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

Expressing Myself Artistically

Have you ever created a ditty, a short simple poem that turns into a song?  I did in response to Jesse Anna Bornemann's invitation at Michelle H. Barnes TLD Ditty Challenge:
Find a Beatles song.
Write down as many words from the song as you can. 
Compose a poem that uses at least three words from your list. 
Don't tell the name of the song that inspired your poem.

While visiting my granddaughter this past week, I was inspired to write a poem for her about waking up in the morning. After choosing a Beatles song, I investigated new poetic forms and found the shadorma. It is defined by Writer's Digest as a 6-line syllabic poem of 3/5/3/3/7/5 syllable lines. You can see how it is broken into 6 lines below.

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

For fun, since my granddaughter enjoys music, I turned the poem into a ditty song using the app, Ditty by Zya. It is amazing how technology can assist a not musically-gifted writer to express herself artistically in another dimension. Below is my ditty poem song video.

Last step: I added my poem song with blog address to the padlet,  Today's Little Ditty Song Lyric Poems. The next time I visit my granddaughter we will have a poem song to hear and the video to watch.

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.