Pam Webb

a writer's journey as a reader

Archive for the tag “birthdays”

Ya Dah!

Monday marked the closure of my teaching career. A rounded off twenty years of teaching: 19 in the classroom with 1 year as the credit recovery coordinator.

Our school holds a retirement breakfast and each principal or supervisor says a few words about their retiring staff member before handing over a handsome plaque. My principal did say a few nice words then stumped me with an obscure Shakespeare quote. With a reputation as the resident Bardinator he must have thought I would be able to quote what play it hailed from. If I had known there was going to be a pop quiz I would have studied the night before.

WHEREOF WHAT’S PAST IS PROLOGUE; WHAT TO COME, IN YOURS AND MY DISCHARGE. —The Tempest, 2.1 (missed this one, so distracted by Ariel and Caliban)

Our vice-principal, who handles most of the disciplinary issues, decided a mild roasting was in order. He declared me the most prolific behavior referral writer among the staff, keeping him busy (isn’t this called job security?) and handed me “Webb’s Greatest Hits”—a thirteen page document of all my discipline referrals over my classroom tenure. (Isn’t this just doing my job with dedicated zeal for behavior modification?)

Post breakfast meant turning in my phone, keys, and final farewells. Being homeless, since another teacher was moving into room with gusto, I left. Basically my teaching career ended before 10 am. That’s a ponderful thought: you can take away a teacher’s room but there is always room for teachers.

I spent the rest of the day reading, napping, finding a place to put away my accumulation of classroom stuff acquired over 20 years. That’s a very different post.

Over the past week people kept asking how it felt to be retiring. I had a different reply depending on the day. After all, it wasn’t over until my grades and keys were turned in. On this last day, the reality of leaving the career I inadvertently was herded into washed over me when a former student, now our study hall supervisor found me after the breakfast and said, “I’m sad you’re leaving. I’m happy for your retirement, but sad you’re leaving.” Yes, that’s exactly how I feel as well.

As how to spend the first day of retirement? It’s my birthday—so I’ll do whatever I want. It’s Flag Day to boot!

Happy retirement! Happy Birthday! Happy Flag Day!

This is an extra special birthday
Happy Flag Day!

Bard Bits: Belated Birthday

I was fully aware of Shakespeare’s birthday last Saturday. In fact, I duly noted the event by checking out the Globe Theater’s production of Julius Caesar.

2015 version at the New Globe

I also noted that the library has added to its collection a variety of Shakespeare productions. A present of presentations.

In May my sophomore students will begin their unit in studying Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar. My teaching approach is to include a bit of historical background in order for them to understand why:

a)Shakespeare wrote the play (Queen Elizabeth I had no named heir and the kingdom could be thrown into chaos)
b)the main character dies in the third act (is Caesar the main character?)

Prior to the Globe’s 2015 production the only available version was Charlton Heston’s epic film where Jason Robards plays an overly stoic Brutus. Even I dreaded the Julius Caesar unit having to show this verson

Then along came the Globe’s filmed HD production. Whew! Students were able to experience watching the play as a live audience watched the play. Seeing the audience participation absolutely helps students in better understanding Shakespeare’s lines. Until the Globe’s production, it was difficult for students to understand that the tragedy of Julius Caesar was imbued with humor. My students realized that they could laugh even though tragedy was prevalent and Shakespeare intended his audience to laugh to break the tension. He knew how to sell tickets. His plays have plenty of the mainstays found in Elizabethan life: life/death, love/hate, food/sexual repartee and humor in the face of the tragic.

The Globe’s version has the traditional opening of Marcellus and Flavius chastising the plebeians for celebrating Julius Caesar’s triumph and the actors play up the punnery and rivalry between the classes quite well by interacting with the audience. Billy Bard would no doubt be pleased.

From the lively opening the play revolves around the conspiracy towards Caesar. And this Caesar has a bit of acerbic wit. He knows how to lance his speech with tone when presenting his lines.

This Caesar knows how to roll out the wit when needed

The usually dour Brutus even gets a laugh when reading the fake news that Cassius slips into his windowsill.

Nothing breaks the tension like a clog tapping poet when Cassius and Brutus are at odds while camped at Sardis.

What’s really noteworthy about this production is that the actors were Elizabethan garb under their togas. This provides more authenticity as they are dressed more in the style found in Shakespeare’s day.

Bromance squabbles are awkward

Overall, a thumbs up production.

Happy belated birthday, Shakespeare.

It’s Flag Day (and my birthday!)

Flag Day commemorates the adoption of the Betsy Ross flag design. It was much later in life that I realized that the flags all over town were not specifically in recognition of my birthday.

A Birthday Reflection or What Happens When a Picture Book Debuts During a Pandemic?

Happy Birthday, Book!

One year ago on April 7th, Someday We Will debuted ready to greet the world with its message of the joy that comes with anticipating a visit with those we love, especially visits with grandparents.

As the book popped out ready to make the rounds of library story hour, school visits, bookstore events, the world closed its doors. Visits of any kind became questionable. One year later visits are still questionable and promotional visits are simply not happening, at least not yet in person.

So–how does a new author promote a debut book when the traditional methods are not readily available?

Well, it takes a bit of creative flair for certain.

For one, since the local library was closed to gatherings, such as story hour (still is) and local schools were on in person hiatus until fall, and the local bookstore was closed to large events (still is,) I hosted a virtual launch party. If you missed it, I’ve decided to have a Relaunch Birthday Party. I must say it is easy to organize. Baking massive amounts of cupcakes has never been easier. Go ahead and click here and grab a cupcake and sign the guest book.

The next steps involved contacting as many publications as possible ranging from the local newspaper and magazines to AARP to my alumni newsletters. I contacted reviewers such as Susanna Leonard Hill. I received some decent promotional splash in that area.

I then moved on to creating a virtual story time on YouTube and discovered other individuals had done the same. Serendipity had its moments.

Social media continued with blog posts and learning Instagram.

Word of mouth, friends, giveaways–yes, all of that.

After a year of watching and waiting and checking and continuing to promote, today I am reflecting on how pleased I am that my debut is holding its own among the other splashier releases. I have received kind and glowing feedback on Goodreads and on Amazon and my publisher, Beaming Books provided support and encouragement along the way.

I remain hopeful of celebrating the transition of “Someday we will…” to the “Someday is here!” moment when all is safe again for visits with loved ones, and traveling is no longer cautionary.

I look forward to story times, and book signings. A book debut during tenuous times has taught me to be even more tenacious and persuasive and creative about sharing my book with others.

I think it’s a great little debut, and I hope you think so too.

Don’t forget to grab a cupcake on the way out.

Colorful happy birthday cupcakes Stock Photo by RuthBlack | PhotoDune

Want a signed copy of the book? Easy. Contact me through my email: and let me know where you purchased your copy of Someday We Will and I will send you a signed bookplate.

Psst–did you sign my guest book?

Bard Bits: March

One month to go until we celebrate William Shakespeare’s birthday or reflect upon his death. Tough call since Shakespeare was born/died on the same day–supposedly April 23. Which way to acknowledge that auspicious day? Rejoice in his birth? Remorse of his death?

“Shakespeare. When will there come another?”
Thank Antony for the paraphrase

Shakespeare shares this notable event known as the “birthday effect” with other famous folk such as the painter Raphael (April 6), Ingrid Bergman (August 29), Grant Wood (February 13), known for the painting, American Gothic, and Corrie Ten Boom (April 15).

Image result for Shakespeare's Birthplace
Shakespeare’s birthplace in Stratford-Upon-Avon
Don’t mess with the Bard’s bones

Born/died in 1616, the year marks of 2020 marks the 404 for William. It is appropriate that April is designated National Poetry Month, since Shakespeare perfected the sonnet, churning out some 154 of the iambic pentameter driven contributions to poetry and reflective muse.

While most Shakespeare aficionados and fans are content with being titled as Bardolators, I have chosen Bardinator since the difference is being a bit more determined to keep returning to understand his work–yeah, it is similar to a certain movie icon who keeps up with that line of “I’ll be back.” I teach Shakespeare, I relish his genius with words, yet I don’t like all his works (especially those with pies). I do want to keep returning to understand his wit and expertise with turning a phrase. After ten plus years of teaching Hamlet to high school students I am still discovering aspects of the play that just absolutely make me jump up and down with excitement. And yes, my students do wonder how I get so involved with Shakespeare. Even the Muppets appreciate Shakespeare.

Stay tuned for more Bard Bits as his birthday approaches…

Shakespeare Celeb: Birthday Condolences

Image result for shakespeare's 400th birthday

One of those learned Shakespeare facts to pull out to impress students is that he died on his birthday. They think that fact is weird and cool. I used to think Mark Twain died on his birthday as well. Turns out I was wrong. He came into the world with Halley’s Comet and left when it reappeared. Now, that is a weird and cool fact that gets my attention.

According to Mental Floss, there is a phenomena known as The Birthday Effect.  Apparently a person has a 14 percent higher chance of dying on his or her birthday. The Swiss did a study in 2012, so it must be true. This probably isn’t a planned event, at least it’s hoped not. That would be a terrible closure to a birthday party. It’s conjectured that Shakespeare partied a bit too “merrily” with his chums and succumbed to a fever. Watch out for combining ale and pickled herring. Or at least check the expiration date on the herring.

Image result for pickled herring

April 23, 1616. This is both Shakespeare’s birthday and day of passing, making him 403 years old. There isn’t much of a to-do at 403, but his 400th birthday was a world wide event. Stopping to think about it, if you celebrate his birthday you are also celebrating his death. I don’t think Hallmark makes a birthday condolence card. Yet. On a lighter consideration, Shakespeare does share this Birthday Effect with some other notables. Maybe this is a condolence of sorts, that he shares his birthday/deathday with a few other famous folk:


corrie ten boom

Corrie Ten Boom-Holocaust survivor

Grant Wood-painter of the American Gothic

Ingrid Bergman–actress

Poet Appreciation #8: William Shakespeare

*Gasp* Billy Bard is celebrating his 450th birthday on the 23rd. I advise those attending the birthday party to stick to the crumpets and steer clear of the kippers, as they didn’t do ol’ William any good at his own birthday din celeb.

Would William be surprised to know how many Bardinators there are coasting about due to his most marvelous ability with words, wit, and retrofitting old tales into something more appealing?  Probably.  Ben Jonson knew his contemporary, and somewhat rival was “a man for all time.”

What better way to say “Happy Birthday, Bill!” than with a couple of his sonnets.

First, the Mona Lisa of his career:


Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day? 
Thou art more lovely and more temperate:
Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,
And summer’s lease hath all too short a date: 
Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines,
And often is his gold complexion dimm’d; 
And every fair from fair sometime declines,
By chance, or nature’s changing course, untrimm’d;
But thy eternal summer shall not fade
Nor lose possession of that fair thou ow’st;
Nor shall Death brag thou wander’st in his shade,
When in eternal lines to time thou grow’st; 
So long as men can breathe or eyes can see,
So long lives this, and this gives life to thee


Who hasn’t heard this lovely tribute of admiration? No matter how many years I’ve taught it to high school students they still “get it” and appreciate the trick ending of the couplet.  That’s what I like about Wm’s wit: it’s subtle and winking.  I think he’s winking right now as it’s being read. I’ll let Michael York recite it for you.  He gets it for sure, this is a loving tribute (don’t get shook up about it being for a man, like my freshmen do–this was supposedly to William S.’s patron, the guy who paid the bills so Wm could keep writing. Is that any different from dedicating a song or book to an agent, sibling, parent, or editor?)

Another tribute sonnet is perhaps not as complimentary, yet I think it showcases Shakespeare’s ability to take the accepted medium and poke fun at how poets tended to extol too vigorously the glories of a person, thus rendering him or her to be removed from humanity–it’s difficult to climb down off a pedestal that’s built too high. This particular sonnet at first sounds like a bash session; however, after a step back moment, it’s clear to see Shakespeare extols the real beauty of his love.  He loves this woman, warts–that is, frizzy hair, and all.


My mistress’ eyes are nothing like the sun;
Coral is far more red than her lips’ red;
If snow be white, why then her breasts are dun;
If hairs be wires, black wires grow on her head.
I have seen roses damask’d, red and white,
But no such roses see I in her cheeks; 
And in some perfumes is there more delight
Than in the breath that from my mistress reeks.
I love to hear her speak, yet well I know
That music hath a far more pleasing sound;
I grant I never saw a goddess go;
My mistress, when she walks, treads on the ground:
   And yet, by heaven, I think my love as rare
   As any she belied with false compare.

This video captures the satire of those mushy sonnets while intones the general attitude of love.  Alan Rickman and typography mash up at its best.  Wouldn’t you want Alan Rickman reciting a sonnet to you?  Check yes.



These are only a drop in the sonnet bucket.  Wills wrote 150 sonnets, far more than the 38 plays we know to be roaming about.  So why do we mostly associate him with being a playwright than a poet?  According to many historical sources, he considered himself to be more of a poet than a playwriter. Hmm, it’s easier to turn a play into a film than a sonnet, I suppose.

Once again, Happy Birthday, William!



A Moment of Clarity


Having recently celebrated a birthday of significant numerals, I have been somewhat reflective these days. I have come to the conclusion I must start acting my age. The problem being which age? Do I heed the one I feel kicking about inside–the one that says, “Yes, enjoy the playground and blow bubbles and laugh too loud in public and wear retro dresses from the thrift shop because you are forever young and who gives a flip what other people think.” OR do I succumb to that other voice that whispers, “You are older now and should relish your experiences, the ones that allow you to reminisce your memories and mistakes. You’ve been there, done that, yet realize there is so much more to do. And, no, a woman of your age should definitely not be wearing that out in public.”

It’s confusing, I tell you.

Not that I want to start a heated discussion, but here it is: older men get away with it. You’ve seen them. They drive their Mustang convertibles, silver hair wafting in the breeze or wear Hawaiian shirts, shorts, and Birkenstocks with a greying ponytail, or they are the guys hooting it up at the theme park and their family obviously adores them because they don’t act their age.

If women express their youthful desires the world does not turn a kindly eye as readily. Face it, we don’t want moms being silly. Carol Burnett got away with it, true.

As I reflect upon my recent birthday of significance and contemplate role models I, of course, turn to book heroines. Two come to mind: Miss Rumphius and Mrs. Pollifax.

Miss Rumphius book cover

Miss Rumphius book cover (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Miss Rumphius and I share three common interests:  we have both worked in libraries, have both lived by the sea, and both want to make the world a more beautiful place. She represents the woman who ages gracefully, yet has that bit about her that doesn’t quite follow the pattern of societal expectations.

Then there is the wild adventuresome side I tend to embrace. You go, Mrs. Pollifax.

elusive mrs. pollifax

elusive mrs. pollifax (Photo credit: cdrummbks)

Mrs. Pollifax has skills. She has chutzpah. She has found a way late in life to still have adventure. How wonderful to possess all that and still be able to wear the right hat for the right occasion. What I most like about Mrs. Pollifax is her resourcefulness and her ability to find a way to make sticky situations work. Although I don’t feel I need to be a CIA spy to add a bit of spice to my life, I do relish the idea of others realizing that a bit of greying does not mean decaying is taking place.

So, all that being said I have decided I should at least try to act a bit more my age and have started with my blog header. Gone is the flirty skirt, lean legs, and painted nails of the youth that regales within, and instead I have replaced it with a more staid vision of the mature woman contemplating her reading. I’m not sure a new header is going to head off my penchant to fly kites, play hide-and-go-seek, and wear polka dots.

Chocolate Fortune Cookies

This week is one of celebrations: school is out for the year (Yay!); I celebrated a double-digit birthday of significance (Nice!); and the blog rolled out 3,000 hits, 70 followers, and 65 posts (Way Cool!).  This calls for dark chocolate.

My MEPA (most excellent personal assistant) spoils me by providing dark chocolate when I most need it: when I’m stressed and when I’m happy.  Not any dark chocolate, mind you, the best dark chocolate.  Bars are now in the past, lately my favorite brand comes out in bag style with individually wrapped morsels awaiting tasting and savoring.  The chocolate part is gratifying; however the best part is that each wrapper offers a profound, even witty saying–basically I’m partaking in chocolate fortune cookies.  Yummmm…

Here are my favorites so far:

  • Chocolate therapy is “Oh, so good.”
  • Stir your sense of pleasure
  • Be the first to hit the dance floor
  • Take time to notice the color of the leaves changing
  • Those who bring sunshine to the lives of others cannot keep it from themselves.
  • Your smile is your best accessory.
  • Stop and enjoy the chocolate aroma.
  • Remember the simple pleasures in life.
  • All you really need is love, and a little chocolate doesn’t hurt!
  • The more you praise and celebrate your life, the more there is in life to celebrate.
  • Renew your sense of discovery.
  • It’s OK to be fabulous AND flawed!
  • Feel free to be yourself.
  • Chocolate speaks the international language of love.
  • Life is good.
An added bonus of this chocolate therapy is if I buy two more specially marked bags I will receive a movie ticket.  Dark chocolate and the movies–almost as good as a book and my hammock.

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