Sunday, August 31, 2008

All You Need is Love

Married September 1, 1973

It's been an interesting far. Happy 35th Anniversary, Tim!

Monday, August 25, 2008

Have a Fair Day!

Last week my husband and I visited the Washington County (NY) Fair. Although we don't reside within its boundaries, the district where I teach is located in this county, and many of our students participate in 4-H activities showcased at the Fair.

I went expecting rides, food, machinery, and farm animals. What I found was the perfect cross-curricular learning experience.

Every aspect of our state curriculum was covered, from social studies and science to math and ELA. Children were able to view exhibits about ecology, native and exotic animal species, recycling, fire safety, and healthful eating. There were things to touch, explore, test, and examine.

My biggest and best discovery was made in, of all places, the Swine exhibition area! I walked past a few stalls, then did a double-take and doubled back. One corner of the barn contained pigs named after book characters: Amanda, Babe, Olivia, Otis, Pancake. Book covers and related objects decorated the back walls. I got closer and saw the names of the children who had orchestrated this "literature into life" display: they are my students.

The topmost sign said: "Reading can take you anywhere."

It was, indeed, a Fair day.

The entire Washington County Fair set can be found here.

Saturday, August 16, 2008


"I feel a need to pull back from the tools, and gravitate more toward meaning when I write." -Clay Burell, Web Legacies Wrap-Up, 9 Aug 2008

I began my blog in June, 2007, intending it to serve primarily as an online professional journal. Since that tentative and hopeful beginning, I've evolved, and so has Journeys.

While educational issues, like filtering, student blogging, and cyber safety still occupy my thoughts, my writing now is more likely to reflect the life I've lived and the person I'm becoming.

Technology is no longer an add-on. Social networking and other connective tools have helped to forge ties that defy categories: in many cases, my virtual colleagues have become true friends. Tools Not the focus but the facilitators.

Both my husband and I are moving towards retirement. All the polished pieces and jagged shards of our experiences are shifting into new patterns, presenting us with choices that we never could have anticipated even a few years ago.

The world is changing, we are changing. The past will continue to influence but not dictate our futures. Hippies and cowboys, poetry and paintings, family and friends will all contribute to our kaleidoscope's colorful compositions.

Friday, August 15, 2008

What type of Gnome are you?

And on a lighter note...have you ever wondered what type of gnome you are?

This little quiz will help you find your inner sprite or goblin.

Image generated by Cameroid

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Invisibility: Variations on a Theme

"I am invisible, understand, simply because people refuse to see me." -Ralph Ellison

I frequently find inspiration in the blogs and updates of my online community. Occasionally a phrase or motif emerges, recurs, expands, evolves.

Clay Burell recently posted a series of "Culture Clips," including one on Stereotypes. He wondered:
"Am I the only person who has noticed how easy, perhaps even normal, it is for us to travel or live in other countries—and never see them? Or worse yet, to confirm in our travels our stereotypes of the places we visit, because . . . those stereotypes were what we looked for in the surface culture in the first place?"

Then in Twitter, Paul Allison mentioned attending a performance of Hair, a musical I loved in the '60s. One of the main characters, Claude, repeatedly declares his desire to become invisible, and in the final act of the play, his inability to take decisive action results in a symbolic death.

A school library media specialist is often the silent partner in learning. Traditionally, librarians have gathered and disbursed resources that enhance instruction, from books to films to websites. They have functioned as an invisible, indirect presence in the classroom.

In a world where walls are coming down and the parameters of learning are being redefined, invisibility may no longer be a choice. Rather than remain as unseen partners, is it time to for library professionals to assume a more prominent role as colleagues, collaborators, and co-teachers?

How would you describe the Visible Librarian?

"Invisible Man Sculpture, Harlem, NY" by Tony the Misfit

Thursday, August 7, 2008

All the Time in the World

I have written about Time before, as the poets have described it. Today, I'm after concrete suggestions, not imagery.

In three weeks, my husband will retire from his 30-year career in a corporate environment. He plans to devote more time to art, painting en plein air and building up his free-lance portrait business.

At the end of the 2008-09 school year, I will also retire from one position to pursue another, moving from teaching as a school librarian to facilitating online profession development workshops for educators.

Both of us will be home-based and setting our own schedules.

I know from my experiences as a stay-at-home mother and a 10-month school employee, that it's easy to get distracted, wander off task, waste time when the days seem to stretch ahead without (visible) limits.

So I'm asking for some help: how do those of you who are retired or work outside of a fixed calendar manage your time? Do you find it helpful to give yourself deadlines, plan an agenda, or block out activities by the day, week, or month?

I don't want to be chained to a clock or a desk, but I don't want to squander this wonderful gift of time either.

Your input is gratefully accepted.

"Life at any time can become difficult: life at any time can become easy. It all depends upon how one adjusts oneself to life." -Morarji Desai

"In Search of Lost Time" by bogenfreund

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Dancing Queen

"Kate Peters Dancing on Roof from Peters Family Collection, 1947" by

My daughter and I went to see the box-office hit Mamma Mia last night. The age of audience members ranged from young teens to senior citizens.

The plot was predictable, some of the singing was mediocre, but no one left early: we were all still seated after the closing credits had rolled, mesmerized by the compelling energy of the recreated ABBA hits.

When the original recording of Dancing Queen was released, in 1975, I was a young, childless wife. I am now an almost-retired wife, mother of two married children.

My world has changed significantly in many ways, but at certain times, particularly joyous occasions like weddings, I still feel the urge to step out on the floor and dance.

I'm not 17 anymore, but I hope I'll never lose the desire to run towards life and learning. As long as I can move, when the music starts playing, I know I'll still be a dancing queen.

"You can dance, you can jive, having the time of your life
See that girl, watch that scene, dig in the dancing queen" -ABBA, Dancing Queen (1975)

Sunday, August 3, 2008

The Alamo

"In the southern part of Texas, in the town of San Antone,
There's a fortress all in ruin that the weeds have overgrown.

You may look in vain for crosses and you'll never see a one,

But sometime between the setting and the rising of the sun,

You can hear a ghostly bugle as the men go marching by;

You can hear them as they answer to that roll c
all in the sky:
Colonel Travis, Davy Crockett and a hundred eighty
Captain Dickenson, Jim Bowie, present and accounted for."

-Marty Robbins,
Ballad of the Alamo

One of the most highlights of my trip to NECC this year was a visit to the Alamo.

As a child of the '50s and '60s, I grew up with some TV heroes. Most of them were cowboys, with one shining exception: Davy Crockett, King of the Wild Frontier.

I understand that the Disneyfied version of this real American was occasionally (O.K. mostly) short on historical accuracy, but my further reading and research on David Crockett never dislodged my affection for this icon of my youth.

My husband shares the same generation and the same sentiment. One of the most meaningful moments for him, of our vacation in California a few years ago, was a visit to the Fess Parker Vineyards, where he posed for a picture with the portrait of our childhood idol.

I realize that the story of the Alamo and the Texans' fight for independence from Mexico is a complicated one. But I found myself in tears as I stood in the old mission building that many people regard as a shrine.

To commemorate this visit, my husband created a painting for me. It is one of my chiefest treasures and dearest mementos of San Antonio.

" In the southern part of Texas, near the town of San Antone,
Like a statue on his Pinto rides a cowboy all alone.
And he sees the cattle grazin' where a century before,
Santa Anna's guns were blazin' and the cannons used to roar.

And his eyes turn sort of misty, and his heart begins to glow,

And he takes his hat off slowly to the men of Alamo.

To the thirteen days of glory at the siege of Alamo."

-Marty Robbins,
Ballad of the Alamo

"Sunset" by Tim Cordell
"Davy Crockett Poster" from tvparty
"Line in the Sand" by dmcordell

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Creatures Great and Small

"All things bright and beautiful,
All creatures great and small..."
-Cecil F. Alexander, Hymns for Little Children

Muscle and mane, speed and power: thoroughbred horses.

Whir of wings, darting grace: hummingbirds.

Gleaming coat and jeweled throat,

Swift and shining, motion's glory...

Horses and hummingbirds.

Photo sets:
A Day at the Races