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winter is shrinking

winter is shrinking
where snow once covered the yard like an oversized sweater,
covering the ground completely, with piles heaped on the edges like rolled up cuffs covering the fingers,
now the snow is spread thin, falling short of the bushes that line the yard’s border, like clothes accidentally thrown in the dryer,
leaving wrists and ankles bare

where once ice covered the pond completely,
so we could stand at the edge and look down at the frozen water,
now only miniature islands remain,
while we stand at the shore and wave goodbye

the air is still cool, but there’s a promise of warmth in the air,
as if even the cold is shrinking back, receding,
pulling in on itself, tighter and tighter,
while the rest of us uncurl in response to spring,
taking up more and more space
as we stretch out our limbs to soak in the sunlight


Muscle Memory




I’m not sure what’s going on with my computer settings, but I seem to have to type these in a lot when trying to post a comment for another slicer. I used to be able to click on the nice, little WordPress icon and have everything filled in, but–alas, no longer. And so, slice after slice, I find myself typing in name, email, and website.

It’s not so bad. Before this year I could never remember my website address. I’ve finally gotten it memorized, and I can type it out pretty quickly. I just can’t let my typing go on autopilot.

Without fail, if I’m not concentrating after I type https:// I find myself typing in the website to access my old district’s old site for accessing email. I haven’t worked in this district all year, and even before this year, it was years ago that the district switched its email system to Google. I’m not sure when in the last 5 years I’ve typed in that website, if at all.

Nevertheless, every time I type https:// I find my fingers going on to type mail.north-haven….. I usually catch myself around the time I finish the word “mail” and quickly backspace and write in the correct address, but it surprises me still, this muscle memory in my fingers.

I was ready to leave the district, and yet I wasn’t. It felt like home after 22 years, even though it was time for me to fly the nest. And so, every time I see https://mail.north- appearing on my screen, it feels like a connection to family.

I worry, a little, about typing my WordPress address so often that my fingers will learn the new address. It will make commenting on slices easier, but I also feel not quite ready to give up that old connection to my first school home.

Every time I type https:// I wonder what my fingers will do. Is this the day I will have moved one more step away from my old district, or will I carry it with me a little longer in my unconscious, the way I carry pressures of data expectations and assumptions of hierarchy and what is allowed in a school? Will I carry it with me a little longer in my unconscious, the way I carry my family and my nostalgia for my childhood home?

What I Like

This post is inspired by many beautiful posts I read today in the I like/I dislike format, it sounds like started by Britt at I decided to leave mine at what I like, since I had such fun writing about what I like, and couldn’t imagine that delving into the things I dislike would bring me quite as much joy.

What I like:

trees, preferably in a whole stand or leading into a forest, the bigger the better, branches reaching up tall so you have to tilt your head back and wonder at the enormity, trunk so thick you can’t help but know this tree has been on Earth much, much longer than you, and beech trees in spring most of all, with their baby leaves pleated and so soft that I want to rub my cheek against them and kiss them in my joy that it’s spring again and summer is going to come

books, any kind, as long as they’re not sad, but even then I’ll take sad if they also make me laugh and are beautiful and end with hope

libraries, especially with kind librarians who override lending limits and renew books indefinitely even when I tell them the book is nowhere in my classroom and is probably gone forever and shouldn’t I just pay for the replacement now?–which is to say, I think what I really like is

hope, the Obama kind is fine, and in present times the idea of being hopeful about politics seems fantastic in every sense of the word, but what I really like best, even more than hopeful books or even hopeful librarians, are the people who fill me with hope, like my teaching mentor when I began teaching, who never let me leave school feeling discouraged

chocolate, not too dark, but just a little dark, especially paired with orange and in a cake or milkshake, but depending on the day I might not hold out for homemade brownies or Godiva truffles and will happily eat a Hersey’s kiss handed out by a colleague during a brief moment of quiet in an otherwise frantic day

chai, preferably from the vegan restaurant in Providence, R.I. that does I-don’t-know-what to make the most complex, flavorful chai I’ve had in a long time, or else the Indian restaurant I stopped at once with a friend in Portsmouth, N.H. before driving another two hours through the dark, but I’ll take it from any independent coffee shop along my route to school, or even a slight detour away, because caffeine to me is hope in liquid form

sisterhood in all its forms, from the global connection I feel to women all over the world, feeding my pride in their accomplishments and my concern for their rights, to the sisterhood of my women’s college alma mater that cheers each other on and supports each other in ways large and small, to my sister in particular, because she loves me fiercely, texts me stories about “my” crazy parents and returns my texts when I have stories about “hers”, and makes me laugh harder than anyone

scoochy students when they shout out because they are just!so!excited! about what we’re learning and cannot wait another second to share their ideas, when it’s so clear that they want to be good and are trying the best they can but school just is tough for them, when they do work they didn’t even realize they were capable of–but now they do, when they make me laugh out loud so the rest of the class turns to look at us

dinner parties with friends that are old-slipper-like enough that I don’t need to clean the house for them or worry about having everything ready when they arrive because–who am I kidding?–it always takes longer for me to get everything ready than I expect, and who know where we keep the glasses and are comfortable going into the fridge to get their own beverages because somehow I can never remember to offer guests something to drink, but they already know that and it’s okay, because they’re practically home at this point in our friendship, dinner parties with delicious food that I can share with others and know I’ll have leftovers that warm my spirit for days to come and that end with board games and laughter

laughter–my own, over jokes running with friends over the course of an evening or years, flying unexpectedly out of me in response to a student comment, spilling delightedly out of me as I’m reading a book or a slice of life, and the laughter of children–my students’ laughter as they play a classroom game, toddlers giggling, even babies laughing in online videos

black-capped chickadees, perched in a branch singing “sweet-tie” or flitting to the bird feeder to grab a sunflower seed and flit away

baby ducks in their poof of fluff, swimming a little awkwardly behind their parent and making me want to scoop them up to cuddle them close

baby humans, sleeping on my chest, in all their limp heaviness, and also awake and playful, bringing laughter and hope and delight to the world

Resistance is Futile

I did it again.

What was I thinking?

But how could I resist?

We’d already passed by two closed bookstores, and the wind was cold. When we passed a store we’d never been in before that was open, and there seemed to be books inside, well, how could we not peek in and just see what the store was like?

And when we saw shelves and shelves of books, and Randy suggested I look to see if they had the next book in the series we’re reading, well, how could I not look at the titles?

And once I started looking at the titles, how could I not pull out a book I’d seen before and been intrigued by to check its price?

And once I saw that it was only $6, how could I not carry it around under my arm?

Never mind that at home I have stacks of library books, books borrowed from colleagues, shelves full of books I’ve collected because I want to read but somehow never get to.

And once I was getting one book, why not get two?

In fact, after my husband had paid for them for me and was waiting for me outside, how could I not look at the bookshelf right in front of my face to see if they had the new book by that author I like–the one I was sort of thinking I might treat myself to as a birthday gift–and, as long as it was cheaper than it would have been at a new bookstore–how could I not get that one too?

Reader, you understand.

Honestly, wouldn’t you have done the same?

Canning Sunsets

A friend who visits often is here for her spring break, and decides it might be nice to explore the area a little more; we tend to stay close to home, and she’s seen all those sights often.

There’s an art museum not too, too far away, so we make the trek and wander around the exhibits, each at our own pace. I wander over to a collection of jars in rows on a wall, wondering how they are art. Up close, I see they’re filled with colored sand, which still doesn’t impress me, until I read the note on the sign explaining the piece.

The title is “Canning Sunsets,” the sign tells me, and it explores the concept of canning as a way of holding onto what is temporal. I look back at the jars and notice the layers of color. The bottom of each jar has a bumpy layer of black. On top are varying heights of oranges, pinks, purples, yellows, blues: sunsets. Now I see the jars differently, imagining each jar the representation of an evening, imagining that we really could capture memories in jars like this.

Driving home, we catch the sun setting. There’s a thin, dark line of trees and above it, a warm glow of peachy orange, filled with hints of red and pink. Above that, a richer pink blending into lavender, and above that, a pale blue stretches in the sky where the sunset hasn’t yet taken hold. It’s striking. If I could capture it in a canning jar, I would.

I would put it on a shelf where I’d notice it often and I could take it down and hold it in my hand, remembering the evening I saw the sun setting over the river as I drove with my husband and friend.

In time I might add other jars. Some sunsets. Some sunrises, too, with the deep blue of the night fading paler and paler, and streaks of orange stretching over the shadows of black.

There would be jars of early evening, when the rain has stopped and the sun suddenly appears, its rays hitting the world at just the right angle to turn everything golden.

There would be jars of night, when the moon is full and the world is full of black, with deep blues here and there, and a brilliant yellowish-white lighting the path ahead.

There would be summer afternoons, with the hundreds of shades of green I saw when I laid in the grass and looked up into the oak tree spreading its branches above me.

Eventually I’d need shelves stretching around the top of each room to hold all my jars, each one labeled with the date and a note: museum trip with R & E–stopped for BBQ and raced shopping carts in the grocery parking lot; afternoon walk with R.–heard a red-winged blackbird; night walk with B.–walked to the glade and talked about love; driving home from work–stopped the car to admire the light and to wonder at the beauty in the world.

Struggling to Write

Too many ideas in my head.

Not enough time to explore any.

Bed calls. Tomorrow is soon enough.


We’ve been having a dance party all evening. Tomorrow is the day I need to have it playing as teachers start their PD day, and I’m testing it out. Over the weekend Spotify inserted its own music into my playlist and refused to play the rest of my songs, but I caved and signed up for a premium account. I’m excited for how much better things will work now that I’m “paying” (actually, I’m getting 2 months for free, and I’m planning to cancel before the two months are up, but Spotify doesn’t know that).

We’ve danced through “Respect” and “Dancing Queen”. I’m looking forward to Lizzo, but before she comes on, I hear “We Are Family”. I don’t remember adding it to my playlist, but I considered it, so maybe I’m forgetting. Then the Beach Boys come on and I know I didn’t add them. Something is wrong. I try to skip that song and go back to my playlist, but I can’t figure out how. I log out and back in again, Google “how to get Spotify to stop adding songs”, click on things again and again, cross my fingers and say “Pretty please.” Nothing works.

While I’m taking a break from the frustration, I check the texts that came in on my phone a couple hours ago. One confirms that I will be free to visit a friend in June, and I want to send that friend a confetti emoji to let her know. I hit the icon for emojis, scan through a few, and despair of ever finding the right one. There are just so many to sift through! I flip through the categories: faces, nature, flags, …none seem likely to have confetti, and I give up.

Yesterday was my birthday and I turned what is technically 49, but feels a lot more like just-about-50. It’s my practice year to get used to saying I’m 50. Yesterday the person assigned to bring a cake and card for my birthday was absent. I had to tell myself that I am almost 50–clearly an adult–and I can choose to resiliently recognize that the cake will show up eventually.

I pout about Spotify. If they want me to decide to start paying for a subscription after the two free months are up, shouldn’t they make it work better?

I decide maybe I should just take the time to recreate the playlist on Youtube. I know there’s a way to avoid the ads–my district’s tech team created a video on it not too long ago. I manage to find the video and rewatch it, then go to Youtube and can’t figure out how to both edit the URL address to avoid ads and save the videos in a playlist. Another fail.

Should I should eat another piece of cake to drown my despair?–A perk of being an adult? Or move onto writing my slice?–Responsibly acting like an adult? Or just go to sleep?–Recognizing my limitations as an adult?

I imagine if I had a teenager in the house, they would solve my problems for me in a heartbeat. (Perhaps with an eye roll, but tonight that sounds a small price to pay.) I, on the other hand, am clearly not Gen Z, or even a millennial. Instead, I feel officially old.

Hierarchy of tasks

This is the post I wanted to write yesterday, before losing power. I was inspired by Sheri’s fun post, Task and Avoidance. You can see why I didn’t manage to get my post written earlier in the day!


beats looking up comedy clips for a wellness committee activity
beats cooking for the baby shower that may or may not happen tomorrow
beats writing my slice
beats cleaning
beats planning my next reading unit
beats lesson planning for tomorrow
beats doing report cards.

Lesson Learned

procrastination + power outage = should have written my slice earlier!

Pizza Dance Day

I guess my new school district has a history of encouraging wellness activities during break times on PD days. And from what I’ve heard, they used to be really fun options, though not recently, so the wellness committee, which I’ve ended up on, is trying to brainstorm fun activities to get teachers moving.

Someone suggests a dance party, it makes the cut, and now someone needs to compile a playlist. No one else volunteers, and I think dance music sounds fun, so I take on the list.

I spend all weekend brainstorming songs that make me want to move. “Walking on Sunshine” gets added to the list early on, as does “YMCA” and “Celebrate”. Sunday afternoon I think, “How could I have left off any Abba?!” and add “Dancing Queen”. Finally I have what I think is a pretty good list (though lacking enough diversity–I’m going to need to crowdsource more ideas for that–if you have suggestions, please share in the comments), and I’m ready to test it out. I have friends coming over for dinner, and I put the music on soon before they’re about to show up. I’m going to test out the list: will they be able to stand still to the background music?

The kids, who don’t get much screentime, are fascinated with my Spotify list. They stare at the screen, even though it doesn’t look like much is changing to me. Then they start asking questions. “What are the three dots for?” “Do you have any Encanto?” (No, but I meant to. I add it right away.) “What’s this song?” “Why are you playing these?” They go to a different school in my district, so they know Friday is a day off for them while the teachers learn. I explain that I’m hoping to get teachers dancing to the music. They love the idea of teachers dancing all day. “Well, not all day,” I explain. “Just during our breaks.”

Then they ask what the PD stands for on my playlist title: Dance Music for PD Day. I tell them that it stands for “professional development”, which is a fancy term for teachers learning.

They let that stew for a while.

A little while later, one of them says, “You know, instead of Professional Development, teachers should have Pizza Dance Day.”

“You know,” I tell her, “I think you’re right.”