Tuesday, July 27, 2021

#sol2021 July 27 Present

I watched her focus on her phone, perhaps texting, scrolling, scanning, emailing, as her toddler wandered around the area aimlessly picking up sticks and leaves and rocks.  He made no attempts to engage in labeling of found treasures or conversation.  I wondered if he had a language delay or perhaps he just knew she was busy/distracted. Perhaps she was the babysitter/nanny or perhaps she was the mom/daytime caregiver; I really don't know and it really does not matter.  Perhaps she was distracted with family issues or perhaps her job /school/business or perhaps the world of social media. She was there in the park on a beautiful afternoon, but she was not really present in that child's life at that moment. 

I'll never know how the scenario played out over time as eventually I continued on my journey. Trust me, I am in no position to judge others as I graded papers, responded to writing journals and sometimes grabbed bits of the daily paper during my own children's ball games. 

But, I've been thinking about her and that little one who might have benefitted from some interaction and discussion about his finds.  I've been thinking about the myriad of teachers, parents, and caregivers balancing the many, many intersecting identities we have every day.  It reminded me of the days when my own children's needs were great and I would have to leave my mommy hat in the car along with my concerns and worries in order to don my teacher hat and meet the needs of my students.  

It was also a reminder, to me, to be present, not just a presence, in the lives of the people around me.  Perhaps she was there as I needed that reminder.  Perhaps we all need that reminder from time to time.

Friday, July 23, 2021

21st Century Day Connecting

 I wonder if my parents and grandparents ever stopped to think about how their family tree would morph and change over time?  Could they have ever imagined that cousins might stay in touch through cyberspace and I-pads?

Folks in my grandparents times were not alone when they "left their families" overseas to start families with limited, at best, contact with relatives.  In fact, family times was most likely limited to weddings (occasionally), funerals (sometimes) and letters (via snail mail even in those days). 

In my parents era, that ubiquitous Christmas card letter was probably added to the wedding, funeral, and snail mail letter list of gatherings, along with occasional family gatherings made possible by cheap gas and family cars.

While life is no less busy now, the isolation of families over the past year has certainly heightened my own thoughts about gathering with my surviving siblings, cousins, and dear friends in real time.  While there is no substitute for human touch, I am grateful for the "gift" of living in the 21st Century: we can connect in almost real time in spite of distance and contraindications through email, texts, Instagram, Tik Tok, and now old fashioned forums, like this blog. 

So, here is an  "old fashioned" and heartfelt, early 21st Century-type, day-late-birthday wish for my cousin, who also happens to be one of my most loyal non-educational blog post fans!

Tuesday, June 29, 2021

#sol21 They're BACK!


I wrote earlier this month about the bird's nest that consumed my mother's day gift to myself to watching children fly from the nest. 

"Remember how you were a little sad when those baby birds all flew away? she asked and without waiting for an reply, she added, "they're back!" 

And sure enough, they're back, at least cousins of my recent sublets!

I've never spent so much time watching birds build their incredible nests in strange locations that somehow protect fragile eggs from wind, rain, and the baking sun.  It's amazing how they select their locations, create their masterpieces, and nurture their babies as they grow at a breakneck pace towards maturity.  

This time, the nest rests precariously in a non-working, full-on-rusting, lantern where I was planning on hanging another plant!  

Plans for that plant are on hold as I am "expecting" little birdies on the porch, once again. 

Wednesday, June 16, 2021

Status: Empty Nest

WAY back on May 25th, I posted on the SOL about my eggs, sitting happily in my lovely hanging planter.  Since then, lots has happened around here.  I'm teaching Grad School in what is lovingly referred to as "Summer Session I" and my days and nights are full of papers, responses and Slides.  It's two times a week for three hours for each class.  It's grueling and invigorating and inspiring and exhausting and powerful because it is intense!

Yet, here is the amazing thing about Mother Nature.  While I am busier than a 2-armed-paper-hanger in a post pandemic-fix-up-your-house-era, those eggs, all of them hatched and the baby birds learned to fly and then left me with an empty nest!  Seriously, we watched the flying practice for two days, on and off and then the nests were empty!  

The comparison to raising children is not lost on me as the days are long, yet the years fly by.  In less than a month, ALL of my baby birds are gone from the nest and off to make their fortune in the world.  

I could be sad or I could be melancholy; however, I am too busy right now to determine and confirm those emotions. 

 Much like Moms and Dads in their busy season of life (21+ years for humans; 21+days for birds) all I can do is acknowledge I frugally watered the plant and watched those fledglings until they were ready to move out on their own.  

Much like teachers everywhere and forever, I am busy guiding my students as they prepare to lead our schools and districts towards a future where everyone is a reader engaged in stimulating curricula.  The analogy to the birds is not lost to me; those students will too flee the nest and head off to make a difference in the lives of their students.  

The days are long; the weeks, for those of us who are enduring Summer I, are short.  

Tuesday, May 25, 2021

#sol21 May 25: Got Eggs?

On Mother's Day, I bought myself a hanging planter, a bit of an impulse purchase, as its red and purple flowers seemed to be a sign of hope after a long, hard year.  

When I took the planter off the hook last week, I was not expecting to find four tiny, speckled eggs nestled in a tiny nest!  I hurriedly put the plant back on the hook without watering it.  Later, I used a step stool to take a picture when the Momma headed out to feed.

"Just water it," someone said, "those eggs will never survive anyway."
"That's a crazy place to build a nest," someone else commented. 
" It's certainly not the brightest bird,

So, here I am, even though I was not a "bird watcher" in the past, watching nest and waiting for the arrival of tiny birds.
Here I am, more than a week later, watering my plant gingerly, when the mother flies off to feed, so as to not water the nest or disturb the eggs. 
Here I am, more than a week later, researching the kind of bird that would lay such a tiny speckled egg (not sure, maybe a finch?)
Here I am, waiting for my babies to be born. 
I guess that plant really was a sign of hope after a long year.  

Wednesday, May 19, 2021

To Mask or Not To Mask


I intended this to be a SOL post, but not published in time....
I am a rule follower, most of the time. I obey the speed limit (with the 5 mph variance) and I follow guidelines for drinking enough water and eating in a healthy manner. 

I will admit, however, that I do challenge rules when they go against facts and research.  For example, when a principal told everyone (K-3) to teach reading 3X week and writing 2X a week for  30 minutes, I did not follow that rule!   

So, when I read the CDC changes to mask wearing, I wanted to follow the rules. I wanted to ditch the mask that I find annoying even though children wear them without complaint all day long. I wanted to return to normal life as it was before Covid.   

Perhaps, my reluctance is that not too many weeks ago, I was burning the midnight oil trying to get a vaccine.  Perhaps, my reluctance is because I have not had a cold or virus in 15 months - and I am not alone!  Perhaps, my reluctance is because so many people are not vaccinated and they are everywhere!  Perhaps, the mask means I don't worry about make-up! Perhaps there is something allusive about this whole masking world where I can and do live behind it! 

I really want to visit, hug, and travel.  I really want to laugh, eat out, and swim in the pool.  I even want (and need) to take an exercise class.  I really want to go to Target, TJ Maxx and Home Goods.  I certainly need to buy new jeans, shirts, and, let's be honest. underwear!  

Yet, here I am, deciding to be a rule follower, or not to be a rule follower; to mask, or not to mask while the memories of the anti-maskers from a few months ago intermingle with my own wants, needs, and dislike for masks. Here I am, wondering about the socio-politcal roles and implications for decisions and rules. here I am, worried to my core for those who cannot vaccinate for health reasons and those who cannot vaccinate for trust or other issues.  Here I am, 15 months into this life altering pandemic, more unsure than ever as to who and what to believe. Here I am, hoping that personal and or political agendas are not factors in rules.

I think I know which direction my heart is headed; however, I may need a bit more time before I let the world see my smile! Or perhaps,  I may just follow the rules, and let it all hang out!

Tuesday, May 11, 2021

#sol21 May 11 Hoping For Strep?

Did you ever make an appointment to take a "sick" child to the doctor because they had a fever, had been miserable for a couple of days, had no appetite, had been lying listless on the couch....and then when you got to the doctor's office, the child perked up and seemed fine?  

I did, and most of the times, the child still ended up having strep or an ear infection; but, sometimes, we left with the news that it was mostly just a passing virus, but to watch them and return if it got worse.

So it is with my leak that has been coming and going and coming and going.  I thought it might be a "user interface" with the children who hang out here these days. Then, I thought someone had moved the water valve at the back.  There seems to be an intermittent leak at the bottom, in the front of my one year old "potty".  It seems to be clear water, or at least I want to hope it is clear water!  Yet, this morning, as the plumber is due to arrive any moment, the leak is not there!  

I'm hoping this is one of those "perked up at the doctor's moments" that will yield a "strep-like-potty-problem" rather than one of those watch it and let me know if it gets worse days! 


Tuesday, May 4, 2021

@sol21 May 4 Vaccination Rewards


I come from a family of "news junkies," as memories of my dad include his 24-7 CNN obsession while recovering from a broken neck and his up-till-the-end obsession with The Times.  

Admittedly, my first moments of each day are spent with the digital news as I prepare to face the day.  

During this Covid-era, I've "opened" the virtual Times daily to scan the numbers and cry for those lost, I've read about the politics of masks and treatments. I've read about the search for vaccines and the challenges of distribution. Today's news is a first and I actually had to do a quick Google search because I first thought it was a joke!  

Here in New Jersey, where people like me pulled all-nighters just a month ago in order to find a vaccine, they are now offering "rewards" for getting a vaccine!  To be honest, I think the real reward would be an end to this global siege that has claimed and paralyzed lives; however, here, you will also get an adult beverage as a "reward.  I am certain, my dad would have a chuckle over this news!  

Tuesday, April 27, 2021

#sol21 April 27: Every Day

Today is my brother's birthday
He is not here to celebrate
But, I will still acknowledge
The day he was born
He is on my mind
Every day.

This week, after a long wait,
These guys were here
To celebrate the intermingling
Of medicine and patience.
They are always on my mind
Every day.

This year, marked with sadness
Fueled by isolation and fear
Is a reminder to embrace,
To appreciate each day
As if it mattered
To acknowledge 
Those we think about
Every day.


Tuesday, April 20, 2021

#sol21 Against the Odds

It's been a long year
Confinement, isolation, remoteness,
Even as the landscape greens,
Even as the trees burst with color,
Even as the beans flower
Against the odds,
Inside my window.