Monday, March 25, 2019

March Musings '19: There's Never Enough Time

No matter how many hours there are in a day, I just can't get everything I want to be accomplished done. While at my grandbaby's house this weekend, I spent as much time as I could being the doting grandma, which means there was little time to write but I do have stories of these few days worth telling. Isn't that the purpose of enjoying life living moments? 

Tonight I store my memories of my grandbaby in my heart to reflect upon when I return home to Long Island and start to miss her.

For the next few slices, you may be hearing some grandbaby stories that are memorable to me. For now, as I nod off, I will remember the place of gratitude in my life.

Day 25 of 31 days of writing
March Slice of Life Story Challenge

Sunday, March 24, 2019

March Musings '19: Wearing of the Green

Each year, my hometown celebrates St. Patrick's Day in style. There is the wearing of the green and I don't mean just green sweaters, ties, and kilts. A few weeks before the parade, the main street on the parade root is painted with green stripes and decorated with Irish flags. Everyone knows this indicates that the parade is soon to start. 

The parade is a joyous celebration. Families line up to see the fire engines, police cars, and the bagpipe players. I especially like to watch the kilted musicians playing favorite tunes. This is a day when everyone is Irish. Obviously, I live in village that is filled with many Irish families. As our young priest noted in church several weeks ago, there are at least 500 families with common Irish names. Naturally, the wearing of the green is popular in Rockville Centre where the village townsfolk are proud to have a grand parade each year.

This year, I happened to come out of yoga in time to see the bagpipe players followed by a biker group on their motorcycles. The children in front of me were clapping with joy. There were smiles, laughing, and long lines of marchers.

The parade is an intergenerational good time. Take a look at the photos I took. 

St. Patrick's Day

by Eliza Cook

St. Patrick's Day! St. Patrick's Day!
Oh! thou tormenting Irish lay—
I've got thee buzzing in my brain,
And cannot turn thee out again.
Oh, mercy! music may be bliss
But not is such a shape as this,
When all I do, and all I say,
Begins and ends in St. Patrick's Day.

You can read the rest of the poem here.

Day 24 o.f 31 days of writing
March Slice of Life Story Challenge

Saturday, March 23, 2019

March Musings '19: Grateful for...

Friday, I woke to another one of those gray days but that was fine. Even when the rains came while traveling to my literacy conference, it was fine. The rains continued as I walked from the car to the conference but that didn't matter. I felt gratitude for this day the committee had prepared. It was finally here. I would soon engage with colleagues for a day of learning and that is something to be grateful for.

According to an article from Psychology Today, "Gratitude is an emotion expressing appreciation for what one has--as opposed to, for instance, a consumer-driven emphasis on what one wants or thinks they need." 

So what else am I grateful for this weekend?
  • A full reading and writing life
  • A family visit to see my grandbaby in Virginia (I will be there in 15 minutes and Sierra is waiting for us! Now that is something to be truly grateful for.)
  • Beautiful sunsets as we drive through Maryland

It doesn't matter what color you choose, ranging from gray to brilliant orange, 
embrace the hue and let it make your heart sing.

Listen to a lively, feel-good song, Grateful
and let the upbeat message stir you.

Day 23 of 31 days of writing
March Slice of Life Story Challenge

Friday, March 22, 2019

March Musings '19: In the Middle of Night & Giveaway

Have you ever thought about what happens in the middle of the night after you go to sleep? Well, my poet friend, Laura Purdie Salas has. In her imaginative picture book, inanimate objects decide it's time to play when their humans go to sleep. Join me as I take you on a quick trip through Laura's fantastic flight of fantasy. Welcome to the last day of her latest book's Blog Tour

For several weeks, I have been waiting to present IN THE MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT to my reading audience. If you have not visited one of the spots on the tour (see below), then I invite you to take a seat and hold on for a fascinating flight of fantasy. If you have traveled to some of the Blog Tour spots, then you already know what an amazing book this is to read to toddlers before bedtime or to older children in school. Even adults will enjoy this madcap adventure of inanimate objects.  

Through twenty-six imaginative poems, Laura captures the after-dark adventures of household objects who want to enjoy life as much as their humans. Illustrator Angela Matteson brings inanimate objects to life in vivid illustrations with creative flair. There is movement as their stories are revealed. Some objects even spin and show emotions. 

After Hours (excerpt)
We wait
we wait
we wait  
for  you to sleep , so we can play!

Did you see the animal in the illustration above sneaking from behind the bed to play or the octopus hiding by the dresser? Angela's illustrations playfully depict toys that are simply waiting for their little boy to go to sleep so they can unwind under the light of the crescent moon.  Unwind they do as Laura spins her tale of animals on the go and Angela has the characters moving, spinning, and rocking to the beat as they prepare a late night talent show.

As the animals unwind, other objects start their own merriment. Laura uses rhyming, repetition, strong verbs, and sound words to lead us into the adventure that sends a paper airplane on a moonlight midnight flight at the same time the lidless markers sound off with their woeful tale. A comb tries to help, a kleenex in the shape of a jellyfish parachute makes a soft landing, and a  whirling baseball cap searches for a new head to fit.

Have I intrigued you with the beginning of Laura's amazing after-dark tale? Well, there is more to this poetry-packed children's book. There's an acrostic poem being told by a perfume atomizer all dressed in pink. Pencils take a plunge and land with a loud thump. A mixing bowl gets mixed up. There's even spaghetti that tries to fit in as sneaker laces. Can you imagine that? Laura even slipped in one of her newest creations, an equation poem told by a rock, "End of day=time to play."

This book may be filled with 26 individual poems but each transitions beautifully to another with a rhythmic beat to build the storyline. Inanimate objects going wild is the end result until morning when their "fun is done."  A two-voice poem concludes the book that shares merriment that goes on after dark.

To extend the reading experience into a writing one, ask children to create their own fantastic journeys after dark using Laura's poems as models. If you travel to Reflections on the Tech and Reading to the Core, you will see poems from Margaret Gibson's class in Louisiana and Catherine Flynn's class in Connecticut. These poems illustrate the creativity and imagination of elementary children. 

IN THE MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT will not only spark interest in poetry but encourage children to become lifelong readers and writers.  Thank you, Laura for an imaginative tale from a wide-awake house. As I ready for bed, I am wondering what type of after-dark activities will my house engage in. The heating system enjoys making whoosh sounds when it mysteriously turns on in the wee hours of the morning. Sometimes, the alarm goes off with its blaring beep. Let's not forget to continue to nurture our children's creativity and imagination. 

Check out the tweets about IN THE MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT at #WideAwakePoems and enjoy reading other posts on the Blog Tour. 

Links to the Blog Tour sites:

3/11               Mile High Reading
3/12               Reflections on the Teche
3/13               A Year of Reading
3/14               Check It Out
3/15               Radio, Rhythm & Rhyme
3/17               Great Kid Books
3/18               Simply 7 Interview
3/19               My Juicy Little Universe
3/20               Live Your Poem
3/21               Reading to the Core
3/22               KidLit Frenzy
                      Beyond LiteracyLink

Thank you, Laura and Angela, for such a wonderful, imaginative book geared to readers of all ages. I fell in love with it and am eager to see how my grandbaby will respond. Her library is growing since before birth when Laura sent a signed copy of one of her poetry books for the baby shower.  

To win a copy of In The Middle of the Night from Boyds Mills Press, comment on Laura's book below. Include why you would like to read it. A winner from the U.S. only will be chosen on Sunday, March 24, 2019. I will announce the winner on my blog site and on Twitter.

Today I am celebrating Laura Purdie Salas' book with two writing communities: Poetry Friday and Two Writing Teachers. Rebecca Herzog is hosting Poetry Friday at her blog, Sloth Readswith a nod to Happy Goof-off Day and an original poem. Two Writing Teachers is past the halfway mark for their 12th Annual Slice of Life Story Challenge

Poetry Friday

Day 22 of 31 days of writing
March Slice of Life Story Challenge

Thursday, March 21, 2019

Wake Up to Springtime

As the spring season opens, we are called to awaken from the slumber of winter.

clouds hover
wiping away winter's dust
spring cleaning time 
©CV, 2019

In the quiet of a spring morning, I peer out the window, my observatory to seasonal life. Birds have returned to sing their song. Robin Redbreast and poised Blue Jay join each other at parallel branches. I watch their flight as they crisscross in their descent. From the front window, I see our neighborhood's feral cats sitting in the driveway waiting for humans to pass by. Early risers slowly walk their dogs. Car doors slam, motors run, and workers go off to their destinations. 

The busyness of the day begins but its time to quietly capture my noticings. What awaits? It's a whole new day to explore life. Perhaps, you will even "Let yourself become living poetry!" -Rumi

It's World Poetry Day! 
Write-Tweet #WorldPoetryDay-Enjoy Life

Related image

Day 21 of 31 days of writing
March Slice of Life Story Challenge

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

March Musings '19: Dandelion Dreams

The world brightens today as spring makes its entrance. My mind drifts back to childhood. Dandelions, perky and bright, grew wildly in our lawn. There was something magical about them as they stood upright, bursting with brilliant color. They were mine to pick, carry inside, and offer as a tribute to spring. Another quick thought flashes: Mom laughingly accepting my gift, recalling dandelions being Nonnie's edible treat.  Dandelion dreams dance in my mind as I blow their seeds into a stream of indelible memories.  

dandelion roots
brilliant bitter edible-
spring's field of dreams
©CV, 2019

Terje Akke, Estonia, 2018

days of play dance in my mind
springtime memories reveal
wild dandelion dreams
©CV, 2019

Thank you, Linda Baie, for suggesting the topic for Day 20 of Laura Shovan's Poetry Project.

Image may contain: plant, flower, outdoor and nature
Linda Baie, 2018 

Day 20 of 31 days of writing
March Slice of Life Story Challenge

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

It Looked Like...But

I pulled up the sun was as bright as can be. What should I wear? Hmm, let me think about this. I transferred most of my winter clothes to my cedar closet in hopes that I did not need them. After all, spring starts tomorrow and it looked like spring outside. The birds were fluttering around. There goes the robin redbreast. That is a good sign.

“Spring starts tomorrow,” the meteorologist chimed in but his weather map showed a different picture, not-quite-spring-weather. I grabbed a light coat, no gloves, no hat, and rushed out the door.

It looked like spring but the chill told me it was still winter.

By the time I got to the physical therapy center, my hands were cold. Everyone inside was talking about the weather. The PT aide who just came back from Florida told me the 
weather was 85 degrees there, a spring-like winter. Our 40-degree temperature felt really cold to her (and me too).

I gratefully received my heat treatment and went off to yoga where I know the room would be warm.

By the time I returned to the physical therapy room, it looked like spring outside but it still was winter.

Oh well.

Tomorrow is spring so let's see what that will bring.

For now, I go to sleep thinking of Joyce Kilmer's poem, Spring, that speaks of the joy of the season.

The air is like a butterfly
With frail blue wings,
The happy earth looks at the sky
And sings.

Day 19 of 31 days of writing
March Slice of Life Story Challenge

Monday, March 18, 2019

March Musings '19: Snow Baby on Skis

Off they went to a winter wonderland vacation. Beautiful, sun-kissed Jackson Hole, Wyoming, was waiting for them. Skis were packed-even the tiniest skis only meant for a twenty-one-year-old toddler. 

I fell in love with the original photo of this winter scene so I digitized it and added a title.

I marvelled at the wonder of nature, the pristine beauty of fresh snow, a sharp contrast to dirty snow or rain-washed snow slush. Even if you are not a fan of winter, you might be inclined to change your mind when viewing these vacation photos. 

The spectacular mountain views were welcoming
in each scene.

It was as if Mother Nature painted a landscape in brilliant white with a blue backdrop. 
Each photo made winter so inviting.

Thinking about my grandbaby in Jackson Hole led me to explore snow-themed poetry for writing models. When I found the following poem, A Child's Guide to Etiquette, by Chris Forhan (from No. 177, Summer 2006), I knew it was a just right one. You may agree.
Detail of Works Progress Administration's: "January: A Year of Good Reading" Poster

Snow is a hat worn by mountains, the tallest of which do not remove the hat in summer.
Sunlight settles like a shawl upon the hills and dewy berry fields.
The sun is not a wag or hail-fellow-well-met. It does not loaf or shirk.
It keeps it's face funeral-ready, as you should.
Away you go in the car. Father and Mother. Puff and Baby Sally.
Away you go into the Country. Spot and Jane.

Will I use this poem as a mentor poem? Perhaps, I will write a poem for my grandbaby, but for now I think I will just keep looking at the beauty of the western mountains set in winter sunshine and dream.

Day 18 of 31 days of writing
March Slice of Life Story Challenge

Sunday, March 17, 2019

March Musings '19: A Wee Bit of Luck

With the sound of Celtic music in the background and the aroma of a pot of corned beef simmering on the stove, St. Patrick's Day seems lively. While it's a family day of cooking, laundry, and having conversations with family and friends far away, I am thinking back on past St. Patrick's Day events.

I grew up in a neighborhood of families that were mostly Irish and Italian. The Catholic school I attended was filled with nuns who always celebrated St. Patrick's Day. Weeks before the event, my classmates and I were lined up learning Irish songs and dances. It was a lively and enjoyable ritual.

That was back then during my elementary school years. Now, I am surrounded once again by many Irish families in my community on Long Island. One of our parish priests commented about this at last night's Mass. 
"Did you know (laughingly) that many of our parishioners are Irish? I hate to inform many of you whom are Irish but St. Patrick was not Irish by birth. He was brought to Ireland from England by raiders and sold into slavery. But St. Patrick returned to Ireland to convert the people."
Many of us at Mass did not know these facts but nonetheless respect the fact that St. Patrick is revered as the patron saint of Ireland. Our town is well known for its cathedral, the St. Patrick's Day parade, and many restaurants near the Long Island Railroad stop. While I am not Irish, I enjoy celebrating this day with my town, family, and friends. 

A wee bit of luck happened today. My husband decided to make the corned beef and cabbage and my daughter dialed us up on Google Hangout so we could talk with our grandbaby who is half-Irish. Dressed in my shamrock necklace that lights up, I enjoyed every minute of the conversation that included watching Sierra eat and play. I did get a wave by and a kiss. 

Now I am off to check up on the corned beef and listen to When Irish Eyes Are Smiling. The following wonderful lines from the song remind me of Sierra's sweet smile. 

When your sweet lilting laughter's 
Like some fairy song.
And your eyes twinkle bright as can be
You should laugh all the while
And all other times smile,
And now, smile a smile for me. 

-a Then and Now slice-
Day 17of 31 days of writing
March Slice of Life Story Challenge