Creativity. Freedom. Discovery.  Repeat. Festival of Words 2022.

Remember that bad start to the day of Festival of Words?

It gets better.

Much.

Creativity. Freedom. Discovery.  Repeat.

Such was the mantra you would see occurring at the December 3rd Festival of Words held at St. Georges Technical High School in Middletown in Middletown, Delaware.  Despite the chilly onset of a rainy morning to greet all 60+ registered attendees, the glow of literary excitement was in every corner of the halls as you entered.  Authors, artists, students, librarians, and faculty all became intertwined in the excitement of a reading free for all that represented the return of Festival of Words through the hiatus that COVID had brought to many literary events.

Heavyweight representation in the form of UDLIBSearch, DLA, DE Public Libraries, SORA, DASL, came bearing the gifts of what any bibliophile would look for – opportunities, services tied to literacy, activities, reading supplies, and books represented in full force.

Artistry in the form of bracelets for purchase that supported individual countries, a workshop creating letters from metal mediums, practicing monologues, to designing buttons represent attendee’s own personal addictions to reading provided the wide range of where literacy could be found.  Keynote author Yamile Saied Mendez empowered the excitement of the ongoing World Cup with women in futball and providing a look into her world of Argentina while becoming an author; keynote author K.A. Holt let loose and reinforced how poetry and characters can bring creativity to the forefront of everyone’s attention.  The diversity of perspectives brought by authors such as Ryan Gebhart that combined architecture and writing, C.H. Williams illustrated world building within writing, the artistry of lettering from Jennifer Greer, diversity representation thanks to Deshanna and Trinity Neal, poetic monologues performed with Dr. Traci Curry, to the ins and outs of self-publishing with E.S.Rosaylnn, attendees were given the best gift of all, the gift of choice. Art again became the focus this year with the opportunities to bring student artwork to the New Castle County Imazine project and funnel talents into the technicalities of creating and working with the medium of Zines.

Outside of offering over 300 books at the pick your own book for free station set up, in between sessions attendees were able to rub shoulders with the representatives of native Delaware literary programs such as the Delaware Public Library system working alongside countless physical and digital  resources through SORA available.  The Delaware Association of School Libraries taught students how to design and manufacture buttons that could be worn and representing attendee’s literary values, while UDLIB Search continued to offer the many avenues to assist attendees in research and discovery beyond the physical pages being found at Festival of Words.

Don’t be fooled, the sheer success of moving the Festival of Words from Spring to Winter, and organizing a plentiful collection of artists, food and refreshments and the social interactions among so many age groups did not come without the guidance of director Andrea Rashbaum, the Festival of Words Organizing Committee, and the support of the Delaware Library Association, strongly supported by the sponsors that make this one, insightful Delaware festival for teens the exciting event it is.  Months of outreach, planning, organizing and creativity are rewarded as you see in every possible corner and classroom, attendees finding a space they belong to read, collect literary bling, hoard autographs, selfies, and countless bags of books; all memories that continue to emphasize the power of literacy, libraries, and learning. 

Planning has already started for the next Festival of Words- your energy and creativity is also welcome to be a part. Please reach out to the planning Committee at festivalofwordsde@gmail.com to continue to grow this amazing festival that celebrates all that Delaware can do to bring literary dreams to reality!

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A Place at the Nayarit – Unknown Expectations- Opening Plenary: Natalia Molina

Conference planning.

I am the type of person, that when I make a schedule of what to see maybe WAY more than I can possibly fit in a timeslot, I feel more comfortable just having a list in the waiting, to know what I might or might not miss. JUST because I make a list of what I plan to attend does not mean I know ANYTHING about what is going to happen – and that is where the magic occurs.

NOT knowing alot about topics actually is better – don’t you think? Open mind, no expectations, and wider scope of what might apply to you, what might not, I feel you are in a better situation when the expectations at times are unknown.

I say all this ahead of what was the Opening session for the exciting location in CA for the Humanities Conference, hosting Natalia Molina.

I knew nothing, and yet, when I discovered what she had to bring to the Humanities Conference, my knew nothing turned to, okay, I want to find out more.

Coming out on stage, California Senator Ben Allen provided an amazing overview of Los Angeles and the pockets of culture and areas many might not be familiar with in Los Angeles. It made you want to discover the cultural areas that many might not be aware of – he obviously knew so many original names of areas before they became developed and that always is the most inviting aspect of any area, being aware of their history before it became something even bigger and can have the tendency to hide what it was initially first known as. It was interesting to hear how he grew up in the Santa Monica area and his experiences that were pretty grounded growing up in public schools in that area and knowing the areas of California and seeing them change, His introduction to California was fitting and as his benefit to the California Humanities was obvious as was stated in their retrospective view of the conference:

Senator Ben Allen

“We are fresh off the success of hosting the National Humanities Conference in Los Angeles in November, co-produced by the Federation of State Humanities Councils and the National Humanities Alliance, a conference that saw the highest number of registrants in its history. Our plenary speakers included our former board member Natalia Molina, along with Riverside author Susan Straight and Pulitzer Prize-winner Viet Thanh Nguyen, along with California State Senator Ben Allen, who has been so instrumental in helping us to secure $3 million from the State of California in the past few years. “

Paving the way to Humanities Conference speaker Natalia Molina, and embarrassed to NOT know anything about her, I was very curious. What a background and resume she had, WHEW! – (Be preparing to consider the topic of STORYTELLING and its power).

“Natalia is the author of two award-winning books, How Race Is Made in America: Immigration, Citizenship, and the Historical Power of Racial Scripts and Fit to Be Citizens?: Public Health and Race in Los Angeles, 1879-1940, as well as co-editor of Relational Formations of Race: Theory, Method and Practice. Her work examines the interconnectedness of racial and ethnic communities through her concept of “racial scripts” which looks at how practices, customs, policies and laws that are directed at one group and are readily available and hence easily applied to other groups. She continues to explore the themes of race, space, labor, immigration, gender and urban history in her forthcoming book Place-making at the Nayarit: How a Mexican Restaurant in Los Angeles Nourished its Community.

Natalia is a 2020 MacArthur Fellow, and her work has been supported by various organizations  including the National Endowment for the Humanities, Ford, Mellon and Rockefeller Foundation. She is a Distinguished Lecturer for the Organization of American Historians. In 2018, she was the Organization of American Historians China Residency scholar. She has also been the recipient of various awards for her diversity work, including Diverse: Issues in Higher Education. During her tenure at the University of California, Natalia served as the Associate Vice Chancellor for Faculty Diversity and Equity. She has also served twice as the Associate Dean for Arts and Humanities and before that as the Director for the University of California Education Abroad Program in Spain.”

The heart of her talk, circling around food, restaurant and how it became a collective for individuals that often had to hide aspects of their identity was powerful – the caption here says it best from UC Santa Cruz:

“USC professor Natalia Molina, author of A Place At The Nayarit: How A Mexican Restaurant Nourished a Community, enthralled the NHC audience with a talk about the way her grandmother’s restaurant fostered community in the Echo Park neighborhood of Los Angeles.”

The above left image I took, and that quote, was a huge emphasis on what public spaces should provide for all individuals, havens of safety, diverse representation, and provide expressions of who we are as a country without fear of injury, reprisal, or degradation. The amazing center symbolism of what Molina’s restaurant created for the communities surrounding this Sunset Boulevard restaurant. Sitting there, I could not possibly ignore the discoveries I had made in pockets of Mexico when I was lucky enough to experience the neighborhoods there, and find the realities of Mexican culture thanks to the food, hard work, and culture that escaped the news and coverage day after day. The parallels and connections Molina was making to my own discoveries of what the word Humanities, and culture meant was impossible to ignore.

One of the most interesting aspects of Molina’s speech that truly nailed a concept. Her use of the word “Placemakers” (individuals staying tethered to their communities by establishing what would be coined as “Urban Anchors“, indicators of some truly amazing terms that set the idea of how spaces are used to something much deeper, a way for students and youth to be connected to history on a deeper level, and why researching spaces to see where they “…fit in their state history.” The depth of what a restaurant means to a country, to a area, to a people, to a culture, I discovered myself in Mexico, and what a gift that aspect has been able to stay with me.

The powerful history that Molina presented about culture being unearthed, discovered, researched and finding photos that are buried yet priceless when discovered, all is part of the process of valuing a culture, neighborhoods, the past, and how it connects and influences the present. That in itself is a powerful speech. Months later, yes, I am still eager to jump into her book, “A Place at the Nayarit”, and deep down, that is how I envision conferences. So many individuals attending take it in and for that first week, so excited and then, weeks, months later nothing – zilch. I do believe efforts should be taken as an individual to bring back aspects of a conference, weeks, months, years later, and still use to impact future efforts to improve communities, individuals institutions, and be used to unearth discoveries that stay with us for years to come, revisiting specific workshops, appearances, and experiences and not “dating” attendance to conferences as in the past and old.

These experiences need to stay with us for a long time forward to truly be effective and impressionable to make a difference. Yet another aspect of what the Delaware Humanities, and the Humanities Conference means in relation to our own communities.

A small sample of what storytelling can mean to a community – Boyle Heights.

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Sweet Green Sweet Utopia.

I digress. The night I made my way back to my amazing hotel at the Biltmore, a day of flights that seems to had taken me what seems worlds away, to an amazing tour of gardens that contained worlds that seemed to keep open up like a movie, to being able to stand in front of the most amazing library after having read the most AMAZING BOOK to date as a bibliophile and Librarian – The Library Book

seeing the Los Angeles Public Library in front of me after that read- it just literally was a day I could not imagine – and yes, my body was breaking down from the INSANE schedule I had found myself in –

so with all this in mind- you can only imagine how GRATEFUL I was for finding this literal oasis of food on my back to the Biltmore- Sweet Green. From the drink, to the choices you are given, to JUST knowing why and how Sweet Green is, it is amazing how it all perfectly just made sense.

I wanted to eat here every day of my life as I witnessed the freshest ingredients I had ever laid my eyes on in a lineup of what was a mix of salad, vegetables, EVERY SINGLE THING you could smell and taste with your eyes, and I cannot recall, before leaving Mexico City, where I would EVER find such such a oasis of health, freshness and quality – I was the luckiest person on the earth to have found this only about 300 feet away from my hotel. And after a schedule that most would just look at and consider just plain insane.

The manager on duty (of course I had his card in my portfolio that was taken or would be taken in two days from now) was A M A Z I N G and answered every single aspect of anything you might be considering to order. The lineup of ingredients looked as if it has been offered on a cruise ship – the whole demeanor of this establishment, from EVERY SINGLE THING being offered that would and could be recycled, to the very lusciousness of taste that was offered – it made everything – just absolutely perfect.

Many of you know that I am grateful for the time and detail put into food – it is not just eating, you learn about the culture and beliefs of a country, you learn about the values of individuals, you learn about priorities over the way people prepare and serve food. I learned that from day 1 when I began investigating restaurants and profiling them weekly in Mexico City. This was one of the most amazing saves of my experience in Los Angeles, and it sounds insane that making the trip to Los Angeles- and one of the highest moments was finding a corner restaurant, and yet, it was, and still is. Thanks to the quality of the service, the quality of the food and freshness, and the detail the manager did not mind giving me as a customer that late evening – it set the tone for what would be an amazing discovery process at the Humanities Conference in Los Angeles.

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Day 1, Delaware Humanities, Who will you discover? What will you bring BACK?

Welcome to New Conference Attendees 11/10/22, 8:15 PM – 11/10/22, 8:45 PM

It seemed at first like a large room, full of wat you might expect, newbies and more awaiting to see and hear what this Humanities Conference and experience is all about.

What I do recall – (no thanks to my notes and complete portfolio of business cards that little did I know would be stolen on my way home in 2 days), I DO remember meeting a member from the Alaska Humanities Council, I DO remember, learning about a name of a specific type of bear that I had never heard of – and being able to discuss the experiences of others that had been a part of the Humanities Board and Council longer than I had. This conversation among familiar members and newer members – helped more than can be expressed.

We were asked as a group to stand in the line, and move along that long long long long line of members in this group, to move far right, or far left, or in the middle based on various questions given to us. Questions ranged from types of books we liked to read – types of weather we liked to read those types of books in, and a small range of other questions that were in the area of the level of how much we craved dessert, and being a morning or night person.

Yes this all sounds pretty run of the mill right? Typical, ice breaker dread kind of experiences you would think, and yet, it was not. the conversations that were had in between these moments of where we found ourselves in the line, as well as just realizing how many people from around the world were beside us, endeared the moments we are in this together among all of us.

Coming before the opening speaker after this event, I do have to say, this was a spectacular experience and helped me realize how completely surrounded I was by individuals from literally all around the globe, and how we each shared the power to bring change, creativity, and progress to each of our corners of the globe.

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Delaware Humanities, Day 1 Upon Us

November 10, 2022 Preconference Workshop Museum on Main Street 9:00 AM – 12:00 PM

Looking back on the off the flight, to the Huntington Gardens as depicted in this post –

harrybrake.com/2022/11/19/classrooms-exist-around-us/

It was a LONG Day traveling from the eastern coast to the western coast without ever making it to the hotel and jumping right into a tour, but as the above post indicated, THAT was an amazing start to the Delaware Humanities Conference. So, what would day 1 hold in store?

I will be honest, I had LOTS of questions about what the Delaware Humanities was, did, and would do for our state. When you hear the word Humanities, you think (I think) plays, literacy, the arts, etc.. But this first workshop – Museum on Main Street Forum – a preconference event really broke it down.

Museum on Main Street, this in itself is an amazing concept. It allows a pop up, and a very extensive pop up interaction of an idea, and pathways that can lead to creative representation of a whole host of possiblities, like the one that is in Harrington right now until January 28th – called Crossroads.

These programs, Museums on Main Street, sponsored by the Smithsonian, are crucial to being able to represent so much about cultural aspects around us.

For example, take a look at the Maryland Museum on Main Street

as well as the future places the Crossroads exhibit will travel to, in Delaware (scroll down this page to see future locations).

Carol Hash representing this group, and from the Eastern Shore, as well as the rest of the MoMs Staff, amazing.

The concept, and the idea of Museums on Main Street redefines areas and information to all generations we might not be quite familiar with – this in itself was a great way to start the Humanities Conference off to understand HOW Delaware Humanities uses and utilizies specific programs to reach audiences to inform them of displays like this.

One of the most beneficial aspcts of this workshops was also to provide feedback on potential upcoming Museuems on Main Street ideas to see what would possibly have the ability to reach wide swaths of audiences.

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Your record setting history

Since 2011, the blogging has been an amazing experience to keep me grounded, thanks to all of you. In 2022, the second highest number of readers ever were logged of 6271 views.

A total of 651,567 views have been logged from all over the world, – thank you for your support as we tackle and discover new areas in the future!

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WHS Alumni Speaker Series, #1!

We did a thing. With the brainstorming of Woodbridge School District Board member, Elaine Gallant, and thanks to local business owners that are Woodbridge alumni, AND the rising educator students at WHS, we have started the spotlight on alumni business owners through the Alumni Speaker series.

This was a SPECTACULAR first podcast, and student Isabella, who was NOT planning on being the interviewer, filling in for an ill student, was amazing in making this look easy.

We welcomed Mr. Josh Miller, General Manager of Operations at All Span, Inc., Mr. Miller and All Span Inc. was one of many sponsors of our athetic training hill as well, so this first interview in this new series is insightful, motivating, rewarding, and refreshing.

We think you will love this 🙂

I have to say this session left me speechless, with so much wisdom, reflection, and value that came out of this first session.

Kudos to the students and willing alumni who recreate the definition of making and creating in a developing Makerspace at the Raider’s Den Library Media Center, at Woodbridge High School.

Check it out HERE

WHS Alumni Speaker Series #1, Isabella and Mr. Josh Miller from All Span, Inc..
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Master Planning Librarianship in Delaware

Being given the following mission:

AASL Chapters are asked to connect with their Superintendent/Commissioner of Education, Principal Association, State Librarian, or Teacher of the Year to discuss the role of school librarians.” – I felt it necessary to do ore than simply pass on materials.

In providing the AASL Standards to the above representatives of all things education in Delaware, made possible by a generous grant from AASL member Marina “Marney” Welmers, I wanted to make sure as librarians we are represented more than just a handoff of materials. The AASL Standards are pretty daunting by themselves, and the need to delve into them critically, is vital to applying better approaches to libarianship in Delaware.

There are the takeaways that seems most vital, when I looked into the Delaware School Libraries Master Plan, from 2016, keeping the current AASL Standards in mind:

page 7 -10 of the 2016 study – aspects of English Arts Performance that improve with school librarians:

Areas of Reading, Writing, Research Skills, Math & Science, Information Literacy Skills, as well as Graduation Rates are directly related with the presence of a librarian in the immediate building of a school. The SB 195 that directly required students to receive Media Literacy Skills as part of their education complements what school librarians can do to facilitate this at every grade, with the time and presence of a school librarian for students.

Page 11 outlines the very 7 points that even in 2016, and still today, will create a better impact among students, all involving librarianship. The flexible versus fixed scheduling is one of the many characteristics that directly impacts the effectiveness of a librarian among students. Freeing the library media specialist as state don page 12, and well as moving towards a certified full-tine librarian shows the trust and belief of the very impacts that are shown to occur with librarian specialists among students.

The mention of focus groups held throughout the state, with library/media center personnel, as stated on page 12 is another key component to increasing librarianship throughout our state.

The statistics presented on page 13, of the decline of the school librarian in districts was in 2016, to see a more recent picture, please take a look at Debra Kachel’s slide project HERE. The bottom of page 13 sums it up best, “Even more alarming is the fact that Delaware’s school libraries appear to be headed in an increasingly dire direction in regard to the number of schools with full-time, certified librarians.”

This was in 2016.

Again on page 14 – qualifications, erosion of time allotted to the profession of librarianship, how units need to be reconsidered in lieu of this situation on page 15, and the continuous justification of librarian positions being cut – all concerns that have remained unattended to for too long.

Page 17 delves into the insight of school-library catalogs, and with the possibility finally of schools being part of an consortium, whether you realized it or not, the call for librarians with a Master’s of Information Science, and experience with ALA certification, has never been more important as librarianship begins to turn a new corner in providing for needs of students that cannot be found in a standard job description of this position.

Addressing the fact that no paid staff are assigned to a council, as referred to on page 17, the fact that indeed, without formal staffing, change happening is not able to occur.

Recommendations, that are appearing starting on page 20 are relatively similar to what veteran librarians in schools have been askng for before, and after 2016’s report. School librarians in each school, a pilot project where is put in place, funding for a pilot of this nature, (the school library consortium can help this area as well), expanding access to E-content and expanding the Delaware Library Consortium (YES! Happening) as listed on page 22 – we are moving and need to continue to move in the directon of recommendations that were provided in 2016.

Establishing specific governance and helping coordinate school libraries is a huge factor. As DASL has been trying to remold the model of reaching out and bringing together all individuals (paraprofessionals, graduates, soon to be graduates of an MLIS program, public librarians, adminstrators, Technology Specialists) who are making strides in librarianship, we all need to meld together to help make the strides we need to see across the board, so to speak, for librarianship. Working with Everylibrary.org has also helped build a Delaware coalition to make changes and get out of the quicksand of inert activity that has been occurring long before 2016 with librarianship in Delaware.

Pages 24 focus on factors that inhibit the role of a librarian, be it inadequate staffing, resources, non-supportive administration, professional development freedom lacking for librarian development, flexible versus fixed scheduling, ongoing programs of data collection and management established, tracking student performance alongside contributions of librarian support to students (hard to do if many of the above factors do not exist to allow this!) – from pages 24-25, the recommendation and focus that needs t be taken, is just there waiting for us to bring to the forefront.

Staffing, as brought up on page 25 -is a whole realm that needs to be attended to. Be it from how a librarian is considered, and utilized to the actual role a librarian plays to a school (and we know this goes two ways, we need to expect anyone representing the librarianship role to be 100000% (that is alot!) proactive. This means willing to be adaptable at every turn, willing to be proactive and not ever, ever wait for anyone or any one activity to come to them, but always going out and reining in activities, opportunities, and discoveries for the student body at large – to represent the change we want and need to see in the support of librarians in Delaware.

As mentioned on page 29, moving towards a consortium is going to change the way people, students, and administration will view librarians, and it should. For the better, not for the worse. Legions of school librarians need to reappear to change the views of students and how they view education as a whole – which is desperately needed.

Without a doubt, the recommendation made in 2016, on page 30, of a full-time position at the Department of Education, focusing just on school-library programs, has and is a game change. The real power of what impact school librarians can have on the school communities in our state can emerge from this one major action – as well. In order to have a High Quality Library School Program, as mentioned on page 31, recommendations by specialists in the field of education in 2016, need to be enacted now and moving forward.

The details of the power of flexible versus fixed scheduling falls on page 32 and shows how this impacts accountability on page 33 to page 35 that shows a point system of effectiveness school librarians can have if supported and encouraged.

Take a look at pages 39, and see the areas of concern such as maintaining collections with shrinking budgets (page 42), access to resources students do not have at home (43)- ask students who we have enabled to provide free laptops to, thanks to the resources librarians can gather and pull together that others do not have, to the outcomes that occur with certified librarians among students, how reading is STILL relevant (yes, our circulation of books this year, is RIGHT NOW, higher than the year following COVID, and growing, so yes, GIVEN a chance, students can be interested in literacy – if school librarians are given the chance to do what they do best and are trained for.

Please look at the impact on students from certified librarians being in buildings on page 49, how the physical environment impacts a student’s overall performance in their experience as school (the famous “third space” that can be available and should be available to all students, and guess what?

The impact AASL Standards have on students is often underestimated and often unknown. Knowing the AASL Standards is vital to understanding what the potential of librarianship, education, and supporting students can have – AASL Standards are for the community to use as stepping stones to moving the education ladder to the bookshelves many do not know that exist. The competencies are spelled out on page 53, and any and every discipline, combined with librarianship, benefits from these competencies.

Librarians are the gatekeepers of these opportunities.

The barriers listed on page 55 are but a few items that hindered school librarianship in 2016- and need to be revisited immediately.

Teaching students how to use libraries and how to use resources- time needs to be prioritized from the top down, to allow the full potential of librarianship and the role that school librarianships can share, alongside life learners.

Positions that have been cut, are being cut, that will be cut is addressed on page 58, copyright and licensing policies on page 59 (trust me, these can be murky waters and moreso, if you do not have the education about these ever-changing policies), and how books and curriculum is developed as mentioned on page 60 – are ALL under the professional umbrella of librarianship and the certified librarian, and why this is essential.

From the many diverse examples of school libraries in other states (page 63) and WHY, we as a Delaware Association School Librarian group subscribe to the American Association of School Libraries, and their standards, to broaden the opportunity, vision, and possibility of our future generations.

The above was a fly by sky view of the 2016 Master Plan – and we can delve into so many of the sections above and dissect where we go from here to improve who we want to be as librarians in the future.

This is just the beginning as with the help of EveryLibrary.org, we have a taskforce to address the not so backdated issues of the 2016 study that still are lingering today – let’s get started with you !

We were lucky enough to have Secretary of Education Dr. Holodick visit December 13th with our WHS School Principal, Kelly Kirkland, and transferring a copy of the AASL Standards and summaries of the components of these to share with the Department of Education, and even more so – the point he made of librarians needed to be able to adapt, transform, and relay how and when they do this to educate the public, is part of the crux of the survival of librarianship and librarians today. Many and most do this on a daily basis, and communicating HOW and when we do this, to parents, stockholders in the education system, in mass numbers, is vital. Board members, administrators, parents, and students need to realize this is happening, when given a chance, every time education is brought up or encountered.

Giving the AASL standards to the individuals mentioned at the beginning of this essay is not enough, delving into the details and connecting these to specifics of what we need to do to move forward, to improve our educational plan involving school librarianship, has to be a part to, otherwise, we are just seeing pages and pages of information with no synthesis into the real life in which we live.

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For the sake of Librarianship

5:00 AM alarm, it doesn’t come easy, I know this. Many can confirm this 🙂

As I rose to ready for traveling to Festival of Words with Woodbridge students, I fell/stumbled into my routine- downstairs, rouse the dogs, put a load of clothes into the dryer, one load in the wash, latch the leashes to canines, out we go into the cold, lap around the neighborhood. Coming back in from the cold, grateful for the warmth of a wood burning smell. Lay out food for the canines, and let them out the back yard. Ten minutes go by, slide door in, two canines back – the third? – Dallying in the back yard? Nope – nowhere in sight – on the loose –

this changes the game a bit. With having to be at the high school to meet students at 7:00 AM, looking for a lost dog in the neighborhood is a liability at the very least regarding time – however, the larger worry is living close to a majorly travelled road, and having that same lost canine.

Spending 45 minutes circling the neighborhood, looking for the canine – and unusually, nothing. Whistling, clapping hands at 6:50ish AM in the morning, I am sure neighbors appreciates this (shaking my head). The last lap of the search, as I was pulling in, I opened the door of my vehicle, while still driving in slowly to the driveway, and my car alarm via loud loud horn sets off.

And does not stop.

Remember, this is about 6:10 AM now, and the car is deactivated, but the horn is very well alive, as the neighbors are becoming well familiar with. Sigh. Great GREAT opportune time for this to occur.

I run around and deactivate the cables from the battery- and despite everything, the alarm does not turn off, and I am stuck with no operating vehicle, missing dog, and – who knows what next. I call my Mom, she arrives so minutes later, we circle the neighborhood several times to no avail, letting my one awake neighbor (maybe more now due to the horn) aware of my missing canine, and as we drive back in, there is Dane, standing in the driveway- safe but anxious wondering, where I have been…

Getting the dog into the house, locking all up, I spy the hole he dug under the fence to get to the cats that he had discovered in the back yard, note to fix that immediately. I throw a tarp over the vehicle as the windows of my vehicle are open from my failed search and rescue mission, it is raining, so it is the best I could do in a time pinch.

I ask my Mom, with the only working vehicle now, to take me to the school, as I have only 20 minutes to meet students at 7:00 AM.

In my pajama flannels. GREAT.

I get to the school about 5 minutes late, calling ahead to let one student know to let others know I am on my way. I go car door to car door, explain my appearance, my dilemma, colleting permissions slips, and thinking, parents are thinking, I am letting my son/daughter go with him? ! – I inform all we will plan to stop back at my house, if okay with them, to grab loads of books we are taking as well as so I can change into something other than PJ’s- excellent morning, especially with the cold, drizzling rain.

We finally achieve all of the above, we are on the road and it is 8:10 AM – and we aim to not miss the first speaker at 9:30- in Middletown.

Some people had not had breakfast, so as a concession and thank you for their patience, I grab breakfast for all at McDonald’s. we are back off to our destination- amid the downpouring rain. I inform all, due to the way this morning has rolled out already, we are taking it slow, cautious, and careful – as this morning has been an indication of what can and will go wrong.

Despite all of the above, we arrive at 9:30, all are able to catch an amazing keynote by Yamile Saied Mendez,

and all is well with the world- for now. Soooo…how did Festival of Words go?

What happened? Stay tuned and we will fill you in on quite a day 🙂

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Rest, Relaxation, Education

One of the best realizations anyone can realize is recognizing holidays for a time to take in all the values that matter, and have the time to do so without rush.

As I listened to podcasts all month related to various social constructs, one remains with me, acknowleding National Native American Heritage Month all year long, not just in a token month of November. Here are many great podcasts, and articles, that I heard all month that are truly worth listenting to and celebrating National Native American Heritage, all year long AND the amazing chance to see featured films below.

It’s Not Just About the Blood

Love and Blood Quantum

Welcome to Native Cinema Showcase All films on demand  November 18–25, 2022

Native Nevada

Library of Congress

Native American Heritage Month 2021

New York tells schools to drop Native American mascots

Congress holds first ever hearing on a congressional seat for the Cherokee Nation

The largest dam demolition in history is approved for a Western river


A memorial for Native American veterans has been years in the making

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