Wednesday, February 28, 2007

a vision

a moment

of electric-stand-out-messy

you paused in the swirling shadows
blown by snowflake gusts
a little shivery, breathless (with a half-smile)

until i'm breathless, leaning forward
with the need for you
to step into the harsh
white winter
of your windswept balcony

a silver-lighted moment
a ray reaches down, dazzles, splintering
on your shoulders

a brief glint
in the secret dark eyes is what stays with me
as you step through the door
again into the shadows

(a dense hot star spinning past my quiet orbit)

a walk at dusk

...with my camera.

I've driven past this house for 2 years and today was the first day i noticed this intricate, delightful detailing on the bannister.

this is the type of thing that warms my heart. i saw several posters on main street advertising this golden-eyed kitten than had been FOUND.

my trees and the evening sky:

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

ceramics update


and this

are inspirations for my technique today. all the hand-built bowls i made a few weeks ago have come through their first firing. tonight i painted each one all over with red iron oxide wash. then i glazed only the insides of each, some with white, and some with a nice green.

hopefully i'll have results in a week or two to see how it turned out. meanwhile, i really need to be making much more pottery. the semester is 1/3 over. i need to shelve everything else and focus on pottery while i've got the use of the studio at school.

Friday, February 23, 2007

from a movie:

a newly widowed father questions his son about his sadness...

Daniel: So what's the problem, Sammy-o? Is it just Mum or is it something else? Maybe... school - are you being bullied? Or is it something worse? Can you give me any clues at all?
Sam: You really want to know?
Daniel: I really want to know.
Sam: Even though you won't be able to do anything to help?
Daniel: Even if that's the case, yeah.
Sam: OK. The truth is actually... I'm in love.
Daniel: Sorry?
Sam: I know I should be thinking about Mum all the time, and I am. But the truth is I'm in love and I was before she died, and there's nothing I can do about it.
Daniel: Aren't you a bit young to be in love?
Sam: No.
Daniel: Oh, OK, right. Well, I'm a little relieved.
Sam: Why?
Daniel: Well, you know - I thought it might be something worse.
Sam: [incredulous] Worse than the total agony of being in love?
Daniel: Oh. No, you're right. Yeah, total agony.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

thursday, feb. 22nd, 2007

for some reason i'm not writing much here lately. maybe it's that i've been making an effort to create, rather than observing the creativity of others (via their blogs, primarily).

i drove to a really great antique store last week--i discovered it a while ago and this was only my second visit. i arrived about 15 minutes before closing time. however during the few minutes i was in the store, i realized that it made me feel realy good to be in there amongst all the old things. i didn't particularly have the urge to buy anything, i just wanted to touch and smell and look at all the things from a simpler, more innocent time.

i also went on a crafty/art supply shopping rampage & bought an ink pad, rubber stamps, watercolors, fabric, wire, marker, pencils, paintbrushes, and a black box which i decoupaged with the stamps i stole from mom last summer.

last night i took a walk and nearly tripped over a tree branch in the street. i picked it up and carried it home and now it is suspended above my bed--quite the sight--but really very lovely sculpturally, i think.

i'm figuring out in my head how i'm going to create a hanging lampshade using twigs, wire, and fabric. it's either going to be a huge success or spectacularly hideous.

this coming weekend i'm going away a retreat with some of the folks i study the bible with. i have no idea what to expect but i'm hoping for the best.

i've been slaving away writing tests and grading them at work. ughh. it's really quite stressful to make a test an accurate assessment of the material, not too easy or too hard, free of errors that might cause confusion, free of ambiguities which raise problems when grading. then you photocopy them all, tote them to class, and hope that the review session last time was good enough to jog their memories. give them the test, and use the quiet time while they are working to feverishly grade other tests, and also revise the test you wrote for the upcoming class. after class, dash back to your computer, fix the mistakes you found, make two different forms of the same test, make sure the points add up to 100, shuffle the order so students won't be tempted to copy. print them, and as you're headed to the copier, someone reminds you that there's a meeting that it would be great for you to attend. but i promised my students to be available to them prior to the test, so after i make copies i go there instead and two students are there, with questions. i help them to prepare, worrying that i made the test too easy or too hard. i also chat with them a bit--one girl wants to join americorps, so i tell her a bit about the americorps volunteer who organized the new orleans trip.

when the time arrives to begin the calc test, i make sure that students have alternating versions of the test (in a computer classroom there is not enough space to have them sit far apart). there are also two parts to the test--part one with a computer/graphing calculator, and part two without.

i administer all this, as well as the fact that about 5 computers won't start, latecomers, while sitting in the back of the classroom because i want to be able to ensure they don't look up things on the internet while taking the test (they're good kids, but it's good for them to know that i'm watching, so temptation vanishes). back there, i grade more of the tests from the morning for the entire two hours.

near the end of the time, i realize that one student is still working on part I of the test! what??? so i tell him to hurry up and get to part two. a couple of other students didn't turn in their projects so when they finish their tests i confer with them about why, and agree to let them turn a project in late for partial credit. grading the projects is no fun, especially when the students didn't work with others and make all sorts of unbelievable errors and omissions.

when the students start showing up for the class after mine, i take the three students who aren't done yet back to my office and have them work there, while i continue to grade. when i'm done, i record the grades in a grade book. then i enter all the grades in the computer so I can give the students an estimate of their grades so far. i check the roster and find that there are a total of about 5 students who didn't show up for the tests. this means i will have to make special arrangements for them, which is another hassle. i actually phone two of the, but get answering machines, so i hang up. there are confidentiality issues--and you don't want parents getting involved.

my work is done for the day, so i pack up my bags and head out to the car for the 45 minute drive home. i know i have a good job, and believe me i work very hard to keep things as simple as possible, but sometimes it's still just a crazy amount of stress and work. i was at school from 9 am to 7 pm today, and i worked on writing the calculus test for 2-3 hours last night.

i watched office space two nights in a row. job quitting fantasies? that movie is pure fodder. but maybe--i should lay off the office space a bit. take a break for a couple of evenings.

tonight, i walked to the drugstore (which is also the liquor store) and bought wine. i'm trying to unwind. there's this throbbing in my temple as well as a tension in my neck and back.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

i'm working on perfecting my irish soda bread technique.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

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, in "The Summer Day"

isn't the truth that we'll spend most of our lives chewing food, washing the dishes, doing laundry, answering the phone, taking out the garbage, or buying toilet paper?

i think i'm arriving at a peace with this.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

new room

there's a huge snowstorm coming in. i can hear the flakes hitting the window. it's cozy to be home, even if i am accompanied by piles of work. i'm getting right to it, tho. well, except for blogging.

i rearranged the furniture in my room. the energy has shifted and feels fresh and new. i have a new space for working, which i mentally refer to as a studio:

the results? the table is now somewhat muddy from making 13 bowls, mugs, and pinch pots the other night. i also have my supplies handy for working on my scrapbook/journal, and what ever else comes up. the shell dangly thing over the collage on the right is string + irish shells:

here's the other side of the 'office':

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Friday, February 09, 2007

out of sight, out of mind

an anecdote circulated on our campus: a student was found dumping motor oil down a drain that empties into the reservoir adjacent to campus. he said "i didn't think it went anywhere."

it's not fun to think about where stuff goes. in my fantasy as soon as i plop the bag into the dumpster it vanishes into thin air--i'll never think of it again. my fantasy is that when something flows down the drain it's gone for good, but it goes SOMEWHERE.

water comes from my faucet, electricity flows from my outlets, gas appears at the gas pumps, groceries show up on the shelf. it's a little more troublesome to think about where it actually comes from.

i guess it just hit me that so much insensitivity to the environment is rooted in a fantasy that our modern consumerist world has perpetuated: "light at the flip of a switch!" "just flush and it's gone forever!"

it's just the good ol' law of conservation of matter: "matter changes form, but cannot be created nor destroyed" and conservation of energy: "energy can not be created (made from nothing), or destroyed (made to disappear to no-where)"

it seems to me that these ideas can be extended philosophically--everything anyone does has repercussions. everything is interconnected.

No man is an island, entire of itself
every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main
if a clod be washed away by the sea,
Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were,
as well as if a manor of thy friends or of thine own were
any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind
and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls
it tolls for thee.

-- John Donne

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

i love this picture

it says "fear could kill your heart"

Sunday, February 04, 2007

winter memories that glow

about 10 rambunctious friends that i know from a bible study come over friday night. we talk & each cheese, wine, & pears. one of them is an mk (missionary kid) from indonesia & new zealand. we compare notes. my photographs are complimented, and my keyboard is discovered, dragged out, and played by several people. warmth.

i drive to princeton to meet a new friend. after a long lunch in a wood-panelled pub, we walk across the campus, find a church with an open door and enter. dischordant, dramatic organ chords fill the dark soaring space. high up, very blue stained glass windows let in dim winter light. the tortured music rolls over me as i sit in a pew. gazing upward, i wonder what the organist's soul is feeling if what i hear is its expression. the ancient church seems filled with story.

a jazz improv session at the local coffee shop. i lug in a heavy bag, spread out my books on a table and bask in the rhythms that has everyone's fingers tapping, heads nodding with appreciation. there is a sense of community as we clap after each piece, but during the song i feel that each person is lost in a private reverie, far away, yet comforted by the saxophone and the taps of the drum.