Lines…a Photo Challenge

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About two weeks ago, Kim Douillard of the blog, Thinking Through Your Lens, posted a challenge to notice and photograph the lines in our daily lives. Once I had it in mind, I saw lines everywhere! I also remembered this photo, one I had taken earlier in the month. It shows the back garden fence reflected on the lingering snow. I love the way the lines play against the contours of the snow.DSCN9361.jpg

One recent Sunday morning, while visiting our children, I opted for a very chilly early morning walk. I had Kim’s challenge in mind, and I was immediately intrigued by the jigsaw puzzle lines of the ice on the river. Looking down from the bridge into town, I enjoyed the linear reflections of the guardrail on the ice below. Notice, too, the lines that the tree shadows make across the floating ice. If it hadn’t been so cold, I could have stayed and watched the interplay of water, ice and shadows for quite some time. It was, however, one of those days where you have to keep moving or get inside, so I moved along.

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Walking down to the river, I noticed the water had refrozen overnight into thin layers along the banks of the river. I stepped carefully over ice and crunchy patches of snow, maneuvering down to the water’s edge. When I got closer, I saw these amazing razor-sharp lines etched into the ice.  I couldn’t believe my eyes–What incredible geometric shapes!

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In the nearby park, I discovered more lines. The veins and edges of this leaf are lovely on their own.  But with the cumulative alchemy of changing temperature, absorbing warmth, melting, etc., this leaf has created its own silhouette. Lines within lines within lines.

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Back at home this past weekend, Saturday’s snowfall, while not particularly welcome, was quite beautiful. The raised ridges on the metal barn roof peeked through the cracked lines in the snow and caught my eye. Not too long after I took this photo, the snow sheets avalanched from the roof  with a resounding Whoosh!

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And, finally, there are the lines that lead toward home–Perhaps my favorite of all.

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Thanks, Kim, for another great challenge! I appreciate how you help me see my world in new ways!

Hooray for April, Poetry and …Snowstorms?

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Each year we celebrate the arrival of spring with a brilliant blue river of flowers cascading down the hill. This year we’re still waiting.  Today’s storm feels like yet one more pause in the move toward spring. Truly beautiful…but…Sigh… I imagine the Scilla bulbs are swelling beneath the snow, yearning to burst through the earth in a riot of color.

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April 1, 2017

Scilla Waits for Spring

Winter white returns
Our hillside Scilla river
will slumber longer

Tucked beneath the snow
Brilliant blossoms poised to burst
Scilla waits for spring

Molly Hogan (c) 2017

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April 17, 2016

 

The Secret Delight of Poetry

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DSC_77491398541505.jpg(Amanda Voisard/For The Washington Post)

This week in anticipation of National Poetry Month the Washington Post published Garrison Keillor’s piece, “The Secret Delight of Poetry.” What a treat! His dry wit and wry sense of humor are evident in full force and it was an utter delight to read from start to finish. Here’s one small excerpt:

“This is the power of poetry. Poets get the girl.

Football heroes get concussions or need hip replacements. My classmates who played football are walking with canes and moaning when they sit down, and they find it hard to figure out the 10 percent tip at lunch. We poets go sashaying along, perpetually 17, lost in wonder at the ordinary, astonished by streetlights, in awe at lawn ornaments, bedazzled by baristas releasing steam into milk for the lattes.”

The man can write, can’t he? I’ve read that final phrase over and over–“bedazzled by baristas releasing steam…”  Ahhh…. There is also a more serious vein to his piece, though, hidden among the hyperbole.

“This is what you learn during Poetry Month. You may lose the vote, fall into debt, suffer illness and remorse, feel lost in the crowd, and yet there is in language, everyday language, a source of such sweet delight…”

This year, more than most, I’ve been reminded of the power of language, of words–the power to explain, the power to mislead, the power to divide and the power to unify. I’ve written to explore this new world we live in and to express my concern, my sorrow, my confusion and sometimes, my anger. I’ve written to share moments of joy and gratitude and to explore relationships and ideas. And sometimes I’ve written to experience the sheer beauty of playing with words and combining them in a new or unusual way. I’ve found solace and clarity in writing, and above all else, I’ve found community.

With this post I’m finishing the TWT Slice of Life Challenge: I’ve now blogged 31 days in a row.  I finish feeling enriched by participating and feeling incredibly thankful for online writing communities–places where I can join with others in a celebration of all the “sweet delights” of language, both poetic and prosaic.

If you’re interested in delighting in poetry, head on over to this week’s Poetry Friday Roundup hosted by the wonderful Amy Ludwig VanDerwater at her blog The Poem Farm. Take some time to browse through Amy’s rich home to all things poetic. You’re sure to come away delighted!

Inbox Poems

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March SOLC–Day 30

If you can write a book spine poem, why not write a poem from e-mail subject headings?  I probably have an advantage since I have about 2,000 e-mails in my Inbox, but I only culled from the first 100. Also, I limited myself to my work e-mail. My personal e-mail would have been more fun, but I wanted to increase the challenge!

Here are two:

Whoa—did you see the forecast?
Heads up!
Conferences
Adventure Time

Taste Bud Makeover
How was it??
Overprocessed

What can you create from your Inbox?

Three Things

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Whoa! The combination of daily blogging, teaching and parent teacher conferences just about does me in each March! It’s difficult to find time to think this week, much less time to write! It’s also easy to focus on the daunting piles of work and the crazy schedule and forget to be grateful for all the happy, little things. So, in an effort to reset the lens, here are three things I was grateful for yesterday:

  1. I pick my clothes out at night for the next day. Almost every evening I whine, “Kurt, what should I wear to school tomorrow?” It’s become a bit of a joke. His standard response is, “A black bra and pink panties.” He thinks that’s hilarious because I hate the word “panties” and because it’s so patently unhelpful. Last night, however, I walked into my room, looked in the closet, and an outfit practically fell off the hangers into my outstretched hands. That’s a reason for some gratitude!
  2. This year I moved up from teaching first grade to teaching fourth. In the afternoons after I walk my class to the buses, the K-2 wing is exiting the building. On my way back in I often see my former students and receive smiles, greetings and lots of hugs. Today’s count was three huge hugs and loads of smiles!
  3. Despite three no-shows and two re-schedulings today, I’m halfway done with conferences. I received a lovely sincere apology e-mail from one of my no-shows. “Dear Mrs. Hogan, I’m so sorry I missed parent teacher conference this morning.  I told C. to tell you I was a bonehead, but he refused.  It completely slipped my mind until we were out the door.  I know your time for these things is valuable, so let me apologize again.” Loved it!

Two more days in the challenge and two more days of conferences! It’s looking increasingly possible that I’ll make it through!  Hope you’re finding many things to be grateful for in your days.

Right now

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March SOLC–Day 28

Right now, it’s 4:17 am. I’m sitting at the table in front of my computer. It’s still dark outside and the interior lights reflect off the windows. When I look up, I see my outline and below it, the apple icon on my computer glows back at me, floating oddly in the dark window. My coffee steams gently in my favorite Quebec City mug and periodically I hold it in my hands, enjoying the warmth.

Spring seems to be malingering this year. I’m tired of paying oil bills, so I’m going with a two-pronged heating approach. At my feet the space heater whirrs and hums and the heated air wafts upward into the chilly room. My cat settles in front of me, content to divert some of the air flow. The radiators click, doing their part to bring the room up to a reasonable temperature. In the background NPR plays and I hear yet more concerning news. I try to push it aside and focus on the day. What can I do about it right at this moment? On the other hand, before school starts I need to pay some bills, prep for conferences, and finish lesson planning. Cut EPA funding, really? 

It’s a typical morning. Coffee. Radio on. Cat. Multiple heat sources. Controversial news. E-mail. Writing. The self talk is similar as well. Ok, you can only write until 4:30–Ok, 4:45 at the latest. I mean it! You have to get those bills out today–no more delaying!– and finish planning that math lesson. Don’t forget to write Anne about the taxes. Coal plant emissions!!!??  Really!? Don’t go there right now. Ok. Ok. Remember you have to find a passage for X to use with his new plan. That needs to start today as well. Also, you have to watch that MEA testing video this morning. Blah. Blah. Blah. You get the picture.

Each morning I spend a lot of mental energy trying to discipline myself to do what I’m supposed to do rather than what I want to do. The beauty of mornings is that it all seems possible at that time–or at least most days it does. But the clock ticks inexorably forward and it’s now 4:48. Oops! The Must do’s and should-have-done’s are clamoring ever louder in the background. I’m off to throw them a bone!

A huge thank you to  Anna, Beth, Betsy, Deb, Kathleen, Lisa, Lanny, Melanie, and Stacey for all that they do to create an amazing community of writers and a safe, welcoming space to write, learn, share and grow.
To read more slices, check out twowritingteachers.org

Concert

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March SOLC- Day 26

Saturday night we attended our daughter’s University of Maine Singers concert. I started to write about the event in prose but it quickly shifted to a poem. It’s funny how that happens sometimes.

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The audience settled into their seats
materials shifting and sighing
muffled seat springs creaking
Then silence descended
an expectant hush
the singers strode onto the stage
filling the risers
poised
still
Until…
the conductor raised his hands…
Breathe
then
dropped
them
and those voices, those glorious voices,
intertwined in thunderous beauty,
lifted and soared
filling the hall
spilling out into the frosty night
My heart swelled with the notes
as I watched my daughter
singing in the midst of that choir
and I was so glad,
so fiercely glad,
that she has this:
this music
this community
this gift of song

Molly Hogan (c) 2017

Here’s A rehearsal clip from the University of Maine Singers. Click if you’d like to enjoy an informal “taste” of their singing.