Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Quiet Reflection

As seasons pass from one to another, my writing life grows in its daily practice of observing ordinary, life-living moments. Why I ask do I seek to weave golden threads of thought into delicately-formed patterns? Is it to adorn even the grayest of days or find peace in the simplest of acts?

And so I write
in the stillness of quiet corners,
in the midst of sublime joy 
and chaotic discord.
I journey onward,
a traveler and observer
seeking inspiration,
finding quiet spaces where
wonder spreads its wings,
like a butterfly fluttering in the wind. 
Nurtured by curiosity, 
I reflect upon nature's patience
and persistence in its
seasonal interplay with life.
I pause to dream, ponder, and imagine
words taking root to find their purpose
in a hurried world that forgets
beauty exists in both
the ordinary and the sublime.
©CVarsalona, 2019

As I eagerly mull over the prospect of engaging in a month of writing for the 12th Annual March Slice of Life Story Challenge, I feel each new day of writing deepens my practice and allows me to explore my writing life from different perspectives. Join me as I try out new moves, revisit past techniques, and capture other's thoughts to broaden mine. 

Thank goes out to Leigh Anne Eck for calling together a community of writers to make writing plans for 2019 under the hashtag #letwwrite2019. Today, I wanted to start the journey with a quiet reflection written when the only sounds I hear are the murmurings of the house.

Thanks is also offered to Two Writing Teachers its weekly Slice of Life Tuesday.


Thursday, February 14, 2019

Within Winter's Reach

This year, Lady Winter shared her sense of beauty with the world as she created multiple headlines. She walked the season's runway dressed in various apparels, ranging from frosted snow dustings, gray skies, dampened rains, and patterned ice, providing me with inspiration to create my own digital designs and digipoetry.

Golden Shovel Poem

I started with the strike line, The dust of snow, from Robert Frost's poem, Dust of Snow at https://www.poets.org/poetsorg/poem/dust-snow.

Lady Winter tiptoed into the
dawn spreading frosted dust,
Pausing for wide eyes of
wonder to marvel at her artsnow.
©CV, 2019
©CV, 2019
Line Lifting 
"One must have a mind of winter" and "For the listener who listens in the snow" from Wallace Stevens' poem, The Snow Man.

One must have a mind of winter
to breath in nature's frosty breath,
whisper into the chilled wind,
and be awed by the magic of the dance
in early morning light.
For the listener who listens in the snow,
winter peace is within reach.
©CV, 2019


Tonight Jone MacCulloch is hosting the Cybils Award Party at her blog site, Check It Out. I am excited to see some author friends' names mentioned as finalists. Time to join Jone. You can access the list of Cybils winners here.



Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Rainy Day Magic

I learned these past few days that rainy days though dreary, in reality, can be magical when you are with your grandbaby. 

Grandmother love is unique.
It wipes away raindrops;
Warms a chilly day.
Leads me to bookstops
And filters sky's gray.
©CV, 2019

Listen to a piece of rainy day music here.

On this rainy winter day, I am at peace as my grandbaby lays asleep in the next room. Tomorrow I travel back to Long Island but tonight, I am joining Two Writing Teachers for the Slice of Life. 

Friday, February 8, 2019

Winter Bee Surprise

It was an ordinary winter day. I walked into the kitchen to do ordinary tasks when I saw something from the corner of my eye. I could hardly believe it. Walking on the rim of my large pot was a yellow bee. Quietly, I gasped. I watched in wonder and then, quickly went into fear mode. It sounds odd but it was just seven months ago when I got a big surprise. I encountered a hive of yellow jackets in my backyard-Ouch

Fast forward to this week of professional development and I decided to feature my story to stir wonder in others. Why was a bee in my kitchen? I turned to Wonderopolis' Wonder of the Day #51

Then, I found Naomi Shihab Nye's poem, chose a strike line, and retold my story throguh a golden shovel poem.

Bees Were Better by Naomi Shihab Nye

In college, people were always breaking up.
We broke up in parking lots,
beside fountains.
Two people broke up
across a table from me
at the library.
I could not sit at that table again
though I did not know them.
I studied bees, who were able
to convey messages through dancing
and could find their ways
home to their hives
even if someone put up a blockade of sheets
and boards and wire.
Bees had radar in their wings and brains
that humans could barely understand.
I wrote a paper proclaiming
their brilliance and superiority
and revised it at a small café
featuring wooden hive-shaped honey-dippers
in silver honeypots
at every table.
Poem copyright ©2008 by Naomi Shihab Nye, “Bees Were Better,” from If Bees Are Few: A Hive of Bee Poems, Ed., James P. Lenfestey, (University of Minnesota Press, 2016). Poem reprinted by permission of Naomi Shihab Nye and the publisher.

From Strike Line:
"I studied bees, who were able
to convey messages through dancing"

To: Golden Shovel

It happened quickly, as I
Was washing dishes. I studied
Him wondering where other bees
Were hidden, those who
Knew how to attack, were
Destined to persist, and able
Enough to target me as food to
Sup on. I slowly approached to convey
My thoughts on his presence. Messages
Were sent out through
Multiple swipings as he continued dancing.
©CVarsalona, 2019


Each Friday, I  join my poetry friends for Poetry Friday. Today, children's poet Laura Purdie Salas is the Poetry Friday Roundup host at her blog site, Writing the World for Kids

Thursday, February 7, 2019

Home is Where the Heart is!

"By wisdom, a house is built, and through understanding, it is established. Through knowledge, its rooms are filled with rare and beautiful treasures." 
-Proverbs 24:3-

For the past month, I have been trying to declutter my house based on the wisdom of  Marie Kondo, Japanese organizing consultant. I have started to look through shelves, closets, and attic to determine the worth of saved items. While doing so I linger in the memory attached to each object and then, make a decision on whether the piece still brings joy. If not, I place the item in a donation box or in the throwaway bin, letting go of any sense of loss I may have.

For several days, I have been reflecting on this month's Spiritual Journey 1st Thursday topic, "Home is where the heart is," offered by host Donna Smith. I was struck by another scripture reading, "The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock." - Matthew 7:25
How many times have I turned to faith, believing that the family foundation would withstand challenges? How many times have I relied on the bonding of hearts to bring joy back into the home again? 
Understanding that it is not the structure of a house that brings hearts together leads to the concept of home. My home has been adorned with a tapestry of invisible love that filters the drama of the outside world and withstands the turmoil of inner struggles. It is my home not the house that becomes a sacred place of refuge and warmth, bringing hearts together and strengthening bonds. Do you feel the same way?


Home is where your heart is!
is home where your heart is?
©CV, 2019


Listen to Elvis sing his tender song, Home Is Where The Heart Is.


I now join this month's Spiritual Journey 1st Thursday's discussion with Donna Smith at Mainely Write.

The above poem is my attempt to write a "skinny", a poem of eleven lines in the following format: The 1st and 11th lines can be any length. The 11th and last line must be repeated using the same words from the 1st line and opening line, however, they can be rearranged. The 2nd, 6th, and 10th lines must be identical. All the lines in this form, except for the 1st and last lines, must be comprised of only one word.

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Winter Through a Lens

It happened suddenly. A forceful wind kicked up as the sky darkened. People scrambled, rushing to find warmth indoors while hair blew in several directions, blocking my vision, as I crossed the street. It was a relief to leave the parking lot where winter was leaving its calling card once again.

Within minutes, the blustery winds brought in a quick, upstart snowstorm. People inside the funeral parlor where I was, quietly whispered to each other, "It's snowing outside." By the time I left, the snow turned to rain but the cold remained. As the week progressed so did the record cold temperatures. Twitter friends from across the states, shared comments, weather maps, and photos of the deep freeze. 

Winter 2019 - ice cold! - Jennifer Sniadecki, Indiana

After a storm that deposited a little more than a dusting, I digitized a photo to give it the effect of a typical post-storm, winter day. To follow the wacky weather systems noted in the newspapers, Long Island is back to fluctuating temperatures. So far, we have not brought out the snow shovels. That is so unusual!

amidst billowy blankets -
fire the furnace
©CV, 2019, Long Island, NY

I am on a quest to capture winter around the globe so join me to create winter digitals, whether you have snow or not!


I am joining Two Writing Teachers for Slice of Life Tuesday!

Friday, February 1, 2019

Winter Cold

The weather on Long Island has been fluctuating so rapidly that I need to find humor in the current deep freeze. Last night, we went to dinner and the theater on the north shore of Long Island. The short walk from the car felt like we needed face masks to survive. Clearly, winter is making its mark this January and enjoying the way everyone is responding.

During this past month, Long Island had gray days of what I call Rainuary weather. The sun appeared on and off. Temperatures ranged from mild to bitter cold and with that the sinus pressure in my head built up. As with the past Januarys, a sinus infection may be in store for me so it is time to make light of the extremely cold weather. I was watching the Kelly and Ryan Show yesterday that featured a Minnesota weatherman depicting what a -24 degree day is like. I think you will find humor in this reporting from St. Paul. Reflecting on the comedic reporting, I need to stop thinking that our record chill of the teens is so terrible.

Since the winter weather is what it is, I have turned my thoughts to find beauty in what I see in nature. 

Below is a piece of digital art and a septercet I penned.

I am joining the Poetry Friday Round Up at Tabatha Yeatts' blog, The Opposite of Indifference, as I am eager to read what my colleagues are offering today.

Friday, January 25, 2019

Gray-Day Pondering

#InstaPoetry #MoPoetry2019
While friends and family indulge in cotton-ball countrysides filled with billowy snow, Long Island is wrapped in gray days ranging from frigid to not-so-cold temperatures. Nonetheless, there is a hushed, quiet beauty settling in.


Incessant. swishing noises tap against window panes as morning tries to wake a sleepy neighborhood.  Flecks of rain bubble up in blotchy patterns and one bird calls out. Another gray-day appears with resounding noise announcing the continuance of stormy weather. 

slick splattering
gutters filling
weather chilling
gray-day pondering
weathermen floundering-
morning mist
©CVarsalona, 2019
#InstaPoetry #MoPoetry2019


While the weather may be unusual for January, my New Year has been brightened with an incoming shower of good wishes from fellow poetry friends, Michelle Kogan and Diane Mayr who sent me poetry postcards. It is always nice to receive mail from the mailman and these treats were special deliveries of poetic goodness.

Michelle posted the following image poem for MLK Day. I decided to showcase it at Monday night's #NYEDChat. The discussion centered on "Service Projects for Students and Teachers", a fitting title to celebrate Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.

I also extend my thanks to other Poetry Friday friends for their incoming contributions to my winter gallery, Winter's Embrace.

The Poetry Friday Roundup is hosted by a favorite education friend of mine, Tara Smith, who recently retired and moved to live in upstate New York on a beautiful farm. 

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Digital Snow Art

Backtracking to early morning one day this week, I opened the blinds to find the sun glaring and a dusting of snow sprinkling the ground. I was eager to rush through my ritual of exercise. a hot shower to relieve the pain in my lower back. and a quick bite before heading out for my yoga class. The short walk from the car to yoga, a normal part of my routine, was going to give me time to notice my surroundings and wonder. This day was like any other day except my time was limited. 

I hopped in the car and set off yoga. When I arrived in the vicinity of the studio, I searched for a space to park. When I finally found one, I looked at the time. It was nearing the opening of the class. Trying to stay warm, I moved at a quickened pace. I knew that I did not have time to linger but I saw an usual sight as the sky turned a hazy shade of winter. The snow dustings I observed earlier in my neighborhood were curbside patches of snow. Each patch was mixed with water, crunchy left-over leaves, and debris. My curiosity was aroused. I needed a better look. When I paused, the camera phone came out. Two quick photos helped validate what I observed. Feeling that I captured a different look of winter, I headed off toward the yoga studio. 

Later during the day, I took a look at the photos. I captured gray day remnants from the overnight snowstorm. They did not have the beautiful fresh snow look but they were real, making me realize that even gray days can inspire. 

I transformed the ordinary into a piece of digital street art thanks to the suggestion of an Indiana colleague, Jennifer Sniadecki to try a new photo-editing app, Prisma

morning mosaic
decorative curb art-
winter's storm remnant
©CV, 2019


At my prompting, Jennifer sent me her digital art created with Prisma for my upcoming gallery, Winter's Embrace. Her photos will soon appear in the Twitter Repository, #WintersEmbrace2019.

Join me at Two Writing Teachers for the Tuesday Slice of Life.
I am also offering the digital to #MoPoetry2019 on Instagram.

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