Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Roses and More Roses

"If the rose puzzled its mind over the question how it grew, it would not have been the miracle that it is." ~ J B Yeats 1871-1957

I LOVE roses! It is my dream one day to have my own rose garden, but until then, I'll enjoy the beauty grown by others. These photos are from the courtyard of the Carriage House/Hotel La Rose, and from the Luther Burbank Gardens, both in Santa Rosa, California.

Up, Up and Away!

"When once you have tasted flight, you will forever walk the earth with your eyes turned skyward, for there you have been, and there you will always long to return."
-- Leonardo da Vinci

This quote was on the side of the trailer carrying one of the biggest surprises I've had in a long time. During our trip to California, David arranged for us to go on a hot air balloon ride. Although the day started out foggy, we were able to find clear skies in a nearby valley. Our pilot was absolutely wonderful, the scenery beautiful, and the champagne brunch that ended the adventure equally spectacular. The first few pictures are of the crew and male passengers setting up the balloon.

These next pictures are of other balloons being inflated, and flying...

Santa Rosa Celebrates Charlie Brown

"Life is like an ice-cream cone, you have to lick it one day at a time. "

Charles M. Schulz
as "Charlie Brown", Peanuts, cartoon stripUS cartoonist (1922 - 2000)

August 2005--Santa Rosa, California was home for Charlie Brown creator Charles M. Schulz, and to celebrate the 55th anniversary of the creation of the cartoon, 55 different Charlie Brown sculptures could be found throughout Santa Rosa. Here are a few of the ones we saw:

Monday, August 15, 2005

My Flower Garden Escape

Osteospernum...pale yellow, with a dark ring around the center

Moonbeam Coreopsis...tiny bursts of sunshine that keep returning to bring a smile to all who walk past.

Hollyhock from our farm in Missouri....old-fashioned beauty and simplicity.

By my downspout, these "johnny-jump-ups," or violas, seem to thrive in any location they choose to sprout.

Polka-dot centauras....dainty on their tall spindly stems, no longer existing in my flower garden, thanks to a rambunctious pup chasing a young skinny kitten.

My flower garden helps me escape, at least mentally throughout the summer. The planning and purchasing of new choices, and the moving of the ones that decide to return keep me busy through the early weeks of summer. As I watch my garden, I can't help but reflect on the past school year, and think to the year ahead. It dawns on me just how similar my gardening and my teaching really are. I start digging, all "gung-ho" at the beginning of the season, making careful plans and taking great pride in the imagined results. Then, much too late, I realize that one needed more water, another less sun, and still another probably could have benefited from some fertilizer. Oh well, I can rip them out and get more in my flower bed, but what about my students?

Can "one-size-fits-all" teaching work any better in the classroom? My goal in my garden is the beauty of the colors, shapes, textures and smells. I know what I want the end result to be, but I just assume the plants all need the same nurturing and nutrients to get there. Does that happen in the classroom too? Too often, do we know the end result, and plod away with the same techniques and information we always have, expecting the results of previous years? What if one student needs more nurturing, another needs space, and yet another needs you to shed a different kind of light on the subject to help her see?

If my goal is to see every student thrive to full potential, maybe I need to take a lesson from my garden. I learned this year with my flowers, that to maintain the plants' beauty, I need to learn as much as I can about each one, and not take the easy route of treating them all alike. My students should get the same type of individualized care and nurturing. Perhaps then, they too can all thrive.

Friday, December 31, 2004


"I am not who I think I am. I am not who you think I am. I am who I think that you think that I am." I was going to use this for a reflection on "reflection"...something about how the "mirror" a person looks into isn't always an accurate reflection. As I searched for the author of the quote, however, I discovered so many people with the same thoughts that I had.....it made me feel really pathetic and unoriginal. Then, to realize that at forty, I have no more self-esteem than I had at 14...is that possible? Anyone from my school days or college reading this would think, "Good grief! She still hasn't got her act together!" I guess my thoughts when I started with this quote were really about the inaccuracies of my perceptions. I often THINK someone thinks something about me that they really weren't thinking at all. This must be why my husband says I think too much. I am headed to an "International" conference next week for jazz educators. Are the people that I meet going to think I'm old, boring and fat? Do I really think those things about myself? If I do, why don't I do something about it? If I don't think those things, why would I think that others might? And....does it really matter what others think? I wish I had enough self-esteem to be fully confident in a WYSIWYG theory. Just be bold, true to myself and "what you see is what you get."

Monday, November 15, 2004

Why Jazz?

My jazz choir met for the first time today. Monday mornings are tough. I asked them the question "Why jazz?" I wanted to know why they were interested in it, and why it was worth their time. As I went through my day, I kept returning to the question myself. Why is jazz something I'm interested in, and why is it worthy MY time?

One of the young men came up with a good answer...Jazz is America's music. It was born and raised right here, fairly recently when compared to other music worthy of studying. An article I read also mentioned that it is the product of America's greatest songwriters. Still another mentioned that it helps build aural skills and musicianship. All of these are very good reasons for the study of jazz, but why is it worthy MY time?

For me, listening to jazz is like visiting another country. The melody is the climate....The sunshine and warm breezes of my happiest thoughts, or the overcast dismal quality reserved for my moodiest moments. Just as each country has it's own cuisine, jazz chords become a unique seasoning for a gourmet feast for my ears. The language is what fascinates me most. Those who improvise are telling a story, carrying on a conversation even, in a language only they can translate, yet anyone can understand. When I allow myself to be immersed in jazz, I not only want to listen to it...I want to do it...Participate in this creative magic.

Does this love of jazz go back to yesterday's question of who I am? If I had to choose a type of music to describe me, would it be jazz? Or the predictable verse refrain hymn, always returning to the same pattern, never venturing beyond well-defined boundaries? Oh how wonderful it would be to be an inspired improvisation! Can I learn to enjoy and appreciate the dissonances in my life for what they are, rather than trying to fix them? Can I take the familiar and rearrange it to suit my particular mood like a modern-day chanteuse with an old standard? Can I create my own melody from the chord structure of my obligations and others expectations? And speaking of those expectations, can I throw in an element of surprise to delight rather than dismay those in my "audience"?

The house is finally quiet, except for the last load of laundry tumbling in my tired clothes dryer. This "moment of escape" must give way to an even more necessary escape....Sweet, restful sleep....

Sunday, November 14, 2004

Who Am I?

A writing exercise given to us in a workshop this week was to begin with a blank piece of paper and write "I am what I am." at the top, then just write from there. I thought of several things--wife, mother, teacher...and realized that I'm not sure who I am without it being in the context of other people. Is this enough?

"I am what I am....but what is THAT?

I am a wife to a man who is alternatively non-communicative and a wonderful friend and helpmate. At times I just want to hold on to him and never let go, and other times, I want to leave and not come back...

I am a mother to three sons who are sometimes bright, witty and charming, and other times cold, cruel, and just plain awful. These are boys who have wrecked a van, kicked holes in the wall, put bug spray in my Diet Pepsi and couldn't hit the toilet if their lives depended on it. They are also talented and gifted, on the honor roll, well-liked by their friends and very charming when they choose to be.

I am a teacher to elementary music students who are loving, enthusiastic, with a short attention span, and very loud voices. I also work with high school music students who sometimes have voices like angels, and others sound like they have just found their voices after a long period of muteness.

I am a poor housekeeper, but love a clean house...a lazy gardener who loves fresh flowers and vegetables from my own small plot...an avid reader who has not finished a book in weeks (but I've started about four)...but does any of this make me ME?"

It is my hope that by writing a little each day, I might discover the me that either hasn't appeared yet, or has been buried under other people's expectations. Right now, my sons are throwing apple peeling at each other....This moment of escape must end.