out submission packets and working on the poetry unit of my summer creative writing class.  But, I haven’t got a whole lot of new poems written.  To say that I’m in some sort of writing funk may be an understatement.  I am, however, hoping to change all that when I take off on Thursday to attend the annual Chautauqua Writers’ Festival.

In the meantime, I’ve been reading Young Adult Literature: From Romance to Realism by Michael Cart.  (This book is part of a future project where I hope to write a paper regarding working-class issues in young adult literature).  Cart offers an excellent history of young adult literature, so much so, that I’m feeling a bit nostalgic for my teen Harlequin/Wildfire/Sweet Valley High/Sunfire days.  He talks about the ups and downs of the young adult literary world including brief discussions about where young adult literature is going.  For those of you who may feel a twinge of the same sort of nostalgia I’m feeling, check out this cool website, (which is not affiliated with Cart — I just like it)

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