For some reason I can add sidebars, but not new posts. Please check back later. I have been working on a variety of things including switching my blog soon from this one, which was set up with my now-defunct West Wisconsin Telcom account. I hope to have my new blog through Gmail up soon. I will provide a link and announcement when I've got everything straight. 7/2/11

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Cartoon captions: ongoing monthly contests

I was raised in a family that subscribed to The New Yorker. I’d gotten out of the habit of reading it until a friend mentioned it in reference to the current cartoon caption contest. Here’s the link to the magazine It will take you a while to scroll down to the link for the cartoon contest because, of course, you’ll have to read all the cartoons and articles on the way!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Recently read: Arnaldo Correa’s Cold Havana Ground

I’ve been on a kick lately of reading Cuban writers. They offer a glimpse into a world that seems to me to be frozen in time, yet the people have still worked and laughed and written and dreamed. This novel depicts through a masterful plot and in-depth characters the complex melding of religions and ethnic groups in Cuba. Correa describes the Cuban-Chinese community and their secret societies, as well as the mysteries and rites of the Regla de Osha also known as Santeria, which is an old religion rooted in Western Africa. We are able to participate in a meeting of the Abakua Secret Society, be inside the Palero (priest), and wander the decaying grounds of old mansions whose owners prospered under Batista. I’m going to track down more of Correa’s books to read more about this fascinating world that exists in our midst.

Monday, October 27, 2008

The Great October Tradition

Images from

All the intricacies of the season are explained at this site devoted to pumpkin carving: A great way to satisfy your artistic urges, plus then you can roast the seeds and satisfy your hunger!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Today is . . .

Photo of pumpkin patch in Western Wisconsin by Alan Clare.

Today is . . . muted magenta with dew beaded on velvet surfaces, the scent of earth and wood, green tea and peppers, chill breezes and fading leaves, movement in vines and the sound of light saxophones mourning the early dusk.

See September 21, 2008 for the genesis of my “today is . . . ” postings.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Recently read: Henning Mankell’s Before the Frost

I love Mankell’s Kurt Wallander series. In this, Wallander’s daughter, Linda, has just completed police training and is waiting for her new job with the Skane police force to begin. In the meantime, she’s back living with her father until her new apartment is ready, and she just can’t keep away from police business. Especially when her friends are involved. Linda has flitted in and out of earlier books and adds a nice dimension to this one, as we get to see Wallander through her eyes. As usual, this Swedish police procedural is well-written, griping, complex and carries the reader along through the mud and stones of the south coast of Sweden. We dip into Copenhagen as we follow a series of attacks on animals, and then murdered women start joining the ranks of dead birds and pets. To find the people responsible takes us into the past and around the world and back again.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Michael Perry--our favorite local writer

In Western Wisconsin, Michael Perry is our literary hero. If you haven't ever heard him speak, you're in for a treat. On Wednesday, October 29, he'll be reading from one of his earlier books, Population: 485, at the Memorial Student Center on the campus of UW-Stout in Menomonie, Wisconsin. The event will begin at 7 p.m. in the Terrace on the upper level of the Center. If you can't make it, then you can get some good laughs on his web site and his public television "Clodhopper Reports" at

Friday, October 17, 2008

Seeing the world through other eyes

Sail somewhere new today--on the Internet, in your imagination, via a book, or in actuality.

I enjoy learning what other people think, how they see the world, and what they do. I think being open to other people, other cultures, and other ideas is especially important in today's world no matter where you live. Writers by nature are curious, so I love to visit other writers’ blogs and sites and read their poems, stories, articles, postings, and thoughts. Here are some places I’ve been traveling to lately:

Naval Langa lives in India and has a wide variety of blogs ranging from fiction to news commentaries to Bollywood. See for short stories and book reviews.

John Guzlowski lives in Virginia and writes about a host of things. He has chronicled in verse his parents as they journeyed from a Nazi labor camp to Chicago. Their story is in his book Lightening and Ashes. See

Bathsheba Monk lives in Pennsylvania and is a teacher and a writer, and of course a blogger. See

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Write a novel in a month

Once again, the National Novel Writing Month is creeping upon us with the speed of a writer’s block. You can sign up now to spend November working on your masterpiece, and end with 50,000 words that you wouldn’t have written by December 1. Visit I didn’t take advantage of this opportunity last year, but I’m glad to see it’s still going strong. Check out Procrastination Station and, for those of you who are still young, visit the Young Writers Program.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Recently read: Beverley Nichols’ A Thatched Roof

This is another delightful gem from a writer who deserves to be read as avidly in the 21st century as he was in the 20th. As the next book in his Allways collection, this one takes us inside the 16th century cottage surrounded by the gardens we watched grow in the first book, Down the Garden Path. In this one, we can stand in awestruck wonder as the secret niche and its contents—lost for centuries—are revealed. We wait as patiently as Nichols does for the inspiration on what the Garden Room wanted for color and flooring and wall covering—we don’t want him to make the room “arty” any more than he wanted to do so. We meet Whoops, a prince among dogs (second only to my own prince, Sharpie). Along with half the village, we get to follow the water diviner. And are glad Nichols triumphs in the matter of Mrs. M. and the tinned celery. We are there when Undine requests to “sense the atmosphere” upstairs. We are as confused as Nichols as he “wondered if this was a Tudor way of saying she would like to wash her hands.” But up we go, sensing the atmosphere and to our surprise, there IS something in a forgotten old cupboard. And finally, we learn all about thatching in the authentic manner and watch with Nichols as his new roof is lovingly created. I hate to see each book end.

Monday, October 13, 2008

A new class means it’s time for a new student blog

I had such a good time using blogs last year in my classes. This fall the only class I was teaching was Speech, and although I thought and thought, I just couldn’t see where blogging would be a component of a speech class. With the start of a new quarter and a new class, I have another opportunity. I’ve set up a blog for my Interpersonal Relations class—check it out at

The same week I created my current class blog, I also received a wonderful email from a teacher who had contacted me this summer. She had asked for my input about blogging in the classroom and we emailed back and forth. Here is her email: “I just wanted to check in and thank you for your helpful tips on students' blogging. I did try it this semester and the results have been phenomenal. I use it mostly to have the students react to the assigned readings and they feel very comfortable doing it like this....bottom line, they actually do it. In prior years when I asked students to keep a journal, nothing actually happened! So hooray.”

I love it!

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Today is . . .

Today is . . . green, balanced on a fine edge, waiting to transition and grow to the next level, wandering like ivy, creeping into unexpected places, silent and verdant, creating life and leaves and the scent of growing things.

See September 21, 2008 for the genesis of my “today is . . . ” postings.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Recently read: Nevada Barr’s Liberty Falling

A friend told me about Barr’s thrillers about U.S. Park Service ranger Anna Pigeon. The books are well-written, place Pigeon in a variety of locations (all federal parks), and keep your attention. Pigeon is staying at the rangers’ residence on Liberty Island to be close to her hospitalized sister. Strange happenings and death are plaguing the site, and Anna finds herself splitting her time between her sister’s bedside and the crumbling ruins of the unrestored area of Ellis Island. One of the great things about Barr’s books is the information provided. . In this one, we get to explore the public and back areas of Ellis Island and Liberty Island: the history, the buildings, the monuments, and their part in the American Dream.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Writing and publishing children’s books

Image from Dover at

The UW-Eau Claire Continuing Education program is offering a one-day introductory workshop on writing stories for children. It will be on Saturday, November 1, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. A lot of people ask me about children’s books, and several of my Writers’ Guild members are working on them, but this is one field of writing that I personally know little about. If you are in this part of the country, this workshop is an excellent opportunity if you have been thinking about writing for children. For more information, call (715) 836-3636, toll free 1-866-893-2423, or visit the website at:

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Julie Cameron and the Ta Dah! List

Earlier this summer as I began Cameron’s The Artist’s Way, I also started reading her book, The Writing Diet: Write Yourself Right-Size. This is a wonderful book no matter what your weight. Cameron leads you on a journey of self-exploration, with many suggestions not only for fitness, but for other life challenges. One I particularly liked was her suggestion to toss your To Do Lists and instead do Ta Dah! Lists. I immediately followed her advice, adding a Ta Dah! List to my daily Field Report (another one of her suggestions from this book). Now, I don’t worry about what I have to do when I get up in the morning. Instead, I celebrate each accomplishment as I complete it. And guess what, I’m getting much more done now. I’m even actually finding myself tackling things that have been on yellowing old To Do Lists for years—I just seem to find the perfect time to handle things now. The other great thing about the book is the cover design. Is that creative design or what?

Sunday, October 5, 2008

October is Book Festival time in Wisconsin

Click on the image to enlarge the information on the Book Festival
The Wisconsin Humanities Council sponsors the annual Book Festival each October. This year the Festival runs from October 15 through 19 in Madison, and in the Chippewa Valley, from 16 through 19. For information, see

Friday, October 3, 2008

Recently read: Bill James’ The Girl with the Long Back

This British police procedural has its dark side. Harpur & Iles not only have to battle criminals, but also their very strange Chief of Police, and the bizarre drug lords that control the area (I particularly get a kick out of Panicking Ralph). I like James’ books and have read as many as I could find. He isn’t as popular as some of the other contemporary British detective writers and I’m not sure why. In this one, maverick Harpur has sent a new woman constable to infiltrate a drug gang. She is undercover, and that means only Harpur knows who she is and what she’s doing. Iles gets involved, Chief Lane gets even more irritable, Ralph panics, and the reader is breathless from the suspense as the drug scene goes into full battle mode.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

“Get Organized” week

October 5 through 11 is National Get Organized Week. The National Association of Professional Organizers has declared it to be the time to finally get things tidied up and sorted out. Visit to take the Get Organized Quiz or read the 12 tips to organize your small business by Jane Applegate. I particularly like her suggestion to schedule “in days” and “out days.” I am not a member of this association—they would not want me! However, I do intend, someday, to be a well-organized, clutter-free person in my professional and personal lives. Someday has just not yet come . . .