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Archive for the ‘Travel’ Category

Poetry Friday round-up is with Irene at Live Your Poem.

 

Spending some time in New Orleans filled me with inspiration, especially in the Syndey and Walda Besthoff Sculpture Garden at the New Orleans Museum of Art. I took pictures and found a poem.  My friend, Dani Burtsfield from Montana, walked with me and found her own poem.  The two compliment each other like we do as friends.

 

 

 

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Louisiana booth in the Parade of States.

Bayou Song was featured at the Louisiana booth at the National Book Festival. This was a fun yet humbling experience. Kids crowded our table wanting Mardi Gras beads and a stamp from our state. I stood on the side like a protective mother to my book. Occasionally an adult would take interest and want to talk. I had a number of good conversations about teaching, poetry, and writing. One parent and child asked me to sign the bookmark. I felt like Vashti from The Dot. Really? Yes, sign it.

A man picked up Bayou Song and as I reached out to grab it back, I realized he was reading a poem aloud to his infant son while a taller, school-aged boy clung to him. So heartwarming to see this scene in the midst of the crowd.  He explained that he is a stay-at-home dad and he reads poetry to his children every day.

 

The National Book Festival is a huge free event that promotes literacy on all levels. On the kid level, there were activities and talks by authors like Kate DiCamillo, Dan Santat, and Jason Reynolds.  For grown-up readers, there were some big names like Sonia Sotomayor, Amy Tan, and Roxanne Gay.

Poetry Friday friends Heidi Mordhorst, immediate right of the sign, and Linda Mitchell next to her. Heidi said, “Poetry is the means by which a person knows her place.”

The highlight of my day was to see two of my writing critique friends face to face. We palled around to a talk with poets laureate Tracy K Smith and Robert Haas. We also heard from a new-to-us author Suzanne Slade who presented about her new book Countdown. It’s written in verse! With amazing photos and illustrations.

Later in the day as I waited for my husband who was listening to Jon Meacham, I saw Suzanne walking by. I waved her down and not only was able to get her to sign her book, but we also had a great chat about writing and publishing. Authors are just regular people who love to talk about their work.

On Sunday, my husband and I worshiped at the National Cathedral and toured the Holocaust Museum. I was moved by both experiences in different ways.  Our nation’s capital is an awe-inspiring place to visit.  My husband agreed and said he’d accompany me on any author trips.  He enjoyed being my “roadie.”

 

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Poetry Friday round-up is with Mary Lee at A Year of Reading

I spent a long weekend in Boston with my three daughters last weekend. We walked a lot. Boston is a great walking city. We’d stop to shop or have lunch or get coffee. Like my friend, Linda Mitchell, I took some pictures of signs to gather into a found poem.

Take a walk in

Footprints on the Freedom Trail.

Today is the last day of my fun and fabulous Bayou Song Blog Tour. Please check out Dani’s post today.

Friday, June 22:
Michelle Kogan

Tuesday, June 26:
Catherine Flynn at Reading to the Core

Friday, June 29:
Ruth Hersey at There is no such thing as a God-forsaken town

Friday, July 6:
Kimberly Hutmacher at Kimberly Hutmacher Writes

Friday, July 13:
Linda Mitchell at A Word Edgewise

Tuesday, July 17:
Laura Shovan 

Tuesday, July 24
Amanda Potts at Persistence and Pedagogy

Friday, July 27:
Carol Varsalona at Beyond LiteracyLink

Monday, July 30
Linda Baie at Teacher Dance

Friday, Aug. 3
Dani Burtsfield at Doing the Work that Matters

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See more posts at Two Writing Teachers Slice of Life .

 

Jen loves to have visitors at her B&B farm property in Breaux Bridge, Bonne Terre.  Bonne Terre in French means good soil.  While I’m sure this is good earth, I can see that Jen dedicates lots of her time to making it good.  There are signs of her everywhere, in the mown lawns, the growing vegetables, and the attractive, rustic sculptures.  Even in the bathroom, she has selected special aromatic soaps and adorable decorations.  I have to admit I’ve had trouble settling down to write.  I’ve moved positions at least five times.

I asked Jen how many chickens she has.  She had to do the math because she has a variety of breeds, but she came up with 71 (or was it 79?).  Nevertheless, chickens are everywhere.  They are a humorous, noisy lot that make me feel like I am out in the country at grandmother’s house.

I’ve been meaning to treat myself to a full day of writing all summer long.  With only a few weeks left before school starts, I finally did it.  I worry that I will fill this day with things other than writing.  Jen told me, “It doesn’t matter if you write or not.  The point is you gave yourself this space to be present.”

I’ll likely spend the next few hours reading blogs, walking the grounds, and having coffee with Jen, but whatever I do is bon travail on this bonne terre, good work on this good earth.  And look at me!  For what it’s worth, I got a blog post written.

I think this dragonfly wants to be in a poem!

Please hop over to Amanda’s post on Persistence and Pedagogy.  She’s a stop on the Bayou Song blog tour, and I love what she did with her kiddos.

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See more posts at Two Writing Teachers Slice of Life .

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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See more posts at Two Writing Teachers Slice of Life .

 

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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Join the Two Writing Teachers blog for the Slice of Life Challenge.

 

This past weekend was the 28th annual World Championship Gumbo Cookoff in New Iberia.  Every year during the second weekend of October, Main Street is shut down and groups gather to cook their best gumbo for hundreds or thousands of hungry tasters.

Seventeen years ago when our three girls were young, the family decided to have a booth.  Jeff’s siblings and their families came to town, and together we cooked and served the first ever Simon Family Gumbo.  My daughters have been nostalgic about that event and have talked about having another Simon Family Gumbo booth.  So this was the year.

Jeff and our oldest daughter Maggie were in charge.  For months, Jeff has worked weekends on building a facade of our house, the Big White Castle.  Son-in-law Grant designed a logo using our family Christmas frog as a model and adding a chef’s hat and a superman cape. (The theme for this year’s event was super heroes.)

Katherine and Jeff show the back of our family t-shirts after they ran the 5K Roux Run on Saturday.  Each won second place in their division.  The “medal” was a mini wooden gumbo spoon.

The Simon family castle!

When the weekend arrived, Jeff headed to Cosco for roasted chickens, a dozen of them.  Maggie and Grant arrived with sausage to cook in the cast iron pot to fully season it.  The day Saturday was spent chopping loads of onions, celery, and bell pepper.  What joy to have all hands chopping while everyone visited together!  Jeff and Grant worked on the stock outside on the burner.  I wish I could have captured the smell along with the photos.

 

Saturday night was early to bed because the alarms went off at 4:45 AM on Sunday.  The cooking crew had to get downtown to set up and start the roux.  At 6 AM, the gumbo police announced, “Start your burners,” and the town began to smell of flour and oil slowly cooking into 75+ gravies. If you ask anyone who knows anything about cooking a gumbo, they will tell you the secret is in the roux.  For our team it was touch and go and tag-teaming for about an hour and a half before the roux was the just-right color of chocolate to satisfy head chef, Maggie.

Once the roux was done, it was added to the stock along with vegetables, sausage, and chicken. The stew cooked for a few more hours before a sample was sent to the judges.  Then people arrived with tickets in hand to try out as many samples as their stomachs would hold.  Unfortunately, the crowd was lighter than in previous years due to the extreme heat.  No one really craves gumbo when the temperature climbs over 90 degrees.  The heat really wore us all down, but we powered through.

I celebrate my amazing family.  My girls and their significant others get along so well with each other.  At the end of the weekend, Jeff said, “I think they could do anything.”  This was a huge undertaking, and I was proud of our tasty gumbo even though we didn’t place in the competition.  In our hearts, we knew Simon Family Gumbo was the best!

 

 

 

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