Monday, February 28, 2011

She Sleeps Through The Whole Thing

I've posted this poem before, but now I'm sharing Eric Whitacre's musical version. This YouTube video doesn't have the clearest sound, but it's got a sleeping baby:

For a clearer audio version (no video), visit Eric Whitacre's site.

Seal Lullaby
by Rudyard Kipling

OH! hush thee, my baby, the night is behind us,
And black are the waters that sparkled so green.
The moon, o’er the combers, looks downward to find us
At rest in the hollows that rustle between.
Where billow meets billow, there soft be thy pillow;
Ah, weary wee flipperling, curl at thy ease!
The storm shall not wake thee, nor shark overtake thee,
Asleep in the arms of the slow-swinging seas.

Friday, February 25, 2011

The Sea of Frozen Words

My poem today was inspired by The Dictionary of Imaginary Places, edited by Alberto Manguel and Gianni Guadalupi. Doesn't the title alone sound wonderful? The Dictionary of Imaginary Places. It reads like a travelogue of places you might be able to actually visit.

The Sea of Frozen Words was invented by François Rabelais in Le quart livre des faicts et dicts du bon Pantagruel, 1552. I used it as the springboard for the following poem:

by Tabatha Yeatts

If you were to visit the Sea of Frozen Words
on any winter day,
you would see camera-draped tourists
embark from their sleds, radiant,
taking in the frigid air.

With gloved hands clutching picks and shovels,
they scratch their way to the letters,
seeking out their favorites,
the flavors that they can't forget.
They take pictures of each other, smiling,
holding up their glistening trophies.

Some people get a taste of laughter and dream of it all year.
Others find that confessions of love
fill their mouths with the most delicious sensations.
Risk-takers and thrill-seekers dig up desperate pleas,
heated arguments,
last words.

If you wait too close to spring,
you might miss your chance,
and only be able to hear
the remaining, hidden words
as they melt and float away:

sounds of bargaining and breakfast,
sounds of battles and birth,
sounds of the first night of winter
when people plan trips to the
Sea of Frozen Words
by singing out the most delectable sounds they know.


Sara is hosting the Poetry Friday round-up today.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Violins, Lutes, Guitars, and a Composer

"Ah, music. A magic beyond all we do here!"
~J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone

Be Bop Jazzy Hand-Painted Violin
by Julie Borden

Blind Fiddler's Eye
by Harry Yeatts, Jr.

Bernardo Strozzi, 1635

Yolanta Ostaszewska
by J. Simon

The Lute
by Thomas Wilmer Dewing

Artist Painting a Portrait of a Musician
by Marguerite Gerard

Musical Group on a Balcony
by Gerritt van Honthorst, 1622

Clara Schumann
by Franz von Lenbach, 1878

* Women of Note (information about composers)
* Midi music of early women masters

P.S. Do you know which Harry Potter character said the quote at the top?

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Thanks for Stopping By!

I added a flag counter earlier this month and it reached 100 flags today! Hello, Armenia!

Two of the "flags" are anonymous, though -- not sure if they count. But someone from Nigeria just stopped by (Hello, Nigeria!), so maybe we'll make it to a "real" 100 before long.

Speaking of flags, one of my kids recently participated in her school's Geography Bee. As a family, we learned a ton of geography facts when she was getting ready for the Bee. It was a great experience for all of us.

You can take GeoBee online quizzes (they change every day) at the National Geographic site.

The Armenian flag is from Maps of the World.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Fear and Courage

Yesterday I found a folder that I'd been using a number of years ago to store ideas for a project. I was going through it this morning and found this:

Create a Fear and Courage newspaper with your class/club.
* Have your students bring in magazine or hand-drawn pictures that illustrate either fear or courage (or both).
* On a bulletin board or wall, draw a front page of a newspaper on plain paper. Title it "The Classroom Daily" - Fear and Courage Issue.
* Talk with your group about fear and courage. Use their ideas to write newspaper articles. Post the pictures as illustrations.

The very next bit in my folder was part of an article from Idealist:
Zakia Zaki hosts a children’s programme on Radio Solh - a community radio initiative in Jabulsaraj in the central Afghan province of Parvan. Establishing Radio Solh was not easy, given Afghan traditions and the power of local warlords. "We got
letters from a local warlord threatening me with death, just after we opened," Zaki said, noting that as a woman, it had been tremendously difficult to run an independent radio station in a conservative male-dominated society. But she persevered.
She sounds like a perfect example of courage, doesn't she? I looked her up to see how the children's radio program was doing (the info I had was from 2004), and saw that she was assassinated in 2007.

Zakia Zaki is in the center of the photo above. Today is a great day to think about courage -- to honor it in others and appreciate it in ourselves, in whatever form it takes. For some people, courage will mean going to school despite the possibility of having acid thrown at you for doing it. For others, just getting up in the morning is an act of courage.

“Courage doesn't always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, 'I will try again tomorrow.'”
~ Mary Anne Radmacher

Monday, February 21, 2011

A Bath for the Soul

Music washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life.
~Berthold Auerbach

Look where they are playing! This would have been an amazing performance to attend:

You might also get a kick out of this two-cello performance of Michael Jackson's Smooth Criminal.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Silencing the Magic String

A few can touch the magic string, and noisy fame is proud to win them: Alas for those that never sing, but die with all their music in them!
~ Oliver Wendell Holmes

The Detroit Symphony Orchestra management has canceled the rest of the 2010-2011 season. I think it stinks.

A previous post about the DSO strike

Friday, February 18, 2011

Counting Crows (and Sparrows and Chickadees...)

out of its throat
smaller than a finger
can there fall the waters
of its song?
~ Pablo Neruda from Ode to Bird Watching

Theodora alerted me that this weekend is the Great Backyard Bird Count. She says, "The more people that participate in the count of the birds, the better it will be for their protection." A chickadee surprised our family (and excited our cats) by flying into our house yesterday. That's one bird counted.

How to Participate

More How To Info

Learning About Birds

Mosaic by Giandomenico Facchina. Sainte-Barbe library, Paris.


Windmills of Poems and Lace
by LilyMoon

Purple Iris with Shakespeare's Sonnet 54
ACEO from Theodora Demetriades

Flower in the Crannied Wall
by Alfred Lord Tennyson
photo by Pipi Photography

The Day Is Done
by A Wing and a Prayer Gifts

The day is done, may kind night spread
Her gentle wings o'er heart and head.
Rest for my body, peace of mind,
In sleep's calm haven I will find.
Bright dreams will come to welcome me
Into the land of memory.
Then shall to-morrow's love bring light
After the dark of this good night.

And from the Keep Calm Shop

Want an instant haiku? They are selling for 44 cents (the price of a stamp) - $10 (if you're feeling generous).

A call for submissions from Edgar and Lenore's Publishing House

Today's Poetry Friday round-up is at Great Kid Books.

Thursday, February 17, 2011


Imagination must be wanting in the people to whom such a spectacle does not appeal with singular force, and on whose minds it does not leave a profound impression.
~ "The Volcanoes of Central America," Harper’s, 1859

Vesuvius from Posíllipo
by Joseph Wright
Yale Center for British Art, New Haven

Vesuvius erupting at Night, circa 1768
by William Marlow

by Frederic Edwin Church

Outbreak of the Vesuvius
by Johan Christian Claussen Dahl (1826),
collection Städelsches Kunstinstitut, Frankfurt am Main

Ukiyoe depicting 1888 Eruption of Mount Bandai, Japan
by Tankei Inoue

Volcano of Delight, 1890
Composer: J.P. Melmoth

An illustration from Journey to the Center of the Earth by Jules Verne
painted by Édouard Riou

Mount Aetna from Taormina, 1842
by Thomas Cole


~ Smithsonian/USGS Volcanic Activity Report
~ Earth As Art:Volcanoes
~ Volcano Classroom Activities and Lesson Plans

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

In Praise of NPR

I've spoken before about WAMU's Kojo Nnambdi and Kavitha Cardoza, and I've mentioned Marketplace, but somehow I've never talked about Diane Rehm.

Here's a little story about Diane Rehm...

One time I was listening to her show as I drove to pick up my daughter from summer camp. That day's program had left me riveted, teary. I sat in the car listening until I realized I needed to hurry up, so I wiped my eyes and tried to compose myself. As I walked across the parking lot, I heard the Diane Rehm show coming from another car. I couldn't resist saying hello to whoever had been sharing this listening journey with me. I peeked in the window and saw a woman wearing a head scarf, sitting there with tear-streaked cheeks. It didn't matter how different our backgrounds were -- Diane Rehm touched our hearts. After we talked about how wonderful the show was, I hurried to pick up my daughter.

There are plenty of times when the show doesn't make me cry, times when it is more educational than inspirational. But I value the explanations and insight I learn from the Diane Rehm show as well. Thanks, Diane!

As long as I'm at it, I should really mention WETA's David Ginder. I listen to him every day while I am driving my oldest child (the same daughter mentioned in the story above) to school. We are a two-person David Ginder fan club.

And lastly, I'd better include that my son's favorite NPR show is Wait Wait...Don't Tell Me!

~ Sign a petition to protect NPR and PBS from being defunded
~ NPR's Song of the Day
~ Fresh Air with Terry Gross. Enjoyed the George Shearing interview yesterday.
~ Car Talk
~ Oops! Almost forgot Science Friday with Ira Flatow

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Keep the Night Light Burnin' in the Kitchen, Baby

Everybody gets blue over something, sometime. I've been known to have the "Got An Elderly Dog Blues," but that doesn't have much of a ring to it.

Stevie Ray Vaughan is one of my all time favorite musicians. Here he is with his talented friend Lonnie Mack:

This video goes pretty well with the Kinks song I mentioned before, although it might go better with a milk tune.

Update: He and I don't have the same kind of old dog blues, but here's Jim Jackson singing about his.

Monday, February 14, 2011

While The Earth Flies Past

The balloon seems to stand still in the air while the earth flies past underneath.
~ Alberto Santos-Dumont

The Smithsonian contains the Bella C. Landauer Collection of Aeronautical Sheet Music. With songs like, "Cloud Kisser," "My Little Loving Aero Man," and "On Our Balloon Honeymoon," I get the feeling that balloons and planes seemed like good places to have romantic interludes. I'm including a couple of the "have a date in the sky" pictures below.

The quote at the top is by Alberto Santos-Dumont. Read about him here.

~ Aviation and Space music info
~ Aviation in British music

And here's music of birds in flight:

The winds have welcomed you with softness,
The sun has greeted you with its warm hands,
You have flown so high and so well,
That God has joined you in laughter,
And set you back gently into
The loving arms of Mother Earth.
— 'The Balloonists Prayer,' believed to have been adapted from an old Irish sailors' prayer.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

National African American Read-In

The Twenty-Second National African American Read-In
Sponsored by the Black Caucus of NCTE and NCTE

Have a Read-In any day of February! Schools, churches, libraries, bookstores, community and professional organizations, and interested citizens are urged to make literacy a significant part of Black History Month by hosting and coordinating Read-Ins in their communities. Hosting a Read-In can be as simple as bringing together family and friends to share a book, or as elaborate as arranging public readings and media presentations that feature professional African American writers.

Came up with a little list of what I might read during a Read-In:

* Octavia Butler ("Butler is one of the finest voices in fiction — period." Washington Post Book World), Parable of the Sower or Kindred
* Walter Mosley, 47
* Christopher Paul Curtis, Bucking the Sarge
* Walter Dean Myers, The Righteous Revenge of Artemis Bonner
* Eloise Greenfield, Honey, I Love and Other Love Poems
* Paul Laurence Dunbar, The Complete Poems of Paul Laurence Dunbar
* Joanne Gabbin, ed., Furious Flower: African-American Poetry from the Black Arts Movement to the Present
* Juliette Harris and Pamela Johnson, ed., Tenderheaded: A Comb-Bending Collection of Hair Stories
* Julius Lester, The Blues Singers: 10 Who Rocked the World
* Johnetta Cole, Conversations
* Lisa Delpit, The Skin That We Speak: Thoughts on Language and Culture in the Classroom

More books:
* Coretta Scott King book awards
* A Horn Book list of African American books

"I have this theory that anything that happens to you that leaves you alive and intact can be used somewhere in your writing."
~ Octavia Butler

Friday, February 11, 2011

Sleep Safe Till Tomorrow

Seven Sisters in Nebula Fields by Erin Vaganos

Peace on Earth
by William Carlos Williams

The Archer is wake!
The Swan is flying!
Gold against blue
An Arrow is lying.
There is hunting in heaven—
Sleep safe till tomorrow.

The Bears are abroad!
The Eagle is screaming!
Gold against blue
Their eyes are gleaming!
Sleep safe till tomorrow.

The Sisters lie
With their arms intertwining;
Gold against blue
Their hair is shining!
The Serpent writhes!
Orion is listening!
Gold against blue
His sword is glistening!
There is hunting in heaven—
Sleep safe till tomorrow.

Hunter in the Snow by Erin Vaganos

Remember Poem in Your Pocket Day? It's April 14th this year, and here's the Poem in Your Pocket version of Peace on Earth.

Carol from Reading is Fundamental is our Poetry Friday host today.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Marbled Paper

Islamic Arts Magazine has a gorgeous site. While visiting, I saw Özden Aydin's beautiful ebru works, and I became curious about ebru.

What is ebru? It's paper marbling, done with paint in a container of water. It's very cool to watch it being made, so here's a demonstration by Bingul Sevimli.

The University Libraries at the University of Washington have a large Decorated and Decorative Paper Collection, with an informative list of patterns.

Some examples from the UW database:

Italian pattern, from the 19th century

French Curl on Romantic pattern, 19th century

French Curl on Turkish pattern
by Don Guyot

Old Dutch pattern, 20th c.

Turkish antique

Turkish combed
by Don Guyot

* A history of paper marbling
* A video of young students learning ebru
* Ebru school -- this site even explains how to make a marbling brush and comb
* Ebru information from Muslim
* Works by Ahmet Saral

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

NPM 2011 Poster

Making plans for celebrating National Poetry Month at your school, store, or home?

Teachers, librarians, and booksellers, if you'd like a free National Poetry Month poster, order it here.

Anyone can download a free pdf of the poster here.

One thing I've done with the PTA at my kids' schools is to have a Poetry in the Halls program during April. We print out oversized copies of works by published poets, get them laminated, and hang them in the school hallways. Some years we've had forms for kids to respond to the poems and offered prizes (both just for participating and for writing exceptional responses). One year kids also read poems over the morning announcements. Kids who like to act can do an especially wonderful job with that.

More ideas in some older posts.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

In Possession of a Good Fortune

More fortunes:

* Eden Kennedy's Fussy fortunes
* Haiku fortune cookies
* How to make fabric fortune cookies
* How to make Chocolate-dipped fortune cookies (looks easy!)
* An account of the history of fortune cookies
* The fortune above is inspired by a quote from Gandhi.

Monday, February 7, 2011

FAWM Challenge

February is Album Writers Month. The goal is to write an entire album's worth of songs during the shortest month of the year.

I've mentioned National Novel Writing Month before, but I hadn't heard of FAWM until Madelyn Rosenberg wrote about it. Thanks, Madelyn!

If you want to give songwriting a try, it's not too late to jump in. Don't worry about how many songs you write. FAWM has a list of songwriting resources and tools. Also, FAWM on Twitter has songwriting prompts.

So far, participants have written thousands of songs already. If you are interested in checking them out, people are making song recommendations here. To find a certain kind of song (such as classical music or ones for children), you can do a search.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

You Look Great Today

Have I ever told you what a terrific smile you have?

Kind Over Matter has a bunch of free printables, such as the below Free Compliments:

Amanda at KOM printed the pdf out and put it up on a couple of bulletin boards around her town. Sweet idea!

KOM also shares a budget Valentine's Day plan.

As long as we're passing out the compliments, let's get validated, too:

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Kids' Classics

In the market for music made specifically for kids? As with books, music makes great gifts. If you just feel like browsing, check out CD Baby. They have an amazing kids/family selection.

Here's a little list of albums that were played repeatedly at our house when my kids were younger. These aren't the newest albums out there, but they have been kid-tested!

Buckwheat Zydeco: Choo Choo Boogaloo

Laurie Berkner: Buzz Buzz

Sesame Street: Elmo and the Orchestra, (MP3 version)

SteveSongs: On a Flying Guitar

Sharon, Lois, and Bram: Sing A to Z

Jim Gill Makes it Noisy in Boise, Idaho

Cathy Fink & Marcy Marxer with Brave Combo: All Wound Up! A Family Music Party

Trout Fishing in America: Family Music Party

Hmm...I guess we liked family music parties!