Friday, September 20, 2019

Gratitude Days

Days are getting shorter and there is an early autumn feel to the last days of summer. I am grateful for the beauty of life and its transitions. Thinking about the #21daysofgratitude challenge and Michelle H. Barnes' Ditty Challenge offered by Jane Whittingham, I created an all-about-me acrostic poem.

Recently, I created a definito poem, Within the Silence and a tribute, We Remember 9/11  to the people in my hometown who perished in that horrific tragedy. As I ready to facilitate a regional meeting for literacy leaders, I take a few minutes to meet with my Poetry Friday friends who are gathering at the gracious Linda Baie's blog. I am grateful for all these opportunities.

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Within the Silence

After I woke from another odd dream on Sunday morning, an uneasy feeling overcame me. With gratitude for the silence of the house, I started reading my morning book of inspiration. I began to settle into the stillness.  Words started popping into my head.

Within the silence 
this Sunday morning,
there is a gentle calm.
It floats in and out
centering my mind,
removing the clamor 
of the outside world.
I hear the hushed sleep
of a newborn's world.
I feel the placidity of a 
rippling lake in sunshine.
Within the quietness 
of this moment, I indulge
in the warmth of self-love,
feel the letting-go sway
of restless thoughts,
and bask in the splendor
of serenity and stillness.
Quietude has found me.
©CV, 2019

I took this poem to another level of creativity when I paired it with an inspiration quote on top of a digitized photo of a waterfall in autumn. 

What poured out was a definto poem, the format created by Heidi Mordhorst. A definito highlights wordplay as it demonstrates the meaning of a less common word, which always ends the poem. I do love the word quietude and realized after I wrote the above poem, that I created other definitos using the same word a few weeks ago. 

I am sharing these Tuesday thoughts, my slice of life, with Two Writing Teachers
while at a state ecuation conference.

The above digital inspiration will be part of the Abundant Autumn Gallery collection.

Thursday, September 12, 2019

Be a Word Collector

There is magic in the art of word collecting.  What starts with noticing leads to wonderment. For me, each seasonal encounter with life opens a new world of thought as ideas pop and squirm, then find a spot to land.  Each landing invites opportunity to create and massage words into nuggets of thoughts.  From this point onward, thoughts crystalize and dance around the page until their placement is finely suited for their surroundings. 

Word collecting is an essential stage of writing; the foundation that links the noticing stage to the development of thought, leading to multiple possibilities.  Trusting myself as a writer brings me closer to the power of pen to paper or keyboard to print.  Remembering that it takes time to collect words and understand their potential excites me. 

Author and illustrator Peter H. Reynolds introduced the idea of word collecting as a important phase of a child's development as a writer in his inspirational picture book, The Word Collector.  You can listen to Peter's short introduction to his book by clicking on the illustration below. 

Are you ready to notice, reach for your own words, and wonder how to use them to tell your story?  Be a word collector and let each new word, set of words, and thoughts lead you to wonderment and creation.  I invite you to notice the world, listen for words that amaze you, and create like I did below. You can use Buncee to bring your words to life.

Below is poem 2 of a three-poem series in my Be a Word Collector series

At the end of Peter Reynolds' book, Jerome watches joyful children collecting the words he released.  Like Jerome, I wish to celebrate words.  I am looking for children to send me their words transformed into seasonal poems for future galleries of artistic expressions.  Voice becomes amplified when we find authentic ways to let them soar.  

If you stroll over to Laura Purdie Salas' blog site you will see why she is so excited this week. Stay long enough, add to her Padlet, and perhaps you will win a free, signed, personalized copy of her newest published book, Snack, Snooze, Skedaddle

Thank you, Laura for hosting Poetry Friday this week. 

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

We Remember 9/11

I woke late this morning, rushing to yoga. As I traveled down the street in front of the 9/11 village memorial, I remembered a night eighteen years ago. Townspeople, young and old, gathered together, weeping, hugging each other, remembering forty plus loved ones who perished in the 9/11 tragedy in New York City. We celebrated their lives to honor their memories. Since then there has been an annual ceremony each year in the Village Green. 

I, too, honor the memory of Rockville Centre fallen heroes comprised of Wall Street business people, firefighters and police. The short found poem below is a revised compilation of blog titles I have written over the years. Each blog post identified in red is a painful memory and a tribute to those who perished.

as the bell tolls,
names are read,
flags unbound, waving proudly,
and heartbreaking headlines shared.

numbered in the sky,
is our town's tradition.
Village Green is ready.
We shall remember
and wait for a 
Rainbow of Possibilities.
©CVarsalona, 2019, Rockville Centre, NY

It's time to listen to "Fallen Heroes" written by Nelson Blanchard and Carmella Inchierchiera, their "tribute song and video dedicated to the Fallen Heroes of 9-11 who paid the ultimate price and the victims they struggled to save."


Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Trusting Yourself as a Learner

In the late evening hours long after the last tweet came across the screen, I sat perplexed. #NYEDChat's return to Twitter was a successful #StartStrong chat. Many new educators came on board ready to listen to the wisdom of the dynamic duo of Kassandra Minor and Cornelius Minor. The topic, Bringing "All Students Can Learn" To Life Through Culturally Relevant Pedagogy and Anti-Racist Teaching, was timely and important for a back-to-school conversation.

While everything with the #NYEDChat went well, I clumsily stumbled my way through the steps for making a transcript of the conversation. No matter how many attempts I tried, I kept getting stuck.

Then, I thought of students who also sit perplexed in our classrooms. Without support, they flounder. Luckily for me, I happened to have a Tweet pass by from Brian R. Smith, Sr., "Keep smiling. Let me know if I can help." I did need help and Brian quickly responded with a video on how to easily create an accurate transcript with all the tweets posted. Brian's words gave me the boost I needed.

Knowing that I was out of my comfort zone led to many frustrating moments and a feeling of inadequacy but I plugged along.  It did take me many tries to accomplish what I set out to do but when I finished creating the transcript, I felt pleased with myself. I persevered , took a deep breath, and then continued to ponder on what I needed during the process:

  • A guide to help me navigate my way through the struggle ( that is what a teacher does)

  • A model to work from (being a visual learner the video provided the steps I needed  to accomplish my goal)

  • Time and perseverance to muddle through the mess toward finding a solution

Recently, I listened to Julie James' interview with actress Sabine Fontana on Broadway Names. The idea of trusting yourself came up. I kept the thought, "You got to trust yourself," close to me during the days before the chat.  

With the #StartStrong mantra and that Fontana's quote in mind, I created a wish for all classrooms-offer each student the opportunity to notice, wonder, and be engaged in the productive struggle. A passionate teacher is needed as the guide in a culture of trust where all abilities are honored, all voices nurtured, and student agency fostered. NOW is the time to build the foundation for successful learning for ALL.

Friday, September 6, 2019

End-of-Summer Gifts

As days shorten and the air is filled with milder weather, nature holds on to its sweet summer memories.  Even when the leaves twirl with a lazy, cascading rhythm, "There shall be eternal summer in the grateful heart." - Celia Thaxton 

Nature sings its sweet song. 
No goodbyes are uttered as
September enters.
Sweet summer moments
remain forever in
toe-touching shifting sands,
sunlit backyard porches,
and lakeside cottages.
Grateful hearts understand
the passing of the seasons
and do not mourn.
They sing new songs.
©CV, 2019

At the end of summer, my mailman brought another colorful poetry swap gift from Rebecca Herzog. See the colorful poetry card with an original poem from my swap buddy. 
Final Days
Summer meanders lazily
Dipping her toe in the waves
Soaking in the last strong rays of sun
Before exiting the water
And wrapping Autumn's blanket
around her shoulders
©Rebecca Herzog, 2019 

I am sending the following end-of-summer #digitalinspiration
to all my poetry friends who have been summer gift-givers.
 It will become part of my #EmbraceableSummer Gallery collection.

The above image started as a photo taken by Linda Baie while vacationing with family in Captiva Island. I digitized the original picture and added a poem.


Yesterday, I received an amazing book from a random drawing at Amy Ludwig Vanderater's Sharing Our Notebook's site. My creative friend, Matt Grundler shared his visual journal there. 
With a grateful heart for my end-of-summer gifts, I am eager to enter the creative zone.


Now it is time to join the Poetry Friday Party hosted by a wonderful pair of poet friends, Sylvia Vardell and Janet Wong, publishers of Great Morning! Poems for School Leaders to Read Aloud (a must read book for the #BacktoSchool2019 #StartStrong movement).

I am proud to be featured in this book with my poem "Art Class" based on inspiration from Matt Grundler's classroom.

Thursday, September 5, 2019


Still feeling the positive effects of yoga, I lingered a bit in my car when I pulled into the driveway.  I was engrossed in the action in my garden. The day seemed like a cross between late summer and early autumn. A single bee hovered over one of my front garden plants until others came to the area but they did not disturb the first one. The new visitors were on a mission to independently collect food from other flowers. Then, fluttering in, a lemon-colored butterfly entered the scene opening its wings to announce its entrance.

"By all these lovely tokens September days are here, 
with summer's best of weather and autumn's best of cheer."  - Helen Hunt Jackson  

Seasons announce their transition.

nudging us to notice 
in good faith, in good time

for everything, there is a season.
Do we hear the gentle bend in the wind;
see the cascading leaf upon the pavement?

Seasons announce their transition.

Summer moments linger
under a heavenly sky.

Earth waits for nature to tip its hand-
waves goodbye to summer bees;
whispers hello to abundant autumn. 
©CV, 2019

"For everything, there is a season and a time for every matter under heaven."
- Ecclesiastes 3:1

(I lifted part of the scripture verse as an inspirational piece for the double cherita above.)

I need one last nudge to find my flow, make time for the creative spirit to flutter, and settle down to bring the best of summer's inspiration to fruition at the Embraceable Summer Gallery. With faith and patience, this will happen.

Thank you, Ramona Behnke, for hosting Spiritual Journey first Thursday at your blog, Pleasures from the Page, and nudging me to ponder your interesting theme.

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Scrumptious! Taste NYC

Today is the day "when summer gathers up her robes of glory, and, like a dream, glides away" (Sarah Helen Whitman). It is also the day to savor summer memories, especially the most recent and memorable Labor Day weekend when we celebrated my son' birthday multiple times. 

This year we filled our memory bank with the tastes of New York City. From street fairs and food kiosks to Little Italy, my husband, son, and I found multi-layered gastronomical delights. The day started with a delightful street fair close to the New York City theater district. It was the first stop on our theater-going adventure that would celebrate my son's birthday. We had a quick appetizer,  empanada of spinach and cheese, at one of the stops before attending the Broadway musical, The Book of Morman, at the Eugene O'Neill theater. 

Next, we traveled to Little Italy that is always a happening-type of place. We found the usual throng of tourists and diners, sightseeing and looking for the just-right restaurant, on Mulberry Street, the main walk-through.  The weather was magnificent and the street was filled with singing, chatting, and people taking photographs. We strolled past many restaurants, checking out menus for a birthday celebration. While we have been going to Little Italy for at least forty years, there are always new places to visit and we found one that appealed to us, Sofia's

Steve, a gregarious greeter wearing sunglasses, lured us in with thoughts of homemade pasta, great tastes, and a wonderful birthday surprise. He led us to a linen-lined table in front of the restaurant where we met our fun waiter, Tony, who introduced us to the delights Sofia's had to offer.

Selections of the day were provided by Tony who made the dishes sound wonderful. We decided on wine, prosecco, and Peroni to start the meal with a delicious arugula salad, Arugala al Limone. The salad had fennel, shaved pecorino, and a delicious lemon dressing. The mountain-like presentation was a picture worth taking.  We were delighted with the freshly-baked and tasty bread that accompanied the salad.
Portions were plentiful. Entree selections were chosen with great care and had great flavor. Scrumptious!
Vitello Saltimbocca
Vitello alla Parmigiana

How do you end a meal so that your taste buds remember all the flavors of a great meal?
With delicious Cappucino 
Italian desserts: warm chocolate souffle
Tiramisu gelato with expresso
Ricotta cheescake
We ended the appetizing dining experience with a round of happy birthday and wishes on returning with friends for a fall meal.
A Slice of Life!

Thursday, August 29, 2019

Taste New York

The season of summer is nature's gift.  

Summer has passed by quickly. While I am still trying to slow it down, I recognize that seasonal change is part of nature's cycle of wonder. Come along with me on my travels to different parts of New York State where I found delicious farm-to-table products this summer.

Farm-fresh regional market,

visual feast of locally-grown produce
in summertime hues*

colorful, luscious, ripe
a fresh farm-to-table delight-
"Stop by, shop, sample."

Honey from the bee farm, crusty bread, and luscious fruit

encourage instant smiles from eager buyers.
"What else shall we purchase?"

Leaving the site
with bags of farm-to-table delight,
we dream of a sweet summer picnic.
©CV, 2019
*Note: Upon rereading Irene Latham's delightful book, Fresh Delicious Poems from the Farmer's Market, I crafted a double cherita about my visit to the Central New York Regional Market in Syracuse, NY. I used Irene's children's poem, Farmer's Market,  and the line, "in summertime hues", to create a new poem. Thank you, Irene, for the bountiful goodness of Fresh Delicious.

After visiting family in Syracuse and Rome, NY, my husband and I traveled to Cooperstown. We found a charming cider mill with another amazing assortment of regional foods.

Regional foods, summer's bounty,

carefully stacked on shelves and in baskets
ready for sampling.

Homemade salsa, sharp cheese, sweet cider, apple wine
Taste-New York-treats,
fill my cart for an end-of-summer barbecue.
©CV, 2019

Fly Creek Cider Mill

Look what my friend, @Math912Teacher, from Oswego sent me:

*Photos are included in the #EmbraceableSummer Gallery collection.


I am looking forward to visiting my poet friend, Kat Apel, who is hosting Poetry Friday from Australia who is featuring two Aussie verse novels and picture book news. Join me here to link up with the Roundup. 
  1. There is a Poetry Friday Calendar Change for the last week in September and the first week of OctoberCherieee Weichel at Library Matters has graciously agreed to swap hosting dates with me based on a family commitment I have. New Calendar: September 27 2019 here at Beyond LiteracyLink and October 4, 2019 at Library Matters.
  2. I am collecting offerings for my summer gallery collection that is being stored under the Twitter hastag, #EmbraceableSummer. Please offer any travel/nature photos, image poems, inspirational quotes, artwork, or summer playlist titles at the hashtag and at my handle, @cvarsalona.

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Slowing Down Summer

Are you gearing up for the start of school with a positive attitude? Or are you like the 6th grader at the beach who is trying to read her required book for the first day of school - rushing in at the end to complete the task?

The summer is moving on at such a fast pace that I want to slow it down, savor the last days of summertime, and wind-up some projects I started. I feel a sigh of relief each time I finish something that has been on my mind. But then, there are the nagging thoughts surfacing. How do I capture the last days of summer?  I can't get enough of summer! Are you like that?
- It's time to continue to enjoy ocean walks, beautiful sunsets, and scenic trails. -

Enjoy your last summer days before Labor Day.
Capture them in photos.
I will continue to embrace the summer spirit and hope you do, too. 
You can find more relaxing photos in my #EmbraceableSummer Gallery collection at Twitter.
The gallery will be unveiled in the near future. If interested, you can send me a digital of the way you are embracing the last summer days.

It's Slice of Life Tuesday at Two Writing Teachers.

Thursday, August 22, 2019


This week the Poetry Friday community is celebrating the life of Lee Bennett Hopkins at Amy Ludwig Vanderwater's The Poem Farm. I am happy to join the celebration for Lee Bennett Hopkins. Lee has been our poetry champion, a grand anthologist, and talented poet throughout the years and will remain so in years to come.

I offer my humble septercet poem written for a poet extraordinaire who entered my life years ago when I was a young teacher.


poet extraordinaire
anthology creator
grower of poem gardens

you filled many children's minds
with imaginative thoughts,
leaving your heart-print on lives

we honor your legacy
as a beloved writer
who made space for poetry
©CVarsalona, 2019

Last year, Robyn Hood Black held a Poetry Friday celebration for Lee's birthday at her blog site. I created an invitation to the party and the short poem below.

To Lee,
You have been the consummate poetry champion.
poetry passer
pens crafted thoughts on pages-
master word packer
©CVarsalona, 2018


Jone MacCulloch suggested finding a line from one of Lee Bennett Hopkins' poems and writing a new poem based on the line chosen. I am using Lee's opening line from a poem in his anthology, I Am the Book, and answering my question, "How should we promote the back-to-school hashtag, #StartStrong, for elementary school children?"

It's poem o'clock
school starts strong-
poems belong!

Ready to rock
to the beat-
Poetry's our treat!
©CV, 2019


When should we highlight poetry in the curriculum? As Lee said in I Am the Book:
It's poem o'clock.
Time for a rhyme -
or chime.
Poems are
Unlock a minute
poetry time.

This afternoon, I added my #ditty #poemsong for Michelle H. Barnes' August Ditty of the Month. It was written for my granddaughter and is about waking up in the morning. You can read my poem below but please check out the ditty video I created here.

sweet darling
behind clouds of gray
comes the sun
you to greet another day
peek-a-boo hello
©CV, 2019