Honoring Life’s Sweetest Moments

6 Jun

What a warm greeting I received every time I walked into the Memory Connections program at Hope Lutheran Church to write with a collection of wonderful individuals—Bobby, Dolores, Elizabeth, Helen, Jim, Joyce, Larry, Marge, Nick, Pat, Rebecca, Ron, and Suzette.

Such laughter and camaraderie filled the room, which was always decorated for the season—Mardi Gras, St. Patrick’s Day, or Valentine’s Day.

We connected with each other through the history of our names, favorite seasons, and the sharing of special keepsakes. My famous chocolate chip cookies prompted stories about the writers’ favorite foods. I was touched to see these writers supported one other and embrace me. What an honor to spend time with these Memory Connections writers!

Terri Schexnayder
Badgerdog Teaching Artist

Things That Make Me Smile

Laughing with friends, old and new.
Window shopping on Anderson Lane,
looking at beautiful furniture in Louis Shanks,
at Karavel for shoes on sale,
looking in Terra Toys at the Steiff animals
behind the locked cabinets.

Finding something I like and going back
a few days later to buy it (if it’s still there!).
I could spend all day just looking at things
and not having to buy anything.
Talking to the clerks at familiar stores,
looking at James Avery jewelry, especially the new items.

Running into friends from the past at Terra Toys or James Avery.
Most of the clerks know me from many years past.

Helen Altobello

Candy Kisses

My favorite treat was always chocolate. To be specific, candy kisses. Fast forward to when I was married, and my husband and I would leave a candy kiss for the other to say, “I love you.”

Years later, when Jenna was finally home from the hospital, she had a feeding tube for the longest time. We wanted to wean her off it, so, we first tried ice cream.

“Cold, scary,” she would say. We then tried a candy kiss to melt in her mouth. Remember, she didn’t understand chewing, since she always had the feeding tube.

The candy kisses were a hit! She would confiscate them from the big jar where we hid them. She would look around to see if she would get caught, and then stuff the chocolates into her Oshkosh overalls. Jenna would also hide them throughout the house for snacks later. Many years later, we would find the candy kisses stuck in the bookcase or in a jar. (Okay, I wasn’t the best housekeeper!)

Joyce Beversdorff

Daddy’s Tractor

This scene reminds me of my Daddy’s tractor. There are even pictures of me in diapers with my hands on the steering wheel as if I were driving it. I had eye surgery and was wearing an eye patch. I remember thinking I was sneaking this patch off and sticking it on my dad’s arm (like he wouldn’t know I had taken it off!)

I remember how hard the winters were on our crops. Summertime was our busy time on the farm. We farmed watermelons and all kinds of crops. My dad would work all day from early in the morning until almost night tilling the land. Such good memories of my dad before he got sicker and had to do just odd jobs. He was barrel-chested and had big muscled arms. I just always felt safe.

I remember once I got into a bunch of my mom’s sewing pins and had them in my mouth. My mom freaked out and ran into the field where my dad was on the tractor. He patiently picked them all out. Crisis averted!

I wish we had lived in such an area as pictured here.

Joyce Beversdorff

Life Preserver

I notice the life preserver that says, “Welcome Aboard” over the cross and under the netting, which encompasses a starfish. Jesus is my life preserver and He welcomed me back here after some time away from the Memory Connections program. A small thing, but it was nice to be welcomed aboard. May many people notice those words when they come into this room.

Suzette Dziuk

My Favorite Things

I like a fireplace with a fire roaring in it.
I like a baby to hold and cuddle and talk to.
I like books that make me feel involved.
I like God, who shares His presence with me
and makes me feel loved.

I like my children who are my family.
I like a piano that I can play and enjoy.
I like food when I am hungry—hot, nourishing food.
I like hot coffee when I get up in the morning.
I like friends to sit and talk with.

Suzette Dziuk

Bluebonnets

When I see bluebonnets growing in a field among rocks and other blooming plants, I see early Texas. I wonder what it was like years ago when the Indians lived upon the ground and my forbearers had not yet arrived.

I have studied history and know people think history is learned from books, but sometimes I can see Texas and feel an empathy with the Indians—whatever men, women, and children lived here decades or centurie, ago.

In this picture, bluebonnets are seen thriving among rocks and soil, and presumably creatures and earlier human beings. I see Texas before my family on my father’s side came to Texas after losing the Civil War, and, on my mother’s side, being taken on the ship and brought to the Texas shores.

Elizabeth C. Flynn

Miss Bessie

I spent a lot of time with my grandmother—Miss Bessie, they called her. My family was distressed when I was very young because of suicide, a heart attack, so I loved going up the street by myself to Miss Bessie’s fine house. I realize now that she had a place for everything. It was easy for a child to know what to get into and whatnotto touch.

There was a small flowered china bowl with a lid on it where I could always find gum, or sometimes hard candy. My grandmother and I would go outside and watch the sky, the sunset, the stars, which meant it was time to go. Now, I recall: “Star Light, Star Bright. I wish, I wish, I wish I might have the wish I wish tonight.”

Elizabeth C. Flynn

My Name

I was given the name Lawrence Sherman Graham in memory of my grandfather, Lawrence Yates Sherman. But I adapted it to Larry Graham to simplify and distinguish it from my grandfather’s, and from my father, Marion Webster Graham, and my mother, Mary Virginia Sherman. Throughout my life, I have preferred making it simply Larry Graham.

Larry Graham

Cornmeal Pancakes

My mother-in-law from Georgia made delicious homemade cornmeal pancakes. I liked them because they were more substantive, with a texture true to old Southern cooking. You could also add blueberries and other fruits to the pancakes. Served for breakfast in our small down of Daytona, Florida, and then in Texas where we now live. The pancakes made me happy!

But life changed when Caroline, my twelve-year-old granddaughter, passed away. Her family did everything possible, but her cancer was out of control. Caroline was a very creative child, dreaming up things all the time. Her parents eventually divorced after her death, and my daughter Lauren is now doing well. Our family stuck together—we have a lot of “get up and go.” Throughout the years, pancakes provided good ‘ol home-cooking stability.

Larry Graham

Fifteen-Minute Haiku

Red-orange tulips on
the bookmark remind me of
flowers seen in youth.

James Hadden

Favorite Foods

I have a constellation of favorite foods. Some of them come from early childhood, like the devil’s food cake, which is my father’s prescription with fourlayers! Christmas means donuts mixed and made the night before, deep-fried and covered with confectioner’s sugar or a cinnamon-and-sugar mixture.

I recall that I didn’t like fried oysters at first, despite my family’s move to a place on a tributary of the Chesapeake Bay when I was nine. I distinctly remember my youngest brother, at age three or so, saying, “Aunt Ada, I was oyster ‘weg.’” (Weg means leg, and they wereas big and fried as a chicken leg!)

James Hadden

Traveling Alone

I’m taking a wonderful trip in the snow,
and I am celebrating the incredible view I have.
Who would’ve thought I would travel
this far away on my own!
I’ve got enough food on my back
to let me travel for a week.
I can take big pictures of the park
or I can get real close up to a flower or a leaf.

But what I want the most—
to be brave or not scared,
to travel alone with just my company.

Pat Keen

Old Blue Jeans with Holes and Well-Worn Pockets

Old blue jeans with holes and well-worn pockets.
My jeans are done for, but
I will not give them up.
They are mine and I love their softness.

Why can’t I be happy
that I have all this wonderful stuff?
All the clothes, books, CDs—
why can’t I be happy?

So, I feel real sad about
being very old and alone?
I feel real sad and have lost
the ability to be old and productive.

I want to leave.
Why can’t I be happy and productive?

Pat Keen

Along the Coastlands

On the way to the coast, we drive through the lowlands with deep green and vibrant grasses growing straight and thick in the bluest of blue waters. Maybe this is a marshland, flat and stretching to small woods in the background. The sky is as blue as the water, but lighter near the horizon, bordered by the deep green trees in the distance.

As is common in the coastlands, there are heavy clouds in the sky, some white and puffy, and others puffy and gray. It looks like it could rain soon, as some of the clouds are dark at the flat bottoms. I imagine a shower could start at any moment and send us to shelter. We park under the Spanish Oaks. Then we run and laugh as the rain begins to fall in heavy drops and soaks our clothes.

Rebecca Lowe

My Favorite Foods

Her cakes were legendary. I guess I took all those morsels of sweet for granted as my mother’s sweet tooth led her to bake delicious desserts very often. Maybe it was because I could have regular exposure to those goodies that I became a big fan of savory foods—a pot roast and its lovely carrots, potatoes and onions baked to perfection, soft with crispy edges. I craved tuna sandwiches made with kosher dills. I was a lucky and well-fed child.

Now, my favorite savory food is much easier to come by without having to spend the day in a hot kitchen. My food of choice is a Banh Mi sandwich. It probably became known in the U.S. by soldiers returning home from the Viet Nam War. It is a product of the French presence in that country—

French bread, pickled carrots and onions, sliced jalapenos, and a special mayonnaise. That, plus sliced meat or tofu, make a lovely explosion (think fireworks) of flavors.

I was in heaven when we discovered a French fusion place in Austin, Le Bleu, which serves a wonderful Banh Mi. For my birthday, we had sixteen people at the restaurant with us, all delighted by Banh Mi.

Rebecca Lowe

Life’s Path

I was a Catholic priest for a number of years—years as a parish priest, several as a student in graduate school. I eventually earned my doctorate in psychology, and worked as a priest psychologist. After some years, I decided to leave the active ministry and began to practice as a psychologist in the community. My decision to leave the priesthood was a major one—one that would affect my life in a major way.

After leaving the priesthood and practicing psychology in the community, I met a woman who I eventually married. We had one child. Later, I began to develop memory problems, and I attend this program, Memory Connections.

Ron McDermott

Pasta

It is a tradition. It makes you okay because it is always satisfying! I know when I have my pasta, whether it is five times a week or once a month, that it is the food of the family. It’s no different whether it is Sunday or Wednesday—it is tradition, a way of life. We are satisfied with our tradition no matter how or when pasta is served.

It may be a small amount because we have other items on the table, or pasta may be the main course. It is tradition, a family get-together, or a last-minute meal since you were out all day. Yes, I love roast beef, chicken, ice cream, leftovers, but I can always count on pasta to be my favorite food, another day for pasta. I can count on pasta! I might have potatoes, baked beans, or cake, but pasta delivers, no matter what other foods are on the table!

Nick Muto

Favorite Season

Early summer—brown, yellow, blue, pale green.
My favorite season is late summer, still hot,
but not scorching hot.
Its colors are brown and light brown.
I feel well, friendly, and looking forward to it.

Marge Philbrook

Spring

This picture reminds me of spring. The most beautiful part of this scene to me is the bird. It looks like it’s not too far off the ground and is closer to the ground, so it can eat something. I really enjoy watching birds, but, it can be hard sometimes because they fly away.

This bird looks like a mother, and I can imagine that her baby birds are somewhere nearby. This picture also reminds me of God’s power and how He made all the trees and birds on Earth.

Bobby Pruitt

My Dad

My dad, Robert Alan Pruitt, who recently passed, was a great Christian man, always laughing around with my mother, who is still alive. They had three kids—me and two daughters. If there was ever a person around who needed help, Christian or not, my dad was there for them. At his funeral, I sang “How Great God Is” with a friend.

Robert Alan Pruitt worked at a high school as an academic administrator for twenty-five years. From there, he traveled to China with my mom, who was also a teacher all those years. My dad had a great sense of humor. We loved to go fishing in the Gulf. The trees hung over our boat, and one time, a large eight-foot snake dropped into our boat and scared us! I shared many other stories about him at his service, such as when my dad helped me get my first job. Without him, I would have never achieved my electrical contractor’s career and the many successes that came with it, such as attending conferences across the country.

So many people showed up for Dad’s funeral services to show their respect. Remembering his grandkids around him is very special to me.

Bobby Pruitt

A Nature Scene

Straight trees
Lots of greenery
Big trees, fallen,
leaning against each other.
Big movement of water.
Cold—big time!

Water here and here,
warmer in the wooded area.
Wood and algae on the rocks.
I’ve lived in Austin, and,
there are lots of good trees.
The thing is—they are
also very beautiful.

The funky tree over here.
The water, the woods—
you don’t have to imagine.
It’s all here!

Dolores Rumpf

Favorite Food

When asked, “What is my favorite food?”
I reply, “My favorite food makes me feel good!”
“My favorite food makes me feel good!”

Dolores Rumpf

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Workshop Spotlight: Shalom Austin

18 Dec

This past fall Badgerdog partnered with the Shalom Austin Jewish Community for a six-part workshop series. Led by teaching artist Celia Bell, this workshop explored the self in relationship to the world. How do you find peace in the face of tragedy? How can you evoke narratives that moves across time? Workshop participant Laraine Lasdon explores these pertinent questions and more in her poems below.

Katelin Kelly
Badgerdog Programs Coordinator

cave

Bat

There are times when my breath is short,
I pump the bellows of my lungs, frantically
adding air to the heated sponge and calling
on the teachings of Master Nicklaus for elucidation
as to what would happen if my journey up the mountain
towards the dark cave of my destination,
would drown my soul or create a drought so
dry that the very vitality of my life—dust unto dust,
would wither and every lobe so perfect a host
for anger, love and peace,
then calm those very passions
would deny my heart its beat.

My purpose is strong, my temperament firm.
I feel a guardian protecting me from harm.
Although my soul’s defenses are weak and puny
surrounded by madness and massacres of Jews.
Yehudi, the word ricochets around the world,
reminding us we are human, Yehudi. Yehudi.
Jew means thankful.
But still I must reach the cave pushing uphill
through scrub and scabbed bush as if
forty days and forty nights must be endured,
by Pharaoh’s orders, through roiling sun,
alone, for where will help come from?

I feel an onslaught—the depths of despair
bereft for six million plus eleven to add to the roster
of people who need
our care need our grief for centuries of prejudice
with no justice, redemption, or peace.
But what about the single heart, my heart,
whose shadowed
soul craves the inky black cave.
To hang upside down
in nature’s sleep, not seeing the
funerals, pine boxes, and small bodies in white shrouds
or hearing the scrape of the shovel lift earthly mud
to lovingly begin the physical end
and begin a life of memory and pain.

I feel a slim cry, vibrating, ascending, at a pitch so high
it can only be heard by Adonai and I.
I find the God of the Caves who hears sacred prayers
from supplicants and applicants and bearers
of good luck mixed with tears.
Part bat, part human Camazotz rules his caves,
where I long to be safe in the belly of the earth,
letting go of these fears, preferring rebirth.
Bat hearts beating offering hope, dispelling dread,
emerging renewed each night, no myth of the dead.

I wish I was a bat with a millionfold community
to blot out the day, then, in total harmony,
as the day ends and all, as one,
swoop out to greet the setting sun.

Laraine Lasdon

 

woodsmoke

Woodsmoke

In London, John Ruskin roamed the 19th century streets,
hearing the clatter of horses’ hooves and the new machines.
Woodsmoke hovered in the wintry air, heavy and warm,
in the halls of Society and Parliaments’ Mall.
Appalled at the loss of beauty, art, and design,
and the disappearance of families of artisans, potters’ wood kilns
engravers of chimes, weavers and their sons,
and husbands with weighty bundles of rags
to be soaked and sifted and hung out to dry,
creating paper wove fine as linen for brotherhoods of scribes.

Ruskin wrote of the rot wrought by factories,
master carpenters become cogs, artists distressed,
the very truth of beauty disassembled by progress.

What did Ruskin mean when he wrote of his utopia as a place where men thrive?
Did he imagine a place to live or should it exist in our minds?
Is it where we craft art with our God-given hands,
or where industrial machine-tooled goods are forever banned?

A young William Morris, inspired by Ruskin’s love of the maker,
held gatherings and lectures on the grand art of Nature.
He traveled from Manchester and Lancaster, to Dover and Bath,
finding friendships and fellowships with artists who thought like he.
Edward Burne- Jones and Dante Gabriel Rossetti, who with their own hands,
pen and ink, paint and tools, created figures, plants, birds, and fruit
to circle and wandle, elegant and lithe, and drew
lasses with long tresses, a bow and silk dress,
to decorate the floral bordered pages of Chaucer and Troy,
fonts for the 53 books of the Kelmscott Press.

The golden gardens of domesticity, every thought and idea,
sailed over the sea taking root in the New World of America,
a wide land without disquiet or fear of industry,
in the monumental task to build nation and community.
In plain planked houses row upon row,
families gather for dinner at assembly line tables,
covered with cloths bright with yellow tailed swallows,
watched by wallpaper angels with white wings, halos and tallow.

Yet, there is art here, even as machines stencil nature’s design.
Braided trellises of vines stamped on millions of bolts and bales of fabric
packed high on railcars spined out to each suburb.
Sewing machines hum creating drapes with fine blooms,
the ghosts of Ruskin and Morris follow us from room to room.
The comforts of parlors past still survive
and the joy of design yet infuses our lives.

Like Ruskin and Morris, I long for connections
glowing like those perfect golden chrysanthemums on
gaily papered walls, where pewtered ornament graced every chair,
when murmurs, ideas, thoughts, and sharings
were like the hush of the thrush that stops singing for a moment,
to pluck strawberries ripe and sweet as deep conversation.
We may have lost the woodsmoke swirling from parlor fires,
warm and sparking from logs cut by hand,
wielding sharpened axe, and stacked all autumn with love.
And we may have lost coal stoves with curled legs,
cast iron pots of bubbling stews replaced by our touch on a digital oven,
our comfortable old teapot that called with a hiss
are now fine electric teapots that beep and click.

The wisp of woodsmoke has become a symbol.
The warmth of family, friends, present and remote,
has become for me, a hearth and home.
We are allowed a moment of realization:
in our own era of polarization,
when we reach out to each other it is the warmth of our hands,
the love in our souls, the family we craft for ourselves,
that curls around us like tendrils of wood smoke.

Laraine Lasdon

 

 

 

 

Badgerdog Book Crush: Hello, Universe

14 Sep

Hello, Universe

In this year’s delightful Book Crush novel, Hello, Universe, by Erin Entrada Kelly, the point of view alternates between four young protagonists (Virgil, Valencia, Kaori, and Chet) to tell a sometimes funny, sometimes poignant story of harrowing adventure involving astrology, bullying, a snake bite, a lost (and found) guinea pig, a boy trapped in a well, and a triumphant coming-together of three kids whose friendship is “meant to be.”

Our twelve Badgerdog Book Crushers were keen to share their observations and ideas about Kelly’s novel. Throughout our week of reading, discussing, writing, and art-making, we explored the book through several lenses. We read:

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  • as detectives, following the characters’ movements through their neighborhoods, then making maps of those journeys
  • as artist-poets, using scissors and glue or markers to create art and poetry from the author’s words
  • as illustrator-designers, examining how the book cover advertised the themes of the novel and intrigued readers without giving too much away, then designing our own
  • as astrologers, assigning character names as new “signs” with a list of their characteristics and even creating new constellations
  • as writers, penning the next chapter of the book, text messages between characters, or persona pieces from a pet’s perspective
  • as teacher-students, creating study aids in the guise of fun guessing games that reiterate the relationships between characters, their traits, and actions
  • as observers of our own lives, taking charge of our destinies by noting how “It doesn’t take many words to turn your life around”
  • and we read for fun, with our eyes closed, just listening, on the floor or under a table, just because we could

All in all, it has been an inspired week of creativity, crafting, self-direction, and exploration that transformed reading from what is a traditionally solitary and passive activity into one that was social, creative, and dynamic—a lesson that should stay with the members of this group for years to come. These projects reflect that feeling—that a book can be more than words on paper, that, in its pages, we can find lessons and friendship and our own way through the world.

Tracey Lander-Garrett
Badgerdog Teaching Artist

 

Daniel’s Matching Game

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Daniel Alpatov

 

Universe Entry # 3879

Protection Against Chet

When approaching a feral Chet, you want to make sure to bring a big dog. Big dogs scare Chet—tiny dogs will not suffice! Chet fears big, slobbery, beastly dogs. If you do not own a dog, a snake might work. After a bad encounter with snakes, we suspect that he fears them.

Ideal Locations

A great location to find Chet is his house. You may spy him shooting hoops in his driveway. He mainly stays on Elm Street, his habitat. He roams the street sometimes, and if you are really, really quiet, you can hear his dribbling. If you hear dribbling behind you, it’s probably Chet “The Bull” Bullens. He might be force to leave his territory and venture to purloin freely at the… supermarket! If found at the Super Saver, he might be in the chip aisle scouring for his father’s favorite chips, Doritos.

Weapons Against Chet

If Chet approaches in a fowl mood, your best weapons are your words. You could shame him about his irrational fear of dogs or that he never made a sports team. This will either anger him or make him go away.

Sylvestre Molina

 

Choose Your Own Character Adventure

Nancy Lu

 

When They Are at Virgil’s House
—an erasure poem

A spy-going
mission,

Knock on
the door.

Giggles behind her hand,

“I’m serious
he’s one of us—
psychics.”

Adele LeFlore

 

Study Guide for Hello, Universe

Lincoln Evans

 

Symbol Search & Erasure Poem

IMG_2152

Katherine Cui

 

Falling Down the Well & Other Adventures

Cynthia Cui

Cynthia Cui

 

Mapping the Story

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James Zeng

 

Valencia’s iPhone Messages

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Zachary May

 

Going Underground
—an illuminated text

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Linda Liu

 

The Hello, Universe Board Game

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Marcelo Molina

 

Hello, Characters!

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Laura Xue

 

Presentation Slideshow

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What Is It?

14 Sep

Meet high-schooler and poet, Anya Van Arnam! Anya participated in our Badgerdog Creative Writing Summer Camp at Headwaters School this summer. Her poem, featured below, offers a meditation on bird species classification and interrogates the social structures of our world. Another poem by Anya, titled “I Am Proud to Call Her My Nana,” will be published in the forthcoming edition of Emerge: Youth Voices in Ink. She will read from the anthology at the Badgerdog Young Authors Reading on October 27!

What Is It?

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it’s a spinning circle
we love to hate
we hate to love
it’s a dove’s cry
upon misty morns
in white valley landscapes
it’s a pigeon’s coo

upon no morning
for no morning exists
in a city that has no seasons

the dove and the pigeon
both are birds
both have wings
both can fly

but one perches on the highest oak
one pecks for scraps
one lives long
in its white feathered glory
one is slain in the gutter

the dove and the pigeon
both are birds
both have wings
both can fly

but one flies no more
this one once free?
this one now captured
seen by (what we call a God above)
as ugly
as dumb
lower
the pigeon is not these school house
barn house
white house
insults
that we love to hate
we hate to love

both can coo
both can squawk
both can be quiet
or run amok
and cause terror in trampling feet
yet the feet still walk in a circle

becoming a buzzing background
while the doves
argue on skyscraper mountains
about where to dispose
(not disclose!)
the pigeon carcasses

now the skyscrapers
have black foundations
painted over in titanium white
our eyes are painted blind
our ears muffled
by the buzzing
there is no quiet
only white bees
drained of honey

Anya Van Arnam

Inventing New Landscapes

7 Aug

Meet Gabriella, one of the amazing teens to attend our Teen Writing Lab at the Austin Public Library this summer. Gabriella’s short story was inspired by a lesson that explored the idea of place and invited teens to imagine their own cities, consider the rules that keep them running, and describe what makes each city unique. Seeking inspiration, Gabriella says she glanced outside the library windows and was momentarily blinded by the sun reflecting off a car window. This is when her idea for the city of Nomalli was born!

The City That Casts No Shadow

If you were to visit Nomalli, you would at once be astounded by the light. No brightness could ever compare to the glowing white city. You must wear special glasses or else fry your eyes to a crisp.

Everywhere you look, the tall, blazing buildings’ graceful yet forbearing gaze look down upon you, as if judging your every move. Strange floating discs pass by, transporting the fluorescent citizens about their business. The people are friendly once spoken to, but stare right through you, as if gazing at some faraway point of interest.

When walking in the streets, all is quiet except for the conversations of nearby people and high-pitched squeaking sounds that can only be heard when listening closely.

The road leading away from the shadowless city fades in brightness until street lamps must again be used. Night never comes in the city, only a slight dimming of the light. If only the beauty of Nomalli could be enjoyed by all, for the people of the city are blind.

Gabriella Erb
Grade 8, Austin Waldorf School

 

 

Hornsby Elementary

7 Aug

These enthusiastic writers met every Tuesday after school at Hornsby-Dunlap Elementary. We spent the first part of every workshop discussing their days. Our conversations sparked ideas and uncontrollable laughter. We quickly became a team of investigators, a close-knit group of friends, and we relied on each other for positive feedback to the stories we shared. These kids wanted to write; many times, they began writing before the lesson. While they wrote, I read them children’s poems from various anthologies. They were completely intrigued and never stopped asking questions. They were silly and serious. May their brilliant work inspire you to pick up a pen and write your own story!

Jena Kirkpatrick
Badgerdog Teaching Artist

At Nighttime

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I have two big wings that are purple and clean. When it is nighttime, I come. I touch white, shiny things that everybody has. I sneak inside little cracks so I can go inside the room. I bring a pouch of magical dust, just in case they wake up. I bring gloves and shrinking dust, so I can fit under a big, fluffy thing. I smell drool dripping from the person’s mouth. I see a room full of toys and other things. I hear snoring louder than a wolf howling, and it woke up the whole neighborhood. I taste toothpaste that is bubble-gum scented. I hope I will get through the night with nothing happening. I dream that my wings have glitter on them. I love how I collect shiny, white things, and when they fall out, you get money. When I fly back to work at 6:00am, I fly high in the sky. But when I fly high, bird poop falls on my black, glittery hair. Now I have to put on extra conditioner.

Can you guess what I am?

Ta’ Naeja Shontae Bradshaw

Family

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Family is annoying
Like a cat wanting food
Stupid like a goldfish going into a wall
Hungry like a dog fierce for food
Loud like a screaming goat
But… we still love them no matter what
My sister is like a yelling goat, but I still love her
My brother is like a wailing whale
And my baby brother, like a little monkey jumping everywhere
But I still love them
Mom and Dad are intelligent like dolphins

Legacy Davis

The Hurt

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It was when I got to the hospital; but first, let’s rewind four hours.

I was on a plane back to my state, and when we were going to our Uber I fell and my tongue was split in the middle. When we were on our way to the hospital, I was saying my lucky number: three. Then we got to the hospital, and I forgot most of it, but all I remember is that they removed my tongue from my mouth. To get it out, they had to remove most of my teeth. There were things I couldn’t do: I couldn’t taste, I couldn’t bite, and I couldn’t eat. Most of the things we had in our house were bad for me.

This year, they are making a fake tongue just for me. I will get it next week. After this, I was so freaked out to get in an Uber. From now on, we are going to have one of our family members come pick us up. It doesn’t matter if it’s five hours away or if they live far away. They will come to pick us up, all because of me. I never want to get on a plane or in an Uber ever, ever again. I don’t know when I’m going to overcome my fear of Ubers and airplanes. So now, when I want to travel, I am going to drive unless I don’t feel like driving anymore.

Allizon Estrada

The Best Day of My Life

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I went to the casino and played, but I had one more coin, so I kept it. Then I went to a farm in Austin and bought a pig. I went to bed.

The next day I took a shower and cleaned my ears with a Q-tip and went to the beach. I swam and played. I saw a clam and took it to my house.

Those two days were the best days of my life.

Joseph Martinez

Mystery Animal

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I fly at night, so mysterious,
sometimes with fright.
I spread my wings
and I’m ready to take flight!
I go only in the night,
it’s better than light.
I only sleep in the day,
not night.
I’m blind all day,
but can see clearly in the dark.
With my sharp teeth to eat,
now is the time I hate.
I have to go to sleep.
Now I hope I’m not late!

Debra Onsurez

Darkness

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silence all the laughter
everyone has gone
leave me here
let life roll along
shut out the light
I don’t wish you to see
this empty existence
now en-capturing me
close all the doors
let no one in
the person you knew
is no longer me
lock all the windows
make this my cell
the dark is my prison
my living cell
block out these sounds
let life roll along
I can still hear
but it’s not my song

Kallia Rogers

Bad Things

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What if people were flat?
What if horses could fly?
What if Woody was a horse?
What if your teeth were peanuts?
What if teeth took over the whole world?
What if your face was a spider?
What if you rode a rat across the state?
What if you did not brush your teeth in 1,000 years?
What if your tongue fell off?
All of these things would affect your life…
What would you do if you had one of these problems?

Caydence Scott

Super

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I am the violet fox
I help animals
And stop pollution
I got bit by a fox and
I’ve never been the same since
I have purple hair and a fox costume, but
Shhh! No one can know
I have a sidekick
Her name is Crimson Cat
(Don’t ask)

Dax Young

Memory Connections: Tracing Back to Our Roots

29 Jun

The sense of humor displayed among the Memory Connections writers at Bethany Lutheran Church delighted me each time I walked in the room. “Hey, I know you!” one gentleman exclaimed. “Now, what’s your name?” and he would laugh at his joke. Nature poems and memories of mouth-watering foods they enjoyed as children flowed onto the pages. One question, “Where are you from?” followed by the reading of “Child of Summer” by Lynn Worley, launched much discussion about not only the cities, states, and countries in which we were born, but who played Monopoly on Friday nights or slept on a screened-in porch. The writers shared that they were from “homemade soup and stuffed cabbage,” as well as “I am from a guitar given to me after tears and sorrow so I could play it all away.” I am humbled by the honesty and laughter that greeted me each time I joined this amazingly gifted writing group. I know you will enjoy their work as much as I did.

Terri Schexnayder
Teaching Artist

List Poem

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I’m from homemade soup and stuffed cabbage.
I’m from “be home by dark.”
I’m from Slovak ancestors.
I’m from my antique collection.
I’m from my maternal grandmother.
I’m from Youngstown, Ohio.

Jane Baran

My Sister

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I’ve always felt close to my sister. We live miles apart now, but we try to connect at least one or two times a week. She is twenty years older than I am, so I always went to her for advice or a recipe for something our Mom cooked. We are both alone now—her husband died and I am divorced—so it would be great to live with her. If we were closer in distance, we probably would. We both have four children and always catch up on them and our grandchildren. I really miss her (my brothers, too) and so I hope I get to visit them in the near future.

Jane Baran

I’m From

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I’m from tandoori chicken.
I’m from “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star.”
I’m from Indian ancestors, speaking Bengali as my language, and hearing stories from my mom.
I’m from Scrabble and Rummy.
I’m from my dad.
I’m from Bareilly, India, where my dad worked for forty years before retiring.

Mala Bhattacharya

Grandkids

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Grandkids keep me young. I get to see my younger ones on a regular basis, and my youngest grandson when he takes the bus from school on Tuesdays. We have a snack together. He enjoys my ice tea, especially since it’s sweetened, and shares part of my sandwich. We play games like Connect Four, reading, and drawing. On a nice day, he likes playing with kids from the neighborhood—soccer, chase, riding their bikes. It’s the day of the week I really look forward to.

Mala Bhattacharya

Stories from My Pen

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Between my finger and thumb, I hold this pen. I can see things I still remember as a child. My father and mother were great parents, and there were lots of siblings—three daughters and five brothers. We were loved by our parents. I remember times when my father worked long hours, and my mom took good care of us. There were so many of us, and we all knew what they did for us. To this day, I have not forgotten what they lovingly did.

We had great times on trips we took to Ohio to visit my grandparents. I remember the girls helped Mom clean the house, and the boys worked with Dad on the cars. I remember lots of things.

Sherril Cole

I’m From

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I’m from fish sticks.
I’m from “In or out!”
I’m from Irish ancestors.
I’m from Mom and Dad, plus many brothers and sisters.
I’m more like my mother.
I’m from Indiana.

Sherril Cole

Flowers in Season

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It is Spring!
Purple flowers are in bloom …
while the hint of pink is peeking through.
The bridge is covered with all kinds of vegetation—
most of all, this reminds me of walking with my husband
when the temperature is calling us!

Linda 

My Dad

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My Dad was always working and always walking through the park to get to his office. When his office closed, my cousin Bill found a position in the bank where my Dad was. What I loved about my Dad is that he once turned down an adding machine—his adding machine was his mind! I loved doing math, which was my major in high school and college. This was my Dad’s influence. Dad loved to write poetry from his own thoughts. My prayer is that I will be my Dad!

Linda 

I’m From

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I’m from ice cream on a cold night.
I’m from “Where are the A’s on the report card?”
I’m from Irish and English ancestors.
I’m from my wedding ring since fifty-three years ago.
I’m from my older sister Dorothy, since we look alike.
I’m from Mt. Vernon and Decatur, Illinois.

Helen Hartness 

My Sunday Dinner Date

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On a very cold day in December 1958, I invited a close friend, Robert, to my home for Sunday dinner. I was kind of nervous when he said, “Great!” He surprised me when he arrived carrying flowers. But he had brought them for my mother! We had a wonderful time and shared our Sunday lunches for many years. My family loved him. However, he joined the Army and died in the line of duty. His memory remains.

Helen Hartness 

My Rosary

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One of the things I carry with me is my rosary. It’s important to me because it’s a symbol of my faith and it carries memories that go back many, many years. I was raised in the year of the Great Depression of the 1900s. Times were uncertain at best. As a member of a large Catholic family with six children, I was sent to a Catholic girls’ school. My teachers were all nuns and each day, we attended church to “say the rosary.”

This time in church gave me a feeling of serenity, that someone or something was watching out for me. A feeling I did not get from my family because of the scarcity of money, jobs, etc. My parents were loving and good people, but both of them had to work, plus run a small farm to provide food for us.

Joyce 

I’m From

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I’m from homemade bread and butter made in an old-fashioned churn,
from cream skimmed from the top of a milk pail and from Wisconsin.
I’m from any song by Bing Crosby in the ‘40s and ‘50s.
I’m from German, Polish, and Irish ancestors, and beer drinking.
I’m from a family of book readers and book lovers!
I’m from a large family, and especially fond of two sisters who were kind to me.
I’m from West Allis, Wisconsin.
I lived in Seattle, Milwaukee, Chicago, Pennsylvania, California, and Austin and Houston, Texas.

Joyce 

My Grandmother

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My father’s mother and I are probably more alike than not. We are both short. She did nothing besides chain smoke and eat and take the kids to perform—you know, dance and sing with percussion. She must have talked a lot to herself and everyone else. I was always quiet, I think, playing piano and dancing and singing to myself.

I really don’t know much about Grandmammy. She must have inspired everyone around her. Let’s face it. She was the talented one who allowed everyone else to entertain her.

Jennifer Martinec

I’m From

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I’m from perch on Fridays and goo on Wednesdays.
I’m from playing on Friday nights.
I’m from German-Czech ancestors.
I’m from Pink Floyd songs and visits to Europe.
I’m from Grandmammy, my father’s mother.
I’m from Ft. Bragg, North Carolina, Mineral Wells and Dime Box, Texas, New York City, and Heidelberg and Schwetzingen, Germany

Jennifer Martinec

My Bible

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My Bible is important to me because I believe it is the number one book of wisdom. I have several Bibles, and I refer to different ones at different times, depending on the need of the moment. They are of several shapes and sizes. Two are quite large at 8” X 10” and two will fit in my purse easily. I carry a small one to church on Sunday, and use it while the minister is teaching from a specific Bible passage. He teaches about that Scripture passage during the Sunday morning sermon. Then, he expounds on the wisdom and appreciation of the Bible. Following the sermon, we are dismissed to gather into small groups, where the Bible Scriptures are taught with discussion and questions.

Gloria Shelton

The Spectacular Sunrise

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Standing inside my daughter and son-in-law’s house, I can go to any room and view the spectacular sunrise. It’s exhilarating to breathe in the hill country air and smell the fragrant flowers. The reddish, purple clouds cast a hue on the hills and flowers that bring even more vibrant colors.

Gloria Shelton

I’m From

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I’m from fried foods and homemade food, pastries, and desserts.
I’m from my parents listening to old music.
I’m from Dutch and German ancestors.
I’m from my wedding ring and my family.
I’m from, and look like, my dad and Uncle James.
I’m from Norfolk, Nebraska.

BJ 

Love for Pizza

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I love the smell of fresh pizza.
I love the fresh, doughy crust.
I love the feel of a slice of pizza in my hand.
I love the taste of fresh pizza with toppings I like—
pepperoni, Canadian bacon, olives, tomato sauce—
and, don’t forget the peppers!

I love the lingering taste in my mouth.
I love a great pizza!
(Did I mention I love pizza?)

BJ 

Lobster Tails

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About fifty-six years ago, when I was taking my girlfriend (now my wife) out, the car stopped. No, it wasn’t that I was out of gas! A guy came along and helped us in the middle of the night. He took us back to his restaurant where he treated us to lobster tails and steak. It wasn’t a poor community, but you certainly didn’t buy lobster tails.

My wife Marilyn and I were married for fifty-five years on May 25, 2018, and are taking a three-day trip to San Antonio. When I reflect back to that time so long ago in Madison, Wisconsin, when a stranger helped us, I know it was a very different time, where you didn’t worry if your car broke down. There would be someone who would always stop and help you.

Brad Bradley 

A Big Red Apple

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There once was a big red apple hanging in a tree. I could see it from my back room window. I knew the tree was tall, and I was so small. I would reach out to the red apple before I had to go to bed. Then, one night, I fell asleep and had a nightmare! I awoke in the morning and looked out the window.

The apple was gone. My dream was dashed!

I went to breakfast. There on my plate was the big red apple. What a surprise my mom gave me again. What a mom!

Nelson

I’m From

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I’m from candy and sugar and cavities sometimes.
I’m from all over the place.
I’m from a guitar given to me after tears and sorrow,
so I could play it all away.
I am from my younger sister Jo.
I’m from Houston, Texas.

Starr D. Hawkins

Tiny Things of Nature

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My home is on Dorilla Road in Austin. Yesterday, I walked and turned and turned. I love tiny things, and as I was walking, I saw these miniature flowers, yellow and white, the cutest things! I showed them to my husband, who said, “Starr, that’s illegal to pick those!” When I see them, I remember picking them as a little girl.

April is my favorite month—my sister Jo’s birthday. She died of heart disease when she was only forty-four, and all she ever wanted was children. She had five wonderful children.

Starr D. Hawkins