Herd the Bird: A Poem for Ferdinand the Corgi

This is a poem I wrote on behalf of our corgi, Ferdinand. Ferdinand’s views on birds suggest that a corgi does not always learn from experience.

Herd the Bird: A Poem by Ferdinand the Corgi

Herd the bird.
Herd the bird.
I will herd the little bird.

Herd the bird!
Herd the bird!
See me herd the little bird!

Stop it, bird!
Stop it, bird!
You have left my little herd!

Herd the bird.
Herd the bird.
I cannot ever herd the bird.

[To be repeated however many times it takes to get around the block on your stumpy legs, with no wings.]

Ferdinand with a bird he WAS able to herd…

Funny memory: A cow on the Oregon Trail

What a coincidence! I wrote this down four years ago and ran across it again this morning. Pretty sure many of us are feeling like this cow on the Oregon Trail!

Here’s my 9-year-old, discussing the perils of the Oregon Trail journey at dinner.
“Say this is a covered wagon.” (Picks up piece of biscuit and sets it on top of second piece of biscuit) “And this is the raft it’s floating on, on the river.”
Aligns a broccoli floweret with one end of the biscuit wagon-raft.
“This is the cow pulling it.”
Begins pulling the broccoli. “Mooooooooooooooooo.” (In a deep, cow voice.)
Pulls broccoli cow to edge of plate. Knocks it over the edge. “Good-bye cow.” (Grimace)
[Pause, in which the broccoli cow plops onto the “States of the US” placemat under the plate-river.]
“Hey” (Speaking once more in the deep cow voice) “I’m in Montana.”

My wish for you today is that if you do fall off the plate, you land somewhere lovely, like Montana!

Funny reviews by kids: Meet the Festy Bros

I’m going to borrow from A. A. Milne and name this, “In Which 2 Young Gentlemen Who Dislike Mushrooms Review A Dried Mushroom Product.”

It is a perfect thing of its kind.

If you are drinking coffee, please put it down before you watch, to avoid choking or spewing beverage all over your surroundings.

I wonder what they’ll do next!!

What is your earliest memory of writing?

Once upon a time, when I was little, I went outdoors on a summer afternoon. I walked down the long driveway, from the backdoor of our yellow house, past the garden and the swingset, toward the garage. As I walked, I heard my own voice inside my head, telling the story of what I was doing. I knew the story stretched back to my beginning, and that I was just noticing it, not beginning it. I knew the story was happening still, and that it would keep on happening, as long as I kept on telling it.

That is my first memory of writing. At the time, I was only 4 or 5 years old. I wouldn’t have called it “writing” then, but when I follow the ribbon of my words all the way back, that moment is their anchor

Next, I recall a day in 4th or 5th grade when I decided to write a detective story. I wrote the title, The Mystery of the Golden Bell, across the top of the page and began on my story, scrawling along in pencil until I reached the end of the paper. I started on the next sheet, wondering what would happen next. And then it happened – the revelatory moment when I realized that if I was going to write the story, I had to know what was going to happen in the story! Alas, I had no idea what happened in the story, so The Mystery of the Golden Bell remains unsolved.

I’m interested in the beginnings of things, so I asked some friends to share their earliest memory of writing. I find the responses fascinating (also cute, funny, and characteristic).

My friend Katherine’s first memory is oddly appropriate to her later life. She’s a published author of a series called Crime with the Classics. I love that her earliest writing memory involves a “trial” with her mother playing counsel for the defense.

In sixth grade we were assigned to write a short story (possibly from a prompt, I don’t remember). The teacher accused me of having copied my story from a women’s magazine. My mother successfully defended me from this charge. I remember nothing about my story except that the main character was named Betty.

Katherine

I was struck by how many writing memories are connected to teachers. It’s a good reminder that writing is social: the activity itself may be solitary, but what is written is a communication, and sometimes we need help from mentors and friends to launch it into the world.

I remember in the 3rd grade my teacher trying to encourage me to enter a story that I wrote for a class assignment to a state writing contest. I was so nervous and scared that I told her I couldn’t send it in. After much encouragement, I agreed to let her mail it in.

About 3 months later, my teacher called me up to her desk before going outside for recess. All the kids had gone outside. She handed me a large manila envelope. As I opened it, a 1st place ribbon fell into my lap. I pulled out a spiral bound book. It was the stories of all the top 5 winners.

I remember just sitting there shocked. My teacher had a huge smile on her face, and she showed me a box of books that I had won for our school.

I couldn’t believe that I went from being this kindergartener who struggled with English and who saw a special teacher to help with reading writing, to a 3rd grader who won a state writing competition. It still makes me smile and warms my heart thinking about it.

Nancy

My third grade teacher taught us how to write poetry and arranged to have several of us read our poems on a local radio station. That was a thrilling experience for me and inspired a lot of poetry writing in my school years. Some of my poems were published in obscure little anthologies of children’s poetry. Funny, I’m not sure I even remember how to write poetry now.

Elizabeth

In first grade, our teacher had us do little writing assignments. But I don’t remember what I wrote. What I remember is that she wrote a poem about me being an author. Definitely changed my life.

Laura

The 5th grade teacher would give us lists of spelling words to use in sentences. I made the sentences into a story.

The 6th grade teacher asked, “Have you ever heard the term ‘stream of consciousness’? That’s what you’re writing.”

Frederica

In addition to helping build good writers, good teachers make good teachers! Check out this memory!

[My first memory is of] Learning to write in Kindergarten. We had these 10×10 (?) Letter books with tactile glitter letters on the front (one book per letter). I also remember Phonics workbooks and spelling tests. 😂 Creative writing memories are mostly from 6th grade because I think we actually had creative writing time with my teacher. I teamed up with a classmate and we wrote a “scary” story that was shared at the end of the year writing celebration. This is one reason why I loved doing writers notebooks with my 6th graders when I taught ELA. Drop everything and write days. It was the first chance in school they were ever told to write whatever they wanted to write! For some it was a challenge and they needed prompts. For others, they thrived in being able to express their thoughts and ideas. Otherwise quiet or class clown kids let their creativity shine!

Irene

This next made me chuckle. It’s from one of our #Blogtown friends, Elzabeta at God Has Promised.

I wrote a series of interviews with Garfield the Cat. A lot of lasagna was spilled. I also wrote my own sequel to The Empire Strikes Back because George Lucas was taking too long.

Elzabeta

George Lucas was taking too long! 😀

Here’s another early writer with her eyes on Hollywood.

In second grade I wrote Charlie’s Angels FAN-FICTION on construction paper in crayon. I think. Now I’m starting to doubt my memory. I definitely wrote SOMETHING in crayon and folded the construction paper into a ‘book’.

Cynthia

There were so many stories shared that there isn’t room for all of them in this post, so I’ll close with this one, which I love because it resonates with my own, deep, early memories of STORY – the core of all meaning and beauty in my world.

Well, I remember in kindergarten, we were all writing stories about sea creatures–but I was incredibly frustrated, because my teacher wouldn’t let me write it down myself, instead insisting on taking my dictation. Certain other classmates with neater handwriting were allowed to write their own, and I felt it was a great injustice. (The story itself was about a sea urchin, which I liked because they were purple, and was quite inane.)

My first memory of storytelling, however, was before that, a collaboration between myself and a truly remarkable babysitter (also Orthodox). My backyard was transformed into a magical realm, with each landmark being given Anne of Green Gables-style names, and C. S. Lewis-like cosmological significance. My dolls were central characters, of course, and were joined by several more who were portrayed by her and by myself at various points in the story. Together, with the aid of my trusty slingshot, we worked our way through rising tension, the apocalypse, and even into the Age to Come. If I ever write a story that feels as beautiful and exciting as that one did to me then, and does still despite my forgetfulness of the particulars, I will be well-pleased.

Elizabeth

7 Things Our Corgi Doesn’t Believe In

You might think a dog who likes to eat socks would have no sense of propriety, but you would be wrong. Ferdinand the Corgi combines a photographic memory of how the planet looked yesterday with a joyful confidence that you should have left it that way. Generations of sheep-herding ancestors egg him on, and his soulful gaze and soft, stumpy paws make him a formidable opponent.

What surprised me, as he first began expressing his opinions, was how often his objections stemmed from his love of routine. Like the Navy, Ferdinand adheres strenuously to the precept that there is a place for everything and everything should BE in its place. No dog likes a thunderstorm, and neither does Ferdinand. But he is more likely to protest from outraged sensibility than fear. And even you, oh lovely reader, would struggle to predict what will outrage him.

  1. Trash bags. Wouldn’t you think a dog would be fascinated with a lumpy sack of kitchen smells? Not this corgi! The minute we heave it up from the trash bin to haul it to the garage, Ferdinand loses his fuzzy little mind. He braces his front paws, winds his ears up to full alert, and barks hysterically. Plainly, this kitchen necessity is far more dangerous than the vacuum cleaner.
  2. Helicopters. Also airplanes of every description. He races across the yard, barking the buzzy thing off the property. Does he think it hears him? One must admit that every time he chases a helicopter, it leaves and doesn’t come back.
  3. Lawn reindeer. They weren’t there yesterday. They do not respond to friendly greetings. Sometimes, they fall over. As a species, they have sunk themselves below reproach.
  4. Dishwasher detergent dispensers. You know the square opening on the door of your dishwasher? The one into which you pour the detergent and then shut the cover with a click? To be fair, this should be filed under Things We No Long Object To. Upon discovering that the dishwasher contains eggy plates and spoons decorated with peanut butter vestiges, Ferdinand found that he no longer objected to the detergent caddy.
  5. Heating vents. This objection can be filed with number 4. In the early days of his puppyhood, Ferdinand refused to pass any vent in the floor unaccompanied. He peered nervously into each one, sniffing with the veriest tip of his nose. But winter came, heat began to emanate from these gloomy abysses, and he decided that covering them with his furry belly and snoring was the best defense.
  6. Loaded laundry baskets. Is he wrong? Do you not also wish to flee headlong from the room at sight of one?
  7. You, leaving the house for any reason without him. You can have no possible reason for doing so. There is nothing more to be said.

Laughing at an adorable corgi is an irresistible temptation. His personality is so much larger than his stumpy small self, and his barking, squeaking, pleading little voice is almost human. How can outrage be taken seriously when it bounces?

But I suspect we are more like Ferdinand than we realize. Don’t we all object to the unexpected? How often do we race to control forces that, like helicopters passing overhead, are not truly under our control? And who can object to love that mourns every parting and rejoices with such sincerity over each reunion?

Articles that should never be written

While reading the Dr. Seuss Sleep Book (impossible without yawning), I encountered a sentence that stuck with me. It’s about “five foot-weary salesmen” who have been racing around all day trying to sell zizzer zoof seeds, “which nobody wants because nobody needs.”

Today, I decided to make a list of articles that will never be written. Like the zizzer zoof seeds, they contain information that nobody wants because nobody needs.

Here goes.

Five Ways to Keep Your Baby Up All Night

“How stupid do you think I am?”: An Accurate Assessment

Pouff: Maximize Humidity Retention for Better Hair

Sweet Memories: How to Bronze Dog Mudprints from Your Carpet

10 Things I Wish Everyone Didn’t Know About Me

DIY Pocket Banners: Flag the Spot Where You’re Carrying Your Wallet

Slicker: Increasing Speed and Decreasing Traction on Your Rainboots

How to Ensure No One Will Forget What You Said at the Office Christmas Party. Ever.

Picnic Fun: Attract Angry Geese to Your Group in 3 Easy Steps

Be the Solution: A Frantic Woman’s Guide to Training Everyone to Depend on You for Everything

This is quite fun. Who wants to try? Name me some more articles that should never be written!!