hand work

Got home from Tennessee travels late Friday night -- shout outs to my good friend Scot Smith, his colleagues, and all 7th graders who are working on a truly amazing Countdown project at Robertsville Middle School in Oak Ridge.

You'll be hearing more about this as we catalogue and archive and write up this project. How do we teach Countdown in the classroom? How does it reach into every corner of the new, national, Common Core standards? Stay tuned.

Thank yous as well to Jo Wilson and her team at Eaton Elementary in Lenoir City for an amazing hour with 3rd and 4th graders who have read the Aurora County trilogy and Freedom Summer, and to all teachers and students at Grandview School in Jonesborough, Tennessee, for a memorable teacher workshop day and another day with students in grades PRE-K through EIGHT. Whatta stretch. And it was good.
 Got my hair cut yesterday. Talked with Vincent about working with our hands. I talk about this a lot lately. It's part of what I'm trying to put into words in my new novel, book two of the sixties trilogy, and into a new project I'm cooking up. Again, stay tuned. :>
I made a commitment this year to work more with my hands. I talk about it all the time in schools. I preach about it, actually, about how we have to use our notebooks (Totally paperless classrooms? Aiiieeeee! At our peril!), and keep teaching handwriting and cursive and drawing and doodling and pasting and cutting and taping and knitting and cooking and gardening and sweeping and painting...
I finished Abby's Tiramisu late yesterday afternoon. (Ravelry notes here.) As I wove the ribbon through the border spaces and watched the whole thing come together, finally, I was filled with the delight of "I made this! With my own two hands! And it's beautiful!" I love that feeling. The beauty lies in the process, in the effort, and also in the finishing.

It's like that with writing as well. I've been teaching lots of teachers this spring, and that's what we've been working with -- process, effort, finishing. This is the investment.
Today I'm making this soup. I'm cooking the rice now -- the whole house smells earthy on this cool spring morning. I'll chop the onion and zest the lemons and leave out the mint, and soon we'll have a lovely soup and bread for our midday meal, before I drive to Valdosta this afternoon... to work with teachers again on Monday.

When I return, I'll go back to the project I started last week: moving my office back into its rightful place -- in the living/dining room of this old house -- and making the bedroom a bedroom instead of my office. I tried it for a year. It didn't work. And I don't need a dining room the way I need a large office space.

In preparing to move all this furniture once again, I washed by hand, in hot soapy water, every glass in the red hutch. I felt the ridges and admired the patterns and selected out the chipped ones -- what to do with them? Most are heirlooms, many are my mother's. My mother, who did so much hand work.
 Hand work. I'm thinking a lot about it, as I fashion this new writer's life, in this new writing year. I made a decision at Thanksgiving, and now, six months later, I'm revisiting my progress. I'll have more to share with you about how I'm changing my writing life, as soon as I have adequate words.
 I'm trying on those decisions, and it feels good.