Thursday, October 27, 2011

CELP (Catalina Environmental Leadership Program)

image from the Poseidon Academy field trip 24 October 2011

Poem of the week. "Tergvinder's Stone" by W. S. Merwin

Tergvinder's Stone

One time my friend Tergvinder brought a large round boulder into his living room. He rolled it up the steps with the help of some two-by-fours, and when he got it out into the middle of the room, where some people have coffee tables (though he had never had one there himself) he left it. He said that was where it belonged.

It is really a plain-looking stone. Not as large as Plymouth Rock by a great deal, but then it does not have all the claims of a big shaky promotion campaign to support. That was one of the things Tergvinder said about it. He made no claims at all for it, he said. It was other people who called it Tergvinder's Stone. All he said was that according to him it belonged there.

His dog took to peeing on it, which created a problem (Tergvinder had not moved the carpet before he got the stone to where he said it belonged). Their tomcat took to squirting it too. His wife fell over it quite often at first and it did not help their already strained marriage. Tergvinder said there was nothing to be done about it. It was in the order of things. That was a phrase he seldom employed, and never when he conceived that there was any room left for doubt.

He confided in me that he often woke in the middle of the night, troubled by the ancient, nameless ills of the planet, and got up quietly not to wake his wife, and walked through the house naked, without turning on any lights. He said that at such times he found himself listening, listening, aware of how some shapes in the darkness emitted low sounds like breathing, as they never did by day. He said he had become aware of a hole in the darkness in the middle of the living room, and out of that hole a breathing, a mournful dissatisfied sound of an absence waiting for what belonged to it, for something it had never seen and could not conceive of, but without which it could not rest. It was a sound, Tergvinder said, that touched him with fellow-feeling, and he had undertaken - oh, without saying anything to anybody - to assuage, if he could, that wordless longing that seemed always on the verge of despair. How to do it was another matter, and for months he had circled the problem, night and day, without apparently coming any closer to a solution. Then one day he had seen the stone. It had been there all the time at the bottom of his drive, he said, and he had never really seen it. Never recognized it for what it was. The nearer to the house he had got it, the more certain he had become. The stone had rolled into its present place like a lost loved one falling into arms that have long ached for it.

Tergvinder says that now on nights when he walks through the dark house he comes and stands in the living room doorway and listens to the peace in the middle of the floor. He knows it size, its weight, the touch of it, something of what is thought of it. He knows that it is peace. As he listens, some hint of that peace touches him too. Often, after a while, he steps down into the living room and goes and kneels beside the stone and they converse for hours in silence - a silence broken only by the sound of his own breathing.

W. S. Merwin


CRQs Gatsby chapter 6 and 7

English 11
Gatsby Chapter 6 and 7

While working on Gatsby in 1924, Fitzgerald wrote, “That’s the whole burden of this novel—the loss of illusions that give such color to the world so that you don’t care whether things are true or false as long as the partake of the magical glory.”
(from Brucoli’s preface to the novel)

When did Gatsby tell Nick his real background? Who was Cody? What was Gatsby’s relationship with him? Who was Ella Kaye? Where was Gastby really from?

Explain the visit by the party on horseback to Gatsby’s house. What is revealed by this incident? How do they treat Gatsby? Does he realize this? How does he respond? How does Nick describe it?

When the Buchanans actually go to a Gatsby party, how do things proceed? What’s up with the polo player comments? Why does Daisy give Tom a pencil and notebook?

Reread pages 116 and 117. Does Gatsby think you can repeat the past? In what sense? What does he seem to want from Daisy? What does Nick seem to think of this?

Why does Gatsby’s house go dark and silent rather suddenly? Why the change of staff?

Nick is invited to the Buchanan’s for another gathering in Chapter 7. How does this party proceed? The weather? Plans? Phone calls? Blessed Precious? Passing through the valley of ashes? Significance of what is taking place in the ballroom below? Biloxi? “The transition from libertine to prig”?

“Oh you want too much!” Who says this and what does it mean?

Why is the car arrangement important in this chapter?

How is the accident scene revealed? By whom? What happened?

CRQs Gatsby chapter5

English 11
Gatsby ch. 5

While working on Gatsby in 1924, Fitzgerald wrote, “That’s the whole burden of this novel—the loss of illusions that give such color to the world so that you don’t care whether things are true or false as long as the partake of the magical glory.”

1) Describe Gatsby’s plan to finally meet Daisy. What does Gatsby offer in exchange for his participation? How does Nick feel about this?

2)“He had passed visibly through two states and was entering upon a third” (97). Who is described here? What two states? What is the third?

3)What is up with the shirts? Why is Daisy crying?

4) “His count of enchanted objects had diminished by one” (98). At what point does Nick make this judgement? Why? What does this mean? Is this a happy moment or sad?

5) Who is Ewing Klipspringer? What’s he doing here? What song does he play?

6) “ . . . not through her own fault . . . . It had gone beyond her, beyond everything”(101). What is not her own fault? What is this passage about? What is the antecedent for the pronount “It”? Is this related to question #4? If so, how?

CRQs Gatsby chapter 4

English 11
Gatsby Chapter 4

Explain the description of Gatsby’s car. “Everybody had seen it,” Nick says. What does this suggest?

How well does Nick know Gatsby at this point (page 68)?

What is unusual about the way Gatsby tells Nick about his life? What are some of the significant details?

Who is Meyer Wolfsheim? Why does he appear in the text? About whom do we learn something when we meet Wolfsheim?

What story does Jordan tell on page 79-83? Why does the story go back to 1917? What missing pieces of the story are being filled in here?

On page 83, Nick asserts, “It was a strange coincidence.” Jordan tells him, “But it wasn’t a coincidence at all.” What are they talking about? Why does Jordan think it wasn’t a coincidence? Where did she learn this? What does Gatsby want Nick to do?

CRQs Gatsby chapter 3

Engish 11

Gatsby Chapter 3

Describe the preparations for Gatsby’s party.

Nick, who claims he resists the temptation to judge people, describes differences between himself an other party guests. What distinctions does he describe? What status does he claim for himself?

Who is “owl eyes”? Where do Nick and Jordan find him? What is he doing? Why does he care about this?

Describe the way in which Nick first meets Gatsby.

Explain Gatsby’s smile. How is it described? What powers does it seem to have?

“Anyhow he gives large parties,” said Jordan, changing the subject with an urban distaste for the concrete. “And I like large parties. They’re so intimate. At small parties there isn’t any privacy” (54). Is this a paradox? What is a paradox? What does Jordan mean?

Who is told that she should ‘sing the notes on her face’? Describe the scene in which this appears. It’s after two in the morning and Jordan has gone to talk to Gatsby. What does Nick see during this waiting period?

Owl Eyes appears again outside Gatsby’s house after the party has broken up. What happens? Why is the conversation hard to follow?

Nick concludes the chapter with a narrative intrusion in which he “reads over” what he has “written so far” (60). What is revealed in this passage? About him? About Jordan Baker?

Thursday, October 20, 2011

poem of the week (because it is important that awake people be awake)

A Ritual to Read to Each Other

If you don't know the kind of person I am
and I don't know the kind of person you are
a pattern that others made may prevail in the world
and following the wrong god home we may miss our star.

For there is many a small betrayal in the mind,
a shrug that lets the fragile sequence break
sending with shouts the horrible errors of childhood
storming out to play through the broken dyke.

And as elephants parade holding each elephant's tail,
but if one wanders the circus won't find the park,
I call it cruel and maybe the root of all cruelty
to know what occurs but not recognize the fact.

And so I appeal to a voice, to something shadowy,
a remote important region in all who talk:
though we could fool each other, we should consider—
lest the parade of our mutual life get lost in the dark.

For it is important that awake people be awake,
or a breaking line may discourage them back to sleep;
the signals we give—yes or no, or maybe—
should be clear: the darkness around us is deep.

—William Stafford

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

My Name assignment.


Read the original "My Name" passage by Sandra Cisneros. Annotate. Note organization, (summarize each brief paragraph) note use of vivid imagery and emotional content rescued from abstraction by means of such imagery.

Read the "My Name" sample written by Michael. Note how closely he follows the original.

Write your own.

My Name

In English my name means hope. In Spanish it means too many letters. It means sadness, it means waiting. It is like the number nine. A muddy color. It is the Mexican records my father plays on Sunday mornings when he is shaving, songs like sobbing.

It was my great-grandmother's name and now it is mine. She was a horse woman too, born like me in the Chinese year of the horse--which is supposed to be bad luck if you're born female-but I think this is a Chinese lie because the Chinese, like the Mexicans, don't like their women strong.

My great-grandmother. I would've liked to have known her, a wild, horse of a woman, so wild she wouldn't marry. Until my great-grandfather threw a sack over her head and carried her off. Just like that, as if she were a fancy chandelier. That's the way he did it.

And the story goes she never forgave him. She looked out the window her whole life, the way so many women sit their sadness on an elbow. I wonder if she made the best with what she got or was she sorry because she couldn't be all the things she wanted to be. Esperanza. I have inherited her name, but I don't want to inherit her place by the window.

At school they say my name funny as if the syllables were made out of tin and hurt the roof of your mouth. But in Spanish my name is made out of a softer something, like silver, not quite as thick as sister's name Magdalena--which is uglier than mine. Magdalena who at least- -can come home and become Nenny. But I am always Esperanza.

I would like to baptize myself under a new name, a name more like the real me, the one nobody sees. Esperanza as Lisandra or Maritza or Zeze the X. Yes. Something like Zeze the X will do.

-Sandra Cisneros
From House on Mango Street

My Name (modeled after Sandra Cisneros)

My name comes from the Bible. My mom explained to me that it was the name of an angel. Michael, it seems, was not just an ordinary angel, but an archangel. If Jesus sits at the right hand of God, she said, then the archangels probably sit at the right hand of Jesus. My name doesn’t feel like any of that religious stuff, though. It feels more like sitting on the toolbox in the garage and getting up to pass tools to my father when he sticks his left hand out from under the car.

It was my grandfather’s name and now it’s mine. He was an Orange County sheriff’s deputy who had played football for Santa Ana High School. On the wall in my dad’s office there is a newspaper clipping from the 1930’s that describes my grandfather as “the biggest high school football player in the country.” He was a big guy. But still. People must have been smaller back then.

I wish the heart in his big old body had not quit when I was so young. I wish I could have talked to him more. Or listened. He used to sit in his creaky old chair and smoke his pipe. He didn’t talk much and he put ketchup on his fried eggs.

My grandma used to say that we needed to pray for him. He put up with that most of the time but my dad says comments like that made him want to go to the lodge more often. My mom says the same thing about me to my brother and sister. Or she did before she died. If Grandpa Mike were still alive, we could sit on the porch and I think we’d understand each other without saying much at all.

At first only my family called me Michael; everybody else called me Mike. Then I had this girlfriend. It felt pretty good to hear her say Michael this and Michael that. The way she said it. Before long I started signing my name Michael instead of Mike. My brother, I call him Steven, still goes by Steve, but now almost everybody calls me Michael.

My mom’s name was Ilene. When she died in July, on the day before her birthday, I didn’t want to hear anybody but my brother or my sister or my father say my name for a few days. It felt like the sound of my name had been bent or broken. And somehow, now, I don’t seem to care too much any more if people call me Michael or Mike.