Found Poem

Thank you to the team at Two Writing Teachers for hosting this month’s Slice of Life Story Challenge!  It’s been incredible to be a part of this community over the past four weeks. 

 Like many other slicers, I’ve spent some time this morning just looking back over the past month.  March did not end as it began; the month had highs and lows.  Looking back, I’ve taken the lead of Diane Anderson from newtreemom and arranged my titles of the last 30 days into a found poem.

To the other slicers whose work I’ve enjoyed over the last month, and to my readers and commenters,  I say thank you.  

 

March, Two Thousand Twenty

 

The Post not Taken

Metaphors

Just Look Down

I am Not a Cat

 

My Favorite Words

Too Good to Pass Up

PB and J Memories

Books

Seed Catalogs

I Like to Ride My Bicycle

An Unexpected Pleasure

We’ve Got a Lulu

Nana is Home

Hug Avalanche

 

Tests and Tech

Vintage Tech

Voting

Tunes and Technology

Devices

Be Careful Little Eyes

 

Thinking About Thinking

Learning Something New

I Might Need This Someday

Today is the Day

Virus

Say Again?

These are Difficult Days

I Wonder What Will Happen Next

When the Story Comes to Me

 

 

I Like to Ride My Bicycle

Let me get settled into my rocking chair before I begin.  Ahhh.  I’m ready.

“Ehh, let me see, where was I?  Oh, right: back when I was a kid…I mean, back when I was a kid, I just got on my bike and rode.” 

Things aren’t so easy now.  At least, not for our grandkids.

We’re blessed to have them living just a few miles down the road, but their house doesn’t have any place for our kindergarten-age granddaughters to learn how to ride.

My wife and I have a wonderful neighborhood, but–for some reason–when “they” made our streets, they gave them a tremendous crown.  True story: When my wife and I walk, we sometimes walk down the middle of the (not very busy) street so our downhill knees don’t hurt.  There’s quite a crown, and it’s not very conducive to learning how to ride a bike.

That’s a problem, because my wife and I both love to ride and dream of the day when we can all head out and just ride for miles.  Someday!

So, we pack ‘em up: The girls, the bikes, the helmets, a snack, some water, whatever the “toy of the day” is for each of the girls to carry in their baskets, and we head out for level ground.

Fortunately, we have a school just down the road that has a beautiful track.  This morning was a beautiful day for riding, and we gave it a shot. Mind you, no hair was figuratively tousled by the wind (the downside of helmets) since the girls crawled along at a snail’s pace, but we’re getting there.  Nana and I walked, the girls sort of rode, and progress was made.

It won’t be long, and we’ll be pedaling for hours.  I can’t wait! 

 

Today is the Day

Today’s the day.  

I can see it all over my dog’s face: Today is the day. 

Earlier this morning, maybe 30 minutes ago, Lulu followed me out as I walked toward the back of the yard to attend to our small flock of chickens.  She’s a tangled mess of a little black maltese mix, weighing in at about 10 pounds soaking wet, and she walked that carefree walk that dogs walk, her ears flopping gently with each step and her muscles relaxed.  

Then, she sensed the squirrel.  

Her tormentor.  The bane of her existence.  The squirrel.

She bolted ahead of me, her high pitched bark echoing off the neighboring houses.  Early on Sunday morning. Great.

This squirrel cracks me up.  She lives in the roof of one of our outbuildings, and is a constant presence in the yard.  She torments the dog intentionally, I know she does. She’ll actually walk back down the tree toward Lulu, chirping and chittering, knowing she’s safely out of reach.

As always, the squirrel left the ground and found refuge on her branch in the pecan tree.  Lulu circled the tree a few times, then took her position at its base.  The squirrel, as always, took hers on a branch some 15 feet above.

They’re both still there.  

I, on the other hand, am enjoying a cup of coffee on the porch, knowing that my ever-vigilant protector is on the job.

Today’s the day.  She will get the squirrel.  Today’s the day.

 

Vintage Tech

Have you ever known someone–heck, are you someone–who walks into a room and immediately wonders why he or she went there?  I’m not that way often, but if I had a nickel for every cup of coffee I’ve left sitting on the kitchen counter when I go to school, I could just buy a cup for both of us.  I’m forgetful. Sometimes.

Getting back to walking out the door, when I leave in the morning to go to school (and I will again, someday), I have a little chant that I say to myself: “Watch, wallet, keys, badge, phone, memory stick, whistle, love of a good woman…yep, I’ve got it all.”  As I say it, I’m patting various pockets, checking things off as I feel them.

Here’s the thing, though: I don’t even carry all of those anymore.  I don’t need a whistle since, as a STEM coach, I don’t have a class to bring in from the playground.  Nor do I need my memory stick (USB drive), because, well, the cloud. My files are floating around somewhere, but not in my pocket.

Why, since I’m not at school today, did this come to my mind earlier this morning?  

Well, I’ve actually started doing some of the cleaning that I told myself I was going to do over this unplanned break, and I came across a piece of what is now vintage technology.  You know, over 10 years old. 

It’s an old “E-Book.”  Back when I was working on my master’s degree, I needed a laptop but couldn’t afford one.  E-books, computers that kept files in the cloud, were just coming out and were affordable. I didn’t like it because it didn’t have a hard drive for file storage, but it served its purpose well.

Fast forward ten years, and now all of my files are in the cloud (with the exception of the thousands of pictures living on my desktop still).  This old thing might be worth having!

The battery is charging, and I think I remember the password.  

Do I need it?  Of course not, but I’d better not get rid of it because I might some day!

Just kidding.  It’s a factory reset away from being recycled.

 

I Am Not a Cat

“I am a cat.”

“I am not a rat.”

“The little fat cat sat on the fat rat.”

The fact that we can use language, especially written language, is a miracle.  Period.

The poet Howard Nemerov, in his “September, the First Day of School,” described written language–“the alphabet, the integers”– as 

Three dozen bits and pieces of a stuff

So arbitrary, so peremptory,

That worlds invisible and visible

Bow down before it…  

I’ve always loved that description, just as I love the poem.

This morning I watched as my oldest granddaughter, the subject of many of my writings, labored through some of the phrases I’d printed on a paper for her to read. She’s juuusst about got her letters and sounds down (that pesky b-d reversal, and for some reason h and k are giving her fits this week), and we’re working on sight words and consonant-vowel-consonant words.

But she’s doing it.  She’s reading. She, like countless others before her, is learning to make meaning out of those squiggles covering a piece of paper.

She’s doing it.

 

Metaphors

Honestly, I prefer metaphors when they don’t apply to me.  Really.  

I’m a person with more than a few hobbies.  I’m interested in just about everything, and over the years have dabbled (or more than dabbled) in everything from my fairly constant woodworking to my current pottery attempts. 

I’ve tried painting with a number of media, I’ve done a number of things with textiles, and I’ve even earned a bit of spending money making macrame plant hangers in the 70s.  

Those are back now, maybe I should look into them again.

Hiking, camping, canoeing and kayaking are all things I enjoy doing, and I love teaching about the outdoors, so I’ve accumulated a library and collection of paraphernalia for that effort. 

Teaching is a hobby unto itself, in addition to being a full time job.

All these things, and more, have left me with a lot of stuff.  

Gardening and yard work.  I’m not going to say I love it, but I do enjoy it.  Today has been a beautiful day here in north Alabama, and I’ve been outside for most of it, doing yard work.  

Mostly, pruning: removing excess growth for the good of the larger plant or space.

That’s gotten me thinking.

Ouch.  This is going to hurt.

 

Thinking About Thinking

This morning, I’ve been thinking.  

That, in turn, has taken me to thinking about thinking.  Thinking about thinking doesn’t have anything to do with what I was thinking about, but it did make me chuckle.  

Are you following this?

In a group of teachers, when one says, “thinking about thinking,” most folks automatically bring the word “metacognition” to the forefront of their, well, thinking.  We’re teachers. It’s what we do.

Me, though, in addition to thinking about metacognition, I think about the Disney cartoon/movie Beauty and the Beast.  Have you seen it?  Lately? You’ve possibly got time on your hands–check it out again, it’s a good one.

Anyway, there’s this scene where the shallow, overbearing, narcissistic antagonist Gaston is in a singing conversation with his sidekick LeFou:

(Gaston sung)

LeFou, I’m afraid I’ve been thinking

[LeFou]

A dangerous pastime—

[Gaston]

I know…

Really, it’s a classic line, and it’s worth checking out.

Like I said, though, it doesn’t have anything to do with what I was thinking about.  

I’ve been thinking about what I–and most of my readers–are doing right now.

We’re taking our words, our ideas, our celebrations, and our fears, and we’re sharing them with the world.  (Here, of course, we call them slices.)

That’s pretty cool, and that’s really, really new. The last 15 years of my life have been shared, but the first 40 or so weren’t.  

I’ve been thinking about how, through blogs, yes, but more commonly through social media, so much positivity is being spread around the world.

Unfortunately, negativity is too, but that’s the side of the coin I don’t want to dwell on right now.

To the writers participating here in this writing project, I say, “Thank you!”  

 

Note: to my readers who aren’t aware, I’m participating in a 31-day writing challenge hosted by twowritingteachers.org.  It’s awesome. Check it out.

 

Nana is Home

As is the case with most of America’s children, my granddaughters are home from school for the time being.

I’ve written before about the pleasure of being a temporary kindergarten teacher for a class of two.  I see them most days (the situation still lets us feel comfortable with that–we’re taking a lot of precautions), but my wife is normally at work.  She’s a tax preparer, and, well, ‘tis the season.

Update: It was.  Now she’s at home as well.

I call her Lisa, but my granddaughters call her “Nana.”  It’s a common occurrence for the girls to get to our house, and before they even get to me they’re asking, “Grandpa, where’s Nana?”  

I’ve gotten used to it, and it’s okay.

Today, as I’m sitting here writing this, my wife is in the kitchen with the girls.  They’re practicing handwriting with a tablet app, and I love the sound. They’re giving her play-by-play of what they’re doing, their voices in a sing-song more often than not.  The app’s music is playing softly, the girls’ banter is constant, and Nana’s unceasing interaction fills my heart with happiness.  

The world is upside down right now, but for these minutes I’m able to set that aside.  

I’m grateful, more than I can express.

 

PB and J Memories

It’s funny how memories come back at the strangest of times.

I love peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.  I really do.  

I normally make them on some sort of wheat bread, one those large, soft loaves you buy from the store.  I love homemade bread when I can get it, and sometimes–as a treat–I’ll go with sourdough.  

This afternoon for lunch, I ate a few leftovers (mostly vegetables), then decided I needed a sandwich as well.

Two slices of bread, a healthy slathering of peanut butter (crunchy…it’s almost always crunchy) on one piece of bread, and a significant dollop of strawberry jelly smeared on the other: that’s a good sandwich.  I picked up the knife to slice it in two, and a memory hit me.

Well over 40 summers ago during my early teenage years, I was involved in some sort of activity that had me out of the house during the day.  I don’t remember what it was, nor do I remember the circumstances in which my mom packed my lunch one of those days. Honestly, I don’t think she always packed my lunch, but that one particular day she did.

For whatever reason, a friend of hers was over at the house that morning, and she was in the kitchen with my mom.

It’s funny how the details are blurred.  Be assured, though, if I can’t remember them exactly, I’ll embellish them the best that I can.

Anyway, she–the friend–asked me if I wanted my sandwich cut in half.

I don’t think “snarky” was a word back then, but apparently my response to her question struck her a certain way.

“Of course I want it cut,” I must have said.  Or something along those lines. I don’t believe I was rude, but I think I already mentioned I was a teenager.

Some hours later, my ravenous teenage self opened a Tupperware container to find my peanut butter sandwich cut in half.  Those halves were cut in half, those cut again, and probably another few times after that.

My sandwich was cubed, at best.

I survived that day, and I enjoyed my sandwich this day.  Not nearly as much as the memory, though.

 

Books

Books.

Um, I might have a problem (I say to the choir).

Just the other day, I wrote a slice about blowing the dust off a book that I needed to help my granddaughter with her reading.  Wow, was I glad I had that book.

That said, I still might have a problem.

I have bookshelves in nearly every room of the house, and I still have…well, I still have stacks.  Not large stacks, but what I call working stacks.  You know: I’m working with these, or these are what I’m currently reading.

The problem, you see, is that I don’t have room on the shelves should I not want to have working stacks in my house.

I looked in my shop this morning, and I have the wood I need to make more shelves.  

Whew.