Shhh! It’s a Surprise!

Two Writing Teachers Today

Oh, my! I am really inexperienced with throwing surprise parties. Especially on Zoom.

Carrot cake, with its spicy and sweet aromas wafting throughout our flat and hallway, ensures that I can’t bake his surprise birthday cake here at home.

However, I figured I would be able to mix the batter here, but even that got a little complicated. My husband works in the same building where we live, so he is known to pop in during the day to retrieve something or take a quick break. There is only one fail-proof safe time when he is in a meeting and that is 7:30-7:50 a.m.

Seven to 7:30 is also pretty good, but if he gets to his office and has forgotten something, even that 30-minute period is at risk. I stayed up late the night before and woke at 7:00, so I jumped into action.

I got out 8 eggs, hid them in a pan with a lid on it. Broke them one by one into a big rectangular Tupperware. Then poured in two cups of oil. I was always a bit nervous and concocting a believable lie should he pop in. Relief. I was safe so far. I took a quick shower and got dressed.

At 7:30, I was finally safe for 20 minutes. I got out the food processor, quickly peeled some carrots, grated them and measured out 6 cups into the tub with oil and eggs. Then I buried it in the fridge among all the other similar tubs.

Next was clean-up! Oh, the ubiquitous carrot gratings! I kept wiping and cleaning, picking them up off the floor. The orange spots of carrot juice and tiny orange shavings screamed, “See me in all my fluorescent glory!” I was supposed to be getting ready for Zoom school not finding another shred of carrot. “Why in the world are you grating carrots?” I heard my husband ask in my imagination where he came home for coffee and saw carrot remains.

As I watched the clock, and kept finding more evidence, I felt like a nervous criminal trying to clean up a crime scene. Finally, I thought I had it all picked up. I even went into the bathroom and checked my smile to make sure all the end pieces I’d been munching on were not wedged anywhere conspicuous. I grabbed my bag of carrot cake trash–eggs shells, empty oil bottle, carrot residue–and went down to the dumpster.

There when I returned back to my flat was my husband in the clean kitchen, thankfully with absolutely no question about carrots. I began to make myself a cup of tea, and he said, “Wow, thanks for emptying the trash…” (It had been sitting by the front door since last evening.) “…and before your tea even!”

This adventure happened twice this week–double recipes of carrot cake mixed up surreptitiously and then taken to a friend’s on the way to school to bake and freeze at their home.

Finally, on Sunday evening we had the successful and sweet party! Several times over the last 24 hours, he has said “Thank you for last night.”

I waited until yesterday, his official birthday to deliver the small cakes I had baked. Between school and time with my husband, I hadn’t had enough free time to bake, thaw, frost and delivery before the party.

I wrote about this party and carrot cake in my Sunday poem for #Verselove and below:

Carrot cake:
our family recipe for 
births, weddings,
baptisms of
Shredded carrots
freckling the kitchen
So many fluorescent flecks
threatening to spoil the
into the meeting at 6:50 p.m.
Bahrain time,
8:50 a.m. Pacific,
for this
pandemic party
Carrot cakes
stealthily baked
with love
in tiny
aluminum pans
delivered to
to celebrate
the anniversary of
the birth of my beloved–
this man,
so good
and kind
and passionate–
with carrot caky goodness

Little Big Cat

Today’s post at Two Writing Teachers

Walking along the busy road, I heard crying that sounded like a distressed child. I was heading toward school, and there at the crumbling corner of the building next to my school was the crier. It wasn’t a human.

A small cat who seemed like a mini wild cat was attempting to intimidate and dominate another. It stood up on a curb to boost its dominance over the harassed cat. I watched for a while while it howled and yowled, as the filthy feline below, even though larger,  calmly waited. The players never changed their positions, actions, or rhetoric.

I’m not sure why I was fascinated with this big talking cat.

Acrostics and Shadow Poems

Two Writing Teachers Blog 🙂

Today I had the opportunity to finally put one of the Ethical ELA poetry prompts to use with students! It was a rewarding and engaging lesson in the long-term substitution I’m doing in grade 11 sociology.

I wrote an acrostic with its shadow earlier this week.

Today in sociology, we were looking at social problems because they are going to develop a charity proposal. The teacher had me do that. He’ll be back the week after next, so then he’ll do something with it. I just had two more classes with them, so I stretched out this charity proposal. Since it’s (Inter)national Poetry Month, I thought we should write some poetry. Here is my sample for them.

First we brainstormed a list of social problems they were concerned about and how and by whom the solutions would come. (We didn’t dig very deeply, though. It’s been millennia and the world hasn’t figured out how to solve them, so I guess 11th graders in Bahrain can’t be expected to in one period.)

Then they collectively wrote an acrostic using the words SOCIAL PROBLEMS.

n danger of


I told them about shadow poems, as Stacey Joy had taught us this week, how they could take the foundation of the acrostic and search for the deeper shadow poem within the acrostic. They were to find the shadow poem of one of the social problems they had chosen to explore. One pair chose teenage smoking, others: sexual harassment, racism, mental health, unemployment, malnutrition, poverty. The poems are becoming beautiful, as they are continuing to work on them. Here are a few lines from some of their poems:

The constant danger is rising and everyone is not speaking about it. No one is aware; everyone is blindfolded.

We are all In danger of being harmed or harming others. Why is my mental health overlooked, why am I not heard nor seen?

How many people were shunned by society because they are unemployed? How many were overwhelmed with pressure from others to get a job?

It was so great to be able to bring the joy of poetry into the social studies classroom. What a great writing assignment, as opposed to their regular  written paragraphs and essays. I’m sold! Thank you, Stacey!

We are still in the first week of daily #verselove poetry prompts on Ethical ELA for the month of April. Do come along for the joy found in this writing community. (Did you see Dr. Kim Johnson’s poem about what writing communities bring?)

Rogan Josh

Day 5

My husband brought home two jars of sauce, a gift from a friend who thought we’d like them. They look like small jars of spaghetti sauce, only these are Indian-style masalas. One was called Rogan Josh.

I said, excitedly, “Didn’t he sing ‘You Raise Me Up‘?”

“No, that’s Josh Groban.”

“Well, I’m sure I know a Josh Rogan. Or maybe it’s Seth Rogen I’m thinking of.”

So I went online to look. Sure enough, Josh Rogin is a Global Opinions columnist for The Washington Post, and also kind of named after an Indian masala.

The jars went into our pantry. Then the other night when I was trying to finish dinner I went into the pantry to look for a can of mushrooms for our pizza. Sadly, when I went behind the jar to grab a can, (which ended up being bean sprouts instead of mushrooms), I knocked that Rogan Josh jar of sauce onto the floor. Smashed the bottom right off.

Oh, my, what a mess! Broken glass is one thing to clean up. Thick red sauce is another. Together, they are a disaster! How do you even go about cleaning up that mess?

I picked up the biggest piece of jar left with some sauce inside. I poured it in the toilet, while tracking the sauce down the hall. Then I swept up what was left and got the broom all covered with red sauce. I took the broom to the shower, tracking more sticky sauce down the hall and realized I quite possibly left glass chunks in the shower as well. Then I got the mop and a bucket of water. I pushed the small broken glass around the tiles a bit, but picked them up with my rubber flip flops when I stepped on them.

I got the vacuum cleaner out next and tried vacuuming up the wet glass particles. But who knows if I got them all. When my husband got home, I warned him not to go barefooted for a while.

In the meantime, while I cleaned, I noticed the Rogan Josh smelled really good, and I wondered if I would ever buy another jar of that sauce to try it.

I never found mushrooms, and I did not put those beansprouts on my pizza either.

100 Things I’m Grateful For

Day 3

Today, I’m grateful for…

  1. my home
  2. my husband
  3. the joy I have when he comes home
  4. my daughters
  5. my sons-in-law
  6. the future
  7. Bahrain
  8. vaccines
  9. clean water
  10. wearing flip flops every day for a year
  11. surviving the last year
  12. gifts of the heart
  13. the healthy pizza I had for dinner
  14. Al Raja School
  15. good neighbors
  16. books to read
  17. more people forced to deal with the reality of white supremacy than the previous year
  18. being in a new civil rights chapter
  19. notebooks to jot in
  20. peace
  21. love
  22. joy
  23. patience
  24. kindness
  25. goodness
  26. gentleness
  27. faithfulness
  28. self-control
  29. and those who live in the fruit of the Spirit
  30. fancy car horns that make me smile
  31. calendars
  32. friends to drink tea with
  33. friends to write poetry with
  34. friends to blog with
  35. children’s laughter
  36. board games
  37. a cushy chair at my dining room table
  38. being able to teach part time and a variety of experiences this year
  39. retirement coming
  40. cookies
  41. ginger molasses cookies
  42. chocolate chip cookies
  43. chocolate crinkle cookies
  44. soft pumpkin cookies with cream cheese icing
  45. oatmeal raisin cookies
  46. Lent and how when it’s over I’ll eat cookies again
  47. Jesus
  48. Christians who act like Jesus
  49. rainbows
  50. crocheting
  51. creating
  52. call to prayer
  53. letters in the mail
  54. a clean page
  55. new earbuds
  56. smiling
  57. the paintings  around my apartment–
  58. the tropical flower my daughter painted in high school
  59. the Bahrain map
  60. the souq
  61. Rachel Maddow
  62. Kamala Harris
  63. Joe Biden
  64. wool, cotton and linen yarn
  65. my avocado sapling
  66. all my houseplants
  67. avocados
  68. sourdough
  69. kiwi
  70. navel oranges from Egypt
  71. Fuji apples
  72. karak tea
  73. electricity
  74. clean power
  75. reducing
  76. using up leftovers
  77. students who keep learning
  78. students who bring joy to teaching (Fran McCrackin’s sweet student yesterday)
  79. wind (Kevin’s poem “That Wind of Gust and Din” reminded me how I love a good wind storm)
  80. winds that don’t do damage
  81. Trevor Noah
  82. Hagar seeing the God who sees her
  83. Bartimaeus seeing more than the people around him
  84. my sisters and brothers
  85. my pressure cooker
  86. losing 30 pounds this year
  87. someday buying new clothes
  88. someday going to a party
  89. Special Olympics
  90. spelling bees
  91. mops to clean up spills
  92. the memory foam pad on my bed
  93. hard drives to share files and not have to upload for hours at a time
  94. fast Internet when I have it
  95. hearing so many different languages when I walk in my neighborhood
  96. tissues
  97. Fitbit
  98. church that can still meet online
  99. a future and a hope
  100. my home