Slice of Life: Reveling in a Quiet Room

(This is for the Slice of Life, hosted by Two Writing Teachers. We write each Tuesday — and all through March —  about the small moments in the larger perspective … or is that the larger perspective in the smaller moments? You write, too.)

Every year, for past nine years, I have looked at the March Slice of Life Challenge, and thought: I can’t do it. A Slice of Life post — looking at the small moments of the day — every single day? I have other things going on! But then, I seem to mostly do it, right through every day in March. Tomorrow will be the 10th March that I have dipped into Slice of Life with the folks and friends at Two Writing Teachers. It’s a reason to write. It’s a reason to take notice of the small moments of the world. It’s a reason to connect with others (commenting on other blogs is highly encouraged).

So, here I am on, on a regular Tuesday Slice of Life .. getting ready of the first March Slice of Life that starts tomorrow ….

We came back yesterday from Winter Break, and I returned with a cough and cold that lingered and returned from two weeks prior. It made for a long first day back, as you might imagine. I was sucking cough drops and chugging juice, and hoping my voice would hold out. It did, barely.

I also started the new week with an expected IEP meeting right at the start of the day. I had it in my calendar as being later in the day and made plans, and suddenly realizing that either I had it wrong or someone changed the time without me knowing about it had me scrambling like crazy for the substitute teacher, and that panicky sense of the day never left me.

At the end of the day, I just sat there in my chair in an empty room, taking in the quiet. It was one of those days.

Peace (in the room),
Kevin

 

Slice of Life: Even Fools Can Dream of Spring

(This is for the Slice of Life, hosted by Two Writing Teachers. We write each Tuesday — and all through March —  about the small moments in the larger perspective … or is that the larger perspective in the smaller moments? You write, too.)

A good friend of mine yesterday sent his group of pals — including me — a beautiful shot of the beach near his house as a text message. Blue skies. Sun, bright as a flashlight. Waves lapping at the shore. Sand everywhere you look. He lives just a few hours south of me, in Connecticut.

“Lovely day at the beach,” he wrote.

It felt like he was taunting me.

I looked out my back door here in Western Massachusetts, saw nothing but hills of white, and a snowman my son and I built the other day leaning left, and texted back: “Still got $%&*load of snow in our yard.”

There is still way too much snow here, although this week’s warming weather — via the same weather front that is giving him temps in the mid-50s to low 60s — will likely melt off a few more inches, and likely create more ice for us to slip on. But still, who can argue with warmer weather during February break? We might even hit 50 this week.

My son rode his bike on the bike path all the way into the town center for a breakfast sandwich yesterday. No ice on the path, he reported, as if he were a scout on patrol for the changing season and monsters were just on the edge of the horizon.

I nodded at his keen observation.  It’s way too early to be looking for flowers and I am no fool. The calendar says “February,” and I know winter ain’t done with us yet.

But even fools can dream of Spring, right?

Peace (sunny and mild),
Kevin

Slice of Life: Artwork in the Mail

(This is for the Slice of Life, hosted by Two Writing Teachers. We write each Tuesday — and all through March —  about the small moments in the larger perspective … or is that the larger perspective in the smaller moments? You write, too.)

For more than a year now, I have been involved in a postcard writing/mailing project with folks in my connected circles, mostly through the CLMOOC clan. This year, a subset of the Postcard-ers is doing Data Postcards along agreed-upon theme (So this month, it was “love”).

Postcards from friends

Yesterday, I gathered up a bunch of postcards that had arrived in the last week or so, and took a picture. We like to share out, if only to show arrival. You can see a woodcut postcard of Woody Guthrie, and a 3d keychain (and 3D shovel!), and messages about art and collaboration. And a mallard duck.

Postcards from friends

Then, yesterday afternoon, just after I posted my collection of recent arrivals, I received this gem of a postcard, and poem, from another friend, Sandy, in my mailbox. She and I connect in other spaces, such as the current Networked Narratives. Sandy does a whole other kind of postcard adventure around a magical art theme (I think). Her postcard — right from the beautiful colored handwriting on the envelope — was a work of part, and her poetry was pure beauty.

I’m lucky to have found my way into such a creative tribe.

Peace (in the post),
Kevin

Musical Slice of Life: Love and Defiance

(This is for the Slice of Life, hosted by Two Writing Teachers. We write each Tuesday — and all through March —  about the small moments in the larger perspective … or is that the larger perspective in the smaller moments? You write, too.)

In the days after the protest marches in Washington, I started to write a song about what I was seeing here at home, and how I was galvanized by the gatherings. I recorded a raw demo, but I knew I wanted to do something more with it.

So, when I had time to myself the other day (ie, family was out of the house and the world was silent), I finally got to record the song more properly, and I am happy with how it came out. When I first started writing songs, in college, all I wrote were protest songs, and my band would play them on campus to small audiences (mostly friends). That was during the Reagan years. I wonder if the Trump years will spark a new age of protest songwriting …

Well, here is Love and Defiance for you …

Peace (and resistance),
Kevin

 

 

Slice of Life: Filmed, In Progress

(This is for the Slice of Life, hosted by Two Writing Teachers. We write each Tuesday — and all through March —  about the small moments in the larger perspective … or is that the larger perspective in the smaller moments? You write, too.)

Last night, my wife and I joined about a dozen other folks in a small film editing space to view an early draft of a documentary film being made by a neighbor and an artistic partner (see their Kickstarter campaign that got them off the ground). Almost a year ago, we went to the same space, and watched a very early promotional trailer. Our friend is a professional filmmaker who has won awards for her work, so it is no surprise that the movie — which is about arming teachers in schools with guns — is a captivating piece of work.

The topic of the film remains rather jarring. Arming teachers with guns? It’s happening, and may spread now that Trump and the NRA are in power, and the movie — now tentatively entitled G is for Gun — focuses on some communities in Ohio. It’s powerful, in that teachers from both side come from the same desire: to find a way to protect their students. How to do that is the dividing line in the narrative, of course. Actually, one of the more disturbing and absurd elements of their research is that schools don’t have to tell parents if teachers are being armed with guns in schools. That information can be kept from the public, and even from the police (who don’t like the idea of arming teachers, by the way, for fear of something going terribly wrong if they arrive at a school for an emergency).

Anyway …

After we watched the 40 minute film, the discussion took place, and it was pretty interesting to be in the midst of a sort of “writers’ circle” as we critiqued and complimented the aspects of filmmaking, talking about point of view, balance, filming techniques, voice, lighting, flow of story, and more. I watched my friend and her partner take in the comment, making notes, asking follow-up questions, pursuing a line of inquiry. They would glance at each other when some comment from us, the audience, hit a nerve, or shake their heads in tandem when we raised a point they had clearly already been raising, or discussing, during the editing process.

The event reminded me of the kinds of discussions about writing we nurture in our classrooms, and how — if you are lucky as an adult — you might find yourselves in the midst of rich conversations about art and writing, and filmmaking, too.

Peace (on film),
Kevin

Slice of Life: The Rhythm of the Night

(This is a post for Slice of Life, a regular writing activity hosted by Two Writing Teachers. We write about the small moments. You are invited. Come write with us.)

Nature has a beauty all of its own. So, when the sleet is using my house as a drum pad all night, I can both appreciate the music of it as well as wish Mother Nature would give it a break. The drums were a mix of hard staccato beats, the wind providing an energetic pounding, and the soft jazzy brush of light tapping, almost as if somewhere, someone was playing their saxophone underneath the street light.

And still, the music played.

I’m awake now, early morning, and so can appreciate the different tones, of how sleet hitting the window sound different from sleet hitting the slanted roof over the sun room, and now those two are different from the sound of sleet hitting the basement bulkhead door.

I can appreciate it here, in my dry house, with coffee going and school just called closed. But I know the dog is going to get up soon, and I am going to have to head out into this music, feeling the drumsticks on my head and face, and the leftover sounds from the night’s jam session crunching beneath my feet. My appreciation for music might not last.

Peace (sounds like),
Kevin

Slice of Life: Rally at the Rally

(This is a post for Slice of Life, a regular writing activity hosted by Two Writing Teachers. We write about the small moments. You are invited. Come write with us.)

There’s something powerful being in the midst of thousands of people, rallying for a cause. This weekend, my wife, older son (on his way back to college) and I joined in with about 6,000 other people on the public space of Boston’s Fanueil Hall, beneath the statue of Samuel Adams, as Sen. Elizabeth Warren fired up the public fight to try to save health care from the Republicans now in power in Washington DC.

Rally in Boston

It was my son’s first political rally as an adult, I think, although his campus is surely a hotbed of political activity these days. He has always been more Libertarian/contrarian than Democrat, so I am not sure what he got out of it. But he was yelling and clapping, too. For me, listening to Warren, and other guests at the podium, had an energizing effect, and there is a feeling that this anger and distrust of the GOP is not an isolated activity.

“Repeal and Run is for Cowards.” — Elizabeth Warren, on the GOP’s move to repeal with no known plan to replace health care coverage for millions of people.

Rally in Boston

Whether it becomes a movement of resistance will be seen, I guess, but I was heartened by Warren’s rhetoric and I know, from watching her from afar as my senator, that she is and will be a thorn in the side of Trump. Just being a thorn is OK, for now, but I also hope that something constructive can emerge that brings us together, and not more deeply apart, as a country.

Rally in Boston

Peace (mixed with resistance),
Kevin

Slice of Life: Small Game Stalker

(This is a post for Slice of Life, a regular writing activity hosted by Two Writing Teachers. We write about the small moments. You are invited. Come write with us.)

There are Big Game Hunters and there are small game hunters. I will never be a Big Game Hunter, for all sorts of reasons (including my years as an infantry soldier in the National Guard, leaving me with no desire to shoot a rifle at anything moving, and the time as a 15-year-old that I shot a flying goose right out of the sky, and felt horrible about it, even as I found it, plucked it, cooked it and ate it, for I could not let it die for no reason).

No, I am not that kind of hunter. But I found myself in small game stalker mode this week … in my garage.

We had left the garage doors open on rather brisk New England wintry day, and a bird of some domestic breed (I really don’t know my birds all that well but it likely was some sort of sparrow) had either accidentally made its way in or perhaps was seeking a covered respite from the chill. In either case, it was there, and I didn’t want it there.

Poor bird.


Bird flickr photo by JoyKirr shared under a Creative Commons ( BY-SA ) license

I was gentle in my stalking, doing a slow-motion waving with the broom, but the bird seemed determined to alight to places and fly in directions I didn’t want it to go. I felt sorry for the creature, but kept on following it, trying to shift it towards the open bay doors. It kept eyeing me warily, as it should, and then after a burst to the ceiling, it suddenly dropped to the ground. It must have run out of energy to fly, and I realized that its feet were seeking a grip on something, anything.

I grabbed a two-foot-long piece of wood post, used to stake tomatoes in warmer weather, and gently pushed it under the bird’s clawed feet. I didn’t expect much, but it worked. The bird gripped the pole and let me lift it up in the air. I was tempted to yell for someone to bring a camera, for it was a great shot — me, holding a stick about 2 feet long, and the bird balanced delicately on the other end, looking at me.

I walked slowly towards the garage opening, as if I had a light saber with a bird attached, and the bird seemed calm enough. I got us out into the open air, and felt the chill. It was below freezing out. The bird was reluctant to let go. I didn’t blame it, really, but with a quick lift of the stick, the bird took off, wings a-flutter, and then it was gone into darkness of the snowy night.

I hope it found more suitable shelter.


Bird flickr photo by s1ng0 shared under a Creative Commons ( BY-SA ) license

Peace (in the cold),
Kevin

Slice of Life: Filter (OLW 2017)

(This is a post for Slice of Life, a regular writing activity hosted by Two Writing Teachers. We write about the small moments. You are invited. Come write with us.)

If you don’t know of the One Little Word project, it is a sort of New Year’s resolution to find a single word that might guide you forward into the coming year. Last year, mine was “remember” and I kept it on my desktop all year, as a reminder to keep a foot in the past even as I moved forward.

My one word for 2017 is going to be “filter.” I chose this word because I know I need to filter my news a bit more. I am NOT one of those who gets my primary news from social media, but still … it seems like I need to more active in where I get news and from places I trust. I need to better read beyond the news, too, and not trust reporters and writers to give me the whole story. I have an obligation as a reader.

I don’t intent for my “filter” to become a closed loop, however. Or another echo chamber. I will use my filter to seek out different opinions and hopefully, engage in discussions that are meaningful. I hope my filter helps filter out the nonsense, so some semblance of a truth comes through.

Also, I need to filter my anger and angst at the Trump presidency and the GOP Congress (it’s already difficult, given that GOP gutted the ethics commission that holds Congress accountable). But if I get angry at every little thing, then I won’t be able to discern real outrage when I need it.

(I made this via http://textanim.com/)

Peace (filtering for hope),
Kevin

Slice of Life: A Tin of Anchovies

(This is a post for Slice of Life, a regular writing activity hosted by Two Writing Teachers. We write about the small moments. You are invited. Come write with us.)

Eat the fish!

My middle son (16) gifted my younger son (12) with something that caused ripples of laughter throughout the last few days. The middle child works at a neighborhood grocery store, and he eyed a tin of anchovies one day as a gag gift for his younger brother. It was under the tree on Christmas Day, wrapped up tight. After all of the presents were unwrapped and with neighborhood friends over for a brunch,  and after much daring and much back-and-forth, the younger one finally got the courage to open the tin.

Eat the fish!

With all of us watching, he slowly and dramatically peeled back the foil top, stared at the little salty fishies in the olive oil and shuddered. He backed away, then backed back in, all the while being encouraged and dared by his older brothers. (OK, maybe some of the adults joined in the chorus, too.)

Eat the fish!

He did, slowly and with great fanfare, and with scrunched up eyes, and then scrunched up lips, as if he had just sucked on a salt bar. He ate it, and declared: I am never going to eat another anchovy again in my life!

But yesterday, when we had a large family gathering, he had something even better than the fish. He had a story to tell to his cousins, uncles and aunts. That’s a gift worth celebrating.

Eat the fish!

Peace (comes a little salty at times),
Kevin