Tuesday, November 30, 2010


The month of November is ending today, so it's time to reflect on how I did with NaBloPoMo (National Blog Posting Month). I didn't post every day, but this is my fortieth post this month, so I think it all evens out. In this post I reflected that such a month is really unnecessary for a compulsive writer like myself, and perhaps NaQuiBloPoMo would be more appropriate (National Quit Blog Posting Month). So maybe I'll try to cut back in December. We'll see how I do at that.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Back to School

I'm not going to lie: I enjoyed having five days off in a row. The Thanksgiving holiday, and the extra opportunity to spend time with family and friends, was wonderful, and having another day off on Monday, though I was sorry for the reason for it (election mayhem), was an unexpected treat.

Tomorrow we have school again, though, and I think I'm ready. I'm ready to see the kids and I know they are ready to be back. I can just hear them now whining about how bored they were having to stay home all those days. I know they will be excited to see each other, if not to get back to work.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

And it's Official

No school tomorrow. Please pray for Haiti.


Since getting home from Thanksgiving dinner on Thursday, I have basically been wearing pyjamas. (I did dress briefly yesterday in honor of a visit from the electrician.) A weekend in pyjamas is generally a good thing, although I was sorry to miss church this morning. Reports on whether people could be on the streets or not varied. Some said there was a ban on all private vehicles; others said only private vehicles could be out. The US embassy advised remaining indoors, and although I don't always turn to the US embassy for advice on my behavior - they tend to overreact - we did what they said this time. Why all this? Just election drama. It appears that many of the candidates are calling for the elections to be annulled. One person was shot out in the Artibonite Valley and there were "clashes" in the south.

Apart from more helicopters going overhead than usual, my neighborhood is quiet, but I am reading reports on Facebook of people protesting in the streets in other areas of the city. It's hard to imagine how an orderly election could have been carried out under the conditions in Port-au-Prince right now. This article talks about polls opening late, about confusion over dead people on the rolls, and people being unsure where to go to vote.

The next question: will there be school tomorrow? Officially yes, but if the unrest increases or gets worse, perhaps it will be canceled. We'll have to wait and see.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Read This

There's nobody quite like Corrigan. Here you can read about how he risked his life to get a Thanksgiving turkey and how he believes that Jesus really is making all things new.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Poetry Friday: Ordinary

On Sunday I mentioned that we would be reading odes in eighth grade this past week. We did, and a couple of kids tried one: I got an ode to water and an ode to chocolate. Good topics. When I started to write my own, though, I couldn't narrow down my thoughts to one object, so I ended up writing an ode to ordinary.

Ode to Ordinary

Praise the tedium of an ordinary day.

Getting up in the morning,
Spreading butter on bread,
Dishes to wash and laundry to fold,
Bickering children with beautiful, dirty faces.

Meetings and emails,
Papers to grade,
Sticky notes and dust.

The regular faces, the regular greetings,
Good moods and bad,
Grumbling about the weather.
Beans and rice for lunch on a green plate.

The sun came up today.
The earth is not quaking under my feet.
I am not in pain.
Dress up and use the good china!

Praise, praise the tedium of an ordinary day.

Ruth, from thereisnosuchthingasagodforsakentown.blogspot.com

Here's today's Poetry Friday roundup.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!

This is what I wrote last year about the things for which I was grateful to God. This year I could write the same list, though the order would probably change a bit. I would still put my family first, but my friends would be second. How very, very thankful I am for the people God has put in my life this year. I can't express how thankful.

Every item on this list is so much more valuable to me this year than it was last. The earthquake brought all of my blessings into sharp focus. It takes very little to bring me to tears of gratitude for my survival and for the sheer abundance of my life - far beyond what I need. Thank you, Lord.

Sixth on my list last year was my health. I have a friend going through chemotherapy for ovarian cancer right now, and she wrote a few days ago that anyone who wasn't suffering physical pain should thank God for that fact. I have, every day since I read her words. Freedom from pain is a wonderful gift, and one that could be gone at any moment, one to be appreciated.

This morning I read for the first time these words from Emily Dickinson:

One day is there of the series
Termed "Thanksgiving Day"
Celebrated part at table
Part in memory -

I have many memories on this Thanksgiving Day, mostly of people I lost this year, either to death or other kinds of separation. Laughter and tears are very closely related in my life right now, joy and sorrow, love and pain. I am a bundle of emotions, nerve endings very close to the surface. But the uppermost emotion today is gratitude. The words "Thank you" are much too weak to say what I mean.

Happy Thanksgiving to all of my readers, wherever you are. Hug your friends and family and tell them what they mean to you. Enjoy every blessing God gives you. Believe me when I tell you that you don't know when it could be gone.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Seventh Graders and Books

My seventh graders are writing children's stories, so we've been reading picture books for a while together and talking about how the authors approach the stories, the kinds of stories young children enjoy, and issues of craft. It's a lot of fun - I have to admit that reading aloud is one of my favorite things to do, so I probably chose this unit partly because of that.

This year's seventh grade class is extremely opinionated and not at all shy about expressing those opinions. This week in our three days of school I read three books about people: Miss Rumphius, My Great-Aunt Arizona and Island Boy. They hated all of them, especially the last, which we read today.

"Why does everyone die in these books?" they grumbled. I pointed out that everyone really does die, and not just in these books, but they thought that young children should be spared that knowledge. They found the books depressing, too long, and, as one student always remarks, with not enough explosions.

Another book they hated was Jane Yolen's beautiful Owl Moon. The word "boring" was mentioned more than once.

This class doesn't do lyrical, and it doesn't do melancholy. The specific request for next week is "funny books." But I know that not all kids feel this way. A case in point: myself. My favorite fairy tale as a child was "The Little Mermaid," not the Disney version (far in the future still) but the heartbreaking Hans Christian Andersen original. It made me sad, but in a pleasurable way, and I loved the language of it. I cried when I read Little Women at about ten, not a few tears but deep, racking sobs. And then I reread the book countless times until I almost had it memorized.

I guess you could draw the conclusion that I was (and perhaps still am) strange. I wouldn't read those stories to this class, for sure. Instead I choose the funniest, most action-packed read-alouds I can find. I just finished Carl Hiaasen's Flush with them, and they liked it a lot. Now I'm reading What Child is This?: A Christmas Story, by Carolyn Cooney, a book about foster children. So far the kids are a bit grumpy about this one; it does tend toward the lyrical, and there are a lot of characters, something they find confusing. But I'm persevering because it's a good book and eventually everything will come together for them, I hope.

Mighty to Save

We sang this song in Chapel this morning.

We sang this the night of the earthquake, in the chapel. We all felt we needed to get together and pray, and sing, but we didn't end up staying in there long because the ground kept shaking and it felt much safer to be under the sky.

I remember singing, "Our Savior, He can move the mountains." Ben commented that he thought it was a little soon after an enormous earthquake to start singing about moving mountains. Then he said, "Excuse me, I always deal with stress by making inappropriate jokes." I think of that every time I sing the song now.

But there's much more in this song. Here are the words:

Everyone needs compassion
Love that’s never failing
Let mercy fall on me
Everyone needs forgiveness
The kindness of a Savior
The hope of nations

He can move the mountains
For my God is mighty to save
He is mighty to save
Author of salvation
He rose and conquered the grave
Jesus conquered the grave

So take me as You find me
All my fears and failures
Fill my life again
I give my life to follow
Everything I believe in
Now I surrender

Shine Your light and
Let the whole world see
We’re singing
For the glory of the risen King

Tuesday, November 23, 2010


I finally finished Mockingjay this morning. I'm not sure why it took me so long. If anything, this is the fastest-paced of the three books. While the first and second books take their time setting the scene and developing character (though they are both full of heart-pounding action), this one felt much more rushed.

(Warning: spoilers ahead, if you haven't read the first two books.)

The book opens with Katniss making a return trip to District 12, which has been destroyed. She lives now in District 13 along with Gale and all the other survivors from District 12, except for Peeta, who has been captured by the Capitol. Peeta is being used as a propaganda tool by the Capitol and District 13 wants to use Katniss the same way if only she will agree.

Large parts of this book read like a description of a video game, and I think that will appeal to many of my students. But I'm not sure what they are going to think of the ending. To me it felt inevitable, and I was glad that Collins had the courage to follow through. I know that's cryptic, but I can't spoil it for you - go read it yourself!

I have read reviews that criticize this book for being too anti-war but to me this is the beauty of the series. Katniss learns about the futility of violence and hatred and deals with the terrible consequences of both. When people dehumanize each other and see other human beings as less than themselves, everyone suffers. There's not a way to sugar-coat this idea, and Collins doesn't even try. Heavy stuff for adolescents, and yet this is the way the world is. This dystopic series is well worth reading and discussing.

This was book #65 of 2010.

This post is linked to the November 27th edition of the Saturday Review of Books.

Sunday, November 21, 2010


We're going to look at some odes this week in eighth grade. To me this seems a great way to celebrate Thanksgiving, to read some of Pablo Neruda's joyous praise of ordinary objects. I wish I could read them in Spanish, but I enjoy them very much in English.

You can read some of Neruda's odes here and here and here.

I think I'll try to write an ode this week. There are so many things to praise.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Earthquakes are Taboo

Today I was playing Taboo with my English Enrichment class and a student gave this clue: "This happened in Haiti ten months ago."

Seriously? Even in Taboo, there's an earthquake?

Poetry Friday: I dwell in Possibility and Wave

Lately, the facts of life in Haiti - tents, storm, cholera, riots - have been extremely depressing. But there's more to life than facts, right?

I dwell in Possibility
by Emily Dickinson

I dwell in Possibility --
A fairer House than Prose --
More numerous of Windows --
Superior -- for Doors --

Of Chambers as the Cedars --
Impregnable of Eye --
And for an Everlasting Roof
The Gambrels of the Sky --

Of Visitors -- the fairest --
For Occupation -- This --
The spreading wide of narrow Hands
To gather Paradise --

I love this picture of gathering Paradise. There is so much beauty around us in the world and in other people. Possibility is a wonderful place to dwell.

For Emily Dickinson, gathering Paradise involved writing, and it does for me, too. (Not that I put myself in her league, or even anywhere near her league.) The other day I was overwhelmed by waves of emotion: fear, pain, love, gratitude. I felt almost that those emotions came from outside me. I closed my eyes and felt buffeted by them, unable to do a thing about it. But since I dwell in Possibility, I decided to write about it. Here's what I had at the end of my free period:


Floating on my back,
Face baking body cool,
Trusting the ocean to hold me up,
Mind empty of thought.

Without warning the wave submerges me.
I'm underwater,
Full of water,
Crushed by water.
Slammed into the sand,
Pinned down by a force outside myself,
A power that dwarfs my efforts to escape.
I struggle for air,
Claw towards the surface,
Where I will be myself again
Instead of nothing but a desire to survive.

How can you speak of controlling this wave?
This wave of pain-grief-love,
This wave that flings me onto the beach,
Gasping and covered with seaweed?

by Ruth from thereisnosuchthingasagodforsakentown.blogspot.com

I have no illusions that this is a great poem or even a good one, but oh, I felt so much better after writing it. I felt more able to deal with myself and my surroundings. As I've said before on this blog, you can do what you want with words, move them around as you choose; not so people or circumstances. I can't control those waves of emotion but I can control what I do with them. It's part of gathering Paradise, writing it down, the good and the bad, the beautiful and the unbearable.

Here's today's Poetry Friday roundup.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Vertières Day

Today we have the day off school to celebrate Vertières Day. Vertières was a decisive battle in the Haitian struggle for independence against the French. This site, which plays a loud, bombastic version of the Haitian national anthem, calls the battle "one of the most horrifying battles ever fought in the history of the world," which, if you think about it, is really saying something. Here's some more information about what happened.

This is the first year that I've been admitting on my blog that I'm in Haiti, and I'm enjoying being able to tell you, my readers, about the holidays here.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010


I've skipped three days of posting. It's a disgrace, especially when Haiti is in the news again. And once again, not for a good reason.

So you can go read about that if you want, but this morning I'm reading about children's books. Specifically, the nine most subversive ones ever published. It's not what you think!

And speaking of subversive, Kelly Gallagher won't teach to the test. I mean, honestly. What can you do with a teacher like that?

Both of these articles, and lots more, came in my weekly email from the NCTE. I know about what's going on around me in this country, and my students write about it and talk about it. We talk about it together, and grieve and pray for Haiti. But some days I just have to choose to focus my energies where I can make a difference: in my own classroom. If my students learn to think more clearly and express themselves more forcefully, can the world be better in the future? I don't know, but I sure hope so.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Mangoes and Haiti

Photo Credit: wholefoodsmarket.com

In 2008, I described eating a mango for lunch and the ensuing mess. Back in 2006, I wrote this post called Joy is a Mango. I wrote:
The other day I went into the auditorium at my daughter's school and saw that they have put up a large fruit at the front to represent each of the fruit of the spirit. I laughed when I saw that joy was a mango. How perfect. Of course joy is a mango, as its juice runs down your chin and its sweetness fills you up. Joy is extravagant and cheery and so is a mango. Joy sustains us through tough times, and hey, a mango does a good job of that too. It's good for you and delicious too.

Today I read this article about Haitian mangoes, which does a good job of capturing some of the delight and frustration of this country I love so much.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Ten Months

Today marks ten months since the earthquake in Haiti. If you watch the video at this site, you can see a graphic representation of how many aftershocks there were during the first month after the initial quake. Those have slowed (although apparently there was a small one yesterday), but the metaphorical aftershocks are still happening. Grief, pain, and fear still shake us.

And then there is the cholera. This article does a good job of showing the impact of this terrible illness.

I recently read that now 4% of the rubble has been cleared. When you consider that in my nine month anniversary post I said that 2% had been cleared, you can appreciate that the cleanup has been getting faster. However, there is still much work to be done.

I wonder which memories will last the longest if I am fortunate enough to reach an age where I begin to forget even the most intense moments of my life. Will I remember scenes from boarding school? What about my wedding day? Surely the births of my babies will be among the last memories to go. But I think the night that will stick with me the longest, even if all my other memories fade, will be January 12th, 2010, lying shivering on the soccer field with my husband and children, sick with fear, feeling the earth tremble beneath us again and again.

Today it has been ten months since that day. Every day I grieve in some way the losses of the earthquake, whether it is while reading something written by one of my students or while talking to a friend or while looking around me and seeing the evidence that still remains of the destruction. But every day, too, I delight in my continuing life, and the many gifts that God has given me. I take none of them for granted.

Poetry Friday: "as if death were nowhere in the background"

The cholera epidemic continues, and gets worse, and yet in the midst of it all there are many moments that are beautiful and filled with joy - joy in my family, my friends, my students. I almost feel guilty for being happy when so many are miserable, but I know that these days are to be seized.

So while it's a day of suffering in Port-au-Prince, it's also, in a strange way, a good day for a poem about peaches.

"From Blossoms," by Li-Young Lee, ends this way:

O, to take what we love inside,
to carry within us an orchard, to eat
not only the skin, but the shade,
not only the sugar, but the days, to hold
the fruit in our hands, adore it, then bite into
the round jubilance of peach.

There are days we live
as if death were nowhere
in the background; from joy
to joy to joy, from wing to wing,
from blossom to blossom to
impossible blossom, to sweet impossible blossom.

You can read the whole thing here.

Death is always, always somewhere in the background. Except when it's in the foreground. And yet life is filled with so much beauty, so many perfect gifts from God. I'm grateful. "From joy to joy to joy."

Here's today's Poetry Friday roundup.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Cholera Continues

This is a heartbreaking article.

Missed a Day

Oh no! I just realized I didn't post at all yesterday! So much for my NaBloPoMo ambitions!

Well, sorry. I was too busy reading Mockingjay.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010


I ordered my copy of Mockingjay right after it came out, probably in early September (it was published in August). The book was shipped immediately and has spent the intervening time in Customs. Meanwhile a couple of my students have already read the book and are burning to discuss it, which means, to tell me how it ends.

While my husband was in the States last weekend, he bought me another copy and hand-carried it in. Last night I eyed it longingly but I knew that if I started reading it, I wouldn't go to sleep for hours, if at all. Today I took it to work with me, and I actually read a few pages while the seventh graders were doing their silent reading, but any teacher knows that's not a time when you can lose yourself in a book; crowd control is the main issue, and then I have to keep track of what everyone's reading, too.

This evening I was hoping to get started for real on the book, but guess what? I left it in my classroom! So I guess I will have to wait another day.

Nobody tell me what happens, OK?


at what my friend Jess saw today!

Monday, November 08, 2010


It was good to be back to a normal school day today. I enjoyed teaching, used my free period to write a poem, and still caught up with all my grading.

My husband was out of the country this weekend (I never like to tell that on my blog until he gets back, lest criminals read it and come rob me - senseless, I know), and got back today. While he was gone, as usual, things fell apart in the house, with the most dramatic example being an electrical fire leaving charred wires and no city power - again. (Oh yeah, and there was a hurricane. But maybe I mentioned that already.)

In any case, it's good to have him back.

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Back to Work

Tomorrow I have to go back to work. I'm ready - my lesson plans have been done since Thursday, and my grading is all done, and I'm ready to see something other than my house. But work?

I only worked two days last week, since Monday and Tuesday were planned holidays and Friday became a Hurricane Day. Since I had caught up with grading on my free days, I lounged around most of the day Friday and all weekend. And you know, it's easy to get used to that.

Mind you, I'm not complaining. Six months of no job to go to cured me of complaining about my job. Each day is a gift and a blessing. I love my students and I love doing something that I'm good at (some days) and enjoy (almost every day). It's so much fun working to encourage kids to love reading and writing, to "craft literate lives," as Randy Bomer puts it in a great book I've been reading for as long as I can remember, and will one day finish.

But that doesn't mean that I didn't enjoy the rest.

Saturday, November 06, 2010

Photos from Hurricane Tomas


The Story from Haiti, part twenty

In this episode, Conserving Haitian Culture, Dick Gordon talks to Cori Wegener, a "cultural heritage professional" who is helping to preserve art that was damaged in the earthquake in Haiti. She also worked in Iraq at the National Museum. While artwork isn't, of course, as valuable as human life, it is a part of a nation's history. This was fascinating to me. Here are some photos of Wegener working with art in Haiti.

Here's my index to the episodes The Story has done on the Haitian earthquake and its aftermath.

The Story from Haiti, part nineteen

The first segment of this episode, Recuperating after the Quake, tells about Francis Almonor, and his struggles after the earthquake to get his sister Myrtha to the US for the medical care she desperately needed. Myrtha was paralyzed from the waist down after her school collapsed on her. She was being cared for in wretched conditions. Francis was successful in getting her the care she needed, though she remains paralyzed.

Here's my index to the programs The Story has done about the Haitian earthquake and its aftermath.

Here Comes the Sun

"It seems like years since it's been here!"


The night seemed to go on and on, with the rain falling constantly. I discovered a spot where the roof leaks that I didn't know about before - I guess it only leaks at times when the rain has been going on for almost 24 hours and the whole world is saturated.

Yesterday I was talking to a Haitian friend of mine. She is planning to go to the Plateau Central, where she is from originally, to visit her family. Because I care about her, and because she'll be traveling through cholera country, I began to nag her about hand-washing, being careful about what she eats, watching her 2-year-old and being sure he is safe. She told me that she had talked to her brother on the phone and asked him about what kind of arrangements he had for purifying water. He told her that blans (literally, white people, but the word is used for any foreigners no matter what their color) had come around bringing water purification tablets. But he also said that many people were scared to use the tablets because they said that the blans were trying to kill the Haitians. She reassured her brother and told him to go ahead and use them. I wonder how widespread that kind of suspicion is. I have heard many stories of people introducing new water systems and making a point of trying the water themselves in front of the local people, to prove that it really is safe. It seems that this is not a waste of time, and if anybody distributing water purification tablets in the Plateau Central is reading this, you might try it!

It's only the 6th of November and this is already my twelfth post this month. I think that NaBloPoMo is completely unnecessary for someone like me. Instead we should have NaQuiBloPoMo, or National Quit Blog Posting Month, to encourage me to quit writing so often and allow people who want to keep up with my blog a chance to do something else with their lives as well. I just seem to be having an eventful year and to have something to say all the time.

Friday, November 05, 2010

More on the Storm

Here's a summary of how Haiti fared in Hurricane Tomas and here's what the Prime Minister had to say.

The Storm

While today was, I am sure, a miserable day for people living in tents, the storm was so much less damaging than it could have been. It has rained steadily all day, and there are reports from the south about destruction, but Port-au-Prince was spared the devastation we feared.

A friend posted this explanation from a meteorologist she knows. We were, she says, "drenched in mercy."

Praise God!

Poetry Friday: Longfellow

I'm writing this post on Wednesday night, anticipating that I may not have a completely reliable internet connection on Friday, what with the hurricane maybe hitting that day, and all. I found this enormously long poem by Longfellow about building a ship. It seems appropriate as I think about boats around the coastline of this island being moved to safe spots away from the ocean.

(By the way, as I keep saying, Haiti is more than disaster. Take a look at this found poem from the Haitian streets that I posted on Sunday.)

Longfellow is preachy and old-fashioned. Somewhere I have a volume of his poetry that belonged to my grandfather. They are the sort of poems you can imagine being read aloud by gas lamp in Victorian parlors. Somehow this is exactly the sort of thing I want to read as I wait for a hurricane. It helps me to think that

We shall sail securely, and safely reach
The Fortunate Isles, on whose shining beach
The sights we see, and the sounds we hear,
Will be those of joy and not of fear!

Here are some excerpts, and you can read the whole thing here.

(I left out the love story, in which the bride is compared to a barge. A barge? I would not take that as a compliment.)

The Building of the Ship

by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

"Build me straight, O worthy Master!
Stanch and strong, a goodly vessel,
That shall laugh at all disaster,
And with wave and whirlwind wrestle!"

The merchant's word
Delighted the Master heard;
For his heart was in his work, and the heart
Giveth grace unto every Art.
A quiet smile played round his lips,
As the eddies and dimples of the tide
Play round the bows of ships,
That steadily at anchor ride.
And with a voice that was full of glee,
He answered, "Erelong we will launch
A vessel as goodly, and strong, and stanch,
As ever weathered a wintry sea!"


And within the porch, a little more
Removed beyond the evening chill,
The father sat, and told them tales
Of wrecks in the great September gales,
Of pirates coasting the Spanish Main,
And ships that never came back again,
The chance and change of a sailor's life,
Want and plenty, rest and strife,
His roving fancy, like the wind,
That nothing can stay and nothing can bind,
And the magic charm of foreign lands,
With shadows of palms, and shining sands,
Where the tumbling surf,
O'er the coral reefs of Madagascar,
Washes the feet of the swarthy Lascar,
As he lies alone and asleep on the turf.
And the trembling maiden held her breath
At the tales of that awful, pitiless sea,
With all its terror and mystery,
The dim, dark sea, so like unto Death,
That divides and yet unites mankind!


He knew the chart
Of the sailor's heart,
All its pleasures and its griefs,
All its shallows and rocky reefs,
All those secret currents, that flow
With such resistless undertow,
And lift and drift, with terrible force,
The will from its moorings and its course.
Therefore he spake, and thus said he: —

"Like unto ships far off at sea,
Outward or homeward bound, are we.
Before, behind, and all around,
Floats and swings the horizon's bound,
Seems at its distant rim to rise
And climb the crystal wall of the skies,
And then again to turn and sink,
As if we could slide from its outer brink.
Ah! it is not the sea,
It is not the sea that sinks and shelves,
But ourselves
That rock and rise
With endless and uneasy motion,
Now touching the very skies,
Now sinking into the depths of ocean.
Ah! if our souls but poise and swing
Like the compass in its brazen ring,
Ever level and ever true
To the toil and the task we have to do,
We shall sail securely, and safely reach
The Fortunate Isles, on whose shining beach
The sights we see, and the sounds we hear,
Will be those of joy and not of fear!"


Thou, too, sail on, O Ship of State!
Sail on, O Union, strong and great!
Humanity with all its fears,
With all the hopes of future years,
Is hanging breathless on thy fate!
We know what Master laid thy keel,
What Workmen wrought thy ribs of steel,
Who made each mast, and sail, and rope,
What anvils rang, what hammers beat,
In what a forge and what a heat
Were shaped the anchors of thy hope!
Fear not each sudden sound and shock,
'T is of the wave and not the rock;
'T is but the flapping of the sail,
And not a rent made by the gale!
In spite of rock and tempest's roar,
In spite of false lights on the shore,
Sail on, nor fear to breast the sea!
Our hearts, our hopes, are all with thee,
Our hearts, our hopes, our prayers, our tears,
Our faith triumphant o'er our fears,
Are all with thee, — are all with thee!

Poetry Friday is hosted at Teaching Authors today. Here's the round-up.

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Ten Months Later

The Boston Globe posted some amazing, heart-breaking photos of Port-au-Prince now, almost ten months after the earthquake.

Thursday morning

So I've finally broken down and started tracking the storm. It looks as though it's coming, no matter what, but it has moved a bit west and may not be quite as direct a hit as expected. However, there will certainly be a lot of wind and rain, neither of which is pleasant for people living in tents.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Disaster Fatigue

I used to call my son's bedroom a disaster area, but now that doesn't work so well, since I've seen some actual disaster areas. I'm looking for a new metaphor.

Haiti is having quite the year for disasters. We began January with an earthquake which killed 300,000 people on the spot and left many amputees, and while we went for a few months with just the standard miserable poverty of 1.3 million people living in inadequate tents, we then had a storm in September that destroyed 5000 of those tents. That was followed by flooding and then a cholera outbreak (6700+ sick, 442 dead), and now we are waiting for Tropical Depression/Tropical Storm/Hurricane (not quite sure how to address him) Tomas to smash into us. (Not only that, but while I was in the States we had serious flooding where I was, and many people up and down the river lost their homes. This prompted a friend to comment that perhaps I was causing the natural disasters.)

I just read this article, which seems to me to have a slightly hysterical tone. I mean, since when does a news article use the word "terrifying?" Just tell me the news and I'll decide whether to be terrified or not. And on reflection, I think I'll pass. It seems a big waste of energy - there will be plenty of time for terror once this thing actually hits us.

At this point I wouldn't be surprised to look out the window and see the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse riding by. I think I'd just offer the Pale Horse of Death a carrot and tell him he's looking, well, pale. I'm a tiny bit tired of all of the dramatic events.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

November 2nd

Today is another day off, this time for All Souls' Day. Here's an article about yesterday's All Saints' Day celebrations and how the earthquake gave them added significance for participants this year.

Monday, November 01, 2010

Reading Update

Book #64 was The Bull from the Sea, the second in a trilogy by Mary Renault about ancient Athens. This one is about Theseus after he gets back from killing the Minotaur.

I read this trilogy when I was in high school, at the recommendation of my Latin teacher. It's surprising to me that I remember nearly nothing about them. I wonder what I made of them at that age. The Bull from the Sea is a fantastic book, with a brilliant mixture of mystical myth and shrewd psychology. The love story between Theseus and Hippolyta is especially beautiful. I think I wasn't ready to read this at 16. Now I'm going to track down the other two books in the trilogy and reread them as well.

This post is linked to the November 6th Saturday Review of Books.

November 1st

Today I have a day off from work, since this is All Saints' Day. It feels like a breathing space between crises. The cholera outbreak is not over but it has slowed and the fears about Port-au-Prince seem less urgent. And later this week we are supposed to get a visit from a certain Tomas.

But today, the sun is shining and it's a beautiful day and I just finished all my grading. My daughter (13) has hardly been seen today because she is doing NaNoWriMo, writing a 50,000 word novel in the month of November. (I am pretty sure she will stick to it because she already did JulNoWriMo in July.) My son (7) is doing the NaNoWriMo Young Writers' Program, and has set a goal of 4500 words. He has already reached his daily goal and is playing at some friends' house.

I toyed with the idea of doing NaNoWriMo this year with my daughter, but realized that there was no way I could keep up with it and all the grading I will have coming in every day this month. But for slackers like me, there's always NaBloPoMo, which just requires participants to post something - anything! - on their blogs every day of November. Can I do it? We'll see - but I'm going to try, weather and electricity and internet access and other unforeseen issues permitting.

Theme Day - Public Transportation

I didn't know this when I wrote yesterday's tap-tap post, but today's Daily Photo Blog Theme Day theme is Public Transportation! Here you can see links to thumbnails of the participants' photos.

Happy November!