Monthly Archives: April 2011

Sunshine, other blogs, blue sky

My mind is playing a trick on me. Maybe. You see, the sun is shining like it’s 3:00 in the afternoon…or maybe 5. Except it’s after 7:00. This morning we had sun, but then really heavy, gray clouds draped the sky for the entire afternoon and most of the evening. Now they are totally gone. I don’t understand it. I’ve been really craving sunshine, so it’s not a bad thing, but I regret that I have no plans to capture the last few rays out of doors. I’m settled “in” for the night…this makes me feel a little guilty, since I am willfully wasting this feat of vitamin D and energy.

I’ve noticed lately that I read a lot of blogs. Some blogs that I am subscribed to aren’t that interesting (those are admittedly the ones that are published as intentional blogs of ministries or famous people…ish…in theology) and I don’t read everything they write. Some of the other blogs are sporadic updates from people who think they don’t have readers (if you “share” your blog on facebook and the link successfully comes up in the newsfeed, do you really maintain that you have no readers? I am the first to say facebook is a sinking ship in my web of interests, but a link to a blog is one of my few remaining enjoyments there). I love the home-improvement blogs. The ones that show high-quality DIY projects (and pictures), classy cooking (and classy pictures), and Jesus-glorifying home-making info. But the best of these don’t make a lot of claims to the author’s success…the worst of these blogs say “I had the greatest idea…adding ice to water to chill it” or some other unqualified deeming of generalized –est words. But still. Better than the news are personal anecdotes and accounts of life beyond my oikos.

I’d really like to pause and collect myself…not here in this post. That would be easily remedied by a “save draft” and “x-out”. I’m getting antsy for summer, but I don’t want to waste it or the remaining days of the school year because of this anxiousness. I have great aspirations to go from this first-year of teaching to high quality super-teacher in the course of one summer…a lofty, [likely] unattainable aspiration, granted, but that’s where my efforts are headed. I’d also like to become a Bible Scholar with the help of some intense Bible Study, a runner, and the producer of many hand-knit items. I just can’t seem to hone in on any one thing, which might explain the piling-up syndrome I’ve been festering. My piles are pretty precise, but they are getting to be the “norm”, which is kind of gross. To make it worse, I have kind of a list in my head (which is not unlike a pile) of things to take care of in regard to these piles…namely finding new homes that are more conveniently located for items that are often kept out. Summer?

That’s all I’ve got. The sun’s finally looking more like it ought to at this time of night. Crazy.

Peace to you,
Patty

20

I was twenty once. You know what’s funny though? It doesn’t feel like I’m much older than that now. I guess in the grander scheme of things, I’m not…but the 20 is for the days of teaching left in my first year.

I know, right? Crazy, shortly over, and within reach.

So much of the unknowns I carried through college and even last year as a YMT were taken care of this year. I don’t have it figured out (hey, there’s still 20 days left, you know), but I don’t have to wonder if I’ll be able to come up with program material, teach songs, teach rhythms, make music fun, keep it from being fun (not on purpose…), handle working and paying bills and such. Full time teaching eludes me still, but I imagine it to be much like part time, but longer. And not even that much longer.

My big accomplishment over the weekend (while at home for Easter) was learning how to cut up a whole chicken. My dad, master with a chicken, coached me through it. Learning by experience is the total best. Raw chickens are so…floppy and heavy and kind of gross…but he got me through it. I think that I will likely buy one soon JUST so I can reinforce those skillz. And someday impress my friends. Or my children. Or just myself :).

Tonight for dinner I’m going for some Cornish pasties and tea in honor of a story on NPR’s Morning Edition this morning. I am really digging their talk programs lately, and the story about Cornwall was SUCH an anticipated delight that I made sure I waited to do my hair/pack my lunch until after it played so that I didn’t miss it. You can listen here.

I hope that you have a lovely evening and that wherever you are it’s warm and sunny like it’s supposed to be in April…I know, April showers blah blah blah, but it’s feeling like February showers. I’m thankful that the apartment has managed to stay warm, though I haven’t had the heat on (and my generous-with-heat neighbors have moved out). Peace to you!

Work In Progress

I’ve been reading up on first year teaching a little bit. What an encouragement it is to see (and even hear sometimes) that first year teachers don’t typically feel like they have it figured out. But this revelation of being a work in progress is not limited to my career–following Christ and becoming like Him has a similar grace.

I know that, right?

But today as I was reading Philippians 1 again and looking at verses 6 and 9-11, I couldn’t help but open my mouth with a bit of an “aha!” because I was reminded that righteousness, purity, blamelessness is not something that we can achieve on our own.

And I am sure of this, that He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.

and

And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more with knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve what is excellent and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ to the glory and praise of God.

Notice that both of these assurances have a target date of “the day of Christ”…so to have expectations for completion or absolute righteousness before that is to become discouraged. My heart is not one prone to love as it is commanded…I fail and fail and fail again, but rather than pull away from God in the disappointment of falling short I am encouraged to cling to Him. To make my life about him, striving side by side [with the church] for the gospel.

I am glad for this hope at the culminating weekend of Lent. I haven’t been stopping and preparing my heart as is the custom in Lent, at least for a gal with a Lutheran background, but my guilt for not doing so is redeemed by the truth that I am a work in progress. Do I aspire to grow in love, in knowledge, in discernment, in purity, and blamelessness, and righteousness? Yes, assuredly yes. Does that waver? Yes, unfortunately yes. But the source of love (Love Himself) is aware of that and has chosen us to be His children anyway.

Suh-weet. That’s putting the “good” in this Friday, even apart from the remembrance of the day of our Lord’s incredible payment, for a debt we could never satisfy, on a Roman cross. Peace to you!

bad days better

A Shane and Shane song with the same title as the subject is coming to mind. I slept the whole night through (night #2 of 8 hours) and was feeling pretty refreshed and gladsome, but for whatever reason the day didn’t end up with such a good mood. I’m battling some wills at school…and the disciplining role makes me feel like Oscar the Grouch.

When I got home I decided to go for a run. My running regimen hasn’t been every other day as requested by the couch 2 5K program (I’m not sure anyone is going to make me run when it’s cold and raining…I’m a pansy), but I went for #3 of week 5. That’s 20 minutes without stopping. I didn’t make it…I stopped 20 seconds early because my side went into super cramped mode…I blame my odd hydration for the day (which is to say, not much). The pain of my side and my legs got my mind off of being grouchy and the endorphins released helped a lot.

Upon my return I got laundry in (Happy Jeans day today, tomorrow, and Friday meant laundry was imperative), made mac and cheese with my roommate, and settled down to rest. Now to get ready for bed…eventually!

NPR

I confess that I used to listen to classical music radio so that I could tell people I listened to NPR. But when it came to the talking programs I was not a fan. I distinctly remember saying “ugh” and switching on several occasions.

But I discovered about a year ago (or maybe more?) that I love the programming. Sometimes the economical reports get a little repetitive (and the BP Oil Spill…whew, that was laborious to listen to after a few weeks), but I’ve been digging the Morning Report and All Things Considered a lot. What’s more, even during the day if I have a significant chunk of planning time I’ll turn on the music programs, too. What’s fun is that, having taken music history and having taught some historical music units the pieces and genres/composers are familiar. A+.

Perhaps what I like best about the public radio station is its “quiet-ness”. Today has been a loud day!  Can’t really explain it, but I felt no option but to raise my voice to overcome the din and clatter of a buzzing class (listening to the Rock ‘n roll segment of our music evolution unit). Or the details in the reports they present; it’s not just the news. I mean, the news has its place, but I feel like NPR gives a bit of a more-informed perspective to current events. I don’t mean to assume I know which “direction” NPR leans…maybe they’re left, maybe they’re right. Maybe you don’t think I should appreciate their stories because of their bias…but I probably won’t notice even if you tell me. I’m a bit a-political right now.

Dinner time. french fries, I think.

interception, operatic absence, brown butter popcorn

I went on a run (#2, week 5) today and because it’s junk week in I-town (free hauling of stuff) spotted a short shelf that I had to have…but since I saw it at the beginning of my run decided to trust that it would be available in 20 minutes when I returned. Would you believe that a blue pickup truck turned into the driveway of the house with the shelf as I was crossing the driveway to look at the shelf? I couldn’t very well grab the shelf and run. At first I held my breath because he went for some planter pots first, but looking over my shoulder as I crossed the street, he stashed the shelves too. Well, dang.

I noticed, upon my return, that the trailer that was parked right outside of the door when I left my apartment building was more full than it had been. I’d been contemplating ways to ask them if they needed help unloading or unpacking, hoping to meet new neighbors…but the more-full trailer led me to conclude people were moving out. I noticed that the second floor door was propped open, and it turns out my delightful quiet (yet operatic singing) downstairs neighbors are moving out. That’s kind of a bummer, though not bad timing; last night I heard the non-operatic husband singing in the bathroom and thought “it’s weird to hear people in the bathroom”.

Sitting down to do some work at my computer I decided to make some popcorn and tea (which is definitely over steeped by now…oops…good thing it’s Good Earth and it never gets bitter). I put the butter in the microwave and mindlessly pushed the 30-second button 3 times. I melted 1 Tablespoon of butter for 85 seconds before it clicked that that was way too much time. The butter browned. I fixed the problem by adding salt and sugar to the popcorn, so as to make a carmel-ish kettle corn. It was pleasant enough. Snappy popcorn makes the largest popcorn kernals, fo sho. They explode from my air popper with SUCH force that I am left to be a bit afraid sometimes!

I found margarine in my freezer today! Who knew it was in there? Not me! Score :).

I had so much fun last night. SO MUCH. I remember why moving here was so tough (that’s not fun)…good people reside in Ames, Iowa. I have no doubt that good people reside in this place, too, they just don’t happen to all know me and show up at the restaurant I erroneously go to in order to meet “other” people. I’m looking forward to the next two weekends with such people, in their stomping grounds :).

Peace to you!

Patty

green shoes

I bought a pair of olive green shoes with my Kohl’s 30% discount. I’d been on the hunt for new brown flats (or black flats), and this is evidently sandal season, because those shoes were hard to find. There was a black version of the green shoes I bought, but for $10 less I could hardly walk away from the scrumptious color of green. How practical are green shoes? Yeah, I hear ya. Except I wear green a lot because I like green a lot…so more practical than you may have thought. Yesss!

I had a huge communication blunder tonight that resulted in a joyous surprise: it was like it was my birthday, but it is really only my 2/3 birthday :). I got a call from an unknown number, and when I called it back (I missed the call), I misheard the caller’s name and operated under the assumption of it being a friend who lives nearby (who is a mutual friend of the actual caller). She invited me to dinner to celebrate “Dave’s” birthday. This woman’s husband is named David, and though I’ve never heard him called Dave before, I was ready to roll with it. I agreed to find it and was looking forward to meeting an undisclosed number of people.

When I got to the restaurant on time, it was clear that their car was not in the lot. I tried going across the street to a fabric store, but it was already closed, so I sat in my car and waited until the time. Still no familiar car, so I went into the restaurant in case they had a new car. The seating attendant (host?) asked if I was meeting a group…I said “yes?” and proceeded to look behind the wall he directed me towards…it wasn’t my group. I waited at the bar, and worked on some questions I had been writing at a coffee shop between shoe purchasing and dinner waiting. A few minutes later, a couple friends from my connection group walked in. It turns out the party was for Steve…and I’d misheard the caller totally! What a pleasant surprise to be in the company of 16 people (?) who I am close with!!

Though the restaurant had great service, what made the night remarkable was how my plan-less evening was not only occupied but filled with fellowship. I am even more looking forward to summer for time planned in Ames with these fine people–can’t wait :). And there is talk of things happening “down south” too, so that’s worth a celebratory exclamation! Exclaim!

I should take off my lovely (non-blister-causing) green shoes and go to bed; it’s going to be a long day tomorrow otherwise :). Praise to Him for providing just what I needed without my asking!

A priceless gift

One of the classes involved in my program last week gifted me with a beautiful compilation book. Each person in the class journaled about their performance, corrected the spelling, drew and colored pictures and contributed a sentence about music’s value. The book was laminated, covered, and bound.

This is my first permanent teaching memento. Some people have to wait for the little tenure plaques (10 years of service!)…but I got this. The students were SO proud to tell me that I didn’t even get the copies–I got the only originals.

I have a feeling a book like this might get me through some of the tough days ahead (not necessarily this year; in general), and for that I am ever so grateful.

On my way to the bank this afternoon I heard a familiar piece on NPR and pegged it for one I’d played, though I was pretty sure I’d played a band transcription. After a few strains another movement started and the unmistakable “Nimrod” variation of Elgar’s Enigma Variations filled the car. I’d heard some Elgar earlier this week at school because Iowa Public Radio is promoting a Des Moines Symphony concert (that I’d love to go to, but will not go by myself) featuring the Enigma variations. It was beautiful. Ten years from now, if I have life left to live and the ability, I don’t want to be 10 years removed from gorgeous, high quality music, but more heavily involved than now. I believe in the quality of folk music and the rep we use for general music in our district, but it’s a different experience for a musician than playing a classic work. I need that again for the richness it offers.

I need to make a plan for this weekend, or I’ll be b-o-r-e-d. That shouldn’t be possible; as an adult there are always some house keeping chores or work to be done. Alas. I’ll get through it and make the most of it somehow.

Peace to you,
Patty

Treasure in Jars of Clay

I believe Jars of Clay was the first Christian band to catch my attention. My sister got their “If I Left the Zoo” album in 7th or 8th grade because we’d heard a song by them (on their original album, oops) at confirmation…and then another one at a girl’s sleep over at our youth director’s house. I vividly remember wanting to listen to them in order to like them in order to say I liked Christian music because I was largely unfamiliar with anything besides a couple songs we had done at VBS that were on the campy side (and tragically less cool because accompanied by tapes).

I insist that “If I Left the Zoo” remains in my top 5 most listenable albums. Usually it’s in the top 1 or 2…occasionally it drops if I’ve leaned too heavily on that statistic and worn out my ears. I heard someone describe Temper Track Trap as a go-to in the car. Well, “IILtZ” is too (coincidentally if it’s not NPR these days, it’s been Temper Track Trap, tracks 1, 2, 5, and 6 especially).

In an effort to stay current with my favorite band, I’ve been pretty keen on their releases. I think the only album since the Zoo that I haven’t bought was Redemption Songs, which K had bought. Boy was I surprised to see another album had been released in October of this year; the last one they released was in 2009, and before that 2006. It came up on Pandora, of all things. Am I out of the loop, or what? I’ll let you know how “The Shelter” stands up to their prior discography, if you’re interested.

I got a lot done at work today. 26 days with students remain. Are you kidding me? It’s going to be tight to push everything in before the end, especially with end-of-the-year interruptions…but we’ll make it. I’m hitting an upswing of anticipation for next year. I came to realize today that my position in an elementary school perfectly suits my creative style. I am not claiming to be artistic (besides musical), but I like making projects and take some pride in good products in the process. I made a banner for my last program that was an object of beauty (until it fell off the wall, it was displayed proudly in the hall…stupid masking tape), I’m making beautiful rhythm cards with construction paper (called tactile rhythm cards), a colorful and color-coordinated word-wall, posters, decorations, posters, worksheets. Elementary music teaching is the EPITOME of creative license for music teachers. At least material-wise. Have to say it would be pretty awesome to work with instrumentalists who could already read notes and rhythms…but for now I can embrace my audience and my outlet for paperstuff.

It looks as though it might rain; this is not ideal for the run I was planning to take…maybe I’ll skip it. I did ride my bike to and from work for the professional development portion of the day. The ride isn’t tough (a pretty straight 2-mile shot both ways), but the traffic is. For some reason, I don’t trust teenage drivers (wonder why) and the streets are full of them. That and young pedestrians who run into the street without looking…pedestrians whose names I know, and whom I’ll be chatting with at school tomorrow ;).

Have a restful Wednesday,

Patty

Two ways to play

I recently started an orchestra unit that introduced the string family with a homemade worksheet that goes along with a section in our text book. One class had time to use the text book to search for the answers, the other class followed along with a discussion-style. That class heard the answers and saw them written on the board. I told them spelling counted.

While going through the worksheets, I noticed in the questions regarding two ways to play string instruments, they had written “puking” and “[to]bow”. I chuckled, the bow/bow antonym complementing the puking part.

In the following question, students had to distinguish between the Italian versions of these ways to play. For Arco, the student’s answer was “to bow” and for pizzicato…”to puke”.

Is it odd that I was proud of the student to remember to drop the “e” before “ing”? I might make a copy (too bad I corrected the spelling already or it’d be a priceless piece of art) for my someday teacher-memory-book.

I am wasting the most gorgeous day of all time at the moment. I have felt kind of crummy all day, and though sitting on the couch isn’t helping me feel better or enjoy the day, it’s all I’ve had the energy for. I think, as disappointing as it is when a run or rollerblades or a bike are at my higher preference, I will settle for a walk after dinner. I would walk before dinner, but I’m hoping for an energy boost first.

I was practicing Fur Elise on piano (starting a Beethoven unit for a grade) when my next class came in. One of the students NAILED the composer right away. Oh, that’s Beethoven. I wasn’t expecting it out of this student, or any of them, as they are on the younger end, but evidently the student listens to it on iTunes all the time. Are you kidding me? Way to go, padres. Learning about Beethoven’s life…that has been interesting. I am remembering that portion of music history a bit more. He had a sad life…imagine going deaf in your late 20s as an employed musician and composer. It only added to his poor manners and temper.

My roommate used to say: Who are manners for? Everybody else. I miss that gal! It’s a lesson perhaps I can incorporate into the Beethoven unit :).

Time for a meal, sunshine, and a bit of work followed by the Biggest Loser (and probably some dessert…heh!). Have a great night!