September 29, 2009

September 27, 2009

A Great New England Tradition

The Big E is held yearly in Springfield, Massachusetts. All the New England states participate in this giant fair. The best part--the food!




It's once a year, and in our case, we walked for 8 hours, so we excused ourselves from any guilt regarding the abundance of fried food we ingested!

Smaller fairs take place in the individual states. Coming up is the Deerfield Fair here in New Hampshire. You go to Deerfield to see the animals, and, to eat the apple pie! The Topsfield Fair in Massachusetts also starts this week. You go to that one to see things like greased pole climbing and humongous pumpkins! Topsfield runs through Columbus Day and then fair season is all over for another year.

September 26, 2009

September 25, 2009

Poetry Friday--Peace

I found out about the Pinwheels for Peace Project a bit too late to participate this year, the International Day of Peace was on Monday, 9/21.

The Pinwheels for Peace Project
is not political. Peace doesn’t necessarily have to be associated with the conflict of war, it can be related to violence/intolerance in our daily lives, to peace of mind. To each of us, peace can take on a different meaning, but, in the end, it all comes down to a simple definition: a state of calm and serenity, with no anxiety, the absence of violence, freedom from conflict or disagreement among people or groups of people.
It is a wonderful idea to teach children about peace while they are young and I applaud the schools across the country that participated this year.



If you'd like to participate next year and make a pinwheel that includes a poem of peace, here's a short poem by Wendell Berry, that would be perfect:
The Peace of Wild Things

When despair grows in me
and I wake in the middle of the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children's lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting for their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.


The Poetry Friday Round-Up is being hosted by Susan Taylor Brown. You'll have the chance to listen to her audio.

September 22, 2009

September 20, 2009

Time Capsule

If you're a writer, it helps to get into your main character's head by knowing what is going on in the world around him. With a fantasy, you get to make things up, but, if you're placing your character in the recent past, have I got a tool for you! It's the dMarie Time Capsule.

Say your character is a young adult in 1979. The season is the spring. So, pick a date like 4/30/79. Plug it into the date search box and click "quick page." You'll get results such as the top 10 songs of 1979, the fact that Jimmy Carter was president, and a list of popular TV programs that includes Charlie's Angels and Three's Company. You might want to know that people in 1979 were reading Sophie's Choice by William Styron.

If you want even more information to start, plug in the date and click "Advanced Page." You'll be taken to a month's worth of news headlines for May 1979. For example, on Friday, May 25, an "American Airlines DC-10 crashes in Chicago killing 275." Maybe your character knows someone who perished!

You can check what was going on at the time of your character's birth in 1962 or to move forward to your character's 30th birthday in 1992. Use the dMarie Time Capsule frequently to fill in your "historical" setting. It's an easy and fun way to enhance your character, and, your plot!

September 18, 2009

Poetry Friday--Frederick Douglass


One hundred seventy years ago this month, on September 3, a 20 year-old slave, Frederick Douglass managed to make his way to freedom.

From the Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass (published in 1845):
It is impossible for me to describe my feelings as the time of my contemplated start drew near. I had a number of warmhearted friends in Baltimore,--friends that I loved almost as I did my life,--and the thought of being separated from them forever was painful beyond expression. It is my opinion that thousands would escape from slavery, who now remain, but for the strong cords of affection that bind them to their friends. The thought of leaving my friends was decidedly the most painful thought with which I had to contend. The love of them was my tender point, and shook my decision more than all things else.


TENDER POINT

He managed
to escape, not by luck
but by careful
planning and the help
of others who were willing
to put their own
safety in peril.

How lucky he was.

He left not easily,
but accompanied
by pain, pain
profoundly deep with
the loss of friends
who bound him with strong
cords of affection.

How lucky he was.

How lucky he was
to know the difference
between the tender
point and the point
at which he would
be tendering his soul.
A friendship can
be rekindled,
a soul cannot.

© Diane Mayr, all rights reserved

An interesting side note for my New Hampshire friends--"The Fugitive's Song," shown above, was written by Jesse Hutchinson. Jesse was a member of the Hutchinson Family of singers who were from Milford, NH.

The picture is from the Library of Congress, which gave it a copyright date of 1845. Douglass and the Hutchinson Family toured together in England during the year 1845.

If you'd like to read another poem about Frederick Douglass, there is stunning one by Robert E. Hayden here.

The Poetry Friday Round-Up this week is being hosted at Becky's Book Reviews.

September 15, 2009

September 13, 2009

Cat graph

I have two cats, and as anyone who is owned by a cat knows, this chart is right on the money!

song chart memes
Courtesy of GraphJam

September 11, 2009

Poetry Friday--9/11

I was speaking with someone the other day who mentioned that her mother's birthday is September 11, and ever since 2001, the family has celebrated the birthday on another day.

9/11 was a powerful event in every American's life, and it still has its consequences.

Perhaps, the only good that came out of the 9/11 event was that it inspired many people to pick up a pen and to write. In many cases, what came out was poetry.

In 2001 I had been writing haiku for years, but, I never wrote Poetry (with a capital "P" as opposed to verse with a small "v"). For me, too, 9/11 was indelibly printed in my memory, and I was compelled to write about one of the haunting visuals from Manhattan.
ACROSS TO BROOKLYN

Snow came early that year
even though the calendar
had yet to mark autumn.
On a Tuesday morning
the sun rose into
a vivid crayola sky,
the clouds puffy as if
drawn by a child.
No one could have known
how quickly summer would pass.

A thunderclap,
then another,
signaled the start
of a new winter.
A terrific wind
released the flurry.
The sky filled with
snowflakes floating,
twirling, almost dancing
across to Brooklyn.

There was no ice
in these flakes,
yet the chill was tangible.
No crystalline patterns—
just the names of strangers,
facts and figures,
corporate logos,
and private matters,
on 8 1/2 by 11 inch
pieces of paper.

© Diane Mayr, all rights reserved
After writing my 9/11 poem, I continued to write, a little poem here, another there. I hope that others, too, continued to write.

About.com maintains a page, "Poems After the Attack," which they republish every September. If you can bear the memory, read a few of the poems.

Check out the Poetry Friday Round-Up at Wild Rose Reader.

September 8, 2009

September 7, 2009

Happy Labor Day!

I thought I'd share some photos of Labor Day, and other labor parades from the past. The images are courtesy of the Library of Congress.

Several are of the spectators. I love to see how people dressed!

One hundred years ago, in New York. Child labor was still rampant. Children probably were treated as slaves as the sign indicates.




1913 at an unspecified location. If I had to guess, I would say New York City. Someone captioned the photo as "suffragettes," but the banner, as far as I can make out says, "English Speaking Union Whitegoods Workers Local (the rest I can't make out)"




Washington, D.C. in 1929.




This one is from Colorado in 1930. Love the kids' body language!




1940 Pennsylvania.




Detroit in 1942, one year into the Second World War. Look around, there are signs of war every where.





September 5, 2009

Oh My!


I'm not going to say much, just going to direct you to two articles that have stuck a stake in my heart as both a librarian and a writer.

From the Boston Globe, "Welcome to the library. Say goodbye to the books."
Instead of a library, the academy is spending nearly $500,000 to create a "learning center," though that is only one of the names in contention for the new space. In place of the stacks, they are spending $42,000 on three large flat-screen TVs that will project data from the Internet and $20,000 on special laptop-friendly study carrels. Where the reference desk was, they are building a $50,000 coffee shop that will include a $12,000 cappuccino machine.

And this from CNN, "The Future of Libraries, With or Without Books."
In the United States, libraries are largely funded by local governments, many of which have been hit hard by the recession.

That means some libraries may not get to take part in technological advances. It also could mean some of the nation's 16,000 public libraries could be shut down or privatized. Schultz, of the Berkeley Law School, said it would be easy for public officials to point to the growing amount of free information online as further reason to cut public funding for libraries.

One more thing--last year we had an ice storm that left us without electricity for several days. I was able to pull a book off the shelf and read it. What happens when there's no electricity AND no books?

September 4, 2009

Poetry Friday--September, 1918

Photo by sarae

What is it about September that brings on melancholy thoughts?

This poem by Amy Lowell, "September, 1918," struck me as being as valid today as it was 90 years ago. Lately, I've been having thoughts about the two wars we are mired in. I, too, am trying to "balance myself/Upon a broken world" and it makes me oh, so, sad, since I don't see the hopeful "Some day there will be no war" ever coming to pass.
September, 1918

This afternoon was the colour of water falling through sunlight;
The trees glittered with the tumbling of leaves;
The sidewalks shone like alleys of dropped maple leaves,
And the houses ran along them laughing out of square, open windows.
Under a tree in the park,
Two little boys, lying flat on their faces,
Were carefully gathering red berries
To put in a pasteboard box.
Some day there will be no war,
Then I shall take out this afternoon
And turn it in my fingers,
And remark the sweet taste of it upon my palate,
And note the crisp variety of its flights of leaves.
To-day I can only gather it
And put it into my lunch-box,
For I have time for nothing
But the endeavour to balance myself
Upon a broken world.
This week's Poetry Friday Round-Up is being hosted by Kelly at Crossover.

September 1, 2009