Friday, January 18, 2019

Invitation to Create Winter Digitals

The news flashes across the screen. Winter storms are attracting a great deal of attention but it is not expected that my little corner of the world will turn into a winter wonderland this weekend. I will rely on others to capture the beauty of the season. In the meantime, I imagine the sights and sounds of neighborhood after soft crystals twirl and dance in pixie-like fashion before gently folding into the earth as layered blankets.

Still wondering, I decided to transform original photos, the one above by Abdiel Ibarra from Unsplash and the image of the barren trees below that I that took during a past winter season. While layering and experimenting with digital tools, I created pieces of whimsical digital art that welcome winter into my thoughts.

I invite you to create alongside me for a seasonal gallery of artistic expressions.

Observe nature this winter. Capture the sights and sounds of the season through nature photography, family fun photos, image poems, #InstaPoetry, #haikuforhope poems, inspirational quotes, drawings, musical compositions, or any other creative digital format. 

  • All students and adults in and outside the Long Island, New York region are invited to reflect upon the winter season. 
  • Sign each digital that should be no larger than 450 pixels with your name and location so you may receive proper accreditation.
  • Offerings will be collected at my digital repository, #WinteringFun, on Twitter (@cvarsalona) and at my cvarsalona gmail account. You can also find me on Instagram as cvarsalona and FaceBook as Carol Varsalona.
I invite you to have fun capturing different perspectives of winter with your family and friends for my winter global gallery of artistic expressions.  The deadline for submissions is March 18, 2019.

Embrace the winter challenge! Be creative and expressive!

The title of this year's winter gallery is under consideration. I have looked at many different themes starting with Wintering Fun but the one that keeps spinning in front of me is Winter's Embrace. What do you think? 

Below are the tiles of the previous winter galleries that you can view on my blog site, Beyond LiteracyLink

Enjoy being creative and sharing your work globally.

Are you wondering when the Abundant Autumn Gallery will be unveiled?  I am still in the designing phase because of multiple technical issues, so stay tuned. 

The Poetry Friday'Roundup is hosted this week by Tricia Stohr-Hunt at her blog, The Miss Rumphius Effect. Tricia is honoring the memory of a great contemporary poet, Mary Oliver who has passed on. 

In tribute to Mary Oliver's amazing talent to weave words together to create a vivid visual and provide a deeper look into nature and life, I offer an excerpt from her poem,  "First Snow".
glitter like castles
of ribbons, the broad fields
smolder with light, a passing
creekbed lies
heaped with shining hills;
and though the questions
that have assailed us all day
remain — not a single
answer has been found —
~Mary Oliver~
excerpted from American Primitive

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

A Story Evolves...

January on Long Island marks the start of a deep winter chill while in Australia, my poet friend Kat Apel is experiencing the warmth of summer. While we may be seeing life from different perspectives, we can still exchange #InstaPoetry via Instagram. Kat is trying out new poetry forms this month so I decided to join in the fun. You can see the progression of thought on our Instagram accounts. (Kat Apel and Carol Varsalona)

While creating poetry, a story can evolve. Last week, I saw a beautiful sight in the sky as evening approached. I have been trying to recreate the incidence and finally have some ideas to share. 

Since this is my first attempt at writing a cherita, please comment so I can refine my development of the poetry form. A cherita is the Malay word for story or tale. It starts with a single stanza of one-line verse and is followed by a two-line verse and ends with a three-line verse. 

nature brushes january sky

pink streaks blend with headlight glare
as rush hour moves in parade formation

i wonder if others
slow down too, to view
winter's nighttime magic 
©CV, 2019, Long Island

I was writing with the #haikuforhope community in December and am continuing to use the hashtag as I see fit. Below you will see that I added a haiku to the original photo I took. It is a hope of mine to capture the uniqueness of nature every chance I get.

Lastly, I offer the first idea I had when I started using the photo as a prompt. I decided to digitize the photo using the app, Mobile Monet, as part of the designing fun for today's #InstaPoetry challenge

Now, I am wondering what the summer sky at evening time looks like in Australia?

It's Slice of Life Tuesday at Two Writing Teachers. As I linked up, I noticed the introduction to today's slice of life, "Entering the Slice of Life community through stories is like exhaling a breath of your own life and then taking in the next through the stories of each other." I look forward to reading the stories of others and seeing what Kat Apel posts from January. 

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Winter Settles In

Each morning of this week, winter's arms reached out like barren branches hoping for a rush of warmth. The sun, playing hide and seek, poked in between sweeping clouds making its way slowly toward evening. As the indigo sky darkened earth, stillness laid its blanket down. Nature rested, knowing that the next day would follow in a similar pattern. 

Yesterday, as I traveled east, from one end of Long Island to my destination, I noticed that each town we passed had the same barren look. Vast arrays of trees, leafless and still, made me feel that nature was ready to embrace the winter chill. After arriving home from a wake, I started thinking about the cyclical pattern of the seasons. Winter walks in with a chill and settles down. T.S. Elliot describes this in his poem, Prelude, which is divided into four parts.

The winter evening settles down
With smell of steaks in passageways.
Six o’clock.
The burnt-out ends of smoky days.
And now a gusty shower wraps
The grimy scraps
Of withered leaves about your feet
And newspapers from vacant lots;
The showers beat
On broken blinds and chimney-pots,
And at the corner of the street
A lonely cab-horse steams and stamps.
(You can read the rest of the poem here.)

I was struck by Elliot's first line, "The winter evening settles down." Coincidentally, it pairs beautifully with my title, so I decided to try a golden shovel poem to exemplify my thoughts. 

"The winter evening settles down"

As nighttime approaches, the
sun's warmth fades and winter
holds court in the glint of evening.
The house forgets to fire up and settles
into its own pattern of laying down.
This week, I started joining poet Kat Apel at Instagram for #MoPoetry2019 and some insta-poetry. Today, I decided this would be a great way to share my haikus with her since she is hosting Poetry Friday from Australia where it is summertime. I'm waving to you, Kat, from a cold, wintery day on Long Island, New York. 

While I am designing my Abundant Autumn Gallery for its upcoming unveiling, I am welcoming winter to share its beauty with the world. Please consider sharing your insta-poetry and image poems with me. for showcasing at the gallery. 

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Holiday Memories

photo memories
collaged for posterity-
welcome the new year
©CV, 2019, Virginia

holiday smiles
brighten drab winter days-
memories archived
©CV, 2019, Virginia

When my children were toddlers, great care was taken to add memorable photos to an album. Decades later, the albums are tattered and boxes of loose photos are layered in a closet waiting for sorting. I wonder what will become of them. Will my children's photos become artifacts, age-worn with torn edges, like the black and white photos of my toddler days? More importantly, will my grandbaby ever want to sift through unorganized photos to find the ones that recall Christmas past with her family? 

This topic came up recently as my friends and I talked about moving. What happens to the boxes of photos during a move. Is there time to sift through them to recall events? As I clean the closets, I will have to make decisions of which ones to keep. It is so much easier with digital photos. One look and if it does not meet standards, a click of the keyboard deletes an unwanted memory or another click enhances once. Technology has changed the way I think about one of my favorite holiday pastimes: family photo taking.

I'm joining poet Kat Apel at Instagram for #MoPoetry2019 today. While Kat is having fun taking photos of summer in Australia, I am here doing the same for chilly winter days on Long Island. 

It's Slice of Life Tuesday at Two Writing Teachers and I feel nostalgic about the holidays. 
How about you?

Saturday, January 5, 2019

Celebrating New Year's Eve Poetically

With a rush of color morning broke. The window flung open to witness a nonstop motion disrupting the stillness of a cold winter day. Blue hays and cardinals gathered in style, fluttering their wings to share their bold colors and uttering loud bird calls signaling the start of flight. Barren branches swayed as flashes of color crisscrossed the sky while the caramel-colored cat nonchalantly walked across the street, undaunted by the sky dance above. New Year's Eve began its countdown.

Each morning since New Year's Eve I have waited for the blue jays and cardinals to return for their sky dance but unfortunately, they have not. I am grateful to have ended the year with this amazing sight and look forward to embracing* many more moments this winter to delight in its seasonal beauty.

*Embrace is my one little word for 2019. You can read how it came to be here.

I may be late for the Poetry Friday gathering, but am still eager to share my poetic thoughts, continue my #haikuforhope writing, and enjoy visiting my colleagues' posts that are linked at Sylvia Vardell's blog site, Poetry for Children. As host of the first Poetry Friday of the year, Sylvia is treating us to her sneak peek of all the poetry books for children that she knows will be published this year. 

Thursday, January 3, 2019

Embracing My One Little Word

The chill of winter is in the air. The earth has hardened in the garden beds and the neighborhood cat is searching for porches to sit upon. Nature is embracing its seasonal change as I ready myself for a new year. 

one simple word
special in its intent-
greets 2019
©CV, 2019

Each year, one little word guides my journey. Last year, 2018, was one of ups and downs but my one word, hope, was working in the background to support me. I recall poet Mary Lee Hahn sending me a lovely sticker and pin, Embrace Hope, that highlighted my OLW. Little did I know that the word embrace would wait a full year for its turn to be a change agent. 

My choice for a 2019 OLW was validated during December, as the word embrace popped up several times in conversation and text. The final affirmation came when I read Mary Lee Hahn's December 28th Poetry Friday post. She stated, "Next time we gather it will be 2019 so early best wishes for a new year full of dappled things and the embrace of change." That statement was an "aha" moment. Embrace could take on different forms, both as a noun and verb and I could combine it with other thoughts to extend its reach. The basic intent will be to move forward journeying onward to become a better version of me.


Now, I am ready for a new year full of wonder and the embrace of change though it may be an uncomfortable prospect. The following thoughts will be starting points. Wish me luck!
  • "Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you." 1 Peter 5:7
  • "Don't be afraid of new beginnings. Don't shy away from new people, new energy, new surroundings. Embrace new chances at happiness." Billy Chapata, writer and poet 


I am joining the Spiritual Journey first Thursday community for our monthly writing get-together. This month, Ruth Hersey, is today's host.

Thursday, December 27, 2018

Early Winter Walk

In the glare of the midday sun, we travelers peacefully walk along a winding Virginia pathway, canopied by towering trees left leafless from autumn's parting. Only faint sounds of children are heard from a distant playground when suddenly, the sky opens to a swoosh of flight. Two stealthy hawks dart upward showing their soaring prowess while an owl quietly rests. Nature holds court in its sanctuary of stillness as early winter enters. 

december stillness 
embraces fall's resting breath-
winter finds her home
©CVarsalona, 2018


Many thanks to my poet friends, Linda Mitchell who wrote a haibun in response to one written by Laura Shovan. A haibun is a poetic form that combines a prose poem with a haiku. In this sequence, I focused on autumn's departure, winter's arrival, and one of the nature trails that are prevalent in the Reston, Virginia neighborhood where my daughter, son-in-law and grandbaby live. 

My one word hope has followed me throughout this year and especially during the month of December as a group of poets have written under the hashtag #haikuforhope.

Since I missed Poetry Friday last week because of pre-Christmas travel to Virginia, I look forward to joining our host Donna Smith this week and reading what my colleagues have for the last Poetry Friday of 2018. 

I will be offering my Abundant Autumn Gallery to social media soon. Stay tuned!

Friday, December 14, 2018

#haikuforhope-Crescent Moon

Since I cannot wish upon a star here on Long Island, I have been staring at the crescent moon for several nights. It has provided a brilliant light in the dark indigo sky and has become my channel for hope this week.

Day 1

Day 2

Pixabay Photo

weary from to-dos
rushed pace sets holiday tone-
moon slice quiets earth
©CV, 2018


As I am in the decorating mode, preparing for Christmas, the following #haikuforhope evolved.

crescent moon shimmers
decorates holiday sky-
amidst darkness
©CV, 2018

Thanks to my Poetry Friday writing colleague, Catherine Flynn, a group of writers are engaging in a daily writing practice, #haikuforhope. I have been happy to participate in this community effort with Linda Baie, Mary Lee Hahn, Julieanne Harmatz, Molly Hogan, Jone MacCulloch, Linda Mitchell, Heidi Mordhorst, Jean LaTourette, Mandy Robek, and Margaret Simon beside Catherine Flynn.

My one word for 2018 is hope so this writing opportunity is extending my reflecting time.

Now I turn my attention to the Poetry Friday Roundup at Laura Shovan's blog. Laura has a special guest, poet Jona Colson, who is sharing a beautiful winter poem full of imagery, just it time for the official transition of fall into winter.

Note: I have collected the artistic expressions that were sent to me for my upcoming Abundant Autumn Gallery. December is a busy month so I have not had the time to start the design phase. Stay tuned. 

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Finding Hope in Writing

Each year, I say I'm going to decorate the outside of my house on a warm day.
Every year, I seem to miss that opportunity.

This past weekend with temperatures below freezing, I was outside setting up my holiday front entrance. Needless to say, I had to run inside to warm up several times. On the third day of decorating, my husband and I went out shopping for small spruce plants to fit in my outside pots. While searching for these items, I saw a nostalgic site in our local nursery-a first! We don't have the opportunity to see trucks like these on Long Island. 

so cold outside
holiday truck parks indoors-
shoppers' delight
©Carol Varsalona, 2018, Dee's Nursery, Long Island


While I was bundling up for the cold weather, I received a photo from my daughter. It appears that my grandbaby is not daunted by the weather. I can't wait to visit her for the Christmas week. My hope will be that it warms up by then. 

so cold outside
her little nose is reddened-
unfazed by weather
©CVarsalona haiku, photo by Devin Hartnett, 2018, Virginia


Thanks to a Poetry Friday writing colleague, Catherine Flynn, a group of poets and slicers from Slice of Life Tuesday are engaging in a daily writing practice, #haikuforhope. I am happy to participate in this community effort with Linda Baie, Mary Lee Hahn, Julieanne Harmatz, Molly Hogan, Jone MacCulloch, Linda Mitchell, Heidi Mordhorst, Jean LaTourette, Mandy Robek, and Margaret Simon beside Catherine Flynn.

My one word for 2018 is hope so this writing opportunity is extending my reflecting time.


It's Slice of Life Tuesday at Two Writing Teachers. There are a couple of reviews of new books on writing that are intriguing me. Interested? Join me here