SOLC Day 18: Drafty Days

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March 2020 SOLC–Day 18
A huge thank you to Two Writing Teachers for all that they do to create an amazing community of writers and a safe, welcoming space to write, learn, share and grow.
http://www.twowritingteachers.org

Every day feels like a draft right now. Unformed, unfinished, needing revision. It’s similar to a free write where you dive in, try to make sense of things, and have no idea where you might be headed.

Sort of like this, though maybe not as creepy. Maybe.

I’m trying to go with “draft-y” as my self-talk descriptor of choice, rather than “overwhelming” or “frightening” and other similar words. As I said to someone the other day, “I’ve decided I don’t really enjoy this living history thing.” I’m someone who takes comfort in the status quo and works to challenge myself from a base of normalcy. That’s tough these days. (Well, the challenging part isn’t so much, but the base of normalcy is!) It occurred to me this morning, that as a writer, maybe I can do “draft-y,” recognizing that I can actually shape some of that drafting process–like choosing an entry point and focus points along the way.

Today I opted to begin the day by trying two new creative ventures. The first of these is the monthly five day writing challenge from Ethical ELA. Today was the fifth day, and was entitled, “Haiku, Photography and Japanese Word Characters.” Here was the challenge from Jennifer Goyer-Jowett:
Screen Shot 2020-03-18 at 7.32.42 AM.pngIntriguing! I immediately began looking up Japanese word characters. After a while, I came across the character for “warrior.” It reminded me a bit of a somewhat blurry action picture I recently took of two eagles. It’s not perfect (I think some of the angles are reversed), but if you squint, it sort of works.

Image result for japanese word images hope

 

Warriors

tumbling eagles
one victor emerges
primal food fight

 

 

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Next I stumbled on a link to a Mo Willems video. Apparently, he’s offering daily lunchtime doodling/drawing sessions. As a huge Piggy and Gerald fan, I decided to watch the first one. The visual is clean and uncluttered, and his voice is slow-paced and calm. He’s also quietly silly, which is quite welcome right now. Immediately, I felt myself unwinding. I think that 20 minutes a day with Mo might be my new form of meditation.(Ok…I confess–I don’t actually have a current form of meditation. But you know what I mean.)

Mo suggested beginning by doodling together. I love how he described doodling as “sort of having fun and exploring, with a pen or a pencil, a different way to make a line.” He opted for a general theme of “creatures with a lot of legs.” I grabbed my markers and a piece of paper, and drew alongside him. You can compare our drawings and instantly see why he makes the big bucks. (I really wanted to redraw the head on mine (it makes me cringe!), but I am trying to stick to the draft-y playful spirit of things.)

 

Both of these ventures helped me shift my focus from the unsettling world around me to a more positive, productive place. Neither of them is polished and perfect, but I’m feeling okay with their “draft-y” vibe.

What sort of draft-y things are you creating today?

SOLC Day 17: Space Adventures at Home Depot

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March 2020 SOLC–Day 17
A huge thank you to Two Writing Teachers for all that they do to create an amazing community of writers and a safe, welcoming space to write, learn, share and grow.
http://www.twowritingteachers.org

Looking at a potentially long stretch at home with less than the usual work load, we decided to head to Home Depot for painting supplies. We gathered our paints, brushes, tarps, etc. and headed to the self check-out.

I held up each item helpfully while Kurt scanned it.
Beep!
Beep!
BeepBeep!

“Oops! I double scanned that one,” Kurt said.

We motioned a sales person over and explained the situation.

“Oh, no problem,” he said, grabbing our package of paint roller covers and heading back into the store, “I’ll just go grab you another one then.”

“Wait…what?  No…” we stuttered.

He turned around, laughing. “Pretty good, huh?”

We laughed, too and then he proceeded to help us sort out the issue.

“I tell you what I’m gonna to do,” he said. “I’m gonna get rid of this one,”–he pointed to the doubled charge on the screen–“cause you only are buying one. Ok?” He looked at me pointedly, waiting for me to respond.

“Ok,” I said dutifully.

Beep!

“Then,” he continued, “I tell you what else I’m gonna do. I’m gonna also get rid of this one,” –he held up the package– “and give it to you for free, cause I want you to fill out the survey on the end of your receipt and say I did a great job. Ok?”

“Uh. Ok.”

Beep!

He pushed his name tag forward.

“Kirc”

“Like Captain Kirk of the Starship Enterprise,” he explained dramatically.

He leaned slightly toward us.

“I’ve been grounded,” he confided. “They found out I was racist.”

We looked at him, at a total loss, slightly concerned at what he might say next.

“Yes,” he continued, “I just hate Klingons. So they grounded me, and now I can no longer boldly go forth.”

He finished up our transaction, handed us the receipt, and pointed to the survey at the end of it.

“Don’t forget,” he said.

All in all, it was a successful trip to Home Depot and a nice bit of levity in these crazy times. I guess, as Kurt always says, “Ya gotta find some way to make your job fun!”

Clearly, this man was already a master at that or maybe just a real space oddity.

 

 

 

SOLC Day 16: A Dose of Deer

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March 2020 SOLC–Day 16
A huge thank you to Two Writing Teachers for all that they do to create an amazing community of writers and a safe, welcoming space to write, learn, share and grow.
http://www.twowritingteachers.org

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I spent all day at school with my colleagues, planning and organizing materials for distance learning. This is what our school lobby looks like now–Full of materials ready for students to pick up. So many people worked hard to make this happen in one day. I’m sure there will be glitches. I’m also sure we’ll work together, adapt and overcome them. But I’m sad. And I’m weary. And I don’t want to give the corona virus any more room in my brain.

My son and his fiancee just had to cancel their couples shower. I know that’s not the worst thing in the world, especially right now, but I just feel so bad for them. They’ve been planning for so long and were so excited. They’re trying hard to stay optimistic, but who knows what will happen with the wedding…

Parents keep writing, thanking me for my work, thanking me for touching base, telling me to stay well. With every e-mail, my eyes prick with tears.

This is all just so much.

When I got home, I started thinking about what I would write tonight. I turned to Kurt and announced, “I’ll be damned if I’m going to write about the corona virus. I don’t want to write about the corona virus and its impact. I’m sick of thinking about it but my whole day was about the corona virus. It’s all I can think about.”

He looked up at me, surprised at my outburst.

“I’m just sick of it,” I said again, “and I am NOT going to let it take over my writing, too! I won’t!” 

He looked a bit taken aback, though he was wise enough not to say much.

A few minutes later, I pushed aside my computer and put on my sneakers.

“Are you going to work out?” Kurt ventured cautiously.

“Yes.” I said shortly, then headed into the spare room and began power walking on the treadmill.

About 15 minutes later, Kurt poked his head into the room.

“The deer are out back,”  he whispered, as if they could hear him from there. Or maybe he was just a bit tentative about my response.

He retreated.

I kept on walking for a few minutes. The deer have been coming by most evenings lately. I didn’t need to go see them. I walked some more.

Then, after a few minutes, I pushed the red button, and the treadmill slowly came to a complete stop. Kurt knew what I needed. I’d return to the treadmill later, but for now I’d make time to see the deer. I grabbed my camera and snuck outside.

There they were–a momma and two babies. They grazed in the field contentedly. I crouched behind the wood pile and zoomed in for a photo. One of the young ones raised its head and stared at me for a long, long time. I stared back.

Somehow it just made me feel better.

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SOLC Day 15: A Dose of Mother Nature

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March 2020 SOLC–Day 15
A huge thank you to Two Writing Teachers for all that they do to create an amazing community of writers and a safe, welcoming space to write, learn, share and grow.
http://www.twowritingteachers.org

I’ve spent most of the weekend grading, scoring and writing report card comments. Considering we’re now facing at least two weeks without school, it feels odd to be doing that, to say the least. 

I’m trying hard not to obsessively follow the news. I’m also working hard to stop my spinning brain and to get outside every day. The latter is something I always enjoy, but these days it feels even more like a necessity.

Here are some pictures from my wanderings over the past few days–a series of small moments, I guess.

This is where I find peace. I hope you do, too.

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On the river, cloud-laced blue skies, ripples and one lonely iceberg.

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Sun rays spill from dark clouds. Dawn always soothes me. 

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Dueling eagles–too fast for a good photo–too “wonder-ful” not to share! 

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Grumpy bald eagle–I think he lost the duel.

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Who can resist the softness of a pussy willow?

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At the beach an intent seagull invades my air space. 

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A happy well-fed seal poses cooperatively–much to my delight!

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The first rose-breasted nuthatches of the year stopped by today. So cute! The feeders were buzzing with finches as well. 

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Casting shadows in the late afternoon. Together.

 

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Spring is coming… 

 

SOLC Day 14: Meditating on Juncos

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March 2020 SOLC–Day 14
A huge thank you to Two Writing Teachers for all that they do to create an amazing community of writers and a safe, welcoming space to write, learn, share and grow.
http://www.twowritingteachers.org

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At this time of year, they’re here every morning, always the first birds to appear in the garden. In the dim morning light, I see them first as shadows, hopping about on the ground. As the light grows, I watch them fly up to the wisteria arbor and perch. In flight, their hidden white tail feathers flash dramatically.

As is so often true, the coloring of the males is starker, more dramatic. Slate grey on top and white below. The line between grey and white is so clear, it reminds me of darkened tree trunks limned by a windy snowfall. I often take them for granted, these daily visitors, but today I sit and watch. Meditating on juncos.

As I watch, I realize there aren’t as many here today. One junco lingers beneath the platform feeder. It hops about through the pick-up-stick garden debris, then flies away, flashing white. Another lands and then progresses in a meandering path over the brick walkway and into the garden, stopping every so often to peck at the ground. Several swoop in, forage a bit under the feeders, then fly off again.

Now the garden is quiet. Not a single junco in sight. They’ll be heading north soon. Perhaps the migration has already started.

 

I decide to sit and hope they return, then watch them a bit more–to enjoy them while they’re still here.

How is it that so often we don’t appreciate something until it’s almost gone?  

SOLC Day 13: Double, double toil and bubble

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March 2020 SOLC–Day 13
A huge thank you to Two Writing Teachers for all that they do to create an amazing community of writers and a safe, welcoming space to write, learn, share and grow.
http://www.twowritingteachers.org

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This post is serving double duty for the SOLC and this week’s Poetry Friday Roundup.

I woke this morning with Macbeth’s “Song of the Witches” in my mind. It seemed to lend itself to a contemplation of our current chaotic and unsettling situation. 

Double, double toil and trouble;
media buzz, infection bubble.

Virus of ferocious speed
spawns illness, anxiety–
plunging markets, travel woes,
lights out on all Broadway shows,
social distance, closing schools
quarantines, stockpiling fools.
For lasting harm and lingering trouble,
add inept leader, boil and bubble.

Double, double toil and trouble;
media buzz, infection bubble.

©Molly Hogan, 2020, draft

This week’s Poetry Friday Roundup is hosted by Matt Forrest Esenwine at his blog, Radio, Rhythm & Rhyme. He’s sharing all sorts of happy poetry news. If you need some respite from the world around you, check out his post and maybe click on a few links. Poetry helps.

SOLC Day 12: Perfect Timing

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March 2020 SOLC–Day 12
A huge thank you to Two Writing Teachers for all that they do to create an amazing community of writers and a safe, welcoming space to write, learn, share and grow.
http://www.twowritingteachers.org

The timing was perfect.

We were playing Jeopardy yesterday to review what we’d been learning about systems and the human digestive system in particular. I’d divided the class into two teams. Team Banana was up. Team Watermelon looked on anxiously.

“Large intestine for $400,” the student from Team Banana called.

I clicked, and the question appeared on the screen.

I read aloud,“What do you call the sphincter at the end of the large intestine?” 

Team Banana went into huddle mode, turning to each other and immediately giggling and comparing answers. Clearly they knew this one! They quickly agreed on their final answer.

Just as they turned and in one loud, enthusiastic voice declared, “The anus!”, the classroom door opened and our Principal walked in. My finger, already in downward descent, clicked the see-answer button.  The words “The Anus” appeared, emblazoned on the screen.

Team Banana cheered.

Team Watermelon groaned.

The Principal looked slightly taken aback.

I started laughing.

It was priceless.

At the end of the day I mentioned to our principal how perfect his timing had been. He admitted that after hearing the kids roar “The Anus” as he’d walked in, he’d had to resist the temptation to comment, “That’s Mr. Anus to you!”