Tuesday, August 20, 2019


Anticipation Mounts: 
Two months have passed since I last saw my 2-year-old granddaughter face-to-face. While there have been countless photos and videos to keep us in touch there is no better experience than being in your grandchild's presence.

Traveling from Long Island to Virginia:
Traveling the long stretch from the sandy shores of Long Island to the lush greenery of Reston's quiet trails and calm lakes was filled with a variety of sights and weather. The early morning started out slightly foggy, enough so that my usual majestic view of the lady of the harbor was interrupted. Then, there was slowed-down traffic that reminded me of New York City, bumper-to-bumper driving. To add to the traveling experience, a huge downpour had the wipers going full blast, much like a late-summer Florida day. 

Upon reaching our destination, I found the neighborhood quiet. The sun was bright and the weather humid. I sat patiently on the back porch swing waiting for my family to return home from their paddleboarding fun. From afar, I heard my daughter's voice. I rushed to the edge of the property to see my little girl with her Daddy and their paddleboard in tow. What a joyful beginning to a long summer weekend!

I am ready for another day of creating lasting summer memories with Sierra and my family. Tonight we celebrate my son's birthday.

It's  Slice of Life Tuesday at Two Writing Teachers so I am heading there to offer my slice of life. 

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Recalling Spring

My wonder pal, Christie Wyman, is hosting Poetry Friday at Wondering and Wondering this week. She invited members of the community to write a poem with a tree-related theme. Studying her photo below, I recall a long-ago spring afternoon filled with wistful wondering.

Photo of Fairyland Pond by Christie Wyman
Tucked away in the corners of my mind,
a long-forgotten memory surfaces.

of sunshine
shine through trees
inviting me to breathe in
the freshness of springtime air.
I wander through lush countryside
wistfully wondering, finding the right angle
behind a camera lens. I seek nature's beauty
and notice majestic trees solemnly standing guard.
Their limbs lightly lift in the gentle breeze, gathering
my thoughts that race before me, in contrast to a slow pace.
Farmlands laden with red barns stretch out for miles. Wildflowers
growing abundantly wait for picking.  A solitary bench becomes an
ageless photo.
Time does pass.
Memories fade
like ink on
but nature
remains as
a constant.
©CVarsalona, 2019

In searching for poetry on trees, I found Joyce Kilmer, Trees, an all-time favorite, and a video of Nelson Eddy putting the poem to song. You can access that here.

Digitized photo of upstate New York in springtime

Christie's photo and mine will brighten the walls of the Splendid Spring Gallery collection that waits to be unveiled.

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

The Traveler

Summer is the season for families to embrace the spirit of adventure as they travel to familiar and/or faraway places.  Travel allows all to relax, rejuvenate, and savor the beauty of the world.  Over one hundred years ago, poet Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote, "Though we travel the world over to find the beautiful, we must carry it with us or we find it not."   I'd like to think that our journeys will allow us to savor all our life living moments.

On the road of life, we are the travelers.

The above photo, sent to me by Al Dhalla, invited me to write about peacefulness and the importance of being present.  The image poem is part of the #EmbraceableSummer Gallery collection. 

In open spaces
of late summer,
sunrise quietly dawns.
Yogis solemnly salute nature's majesty.
as nature silently paints a fiery sky
above the shifting sands.
Tranquility settles in.
Quietude achieved.
©CVarsalona, 2019

May your day open with peace and end in love.

Today is Tuesday Slice of Life at Two Writing Teachers.  Join me.

Thursday, August 8, 2019

Sunday Afternoon Travel

One of my favorite words is quietude.  Finding tranquility in a world full of to do lists, city noise, and political and social unrest is difficult so I always question. "How can I disconnect from dissonance to find peace?"  For me, writing poetry is one way and yoga is another.

Last week, Heidi Mordhorst host of Poetry Friday presented a new poetry format, the definito.  Heidi created free verse poems of 8-12 lines, aimed at readers 8-12 years old. As she noted, a definito highlights wordplay as it demonstrates the meaning of a less common word, which always ends the poem. 

Quietude is not often used in conversations or in writing so I decided to write a poem that illustrates its meaning.  The wording in places may be . Recalling a recent mini-trip to Central New York, I recreated the scene in my mind and then, wrote, trying to explain how both my husband and I felt when riding through many small towns in Central New York. While this poem has gone through many revisions, I believe that it is ready for critique.

Inching away from the din
and distractibility of city life,
we traveled off-beaten routes.
Miles of green fields, as soft as velvet,
stretched before us in hushed silence.
As we  slowly traveled toward our destination,
a glistening wrap-around lake, historic hotel, 
and immense veranda beckoned, luring us closer.
In stillness, we sat on ageless Adirondack rockers,
staring into the calmness of an August afternoon.
With eyes quietly closed, life slowly passed on by.
In quietude, we enjoyed the placidity of the lake. 
©CV, 2019, Central New York

Tranquil countryside charm set the tone for peaceful wandering.
©CV, 2019, Fly Creek Cider Mill
©CV, 2019, Fly Creek Cider Mill

Summer travels
down quiet country roads
opens eyes to nature's wonders
and serene settings:
a quaint cider mill tucked away
from the bustle of commotion and
a duck family peacefully meandering,
unphased by watchful crowds,
present a tranquil picture of 
countryside afternoons 
wrapped in quietude.
©CV, 2019, Fly Creek Cider Mill

I now feel comfortable offering my definitos to Poetry Friday for the roundup. Molly Hogan is this week's host. She is an active member of Heidi Mordhorst's critique group who created several definitos last week. You can see her work at Nix the Comfort Zone.

My travel photos and poetry will be included in the #EmbraceableSummer Gallery collection. If interested, please send your summer travel photos and image poems to the hashtags, #EmbraceableSummer and @cvarsalona.

Monday, August 5, 2019

Summer Travels

Slowly, we traveled far from the white sands of Long Island beaches leaving behind the congregation of plovers that sweep across the ocean on a daily basis.  As we traveled over country roads, we noticed different aspects of small-town America in Central New York State.  Like little children on a new adventure, we explored areas of interest strikingly different than the rush of the waves and the energy of the ocean.

leaving shorelines
meandering through New York-
summer glistens

While attending a state education conference, my husband and I decided to take long country rides exploring areas we had never traveled in Central New York.

I am sharing these Tuesday thoughts, my slice of life, with Two Writing Teachers.

The above digitized photo/image poem of a Central New York site will be featured
in the Embraceable Summer Gallery collection.

Friday, August 2, 2019

Love's Journey

under a summer sky

we clink glasses
to years of memories

come to rest
love's journey continues

While rose ceremonies trended on social media, a private exchange of memories at a favorite restaurant sufficed for yet another anniversary. 

My husband and I share a tradition of exchanging cards on our anniversary.
I am surprising him with this page of thoughts.

The Poetry Friday Roundup is hosted by the climate crusader Heidi Mordhorst. Check out her new poetry form, the definito, and then give it a try for fun.

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

To Write is To Be

The art of writing is a lifelong practice of noticing, wondering and believing in the power of voice. It is a delicate balancing of ideas coming from a myriad of responses to life. After reading poet and children's book author, Kat Apel's post from the CYA Conference in Brisbane, Australia, I started thinking about the quote she shared.

"To write is to be. We are a tapestry of everything we've ever written."
-Isobel Carmondy


Writing is in the make-up of my being.
It is a thread that keeps
spinninglengthening, and
filling spaces of my mind. 

It is my equation: 
a little bit of this plus a little bit of that- 
my recipe for a unique
taste of life.

I am the tapestry

of everything I have ever written.
Word weaving is my process
to see and understand this world.
©CVarsalona, 2019

There is wonder in this world. With a positive outlook, we can find it showcased in nature and everyday happenings. I believe that my yoga practice has taught me to be more aware of what I see and to unveil that in my writing and digital artwork. My practice has gone through remixes and new designs in the creative pursuit of being mindful and aware. Within the productive struggle, I often find ideas brewing, rising, and becoming entities of thoughtful wondering.

To write is to be but to engage in the act is about becoming. 

-a piece of #digitalart I created for my #EmbraceableSummer Gallery collection-

On Slice of Life Tuesday, I write to join the Two Writing Teachers community
to be inspired by other writers.

Saturday, July 27, 2019

Paddleboard Power

This week, a human interest story on paddle patrols was highlighted in Newsday, Long Island's newspaper. It caught my eye as a unique effort to keep the beautiful Long Island waters pristine for residents and future Long Islanders.

rise and shine boarders
once the sun is up explore
local waterways

mission to clean up
canals, creeks, local waters
weather permitting

paddleboard power
help collect garbage, debris-
rid the floating trash

Long Island reward
feels good to do something good
for environment
©Carol Varsalona, 2019

Long Island paddleboarders help collect garbage.
-Newsday, Paddle power by Nicole Allegrezza Fuentes, July 26, 2019
I am sliding into Michelle H. Barnes' July Wrap-up Celebration at Today's Little Ditty with my found haiku poem series inspired by the article listed above.  At the beginning of the month in the Reader Spotlight of Today's Little Ditty, my friend from Virginia, Linda Mitchell, asked that we create a found haiku. 

Find an interesting article on a topic that fascinates you. As you read the article highlight phrases with the right syllable counts for traditional haiku (5-7-5). It’s true that haiku is not strictly 5-7-5. However, for this exercise, keep to the “rule.” Once you have found several phrases, place them into the form of a haiku. I’ve shared several of these on my blog, A Word Edgewise. (See examples herehere, and here.)

Friday, July 26, 2019

Summer Swap Surprise

As an aficionado of antiquing and turn-of-the-20th-century traditions, I enjoy corresponding with friends from far away as people often did in the early 1900s.  While I do not engage in this ritual as often in the past because of the digital age, I find it to be an important one.  

When Tabatha Yeatts started the Summer Poetry Swap, I became a fan.  Swapping poetry with faraway friends deepens my relationships and brings joy.  I was delighted with the news of my swapees when Tabatha notified me.  My first poetry swap was for Donna Smith, my bold, Maine to Pennsylvania motorcyclist friend.  One piece of the visual journal that I created for her is below.

Next, I was fortunate to be on the receiving end of the Summer Poetry Swap. I was  surprised when Ruth Herseya friend residing in Haiti, notified me to be on the lookout for something in the mail. I shared Ruth's bountiful garden of blossoms and poem at last week's Poetry Friday post.

At the end of last week, I was surprised again.  I not only created a swap for Linda Baie in Denver, but I received a package from her.  Linda called us swapees and that term has stuck with me.  Below is the collection of poetic offerings that LInda gathered together for a remarkable swap. 

I am sure that you will agree that this is a beautiful collection of keepsakes!  Upon opening the package, I found a gorgeously-designed photo haiku card from Robyn Hood Black's Etsy collection with a personal note that made me smile.  There was an adorable pocket for the handcrafted card and the original poem Linda created.  This pocket will be my traveling companion during professional development workshops when I share the power of poetry with teachers. 

Linda's Opposing View poem that she wrote is one to ponder. Just the other night, while at an oudoor concert, I was wishing that summer nights would continue to linger longer.  Do you see the little umbrella that accompanied the card?  It is a reminder of the bright, scattered umbrellas that line the shores of Long Island beaches each summer. 

The journal Linda sent has delicate faded flowered pages to write upon. I am not sure that she knew I always have loved pressed flowers.  When I first looked at the beautiful journal, I thought that since I am such a messy writer with scraps and snippets of thoughts and crossed-out words all over I would not want to destroy the treasured gift.  Then, I thought I could make the journal my special Sierra notebook for all the poems I write for my granddaughter.  "In every moment there clings the sweetness of a faded flower."  What an endearing thought to remind me of nature in all its stages of seasonal delight. 

Also included in the package was a poetry book, When We Were Very, Very Young by A.A. Milne, that will become my Grandma read aloud.  As I browsed through the pages, I found a poem, "Sand-Between-the-Toes,"  that reminds me of summers on Long Island.  Tonight, as we traveled to a new beach on the north shore of Long Island before the theater, my family and I found a coarser type of sand that filled my sandals with a gritty mix. I laughed as I tried to discard the sand that lodged between my toes.  

What Linda Baie offered in her swap will entertain me throughout the summer and into the year.  Summer has a special spot in my heart as Linda knows.  Her swap was handpicked and handcrafted to make my summer days brighter.  

Linda plans on sharing what I sent her in a future Poetry Friday post. 

I have one more swap to engage in and I have been already been collecting ideas.  Stay tuned for that reveal.  In the meantime, if you have poetic offerings for my #EmbraceableSummer Gallery collection, please send them my way to share all the ways to embrace the summer season. 

 🏖  🏖 🏖
The Poetry Friday Roundup is hosted this week by my friend Margaret Simon at her blogsite, Reflections on the Teche.   While cleaning out her parents' home and helping them transition to a retirement home, she found some items that sparked the creation of a poem that has depth, meaning, and a beautiful image in its closing line. 

Tuesday, July 23, 2019


#Hashtags pop up all the time on Twitter but Monday's trending hashtag, #IFeelTheHappiestWhen,  made me smile.  In the summertime, living is easy; it's the time to catch happiness vibes in nature's playground. Come along with me to take a peek at a Long Island summer day.   Find out what makes me happy.

This weekend was one of those times to explore the art of relaxation, despite the heatwave that swept over Long Island.  Sweltering heat, temperatures climbing past 100 degrees, and blazing sunshine created a combination that called for constant hydration, air conditioning, and finding balance.  A walk along the shore filled with sounds of the ocean, gulls swooning, and cool waves splashing is usually appealing but getting to the shore means crossing the sizzling sand. This plan was not an option on such a hot day so I needed to come up with another idea to find the sweet summer life at the Long Island shore.

Plan B evolved. A short jaunt to the beach late in the day when the wall of heat was bearable became a plausible alternative.  My husband, son, and I drove to the beach mass at Malibu Beach.  To our surprise traffic was light and the local priest laughingly announced that he would skip the homily until September.  That was a good plan considering the heat quotient. 

Once mass was over, we were on the quest was to find a restaurant by the water with a slight breeze.  We were pleased to find an open table at one of our favorite restaurants, Pop's.  All we needed to do was wait for a half-hour to be seated.

This was a delightful option since the tropical-like outdoor area with a sandy beach overlooking a quiet canal was not crowded. As we sat in the Adirondack chairs watching the boats pass by I realized that our summer afternoon outing would become a memorable event.

Animated digital postcard created at Buncee 

#IFeelHappiestWhen I commune with nature and family
while enjoying the beauty of sweet summer life.

Today is Slice of Life Tuesday at Two Writing Teachers. I am looking forward to seeing how how my writing colleagues will respond to the prompt, #IFeelTheHappiestWhen...

Friday, July 19, 2019

Being in the Creativity Zone

Being in the creativity zone is such a wonder-filled experience!  Sparks fly; mind races; thoughts pass by in streams of bright-colored digital inspirations.  When I start creating, I am lost in time, transfixed until I suddenly look up. "Oops! I am almost late for ..."  

The zone is in a wonder space, a creativity playground. It is not a fancy place. Unlike a child's playground, any spot will do that has a place to write, create, and revise. Digital tools, a computer, and iPhone are necessities in my wonder space. In addition, fancy paper, colored pens, and a glue gun are tucked into my literacy toolbox for any spontaneous DIY projects. I shared my wonder space with grad student teachers last week at my ELA Summer Institute. With a bit of passionate prompting, they entered the zone to create their digital designs and digipoetry. You can see what they created while in the zone here.

Giving and receiving is part of the creative process. Beside designing summer poetry swaps for Donna Smith and Linda Baie, I have been inspired to create digipoetry while observing nature. A couple of days ago my family took a quick jaunt to the beach. Our stay was short for the afternoon heat was rising and we noticed a dramatic difference in the sky. From gloriously bright to cloudy gray, it changed its look and sent us off trudging through the sand back to the car.

For the Embraceable Summer Gallery collection

Being in the zone, means that there are other poet colleagues there as well, creating in their wonder spaces.  A couple of weeks ago, I was pleasantly surprised by an email from Ruth Hersey.  A postcard arrived but it was not from Haiti.  Ruth was visiting family in Kentucky where she was visiting family and decided to create a summer poetry swap for me as part of the exchange started by Tabatha Yeatts. On the back of a serene picture postcard, James Archambeault's KENTUCKY, Ruth wrote the following poem. 

Spring to Summer 2019

Where Carol lives,
the seasons how up
one after another,
each beautiful in its own way.
She collects snippets of each
to fill a gallery.
Where I live
the seasons don't change much;
each month is hot and sunny
with alternating mud and dust.
I collect snippets of tropical blooms
for my own gallery.
This year I'm visiting my parents,
waiting for summer
in a world more like hers;
each morning is chilly and damp
and you can almost hear the grass growing.
I take pictures of all different flowers
from the ones at home,
snippets to fill a gallery
both Carol and I
could love.
©Ruth Hersey, 2019

Ruth's Garden of Blooms and Poem
will grace my Spring Splendor Gallery collection.

Today, I am joining the Poetry Friday Roundup at Carol Wilcox's blog site, Carol's Corner.  For those who have puppy love, you will love to see 8-week-old Rooney and the poem she wrote about him.