Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Christmas & New Year Greeting 2016~2017

3+ years ago, Ginger came into my home.  Abandoned by some heartless college boys at the door of some kind college girls, Ginger is so cute and loving it's difficult to understand how anyone could 
ever have been cruel to him!  He's alive and well, but going through peanut withdrawals. 
Just found out they're bad for rabbits.  
Along came Shishiko, early last Spring from the shelter. Ginger and Shishi can't be in the same space, but they live side by side in a huge cage my friend and neighbor, Bishop Cornelson constructed for them.
And now there's border collie puppy, Lizzy.  She's instantly a favorite with everyone, including my son and his wife, Karli. She's a whirling dervish of growth, fur, teeth and claws, but believes the entire world was created to love her and she them!  
I adore her, but she's added a delightful layer of chaos to life.

Speaking of Jordan and Karli, this year took them to places like Canada & Hawaii, filming the new BYUTV series which should soon as I'm allowed to say anything, I WILL.  Here they are in Hawaii, celebrating their 3rd wedding anniversary, after filming an episode nearby.
One more--Jordan and business partner, Austin Craig, on ABC doing a commercial for the Pocket Film Festival.  I see these 2 creating some memorable productions with their new company!
By far, the most memorable event of the year for me was the cruise to Japan and Taiwan with Susan Eliason!  AMAZING.  The food could take up several blogs, the ocean never gets old, and I discovered that Asia--all of it--will probably be a lifetime passion.
So, currently, I continue to work as a Japanese tutor on line for NCVPS and began teaching ESL on line to kids is Beijing.  It means getting up in the small hours of the early early morning, but the kids are adorable and a nap after 7-8 classes each morning, leaves the rest of the day open.  Will spend the first weeks of 2017 getting TESOL certified and studying for the Praxis II, in order to certify as a secondary ELA teacher, too.  
Exploring options to produce Twinkle & Luna, Flutter Bye & Lady Dot, 
Bunny Birds & Co. as stories accompanied with ESL lessons 
for an online school in Beijing....we'll see.
After breaking an elbow this summer after the cruise, with lots of hours and help, I threw together this disc for introductory Japanese.  It's not a video, but a bunch of files, images, learning pages and a powerpoint of Twinkle & Luna in Japanese.  It's a first attempt, and was pulled together while sleeping off jet-lag and sleeping off Percocet for pain.  So, it has a long way to go.  
But, it's proved useful to a few home school parents who purchased it, or so I'm hearing. :-) 
2017 should be an exciting year--full of challenges, possibilities and promise.  
Surely there will be disappointments, but what's lovely about reflection is, we can polish up and show case all that glitters and warms our hearts.   
Merry Christmas & the Happiest of New Years to You!

Monday, June 8, 2015

School's Out, Summer's Begun

It's been a particularly wet Spring and early Summer, resulting in
green grass, trees, flowers and spectacular cloud formations.
Rain makes everything grow and the sky, when it clears, is breath-taking.
The Brigham City temple literally glows when the sunsets, 
which seems a fitting shot for the beginning of my final week at Box Elder High. 
This temple, again, is right up the street from the high school. 
I drive past it twice a day, but have never been inside.  Nearly every day I've also worked 2 jobs,
driving approximately 30 miles each way, leaving Logan between 5 and 6 am.
Returning before 5 pm so I can coach Japanese on line out of North Carolina.  
Weekends are for laundry, cooking meals for a week, family, and so forth. 
It's been quite a ride, but I must say, I probably would never have exited. Why?
Have you met the students?  
They're the reason teachers do what they do!
Graduation night was Friday, which created a 16 hour day 
by the time I made it home from Weber State College. 
Playing my part as BEHS faculty, I was able to witness
the happiest of days for a few of my favorite seniors, like RJ, 
who moved here from Pennsylvania.
It's been a tearful week of grading, wrapping up, cleaning up, and letting my room fill up 
with members of the Days and Knights Club, who camp out there most days during lunch.
Our last day of essay writing on Wednesday was based on 
claims founded in themes from The Great Gatsby, but
after that, students, past and current, stopped in to 
watch the rest of the movie, eat snacks,
sign each other's yearbooks and my journal. 
One note, written by a favorite, non-conforming student, brought tears:
Another brought her baby by to see me.  I still remember when she recorded 
 that she was expecting in her journal.  So proud of her for finishing
out that last semester in our L.A. class, and now, 
committing to graduate next year!  Volumes could be written
about students who have filled my heart with
joy and awe, as well as driven me crazy!!!
Now it's time to focus on what's next, like Camp with the Young Women
in my neighborhood church.  I'm their Camp Leader--ha ha!
I do not camp.  Despite making that very clear,  
they asked me to do it anyway.  The cool part is, I'll have a bunch of new
young friends living close by to do crafts, make cookies and so forth!
Jordan and Karli are hanging with friends in Cabo, Mexico this week and then back to pursuing their dreams in Los Angeles.  I'll drop in on them around July 4th, after a week of camping!
Also of top priority, I haven't had enough time to devote to coaching Japanese.  I started with this awesome school the same semester as teaching full-time, and have struggled to keep up with both jobs.  Now it can be a more prominent part of my working life 
and I don't have to leave the house to do it!  

That's all for the best, since there are health issues I've been ignoring for decades.
Ah, life after 50...  I'm hoping all is well, but taking steps 
(aka: the barrage of check-ups every responsible adult should have) 
to see what's what and go from there.  
The first exam (which I don't care to go into) 
proved successful and I'm happy to say that part of my body
passed that procedure with an A+!  YAY!! 
 Last, but not least, it's time for Twinkle, Luna and all of her friends to come to life! is all about them--how the book
was created, what's published and ready, and what's next....

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Seasons Change

Next Saturday my son and his darling wife, Jordan & Karli, take off for sunny Los Angeles, California.  Her father, Rich Hall, generously flying in from Everett, Washington, will drive the truck with their belongings toward their new place in LA, as their apartment in Provo watches the couple that made it charming leave.  Naturally, I’m superimposing my own feelings onto the place, but honestly, there’s no way any new occupant will know how to make their home within its walls nearly as appealing.  
I’ll stay behind, waving from the parking lot, both overflowing with memories, but I’m the only one capable of tears. Unlike the building, however, I can and will visit them soon, which reminds me of the holiday following their departure--Easter.  Any farewell is painful when loved ones part, but how much more devastating are the separations brought on by bad choices and/or death. 
Without the glorious reality of the Atonement and Resurrection of our Savior, so many years ago, those partings would bring inconsolable woe.  Instead, Jesus did Atone for our every misstep and mortal pain, arose from death, and opened a golden pathway of hope for each and every one of us.  
No loss or broken bond need ever be permanent, as we choose to faithfully align our mortal journeys with His.  No matter how far off we seem to be, the way back to who and what we love is right there waiting for our return. 

How fitting then, that traditionally, Easter is celebrated with rainbows, bunnies, 
flowers and other reminders of the return of life after Winter’s seeming death.  
My hope and faith is bound up in this undying promise. Remember, contrary to the theme of pop culture, the truth is that nothing good ever really dies, and love is the only thing that lasts.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Falling into Winter as BEHS's 1st Trimester Ends

That's right.  They have TRI-mesters.  That'll take some acclimating, but I'm adjusting.  What it means, is that this trimester is nearly over--on Thursday, to be exact, and grades are due.  So much to do, and winter seems impatient to crowd its way in. Snow fell for the better part of 2 days, and now the mountains are white.  Took this photo from my front window this morning.
Despite how long I've been in front of the computer, owing to the fact that I'm home with very little vocal capacity at the moment, I want to post somethings about this amazing school.  
IF there's any way you can make it to this performance of Les Miserables, do it.  I don't even LIKE this story in musical format, usually--not even the original Broadway version.  I LOVED this! The staging, scenery, vocals (particularly the choral numbers), acting...there are no words.  Not a static character on the stage at any time.  The child actors wowed everyone too!
BEHS's musical director, Melanie Day, is a genius!
Kate Olson was my favorite soloist.  With a rich, clear and controlled excellence, 
she stole the show every time she sang.  
Now for some clips from what my 10th and 11th graders have produced over the Tri.
After reading The Alchemist, the 10th graders were to write a narrative and produce a Dreamboard for their lives, tying in their goals and aspirations--what matters most to them--in with what they learned in this novel.  Here's one happy, bright-themed version.
Here's another--both of these, quite aptly fit the personalities and thinking patterns of each student.
In early Autumn, the 11th graders went outside to explore an excerpt from Ralph Waldo Emerson's Nature, chose one sentence to use in a narrative essay.  To further aide in connecting with this author, they chose wallpaper and a leaf pattern, cut it out and wrote their sentence on it, placing it wherever suited them on the wall in the classroom.
"But if a man would be alone, let him look at the stars."  
In response to this Emerson line, here's part of what Troy Sterner wrote, "If a man walks alone at night, he will look up at the darkened sky.  he will glance up at the white light that sprinkles over the ancient glow, a friend to man, that has aged unimaginably...he will lose himself in thought.  Glancing at the many dots will bring him a sense of peace and longing for company.  
He will stare at the night sky, and time itself will seem to stop."
"I am a lover of untamed and immortal beauty."  
McKell Halladay, feels a kindred connection with Emerson's statement that 
"All natural objects make a kindred impression, when illustrate mind is open to their influence."  She shared an experience from visiting a mountain canyon at sunset as it reflected on Willard Bay;
"The blues, oranges and pinks seemed to melt together in a beautifully painted scene...almost surreal, yet it felt like home.  To this day, I go to that spot for comfort and the sunset fades into a glowing night sky, where the lights in the valley and the stars overhead are almost mirror images.
It is a comfort that cannot be provided by human hands.  It is simply natural."
The narratives were inspired.  
"'The stars awaken a certain reverence, because though always present, they are always inaccessible." ...Emerson doesn't just mean stars, but nature in general...I spent many nights...watching the stars...always felt like there was something there with me...It was a very humbling the woods and when I saw a deer, or a flower, a squirrel, or a leaf...this thought kept coming to me, "if only I could sit here and watch this forever...Maybe then, and only then, I might understand a millionth of all this."  I think that even though nature on earth is easier to reach than the stars, it still is just as inaccessible to us.  Though we can walk right up to most of it and touch it, we still can't even imagine the full beauty of nature." --Jaden Stevenson
Next we studied Edgar Allan Poe and the students chose and created 
one of many multi-media responses to his work.  
Landon, here, is Death in "The Masque of the Red Death."  
We had short silent films, amusing skits, power points and story boards presented over
the course of a week or so.
One young artist, Naomi Ross, successfully chose a different option.
She drew Poe with a gentler expression and then found images on line to add which
illustrate the dark stories which came out of a troubled mind, which,
she explained, were a form of catharsis. 
Another girl blew our minds with a poetic folk song she composed and sang--
a love song to Edgar.  It was exquisite.  (Yes, she's in Les Mis, too!)
Ok, tomorrow is the first day of the last week of this trimester, and I'm hoping I have a voice.
Most of all, though, I hope most of these students are in my next or 3rd trimester, too.  
I'm just getting to know them and want/need more time with them!
The made-up young lady on the left, Sadie Hyde, wrote and put together a delightful skit for class, told from the executioners' point of view in The Pit and the Pendelum.  She's incredibly talented!
On a more homey note, I've discovered a couple of fun facts:
My rabbit, Ginger, likes to chew on slippers just like a puppy!  He's always trying to chew on my socks while I'm wearing them, so I let him keep and take into his cage, 
this old slipper from Asiana Airlines.
However, I think it made him a little sick.  
He also LOVES to be petted, licks my hand and snuggles his soft face into my palm.
And finally, creating a guest room takes only minutes, blowing up a $50+ air mattress!  
There are definitely some advantages to modern ideas.  I love this!  So simple and much cheaper, as well as comfortable, than the old sleeper sofas!
Stay warm and have a very happy Thanksgiving!

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Summer Welcomes Fall

We ended August at the cabin of some very dear friends up in the mountains.  
At that altitude, Autumn was already in the air,
so, the fireplace inside and warm company were very welcome!
Jim Bench designed and built this place, and both he and 
Marion have filled it to the brim with charm and gorgeous decor.  
A retired English school teacher, Marion has been my cheerleader and stand-in 
Mum, ever since I bought my place in Midvale.  The views from their cabin deck are breath-taking!
Jordan, Karli and I did our bit to help with dinner,
and hummingbirds, more friendly than I ever imagined, came to feed and perched on our fingers!!!
They know good company and Marion says they wait outside the window--hovering--waiting to be fed when she and Jim return to the cabin every summer!  Karli captured this moment in time, but all of us were delighted to experience the surreal touch of tiny birds landing, ever-so-briefly, on our hands as they fed.  Thank you, Jim and Marion, for a perfect day in every way!
The 3-4 yr olds in my Sunbeam class on Sundays gathered at my home in Midvale for a play date, and I discovered Jordan's old Legos are now considered retro, 
there's nothing like a huge white stuffed tiger to capture the heart of a little boy,
the cupcake you decorate yourself is the best,
and my bunny, Ginger, loves little ones petting him!
Before moving to Logan in order to shorten my commute to Box Elder High, I accepted 
a fun Saturday job of face painting for a Princess-themed party of a young girl.
I don't do a lot of these jobs, because time simply doesn't allow for it, 
but, that afternoon was such fun!
Meanwhile, teaching HS, particularly in Brigham City, has rewards which 
overshadow the exceptionally low pay.  The kids are so great!!!  They get super psyched at assemblies and attend town events like Peach Days.  A bunch of them hang out in my
classroom almost daily during lunch, as part of a club called "Days and Knights."
Jens Anderson, in the front on the right, started the club, and he just transferred here from Provo.  He's got serious leadership skills and a never-ending imagination for story writing.  He pulled together a group to do a short silent video for our multi-media Edgar Allan Poe project.  Here's the guy who played "Death" in the Masque of the Red Death:
His girlfriend did the pustules and shadowy make-up, and we draped a black hoodie over him for this shot.  We had some extremely creative approaches to Poe, including a skit from the Interrogators of The Pit and the Pendelum's point of view, and a comedy talk-show style interview with 
the guy who escaped from that Pit.  They used all the assigned vocabulary, and quotes from the 
short story, but had us laughing 'til we cried.  
Autumn is in full sway, spreading over the mountains in patches--
we did a section on はいく poetry, while studying Emerson and Dickinson.
Undoubtedly, this influenced my feelings toward the views:
Confettied mountains
oe’r windswept azure and white,
Summer welcomes Fall.
It's been just over a year since Jordan and Karli decided to make their friendship permanent in the Salt Lake City temple, as the prettiest couple (in my opinion) on the planet.  To celebrate, they went to Jordan's beloved city, Boston, Massachusetts, where he served his mission and graduated from B.U. with an MFA in Screen Writing.  Part of me is secretly pining to go back East too....
However, last week, my brothers, Tom and Mark, my nephew, Matthew, and my son, Jordan, helped me all day to pack up, clean, drive the truck, and unpack many of my belongings into my Logan TH.  
I bought (or rather, acquired the mortgage on) the place nearly 10 yrs. ago, but have rented it out ever since.  In pondering about why I own the place, I petitioned the Lord.  Perhaps, if I found a job up in that area, I could try living there....lo, Brigham City's Box Elder High hired me as one of the 11th grade English teachers (tentatively--I'm VERY new, with a LOT to learn).  Logan is still a 30 minute commute  to Brigham City, but it's a heck of a lot closer than before.  

Today, is the anniversary of the last day of my mission in Japan, btw--where I boiled water to bathe for nearly 2 months during the winter.  Again, I awoke and boiled water to clean up.  After trying all weekend, I STILL couldn't get the hot-water tank pilot to light.  So, I got to my new ward late, even though it's right across the street.  I brought my journal, so as not to feel "alone," if there was no one to talk to.  

The ward is HUGE, w/as many people sitting in the cultural hall, as in the chapel. Further, there's so much noise--half the ward seems to be in Primary or Nursery!  While waiting to go into Sunday School, I started chatting w/a lady next to me, Cathy.  She's single and recently divorced.  We chatted until it was time to start.  There were remarkably few people in Sunday School, and the teacher asked for a volunteer to pray.  I looked around, waited a bit, then volunteered.  Shortly after that, someone popped in, asking for a couple of helpers in the nursery.  Turns out there are THREE nurseries, w/a total of nearly 80 toddlers (if all of them came at once). Again, I looked around, waited, and then stood up to go help.   One other woman, Carrie Horsley, who's quickly becoming a new friend, stood up at the same time.  We both have one child--a son--and enjoy being around munchkins.  So, we clicked. She and her husband, like a lot of the people in my congregation, live in my development.  They drive a truck to Memphis together, twice weekly, delivering airbags, of all things!  Best of all, they've invited me to join them and some other friends once a month for game night; AND her husband came over to take a look at my hot-water heater's pilot light.  Who knows how he did it, bc. it looked like exactly what I've done for days, but, who cares, because....TA DA! 

Now I have water heating up as I type this!!!  Woooo Hoooo!  I jumped up and down, cheered and my new friend hugged me!  She said she doesn't know what she'll do if she's on her own someday, and I answered, "you'll do exactly the same thing I'm doing--make new friends to help you!"