30 September 2009

thank you, september

What a lively month, a month teeming with color pencils, ink, watercolors, canned jams and fruits, last garden harvests, knitting, simplifying, organizing, and celebrating.

Right now, I'm:
::  sensing a shift from summer to autumn (finally)
::  listening to Prairie Home Companion and Pandora
::  savoring fresh apple butter on hot crunchy french bread
::  celebrating my birth day this last day of September (or as my brother-in-law says:  another ring around the trunk, another barnacle on the hull, another candle on the cake, another layer of moss on the rock)
::  sipping hot Moroccan mint green tea
::  playing Gin on the weekends
::  welcoming chance and life
::  falling (once again) deep into the brilliant writings of Margaret Atwood
::  simplifying our home

So I ask, where are you at as this month comes to a close?

29 September 2009

something's a-brewing

There's a chill in the air and a gloomy overcast in the sky.  Now, this feels like autumn!  Yes!  Bread dough is rising, spinach and potatoes are being chopped, and the tea pot is whistling.  Today we celebrate that snap in the air with hot french bread and steaming soup.

22 September 2009

five halves

Everything around here seems to be split into two halves.  Nothing is quite done, but too far to just stop.

::  autumn equinox is upon us once again--half sunlight, half darkness.
::  my work space at home is spread out in the hallway and living room while I catalog, organize, shred, and shelve.  Must...get...it...done.

::  I had bushels of peaches and apples (a few pears were thrown in for kicks).  Peaches are done.  Apples are not.

::  Handmade goods for the upcoming holidays are coming along.  I must confess that they are not halfway completed; however, they are all planned out and budgeted.
::  Yard clean-up/trim-up done.  The garden is looking neglected and, well, used.  It's slated for clean-up for autumn/winter planting this weekend.

09 September 2009

don't forget about "me"

"When I grow up, I want to remember that I always wanted to be about a thousand different things and one lifetime didn't seem nearly enough. When I grow up, I hope it's at the very end when it doesn't matter anymore anyway."
**story people**

School is well underway for the year.  I get great joy in teaching children, in sharing my excitement for learning, writing, reading, and the amazing world of numbers.  When I can work beyond the dry mandated curriculum, when I can have the learning take place by seeing, doing, experimenting, exploring...that's when I see those "ah ha" moments in their eyes and an animation in their discussions.  And my heart flies knowing that the big idea, the concept, will stick with them because it has become a part of their exploration using all their senses.  Sadly those times are few and far.  Teaching to the test, for the test, is the norm.  A teacher's job may depend on the test scores being high (which means successful in the government's eyes).

~It is almost a miracle that modern teaching methods have not yet entirely strangled the holy curiousity of inquiry; for what this delicate little plant needs more than anything, besides stimulation, is freedom~ Albert Einstein

We, as a planet, need creative, revolutionary thinkers-tinkerers.  We need students who can, yes, be able to answer the questions put to them, but who also know those answers not because they have memorized the words, the phrase, the formula, but know those answers because the questions have been explored, felt, pondered, experimented, connected.

We need students who will grow up, keeping some of that inner child with them, that sense of wonder.  Take a moment to watch this creative wee animation, which captures my heart.

I know I have that child in me and she pops out quite regularly (sometimes my fabulous husband thinks she's out a lot).  I'm the adult you will find playing in the puddle, noticing the mushrooms sprouting, daydreaming while watching clouds.  I'm the teacher who thinks about that puddle, those mushrooms and clouds, and wonders how to use these to teach and explore about physics, biology, mathematics, writing, and reading.

I'm the teacher who regularly takes the classroom outside.  We take our reading, discussing, experimenting, calculating outside with sunshine, fresh air, and movement.

I'm the teacher who has opted out of taking on a classroom full time.  I'm not sure where these thoughts I've shared here will lead me in my zest for teaching, learning, and exploration.  I do know that this is the right move for me.  I'm excited, a bit nervous, and completely pumped about my options and opened avenues!  Yes!  Welcome September and creativity and zest!

08 September 2009

a history in sand

This video is quite moving and so much more than simply saying "amazing".

From Youtube: "Kseniya Simonova is a Ukrainian artist who just won Ukraine's version of 'America's Got Talent.' She uses a giant light box, dramatic music, imagination and 'sand painting' skills to interpret Germany's invasion and occupation of Ukraine during WWII."

07 September 2009

color explosions

The "arts" component of education has been stripped away over the years, replaced with what feels like "drill and kill" and "teaching to/for the test". Quite sad. It creates teachers and students who are starving for color, movement, and life.

As the school year gears up each September, Sacramento has a sidewalk art festival, called "Chalk It Up!" to raise money for children's art education. In their words:

"Chalk-It-Up! to Sacramento is a non-profit organization created to benefit children's art education programs. Chalk-It-Up! raises money through several annual events including its annual Festival.

All money raised by Chalk-It-Up! funds grants, sponsorships and art programs for children throughout the Sacramento region."

It's a feast of the senses to walk around this small block of park each year--the intense, saturated colors of chalk, the live music on stage, the giggles of both children and adults, the amazing graphic art. I especially love the almost palpable creative energy that just seems to bubble up and transform these ordinary strips of sidewalk into something temporarily beautiful.

02 September 2009

a banner end to august

A friend warned me about the current placement of Mercury but who knew it would involve a small fire (a smolder, really) in my dryer? Oh, and who, I would like to know, has their dryer professionally cleaned each year, as suggested by the manufacturer?! Well, the short version is that we now have a new dryer, and believe me, it will get cleaned out each year (by me).

The first thing I thought of, as the dryer and washer were being pulled out by my cool-headed engineer husband, was to clean behind those appliances and choose a fresh wall color. Painting makes me happy and who gets these kinds of opportunities to freshen up a room that is normally filled with heavy household machines? (It's also a fantastic way to rid the small room of that burnt-electrical-blackened-lint smell.)

I must confess, I find joy in walking the hardware store. The shiny ladders in so many different sizes, the isles of tools that I'm sure I could use for something, the neat stacks of fresh lumber with that lingering smell of pine, the many rainbows of paint chips. The final color choice: "Sage Sweater".  I believe a fine fitting name.