A Shopping Trip in Zagreb



Editor Beryl Belsky just published a comment I made on my experiences in Croatia at the beginning of the refugee crisis. It follows our family activities on an ordinary morning during a time of extraordinary events.


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Battle Hymn of the Republic


Julia Ward Howe arose at dawn on November 18th, 1861 and hurriedly wrote the words that became one of our most revered patriotic songs. I hope that the common core activities I offer on TPT will open the poem for young people. I’ve provided directed reading, scripted reading, reciprocal teaching, research questions and a poster assignment to help involve students with Julia’s words and with the turbulent times in which she lived. Here’s the link to the activities:


P.S. Here’s a great recording of the Battle Hymn:



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“Rise Above” is out!


Steve Roper and Al Steck created and recreated “Ascent” for more than thirty years. It was the premier journal for mountaineering photography, art and literature, both fiction and memoir. When they stepped away from the immense work each volume required, the publication became history. An enormous void took its place. There is now no meeting place where climbers can share and reflect upon the best of their images, the best of their words, the most intense of their experiences.

Most of my climbing fiction has gone begging these past ten years. I wrote “Moroni” far too late to have it considered for inclusion in “Ascent”, but it’s a good climbing story, one of my best. Imagine my gratitude to editor and publisher Cassie Newell that she agreed with my assessment of “Moroni” and offered it in Rise Above, her new e-book collection of prize-winning short stories. Please follow the link below to peruse Rise Above.


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“Shiloh” by Herman Melville


Shiloh Church – “the log-built one”

Herman Melville never knew that he was one of America’s greatest writers and would become a world literary figure. Disappointed by the poor reception his novels initially received, he became a customs inspector and turned his literary focus to poetry. He expected to be remembered, if at all, as a poet. Moby Dick insured that this would never happen.

Melville volunteered in hospitals during the Civil War. His experiences with the wounded – their suffering and their bravery – greatly influenced him and resulted in some great American poems. One of these is Shiloh.

I’ve created some activities (common core, of course!) for teachers to use with students when they consider this poem. I’m pleased with what I’ve made and hope that the structures I’ve provided will open Shiloh for young people. It’s a good poem and needs to be read. It’s message of reconciliation and sharing of common ground is one Americans need to ponder. Here’s a link to my plans:


This unit was endorsed by the Civil War Trust Teachers Regiment, by the by.

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Yosemite – Unnamed Falls


You all know by now of my long enchantment with Yosemite. It’s ongoing and continues to spark my writing. Here’s a just published Yosemite poem I’d like to share:


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“Moroni” takes first place!

eBook Me Up Contest Logo 1st Place

There are times when a story doesn’t come right until it’s been rewritten again and again. “Moroni” is my all time revisions champ, with more than a dozen versions in my computer. Finally, though, I felt that the story’s narrative fell into its simplest line and the characters spoke clearly. Editor Cassie Newell and the judges of the e-Book Me Up short story contest agreed and awarded it first place. I’m most pleased and honored by this recognition of “Moroni, especially after the extended tussle it gave me! The contest winners and finalists will be published on Amazon sometime this month. I’ll let you know when this happens. Here’s a link to eBook Me Up:


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Darcy’s Tent – Banner Peak, High Sierras, 1983


photo by Ansel Adams

Banner saddle copy

This photo is from our return visit in 1985. Michael takes a break with the Banner-Ritter saddle in the distance.

“I have climbed there once. One of the most beautiful places in the Sierras. The reflective 1000 Island Lakes, Banner and Ritter Peaks and the icy, cramponed scramble to their summits. But fortunately, it wasn’t like this typical Walton adventure. Lol.” – Wayne Thompson, climber and photographer

Wayne perfectly captured the essence of what Michael and I had in mind, so I took the liberty of quoting him here. Michael and I tended to learn our mountain lessons the hard way. We still do.


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