A Heck Of A Challenge!

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The November Poem A Day Challenge (Poetic Asides via Writers Digest) is off to a  strong start – so far I’ve managed to keep up despite some pretty tough prompts. This week’s Two-For-Tuesday was particularly challenging:

As a haiku poet I had one thing going for me in terms of writing in a particular form, but everything else about this prompt duo had my head spinning. Then, I spotted something on my bookshelf that made everything come into focus: a vintage volume of Shakespeare’s Love Poems and Sonnets that belonged to my grandmother.

Suddenly, it hit me: Combine the sonnet with haiku. I wrote a series of four contemporary 3-line haiku and one 2-line anti-haiku to create a grand total of 14 lines to reflect the traditional number of lines in a sonnet while also being about sonnets. In addition I pulled two lines from Shakespeare’s Sonnet V and reconfigured them into the haiku format in stanza 3.

I love it when a prompt inspires me to do something I never would have considered!

– – –

 

grandma’s books
unopened since she passed
left to me

she read Shakespeare’s
sonnets each night
her voice sounds …

‘never resting time
leads summer on
to hideous winter’

a pressed fern
marks her favorite
sonnet VIII

the oak leaf
saves mine

 

– – –

I hope your November is full of writing, whether its NaNoWriMo, the PAD Challenge, or anything else!

– – –

c.b.w. 2017

 

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Autograph Ninja: Book Edition

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It’s no secret that I love a good autograph (see The Autograph Ninja and The Autograph Ninja Strikes Again). I’ve collected signatures from actors, musicians, and authors over the years and apparently my friends have noticed. Most of the recent autographs I’ve acquired have been gifts and that makes them all the more special to me.

Last Christmas, a co-worker was my Secret Santa. She got me hooked on Outlander by giving me the first book in the series a few months before. I loved it and couldn’t wait to read the next book. I almost died when I opened my Christmas gift – it was a signed copy of Dragonfly in Amber. The funny thing is, I was her Secret Santa, too. I got her an Outlander coloring book!

 

One of the most sentimental autographs I’ve ever received came from a dear friend that passed away a few years ago. We shared a love of the Maisie Dobbs series and often read the newest release together. The last Christmas gift he gave me was signed copy of a title I was missing in my collection of the series, Pardonable Lies, (I borrowed it from him originally). It remains one of my most precious memories of him.

The same friend also gave me a signed copy of Hide Tide in Tucson by Barbara Kingsolver. He was a huge fan of Kingsolver and was pretty determined to convince me to read everything she’s ever written (I’m working on it!). He gave it to me shortly before he passed away. I like to think he knew I’d take care of it for him. He was right. I will.

Sometimes, I’m lucky enough to come across autographs on my own. I love how Barnes & Noble started offering signed editions of books around the holidays. I treated myself to a signed copy of Heartless by Marissa Meyer. I love her series, The Lunar Chronicles, so it was so exciting to snag a signed copy of her most recent novel.

The last and most recent autographs were gained the old fashioned way – I went to Phoenix Comicon and waited in line! The book is Q-Squared by Peter David. I bought it 23 years ago (with my first ever paycheck!) and always hoped I’d get Peter David to sign it as he is one of my favorite sci-fi writers. It turns out he was scheduled to be at Phoenix Comicon, along with the actor who plays Q on Star Trek: The Next Generation. I decided to have my book signed by both.

I struck gold with John de Lancie (Q). He turned out to be a pretty cool guy with a serious love of history. Once he found out I was a history teacher, we had a nice chat about books to read and the general scope of historical events.

Unfortunately, Peter David had to leave Comicon early due to a family emergency, but he did leave behind index cards with his autograph for fans to pick up. It’s too bad the autograph isn’t directly on my book, but I’ll take it nonetheless – it’s still his autograph!

While it’s always more fun to get autographs by meeting an author, it’s incredibly special to receive them as gifts as well. In many ways, a gifted autograph takes on all the more meaning as it came from someone who cared enough to give it to me.

 

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c.b.w. 2017

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Sewing With Grandma

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The last two weeks have been filled with a lot fabric scraps and thread. My ongoing program to teach high school students how craft for charity has started sewing simple patchwork blankets. The idea was to get each student to sew simple quilt blocks of four squares and then sew everyone’s squares together to create a series of kennel blankets for the local humane society. I had no idea this project would stir so many emotions.

As I was cutting out squares for my students to sew, I found myself using my grandma’s block templates, seam allowance bar, and scissors. The memories came flooding back – summer at grandma’s where we learned how to sew. Grandma showing me how to hold a needle and how to pinch the fabric to make uniform stitches. Those wonderful memories made me dig through some of her old quilt patterns and I pulled one in particular.

Initially, I thought I would trace and cut the pattern pieces for students who exhibited higher level sewing skills. I sewed the first few blocks to remind myself how to work the pattern, but it quickly turned into something else. I realized I had inadvertently started this project two days before my grandma’s birthday. Perhaps it was subconscious action or kismet, but I could feel her with me. I ended up sewing every block and eventually pieced together an entire throw size blanket. The process was deeply cathartic.

Every skill she ever taught me came back, even though its been many years since I’ve sewn a quilt. I ended up with a beautiful little blanket that reminds me grandma is never really that far away.

The cat has already claimed it.

As for my students, they are learning quickly and we will be piecing together our first blankets next week. I made another blanket as a model for my students and even this project stirred some wonderful memories and sitting and sewing with my grandma. I can only hope my students feel the same kind of warmth – our little group has accomplished so much and we are all connected by what we’ve learned from one another.

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c.b.w. 2017

Friend

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It’s been more than a year

since I’ve seen your face,

heard your voice

Rarely a day goes by

where something

doesn’t remind me

that I knew you

and you were special

The books you read

the things you loved

are all still here

Sometimes I smile,

sometimes I cry

Either way the hole

you once filled

remains empty

Despite the distance

of time passing

I still think of you

grateful for the chance

to call you a friend

 

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Words: free-verse, c.b.w. 2015