C's bookshelf: read

The Peculiar
Maggot Moon
The City and the City
The Road
A Certain Slant of Light
The Muses Among Us: Eloquent Listening and Other Pleasures of the Writer's Craft
Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood
Brown Girl in the Ring
Well Wished
The Innkeeper's Song
Understanding Comics: The Invisible Art
American Indian Myths and Legends
The Left Hand of Darkness
The Return of the King
The Fellowship of the Ring
The Two Towers

C S Peterson's favorite books »

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Cleaning the Yard on Palm Sunday

Lenten time is altogether spare
Long ago the pre-spring cupboard bare
Fasting till the greens popped up
And the chickens started laying

In the garden now I dig out winter’s must
Last year’s dead dissolved to naught but dust
Fat worms dark earth heedless sup
While robins trill a joyfully praising

I cast my eyes o’re wasted winter spent
Further back, through time that I’ve been lent
Spring sun warms my dissolute dust
Sublimates a soul exposed and bare

Sunday, April 10, 2011

S.A.M.E. Cafe

On Thursday I went to the Denver TED event with my oldest daughter and some friends from work.
TED is a conference where amazing brilliant people get up on stage and have eighteen minutes to talk about their best idea.  Then TED posts video of these presentations on the Internet for the world to see.  We all knew one of the presenters.  She was a teacher at our school, but left to open a restaurant with her husband.  I was so excited for her.  And I was star struck too!  I couldn't help telling anyone I was sitting next to, or chatting with during the breaks, that I knew her and that she, her husband and their restaurant really are as amazing as they sound.  Here is what they do:  People come and eat and pay what they think is fair or what they can.  People are welcome to volunteer to help with the cooking and washing up.  They have built a community in and around this restaurant where everyone is treated with dignity.  People from the neighborhood, people who are homeless, business people, all sit down and eat a delicious, healthy organic lunch together in a beautiful environment.  It is a miracle they have all worked very hard to make together.  Her name is Libby Birkey and the name of the restaurant is the S.A.M.E. Cafe (Stands for: So All May Eat).  I can't wait to see her video on the TED website!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Helping the Kids with Homework

3^2 is 9 not 6
Radulae are tongues with teeth
Tall taller small smaller
D’Aulaires’ Myths
2^3 is 8 not 6
If you have more than one you have octopodes
Because Roman’s tried to learn Greek
Inside Outside Upside Down
Concave up and concave down
2^4 is 16 and so is 4^2
Grill chill spill fill
Say cephalopod five times fast
Now say teuthologist
Points of inflection are beautiful
Mr. Brown is out of town
Why was Kierkegaard so sore at church?
I have no teeth on my tongue
They are stuck to my jaw with gum
Snack pack silk milk
Brush your radula
Cuddled on the couch
Riddles in the dark on the way to hunt Smaug
Kiss, tuck, pray
That’s it for today

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Buzz and My Dad

I’ve been watching and listening, online, to people speaking about education.  I’m hearing this buzz:

The public education system we have, essentially worldwide thanks to 19th century colonialism, was designed to educate children to be adults who could function productively in a world that was in the midst of rapid change from agrarian to industrialized.  The world is again changing rapidly because of the current Cambrian explosion of technology, but the school system is still educating for the 19th century.  This inability of the current educational system to evolve is structural and entrenched, the buzz says, and those that don’t get this, and respond by finding ways to evolve intelligently into a system that does educate for the now that actually is, will watch their economies and their power dwindle.

I wonder if others are hearing the same buzz?  What do you think?

            My father, who passed away recently, was an educational visionary.  In 1965 he was working at Stanford on “computer assisted instruction.”  I used to visit him at work. I enjoyed tagging along with the man who constantly moved about the computer rooms with his shopping cart full of cathode ray tubes.  It was very loud.  But the best thing was when my dad sat me down at the computer.  He put earphones on my head.  They were so large that they covered the entire side of my face.  Then a lady’s voice:
            “Draw a line from the boy to the bicycle,” she instructed.
            I took the white stylus, with a cord attached to its end, and placed it on the flickering green cartoon of a boy.  I drew an imaginary line from him to the flickering green cartoon of the bicycle. Oh!  The boy walked to the bicycle, got on, and rode it off the screen!  I did the same with the girl and the ice cream cone. I could have sat there for hours.  My dad thought that computers might be a powerful way to enhance education, but he met with a lot of resistance in 1965.
            In the last months of his life my dad became confused about time.  One day he woke up from his nap, ready to work again on the problem of making computers effective learning tools.  It was just he and I in the house for the afternoon.  We talked for quite a while, and I tried to keep up with when we were, as he discussed the problems he and his team were having with getting enough computing memory and the challenges of designing a program that could be instantaneously individualized for millions.  Eventually we made our way into his study and got on the Internet on my parent’s computer.  I showed him the interactive games I use with my math students. We played a few and he was delighted.  We poked around on wikipedia and I tried to explain how people all over the world could write articles.  I even showed him how to translate an article on Bach, written in German, instantly into English.  He was amazed.  Finally I showed him his book on Amazon, and the reviews people had written.  He was very surprised.
            “But that book was written for another world,” he exclaimed, “It’s so out of date!”
            We surfed some more, but I could tell he was getting tired.
            “Those mathematics games we were working with, did you write those?”
            “No dad, I just use them in class.”
            “Are they expensive?”
            “No dad, they’re free.  They are on the Internet and anyone with a computer can use them.”
            He leaned back comfortably in his chair with a contented sigh.
            “Well that is good,” he said, as he began to drift off. “Now teachers can be freed from all the paperwork of drilling and testing and available to nurture their student’s souls.” 

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Writing a Poem Before Breakfast

A poem before breakfast
            Check the e-mail
            Write a quick note
            And another
A poem before breakfast
            Check facebook for birthdays
            Oops I’m late on a couple
A poem before breakfast
            Everyone else is still asleep
            Make some tea before I sit down
A poem before breakfast
            A half hour gone! Already!
            Like an old dog turning circles
            Before it lies down on the pillow
            I am finally settled to write
A poem before breakfast

Friday, April 1, 2011


Cleaning and packing, moving and shaking
I used to clean to avoid writing, but now I am writing to avoid cleaning
My parent's house grows emptier with each box