Thursday, December 06, 2007

Happy Saint Nicholas Day!

This is my favorite saint! He threw an apostate (or was it a heretic?) out of a window, he provided aid to young women who couldn't afford dowries, and of course, he was your all around strong but beneficent bishop, stylin' in those robes!
My fascination began at about the age of 8, when reading about him and admiring him and observing 'his day' was outside the bounds of my puritain upbringing. I felt like a subversive, imagining that I was making a connection along the centuries to this noble man I imagined.
more later

Sunday, November 18, 2007

It's ok, it's just life.

This was a happy day. Look at this and be happy. It's not that I'm not happy now, just tired. I need another day before I start tomorrow. Since I don't have that, I'll look at this picture and keep on going. What a guy, that Sawyer!

Monday, November 12, 2007

This is a good day

Usefulness. Peace. Connection. Joy. Breathing in soft air, looking at the firey colors and the quiet wet streets.
I love extra days. more later maybe

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Pajama Day!

I have the luxury of a three-day weekend, and I decided to spend today at home in my pjs! When I had surgery two years ago, Melissa gave me the greatest gift - the most useful, luxurious, practical things. I'm these wearing comfy pink plaid flannel bottoms she got me, a nice old stretchy top and a long, snuggly pink fleece robe, just like hers! It feels so good, and looks so catalogue-perfect pulled together, I want to go to the grocery store and the movies in this getup! A cooler head prevailed, and I napped, played on the computer, read, and watched an amazing film. Into Great Silence is a glimpse of life in the monastery in Chartreuse, France. The monks spend their days in silence, in prayer and solitude. They gather in the sanctuary for sung prayers throught the night and day, have dinner together every Sunday (silent but for one brother reading spiritual material to the group) and go for walks together in the woods and countryside once a week, where they do converse and and enjoy nature and one another's company. (The sequence of watching some of them sliding down part of the mountain above the monastery, laughing in the snow was touching, seeing them fool around like the houseful of college boys next door during half time on a Sunday.) The light is pure and the quiet of ancient stone echoing the birdsong outside is spare and other-worldly. Empty Moorish-looking passageways full of sunlight, individual monks in prayer ritual in their cells, views of the sanctuary from thirty feet above as the monks take their places for prayers, the one monk who cooks and maintains the kitchen gardens going about his celery chopping and spring snow clearing with vigor, care and serenity, the individual pools of golden light that wink on in the sanctuary in the pitch black of three a.m. prayers, and the voices lifting in plainsong chant, all are expected but nonetheless captivating, drawing me into this mixture of ancient and modern ways.
See it!
I can hear the television playing The Wizard of Oz downstairs... what a contrast!

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

One of the many services I offer

Today was picture day.
You remember picture day, the day you were sure was the worst ever because you could be sure you'd never look as cool as (insert name here) did in the yearbook last year, but you were bound and determined to try. You planned your outfit for a week before, and begged, begged your mother not to buy anything bigger than the wallet size to give out to the grandparents. "Oh, God, I don't want to see so much of MY FACE!" You agonized over whether to wash your hair the night before so it wouldn't be so flyaway, but opted to take no chances on bed-head problems, and got up early to do it just right. And of course, there is the mortifying memory of the third grade picture when you let your mother set your hair the night before and you went to school with a cloud of hair-like substance that stood straight out from your scalp. You look perfect in the bathroom mirror, and you try to muscle-memorize how it feels when you're doing your best look.
But the worst, the worst part of picture day is holding as still as possible after the last look in the mirror for all the time you have to walk to the auditorium, and stand in line and get up and down the steps. Hold still. Lick your lips. Stop licking your lips. Is (insert name here) watching me? make him stop watching me! That doesn't feel like the right smile. I look stupid. If that picture guy touches me on the shoulder one more time....
So I tried to have mercy on all the wall leaning and wiggling and hair smoothing and ponytail re-doing and auditorium seat thwanging while everyone went through the torture I remember so well.
Many a nervous face relaxed just a little when I would look over the hair, give it a tweak here or there, and say, "That's it, you look beautiful!"

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Ok, am I disqualified?

I fell asleep, for Pete's sake!

I gues I'm out of the running for the fabulous prizes, but I'm not dropping out!

I had an epic day...

This of course is all in anticipation of my first-ever mammogram. The one I spent two whole therapy sessions even getting close to the idea of doing.

I exploded a whole travel mug of soy milk all over myself and the stove and in between the stove and the cabinet, and all over the floor, with 20 minutes to get to work. Of course, the leather and the wool needed immediate attention, and the stuff was so saturated and sticky that I had to actually SHOWER the stuff off. So I was late to work. Teaching actually went well - I moderated a discussion among hormone-struck twelve-year-olds with grand results. (Hormone fairy came early to this bunch!) I got a huge blop of neon pink marker ink on my sweater second period, and had to immediately take it off and rinse it out. For an hour and a half I wore my leather jacket, and the kids kept saying I looked cool. (mostly I looked like a women's prison guard) I was able to lay the thing on a hot radiator and get it dried out. By that time I had a splitting headache, one that pounded when I blinked my eyes. I'm so amazed that class went as well as it did the whole time I was trying to breathe through my eyelids.
When I left school and stopped by the local Starbucks before picking up a friend to go with me to the Hillman Center for the imaging, I discovered that I didn't have my license in my wallet, and they had told me to bring a photo ID with me. Oh no, now I can't even get this thing done, and I've suffered all day and I'll have to reschedule and go through this anxiety all over again! As my head pounds from leaning over to examine the contents of my purse on the back seat of the car, I'm trying to figure out if I actually did this on purpose, but that would be so bad, because I'm actually making this all worse, and the world is folding in on me like a little origami bug , should I take the next half hour to run home and tear up the house, or go back to work and get my school ID? should I call my friend and tell her to forget it, or do I make her jump in the car and go on the panic ride with me, or should I.... Thank you, Lord, but you stuck your finger through the clouds and touched my forehead and it occurred to me to call the office and see if I could still keep my appointment without the picture ID. Thank you! they said I should come on in! It was then I realized I really did want to get this thing done today - no putting off any more!
Picked up Linda, faithful friend indeed, and from then on in, it was a piece of cake.....


The valet parking was a bonus, but I got a cranky receptionist and then the most bullifying nurse I've ever met. My friend called her a 'cowboy nurse'. She scared the crap out of me with her big strident voice and her pushing (literally pushing!) me around, and her bossing and her refusing to let Linda come in. I couldn't answer her questions, I couldn't give her dates, my brain was frozen, and Linda finally had to tell her to stop, she was making me even more nervous. Lord, have mercy.
The nurse was great at the rest of her job, though, so when I got over the initial browbeating, things went well. The machine is beautiful; it practically talks to you as you stand there, and it wasn't even half as uncomfortable as everyone says it is! The exam was a breeze!

When I got home, I got ready for fifteen people in the living room, we had a lovely time, and I fell immediately into bed.
So that's my version of the dog ate my homework.
= )

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Quat Quandry

For all of you cat lovers out there who have any advice you'd be willing to give, lend me your ears.
My 13 year old lilac point siamese, Noi Singto, aka Lance, has been the prince of this household since he was carried in on the palm of my hand oh so long ago. From day one, he lorded it over my tabby, Chloe, even though she was five years his senior and five times his size. But when Chloe died, and I brought two little brothers in (I couldn't get just one!) those two have picked on Lance with slowly increasing boldness over the last four years. Now, the more aggressive one, Jeng Lei (Rocket!) is really, REALLY mugging my fine boned aging prince. What do I do? There's no way I'm going to give any one of them away, but there has to be something I can do. Help! I love my kitties, but Lance is getting plumb wore out!

Saturday, November 03, 2007

11 pm meeting

Recovery sucks pond scum. But it's better than no recovery.
Which would be better, being totally out of control, letting disease be in charge, or recognizing disease for what it is and getting one's ass kicked on a daily basis, trying to recover?
They're equally painful, it's just that there are these trade-offs.... Being a total asshole strung out on whatever, treating people like kleenex. Looking out at the world from the bottom of a cramped black hole with your fears and anger for company. And your "best friend". So there are these brief moments of bliss. Ya, briefer and briefer, and then all that's left is the memory of initial bliss that disappeared a long time ago, and one's just working toward getting back there for that one or two seconds that just aren't the same anymore.
having a one's eyes opened to the possibility of sanity. Finding out you're actually not alone, there are people who want you to be clean and sane just as much as you want it. Having hope to hang on to. Experiencing for longer and longer moments this peace, this calm that comes from having a clear conscience and a plan. Having some hope for a happy, useful, and bit by bit, healthier life than you ever EVER thought possible. But you have to go through times when you feel like you're scrubbing yourself with a wire brush and gasoline. Or you have to look at how lonely you really, really are. And you have to look at the shit you got coated in all your life. But when you do those things, they're truly being cleaned away. There's all this good stuff that comes after every excoriation, and it's not soft fluffies. It's strong muscle, clean air, clear eyes and cool water. It's strength and flexibility and calm.
You have to do this stuff every day. No, you have to do it ALL THE TIME! It's exhausting, it gets boring, and it's painful, no lie. But the good stuff lasts, and it's better than bliss. It's integrity and honesty and a purpose in life, and it's love. It's finding God. Ow. Ahh. Rrrrr. Hmmmmmm.
And with that, I'll pass.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Miss Ellen has had "A Day"

Yes, this is what I look like after a long week in The Drama that is Life in Middle School. I probably like it because I'm one of the REASONABLE ones there. Only in the middle of The Drama that is Life in Middle School could I be considered sage and calm.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

My first contribution to NaBloPoMo

I don't care how little in size or scope my entries are - I just like the idea of floating something out there in the 'sphere each day!
Today I'm grateful for my computer and my laser printer. How did I teach without them? I LOVE having the whole book on CD - to print worksheets from, or to let the kids listen to the text, give them a little break once in a while! I'm also infinitely grateful for my ActivBoard!!!! Ten years ago, I didn't know what to do with a computer, and now look at me, hooking up USB cables and initializing Bluetooth voting eggs, and generally running the dog and pony show from the biggest interactive computer screen...all in front of the classroom while I'm singing and telling stories and checking grammar warm-ups and characterization notes and managing the Drama of Middle School Life.
That's enough for now. Good night.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Hot classroom, cool art

I really think we should have excessive heat days off, just like snow days. Or how about just going to school for the morning, feeding them lunch, and sending them home? Tell me, seriously, what are children going to learn when the classroom temperature hangs around 90 degrees? We're providing child care, I guess. I just do a lot of distracting, not-too-taxing stuff and take them to the fountain for drink breaks every half hour or so. I taught them how to use the ActivBoard - that's always a gas. It truly is the coolest thing, running a 4' x 5' computer screen with a pen. So technology saved the day more than once this week in Miss Stolpe's room. Really, changing pen colors when you're taking turns labeling parts of speech makes the day fly by!
The skim of salt and sweat on my skin begins at about 9:30 am and reaches maximum density/viscosity by lunchtime, when I have to walk down four flights and back up four flights, take my 15 minutes to eat, make phone calls, peel off and on in the restroom, and then go back down four flights, bring the kids up the four flights, and do the teaching thing all over again. ~sigh~
This heat really has some plusses to it, though. It's great for community building, because it's something we all have to suffer and have a sense of humor about, so I'm not the bad guy, I can sympathize and make up silly solutions along with the kids, and then we get back to work. I would also rather have the kids in school at the end of August, overheated and excited to be back, rather than later in June, overheated and dying for vacation.
Tomorrow is a new beginning, and should be much more comfortable.
A friend and I went to see the Chihuly exhibit at Phipps on Friday. It's fantastic! Layers and layers of light, little peeks through the jungle and new aspects of the installations at every turn.
The artists and the installers are clearly in love with reds, all the hot/warm colors. They were lit in such a way that the depth of each piece was easy to see. Someone dropped the ball on displaying the blues, however. The lighting of the blue and lavender reeds was ghastly, and quite frustrating when the viewer can't even see the whole piece, let alone perceive the tableaux. It's like they ran out of lights by the time they got to the blue pieces, and ran out of energy and brain power.
"We have only two lights for this display?"
"Yeah, we used the other eighteen for the other room."
"OK, put one at the base here, and one to shine on the plant. That's good enough."
One blue display was adequate. Only. If the others hadn't been so spectacular, it might not have been such a contrast, such a let-down. Quel drag.
BUT... it wasn't enough to drag the whole experience down, no sir. There was too much good stuff to be grumbly for very long. Many of the installations where pieces interact with water have the water itself backlit filled with light just as the glass is. But one display in particular keeps the large water space totally dark, allowing the reflection of the pieces in the onyx ripples to be an integral part of the experience.
I also like the way the conservatory MARKETS this show, too. You can have a party here among wild and wonderful world of Chihuly! Who wouldn't want her wedding portraits taken in front of the fifteen foot phallic symbol rising up and blessing your future life together with potency and bounty!

Seriously, though, it's such a great idea to have a party in such an environment. Gives your event elan and all you had to do was book the room! The show is up until the end of November, and worth more than one look, in daylight and at night. Just wear your good walking shoes and scope out the bathrooms. When it's crowded, the tour takes an hour and a half.
I also liked that there were smaller Chihuly pieces, displayed spectacularly, available for sale. For those with 5 or 6 Gs floating around, but still, the idea of accessibility appealed to me.
I like the guy. I like how he has pushed glass blowing out into the hot spotlight. I really like the team aspect that he's developed to create individual pieces, multiple parts of larger pieces, even putting together installations in different teams. He must be an amazing teacher. Reminds me of the ideas that Tiffany encouraged in his studios a hundred years ago, lots of people working together, letting the creative energy flow. I wonder how you manage all the egos there when you need a strong vision to get anything done. He's good at it, that's for sure.
I also like how he has developed installations that demand that we look at how the outdoors interacts with the piece - making us look at what the piece has to say, but also paying attention to how we interact with the environment. Like Tiffany's work, Chihuly's glass and the natural world have amazing relationships. The living organisms Tiffany created out of glass were sensuous, evoking reality and opening the viewer up to fantastical life. Chihuly's glass takes what I've seen in Tiffany's and invites me to suspend my need for realism and draws me into the depths of new worlds the glass makes. By putting the organisms out into the water and the trees, Chihuly makes this Earth a new, alien world to explore.