Poetry Friday: My Summer Room

I am inspired today by Joy Acey’s magical Eco-tour of the Amazon. She invites us to write about our room.

Summer Room

In summer,
the patio
is our family room.
the sun breaks
the sequoia sentinel.
sip morning nectar
I sip green tea and honey
the sun dances
Douglas firs
I look up
from my book
as tiny wrens
flit here, flit there
Time to nap
with the lullaby
of finches.
the sun
casts long shadows
over the rooftop
return for their
Evening cocktail
with gossip of the day

What are you favorite rooms?

Poetry Friday is at Paper Tigers

Happy Reading


Poetry Friday: Summer Break

It’s the first Friday of summer break. While school got out last Friday, I was busy with school related activities through Wednesday so yesterday was the true first day of summer break.

I offer up a list poem about summer and my plans:

Summer Break

Try to make each day last longer
Collect paint samples
Discover a new BBQ joint
Eat lunch that acts like dinner
Write and revise
Head to Idaho
Experience small town Americana
Fireworks light the sky
Watch the crocosmia bloom
Invite hummingbirds to sip its nectar
Play at the coast with grand girls
Sunsets, fire, and s’mores
Paint the bedroom
Write and revise
Attend Camp Odell
Reconnect with college friends
Gather garden delights
Scatter beads
until they create a necklace or bracelet
Write and revise
Try to make each day last longer

What are your summer plans?

Amy of The Poetry Farm hosts Poetry Friday today.

Poetry Friday:

Today from Susan Taylor Brown whom I interviewed on WEDNESDAY.

From Susan:This is a poem I wrote about my experience of having a hummingbird build a nest in my backyard, lay two eggs, and then, have the eggs stolen from the nest just before they were due to hatch. The experience took place across a few short weeks and absolutely broke my heart.


13 Ways of Looking at a Hummingbird


wings whirl

in place

my face



tiny dancer







greengold glitters glides

lands atop the waterfalls

shimmy shakes

a water dance



spider silk

blades of grass



one gray hair

two red threads

building blocks

a mini mansion



picture pose

turn left

now right

chin up

hold still

I’ll keep my distance


in out

out in

tall wall

soft floor

ready wait

wait some more

egg one

egg two


each morning

each evening

I check

just in case



the plum tree a

perfect preening place

ruffled nest feathers

bugs picked flicked

feathers smoothed

stretch once

stretch again

bask in the sun

before babies come


stormy days

stormy nights



forgetting generations

that came before

I worry

flashlight in hand


she disappears deep

within the overgrown honeysuckle

seeking bugs

protein power

for motherhood


I measure

one nest

one half a walnut shell

one egg

one jellybean

one miracle

waiting to happen



my days equal






my days equal




camera ready

I await her homecoming

hidden only slightly behind the fence

fifteen minutes

two hundred photographs

my mini model

is a star



morning comes


no mama snug atop her nest

no tiny eggs safe and sound

no babies waiting

to say hello world

sometime between

the darkness and dawn



overcast and gray

rain soon

but I am stubborn

searching beneath the bushes

until I find evidence

until I find a tiny white shell

until it hits me

miracles don’t always come true






camera clicks

shot after shot after shot

most will be out of focus

unable to capture the pain I feel

at all the days that should have been ahead

suddenly suspended beside me

close enough to almost touch

no chirp

no cheep

no chitter

she hovers there

ten seconds maybe more

just long enough

to say goodbye


 —Susan Taylor Brown, all rights reserved


Thank you, Susan. I so love hummingbirds and feel your loss with Lucy and her nest.


Poetry Friday is at A Year of Reading.

School’s out today.  Happy Reading.



Interview Wednesday: Susan Taylor Brown

 Today I’m interviewing Susan Taylor Brown, author of Hugging the Rock. Susan regularly posts for Poetry Friday, participated in the March Poetry Madness and created different prompts for National Poetry Month.  She’s here today for Interview Wednesday.

Your Reading Life

 MsMac: What books are on your night stand?

 STB: I read so fast that this changes almost daily. Right now there’s a pretty tall stack on the floor by the bed including, Art of Bird Photography by Arthur Morris, A Little More About Me by Pam Houston, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life by Barbara Kingsolver, Best American Essays 2011, New and Selected Poems, Volume One by Mary Oliver, Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 3 – The Missing FAQ by Victoria Bampton,

Understanding Exposure and Understanding Shutter Speed, both by Bryan Peterson and Because of Winn-Dixie by Kate DiCamillo (A frequent reread for me.)

 MsMac: What was your favorite book as a child? As a teen?  As an adult?  What particular genre stands out?

 STB: As a child I think my favorite book was The Five Little Peppers and How They Grew. I wanted to be a part of a big family so much and I just loved how they seemed to work and love together no matter what. As a teen I went through my “in love with anything about the holocaust” period with The Diary of Ann Frank being a favorite, followed by a “I’m depressed and no one else has ever felt like I do period” with Lisa Bright and Dark being one I read over and over again which led me to falling in love with poetry and carrying around a copy of a Rod McKuen or e.e. cummings book everywhere I went.

 We didn’t have young adult fiction as a genre when I was young but I’m sure I would have been obsessed with it had it been around then. I don’t fall into one particular genre all the time. I tend to cycle, gorging on middle grade and young adult fiction, nibbling on poetry, feasting on non-fiction about plants and gardens and photography.

 MsMac:  I hear you about YA genre not being around when I was that age.  Where’s your favorite reading spot?

 STB: What time of day is it? During the day, out back on the patio where I can watch the birds and listen to the water. If it’s too hot or it’s wintertime, I’m in the rocker in my office. In the evenings I curl up in bed. Mid-day, I’m on the couch in my library, when it’s cold in there, I’m sitting by the fireplace.

 MsMac: There are rapid changes in the world of publishing now that tablets/ereaders and such are in the market in a big way? What are your thoughts about ereaders versus a book? Do you have an ereader?

 STB: I don’t think we can ignore the idea of ereaders. They aren’t going anywhere and today’s kids are growing up much more technically savvy than previous generations. But I don’t think about the form of the story when I’m writing so I guess I don’t think about them much. I don’t have an ereader yet. Partly because I’m not interested- I love the feel of paper too much- and partly because I’m terrified of going broke because it would be too easy for me to click and buy too many books. I have little willpower when it comes to book buying.


 Your Writing Life

 MsMac: What does a day of work look like for you? What is your favorite time of day to write?

STB: I’m a bit of a social media junkie (way too many years working alone) so the first thing I do is check my email and check in on Facebook. A workday depends a lot on what I’m working on and what stage I’m at with the project. In the brainstorming stage I’ll usually wander around the house and yard with a notebook and a pen jotting down various ideas and playing around with them.

If I’m a bit further in the process, like with the YA verse novel I’m working on right now, I’ll park myself on the couch in the library with the laptop on my lap and power write on and off throughout the day.

It’s usually about 45 minutes of writing and then 10-15 minutes to get up, let the dog out, wander around the garden, come back in, and repeat.  That usually takes me from about 10am to about 4pm. Somewhere in the middle I take a longer break for lunch and catching up on emails. I’m often back at work after dinner but with lighter tasks like early revision or more brainstorming.

 My favorite time to write, especially when I am coming to the end of work on a novel, is really from about 2pm – 6pm with a second round from about 9-11pm.

 MsMac: Writing the first draft or revising? Which is your favorite?

STB: Revising! Oh how I hate the blank page. Getting started takes me forever but I love to revise and can spend hours reworking a single paragraph. I think the heart comes to the page with those initial writing bursts but beauty and clarity is found in the revision process.

MsMac: What does your writing space look like?


STB: I love my office! It’s the second largest room in the house, next to our library. It’s split into two sections, one for writing and one for making art and has a wall of patio doors facing the backyard. No matter where I sit in I can always see at least one of the three water features the birds frequently visit. There are French doors leading from our library to my office. The room is furnished with an antiques including an oak teacher’s desk where I have my large monitor set up, an oak library table for art making, an old set of wood file cabinets and even an antique oak library cart which holds some of my art supplies.

MsMac: What are your current projects?

 STB: I’m working on a young adult verse novel inspired by the series of poems I wrote for National Poetry Month 2011. I have never known my father or much about him so I spent the month writing poems about how that affected me as a child. By the end of the month, with the help of a friend who does genealogy research, I was able to locate some of my father’s family. He was already dead but I got to talk to both of my aunts before they died and learned about my sister and two brothers as well. The book I’m working on is not our story but it is inspired by the emotional journey.

 You can read those father poems here:


I am also working on a middle grade prose novel about a boy learning about native plants while trying to work out his own peculiar family dynamics.

MsMac:  What advice do you have for poets of any age?

 STB: Read the kind of poetry you like to write. Then read the kind of poetry you don’t think you like because you might surprise yourself. Learn forms, not necessarily all of them, unless that intrigues you, but understanding of some poetic forms will help you build foundations for your poetry. Keep a list of metaphors. Beth Kephart advises writing five metaphors a day. I haven’t managed that consistently yet but I know that when I attempt it more regularly, my poems improve.

 If you’re having trouble getting started you can take a look at my series called Kick the Poetry Can’ts designed to help new or tentative poets of all ages start having fun writing poetry.


 MsMac:  What might readers find you doing when you’re not writing?

 STB: I’ll probably have a camera in my hand since I have fallen in love with taking photographs of my native garden and the many birds who come to visit. If I’m not taking photos, I might be puttering around in the garden. We took out the lawns and converted our small suburban yard to a California native garden wildife habitat which I have documented on my garden website. http://www.poppiness.com/  I often work on one of the patios with the camera by my side.

 If I’m not taking photos or enjoying the garden I’m probably doing some kind of art. I’m a mixed-media artist with a special love of working in collage form.

          Just for Fun

 MsMac: Chocolate:  Dark or milk?

STB: Milk.

 MsMac: Coffee or tea?

STB: Coffee

MsMac: Dance: funky chicken or the tango?

STB: Tango

MsMac: Favorite Quote:

STB:  love quotes so I have scads of them on the computer, on the bulletin board, on my desk, and in journals. This one is a favorite I come back to again and again:

 “It always comes back to the same necessity:  go deep enough and there is a bedrock of truth, however hard.”  — May Sarton

 Oh to have a library and office like that.  So amazing!  On Friday, I wil share a poem by Susan Brown Taylor for Poetry Friday.  See you then. 

Interview Wednesday is Booktalking.

Happy Reading.


48 HBC: Final Update

Last night I read:

A Long Walk to Water by Linda Sue Park (on of my favorite authors)

The PS Brothers by Maribeth Boelts

I liked both of these books.

I started 13 Treasures and will finished but yawning caught up with me so I went to sleep.

Today I read Inside Out and Back Again by Thanhha Lai. Loved. This. Book.

Total Hours: 18 hours (joint reading and book activities)
Total Pages: 1143 pages
Total Books read : 6.75 books

I fell short of my goal. Reading was slow.  Unplanned projects needed my attention. One being that the weather is great and I have to get garden plants turned in.

If I read anymore before 8 PM I will correct the totals. UPDATE:  I started The Book of Elsewhere after planting the garden and read 117 pages.  The totals are now correct.

Happy Reading.


48HRC: Update

Here it is eight hours later from my last post.  Reading is slow, mainly because I managed to fall off into a nap and my dog, Buster was interrupting me to find is ball from under the couch and coffee table

Total Hours: 12 hours (joint reading and book activities)
Total Pages: 546 pages
Total Books read: 3 books

Tonight’s goal is reading two more books read at least and start on a sixth book.

I read two books on the readers’ choice awards list: Theodore Boone because it’s on the list. Thought ending was abrupt. I am not sure how my fourth and fifth graders will like it.

I also read Masters of Disaster by Gary Paulsen.  Think some  boys will enjoy it.

Next up:

A Long Walk to Water by Linda Sue Park (on of my favorite authors)

The PS Brothers by Maribeth Boelts

13 Treasures by Michelle Harrison

Back to Reading.


48 Hours of Reading

It’s the seventh annual 48 Hours of Reading Extravaganza developed by Pam of Mother Reader.  I remember the first year, it was gloriously sunny and I planted myself in the backyard to read.  I really haven’t had another weekend like that since our weather in the Pacific Northwest is fickled.

Last year’s stats:

Total Hours: 19.5 hours (joint reading and book activities)
Total Pages: 1373 pages
Total Books read: 7 books

This year’s goal:

Total Hours: 25 hours (joint reading and book activities)
Total Pages: 2000 pages
Total Books read: 10 books

I always use this weekend to read books for our to reader award lists I promote in the upcoming school year; the WA Sasquatch and YRCA. And there’s something about fickled-showery weather that makes it an easy time to read.

Last night I listened to Scumble by Ingrid Law on my way home.  We had dinner plans with friends and then to an opening of an art show by the daughter of a friend.  Upon returning home, I read As Simple as it Seems (which isn’t an award book but intrigued me by Sarah weeks.

So far:

Total Hours: 3 hours (joint reading and book activities)
Total Pages: 181 pages
Total Books read: 1 book

Off to read. 


Poetry Friday: William Yeats

For days, William B. Yeats has been floating in my mind. Particularly this poem:

The Lake Isle Of Innisfree

I WILL arise and go now, and go to Innisfree,
And a small cabin build there, of clay and wattles made:
Nine bean-rows will I have there, a hive for the honeybee,
And live alone in the bee-loud glade.
And I shall have some peace there, for peace comes dropping slow,
Dropping from the veils of the morning to where the cricket sings;
There midnight’s all a glimmer, and noon a purple glow,
And evening full of the linnet’s wings.
I will arise and go now, for always night and day
I hear lake water lapping with low sounds by the shore;
While I stand on the roadway, or on the pavements grey,
I hear it in the deep heart’s core.

Maybe it’s that school is a blurry buzz as we head toward the last day in a week. There’s a calm in thinking about a lake home where the water is lapping and glimmering at midnight.

Today begins 48 Hours of Reading so that means reading all weekend. Yippee. More details HERE.

Poetry Friday is at Jama’s Alphabet Soup.
Happy Reading.

SOLC: Tuesday School Play

This will be a quick slice of life tonight.  I just got home from the annual school play which I co-directed. So. Much. Fun. 

What makes it fun is that it’s 8-11 year olds, some for the first time on stage and for some of the fifth graders, their fourth time on stage.  And it’s unpredictable because some one forgets a line or the audio system messes up (like tonight) and their costumes are simple and home-made.

Tonight we did an encore performance of a play written by three fifth graders in 2008 when I was pursuing my national boards for teaching.  It’s about penguins, polar bears, and recycling.

More slices  found HERE.

Happy Reading.


Poetry Friday: National Donut Day

Today is National Donut Day.   This event started in 1938 by the Salvation Army to help the needy during the Depression while honoring women who served donuts to soldiers in World War I.

So to honor National Donut Day:

Which to choose:
French crueller, maple?
mouth waters
I bite into a morsel
toroidal heaven


What’s your favorite donut?

Poetry Friday is held at Carol’s Corner.

Happy Reading.