It Ends – Day 31

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Be sure to visit Two Writing Teachers for more slices of life.

Since I began this month by revisiting my March 1 posts, I thought I’d bookend this month by reviewing my March 31 posts.

  • 2011 Ship Under Attack!: I was on a river cruise in the Netherlands during the end of that month. There were many people suffering from bronchitis. Fortunately, my husband and I were not afflicted.
  • 2012 Summing Up: This was the year that I had a very full calendar of work days, but yet I managed to fit the writing in every day. It was really one of the first times I actually admitted to myself that I am a writer. Why is that so hard for me to express and truly believe?
  • 2013 Is It Just the End or a New Beginning #31: I reflected on what I noticed in my writing and how reading others affected my life.
  • 2014: At Sam’s: Here was another slice of life, no reflection because this final day was on a Monday, therefore, I knew I needed a post for the following day. I saved my reflection of the month for Tuesday.  Good thinking, right? 🙂
  • 2015 Reverso Poem: I ended last year with a poem using Marilyn Singer’s incredible style of a poem that can be read from top down and then with changes in punctuation flipping the lines so the last line is now the first, and it still makes sense.
  • 2016: It Ends – Day 31:The final posting is a look back at the last five years of final postings.
What did I notice?
  • As I scrolled through the daily posts I noticed that I only had five posts without some kind of a picture. I love including photos!
  • I used poetry seven times in my slices.
  • I drafted a letter that will never be sent.
  • The shortest post (59 words) has the most pictures (27 pictures put into collages).
  • I played with using the color of the print to bring meaning to certain posts.
  • My wordiest post (539 words) came from two arrogant orchids. Figures, right?
  • I was amazed by the number of comments I received. It was such a delight to get up in the morning and find that comments were written after I’d gone to bed. Coffee and comments became my morning routine.

I’ve loved reading so many new blogs! I hope that you will consider stopping back by to read another slice of life from elsie who tries writing on Tuesdays, Saturdays, and every day of March.

Numbers and Trivia

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Be sure to visit Two Writing Teachers for more slices of life.

This month, Alan Wright posted a slice titled, The Synergy of Words and Numbers. I found his list an interesting assortment of personal trivia. Which led me to wondering what kinds of trivia with numbers are to be found in my life. Alan stated, “Words and numbers are both wonderful things…”

So in no particular order, here are some numbers and trivial bits of information I’ve collected over the past few days related to my life:

I taught in only 3 schools over the course of 33 years.

I have taken 9 ocean cruises (the first being in 2003), 2 river cruises, and 1 barge cruise.

I had 2 cats (sisters) for 18 years.

I attended 6 schools during my K-12 education years.

I completed my undergraduate work at 1 college in 3.5 years.

I have owned 5 homes with my husband of 38 years.

Together we have owned 43 cars. (We’ve always had 2 cars, sometimes 3.)

5 of the cars were Chrysler minivans.

I have been on 4 different continents.

I have lived in 6 different states.

I have been to the top of the Eiffel Tower at night 2 times.

I had 1 permanent back tooth pulled due to a massive cavity when I was 10.

I have held 8 different jobs since I began working at age 16.

I had 2 basset hounds.

I have been to Amsterdam 4 times.

I have 25 books by Steve Jenkins on my bookshelf.

I have had 3 laptops.

I have seen Les Misérables on stage 6 times.

There are 3,616 photos and 45 videos on my iPad.

I have 2 bikes.

I have played over 10,000 rounds of Draw Something with 1 person.

I have been to the national Reading Recovery conference 7 times

I live 1,500 miles away from my son, daughter-in-law, and 2 granddaughters.

I have visited 36 foreign countries, so far. (I’m not finished traveling.)

I have 120 tulip bulbs popping up in my garden where I plant tomatoes.

I have 19 Chris Van Allsburg books.

This month I have written 8,631 words and included 147 pictures (many were combined into a collage) in my daily slices.

3 bookcases in my office room are filled with books: picture books, chapter books poetry book, professional books. I hesitate to count them.

What numbers and trivia are present in your life?











Unwelcome Guest

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Be sure to visit Two Writing Teachers for more slices of life.

She dropped hints that
Her arrival was imminent.
Scratchy throat,
Heaviness in chest
All signs
She would barge in, uninvited.
She visited others
All winter long,
Now that spring is on
My doorstep
She popped in
For an extended visit.
She said,
“You are long overdue.
I haven’t seen you in a year.”
She brought me
Her finest
Hacking cough,
Thick phlegm,
Drippy nose,
Tired eyes,
Pounding headache.
She is a bad influence,
All I want to do is
Lay around
With my eyes closed.
It’s time for her
To hit the road,
I have work to do.
Good-bye cold,
I will not let you stay.
Pack up your symptoms and move on!

Overheard Orchid Conversation

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Be sure to visit Two Writing Teachers for more slices of life.

Once upon a time, an orchid was rescued from a big box store. She was lovingly placed on the edge of a tub in front of a glass block window. Before being placed, she noticed an artificial orchid was whisked away. Real is always better than fake, she mused to only herself. Every week she welcomed the ice cubes placed at her base. Slowly they melted and trickled down to feed her roots. Life was good until . . .

Orchid 2 showed up. It shocked orchid 1! For a while they stood side by side, but  one day they were each assigned a corner. Both lunged for the light, but they stole glances to the opposite corner occasionally conversing. One day someone eavesdropped on their conversation.

FullSizeRender (12)

Two orchid plants stare at each other day after day. Each one thinks it is the most beautiful.

IMG_2004Orchid 1: I don’t know why you are here. I was doing a perfectly fine job of being the center of attention in this room.


IMG_1994Orchid 2: Really, a fine job? I hear you were dropping blossoms left and right. Your days were numbered, so they brought in someone fresh, full of blossoms to fill the void that you were leaving.


IMG_2004Orchid 1: Obviously, you are wrong. Have you not noticed that my current flowers are gorgeous, full of color, not pale and pasty white like you? I even have a couple of buds, just waiting for the right time to pop open.

IMG_1994Orchid 2: Excuse me, I am not pasty white! I believe alabaster or eggshell or vanilla are better words to describe my color. If you bothered to look closely, you would see vivid colors at the center. stripes of magenta and a pool of soft yellow that builds in intensity.

IMG_2004Orchid 1: Blah, blah, blah! I still I win on the color front. My petals began as a creamy, dreamy yellow, but then a rosy blush began at the center and spread to the outed edges. Now –


IMG_1994Orchid 2: So you are embarrassed by your color.



IMG_2004Orchid 1: Definitely not! Before you so rudely interrupted me I was going to say now if you look closely at my center you will see I too have the magenta stripes. However, I have orange where you have yellow, brighter is better. You did hear me mention buds, right?  There are two rather large buds and one smaller bud What do you have?

IMG_1994Orchid 2: I’m glad you brought up the buds. Actually I have six, although they are still rather small. Give them time, they will grow. Did you happen to notice that I have two stems. You only have one measly stem. So sad.


IMG_2004Orchid 1: Don’t get too carried away by your stems, you know one could be cut off rather easily or maybe something will brush by and break that precious stem in two. By the way, I noticed that two of your blossoms are in their final stage of life. Guess you better get those buds to grow a little quicker.

Stony silence has reigned over the edge of the tub since this conversation. Do you suppose a little competition for best bloom has spurred them to survive longer? I wonder. . .






Be sure to visit Two Writing Teachers for more slices of life.

Be sure to visit Two Writing Teachers for more slices of life.

The thought of a baked pasta dish makes me salivate. I love baked spaghetti at our favorite local Italian restaurant, but I have not found a baked pasta recipe that makes me giddy with the thought of serving it.

Then I was lucky enough to be watching the Today show and they were doing a segment on a penne pie. Matt Lauer informed the lady cooking that  he was a big fan of spagetti pie. The lady assured him, this penne pie would be just as delicious.

They went through their segment showing how to make penne pie. The final moment when Matt takes a taste . . . drum roll, please . . . he closes his eyes, a look of contentment settles on his face as he savors this bite. “A winner, maybe even better than spaghetti pie!” he exclaimed. “I think you could even use Italian sausage for more flavor.”

My husband said, “That sounds good, we should try it sometime.” Within a week, I had assembled all the ingredients to make penne pie with Italian sausage.

As I am making this, I am hoping this is THE recipe that will be my baked pasta recipe. How can it miss? It is loaded with cheeses: ricotta, parmesan, mozzarella. Perhaps I have even added a bit more cheesy goodness than the recipe called for.

Penne pie process: from browning of sausage, mixing of cheeses with sauce, to adding in the penne

Penne pie process: from browning of sausage, mixing of cheeses with sauce, to adding in the penne

It smelled great. It came out of the oven, rested a bit so it wouldn’t fall apart. The big moment . . . the first taste . . .  waiting for that savoring of this pasta. Where’s the sigh of this-is-the-best-bite-ever? (especially, since we had Italian sausage, not just plain old hamburger) Take another bite, maybe that was the one bite that didn’t meld all the flavors . . .  Nope, that’s not the problem. There just isn’t a lot of flavor in this pasta.

Penne pie resting, and served

Penne pie resting, and served

Another night, we have the pasta as leftovers. This time red pepper flakes have been sprinkled over the pasta. It’s a little better, still not the sigh-inducing-best-pasta-ever flavor. I’m ready to chuck this recipe in the trash. My husband says, “It wasn’t bad, maybe with a few tweaks, it could be good.” I put the recipe back in the cabinet. Maybe one day I’ll play with it and see what else I can add to up the flavor. But in the meantime, I don’t know that I will believe Matt Lauer when he sighs and deems a recipe is wonderful. I will watch with a skeptical eye in the future.


Bits of Celebration

celebrate new

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Be sure to visit Two Writing Teachers for more slices of life.

What do taxes, writing workshop, words on classroom walls, and Allie (my daughter-in-law) have in common? They are bits of celebrations I noticed this week.

Taxes seem like an odd celebration, and for many years it was a time of pulling hair and gnashing of teeth. That is no longer true.  Mine are finished and sent away, but I did not have to labor over the language of the tax code. I know Turbo Tax says it’s simple, but they always asked me for something I don’t understand. I celebrate that someone took my data and turned it into a refund. One day, I will have a surprise increase in my bank statement. I love those kinds of surprises.

The past two weeks I’ve been visiting classes to observe writing workshop. It is so lovely to see workshop happening. Students happily, eagerly engaged in writing. Teachers teaching writing and loving it.

Several of these classrooms have some sayings on their walls I want to remember. One classroom announces “Mistakes are proof you are trying.” So when I make a mistake, I will remind myself, that at least I’m trying.  “You can never have too much happy” is written on the radiator under the windows. Saturday celebrations are proof that there is always room for happy.

My final celebration is that my daughter-in-law, Allie sends me photos and videos of my granddaughter, Clara. Living 1,500 miles away from them makes us miss a lot of milestones in the granddaughters’ lives. Fortunately, Allie sends me bits, whether it’s a photo or video, of their everyday lives. This week they discovered a new natural park. Apparently Clara loves digging in the mud and exploring the earth. She does have genes of a geologist. One of the most recent videos shows off Clara’s swimming skills, when wearing massive water wings. One evening she began spinning like a top until she was so dizzy she fell down. What a joy these photos and videos bring me!Image (11)

Think about your week. Look for the celebrations that might go unnoticed and take a few seconds to savor in the joy.

An Annoyance

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Be sure to visit Two Writing Teachers for more slices of life.

Glass enclosure confines

The steam,

Water and steam meet to warm

The body.

Don’t break the seal of the door . . . yet.

Reach for draped towel


 Whisk away wetness,

Now dry, it’s safe to open

The door.

Cool air

Allowed to explore exposed skin.

There it is!

                    A hair



                                             The shoulder.

A single strand


Hands brush it away,


Sunlight reveals

Hair floating

Like fall leaves

Settling on the floor.

A final blast







What’s that prickling

The neck?

A new battle begins.

It’s a wonder

Any hair

Remains attached.

Shoes for Mom

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Be sure to visit Two Writing Teachers for more slices of life.

I took Mom

to buy new shoes.

They were the


shoes I’ve ever seen.

She said,

“These are just what I was looking

They are comfortable.

Do you have any other colors?”

I shuddered, then smiled.

Mom bought two pairs of shoes.

I wondered,

is this my future



What’s That Sound?

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Be sure to visit Two Writing Teachers for more slices of life.

Let’s start with the lesson one can learn from my recent experience: when you hear a sound that doesn’t make sense, get up and investigate! Let’s backup and I will explain what let me to these profound words of wisdom.

Dinner was over, dishes loaded into the dishwasher. Button pushed to start the cleaning process. I moved to the couch, sort of listening to the news while I read and commented on slices. Ding! My husband got a text from a neighbor asking him to to come over for a project he was working on. Absorbed in my slicing world, I was vaguely aware of my husband’s actions.

Have you ever used one of these?

Have you ever used one of these?

Before leaving, he wanted to get the green tea brewing. He uses a Mr. Coffee Iced Tea Pot. Water poured in – check, tea bags in basket – check, button pushed to begin the process – check. He heads out the door to meet with the neighbor. I am still semi-conscious of the world around me because I am reading and responding.

Huh-cluk, huh-cluk, this sound is annoying me, distracting me from my reading. Huh-cluk, huh-cluk, I wonder, what is in the dishwasher making that horrible noise? Finally, I get up to investigate.

IMG_1982 (1)

This tenuous connection is so important.

OMG! It’s not coming from the dishwasher! It’s the iced tea pot! The counter is one giant puddle of tea. The carafe wasn’t quite pushed into position. Quickly I grabbed towels to mop up the tea. Fortunately, it had not cascaded over the side and down the cabinets. Three hand towels later it was mopped up. I looked at the carafe, there was only an inch of tea in it. There should have been about eight inches of tea.

The tea crawled along the counter, past the narrow ledge by the sink. and on to the open space heading for the paper towels.

The tea crawled along the counter, past the narrow ledge by the sink. and on to the open space heading for the paper towels.

What to do? Pour more water in, add a couple new tea bags, align the carafe to the hot pot, then push the start button.

So, like I said in the beginning, when you hear a sound that doesn’t make sense with your surroundings, investigate! If I had done that, there wouldn’t have been a puddle of tea snaking its way down the cabinet.


So Much Depends . . .

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Be sure to visit Two Writing Teachers for more slices of life.

My stomach dropped as I listened to the weather forecast for the next couple of nights. Temperatures were expected to plunge below freezing. I feared for the delicate peach blossoms. I feared for the hydrangea with new leaves popping out on last year’s stems. I feared for the tulip heads peeking out of the foliage. The forecaster said, “So much depends . . . ” and my mind called up William Carlos Williams poem “The Red Wheelbarrow.”  Here is my version: “Peach Blossoms”


so much depends
the night’s temperature
plus softly blowing
for peach buds

Hydrangea hides under the ghosts at the top. Tulips quiver under the shroud on the left. Reachable branches have sails clipped to the branches.

The drop cloth sheets were called into action. Fighting wind gusts, my husband and I attempted to cover some of the limbs of the tree. It was a battle, but eventually a few branches sported a white cotton coat. The hydrangea and tulip beds were much easier to drape.


Left side is frosted, right side is thawed.






First night of freezing temperatures came and went. The covers stayed put, another night of cold was expected. Second night of freezing temperatures came and left heavy frost on everything. A few hours of sunshine sent the frost packing. The coverings have been removed. There is still hope that some of the blossoms will become peaches.

Please let that be the last of the hard freezes!