Slice of Life: National Puppy Day

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Did you know today is National Puppy Day? Puppies, like most baby animals are hard to resist.

It was really windy on Monday!
It was really windy on Monday!

I spent the weekend in Virginia with my son, his wife and their new puppy, Louie. Louie is a rescue puppy and his exact origins are unknown. But it doesn’t really matter what kind of dog he is, because as soon as you look at his sweet face, you fall in love.

Louie with his proud parents.
Louie with his proud parents.

Even when I’m away from home, I’m an early riser. I like the peace of the hours while the rest of the house is asleep to read and write and think. Once Louie woke up Sunday morning, there wasn’t much quiet. I took him outside, then we curled up on the couch so he’d go back to sleep.

This brought back so many memories of my babies not wanting to go to sleep. Memories of rocking and singing to them for what seemed like hours, and the feeling of relief when their head finally started to nod. Then the inevitable resistance, their head snapping back to attention, their eyes widening in surprise, only to droop again. Finally the heaviness of their body in my arms as they relaxed into sleep and melted into my embrace. Their breathing softens. They are asleep. And then, there’s a noise. The eyes fly open and you start over again. But this time it doesn’t take as long for them to be lulled back to dreamland.

I’m glad my boys are grown, and that I don’t have a puppy to care for every day. But I loved visiting Brian and Jackie, meeting Louie, and remembering those long-ago nights and our bedtime rituals.

 Thank you to StaceyTaraDanaBetsyAnnaBeth, Kathleen, and Deb for this space for teachers and others to share their stories each Tuesday throughout the year and every day during the month of March. Be sure to visit Two Writing Teachers to read more Slice of Life posts.

Slice of Life: Lists

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I spent some time this morning making lists of everything I have to do at work this week, appointments to make for spring break and more. So I thought I’d just keep making lists. I pulled out Lisa Nola’s Listography: Your Life in Lists (Chronicle Books, 2007). Skimming through the pages, I began to wonder if I’d even be able to settle on a list. Then I saw Nathaniel Russell’s illustration of the brew kettles at the “Legendary Pabst Beer Factory” on the list for “Places You’d Like to Visit.” As it happens, I’ve been to the Pabst Beer Factory in Milwaukee.IMG_1727

As for other places I’d like to visit, here are my dream vacation destinations:

  1. Florence, Italy. I’ve wanted to visit Florence ever since reading Brunelleschi’s Dome: How a Renaissance Genius Reinvented Architecture by Ross King.
  2. Alaska
  3. Montana & Glacier National Park
  4. London
  5. Scotland
  6. Ireland
  7. anywhere in Europe, really

What’s your dream vacation destination?

 Thank you to StaceyTaraDanaBetsyAnnaBeth, Kathleen, and Deb for this space for teachers and others to share their stories each Tuesday throughout the year and every day during the month of March. Be sure to visit Two Writing Teachers to read more Slice of Life posts.

Slice of Life: Finding the Silver Lining

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When we woke up this  morning, there was a distinct chill in the air. For the past few days it’s been cold and rainy, last week’s spring preview long gone. Still, it shouldn’t have been this cold.

The dog and I headed downstairs for our morning routine. First stop: the thermostat. Sixty-six degrees. Not so bad, I thought. I pressed the button to fire up the furnace and take the chill out of the house. No response. I pushed it up another notch. Still no rumbling from the basement. Thinking that maybe the thermostat was just confused, (it was still pretty early!) I lowered the setting, then started raising it again. Silence.

I went back upstairs to tell my husband. He went to the basement to see what was going on. When he came back the furnace was still silent. “For some reason, the burner isn’t getting any oil. It’s not something I can fix.” We agree that I’ll go to work for the 7:45 meeting I can’t miss, then call the oil company.

So now I’m home, sitting in my sunny but chilly kitchen waiting for the repairman. Hopefully he’ll be here soon and the repair won’t be a major one. In the meantime, I’ve made some phone calls, paid a few bills, and had a second cup of coffee. Now I have some unexpected time to read and write. This cloud does have a silver lining!

Thank you to StaceyTaraDanaBetsyAnnaBeth, Kathleen, and Deb for this space for teachers and others to share their stories each Tuesday throughout the year and every day during the month of March. Be sure to visit Two Writing Teachers to read more Slice of Life posts.

Slice of Life: A Sunday Morning Photo Essay

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Sunday mornings at my house have a very different pace from the rest of the week. Here is a peek into my morning. (I tried to put some of these pictures side-by-side, but was having too many formatting issues!)

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On my way to walk with my friend Colette, of Used Books in Class fame. We walk together every weekend as long as it’s not below 20 degrees, raining, or snowing.

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Colette’s dog, Chaucer, always joins us. He’s ready to go!
This knot hole intrigued me. I get all sorts of ideas when I walk.
This knot hole intrigued me. I get all sorts of ideas when I walk.
Our walk takes us through the fairgrounds of the annual Fireman's fair.
Our walk takes us through the fairgrounds of the annual Fireman’s fair.
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Spring is here!
Soon this pond will be full of tadpoles.
Soon this pond will be full of tadpoles.
This tree was full of singing chickadees who didn't want their picture taken.
This tree was full of singing chickadees who didn’t want their picture taken.
Another sign of spring.
Back home and ready to work on the crossword puzzle.
Back home, ready to work on the crossword puzzle.
Off to breakfast.
Off to breakfast.
Breakfast's over. Time to write my slice, work on my WIP, and read.
Breakfast’s was delicious! Now it’s time to write my slice, work on my WIP, and read. Happy Sunday, everyone!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thank you to StaceyTaraDanaBetsyAnnaBeth, Kathleen, and Deb for this space for teachers and others to share their stories each Tuesday throughout the year and every day during the month of March. Be sure to visit Two Writing Teachers to read more Slice of Life posts.

 

 

Slice of Life: Sick Day

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A sinus infection has laid me low. Here are the highlights of the last five days:

Sick Day

Sinuses clogged,
Head throbbed.

Soup simmered,
Tea steeped.

Pillows propped,
Cat curled.

Books stacked,
left unread.

Dozed all day.
Will this bug ever go away?

 Thank you to StaceyTaraDanaBetsyAnnaBeth, Kathleen, and Deb for this space for teachers and others to share their stories each Tuesday. Be sure to visit Two Writing Teachers to read more Slice of Life posts.

Poetry Friday: Found Object Poetry

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I’ve been participating in Laura Shovan’s Found Object Poem Project this month, and although I’ve missed two or three days, my brain is certainly getting a workout! It’s fascinating to see the wide variety of poems people have written in response to the same object. Even poems with similar word choice have very different tones.

My poem for today was written in response to this Found Object, shared by Linda Baie:

baie-doll

Although this is clearly not a corncob doll, it reminded me instantly of Little House in the Big Woods, and Laura’s corncob doll, Susan.

Bouncing along this rutted trail
toward a great unknown,
I clutch my dolly, Susan,
keeping her corncob body close.
Ma saved one cob
from last summer’s harvest
to make this dolly, just for me
after I helped her husk
the bushels of corn
Pa hauled from the field.
Corn for us to eat,
corn to grind into meal,
corn to feed our brown swiss, Bess,
so she’d share her sweet, creamy milk.

Ma sewed a little dress from scraps of calico
soft as a cloud,
blue as the summer sky,
sprigged with pink and white daisies
like those in our yard.
Fashioned a tiny muslin bonnet,
just like mine,
it’s wide pleated brim shielding our faces
from the blazing sun
as it leads us westward,
toward our new home.

© Catherine Flynn, 2016

You can read more Found Object poems at Laura’s blog. Also, please be sure to visit Kimberely Moran at Written Reflections for the Poetry Friday Roundup.

Poetry Friday: “Cats” by Eleanor Farjeon

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Winter has finally arrived in Connecticut. Despite the lack of snow, a blast of arctic air sent the temperature plummeting. When it’s this cold, our cat, Noodles, who spends most of the summer outside, is never far from my side. Most of the time, he’s snuggled up next to me, but he sometimes chooses some surprising napping spots.  The other day I found him curled up in a laundry basket filled with old socks that need sorting, and I immediately thought of this poem.

“Cats”
by Eleanor Farjeon

Cats sleep
Anywhere,
Any table,
Any chair,
Top of piano,
Window-ledge,
In the middle,
On the edge,
Open drawer,
Empty shoe,
Anybody’s
lap will do,
Fitted in a
Cardboard box,
In the cupboard
With your frocks—
Anywhere!
They don’t care!
Cats sleep
Anywhere.

Noodles asleep on a blanket chest.
Noodles asleep on a blanket chest.

Please be sure to visit Tabatha Yeatts at The Opposite of Indifference for the Poetry Friday Roundup.

Slice of Life: A Year of Discovery

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My One Little Word for 2015 was “discover.” I feel now like the housekeeper in the Bing Crosby movie White Christmas when she says, “sometimes you find out things you wish you hadn’t.” How could I have known that I’d discover what it was like to watch my 32 year old daughter-in-law lose her battle with metastatic melanoma? Or that I’d learn that hearts really do ache when they’re broken?

Everything else I discovered this year has the shadow of Julia’s death hanging over it. We’ve gone back to a semblance of daily life; I’ve even done most of the Christmas baking I usually do. But thoughts of Julia and Michael are never far from the surface. My grief for their lost life together is sometimes paralyzing, as is my worry about Michael’s life to come.

I know that our family is not the only family missing a loved one this holiday season. Sadly, the headlines have been too full of violent and untimely loss. That doesn’t make it any easier.

I’m not sure I’ll choose a word for 2016. Maybe I’m being superstitious, but it feels like tempting fate. Or maybe I will choose a word. That word is love. Because love is truly what has helped us all survive the past four months. And maybe that’s the most important discovery of all.

Thank you to StaceyTaraDanaBetsyAnnaBeth, Kathleen, and Deb for this space for teachers and others to share their stories each Tuesday. Be sure to visit Two Writing Teachers to read more Slice of Life posts.

SOL: Choose Kind

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“When given the choice between being right or being kind, choose kind.”
Dr Wayne W. Dyer

I was reminded of this famous precept last Friday evening at the airport. My son and I were flying to Phoenix for my daughter-in-law’s memorial service. I arrived at Michael’s apartment in plenty of time for our 8:10 flight, and by 5:00 we were standing on the curb waiting for the car he had ordered.

We waited. Michael called the car company and they assured him that the car was “minutes away.” We waited. No car. He called again.

“What! They’re not there yet? I’m sending another one,” the dispatcher said.

Another 15 minutes. Now we were worried. We waited five more minutes and knew we couldn’t wait any longer. We got in my car and headed for the Belt Parkway. At 6:00. On a Friday evening. Before a long weekend. Traffic was moving at a snail’s pace.

While Michael was driving, I was on my phone looking for other flights in case we missed ours. Nothing. There were no other flights leaving from anywhere in the New York area that would get us to Phoenix in time for the service. Finally we decided that I would drop Michael off at the terminal so at least he would make the flight.

After I dropped him off, I parked in JetBlue’s short-term parking garage. The trek from this garage to the terminal is a long one, and I ran as fast as I could. By 7:40, sweating and out of breath, I got to the check in counter. I explained to the man that I had given my credit card to my son so he could get his boarding pass and could he please help me. He gave a cursory glance to his computer and said, “You’re late. Check in is closed.”

I tried to be calm and said, “I know I’m late, but I have to get on that plane.”

“You’re too late.” With that he turned from me to another customer.

Frantic, I ran to the other end of the terminal, hoping to get a different answer from a different person. With the clock ticking, I explained the situation once again. This time, the woman very calmly picked up the phone, then started typing. I held my breath as she continued to talk to the person at the gate. Within minutes, I had a boarding pass in my hand and she was walking me to the part of security where late arrivals are moved to the head of the line.

I think I thanked her at least 20 times during our short walk. People in line ahead of me with later flights let me go ahead of them, and I got through security in record time.

Running once again, I arrived at the empty gate at 8:00. The attendants there assured me the plane wasn’t leaving without me and I didn’t have to run. The flight attendant on the plane took my suitcase, stowed it for me, then showed me to my seat.

The look on my son’s face when he saw me walking down the aisle was full of amazement and relief. Because I was so late, my seat had been changed, so I couldn’t sit next to him. But that was okay. We were both on the plane.

After all that, we ended up being delayed. They were still refueling and stowing the checked baggage after I was in my seat. We made it to Phoenix and the memorial service was lovely. But I would have been devastated if I hadn’t been there to support my son through yet another very difficult day.

I’m not sure why the first person I talked to was so unwilling to help me. In the end, it doesn’t really matter. I’m just grateful that someone was willing to help me. And I hope the next time someone asks him for help, he’ll do the right thing, and choose kind. 

Thank you to StaceyTaraDanaBetsyAnnaBeth, Kathleen, and Deb for this space for teachers and others to share their stories each Tuesday. Be sure to visit Two Writing Teachers to read more Slice of Life posts.

Slice of Life: A New Reality

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Do you remember having a magic slate when you were a kid? You know, those cardboard tablets with a gray film over a waxy black background that you could draw and/or write on with a stylus. Then you lifted the film and everything was erased and you could start over.

I feel like my summer has had that gray film over it. The illness of a dear family member has colored my every waking moment. I wish I could lift the film and erase the events of the past six weeks. But life isn’t a magic slate. This is our new reality, and we are dealing with it one day at a time.

It has been a challenge for me to write during this time. I’ve had a hard time concentrating, and haven’t written anything I felt was worth sharing. But I’ve missed this community. So although this is a short slice, I just wanted to say hello to you all, and let you know I haven’t forgotten you. I hope you all have a good start to the school year.

Thank you to StaceyTaraDanaBetsyAnna, and Beth for this space for teachers and others to share their stories each Tuesday. Be sure to visit Two Writing Teachers to read more Slice of Life posts.