Thursday, March 30, 2023

9 Moments to Remember and 1 Moment to Forget (SOLSC 30/31)


Here is a highlight reel of moments from Italy.  Nine moments I want to cement into my brain.  One moment I want to erase from happening.

  1. Playing Uno on a patio with our Italian tour guide as the sun slowly drops over the Mediterranean in the distance.
  2. Walking out onto a pitch black pier over the Adriatic and watching as a group of teenage boys plunged into the chilly spring waters.
  3. Taking a bite of seafood risotto under the fairy lights of a restaurant tucked away in Venice.
  4. Tilting my head up to look at ceiling after ceiling with paintings of heaven and briefly remembering what it was like to be in awe of the divine.
  5. Sitting outside, sipping wine, and watching a horse drawn carriage move towards a grand basilica.
  6. Watching so many people try different ways to support the Pisa tower as it leans precariously—never to fall.
  7. Strutting down an alley straight out of a post card and feeling like a model as I get my picture taken.
  8. Discovering that there is, in fact, gelato on every corner in many parts of Italy and going for the shorter line.
  9. Feeling the chronological dissonance of ancient buildings right next to technology and realizing anything built after the 1600s is “new.”
  10. Remembering lines of Shakespeare’s tragedies (of all things) as I wipe the blood from my mother’s hands.  I wish I could wipe the accident that brought forth the blood just as easily.

Better Late (SOLSC 29/31)


I was doing so well, but now both Day 29 and Day 28 have slipped through the cracks.  I suppose that is what happens when you travel backwards in time — days go missing.  It’s like luggage at the airport.

Day 28 is gone because there was never time at the airport.  We dashed from one terminal to the next — constantly getting there just as they were boarding.

Day 29 is gone because I didn’t make time for slicing.  I rested and recovered from travel and time changes.

I am posting it late, but I am still posting!

Monday, March 27, 2023

Never Go to Naples (SOLSC 27/31)


A poem for my final day in Italy that might go down as one of THE worst days ever.  I don’t have time or the emotional capacity for details so don’t ask right now.

Graffiti all around
and no gelato to be found.
Suddenly my mother hits the ground, 
blood on the pavement abounds!
Swelling up, knot like a small mound.
The ambulance is inbound, 
Italian and English, mixing sounds,
This is a nightmare most profound.
I am now grateful we are tomorrow home bound.

Sunday, March 26, 2023

A Religious View (SOLSC 26/31)


I am not religious, but I can appreciate religious art.

We stand together beneath a ceiling, bodies pressed together.  All our eyes are wide — trying to take in as much as possible.  No cameras, no video, just you staring up at a ceiling meant to represent our very creation.  The tilt of our heads is probably a slight revenge from Michelangelo who had to paint this ceiling in the most agonizing positions. 

A voice bellows from above.  It is not God, but it booms all the same: Silence.  Respect the silence.

The voices drop once more, but never for long.  Voices whispering in a hundred languages.  I look up in awe and feel myself tear up.

I am not religious, but I can appreciate religious art, especially when it comes to the Sistine chapel.

Saturday, March 25, 2023

When in Rome (SOLSC 25/31)


As much as I love postcards, they really don’t do anything the justice of what it looks like in person.  I think that has been most true in Rome.

Everything is so much bigger and brighter in person; everything is SO much more crowded.

I have to squeeze through and it is so easy to lose sight of people.  Luckily, despite my own “short” comings we do have some tall people in our group.

The worst spot yesterday was the Trevi Fountain.  I knew we needed to toss some coins in per the myth, but I almost didn’t because of the small mob of people surrounding it.

But my mom plunged in and I knew to follow.  Before I knew it we were directly in front of Neptune and I was digging some coins out of my purse.

One to return.  Two to find love.  I noticed no one threw in the third for marriage.

After we emerged from the crowd, I muttered: “If I return to Rome, it will be through the airport on my way back to Venice!”

Friday, March 24, 2023

Photo Op (SOLSC 24/31)


We are constantly stopping for pictures, on the hunt for that next great shot.  I think my favorites are the ones along stairs and in alleys that we come across — they look straight out of a professional shoot.

Yesterday, was one such stop.  We were making our way slowly towards the St. Francis basilica at the top of a hill.  The slow pace was a combination of pictures, shopping and of course gelato.

Groups merged and parted as they passed and eventually my walk with my mom grew into a sizable group of others from our traveling party.  When we stopped for one to take a picture, I suggested that we add a new person into the picture with each taking.  And with each new picture we tried a new pose — these little moments are what make trips like this so fun.

Thursday, March 23, 2023

Good Food Day (SOLSC 23/31)


I had the best meal of my life yesterday.  

We were wandering down one of the many small side streets of Venice.  Our group had a destination in mind: Librairie Acqua Alta, a book store famous for being below the water line, a set of stairs made of books, and a gondola inside the store also filled with books.  However we were also hungry and on the look out for somewhere to eat on our way.

We turned a corner and as if by magic there was a man dressed in a pressed white shirt and slacks holding a menu.  He stood in front of a passageway lit by fairy lights that led to a court way with set tables.

This was Ristorante da Toto.

We were quickly seated and looking at the menu I knew immediately I wanted sea food while in Venice.  My mom and I each ordered a different dish: risotto and linguine each with a variation of sea food.  Of course, being in Venice, we also got a bottle of wine to share (a local variety of Pinot Grigio).

The risotto was creamy and had large pieces of prawn in the dish — including a large prawn positioned on top as if guarding the plate.

The linguine had strings of zucchini mixed with the pasta, a sprig of mint, and of course the sea food.  All of it coated in a light oily sauce that dripped from each noodle.

Each bite had the perfect balance of pasta and fresh sea food. And while I was worried I would not be able to eat the whole plate at first, it quickly became clear that I would devour every bite.  Mom and I passed the plates back and forth, though I eventually ended up with the risotto more as it was my favorite.

I was completely stuffed by the time we left.

Tuesday, March 21, 2023

It’s the Climb (SOLSC 22/31)


I sent a message to my CrossFit coach from the top of the Verona arena:

“Box step ups coming in clutch yo.”

I climbed each one of them.  It was made my easier by my work with CrossFit for two years.  My efforts were rewarded at the top by a beautiful view of the Verona streets below and a grand view of this ancient structure. It was not graceful like the stairs I had climbed just an hour earlier in the Palazzo della Ragione, but I was certainly much more proud of myself.  

 I snapped a photo and sent it to my coach.  She replied shortly before I began my descent:

Left: beauty stairs, Right: beast stairs


Power (SOLSC 21/31)

“Do you know what I love about these artists?”

My voice is a whisper.  We are standing in a cathedral that is considered new by Italian standards, but to me feels ancient.  A reminder of grander times where power wasn’t in how big you could build towards the heavens, but in how much you could paint in rich colors in textures on ceilings to  depict the heavens.

“What’s that,” my fellow tourist whispers back.

“Notice how the lines of the art and even the half column draw your attention up and up and up.  It’s making you look to heaven.  The artists of that time knew what they were doing.  The church wanted you to draw your eyes towards heaven and so everything in this painting and placement of sculptures forces your gaze upwards.”

They nod and both of our eyes once again scan upwards.


Sunday, March 19, 2023

Several Hours Later: A Travel Log from LR to Rome (SOLSC 20/31)

I thought this was the perfect format to track my trip from LR to Rome on March 18 & 19.  I think most of my slices for this trip will be “delayed” between time differences and just finding time to write!

The “And before that” format/ story structure I originally saw on Fran’s blog.

The plane descends from the clouds and it dawns on me that I am touching down in a part of the world with such ancient history that it borders on the mythical. Even though there is a strong smell of cigarettes as I step outside, I am grateful to be off of planes for a week.

And before that I am weaving through an airport line to go through security (again).  I have not slept much or at least to call it sleep would be generous.  I am nervous because I don’t technically have an official boarding pass.  Travel with a big group is stressful!

And before that I happen to pull up the map and see we are flying over St. John’s and I think about how I am still so close to Karen and yet so far.  I go to sleep, dreaming of the places I am going and have yet to seen.

And several hours before that I am writing this from the seat of a plane that will take me to Paris!  We made our connection!  I will not be staying in Paris, but it’s neat that I get to pass through.  I am seated alone — without my group.  We are scattered about the plane, but I have a pretty good seat above the wing and only have to share with one person instead of center aisle.

And before that I am breathing through my nausea as the plane takes off from Atlanta.  I don’t know what changed in the past few years that flying causes me to feel ill.  Luckily, I am able to sit next to my mom and we play a quick game as we pass the quick time in the air.  We’ll have to take off running to make our connection.

And before that I am standing at the kiosk.  I am trying not to panic as I stare at a ticket to only Atlanta.  A mistake?  They assure me it is not.  I will just lean in and trust the process.

And before that I am sliding out of the car and gathering my luggage.  “Check your purse,” mom says.  A helpful reminder because sure enough I spy my passport holder on the seat!  I grab it and off we go.

A Packing Party (SOLSC 19/31)


If you read this, know that I am currently in Italy.

However, because I am not sure when I will be sitting down to write, I decided to type this early and write about the packing I am currently doing with my mom.

Did I mention I am taking this trip with my mom?

We have traveled together before and I am excited to have this experience with her again.  We have already had some laughs as we packed together the night before.  Mostly she was teasing me for all the stuff I packed: mainly my extra underwear and swimsuit.  I told her the swimsuit was in case of hot tubs, but she wasn’t impressed.

She still let me pack it, though she made me leave the underwear.  My friend suggested I buy some Italian underwear with Roman columns though — so we’ll see!

Saturday, March 18, 2023

At My Mother's Feet (SOLSC 18/31)

My childhood was spent at my mother's feet, fidgeting as she put another braid in my hair.  

I never had the patience for hair like she did.  Whenever she visited the salon it always felt like it took hours to be done.  I can still remember kicking my feet against the hair dryer chairs (they looked like the kind of Sci-Fi contraption that would suck out your brain) waiting for my mother to have her regular color, cut, and style.  

Even now, she expects me to one day grow my hair out like her and give it the attention she does.  I don't have the heart to tell her that will never happen.

This is another post I wrote for a past Teach Write challenge that I felt was very fitting for SOLSC. 

Friday, March 17, 2023

Best in Color (SOLSC 17/31)


Did you get your invitation?  I got mine (Thanks Leigh Anne)!  It came just in time because I am leaving tomorrow for Italy and I was afraid I wouldn't make it.  Thankfully, I'm able to squeeze a pop (of color) in here and I'm not sure I could have planned it better since today is also St. Patrick's day and all things green!

Here are MY best colors:

The best green can be seen on the Starbucks logo, my morning drink of choice since it's practically in my backyard.

The best blue is found on the cover of my 5 Sentence a Day journal; the pages edged in gold and filled with years of memories.

The best purple is in the ink of my favorite pen -- which will probably run out sooner rather than later.

The best red is on the Solo cup I drink from at any major family gathering; just make sure you write your name with a sharpie so no one else takes your drink!

The best orange is a small, clay Seed of Happiness sitting on my desk.  It smiles at me with its lumpy grin, reminding me of a friend no longer here. 

The best yellow is in the flame that burns on the wick of a candle I am burning to relax and destress after a long day.

The best white is in the cream sandwiched between two chocolate cookies: otherwise known as an Oreo.

The best pink lines the skies in the morning and evening as the sun rises and sets in her vibrant colors.

The best brown is the chocolate glaze on a donut, waiting for me in the teacher's lounge or delivered by a friend.

The best black is the fur on my dog's ears: bat-like and alert as I go to leave the room.

The best colors are in the Pride Flag -- listed above and representing a community forged in love and representing me.

Thursday, March 16, 2023

Across Five Marches (SOLSC 16/31)

I wasn't sure what to write about, and for inspiration I went to my photos on my phone.  It turned into an exercise in scrolling to previous years, specifically March.  Here is a collection of observations from the past five years.

March 2018 

Here we have a trip to the zoo and a local garden.  More specifically, it was one of my first outings with my first niece.  Ivey was a few months old in the pictures.  I am smiling so broadly, happy to have a little partner in adventure. 

March 2019 

A long standing tradition for me in March is to travel and go out into nature.  And no location is more visited than Hot Springs.  I was drawn to the picture of me and my friends enjoying ice cream and also margaritas.  Good food is also a must this time of year!

March 2020

And then there was the year I couldn't go anywhere, but could still enjoy the simple things.  I baked bread and decorated my car for a teacher parade through our local neighborhoods.  

March 2021

While I wasn't quite ready to travel the following year, I did get out again.  This was a time to be outdoors and embracing the beautiful weather this time of year has to offer.  I even found the slice I wrote from the pictures I took.

March 2022

Last year I finally got to travel again.  Not only did I see Ivey and her family (now including a second niece for me to love and adventure with), but we went on a family cruise together! The pictures remind me of my love of travel and all the places I have been and and have yet to go.

I can't wait to share the rest of March 2023 with you all.

Wednesday, March 15, 2023

Trivia Night (SOLSC 15/31)

I wanted to try something different.  Since this slice is about trivia, I have written it in the form of trivia questions.  Enjoy!

Q: How many years has the Vilonia AGATE program hosted a trivia night?

A: Three

Q: What was the name of last year's winning trivia team?

A: The Winners.

Q: Name the 8 members of that team.

A: Erica (me), Terina, Marion, Jessica, John, Tracy, Nathan, Brian

Q: Who answered most of the questions?

A: John

Q: How many rounds did they play?

A: 7 rounds

Q: What was the only question they got wrong?

A: The question about Robert DeNiro's baseball drama Bang The Drum Slowly.

Q: Which question did Erica provide the correct answer for that no one else did?

A: Ben Franklin as the first post master.

Q: Which round did Erica perform the best in?

A: The 4th round, naming secondary Disney characters based on silhouette. 

Q: How many points did The Winners wager for the final round?

A: 12 

Q: Name the three teams that tied in the final round.

A: The Winners, Take 3, and The Saltillo Stallions

Q: How many tie breaker questions did they end up having?

A: A ridiculous amount (at least four)

Q: What did The Winners place this year?

A: Third

Tuesday, March 14, 2023

Pick Up Sticks (SOLSC 14/31)

I am seeing more and more evidence of the beginnings of spring.  The itty bitty buds on the tree -- leaves just barely peeking out at the morning sun.  It's new life on a tree that was otherwise completely bare.  It still LOOKS bare until you get up close.  

Below, there is a smattering of sticks scattered around the base of the same tree.  It's old life shed from encounters with all of the wind and rain we have experienced in the past few weeks.  

I can't help but smile and remember a time when I myself was just beginning and the sticks I used to see everywhere in my pawpaw's yard.  The tiny buds remind me of my own tiny hands, clasped around the cool metal handle of a bright red wagon.  

In the summer, my pawpaw would set us out to pick up objects in his backyard -- I assume now that it might have been to help him have an easier time mowing.  I was accompanied by my sister as we dragged that wagon among the many trees of my pawpaw's backyard.  Every few feet we would stop and begin the process of picking up the trees' discarded items: sticks, pine cones, and green apples.  

Each would be tossed into the wagon and we would move on.  When we were done, my pawpaw always awarded us with some of his pocket change for our efforts.

Now, as I navigate the sidewalk with my dog, I have to resist the urge to stop and pick up some of the sticks.

Today's writing was inspired by one of the March Daily Writing Prompt from Teach Write.

Monday, March 13, 2023

Restarting the Day (SOLSC 13/31)

I was all ready to go until I wasn't.

My agenda slides were displayed, my music was playing, and I was about to get my coffee when I noticed a pop up on my computer. I leaned in, reading the notification that informed me that I was going to need to restart my computer for updates or it would restart on its own at 8:05 A.M. 

I knew I had to make a decision.  Students would be arriving at any moment.  I could restart it now or risk being in the middle of something and having it cut out on me at the most inconvenient time.  I sighed and opted for restarting it then.  I just had to pray that the installation wouldn't take too long and I could always have students quietly reading in the mean time.

I would not let the computer dictate how I started my day.

Although even as I watched my screen go dark I couldn't help but wonder: who scheduled a school computer to install updates five minutes after class starts?  Clearly someone not of sound mind or at least someone who was never a teacher themselves.


Sunday, March 12, 2023

Fortunately, Unfortunately (SOLSC 12/31)

The weekend seems like a good time to test out some of the styles that other blogs have used.  Yesterday, I used the "Currently" format.  Today, I was inspired to try out the fortunately/unfortunately format I first saw on Joyous Thought's blog.

Fortunately, the flowers and trees are starting to flourish.  Unfortunately, my allergies have responded in kind.  Fortunately, I started taking my allergy medicine early this year and that has helped a lot!

Fortunately, the days are getting warmer and brighter.  Unfortunately, I have to sacrifice an hour of my sleep to enjoy the daylight. Fortunately, I have coffee. 

Fortunately, this also means I have one week until Spring Break starts.  Unfortunately, I have A LOT I need to get done before I can enjoy it. Because fortunately, I am finally living one of my dreams and going to Italy for Spring Break (and a few days after)!  

Unfortunately, those few days after mean I have to have sub plans ready long before they are due.

Fortunately, those sub plans don't have to be complicated; it is the time of year where my senior English students are nearly done and AP exam season is just around the corner.  Unfortunately, AP exam season is just around the corner.

Fortunately, I am of the belief that everything will work out as it should!

Saturday, March 11, 2023

Currently (SOLSC 11/31)

I've seen many people do this type of slice, so I thought I would give it a try. Currently I am...

watching an anime called High Card.  It tells the story of a fantasy world set in a more modern time where people have found cards that grant magical abilities.  Each card in the deck has a unique ability or power and some of them are quite bizarre.  It's been entertaining though and I have found all of the characters to be engaging.  There doesn't seem to be much to it yet, but it strikes me as the kind of show that will only improve as it continues and the characters' backstories start to come to light and cause conflict around them.

reading two very different books at the moment.  I'm always juggling multiple books.  

First, there is Amanda Gorman's Call Us What We Carry, a book of poetry I am reading in preparation for a poetry month book club event (link).  I have not made much progress with it because the poetry is heavier than I anticipated.  Not in a bad way, just I want to soak in the words and each poem takes some time to unpack and appreciate.  I have very much enjoyed it though and if you are interested you should totally join us for book club!

In addition, I am also reading The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet by Becky Chambers.  I am not very far into it, so all I have is that it is set in a very sci-fi environment and takes place on a space ship with a motley crew.  I'm excited to read more as I just finished Becky Chambers' novellas that were also sci-fi and they were fun reads!

listening to older episodes of the podcast Critical Role.  I am caught up on the latest in Campaign Three and so decided I could spend some time listening to some of the Exandria Unlimited content.  I would love to make time for Campaign Two again -- especially since I will have a long flight soon to dedicate some time.  I just finished listening to The Magnus Archives and would love to find more podcasts like that!  I love podcasts that tell stories more so than anything.

hoping to get my grading caught up and sub plans ready.  Spring Break is in one week and I will be venturing to Italy with a group from the school.  We will actually be gone for a few days after school returns and I want to make sure I am prepared.  That's actually my plan for this weekend, but most of the time it's difficult enough planning a week at a time.

waiting for the aforementioned trip -- I can't believe it's so soon!

Friday, March 10, 2023

It's A Small World (SOLSC 10/31)

I was reminded today that not every person is a Disney fan.

Sometimes at our gym we do a partner workout.  This is where instead of going at the workout by ourselves, we split the work with a partner.  This also means that when we have our times or number of reps on the board we are also usually given a team name.

Today, our coach suggested Disney as a theme for team names.  I added that we should specifically do Disney songs.  She agreed, but then I was shocked to hear many of my fellow CrossFit friends not able to come up with a name.  

"I can't think of any Disney songs!"

What do you mean you can't think of any?  I thought before proceeding to name at least two other teams with songs like "Beauty and the Beast" (the partners were a guy and a girl) and "Be A Man" (a team consisting of two guys and a girl).

What was my team's name?  "Poor Unfortunate Souls."