Plowed Parking Lot

I’ll trade this black old for white gold! Hooray! It’s starting to snow! Up to 30 inches expected overnight in the ski resorts along the Wasatch front and back! Prepare for the onslaught Park City, Utah! (Fingers crossed)

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Remembering the Opera Years

Tonight as Delanie and I were giving each other foot rubs and watching prime time television, we saw some of the most amazing interpretive Olympic couples ice skating I have ever witnessed.  As I was caught up in the “spirit” of the games,  I found my mind drifting back to a seven year period of time in which I facilitated Opera by Children in my classroom.  I am grateful to have been part of this miracle gifted by Utah State University, Utah Festival Opera (founded by Michael Ballam), and blessed by so many other helpers dedicated to the Arts in our school.  I miss seeing the children’s faces light up at curtain time and witnessing their growth in so many ways that standardized testing can not measure, as they imagined and created their stories, librettos, musical scores, dances, scenery, costumes, and more. Here are some of the scenes and themes my children explored during our seven year run:  1.) an activist classroom lobby for more recess for animal students, 2.) a junkyard clubhouse to safeguard feral raccoons, 3.) a mission to Mars by Secret Agents of Outer Space amid civil war between Freeze-ray Vampires and Lava Monsters, 4.)  an attempt to save a failing Dazzle City Casino from the spell of an evil magician (We were forbidden to include the words “Las Vegas” and “gamble” in the writing and performance. Hmmm. Welcome to YEW-taw!)  5.)  a time warp from a high school homecoming football game into a mysterious land of Wizards and Vikings, 6.) Doping at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio by a vengeful Lance Livestrong  which resulted in a surprised bearded gymnast and a high speed tricycle chase through the audience, 7. Drought, death and  unprecedented change due to railroad expansion and westward disruption of Native ways  and wisdom.  This was the only serious opera  produced in the 7 years. It was the 100 year celebration of our town and school.  The opera explored what it is to lead and what it is to be free.  It was also our last Opera.  Sometimes I wonder if I could do it all again, but I can’t go back. The path moves forward.  Who knows…..maybe it will lead to an Olympic ice oval full of performing children!

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In flew Enza




She touched down weeks ago

on the heels of icy swim feet

wet footsteps on dry heaves

Death came knockin’ on my coughin’

Can’t wait ’til she leaves

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The second year

He kept the Presidential desk

and hung the curtains

They hung heavy in the fishbowl

hovering floor-length


scratchy catalog stock

ape-like drapes

like swirls of blackened brine shrimp

empty froth for barracudas

Well intended

Cloak of Containment.

I choked on the blinking they caused,

They’ll never be the Greatest,

the dog and pony flow of child,

the fairy wand, the plush, and LEGO

Come and go….and stay awhile.

This  retro Bronze and

Iron starched establishment

is Reinstated

Belated State of the State,

Good Old Boy Regiem.

I preferred Progressive

honest, public, meek and mild,

Choice and …accountable mercy,

Play and “Mother May I?”

transparency and glitter grooves.

I preferred all these to what has come

in chain store, out the door remedies

I preferred “Suffer the little children

to  this dry wall, float and tape

escape the community pool

For not so goodness sake

This year we hooked and caught some


fishy family counseling

divorce court tug of war

naughty parents keeping score

Sure is Sad

Glad we had a little bit of Heaven

for awhile

Sadder now

We Cant keep the darkside in

We can not keep it out

the pout and shout,

the Upside down plays generationally

its broken records

skip and scratch

the vinyl face of unimaginative

broken school system

Pretending ice and bandaids

will take the swelling down

believing the answers  LIE in TESTING!

clinging like a grubby Golden bandaid

we applauded but lost

I Polish up the silver strike plate

believing God hears prayers

I wipe and smile away the tears

and every day make the drive

park the lines like wax on paper and crayons in boxes

another weary year

Cuz you can’t stop on green

You must GO!

What else would you do at 52?

Just can’t stop the guiotin routine


How can I stop?

Light finds a way

It seeks and finds and blinds you

like truth and antiseptic

Light comes softly, loudly

humbly, proudly

sometimes bending corners and swallowing swords

pokes into pockets for wish watches or lockets

for carnival tickets and cotton candy

and soaks into hearts

All the while

Reality sags

like a warm soggy swim bag

Pack it up. Pack it home

It wets the bed

and then you have to sleep on it

Until tomorrow

Tomorrow is a Mew day

of Pawsibilities

and coffee late’ creation

Where the water runs clear again

refilling a paint brush cup

and palette with sunrise

I face another day


David Habben finds color

where the curtains hang





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All I Want for Christmas…lives in my heart

“Star people don’t cry. They shed light,” said Archie to Star Girl.  The statement hinted of saguaro, Senior Grandote, Don Miguel Ruiz, and ancient Toltec wisdom.  Susan was missing Leo and feeling sorry for herself. I was driving home, likewise,  listening to this favorite Spinelli audio book and empathizing with Star Girl. I was depleted, like an empty happy wagon minus the pebbles: Sad. Lonely. In another Universe in my head. Archie’s words just stuck. Like truth and taxation. Like a spit dripped Nerf dart to a target.  Like tiny elf owl feather to an infinity scarf.  Like snowflakes on a Christmas sweater.  Like a perpetual motion machine cough.

Susan Caroway could have been in the passenger seat next to me. Wasn’t she?  I kinda wished she was, or that someone like her was.  I do a lot of driving and pondering on my own. Audio book characters serve as surrogate companions.  They feel gifted and present.  So much so, that I was caught up in the realness of story and like deja vu,  discovered I was driving too slowly in the fast lane and had lost the last five miles or so of winding canyon road.

It’s hard to believe, because ten hours earlier I was pulled over by a UHP.  Why would I speed to school?!  Exactly.  School days leading up to Christmas are crazy. The closer to  Christmas break we are, the farther from school I feel I want to be.  Ask any teacher about stress levels surrounding the holidays. Ask them about families and kids in crisis. Ask them about the frenzy of hundreds of little Tesla machines uncontrollably firing, grounding and grinding on teachers’ last nerves.  It’s all very challenging and wonderful. 🙂

“Where were you going so fast?” asked the trooper.  “To school,” I replied.  “I went to the store to get some stuff for a holiday project.”  I didn’t tell him I’d just bought a bag of kitty litter to fill Mexican paper lanterns. I didn’t own up to my Starbucks addiction. Um, and I didn’t admit that I drive 80 mph on I-80 almost every day.

The nice highway patrol man took a long time running my plate, license, and registration.  His car headlights glared in the side mirror. It was blinding so I covered my eyes which made it difficult to see the trooper approach from the front passenger side window.  I deserved a ticket, but hoped to luck out. So when he  returned and kindly gave me a warning, I was incredibly grateful. Consequentially, I  drove under the speed limit for the remaining ten miles. This while mirror checking  and resisting the incredibly strong natural urge to pass slow-moving semi-trucks.

There was a time that being pulled over would have reduced me.  When I was about 25, I cried for this reason. I was speeding on highway 248 into Park City.    I was driving the old Green Machine, a Chevy Malibu with pretty bald tires.  It was a slick snowy day much like this one. It was a feel bad morning. Fortunately, I don’t cry anymore when I’m pulled over. I think it was an authority figure thing.  Not much phases me now.  Or maybe I am getting a little better at letting go. Dunno.   Things just…..are. And thank God for deep breathing!

So after a wonderfully joyous, exhausting day of teaching and an afternoon of swim team practice, Star Girl and I were tired, teary-eyed and missing dear friends.  I was missing a friend who used to work at my school, the “lmnop tree”, pronounced  /el oh men oh pee tree/.   She was and is bendable light and shone around the corners of each day.  For about 2,000 wonderful beginnings, she scattered sunshine and flooded the place with warmth and service.  In and out of doorways, she sparkled,  advocating fearlessly for children and teachers. In hind sight, I think I took that goodness for granted and I regret it.

It isn’t the same at school now.  The place feels hollow. Empty. Even when full of children.  It lacks the luster she created. Sometimes when I stay late to prep and all I can hear is the copy machine over a distant droning vacuum, it feels haunting.  It saddens me to watch an amazing school culture my friend created with us slip away into something like the Nothing.  ( I try to remember school is what “we” make it, of course, but I forget sometimes.)

The more things change, the more they stay the same?  Yes and No.  Sure, this week the library smells like a confectioner’s dream come true. The annual 3rd grade gingerbread tour of homes is up and on display.  Teachers are churning out festive projects almost daily along the count down to Christmas.  Sounds of children’s program song rehearsal fills the gym and spill into the entry.

The disciple-ship continues to move on. It sails through calm and wild waters.  It rocks and pitches.  It creeps, and stalls, drifts, and continues on, with or without you, in joy and tears, in smiles and indifferences, with work and play, Art, and song, and with Love and Learning.  In God she trusted. In Him she loved. With us, she served and taught by example.  I really miss her.

Another Christmas checks in as a much-loved fixture,  Charlie Brown Christmas tree bows simply on the office counter. It droops under the weight of the World.  The misfit Charlie Brown rests  below its few bare brown branches. He smiles, but inwardly he is crying, as many of us do.  Charles Shulz’s standing metaphor reminds us to keep the faith as we Trust in God and keep safe His children.  We give, not because of who we are but because of what He did.  He gave His Son.  God loves all of us unconditionally and we should love each other too.  Not because of what we do, but because of who God is and because of the Law of Attraction, the Law of Love.   My friend knew this and grew a Godly love in our little school. She had a passion for God and compassion for people, especially little ones.

My Love, Star Girl audio CD ends and ejects as if Pearl is sticking out her tongue at me. I feel the morning wash my mind and heart like a prayer. I’m left feeling peaceful and all I want for Christmas is a friend in Jesus and a friend like Star Girl, who just keeps loving the misfits. I glance over at the passenger seat which is occupied with plain, unscented kitty litter plus all the signs of someone who lives in her car. And then Christmas bells ring in Advent and a countdown of the days ’til Christmas. May our days be full of smiles, wishes, surprises, and best of all…the gift of children!

Merry Christmas and a Joyous 2018!



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