Pam Webb

a writer's journey as a reader

Archive for the category “holidays”

A Wee Christmas Story


I’m taking up Susanna Leonard Hill‘s challenge of writing a children’s holiday story. It must be about a holiday treat and it must not exceed 250 (that is a challenge). From what I understand the prizes are an array of writer delights–critiques, writing courses, book bundles, references and resource books. How could I not be tempted!

This story is based on an actual recipe handed down to me from my German grandmother, my Oma. We always called it her Christmas cookie recipe, but I have since learned it is a type of shortbread. I might be convinced to post the recipe (if I can find where it’s been tucked away in my recipe books). I’ll be anticipating whether my story made the finalist list…

OMA’S SECRET INGREDIENT
 by
Pam Webb

(207 words)

“What makes your Christmas cookies taste so good, Oma? Do you use a secret ingredient?” 

Oma laughed. “I use nothing but what you see here in my kitchen,” Then, as if a thought had tickled her, she smiled just ever so. “Actually, Engelin, I do use a secret ingredient. You guess what it is.”  

Greta looked at all the different spices and canisters in Oma’s kitchen, wondering which ingredient it could be that made the cookies ever so delicious. 

The next day, after Christmas Eve dinner, Greta brought out the dessert tray. Glancing at Oma, Greta saw the happiness reflected on her grandmother’s face as she watched everyone enjoy the baked treats. Realizing then what the secret ingredient was, Greta selected a heart cookie from the dessert plate. She quietly made her way over to Oma, presenting it to her. “I know what the secret ingredient is,” she whispered.

 Oma whispered back, “Is this so?”

“Mmhmm,” Greta nodded. “It doesn’t come from any of your spice jars. And I know you put it in all you do, not just cookies,” she added, giving her grandmother a measured hug of love.

“Yes, my little angel, love makes everything taste that much better.”

Shortbread Cookies, the ultimate melt in your mouth cookie.Traditional or brown sugar. Your new Christmas Shortbread recipe.
These cookies disappear fast!

Do you have a special Christmas recipe handed down from a special relative?

Give Me a Break…


December consists of hurry up and wait.

At school we hurry through the last unit, hoping to complete it before

a)an unexpected snow day hits

b)the current bout of flu doesn’t empty out the classes

c)too many of my students leave for early vacation.

At home it’s a flurry of hurry as I shop, package, insert, check lists, pull down boxes, search and find–that is, when I am not grading those last minute assignments.

The wait part is counting down days to Christmas Break. We voted to make 12/21 the exit day in order to have an extra week at the end of break, instead of at the beginning. Fumes of distinctive burn out permeated the hallways on Friday. Everyone was tired. I know waiting so long for the break to begin will mean I enjoy that much more–right?

I did a happy dance in the kitchen on Saturday 12/22. Walked around in the brisk, sunny, pre-snowstorm. Definitely appreciated the Christmas weekend. Love being on break.

It’s Wednesday. Umm, how long before we go back to school?

It’s true: You can take the teacher out of the classroom, but you can’t take the classroom out of the teacher.

So far I’ve read two books, answered a dozen Quora requests, watched three movies, straightened up my Hamlet unit, polished my Merchant of Venice lesson plan, finished a puzzle, made a batch of cookies, tried out my new walking poles (thanks, Hon), slept in (6 am!). Now what?

Sheesh–I better figure out something about down time. I’ve got about four years to retirement.

They say knitting can be fun.

Word Nerd Confessions: December


[somewhat hummed to Tannenbaum]

December. Oh, December. How colorful, your days are bright. With evergreen and flashy lights, your lengthy nights are cozy bright. December. Oh, December. Your passing will soon bring June.

Don’t get me wrong. December is fairly pleasant, considering all the snow that must be dealt with. Decorations, festivities, Christmas, New Year’s Eve, Christmas Break. I like December much more than January. But that is next month. This month let’s focus on the bright, brilliant, and happy of the Christmas month.

And this last word is to bring in the new year…

November Debatable: Hot Air Argument


With Thanksgiving ads beckoning us to ready for the annual rite of feasting with friends and family, it seemed appropriate to center our monthly debate on another annual tradition, Macy’s Parade.

More specifically, we take on which kid lit character should become the next parade balloon.

I’m going for Tigger.

It’s a natural choice–right?

Mike is going for Peter from The Snowy Day. Cute, but not as uplifting as Tigger.

So–make your way over to Mike Allegra’s site and weigh in your thoughts and send up your vote.

Winter Reset Terms


Valentine’s Day reset winter by delivering eight inches of snow. I would have preferred a FDT delivery of daffodils.

I am in need of spring, that event that is a long time in finally appearing, where greenery festoons the landscape instead of mutations of whiteness. Snow is no longer pretty after three months, after it’s been shoveled, blowed, and pushed about.

February’s snow tends to be fickle. It doesn’t quite have the tenacity of January’s snow days. It’s vacillating between being fiercely winter and nicely spring. It’s as if it is acknowledging March is on the move and will definitely arrive with a spring in its step. Forget about that woodchuck and his shadowy ideas about how long we have to wait for spring. Keep him sleeping, thanks.

Last week’s unexpected snow day led me to build my annual snow guy. My students liked my snowman show and tell photo, and one class named him Perceval–Percy among his friends. 

As the snow continues to fall, and continues to hamper greener days from arriving, I thought it appropriate to dust off my snow terms list:

▪ lookitsnow:  first snow of the season–Nov/Dec

▪ itzsnowing: comment of the day until mid-January

▪ ucksnow:  bridge between Jan/Feb when people begin getting weary of shoveling, scraping, and slipping around in the stuff

▪ snizzle: the on off dance of snow and rain found in late February

▪ snain: a more serious form of snizzle

▪ smush: slushy snow of Feb/Mar

▪ smud: ground showing with snow patches, squashy walking usually around early March

▪ ohnosnow: snow when daffs coming up and flakes coming down in March/April

▪ nomohsnow: snowfall and meltaway tease of April/May

(some days there is the occasional variety to the landscape)

Fore Warned in My Musings…


Or this could be named: “Cricket Takes a Holiday”

(this is actually my second attempt at posting since the resort wifi is a bit tricky)

I will admit May is tough on teachers. Sure we get our free lunches, cards, and goody sacks on Teacher Appreciation day, but the rest of the year could use some boost and cheer as well. We are all a bit weary and the finish line is closer, yet not quite close enough.

If you are traisping over from my last post you understand I May *grin* be suffering from burnout. This is why I am on holiday. I took two of my hoarded personal holidays (we get three during the school year) and signed myself out for a four day weekend. Never mind it takes about three days to set up two days worth of lesson plans and I hope a sub can be found. I needed to get awaaaay. Yes, that is the sound of a teacher jubilating a happy sound as she pulls out from the parking lot Friday afternoon. And yes, there is a knapsack of ungraded papers I must deal with before I return to work on Wednesday.

The first two days of my retreat–wait, I need to digress…

Why call it a retreat, indicating I am running away from something when I am actually running toward what I embrace willingly without shame? There is honor is working in the trenches classroom. And maybe I am suffering from PTFSD (positively tired from student disconduct). 

Back…

The first two days were spent soaking up time with the hubs, who forbade any talk about school (good man), and soaking up the view, reading, sunning, and watching the swallows.

Our condo faces the fairway (have I got a story about nearly getting hit by a golfball–and I did have a forewarning, but not the yelled out kind) and is the flight path of the resident swallows. In fact, we share the roofline and they often sit near the rail, twittering and preening like tuxeodoed Woolworth parakeets. I love ’em. I left the robins home in the backyard. This is swallow country.

 

The third day finds me all by my lonesome. The hubs has returned home and I am told to “WRITE.” I have not been writing at home, being too (am)bushed from grading essays and creating lesson plans. This long weekend is meant to rejuvenate me enough to finish out the year and to get Something accomplished.

I have pulled up my Hamlet Choose Your Own Adventure manuscript. Not too much dust resting on it. I diligently worked on it all morning. I now have hit the wall. When that clock reads “1 PM” I have hit my creative capacity. I am not much good after sitting down four or five hours. I’m hungering for a walk. Either that or some chocolate. I better put on my shoes.

*update: I did both by stopping at the front desk to buy M&Ms to eat while I walked. Multitasking at its best.

 

 

Why We Say: #23


With this being a leap year I thought it appropriate to spotlight some jumping words and phrases.

“Jump the Gun”

Jim Bob tolerated the good-natured ribbing from the crew when he showed up to school wearing shorts and a cutoff tank top. “Hey, Jimmy Boy, are you jumping the gun about the weather? It indicated the sun poking out today–not a heat wave.”

It appears our hero anticipated raging temperatures suitable for summer. His wishful thinking reflects on the runner who anticipated running down the track to victory and started out before the official fired off a blank cartridge to start off the race.

image: morguefile/marykbaird 

Kangaroo

“I say, captain, what is that strange animal over there.”

“Which one? This country is full of odd animals.”

“That one that hoppitys about with a baby popping out its middle.”

“Oh–that animal.  Hmm, go see what you can get from that native chap, over there.”

A few minutes later.

All I could figure out is he said something to the likes of kanga roo.”

“Sounds like a fitting name. Write that one down. Let’s go exploring some more.”

 

Captain Cook and his crew probably didn’t have this exact conversation, but I imagine something similar occurred. Apparently when he asked what the big hopping critter was called, the aboriginal native said “kangaroo” which actually  means “I don’t know.” Makes sense. I don’t know how that baby stays put in the pouch as momma kanga goes bouncing around either.

image: morguefile/wallyir

Happy Leap Year!

 

Bonus: there is a cow scene

 

Breaking Out


December 19th is a happy day for several reasons:
1. Christmas Break begins as soon as I turn the key on my classroom door.
2. I’m invited to the library staff Christmas party (being a trustee has it’s perks)
3. The next time I enter my classroom it’ll be a new year, meaning we’ve turned the corner and we’ll be heading towards June graduation.
4. Because the 20th is when our very own kinder plus the wunderkind begin arriving for Christmas.
5. I will not be grading papers and don’t have to create lesson plans, although I might fuss and dabble with the ones I have ready to go for January.
6. My room is prepped ready to be painted over break, transforming it from bowl-of-oatmeal-blah-grayish taint to contemporary calming tan and teal.
7. I anticipate two weeks of napping, reading, exercising, visiting, snacking, writing, celebrating a joyous season, and overall relaxing.

I’m contemplating some serious Shakespeare reading–I have a mungo long TBR list of background bio books on the Bard. I’ve a hankering to write a middle grade novel about Wm. Shakespeare, something that will fetch up some interest in him prior to forced readings of his plays in middle school and high school–something that will pique their interest. To go where no author has gone before with the Bard. I know, that’s a tall order for two weeks.

I’m also considering revisiting former reads such The Hobbit and then watch the film adaptation.

I might also start a series I’ve never encountered before. Mystery? Adventure? Sci-fi? Historical? So many options. Any suggestions?

Of course, I could do a thorough scrubbing of my writing and edit and revise and market and well, that sounds an awful like work and aren’t I supposed to be relaxing?
Whatever I decide to do, I want you all to know I appreciate your comments, views, likes, and follows. I hope to end out the year with 25,000 views and a 1000 followers.

Happy joyful season of friends, family, feasting, and most of all, thanks for the Star of Bethlehem.

Of Entry Deadlines Whooshing By


Scrolling through my iPhone notes, I came across a bit of writing that I had good intentions of entering into a writing contest. Oops. That Vonnegut deadline whoosh went by me, but I like the piece so much I couldn’t resist sharing it. The contest required the telling of a story in dialogue only, without any tags. Challenge accepted, just not actualized. Here goes:
“Do you need some help?”
“Seems I’ve twisted my ankle.I’ll be all right. My friends are returning with the car.”
“I’m going in that direction. I’ll take you to when you’re staying.”
“That’s all right. They should be along shortly.”
“Those clouds indicate a change in the weather.”
“Yes, I think you’re right. Are you sure it’s no trouble?”
“None at all.”
“Thank you for your help.”
“You’re welcome. You’re American?”
“Yes, I’m visiting with friends. We’re on a hiking tour.”
“Yes, I’ve often hiked this area. You must have stepped in a rabbit hole.”
“Probably so. This is a bit awkward. I don’t quite know what to say.”
“Ah, we are addressing the elephant after all, then.”
“Oh, right. Yes, well…”
“I’m on holiday. There is no obligation.”
“Courtesy and good manners at least.
“And they say Americans are rude.”
“Not always.”
“How is the ankle?”
“Truthfully, I’ve forgotten about it. It doesn’t look like a bad sprain. I’ll recover.”
“Ice and elevation. I’m no physician, but I’ve dealt with a few twisted ankles. The men folk do their fair share of traipsing these hills on their hunts. Do you hunt?”
“Only with my camera.
“Much preferable, though I still appreciate the hunt. Tradition. It’s difficult to get away from tradition.”
“That’s my group. Up ahead, yes, over there by those trees. Looks like they’ve stopped for lunch.”
“Are you up to walking? I can set you closer to your camp.”
“Yes, well. The ankle is still a bit tender.”
“Then it’s best I drive you to your camp.”
“Only if it wouldn’t be an inconvenience. Thank you. That would be appreciated.”
“Is that it, by those cars?”
“Yes. Well, thank you once again.”
“Enjoy your stay and I hope you have a full recovery.”
“Thank you, Your Majesty.”

 

 

 

Just Another Smalltown Fourth of July


 

small-town-parade

image: writeonnewjersey.com. I don’t live in New Jersey, but a small town parade sings across America

Another perk of living in a small town is the Fourth of July celebration. The day starts off with the town parade. It starts at 9 am, rain or shine, and concludes around 10 am, depending on where you are sitting. There are options with this  parade: watch or participate. I’ve done both several times. Both forms are fun. The past couple of years though, watching is much more my style.

In the past, I’ve hauled the kids and bikes to participate in our church’s parade theme entry. I think that year was patriotic. We dressed up in red, white, and blue and I attached the tandem bike trailer so the youngest progeny could ride with his mum. Flag waving, crepe paper streaming, and cycling along made for a great Kodak moment.

Another time (actually a couple of times) I marched with a group of teachers with our signs signifying our thanks to the community. I am blessed to live in a school district where parents and the school board actually love teachers. When I march along with my compadres I usually bring along my bubble wands and make a spectacle of myself. True, I am not the usual English teacher.

After the parade it’s breaking out the BBQ. Past years involve family or church get togethers. Since we are now empty-nesters and the chickadees have flown, a twosome BBQ just doesn’t hold the fun factor like a full out group gaggle. And we admittedly have become rather hermitish in our ways and avoid the big organized ta-dos. I do try to make a special supper, even if it means hauling the plates outside to eat al fresco.

I do love a good pyrotechnics extravaganza so I drag the MEPA out at night for the fireworks down at the beach. Looonnngg ago we would grab our blanket, chairs, and snacks and huddle with our group among the masses. Now as E-nesters we skulk among the secret backsides of buildings and empty lots to feast on the fireworks from afar so we can scoot out before the crowd disperses. The fireworks traffic tangle afterwards always lasts twice as long as the show so making a clean getaway involves strategy.

Somehow once the Fourth of July hits it seems like summer has really begun.

How about y’all? What are your memorable aspects for the Fourth?

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