These Faces

Did I ever see my children
as these faces I see now
My eyes periscope across the ocean of manila brown desks
I’m thinking many thoughts
especially how to remain afloat today
and not sink like a sub
The endless falsetto voices lost in the banter of youth
are not affected by the tepid grey tile and dull institutional cinder block
as am I
On these first days
when teachers gaze across that sea of bright, clear eyes
do they see my children
as I see them
Not evaluating as an instructor
but visualizing with the hopeful heart of a parent
I wonder

Max and Caroline

Max and Caroline

painted oh, so long ago

In my six years as a substitute teacher for all grade levels, just about every teacher I’ve had the honor of working with goes above and beyond what is expected, in an ever changing educational environment. Teachers are a compassionate group. Many educators’ patience is wider than an ocean of manila brown desks.

A Crime of Crayons

A Crayon Crime

It seemed in 1973 everyone in school had 64 crayons – everyone – except me. On the day in question, desperation had clouded my judgement. It had corrupted my creative sensibility. I was ten at the time and in dire need of 64 colors. I had Crayola’s 24 pack which included colors for growing robust apple trees, fluid blue skies and abstract butterflies. It wasn’t enough. I needed more pigment. I coveted the built-in sharpener too.

Crayola BoxOne day while shopping with my mother and 2 other siblings, fate waxing at my feet, divine intervention struck. On this ominous morning, I glanced down at the beige store tiles. My disbelieving eyes engaged my sleeping brain. My little fingers snatched up the crumpled dollar on the floor. Much to my horror I discovered it was one-half of a paper dollar, and the other half was nowhere in sight. Nothing mattered. My heart was jolting in 64 magnificent colors. My brain was a prism of planning. “Art cannot be stopped,” my greying conscience defended. While Mom busied herself shopping and shepherding my two younger siblings around cans of tomatoes, I cleverly rolled the dollar into a cylinder.

There wasn’t much time. Grocery cart loading for a family of eight was nearly done. I told Mom I needed the bathroom. I flew to the school supply section, grabbed Crayola’s 64 box then sprinted to the register hoping to make an express purchase. I handed the masterfully rolled dollar to a young cashier. I didn’t know how much the crayons cost and I didn’t wait. I grabbed my fabulous box and bolted toward the exit doors.

In hindsight, I should’ve selected the silver-haired cashier. The swift employee ran after me as did my mother. My crime was foiled on the spot. I had to return the crayons. I had to write a letter of apology. And, I was grounded.

So there I was stuck in my room with just 24 crayons and two weeks to think about all the colors I didn’t have.
Crayon Crime

Just Drink You Can Do It

Dear Friends,
This past friday, I had the creative fortune of subbing as a middle school art teacher. The sixth grade project was conceptualizing a new brand of juice/sport drink. Besides designing the can – a catchy slogan was asked for.

Just for giggles while on my lunch break, I created my own version of a dream drink. But I must warn you my friends, I get superbly corny and overly sentimental this time of year (not too cool for an art person 😉 ). I present my beverage idea for your drinking entertainment –
Can DoThank you. May you dream of bathing in your own magic drink.

Sketch done during friday lunch break.
Earth logo

boots and sunsets

Dear Friends,
Boots protect our feet and transport us to new destinations. Yesterday, my boots brought me to an enriched chemistry class and a brilliant-minded teacher. I learned something I didn’t know before. It deals with ROYGBIV and the color spectrum. I should have remembered this from my high school days. At sunset, light must travel farther through the atmosphere to reach you. When it finally does connect, more of it is reflected. Ultimately, the longest and last wavelength standing – or bending as the case may – is red. The shorter wavelengths – blues and greens – are scattered and can no longer be seen.

And this is the most wild part: By the time you see the sun in sinking below the horizon, it has already gone down. You, my friends are seeing an optical illusion of bending light…

Who knew (or remembered)? I didn’t!

Workboots Thank you. May you dream of comfy boots and beautiful sunsets.
Workboots created a few days ago, after observing anxious students sporting their fall fashion boots while trying to remember not to clench my jaw so much.

When You’re Lonely, Tell Your ‘Tail’

Dear Friends,
Those of you kind enough to pass by here and read occasionally know I’m a substitute teacher. Oddly, knowing what I know now, I’ve come to realize there are no substitutes for teachers. And, after four years of walking institutional hallways, I’ve also become a keen observer of student faces. Sometimes, the sea of faces makes me a bit blue. The stoic countenances – not the ones miserable to be in school, or the teens who didn’t want to wake at 7 AM – but the students who give the impression they could use a good friend or two. These down-turned mouths make me think back to my school face.
catholic school

So I came up with a friend who has the heart of a lion, the resourcefulness of a cat and the ability to find comfort in conversing with someone else – even if it is his own tail.

Blue Tale

Blue Tale

Thank you. May you dream of one thousand magical tales and one dear friend…
Blue Lion Tail created yesterday after subbing

Star Struck

Dear Friends,
The giant husband and I walked through 2014 summer nights. Now, with another educational season upon us and its accompanying lunacy, we’ve altered our exercise routine. Our sneaker feet have shifted to 5 AM. It was a little strange at first: the quiet of our home, the blackened windows, and the silence of the street save our morning conversations spoken in hushed tones.

Early AM before too many electric lights interfere, the liquid sky is like indigo wine and the stars vibrate like golden glass. I’m embarrassed to say I’d forgotten the exquisite beauty of the stars.  So many stars, so many constellations I don’t know the names of…  I promised myself to never forget the sky’s treasures again. They are worth drinking in and wishing upon.

Star Gazer

Star Gazer


Thank you. May you dream bathed in star glow and powdered with dream dust…

Scarlet O’Hara’s Mantra

Dear Friends,
Some of you have already braved the school return with pencils pointed. Another year of subbing has arrived for me. I must suck it up and leave my studio for the classroom. I’ve composed a little pocket note – as we’re all golems. The note, now covered in clear tape will withstand the test of time. It will be placed in my pocket daily, after the toothbrush leaves my mouth. My golem note suggests: to not get cranky with my family, to breathe deeply in the face of stressful situations, to enjoy every day – even the more challenging ones, to maintain a healthy lifestyle including daily exercise, to create as often as possible, to remember it’s only a small space I occupy and all is possible within that small space…

Up in Arms

Up in Arms

We don’t need more arms to accomplish our objectives, we need only remember, ‘you can do as much as you can do and the rest will just have to wait.’ In the words of the immortal Scarlet O’Hara, “…tomorrow is another day…”

Thank you. May you dream of nothing but laughter and good cheer.
Arms and Arms created one week ago while feeling sorry for myself… 🙂

Pencils Through Our Heads

Dear Friends,
It’s back to squeaking bus brakes, pencils in our ears, printers not working, heavy eye crust, bewildered pets and the hands-of-time on crack. The ground starts rushing by while we’re trying to tie our running shoes. But, it’s all good. There’s nothing bad here. Our children are learning – possibly math. We’re back to the regimen of it all. This time of year I begin my merry ‘Holiday’ countdown. Please join in if you’d like: $5000, $4000, $3,000… 😉

Paper Shadow

Paper Shadow

Happiest of holidays, for those lucky enough to celebrate the day and/or have the day off!

Thank you. May you dream of golden buses and carefree schedules…
Pencil Head created August 31, 2014 with pencil and much erasing.

Wise Artist Sister Told Me to Add More Art

Dear friends,
My artist sister, who is more mature and so much wiser than I, suggested incorporating more of my own artwork into anntogether. I told her my portfolio and writing pieces will be included with the revised blog design (hopefully coming soon). I let her know that up to this post, I have sprinkled random art pieces throughout other posts. This post for example highlights some work from my earlier years…

I haven’t done much sculpture, but I did make this handprint when I was 5-
hand print

print backThen there was an angel my inner-tomboy made from a cone when I was eleven. I’d snuck into my grandma’s closet and unwrapped the wool off one of her knitting cones. Grandma later asked if I knew who did it. I lied. I feel a pang of guilt that this little angel has come to represent the little devil in me.

angelI’m quite proud of this next piece, I assisted the primary artist – a man by the name of Mike-

pieta                                                                 Kidding of course…

The sculptures below are both mine. I created them my senior year of high school. They broke apart, as did all but one of my other sculptures. I’m so happy to have a few decent black and white photos of both pieces. This first one is a whimsical saxophone –

tubatuba faceThe next is by far my favorite. Had she withstood the test of time, we would have been the best of friends. She was created using a mirror. If memory serves she was at least two and 1/2 feet in length. That year I also sculpted a horse rearing up – that collapsed – and a plate of spaghetti and meatballs which died at my childhood home. Sadly, I have no pictures of those sculpts. So friends, I present to you my Suffering Woman

my sculpt

sideview And a close up of her hand which I recall being quite proud of back then-

hand closeI truly appreciate my sister’s artful wisdom.
I’ll start incorporating more art in anntogether.
Apparently, Ann has a long way to go to-get-her stuff together…

Death of an Ancient One

As a kid, I found any morning walk to my bus stop after a heavy rain daunting. Neither me or my earthworm friends were very happy. I couldn’t bear to watch the endless sea of pinkish-brown bodies wriggling on the wet blacktop. Whenever this upsetting scene accosted my eyes, my inner-tomboy morphed into a worm-plucking machine. Running in a serpentine pattern, I’d grab as many worms as my little hands could carry. Then onto the nearest lawn went the hapless earthworms. I’d continue saving worms until the bus arrived. Once seated, I’d wipe my dirty hands on my navy-blue knee socks so the nuns couldn’t think I’d been digging for the devil.

I don’t save earthworms much these days. I’d like to think that over the last forty years their little earthworm brains have evolved and they’re better equipped at saving themselves. I’ve since taken up offering roadside assistance to bewildered dogs. To prepare myself for this challenge, a nylon leash is stowed in my car and I watch The Dog Whisperer, whenever I can. To date I’m happy to report-I’ve reunited several lost pooches with their owners (though one little dog with oddly big teeth scared the crap out of me).

Bringing me to the reptile saving. A few years back there was an incident which compels me to save turtles for the rest of my life. I learned a terrible, horrible and valuable lesson. Every spring where I live many turtles venture out onto the road. While driving the tank, if I happen to spy a slow-moving shell I pull over and return the turtle to safety.

On this particular spring day several years ago, I’d been rushing to collect the big son (who was much smaller at the time) from elementary school. We had to find a birthday gift then get to a party. On the way to his school, a large snapping turtle – the kind that live 150 years – was making his way across the road. He was better than halfway and the road was not heavily trafficked. A fleeting thought entered my mind, “Pull the car over and make sure the turtle gets across.” Followed by the next fleeting thought, “No time. Everyone will see that giant turtle. It’s impossible not too. He’ll be fine.” I continued on my journey feeling nary a twinge of guilt. I picked up the big son and we proceeded to Target.

On the return ride, my jaw dropped open, my mouth hung agape. I was in disbelief. The huge, ancient, beautiful turtle didn’t make it across the road. I was broken-hearted but the guilt was far worse. I vowed from that day forward, much to the giant husband’s chagrin, to save every single turtle or reptile, no matter the time, place or situation.

I will admit that picking up and carrying that giant snapping turtle last year was not very smart, but the darn thing wasn’t moving fast enough and I had to help him cross the road.

turtle head/Prisma

turtle head/Prisma