Who me? #SOL19

Ten minute PD workshop break? Just enough time to check emails. Such a busy time of year. Gotta stay on top of things.  

Hmmm. That’s interesting.

I don’t recall receiving an email from her before. Perhaps it’s one of those mass mailings to a list of people. 

Hmmm. It really is just to me.

She wants my permission to include one of my poems in an anthology? ARE YOU KIDDING? I better re-read that. NO WAY! Yes…I did read that correctly. This is a first for me.  

Breathe. Focus. 


Many thanks to the crew at Two Writing Teachers, and the extended SOL community, for giving us the time, space, and encouragement to live the writerly life here each Tuesday and every day in March. Won’t you join us?



For the Love of Trees #PoetryFriday

Prince’s Gardens, London, July 2019

Welcome to Poetry Friday, everyone! I am excited and honored to host the roundup today for only the second time. Once again, I’m sweating it out and crossing my fingers, eyes, and toes that the link up works!

Before we get started, here’s an important announcement about next week’s roundup from its host, Amy Ludwig VanDerwater. “Please note that on Poetry Friday August 23 we will celebrate the life of Lee Bennett Hopkins here at The Poem Farm. At Jone MacCulloch’s great suggestion, I invite everyone who wishes to write and share a poem inspired by or including a line from a LBH poem. Tag with #DearOneLBH. Thank you. xo, Amy.” I, like many of you I’m sure, have been thumbing through the many anthologies Lee graced us with, trying to decide which poem and which line. How to choose?

And now for this week’s roundup. I tossed out a tree theme for this week, and I can’t wait to see what some folks might share. Since I was a child, I’ve always loved trees — sitting under them, swinging from rope swings tied to them, marveling in their varied bark, leaves, and blossoms, and of course climbing them. My very first beloved poet, David McCord, unknowingly gave me permission!

Every Time I Climb a Tree by David McCord

I featured Mr. McCord’s work in a previous post, and had completely forgotten that I referenced a video of Renee LaTulippe interviewing Lee about McCord! That has a very “six degrees of separation” feel to it at the moment!

Mary Oliver adored and was inspired by trees, too. What do trees call out to you?

When I Am Among the Trees

As a writer, poet, and sometimes artist, trees continue to inspire me.

A Poet's Trees

Early Spring Trees

tall shirakaba

Tree Cookies

Even tree cookies (my Kindergarteners love this term!) speak to me — literally and figuratively!



During our trip to the UK in July, my husband and I fell completely and utterly head over heels in love with a stunning and very old linden tree on the grounds of Salisbury Cathedral, where we were staying. We had no idea where the intoxicating perfume was coming from as we walked the sacred grounds. We followed our noses and eventually spent many happy hours on the bench below it’s delicate branches throughout our stay in the cathedral close that week. The cathedral was built between 1220 and 1258, and lindens are rumored to be able to live up to 1,000 years, so who knows how old our lovely linden is!

Lovely Linden

Thanks for joining me in this arboraceous roundup. Click the link and bring on the poetry!

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

Click here to enter



Afternoon at Fairyland #PoetryFriday

It’s Poetry Friday and the uber-talented Molly Hogan is our hostess this week for the poetry roundup on her blog, Nix the Comfort Zone. Perhaps you’ll join us? Molly’s sharing a sweet poem she wrote using a found title. Don’t miss it. It’s out of this world! (Pun very much intended!) Lastly, the literary world lost two giants this week — Toni Morrison and now Lee Bennett Hopkins. The lights in the Milky Way will dim for now, but perhaps shine brighter? That’s my hope, at least.

Next week it’s my turn to host. I’ve thrown out a tree-related theme if you’d care to tag along.


My offering this week is a draft of a small poetic moment from my afternoon at Fairyland Pond, a spot I retreat to often in nearby Concord, Massachusetts. It was a favorite of Thoreau’s and is for me, too. When I first arrived, all was quiet, but then things began to change. A note on the form the poem takes. I, like many of you, enjoy a daily dose of poetry on Tracy K. Smith’s podcast The Slowdown. I’ve noticed that many of the poems she features are narrative in form, almost storylike. I thought I’d take the form for a test drive. Join me!

Screen Shot 2019-08-07 at 6.49.10 AM

C0BBCFD8-078C-41C7-A8EE-B41A1A323F3BThanks for hosting this week, Molly. Bring on the poetry!










My Day in Court #SOL19

So many excuses not to report for jury duty.

We just returned from two weeks away on vacation. I have jet lag, piles of laundry, mail to sort through and deal with, and weeds galore.

And there’s the sitting. Lots of sitting is involved during jury duty, right? Sitting while you wait to be picked or not. Sitting while you are listening to opening arguments, witness testimonies, closing arguments, judge’s comments, and finally deliberation. So much sitting! Sitting is painful for me at the moment. I have a bulging disc pinching a nerve in my right leg from my hip to my foot and I’ve spent the summer in pain, in the doctor’s office, taking various medications to stop inflammation and others to stop pain, having x-rays, and an MRI. My insurance company, as all do, has a plan for me. It’s not my doctor’s plan. He’d skip right to the injection I’ll finally have one week from today. But in the meantime it’s meds.

So off I go to an unfamiliar city, not too far from home, to a courthouse. A courthouse where the future of a young man will be determined. Of course I’m chosen. You knew I would be. But an understanding judge, who is familiar with my situation because of my paperwork, asks me to approach the bench and speak with him and the lawyers for the defense and prosecution. Is my head clear enough to serve? Will I be able to sit and focus without much discomfort? He asks? “Yes,” I respond. Because you know what? I’m here. It’s my duty, and it’s a privilege to serve. How many places around this world would deny this young man his day in court? How many places around this world would deny him the right to an unbiased hearing by a jury of his peers. “Yes,” I respond. “I’ll be fine. This is important.”

And who was randomly chosen jury foreperson to guide the deliberations and announce the verdict? I bet you can guess.


Many thanks to the crew at Two Writing Teachers, and the extended SOL community, for giving us the time, space, and encouragement to live the writerly life here each Tuesday and every day in March. Won’t you join us?


Differentiation at the Gym #SOL19

Two weeks ago, I started attending a great exercise class at my local gym called Active. It’s a terrific combination of cardio, weights, abs, and balance.  The instructor gives just the right amount of guidance in advance of every move. Her constant stream of directions makes it fun and accessible. And it suddenly occurred to me – the instructor is a whiz at differentiation! “If you are finding this too much of a challenge, feel free to… If you want a bit more of a challenge, you can…” She was speaking my language! I could learn a thing or two from her.

And then I noticed that the young woman next to me was in great shape, but struggling. Not struggling in the out-of-shape sense, but struggling to follow along. She went left when we went right, backwards when we went forwards, too many repetitions, not enough repetitions. It wasn’t the usual uncoordination or lack of rhythm I’ve seen in classes before, though. And her slightly older companion in the row in front of her seemed to be doing OK, but kept turning around to speak to her struggling friend. And then it occurred to me – she doesn’t speak English, or at least not fluently. When they speak to each other, it’s in Spanish. She’s not benefitting from either the clear verbal directions or the differentiation the instructor was providing, because she cannot understand it. She was purely following along visually, perhaps catching bits of language here or there that makes sense. This broke my heart.

As an elementary school teacher, this experience has me thinking two things. First, how incredibly important differentiation is to support all learners. Differentiation requires that we attend to the learning needs of all students. This is critical if we are to maximize student growth and ensure individual student success. This is exactly what my Active instructor was doing and what I strive to do each day in my classroom. It certainly isn’t easy. Second, how frustrating and discouraging it is to be the struggling learner. I’d like to think that the young woman in my exercise class will keep coming back, but who knows. Will she become so frustrated that she gives up?  Do our ELs feel this same frustration? I’m sure they do. We are seeing an increase in the EL population in our district and I wonder if we are really doing enough for them. Mapping out instruction that supports them is an important part of my differentiation planning.

Much food for thought, and all from one exercise class at the gym.


Many thanks to the crew at Two Writing Teachers, and the extended SOL community, for giving us the time, space, and encouragement to live the writerly life here each Tuesday and every day in March. Won’t you join us?


Dangerous Day #SOL19

Today is a dangerous day. Not dangerous in the physical sense. Dangerous in that I can tell not a whole lot is going to be accomplished today. How do I know that at 9:30 in the morning? I’ve been down this road before.

It’s day 12 of summer break and I’m home alone. One of my first days to be a.) home, b.) alone, and c.) no major plans. I have a “To Do List” about a mile long, and I’m ticking off those boxes for sure. But the distractions. OH THE DISTRACTIONS!

  • The mail just arrived.
  • The neighbor’s cat is on the prowl again. What for this time?
  • Is that a female Baltimore Oriole? Why is my camera never close at hand when I spot something.
  • What ate my kale yesterday when I wasn’t home?
  • My leg is hurting again. Damn that sciatic nerve!
  • I’m thirsty.
  • Did I cancel the mail yet for our trip?
  • Oh crap! I forgot to send in my teaching license renewal. There goes another $100!
  • That book is due back at the library today. Just a few chapters left. Should I sit and finish it?
  • Should I make strawberry shortcake for the cookout on the 4th or something else?
  • Better not forget to pick up the books my husband ordered at the book shop. They just called a second time.
  • I really should get those iris plants to my sister’s that I divided last week. Didn’t make it over the weekend.
  • How big is our new great nephew now? Must grab a cute outfit for him for Saturday night’s dinner. Can’t believe he’s 6 months and we haven’t met him yet!
  • Wonder what brought the chickadees back all of a sudden? Haven’t seen them for weeks.

And so it will go all day long until my husband returns this evening wondering, “How was your day, sweetie? What happened around here?”

“Oh, not much,” I’ll reply.


Many thanks to the crew at Two Writing Teachers, and the extended SOL community, for giving us the time, space, and encouragement to live the writerly life here each Tuesday and every day in March. Won’t you join us?