Sunday, February 28, 2016

The Proposal

A teacher who lives in another state emailed me this week.  She is putting together a proposal for LRA with 2 other teachers and invited me to join them. Kind of neat. My proposal will tie in to what I'm doing for my Heinemann book, so that should work out fine. The three other teachers are all getting their PhD's.  Their proposals are fascinating and quite complex. I'm revising a proposal I used when I was in graduate school.  The topic of the symposium has to do with exploring the tensions of critical literacy teaching.  I'm excited to be involved with this.  I'm not sure I feel too many tensions.  But tensions do come up from time to time.  Case in point. This week I read a book about Iqbal Masih to my class and to .5 of another class who were visiting for a short time.  You could have heard a pin drop when I was done.  I felt a bit of tension as I scanned their faces, but the kids didn't seem upset.  They were just taking in this sad and powerful story.  Finally one kid said, "Whoa" and the chatting erupted like Mt. St. Helens.  I loved that moment.  So, to wrap up, I'm working on a proposal today and then I'll tackle the report cards.  And then... THE OSCARS!

Saturday, February 27, 2016

The Paints

I called my Dad this morning while I was waiting in the Starby's Drive Thru. "Dad I am going to buy you some paints.  I just read about a man who was 85 years old when he started painting.  He painted over 1,300 paintings.   Like Bill Traylor, you can use remnants from your recycling bin as your canvases---cardboard boxes, old bags and the like."

My dad was atypically quiet for a few seconds and then yelled emphatically, "I'll be painting protest signs.  How 'bout THAT?"

In other words, Dad was resistant to my suggestion.  "It's never too late to be a great artist, Dad," I told him, but Dad just changed the subject to an eye doctor appointment scheduled for next month.  "They told me they're going to put needles in my eyes," he said with a chuckle. "I'm not looking forward to that, let me tell you!"

Friday, February 26, 2016

The Fortitude

Last night at the meeting I go to where people talk about body weight, there was a woman who was pretty upset.  She had been eating a lot of candy that week and she had no intention of stopping.  People kept giving her ideas for managing her candy intake, but she was having none of it.  The gal was adamant that she wanted to eat the candy and she was going to do it.  I silently applauded this gal.  She does what she wants and she makes no bones about it.  I wish she could be a bit more cheerful about her choices, but as we know, life's full of trade offs.  Case in point.  I'm blogging when I should be going to work, but I want to blog and I'm not going to stop. I'm fairly cheerful about this choice, but I'll admit to a small twinge of anxiety that seems to be growing as I struggle to find appealing random links for this blog post. We soldier on.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Thursday Creativity Share: Bill Traylor

Thanks to Judith, I just read this book today.  That's how I learned about Bill Traylor.  He started drawing when he was 85 years old and for 3 years he drew like nobody's business, creating over 1,300  drawings.  I'm charmed by this book and by this artist.  Check this guy out right here. Also thanks to Judith, we had a joint venture of World Read Aloud Day and our African American Read In.  The Thirdlanders read books by African American authors and illustrators all day long.  We read to 5 different classes.  At the end of the day, the Thirdlanders looked wiped out.  This pleased me considerably.  These are tough people to tire. This was one of the best days of teaching I've ever had. Happy World Read Aloud Day, Friendies. Hope you get to join an African American Read In this month.  We had such a blast.

The Arms

Last week at my meeting that I go to in order to listen to people talk about body weight, I was surprised at how often the topic of arms came up.  People seem to be concerned about what their arms look like.  One speaker is trying to gain courage to wear a sleeveless dress.  Another speaker is spending money on a trainer who will only focus on her arms for the next few months.

I have bigger fish to fry right now, so I'm not worried about my arms.  I'm concerned though that if I ever do start following this program, I'll start worrying about my arms too and I really don't have time for that. Let's leave well enough alone and assume the arms are fine.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016


Colorful liquid.  Domino.  #TwinTuesday. Let's get this day going, my friends.  There's something out there for all of us.  Just remember what Anne Lamott says and you'll be okay probably. "We can't fix ourselves and we're not supposed to."

Sunday, February 21, 2016

The Collector

We saw Peggy Guggenheim Art Addict last night on campus. Come to find out, Nancer and Kev came to see it as well. Peggy Guggenheim's dad died on the Titanic when she was 12.  As an adult,  she collected modern art like nobody's business.  People complained that the food and wine weren't so hot at Peggy's house, because she would only spend money on art. (Geez people, how about an attitude of gratitude?) Peggy was a patron to many artists, giving them monthly stipends, finding them housing.  She lived the maxim (created by me) to SUPPORT, NOT THWART. Most artists were grateful, but not Jackson Pollock.  His alcoholism and depression made him kind of a downer much of the time.  Peggy says she slept with over 1,000 men and that her life was all about "art and love."    Everyone should go see this movie if they want.  Even though I've had an odd and painful stomach ache for the past 19 hours, I enjoyed this film very much, so that's saying something. Husbandman also enjoyed it, so that's also saying a lot.

Saturday, February 20, 2016

The Quartet

1. Today Husbandman and I went off in search of eagles.  We didn't see any eagles but we did see a red shouldered hawk.

2. We have 3 days until we hear about the possible shortening of our school day.  Still very much on my mind.

3. The Thirdlanders are enjoying our African American History Book A Day Project. They've taken to clapping at the end of the books.  We especially liked Sweet Music in Harlem, which is a fictionalized story inspired by Art Kane's 1958 photograph of Harlem musicians.

4. I got a lovely text from a pal this week full of kind compliments.  I was touched and I read it aloud to Husbandman.  He replied, "I get emails like that every single day.  I just don't ever read them to you."      

Friday, February 19, 2016

The Sidewinder

I love when #1 Son plays jazz at 5:30.  I'm there with bells on my friends.  This evening past, #1 Son played with the Jazz Fables and they played a set of Lee Morgan tunes.  Come to find out, I'm a huge Lee Morgan fan. I love The Sidewinder and Hocus Pocus.

Enjoy a jazzy Friday my friends.  Try to get in a little extra recess any way you can.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016


It's #TwinTuesday once again.  I know I missed last week, but this week, I'm all over it.  Word Savvy has the twin of course.  This week we have a lime and a decorative dish.  We're curating a pairing that's sure to fill us all with awe.

Monday, February 15, 2016

An Object of Beauty

First of all, I'm so jazzed we have a snow day today.  I am sitting at my table, staring out at a snowy back yard.  Cup of coffee near by. Roses from Husbandman stretching up out of their vase with confidence. Glorious start to a surprise gift Monday.

Last night I finished a book by Steve Martin.  It's called An Object of Beauty.  I read it for my book club.  I was not super crazy about the main character, but I liked the art prints included in the chapters and I liked learning about art collecting.  I also liked veering off from the book to read articles about Steve Martin.  Sidenote: Do you know that Steve Martin is 70 years old and has a little 3 year old daughter?  I think he would be a good dad. He can play songs for her on his banjo. Did you also know that he once sold a Hopper painting for 26 million dollars?  I'd like to do that.

A few years ago we watched a great documentary about the art fraud, Wolfgang Beltracchi.  Steve Martin once bought one of his forgeries, but he sold it at a loss before he knew it was a forgery.  One of our weekend goals was dashed when Husbandman and I went to see a documentary about Peggy Guggenheim and got stuck in IU traffic.  I think people were heading to the opera, but who knows?

The point is, I'm in an artistic frame of mind right now.  Before working on this blog entry this morning,  I learned that I can start my own collection of paintings at the Art Institute web page.  I love that. So, even though Steve's book wasn't a compelling read, he got me thinking I should be an art collector and now I am.  Thank you once again, Steve Martin.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

The Snow

Lee Bontecou
I get obsessive at times. Right now I'm obsessing about whether or not we'll get a delay tomorrow. I don't even care if we get one.  I just get obsessed with the not knowing.  My major obsession right now has to do with the length of the school day.  In 2 weeks a decision is going to be made about whether or not to shorten our school day.  I am rooting for a shortening of the day.  I keep asking everyone I know to predict what might happen with this decision.  I keep thinking that someone will leak some critical info to me if I keep asking enough people and then I won't have to wait.  I've got to get some maturity.  But until I do, please let me know if you have top secret information to share.   I would like to leak your info to the public before the official announcement if at all possible.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

The Commitment

My poor old blog.  Neglected all week.  I'm going to make it up to you.

Things are good.  On this Tuesday past, the editor emailed me to tell me that they're going to be sending me a contract. I've been working on this proposal for over 3 years. I almost quit writing it several times.  If all goes according to plan, I'll finish the book by November and it will be published the following November.  Of course things might not go according to plan, but for right now, I'm just going to feel cheerful.

Guess what else?  A good pal suggested that the brace might have been part of my healing problem with the ankle.  Every time I would transition from the hideous boot to the brace, I'd have quite a bit of pain when I walked. I kept returning to the boot thinking that my foot wasn't healing correctly.  My pal suggested that the brace might have been irritating my ligaments. Come to find out, my doctor agreed and now I'm in a little compression sleeve number and I'm feeling tons better.  Boot be gone!  I'm on the up and up people!   Glory be.

Sunday, February 07, 2016

The Thoughts

I've been thinking about the circle of people that I know and love.  The circle's pretty large and some people have drifted into other circles, but I still feel that they're in this circle too.  I'm pleased with this idea.

The other thing I am thinking about is a camera.  My camera broke after being dropped twice this week.  So I need a new wonderful camera.  Am I ready for the next level of camera, the kind that's not just a point and click, but a camera where I change the settings to get the perfect shot?  I think I am, but I have fears.

The last thing I'm thinking about is my foot.  I broke my ankle in 3 places back in October.  My friends, I'm still wearing the boot around and I'm still feeling pain from time to time.  Every day much of my conversation with people centers around my foot and the boot.  Some days I take off the boot and just wear the brace.  Then the foot gets to hurting so I wear the boot again.  On boot days, people ask me why I'm wearing the boot again.   I feel sorry for my ankle, but I'm also quite annoyed with it. I wish my ankle would make up its mind.

Wednesday, February 03, 2016

The History

We started our African American History Read Aloud Project with Patricia McKissack's Never Forgotten. What a beautiful and powerful book.  The plan is to read a book each day this month that focuses on African American History.  I'm going to read the books in a chronological order.  Never Forgotten takes us back to 1735 in Mali.  A blacksmith's son is taken as a slave and his father calls on the elements to help him find out what happened to him. Fire, Earth, Wind and Water are characters who help tell Musafa's story.  Yesterday we read Molly Bannaky by Alice McGill.  And we'll probably read today about Benjamin Banneker, Molly's grandson today.  If I can find my book about Benjamin Banneker.  This is going to be a cool project. The first two books have been amazing.

Tuesday, February 02, 2016


Gift Box and Buddha over here, and WordSavvy has the fraternal twin.  Not a Buddha, but related in our own #TwinTuesday way.  Once again, we're getting the job done.

Monday, February 01, 2016

The Windy City

The trip to Chicago was fabulous.  Kronos Quartet's performance of My Lai was beautiful and mind blowing.  I feel like I'm still hearing and watching it in my head and heart.  I took a walk through the Art Institute and took some pictures.  Janet and I chatted non stop and ate at a fine eatery.  Note to self:  A quick trip away to see people I love can do wonders for a body and I should make such trips happen more often.

Last night Husbandman and I went to see the live action short films that are nominated for Oscars.  Well come to find out, Jesse Eisenberg decided to see the films as well.  The films were so good that I very often forgot about Jesse Eisenberg and got wrapped up in the stories. That's a pretty good film.  I thought about taking a picture of Jesse and it would have been easy to do, but it seemed like not a great idea.  So we just enjoyed each other's company and let it go at that.

The Astronauts

 From a Lynda Barry book, I've used the idea to have the Thirdlanders draw self portraits on occasion.  Draw yourself as Batman, a monst...