pink and green plaid

July 29, 2006

So here’s the story behind the boots . . .
Yesterday UPS arrived on my porch with a large box. I was confused, not expecting anything, and even more intrigued when I saw that it had come from Northern California, from the mother of the bride from my “Just another wedding day” blog entry [January]. Inside I was delighted to discover the now famous boots I wore to trudge through the mud on our rain-soaked wedding promenade. In a sweet letter she explained to me that my story had made them famous amongst her friends, and that she had meant for some time now to send them to “their rightful owner.” Also included in the package were photos of Batman, Kiwi, and Mahina—the newest additions to the family. Any guesses as to the nature of these children, befitting the blog story? They are, according to Sarah’s descriptions in the letter, befittingly mischievous goat-kin :-)

If someone can tell me to which blog entry the photo visual aid below rightfully belongs, I’ll tell you the story behind the picture :-)

July 28, 2006

what came in the mail today

with a cherry on top

July 24, 2006

My boss is awfully persuasive it seems [is that an oxymoron? ;-) ] . . .
After initially turning down his request back in the Spring, today I re-thought and gave him a final, reconsidered “yes.” Granted, I suppose it could have been the student’s request I was agreeing to more so than his. What it was that I agreed to was starting up, and coaching, a girl’s Cross Country team. There is a small Cross Country team at the moment–has been for 2 years now–but it is only for boys as there has been no female coach.
My reasoning in not doing it was that I felt unqualified, having no coaching experience beyond my experience running on the team myself and running on my own ever since. Besides, the prospect of starting the team from scratch just seemed terribly daunting.
But this morning one of the high schoolers came to my desk in the library [after the headmaster had just asked me to think about it again], and she asked if it was true that I was going to start a team up this fall. I told her that it was true that I was thinking about it, but that I wasn’t sure if I was up to it and explained why. Looking at me with a convincingly pleading expression, she assured me that there were only a few girls, that they would be “easy” to coach, and that she really wanted the chance to run . . .
And how could I possibly turn her down at that point?
Hearing me laugh as he walked by the library, the headmaster poked his head in and innocently asked what she had come to see me about, what she had said?
Laughing again, I replied that she had said “Please” :-)

An evening spent experimenting with oil paintings has just convinced me that I am not a true artist [visual, at least]. I think that a real painter would have been satisfied with the process as an accomplishment in itself. I, however, was not able to create the image I had in my head and consequently ended up feeling as if I had wasted my time. Hopefully more experimentation would lead to greater success in the medium, but my conclusion [about my artistic inclinations] remains the same. And unfortunately I doubt I will have many other chances to experiment like I have at the moment–this is simply due to a house-sitting stint in a lovely home that is equipped with an art studio. Like I said, not many occasions like this in my daily life :-) I’m afraid my own young art students do not have a teacher well-funded enough to provide them with such materials . . . so far they seem to be content with their watercolors, acrylics, charcoal, and ink, thankfully!

special specters

July 16, 2006

I was given an unusual gift this week. While I was on my way home in the afternoon my neighbor called to warn me about a possibly easy-to-miss item in my mailbox. She explained that her 3-year-old had been hard at work on a project that she absolutely forbid her mother to see. All her mother was allowed to know was that it was for me. She then carefully wrapped it in tissue paper and delivered it to my mailbox–insisting on riding her bike for the great 20 yard trek between their house and mine. During the phone conversation, my neighbor explained that she was a bit concerned that the package may have been carried off by the postman, as it probably would have had to be closely looked for in the mail box. I echoed her concern, intrigued by the prospect of such a surprise and hoping to actually get it. Thankfully the package survived the mail delivery that day. Its packaging did not, I’m afraid–I assumed the torn bits of kleenex to be the “tissue” wrapping of the original gift.
So what was the present? Why, a list of spelling words of course–need you ask?! It was a small piece of notebook paper with lists of repeated words: “mother,” “sister,” “friend,” and “love,” among others. After a moment it occurred to me that my little neighbor would not actually have been the original scribe of the words–I have worked with her on writing projects enough to be pretty certain of that. A moment later, however, I happily discovered her personal contribution: the result of her reported laboring efforts–on the back of the paper was a small drawing that I instantly recognized as her artwork. Every time she is offered some sort of writing utensil and something to write on, the result is a figure that distinctly resembles a ghost. The dimensions may vary slightly, but the effect is always the same. It does make me curious to see what her artistic inclinations develop into as the years pass.
For now, though, I am quite content to prominently display my new ghost on the fridge :-)

my happy librarian-heart

July 10, 2006

The sight of my workplace this morning made me cry. Not in the way one might expect, mind you: these were tears of relief, and tears of joy. See, my school was vandalized in the early morning hours. I found out about it via an early morning phone call from my grandparents who had seen it on the news. They called in a panic, on my behalf, telling me that the school had been ransacked and fire extinguishers sprayed throughout.

What you should know at this point is that such action has the very likely potential to completely destroy a library—to completely destroy the work of this past year, in my case. I have spent a year designing and buying furniture, installing technology, buying new books, sorting through donated ones, cataloging, shelving, organizing, re-organizing . . . basically anything I could think of that was needed to turn a room and a library grant into a functioning school library.

What you should also know is that I am prone towards perfectionism at times. As a result, one of my work stresses is that it is difficult for me to find the time to keep it clean. Libraries are surprisingly difficult to keep clean, with the tendency for dust to settle in nooks and crannies, for old books to harbor mites, and for little hands to leave gifts of candy wrappers, pencil marks, and the like. So I notice accumulated dirt and worry about it.
Well this morning’s discovery was two-fold:

1. The library was wonderfully unappealing to would-be vandals. They walking in, picked up a few magazines, threw them on the floor, and left. The priceless collection of knowledge was left untouched.
2. Thanks to the school-wide mess, a cleaning service was hired [not the usual for our small, do-it-yourself school. They cleaned the library. They not only cleaned it—they treated it as carefully as if it were some proud librarian’s child :-) They dusted every nook and cranny, even lifting up magazines and books to dust underneath. I have never seen it sparkle so, or smell to fresh.

So I stared, gasped, touched surfaces . . . and smiled through my teary eyes. Blessings come from the strangest sources. And this morning the message to me was to let go, to not try to do it all, and to sometimes, every once in a while, be ok with just being.

This morning a ransom inspiration proved to be oddly fitting, in a symbolically ironic sort of way. It all began when I started making deliveries to my students, taking the newly-bound version of their completed books to them. Two had just finished their stories, artwork, and cover designs, and so I had planned to use this morning to present them with their fine works of craftsmanship.
Both lived within easy walking distance, so the first delivery was made on foot. By the time I was to make the 2nd, however, I was running low on leisure time and decided to bike rather than walk. Normally when I bike I simply carry whatever I need with me in my purse, as it is [intentionally, for this very purpose] a small backpack-style bag. This book, however, in the bag I had packaged it in, was definitely too large to fit in my backpack.
Brainstorming for a quick way to make the trip, I had an “Aha!” moment and thought “My kisape!”
Here I should probably stop to explain, as only a handful of my readers will be with me still . . . A “kisape” is the all-purpose cloth used by Zambian women [or at least that was the term in the area where we lived: it is called by many different names]. This one is the one we brought back to the U.S. with us, and it is what Mom used to cart the 4 of us around while she worked. It is simply a large rectangle of cotton, normally brightly colored in one of infinitely many beautiful prints. The Zambian women also use their kisapes for head cushions [under a load of firewood, for instance], wrapped clothing, and all manner of other practical uses.

This morning, however, I used it draped over the book, under one arm and over the other, the way Zambian children are carried. So, in essence, I thought as I biked, I am carting this book as if it were a child. And then I realized that my student should certainly be informed of the same, so she would know [as if she did not already] the great value of her creation . . . At least that’s what I reported when I arrived and undid my small bundle in order to make the presentation :-)

survey says

July 4, 2006

As I have definitely decided to hold Session #2 of “Creative Pages” Camp, I asked my Session #1 students to provide a bit of anonymous feedback as to:
1. What should be changed about Creative Pages for next time?
2. What did you like the best about Creative Pages?

Listed below are some of the responses my students offered me. As you will see, a few did little more productive than merely providing a bit of an ego boost :-). All the same, mind you, all gave me seriously helpful/useful things to think about. And we must not neglect the ever-helpful pleasure of a few good laughs. . .

-best. books
-change nothing
-ritinge in ore book [translation “writing in our book.” This was in fact from the disliked part of the survey]
-I think we should do more canvas paintings.
-pating leaves
[translation “painting leaves”—a watercolor & leaf project we did one day]
-I did not really care for the homework.
-learn more writing skills