Deborah Dean's Strategic Writing transformed how I think about teaching writing. I'd already become a devotee of the idea of teaching writing as decision making, i.e., helping students understand that writers make choices when they write and that those choices change the text in crucial ways. Dean's book helped me build on that idea with her emphasis on how human beings are strategic and how we can help students understand that they can be strategic when they write.

Yesterday, Debbie spoke to the San Joaquin Valley Writing Project's Summer Institute (held in conjunction with the Merced Writing Project). Her workshop emphasized that, for most students, the writing process involves creating a series of products that mark the "steps" of the writing process. As teachers, we fail to help students understand that the parts of the process are actually strategies that can be used in different writing situations. In her book and workshops, Debbie works to help teachers shift the way they and their students think about writing. She has developed a number of creative assignments that help students practice different strategies, and she asks students to reflect on how the strategies they use for one assignment can be used in other writing situations.

This approach makes so much sense to me. As teachers, we should be more concerned with helping students develop a wide variety of writing strategies that can be used outside of our classrooms and beyond the school experience. We do students a great disservice when we teach them that they can follow a series of steps that will "work" for any writing situation. Writing is too messy and complex for that to be true. Debbie's book encourages us to transform our classrooms in order to help our students become independent, successful writers.

2

Over the last eight months, my morning breakfast palate has changed. I used to like really sweet things for breakfast, but now I prefer savory items. Two weeks ago, when J. and I first visited his mom in Monterey, I asked Y. what a traditional Korean breakfast was. The next morning, she'd made seaweed soup, fried tofu, rice, and an amazing sesame terayaki sauce. I immediately fell in love with the sauce and tofu combination--and I've been craving it ever since. Last night, when J. and I arrived, she had the dish waiting for us, along with some fried shrimp. And this morning, I watched her make the sauce, in hopes I can replicate the dish at home.

Sesame Terayaki Sauce (or Spicy Soy Sauce)

Crush two cloves of garlic and place in bowl. Add (in equal amounts) Kikkoman Terayaki Sauce and Soy Sauce. Add a few tablespoons of toasted sesame seeds. Chop a large handful of green onions and add, submerging in the liquid. You can also add a small, finely chopped jalapeno pepper, if you like it spicy. Let sit for a few minutes, then spoon over tofu and rice.

If you read my earlier post "Thoughts on Blogging," you know that I've been rethinking my relationship with technology. Over the last few weeks, that new relationship has materialized in a number of ways. First, I now use an RSS Reader to keep up on my favorite blogs and news sites. If you're like me who had never heard this term until about a month ago, you need to know about RSS Readers, downloadable free software which does the mundane work of checking your favorite websites in one place. I'm beginning a new morning routine which includes checking my RSS Reader to see what's new. I started out using Bottom Feeder but have now switched to Feed Reader (more visually appealing than Bottom Feeder but prone to crash when I'm deleting entries if I'm not careful). If you have a number of websites you'd like to keep up with, I encourage you to try an RSS Reader.

In addition to Feed Reader, I'm also using del.icio.us, a great website that allows me to use my bookmarks from any computer. In addition, it allows me to bookmark websites for friends. Del.icio.us has also been key in a newfound interest in You Tube. My favorite video is of Salvador Dali's guest appearance on "What's My Line." But I've also enjoyed watching liquid dancing and bad, bad, movie clips (Who's the master?).

The last two items on my list of new technologies? An iPod and a cell phone. I know, I know, I've complained about cell phones for years. But I've finally caved . . . and I have to admit they are rather convenient. Last week when I was traveling, it was nice to talk to my boyfriend and family while I was in airports. When my brother ran a little late, rather than wondering if he'd forgotten me, I could call to see where he and his family were. And when I hadn't talked to my boyfriend all day, it was nice to chat with him during a layover in Phoenix. I admit, though, that I need to make better decisions about what's polite and safe in my cell phone use. Now that the novelty is wearing off, I'm already doing that. And the iPod--well, it's just fun to have so much good music to listen to at home, in my car, or when I'm walking.

So . . . I guess I have to say that technology is, in fact, enriching my life. I've finally moved into the 21st Century and it's not a bad place to be.

5

Some of my earliest memories are of visiting my grandpa and grandma on their farm in Cornish, Utah. My dad tells stories about thinning sugar beets, but my memories revolve around alfalfa and cows. I liked watching Grandpa and Dad herd the confused and recalcitrant cows into the milking area. The milkers were strange looking contraptions with rubber tubes that attached to the udders then squeezed rhythmically as the milk fell into the metal container below. Grandpa would then pour the fresh milk into a large vat in which the milk swirled around, stirred by a metal paddle. Every so often, he'd give us a ladle of milk fresh from the vat . . . or we'd drink the creamy milk as we ate my grandmother's banana nut bread. Grandpa, dressed in his pinstriped overalls, was also an expert at "pitching kanuch," at least I think that's what he called shoveling up the cow's excrement. He was a small man but a hard worker.

In later years, I watched my grandfather at my grandmother's side as her health failed due to Alzheimer's. Grandpa sold the farm and moved into Logan, so he could visit her each day at Sunshine Terrace. I remember how lovingly he interacted with his wife, whom he had known since childhood, even though she no longer recognized him. Still, the residue of their love must have left some trace, as Grandma responded to him so positively. At times, Grandpa missed her so much that he would silently weep as he sat beside her bed. I suppose these images will always typify love for me.

After grandma passed away, my grandfather spent a number of years living on his own in his little house in Logan, Utah. When I was in town, it was always enjoyable to visit him and hear his stories--Godfreys are great story tellers and laughers. My grandfather's gentle kindness always characterized our interactions.

More recently, he'd been living in an assisted living center. Every so often, I'd go to the center to eat lunch with him. He had a table full of friends that he liked to eat with . . . but when I visited, he'd forego that pleasure to sit with my parents and I. More regularly, we would visit him in his room and tell stories. I'd ask him about farming and he'd describe tractors and hard work. He'd tell stories about his youth, the depression, the childhood of my father, and his career as the school bus driver in Cache County. He'd offer me the chocolate that he could no longer eat because of diabetes.

My grandfather's life was full of simple pleasures and joys: pride in his children, the satisfaction of work well done, the love that he felt for his family and friends, the faith that was such an important part of his identity. My life is richer for having loved and been loved by him.

1

This morning we walked to Village Bakery for, I don't know, the 15th time???? I love that place. Village Bakery uses organic, local ingredients. It's the kind of place that every town in an agricultural area should have. I've tried a lot of things on the menu--the egg and cheese sandwich, the breakfast pizza, the georgian cheese tarts, even soup and a hummus sandwich. Of everything I've tried, though, I think I love the toasted onion bialy with smoked trout spread the best. I wish I had a picture of it in all it yumminess. Village Bakery is my favorite place for breakfast in Athens.

2

For the last couple of weeks, I've been in Athens, Ohio visiting my boyfriend. Athens is a nice place: a small college town with a pretty campus, a great bike/walking path by the Hocking River, nice people, and good food. Being here, though, I've thought about where I've lived for the last 8 years--and the fact that, much to my surprise, Fresno is where I've actually put down roots for the first time as an adult. When I leave Athens soon, there are a lot of things I'll miss, but I'll also be glad to be home.

Things I love about Fresno (in no particular order):

1. My morning walk along Van Ness and the landmarks along the way: the houses I wanted to buy, the canal where I sometimes see egrets and ducks, the people I say hello to each morning.

2. The view from my bedroom window out of which I can see my 18 fruit trees, the red brick patio, and my grape/wisteria arbor. In all four seasons, I feel a sense of well being when I look out that window.

3. My bookshelves at my office: the rest of the office is in need of serious organization, but I love the colors of my books and the fact that so many of them have fed me emotionally and intellectually. They make my office a happy place to be.

4. The Tower District: good restaurants (I wish I could eat at Senses once a week), Fresno Filmworks in the Tower Theater, the Chicken Pie Shop's green vinyl benches, the unique stores (read: they aren't chains!), and the twinkly lights in the trees.

5. Anywhere my friends are: I feel lucky to have so many people I care about who also care about me.

6. The Farmer's Markets: one of the things that makes hot Fresno summers bearable is the abundance of fresh fruit and veggies available.

7. The courtyard at Arte Americas with its great series of outdoor concerts during the summer. I love sitting under the stars and hearing mariachi music or ska (okay, I don't sit when it's a ska night, I dance). The stars come out and the music echoes off the nearby buildings.

8. All the places I can drive within 3 hours: like everyone else in Fresno, I love that I can leave occasionally and be in San Francisco, Yosemite, L.A., the coast, or the mountains within 3 hours.

9. Downtown: the public library, Fulton Mall, Potters' Studio, the Water Tower, Chinatown, even the baseball stadium. Downtown is quirky and quiet and economically depressed, but the lovely buildings remind me of a time when downtown was vibrant. I still hope that Fresno's downtown can be revitalized.

Fresno Water Tower 1996

10. Since I'm at #10 and there's still so much more to say, I'm going to cheat and say that I love the recurring events in Fresno: the Rogue Performance Festival, Vintage Days at Fresno State, Jamaica My Weekend, Mardi Gras, Christmas Tree Lane, and Summer Arts are just a few of the events that I look forward to.

All these things and more have contributed to my well being. I may post sometime in the future about the things that make Fresno less livable, but, for now, Fresno is home.

1

It's summer. Classes are over, the grades are in, the temperature is rising. Life is good. Yes, I have work to do, but it's nice to have some free time, as well. With my now more abundant leisure, I've been looking at food blogs. To be honest, I think I'm in danger of becoming a food blog addict.

You should know something about me. During the school year, I rarely cook. I eat salads or soup--or I buy food that's already prepared. Even so, I yearn to fill my kitchen with cooking equipment. I want a Kitchen Aid mixer, an ice cream maker, a new wok. Yet I know I'd rarely, if ever, use such items. I also would love to own a million cookbooks, but how often would I use them? During the summer, though, I actually sometimes cook. And, if my new fascination with food blogs is any sign, I have a lot of cooking in my future.

Food blogs illustrate a passion for food that I completely understand. Bloggers write about the new restaurants they go to and describe (and display beautiful pictures of) the food they eat. One of my favorite entries was about Burma Superstar, a Burmese restaurant in San Francisco that I love. Note the description and picture of the tea leaf salad--I still salivate when I think of eating that dish in February.

Food bloggers also try out new recipes at home and blog about the meal. Sometimes these meals can be as simple as rice, corn, and turkey burgers. Sometimes, they are much more complex--what is lamb mechoui? Yesterday, I finally succumbed to the food blog world and I made a fantastic focaccia with caramelized onions, blue cheese, and grape tomatoes. It was quite yummy as the quickly empty plate at the potluck revealed.

It's summer. Check out some of these sites and try a new restaurant or a new recipe. And if you find something divine, start a food blog and let me know.