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Archive for the ‘Slice of Life’ Category

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On Sunday, I had a book signing for my new children’s poetry book, Bayou Song. I invited photographer, Henry Cancienne. What a delight to finally meet him face to face! Henry and I have been communicating by email about the photographs he offered for inclusion in Bayou Song.

Meeting Henry, I was not surprised that he is as gentle in spirit in person as he seemed by email. His photographs are a reverence to Louisiana’s amazing natural environment. He told me that his photos are his legacy. We talked about some of his other books and he went out to his car and brought me two of them.

Photo by Henry Cancienne

Photo by Henry Cancienne

Photo by Henry Cancienne

Henry lives in Lockport, Louisiana, about 90 miles east of New Iberia. He goes out in the swamp and marshes nearly every day. Henry is a US Air Force veteran, retired science teacher, petroleum chemist, volunteer fire fighter, and police officer. His photographs have appeared in multiple books and magazines. He told me the story of this photograph of sun rays through live oaks. He saw the scene, pulled his car over, and took the photo. It’s included in Bayou Song as well as Louisiana Swamps and Marshes and currently is displayed in the governor’s office. He says you never know when you will get that perfect shot. Henry is always prepared with camera in hand.

Henry Cancienne

Today Laura Shovan has a stop on the blog tour with a zeno poem about cypress knees. Please stop by.

If you would like a signed copy of Bayou Song, you can order one from Books Along the Teche at 337-367-7621. If you would like it personalized, you can contact me by email. Thanks!

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St. Mary Falls, Glacier Park

 

Montana mountains
marvel me with rugged peaks
water blue as topaz.

 

 

Bear Grass wildflower
Glacier Park, Montana

 

Bear grass blossoms
a mountain spray of stars
invite travelers in.

 

 

Kayaker on St. Mary Lake, Glacier Park, Montana.

Lone kayak streams
rock mosaic reflection
private piece of heaven

 

I understand why Basho turned to haiku to capture moments in nature.  They are just too big to write big about.  Last week, my husband and I spent July 4th with my friend Dani and her husband, Randy, hiking in Glacier Park.  A note about Dani: We meet through a Voxer group and Twitter chats with #G2Great.  It means so much to me to have a close friend so far away.  What a joy to get our guys together and spend time in a magnificent wonderland! These pictures say it all, beauty and majesty, and all that is good.

 

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My summer has been full to the brim of this and that.

This: Hobnobbing with my fellow wizards at ALA conference over the weekend. I bought a floor pass only and quickly realized it was a bargain. I walked more than 3 miles each day back and forth through the exhibit hall meeting new people and visiting with my author heroes. Luckily I had driven and parked close to the Convention Center because I made a few trips to the car to drop off loads of books I had collected. I got to know the barista serving espressos at aisle 2400. His coffee sustained me.

Top left, meeting Eloise Greenfield. Top right, a hug from Jason Reynolds. Bottom left with Kwame, and bottom right with Marilyn Singer.

A highlight was giving Kwame Alexander a copy of my book, and he asked me to sign it. He saw me a few times after that and always called me by name. Kwame exemplifies who authors are. They care about their readers.

Signing Bayou Song for Kwame!

While passing by the National Geographic booth, I got a peek at my poem inside the Poetry of US forthcoming anthology with J. Patrick Lewis. The page is stunning!

Click to pre-order. Release date Sept. 25.

Another highlight was reading at the Poetry Blast. I was honored to be a part of this group of amazing poets: Marilyn Singer, Margarita Engle, K.A. Holt, and Lita Judge, and Joy McCullough. And afterwards some of us went to Mulate’s. After a delicious blackened red fish, I danced with Steve, Marilyn’s husband. I thought I’d teach him the two step, but he took to the music immediately and we swung all over the dance floor.

That: Research for my work in progress. I took the opportunity on Monday before leaving New Orleans to visit Dillard University. I was met there in the library archives by John Kennedy. He was intrigued by my project and was very helpful in bridging some gaps in my research. I’m surprising myself at how much I enjoy historical research.

Please visit Catherine Flynn’s post about Bayou Song, the blog tour continues. Catherine’s review is beautiful.

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My One Little Word for 2018 is Explore! I’ve decided to thoroughly embrace this word this summer.  I am currently on an exploratory adventure at the beach.  My daughter is an account executive for an advertising agency, so she had some meetings here and invited me to tag along.  What a treat!  Our first day we ventured out to an inlet lake that is surrounded by sand dunes.  We did stand up paddleboarding.  The day was hot and sunny, but we did it.  I felt a sense of pride that I was actually able to make the paddleboard move in a somewhat straight line.  On Wednesday, I’m going to try paddleboard yoga.

This morning while she was in meetings, I ventured out to Grayton Beach State Park. Even in the rain, this was a beautiful area.  I was alone on the trail of crystal sand dunes, of bending sand live oaks, and of tall pines that look like tall umbrellas. The dunes set off a lake (Western Lake where we went paddleboarding.) that is a unique salt water/ fresh water ecosystem.  The dunes themselves are preserved. Here are a few of my pictures.

Grayton Beach sand dunes

 

Sand live oaks grow in sculpted shapes.

The sky itself looks like an ocean.

 

Hanging out with women in the advertising business has taught me some new terms to add to my lexicon:

  1. cranking: This is another word for getting on the computer and getting work done.  Best done when it’s raining and you can’t go “content gathering.”
  2. content gathering: This is a term for going out and taking pictures so that you can post them on social media to show others how fun it is to be here.
  3. content: a picture that could be used to promote a place.  One of my pictures was used on Instagram as “content.” Follow @Southwalton

And the best way to have a team meeting is when everyone is in PJs and passing around a bottle of wine.  (I think I may have gotten into the wrong profession.)  In addition to being a relaxing trip to the beach, I have enjoyed time alone with daughter number 2 and learning about the work she does everyday.  It’s not always at the beach, though.

 

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Living near nature puts you in touch with the sanctity of all life. I am spending Memorial Day weekend at my parents’ home on a lake in Mississippi. They watch the birds that come and go like they are their own family. Mom called me a few months ago to tell me the goslings had hatched. And now those babies have grown and still come by every afternoon. When years ago the Canada geese were invasive and leaving behind a stinky mess, now they are part of the nature of things that live with my parents. They cry out, “The babies are here!” My father says he has new respect for the species because the father stays with the mother and goslings.

Two Canada Geese families

Around Easter, I noticed a new contraption in my neighbor’s front oak tree. I couldn’t tell what it was, but there was a metal ladder, a wooden platform with a small umbrella set above it. What could this project be?

We saw our neighbors at the Boy Scout banquet last week and Svitlana shared with me her story. She had rescued a baby owlet and the mother owl. They had both been injured in a storm. Ric made a platform for her to place a basket on. She cared for the mother and child for about 6 weeks. She fed the mother who then fed her baby. I was enthralled by her story. She sent some pictures to me.

Svitlana rescues an owlet.

Mother barred owl in basket.

In her poetry, Mary Oliver reminds me to pay attention. We are all part of the family of things. Nature can guide us to ourselves and to God. I want to live in this knowledge and appreciate the sanctity of nature.

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We all have our favorite words.   We seem to carry with us a lexicon of words.  As a writer, I feel challenged to get out of my word choice comfort zone.  I’m always on the look out for new ways to use words.  I am careful not to overuse a word.  One word I feel gets overused is love.

I am not a royal wedding fangirl, but I did get up in time to see the full service start to finish on Saturday.  As an American Episcopalian, I was proud that our Presiding Bishop was the preacher.  As I listened to Bishop Curry, I wondered how many times he used the word love in his message.  Curiosity led me to make a word web of the text to see how strong the word love would appear.

If you didn’t hear this message, you should take the time to listen to it.  The text can be found here, but hearing it is much more powerful.  We do need to hear the word love.  We need to know love as the most important thing.  We need to realize the redemptive power of love. We shouldn’t have to have a royal wedding to remind us of this, but I’m glad we did.

 

 

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I know May is supposed to be my favorite month of the year.  There’s Teacher Appreciation Week with its gifts and food, food, food.  There’s Mother’s Day with more gifts, more food.  And then there’s this end of the school year count down.  How many more days are left?

The end of the year is not a joyful time for me.  I am looking back on the year and thinking; Did I do all I could?  Did I make a difference? Are my students ready to move on?

I’m faced with packing up the classroom (make that three classrooms), making them stark and uninviting, covering computers, cleaning out cubbies, trash, trash, trash…

But the hardest part for me are the last days when my students come sporadically (I teach gifted pull-out). How can I plan anything with substance?  We review for summer reading.  We create writing anthologies. We play games.

Then there are the goodbyes.  I teach my students year after year, so when they leave me, I’ve usually had them for multiple years.  Letting go is hard.

Here I am looking at the countdown my students have written on the board, 7 days left.  Seven? Seven!  Where did the time go?  I’m not ready.

 

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