Tuesday, August 31, 2021

A Rain-Drenched Gift

Birthdays are wonderful days to celebrate the beginning of a new year of adventure in life.  In our family, a central part of a birthday party is the cake. It has always been our way to honor the traditions of the past, celebrate the present, and indulge in the sweetness of life. The tradition dates all the way back to my Nonnie who was know for her sweet delicacies. 

My daughter, son-in-law and little girls were in charge of the cake. My husband was the family chauffeur, I the birthday planner, and my sister a guest. My job was to find a restaurant offering outdoor eating in our local area. 

The day began with the usual humid weather and sunshine-a good sign that we could eat outside. The restaurant was in place but we needed to arrive early to get seating outdoors. My son was working until 6 o'clock so the rest of the family decided to meet early to make sure the reservation would guarantee a table outdoors. The reviews for the Blue Ridge Seafood Restaurant were very good. it was only a few minutes away from my son's workplace, so that was convenient. When we arrived there was a short line but by the time my son arrived the line was wrapped around the entrance. Luckily, calling ahead and arriving early worked to our advantage in being seated under a roofed patio. 

Shortly after our appetizer and beverages, the sky became dark. It was still very humid but we all knew what that meant. It seems that this summer, the weather is a topic of concern and rainstorms seem to start at the whim of nature. The week before we planned on eating at this restaurant until we walked out the door to my house and were greeted with a torrential storm. This time, we were all settled into our delicious seafood dinner (except for my husband who is allergic to shellfish had a huge plate of ribs), until a crack of ominous thunder roared and lightning cut across the sky like a knife cutting cake. Oh, well! We felt fortunate to be under a roof until the rain took a sharp turn and whipped into the patio area and onto our backs.  

"You can move to another table," the waitress, drenched in rain, exclaimed.  Luckily, we were finished with the dinner and awaiting the cake.  

"Let's not worry. The weather won't dampen our spirits." So, we continued to party on as my 4-year-old granddaughter would be inclined to say. 

The cake was beyond delicious as indicated by the chocolate faces of our two little toddlers. As we made a mad dash to the car, I remarked that this party would always be one for the family to remember. 

surprise greetings
nature astonishes all
rain-drenched gift
Happy 2021 Birthday, Derek,
Love Mom!

Let's hope that the birthday luncheon on your official birthday this Wednesday 
is a day without rain.

My Slice of Life is being sent to Two Writing Teachers with wishes for Great Happiness for my son!

Thursday, August 26, 2021

Sweet Summer Surprises

This summer there have been many wonderful gifts that bring joy: grandchildren frolicking, nature walks along a creek, new friends, and the soft sounds of poetry flooding the corridors of my heart. It's a new beginning in a new surrounding and quiet blessings come with sweet surprises along the way.

SURPRISE #1After a nature walk with my grandgirls, I designed a digital collage of photographs I took during our walk. I blended them into a postcard similar to the turn-of-the-20th century ones I have in my collection. My thoughts are in the form of a dodoitsu but I took creative license in only using 4 syllables instead of 5 for the last line.

SURPRISE #2The long-awaited, face-to-face meet-up with my next-town neighbor, Poetry Friday poet-librarian, Linda Mitchell. I was running late when the doorbell rang but that was fine. We hugged as old friends would after Linda extended an unexpected housewarming gift.

Lunch, chitchat, plans for future poetic outings, and meet-ups were part of the afternoon fun. Linda left with two boxes of professional texts for her teachers, Wonderopolis swag, and books for her library. I happily said goodby knowing that two more boxes were removed from my stack of unopened items. 

SURPRISE #3: Linda devised an on-the-spot poem swap for us. I would send her some photos of my antique collection of early 20th-century prints by the famous illustrator, Harrison Fisher. She would write ekphrastic poetry for each print. She suggested that I write about her cookie, brownie, and cupcake treats. I added in the digital artwork, and a selfie of us (which I call an ussie when it is more than one person). A story-poem evolved from the above picture prompt.

SURPRISE #4: I created memories that were encapsulated in digital art and poetry while Linda shared her poetic thoughts through ekphrastic skinnies that you can find at her blog post, Poetic Luncheon

SURPRISE #5: I happened upon the following quote by a 20th Century poet, Lawrence Ferlinghetti.

"Poetry is eternal graffiti written in the heart of everyone."

Perhaps, Ferlinghetti meant that graffiti is a form of visual communication and poetry is the format to communicate the richness of what we see and feel. 


Join me for the Poetry Friday Roundup at EFL teacher and writer Elisabeth Norton's blog, Unexpected Expectations. There's a party of poetic thoughts going on.

Tuesday, August 24, 2021

Baking with the Grandgirls

Last week at Poetry Friday, I shared a unique and creative summer poem swap gift from Mary Lee Hahn. It is a custom-designed oracle haiku and dodoitsu deck. For today's slice of life, I use one line from the deck to create a dodoitsu (a four-line poem of 7-7-7-5 syllables) about a highlight of the three-day weekend with the little grandgirls. Each moment with them is a gift.

As I look back on my own childhood in my Nonnie's kitchen, I reminisce about mixing wonder with childhood dreams during one of our creative activities. A little bit of dreaming with a good amount of chocolate are delicious ingredients in a sweet treat. 
summer shakes away stormy blues
with grandgirls in the kitchen
whisking, baking, licking spoons
great expanse of life.
©CV, 2021

My little ones started the 2021-2022 school year yesterday, just like many Northern Virginia educators.  My best wishes are sent out to all who create enriched learning experiences for all their learners. 

Tuesday Slice of Life at Two Writing Teachers

Friday, August 20, 2021

Summer Bursts with Color and Creativity

Summer 2021 bursts with sizzling temperatures, brilliant sunset colors, and fierce storms. In between all of those nature-made events, creativity has flowed.  Summer Poem Swap #3 took me by storm (so to speak). A small package arrived filled with the flaming colors of summer. Inside I found a stack of custom card stock, water-colored cards created by Mary Lee Hahn that were tied with a turquoise ribbon. A letter was penned on a similar water-colored paper that was oversized. Included was a sentiment that touched me: "This is a custom haiku (or dodoitsu) oracle deck, made with phrases found in your poems". Mary Lee designed a workable and reusable deck of cards for me to enjoy and create different haiku or dodoitsu poems. Not only was the swap gift unique, but it was also a learning tool since I never heard of a dodoitsu.

Haiku (5-7-5) by Mary Lee

find open spaces
mix wonder and childhood dreams
be glad for blessings

Here is a photo I found in Mary Lee's blog post, Missing Mom dated 12/20/2017 that I thought would pair nicely with the above Haiku.

Dodoitsu (7-7-7-5) by Mary Lee

gratitude floats through the air
the sweetness of goodness found
in robes of golden sunrise
          great expanse of life.
          ©CV, 2021

I thought this Google Image was wll-suited for the above dodoitsu.

Mary Lee ended with a wish for me. "Have fun mixing and matching to create new poems with your very own words!" Since she requested that I not share my deck until mid-August, today I feature the sizzling, colorful, and creative poem swap. Grateful for this gift and the opportunity to write, I started to create immediately. 

 My thank you dodoitsu to Mary Lee:

gratitude floats through the air
blossoms like a bud of spring
in robes of golden sunrise
         how charming you are
         ©CV, 2021

I had fun playing with the deck. 

The above image poem was created using the FotoJet app. It is one of the many photos I have from the wooded trail along the creek in our community. It will be added to my Nurturing Our Summer Souls Gallery collection.


Last week was one of the firsts in our family! My daughter competed in her first triathlon and my son saved a life at work! Because these were proud moments in our family's journey, I wanted to share the events with all. Unfortunately, after I published the post, the revised copy disappeared along with the cheritas I wrote to commemorate each event. Now, I am in the process of recreating the poems since the originals were lost. 


Thank you, Carol Labuzzetta, for hosting Poetry Friday for the first time. Carol shares her experience teaching a summer enrichment program. She provides a serene photo to prompt our own imaginations. 

Thursday, August 12, 2021

What Calls To Me

Each summer the sea calls to me. Sometimes it roars with urgency and other times it enchants me with its lulling sounds. As one of "nature's promoters of peace", the sea inspires me to write. Whether I am at the beach or gazing into one of my photographs of the ocean, I respond to the call. I fill my thoughts with coastal colors, like quiet moments and healing aloe, to set the tone and fill my creative space with calm. Adding soothing music of waves ebbing and flowing and soft lighting, stillness surrounds me. Even when words do not flow, I am at rest waiting for the muse to call. 

Seaside vibes ignite creativity sparks.

Tonight, I write for this week's Poetry Friday Roundup knowing that our teacher-poet host and Wonderopolis Ambassador colleague, Christie Wyman, is also in the creativity zone. What Christie offers is a "poetic salad, side dish, or dessert to extend our Poetry Is... community poem. She is eager to read what poetry means to each writer and create a Part II Community Poem. While I forgot to hit the send button for my submission, I add it here and look forward to reading what Christie creates. 

As a poet, writer, and digital artist, I look at life through two lenses, the poet's and artist's points of view. 
From the artist's vantage point:
Poetry is a sun note opening day
across a painted skyway.
©CV, 2021

From the writer's point of view:
Poetry is a brushstroke of words
illuminating a thought.
©CV, 2021

May my digital artwork and poems inspire you to nurture your soul. 
If interested, I invite you to offer an image poem, nature photography, digital art, video, song, or inspirational quote for my upcoming Nurturing Our Summer Souls Gallery.

Tuesday, August 10, 2021


"A vacation is nothing to do and all day to do it in." -Robert Orben

Summer vacation is coming to a close. Back-to-school ads are common. Educators think ahead to their classrooms and schools. Students enjoy their last days of leisurely living.  There is still time to "just be" during this summer

I think back on my mini-vacation to the Jersey shore with the grandgirls and

sigh with happiness!

During these last weeks of summer, I pause to reflect on what vacation means and how I can savor the last weeks before Labor Day.
Vacations, whether they are full weeks, mini-trips, or just day trips, are for dreamers, wanderers, and all who desire a change of pace, time to live in the slow lane, and "just be".

Post Cards from Cape May, New Jersey, Summer 2021

Goodby vacation. I'm off to enjoy my last weeks of summer. How about you?

Tuesday Slice of Life at Two Writing Teachers.

Friday, August 6, 2021

Summertime's Poetic Gift

"Summertime is always the best of what might be." 

With his key eye of an investigative journalist, author, essayist, Charles Bowden, penned the inspiration above. I sit back and read the line again noting what truth lies within the words. Summertime nourishes my soul. It brightens what is and saturates what might be with vivid colors, summer breezes, and leisurely days that free the spirit. Each summer, poet Tabatha Yeatts brings the best of summer wishes to the poetry world in a Summer Poem Swap exchange. I have previously shared my first poem swap with my far-away poet friend Iphigene Daradar. Today, I showcase creative expressions from Tabatha Yeatts herself. How lucky for me to be gifted with zentangle poems and artwork that Tabatha crafted from my own poems. 

Tabatha used my line "Everything around you is nature-scented", to "write a found poem about how our lives are a mix of the good and the bad". I find truth in that statement for life is a series of ups and downs. We find optimism and hope in the thought that life is a cycle and as Tabatha says, "we must find a way to be comfortable and at home with the duality of these aspects of life."

In the above digital poem, Tabatha's artwork compliments different aspects of life, from the words sweet and shadow to the images of the crescent moon and sun.

The second grouping of zentangle found poems center once again around my words, "Everything around you is bathed in beauty". Each found poem is lovingly created into digital artwork on marbleized paper.

Poem Swap Wishes
celebrating  summer you pause; welcome
new season with new stories.
birthdays come and grow.
you reflect and write!
circle words and
one day leave
skyward and refreshed!
©CV, 2021
Now, I am off to celebrate the Poetry Friday Roundup at our host, Mary Lee Hahn's blog.

This week I was lucky to have the muse visit as did Mary Lee. 
You can find the fruits of my weeklong labor, a cherita and a definito poem.

Wednesday, August 4, 2021


Our small community of writers gathers together this month at Spiritual Journey Thursday to explore the timely topic of respect offered by our host, Linda Mitchell

Respect is a focal point in interpersonal relationships and personal identity. It is the basis for healthy living but there has been a rise of disrespect in the world. Incidences of disharmony have been recorded in newspapers. Evening news bulletins show areas of open strife that have led to violence. Hate, major misunderstandings, and ill will to others seem to be some causes. All of this saddens many. The lack of respect seen disrupts everyday living causing the downfall of positive relationships. 

This year, adults will return to the workplace and students to their classroom from all different situations. How they interact with one another is a concern. A growth-minded viewpoint is key to creating an environment where all are encouraged to positively relate to one another, take risks, and thrive in joyful settings. How shall we proceed this year? Will will take on the banner of respect and make it our mantra? Shall we listen to the wisdom of scripture?  

"Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord." - Romans 12:9-11

Shall we look to ancient philosophers, like Confucius, for guidance or the gentle wisdom of Mother Teresa?

"If a man is respectful, he will not be treated with insolence. If he is tolerant, he will win the multitude. If he is trustworthy in word, his fellow men will entrust him with responsibility. If he is quick, he will achieve results." -Confucius

"Works of love are always to accept and respect others." - Mother Teresa

As this year brings people back to the workplace and students to their classrooms, we are faced with the issue of how to create communities of joy where respect for one another leads to honoring all voices. This type of environment builds a safe community for all to coexist in peacefully. Are we ready to take on the mantra of respect for the betterment of society?

In 2019, poet-teacher Heidi Mordhorst introduced the definito poem form. It is a free verse poem of 8-12 lines (aimed at 8-12 year olds) that highlights wordplay as it demonstrates the meaning of a less common word, which always ends the poem. I deviated from the format by introducing a universal word that should be posted in every classroom and practiced in the workplace and homes. 


not a 
      disapproval of others
 not a disregard 
      for self 
a feeling of admiration
regard for one another in
communities of joyful interactions and explorations
sharing gifts of trust and consideration
    for life and living

   ©CV, 2021

Let's remember this quote as begin anew carrying the mantra of respect.
Kindness leads to mutual respect.
Wednesday Wisdom on Twitter
Sent by Arthur Plitt @ReikiArthur

Tuesday, August 3, 2021

Foodie's Delight

Each year on our anniversary my husband and I dined at well-known restaurants on Long Island and New York City. We were always eager to savor delectable delights. We have fond memories of fine dining there but this year, being new to Northern Virginia, we decided it was time for country dining. We relied on reviews, new neighbor thoughts, and finally decided on a recommendation from our daughter and son-in-law who raved about FIELD & MAIN Restaurant.

With the anticipation of a six-course dinner and wine pairing, The Present Meal, we drove a short distance through country roads towards the restaurant nestled in Marshall, Virginia. The town was small and charming with its Main Street being a quaint and lovely setting for small stores and the restaurant, a two-story building with a side patio. The history of the building dates to a tavern from the 1800s. As we neared the restaurant, we saw cabanas behind the patio for small groups of diners. Customers were milling around with smiles on their faces. As we entered the main building, we were greeted by Morgan, the hostess. In an exuberant manner, she welcomed us with a printed menu that had a Happy Anniversary greeting on the cover! This was a delightful touch. 

The menu stated that The Present Menu would be a celebration of nature's gifts  available at this moment in time. With my love of nature and fine foods, I knew this menu would deliver a mouthwatering tasting of both food and wine. 

The first course was blistered shishito pepper with lime crema, bene seeds & cilantro. A Roger Neveu, Sauvignon Blanc from France, 2019 was paired with this small present that was beautifully presented.

The second course was heirloom tomato with cucumber, Queso fresco & basil oil served with Domaine de Nizas, Syrah-Grenache-Mourvedre from France, 2020. We knew this would be a favorite and we're so excited about the flavors to come that I forgot to take a photo. While eating this amazing appetizer, I looked to the left and saw a delicious bread board which I immediately ordered. The Hearth bread was warm and grilled to perfection. I imagined it was baked in the 10-foot-wide wood-fueled heart in the kitchen. Accompanying it was whipped goat schmear, preserved sweet peppers, and lardon. Being freshly baked bread lovers, we savored every bite and even dipped our bread into the leftover dressing of basil oil from the second course.

The third course was sauteed shrimp with maque choux & heirloom tomato jam paired with I Custodi, Nerello Mascalese wine from Mt. Etna, Sicily, 2014. Since my husband is allergic to shrimp, he was offered porkbelly. We both enjoyed these delicacies and once again forgot to take photos but needless to say, they were presented with care. The tastes sparked our interest for the next course., ember roasted summer squash with whipped tofu, maitake mushrooms XO & sunflower-sesame seed crunch. Since we both love summer squash, we exclaimed how interesting the taste was, so unlike any other preparation, we've ever had.

Now for the main entree of the fifth course. Drum roll...Just look below to see how appealing the Ovoka Farm ribeye with spring onion chimichurri & crispy polenta looked. It was a true present from the chef with a simply scrumptious taste. In fact, it was so delicious and filling that I asked for the two last pieces to be wrapped up for a tasting at home. Unfortunately, my son saw it in the refrigerator and decided to try it out. He also loved the taste. The wine that was paired with this course was Sa Defenza, Cannonau-Bovale, "Demira", from Sardegna, Italy, 2019, a delicious choice. 

The last course of the meal was baked peach with bread pudding & creme anglais. Coming from a long line of bakers, I could not wait for this course. Much to my surprise, the bread pudding was light, crispy, and flavorsome. The wine was a white wine, Petit Manseng, "Late Harvest", from Linden Vineyards in Virginia. The vineyard described this wine as following, "it starts with tropical fruit flavors and finishes with an elegant tang". It was the perfect finish to a luscious meal.


charming countryside restaurant

farm-to-table fare
guest-centric delectable dining

rustic art compliments a simple setting from a time gone by
bringing a contemporary dining experience
for foodies' delight
©cv, 2021


Our compliments to owner/chef, Neal Wavra and his staff!

We will definitely return to savor the chef's delectable presents.

What a great 45th-anniversary present to self this was!


Today's slice of life reflects on our first scrumptious meal at FIELD & MAIN. There will be many more.