Wednesday, March 31, 2021

SOL21 Slice 31: Caffeinated musings


I am participating in the
All participants are sharing stories about moments in their lives, writing 
 every day for the month of March 2021.
Thank you, Two Writing Teachers, for nurturing teacher-writers!

At the time, it seemed like a good idea to pilfer a few, several, and then a handful more, of my daughter-in-law's chocolate espresso beans; yes, it felt fanciful and decadent, a real indulgence, as the children were napping. She is always so welcoming of us partaking of any and all foods while babysitting; I no longer drink coffee, but continue to love the flavor, and a special exception this one time would not be so bad for the old blood pressure, right? Oh my, those espresso beans look very different when the bedside clock flashes !! 3:17 A.M. !! In the recesses of my head there is a chorus of little tiny hyper energized chocolate espresso bean voices jumping shrugging and cackling: how do you like me now? 

Do you hear them, too?

These wild, winding paths of thoughts . . . let me try to summarize this month of blogging. Woohoo! 31 days of blogging in March! Once again, I am amazed at how much I observe during this month of writing, how each day I am more present and attuned, gathering ideas for a post. 

Writing seems to take on a life of its own, as if fueled by espresso.

Of course, there are always so many extra things that never make it into the posts at all. 

What are some of those random thoughts that never went anywhere, yet still echo in my brain? Let me share them now, simply for the fun of it. Who knows, maybe one of these will be a kernel of some future writing . . .

  • the growing list of all our phrases that just flow from her lips now, always catching us off-guard, a two year old mimic of all the adults in her life - "in my humble opinion," "keep the faith!" "cutey-batootie," "hit the road, jack," "keep your eyes peeled," "whoomp, there it is!," "well, that was unexpected." 
  • the beautiful great blue heron that we see regularly down at the creek, how Tony and I were thrilled to see it in a lovely cove, up close and personal - we crept so softly towards it, so as not to disturb the heron sheltered by a tree, only to discover it was not the heron but simply a clever contortion of a plastic bag adorning a branch. Yes, plastics: the new nature.
  • my daily angel cards, how one very busy day with so many things that I had to get done, I thought beforehand: what I really need to pick is the word "efficiency," and then I did, in fact, coincidentally, truly, choose the word "efficiency" and I thought - wow - I had the power to bring the future into the present, and this is how I used it? to choose a random card from a pile?
  • she is always so tightly wound, and full of anxiety, the one who dominates our group conversations; listening to her detailed angry story this time, I was aware how much like an alarm her voice is, with every second syllable heavily accented - and THEN he SAID he WON'T, da Da, da Da, da DA. I am also aware that she has worn me down, the alarm is that of a distant car for which I am not responsible. How to keep friends with friends who don't fix their stuff? What do our very voices tell us about our emotional state?
  • the reawakening experience of riding down a slide that was imperceptibly wet, with my two-year-old granddaughter on my lap - I had not anticipated the sensation of wet, and I felt so sopping cold "inside" my clothes, as the moisture instantaneously soaked through to my thighs, my underwear, my tush; not a sensation I have experienced in years and years, or ever hope to have again. I spent the morning with a wet and muddy tush, feeling so guilty about the many times I - as teacher - resisted taking a little tyke in from the playground, after they had slid down a wet slide, because I 'knew' it was no big deal. Oh my, I was wrong. 
Yes, those are some of the random places my writing brain has gone this month!

Thank you Two Writing Teachers!! Writing with the Two Writing Teachers community this March 2021 has been both a blessing and a delight! 

"don't write out of what I know; I write out of what I wonder."
- Lucille Clifton

Tuesday, March 30, 2021

SOL21 Slice 30: Gift of a day


I am participating in the
All participants are sharing stories about moments in their lives, writing 
 every day for the month of March 2021.
Thank you, Two Writing Teachers, for nurturing teacher-writers!

I just spent an absolutely beautiful day babysitting my granddaughters (2 1/2 years old and 5 months old). It was a day that begged to be spent outside every possible moment. So fabulous! Here's a little ditty of a poem that I wrote as the two little ones were napping in the late afternoon, telling the story of our day.

Outside This Day Must Be

Tender breeze and bright soft sun
No jacket or sweaters to wear 
First day like this we've seen
Outside this day must be

Make a pile of pretty rocks
Pull weed flowers from the lawn 
Look closer at buds in the tree
Outside this day must be

Into the wheelbarrow you go
Around and around we run
Bumps and curves met with glee
Outside this day must be

Bring out the chalk and draw
How about we roll down the hill?
Now for some hide and seek
Outside this day must be

Spread the blanket on the lawn
Here's a snack for just us two
Lay here right next to me
Outside this day must be

Was there ever a sky so blue?
Have you seen two birds play chase?
Did you know ants can lift seeds?
Outside this day must be

"I don't remember who said this,
but there really are 
places in the heart you don't even know exist
until you love a child"
- Anne Lamott

March Poetry

Earlier this month, in the midst of the Two Writing Teachers blogging challenge, I participated in the five-day March poetry Open Write with Ethical ELA. It was a dizzying five days, trying to write a "slice of life" for Two Writing Teachers and, additionally, create a special poem for the suggested inspiration. I thought I'd share my five poems here, just to document the experience. I am really giving short-shrift to the writing process of these poems; it truly was a fun and challenging writing endeavor. 

In April, I will attempt the Ethical ELA VerseLove - 30 days of poetry writing; I did this for the first time last year and enjoyed it so very much.

Day One: write about a childhood memory - inspiration by Dr. Kimberly Johnson

Here's my poem: Meet you at Heckerd’s!

Meet you at Heckerd’s!
must have asked permission
someone was first
all I know is
kids had been playing on his front lawn 
since long before we moved in

Meet you at Heckerd’s!
Mr. Heckerd’s front lawn
the only one on the street without 
trees or shrubs or flowers or 
a concrete sidewalk to divide it up into parts
just one big rectangle of bare grass

Meet you at Heckerd’s! 
Mr. Heckerd lived alone
the only house on the street that wasn’t bursting 
with children or pets or relatives or wiggliness of any kind
just him and
all of us 

Meet you at Heckerd’s!
every kid in the neighborhood 
every afternoon after school every day all summer
impromptu football, frisbee, footraces, flags to be captured,
he saw it all from his front window
our laughter and our bickering 
so much foolishness and sweat
children at play
he welcomed it all

Meet you at Heckerd’s!

Day Two: Write a pantoum; this is the basic format of a pantoum  - inspiration by Dr. Kimberly Johnson

  1. Begin by writing four original lines.
    1 2 3 4

  2. REPEAT lines 2 and 4 and expand ideas in lines 5 and 6:
    2 5 4 6

  3. REPEAT lines 5 and 6, expand ideas in lines 7 and 8:
    5 7 6 8

  4. FINALLY, repeat lines 1, 3, 7 and 8 in the following order:
    7 3 8 1

(I did not follow the pantoum form precisely)

Here's my poem: the shortcut

the shortcut:
walk past the Marines at the base gate
immediate turn wander sneak through the woods
to the back entrance of my new high school

after I walk past the Marines I find
fringe kids there they sat on fallen trees smoking weed
right outside the back door of my new high school
another world indeed

free spirited fallen forgotten fringe there they sat 
seeing me, welcoming me to join them too
another world indeed
me, rule-follower new friendless alone

welcoming me to join them, seeing me 
sneaking through the overgrown weedy woods
me, rule-follower sitting smokeless with my first friends
the shortcut

Day Three: Table of Contents Poem - inspiration by Dr. Kimberly Johnson

Why I Write Poetry

























Day Four: License Plate Poetry (no vowels!) - inspiration by Katrina Morison







Day Five: Backwards Poem (it is read right to left) - inspiration by Katrina Morison.

child young a as

rod fishing bamboo a found I

pond a alongside lying

stuck softly mud the in

thought I fishes one how be must this

hook rusty with line the tossed I

water green brown the into

luck for waiting calmly stood

surprise my explain to how

long so eel an was catch my

learned I when that’s perhaps

bobber a be to best it’s

connected on holding

ways invisible small in helping

flow the with going

Hope you enjoyed these poems! I will have many more this April . . . .

Monday, March 29, 2021

SOL21 Slice 29: Elephants live here


I am participating in the
All participants are sharing stories about moments in their lives, writing 
 every day for the month of March 2021.
Thank you, Two Writing Teachers, for nurturing teacher-writers!

We raced to the boat along the most verdant green coastline . . . she was only ten years old then and I had just turned 40 . . . we made it just in time, and climbed onto the back, into the thick rope netting that covered the whole end of the boat . . . yes, we just held on for dear life, squished in behind the sisal coils, embedding ourselves within . . . unbelievably, we were stowaways . . . 

No, I'm not going to share a dream, that is lame, I already did that this month. 

I stood in the quiet kitchen, watching my tea steep, aware of the sun's shadow across the kitchen floor, and wondered,

What to write?

I moved into the bedroom, sat down in my writing chair, and opened up my journal again. Well, I could write about that, though my husband may very well not see the same humor as I do, and I would never want to hurt his feelings - certainly, not in a public blog. 

I sipped my tea. The birds are happy this morning. Let me think. Hmm, if I write THAT, after just spending time with them, oh - no, that's not appropriate.

I wrote a little more into my journal, and then put my pen down and returned to the kitchen, where I began prepping the ingredients for lentil soup. We haven't had lentil soup in awhile . . . it would be delicious with cornbread . . . I continued to sift through blog topics.

Nope, that is THEIRS to share, not mine.

My old colleague used to love my lentil soup. I wonder how she's doing? I haven't talked to her in years. It's much too early to make the soup, but good to know I have what I need. I have what I need. I have what I need. What I need is a writing topic . . . .

Oh - that reminds me. I could write into that, change the context a little bit . . . no, she would see right through it, know it was that moment I was referencing, and probably never confide in me again.

Jumping jacks! That's what I need to do! Movement has a way of breaking down all sorts of mental barriers. Head to the basement, a few quick exercises. Punch the punching bag. (When IS my son going to move this out of here?) Oh my goodness, I am so lousy at push ups, so bad at this. 

Back to my writing chair, remembering. Oh, THAT! Well, he told that story so well, he should write it down - it's not mine to offer. He sure had me laughing, though. 

Here I am at the very end of this 31 day challenge (day 29, woohoo!) and the work of my writing seems far more labor intensive. This year, I am working very hard to actually write the slice from the day's events - or memories triggered from the day's events. I always journal first, simply free-write whatever is on my mind, and then sift through and find some nugget that is story/slice worthy. 

I guess today's post is about what I am NOT writing. Ha. 

It's as if I am surrounded by "SECRETS" - things that I feel are not really mine to share. Even a seemingly clever little insight becomes a full stop dead end. Elephants everywhere! (Don't mention them.) The journal receives, but not the blog. 

Maybe I am just a wimpy writer.

I will tell you, we remembered to pull in the porch cushions yesterday before the rain. That's a rare triumph here. The sun is shining brightly today, and I think I will sit out there for a bit, on the nice dry cushions, and just enjoy the cool air . . . oh, and there will be delicious soup for dinner.

"You must be unintimidated by your own thoughts 
because if you write with someone looking over your shoulder, 
you'll never write." 

- Nikki Giovanni

Sunday, March 28, 2021

SOL21 Slice 28: From the ashes


I am participating in the
All participants are sharing stories about moments in their lives, writing 
 every day for the month of March 2021.
Thank you, Two Writing Teachers, for nurturing teacher-writers!

No one was around when I slipped into the portico, found the small box and fished out the little dime-size plastic baggy, which I quickly zipped into my jacket pocket, and then I continued on with my run. If someone had seen me, they may have been somewhat suspicious - what was I up to with such furtive movement? Well, to collect ashes for celebrating a virtual Ash Wednesday . . . that was some five weeks ago, the start of Lent. Today is Palm Sunday, and I breezed by the church portico again to pick up palms, to wave from our couch during the virtual service. Yes, it is a little - or a lot? - strange to be experiencing Lent in this virtual way, yet - in the big scheme of things, isn't it remarkable how we are persevering? 

We are finding new ways.

Lent has meant more to me than it has in many, many years. It's emphasis on wilderness, sacrifice, and loss has been especially poignant during this season of pandemic. This Lent is also the first without both of my parents - and I have been flooded with memories of my Catholic childhood, the strict observance of all the rituals and traditions: 
  • Fat Tuesday where I ate all the naughty things I intended to give up during Lent, 
  • followed by Ash Wednesday and ashes in the sign of the cross on my forehead, 
  • meatless Fridays (this is such a non-issue for me as an adult - I rarely eat meat on any day), 
  • praying the rosary,
  • Palm Sunday (this was the LONGEST Mass, oh my, oh my, I'd adjust my sitting position on that cold, hard pew over and over and there was no mercy, no escape, the readings went on and on and on), 
  • foot washing on Maundy Thursday, 
  • stations of the cross on Good Friday (the only day of the year that Mass is not celebrated; I really enjoyed this service, with almost a 'story-telling' of the life and crucifixion of Jesus)
  • ending with Easter Sunday service, where I always wore a nice, new, spring Easter dress. 
I stopped practicing Catholicism in college and, although I still consider myself Christian, all these rituals and traditions pretty quickly became a thing of the past. 

this pandemic, 
combined with both my parents deceased, 
magnified the symbolism of Lent for me,
brought all those childhood memories back.

When my own (progressive Christian) church offered these familiar symbols - the ashes, the palms - in our church portico, I felt called to go by and get some. 

This year, this year, this year. 

I decided to just surrender to whatever grief-fueled, 'flashback,' confusing emotion I am feeling, dare to participate in Lent as much as I felt inclined to do, and see where it might lead. I decided to go on my own personal, inward journey, not one tied to any particular creed. Surprisingly - actually, as I write, I am realizing that this isn't really surprising at all - I have found so much strength and solace in nature. Take for example this extraordinary tree I discovered:

You might be thinking - wait, that is no tree. You are right, it's just the remains. It's the hollow remains of a tree's trunk. Arborists have been identifying diseased trees in our local park, and this big, old tree was cut down, leaving only a 4 foot section of its stump (to be removed later, I'm sure). I couldn't believe the sight when I peered into the trunk - decay, rot, worn, uneven irregular edges, strange fungus and molds growing within, and totally hollowed out at its core. There are so many different colors and textures to death. Just one week ago, this tree was tall, thick, and strong-looking (to my non-arborist eye), growing on the bank of the creek, and now it is gone - and, from this look inside its trunk, I see that it was already long "going." This rot did not happen overnight, it was deep within. How long did it take to become so diseased? How early in the tree's life did the decay begin? What went wrong that it grew this way? 

I looked again into this hollowed trunk, and do you know what I saw? Through the hollow of the tree, I could see the water in the creek. Yes - water, flowing. It was amazing to be able to see all the way through the tree into the creek itself. I was filled with this sense of awe - oh my, this is ashes to ashes. Cycles, continuous cycles of life, life going on.

This Lent, I feel the passage of time, 
this keen sense 
of past, 
of gone, 
of forever. 
Yes, there is so much that is broken.
Yet, there is so much that turns me toward hope.
I continue "to rejoice in the precious now" (my minister's words on Ash Wednesday). 

"There is always something left to love.
And if you ain't learned that, 
you ain't learned nothing."
- Lorraine Hansberry

Saturday, March 27, 2021

SOL21 Slice 27: Balancing


I am participating in the
All participants are sharing stories about moments in their lives, writing 
 every day for the month of March 2021.
Thank you, Two Writing Teachers, for nurturing teacher-writers!

His tiny legs straddled the tiny little balance bike, pumping the ground, propelling him quickly forward; as usual, I had spotted a preschooler. It is as if some magical machine makes them appear wherever I am. He was riding on the walking path at the top of the berm, alongside the pond, just a little bit ahead of his family. Behind my mask, I smiled, as I approached him on the path, thinking about the fun he was having, and how fun it must be to be so high up, looking down at the pond. I was headed to my car, after a socially-distanced walk with friends.

All of a sudden, with the confidence and blind faith that defines this age, the little preschooler and his bike left the walking path and began to zoom diagonally down the twenty-foot high berm itself, with the pond as his immediate destination.

Oh my, NO!

I ran diagonally down the berm as quickly as I could, 
towards him, 
and his mother ran diagonally down from the other way, 
behind him, 
with unbelievable speed, 
so very, very quickly - 
there is NOTHING like a parent's adrenaline, is there? - 
and she was yelling the same thing, 

Just at the pond's edge, Mom stopped that bike and embraced him so tightly, and he looked at her with such a big, happy smile, as if thinking - "Oh, wasn't that exciting?!" 

I was just a couple feet away . . . perhaps I would have made it in time? I'd rather not think about it. 

"They keep you on your toes, don't they?" I called, cheerily, and climbed back up the berm and continued walking to my car. 

Funny, I had just been stewing about the crowds. My friends and I had just walked alongside so many others who had the exact same idea, "let's go to the park." I hadn't really enjoyed the walk at all - the sheer number of people was daunting and I found myself more preoccupied by THE STRANGERS MILLING AROUND ME rather than my walking companions, and that's not a good thing. 

Yes, there were far too many people in the park on this beautiful weather day. It is amazing, though, how we have mastered these pandemic rules - all along the way, every small group of walkers kept distanced from everyone else, as if we had choreographed our moves. Everyone was in masks (required by in our county parks); no one dashed into my walking space or anything. 

Until my little preschool friend.

"I thrive on obstacles. If I'm told that it can't be told, then I push harder."
- Issa Rae

Friday, March 26, 2021

SOL21 Slice 26: Marvelous March


I am participating in the
All participants are sharing stories about moments in their lives, writing 
 every day for the month of March 2021.
Thank you, Two Writing Teachers, for nurturing teacher-writers!

Today is one marvelous March day
without a lot to show for it
to share some verbal snapshots with some alliterative fun . . .

Spring: seedlings stirring, stretching in soil
I did a little walk around my yard and I am just delighted with my finds. Both the columbine and bleeding heart plants are poking their wispy heads through the hard soil. The daffodils, forsythia, and lenten roses are blossoming and looking spectacular, and the wood hyacinths are just about to pop. I've found several surprise 'volunteers' - gifts from the birds, I always say - including a lamb's ear plant growing exactly where I might have planted it myself, in a nice section of the front yard garden. Oh, I love this season!

March means missing mittens in mud -
Tony and I went for a long walk along the creek. We hadn't walked very far when I noticed this nice, waterproof, warm mitten languishing in the mud along the path, encapsulating the fickleness of our weather here in the D.C. area. Several overnights this past week have been near freezing, yet today's weather is in the low 80s. Whoever lost that dear little mitten sometime earlier in the week is never going to remember to look for it now.

"Pulling the Putin" - pecs and performance -
We saw so many teenage boys getting exercise in shorts and bare chests. It's one of those "it happens every spring" moments, isn't it?  The first warm day of the season seems to demand it. I was only a few minutes into our walk when I wanted to lose some of my own layers - why in the world did I put on a long pair of jeans? 

Wild wind whipping, whisking wood branches -
As we walked, we would occasionally hear the roar of the wind followed immediately by a crack, crunch, bang, slap of branches falling. This certainly kept us very alert! No large pieces fell into our path, though we saw one long branch fall some distance away from us. Thankfully, the branch simply hit the ground, and did not land on anyone or anything. March has only a few more days to go "out like a lamb."

Red-breasted robins running, rarely reached -
When we got back to the house, I found about a dozen blurred images of the woods along the creek, all missing the robin that was my focus, the reason I was taking the photos. So funny. The robins seemed to be everywhere along our walk - bathing in puddles, scurrying through the brush, jumping on fallen trees. Well, they are a nice memory - they are definitely NOT on my phone. I did try! I'll enclose a photo of my husband's feet - ha! That's as close and as clear a photo of the robin that I got, hahahaha.

That's it for today! Our 26th day of this blogging challenge - woohoo! The finish line is just around the corner!

"First forget inspiration. Habit is more dependable. 
Habit will sustain you whether you're inspired or not. 
Habit will help you finish and polish your stories. 
Inspiration won't. 
Habit is persistence in practice." 
- Octavia E. Butler

Thursday, March 25, 2021

SOL21 Slice 25: It's a wash


I am participating in the
All participants are sharing stories about moments in their lives, writing 
 every day for the month of March 2021.
Thank you, Two Writing Teachers, for nurturing teacher-writers!

As usual, I have a mountain of cold water wash casual clothes, and just a slight molehill of lights and whites for the hot water wash. Laundry is a breeze these days, with just the two of us, retired, no pressure whatsoever. We wear what we like, whenever we like. You might say, it simply folds into my day - hahaha.

I think laundry must be one of those experiences that you can't imagine ever being different until all of a sudden it is.

When my boys were growing up, it seemed as if the washer or dryer was in constant use. The work and school week demanded thinking ahead, what clothes would be worn when? Of course, there were also endless surprises - someone needing this or that specific thing to be cleaned right away, at the very last minute. There was a dirty clothes hamper on each floor, by the bedrooms, and these were always overflowing. The shelves of the laundry room were always overflowing. So much laundry, laundry, laundry . . . no, in the midst of it all, I couldn't imagine it would ever be different.

I think back to how many loads of light clothes I washed as a kid, when all of Dad's uniform khakis had to be laundered. Oh my, that laundry was really the very definition of the word 'chore.' As the only girl in a religiously conservative home, doing laundry was my responsibility and mine alone for many years, beginning around the age of eight or nine. I had to be right there, present, when the dryer turned off, with the iron hot and ready. I would grab the white underwear t-shirts first and fold them up into thirds neatly; if I caught them when they were still warm, they'd be wrinkle-free and good to go. I had to press each pair of those khaki pants with a perfect crease down the front. I always had a hard time with his shirts; over and over, I would press the collar and the sleeves, to get them just right. My favorite piece to iron was his white handkerchief, that thin square of cotton white, so easy to press out all the wrinkles. Is a handkerchief part of the Navy uniform? I should look that up sometime. Even though I myself did the ironing, it still seems almost crazy that I pressed his underwear boxers - they had to be wrinkle-free in case of inspection. What a strange thing for the military to care about! 

Fast forward: one evening a week, after work, Dad would throw a load of his own laundry into the washer, and then retire to the den to quietly and slowly smoke a cigar. I was now 16 years old and we had been transferred to a naval base in Maine, after living many years in Virginia. I guess it was one move too many for my Mom? She decreed I was responsible for my brothers' and my clothes only, and that Dad would do his own laundry henceforth - he was not to hand it over to me, ever. There were two laundry bins in the bottom of their bedroom closet, one for his soiled things and one for hers. Dad would wash and iron his own clothes (far less ironing to do, because 'permapress' was a thing now). Mom washed her own things, too, at a separate time during the week. What argument, misunderstanding, marital rift had led to this? Oh my, I will never know. 

It's just kind of funny to think back on - I mean, they shared the same bed still. They shared the same closet. They did NOT share the laundry machine. They did their laundry separately for the remainder of their lives, until dementia set in and caregivers took it over - daring to wash their things together again.

What was that about? They have taken that story with them to their graves. 

It's all a wash now, isn't it?

"Housework never really bothered me . . . 
what bothered me about it later was that it was expected to be your life . . . 
when you're a housewife, you are constantly interrupted. 
You have no space in your life. 
It isn't the fact that you do the laundry."

- Alice Munro

Wednesday, March 24, 2021

SOL21 Slice 24: Whispering


I am participating in the
All participants are sharing stories about moments in their lives, writing 
 every day for the month of March 2021.
Thank you, Two Writing Teachers, for nurturing teacher-writers!

It's a drizzly rainy spring day, all day long, soft rain is falling, nothing I can do about it. Just sit back and savor. What is it about certain kinds of rain that seem to heighten both color and sound? Seriously. I can hear the rain so clearly. The cardinals, robins, mourning doves - all are brighter. They are chirping louder, too. Truly, they are also busier, bustling about - bathing themselves in puddles, diving at readily-available worms, hopping about in the trees.

This is a day that begs to be noticed. It catches my attention in that way that adult whispers made me look up and listen when I was a child - what's going on?

Things are changing, that's what. 

Things to do in the rain -
- walk through mud
- raise my face to the clouds, laugh at the way it feels
- jump over a puddle
- head to the creek and watch the water swirl
- look for water birds, like the great blue heron
- chat with the guys who are out fishing

The puddles are bursting with reflections - check out this one from my walk earlier (who was I with?).

Things to do when I get home -
- change into dry clothes and slippers
- heat up the tea kettle
- make a batch of blueberry muffins
- sit near a window 
- read a book

A few years ago, my husband and I spent spring break in Edinburgh, Scotland, where our youngest son was spending a college semester. This day reminds me so of that trip! We spent every day in our raincoats, we spent every day having so much fun. Yes, this is an Edinburgh day! How awesome is that?

"Don't threaten me with love baby. Let's go walking in the rain."
- Billie Holiday

Tuesday, March 23, 2021

SOL21 Slice 23: Holding hands


I am participating in the
All participants are sharing stories about moments in their lives, writing 
 every day for the month of March 2021.
Thank you, Two Writing Teachers, for nurturing teacher-writers!

Check out this sweet photo:

These are the hands of four month old Bird. Since her earliest days, she has held her own hands. I suspect she did this in utero. I find it so dear. I cradle her in my arms, and there she is, her own fingers interlocked. She is self-soothing - no small thing, right? She also reaches up to grab our fingers and hands, but she loves to simply hold her own. 


Her big sister Frog (28 months old) has a different touch technique for soothing. From her earliest days, Frog has held onto the thumb of a loving adult's hand, while sucking her own thumb. Yes, she reaches for touch support from others. She reaches out for this loving thumb whenever she feels "too much" - too sad, too tired, too scared or surprised. I find this very dear, too. Yes, clasping onto an adult finger, and holding on tight, seems to soothe her. Check out my most recent photo of her reaching for my hand:

Any idea what her hands were into, before she reached for me? Frozen blueberries! Yes, I don't know why she was overcome with this need to hold my thumb in the midst of her funny little favorite snack (she loves to eat frozen blueberries), but the next thing I knew she said - "Nana?" and reached for me. How could I refuse this? Now I wonder, did she simply get too cold? Maybe one of those freeze-headache sensations, and she reached out for support? Pretty funny, pretty dear. 

I must admit, it was a strange sensation to feel that frozen, juiced hand around my thumb. I had a flashback memory of picking up the frozen, melting chunks of a popsicle after they fell onto a table. No, not my favorite sensation, but the tight hold of support from Frog 'got me through it."

It is a very dear 'ask' of me. I will miss her doing this, one day.

How important it is to touch, to hold hands. How much good it does! When I taught preschool (pre-pandemic), I held hands with those little ones most every day, for varied reasons - some need help walking up and down the stairs; some I simply needed to keep by my side for a bit; goodness knows, some needed me to hold their hand just to help them keep their balance for an unexpected change of clothes. Certainly, just like with Frog, many preschoolers found it very soothing to hold their teacher's hand when they felt sad or hurt or simply unsettled.

Holding on to my granddaughters' hands today, I wondered -
how are early learning teachers guiding children 'in-person' without touch, during this pandemic? 
How is this even possible?

I also flashed on my dear Dad, in his final days this past August. At 91 years of age, he, too, like a young child, seemed to crave touch. When I first visited him, three weeks before he died, here's how I found his hands:

Reminds me of his great granddaughter, Bird! I was able to spend a lot of time with my Dad during his last days (I am so grateful for this), and one of my most poignant memories is how much he seemed to enjoy just holding my hand. This is one of my very last photos, which I truly treasure:

That's me and Dad, holding hands.

"The touch of love awakens wonders."
- Lailah Gifty Akita