Tuesday, October 31, 2023

Halloween 2023 Memories

  Where there is no imagination, there is no horror!   

  Arthur Conan Doyle   

It's Halloween and the world is a children's playground on this particular day. All the Disney princesses, Marvel characters, and clever homemade costumes appear in schoolyard parades or after-school trick-or-treating. I miss the razzle-dazzle fun of  Halloween dress-up time when I was a reading specialist and a districtwide administrator. Those were the days of Halloween magic!

Now, to satisfy my undying devotion to Halloween fun, I create scenarios that feed my inner Halloween spirit. Eery nightmares let my imagination fly. I wake up trying to decipher what I saw during the night but it all vanishes at daylight. So what do I do? Decorating inside and outside the house, baking treats (no tricks), putting together family costumes, and snapping photos for posterity complete my mission to let creative juices flow. Below are two digitized photo memories from last weekend's Halloween party. Which one do you like best?

skeptical looks rise
withered appearances
quite a surprise
but perseverance
helps families survive
©CVarsalona, 2023

My grandgirls are intrigued with Halloween teeth.
mirror, mirror
on the wall...
©CVarsalona, digital art, 2023
Word of the Day Fun

float around my dreams
causing dysphoria
I wake to screams
need sweet euphoria
for nonspooky happenings
that autumn delightfully brings
©CVarsalona, 2023
The clock is ticking. After a fun Halloween with my grandgirls, I join the Two Writing Teachers community of spirited educators.  I slip in before midnight ready to read a few slices before bedtime. I wonder where my imagination will take me tonight.

    Happy Halloween!    

Friday, October 20, 2023

Celebrating the Book Birthday of "The Thing To Remember About Stargazing"

Did you know that books have birthdays? It is not a party with cake and candle blowing but it is a splendid send-off into the world on the day the book is published. Come celebrate a wonder-filled children's book, THE THING TO REMEMBER ABOUT STARGAZING, by one of my talented children's book author and poet friends, Matt Forrest Esenwine. October 3, 2023 debuted the arrival of Matt's amazing book published by Tilbury House and illustrated by Sonia Maria Luce Possentini. Matt has a magical touch when writing and his newest book combines the wonder of the evening sky and the lure of "just being" still on a starlit night. 

Let's take a look at the book trailer premiere that gave the kidlit world a sneak peek into "this picture-book ode to stargazing with an underlying message of awe for the wonders of nature". 

Nature provides wonderers with so many awesome sights to see in this world. If you look closely at the front cover of Matt's book you notice the glow of the evening sky. Does this bring you back to your childhood? Did you once upon a time, trace the sky with your eyes and listen to the sounds of stillness? In a poetic way, Matt offers a voyage back into time or a new experience for those who cannot now see the amazing pictures glowing in the sky. 

The intro to the book reminds us that not only humans look to the sky at night. All creatures do."The stars look down on us all, and we all gaze upward. The night sky binds us together." This one line makes me reflect on a world at crossroads and how important it is to remember we all live on this great big planet. This book with its mindfulness theme offers a gentle new way to reflect in silence.

The illustrations enhance the magnitude of Matt's choice of words and the simplicity of his message for all. "The most important thing to remember about stargazing is...to do it."

After the end of this beautifully imagined book is an informational text, The Stars In Our Eyes, written once again from the poet's perspective. A new word for most children, asterisms, is introduced. "Images and patterns that we see within constellations are known as asterisms. Matt even adds a whimsical game to the act of stargazing. ...You can find your own asterisms in the night-sky-just connect a few dots (i.e.,stars) and come up with a name for the image you imagine. Perhaps you'll discover the Leaping Platypus, the Great Pickup Truck, or the Ancient Crazy-Haired Teacher."  
I posed the following Questions for Matt to answer.

1. When you began your journey of writing this book, how long did the total process take?
The book took nearly 10 years from the time I wrote the original poem to the date it was published. In-between, it went from a poem titled "A Beginner's Guide to Stargazing" to a picture book manuscript titled, "The Thing to Remember About Stargazing" - and there was a lot of revision going on there, as well! You can learn more about the backstory here: https://writersrumpus.com/2023/10/06/the-thing-to-remember-about-stargazing-a-lesson-in-learning-to-rewrite-revise-recycle/Within this thought lies the truth about writing. "Passion, Persistence, and Patience Counts!"

2. What is your process when creating a title for your books? 
As far as titles, half the time a title will come to me and I'll write the book around that, and half the time an idea will pop into in my head and I'll get the book halfway done before the title comes to me. But I like having a title as early in the process as possible, because it sort of keeps me on track, focused on the story/subject, almost like a compass pointing north. In the case of Stargazing, I had no choice but to change the title, so I used a line from the book as the title because it summed up the narrative very nicely.
A piece of interesting information about Matt's successful career as a writer, poet, children's author: Matt is sending out StoryWalk(R) copies of his new book to two dozen libraries across the state of New Hampshire.

As a certified Wonderopolis wonderologist, I am constantly wondering. Perhaps, classroom children would like to find out Why Do Stars Twinkle?  Find the response at Wonderopolis' Wonder of the Day #1818. 
Thank you, Matt, for allowing me to enter your big universe of stargazing as I used to do as a child. Your book inspired me to write a small poem.

Within this book, I found a small poem

within this book
a universe of stars
a pathway to wonder
awe-struck, stilled moments
©CVarsalona, 2023
Today is a happy day at Bridget Magee's blog post, wee words for wee ones. She is not only happy to be the Poetry Friday host but celebrate another year around the sun. Bridget has "decided to lean hard into happy because right now the world needs happy".

Tuesday, October 17, 2023

Pumpkin Picking

Last week at Poetry Friday, Anastasia Suen, invited writers to create #smallpoems for October. Since my family was planning an outing to the local pumpkin farm, I thought I might have inspiration there. What started out with excitement for a fall excursion, ended up with disappointment. The beautiful October weather took on grey tones and damp drippings. The missed opportunity left me with store-bought pumpkins instead of plump pumpkins from the pumpkin farm.

pumpkin picking
is quite an art
but weather is tricking
there goes my heart
©CVarsalona, 2023, #smallpoem draft

After I sent my October #smallpoem draft to Anastasia Suen, she replied. "Even your comment is a small poem when I add line breaks!" I felt her thoughts made my small poem complete. See the revised poem.

I am missing
picking pumpkins
with the grands today.
Weather issues
are preventing
the fun play.
©CVarsalona, 2023, #smallpoem

BUT, the story is not finished. With a quick change in weather patterns, the sun came out. Plans quickly changed again and off we went to a pumpkin patch in Great Falls. When we arrived, there was a distinct briskness in the air. I was happy that I brought a new pumpkin hat and booties for Baby Lila, our little pumpkin. 

It's Time To Be Grateful!

partake of
fall's juiciness,
it's succulent beauty,
and inspiring moods.
am grateful for
©CVarsalona, 2023, #smallpoem
I keep playing with words. Perhaps, I should blend thoughts into one poem.
feels crispy on
this sweater-weather,
scattered-leaf day.
Pops of pumpkin-colors
decorate landscapes.
I am in awe of
©CVarsalona, 2023, #smallpoem

I lingered over these poems long enough. I will join Two Writing Teachers for the weekly Slice of Life and enjoy reading friends' Slices of Life.

Sunday, October 15, 2023

Spooky Season Creative Challenges

It's time for the spooky season to rise from creative minds thanks to

Jone Rush MacCulloch and her Spooky Spectacular Found Poems

 original digital art by CVarsalona

Early this month, Jone sent an invitation to her found poem spectacular palooza, spooky version. Those interested needed to choose a favorite horror or scary book, poem, or story to read. I found a very weird short story, Ashes, by C. M. Eddy, Jr. with HP Lovecraft to get me in the mood to write. I also read a short newspaper clip about the strange Halloween storm that devastated Long Island, NY's beach areas and nearby inland towns. Perhaps you have heard of Superstorm Sandy and its after-effects. My family spent 14 days without hot water, heat, or electricity. Schools :were closed. Food was scarce. Old, huge trees crashed through homes and houses near the water were destroyed. It was a monster of a storm that led to the name "Frankenstorm".

Media Article

In the days leading up to Oct. 29, 2012, Long Islanders were warned of “a once-in-a-lifetime storm” hurtling toward the Northeast. It was called “Frankenstorm” for both its timing right before Halloween and the mash up of weather elements expected to worsen its impact. People were urged to prepare for punishing rain and high winds as well as flooding made worse by the full moon.

Sandy made landfall in New Jersey around 8 p.m. on Monday, Oct. 29. That morning, Long Islanders awoke to states of emergency already declared in most Long Island towns, 100 people already in Red Cross shelters, and 400 members of the National Guard activated...

   Bewildered Befuddled!  

By Frankenstorm

    Truth Be Told  

 Horror wrought! 
Frackenstorm strikes.  
  Full moon effects unfold. 
 Halloween mashup of 
 Howling winds and 
 Unprecedented, punishing rains 
 Haunt the region in a 
  Path of destruction. 
 ©CVarsalona, 2023

Listen to the lyrics of  Nature's Way  by Spirit.

I'm returning back to a list of words that piqued my interest for the macabre from the short story, Ashes. The Poetry Princesses have a new challenge, Bouts-rimes, which in French means "rhymed ends".  I am modifying the poetry challenge to work solo rather than with a partner. I chose a set of  words from the short story and added 7 rhyming words to attempt to write a poem around the gruesome tale. The words chosen are: chill, devilish, will, wish, frantic, ashes, panic, rashes, horror, tortured, disorder, cornered, terror. I infused the Poetry Sisters' 2023 theme of Transformation into my digital  to illustrate what happens when my inner Halloween love turns me from a human into a gothic character. Now, I am debating what I shall wear to the Halloween costume party.
Before I create a new costume for the Halloween party, I am joining the Poetry Friday community for more poetic fun. Carol Labuzzetta is our host this week at The Apples In My Orchard. As an enviromental educational specialist she is sharing information on bats. Did you know that "We need bats! They are important to us for insect control and pollination of several popular like bananas. Carol also offers a final invitation to join her Ekphrastic Nature Poetry Anthology filled with poetry goodness. It is going to be frantastic.

Friday, October 13, 2023

Welcome to "Destination: Summer's End" Gallery

Enjoy a stroll through the museum-like gallery of artistic expressions comprised of image poems (ekphrastic poetry) in different formats of digital designs.

The theme chosen for the Summer 2023 gallery is Summer's End. 
Travel throughout the United States from east to west and on to Australia to see the endless beauty of the summer season as it closes and falls into autumn. 
A range of poetic voices from adults to children splash across the page at the Destination: Summer's End Padlet here.
From there be dazzled by the gallery 2:48 minute slideshow designed in Canva. Click here.

A stream of the Destination: Summer's End playlist music will be a backdrop for the gallery walk. Listen here.

As you enjoy the gallery walk, reflect on your summer adventures that brought carefree days of relaxation and renewal. While we shall miss the the days of lounging at the beach, hiking in the woods, or traveling with the family, we can hold on to our sweet memories of summer "as summer gathers up her robes of glory, and, like a dream glides away."-Sarah Helen Whitman

Thank you for joining the gallery experience that connects two seasons as summer's sun greets autumn's cooler breezes and autumn leaves.
As William Shakespeare said centuries ago:
Summer's lease hath all too short a date.


Thank you to the poetic voices who added their beautiful words to this gallery.

Linda Baie
Robyn Hood Black
Matt Forrest Esenwine
Karen Elise Finch
Patricia Franz
Bob Hamera (arjeha)
Jane Heitman Healy
Molly Hogan
Michelle Kogan
Sally Murphy
Anastasia Suen
Janice Scully 
Carol Varsalona
Student Voice from Margaret Simon's gifted classes in Louisiana
John-Rober, Adelyn, and James

Adieu Summer!
into the wind
summer goes
without a worry
without a woe
Then, curtsies
to fall and all
©CVarsalona, 2023, quick write draft
photo of the LA sunset by Devin Hartnett

And so, Summer may be over but it is not forgotten.
There shall be eternal summer in the grateful heart.
-Celia Thaxter

For another poetic experience, travel with me to the Poetry Friday Roundup. Our host, Catherine Flynn, is ahring her thoughts on Irene Latham's new book filled with poetry, The Museum on the Moon: Curious Objects on the Lunar Surface and an original poem(You can read my book review of this amazing book here.)

Friday, October 6, 2023

Search, Observe, Praise Autumnal Moments

Yesterday, I wrote a post, Gathering Gladness, about how I cultivate and share gladness. The Spiritual Journey host for this month, Ramona Behnke, poses the topic and offers a series of nature photographs as examples of how she gathers gladness. I enjoy searching for beautiful quotes on nature. Ralph Waldo Emerson noted, "Nature always wears the colors of the spirit". There is a spirit within us and a Spirit above that brings gladness if we pause to explore and observe the beauty of the seasons. Yesterday, I pondered this and tried to write a Golden Shovel poem using Emerson's quote but I could not pen a poem that flowed. Ramona's photo became a prompt for the exploration of my feelings.

Gathering Gladness During Autumn
I observe Nature,
Earth's jewel that always
sparkles with delight. Today, she wears
sweeping garments from the
2023 fall collection of colors 
 that have a hint of
summer gladness.  I pause to let the
world slow down so I can enjoy life and let go with spirit.
CVarsalona, 2023, poem
Ramona Behnke, 2023, photo

As I watch seasonal transitions, I recall reading that that nature's cycles are mirrored in our lives. Autumn is life's time to pause and let go of worries or tasks so a glad heart can take in the beauty surrounding us. This weekend I shall be in the moment searching, observing, and praising Autumn's presence. 


Today is Poetry Friday and poet and children's writer Matt Forrest Esenwine is celebrating the #BookBirthday of his newest book by taking a look back at its conception. Congratulations, Matt. I am full of gladness that I have the opportunity to writie a book review of The Thing to Remember about Stargazing published byTilbury House and illustrated by award-winning Italian artist, Sonia Maria Luce Possentini.

Stay Tuned for My Review of:

Thursday, October 5, 2023

Gathering Gladness

Today, the Spiritual Journey community gives thought to a question posed by our host, Ramona Behnke. How do you gather and share gladness? October is the right month to discuss this topic because it offers a pivotal time during  Fall. Summer ends but summertime vibes continue during the "second summer" days of October. Autumn paints the earth in golden brown adorned with russet and crimson hues. At times, she sends a soft breeze, fresh, scattered leaves, and warm temperatures to gather gladness for all to share. 

Here, in Virginia, October brings second summer and sweater weather for nature walks and apple and pumpkin picking. Grandchildren dance on haystacks, chase leaves, and soak in the radiance of sun-kissed sunrises and blazing sunsets. Within these activities, I cultivate gladness by sharing the joy of the outdoors with my family. When the day darkens during the evening time, I spend time writing, another joyful experience. There is usually a hush in the air that makes me smile as I softly hit the keyboard to compose. I open my heart and drink in the beauty of October.

nature streaks the sky 
in crayola-layered hues
watchful eyes gather
CVarsalona, 2023, Northern Virginia

During Autumn, I gladly search for calming sights that nurture the mind, body, and soul! I observe the changing landscape and the brilliant sky. I praise Nature for following the hand of the Spirit when creating this magnificent season. As Ralph Waldo Emerson stated decades ago, "Nature always wears the colors of the spirit". My one word, BE, beckons me to choose gladness this month as a focal point. I agree with Anne of Green Gables-"I'm so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers."

Do you enjoy the month of October as much as I do?

My one word BE beckons me to choose gladness this month as a focal point. I shall soak in the beauty of nature as she continues to change the landscape.

Thank you friends:, for being together in the spirit and thank you, Ramona, for hosting and chosing this title.