Monday, February 20, 2012


yesterday was "transfiguration sunday" according to my calendar, between epiphany and lent, so i read mark 9:1-13 which seemed fitting. as did psalm 104:3-4. this whole idea of God speaking out of a cloud...i wanted to watch them at all hours of the day yesterday as they transfigured before me.

the best exotic marigold hotel

tv and i, well, we're strangers. except for the occasional weather forecast, i only touch it when dusting. last night, however, i decided to use the one channel i will tune in for, OPB, and catch an episode of "downton abbey". just as the plot thickened, the reception died. "the simpsons" was fine. tv evangelists and spanish soap operas? perfect reception. but no british intrigue. before it died, however, i managed to catch the following movie preview. maggie smith and judi dench teaming up yet again: they are one dynamic duo!

Saturday, February 18, 2012

cozy up with a good book

"program" is not even the right word for the school-wide reading FUN we unleashed this week. for forty-five minutes, the entire campus stopped what they were doing to read together. mixed groups of kindergarteners through eighth graders shared their books with each other. the findings? this generation doesn't need more stuff. they need relationships and shared experiences face to face with good books and good people. cozy up with a good book and a friend at any age, i say!

what hubris?

lest we become serious, nay even too philosophical, this is the sweatshirt my friend wore to orchestra this week. i, having missed a couple of rehearsals, played an extra note (the unexpected solo) and then confessed it, holding up her shirt as a token of my apologies. some first and second violins looked at us askance, not relishing the humor therein. the conductor, however, said, "thanks for the note! it was even in tune". violas rock.


the sun and rain dueled today
like fencers
trying not to step on these


these instruments speak for themselves.

on waking early

usually i write some grand treatise on the many kinds of love for Valentine's Day. this year, i really took delight (Delight in French, see also verb tenses ravir, joie, plaisir) in the fact that a friend not only noticed but remembered and acted upon something i love: poetry. in particular a mary oliver collection that i had not yet read. so deep was my delight that i didn't even need to possess the pages, the remembrance was enough. the pages were a bonus though and i sat with them watching a sunset i wondered if anyone else was seeing while reading the entire book cover to cover. here is one of many favorites to share with you this month of hearts, love, words:


every day i see or i hear something that more or less
kills me with delight, that leaves me like a needle in the haystack of light.
it is what i was born for--to look, to listen, to lose myself inside this soft world
to instruct myself over and over in joy, and acclamation.
nor am i talking about the exceptional, the fearful, the dreadful, the very extravagant--but of the ordinary, the common, the very drab, the daily presentations.
Oh, good scholar, i say to myself, how can you help but grow wise
with such teachings as these--the untrimmable light of the world,
the ocean's shine, the prayers that are made out of grass?

mary oliver
(from her collection "why i wake early")

when shall we set sail for happiness?

ruskin was right. about the trees, that is. i looked this morning on my walk. and i have to say that i have never really paid attention to the shape of branches before quite like he described them. this is just one example of how alain de botton outlines concepts such as paying attention, beauty, contentment and happiness in his book "the art of travel". even this early in the reading calendar year, i predict it will be in my top three reads of 2012. the format of the book itself is genius; botton taking us to a geographic locale with a different guide (wordsworth, ruskin, van gogh...). he really emphasizes not just the "where" of travel, but the how and the why. we, for example, take ourselves with us wherever we go. so it is not necessarily the scenery which makes us happy but our ability to bring our whole interior landscape to any particular environment. i practised this. time: 2:17 on a rainy, rather ordinary friday afternoon. place: park a few blocks from school. walked in the rain. studied a line of trees. i think i'm ready to go somewhere because i realized i was content in that moment. if i could pick just one quotation to whet your appetite for this book it would be, "no changing of place at a hundred miles an hour will make us one whit stronger, happier or wiser. there was always more in the world than men could see, walked they ever so slowly; they will see it no better for going fast. the really precious things are thought and sight, not pace. it does a bullet no good to go fast; and a man, if he be truly man, no harm to go slow; for his glory is not at all in going, but in being" (p. 218). with this book, i have the distinct feeling that "finishing" reading the words is only the beginning of setting sail; that now i can really begin to think about what he's written and hope to embody the truths found on the pages no matter where in the world i might find myself.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

freeze frame

if you blink, you'll miss them. this was certainly true for most of the scenes as i watched the movie "Big Miracle". i did see my friends walking behind drew barrymore in the hallway because i knew what to look for. but it's a whole new way of seeing to watch the background when everything the film producers have done induce you to pay attention to the foreground. my friends had fun dipping their toes in the movie industry alongside cast and crew, as this based-on-a-true-story was filmed onsite in Alaska. working next to barrymore, john krasinki, ted danson and others, they got a taste of how much work goes into such a movie. for more information: but don't blink! (i'll be renting the movie so i can pause and freeze frame my friends' stardom as background hallway crossers, ice scientists and restaurant diners).

support, beauty

words du jour, alert readers, are "dendrite" and "purlin". purlin being derived from 15th century english and having to do with the horizontal support structures in home design & construction (see also "riverhouse" by sarahlee lawrence). and "the clouds that may night looked like dendrites--a word and image that floated to the surface of my mind from the glossy page of a long-neglected textbook" (houghteling, p. 176). i discovered that i had seen this too, looking out the winter window last night, a pale glow of moon and stars on the vineyards and bare branches. dendrite refers to a crystal which has a tree-like form that creates fractal patterns. support and beauty on a macro and micro scale.


having just finished reading "pictures at an exhibition" by sara houghteling, the following sentence struck me as unique, " courses began again as if i had lifted the needle from a record in the spring of 1939 and laid it down in the same groove in june of 1945." i had an experience a bit like that this week; one in which time freezes but your limbs keep moving, somehow. you hear yourself talking but your mind can't quite keep up because it is all so unexpected, surreal. you are connecting dots as you go, dreamlike, touchstones on the past rippling into the future which leave you reeling. same record, different song. ever had an experience like that?

Wednesday, February 1, 2012


february first. ahh. the month of hearts. we start a poetry unit in 7th grade literature. kindergarten teachers set out all of their Valentine books and string hearts across their classrooms. people send valentines. a month where warm fuzzy expression reigns "nonpareil". that is, from the french meaning "without equal". first usage in the 15th century, nonpareil comes from the middle english "nounparalle" and the latin "pariculus" or par equal. (rhymes with "bagatelle") 13 days...who is your "nonpareil" person?