Slice of Life – April is off and running

March was a busy month with blogging daily for the March Challenge, working some and a small local trip planned. All that said I found time for reading, walking and just doing a few things for myself.  I found quiet time and a time of feeling at peace.

April started and we went on a short trip to the north shore of Lake Superior. It is a quick get away place for us. When we returned I knew that state testing season would be on us. I knew that I would be working most days of April. There is no way around it. It is what I signed up for. I am the test coordinator.

Boy – I did not realize how peaceful I had had it. I had forgotten those days that flew from 7 to 2 before you sit down and think or eat lunch. I had forgotten the exhaustion one might feel after multi-tasking for 6 hours straight. I had pushed aside that achy feet and back feeling when you stand all day and then realize at 3:00 that you really need to take your shoes off and sit down.

Life of a teacher is amazing. It is one of constant thinking, planning, adjusting and moving. It is a good thing. It keeps your brain flexible and challenged. It keeps you alert and active. (My Fitbit has lots of steps on it at the end of the day even before I take my walk.)

I love my time with students and teachers. I am glad I have this part time work that keeps me moving, thinking and busy. I love the constant need to be alert and make changes and solve problems. It is all good.

IMG_1225.jpgThat said I will be happy in early May when I can take a short break from testing – travel to see the tulips in Iowa and slow my days down for a few weeks. ( There is always one more round of testing at the end of May.)

Retirement is great – I can work full out for a month or so and then slow down, take a walk, take time for my garden and enjoy the sun!  DSC03788.jpg

I also marvel at all our teachers who do this every day all school year. It is what teachers do – multi-task, problem solving, planning, creating, caring, moving and loving!


Yeah for teachers!!!!! and yeah for quiet walks at the end of the day!!


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Slice of Life – Tuesday – family language

Words or phrases we grow up with are very interesting. Each family has their own references to people, places or events. It is like the air we breathe – it is all around us and we don’t really pay attention to it.  We don’t realize that others don’t have a clue what we are taking about.

Some of our phrase are related to the area we live in. These descriptors fall into our language without our thinking about it.  I often use the phrase “down the road” – that works well if you live on a country road but I live in a big city with streets and I never lived in the country although my Grandparents did.

We have a variety of names for our parents or grandparents. They might be mom,  mother, pop, dad, papa, grandpa, grandma, nana, – the list goes on. Each family has a culture that helps to develop this language.

Do you have a yard or a garden? Do you walk by the creek or a stream?

There are the phrases like “shape up or ship out”, “Like it of Lump it”, “Don’t burn your bridges before you come to them”.

I am guess there are thousands of these – I don’t know where most of them came from but I grew up listening to many of them. I know I have used some with my children. I am curious what phrase they laugh at that I still use.

There are names for parts of the house – my family farm had two areas that were called the Summer kitchen. Now I get a summer kitchen is/was a kitchen outside a bit aways from the house. It was a place that was cooler to cook in the heat of the summer. Often found in southern farm homes. But my family lived in Iowa – not extremely hot and very cold in the winter. There were two places called the summer kitchen in this farm house. One a small attic room off a second floor bedroom. No way were you going to cook in this hot small attic. The other was a shed just off the kitchen and it might have been a place you could cook but again it was small, not much for windows and a small door. It is hot as hell in that shed in the summer.  Who would be cooking in there?  Why do we call these places the summer kitchen?

So now I am left wondering where do this phrases come from, who started them – are they connected to a community or to a family culture. I am on the hunt to find out where some of our family phrases have come from and what or where was the real summer kitchen.

Do you have a family language? Are there phrases you use that make people look at you a bit odd and wonder what you are referring to?  Please share!

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Tuesday – Slice of Life – lakes and fog

We arrived at the shores of Lake Superior yesterday. A haze hung over the city of images.jpgDuluth as well as the lake. It made the air heavy, and a bit chilly but it’s April in Northern Minnesota. It is to be expected. It cleared in the mid afternoon and evening to give us a blue sky and glass still lake. A perfect walking night.

We have a room at a B and B that sits on the southern end of the lake. There is a large picture window facing out to watch the water, the fisherman and the large salties (ore boats) that come in through the little canal and under the lift bridge.

Sometime in the middle of the night I woke to find the world had disappeared back into a deep fog leaving the lift bridge only an orange glow as the lights tried to pierce through the fog. The rest of the city on the hill had vanished and the lighthouse at the end of the canal was only a flash of red and green lights barely visible. The low deep sound of a fog horn was sounding every 5 to 10 minutes.

imgres.jpgI settled into the comfortable rockers by the window to view a land of magic. The fog changing how I see and what I feel about the world around me. The trees growing across the garden changed as my vision moved further out. The first one showed sharp edges and the detail of limbs and buds. The next tree blurred around the outline and each tree beyond became less distinct and then they faded away completely.

Watching this world of fog and water in my half sleepy state I thought I heard the voices of fairy folk, the murmur of trees and plants in their early spring arousal. It was easy to feel the line between the hard fact reality with sharp lines and the soft play of imagination. It was an edge that could lead to pleasant fairy tales or dark brooding fears. It was the moment that you know many have faced and fallen into dark thoughts. Yet for me on this one night the water, the closeness of the fog, the trees and the quietly rolling waves rocked me into to a relaxed silence. A time to just sit. A time to do nothing but breathe and be held by the world around me.


(Solglimt Bed and Breakfast – ) – photos are not from this evenings sitting adventure. I was to lost in the silence to find a camera.)


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Day 31 – Slice of Life Challenge – Final Day – What I learned again!

31-day-streak-with-border.jpgThank You to this team of writers – to those who set this up, to those who wrote and commented for a few days or for 31 days. It makes a difference for each of us who are writers and for students learning to write!

I began writing with the Challenge six years ago! Wow – six year of writing for 31 days in a row is a big deal to me. Writing is something I dreamed about as a kid and stayed as far away as possible. The act of writing was scary, frustrating and something I thought was out of my reach. The ideas were never the issue but the act of organizing my thoughts, putting words to paper – spelling, editing and flow seemed to be beyond the skills of a learning disabled kid.

When I was little there was not help and no one used the words disability or dyslexic. It was just thought you weren’t very smart. Over time I learned that was not true and grew up to help student learn that was not a true statement – they are smart but they learn in different way.

So writing is something I came to later in life and the idea of writing and sharing my words in a public way was frightening. Yet here I am 6 years later still writing, still sharing and loving every minute of it.

Over the years I have learned:

2012 – I needed a map and at first I needed to write by hand – good old paper and pencil

2013 – reading others writing helps a great deal – we learn from others

2014 – writing gets easier the more you write, feed back is important

2015 – writing is hard work and a community can make all the difference

2016 – this writing platform helps me to keep my writing habit going – meeting, greeting, sharing is the best  – writing habits need to be reinforced from time to time

2017 – I love to write! Developing writing habits takes time – I have learn to stick with it!

Over years!!!

Thanks to everyone for writing and commenting!

I look forward to meeting up on Tuesdays Slice of Life!

Joanne slice-of-life_individual.jpgWelcome Wagon Volunteer with border.jpg



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Day 30 – Slice of Life Challenge – Close Observation

rhubarb.JPGThey are unearthing themselves slowly each day sun or no sun. The air temperature is just above 30 and if we are lucky we will hit 45 during the late afternoon.

When you walk around the garden or the neighborhood it looks as if nothing is changing. It is brown, matted, molding leafs, and the remains of last summers growth. If you move slowly and look with sharp eyes there are green plants pushing soil aside, shoving themselves through the leaf mulch but you have to stop and look.

My yard was hiding blooming yellow Aconites. The Silver Maple tree buds have been changing daily with sap dripping days when the sun shines. My neighbors front garden has had snow drops blooming for the last week and I missed them until last night. aconites.JPG

snow drips.JPGSpring comes in small steps – daffodils, tulips, lilacs all changing slowly day by day until they reach that one glorious warm and sunny day and the flowers burst open.

We Notice! We wonder – wow where did they come from?

Plants are amazing. They are in constant movement and change. It is slow but it is there daily.


Stop and watch – what is blooming in your neighborhood?




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Day 29 – Slice of Life Challenge – Finding poems

I returned to my old notebooks today to find my writing. So many are half filled. Bits and pieces of writing, and writing lessons – ones I have taught or were taught to me as part of writing classes I have taken.

Ideas like:

  •  A poem of senses  – What do I hear? see? feel? and smell?
    • Smell –  I smell the soil beneath my feet, soft, squishing leaves, and molding moss clinging to the rotting trunk as the cool fog drifts past
    • See – I see the bright green of young pine trees jumping out at us as we move. The red leaves slowing turing to fall brown as other colors fade in the cool morning air.
    • Hear – I hear Garcia slip past me as the leaves crunch, and the soil squishes. The sounds fade for a moment as she barks. Silence before the songs of the forest return.
  • A poem hides –  where do poems hide?
    • A poem hides in the fibers of wool gloves where my fingers warm.
    • A poem hidden inside the heat and sweat of hands working the shovel of snow
    • A poem hides in the leather of my sons oversized shoes. Shoes that carry him as he weaves through his day.
  • Showing not telling

Jar by Jar 

Bubbling, splattering, steaming

mush in the pot

leaving a brown spice aroma

hot steam lifts up

four youthful adults make light work

peeling, cooking, blending

their voices sharing time current and past

these four have been at this kitchen

a tradition since they were born

turning, basting, stirring

as soon as they could stand

jar by jar they work

filling thoughts of family escapades

quite readings and laughing

each jar hold a little lemon juice

that sour moment of

sadness, anger or fear

that we hold between friends

that preserves the sauce

those thirty jars now set to cool

sealing their friendshipIMG_0634.jpg

waiting for the final ping of the lid

telling us we will all return

near year for homemade



Can you create a poem using your senses or a poem hidden some place or one that just shows not tells?


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Day 28 – Slice of Life Challenge – When students become teachers

images.jpgToday was day one of testing for our 5th graders. We are stepping into this testing season slowly with just the science test. Two days, two sections and then they are off for spring break.

The first group showed up right on time this morning – 9:00 am. There at the end of the line helping them get settled is their long call reserve teachers. She looks up and we smile. She was a student in my room years ago. She was a fifth grader in my room and now she comes in with a class of fifth graders.

The class is a restless and the boys are pushing the limits as we try to find assigned seats and pass out login in tickets. I start pleasant enough but I am not going to let this group turn goofy. The test is to important. I quick change my tone, let them know there are rules to follow and I expect them to follow them. It does not take long before they all settle down, listen up and sit down to test.

We actively monitor the kids and they are great. I let this teacher know the kids did well and so did she. They are off to their next task.

Once her students are at specialist she returns to ask a question but also tells me she remembers that tone – the “I am being mean tone”. She tells me it took her right back to her 5th grade days, created that knot in her stomach. She was always a good and quiet kids and took rules very seriously. I know she hated when I got upset with the group.

I am surprised how those memories are so strong in her and I think back and wonder was I just to harsh back then. I didn’t think I was mean but I remember having a stern voice when I needed to. As I am worrying about this she turns to me and say

” I need to practice that voice. I don’t have it yet but I know it will come.”

All I can do is smile. Yes, as teachers we do have a voice that means business, one that is friendly and caring. Yes, she remember it and knows it means business but now she also understand why teachers use that voice.

I feel old but proud as I watch her become a great teacher.

As I think about her this evening I wonder how she explains those feeling to her husband tonight at dinner. imgres.jpg

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