Florentine Violin Maker


My father was a woodworker. He could make cabinets, furniture, and fine designs with his hands. He would sand and stain and sand some more long into midnight.

He would deliberately discover a piece of art in the trunk of a tamarisk tree or a common two-by-four.

On a side street in Florence, M and I watch a craftswoman producing a violin. Peering through her workshop window. Though I often joke that my hands are made only for typing and should not be counted on to sew, to whittle, or even to cook, I can’t help thinking about how her work is similar to drafting a piece of creative writing, how the end product requires the effort to shape a piece into a beautiful sound as well as story.

Speaking of beautiful sounds and stories, spring semester means students are collaborating on blogs again:

Daily Bread 400: https://dailybread400.wordpress.com/

Blissful Binge: https://blissfulbinge.wordpress.com/

Passions of 8: https://passionsof8.wordpress.com/

World of Actions & Reactions: https://creativeblogforclass.wordpress.com/

All Things Dreamy: https://allthingsdreamyblog.wordpress.com/

Please follow them, like them, and tell your friends about these diligent and creative writers.

Grades Are Posted

finalsStudents always ask questions that I cannot answer: How many people get A’s in this course?  This is in a Critical Thinking course where I want them to know what’s critical is that they are learning to think and that a grade cannot exactly measure their growth.  But I can’t tell them that grades don’t matter (to me as their teacher) because I know that they are the keys that these students are seeking, keys they can turn into universities, into careers, into happy, stable lives (no pressure). When they ask this, I offer what I can: the list of our assignments, the rubrics they are assessed by, the texts to read, the promise of lively discussions to illuminate the material, some extra credit, office hours, my willingness to respond to emails at nearly all hours of the day (provided they are not asking questions about what grade this essay would earn at this point). I want to say: you have an A; ow what will you learn?  But I know, for some of us, it would be far more productive to promise an F from day one.  It’s a tricky balance that we usually figure out by the time grades are posted.

Happy Halloween!

crc baseball

I received this photo by email earlier this morning, and at various points throughout the day today, I have had the chance to see it again in my inbox.  Every time I see it, I smile and can’t resist chuckling a little.  So, I had to share. This is the Cosumnes River College baseball team.  Go Hawks!

The End Is Near

CoverThe end of the semester is near, and the Creative Writing class is posting to their blogs one last week officially before they begin assessing their likes, followers, favorite posts, etc.  If you haven’t checked them out, please do.  If you haven’t liked anything lately, please like them.

Some of these writers will appear in the eighth-annual edition of our literary journal, a publication committed to publishing the art and writing of community college students and the rest of the world.







We are in week eight of seventeen. It is midterm season. And, I have graded sixty-eight essays, seventeen narratives, three classes of journals and political cartoon responses. I have eleven more essays to grade and fourteen poems. I’d like to have this all done before Thursday.

I wish I had it all done on Saturday. Another load of reading comes in almost every day until mid May. It is good that I love words.

If you love words, consider attending the seventh-annual Our Life Stories Writers’ Conference: hart-crcwritersconference.org.