Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Poetry Partners- #1

This year, I want to explore the idea of Poetry Partners. I want to take a poem from a published author, and use it as a mentor to write my own poem. My goal is to use some of these with kids.

Today's poem showed up in my email this morning.

"Spring Tonic"
Julie Eger

Listen for sandhill cranes.
Count the robins.
Pick dandelion greens
for Grandma’s spring tonic.
Praise the peepers.
Count the robins.
Open the garden gate.
Till the soil.
Search for asparagus.
Count the robins.
Smile at the first morel.
Catch bluegills with a cane pole.
Count the robins.
Put lounge chairs on deck.
Sit down in the sun.
Roll up pant legs.
Lean all the way back.

Count the robins.

“Spring Tonic”
By Carol Wilcox

rejoice in yellow crocuses
drink in grape hyacinths
worship  pink and red tulips and
delight in daffodils

watch lawn green and grow
listen to bees buzz in lavender
smell spring shower sweetness
go barefoot and
delight in daffodils

spend an afternoon on the patio
read, nap, then read a little more
let sun paints health your cheeks and
delight in daffodils

park on a sunny  bench
nibble sugar waffle cone
lick ice cream 
from sticky fingers and
delight in daffodils

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

SLICE #31- Confessions of a Night Slicer

OK, I think I'm just going to say it.

My name is Carol and I was a night slicer.

It's not that I really wanted to be a night slicer

I much prefer to write early in the morning.

I've always been a morning person. Even now, with nowhere to go, I'm almost always awake around 5:30. I think better, and write better, early in the morning.

But somehow, that just hasn't worked for me this year. In January, I committed that the first part of my day, every day this year, was going to be devoted to growing my spiritual self. Specifically, to reading my Bible and praying. I guess I could have written after that, but at the first part of the month, there were papers to read, and lesson plans to finish, and well, you get it. I was already getting up at an hour my sons affectionately call the "butt crack of dawn" and I didn't want to get up any earlier than that.

So I wrote at night.

And then, when the school closure happened, I think it was on March 13th, I really thought I would switch over and write in the morning. But somehow, it seemed like there was always stuff to do-- meetings and conversations about remote learning, talking to my mom, who has been in solitary confinement at a senior center for the last thee weeks, online Spanish class, etc., etc., etc.

So I sliced at night.

And now, it's March 31st. The month is over. And I'm writing my 31st slice. At night.

My name is Carol and I'm a night slicer.

And truthfully, I don't think it was that big a deal.

I wrote every night. I tried to write something reasonably significant. And I always commented on at least ten slices. Usually, I tried to comment on the last ten slicers because I knew they probably wouldn't get very many comments.

And I'm not sure why, but this year I felt like there was kind of a stigma about being a night slicer

Like people who were night slicers are somehow slovenly, or not serious about their writing, or maybe just lesser citizens of the slicing community.

And I am really not sure why people thought that.

My name is Carol and I was a night slicer.

Monday, March 30, 2020

SLICE #30- Tomie de Paola died today

This afternoon, I heard that Tomie dePaola had died.

Not from COVID, which is what I expected to hear next, but from a fall.

And I felt sad.

Because Tomie is one of the first children's authors that I remember loving.

And because I met Tomie dePaola.

In an elevator.

In Wyoming.

And I was a baby teacher, just beginning my career.

And he was a huge rock star artist.

And yet was so, so kind and gentle.

I had gone to Wyoming for some kind of reading conference.

I was with one of my local heroes, the woman who was the head of Title One in my district.

And I truthfully can't remember whether we went for the school district, or for our state reading organization. I think probably our state reading organization, because I'm not sure why someone as important as Colleen would have taken me, a first or second grade teacher, with her to an out-of-state conference.

I do remember that we drove to Wyoming, maybe Casper or Cheyenne, after school.

And that we got there in the early evening.

And I was in the elevator by myself.

Holding a Tomie dePaola book that I had brought with me, or maybe even bought at the conference.

A gentleman got on with me.

He was in his fifties, and I was twenty-something.

He smiled at me.

I must not have recognized him, or maybe I acted a little nervous, because he said, "Do you know who I am?"

And I remember feeling a little concerned that someone I didn't know was asking me, in an elevator, if I knew who he was.  I said I didn't and then the elevator door opened.

I started to get out

And he told me he was Tomie dePaola and asked if I wanted him to sign my book.

And right there, in front of the elevator, he signed my book, and drew a picture, I think he drew Strega Nona, although I'm pretty sure that the book he signed was THE LEGEND OF THE BLUEBONNET.

And over the years, I have loved so, so, so many of his books- STREGA NONA and all of his other folk tales, but also THE ART LESSON, OLIVER BUTTON IS A SISSY,  NANA UPSTAIRS AND NANA DOWNSTAIRS, NOW ONE FOOT AND NOW THE OTHER.

Recently, some of Tomie's "vintage art" has been showing up on my Facebook page. Except I don't think I figured out that it was "vintage." It still seemed fresh and lovely and comforting, amidst all of the current craziness.

And then today, I heard that he died.

And somehow, the world seems a little less lovely tonight.

RIP, dear Tomie.

Sunday, March 29, 2020

SLICE #29/31- Maybe I am not quite as ok....

Tomorrow we start our third week of staying at home.

Last week, our governor issued a "Stay at Home" order.

Essential businesses only. No public places open. No parks.

I think I'm doing ok.

I've kept myself on a schedule.

I've read, and written, and practiced my Spanish, and walked both dogs every day.

I've gotten ready for remote learning and emailed my kids and read some of their previous work. I think I've been reasonably productive.

Every morning when I wake up, I recite kind of a little mantra to sort of situate myself in time. Today, for example, I said, "Today is Sunday. Usually I, go to see my mom on Sundays, but today I am going to watch church online, then I am going to take my bag of groceries to the More Life center."

And that's where the trouble began.

My church has a food pantry, called the "More Life Center."

Every month, on the first Sunday, we are supposed to take a bag of non-perishables-- spaghetti and canned chili and vegetables-- to church. There's a pick uptruck parked out in front of the church, and you put your bag into the back of the truck, and grab an empty green "More Life" bag for the next month. We have been doing that for at least five years. Maybe even longer.

Yesterday, when I was at the grocery store, I made a special point of buying things I could put in my "More Life" bag. I threw in a little extra, because I'm feeling really grateful that I still have a job and a paycheck, when so, so many people don't.

My son always puts the groceries away when I get home from the store. I forgot to tell him about the "More Life" groceries, so he put those away too. Last night, I got out a grocery bag and refilled it, so I wouldn't make noise banging around the kitchen this morning. The bag was so heavy that I thought about breaking it into two smaller bags, so it would be easier to carry. I left it by the front door, so I wouldn't forget to take the groceries today.

This morning, I got up about 6:30. I read my Bible and drank my coffee, then watched church online. The first thing the pastor did was to hold up the green "More Life" bag. "Remember," he said, "Next week is 'More Life' Sunday. We really need you to come by the church with your groceries. We will have a team of volunteers, wearing masks and gloves, to take your bags out of the back of your car."

Actually, I only kind of heard the pastor's announcement. I got lost right after he said, "Next week..."

Next week??? Next week??? "More Life"is supposed to be today. What is he talking about?

And then I realized that today is NOT the first Sunday of the month. I am NOT supposed to bring groceries to church today. I'm supposed to bring them NEXT Sunday, which actually is the first Sunday of the month, and the Sunday I have been doing "More Life" groceries every month for the past five years.

Maybe I am not quite as ok as I thought I was....

Saturday, March 28, 2020

SLICE #28- Happy birthday Roo!

As people who have read my blog for any length of time know, I'm raising a service dog for Canine Partners of the Rockies. Rooney will live with me for about two years, and then if he passes all of his training (only 50% of the dogs actually do), he will become a mobility dog for someone in a wheelchair, or an autism dog. Here's a photo essay of our first year together. 

On May 26th, I picked this guy at from the airport. He had left California at 5 am, flown to Dallas, and then on to Denver.  He cried all the way home, then fell asleep in my arms. 

He was the greeter at CaPR's graduation when he had been here about two weeks. 
He lasted about ten minutes, then fell asleep.

He instantly decided Star, my 13-year-old Lab mix, was his new mama.

She's still his favorite!

He helped with a presentation at the Denver Country Club when he was about four months.
I sat on the curb outside and waited for him to come out. 

At the Scholastic Reading Summit!

He loves the Rockies!

Everybody into the pool!

Hanging out with his girlfriend, Olivia, and Auntie Val at the park.

He loves his babies, but he is a little rough, 
and they usually end up dismembered within a few weeks. 

First day of school!

Dog tired on Halloween!

Rooney loves shoes! I have to remember to close my closet because when he's bored, 
he grabs a shoe and heads out through the dog door!

Cuddling with A, his favorite seventh grade girlfriend in my office at work.
I wish I could show her face-- they adore each other!

November- First snow! 

Christmas- with a stuffie from his girlfriend, Nina, 
our night facility manager at work.

And somehow he has magically become this guy! 
Yesterday was Rooney's first birthday!
Happy birthday, Sweet Roo!

Friday, March 27, 2020

SLICE #27- Lessons from Distance Learning

It is Friday.

The end of a long week of remote learning.

Yesterday, between classes and meetings, I was online for 13 hours straight.

Today, I am in my second of six classes, and I am tired.

The presenter is great, but I am having trouble concentrating.

My eyes are drawn to the participant thumbnails on the side of the Google meeting.

Most people, myself included, turn off their cameras, so all that you see are their names, and some kind of initial or photograph.

My eyes are drawn to movement from one of the people who have not turned off their camera.

It is a woman, about forty, standing in her bathroom.

She is wearing dark colored leggings

and nothing else…

I watch,

along with I don't know how many of the other 250 session participants,

as she grabs a lacy white bra off the counter,

and fastens it,

leans forward several times to adjust her girls,

and pulls a long-sleeved t-shirt over her bra.

The show goes on for almost two minutes,

and I keep waiting for the tech guy to darken her screen

but that doesn't happen.

All day I have been thinking about that poor woman

who by now is probably mortified

by her digital indiscretion.

Her friends and colleagues

are probably all talking about her,

Her principal has probably heard.

I am sure she is considering moving to another state

or perhaps changing professions.

I shudder thinking about all of the mistakes

I have probably made this week.

I have decided that rule #1

of remote learning should be

"Always put your bra on before the session starts,

because you never know who might be watching."

Thursday, March 26, 2020

SLICE 26- It's hard to watch your kids screw up

It's hard to watch your kids screw up.

Even when they are adults.

Son #1 has had a rough year.

In August, he got in a car accident.

He totaled his car and broke his femur.

His car was not a new car.

It was actually about ten years old.

But it was a working car.

In October or November, he got his insurance settlement.

His half was $2200.

And he immediately started looking for a car.

He found what he thought was the perfect car.

A 25 year old Saab.

I was not so sure it was all that perfect

and advised him to take it to our mechanic to get it checked out.

He refused.

It was perfect.

And so he bought it.

It lasted three months.

He finally sold it for $300.

To a junk dealer.

A couple of weeks ago he got his taxes.


A trusted friend sold him an old truck.

A 25-year-old-truck.

"It's always worked great," he said.

Last week it wouldn't start.

A bad battery cable.

He's still not working,

because he still can't be on his feet for 8 hours

or do heavy lifting

so I loaned him the money to have it towed.

And get it repaired.

This week, the serpentine belt,

whatever that is,


The friend was going to help him fix it.

If I just went and bought the belt.

And then they had a disagreement.

And he didn't come.

And my son drove his limping old truck

To the mechanic.

The diagnosis was bad.

And so he sold the truck

for $300

To a cousin who likes to tinker with old cars.

And once again

my son is carless.

It's hard to watch your kids screw up.