Thursday, December 31, 2015

Poetry Friday: On the Cusp of Tomorrow

It's Poetry Friday!  Stop by A Year of Reading as Mary Lee hosts today's parade of wondrous words.

Looking Back on 2015: Be Brave

I'm not much of a New Year Resolution gal.  I've never found making resolutions at the turn of the calendar to be effective for me.  It seemed more like something I had to do, instead of something I truly believed.  The problem wasn't the resolutions, it was my attitude about them.  They seemed routine.  Then a few years ago my friends started talking about their "one little word."  I was intrigued.  It seemed to have so much more purpose: a lens for the year.  I tried to find past words I've chosen and was able to locate my 2014 word: discover.  In 2012, I chose thank.

Last year, I wanted to step up a bit more.  I decided instead of a word, I'd choose a phrase.  I wanted something that inspired action.  I didn't just want to think about my word; I wanted to live my word.  For this reason, I decided a phrase made more sense and chose:  Be Brave.  I read:  Let's All be Brave.  To keep me inspired, I started a Pinterest board to help to think about my phrase:

I even made a video to introduce my word as that type of work was out of my comfort zone.

I loved my phrase, and honestly considered keeping it for a second year.  My phrase:
  • pushed me to speak up
  • helped me to step out of my comfort zone
  • reminded me to be more flexible
  • sent me to places I might not have gone 
  • reminded me to take chances
As someone who loves routine and things that are familiar, I found my phrase opened new doors.  I think, for the first time, it became a part of who I am.  In 2016, I'm moving on to a new word (likely phrase), but I know this one will remain a part of me.  

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Slice of Life: Could Facebook Have Saved a Mom Like Me?

This morning I decided I would find a picture of my kids with Santa when they were little and make it my Facebook profile page.  I was sure there was an ornament hanging on the Christmas tree with their picture, but for the life of me I couldn't locate it.  Searching from top to bottom and side to side, the picture was nowhere to be found amongst the twinkling lights and pine needle branches.  I decided I'd have to go into my old photos to locate a picture.  That's no easy task, of course.  Where should I begin?  Do I start in the shoeboxes full of pictures I collected over the years as I hurriedly developed film and then threw the photos into a box I was sure I'd scrapbook someday?  Which box is most likely to have a picture from Christmas past?

Sorting and using past pictures of my kids is always a challenge.  Their lives in photos are trapped between shoeboxes, old computers, and phones.  They grew up during the transition to digital photography as we moved from a film camera, to a digital camera, to a phone that would snap photos anywhere.  As we closed the door on one century and moved into another, our lives were busy.  We were racing from home to school to events.  We were squeezing in family dinners, homework, and bedtime stories.  We'd stuff pictures still in their envelopes in boxes for storage.  As my kids got older, more and more pictures were taken digitally and stored on whatever device we were using at the time.  As we moved to new computers, their photographs didn't always easily move into the new technology.

Going into the bedroom I reached under the bed and pulled out four boxes of mixed up photos.  It was most likely a Christmas photo with Santa would be in the physical photos since the best ones would have been taken with our old film camera when the kids were quite young.  My only chance of accomplishing this quickly was if there was a photo in my daughter's box I had sorted to scrapbook as she graduated from high school a few years ago.  I crossed my fingers and tried not be distracted by the impulse to just sit and look through the pictures.

I must admit I'm a bit jealous of all of my friends who will raise children in the Facebook age.  As they document their children growing up these photos will easily be chronologically sorted as teeth fall out, bikes transition from four wheels to two, family events are celebrated with grandparents and great grandparents, big plays are celebrated in sporting events, dresses and suits are put on for dances,  awards are won, and smiles are captured.  We can shake our heads at all of this technology and the way we put too much of our lives out for the world to see, but I would love to be able to scroll back through Facebook to see the significant events that shaped our lives together.  I'd love to be able to click 1995 and scroll through the first year our youngest daughter joined our family.  I'd give anything to be able to click 1997 and look at pictures of our family's Christmas with my grandparents.  I'd smile over photos of my kids sitting on their grandma's lap with a Coke can I'm sure I didn't approve.

Reaching into the large black box, a section labeled "Christmas" caught my attention.  Flipping through the photos I find a picture of the the kids when Santa visited our house.  Our oldest looks to be about ten.  I'm sure she was thrilled to have Santa sitting right in our living room.  Our youngest, likely around four years old, is hugging a stocking for all it is worth.  I'm guessing she thinks Santa might decide to take it back.  My son, smiles for the camera because best behavior is required when Santa is in the house.  It's not the photo I was looking for today, but it will certainly work for the task at hand.

Facebook might have saved a disorganized mom like me.  Instead of going to dig in a box with photographs scattered about, I could just click a year and the photo would be waiting for me right there.  Facebook might have allowed me capture the little moments in our lives that seem forgotten as we hurried through our days while organizing the moments for me.  To all my friends raising families in the Facebook age, grab your phone to catch the moments, the smiles, the celebrations as you race breathlessly through these days which sometimes seem long, but will later seem like a blink of the eye.

Today I am joining the Slice of Life Challenge hosted at Two Writing Teachers.  Stop by today's link up and join the conversation.  

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Where Do You Find Poetry?

So I haven't posted for such a long time because I've been having a bit of a poetry problem; I can't find a poem.  I've looked high and low - no poem.  Perhaps life has been too busy or maybe I just haven't taken the time to pause to find it, but poetry doesn't seem to be finding me these days.  What do you do to inspire poetry?

Where Do You Find Poetry?

when words do not come,
where do you
find poetry
when it eludes you?

what do you do
when the silence
is too quiet
for words?

how do you write
when the sound
of the birds
brings no song,
when the stream
gurgling over it's rocky base
can't bring your pen to paper?

though you look
deep into the night,
up into the skies of blue,
watch the sun rise
in the morning sky;

though you search
the usual places
poetry cannot be found.
what do you do
when words hide?

© Cathy L. Mere, 2015

Friday, October 9, 2015

Poetry Friday: A Friend Just Like That

It's Poetry Friday.  This week Laura Purdie Salas hosts at Writing the World for Kids.  Stop by her blog for today's parade of wondrous words.  

This was the first week of The Global Read Aloud (#gra15).  We are joining the conversation around the work of Amy Krouse Rosenthal (#graAMY).  I decided I would jump back into Poetry Friday with a poem about this week's book: Chopsticks.  I thought it might be fun to try to write a poem related to the book we read each week across the event.  This week we enjoyed the story of two friends who like to be together and, of course, want what is best for the other.  I'm grateful to have friends just like that.     

A Friend Just Like That
There's nothing quite like
a friend that is true,
she'll stand beside you
and do what you do.

A friend for adventures
or to lend a good ear,
a friend to help you
when life's not so clear.

A friend who will laugh
or just sit down for a chat,
who likes what you do;
a friend just like that.

A friend who enjoys
your crazy schemes.
A friend to encourage you
to follow your dreams.

Though life sometimes moves you
to places anew.
Though distance may separate,
she'll still think of you.

You'll discover new joys.
New places you'll see.
When you sit down together,
you'll share them with glee.

Joining a friend
after being apart,
puts a smile on your face
and a song in your heart.

© Cathy L. Mere, 2015

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Wednesday Wisdom

I collect quotes on Pinterest.  Sometimes I just like to scroll through them for inspiration.  In an effort to live these words of wisdom I've decided to share a quote a week in #WednesdayWisdom.  What words are you living by today?  Join me!

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Slice of Life: When Life Gives You Weeds, Grab a Wheelbarrow

This evening I grabbed my wheelbarrow and headed to the flowerbeds.  To say I had been putting off weeding my flowerbeds would likely be a bit of an understatement.  The mosquitoes had made it nearly impossible to spend too long outside without layers of clothing.  The thistles, grasses, and other unwelcome offenders had started to take over everywhere I looked.  I had to stop avoiding the inevitable.  With that in mind, I put on some long pants, grabbed my gloves, and headed to get the wheelbarrow.

Where to start?  That was the question.  Should I start in the front where most people actually see our beds or go to the back so my view from the patio was pleasing?  The task ahead seemed overwhelming.  I really just wanted to go inside, grab a class of lemon water, and sit on my couch.   That's when I remembered advice from one of the secretaries I had the pleasure of working with years ago:  "Just start with a wheelbarrow.  Fill it one time each day."  I started that day filling one wheelbarrow, emptying it, and decided I could handle a second trip.  The next day, I grabbed the wheelbarrow again and slowly I completed the job.

As I worked I was reminded that I should consider this type of thinking more in my life.  When I have a task that just seems too overwhelming I retreat.  I don't know where to start -- so I don't start at all.  Whether it is a blogpost, a letter to a friend, organizing family photos, researching our family line, that stack of professional reading, a longer writing project, the clothes pile on my dresser, the mail tower on the counter, or my basement, I just choose to ignore it.  Maybe instead of ignoring these hard tasks I should just bring a wheelbarrow --- figuratively of course.  (Well, literally to the basement.)

If I would just figure out the way to manage the task by taking small steps, I'd get more done.  Thirty minutes of writing would be a start.  Ten minutes each day with a mail pile would surely zap it.  Tackling one section of that overwhelming writing project each morning would get it under control.  Taking fifteen minutes to put clothes away and straighten up our room would keep it looking great.  Yes, that one wheelbarrow full of weeds every once in awhile would help me get started removing the weeds of my life so I could enjoy the flowers.

Today I am joining the Slice of Life Challenge hosted at Two Writing Teachers.  Stop by today's link up and join the conversation.  

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Slice of Life: Cucumbers Anyone?

Slowly walking toward the garden I began to assess its progress.  I hadn't been to the garden since returning from vacation.  The weeds standing tall between the plants were a sure sign I needed to fight the mosquitoes and get busy.  Everything looked like it needed a bit of care.  I wandered around to see how the plants were doing.  While the peppers and tomatoes seemed to need a bit of work, it appeared all of this rain had been perfect for cucumbers and zucchini as they were already ready to be picked.  Their vines were reaching far away from their original resting spot.

Walking over to the cucumber plants, I paused to take a look.  The plants were intertwined and quite healthy.  It wasn't long until I discovered three cucumbers more than ready to be picked.  Pulling the cucumbers I brought them into the house.  I looked at them for a minute to decide what I should do with them.  That's when I remembered my grandma used to keep cucumbers and onions in vinegar when I was a kid.  Though at that time I could do without the onions, I could eat my weight in cucumbers.  The more I thought about her cucumbers; the more I knew I just had to see if I could put together this tasty snack as my grandma had years ago.

Grabbing my iPad I searched Pinterest for a recipe.  This didn't seem to yield a recipe I thought would work so I headed over to do a quick Google search.  Finally I found a recipe that looked close: cucumber, onion, white vinegar, water, sugar and dill.  Of course, checking my cupboard I realized I only had cider vinegar.  I didn't feel like running into town to go to the store so cider vinegar would have to do.  Cutting the cucumbers, onions, and tomatoes, I placed them into the bowl.  Then combining the other ingredients I mixed them all together.  I cut the sugar considerably as I couldn't imagine Grandma adding that much sugar to her cucumbers and onions.

Placing them in the refrigerator I waited a bit to give them a taste.  Finally I opened the container to give them a try.  Delicious!  Not too far off of Grandma's recipe.

If I want more cucumbers, I guess I need to get busy and go out to tackle those weeds!

If you have a favorite recipe for cucumbers and onions, I'd love to hear about it.  

Today I am joining the Slice of Life Challenge hosted at Two Writing Teachers.  Stop by today's link up and join the conversation.  

Friday, July 17, 2015

Poetry Friday: Winding Roads

As a child I spent a week each summer with my grandparents.  My grandma kept us busy with picnics and adventure.  Today as we motorcycled the winding hills we passed one of our favorite destinations.  The memory brought today's original poem.

Driving winding roads,
through cool forests
we once walked
side by side.
Nothing much has changed;
the trees still
stand tall watching,
their long branches
hiding treasures to be discovered,
cars still line the parking lot
where people gather,
unpack picnics: 
bologna sandwiches
with homemade mayonnaise sweet,
macaroni salad,
iced bottles of Coca-Cola,
watermelon cut with care into cubes
just right for small hands.
Years have come and gone but,
the paths we walked
still call.
The laughter 
still sings in my ear.
Though it's been years
I feel you walking beside me
as I meander past
the places we once walked

Cathy L. Mere 2015 

It's Poetry Friday!  Stop by Google + ( where Kimberley Moran hosts today's parade of wondrous words.

Monday, July 13, 2015


Last week's make for the #CLMOOC took me way out of my comfort zone.  As soon as the word "game" was mentioned I felt the dread creep up much as it did when I was in high school and the words "five paragraph essay" were tossed into the air.  It's like a cement wall just stopped me right where I stood.  I don't know why games no longer bring me comfort.  As a child, I spent hours playing games with my grandparents.  There was nothing like a game of Old Maid, Aggravation, Spoons, or Rummy to bring some excitement to the day.

Now, games just make my head spin.  I get that they're important, but they seem to take time I really don't have.  On top of that, they make me think of "coding" for some reason.  Coding is another aspect of learning, I've shied away from lately.  This week the #CLMOOC asked:
"For this Make Cycle, we invite you to use game design to analyze, remediate, and reflect on complex systems."
All week I stressed over this make and had really planned to just give up.  However, I had committed to this event so I needed to stay with it.  Yesterday I wrote a post about your "CORE apps."  These are apps you know you will use often in your classroom.  It doesn't mean they're the only apps you use, but if you were helping someone get started what would be your core?  I wrote the post in hopes of hearing about the CORE apps educators were using, but blogs often have little feedback.  So - because I'm desperate to not drop the ball here....and there is something I want to know - I decided to play a little tag.

I hope you'll play along.  Let's play T-APP Tag.  I've already started the game on Twitter, but there's no reason you can't start another game.  Let's see how this will go and what I can learn from it.

The rules:
1)  When you are tagged you need to read through the other posts on the board.
2)  Find one tool/app/site you'd like to try.
3)  Add a post it.  The post it should say something like "I'd like to try _____.  A few of my core apps are:  ______, _______, ______.   Then share 3-5 core apps on the Padlet board.
4)  Then you need to tag three new people to play on your favorite social media site.  (I'm starting to play on Twitter, but I see no reason the game has to stay there.)

For six weeks I am joining the CLMOOC.  MOOCs are massive online learning communities.  This one is offered by the Educator Innovator and powered by individuals from the The National Writing Project.  It focuses on making and creating meaning through six weeks of collaborative make cycles.  There is a focus for each week, a space to link up, and then ways to connect with others who are part of the project. 

Friday, July 3, 2015

Poetry Friday / CLMOOC: Ocean Remedy

Today I am going to combine two events:  Poetry Friday and CLMOOC.  This week's CLMOOC challenge is to Re(MEDIA)te something. 
"For this Make Cycle, we invite you to consider how the media we compose within (like print, sound, still and moving image, or objects) influence how we communicate and interpret.  In this Make Cycle, we will mediate and re-mediate and reflect on how the affordances of different media impact our choices, processes, and meanings."  CLMOOC
The point, as I understand it, is to consider how the different ways we choose media to present an idea can impact the understanding our audience walks away with after reading or viewing our composition.  

Today I'm going to play with this idea in four steps.  How does each shape your understanding?  Which compositions allow you, the reader, to take more liberties and bring your own understandings to the meaning displayed and which push you more toward the message I hope to convey?  Which compositions speak to you?  

Composition I:  Digital Image

Composition II:  Video 

Made on my iPhone with Magisto.  The app allows for theme and song choice which
was important in creating a mood.  You can insert video and image, but I haven't found
a way to choose the order they will appear. 

Composition III:  Poem (Poetry Friday Composition)
Made on my iPhone with Phonto.
Photo allows you to easily take an image and add text.

Composition IV:  Poetry Remix Using Haiku Deck 

Ocean Remedy - Created with Haiku Deck, presentation software that inspires

It's Poetry Friday!  Stop by Mainely Write  as Donna hosts today's parade of wondrous words.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Slice of Life: Pelican Haiku

This is the best pelican picture I've managed.
If you could see how close they come to
where I am sitting, you'd know I have more
work to do to capture the perfect picture.
While on vacation I've become a bit obsessed with pelicans.  Every evening they fly by our balcony in groups.  I don't really see them coming until they are there in lined formation.  They float by one after another as they follow their regular path down the coast.  Each day I've tried to capture a picture of them as they fly close to our balcony, but I'm never fast enough.  The rest of my family thinks I have gone crazy.  The people on the beach completely ignore them as they fly in formation in search of food.  I can't ignore them as I find them absolutely fascinating.  I've done a bit of research and was surprised to find they were quite endangered from the 1950s through the 1970s.  They appear to be thriving now.  I was also surprised to learn they live to nearly 25 years.  Tonight's slice of poetry was inspired by observing them as they fly along the water in search of food.  Here are a few haikus about these observations.

the brown pelican,
wings outstretched against blue sky,
soars along the coast.

they appear in line
wings outstretched in evening wind:
pelican parade.

pelicans hover
above roaring waves of white,
then dive for dinner.

Today I am joining the Slice of Life Challenge hosted at Two Writing Teachers.  Stop by today's link up and join the conversation.  

Monday, June 29, 2015

CLMOOC Make 1: The Unintroduction

For the next six weeks I am joining the CLMOOC.  MOOCs are massive online learning communities.  This one is offered by the Educator Innovator and powered by individuals from the The National Writing Project.  It focuses on making and creating meaning through six weeks of collaborative make cycles.  There is a focus for each week, a space to link up, and then ways to connect with others who are part of the project.  

I'm a little late to the party.  It's been a busy couple of weeks.  Today I'm squeezing in late to for make cycle 1:  "unintroduce" myself.   When thinking about an unintroduction, in only makes sense to think about an introduction:  the pleasantness, the quick judgement, the basic information shared.  For me, I always find the greatest challenge to remember the name which is always given first and then so much information follows.  I decided to unintroduce myself in a poem.

image created with Pic2Comic
The Unintroduction

Unraveling truths
not seen;
when meeting
we shake hands,
smile politely,
exchange names,
pieces that fit.

Untangling identities:
life as a mother,
believer in social justice,
advocate of public education.

Unlocking secrets 
unnamed in the moment:
unseen loss,
unanswered questions,
untold heartache,
unresolved conflicts,
unknown battles,
float between us.

Unaware of the stories
we walk away
yet unacquainted.
Left wondering,
with more questions
than answers.
         and unknowing.  

© Cathy L. Mere, 2015 

Friday, June 26, 2015

Poetry Friday: Who's Been Here?

The last two weeks I have been working with the Columbus Area Writing Project at The Ohio State University.  I have been sitting in the same classrooms I sat in years ago as an undergraduate and graduate student.  As I look around I can't help but think about all of the amazing professors I had.  During my days wandering the halls I can't help but wonder who has been here?  What great ideas have been formed in these very spaces?  That thinking inspired this short poem with an image from Ramseyer Hall.  

It's Poetry Friday!  Stop by Carol's Corner as Carol Wilcox hosts today's parade of wondrous words.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Slice of Life: Grandma's Remedy

Today as I sat with our writing group, I noticed a plant sitting on the table - an aloe plant.  That plant triggered a few memories of my grandma's healing magic.  

When I was a kid, I spent a lot of time at my grandma's house.  She had a great location between the park and the pool with the ice cream shop just around the corner.  Paradise!  Not only did she have a great location, but she was a lot of fun.  She was hip and cool for a grandma.  She knew what music was hot.  She stayed up past midnight and slept in until late into the morning.  When I stayed at her house, we'd stay up all night playing cards and watching television.

While Grandma was hip and cool and fun, she had some crazy ideas about first aid and health treatments.  According to her, Vick's Vapor Rub was the only treatment for colds.  Seven-Up over crushed ice was the only way to settle a stomach (might be true).  When we would fall and scrape a knee or cut an elbow, we tried to not tell her because we knew what it meant...mercurochrome or merthiolate.  They were both red liquids painted onto the cut.  Ouch!  One of them was incredibly painful and I always hoped when I saw the red stick she was using the gentler version.  

Grandma had one remedy I loved:  her aloe plant.  She had an aloe plant she kept in her kitchen.  I was fascinated by it.  Any time we would burn ourselves on something, she would tear off a piece of that plant and rub it on immediately.  When she did this, I never got a blister and the pain was gone instantly.  Magic!  

In my days with Grandma she told me a lot of stories, taught me a lot of games, and passed along many tips for solving problems.  To this day, I count the secrets of the aloe plant as one of the best do-it-yourself remedies she ever shared.  Grandma could heal about anything, but I'm not sure it was her do-it-yourself remedies that did it.  I am quite sure Grandma healed everything with her hug, a kiss, and a little cookie. 

Today I am joining the Slice of Life Challenge hosted at Two Writing Teachers.  I apologize for the lack of links, but we are out of data so I have to post from my phone.  I will be back to add links.  In the meantime, stop by 

Friday, June 19, 2015

Poetry Friday: You

search for yourself
in places near
and far
in crowded buildings
in rooms filled with noise

wander untouched paths 
long ago overgrown
hoping to find
whatever it is
that must be missing

look into the eyes of others
strangers passing by
friends who come and go
for approval
for answers

chase dreams yet unnamed
in unwelcoming directions 
hoping to find 
the place where you fit
to discover who you are

change direction over and over
seeking approval of a society
that pays sport figures more than doctors
paints reality on television in amplified chaos
that has lost sight of what's important

with a heart of gold
with eyes still fresh to the world
need not look in other places
for all that you are
you don't belong in a world that changes you

just need to look
deep inside yourself
to discover the bright light
already there
perfectly as you are 

© Cathy L. Mere, 2015 

It's Poetry Friday!  Stop by A Year of Reading as Mary Lee hosts today's parade of wondrous words.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Slice of Life: Writing Communities

Image via Julie Johnson
For most of my life, my writing has been for myself.  It was somehow therapeutic to scratch words with a pen onto a piece of paper.  My writing life has certainly ebbed and flowed --- mostly ebbed  --- across the years, but writing for myself was always enough.  I didn't have to worry about criticism.  Didn't have to worry about saying things in the wrong way.  Didn't have to worry about working and reworking my thoughts.  I just put words on a page, closed the book, and walked away.

A long series of events over the last ten years has slowly pushed me toward more public writing.  One factor in changing my course has been community.  Writing communities have pushed me to put more thought into my writing, to work toward creating stronger messages, to try writing in new ways, to be a bit braver when it comes to sharing the words on a page.  Today, for example, this post is part of the collaborative work of the Slice of Life community. Every Tuesday these writers link up at Two Writing Teachers with a small snippet of story to share.  Then participants comment and provide feedback on blogs that affirm, inspire and push the writing.  I also participate in Poetry Friday which is another virtual community that supports one another's love of the written words of poetry.

For the last two days, however, my writing community hasn't been virtual, it has been live and in person.  A few months ago, Julie Johnson began organizing a group of educators to work together with the Columbus Area Writing Project on a project around digital literacy.  I was honored to be asked to join, and absolutely thrilled when the group came together.  The group members are educators I respect, trust to push my thinking, and know well enough to feel comfortable handing my writing to them.  Our group consists of Tonya Buelow, Deb Frazier, Julie Johnson, Scott Jones, Deb Lairson, Mandy Robek, and myself.

Today was only our second day, and already I am loving this writing community.  Our day begins as part of a larger group as there are, I think, four different groups working on a writing project of one kind or another.  We then have time to write, a working lunch (we need to read the pieces that will receive feedback), and then an afternoon of feedback.  Our writing group does have a format, perhaps a protocol, it is following.  We read the piece.  One person provides feedback and cannot be interrupted.  The writer responds to the feedback and asks further questions.  Then the next person provides feedback.

To be honest, I've never been a huge fan of protocols.  No big surprise there for those who know me.  I get their purpose, but sometimes think they feel constricting and keep conversation from flowing.  There's something about learning in a group that is sitting around a table and having a natural conversation around something.  There's something about the way the conversation grows that pushes our thinking, but protocols sometimes take the naturalness away from this.

For some strange reason I can't explain, the boundaries of the protocol have made the conversation quite fun.  If you knew our group, you'd know we are all a bunch of talkers.  Watching us trying not to interrupt is hilarious.  At times, someone just loses their ability to be quiet and interjects accidentally --- that is even funnier.  Listening to the feedback, even when it is for someone else, has really helped me to think more about my writing.  The questions we have been asking each other have been hard, but the conversations have been comfortable.

Our writing group will be working together for the next two weeks.  After reading the beginnings of each person's piece, I am curious to see where we will go as we work together.  Most of all, I'm glad that in the middle of this hard work, I know we'll be able to laugh.  Writing communities have helped me to grow as a writer.  There's still much to learn and I'm glad to be working beside these writers in these next steps of my writing journey.

It's Tuesday!  Today I'm participating in the Slice of Challenge hosted each Tuesday at Two Writing Teachers.  Stop by today's round-up and join the fun!  

Friday, June 12, 2015

Poetry Friday: Renewal

Happy Poetry Friday.  It seems the perfect day to celebrate poetry and portrait together.  Each season, Carol Varsalona, creates a gallery of poetry and images for her readers.  The idea of a virtual gallery is interesting to me.  Carol is always thinking of smart ways to collect, collaborate, and curate digitally.  Thankfully, she is also good at reminders.  Here is my offering for her Spring Symphony gallery.  I can't wait to take a walk through the collection.

Today's poem was created using PicCollage and Phonto.  I worked
with a few picture art apps, but felt spring was just too beautiful
to change the images --- Mother Nature paints glorious pictures. 

It's Poetry Friday!  Stop by Jama's Alphabet Soup for today's parade of wondrous words.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Slice of Life: I'm Tired of Being Cold

I'm tired of being cold --- and, yes, I wrote this in June!

This morning I am sitting on my couch curled up in the corner seat wrapped in a fleece jacket.  Yes, it's June in Ohio, but I'm cold.  I started on the patio because it was warmer outside than inside, but it started to rain so I had to come back into the house.

I'm considering disconnecting the air conditioning.  Do you think my family would notice?

When you live in Ohio, you are cold from November until late March.  You learn to live with it.  You build fires in the fireplace, drink hot coffee, and make lots of soup.  During these months, I tire of putting on coats, boots, scarves and mittens.  I tire of sweaters and leggings under my dress pants.  I tire of cold winds and icy conditions.  Cold just becomes a way of life.  My car doesn't like the cold either.  It has a warning light when the temperature gets to 37 degrees fahrenheit.  This always makes me laugh as 37 might be considered warm in January.  We spend months in endless brown and white with temperatures well below 37.

When the calendar turns to April I know I will soon find relief.  You'd think that I could be warm in June when temperatures near the upper 70s and into the 80s, but in Ohio people love air conditioning.  I'm convinced they love to keep houses and buildings as cold as the wintery days about which we complain.

My husband, whom I love dearly, likes the house colder than I.  I can't imagine why his mediterranean blood would like it so cold.  I find myself putting on jackets, wearings shirts with sleeves, and keeping socks on my feet just to wander around our house.  I've tried to find a warm spot, but our air conditioning is much too efficient.  When I go to bed at night, I often have to turn on my side of the heated mattress pad just to get warm.

All of this cold, makes it hard to dress to go anywhere.  If you're going to be inside, you might as well reach into your fall clothes stack.  You'll need pants, sleeves, and maybe a sweater to go just about anywhere.  This, of course, is complicated if you plan to be inside and outside.  Outside the temperature might be over eighty degrees, but inside feels like sixty.  It's like living in a freezer.

I'm cold everywhere.  I keep a blanket on the couch in the summer.  I have a jacket in my car, just in case.  When I was younger my grandma was quite a fashionista.  She wore pant suits of yellow, blue, and mint green.  Even in the summer she would have on a long sleeved blouse and a suit jacket.  I couldn't understand it.  Wasn't she hot in those outfits?  Now, I'm actually considering purchasing a few pant suits for summer.  Maybe, like me, she was always cold in the summer.  Maybe it's a genetic disease.

Whatever it is, I'm tired of being cold in the summer.  I just wish my fellow Ohioans could realize that summer is the time for us to store up enough warmth in our bones to last us through the long months of winter.  I just wish I could convince everyone to keep their spaces just a bit above meat locker temperature.  I just want to be warm.

It's Tuesday!  Today I'm participating in the Slice of Challenge hosted each Tuesday at Two Writing Teachers.  Stop by today's round-up and join the fun!  

Friday, June 5, 2015

Poetry Friday: Summer Snow

Today was the first day I could really take a minute to sit back and relax.  It was beautiful here so I headed out to spend the day on my patio.  The wind whistled through the trees as the birds sang songs of summer.  The breeze continually carried white fluffy seeds (I think milkweed seeds) through the sky.  I thought I'd try to write a poem to capture the image.

Milkweed Seed
the milkweed seed
in warm air.
fluffy puffs,
cottony white ,
gently to the ground.
covering the grass
in summer snow.

Cathy L. Mere, 2015

...or a haiku

It's Poetry Friday!  Stop by Buffy's Blog for today's parade of wondrous words.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Poetry Friday: Bird Watching

Sometimes I think
they come to watch me
as they perch
high on branches
gazing below
chattering feverishly
to one another
in chirps and tweets
flying back and forth
just above me
gliding to a closer tree
to get a better look
at the human
sitting on the patio
pecking away
with her fingers.

© Cathy L. Mere, 2015

It's Poetry Friday!  Stop by Random Noodling where Diane hosts today's parade of wondrous words.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Slice of Life: It's a Piece of Cake

I've never considered myself a baker.  It's just not my thing.  Baking takes time --- and patience.  I'm not really someone who has either of these things --- at least not in the kitchen.  I'd much rather cook than bake.  In office potlucks I hope to be assigned sides instead of dessert.  At family gatherings, I cross my fingers someone will ask for cheese potatoes or broccoli casserole.  I'd rather cook the entire meal than be asked to bring dessert.

My sister-in-law is a baker.  She makes glorious cakes that nearly reach the sky.  She makes cookies that are never too brown and always the right height.  I have baker friends who inspire me with their tales of cheesecakes, pies, and biscotti.  Despite all of the experts in my life, I've limited my baking to chocolate chip cookies and cake mix boxes.

Recently things have changed.  Maybe it's the fact that I have more time on my hands.  Maybe I've just decided I don't care how it turns out, I'll give it a try.  Maybe it's the "maker thinking" taking over my mindset.  Last month I decided to try an Oreo cookie cake that turned out edible, if I do say so myself.  When my daughter asked for a chocolate cake for her birthday I decided I would make it from scratch.  I searched recipes, asked for a little advice from baking friends (coffee in a chocolate cake?), and gathered the ingredients to make my own cake.

I've never considered myself a baker, but maybe I'm starting to think we can do anything if we are determined enough to give a try.

It's Tuesday so I'm joining the Slice of Life Challenge hosted by Two Writing Teachers.  

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Poetry Month: Summer Guest 30 of 30

I thought you weren't coming this year,
but today I spotted you,
soaring beneath the sky
wings outstretched
circling above the roof
before descending
into the chimney.

You must be busy in there
building your nest,
cementing sticks to the brick walls,
knowing soon
babies will come.
This nest will keep you safe
through summer.

Chimney swift,
I will watch you
as you sail through the sky
at sunset
searching for insects:
bees, mosquitoes, flies,
for your evening snack.

I will watch
as you glide in the sky above
gracefully swooping
for hours as the sun crosses
from east to west.
You are happy to have returned
to your summer home.

© Cathy L. Mere, 2015

Each year, as spring moves toward summer, our chimney is visited by swifts looking for a summer home.  I'm not a big fan of having birds sharing our home, but it is something I have grown used to in the years since we have moved here.  Our house was built some time ago, and without a metal cover on our chimney, swifts love to set up a home.  I'm used to the cycle.  Every year I think they aren't coming and then one day I hear it, the furious flapping of wings and the chitter chatter of nighttime conversations.   Apparently, they are on the decline due to loss of habitat.  Perhaps we are doing our part for the ecosystem by tolerating their preference for nesting in our chimney.  

It's April and National Poetry Month.  I'm writing a poem every day to help celebrate!  Thanks to Margaret SimonLeigh Anne EckMichelle HaseltineLinda BaieJulieanne Harmatz, and Kevin Hodgson for giving the final push.  We are linking using the hashtag #digipoetry.  I have to also thank my everyday poetry mentors Mary Lee Hahn & Amy Ludwig Vanderwater.  They continually inspire me.  You'll find more poetry on the sidebar. 

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Poetry Month: For the Love of Baseball 28 of 30

Game day
I can still hear Grandma
pacing in the kitchen
as she washes the plates clean
after the last innings
of dinner.

The Big Red Machine
on the radio,
Marty and Joe banter
sharing the play by play.
She listens
talking back to the radio.
The box blares
static between statements,
but she still catches every word.

My sweet
mild mannered grandma
who feeds the birds,
makes us pancakes,
takes us on picnics,
and smiles when
we slide home from the creek
covered in mud,

My loving grandma
isn't so mild mannered
when Johnny Bench
isn't moving fast enough,
when Pete Rose
isn't hitting,
when Griffey misses
a fly ball.

She isn't going to be happy
until she hears them say,
"and this one
belongs to the Reds."

© Cathy L. Mere, 2015

This week the Reds honored the 1990 World Championship team and the notorious Nasty Boys with a celebration.  The rain delay probably gave the celebration more coverage than it would have received. As I watched the celebration, I remembered my grandma and her love of the Reds.  She cheered on the 1990 team, but I will always think of her as a fan of the Big Red Machine.  We would stay with her for a week each summer, and on game night she'd be in the kitchen pacing and yelling calls to the Reds.  Sometimes I was sure she should replace Sparky Anderson.  She loved the game.

It's April and National Poetry Month.  I'm writing a poem every day to help celebrate!  Thanks to Margaret SimonLeigh Anne EckMichelle HaseltineLinda BaieJulieanne Harmatz, and Kevin Hodgson for giving the final push.  We are linking using the hashtag #digipoetry.  I have to also thank my everyday poetry mentors Mary Lee Hahn & Amy Ludwig Vanderwater.  They continually inspire me.  You'll find more poetry on the sidebar. 

It's also Tuesday so I'm joining the Slice of Life Challenge hosted by Two Writing Teachers.  

Monday, April 27, 2015

Poetry Month: Rooted 27 of 30

The tree stands
where it always stood,

It has always been there
providing shade,
lifting its branches
in warm hello.

Its solid trunk
stands tall
helping the tree see
what others cannot.

The dependable tree
waits quietly,

In life's busyness
the tree's forgotten,
leaves fall,
seeds sow.

Time passes,
turn to weeks,
weeks to years.

Finally I step outside
where the tree
stands tall,
ever loyal.

The tree awaits,
leaves greener than I remember,
holding my stories,
my comfortable friend.

© Cathy L. Mere, 2015

It's April and National Poetry Month.  I'm writing a poem every day to help celebrate!  Thanks to Margaret SimonLeigh Anne EckMichelle HaseltineLinda BaieJulieanne Harmatz, and Kevin Hodgson for giving the final push.  We are linking using the hashtag #digipoetry.  I have to also thank my everyday poetry mentors Mary Lee Hahn & Amy Ludwig Vanderwater.  They continually inspire me.  You'll find more poetry on the sidebar. 

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Poetry Month: Chocolate Crisis 26 of 30

I looked inside the freezer
and on the pantry shelf,
for just a piece of chocolate
to eat all by myself.

There weren't any Reese's,
no chocolate anywhere.
I looked high and low.
Then looked here and there.

Just one piece of chocolate
is all I want to find.
I've searched in all my hiding spots.
I'll surely lose my mind.

No chocolate behind the coffee pot.
None hidden in the drawer.
Not tucked beside the books.
There has to be some more.

There's not a piece to be found.
I'm really just so blue.
How will I survive without chocolate?
What's a girl to do?

© Cathy L. Mere, 2015

It's April and National Poetry Month.  I'm writing a poem every day to help celebrate!  Thanks to Margaret SimonLeigh Anne EckMichelle HaseltineLinda BaieJulieanne Harmatz, and Kevin Hodgson for giving the final push.  We are linking using the hashtag #digipoetry.  I have to also thank my everyday poetry mentors Mary Lee Hahn & Amy Ludwig Vanderwater.  They continually inspire me.  You'll find more poetry on the sidebar. 

Friday, April 24, 2015

Poetry Month: Night Song 24 of 30

Today our first graders spent some time with poet, Amy Ludwig VanDerwater, discussing poetry.  OH.  MY.  GOODNESS.  During our Skype call Amy shared the different points of view she sometimes uses to write poetry.  She shared the story of the small creature she watched racing in and out of a wall.  She talked about the many ways she could write about that.  One way she shared was by writing AS the creature (or other animal/object/etc.).  She called this a MASK poem.  After our time with her, we talked about the ways we might write our poetry.  I was telling a student about the coyotes I hear each night in the field behind our house.  I decided, after Amy's conversation, to write a poem as the coyote for Poetry Friday.  

Image:  Rebecca Richardson (2008)
via WikiMedia Commons
When the sun
is replaced
by the night sky,
     I call.

When the moon
rises, faintly lighting
the earth below,
     I call.

When the stars look
down upon the world
gently twinkling,
     I call.

In the dark night
others join
the chorus;
     I call.

While others rest,
     I roam.
While others sleep,
     I hunt.
While others hide,
     I seek.
In the silence,
     I call.

You hear me,
     howling deep into the night.

© Cathy L. Mere

Thanks to Margaret SimonLeigh Anne EckMichelle HaseltineLinda BaieJulieanne Harmatz, and Kevin Hodgson for giving the final push.  We are linking using the hashtag #digipoetry.  I have to also thank my everyday poetry mentors Mary Lee Hahn & Amy Ludwig Vanderwater.  They continually inspire me.  You'll find more poetry on the sidebar. 

It's Poetry Friday!  Stop by No Water River where Renée LaTulippe hosts today's parade of wondrous words.

Slice of Life: Today They March 24 of 31

For the month of March, I'll be writing with the  Slice of Life  community. Disclaimer: I'll be writing every day so the writing ...