Wednesday, May 28, 2008

baptism and stained glass

I am working on large commissions. One started at work, the other when I was a babe.

An administrator at work saw my stained glass and asked me to make two panels, which would be mirror images. I put it off for this and that, but finally I got set to cut glass...

a rainy weekend and some dedication led to this...

since then nice weather and gardening has delayed the process.

At church I have been given a ministry of talking to parents on their way to the baptism of their child. Last night it happened again. The last time it turned out the woman had grown up two houses away from where I grew up. Life is interesting that way.

This time I had found a new article that talked of how the path to baptism in the early church took as big of a commitment as one does now to become ordained. It was not child's play. It was for adults who were being transformed in Christ. I want the parents to see this as a moment for their own spiritual journey as well as the beginning of their child's.

I sat in my church last night trying to imagine a community where all were ministers to Christ while two friends, who also showed up, talked logistics to the parents. I felt a craving to do what was done 1700 years ago and wished the spiritual exercises had not ended.

Then I thought of that post I wrote about how I had changed over the last ten years since I returned to church.

Like I implied several posts ago, I am unsettled. The exercises have ended, but I crave more.

Monday, May 26, 2008

more thoughts on my job

most proud--

The garden, because it shows the effort, care, and commitment that the students have exhibited over the last nine years. I am proud that my love for gardening and cooking has come together with the students and thus flow into them. I never could have imagined growing lavender from seed, drying the flowers, or making sachets ten years ago. But how amazing is it that I have students who have developed a love for brownies with lavender. Then there is the student, who is all excited about growing his own melons at his home this summer, and he is doing it from seed.

I remember the student who shined in horticulture and I recommended for working off campus. However, he was so nervous he would not go to IKEA. I was asked to go with him to relieve his anxiety. It worked and by the time he left Pathway he was employed at a job, which he has kept. It wasn't with plants, but I am proud of him and all the students who learn a thing or two about being a worker while being in horticulture.

I am proud that through our hard work, we have been able to sell veggies and herbs at a low cost to members of the Pathway community. I try to see this as a benefit to my co-workers.

I am proud that we do all of this while having fun.

needs: what would make it better---

I am in need of time. When I started the program, all my classes were horticulture classes. Then I was asked to teach a science class. Then I was asked to teach another science class. With the sampling class taking another spot, I am now down to three horticulture classes and the students in the functional academic classes do not get the time to be in horticulture as they did before the changes. It is true that opportunities arise in the summer for most of the students on campus to participate in horticulture.

As I write this there are three weeks left in the school year and many activities taking away from time in the garden, so it is clear that my greatest need is time. It is hard to expand the program. It is hard to find room for more students and give them the time they need to succeed. It is hard to help maintain other areas on campus. With time, I could do all these things.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

first two questions about my job

don't know why I talk so little about work, but I was asked to answer these questions so here is a heaping spoonful...

short description of my program... The main focus of the program is the vegetable and herb garden located at the greenhouse. The students and I started the garden nine summers ago with four beds and it now has 25 beds which are 2o feet long by four feet wide. We grow our veggies from seed. Some started inside (peppers, tomatoes, eggplants, basil) others sown directly (radishes, lettuce, cilantro, squash). The students play a major role from the beginning as we select seeds from catalogs, plant seeds, pot seedlings, prepare beds, transplant, weed, water, fertilize, harvest, sell across campus, and cook with veggies. They truly get to experience it from start to finish, a full cycle and thus become connected to the natural world and its seasons. For the last two years we have incorporated bread baking during the winter in which we use dried herbs from our garden.

We also maintain a flower garden, many of which we start from seed. The students also learn about a variety of house plants which are kept inside my classroom. Our time is limited but we do manage some other tasks around campus and respond to calls to weed areas and last fall we helped plant mums around the school on a day volunteers came to Pathway. We also rake leaves across campus which we use as mulch.

goals of the program... For all my students I expect to see them become more employable whether or not they choose to work with plants. I have seen students become active gardeners at home, become curious about the nature of plants, understand how plants function, feel confident to care for a house plant, and eat a greater variety of veggies/herbs. I hope that those who don't go on to garden, will one day see a globe amaranth, snapdragon, zinnia, or marigold and smile as they remember growing a flower garden at school. It is also a great thing for them to know how their food is grown and know how to do it themselves. They will be reminded of this every time they eat a pepper or carrot. They now know the great flavor of a fresh locally grown vegetable. They do all of this while learning how to work as a team, increasing their physical stamina, and learning how to care for living thing.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

helping the economy

As we parked, I said, " so the rules are..."

well, it came down to a list of behaviors that annoy us when we are in our booth. The biggest rule was not being a big tease.

Well, I am sure the good folk in DC wanted us to pump money into the crafter economy and thus we headed into the 10th Annual Tile Festival at the Moravian Pottery and Tile Works in Doylestown, PA.

first we decided to buy something bigger than we normally would...

art tile made P (squared) Ware in Downingtown, PA by Patricia Brown Tolton

then these squirrels caught our eye...

art tile made by sligo creek tile co. in Takoma Park, Md. by Linda and John Hume

Then Mosaic woman thought she needed something for her studio...

art tile made at Clay Rat Studio in Souderton, PA by Eric C. Boynton

so I said, "I am going to buy something from that booth," a booth we have entered every year with out buying one thing

Art tile made by Motawi tile works in Ann Arbor, MI

Sunday, May 18, 2008

praise to the potter

30 minutes after the trombonist declares a Hymn of Praise has begun, Mosaic Woman and the other 100 or so members of the Academy Chorale climb onto the risers behind the orchestra. 60 minutes after they emerged to sing, I am present to that trombonist again who is crying out into the evening by himself.

The men sing out... "Let all that has life and breath sing praise to the Lord."

The women join in and with the intensity the line deserves, the concert ends. We applaud to praise the performance of Mendelssohn's Symphony No. 2. To praise the gifts of those whose passion for music have been revealed.

Nine hours earlier I am handed a ball of clay. With Jeremiah (18:1-6) and Paul (Romans 9:21) in my head I am told to do this... For twenty minutes keep your eyes closed, and get to know the clay.

as I worked the clay I pulled out a variety of ridges... stained glass, jazz, music, gardening, Mosaic woman, teaching, science, friends, church, prayer, doodling, family. I didn't name them as I went, I just knew there were plenty to make and I kept working those ridges. But when I worked the one side (of what Mosaic Woman thinks is a jaw bone of an ass), the other ridges were faced down in the palm of my hand. It occurred to me that if I just relax in God, his hand will shape me; smooth out those sharp edges. When I allow God to be part of this formation of who I am , the other parts that are resting gently in God's hand are still being shaped.

Last weekend I went out to weed a Hosta bed that runs down the side of our house. God, worked another part of me as my attention was caught by a movement in my neighbor's dogwood.

I love warblers and in years past I have spent the first two weeks of May celebrating their migration. This year one came to me. Four days later, between a stained glass store and my parent's condo, I stop by the Monocacy Nature Center, a home away from home 25 years ago, and a warbler hot spot in the Lehigh Valley.

I didn't see any warblers on that short walk, but there was that deeper desire: to stand still and listen to water flow and birds sing.

Saturday, May 17, 2008


That's how it feels right now. and I don't know how to write about it. So I turn to Julie Miller.

Her CD, Blue Pony, is one of my favorites and I had not listened to it for a couple years. I hoped something would resonate.

I have been openly telling my life story to a new friend, who I wish lived closer. She came to my school on three occasions to train us teachers this past year. After the second visit I e-mailed her and said I thought we would be friends if she lived closer. She agreed, but I did not keep the messages flowing. After the third visit, I e-mailed her to say that I would have made an attempt to be social with her, except for the fact that I had signed up for a silent retreat which started two hours after the training. She e-mailed with questions about the retreat and I did not stop the flow.

The scientist inside wants to know why I can see a person and sense a new friend, or in the case of Mosaic Woman, a person to intimately share a life. But the part of me which is glad the world is still filled with mysteries, is feeling joy when yet another e-mail arrives from my new friend and is glad to leave it there as a mystery. I fall into a trust as I tell her how I have arrived here in 2008 over a series of e-mails, and I am blessed as her story unfolds in the messages sent back to me, and I listen to Julie Miller sing these words:

By Way Of Sorrow (Julie Miller)
You've been taken by the wind
You have known the kiss of sorrow
Doors that would not take you in
Outcast and a stranger
You have come by way of sorrow
You have come by way of tears
But you'll reach your destiny
Meant to find you all these years
Meant to find you all these years
You have drunk a bitter wine
With none to be your comfort
You who once were left behind
Will be welcome at love's table
You have come by way of sorrow
You have come by way of tears
But you'll reach your destiny
Meant to find you all these years
Meant to find you all these years
All the nights that joy has slept
Will awake to days of laughter
Gone the tears that you have wept
You'll dance in freedom ever after
You have come by way of sorrow
You've come over a stoney ground
But you'll reach your destiny
Meant to find you all these years
Meant to find you all these years
Tinkie Tunes(ASCAP)/Martha Road(ASCAP)


Sunday, May 11, 2008

stuck in one's head

Mosaic Woman has been walking about saying, "IVE GOT MENDELSSOHN IN MY HEAD!"

and for good reason. Since the beginning of the new year The Academy Chorale has been meeting on Tuesday nights to practice Felix Mendelssohn's Symphony No. 2-- "Hymn of Praise." So as in the past when she reaches the week of the final practice and the dress rehearsal, she has the music ingrained in her head. Michael Kemp, the director, would be proud.

I have had compassion stuck in my head.

and for good reason. On the last day I met with my spiritual director, (I will not see him till July) he handed me a book, Love Walked Among Us, by Paul E. Miller. It is broken up into small segments, so I have spent several nights reflecting on Luke 7: 11-17. Jesus meeting a widow on her way to bury her son. The basis of the book is to learn how to love by Jesus's example.

12 years ago I took a personality test and scored low on all, but got a zero on compassion. I may have been a bit stoic at the time. "Just deal with it," was a philosophy that should apply to all in every case.

This week a friend at work was moaning about a task. It must have been my stoic self that was listening at first, but then I was slapped silly by something or other and I said, "give me a pen and a piece of paper", and in the midst of a minute or two the task was completed. Since then I have been filled with the joy of being able to help a friend who was stuck, and wondering why it took me those few minutes to respond. But a desire to be aware is what keeps flowing into my head.

I want to keep my eyes open to those in need, just as Jesus did on that road when a funeral could have just passed by him and his followers as they stepped aside out of respect for the dead and the mourners.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

life, other than craft show mania, returns

After Har Zion, I returned to the things I normally do and it started with work on Tuesday. When I got home I ventured into my garden and blooms were every where. Five flowers including Arenaria montana, sandwort, had blossomed. One of those red wagon perennials I got last fall. The other wort in bloom didn't photograph as well.

I also got back to household tasks, though many more need to be done, but that it always the case. We also got back to updating our ETSY account which had been neglected as we focused on the show.

I got back to reflecting on the life of Jesus, more about that on my next post.

Last night I had time to watch hockey with friends, where at one point she was reading my blog while he questioned me about blogs in general. I found it a bit strange, but this will happen when you don't blog in secret.

Today I had time to make blueberry pancakes with dried lavender, spend time in the garden, take on the hedge that separates my yard from my neighbors (who later on was tending to her red wagon perennials), cut out the pieces of a stained glass which is based on a bird of paradise flower, visit the home of the red wagons, and I had time to listen to some live music... a full life in one Saturday.

The music we saw was Svitanya, which means "the light at sunrise"--- nine women with beautiful voices.  I wish I could have found them singing Shen Khar Venakhi, a Georgian hymn which praises Mary... a translation-- "You are a grapevine in blossom, a beautiful plant in Eden, a fragrant poplar in Paradise. You blessed by God, are a shining sun." It would have been perfect for my gardening workshop. Listen to other, but just as beautiful voices, sing it here.

a day full of blessings, and I didn't even greeting the day with mosaic woman, thai food for lunch, a bachelor's button bloom, listening to jazz while getting caught up with the budget (well semi-caught up), lentil soup for dinner, and the bandage that came in handy when I was cutting glass, and the crazed cats for stopping their angry chase, as they ran in my direction while I was on the ground gardening.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

after the show

exhausted, but back at work I was gardening with the students. People ask how the show went... if they have the time they will hear this...

First off there were more friendly faces on Monday than Sunday (who would have guessed), and now it was faces I had seen before. The woman who taught the Lenten retreat which inspired a few of my designs came with her husband, a minister with Mondays off. On their heels were my parents. Then there was my friend with pancreatic cancer along with his wife. And finally a friend from church who drove twice to see us, on Saturday before the show began and then on Monday after reading my last post.

There was a woman whose boxes were in my way when I was groggy and feeling rushed early Sunday morning, but who I chatted with off and on through out the show and grew to like more and more. Thank God for time to dash first impressions.

There was the feeling that our display was much improved, and with ideas to make it better.

There was the feeling that we both had, that even though the sales did not meet our hopes, we were glad we went on the adventure.

Then there was the guy who when I asked if he needed a hand, said "feel free to applaud."

I may have given a wise response back to the man. Both of our spouses may have sighed.

Thus I met Barbara and Louis Booth, who came from Long Island, so had the extra expense of hotel rooms. Lou makes jewelry and though he does 50-70 shows a year, had never ventured into Pennsylvania before. He was filled with jokes, advice, stories, and angst about schools and teachers. That story made me sad for how some teachers treat their students and a desire that I continue to strive to treat my students as humans who deserve compassion and respect. I may have lost some points when I told him I was a teacher, but I gained many when I told him that I made bread with my students. He was a great neighbor to have for two days.

here is our new Honda Fit set to go home, to see some craft fair photos, click here

Sunday, May 4, 2008

crafting as adventure

On August 29, I got a comment on my blog letting me know that I was not the only person in the world that carried their own mug to the Jesuit Retreat Center in Wernersville, PA.
Eight months later, that blogger showed up to meet me and to buy a mosaic she had eyed here on my blog. She was the first and only friend who showed up today at the Har Zion Craft Show. Thanks, it was great meeting you. Mosaic Woman in glad one of her favorites is in your house.

To quote the Beatles... I am so tired....

Started preparing for Har Zion immediately after work on Friday stopped Saturday night at 11:30 when I was truly grateful that the Honda Fit I ordered in December showed up in Lansdale this week. We sank into bed last night feeling as if we had been packing for a move. Up at 4:40 this morning, 3.5 hours to set up the booth, 8 hours of hope to sell, hope to see friends, hope to eat Indian food on the way home, hope to pray tonight, hope that I always get good folk as neighbors at craft shows, hope to get some sleep...

Friday, May 2, 2008

preparing for Har Zion #2

for me (mosaic woman would agree) the fun part of preparing for a craft show, is crafting...

A colleague of mine commissioned two 11x17 inch panels and I worked up three designs. She liked two, so I decided to do smaller versions for her to see in glass. She liked both but preferred the top and asked for two larger like that, and then bought the one below. First thought in my head was... "No, you can't buy it, I need it for the Har Zion craft show in Penn Valley this weekend." Some thoughts just need to float in and float and out.

Below is the third version of this design. No darkness here. I will try to sell this and the one I judged poorly at the craft show. Hopefully someone like this guy shows up and sees the beauty in it.

and then there is the design I came up with on retreat at Wernersville and then worked on the day and night I prepped for a my colonoscopy. Catching the blue greens by camera was quite difficult.