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An Occasional Post

I am a reader first


I love to do a lot of things. There’s never enough time in the day, or in the week, or in the year. Music, for one. Never enough time for music.

Last spring I had to get on an airplane. This is not a problem for most people. It is for me. I object to be flying both because it’s an environmental disaster and because it’s a horrible experience. Of which I am afraid. Naturally, I am afraid I am going to die. I do not want to die.

I called the lawyer to set up an appointment to rewrite our wills. “Are you flying somewhere?” he asked. “How did you know?” “Did you last fly seven years ago?” he said. I nodded. “That was the last time you called me.”

I laughed, sort of.

It is apparently standard practice now, in Vermont at least, to fill out an extensive advance directive. This document is not a whole lot of fun. It asks lots of questions I don’t want to have to think about, and I bet you don’t either. Basically, they come down to this: How dead do you want to be before we disconnect the machines? Read More 
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Ramblings about Change and Transition

Advance twice, set to partners…/Change lobsters, and retire in same order. Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland

I have a very difficult time with transitions, with big and small changes, and of course I am not alone. In some areas, I’m an early adopter. It’s that curiosity thing I have spoken of so often. But life in general? No. Not so much. Change=worrisome.

What about transitions in writing?  Read More 
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Dear people,

Remember letters? Epistles? In my entirely forgotten youth, people wrote them to each other. They used pencil or pen (fountain pens! Inkblots! Ruined items!) and paper. Later they used typewriters. Sometimes, thinking they were being ever so cool, they wrote to their camp friends on birchbark or on toilet paper. My friend Howie always signed his missives with a drawing of a banjo, just like Pete Seeger. My father signed his with a round, smiling face (Oh, my father’s letters are another story entirely). People wrote back. Mailboxes contained personal mail. Read More 
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The Beatles, then and now

After I saw the Beatles in Washington a very long time ago, my children, I wrote a letter to my roommate. For some reason--posterity? memory issues?--I kept a carbon copy, and today, in honor of the 50th anniversary of the Beatles first US TV appearance, I have posted that letter. Apparently I have no shame. And I am willing to debase myself in public. I could not, however, post it here, due to weird techie issues. So you can view it here should you be so inclined. If you were there, you'll understand.
http://writeatyourownrisk.wordpress.com/2014/02/09/it-was-50-years-ago-today/ Read More 
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GOING FOR THE GOLD: very long post

Question: is there anything that’s more fun than talking about picture books?

Answer: No. For the purposes of this blog, the correct answer is no. In general, though, the answer is this: dogs.

On December 6th, Grace Greene (Children’s Consultant, Vermont Department of Libraries) and I will be at VCFA hosting/presenting our 16th Mock Caldecott. We first did this many years ago, before most of you were born, my children, but I don’t remember when. Okay, it was 1989. The pattern we set up then still holds, and while I was working at the Vermont Department of Education (17 years) it became my favorite professional event.

Why?  Read More 
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Harper's Index

I’ve been a fan of Harper’s Index since it began, which was a long time ago though I have no idea when. Do you know it? It’s a regular feature in Harper’s—a seemingly random list of statistical information. But it’s far from random. The editors of the page cleverly arrange one-sentence long factoids; often the juxtaposition is absolutely startling. Or upsetting. Or ironic. Amusing. Usually political. There are no conclusions; that’s your assignment. Read between the lines, connect the dots from A to B. Read More 
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An apple a day

(Prologue: to see all apples inserted in the text visit the VCFA wordpress blog. Two examples on the left.)

Doctor’s orders, right? An apple a day. Evidence supports the health benefits.

We have all heard about the 10,000 hour thingie. Want to get good at something? Do it. Do it over and over and over. Yet deep inside, many of us continue to believe in the idea of pure talent. Raise your hand if you’re one of the many.

I am here today to bare my soul and show you the fruit, as it were, of doing something over and over. Of practice. Of a whole bunch of hours. Not quite 10,000 yet, but I’m just getting started. Read More 
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The Keeny-Mo

When I was a wee child, I could not pronounce “vacuum cleaner.” Let’s say I was two. So instead, as my mother or father pushed some antediluvian model around our tiny apartment, I cried “keeny-mo” with delight. Perhaps it should be spelled “ceanie-mo.” There is no way to investigate further.

For the rest of his life (he died more than 30 years ago, much too young), my father referred to the vacuum cleaner as the keeny-mo. I have continued to do so, and now my husband has occasionally followed suit. Read More 
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Holiday Gifts, etc.

To see my latest post, check the Vermont College of Fine Arts faculty blog. Things to give to those you love. It's here, on December 10, 2012.
http://writeatyourownrisk.wordpress.com/
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Truth, Fiction, My Journals, Mal Peet, and instructions in my will

Oops. It's been almost six months since my last blog post. I wondered if I was cut out for this. Now we know. But here's a post I am sharing with the VCFA blog, Write At Your Own Risk.


For over 20 years, I kept a journal. I started in my early teens and stopped at around 40. These assorted notebooks fill a large wooden box, and my will specifies that the box and contents, if still around, are to be burned upon my death, and I AM NOT KIDDING.

These journals are often tales of woe. But they are also filled with the story of my life, and I’ve forgotten almost all of it.  Read More 
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