Friday, December 27, 2013

Spiny Pine

We have LOTS of trees on our 5+ acres, but this little one always catches my eye from our front window.  It's my weather tree, I guess.  I can see how deep the snow is, how thick the ice is, or how sunny the day is even, just by looking at this little fellow standing out there by itself.  It probably wasn't even there when we first moved in 14 years ago, but has finally grown up tall enough for me to notice.  He's (assuming it is a "he" anyway) a cute thing that perhaps next year at Christmas would like to be decorated.  He's been the star of the past few blogs, and this morning, I thought he deserved his own poem.  So here you go Spiny Pine.  I think that is his name now.  Spiny Pine.

Shiny pine out in the cold
Waiting for spring to arrive;
Ice has bedecked you,
Snowfall beflecked you,
How do you hope to survive?

Spiny pine with needles green,
Ever to be even now,
In summer or fall
You must have a ball
Though winter weighs on each bough.

Whiny pine yielding to wind,
Bending and bowing so low;
Keep trying to stand,
In spring you’ll be grand,
Stronger for trials in the snow.

Tiny pine, stoic yet small,
Someday you'll be tall and strong;
But still when it's cold
You'll need to be bold -
Winters in Maine are so long.

©Donna JT Smith, 2013

Thanks Mary Lee, for hosting the Poetry Roundup today at A Year of Reading.  Everyone needs to head on over there for links to more poetry to enjoy today!

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Christmas is Coming Soon

Christmas for us will not be until Monday, so yesterday was a time of baking, cleaning and listening to Christmas carols.  It finally felt like a day to get ready for Christmas! I enjoyed the day at home. I made my Christmas Cake - pistachio, pecan, almond green and yellow coffee cake.  It's only available on Christmas week - maybe a few days before Christmas and up to the new year.  Then it goes away until the next year.

Christmas Night was time for family and church.  We went to evening services.  Just because it's Christmas, doesn't mean there aren't the usual open doors on a Wednesday night.  As a matter of fact it was kind of special feeling to have a post-wrapping paper clutter get-together, even though we haven't done that yet.

Our own children weren't around us, so I got to see my nieces and nephew and their spouses and children and give them attention that I might not have given otherwise.  I could hold the newest member of our family, my brother's daughter's infant.  I could delight in the four year old granddaughter, who came up to the pulpit to give her grandfather an impromptu kiss as he addressed the congregation.

I listened as my brother's son, now a preacher in his own right, gave a Christmas message.  Where did the time go?  I remember when he was four, standing on my couch, and I told him to get down...rebellion.  Now a preacher.  Still a bit rebellious...stepping over the carved cherry rail to get to the lectern and begin his message, saying "I've always wanted to do that!"

It was a day with my son working, and bringing him some cake to share with his co-workers, as he worked two double shifts for Christmas eve though the day after Christmas.  What a guy.   Some others could have a family Christmas time.  It was a gift to others.  Of course, he did make some extra pay for it... but it was still a great thing.  And we have to wait until his sister, her husband and their son get here anyway.  We're in no hurry.  We can celebrate this day any day of the year!

And it is snowing.  Again.  Snow over ice.

Friends of ours had a car accident this week and the father/husband is now in the hospital in IC.  Their son suffered a broken arm.  They are waiting to celebrate Christmas, also.  They are in no hurry now.  They will celebrate when everyone is home again.  They can add to their celebration the fact that they can celebrate together this year.

We will finally (weather permitting, again) do our church Christmas program with the kids this Sunday.  Snow and ice delayed the celebration.  But we are in no hurry.  We can still celebrate.  Every day is cause for celebration.

Christ's birth wasn't really December 25th anyway.  Maybe we'll accidentally celebrate it on the right day.

And really, isn't any day, the right day for a celebration?
Iced and now frosted... if a tree could shiver...

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

The True Christmas Trees of Maine

A white pine near the house
We have snow in Maine, and we have ice, especially near the coast where we are.  Over the past couple of weeks, we have had plenty of both.  November through April can be a harsh time. Over the past two or three days we have had ice after two snowstorms of a foot apiece.  Most people in Maine have lost power for the past 24 to 40 hours and some still don't have it back.  For a good number of people here there will be no Christmas dinner served at their home today and there will be no Christmas lights on the tree.  Today and tonight the temperatures will be plummeting and those that have power may lose it again.  But still, in all the dangers of frigid weather, in its harshness, there is a beauty that cannot be ignored.

When I went outside yesterday and saw the ice covered landscape, I knew I was seeing the true trees of Christmas.  There was no way to capture the amazing beauty with my phone camera, but I did my best.  The one image I wish I could have gotten was the one with the icy trees bending over the road ahead as a car was about to round a corner or come up over the top of a hill.  Its headlights lit up the trees, making them shimmer and sparkle.  It felt as if we were driving through a cathedral.  It was so beautiful and unreal.  And now for some of the pictures I captured yesterday as we drove through our winter wonderland.  These are the true Christmas trees of Maine.

A hemlock on the corner of our driveway
Birches on our road - they don't recover well
Touching the ground - not good
But this one made it...reaching for the sky!

A large pine bough, all frozen together.

My favorite, ice encrusted and illuminated by a parking lot light.
Merry Christmas, trees!
Merry Christmas, all!

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Comfort and Joy

I'm representing the northeast corner of the USA up here in Maine in Mark Koopmans' "50 States of Pray" where someone from each state (and some countries) will "take a moment and about 100 words - share a prayer, a thought, a memory, a hope,... a regret,... a wish for the future" on Christmas Eve.
Thank you Mark from Hawaii for this wonderful idea!  Visit the page and hear what other bloggers have to share this Christmas Eve at Aloha! Mark Koopmans Says Hi from HI.

I love this song used in the story of Christmas, sung by the animals where Jesus lay in their manger.  Not too "heavy", just a sweet tune and words.  Have a listen if you have the time this Christmas Eve!

The sheep and cow wanted to prepare him room, and they gave up their space and food for the King of Kings.  They received Him, welcoming Him in.
My prayer is "Let Earth receive her King." 
We always hear that Christmas is about giving, not receiving.
But that's not really entirely true; it is about receiving, too.
Will you receive your King?
When you receive Him, you can then receive what He has to give.
He would like to give us everything. 

May you be filled with Comfort and Joy this Christmas!
Merry Christmas to All!

Monday, December 23, 2013

Nice Day - Ice Day

Lost power at 5:30. Posting on my iPad which for some reason won't scroll down when I'm in edit mode. Wood stove is keeping us warm. Will start the generator off and on to keep the refrigerator cold...though I thought about just filling bags with ice from outside and putting them in the refrigerators. I'm wearing my headlight and we have lanterns around the house. Good thing we finished the chicken pie for a late lunch. All 1100 houses in our island town are without power tonight, along with many people in many other towns here in Maine due to the ice storm.

Another day indoors... 

Icy icicles guard our door...

While rosebush icy canes peek in my window...

And an icy spined pine shivers and whines...

And icy-coated weeds finally succumb to the weight...

And icy oaks wish they'd rid themselves of leaves before the storm...

All is calm, all is bright...

As icy icicles guard our door...

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Stormy Weather

Well, last weekend we got a foot of snow on top of a foot of snow, and no one went anywhere.  It was even a bit much for our Golden.  Not really.  She loves snow.  She wants us to throw something so she has an excuse to dunk her head and look for it.  It's the closest thing to a pond she's ever been in.
She is not lying down here.
Her face is not that white!  It's the snow from snowball diving.  She is not lying down in the snow here; she is standing waiting for me to throw her an icicle or snowball!

And today there is more stormy weather.  It has been warm enough that the precipitation has been misty rain, which freezes when it hits the ground.  We tried going in town but we turned around and came home.  It looked like wet roads up until you tried to stop.  There was no stopping.  So rather than have a Christmas in the hospital, we opted to stay home for the day.

The temperature is dropping and the pine needles are drooping under the weight of the ice.  It is going to be a long night with the possibility of power outages due to downed branches and wires.  The weather channel says it will be over at around noon tomorrow.

I wrapped presents.  My husband built a nice wood fire. Now I'm making homemade chicken pot pie and a mini apple pie (because I have an apple and extra crust - actually I added unsweetened natural applesauce, too, to fill it up more!).  It was a good day for staying inside.

And they tasted just wonderful.  Now for some tea.  I should have had that with my pie, but we were too hungry-excited to wait.

Friday, December 13, 2013

All Through the Zoo

Welcome to Poetry Friday!  It's hosted today by Tabatha at The Opposite of Indifference.  Go over for a visit and read some great poetry today!
Here is my offering today.  I am not much for Santa stories anymore, but this one seemed to just come out when I wrote the first two verses (lines).

All Through the Zoo

‘Twas the night before Christmas
And all through the zoo,
Not a creature was sleeping;
They all were too blue.

They’d heard of a Santa;
A real old Saint Nick.
They’d learned he brought presents,
And that made them sick.

They never got gifts!
They didn’t have socks!
They couldn’t use them
In pools or on rocks!

They didn’t have trees
With bright lights and stars;
There were no presents
Behind the zoo bars.

The penguins were sad.
They had just one wish -
That Santa would come
And not bring them fish.

They wanted new scarves
To wrap ‘round their necks.
The bears wanted shoes -
No more "bear" foot treks!

But how to make Santa
Come over this way?
How to steer reindeer
With presents in sleigh?

The giraffes had a plan
With their heads in the sky
They’d stand on each back
Until they were high.

They’d stand up so tall
Above every roof;
They’d be high enough
To tickle a hoof!

And so they piled up
As high as they could.
And waited for Santa -
He’d fly by, he would!

They stretched up so high
And held out great hopes
That they would hail Santa,
Or lasso with ropes!

Their timing was good;
They were pretty quick.
But no one can be
As quick as St. Nick!

The passing of reindeer
And whooshing of sleigh
Made them all wobble,
Beginning to sway!

They all toppled down
In one great big heap,
And woke up old Santa
Who’d fallen asleep -

Asleep at the reins
Of his sleigh and reindeer!
“What was that?” he cried out,
As he looked back in fear.

“Why it looks like a pile -
A great pile of giraffes!”
He smiled and then chuckled
His big belly laughs!

Amid all the fuss,
He landed the sleigh;
He gave them all gifts
And candy caned hay.

The penguins got scarves,
The bald eagles got hats,
The bears got their shoes -
Flashlights for the bats.

The giraffes had brought Christmas;
They’d stopped Santa’s flight.
A merry crashed mass
Brought to all a good night!

© Donna JT Smith

Thursday, December 12, 2013

A Train to Christmas

(350 words)
A Train to Christmas

“A twain?  Yea!” Milly’s eyes twinkled.
Light snow was falling. I wished we’d worn boots.  I’d have to carry her to the train station.

I scooped Milly, then my bag from the car. The flakes were getting bigger, the station harder to see.

We boarded the hissing train.  I put Milly by the window and sat down beside her.
“I can see ow-ah cah!”  The window fogged immediately.  She made an S with her finger.

The train lurched forward.  First stop Chicago, then on to Boston. We settled in with crayons and paper.  We would get there the day before Christmas, and she’d experience that special Christmas Eve and morning like the ones I’d known as a child.

Eat, bathroom, nap, color, read...repeat.  The train slowed to a crawl.  "Frozen tracks," they announced.  We inched our way to Chicago.

When we finally arrived at the Chicago station, it was midnight; there were no more trains that night.  Weary, we got a motel room for the rest of the night, but needed to return to the station early to catch the train to Boston.

In the morning, we sat in the station with new tickets for a train leaving any minute to take us home for Christmas. It would have to hurry; it was the day before Christmas and we weren’t even close to home.  Milly wasn’t familiar with Christmas, being 3 years old, but I was. This was not how it was supposed to be.

Frozen tracks. One hour delay.

“Aah we awmos day-uh?”
“No, Milly, but we’ll get on the train soon.”

More delays.  No trains were leaving. Hundreds of people crowded the station now, all waiting. It was getting so late.

I glanced at the woman sitting beside us.  Was she going to visit grandchildren? She smiled, offering Milly a homemade Christmas cookie.

Suddenly, in that vast station echoed the beautiful sounds of a French horn, played by another stranded traveler. 
“Silent Night, holy night...”
Hundreds of people hushed. 
We didn’t have to be somewhere special for it to happen - Christmas Eve had found us.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Christmas Story Challenge

Yesterday I started reading blogs and came across the Christmas 350 words or fewer story challenge from Susanna Leonard Hill, and then "Poof!" it was hours later.  But how can you pass up an opportunity to write and potentially be rewarded for your efforts? 
I wrote a different story yesterday, but decided to save that for Christmas Eve posting on Aloha! Mark Koopmans Says Hi from HI because it seemed like it would appeal more to an older audience and fits the Christmas wish/regret/prayer type style, though it was also a mishap at Christmas.  You will have to wait for December 24th to read that one, though.  It's a true story.
And today I wrote this poem for Susanna's challenge as my offering of a Christmas mishap, accident, potential disaster type story.  It is actually a true story, too, except for donkeys lying.
Does anyone else see the Christmas story as a mishap/potential disaster story? 
A King on a Donkey  (271 words)

One night in a faraway land
Joseph said, “Mary, please take my hand.
“It's a long way, you know,
Bethlehem’s far to go,
A ride on our donkey is planned.

Over hills and through valleys they walked.
Mary, heavy with child, barely talked.
Joseph led them along
As he hummed a sweet song,
And the donkey never once balked.

As they entered the city that night
The innkeeper learned of their plight.
There was no where for rest,
But he offered his best,
“Would the stable out back be all right?”

Could this night become any stranger?
Should he put his wife in such danger?
No one sleeps with a cow,
Not then and not now;
But Mary spied the hay manger.

Mary needed space in this shed;
A soft place where He’d rest His head.
This would be the night
She’d bring forth the Light,
So Joseph found hay for her bed.

The animals gave up their treat
And offered warm bodies for heat
They baa-ed and they mooed,
They heehawed or cooed,
And soon came the baby so sweet.

The night, long and cold, was now done, 
In the manger they laid their new son.
How strange for a king
To be born without bling,
But thus, is His story begun.

The angels all told of His worth,
And soon shepherds knew of his birth.
They followed a star
And traveled so far
To see the young Savior of earth.

This donkey stayed close by His side.
Whenever He needed a ride
He carried this King;
Oh, what a strange thing!
Other donkeys thought that he lied.

© Donna JT Smith, 2013

Monday, December 9, 2013

I Am Doing It? I AM Doing It.

I have not yet finished my A to Z book.  I am stalling.  Procrastinating.  Scared.  One of those things or a combination.
But now that's okay. I can continue to procrastinate and work through my scared on that one because, instead, I have taken a baby step with my Musicful poem becoming a picture book.  I am proceeding. I am making a final decision on the press. I am about to push the button to get my ISBNs and bar code.
I have an illustrator.
I am making time.
I have to get a cup of coffee.
I am editing and revising today.
And making cookies to take a break.
I am going to need cookies.
Coffee + Cookies + Courage + Commitment = Completion.
.......ok.  Got the coffee... where's the flour?

Friday, December 6, 2013

Musicfully Inclined

Thanks to Robyn Hood Black for hosting this week's Poetry Friday!

This must be because of the bells yesterday.  I really like those bells.  I want to start a bell choir now.


Joyful jamming
Sounds abound
Lilting, twinkling
Melodies found

Gleeful scales
Notes so light
Laughing, dancing
In their flight

Jostling jive
Twitch of toes
Jumping, sliding
Anything goes

Cheerful chant
Ropes a’swing
Salting, peppering
Beat’s the thing

Caller calls
Dosey doe
Circling, bowing
Heel and toe

Soulful song
Echos remain
Aching, longing
Heart's refrain

Prayerful hymn
Voices raise
Worshipping, carolling 
Him to praise

Loving lullaby
Momma’s tune
Soothing, drifting
Sweet dreams soon

Music soothes
and gives us peace
Makes us dance
and hop to beats

Gives us joy
and makes us cry
Gives us wings and
lets us fly

Thursday, December 5, 2013

The Bells

Last week I got the crazy idea that we should have bell ringing for our children's Christmas program at church.  Hey, there's plenty of time.  We have two Sundays before the Christmas program.
So I ordered some color coded bells for kids from Kids Play online.  I wasn't too hopeful for quality, as they were fairly inexpensive.  I got my bells yesterday, and are they sweet!  I had to try them out right away.  I found "Joy to the World" for playing on an 8-note kalimba.  And if you don't know what a kalimba is, well, shame on you. 
I know what it is... 
You can look it up like I did.
I set out to play "Joy to the World" right away.  I found it to be difficult to maneuver the bells to ring them on the right beat without getting tangled in my own arms.
But then I found a wonderful tutorial on YouTube by Rod Lloyd.  And what a help! 

Now I can teach a brother and sister pair and let them take the bells home for two weeks and practice to their hearts' content.

This was my very early attempt at playing "Joy to the World" on the bells....

Then here's a later one where I experimented with the ringing, because unlike the real bell choir bells, these are spring loaded clappers, and they ring with any movement.  Plus I don't have a proper surface for lying them down.  They are on a towel and like to roll a bit and clang together when I'm not looking.  They are a pretty mischievous bunch of bells.

I want to be able to play this well enough that I can show the kids how they work, and see what I may need to do to be able to help make it easier for them to learn and perform.   So far, since I am able to do this much in one day, I'm thinking that kids will pick it up in two weeks even more easily.  I'm not worried.  It will be fascinating no matter how it turns out.  And it helps that we have a very forgiving membership.  They like everything.

Friday, November 22, 2013


It's getting colder and colder up here in the Northeast corner of the land.  Should have a wood fire going in the stove...but I guess I'll just turn up the heat and stare out the window at the cold and tired rose bush.  Can't wait for spring.  We can skip over winter.  And summer.  Spring and fall, spring and fall...that's all I need.  But that's another poem for another day.  Today is "Rosy".

my toes
and my nose
are really froze
i think that they are doomed
do you suppose
my rosy nose
could smell a rose in bloom
or should
these rosy toes o’mine
go where
it’s warm and days are fine
other posies loom?

It's a comfort to know that closer to the equator and in the southern hemisphere there are some rosy roses and warm noses, and that soon it will return here, too! 
My cat knows how to keep his nose warm.

And now to enjoy more poetry and poetic subjects, go to our Poetry Friday hostess Katya Czaja at Write, Sketch. Repeat.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Thankful for my Childhood

When my parents were young, age 26, they moved from Massachusetts to Maine with their 4 children, to move into their new home in the country, leaving most of the family and both of their jobs behind them. They were so young.  But people were older then.
My dad was fresh out of the Coast Guard and a welder, and my mom was a registered nurse at Mass General, and their work schedules meant they were almost never home at the same time.  They wanted something different for their new family.  They wanted a new fresh branch for the family tree.  It was a bold move, and I'm so glad they did it.  I wasn't glad at the time.  I had no emotions about it.  I'm not sure I even knew we were moving.  We just did it.  And when we got there, we found we had a huge house out in the country.
My dad got a job at the Hyde Windlass in Brunswick, and my mom stayed home, starting the Bonnie Brae Nursing Home in our house.  When Dad was home on weekends, he was the cook for the nursing home.  I think he eventually quit his job to help at the nursing home full time.
It was an interesting life living in a nursing home.  We sometimes helped out by sitting with patients on the front porch and bringing them apples from one of our apple trees.  We mostly talked to patients or stayed out of the way, though I do remember one time that my brother stood on the back pegs of a wheelchair and tipped a patient over.  And I do remember the time I forgot to lock the bathroom door and a patient came in while I was taking a bath in our old claw foot tub.  You'd think we'd have had more than one bathroom for a family of 6 and nursing home patients.  Mostly they used bedpans and big wooden commodes though, and had sponge baths, so the bathroom traffic wasn't that bad.  There was also a double outhouse in our attached barn.  No one used that though.  Years earlier, it must have been a luxury, though, to have an outhouse almost in your house!  No outdoor treks in the winter!  My brothers got locked in there almost as soon as we moved in.  Not sure how.  But there were lots of things my brothers did that I couldn't understand.
This was the house with Walter Reed's Gulf Station at the end of our driveway.  The place where my brothers decided to buy cigarettes and say they were for my parents.  Their mistake was in buying the wrong brand.  Walter called my parents and said, "So you've changed to Marlboro?"  So though I didn't understand the whys or hows, I still learned lots of things from my brothers.
This home was where we played sports as a family every Sunday.  Sometimes it was basketball at our hoop on the barn on the dirt and grass.  If the basketball landed on the big wooden platform in the weeds, we were not to go get it.  That was the cesspool, an old fashioned sewer system of sorts, and they didn't want us to somehow fall in.  Sometimes we played football in the big flat part of our yard below the hill and apple trees and before the hay field.  I broke a bone in my foot stepping in a hole left when we pulled up the grape vine arbor.  No one believed me at the time, and I just finished the game.  It hurt for years off and on, and then when I was in college, they had to x-ray my foot for another injury, and they told me I'd broken my foot once - which I knew.  Baseball was our summer sport.  We used some combination of the two apple trees and the elm tree as our bases.  They were in a straight line, so it made for a triangular playing field instead of a diamond.  Our bat was usually a stick, a vacuum cleaner wand, or some other straight but not regulation bat item.  The ball, likewise, was a rolled up sock, paper, or other material wrapped in electric tape or just rolled up tightly (no duct tape then).  Our home base was the grape vine arbor mentioned before, and later when that was taken down it was something else we just put on the ground. Our Manx tiger cat, George, used to like to follow us around while we played football or baseball.  He would wander back and forth trying to keep up with the game, talking all the while.
Some Sundays I just wanted to finish reading a good book, like Honey Bunch, Just a Little Girl, or Heidi, but it didn't matter, we were all herded outside for the big game.
Looking back, I'm glad my parents made us play the family games.  I'm glad they had the boldness to pick up and move us. 

I found this last night.   It's by Anne Voskamp, the author of One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are, which I have now added to my must read list.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Limerick Rebuttal

Yesterday for Poetry Friday, Greg Pincus at GottaBook wrote a limerick about a time-eating poem...I just couldn't let it lie...not lie like not lie down there and don't anything about it.  So my comment had to be a relimerick.  (Does this ever I have gotten another thing in my head that I will have to write...just a minute...I have to bring up Pages and jot a note about another poem I want to right back).

Good.  Done.  But now I can't stay here long.  I have to go write it.  You didn't think I could write it that fast, did you?  That was just a note to help me remember what I wanted to write about.

A N Y W A Y - - Like I said Greg wrote a poem and I liked it, so I replied in my comments with this that is written below that came to me.  So read his first and then come back.  I can wait.  But not long.  I have to go write something else that I wrote on a page in Pages.  I don't remember what, so it's a good thing I wrote it down when I did, and that I remember that I did that, as sometimes I forget that I wrote a note down and find it years later.

Okay.  Are you back from GottaBook (linked again in case you didn't go there yet)?  This is too big a build up now.  My poem is not that good.  I should write more and profounder stuff for this big a build up.  Sorry.  But here it is anyway....duh, da-da-daaaah (horn proclamation noises):

Though what you are saying seems sage
I balk at what’s written on page
Though your poem brand new
Will stay timeless, ‘tis true
I don’t need it helping me age!

That's it.
Thank you for your time... and you don't look a day older!

Friday, November 15, 2013


Poetry Friday is being hosted by Jama Rattigan at Jama's Alphabet Soup.  Pay her a visit, and enjoy the poetry banquet.

Do you remember sleepovers?
We had sleepovers with friends and cousins, and they always went the same way. 
Food, playing, laughter, whispering, getting scolded for still being awake - really, what did they think would happen? - scary stories, pillow fights, and 3 am.
I can still bring up memories of those late nights - early mornings - the first time you knew that night really did become morning again - the wonderful feeling of being awake when no one else in the world was (or so we thought).  It was an experience that could only be truly appreciated in childhood.  You see the same late to early hours in motherhood, but somehow they aren't as exciting then.


Up to the bedroom
Scampering in haste,
Squealing and giggles,
There’s no time to waste;
It’s sleepover night,
There’s big fun in store,
Throw down sleeping bags,
Toss pillows galore;
Yankings of blankets,
Punches of pillows,
Fighting with feathers,
Laughter in billows,
Chips in pajamas,
Graham crackers in hair,
Flashlights in bedsheets,
And whispers to scare;
Reprimands called out,
"Keep quiet up there!"
More stifled giggles -
Were they not aware?
It’s sleepover night,
There’s no time to sleep,
So much to be done,
Night watches to keep;
But just when it seems,
The daylight will come,
Eyelids are drooping,
Heads nod one by one;
A spidery pile
Of legs and of arms,
No one is stirring
Nor hearing alarms,
For sleepover night
Is not what it seems:
It’s stay awake night,
And good morning dreams.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Thanks for This Week

I had thought I might be able to do a "Thankful for..." post each day this month, but things just got complicated right away in November, and I let half a month go by without doing that.  But last Wednesday my car wouldn't start, and I've been without my trusty steed for a week.  When I thought about it though, there were still some thankfuls in the whole thing:

Unfortunately, my car got sick.  Thankfully, it was right in my driveway, not out on the highway.  Unfortunately, I had to have the car ambulance take it away on a stretcher.  Thankfully, I had an emergency roadside assistance plan, so the tow was free (though I wondered if my driveway would be considered roadside (thankfully, it was)).  Unfortunately, it needed a bunch of repairs caused by a tensioner failure which would cost mega bucks.  Thankfully, they took some of the labor charges off since they had to do some recall work which would involve some of the same labor as the repairs. Unfortunately, it would take a few days to get to the repairs.  Thankfully, I have a wonderful grown son who saw to it that I got around to do my errands.

Unfortunately, I can't think of anything really that is terribly unfortunate (or is that fortunately?)...thankfully, my thankfullys far outweigh my unfortunatelys.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

I Saw the Stars Tonight

There are still so many things I'm discovering that I didn't realize I was missing.  Yesterday I noticed that our side windows in the car were tinted.  Huh.  Then last night was a moonless night, and I looked up.  I had thought for a while now that I just didn't have quite the same fascination for the sky that I'd always had.  Try looking at the night sky through sunglasses.  That's what I was seeing for years.  I literally cried for joy when I realized I could not count the stars again.  I didn't want to come inside ever.  And I find myself excited about seeing them tonight.
PS for those unsure of the correctness of the "I" in the photo caption...see Grammar Girl.  I is correct....I am correct that I is correct.
I didn't take this picture.  That's not I in the picture.
I saw the stars tonight
and I remember them;
I remembered how they filled
the space of space
three dimensionally,
some small, some bright,
some clustered tightly
daring you to look at them
teasing you by
but springing back
to full dance
when you glanced away.
I heard them singing
to me as
I traveled the road -
the glittery plane of
white Milky Way -
cutting through the dark sky.
Tonight I saw the stars again
and I remembered them
and I cried
for joy;
they were still there;
I could not count
the stars.

©Donna JT Smith

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Pearly Whites and a Picket Fence

I posted this Thursday, but am using it for Poetry Friday, hosted by my good friend, though I have never met her in person, nor ever heard her voice, except the "voice" of her writing, but friend, nonetheless, Linda Baie at Teacher Dance.  Go there, click on links, read more poems and meet more lovers of poetry!

I do not know where these came from or why.  Well, I do know from where...from my head. I just picked a word and started brainstorming with it.  The "why" I don't know, though.  Probably because being a first grade teacher for so long, I got to see so many bloodied mouths, fingers and teeth.
Really, first grade is quite a bodily fluids kind of year, what with teeth falling out, bathroom timing accidents, vomit, coughs and sneezes (oh, and sucking on fingers, thumbs and shoelaces)... First grade teachers, if they make it through their first two years, live forever, having built up super-duper antibodies.

So Are the Teeth

As barnacles on a rock, so are the teeth in our jaw.
As pearls line up on a string, so are the teeth in our mouth.
As a line in a crossword puzzle, so are the teeth of first graders.
As Chicklets in a box, so are the teeth of second graders.
As pickets in a fence, so are the braced teeth of teens.
As biscuits popped in or taken out of the oven, so are the teeth of great grandparents.

Any other ideas?

Canine cornered doggy lips,
Sharp fangs of a cat,
Tusks of giant elephants,
Incisors of a rat,

Orange dentured porcupines,
Denticles of sharks,
Rabbit’s yellow nibblers,
Making toothy marks.

Baleen smiles of great big whales,
Molars of a rhino,
Milky whites of browny cows,
Making eating fine-o.

Toothy grin of little boy,
Girl’s of pearly whites -
Teeth beneath their pillowed heads:
Tooth froggy’s delight.

Of course, my first graders would put up some resistance when I told them there was no tooth fairy, but gave in to laughter when I told them there was a tooth froggy.  Frogs have no teeth, so Tooth Froggy collects teeth to make dentures for frogs so that they can chew their food better.  It's a good deal.  He pays for the teeth, and then sells the dentures to the toothless frogs and other creatures.  He makes enough money to buy more teeth and take an occasional vacation to a warmer place in the winter - avoiding sleeping in the frozen mud all winter.
They never really gave up their Tooth Fairy, but humored me on the Tooth Froggy story.  ALL of my students had seen a tooth fairy at some point in their lives, if they'd lost a tooth.  They could describe and draw their personal tooth fairy, also.  It made for interesting tooth fairy mobiles in our classroom.

One of my favorite books to read to them was Little Rabbit's Loose Tooth, by Lucy Bate.  It's such a sweet story, and I loved Little Rabbit's innocent voice.  It's an old story, but the kids always loved it.  Good books are timeless.  Teeth aren't.

P.S. Frogs do actually have teeth, albeit nothing to write home about.  They are very small cone shaped teeth, which in most frog cases are only on the top jaw.  They aren't for chewing though, so they would still need the dentures for that.  These teeth just help them hold prey as they swallow them whole.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Whiney Whys

I don't mean to whine, complain, nor be judgmental, BUT why are so many things considered okay to do now?

For example in a department store:
  • Why is it okay for kids to ride the bikes for sale inside a store?  Isn't this dangerous for both the child and other customers, never mind the fact that I was hoping to buy a NEW bike for my child or grandchild.
  • Why is it okay to bounce the balls in the store?  I know they will look used soon after bouncing them on the driveway, but again I'm paying for new merchandise.  Can I get a discount for used?  ...I didn't think so.
In a grocery store:
  • Why is it okay to hand a kid a bag of grapes or a banana from the bunch to eat while shopping?  Both are sold by the pound, and I didn't see any provision for weighing your kid before starting to eat, though you could put him or her on the scales at the register when checking out.

At restaurants:
  • Why is it okay to build a fort out of the individual serving creamers, butters and sugar containers?  Oh, and wear the bowls they were in on your head, like perhaps you needed a construction worker's hard hat or a crown.  I guess it is pretty hard for a four year old to understand that though when your father and mother are helping construct the condiment castle and teaching you how to put them back so neatly no one will ever suspect you have had the bowls and food in your very grubby, marker stained hands.  I'll bet the bedroom walls are beautiful.
But then, Mom and Dad don't want to stifle creativity.  And there are some self-esteem issues, doncha know.
But it isn't really even all about the kids' poor behavior then is it?  Sometimes the adults don't even HAVE kids with them...
  • like the lady at the salad bar at the grocery store who filled her container so full she couldn't close it, so she had to put some of the olives back using her fingers.  I mean, really, what else could she have done?  She couldn't close her container.  She didn't want to dirty the tongs in the olive serving dish. (What?  Wait.  That's right, those were tongs for putting them in.  There must not have been any return-tongs!)  She knew her hands were very clean.  Hmmm, but there was that grocery cart handle...oh, and the purse strap the baby chewed on..wait, did she wash her hands after she fixed her shoe and tidied her hair, scratched her nose and... ummm.  I wouldn't worry about it. 
  • and the guy who makes sandwiches with those protective gloves on.  The protective gloves are not meant to protect you from my sandwich.  They are to keep my sandwich clean.  So.....if the gloves are dirty...then my you see where I'm going?  Yup, your hands will still be clean.  My sandwich, not so much.  So stop opening registers, handling money and pushing your hair out of your face with with them on while you make my sandwich, please.

I guess I did want to whine, complain and be judgmental.  How'd I do?
I promise, I won't whine tomorrow!

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Another Poem Format to Try

Okay, Joy!  Here goes!  Over at Poetry for Kids Joy, Joy Acey has posted some poems in a particular format.  I have about the same format, but with a non-Halloween bent.  These are fun and challenging.  Try one, but first check out the rest of Joy's to get the format down!

Knocking at my door
Was a Great Horned owl
On his head was a cap
He was wrapped in a towel.

Because I’m just a mouse
I crouched down in a cower,

But he asked me
quite nicely,
"Could I use your shower?"
Knocking at my door
was a sticky porcupine;
he used my brand new toothbrush -
made his orange teeth shine.

I didn’t want to rattle him,
I didn’t want to shout;

But I really
wanted Porky
to be on his way out.

©Donna JT Smith, 10/25/2013

Hmmm.  Looks like mine are taking a "bathroom" theme!  I'd better stop before I get to the next fixture.

Hmm.  Too late!
Knocking at my door
Was a little brown mouse
Why would this tiny rodent
Come to my big house?

He borrowed toilet paper
-didn’t mean to be a pest.

I thought he’d need
some help but
he just rolled it to his nest.

©Donna JT Smith, 10/26/2013


Shhhh!  Don't tell anyone.  Only the people that get this far will know it is my birthday today.

Friday, October 25, 2013

A Falling Out

Maple Pine Oak Birch

No idea what I was going to write before I sat down at 1 pm.  I did not want to miss Poetry Friday.  So this is what came out as I sat looking at these trees out here in my back yard.   Acrostics...?  Ok.  Acrostics it is...or acrostics they are.

Mild mannered
Leaving leaves

Bellowing autumn winds
Intensify yellow flames before the
Remaining white
Candles stand extinguished
High on a hill

Immersed in
Ever green


Hardy boughs
Many a
Little creature
Over the
Cold winter as a
Kindly mother hen's wing.

The only tree I don't see is the willow...but I'm thinking of the willow at a nearby park.
And now to go to read more poetry by visiting our gracious host for Poetry Friday this week:
Irene Latham at Live Your Poem.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Hey, Mortimer, Do You Have a Minute?

Today is Poetry Friday!  Yea, for Fridays and poetry!  When you are finished here head on over to Cathy Mere's Merely Day by Day where she is hosting today's Poetry Friday.  You are sure to find a treasure trove of links to some splendid poems! (splendid... I'm going to use that later today in conversation, I think!)

I am hosting the poetry-loving Mortimer Rabbit for The Mortimer Minute.  He is going to ask me a few questions today, and I will answer them to the best of my ability.
If you would like to have Mortimer visit your website and ask a few questions, here are the 3 guidelines:

1. Answer three short questions, one of them taken from the previous Mortimer Minute.
2. Invite another blogger (or two or three) to take part on the following week--writers, teachers, or anyone who loves children's poetry is the perfect choice.

3. Link to the previous Mortimer Minute and to your choice for next week. 

Well, over at Random Noodling, I discovered Mortimer, the rabbit, interviewing

Me: Hello, Mortimer!  Nice to finally meet you nose to nose.

Mortimer:  Why, yes, I suppose it is.

Me:  So I hear you have some questions you would like to ask of this poetry lover and writer!

Mortimer: Yes, I do.  Here's my first and very most important question: If you were a rabbit and liked to write poetry, what would you write?

Me: Well, I think I might write a little hop-skip-and a jump ditty!

Mortimer: Kitty?  Did you say kitty?  I am not too fond of cats.

Me: No, ditty.  A ditty is just a little something written down like a song or poem...

Mortimer: Oh, okay.  No "Owl and Pussycat" poems, please.  They make me nervous.

Me: Okay, no owls and cats in the ditty.
Here goes:
I hop -
I jump -
I bound around!
I twitch -
I freeze -
I hear a sound!
I spring -
I dart -
I can't be found!

Mortimer: That almost sounded like there WAS a cat or owl in that poem.  And I sounded like a scaredy-rabbit.

Me: Okay, then.  How about this one?

I've the quickest legs for changing gears,
And for rabbit radar, the longest ears.
My nose will ever test the air
To see if I should take some care.
A daily carrot and lettuce leaf
Are good for health, is my belief!
I'm soft and furry,
And prone to hurry;
Although I am small
And you are so tall,
Still you can depend
On this bunny friend!
Make it a habit
To hug your rabbit!

Mortimer (twitching his nose and scratching his left ear): Oh, yes that was much better.  More fitting for me.  Did rabbits some justice, I must say.

Me: Thank you, I'm glad you liked it.

Mortimer: Now, the second thing I'd like to know is - Do you know any rabbit riddles? 

Me:  I do. 

Mortimer: So do I.  Listen carefully and think. What do you call a rabbit that has fleas?  Now that is a question, but it isn't one of my allotted 3 questions, you know.

Me: Okay,  I won't count that question.  Hmmm... What do you call a rabbit that has fleas? It seems it would have to be something like a "buggy rabbit".  Am I right?

Mortimer: No.  The answer is "Bugs Bunny".  But yours was pretty good.  You are clever.  You could be a rabbit - except for those ears.  Can't fix the ears.   Too bad.  But it's the whole package or nothing.

Me:  Well, that's disappointing, but I guess I'll just resign myself to being a human.  I rather like my ears trimmed short anyway.

Mortimer: No accounting for taste. Let's continue.  My third question is this:  I've heard that many poems rhyme, but sometimes they don't.  Which type do you prefer and why?

Me: I would have to say that I prefer ones that rhyme, as you can see from the ones I wrote earlier, though I have written non-rhyming poetry, too.  I like the sound of words that rhyme, I really like the rhythm as they are read and I like the challenge of trying to make the hard work of rhyming sound natural and easy.

Mortimer:  I'm fond of rhyming poetry also.  I wrote a poem, you know.

Me: Really?  Can you recite it?

Mortimer:  (clears throat)
I am a hare, so I am not square. 
I am a bunny, so I don't eat honey.  
I am a rabbit, so I eat carrots.  
That last part is not quite the way I want it yet.  I've some revising to do.
Now, technically this is a fourth question...or fifth really if you were counting, but who's counting?  Oh, dear, that would make 6.  Nevermind.  I asked Diane this question when I was down in New Hampshire -  Which way to the highway? 
Me:  You are in Maine, so there aren't many highways.  Remember, you are also on an island, so you'll have to go over a few bridges to get to the mainland.  Then you will either head north to Canada, or go south or west to New Hampshire.  East wouldn't be a good choice; that takes you to the Atlantic Ocean. It's really close, but I don't think you'll want to swim anywhere, being a rabbit and all.  I think your best plan is to take out your GPS and get a reading from here to where you want to go.

Mortimer:  Oh, you must mean my RBS - my Rabbit Burrowing System.  I know it's somewhere here in my pocket...ah, yes, here it is. Hmmm... It looks like the nearest rabbit hole that leads to Marileta Robinson's place - the next Children's Poetry Lover - is just over there under that hemlock! Well, must be off to the next hop, skip or jump! Lovely meeting you!  Next time we must have lobster and a whoopie pie!

Me:  Good-bye!  It was nice...

And he was gone.  Scoot.  Down the hole.  Just like that.  I would have liked more time with Mortimer, but a minute is like an hour to a fast moving rabbit...

He's on his way to Marileta's place now... a children’s writer and former editor with Highlights for Children and High Five, with poems and stories in Highlights, High Five, and Hello.   Wow, he should have quite a time visiting her!  I'm going to check in next week and see what will be going on. 

Z is for Zoetic

Good Words Alphabetically: Z is for Zoetic Ah, z end of z month... I'm going to miss writing a poem and drawing every day.  Perhaps I wi...