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Archive for September, 2012

This morning I had my first Read Aloud session with Mrs. Landon’s class at Weberwood Elementary. It’s a third-fourth grade split classroom. Last year it was all third graders. I was delighted to see some fourth graders I remember fondly from last year. They remembered me, too, smiling, waving, and making me feel right at home. Oh, how I love reading to these kids!

It’s especially meaningful to be reading at Weberwood, where my son attended grade school. As I walk through the front door, I feel like I’ve gone back in time. It looks, sounds, and smells so familiar. The same woman sits at the secretary’s desk; the librarian, too, is the same. As children move through the hall, I expect to see my son and his little friends smiling, giggling, and trying to walk in a straight line. Wasn’t it just a few years ago I was regularly stopping by for birthday lunches, classroom parties, and parent-teacher conferences? I typeset the school newsletter and faithfully attended every Halloween parade, Christmas concert,  and spring carnival. Sigh. Nineteen years have passed since Britain first walked through those doors.

Image of book cover: The Indian in the Cupboard

Book #1

I wonder if all that remembering influenced my choice of books: The Indian In The Cupboard  series. I love to indulge in the fantasy of time travel! I read the first book last year and hope to read the second and third books this year, maybe even the fourth, if I don’t miss any weeks.

Reading to this classroom once a week for about 30 minutes is such a joy. I love the way they listen, ask questions, and beg me to keep reading. They titter when I read forbidden words like “shut up,” “stupid” or “jerk.”  They especially love learning the British English words from the books and then trying them out on their parents.

Image of Book Cover: The Return of the Indian

#2 – Just Started

I’m so grateful I signed up as a reader. I look at those eager, smiling faces and I remember how very special this time is in a child’s life. The world is still predictable and mostly safe. In this school, the children’s problems are small and their questions are easily answered. It’s a pleasure to pour love and caring into their open hearts and offer them a gift that can last a lifetime: a love for books and reading.

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Standing for a Photo

I never stand with my ankles touching

  1. My Actual Hair Color – I’d gladly tell you what it is, but I’m not really sure. I’ve colored my hair for 25+ years. My hairdresser says you can tell by looking at my eyebrows. Maybe something between brown and raw umber?
  2. I never stand with my ankles touching – When I was 3, my right leg got caught in the spokes of a bicycle, resulting in a terrible compound fracture. We’re talking major blood and pain. The break didn’t heal very well, and I’ve always been self-conscious about it. I find creative ways of standing so no one notices.
  3. I’m an “only child,” and I have a half-brother – He’s 12 years older than I, and he was raised by my mother’s sister. I don’t know him. I don’t even know where he lives or how to spell his last name. I talked to him once before Mom died but not since.
  4. Dad told me that my eyes were brown because I was full of shit – When I was little, I believed him. I still do and curiously find it a source of pride.
  5. I’m musically challenged – I don’t sing well, I don’t even hum well. And I know the words to maybe three songs written after 1977. I never listen to the radio.
  6. In 1974 I won a 10-speed bike for making the most words out of the letters in a local radio station’s motto. I beat the second place person by over 3,000 words. I guess I didn’t have much to do in those ancient days before they invented Words with Friends.
  7. My mother turned 19 on the day the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor (December 7, 1941) – My father turned 80 the day terrorists flew planes into the World Trade Center and Pentagon (September 11, 2011) .
  8. I didn’t see the ocean in person until I was 20 – I was in awe then, and it still takes my breath away!
  9. I’ve traveled to England, France, Switzerland, Germany, Russia, Mexico, Canada, Sweden, and Austria – and many of these United States. I especially love taking ranger-led hikes in national parks. My favorite place to visit is someplace I’ve never been.
  10. My top typing speed in competition was 130 wpm – I haven’t exceeded 120 since I broke my left ring finger in a water park accident. FYI – 120 is 10 keystrokes per second. I don’t know how I do it either, but it’s one of my most cherished gifts.

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Clearance

What a Deal!

I love the Annual Loading Dock Clearance Sale at Wells Furniture. I can ALWAYS find a bargain there. This year I told my husband I wasn’t going. After all, there was nothing more I needed. It would be a waste of time.

But then I found myself driving right by Wells on the way to the grocery store. The sale had only been going for 15 minutes. Surely it wouldn’t hurt to stop and take a peek. And I wouldn’t want to miss entering the “$12,000 in prizes” giveaway, right? (I won a $250 gift certificate one year!)

When I saw this tag on a sweet little end table, my heart skipped a beat. What a Deal! I had to have it. Were they kidding? It was originally $498? Who would pay $498 for THAT? Obviously no one. But they found this bargain hunter’s price: $38. MINE!

The Table

What does it match?!?

I quickly grabbed a salesman and staked my claim. I could tell he didn’t like the table because the nicest thing he could find to say about it was, “Hey, that’s cheaper than a shipping crate at UPS!” Hmmm. I wondered what my husband would have to say about it.

New Design

A Table Frame

I texted him quickly and assured him that if he didn’t like it, I would not put it in the living room. I suppose you can guess from the picture that it didn’t match anything in the living room. Or anything in any other room of our house. Or anything I would ever consider owning (that wasn’t on sale, that is). BUT . . . it was such a GREAT DEAL!

Desperate for a happy ending, I allowed my imagination to begin working. The table is topped with glass. Surely I could find something more appealing than THAT pattern to gaze at. What about one of my pieces of art? Hey, that will work! I ran out and bought some colored poster board, cut it to size, then slipped it and the picture under the glass.

New Table

Look! Dual-Purpose Furniture

Voilà! An addition to the living room that meets the family’s approval. And it’s especially nice to have a multi-function frame for my art. I’m all about bargains AND multi-tasking. When I get tired of this piece, there’s plenty more. (I also bought poster board in blue, yellow, and green and cut them to size. They are conveniently stored under the glass.) I love a happy ending, don’t you?

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About three years ago I was having lunch with an artist friend who was interested in my coaching services. She suggested bartering for art lessons.

Now, if that lunch had taken place a week earlier, I would have turned her down without a second thought. But during that particular week I was challenging myself to take on whatever uncomfortable challenges came my way. My week’s motto was: “Just Do It!” After all, it was just a seven-day challenge. It wasn’t a New Year’s Resolution or anything!

And so, even though I had long ago decided I couldn’t draw … I had no artistic ability whatsoever … and I couldn’t have cared less about learning to paint—I Just Did It! I said YES!

It was a slow, bumpy start. My first experience was in a class of 11-year-old girls who were “drawing with chalk.” One of them gently corrected me, “They are pastels, not chalk.” Oh! Silly me!

Later, my one-on-one lessons took me to the depths of my incompetence. I hadn’t learned anything much beyond the three primary colors (red-blue-yellow). Who knew there were secondary colors?!? And all those brushes and different brands of paint, paper, and canvases. I was overwhelmed.

Some lessons ended in tears. Often I was frustrated by what I didn’t know and couldn’t seem to learn. Nothing ever ended up looking like I intended. I tried wood block, water-color, pastels, acrylics, and oil.

Last year I had a major breakdown / breakthrough when I finally gave up my need to “do it right.” I decided to just let my 6-year-old self play with paint, and I’ve been having so much fun ever since!

Now I see how living life and learning to paint have a lot in common. The painting that appears with this post was one I made a real mess of initially. I was going to throw it away, but then I decided to just work with it for a while longer. After about a dozen sessions, I knew it was finished because when I stepped back and looked at it, I smiled. It was a smile of inner satisfaction, appreciation, and joy. Life can be like that, too. Just showing up, day after day, having fun trying a bit of this and a bit of that, until at last you feel the smile of satisfaction, appreciation, and joy.

My attitude toward life has changed forever because I took myself up on that 7-day challenge. [SMILE!!]

Experimenting With Life

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