Monday, August 22, 2016

Water Leaks

It has been wonderfully cooler here in OK the past week. Temps in the 80's to low 90's are a welcome relief from the typical 100 + temps. Last night Toby and I sat on the patio eating watermelon and enjoying the evening when we noticed water standing in the backyard. It did rain Friday night, but this was more water than should've been there. Toby went to investigate, but we both knew the reason for the water  - a water leak. Sometimes I hate Oklahoma.

If you have been with this blog in past years, you know we have water leaks way to often. In the winter the ground freezes and lines crack and break. In the summertime, the ground gets so hard that it cracks and breaks and shifts causing the waterline to do the same. It means that today, Toby and I will dig up the ground in the red glue-mud and fix another leak. The pipe coming into the house looks like a jigsaw puzzle as it is. Such is life in OK. At least it may be cooler than the usual. I will count my blessings.

So to cheer up your day, here is a few more watercolors from my Watercolor Month on Facebook. I chose paintings with the theme "water."

Friday, August 19, 2016

Watercolors Galore

Through the month of July I joined a group on Facebook called World Watercolor Month. For the month of July we were challenged to post a watercolor a day on the WWM page. I did pretty well posting new paintings all but three days.  It was a nice challenge for me and got me painting more. The real fun came in seeing all the other watercolor artists from around the world. It seems that some of the best watercolor artists are from the Philippines. I have a couple of favorites from Germany too. And then there was the fun of meeting people, commenting, learning from each other.  By the end of July, no one was ready to see the challenge end.

Charlie O'Shields who blogs from Doodlewash started it all. He was the man with the ideas and prompts.  He is a fun watercolor artist too. At the end of July, he changed the name of the Facebook site from World Watercolor Month to World Watercolor Group. And so I have continued to post watercolors on that FB page too, although I have not been faithful to post every day. Here are my latest watercolors. I will be posting some of July's watercolors too. These were done in August.



Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Freedom

Some of you have asked why I have not written anything lately. Well, I have written things for my blog this summer, but I have not posted my writings. It was a rough summer with my mom and that is what I wrote about mostly. Those things have settled down and all is good right now. So it seems unimportant to post those things.  Maybe I will go back and take a look at what needs to be posted, maybe not, or maybe I will move on. Moving on at the moment seems right.

School Issues:

Last year in August, I was asked to teach art at Comanche High School. It was a big decision. I worried and fretted about it. I worked to get my OK teaching certificate. Finally I took the plunge and did it. It was a fairly good year and I was happy that I had done it.

This past spring I started worrying and fretting about teaching for a second year - lots of issues flowing through my head - my mom, my time, my art, etc.  I figured they would want me to sign a contract for the next year although I could not remember signing one for the first year. In May, I got a contract in my teacher mailbox. The odd thang was that it was a contract for the 2015-16 year, not the upcoming year. Ya mean I was not under contract (one eyebrow raised)?

When I turned in my grades and finished my first year, I went by the principal's office to turn in my stuff for the end of the year and sign out. I started to turn in my keys, but he said I could keep them for the next year. Maybe the look on my face was questionable, but he asked, "You are coming back next year?" I replied that I did not know yet. He said he really needed to know if I was not coming back. We talked a little more. As I left, he said, "I hope I don't hear from you this summer." meaning that he hoped I would come back.

And so I worried and fretted for the first couple of weeks this summer. Then I decided that I could teach another year. I did enjoy my coach buddies in the annex building. I had not made any lasting ties with the other teachers in the main building, although I had tried. I did enjoy the kids. I did enjoy the art. I did not really enjoy the prep time and planning, but it would be easier now that I had year under my belt. And besides, I only taught four classes and was out by 12:00. I could do this! For the rest of the summer, I thought and planned for my art classes and raised money for my little art department. I actually raised close to a thousand dollars.

Friday was the teacher's first day back at school. Of course, it was in-service where we all met in the elementary cafeteria for some instruction. I had heard that the bell schedule was changing and I knew that school was going to start 15 minutes earlier. Starting early was not a problem for me, since I normally arrived at school by 7:30 in order to prepare for the day - getting art material ready, planning, putting grades in the computer - all those things teachers do in their planning period, which I didn't have.

Anyway, I was enjoying my coach buddies and my one friend, Armida - it was good to be back at school. Then Friday afternoon while in conversation with the school secretary, she told me that I would be teaching four classes, which was nothing new, but that fourth hour was now after lunch. WHAT? Although I would still be teaching four classes, I would be at school an extra hour a day - part of it being more teaching time and part of it being lunchtime - all without any compensation or anyone telling me or checking my thoughts.

Compensation was not my issue. Getting out at 12:45 instead of 11:50 was my big issue. That was the principal's big selling point when he offered me the job the year before. It was the main reason I had chosen to go back. I could teach public school and still have time to teach my homeschool art classes and my ladies class. Best of all, I could have lunch with my husband or friends and still get home to let the dog out. This was a big issue for me!

Friday afternoon in-service was a blur. I had serious problems focusing. I was so upset. Over the weekend I was upset. Toby encouraged me to go in and talk to the principal and tell him why I was upset and see if we could work things out. I was pretty sure the principal would do nothing. He had to have known how this would effect me, yet he chose not to mention it to me over the summer. The secretary even said she had asked him about my schedule. So he knew and chose not to talk to me.

On Monday, I went to work - setting up my classroom, working on my computer, learning the new gradebook, visiting with my coach buddies, etc. And I went over to the main building to get supplies, check my mailbox, and visit with the principal. Just as I thought, he acted like it was not big deal. He said he didn't expect it to be a problem for me. He blinked his eyes and acted innocent. At one point, he threw out that maybe I could get compensation for my extra time...but he dropped that thought quickly. I told him that I would really have to think on this whole thing - that if he had talked to me earlier, I would have chosen not to come back - that I did not like this new schedule - and I felt betrayed by his not bothering to mention it.

I went back to work in my classroom. My thinking was that I would continue on. Maybe the new schedule would be okay. Maybe not. Maybe I would turn in my resignation, but stay until the end of the semester giving the principal time to replace me. At lunch we all met to eat and have a little instruction. I carried on as normal. Then after lunch while I was working in my room, the principal called me. He said he had talked with the Superintendent and wanted me to come to his office to talk. Okay. On my way over to the main building, I wondered if they were going to shorten my day, switch lunch and fourth hour (like it had been last year) so that I would be done by noon, or maybe offer me compensation for the extra hour of work. But no, that is not what happened.

I walked in and sat down in the principal's office. He said, "If you don't want to be here, we can find someone who does. I need to know now." Wow, and ultimatum. It sure didn't seem like he was trying to work with me. In that few minutes, I had lots of thoughts going through my head, but the big one was, "He is offering me my freedom, and I don't have to put up with any of this anymore." So I answered him, "I don't want to be here." He said, "get me a letter." I told him that I had thought he would need me until he could find a replacement, but he did not take me up on that. Just, "Get me a letter." Okay.

So, I went back to my room and packed the stuff I had set out earlier. I carried it to my car.  I wrote a quick letter on the computer. I walked back to the main building and gave it to the principal. He said that I had done a good job for him and that there was no hard feelings. Then he said something odd. "I really wish you had given me more time." Really!? This was his doings. So I said, "I really wish you had talked to me earlier." And I left.

Janice Joplin's "Me and Bobby McGee" was running through my head:  Freedom's just another word for nothin' left to lose / Nothin', don't mean nothin' hon' if it ain't free,

Friday, July 01, 2016

Sanbao

Jesse is in China. She is doing a ceramics residency at Sanbao - Jingdezhen, Jiangxi Province. I did not link that, but if you want to see more photos of the area, Google Sanbao. She does ceramics by day along with some university lectures and visits from famous ceramic people from all over the world. At night, she often dines or parties with these people. The owner/director of Sanbao, Jackson Li, has taken Jesse and other art folk on some interesting tours. When Jesse wanted to see the Yellow Mountains, Jackson sent his assistant to hike with her. Jesse said that he was worried about her lack of phone reception if anything were to happen to her. He said he was like her Chinese mother. 

There is about a 13 hour time difference from China to Oklahoma. Jesse and I usually Skype, that being the best way to communicate with her since China does not do Google, early in my morning when she is finished with her day. Sometimes we Skype at the end of my day when she is just getting up in the morning. She sent the above photo sometime while in the Yellow Mountains yesterday.  I woke up to this amazing photo, but will not get the details of the trip until a bit later before she goes to bed - and then only if she has wifi. 

I know she is having a grand time. Jesse always does. It is a bit stressful for me, but I'm okay with it all. Jesse lives her life and is happy.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

39th Anniversary

A year ago on June 27th, we were getting ready to celebrate our 38th anniversary when we got a call that my mom had fallen. She had not just fallen, but said that she had been pushed by her neighbor. It all seemed so incredible. We rushed over to WF. Mom had broken her arm near the shoulder. That was the least of it. The entire episode sent mom into a tailspin. We spent our 38th anniversary at Mom's.

Here we are a year later. Toby took off a couple of days last week and Monday of this week - Monday being our 39th wedding anniversary.  On Thursday Toby took me to OKC for a bit of fun in the city. We did some shoe shopping and then ate lunch at Ted's - our favorite. We stopped at a liquor store to buy Prairie Artisan Ales - something Toby had been wanting to try. Then we moved on to the Prix de West at the Cowboy Hall of Fame. It is a great show every year, but this year seems to be better than last year. I love looking through the paintings. We did not do the Matisse show at the OKC Art Museum. I try not to overload Toby with too much art. I will save that tour for time with my art buddies. Other than the City traffic, it was a good day. There was a wreck on southbound I-35 as we were headed north into OKC. It messed up traffic all day. We drove across town to run an errand then headed down I-44 to I-40 to come home and avoid I-35. It was a mistake. Not only were we in 5 o:clock traffic, but there was a wreck on I-44. What a mess!

We spent Friday here at home preparing for the Art Walk. Other than a trip to Wal-Mart, we did not go anywhere. And of course, there was the Art Walk on Saturday, which was all consuming. Sunday was our usual day at church. We came home and took a big dog nap. Our friends Lindz and Shay came over for some barbecue chicken and a bit of visiting that evening. We made our first batch of peach daiquiris of the summer. Yum!

On Monday as we were deciding what all we wanted to do for our anniversary, Mom called to say she was sick. And so it was deja vu. We spent our day in WF seeing to Mom, who was not really sick - the good news. But she is needy sometimes. We did have a salad at Parkway Grill, my favorite place. And we went by Sam's for a few items. At Sam's Toby bought me a yogurt with berries.  While we were sitting there at the tables in Sam's eating our yogurts, Toby said that this was my anniversary treat. Wow, I cannot wait to see what next year's 40th anniversary will bring :) He is always a fun date.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

The Art Walk Heat

The Chisholm Trail Art Walk went very well. It is only the second year for it, and this year was a big improvement over last year. I think in time, it could be very a big event. But for this year, sales were nil. Most of the really interested lookers were other vendors. I told Toby that I needed to sell two paintings to come out ahead, but if I bought stuff at other vendors, I would have to sell even more to break even. We laughed about that, but one of the other artists told me that she never buys from other vendors until she breaks even with her sales. Good advice. Other good advice came from my buddy Jo, who is an artist and blogger.  Her email came a little late, since I did not receive it until I was sitting out at the Art Walk. Still, I tried to talk to people, which I like to do and can do easily. The problem was that my friend Glenna came to sit with me. I love Glenna. It was good to have her around, but she was a bit of a distraction. Several times I broke off conversation with her to talk to visitors. It felt rude, but necessary. Good news - there were very few visitors to talk with, so I did not have to be rude to Glenna very often.  Bad news - there were very few visitors to talk with :)

The day was very hot and we were in the sun most of the day. I wondered whom I had made angry that they would put me in the sun. It turned out that it was a lady whom I do not know very well. She put herself in a very shady spot. But one thing I know for sure, I will be nicer to her next year :) Actually, the tent provided some very nice shade, and I had a fan that we set up for a breeze. Most of the day there was a little breeze anyway. We moved our chairs around throughout the day to fit in the shade. In the photo, you can see that we are inside the tent. I really wanted to be outside the tent so that visitors could view the paintings easier. But there was no shade anywhere to be found other than under my tent. Even under the tent, I got quite the sunburn on my back - odd.

Something funny about the heat: While setting up the tent in the early morning hours, there was a bit of shade, but it was receding fast. Before the tent was up, we were in the sun and sweating. My feet were on fire. I thought it was my new sandals. I was thinking that I was going to have to go barefoot, because my feet were so hot. Finally I said something to Toby. He said his feet were really hot too! He had brought his flip-flops and was going to change into them immediately, because his feet were so  hot. When the tent was up and I was thinking about my poor feet, I realized something. The night before the art walk, Toby had put some heat lotion on his feet since his feet were hurting. He said it felt good, and he came and rubbed my feet too. It did feel good at the time. But standing out in the sun, I guess the heat lotion kicked in and was miserable. I rubbed ice from our cooler on my feet to help relieve the pain/heat.  I'm sure glad Toby did not rub my back. My back burned on its own.

When all was done, we broke down our tent, and went to see the Grandbabies. They have a new above ground pool. It is only 30" deep, but we cooled our bodies off while playing with the Grands. Then my son fed us some pulled port tacos. By then, I was breaking down. I was still a happy camper/artist, but my brain was done for the day. And it was a good day. I would do it all again.