Slice of Life – Update on My Yo-Yo Quilt

Today’s Slice of Life at TwoWritingTeachers.org, 5 October 2021.

Today I finished another step of my yo-yo quilt. I was inspired to get started on this quilt in August and wrote about my progress here.

Since then I’ve worked on it off-and-on, and I learned so much. I’m not totally satisfied, but I decided to finish anyway. It was my first attempt doing artwork with yo-yos. Each piece has been basted onto the background. Now I just need to more permanently sew down each of the more than 600 yo-yos. (I wonder how long that will take!)

My inspiration is the Bahrain World Trade Center. Click the link or photo below to read an article about the process of the building of this landmark in 2008.

Poetry Friday – Tree Love and a Mad Lib Poem

When I am among the trees,
especially the willows and the honey locust,
equally the beech, the oaks and the pines,
they give off such hints of gladness.
I would almost say that they save me, and daily…
~Mary Oliver

I read this lovely poem by Mary Oliver for the first time today at Sharing Our Stories Magic blog, and it reminded me of the book I’m reading, The Overstory, which is a magnificent 500-page love letter to trees. Have you read it?

Read Oliver’s full poem “When I am Among the Trees” here.

On another note…

Who I Am

I was born in the year of the red security sweater.
My mother was an elegant upright piano
And my father, an unfiltered Camel cigarette.
Is it any wonder I grew up to be a kind of amusing
cross between a shy Daffy Duck and a stoic puffin bird?
Take a fluttering look at me—
I’m aloofly friendly, hope-filled, and wearing out.
Is it any wonder that at night
I have nightmares about
my sweet retirement life crumbling before it begins?

I wrote the poem above from a prompt shared by Taylor Mali–It is a fun foldable called Slam Poem Mad Lib. Did you see Taylor Mali’s Metaphor Dice are on sale right now for teachers for $8 instead of $20? (Thanks, Karen E.)

Today’s Poetry Friday roundup is with Catherine Flynn at Reading to the Core. Today she has written and shared a beautiful poetry primer with A to Z loveliness!

Poetry Friday – In Memory

Jeff, gentle giant
Your heart was big, but failed
Today you are gone

It was the summer Scotty died.
I flew back a month after I moved to Iowa.
After the funeral
we went on a road trip.
Your aunt, Scotty’s grieving mom,
your broken Grandma,
and your stunned Aunt Denise
(who was being driven back to Iowa
to start a new school year
in a new school and new state)
and you, his cousin —
teenage laugher and listener,
so bright-eyed and fun-loving,
with a sly shyness.
You, who made the trip fun,
instead of a drudge.
We drove in the camper,
saw some sights,
took funny photos,
and told stories of Scotty.
It was the year of the Blizzard–
a new ice cream treat.
We stopped
in every small-town DQ
for a new flavor.

Today, thirty-five
years later, you have left us.
Another nephew
gone too soon–death’s order in
this broken world, false again.

It is Poetry Friday, and Laura Purdie Salas has the roundup here, with tankas and a new picture book coming out: If You Want to Knit Some Mittens.

Getting to Know Mohammed

Today’s Ethical ELA Open Write prompt by Allison Berryhill is to write a poem about a student. I had a hard time writing today; I have so many students on my mind. I have love and appreciate them all. They’ve been patient with me. I tried lots of poems on, but nothing stuck. Now, finally I decided on a found poem from my journal entries, all these lines were written during the first weeks of school that very first semester. When I started, I had been in this new culture for one week, trying to cope with jet lag and just figuring things out. I started teaching mid-year and was assigned to teach English to kindergarteners, a grade I had never taught before.

January 2014
Getting to know Mohammed R.

Overwhelmed
Wondering if I made a mistake
Lost all my confidence
Out-of-control
Literally running around
Dread coming back
I need to fail forward
Today was better
Snacks in the teacher’s lounge
I don’t know how to eat them
Daily reminders I’m in such
A different place
There are a few moments of hope
each day, but more often just
painful learning events and despair.
Today was different. One class came in
And I almost made it in delighted control.
Learning? Who knows? Manners, yes.
Toilet? Water? Ball? I can’t understand them
when they say these words, and these are some
of the only words they say and know.
My only Arabic is just
the letter ط (tah) and shukran.
I had a dream the students and I were
engaged as a learning community,
it was a powerful gift,
But the gap between what is
and what may be in the future is wide.
Just when I think (knocking on wood)
that the day is going well,
Another class comes in and kicks my butt.
Sweetness—Mohammed R.
wanted to sit by me at recess.
Today was a day of hope—
Al Raja School means school of hope,
but is it really?
Is there hope, Lord?
I actually liked this day.
I was able to read a story and
they all listened,
they seemed to understand.
We went to the zoo today.
Mohammed R. whispered in my ear,
“I know a funny word.”
“Oh, what’s that?” I asked.
“Bananapants!” he laughed.

Authors

Authors

1861
Anne Abbot created a game
that I was still playing
over a hundred years later.
“Go Fish” it was,
only with authors–
Tennyson, Poe, Longfellow
(a poet whose feet showed it),
Stevenson, Dickens, Irving,
Shakespeare, more white men,
and one white woman–
Louisa May Alcott–
somewhat of a mirror for me,
white girl
from southern California,
who matched authors
with siblings
and cousins.
93% of the authors were white men
with funny hair and clothes.
Conspicuously missing–
Frederick Douglass,
Phyllis Wheatley,
Elizabeth Hobbs Keckley
and many more.
Heck, even Anne herself
was an author.
The system, though,
wasn’t interested in being inclusive,
wasn’t interested in giving voice
to others less powerful,
wasn’t interested in giving
little girls and little boys
different mirrors
to reflect possibilities.
They were selling a card game.

Yesterday at our family Bible study
“We are having problems
with this book. We’re trying to have
an open mind and keep reading, but
there are some ableist and racist things,
like Peter’s scary hair.
What’s with that?”

Today
What she said (this young woman
who is teaching her parents)
lead me to go back and review the authors
of the books I’ve read this summer:
White male authors: 5
Black male authors: 1
Black female authors: 1
White female authors: 1
I am not making and selling a card game,
I am choosing what books to read.
I chose 63% white male authors.
Well, more accurately, my partner
(another white male)
chose two of my five books
for our family study.

Today I came back to notice,
and, praise God,
I am still alive,
with at least
a little time to
become a better ancestor.

Finger Painting

Today’s prompt by Barb Elder for Day 2 of September’s Open Write was “An Out of Body Experience for Sunday, Fun Day”.

Finger Painting

I reach for my tubes of paint,
Nervous as usual,
to try my hand at art.
I squeeze the tentative
joy–plop, drop–
onto the canvas.
I stick my finger in as
I laugh and ask myself,
Are these finger paints?
Yes, indeed. They are
finger paints–
My fingers! Paint!
Then my forearms
My elbows, up to my pits, I am paint
Wow, I exclaim, and
Dive into creating,
All the tubes are squeezed out
All of me now cool, smooth,
shivering onto the surface.
All of me impasto-ed in
Shades of hope and honey,
Fearlessness and fuchsias,
Brilliance and blueberries,
Completeness and coffee,
And the delicious reds of earth and fire.
I relish the moment of freedom
To let go and let the paints.
For a moment I’m in a world where I hear,
“You are lovable, capable, and creative,
You are enough.”