Tuesday, April 30, 2024

Stay in the Now

Burgeoning signs of spring cuddle the earth in warmth. Morning begins its ritual of awakening. A bluish, spring sky and its cottony puffballs of clouds float on by.  Time moves quickly so I pause to breathe in the essence of springtime. 

spring morning unfolds
blossoms drink in life's essence
stay in the now
©CVarsalona, 2024, haibun 
It's time to slowdown and stay in the now
as fellow slicer friend, Terje Akke from Estonia, would say. 
Small treasures from Estonia
Nature Photo by Terje Akke

On this last day of National Poetry Month, I will continue to watch the blossoms in my garden and on my Poetry Parade Padlet bloom. The above photo and the combined image poem below will be showcased on the padlet and be part of my new gallery of artistic expressions. Please add your offerings.

May spring's sunlit day and seasonal rains allow your garden to burgeon with joy.

 I now join the Tuesday Slice of Life at Two Writing Teachers, a meeting place for reflective writers.

Friday, April 26, 2024

Oskar's Voyage Anchors Here!

Have you heard about Laura Purdie Salas' new book for children? Pause for a moment because Oskar's Voyage anchors here! 

This book is illustrated by Kayla Harren whose beautiful artwork showcases a tiny chipmunk on a voyage he did not intend to take. Minnesota Historical Society Press published the book.

My introduction to this charming book for children started on March 11, 2024, with a Zoom session co-presented by the author and illustrator. I enjoyed the get-together filled with an enthusiastic reveal of the book for educators and students. Days later, I introduced my almost 7-year-old, 1st-grade grandgirl to discuss the storyline. While opening the book, Sierra found a map of "Oskar's unexpected journey". She was intrigued and delighted to discover the next pages with a note for her from my creative author/poet friend, Laura Purdie Salas.

What else would delight a young reader to read the book out loud? Within the pages, we found an oak tree resplendent in autumn colors, food boxes piled high in wobbly stacks, and a gleeful Oskar sitting in the middle of bright red tomatoes. The book continued with a voyage that turned into an adventure. Illustrations of the cargo ship hoisting large freight onboard showed the heavy-duty work of a cargo ship. Sierra was knowledgeable about large cruise ships because she traveled with the family on a Disney ship but was unfamiliar with a huge freighter that crossed three Great Lakes. Many children don't have experiences that Laura writes about in her book. Building content knowledge is a reading strategy for children who wish to become excellent readers and writers.

Sierra continued to fluently read lines with different placements of words. She enjoyed words that rhymed and loved watching the little chipmunk scurry around the deck darting and doving into hiding places. There are more fun adventures for Oskar on the freighter and even mischief happening in places like the pantry. What's a tiny chipmunk to do all alone on a big ship?  

The book has a wonderful storyline with strong action verbs, onomatopoeia, alliteration, and rhyming words. Parents and elementary children would enjoy this book. In addition, the storyline is suspenseful with an adorable animal as the main character so older children might also enjoy Oskar's Voyage.

Will Oscar survive the trip?
What do you think?
Look at the illustration above and make your prediction.


I love to read. Other children will enjoy reading this book, too.
 Thank you, Miss Laura, for the book, the note, and the bookmarks. 
Teaser for Oskar's Voyage

An adventurous storyteller
and a creative artist
follow an unexpected voyager
on a heavy-duty freighter.
What happens while sailing on the Great Lakes
is a frolicking tale of mischief, worry,
and longing to refind home.
©CVarsalona, 2024  
Resources for Teachers

Laura Purdie Salas offers resource pages at the end of her book. There are fun facts, cargo ship lingo, author's notes, acknowledgment, and resources. The back page discusses the M/V Paul R. Tregurtha, a real thousand-footer. In 2019 Laura and her husband, Randy, spent more than a week sailing on this amazing freighter known as the Queen of Lake. This distinction notes that the ship is the longest boat sailing on the Great Lakes. You can also find additional resources for the book on Laura's blog.

"Oskar's Voyage grew out of my explorations aboard the Tregurtha."  
Kudos to Laura for pursuing her dream of sailing on a freighter.

News Flash: Laura Purdie Salas added 4 image poems
to my NPM project on Poetry Parade Padlet.
You can read them here and add your own image poem(s) to the padlet.

Today's Poetry Friday Roundup is on Ruth Hersey's blog,
There is No Such Thing as a God-forsaken Town.

Photo by Ruth Hersey
Port-au-Prince, 12/2020

Ruth still dreams of Haiti, her home for many years while teaching there.
Her dreams are darkened by chaos in the streets.
The last line of her poem brings the reality of Haiti's situation. 

"Often when I dream about my country I wake up with tears in my eyes."

Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Celebrating Earth Day 2024

With ups and downs in weather, Spring, the season of rebirth, broke out afresh after being quiescent throughout the winter months. Nature welcomed spring rains that brought verdant landscapes and blossoming flowers. Even the calendar has celebrated springtime each year on April 22nd. Since 1970, billions of people across the globe have celebrated Earth Day, an annual event to support the cause of environmental protection. 

This year's Earth Day theme is "Planet vs. Plastics". It is a theme that has been wrestled with for years. According to earthday.org, the goal this year is "to reduce the production of plastics by 60% in 2040 and ultimately build a plastic-free future". Our children deserve a better world and so does our planet. As residents of the earth, we are its stewards. This year's initiative strives to rid the earth of plastics "for the sake of human and planetary health." Many educators have created lessons and events to honor the earth by bringing the message of stewardship to their students. The artwork below is the 2024 NASA Earth Day poster that can be visible in classrooms.  "It is composed with real satellite imagery from NASA's Terra, Aqua, and Landsat missions." 

In 2019, a 32-foot, 2500-pound hand-crafted metal sculpture was installed at Jones Beach on Long Island, NY. Jonesy the Whale has its own Twitter (X) account. I remember when it was first installed. Recycled plastic bottles were stuffed inside to remind us of our civic duty to protect our world.

You can see the YouTube video, The Story of Jonesy the Humpback Whale Jones Beach, Long Island here.


springtime spills over in abundance - we are stewards of the earth
observe the verdant landscape and smell fragrant buds blossoming
pause, breathe in winds of change needed for future generations 
©CVarsalona, 2024, sijo poem

Slice of Life Thought for the Day After Earth Day:
"Plastic pollution-free world is not a choice but a commitment to life - a commitment to the next generation- Amit Ray

Please consider offering one image poem, photography, or inspirational quote on springtime or Earth Day for my

Padlet and later Gallery of Artistic Expressions.

Students' work is welcomed.

Three more image poems by Tricia Stohr-Hunt, Linda Baie, and Bridget Magee have been added. 

Thank you Two Writing Teachers for the space to add my slice of life.

Friday, April 19, 2024

Spring Blossoms

This morning, sunlight streamed into my bedroom. I felt the need to stretch before waking so I started to move with flow, as we do in yoga class. I reflected on my baby grandgirl's adorable manner of pandiculation when she wakes from slumber. I thought of birds stretching their wings to dive into my neighbor's feeder. Nature awakened the earth.

As I opened the door, I smelled the freshness of a spring day. Tiny purple petals on my tree surprised me and white buds on my bush squeezed forward in little pockets of joy. No matter where I looked there were signs of spring's rebirth. I soaked in the efflorescence of my flowering trees and welcomed nature's springtime celebration.

Nature Celebrates Springtime

efforescence blooms
sprout open
adorning a quiet community of nestled homes
flowering trees sing praise to nature's palette
sky blue
marshmallowed clouds
awaken earth
©CVarsalona, 2024

Digital art photo + Trinet poem format = Image Poem
for the Poetry Parade Padlet - Click here to view the padlet.

Please consider offering one image poem of 
for my 2024 National Poetry Month Project
Padlet and Gallery of Artistic Expressions
like Diane Anderson did this week.

It is now time to join the environmentalist poet, Heidi Mordhorst for Poetry Friday at her blog, my juicy little universe. Thank you for hosting Heidi and bringing the topic of diversity, unity wonder, and belief to us this week.

Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Invitation to Write Breathings of Your Heart

It is National Poetry Month and I, like many friends, am writing poetry from the heart. Renowned poet, William Wordsworth stated: "Fill your paper with the breathings of your heart," reminding me to let my mind and spirit fill the page with heart-felt thoughts. 

This month's annual Poetry Friday community project, the Progressive Poem, organized by slicer Margaret Simonis centered around a no-choice-need-to-escape from a child's perspective. Are you intrigued?  In this story poem, you will see examples of writers breathing life into their couplets. Each set of couplets is written by a different writer. It is filled with imagery, emotion, and hope so far. When writing Day 14's couple, I reflected on my experience as a reading specialist and districtwide administrator who listened to poignant stories from children. The narratives were full of struggles, hardships, and in many cases flight from their homelands. The children told their stories in person and/or on paper. The Progressive Poem is filled with imagery, emotion, and hope from the eyes of a child. You can read the story unfolding here and continue to read new lines each day until the end of the month.

I enjoy creating galleries of artistic expressions and showcasing the writing of others along with mine. Please accept my invitation as slicers arjeha and Denise Krebs have done. Their work is on the Poetry Parad Padlet. Click here.

Please consider offering one image poem (see arjeha's below)

I'm off to join Two Writing Teachers Tuesday Slice of Life, a reflective community of worldwide writers. 

Sunday, April 14, 2024

Traveling Progressive Poem

The Progressive Poem has traveled for 13 days this month. It is my turn to add lines to the community poem that is a journey of courage. Reading through Days 1 through 13, I am reminded of a poignant story told by one of my elementary students years ago. Amid civil unrest in El Salvador, the child and his siblings left their homeland to move to Long Island. 

Join me as I integrate the student's story into my lines for Day 14. I also added the art of Juan Lopez-Bautista's Border Stories presented at the Sella-Granata Art Gallery, Woods Hall, UA campus (October-November 2021). Be sure to click here and here to view the full exhibition that touched my heart. 

cradled in stars, our planet sleeps,
clinging to tender dreams of peace
sister moon watches from afar,
 singing lunar lullabies of hope.

almost dawn, I walk with others,
keeping close, my little brother.
hand in hand, we carry courage
escaping closer to the border.

My feet are lightning;
My heart is thunder.
Our pace draws us closer
to a new land of wonder.

I hum my own little song
like ripples in a stream
Humming Mami's lullaby 
reminds me I have her letter

My fingers linger on well-worn creases,
shielding an address, a name, a promise-
Sister Moon will find always us
surrounding us with beams of kindness

But last night, as we rested in the dusty field,
worries crept in about matters back home.

Day 14
I huddled close to my brother. Tears revealed
the no-choice need to escape. I feel grown. 


Juan Baptiste Lopez from "Border Stores"
at the Sella-Granata Art Gallery

I pass on the torch of writing to Rose Cappelli at Imagine the Possibilities.

The Kidlithosphere Progressive Poem was started in 2012 by Irene Latham as a way to celebrate National Poetry Month as a community of writers. In 2020, Margaret Simon became the organizer of the Progressive Poem. Margaret created the above gorgeous graphic for the 2024 Progressive Poem .

Meet the writing team creators of the community Progressive Poem 2024. 

April 1 Patricia Franz at Reverie
April 2 JJone MacCulloch
April 3 Janice Scully at Salt City Vers
April 4 Leigh Anne Eck at A Day in the Life
April 5 Irene at Live Your Poem
April 6 Margaret at Reflections on the Techee
April 7 Marcie Atkins
April 8 Ruth at There is No Such Thing as a God Forsaken Town
April 9 Karen Eastlund
April 10 Linda Baie at Teacher Dance
April 11 Buffy Silverman
April 12 Linda Mitchell at A Word Edgewise
April 13 Denise Krebs at Dare to Care
April 14 Carol Varsalona at Beyond LiteracyLink
April 15 Rose Cappelli at Imagine the Possibilities
April 16 Sarah Grace Tuttle
April 17 Heidi Mordhorst at my juicy little universe
April 18 Tabatha at Opposite of Indifference
April 19 Catherine Flynn at Reading to the Core
April 20 Tricia Stohr-Hunt at The Miss Rumphius Effect
April 21 Janet, hosted here at Reflections on the Teche
April 22 Mary Lee Hahn at A(nother) Year of Reading
April 23 Tanita Davis at (fiction, instead of lies)
April 24 Molly Hogan at Nix the Comfort Zone
April 25 Joanne Emery at Word Dancer
April 26 Karin Fisher-Golton at Still in Awe
April 27 Donna Smith at Mainely Write
April 28 Dave at Leap of Dave
April 29 Robyn Hood Black at Life on the Deckle Edge
April 30 Michelle Kogan at More Art for All
I hope more of my poetry friends, plus writers, bloggers, artists, photographers, and friends join in the Poetry Parade. The Poetry Parade Padlet is available for your artistic expressions. Laura Purdie Salas and Denise Krebs added their image poems to the gallery.

Friday, April 12, 2024

Life Awakens in Spring

It's springtime in Virginia, a time to celebrate nature's transition to warmer weather and the burst of cherry blossom trees. In between sunshine moments, gray April showers sprinkle crystalline drops as nature takes center stage There are many reasons to celebrate springtime. For Poetry Friday nature lovers, poetry love is in the air. It swooshes across the open sky, echoes nature sounds, and opens hearts to the beauty of a spring day that quietly whispers in the wind. 
Morning Springs Open
morning light
streams in
unfolding spring's verdant palette of green
hidden buds buried in earthen soil sprout
breathe in
nature's perfume
peace surrounds
©CVarsalona, 2024, trinet poem

Are you ready to sing praises for a spring morning?
I invite you to be creative.
Snap a spring photo that speaks to you.
Write a poem and mesh the two together.

JOIN ME at The
Padlet, the container for my next
Poetry Parade Gallery of Artistic Expressions

Thank you, Denise Krebs, for being the first colleague to add your spring image poem to the Poetry Parade Padlet.


I am now ready to join the Poetry Friday Roundup with this week's Poetry Friday host, poet-educator friend Jone Rush MacCulloch. She is sharing a fabulous interview with Carol Labuzzetta, the publisher of a new anthology, Picture Perfect Poetry: An Anthology of Ekphrastic Nature Poetry for Students. I am honored to have several poems and a nature photo in Carol Labuzzetta's book.

Wednesday, April 10, 2024

Solar Eclipse 2024

Parts of North America silently waited for nature's moments of totality. on April 8, 2024. News stations aired programs. Libraries distributed solar eyeglasses. People huddled in parks, yards, and special event areas to watch a spectacular sight, the moon passing between Earth and the sun. News stations captured the event minute by minute as the moon blocked the view of the sun. We watched ABC News coverage. Each area from Mexico to Maine shared their 4 minutes of totality as the sun darkened the sky followed by sunlight. 

My son, husband, and I moved between the news and our backyard as we waited for the event. Then, the sky clouded. What would we see? My son asked Siri, "What time will the eclipse occur here in Northern Virginia? Much to his surprise, we would only see a partial eclipse. Regardless, I decided to capture the event even without solar glasses. How did I do this? I cleverly moved my iPhone toward the sky but did not face the sky. I started clicking my iPhone camera. Click! Then, I remembered the Pink Floyd song, Total Eclipse of the Sun, that my husband likes. You can listen to it below and then read my trinet poem introduced to me by the Australian poet, Alan J. Wright during a Poetry Friday Roundup. This poem has seven lines and lines three and four have six words in each line. All the other lines have two words per line. The trinet has no restrictions for rhyme, subject, or syllable. 

Total Eclipse of the Sun

The above photo was captured while watching the sky, shapeshift. Can you see the yellow light around a black object in the middle of the photo? Shortly after I took the photo, the sky became more gray in color and the weather became cooler. What a surprise! I came inside to watch ABC's coverage of the awesome totality moments-solar eclipse in New York State. I can imagine how fabulous it was to be there. 
Please consider offering one image poem of
for my 2024 National Poetry Month Project
See more information on my new Gallery of Artistic Expressions and take a peek at my Poetry Parade Padlet. which will showcase my poems and other artistic expressions by writers, poets, and others.

I offer this Slice of Life to Two Writing Teachers. with gratitude for accepting my slice late.