Tuesday, March 31, 2009

My Secret Garden of Yarn

Purples, blues, and pinks,
Waiting to be wound into balls,
Waiting to be knit together
As a gift
And a prayer.

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Monday, March 30, 2009

Self-Portrait Series

These photos emerged from just a few minutes of sunlight and shadows. I looked outside in the late afternoon and saw leaves on the crepe myrtles glowing in the sunlight. Then, I turned to find that the Jasmine surrounding the live oak was on fire. My shadow loomed large across the Jasmine-- almost as large as the trunk of the live oak. As I turned to look at the bark of the live oak in the sunlight, I saw silhouettes of something I love to do-- photography. I played with the shadows, and I snapped away.

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Walk Around the Yard : 4

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Friday, March 27, 2009

Walk Around the Yard : 1

A break from the storms. . . but I can hear thunder even now.

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Thursday, March 26, 2009


I'll admit it--my blogging boundaries are confused. These photos should technically go on my Art Smart Parent blog because they were taken yesterday while I was doing "art smart parent" kinds of things all day. But, posting these photos on this "personal" blog is the perfect example of how documenting and reflecting upon the work of students spills over into other areas of my life.

In the last few months, I have discovered that I love photographing "education"-- especially good, exciting, innovative, and relevant education. With practice, I think I'm getting better at it, too. When I take photos, document, think about, and bear witness to what is good in education, it helps me hope for the future. It helps me see that change is happening every day-- even when it seems to move at a snail's pace and is surrounded by frustrating challenges. It helps me envision a day when the relentless, bubble tests of today will be replaced with creative assessments that take into account all kinds of learning, problem solving, and multiple intelligences. It helps share crucial stories-- through images and words-- about education with others.

Documentation is really just a fancy word for "recording a story." The story might be highly technical as in a computer manual or library catalog record. The story might be without words but rich with images as in a portfolio for an artist or a brochure for an exhibit. The story might be records for a state agency or it might be a wall of artwork and writing on display from a third grade class. The story might be a stunning picture book of poetry or an historical novel about slavery during the Revolutionary War. Whatever form it takes, documentation can be a tool for discovering our history, recording the present, and looking towards the future. At least, this is what it is for me, and it is integral to my joyful work as a parent, a teacher/learner, and a citizen who cares deeply about the education of all children.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Looking Back and Forward

Nellie, this cat above, sleeps a lot in her old age. In general, cats sleep a lot. Nellie sleeps even more-- lately on the red wicker chair in the bay window of the kitchen. While the weather was beautiful and springy, she was found outside in the sun a little more. When I was reading outside on the deck yesterday afternoon, Nellie caught a lizard, killed it, and ate it. I saw part and heard the rest. Even though I have rescued my share of birds and other small animals/reptiles/insects from the grips of many cats in my day, this time, something in me said, "good for her."

We are in the midst of making sure everything is ready for school and work tomorrow-- lunches or lunch money, back packs, lesson plans, and after-school plans. The tax documents are in an envelope ready for mailing. The laundry is folded and put away (until the next time). School uniforms are laid out--and shoes and socks. My husband read "Harry Potter" to the children early in the afternoon because he already had work commitments to take him away from the usual bedtime reading. Things are getting back to normal.

It is hard to not want to stay in spring break mode because it was such a good week of rest and renewal. While everything on my list did not get checked off, several things did. I feel good about what we did and did not do over the past week. Homework in the afternoons was exchanged for playing and late bike rides (a certain 6-year-old learned to ride his bike during the week)! I had started sleeping past 5:30 am. Our time was easier and more spontaneous.

Everyone seemed a little moody today knowing that the future brings more busyness, stress, and homework. But, we still have Easter break ahead even though the week before Easter will be one of the busiest of the year. . . and then summer swimming soon enough after that. And, I have more photos to take, more reflections to make, more blogs to write, more lessons to plan, more yarn to knit, more cloth to sew, more books to read, more walks to take, and more bread to bake. Life goes on. The Japaneses maple returns to glory.

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Saturday, March 21, 2009

Spring in the Forest

Some of the wood may have been petrified, but we were enlivened by sunshine and tree bark and wild flowers and moss and gigantic stones as we walked through the woods on the first day of spring.

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Thursday, March 19, 2009

A Little

A little gardening, a little yard work, a little playing, a little artwork, a little sewing, and a little time to notice small things-- a perfect day.

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Monday, March 16, 2009

Wild Things

While taking my dog for a walk in my neighborhood today, I saw the mysterious one-legged turkey that folks on the neighborhood e-mail list have been mentioning. Bailey and I rounded the corner, and there it was-- blue face and neck-- brown and grey feathers-- probably about 30 pounds-- just 5 feet away from us. The turkey did not seem to mind us. Bailey, however, was very curious. He had never seen a wild turkey before. He didn't try to charge it as he would have done if it had been a squirrel or a rabbit. He raised his ears, though, and kept looking back even as we moved on down the road. He let out a little "whimper" of a hello.

In the late afternoon, I took the children to the Mississippi Museum of Natural Science. We walked the trails after visiting the exhibits, and we saw that the Pearl River is flooding the trail that leads to Mayes Lake. The children had been "wild things" all day as I had tried to work on organizing and cleaning-up the office. At the museum, they were curious and noticed things that I would not have seen like the new addition of brittle fish to one of the tanks. Normally, one child doesn't like part of a hike. Today, both enjoyed the entire journey, and I even caught them being kind to one another a few times.

Life is full of surprises-- one-legged turkeys, flooded trails, and siblings who still love each other after all. And, did I mention that I love walking in the woods? If my children had not desperately needed to get out of the house, I probably wouldn't have been hiking through the woods on this cool, spring day after several days of rain.

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Sunday, March 15, 2009

Domestic Diva

You see, it doesn't take me long to appreciate the finer aspects of domesticity. Only two days of spring break, and I gathered all relevant tax documents into one, neat little basket with a follow-up sticky note for tomorrow. I finished knitting my shawl (doesn't it look like a colorful Manta Ray?) and can weave in the ends, block, and wear. I was at the sewing machine putting on the waist to a skirt I started over a month ago-- hemming tonight during Masterpiece Theatre. And for dinner, I made homemade buttermilk pancakes for the children and a hearty vegetable stew for me (B is gone for the night).

I love making progress. . .
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Saturday, March 14, 2009

Every Minute Counts

photos of clocks made by first graders at Casey Elementary

At the beginning of this spring break, here are a few thoughts and wishes regarding time, and how I want to spend it:
  • I wish I had enough time to spend more time observing in schools because when I make time, I am transformed. This week will be a small break from this-- oh-- except going up to help re-plant the garden in the courtyard-- oh-- and except spending some time making progress on plans for a family arts festival--oh-- and except any blog posts that may result from any of the above activities.
  • I've been spending a lot of time on knitting websites, blogs, and on Ravelry looking at various shawls and wraps because I want to knit something like this for someone special. So far, I haven't found the perfect pattern, so I will probably need to design my own. Sometimes searching the web for ideas can feel like a waste of time or a goose chase, but I remind myself that I'm doing research, getting inspiration, and developing my own ideas.
  • Because I've been spending time on knitting sites, I also have several other projects in mind. Oh, no. There is not enough time for them all!
  • I still have my sewing machine and quilting supplies out on the dining room table. They have been there since the new year began. I walk by them, clean up the stuff around them, and wonder when I will get back to sewing and quilting. Soon. This week? I hope sew. Especially since I bought two inspiring and beautiful books (this and this) with inspiring and beautiful projects that even I can attempt.
  • I have a reading list. I'm finishing up one book on my own, reading another with my daughter, and waiting for Chains by Laurie Halse Anderson to arrive.
  • I also have that other list-- the dreaded list-- of things I need to do that always fall by the wayside during normal times. I need to gather the tax documents to send to the accountant, clean out a few cabinets and drawers, try to get my office under control, etc. And, there is also the yard-- the leaves, the pruning, the gutters.
So, every minute counts. I wish I didn't have the last list-- the dreaded list. I wish I could knit, read, sew, and play with the children all day. But, spring break gives me freedom and choices to make, and I like that. I hope I can keep it all in balance.

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Thursday, March 12, 2009

A Room of One's Own

Sometimes, I like to read groups of books by one author-- one after another. There was my Jane Austen period, my Faulkner period, my E. B. White period, my George Elliot period. . . In college, my German professor taught a magical class just on Thomas Mann. This instructor was also a magical person who taught freedom and responsibility through every German conjugation and pronunciation. Through my teaching, I constantly strive to be like him--teaching freedom and responsibility.

After college, I had a Virginia Wolf period. I read Mrs. Dalloway in one sitting-- absolutely couldn't put it down because the day in the story could not be carried over into another day of "real" life.

I thought of Virginia Wolf when I was reflecting on this photograph. Periodically, I walk over these bricks with the single purpose of removing bits of green just like this, but I took this photo because I thought this little bit of green was beautiful.

So, a few Virginia Wolf quotes. . . to create your own room of the mind. . .

"I thought how unpleasant it is to be locked out; and I thought how it is worse, perhaps, to be locked in. "

"Language is wine upon the lips."

"A good essay must have this permanent quality about it; it must draw its curtain round us, but it must be a curtain that shuts us in not out."

"A woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction."

"Arrange whatever pieces come your way."

This little bit of green found its own room and arranged itself just fine.

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