Cleveland OH

01/04/2017

The thing about being a teacher-librarian is that your students are always in your thoughts. Regardless of where you are. Regardless of the calendar. Whether it reads “closed for Spring vacation” or not, there they are. Front and slightly off-center.

A brief drive to Cleveland and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame to “get away” proves no exception to my pronouncement. At the sight of artists’ hastily scribbled lyrics, notes, and even report cards, the only two words that popped into my head – visually I will add – are “primary documents.” Of course, the next hyperlinking thought went directly to my students – those lovable Bulldogs at St. Albans SchoolN.Young2.primary.jpg in Washington, D.C.

This is for you, my Bulldogs, young and even younger! Rock on.

Subtle message

04/02/2016

Chrisgiftstmas. My son gives me new color pencils, ink and pens, paper of all sorts. Bright reds, blues. Shades of hopeful greens.

Upstairs, I rearranged my studio, yet again, trying to become inspired. I begin with the pencil. All browns, blacks, grays, yellows on antiseptic white paper. Hard angles. Sparse landscape. Graphite scrapes against the grain.

The school year. Entrenched. A library fills with books and laptops. Worksheets and critical thinking. All is drawn clinically. Shelves ordered and neat. Lines between the personal and professional.

Approached. Asked. Asked to teach one art class.

Tonight is for the green pencil.

The universe speaks to me where it can find me.  My son. Its voice.

An indirect benefit of being a teacher is the summer. The two and a half months beckon you. Sleeping late. Trips to places far and near, otherwise neglected. Late evenings sitting on the porch listening to the evening chirps of insects.

Yet themagnolia blosson fall, winter, and spring months are not so generous. Evenings and weekends are spent designing lessons and presentations, reading materials that (perhaps) do not fill your soul, and finally, the onerous grading. This is such a weekend.

The temperature varies this weekend between 60s and 80s F. Sunny with breezes. Birds are busy looking for mates. Daffodils and magnolia blossoms are past, one last gasp, blooms stretched wide and open. Tulips, the redbud trees, and periwinkle are in full glory. I cannot resist. I am addicted to plunging my hands into the earth.

Toward the beginning of evening, I decide to re-arrange a small area of the yard, It is barren and has been waiting patiently for months. The shovel in my hand is a weapon. I ruthlessly plunge it deep into the soft earth, insensitive to root and stones. Hitting hard, I place my full weight with force, turning the ground over and over. Stopping for a breath, I notice the shells. Crusted. White. Broken. Oyster shells.flower pot with shells

Long ago -a century ago – this house owned different people. A family who sustained themselves through work with a delivery service (by horse), a garden for food, and chickens. These shells are reminders of their presence. This family experienced births and deaths in this house. The children ran around this very yard, albeit smaller now. The wife tended home and hearth, caring for the chickens by including oyster shells in their diet for the calcium needed to strengthen egg shells.

What is it that lasts in our lifetime? What lives on and is woven into the fabric of others’ lives, perhaps even unknown to them?

Grades. These are lessons learned. More than a subject. It is about deadlines, instructions, allocating time, and honesty. My hope for my students is experience these “facts” as the lesson. Facts that will help them to live well when I am long gone.

woman in front of chicken coopAnd, as far as the shells -in a gently, sloping area of the garden I plant flowers –  in remembrance of this family who lived, prayed, loved, and died here. What else can I do?

The shells ask only this of me.


Historic Takoma Park, Inc. Images of America: Takoma Park.  Charleston: Arcadia Publishing, 2011. Print

.

art suppliesI am not sure exactly the reason for this mashable detritus stored in my prodigious “art” cupboard, but it lives there. Believe me. Once I went through said cupboard in a ruthless “weeding” of materials accumulated throughout the twenty years as a working artist. Today, at least five years later I open these doors to begin a “small” book arts project, and I am amazed. It is chock full of materials!  Not unlike the famous T.V. Star Trek episode “The Trouble With Tribbles, paper, pens, ink, paints, and sundry tchotchkes have reproduced.

This is leading somewhere in my hyperlinked brain. The new year. Yes, for the new year I am indulging myself with art. This is a timed, but fragmented plan as I am totally exhausted after a long day of librarianship. Instead of watching the news – which is so depressing – I will come up to my studio while the dear husband readies dinner – and ponder my materials; perhaps, I will even dare to paste something down.

Today I begin assembling materials in a spontaneous manner. Looking at the content, I see that I am drawn to pages from both my piano book, Italian Songs & Arias, and a discarded graphic novel of Tintin.  Could this be the result of my overindulgence on too many MHz TV shows of Montalbano (and yes, I have read the books first!) and my immersion in spending ten hours a day, Monday through Friday, with pre-teens, tweens, and teens – all boys?

Regardless of reason, I am excited. Happy New Year, dear readers. I wish you much subdued excitement, too!


 

Printed matters used:

Star vicino. (1991). In J. Paton (Ed.), 26 Italian Songs and Arias: An Authoritive Edition Based on Authentic Sources. Van Nuys, CA: Alfred Publishing.

The Castafiore Emerald. (1992). In The Castafiore emerald ; Flight 714 ; Tintin and the Picaros. London: Methuen Children’s.

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