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

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.