Monday, October 20, 2014

Books I’m Reading 11

Walk a Hound, Lose a Pound: How you can Lose Weight, Stay Fit, and Have Fun Together by Phil Zeltman, and Rebecca A. Johnson. Zeltman is a veterinarian and Johnson is a professor. They discuss the benefits of getting enough exercise with your more than willing pet as often as possible. They provide suggestions, tips, and charts backing it with research about health for both humans and their dogs.

Phonics Pathways: Clear Steps to Easy Reading and Perfect Spelling by Dolores G. Hiskes is a great book with strategies and step by step examples of how to teach phonics. Having used the format when I taught elementary students, I can say it works well for building a good foundation for reading. 

The Silence Now by May Sarton is a fantastic collection of poetry. There were many poems I read over again because the words touched me emotionally.


The Collected Poems of Audre Lorde has a collection of some great poetry by a woman whose writings expressed lesbian and feminist thoughts.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Death as Metaphor 13: The Changing Metaphor

The role of metaphor is for the image/word to mean something other than what it is. Metaphors can change as they are applied to poems and they can change as the poet or reader see fit.

Poetry provides for alternative perspectives dependent on the time they were written. They are a reflection of society. For instance, Grace Nichols’ poem, “Tropical Death,” (http://nisababepraised.wordpress.com/2011/05/05/poem-of-the-week-tropical-death-plus-links/) plays up to the society she was raised in. It comments on how the speaker in the poem wants to be buried in her own country in the Caribbean where her roots originate rather than where she is in England.

As you read the poem, notice how the images play based on the words used to convey them. Witness the changes the metaphors go through as the poem progresses.

Further, a look at periodicals or advertisements claiming that there is the ‘death of the web,’ or the ‘death of literature’ or the ‘death of tax’ are examples of how death is used in the world.


Read W.S. Merwin’s poem, “For the Anniversary of My Death,” (http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poem/171868) and you will hear the voice of the speaker contemplating both his life and his death. He compares the two and concludes that death holds more meaning because it is infinite. Notice the changes the words go through.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Art 1: Abstract

                                                                                         M.Arana 1999

I was going through a stack of drawings from when I used to take a lot of art lessons to see if I could get my muse back and I ran into this abstract design. I remember putting this piece together and thinking about the human body in terms of the shapes. I really enjoyed the black and white contrast. I think the paper is about 22”x 24”.


Monday, September 29, 2014

Pet News 10: Oh, those Pearly Whites

We’re always so worried about our teeth that we don’t stop and think that our pets deserve them too.

As a guardian, it’s important to brush your dog’s teeth at least three times a week. Brush one tooth at a time. Cats can benefit in brushing their teeth, too.

Make sure you use toothpaste made for dogs (or cats). Do not use human toothpaste. Dogs can’t spit out the stuff and it could cause stomach upset.

On the days you don’t brush, you can rinse your dog’s teeth with water or purchase a special spray for the gums and teeth.

Make sure to take your pet to the veterinarian for a dental check-up and cleaning once a year, especially if you have been watching for signs of tooth decay and discoloration of the gums. 

Always start early when your pet is a puppy to get them used to brushing their teeth. Use your finger at first and do the motions as if using a dog toothbrush, then, wean the actual toothbrush.


Dogs love the attention. Just watch those fingers of yours!

Monday, September 22, 2014

Quote 10

Every individual matters. Every individual has a role to play. Every individual makes a difference.
-Jane Goodall

When I arrive to work, I think about how important it is to treat others respectfully, how everyone is important and has something of benefit to share.

Though, at times, we may find ourselves working with an individual who might make it difficult to acknowledge any of our input, we should behave in a well-mannered way.

Yet, when I get home and sit myself down to write, I know the characters I write are individuals, too. They matter as much as the people we come in contact with everyday do.

Our quest as a writer is to find what role each character plays in our stories. What kind of a difference do they make for our protagonist’s goals? What will they share? How do they behave? Where do they fit in the overall plot? How do they relate to each other?

Many more questions might enter your mind when creating these individuals. In a way, they come to life for us and help build a world.


After all, stories are a reflection of the world we inhabit. So, why not think of them as real?

Monday, September 15, 2014

Short Stories & Such: Retirement Party Food Fight

Retirement Party Food Fight

“Congratulations!”
Everyone cheered as I stepped into the staff lounge. All kinds of faces stared at me. Their little twinkling eyes and recently whitened teeth suffocated me.  My only salvation was the ridiculously huge banner’s reminder that it had been 40 years of the same job. God only knew I was ready to retire.
My coworkers, on the other hand, must have been glad to take some time off from their duties and throw this party’ cake and ice cream… the whole bit.
“Speech! Speech! Speech!”
Of course it was going to come to this. I might as well join the festivities and take this opportunity to thank everyone for their ongoing commemoration of the end of the line. I wasn’t going down alone, though.
“I’d like to thank each and every one of you for this joyous occasion. You don’t know how much it means to me to know there are people who will miss me.”
“Ahh, chucks!”
“Keep going Alexis!”
“Nevertheless, I want to repay you by telling a story. Please, bear with me.”
I looked around the room and I spotted him. How fitting it all seemed. The gray streaks of hair on the side of his temples circled toward the back like a skunk’s tail.
“There was a time that I believed everybody’s business was their own, until Facebook showed up and taught me otherwise.”
The mass laughed and clanged their glasses of ginger ale and soda.
“Learning to Google and all that has brought to my attention certain events I would rather forget… events where a certain individual posted photos of himself spanking a life size gorilla doll wearing the mask and underwear I designed for the advertisement shot a week later.”
Suddenly, the room fell quiet and all eyes met mine. It was not easy standing in front of everyone who confided in me for the past years, but this dark secret must be told.
“That individual is Mr. Ryan, our boss.”
They all turned to witness the reddening cheeks of Mr. Ryan.
“He ruined the chance for me to sell the contract and step up the ladder.”
Some shook their heads and skewed their faces in disgust. They understood.
Mr. Ryan backed away from the center and picked a sandwich from the snack table. He threw it in my direction. I ducked, but it hit the person in front of me. She turned and threw something back, then, everyone started a massive food fight. I hunkered in a corner while glasses were tossed high in the air. Only the sound of sirens echoing in the distance broke it up.
They found Mr. Ryan covered in lettuce, cream, and other pastries. If only my coworkers knew the truth. Mr. Ryan was not the sort of man to offend anybody, but it gave me great satisfaction to see he get his “just desserts” for making me retire before my prime. 




You can read the original version on Writer’s Digest under 'Chilo" for the February 28, 2012 Writing Prompt at http://www.writersdigest.com/prompts/retirement-party-food-fight

Monday, September 8, 2014

Books I’m Reading 10


Unforgettable by Loretta Elsworth is a novel about a teenage boy named Baxter Green who has a photographic memory and who remembers everything. Due to his gift, the mother’s boyfriend takes advantage of Baxter’s abilities and steals money from a bank. The Greens move to a new location where the man can’t find them, but that is where things get interesting...
 
Cy in Chains by David L. Dudley is a novel that takes place after the Civil War and is about an African American named Cy Williams who is wrongly accused of a crime and sent to live and work in a labor camp.

Real talk for Real Teachers by Rafe Esquith. Veteran teacher, Esquith, writes about the hard core truth about teaching and provides advice to become the best model students would ever have. He includes tips for trying something new every year, teaching students self-control, learning from mistakes, remaining calm, and finding your voice as a teacher. He also delves into the education system being flawed and that teachers have been portrayed as ‘bad’ before society by the media when it shouldn’t be. He even explains why he doesn’t believe everyone is equal and how we should think everyone deserves to be treated equally. Overall, great book!