Archive for the ‘Slice of Life’ Category

Thank you to Two Writing Teachers for creating an amazing community of writers and a safe, welcoming space to write and share.

Thirty days of writing every day. Has it all been good? When my students ask me that question, I try to find something specific to say. “Look at this imagery you included. I can see a picture in my mind.”

Yesterday, my new little first grader was writing a poem to This Photo. He kept wanting to use words like pretty and nice, and I pushed him to specific description. “Why is it pretty? What is nice about it?”

What is good? The Lord looked at all creation and called it “Good.” Why?

Today my Enneathought begged the question “What is good?”

EnneaThought® for the Day

Type Four EnneaThought®

Today, see if you can do the opposite of your ordinary personality pattern. Acknowledge the many ways in which your life and relationships are good. See what happens.

The Enneagram Institute

Here’s my draft-list of good relationships:

  1. Forty years figuring it out every day with my life partner.
  2. Three daughters who welcome me into their lives.
  3. Stella yells, “I see Mamere!” on FaceTime.
  4. Friends texting photos of spring flowers.
  5. My principal has my back when a parent complains.
  6. My brother is caring for our mother every day.
  7. Charlie, my 15 year-old dog, still licks my toes.
  8. A. wants a hug at the end of every day.
  9. My mother-in-law is a wise advisor.
  10. My writing groups fill me with inspiration as they challenge me to be better.

What is your list of good relationships? How do we recognize and nurture what is already good in our lives?

A thank you note I made for the leader of last weekend’s Women’s Retreat.

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Rainbow Promise

On wooded trails,
under the wild strawberry
a fresh fern unfurls,
new leaves replace old
heartshapes of gold,
a forest in rebirth.

Margaret Simon, draft
Rainbow collage collection, Lake Fausse Pointe trail photo by Margaret Simon

On a recent yoga Women’s Wellness Retreat, I collected things as I walked a forest trail. The instructor suggested collecting a rainbow. My collection includes an unripe blackberry, a piece of dead wood, a fiddlehead fern, a few wildflowers and leaves. When we stopped for a short break, I arranged them into something that pleased me and took this photo. I left most of it in the forest where I found it. I kept the heart-shaped leaf, fern fiddlehead, and the purple wildflower to press and tape into my notebook. We poets are pretty good at assigning symbolism to things. If this collage arrangement speaks to you in some way, write a small poem in the comments. Be sure to support other writers with comments as well.

I am planning a National Poetry Month project, but This Photo Wants to be a Poem will continue to be part of it. Consider adding this practice to your own NPM project. Follow my blog to get updates in your inbox. If you teach, you can use this prompt with students. Please share students’ poems as well.

I will also be posting links each day to the Kidlit Progressive Poem. I’m excited for April, my favorite month of the year.

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Thank you to Two Writing Teachers for creating an amazing community of writers and a safe, welcoming space to write and share.

Most days I take the slow, country road route from one school to the other rather than getting on the mad highway. I pass the underpass round-about that has been in some stage of construction all year long. Drive beyond the road where I need to turn because due to said construction, it’s been blocked. Make a u-turn and swing by the corner gas station (sometimes I stop for a Subway salad), and turn right into a grove of trees that transports me to a peaceful country road.

Yesterday there was no one on the road, no one following me, so I stopped at each icon to take a picture. Take a deep breath. Let it out slowly and enjoy the slow ride.

The white cows have been birthing babies. I’ve watched as their herd has grown, how the mothers all tend to the little ones, and how they cluster together like kids out at recess.

The old red barn stands a little crooked, but someone cuts the grass. I secretly wish they would let the wild flowers grow. She seems lonely and old, yet independent and wise. I look her way and smile, resisting the urge to give her a name and throw my hand out of the window and wave.

The horses run and frolic in the fresh spring air. They are frisky and shy, moving quickly away from my presence.

Take a right at the white church. Saint’s truck has been there for weeks doing repairs. I honk and wave to him. He recognizes my car. I hear his familiar laugh as I drive away. This old church is our safe spot for our school’s evacuation. We’ve never had to walk here along the fields of sugarcane, but they will be ready for us if there ever is a need. Praying there is never a need.

Today as I drive this road again, I will be mourning the loss of another school shooting, saying to God “Why?”

My life is a blessing. All lives are precious and should be adored. Prayers help me, the supplicator, but until there is real change, gun control action, my prayers will be futile. When will this madness ever end?

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Thank you to Two Writing Teachers for creating an amazing community of writers and a safe, welcoming space to write and share.

“Some days are like that…even in Australia” were the wise words of the mother to Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst. It’s good advice. This mother empathizes and reassures Alexander that life will go on and tomorrow will be better.

This message in my inbox this morning:

Type Four EnneaThought®

What would happen if you stopped trying to understand yourself today? Would your world fall apart? 

This morning is a new day, and I’m not feeling as sad or overwhelmed. I won’t chew on my heartstrings all day today. I have children to teach. This is what I am telling myself anyway.

Grief is a weird thing. We all have it in our backpacks that we carry through our lives. Sometimes, it stays back there, weighing little to nothing. You think you’ll be fine. Hey, look what I am carrying with little or no effort. Aren’t I the strong one?

Then someone hugs you, touches your shoulder, gives you that look of empathy, and you crumble. Yesterday our choir master was back at church after a few months away. His mother had been diagnosed with end stage cancer and after she died, his father willed himself to follow her. They had been married over 70 years. This is not my story to tell, but it may give some context for why my own grief hit me hard yesterday. I was overjoyed to see him, but as soon as I hugged him, the tears welled up.

I wanted to understand these feelings. It was Sunday and all the while I did my Sunday chores, yard work, laundry, and so on, I wanted to understand and the more I tried to understand, the more I cried.

Today is a new day. I am breathing. I have a plate full of things to do. I will be OK.

Without even knowing what was going on with me, my friend texted me this affirmation:

I offered my best self today.
It doesn’t matter if I did everything perfectly.
The day is now past and I will let it be.
I am looking forward to the morning.
I have the power to make tomorrow a great day.
I will feed my strength with sleep.
Tomorrow I will grow further.

Source unknown

Today is a new day, a new week, and I don’t have to understand myself.

My hand gathering strength from a tree, Women’s Wellness Retreat, Lake Fausse Pointe

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Yesterday was Jump Day for our first clutch of wood ducks this year. We had a good mother and only one. Sometimes two will take a box and you can end up with 2 dozen eggs, but not this year. One mother, one clutch, one dozen. She sat for 32 days. I was so relieved they didn’t hatch during this past week’s cold front. They waited for warmth to return. Only 8 of the 12 eggs hatched. This ratio is typical, we’ve learned.

I wanted to watch the jump, but it was a school day. I kept checking the Ring camera and the mother was calmly cuddling her chicks. At 10:15 I went outside to plan a butterfly garden with my student. Then I packed up and left that school for my next school. Yep, that was when they jumped.

My mother-in-law came to our house for the big event with a book and binoculars. She texted me that 8 ducklings had jumped. Four eggs were left in the box. Enjoy the video from inside the nest box. There always seems to be one that has trouble figuring it all out. We cheer for this little guy.

New Chicks

Gentle peeps echo.

Jumping onto mother hen,

New chicks jitterbug.

Like petals on a pinwheel

fluffy down spins together. 

Wood Duck Diary Tanka, Margaret Simon, all rights reserved.

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Welcome to a weekly Wednesday photo poetry prompt. If you’d like to get this in your inbox each week, please subscribe to my blog. Join in the community by writing a small poem in the comments and encouraging other writers with your comments.

Today’s photo is one I took at my daughter’s house last weekend. I had returned her two children from a morning at the museum and was getting ready to leave when I saw the shoes posing. Perhaps my daughter had placed them there, but more likely it was Stella who, at the age of two, likes a certain order to things. Her mother was like that, sorting all the cans in the cabinet by size and color at a very young age. She gets that from her father, and her father gets it from his mother. I once took a personality test that labeled me “abstract random” and my husband as “concrete sequential.”

No matter what type of order your keep or don’t, this photo is sure to charm you into writing something. At Ethical ELA this week we wrote a Pile of Good Things poem. I think I could add “Three pairs of shoes all in a row” to my pile.

Photo by Margaret Simon (permission to freely use)

These shoes have seen
the hills of North Carolina
and the backyards of Louisiana
but they are most happy
lined side by side on a bench
in the home where they belong.

Margaret Simon, draft

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Thank you to Two Writing Teachers for creating an amazing community of writers and a safe, welcoming space to write and share.

This morning I searched for a writing idea on Lynne Dorfman’s Blog and found this post about underrated joys. Who can resist a list? I am responding with my own list of underrated joys. This is a similar exercise to My Pile Of Good Things, but why not?

  1. First bloom on a Peggy Martin rose.
  2. Re-bloom on an orchid I bought at the grocery store.
  3. The scent of my first sip of coffee.
  4. My engagement ring reflecting the stained glass in church.
  5. A student has an Aha moment.
  6. Students writing poetry with me.
  7. My dog’s unconditional love.
  8. Facetime.
  9. Real time: “Mamere, you’re here!” Stella lights up with joy.
  10. Stained glass egret in my window.
  11. A message on Voxer.
  12. An egret or heron on the bayou.
  13. Creating something new.
  14. An actual letter in the mailbox.
  15. Being with family.
  16. Chats after church.
  17. Comments: Sally has a good post today celebrating comments.
  18. A ping from the Ring: “There is motion in your Wood duck House.”
  19. My mother’s voice.
  20. Hitting publish on a Slice.

What is on your list?

My neighbor’s Peggy Martin (Katrina) Rose is growing up into her crepe myrtle tree. Isn’t it fabulous?!

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Thank you to Two Writing Teachers for creating an amazing community of writers and a safe, welcoming space to write and share.

We live on the Bayou Teche (pronounced “tesh”) in New Iberia, Louisiana. Our address/mile marker is 69.4 on the 125 mile bayou. The name came from a Native American word for snake. The legend tells of a huge snake that was killed by arrow and its body made the impression of what is now a water way.

One of our favorite activities on the bayou is our wood duck nesting house. Each year for about 5 years, we have had two clutches of eggs hatch in the box. Jeff mounted a Ring doorbell camera inside the box, so we can watch the mother duck come and go and know when the babies hatch. The very next day, 24 hours, the little tiny hatchlings jump from the house and follow mother duck off into the bayou.

The mother duckling has been sitting for a month now. She’s an experienced mom that has been attentive and dedicated to her eggs. But today is due day, and the temperatures have dropped below freezing, a weird March winter chill. I am worried. I’m hoping they will stay in their safe eggshells for at least another day, so they can jump into milder water.

My head knows that wood ducks have been doing this for generations, so they will be OK. But my grandmother heart wants them all to hatch and all to go off into the sunset, so to speak. This is a screenshot from yesterday as the hen was busy turning the eggs. If you want to watch the Jump Day, we will set up a “Duck Door” camera and record the jump. Last year’s footage is on my YouTube channel linked below.

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Thank you to Two Writing Teachers for creating an amazing community of writers and a safe, welcoming space to write and share.
Art by Leo, left, and Stella, right from “Let’s Make Art” activity at the Hilliard Museum.

On the campus of ULL (University of Louisiana at Lafayette) there is a beautiful museum, The Hilliard. Saturday they held a drop in art activity for kids 4 and up. I showed up with Leo, 4, and Stella, 2, and they were the only children there. They had the full attention of the artist instructor.

I was amazed by the focus of both kids on this activity. From the flyers on the table, I realized it was meant to be a quilting activity. There were shapes cut out of various papers. However, Leo immediately grabbed the scissors and started cutting the shapes to his liking and building a 3 dimensional motorcycle. I glued it down for him on the white “quilt piece,” and he continued to add to it a winner’s banner and a man riding (notice the skinny yellow strip sitting on the motorcycle.)

Stella was happy enough to glue and glue and glue. The artist taught her how to put the glue on the back and turn the paper over and press it down. We were also able to freely roam the current art exhibits. It was a great way to spend a rainy cold Saturday morning.

Today, at Ethical ELA Open Write, Stefanie Boutelier is teaching us how to use technology in poetry with a wonderful prompt and model poem “A Pile of Good Things”. You should follow the link and see what it’s all about. Here is my pile:

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Thank you to Two Writing Teachers for creating an amazing community of writers and a safe, welcoming space to write and share.
St. John’s Cathedral Lafayette, LA by Andrew M. Liles, from the collection of Margaret and Jeff Simon

My cousin is leaving today. He’s been here all week participating in The Shadows-on-the-Teche Plein Air Competition, a juried art competition for artists who paint outside. They arrived last Saturday and have been painting all over our area until Thursday when they hung their best pieces. Friday night was the awards ceremony. Today, Andrew goes home to New Orleans.

Andrew and I are first cousins; his father was my mother’s brother. He’s like a little brother to me. I will text or call when I am in New Orleans and sometimes we manage to get together for coffee and beignets, but this week we spent every evening together. Hours of talking and sharing and learning more about each other and the family from which we hatched.

I feel like a part of my heart has grown back, a part I didn’t even know was missing.

This was only the second Plein Air competition he’s done. By day, he’s an architect and teaches architecture at Tulane University in New Orleans. At the beginning of the week, he was vulnerable and questioning his style, but by Friday night he had sold 4 of the 7 pieces he put into the show. That feels like success. We purchased the best one, in my opinion, the painting you see above of St. John’s Catholic Cathedral in Lafayette, LA.

The most successful thing for me was claiming back the relationship I have with Andrew. We’ll both treasure this time we had together.

Margaret Simon with artist Andrew Liles at the Delcambre Seafood Market

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