Sunday, March 31, 2013

Lent is over, will the news begin ~ Commuting with Bruce Cockburn's Pacing the Cage

So do I go back to the news? Mainly do I go back to listening to NPR on the way to and back from work? I am not sure I want to.  I do miss aspects of it, but can I get that in other ways.  So tomorrow, we will see.

My final commutes during Lent was with Bruce Cockburn and the song which struck a cord was Pacing The Cage from his Charities of Night CD.  The opening image is powerful to say the least.  

Sunset is an angel weeping
Holding out a bloody sword
No matter how I squint I cannot
Make out what it's pointing toward

But then these words really got me~

I've proven who I am so many times
The magnetic strip's worn thin
And each time I was someone else
And every one was taken in
Powers chatter in high places
Stir up eddies in the dust of rage
Set me to pacing the cage

 For 26 years I have taught and been judged worthy to teach another year.  The schools have changed. I have changed. The supervisors have changed.  And yet I must do it again this year.  My supervisors get a quick glimpse of me.  Swipe my magnetic strip. And the system continues. 

I understand pacing the cage.  I have seen it in caged tigers, students in my classroom, and tonight in myself as I was finishing up an IEP.  I call it caged tiger syndrome. I briefly thought I had deleted a lot of an IEP from the online site. I paced the cage ready to face my supervisor.  So I called a colleague, who stopped the pacing, well most of it.

Friday, March 29, 2013

This year's Watch ~ foiling and praying

I am not so hot with sitting still and so I entered my studio at 10:00 this morning. At that time seven pieces had been foiled. By 11:05, all were done.
Near the beginning I read a reflection by Fr. James Martin, SJ. It asked us to consider the human side of Jesus pondering a failure as he suffered. Had his ministry been for nothing? Where do we see ourselves failing? Some students came to mind. But no matter the journey they have taken this school year, I'll have hope for their future. Maybe that hope is what has allowed me to continue on as a special education teacher for 26 years.

I also took a break from the foiling to browse scripture, this passage from Matthew struck me ~

"Go and learn the meaning of the words: Mercy is what pleases me, not sacrifice. And indeed I came to call not the upright, but sinners."

Ironic. Sad. To come with a message of saying sacrifice is not what God wants, then to be asked to sacrifice his life. Can we be grateful? Can we experience the joy of Easter?

And surely jazz was flowing as I prayed and foiled. A few years back a friend gave me a CD, Jazz Meets Hymns by Juju Song. Wish I could have found a video of Were You There When They Crucified My Lord, but I did find this ~

May our prayers take us into deeper places.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Being the straight man in this endeavor

My last post I celebrated being able to explore color in the letters of GARDEN, so here I was cutting out white glass today. Mosaic Woman wanted to do a new word inspired by how learning the Alexander Technique has helped her to feel less body pain in and out of the studio. I had an idea.

Rough drafts got smoothed out as we consulted and finally all that was left was color choice. I said, "White." No client wanting white, and yet after the joy of cutting out GARDEN in oranges, I wanted to do it in white.

I was seeing myself as the straight man in a comedic team. I was setting up the situation knowing what beauty can and will emerge when I walk it into her studio. And on this day when so many of my friends are hoping for a bit more equality to emerge into this country, I couldn't resist being the straight man who is hoping right along with them.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Celebrating Colorful Letters: a garden sign commission emerges

Margaret and I must be doing something right because house number and word signs commissions have been steady business for Nutmeg Designs. Today I cut out what will be our 8th house number of the year. I don't tend to complain, but hey, I am the dude who love to create things like this:

... And nearly every commission features white or off-white or black or dull pink glass for the lettering/numbering. Then Margaret gets to play with colors in the background. Well a while back we made a welcome sign with some splendid orange glass. A new client dug it. I redesigned GARDEN, and then with a pile of scraps I went to work. Placing the pattern pieces down here and there to capture all that glass had to give.

Monday, March 18, 2013

No News Commutes is about being on the road with James Keelaghan

Been wearing out a James Keelaghan CD lately as I continue with no news during Lent. I will likely switch it out tomorrow. This song reminded me that I am thankful for a relative short commute and a job that does not take me away from home, away from love.
Musicians are a brave lot. They take a chance to survive doing what they love to do, but in the process find themselves far from their home, their love. Next time a favored musician rolls into my area, may I be ever grateful for the sacrifice being made.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Talking Technology with the RevGals

The gates I go through to escape
the internet
The RevGal prompt is about technology this week

Although you won't know this, I am pre-posting this ten days ahead of schedule, because my husband and I are going to be in Washington State during his spring break (from teaching at a local community college). His parents have very recently moved into a senior living facility. We will be staying at their home, which will not have some of the furniture and supplies like we are used to. What I am dreading is no computer, tv or telephone, which also means no wifi connection. This is showing my dependence upon these technologies.

For this Friday Five, let us explore our use of and desire for such items.

1. What types of technologies, like cell phones, computers, tvs, etc., do you routinely use? How frequently?

I can go days without using my cell phone and also the TV. However, the roku box and streaming netflix has it on a bit more often. The computer is daily, the iPad and iPod Touch are also daily. Stereos play jazz at work at home and while traveling. I use the Ipod in my car since it connects easily with my stereo.  

2. What social media and/or games do you like to play? How often? On which device do you occupy yourself? Which method of social media do you prefer?

Games none. Facebook and Twitter is most often for social media, which means throughout a day. I also hang around Flickr, Pinterest, and Instagram but less often and not everyday. iPad has become device of choice at home except for Flickr, because I tend to use images I have taken on my camera and transferred to the computer.

3. Do you separate online activities between home and work? Or is it all the same everywhere? 

 I teach.  I check e-mail and facebook at lunch but otherwise I am not on it.

4. Do you have a smart (or I-) phone? 

 Nope. When I thought of a smart gadget, I thought I wanted a big screen, thus the iPad and the data plan is so much cheaper. Since I don't use my phone much at all, I can get by with 100.00 a year pay as you go plan

5. What do you wish you had--or do not have--in relation to these devices? 

 I wish I could give myself internet breaks more often at home, but I do not. But when I go to the Jesuit Center I am offline the whole time there. Eight days of silence cleanses my soul from the internet. Ironically I use my phone more often... I call home every night and chat with Mosaic Woman

Bonus: What is the difference between your attitude towards these means of technology and a generation older or younger than you? 

From younger folk, I don't play games or text. I think I have incorporated technology in my classroom more than most teachers my age and older.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Seven Thoughts on spontaneously signing up for a retreat at the Jesuit Center

Looking Up at the Jesuit Center
Wernersville, PA

  1. Monday night remember that you love creating new designs in Wernersville and see that a retreat is happening the next weekend. Sign up on Tuesday. When you are the only male to show up, read the fine print to see if it was a women's retreat. It wasn't. Still have the longest hair in the room.
  2. bring a camera so you don't have to count on old photos to head the blog post.  
  3. spend prayer time designing a Wisdom stained glass panel and a turtle.
  4. Turtles ~ mention in a news letter that you are thinking about creating a turtle. Get a commission that will include a turtle. Go on a retreat to design the turtle. Laugh when the retreat leader pulls a turtle from her bag. She uses it to remind herself that good things may take a long but slow journey.
  5. Wake up on the Sunday and draw a design for the nun who introduced you to Wisdom. Then take an erasure to the panel you had designed. Start the background over. But keep the moon.
  6. If you are fighting off a cold, a silent retreat just may not be the source for a miracle cure.
  7. When a woman's face shines amongst all the others, draw her a card with wisdom shining upon a focal point. Be brave and give her the design as you pass in a hallway. Accept her hug. Later give her your address when she asks, be filled with hope that you have made a new friend. It can happen at a silent retreat.
and one more thing: on Monday remember what may be the most important thing that flowed into your brain ~ You would rather lose your job before you lose your sense of humor.

Friday, March 8, 2013

No News Commutes ~ Greg Brown is searching for Rexroth's Daughter

Who are you searching for?  Maybe the tune will float up some people from your past. Sometimes I wonder how long this man could sing to a tune.  

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Nutmeg Designs celebrates their first baby mosaic with a video

a celebration of birth
Nutmeg Designs
This is the first time we placed a baby's name into one of our mosaics.  What a joyful thing to be asked to create. And how kind of the recipient of this commissioned gift to have given their child the name of one of the greatest sax players to ever play jazz.  Once I handed over the letters on a piece of slate to Mosaic Woman, she took lots of process photos. I took the photos of her grouting.  See it emerge here:

Monday, March 4, 2013

No news is opening my heart of Hearts, a commute with Kate Campbell

this is the only video I could find of the tune that resonated with me today on my "no news during Lent" commute. She leads into the song around 2:45 into the video. It is about searching to find the love deep within us. I personally dig the idea of a rosary made of bowling balls. Of course I imagined them mosaiced by Mosaic Woman.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

an apparently wise decision ~ choosing to attend the World Day of Prayer

art by Anne-Lise Hammann
For weeks I wondered, do I want to do my usual thing ~ linger after work then head off to Owen J Roberts High School to set up for a craft show and miss the annual World Day of Prayer Service.

Or ~ go to the service and wake up early on Saturday morning.

I went with the new path and it was wise.  Friday I let two students crawl under my skin and push buttons so hard that I let them annoy me.  Both ended with a plan to help things go better the next time around, but I was tired as I drove home towards worship.  So sitting in church and watching women from my local community do what women all around the world were doing, helped to soothe me.  As did seeing a fine friend for the first time since a great sadness came upon her.  As did drinking a glass of wine, with some friends at the reception.

and as I sit here 24 or so hours later, I feel blessed to have chosen to rise early this morning.  And hoping I can find a video of the tune that brought forth that community of women last night. (for info on the artist of the poster)