Tuesday, September 28, 2021

Introduction to Nurturing Our Summer Souls Gallery

"Rejoice as summer should...chase away sorrows by living." - Melissa Marr

The Summer of 2021 came with a dream of a joyous outdoor life not hampered by masks and pandemic woes. It was to be our season of letting go, finding contentment and self-fulfillment, pondering life, and promoting self-care. While it opened as a means to breathe in the joy of new life, it was tinged by constant reminders that the journey was still an upward climb. 

With this in mind, I turned to nature for a new season and a new beginning. While it is true that the pandemic heavily influenced the way we lived and reduced our accessibility to enjoyment as we knew it, it did not erase the quest to wander, wonder, and discover elements of nature that provide joy. 

Join me as I unveil the first section, an introduction to the Nurturing Our Summer Souls Gallery of Artistic Expression. Enjoy the virtual presentation that blends poetry, art, technology to bring a virtual experience to reflect upon life. From various corners of the world and across the states, creative individuals come together to create a space for relaxation and renewal. Sit back and 

 Nurturing Our Summer Souls promotional poster
Designer and Curator of the Gallery
Carol Varsalona
Nature photograph offered by
Jan Annino, Fran Haley, Donna Smith and myself
This gallery was created with Canva. 
You can view the digital presentation on Canva by clicking the button Present here.

May your summer memories fill your soul with hope that the following seasons will bring a sense of peace and renewal.

Thank you to the Two Writing Teachers for continually offering space for writers and to the Slicers who contributed to the introduction to Nurturing Our Summer Souls Gallery

Friday, September 24, 2021

Welcome Autumn's Precious Gifts

Because autumn is an unparalleled season of grandeur, it deserves praise as it opens its season.

I spent the better part of this week creating several scenes inside and outside my new home to give praise and thanksgiving for autumn. Join me as I welcome through the lens of digital art and poetry one of my favorite seasons. 

Autumn's arrival-
season goes viral.
has no denial-
Autumn's an idol.
of earth's revival.
Picturesque idyll-

©CV, 2021 

The above poem is a laie, a French poetic form consiting of nine-lines that use and "a" and "b" rhyme in the following pattern: aabaabaab. The "a" rhyme iens are 5 syllable in length while the "b" rhyme lines are 2 syllable. I have looked at this format since Tricia Stohr-Hunt shared it at her May 21, 2021 blog Post.  


Gather autumn's precious gifts
in robes of golden sunrise.
Be glad for nature's blessings.
Gratitude abounds!
©CV, 2021 
The above poem is a dodoitsu poem created from the haiku oracle deck designed as a summer poetry swap gift from Mary Lee Hahn. It consists of four lines with a 7-7-7-5 syllable count. 

The digital photo above of my granddaughter and daughter in an apple orchard reminds me of the following quote from Outlander, by Diana Gabaldon: "It was a beautiful, bright autumn day, with air like cider and a sky so blue you could drown in it."

Gratitude Floats Through the Air

sweet smells of cider
bountiful trees of apples-
blessings of nature
©CV, 2021 

The Poetry Sisters offer a tanka challenge for September:  write a tanka, a five-line, 5/7/5/7/7 in response to an original poem from any of the Poetry Friday writers. After that, share it at Poetry Friday and add the tag #PoetryPals on social media.  Below is my response to Tanita Davis' tanks, Ode to the Pink Lady, from November 5, 2018. I chose this poem because it fits in beautifully with the digital artwork of my original picture at the apple orchard (above). 
Ode to the Pink Lady 

who needs pumpkin spice?
apples don’t – no camouflage
is necessary
even caramel* apples
are no match for fresh and crisp

Autumn's Morsels

seasonal delight
the succulence of apples
oven-fresh surprise
caramel, chocolate chips
tasty, little bites of fall
©CV, 2021 


Life starts all over again when it gets crisp in the fall. – F. Scott Fitzgerald

As I begin this season, I pause in thanks as I notice that autumn is more the season of the soul than of nature." (Friedrich Nietzsche) For the soul-filling days ahead, I feel the peace of autumn days and excited to explore new regions in Virginia with my little granddaughters and family. May autumn soothe your soul! Here is a peek at autumn around the globe. Nature photos are from Terje Akke in Estonia and Jackie Yun in Hawaii. 


Thank you to my friend, poet Laura Purdie Salas for hosting Poetry Friday this month. She has been busy with her new move, writing a new book, and penning tankas for this month's Poetry Princess challenge.

Tuesday, September 21, 2021

Summer Waves Goodby

This weekend as my family drove around curvy bends, the faint markings of fall appeared. Soft leaves from green-canopied trees danced in front of us. Nature shared its seasonal contrasts. The last days of summer were fading so we followed the road's path to celebrate late summer's bounty.

along scenic roads
dancing leaves pirouetted
summer breezed by
evening shadows
rustled whispering reeds
seasons transitioned

©CV, 2021

πŸŒ… 🍁Summer waved goodby. Autumn returns.

Enjoy the shift in seasons that nurtures our souls. πŸŒ… 🍁

Thursday, September 16, 2021

Celebrating Late Summer's Bounty

On a beautiful, temperate September day, we excitedly accepted an invitation to go apple-picking. Remembering that it was one of our family's favorite end-of-summer/early fall activities, we jumped in the car and headed to the Virginia countryside to meet up with my daughter, son-in-law, and toddler grandgirls. 

Majestic trees with a hint of color, stood erect lining the highway like guardsmen of nature. In the distance, a broad mountain appeared. We were amazed by how beautiful the countryside looked. Spotting a sign for a winery, we exited off the highway and followed the path to the winery. A very curvy road lay ahead of us so we slowly and safely transversed it. The excitement mounted when we entered the apple orchard. The day was a joyous one; the little ones excitedly picked all sizes of apples with the hopes of creating all sorts of desserts with the half bushel each family picked. As Rachel Ray said, "Everybody's twelve years old in an apple orchard."

Celebrating Late Summer's Bounty
We won't forget the glorious day or the apple orchard
We wandered through in early September,
Moving cautiously from one section to another.
We won't forget the brilliant sunshine streaking
Across the apple trees and bees and butterflies fluttering by
stopping only for a taste of sweetness.
Our thoughts traveled to countless orchards and
Memories of New York orchards but the children's 
Wide eyes filled with wonder were the best surprise.
What more could we ask for from that day,
After picking a half-bushel of harvest-ripe fruit?
Perhaps, nature continues to nurture our late summer souls
Or silently and mindfully growing to bear fruit?
©CVarsalona, 2021

I am glad that I found a way to insert part of the title of my upcoming gallery, Nurturing Our Summer Souls, into the poem. 


I am ready to join my far-away friend, Denise Krebs in Bahrain, at her blog, Dare To Care, for the Poetry Friday Roundup. Denise shares an In One Word poem with us that is very clever. 

Friday, September 10, 2021

Hearts Recollect 9/11

On September 11th the world will stop to remember one of the saddest days in history. As a former member of the Rockville Centre community on Long  Island, I shall never forget the horror of devastation that rocked our small village. Forty-five members perished in the event on an ordinary day. A child lost her mother during the attack and a group of high school seniors grieved this loss during a candlelight ceremony. The town wept as did the state and nation for their losses during the horrific event. 

Last night while watching the ABC News Special 20/20 show, Women of 9/11:Twenty Years Later, with Robyn Roberts, I felt all over again the sting of sorrow, the disbelief of the happening, and the sadness that still exists. I turned to my blog posts regarding 9/11 and created a blackout poem prompted by this haunting photo.

 Women of 9/11:Twenty Years Later, ABC

So Many Stories, So Many Hearts Broken: A 9/11 Recollection

Nation remembers:
People perished,
New York City suffered.
Incredible sadness
Blasted air.
Tears touched the community.
Heavy hearts mourned
In solidarity.
Anguish witnessed attack.
Disbelief, despair
Rose from ashes.
Charcoaled faces,
Chaos, grief grew
In wake of disaster. 
9/11, harsh reality,
a retold journey.
©CVarsalona, 2021

Yesterday, the nation paused to remember a horrific event in its history. On September 11, 2001, a never-to-be-forgotten date, 3000 people perished in the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. Of that number, Rockville Centre, a small suburb of New York City, suffered considerable losses. 48 of my townspeople people died as a result of the "largest attack on US soil" on that fateful day.  

I shall never forget theincredincredible feeling of sadness mixed with panic as colleagues and I heard the news the morning of September 11, 2001. As the media blasted the air with news, it was very difficult to continue the day of elementary school as usual. Colleagues tried to connect with loved ones who went to work in New York City; worrisome looks multiplied; phone calls were interrupted; tears shed. When I arrived home, news of the attacks were haunting the neighborhoods of Rockville Centre.  A small group of concerned South Side high school students, my daughter being one of them, were touched by the events of the day that deeply affected one of their classmates.  The concerned peers formed a bond and brought the school community together in support of their friend whose mother was killed in the World Trade Building terrorist attack while her father was out of the country on business

That night, students, heavy in heart, led a vigil march through the neighborhoods. The sky, lit up by hundreds of candles held in the hands of mourners and supporters, marched in solidarity, bringing a town together during a time of deep anguish. Many people were not among the group, my husband being one of them. Although safe, he was forced to stay in New Jersey that night. Entrance back to Long Island was closed. After hours of no contact, he did bring us news of what he witnessed. As traffic slowed on  road from NYC to New Jersey, he, along with many motorists, saw the second plane attack the World Trade Center. During a night of disbelief and despair his story as well as many others rose from the ashes Wof a grim fate. There was the friend who led the NYC Bomb Squad searches; the first responder who traveled from Suffolk County to NYC to support the ravagedorld Trade Center; other friends who walked across the Brooklyn Bridge to come home from the havoc that ensued on Wall Street. There was the brave fireman from our next town who lost his life at the site and dozens of Rockville Centre neighbors who never came home from work that night. There were the charcoaled faces, broken dreams, and voices that could not speak of the horrors witnessed. But in all the chaos and grief, the town bonded and grew strength from each other. Ceremonies, monuments, memorial parks all created during the weeks that followed allowed a town to heal in the wake of disaster. 

The remembrance of
9/11 is a heavy one that never leaves one's heart. In our neighborhood, and across Long Island to New York City children were forced to deal with a harsh reality that life is fragile and dreams can be broken. Paralleling that message was the belief that hope can exist in a town despite devastating losses. Rockville Centre Mayor Francis Murray, summarized this feeling during his memorial speech on Sunday, September 8, 2013. "No community suffered more than Rockville Centre...but we did not just survive this tragedy, we prevailed." 

Stories have been told, repeated, and
retold over the past twelve years. Hearts have been mended, but Rockville Centre community members never forgot the losses. September 11, 2001 marked the day for a town to be brought to its knees. Subsequent years have marked the evolution of 9/11 stories into messages of courage, survival and new learnings about life's fragile journey.

as the bell tolls,
names are read,
flags unbound, waving proudly,
and heartbreaking headlines shared.

numbered in the sky,
is our town's tradition.
Village Green is ready.
We shall remember
and wait for a 
Rainbow of Possibilities.
©CVarsalona, 2019, Rockville Centre, NY


It's time to join the Poetry Friday Roundup at The Miss Rumphius Effect. Tricia Stohr-Hunt, our host this week, offers a Barbara Crooker poem on grief.

Tuesday, September 7, 2021

Dental Arts

My husband set the alarm for an early rise. When the tic tock ring went off, I was not ready. I wanted to snuggle a bit more and so I did. I usually slide into events and it looked like this would be another example of an old habit. Perhaps, it was the fear of upcoming pain, after all it has been eight months since my last treatment in Long Island. 

Finding a good dentist is a mix of research and recommendations. Since I needed three cavities filled and one crown, my husband drove me to the dentist that was only five minutes away. In our new locale everything seems such a short ride. I started anticipating the long procedure during the car ride. As during my first consultation, I was greeted with smiles and a friendly hello. So far so good.

Take a deep breath.
Sit down.
The chair is comfortable.
Slide up the chair.
Dark glasses?
Flashbacks to my childhood  dental visit-
Painful reminder.
Forget that!
Dark room and dark glasses
are cues to close my eyes.
A symphony of sounds begin.
Prick, pinch.
Numbness begins.
Sit back and almost relax.
Buzz, buzz.
Change of equipment.
Open mouth. Close.
Gurgle, gurgle
And so forth.
Time is passing on.
When the crown work begins.
Three cavities filled
Crown work started.
How does it feel?
Adjustments made.
Mouthful of novacaine
Makes knowing
If the adjustments are good.
Temporary crown complete.
No pain.
Next appointment scheduled.
Bathroom stop.
Quick chuckle.

Now I know why the doctor
Chose the title Dental Arts?
What a pleasurable visit!
My Slice of Life!
Thanks Two Writing Teachers for the space to write a short narrative
on my morning event.

Friday, September 3, 2021

#PoetryPals Challenge & More Poetry Fun

Another surprise marks the near end of the summer season. For last week's Poetry Friday, I wrote about Sweet Surprises. One of the surprises was a meet-up with my poetry friend, Linda Mitchell, who lives about 15 minutes away. While writing that post, I did forget that it was the end of the month and that the Poetry Sisters/#PoetryPals invited all to take a plunge into their August challenge, WHAT THE ________KNOWS poems. The idea was to write in the style of Jane Yolen's eight-line, rhyming poem, What the Bear Knows. This challenge was in honor of Jane Yolen's 400th book.

I wrote two drafts of different poems earlier during the month of August with the topic "What Does Baby Know?" Because we have been Grandma and Grandpa sitting on and off during August, I chose to write about our twenty-month granddaughter whom we just stopped calling baby. My first poem below is slightly different than the suggested form but I wanted to add an additional stanza. 


What does the baby know? 
To be curious about all things
To find joy in life's flow
To figure out how to throw
What does the baby know? 
Be determined to share her sweet grin
To busy herself while having fun
Until each splendid day is done. 
©CVarsalona, Summer 2021 


In addition to the poems and digitized images above, I created a haiku to accompany my slice of life about the first birthday celebration we had for my son. This can be found at my blog post, A Rain-Drenched Gift. Earlier tonight, our Spiritual Journey Thursday group under the leadership of Karen Eastlund wrote to the topic, virtue. While I struggled to get started, I decided to write a goal-setting poem on the virtues I would like to work on the rest of this year. That can be found at my blog under SJT Virtue.


As the stroke of midnight approaches, I turn my thoughts to Poetry Friday. The amazing activitist poet-author-teacher, Heidi Mordhorst, is hosting this week at her blog, my juicy little universe. Heidi has an amazing array of thoughts, poems, and challenges for us to peruse at her poetrypalooza. Join me there.

I am gathering poetic and artistic expressions in the form of image poems, inspirational quotes, digital inspirations, music, artwork, and any other option for my upcoming Nurturing Our Summer Souls Gallery. If interested contact me or send in your offerings related to the topic. I have a Twitter hashtag, #NurturingOurSummerSouls, set up for incoming digital. Please send it to @cvarsalona also.