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For the past six weeks or so, I’ve been taking a course to further my journey toward becoming a certified English teacher. “Methods of Teaching Secondary English” is a required course for teachers in Maine. For the class final project, we were assigned to design a lesson plan that is “original, inspired (or inspiring) and presented using some type of technology, which might be out of the comfort zone of the author.” I am not accustomed to making videos or movies of myself using iMovie or Youtube, other than the occasional cat video that I make in my living room. (Note: I never subject others to these little movies about whatever funny thing my cat did. I think the Internet has plenty of these gems without my contribution.)

First, I had to learn how to use iMovie. I started by calling my best friend, who seems to know all things related to whatever issue I’m having on my Mac. Then, I watched tutorials on Youtube, started practice filming for a different assignment earlier on in the course. I made the dorkiest iMovie, trust me, including action shot of me, weeding my garden as a metaphor for how English teachers have to cultivate the “constant gardener,” or “constant writer,” in their classrooms. Then I set up a Vimeo account, which was fairly easy. I may be the last person to do this (have you done this yet?) Next, I had to edit my iMovie, patching together many, many pieces of footage, or “clips,” and record voice-overs for certain parts, attempting to sound professional without sounding like the authoritative Catholic school nun from the 1980 “Blues Brothers,” scolding my audience, well, without the ruler.

Screen Shot 2016-08-12 at 5.33.38 PM

I made a video for my final project. I designed an original lesson plan called, “The Writers Cafe.” Also, I had to do a rain-dance in my dining room, wait patiently for 22 hours while the video uploaded to Vimeo and “converted,” whatever that meant. It was such a long wait that I thought I had done something wrong. And I had selected the “high” quality resolution but not the best quality/professional resolution. I made it with the recent-most version of iMovie on my MacBook Pro. So far I have received some great feedback from my instructor and classmates on my lesson plan. The video is no longer available for viewing.

In the middle of the heat wave in Maine, I’m under the gun with a deadline at work…and grateful for air conditioning in my writing room. Since starting the new job, I haven’t had much time (if any) to write for myself, except for journal entries. Even then, it’s practically forced.  Regular swims break up the long hours at my desk doing the graphic design lay-out and provide relief from the heat. So do pineapple coconut popsicles. Today I’m editing at my desk with my feet in a large pail of ankle-deep water. Lovely. Why didn’t I think of doing this before?

Recently I received a set-back in the form of a rejection from a publisher on my poetry manuscript. Serious bummer. I’ve always had a thick skin though especially with rejection (at least, with writing). Laughed it off over dinner with a friend and went to see a comedy–“Heat” with Melissa McCarthy and Sandra Bullock. As my dad would say, it delivers a few good belly laughs, even though the plot is fairly predictable. It’s probably better with a margarita in hand.

NewGlassesDG

Just got new eye glasses and very pleased:  they make me feel like I’ve got my mojo back from 10 years ago. I can’t explain it but they’ve put a little pep in my step. The eye glass technician who fitted the glasses onto my face introduced himself like this: “Hello. I am Wolfgang, the opera singer.”  Wolfgang Liese belonged to the Washington National Opera.  Apparently this is his ‘retirement position,’ as he used to own a business called, “Classical Eyewear,” long ago. He’s probably close to 70. I told him about my blog on classical music inspired by wetlands. He sang the lead in “The Marriage of Figaro.”  He continued in a strong (German?) accent, “When I was born, Christ bestowed a gift upon me. I have the rare ability to look at a woman and know exactly what she needs and wants. For you…” (he stared at my face intently, heating up the frames of my new glasses, then cooled them and put them on my face) “…you are perfect.” This was an unusual eye glass fitting, let me tell you. And there were two pairs to fit (and replace my unfortunate glasses that I wore for 4 years.) Hurrah! Ironically, the Jimmy Choo sea green pair (not pictured) came in a white snakeskin, I’m assuming faux, case. (I didn’t pick this out.) Year of the Water Snake? Ah, I’m dreading my post on Strange Wetlands about the Northern Water Snakes making a serious come-back as a species in Maine, by the way.

If you’re fumbling around for the right writing routine, read this blog post by Maria Popova on the Daily Routines of Famous Writers. I liked it. Perhaps Hemingway invented the stand-up desk. Does anyone know if that’s true? If so, leave a comment. Stay cool, kitties.

imagesAs luck would have it…

hemingway-and-gelhornI’m a little excited about this serendipitous turn of events at my local library tonight. I took a box of books to donate. Since I haven’t been able to write creatively for months, I thought I better clear away some distracting clutter. This includes donating old clothes to Good Will, a 1986 Volvo to Maine Public Radio’s Car Talk program and a bunch of books to the local library.  While there, I wandered over to glance at the summer book sale that they were just beginning to sort. Genres mixed together, a real free-for-all. I was the sole patron and started to talk with the librarian as she sorted. All my recent obsessive fantasies about Hemingway and Gellhorn came out, the film, how I’d hunted down a copy of a collection of his short stories including, “The Snows of Kilimanjaro,” which he wrote while he was in love with Martha Gellhorn, etc. She was a war correspondent and travel writer, well-known and well-respected in her heyday. While I’m gabbing away about the 10 year relationship between Hemingway and Gellhorn, I ran my fingers over the spines of various books, looking up at the librarian. She asked me something, I stopped and fingered the cover of one vintage book, a dark cover, without a book jacket or image. It did not have the title on the front. I opened the book to the dedication page:

“This book is for Martha Gellhorn.”

I picked it up (!) and turned it over in my hands. It’s For Whom the Bell Tolls, by Hemingway, 1940.  It is said that Martha Gellhorn inspired For Whom the Bell Tolls.  The librarian thought it was “spooky” since it was the only Hemingway book in the whole library, to her knowledge, and I happened upon it at the moment I mentioned Martha Gellhorn. I can’t tell what edition it is, if it’s a first edition, or second, but it just has the 1940 date, which is when it was first published. This sort of thing has happened to me before. I once found a 1955 first edition of Rachel Carson’s “The Edge of the Sea” at the edge of a dump in Southwest Harbor and I salvaged it. It inspired me to take some dramatic action at the time. I take these sorts of things very personally as signs or omens the way some people interpret bird droppings. There is a John Donne quote on the opposite page facing pg. 1 of Chapter 1 starting with, “No man is an island…” which is one of my favorite lines of all time. Here is the John Donne quote that appears at the start of Hemingway’s novel:

No man is an island,
Entire of itself,
Every man is a piece of the continent,
A part of the main.
If a clod be washed away by the sea,
Europe is the less.
As well as if a promontory were.
As well as if a manor of thy friend’s
Or of thine own were:
Any man’s death diminishes me,
Because I am involved in mankind,
And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls;
It tolls for thee.

In finding this 1940 edition, I feel like I have a new crush, an infatuation with their words, an old story…their love story, their exchange of ideas, letters, writings and the energy between Hemingway, a Cancerian man, and Gellhorn, the war journalist and writer, a Scorpio, over the ten years they were together (as lovers and during their short marriage). It’s been a while since I’ve had a crush like this. It makes me happy and I feel inspired, too. Energized. I’m on a deadline, so I am pretty focused on the newsletter right now….but this happenstance puts a little more pep in my step!  If you’ve found a rare gem of a images-1vintage book, and it’s inspired you, leave a comment.

Leah

Poet. Artist. Ecoheroine. Human ecologist. Spiritual mermaid and Mystic. I write about literary ecology, wetlands, water, Romantic ecology, and quirky adventures with my dog.

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