A Sneak Peek at our New Book – And Sometimes Y


Julia and I are super-excited to learn that our new book, And Sometimes Y, will be published by Do Life Right, Inc. by the end of the summer! This book follows the adventures of the characters of The Howling Vowels— Alexa and her four best pals–three years after the conclusion of that book. It also introduces a new human character and several memorable animal characters.

We haven’t seen all of the illustrations yet, but knowing Heather Newman’s work, we know that they will be amazing. Here is a sneak peek: the cover and the first chapter. Stay tuned!

Leslie and Julia







Click HERE or on the image below to read Chapter 1 of And Sometimes Y.

And Sometimes Y Front Cover

 Other News

MailboxThanks to everyone who has inquired about Peanut’s health. Despite the hairline fracture he sustained on May 21, he is recovering very quickly. (In fact, we are hard-pressed to keep him from jumping up and down onto furniture.)  He will be x-rayed next week and, with luck, will be able to ditch the splint and pressure bandages (and the clear plastic bootie, handily fashioned from an IV bag and strip of gauze, which he has to wear whenever he goes outside.) The vet’s office made him this duck decal as a Clean Bandage Award!

Way to go, Peanut!

Peanut with Cast Closeup

Amo, Amas, Amat: Learning to Love Latin

Latin Play 2010 Julia as Marcus Favonius

Julia is advancing as a Latin scholar much more quickly than I ever have. In fact, I have tried four times to learn Latin, and I still don’t have the endings memorized — and I am not sure I ever will. But I have learned to love the language.

The first time was in seventh grade. Because my family had just immigrated to Australia, my grade placement was called Form One. A school in Melbourne called Norwood High School offered a few foreign languages, and I took Indonesian and Latin for the one term I was there. I remember one two-sentence exchange in Indonesian (“Ini apa? Ini buku.” “What is that? This is a book.”), and I learned that in Australian schools of that time the top student was called “dux”, (from the verb, ducere, which means ‘to lead out’ and from which we get the English word ‘to educate’.) A ‘dux’ is perhaps a little like a valedictorian in a senior high school class. I thought it was weird, but that was the year I thought everything was weird because I had attended three different schools in a foreign country in nine months. The next school I attended was called Tintern Church of England Girls Grammar School. Though the year I was a student there I studied French, Tintern’s Latin motto was emblazoned on the school bags we carried: ‘Factis Non Verbis’ or ‘By Deeds Not Words.’ As a poet, this deeply annoyed me.

Latin Amo Amas

The second time I tried to learn Latin was the next time I moved to a school that offered it: West High School in Appleton, Wisconsin. There, for one year, I learned a little grammar and vocabulary, enough to slip notes to my best friend that said things like: ‘Magister porcus est.’ (‘The teacher is a pig.’)

The third time I attempted to scale the Latin language was for fun, not for grade or credit. I spent two years in a Master of Fine Arts program at McNeese State University in Lake Charles, Louisiana studying poetry, teaching freshman composition, tutoring in the remedial English lab, and working at the circulation desk at the library. Despite having no time, I jumped at the chance to move a little ahead with Latin when a gracious and generous teacher, Elaine Carlton, offered to teach a few of us graduate students for free. My progress was slow, but the clarity and beauty of the language was a restful oasis at a very stressful time of my life.

Fast-forward to 2006, the year Tim and I began homeschooling our then-first-grade daughter. Though Tim’s Latin was limited to dim memories of altar-boy phrases, his love of classical history was fierce. Julia was also keen to study languages and had already begun with French and Spanish while yearning for Greek and Middle Egyptian and Linear B. We all agreed that in constructing our own curriculum it would be a natural thing to build onto the romance languages she’d begun exploring, and Latin would be a stepping stone into languages of the distant past. I could help for a while. And materials for young children abound in both classical and medieval Latin, whereas they are rare indeed for classical Greek. Recently, I asked Julia what her favorite resources for Latin study have been, and her answers are summarized on the Latin page of the Homeschooling section of this website.

I will never be the Latin scholar that Julia is becoming, but often Latin is a hoot and takes me to surprising places. Latin has caused me to sing along at the celebrated St. Olaf College Latin play—the inspired brain child of Professor Anne Groton, combining English & Latin with Roman dramatic constructs and outrageous punning lyrics worthy of Gilbert and Sullivan (http://wp.stolaf.edu/classics/st-olaf-latin-plays/).

Latin compelled me to figure out how to cover an old, rectangular metal cake pan with a thick layer of beeswax (which smells heavenly) into a ‘tabula rasa’ and convert an orangewood stick into a stylus.

Latin history allowed us to add a layer to an arts & crafts/science project in 2008 when we built a papier-mâché volcano, painted it, and invited another homeschooling family to make it erupt (using a mix of baking soda, vinegar, and red food coloring). We added a tiny paper figure from a construction project–a-Roman-villa kit–to the vicinity of the volcano, called him Pliny the Elder, and transformed the nameless volcano into Vesuvius. (Unlike the historical Pliny, who rowed closer to the danger, our Pliny stand-in screamed, jumped up, and ran for cover many, many times. But alas; he, too, was toast in the end.)

Latin coaxed me, garbed in my bathrobe, onto a film, shown in public, to recap the role of the Forum Romanum (a series of Latin language newscasts created by The American Classical League) gentle weatherman, Aulus Serenus, (‘Fair Wind’) when a group of Northfield kids and parents put on our own double-header of a Latin play in 2010. (See the map below: I thought of a key line, ‘in Britannia, pluit, ut semper’ or ‘in Britain, it is raining, as always’ frequently during this wet, Minnesota spring.

Latin Play Map Horizontal

For our family, Latin sparks discussions and gives us hearty laughs surprisingly often. My favorite joke is a riff on Julius Caesar’s famous statement: it tweaks the pithy ‘Veni, vidi, vici’ (‘I came, I saw, I conquered.’) into ‘Veni, vidi, Velcro’ (‘I came, I saw, I stuck around.’)

We sometimes ask Julia to teach us new Latin words over dinner and enjoy imaging ways that Tim could employ Latin phrases in the corporate world. To this end, we’ve enjoyed the work of National Lampoon co-founder Henry Beard’s books, Latin for All Occasions and Latin for Even More Occasions (Villard Books, 1990 & 1991). For instance, under “For the Airport’, Beard suggests belting out “Recedite plebes! Gero rem imperialem!” when lines are too long (“Stand aside, plebians! I am on imperial business.”) The sounds, sentiment, and humor of this phrase caused me for a time to repeat it so often that I drove poor Julia to sighing, eye-rolling, and the occasional head clunk on the dining room table.

Latin for All Occasions

Another delight is seeing how a beloved children’s book is transformed by Latin. There aren’t enough of these, in my opinion. I would love to encounter the immortal Madeline or Where the Wild Things Are in Latin. But I do have Winnie Ille Pu translated by Alexander Lenard (Dutton, 1962) and Ferdinandus Taurus  translated by Elizabeth Chamberlayne Hadas (David McKay Company, Inc., 1962). I particularly love the description of how Ferdinand’s mother lets her son do his own thing: “…et quod erat mater sagax (…and because his mother was wise) etsi vacca, (although she was a cow) eum ibi modo sedere et laetum esse sinebat (she let him just sit there and be happy.)”


Far from dry and dusty exercise, growing familiarity with Latin is making clear how much of our language and culture (Medicine! Law! Philosophy! Botany! Astronomy! English vocabulary!) are nurtured by Latin (and Greek). It is fun to be able to see the Latin roots glowing behind the English words like ghostly pentimentos, and to be able to understand the grammar behind that little phrase on every coin, ‘E pluribus unum’, (‘Out of many, one’) that is a defining characteristic of the democratic point of view.

Not too long ago, Tim and I finished viewing one of our favorite Teaching Company sets of DVDs, John Hale’s Classical Archaeology of Greece and Rome. I would like to borrow his ending for this post. Professor Hale quotes a Roman architect, Lucer, who built the bridge at Alcántara in the west of Spain, in the old province of Lusitania. This architect created the highest bridge in the empire for the Emperor Trajan in 175 C.E., and also built a temple directly in line with the bridge. On the temple, Lucer inscribed this statement: “Pontem perpetui mansuram in saecula mundi.” (“I have built this bridge to last forever, through the ages of the world.”)

In this age of rapid obsolescence and vanishing pixels, there is something wonderfully comforting about the lasting, solid structures of language, and of Latin in particular.


Poems by Two Fathers

Spring for Post #4 June 12With Father’s Day on the horizon, I got curious about the origins of this holiday. I was moved to learn that it was first launched by a daughter, Sonora Smart Dodd, in 1910. Dodd wanted to honor fathers like her own, William Jackson Smart, a Civil War veteran and single parent to six children. When the holiday didn’t catch on initially, despite the support of then-President Woodrow Wilson, Dodd renewed her efforts to make it a national holiday during the 1930s. Finally, through a presidential proclamation in 1966 followed by a bill signed in 1972 by President Richard Nixon, the third Sunday in June officially became the day on which we honor fathers in the United States. This determined daughter began her efforts honor the contributions of fathers to their families when she was twenty-eight years old; she lived to see the fruits of her labor in her ninetieth year.


Father’s Day is big news at our house every year. For weeks in advance, Julia and I think of surprises and treats for Tim. This year, we are planning a picnic to River Bend Nature Center, where Julia and Tim have taken science classes and volunteered to dust the natural history specimens. The particulars are top secret, but with a special menu, trivia quiz, handmade cards, new wardrobe items—and a rare afternoon of Doing What Dad Wants To Do—we think he’ll enjoy the day. Tim’s choices will probably involve some televised sports, and Julia and I will probably keep our humorous comments regarding sports to a minimum.


In the spirit of the day, I wanted to spotlight the creativity and sensitivity of dads, and so I include two poems here. The first is by Tim and became an instant favorite when I read it earlier this spring. The second is one by a poet from whom I have learned a great deal: Ronald Wallace, founder and co-director of the Creative Writing Program at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where I did my undergraduate work. (All his volumes of poetry and criticism are delightful. For a full list, please check his bio pages.) His poem below is a palindrome, a rare form that reads backwards and forwards the same. It is a technical tour de force, but the real trick is that it is such a heartfelt evocation of the loved shared by fathers and daughters. I have had this poem memorized for decades, and every time I recite it I feel a little choke in my throat.

Hope you enjoy these poems. Have a great Father’s Day!






ApplesApple for You (November 2000) copy

How can this tree flourish, untended,
In my grandfather’s orchard,
This island in the returning prairie?

I pick a yellow apple,
See its luster and bruises,
Know I’m caught between past and future.

I give it to my young daughter.
She savors it; understands perfectly.

Timothy Braulick
(Copyright 2013; used by permission; all rights reserved.)

Palindrome: Fathers and Daughters

Ronald Wallace

Fathers read to daughters,
teach love of words and stories,
their hearts full of light.
The fathers give to love
the only hope they have.
But have they hope only?
The love to give fathers
the light of full hearts.
Their stories and words of love
teach daughters to read fathers.

Ronald Wallace
(Copyright 1983; used by permission; all rights reserved.)

Click HERE to read Ronald Wallace’s bio at Poets.org

Other News


For many years, I have been fascinated by labyrinths, those deceptively simple but sophisticated technologies for mediation and healing. This week, I added two new pages on labyrinths; later this summer I plan to post an interview with labyrinth maker Marilyn Larson.




Here’s a wonderful collaboration between hard-core science and light-hearted, grassroots art: NASA is inviting everyone to contribute a haiku to be considered to be carried into the Martian atmosphere. In addition to the three winning poems, the first names of everyone who submits will also be carried to the red planet’s atmosphere. Poems must be submitted before the end of June. For full contest rules, please go to http://lasp.colorado.edu/maven/goingtomars/contest-rules/

And what’s more, the public gets to vote on winning poems—kind of like “Dancing with the Stars”.

Between July 1 and July 29, 2013, do visit http://lasp.colorado.edu/maven/goingtomars/contest-rules/ to vote.Mars Rock II

Even though the odds are…well, astronomical…I can’t resist submitting one. Or writing five. If you would like to start voting early, I invite you to help me decide which I should submit. I will be submitting mine the last week in June. Be sure to get me your vote by June 22, 2013. You can vote in the Comments section at the end of this post.

Mars Haiku (by Leslie Schultz)

We lie awake, Mars,
wondering: how did you make
ice? Your rock-red heart?

Mars, we lie awake
wondering what lies under
ice caps, heart-red rock.

Not strawberry, flame,
cardinal, antique barn door,
ruby. Still secret.

red marble rolling:
blue marble comes calling now
across icy space

Mars: humans fight fear,
laws of physics, driven by

And if you would like to publish your own Martian haiku here on Planet Earth, send it to me, and I will devote another post to Mars haiku in the long dog days of summer. Then sit back and know that, win or lose, your name will rocket into space later this year and next year will do an orbiting dance in the Martian atmosphere.

For someone who values words, this is literally as high as one can aspire: go for it!







Other News 

MailboxMars and Earth images are public domain images which were found on the bitbox post, 35 Stunning Hi-Res “Public Domain” Astronomy Images

For a lighthearted take on Saturn energy, take a look at a new page on the ancient topic of labyrinths, a long term exploratory and publishing interest of mine. Click HERE to visit Winona Media’s new Labyrinth’s page.