The Dig

Imagine

a place without rain

where whiteness stretches its long cracked fingers

above an ancient cave,

ivory rocks and ochre pebbles

the earth jewels that adorn.

Green veins on my hand spread,

startling like a dozen River Jordans,

while behind dark sunglasses

images move listless smoke

from the fires of wanderers.

Their tired horses have braided manes

and eyes darker than shadows.

I blink, and beckoning circles,

laughing voices that charm and cajole

disappear like silver earrings in pale sand.

Sweat drips on cool dirt

by pail, shovel and pick,

I dip my hand into fragments of clay and bone.

Sandra Dreis

Israel,  July 2016

ODE TO A SPUD

potato
I envy you,
unselfconscious earth dweller 
you
free to wink at root vegetables
with those mysterious fertile eyes
the Leonardo DiCaprio of food
no introduction needed
whether wrapped in foil 
or a wrinkled paper bag.

potato
now that I have met you
unwashed
lolling in giant clods of earth
or modestly half-hidden
from your curvy waist down 
gowned in gravel
still
I like your presentation.

potato
I get you
the way you stick your face right up into mine
as I glisten in the Israeli sun
you
not caring in the least how many eyes 
or blisters or bruises or sagging skin
you model.

potato
more than others I have carried in my pail
you are ugly and grotesque and beautiful
with all that you are
and all you are not
come along with me
and feed the hungry people.

potato
I dare you
pulled from dirt
so round and so not-round
plain yet ornamented
with fingers and toe and ears
with nodes and knots and silly noses...
come
be great
come feed the world.

Sandy Dreis
July 2016
(inspired by the vision of Rabbi Mark Cohen and Leket Israel)








HERE’S THE DIRT!

 

Like my terrier, I always have the need to dig…

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Whoops! Pawprints. This is Bear. My buddy. My precious dirty dog. My best male friend. A Jack Russell more or less. He was clean and sparkly white– right before this picture was taken. What I love about him is he’s true to his nature. Calling all terriers!

So what if there’s snow? So what if all the teenagers on the block, in the cul de sac, in the neighborhood at large–are sledding downhill just three feet from Bear’s fence. It’s cool. But not that cool. Digging is cool. Big difference between a few excited barks and a good excavation! If Bear were Sarah Palin, he’d be drilling. Thank goodness she’s in Alaska.

So much for those bulbs I planted in mid-October. Perriwinkle and ivy will just have to do. Perrenials are good for the dirt. Their long root systems prevent erosion!! How did I learn that…follow the clues…

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Got’cha. Speaking of dirt. “Dirt was an eye-opening, powerful documentary I viewed on Tuesday night at TEEM (Temple Emanuel Environmental Movement). There’s a devoted following of concerned adults. I say, bring on the young people! It would be great if parents would bring their teenagers for exposure to these excellent, educational topics. Besides, 7-9pm is do-able…right? Home in time for hot cocoa. (Now, Bear is technically a doggie teenager–but there are limits. He’d rather watch reruns of “Wishbone.”) The next TEEM environmental movie is February 4th: Green World Rising.

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Where’s the washcloth? Bath after breakfast for Bear. Guess that’ll be all the dirt for today. Time to go play in the snow. Darla, our little Mutt sister, won’t DO snow. She’s part Chihuahua, part Dachshund and low to the ground like a Lotus sports car. She’ll watch from the window or from under the covers. You dig?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here’s to my Young Adults…to my readers one and all

Know this: your uniqueness is your greatness.

My eighth grade English teacher, Mrs. A. was one of a kind. She had really short red hair, bright eyes and such an expressive face. I thought she was totally cool, though; and, she had to have been way old–like in her forties! She had us all in the palm of her hand on the first day of classes–(well, at least I can speak for myself.) How?

Because she got us. She understood something I couldn’t see at the time. To my surprise, possibly amazement, she said this.

“People. (she called us that a lot) I feel for you. I really do. You are at an age that is THE most difficult. The most challenging. There’s so much changing on the outside and so much happening the inside. It’s hard to sort it all out. Just know–I’m here for you. Okay? I’m here if you need to talk. Sometimes you just have to embrace the chaos. Trust me on this. You’ll make it through. But I don’t think you’ll look  back and say, ‘gee, I wish I was in my teens again.'”

Me, I was an excellent student. Nice face, normal weight. But, I wanted to have silky straight hair so badly I slept in beer-can-size rollers. I had to sleep on my back so not to hurt my ears. I’d wake up with a numb scalp and a stiff neck. (Luckily, my studious brain wasn’t affected.) I wanted to be pretty so badly I spent way more time putting on my eye makeup (this included blue eye shadow) than eating breakfast.

Then, one day, for no reason, I couldn’t swallow food. For two weeks at least. To this day I have no idea why. My mother tried to coax me; my dad yelled at me to cut it out. Who knows? For whatever reason, I resumed eating. Do you think something was bothering me? duh. I started counting every calorie. I had a little book for this. I’m so lucky I didn’t become anorexic; honestly, I might have gone down that path. I’m very lucky.

One of my best friends was very tall. She hunched over and slinked along the wall in the junior high hallway. My other good friend was teased and called ‘the undershirt kid’ because she wasn’t developed like big mouth Benson who should have used a crane to hold up her 40D’s.

What I want to say–is that the three of us grew up and turned out very okay. What we had then–was our uniqueness. Our individuality. We weren’t popular, weren’t cheerleaders, didn’t own the expensive trendy clothes. We saw the scene around us in the cafeteria, but we didn’t much care. We had each other even if we were on this side of geeky.

So, like Mrs. A. would have said, own who you are. Work on liking yourself. Cultivating your talents, your interests. Focus on the good. And please! Have compassion for the kids who have the need to conform. Above all, don’t hate them. They have a different path. Go ahead. Love YOUR road.

With best wishes for a year of peace and wonder.

Sandra Dreis

 

 

 

 

 

 

Doggone it!

Tango:  It’s mine!

Bear:     No, it’s mine!

Tango:  Give me that, Bear! You’re too young for this toy. It’ll warp you                       mind. Besides, the tag says not for dogs under 2 years of age.

Bear:    That makes me 14 human years. A teenager.

Tango:  I hadn’t considered that.

Bear:     Well, I’m a young adult now.

TUG. TUG.

So. What books should you share with your teenagers? Let me help you out here. I will be reading ten Young Adult award-winning books every three weeks. That’s my goal. It’s part of my vegetarian diet. Off to the library, I go, seeking stories that I can curl up with and finish in one or two sittings by the fire. Cup of hot cider. A cocoa with a swirl of whipped cream. I need a chance to be a kid from time to time (actually most of the time); and, this is my time to do it.

In short, I’ll be offering my own reviews. On my blog, I’ll call it, Sandy’s Shelves.

As an author, I’m always looking to see what is brilliant, surprising, touching and meaningful out there. So here goes a few suggestions of books that kids will enjoy if they are in middle or high school.

Many readers of Young Adult fiction are adults. Feel free to enjoy my suggestions without guilt– moms and dads, grandmas and pa’s.

Hoot, by Carl Hiaasen – A delightful Roy, age 12, takes you on an unusual and worthwhile adventure. Fun to read with bouncy dialogue for the middle schooler and up. Many of this author’s wacky environmentally themed romps are set in South Florida where development never seems to end and animal habitats are shrinking. Colorful characters brings lots of humor throughout. Owls rule, nobody drools.

Walk Two Moons, by Sharon Creech – This YA read features one of the               most heartbreakingly truthful characters since Holden Caufield. This              protagonist is female. The relationship with her country                                    grandparents is memorable, endearingly sweet, and funny. What did I            get from this novel? That sometimes very young people have to deal              with real life and death issues as they search for understanding; healing doesn’t happen on a set schedule–it takes whatever time it takes.

For more books close to my heart, tune in to my blog.

Enjoy, Sandy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Knock, Knock, I’m here…

IMG_3798 (1).JPGThanksgiving. I pack light. One carry-on and a small bag with my Kindle. Off to Nashville for the holiday. This time, I leave my cowboy boots at home. I’m here to visit with my daughter. And also, to present my newly published YA novel, Ecowarriors. My destination, Parnassus, is a small independent bookstore and a bit of a legend. Unique, of quality, delightfully cozy; a store the likes of which you don’t see much anymore. I’ve heard it has real atmosphere and book-loving dogs roaming about.

I head toward the busy intersection. Press the button by the traffic light with determination. Wait to cross. Protect that book. The heels of my cool black boots click as I make it across in the twenty seconds allotted by the digital traffic-God. I’m pleased with my choice of tight black jeans and leather jacket. My curly hair blows in the light wind. I’m wearing just the right shade of lipstick, too–what actors call, “leading lady.” I’m ready for my book audition.

I strut onto the sidewalk that leads past a few uninteresting stores. Then, on my left, I see my target. Parnassus is partly owned by one of my favorite authors: Ann Patchett. I loved Bel Canto. Read it twice. My stomach tightens when I see all the new books lovingly arranged in the window. Every book in the storefront looks important, perfectly placed.

I feel vulnerable, yet protective. It’s hitting me. Writing a book is very personal. This is my precious “baby” I’m carrying in my indestructible, dark-blue satchel.  I’m not selling vacuum cleaners or magazine subscriptions. I want these literary people to get excited about my eco-fantasy. After all, aside from a perilous adventure involving superpowers, the novel deals with the controversial topic of fracking. Equally wild and timely, the book will sell.

I’m struck–not by a Stephen King hardcover that’s fallen from the top shelf, but with anxiety. So, I quickly duck into an adjacent shop instead. It’a a maternity shop that’s going out of business. I quickly about-face. No place to hide here.  As I walk back to the storefront of Parnassus, my head fills with lyrics from a musical. This is a norm for me. This time, Chorus Line is going strong: “Give me a chance to look forward to sayin’–hey listen they’re playin’ my song!” I imagine my book filling the Young Adult shelves;  a large Sandra Dreis display in the window.

Once again, I manage to postpone the inevitable–and head for the nearby Chipotle. Food for thought is exactly what I need. Never pitch a book on an empty stomach. My Jewish mother told me that. Lunch will give me strength! So, I line up and order a burrito that slowly expands as I nod my head “yes” to everything remotely vegetarian. Suddenly, a monster burrito is sitting on my tray. I choose a drink, a Nantucket nectar, (noticing after paying) that it had over 60 grams of sugar.

Like a CIA operative, I sit at the narrow counter on a stool facing the Parnassus. I study it while I slowly eat every bite and hear my straw make that empty-bottle sound. Fortified, I pick a jalapeno from my front tooth. Courage and determination are now mine. I’m set. Confidence rises in me like a souffle. The moment of truth had come. Time to go forth and present Ecowarriors to the manager of Parnassus. I reapply lipstick and wash guacamole from my hands. I hold my satchel under my arm like a football. This play can’t be more than twenty yards.

Here, in front of me, the bookstore of my dreams. I enter. Floor to ceiling bookshelves, comfortable chairs, and yes, dogs. In fact, I almost step on a homely dog lying in the center aisle. Immediately, the people-friendly canine rolls onto its back inviting me to rub its belly. A good sign. Next, a smiling employee walks toward me with a dachshund slung over her hip in a carrier. I now understand why I was beckoned to Parnassus. This place feels right.

My eyes scour the shelves. A section in front of me is filled with books signed by local authors. Further back, I spot the mile-high Young Adult shelves. I pluck a few books, sit down and browse. Then, I remember why I’ve come. I stand and approach a pleasant young woman who is busy re-shelving. She tells me Parnassus is way too busy to deal with any new books until after Christmas. With a nod at my sell sheet, she takes my book and heads to the back of the store. Returning, she assures me my book is safely on the manager’s desk.

No drama. That’s it, I guess. At first, I’m not sure what to do. Then, I figure I might as well stay and enjoy the ambiance. I relax back into a soft rounded chair with half a dozen books. Not a bad thing. Not a bad thing at all. Hmm. What’s that they say? Good things come to those who wait…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Viewing the world in 3-D

I saw the musical “Hair” on Broadway eons ago, when some people reading this weren’t remotely BORN. Other readers of this eco-blog may have been in the row behind me in the theatre, wearing fringes and headbands. Nevertheless, some of the lyrics ring true to this day; maybe even more so than they did when I sang them in the shower back in the 70’s.

“Welcome, sulfur dioxide, hello carbon monoxide–the air, the air is everywhere!” (I suppose we can say the same thing about WATER, right?)

It took me a month to read and digest Naomi Klein’s powerful, mind-blowing non-fiction book, “This Changes Everything.” I underlined and highlighted and took so many notes–that now I’ll have to get another clean copy for my library to put next to this one.

The Aperture cinema was shockingly (to me) only a quarter full when Klein’s documentary, “This Changes Everything” was shown for one night only on October 20th. Though it was a Tuesday night at 8, I bought my ticket in advance to be sure and get a seat–and since I’m of legal age–a beer. The one and a half hour film was an excellent, global overview of the enlightening 500 page  book. (But don’t let size frighten you.) The movie is a fine summary, though–trust me on this.

A+. Yes, the documentary gets my A+ rating. Though not actually in 3D, the film paints a detailed, defining, data-backed picture of the reality of climate change as we face 2016. Klein takes us around the globe, from Alaska to the tar sands of Alberta, Canada–to Africa and Beijing. What is uplifting, yes, about the very bad environmental report card? Take heart. There is hope for the planet if we open our multi-pierced ears and computer-induced dry eyes and join a grass roots environmental organization. Get informed first; then, let our well-informed voices be heard.

Naomi Klein is my new hero. She offers a worldview that is beautiful and balanced and humane…”a worldview based on renewal…rather than depletion.” Naturally, since my book, (published October 30th, 2015) the eco-fantasy, ECOWARRIORS: The Bluffs of Baraboo, deals with frac sand mining, I was particularly excited about her thoroughly researched take on the blindness and short-sightedness of FRACKING. Hooray!  There’s now a moratorium on fracking in Stokes County!!

Air is key; water is key. Klein details the evidence that fracking puts our drinking water at great risk; that there are links between fracking and small earthquakes; that this kind of gas extraction causes leakage of methane into the atmosphere. Methane is one of the worst greenhouse gases, heating the planet much more intensely than carbon dioxide. And…if we don’t keep the watch on those rising temperatures–including the ocean–well…

Okay. There’s another lyric from a song I remember. (Tom Paxton?)
“Whose garden was this? It must have been lovely. Did it have flowers? I’ve seen pictures of flowers…I’d loved to have smelled one…”

Hope I didn’t wreck your day or anything. If you can, though, buy Naomi Klein’s book even if you have to read one page a day for…say a year. It’ll be worth it.

Sandy Dreis

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ECOWARRIORS – on sale now! www.sandrabdreis.com

Today’s blog is about the excitement of knowing that those 300 copies will all be sold by the end of 2016! What is even better? Well, already I have some wonderful events lining up.

BOOK SIGNING DECEMBER 4TH  –  4 – 8 pm 

My daughter and website designer, Haley, is flying in from Nashville for the BOOKMARKS book signing: Of course you will find us at: “The Green Table” #3 – which is in the lovely Reynolds Place Room at the Milton Rhodes Center on Spruce Street. I’ll be there with my green pen. There will be brochures and information about local environmental groups and activities.

TEMPLE EMANUEL TU B’SHAVAT – JANUARY 29TH – Friday 7:30

Great fun, great learning! Join in for an inspiring evening of hands-on activities. Participate in the lovely Jewish holiday celebrating the beauty of nature. Vivian Smith and Rabbi Mark Strauss-Cohn have invited me to present my book, ECOWARRIORS. Drama is never far from my mind; so, volunteers from the B’nai B’rith Youth Group will be cast in the roles of the four main characters in my young adult eco-fantasy. (Age 15) Come hear them read and act out scenes I have scripted from my book. See Cynthia Silber for scripts in the office of Temple Emanuel, starting November 20th.

TEEM ENVIRONMENTAL MOVEMENT – film, book presentation, discussion

TBA. Coming soon, Jim Tittle’s award-winning documentary, “The Price of Sand” will be shown at one of TEEM’s Thursday night events in 2016. The film deal with the epidemic of frac sand mining–the “sand rush” that is taking over huge areas of Wisconsin and Minnesota. This is a serious theme that underlies the daring adventures of my four teenage ecowarriors: Davie, Sharon, Carl and Melissa.

AMERICAN LIBRARY ASSOCIATION MIDWINTER CONFERENCE

Big news! My novel will be on display at this prestigious conference and exhibition taking place January/February 2016. THE ECOWARRIORS: Book One – The Bluffs of Baraboo will be featured by iUniverse/ Rising Star and Editor’s Choice endorsement in the Young Adult fiction category of action/adventure.

Stay tuned,

Sandra Dreis, Author (Sandy)

http://www.sandrabdreis.com

2badgeru.worldpress.com

Sandra B. Dreis

Well, here it is–my first blog post! Today my first book goes to print. Five beautiful letters. Give me a P, give me an R–okay, you get the idea and overflowing enthusiasm. Yes, PRINT! Took over five years to write the ecofantasy that needs to be written on behalf of Mother Earth and, of course, my own dearest mother, Harriet. Stay tuned. I’ll need about ten days to get everything organized on my website with the forthcoming details.

           ECOWARRIORS: Book One – The Bluffs of Baraboo

Why do you ask–are four teenagers given superpowers by a dynasty of badgers in order to save Wisconsin from a horrific, stalking sand monster? Let me tell you without giving too much away.

Do this. Imagine a nice large puzzle of the United States. One that you might find in a first grade classroom. Now remove ‘Wisconsin’ from the puzzle and put it in a food processor and turn it on low. Add chocolate milk. Or, if you don’t have access to a food processor, a blender will do. Or yet again, go on and take the puzzle piece outside and drop it in the dirt. If you don’t have dirt, a good sand box will work too. Now lift your New Balance sneakers and crush that piece of cardboard repeatedly. Go on. Mash it good. Grind it. Pulverize it.

Hey! What are you doing? Why are you listening to me? Aha…Well, now you get the feel for what frac sand mining is doing to the Badger State. The natural beauty of the landscape, riverbanks, pastures are being invaded in the great ‘sand rush’ that has been escalating like crazy in the past five years. That’s because Wisconsin is the country’s greatest source of this special sand. Hydrofracturing or fracking is a monster that must be fed–creating even more monsters: the pollution of our earth and water.

Yep. Those four solstice born teens don’t realize what they’re getting into! (Oops!) Makes for lots of action and adventure. I have to admit, my imagination really took off here. Like a blindfolded archer, I started the book without realizing where exactly=–it was going. I’ll tell you why. I didn’t think it was possible to write a whole book. I’ve been writing short poems and stories since I was a kid. But this? I doubted, at first, that I could do it. 50,000 words? 200 pages? I just let it rip. Just had to get it out on the page. Then later–edit, edit, edit and edit. What did I learn? Mucho–the hard way. Book two will have a major outline. I’m already on it!

I just want to share the excitement of writing for Young Adults. I like to have fun learning. Major fun! My inner teenager may be hidden, but it’s very much alive. To inform, to illuminate, to inspire: that’s my goal. To spawn a new generation of activists for the environment. Yes. Hope my first book does the trick. (Oh, you adults can read it, too.)

Thanks for taking the time to read my first ever blog. Would love to hear from you here or on my website.

website: http://www.sandrabdreis.com