March, 2011

A Little of This…A Little of That…

As Spring break 2011 comes to close, I find myself contemplating my recent week of freedom. I did not accomplish any one great task. Instead, I found myself doing a little of this, and a little of that.

I got my horses shod. Then I had the vet out to vaccinate them (and my monster dogs too), worm them, and draw blood for their Coggins Test. My trainer came over and we saddled them all up and put them through their paces. But poor weather kept us from taking the trail rides we’d planned.

I did some Spring cleaning. Got the pantry cleaned out, but not the closet.

I did some cooking and baking. A lot of baking actually. I purchased veggies for my summer garden. Got the strawberries in the ground, tomatoes and peppers into pots, but the lettuce and beans are still stuck in the original containers thanks to the ongoing frost warning.

I read several novels. (But did not get much done on my own.) 

I had a great visit with my cousin from Ohio.Besides spending hours picking up rocks in my field and tromping through the fields of Wilson’s Creek,  he reminded me that life is short and not to sweat the little stuff. And so, with the support of my husband, I have made the decision to make a major change in my life. I will be taking a year leave of abscence from teaching to focus on writing , and to promote Momma Don’t Own a Machine Gun when it comes out in March 2012. Given the recent financial climate, this is a VERY scary decision for me. However, nothing ventured, nothing gained. Besides banging out a new novel-or two- I hope to complete  the Master Gardening course, get in some serious riding time, and become a gym rat in the hopes of becoming a svelter version of myself in time for my 30 year high school reunion at the end of August.

As I ready myself for school on Monday, it saddened me to think that this will be the last time in a long while that I will be grading persuasive essays or planning how to guide a class through a novel. And I’m definitely not looking forward to cleaning out my classroom. Yet, as I look at the three piles that represent my next projects, it makes my heart skip a beat to know that I will be able to spend hours each day bringing those stories to life.

So here’s to a little of this and  little of that.

Spring is in the air…

What a glorious day! Temps have hit 70′s. The first crocus and daffodils of the season are blooming and we have every window in the house open.

First crocus of the season.

I spent the morning judging LAD Fair entries. The quality of the student’s writing was amazing! We have some excellent writing instruction happening here in the Midwest!

After I got home, we began pre-spring cleaning. I’ve lost count of have many tractor buckets of rocks we have pulled out of the field and the barn is being bug bombed as I write this. (You didn’t really think I meant house cleaning, did you?) I bathed all three of my monster dogs, don’t they look happy?

Beau, Baylei, and Maggie

My farrier is coming Wednesday to shoe Hollywood, AJ and Chief. I’m ready to ride! My riding buddy is home from the hospital and healing nicely.  I’m hoping she’ll be back in the saddle by early summer. In the meantime, my trainer is urging me to join a new drill team in Ava and we planned a couple of trail rides for Spring Break. The horses are shedding their winter coats-I’m in for a good long grooming session tomorrow.




Before we light the BBQ and cook some burgers, I went down to the pond. The fish appreciated the visit!

Through the "Secret Garden Gate" and down to the pond I go!

Pond dock!

The Koi were hungry

Looking forward to sleeping in Sunday, and doing some reading and writing!

Hope your weekend is as glorious as mine!

Write To Learn

I just returned from the Write to Learn Conference at Tan-Tar-A  Resort in Osage Beach, Missouri. I felt like I was at a Writing Project reunion!  Ozark Writing Program alums were everywhere!  Zachery Hamby presented “We Heart Heroes: Teaching Heroes and the Hero’s Journey,” explaining that the Hero’s Journey is a storytelling pattern that has existed for thousands of years. He demonstrated techniques for teaching this pattern using ancient literature, modern comic books, and films like Star Wars and The Lion King.  Colleen Appel, who was awarded a grant from the Community Foundation of the Ozarks to lead a memoir writing class for families, presented, “The Family Writing Project,” sharing the materials necessary to get a family writing project started.  Kim Blevins, asked  and answered the question, “Is there a place in this technological world for a notebook, a glue stick, and some magazines?” in her presentation, “Melding Creativity: Critical Thinking and Community in a Keepsake: the Commonplace Book.”

OWP teacher consultants were also a presence at the Missouri Writing Region of the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards.  Both Nicki Thompson and Kathy Scales sponsored students with winning entries, while OWP Director Dr. Keri Franklin read excerpts of Gold Key winners.

Another highlight of my trip was the MATE/MNWP Reception and Open Mic. Barri Bumgarner did a fantastic job emceeing the event. The poetry and prose Writing Project members shared  had me laughing and crying out loud. And as an added bonus, I learned of a  professional writing retreat offered by Prairie Lands Writing Projects in Conception Abbey-sign me up!

Lastly,  I came home with a new job. Unbelievable, funding for the NWP has been completely cut out of next years federal budget. I will be working with all of the MNWP sites to secure the funds necessary to continue the core programs of the WP in 2012-1013. Without this organization, I would not be a novelist today. And more importantly, I would not have had the knowledge and skill to teach a generation of new writers, who found their voices using  engaging, research based lessons provided through the  years  by the National Writing Project.

Let’s hope and pray we are successful in securing this funding.  Failure would strike a huge blow to education and the nurturing of writers in our schools.

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