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.

Tuesday, April 13, 2021

#sol21 Muddy Puddles

A picture would save words here, but I was too mesmerized to get one.

"Watch this," he said proudly as he ran full speed towards the edge of the yard, laughing and waving his arms.  I watched proudly, but not sure where the run was ending or what was happening, but sure the excitement was high on this unseasonably warm afternoon. 

 "Ahhhhh," he crooned as he landed, slip and slide style in a brown, mud puddle that had already seen many, many landings that afternoon. "It's a mud pit for pigs," he added proudly. "I made it myself," he offered emerging covered in mud after writhing in the soft, gooey pit for just a minute and preparing to do the run all over again. "This is so fun," he smiled, covered with mud.  

I smiled, grateful for parents who realize the power of creative backyard play, muddy puddles,  and soapy water.  

Sunday, April 11, 2021

Two Vowels Did NOT Go For a Walk

I recently heard a teacher say, "When two vowels go walking, the first one does the talking." I stifled my sigh, I think; but, not my sadness that this old teacher tale was still being offered as a way to approach unfamiliar words. 

So, I did a quick Google search and found the myth was all over the internet! I wanted to cry!


There are many studies that disprove this myth.  Incredibly, it's only about 36-42% of vowel teams in common words that follow that "rule" depending on which collection of common or frequently found words you use.

A few vowel teams do follow that pattern most of the time: ay (way), ee (green), oa (coat), oi (coin) and oy (boy).

The rest of the teams that do not follow the old tale! 

The vowel team ea can say e its name as in eat, its sound as in bread, or the long sound of a as in great. 
The vowel team oo can say oo as in cool or oo as in good.
The vowel team ew can make the sound in few or in sew.
The vowel team ey can make the sound in money or in they.
The ie team can say thief or lie.
The au team can  make the sound in fault or in laugh.
The ou team can say pouch, boulder, couple, should, or cougar. 
The ei team can say receive, forfeit, or vein
The ai team can say rain, plaid, aisle. or said.

This does not mean we do not teach vowel teams; rather, it means we teach the strategic patterns such as, ai is usually in the middle of a word and ay usually is at the end!  Perhaps I need to make tee shirts that say two vowels did not go for a walk! 

Friday, April 9, 2021

Hard Memories

It was a picture that "popped into" my feed as "you have memories;" yet, it churned up a whole pile of memories, some hard! 

That fall, I was exhausted trying to balance the challenges of cuddling two brand-new miracles, in two different cities and supporting their parents, navigating new-parenthood. 

My mother was still living at home, with heaps of support, and a palliative care plan.  There were more bad days than better days.

It had been just a few months since my decades-long-marriage ended abruptly sending me into an era of living in my car, juggling decisions, and visioning a cloudy future. 

It had been months of talking to no one, other than my therapist, and doing nothing, other than driving from one site needing-wanting my time and energy to another.

There had been many days when I did not eat (other than energy bars and coffee from Mobile on the Run) as I fueled my car before heading to school.

Then, after a long illness, after years of waiting to join my dad, my mother died. 

In the days that followed, I cleaned and organized the contents of her condo taking a few pictures to share with nieces and nephews so they could  take and make their own memories.    

To be honest, I think I my emotions vacillated between empty and relieved as I tried to capture photo images, late at night.  Facing a cloudy future, I took nothing, not even that family tree with roots in the 1800s.  

Yet, this morning, as I stared at photo on my phone, I saw, for the first time, the light on the picture.  
Clearly, there was a message in that memory: Even in the hardest of times, there is light if you stop to notice it.  

Tuesday, April 6, 2021

sol21 Concrete Messages


 Not far from my window
Fresh messages appeared,
As if I needed to be reminded
To smile,
To notice sunshine,
To be kind,
To eat ice cream.
In all honesty,
Holidays can be hard
Trying to celebrate life
Remembering loss,
Still trying to navigate
Vaccines, masks, new variants. 
Many others stopped,
Noticing, thinking, smiling.
In all honesty,
I needed all those messages,
Well, not to eat ice cream!

Wednesday, March 31, 2021

#sol22 March 31 The Challenge

Thank you Two Writing Teachers
For creating this wonderful community
And for hosting this massive SOL Challenge. 

"You should keep writing every day," she said casually, as if she was noting I should take a shower every day because it was good for others!  

"It's a lot of pressure," I volunteered, "every year I wonder if I can possibly add this to my list and consider not dong the SOL. Then, every year I marvel when I do it. . It is a reminder that the more you write the easier it is to write."

At the finish line of this year's marathon, I am thinking about all the routines of life, commuting, cleaning, cooking, laundry, exercising and eating healthy.  All of them are easier when you just do them every day and keep your momentum going.

Yet, that is the challenge, to keep your eye and mind focused on what is important. To keep yourself from the distractions of reality TV, the last chapter, and a gooey snack. 

It's a challenge every year, but I plan to return on Tuesdays while I wait for next March.

Thank you to all who stopped by
Taking a moment to read, reflect,
Shared a kind word,
It is true that comments fuel

Tuesday, March 30, 2021

#sol21 March 30 Spring Break


This month, I am noticing and reflecting,
Writing daily as part of the Two Writing Teachers' Challenge

Spring Break Reflections: Through the Years

Spring Break circa 1961 Windows were open and the sounds of neighborhood kids waffled into to the bedroom where I was holed up with itchy, scratchy, chicken pox. 

Spring Break circa 1970 Protests and passionate discussions along with gunfire in Ohio closed college campuses as I yearned to be on a college campus. 

Spring Break circa 1985 Spring Break was cancelled due to the debacle of cleaning up asbestos during the Winter Break!  

Spring Break circa 1990 My children were back at school, so I cleaned, raked, and (shh,...relaxed) as they had been off the earlier. I was exhausted, though, after trying to manage their different break! 

Spring Break circa 1999  "Baseball every single day of this vacation?" I asked in disbelief of the schedule in front of me. 

Spring Break circa 2006 We hiked for hours through the still soggy woods in incredible spring sunshine that filled our hearts and souls with hope and light in spite of sadness.  At the top of the mountain, we saw sat in awe of nature.

Spring Break circa 2010 Spring break was cancelled because of too many snow days.  Those who were lucky enough to have nonrefundable tickets went away, the rest of us were stuck in school. 

Spring Break circa 2012 We made cupcakes and had tea parties with tiny china tea cups. Then we did arts and crafts til' we crashed, the girls and I both! We never left the house. 

Spring Break circa 2020 We never left home as the fear of the rapidly spreading virus consumed our thoughts and movements.

Spring Break circa 2021 Older and wiser, I reflect that this is not a big get away week for me and I realize it is really only students and teachers who get a Spring Break.  Thus, I feel a bit guilty complaining that totally online classes do not take a break!  Sigh, but shhh..I am....

Monday, March 29, 2021

#sol21 March 29 Great British Bump Off

Before we started,
I needed to find the link
Buried in a sea of texts and emails. 
"Was I supposed to download something?"
"Do we have to bake something?"
Others began roll playing right away.
It seemed as if they had done this before!
I scanned the directions,
Tried to understand my character,
Made a cup of tea.

Oops, timed out of Zoom.
Resend, restart,
Change my screen name
Introduce ourselves, 
I became Cia Batta, 
Self-centered opera singer.

One donned a hat,
No other costumes,
No sets, no props,
No cake, no rolls,
A virtual, for sure
 Baking competition
Murder investigation.

A socially distanced family celebration,
Aunties, uncles,
Cousins, second cousins,
A birthday from afar
2020-2021 style. 

Sunday, March 28, 2021

#sol 21 March 28 Perspective

Thank you to the Team at Two Writing Teachers
For hosting this writing challenge.

I squeezed out the last drops of Trader Joe's shower gel,
Lingering in the steam with my thoughts.
I used the curling brush, taming frizzy ends
Adding smoother to my locks,
I picked an outfit, carefully, 
Layering a matched sweater
I selected earrings, 
Used blush, mascara,
Hoping I looked 
As excited as I felt. 

Today is a special day,
From my perspective.
Filled with hope and potential,
Hugs and visits,
It's Vaccination Day!

Saturday, March 27, 2021

#sol21 March 27 His Story


This month, I am writing daily
Two Writing Teachers' SOL Challenge

We see each other, 
Almost daily from afar,
People of a certain age,
Donning ear pods, windbreakers,
Walking as if our lives depended on it,
While so many others run by,
Just before sunrise.

I've long wondered
About his story.
Where does he live?
Is he walking before he spends
Too many hours watching television?
Is he walking to manage stress?
Is he walking to keep off pounds?
Is he walking to keep up with grandchildren?
Is his wife still asleep?
Does his wife relish the break when he walks?
Is he recovering from a heart attack?
Is he a former runner with a knee injury?
Clearly, I've written his story
In my mind.

I've long wondered
If he wonders about
My story?

Friday, March 26, 2021

#sol21 March 26 Where do you find books?


This month, I'm writing
Thanks to the TWT Challenge 

In the evening, I make a bit pot of (caffeinated) tea, start up the Zoom, and welcome grad students to share strategies for supporting struggling readers and writers.  I stay logged in after class to answer a myriad of questions about students and managing teaching/learning in these challenging times.  Sometimes, they just want to share a mute-unmute story and sometimes they have stories  and questions that break my heart. Sometimes, all I can do is to listen and encourage.

"I want to get all those mentor texts you show and I want to put books in the hands of all my students like you suggest.  But, where do I find all those high interest, just right and engaging books," she asked. 

It was late, after 10, as I looked around my house, filled with books for grandchildren and began talking about book resources to a newbie teacher in a high needs, city school district. 

Meanwhile, I thought about:
  • All those books I have purchased over the years..
  • All those freebies from conferences..,
  • All those yard sales over the years...
  • All those family and friends who donated books...
  • All those Scholastic book sales....
  • All those bookstores,,,,
  • All those Amazon orders...
  • All those former students and families who shared outgrown books...
  • All those books I made because I did not have the right book..
  • All those books sitting in the back of classrooms, forgotten..
  • All those books sitting unused in crowded bookrooms and storage rooms..
  • All those books books sitting unused right now but saved by teachers, just in case their grade changed...
  • All those teachers, like my friend, who shared her collection (after retirement).  Some are in my living room, but most were passed to newbie teachers and their students. 
  • All those underused books lying around....just waiting....
  • All those teachers wanting/needing books and how to create a distribution system....
  • All those underused books resources needed a distribution plan.....books belong with readers!  

Thursday, March 25, 2021

#sol21 March 25 Becoming a Writer

It was a perfect spring morning,
I was sure we needed fresh air,
She grabbed a notebook, pencil,
Headed outside to explore, notice,
Experiment with
Letters, sounds,
The power of words
To convey ideas. 
Like this spring, 
It's new
Filled with potential.

"This is what we will eat in the wilderness,"
She giggled as she shared her list,

A stick,
A rock covered with dirt,
A dirt salad,
A rock covered with moss
A rock

Wednesday, March 24, 2021

#sol21 March 24 A Different Duckling

I took a deep breath when he pulled the old book from my bookshelf where I had decided it needed to rest. For a few years, I've tried to focus on stories that do not have characters bullying unless I am specifically focusing on the impact of belittling or the power of kindness. Yet, I do I know the power of finding a "new" to you book in a bookcase.

"That's not nice," he cried as I read about the other animals teasing THE ugly duckling (from the classic tale)

"How about we call him different," I offered already sensitive to the words of the classic story.  That's why I had shelved it, I thought to myself, changing the story as I went.  

I was proud that a preschooler was thinking about using kind words; however, I was thinking about whether it is better to share these old classics under the lens of how words can hurt OR is it better to just focus on books that show the kindness we want our students to embrace.  

I'm not sure of the answer, but for now, the book is off the shelf and will be renamed, The Different Duckling.  It will be in the rotation along with a host of books that show the diversity and kindness of  physically, racially, culturally, socially, economically, or politically diverse people. 

Tuesday, March 23, 2021

#sol21 What Was I Thinking?


It took me five weeks to assemble a Little Tikes Cozy Coupe, a tiny little red and yellow classic that will forever be a reminder to rethink any Little Tikes assembly project. In the end, I recruited the parents of the intended user. To be honest, the web site and discussion boards say the problem is an old design that does not exist in any other products. I'll never know. I now look for such items by the side of the road and rehab them.
It took me 6 months to assemble a gas grill which I ordered after I could not figure a way to bring home an already assembled grill in my compact car. To be honest, I put the project on the back burner for 5 months after growing frustrated. In the end, I got everything assembled and have a wonderful grill. I should have taken the stress of that project as a sign to just pay whatever it costs for delivery.

I have been wanting to rent a power washer for several years to rid the patio of moss and dirt, but again, I cannot fit one in my car. So, with the pandemic looming and the thought of more days at home this spring/summer, I ordered one.  It came quickly arriving with a giant thud on the porch as I finished my grading.  The sight of the box filled with a million pieces and untold hours of stress brought back all the old memories of assembly.  Then, I tried to lift it and I cannot!  What was I thinking? 

So here is sits. How long do you think this will take? 


Monday, March 22, 2021

#sol21 March 22 Not Just a Statistic


A friend,
Kind, in word and deed,
Generous, in nature and being,
So many shared memories,
Adventures, birthdays, school,
In recent years, 
We gathered rarely,
Yet, our stories were 
Intertwined by our children
Life choices.

A wife, mother, grandmother,
An aunt, cousin, friend.
An immeasurable loss,

Not just a statistic,
In the tally of losses.
Each one, someone's 

Sunday, March 21, 2021

#sol21 March 21 Closer to Normal


They took a few trucks from the garage
Slowly, lovingly, they drove them through the muddy garden,
I wonder if deep inside, they were remembering the last time.

They took the aging tractor out for a spin, or two or three,
Peddling with gusto as if they were on a mission,
I wonder if they were remembering Sundays before quarantine. 

They took out the soccer balls and the basketballs,
We practiced shooting and dribbling,
I wonder if they were thinking how much stronger they were
After a year.

They ran and played and laughed and were giddy,
Even though we stayed outside and we wore masks,
I wonder if they were thinking this was the new normal
Or if it means we are closer to normal?

Saturday, March 20, 2021

#sol21 March 20 You Can Only Have One


This month, I am trying to write every day
Thanks to the TWT SOL Challenge

"You can only pick one," she emphasized again to her virtual students.

"I don't have one," he continued, challenging the need to pick one. 

"Then just choose one season you like the best today," she concluded, "and write your answer in a sentence," she reminded them all.

I had been grading paper in another room, but the question lingered in my mind. How would answer that question? 

I guess I would start with saying spring is my favorite because it is springing out of the long barren earth and the sunshine is warming our long bereft souls. I love to watch the pussy willows pop and the forsythia brighten the landscape. I love to see children outside running and taking on the power of the sun.  

But, I adore summer and the opportunity (for teachers) to recoup and realign the demands of personal and professional lives.  I love to lie on the sand on the beach and consume novels as if they were chips, I am empowered by the morning breeze through an open window and an evening breeze after a hot day. 

And, I also love the crunch of leaves and the feel of a sweatshirt on that first cool morning. I love the smell of new pencils, shoes and pumpkin coffee.  I am empowered to be outside soaking up the colors and magic of fall, every year,

Of course, I still get excited for those lights that twinkle over the first snow. I love the warmth of a familiar coat and the excitement of a snowy hill. I love to snuggle under a warm blanket and decorate with abandon. I love the "memories" of this season and the "time" winter offers to craft, sew, read, and write.

I am so glad I did not have to pick just one. 

Friday, March 19, 2021

#sol21 March 19 A Professional Reflection


I'm writing daily this month as part of the TWT's March SOL Challenge. This is post is spurred by a Tweet I read from Matt Renwick. .  

I was in the parking lot when the call came.  "Get here when you can," she said. I knew without her telling me, the gravity of the situation.  "He's hanging on for now," she added, "we've got a few hours according to the nurse."  

I had already shared that I would be in charge of scoring State ELA exams at the beginning of the morning and would need to be at work for the about 2 hours. Given his decline in recent days, I had already talked to my administration and had asked for someone to back me up just in case; however, that had not happened.  It seemed at that moment as if the fate of the district's 3rd graders was in my hands.

I explained my situation to my administration and my small group got to work ahead of schedule with a focus like I had never witnessed before.  I was ready to leave in a little over an hour, my part of the PD day complete. 

I stopped at the office on my way out. "If you leave now, I'm going to have to charge you for the whole day. Plus, you are going to have to reschedule your post observation reflection with me," my then principal said calmly as I left, my eyes filling with tears but not because of her. I knew not to respond, as my response, fueled by grief, would not have been professional. 

Thursday, March 18, 2021

#sol21 MARCH 18 Slices: Of Pizza


I've been trying to walk in order to deal with Covid-feeling-sorry-for-myself-pounds, and I have have found more than one slice for the TWT's March Challenge in my neighborhood.

During the past year, cardboard recycling days mean stacks of Amazon, Target, Walmart, Chewy, and Misfits boxes spilling onto sidewalks, waiting to be crushed, repurposed and reused. Many of the boxes are well marked, big and boxy!  Some families "shop around," but most seem to have a favorite online shopping spot or two.

Yet, in front of almost every house, no matter who they use as an online retailer of choice, there are smaller, but also easily recognized boxes, (two or three or four every week) that seems to be happily nestled between the bigger boxes. These thin boxes do not easily deconstruct and thus sit in-situ waiting the recycling rangers.

One constant of the last year is the consumption of pizza, at least in my neighborhood!  It seems that everyone is eating multiple slices of pizza, every week! 

Wednesday, March 17, 2021

#sol21 March 17 One St. Patrick's Day


I'm writing daily this month as part of the TWT's March SOL Challenge. This is about a bittersweet St. Patrick's Day that was the beginning of an ending..  

We got on the 7:30 local for the city that morning along with commuters and a good crowd of revelers wearing green. There was more than a little chatter on the train, and there was a strong smell of coffee (some of it Irish, I suspect). To be quite honest, my little group was excited and hopeful, having waited weeks for this day.  For the most part, however, we were quiet, reading the Times, working on the daily Sudoku, and thinking about the day ahead.

At every stop, the train became more and more crowded and eventually, the aisles filled with suit and coffee laden commuters mingling with jeans and Diet Coke ready-to-partiers. An overall happy mood seemed to waft over the train. My little group seemed to laugh and joke a bit more as we approached the city.

At Grand Central, my brother suggested we let the crowd disperse before disembarking. We slowly made our way towards York where we caught a bus (even though we should have hailed a cab). He was a little weak; yet, he was pretty sure the "Luck of the Irish" would be with him that day. He joked about coming back next year to be part of the parade.

We checked in, right on time, and he was whisked away in preparation for his day.  

It was a long day trying to read in the crowded waiting room and calling loved ones with no real updates.  As time went on, our optimism was challenged. 

The waiting room was nearly empty when the doctor finally emerged with a it-was-a-long-day. it's-gonna-be-a-hard-road, you-gotta-have-hope kind of looks. 

The tenor in the city had changed by the time I left in search of soup and a sign of hope.

Tuesday, March 16, 2021

#sol21 MARCH 16 Vestiges of an English Garden


I'm writing every day in March as part of Two Writing Teacher's Slice of Life.  It's a challenge to find something to say every day, but this community's support encourages and empowers writers!

My backyard is really just a large muddy area these days, where I am told, there once was there an incredible English garden. The garden was the work of an avid gardener and her mother who worked tirelessly throughout the summer to nurture bulbs, replant seedlings, and coax vines.  

My neighbor shared her children's prom pictures in a field of amazing azaleas, ravishing rhododendrons, draping dogwoods, and some pretty phlox as ground cover. Those spring colors were incredible and the stone patio was vaguely familiar. 

I will never know the English garden that once was, but each spring, in the days before the deer, rabbits and weeds return, I see glimpses of what might have been.  

This morning, these tiny crocuses poked through the muddy mess as a reminder that while that English garden is long gone, spring in still near.  

Monday, March 15, 2021

#sol21 March 15 A Commute to Remember

I'm writing every day in March as part of Two Writing Teacher's Slice of Life.  Today's slice in reverse is based on Fran McVeigh's post, Resource-Full. Thanks Fran for this great idea.

By this point, the sun was doing its thing and the rest of the ride was uneventful. My pulse slowly, but surely returned to normal.  I made it to work with just minutes to spare and a story that made others look at me as if I was telling them about a bad dream.

I did a fast prayer of thanks for making it down the hill alive and for avoiding the police cruiser.  Then, I did a fast prayer of thanks for new tires. Then, I heard to unmistakable sound of abundant sand and salt on my tires and I knew things were going to be all right. 

I too slid down the black ice covered road at a 90 degree angle from the guardrail. I think I remembered to turn into the skid, but to be honest, I am not sure of anything other than the beating of my heart as I passed the police cruiser with inches to spare. 

As I crested the hill, I realized there were police lights at the bottom of the hill, and a car going sideways down the hill, scraping the guardrail as it passed. There was at least one wrecked car on the guardrail near the bottom; however, I could not focus on anything other than my own precarious descent.

Traffic was definitely moving slowly on the Saw Mill that morning as we all stayed in the one lane with a respectable distance between cars.  It all changed as I went up that first hill, slowly, and traffic slowed nearly to a halt. 

A few cars on the interstate passed me by, but most were going slowly and being respectful of the patches of black ice everywhere.  I thought about pulling over but the sun was already above the horizon and warming the earth, plus I felt safer in my lane with the salt and sand. 

Once I reached the highway, I noticed several cars and two tractor trailers off the road. I figured things must have been pretty dicey as that ice storm rolled through. I noticed the passing lane appeared to be covered with ice, so I went slowly and carefully staying in my lane where it appeared there was abundant sand and salt. 

My car was covered by a thin layer of ice, but the street had been sanded and salted.  It looked perfectly passable.  Yet, walking  around the car to scrape the windows on the slick ice was nearly impossible.  So, I got into my car and cranked up the defroster. 

It was still dark that morning when I decided the thin layer of ice on the driveway was going to challenge my walk to the car. I checked my phone one last time to make sure there was not going to be an ice delay. Then, as I had done many other mornings, I slid down the driveway, a lot faster than I had planned, on my trusty long coat, arriving at the wheel well, safely.

Sunday, March 14, 2021

#sol21 March 14 This Old Tractor

This tractor had had been in retirement,
After years of hard play and many children
It was clearly loved and used,
Already old, wobbly, and rusted,
When it came to entertain 
My children
Providing years of wagon pulling,
Dirt hauling and racing
Across lawns and gravel driveways.

After a few more decades of retirement,
It was older, wobblier, and more rusted,
When it came out to entertain
My grandchildren
Who have finally
Driven it into the ground.

According to Ebay
In mint condition, it would be valuable
I prefer to call it, a good value,
Or prehaps, invaluable.