Monday, May 27, 2013

Strudelfest 2013

Strudel dude with his family
I am a bit toasty. But even before this busy weekend, I could not recall how long it had been since I had seen my parents and my sisters for three consecutive days. Well it didn't quite happen because one sister skipped the picnic on day two. But all made the drive to my place today for a strudelfest. Now I'm wishing this weekend could stretch on for a fourth day, but not necessarily with family. Just a day to be a slug.


Friday, May 24, 2013

The Differentiated Instruction of Playing Jazz in a Horticulture Classroom

I often have jazz playing inside my classroom. The other day I was listening to the Esbjorn Svensson Trio when the end of 7th period approached. I Thought about the next group of students and decided something a bit mellower was in order. I checked out my jazz stash and went with some Mel Torme.

It worked well.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Unfolding Outward From a Quercus Alba ~ the interconnections of a Pennsylvania forest

Every year we are asked to place something on a table and/or wall to celebrate learning in our classroom. So last week, my students entered my room to see Quercus alba written in the center of a large piece of paper. I told them I had an idea. I told them it wasn't that clear.
And so it happened. We discovered the ecology of a forest in Pennsylvania.
I said ~ Tell me organisms that connect with White Oaks.
They began to tell me things ~ Humans, and many others eat the acorns. Gypsy Moths eat their leaves. Great Blue Herons nest in them. And the forest unfolded.
What shelters? What eats? What parasitizes? What competes?
I would say ~ choose this or that organism? Find me five connections.
If they told me something general like, frogs, then In most cases I would tell them to find me one living in Pennsylvania. If I wanted a connection between two organisms, I told them to search one out. We discovered new organisms and strange connectors.
I need to do this again.


Sunday, May 19, 2013

Celebrating the Blue and Violet Flowers of Longwood Gardens and my Friend Paul Grecian

Blue Flowers with Paul Grecian
at Longwood Gardens
Photo by Wayne Stratz

If I can hope for traditions to be created, going to Longwood Gardens with my friend, Paul Grecian, will be come an annual event. Twice we have gone on my spring break from teaching. The first time tulip blooms were peaking and we barely spent time inside. Well I did pray for an hour with succulents. This time it wasn't too spring like outside so we made our way through the glass houses. The blue beds caught our eye on the way in, but it was at the end of the trip that we spent time there.

Paul may be my favorite photographer. We own two of his pieces and spending time with him slows me down. I spend more time in an area and possibly come home with better photos to share here.  The drive to Longwood is filled with some great brainstorming about being in the business of creating and selling art. Hope to be back next year and the year after that... 

Hydrangeas that surely would have 
delighted Mosaic Woman ~

Hortensia Hydrangea
 Hydrangea macrophylla
Mathilda Gutges
photo by Wayne Stratz

Hortensia Hydrangea close up
 Hydrangea macrophylla
Mathilda Gutges
photo by Wayne Stratz

A poppy that was past its prime,
 caught my eye ~

by Wayne Stratz

by Wayne Stratz

Then I saw my chance to see Paul
 in a wave of Echiums

Echium candicans
photo by Wayne Stratz
Pride-Of-Madeira and Paul Grecian
Echium candicans
photo by Wayne Stratz

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Loyola Press celebrating Jesuit inspired art

I am still pondering a question my spiritual director asked me while I was at the Jesuit Center. That post is coming. My Forgiveness mandala is a piece I designed while on retreat. We had a large wooden base hanging about our studio, I drew a circle, grabbed pencils and a mighty erasure and headed off into silence.

I am sure you have assumed that many an artist are inspired by their faith and by Ignatian spirituality. Well, Loyola Press is highlighting some great people. Check it out.

And how kind of my friend Michelle to speak of my art when she spread the word of what Loyola Press is up to.


Monday, May 13, 2013

Wisdom of Hafiz and in glass

I am thinking about how art emerges while I am on retreats, as I work on a piece designed at the Jesuit Center months ago. This past weekend I entered silence and left with five designs for commissions. While there I read some poems by Hafiz over and over. This one spoke to me as I tried to be still ~


sit there right now.

Don't do a thing. Just rest.

For your

separation from God

is the hardest work in this world.

Let me bring you trays of food and something

that you like to


You can use my soft words

as a cushion

for your


Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Revisiting The Mystics

Irises in my yard delight my eye.
For most of 2012 I was celebrating mystics on Mondays. Inspired by a gift from a friend, Mosaic Woman and I were reading a "Love Poem From God" every night. It faded and we never got to the last three mystics.
The new rector at my church, asked me if I would return to my old habit of leading classes for adults, so on Tuesday nights I have been reading some of my favorite love poems from God. I chose seven of the nine mystics which will takes us through the month of May. A different mystic each Tuesday.
Now I spend a few moments as I greet each day. I just got home from a night filled with the wisdom of Saint Thomas Aquinas. Here is a love poem from God from this mystic ~
When you recognize her beauty,
the eye applauds, the heart stands in ovation,

and the tongue when she is near
is on its best behavior,

it speaks more like light.

What does light talk about?
I asked a plant that once.

It said, "I am not sure,
but it makes me

Maybe it is time to visit the three that were neglected.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Being Greeted

The best thing about the commute is the greeting that happens when it is over. On Friday I stepped out of my car to the sight of a most splendid tulip. By the time I had made it to the porch, a second tulip called out for some attention ~
Then there is Bobo, who belongs to my neighbor. Bobo has been greeting us for years. Saying "Bobo" is just plain fun. You never know how Bobo will respond. On this occasion Bobo yawned ~
Once the flowers and cat have greeted me, it is time to get the business news. Mosaic Woman has been running the business and over a cup of coffee, she gets me caught up with any news. Then I get to step inside her studio to see what progress has emerged ~