A Visit to Princeton

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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.

We live only about an hour from Princeton, NJ, yet my husband and I were commenting on the fact that until yesterday, we had never been on the Princeton campus. My niece is a freshman at Princeton this year, so a visit was in order. The campus is as beautiful as we expected it, despite the absence of colors. But we could imagine the promise of spring in the tall trees and manicured gardens. As we walked, we could almost hear the stately buildings whisper words from alumni such as Woodrow Wilson, JFK, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Sonia Sotomayor, and Michelle Obama.

As beautiful as the campus is, the best part of the day was spending time with Courtney. Her studies are in the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs. She loves the law and is a member of the Mock Trial Team (which just placed second in the National Tournament). She, and others like her, hold the promise of the future. And from my standpoint yesterday, it looks very bright.

Thanks, Courtney. We’re so proud of you!

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The Quicker Cooker

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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’m always looking for ways to make life in the kitchen easier. So when everyone was talking about the Instant Pot, I decided to ask for one for Christmas. Since January I’ve used it at least six or seven times with varying degrees of success. Once I couldn’t get the lid to secure correctly, and another time I couldn’t get the lid off! Then there was the time the chicken soup started to overflow, and the time the pork loin didn’t seem to be cooked enough, so I ended up finishing it in the microwave. But I think my biggest complaint is the name. Is it really “instant”?

Last night I made jambalaya for the second time in my Instant Pot. The stew itself cooks in 15 minutes, but from start to finish it takes quite a bit longer. There’s the time it takes to measure and dice the food (about 15 or 20 minutes), and make the roux (about 10 minutes). It took almost 30 minutes for everything to heat and the pressure to build enough before the 15 minutes of actual cooking time started. Then I had to let it depressurize for 10 minutes before releasing the valve completely. Everything turned out great and it was delicious, but I wouldn’t call almost an hour and a half from start to finish “instant.

I know cooking jambalaya on the stove top or in a slow cooker may have taken longer, but I still wouldn’t call it “instant.” I propose “The Quicker Cooker” as an alternate, better-suited name.

 

 

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Dr. Ned

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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 I did something to my back…again. Something that aggravated a recurring problem.

Today I visited my chiropractor.

 

Dr. Ned is something of a legend. I know many people, including my daughter, who swear by his ability to cure all your physical ills. I remember the time a co-worker basically couldn’t move from the floor in her office. That day, Dr. Ned came to the school. After a little while, probably less than a half hour, she was up and walking.

Amazing? Maybe.

Hard to believe? Almost certainly.

 

You might say Dr. Ned is quirky and perhaps a little unorthodox. He loves to talk and has definite opinions on many subjects, from nutrition to politics. He deals on a cash only basis, preferring not to deal with insurance companies. He doesn’t consult x-rays or even ask his patients to put on a hospital gown. He will watch you as you raise your arms and hands and head and place them in different positions. And he will know what to do. It’s almost like you can’t believe he’s legitimate, except that after a treatment (and it usually only takes one treatment), you feel better.

Amazing? Maybe.

Hard to believe? Almost certainly.

 

Today I visited my chiropractor.

Tomorrow I should be back to normal.

 

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The Blue Poppies

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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 entered the conservatory at Longwood Gardens a little early for my shift. I wanted to see the blue poppies, on display for about two weeks in March. I could tell from the direction most of the visitors were heading that the display this year was along the wall near the outside lily pad ponds.

I picked my way through photographers with elaborate tripod setups, stepped over camera buffs sprawled on the ground, and joined the many other garden enthusiasts who, like me, were snapping photos with our cameras.

Is it the incredible sky blue color that makes these flowers such a draw? Perhaps it is that they are not often seen outside their native habitat in the high elevations of the Himalayan Mountains. Or maybe it’s because they were at one time considered a myth. Whatever the reason, people are drawn to their beauty.

My volunteer work at Longwood isn’t always confined to the Children’s Garden. Last year a woman with a small easel and a bag of artist’s supplies approached me. She asked where she could find the blue poppies, but by that time the display was over. She explained that she had been ill and unable to make it out earlier, but that she looked forward to painting the flowers every year. She looked so disappointed. I wasn’t sure what to do until I remembered that I had some photos on my phone. I offered to send them to her, and she was most grateful. Now I make sure to snap a few pictures every year…just in case.

 

 

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As Luck Would Have It

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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.

When I began my term as president of the Keystone State Literacy Association, I received a gift from a friend who also happened to be the outgoing president – an Alex and Ani bracelet with a four leaf clover charm.

Bracelet

 

“For luck during your presidency,” he said. “Although I doubt you’ll need it.”

I know what he meant. I had spent time preparing for my role, learning all I could about the organization and its history, thinking about the future and the role I would have in leading us down that path. I was confident I could handle it.  Although I believe we can’t just wait for life to happen and need to create our own journey and find our own opportunities, there might also be a little bit of luck involved. We are lucky when we find the right people to surround us in life, the right mentors to show us the way, and the right opportunities that come along at precisely the right time. We just have to have the courage to act.

I wore that bracelet at every board meeting and KSLA function that year…just for luck. And I continue to wear it at every KSLA event I attend. It reminds me of the luck I’ve had in meeting all the special people in my life, including friends and family, and the responsibility I have to them in laying the groundwork for that little bit of Irish luck.

Thanks, Michael!

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Flowers On My Windshield

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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.

A few days ago fellow slicer, Lynne Dorfman, included a poem about flowers in her post. It spoke to all the things giving them can mean or say. And I remembered this story:

I once had a coworker who was one of the most thoughtful people I have ever known. She always remembered birthdays and anniversaries. Even after I moved to another school and she retired to raise her family, I would get a card or an email on my birthday.

I was so happy when, several years later, her children attended the elementary school where I worked. During those years I would find a small bouquet of flowers tucked under the windshield wiper on my birthday. Until one year, when I got an email instead:

Happy Birthday!  I couldn’t find your car so I left your flowers in the office. I hope you’re doing something fun and not sick.

 Turns out I had gotten a new car.

Those flowers always made me smile. To me they said, “I’m thinking of you today.”

 

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The Dactyl

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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’m taking an online course on lyrical language. Since it is designed to help writers better understand the sounds and rhythms of words in writing, the first few lessons are specifically about poetry. I’m cheating a little today and sharing a couple of poems that I wrote for one of the assignments.

The last lesson I completed was on the dactyl, a specific poetic rhythm that I’m sure you’ll be able to pick up from my poem.

Spring Flowers

Hyacinths offer a pleasant aroma.

Daffodils glow with a golden delight.

Tulips transform the drab beds with bright color.

Gardens become a spectacular sight.

 

Then there’s the fun double dactyl. There are very specific rules for this poetic form, including starting with two nonsense words. You can read more about double dactyls from Amy Ludwig VanDerwater here. My attempt was influenced by Pam Munoz Ryan’s picture book Amelia and Eleanor Go for a Ride.

A Daring Escape

Overfelt Doverfelt

Eleanor Roosevelt

Had a good friend who could

Fly airplanes high.

 

One evening Eleanor

Unprecedentedly

Flew with Amelia

Into the sky.

 

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