Tuesday, April 27, 2021

Spring song

Tuesdays at Two Writing Teachers!

chirp chirp chirp                                    who's hiding here?

thweeeeet thweeeeeet                           a flash of red & yellow on midnight black:

                    redwing blackbird on a soft cattail!      


chirp chirp chirp                                     a favorite feeder friend,           

chickadee dee dee                                  cute little cap, named for his song,

                    little voices shout: black-capped chickadee!

coo coo                                                    who could it be?

coo ah coo, coo coo                                 mourning dove's sweet song

coo ah coo, coo coo                                 gentle and low

chatter chatter tweet                                not all songs are easy                             

twitter twitter cheep                                but the chorus is so joyful...

buzzzzzzz flutter zip!                            Dragonflies! Bumblebee!              

                            Don't forget the bugs!

It feels like summer today! We enjoyed a bike ride and lots of time in the backyard, surrounded with plenty of sweet songs in both places!

Tuesday, April 20, 2021

Majestic parenting

Tuesdays at Two Writing Teachers!

a dark blob

stunningly huge against the thin branches

constructed carefully,

even lovingly?

a dark shape on top

perching, nodding, surveying its territory,

leaning towards

a much smaller lump

a great wing flaps

then unfolds, reaches, stretches majestically

hooked beak forward,

sharp talons hanging,


"Look, look! It's flying!"

outstretched wings

seem to scrape the cerulean sky, but

the regal silhouette 

leaves no mark

with eyes and mouths open wide

we gaze upwards in awe

watchful mom or dad:

soaring circles never stray too far,

then glide gracefully

to a nearby branch

giving a little space

but staying just close enough:

that's love

I grew up seeing bald eagles at our local zoo and learning how endangered they were. I never dreamed that I'd be able to take my daughters to see real wild bald eagles at their nest at all, let alone that the nest would be right across the street from their school! (The nest is the huge blob in the tree above my older daughter, and one of the parent eagles is the smaller blob in the tree above my younger daughter.)

One eagle has always been sitting in the nest (with at least one baby) whenever we've visited, but yesterday it was a treat when the parent suddenly took off and delighted us by circling right above us for several minutes before landing in a nearby tree! We also got to see both parents as they switched shifts, with one flying away to hunt while the other one stayed near the nest!

Friday, April 16, 2021

para Adam y todos los demás


I blog in Spanish on Fridays. If you don't read Spanish, feel free to copy this post's url into Google Translate and experience the magical imperfection of machine translation!

13 años. 7o grado. 

Aficionado de las películas de Disney / Pixar. 

Manos vacías, escuchando, obedeciendo.

Adam Toledo.

Muerto. Matado. Fusilado. Asesinado. 

13 años. Menor que mis estudiantes.











y más...




llenos del orgullo, el poder, y la sabiduría

de civilizaciones magníficas:

los maya, náhuatl, taíno,

mandinka, kongo,

asirios, kurdos, beréberes...

mis estudiantes



llenos de esperanza y sueños,

tristeza, desafíos, desesperación.

valientes, fuertes,


jactándose, pavoneándose, bromeando,

o encerrándose 

para proteger 

sus corazones,

sus emociones, esperanzas, y sueños. 

mis estudiantes


A veces, arrogantes.

A veces, derrotados. 

A veces, animados, alegres, 


A veces, enojados, frustrados, 


A veces, toman decisiones sin pensar.

Se meten en líos. Se equivocan. Se distraen.

No consideran las consecuencias. No prestan atención. 

Pero también tienen ideas que cambiarán el mundo.

Aprenden, crecen, superan obstáculos.

mis estudiantes


¿Y qué van a hacer

si algún día, 

(si ya se fusilaron a un niño escuchando,

si ya se asesinaron a un muchacho obedeciendo,)

qué van a hacer

mis estudiantes multilingües

si un policía que no entienden

les pide hacer algo que no entienden

en un idioma que no entienden, 

o que les es difícil entender 

en un instante de terror?

¿Qué pueden hacer

si el policía sólo ve 

su piel?

¿Qué pueden hacer

si el policía 

no tarda 

apenas un segundo

en disparar?

¿Qué pasarán a sus sueños,

sus esperanzas, sus futuros,

si son asesinados 

en menos tiempo que tardan en traducir 

un pensamiento?

Tuesday, April 13, 2021

Too beautiful

Tuesdays at TWT!
What do I write? The sun is pouring across our yard, birds are twittering and chirping their greetings as they flit around our deck, and my heart is full of sweet moments with the girls. It's beautiful here. I could write a hundred beautiful, sweet slices. 

But that's just it. This life is too beautiful to not be bothered that once again, someone who should be in this world is now not. Someone who should've woken up today to hear the birds and see the sunshine (or whatever the weather is doing in Minnesota) did not. Someone whose two-year-old should've covered him in cuddles today, just like my Rainbow did for me. Daunte Wright. How do you tell a two-year-old that their daddy isn't ever coming home again?!

It's too beautiful here to not remember that mere days before that, Lt. Caron Nazario almost wasn't here either. In what kind of country should an active duty Army lieutenant be afraid to get pulled over? (Obviously, in the kind of country where an officer tells him he should be afraid.)

It's too beautiful here to not feel my stomach twisting with the recognition that they, like so many others, were just doing an activity so commonplace that it became one of our favorite, lighthearted ways to get out of the house during the long months of pandemic winter. That we are excited to hop in the car for joyful drives where we take the long way home. We're not scared, even if we happen to see a police car on the way. We just keep singing and driving. 

Which is why the beauty of today just makes my head and heart hurt more. I don't want to live in a world where I can leave my house without fear (I mean, other than the deadly pandemic and the general experience of being female...) while others can't. I don't want to live in a world where when my girls get older, my lists of worries for them will be much smaller than the lists of other mothers whose children simply have more melanin than we do.

Those of us who are privileged enough to not be directly, disproportionately affected by injustice can't just keep living like nothing happened, over and over again. Nor can we pause briefly to read some books and articles, feel better about ourselves because we're "learning", and then keep living, teaching, and parenting the same ways we always have. Learning is good and important, and we should all keep it up. (I'm certainly a different person and teacher than back when I was shocked when one of the first ELs I ever worked closely with told me there are lots of racists in my hometown.) But we can't stop there. 

Because what can I write today that I haven't written before? And then again? And all the times, too many to name, that I didn't write anything? And all the countless times before, for hundreds of years?

It's too beautiful here to ignore another trial, filled with the usual spin, underway about another Black life cut too short, unable to enjoy this beauty. George Floyd. Why is his daughter, just a year older than my Sweetie, spending these beautiful days missing her daddy instead of playing with him?

It's too beautiful here to forget that, for all the attempts at victim blaming, white mass murderers are lead calmly out of their crime scenes and white insurrectionists get to go home after documenting themselves attacking the United States Capitol.

It's too beautiful to also not recognize all the recent brutal attacks and harassment against Asians, who now have to wonder if they'll be assaulted or blamed for the virus if they step outside to enjoy a day like today.

It's much too beautiful here to not recall that these are not isolated incidents, small blemishes that we can just brush past in a return to some idyllic "normal". No, they are merely the latest drips in a long, deep storm of terror and injustice sprung from the very formation of our country.

"America, the beautiful," we sing. And it is. But also, it is not. 

And until we confront the truth that in many ways, America is deeply, menacingly ugly, it cannot be as beautiful as we want it to be. 

NPR, A Decade of Watching Black People Die, May 2020

Tuesday, April 6, 2021

A slice of summer, in early April

Tuesdays at Two Writing Teachers!

Golden rays pour onto sun-starved skin

that soaks them up like flowers opening for the first time.

"Your headie's hot!" shrieks the big sister,

gentle hand patting the shining streaks of brown and almost-gold

of her little one's hair as they catch their breath,

still beside each other for just a moment

before running, flailing, spinning, laughing,

up and down the hill 



Instinctively, my hand shoots up to my own head,

my own streaks of gold and brown,

and yes, the sun is here, close enough

not just warm but hot!

Neighboring houses are tiny mirrors of themselves

set in matching white and pink sunglasses

above wide smiles, teeth too big for little mouths.

A cheerful bird serenade 

as we eat ice-cream truck treats on the deck:

they can feel it too. 

Swimsuits! Sandals! Back outside!

"WATER TABLE!" the youngest squeals, "with UNICORNS!"

I can't believe she even remembers it.

Splash! Splat! 

Giggles, smiles, giggles.

And I know it's just teasing;

I know it won't last

for now;

I know there's more waiting to come...

But I also know 

summer is coming,

summer will come, 

and it's not as far away 

as it has been.

Friday, April 2, 2021


Celebrating languages on Fridays!
I write in Spanish on Fridays. If you don't read Spanish, feel free to experience the magic (and imperfection) of machine translation by pasting this post's url into Google Translate! And if you can write in a language other than English, join me next Friday!

Hemos cocinado torrijas por la primera vez. 

No me había enterado nunca de las torrijas hasta la Semana Santa que vivía en España, hace dieciséis años ahora. Un día me desperté para descubrir que mi "mamá española", Carmen, había cocinado un desayuno especial. Parecía semejante al French Toast, pero con un sabor distinto. - ¡Son torrijas! - me dijo ella. - Es un desayuno típico de la Semana Santa. ¡Y estarán más ricos mañana! -

Me las encantaban. ¿Cómo podría esta gente comer un desayuno tan delicioso sólo una vez al año?

Resolví intentar cocinarlas cada Semana Santa. Pero la verdad es que no me gusta cocinar, y menos si es algo que no he intentado antes. Y cuando por fin encontré una receta, me intimidaron los muchos pasos. 

Hasta el marzo de 2020, con el mundo en pedazos, cuando no pareció divertido cocinar unas recetas nuevas durante las semanas (¡jajaja!) en casa. Se me ocurrió otra vez el idea de cocinar las torrijas, y casi lo hicimos, pero el tiempo transcurrió en una neblina de trabajo y paternidad, y se me olvidó pedir los ingredientes necesarios antes de la Semana Santa. 

Entonces, cuando las semanas encerradas en casa se convirtieron en meses, y en un año, y nos encontramos otra vez en casa este marzo siguiente, decidí que éste, seguramente, era el año de hacer torrijas. Y este año, logré recordar pedir los ingredientes necesarios, y encontré una receta en inglés para que mi esposo la pudiera leer. Los muchísimos pasos de la receta casi me dieron un ataqué de pánico todavía, pero, por suerte, a mi esposo le encanta cocinar y probar recetas nuevas. Él se encargó de leer la receta temible y seguir sus pasos, y pronto, la cocina se llenó con el olor de aceite. 

mi esposo haciendo las torrijas bajo la mirada vigiladora de Sweetie

-¡Huele a España!- le dije. Carmen cocinaba tantas cosas con aceite que casi todos los días, su olor difundía por todo el piso pequeño. En el almacén, ¡había un pasillo entero de botellas de aceite de oliva! 

Guardamos las torrijas en la nevera por la noche, recordando las palabras de Carmen. Y hoy por la mañana, desayunamos con el sabor de la Semana Santa en España. 


-¡Es mi desayuno favorito!- declaró Sweetie. 

-¡Estarán más sabrosas mañana!- guiñé, pensando en Carmen. Y casi podía ver la cocinita de su piso, tan pequeñita comparada con la nuestra, el sol madrileño brillando entre las cortinas verdes, la vista desde la ventana donde yo buscaba cada mañana el autobús que llegaba antes del mío, y las sonrisas grandes y orgullosas de Carmen y Gerardo cuando nos enseñaron algo nuevo a mi compañera de cuarto y yo.