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How to write memoir with Marion Roach Smith, author and teacher
December, 6 2016
White House Christmas Tree TopplesAccording to the Old Farmer’s Almanac, it was on this day in 1970 that the White House Christmas tree fell over. Well, this happened to me when I was a kid, right in our living room in Little Neck, New York. That incident is on my to-do list for a personal essay. That is, just as soon as I figure out what it is about.
December, 9 2016
Clarence Birdseye BornIt was on this day in 1886 that Clarence Birdseye was born. You know Birdseye. Among other things, he was the first to market frozen peas. I frequently write about food, and have an entire category devoted to food memoir on my blog. Feast your eyes on that for some inspiration.
December, 13 2016
The Full Cold MoonDecember’s Full Moon is known either as the FULL BEAVER MOON or the FULL COLD MOON. This year, accordig to the Old Farmer’s Almanac, it’s a beaver year. We take our full moon names from the Native American tradition. Full moons shine on us all. How do you make an event we all experience your very own tale? Don’t let it get too big. Here’s a post that might help you with that.
December, 16 2016
The Birth of Margaret MeadOn this day in 1901 was the birth of Margaret Mead, the most renowned anthropologist of all time. Margaret made anthropology something we were all interested in by teaching generations of Americans about the value of looking carefully and openly at other cultures to better understand the complexities of being human. Scientist, explorer, writer, and teacher, Mead, who worked in the Department of Anthropology at the American Museum of Natural History from 1926 until her death in 1978. Publishing 44 books and more than 1,000 articles, she was one of the most quotable people of the 20th century, saying things like “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” And, of course, “Every time we liberate a woman, we liberate a man.” You gotta love her.
December, 19 2016
Beware the Pogonip!Kind of funny headline on this day, isn’t it? But that’s what is says today in The Old Farmer’s Almanac, and for good reason. Pogonip is an English adaptation of the Shoshone word meaning “cloud,” specifically a dense winter fog containing frozen particles that forms in deep mountain valleys in Western United States. In its harshest definition it means “white death;” so thick you can’t even see your hand; go out in it and you’ll be lost in seconds; if it lingers you’ll die of starvation or exposure; breathing pogonip is believed to damage your lungs, as recorded in the writing of Jack London who described Pogonip which happened to a main character of his, killing him. Rare, though worth fearing, beware the Pogonip, indeed.
December, 21 2016
The Winter SolsticeToday is the winter solstice, on which the Earth’s axial tilt is farthest away from the sun, making this the onset of winter up north. And while you can’t really see the axis and its tilt from where you are, what you will see is that this is the shortest day of the year, or the longest night, depending on which way you choose to view it. How to personalize something that happens to us all? Look for universal themes.
The Winter SolsticeToday is the winter solstice. This day is marked by the fact that the Earth’s axial tilt is farthest away from the sun, and while that reality is only so for an instant, we think of this as the onset of winter. Winter will last until the vernal equinox, March 20, 2012 that day when day and night are equal in length. And while you can’t really see the axis and its tilt from where you are, what you will see is that this is the shortest day of the year, or the longest night, depending on which way you choose to view it. The name “winter” comes from a Germanic term meaning “time of water” and actually refers to seasonal precipitation. Winter Solstice has been celebrated in cultures the world over for thousands of years, and many of us continue to celebrate this twice-a year event. How? I celebrate the beginning of winter by getting out in it and having a look around. A great time to see things with the leaves off the trees, you never know what you might discover.
December, 29 2016
Owls Mating NowYou read that right. And if you’ve heard some hooting, that’s why. The Great Horned Owl and the Great Gray Owl are starting a brood. Owls don’t migrate, allowing them to breed now and into the early months of the year, while most other bird species don’t mate until spring. Owls have distinctly different calls. The hoot owl hoots; the short-eared owl has a sneezy bark; the barn owl, a shrill snore, all in the name of love. Humor is serious business. Maybe this will inspire you.
December, 30 2016
Birds Do it, Bees Do it.Great Horned Owls and the Great Gray Owls are starting a brood. Owls don’t migrate, which allows them to breed in the early months of the year, while most other bird species don’t mate until spring. It’s mating time when you hear a hooting, but what I love is that the hoots, owl-to-owl are quite different. The short-eared owl, has what the guide refers to as an emphatic sneezy bark; the barn owl has a shrill rasp or snore, long eareds give us two longs hoots, great horned are known for their 5 or 6 resonant hoots, spotted owls give us three, barred in groups of four, grey is a deep single whooo hoo hoo or a single shoooo, while the snowy is mostly silent, and, get this, the flammulated owl of the west and southwest is what my bird guide calls ventriloquial, as in a ventriloquist.