Wednesday, September 29, 2010

One Last Sweet Taste

I wonder if the flowers whisper to one another,

when it's time,

"Make seed!"

 How do they know,

when the sky is still a brilliant crystal blue

and the sun shines bright and warm?

Summer lingers, teasing us

with one last sweet taste,

and then it's gone.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Making Messes (From Chaos to Conception)

This is the mess my daughter, Caitlin, and I made in the dining room on  Saturday.  

We decided to do a craft day, something we hadn't done in a long time.

So we got out the beads, and wire, and findings, and jewelry pliers and all that other stuff...

Caitlin made a very cool necklace...

...with a Celtic knot charm, a key, and one of those little pins, to which she added a pearl.  (She didn't want me to take her picture, because she "hadn't even showered yet".)
I, on the other hand, just made a mess.

Sunny and Arlo did not get to make crafts.  I think you can see why.

Then, on Sunday, I made another mess.  For me, starting a new collage is always the messiest part of the process.  In this case, my starting point was this small piece I did a few months ago. 

I wasn't satisfied with it (Where have we heard that story before?), so I wiped some of it off and re-worked it, adding some collaged papers to it as well.   I had only a vague idea what I wanted to do, so I pulled out gobs of monotype scraps, maps, ephemera, papers...

(I won't be using the dog toys in the piece- probably.)

... and began to assemble different combinations of materials that I thought might work, as I attempted to develop the concept I had in my mind's eye... trying one thing, discarding it, pulling out something else.  Often, the idea may undergo a bit of a metamorphosis as I find materials that will help me to solidify my vision...

 Right away, I found I liked this map for the lower part of the piece... I glued these down, using a clear adhesive sheet called Grafix Double Tack Mounting Film.  I prefer this for attaching large papers to a flat surface, because there's none of the wrinkling or warping you get with liquid glues.

Eventually, I decided to add a section of a (scanned) 1957 map of the constellations, and glued this down as well.

This is how it stands so far, with the three major components glued on.  Stay tuned to find out what I do with it next...

Monday, September 20, 2010

Cheering Up

This wasn't at all what I had planned for today's post, but I need a little cheering up.   So I decided to share  photos of some things that make me smile...

Not too many things make me happier than the Rocky Mountain views at Glacier National Park...

It's the most beautiful place I've ever seen...

... so lovely, it takes your breath away.

How can you not smile at this?

My son putting silly hats on the dog...

...butterfly parties...

...our little piece of heaven in the country...

...on the Kinneyconnick Creek...

...and goofy Christmas morning smiles...

Okay, I've just realized this could go on for a very long time.  It's pretty incredible, when I think about how many things I have to smile about; I'm just barely getting started...

I don't know about you, but I'm definitely feeling better already!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Just Checkin' In

Time is zipping on by, and I don't have much time, but just wanted to check in with my blogger buddies and share a quick bit of news. 

I have two pieces in this exhibit at the Berea Arts Council, which features members of the Kentucky Guild of Artists and Craftsmen.  If you're in the area during the next month and a half, please stop and have a look.

In today's mail, I found something wonderful!  My talented friend Debra Eck, of Dryadart's Weblog, had sent me some treasures!

Maps!  Pretty much my favorite thing ever, and these are great, mostly from old encyclopedias.  Two of them are pictured above.  Thanks, Deb- as my students would say, you rock!

I hope you are all enjoying every minute!  Bonsoir!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

International Literacy Day

 Because I was away at Camp Joy on September 8th, I missed the commemoration of International Literacy Day.  As a teacher, this cause is very near and dear to my heart, because I get to witness the effects of illiteracy on a daily basis.  It's not just my students with learning disabilities who struggle with reading, but a shockingly large proportion of the 'regular' kids as well.
I don't want to get all preachy here, so I'll just give you a few facts:

According to UN analysis ... some 776 million people lack minimum literacy skills, that means one in five adults [worldwide} are yet illiterate (International Literacy Day 2010).

According to the U.S. Department of Education, functional illiteracy affects some twenty-four million Americans, preventing them from understanding basic instructions, filling out an application for a social security card, or reading a map.  They can indeed read, but with minimal comprehension.

Two Thirds of students who cannot read proficiently by the fourth grade will end up in jail or on welfare.

More than 60 percent of all prison inmates are functionally illiterate. (

photos by
Adopted in the year 1965 by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the International Literacy Day is observed every year...[on September 8th], with the goal of raising awareness of illiteracy and its consequences.

The International Literacy Day 2010 website states:  Literacy is not just about educating, it is a unique and powerful tool to eradicate poverty and a strong means for social and human progress. The focus of literacy lies in acquiring basic education for all, eradicating poverty, reducing infant mortality, simmering down population growth, reaching gender equality and ensuring constant development, peace and democracy.

A good place to learn more about literacy and how you can help is Global Literacy Project, Inc.

In honor of International Literacy Day, I thought it would be nice to share with you some of the books I've been reading lately.  I recently finished "As Far as the Eye Can See: Reflections of an Appalachian Trail Hiker" by David Brill.  A memoir of the author's adventures while hiking the full 2,100 mile length of the Appalachian Trail, this book is a quick, easy, and entertaining read.  Though many of the anecdotes related here made me laugh out loud, it's also the story of how the five-month long experience changed the author as a person.

As for fiction, I recently read Paolo Bacigalupi's "The Windup Girl" , a sort of futuristic dystopian novel set in an all too possible future where the dire predictions about humans' destruction of the environment have come true.  Genetic engineering and agribusiness have gone wild, along with global warming.  Emiko is the windup girl, genetically engineered to serve humans, and said to have no soul.  What happens when she becomes involved in the ensuing fight to dominate the calories trade reads like a fast-paced crime novel.  What makes this book so compelling (beyond the subjects it explores) is the richly detailed world created by Bacigalupi, so real you can see it.  The novel won Bacigalupi several awards, and they are well-deserved.

I hope this post didn't bore you, and even perhaps that you gained something from it.  If you enjoyed the book reviews, let me know; I may do it again sometime.  Enjoy your day!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Camp Joy

I have been gone the last few days, off on a strange and frightening adventure.

Yes-  I was -(Que spooky ominous music)- camping with 8th-graders!
Every year at the school where I teach, the 8th grade goes on a three-day field trip to Camp Joy, an outdoor education center near Clarksville, Ohio.
The kids got to participate in lots of interesting and unique activities...

... like learning to work cooperatively and trust one another...

 Here, students have to work together to untie the "human knot"...

The ropes course was probably the favorite. The kids really had fun with this, while being terrified at the same time.

A camp staff member comes to the rescue...

 Up she goes...

It was exciting watching their confidence grow... they challenged themselves to do things they thought they could never do...

and succeeded.

 I, too, had my challenges... living in this cabin for three days with 23 8th-grade girls and one brave mom.  Exhausting, but do-able.

The really unique thing about Camp Joy is the Survival on the Underground Railroad Re-enactment.  For about 3 hours, we got to experience a small taste of what it was like to be a slave, attempting to reach freedom in the north.  The realistic and historically accurate  re-enactment takes place on a part of the grounds that looks much like it would have in 1851.  I wasn't able to photograph the re-enactment (slaves didn't have cameras!), but here is the cabin where I was sold into slavery.

A gorgeous example of a re-constructed log house; right up my alley, if you know what I mean.

Camp Joy was an eye-opening experience in many ways.  This was a rare opportunity  for all of us to learn about slavery from the inside- sort of.  Our country still faces challenges that stem from slavery, and the next generations must still work to overcome them.  I don't think any of us will ever look at this period in our nation's history, or ourselves, the same way again.

You must do the thing you think you cannot do.  –Eleanor Roosevelt

Monday, September 6, 2010

Random Thoughts...

The apples are almost ripe...

There are still some blooms left in the garden, so I'm enjoying them while I can... 

Lots of butterflies, too, but the dang things won't hold still!

I'm sure I've probably mentioned this at least four or five hundred times, but it bears repeating: I hate framing.  I mean, I hate it to the extent that I would rather go to the dentist (no lie) than frame artwork.  Isn't that pathetic?

But that's what I've done for the past two days, so I'm a bit cranky.

This has been a horribly hot summer, and the most humid on record for this part of the country.  My dogs did not enjoy the heat at all.  Is that why they call the end of summer the "dog days"?- because the dogs are sick of it, already!

We saw their tongues a lot this summer...  Scout and Sunny seemed to take it in stride a little better than Arlo did...

He looked miserable when we were out in the country...

But that could have been a ploy to get the choice spot on the couch!

Well, I told you they were random...

I hope your summer is ending well, and that you're enjoying every last minute!