Night

For a school assignment about imagery…

 

Night

The supper dishes have been washed

Can you hear the moon singing?

She is louder than the insects tonight

She tells me there is a snake in the tomato patch

Inside is quiet

Giving over to rest

Stars begin their chatter

Night begins

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Anne of Green Gables

Coco and I recently finished reading Anne of Green Gables as well as watching the Netflix series “Anne with an E.”  We are both officially hooked.  The setting, Prince Edward Island, inspires this narrative piece that Coco wrote for her English class.  (School continues to be AWESOME, by the way.). This piece is fiction (thank goodness – the mother is recently deceased!) which has always seemed very challenging for her. We have never been to Prince Edward Island, so Coco relied on her understanding from the book as well as some YouTube tourism videos.  I hope we can visit there someday!  I’m no longer putting Coco’s words into all caps because for school assignments she must punctuate.  We do this by placing small post-it’s, as needed, on the letter board.  

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In Anne’s Shadow

       Covering the field like a green blanket, the clover burst out as a harbinger of summer.  Every inch was misted with sparkling ethereal dew drops. High summer was weeks away. The air was pregnant with promise.  The mayflowers danced like the souls of flowers that died in the fall.

       I booked my trip before knowing what summer was like here.  All that drove my impulsive choice only came down to wanderlust and an obsession with Anne of Green Gables.  I couldn’t imagine not being happy on Prince Edward Island.  In the spirit of my fictional guide I went.

        No place I’ve been to inspires poetry in the same way.  It gives my needy soul nourishment to follow in the footsteps of my heroine.  Light from the sun reflects off the dew before me and turns on my senses like a light switch.  I am learning not only the undulating rhythm of the waves but also the ebb and flow of the herds that dot the hills and fields of this island.  I’m alive here.

       Six months ago I lost the only mother I ever knew.  Having started life as an orphan I found myself in that unenviable position once more.  Having always taken comfort and consolation from the great literary orphans, Harry, Oliver, Dorothy; my elusive happiness could only be found in the land where the greatest orphan found hers, Prince Edward Island.  My heartbeat raced faster than my rental car as I sped along the eight mile bridge that connects the island to the mainland. I hoped my impulsive journey left my heart healed.

       The first stop in my great journey was the hotel to check in.  I had booked a little cottage villa overlooking the bay. Having settled in I headed out to see the home of Anne’s creator, Lucy Maud Montgomery.  It was a Monday so the place was quiet. I was greeted by an elderly park ranger whose name tag said “Shirley.” I had to ask,

“Is that for Anne Shirley?”

       “My mother was a fan,” she replied, “aren’t we all?”

       It was in that moment that I realized I’m not so special.

       Being a fan who identifies with a character doesn’t give my life more meaning.  But it does illustrate the power of great literature. In all the great characters we find ourselves.  For me it’s how I make sense of the events of my life. All of the things that have happened to me have happened to others.  I can process the events of my life through the authors’ words. Montgomery’s words only resonate louder in my heart.

       This place is everything I dreamed it would be.  But I realized standing there with Shirley before the real Green Gables.  Anyplace I go, I will find myself there.  It’s cliche perhaps, but it took me driving to Canada to understand this.

       I enjoyed a wonderful week on Prince Edward Island. I swam in the frigid North Atlantic.  I ate salmon and lots of ice cream. I bought souvenirs. But mostly I thought of my mothers, the one I just lost and the one I never knew.  This is not their place but it is the place where I said thank you and goodbye to them. Then I headed back over that bridge to the mainland.

       

 

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Dare to Dream

High school is awesome!  We have not posted in a while.  Coco has been getting settled in and adjusted to her new school. We can now officially say that it’s one of the best things that has ever happened to her.  Coco races smiling on to the bus every morning.  Coco is spelling and learning and being treated like a 14 year old.  She has the most supportive team we could ever wish for.  They see her for who she is.

Coco wrote this short piece as a response to a list of questions about reaching for your dreams.  This assignment was part of the preparations for the class reading of  The Alchemist.

Dare to Dream

 

DREAMING IS WHAT HAS SUSTAINED ME MY WHOLE LIFE.  MY BIGGEST DREAM HAS ALWAYS BEEN TO COMMUNICATE. WHAT DO YOU DO WHEN YOUR WILDEST DREAMS COME TRUE?  YOU DREAM EVEN BIGGER. MY BIGGEST DREAM NOW IS TO BECOME EDUCATED. THIS DREAM DOES TAKE A LOT OF COURAGE FOR A PERSON LIKE ME BECAUSE MANY ADULTS I MEET DO NOT FIND ME COMPETENT.  THESE ADULTS ARE THE OBSTACLE TO MY SUCCESS. EVERY DAY I WORK HARD AT THIS. MY FAMILY IS KEY TO MY ACHIEVING THIS GOAL. THEY MAKE IT ALL POSSIBLE. I FEAR FAILURE A THOUSAND TIMES A DAY.  THAT’S ANXIETY THAT PLAGUES ME. NOT ONLY DO MY PARENTS SUPPORT ME BUT THEY DEVOTE THEIR LIVES TO MY DREAM TOO.

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Coco did this at home and her mother writes in caps.

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My Voice

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MY VOICE

LISTEN CLOSE
AND YOU WILL HEAR ME SPEAKING
MY HANDS ARE MY VOICE
MY POINTER MY TONGUE
THE VIBRATIONS OF SOUND
REVERBERATING FROM
MY MOTHERS MOUTH
A SURROGATE FOR MY OWN
IMPOTENT VOCAL CHORDS
NO LESS MY VOICE
HEAR ME PLEASE
HEAR CRYING AND LAUGHING AND
SYMPATHY AND CURIOSITY
SADNESS AND JOY
ANGER AND FEAR AND LONGING
AMAZEMENT AND RECOGNITION
AND LOVE AND BOREDOM
SECRETS AND GOSSIP TOO
HEAR EACH WHISPER
HEAR ME SCREAM
AND KNOW THAT I AM LISTENING TO YOU

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Autism Sucks

AUTISM SUCKS

YES IT DOES

KEEPS ME OUT OF MAINSTREAM LIFE.

I MET SOMEONE TODAY WHO SEES BEYOND MY AUTISM .  SHE WANTED TO KNOW ME.

THATS HARD

EVEN AT MY BEST IM SUPER DISABLED.  YOU DONT HAVE  TO SPEND  MUCH TIME WITH ME TO KNOW I AM DISABLED.

SOME PEOPLE LOVE ME ANYWAYS.  I KNOW ITS NOT EASY.

CANT EVEN IMAGINE WHY THEY DONT BEAT IT FOR THE HILLS

BUT THANK GOD THEY DONT

CAUSE I LOVE MY LIFE AND I LOVE LEARNING.

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The Light

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It has been a happy few weeks for Coco.  Any autism mom knows not to take those moments for granted.  And I know that the wind can change at any moment.   But Coco is happy so Momma is happy.  I chose a picture of Coco with her sister Lilly for this post because I’ve been especially grateful lately to Lilly for her loyalty to Coco.  Lilly has her own pre-teen trials and tribulations to contend with yet she always thinks of her sister.  Coco always has Lilly looking out for her.

Another hero for Coco is her RPM practitioner, Jane.  Jane is young and adorable and dresses cool.  She schleps out here from Brooklyn twice a month.  It’s the only time that Coco gets to communicate with someone other than me.  Let that sink in.  This thirteen year old girl can communicate with her mother only – no one else – except for two half hours a month.  And her mother is sitting outside the room eavesdropping.  I can’t imagine the frustration.

Today the first thing she said to Jane was I HAVE SEEN THE LIGHT.  Of course, Jane was intrigued and probed further and Coco continued.  IM NOT MAD ANY MORE AT AUTISM.  GOT TO TAME THE BEAST THRU MY WRITING.   She told Jane she wanted to write a poem. I am sharing it here with Coco’s permission.

THE TIME TO GRIEVE IS OVER

IM NOT GOING TO CHOOSE SADNESS

AS A FRIEND OR COMFORT

I NEED OTHERS TO REMIND ME

OF THIS WHEN IM TEMPTED TO

RETURN TO ITS CALL

NO SEA ONLY GROANS

IT SHINES IN SUNSHINE HOW

FLOWERS NOT ONLY DECAY THEY

BLOOM ONLY TIME

ALLOWS THE MEMORY TO

DISSOLVE HOURS PASS

KEEPING MY TIRED WATCH TICKING

HOURS INTO DAYS

LIFE IN A MOMENT OF SOLITUDE

GET ME TO

THE BEAUTY I NEED

TO GO ON.

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Misunderstood Creatures

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Coco and I are reading another book by one of her favorite authors, naturalist Sy Montgomery.  As she posted a few months ago, it was Montgomery’s Soul of an Octopus that inspired in us both not only an obsession with Octopuses, but also many thoughtful discussions about how we can never know the inner workings of other creatures.  Coco is having a similar experience as she reads Montgomery’s The Tarantula Scientist.  She had this to say yesterday:

TALK ABOUT BEING MISUNDERSTOOD!  THE TARANTULA IS ONE OF THE MOST MALIGNED CREATURES ON EARTH.  A BIG PART OF LEARNING ABOUT OTHER SPECIES THAN HUMANS IS THAT IT MAKES THEM LESS SCARY.

Following this comment, Coco and I were reading some animal poetry and I asked her if she’d like to write an animal poem.  She responded yes.  I assumed she would choose tarantula as her subject, but she spelled SNAKE, another unfairly “maligned creature,” I suppose.

SNAKE

HE SLITHERS ALONG

WITH A SONG IN HIS HEART

BUT NO VOICE TO RELEASE IT

OR WAY TO IMPART

THE FEELINGS HE SHARES

WITH THE BIRDS AND THE BEARS

YOU MIGHT NEVER KNOW

JUST HOW MUCH HE CARES

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Challenges

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Coco had a language arts assignment tonight to describe a challenge she has had in her life and what she might have learned from it or how it changed her.  The directions are to write non-stop for ten minutes.  We went a little over ten minutes here, but I felt she wanted to complete her thought. This is not a new subject for her to write about, but every time she describes her experience I am reminded of what it must feel like to walk in her shoes every day and I am also reminded of her resilience and (mostly) positive attitude.  

MY CHALLENGES IN LIFE ARE RATHER OBVIOUS.  TELLING MY STORY WOULD TAKE WAY MORE THAN TEN MINUTES.  MY BRAIN IS FULLY INTACT.  I CANNOT CONTROL MY MUSCLES.  DOUBTING ME IS A COMMON RESPONSE AT SCHOOL.  I CAN TELL PEOPLE DONT BELIEVE I HAVE THE BRAIN OF A THIRTEEN YEAR OLD BASED ON THE DUMB TASKS I AM ASKED TO DO ALL DAY.  HERE IS WHERE I AM TRAPPED.  EVEN THOUGH THE TASKS ARE DUMB I DONT ALWAYS TOUCH THE RIGHT ANSWER.  I CANNOT COMMUNICATE MY ABILITIES BECAUSE I DONT HAVE A PERSON WHO KNOWS HOW TO HELP ME ON MY BOARD.  THIS IS EXTREMELY FRUSTRATING BUT I HAVE LEARNED SO MUCH FROM IT.  FIRST IS PATIENCE.  DOING SPECIAL ED WORK MAKES ME APPRECIATE MY RPM LESSONS SO MUCH.  I HAVE LEARNED TO APPRECIATE MY SISTER WHO HAS NEVER LET ME ONE DAY EVER BE ALONE IN THE CAFETERIA.  I HAVE LEARNED THE VALUE OF PRAYER.  I PRAY THROUGHOUT THE DAY WHEN I AM REALLY DOWN.  LOVE IS THE MOST IMPORTANT THING.  THE PEOPLE WHO LOVE AND SUPPORT ME KEEP ME SANE.  ONE MORE THING AND THAT IS THE GIFT OF MY IMAGINATION WHERE I CAN ESCAPE.

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Capturing Summer

This is the first poem that Coco has been inspired to write for a few weeks.  We are having a beautiful, lazy, beach-filled summer.  This poem expresses Coco’s love for summer but specifically, it was her response to reading an old favorite, Frederick, by Leo Leonni, about a mouse with the soul of a poet, who stores up colors and feelings and words for the long winter.  I think that is what Coco was trying to do here.

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CAPTURING SUMMER

 

DURING THE SUMMER

I COLLECT EFFERVESCENCE

AND SEAMLESS SUNRAYS

I AM FILLING THE LARDER OF MY HEART

WITH LAUGHTER

AND BAREFOOT STROLLS

CRAVINGS FOR LEMON ICE

MIGHT GET VANQUISHED

BY A MEMORY

OF THAT EXQUISITE GULP

CAN I TAKE THIS ALL WITH ME

INTO MY DARK SIGHTED WINTER

NIGHT BRINGS DREAMS

OF LIGHT HEARTED REMEMBERING

A SUNBURNED SHOULDER

SAND IN MY SHEETS

SALT IN MY HAIR

DANCING IN THE KITCHEN

READING ON THE PORCH

COUNTING ROBIN EGGS

BELIEVING IN THE BEAUTY OF A SEASON

THAT RETURNS TO ME

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The Order of the Phoenix

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ANOTHER MASTERPIECE FROM JK ROWLING.  HARRY IS A REMINDER AND A SYMBOL TO US OF WHAT A HERO IS.  CAN BE KIND OF A HARD HEAD BUT ALWAYS ACTING WITH THE BEST OF INTENTIONS, HARRY FIGHTS THE GOOD FIGHT.  SEEING THE FILM AFTER READING THE BOOK MADE IT EVEN MORE ENGAGING TO ME.  YES I HAVE A STRONG LEANING BIAS TOWARDS MAGICAL ORPHANS, BUT CAN YOU BLAME ME?  WE ALL LOVE THE UNDERDOG.  NOT EVERYONE IS AS LUCKY AS MYSELF TO HAVE GONE ON THE HOGWARTS EXPRESS [referring to her trip to Universal Studios] YET ALL OF US CAN TAKE THAT ENCHANTED JOURNEY IN OUR IMAGINATION SIMPLY BY OPENING ONE OF ROWLINGS MAGICAL BOOKS.  HAPPINESS AWAITS THE READER WHO EMBARKS ON THIS TRIP.

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