Thursday, December 24, 2009

My Christmas gift to you: Favorite Christmas Carols/ Tunes

Okay, so I had fun ripping on some horrible Christmas songs yesterday. Now I will treat you to my personal favorites. There are quite a few more of these, and surprisingly, there are several people who made my "worst" list who have an entry on my "best" list. I guess they just were the risk-taking types, no? As per usual, I will try to include a video with each as I can find them. I can't really put these in any particular order; the only thing I can tell you is that I will let you know which one is my ultimate favorite at the very end. Please enjoy!

1. "Wonderful Christmastime" by Paul McCartney.
I think this song embodies the happiness and simplicity of the joyful season. I can't help smiling when I hear it. That's what a modern Christmas song should be.

2. "Step Into Christmas" by Elton John.
I love that it opens with "Welcome to my Christmas song, I'd like to thank you for the year." What a nice, humble gesture from a superstar. Otherwise it manages to conjure the same feeling for me as the McCartney tune.

3. The Twelve Days of Christmas by Straight No Chaser.
If you haven't seen this version of it yet, you MUST watch it. It is guaranteed to put a smile on your face, especially toward the end. Trust me.

4. The Twelve Days of Christmas by John Denver and the Muppets.
Any self-respecting Muppets fan would agree that there is nothing quite like Beaker taking a solo: "Mee mee mee mee mee mee!"

5. "Some Children See Him" by James Taylor.
I love his whole Christmas album, but I really like this song; the lyrics are so beautiful, so I chose it to represent the album.

6. The Nutcracker Suite.
This will always remind me of Christmas since I went to see the ballet every year from when I was about seven until high school. I don't have a particular favorite version, as long as the themes are recognizable. Here's probably my very favorite song from it when I was a little girl. I wanted to BE the Sugar Plum Fairy.

7. "White Christmas" by Bing Crosby.
Probably my favorite non-religious Christmas song. It's a great movie, too! And I love Bing's voice. Having lived part of my life in southern California, I truly appreciate the white Christmases I've had and will have in the future.

8. "The Christmas Song" by Nat King Cole.
It's a close call for me between Nat's version and Mel Tormé's original, but I had to go with Nat here since I haven't chosen his other songs. Just a gorgeous voice.

9. "Christmastime is Here" by the Vince Guaraldi Trio.
The classic song from the Peanuts' Christmas special. I love both versions: the instrumental and the one with the children's choir. I think the words are terrific, which makes it understandable why so many artists have covered the tune. However, call me old-fashioned (I am in this case!), but I still like the original the best.

9. "The Christmas Waltz" by the Carpenters.
I told you I love me some Carpenters. Here is the proof. A lovely song not many people sing anymore, but I like it. I particularly like Karen Carpenter's version of anything since our singing voices are scarily alike.

11. "I'll Be Home for Christmas" by Michael Bublé.
I have grown to truly appreciate this song since having to divide my time on holidays between my family and my in-laws. We trade off on Thanksgiving and Christmas, and it works well but it still doesn't prevent me from missing my mom a bit when the big day is approaching. Sigh. Michael Bublé is not bad to listen to (or look at) while feeling these pangs, however.

12. "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" by Judy Garland.
I used to tease my husband for preferring the "depressing" original lyrics to the song, but considering it was written during World War II and reunions were much more uncertain at the time, I have come to love it too. So this one's for you, honey.

13. "In the Bleak Mid-Winter" by Julie Andrews
This is my all-time favorite Christmas carol; it doesn't really matter to me who is singing it. I chose this version because I particularly love the words: it is a poem written by Christina Rossetti and it can make me tear up sometimes. What a lovely way to prepare your heart for Christmas.

14. Ave Maria (Biebl version) by Chanticleer.
Okay, I know I said earlier that technically Ave Maria is not a Christmas song. But people do tend to think of Mary around Christmas (I wonder why?), and this arrangement of the song is my favorite ever, to listen to or perform. I love the soaring soprano line; I was lucky enough to sing that part once. Ahh. And Chanticleer is the most amazing all-male a cappella singing group ever. I mean it. They can sing anything.

15. "O Holy Night" by Josh Groban.
I adore Josh Groban's operatic-caliber voice and how effortlessly he seems to sing. I am very sad to say that apparently this song is unavailable on iTunes, and somehow he left it off of his Christmas album last year. However, I think that his version is the best one recorded in the last 10 years.

16. "God Rest Ye, Merry Gentlemen" by the Barenaked Ladies and Sarah McLachlan.
Two of my favorite Canadian acts team up for this one. I like the fresh take on the song as well.

17. "I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day" by Jars of Clay.
I adore the words of this song as well; it encompasses the discouragement we can all feel at this time, but ends with such hope. I love the older versions too, but I could find the video of the Jars version.

18. "Beautiful Star of Bethlehem" by the Judds.
This is another nostalgic song for me. My mom had the Judds' Christmas album and we learned the harmonies and sang along with them. This is her favorite song from the CD, and I love it as well. I have only ever heard one other group even sing this song, but it is really a pretty, lilting song.

19. "Love Came Down at Christmas" by Jars of Clay.
This is another Rossetti poem set to music, reiterating the theme that love is at the heart of Christmas. What better message could there be?

20. "Christmas Song" by Dave Matthews.
One of the few original Christmas songs to come out in the last few years that I think is brilliant. Just a beautiful, gentle song.

21. "What Child is This (Greensleeves)" by Sarah McLachlan.
I like this hymn anyway, but Sarah's take on it is really unique, and I like it. Very soothing, making it almost like a lullaby.

I hope you enjoy my little collection as much as I do. Please feel free to comment on your favorite, whether or not I included it. My Christmas playlist is over 12 hours long, so I had to be very picky choosing these few songs. Odds are I have at least some version of yours too!

I hope everyone has a blessed holiday season and a marvelous, enlightening new year.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Top Ultra Most Hated Christmas Carols

Today, as promised, I will elaborate on my most-hated Christmas carols. For now, I cannot finish my tribute poem as I said I would yesterday--I was drawn into a spontaneous game of Skip-Bo with the in-laws. Family bonding will trump blogging for the time being.

Anyway, here it is without further ado. These songs are in no particular order; they all make me want to rip my hair out by the roots. There are fifteen, so it's a good length CD to throw at something moving very fast so that it shatters. I don't blame you if you don't click on the videos to hear these monstrosities (a few of which I am sure you have anyway, and I'm sorry), but I will provide them when available.

1. "The Twelve Pains of Christmas."

This song makes me grate my teeth until I feel like I am getting a headache. It is a poor attempt to parody the original Twelve Days of Christmas song, but it features very bad impressions of Archie Bunker, a whiny kid and assorted other characters I don't want to hear complaining about the negative aspects of the Christmas season. I feel that if a song is supposed to be funny, if it is not funny, it fails.

2. "The Twelve Days of Christmas" performed by the Sinatra family:
Frank, Nancy, and Frank Jr. Frank thought it would be cute to turn the song into a list of crappy presents he got from his kids. It wasn't. 'Nuff said.

3. "Santa Baby" by Madonna.
I think this song can be pretty cute and/or funny when performed with some subtlety, but when Madonna sings it, it is like she is either drunk or trying very hard to be Adelaide from Guys and Dolls, doing her strongest New York accent. Ugh.

4. "Merry Christmas, Darling" by the Carpenters.

Don't get me wrong, I love me some Carpenters. I grew up with their "Christmas Portrait" album playing many times throughout December and own a copy myself. But this original (I think) song on that album is just the cheesiest thing I have ever heard. I mean, really: "The logs on the fire fill me with desire/ to see you and to say..."???? I have yet to be turned on by firewood. I realize that is not what the lyric is intending to mean, but when you leave a big pause right there, that's how it sounds. Fail.

5. "Old Fashioned Christmas" by Frank Sinatra.
This is looking like I don't like Frank either. I do, usually, but he is great at finding some cheese. This is another example of it. I take particular issue with two very dated lines from the song: "My mom's there in the kitchen, basting the Christmas bird", and "You can't find that at the Automat."

6. "Jingle Bells" by the Glenn Miller Orchestra.
I usually adore big band arrangements, but upon hearing this version of Jingle Bells, I just about choked. It contains a horrible original verse in which "Down in Mexico, we ain't got no snow...sit around all day, hear the music play, ev'ry time we sing, tequila glasses ring!" Um, racist much??? Those lazy, drunken Mexicans. I am appalled that they are still playing this crap on the Holiday Traditions station on Sirius XM Radio. It may be traditional to be racist, but we don't need to perpetuate that one.

7. "Jingle Bells" by Barbra Streisand.

This is abhorrent for other reasons. First of all, as she often is, Streisand gets overindulgent with her arrangement. Secondly, she decides to act superior to everyone listening to her sing by attempting to dismiss the line "he got into a drifted bank and then we got upsot," by repeating, "Upsot??" as if it is not a word. Barbie, honey, it may not seem like a word to you, but think for two seconds about your context clues. If you're riding in a sleigh and it runs into a big ole snowbank, what do you think will happen? What words you know sound like upsot? Upset, perhaps?? Sigh.

8. "The Christmas Shoes."
This song is played entirely too much every year. I feel like it was written by some disturbed individual who is preying on everyone's emotions around the holidays in order to sell some copies of a song. It is attempting to pull every string to get a tear to the listener's eye: a sob story, not-very-talented children singing, and a kid whose story could just as easily be a scam for him to then take the "Christmas shoes" down the street and fence them for cash. Ugh.

9. "Christmas Song" by the Chipmunks.
Again, this song tends to be very overplayed. Maybe it is especially annoying lately to me because of the two horrible movies made featuring the rodents in the past few years, but I could go my whole life without hearing this song again.

10. "Last Christmas" by Wham!
This is my least favorite of the genre of Christmas songs that I feel has the least to do with the actual holiday: the whiny love song. OK, it sucks that you tried to give your heart to a jerkwad last year, but do you have to whine about it this year too? Other songs in this genre are "All I Want for Christmas is You," "Blue Christmas," and the ever-popular "Pretty Paper." Apparently the birth of a savior means nothing to these people if they can't get laid. UGH.

This one pairs inane lyrics ("Merry Christmas" x4, "The hope that he brings" x4, etc.) with some really questionable chords in the children's choir. Probably my least favorite part is near the end, however, when they repeat the soprano line: "On this night! On this night! On this very Christmas night!" about 500 times.

12. "Merry Christmas America."
As far as I remember, this song was just an attempt to turn "God Bless the U.S.A." into a Christmas song. Apparently it has gone into hiding, however; I can't find it on Google despite repeated attempts to locate it. Perhaps because the title seems to coincide with a lot of op-ed pieces on the so-called "War on Christmas." Not going there.

13. "Do You Hear What I Hear?" by Whitney Houston.
Unfortunately, if you are listening closely to the lyrics of the recorded (not the live video above, that is just for reference) rendition, Miss Whitney is not completely with it for one reason or another. She clearly misses some lyrics entirely. I am not sure how this take ended up being the one considered "radio ready;" I probably would not have wanted to be present for the recording sessions if this is really the best take she did.

14. ANYTHING by the Ray Conniff Singers.
Their arrangements are the ultimate in bile-attracting cheese, and their delivery leaves nearly everything to be desired. Ever heard their version of "Rudolph, the Red-nosed Reindeer"? It's the one with people shouting "Rudolph! Rudolph! Rudolph, the red-nosed reindeer!!" Do I have to explain further why they are horrible?

15. "Christmas in the Northwest" by Brenda White.
I am pretty sure most people living outside of the Pacific Northwest region have been spared this gem, but it is SO incredibly cheesy that I had to share it with the masses here. The chorus: "Christmas in the Northwest/ is a gift we all can share. / Christmas in the Northwest/ is a child's answered prayer. / Take away the presents / and they still have a dream, / for Christmas in the Northwest / is a gift God wrapped in green." Need I say more?

So, there you have it. Fifteen putrid, festering excuses for the frothy delight that SHOULD be Christmas songs. I'm sure I probably left some that make you retch off my list. Feel free to share your misery with me--I may have just forgotten about that one!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Poetry Challenge #21: "Night Before Christmas" tribute poem

This challenge, aside from being inspired by the season, is a bit of nostalgia for me. I used to read my dolls the traditional Clement Moore poem every Christmas Eve, and I plan to do the same for my children when they are old enough. So it is with the utmost respect that I will write my own version.

First, for everyone's reference, here is the original poem:

'Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there.

The children were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads.
And mamma in her kerchief, and I in my cap,
Had just settled our brains for a long winter’s nap.

When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter.
Away to the window I flew like a flash,
Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.

The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow
Gave the luster of midday to objects below.
When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But a miniature sleigh, and eight tiny reindeer.

With a little old driver, so lively and quick,
I knew in a moment it must be St. Nick.
More rapid than eagles his coursers they came,
And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name!

"Now, Dasher! now, Dancer! now, Prancer and Vixen!
On, Comet! On, Cupid! on, Donner and Blitzen!
To the top of the porch! to the top of the wall!
Now dash away! Dash away! Dash away all!"

As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,
When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky.
So up to the house-top the coursers they flew,
With the sleigh full of toys, and St. Nicholas too.

And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the roof
The prancing and pawing of each little hoof.
As I drew in my head, and was turning around,
Down the chimney St. Nicholas came with a bound.

He was dressed all in fur, from his head to his foot,
And his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot.
A bundle of toys he had flung on his back,
And he looked like a peddler, just opening his pack.

His eyes, how they twinkled! his dimples, how merry!
His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry!
His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,
And the beard of his chin was as white as the snow.

The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth,
And the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath.
He had a broad face and a little round belly,
That shook when he laughed, like a bowlful of jelly!

He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,
And I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself.
A wink of his eye and a twist of his head,
Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread.

He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,
And filled all the stockings, then turned with a jerk.
And laying his finger aside of his nose,
And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose!

He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle,
And away they all flew like the down of a thistle.
But I heard him exclaim, ‘ere he drove out of sight,
"Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!"

After nearly an hour at work on this, I am not ready to share what I have so far. So my apologies, but I will post it hopefully tomorrow along with the carol countdown. Have at it, my little elves!


Due to an impromptu date night tonight, my list of my personal Worst Christmas Songs will be moved to tomorrow. We had some lovely Chinese food and saw The Princess and the Frog. It is really a wonderful movie, I highly recommend it.

I am delaying the song post mostly because I haven't done a Poetry Challenge in a month and I need to get that done tonight! I will be back with that later.

Knowing how much work I have ahead of me I had better not write any more here...I hope to post the challenge before midnight.

Monday, December 21, 2009


Hello. We have arrived at our destination for the holidays relatively unscathed, if exhausted from the LONG journey. I passed some of the time in considering what to include in this week's holiday-related blogs. I also have not forgotten about the poetry challenge. Yes, patient readers, it will make its triumphant return tomorrow.

As a brief preview for tomorrow and following, I will deposit here the first of my analyses of Christmas songs. In this case, it is a list of songs that really should not be considered Christmas songs, since they are not explicitly addressing Christmas itself.

1. "My Favorite Things." This favorite from The Sound of Music hardly even mentions anything from winter. "Snowflakes that stay on my nose and eyelashes" and "sleighbells." I suppose you could also stretch "brown paper packages tied up with strings" as Christmas gifts, but that is super boring wrapping paper if you ask me.

2. "Baby, It's Cold Outside." Another kind of cute, kind of disturbing song in which a man tries to get into his date's pants by getting her drunk using his superior debate skills.

3. "Jingle Bells." Probably the best-known Christmas song of children really has no mention of the holiday in its lyrics. It's simply a sleighing song. In its innocent form (or if you like a twist, try James Taylor's take), it's perfectly harmless, but it's not a Christmas song.

4. "Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!" again, cute, snowy lyrics, a little romance, but no actual Christmas is alluded to, much less mentioned.

5. "I've Got My Love to Keep Me Warm." I actually really like this song, but sadly, no mention of Christmas. It's really just a jazzy winter love song.

6. "Amazing Grace." Another of my favorite songs, but again, it's a great hymn but not a Christmas one.

7. "The Lord's Prayer." See #6.

8. "Hallelujah Chorus" from the Messiah. I just performed this for my church choir, but I realize that it was written as the grand finale for the whole work, which ends with Easter, so it really belongs at Easter. I am not sure how singing it at Christmas got started, although I realize it is now a widespread tradition.

9. "Winter Wonderland." Another non-Christmas but very wintery love song.

10. "Frosty the Snowman." Unless you use the Frosty quote from the movie, "I'll be back on Christmas Day!" instead of "I'll be back again someday!", it makes no mention of what is celebrated annually on December 25.

So, there's a taste of what I am bringing you over the next days. I think I'll probably start with my least-favorite lists (religious and non-religious) along with rationales and hopefully video examples of each, and then on Christmas I will post my very favorite songs/renditions for your enjoyment.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

It's Wednesday, isn't it?

And it's already 10:15?? Drat!

Such is my life lately that I actually did not register that it was Tuesday yesterday until about 11:45PM. Hence my utter failure to produce a poetry challenge. I am not sure how many times I will have to apologize for my utter mental meltdown lately. I can only point to my intense but worth-it experience with NaNoWriMo last month.

With that, I can see some light at the end of the tunnel. With next week comes some help with my little boy, since we will be headed for Grandma and Grandpa's for the holidays on Sunday. Whilst there, I hope to provide a few holiday treats for what readers have doggedly hung on during my dry spell: my top ten favorite Christmas songs, as well as the ten that belong in my Hall of Shame. I realize I promised that last year too, but I really will do it this time.

As a heads-up, for the next Poetry Challenge I plan on doing a "Night Before Christmas" tribute poem. As in, I will co-opt the rhyme scheme and rhythms of the classic poem but write my own twist on it. That is much what Dr. Seuss did to arrive at "How the Grinch Stole Christmas." So if that strikes your fancy, go ahead and get to work!

Friday, December 11, 2009


This winter seems to have slowed my blood. It is so bitterly cold the last few days, it has made me loath to go outside or do much of anything other than sleep and burrow under blankets. I apologize for the lack of poetry challenge this week; I promise to be better next week. I figured it would be pretty pointless to put it up on a Friday night.

By my mom's request, here is the link to the recipe for the Macadamia Nut Butter cookies with dried cranberries. They are really good and don't take long to make, I recommend them so long as you have a food processor of some kind to grind up the macadamia nuts.

Haiku News

believed to be murdered by
roommate, nintety-eight.

"Sins of my Father"
features druglord's son's attempt
to make some amends.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Christmas cookies.

Among my favorite things in the world to do is make Christmas cookies. I always have to make a few traditional kinds, but then I always (at least lately) will experiment with a few new ones, as well. But a few readers have requested the recipes for the "traditional" ones I've been making since I married my husband, so I will post the recipes below. If I'm feeling particularly productive later maybe I will post pictures as well.

Bon Bon Cookies
(I usually double this recipe since they go fast in our house)
3/4 cup powdered sugar
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/8 tsp salt
1 tablespoon vanilla
chocolate chips
*if the mixture is dry, add 1-2 tablespoons of milk.

Heat oven to 350 degrees.
Mix everything but the chocolate chips. Form by teaspoonful into a ball around 2-3 chocolate chips. Bake 12-15 minutes until set but not brown. Cool completely, then dip tops in glaze.

Glaze for bon bons:
1 cup powdered sugar
1 tablespoon plus 1 1/2 teaspoons of milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
tint with a few drops of food coloring
I like to sprinkle the wet glaze with nonpareils or something tiny to make them fancier.
These are probably my husband's favorite thing ever.

Chocolate Crinkles
2 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
4 oz melted unsweetened chocolate
2 tsp vanilla
4 eggs
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup powdered sugar

Mix sugar, oil, chocolate and vanilla. Mix in eggs, one at a time (I have been breaking them in a separate bowl since a mishap involving fishing lots of eggshell out of the batter!). Stir in flour, baking powder, and salt. Cover and refrigerate at least 3 hours.
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Shape dough by rounded teaspoonfuls into balls. Roll in powdered sugar. Place about 2 inches apart on greased cookie sheets. Bake until almost no indentation remains when touched, 10-12 minutes.
These are probably my all-time favorite, despite the dough being sticky as all get out when rolling them!

So there you have it. I was typing this up while the dough for these macadamia nut butter cookies was chilling, but now they are ready to bake so I'd better get going. Enjoy!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009


Sorry about this, but I keep getting wrapped up (no pun intended!) in Christmas prep work lately and it has been hard to remember to come by and update my blog in a timely manner. For instance, earlier today I realized I was intending to do a poetry challenge today, but I waited WAY too long for that, my brain is mush now. So I guess I will try again with that tomorrow. My sincerest apologies.

Also, I wanted to say that if you all are interested I would be happy to share the "traditional cookie" recipes that I've been making annually for my little family. Just let me know in the comments and I will reproduce them here. I make my husband's mother's bon bon cookies and chocolate crinkles--they are very good! I'm also trying out a few new recipes this year but haven't gotten to them yet.

So, I am lame today but hopefully will redeem myself tomorrow...hang tight, sports fans!!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Hour shortage.

Lately it has been hard to find the time to fit everything in that I would like to do. I am in the process now of making my family's favorite Christmas cookies, and while I have the first ones made I have to wait until 11PM tonight to bake the second kind (they have to chill in the fridge for 3 hours and I forgot that until I started making them at 7:30...drat! At least I will have a trusty helper in my dear husband. That will be kind of fun, since I am usually doing the cookies alone.

My little boy is growing up so fast. We asked him earlier where his knee was and he said, "Knee!" and pointed to it. He also marveled at the tropical fish tank at my doctor's office the other day and said "Ishhhh," with a very smooshy face. It used to be that he would learn a new word every week or so, now it seems to be more like one or two a day. It really won't be long now before he is breaking out long sentences!

Haiku News

Med student seeks tips
from her alma mater's coach,
wins $100k.

Can you say cheater?
Senator admits he tapped
girlfriend for a job.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Funny kid.

I love what a personality my little boy is turning out to have. He will often approach the dog's food bowl, a no-no for him, and then shake his head and say, "No-o", then walk away from it. He had the same reaction with one of his books at bedtime tonight, prompting me to think he was tired enough to skip that one.

This evening, just before dinner, the boy had been wandering around playing with the toys that caught his interest as I talked with his father about our respective days. Finally, he planted himself between us, looked up at me, and screeched: "Uuuuuuuuuuu-puh!" Well, okay, sir! What a funny little dude.

Haiku News

Tom Brokaw involved
in fatal car crash in Bronx;
he and wife unhurt.

Despite total lack
of evidence, jury finds
Knox guilty--tragic.

Delaware U. grad
student discovers letter
Tom Jefferson sent.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

A Christmas miracle!

I managed to be amazed by the same phenomenon every year, it seems. I go to make one of my husband's favorite kinds of cookies, and when preparing the dough (which uses no eggs, just a lot of butter, sugar and flour) it always looks like it will never go together. Finally, I remember that the recipe has a note that says "if dry, add 1-2 tablespoons milk." I add one tablespoon of milk, fully expecting to have to add another, but five seconds later the entire bowl is filled with a completely cohesive dough. Amazing.

The other thing that I had nearly forgotten about Christmas was a child's wonder at seeing a Christmas tree. The boy and I were watching the lighting of the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree and I was watching his face when they pressed the button. His eyes got really wide, and then he said, "Woooooooow." Just priceless.

My dear friend and reader of this blog, Kristin, has published a poem in an online poetry journal. You can read her fine work here.

Haiku News

Graduation joy
cut short by a fatal bomb

Amnesiac's brain
is dissected as I write;
you can watch it here.

Real-life "Terminal"
unfolds in Tokyo airport;
Chinese man squats there.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

I'm back!!

Hi everyone!

I not only survived NaNoWriMo, but I won!! I never thought I would be able to catch up after starting out nine days in, but it really helped that I was able to sit down and knock out 4,000 words a day for at least five days in a row. I also found that the site Write or Die helped to kick my butt. You set a time limit and a word goal, and hit "write," and you attempt to reach your goal. As long as you keep typing, nothing bad happens, but if you stop for long enough (I think it is at least ten seconds), the site will play "MMM Bop" at full volume until you start up again. Now there is some motivation.

Another site I discovered in my writing toils was; when you answer one multiple choice question correctly on their site, they will donate 100 grains of rice to the UN World Food Program, and you can play as long as you like. There were a few days lately where I managed to donate quite a bit of rice, searching for an interesting vocabulary word to work into my novel.

Finally, I realized at the end of my labors that I actually have a piece with some potential. At least I don't want to burn it or bury it right now. I would like to see if I can scrape the grime off and shine it up enough to show it to other people. So I'll probably be working on that over the next month or three, but I think it is worth it. I would love to get a book published someday, and if this one is it, that would be pretty awesome.

I realize that I used to do Poetry Challenges on Tuesdays, but being that I just wrote 50,000 words in 21 days, I am pretty spent just now. I will pick that up next week. However, I think I have a few haiku in me.

Haiku News

Argentine model
dies after cosmetic butt
surgery went bad.

Baldwin calls movie
career a "complete failure;"
"Complicated" blows.

Though his mom is gone,
baby Moses has always
known a mother's love.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Checking in.

Sorry I haven't been around; again, I am super busy trying to write about 4,000 words a day to catch up on my NaNoWriMo project. It comes in fits and starts, but I am still trying to get the requisite amount of words in a day, so needless to say there is a bit of stringing along/fluff that will probably be heavily edited in the next draft. But on I go. Anyway, I had better get going since I still have most of today's writing to do.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Rolling along.

So, because I am pretty much writing my brains out on my Nano project, I will pretty much just be coming in here a couple times a week to reaffirm that I am surviving. Sorry about that. On a good note, I figured out the other day that if I wrote 4,000 words a day for the final ten days of the challenge, I will come through with some words to spare. The last two days I have met my goal, so hurrah!

In other news, when I ask my son where one of his toys is, he will find it and say "There it is!" He will also say "there you go," when I ask him to give me something. So cute.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

I'm alive.

Just writing (or trying to) my NaNoWriMo project. I'm giving in to useless distractions in the name of "thinking" way too often. It makes me sad that I've been up till midnight the last few nights and haven't gotten more written. My husband looked at me a few hours ago and said, "You know you're not going to get that done this month, right?" It's sad but probably basic hope would just be that this would kick my butt and guilt me into writing more of what I had in my head. It has done that. But I do want to get at LEAST halfway to the 50,000 word goal by month's end...I guess we'll see how I can do. I just need to focus.

Also, because of my crazy writing focus, I'll probably just put the poetry challenge and analysis on hiatus until the end of the month. Sorry about that, but I really don't have time to maintain both. I may not post as often either, but I'll try for a few times a week.

Word Count: 7,418/50,000

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Writing is hard.

I took a few hours this evening to try and make a dent in my ridiculous NaNoWriMo goal. When you take on the challenge, you're supposed to write 50,000 words by the end of the month of November. Given that I started nine days late, I am already at a bit of a disadvantage. But I am struggling now with how to give coherent form to my "bag of ideas" that I started with. I had a main character with a big idea for him, and a bunch of ideas for incidental characters, but no way to really unite them all. So, I am starting to wing stuff here and there. It's a bit like taking a leap off of a cliff. I'm afraid I'll end up crumpled in a heap somewhere, so my brain starts to try to freeze instead of letting things flow. Plus every little thing starts to distract you. You know, like when you get an assignment for school and you try to find all kinds of things to get out of doing it. Oh, the irony! I'm doing this because I want to, yet I'm procrastinating when I'm already behind?? Ugh. I am going to try and work more on it during the day starting tomorrow. I'm afraid my blog will have to come second for the rest of the month; I am not doing haiku news today to attempt to get enough sleep tonight, and I'm postponing the poem analysis until at least next week. Sorry, folks!!

Word Count: 5,123/50,000 (1/10th of the way!!)

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Veterans' Day.

Thanks to social networking, I was reminded today that my college choir invites former members back to visit today. I wish I lived nearer my alma mater so I could have participated. As it is, I hope my old choir buddies had fun catching up.

I was struck this morning after getting the boy dressed that his shirt seemed awfully tight. It was one I hadn't put him in before, and it seemed like the sleeves were terribly short as well. When I checked the label, it was a 6 month size shirt!! I can't believe I got it over his (rather large) head. He currently wears 2Ts, so that was pretty funny. I'm glad he accepted it, since I needed to do his laundry and he had no other clean shirts.

Full disclosure: I have yet to write anything for my novel today, so I will leave my update of it until tomorrow when hopefully I'll have more to show for it.

Haiku News

Wearing fake medals
is not only in poor taste,
also illegal.

Quick thinking by teen
saved him from a death sentence
when set on fire.

Mike Tyson detained
at airport after scuffle
with photographer.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

My birthday.

As much as I am grateful to have another birthday (it is better than the alternative!), I think it is much more fun when they fall on weekends, particularly when my husband has to work. At least the boy was charming and wonderful all day, and even took an extra-long nap to give me more time to play in the afternoon. I had some really yummy hot chocolate from the bakery on the corner and ordered in breakfast for dinner. I'll have my birthday-red velvet cupcake in a little while. The hubby has more plans this weekend, when his family will come to town to babysit.

I happened to be perusing my former poetry professor's blog earlier today and thought you all would enjoy this poem on poetry that he wrote. I got a kick out of it.

I appreciate Cicely's efforts in a five-part haiku invective against fall, despite my disagreement with it; you can read her work here. I did receive a request to extend the deadline for this challenge, however, and because of that (and because I'll be grateful for the extra time with which to continue writing my novel), I will extend last week's challenge for another week. You can read my five-part poem and get the link for the project details here.

Word count: 3,397/50,000

Haiku News

Surprising: Brazil
coed causes quite a stir
with a short red dress.

seeks to dismiss his charges;
two months till judge rules.

Monday, November 9, 2009


So, I can't believe I almost forgot again. The month of November, at least for the last few years, is known to nerdy parts of the blogosphere as "NaNoWriMo," or National Novel Writing Month. There is a whole website devoted to the challenge of trying to write a 175 page (roughly 50,000-word) novel in that 30 day period. They focus more on quantity than quality to produce such volume in such a short time, but that practice can get a writer out of the vicious cycle of write a couple pages, then tweak and pick at them forever (or, as I have done, ignore them while percolating ideas in my head). I think I'm going to do something crazy here and try to complete it this month, not waiting for next year. I mean, if I have my way, I will have two children by this time next year, and one will be very small, noisy and demanding at this point, so I really had better get cracking before that if I want to have a real chance at it. Right? Is anyone going to do this with me? They even have sections for ideas if you don't have a plot! Seriously, check it out, especially if you've ever wanted to write a novel but just didn't have the motivation/self-confidence/etc. To keep myself accountable I will keep a running tally of my page count at the bottom of my blog each day so people can see my (hopefully not lack of) progress.

Also, if no one ventures to try the five-part poem that I did last week for Poetry Challenge, I will extend it by one week. I think it is too valuable an exercise to abandon, so please, someone, try it out. I promise it's fun!! Check my finished product out, as well, if you have a chance.

Word count: 2,301/50,000

Haiku News

We can all learn from
residents of Charlotte Street:
slum became a home.

I would like to know
just what Hasan will say when
asked why he went nuts.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Picture Day.

We went to Sears this afternoon to get some family portraits done. I had very few expectations, as an almost-two-year-old doesn't have a very long attention span, and that was made even shorter by having a few vaccinations the other day. Amazingly, he pulled through excellently well. I was hoping for maybe one good picture, and we actually had quite a few to choose from.

Haiku News

"Tough woman" cop hailed
as a hero at Fort Hood;
she shot the gunman.

Only time will tell
whether Congress can back up
health care words with deeds.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Poem Analysis #4

Before we get started, please do look at the analysis from last week, here.

My apologies for not posting this yesterday; it totally slipped my mind. Cicely's post earlier in the week reminded me of this excellent Frost poem, so I thought I would use it here.

Mending Wall
by Robert Frost

Something there is that doesn't love a wall,
That sends the frozen-ground-swell under it,
And spills the upper boulders in the sun;
And makes gaps even two can pass abreast.
The work of hunters is another thing:
I have come after them and made repair
Where they have left not one stone on a stone,
But they would have the rabbit out of hiding,
To please the yelping dogs. The gaps I mean,
No one has seen them made or heard them made,
But at spring mending-time we find them there.
I let my neighbor know beyond the hill;
And on a day we meet to walk the line
And set the wall between us once again.
We keep the wall between us as we go.
To each the boulders that have fallen to each.
And some are loaves and some so nearly balls
We have to use a spell to make them balance:
'Stay where you are until our backs are turned!'
We wear our fingers rough with handling them.
Oh, just another kind of outdoor game,
One on a side. It comes to little more:
There where it is we do not need the wall:
He is all pine and I am apple orchard.
My apple trees will never get across
And eat the cones under his pines, I tell him.
He only says, 'Good fences make good neighbors.'
Spring is the mischief in me, and I wonder
If I could put a notion in his head:
'Why do they make good neighbors? Isn't it
Where there are cows? But here there are no cows.
Before I built a wall I'd ask to know
What I was walling in or walling out,
And to whom I was like to give offense.
Something there is that doesn't love a wall,
That wants it down.' I could say 'Elves' to him,
But it's not elves exactly, and I'd rather
He said it for himself. I see him there
Bringing a stone grasped firmly by the top
In each hand, like an old-stone savage armed.
He moves in darkness as it seems to me,
Not of woods only and the shade of trees.
He will not go behind his father's saying,
And he likes having thought of it so well
He says again, 'Good fences make good neighbors.'

I love how Frost uses very simple language to really make his readers think. I also love the image of the speaker's neighbor with a stone in each hand as a savage about to kill with the stones. I wonder if Frost was initially inspired to write this poem because of the saying repeated twice in the poem itself; "good fences make good neighbors." I'll leave you all to discuss more.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Title goes here.

Hmm. I can't really think of something specific to say about today. Except that I love when my little boy says "Ky" when he means "sky." LOVE it. And he's started to try and say "hello," ends up sounding like "ha-oh".

Haiku News

Military must
address mental needs of staff;
too many shootings.

Mother of the year:
woman gives aunt her baby,
who hides her in chest?!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Big boy.

I took the boy to get his hair cut again, since we are doing a family portrait session this weekend, and my husband noted when he got home from work that he doesn't look SO much older when we get his hair cut anymore. This may have resulted from it only being a month or so from the last time we got his hair cut instead of six weeks, but it could also be because he has simply gotten older looking anyway. Sigh, he is growing up so fast! As much as I am looking forward to it, I still think it might be the last remnant of his babyhood gone when he finally starts talking in longer sentences. It will be bittersweet for sure.

Haiku News

Amanda Knox hopes
that jury believes defense
claim evidence botched.

I kid you not here:
woman had mind-blowing sex:
she got amnesia.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Poetry Challenge #20: Poetry Mini-Challenge

Before we get started, please check out the excellent dramatic monologues submitted over the last week here.

For today's challenge, I happened upon this prompt from an excellent website, and I am taking their challenge and invite you to join me. Feel free to link to your post here in a post to their website as well if you want!

You can read all about the prompt at the link above, but the gist of it is to pick a theme or subject and write one part of a poem about it per day for five days. So today I'll write the first part, tomorrow the second part, and so on until I'm finished on November 8. To avoid confusion about where to find them, though, I will just continually edit my post to add the new section each day. Here goes.

They make it look so easy.
I try and try
but every time
I can't make them
really hear me.

I know
what I want to say,
but when I open my mouth,
what comes out
is unexpected.

Just once
I'd love her to hear
what I say
and do exactly
what I asked.

Small wonder
I feel like screaming
at seemingly-random times.
How would you like it
if no one could hear you?

Each morning
I retreat to the bathroom,
my stomach betraying
the nerves I try not to show.

My brain is under control.
I have nothing to fear
inside the classroom.
It’s outside it I dread.

People wonder why
I hide my face
behind the cover
of a dog-eared book.

When you’re afraid
of human nature,
literature is solace
in a cruel world.

On my own for the first time,
I thought I’d be okay.
I knew who I was and where
I was going.

It only took a few blows--
my roommate’s abandonment,
an insincere relationship--
to shake my foundations.

How quickly I faltered
on promises I made myself.
I had become a person
I neither knew nor liked.

But blessings came
with new humility:
my truest friends
as well as my true love.

If someone told me
just five years ago
that I would be a runner,
I would have laughed.

Now I can’t go two days
without having a run;
it’s an indispensable part
of my daily routine.

While I started slow
and still am not fast,
I just keep putting
one foot in front of the other.

I just cruise along
for miles and miles,
not even breathing hard.

When I first found out
you were on your way,
I wondered if I would
be good enough for you.

See, I’m the youngest.
I only even baby-sat
one time, for my nieces.
Never changed a diaper.

But when I saw your face
for the first time,
all the doubt and fear
melted entirely away.

I knew that what I didn’t know
didn’t matter at all.
What I did know
was that I love you, forever.

I have to say, I wasn't sure quite where this poem would lead me but the journey turned out to be very rewarding. Where will it take you? C'mon, join me!!

A little conversation.

"Yes, baby?"
"Daddy's downstairs, sweetie."
"Yes, what is it?"
"Daddy said goodnight to you, honey."
"Mommy mommy mommy."
"I love you, baby."

Haiku News

Iran reformists
warned on anniversary
of revolution.

How did this happen?
Three coeds found dead, car in
stock pond for cattle.

Ten bodies unearthed
at convicted rapist's home;
how many more there?

Monday, November 2, 2009

Nerd's delight.

I was happy to be able to take the boy to the park today--both that it was good enough weather and that we could get there before it got dark. That time change sure makes it get dark early around here. He walked up and down the two shallow steps there about five times, and when he finally decided to stay up, he clapped for himself. He has started to play a funny game with himself while I change his diapers--he will lightly pinch his own hand and say "ow, ow, ow." Strange little man.

I received my new, texting-friendly phone today, and as I suspected, I love having a full keyboard at my disposal. Now that I actually have several people I like to text message with, I can see it being more useful. That probably makes me a nerd, but hey, if you didn't know I was a nerd by now, you really don't know me very well at all. :)

Cicely has submitted her entry in the dramatic monologue challenge--you can read her effort here.

Haiku News

Hope you're happy, Dad;
now your "too-Western" daughter
is dead; you're in jail.

Iraqi widows
forced to risk long prison terms,
become prostitutes.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

All Saints' Day.

Today at church, I admired the large bouquet of long-stemmed red roses in front of the altar in memory of members' loved ones, and wished there were one in there for Rory. I thought about it, but because we haven't told anyone at church about about it, I decided not to risk someone asking a question about it. I hope I will be cradling a new little one while admiring Rory's rose next year.

Haiku News

First time in twenty-
five years an American

CIT files for
fifth-largest bankruptcy, but
debtholders approve.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

All Hallows Eve.

I wasn't sure how my little guy would react when I coaxed him into his costume this year. I knew he could take or leave head coverings (mostly leave 'em), and that the one time I'd tried to put mittens on him he took one off within an hour, and this costume had a hood and little mittens for the "paws." Miraculously, he seemed to enjoy becoming a dragon for the afternoon. The tail didn't bother him at all, he rather enjoyed the wings, and he seemed to like having to lift a dragon-snout out of his eyes from time to time. When we got back from our jaunt in the local merchant district, I coaxed the mittens on, and to my shock, they stayed on for at least an hour. What a great kid.

Haiku News

Indians find nine missing
passengers post-crash.

Navy sailor cleans
gun, accidentally fires on
Poland--oops, my bad.

Before you turn in,
don't forget to set your clocks
one hour behind.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Rain, rain, go AWAY.

I am super tired of cold rainy days. Last night as I was trying to go to sleep I thought the house was going to float away. I was particularly concerned that we might get more water in the basement since that happened with the last major storm we got, although we had our gutters cleaned since then. 

Haiku News

This one makes me sick:
mother failed to kill both sons,
elder testifies.

Iraqi father
tried to run down his daughter;
she was "too Western."

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Poem Analysis #3

If you haven't caught up on it yet, please peruse last week's discussion thread here

For this week's poem analysis, I thought I would pick a poem that was suitably creepy. First, I thought of "The Raven," but it is rather long, so I went with one I was reminded of thanks to Cicely's choice of "The Walrus and the Carpenter" for her OULIPO last week. 

by Lewis Carroll
from Through the Looking Glass

'Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe:
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.

"Beware the Jabberwock, my son!
The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!
Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun
The frumious Bandersnatch!"

He took his vorpal sword in hand:
Long time the manxome foe he sought–
So rested he by the Tumtum tree,
And stood awhile in thought.

And, as in uffish thought he stood,
The Jabberwock, with eyes of flame,
Came wiffling through the tulgey wood,
And burbled as it came!

One, two! One, two! And through and through
The vorpal blade went snicker-snack!
He left it dead, and with its head
He went galumphing back.

"And hast thou slain the Jabberwock?
Come to my arms, my beamish boy!
O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!"
He chortled in his joy.

'Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe:
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.

Okay, so the obvious point is that Carroll loved to make up words. That is why this poem is classified as "nonsense" poetry. I take issue with that, however. I feel like even with the ridiculous sounding words, some sense can surely be made. There is a clear narrative and sequence of events. I particularly like the made-up adjectives and sound-words (onomatopoeia) such as "snicker-snack". I think I have stood in "uffish thought" many times as well. Read it a few times, then let me know what you think.

My name is...

...Mommy, lately. Today it was my son's favorite word. He even sang his "Mommy" song a few times this morning. Precious. I also made up some silly game where I danced around, stopped, and bent low to look him in the face and say "hi" to make him giggle. I love getting him ready for bed, too, as even as active as he can be, he will usually give me a bunch of sweet kisses and climb onto my lap while we're waiting for the tub to fill. Ahh. 

Paige is first into the fray on the Dramatic Monologue challenge, with a little-touched-upon in poetry but VERY scary scenario for any mom! Check it out here

Haiku News

Worst disguise ever?
These two nuts tried to hide their
faces with Sharpies?

Canadian folk
singer took a nature hike,
killed by coyotes.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Poetry Challenge #19: Dramatic Monologue

First, as always, please check out the devoted efforts of Cicely on the OULIPO last week. You can read her new version of "The Walrus and the Carpenter" (along with the original) here.

The dramatic monologue (as you may guess by the name) is a very theatrical style of poetry. It implies an audience and the poem takes the form of the thoughts of a character. 

Our professional example today comes from Sylvia Plath.

Lady Lazarus
by Sylvia Plath

I have done it again.
One year in every ten
I manage it--

A sort of walking miracle, my skin
Bright as a Nazi lampshade,
My right foot

A paperweight,
My face a featureless, fine
Jew linen.

Peel off the napkin
O my enemy.
Do I terrify?--

The nose, the eye pits, the full set of teeth?
The sour breath
Will vanish in a day.

Soon, soon the flesh
The grave cave ate will be
At home on me

And I a smiling woman.
I am only thirty.
And like the cat I have nine times to die.

This is Number Three.
What a trash
To annihilate each decade.

What a million filaments.
The peanut-crunching crowd
Shoves in to see

Them unwrap me hand and foot--
The big strip tease.
Gentlemen, ladies

These are my hands
My knees.
I may be skin and bone,

Nevertheless, I am the same, identical woman.
The first time it happened I was ten.
It was an accident.

The second time I meant
To last it out and not come back at all.
I rocked shut

As a seashell.
They had to call and call
And pick the worms off me like sticky pearls.

Is an art, like everything else.
I do it exceptionally well.

I do it so it feels like hell.
I do it so it feels real.
I guess you could say I've a call.

It's easy enough to do it in a cell.
It's easy enough to do it and stay put.
It's the theatrical

Comeback in broad day
To the same place, the same face, the same brute
Amused shout:

'A miracle!'
That knocks me out.
There is a charge

For the eyeing of my scars, there is a charge
For the hearing of my heart--
It really goes.

And there is a charge, a very large charge
For a word or a touch
Or a bit of blood

Or a piece of my hair or my clothes.
So, so, Herr Doktor.
So, Herr Enemy.

I am your opus,
I am your valuable,
The pure gold baby

That melts to a shriek.
I turn and burn.
Do not think I underestimate your great concern.

Ash, ash--
You poke and stir.
Flesh, bone, there is nothing there--

A cake of soap,
A wedding ring,
A gold filling.

Herr God, Herr Lucifer

Out of the ash
I rise with my red hair
And I eat men like air.

My own dramatic monologue is from the perspective of a character I dreamed up for my "novel" that I haven't even written into it yet, but I thought this poem might be a way to start coaxing him out of my brain. Here we go.

I was handsome, once.
There were few
who would not stare
as I passed by.
Now they still stare,
but for opposite reasons.

It’s amazing how life changes
when you are confronted
with ultimate evil.
In my case, it saw through my bravado
to my true weakness:

If I didn’t wear this balaclava
you would shudder
at the sight of me.
Being repulsive was difficult
to get used to.
Evil nearly won me to its side
just by shifting strangers’ attitudes
toward me.

Some days I still wake up
and wish I would see my true
face in the mirror,
rather than the sorry ruin
of melted features
evil left me with.
Then I remember,
no beauty is worth
allowing evil to triumph.

Then again...

You can read more about this type of poem and read more examples here. This is an opportunity to get into the Halloween spirit!


My boy sometimes thinks he's a dog. We have a small one who enjoys playing with him and thinks he's one of her own puppies sometimes. They will happily share a few toys, even if I cringe somewhat when I catch my little guy gnawing on something that's been in the dog's mouth. Probably one of the funniest parts of my day is watching my boy and his "puppy" play tug-of-war with one of said toys. That is the only time he will shriek really loudly. I really need to get that on video.

Haiku News

Laptopping pilots
had their licenses revoked.
Priorities, folks. 

Paul Haggis has quit
Church of Scientology:
he says they gay-bash.

What kind of people
watch a young girl get gang raped
TWO HOURS, do nothing?

Monday, October 26, 2009

It begins.

Ah, yes, it begins. My boy was chattering while I put on his pajamas last night, and asked, "Daddy?" to which I replied, "Daddy's downstairs watching baseball." He took that in for a moment, then said, "Bee-bo." Considering "bo" is definitely "ball," I'm thinking that's his version of baseball. Oh, Daddy will be so pleased when he hears it. I tried to get him to say it to Daddy this evening but he wouldn't do it then. He said it for his Mimi on the phone, though. 

Haiku News

Quite mysterious:
"Jane Doe" emptied bank account,
left all for New York.

NTSB says
stray jet's pilots on laptops;
geez, guys, take a break!

Horrifying news:
over fifty children freed
from sex-trafficking.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Like the wind.

This morning, I rose before the sun and ventured out to the harbor to participate in a 10K race. Amazingly, I have run several races well past that distance, but I had never run a race of exactly that length. I have, however, run that distance as my "long run" many a Saturday, so I was not worried about my ability to complete the race. I just hoped I would be able to maintain a reasonable pace. 

As we assembled at the starting line, I enjoyed looking at the small population of runners who had arrived in costume (there was a separate costume contest after the race). My favorite was the mom and dad (with their child in a stroller with them) both dressed as Hooters waitresses. Mind you, it was 45 degrees this morning. This took a large commitment even for the female half of the pair, but then a whole NEW level of commitment for the man, who even donned a long blonde wig and falsies for the full effect. 

I was just hoping to finish within an hour and 15 minutes; I am not the fastest, just determined. However, at the first split I realized I was keeping just under an 11 minute/mile pace. That is not too much slower than my 5K pace, so I was somewhat amazed. As I passed mile after mile, I was keeping pretty close to that pace, and despite this surprisingly-blistering (for me) pace, I even found a sprint for the finish. I don't have my official time yet, but my watch tells me I finished in 1 hour, 7 minutes and about 40 seconds. We'll see what the official clock says sometime in the next 24 hours, but I am pretty proud of that time!

A very interesting discussion is unfolding on the poetry analysis thread for this week; check it out here

Haiku News

Andrew Lloyd Webber
diagnosed with prostate cancer;
don't write about that!

Co-pilot of flight
that missed St. Paul airport says
no one was asleep.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

New level of cute.

Today, my boy reached a new level of cuteness. He sang "twinkle, twinkle" with the lyric "Mommy." Cutest. Thing. Ever.

Also, I labored long and hard and was able to create what my husband calls the best soup he ever ate: Tuscan-Style Potato Soup. I highly recommend it, if you have the time!

Haiku News

Obama declares
H1N1 'mergency;
let's all wash our hands.

Priest killer confessed:
apparently janitor
argued with him, snapped.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Poem Analysis #2

First off, thanks for those courageous souls who shared your thoughts about last week's poem. You can read their ideas here.

Because my time is short this week, I will go with one of my favorite poems, partly because it is so amazingly simple that I can usually recall it correctly from memory.

The Red Wheelbarrow
by William Carlos Williams

so much depends

a red wheel

glazed with rain

beside the white

In case you're wondering, I did actually type that correctly from memory this time. I loved sharing this one with my high school students because many of them would be amazed that it is considered a poem. It is full of very simple language yet creates a startlingly clear image. I also like to point out that each stanza looks like a little wheelbarrow. I think Williams probably did that on purpose. 

So what do you think?

Prayer huddle.

I don't think I've mentioned this on here and I need to document it for when he is too big to do it anymore. When I say his prayers for him, my little boy will kneel on my lap and put his head down in front of his knees with his arms tucked in to his body, and he will stay that way until I finish. It is so cute. 

Haiku News

Priest believed murdered
in tiny New Jersey town;
no suspects are known.

Teenage girl appears
in New York with no idea
who she is at all.

Thursday, October 22, 2009


So, I discovered a website called today. Be careful, folks. If you click on that link it will suck you in. 

Hence, I will do my poem-analysis for the week tomorrow. That means if you had something to say about the Stevens poem from last week, you have another day. 

Oh, and I made inexplicably giant chocolate chip cookies.

Haiku News

Remind me not to
fly with these guys next time I
jet into St. Paul.

Immigrant children
looking for their parents here
need more help, it seems.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

New life.

After an afternoon filled with listening to my little boy sing "Twinkle, Twinkle" on the syllable "yah," I found out my good friend had her third son. I'm so pleased for her, as she'd been plagued with a lot of early labor. I hope by this time next year to have a sibling for my little boy as well.

Haiku News

Terror suspect thought
to be planning mall attack,
wanted to kill troops.

Virginia Tech girl
missing after rock concert;
band helps out with search.

Forty years ago,
Monty Python starts something
completely different.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Poetry Challenge #18: OULIPO

I was searching my favorite source,, to come up with a non-intimidating, fun idea for this week's poetry challenge. I stumbled upon the OULIPO, which is loosely translated as Workshop of Potential Literature. You can read all about the movement that spawned this idea here

Here's what you do. Find an existing poem. Then underline every substantive noun in the poem, get a dictionary, and replace those nouns with the noun seven entries away from it in the dictionary. Make sure it is not another form of the same word, or a word with the same root. I'll show you with my example. I chose the poem "The Farmer" by William Carlos Williams. Being a bit of a rebel himself, I believe he would have enjoyed this exercise.

Here's his poem in its original form. I have bolded the words I'm going to change as they are the substantive nouns.

The Farmer

The farmer in deep thought
is pacing through the rain
among his blank fields, with
hands in pockets,
in his head
the harvest already planted.
A cold wind ruffles the water
among the browned weeds.
On all sides
the world rolls coldly away:
black orchards
darkened by the March clouds--
leaving room for thought.
Down past the brushwood
bristling by
the rainsluiced wagon road
looms the artist figure of
the farmer--composing

Here is my OULIPO version:

The Farnesol

The farnesol in deep thousandweight
is pacing through the raise
among his blank fiends, with
hangars in pococurantes,
in his health
the hasenpfeffer already planted.
A cold window ruffles the watsonia
among the browned week.
On all sieges
the worm rolls coldly away:
black orchestra
darkened by the March cloves--
leaving roost for thowthistle.
Down past the brutality
bristling by
the rainsluiced wagtail
looms the artist filacer of
the farnesol--composing

A couple of words after completing this exercise: it might be easier to use a dictionary slightly smaller than the Oxford English Dictionary, and make sure the poem you choose has enough nouns to change noticeably between the original and your OULIPO. This poem was my second selection--the first didn't have enough nouns. Also, it'll take a little bit of time--but it is really fun too, so go for it!