Gratitude List (Jan. 4, 2021)

PS-It has come to this.

cc. Covid!

cc. Oprah!

cc. Che, who knows me, and who has survived a few Hell holes, and death, and Covid.

I am grateful for God’s love for me.

I am thankful for my daughter playing ukulele and a family sing along.

I am grateful for Justice and Mercy….. mostly for Mercy, but, yeah.

I am grateful for health and the promise of preservation and the availability of the Moderna Vaccine very soon.

I am grateful for a good and abundant life. I am rich in blessings.

I am grateful for a few friends check ups, cheer ups and drop bus, and for the Faith and Art they share with me.

I am grateful for the peace, warmth and shelter of home, the farm, and a loving family.

I am grateful for adult children who are empathetic, have work ethic, wherewithall and make time (still) for Mom.

I’m grateful for young children (students, nephews and grandchildren) and for the joy and hope found in their smiles and laughter and art making and life living. They make teaching worth the journey.

I am thankful for old friends and new beginnings.

I am thankful for growth through trials, even as I sit in the seat of pain. There is the light of truth, hope, resolution, and lessons to be learned.

I am thankful for Nature in all its power, fury, beauty, wisdom and wonder. Again, and again, I am lost and found in the sky, field, mountain, stream, reservoir, in the birds, and bees, and beasts…in all I see and feel and breathe into being when I am outside Nature bathing.

Today, I am grateful for Wilson Bentley, the Snowflake man. His passion for Nature, for beauty, for science, photography and the Snowflake Art he gifted the world inspires me. Wow! Did he have focus!

I am grateful for paper art and for cutting paper snowflakes… the ones that turn out, and the oddball halfsies too. For process and product… whatever form it takes.

I am grateful for Paolo Coehelo’s The Alchemist. ( How to journey and not lose the oil from your spoon?) I think I need to read this, again.

I am grateful I am me and I am good enough.

I am grateful for sleep and healing. Can I go to bed now? 6:42 pm

And for waking to Chai tea and coffee and NPR and the drive.

And for Jon Foreman’s music.

Uh huh.

TAPS

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COVID TIMES: Entry 1 (Nov. 20th, 2020)

I/We have it better than many teachers across Utah and the USA. Still, Covid is quite nerve racking for me at times.

It was 22 degrees F this morning as I walked a quick mile around the football field counting my blessings. It’s usually just me and my thoughts amid freezing puffs of CO2. Today I kept count, while listening to a portion of an Audible (free) Podcast pertaining to Sleep Science…..or rather, some guy’s 50 year plight with sleep depravation, until I couldn’t hack it any more. I switched back to the biography of Jimmy Carter. I remember being a child in Texas, during Carter’s Presidency and my father not being a fan of his. Peanuts! I can’t understand so much of my father’s thinking and behavior. JC’s accomplishments are really remarkable.

It has been another week of inner turmoil for me at school. The prize goes to the kids and teachers, and many Staff, who are working so hard to make the in-person/remote learning work so families can survive these times..

It’s been 3 months of brick and mortar, and it infuriates me that some students, teachers and Administrators continue to openly defy and disobey the Governor’s mask mandate. A week ago, I was bullied in an audience of my peers by a librarian for my practice of social distancing.

Clearly, there has been a deficit of distancing and mask wearing in rural Coalville, Utah.

Fast forward to Tuesday, Nov. 17th: N. Summit High School closed for 2 weeks, and went to total remote learning, so great were the Covid cases among students and teachers there, with one teacher being hospitalized. The middle school and elementary remain open with a revolving Covid exposure quarantine door. The District has discovered how to play a Covid numbers game in favor of staying open and in person for the most part, no matter the risk to teachers and staff.

Frightening: Rumor has it many parents are not having their children tested when they present with symptoms and are sent home. Our district is tiny, and many families have children enrolled in multiple campuses. It stands to reason that it will only a matter of time before there are also confirmed Covid cases in our faculty. I noticed a 2nd grade teacher has been gone the last two days. We will not likely be informed of these cases and will have to rely on rumor mill. It is a fearful time and the situation is likely to ebb, flow, and peak, repeatedly, the entire school year and into next, as vaccines will not be available for some time.

The emotional toll on front line workers (now, also teachers) is physically and emotionally exhausting to the core and the workload increasing. The unknowns along with collective stress levels are exasperating. One may be 110 percent vigilant in precaution practice, mask wearing, hand washing, distancing and staying home, and there is still no guarantee of personal safety. The reach of Covid is silently, invisibly, and insidiously spreading….and just as quickly, some congregating dumb ass… some self-entitled, self-absorbed idiot is going to create the perfect storm of exposure, and I will unknowingly get caught in the shadow they cast.

This is what I know: Something bad has got to happen to just “the right person” in order to affect change. History has proven it time and time again.

I know people are worried about the economy. People are hurting. I get this. People need to work to live and to eat. Yes… But, what good is an economy of the people by the people and for the people, when the people are dead? If you, or your loved ones are dead? Dead is dead. Dead don’t buy goods and services. Amazon Prime ain’t going to deliver you a Resurrection. And dead don’t house and feed and teach your kids.

I’m a teacher. Yes. Im one of the few lucky ones that gets to live in Summit County, Utah. I have stable employment and the trust of parents in my community. I have the blessing of fairly good health. I have No mortgage. I just paid off a car. I’ve No debt and three level-headed, grown children. A quiet, peaceful, God fearing community. I’m surrounded by Nature. I am the beneficiary of countless blessings, but I am peerlessly cynical. When asked, “Where is your faith?” by one of my children, when I explained why I don’t attend church, I answered, “I trust God completely. It’s people that let me down.”

I have been on a quest for meaning for more than 10 years. Teaching has given me much, including experience and sometimes wisdom., I have experienced success and failure, felt heartbreak, and something like joy. I’ve made a few friends, and sometimes found purpose and satisfaction in working hard and doing my best. I’ve felt advocacy, generosity, a sense of community, and mentorship, as well as isolation and advasarial masogynistic dealings from those who would be called leaders.

Above all, I have found God lurking in the hallways, and slipping into my mind and heart. Mostly, God is in the children I teach. They embody courage, resilience, perseverance, love, and kindness. They are the light and hope of the world, that will see us through these dark days. I only hope I will have the eyes to see and the heart and strength to feel the good that continues to exist quietly in the margins, away from the noise of the media and another Covid school week. Thank God for so many hings, including Friday night at home.

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Here In the Garden

Sometimes I’m found

lost in the garden

wrestling a tangled snake of hoses

I rise anew

hands lifted to cirrus skies

from holy rooted baptisms of soil

Sigh…a silent knowing

Knowing I am almost never here alone

Here with sun and wind

are we

whole with warmth

watering down a pearly veil of Love

wrapped in a blanket of Harvest

I gaze into the great expanse of hills and farmlands

forgetting last night’s mountain Frost

the diamond strewn deer bones

the lacy panes and pumpkins

the braided blades of grass and sickled wheel lines

I tug a tangled mass of matted tops

Remembering Goodness comes from time and trial

If not from Frost, the carrot’s crunch would not be quite so sweet

nor Life’s best gifts embraced

or Nature’s little surprises seen and treasured

Drawn in four-box cleansing breaths

Again, again I’m lost and found

here in the garden

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Rolling a Royal Flush

Tonight, I’m sitting at home watching UEN tv and a World news program featuring Japanese engineering and tech.  It is so fascinating! Engineers such as Kuma Kenga, Tadao Ando, and others are being spotlighted. One engineer created accessible, nondiscriminatory public toilets with walls that change from transparent to opaque. With the turn of a door lock, special treated glass is activated. Once I understand how the science works, I think it will be fun to have kids create their own bathroom/ toilet designs. I love learning new things, making connections, and creating ideas for art projects!!!

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From the Mixed-up Files of 1st Grade Thinking

This week in the Art Room, elementary students have been learning the Art & Science of Salt. They viewed contemporary works of salt installation artist, Matoi Yamamoto, and then applied techniques similar to Yamamoto’s to create small scale salt drawings. At one critical point, I assessed background knowledge and asked 1st grade students where they thought salt comes from. One youngster said, “It comes from Watermelon.” This took me by surprise. Another said, “From the rain. A few others were convinced it came from plants. A couple were confident it came from “the ocean.”I was left wondering how children came to these conclusions, so next time, I’m convinced to probe deeper by asking them to justify answers. Following a juice trail toward juvenile reasoning should be fun. Adding a written component to the exercise could also be valuable.

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Pressure

Here’s a song for you… Pressure by Billy Joel https://open.spotify.com/track/3LqvmDtXWXjF7fg8mh8iZh?si=xMdwnIPnRb-cZWTvni7IDA&context=spotify%3Auser%3Aspotify%3Aplaylist%3A37i9dQZF1DWY7QTKRRDgA5

The climate of teaching in the age of Covid-19….

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Tangled in the Moment

Sugar beet child

The world’s a snarled head

a wet brush politicized pandemic

Where truths are masked misinformed consumers

Chain-blocked into making

The fearful trip to the store

For need and want and restlessness

best channeled to the garden

 

Can’t justify the pick-up fee

You skip the shopping cart,

And take the six foot circumvent,

Avert the eyes and hurry by the leaded looks

A contemptuous game of spin-the-bottle

for whom will live and die for a loaf of bread

 

Paradoxically, the poorest, close-knit

Bear the greatest loss and caseload.

Strange, divisive, discriminating, deadly virus

Reminds us we are our own worst enemies to habits,

and ill temperance. Must choose love and wisdom.

 

Capitalism tugs the knot

While community strains a breaking point

Again I am the fearful child

as I was and am and will be

Crying for simpler, sweeter times

And hugs and penny candy

 

Caught in the tightening car seat

Crying I can’t breath

Like overworked poems destined to fail

From which imagery leaps to catch the eye

To glean admission for a season

With the privileged academics, numb to youth

heal the ladder, extending slippery rungs and handholds

Toward an emergent canopy

 

In the end, all halyards are means to an end,

Words, deeds, and diaries fall forgotten

Like false negatives and bank deposits in a burn bin

They can’t give breath, or peace, or truth

Where life and death are in the balance

All at once, everything becomes smaller and bigger than…

You, or kids, or circulating currency, and schools reopening

 

In an instant, reality is a Piper airplane crash

Everything is a single, endless prayer

 

By the Grace of God,

Somehow, you are the twelve year old

That walks away unscathed

And spends a lifetime asking why me

All that remains is choice

To stay, or to go with a smile or frown

Into the constant unknown

 

The hairbrush pulls free

How can you do the same?

The pain forgiven, but not forgotten

In collective tines of broken dawn

and waking to stress and strangling bed sheets

from dreams and restless sleep

a heartburn hold under big-buttoned pajamas

 

The shovel bites the sod

presses the breast to let the milk down

where once a suckling infant lay…is gone

Gone to phantom limb memory

To beets and greens and plots and empty nesting…

Motherhood lost the day they took the uterus

 

All that remains is confused teaching

And snarled memories of belonging

Like the lovely Fibonacci tendrils’ reach

For loving sunlight

Where hope blooms sweet peas in the garden

All peace, all still, all silent

Fertility calls to growing something new

 

Across the veil, from family histories and survival

They look to me with longing eyes

From vintage photos

Transcending time and space

To just made frames of cooling pickled beets

 

Makings

mingled with memories carried in my DNA

Bloodroot generations

Naturally faithful

 

Sooo many girls grown and gone to men, to mothering, and grand expectations

Brushed aside and tied in beautiful locks and curls

Tied like aprons, together with signs and tokens

On lovely golden plaits and graying heads

The lonely,

Longing for the comfort of a snarl-less

sometime visit, a hair comb, or a passing to the ones who wait beyond

 

If only to be touched and loved again

Safe from the reach of broken ends and Covid.

 

You turn you eyes and ears and tune your heart to Nature

You can’t imagine anything but early morning breezes

and water curtains raining down on thirsty roots and stalks

You pull the weeds and thin the beets and carrots

Then seated on a soggy frame, stringing and popping sweet peas,

The planter becomes the planted in finding rest that only God can give

All is well, and as it should be

Wilding

as in the Beginning

July 28, 2020  by h.g. robertson

 

 

 

 

 

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Freedom Song

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Watch “Gary Clark Jr. ft. The Roots: This Land (Encore Performance)” on YouTube

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Watch “Stuck In The Middle With You” on YouTube

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