The Bluebirds Are Back

Anyone who knows me knows that I have a fondness for bluebirds. Over the past few years I have battled house sparrows who have been known to bully bluebirds. For a few years the bluebirds didn’t come back at all and I was heartbroken. But I have taken desperate measures with the sparrows (quite unlike me), and the bluebirds have rewarded me by returning.

Last week I was delighted to find a nest which inspired this poem:


The bluebirds are back!

I know because

I spied the rust-red breast.

I know because

I felt the pine needle nest.

I know because

I heard hellos expressed –

Tu-a-wee! Tu-a-wee! Tu-a-wee!


The bluebirds are back!

I know because

I peeked inside

where five smooth eggs reside.


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Planting Pansies

April is sometimes a very in-between time in the garden. In-between weather, in-between color, in-between visitors. The daffodils and forsythia provide a welcome splash of yellow, but the tulips aren’t up yet. The cherry tree is weeks away from blooming. Where can I find more color?


Many of my regular activities have been curtailed due to some back issues, but yesterday I was determined to plant pansies by the mailbox. There’s something about their heart-shaped faces that are so cheery and welcoming. They are also edible with a minty flavor, although I have never eaten any. At the garden center I chose deep purple and soft yellow (even though I already have lots of yellow in the back). Those shades just seem to go together.

Wiggly worms scurried for safety as I gently removed the withered chrysanthemums. The soft earth gave way easily to my spade. I was careful not to disturb the few emerging Tete-a-Tete daffodils already residing in that space. I tapped the containers, massaged the roots, and before long my planting was done. I hope I can keep the flowers blooming, although the hot summer may prove to be too much for these cool-weather lovers.

Pansies are a symbol of thoughts. Most of what is delivered to my mailbox are advertising flyers and bills. But occasionally there is a card or letter from a friend, perhaps an invitation, or if I’m very lucky – a book! Someone sending their thoughts into the world. Yes, I think a spot by the mailbox for pansies is perfect!


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Sunday Morning Stress

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I am participating in the March Slice of Life Story Challenge. Thanks to the co-authors of              Two Writing Teachers for creating this  supportive community.

This morning I registered to attend the New Jersey SCBWI Conference. Registration opened at 9:00 and there is a mad rush to sign up. It is the type of conference where you not only sign up for workshops, but also have the opportunity to choose one-on-one critiques with editors, agents, or authors as well as share meals with one of the faculty. Spots for the critiques and for the meals are limited. I spent the last two days researching the workshops and faculty and deciding what I was going to do. I was ready!

Worksheet. Check.

Table choices. Ready.

One-on-one choices made. Yes.

Tick…tock…5 minutes to go.

I check and recheck.

9:00. Go!!!

I’m about halfway through the process and everything is going well until…something happens! Instructions say to refresh. I refresh…and I am suddenly logged out.

Heart begins to pound.

I try to get back in. No luck.

Hands shaking.

Quick text to my critique partner. Same thing happened to her!

Try again.

Too many people?

What to do?

Keep trying.

I’m in!

Despite the delay and the stress, I was successful in getting my first choices for everything, so I hope I chose wisely. I went to this conference last year, had a great time, and learned a lot. I’ve been to many state and national conferences like ILA, NCTE, and Reading Recovery where I feel at home. The SCBWI conferences are very different, and I feel like a newbie (I guess because I am). Still trying to fit in, but I know it will come.

Thank you to everyone at TWT for providing this wonderful opportunity to connect through writing and establish such a supportive community. And thanks to everyone who wrote, read, commented, and inspired. Virtual hugs all around!

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Woes of a List Maker

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I am participating in the March Slice of Life Story Challenge. Thanks to the co-authors of              Two Writing Teachers for creating this  supportive community.

Yesterday as I was having lunch with my sister I felt a flutter against my foot as I reached into my purse to pull out my wallet.  I assumed something had fallen out, so I did a quick scan of the floor around me but didn’t see anything. It was probably nothing, I thought. That is, until I got to the grocery store.

I gathered my reusable bags, grabbed a cart, and rummaged in my purse for the grocery list I was certain I had placed in there before I left home to have lunch. I pulled things out. I looked in all the pockets. I searched inside folded receipts, a folded script for a mammogram, and a small notebook. I found tissues (new and used), several pens, a flash light, but no list. Maybe I left it on the kitchen table. So I gathered everything up, got back in my car, and went home.

No list.

I went back to my car to look some more. That’s when I remembered the flutter against my foot in the restaurant. The list had likely fallen on the floor of the diner, having long since been swept away and discarded.

By now you are thinking that this is pretty strange behavior, unless of course you are also a true list maker. This is one area where I admit to being inflexible. I just can’t shop without a list! A few months ago almost the same thing happened, but this time I had started my shopping and dropped the list somewhere in the store. I retraced my steps through the produce section but never found the list. That time, I finished my shopping…anxiously.

The silver lining in all of this is that it gave me an idea for a picture book manuscript. My character, Rabbit, is a lot like me…and a lot like the person I would like to be. I could learn from her!

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Opening Day

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I am participating in the March Slice of Life Story Challenge. Thanks to the co-authors of              Two Writing Teachers for creating this  supportive community.

Yesterday was the opening day of the baseball season and the Phillies won 10-4! I wasn’t there, but managed to catch most of it on TV, including the grand slam by Rhys Hoskins. So in honor of baseball and Poetry Friday, here’s a found poem from the words of Mike Sielski whose article appeared on the front page of the Philadelphia Inquirer this morning.

Opening Day

pomp and pageantry

a succession

of sights and scenes and sounds

an eerie silence

the crowd inhales

holds their breath


collective disapproval for the intentional walk

bases loaded

a 96-mph fastball rockets into the left-field seats

grand slam!

the most joyous seconds

of the most enjoyable day

of baseball


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In Sadness

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I am participating in the March Slice of Life Story Challenge. Thanks to the co-authors of              Two Writing Teachers for creating this  supportive community.

I didn’t plan to write about this today. But as I sat at my computer searching for a slice, my thoughts kept returning to our backyard neighbors. That’s when I knew I had to write about it. You see, I spent a good part of the morning at the funeral of their son.

I spent a lot of time this week looking at their house…remembering.

Although they were a little younger, our kids played together. Their yard was the access to the development behind us where our kids would ride bikes, meet up with friends, and go sledding.

I spent a lot of time this week looking at their house…wondering.

They say no one should ever have to bury a child, and I know it’s true. How could it be possible to say goodbye to someone you gave life to? To let go all too soon?

I spent a lot of time this week looking at their house…praying.

When we got to the church, the line to pay respects to the family was already down the block. We gave quick hugs to several friends as we took our place at the end of the line, which continued to grow. Friends of the young man, friends of his siblings, friends of the parents. All waiting to express sorrow and disbelief. All wanting to let them know that someone cared.

I spent a lot of time this week… thinking about life.



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Junk Drawer Treasure

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I am participating in the March Slice of Life Story Challenge. Thanks to the co-authors of              Two Writing Teachers for creating this  supportive community.

I love junk drawers!

Probably because I have several, maybe at least one in every room.

Probably because I never feel like cleaning them out.

Probably because they are always good for finding some treasure that will unearth a memory or two. Take for example this morning…

I opened the drawer of my desk to find a particular size Post-it and there they were – three Sanford Vis-à-vis Permanent Fine Point markers. Almost a complete set (missing the blue). And suddenly it was at least fifteen or twenty years in the past and I was getting ready for a presentation for teachers the next day. I needed overhead transparency markers (depending on your age you may or may not know what that is), and I was in a panic. Allan offered to go get the markers for me, but when he got to the store, he wasn’t sure if I needed permanent or the wet wipe kind (this was before the days of cell phones and the term dry erase), so he came home with both. The markers I had were probably left from that night many years ago, since I used the permanent markers less frequently. I don’t recall how the presentation went, but I’m certain that thanks to Allan’s kindness, my transparencies were a success.


A quick internet search helped me discover that these makers are now made by EXPO and are almost all for dry-erase boards. Those with permanent ink are probably no longer even being manufactured, although I did find them on eBay.

This morning there was an article on the front page of the paper about a chair from colonial times that a man had in his house. It was sold at auction for more than $300,000. I know my markers aren’t worth that much, but the memories are priceless.

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