Sunday, November 20, 2016

Warm thoughts....

We knew it would happen.  We knew that winter would find us..... yet we were all so happy about this  warm weather.  And then BAM.  You guys it is cold out there.  Holy crap cold- the high being lower than the lows last week cold.  But since the "we" I am referring to are the people of the north, we will adjust pretty quickly- as soon as we grudgingly drag our winter coats out of the back of the closet and move them to a more prominent location.  Oh well.  And at some point there could be gloves involved but let's not get over excited yet.


That being said, I barely left the house all weekend.  I went to the grocery store- twice- but that is about it.  I did go to the gym yesterday, for a while, but my silly foot is still a bit sore so like a logical human being, I am going to let it heal another day or two.

Ancient ruins in the old part of Roma
So what happened to my foot you might ask?  Well, I am just going to say that a heavy thin object dropped straight down on it, and I have a very interesting coloration on my big toe and the top of my foot right now.  Stuff happens.  The nice thing is that I am now wise enough to let it heal and not think- I am going to ignore this and press on and exhaust myself!!  Foot be damned!!  nope. Not this time.  I'll give it a few days and then get back at it.  My toe still is not thrilled to be curled up or to be used to push off or hold my balance well.  So, wait I will.

I love how the restaurants in Italy have people out on the street enticing you to come in. 
That is the nice thing about being done with the craziness of dieting, over-exercising and crap like that.  You can listen to your actual body and do the right thing for it.  And "strangely" it allows you to live your life like you want and need!  So I will need to go for a somewhat extended walk soon, I am thinking Wednesday will be a good day, and a little weightlifting as well.  I need to stay strong for my adventures!
Ostia Antica

Any who,  I have been doing a little photo editing whilst cleaning out my Lightroom program.  I am attempting to stay on top of things and not let pictures that I absolutely will never use, print, publish or in anyway need, build up in my Lightroom catalog.  I am being drawn in again to my Italy pictures.  Next time I go there, and there WILL be a next time, I will be taking more time to see things more slowly.  And be able to take pictures more carefully. We packed a lot of living into that trip, but I need to be able to have more time in just a few places.  Venice, Florence and a few more places in the north are high on my priority list.

I was enraptured by all the different sorts of marble- this blew me away
I definitely want to see more of the US and NEED to visit England and Germany as well, so I have a lot of things in the queue for the next several summers.  So if I seem crabby when people try to schedule my time off, that is definitely why.  I have tentative plans for next summer that involve a new ocean for me and a new coast.  :)

IONIC COLUMN TOP!!!!!! This one **may** have been caressed 
I look at the pictures and think about how excited I was for that trip.  The build-up was spectacular and I hope I didn't drive my friends crazy.  The trip itself was SO good, the weather was amazing, albeit super warm.  Then the dreamy high of coming home and trying to describe the feeling and color and tastes and smells was sublime.  I wonder if I will ever have THAT much anticipation again. Will I ever feel so deeply the excitement of flying so far, being immersed in a country where you do not know the language, finding a culture that is so different and yet seems very comfortable and easy. I hope so. I know that every time I do something new- I get a thrill that is the best feeling imaginable.  I know I stare in awe and wonder, I cry if I am moved, touch everything that I am allowed to,  I eat all the interesting food that I can (I still can't eat a frozen pizza- just no) and revel in the new.  If I ever become nonchalant I will know I need to push out of my comfort zone, yet again.

Starting and ending this post with Wisconsin beauty

Because I find when I am out of my safe and easy comfort zone, that is when I often find the most joy.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Loss of words

I have had a massive writers block lately, for a variety of reasons.  Some of the biggest reasons are the political and social happenings that are in the news right now.  I can't even with them.  And here is the thing- I have been reticent to say anything about what is going on because I didn't want to get slammed from either side of the aisle.  I have VERY good friends who hang out on the right and the left side of this political scene and I just don't want to get into it with any one.  (I do discuss politics with one person, but that is literally it) If you know me well at all, you know that it gives me anxiety.  I am not sure why but it does, and I know when I am consistently anxious bad things happen to my health.  So, I choose not to participate.  As you can imagine, with all the stupidity going on right now, you can't help but think about it and participate to at least a small degree.  Ugh.

So here is the thing- I have allowed the opinions of others to dictate some of the ways I have been feeling and what I have been doing.  Of course that is not out of the ordinary seeing we are a social animal.  But I have been paralyzed by thoughts that have run through my mind over and over and over about certain people and situations.  I've been caught in a real mental trap, and this morning I woke up and decided I can't let these things rule me anymore.

I've sort of had a perfect storm of family, friend, and public issues pop up and I've had to medicate myself to sleep.  I worry I am doing the right thing, will it "look" right to people I care about, am I doing enough for some of them, and generally stressing out about everything and everyone.  While I will not stop worrying completely about a lot of this, because if you know me- then you KNOW that won't happen, I will go on about my business as I see fit.  And if you think I am referring to you specifically- don't assume.  You are most likely wrong.

There are circles I participate in where I am quite vocal about not letting the opinion of others influence what you do or don't do.  Much of that has to do with body image and what you do or don't eat and such things like that. Deciding that how you look is your business, and not that of others- especially driven by media based ideas of worthy.  And if you imagine that someone is "judging" you, you need to do what is right for you, not for them.  So life decided to serve my own words up on a silver platter for me this morning when that aha moment crystalized.

So today I am going to be working on my joy again.  It has to happen- I can't continue being on edge and on alert and feeling unsafe.  So, off I go- I hope you have found your joy today too.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

BEST day

I have been known to set myself up for disappointment at times.  I expect things to be perfect and every one happy and I will get great gifts and people will be loving the ones I gave them- yes I am talking to you Christmas!  I generally prefer Thanksgiving because I definitely can cook, and that is really all any one really wants is a yummy meal and pie for heavens sakes.  Pie.  For. Days.  I actually have the remains of a pie in my frig- apple/cranberry and that is a definite yes sort of a pie!

Morning light + fog + a few bright leaves+ a deer= typical wisconsin
So here I am at 4:46 on a day when I really could be sleeping in, but no.  No my brain has been doing stupid things when it comes to sleeping and it was awake.  I even did a little weightlifting and then walked 6 plus miles yesterday, did yard work and everything.....  one would think one would sleep well.  But one would be wrong.  My mind was twitchy last night and I am not sure why.

From the downtown LaCrosse area just off the Mississippi
Anyway, I am getting off track and I am actually writing this about the last day of Daylight Savings Time.  We all know everyone is going to complain about it and trying to get their sleep schedule back and all, especially in April (raises hand)  (is it April??) when we lose that hour.  But boy this is a nice day.  It doesn't hurt that the unnaturally warm weather will let me do what I want outside.

I know I am sort of on an island about this, but I really really love the way the day sort of drags on.  It is Sunday and the weekend and we all are needing a little tiny bit longer weekend.  I know I do!

The river walk in Lacrosse is so beautiful
This year is intense- my days at school go so fast and everyone needs everything now.  Everyone is impatient.  It seems rare for me to be able to sit back or lean on a table and chit chat with the kids....  and this week I have a thing that I have to do with a few of my student's artwork and it must be done by basically Thursday night.  Color me annoyed, lets just put it that way.

But things come up that are interesting and unexpected and that keeps me thinking and challenged and that is perfect.

So I am going to go sip my coffee and read a book and enjoy a little extra time doing not a whole lot of anything....  And here are a few pictures for your viewing pleasure.

I was quite taken with the beautiful bridge that goes over the Mississippi 

Enjoy your Sunday!  I like to treat this day like a snowy- purely (well, mostly) for things I want to do.  And that will be a joy....

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Just the thing

Here it is already the 25 of October and I have only blogged once.  I tell you- this school year is insane.  And this weirdly warm weather has kept me participating in the outside activities that keep my from computer.  Which, you know, is fine too. Mostly when I do sit down at night,  I can barely think, so blogging is not high on the list of things I can do without actual functioning brain power.

Arms full of girlies

Last week I took a lil trip to LaCrosse, WI for the Wisconsin Art Ed Association Art convention for 2 days.  It was a super trip and there is a lot of new stuff that is in my art teaching trunk of  goodies.  And then after that was done, I drove on down to Janesville and spent a little downtime with the Mad-oldest son and his lovely wife Sarah Grace, and of course the grand girls from the south.  OH my, this was exactly what I needed.

The Mississippi River at 7 am- did the 5K!

This is incredibly big- the pic does no justice 
The first 6 weeks of school have been intense and fast.  I literally never sit down, except for Fridays when I grade my high school kids during class time.  The days go so fast and I, being the person that I am, like to do new things and of course that means even more time making new stuff.  And throw in a new class with an hour less prep time and there for less time to do more....  oy.  But whatev.

Chatted with the keynote speaker- Cassie Stephens.
I really don't know that I have ever felt so completely relaxed after a time away as I was this time.  I am not sure why, but it recharged my batteries like never before.  LaCrosse is pretty stress-free.  Not a huge town, easy to navigate, really great scenery (Mississippi River, people!) and some good eats and drinks....  then of course there was that whole grandchildren thing for a couple days!

That bridge!

We had a great time going to the Enchanted Forest - which was an evening, lit-with-candles walk from fairy tale to fairy tale, with a twist!  And we saw a science festival earlier in the day. Combine with some power shopping in the afternoon, and a little Mexican food in the evening before the night walk and you have a great day!

I went to school feeling super great and actually, I have recovered pretty quickly from the last few days.  The end of the quarter comes this Friday and we are all working towards getting the kids caught  up with their work and finish up grading and such.  Boy do I have a pile of stuff to grade.

Anyway, I know I have done other things this month- coughahemBayfield- but I am now too tired to think of what those things were, but there is always tomorrow!  :)

Which is true of life for the most part- there IS always tomorrow.  And that is sure to be a joy.

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.