Saturday, April 28, 2007

I Think a Change..... Will Do Me Good

I'm leaving...
on a jet plane...
That's right. I'm packing my bag and heading up to the great northwest territory to visit a good friend of mine who moved there last summer. J followed the winds of change and took a leap of faith in moving up to Seattle...a place she had longed to go to. We keep in contact, and from my perspective, it's been a joy to 'watch' her evolve into a softer and more open spirit as she follows her new path ... as Sheryl Crow so famously crooned...
I think a change.....will do you good!
The other day, a commercial caught my eye - $99 fares/one way to Seattle. I just had to think about it. Dear J was all over it...yes, YES! You need to come up! So I am. I leave in early July for 4 days of green,cool, hairy-armpit hippyville, good coffee Washington state. I’m nervous about this. Really. To the point of dread. Stupid, I know. I can think of 17 reasons why I shouldn’t do this. But for some reason, they are all overshawdowed by one simple one:

I need to do this...

for so many reasons...

at least 17 of them...

so I am.

What I Need .... or so Google seems to think so

A couple of blogs that I read are written by some wonderfully diverse gals.... our lives really have little in common in the day-to-day reality. But upon a bit of digging, one, in particular, has more in common with mine than imaginable. Their blogs offered up a bit of whimsy the other day and I, sitting here with my Saturday morning cup of Joe, have decided to entertain the whimsy myself here. What you do is type in your name along with 'needs' into Google. Google graciously supplies you with what you need... whether you knew it or not! So Sadie and Jolene, thank you for the folly!

*Carol needs a nickname - (you're looking at it already.... given name is Carolyn)

*Carol needs to be developed for future advancement - (well, hate to tell you, but I'm NOT going after my doctorate. Checked into it and decided 'no!' If Google is thinking more along the 'personal' design, let's talk!)

*Carol needs to find local vendors - (I do?? ... I must admit that it's been hard to find some things around here...such as cute garden stakes, rainbow-colored popcorn and nice antiques from the mid-west)

*Carol needs Assessment Information Request
- (I'm not sure what I'm assessing here)

*Carol needs to lighten up -
(I TOTALLY agree with this!! In so many ways! Where do I go for this?? Sign me up!)

*Carol needs to be grounded -
(what did I do wrong??)

*Carol needs teapots
- (sure, if you have one you think I should have, bring it on over! I'll makes us some scones and lemon curd)

*Carol needs your advice
- (like I said.... I'm all ears!)

*Carol needs to get over it
- (I'm trying....really, I am)

*Carol needs to be alert during and after delivery - (oh, trust me on this one...I was!! I wasn't about to have 8 pounds of baby pulled out of my body without knowing what the hell was going on every second!)

As complete as the list might appear, no where did Google mention the following:

^Carol needs a serious road trip up to the mountains on the back of a Harley.... (hmmm, I'm still perplexed why this wasn't the first thing that Google mentioned....

^Carol needs an hour-long foot soak with lavendar and rose petals followed by a long foot massage and some reflexology - (this is a given, but not mentioned, either....)

^Carol needs a gift card to some of her favorite haunts to spend without worry or care (ok, perhaps a bit greedy, and definetly more of a 'want' than a 'need')

^Carol needs to sit on an Italian terrazzi sipping lemoncello as the sultry sun begins to sink behind the arched back of a vineyard below...and the moon begins her roll across the Mediterranean night sky...
(Freud would have a field day with this one!)

^Carol needs front row tickets to a John Mellencamp concert (I'm not sure that he's acutally touring, so I'd settle for an empty chair at his next jam session)

*******NOTE !!!
I got to this point of my post, and in crept the 'serious side' of me... I typed in how, in all seriousness, I am so very grateful for my friends, my home, my job.... but it became too serious, and that really is something that I agree with Google on... sometimes I need to 'lighten up'... and I deleted it. So in the 'Google spirit', I am not going to mention how grateful and blessed I am to have such wonderful friends in my life who mean the world to me on a daily basis, nor am I going to go into a big ol' diatribe about how blessed I am to have a home, food on my table, gas for my car or the best job in the world...or healthy kids whom I love, ... or any of the other wonderful facets of my life.

I'll save those for another time...

Saturday, April 21, 2007

tying loose ends...

Just a few notes to scribble from the week... I've been trying to move photos from my cell phone to my laptop, but no luck at the moment, so as of now, the post is photo-less...

I had dinner with Miss K of Simplicity Wins Wednesday, and let me tell you... it was just one of the best times ever! Miss K's home is exactly what I would want for myself... a bit shabby-chic, country and stylish! I love her eclectic collection of decorations, yard art, antiques and goodies in every nook and cranny! I always, ALWAYS feel so comfortable in her home...and I always find it a treat to visit her! Her back yard simply charms the pants off of me! A flagstone 'patio' with dicondra peeking through the cracks, a $5 wall water fountain (Miss K is the QUEEN of bargains!), a garden of pansies, roses, vines, a fig tree, tomatoes, peppers, allysum and the most fertile garden dirt of compost ever! We dined on warm rosemary sourdough bread dipped in olive oil, a wonderful salad of pearl tomoatoes, little mozzarella balls and cucumbers drizzled with a perfect light dressing... flank steak rounds stuffed with feta cheese and spinach, strawberry topped jello with whipped cream, wine, wine, wine and refreshing cucumber water! It was so good to visit with her...she inspires me always in some way after visiting her. So today, I sprinkled a bag of Starbuck's coffee grounds in my gardens because of her! : ) Love you K...and thank you for dinner... always the best of times!

Last night was super fun because my ya-ya's, a bebe ya-ya and my wonderful friend (and boss) got together for some 'nectar of the gods' at Nando's for a much needed happy hour. I've wanted these three lovely and oh-so important in my life! ladies to meet each other...and this was just a great way to do it! It was a wonderful way to end the week.

Today, was a hodge-podge of chores...changing smoke-detector battery, restringing lights on my 'life tree', laundry, gardening a bit, cleaning up the kitchen, my bathroom and bedroom, some computer work, and a bit of organizing.... it was the perfect day to stay home and do this... cold, cloudy, and wet from a night of sprinkles. My kind of day.

Monday, April 16, 2007

take a road trip with me...

A hummingbird whistled by on its way to the tulip feeder hanging from the bough of their first Christmas tree from 12 years ago. Christmas was packed up and the seasons had come and gone while the little Aleppo pine grew into a tall, stately and strong tree. She loved this tree, for it reminded her of childish days spent up in the boulders and pines of Iron Springs at Grandma and Grandpa’s. Whenever the breeze blew strong enough, the sound of the pine needles bracing against the wind took her back to those days of jumping rocks and summer nights.

The sun rays of the morning played a maze among the branches of her English Garden. This was the middle of the Sonoran desert outside of Phoenix, but to her, it was an escape from the reality of sand, cactus, sticks and brown. The Aleppo definetly held court in this corner of the yard, but others had their reign. There was a weathered white arbor at the beginning of the flagstone surface. Red climbing roses made their way up each side, one with more success than the other. Pieces of a whitewashed fountain dotted the surrounding garden. A sundial face with the words “grow old with me, the best is yet to be’ sat atop one of those pieces. She loved it because of the oak leaf and acorn design casts into it. Snapdragons played ‘hide and seek’ among an arch of what use to be the bowl of the fountain. The white wire fencing along the backside of the garden was woven with the green leaves of a snail vine; the purple ‘snails’ inching their way along the aimless vines intertwined. To the right, a weathered porch column held up a bird house with two wooden birds inviting all to stay here past the garden gate. The column has been a find during a quick antiquing trip in Moline, Illinois during a visit to bury her ex-husband’s father. It was a mild relief to an otherwise somber trip. The white, lead laden paint was releasing its hold on the column, revealing a previous owners penchant for green. Around the base of the pine, old insulators of white and turquoise encircled the trunk. She was the eternal optimist when it came to planting and her latest folly included irises, freesia, calla lillys, lavender, English ivy, roses, unruly mint, columbine, a sunflower or two and disheveled catnip. These all provided the setting to the little green iron table with four matching spring chairs that played center stage. A small khaki market umbrella provided additional shade along with a jacaranda tree and a lone almond tree.

This was her paradise. It was her sanctuary. It was sacred to her. It’s where she had her morning coffee on those rare days when she could indulge in the morning revelry. Often she would bring along the two new kittens to scamper among the garden. Bella and Gambit would stalk and attack with kitten force; one pouncing on top of the other from the kitty rock of rose granite. The sound of baby wrens from the under eves of the roof filled the morning air with a cacophony of song. Occasionally a butterfly would flutter by. She wondered if this was her mom’s way of saying ‘hello’. Her mother’s death a year and a half ago still was fresh on her heart. Her biggest struggle with it was the fact that she never felt like her mother was ever with her anymore. Others have said that they can ‘feel’ the presence of their lost one, but not her. Hers seemed to be a solitary grief. Perhaps that was due in part to the wall around her heart. Sometimes it served her well, while other times it seemed to keep out the good, as well.

The Vaseline pitcher of lemonade made for the perfect setting in the garden to sift through the mail by. Bills, a favorite magazine’s newest issue, junk mail and a letter. Typical fair. However, the return address on the letter caught her attention, and her breath, when she saw it. Payson, Arizona. Ahh… Payson. The gate to the land that she loved. Payson was about 75 minutes (65 if Bob Seger sang the whole way) away and oh, what a place it was. Nothing fancy, mind you. A sleepy (but growing) town built in the Ponderosa Pines on the Mogollion Rim. She had made many a trek up there; either going through to another mountain destination, or simply to get away from the desert for the day. Payson was part cowboy, part country. Quaint, slow moving, un-commercialized of the big name stores…mostly. But that probably wouldn’t be for long.

It was on one of these trips that she had caught a rock in the brake drum of her burgundy Tahoe. Oh, don’t mess with her Tahoe! She loved that truck! It was her own world and provided many a soothing mile for music, reflection and adventure! Her friends knew of her love for her Tahoe, and it was humorously respected. The rock had lodged so that it made an awful, metal sound while driving into town, so she stopped at what looked like the first reputable garage to see what damage could be done, and would be done.

The young man behind the counter had dark hair and was hardly older than her 23 year old son. He was pleasant enough and gave the obligatory “We’ll have to take a look at it to see.” Okay, fine. So while the Tahoe was up on the rack, she walked on down the sidewalk to check out the buildings doting this main street. A little cafĂ©, a museum dedicated to Zane Grey, a sewing shop and a book store. All charming and small town.

Returning to see what had been found, she was met by someone different. He introduced himself as the owner and said she was in luck – a rock had caused all of the commotion and had been removed. As soon as the boys put the wheel back on, she was free to continue on her way. “What do I owe you?” she asked. He gave her a quick study, looked down briefly at the grease-stained floor.

‘Oh, great!” she thought. Probably $50 just for a dumb rock!

“It’s on the house.’ was his reply.

"Are you sure?”

“Yep. I’m not about to make a profit off of your bad luck.”

Spreading Your Wings....

You're looking at a Painted Lady.

Really, you are....

My class and I just finished raising 30 Painted Lady caterpillars through the various stages of the life cycle of a butterfly... from baby caterpillar, to chrysalis, to butterfly... My class and I anticipate this unit from the first day of 1st grade and we patiently wait almost two years for the big moment. Last Friday, ya-ya N came on up to school and took some amazing shots of our 'big release'! Each kiddo had their 'own' butterfly which they had lovingly nurtured since day one. We gathered around our library's garden, and I gently took a butterfly from the butterfly 'cage', placed it in my kiddo's hand and they whispered a wish to their butterfly... then... they gently opened their hands and this is a resulting photo. Some chose to immediately fly away...others chose to sit, such as this one.... and let us admire it's awesome beauty before lofting up to the sky. It's always a cherished moment when we do this... and I'm always amazed each time I teach this unit as to how this chubby, black, slow-paced caterpillar takes a nap and emerges totally transformed! In every way!

It's hard not to get ketchy here and toss a bunch of metaphors around about how people go through similar transformations, spreading their 'wings' and taking off!! It's hard not to do that. Partly because I see it happening in those around me. Take my cutiebug friend, Simplicity Wins. Over the last year, she has transformed, changed, emerged into a spirit that is more centered, content, focused. I can not ignore Miss S, whose path over the last 2 years has gifted her with such a beautiful emergence of spirit AND body!! (fly and sassy, I tell ya!) Our other gal pal, Miss D, walks a new path with humor, charm and love... and she is an absolute beauty, inside and out, as she moves!

These are but a few... for when you ponder it, do we not all go through some sort of change? Some type of transformation? Have you? Think about it...
What transformation, whether it be grand or small, loud or subtle...have you gone through lately?

Yes... it is hard not to make the comparison... so maybe it's meant to be made.

... fly ladies, FLY !

Sunday, April 15, 2007

To the Power of 5

What you see here is, truly, the powers of the universe bringing 5 charming spirits together for a wonderful night of margaritas and laughter! My buddy from Prescott and her friend (now my friend, too!) came down for a 'girl's weekend' in the valley and they were so wonderful to pencil us in for Saturday night on their VERY busy schedule! You will remember that Miss S (on the right) was whom N and I ran a jar of lemonade up to last month. Well, she and her friend, the lovely Miss D, came down for a very much earned and needed weekend of shopping and socializing in our neck of the woods...or desert, as it might be! The girls were just stunning! Cute, bright, funny, charming, kind, beautiful and just a stitch! The topics among chips and salsa ran the gammit, from life's lessons, to waxing (oh my lordy, I'll carry that hilarious chat with me for a long, long time! too damn funny!) to guys, to walking your path.... As you can tell, we all had a ball... two sets of ya-ya's...gathered into one. After 3 hours of the best of us all, we headed out to the parking lot to meet Gwendolyn... Miss D's beautiful new PURPLE car! (yes, PURPLE in Purple Rain!) Hugs and kisses were pressed and a new adventure planned with me, Miss N and the beautiful Miss R heading up to Prescott for another round of girl time - to the power of 5!
** Miss S.... your wrist simply SPARKLES, my dear! Delicious!

Friday, April 06, 2007

The Easter B

I don't know why this is cute and funny... but it is....

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Comfort in Concrete

This the work of an angel... truly....

I have a colleague who is, in my opinion, an unsung hero. She takes the ones that some have passed off, molds them, rides them and nurtures them into strong, confident young people. Her tools of the trade are not the usual... they consist of trowels, wheelbarrows, cement bags, tiles, marbles, gravel, grout, cinder blocks and a hose.

Through hard work and team effort, the results grace our campus and sweeten the spirit.

This year, she and her class are creating a memorial garden to honor a fallen hero...a police officer who dedicated his life to keeping you and me safe from drunk drivers. Ironic and tragic, was it not, that his life would be taken.... by a drunk driver. But even though Officer T. is not with us in body, his spirit, being and legacy is the foundation for the garden that my angel colleague is creating with her class.

Why does this merit a post today? Oh, my dear friends, for so many, many reasons... for the memoralizing of a hero... for the unselfish efforts (time, cost, sweat) of this beautiful teacher, for the hard work and spirit of her students who are learning more about life in this lesson than any text book could preach.

But, I must admit... the reason for the post is selfish on my part.
I was walking back to my room yesterday, and the first path stones in the labyrinth had been laid. As I passed by taking a quick look, I was caught off guard by the message that laid before me. Upon reading the marbled message, I felt that the labyrinth had already begun its magic by soothing my spirit... tablets of mortar and concrete softened the edge of hurt that rimmed my heart. I silently walked quickly back to my room...catching my breath.

Today, said angel was back at work with her dedicated students.... mixing concrete, laying forms, hosing off areas, troweling cement, mixing grout and tenderly smoothing out the rough edges of love. I took my camera out and told this amazing woman how much the words that she was laying meant to me... and I thanked her for this gift....still in its infancy, but already having an effect on those who pass.
I've never walked a labyrinth before... my church has one set up right now for the high holidays. I've wanted to do it, but I've been intimidated by the thought of driving over and trying it out. I tell myself that I should really do it this week... to try it...
Whether I make it or not, I have a beautiful, moving one right outside my door.
**to enjoy the path that has begun before you, read the
marbled tablets from the bottom up***
There is much work to be done...and the path is not finished. Over the weekend, some people broke into our campus and destroyed much. Sadly, they broke several of the tablets that my colleague had made for today's path. But she is not daunted, nor her students. New tablets are being made, molded and marbled... for this labyrinth will be laid. This garden will bloom. This hero will be immortalized. And this angel's touch will last... for many, many, many years to come.
Once again... I, the teacher, became the student.