Saturday, January 31, 2009
I don't remember whose idea it was, but we started telling a story about what we saw in the painting. Julie was as engaged in the story as I was, maybe even more, contributing names, ages, conversation. We sat there for quite a long time, totally entertained until my sister finished her business. I remember thinking about how amazing this little girl's imagination was. I started to think about telling stories about art and even went so far as to sketch out some stories of my own.
Then books like Girl with the Pearl Earring and Girl in Hyacinth Blue were published, setting of a new wave novels with an artist/work of art emphasis. And instead of writing a story myself, I began reading every such book I could get my hands on. I like to think there's still an arts-related book in my future, but for now content myself with connecting my students with art, taking them at least once a year to Boston's Museum of Fine Arts for a creative writing experience and writing along side them as much as possible.
Friday, January 30, 2009
Quite awhile later, when the assembly was done, I went back to my office and saw why she wanted the camera. I don't know whether to be amused or dismayed. She said "he" climbed up the wall outside to the window, climbed up the screen, and finally jumped sideways onto the feeder.
Diane was able to go right up to the window and take these pictures. The squirrel, meanwhile, was not phased. Not one bit. They sure are bold creatures!
Thursday, January 29, 2009
The first book, These is my Words, is one of my all-time favorite books ever. I cried and cried through much of it, not because it was so sad, but because it was so beautiful. Written in diary form, you really get to the heart of Sarah Prine's struggles to persevere through all kinds of challenges. Her first marriage was a loveless one, but her second one was amazing. I could not believe that such a relationship could exist...and yet, as I said, it was based on a real-life story.
I did not like the second book, Sarah's Quilt, as much. The love of Sarah's life died, so if felt like much of the heart of the story fell away. But this third one, The Star Garden, is pretty good. Not as good as the first. I don't think anything could come close to that, but I'm enjoying this one. Trouble is, the only time I have to read during the week is right before I go to bed. And here it is almost 11:15 and I'm still up writing...which means it will be at least 11:3o before I can read...and I have to get up at 5:30....so I don't read all that long. Sigh....
Anyway, if you like stories that have good adventure and a deep, true love while showing what what life was like in another era, I highly recommend this series. I understand there is a fourth one on the way. I know I'll be looking for it!
Wednesday, January 28, 2009
It was the winter of 1992-93. I was living in Brunswick, ME and dating a guy working in Rangeley, ME. Most Fridays, I'd drive up to Rangeley, often with a friend, and spend much of the weekend snowmobiling, day and night. If you didn't know, Rangeley is considered the "snowmobiling capital of the northeast" and after that winter, I know why. The town itself is located on the shores of Rangeley Lake, but there are several other lakes in the area, as well as a number of mountains. There are hundreds of snowmobile trails that crisscross both lakes and mountains, making it possible to endlessly explore the wilderness of this beautiful region. The guy, his brother, the guy I'd go north with, and I spent hours and hours doing just that. Sometimes we'd see nothing else but trees and snow. And deer. And moose. Often I'd be cold to the bone, but couldn't bring myself to stay behind.
I loved when we'd go more slowly so I could take in the beauty sur- rounding me. One night, we found our way to the top of Bald Mountain, so called because the top literally has a bald spot, a clearing surrounded by evergreens. Getting to the top, we shut off the snowmobiles and just looked up. Except for the light glow from the snow, it was pitch black all around us, curtained by the dark evergreens. Above, the sky was like velvet studded with millions of sparkling diamonds. It took my breath away. We didn't speak, just looked. Retreated into our thoughts. It was an unforgettable feeling to be surrounded by so much dark and natural quiet. Just beautiful!
Other winter memories of Rangeley include the time we went up for a long weekend and couldn't find the cabin (my sister's in-laws') on Mooselookmeguntic. There had been so much snow and the snow plow had piled up so much more snow along the road that infrequently used driveways were hidden from view. When we finally found it, we had quite the time to get down to the cabin. But what a lovely time we had once we got inside and a fire going!
Another time I was there with several members of my drama group. We would go outside every night and walk as far out on the ice as we could (sometimes for miles, literally). My favorite thing to do was lie down on the ice, look up, and try to find as many constellations as I could. The dark sky, the lack of electric lights made for an amazing experience.
Photos: My niece, nephew, and their cousin skiing at Rangeley's Saddleback Mountain (a quieter way to explore the winter wonderland); Mooselook from Hight of Land--one of the most beautiful views I know of... [Photos borrowed from the cousin's FB album]
Tuesday, January 27, 2009
What’s your favorite genre of writing? I enjoy reflective writing, travel writing, and poetry
How often do you get writer’s block? Almost every time I write...for a few minutes, at least. Sometimes it lasts longer, but not often. I usually have something to say =)
How do you fix it? I browse through other stuff I've written, read through inspirational quotes I've collected, just start writing until something substantive comes to mine
Do you type or write by hand? I used to love to write by hand (have dozens of journals for all kinds of reasons and purposes, but now my hand goes to sleep after I've written awhile, so it's easier (and faster) to type.
Do you ever go back to an old idea long after you abandoned it? Yes. Often I find the second go at it is successful.
Do you have a constructive critic? My father.
Did you ever write a novel? No
What genre would you love to write but haven’t? Short story or novel
What’s one genre you have never written, and probably never will? Fantasy or Science Fiction
How many writing projects are you working on right now? I've been trying to write every day on this blog at least for the month of January. So far so good, mostly. I also have a weekly newsletter for parents, a monthly inspirational piece for church, and a quarter newsletter for our Alumni.
Do you write for a living? Do you want to? Not presently, although that is a secret ambition of mine =)
Have you ever written something for a magazine or newspaper? I've had several pieces published in both magazines and newspapers.
Have you ever won an award for your writing? I once won third prize in a national contest for a poem I wrote. I went to see Les Miserables with the prize money!
What are your five favorite words? Possibilities, Difference (as in "make a..."), can (as opposed to can't), Grace, Family
Do you ever write based on your dreams? Once or twice
Do you favor happy endings, sad endings, or cliff-hangers? happy endings
Have you ever written based on an artwork you’ve seen? Several times. It's one of my favorite creative writing exercises.
Monday, January 26, 2009
I'm thankful for the life he and my mother have together, too. They both have shown my sisters and me what it means to be true Christians, giving their time and energy to friends, neighbors, church members, and others in a generous and wonderful way. I will be happy to be considered even remotely like either of them, never mind both of them =)
Sunday, January 25, 2009
Like the corners of my mind.
Misty water colored-memories
of the way we were...
Of the smiles we left behind.
Smiles we gave to one another
of the way we were.
Can it be that it was all so different then?
Or has time rewritten every line?
If we had the chance to do it all again,
Tell me, would we? Could we?
May be beautiful and yet
What's too painful to remember
We simply choose to forget.
So it's the laughter
We will remember
Whenever we remember
The way we were.
I spent some time this afternoon looking at my 9th and 10th grade yearbooks. I don't think I've done that in a few decades. Getting back in touch with some many via Facebook got me to thinking what was going on in my life back when I really knew some of my FB friends. It was an interesting journey backwards.
I've said it before, but I'm so glad to be where I am now in life. Oh, maybe there are a few years I'd like to go back to, but not to stay. Being older is so much better! Not the "older" part, but certainly the more comfortable-in-my-skin part.
I posted pictures of some of the pages on Facebook and have already been getting comments back. Such fun! (It's hard to photgraphy, though.)
37 Random Things About Me
1. Do you like blue cheese? Not really, but my dad does.
2. Have you ever smoked? Never.
3. Do you own a gun? No.
4. What flavor Kool Aid is your favorite? Don't really like Koo Aid. Too sweet.
5. Do you get nervous before doctor appointments? I don't enjoy them, but wouldn't say I get nervous.
6. What do you think of hot dogs? I'm vegetarian, so I enjoy veggie hot dogs, with mayo, ketchup, and relish. Then you have to have sauerkraut and baked beans along side =)
7. Favorite Christmas movie? A Child's Christmas in Wales...or Dicken's A Christmas Carol. I show and teach both every year, and sometimes we go see a live production of one or the other.
8. What do you prefer to drink in the morning? Orange juice.
9. Can you do push-ups? Probably a few. Maybe.
10. What's your favorite piece of jewelry? Any one of several watches I have.
11. Favorite hobby? Traveling, writing, blogging, reading
12. Do you have A.D.D? I don't think so, but I do get distracted at school a lot. That's because there are constant interruptions, not because I lose my focus easily.
13. Do you wear glasses/contacts? No, but I do wear reading glasses.
14. Middle name? Suzanne
15. Name thoughts at this moment? I have work to do; I should get to it =)
16. Name 3 drinks you regularly drink? Skim Milk, Water, Orange Juice
17. Current worry? School finances (we are tuition-operated)
18. Current hate right now? Can't think of anything right now.
19. Favorite place to be? Anywhere with my family.
20. How did you bring in the New Year? At home, watching it on TV
21. Where would you like to go? Back to Provence.
22. Name three people who will complete this? No idea.
23. Do you own slippers? Yes, several pairs.
24 What color shirt are you wearing? Off-white
25. Do you like sleeping on satin sheets? Never tried them.
26. Can you whistle? Yes. I whistle often while listening to music.
27. Favorite Color? Various shades of blue and purple.
28. What songs do you sing in the shower? I don't sing in the shower, although I do sing in the car.
29. Would you be a pirate? No.
30. Favorite Girl's Name? Brooke
31. Favorite boy's name? Geoffrey
32. What's in your pocket right now? Gloves, lip gloss, school keys
33. Last thing that made you laugh? An episode from Season Three of That Girl
34. What vehicle do you drive? Pontiac Grand AM GT
35. Worst injury you've ever had? Sprained ankle a few years ago. It still gives me trouble.
36. Do you love where you live? I love living in New England. I enjoy the location of my condo, although right now it needs a lot of fixing up. I hope to love it when I'm done =)
37. How many TVs do you have in your house? One flat-screen. I just got rid of two "regular" ones.
Friday, January 23, 2009
That was one of Jesse Owens' favorite sayings, one he learned from his high school track coach. And it's one of mine. Ever since I first saw the made-for-TV movie about Jesse Owens' life back in the 80's, he has been an inspiration to me, especially in the way he worked with young people. His way of dealing with troubled kids was to walk and talk. Where others would yell and punish, he would walk and talk until they understood each other.
Jesse didn't like confrontation. Much of how he lived his life gives ample evidence to this. And yet, in that same life he not only confronted Hitler on a world-wide stage, he also dared the United States government to confront him when he didn't pay income tax for several years. I showed the movie to our 7th-12th graders this week. For an hour each morning, Wednesday-Friday, they sat mesmerized by this great man's story. Some of the things he faced, the prejudice, the disrespect, is unthinkable. But he met it all with dignity. And ultimately victory.
I especially appreciate his philosophy of trying to make something good out of a difficult situation (the walking and talking). I wrote about him and how his philosophy has influenced me as a principal in my early blogging days. You can read that entry here. Meanwhile, here are some of my other favorite quotes of his:
--Find the good. It's all around you. Find it, showcase it and you'll start believing in it.
--To me, we must learn to spell the word RESPECT. We must respect the rights and properties of our fellowman. And then learn to play the game of life as well as the game of athletics, according to the rules of society. If you can take that and put it into practice in the community in which you live, then, to me you have won the greatest championship.
--One chance is all you need.
--The battles that count aren't the ones for gold medals. The struggles within yourself--the invisible, inevitable battles inside all of us--that's where it's at.
--The only bond worth anything between human beings is their humanness.
--We all have dreams. But in order to make dreams come into reality, it takes an awful lot of determination, dedication, self-discipline, and effort.
Thursday, January 22, 2009
I heard Barbara Walters interview popular rock star Ricky Martin a few years ago. At the time, he was internationally famous, making millions of dollars. He didn’t seem to have a moment to himself, what with touring and fans, etc. I was amazed, then, when he started telling Ms. Walters that the thing that kept him centered, that kept him from losing his focus was silence, was listening for and to God. “If you have a lot of noise in your life,” he said, “How can you listen to God?”
If you have a lot of noise in your life, how can you listen to God? Oh, how true! For me, one of the ways I find God is through music. Shakespeare once said that music can calm the savage beast…and I have found that to be true in my life. There are several pieces that I turn to to calm my nerves, to bring my blood pressure down, to clear my mind, to turn down the noise of the world so I can be still and hear what God has to say to me. Ralph Vaughn Williams’ The Lark Ascending or Durufle’s Sanctus movement from his Requiem, or any number of hymns as well as other classical pieces.
Sometimes, I’ll listen to them over and over, just trying to push everything else out of my mind, and open it up to the peace that comes with listening like that. For me, being still as I listen, enables me to open my ears, my eyes, my mind, my heart to the soothing healing power of God’s active presence in my life.
Wednesday, January 21, 2009
The cardinals are still very shy. They hang out in the trees on the edge of the grass and start making noise, so I know they're out there. Then, they flit from branch to branch until finally they get brave enough to come over. Yesterday, I was trying to talk with a student and the male come up. I'm sorry to say, he distracted me from my conversation. Today, he flew up but got scared off. Also today, for the first time I had a jay come down...and...a robin! (What???)
There are chickadees and juncos who are out there in the brush still. I am thinking of getting another feeder to put a little farther away from the window to lure more birds down... Of course then I'll have to forge a path through the more than knee-high snow to set it up and keep it stocked with savory seeds for my new friends. I'm thinking I can find my way to do this...
Tuesday, January 20, 2009
Until the advent of digital cameras, I used to document such momen- tous occasions by writing everything in my journal, sometimes moment by moment observations. Recently, I've taken to taking pictures of the television pictures...which is what I did some today. It's a different kind of record. A visual one as opposed to a personal one. And even though the pictures are not anywhere near the quality that the professionals would take, they are my evidence of having been there, seen it live.
Today, I wished I had been in position to revert back to my journaling, as I would love to have had my thoughts perma- nently recorded for my memory's sake. Circum- stances wouldn't allow that, though, so I had to let the pictures suffice. I watched the Inauguration with about 100 of our students on a big screen in our gym. Earlier in the morning, I shared a portion of MLK's "I Have a Dream" speech with them from an 2003 Oprah show that I taped. It was pretty powerful to hear the two speeches almost side by side. My favorite part of MLK's speech is where he says he looks forward to the time when his children will be judged for the content of the character rather than the color of their skin.
It would seem that day has arrived.
Monday, January 19, 2009
I did take some time to check out the snowy scenes outside, though. And I chronicled the progress of my two Amaryllis as well. Two days ago I had two blooms and six buds. Tonight, I have 8 full blooms =)
Sunday, January 18, 2009
It is an old choir in that its origins go back to the beginnings of the College in 1511. They sing the daily liturgy in the college Chapel and broadcast and record extensively. The English cathedral tradition means that the group is made up of men and boys. The boys attend the St. John's College School at the opposite end of the College ground. They walk back and forth between their school and the Chapel wearing gowns and mortar boards (cloaks in the winter).
Before meals, they say Grace: "The eyes of all wait upon thee, O Lord: and thou givest them their meat in due season. Thou openest thine hand: and fillest all things living with plenteousness. Bless us, O Lord, and these thy gifts which out of thine abundance we are about to receive, and grant that by their saving nourishment we may have power to fulfill the obedience due to theek, through Jesus Christ our Lord."
After the meal, they say the Post Prandium: "Pour forth, we beseech thee, Lord god, thy grace into our minds, that we may use these gifts, given by Margaret our foundress adn other Benefactors, to thy glory and together with all who have died in the faith of Christ rise again to life in heaven, through Jesus Christ our Lord. may God, of His infinite mercy, grant His Church unity and peace,k preserve our most august queen, Queen Elizabeth, and grant peace to the whole Realm and to all Christians.
And now, for the most interesting thing of all (to me): Since the 16th century, fellows of St. John's are the only people in England other than the Royal Family who are legally allowed to eat unmarked mute swans.
Saturday, January 17, 2009
I feel the same way. Even though there have been days I'd like to forget, could even have done without, if I were to go back to, say, 30 something, I would have missed out on so much! And there are many things I've done in the past 15+ years that I've really enjoyed, and wouldn't trade for anything.
Earlier in the day I was wearing a beautiful purple and gold shawl that I bought in Ephesus, Turkey, this summer. Several people asked me about it, so I shared the interesting (at least to me) story about the lady who ran the shop where I bought the shawl. She was the very first woman shop keeper in the city of Ephesus. Apparently the male shop keepers did not feel it was appropriate for a female to be running a shop. Every morning when she would go to her place to open it up, she would find notes slipped under the door telling her in no uncertain terms that she had no business running a business. She told me that it was a terrible time for a long while before they finally left her alone. There's a story I would not have known (and I shawl I wouldn't have bought...and I country I never would have been in) had I been 30 something.
I watched Mamma Mia! tonight and enjoyed it quite a bit. The actors are among my favorites (Meryl Streep, Colin Firth, Pierce Brosnan), the music was fun, and the Greek scenery was amazing. Perhaps I appreciated it more since I was there this summer. Another thing I wouldn't have done if I was still 35...
Friday, January 16, 2009
The birds have found my feeder this week for good, I think, although I'm worried now that I'm going to be gone for the weekend. All week long, Nut- hatches, Tufted Titmice, some kind of Sparrow, and the pair of Cardinals have been coming to eat. They are still shy, although there's at least one Titmouse who doesn't fly away any more when I try to take its picture. I just can't seem to get more than its tail without standing up and totally scaring it away! I'm thinking of getting a tripod and long trigger cord.
There are other birds lurking in the trees across the way. Blue Jays, Hairy Wood- peckers, and today I thought as saw a Robin. Could that be? I know I heard some about a month ago, but it seems far too cold for them to be here now... There's so much life going on outside my window that it's been somewhat distracting this week. In a good way =)
At home, on the Amaryllis front, I now have two huge blooms with several buds about to burst. I look forward to coming home and seeing what the day has brought for them. They are especially beautiful when the sun sets (right outside my/their window). And tonight, Teddy was enjoying the view of the sun outside and the flowers inside as he perched between the two on the window sill.
Thursday, January 15, 2009
I've been watching one of my all-time favorite movies, Out of Africa. I know it will haunt me for days, now that I've watched it again. The music, the amazing flying scenes, the tender relationship between Denys Finch-Hatton and Karen Blixen, the incredible beauty of Africa, the Ngong Hills...it all gets into my sub-conscious and doesn't let me go long after the credits roll. That, to me is powerful story-telling. The kind I aspire to write some day...
I love the quote above which comes very close to the end of the movie. Whenever I hear it, I wonder the same kind of thing for myself. Will the places I've loved remember me? Will I have done enough to be remembered at all? I don't mean it in an egotistical way, only that I want to fill my life with enough meaning that it will have meant something that I lived. Perhaps, in the long run it's the living well, not the remembering afterwards...
Wednesday, January 14, 2009
We had a 5-hour faculty meeting today. Don't worry. We planned to spend a considerable amount of time. It's semester exams, so we test 1/2 days, which means we had the "luxury" of starting our meeting hours earlier than normal. We'd saved several big items for this very meeting. I was pleased that we not only covered our agenda items, but were able to do them at a thoughtful and leisurely pace.
Even better, though, was the great appreciation and affection for each other that sprang from such close and intense work. One of the new teachers shared that he "loves getting up in the morning to come to work." Another talked about how they couldn't stay away from school during vacation because they were eager to prepare and plan for the new year. I don't know if you can imagine how amazing it is for the whole staff to be so united. We do disagree on some things, but we are taking the time to open up, hear each other out and make compromises for the good of the whole. Can't think of a better way for the staff to bloom =)
Tuesday, January 13, 2009
Right now, the one that was given to me is just leaves. Kind of disappointing, as I think that's all that's going to happen with that one. But the other two have grown tall and are about to be beautiful. One of them opened today. It has opened more and more as the evening has gone on. It was almost like I was watching one of the science film loops we used to have in Biology class years ago (shout out to Mr. Quackenbush and all my SVA friends!).
The other plant is probably a day or so behind this one. I count it a luxury to have this elegant beauty in my house, particularly since the cats don't seem to be very interested in them the way they are in other plants and bouquets.