Wednesday, March 31, 2010

trying to imagine these empty porches

A porch was on our wish list when we finally decided to buy a house. We found a street filled with them. These porches fill up when a summer thunder storm stops the flow of electricity or when trick-or-treaters in the hundreds storm down our street. Across the street the porches are scarred.
Yesterday I walked across the street and extended my hand to a man, whose three daughters fill these porches with play. Today as I left the house to run errands, I saw the woman who sits on her porch reading.
I walked across the street and listened to her story. "May you never experience such a thing... " She starts the conversation with a blessing.

She came home late that evening and smelled smoke. Now she runs through the what ifs... if only I had... if only I had...

The night of the fire, I watched as the policeman smashed through her front door. Apparently I had left the window when he carried her out preventing her bare feet from being cut by the glass.
She invited me to enter her house, but I declined, then she shows me a tie rack and a song comes to mind. I will never tell someone who has lost material objects that they are only things...
As I listen to Lyle Lovett sing, I wish I had stepped inside that house...

That picture hangin' on the wall
Was painted by a friend
He gave it to me all down and out
When he owed me ten
Now it doesn't look like much I guess
But it's all that's left of him
And it sure is nice from right over here
When the light's a little dim

Step inside my house Babe
I'll sing for you a song
I'll tell you 'bout where I've been
It shouldn't take too long
I'll show you all the things I own
My treasures you might say
Couldn't be more'n ten dollars worth
But they brighten up my day

Here's a book of poems I got
From a girl I used to know
I guess I read it front to back
Fifty times or so
It's all about the good life
And stayin' at ease with the world
It's funny how I love that book
And I never loved that girl

Hold this piece of glass
Up to the light comin' through the door
It's a prism glass I found on the road
Can you see that little rainbow
Well it's not really a prism I guess
It just broke in a funny way
I found it on my way from Texas
Headed for L.A.

This guitar was given me
By old man Thomas Gray
It's not too much to look at
But I pick it every day
It's been across the country
Four or five times I guess
Between me and old man Tom
It never got much rest

Well that's about all I own
And all I care to I guess
Except this pair of boots
And that funny yellow vest
And that leather jacket and leather bag
And hat hangin' on the wall
Just so it's not too much to carry
Could I see you again next Fall

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Pilgrimage to St Bonaventure's tribute to Mosaic Woman's inspiration

Fire trucks still lined the street at the time we had planned to leave, but their presence all night had been so appreciated that we adjusted our plans without any annoyance. We would go when we could go. The sun coming up showed more damage to the homes. We watched as people in the three homes, which survived without severe damage, were allowed into their homes... long enough to emerge with a bag. Slowly the fire trucks left the scene and as we packed the car, the crew came to board up the houses.
Maybe the trip should have been cancelled, but we went, but not for the brunch we didn't get to, or the bed and breakfast that dazzled us, or the maple donuts at Tim Horton's, or the glass in Corning, or the pie at Bingham's. No we went because... where does this story start.
14 years ago we were preparing to leave Dunmore, PA and a nun, who had introduced Mosaic Woman to the spirituality of Ignatius, told MW to be aware of a place in Wernersville, PA. When Mosaic Woman went there, she saw this...
and this

and one day she knew that she would make mosaics.
and she did.

And one day in a previous blog she wrote about Hildreth Meiere who designed the mosaics at the Jesuit Center in Wernersville. A relative of Hildreth would read that blog post and would eventually buy one of MW's mosaics. Many months ago he sent an e-mail telling MW about this:
so we looked for an opportunity and finally the time was right, and with almost no sleep we drove to Olean, NY, home of St Bonaventure University and walked into the Regina A Quick Center for the Arts.


Sunday, March 28, 2010


Five hours ago, I thought I would look outside and be annoyed by drunken fools. However, it was flames shooting from my neighbor's house that greeted me. The screaming was coming from parents of a child on a second floor. The fire trucks, still outside my house, were not here.

The child jumped onto a blanket being held... (UPDATE I was wrong, it was the father who was trapped. He broke bones but survived! all five homes of the row are empty, two for a very long time)

hoping and praying.

and blessed be the volunteers who have spent the night saving an entire row of houses or even an entire block of houses from being destroyed.

and blessed be the neighbor who walked a couple blocks to see if we were OK.

and blessed be the neighbors whose homes are attached to the one that burnt, who were just let back into their houses to get a bag of stuff.

my plans for the day have changed, but in no way, like it has for the good folk who live across the street.


Friday, March 26, 2010

a day we knew was headed our way...

We all know those hours where productivity drops in work places, but yesterday I was being productive. Fueled by the desire to share some of the ideas that flowed into me at the NTSA conference, I was typing an e-mail when a friend walked in to share some other news. We knew it was coming but when layoffs have names attached to them...

I wish I could say that all the names touched my heart the same. It is not that I was glad that some folk had gotten a pink slip as of June, however, some names caused more sadness.

So we live in uncertainty not knowing what other names will be added to the list.

and I try to remember this... it could be a blessing either way. I am where I am now because I was laid off. It led to a new life filled with all kinds of blessings.

For weeks I have been hearing friends say they couldn't wait for this day. The day before spring break. Here we go.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

NSTA conference in Philly... lets start at the end of the Cosmic Times

I put ice on my ankle

I limped to the train, then to home

A man asked, "Are you OK?"

I fell.

My right foot found a pot hole on a busy street in downtown Philly.

Why am I telling this story backwards...

Lets start here, at home, the night before the conference. I sent a Tweet to a person I had never heard of before.... "which workshop???"

The NSTA conference had 10 billion workshops to choose from, so you need help at times. Often a workshop will call you by name, other times it is a random moment at Twitter.

The woman, to whom I tweeted, works for NASA and she was behind the creation of The Cosmic Times which takes on the human story of unraveling the nature of the universe. Two workshops later it was all over and I headed out into the city to treat myself to lunch. When I am by myself, I will often sit at the counter, which sometimes leads to conversation.

My waitress asked if I was in town for the conference which eventually led to me finding out she has a brother, who has similar traits to my students. Turns out her brother has enjoyed learning history looking at it from the present moment then going back. I said, "Hmmmm..."

It was a short walk up 16th to the train station as my mind worked itself around the idea of heading backwards while teaching the history of the human understanding of the universe... the light turned green... the pedestrian walk light turned white and I stepped forward to cross Chestnut Street.

Maybe next year NASA will fly me to San Francisco so I can co-lecture about my adaptations to their lessons. One has to hope to get there somehow. For now, I am hoping the ice cuts the swelling so I can move with a bit less pain.


Wednesday, March 17, 2010

planning Stratoz style

OK, so I do not use a daily planner. The ironic part is my memory has never been a strength. LIke today, as I was washing plastic domes to put over our planted seeds, I remembered a meeting and was on time, but not exactly early. My computer at work has outlook which I use for the meetings that get scheduled directly into it.
At home we have two months of big events posted on our fridge. If a friend wants to do something, I tell them I will get back to them. If they really want to do it, they can wait for me to check the fridge.
Taking time off from teaching is a great mental health activity from time to time, however, leaving assignments to keep the students busy and to keep them happy makes for some planning. I left work today happy with the plans I left. Happy that the 20 degrees above normal and dry forecast will allow the horticulture students to have fun outside. They are so ready to be outdoors again.
I do enjoy planning what I am going to teach even if I despise (is that strong enough) writing it down. I also enjoy imagining a piece of stained glass and then holding it up to the light...

The starflower has two near identical cohorts, while the Vine of Nasturtiums has one. All will make their public display this Saturday at the North Penn Select Craft Show.
In fact my brain is often coming up with plans, I just don't write them down, so in the near future Margaret and I will be having a big big date. to see...
this that and the other thing.... a forest cathedral

now I guess I need to finish planning my day at the NSTA conference tomorrow... well I do know that I am meeting up with a friend to hear jazz after the workshops.
planning is important

Sunday, March 14, 2010

who needs a daily planner

I have made attempts at keeping one. I have. I really have. But now when I see them in the stores, I feel it would be just a waste of money. Well, I know it would be a waste.
And there are times I mess up. Last week I was talking about going to the NSTA conference in Philadelphia to one of my classes and a student said, "But isn't ..//... happening next Friday." And yes, I had been asked about my availability when ..//..... was scheduled. Feeling guilty, I sent an e-mail acknowledging my imperfections, but not mentioning the brief but quickly fading thought I had of not going to the conference.

...//.... can happen without me.
Now what is happening next weekend was beyond my control... Kind of. You see how could I pass up on the national conference happening in my neck of the woods, even if we had already signed up for a craft show that weekend, and then my father-in-law decided to come to Pennsylvania. How the man planned a four day visit on the four days of the conference is beyond me. So, I can't really not see the man, considering that with this upcoming visit I will have see him, on average, once every 1679 days since I met Mosaic Woman.
OK, so it looks like this... an epic day in Philly on Thursday ending with an evening of jazz at Chris's. Get to Philly early on Friday, but beat rush hour home so I can help Mosaic Woman set up for the North Penn Select Craft Show. On Saturday thanks to two wonderful friends who have agreed to help Mosaic Woman at the show, I will head into Philly, but get back in time to help take down the booth and then an evening with the rarely seen family. Sunday... let me check my non-existent planner... I will head back to Philly for the final four hours of the conference. Who knows, maybe worship with the Jesuits in Society Hill and I have my eye out for a jazz brunch. Do you know of one?
see, who needs a planner when you got a wondering/wandering mind that unfolds with your life. and if I am lucky, I will unfold into some Burmese Food at Rangoon in China Town.
Luckily for now this isn't even penciled in, so I can change plans on a whim.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Imaginative prayer and how I stumbled into a deeper place

I have been trying to pass on my love for Jesuit spirituality to my friends, who gather at Holy Trinity Episcopal Church on Monday evenings. Some have reported how doing an examen has changed the way they view their day, as they are in the midst of their day.

The week I took on consolation and desolation showed how the words of Saint Ignatius can cause both to happen within an hour. This past week I spoke briefly about Imaginative prayer, then guided them through an example.

The example came from a pile I had been given last August when I spent 8 days in silence at the Jesuit Center in Wernersville, PA. I did look at the pile briefly, but the final choice was made quickly as I sat with the group. We imagined Jesus hearing the news that John the Baptist had been killed, then heading off in a boat to find peace from the masses, only to find thousands searching for healing.

In the midst of the discussion, I asked if anyone had imagined a conversation in that boat. Most couldn't, instead they imagined the silence of Shiva. No one speaking to Jesus, who was mourning the death of his relative. I on the other hand imagined the fear after a murder... and a disciple blurted out... "Holy crap, what are we going to do?"

Jesus kept saying, "We are going to be silent." But as typical disciples, I and the rest of the boat folk, kept ignoring the words of wisdom. Eventually someone brought up concern for Elizabeth...

and all of a sudden I was with my three friends who lost sons in their 20's in the recent past. As I prepared to enter that silent retreat last August, one of those friends asked me to pray for her as she would be experiencing the anniversary date while I was in silence. And pray I did, but the few times I prayed on Matthew 14: 13-21, I never thought of John's mom. It turns out that none in that room on Monday had thought of her in all the years we had heard the story of John being killed.

This is why Ignatius and others have encouraged using our imagination. The story becomes alive with us. The story touches our heart. This is why Ignatius encouraged repetition, because we can always go deeper.


Saturday, March 6, 2010

hoping for the elves to come through and a big date to see Bill Frisell


I have a bag full of papers to be graded and material to be prepped sitting under a table in booth number 7 at the Owen J Roberts Craft Show. Any chance the elves that I hope will clean up our kitchen will also take care of those tasks which are waiting in my bag.

Was a bit groggy at the show today, but happy for how the day went. Friends stopped by to wish us good luck. We made a good number of sales. The food was tasty. The other crafters were talented and a joy to be around. and no SNOW!

So we had made a pact that after two weeks of being Olympic late night fools (late for us), we would get some sleep this week leading into the craft show. So there I was going through the mail on Monday when I saw a flier from the Sellersville Theater 1894. I thought..."wonder if they have any jazz coming. Bill Frisell! Thursday night! Dang, how can we go to a concert the night before a Friday which would be a work day followed by setting up for the craftshow."

But Bill Frisell is amazing. He loves music and is not afraid to venture into any genre with his jazz guitar in hand...

and he ended with this tune...

Monday, March 1, 2010

Maybe this can entice you... Bause-Landry caters the Owen J Roberts Craft Show

Maybe you need one more push to come meet and visit with Mosaic Woman and myself at this weekend's show.


Craft show food is what we get, unless we pack our own lunches, well in most cases. One of the benefits of doing the shows together is we get to take lunch breaks from the booth, and if the show is close to a restaurant or deli that looks enticing... some fresh air, a walk, and a tasty lunch can fuel you to get to the end of the day. Talicaro's Sandwich Shop in Boyertown proved to be such a place.

Most shows will offer up something we desire to eat. The Kimberton Waldorf show was the first which had organic food in one building and a huge selection of home made desserts with coffee in another. Can it get better? One can only hope.

So we were interested to research the named caterers for the Owen J Roberts show. Bause-Landry is an operation of three graduates of the Culinary Institute of America. So if seeing the creations by the hands of 80 talented crafting folk has you leaning... and if the chance to see our wonder booth of glass has you pondering.... then what about lunch?

I am always up for sharing a meal with a friend.

We are Nutmeg Designs.