Category Archives: my online writer’s notebook

Adventures in Married Life: Where Is That Smell Coming From?

We ignored it for a few days, but after returning from visiting Bret’s parents this weekend, we could stand it no longer.

“Where is that smell coming from?” I asked in an admittedly disgusted voice. I opened the pantry that houses our garbage and recycling. “Not there.” I stick my nose in the sink on the disposer side. “Not there.” I open the refrigerator and am smacked in the face with stench.

Over the past couple of weeks, we’ve had many guests. My parents were here and we made a turkey. Bret’s sister and her family came and we made fondue. The Eagles played the Giants. We invited friends and made a ham. All of these guests and events produced leftovers, which were now filling my fridge in tupperware. And one of them smelled. Bad.

One by one, I took the containers from the refrigerator to inspect, thirteen in all. Broccoli, potatoes, fruit, chocolate/peanut butter concoction. Fondue. Stuffing. Turkey. Ham, pineapple. Giants/Eagles game. There were a few more in there that had no doubt exceeded their shelf life. I can’t even remember when we made them. Pigs in a blanket. Who saves those? My husband, that’s who. Something that looks like queso dip and one so unrecognizable that the whole tupperware container went in the garbage with it. Eww.

We trashed. We washed. We dried. We have yet to put away and they are still in the dish strainer. But alas, I have not yet found the answer to my question.

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Harry’s Writing Scene

Harry was determined to write something.

Alright. Let’s do this.

I nose the pencil over to the gleaming piece of blank paper in front of me. I get slightly dizzy watching it spin with each poke from my increasingly numb nose.

Time to pick you up, big yellow beast. With my paws latched under the pencil’s groove, I lift with all my might. Grrrrrrrrrrrrrgggggggggr. hu, hu, hu (heavy breathing). Ug, this thing weighs A TON! Who would have thought writing could be such hard work? I brace myself once more, bending at my knees, and I pull up with all my might. Grrrrrrgrrrgrggrrgrr. hu, hu, hu. Unsuccessful. This is clearly not working.

I sit and ponder my options. Hmm. Maybe a shorter pencil. I scurry over to the counter and climb up the bookcase, making my way to the pencil cup. I pick one out and start with my nosing routine again.

This time, it takes considerably less effort. With one heave I have the pencil resting on my shoulder. Now, my first sentence. I’d better begin with a capital letter.

Harry was tired of being treated as the average classroom hamster.

Because of the weight of the pencil, Harry wobbled to and fro, trying to form each letter correctly.

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Fact #2 Fiction Relys on Character Wants

So, I know my hamster wants a more meaningful life. I think that’s going to happen when he sneaks out of his cage at night and begins to write. OOooo, I got it! He’ll practice what we learn in the mini-lesson that day and leave it on chart paper for us to read in the morning and none of us know where it’s coming from. Yea! I like that idea!

But something has to happen to MAKE him want to begin writing. Maybe a writing contest comes along that he wants to enter? Or I say something that makes him want to write? He reads something that inspires him? I’m not sure yet.

And how will he figure out a writing life will make his life more meaningful? That’s a hard lesson to learn, even for a person. Hmm. That’s going to be toughie. I think he only realizes his life has become more meaningful after he moves somebody or makes something happen with his writing.

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Fact #1: Quality Fiction Is All About the Character

So I’m teaching my children how to develop characters. I think it’s time to write alongside them. Here goes:

My Character’s Name: (yet to be determined) But it’s a hamster who lives in our fourth grade classroom

Age: mm, old for a hamster… but it’s his first year in our classroom. That will make him wise and let him learn something about writing. OR, I could decide he has been in my classroom for years and years and has heard me teach writing over and over. This year, he’ll finally try my mini-lessons himself.

Physical Description: brown/grayish ears, but has the colors of a snickers bar- milky white fur on his belly, caramel colored on his back.

Personality: slightly arrogant, intelligent (for a hamster). I think he has a British accent.

Feelings: resents being a hamster stuck in a classroom. Dislikes being stared at by all the kids but REALLY despises hearing me teach writing. Does enjoy read aloud though.

Socially: doesn’t really say anything since he’s a hamster, though he does try to talk to the students and convince them that my teaching is rubbish.

Family: none known

Dreams & Aspirations: find meaning in his life because all he does is run in wheel, eat, drink, and sleep.

Quirk: Loves the aroma of my coffee (thinks it’s my only redeeming quality).

Some things he might say: “Oh goodness, why is she teaching THAT way?” “Haven’t these kids heard enough of her revolting voice?”

OK- so I made him a HIM and a HAMSTER. I don’t know much about that, but the story does have a lot to do with my classroom and I DO know a lot about that. My character IS human like with some restrictions (aka, living in a cage). And, I think it’s believable. This hamster could represent the character of one of my students. Overall, I feel I followed the guidelines for creating a character.

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Midwinter Romp

Oscar has only played in snow twice; the first was when we was only a pup. He walked in circles licking, tongue slipping in and out of his mouth at furious speed, trying to lap up all of the crystal whites.

The second was yesterday. His reaction was just as immature as the first. I let himsprinkled-oscar off the leash and he went bounding like a bunny into the woods. He dug his nose down in those four inches and plowed ahead. When he’d look up, nose covered his snout like sugar powder sprinkled on Christmas cookies.

I bounded after him. After all, it was my first snowfall in a whole year too! I followed him deeper into the woods, father than I’ve ever gone. I emerged into what looked like a snowboarders dream. Smooth, pure, powdery snow stretched across a field in front of me. Small moguls formed on my right. Tall, bare trees stood on my left. Oscar went racing into the open middle.

We romped for some time. I threw snowballs up for Oscar. He jumped up to catch them and crunched them in half. He rolled around on his back and I belly rubbed him. He leaped moguls while I shot some pics. me-and-osc

Eventually, after both he and I were slightly worn out, we headed home. But when we arrived at our door, I noticed Oscar did not leave much snow back in snowboard land. It attached to his fur and clumped up between his toes. We spend a good deal of time in the garage drying him off and de-snowing him.

Frolicking with the pup. What a wonderful midwinter snow day treat!

oscar-roll

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Snow Day on Inauguration Day!

What luck! It’s snowing AND it’s Inauguration Day! And not just any Inauguration Day. Today, our country will make history by installing its first Black President.

I know I will cry. I get sappy about momentous events. A good chunk of my tears will reflect my pride in this nation. How thrilled I am that we the people looked past what’s best for ourselves, and voted for what’s best for our country as a whole on Election Day.

I’d love for all races to run out into the streets at noon and start hugging each other; I think that’s the fairytale writer in me. I know that’s not how it will happen. But I hope after four years in office, we will feel more bonded to those of a skin color not our own. I can’t wait to see the wonderful things in store for our nation over the next 1,400ish tomorrows.

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Milkshakes Take Me Back

I remember the cold, silver tumbler the most

and being confused that you had to add chocolate syrup to a vanilla shake

and standing at Nana’s kitchen counter, Uncle Kevin scooping the ice cream from the container because I wasn’t strong enough (or patient enough to let it melt)

and adding too much milk that painted the walls and cabinets when I clicked on the switch

and sneaking in more chocolate syrup.

Today, when I order a milkshake at The Loop and watch them make it, it takes me back

to painting the kitchen milk white

to sucking the shake from the the cold, silver tumbler

to special moments with Nana and Uncle Kevin.

Milkshakes help me remember the things I miss about being a child

the people who have passed that loved me so much

the special moments I am sure to share with my own family.

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