Artwork Made by Rachel

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Artwork Made by One of My Students ~Rachel, Grade 8,

In sorting through my teaching things in the garage, I found this cool water painting. The painting has such a playful, cartoon, and bubble gum young feel to it.  I give thanks for Rachel…I hope she is enjoying her adult years of life now.

I loved the playful work my students turned in for art assignments.  There was something thoughtful and playful happening at the same time.  When it came to grading these kinds of assignments…I was looking for something original, creative, and made by the student.

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Regarding The Garage Cleaning

I’ve made about 8 trips to the Marion County Recycling Center to literally throw unused metal, mixed paper, cardboard, computer towers and monitors, plastics, paint cans, and batteries in collection containers.  Each time I leave the recycling area…I take in a big breath, because my car is empty.  It feels wonderful.  Slowly, I get a rush of emotion like some people do when they come off of an amusement roller coaster… I think to myself, “I want to do that again.”  Clearing out areas of the garage has been dirty and messy and not without its sentimental moments. Slowly though, a glimmer of hope is taking shape, because there are new things to come, new ways to use this over sized two car garage with a work shop area. I can feel the intuitive part of my thinking beginning to turn over new ideas.  Letting go of my notebooks from high school, college, and my notes from teaching has reminded me of my desire to learn new things.  These ideas haven’t taken any concrete shape yet.  All I know is I want to study, take more classes, and learn more things.  Perhaps with a third or fourth degree, I will have my future all worked out. In the mean time, thanks for joining me on this journey; this has been a true journey of discovery.

I think bloggers are like the radio DJ’s I listened to in the past. Radio DJ’s  were these people that had a command of our time and of our entertainment.  People who had a connection with their audience through one sensory organ…hearing. Larger than life people…people with humor and bravado.  People who always surprised me when I met them, because somehow their physical person didn’t usually match the person I thought their voice sounded like in my mind.  The dissonance always threw me, until the DJ would talk…and then I would be soothed by the sound of his or her voice.

My guess is if people who read my blog met me in person, they would experience this same cognitive dissonance.  People, like life, rarely turn out to be what we thought they would be like.

One of the reasons I am a blogger is because I have felt a tug on my heart to find the joyful and beautiful things in life and share what I’ve found.  I look for that sweet moment each day when I’m struck with how beautiful this place is, or the sweetness of a person I’ve met, or the craft work of someone’s hands touches me. I look for or an event that both lightens and warms my heart at the same time.  These moments lift me out of my daily life and have created a joyful path for me to follow over the years.  The sharing of these moments is the purpose and shape of my blog.

Thanks for taking in what I’ve been discovering about life.

Happy Sunday!

 

 

 

 

 

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Letting Go Update

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Picture taken by Ben Guenther

“When the spirit does not work with the hand there is no art.”  -Leonardo daVinci

I want to share an update on my Lenten challenge of getting rid of unused items and cleaning out the garage. The work of sorting the garage came with the job of going through the boxes of my teaching material.  In my school materials, I found this picture taken by Ben Guenther who was one of my students.  He turned in this picture on a poster board for an art assignment back in the day.  I think this picture is striking…and I like how Ben caught this butterfly in such a majestic way.  I have more student art work to share in upcoming posts.

My Lenten cleaning challenge is about 60% complete. I have successfully moved about 5-10 big pieces of furniture to a relative who needed furniture.  It was fun to watch the 2 Papasan chairs, a couch, a work table, a set of bunk beds, a set of Corelle dishes, extra silverware, linens, etc, all loaded up on a truck.

I am planning a garage sale, a delivery of TY stuffed animals to my daughter’s house in Reno, a delivery of teaching supplies to a fellow teacher friend, a trip to the recycling center and a trip to the city dump.  After I’ve sorted through the garage, I am looking forward to parking a car on at least one side.

By far the hardest things for me to let go of are the boxes of my children’s art work and school papers.  I have a strong connection to that time of life.  It’s taken me years to let go of these papers.  Once I realized my children don’t want their special drawings from 1st grade, it struck me it really was time to let them go.

I’m determined to stop holding on to things and live in a more present and a more minimalistic style.

This process of “Letting go” has been very cathartic.

Happy Monday!

 

 

 

John’s Crazy Socks: March 21 Honoring National Down Syndrome Day

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March 21 is  National Down Syndrome Day 

My sister, Patti, works at John’s Crazy Socks in New York.  She loves working at John’s Crazy Socks and often works with John one of the Co-Founders of the company.   John has Down Syndrome.

I am highlighting this cool sock shop, because I admire the vision behind the company. Patti told me the story of how the company started when John’s Dad hypothetically asked his son one day, “If you could sell anything, what would you sell?  And John said, “Socks.”  John’s idea turned into a business.

All kinds of crazy, zany, and fun varieties of socks can be found at their website:  JohnsCrazySocks.com

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Patti sent me this picture of the Sasquatch Loves Oregon Knee High Socks!  They’re so cute!

Patti is amazed with how everybody’s birthday in the company is celebrated; she enjoys the special Friday lunches, and invests energy in drawing a new design of socks for a contest held by the company.

John’s Crazy Socks has been featured on BBC and other news stations.  Found here:  http://www.bbc.com/news/av/business-42652222/what-we-re-doing-is-spreading-happiness

Found on Facebook:  

On a side note, I just watched a segment cBig Dreams, Small Spaces on Netflix about a famous British gardener, Monty Dons, who helps people with their gardens.   One family featured on the show made a special sensory garden for their child who has Down’s Syndrome.  What I thought was so cool…was this particular family planted three apple trees that have an extra set of chromosomes called Triploid to honor their child.  Several varieties of apples with the Triploid Chromosome are Jonagold, Winesap, Mutsu, and Gravenstein Apples (more information found at https://www.starkbros.com/growing-guide/article/growing-triploid-apple-trees).

Wishing you a great week!

 

 

 

The Power of a Teacher

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A Crayon Apron Made for My Daughter, Hayley, by My Teacher, Laura Gordon

    I’m in a pretty intense de-cluttering mode lately.  This morning I went through a bin of my children’s toys and found this sweet child’s apron with hand embroidery work done by my friend and, also, my former high school English Teacher, Laura Gordon.

    It’s been 30 years or so, since Laura gave me this gem and a sweet baby resting basket for my daughter, Hayley, when she was born.  In the past few years, we’ve had a chance to reconnect.  I am awe struck as to how Laura can name the year, class period, and the classmates from the year I met her at Bishop McCort High School.

I loved her class.  She painted her class room yellow; she was excited to share the school  allowed her to pick her own color.  I remember her saying she chose yellow, because this is the color students learn the best.  She bought us Kurt Vonnegut novels with her own money and taught us how to highlight passages in the book.  She shared herself with us…from her husband driving by the school on his way home from work (I think) with a Toyota car horn beep close to 3 O’clock every week day, and Laura stopping class and saying, “That’s Brad, he’s saying hello to me…every day.  It’s his way of letting me know he’s thinking of me.”  When John Lennon was killed in New York City, she dressed in black and explained how she wasn’t sure she could even come to class that day and what the world had lost from this senseless shooting.  In Laura’s class that year and the next year, too, we learned about life, literature, loss, and inspiration.  I was pretty sure I wanted to be an English teacher just like her.

I don’t remember how we stayed in touch as she moved on from Bishop McCort to teach at another school, but I was so thankful to be in Laura and Brad’s orbit, when I became a babysitter for their daughter, Jessie.  It was a blessing to spend time with such nurturing people.  There are so many ways they influenced me; they showed me how the gift of hospitality worked, how to hang wall paper, how to garden, how to really invest in a house and turn it into a home, to showing me the value of a hand made and hand quilted double wedding ring quilt.  It was a whole new world to me.

Life happened. I had one little girl named, Hayley, and a few years later a little boy name, Ben.  Laura and Brad were stalwarts of hope through a confusing time. We lost touch when our schedules didn’t mesh with our growing responsibilities.  Still, Laura checked in with me from time to time.

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For a gaggle of years, we lost touch.   A year a so ago, I stopped by the Gordon house. I briefly saw Laura, when I visited Johnstown, PA. I thanked Brad and Laura for helping me so much with Hayley.  They had made a difference in her life; I wanted them to know much I value them.

Just a few weeks ago, I was shocked and brokenhearted by the news of the passing of their daughter, Jessie, at 34 years of age. It was good to talk to Laura over the phone and to know how she and Brad are doing.  Once again, Laura mentioned the class, period of the day, and my classmates by name when we spoke on the phone.  It was heart warming to reconnect with such fond memories from another time.  Gee–I loved their daughter, Jess, as did so many other people.

I’m still so grateful for people in the world like Laura and Brad Gordon; they are nurturing people, really the salt of the earth.

If you would like to donate to a meaningful and worthy cause, Laura and Brad have set up a memorial in Jessie’s memory; it’s called the Jessie Tree Fund. Use the link below to see what a beautiful person she was, and the huge imprint she has left on the lives of others.

https://cfalleghenies.org/creative-revival-in-memory-of-jessie-gordon/

I don’t think it’s possible to underestimate the power of a teacher to influence a child’s life for good!

I give thanks for Laura and Brad Gordon.

~From a grateful student and friend

 

Grand Parenting in 2018

Face Time w Matilda

From My Phone:  A Picture of Matilda’s Doll House and Me

I don’t know what I’m doing as a grand parent.  Both sets of my grand parents had passed before I was born. Grand parenting in this day and age is a unique experience.  This weekend I visited with my grand daughter, Matilda, using Face Time.  Matilda was playing in her bedroom with her doll house.  She set her mother’s phone in one of the rooms while I chatted with her.  From this picture, it looks like I was put in the bedroom.  This was such a funny experience…talking with Matilda and somehow being apart of her play time, too!

My two requests during this conversation were…one, please don’t put me in the dollhouse bathroom, and two, don’t ‘red-button me’ which ends the conversation.

Have a great week!

Lent and Letting Go

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So, I’ve been thinking about what to give up for the Season of Lent this year.  Each year I try to do something different…like drink more water, eliminate chocolate from my diet, eat smaller portions, do quiet acts of service, not buying any new clothes, etc.  Recently while driving around my neighborhood, I noticed the Hazelnut Orchards were pruned.  It occurred to me if the hazelnut trees need to be pruned, maybe this would be a good time to do a focused season of ‘pruning’ of the things…the ‘stuff’…accumulated around my house over the years and let it go.  I plan to do this in a number of different ways.

Yesterday, I went through two extra large plastic bins of upholstery fabric; I’ve been storing this material thinking someday, I would make a ton of cute teddy bears.  And well, no.  It’s not happening.  It’s time to let all of this material go. I emptied the bins and came up with 4 garbage bags full of different fabrics, loaded them into the car, and took them to Good Will. 

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Today, I went through the garage and gathered the following items together:  Styrofoam, cans and glass bottles for recycling, cardboard, florescent light bulbs, a broken VCR player, and old window shades.

I loaded the car and went to the Fresh Start Market and Espresso on Center Street and Styrofoam Recycling Center in Salem, Oregon, to drop off the back seat full of Styrofoam.

Next, I drove to the Marion County Recycling Services on Griffin Road off of Route 22 to drop off the blinds, cardboard, florescent bulbs, and the broken VCR/DVD player.

Then, I traveled to the Bottle Drop Redemption Center on River Street in Salem, to take care of three bags of recyclables…which amounted to a little under 10 bucks worth.  Here in Oregon, recyclable cans, bottles, and plastic drink containers are worth .10 cents each.  My son, Ben, makes fun of me for going to the Bottle Drop.  He told me he thinks only homeless people go there.  In truth, I’ve seen all types of people there…soccer moms, teenagers, the oldies but goodies (older people). I explained to Ben why I go to the Bottle Drop Redemption Center.  It’s really simple.  I love when I’m done the machine pumps out the reward of cold, hard cash.  Oh yeah!

It’s nice to know we are at the beginning of Lent, because sadly, I have so much more ‘stuff’ to sort through.  I’m determined to work through this Season of Lent and letting go. It’s time to make space for new things to come in life.

Check back to see how I’m doing and for the creative ways I hope to clear things out of my house. Some of the things I want to go and to never return are a pretty decent leather Lazy-boy Recliner, an oak claw foot dinner table, old paint cans, books, and more.

Will I or won’t I be able to park a car in the garage this year?

 

 

Pictures from My Rail Trip

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I took this picture outside of Klamath Falls near Modoc, Oregon while on the Amtrak Train.

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The Wagon Train Cafe found in Truckee, California.

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This picture was taken at 1:50 am.  I’m finally boarding the Amtrak Train to Salem, Oregon from Sacramento, California.

More pictures of this journey can be found at Marionberryquilter.com