So, the results of overdoing, overtrying, overwhelming yourself can sometimes be sickness. It was for me this time: a goodolfashion cold, complete with no energy, stuffy head, and a waterfalls for a nose. It grabbed me, set me down, and made me rest after a brief but unsuccessful battle of wills. I even took a sick day from work and slept in til 10:00! Rare, indeed. So, I'm feeling better these days and was even back to swimming laps yesterday. Ready to get back to my projects, too, although maybe not as many at once! Time will tell...

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Finished work with the great educators of Lebanon, presented at the IRA Regional Conference in Portland, winding down my first online teaching experience, writing a proposal for a UO summer class, applying for two history institutes to research Lincoln's kids, hosting our Teaching American History grant, and
trying to breathe.
It ain't easy...

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Just found out that "soon" will not be until September. "Patience is waiting for something important you want, no matter how long it takes."

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Lots going on here:

My 6 Traits online course is up and going. Weíre nearing the end of the first week. Itís weird teaching a class and not being in the presence of the students. The jury is still out as to whether I like this, and if Iíll want to do it again.

Iím still waiting on permission for photos of the gum manufacturing process. Iíve contacted to biggies, and Iím hoping one of them will grant me the right to use images. If not, we can always use drawings, but I think photos would be better. In the meantime, I can continue with the writing.

The A.C. Gilbert bio project is still alive as well. Recently, I got much needed support from the Gilbert Museum so Iím more comfortable moving the project forward. All I need now is a few more hours in the day to work on it.

This week Iíll be working with the teachers of the Lebanon School District here is Oregon. Itís a bit like returning home for me, since there was a small town named Lebanon near my hometown in rural New Jersey, where I grew up. Weíll be exploring the world of nonfiction, as Iíll be doing with attendees of the Western Regional ORA Conference in a few weeks In Portland.

I know, I know, whereís the book? The Nonfiction Toolbox book that has been promised for x number of years. Well, Iím told that it will emerge from the melting Vermont snow this spring. Keep an eye on Barry Laneís website ( Thatís where it will be announced. Hopefully, SOON!

On the homefront, we continue the design of our house, on which we will begin construction in April. The plethora of details is challenging, bordering on overwhelming, but weíre proceeding. On a sad note, we have another sick dog here. Avaís dog, Heidi, has bladder cancer and is declining weekly. We are working hard to make her last days filled with love and comfort.

Give your dog (pet, partner, friend, self) an extra pat, walk, or treat today, and be grateful for its (his, her, your) health.

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A cautious hurrah! The most difficult part of writing a book about chewing gum is getting accurate information about the manufacturing process. Photographs that illustrate the process are even harder nuts to cracki. It is considered "proprietary" by the gum companies.

When I wrote The Chewing Gum Book in 1989, I was able to obtain some general information as well as some outdated, black-and-white photos. This time around, I'm going to do better.

While many gum companies are still reluctant to share, I am finding a few who are not. This could mean more detailed info about how gum is made and, more importantly, good quality pictures that will pique kids' interest.

I am hopeful...

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Sticky Stuff 
I've been spending the morning ruminating over the difference between latex, resin, and sap (NOT as in, "He's such a sap!). No these things are, or were, the substances from which gum was made. Each term has different shade of meaning (e.g. latex is a milking white substance, sap is a fluid part of a plant, latex is a solid or semi-solid amorphous natural organic...). Okay, heard enough. I understand, completely! Anyway, as I write my revised chewing gum book I have been coming across these terms. So, the mastic chewed by the ancient Greeks was referred to as "resin." The fluid from the sapodilla tree that the Mayans chewed (now called chicle) is "latex." And, the spruce gum chewed by Native Americans, or course, is "sap."

My objective is to keep this book straightforward and simple and, thereby, readable for kids. So, I don't really want to get into the scientific details nor the subtleties of the terms. After much thought (too much, most likely), I think I'll use "sap" since it seems broader and includes the other terms.

Whew! Anybody for moving on?

p.s. What you've witnessed here is one of the many dilemmas faced by nonfiction authors around the planet on a daily basis. How much to include is a constant question, espcially when writing for kids. I always try to slip into my 10-year-old self (not much of a stretch most days) and consider what I would like to face on a page.

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Tech Update 
Iím flying along here, back to my writing Ė now a new and improved version of The Chewing Gum Book I did in 1989 Ė when I get this technology urge. I do my work on a laptop, and itís kind of old (a ďdinosaurĒ Iím told), so I start researching something new, which of course takes time away from THE IMPORTANT THING. Well, I find what Iím after: a desktop system so I have more finger room on the keyboard and a screen I donít have to scrunch to view, and I order. A week or so later the boxes arrive and I have a dilemma: take more time away from THE IMPORTANT THING to set it up or wait until I have time?

So, I wait and in the meantime, my cell phone (my only phone) starts to fade, and itís old (another ďdinosaurĒ Iím told) and so I stop by a kiosk at the mall and the next thing I know is Iíve got this phone called Droid and itís got every thing I need except a bed-maker and car wash. I take the phone home and start to explore it. Thatís when I realize that in my flying zeal I have flown too close to the sun, and now my waxed winds are melting and Iím losing altitude. Fast.

What the hell am I doing with this phone?! I donít need to text. I hate texting! My fingers are too big to fit the keypad so I have to type everything three times to get it right! And the internet? I already have access to it. Do I want to carry that access around with me 24/7? Not a chance! But what about finding my way, getting to stores and restaurants and the like? UhhhÖhave you ever heard of asking someone? You know, a real personÖhuman contact and all?

So, obviously I took the phone back and got a more modest one, which I may even be able to use if I open the box and read the directions. And, Iíll do that in time, after THE IMPORTANT THING is done.

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I'm still writing. "Me" writing. It's helping.

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Do the sresses, strains, and challenges of being alive get in way of writing? Not necessarily.

A week ago my dog passed away. Sombra, my 15-year-old border collie mix, was a loyal friend and constant companion. She died at home, surrounded by love.

The experience of her passing did not diminish my writing efforts. It diverted them. Instead of working on the varied projects in which I am involved, I wrote for myself. The audience was me; the purpose: understanding. By writing my observations, thoughts, and feelings I have been better able to make sense of this loss. I have been able to put into words the gifts I received from this special creature. As I work further, I hope to focus on the lessons I've learned and, better yet, put them into practice as I continue my journey on this planet.

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And don't think think for a moment that writing matters have taken a backseat to teaching matters. They haven't. I have been working hard to find a home for a picture book bio I wrote about A.C. Gilbert, an amazing and inspiring man. Well, I think that is coming to fruition through a deal with Discover Writing Press.

While this press produces mainly books for teachers, they do have some children's books as well. I will be honored to have mine join the list. But, of course, there's lots of work to do to. I'll be involved at all levels, which has its advantages and disadvantages. Don't worry, you'll hear about them all. In the meantime, Google A.C. Gilbert and you'll see why kids should know about this eclectic and innovative man.

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