Sunday, December 16, 2012

Here we go again

I'm in shock about what happened in Connecticut.  I don't think there was anything that could have been done to prevent that except A LOT of things.  Our poor country is so concerned with consumerism and money, that we stigmatize everyone.  We claim to be multi-everything but we really do is compartmentalize all.  Someone fits into this box or that box.  And if you don't, well sorry, we can't help you with that.  I see it everyday, people are not getting what they need (particularly the youth in this country....and especially if you are low income).  They are castaways, they are misfits, they are "crazy".

I'm not going to talk to you about how angry this latest round of school shooting makes me.  Is it the fact that these are just little kids?  Is it the fact that the teachers reacted to protect their students at any cost?  Is it that the news will clearly put more focus on "if it bleeds it leads"?  I don't know.

But what if, our government officials, our top minds, and our top financial wizards put more money, services, and study to creating programs where kids got exactly what they needed, and provided mental and health services for everyone, without question? What if teachers were really treated like professionals, and therefore given manageable workloads?  What if kids were allowed to study a curriculum that allowed them to create and think, rather than sit and pass a test?

I hope this country wakes up to the insane gun laws, and changes the 2nd amendment, it needs to happen, no doubt about that.  However, we need to all take steps to come together in our own communities and share our own experiences with our neighbors, our schools, and out local officials.  That's the only way to be united.  What do I need in my community?  What does it take to be apart of something that?  What kind of gestures go a long way to create a kinder, gentler, open community?

I am an art teacher that teaches the "throw-a-way" kids of our community.  I don't treat them as such, I treat them with respect.  I treat them how I want to be treated.  Sometimes that's not enough.  Sometimes they need more than my actions inside my classroom.  They need support in their community, they need someone they can count on, they need creative ways to find their voice instead of finding violence.  They need to understand ways they can move through society that creates boundaries and boxes for them.

This holiday season, I hope that we can all take time to reflect on these issues of our community and our country. I hope that we can resolve to be better people, to offer help when help is needed, to commit to going out into the world with our best intentions.  And when times are difficult or filled with pressure, to remember to take each situation as it is, moment by moment and realize that we are all connected to each other in one way or another.

But most of all remember that we're all human, living, breathing beings.  And if we treat each other as such, then we'll be ok.

I'll leave you with quote from His Holiness the Dalai Lama:

                       -  If every 8 year old in the world is taught meditation, we will eliminate violence from the world within one generation.

And again, from Ghandi-

Be the change you want to see in this world.

Om shanti, namaste.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

What is worse?

Wow, it's already mid November, heck - PAST mid november, and I haven't posted anything in a really long time.  I wonder why that is?  I guess it's because I just feel like I don't have the time to sit down and write anything.  I don't even have time to sit down and think about anything.  But I will tell you one thing.  It's a VERY SLOW lead up to the Thanksgiving holiday.

Today is our last day of school before we go on Thanksgiving break.  The one good thing about our district (yes there is one thing), is that we get Wednesday off as part of our break.  It used to be a professional development day, but they realized teachers were just calling in sick anyway.  So I don't know if it's to our credit or to our loss, but we get this as an actual day off.

The only problem is, I should be teaching something right now.  I shouldn't be blogging right now.  So you may be saying to me-- well, stop wasting your time, go teach!  Well, I would, if there was a class to teach.   As you may have remembered, I teach at a juvenile detention home school, and the kids don't go anywhere.  Except to their rooms.  And that's where they are right now.

Why are they there?  Oh I don't know, mostly because of the way the system is comprised.  It's made up of people who couldn't care less about the well being of a child, let alone their education.  I'm sitting in my room typing this because ALL the students are in their rooms because of--- wait for it--- not enough staff working.

So why aren't there enough staff?  Did they call in sick?  Did they have vacations planned?  Well, NO.  They had to take a kid somewhere for some kind of an appoinment.  Does this require the whole staff to go?  NO! No it doesn't.  So why would there not be enough staff? 

Because of money. That's right.  Money.  There are only enough staff to cover what is considered normal.  But, you're thinking to yourself, this is an appointment.  Couldn't they have planned for that?

And to answer that question, we would actually need someone to have a good understanding of why it's important to create consistency in this type of environment.  Which there aren't many.

So I sit.  I walk around, I read, I file, I do paper work, I prepare an art project for when we RETURN.  But I'm done, here I sit.  Not allowed to leave early, when the school is literally shut down, and the day before Thanksgiving break.

Yep, I'm a little bitter.  And then I laugh a little bit.  There are plenty things worse.  There are PLENTY.  But I hate idle time, and I'm running out of things to keep me busy.  I guess I'll go back to reading... from a book even. 

Too bad I didn't bring my own art supplies or I could be working on my own art work right now.  Oh well, I guess I should just enjoy these quiet moments in my classroom, they are rare. I just wish my classroom wasn't contained inside barbed wire, self-locking doors, buzzers, guards, and windows that don't open.

Although, at least I do have a window.

Tuesday, November 06, 2012


No matter what your beliefs are, just vote!  I did today. It took a lot longer than I thought, but I was able to share the experience with my husband, neighbors, and pleasant people standing in line.  I'm glad to say that I can vote, and I do have a say in my local elections.   I voted on some local issues that are important in my county.

I'm not the most patriotic person in the world.  But I am glad I do have certain rights.  I can share my views and make my own decisions.

The one thing that I'm glad will be over are these stupid propaganda-- I mean campaign adds.  Living in a battle ground/swing state, is not a treat.  I've felt personally attacked myself.  I'm just so tired of seeing all of these negative ads.  It doesn't help me choose.  It makes me not want to choose.

However, just to get on the soap box a little bit.  I have felt attacked this election cycle.  With all the inflammatory remarks about women's issues, I have been personally offended that many people don't think I should be able to make my own decisions about my body.

Ahh, ok, enough of that.  There are plenty of reasons this election cycle to be up in arms about so many issues.  I won't go into them here.  Believe me, on facebook I've seen enough of people's rants and raves.

So Happy Election Day to you all out there.  I've used my right, and I'm so glad I have it. Below are a couple of pictures I took of today's process.  Played around with the light and exposure...

The looooooooong line.  2 hours, up and around a couple of corners I found my right to vote.

Right after J and I voted.  Yay for voting! (probably the only time you'll see with an American flag)

Saturday, November 03, 2012

Photo craziness

Ok, so I've been introduced to Instagram.  It's only taken me years to get on board, but I love it.  It's a great way to bring a little something into pictures you take.  I love it.  So i've been trying it out with my phone.  I have an Iphone, and I don't really do anything with it.  For me, it actually is too much phone.  But since a friend of mine introduced me to free photo processing, I'm so excited to try it out.  So here are a few randoms.....
Walking around the neighborhood on a brisk fall day.

Some leftover roses.  A reminder of warmer weather.

Capturing the power outage that Super storm Sandy gave us, so lucky it was just 8 hours long.

Some fall foliage.

Lhotse face.

Little squirrel trying to keep warm.  Yep I see you way up there!

Walking through old town, a wintery window.  What is the dog looking at, you may ask?? See next picture.

A tutu made for grown ups and a tweed cardigan and fur... no thanks.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

It's the most wonderful time of the year...

I lived in New Mexico for 5 years and fell madly in love with.... green chile.  This article explains it the best:  Why I love green chile.

And it's true, the early fall, when the roasting happens... Albuquerque fill with the scent of roasted chiles (which smell almost a little like something else...if you know what I'm saying).  HATCH Green Chile's are special.  And don't be fooled by others... It has to be from New Mexico.  Not all green chile's are the same, believe me I've tried to make due without.

It just doesn't work.

LONG LIVE GREEN CHILE!  I totally need a shirt with that on it.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

This no sleep thing...

What the heck, it's Saturday night-- actually Sunday morning.  After 2 am.  I'm not even coming home from anywhere exciting.  In fact, I've been home all evening, and even tried to go to sleep early because I was so tired.  But yet, here I am wide awake, tired, and can't sleep.

I guess I have to much on my mind.  ARGH!  Darn chitta vritti.  Too much on my mind.  I was just lying there thinking and thinking away.  Then telling myself to stop thinking, and then reminding myself to just focus on the breath (just like a good yogi).

But to no avail, and here I write.

It's busy week after week, and I guess when the mind is over loaded, it just has a tough time slowing down.  It's also the first day of fall.  Shifting seasons can sometimes have an effect on people.  I love fall, maybe I'm just too darned excited for the changing leaves, the spiced apple cider, and pumpkin pie!  I dunno.

But this no sleep thing.  It's a but much for me.  I was doing so well.

Sunday, September 16, 2012


I really like Sunday mornings.  It's so peaceful.  Not much traffic, not much movement, just the sounds of me shifting in my seat and the birds waking up.  There's not much to not like.  I'm sitting here thinking about Saturday and drinking a warm cup of tea.  I'm thinking about how the summer is coming to a close, and how the chill in the air is just the beginning of how everything will soon start to change colors, whither away.

It's just a reminder.

Yesterday was also a great reminder.  I went with some of my friends to do yoga with one of my teachers from training.  He's pretty amazing.  He has a great way of making everyone feeling welcome. I think I needed that reminder too.  I forget that a lot of people have very different views of yoga, which is fine.  You can look at yoga as a tao.  Which is "way".  So yoga is a way, and then within yoga there are many ways.  I love that philosophy, because it's so much more inclusive.

Sometimes I feel people restrict what is or isn't yoga.  But I truly feel that anything could be yoga.  After all yoga is breath.  Linking your breath to movement, in a special way is vinyasa.  One of the 8 limbs of yoga is meditation.  So, if I consider yoga to be anything, maybe drinking tea could be yoga!

I think yoga really just reminds us that thinking about our actions is important.  Being present, focusing on what is right here.

Yesterday was a pretty amazing day.  I brought  to of my friends who are visiting from Connecticut to yoga.  They've never been to a yoga class, and I think they had a great time.  It was interesting to try and catch them out of the corner of my eye during our class.  They were definitely having a good experience, and I'm so glad that they're first "real" class was with me and my teacher.

The other part of the day was being around this little guy, pictured below.  During practice he just came around, sat with us, crawled underneath us, fed us little bit of apple, and just watched.  He was not only a peaceful little guy, but a fun little guy.  It was nice to have him around our circle.  Of course there were time when he ran off to look at something, but he was just a cutie pie the whole time.  Another reminder.

In the next couple of months I hope that these reminders of the weekend come back to me.  It's one of the few times in the past couple of months that I've felt like things seemed to slow down.

Hope ya'll are having a great weekend out there!

An amazing space that was quiet, and away from traffic.  A nice little oasis in the middle of chaos

There's the little guy, buddha, and me

Friday, September 07, 2012


Lately, I've been having a lot of strange dreams.  Ones that I can't really figure out why I might be dreaming them.  I haven't been lost in thought about other people, places or things.  But they seem to come up in these last few nights.

Are dreams a way of working something out?  Or are they just "head movies" that float around when I'm trying to sleep?

Then you have one camp that says dreaming is good, because that means you're getting into deep sleep, while others say dreaming is bad... that's a disturbed mind (not disturbed as in crazy, disturbed as in disturbed thoughts, I mean, you know, a busy mind....just had to clear that up).

So I don't know, I think no matter who says what, I'm glad I'm dreaming, because that means at the very least I am getting some sleep.  And lack of sleep has plagued me for years.  The sleep has come back and it must mean that I'm keeping very busy.  Well, some what.  Next week it really starts.  I begin 2 graduate classes and start the after school art/yoga program.  Oh, and let me throw in an original art design for his yoga training logo!  It's going to be crazy!!!!

Anyway, it is Friday, my students are busy working on their "elements of design"- Kandinsky inspired- group drawings.  Some of them look like a mess, but others.... may have some interesting qualities.   I need to start blogging their artwork again...  If I do, I'll post the link here.


Tuesday, September 04, 2012

"First" day done

It's been a long time coming, this first day of school.  I've been working already for over a month, but the first day, still feels like the first day.  Even though our population is transient we like to feel like we're giving them a welcoming to school.

It was a busy day.  We started the school year with a brand new schedule.   I do feel like I'm kind of running a race today.  I have all my classes in a row, and we're going to try out team-teaching.  I'm not really sure how it's going to work, considering we've never done that before in this arena.  Also we've added an advisory period, a ROAR period, and a wrap up period.  It all sounds good, but no one had planned for it.  Also- to include all this stuff we have to shorten all the classes.  Which is insane!  It definitely keeps us on our toes.  The reason it is like this because of the d-home schedule.  The staff has a different schedule that has to allow for their breaks (given their 12 hour shifts).  So there's only so much we can do.

It's hard.  Our day is actually longer right now.  Which makes me wonder about my after school program.  What's going to happen to that?  We only have a short window for that as well.   Right now, our yoga/art program is looking really non-exsistent.  45 minutes... is definitely not even close to enough.

Anyway-  we'll see what happens.  I can't control what happens, I have to be flexible, adjust and try to ask for what I need.  Hopefully a change can be made to accommodate, but if not, then I guess we'll shop our after school program somewhere else.  It just would be nice to apply it to the students we have, they need it the most.

So, it was an ok day, there is a lot to figure out before the end of the week.  But that's always the case where I work.  There's alway something.

Only 84 more days until Thanksgiving... ugh.  I can't think about that.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Yoga time!

First real class I get to sub for today.  Very excited, and I think I'm prepared.  Had to add some extra poses and music to my sequence.  I hope that people find it relaxing and enjoyable!  We're doing a serious of poses on the floor, given that it's gentle yoga.  Hopefully it will bring some relief to the lower back and hamstrings, as well as open up shoulders and bring some flexibility in the back.

I have to say that I'm a little nervous, but I think it will be fine.  I'm subbing for a super awesome teacher though!  I know I'm not her, but hopefully I'll bring my own nuances to the practice.

I hope I'll be picked up for more subbing in the fall and winter, I think that the more I do it, the better I"ll get, the easier it will be for me to create sequences and provide a good range of practices for all people.

I'm also preparing the art/yoga curriculum.  Hopefully we'll bring it into the final stages this week and will have it all ready to try out in a couple weeks.  We start the after school program at my school on September 11th, and run it for 8 weeks.  Then we'll take a break for the holidays and come back and do another 8 weeks session in the spring.    I'll probably teach on my own too, but probably not until the spring.  My time through December is thoroughly booked with other things.  Once I get my re- certification for my teaching license out of the way, I'll have more time-- in general...

I hope everyone is having a relaxing Sunday out there!  If you want to do one thing to relax yourself before going to bed.  Take your legs up the wall.  It calms the nervous system!  Seriously:

1.  Sit with the left or right hip next to the wall
2.  Carefully lower your torso down to the floor
3.  Bring your legs  up the the wall so you are making an "L" shape with your body. You're looking up at your feet.
4.  Arms relax beside the body, breathe deeply.
5.  Stay there as long as you like.
6.  Coming down bend your knees and roll to the side.
7.  Come back to a seated position slowly.

Friday, August 24, 2012

So glad it's Friday

It's been a week.  A busy one.  Still getting back into the swing of things, but not quite there yet.  Hopefully I can get into a groove soon.  This year just seems like it's going to take a bit longer.

I think one of the reasons I might feel this way is because of where I work.  It's a stressful place, obviously.  There are loads of personalities to deal with, tons of passive aggressive behaviors, endless interruptions, lots of sounds all the time.  And that's not even pertaining to the students.

I need an imaginary suit of armor to work there.  Some days it seems to go by a little bit easier, but most days it's a challenge not to want to let out a primal scream (imagine how the kids feel).   In the past I definitely felt like I had armor.  I was more likely to let the behaviors slide off my backs and just not take it personally.  Now, I'm having a harder time with that.

It's a shame.  I guess I'm slowly building up my work armor, but it's not quite there yet.

In other news, my students made their first pieces of art this week.  I'll post them this weekend.  That is certainly a positive, and I KNOW they feel good about what they've done.  It was challenging, and it turned out pretty good!

Next week we have a bunch of district stuff to do, so I really won't be seeing any of the kids in class until September 4th.  Strange how we start and stop, start and stop in August.  If we're trying set up consistency, why are we doing that to our kids?

Humm... just another question that we'll keep asking.

Happy Friday EVERYONE!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012


Conferences are usually good, in my opinion.  At least the ones that I've been to.  I usually attend art ones, so that may be a reason.  However, this past week I was required to attend a conference for State Operated Programs in Education.  It was actually really good, exciting, and hey-- I actually learned something.  The theme of the conference particularly had to do with brain research.  And I had never really even taken a class on the brain.  Yeah, I've taken tons of undergrad and graduate classes in psychology, but this was different.

One of my favorite topics of the conference was "The Brain and Trauma".  I knew a little bit about the research from my own reading, but I had never been introduced to it quite like the presenter.  Obviously its a serious topic, especially for anyone who works with incarcerated youth -- or any youth for that matter.  Or any one who comes into contact with PEOPLE!

One of the most horrifying statistics I learned was that it only takes 10 minutes of stress for 5 days to alter your physical brain.  Our brain stops making neurons when were still babies, basically, but our brain continually makes dendrites to get information to the neurons.  Stress or trauma makes the dendrites shrink so you can't pass information along.  The one thing I did learn however, is that dendrites can reemerge, they can grow.  So if stress and trauma are handled, we're all good.

However, that's not what happens in the D-home.  If anything, stress is recreated and re-traumatizes my students regularly.  Not that all kids are, but there is a difference between giving a kid a direction as opposed to yelling it at them, or being passive aggressive.  Or leaving them in their room for 24 hours, or not dealing with any issues they may have.

Do you realize there is not one psychologist in the building?  There are 2 1/2 time counselors.  And they're doing what they can.  But they can't do it all, and they especially can't do anything if the kids are there for a few days, gone for the next month, and then returns for 30 more days.

So think about it, our goal for the education department is to be as consistent as possible, to give students a feeling of normalcy.  The detention part of it is thinks everything should be punitive.   How can these work together to let the child thrive, or not damage the kid even more?

I think we all need more training in this arena.   Of course teachers are trained to recognize abuse, and handle behavior modification in a way that doesn't alienate kids, but the detention staff isn't.  Some of their knowledge and background comes from "scared straight" tactics.  And "scared straight" has been proven that it DOES NOT WORK -- in fact, it creates more delinquency.

So what do we do?  We try to offer a more normal "school" environment, we suggest that units don't be combined because of the size (they were starting to combine students because one unit has 4 and the other has 9-- never mind that one group can barely speak English and needs a different kind of schooling completely).

It's a diservice, to not account for the child's background in any situation.  But why are most juvenile detention homes trying to recreate environments that prevent healing, skill building, and knowledge.  The kids have a right to as much as anyone to a stress free environment.   If we do that right, then we have the power to let change happen.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Another Monday

Just so you know, I'm not looking for this blog to be come pages full of rants.  I keep trying to find a theme for my blog, but I figure, it should just be about what is going on.  I'm not good at keeping 3 separate blogs.  Besides, it's not my job to blog.  I only get paid to teach art.

So what the heck am I teaching?  Well, I had a pretty successful week teaching art and yoga last week for enrichment.  Enrichment is a period of time at the d-home, where it's not school.  It's something else.  Our goal was to offer lessons in wellness, and how can they apply it to their own life.  Basically giving my students tools they can use on their own.  So I thought.

It was my idea, and I encouraged everyone to be aware of the different problems that our teens face in particular:  drugs, sleep deprivation, sex, obesity, and stress.  That's a lot of different things, and of course I didn't expect that math teacher to talk about sex, but those issues are what out students are most concerned about in their daily life.

It didn't really happen like that.  We all kind of teamed up with another teacher.  Some classes showed an awful lot of videos... That to me, totally missed the point.  No matter what you wanted your theme to be, the point was to get the kids to be active.  DO something.

So next time, if there is a next time, I will remember to put down active learning as a goal for the enrichment program.  Meaning:  if you have to show a video, please don't use up the whole class for it.

My part of the program was pretty good.  It was thoughtful, definitely active, and left some kids asking me when could they do yoga again.  Mission accomplished.

Despite all the interruptions, I think it did end up having a positive effect on many of the students.

So now, there is no more enrichment.  We are our on our way to a State Operated Programs conference about 4 1/2 hours away.  I leave tomorrow.  It's weird that we'll have this hiccup in the enrichment program, but I guess that's what we'll have to.

At the conference, I'm thinking all that's really going to happen is that we're going to get spoken too.  I mean, I think there will be a few moments where we'll break down into our curriculum areas, but mostly there will be speakers.  Which I have to say, seems kind of wasteful.  Oh well.....what can you do?

In the mean time, the kids will do nothing, watch tv, play cards, sit, sleep, and go to the gym for an hour.  What a way to waste a day.  I mean, if I were in charge (and I won't ever be), I'd have those kids so busy with stuff to do on their down time, it would make them wish for school.  But no, idle time.  Lots of it.

In the mean time, I guess we'll find out soon if we have a principal or not.  I don't think we do, but I don't know for sure.  We were supposed to find out by last Wednesday.  I don't actually think we need one, to be quite honest.  However, we do need someone, who's job it could be to advocate for us.  Because, if we don't have that, i think the D-home people will make out lives miserable.

Always look on the bright side of life, right???

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Ahh, Sundays...

I love Sunday mornings.  I can hear the coffee brewing (not for me, but for my husband), the tea kettle warming up, and Lhotse waiting ever so patiently for pancakes.  It's a nice way to start a sunny Sunday.    Then it's off to do some yard work before it gets too hot.  (But I gotta tell you, I'm not really looking forward to that.)

Hope you're having a great day wherever you are!

Saturday, August 11, 2012


Friday morning I go to work, prepare the room and myself so I can do a small meditation session with each of my classes.  They're up for it, I've been preparing them all week so they could be able to sit for at least 7 or 8 minutes without talking or moving, and focusing on their breath.

I explain the concept and what we do, and everyone was ready to go.  So I turn out the lights, and we begin.  - Find a comfortable seat, relax your body, feel your breath...all that.  Close your eyes and just notice.   Notice the sounds, notice the temperature.... good... all that is happening.

No one is laughing, shifting, making sounds. It's going well.  Then about 6 minutes in (which can seem like a really long time if you're meditating or a teenager, the FIRE ALARM goes off!

And I just think to myself - typical.  So very typical.  I almost start laughing, but I maintain composer.  The kids kind of just look at me like, "What's going on?"  So I tell them they have to line up, the staff tells them to line up, and they just go.  No talking, no attitude.

It works!  This is the best I'd ever seen any kids line up for a fire drill!.

The funny thing is, it just happened to interrupt meditation.  If it's not one thing, it's the other.

It was a challenge to do this with my students in all the classes.  Countless interruptions by adults coming in and out of my room.  DO YOU NOT SEE WHAT WE'RE DOING HERE?  I mean come on adults--- grow a brain?  It's like it's completely unfathomable that this would actually be good for you too!  I mean, I know they have to keep an eye on the kids, and be safe.  However, why are you trying to ruin the experience for the students?

It's the mentality that kids who are in correctional facilities don't have rights! They don't have a right to education, or knowledge.  They don't even realize that creative outlets, yoga, and meditation have a profound effect on the brain.  It has a huge effect on behavior, stress, and anger.  One of the things that I reminded the students about is that this is in their control.  They already feel like the lost control in many other ways.  But they have control of their bodies, their breath and their mind!

So, this week has been full of those little lessons.  And they're lessons to me too, because I've let myself get upset about some things that have happened in my classroom--- which wasn't student related.  It's a fact of where I work.  And it won't ever change.  I am constantly reminded that the D-home's job isn't to rehabilitate, care, or encourage.  It's too inflict consequences in a very irregular way.  It's a holding tank until they leave and come back again.

Until this attitude changes, our kids will gain nothing.

I guess what I worry about is that, I try to maintain consistency in everything.  I work really hard to make that happen in my classroom, but the truth is-- it doesn't happen.  And I have to let it go.  I can only show up and offer what I have to give, and hopefully, most days I can succeed in trying to give my students an environment where it is safe.  Safe to think, safe to create, and safe to let their guard down.

When that happens, it's the best day.

It's sad to say that our typical days are full of interruptions.  There is no way we can combat that.  However, if there are always going to be interruptions, can't we trying make them in more of a consistent respectful way?

Like knocking, or asking the teacher first... not just calling out.  "Johnson, we need Johnson, right now".    How about taking a little more time and saying at least,"  Excuse me, Ms. Fitz, we need to take Johnson."

Anyway, I'm hoping that this week has been my reintroduction into d-home life, and I'll be back to just letting it roll off my shoulders.  I have to remember that I can let it go.  Too bad that seems typical too.

Thursday, August 09, 2012

First full week back, not full.

Well, it's already started.  The first cancellation of part of a school day.  I didn't expect it to start this soon.   The detention center basically thinks that school is an inconvenience.  They cancelled the last hour of school today because they had to make a transport.  I'm sorry, but you couldn't have waited for one more class to be finished?  You couldn't have held on to that transport for one more stinking hour?  I mean where does that kid have to be?  Right?

It's one of those things I'm probably going to be keeping track of the rest of the year.  They have no consideration for what we do there as educators.  Yesterday 2 staff had personal "whispering" conversations in the back of my  classroom while I was trying to maintain a quiet environment for a yoga practice with 10 students.  And these aren't regular students.  They're already all over the place and it's hard to maintain their focus.  Instead, the students were constantly turning around to see what was going on between the 2 adults.  RIDICULOUS!

I was distracted, myself!  Every time I looked up I saw them whispering, I'm trying to give directions and demonstrate at the same time, and the kids are trying to listen to their whispers.. not me.

It's really a job that requires a lot of patience.  And I have a lot of it, but on the first week back it seems like patience is already on overload.  If this is already happening in the first 4 days, I predict that it will happen regularly throughout the year.

The only thing I can do is take deep breaths.  I can't control other adults and what they're told to do.  It's just a shape that no one but the educators seem to care about the education.

Ahhhh!!!!!! Primal Scream.

Wednesday, August 08, 2012

A chuckle for you today...

If you're following the Olympics this might make you laugh... especially if you had a day like mine.

Check it out.  She's just not impressed.

Full week back

Wow, am I tired.  Waking up at 5:45 am is not a normal thing to do.  And even though it happens regularly throughout most the year I still never get used to it.  Part of me likes waking up while the house is still very quiet.  I sit and eat my breakfast, drink some tea and check things on the computer.  It's a really very quiet time.  All I can hear is the hum of a fan, some crickets, and my fingers typing on the keypad.

But- I'm still tired.

It's been a good week back to far at the D-home.  It's "enrichment" week, which mean it's not "real" school.  We have 4 classes that are each an hour long, and we decided on a theme to teach from.  It was my job to basically pick the theme:  wellness.  The tag is "Mind, Body, Character".  Of course that works for me pretty well, since I'm doing 5 days of art/yoga with kids.  The rest of the teachers, well, I'm not really sure what they're doing.

For some reason they had a hard time with the topic.  2 teachers get to team up, and decide what they wanted to teach with the theme.  I felt like it was a pretty open theme, I mean I can think of something in every subject can relate.  I even gave them sub topics for each subject area (English, Social Studies, Science, Math, and PE).  We'll see. It's supposed to be fun, engaging, and way for students to interact in a different way.  To feel active in their learning, because most of the teachers here, teach in a very old fashioned way.  Plus, students are limited.  They're not really allowed to get up, use dynamic group setups, etc...

My classes are going well.  Monday we did a little introduction to yoga and a self-portrait collage with positive adjectives.  Kind of like a "who am I project".  They haven't finished the collages yet, but hopefully they'll get a chance to finish them today.  Yesterday they did a Kundalini style yoga practice, but we stopped after each particular exercise to mark down sensations we felt on an outline picture (they're turned out interestingly, I'll post pics later).  Today we're doing a full vinyasa flow which is sure to make kids sweat a little... and tomorrow we'll restore with some gentle yoga.  Friday we'll do a short meditation and a mandala art project.

It makes me want to teach like this all year long.  I think they would benefit so much from yoga and art on a regular basis.  My friend and I still plan to have our after school sessions this year, but that's only once a week, with one group for 6 weeks.  For it to be truly beneficial, I feel like it needs to be at least twice a week - on going for the whole year.

But, you do what you can.  I'm tired from this week so far, and it's only Wednesday.  I've done small practices at home, but haven't made it to the studio yet this week. I'm going to try and go today.  It's definitely hard to maintain your practice when you have to teach.  Of course I already know this from teaching art!  It's the same thing.... If you teach what you love, I think sometimes, your personal exploration of that subject takes a back seat.  It's tough to balance it.  At least for me, it is.

On another note, I'm just about finished reading David Byrne's book... There was a nice little portion about art last night in the book.  He went to look at "outsider" art in San Francisco, and that sparked a debate in his mind about who decides what is outsider art?  And is it more authentic or not, then a trained artist?  And why is there a separation?  And most professional artists concern with making art that talks about the art world, while outsider artists create art that is more emotional, and deals more with exactly what is going on with them in their own world view.  Why is the value of outsider art driven down from that of professional artists?  All good questions.  There is an art museum dedicated to untrained artists in Baltimore, it's called the Visionary Art Museum.  I haven't been yet, but it's one of the places I really need to go.  I heard it's absolutely amazing, and maybe it would help me answer these questions....

Alright.  I gotta get going, must prepare myself to teach 4 Vinyasa classes in a row.  I don't know if my shoulders are prepared for that!

Saturday, August 04, 2012

Go Serena!...and 4th place medals

Just saw Serena Williams crush Maria Sharpova in the tennis gold medal match.  It was amazing.  She played so well.  I hadn't seen her play so well in the last two years, I was kind of shocked.  I'm happy when my favorites really get what they set out to accomplish.  Serena had been getting a bad rap lately. People saying she wasn't taking tennis so seriously..well take that!  She did seem rather emotional on the court when I've seen her play the last few times.  But this was amazing.  So much fun to watch her in a good match.  She makes it look so easy.

OK-- so here's the next thing.  Last night I was listening to the radio, NPR.  They had a story about a British guy who's having medals made for the athletes that come in 4th place in the Olympics.  He doesn't make them for all 4th place finishers.  But picks people that he thinks should have gotten a medal.  Then he wraps them up and sends them to the Olympic Village.  He doesn't expect anything back, and he is doing it out of complete kindness and recognizing the athlete.  He realizes that some athletes may take offense to it, but he also realizes that some who get it may very well appreciate it.  Here's a link to this really cool story...  Love his accent.  And I do LOVE his sincerity.

Friday, August 03, 2012

Oh yeah, we went to the zoo.

And I still don't like them.

I went because my husband begged me to go.  It's free to go here, so I caved in.  He wanted to go see the new cheetah cubs that were born.  He assured me of their cuteness.  However, we got there, and they're only for viewing certain hours.  But we decided to walk around anyway. It wasn't sooooo hot.

But I really dislike zoos.  I just don't.  If I ever have kids, I'll probably take them, because there are these amazing beings that you can see.  It's just not their own habitat.  It drives me crazy to see the elephants, lions, monkeys, and pretty much everything else confined to these extremely small spaces.  There is no roaming, there is not climbing, there is not catching ones own food.

At least this zoo has come a long way.  And I'm taking about the National Zoo.  It's been on one of the worst lists in many times in the past, which was one of the reasons why I refused to go.  It is better.

So I snapped a few pictures while we were there.  I meant to bring my zoom lens, but forgot it.

Little Sloth Bear...he wouldn't come closer.

Wake up sleepy head!

Otters are probably the cutest animal ever, I saw a bunch of them in the sea when I was in Alaska a few years ago.

Having a snack.

Not really much space to roam for this elephant.

But I think they're taking good care of them.

Little Red Panda, taking a nap in the heat of the day, behind glass.

Check it out, my hand.  These guys use the hole in the wall to go in between rooms, giving them a little more room to move and play.

Two little guys taking a nap together.

This little guy was so lonely, they had to give him a stuffed friend. 

Meerkat taking in the rays.

Beautiful blooming lotus.

Taking in an afternoon snack of rabbit.

Ok here's the story.  Big lion guy over there walked away from the food.  Little lion guy getting some snack for himself.

Big kitty roars at little guy, and comes back to hover over the food, but not eating any.  He stays there guarding the morsels for a few minutes.  Pacing back and forth.

Big kitty walks away, turns his back, and little lion checks to see if it'll be ok for him to get some food.  Bug guy paces back and forth for a few minutes.  Little guy waits for the right moment.

Little guy goes for it.  Big guy observes.

Big guy observes VERY closely.....
It was interesting to watch the lions.  That was something I got to experience in Tanzania.  There is a clear pecking order, even in a zoo, where a lion doesn't even have to hunt.

I really hadn't been to this zoo since 1996.  Or any zoo for that matter.  I do think I'll be going to another zoo for a while.  I'm glad it wasn't as bad as I remembered.   It does make you think about how important it is to preserve the land that these animals actually live on.  Their real habitats cannot be substituted for these fabricated areas.  Every living being needs to live in the environment that is suitable for them.  I realize that over thousands of years animals have adapted to the variance in the environment (dinosaurs = birds).  However, the environmental changes that have occurred over generations of humans inhabiting the world have been caused by us.  We are the ones destroying the rain forests, creating roads that go through the Serengeti, poaching animals, drilling for oil, and driving automobiles, genetically altering and producing food out of want, not need.

I don't mean to get on my soap box, to some-- a zoo is just a zoo.  You get to see things you wouldn't normally see, it's an educational experience. It is that.  But, it's also a wake up call.  This may be the only way to see some animals until they all disappear.

And it's already begun

217 more work days to go for the the next summer break!  Wow, that sounds like a really long time.  It's kind of already intense at work, and yesterday was a just a teacher work day.  People already getting up in arms about the little things.  Just take a deep breath.  Really.

I hope this isn't what is to come for the rest of the year.  The stares, the eye rolls, the random banter that keeps people doing what they actually should be doing.  Oh and lets not forget about the detention staff who don't like us having school in the d-home because they hate doing transitions.  I mean really?  Hey staff, you do realize that education DOES make a difference in the lives of kids, right?

Seriously, it's like that, and that's the way it is (run DMC).

It's a place of no change what's so ever, I have to remember to be thankful for the little ones that come into my life.  Be it the girl who shows me pictures of her little baby, or a kid who loves to create.  It happens, but even in smaller increments.

As for the school staff, we're holding it down.  Except for a couple of them.  Did I mention the secretary already lost it in front of all of us yesterday?  Pounding her fist into her hand over and over again, as she said,"  I don't cause problems, I just try and fix them."  Umm... well...

So today is another day, I'm gearing up to teach yoga and art next week.  It's not "real school" (what I said to a student yesterday), it's "enrichment".  Our theme is wellness.  So I'm going to do yoga, meditation, and art.  They like it, however, we have a whole host of new students that weren't there last month, and I'll have to go slowly.  So tomorrow we'll spend some time on rules and creating a safe environment.  Some of theses kids might get silly, and I don't want that to be the cause of some problems for some individuals.  So we'll be taking it slow.  Especially since I don't know some of these kids.

It doesn't really feel like a Friday, truth be told, so I'm happy that tomorrow will really be the weekend. Yesterday I already made it to bed early, and could barely keep my eyes open to read a little bit.

Oh well, one day down!  Many many more months to to.

Thursday, August 02, 2012


It's time to go back.

It's hard to wake up.

Back to work.

Back to the crazy scheduled weeks.  Week after week.

Summer is over.


(yep, I'm a little depressed, and grumpy)

Monday, July 30, 2012


This year the Olympics are taking place in London.  What an amazing city that is!  Haven't been there since I was in high school, but always dream that someday I'll go back to visit.  I was really looking forward to watching the Olympics this year, because I avoided watching them the last time.  I had a real problem with Beijing being the host city.  Not that this year isn't controversial, especially since the uniforms that our US Olympians are wearing were made in China! COME ON AMERICA, get it together!  I was so disappointed when I heard that, it made me want to avoid the games again.

But I didn't.  I watched the opening ceremonies, and a few events.  I have some opinions about some of the things, and I don't want to get too negative.  After all, to me, the Olympics really are about coming together, putting your best foot forward, and really kind of celebrating humanity!  I mean, right???  Every time the Olympics come around I do really get excited.  There are some amazing human interest stories, the dedication to the training, and even the attitudes expressed by some of the athletes (I'm talking about you Michael Phelps!)  It's pretty amazing.

One thing that I always keep in the back of my mind, though, is how other countries view the Olympics.  If you watch the opening ceremonies, you seen all the countries parade through with a variety of clothing.  You see everything from the very sporty Italians to traditionally dressed Nepali people.  You see the scores of athletes that come from Europe and America, and then the countries that only have 2 people as a representation.  It's pretty amazing to see some of the African countries come in full traditional dress, draped in gold, but then see the Americans come in berets (umm....France?).

All in all I really wanted to like the opening ceremonies.  It was a dream of a British Hollywood director.  He definitely had a point of view, but it lacked some clarity.  I mean, he did tell a story, but it was sort of choppy and odd.  I mean there was a really scary giant baby, and all those health care workers, and then the very disjointed technology appreciation love story?  Umm--- what about GB's connection to the Olympics, or heck--- world domination???

And the music.  I love British music (at least what I thought was good British music).  I was not overly impressed by the music choice,  umm...."Firestarter"?  Really?  If you were going for anger and fast paced, why was there no punk???  I mean really.  Music was a huge part of the opening "play".  They were clearly going for a timeline in the music, but I thought they missed most of the 80's.  At least the good parts of the 80's.  But who am I? Not a famous director.  Just a simpleton Yank, really.

I am glad I watched.  I loved the torch.  I thought that was pretty amazing, the bike doves were cool.  And I did like the grass everywhere, I thought the coordination for the pastoral period into the industrial revolution was pretty cool.

I've been watching some of the events, and it doesn't really matter who I cheer for, I like seeing everyone.  It always amazes me to see people pushing their bodies to do so much.  It's incredible to see the twisting and turns of diving, the power and speed of swimming, and the strength and grace from the gymnasts.  It's really amazing (can I just say that over and over?).

I have given the Olympics a bad rap for many years, and I still feel a little uneasy about some parts of it (professionals playing in the Olympics - of course everyone does it now).  But all in all it is a story about the human spirit.  The way we deliver ourselves everyday to reach our own potential.  It's a great place to begin being inspired about new things in your own life.  Whether you watch them to just see who's the best, watch for the stories, or look with amazement as someone completes an event with a world record, it is something to behold.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Is it Art?

Fair warning this link contains images of an artist who uses animals in her artwork.  It was disturbing to me, but it makes for a good discussion about the moral value art carries, and is it art?  Is it ethical?  You decide.  I have my superficial opinions about this type of art, not practicing it myself.  I don't know a lot about this artist, I've looked on her website and read this article.  It brings up a lot of interesting questions.

I am a vegetarian, who leans towards veganism.  However, I am not an activist.  I try to follow what I believe it good for me, and try to just do my best to make changes to my own life.  I don't persecute people for wearing leather, sitting on leather, or eating meat.  I have my opinions, I do own shoes made from animals skins, and I eat cheese.

So look at this with whatever perspective you like.  Activist?  Artist?  Innocent bystander?  What do you think???

Here is the New York Times article.

It's all subjective... but I do believe that it is the responsibility of artists ( as with any other profession) to act and create with regard to the value of life.

Practicing Yoga Teacher!!!

Well, it's official, I will be working at the Radiance Yoga studio as a sub for Gentle and Yin yoga classes.  I'm really excited to begin this phase.  It's a little nerve-wracking because I know that there is a lot I still need to study up on and get comfortable with before I can teach many things.

Everything seems to have gone really well yesterday.  There were about 10 people there and everyone had a smile on their face, and looked like they were relaxed as they were packing up and moving around.  The owner of the studio even said to me, "I'd definitely take that class again!"  What a compliment.

So, I know there are things to work on, sometimes I get stuck with my words.  Even though I'm a teacher, I'm not used to speaking and directing and demonstrating for a full hour.  I usually do my demo and instruction in the beginning of class, and then go around for the rest of the class giving personal attention.

It's hard.  I think I said the word "nice" a lot.  And I forgot to tell the students I wasn't mirroring them.  And I also could have phrased a few things differently.  Choosing words carefully is key, because I don't want to make anyone feel that they can't do something, or make them feel like the should be doing something.

On a positive note, I think I paced the class well, made some really good sequences, and reminded the students throughout the class that this was their practice.  I know it will get easier as it goes a long.  I have a long way too go....  But I'm really excited, a year ago I didn't think I would be doing this!  I even said, "  I won't ever teach in a studio"...probably out of fear and inexperience.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Yoga audition: tomorrow

Tomorrow is the day I audition for Radiance Yoga, the studio I attend almost every day.  I'm excited but nervous.  I think I can handle the instruction and the demonstration... It's just the speaking.  I can be very soft spoken sometimes, and I hope I can find it somewhere in me to project my voice, but still in a soothing way.  When I get nervous the voice seems to just disappear.

My sequence is going to be a a gentle flow with a yin influence.  I've come into contact with yin yoga just this past year and I love it.  It's not the usual type of flow class where you are linking a lot of movements together at a certain pace.  That is actually a yang practice, where you are building heat in the body.  Yin yoga is a "cooling" yoga.  Each pose is held for a significant amount of time, and the goal is to let the body surrender to the pose.  For example, staying in child's pose for 3 minutes.   Yin is an amazing practice that helps me balance out the rest of the week.  This style works on the fascia muscles or connective tissue.  So it actually helps circulation a lot and promote growth.  Also energetically it can release blockages.  Many times during this style of practice a lot has come up for me... being uncomfortable, but then being with that feeling and trying to lean in to it, to let it go.

I know lots of yoga stuff there.  Yin is also based in Taoism and Chinese medicine.  The focus is that the body is constantly producing new cells that are replacing old cells,  so this kind of yoga basically focuses on the fact that healing and improvement is always possible for the mind and body.

Almost all the postures take place in the lower part of the body.  That is usually where we hold all the tension right?  All from sitting!!!  Yeah, before taking this class I had no idea how bad it was to sit.  Now I try to stand all the time, or sit on the floor where I can stretch.  But sitting actually tightens up everything in the hips and legs.

So tomorrow I'm working a lot on the lower body.  We'll be doing a lot of "cooling" poses like child's pose and some inversions, but I'm also going to do a lower back sequence (for slight compression), hip series (using the number 4 stretch), and closing it out with a supported bridge series.

I hope I can remember all that!

Here's the list of poses, if you want to try at home:

Releasing Lower Back Tension to Find Ease (really most of these poses could be done by themselves to release the back- especially child's, spinal twists, happy baby, and bridge poses)

Sukasana (comfortable seat)
Hand and wrist circles
Arms overhead stretch (fingers interlaced)
Side stretch over head
Spinal Twists
Child's pose
Table pose
Thread the needle
Anahatasana (melting heart)
Sphinx/Seal pose
Forward Savasana (relaxation)
Child's pose
Knees to chest
1/2 happy baby (both sides)
Number 4 stretch
Intense #4
#4 twist
Legs up to sky (point flex feet, roll the ankles)
Full Happy baby
Pelvic tilts
Supported bridge
Supported bridge each leg extended
Supported shoulder stand on block
Windshield wiper legs
Knees to chest
Supine twists


Tuesday, July 24, 2012

New classes

Wow, I just signed up for two graduate painting classes for the small semester.  One is just called "painting" and the other is "mixed media and painting".  So excited to get going on this.  I know that this is what I need to start making art again.  I feel like it's been hard to even sit down and start something, or stand in front of the easel.  Then when I finally DO sit down, it's a mess.  I have tons of ideas swirling around in my head, but keep finding lots of excuses not to try them out.

It's true, I'm pretty hard on myself when it comes to making art.  I start and stop all the time, and even destroy many of the things I try to make.  So I'm going to give it a try.

Today is actually the first day, my entire summer vacation month, that I've sat to create.  The classes will give me a reason to get down and get busy... I have to-- I'm paying for the classes and need those classes to keep my teaching certification.

Yep.  Sounds like good motivation.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Quick Art Trip to Pittsburgh

So what a whirlwind that was. I think I'm still recovering from all the driving.  It was worth it though.  Not only was it nice to be away from the DC area once more, it was nice to see some much needed green space a long the way.  Pennsylvania basically has 2 cities:  Pittsburgh and Philadelphia.  Everything else in between in farm land.  That's why my family and I generally refer to PA as Pennsyltucky.  I mean, it is, really.

That being said, Pittsburgh definitely has a different culture than Philadelphia, and is influenced a lot by it's history.  Obviously Pittsburgh is one of those cities that has seen money come and go.  And you never forget that.  On this trip I really noticed the stages of the city.  It was very vibrant in some places, while others were clearly still working class and struggling.  I saw many boarded up homes and places of businesses, but then I also saw the commercialism for Shady side (once you got a gap, you know it's over).  But I also saw great many homes being rejuvenated.  Things have changed, and some things stay the same.

One thing that I had forgotten about was the elite society.  I guess you could call them the "founding" families:  Heinz, Mellon, Carnegie, Westinghouse... to name a few.  Well you can tell that it exists. For instance, Friday night we made it over to Shadyside for some dinner.  There were a couple of places we wanted to check out for dinner.  So we made it to the restaurant, and it was nice.  I mean, I don't think we were really under dressed.  I was wearing a sundress, and my friends looked fine.  We were also a little earlier than usual for dinner out.  The first question they asked was if we had a reservation.. umm no.  And besides, it was Thursday.  So they offer us a seat outside.  Meanwhile, we're looking around and the place is completely empty.  Maybe you do need a reservation?  So we go up, and we actually have a perfectly nice experience.  The waitstaff was friendly, although they got my order wrong.  The food was good, and the cocktail superb.  So we finish up and on the way down I notice that this crowed IS dressed up.  I am actually in shock.  Not just a nicely, but like button down shirts, dress pants, strapless shiny dresses.  And then it hits me, there are people with money in this town, and they do like to let you know it.

I'm also reminded of the first week in college, when girls were showing me pictures of their debutante balls!  WHAT?  Debutante?  Oh wow...  There is a certain elitism in Pittsburgh, but if you look past all that, there is a genuine city.  These families do all sorts of things to give back to Pittsburgh, whether it's through the arts or schools.  One thing that Pittsburgh is not short on, is art.  And it takes money to make that happen.

This was an art trip after all, so let me show you some of the pictures.  We went to the Mattress Factory and the Andy Warhol Museum.  We also spotted some other art along the way.

We stayed at a strange bed and breakfast.  On the outside, it appeared to be a grand old house, but on the inside it was littered with dingy antiques, that might not have even belonged to the house.  It was clean - sort of, and the bed was ok.  The funniest thing about it was that this bed and breakfast had you make your own breakfast.  It was not good.  Pre-measured pancake mix (not homemade), grocery store pastries, old hard boiled eggs, and some slimy fruit.  Not even fresh brewed coffee, but instant.  Yep, not what I think of when I think bed and breakfast.  The guy was nice, but charged an awful lot for not a great experience.  Still the neighborhood was convenient, and I guess that is what we were paying for.

If you didn't stop at Breezewood, this would be your next best bet off the PA turnpike.  As you can see by the sign!

It's your Western PA diner chain.  With smiles!


Who can resist all these smiles?

Oakland, The Cathedral of Learning, Pitt Campus. 

Cathedral of learning, Pitt Campus

Scary mask next to our bed at the B and B.  At least there were no dead animals, that was the room our other friend stayed in.

Very rainy day before we head out to Mattress Factory.

Mattress Factory installation.  Everything covered in terry cloth, animals, paddles,  bath mats, and other things.

Mattress Factory installation.  Umm, lots of creepy busts.  Drugs, religion, illness, addiction, skeletons, wasting away, rock and roll.  This installation was set up as if you were looking into someone's front living room off the sidewalk.

The neon dot room.  pretty cool

Vicki striking a picture taking pose.  Sorry for the blur.

Here I am!

The Orange dot room with some orange dotted ladies!

Vicki getting a little fresh with the ladies.

One more.

Books stuck in plexiglass

Pittsburgh from the MF

Red.  Permanent collection at MF

Hanging newspaper from one side at the MF

Little piece that scratches on the wall, connected below, uses morse code??? 

Nature on the inside.

Balloon room, add a wish to the ribbon.  Some deflated.

Mirrored wall? nope.

Rope room.  3 circles of room with a speaker in each center, breaks up the orchestral music to here each section distinctively. I liked this one a lot.  

Cut out circles around the room.  Drywall layers.

The flood room.

I love the facade of this building.  All the different brick patterns.  It's almost like seeing inside a doll house.  

Suspended wood  sculpture.

Side of the Mattress Factory, love the green ivy.

Down the street from the Mattress Factory some people paint the exteriors of the houses with messages and murals.  Some are poems. 

Shadyside homes.  Beautiful.

Pittsburgh is a city of bridges.  They're surrounded by 3 rivers, and this is just one of their bridges.  Right next too the Andy Warhol Museum. 

We weren't allowed to take pictures on any of the floors except the first one.  So here are a few from the first floor exhibit.  This is Andy!

Making his mark with POP art.  Celebrating American treasures of consumerism and fame.

It's true, after I left his museum, I started seeing everything how he might of seen things.  What would he be doing today if he were still alive?  

Painting from his school days.

On the first floor, just loved this origami inspired pattern piece.  Not, Andy Warhol...I forget who.

Being silly.

Pittsburgh, and a full bottle of heinz.  The bottle empties and then refills.  Love that sign.

Nice mural on our way to the Strip District. To see a special exhibit Factory Direct, sponsored by the Warhol Museum and local industry.

Walking to the Warhol museum.

Art under the over pass.

Sneak shot at the Warhol balloon room.  Shhhh... don't tell.

Just like being home!  This wall paper cracks me up on so many levels.

Stop in Somerset, PA, off the turnpike.  On our way home.  Had totally forgotten that this little town was made famous by the incidents of 9/11.  

Coke! It's everywhere.  The funny thing, they didn't serve coke products.  They had pepsi products. 

A really nice diner, highly recommend stopping here if you need a break somewhere along your journey across PA.  Friendly service, hot food, and play free songs off their juke box!

Home is that way.

Ok, so I'm a little out of order.  The next few photos are from the Factory Direct Show. I really wanted these parts to move!

Ok, so this artist, ORLAN, came to the Warhol museum to measure the length of the museum with her body.  You can see the video of it at the Warhol, and then come here to see this and her white dress.

The dress.

Really beautiful space for the show, who would have thought it was above a self-storage warehouse.  

You can buy one of these rubber objects for $100.  They kind of look like a top of a plunger.

Ketchup multiples from around the world!

Beautiful reflective multiples of female nudes in various positions.  

Newspaper multiples.

You can make your own!

Ok, back to Somerset.  Why an elephant?? Well, apparently they rescue elephants not far from here.  Although, I read that they try to mate them. Not sure how I feel about having elephants mate in captivity, how would they ever be released into the African wild.  I totally think it's great to take care of an animal until their death, but I don't think it's a great idea to increase the elephant population in this way.  Still love elephants.

The diner.

Yep, I do believe Andy would have approved of this picture.

I would love to see more wind power in more places... Just my little two cents.
Well, I'm sure your eyes are full.  I know I needed a day or two to recoup from my day trip.  One more week of summer break, so I'm going to go off and try to enjoy my last week of freedom.