Yesterday a Carolina Wren and an Eastern Bluebird visited our backyard, and today a small white bird I don’t recognize. It was turning its head almost like an owl would, but it’s way too small to be an owl.
Other visitors are: cardinals, grackles, blue jays, finches, woodpeckers, nuthatches, sparrows, and then the chipmunks and squirrels scampering everywhere. A squirrel must have run off with one of the feeders–a metal stick that goes through a cylinder of suet and seeds, and hooks onto the feeder. I can’t find it anywhere.
February 8, 2010
Friday afternoon, I received a wonderful phone call letting me know that Crossing Stones is an honor book for the 2010 Lee Bennett Hopkins Poetry Award.
Congratulations to Alice Schertle, who won the award, and Betsy Franco and Mary Ann Hoberman, whose books are also honored. Such wonderful company!
Here’s a Christmas recipe I make almost every December. It comes to me from my father’s mother, and probably came with her and her family from Norway in the mid-1800’s. I have an electric Krumkake iron, which makes two cookies at a time, in about 40 seconds (once the iron is hot).
1 cup sugar
1 cup butter
2 eggs, well-beaten
1 cup milk
2 cups flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp vanilla
Cream sugar and shortening.
Add flour/baking powder and milk a little at a time, alternating wet and dry ingredients.
Put about a tablespoon of batter in the center of the iron and bake until golden brown (less than a minute for each pair).
Roll quickly over a dowel or wooden cone-shape.
October 8, 2009
I’ve been working hard to finish a book, and now that it’s almost finished, I’m finding it hard to let go of the story and characters. There will be lots more interaction with these two girls as the book goes through the editing process, and the process of book design–but for a few more days here, the story is “mine” in a way it won’t be once I send it off to my editor next week.
It’s wonderful to see Crossing Stones coming through the doorway, entering the world–a full-fledged book now, finding its readers, its place in our conversation, our community of readers and writers.
September 4, 2009
We had a wonderful conference in Fort Wayne last weekend about “Community-Based Language Revival.” So many of the languages that were once spoken on the land we now call America are no longer spoken by very many people. The speakers at the conference acknowledged the deep sadness of this, while challenging the notion that the death of such languages is inevitable.
We had speakers from Canada, Ohio, Minnesota, North Dakota, and Indiana.
A few notes:
Daryl Baldwin told us about the Myaamia Project at Miami University, and about “family immersion” as a way of bringing back a language that has been called extinct. He and his family speak Miami in their home, and his children have grown up knowing how to converse in Miami.
“Language” is not a noun in all languages.
“I want to demonstrate a strength of purpose when I use this language I was given.”
Donald Perrot, one of 6 fluent speakers of Potawatomi, out of 34,000 tribal members–he spoke the language exclusively until he was 6 years old; he’s 70 now.
Other speakers: Chad Thompson, Gretta Yoder Owen, Scott Shoemaker, and Paul Stone. (I wish I’d taken more and better notes, as I don’t want to mis-quote anyone, so I’m not being specific about what each speaker said. (I also spoke about the use of English and Dinak’i in Telida, Alaska, 1981-1884.)
July 28, 2009
I was asked to write a short piece of advice for someone who is writing, or wants to try writing, a verse-novel. I thought I’d share my response here:
I usually call my books novels-in-poems rather than verse-novels.
It’s important to learn the craft of poetry, and become adept at using all the tools in the poetry toolbox.
I love the music of language, the intricacies of the way sound patterns and patterns of meaning intersect and weave together, the way language brings it’s own history into a story so that the story becomes multi-layered–the story of the narrative and the story of how the narrative takes shape within language.
It’s not easy, but if it’s done well, the effort can–in the most glorious moments of writing and reading–become unfelt and invisible. That happens when you go so deeply into the story-poem that language is doing all the heavy lifting. Language can do that for you because it has evolved through eons of specificity. Our job is to trust it.
January 18, 2009
We’re having an unusually cold winter in northeast Indiana this year. Just before Christmas, we had an ice-storm that left about 80,000 homes without power for 4 or 5 days, and now we’re having sub-zero temperatures, so everyone is scrambling to keep pipes from freezing, or to thaw them out once they have frozen.
It makes me remember my years in Alaska, when this kind of weather was the norm for five or six months each winter. In Fairbanks, the schools had indoor recess if the temperature was colder than 20 below zero, but when it was warmer than that, everyone just bundled up in snow-suits and Sorel boots and fur hats and went outside to play.
In Telida, the small community where I lived and taught school for three years, we didn’t worry about freezing pipes because we didn’t have running water in our homes. We didn’t have electricity, so power outages were not a problem. But we did have to be sure to keep a good woodpile, a mix of spruce to get a fire going, and birch to keep it burning hot. When the temperature was 40-60 below, I’d get up several times each night to stoke the fire, and still my water bucket would be frozen in the morning.
I’m a little nostalgic for the coziness of those winter nights, the northern lights sweeping the sky, moose tracks in the deep snow, and everyone helping each other get through the winter.
November 25, 2008
I’m remembering my mother, Jean Timmons Frost, who lived from March 30, 1917 to November 16, 2008. She raised ten children and had 24 grandchildren and 18 great-grandchildren, most of whom gathered in Los Alamos, New Mexico last weekend to honor and appreciate her.
Think of the time-span of her life. She recalled the first time she saw an airplane–at a demonstration by the Wright brothers in Minneapolis when she was a child. She was born before women could vote, and lived through WWI, the depression, and most of WWII before she began the 40 years of her life that would be primarily, but never exclusively, devoted to her children.
She and my father had a loving, fun, supportive marriage, and I feel exceptionally lucky to be a part of the family they brought into the world.
October 29, 2008
And now I can show you the final jacket art for Crossing Stones. Isn’t it beautiful? The story takes place in 1917, in rural Michigan. The book will be out next fall, Frances Foster Books, FSG.
October 3, 2008
My next book, Crossing Stones, is beginning to seem real. The initial sketch of a possible jacket design gives a sense of the time (1917) and the form (water flowing over stones).
In this corner of my website I post news about books, travel, backyard birds and flowers, maybe a few recipes and photos. It’s interesting to look back through the archived posts from the first ten years on my previous website and see when birds arrive, when I traveled to different places, and how books occasionally change titles.