Friday, April 24, 2020

Those Unexpected Kodak Moments…courtesy of COVID-19.

While quarantined and sheltering in place,

April writes poetry, celebrating just being.
Mary Ann likes and links, connecting online.                           
Bobbi celebrates our communities of writers.
I collect Unexpected Kodak Moments.

FYI:  in case you weren’t around in the 80’s, I’m referring to any happenings worthy of being memorialized with a photograph, originally captured using George Eastman’s Kodak camera.

COVID-19 has dramatically darkened our world as we once knew it.
The challenges for many of us are indeed overwhelming, and on a whole host of levels.
Even a “Non-stop finder of Life’s Silver Linings” such as I,
a Cubs Fan,
indeed, someone who responds, “Hopeful and grateful!” when asked how she is,
must admit: our world is askew.
This sadly unchanging view from my window says it all: the American flag atop Northwestern’s Feinberg School of Medicine, lowered to half-mast, honoring the now more-than-1400 Illinois citizens felled by the Coronavirus.

Tears? Yes.
Fears? Absolutely.

But just as Mr. Rogers advised us to look for the Helpers, I remind myself to look for those Unexpected Kodak Moments.
I know first-hand: a well-planned Plotline can suddenly twist where we’d expected it to turn, forcing us to travel unknown paths set against unimagined backgrounds, with who-knows-what-and-who waiting around the bend.
But I also know, after considerable schooling in the above: while traveling those new obstacle-strewn roads Life’s redirected Plotlines offered us, every now and then, surprise, surprise! We come upon a happening that not only brings us a dollop of Joy. It demands a revisiting so we can see how we got through.

Here are but a few of the Unexpected Kodak Moments I’ve gratefully captured these past five weeks while doing my best to shelter in place. Hopefully one or two will bring you a smile and get you on your way to finding yours.

With apologies to Mr. Eastman, this is my Logitech C270 HD Webcam Moment… ….because of course on Tuesday, March 31, in the middle of ZOOMING everyone in my personal and professional worlds, my Lenova’s camera died.  Who knew laptop cameras were more precious than toilet paper? BUT I FOUND ONE – in Hong Kong - after 2 ½ hours online! And for an additional fee, and an elevated price, Tak Yuet International delivered it to me as promised in 9 days! And even better, even though I’m a Luddite, I attached it to my laptop and it worked!*
(My screensaver’s crocus blooming amidst snow and ice is there to remind me of Albert Camus’ brilliant line: “In the depth of winter, I finally learned that within me there lay an invincible summer.” Fingers crossed.)

The above video, though 19 minutes in length, still qualifies as a Kodak Moment, and an Unexpected one at that. Its availability brought hundreds of guests to SCBWI-Illinois’ first-ever April 15 Virtual Book Launch Party celebrating debut author Amy Alznauer and her eloquently-written picture book THE BOY WHO DREAMED OF INFINITY: A TALE OF THE GENIUS RAMANUJAN, gorgeously illustrated by Daniel Miyares and published by Candlewick. Amy’s originally-planned Book Launch was to be tomorrow Saturday at Anderson’s in Naperville, Illinois.
That “asterisk” beside the mention of my new spiffy camera above? Well, and of course, my logitech270’s Mic didn’t work once we began taping so I was forced to ZOOM in via my iPhone, thus explaining my non-static intro and wind-up, for which I apologize. However, I’m certain my love for Amy came through loud and clear. In 2015 my chapter gifted me with the opportunity to mentor “a picture book writer ready to cross the publishing threshold” via the Laura Crawford Memorial Mentorship. Both the winner Amy and her manuscript’s subject Ramanujan immediately claimed my heart.
Be sure to read my May 15 TeachingAuthors interview with Amy. We’ll be raffling a copy of THE BOY WHO DREAMED OF INFINITY.)

Thank goodness I didn’t discard my Illinois K-8 Teacher Certificate because I’m teaching once again, this time at VOVO SCHOOL!
(“Vovo,” by the way, is what my Brazilian-born 10-year-old grandson Gabe calls me.)
Gabe lives and breathes reptiles, spends hours “herping” (looking for reptiles beneath rocks, inside trees, affixed to the walls of his Sonoran Desert home) and dreams of being a herpetologist one day. Naturally, All-Things-Reptile lie at the heart of our daily lessons.
Science. Geography. Math. Writing concrete poems in the shape of lizards. Learning reptilian idioms. Taking virtual tours of Reptile Houses in zoos around the world. There are online reptile stores to explore - and - Reptile Shows to virtually attend.
All sorts of learning opportunities continue to snake through my mind, keeping Gabe learning ‘til his school district reopens in August, and best of all, the two of us connecting in fun ways.
I highly recommend educator Emily’s Snake Discovery channel.

Multiple Kodak Moments continue to fill my days as long-heard-from students, writers and fellow children’s book creators both near and far away email to query, “Are you doin’ okay?” 
No matter the possible link to warnings to remember “the elderly in hi-rises in densely-populated urban areas.” 😊
To be so thoughtfully remembered at such a time as this does wonders for the soul.
The Good News these folks share becomes my Good News.
For instance, here’s the cover of Claudia Friddell’s long-awaited picture book biography of Joseph Pulitzer, SAVING LADY LIBERTY: JOSEPH PULITZER’S FIGHT FOR THE STATUE OF LIBERTY, beautifully illustrated by Stacy Innerst and published this March by Calkins Creek.
You might remember Claudia and her first picture book GOLIATH from my January, 2010 Student Success Story.

I was so missing my Nia classes and 3-miles-per-day walks, so discovering Jenny Ford’s YouTube Marching Workout was a Kodak Moment for me.

Fortunately, my daily Marching Workouts more than readied me to walk 7 city blocks to and from my local Whole Foods for the 7 am Senior Shopping Time to discover this week’s Unexpected – and delicious - Kodak Moment. Not one but TWO pints on an otherwise empty freezer shelf.

Each day I receive a Gratitude quote. This Monday I read Jon Kabat-Zinn’s words.
         “The little things? The little moments? They aren’t little.”

I agree. An unexpected dollop of Joy can go a very long way, especially when sheltering in place during a quarantine.

May you need a stack of photo albums to store your Unexpected Kodak Moments these coming months and after!

Esther Hershenhorn
Thanks to Christie Wyman at WonderingsandWanderings for hosting this week’s Poetry Friday.


Carmela Martino said...

Esther, thanks so much for sharing your uplifting Kodak moments with us! 💕

Carmela Martino said...

Forgot to say--I especially love the image of the crocus in the snow and the quote that goes with it!

Hardarshan Valia said...

Thanks a lot Esther for providing "Kodak Moments Masks" of varied hues, wearing them we can run our imaginations wild when walking through local parks and grocery stores. Looking forward to read Amy Alznauer's "The Boy who Dreamed of Infinity: A Tale of the Genius Ramanujan." Thank you for introducing Gabe to us! May be one day while looking for reptiles beneath rocks, he is surprised by a fossil of a smiley-faced dinosaur!

Esther Hershenhorn said...

Thanks, Marti and Hardarshan, and all those who wrote me privately, to let me know of YOUR Unexpected Kodak Moments...and/or...their possibility.

Helen Zax shared both Highlights and Cricket published her poems. Alas this software won't allow me to cut-and-paste.
YAY, Helen, twice!

Here's something nice - and even unexpected - from PW:

“Print unit sales in the juvenile nonfiction and fiction segments are up for March 1–April 4 over the comparable period in 2019, with juvenile nonfiction having done particularly well. “The Covid period is all about juvenile books,” McLean noted. Some trends in those segments in late 2019 have been accelerated by the pandemic, and she pointed to one area that has seen big gains since children were forced to stay home: school readiness. Between March 1 and April 4, unit sales in the activities segment (which includes coloring and sticker books) rose 32%; the study aids segment (early learner and middle school math and science titles) rose 83%; and sales of language arts books for young readers (ages four to eight) jumped 98%.” _ Today’s PW

Beth Grossman said...

Esther, I really enjoyed your post about Kodak moments, especially Amy Alznauer's book "The Boy who Dreamed of Infinity: A Tale of the Genius Ramanujan" illustrated by Daniel Miyares. It sounds like a beautiful book. I also enjoyed your discussion of your grandson and his love of all things reptile. Thank you for sharing with us!

Beth Grossman

April Halprin Wayland said...

Wow, Esther! That info about kids book sales as a result of Covid-19 is absolutely a Kodak moment (or more)! And I love the way you introduced your post: "COVID-19 has dramatically darkened our world"... and then led us into the light (that brand happens to be my favorite ice cream, too!) And how lucky your grandson is to have virtually and eventually huggable you. Just the post I needed to read this morning to get me going 🤸🌞🤸