Archive for the ‘travels’ Category

Top Ten Tuesday

Another week and we’re half-way through November….goodness, where does the time go? Here’s some goodies from the week.

For all of us creatives, here’s an interesting little video from Behance about what we do:

In light of Veteran’s Day is this beautiful, heart-wrenching letter about loss.

Ode to our neighbor to the north, Canada – some spectacular scenery in Travel Alberta.

And who doesn’t love magic? This is an interesting twist on the typical duo in an act.

And another video – this one about kites….which I could NEVER get off the ground! “One kite is controlled by his right leg, the other two by his hands.  Ray Bethell, a resident of Vancouver, BC is one of the most famous kite flyers in the world. He controls three kites in a ballet set to “The Flower Duet.” When you see two tails together, he’s flying two of the kites next to each other. At about 3:00, all three are together. Notice at the end where he lays two of the kites down, one on top of the other and the third —-well, you just have to wait to see what he does with that one.”

Here’s a book I need to get, since all things about the brain fascinate me. Found this on the TED blog: Brain Power. Looks absolutely fascinating.

A great fiber art find – love her stamps! “GinaVisione works and plays in San Francisco, CA., a re-transplanted native.  Her primary work is focused on maximizing the available rehabilitation service and independence options to all persons with visual impairments and blindness, however, this often spills over into her artwork.  She is a printmaker with linoleum carvings and monotype image techniques, but she is also very active in the MailArt (including arti-stamps!) and letter writing networks around the world (SF Correspondence Co-op, Letter Writers Alliance, PostCrossing, to name a few).  Gina really enjoys the amazing levels of creativity that artists share in her mailbox daily! Check her out on Flickr:

Once again from the 365 Project, some really gorgeous photography.

Foggy Start by Alison Tomlin

From Cool Hunting comes the work and an interview with a very interesting artist, Jen Stark – lots of color here!!

Jen Stark

And finally, from JPG Magazine, the simple fork……

Bouquet of forks by Marco Verheul

Have a great week! Let me know what you find on line that’s cool!


The Many Shades of Gray

  One of the interesting side-effects of our stay in the N0rthwest was a new appreciation for the color gray. I have a limited number of grays in my stash, and we have one gray color of paint we use in our marbling. We used to have six or seven when we used Ceramcoat paints for marbling, but since they changed formulas, we’re not happy with the pigment. So we get by with the one gray. Using only the one gray has caused us to see how that color can change when mixed with other colors, so we really can achieve some differences.

But after two weeks of gray and rain, there are so many shades of gray! Part of me wants to go out and start buying a lot of gray fabrics, which I really might have to do. Yellowed grays, blue-grays, green-grays. There are so many distinctions. For years I’ve always loved all the spring greens that happen once a year, and my stash reflects that. We were able to see a lot of that on our trip, and many of the places and trees reminded us of New England.  But I had never really focused on gray as its own color with all the variations. By the second day in Seattle, I could look out at the water and mountains and count probably ten different shades. Then I became really attuned to looking at the differences.

Here’s just a few examples.

The Crocker Museum in Sacramento. Glorious Victorian home.

The bridge at Deception Point on Whidbey Island, in the rain (of course) and few snow flakes, with some grayed greens.

It’s interesting that after a while I didn’t even notice the lack of sun…although I was very glad to see it reappear while going down the Oregon coast. Speaking of the Oregon coast….

Wild, wonderful, and rugged.

Along the beach road in Alki, part of Seattle.

One evening at sunset, looking to the west from Alki. A lone person paddling something by standing upright.

Klamath River rest area before heading into Oregon.


So does this mean I choose my vacations based on a color I want to study? Hmmmm. Would love to hear your examples of realizing the range of one particular color.

Monday Marketing – Getting Ready for StashFest

Those of you in the Seattle area hopefully know about StashFest – a fund raiser for the La Conner Quilt Museum. It will be Saturday, March 31 and Sunday, April 1. We’re headed up with LOTS of marbled fat quarters to sell and add to the funds for the museum. We spent all of January and a week in February making fabric – hubby turned out great pieces and experimented with a lot of new patterns. You can read more here.

So this week is finishing up a few loose ends and starting to pack. I won’t take quilts off the wall just yet, as we just put them up, and I don’t want too many days of bare walls! The quilts we’re taking are of two kinds: some fairly traditional patterns that show off the marbled fabrics, and some art quilts that are more “whole cloth.” We’ve learned over the years that too many people think the fabric is wonderful but don’t know what to do with it. Hence the two types of quilts.

Special order forms, newsletter sign-up forms (yes, I know, I still need to do a newsletter…..just wait till we return and I get back in gear), quilts, care codes, velour to cover the tables….lots of little things to think through. But we are organized as ever…we could actually leave tomorrow, we are that ready. But I still have tutoring and some end-of-term grades to finish for Art Institute. Plus, I want to see if I can squeeze in some photography of two quilts before we leave. All the marketing lately has been in preparation for this show.

We also want to incorporate a longer vacation, as we have never been to the northwest. We’re reading the guides and making plans. I plan on posting when we’re gone….I just don’t know how successful I’ll be incorporating photos from the iPad. Now about gas prices…..a gallon of gas was a lot cheaper when we committed back in December. But we’ll be able to take a lot of public transportation in Seattle and POrtland, so we should save money – and frustration – that way.

We will be coming back to a large commissioned order of fat quarters, as well as two show deadlines….and three more table runners to complete (but I’ve figured out a shorter way of putting them together).

Life is good!

Plans for the New Year

I realized that I ended Season Two of Cocreating Our Reality on November 19. I have been so busy sewing and working on projects – and being positive – that the day went by. December 1 is coming this week, and I’m planning to start Season 3 that day. One thing I have learned is to try to be more specific with my goals, and yet not limit myself within the goals. I also need more goals, both creatively and business-wise.

So how did I do?

* Enjoy life through a couple of trips and dinners/other social engagements with friends: San Diego, Austin, Houston, New Orleans. Absolutely! We went to Sedona in July, San Diego in August, Santa Fe in September, Sedona in October, and Prescott in November. We are planning to head to San Diego in two weeks. Obviously a new goal is going to be continuing to get a trip in a month – in fact, TWO are scheduled for March.

* Finish “Artists Revisited” class, complete with the new quilt. Finished the class, the quilt is probably half done, and it is now awaiting sometime in late spring to finish it – there are two major pieces I am attacking for a show deadline in mid-February.

* Help with Tikkun Olam show at the Jewish Community Center. The show was very nicely staged. Didn’t sell anything, but had a lot of really good feedback.

* Plan for additional income each month through the business; the goal is to beat the previous month (August should beat July, and so on). We are marbling more often – at least twice a month – and generally selling all the fabric. Etsy has picked up, and a few other things are working, including a commission for 31 fat quarters. We have far exceeded what we did for income in all of last year, so we should end the year in very good shape.

* Take three tutoring clients in mathematics. Instead I accepted a position teaching college algebra one afternoon a week – 4 hours, plus prep time. About the same amount of additional time, and about the same amount of money. Way easier on the travel and schedule.

* Update<a href=”” target=”_blank”> Art from the Heart</a> website and make plans for entries for the first anniversary of the Tucson shootings. Three new works of art have already been added, and more people are  beginning to talk about the site.

* Sewing projects: Tikkun Olam, Wayne Art Center, Betty’s commission, small rhythm piece, fish quilt redone, deer quilt finished, three additional quilt projects to be determined. No Wayne Art Center. Most of Betty’s commission is completed, the rhythm piece done, the fish quilt completed, the deer quilt finished, and three projects have been determined, all of which have been started.

* Complete the first three action plans in <span style=”text-decoration: underline;”>I’d Rather Be In the Studio</span> by Alyson Stanfield. In fact, I did four. I need to attack the portfolio goal over these next 100 days, as well as get in gear on newsletters.

* Maintain goals through the Multiple Streams of Income class and set new 90-day goals. Did this – will set the new goals through Season 3.

* Market the gift basket through Marble-T Design and sell at least four. We’ve sold 3 so far, so good on us! We’ve got stuff for two more ready to go.

* Break 200 pounds. Did not come close. In fact, I have yet to step on the scale, which I will do tomorrow, as I really begin to attack this. What I noticed is that I spent an inordinate amount of time thinking about this, and nothing has happened that is positive. So I obviously need to rethink how I look at this. I am going on more than half my life being overweight, and something has to change. Either I accept myself as I am now, or I change into what I want to be. More meditation, a diet “sponsor,” a food diary, regular walking, and some journaling are on the list.

I do like being able to see concretely what has been happening. That’s one of the reasons I like the blogging. This is a definite way for me to keep myself accountable.

One goal so far for the new season: the Free Motion Quilting Challenge, which will begin in January. I’ve got lots of other ideas, so I need to get things finalized for the start on Thursday, December 1.


Some of My Favorites from China

Ah, vacation! We are slowly starting to get some traveling in since I retired. We have plans for September – Santa Fe and Taos, October – Austin, and November back again to San Diego. There’s a wonderful restaurant at Balboa Park, Prado, with wonderful food and fabulous service. You’re looking at our dessert: a chocolate martini (OMG, amazing….) and mango/raspberry/lemon sorbet with carmelized coconut. Lunch was in between the stop at the Mingei and then the Botanical building.

We are hoping  for a long travel trip next spring to the Maritime provinces. But in the meantime we are busy making art and organizing ourselves. One of my projects, as readers of the blog know, is organizing my China slides. I’ve got some pictures that are kind of miscellaneous – they are of some very interesting moments or things that struck me in my early-30-first-time-oversees mind.

Bicycles – lots and lots of bicycles, the major form of transportation. I look at these shots and then compare them with China today, and you have nothing but cars.

I should probably call these my transportation series. I took a lot of pics of people getting around – this was, 33 yeas ago, a third-world country.

Some things never change across cultures. We just need “the basics.”

Thirty-three years ago the Chinese people were wearing masks for protection, something we have just begun to adapt.

bicycles Lots more bicycles. I love the parking lots set aside for the bikes.

Every morning, regardless of where we went, people were out exercising.

Everywhere we went we were objects of curiosity. These wonderful people had not ween Westerners in a number of years, due to the Cultural Revolution. We were advised to bring only clothes that were blues and grays. The only place we saw color was in the children. When we stopped over in Tokyo on our way home, I was assaulted by all the color – the first time I had experienced something like that. If you see pictures of modern China, clothes look very Western. To suddenly come back to a culture that used – and celebrated – color was quite the change!

An absolutely amazing trip, even 33 years later. I watched “The Red Violin: a couple of weeks ago, and one of the stages for the violin was during the Cultural Revolution. Having seen the pictures and video from the time, and having talked to people who went “to the countryside,” the movie was a stab in the gut, to see it portrayed so realistically.

To someone who had never traveled overseas, it was the trip of a life time.

The Summer Palace in China

What a busy weekend, and we’re headed out tomorrow to visit family in Prescott. Marbling went very well – working in the remodeled studio has been great. Room for all the projects…sort of. we ended up buying another set of cubbies from Target, just 6 this time, because we don’t have any empty space to move things “out of the way.” Like when we need a clear cutting table….and I started another Quilt University class, which has me spread out on the cutting table, so NOTHING fits.

Came across the cd’s I had done about a month ago for some of the China slides and realized I never put them up on line. Herewith pictures of the Summer Palace, created by one of the empresses as a “get-away,” complete with marble boat….

This was a beautiful morning in late October, but we did need to bundle up. The view of the lake was gorgeous, but the entrance with all the arches was spectacular.

Oh, the painting and details! If I were to go back, I would take so many more – and different – pictures!

And then came the marble boat….

Oh, I would have taken more details and close-ups -this is just a HINT!

Yup, It was cold!

I love looking at these pictures, and my goal with the whole slide project is to have everything organized, and then create a few books to be able to look at easily. Plus, with the new class I am taking, I would like to take a coupe of the great photos and translate them into fabric. I can dream….

Past posts on China:

China Revisited

The Ming Tombs

The Amazing Guilin

China – Part 1

Top Ten Tuesday

“The ocean nurtures each and every one of us,
without it human life cannot be sustained.”
~ Dr. Robert D. Ballard
author and discoverer of the Titanic
From A Note From Your Mother: The Ocean and 50 Ways to Save It. There is some great information on this site – useful and scary at the same time.
Alyson Stanfield on her ArtBiz blog says this:

“These are not marketing strategies: having a website, starting a blog, signing up for Twitter, adding a page on Facebook. My definition of a marketing strategy is a thoughtful plan for putting your art in front of more people and engaging potential audiences.” She has excellent points for those of us looking to develop “marketing strategies.” A good, thoughtful read.

From JPG Blog, their new contest – Where in the World…….amazing places around the world…makes ya want to travel!

Sunset Over Milky Bay by Marcelo Vicente

Marie Segal’s blog Art from My Heart always has wonderful goodies she either makes or finds. Remember using popsicle sticks as a kid?   Follow her links for some great pictures, including furniture……

Who knew? Polyurethane projects as a new art form…You will always be surprised by the items on Cool Hunting.

From Cool Hunting this week, a cool idea for an artist’s residency – on a lake and sustainable – Rabbit Island.

Also from Cool Hunting, a rooftop garden in Brooklyn, harvesting its first crop: Gotham Greens.

An Inspiring TED Talk on vulnerability with Brene Brown.

Want to see more of the world’s paintings? From Lines and Colors, a post about a project of the BBC to put artwork in British Museums up on line – and it will be searchable. Looks like a lot of computer time looking at art!

I LOVE this idea from Alyson Stanfield’ blog ArtBiz…..taking credit cards at small art shows is always a bear for so many of us. Look what technology has in store for us:

The Amazing Guilin

One of my projects that has been on hold these last couple of years has been making sense of all my slides and photos so I can look at them on a regular basis. I am slowly converting all of my slides to CDs, and I have started on all my China slides. There is another post here of other adventures in China. One of my goals is to print a couple of Apple books with my adventures, so I can look at pics very easily….no sorting through boxes and setting up the now ancient slide projector (which I tried to donate, and no one wants it….).

One of the most beautiful places I have ever been is Guilin, China. That’s me some 33 years ago sitting on the bank of a river that runs through Guilin.  We all wore lots of dark blues and subdued colors during our month in China, as the Chinese frowned upon bright colors and dresses, anything that was “decadent” western. My trip to China coincided with the downfall of the Gang of Four, led by Mao’s wife, and the reopening of China to western influence.

We flew into Guilin from Shanghai, and this was my introduction to the volcanic plugs in this part of China. I fell in love almost immediately, even with hearing combat fire in the distance, as China was at war with Vietnam – a little disconcerting.

Guilin is on a river, and as you can see, the river was very low. This is one of the views from the top of our hotel. One thing about the hotels – no locks on the doors at all (some 30 years ago) until we got to Beijing, where the concern for theft was with the tourists.

Another view of the city from the hotel in the early morning. We were getting ready to leave on a boat trip down the Li River, so we were up early.

On the way to catch the river boat.

This was a nice relaxing trip through beautiful scenery. One of the guests with us was a leading opera singer, and we had the opportunity to ask questions about her life as a performer, expecially since the Cultural Revolution under Mao.

This is one of my favorite photos of this whole trip – another example of modes of transportation that get the job done.

There were all kinds of spiritual spots along the river, names now lost to me.

We had a lovely picnic waiting for us in this amazingly tranquil spot.

From here we were bused back to the hotel, as the river was too low for a trip back. Lots of fields and farming – countryside that didn’t look much different from the Midwest – except for those glorious mountains.

Revisiting China – Part 1

One of my projects as a result of our recent move is to sort and organize slides and pictures: one because of the need for the extra space, two to eliminate anything that still has smoke from our fire 20-plus years ago, and three to find a way to enjoy all these memories. Now that I have a home for “recycling” slide mounts and boxes, I am ready for this project. Slides are sorted into a slide box we had been given years ago and never used; there’s one drawer of China slides and a second drawer of personal slides. I’m starting on the China slides.

How to organize? One of the most impressive memories from this trip in 1978 (before normalization of relations with the US) was the visits to the schools, so that’s where I am starting. Some background: I was teaching middle school science at the time in Phoenix, Arizona, when I became involved with the US-China People’s Friendship Association, a group working to bring about normalization (the recognition of “Red China”) as a legitimate country. This has been a passion of mine for years, since early high school, and especially influenced by a book by William Lederer (senior moment – lost the name) about the “truth” about Chiang Kai-Shek. I won a number of debates in high school based on the strenghts of my pro arguments, which didn’t make me any more popular. Oh well, I WAS right.

In 1978 I was selected as one of 20 people from the western part of the United States to travel for 3 weeks in China. I had never been anywhere, and China was at the top of my travel list. I was in heaven! I was gone for nearly a month, have a full notebook of interviews and impressions, and probably well over a thousand slides (all of which are being weeded down to the best. Each place we visited (fron Guangchou – the “old” Canton” to Beijing) we were able to meet and ask questions. I was in charge of all the school stops, since I was the only teacher in the group. It was the most amazing adventure. Our first visit was an elementary school, and the playground looked suspiciously like the typical US school ground. Teachers were wandering around, organizing activities, like tug of war. Notice the blues and grays for colors, especially on the adults. We were there at the end of the Cultural Revolution; the Gang of Four had just been imprisoned. Bright colors were a “western” problem, and we had been asked in doing our packing to look at basic browns, blues, and grays for colors, pants, no dresses, to respect the Chinese. We only saw bright colors on the children, until we hit Tokyo on our way back – our senses were literally assaulted with color.

If you notice make-up on the children, it’s because many of them were going to be performing for us during our visit. We were treated to amazing displays of arts and athletics, and at the time China was not a player in sports on the world stage. We all know that has changed.

I was particularly taken by the blackboard at the end of the playground, with all the announcements. It was pristine; no damage, vandalism, or the like. One of the questions I asked at our first meeting with the teachers and administrators of the school was how they dealt with vandalism. I ws asked to rephrase the question, and then asked to define vandalism. The teachers looked at each other, not understanding the word…or the concept. The reply was “why would anyone want to destroy what they need?” Why indeed….

We saw all types of entertainment, from the little singers, singing songs of leading the good life according to Chairman Mao….

…to guymnastic displays of all ages. Look carefully at their equipment. Floors covered with skinny rugs, bare walls – nothing like we would expect for building athletes.

Some performances were more formal. This was a group of young ladies performing basic magic tricks for us, and they were very good. Stage presence was something I remarked upon at the time, and I still think it’s pretty amazing how poised they all were. I know how difficult it is to develop that in young children during theater.

This dance/song number talked about importance of water and work to develop a good cotton crop.

This is the classroom that sticks with me so many years later. Sixty students in the classroom, no textbooks in sight. If you look closely, you will see double-digit multiplication problems on the board. No paper visible among these second graders. Students would raise their hand with a solution they had worked out in their heads, be called upon, come to the front of the room, and respond. We don’t even begin teaching basic multiplication facts until third grade….

We had certificates made up of our trip before we left the United States. We brought along a Polaroid camera to take pictures of our hosts and the group, which would then be affixed to the certificate. This is still one of my prized possessions. (I’m second row on the left….)

The children crowded around us to watch the picture develop – absolute magic!

Shanghai, as well as most other cities, had what were called Children’s Palaces, a place for students to go after school for more activities. A good many of them were focused on the arts, but many others were practical. Here’s one of our group members playing – of all things – Chinese jump rope.

Lots of musical instruction, as well as impromptu concerts for us.

The needlearts are very strong in China at that time, especially needlepoint.

Lots of martial arts demonstrations….

…and every where we went we were sent off to applause. For so many people we were the first Westerners they had ever seen.

Ballet had been banned during the Cultural Revolution, so it was encouraging to see this, and then one evening a classical ballet performance.

This is going to be wonderful, retracing this amazing trip. I will be culling the best of the slides to put together in a photo book so that I can look at these images more often. I’ll post more as I proceed with this project…and a glimpse of a China just beginning to modernize and embrace capitalism.

Thursday Thoughts….Kind of an Empty Mind

Usually in Tucson the bad weather hits on a school day – the kind of weather where you want to hole up under a quilt, read, and drink hot chocolate. Today’s the day, and I am staying home…I’m debating even getting dressed today. Let’s end the year in a nice relaxed mode.

I like not having much of anything on my to-do list. Taking the pressure off to be the new emerging artist (after 15-plus years of marbling and quilting) feels very good. I played with new markers yesterday – a splurge at Michael’s with a gift card. I’m usually a pen and ink person, but I think I’m going to like adding some color to my zentangle work. I have a tentative zentangle party set up for February with a CZT here in Tucson, which should be lots of fun. I cleaned out my Google reader of blogs where no one’s posting, or it’s scrapbook stuff, and I’ve been discovering lots of great zentangle blogs.

School starts next Monday and I’m all ready….lesson plans for most of the week already set. I know with the retirement decision that my school days are numbered. This time next year I’ll only have 5 months to go. The time will go faster than I think it will

I’m reading books on France, specifically Paris, as we start to plan for our trip to Paris and Venice in September of 2012. There is SO much to do in Paris…it’s going to be a lot of fun to plan and read about historical France (since I don’t remember a lot from European history, except reading the actual words of Rousseau and the like) and about the artists I want to see in the Louvre. That will make some good planning reading over the next few months.

I’m working on a new quilt that I am going to make up in a pattern. I have a bunch of ideas, and I need to see how to save a document as a PDF – I’m thinking I need an updated version of Office for Mac (mine’s 2004…..). And it looks like the computer is going to need a trip to the shop for a needed cleaning. And…lots of back-ups done over the next few weeks, as I have so much that is old stuff, and too many pics and graphics slowing the computer down.

The elephant in the room is getting back on track for weight loss. I need to get back to my blog and keep myself on track. I like not having weight be constantly in the fore-front of my mind, but unfortunately I think there’s a pound or two creeping back up. There have been a lot of good changes in terms of health this year, and I want to build on those.

Goals for the last few days of vacation? Take it easy, maybe start work on sorting slides. Go through two more scrapbooks to decide what to keep for pictures. Get caught up on reading blogs. Finish Silk Road. Buy fabric for the bedspread I have been promising myself…notice I didn’t say quilt, because I know from past experience if I start a bed quilt (and I have…) it’s not going to get finished. So rather than spend another $30 for a cheap coverlet, I’m going after some home dec fabric for a bedspread that will work across the seasons – Joanne’s 50% off over the next few days….

I’m off to enjoy the rainy, possibly snowy weather today.

The Joys of Traveling – Vermont

Red Mill of Jericho

Everyone should have the opportunity to travel across country at least once. This is my second round trip – coming out in 1989 and then again this summer. I’ve traveled one-way twice before, but doing the round trip on different routes is special. This time was very interesting, after 16 years in the desert with very little water and green trees. We realized just how much we are New Englanders and small town folk. We really missed the small town America of New England – small main streets that are still viable, great architecture, loads of fields and lawns and grass and forests.

Jericho, Vermont is hometown to hubby’s family ancestors. The Brown family settled the area, thinking they were in the Stowe area – wrong side of the mountain. There’s the Browns River, Browns River Middle School, Browns Trace (a road), and so on. The mill on the left houses the genealogy of the family, as well as the repository of the work of William Bentley, otherwise know to the world as Snowflake Bentley. The Jericho Historical Society maintains the mill, the craft shop, and the small museum. They have been publishing reprints of Bentley’s snowflakes, which are absolutely beautiful. There are only two mills left on the Browns River, and this is designated a historical landmark.

This is a common photo, as you can see from Waterfalls of the Northeast. I do plan to print this out larger and get it framed as a reminder for me of this gorgeous area.

It was wonderful to see Lake Champlain again, even in the rain – which we don’t get that often in the desert. This is one of those pics when my telephoto actually worked really well – I didn’t expect to get the actual rocks under water.

Lake Champlain from the breakwater

Ferry service doesn’t seem to be running to Plattsburgh from Burlington, although it could be most of the service has moved to southern Vermont, since the bridge was destroyed. Now it’s mostly party boats.

Burlington Waterfront

We used to joke a few decades ago that Vermont had more cows than people. Not true anymore, but Vermonters do love their cows! Instead of the Painted Ponies out here in the desert, we have Painted Cows.

All About Cows

More Cows

It was gray and rainy when we started around Mallet’s Bay, in honor of hubby’s folks. Every time we take a Sunday ride, we call it “going around the bay,” even though there is no major water here for some 150 miles. But my in-laws would always do this, as would we, when we lived in Vermont. It’s prettier with sun, but it is still glorious to see all that water, remember sailing on the lake, ferry rides in the Islands (especially during the winter), and the many camps on the shores.

Mallet's Bay

The hot dog guy had left the bay area, so no Michigan’s, but- Al’s French Fries is still going strong…but not nearly as greasy adn good as we remembered, so I think Al’s has gone healthy…..

Al's French Fries

Lots more to come for a great trip east and back!

Journeys Home – Part 3

I’m not sure I can capture everything about this amazing day. We are in Vermont, where my husband not only grew up, but where he is a descendant of the settlers of this area. I taught here in the early 70s and came back to teach here again for 6 years in the 90s. We are here now for my friend’s retirement party from teaching. She has spent 38 years in the same school, opening the school in 1972. It would have been 41 years, but there was time off for pregnancy and broken ankles. There was an after-school retirement party on Monday afternoon, and it was a must that we be here.

She was working so we spent the day just drinking in sights of Mt. Mansfield and all the green fields. I stopped at the district office for what became a very emotional time with people I had worked with – superintendent, financial assistant, head of special ed – all of whom I had worked closely with in other capacities when I was here. They remembered me and gave me big hugs. Blythe even said she had just been thinking about me and wished I still worked in the district. I wa overwhelmed. As someone with fairly low self-esteem and who always wonders about whether or not she had done a good job, it was such magic to know I was recognized immediately and remembered for the work I had done. From here we stopped at the middle school where I taught, and again it was hugs and welcome back. Then went to the high school and same thing. The job I had left was running our learning lab for at-risk students. The woman who took it over from me has expanded the program, and the service award named in my honor is still going strong 16 years later.

Wow. In fact, today in our travels I am stopping at the high school to give a monetary donation to fund the award. This award is for a student who has demonstrated selfless work for others in the school.  Yesterday I stopped at Williston Central School to leave a donation in honor of Al Myers, the theater teacher from whom I learned an immense amount.

But it was the party Monday afternoon that was amazing. My best friend of 35-plus years retired, along with 2 other teachers. In lieu of a retirement party, the staff meeting became a pot-luck – yes, things are getting very tight in education…..Well, all the old-timers from when the school started came, including my favorite principal, and it was wonderful catching up, seeing pictures of grandbabies, and in general reminiscensing about the old days. My friend Kathy had written her speech going back to when the school was new, and the parties we threw, and all kinds of remembrances – lots and lots of fun. I was so glad I could share that with her. This was a journey home that was wonderful – but this was not a family journey – this was to where I had come of age as an adult and as a teacher, and that made all the difference. No one knew my dysfunctional family – they just knew me and the kind of teacher I was – so it was fabulous. I wouldn’t have traded it for anything! Now off to party with the retiree on the Burlington waterfront for a few hours!!

Journeys Home – Part 2

There’s something about places you grew up that can be unsettling. My folks moved to Glens Falls at the beginning of my junior year in high school – not a great time to have to change schools. Trying to become part of a class when the whole town is pretty class-oriented is tough. I joined lots of groups, but never really seemed to fit in. My folks bought a boat and moored it at Lake George, so we spent a lot of time on the lake.

I never liked either place. We went to Lake George and Glens Falls on the trip and felt unconfortable in both places. The school is larger, and the auditorium has  been redone. The same haunts are there but with absolutely no appeal. Even the Fribble at Friendly’s was different than I remembered it. Lake George is even more touristy and crowded than it was 40 years ago. While the lake is still beautiful, I only have lousy memories. We had a nice dinner, enjoyed the fife and drum at the fort, but it wasn’t enough to overcome all the younger memories.

So I’m done visiting there. I have no more need to see that area. All it brings back are lousy memories, so why bother any longer. There are many more wonderful places to visit from the past, and I want to focus on those and new jaunts. Life is too short to focus on unpleasantness in the past. Too bad it took so long to realize that!

The other thing that is becoming obvious as we hit the Northeast is that we have to stop saying “when I retire…” Neither of us wants to wait that long. We need to start doing some of these things and visiting a whole lot sooner. I don’t want to let 16 years go by again until I see some old friends. We’re “old friends” in every sense of the word! And if we move east in three years, well….I don’t have to go out when it’s snowing, so all the arguments about winter are no longer valid. And…my skin really likes the humidity!

Journeys Home

I visited Middletown, Ohio, specifically woodside Cemetery where my dad is buried. This has been part of the summer trip agenda, and I wasn’t sure on which end of the trip we would be able to do this. My dad was buried in 1975; I made a visit in 1986, and today was the first time since then. Thanks to the internet, I had the map of the cemetery, and directions to Middletown. We had stopped at the visitor’s welcom center as we entered Ohio this morning, and as I looked at the map, I decided to skip the Interstate and travel a few back roads on the diagonal to get to Middletown.

It was a lovely, cool, sunny morning, not too much humidity. The roads were full of fields, large and small houses, porch swings, wrap-around porches, quaint mailboxes, and lovely small towns. One town, Eaton, had what I remembered as the typical small-town downtown. The stores were till in business, and what a variety – dry goods (don’t hear that term much anymore), the ubiquitous liquor store or two, doctors’ offices – wonder if any of them make house calls?

The tree that we had planted when my dad died is now very large, but it hasn’t weathered well – lots of missing branches, and a shape that can only be classified as irregular. Perhaps it fits the family. There were artificial flowers on his grave – I will forever wonder about those. I need to have death years added for my Nana and mother when I can afford it, even though they are buried elsewhere. Somehow it just seems to be a piece of unfinished business.

I ended up crying a lot – extremely unusual for me. All I could think was that it had been so important not to cry some 35 years ago, and now it all came out. It’s a beautiful spot and I have a few pictures for when I need to see it again. I had forgotten the inscription on the headstone: We have fair skies, calm winds, and smooth seas. My dad had been in the Merchant Marines during World War Two, and he loved his time on the various boats he owned. I have to hope he enjoys those words.

I love you, Daddy. I’ve never gotten over missing you.

East of the Mississippi

When I travel the country, I am amazed once again at its size and at the incredible endeavor it was to settle this land. In driving through New Mexico, you can’t help but think about the wagon trains making their way west across such rugged terrain. In Oklahoma you ca’t help think about the land rush that took away land from the native Americans, as well as the Chisholm Trail and the cattle drives. Looking at all the green trees in Missouri, you think about the diversity of biologic species, and this trip, I was thinking about how much greener the state seemed from 30 years ago. New trees that had been planted are now tall and majestic – I was thinking about Johnny Appleseed and his legendary planting of apple trees as I looked at all the amazing shades of green, after living in the desert for so long.

We traveled around St. Louis, so I only saw the arch from a distance, but I am reminded of how St. Louis was literally the Gateway to the West. So many families crossed this Mississippi and began a trek to new and foreign lands. While on the one hand, it is an amazing story of discovery and triumph, it is also an ecological and cultural disaster. All that’s left of our Native Americans in the midwest are place names, a few reservations, and come casinos – way more than I thought in both Oklahoma and Missouri.

Each exit near cities large and small reveal the “character” of American towns because of the interstate system. So much sameness where once there was individual character, a local mom-and-pop rather than WalMart, a downtown with viable stores, rather than same-ole same-ole malls. While I am grateful for the chains of motels that make traveling easier, I wonder at what we’ve lost over the years. How many people know – or remember – that the Interstate system was originally designed to move armament and troops in the Cold War easily from one place to another? Now it speeds traffic – and trucks….

There are so many trucks on the road. We truly are a nation dependent on oil – the trucks carry everything, and they consume barrels. Buy locally doesn’t seem to work anymore – and I’m not sure it ever could again.

Just some random musings from the ole history buff that I am….

ass="level-0" value="113">Tim Gunn
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