Sunday, October 9, 2016

Crispy leaves and lovely weekends

Fall has come late to the Northwoods this year, and this is a bit sad. Weather conditions have made our lovely fall color a bit dreary.  Apparently TONS of water, extended warm weather, humidity (yes - it has been humid up here) has taken its toll on the trees and they are stressed.  But, there is some color, because, ya know, we have an awful lot of trees up here- and though the reds are not apparent, there is orange and yellow. 

What amazing color in the sky this weekend

I went kayaking last weekend, and it was remarkable. To be on Butternut Lake this late in the season was a definite perk of the above mentioned weather conditions.  There were SO many boats on the water, it seems that fishing must be good.  I don't know, I don't pay attention to such things.  I went with my friend and co-worker Lisa on Butternut Lake.  We did not see the eagle like usual, and not a ton of other birds- other than a few jittery ducks.  There were duck hunters lurking about, they were probably nervous....  Like the decidedly jumpy blue heron that couldn't decide where to land.

Butternut Lake

This weekend, though, I did a bunch of things here at home.  Even if it was beautifully sunny, I did a lot of things in the house.  I always feel more energetic when the sun is glowing and skies are blue, so I did some purging of stuff from my bedroom and did some cooking to use up and preserve some of the veggies from the garden.  And I went for a 4.5 mile walk Saturday and hit up the gym this morning.  And though I procrastinated until this afternoon, I also made some  grape juice that will eventually become grape jelly.  The grapes were crazy this year- they apparently appreciated the weather even if our trees did not!

Just enjoying the scenery

Homecoming is done at school now- THANK HEAVEN- if you speak to me regularly, you will know that homecoming stresses me out.  The frequent interruptions, the feeling that children are stalking me, and just the general over-the-top excitement make me twitchy.  No one was ever rude or anything, but I am going to be glad to not have that waiting for me at school.  We really have such a nice student body at the high school.  

Flambeau River

 I have been doing a lot of new lessons- including the intro to photography unit that I did for my Intro to Art class. That meant that I was doing a LOT of talking and I do mean a lot!!  I do not like to stand up there an lecture, but fortunately- this was photography.  And they learned a smidge about filters and editing and composition and they got to play on their computers for a while when I wrapped up the lessons.  With a purpose!  I am so pleased with this unit.  I have added a layer of composition concepts that I will continue through the semester.  I had a couple of my photog friends allow me to use their images for my presentation, and they really added a lot of depth to my images.  It was amazing how much I learned by interpreting and discussing compositional elements in the photographs by these fine photographers.  I doubt they read this, but thank you to Kelly Marquardt and Derek Ace for allowing me to use your shots.

Some late evening color
This school year is sort of weird.  The previous years I've had this particular configuration of elementary and High School (and I have had a LOT of configurations), I've had the ability to catch up with my elementary grading/record-keeping/cleaning up and the like on Wednesday.  Monday, I prep for the week, and Friday I break down the supplies from this week and plan for the following week.....  Well, unfortunately, I have this year an additional class and one hour less prep time.  :/  While I of course enjoy the children (little little children), this additional class is not good for my mental health. I'm so stressed out by Friday I am almost catatonic.  I don't have one minute that I  am getting ready for something or cleaning up after something else.  I am BLESSED to have 2-3 high school students who come down to help me a few times a week.  I would never get anything up on the walls if I didn't have them.  It just wouldn't happen.  And then there are the things that I have to do that I have no choice in....  that is annoying too.  At least the days go fast I guess.  

Feed me

Anyway, fall has kicked in and one way I know THAT for sure is that the MA is back doing his thing at the wreath and Christmas tree ranch.  With this extended grow season, the entire garden didn't get ripped out yet, and I am not sure where I am going to plant next years garlic next week...  And now there is a lot of dead stuff ie: beans, basil and tomato carcasses, that will need to be cleaned up.  um... yeah, no.  I won't be doing that most likely.  After my days, additional things that involve a lot of walking just doesn't happen.  Unless it is for my mental health- a walk to the stone house, or some similar route.  But we shall see.  I might feel ambitious.

Frost and fog

The giant wasp nest

I have a few things coming up here in the next month or so, all joyful things I will have you know!  :)  And hopefully a quick trip to Bayfield will begin it all next weekend.  I have a few things I need to do there!  :D

I began this post in the late afternoon and am just finishing it at bedtime.  Pretty typical.  Lol.  I hope you all have a good week.  Full of light and color and joy!  

Saturday, September 24, 2016

High school win

I don't write a ton about my art teaching on this blog, it seems that when I want to- I am at school.  If I wanted to write on this blog there, I would have to sign out of google on my school account and sign in on my personal account.  And let me tell you - to try and get both of my emails back into the tabs of my computer at school is a royal PITA. I am able, by some sorcery, to have up both of my email accounts available in tabs**, so if I sign out of my school account- bad things happen.  SO, therefore I do not write at school on Blogger.  I thought I was solving all sorts of issues by getting an older iPad to use at school, but turns out google decided to take the Blogger app OFF of the app store- what the ever living hell?????  And the nightmare that ensues to try to post from Safari on Blogger at school is not worth it.  So I take pictures with my phone for now and try to keep up to date on my school blog.....  My plan always is to work on it at home.


 If you have lately looked at my school blog, well you will see how well that particular plan works.  So until I get a handle on that, oy.... idk.  

4 very cool phone designs and their selfies

Anyway, since I am apparently in a writing mood, I want to show all of you these VERY cool things that my Intro to Art students are doing.  Turns out I have a very creative bunch of freshmen.  **YAAAAAYYYYYY** I'm so freaking lucky!!!  

I begin my Intro to Art class with a design unit.  This has many reasons, one of the main ones is that they don't have to worry yet about drawing.  Which makes many kids nervous when they get to high school, though they are perfectly good drawers.  I have several set "mini lectures", and one of them is about the fact that if they were perfect drawers, they wouldn't necessarily need art class!!  I love those little aha moments that they have when I tell them that....

So anyway, I begin with a Zentangle design, which is pretty nonthreatening, and then proceed to a design project that includes the elements of design.  It is a way to start deliberately using compositional techniques by knowing what they are using.....  Some students are very intuitive and get it, but it helps to know what you are dealing with. Most kids need to actually know the list in order to use them to their full potential.  This is a good way for me to get to know the kids, their abilities and build up trust.  Trust is a thing that if you don't have with your students, certainly in art, then you might as well give them a text book and let them wing it.

I could tell I had a high functioning (artistically) group of students in my intro classes, and so I wanted to push them a little. Plus also I came up with this new lesson to bridge the design lesson with the new intro to photography unit that I am doing with them next.  What could be more engaging that designing something for their phone and give them absolute freedom to make their selfie look like they want???  Not much!

So I presented the assignment and I saw the look of terror on some of those faces...  I had to laugh a little.  The trust isn't complete yet, they don't know me like they will- and actually like they do now that they have completed the assignment.  I had to tell the poor, panicking kiddos that indeed I had not given them one moment of instruction on drawing a face.  So how would I expect them to draw a fantastic realistic portrait??  My idea was to allow them to either cartoon or try to do the realism.  TOTALLY lets them off the hook and allows them to relax and design the phone case- with freedom.  The selfie could have been shown with a filter, or with other students, or what have you, and they had the choice of their backgrounds, all that good stuff.  I did impromptu lessons on colored pencil techniques, drawing upside down with a photo, composition things.....  it was stellar!!

The top selfie is from a student who went to Italy with my group!  His I recognize as the stop we made overlooking Sorrento!  (or possibly on the top of the Island of Capri)

The results blew me away.  I now wish I had thought to take more pictures- other solutions to this problem were very different and just as effective.  Gives me goosebumps.  I'm so excited to get to school every day and see what these folks can do.

Their trust that I won't embarrass them, judge them harshly, or make them feel less than gives them the courage to try out hard things. Without their trust they would never even attempt things that seem difficult.  The Mrs.O they had in elementary school is not the Mrs. O that they have in high school.  Art every day is a far different situation than grade school, and they seem to respond positively to me.  And I am delighted to share my mornings with them.

Trust is something that takes time, and consistency, and effort on my part and I hope to never let them down.  We have a lot more to do and it will involve taking chances.  There are a lot of life lessons that happen in the guise of art, and I hope that I prepare them in some small way for some of the choices that they will have. I say over and again- from intro through advanced art,  the easy things in life (and art)  are not the most satisfying.  It is the hard stuff- the things you struggle with,  the things you really have to work on- they are the most memorable.  They are the things that in the end give you the most joy.

**As you can imagine, I am a tab person and I have a ton of them UP and open on my Safari.... don't judge me!  Lol

My favorite time


luxuriously relaxed
at peace

All descriptors I thought of this morning whilst drinking my coffee.  A sleepy person shuffling through the kitchen setting up the machine that will bring the first true joy of the day.  Smelling the grounds, tasting the brew.....  Ahhhh.

When I sat down in the quiet, I thought about how the rest of the day never feels like this.  I won't feel like this again until tomorrow morning.  My brain revs up and presents things to me that make me uncomfortable.  I experience demands on my time that I really would rather ignore.  My day requires the concept of adult to be applied....  My weekends are so precious again....

Coffee will never taste as good, the silence will never be as complete, my mind will not be at peace as in the early morning.  While I always feel like I want to sleep longer, I value my wake up time in the living room more.  There are very VERY few people I enjoy sharing this time with- which sounds selfish, but hey!  It is the truth. Grandchildren!  I'd take any and all of them to snuggle and sit with.

This the time when I write the best, when I think the clearest and when I am the most at peace.  My morning routine is my meditation and it is when I set my intentions for the day and when my first real strong feelings begin to occur- I always hope for the joy to crop up first.  Sometimes it doesn't, but most often yes.

My zen is the morning.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

And now for a moment of cute from the Mad Art Teacher

I will say in regards to the school year starting- there has been a lot of funny and cute things said to and around me.  The High School kids are just hilarious, they are all still relaxed and not overly stressed out and so all is well.  I have also gotten a ton of compliments on my wardrobe already, which is always a hoot.  Coming from those lovely girls....  I'll take it
And I see a clean art room yet!

Anyway, in the elementary art classroom things are always lively, shall we say, and seriously I have to dash to my desk to grab a pen next time some kid says something hilarious, as those moments do not last long in my memory before they are pushed out by other thing more urgent.

fingerprinting with the kindergarten!  I have no fear!  :)

I do have emblazoned in my mind a very recent discussion with a very sweet and hilarious little guy who told me that I was in his comic book....  yessiree folks, I have super powers!  Of course we always knew that, but now I even have better ones and it is apparently in "print"!  :)  When asked why I was in his comic book, I was informed that of course I was because I was one of his favorite teachers and all his favorite people are in his comic book. (I swear all of this is true)

Also, I can control the blind people of the world  (I promise to use my powers for good) (this is not as bad as it kind of sounds- he means no harm)  AND even better!!!  I CAN FLY AND WALK THROUGH WALLS!!! I hope to begin using my new found abilities forthwith.  This child and I have big plans!! Lol.

I can not tell you how many smiles this has given me in the last day or so.  I am honored!  This does not happen every day.

Meanwhile, I am sleepy and my bed is calling....  sleep well everyone!

Finding my joy, a sunset, and green tomatoes

Beginning a new school year always presents some challenges, but over all this one has been going pretty well.  I have huge High School classes, but they are a really great group over all.  We have (as a staff) been intervening immediately on some children who need a little extra attention- so the usual has had a little extra added to it.  But that is ok, if we can help a student be successful, it's worth all the extra time.

Here is the sunset promised in the Title!  Lol random I know.
There have been some changes as there always is and I will just say the biggest change at school seems to be a very positive one.  I hold off judgement until later in the school year, but so far so good.  I don't mean to sound vague, but as you can imagine, one doesn't want to divulge information that should be kept at work, or pluck at things that are just unimportant.

I'm also reworking my schedule to get my workouts in, which I love to do, so I do fit them in..... you know what is sad?  The fact that the days are getting so short and the sun is setting a bit after 7.  Sigh.  But can't do anything to stop the rhythms of nature.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, er, garden-- there is a huge bounty of veggies that are bursting out of the fence practically.  We all need to join hands and send out massive wishes that it does not frost before this weekend, as some of us have no energy to do anything with garden produce during the week.  The tomatoes are doing really well, and it is tricky to get them off the vine a bit ripe, but before the slugs decide to descend on them.

Veering off into another direction here-  because I am easily distracted and I need to write this to release it.

So an "interesting" thing that I have noticed.  I really think lately that I have been losing a bit of my joy.  I have been involved in a few minor little situations where people took my words or actions in a negative way.  Which made me recently have a moment of thinking that perhaps I am not as nice as I think I am.  Maybe I am turning into a cranky person, who is intolerant of anything but what I want to do myself....  I seriously had this conversation with myself.  **eyeroll** That is because I am so non-confrontational I immediately blame myself when I am involved in a disagreement--- and of course there are always 2 sides to every story.

And for your viewing pleasure, sunset number 2!
I am not writing this to talk about whether or not I am right or wrong or nice or crabby...  What I do want to say is that somewhere along the line, I lost sight of the important things.  I recently listened to a podcast that discussed the comforts of rituals, which basically are methods of deep self care and I realized that I had dropped most of mine.  And I am a person who needs ritual, and routine and habits because most of my day is not routine at all.  I am sensitive to the emotions of the people around me and always ready to listen to my kids talk about their day and their life, so I need to take  time to ground myself.

Anyway, if you have gotten this far into this particular blogpost, thanks for sticking with it.  I know everyone has crap that happens in their life, but this little combination of things brought into focus that I need to pull myself back onto my joyful path.  And whatever that path is, I will be myself.  Sometimes, that person is someone who is not agreeable and pliable and cooperative.  And there are some in this world who need to know that even if my face shows every inward groan or grimace it doesn't mean that I won't do what needs to be done.  I just really resent the idea that I am not "allowed" to disagree.  Because I will.  But I prefer to find my joy.

I guess my take away here is to really be aware of what and WHO is causing these little events in life.  Some of these peeps are seriously not worth my time, and though I can be a teensy bit obsessive about things, I can set those aside.  Others- well, those others will find out that they may not dictate how I react or feel.  I will be myself, even if it doesn't fit into a nice little mold of who they think the Mad-Art teacher is..... because as we all know art teachers are messy and spill out of molds ALL. THE. TIME.  And you just never know where that color is going to land and who it will splash onto-- and they will enjoy it in spite of themselves, because that is just how I roll.  ;)

Have a LOVELY Tuesday, I hope you can enjoy these waning days of summer that are quickly turning to fall.  Except of course if you live in the warmer climes, then enjoy your continuing summer.  Which if you are still in the 80's that is swimming weather and get yo' self outside and have fun. While we up here pray to the weather gods that it doesn't frost up here in the Northwoods- we still have an awful lot of green tomatoes.  However  you do it, even if it bugs the crap out of some people in your life, find your joy today and stay true to you!  <3

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Back to it

New beginnings- a new year to come.  A friend of mine said she felt like this is way more like "New Year" than Jan. 1 and I definitely agree.  In January nothing changes, really, but today, everything does.  

We all teach, but there are new kids, new classes, new dynamics.  If you are like me, there are new lessons and ideas,  new co-workers in some cases.  As a rule this is good, unless, like me this morning you roll over, look at the time, get up and literally as you SIT UP you remember something you did NOT do yesterday.  sigh.  So I will be leaving for work slightly early.  I should have time to make up this presentation, as I don't have to have it until this afternoon.  It would have helped to look at my to do list, but I relied on my "memory".  Oy.

Anyway, I met some interesting and enthusiastic new 9th graders yesterday.... lets just say that there are some kids that are going to fit nicely into my art department.  Cute- it is all just so cute.  I also got several enthusiastic hugs in the hall - which I totally love as well.

So, I don't want to spend too much time here this morning, as I have to get myself up and going and get ready and the MA always wants to take my picture by the door like we did for the kids when they were growing up.  He's such a maniac sometimes. Lol.

I am really tired this morning, we had open house last night until 7:30- in retrospect, perhaps having a day in between may have been a good idea- which is what we used to do.  The calendar really should be determined by the people who live it.....  and I will leave that idea laying there by itself.

So, my next cup of coffee is calling, and I have my clothes ready for me, and it is going to be a beautiful day.  New beginnings.

And from where I am standing, it is the start of a joyful new year!

Monday, August 29, 2016

HEY! New school year!---- you're on deck

Holy smokes I am exhausted right now...  It isn't so much the fact that I hauled myself out of bed indeed before 5 am (because I am crazy, that is why) but the fact that I ended up with 2 kayak sessions yesterday for a grand total of 9.3 miles or something to that effect....

Clouds began to breakup and the sun did indeed come out!
While I am certainly capable of going 9 plus miles in a kayak, I had also done a nice little weight lifting session on Saturday and concentrated on my shoulders, abs and arms. So, yeah, I feel MY triceps this morning.  And when I do fairly heavy workouts like that, I do not sleep well.  Because I wake up all the time and rearrange myself and fall fitfully back to sleep and then rinse and repeat.  I believe I got up at 1:30 and took ibu- evidence left on the kitchen counter points to that conclusion.  Lol.

This blue heron proved to be a little sneaky, but Lisa spotted him in a tree
It was a GORGEOUS day for kayaking though.  Both times!  I went on Butternut Lake with the Mad-Lisa friend in the morning.  We didn't see the eagle, as per usual, in the tree of choice- but we did scare up a blue heron and then followed the thing over to the other side of the lake.  And we founded him!!  YAY!  While there were a lot of fishing boats on the lake, it was pretty peaceful and nice.  Perfect temps, only light breezes- water therapy at its best.

The clouds were quite amazing- I was wishing for my wide-angle lens
Last night, the MA sprung it on me that he wanted to kayak with me--- so I am INCAPABLE of saying no to that, so off we went to Smith Lake.  I found some ducks and a loon and some fishermen- but only one boat full.  It was super nice last night and the river was like glass.  And then we got back in time to FaceTime with the Mad-Oldest son and his lovely family.  With those two girls, that can be quite the entertaining event.  Ava is starting to crawl around and Ella gets increasingly silly as she gets more tired....  It is quite enjoyable.  hehehe

Young mergansers
Anyway, I do realize the post title says something about school- so yeah, we have full-fledged, sitting-all-day, summer-ending meetings..... today and tomorrow.  And then there is Open House on Wednesday with school beginning on Sept.1.  I've just resigned myself to the meetings, as they must be morally obligated to "improving our teaching" or some such thing.  There is a session this morning that seems will be pertinent and sometime in the next 2 days I get to collaborate on curriculum with my compadre from the Glidden school- so there is that!!  I just hope that I have enough breathing room to keep working on my lesson plans.  I used to be able to have a semester worth of plans ready- but that was when I only taught elementary school.  So I retain that panic of not having more than the first 3 weeks pencilled in.  Though I know that is ridiculous and no one has a whole semester ready, unless they do the same thing all the time.  Which I am incapable of doing.  Which reminds me, I have a brand new first day of art for the elementary school in the works (I always love finding new stuff like this) and I have a HUGE amount of paper cutting that needs to be done- any volunteers???  Lol, just asking'!

This guy showed up unexpectedly right in front of me!  The light last night was lovely
Hey, when did it occur that it is so dark at 5am??  I know that there are clouds and an impending Thunderstorm, but wth is with that??  I think I am in seasonal denial.

A pair of fishermen were spotted- I have other photos- I just found this one interesting how the people pop out and the rest is sort of hazy-- and I see its a touch crooked.  oops.

Anyway, I have to finish this up and go do a few things- at least I do not have to dress up today.  That will be coming soon enough!

So, make this day a joyful one.  I, for one, will be avoiding the joy-stealers that lurk about the area.... I am going to make the best of the day if I possibly can.  Happy Monday!