I forgot to write an entry for today because I was totally immersed in preparing a teaching job – of five-to-seven year olds. It’s a non-demoninational summer program at a local Presbyterian church, and I was substituting for another teacher, so only had to deal with these children for half a day. They were sweet children, but loud and exceedingly active. I decided to teach them how to write a story. I took “The Itsy Bitsy Spider” for my inspiration, a good choice because all the children knew the song. I challenged them into thinking what kind of spider it might be and why it wanted to climb up the water spout. I started them off by having them draw a picture of the spider, which they did enthusiastically. One boy named his spider “Death Spider” and colored it black with red horns, but the others chose less powerful names: Joe, Bitsy, Betty. After some discussion about whether or not bugs could taste good, they decided their spider wanted to get up to the roof, where there were more bugs to eat, and that’s why it started up the spout.
And that’s as far as we got with the story. We acted some of the action, rubbing our tummies in hunger, speculating whether the spider might eat worms (Ugh no!) when the bugs got scarce, struggling to climb the long, dark passage up the spout. We had only started to list the signs of a storm: darkening sky and the rumble of thunder, when we had to stop for a snack (cookies and string cheese), and then it was time to hit the rumpus room for ten minutes, and then learn some imaginative techniques for painting, before walking to a nearby park – and then the morning was ended, and I came home.
Whew! I couldn’t believe how hard it was to keep the attention of six youngsters, and these were good kids. But it was fun and gave me a refreshed appreciation for the job of teaching.
The Christmas stocking came back from the finisher and I’m still getting used to it. Without the surround of white canvas, it looks very dark. But the ornaments seem to float in the darkness. The beaded tassel at the toe needs a touch-up of added beads. I meant them to dribble off the toe and the dribblers got shortened when the finisher sewed the back onto the stocking – I was warned this would happen. So I’ve got just this tiny bit more to do and then it gets put away until August, when it goes to the State Fair to be judged. All I can see when I look at it now is its many shortcomings, and I’m tempted to withdraw. But I won’t. I think the judge’s commentary may be useful. After all, I’ve got another stocking to start working on.
And here’s the “other” stocking:
Tying the Knot is starting to speak to me, at last. Maybe it’s not a failure after all. I’ve found myself thinking about it, and even working on it here and there. Hurrah!
This past Saturday three of us went out in the noonday sun (a record breaker) to visit the Sculpture Garden in Minneapolis. I wanted to see a horse made of twigs and bark I’d first seen years ago and never forgotten. The artist made the bigger-than-lifesize piece and then cast the pieces in bronze and re-assembled it. Amazing and clever.
But I had a bad reaction to the heat and so didn’t go to the Memorial Day ceremony on Monday, as the temperature climbed to one hundred (breaking a record) and I feared another bad reaction. I’ve gone to that ceremony for several years, and found it very moving. Getting older is not always fun.
We – me, Elizabeth, Tanya, and Ellen – had an early-morning tea party Saturday. We got up at four-thirty am (!), and turned on our commercial-free public television channel to watch the wedding of Prince Harry and Rachel Meghan Markle. We dressed up for it, including hats We ate crumpets, which turned out to be amazingly like pancakes, and Scotch eggs, and drank good black English tea. What a beautiful ceremony! The English are brilliant at ceremony, especially Church of England services. The final blessing was the one given at my Episcopal wedding. “Let their love for one another be a seal upon their hearts, a mantle about their shoulders, and a crown upon their foreheads.” Beautiful.
Wow, it seems as if we’ve barely gotten over winter and last week I filled out the forms to enter my needlepoint Christmas stocking in the State Fair. It hasn’t come back from the finisher yet, but she’s very experienced and should do a great job. I’m going to enter it in the Senior arena – I’m more than eligible – and hope to do well competing with fewer entries.
Meanwhile, I’m working on a witch riding her broom across a full moon, and no surprise, it’s taking longer than I thought. Next, I’ll finally begin that magnificent but complex big Christmas stocking for Ellen.
Work on Tying the Knot has stalled again. I wonder if kick starting it might not include an actual kick, as in the pants!
Sunday evening I went with my sister-in-law and a new friend from Aquila Commons to a special event at my church. It was called “Opera Familiare,” and it presented famous arias from operas. Ten professional singers took part, accompanied by a baby grand. No mikes. I’m not a grand opera fan; in fact, I’ve never been to an actual grand opera. But almost every aria was familiar to me. The performers were all young, though I think their voices could be called “mature.” They sang arias from Magic Flute, Carmen, Marriage of Figaro, Madame Butterfly, and others. None of the sopranos had that painfully piercing voice that is one reason I don’t go to the opera. All were trimly built except one man, who was enormous. He also had the chest development you sometimes see in male opera singers, so his clothing fit him oddly. Then he started to sing, and you could feel the heart of everyone in the audience warming. His first number was “la donna Mobile” from Rigoletto, and it was gorgeous. Carmelita sang a brilliant version of “Summertime” from Porgy and Bess; Don sang “Ol Man River” from Showboat; we were assured they were American operas, which I had never thought of before. Just before intermission all of the singers came out to sing “va pensiero” (Chorus of the Slaves) from Nabucco by Verdi. Members of the audience were invited to join them in front of the altar; more than twenty people came up. We were told that when Verdi died, and his coffin was paraded through the streets of Milan, 300,000 citizens followed it, singing this aria, which had become practically Italy’s national anthem. What a touching story!
On Thursday members of the Northwest Coin Club are going to tour the Ninth District’s Federal Reserve Bank, headquartered in Minneapolis. I think I’ve heard about the Federal Reserve Bank almost all of my life, but I didn’t – and still don’t – understand what it is. That is, I’ve read about it, and recently looked up the Wikipedia entry on it, but I’m still not sure I know what it’s for or how it operates. It seems to be a private enterprise and at the same time a US Government entity. I’m hoping to come away from the tour with a better understanding.
As usual with Minnesota, we seem to be jumping directly from winter to summer. On Sunday, the temperature rose to 82 degrees – yet there are still protected corners of the Twin Cities where piles of snow lie. Tulips and daffodils are blooming and there are buds on the lilac bushes. Golden Dandelions dot the lawns. Yet north of here, the lakes are still iced over. I’m wearing shorts and a sweatshirt. Weird Minnesota