SOLC Day 21: Gathering Calm

March 2022 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.

It’s quiet now. Only the hum of the heater stirs the air. The coffee pot has ceased its productive gurgling, and subsided into its silent warming mode. Every so often it emits a faint tick. The cat, who not long ago was perched on the windowsill, lowly growling at the local prowling tom, has moved on. 

I gather my thoughts. Begin to write. Savor the smooth flow of pen on paper under my hand. 

Outside, the moon, through some trick of light and window screen, forms a brilliant cross in the sky. It pulls my eye, again and again. Turning my attention away from the page. I know it’s something I can’t capture with my camera. Still, I put down my pen, turn off the inside lights and try anyway.

Then I step out the door into the dark, cold morning, stand in the winter-bare garden, and savor the moonglow.

Soon enough, the sun will rise.

Soon enough, the winds of the day will gather and turn.

Soon enough, the silence will vanish.

I linger for just a bit longer. 

Savoring the silence about me.

Gathering my calm before the day begins.

SOLC Day 20: My Day in Pictures

March 2022 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.

Some days I process and think through pictures. Just like having a pen in hand, my lens helps me to lean into the moment. To focus on where I am, what I’m doing, what I’m seeing. In both cases, it’s all about being there. Showing up. You have to sit down and pick up the pen. Or get outside and look through the camera. You have to look to see what really is there.

Sometimes my focus is surprising. Shifting unexpectedly. I start writing, thinking I’m going to write a funny story about something that happened at school and suddenly I’m hooked into a long ago memory that still has sharp edges. Or when I’m taking photos, sometimes I head out thinking I’m going to capture clear skies and migrating birds, but fog moves in, and the atmosphere shifts and suddenly all I can see is the trees and the mist and the subtle shifts in light. 

Today we walked through field and forest and along marsh and ocean. It was a moody day and the scenery was dense with atmosphere and fog that lifted, fell, and sometimes almost glowed. I could have stood and watched the show for hours. 

SOLC Day 19: Over it!

March 2022 SOLC–Day 19
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.

The kids scramble into the room creating the typical hubbub of morning energy with jostling elbows and bumping backpacks. Greetings and bits and pieces of stories fill the air. I start scanning to see who is there. Who is absent today.

My colleague walks into the room.
“Um, just to let you know.” She gives me a sympathetic glance. “A couple of my students just told me that Arnie is down by the swamp*. Again.”

Ugh. I bite back the words that I want to respond with, and grit my teeth smile. “Ok, thanks.”

Since my classroom is out in a modular, my students have to walk down a path, out of sight of the bus greeters, every morning. Arnie, again and again, has been unable to resist the call of the wild on this journey. It is sadly not unusual for other students to report to me or to other teachers that Arnie is rolling down a snow covered hill. Or has handed someone his backpack to carry in while he’s climbing over the railing. Or whatever.

Now to those of you people who say “Oh, how cute! What a free spirit! He’s investigating nature. Showing his curiosity,” I say “BAH HUMBUG!” Loudly. Defiantly.

I have no desire, no remaining energy, to approach this situation with a lens of curiosity. Or engage in more collaborative problem solving. Or use the power of my words: “I’ve noticed…” or “What might help you…?”

I am 100% over it.

So, after the rest of the kids come in, I go outside and extract Arnie from the swamp with some well-chosen carrying redirecting words. Clearly my reminders and our ongoing conversations about following school rules, safety concerns and initiating work in a timely manner haven’t gotten through to Arnie.

It’s time to call in the big guns: Kelli R., Assistant Principal.

Once kids are settled and working, I pick up the phone, dial, then pull the cord around the door to step outside the classroom. Even though the door is mostly closed, there’s a well placed window in the door, so I can see what’s going on in the room.

The phone rings.

Kelli picks up.

“Hi, Kelli, ” I begin, “I’m wondering if you could talk to Arnie for me.”

In the room, Arnie looks up. The kids seem restless. I step a little further away from the door, lower my voice and continue, explaining the situation to her. As our conversation ends, Kelli agrees that she’ll speak to Arnie and says she has time right now.

I walk back in the room, hang up and cross toward Arnie, preparing to send him off.

“Mrs. Hogan,” several kids chime in. “Your mic was on the whole time.”

I stop in my tracks.


“Yeah, who’s Kelli?”

Frozen, I quickly retrace the conversation in my head, trying to figure out what they’d overheard.

You need to know that we have a classroom audio system that sends our voice into all corners of the room. So, if I’m writing something on the board and still talking, kids can hear me easily. Also, kids in the back of the room can always hear as well as kids in the front. It’s a great system.

Until it isn’t.

In this instance, while I had been careful to step out of the room and lower my voice, I had neglected to turn off the microphone around my neck. Luckily, I’m pretty sure I kept it professional. I mean, I was talking to the Assistant Principal

So, after quietly apologizing to Arnie for broadcasting his situation through the classroom (he really didn’t seem to care and I’m not even positive he realized he’d been the topic under discussion), I then told him where he was going and why.

“But, they told me to do it!” he exclaimed.

“Well, that’s a really good thing to discuss with Mrs. R.,” I said, while handing him a door pass to get into the building.

Yup. Over it.

*The swamp in question isn’t a full-fledged swamp, it’s more of a cattail-filled retaining pool for draining water and, evidently, for attracting wayward ten-year-olds.

SOLC Day 17: Lifted

March 2022 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.

Every day I look to the sky for small pleasures. Sights that bring me joy. Views that anchor me in the moment, while simultaneously transcending it. This morning already, there’s the opalesque glow of the moon, partially obscured by clouds, as it sets behind the barn. It’s transformed the dull grey of the barn roof to a soft, glowing pewter. Sky views buoy me:

A bisected sunrise punctuated by the silhouettes of rising tree branches.

The melancholy pull of migrating geese.

The drama of an intersection of clouds.

A solitary eagle in flight against a dawn drenched sky.

As I navigate through recent grief, I turn to the skies to leaven my days. to help me rise.

And every day, though my heart is heavy, and my feet remain firmly on the ground, I am lifted.

SOLC Day 15: What the heck was that!?

March 2022 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.

A loud squawk reverberated through the house.

“What was that!?” Lydia asked from the kitchen.

“I don’t know! It sounded like a chicken,” I said, more than slightly alarmed, “but it came from the living room.”

“Was it the cats?” Kurt asked.

Lydia, the intrepid sort, walked through on her way to investigate. I followed at a safe distance behind.

We flipped the lights on in the living room. We looked around. There, in the middle of the rug was Squirrel, one of our four household cats. 

“Squirrel, was that you?” Lydia asked. We both looked at her suspiciously.

Then, as our eyes adjusted to the light, we both added, “Oh….”

There, in the middle of the the rug in front of Squirrel, was a little mouse body.

I bent over to scoop up Squirrel. “Is it still alive?”

We peered at the mouse.

“I think it’s dead,” I said, while Lydia simultaneously responded, “I’m not sure.” 

“Could a mouse have possibly made that large of a noise?” I asked, looking at the mouse with concern.

“I don’t think so,” Lydia answered doubtfully.

We looked at the mouse.

We looked at the cat.

Neither gave anything away.

“Well, do you want to keep the cats away or deal with the mouse?” I finally asked, nudging another curious cat away from the carpet with my foot while struggling to hold a squirming Squirrel.

“I’ll deal with the mouse,” Lydia decided and went off to the kitchen.

A moment or two passed. Another cat slunk around the edges of the room.

“Lydia, what’s taking so long?” I yelled.

“I’m trying to figure out something to put it in.”

“Just grab the broom and a dustbin,” I called back, “It’s getting tough to keep the cats away.”

“But I’m not sure it’s dead,” she said, walking in the room with a small Tupperware container. “I needed something to slip under it, too.” She held a stiff piece of paper in her other hand.

We both bent down to look more closely at the mouse. 

Was it alive? It was hard to tell. The little body was in the exact position we’d found it in, but the eyes were suspiciously bright still. It looked hooked into the rug with its little paws. Was it literally petrified?

No novice at this operation, Lydia deftly dropped the container over the mouse and slipped the flyer underneath, trying to get the mouse on top of it. It didn’t alter its stance, and the pushing flyer merely moved it up against the side of the container.

This wasn’t looking promising for the mouse.

Lydia tried again.

“Wait! I think it moved!” she said, as she successfully slipped the flyer under the mouse and simultaneously lifted her now-inhabited Tupperware trap contraption.

Holding it gingerly in front of her, she left the room.

I put Squirrel down and let the other cats approach the carpet, which they sniffed enthusiastically, while eyeing me balefully. I could almost hear their little unspoken cat curses.

Lydia came back inside a few minutes later.

“It was definitely alive,” she reported. “I felt bad. I’m not sure if I was saving it or dooming it, putting it out in the cold.” She paused. “So, I decided to let it out right by Dad’s outdoor office so it might be able to slip underneath and stay warm.”

We’re just not going to mention that to Kurt.

SOLC Day 14: To Retouch or Not?

March 2022 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.

I don’t consider myself a misanthrope, but I much, much, much prefer my scenery without people in it. I’ve been known to grumble a bit a lot when other wanderers move into my scene and then have the audacity to LINGER there and enjoy the view. The nerve! 

I mean, how oblivious could this guy be?

At any rate, this morning I was looking over a couple of photos I’d recently taken. On this particular day, I’d adjusted my view to avoid some people who inconsiderately got in the way my husband and daughter, but because of that, many of the images felt chopped off. I finally settled on the one I liked the most, but it still had a figure in it. The figure (aka my husband) was far off in the distance and I honestly couldn’t decide if this might be one of the rare times that a person enhanced the photo.

So I decided to play around with the image a bit. I clicked on Edit, then scrolled down to Retouch. I adjust the size, fiddled around with some things and then clicked on my husband…
and he disappeared.

Oh! That felt so odd. Poof! And he was gone.

Better picture or not, I really didn’t like that.

Command Z.

Phew! There he is again. Ok, that feels better.

But honestly, which picture do you prefer?

SOLC Day 13: On Daylight Savings

March 2022 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.

On the horizon light spills over into day. Walking into the kitchen, I glance at the wall clock. 5:24. I tap my Fitbit to see if it needs charging. 6:24.


I’m thoroughly befuddled for a long moment… until I remember: Today is Daylight Savings. Someone had mentioned it a day or two ago, but I had totally forgotten. I fight the sensation of already being behind. 

Outside, the birds are already busy, scrabbling amongst yesterday’s snow for yesterday’s seed.  Flitting in and out from the feeders. Retreating from the birch to the apple tree and beyond. They’re still a bit shadowy in the dim light, but I can identify them: Junco. Mourning dove. Gold finch. Tufted titmouse. White-breasted nuthatch. Downy woodpecker. There’s such satisfaction in naming them. Such quiet pleasure in watching them. 

Do they know it’s an hour later than they thought?

How arbitrary this thing we call time is. 

SOLC Day 12: A Generous Morning

March 2022 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.

I woke to a world drenched overnight. With the sun hidden behind layered clouds, it felt like a time between. The air clung to the last remnants of rain. Droplets spangled tree branches, glowing silver in the dim light. I could feel the tug of the river, the mist, the layered trees.

So off I went, camera in hand. I wandered from place to place. Stopping when the mood hit me, to walk and soak in the atmosphere. Content to let the morning unfold around me.

At the river winter’s muted palette still reigns. Moody. Mysterious. (Note the eagle in the tallest tree.)

Pools, droplets and puddles caught my eye.

Eagles abounded. Immatures and adults. Far off and nearby. Perched and in flight.

Every where I turned something pulled my attention. I let my focus drift from one thing to another.

I drove to another nearby river, hoping to see the red-winged blackbirds in its adjacent marshes, drawn by the atmosphere. Shapes cloaked and shadowed. Pockets of mist in the distance.

I parked and walked. The landscape stretched out, bleak and empty. Until suddenly it erupted into movement. Then settled again. Like an exhale. Inhale. Exhale.

A dreary morning.
A generous morning.
A morning to wander.
A morning to wonder.
A morning to celebrate.

SOLC Day 11: Did she really say that?!

March 2022 SOLC–Day 11
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.

(Today I went seeking “treasure” in my drafts file and opted to complete an old unfinished slice.)

“I don’t have a snack,” he said.

“Oh,” I replied. “I think we’re out. Why don’t you go ask the nurse? While you’re there, see if she has some extra snacks that we can keep in the room.”

I knew that the nurse had a supply of snacks available through a grant program. I’d been meaning to pick up some more, but hadn’t found the time to do so yet. This would be a good way to kill two birds with one stone.

A few minutes later, the student re-entered the room with a couple of protein bars in his hand.

“Oh, did she have any more for the class?”

“She said to tell you that she doesn’t have time to waste her time doing that right now and you’ll have to come down and do it later.”

Whoa! I thought, slightly taken aback. That doesn’t sound like Kim!

Later in the day, I bumped into Kim and relayed the story.

Laughing, she protested, “I did NOT say that!”

“Sure…” I said, laughing along.

At the end of the day, Kim popped into the classroom holding a bulging bag of snacks.

“Here!” she said, “I wanted to make sure you had some snacks.”

We both laughed again.

I’m still not sure what happened earlier when the student asked Kim for some snacks, but I’m pretty sure his version of her response was slightly skewed. Either way, at least we’re set for snacks now!

SOLC Day 10: Checking Out

March 2022 SOLC–Day 10
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.

Driving home from school yesterday afternoon, I glanced down at the clock.


Ok, so I’ll get home around 5:30. Hmmmm. Would it be that bad if I just go to sleep when I get home?

I wasn’t kidding. Crawling into my bed sounded like the best thing I could imagine. I was 100% beat. No particular new reason. Just feeling the weight of the world. Ready to check out and reboot.

I continued musing. Even if I wake up in the middle of the night, so what? Tomorrow’s only one day to get through and then Friday’s a PD day. I could make it. It might not be pretty but I could do it.

I drove down the long hill toward the river. At the stop sign at the bottom of the hill a police cruiser with lights flashing blocked the road to the right. He waved me through to the left. As I turned, I saw several other sets of flashing lights in the distance. Clearly there had been an accident, and it looked like it must have been a bad one. My heart went out to those involved. Continuing unscathed on my way, I felt thankful but also oddly vulnerable.

How quickly someone’s day or even life can be upended.

And I was still utterly exhausted.

I got home and unpacked my bags. Did a little of this. A little of that. I tried to convince myself to stay up. Failed. Ultimately, I couldn’t really think of any good reason to do so.

At 6 pm I headed up to bed.

Sometimes you just need to check out.