Category Archives: Deep Stuff

We’ve had the wildest winter I can remember. In Portland, Oregon, the winters are usually drippy and overcast. However, this year’s winter has been cold and snowy. It has produced some great photographs.

crows-1

This is a photograph of crows sitting in snowy trees in downtown Portland, Oregon. The photograph was taken by C.S.I. Walker Berg of the Portland Oregon Police Bureau. This was his view from the Justice Center’s 12th floor.  Portland has enough of a crow problem that they have begun to employ falconers to move block-by-block, hunting the black birds.

It looks like the crows are settled in for the night, though and any hawks will just have to wait for morning.

The police department shared the image dubbed “Crows on Snow” on Facebook and Twitter where it quickly went viral.

My first thought was “Wow,” and then I thought:

dragonfruit

From the sublime to the ridiculous in one easy jump.

Hound Dog Love

A quiet afternoon with a favorite book.

Spending time with another favorite book…

Alas, I am that teacher, the one who makes 7th grade students cry. Not with my rapier wit or sarcasm, tempting as those weapons are. No, I have them read a book about a boy and his beloved dogs, a story told from the heart.

redfern-cover“Why?” students lament. “Why do you make us read this?”  As if I had tortured them or something. From the first pages the story is wonderful, and it pulls readers right in. We never want it to end.

“Because good fiction is powerful,” I tell them. “I want you to understand how a well-written story can reach into the human heart.” I’m the fiction writing teacher. I say stuff like that.

Wilson Rawls published only two books, and it took time for Red Fern to gain popularity. “The best horse doesn’t always win the race,” the Irish say. But now this book is regarded as a must-read for 9 to 14-year-olds. And for grownups too…

A signed copy, found by a teaching friend

A signed copy, given to me by a teaching friend

Red Fern’s setting comes from Rawls’ childhood experiences. He was not well educated–a thing he was embarrassed about–but he sure knew how to tell a story. There’s a lot of wisdom in those pages.

Every year I have students tell me that Where the Red Fern Grows is now their favorite book. If you’re looking for a heart-warming read, why not give this book a try? It’s about a lot more than a boy and his dogs.

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Wisdom from Winnie The Pooh

pooh-gratitudeTimeless stories, like the best songs, are about more than just one thing. They are about what it means to be human, and because of this, they resonate.

A skilled storyteller (or lyricist) knows how to embed gems for us to mine out. That’s the wonder of the reread, the unexpected treasures.

This weekend I am reminded of wisdom hidden in an unlikely place: The Hundred Acre Wood.  A. A. Milne had much to say about life, but he allowed his imaginary friends to do the talking.

pooh-freezingHere are some of my Poohish favorites:

“If the person you are talking to doesn’t appear to be listening, be patient. It may simply be that he has a small piece of fluff in his ear.”

~ o ~

“When you wake up in the morning, Pooh,” said Piglet at last, “what’s the first thing you say to yourself?”
“What’s for breakfast?” said Pooh. “What do you say, Piglet?”
“I say, I wonder what’s going to happen exciting today?” said Piglet.
Pooh nodded thoughtfully. “It’s the same thing,” he said.pooh-braver

~ o ~

“You can’t stay in your corner of the Forest waiting for others to come to you. You have to go to them sometimes.”

~ o ~

“When you see someone putting on his Big Boots, you can be pretty sure that an Adventure is going to happen.”pooh-consideration

~ o ~

“It is more fun to talk with someone who doesn’t use long, difficult words but rather short, easy words like “What about lunch?”

~ o ~

“I do remember, and then when I try to remember, I forget.”


See what I mean? Profound, powerful stuff.
Perhaps I ought to hang out in The Hundred Acre Wood more often!

pooh-shadowsIf you’d like to read more about the transformative power of fiction, check out  S. D. Smith’s excellent article 5 Reasons You Need Fiction.

 

 


Laura Hile (1)

 

Do it anyway.

Opposing points of view

A very kind lady I know from Discovery School (where I teach music on Mondays and Fridays) posted this quote from Mother Teresa in the restroom. I’ve read it many times, and each time I’m struck by the wisdom of this philosophy. The version below was written on the wall of Mother Teresa’s room in her home for children in Calcutta, India, and is widely attributed to her.  It appears to be a rewrite of a composition by Kent Keith, but much of the second half has been re-written to reflect Mother Teresa’s spirituality.

___________________________________________

              People are often unreasonable, irrational, and self-centered.  Forgive them anyway.

            If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives.  Be kind anyway.

            If you are successful, you will win some unfaithful friends and some genuine enemies.  Succeed anyway.

           If you are honest and sincere people may deceive you.  Be honest and sincere anyway.

            What you spend years creating, others could destroy overnight.  Create anyway.

            If you find serenity and happiness, some may be jealous.  Be happy anyway.

            The good you do today, will often be forgotten.  Do good anyway.

         Give the best you have, and it will never be enough.  Give your best anyway.

         In the final analysis, it is between you and God.  It was never between you and them anyway.

mother-teresa

 

Look at Mother Teresa’s face. Would you say she was beautiful? According to the world’s standards, she was not. However, I imagine she was beautiful in God’s sight. Man looks on the outward appearance, but God looks on the heart.

unreasonable-people

 

Our words come from our hearts, and her heart was beautiful.

Contrast the first few lines of Mother Teresa’s quote with George Bernard Shaw’s. I think he probably viewed himself as unreasonable. I might be viewed the same way. Shaw chooses to make being unreasonable a positive character trait. I cannot agree, though I am often that way myself.

To be unreasonable is a type of conceit. I think I’m right because I see myself as intelligent and logical. Therefore, if something seems right to me, I often think the matter is settled. It isn’t.

How would you like to be remembered? I’m 62, and I think of this a great deal now. I would choose to be remembered kindly, as Mother Teresa is.

After all, who changed the world more in their lifetime?  Mother Teresa or George Bernard Shaw?

Sunday it will be fifteen years

Humans take particular notice to anniversaries that end in “0” or “5”. My next big wedding anniversary is my 40th in 2018. Until then I will notice the day, go out to dinner, but not really put a huge amount of thought into it all. But the big “4” “0”, watch out!

Sunday is the 15th anniversary of 911. Aside from family milestones, it is the only historical event my kids and I share in that, “I remember where and when” catagory. I do remember when and where. I still have the dress I was wearing when I heard the news. I am still shocked to see the Twin Towers when I watch movies or TV shows that includes a pre-911 NYC skyline. The opening of my favorite 80s show, “Mad About You,” (on disc) uses it a lot and I never fail to take a breath when the aerial view comes up. cropped-new_york_world_trade_center-800x480.jpg

The beauty of humanity rises when catastrophic events like this, or natural disasters, occur. And all too quickly humanity falls back into the pettiness of itself. The ripples of change are still felt from this event. I suppose they just joined the ripples of all the other events, big and small that went before.

Here’s the dress:

dress

LIfe Imitates Tech

im-a-good-puppy_o_1168916This morning I got on Facebook and read a post about cats and a Roomba. How someone piled their car into a ditch on a dark country road last night. Impairment has not been ruled out. There was a lot about the Democratic Convention I skimmed over. And I enjoyed several memes people put up cataloging their astonishment at making it through another Monday without committing a felony. The usual.

Then a post came up about a priest being beheaded in France. I didn’t click the link. The next post was an ad for Amazon’s Deal of the Day. I didn’t click that link either. I figured nothing Amazon cut the price on could match loss of life.

Cats, car wrecks, conventions, death, deals.

This is our life on tech.

 

I know I have a problem

DriftingMoonWe aren’t even into the full-swing of summer. My granddaughter hasn’t put a hole in her wading pool that has to be patched yet, and alas, last week was the summer solstice.

The longest day this year was also a full moon, called a Strawberry or Algonquin moon. (This has to do with the beginning of strawberry picking season.) The Old Farmer’s Almanac has a great primer on the solstice if you wish to brush up.

As I watched the news stories on the day and how long it was, two things came to mind: 1. The days will now start getting shorter. I know, only a few seconds at-a-time, at first, but I know it’s still going on–like digestion–even if I can’t see it.

2. The really BIG news:

 

school-supplies

SCHOOL SUPPLIES WILL BE IN STORES SOON!

 

Everything is a two-edged sword.