Monday, March 30, 2020

SOL 30/31 & #52Stories 13/52: Hugging in the time of COVID-19

Returning for year nine of writing daily in March with my Slice of Life writer friends! Check out Two Writing Teachers for more slices of life occurring every day in March. 

I gathered our writing group on Sunday for a Zoom gathering. Our prompt was the poem “Where Grass is Pressed” by Helen Frost. After reading the poem, I asked: How have you found places where grass is pressed, places where you can rest and nestle into love in the time of COVID-19?  I muted everyone and we began our twenty minutes of sacred writing time. After writing, we shared our words, our fears, our joys, our tears, and our laughter. It was not easy to leave our gathering, but writing and sharing words was balm for a Sunday morning. 

Writing in the time of Covid-19 – Quick Write
 MI Ward Writing Group, March 29, 2020 

When I left Sara’s home on the morning of March 10th, I was unaware that it would be the last time I would be in her home during March. I arrived shortly after 10, ready to babysit the boys. But Sara, a physician assistant, was on the phone with her employer who decided that she should not come to work because she had a cough. No fever, but a cough. So I stayed just long enough to read the books from the book bag to Jack and headed for home.  I’m not even sure that I hugged everyone goodbye, but I probably did. Because I’m a hugger!

The next time I saw Sara was thirteen days later, on Monday, March 23rd, when she delivered our groceries and brought the lawnmower. She stood on the brick wall outside the kitchen window and we chatted while I unloaded groceries and Lance mowed our two small patches of lawn. Far too soon, it was time to load the lawnmower back into their truck. As she pulled away, I hugged myself, demonstrating the hug I’d deliver if we could be together without social distancing.

On Saturday, March 28th, we left the Prius at the Park and Ride so Sara can take advantage of a more efficient vehicle while she commutes to a facility farther from their home. (Only last night they learned that the clinic they were supposed to be consolidating with flooded this weekend. So that probably means one more week in their local clinic.)

Back to the car exchange . . . Our plan of action was to leave the car at the Park and Ride because it would be very hard for the grand boys (ages 3 and almost 1) to pull into Grandma and Grandpa’s driveway and not be able to come in. Lance and I were supposed to leave once we parked the car, but we parked across the lot and watched the car. After all, the keys to the car were in the glove box! My son-in-law insisted that no one would want my husband’s twelve year old Prius.

While we kept watch, I hatched a brilliant idea! I called Sara, ensured that we weren’t on speaker, and shared my plan. Once the boys and Will pulled away, we pulled the Rav 4 beside the Prius, rolled down our windows, and had a lovely conversation, at least six feet apart. As we concluded, I hugged myself fiercely so that my daughter, battling this pandemic from the medical front, would know how very much she is loved.

Sunday, March 29, 2020

SOL 29/31 & #52 Stories 12/52: School Memories, Grade by Grade


Returning for year nine of writing daily in March with my Slice of Life writer friends! Check out Two Writing Teachers for more slices of life occurring every day in March.

The writing group at our church was born out of my friend Shannon's email query: "I was thinking about your challenge to us about writing stories on my way to work this morning.  Yes, I need to do this.  But it will never happen unless I have a deadline so it got me thinking. Ever think about having a memoir/writing group?"

At our first meeting, two weeks later, I shared Allison Berryhill's, What I Remember: Kindergarten - 9 blog post.  Here's my response, written during the 30 minutes of writing time that we shared together. 


School Memories – Quick Write
 MI Ward Writing Group, Feb. 16, 2020

Kindergarten – The playhouse! The kitchen, the wooden ironing board and iron. Our teacher used to fold a large piece of butcher paper in half for the “daddy” to read the newspaper while the “mom” cooked in the kitchen ad ironed clothes.

1st Grade
I remember pages of dittoed pictures that we colored, specifically one of a bird.

2nd Grade  
We moved to McAlester to 1011 North D the summer before second grade. Mrs. Truttman was my teacher And she shared poems with us. “The Sugar Plum Tree” was a personal favorite. Mrs. Truttman created a sugar plum tree in the display case that faced the hallway and opened from our classroom. We got a treat at the end of the day or was it just once a week?
I was totally puzzled by the phonics worksheets, a daily staple, having learned to read without phonics. Why did I need to make those funny marks above the letters and know if the vowel was short or long to read the words I could already read?

3rd Grade
Mrs. Crowder was my teacher and this was the year we saw our teacher cry when she learned that President John F. Kennedy had been shot.

4th Grade
Mrs. Frew and lots of preparation to get ready for our new classmate, Charlie Tipps, who transitioned to our class from the state school for the blind.
Charlie who played the piano beautifully
Charlie who could identify each of us by our footsteps
Charlie who miraculously read braille and taught us how to use his stylus to punch out words
Charlie who waited patiently while I set up his math problems with metal pegs
Charlie who stayed with our class all the way through school and received a standing ovation at our graduation ceremonies!

5th Grade
Was this the year we did a square dance for 4-H? Our moms made our twirly skirts out of red gingham check with matching neckerchiefs for the boys.

6th Grade
I think Mrs. Rains was my homeroom teacher. She swatted me playfully on the bottom with her wooden paddle for being in her teacher closet. I still love teaching supplies.
“We’ll remember always graduation day.
At the school party, we all had fun.
We laughed until the day was done.”
I can’t remember the party, but I remember the lyrics and the tune to the song.


7th Grade
Junior High and new friends – Jan Rodden and Susan Roberts
French with Mrs. Massaro and English with Mrs. Powers (Camel Lips) who introduced us to Penrod by Booth Tarkington with its luscious vocabulary.
And mimeographed pages of poems that were part of our poetry packet:
“Outwitted”
He drew a circle that shut me out-
Heretic, rebel, a thing to flout.
But Love and I had the wit to win:
We drew a circle  that took him in!
-       - Edward Markham
I still remember the poem and author more than fifty years later.
And the lovely rhythm and rhyme of “Sea Fever.”
Chorus with Elizabeth Brigham, why do I remember her first name? She had a crooked hip which caused her to have an unusual gait.

8th Grade
Motormouth Williams for English. I shutter to think we actually called our teacher that and I wonder what my students called me behind my back. She did talk REALLY fast! And now I understand, there was so much she wanted us to learn and never enough time.

9th Grade
Alphabetical seating in Miss Dempsey’s room meant that a certain cheerleader (name remembered, but not recorded, in order to protect the not so innocent) was always seated near me. And she would get so angry when I wouldn’t let her copy off me during tests.
Miss Dempsey encouraged me to read Wuthering Heights which I hated and didn’t really understand. (Mrs. Lewallyn had me read Silas Marner in fourth grade. I didn’t like it either.)

10th Grade
Finally I was in high school! But I only had one class in the high school building. I had four classes on the first floor of the junior high: Health, French, Speech, and English (Mrs. Thrasher).
Two classes in the junior high in the morning, then a hike to the 4th floor of the high school for Geometry with Mr. George (a distant relative). After Geometry, it was off to the gym building for Home Economics and then back down the hill to the first floor of the junior high for two more classes.

11th Grade
Mrs. Howard for English who taught us serious research skills complete with note cards and a bibliography
Driver’s Ed with Mr. Howard, English teacher's husband and football coach The most important thing he taught me: “Laugh when people do stupid things on the road. Call them clowns and don’t’ let them get to you."

Senior Year
Only three classes – English with Mrs. Thrasher again (with lots of independent study in the library, for the academic contest at Southeastern College in Durant)
Chemistry with Mr. Powers (such a tough class for me) Best friend Jan always wanted to “understand" it, I just memorized what I needed to know for the tests.
Charlie Porter, my lab partner, and I had an explosion in chemistry lab. I think we were making oxygen. I recall telling him that something wasn’t right because we could see something in the beaker and we weren’t supposed to “see” oxygen.
And DE (Distributive Education) before heading to Montgomery Ward to work every day from 12 (or was it 1?) until closing time at 5.
It was not a stellar year of high school, but I did manage to save a lot of money for college!

Saturday, March 28, 2020

SOL 28/31: Three New Learnings, One Wish, and One Celebration!

Returning for year nine of writing daily in March with my Slice of Life writer friends! Check out Two Writing Teachers for more slices of life occurring every day in March.

Three new learnings, one wish and one celebration for this week:

1. I learned that I need to make a "to do list" daily, even if it takes me three days to finish it. When I feel scattered and at loose ends, looking at the list helps me focus. Sometimes I even add something I just did so I can cross it off the list.

2.  I learned that given the choice, I'd rather talk than text. I'm of a certain generation that grew up talking on the telephone. If I realize that a friend and I are texting each other at the same time, I'll call. I like hearing voices!

3.  I learned how to use Zoom for Story Time with the grandsons. It's easy to hold the book up to the computer screen and no one has to hold the phone to film. It does require the librarian's skill of reading a book while holding it in front of an audience, or in this case, the computer screen.
(I also learned how to use conferences in Schoology in preparation for gathering our middle school book club next week.)

4. I wish that I could figure out the titles on the bookshelves behind people when they film/work from home. Anyone else more interested in what's on the bookshelf instead of the person speaking?

5. I celebrate making a box of nine chocolates (in a 3 inch square box) last for fifteen days!
My last in-store visit to the bookstore was on Friday, March 14th. It's amazing what you can do when you're sheltering in place and your chocolates are numbered. I don't dare check to see if the bookstore has any in stock because even though their brick and mortar store is shuttered, they're still making local deliveries and I always want don't need chocolates.  

Thursday, March 26, 2020

SOL 27/31 and Poetry Friday: "Where Grass is Pressed" by Helen Frost

Returning for year nine of writing daily in March with my Slice of Life writer friends! Check out Two Writing Teachers for more slices of life occurring every day in March.


  Tabatha Yeats is hosting this week's roundup of poetic goodness.
Thanks, Tabatha, for hosting and sharing your poem, "Acceptance."
I especially love these words from the poem.
" . . . it is strands of light
  seeping through a drizzly haze,  "

Welcome to Poetry Friday and a favorite poem by Helen Frost that I found on her blog. I've shared it frequently with friends facing difficult times and it seems especially appropriate for our current time. 


I would love to mention another resource you might explore. Georgia Heard is posting poems from her book, This Place I Know: Poems of Comfort, on her Instagram account. Follow her on Instagram to read the poems of comfort she's sharing. Click on the title of her book to read the review I wrote for Poetry Friday on 9-11-15. And if you'll permit a moment of unabashed fangirling, we were privileged to have Georgia Heard join our table at All Write 2015. I wrote about that in a Poetry Friday post too.

SOL 26/31: Meet my writing notebooks!

Returning for year nine of writing daily in March with my Slice of Life writer friends! Check out Two Writing Teachers for more slices of life occurring every day in March.

I'm not good at writing in my writer's notebooks. Most of the writing I do is straight onto the computer, but once I started looking, I found ten notebooks! Sometimes I wish I were a one notebook, linear, fill-it-up before you start the next one type of person, but that's not who I am. I'm a many notebook, random, grab the first one you can find kind of gal. This post is dedicated to the multiple and messy notebook keepers among us. I won't be sharing any beautiful pages, but I will be sharing the wide and varied ways that I use my ten notebooks.
The first five notebooks at the top of the picture reveal that I love composition notebooks. The first two are holdovers from when I was teaching. There were many blank pages in each of them so I decided a while back to finish them. 

The flowery one begins on 4-8-10 with this quote that I've always loved: "I have always been delighted at the prospect of a new day, a fresh try, one more start, with perhaps a bit of magic waiting somewhere behind the morning. " -  J. B. Priestley. This notebook has photocopied poems, favorite Dove chocolate quotes, brainstorming for my heart map, and many small moment stories. A pink tab leads me to my notes from the 2015 All Write conference. After the conference notes are ideas for slicing, notes from church meetings I attended and then lots of brainstorming for the year I did a stroll through the alphabet for Poetry Month. There's an attempt at Morning Pages beginning Thursday, September 12, 2019 and lasting until Monday, November 11, 2019 (and true to who I really am, I did not write every day during that time period). And then there are scribbled ideas for possible 2020 slices of life. There are two pages I've been looking for in this notebook - a list of "light poems" (light is my OLW for 2020) and a list of Aunt Minnie's kids with the year each was born (I was sure I had put this in my Family History notebook. Nope!)

The green marbled one begins with the title page I always had my students write as the first page in their notebooks, If this book is found, please return to Islander Middle School, Room 104, Mercer Island, Washington. It's followed by the table of contents which includes these categories: Small Moment Stories, Brainstorming Lists, Writer's Craft Entries, Headline News, and Poetry Response. It has an entry from 3-3-13, written with students during slice of life writing time with a pink cupcake stamp! We used to have an official stamper of entries at the end of our writing time. It includes notes from Shelly's presentation to her scholarship group about her family heritage. And there's a list of possible slices for March's 2019 SOL with orange stars by the ones I actually wrote.

Nerd Alert was begun in September 2015. Nestled amid lots of ideas for slicing are favorite quotes, one of my favorite things to scibble in the pages of my notebooks. My notes from Naomi Shihab Nye's Arbuthnot Honor Lecture delivered on 4-28-18 bring back memories of this delightful evening spent with fellow blogger Jone MacCulloch. This notebook has rough drafts for the poems I wrote when I jumped into the Ethical ELA 5-Day Writing Challenge in February 2020. Writing poetry always requires me to leave my computer and pick up a notebook. I learned the hard way that it's too easy to delete lines I may want to retrieve later.

The yellow notebook is an example of a notebook dedicated to a special purpose. My daughter gave it to me and I use it for notetaking when I go to monthly meetings about family history. I started the blue flowered notebook when I attended Roots Tech in February 2020. It still has lots of room so I'm using it to take notes on the additional recorded sessions and the virtual pass sessions I'll be watching throughout the year. I started the artistic photo collage notebook for my #52Stories in 2020 project. The red spiral, follow your own star notebook, begun 8-7-07, chronicles my ongoing journey for healthy living. 

I started the green journal with the sunflower picture on 1-1-2020 for #100daysof notebooking and lasted until 1-13-2020. But I'm picking it up today to begin journaling about Covid-19. I talked with daughter recently to clarify some of the things that I remember from this unprecedented time and I simply must begin writing in it today. 

I saved my two favorite notebooks for last. The fabric covered notebook on the bottom right was a gift from my friend Ruth Ayres. It has a stretchy piece of elastic for holding a pen, a front pocket, and textured pages that are dreamy for collecting the thoughts of my heart. The smallest notebook in the center of the picture was a prize I won during the 2014 SOL Writing Challenge. It's a handmade notebook created and donated by Stacie Evans (Girl Griot). It's the perfect size for collecting quotes I love and inspiration from fellow bloggers. My latest entry captures these words from River Brown's post* on 3-16-20:
"Breathe. You're here. You are supported.
 Even loved. Let that in."

No more envy for those one notebook, linear, fill-it-up before you start the next one notebook keepers. I'm embracing and celebrating my multiple and messy notebooks. All ten of them!

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

SOL 25/31: The Posts I Didn't Write Today

Returning for year nine of writing daily in March with my Slice of Life writer friends! Check out Two Writing Teachers for more slices of life occurring every day in March.

Sharing the posts I didn't write today . . . 

The one that's already written in my writer's notebook - school memories, inspired by Allison Berryhill who I met through the writing community at ethical ela. I want to go back to her blog and read her Writing Through Covid-19 posts. 

Pictures from my walks the past two weeks

Trigger words - No, I'm not talking about words that make me anxious. These would be the words that stop me in my tracks to click on a link when I scroll through the postings from our very large community of writers.

Our book club's slate of books for next year and why I'm disappointed

How much I miss spending three days of my week with Jack and Robby

The trip I'm supposed to be on right now

Things I collect - a surprising list I started when I read someone else's post and thought, "I don't collect anything."

Three slicer voices I miss

Inspiring thoughts I've collected this month

Hubby's response as we waited for the return of daughter's COVID-19 test (it was negative)

Grammy delivers for sick kids (I may have written this one already, it's why I really should label my posts.)


Too many writing notebooks


Mentor texts from Elisabeth - Quarantine Reading & Comparing Days - Usually...Today 

Plans for Sunday - A Special Day of Fasting and Mighty Prayer

I still haven't started, but am so inspired by a fellow blogger (help me remember who she is) who showed us pages from her notebook and encouraged us to journal during this time. Getting started today!

Why I wish TWT would provide us with an Excel spread sheet of blogger names with links to their blog

Zoom neophyte to Zoom creator in five short days 

So many posts, never enough time! Even with staying at home as part of my new normal, I still can't read and respond to all the posts I wish to read.

More mentor texts, these two from One Blessed Block - Gratitude Countdown and That's Me  

And one more blog that's filled with mentor texts for a month of writing, Lit Coach Lady, who's writing all month using sparks from Natalie Goldberg's book, Old Friend from Far Away: The Practice of Writing Memoir.

Let me know if there's one you want me to write in the remaining six days. It happens every year! As I enter the final week of March SOL, I discover that I have more posts I want to write than days left in the month!

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

SOL 24/31: Adapting to Our New Normal

Returning for year nine of writing daily in March with my Slice of Life writer friends! Check out Two Writing Teachers for more slices of life occurring every day in March.

An itty-bitty haiku slice compensates for yesterday's too-long, whole pie slice!

Sheltering in place
Grandma and Grandpa stay home
FaceTime story time!

We haven't watched the grand boys for two weeks, but novel coronavirus times call for new traditions. At our house, that means story time with Grandpa filming (with the occasional Elmo or Cookie Monster puppet popping in) and Grandma reading. Here's the couch full of books we read last week!