Monday, February 29, 2016

Teaching News 4: Moments

Happy Leap Year!

Today I wanted to share an important tip I learned as a teacher:

You can’t teach unless you deal with the behavior.

That’s the one tip I take to heart because nothing is going to cement in student’s brains if they aren’t concentrating on the lesson in the first place.

That’s also why the first week of school is so important. The teacher has to take the time to introduce the classroom routines, procedures, expectations, etc., and rehearse them with the students. Once everyone is on board, the lessons will run smoother.

However, there are days in which teachers have to repeat these scenarios to remind the class of the consequences of their behavior.

On the spot acknowledgement of acceptable behaviors are paramount for a well-run classroom. Keeping in mind that learning is key when lessons include active participation so students can focus on different tasks without having to wait for XX to stop climbing the tables... 

Monday, February 22, 2016

Death as Metaphor 21: The Acceptance of an Unfair Death

Death is a window into the deepest thoughts and emotions we have. Similar to Deep Image/ Confessional poets who write mostly free verse poetry that is personal and autobiographical.

These images that death allows a writer to explore can be used to represent life events or dreams.
Much of my poetry is influenced by recurrent dreams of death. How I use death in my poetry reveals something about me as a person and about life in general. In a way, I seem to question death but accept it at the same time, and it’s all dependent on the experiences or perceptions I have.

At times, the thoughts and feelings guide my writing. At other times, what I observe or contemplate guide my writing without the need to focus on any rhyme, scheme, or syntax. Poets are always trying to make sense of the world in their writing and at times, it is the writing that leads the communication. Whether they accept death or not as a state or as a new beginning.

My recent poem, “My Second Half,” published by Spectrum: LoveLoveLove, Issue 3 (, is an example of writing of a death which affected me at all emotional levels. 

Monday, February 15, 2016

Happy President’s Day! Enjoy a relaxing day and feel free to browse through previous posts. 
Click on the year, then, the month, and you will see the titles for the various posts.

Monday, February 8, 2016

Pet News 19: Tips for Treating your Pet

Here comes that time of year where fleas and other critters spring up and bother our pets.

As I research and try some ideas of how best to combat them, I’ve found a couple that do work. I’ll share them here. You can try them, but like humans, not every pet will respond the same Here are a couple of things to try. Always consult with a veterinarian.


For fleas, I found this recipe of natural repellants on Natural Dog Care by Christopher Day (2010): cedar wood, eucalyptus, garlic, lemongrass, lemon, neem

- dilute oils in water (2or 3 drops per cup of water) and then comb through the dog’s coat 

  • aromatherapy oils strategically placed in areas where a flea might choose to breed ex. carpet edges, skirting boards, floorboard cracks, and down the sides of chairs will help tame the tiny beasts 

For flies, I’ve tried eucalyptus leaves brewed like tea.

- boil the leaves in water, once cooled, pour into a spray bottle, then, soak a cloth and rub/massage your pet’s ears.

- this can also be used on the whole dog’s body to detract insects


For cuts and scrapes, use aloe vera.

-cut the plant leaf from the plant; split open the leaf rind with a knife and use the juice (clear fleshy part) and let sit on skin for an hour.

Note: if your dog is like mine, you can tie it in place or just massage on like cream


Monday, February 1, 2016

Short Stories & Such 22: Career Day

The Writer’s Digest Prompt for ‘Career Day’ was written back in August 21, 2012. I decided to make some changes and keep the perspective on the father and what he’s going through as a parent. I hope you enjoy this first post of the month! If you’re interested in reading the comments, you can check out the website



Okay. I can do this. Take a deep breath and walk inside your son’s classroom for Career Day.

There’s the doorknob.

Why can’t I just turn the darn thing?  

Okay, okay. Take another deep breath. You can do this public speaking thing.

Ignore the sweat already making its way down your back. I hate how it trickles into my…. shake it off. Shake it off.


“Good morning.”

“Uh, good morning.”

“I’m the principal, Mrs. Malarkey. Did you get lost looking for the room? Our school’s designed in a strange way.”

“No, no. I’m getting my bearings before I go inside.”

“Oh, I see.” She smiled. “You’re here to talk at your child’s school for Career Day.”

“Yes, I’m trying to… remember my lines.”

“I see.” She smiled again. Dimples and crooked teeth. “Who’s your son?”

“Matthew. Matthew Starke.”

“Oh, yes. He told us yesterday you were coming. I’m glad you did. Well, don’t take too long. Students tend to get excited on these days.” She turned the doorknob and walked into the office. She held the door ajar, and said, “Good luck.”


I agreed to talk to the class because Matthew was set on having all his friends meet the person who helped design the new super-duper roller coaster ride at PhunLand. The only thing is, I lost my job. Yesterday. And… I haven’t told him yet.


After signing in and sticking the visitor pass on my vest, I head down the corridor.

I’ve walked these halls before. Come on. Come on. 

There’s the room.

My eyes close and my Adam’s apple gets stuck in my throat.

Here goes…



“Hi, Matt.”

He waved from his seat. The biggest grin on his face.

“Good morning, Mr. Starke,” the teacher greeted me, then, turned her attention to the students. “Class, this is Matthew’s father, Mr. Starke.”


They all bellowed.

My palms stuck to my pants pockets as the teacher guided me to the front of the classroom.

I watched my son’s eyes sparkle from across the room and gulping, I began…

“You know kids the most important job is being a parent. A job is second to that role in life. Sometimes, you give everything you’ve got into a career and then, poof!” I snapped my fingers. “It’s gone. Just like that. Then, you have to look for another job… hopefully in the same profession…”

“Mr. Starke… um…” the teacher cleared her throat. “Maybe we can have the students ask some questions?”

“Oh, sure.”


The questions poured in and I spit out the answers like a slot machine or was it more like a punching bag?

But, there sat Matthew, upright. Everyone smiling and enjoying my drawing of the latest roller coaster project I am working on. I couldn’t spoil it for him. Being a parent teaches you that. I’ll have to wait a few days for his glory to wear down to tell him the truth.




P.S. Just wanted to let all of you who have been following my poetry exploits that I was not chosen as the winner to the Jupiter Artland Writing Contest, but being a runner up was a feat itself. Thank you for reading!