Sunday, January 31, 2010

Good Things About Winter

 I have to admit it- I'm not really a big fan of winter. Where I live, winter is made of gray skies, ugly brown hills, and mud (if it's not below freezing).  Snow is pretty, and sometimes gets me a day off from work (yay!), but we don't get much of that.  I don't do well without adequate light, and cold weather just makes me want to curl up and hibernate.

So, I'm trying to learn to go with the flow, because, obviously, I can't fight it.   I probably won't exactly fall in LOVE with it, but my goal is to at least accept winter with a modicum of grace.  Or, if that proves impossible, to stop whining about it quite so much.  To that end, I decided to make a list of the good things about winter.

1.  You don't have to mow the lawn.  (Okay, that one's really lame, I agree.)


2.  Snow is pretty amazing; it makes the world look fresh and clean, like a brand new sheet of paper.

3.  It gives the trees and other plants a chance to rest.

4.  Bare branches look lovely against the sky.

5.  It makes Spring seem so magical when it finally arrives.

6.   A cozy fire in the fireplace is deliciously  enjoyable.

7.  With not as much to do outside, I have more time, when I'm home, to make art. 

8.  It gives me this great opportunity to become more open and to grow as a person.   Hahaha!  Well, I'm making an effort, anyway.  I'm sure I'll think of more good things about winter, and when I do, I'll let you know! 

I the meantime, don't forget to stop by The Altered Page for more of Seth's


Tuesday, January 26, 2010

The Traveler's Tale: Once Upon a Time (snake- free!)

I did it!   I got very tired of scraping the snakes off, but I finally sucked it up and finished it!   Just a few little tweaks here and there, and it will be ready for the final photo.  With apologies for the quality of the photo, what do you think?

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Science, Einstein, and Stuff

If you read my blog very often, you probably know that I'm kind of a science nerd.  To be serious, I believe that science, art, and spirituality are all intertwined; exploring these ideas is one of my passions.  It seems odd and artificial to me that we separate "subjects" in school as if they have nothing to do with each other.  If I had not been an artist, I probably would have majored in some type of science, but it never occurred to me at the time that they may not be two separate things at all.

Last week, one of my students told me that science is not important, and that, furthermore, we "don't need to know anything about it."  This and other equally ridiculous things pop out of the mouths of eighth-graders on a regular basis.  The scary part is that it's not just my students (i.e. kids in special ed.), it's almost all of them, and their beliefs tend to closely echo those of their parents.  With this attitude so prevalent, it's no wonder our math and science scores are near the bottom compared to other industrialized nations.  

This really bothers me; I haven't been able to stop thinking about it.  I'm not going to get into a big analysis on this blog, because,'s a blog.  But I've been thinking about ways to get across to the kids that EVERYTHING is science. With that in mind, I thought it would be nice to contemplate the elegant beauty of science.  

"Great spirits have always found violent opposition from mediocrities. The latter cannot understand it when a man does not thoughtlessly submit to hereditary prejudices but honestly and courageously uses his intelligence." ~ Albert Einstein 

"A human being is a part of a whole, called by us _universe_, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings as something separated from the rest... a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty."

"All religions, arts and sciences are branches of the same tree."   ~Albert Einstein

image from Hubble Space Telescope

"Imagination is more important than knowledge.  For knowledge is limited to all we now know and understand, while imagination embraces the entire world, and all there ever will be to know and understand."  ~Albert Einstein 

"Few people are capable of expressing with equanimity opinions which differ from the prejudices of their social environment. Most people are even incapable of forming such opinions."  ~Albert Einstein

"The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and all science. He to whom this emotion is a stranger, who can no longer pause to wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead: his eyes are closed."  ~Albert Einstein

"The religion of the future will be a cosmic religion. It should transcend personal God and avoid dogma and theology. Covering both the natural and the spiritual, it should be based on a religious sense arising from the experience of all things natural and spiritual as a meaningful unity. Buddhism answers this description. If there is any religion that could cope with modern scientific needs it would be Buddhism."  Einstein

I just can't get enough of this song/ videoEnjoy!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

First Big Snow of the Winter

This past week was our first week back after winter break, and, as luck would have it, our first real snow of the winter.  Consequently, we actually had only two days of school, which is a nice way to ease back into it, in my opinion!  

It's so cold, Arlo is willing to cuddle up with Sophie, despite the risk of getting his nose scratched!

Now, granted, what qualifies as real snow in Kentucky might seem laughable to some of you; we had four to five inches.  Okay, I can hear you laughing.  However, like much of the country, we've had record-breaking cold temperatures, so the snow on the side streets that weren't cleared just froze.  School buses don't skate well.

One of my favorite gifts this Christmas was this fantastic bird feeder, from my sister-in-law, Donna.  It had not been in use very long when the snow hit, so naturally I was out on the back porch taking photos like mad until my finger was too frozen to push the shutter button. 

The birds had white beaks from digging down into the snow to find seeds...

The cadmium red cardinals were so unbelievably bright against the white of the snow; they were almost orange. 


This little guy was adorable!   I'll have to look this up, but I think he's a titmouse?

I'll have to look this one up as well...

A female red-head woodpecker- apparently she lets her mate wear the pretty red hat, but he refused to pose for me.

Another cardinal waits in the tree for his turn at the food...

while his mate says, "Come on, hurry up!"  or maybe, "Back off, it's all mine!"

The dogs get all revved up when it's cold outside, just like kids playing in the snow.

Arlo runs through the snow like a little maniac! 

It's too cold to stay out for long, though.  Sunny stands on his hind legs and peeks in the back door window when they want in... 

Bye for now!

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Some Thoughts on Change

My last post was about the new year, the challenge of change, and how frightening it can be.  In regards to that, here are some thoughts by people who express themselves far better than I.  To accompany them I've chosen some photos I took at fall's end, when the earth speaks of the past, the changes under way, and whispers hints of the future...

The object of a new year is not that we should have a new year.  It is that we should have a new soul.  -G. K. Chesterton 

It's not so much that we're afraid of change or so in love with the old ways, but it's that place in between that we fear...It's like being between trapezes.  It's Linus when his blanket is in the dryer.  There's nothing to hold on to.  -Marilyn Ferguson

 The important thing is this: To be able at any moment to sacrifice what we are for what we could become.  -Charles DuBois

Every great dream begins with a dreamer.  Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world.  -Harriet Tubman

There came a time when the risk to remain tight in the bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.  -Anais Nin

I wanted to change the world.  But I have found that the only thing one can be sure of changing is oneself.  -Aldous Huxley

It takes a lot of courage to release the familiar and seemingly secure, to embrace the new.  But there is no real security in what is no longer meaningful.  There is more security in the adventurous and exciting, for in movement there is life, and in change there is power.  -Alan Cohen

Thursday, January 7, 2010

New Year

I'm kind of late on this one, but I had a screw loose, as Whitney pointed out.  I can't say they're any tighter now, but the one on the computer is okay...

You might notice that I left the "Happy" out of the traditional New Year greeting.  Not that I don't want it to be a happy one; I do indeed hope it will be happy, for all of us.  But what I'm really hoping is that it will be new.  Different.  A fresh start; out of that same old rut many of us have been stuck in.  What we need is change.

All around me, I see people facing big, scary changes, the kind no one wants to confront.  So many friends are facing illness, loss of jobs or income, loss of their homes.  These can cause other losses.  We lose self confidence, direction, sense of purpose.  We are lost. 

We wonder, What next?

Believe it or not, this state of uncertainty, of feeling as if the rug has been pulled out from under you, of being totally lost, is a magical place to be.  It is the crossroads, the "between",  the place of potential and new beginnings.  From this point, all things are possible.  According to spiritual principles, only when something is taken away can something new be brought in; a psychic "space" must be cleared in order to bring in new energy.  

Symbolically, there can be no rebirth without going through the death phase.  A shaman receives his/her power by going through a transformation which usually involves a severe illness, an inner experience of being torn apart and put back together in a new and different form.  It is painful; it feels like you will not survive.

In "When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times", Pema Chodron writes that she had a sign on her wall which read, "Only to the extent that we expose ourselves over and over to annihilation can that which is indestructible be found in us."  She goes on to say, "Nevertheless, when the bottom falls out and we can't find anything to grasp, it hurts a lot...  When things are shaky and nothing is working, we might realize that we are on the verge of something."

My daughter used to say that without the darkness, we wouldn't see the stars.  May each of us see our own stars.