Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Moon connections and the Peace Corps

This is the view of the beginning of the "Blood Moon" super lunar eclipse on Sunday over our back fence.

We live on the Navajo Reservation in Chinle Arizona.  Clear skies, unobstructed horizon.

Our youngest son Jonathan is in Paraguay with the Peace Corps.  He happened to be on What's App.  We shot him a photo, which reminded him about the eclipse.

He went outside to watch the sky and see the moon disappear into a pink haze.  Two different worlds, same moon.  We watched virtually together.

I clicked photos frustrated that I could never capture the beauty knowing there would be thousands of photos on social media all better than mine.  Tried to remind myself to be in the moment and not experience it through the lens.

Meanwhile our daughter in Cincinnati quips on another app, "the gods have forsaken us!"

In typical Jonathan fashion we get a brief virtual history lesson from his part of the world,  " I think a Mayan or Aztec chief saw a lunar eclipse in his dream.  He took it as an omen.  Shortly thereafter the Spanish arrived.  Is this eclipse an omen of my arrival in Paraguay? "

This is the way our family rolls.

Another sibling in DC wants to know if Jonathan is alive or has his heart been sacrificed to the blood moon.

I am beginning to wonder if this virtual togetherness is enhancing the experience or detracting from it.  But we are spread all over the world and we are experiencing a significant moment together.  Different worlds, same moon...sharing.

I couldn't help remembering when Steve and I had just arrived in Malawi, Africa more than 30 years ago.  We too were in the Peace Corps.  I was a new mother.  I was away from home and family.  I was homesick in a world so very far away and so very different from home.

I held Peter in my arms and looked at the full moon(no eclipse that night) and took comfort that my family could see the same moon.  No virtual sharing then.  It took at least two months for mail to go out and return with a response.  If I had written home that night, by the time I received a response I would have been settled into life and the adventure, on to new concerns, new joys, new news.

Forgive my motherly sentimentality here.  But I could not help thinking as the moon turned a gray-pink:  Different worlds, different means of communication.  Connecting us.   Always changing.

The moon?  May change phases but it is the same moon connecting us in some small way.  We were lucky to share the moment.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Peace Corps Proud.

This week we sent our youngest off to the Peace Corps in Paraguay.

The apple doesn't fall far from the tree!  He came by this choice honestly. 

Steve and I were Peace Corps volunteers in Malawi more than a few years ago. 

Jonathan's brother, Christopher and sister-in-law, Laurie returned from the Peace Corps in Mozambique two years ago.

But wait!  His cousin, Kayla was in Panama for 2 years with the Peace Corps and her mom, Robyn was in the Peace Corps before her.

So this weekend found us celebrating.  Thanks to friends and family who were with us for the send-off party.  Where we tried some recipes from Paraguay.

This cookie cake with chocolate and caramel was a hit.

But what is a party without the traditional?

And the chance to share some mate...an traditional infused tea from Paraguay. 

So the party is over and Jonathan is on his way to a new adventure. 

We are proud that Jonathan will offer his skills and knowledge to a little part of the world as a volunteer in the environmental studies program in Paraguay.

But mostly we know that he will likely gain more than he gives and life will never be quite the same after the Peace Corps. 

If you want to follow his adventures check out his blog here:


Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Exciting News!

I am honored to have been invited to be a judge for the Young Muslim Writers Awards.   

The young writers are age five to sixteen.  The mission of the organization based in the UK is to "raise standards of child literacy and creative writing.  To enable young people to be confident communicators to help build a vibrant society.

The top five entries for both Poetry and Short Stories will be chosen for the award. They will be published in the anthology of the Young Muslim Writers Awards. 

I look forward to reading the shortlisted entries and helping to chose the finalists.  Stay tuned!

And have a look at the website.   https://ymwa.org.uk/about/

Thursday, August 20, 2015

My Name is Sangoel and Americanah

My Little Sangoel has been paired with Americanah by Chimamanda Ngoci Adiche for the Greenwich Connecticut Read Together Celebration this October.  

WOW!  What an honor for Sangoel, for me.

I might even get to go to Greenwich.  Not far from where I grew up, another connection.  stay tuned to this blog for more about that.

Just when an author least expects it her books make new friends and connections in unexpected places.

See more about Americanah, a story about race, immigration and identity and the Greenwich reading Celebration here:


And a big shout out to Greenwich teachers, librarians, parents and community for promoting READING!

Sunday, August 16, 2015

The Tale of a Beach Tail

Thirty years ago my husband, Steve and I were at the beach in New England with our son Peter who was five.  We told him he could play in the sand but he could not go in the water without one of us.

We settled back on the beach blanket to watch him build castles and throw rocks into the ocean.  And we saw the exact moment when he looked back to find us and then the sudden moment when he panicked and began running wildly down the beach.  From his vantage point all the umbrellas and towels and blankets must have looked the same.  Steve jumped up and ran down the beach to "rescue" Peter.

So 25 years later I had a story idea, something about a child who finds his way home or back on the trail by being observant.  The original draft took place in the woods but it wasn't working.

Then I remembered Peter on the beach.  The rest is history.  Except any writer knows it is not that easy.  It took some time.

And now Peter has a son who is five.  We spent some time at the beach recently.
This beach was in Hawaii.   Back at the house we took a break from sand and sun and ocean and I read A Beach Tail to my grandson, Ethan.  What a joy to share this tale inspired by his dad to my grandchild.

But then something else happened.  That afternoon back at the beach I gave Ethan a stick and suggested he write his name.

He did and then...

He drew a lion.   (A nod here to Floyd Cooper)

 And then he drew a tail!
He followed it back to his lion.

Later he read A Beach Tail again.

An unexpected pleasure for this Grandma who had not carried this tale so far when she first wrote the book.  An author never knows whose hands her books will end up in and what they will inspire.  What a journey we take when we begin on a fresh page for a new tale..

And what pleasure!

Monday, June 29, 2015

A Beach Tail and Four Feet Two Sandals Travel to Wisconsin!

I went too.

Thanks to the Wisconsin International Outreach Consortium.

Two great events.  A workshop for teachers,  “Exploring Global Stories Locally: Migration Histories, Children’s Literature, and Wisconsin Experiences”

And Story Hour with some jellyfish inspired by A Beach Tail.

Here's a shout out to Wisconsin!  Doing great work for children, literature, teachers and immigrants and more.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Galimoto: 25 Years of Creative Sharing!

From this to that:

Found wire recycled into
this:  sharing, working together, imagination, creativity, ingenuity and perseverance.