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Dog Ear: A reader’s best friend.

If this dog could read, he would!
If this dog could read, he would!

Dog Ear is one of the best book recommendation blogs for young adult readers. So, if you need to sit and read a book, go fetch one you might like, and don’t waste time chasing your tail.

(And no, I’m not above pandering to you by using a cute photograph of an Aussie.)

If you want something interesting to chew on, find a book that speaks to you.

(Dog Ear is named such because to ‘dog ear’ a page in a book you turn the corner down to hold your place, or one of your favorite places, such as a dog’s ear flops down.)

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One Man BandYesterday was kind of a weird day. I normally don’t dislike Mondays, but yesterday, I did- I was feeling all Garfieldish and cranky (I am not a fan of Garfield, so even to allude to him demonstrates how Monday it felt.) I was still feeling work-lag from the weekend. Orchestrating every minute to get the most done possible on my current BIG project, the BIG expensive project, the BIG project that has only a 50% chance of succeeding according to “project” statistics, nothing I did played in concert. There was no synchronicity. It was all out of tune.

So, I faced Monday feeling like a failure. Adding to the weight of my current burden, others presented their burdens to me as well. A good friend advised me not to pick those up as well. Let them carry their own bags for awhile; I’ve got enough of my own gear to lug around, and I don’t have a place for it all. And I don’t know where the tuning fork went, but I believe it’s causing me some pain.

The BIG show is coming up–there is an end date. Everyone bought their tickets and the venue is sold out. And the reviews won’t come in for eight months. I’m practicing, creating, and writing to a group of faceless, nameless critics who are sitting in a darkened theatre, holding their applause. And my drummer just imploded, a-la Spinal Tap.

But, you know what they say: The Show Must Go On.

I just wish it felt more like a rock show than a funeral march.

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Love letters…

John Keats










From: The Writer’s Almanac, February 8, 2010:

Valentine’s Day is coming up on Sunday, and we’re celebrating all week with love letters from the literary world.

Poet John Keats (books by this author) lived to be just 25 years old, but in that time he wrote some of the most exquisite love letters in the English language. The letters were to Fanny Brawne to whom he became engaged.

He was 23 years old, recently back from a walking tour of Scotland, England, and Ireland (during which time he’d probably caught the tuberculosis that would soon kill him), and had moved back to a grassy area of London, where he met and fell in love with Fanny Brawne. During this time, he composed a number of his great poems, including Ode to a Nightingale. And one Wednesday in the autumn, he wrote this letter, considered by many the most beautiful in the English language:

My dearest Girl,
This moment I have set myself to copy some verses out fair. I cannot proceed with any degree of content. I must write you a line or two and see if that will assist in dismissing you from my Mind for ever so short a time. Upon my soul I can think of nothing else. The time is passed when I had power to advise and warn you against the unpromising morning of my Life. My love has made me selfish. I cannot exist without you. I am forgetful of every thing but seeing you again — my Life seems to stop there — I see no further. You have absorb’d me. I have a sensation at the present moment as though I was dissolving — I should exquisitely miserable without the hope of soon seeing you. I should be afraid to separate myself far from you. My sweet Fanny, will your heart never change? My love, will it? I have no limit now to my love … I have been astonished that Men could die Martyrs for religion — I have shudder’d at it. I shudder no more. I could be martyr’d for my religion — love is my religion — I could die for that. I could die for you. My Creed is Love and you are its only tenet. You have ravish’d me away by a Power I cannot resist; and yet I could resist till I saw you; and even since I have seen you I have endeavored often “to reason against the reasons of my Love.” I can do that no more — the pain would be too great. My love is selfish. I cannot breathe without you.

Yours for ever
John Keats

The following spring, Keats wrote: “My dear Girl, I love you ever and ever and without reserve. The more I have known you the more I have lov’d. … You are always new. The last of your kisses was ever the sweetest; the last smile the brightest; the last movement the gracefullest. When you pass’d my window home yesterday, I was filled with as much admiration as if I had then seen you for the first time.”

Keats and Brawne became engaged. He wanted to earn some money for them before they got married. But then he began coughing up blood. When he saw it, he said: “I know the color of that blood; it is arterial blood. I cannot be deceived in that color. That drop of blood is my death warrant. I must die.” He wrote to tell her that she was free to break off their engagement since he would likely not survive. But she would not, and he was hugely relieved. But he died before they married.


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Allusions are no illusions.

Pinchy, from "Lisa Gets an A" episode
Pinchy, from "Lisa Gets an A" episode

In the Simpsons’ episode, “Lisa Gets An A,”, Homer becomes discouraged by the price per pound of fresh lobster, and seeks to “grow” his own lobster for his consumption. However, he bonds with the lobster, caring, feeding, talking to it, and even taking it for walks.

As I’m watching the episode, it strikes me as odd that Homer would grow to care for his potential dinner so much that he would take it for a walk, but it’s funny nonetheless.

As most things, I didn’t realize really how clever the good writers of the Simpsons were at the time, until….

…I was reading Mary Karr’s novel, Lit.

It’s a definitely a “grown up” book–she battles her long-standing deep emotional scars of her past. Her crazy, butcher-knife wielding mother and wild-cat, alcoholic daddy play key roles, and she must come to terms with her own choices, and try to improve on being a wife and mother, before it’s too late. She’s trying to find the power of prayer right now; and it dawned on me, that if you’re battling demons, you probably need a few angels on your side, in whatever manifestation that takes.

ANYWAY…..(sorry). There is a section where she ALLUDES to the father of surrealism, who, YOU GUESSED IT…used to take his PET LOBSTER FOR WALKS.

I thought I bookmarked that passage in my Kindle, but I didn’t. However, because of the POWER OF THE E-READER, I can do a search for “lobster,” and voila! It was “Apollinaire in Paris, just in from walking his lobster down the street on a leash.”

In fact, three instances of the word “lobster” appear in Karr’s novel: 1. lobster grip, location 2167; 2. lobster down the street, location 3392; 3. we boil lobsters and stuff ourselves with…location 4856.

 So, now the reference to Homer being such as Apollinaire in the early 20th century Paris, is even funnier. I get it. And that is the power of allusions – increasing comprehension by increasing and deepening connections.

Now, I am even more curious. Who was the father of surrealism? And who was Apollinaire?

When I searched for the “father of surrealism” I found:

Giuseppe Arcimboldo, who painted paintings such as this example:










But, Karr is referring to Guillaume Apollinaire:

From continuing research, it seems like he liked to draw poems:

apollinaireToday we call this Shape Poetry.










Want to know more about “surrealism?” Check this out:

Salvador Dali, Henri Matisse, Rene Magritte are a few artists who created in the style of surrealism.


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Heureusement pour moi.


As many of you know, I did not take a straight path to becoming a teacher. I did not set up my stuffed animals and Barbie dolls as if they were in a pretend classroom, teaching them lessons and sending them to Principal Teddy Bear’s office. I did not graduate from high school and go straight to a teacher’s college, such as Columbia, Ohio State, or Joe’s Teach-N-Fix School. So, I wasn’t in a frame of mind to prepare myself for the brave, new world that was coming my way. During my time in high school, the language classes I took were French. Ah, je regrette!

Que devais-je penser?

In our district, there are over 100 languages spoken. Many students come from the gamut of countries where there are few or no opportunities for small economic growth to countries ravaged by war. The majority of students speak both Spanish and English. If I had been thinking in high school, I would have taken Spanish. Spanish is the second most common language spoken in the United States. We would probably notice Canadians, but the majority of them speak English, too. Sans manquer de respect, les Canadiens français.

Needless to say, I never had the opportunity to practice speaking French. I have never been to Paris, France, or even Paris, Texas, for that matter. When Spanish-speaking students whose English skills are on the edge of greatness, but they are still straddling the bi-lingual abyss, I have often wished I had taken Spanish instead to nudge and support them.

But now we have a student who speaks French, from the Congo. C’est fantastique! And my team teacher brought her in yesterday morning to ask me to tell her that school doesn’t start until 8:25.

Uh oh. To say my French was a bit rusty is a understatement. I gestured and said ecole, and huit heure vingt cinq, but I am not sure she understood. I said, Mon nom est Madame Love, and sent her on her way.

And immediately went to Google Translator for other phrases, such as:

I want to practice speaking French: Je veux pratiquer parler français.


The building doesn’t open until 8:25: Le bâtiment n’a pas ouvert jusqu’à 8h25.

I can only imagine what this confused, scared, and overwhelmed young lady must think of me, the school, and the U.S. But I want to help. I don’t know if Google translator can handle all of the questions she has, or can help me guide her to all the answers. I don’t even have them myself. But we’ll try. Nous allons essayer de comprendre les uns les autres.

There are other questions, such as, “Why do people in the Congo speak French?” And there we get into cultural diffusion/assimilation: and more poignantly, “What is happening in the Congo now?” I know Google can’t answer that.

To try Google translate: