Friday, December 18, 2020

Looking forward to 2021

I'm looking forward to 2021 for all sorts of reasons, including one I'll discuss below. First though, I want to share a bit of news regarding our team. Hard to believe, but our newest TeachingAuthor, Gwendolyn Hooks, has already been blogging with us for a year and a half. You may have noticed that she hasn't posted recently. She's currently taking a six-month break to handle other responsibilities. We expect her to return in June.

Meanwhile, we're pleased to announce that Zeena Pliska will be posting in Gwen's spot. Her first post is scheduled in February. Till then, you can learn more about Zeena on our About Us page and also on her website.

So, one of the things I'm looking forward to in 2021 is becoming even more steeped in poetry, both reading and writing it. I hope to also participate more in Poetry Friday. In that spirit, today I'd like to share an excerpt from a poem in Amy Ludwig VanDerwater's wonderful picture book Write! Write! Write! (Wordsong) illustrated by Ryan O'Rourke. Although the collection is meant for young writers, I found plenty of inspiration for my own writing in it, especially in this poem:   

Excerpt from "Timeline"
by Amy Ludwig VanDerwater
(from Write! Write! Write!) 

. . .
Writing a sentence
is building a tower           
block after block   
hour after hour.

I am a writer.
And writing is power.

©2020 Amy Ludwig VanDerwater. All rights reserved.

I hope you'll check out more wonderful poetry in this week's Poetry Friday round up hosted by Michelle Kogan

Please note: the TeachingAuthors will be on our winter break until January 8. We wish all our readers a safe and happy holiday season.

I'm looking forward to learning and growing with you all in 2021!

Carmela Martino

Friday, December 11, 2020

A Quote, a Tree, and Good-bye, 2020!

First of all--thank you, Carmela Martino for switching posting dates with me. In a year where everything that could go wrong, went wrong, my laptop expired the week I was originally supposed to post. Thank you for coming to the rescue...and for that wonderful video of Rebecca Howard singing "You'll Never Walk Alone." (Howard's sabbatical from the Alabama Shakes is one of the good things about this year.)

After all the posts in this topic of "Inspirational Quotes" by my fellow TA's, it's hard to find anything to say, that they haven't said already, and better than I could. So that leaves my "inspiring quote." Being the Eternal Librarian, I double-checked my sources before I wrote this. It appears my "quote" has a dubious history. Sigh. Leave it to me to find inspiration in a historical mystery.

You can tell when I'm stressed or troubled by looking at my Kindle reading queue. Tales of the Resistance movements during WWII. Heroic quests of people leaving a violent homeland, finding a new one. Stories of Ordinary People in Extraordinary Times. 

My reading included more than one book about the Holocaust. In one of them, (I can't remember which one...there were so many) I thought I read this, by Anne Frank's father, Otto: "Even if I knew I would die tomorrow, I would still plant a tree today."

That really had an impact on me. Everyone has had the Year from Hell. My personal "mental hell" was being officially declared "elderly" by the CDC. I never think about age at all. I'm a life-long late bloomer--late to marry, give birth, publish--which means that my peers in those events were generally much younger than me. So I've spend most of my adult life with people ten to twenty years younger than me, while my actual "peer group" had moved on to being retired grandparents. But in one fell swoop, medicine declared people my age "elderly" and "at risk." Although I'm in better shape than ever, and my parents and grandparents lived impossibly long and healthy lives, I felt as if The End Was Near. That everything good and useful was being done by the young. I was elderly and "fragile" and should stay out of everyone's way.

I know this feeling doesn't make sense. Feelings rarely do. So Otto Frank's "quote" inspired me to re-engage with the world, crazy as it is right now.

Alas, Otto Frank did not say this. He didn't even say something sort of like this.

The actual quote is "Even if I knew the world would go to pieces tomorrow, I would still plant my apple tree." 

The quote is attributed to Martin Luther. Ironic, because I was raised in the Lutheran Church, and outside of Luther's Small Catechism which I had to memorize, I don't recall anything memorable that Luther ever said. (Not memorable to me, at least.)

But wait...what is this asterisk next to the quote?  What? No! What does that mean,"allegedly attributed?" A little more digging and, I find this: No one knows who really said this. It seems to have first surface in Nazi-era Germany. It is believed to have been something the German Lutheran Church manufactured and attributed to Luther to "give people hope in a dark time."

Well-done, German Lutherans! Even if the quote was not authentic to Luther and his time, it certainly spoke to me in our current "dark time." So in honor of Martin Luther, fake quotes and the year 2020, I light my candle. But most of all, to my fellow Teaching Authors. You shine your light in all years and circumstances. I'm honored to be one of you. Here's to planting our apple trees in 2021.

Posted by Mary Ann Rodman

Friday, December 4, 2020


 Howdy, Campers, and Happy Poetry Friday! (my poem and a link to PF is at the end)

Our topic this round? A Favorite Book, Poem, or Quote.  Gwendolyn started us by recommending the book, I SEE YOU-I SEE MYSELF; Carmela followed with 3 Favorite Books + an Inspiring Song; Bobbi came next with a wonderful quote from Emma Dryden and more; Esther cheers us on with Three 2020 Favorite Books to Keep Us Keepin' On; now it's my turn.

I love quotations. Like so many of us, I collect them. And when I teach onsite, every week I paste quotes on walls and windows of my classroom which reflect that week's topic. I have lots of favorite political quotes, too. But one in particular has kept me afloat all year. It's been in my files and by my side in the past, but this year I wrote it on our bathroom wall (which is a whiteboard). 

Today I wrote to a dear friend: You sent 160 Vote Forwards?!?!! Wowee, Rooti, way to go!

I just taught class #9 of 10. It's been like a long walk through the Valley of Death, this business of  learning how to teach on Zoom, but now I feel I'm on the other side of the valley...

There was a day in early summer that I broke down from the craziness of technology, screwed-up passwords, fears of Covid, isolation, mising my son, our "toddler-in-chief" etc. I wailed like a banshee. Gary said in the 40 years we've been together he's never seen me that dark. 

But now my class is almost over and it's been rewarding in so many surprising ways. And there's hope on the political horizon thanks in part to you, Rooti.

And one quote has helped me walk through it all:

The following is what I call a Golden Quote poem. Modeled after Golden Shovel poems, the last word of each line forms a quote.

by April Halprin Wayland

Once there was one

bird. Such a lonely little bird. No person,

no fellow sparrow, no tin can

to roll around rocks. Only

a wee plant, its round leaves shining, as leaves do.

That bitter winter, those round leaves wilted. So

Little Bird wrapped her wings around the plant. Did it help? It helped so much.

poem and drawings © 2020 April Halprin Wayland. All rights reserved

One person can only do so much.

One person (or bird) can only do so much.

What's your favorite quote?

Thank you, Mary Lee for hosting PF at A Year of Reading!

posted with a deep breath of gratitude for you,dear readers, and for my students this quarter who are very forgiving by April Halprin Wayland, with help from her trusty hiking partner, Eli-the-old-but-hanging-in-there-dog.

Today's hike tired Eli out.