Friday, October 30, 2009

Cat Spy

We have all been sick on and off this week. I barely made it through my teaching day yesterday though the lessons went very well as we were drawing autumn trees and making Jack-o-lantern collages. I was really reluctant to call off of work for the next day so I went home and slept till 7 pm but I felt hardly better so I called out sick. So on this day, Friday, I sat up on the couch and began lacing the braided of our rug together with lacing cord which takes a long time but it is relaxing and rewarding, watching it get bigger as we go. However, Sam and I discovered that if the rug is not layed flat and there are any raised areas than it can cause the rug to not sit flat and it gets worse as you go and so I had to undo an hour or so of work to start over again. Having spent so many hours working on this thing, it is really important that it comes out right. Feeling slightly better I drove Sam and I to Isabella's school for her Halloween parade. Isabella's favorite pasttime is spying on people in the building which she has done on quiet days when we stay in on the weekend. Isabella combined her love of spying with cats and so she is a 'cat spy' for Halloween with the tail and ear accessories. We went into her classroom where her class was having a pot luck lunch and after which we painted Isabella's face. Sam and I did this together, taking turns whenever the other got stuck. We stood out in the yard watching each grade level make their turn around a giant circle to show off their costumes and all to the sound of Halloween related classic tunes like "Werewolf in London, Thriller and Monster Mash." I have been napping since we have gotten home and feel a bit better but still on the mend. Hopefully tomorrow I will be well for Halloween festivities of pumpkin carving, and trick or treating.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Art Teacher

I have been teaching art for the past few days at two different schools and all this came about because I elected to be one of the teachers consolidated at my site. This has turned out to be a blessing or gift of sorts and I am happy not to have the responsibility of a regular classroom teacher. On Monday I was thrown into a new schedule consisting of 6 classes in a day with only paper and crayons to start and with only about 10 minutes of preparation time. However I have stored numerous art lessons in my head from teaching art in New York long ago and as a classroom teacher so I was able to throw something together that was appropriate. Both schools are super lacking in art materials so I hope to nudge the principles into ordering some immediately. The first school that I went to didn't even have drawing paper. This will be a grassroots program that I will be running here. The two schools are quite opposite to one another; one school in the urban valley of dangerous Oakland the other high up in the hills almost completely surround by nature, one school is primarily latino with smaller than average class sizes and the other primarily African American with few classes but larger than average class sizes, one school has me go to each teacher's classroom for art while the other school has given me my own art room. Today I taught only 2 classes but spent the rest of the work day setting up the art room which has a great shortage of materialss. All in all I am thrilled to have a new opportunity and hope to make a positive impression in both schools. Sam and I are still braiding the rag rug but we are getting closer and closer to the finish. Both of us have been without much sleep for the past two nights but we try to catch up with naps here and there when we can.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Life presents sudden changes

So today I made a crazy bold leap to leave my position at my school. It was reported to us that due to the under-enrollment of students we would have to consolidate as a school, meaning 3 of our new teachers would have to be given other assignments elsewhere in the district. I wouldn't have been affected by this but I opted for the chance to leave and do something different though I do not know where that will land me, only that I will remained paid my current salary. Our family has been waiting on word to move to Canada to be reunited with Sam's family and so I knew that I would be leaving sometime within the school year so life provided a clear way for me to leave my school in a positive way. The crazy part is that we were given the news during breakfast at an inservice work day and were told that those opting for reassignment would have to make up their mind by lunch. I called Sam and we both decided that it would be a good thing all around and that leaving my students now would be better than later and it would save one new teacher from having to be relocated. So who knows what this will bring but I am positive at least that I made a good choice. I have one more week with my students and will not be able to tell them until the district has made its plans official. We went out to dinner at Los Cantaros to celebrate the changes that lie ahead and now Sam is tucking Isabella into bed while Jude is at his 2nd attempt at going to bed.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

No time like the present

Slowly reaching our artistic goals but life sure does make things challenging. School has been keeping me busy and home life with baby Jude keeps us all very busy but Sam and I set a bit of time every other night to work on the rag rug. I have a hankering to do some paintings from the canvases that I built out of an old crate that we have had sitting out on the patio for quite some time. I used the ends that were already in a squarish shape and cut to size masonite boards to fit over the frame which was nailed down with nice old flat head nails. A very rustic frame but what to paint on it? I am eager to paint portraits but do not have a model to work from yet. I have had the thought to photograph some of my students but I see them so much I would rather approach a subject without any excess feeling about them that will get in the way. I prefer having strange new faces to work with that I can interpret in my own way. I am also working towards finishing two new sketch book journals to add to my shop. I have bought a nice sturdy watercolor paper that I think will work very well. Doing a little bit of what makes you happy even for 15 minutes a day does make a difference no matter how hectic ones schedule can be.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Napa Day

Today we ventured out early beginning with a run to Whole Foods to get some pastries before heading up to Napa for some wine tasting. We drove up to a favorite vineyard of ours called Christopher Creek which has been established well over 30 years and offers free wine tasting. We wanted to catch a view of the grapes before they are all harvested and we got to taste a few off the vines that make their delicious Syrah's. After this we drove towards the coast which turned out turned out to be a lengthy detour that sent us for hours on windy roads through the hills and valleys of wine country and beyond. Sam got a bit car sick so we pulled over and I went exploring down a steep steep hillside which led to a creek at the bottom. I was disappointed to find little of interest in the creek but found some interesting things in the upturned soil near a wash. I picked up a piece of chert that looked chipped away around the edges and then found a small fragment of obsidian which looks a bit out of place. On my way back up the hill I tried to cross over the narrow wash by some giant roots that made a nice bridge over it and suddenly the roots which had appeared sturdy broke from under me and I fell 5 feet on the rocks below. For a split moment I was sure I really hurt myself, even broken or fractured my left leg, ankle and knee which turned awkwardly when I landed. However, by some miracle I got away with pulled muscles and a few tender spots and was able to climb my way back up the hill to the car. We drove a few hours down the coast of route 1 soaking in the scenery painted in pink and warm hues by the setting sun. The baby cried several times as it got later and later and each time we pulled off to feed him and calm him down before continuing. By the time we got home it was nearing 9 o'clock and since we hadn't eaten we ordered a pizza with pineapple on one side for Isabella. At about 10 Isabella finally went off to bed and at 10:26 we have just gotten Jude to bed and Sam and I will watch an eposode of the Office on the computer before we too turn in.