Monday, July 29, 2013

Slice of Life - July 30, 2013 -- Sepia Memories

The Tuesday Slice of Life is hosted by Stacy and Ruth on their blog Two Writing Teachers.  Here's my weekly Slice.

Sepia Memories
By Max Maclay

The faded picture
Emerges, piece by piece.

The corners are Solid.
The outline obvious
But in soft focus.
Details are both sharp

Drama Club at Oberlin:
Chekhov’s The Cherry Orchard.
Drug store sodas
Dascombe Dormitory by 8PM.

Graduation and letters.
He was visiting from Brown University.
A log by the Passaic River:

“We decided to do it--
Get Married.
We weren’t even holding hands at the time.”

Seventy years later
Holding Hands:
They help each other remember.

© 2013 Max Maclay

Last year, my grandparents moved across the country to a retirement community about ten minutes away from my house.  It is wonderful to share more time with them, even as they slow down at ninety-one and ninety-two respectively.  Monday, I interviewed them about how they met and this poem was inspired by our conversation.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Slice of Life – July 23, 2013 - Around The Block

The Tuesday Slice of Life is hosted 

by Stacey and Ruth at Two Writing Teachers.

Here is where many link their posts to share

what's going on in their lives, personal
and educational. Come visit everyone's posts
to read their summer slices!
It's Not My First Time Around The Block, And See What I’ve Been Missing?

She stands, pretending to be perplexed and thinking, her pointer finger tapping against her lips in “uffish thought.”  After a few moments, she turns right; she almost always turns right, and starts galumphing down the sidewalk.  I follow behind, past the two houses between the street and ours, and come to a screeching halt, sound effects from both of us, at the STOP sign. “S-O-P SOP Daddy!”  She almost always forgets the T but she’s remembered it enough in the past that the teacher in me lets it slide, this time.

The stop sign is next to a large hedge of juniper bushes and we spend a minute looking at all the webs hidden among the needles.  We see no spiders, but we know they must be there and hiding and we wonder what they had for lunch.  Suddenly, my almost three-year-old is done with the webs and we make a hard right, and race along the sidewalk again.  She’s getting to be such a good runner and yet, I’ve doctored enough scrapes and wiped enough tears, my heart is in my throat as I think, “Don’t fall,” with every step.

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? July 22nd 2013

It's Monday! What are you Reading? is a meme hosted by 
Sheila at Book Journeys. It is a great way to recap what you
read and/or reviewed the previous week and to plan out

 your reading and reviews for the upcoming week. It's 
also a great chance to see what others are reading right now...
you just might discover the next “must-read” book!

I read two YA books this week in between some lovely outdoors time with my family.

Follow this link to see what others are reading.

First, I read Capture The Flag by Kate Messner.  This is a fun book that is something like National Treasure with twelve-year-olds as the main characters.  The day after the flag that inspired The Star Spangled Banner is stolen, three young kids are among the thousands of travelers trapped at a D.C. airport in a snowstorm.  All three have many things in common, despite their obvious differences, including that they have famous relatives and their families are part of the same secret society.  They become convinced that the flag thieves are stuck at the airport and a lively and somewhat believable investigation ensues.  It is fast paced, has good character models, complete with flaws and is told from the viewpoint of Anna, an aspiring investigative journalist, like her mom.  It's not an amazing piece of fiction, but it's fun and a good read for the average middle school student.

I loved the second book I read this week, Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein. 

Monday, July 15, 2013

Slice of Life – July 16, 2013 Experienced Hiking

Ruth Ayers and Stacey Shubitz 
host "Slice of Life"  on their 

I’ve climbed these mountains before.  Since they are popular fourteeners (mountains over 14,000 feet) near Denver, and this is a Sunday, I know to get there early.  6:25 at the trailhead is just on the edge of late, but I manage to find a spot on the side of the dirt road just below the full parking lot.  Five others cars pull up as I tighten my laces and pull on my pack.  I pass the trailhead sign, cross the bridge over the rushing creek (must have rained hard yesterday) and step onto the wide wet trail.   The round trip I have in mind will take me along nine miles of trail and loose rock, include a vertical gain and descent of 3600 feet and take me to the tops of two peaks, each over 14,200 feet high.  While I have climbed twenty-seven different fourteeners, several of them twice, it has been a three years since my last one, and I’ve never climbed one alone.

My first years teaching, it seemed that every interaction I had with a student, parent or staff member was a potential disaster.  What is the best way to get those two kids to stop talking without getting attitude back or making them feel too embarrassed?  Does that parent want to talk with me about their child because they think that grade is my fault?  Is it my fault?  

Sunday, July 14, 2013

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? July 15th

It's Monday! What are you Reading? is a meme hosted by 

Sheila at Book Journeys. It is a great way to recap what you
 read and/or reviewed the previous week and to plan out
 your reading and reviews for the upcoming week. It's 
also a great chance to see what others are reading right now...
you just might discover the next “must-read” book!

I read two great books this week, on different ends of the middle school reading and maturity levels.  The first is The Center of Everything by Linda Urban and the second is eleanor & park by Rainbow Rowell.  I plan to include both of these in my start of the year, book talk to my class of sixth-eighth graders in August.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Slice of Life - July 9th, 2013 Starlight on my Birthday!

Ruth Ayers and Stacey Shubitz 
host "Slice of Life"  on their 
On my birthday last week, I was lucky to be camping in the Sand Dunes, in southern Colorado.  That morning, at three AM, I had ignored my bladder long enough and stepped outside to take care of business.  I guess the days of sleeping through the night are mostly gone.

When we went to sleep earlier that night, clouds covered the sky and the gusting wind was causing the tent to shake violently.  Thankfully, climbing the dunes had tired out my wife, my almost three-year-old daughter, and me, so we fell asleep as darkness descended. 

As I fumbled for my glasses, a shirt and the zipper to the tent, I noticed the wind was still.  There is a certain feeling that a clear sky evokes on one’s senses while camping.  I tried to quickly but quietly unzip the tent, my anticipation of the night sky and my own natural needs, competing in their urgency for me to hurry.  Emerging from the rain fly, I was greeted with one of the finest bejeweled skies I’ve ever witnessed.  The moon was absent, and the starlight was bright enough to create silhouettes of the campsite, trees, bushes, and the sand dunes off in the distance.  It seemed that I could see each planet, star, galaxy, quasar, and satellite above me.  The Milky Way was spilled across the shimmering blackness and while I was being reminded of how insignificant I was, I rejoiced in remembering how significant the true nighttime sky is to me.

Slice of Life July 2, 2013 - Boys to Men

Ruth Ayers and Stacey Shubitz
host "Slice of Life"  on their

Thursday, I watched as this group of boys, whom I taught in high school, proved to me that they were men.  It was the wedding of a former student, and I was able to catch up with nine of "My Kids." They are an inspiration to me personally, and the  inspiration for this week's Slice of Life.

Me (with the tie) and seven of "My Kids"

The invitation said, Wedding starts promptly at 11ish, and at 11:40, under a crystal blue mountain sky, the assembled wedding party proceeded to squawk a cacophony of crow calls, to let the bride know her cue had come. The men (my kids) were dressed in dark jeans, long-sleeved shirts, black vests and newsboy hats.  The moment the bride walked in, the groom, obviously overwhelmed, had tears of emotion streaming down his face.  It was sweet, it was real.  He wiped the tears away with the back of his hat and had honest, non-judgmental support from all his friends to carry on.  He managed to mostly hold it together, give his own vows of commitment and hear equally unique, fun and teary vows from his bride.  References were made to Monty Python, The Princess Bride, and we shouted in Spanish (none of them are remotely Hispanic but they all took Spanish) to support their commitment.  The wedding was short, unique, funny, typical in moments, and utterly true to the two people getting married and the wondrous influences upon them from their friends and family.