Hope

I glanced at the clock to find it was only 3am. Yet, the light filtering through the bedroom drapes told a different story. Confused, I shifted, focused and instantly could tell why. The full moon was transforming night into a early dawn. I readjusted my pillow and laid on my back, staring back at this natural wonder.

“That will be $20.10 and ready in 15 minutes,” I heard. I ended the call, grabbed my purse and headed to retrieve a pizza for Sunday dinner. The downpour of rain had just ended. To the east, the sky was still grey but to the west, blue and sunlight were reappearing. So much so that the sun suddenly was creating a blinding light and made it a challenge to drive. It was at the second stoplight that I saw it. First a pale arc. Then, with each passing second, the colors deepened. After parking the car in front of the pizza shop, I stood, looked up and took in this natural wonder. The colors actually spanned across the entire sky in a brillant arc. And to its right, another arc appeared faintly. Like all the humans around me, my smart phone camera app was pressed and I snapped away.

Today, I awoke early due to the moon.
Today, I scroll through my photo feed to see the colors again.
Today, I feel hopeful.

My Daughter’s Wedding / #ProudMother

My daughter, Bridgit, and her partner, Charlie, recently gathered family and friends in Savannah, GA and on the afternoon of May 1st, they stood under an immense oak tree covered in spanish moss and said, “We do” after the officients (their siblings) took turns reading their five personally-written vows.

The night before this joyful event, Bridgit and Charlie invited all their wedding guest to gather at a local Savannah distillery for the “Welcome Party”. It was important for them to orchestrate many opportunities for their family and friends to spend time together because over the past several months, due to Covid, together time mostly involved screens. (In fact, many guests were meeting in Savannah in-person for the first). During the party, Brian and I gladly offered toasts. Brian went first, sharing a few small moments from Bridigt’s early years (yes, a few tears were shed by all) and then I went. Click to read if interested.

Brian’s Toast
Sally’s Toast

The following day, guests arrived via the Savannah Trolley and Bridgit and Charlie arrived by horse-drawn carriage. First, guests mingled and played lawn games – bocce, croquet, giant jenga. And after an hour, all were asked to take a seat under the live oak tree for the ceremony. First, three adorable flower-girls, dressed as princesses, walked across the field and down the aisle as the song “Happy Feet” played. The seated friends and family clapped and sang along as the little nymph-looking girls reached into their baskets and dropped a rose-petal trail for Bridigt and Charlie to walk upon.

Then the music changed to something that sounded familiar but I couldn’t place it immediately. “It’s the West Wing theme song!” a voice in the crowd whispered and I thought, “how perfect”. Both Bridgit and Charlie didn’t just watch this series but were inspired by the Sorkin-idealist-democracy portrayed on TV and spent many years working for progressive candidates. It was finally their work with the DNC to elect Biden that allowed them to cross paths, meet and fall in love. Of course, they were walking down the aisle together to this TV-theme song. This gathering was so them. They stood under a ginormous oak tree glittering with Spanish moss and joined hands. Charlie’s brothers, Joe and Hank, placed colorful braided cords over their hands as Bridgit’s sister, Anne explained this chosen ritual of handfasting.

Bridgit and Charlie explain it best in their online wedding program:
Handfasting – OUR CHOSEN UNITY RITUAL
In a nod to May Day, Beltane and our shared Irish heritage, we chose handfasting as our unity ritual—literally tying the knot! Handfasting is an ancient Celtic ritual in which the hands are tied together to symbolize the binding of two lives. We like that it is a lasting, physical representation of our commitment to each other, as well as a very egalitarian ritual. We made our handfasting cords ourselves, based on color meaning: BLUE fidelity, longevity, strength, safe journey GREEN fertility and growth, love, luck, prosperity, nurturing PINK love, happiness, unity, romance, honor, truth GOLD wisdom, prosperity, longevity BLACK pure love, wisdom, success, strength.

Once their vows were share and the knot was tied, they kissed!! All cheered and waved their miniature May Pole in celebration. Then family and friends proceeded inside and we ate, drank and danced the night away, under the twinkling lights that covered the ceiling.

I can’t think of anything that would have made this wedding weekend better. I am so grateful that Bridgit and Charlie found each other and planned such a lovely weekend in Savannah to celebrate their union with family and friends. #ProudMother

Photography by Carraway Weddings – highly recommend!!

Sally’s Toast

I am Sally Donnelly – mother of Bridgit – proud mother! Mother is a word I use to describe my identity. A word I began using on October 17, 1988 when Bridgit arrived a little after midnight in Charlottesville. She arrived just 1 week after losing my father to a heart attack and I was thinking this week how my dad’s identity never got to include the word Grandfather. Yet, his outgoing personality and his risk-taking as a businessman in his career, clearly lives on in his granddaughter, Bridgit. So first, I’d like to remember him and all our loved ones who have passed already and are only here today in spirit.

Identity is a theme of mine as a Reading teacher. I have my students make identity webs and add words to describe their family, traditions, interests, educations, character traits and physical features. Then I match books to kids so they can see themselves in a book. It is important to know our identity.

I am realizing how I get to update my own identity web this weekend. I’ve been a mother of two daughters. And NOW I get to add son! Bridgit and Charlie – you get to add wife/husband/partners. Anne can add brother. Nana can add grandson. Others here can add nephew, niece, cousin, new friend.

As Bridgit and Charlie commit themselves to each other in our presence, I am grateful we can all be here together. Let’s raise a glass and commit today to being the best of our identity – partner, father, mother, husband, wife, brother, sister, aunt, uncle, grandpaprent, friend. AND thank you Bridgit and Charlie, my daughter and son, for bringing us together for this transformative weekend. I love you both.

Brian’s Toast

A Wedding Toast for Bridgit and Charlie

On behalf of Brigit and Charlie, I want to welcome you again.  And I want to thank you for making the journey here, and for being here to add your love for Bridgit and for Charlie to the love they have for each other.

On the way in from the airport this morning, when our driver found out that we were here for a wedding, he said, “congratulations.”  When he also found out that I was the father of the bride, he said, “double congratulations to you!”  In fact, everyone I’ve talked to over the last few months, when I’ve mentioned that my daughter was getting married said the same thing: “Congratulations.”

To which I’ve mostly responded, “Um, ok… thanks(?).”  It didn’t make sense to me.  It’s not like we were desperate to get Bridgit out of our house, and finally succeeded.  It’s not like we negotiated some deal to trade her for a couple of blankets and a goat.  We didn’t make this match.  They did.

Then someone said to me, “you must be so proud.”  And that made sense to me.  Yes, we are proud. We are proud of our daughters.  We are proud to see them grow into adult women who are strong and smart, and resourceful and resilient, and kind and beautiful, and loving and beloved.  It is the kind of pride I imagine an airplane mechanic feels when watching a plane land: He didn’t fly the plane; He didn’t really even build the plane.  What he did was help keep the plane in the air long enough for it to find a place to land safely. 

And that’s not nothing. 

To Michelle, and to everyone who contributed to helping Charlie land safely: thank you. Congratulations.  You must be so proud.

There is a secret that those of you who are parents know, and I’ll share it with those of you who are not yet parents, and will be or plan to be or hope to be, and it’s this: no one is born knowing how to do this.  You can read parenting manuals and go to parenting classes, or watch parenting videos, but there is only one person who can truly teach you how to be a parent, and that’s your first-born. 

From the moment Bridgit entered the world I was learning from her.  After she was born, a nurse handed me this 10lb.- 8oz. pink ball wrapped in a blanket and told me to hold her for a minute.  So, I stood there, motionless, watching her breathe, watching her eyes flicker open and closed, watching her crinkle her nose (something she still does), afraid to move a muscle because I honestly didn’t know what would happen if I did. 

That minute turned into 45 minutes or maybe an hour before the nurse came back for her and as I stretched out to hand Bridgit off, the most excruciating pain I can ever remember shot through my arms.  Every muscle from my shoulders to my hands had locked in place and was screaming from the cramps. At that point my tears were not at all emotional and I was certain that I would never be able to straighten my arms again.

I got better.  And from that took this lesson away: the longer you hold onto something, and the tighter you hold onto it, the more it hurts when you let it go.

So, we approached parenting with a loose grip.

Fast forward three or four years.  Like most parents we had a bedtime ritual which mostly consisted of reading one or two, or three, or four bedtime stories.  We didn’t insist on tucking into bed, or turning out the lights – she could stay up and read or play, as long as she stayed in her room.  Sally and I would be downstairs enjoying a quiet evening.  Without fail, about 15 minutes later, we would see Bridgit’s little round face peeking out at us from the bottom of the stairs.  So that didn’t work.

As it happened, Bridgit’s room had a big wall-to-wall blue rug, and Bridgit did better with visual instruction, so we changed the rule so that she could still stay up and read and play, but she had to stay on the blue rug.  After that, without fail, Sally and I would come up stairs at the end of the evening to find Bridgit sprawled out asleep in the middle of the hallway, surrounded by stuffed animals, toys and books, with her favorite companion, Puppy, tucked into the crook of one arm, and the other arm stretched out as far as it could go with her hand just touching the blue rug.

Sometimes it was a foot.

No matter what imagined conversations she had had with those stuffed friends all evening, or whatever adventures those books had taken her on, she always kept one paw on the blue rug.

There is a lesson in there for you, Charlie, and it’s this: you can’t win an argument with someone like that – someone who would rather sleep on the hard floor than on a soft rug just to make a point.

It’s easy to think of that blue rug as a tether, or a constraint, a limitation or a boundary, but for us I think it became something else.  It was your own place; it was safety; it was security; it was the comfort of the familiar.  It was Home.

So tonight, as I ask you all to join me in a toast to the happiness and prosperity of Bridgit and Charlie, it’s offered with this wish: that wherever this adventure takes you, no matter where or how far you go, may you always find yourself with a blue rug close at hand – close enough to reach out and touch with your hand, or with your foot, or with your heart.  And it comes with this promise: you’ll always know where you can find one.

To your lifetime of happiness together. 

I Did It! Year 9!

I realize that I tend to spend the 31 day of this challenge
celebrating and reflecting, which I’ve done over the years HERE.
This year, 2022, my 9th year, I will do the same!

Hurrah for me!
I wrote and posted for 31 days, each morning around 6:30am.
I commented every day on exactly 3 others in the AM.
Always the two slicers who posted right before me and the one who posted right after.
This morning routine serves me well. And it always made my day
when fellow slicer, Erika or Fran, posted right below or above me which frequently happened.

Then I’d return most/some evenings to comment on my slicer friends.
I’d also try to read new slicers who found me and left me a comment.
I will admit, in years prior to Covid, I read and comment much more.
But I’m giving myself grace and just happy that on all days,
I at least commented on 3.
As I discovered during 2014, my first year, reading other slices is such a gift
and actually improves my writing because the slices all become mentor texts.

This 9th year, I am proud that I lived like a writer
and made a conscience effort to write about something from the current day.
Looking back, I notice I crafted:
10 school-related small moments
4 personal small moments
2 family-related slices
5 slices related to the war in Ukraine, very much on my mind this month
8 slices related to authors and books, two topics that take up much of my time
2 slices related to shows I am streaming
4 slices related to the PD I gave and the conferences I attended this month

This 9th year, I am proud of the craft moves I made.
Looking back, I notice I wrote:
1 letter, 9 poems, and 20 small moments.
I included flashbacks and dialogue
and am starting to feel more comfortable describing in verse.
I includedapplicable hyperlinks
and If linking to a book, I linked to an Indie bookstore.
I added photos as a featured image and at times as a tiered gallery.
I added tags when I remembered.
It’s taken me 9 years but I am starting to understand all that this blog can do!!

This 9th year, I checked the numbers.
Looking back, I notice I wrote:
10,217 words and received 252 comments.

This 9th year, I can’t thank this community enough.
I feel so suppoerted by so many who take time to read my slice and leave me a comment.
I feel so priviledge to be able to read gorgeous poetry, decriptive small moments
and stories that move me to tears.

This 9th year, a big THANK YOU goes to Stacey, Amy, Betsy, Beth, Kathleen, and Melanie.
This seems a bit inadequete to all this March Writing Challenge gives me.
It is a safe place to share my stories.
It is a safe place to receive encouraging feedback.
It is a safe place to work my writing muscle.
I am so grateful this online writing community exists.
and it only exists because of the tireless devotion of Stacey, Amy, Betsy, Beth, Kathleen, and Melanie.

This 9th year, also a big THANK YOU to my biggest fans:
Fran McCracken gave me the MOST comments (24)
Erika Victor came in 2nd (22)
Fran McVeigh came in 3rd (17) and spotlighted me on her blog on the 11th! (so kind!)
I look forward to thanks all three of your someday soon in person!

I also look forward to having a writing break now |
But I will be back on Tuesdays.
(But maybe not until May when I’ll have wedding stories to write and share!)
And I’ll definitely be back in 2023!
For now, 2022 is a wrap!!




Before that…

NOTE: I have tried this Before That format a few times over the past years as seen HERE.
On this 2nd to last day of the challenge, I thought I’d try it again. Here goes…

I climbed the third staircase to my bedroom, set the alarm for 5:30am and called it a day. As I closed my eyes, I wondered about what I’d write about tomorrow.

Before that, I sipped a glass of Malbac and eat the warm risotto, chicken and green beens for dinner.

Before that, I stirred the boiling water with seasoning and rice, as I read many slices from last week which I had missed.

Before that, I walked the Harris Teeter aisles wondering what to serve for dinner. I added a rotisserie chicken, frozen green beans and a package of risotto whose directions indicated only 20-minutes to prepare, to my recycled bag and headed to the self-checkout aisle.

Before that, I drove to the public library, walked to the HOLD section, grabbed the 12 books already pulled for me, self-scanned them and headed back to my car.

Before that, I sat at the conference table asking “Why did you join? What words describe it? How’s it help you and your students?” as Teacher Research cohort member answers were video-recorded for a district video.

Before that, I led a grade-level English meeting and jotted down the books still needed for her students’ research as I offered to retrieve them from the public library. Quickly, I logged into the public library system and saw that the books I already placed on hold for this teacher on Friday were ready for pick-up.

Before that, I taught my 7th grade Reading class, helping 3 boys rehearse the speech they are writing for their English class and helping 4 others build background knowledge of WWII for their historical fiction book club.

Before that, I introduced my 6th grade Reading class to the concept of social issues in preparation for our Social Issue Book Club Unit by showing them political cartoons related to climate change, homelessness, police brutality, and physical disabilities and then provided them time to read Newsela, to notice more reports on social issues.

Before that, I created the slides to show during Reading 6, found the video of a speech and a picture book to share with Reading 7 and annoyed with myself that I was doing all this at the last minute.

Before that, I viewed the Broadcast News Show produced by Team 3 of my homeroom and sat in awe of their creativity.

Before that, I copied my hyperlink for my Day 29th slice about my breakfast routine, posted it to the TwoWritingTeachers blog, read the 2 slices posted right before me, refreshed and read the slice post right after me and then headed to school.

Before that, I drove to Starbucks, still wondering what I’d write about for my 29th slice.

Before that, I heard my 5:30am alarm beeping, hit snooze and laid in bed thinking, “What should I write about today?”

Breakfast Routine

“What can I get you?” the barista in her black attire covered by a green apron asked.
“Grande hot chocolate, no whip and a turkey bacon egg white sandwich” was my winter reply.
“Grande black iced tea, no sweetener and a turkey bacon egg white sandwich” my summertime reply
and I handed the barista my keepcup to save $.10 and shared that I’m Sally. Then I stood to the side and waited for my name to be called. This was my pre-pandemic routine.

During the pandemic, I taught myself how to brew a pitcher of black iced tea and started buying and slicing lemon wedges to add. At home, I stuck to cereal and fruit with my cafinated morning beverage. I sat at my dining room table and then, once done, placed the dishes in the kitchen sink and took the stairs to my 2nd floor bedroom-turned-classroom to teach online.

Today, I drove to the Starbucks closest to my home. I took a seat and noticed only one other customer sitting across the room reading his newspaper and sipping a tall coffee. I pulled out my phone and pressed the app and ordered my winter choice. Despite being 3-days away from April, it is 29 degrees outside. Burrr! My phone thanked me and said my order would be ready in 7 minutes.

Then I opened my laptop, logged into my blog and asked myself, “What should I wrote about?” As I listened to the instrumental music playing softly in the background, I noticed 2 baristas, sporting their green aprons, moving smoothly from machine to machine to fill the mobile orders. No one seems to stand at the counter by the register anymore. Maybe I’ll write about my breakfast routine, I thought….

What’s your breakfast routine?

Remembering my Grandma

Born on this date in 1918
in Louisville, Kentucky
Taft just became President and the Model-T became available.
She was the beloved only-sister to Bill and Eddie.
Her dad and one brother worked at Churchill Downs, counting the money
so maybe it was her destiny to also have a career handling money.

She moved to DC, became wife to Claude B. Moore
But everyone called him C.B.
He spent his life selling cars
though never taught Isabel how to drive.
In 1935, they had their only child, a daughter, Mary Anne.
Had her baptized and raised her Catholic
in the Columbia Heights neighborhood
where she attended Sacred Heart with her girlfirends
and would ride the streetcar downtown.

In 1943,
maybe because having a 7-year old was expensive
maybe, due to the war, cars weren’t selling
maybe, due to the war, jobs were easier for a woman to get
Isabel got hired at a bank.
She had to say her name was Miss Isabel Sulzer
because a married woman couldn’t be hired
And for the next 40-some years, she kept the bank in order
and helped support her family.

For fun she played pinochle, crocheted and quilted
and cooked the best cheeseball, gravey and spare ribs
At age 63, she became a widow
Jimmy, Cathi, Jeanne, Sally and Chris came along and called her Grandma
Bridigit, Anne, Curtis, and Garrett came along and called her Great-Nana

Daughter – sister – Aunt – wife – mother – banker – widow – Grandma – Great-nana
So many lovely names for Isabel Sulzer Moore
Born on this date, March 28th, 114 years ago.
She’s my grandma, gone too soon, at age 94.

 Right Now I Am

NOTE: I am using this structure which I learned from Terje when she gave it a try HERE.
In honor of her birthday today, which I read about HERE, I will give it a try today.
Happy Birthday, Terje (and also a Happy Birthday to my husband)!

Right now I am...

:: sitting in my living room able to look out of the 6-windowed corner to view the mostly bare branches pinned against the the blue-gray canvas painting the morning sky

:: wondering if the fox or bunny or just squirrels will enter my viewshed along with the many birds passing through

:: glancing at the weather app showing 40 degrees with a windchill making it feel 32

:: savouring the warmth of my sweater and the comfort of my upholstered chair

:: avoiding opening my school backpack which holds post-assessments demarding to be scored followed by a few hours of planning for the next unit.

:: counting down the days until Spring Break (10-school days) and then the weeks until my daughter’s wedding (5)

:: hoping to be productive today so the upcoming week is smooth

:: hearing the sound of the coffee grind holder banging as it is emptied followed by the water running to fill the machine. My husband is in the kitchen making his daily pot of coffee.

:: planning to visit the Farmers Market now so tonight I can cook a yummy salmon dinner as a birthday treat

:: crafting a slice using a structure shared by another slicer which is making it a little easier for me

:: appreciating all the writers I have met through this writing challenge, most only through clicking their link like Terje and others who I am able to meet in person but feel much more connected because I read their slices.

Where are you, right now?

Stations of the Cross

My text: Let’s aim to talk tomorrow or Sunday afternoon
D’s text: Sounds good. On our way to Stations of the Cross

Immediately, my mind takes me back
to my 10-year old self
wearing my gray and maroon plaid jumper
holding the purple paper booklet
sitting, standing, kneeling
reflecting on the 14-moments
each step described
followed by a real-world connection
accepting the cross to carry
to the top of the hill
meeting people along the way
Veronica, Simon, your own mother
falling three times
ending with nails through flesh
but not the end of this story
as the rest of the story
is celebrated on Easter

Another moment enters my mind
This time my kids are 7 and 10
It’s Spring Break
We drive south to Hilton Head
our friends live on a golf course
It’s suggested after going to church for Stations
to take her 3 and my 2 on a drive through the golf course.
She calls and procures 3 golf carts
Isn’t the course 18 holes long?
Why not take our booklets
Why not stop and prayer a station at each hole
Why not stay outside and do the Stations today
She agreed.

When my 2 were 7 and 10
I taught at the Catholic School
where they attended.
They will both have their own memories
Wearing their navy plaid jumper
Gathering in the school gym during Lent
Holding the booklet to pray the Station responses.
Our Spring Break beginning on Good Friday
A day to go back to Church for the Stations
Their Grandma, raised in DC,
Suggested an outside space to pray the Stations
The Franciscan Monastery
No golf carts but all outside
Tulips and daffoldils and azaleas
Amongst the 14 Stations
Spread out along a winding path
Afterwards we sat and eat a picnic lunch
Of tuna fish sandwishes.

Many places across the years
I have prayed the Stations of the Cross.