Sunday, May 17, 2015

Sibling Assignment #163: A Room With a View

Since Carol is taking an online photography class, let's do an exercise together.  

1.  Read this article:  here
2.  Make yourself pause, look, and see and create a well-composed picture following the instruction of Bobby Baker.  In other words, keep the picture simple.  
3.  Write a paragraph about your experience doing this. 
When my two siblings have posted theirs, I will link them.


I really loved the article brother Bill had us read for this assignment. During a hectic time of preparing for a moving sale, packing, teaching, and house showing this exercise caused me to take a deep breath and just see a room in my house from a simple perspective.

The room we like to call The Annie Room once was a breezeway connecting the main house to the extra bedroom and garage. Everett decided to enclose it to make a room that was filled with light, music, and heat in the winter. Our dog Annie loves this room, thus the name. One goal we had with this house was to grow ivy that covered the wall outside The Annie Room. As you can see from the picture, we accomplished this.

About this photo... I love the way the ivy glows in the morning sun. The door provides light and a view of our favorite climbing rose. What struck me the most was the beautiful combination of colors and how the green, yellow, brown all complement each other.  The dash of eggplant purple catches the eye on the pillow. 

I look forward to creating another Annie Room in our new dwelling.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Sibling Assignment #162: Creating Emmy Lou

Sister Carol gave the assignment this week: " Think back to something that happened when you were a student at Sunnyside Elementary, and why you think that incident has stuck in your memory after all of these years.". You can fine hers here and brother Bill's here soon.

I could write twenty sibling assignments on this topic, but today I will focus on art. Down in the basement at Sunnyside School is where the lunchroom was located. The smells from the homemade cooking rose up the steps and down the halls every morning. Those smells included homemake bread, cinnamon rolls, baked chicken, and other delicious meals the cooks were preparing.

 We had assigned seats in the lunchroom and we had to eat quietly. If we drank our milk too fast some teachers would put it in the window sill so could have it at the end of meal...I guess they didn't want us to get full on milk. If we didn't sit up straight one teacher came along and told us we would be hunchbacks or old ladies or something to that effect. If we hated something like peas, teachers made us eat the number of our age. If you were nine, you ate nine peas.. 

What I remember most about the lunchroom was the artwork. Each month a teacher was chosen to display student artwork on the walls. The best artwork done by the students was posted. I loved studying that student artwork while I sat up straight, didn't drink my milk too fast, and ate at least nine peas. I always wanted mine on display. The art project that always stuck in my mind was the project Mrs. Tregoning, the sixth grade teacher displayed. She had students create comic strip characters using drawing and watercolor. I was always intrigued by that project each year. Popeye, Olive Oyl, Lulu, and Charlie Brown looked so real. I wanted to try that project. 

I did get Mrs. Tregoning as a sixth grade teacher. I couldn't wait for the time we did that project. She had examples of all different comic characters for us to study. She demonstrated how to sketch them, then how to use watercolors with thin brushes, less water, and precision to create the character. 

I chose Emmy Lou because she drew me in. Now that I have researched her a bit more, I understand. She represented teenage angst at that time, before I knew what angst was. Her comic strip spoke to me. Her character was perfect for me to create. I will have to dig through my archives and Mom's archives to see if I still that piece of art. I just remember her long skinny legs, her determined stance, and her spunk.

During my sixth grade year I began to fell that I had artistic  talent.  I did this watercolor picture, I won a prize in an art contest doing pencil shading still life, I learned to appreciate reciting poetry, loved picture study, and other creative activites we did.  After thirty seven years of teaching, I still want my students to capture that same feeling as we do creative activities. Maybe we should do cartoon characters this week after six hours of required testing.


Sunday, April 26, 2015

Sibling Assignment #161: What I Will Leave Behind

I gave the sibling assignment this week.  My sister reminded us of the beauty of our hometown  here and my brother illustrated with his pictures the beauty of his new town here.
"When you want to surround yourself with beauty, where do you go? Take five pictures of that place and share your thoughts on it's beauty"

Today I took five pictures of what I will leave behind. We are moving in June and leaving behind beautiful gardens that hold memories, have been perfect subjects for photos, and brought us joy that is immeasurable. Today I took a break from packing up the house to focus on the simple beauty that surrounds us in late April  around our gardens. 
 The combination of a tulip, light, and rain brings the simple beauty of this gorgeous plant front and center. I wish I would have kept track of the names of the tulips of planted. Hopefully I will be able to duplicate them.
 We visited the gardens at Manito Park about fifteen years ago and saw this shrub in bloom in early spring. We thought it was a rose, but knew that couldn't be because of the time of year. I called to inquire and learned it was a Kerria plant.I had to plant some!  Planted in a row they form a hedge that blooms and blooms in early spring. Today ours was in full bloom in front of the greenhouse. Hopefully I can take some starts with me.
 Another tulip I love because of the blurring of colors in the blossom. Raindrops are an extra addition of beauty.
 When I lost my beloved dog Nikki in 1996 my mother gave me a gift to honor her the next spring. This dogwood tree has never bloomsed as beautifully as it has this year. I am blessed with its beauty as I leave it behind ,but hold precious memories of my dog and my mother's generous gift.
Everett wanted a small orchard and the apples have been very successful. There is nothing more striking than the blossoms of apples and a signal that fruit will be on the branches in the autumn months. I hope the new owners of our house love apples.

There will be more pictures as I take garden walks and slowly say good-bye to the gardens at Martin Creek. I am already creating the gardens on Cameron Ave. in my head and on paper.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Sibling Assignment #160: A Still Mind

We are back doing our sibling assignments after a hectic time with each of our lives. Brother Bill gave the assignment:

Do you have anything in your life that you've not been doing that you used to a lot more of?  In other words, have you let something important in your life slip away -- maybe not completely, but more than you'd like in a perfect world.

Write about it -- why it matters to you, how you miss it, and how you think you'll go about getting back to it. You will find my sister's here and my brother's is here.here

Right now my life is very hectic. As a family we are striving to provide support and care for our mother after she had an accident. As a teacher my brain is on overload trying to navigate the procedures and processes for administering a large amount of tests to my students. I am also trying to walk the fine line of pushing more information into my students' minds and just letting them relax and do their best to show 
what they know on the new federal tests. 
We have been working tirelessly to get our home ready to sell. We have had lots of help, but the decluttering and downsizing just needs to be done personally. There have been "discussions" about what to keep, what to give away, and what to sell. There have been numerous trips to the dump,hardware stores, charity places to donate, 
and places that have moving boxes.
I have been educating myself on the world of real estate. I have studied selling houses, buying houses, and all that it involves. I have searched for houses, visited houses, and drove by houses. When we made the decision to move back to my hometown, we knew there would be houses available. 
It was just finding a special one.
What have I not been doing? Letting my mind be still. It was obvious to me this week-end when all kinds of information, communication, and decisions came at me in a short period of time. I needed my mind to be still. My mom has been going to bed very early while healing from her accident. Last night after she was tucked into bed, I forced my mind to be still. I started writing, making lists, thinking, praying, and writing some more. I knew it was what I needed to do.
I also know I need to continue to find time to keep my mind still as we transition into a new chapter in our lives. Sitting in my childhood living room, looking out the window at the house that will soon be mine, finding comfort with the lawn lights and streetlights kept my mind still.
Now I just need to keep it up.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Sibling Assignment #159: Into The Wild

My sister gave the sibling assignment this last week. I am a bit late posting. "Pick a movie you have watched recently, and talk about how that movie changed the way you look at the world". I haven't seen many movies lately , so I am responding to a movie I saw about a year ago. You can find Bill's here. Sister Carol's is here.

I read the book "Into the Wild" by Jon Krakauer after years of being told it was one of those books I should read. It sat on my shelf collecting dust until one day I pulled it down and never put it down much until I finished it. (Let me go on record here that I love Jon Krakauer's nonfiction works. There is not a book of his that hasn't moved me, made me think, taught me about life, or exposed me to a view of the world I hadn't ever thought about. )

As soon as I finished the book I watched the film. I have this thing about wanting to read a book first before I watch the film. I am pleased I read the book first when it came to "Into the Wild.  The book and film did change the way I look at the world.

"The joy of life comes from our encounters with new experiences, and hence there is no greater joy than to have an endlessly changing horizon, for each day to have a new and different sun."-Christopher McCandless

The film "Into the Wild" is the true story of Christopher McCandless and his journey of extreme living as he left behind all material possessions and found people and places that changed his life as he prepared for his goal of hiking into the wilds of Alaska. Leo Tolstoy, Jack London, and Henry David Thoreau were his heroes. He wanted to find his place in the world by immersing himself into nature. He didn't pick a pond like Thoreau. He didn't have the experience in the wilds that London had. He was a romantic and an idealist. He took on the challenging, unforgiving wild land of Alaska alone and without much knowledge of this unforgiving state. He found a bus to live in. He ate rice and found food in the wild. He kept journals of his travels, the people he met  and his life living on the bus as he took on  this difficult journey. He wanted to be freed from money, his parents, and all that bothered him in the world. He wanted to feel free.

Why did this movie move me? I admire any person that stands up for their beliefs in such a strong way. I am not adventurous. I am not a person that would walk into the wild for a purpose. I live safe. I am not a rebel. Christopher McCandless was all that I am not, yet I grew to understand him and why he did what he did.  It moved me.

The film also helped me understand how the events of life that are out of a person's  control can send a person on a spiral of discovery as he/she tries to understand what happened. The actions of parents, friends, a sister, strangers met along the way can all impact the journey that follows. Leaving all those people behind can further impact that discovery.

Thank you Sean Penn for taking the book that the events had already been played out in real life and making it into a film that stayed true to the book and brought Chris alive even more that his words in the book.