Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Warming Winter Thoughts

Iridescent snow, light and airy, settled in on Saturday and then, said good-by with the morning sun. There was no snowman making, no shoveling, and little time to photograph nature's beauty. While the snow came as predicted, it silently departed during the night, leaving little to savor. To keep my thoughts of a whirlwind snowstorm fresh in my mind, I brought "outside in" with a winter scene by my fireplace.
I always decorate my home for each holiday or season. As vignettes are created, stories often emerge. Since Valentine's day is approaching I decided to focus on the beauty of a woodsy scene for my fireplace decor. Recalling a memory from the Northern Virginia nature trail, I recreated an encounter with a deer who stood quietly staring at the trees. Icy snow remnants crunched under his feet as he moved quickly away when I approached. Is he as cold as I? Am I frightened by him or he frightened by me?  
a story evolves
winter chill continues -
merging hearts needed
©CV, 2020

So, to add to my story, I added hearts around the house, many of which were handmade by mother.
winter peace fills my
house with reminders of love-
January warmth
©CV, 2020
There's  always room for a story that can transport people to another place."
It's Tuesday Slice of Life at Two Writing Teachers. Will you join me there?

Monday, January 20, 2020

Featuring "On a Snow-Melting Day: Seeking Signs of Spring"

Yesterday was a slip-sloppy, snow-melting day with bright sunshine on Long Island. 
Little children donned their boots to romp in snow-sloshing puddles while I choose to review a delightful new children's book. 
On a Snow-Melting Day: Seeking Signs of Spring, written by Buffy Silverman nature poet, photographer, and author of 90 nonfiction books for children, is a delightful book on nature preparing for spring's arrival. It debuts on February 4, 2020. 

Every page of the book is filled with bright, vivid nature photographs on a snow-melting, awaiting-spring day. Strong verbs and descriptive adjectives take on a playful nature as engaging rhyming brings to life a nature walk. Children eager to find out more about what they see on each page have access to back matter and a glossary at the end of the book. This coupled with a poetic, rhythmic flow of thoughts makes this book a power=packed opportunity to broaden content knowledge and vocabulary. 

While On a Snow-Melting Day is geared for children ages 3-8, I believe that my 2 1/2-year-old granddaughter will enjoy finger-pointing her way through the snow-melting day adventure. I can't wait to introduce her to this beautifully-designed story that has the feel of a poetic photo-journal for children. Whether you live in climates that share the wonders of late winter snow or not, this book encourages children to use their imagination to uncover the delights of nature and turnover of seasons. As Buffy says, "The world comes to life...on a snow-melting day."

Author's Thoughts:  
On a Snow-Melting Day started as an idea for StoryStorm 2018, in response to a blog post that encouraged writers to pay attention to what’s around them. Here’s what I wrote in my notebook:
                             It was a drip droppy  
                                   slip sloppy
                                          snow melting day 
Then, I wrote a couple more lines about mist rising, boots sinking in slush, puddles growing on the lake. My notes continued: Is there a story here or just a poem? Initially, I thought the image in my head was more of a poem than ta story idea, but I later decided to explore the idea more fully, I researched what different animals might be doing on a snow-melting day and tried to paint a picture of the landscape getting closer and closer to spring.             

Knowing that Buffy is a fabulous nature photographer, I was interested if she took all of the photos in the book. She replied:
Most of the photographs are stock photographs from professional photographers. But I did offer some of my own and was thrilled that they chose to include three of them.

Librarians, teachers, parents, enhance your personal or public library with this bright and vibrant story of a snow-melting day. You may also want to take your class outside with their notebooks to observe their natural surroundings with an option to write their thoughts on a winter-watching day. You can access the book on NetGallery and read reviews on Goodreads. 

Do you know that February 5th is World Read Aloud Day?
I  am looking forward to reading aloud On a Snow-Melting Day to my granddaughters. I hope you will join World Read Aloud Day, too, because Reading Matters! 

I also invite you to join me at #NYEDChat on January 27, 2020 from 8-8:30 pm EST for a Twitter chat on "the Year of Reading". My guest moderators, Peter H. Reynolds, Paul Reynolds, and Susan Verde, children book authors, are eager to chat with all interested. I plan on extending an invitation to librarians, educators, parents, students, and colleagues to celebrate the love of reading.

Thursday, January 16, 2020

Sweet Winter Gifts

on sandcastle dreams
the muse rides across
new year's dawning day
winter thoughts arrive
poetry postcards,
fresh morning greetings
a story evolves
crackle, fizz, flash, bang
some days we dash to win the race

new hope springs forth with
friendship shipped by air-
heavenly winter gifts
©CV, 2020
Thank you Jone MacCollach for continuing the Poetry Postcard Exchange and Kimberly Hutmacher and Linda Mitchell for their gifts of song. (Listen to that song below.)

As I receive so let me give and live with joy my whole life through...

And now I turn to the Poetry Friday Roundup that brings a variety of poetry gifts. Catherine Flynn is the host this week and has beautiful, winter haikus for hope. Stay tuned to next week's blog to see more poetry gifts from friends.
My granddaughter Sierra gave me a gift of story when I traveled to Virginia for the birth of her little sister. She told us about her nature walk filled with wonder. I listened and wrote what transpired. Click here. You will also find poetry gifts from Kevin Hodgson and Margaret Simon, who were kind enough to send me a comment with a poem in response to my post and poem. As they said, "Poetry begets poetry." 

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Sierra Listens Along the Path

Last week on a bright winter day, we waited patiently for a new life to arrive. Grandma, Grandpa, Uncle Derek, and two and half-year-old Sierra walked in stride, noticing, wondering, and being filled with hope. A little sister was soon to come into the world.

"What sounds do you hear, Sierra? What animals will we see, today?" As we walked, we listened to the sounds of nature. 
I stepped on a wilted leaf that still had a puffy look to it even weeks after autumn passed on. "Crunch. Crunch." 
Sierra watched, listened, and copied.
"Crunch, crunch", she repeated the process until we saw another wonder of winter.

"Crack. Crack." We stepped on frozen snow.
Sticks lay on the ground. I chose a long one to break into two.
"Snap. Snap."
We continued to walk along the trail, looking and listening.
We watched the waves ripple in the brook; saw a dog enjoying his walk; listened to a bird chirping. But when we heard an interesting, new sound, we were amazed.
"Peck. Peck."
We looked all around but only heard the sound, not the singer.

It was then that Sierra called a halt to our walk. 
"Listen! Listen."

She looked up to the very tops of sky-climbing trees but the woodpecker was hiding.
Children who listen and learn, grow on the path to lifelong learning. On this winter day, Sierra stopped, looked, listened, and told her story of a walk filled with wonder. Grandma listened and wrote what transpired.
The leaves, the snow,
And the sticks,
The dog, the bird, 
And the brook!
I can hear winter's sounds
As I walk the path
As soon as I pause,
listen and look.
©CV, 2020, Virginia

The above poem is based on James Sterling Tippett's first of three stanzas' poem, Familiar Friends, from Crickety Cricket: The Best-Loved Poems of James S. Tippet by Mary Chalmers. (Thank you poet Janice Scully for introducing me to this poem at Poetry Friday last week.)

The horses, the pigs,
And the chickens,
The turkeys, the ducks
And the sheep!
I can see all my friends
From my window
As soon as I waken
from sleep.
©James Sterling Tippett

It's Slice of Life Tuesday and writers from around the world join at Two Writing Teachers' site to offer their slices. 

Friday, January 10, 2020

Grandbaby Girl Arrives

Aurora, poetic name
soft as the dawn, fresh as dew
enters the world streaming light.

Painting the sky with color
and little joyful noises,
Finds rest against parent's chests.

As in princess tales, she drifts
Into sleep waiting for dawn
to greet a new world of love.
©CV, 2020

From months of expectant joy, we followed Little Baby's weekly growth. Today, she finally graced the world with a name beautifully crafted to represent the beauty of nature and the dreams of a fairytale princess. Aurora August will be greeted by my family full of love in about 10 hours. Although I have already seen her in photos and on Google Hangout, I am so excited to be in her presence.

I found William Blake's poem to commemorate the second day of Aurora's bith (even though she does have a name.) Joy will fill the room when we bring Aurora's big sister to meet her little one.
I have no name
I am but two days old.-
What shall I call thee?
I happy am
Joy is my name-
Sweet joy befall thee!

Pretty joy
Sweet joy but two days old,
Sweet joy I call thee; 
Thou dost smile. 
I sing the while 
Sweet joy befall thee.  

I am offering this post to the Poetry Friday writing community
who have known about this glorious event. Sally Murphy,
an Aussie poet is hosting the roundup this week
and sharing her way to support the horrible Australian bushfire tragedy.

Tuesday, January 7, 2020

Evening Balance

dreams dangle on threads of silken thoughts
luring us on to capture each one
evening shadows blanket each dream
©CV, 2020

created in Buncee

It is in the noticing and wondering stage that creativity sprouts seeds. The potential of the creative mind is limitless. I need to know that my sweetest dreams can grow into thoughts that dangle on silken threads waiting to be realized. I write to capture each one, balancing them in the pendulum of life.

My #OneWord2020 Balance in evening light
I send my Slice of Life on to Two Writing Teachers
and #EduBlogYear.

Friday, January 3, 2020

New Year's Day Thoughts

My thinking exploded on New Year's Day Mass when the priest decided to end his homily with a poem, In Memoriam, (Ring out, wild bells) by Alfred Lord Tennyson. This beautiful elegy provided time for me to contemplate about the old year and the new one.

In Memoriam, (Ring out, wild bells)

Ring out, wild bells, to the wild sky,
The flying cloud, the frosty light;
The year is dying in the night;
Ring out, wild bells, and let him die.

Ring out the old, ring in the new,
Ring happy bells, across the snow:
The year is going, let him go;
Ring out the false, ring in the true.

Ring out the grief that saps the mind,
For those that here we see no more,
Ring out the feud of rich and poor,
Ring in redress to all mankind.

Continue reading the poem here.

The church fell silent after the poem ended and I was filled with the positives of what can be in 2020. When I returned home, I reread the poem and found this beautiful song that lifts Tennyson's words. When I hear the church bells ringing in the future I will think of Tennyson's poem that inspired me to write about my one word 2020, balance here.

I plan on keeping a healthy assortment of positivity around me to balance my lifestyle. Will you join me in the one word quest? For the time being, I will follow the Poetry Friday Roundup road to  Carol Wilcox's blog site. Our host has an inspirational poem by Maya Angelou that makes me wonder if this was a tribute to the use of one word to guide the yearly journey.

Thursday, January 2, 2020


As winter settles in with green landscapes and warmth, a sense of newness surrounds. Neighborhood streets reflect a quietness. A lone squirrel dashes and scampers along bare branches while a couple of birds soar across trees. A neighbor walks her dog and another jogs along. Nature finds her balance and nurtures winter. 

stillness sustained
within patterns of life-
harmony nestles in
©CV, 2020
The reoccurrence of this scene helped shape my thoughts as  I waited with eager anticipation for the Times Square ball to drop on New Year's Eve. Along with millions of reflective individuals, I decided to use one simple world as an effective way to guide my 2020 journey. In the past, I chose the following words, openness, listen, believe, joy, hope, and embrace. They served me well. This year I looked through the eyes of nature to help me navigate the duality of life and merge my professional and personal sides into a workable flow. 

In 1917, poet Ella Wheeler Wilcox penned, The Year. This poem quickly became a mentor text for me that further shaped my thoughts about my one word.

What can be said in New Year rhymes,
That's not been said a thousand times?
The new years come, the old years go,
We know we dream, we dream we know.
We rise up laughing with the light,
We lie down weeping with the night.
We hug the world until it stings,
We curse it then and sigh for wings.
We live, we love, we woo, we wed, 
We wreathe our brides, we sheet our dead.
We laugh, we weep, we hope, we fear,
And that's the burden of a year.
What can be said of a year gone by?
Shall we reflect or wave goodbye?
I think I'll usher in another year
Filled with promise and good cheer
One that lets my imagination fly
To write my simple one word in the sky.
©CV, 2020

I introduce my #OneWord2020: 
not a hindrance, nor a burden,
an emergence of thought,
a breath of fresh ideas
interlocking  my two worlds,
professional and personal, 
into a design for an enriched lifestyle.
©CV, 2020
Why did I choose balance?
In my unretirement days, I have been struggling with finding balance in life. Sometimes my two worlds, professional and personal, intersect and other times they collide; the professional side  often overtakes the personal side. Balance is a word that promotes evenness and harmony just like nature painted a picture of such these past days. Balance has crept up in thoughts and digital inspirations for at least 5 years.

My quest to uncover a balanced life starts with small tasks, positivity, and a quote by Thomas Merton, the inspirational,s 20th Century monk, writer, theologian, social activitist, and poet. 

Happiness is not a matter of intensity but of balance, order, rhythm, and harmony.

Commitment Statement
This year, I enter a new year and a new decade with balance as my one word to :
Bare my soul. 
Align my thoughts.
Linger in solitude.
Always search for peace.
Notice nature's harmony. 
Cease the busyness to find
Evocative moments to savor.
©CV, 2020

"To every thing there is a season and a time to every purpose under the heaven." (Eccl. 3:1)
I am ready to share my blog post with my fellow writers at Spiritual Journey Thursday. My colleague, Margaret Simon, is our host this month at the beginning of the new decade. Sharing our one word is an annual event. Happy New Year to all!

Friday, December 27, 2019

Holiday Countdown

The countdown to our family's Christmas holiday started last weekend when we planned our trip. While the route from Long Island to Northern Virginia is not easy lately, it is one I anxiously await. 

After arriving in Reston, I started the countdown to Christmas with my 2 1/2-year-old granddaughter.  I woke early on  Christmas morning to find a glorious sight.

sunrise slipped through
winter trees, breaking silence-
earth bowed its head
©CV, 2019

Santa arrived a little later in his usual fashion, full of Christmas spirit.

jolly ho-ho-ho 
bells ringing, door clanking-
wide-eyed child listens
©CV, 2019

Now after the Christmas holiday, I begin two new countdowns: one to the new decade and the other to the birth of a January granddaughter. What could be better than ringing in the new year with a new addition to our family?  

winter joy, wonder
and hope fills frosted air-
new life cometh
©CV, 2019

There is one last countdown. As we travel back to Long Island, we are tired and feel cramped in our overpacked car. We long for the last stretch home but the trip seems endless. I decide to write a Fib, a poem created by Gregory K. Pincus using a Fibonacci sequence. The number of syllables in the following six-line poem is the sum of the previous two lines:  1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8.

Holiday Angst
like a slug,
hug holiday roads
filled with sore, worn-out travelers.
©CV, 2019

It’s Poetry Friday and finally arrived home after a long, tedious trip. There were some bright spots along the way, time to write and the opportunity to visit Michelle Kogan's site since she is the host of the final Poetry Friday roundup of the decade and an avid spokesperson on the environment and social justice issues.  

While my Poetry Friday sign shows snowflakes, I found no snow upon arrival. That is a plus when driving. Have a Happy New Year and a wonderful start to a new decade!

Friday, December 20, 2019

Tis the Season!

This week is crunch time in my home. There is always so much to do at this time of year: decorating, shopping, watching Hallmark movies, and baking, one of my passions. Being passionate about the holidays brings back the best of years-gone-by memories. Each Christmas season, I search for my favorite holiday cookie recipes that have been part of our family's traditional Christmas event. So, this year, I take out my favorite recipe book, Christmas From the Heart of The Home, by Susan Branch. My son decided to bake with me this week and true to tradition, I pulled out Susan Branch's book and created several recipes that were my mother's favorites. 

by Phoebe Boswall

Smells of baking remind me of you.
Your red apron, my small striped one with the torn pocket.
Your soft stretched skin, fingers kneading dough
into a ball. My fat floury hands
grasped for your amber necklace,
Quick, Phoebe, the oven!

You played with flavors,
made little blogs of buttery dough on the tray
Your warm kitchen, my safe haven.

You taught me your language:
bicarbonate of soda, self-raising flour, vanilla extract,
milliliters of milk, grams of sugar:
caster, muscovado, granulated.

Now your apron hangs empty on the peg.
I wear it from time to time; mine with the torn pocket
doesn't fit anymore.
Feeling nostalgic after baking a batch of one of my favorite holiday cookies, I decided to craft a golden shovel poem using the strike line: Smells of baking remind me of you.

Tis the season for sweet smells
to deliciously scent the hub of
my home. Each whiff of holiday baking
brings back sugary memories; remind
family of chocolate tastings, and me
recreating a long-seated passion of
baking with heart and following you.
©CV, 2019
Tomorrow, I will continue to bake and try my best not to be the messy baker I am in tribute of a loving artist, baker, and creative mother who offered her heart to all. 
Now, it is time to join this week's Poetry Friday host Buffy Silverman, children's author and poet of nonfiction books. Buffy is bringing to the writing community her almost solstice edition of Poetry Friday that focuses on the wonder of Liz Garton Scanlon's new lyrical book, One Dark Bird.