Archive for October, 2013

Related: do me a quick favor?

October 31, 2013 @ 8:36 am | Filed under: Bloggity

If you have a blog of your own, or a Tumblr or some other platform where you share things with the public (including a public FB page), would you share the link in the comments here? Even if you know I already know the link. 😉 (Other readers here may not.) I’d love to make sure none of my blog-friends are slipping through the cracks of my feed reader. Ever since I switched over to Feedly, I feel like something’s missing—even though I imported from Google Reader and all my subscriptions should be intact.

Feel free to tell us a little something about you and your site. But no pressure! I hereby declare Bonny Glen a certified Pressure-Free Zone.

Updated to add: your comments will probably get held up in moderation because of the links. Don’t worry if they don’t show up right away; just means I need to move them out of pending.

This one’s long enough to make up for the two weeks of silence

October 30, 2013 @ 4:10 pm | Filed under: Assorted and Sundry, Bloggity

geobug
So it seems I hit a little blog lull, quite unexpectedly. I write posts in my head every day, all through the day (it’s why I began blogging in the first place, you know: thinking in narrative is the way my brain has always, always worked)—but lately I seem prone to tossing a thought or a quip or a link onto Facebook instead of chronicling here. And yet I recoil, actually, from the idea of handing over one’s mental activity to the data-miners and the the rushing update stream. I have this looping conversation with myself over and over. If you blog and are also active on Facebook, I bet you know exactly what I mean.

On Facebook, people leave comments: that’s one point in its favor, part of its great appeal. And let me back up and say how much I love certain aspects of Facebook! I champion it often, when people are running it down for being shallow or negative. Facebook gave me what no other medium has: daily contact with my faraway cousins, my old school friends, my coworkers from jobs long past. Very precious contact, actually. Friendships rekindled and deepened. Road trips made merry (and potentially safer) by en route updates, with friends keeping tabs on us and inviting us to stop and stretch our legs as we made our way across the country and back. There are things Facebook can do that this blog cannot.

But: vice versa! Such riches I have tucked into the archives here—family treasures, I mean. Stories I’d certainly have forgotten, had I not recorded them here. A diary of sorts of our homeschooling journey. An annotated reading journal. A commonplace book, with pictures. Oh, I love this blog, what it’s given me. Including the friends: no small matter, that. Facebook reconnected me with old friends. Blogging gave me new ones, and I count those friendships as very real and rich indeed.

I don’t comment on your blogs nearly often enough. I’m still probably among your most faithful readers, though, did you know that? 🙂 I find myself reaching for the like button to let you know I’ve appreciated a post, am nodding my head at your insight or smiling at your joke. On Facebook people snark about the superficiality of ‘likes.’ I understand why, it’s quick and glancing, it’s not saying anything meaningful, it sometimes suggests an unfortunate endorsement of the wrong half of a sentence. (“I got an offer on a YA novel today! But then I fell and broke my leg.” Er, like? No, wait!) But that silly like button serves a purpose. I means I’m here, I’m reading this, I took note of what you said, I’m glad you shared. If I could click a button on Feedly to let you know I’d appreciated a post, you can bet I would. Clicking through to actually comment, now…oh, I wish I were better about it. Sometimes it’s captcha that deters me, or login technicalities. (Blogger gets very grumpy with me when I don’t want to comment as Melissa Wiley’s Official Data-Providing Google Account, which I loathe doing on friends blogs because I’m just Lissa to you, right? And I can never remember my WordPress login on blogs that aren’t mine.) But other times, a friendly comment is an easy click away and I still don’t take the time, because I’m probably reading your post on my phone, and I really really hate typing with my thumbs.

A Facebook update is much more likely to generate discussion these days, at least for me. Of course, Facebook is such a combustible stew of people from all one’s different worlds and walks of life—sometimes I cringe, seeing all my people jumbled up together that way. I’ve tried separating my personal and professional worlds there but it’s flat impossible. Colleagues become friends, and then what do you do? Make them switch accounts? Who can keep up with multiple accounts anyway? Not I.

All of this is musing without agenda: I simply thought I’d try thinking aloud here the way I did in the olden days of blogging. You know, way back in 2006.

For my own amusement, a few of the topics I’ve posted about on social media recently:

• geocaching, which has become our favorite pastime, and I could talk about it ENDLESSLY for HOURS (see one diabolically clever hiding place in the photo above—oh how we shrieked!)

• how I’ve started writing serious poems again, and I really miss my old grad-school poetry workshop mates and the close readings we used to do of our own poems and others

• Coursera classes I’m taking (alone or with various kids), and many many thoughts about how we use Coursera—and actually I have a long post half-written on that subject. It began here (is still in drafts) and spilled over to Facebook, and judging from that conversation I actually have a lot of practical information to share on the topic.

• related: gossip as a vital tool for human survival—one of the many fascinating points of discussion in the Coursera “Brief History of Humankind” class I’m taking, about which I have LOADS OF THINGS to say

• also related: the Coursera “Modern and Contemporary Poetry” course is wonderful and is going a long way to satisfy my ache for close readings, since each week’s lesson consists of video discussions (grad students and professor) of several different poems—one poem per fifteen(ish)-minute video, perfect for diving into in small chunks of time, which is all I have

• a mocking gripe about my internet service provider, not worth recording

• links to various articles, all of which I’ve shared in the sidebar here anyway

• my delight over the first sketches for Inch and Roly #3

• a picture of The Greatest American Hero, which generated more comments than anything else I’ve posted this month

• the sudden realization after all these years that in the Magic School Bus theme song, the guy is not actually saying “Make a sacrifice on Mars.”

• and in the comments of the above, the revelation that “the guy” is none other than Little Richard!!!

• an adorable photo of my boys

• Overheard, Rilla to Huck: “I’m going to teach you three things. The first one is Pounce, and it goes like this.”

Which is, it turns out, kind of a lot.

Greatest_American_Hero

Me thinketh that I shall rehearse it here

October 14, 2013 @ 5:09 pm | Filed under: Books, Fun Learning Stuff, Homeschooling

canterburypilgrims

The girls and I are having a good time with Chaucer. We’re making our way through the Prologue—slowly; this is a slow reading—using the Norton Anthology of Poetry because it’s conveniently marked up with my notes from college, as well as having decent footnotes to help us along with the Middle English. I was delighted to discover I could still quote the opening lines, thanks to my wonderful Medieval Lit prof, Dr. John Krause. Now Rose and Beanie are learning them, which makes me six kinds of happy.

I’m reading aloud relevant bits of Marshall’s English Literature for Boys and Girls for background and color, some of which gives us a good laugh, since Marshall feels compelled to reassure her young readers that she isn’t going to scandalize them with the unsavory stuff, but perhaps they will appreciate it in context when they are older. Today this led to a discussion of Victorian* sensibilities and occasional outbursts of “Your ankle is showing!” (Perhaps you had to be there. We were crying laughing.)

(*English Literature for Boys and Girls was published in 1909, so isn’t itself Victorian, but Marshall’s tone very often is, and amusingly so. “Some of these stories you will like to read, but others are too coarse and rude to give you any pleasure. Even the roughness of these tales, however, helps us to picture the England of those far-off days. We see from them how hard and rough the life must have been when people found humor and fun in jokes in which we can feel only disgust.” Er, no, Henrietta, I think a casual meandering through YouTube will make a strong case for the enduring appeal of “coarse and rude” content.)

This morning’s passage was some more of the prologue—we haven’t met all the travelers yet; we’re doing a slow reading—and then “The Complaynt of Chaucer to His Purse,” which my daughters, the offspring of two freelance writers, understood all too well. 😉 After we finish the prologue, we’ll read two Tales together. Chanticleer, I think, because the girls know it from the Barbara Cooney book and I expect they’ll enjoy hearing the original, and one other I haven’t decided upon yet. And then they can read the rest on their own, if they like.

My favorite part of our discussion today was in regard to Chaucer’s apologia for the Miller’s Tale:

What should I more say but this miller
He would his words for no man forbear,
But told his churls tale in his manner.
Me thinketh that I shall rehearse it here;
And therefore every gently wight I pray,
For Goddes love deem not that I say
Of evil intent, but for I might rehearse
Their tales all, be they better or worse,
Or else falsen some of my matter…

(To borrow Marshall’s translation, since I had the tab open already)

We talked about how every writer of fiction (and biography, memoir, many other forms) has to grapple with this same challenge, and how gratifying it is to me to see Chaucer dealing with it way back in the 14th century. Sometimes our characters must say and do things we, personally, find distressing or even offensive. This has been the hardest part of writing my current novel, actually. It’s historical fiction and though I wish my characters were more enlightened on several points, I must be true to the time, must let these people tell their stories authentically “or else falsen some of my matter.” One of the chief parts of my job is climbing inside these unfamiliar skins and attempting to walk some miles in them. I inch my way in and find Chaucer has already been there.

Adventure of English, take two!

October 5, 2013 @ 10:42 am | Filed under: Bloggity

Heard from two friends that yesterday’s post isn’t displaying the YouTube clip on iPad. Sorry about that! It’s visible on my laptop so I didn’t realize. 🙂 Here’s the direct link for those who missed it: The Adventure of English episode one: The Birth of a Language. We’re deep into episode two now and thoroughly enjoying ourselves.

Thanks for the heads-up, Ellie and Edith!

The Adventure of English

October 4, 2013 @ 7:15 am | Filed under: Books

On the homeschooling blog, I’ve mentioned a documentary Rose and I are enjoying the heck out of: the BBC’S The Adventure of English, a look at the history of the English language. I came across it while looking for the old PBS series, The Story of English (inspired by a book I read and loved in a college linguistics class), but this BBC doc looked even more fun. And it is! We’re glued to the screen. Here’s part 1:

It’s Cybils Nomination Time!

October 2, 2013 @ 3:32 pm | Filed under: Cybils

cybils2013Time to nominate your favorite children’s and YA books of the year (published October 15, 2012-October 15, 2013) for the Cybil Awards. Here’s how. I’m on the Fiction Picture Books first-round panel, so every book you nominate in that category, I’ll be reading.

Nominations close on October 15, so don’t miss the window!

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