MORE pests of the ancient world!
In ancient times (and even today in parts of the developing world), ordinary people had to grow their own food. Imagine a family plowing and then sowing the seeds they had carefully dried and saved from last year’s harvest after the floodwaters of the Nile had receded, only to have their new crop visited by a hoard of locusts. Not only did these flying short-horned grasshoppers swarm in to gobble up the seeds, leaves, stems, and shoots but also their toxic droppings poisoned
Stop Pestering Me!
In ancient times, most Egyptians enjoyed a good life. Thanks to the annual flooding of the Nile, enough food could be grown and harvested to guarantee no one went hungry. Pharaohs and their large extended families lived in beautiful palaces with high ceilings, tiled floors, and grand columned rooms painted with scenes from nature. Year-round warm weather allowed wealthy or well-connected Egyptians to enjoy outdoor living spaces landscaped with reflecting pools and fruit trees
The Real Isis
It’s ironic that ISIS, the anacronym for the Islamic terrorist group whose horrific murder of reporter James Foley last week created an international outpouring of outrage and sorrow, shares its name with the ancient Egyptian goddess, Isis. The two couldn’t be further apart. The goddess Isis, revered from earliest Egypt to the Greco-Roman period, was described in the Book of the Dead as "she who gives birth to heaven and earth, knows the orphan, knows the widow, seeks justice
Invitation to a free in-service workshop for teachers
Classroom Teachers! Please join me and my colleagues at Creative Connections for this fun, educational workshop. #education #schools #teachers
An update on my co-writing project
So…as many of you know, since last October I have been co-writing a middle grade novel with a colleague, Susan Montanari. This is the first time either of us has co-written something, so it has been something of a literary adventure. Now that we’re “co-finishing” a readable draft, I think we have a somewhat better perspective on the process at large. I admit that once we decided to embark on this idea, we had to google “how to co-write a book” to figure out what to do next. L
Getting the Most Out of Your Dough: a fun home-based activity
Looking for an old-fashioned activity to do with a child or grandchild over the holiday break that’s fun, cheap, and educational? Why not use a slow afternoon to combine a few chemistry experiments along with a bread-baking lesson? First, have your child help you make the bread. For the bread recipe you’ll need: 2 ½ cups warm water 3 tablespoons honey 3 tablespoons oil 1 package dry yeast 1 tablespoon salt 6 cups whole wheat flour Pour the warm water, honey and oil into
Slave Cabins on Ossabaw Island
On my book research trip to Savannah in October, I spent a day on a magnificent barrier island called Ossabaw Island. It is reachable only by boat and has a history that stretches back to when the Spaniards arrived, leaving behind heritage breeds of burros and pigs whose descendants still graze in the marshes. But I digress. Starting in the late 1700′s, rice plantations were established on Ossabaw. Today, the plantations no longer exist, but thanks to restoration efforts, it
What the *##@** is a Teaching Artist?
I’ve worked in the arts in education field most of my career, but it’s only been in the last 15 years or so that “what I do in the classroom” has been given an official and completely baffling moniker: teaching artist. Most people assume that means I am an art teacher. If you knew me, and had ever seen me wield a piece of chalk or crayon, you would buckle to the floor and wet your pants. Or something. The truth is that teaching artists are ARTISTS in the broadest sense of
Colonial Burial Vaults
This past week I was in Savannah, Georgia to research a new middle-grade (or should I say “grave”) novel. This is my first co-writing adventure, and my writing partner, Susan Montanari, and I had lots of fun learning about Colonial burial practices. Our story, loosely based on a Savannah ghost legend, takes place in the early 1800′s. Savannah’s oldest existing cemetery, Colonial Cemetery, dates back to the mid-1700′s. One of its most interesting architectural features is i
The rewards of worm composting
In this blog, I’ve talked before about the rewards of worm composting, but today I thought I’d post a few photos to illustrate my point. This is six months worth of worm castings harvested from my 18 gallon Rubbermaid worm bin in early spring. It took me about an hour to sift through the bin after I carefully flipped it over and onto a plastic tarp. The worms burrowed down to the bottom, making it easy for me to collect this great compost. This is my lovely garden, even in