SOLC 2019 Day 31: “We’ll Leave the Light on For You”


March 2019 SOLC–Day 31
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.

It had been a long satisfying day. I’d begun the day at sunrise at the river watching an incredible natural display of spring exuberance. Then, I’d come home to write and was thrilled by some unexpected new visitors at the bird feeder.

MOLLYCARD_WEB_SIZE.jpgAfter that, I spent three hours gallery sitting at the last day of an exhibit of my photos at a local art center. I returned home to finish off my blog post and pack, and then we were off to drive to Massachusetts for a celebratory dinner with my son and his fiancee and her family. Instead of trying to drive the 2+ hours back home, we’d decided to stay overnight.

After dinner, we were both more than ready to get to our motel, check in and settle into bed with our books. We left the restaurant with hugs and goodbyes, and headed toward our destination: a Motel 6 about 30 minutes away. On the way, we recalled Tom Bodett reciting their quaint welcoming slogan, “We’ll leave the light on for you.”

I hunched over the wheel, working my way through the unaccustomed traffic, following the narrated GPS directions to the hotel, eager to arrive. As I merged across multiple lanes of traffic and made various quick stops and turns, I remembered how much I don’t like driving at night and in the city. Around us, to my country eyes, our surroundings looked increasingly ugly and somewhat sketchy.

Where was this hotel anyway?

Finally, we saw the Motel 6 sign up ahead.

“There it is!” Kurt said.

Ah, relief was at hand!

“Stay to the right, then make a sharp right onto Popes Lane,” the GPS voice directed.

In the midst of the unattractive suburban concrete sprawl, I turned as directed and then maneuvered into the motel parking lot.

“Go that way,” Kurt said, pointing.

“Slain,” the GPS voice suddenly announced as if she were a tour guide on some grisly sensational murder tour.

“What?” I asked, looking at Kurt. He looked as confused as I felt.

The voice continued, “to kill violently, wantonly, or in great numbers; broadly, to strike down, kill.”

We both turned and looked at the motel, trying to make sense of this unsolicited announcement. Why was the GPS suddenly narrating the definition of slain? To make things even odder, Kurt doesn’t even have voice activation on his phone, and this was simply the default GPS narrator.

“Well, that’s a bit alarming,” I finally said.

Kurt and I looked at each other and then again at the waiting motel. What!?!

As I moved the car forward and into a parking spot, we eyed the hotel with growing trepidation.

The helpful GPS voice then intoned, “You have arrived at your destination.”

We looked at each other and burst out laughing at the strangeness of it all. Then, we both glanced at the motel again. Suddenly, that famous Motel 6 slogan, “We’ll leave the light on for you”, seemed a bit less charming than it had before.

SOLC 2019 Day 30: A Springtime Brew


March 2019 SOLC–Day 30
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.

This morning I swung down by the river to catch the sunrise. As I pulled into my parking space, a juvenile bald eagle flew right before me. I thrust the car in park and grappled for my camera, hoping to catch a quick shot. I didn’t realize yet that the hour ahead would be full of such opportunities.


Quick! Take a pic! It’s an eagle!

I noticed my friend, Roger, was already at the water’s edge snapping photos. I took a few pictures and then wandered over to join him. Last weekend I’d seen him, but I’d been in a total stress zone. The river magic hadn’t worked on me. This weekend Mother Nature was pulling out all the stops, and together, we were a rapt audience.

We took picture after picture, delighting in the beauty unfolding around us. I went back and forth between gawking and wildly swinging my camera around trying to capture the cauldron of activity. The seagulls were back, ducks flew, floated and fished, and eagles swooped by periodically. The air was filled with song, and bird after bird made an appearance–cardinals, red-winged blackbirds, pigeons, hooded and common mergansers, grackles, robins and more. The fish were jumping, and the river ice had receded dramatically, bringing back those intoxicating reflections. I could have spent hours watching bird shadows swimming amidst reflected clouds. Add the rising sun to the mix, and it was intoxicating. An ambrosial springtime brew!


Hard to catch a sharp photo when everything’s moving!


Hooded mergansers coming in for a landing


Seagull at sunrise


Incoming! (This one cracks me up!)

DSC_0984 (1)

Swimming bird reflections


After sunrise, the sun still puts on a show


juvenile bald eagle 




SOLC 2019 Day 28: A Quick Dose of Toddler


March 2019 SOLC–Day 28
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.

I tend to arrive early at school, so I get to see parents dropping off their kids at the before school program. Often younger siblings are there for the drop off, and I really enjoy watching the family interactions. I also love getting a quick dose of toddler!

One morning this week, I was headed to the copier.  A little boy, maybe three and a half years old, was airplaning happily down the hallway, arms outstretched, blissfully ignoring his mother’s reminders to “watch out!” I deftly moved out of the way, avoiding a near collision. He zoomed along, oblivious, a big smile on his little face. I smiled back at him and then at his mother.

“Crazy driver!” I laughed.

She rolled her eyes.

“I wish I had a little bit of that energy,” I said.

“Don’t we all!” she replied, hurrying after him, another young child on her hip.

As he neared the congregation of bus drivers waiting to leave on their morning route, the little boy turned into their midst. One older driver held up his fist for a fist bump. Slowing down slightly, the boy planted a big smacking kiss right on the man’s knuckles, and then he revved up and kept on going. The driver grinned, clearly surprised and delighted, and the boy headed out the door with his mother hot on his heels.

SOLC 2019 Day 27: Would you rather…?


March 2019 SOLC–Day 27
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.

Sometimes we manage to grab a little bit of time at the end of the day for a community circle. I often pose a question and we send around a talking piece, taking turns answering whenever we get the piece. I’ll pose questions like, “What’s your favorite flavor of ice cream?” or “If you could have any superpower, what would it be and why?” Sometimes students contribute ideas for questions.

One day not too long ago, we gathered at the carpet.

“Ok,” I asked. “Would you rather eat a worm or an ant?”

After the initial hubbub died down, I responded first, “Ant.” Then I passed the talking piece, pretty sure that “ant” would be the dominant response.

The next student asked for some clarification. “Is it raw or cooked?”

I hadn’t been expecting that, but answered decisively. “Raw.”

“Darn,” he said. “Well, I guess ….. ant.”

We continued around the circle. I was fascinated by the additional clarifying questions and the rationales behind different choices.

“I think I’ll choose an ant, because probably I’ve already eaten some and didn’t even know it,” said one student.

“Do you have to chew it?” asked another. “Or can you swallow it whole?”

Hmmmm…That was a tough one. After some discussion, we decided no chewing was required.

“I think I’ll swallow the worm then,” she responded. “Without chewing!”

“I would definitely swallow the worm,” said the next student. “I’d just slurp it down like a piece of spaghetti.”

“Ew!” we all chorused.

In the end, much to my surprise, the class was pretty evenly divided. I’m still sticking with my choice. Definitely an ant.

Which would you choose?

SOLC 2019 Day 26: Intruder Alert!


March 2019 SOLC–Day 26
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.

They come with increasing frequency now. Bold. Intrusive. I’m always on the lookout, determined to be the first to spot them. My eyes scan the familiar terrain, examining the likely spots, determined to oust any intruders. I cock my head one way then another, intent on my mission.

Wait! Is that one?

I lean in even closer. Staring intently. Focused and determined.

Not on my watch!

Yes. Right there. Just barely in sight.

Sneaky little devil! 

With my implement of destruction in hand, I lean in closer and, with a swift, careful movement, I deftly grip the intruder.

Aha! Got ya!

I pull. And pull! It holds firm, resistant….until…finally! Success!

There in my tweezers is one thick stubbly hair, plucked from my jawline.

I thrust it viciously into the trashcan.

Victory is mine!

SOLC 2019 Day 24: Pancakes


March 2019 SOLC–Day 24
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.

I finally got a chance to check out the food prompts on the poetry challenge I was supposedly participating in this month. I haven’t looked for days. Maybe a week. I could have found time to at least look, but that would have triggered a tsunami of guilt for not writing response poems, and I’ve been avoiding that.

At any rate, today Catherine Flynn posted a photo of blueberry pancakes. I immediately thought of long ago days making pancakes with my mom. I still remember the old double-sided electric griddle. I remember using the metal ladle to carefully scoop thick batter from the heavy mixing bowl, and the satisfying sizzle of the batter as it met the griddle’s hot surface. I remember my mom telling me to wait for the bubbles to rise through the batter and stay open before turning the pancakes. I remember holding the spatula. Poised. Waiting. Waiting. And I remember that I couldn’t wait. I’d flip the pancake and it would slop into a half-cooked and oddly shaped oval. Oops. Next time, I ‘d promise myself, I’d wait. I rarely did. Even now, I have a hard time with that.

I also remembered my delight when my mother or grandmother occasionally made us pancakes shaped like our initials.  It struck me today that those pancakes contained a world of love.

Sometimes she shaped the pancakes
using batter to scribe our initials
onto the seasoned griddle
waiting patiently for the bubbles
to rise through the batter
and softly pop
taking care to flip each letter
browning the sides to golden perfection
slipping them onto our waiting plates
unspoken love letters

©Molly Hogan, 2019


SOLC 2019 Day 23: March


March 2019 SOLC–Day 23
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.

In Maine, March is a bit of an endurance contest.

By March
the snow only whispers
of its prior glory
it’s arrival as hypnotic drifting flakes
is but a dim memory
leached into its present incarnation
styrofoam snow
pale, stale
far from its origin
tenaciously clinging
to winter

©Molly Hogan, 2019

Friday morning’s snowfall refreshes the stale snow, beautiful and simultaneously depressing.



SOLC 2019 Day 22: Interesting Times


March 2019 SOLC–Day 22
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.

“Good morning,” I say as the desk clerk motors by, clearly rushed and heading back to his post.

“Good morning,” he replies. Then continuing past, he mutters at me, “I live in interesting times.”

My eyebrows raise, but I don’t respond. This is a man on a mission, with no time for small talk. He putters about the desk, grabs a few things and flies back down the stairs. I imagine he must also be setting up the breakfast area.

When we spend the night in hotels, I often find myself spending early morning hours in the lobby. I’ve learned that I enjoy my mornings more if I’m not trying to write on the bathroom floor to avoid disturbing whoever’s traveling with me. Usually that person prefers to sleep past 4:30 am, so I slip out of the room, notebook and laptop in hand, and head to the lobby. It’s typically quiet and peaceful, and I enjoy writing in a new place.

Suddenly, a man pops through the door from the long hallway leading to the hotel rooms.

“Do you know where the man is?” he asks.

His hair is close shaven and he’s small and wiry, wearing an athletic jersey emblazoned with Fleury 29.  He pushes through the door into the lobby, a bundle of energy. If he were a dog, his tail would be wagging and he’d be doing that whole body “Oh!!!  A human friend is here!!!” wiggle.

I assume he’s talking about the desk clerk.

“I think he’s downstairs getting breakfast ready,” I reply.

“Oh, ” he said, looking around and then looking at me again. “What do you do around here?”

“Oh, I don’t work here. I’m a teacher, but down south in Durham.”

“What grade do you teach?” he asks.


“Fourth grade?”

I nod.

“I was a crazy student,” he says.

Really? Somehow I’m not too surprised.

I open my mouth to respond, but Fleury 29 continues.

You know Ritalin these days? Well, my teachers didn’t  know what to do with me. They used to have me walk around the room on my hands. Again and again and again.”


“Then, I moved to Ethiopia because of allergies.”

What?! Ethiopia? Allergies? What?

“You got time? ” he continues. ” I got stories. I would have been the most interesting student you ever had!”

The desk clerk emerges from downstairs, and Fleury rapidly turns and asks him for a broom and mop, then launches into some convoluted explanation about why he needs these in his room. I’m still envisioning those handstands and trying to figure out the relationship between allergies and Ethiopia, so I only catch their conversation in bits and pieces. This is a man who needs a pause button. 

The desk clerk sets off to get the requested items, assuring Fleury he’d bring them to his room shortly.

“Take your time. Don’t run,” he replies.

“I kind of have, too,” the clerk mutters under his voice, rushing off.

“See you later!” Fleury says to me and heads off, gone as rapidly as he’d appeared, presumably to return to his room.

The clerk reappears a few minutes later.

“Sorry if he was bothering you,” he says, gesturing to the door through which Fleury had exited.

“Oh, no,” I say. “He was fine.”

“He’s part of my interesting times,” he says with feeling.

Later, at breakfast I see Fleury again.

“Fourth grade, right?” he calls across the room.

“Yes.” I smile and nod.

“I could tell you stories!”  he repeats, then continues. “I got a lot of scholarships. My neighbors helped me out, because they used to watch me doing backflips and half gainers out of my mom’s second story window into the snow banks.”

What? Scholarships and half gainers into snowbanks? I can’t really figure this one out either. It is as mystifying as Ethiopia and allergies!

“You teachers,” he says. “You do a lot.” He pauses. “Thanks. I know it’s not easy.”

I start to respond, but he is off on another story. I just listen and nod, smiling, thoroughly enjoying myself.

I suspect that this is a man who always lives in interesting times.




SOLC 2019 Day 21 and PF: Jabberwocky


March 2019 SOLC–Day 21
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.

This post is a dual post for the Slice of Life challenge and the Poetry Friday Roundup. This week’s Roundup is hosted by Rebecca Herzog at Sloth Reads. Although I hadn’t been aware that she’d invited participants to celebrate National Goof Off Day this week, serendipity was at hand. What could be more wonderfully fun and goofy than “Jabberwocky”, the word romping poem central to my post?
Image result for jabberwocky original illustration

Illustration by John Tenniel

by Lewis Carroll 
“’Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
      Did gyre and gimble in the wabe:
All mimsy were the borogoves,
      And the mome raths outgrabe. ”

Last night we drove a few towns north to watch our youngest daughter sing with the University of Maine Singers during their spring concert tour. The Singers always end their concerts with a rousing rendition of Lewis Carroll’s Jabberwocky, accompanying the lyrics with overblown theatrics. They cavort on stage, miming snapping jaws, dramatically pulling vorpal swords, etc.

“…’Beware the Jabberwock, my son!
The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!
Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun
The frumious Bandersnatch!’

He took his vorpal sword in hand:
Long time the manxome foe he sought-
So rested he by the Tumtum tree..”

Last night when they reached that last line, chorus members mocked fatigue. Some yawned, others slumped against their singing companions. My daughter, Lydia, took her two fists and rubbed them against her eyes, ducking her head down…and just like that I hurtled back through the years.

In an instant my 21 year old daughter was transformed so vividly in my mind to her long-ago sleepy toddler self. It was like a physical blow. A jolt. I was momentarily lifted from the present and thrust into the past, swamped with a sensation of nostalgia and loss. I remembered her heavy weight in my arms as I’d carry her up to bed, her head resting on my shoulder. I’d always softly sing to her “Good night, sweet heart…” as I climbed the stairs, and even though she was almost asleep, her small hand always patted my back, soothingly. It was the sweetest thing…

And then, just like that, I was back in the present, in the auditorium, listening to Lydia and the UMaine Singers finish up their romping version of Jabberwocky. I watched them burble, galumph and chortle…feeling a bit disoriented…memories of the past reconnecting to the reality of this present.

After the performance I hugged Lydia extra tight.

My baby girl.



SOLC 2019 Day 20: “Killed with Delight”


March 2019 SOLC–Day 20
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.

As I drove to work yesterday, my mind whirled with to-do lists and the last minute adjustments I needed to make to grades and comments. I kept losing my place in my audio book and was thankful that it was one I’d already read, so I could maintain a tenuous grip on the thread of the story. Preoccupied with my thoughts, I turned into the drive that leads to the school parking lot.

Then I stopped. Literally. My mind stopped swirling and I stopped the car. In the middle of the drive. Heedless of cars that might be behind me. (Luckily, there were none.)

There in front of me was a stream of steam flowing from a pipe in the roof of the school. Behind it was the sun, just cresting the horizon. The two combined to create the most beautiful smoky light extravaganza. I don’t think the picture does it justice, but the moment and the image remain clear in my mind. Sunlit roiling steam. Beauty in the ordinary…perhaps even beauty in the ugly. 


My thoughts turned to Mary Oliver and her insistence on being mindful of the potential for joy and delight that surrounds us within the ordinary. I typically associate her words with nature, but in this instance, it was a combination of man and nature that moved me. 

After taking a few photos, I pulled into the parking lot. My chaotic thoughts seemed less turbulent now. Instead of feeling rushed, I felt grateful to have been pulled out of my introspective fugue and into the wonders of the world. Grateful to have been “killed with delight.”

by Mary Oliver

Every day
I see or hear
that more or less

kills me
with delight,
that leaves me
like a needle

in the haystack
of light.


Click here to read the entire poem.