Monday, May 28, 2012

Life Through My Lens - Shadows...

Friendship is the shadow of the evening, which increases with the setting sun of life.
 - Jean de La Fontaine

I am fortunate to have been blessed with good friends who share their lives with me. Thanks for being an influence in my life for good.

Adventures & Misadventures of Daily Living

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Following footsteps...

I captured this picture on a trip to an abandoned missile base near my home. I thought the image of a child following in the footsteps of his parents was a powerful one.

As a single footstep will not make a path on the earth, so a single thought will not make a pathway in the mind. To make a deep physical path, we walk again and again. To make a deep mental path, we must think over and over the kind of thoughts we wish to dominate our lives. 
- Henry David Thoreau

Friday, May 25, 2012

Breaking through...

As I headed to work this morning - the last day of school for this year - this is the sight that greeted me. I thought about the interplay between the sunlight and the shadow of the clouds. The rays of sun breaking through the stubborn cloud cover. Even when storms appear to threaten, ultimately the sun breaks through.  In some ways teaching is like that.

There are days it feels like nothing you say or do is breaking through the thick layer of issues students bring with them. Family issues. Health issues. Academic issues. And yet, every once in awhile you do break through. Those are the moments to cling to.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Life Through My Lens - Doorways...

Every doorway, every intersection has a story. - Katherine Dunn

The door stands open
To pass through
To stay

I pause
Wondering if 
What lies beyond
Worth the risk

One step
Then another
Moving forward
The threshold

I cross
Into a new day
Facing the future
The past

Moving on

-MLD 2012

Adventures & Misadventures of Daily Living

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Among thorns...

There is something to be said about finding beauty in adversity...

"The rose and the thorn, and sorrow and gladness are linked together."- Saadi

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Felicitous Natal Anniversary

On May 17 - a few trips around the sun ago - my parents were pleased to announce the birth of a bouncing baby girl. 
They named her Melinda and called her Mindy for short. 

In my travels around the sun I have been blessed with a loving family and caring friends.
My best present is all of you.
Thanks for all you do.

Sunday, May 13, 2012


"All that I am, or hope to be, I owe to my angel mother." - Abraham Lincoln

On Mother's Day -

To mom - Thank you for giving me both roots and wings, for teaching me correct principles and setting me on the right path.  Thanks for the late nights and early mornings, the sleepless hours spent worrying and praying. Thanks for all you continue to do.

To my sisters both by birth and marriage - Thanks for being the women you are and raising your children with love and compassion in a challenging and sometimes scary world.

To my aunts and grandmothers - Thank you for your examples of care and devotion.

To friends both old and new - Thank you for your kindness and example, for "sharing" your families with me.

To all those who may not be mothers in the strict sense of the word - Thank you for sharing your time, talent, energies, and love with all those around you.

Happy Mother's Day!

Sunday, May 6, 2012


A fellow teacher and friend issued a challenge for this week of Teacher Appreciation to recognize and acknowledge in some way teachers who made a difference in your life. I decided I would take that challenge.

The dictionary defines appreciation as: gratitude; thankful recognition. 
So, to all of you who have been a powerful force for good in my life, here is a small token of that gratitude.

My first and most influential teachers were my parents. I couldn't write a post about teachers without acknowledging the great influence they had and still have in my life. I am who I am because of the start they gave me.

Mrs. B. was my Kindergarten teacher. Legally blind, she taught me that one can overcome seemingly insurmountable obstacles to gain a dream. She also took the time to reach each child on an individual level. For me it was introducing me to "Clifford the Big Red Dog" when she found out that I was frightened of dogs as a child. It was one of many things that help her stand out in my mind.

Mrs. W. helped instill a love for music and art when I was in 4th grade. In one of those odd twists of time and fate, I now have the opportunity of teaching with her. She has been and continues to be an influence for good in my life and a great example of persevering through trials and difficulties.

Mrs. S. introduced me to the beauty of American Sign Language during my 5th grade year. She also challenged and pushed each of us to try our hardest and do our best.

During my junior high years there were a couple of teachers who stand out in my memory. Mr. E. was passionate about history and made each class an adventure in learning. A second Mrs. W. encouraged my humble efforts at writing and challenged me to do more.

In high school there were also a few extraordinary teachers. A third Mrs. W. introduced me to the classics of literature. She also made it a point not to accept excuses for shoddy work. My writing and studying became better because of her. Mr. P. brought passion and conviction to his teaching of history. The mysteries of the past came alive under his skillful teaching. Mr. D. cultivated discussions and encouraged diverse thoughts. Mr. N. taught French, but more than that - he taught compassion and kindness. A second Mr. P. brought a love of the earth and it's fascinating formation to the surface. Field trips into the geologic wonder that is is our own "backyard" still linger in my memories now.

These are just a few of the wonderful teachers had the privilege of knowing during my years as a student.

Now I am a teacher. I am the one charged with educating young minds. It's a daunting job. The people I work with daily are an inspiration. They truly are dedicated and give their all. Thank you - Mrs. Q, Mrs. H., Mrs. W., Mrs. N., Mrs. S., Mr. P., Mr. H., Mr. J., and Ms. T. You all make me want to be a better teacher and principal. Your efforts on behalf of our students do not go unnoticed. Thanks for all the untold hours of preparation, worry, care, and sacrifice - both personal and financial you give.
I also have over the past several years had the privilege of meeting many other teachers whom I admire and learn from constantly through workshops, classes, and presentations. To them I say thank you.

A new addition to that illustrious crew is Mr. Z. who recently (and deservedly so) received the Golden Apple Teacher of the Year award at his school. Over the past several months I have gotten to know this 5th grade teacher and am amazed at all the things he does for his students. My own teaching has been rejuvenated as I have visited with and learned from him.

And to the students who I have had the privilege of teaching over the past fifteen years - thank you. You, too, have been influential teachers. From you I have learned patience, perseverance, and from some of you courage, and compassion. I hope that in return you have learned from me. If you leave with an education not only of the mind, but of the heart - of kindness and respect for yourselves and others, I will consider myself as having some success.

Now - will YOU take the challenge?

Life Through My Lens - Walls...

I have passed this wall countless times as I have driven the winding road that wends its way through Price Canyon. As I was passing through again on a return journey to my home I saw it again, but this time I stopped to capture it with my camera. 

As I focused the lens and readied to take the photo, it struck me that we all have walls. 

I am not speaking merely of physical walls, but walls we build within ourselves. Daily, it seems, we add brick and mortar to those walls - not wanting to let others in past our defenses for fear of failure, rejection, or being hurt.

Something there is that doesn't love a wall, 
That sends the frozen-ground-swell under it, 
And spills the upper boulders in the sun, 
And makes gaps even two can pass abreast...
(Excerpts from Mending Wall by Robert Frost)

The difficulty comes in letting the walls come down, brick by brick, leaving one open and vulnerable. And yet it is in these very moments of vulnerability, of utter openness that we have the greatest chance to make connections with others... to help them tear down their own walls... to be good neighbors... to be good friends...

Adventures & Misadventures of Daily Living

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Off the beaten path...

DATELINE - Rio Verde - 

It was a dark and stormy night when the intrepid explorers began their arduous journey...

Well, okay...

Actually it was a beautifully sunny day when we started out on what Gilligan might have called a "three-hour tour." Allisha had gone to Springville with a friend and fellow Bountiful Basket site coordinator to meet with one of the creators of Bountiful Baskets. It was mid-afternoon when the rest of us loaded up Mr. Z's Santa Fe with a few snacks, some water, six children, three adults, and a hankering for adventure.

John, Allisha, and their family had been introduced by his parents to a small geyser on what (according to Google Earth) is known as Chaffin Ranch near the San Rafael River.  It was decided that we would take a short jaunt out to visit in the hopes of seeing it go off. 

The trip to the geyser on the washboard dirt road, past Lake Stinky Muddy Water (aka Horse Bench Reservoir), and a memorial to a fallen townsmen added to the sense of adventure and the kids were eager to show the two newcomers - Mr. Z, and me - all there was to explore...

    - The geyser with its red-gold mineral deposits sloping away in undulating layers...
    - The classic cars which housed memories of "far away places with strange sounding names" but were now sitting, neglected and forlorn waiting to be given a second chance...
    - The cistern that once fed water to the ranch...
    - The demolished rubble that marked the spot where a house once stood...

When the intrepid adventurers (i.e. our awesome selves) were finished exploring the area we piled back in the Santa Fe to head elsewhere. It seemed too early to head back, so - having seen a truck pass by - Mr. Z.  decided to follow in the general direction it took, just to see where the road might lead. And where it led was into an unexpected adventure.

As we traveled on the unknown path there were several branches leading in different directions at various points along the road. Sometimes our fearless driver (Mr. Z.) would "choose the right", but more often we would take the left path because - as he said - "Choosing the left is more adventurous."

After we had been driving for several minutes we came to several sandy spots on a downhill incline that made it a little more difficult to drive. We were now at the "point of no return." John, Mr. Z. and I felt that we would have a difficult time making it back up the hill, so we would instead press forward, hoping that the road would eventually wind back around. Unfortunately, as we neared the banks of the Green River the sand became deeper and eventually we became stuck.  With a little - ok, A LOT - of effort from Mr. Z, John, and Ian - his eldest man-cub pushing, and me at the wheel trying to steer us, we eventually got out of the first sand trap that caught us. We continued moving forward a few more yards until were were stopped again. This time no amount of effort on our parts would free us. We gathered boards, branches, brush - anything to give us traction, but to no avail. Upon looking underneath the car it became glaringly apparent why we weren't going anywhere. The sand was clear up to the undercarriage of the car and the wheels were just digging it down deeper with each effort.

Mr. Z. was horrified that we had gotten stuck and kept apologizing to John. Still, I have to note here that despite the situation there was no major panic on the part of any of those involved. Most of the kids, and even the three adults, considered it all part of an adventure - perhaps one we hadn't consciously chosen - but an adventure nonetheless. (A few prayers - both silent and spoken - I'm sure helped.)

A satellite view of our trek.
My thanks to Google Earth for helping me to figure out where we were
After trying unsuccessfully to get out, we decided that we would try to call John's parents for help. At our current location, however, we had no service. Mr. Z. and I took John's phone and my phone and walked a bit to see if we could find a signal. About a thousand feet from where the car was - across the river from Ruby Ranch - we found one. (Go Verizon!) There was only one bar of service on my phone but we decided we would attempt the call anyway. We waited with baited breath to see if the call would go through. It rang once, twice, and then the call was.... answered. We breathed a sigh of relief as Mr. Z. began to relay our situation to John's dad who chuckled a bit at the news. After giving our coordinates - Mr. Z.'s reliable Tom-Tom provided them for us along with an estimate of how long it would take us to walk out if that were necessary (29 miles and 7 1/2 hours just in case you were wondering) - he asked if they would bring some snacks and water for the kids as they were getting tired and little hungry. We walked back to let John and the kids know that we had made contact and that our rescue party was on its way. The news was met with much relief by our intrepid crew.

A closer view of where the sandman got us.
At this point we thought the best course of action was for a couple of us to start walking back along the road to meet John's parents and the rest would stay with the car and wait. Mr. Z. had a DVD player and a movie in his Santa Fe and he set it up for those remaining behind. Then Mr. Z, Micah - John's son, and I headed back up the road to meet our rescuers. About 45 minutes later we saw a cloud of dust and headlights in the distance coming towards us and knew that help had arrived. As they stopped to let us in John's mom asked Mr. Z. what kind of a car he drove. When he answered that he drove a Santa Fe, she told him he needed to get a Chevy because they don't get stuck. We all had a laugh and then guided them down to where the car was and found everyone still safe and sound, but definitely ready to be home. Eventually they were able to pull the Santa Fe out of the sand, get it turned around and heading in the right direction. We made a mighty run up the sandy hill and made it to the top.

The rest of the journey was fairly uneventful. We wound our way back along the dirt track and eventually to John's home where everyone dined on cereal and toast for a late supper. It was a pleasant end to our adventure. When Allisha arrived home we told her what had happened and she just shook her head and laughed at the "three musketeers."

Now, some of you might think that the day was a loss.

I would have to respectfully disagree. 

While we did not know when we set out what the day would bring, it ended up being a fun day spent in the company of good friends that will not be easily forgotten. (I only wish Allisha would have been able to be with us.) It was also a day spent in the rugged beauty that surrounds our home.

And that, dear reader, is the end of our tale.... or at least this version of events.

Two other perspectives on this experience can be found  here and here

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Life Through My Lens - Life is a highway...

Oh, to return to the days when a stick, an old car, and a friendly face or two were all that was needed for an adventure....

I think this old car probably had a smile as another generation gave it new life.

Adventures & Misadventures of Daily Living