Tuesday, May 11, 2021

Tuesday Slice: SLL/JLL

Trying to come up with a title for this Slice, I realized I could draw from the educational alphabet acronym soup.

I am a librarian for a host of kids who are ELLs--English Language Learners.  I am currently an SLL--Spanish Language Learner, and a JLL--Japanese Language Learner.  The first is out of necessity; I live in Texas, and a majority of my ELL students are Spanish speakers.  The second is out of love; my bilingual daughter married a Japanese man.

This is not my first attempt at learning other languages.  Italian culture class was part of the rotation in my DoDDS elementary school in Naples, and I was in an immersion program at an Italian school in third grade.  I took French in high school (because I was born in Paris, so why not?).  In college, I attempted extracurricular classes in Spanish.  Post-grad, I studied sign language for a couple of semesters in anticipation of nonverbal students in my special education classroom, and more recently, took advantage of "rapid Spanish" online courses offered through my school district.

As an Army BRAT, I was exposed to Thai, Italian, German, and French as we moved and traveled around the world.  

You would think some of it would have "stuck", but other than a pretty good pronunciation of the European languages (that helped immensely in choir), a few choice sentences (I can ask for the bathroom, train station, and dinner in German) and two or three random hand signs...let's just say my foreign language retention is weak, at best.  Even when I have retained a bit, just for awhile, my ears haven't been able to keep up with the rapid speech of native speakers.

The difference this time is a true need, a sense of duty to respect the languages, the cultures of these important people in my life. So maybe, just maybe, my daily Duolingo lessons will help me attain some level of expression and receptive understanding in Spanish and Japanese.  I'm just thankful they are almost completely different; I don't think I need to worry about confusing español with 

Thursday, May 6, 2021

Made for joy: Spiritual Journey Thursday

Carol Varsalona's prompted theme for this month's Spiritual Journey writing is apt;  "Blossoms of Joy", beautifully aligns with the May flowers our April showers bring.

I offer a Gaelic prayer from Mary C. Earle's annotated book, Celtic Christian Spirituality:
Fashioned for Joy
As the hand is made for holding and the eye for seeing, 
thou hast fashioned me for joy.
Share with me the vision that shall find it everywhere:
in the wild violet's beauty;
in the lark's melody;
in the face of a steadfast man;
in a child's smile;
in a mother's love;
in the purity of Jesus.

--traditional Gaelic, translated by Alistair MacLean

The riotous joy of an overzealous rosebush
    celebrating the sun's return after a frigid winter

Bright pink faces to greet us at the door
Bouquets adorning our table 
almost always, for fifteen years

tiny yellow florets 
promising a harvest of cherry tomatoes
a handful of red roses, white carnations, pine boughs
 walked down the aisle
a ceramic pink pram, filled with foliage
one of those plants now a tree, bent as it hits the ceiling
lilies at a funeral, white roses on the casket
an ivy that lives on
a circlet of baby's breath
to top a white dress and patent shoes and new rosary
anniversary and
new baby and
birthday and
corsages and boutonnieres.

Flowers bloom at the touchstones and cornerstones of this one, joy-filled and tear-stained life.

Tuesday, May 4, 2021

Tuesday Slice: Big thoughts

There are so many thoughts going through my head right now, but none I particularly want to flesh out this weary, May, pre-dawn morning.  They seem too big, too deep to be tackled before the requisite amount of coffee is consumed.  I'll list them here, just so you know:  the whitewashing of the history curriculum and attempt to erase social justice from the collective vocabulary by our state government, very nearly accomplished; the need for all students and their families to be seen in our school library collections, if only, and importantly, to save lives; the inequity caused by something so simple as lack of text in children's homes (and daily attention to it) at 0 to 3 years of age.  

See, I told you--big thoughts that call for deep diving.  But there's a sense of urgency surrounding them, too, that says we don't have time to go down under, something must be done now.

The only now I can face with any sense of confidence is the work ahead of me today, this week, this summer, lots of mundane details that I can list and check off.  But maybe, just maybe, there will be some chiseling moments in that work, chipping away at those big issues at my own little corner of the monolithic establishment.

Tuesday, April 27, 2021

Tuesday Slice: The book beckons


My eyes are weary
So many words in a day
But the book insists

Those many pages
Beckon me to stay awake
Far past my bedtime

Loud alarm beeping
Rouses me from my slumber
Tired from reading

The story is still
Within me when I awake
Details free floating

Until I open
The book once more, and enter
That make-believe world.

I know haiku is meant to be a stand-alone form, but poetry rules are made to be broken, yes?  The book keeping me up at night these days is The Arctic Fury by Greer Macallister.  It's rare these days for a book to keep me up at night due to exhaustion from the day's activities; the short chapters of this book are just thrilling enough to entice me to read two or three at day's end.

Tuesday, April 20, 2021

Tuesday Slice: Spring is annoying


Spring has been
annoying this year

I hung a birdfeeder
for the first time ever
Bought spicy birdseed to
keep the squirrels away
I hoped to see all kinds of
birds at the feeder, the ones
I see in my trees all the time
But the mourning doves are such
bullies, that only the random chickadee or
blue jay gets a bite.

The squirrels may be
staying away from the feeder, but
They are enjoying the fresh soil in
the containers on my porch and patio
Throwing dirt all over as they plant who 
knows what, to be identified when the random
sprouts appear next to my ivy, lavender, random
flowering plants that I bought only because the sticker
said they would tolerate part shade, but they
are annuals, and I prefer perennials as
a lazy gardener.

It's a good thing the rose bush
is blooming profusely for the very first time,
its foliage finally covering the sight of the trash cans
(its purpose from the beginning)
And there's a tomato planted on the back porch
which should do well if I can keep the squirrels out of it.
The milkweed looks promising, if it can grow fast enough to
accommodate the butterflies when they pass through soon
But I'm not hopeful, as they aren't even two inches 
The brightly colored diners will be here any minute on
their way back from Mexico.

Tuesday, April 13, 2021

Tuesday Slice: The gap


I am dreaming

In the bathroom
there is a gap
between the floor and the wall
A sizeable one
maybe six inches deep,
a foot wide

I am not too surprised.
We live in an old house
and it is a dream, after all--
I know this.

What I don't expect
is the large snake--
wait, make that two snakes--
sleeping in the gap
I can't see their heads
only yellowish gray scales
(is there even a pattern?)
except for

one   huge    rattle
as big as my hand
its light tan segments silently still.

I am calmly afraid, if
being calmly afraid is possible.

Leaving the bathroom, 
I quietly close the door and
inform my husband, who carefully
stuffs an old bedspread 
into the gap
over the snakes
and calls a guy.

It's just a dream, after all.

Of course, I had to look up the meaning of rattlesnakes in dreams as I wrote my morning page.  Heeding warnings and boundaries, warning others before strike were the first interpretations...but they didn't make sense, since the snakes were sleeping.  Tackling problems by trusting gut instincts, and the presence of spirits close enough to sense and almost touch--now that seems more apropos.  

Tuesday, April 6, 2021

Tuesday Slice: A cup of metaphor/ writer's notes

The second cup of coffee is always sweeter
        Poured into remnants of the first
        Hot dark mixing with lighter cool
Stevia upon stevia
Half and half upon half and half
        A tiny silver spoon swirling it all together.

The first line of the poem has been stuck in my head for a week, the neurons taking it out of my mental filing cabinets each morning as I refreshed my coffee.  I finally tried expanding on it in my morning writing.

Digging deeper, I see this as a metaphor for the second half of my life:  experience building on experience, sweet gratitude for all that has come before and more good things to anticipate in the future.  The tiny silver spoon was bought in Japan, where we traveled for our silver anniversary-- a reminder of the lovely coffee serving sets in the hotel featuring similar spoons.