I took a break.
Well, just cause.
I watched TV.
A rerun of E.T.
E. T. phone home. One phrase. Enough to return, for a few tender moments, to the memory of my boys, fresh from their baths, clad in fuzzy footed pajamas, snuggling close, tucked under my arms, eyes wide. We are lost in a simple tale of finding one's way home. Believing in the unbelievable. Childlike wonder. And a promise. "I'll be right here".
You know those moments. The ones you, as a parent, want to last forever. The same moments, you as a child, revisit when life is difficult, to reinstall your smile.
Days since past, when changing the channel meant getting up.
Off the sofa.
Across the room.
E for effort.
I look at my now grown sons, and wonder to myself, if the world has tilted so far, that we cannot right it again. Then I watch their faces and listen to them recall the simple joys of their young lives. I know they remember how fleeting and how precious childhood is. So do I.
When I left the classroom to find my own way home, I took a break in the garden. This very subject was on my mind then, as it is now. Maybe we all need a reminder to remember to "phone home"...and to be" right there".
What happened to childhood? The growing season keeps getting shorter, too much sun to soon. In my garden, young plants are protected. The weeds are pulled out. The watering is steady. It is my job to give them a chance to grow into themselves. I wear the gloves. I pull creepy crawlies from their young stems and toss them to the weeds. This business of forced blooming is a dangerous game. Despite the aesthetic appearance of maturity, full blossoms quickly fade. We, the older folks know this. The garden needs tending.
Sunday, April 24, 2011
Planting the seeds.
From words to art.
Perhaps it is wise to not always know where we are headed, in that we can miss the details, the little things that add up in the end. I can tell you that the design of the garden pages came to life that day in the garden. I saw the paper, erose edges, like the serrated leaves on the stalks of my geraniums. I imagined beautiful watercolor florals. I bought watercolors, brushes, and paint pots. Little plastic palettes to mix and match the colors. I sat for hours in bookstores, thumbing through pages and pages of "the art of watercolors". Home, I set myself up with a flourish and a bow. Perched on my Adirondack chair, I began to paint.
Oops. Um. I forgot. I can't paint.
I can't draw.
Sketch-nope. Acrylics-not a chance. I don't even stencil well. I have always leaned toward coloring outside the lines. My cows look like dogs, sort of, they both have four of something. My students used to cringe and cover their eyes when I chalked a blackboard illustration. This is particularly awful, when your students are VISUAL learners.
Back to the drawing board.
Not an option.
On my desk. In the corner. My digital camera opened its little lens and winked at me. Well, not really, but I am the author of this fairy tale and cameras are imps. Playful. Adjustable. Full of settings and foci, adding distance and depth. One finger. Click. Click. Click.
I can do that.
I can click Save.
My camera, a Sony Mavica,with floppy disks.
No snickering allowed. Please refer to your nearest World Book Encyclopedia, for more on the history of "floppy disks".
I filled those floppy disks with perfectly posed petunias.
It was August. On my PC screen, every flaw lay exposed. Wilted leaves and brown edged petals. I looked down at my hands on the keyboard. Hey, I said. I have a few of those brown spots too!
How about a makeover?
Photoshop...a touch up...softer lighting...some tender shading...
I may not be able to paint with watercolors,
but I heartily acknowledge
the benefit of a good concealer.
That day, I gave myself permission to make a mess, color outside the lines, get my hands dirty, spill some ink, lose my train of thought, flub a note, fall off the beam, miss a turn.
I realized there was an eraser at the end of my pencil.
I used it.
Thursday, April 14, 2011
Every step we take
Is a dot on a map.
Connecting the dots
Leads to where we are.
The next dot just might
Point us in a new direction.
...the Notebooks. Journals. Lesson plans. Ideas. Musings. Articles. Christmas letters. Notes to and from my children. Correspondence to and from my students. Words of encouragement to parents. Dedication pages. Prose. Bits of poetry. This and that.
Embraced by my own words. My words scribbled down on shreds of paper, in the margins, on Post Its. I took each piece of my literary puzzle, reading for hours, sorting, smiling, remembering. I was a visitor in my own library. Felt the rush of discovering a new author. An author who knew me quite well. Knew my heart.
That moment was, and remains to this day, a poignant pause, meeting myself on the pages of my personal history. My hand on my pen on my paper weaving words together. I felt as though I was reading over my own shoulder. At a distance somehow. The words before me were comforting and funny and sweet and fiery. More than a curriculum vitae, rather, a movement from a point to a ray. An arrow pointing in my direction. Or, perhaps, a line, each end extending to infinity.
The next step. The garden.
Outside, papers, words, and notes crumpled in my pockets, the smell of damp earth drew me back to the smell of my father's wool coat as he stepped out of the rain, where I buried my face in his lapel and reached into his pocket for his hand.
Secure in the memory of his love, I wrote to him.
My father had one suit. His pants were shiny from being ironed everyday. One morning, he bent to kiss me goodbye, and the pants split at the knee. Our eyes met. I ached for him, but he turned his face away. My mother took needle and thread, then patched the tear. My father headed for the door, raised his eyes to mine, and winked. Everything, his eyes said to me, everything, can be mended. His step was sure. Steady. There was work to be done.
Here in the garden, with his memory lingering still, I would take my next step. I needed mending. The garden needed tending.
"Where I go to remind myself
that there is in the earth,
and in life...hope."
August 2004, the birth of garden pages.
August 2004, I found my voice in the garden.
Thursday, April 7, 2011
Today's Daily Affirmation:
A Magnetic Personality
Well, not people so much, but lately, lots of metal objects like nuts and bolts and screws, silverware and car keys. I also have a new obsession with my microwave. I find myself gazing at it with a longing that troubles me so, as though we share a common wavelength. Can read each other's thoughts. On my drive home, I find myself listening to a local radio talk station, via an old silver filling in one of my molars. Did I mention that I find the sight of a cell phone tower intensely irresistible?
I had one.
On my knee.
When I made the appointment, they asked me if I was claustrophobic. I didn't think so. Would I need a sedative? Whoa. I thought this was a simple procedure. Painless.
Oh dear. A giant tube. A noisy, oscillating, radiating, vibrating tube in the middle of an empty room. With me in it. Not moving. At all. Not a wiggle, a wobble, nor a squirm. Magnetic, but rapidly losing its original appeal.
Oh yes, and now come the helpful stories of those who have gone before. Rapid heartbeats. Pulsing clanging banging drumbeats. Entombed. No way out. The panic button. THE PANIC BUTTON? Okay, let's revisit the sedative synopsis. Nope. Too late. That was behind Door #3 and I took Door #1. Night sweats and monsters under the bed.
So here we are. Me and the technician. The technician and I. In a very big room with absolutely nothing in it. Four sterile white walls and a giant tube. I put my head on the pillow and watch as she wraps my sore knee in a smaller tube to fit inside the really BIG TUBE, and she says, "Try not to move". You know what happens when someone says that ......twitch...twitch...itch. My left knee jumps. I swear I told it not to move. I did. Headphones. Oh, swell. To distract me from all the banging and clanging. I smile. How nice. As if. I blink once and poof, she disappears. I glance left and right and realize it's just me and THE TUBE. Until...
A voice...in my head. "Don't move. We are starting now". I struggle to locate the WE. Above my head a small screen with numbers and codes squiggling by. For the first time I notice I am holding a rubber bulb in my hand. The PANIC BUTTON? The GET OUT OF JAIL FREE card...and I think I just missed the instructions. I thought it was a blood pressure cuff. I desperately want to squeeze it, just to see if anyone is listening, but I am in the DO NOT MOVE OR ELSE mindset, so...
Bang Bang Clang...vibratingly, oscillatingly, radiatingly
...sliding into THE TUBE...
And then. The strangest thing happens. I look up at the dark little screen, my hands folded across my chest, take a deep breath and I am in LIFT OFF POSITION. An astronaut, on Cape Canaveral, sealed in the command module, atop the Saturn rocket, oxygen misting from the external tanks, all systems GO. The gantry pulls away. Engines roar. Inside the module, I sit strapped in, swathed and secure, absorbing the vibrations. All I can see is a small window above my head. I am headed there. A soft smile on my face.
So this is what it's like.
A tap on my shoulder. The technician. We're done.
Back on Earth, the room is still white, the walls still bare and the tube is still HUGE. I am done. But as I move toward the door, grateful for my imagination's folly, I spy the next adventurer and I cringe. She is an eight or nine year old girl. A little girl. Her eyes are wide and she takes a step back.
I give her a smile, but I know in my heart that my story, my puny imagination will not be enough to chase the monsters out from under this bed. I only wish it were so.
I know I began my tale with some silliness, to lure you in, but this is serious business. Some people go through this procedure much more often than I, for more serious concerns, and some are very very young, or very very scared.
Maybe someone could make this an adventure.
Make this cavernous space a more welcoming place.
It is such a beautiful story of what can happen when the hearts and minds of creatives....engineers, inventors, technicians, patients, and caregivers are let loose to play with crayons and markers, paints and palettes, pens and ideas, toys and technology, wants and needs, dreams and imaginations, designs and passion. All it takes is that one "light bulb" moment and suddenly four white walls, and a giant tube become a pathway to the stars, a safari hunt or an elephant ride.
This is surely a moment of true radiance.
Radiance...the ability to shine one's own light into the lives of others.
Radiance...the luminous moment when our hands create good work we only once imagined or dared to dream.
Radiance...a soft, very personal moment of inner luminosity when our passion, dreams and good works touch the lives of others.
To the folks at GE who imagined, dared to dream and took the chance to change scary stories into amazing adventures for children and a flight of fancy for us older folks with weak knees.
To visit the GE Adventure Series...click here...
Friday, April 1, 2011
Oh! That would be ME!
GVW CD Greetings...the back story. Over the years, people asked me when I would develop a card line from the Garden Pages. I knew I would get there eventually, but I decided I wanted to travel on a new path.
The idea came to me when I visited one of my children, and discovered the gallery of cards I sent over the years, sitting atop the refrigerator. I had no clue how much he liked to pull them down, now and then, when he needed a reminder of home...family... of how much he is loved.
Mailboxes, the ones sitting outside, season to season, awaiting the postperson, seem emptier somehow. Bills, advertising brochures, and catalogs sit in piles. You know...you know what you miss...the sweet satisfaction when you realize you have a card. A real card addressed in ink, your name handwritten. It's the first thing you open. It's the card you read not once, but again and again, or share with family and friends. The one you may keep in a journal or tuck in a drawer.
A card means...someone thought of you. Took the time. Went to the store. Pored over sentiments until they found the perfect one. Wrote a message. Affixed a stamp. Went to the mailbox or the post office. Smiled to themselves. Imagining. You. Opening the mail, smiling in return.
In the recent past, we tucked pictures inside...a trip, a new baby, bride and groom, inside jokes. Now, we all take lots of pictures, digitally...then "save as" on our phones, iPads, PCs and cameras.
I wanted to find a way to send the sentiments of my garden pages, along with an empty CD, for you to fill up with memories...ready to share. I wanted the cards to be unique, like all of you...place holders and time travelers...a safe place to land.
The other night, my son came over to help me install some software. He stumbled onto my picture files and into a trip we took together to my hometown. He took me because he knew I was homesick. Needed to revisit my past. His past...too. There sitting patiently in my computer, waiting for him, the pics he'd never seen. I watched his face as he traveled back in time. He looked over at me and said, you should send these to me.
When I say good night to you all, I intend to do just that. I know exactly which card I want to send. I designed it with him, and his brother in mind.
GVW CD Greetings...pick a card..load your own pics...mail. One postage stamp. Sweetly sent. By you. With just a little help from me.
Maybe you will end up as the guest star on top of the refrigerator.
This page is dedicated to the creative team that took my little seed of an idea and brought it into the sunlight.
And to the wizards at
for translating creative dreams into websites.