Sunday Calm

I’ve been so preoccupied with civic activism, the March for Our Lives, and governmental chaos that I had no idea what to write about when I sat down late tonight.

Today turned out to be an unexpectedly peaceful day. To get out of the house when the weather turned sunny about 3 pm, we decided to hop in the car to drive to a nearby town to get some coffee and a treat and some fresh air. We stopped first at the Copenhagen Bakery where we were lucky to find an unoccupied table near a big picture window overlooking the harbor a few streets away.  After a relaxing mid-day snack of soup, coffee and a cookie we decided to take a walk in the park nearby.

We walked toward the pier which was uncrowded, enjoying the activity in the park, especially the variety of dogs being walked. Did I mention this is a town that loves its dogs?

We walked out on the pier and got a bench all to ourselves. When the weather gets warmer this is almost impossible, so we sat down feeling this was our lucky day.

The sun shone directly on us, so my daughter and I settled into a lazy slump on the bench to soak up its rays. We call it Vitamin D therapy.  My husband, who was restless, decided to take a short walk into town while we relaxed.

The harbor today was sparkling and unusually quiet.  Several pairs of Bufflehead ducks dove into and out of the water while seagulls continually flew over us. There were no boats in the harbor allowing us a wide, expansive view of the harbor and the horizon.

This is a special place for us. My husband and I lived here before we had children.  We left the town only because we could not afford a home here at the time.  We love its quiet harbor, its lovely waterside park with a gazebo that looks right out of a painting, and a Main Street full of historic buildings and small shops.

We always feel nostalgic when we come here and, in fact, have begun to think about moving back here when we downsize, if we can afford to do so.

The pace of life is smaller, slower and quieter (except in summer when this town is hopping) and suits us more as we grow older. I can imagine visits to the park, sitting on a bench, talking to passersby…something I cannot imagine doing in our present crowded, busy town.

On our way home we stopped to see how our new resident eagles are doing in a nearby pond. The male eagle was positioned high in a tree across the pond from his nest. All was quiet in the nest.  We watched him preen himself as dusk fell and he disappeared into the shadows.

A perfect afternoon.

 

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Would you want to carry a gun in your school?

It’s the eve of the student march against gun violence that will be held in Washington DC and in cities and towns across the country. My suburban town will be having a small rally. Our dearly beloved president has suggested that if teachers carried guns, schools would become a “hard target” and be much safer. I’ve read many articles that tell me teachers across the nation do not agree. In fact, most…like myself…are horrified at the idea. As I sit here and try to imagine that state of affairs I find my mind will not go there. Instead, so many questions pop up in my brain.

What would be the criteria for selecting the teachers?
Which teachers would be assigned to carry a gun?
Who would select the gun-carrying teachers?
Would the teachers who would volunteer to carry guns be the ones we would choose?
How would we assure they would be kept in a “safe” place?
Who would be in charge of making sure of that?
Wouldn’t the guns have to be dispersed throughout the school for this to be effective, thus requiring multiple guns in the school?
How would the students feel about guns being in the school on a daily basis? (Would they feel more or less safe?)
How would the teachers feel about this?
How would the parents feel about this?
What proof do we have that this would make schools safer?
Wouldn’t we be the only country in the world that supports this idea?
What would the rest of the world think of us?
Wouldn’t a lot of families choose to home school? (I probably would.)

When I read articles about this issue, the gun-toting staff are referred to as “resource staff.” When did a gun become a “school resource?” A gun is a device that can kill. Plain and simple. Guns do not distinguish between good and bad people. Guns often end up in the wrong ends, despite best intentions. Goods have too often ended up in the hands of severely disturbed students in America. Why aren’t we putting more “resources” into identifying and helping those students and their families to prevent school massacres?

These are some of the questions on my mind tonight as I think about the protests that will take place tomorrow. The youth of America stood up to the war in Vietnam in the 60’s and 70’s and eventually that made a difference. Many of the students who will be protesting tomorrow are younger than most Vietnam protesters were and deserve credit for their undertaking, their passion and their courage.

Postscript: I watched the March for Our Lives today and was profoundly moved by the students and their supporters who marched and those who spoke. I haven’t felt so moved since 1968 when I was a college student protesting against the war in Vietnam. Young people know the difference between right and wrong: We should listen to them. How ironic is it that our youngest constituents might finally make a difference in the issue of gun control where adults have failed?  We must not let them down.

My Writing Routine…More or Less

Intrigued by a recent Slice in which someone wrote about their writing routine, I decided I’d “borrow” the idea for my post today.  Like everyone else in the March Challenge,  I am getting closer to the point where I think I’m running out of ideas… or is it energy? Probably more likely ideas since I love blogging on TWT and always have the energy to do it.

So What Is My Writing Routine… More or Less?

Routine #1: Write weekly Slice of Life for TWT 

The reason I wrote “more or less” in the title of today’s Slice is that I don’t seem to do anything consistently over a period of time.  I can be consistent about eating habits for about a week, but then I get bored and deviate.  I can be consistent about exercising over a period of time, but I must vary my exercise routines or I will become bored and quit.  I meditate now more than I used to when I was working full time, but even that practice has its ebb and flow and does not happen at any particular time of day.

The one practice I’ve been able to maintain consistently for the past three years, missing only perhaps a few days overall, is blogging on Two Writing Teachers. So I guess it’s fair to say that weekly Slicing is the closest I get to a regular routine.

Routine #2: Put aside time in late afternoon/early evening to write my Slice.

The next part of my routine is easy: I am a late riser so about a year ago or so I figured out that I will have very few comments, if any, if I wait until midday to post my Slice. Now my rhythm is pretty consistent. Sometime late in the day or early in the evening before a post is due, I sit down to write my Slice. Then I return to my computer at midnight to post for the following day.  There are several of us late-night Slicers!

Routine #3: When writing a slice, I know that some slicers will have a connection to whatever I write about, since we all share the common trait of being human.

I used to worry about my slice being of interest or relevance to teaching as the majority of slicers are/were teachers as was I. In the past year, although I often try to think about the overall relevance to teachers/teaching of what I write, I began to realize that teachers are also people with real lives, just like mine, so pretty much anything I write about will be relevant to someone.  I think I came to the right conclusion, since I still average about the same number of comments.

Routine  #4: I capture ideas from the day’s events, books I’m reading, conversations, news articles, activities…just about anywhere I can find them.

I am an information junkie.  I try to read the NY Times every day: Not all of it. I like to keep up on the front page news, the editorials, and special sections like Tuesday’s Science Times.  My promise to myself when I retired was to enjoy the Times every day along with my morning coffee.  I keep that promise 95% of the time! I also listen to special radio programs like All Things Considered which I love for its variety of topics.  I am very active in my community so I try to have conversations with friends and acquaintances several times a week. I have several activities I pursue regularly like a Senior Yoga Class, a Great Books Discussion Group and so on that keep me busy and engaged.  Now that I read how busy I am, I really don’t have an excuse for not having a topic for a daily Slice!

Routine #5 I almost never publish a first draft.

I know this is a community of writers, so I want my slice to be accurate, fresh, engaging and written in clear, good English.  I also know from teaching writing for over twenty years to college students that a second look often produces a much better piece of writing. Practice what you preach!  On the rare occasion I do publish a first draft it’s almost like the words flow through me from another source….I am just the conduit.  That is a precious and wonderful feeling!

Routine #6 I always look for comments.

After three years of doing this, I still appreciate comments.  I think that is actually the key to the success of this writing community. We all know that someone is out there reading our words and that’s why we write. I try to be diligent about acknowledging comments I’ve been given, and commenting on as many Slices as my time permits on any given day.

That’s it! No magic, no special tricks.

I don’t have a writing outfit I wear when I write. I do drink coffee when I read Slices in the am. I cruise the daily Slices looking for a new topic or a new name to read.  I’m just your average Slicer, fully engaged in this community and grateful for the opportunity to read and write.

 

 

 

 

 

Today’s Palette is White

(Wikipedia)
In physics, a color is visible light with a specific wavelength. Black and white are not colors because they do not have specific wavelengths. Instead, white light contains all wavelengths of visible light. Black, on the other hand, is the absence of visible light.

Some say that white is not a color; I beg to differ. The world I stepped into today after our latest nor’easter is definitely white. Every shade of white imaginable, but definitely white.  White in all its subtle and not so subtle shades.

White birch trunks
white clouds
white swan’s nest

IMG_5800.JPG

white snowman melting
white tracks 
white seagulls
white sleds


white signs

white benches

white footsteps

white jet trails
white sculpture

White magic!

 

Signs of Spring!

S aw four robins hopping in the park
I n the pond turtles are un-hibernating
G reen is slowly reemerging in the landscape
N ew buds are appearing everywhere
S prouts are popping up in the garden

O nce again the days grow longer
F inally nature sheds its winter coat

S pring is the season of rebirth
P lants and animals reproduce
R ain nourishes new growth
I n the park children reappear
N ature’s gift to us is spring
G ives us hope

Chaos Rules: Our Third Nor’easter in a Month

nor’easter
unpredictable, savage
spinning, threatening, blasting
a force of nature
March madness

So far March has lived up to its reputation as  “coming in like a lion.” Three nor’easters in four weeks has probably set a record. In my lifetime they’ve been known to occur very rarely, and once a year at most.

To be perfectly honest, I’ve come to enjoy them in a weird way. I like it when things shut down and people are forced to stay home and engage in family life, when the birds in my yard seem to become especially active as though they are looking for their last meal on earth. I enjoy watching them sit in the snow-laden branches of our hill of rhododendrons where they perch like ornaments.

I realize this is my personal effort to slow down the world. Political events are happening at lightning speed, as are local civic developments in our town. Everyone is doing their best to try to stay ahead of the news but we are all exhausted in our efforts. There’s no longer any “down time” as we watch the nightly news bringing the latest national or international catastrophe into our homes. These events are often “unpredictable, savage, spinning, threatening, blasting” much like nor’easters.

Yes…even nature’s normal cycle is distressed, bringing us weather events of heretofore unimagined proportions. They are a mirror image of the human events that we now hear about and experience every day.

I’ve Raised Two Eco Warriors

As we sat in the dedicated public meeting room at our local Panera Bread establishment, I was reminded once again of what two remarkable young adults I raised. We’re all proud of our kids for their many talents and accomplishments. I’m proud of mine because they’ve now taken their skills and knowledge to a new level.

We are engaged in a struggle in our town to stop overdevelopment. Developers in cahoots with local town board members are trying to rush through dozens of proposals to build multi-level apartments in every available space in town. We like our town the way it is: a suburban town of mostly family residences, with a lot of natural beauty and historical sites.

My son started our engagement in the political process when he became aware of how a local bar and three adjacent houses near us are slated for demolition and the construction of a four-story multi-use apartment building. He began an online petition and got us all involved in his efforts. We soon learned this project is just the tip of the iceberg of development plans for our town.  This past weekend my husband and I spent both Saturday and Sunday canvassing some nearby neighborhoods, handing out fliers about the various development proposals.

Tonight we hosted a strategy meeting of local people who are interested in helping our cause and are willing to appear at tomorrow night’s Town Board meeting. Several of the people my husband and I met during our canvassing did show up for the meeting. My son did most of the talking, and explained most of the background information that is available for public knowledge about this issue. My daughter, sitting beside him, spoke about her experiences during the past few town board meetings. I sat there quite impressed that my progeny, ages 34 and 36, were the two key people at this meeting. I was impressed by their knowledge, their poise and their commitment to conservation issues.

After the meeting adjourned, one of the new participants asked me if they were my children. When I said, “yes,” she replied that she was really impressed with them. I explained to her that since my kids were very young we had a family ritual. Every Sunday we went for a walk in nature in all seasons. I have always referred to our walks as The Church of Nature. I attribute my son’s and daughter’s passionate affinity to nature to these weekly excursions. We walked in many different locales: meadows, paths through woods, hikes along the beach and wetlands and through many local neighborhoods. During our walks, they grew familiar with the flora and fauna of the local area as their passion for nature grew. As they got older, they have explored many different parts of the world, with an eye on nature.

Today they are both avid naturalists and conservationists and clearly are willing to staunchly defend their cause if need be. I am very proud of them and left the meeting feeling I had nurtured Two Eco Warriors!