Stolen Moments

This is not what a typical April 28th at 4:00 looks like. I had traveled the 40 minutes to my parent’s lake house to drop off some groceries and visit at a social distance. The sun was playing peek a boo with the clouds and the wind was intermittently gusting, but overall it was a beautiful spring day. My dad had gotten the kayak’s down, knowing I would probably want to go out on the lake.

“Do you want some company, or do you need some alone time?” my mom inquired. “I’d love some company.” I answered. We headed down to the dock doing the social distancing dance with wipes in hand. I wiped down the kayak and oar and hoisted myself down into the wobbly vessel. I paddled out into the cove to give my mom space to get situated in her kayak.

We paddled, rested, paddled, rested all the way around the lake. Talking about nothing much, but everything important at the moment…when the last time we washed our hair was, how our world would be different when we could go back to “real life,” cookie recipes, dinner plans, updates on people with the virus, admiring and critiquing the houses around the lake, upcoming doctor appointments.

It was a stolen moment. A gift. A way to make the most of this time of isolation and fear. A mother and her grown daughter getting an hour of time together that will always be remembered.

Pandemic Parade

cars, trucks, jeeps, convertibles
balloons, streamers, posters, inflatable whales
honking, waving, smiling, crying

teachers in vehicles
students on corners with signs
families on balconies of their apartments
siblings in the back of cars, feet dangling 
parents holding children in their arms

we are so proud of you
we miss you
#rocket strong
stay safe
rockets always find a way

we love our teachers
we miss you
can we come back yet?
future schmitt rocket
we miss school
go rockets

this is not how it is supposed to be
our hallways are silent
yet our streets are full of families
waiting to get a glimpse 
of their teachers driving by

we are full of hope
yet full of sorrow
my heart did not realize the longing
until i saw your faces, smiles
i miss you
when can we be together again?
august is too far away
and dare i say later?

A Piece of Living History

I turned on the old player and inserted the CD. It was New Year’s Eve, we were staying in, and I needed some good cooking music. I pushed play. The sound took me back. 1980s. Summer vacations at my grandparents…

After a long day at the beach, everyone was taking their turn to shower and get ready for an evening out to dinner. My granddad and grandmom would visit the beach for lunch, but would head back to their condo for naps, so they were already ready for the evening.

Grandad sat at the black electric organ in his dark dress pants and light collared shirt. He chose a beat to start the music from the many buttons and lights on the his beloved machine. Then his fingers danced up and down the keyboard. His feet jumped in rhythm on the petals below. His body swayed to the tempo. The music filling every space of the modest condo.

We filtered in one by one to find a seat in the living room for our private concert. Grandmom bopped around doing odd chores, wine cooler in hand, whistling along with the music. She eventually sat in her swivel chair to enjoy the sound to its fullest. Grandad would take requests of old familiar tunes. Girl From Ipanema was my dad’s go to, while I held out for I Just Can’t Smile Without You. After several songs, Grandad would turn the power off, and we would head out to a local restaurant for our seafood dinner.

…As the CD continued to play, I found myself so grateful that my grandparents took the time to record my Grandad’s organ playing. It is a living piece of our family history. Since December 31st is my Grandad’s birthday, it is only fitting that I make this my annual New Year’s Eve playlist. Happy Birthday Grandad!

My Grandad played at many parties and events in his retirement. He loved organ playing!

The Good Ole Days

Today’s slice is inspired by Writing With Ralph Lesson 1.

Sometimes I remember
the good ole days

Packing towels and sunscreen,
ham sandwiches, Mikesells potato chips, and Twinkies

The four of us piling into
the station wagon

Driving for an hour
to Uncle Walter's barn

Dad messing with antique boat
while David and I explored 
years of dust and treasures
hidden in the wooden structure

Hooking up the Chris Craft
and pulling it to the causeway

Mom backing the car down,
dad guiding Bubba in
and driving him to the dock

Mom holding the boat
at the edge of the bobbing dock
while we unloaded the day's supplies

Dad driving the car with the trailer bouncing,
dripping with water to the parking lot

Starting the boat and embarking on the water
Finally ready for a day on the lake

I still can't imagine
anything better than that.

Time to Reflect #sol20

I have contemplated joining the Slice of Life writing challenge for several years now. I admire my friend, Leigh Anne, who writes everyday and participates in SOL in March and on Tuesdays. I often follow the #teachwrite hashtag and the twitter chat that happens monthly. This year I have been writing everyday since November 1st, so I felt like I was prepared to jump in and tackle the challenge. My goal in this challenge was to become a better writer, teacher, and all around human. Let’s see how I did with those goals–

Goal: I will become a better writer. The act of writing helps you become a better writer. Yes, instruction is important, but putting the pencil to paper or fingers to the keyboard and just writing is so valuable. Volume matters in writing. By writing every single day, I improved my craft. I was on the look out for ideas. Once you get in the habit of writing everyday, you become an idea collector. Little things happen, and I would think, “That’s a post.” As I read a variety of posts from others, I began to notice things others were doing that I could borrow. I was reading like a writer. I noticed what introductions grabbed me as a reader, and I tried to emulate those. I learned I am a better writer in the morning when my brain is fresh and uncluttered. I learned that I miss my notebook since I’ve been doing most of my writing on a computer. Yes, I became a better writer.

Goal: I will become a better teacher. I learned a lot about feedback through this challenge. How to receive it and how to give it. From Day 1, I started improving my writing based on feedback from others. All the feedback I received was positive, and through the affirmations, I knew what was working and did more of that. Specific feedback moved me forward as a writer. Others telling me lines they liked helped me craft more lines that were rich and meaningful. As I gave feedback, I tried to share places in the writing that moved me, whether it was word choice, or the overall structure, or the rhythm. I know I will use these tips for giving feedback to my writers. Yes, I became a better teacher.

Goal: I will become a better person. This was something I didn’t expect. How being a writer can change the person I am becoming. I am more thoughtful. I am more observant. I am more caring. This writing community truly cares for it’s members. The support I felt through others reading my writing and commenting has been a bright spot in each day this month. I have grown as a person each time I struggle with a post and hit publish. I have done the hard work. I have shared my writing for the first time ever. This writing space has given me the chance to be bold with my words. Yes, I became a better person.

Thank you Slice of Life 2020! I will always remember this as the month I became a writer. I hope to continue slicing with you all on Tuesdays!

Mother Nature

I take the same picture every year. We have lived in our current house for almost 13 years, and I have close to that many pictures of this scene. The blooming Magnolia trees on our block. I watch them closely, from no bud, to bud, to partially opened bud, to partially flowering, to flowering, to petals falling, to gone. This is the focus of my daily walk from mid March through early April. Checking in on the Magnolia trees. I’ve always looked forward to these trees blooming and found particular joy in watching them, but this year it seems extra important.

I need the stability of things in nature right now. I find strength in noting things that haven’t changed. The sunrise, the singing birds, the green coming forth from the earth, the blooming magnolias. In this time of uncertainty, Mother Nature reminds me to stay calm, to stay steady, to find strength in the rhythm of nature.

Coffee Dates #sol20

Coffee dates are one of my favorite things. My husband and I usually go once a week to our favorite coffee shop with our reading material. Typically, we go between 3-4 pm on a Friday or Saturday. I always order a small latte “for here” (I want my drink in the real ceramic mug, no paper or plastic please). My husband always gets the brew of the day and splurges with a splash of cream. We pick a spot to settle in and read. Have I said that this is one of my favorite things? I’m not sure if it is the sound of the espresso machine, the hum of foot traffic coming in off the street, the look of perfection in my latte art, or the uninterrupted reading time. It is something I look forward to every week!

Just like everything, coffee dates have changed in light of the pandemic. Yesterday my husband asked, “Do you want to bike down to the coffee shop?” I knew they were closed to indoor seating, but were still taking orders for curbside. “Yes,” I replied enthusiastically. We haven’t been to the coffee shop in a few weeks, and I have really missed it.

So, I packed up my bag with my current book, my husband’s magazine, and our readers (of course!). I dropped it in my basket, and we pedaled off to the coffee shop. We passed many people out and about, walking, biking, sitting on porches (it was unseasonable warm). Upon arrival, we parked our bikes by a nearby tree, and I went up to the door to read about online ordering. I could see the workers congregated by the espresso bar, just hanging out waiting for orders. Once I placed our order, the barista popped her head out the door and said she would bring it out when it was ready.

We walked over to a bench across the street and started reading. The streets were eerily empty. Very little traffic, except for customers pulling up for their online orders. A few minutes later, the friendly barista walked out with gloved hands and passed the coffees to my husband. We sat on the bench for close to an hour reading and sipping our cups of comfort. It was a nice distraction for a few hours. A way to find a little normal in this uncertain time.

Missing my “normal” coffee date, but happy to have a little piece of comfort

A Not So Normal Trip to the Grocery #sol20

Sunday I ventured to the grocery store. I had heard the reports that people we lining up an hour before stores opened to get a chance for hot items like meat, bread, paper products. But, I couldn’t do it. I did not want to be around that rush, so I waited until noon. I wasn’t prepared with a list like normal. My mindset was, Get whatever you can to sustain your family for two weeks. I had my baggie with Clorox wipes and my reusable bags, and I was out the door.

As I pulled into the parking lot, things seemed fairly normal. I got my cart and wiped down the handle and began to the produce section. There seemed to be no shortage of fresh fruits and vegetables. Good, I stocked up on everything I could find, ensuring lots of healthy sides for our upcoming meals.

Next, I passed the bakery section. Stocking up on some fresh baked breads, because my family loves breads. Actually, that might just be me. Moving on to the seafood, I grabbed our go to salmon plank hoping for a nice day to grill out this week.

Then I encountered the meat section. Where is the hamburger? Where is the chicken? Empty. I scanned for other protein items. Pork tenderloin, stew meat, roast. I can make something with those things. Hopefully the freezer section will have some other items I can work with.

I continue on my shopping journey. The bread isle. I see a sign posted. Only 3 bread items per customer. I continue to see this sign throughout the store, in the dairy section, in the paper section. I am shocked at several aisles. Absolutely no tortillas, no paper towels, napkins, toilet paper, cleaning wipes, milk. MILK. My kids drink a lot of milk. I have to settle for two half gallons of random organic milk and one chocolate Fairlife to stay within the limit. That will not sustain us for two weeks. We will need to limit our consumption.

Several people have masks on throughout the store. I try not to make eye contact with people for fear of being drawn into a conversation. I need to stay away from close contact. I see a colleague and we exchange pleasantries and wish each other safety and good health. Every door I open, I use my wipe to protect my hand from any germs on the handles.

I think I’m finally ready to check out over an hour later. My cart is filled to the brim. I have never bought so much food. I hope people don’t think I’m hoarding. I’m trying to be responsible and get everything I can think of so I can stay home and flatten the curve.

The man in front of me has a mask on, is spraying the conveyor belt, and wiping down everything in sight. He hands me two wipes for my cart. He tells me stories of people who are sick and individuals that have died. This is not helpful. He is spreading fear. I keep taking deep breaths. I thank the cashier and bagger for their continued work during this difficult time. I exit the store hoping my family can stay away from the grocery for two weeks. So far we are on day 4, and the milk is already running low.

Silver Linings #sol20

I’m writing my first phone post using the WordPress app due to the fact that my internet is down at the moment. It’s ironic that I sat down to write a post about the silver linings during this challenging time, and I have to deal with the frustration of my internet not working. But even that won’t damped my spirits.

I’m looking for silver linings (I think I heard that phrase from Kelly Gallagher). And I keep finding them. The last two days have been particularly full of them.

  • Last night, I heard the dishes clanging in the kitchen. My son without prompting was unloading the dish washer. I can’t tell you the last time this happened, if ever. I yelled, “Is this one if your elearning assignments?” “Nope,” he replied.
  • My husband and I started watching our first ever Netflix show. We watched the first episode last night. Today we’ve already talked about watching another episode later. It’s fun to have something new to do together.
  • A colleague introduced me to the Marco Polo app. I have connected with high school friends, my mother in law, a friend’s mom who is out of state, and more. It has warmed my heart to see their faces and hear their video messages.
  • My daughter has organized themed google hangouts with her college friends she is missing. Tonight is western night and she came down in her plain shirt and cowboy hat ready for her virtual party.

Silver linings are everywhere if we stop to notice. I don’t ever want to downplay the tragedy of this virus, the many families that are losing loved ones, the financial hardships many are enduring. But, I do think there are many things about our world that are changing for the better. And I need to hold on to that right now.