Friday, June 25, 2010

Neighborly Wisdom & Mirth

I was blessed to join an impromptu gathering collected around a neighbor who was puppy-sitting. Lulu-Bell is a newly weaned, Miniature Cocker Spaniel whose cute-rays are absolutely over-powering. Pam had us all in stitches as she regaled us with tales of this tiny, "paws-with-ears" standing it's own against her black lab. She especially endeared herself to me when she declared, "A puppy brings the nice out in 'everbody'".
We shared & laughed until the pinks & peaches of the evening, gave way to the mauves & blues of dusk. I secretly longed for a writing pad, but was was able to commit one other bit of her wisdom to my memory: "It's good to have a bit o' torment every now & again~ reminds ya you're alive." As my husband would say, "boy, howdy"...I surely have been alive this past year !

Monday, June 21, 2010

Standing Outside The Storm

It was a crazy week of running around, so by the evening's activities, I waited outside during camp. The church is high atop a ridge with a spectacular view of the Blue Ridge mountains. I once stood in the sunshine for an hour while thunder storms raged in every direction. Swallows & martins danced in the air all around me, with the occasional screaming, run-through by killdeer. I watched the very hawks that once nested behind my home glinting auburn against slate-blue clouds as they rode thermals in & out of the evening rays of the sun. Absolutely beautiful!

It was amazing to watch as different storm cells would form & erupt in the distance. The winds eventually began to rip all around me, as the flashes & crashes closed in. I have a better understanding of storm-chasing, now. It was amazingly exhilarating! At last the clouds closed in on the ridge where I stood, but as the rains fell the sunshine poured forth. There was even a horizon-to-horizon rainbow !!! It was actually a double, but I am partial to this image.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Scouting Joy

As I drove over the hill, this was the scene I came upon at Cub Scout day camp. The local fire dept. came to hose down 100+ boys !!! I felt my money had been well spent, for me alone in my joy of watching...not to mention, knowing that my son was in the mix somewhere. There was no way I would find him in the sea of green shirts, so I simply set about shooting. Before long, he ran up to me in utter delight.

It must have been a blast for the man up in the tower. He sat amidst cumulus clouds in a Carolina-Blue sky adjusting water pressure & moving the 2 nozzles around to those who cried out from below.

Kids were absolutely giddy with glee & vibrating with joy!!! Every few moments, a kid would break down, dancing furiously on tippy-toes with arms & face raised skyward in complete abandon! This happened over & over again... One would have thought it was an evangelist revival with all the arms raised & crying out! This went on for an hour & it was "MY best day ever"!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

I Missed the Show !

The canvas panels which we were to paint, were staked down under stately oaks, beneath a Carolina-Blue sky. I have never worked outside, nor looked down for this technique, so I was excited for the new adventure. With a panoramic view of the mountains, set behind an old orchard, we worked on the church grounds, near the converted farmhouse.

Gorgeous, cumulus clouds billowed & wafted past, though the breezes soon changed to sporadic winds. The sound of distant but swiftly moving, thunder called us to quicken our pace. When the strokes of sky, mountains, lake, & rolling hills were completed on the upper panel, I packed up the paint cart with it's myriad of shades & tones. Rolling up the first 20' x 4' panel was incredibly cool, & I felt rather like da Vinci as I carried it off!

Our painting was safely inside when the church doors closed behind us & the first, 1/4-sized raindrops began to fall. I ran to my vehicle shouting, "Auntie Em! Auntie Em! Oh, where's Toto?" (I always do that as storms begin to break). We raced home to find it had already traveled passed our little, forested home.

A week later, I returned to watch the Children's Ministry put on their show. I hung outside to watch God's sculpting of yet another storm & joined in the worship to find the skit was over! I never did see the mural put to use! (I did get some great cloud shots, which I hope to post in the next day or so). In the service of His Kingdom we rarely do get to see the results of our work. That's alright, though ~ He does. That is why He gifted us & that is why I serve! Selah!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Meet Susan

I periodically capture baby snakes that make their way into the school & take them home for release. Susan came to us already in a jar on the last teacher work day. I sent my son down to a science teacher to verify that she is a Ring-neck. It wasn't long before I was called over the intercom to report to the 8th grade hall... I hadn't set down my task at hand when, "Immediately", was announced. The principals were cool with it. The one even said, "Science. No that's great for a kid. He just had it out of the jar & we can't have that." .... Boys chasing girls (& grown-ups) with a snake is just too cute. I had to stifle my giggles as I reminded him the rules.

Back at home, we looked her up & learned of her ways. I had London all prepared to set her free & was surprisingly trumped when Uncle Wes proclaimed that we could keep her. I called to tell my dad, knowing that momma wouldn't want to hear a snake story. Daddy was busy so I told her, anyway. She laughed & laughed that the son who had repeatedly tried to sneak snakes into her home had inflicted one on mine !
(I love the grubby, little boy hands in this image!)

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Letting Go

Imagine cutting 25 middle-school kids loose in an art studio & encouraging them to develop their creative side. Some may be painting or using different printing techniques, while others are sculpting with clay or papier mache'. Some will draw, as others cut with knives, carving or power tools. Instruction is a challenge with as many as 5 or 6 things going on at the same time... of course they must clean up after themselves... all in the space of 52 minutes! I do this 6 times a day & as draining as it is, I LOVE IT !

Never let it be said that, "teachers have the summer off". The business world calls it "comp time" & the ministry, "sabbatical". Both are appropriate, but we educators call it planning & professional development time. The end of the school year is bittersweet as kids I have seen blossom over 3 years, head out for high school. Many will nostalgically return one day, barely recognizable in adult bodies. Some will remain in my life, but will never again be "mine". I pray I have strengthened their confidence in their abilities. I pray I have helped them find a special way of seeing. I pray I have given them a willingness to experiment, explore, discover, & create.

The tables are clean & the sinks polished. The doors are still while the walls, racks, & counters are strangely bare. The bells ring but to an audience of memories. My private tears are accompanied by the occasional dripping faucet as my kids' voices & laughter echo silently in the empty room. It is with relief that I head for home to rediscover my peace, myself as artist & of course, my family.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Seasons of Friendship

When I moved out of my parent's home, my first housemate & I couldn't have been more different, one from the other. I was the wacky artist, teaching an alternative population & out to save the world. She was an orderly professional, on an upward climb in Congress. (Our 3rd housemate kept us from killing each another.) When our lease ran out, we eagerly went our separate ways, though mutual friends kept us in contact.
Once or twice a year, my family makes a pilgrimage "home" & to my continuing amazement, if we see no other friend, we always get together with her family. Funny how people grow & change. Marriage, children, work & of course, age have a way of shifting one's priorities. She & I don't keep in touch all that often but we are there for one another (as best as the 500+ miles between us allows).

Friends are often apart for varying seasons. Mature friendships understand & weather these times. As those seasons grow & wane in my own life, I always hear Linda's voice in my heart. "The true measure of a grown-up friendship isn't how much time you spend together, it's that you can pick right up where you left off when you do see one another".

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Old Friends & New

My son had several hard lessons on love & loss this past winter. Cody, his cherished, tee-tiny, lake-found, yellow-bellied slider died over the winter. We thought perhaps it was hibernating until his eyes caved in....ugh! Spot, the handless, fire-belly toad freed himself while we were out of town. He has yet to be found...well, the cat & dog haven't said a word. London decided our lop was too confined & willingly chose to give her to a neighbor. Bun-Bun now spends her days roaming the house, playing with kitties while enjoying much more freedom & love.

Our guest tanks have had a number of visitors. The boys especially love catching insects to feed toads & lizards. One evening as my son played on the dock, this young slider simply swam up to him. It never ceases to amaze me how much affection my 9 yr. old has for turtles nor how they hold their heads out to him when he picks them up & talks to them.

Buddy, the black, lab puppy is frightened by new things like signs or trash. He was particularly alarmed when he came across the giant, box-turtle we named, "Dino-Turtle" (short for dinosaur). We feel certain he has been a guest in our home before seemingly hesitant when we sent him on his way.

The First, Official Day

I feel it has been 2 years in coming, but our summer holiday has officially begun. I greet it with an amazing sense of peace & fulfillment. Passing through the debris field of my home, 3 kids & I climbed into my heavily laden van & headed out. First stop, the last tidying & sign-offs at my school. After a quick stop at home for a feast of balogna & cheese subs on hot dog rolls, we headed out for the finishing touches of a canvas mural, which is to be used in a children's ministry performance. I returned home bathed in a palette of grass greens, sky blues & purple-gray mountains. Before long, the boys asked to go fishing & I puttered on in the gardens as they headed down to the lake. The last rays of the setting sun shone into the cove & shrouded the boys in a golden halo & oh, it was truly summer ! I thought to grab my camera, but chose to savor the moment. This was a moment & an image I will carry in my heart evermore.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Vincent's Chair

I love lilies, but they take quite a toll with 2 boys adventuring in the garden. I simply sigh & remind myself how fast my son is growing. All too soon he will be off with his friends & I will have a quiet yard full of flowers.
I have acquired marvelous, still-life treasures from Mr. Cotton. Urns, tables, old lamps, a child's wagon, a mounted groundhog, even antique, kerosene lanterns grace the my students' art work courtesy of Cotton.
One of my favorite artists is Vincent van Gogh. (My art history professor in England insisted we pronounce it "van Goff", as "it is a Dutch name".) Vincent dreamed of starting an artists' colony & secured a happy, yellow house in the south of France where he painted a chair much like this one.

When I spied "Vincent's chair" along the road, I couldn't resist. It turned out to be a beautiful garden accent which temporarily protects some of my towering lilies !

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Holiday Prep

For years I have been peering over my deck watching this. It began as a stick, then a plant & for the first time, this little hydrangea bush is flowering ! The white buds first began fading to blue just before the holiday weekend. I thought the palette particularly fitting as we remembered & honored our fallen veterans.
Momma wren has once again made her nest in our carport. Her hungry babies constantly cry out when she is off hunting grubs for them. She works so feverishly, yet sings all the while. Standing on a stool, I raised my arm to hang our parade banner & we caught each other by surprise. Through the wood slats, I saw her heading right for my face. She veered as quickly as she could but her wing grazed my arm. It sent a tingle through me & was very cool, indeed.