Favorite blogs and why

Hi everyone,

Tomorrow I’ll visit Honesdale via Skype to talk to Larry Brimner’s workshop gang about blogging. I have my notes ready but have a favor to ask.

Many of you blog, too, and/or regularly visit BlogSpots that interest you. Would you mind sharing some of your favorites and why you like them? That way I can also provide those who are attending Larry’s workshop with a current list of sites they might want to check out.



An interview with Margo Armstrong

Hi everyone,

At the recent induction ceremony for WRITERS HALL OF FAME, Singer/songwriter/performers Larry Lee and Randle Chowning were inducted as the 2015 recipients. It was a grand evening. As part of the auction to help the organization fund college scholarships for budding young writers, I offered a featured spot on my blog. I was delighted when a friend of mine, Margo Armstrong, was the high bidder.

Margo and I discussed possible formats for her featured spot and agreed to set it up as a series of questions and answers. So here, ladies and gentlemen, is Margo Armstrong. She has an incredible story to tell!

Hi, Margo, and thanks for two things: supporting WRITERS HALL OF FAME and agreeing to today’s interview.

I’m glad to do both, David.
You recently attended and supported the annual Writers Hall of Fame Quill Award event when song writers and singers Larry Lee and Randle Chowning were inducted. What is your interest in supporting the arts?
Since early childhood living in America and Germany, my family exposed me to ballet, literature, and music. At age 5 I attended my first Symphony concert. I love and have supported the arts, especially since my marriage to Bill H. Armstrong, Emeritus professor and legendary painter .
Please tell us about your family.
I have two daughters, Sonja and Janel (both teachers) and two granddaughters — Sonja’s daughters Lauren and Ashley. Lauren has a degree from U.M.K.C. and R.N. from St. Luke’s and Ashley has a Journalism degree from M.S.U. Both live in Overland Park, K.S. Bill, my husband of 25 years, has two sons. Sister Karin is a Chiropractor and raises champion dogs. I also have two nieces and extended family that I love and cherish.
Describe a “typical” day in the life of Margo Armstrong.
For about 42 years I was in health care as a Chiropractor. Since my retirement I start the day with necessary business phone calls, managing properties I own, and three times a week I go to the Mayer Center. I walk each day possible in the neighborhood, listen to internet lectures on brain, psychology, health etc., and stay busy with household and family projects. I enjoy social events with friends, such as Symphony, the Arts, the community activities.

Since November 2014 have become a caregiver to my brilliant, talented husband, who had an Ischemic stroke. Thank God his mind and speech are fine and he is regaining the use of his right hand and leg. Such interests and responsibilities as these keep me busy.
Tell us about your early years.
My childhood was unusual. My mother was born in Berlin, Germany. My father was American who as a young man spent 20 years in Alaska during the Klondike. He was 27 years older than she. They were blissfully married for three years when he died. I was 10 months old. My mother and I lived in Manhattan, N.Y. with extended visits to Germany with my grandmother and Uncle Alfred. Wonderful memories.

My mother remarried. Both she and my stepfather tried to get their significant assets out of Germany back to America, but could not. I experienced Nazi Germany and World War II as a young girl. I was grateful that we survived, but the war was hell.
What experiences in your early years do you think influenced the person you are today?
That life can be uncertain and should not be taken for granted. To know what it’s like to live a privileged lifestyle in a home of luxury, precious art, and beautiful things — and in a minute a bomb destroys everything, leaving only the clothes I was wearing. My parents were exceptional role models, not allowing us to be victims, but with intelligence and strength showing how to cope and survive. I learned to pray and become strong in faith, which is a lifetime journey. I cherish the presence and love of family and good friends, and values and accomplishments that last. I learned to have political interest, to be aware, to be involved. I learned from experiencing to evil regime of Hitler and his Nazi party.
What would you still like to accomplish?
Keep learning new things or improving. Seeing my daughters and granddaughters live their best lives. Continue to be an influence for good to our community.
What are your favorite places to go?
Colorado , San Francisco , Lake Tahoe ,the Bavarian Alps of Germany, Austria.
What do you like to do to relax?
Listen to music, read, meditate, walk.
Do you have any books that you recommend to others?
German Fairy tales, individuals, current or past who inspire me; Wayne Dyer, Dr. Christiane Northrup, etc.
What advice do you have for young people of today?
Become educated. Learn to succeed. Have moral and ethical values. Faith is a personal journey. Do all you can to make the community, the world, and our environment a better place. Be an example for respect, integrity and love.

Margo, lovely. Thank you again. It has been a pleasure.

StoryBox, the Unfinished Poetry Project

Hi everyone,

Gifted professional storyteller Kevin Cordi Kevin Cordi has joined forces with former U.S. Children’s Poetry Laureate J. Patrick Lewis J. Patrick Lewisto create StoryBox, the Unfinished Poetry Project.

Kevin created the original StoryBox in 1995 as a way for young people all over the world to read the stories of others and share stories of their own. Here’s a link for information about that wonderful program. http://www.storyboxproject.com .

One year ago Kevin and Pat launched a new version of that highly successful project, this time to help bring poetry to the classroom in ways that would encourage children and young adults around the country to read unfinished poems provided by well known poets and complete them in their own ways. Participating teachers would receive a box of unfinished poems along with the poets’ bios and photographs. After giving their students a few weeks to enjoy the poems and finish them, the box, with all the new material in it, went on to the next school. After one year the materials were all returned to Kevin and Pat to enjoy and share with the world via conferences, social media, and a grand event to be held this Sunday at Thurber House in Columbus, Ohio.

To show you Kevin’s level of excitement about this upcoming event, here’s a recent note from him.

“Dear amazing poets,

I can’t believe it has been a year but your poems have traveled around the country and I don’t have enough words to thank you for offering these gifts. Students from all over the nation have contributed to The Children’s Poetry StoryBox. J. Patrick Lewis and I recently spent a few hours reading the wonderful work inspired by your poem starters. We can’t wait to share them with you.

The work has traveled all over the country including a rural West Virginia elementary school to a migrant school in California. I was so excited to hear that Janet Wong met the box on the travels and I was able to meet Joan B. Graham and together we shared at the National Council Teachers of English.

There are so many stories to share about the experience. We invite you to read more of the accounts on our google community. You can find it at  https://plus.google.com/u/0/communities/111879884417438537523 .
Now that the Children’s Poetry StoryBox has returned we want to share in so many ways.”

(David’s note here. On April 9 the National Writing Project held a nation-wide podcast where teachers talked about the experience of having the Children’s Poetry StoryBox and teachers read some of the works.)

“On April 26 Sunday at 2 at the well-known James Thurber Center in Columbus, Ohio we will hold a reception where students will read with adult poets from the work in the Children’s Poetry StoryBox. Pat will also be speaking at the event. If you provided a statement or additional poem, we will showcase this on our display tables for each of the contributing poets. We hope to take pictures to share later and possible video the event.”

So there you have it. My congratulations to Kevin and Pat for creating such a good project and involving so many teachers and their young poets around the United States. I hope and trust that the project will continue to prosper over the years to come. I was delighted to be a participating poet.

For further information about StoryBox, the Unfinished Poetry Project, or the original StoryBox, you can reach Kevin at Kevin D. Cordi, Director
StoryBox Project
643 Nashoba Ave
Columbus, Ohio 43223

About that tapeworm

BULLETIN: Would you care for a spot of tea with today’s science lesson? Then go to Jama Kim Rattigan’s site. She’s having a tea party. https://www.facebook.com/JamaKimRattigan/posts/10203983103160945

Hi everyone,

Something I’m working on just gave me an unexpected opportunity to use a bit of my past, my old friend Hymenolepis diminuta. That’s the little tapeworm I studied in my graduate days at Emory. It’s found primarily in rats and I chose it for my research project.

The juvenile form of H. diminuta is carried in the intestines of the confused flour beetle (Tribolium confusum) a tiny beetle that contaminates flour and other ground grains. When a rat swallows an infected beetle, the worm inside it is transferred to the rat where it grows to maturity in the rat’s lower gut and starts passing eggs out through the feces.

Confused flour beetles happen to like rat poop so they become infected and start the cycle over. Isn’t this fascinating? During certain phases of the research I couldn’t leave the lab for long periods so I often arrived at my rented room off campus in a state of exhaustion. I’d grab a few hours of rest and head back to work. One morning I reported to my lab wearing a shirt and pants over the shirt and pants I had crashed in across the bed. I had been in such a weary fog when I got up that I hadn’t realized I’d never taken off my clothes the night before.

Believe it or not, I was for a brief time back in the day one of the few authorities on the rat tapeworm. The problem was that all my fans slept in sewers. Well, I did receive the Sigma Xi award for the best scientific research at the masters level at Emory that year. My life has taken some unexpected turns and twists since then but I’m still a little vain about that recognition.

When I tell people about my first publications, magazine stories in the 60s, I usually forget that my first one was actually titled, “The Growth of the Rat Tapeworm, Hymenolepis Diminuta, During the First Five Days in the Final Host.” It was published in The Journal of Parasitology, October, 1961.

My second publication appeared in The Journal of Pharmacology. By then I’d become a pharmacologist in a pharmaceutical laboratory but that’s another story.

Friends of the Library Book Sale

Hi everyone,

For those of you book, music and movie lovers who are within driving distance of Springfield, be sure you go to the Friends of the Library Book Sale Tuesday-Sunday, April 21-26, at Remington’s, 1655 W. Republic Road.

Tuesday-Friday: 10 a.m.-8 p.m.
Saturday: 10 a.m.-5 p.m. – Half Price Day
Sunday: 1-5 p.m – $1 and $5 Bag Day

Cash or check only; credit cards are not accepted at this time.
Proceeds benefit the ten library branches, programs and the Mobile Library, which was purchased by the Friends for the Library District in spring 2011.

Sandy and I went and I brought home quite a haul. For $26 I purchased FOOTPRINTS ON THE ROOF, by Marilyn Singer; MOON, HAVE YOU MET MY MOTHER?, the collected works of Karla Kuskin; THE BEST POEMS OF THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE, edited by Harold Bloom; MRS. COLE ON AN ONION ROLL, by Kalli Dakos; HEROES AND SHE-ROES, by J. Patrick Lewis; RING OF EARTH, by Jane Yolen; BOW BOW MEOW MEOW, by Douglas Florian; ANIMAL TRACKS, by Charles Ghigna; and an Advance uncorrected proof of XANADU 2, selected and edited by Jane Yolen. I picked up a copy of EDGAR ALLAN POE: A GUIDE FOR READERS YOUNG AND OLD, for which I wrote the foreword, but put it down. Now I wish I’d bought it.

Is that a haul or what? Sandy picked up five CDs for one dollar each so we’re already enjoying those.