Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Life Goals

The idea of my mortality is become clearer. I am feeling the strong desire to fulfill dreams and reach goals with more of a sense of urgency that ever before. Perhaps part of it is money: these dreams and goals all have costs and I am no longer living in a state of utter poverty because my career is solid and Jim's business is doing well. More than that, though, is the realization that there are definitely more years behind me than there are ahead, and this life is so beautiful and amazing and I want to live it as fully as possible.

What remains on my personal list:
-- Breeding high quality goats (in the works for 2016)
-- Finding a horse (maybe for my 50th birthday?)
-- Retirement as a healthy person with a good pension and savings (so far so good for 2023)
-- Writing a book (the topic of dogs and kids)
-- Travel - lots and lots of travel

So about the travel. St. Maarten with my family is planned for December and we are so psyched. San Francisco with my girlies is planned for April and that is exciting. Granada, Spain, is a possibility for the summer as Chandler is studying there and of course I should visit him, right? Jim and I really want to travel together to many places, so the plan is to work hard but not to wait until we are elderly to live adventurously (but also not go into debt to do it). We continue to be thankful for our good jobs and our good health as we plan and dream, taking full advantage of the blessings of our lives.

Granada, Spain

San Francisco

St. Maarten

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Poet Discovery

My priest's Sunday sermon included a poem by Mary Oliver, and I am excited to say I have found a new poet to love.

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting –
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.

                                                Mary Oliver

Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean-
the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down-
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don't know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn't everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?
                                                                 Mary Oliver

~ shadows, from last winter when spring and summer and now fall seemed so distant ~

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Shark Week 2014 in the ADKs

This will be our 2nd Annual Shark Week Summer Getaway with one of our bestie couples, and we are sooo excited! Last year our mini summer vakay was in Alex Bay and it just so happened to coincide with Shark Week, so we decided to make a trip at that time an annual summer tradition. This year we will be staying in Lake Placid for two nights, and we are psyched for beautiful scenery, great food, awesome adventures, lots of cocktails and many laughs.

We will be staying at the very affordable and convenient Lake Placid Summit Hotel:
When it comes to Adirondack lodging and hotel accommodations, Lake Placid Summit Hotel, Resort and Suites, is perfect for the family or business traveler. With amazing views overlooking Mirror Lake and just around the corner from the quaint shops and restaurants of Lake Placid Village, this newly-renovated Lake Placid resort is an exceptional value.

Some adventures will include:
The Hungry Trout Resort (yummy dinner)
Whiteface Mountain (headed for the summit, weather permitting)
J. Lohr Vineyards & Wines Café and Wine Bar (glass of vino)
Great Adirondack Brewing Co. (lunch? dinner? beer?)
Cloudsplitter Gondola (great views, weather permitting)
Mirror Lake Boat Rental (maybe? will we want to do something this strenuous?)
and of course shopping :)

We will only be there one full day, so 'best not to jam it too full of activities. It's really about being with great friends in a beautiful place to celebrate summer and nature and life in general. Woo hoo!

The top o' Whiteface -- what a view!
a shark getting tagged - "he won't feel a thing!"
making bithkiths (inside joke)

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Last School Day

I am sitting at my desk for the last time this school year, and won't sit here again until September. My grade book and lesson plans are turned in, grades are verified with Guidance, all proctoring assignments completed, final exams tied up and in the vault, requisitions finalized, good byes shared with colleagues not coming into work today. Having these few precious moments to reflect on the past months helps me to emotionally wrap things up.

Overall I feel it was a successful year. I had the usual cross section of students who excelled, students who did only what they needed to do, and students who didn't attend school enough to pass my class. The Art Show topped any other year in terms of quality of work, and I believe most students gained valuable experience in my classes. I had the pleasure of working with my long-distance colleague and friend Danna Fuller on a really cool mobile learning mandala project (read more about it here) and I can't wait to do it again next year. I enjoyed working with my Wilson colleagues, especially those in my "neighborhood", and I still love teaching. I do - I still love it. I did fall short in some areas, and next year I will do better -- I am already thinking of how I want to change some things up, and some new projects I want to try. Mostly I feel proud of what was accomplished in my classrooms.

But summer: time to heal, time to rest and accomplish and explore and socialize and to simply breathe. I am so grateful to have this time, and I know that it makes me a better teacher and a better person. Without this break I would be less effective in every area of my life, especially in my classroom.

Below are some exemplars I created for our Mandala project. Read more about these here.

Lenten Altar Mandala

Goat Mandala

Japanese Maple Mandala

Lake Shore Mandala

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Lilac Walk

There are so many things going on right now between school, church and home, but yesterday was such a perfect day I took an hour to walk my pups along the lake.

Both Willow and Bumble are very good on the leash - Bumble to my left and Willow to my right - and as long as we stick to the paved roads then they are focused on their pack leader and walking nicely. When we walk through the orchards and woods Willow struggles with the exciting scents and I have to say "leave it" approximately 100 times per minute, so the paved lanes to and along the lake are perfect for walking both dogs as there is very little traffic and very few smells to deal with.

Right now we are enjoying that glorious moment in spring when the lilacs and other flowering trees and shrubs are in full bloom. Along our wood line behind the house we currently have dogwood and various hawthorn in bloom, and the lane by the lake is lined with lilacs in bloom. The fragrance from the lilacs filled the air during our walk! On the side opposite the lake the orchards are also in bloom, and as we walked a farmer was mowing the lush green grass and bright yellow dandelions. Between the smells of the fresh cut grass and the lilacs, my head was swimming with memories. Like songs, smells can take me back so quickly -- childhood memories of Mom's lilac perfume that Dad bought her at the Rochester Lilac Festival one year, and memories of working together as a family on our large country lawn in Parish.

Along with the lovely smwlls, our walk also took us by beautiful homes perched at the edge of Lake Ontario with beautiful landscaping. The lake was beautiful: the breeze kept the lake a little choppy so the water birds were bobbing around, and off shore we saw a huge Great Lakes freighter and some kind of research vessel. I was able to chat with some lovely people who were outside enjoying the afternoon - some friends and some just friend-ly. We stumbled upon a tiny fat baby woodchuck, and that sure did distract the dogs for a bit, but soon we were back on track, heading toward home for dinner.

Walks like that don't happen enough. There are always excuses but the bottom line is that both my dogs and I benefit mentally and physically from taking an hour to just breath and move and see and smell. I want to say I am going to make it a daily habit, but I know that can't be. 'Like tonight - I won't be home before 7:00. Sigh.

But yesterday was perfect.

I found this (blurry) photo on ebay of a bottle of Mom's perfume!
I remember it sitting on her dressing table ... holy cow.
my pups last winter when we were trapped inside most days

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Wheat Musings

Okay, so I know that feeding my dogs wheat causes them to shed like crazy because of allergies. As a result, I invest in wheat/corn/soy free dog food and see the positive results. I am currently examining my own health and the fact that I feel addicted to food - especially wheat based food. Hmmm so can I possibly cut wheat from my diet (challenging!!) and then will it make me feel better and possibly lose some of these extra pounds? I am going to find out.

Meanwhile I have been doing some investigating, reading articles about both wheat and gluten, and I have decided that I am not going gluten-free, just wheat free. Below is a great article about the history of wheat and how we've essentially ruined the health benefits by modernizing it.

GRAINSTORM | What's wrong with modern wheat?

This is like crack to me, a serious wheat addict! 

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Vakay 2014

We booked our vacation for December and we are psyched! We wanted affordable, on the beach, with a pool, and a "home" atmosphere instead of a hotel. We have been very lucky with VRBO in the past, so we went searching there again and we found what appears to be a gem.

As we are traveling during a holiday week (darn school calendar) the prices that begin as semi-affordable go WAY up and out of site. Bummer. But after much searching and comparing we found a reasonably priced villa on St. Maarten on Cupecoy Beach. Here's the description:

Cupecoy Villa Description
This villa is located in the Heart of St. Maarten’s Gold Coast Cupecoy Beach and is one of only 8 ocean front villas in the complex known as Ocean Club Villas. This ocean front villa has the most spectacular views of the turquoise Caribbean Ocean the island of St. Maarten has to offer along with a personal sand beach at your feet.

The villa has three generously large air conditioned bedrooms, two on the second floor level and one that encompasses the entire third floor, all with private patios enjoying spectacular views of the Caribbean Sea as well as some of the most spectacular sunsets. Each bedroom features bathrooms en suite with ceiling fans throughout.

In addition to an excellent beach for swimming, and snorkeling, there is a large freshwater pool for the exclusive use of the Ocean Club residents. There is a private beach walkway to experience one of the islands best kept beaches known as Cupecoy Beach. Guests are well looked after by a friendly and efficient staff. And for those who want to take in the true beauty of the island, a rental car is highly recommended.

The villa is just a 5 minute ride from the airport and within walking distance to the Atlantis Casino as well as many shops and boutiques at the Porto-Cupecoy which is a Mediterranean style marina village and Italian plaza. You are just a 2 minute walk to the largest indoor shopping mall on the island known as the “Blue Mall.” This mall is now open with 85 Retail Shops, 10 Restaurants, and a Supermarket.
You can watch the cruise ships sail in and out, view the neighboring islands of Saba, St. Eustatius, St. Kitts, and on a clear day Statia. Or just enjoy the breath-taking sunsets all from your own patio. So, create the vacation of your life here at “Blue Water Paradise!”

This past year has been very challenging with a couple of tragic family losses as well as the stress of building the new house. This trip should be prescribed by a doctor and paid for by health insurance :)

The photos look amazing:

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Winter Tree Silhouettes

I am nearly finished with painting trees on either side of my fireplace, and I am pretty thrilled with the results. Originally I looked for decals that would work, but nothing was large enough, so I made my own trees on the computer and copied them to a transparency sheet so I could draw them with an overhead projector. I then used a paint color that is called "Perfect Greige" by Sherwin Williams. The wall colors are "Natural Choice", so the contrast is there but it isn't too striking. It came as a pleasant surprise to see that my trees are really the same color as the trees outside my window :)

(Ultimately there will be cabinets on either side of the mantel which will cover the very bottoms of the trees, and ultimately there will be a couch - after we sell our other house!)

drawn in Photoshop, printed on transparency
projected on wall
first drawn in pencil, then painted with small brush

Friday, January 17, 2014

St. Joseph

I am showing our house tomorrow, and we really need to sell it. I heard the story about St. Joseph being able to help us in our sale but I do not have a statue, so instead I am going to bury a print of his statue in a plant in the house. I will report the results. Fingers crossed!!

Read more here about this house selling tip.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Studio vs Farm

I am a bit uncertain how I am going to decide what posts go on which blog.

"Studio" comes from the concept of art and creation and writing and photography. "Farm", of course, implies animals.

Studio goals include writing and teaching private art lessons. Farm goals include breeding Nigerian Dwarf goats and Holland Lops for 4H kids. My animal posts used to always be part of my studio blog, but now I'm thinking I should move all animal posts to the farm blog? That sounds right, I think. So it's settled:

Farm Blog: all things animals and our physical location
Studio Blog: all other topics creative and interesting

And now for some JUXTAPOSITION: