Slice of Life – Whoa, Summer!

Today’s Slice of Life at TwoWritingTeachers.org, 31 August 2021

Wow, here we are and another summer gone. School started for teachers this week, and I am officially just a volunteer for four more months, when we will leave the country. Though I have spent a few hours at school this week for some meetings, helping with curriculum questions, and searching for books, I am no longer employed. It has been a long and weird transition of leadership due to the pandemic and a whole year of mostly-online learning. Now we are transitioning to mostly in-person learning (knock on wood), and there were some things the new coordinator never saw or needed to do last year. I am glad I was still around to help her sort those out.

Anyway, summer is gone. I looked back at a July post where I wrote many of my goals for the weeks of summer, a summer spent here in Bahrain in the thickness of heat and humidity. Looking back, I can say it was a productive and happy summer. I definitely accomplished a lot on my list, with a few items left to carry over for the fall. However, knowing I didn’t have to return to the full-time grind allowed me to have both a relaxed and fruitful summer.

A poem attempt today, trying a form by Joyce Sidman, used in her book Winter Bees and Other Poems of the Cold, and described here in this post by Michelle Heidenrich Barnes.

Summer

What does summer know?
Time to bud and blossoms showing
Merrily, merrily, life a-rowing
Calm and meditative glowing

What does summer know?
Wide-eyed wonder, newness flowing
Memory-building ripe for stowing
Almost over — attempt at whoa-ing

After reading the comment by Carol (below), I added this poem to an image I took this summer. In this photo of a common beach scene, fishing boats are anchored, for people are resting safely during the heat of the day. If you look off to the right of this photo, across the Arabian Gulf lies Iran, beyond that…Afghanistan, where many people are not resting safely and peacefully right now. I couldn’t help but read my poem again, noticing the privileged tone and all the missing summer pain of pandemics, hurricanes, and displacement. Praying for those in Afghanistan, Louisiana, and all others who are hurting.

Slice of Life – Disengaging with Fiction

Today’s Slice of Life at TwoWritingTeachers.org, 10 August 2021

The year was 1992 and my husband was traveling for his job. My children were two and four, and we had been at some friends’ house all day playing with their kids and passing the time. As we were leaving Kevin gave me a book, The Sphere, by Michael Crichton. I have no idea if the book was any good, or if I just needed an adult book and anything would have worked. Perhaps I had mentioned earlier in the day that it had been a long time since I had read a novel, and that is why he gave it to me. Anyway, I brought it home, put the girls to bed, and started reading it. I’m not a super fast reader, but for some reason my brain devoured this science fiction book and I read it until 3:00 a.m., and when I finally turned the last page I went to bed.

Those devouring reading times have come once in a while throughout my life when I have fasted too long from reading. For the past few years of teaching grade 5, my students and I have kept track of our reading. Each year I read 40-60 books. However, the pandemic came and reading became something I neglected. I don’t know why.

However, this month reading is coming back to me, fortunately. I read Clint Smith‘s How the Word is Passed, Winn Collier‘s Holy Curiosity, and yesterday I read most of The Racketeer by John Grisham. It was awful, but mesmerizing. I just had to finish it, kind of like The Sphere all those years ago. It reminded me that I need to find good fiction and start reading again! I need fiction to disengage and relieve stress, stress internalized from the daily news as well as the nonfiction books I’m reading.

Do you have any suggestions for my next adult or young adult fiction book?

Early Birthday Celebrations

Today’s Slice of Life at TwoWritingTeachers.org, 3 August 2021

Even though it’s a few days before my birthday, I’ve begun to celebrate. Today my friend took me to my favorite coffee shop for my favorite drink–Kaldi chai. It’s their special recipe of milk tea with spices and lots of ginger. So yummy. She said it was a Friendship Day / Birthday tea party.

Our favorite restaurant is Lumee Street Café. This evening Keith and I went for an early birthday dinner.

Here’s the description of what we ordered (from the downloaded menu still on my phone). The pictures were taken after we had dug in and removed a lot of the yummy stuff.

On the lower left:

Couscous Salad with Grilled Chicken Breast – Spiced couscous, peas, long beans, snow peas, raisins, roast peppers, sun-dried tomato, pomegranate, caramelized onion, grilled chicken breast slices

On the lower right:

Cauliflower Koshari – Steamed cauliflower rice, fire-roasted cauliflower, green lentils, chickpeas, gluten-free spaghetti, onion hamsa, flax seeds, sunflower seeds, spicy daqoos sauce (V, GF)

Then dessert of Pralines and Cream from Baskin-Robbins.

In between I read chapters in the novel Me Before You by Jojo Moyes. Now I’m relaxing and writing this post on my phone before I turn in early to read more in my book.

 

Fill the Well

Today’s Slice of Life at TwoWritingTeachers.org, 27 July 2021

Fill the well.
Meditate.
Grace.
Play.
Be.
A human being.
Human doing can wait awhile.
Rest.

I’ve had a couple of busy weeks, and today I am relaxing and taking time to be.

One thing I did to start my day, though, was watch a video from Kate Messner for Teacher’s Write. I’m glad I went back to this Week 2 event and watched the recording because I wasn’t able to join for the live event. Authors Linda Sue Park, Linda Urban, Tracey Baptiste and Jen Vincent joined  Kate Messner to share specific ways to experience that grace and filling the well of our beings after a difficult year.

Slice of Life – Eid Al Adha

Today’s Slice of Life at TwoWritingTeachers.org, 20 July 2021

It’s Eid Al Adha today, which is one of two of the multi-day Eid holidays in Islam. It’s a commemoration of Ibrahim being willing to sacrifice his son. But a substitutionary animal was provided by God that was used for the sacrifice instead. Today, Muslims will slaughter a lamb or goat and give a third to the poor,  a third to a neighbor or relative, and a third will be for their family dinner.

We don’t celebrate Eid, but we do get to have three days off this week. I’m involved in helping to lead a workshop for storytelling four half-days this week, so I’m busy preparing and attending that. However, this morning we took some delicious time to sit in a coffee shop for a flat white and chai latte and take a walk around the mall.

Slice of Life – Flowers for Butterfly

Today’s Slice of Life at TwoWritingTeachers.org, 13 July 2021

“Just living is not enough. One must have sunshine, freedom, and a little flower…”

Today, I hadn’t considered a slice of life I wanted to share, but then I saw the quote Kathleen wrote on the post and I liked it. I let that be my inspiration. First, I read “The Butterfly” by Hans Christian Andersen–the fairy tale from where the quote came. Butterfly is looking for a spouse among the flowers, but doesn’t find one he wants to settle down with. Finally, he gets pinned down and stuck indoors. Here is a sweet passage about the daisy:

The French call this flower Marguerite and say that it can prophesy. Lovers pluck off the leaves, and as they pluck each leaf they ask a question about their sweethearts, thus: “Does he or she love me? Dearly? Distractedly? Very much? A little? Not at all?” and so on. Each one speaks these words in his own language.
The butterfly came, also, to Marguerite to inquire, but he did not pluck off her leaves; he pressed a kiss on each of them, for he thought there was always more to be done by kindness.

Yesterday I watched an art project video that included grounding oneself in the earth, and I wrote about it here. But I did not take time yesterday to go outside, as it takes quite a few hundred steps to get past the concrete and bricks that surround me. Instead, I just stayed home and did the art project.

Today, however, I did go sit in a garden. I thought I’d look for a companion for Butterfly. There were so many possibilities…

The frangipani, or plumeria, so splendid that it needs two magnificent names to handle its impact. Long-lasting and sweet-smelling like the flower garlands around the necks of celebrants and honorees.

The impatiens are anything but impatient. They hold their hand open wide and welcoming. At the same time, they line the sidewalks like strong little bodybuilders willingly doing the heavy-lifting in this summertime heat.

The intoxicating oleander, beautiful but bitter.

The bougainvillea running all over the yard like a wild party, but they are ready with sharp claws if you take advantage.

The tiny bouquet-within-a-flower of the lantana, a medley of colors. They seem so wholesome, a homespun treasure.

I couldn’t decide either. I just pressed a kiss on each one and left them in peace.

Slice of Life – We the Peoples?

Today’s Slice of Life at TwoWritingTeachers.org, 6 July 2021

Last Monday Kate Messner sent out the first week’s #teacherswrite summer camp prompt. We were to go outside and breathe intentionally and write. It was a hot day, but I did go out and breathe and write. I wrote a post about that here.  I had yet to take this challenge though: “think about a time when you were growing up and you felt peaceful and whole.” So for my Slice of Life today, I wrote this…

We the Peoples?

When I was a little girl, I spent most weekends
in the land of the peoples of
the Serrano, the Chemehuevi, and the Cahuilla.
We worked hard to clean up the place
homesteaded by Grandpa thirty years earlier.
It had been sitting empty
except for the birds and other creatures
who found shelter through the broken windows.
Weekends of hiking, exploring, and collecting memories,
along with picking up stuff abandoned long ago
by homesteaders who bought five acres of land
in baby homesteading grants,
many sight unseen. They
built 12 x 16-foot shacks
on parcels without water
or situated in a wash.
Most didn’t stay.

When I was a little girl, I spent most weekends
in the land of the peoples of
the Serrano, the Chemehuevi, and the Cahuilla.
The homesteaders who came and built
were not native peoples who in centuries before
ate and survived in this rich Mohave desert.
Most homesteaders wanted
a vacation getaway from Los Angeles.
Some were like my grandfather
who left his work in policing
because of his emphysema,
and came for better air to breathe.
After we cleaned up the “cabin” (we called it),
my grandma eventually moved in
to live the rest of her years. After she died,
my mother lived her last thirty years
in that same cabin.

When I was a little girl, I spent most weekends
in the land of the peoples of
the Serrano, the Chemehuevi, and the Cahuilla.
I felt peaceful and whole
growing on weekends in this place
that held my family’s history.
Free to be wild and roam in safety far away
from the busyness of the suburbs,
away from the L.A. smog,
which ravaged the air back then.

When I was a little girl, I spent most weekends
in the land of the peoples of
the Serrano, the Chemehuevi, and the Cahuilla,
though I don’t remember ever knowing
anyone from these people groups.
Most of the people I saw were white.
I was a person full of privileges–
a car and the means to travel two-and-a-half
hours to get away every weekend,
generations of loving family surrounding me,
skin that didn’t get questioned by police,
skin that was never stopped from
going anywhere we wanted,
but instead gently warned
to be wise for our own safety,

When I was a little girl, I spent most weekends
in the land of the peoples of
the Serrano, the Chemehuevi, and the Cahuilla.
I felt peaceful and whole in this place,
Full of the privileges afforded
white people in a system made by and for them.
I lived in a nation of we the people,
not we the peoples.
Though I felt peaceful and whole,
how many peoples around me
did not feel the same?

The following is a check-in for the #teacherswrite Week 1 with Jen Vincent.

What are your goals for Teachers Write?
I participated in Kate’s #teacherswrite summer camp in the past in 2012 and 2017. I also dabbled in the summers between those two years. I did not participate at all in 2018-2020. Now, here I am again. I have been writing more than ever since the pandemic started, mostly poems and blog posts. So when I saw the tweets about #teacherswrite, I was excited and wanted to try again. Funny though, I didn’t even make a goal this year. I have other kinds of goals that include writing. Here is my summer list of goals. However, I am not writing a children’s novel like I tried to and never finished in 2017. (Maybe next year I’ll come back to that children’s novel.) This July, I think I will just follow the prompts. The one goal I have is to be more descriptive and take more time with the writing on my blog posts. (I sometimes write too much, and it’s boring, as you can see here.) Also, now that I’ve seen Kate Messner’s Week 2 prompt where she takes us on an adventure of picture book writing about ourselves, I will take that challenge–I wonder what I will learn about the child that became this adult.

How did you do this week? Did you meet your weekly goal(s)?
Because I didn’t have any writing goals, I just watched for Kate’s email and thought I would let that inspire me. I am already behind, but getting back on track now!

What was the pit of your week? (The hardest part, the non-fun part?)
The pit of my week was not about writing, but I’ve had to say goodbye to some special people who are leaving Bahrain this week. I will be leaving myself in six months. That has been hard to say goodbye, but also being reminded that I will be saying goodbye soon.

What was the peak of your week? (The best part, the most-fun part?)
I’m going to go back to last week because I’m behind on the check-ins and another is coming up in a couple days. On the last weekend of June I participated in The Poetry Marathon, which was writing 24 poems in 24 hours. It was very rewarding and lots of fun. I wrote about it on Friday.

Did you see Kate Messner’s new picture book about Dr. Anthony Fauci? Beautiful!

Slice of Life – Memory Book for Our Beloved Principal

Today’s Slice of Life at TwoWritingTeachers.org, 29 June 2021

Monday, after two weeks working on a memory book for our beloved principal, we were finally ready to turn the files in for printing at the Copy Top. We had made a collage of photos for the cover but had a hard time deciding what to write. We couldn’t settle on a title for the book. We finally decided we would write what has become an unofficial motto of our school this year: “with great love.”

The Copy Top shop is actually closed during our present lockdown. They are only allowed to do pickups and deliveries, so all business happens on the phone, WhatsApp, and from the car in the front of the shop.

I went to the shop and M came out to the car to collect all the needed files. I started to explain that we wanted just three words printed on the cover. He said to send the words in WhatsApp and then gave me his phone number. Before I had a chance to add his number to my phone, he texted me because he got my number from his boss, whom I had been communicating with.

We then had the following conversation:

I laughed after I saw the timing of those texts wondering what he thought of my first “with great love.”

Tuesday Morning…

Just 24 hours later M called and said the book was ready. A presentation was made to the principal on the last working day for the administrative staff. A rewarding job complete!