asakiyume: (feathers on the line)
Went walking with the healing angel along the narrow causeways in the Ashley Reservoir in Holyoke. On one side of one causeway the water level was higher, so it was flowing through pipes to the other, lower side, and as it did, it was forming tiny whirlpools.

tiny whirlpools-parent and child

Here's a closeup on one--it's like a morning glory, and the reflected sun is a bright bee.

tiny whirlpool swallowing the sun
asakiyume: (feathers on the line)
Esmeralda Santiago is a writer I hadn't heard of before a couple of weeks ago, when J, one of the teachers at the educational program I volunteer with in Holyoke, said she was coming to give a talk at Holyoke Community College. "I was hoping you could talk her up in your creative writing session and get some of the students to come."

He handed me the sheet on her, and wow:

Esmeralda Santiago grew up in Toa Baja, Puerto Rico in a one-room shack with a dirt floor and tin roof. Her family moved to New York when she was thirteen years old. The eldest of eleven, Esmeralda learned English from children’s books in a Brooklyn library. A teacher encouraged her to audition for Performing Arts High School, where she majored in drama and dance. After eight years of part-time study at community colleges, Esmeralda transferred to Harvard University with a full scholarship and graduated Magna Cum Laude in 1976. Shortly after graduation, she and her husband Frank Cantor founded CANTOMEDIA, a film and media production company that has won numerous awards for excellence in educational and documentary filmmaking. With the publication of her first memoir When I was Puerto Rican, the Washington Post hailed Esmeralda as “a welcome new voice, full of passion and authority.” Her first novel, America's Dream, has been published in six languages and made into a movie by executive producer Edward James Olmos. Her second memoir, Almost a Woman, received an Alex Award from the American Library Association, and was made into a Peabody-award winning movie for PBS Masterpiece Theatre’s “American Collection.”


It gets long )

The people from my class who went--three women (one in her late 20s, one in her 40s, and one in her 60s) and one man (in his 30s), all Puerto Rican--loved the talk, and I did too. And I felt a swirl of gratitude and pride, pride because if I hadn't persuaded them to come, they wouldn't have gotten to, and gratitude, because if it wasn't for their coming, I wouldn't have probably gone.

It was a Good Experience.


Esmeralda Santiago
(photo source: centerforfiction.org)
asakiyume: (squirrel eye star)
A student said one of the best things in class today. People were sharing stories they'd been told when they were young, and she recalled being at her grandparents' house during a thunderstorm. It was dark--no power--and it was thundering and the lightning was flashing, and all the kids were scared, and her grandfather said about the lightning, "Don't be scared--it's just the astronauts taking pictures."

The lightning flashes were the flashes from the astronauts' cameras.

Isn't that the best?
asakiyume: (good time)
Last week's prompt for the students in Holyoke was "This cat is very strange ..." I did a couple of illustrations to go with some students' descriptions:

This cat looks like a dog. The cat ears are hanging to the floor, has a long tail but the cat skin is red and blue.

Then there was this cat:

I was in the park and I seen a cat with three eyes looking at a bird.

What did you think when you saw this three-eyed cat?

He has a better chance of catching the bird! LOL

A few students were suspicious of black cats, though when I asked one if black cats were bad luck, she said,
No, cats are not bad luck, they just cats. They are good of seeing ghosts around, though.

When looking for an image to illustrate that woman's writing, I found this fun story about Sable, the crossing-guard cat, who comes out every day to watch the kids safely cross the street to school in the morning and leaving school in the afternoon.

Sable has been watching over the students from across the street for about a year. Tamara Morrison owns the cat. She says one day, Sable just walked outside to greet the students, and he's been doing it ever since ... [Tamara] has now bought a safety vest for Sable to make him an honorary member of the Enterprise Safety Patrol.

asakiyume: (feathers on the line)





A wise old woman gives you an item. She says it is very valuable. Why is it valuable?

Here are five items and eight interesting answers to the question: A wise old woman give you an item.

Excerpts:

From Victor:

The old wise woman I seen at an antique shop came and told me what is it that I seek in her sanctuary of wisdom and knowledge. I said to her that I am seeking a lock to protect stuff I put away.

From Reniell:

One day I was walking down the street, and this lady walk up and said, “Here, have this. I can see that this item call to you.”

From Leshiara:

she wanted to share this beautiful shellfish with me cause she probably seen in me that she didn’t see in anyone else.

From Mario:

She said some magic words, Azarack Meteron Zinthos, as the gold started to glow.
asakiyume: (snow bunting)
In the creative writing workshop I'm doing, I did a version of "what is taller, higher, softer, smaller?" Some of the answers are beautiful. You can read all of them here, but here are a few highlights:

As quiet as a fish, moths, smoke (Victor D)
I'm not brave enough killing spider (Lilliana)
I am empty like a cup of juice when I drink it (Abraham)


(photo of smoke by Nur Uretmen: Source)

And I promised to link to some of the stories they'd written, too. This one is written by Victor M, who's not as old as the man pictured, but getting up in years--I feel like he had real empathy for the man in the photo: "Remembering his youth."

Laly said she picked this photo because the woman reminded her of her grandmother: "Waiting on her food."

(Laly wrote a moving piece on being transgender and choosing her own name, here.)

Yamayra liked that the couple in the photo she chose were dancing in the kitchen.

Enjoy!


asakiyume: (man on wire)
Two posts in one day? Why not!

Wakanomori took me to Holyoke's secret stream, which runs beneath Interstate 91. There's a park there, but these boys preferred the actual stream (so did a chipmunk and an oriole I saw).

Holyoke's secret stream

kids playing in the secret stream

At one end of the present-day park is a closed roadway that leads up into an overgrown, abandoned park. If you climb up and up, you reach this tower that looks like it took its design cues from rude graffiti:

phallic tower

You can climb up a literally falling-apart concrete spiral staircase on the inside of the, uh, shaft, and up top there is a glorious view of the surrounding countryside. Which I didn't take a picture of! I was too busy recovering from the hair-raising ascent. Fortunately, Wakanomori took a picture. He also obliged me by taking pictures of the words of wisdom inscribed there, and of some of the community-created artwork at the base of the tower.

View of Mt. Tom in nearby Easthampton

Mt Tom (Wakanomori's photo)

Wisdom

wisdom (wakanomori's photo)

Art

artwork (wakanomori's shot)

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