Vacationing in Roatan, Honduras

What stands out the most about my vacation to Roatan are the different animals I saw.

In Arlington, Virginia I regularly notice squirrels and Cardinals and bunnies exploring my backyard. I saw none of these forest animals on my summer vacation. Instead, in Roatan I watched in amazement as I encountered the smallest birds, the biggest reptiles and animals that moved with their house on their back.

Each morning, I ate my breakfast at the restaurant table next to an open window. The first day I was so surprised to see what was happening just feet away from me. The tiniest birds swooped in to eat their breakfast. They were visiting a bird feeder hanging from the tree less than a yard stick away from the opened window. One tiny hummingbird swooped in and hovered at eye-level to the bird feeder. Then his long, thin beak fit into one of the four narrow, round spouts at the base of the feeder. This feeder wasn’t like the one in my house filled with seed. Instead, it was filled with liquid nectar. Because his wings were moving so fast, he was able to stay suspended in midair. He first took a sip. Then he scooted away from the feeder and swallowed, still in midair.  Then he scooted back to the feeder for another sip. This movement repeated over and over and over again. As he moved, his tiny wings flapped so fast. It was just a blur of color. Then suddenly, two new hummingbirds swooped in and the first one flew away. This “hummingbird show” continued outside the open restaurant window the entire time I ate each morning. So many hummingbirds came to enjoy their a morning treat,  I lost count of how many I saw. I watched in awe at their hard work as I enjoyed bites of my Island Breakfast – scrambled eggs, refried beans, sausage, and plantains with pineapple juice.

Click the link to view the video of the Roatan Hummingbird!!

Following breakfast each day, I took a walk and always crossed paths with this animal:

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Black Iguana – no video needed as he just stayed still sunning himself!

He is a Black Iguana. For no real reason, I have never had a fondness for reptiles. If asked, I might say I hate reptiles. Maybe it is their dark color or And this one was so long and black. Yet, he did nothing. He was just enjoying the hot rays of the sun. I snapped his picture, easy to take for unlike the hummingbird’s frantic pace, he just stood still and enjoyed the morning warmth.

Finally, while walking, I got the oddest sensation. The hiking path in front of me appeared to be moving. Moving? Why? I stopped and knelt down. Covering the path were dozens of tiny shells. The shells were different shapes, some rounder, some long and cylinder shaped. All were moving. Why? Because they were hermit crabs!  I have read about hermit crabs but suddenly I had dozens literally crossing my path while hiking on vacation!

Click to watch the Hermit Crab video!

Now I’m back home in Arlington. This morning, I saw 2 squirrels, 4 Cardinals and 3 bunnies in my backyard as I ate my American breakfast – muffin and orange juice. With eat bite of my meal, I happily recalled the different animals I met each morning on an island in Central America during my 2016 summer vacation.

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Roatan is an island off the coast of Honduras in Central America. It is marked by the red dot.

Have you traveled this summer?

Did you see anything similar or different from what you always see in your hometown?

New Sport Discovered

“What is that?” I interrupted my daughter who was telling me about her new job as we took a walk in her new Brooklyn neighborhood. I was pointing to the playing field across the street at Prospect Park. And I was thinking,  That is the craziest sport I had ever seen.”
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Similar to a soccer game – 2 teams, 2 goals, 2 refs, and a ball. Yet, so crazy looking with the players moving inside a giant bubble! “Who thinks up this kind of stuff up?”

I showed my husband this picture once I returned home and his curiosity led him to send me an email from work on Monday that read:

Turns out it’s a thing.  You have to watch this video:  Soccer is even more fun in a bubble

 

When I forwarded his email with my daughter, she replied with this email:

Check it out: http://bubbleballsoccernyc.com/    Pick-up games are $65 PER PERSON!
 Now that I discovered a new sport called Bubble Soccer, any takers to join the next pick-up game?? I know where we can find one in Brooklyn!! Or maybe we all start a league in our hometown!

A List of Oranges to become Slices

I traveled this weekend and have too many slices in my head. Today I spill many oranges out here on the page through pictures. This summer I vow to return and with the sharp knife of my memory, zoom in and tell each slice.

Yes, I am a proud mom. My oldest put herself through Graduate School at the Harris School of Public Policy at the University of Chicago. And after a wonderful weekend celebrating her graduation together, she starts Day 2 today at her new job – Project Manager for the Data Analytics Team for the Hillary for President Campaign…off changing the world, using big data to drive decision.

Yes, indeed. A proud mom!

#18 – Memories recalled from reading "Sip a Little Springtime"

“Sip a little Springtime” the sign read as I purchased a Friday breakfast treat at Starbucks this morning. Instantly in my mind, I was transported back to a day spent sightseeing a dozen years ago. My mom, my two girls and I did all the touristy things – saw the ducks, rode the swan boats, went to the top of the Prudential Building, played in the fountains we saw nearby from above. As we were walking back to the T to ride back to the hotel, we were sweaty and so hot. “Let’s cool off inside here,” I suggested and I ordered four grande vanilla bean frappuccinos. Sipping this cool drink was a great ending to our first day of sightseeing in Boston.

Last Night’s Dinner

“We need broccoli and one onion.”
“OK, I’ll get that and meet you in the cheese aisle,” I told Anne, my daughter who is gathering items at Whole Foods to replicate a favorite meal she often cooked while in France last year. Then, she was living in Chambery while teaching English for TAPIF (Teaching Assistant Program in France).

Why make this meal this weekend?
A former TAPIF friend she roomed with while in France is visiting us for the weekend.

Fast forward 24 hours….

“Do you have a cutting board?” asked Hannah.
“Sure, right here,” I replied and handed her our bamboo cutting board.
“Use this knife,” suggested Anne.

After opening a bottle of wine and pouring myself a glass, I walked out of the kitchen, leaving it in good hands. An hour later my husband and I joined the kitchen-duo for their meal.

“What do we have here?” asked Brian.
“It is basically a French mac&cheese casserole with pancetta and as Americans, we added broccoli. Instead of elbow macaroni, we used Crozets, the pasta Chambery is known for making.”
“Wow….so cheesy…so good….very filling”
“It’s best to eat after a day of skiing on the French slopes!”
“It’s pretty great here on President’s Day in VA!”

As I loaded the dishwasher after dinner, I thought my husband and I have done an OK job as parents. Not too bad having our youngest cook us a meal which helped her and her friend relive their amazing year of teaching in France.

 

 

March 25th – What movies stick with YOU?

My daughter is on Spring Break and she went to Europe to see her sister in France and included a trip to Salzburg, Austria. Yesterday she posted pictures to facebook with this statement:

The Sound of Music was my favorite film, growing up. I must have watched it over 100 times over the years. I even distinctly remember that I turned 7 on a Tuesday and therefore obviously wanted a pink parasol, just like Marta. Yesterday I explored the locations where the movie was filmed. So amazing!

 

Stories, whether read or viewed, do stick with us.
When I recall my favorite films, I recall these lines:
1. “M-A-R-R-I-A-G-E”
2. “Let’s be independent together.”
3. “Toto, I’ve got a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore.”
(Can you identify the movie? Answers tomorrow!)
What STORY sticks with you?
What LINE sticks with you?!

March 23 – People are reading my writing from ALL around the globe

Saturday I had 14 people comment on my slice. Sunday I had 9. Yes, definitely the most comments in one weekend, which probably was a direct result of the fun Comment Challenge suggested by the TwoWritingTeachers. (Great ideas and great prize!)

The volume of comments had me do something different. Usually, I just read a comment, smile and have that jolt that happily motivates me to keep writing. This time I decided, for the first time, to actually use the blog as one way it is intended to be used. I replied to many of the comments I received. When I began this virtual dialogue, I discovered some things:

Kristi teaches 5th grade, just like me, but in an international school in Lebanon.
Alan lives in Australia and is a published author of a book I think I should buy about how he helped his students learn to write.
Beverly was a teacher for 36 years and now is retired and discovering art again. I’m only at year 23…
Marcie lives in upstate NY and loves TCRWP, just like I do.
Mary Ann lives in Ireland.
Darlene, in Chicago.
Fran is from Iowa. I follow her on twitter and will look for her Saturday at the TCRPW Saturday Reunion as she is coming all the way from Iowa. (And to think, I almost wasn’t going to take the 3 hour train ride from DC to NYC)
Ms Victor is the comment that got me started on this hunt to find out WHERE people actually live. She posted:
You have put into words what I have been thinking as this challenge has progressed. I am definitely getting more out of it than I thought I would! I want to live somewhere that gives me easy access to lots of authors!

After reading this, I wondered WHERE does she live? When I clicked on her name, I discovered she lives in Malaysia!

I discovered this weekend a new reason why comments can be so motivating. Somehow, when I know that someone far away, who also loves reading and writing as much as I do, is reading my slice and taking time to write a comment, it makes me smile and it REALLY makes me want to write more. TwoWritingTeachers – you rock!! This March Challenge gets better and better!

This slice was written by a humble slicer living in Arlington, VA, a county across the river from Washington, D.C. but connected to thoughtful writers around the globe via the internet @ https://twowritingteachers.wordpress.com/

March 13 – Every minute counts

One thing I recall doing when I stopped being a classroom teacher to become a reading specialist was no longer looking at the clock constantly. As a classroom teacher I glanced up at the clock and asked Is it time for the kids to arrive? No, I have 3 minutes. Is it time to get to a special class? Yes and unless we get lined up very quickly, we will be 2 minutes late for PE. Is it time for lunch? No, we still have 4 minutes. Enough time to play a game. Is it dismissal time? Still have 6 minutes. Enough time for another read-aloud. As a reading specialist, I did not have a classroom of kids in front of me at all times to guide and herd throughout their school day. I had to be on time for meetings and to co-teach but the minute-by-minute accountability seemed lifted. Now I am back in the classroom as a 5th grade writing teacher. Again, I find myself constantly looking at the clock or constantly setting the timer on my iPhone to help keep on schedule. Every minute counts!

I was reminded of this when reading my daughter’s blog post yesterday:
https://annedonnelly.wordpress.com/2015/03/12/today-i-was-9-minutes-late-to-class/
She is working as a native English speaker in a French elementary school in Chambery, France (which is about an hour south of Geneva, Switzerland…a very pretty part of the world). As I finished reading her blog post about the reaction of her littlest students, I felt very proud of her. Thanks to Anne, these kids now know of the favored American book character, Pete the cat and can sing his song in English!

Anne’s blog post, though, got me thinking about my time as a classroom teacher. How often am I rushing through my school day? Do I take enough time to enjoy my students? Maybe I shouldn’t glance at the clock so often. Maybe I need to take time to experience, as Anne describes it, “the pure unbridled happiness of children.”

Thanks for helping me to keep time in perspective, Anne.

March 7 – I Tried Betsy’s Poetry Idea!

As Betsy suggested on Day 5, I took my March 4th small moment:

 

In Venice, laundry seems to be more than just a chore. It seems to be a work of art. First, it is pinned and moved along the pulley line to form a perfect composition. As each piece is hung, a piece never drops by accident  or comes loose and falls to the sidewalk or canal below. Then, as it hangs, one piece next to another, a pattern is created. Like a border painted inside a room for decoration, a Venetian’s clean clothing decorates a building’s facade. Laundry Day brightens up the neighborhood!
I pulled out some words, some phrases.

 

I wrote as a poem:
Venetian laundry
More than just a chore
It hangs as a work of art
One piece next to another
Pinned along the pulley line
Above the walkways and canals
A colored pattern created
Against a stucco canvas
Venetian laundry
Decorating a building’s facade
Brightening up the neighborhood
A perfect composition
Thanks, Betsy!!

March 4 – Laundry

While visiting Venice, Italy over Winter break, I saw this:

and this:

I snapped both photos while I, myself, was wearing layers of clothes under my heavy winter coat on a very brisk December day. I kept wondering, “Will this laundry really dry? It is 32 degrees outside. If so, how long will it take?”

In Venice, laundry seems to be more than just a chore. It seems to be a work of art. First, it is pinned and moved along the pulley line to form a perfect composition. As each piece is hung, a piece never drops by accident  or comes loose and falls to the sidewalk or canal below. Then, as it hangs, one piece next to another, a pattern is created. Like a border painted inside a room for decoration, a Venetian’s clean clothing decorates a building’s facade. Laundry Day brightens up the neighborhood!