Anticipating Dewey’s 24 Hour Readathon Coming Soon

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I posted this photograph of a most spectacular coffee, enjoyed with my mother in Toronto, in response to #30daysofreadathon on Instagram. Not because it’s banner worthy, such as one I made several years ago, but because coffee will be required to read for 24 hours on October 21.

That’s my husband’s birthday, of course. There will be no 24 hours of reading for me, because my attention will be required elsewhere. In consuming birthday cake, for example, or walking through autumnal leaves with him and our dog, Humphrey. But, when he no longer needs me by his side, for that day at least, I will turn to such a stack of books as I have been hoarding since school began August 28.

The stack is yet to be fully revealed. For now, some of the titles include:

Should you wish to partake in this reading extravaganza, for any amount of time you are able, the sign-ups are here. It has been a time honored event for ten years, one I haven’t missed…ever.

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Created to Create 2 (Finished booklet)

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As you may have seen on Facebook or Instagram, I have become so enamored with the devotional kits from Illustrated Faith. Your may use them to journal directly in a Bible, or may assemble the cards into a little booklet as I have done with Persevere and Created to Create 2.

I do not feel terribly creative, despite my affection for origami and other artistic endeavors such as photography or watercolors, but that is not the point. The point is that because we are created by a creative God, and created in His image, then we are creative, too.

The little booklet I assembled is held with a keychain which one of my students brought me as an end of the year gift last year from Singapore. “Ah ha!” I thought. “Teaching is a gift. Creating relationships is a form of creating.”

Can you think of creative gifts you have? Do you care to tell us about them in the comments? I’d love to know how you expand on this theme.

My favorite Illustrated Faith page so far, with a favorite verse

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“But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; struck down but not destroyed…”

2 Corinthians 4:7-8

(As for the page itself, I find myself preferring a simple entry rather than a complicated one, a watercolor entry vs. slathered on acrylic; one word rather than many.)

Richard’s Literature of Doom; a spark of hope for my dying interest

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Behold the left corner of one of my shelves of Russian literature. It carries on, of course, into my shelves, nook and kindle. I have a deep and abiding affection for those Russians.

So Richard’s announcement of the Argentinian Literature of Doom, also including French and Russian authors, appeals to me intensely. It is just what I need after finishing what I consider to be the three best of the Man Booker list and dragging myself through the final remaining titles. More on that later.

For this particular event, the participants are asked to read one fiction and one nonfiction work of an Argentinian, French or Russian author. I believe there is something to do with being “allowed” to watch a film in those categories, as well. Richard will link up every month to those reviews.

As for me, I will finish the reread of Anna Karenina I began before the Man Booker long list was revealed. And surely I could fit in Volume 1 of The Gulag Archipelago by Solzhenitsyn, something I’ve long been meaning to read.

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I may even have something Argentinian in the wings.

The Timer Has Begun

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I used to go to Institute Day and wonder where all my friends had gone. I would joke to my team, most of whom could be my daughters in terms of age, “They’re either dead or retired.”

And now that’s me.

Not dead, of course. But looking retirement square in the face.

“Happy last First Day!” my old student, turned student teacher, turned teacher himself, said. “Happy last First Day!” resounded through the halls on Thursday when the children first entered the building.

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My friends and colleagues are happy for me. Certainly, I am happy as well. I have an air-conditioned room for the first time in 34 years. More importantly, I have a classroom of beautiful children. They are polite and sweet and smart; one of the girls asked me (asked me!) if she could turn over the hour glass above, as I bought one for my room, too.

But, I see the time running out as it has a way of doing. Time, so elusive. Time, so quick. A time for everything.

For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:
a time to be born, and a time to die;
a time to plant and a time to pluck up what is planted;
a time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to break down, and a time to build up;
a time to weep, and a time to laugh,;
a time to mourn and a time to dance;
a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing;
a time to seek and a time to lose;
a time to keep and a time to cast away;
a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
a time to love, and a time to hate;
a time for war, and a time for peace.”

~Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

This year I will be making many memories in my classroom.

One last time.

The Gunslinger by Stephen King (about the story this time)

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Roland, the gunslinger, isn’t any one I can admire right now, even though he is clearly the hero.

He isn’t a hero as I would define one: honest, fearless, and loyal.

He wanders through the dry desert, following the tracks of the man in black, leaving  destruction in his wake. Allie, with whom he has slept (for information) is dead; the town, Tull, is destroyed behind him.

He meets a boy, a brave boy named Jake, who has somehow withstood the heat, the lack of food and water. They go together, the boy clearly admiring the gunslinger and asking for stories from his youth. How, for example, did Roland become a man?

The answer is less than pleasant. The gunslinger used a trick against his teacher, choosing a weapon which was perfectly admissible and yet most difficult to take a position against. The battle is bloody, and I can tell this is just the beginning of many such battles.

For there are hints that Roland will exchange the boy, use him as “a poker chip” which Jake himself knows, when next they meet the man in black.

It ain’t no Girl Scout camp, this journey to the Tower. The fact that Roland came from New Canaan ought to be enough to tell you that, for as anyone knows, Canaan was not a land of the noble or good. No matter what Stephen King may tell you.

It will be interesting to see where this series takes us, if I continue in reading all 7 books. After I get back to the Man Booker list, of course.

“Flip Through” of my Midori for July

I may have told you, through my blogging years, how much meaning an analogue life holds for me. Which is an interesting thing to note on a digital format. There is so much pleasure in looking back over one’s day, or week, or month, or years(s). Better than a scrapbook is the Midori Traveler’s Notebook, for it holds a calendar, a journal and photographs; a paper trail of that which is my life.

So why tell you that here? Because as summer draws to a close, and fall is showing up ever increasingly in the darker morning, the bits of red edging the leaves, the ads for Back To School, I suggest this system for you.

My Midori holds my “calendar” as pictured above, but also an insert for the Bible studies I do each day, as well as a commonplace book for the reading I do.

I can’t imagine how I managed life without it.

“Better is the end of a thing than its beginning…”

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I have put up a diaphanous net in my room. It is sheer, and sways slightly in whatever breeze comes our way, and I am certain the fire department will make me take it down when they come to inspect the school in October. Maybe I’ll just nod my head politely and ignore the directives, as I am prone to do at this stage of my career.

I am facing my last year of teaching, and it makes me happy-sad. Mostly, right now, it is making me sad.

My colleagues exclaim in wonder how it is possible that I am able to retire at the end of the year; my husband told me to say, “I know! These past thirty-five years went by so quickly!” Which they did.

I was offered a job with the Department of Defense Dependents Schools in West Germany fresh out of college. The principal said, “Let me see you teach,” and sat in the back of a fifth grade classroom where I was subbing all afternoon. When she called me into her office at 4:00 she told me I was hired, and I haven’t stopped teaching since.

Not when my son was born in 1991, nor when his father died in 1997. Not when I had surgeries on my feet or surgeries in my mouth. Fortunately, the areas in between have held up much better.

Teaching is what I know; teaching has been my life. Now I am looking at the end of this beautiful career spent with beautiful children. It is so strange to know that this coming class is the last new class I’ll ever greet.

In 1984, I was handed a set of manuals, the academic standards, and an empty classroom. Now, we have Smartboards and document cameras and Chromebooks and Google classroom, and I am the only one who still teaches cursive along with all the technology.

I teach origami, too, and the love of literature, and the joy of laughter.

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I think that the diaphanous net is symbolic of so many things: the years fluttering by; the old ways of pedagogy; time. What can I hold in my hand? Like Wilbur who watched Charlotte’s children fly away on their gossamer strings, I am watching what I have done, whom I have taught, all the things that I have been, sway in the breeze. It is the way of the world.

It is time for me to learn new things.

Better is the end of a thing than its beginning, and the patient in spirit is better than the proud in spirit.” Ecclesiastes 7:8 ESV

 

Japanese Literature Challenge 11: Welcome!

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I can’t help but think of Japanese literature especially in the month of June, for that is when summer begins, and that is when I have always hosted the Japanese Literature Challenge. Mel U and I have been chatting on Twitter this morning, deciding that our stack of Japanese books calls our attention. I am looking forward to seeing what he has planned. (Here is a list of suggested titles from the Japanese Literature Challenge 9. Here is a post from Mel’s blog, The Reading Life, on getting started.)

I have received some lovely books as gifts, and for review, which are as follows:

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Are You An Echo? The Lost Poetry of Misuzu Kaneko narrated and translated by a David Jacobson, Sally Ito and Michiko Tsuboi

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The Gate by Natsume Soseki

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Men Without Women by Haruki Murakami

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Absolutely on Music by Haruki Murakami

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The Pillow Book by Sei Shonagon

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The Guest Cat by Takashi Hiraide

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The Amulet Series by Kazu Kibuishi (because my classes have loved them and I bought an autographed set when the author came to visit)

And, Europa Editions has just published The Nakano Gift Shop by Hiromi Kawakami this June.

So, I hope you will join us again this year, or perhaps for the first time. The challenge runs from June through January, “requiring” only one work (or more, if you choose) which has been originally written in Japanese. I have placed a challenge button on the bottom of my blog under which I will list the participants, as well as the titles and links to reviews you have read. I will also post updates every month highlighting the books we read. Please be sure to let me know in a comment below if you would like to participate, and/or when you have a book reviewed.

I’m looking forward to this time together!

Missing The Old Days of Blogging, Yet Embracing a New Term Defined by Old Friends

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I’m feeling a bit nostalgic today, especially after reading Arti‘s post on her ten year anniversary of blogging. The eleventh year of starting my blog came and went in May; I’m not even sure what day it was, exactly, as I’ve deleted my first posts in embarrassment of their poor quality.

I’ve gone from Blogger to WordPress, twice,  and I don’t care what anyone may say about the platform one uses, I feel strongly that one associates the most with those bloggers who are using the same platform.

I used to write more personal posts.

I used to read more popular fiction.

Now I have landed squarely in a world of translated literature which I adore, which enriches my life immeasurably, but…this morning I miss the old days. I miss silly old memes, posting about food, giving a few updates on my life.

Yet Linda, in all her wisdom, suggests that she and Arti (and I’m going to throw myself in with them) have landed in a place of “slow blogging”. There’s a lovely peace here. It means, in my interpretation, a lack of pressure to write posts according to a schedule. A lack of pressure to review what one feels one ought to review, be it film or text or thought. And, perhaps it means a lack of pressure to leave comments on every post you read. Sometimes just visiting, just landing for a moment at an old friend’s blog is enough.

Still, there will always be a special place for you in my heart, my old friends from 2006 and beyond. I’ll be around to visit you, and I’ll leave a few sentences so you know I’ve been there.

xo