Monday, August 3, 2020

A Love Letter of Sorts (long)

Well, it's official.  As of August 1st I am retired.  It's not the way I had hoped it would end or exactly when I should have been done, but the, to use a word very popular right now, pivoting that came with this year, and I mean inclusive of this school year starting last September, just kept making things more difficult.  From a power outage on Friday the 13th in September, the uncertainty of my principal's return from a personal leave, my mother's stroke, my sister's death, the misinformation I was given about my Medicare enrollment, and of course, COVID 19 and working from home for 4 months.  I intended to retire at the end of my contract which would have been June 30, but making a long story short, turning 65 on March 31st actually affected that date and thus I had to work one additional month.

Our interim principal was a Godsend.  She not only wanted to make sure that our 5th graders who were moving on had a send-off, she did the same for the teacher that retired from our school and me.
The staff had gathered in the lobby, all masked of course and 6 feet apart, getting ready to go out to line the street to wave good-bye to the 5th grader's driving by in their parent's cars.  Just before that, they handed us a bouquet of flowers, balloons, and a gift bag and had us pose for a picture and we all rushed outside.  I was speechless of course, fighting back the emotions and joined them outside.  That night I wrote my note to them:

You all caught me speechless yesterday.

If I could have spoken I would have told you that when we left SBS on March 16th my thoughts were then that there could be someone among us that we would never see again – a casualty of the virus.  So I tried to soak in your faces.  You were smiling but still showing worry and confusion.    We had already been through a lot this year and making the best of it.  Planning for baseball opening day was in the works.  When we all said good-bye that day, I’m sure none of you thought it would be for so long. 

I tried to keep in touch by alternately posting daily messages of hope and some really bad, groan-worthy jokes and I hope that helped a little.  I hope you’ll “store” that as a good memory of these past few months.  I will “store” it along with all the memories of the past 17 years I’ve been at SBS. 

Speaking of memories, some of you know that I’ve always said that I was going to write a book about all the weird, wonderful, and sometimes frustrating things that went on here.  I don’t think that will come to actual fruition but I do have some stories written down and even a title - “Everyone Wants to be Goldilocks” because you know that Goldilocks wanted everything to be just right.  And while there’s a bit of sarcasm in that title, I hope you know that it was always my goal to make things just right for you all.  I’m proud of the fact that I believe my successes at that far outweigh my failures.

I’ve already begun to miss all the daily interactions with you.  Not the work-related duties, but the little and sometimes long conversations.  The stories of your families and your classrooms. Hearing about your joys and sharing in your sorrows.  Listening to your frustrations and hopefully knowing when you needed someone just to listen and when you were asking for advice.  And that goes both ways because you listened when I shared the good, the bad, and the frustrating.

I wish that I could hug you all but aside from it not being allowed right now, I would definitely be crying and I’m no Chrissy Teigen when I cry.  So it’s also a good thing that I read all your congratulation messages alone with my box of “soft” tissues (which BTW I always offered Frank to have in his office when bad news was coming) because you have all been such a big part of my life, and, well, these lyrics from Wicked say it all…………

It well may be
That we may never meet again
In this lifetime
So let me say before we part
So much of me
Is made of what I learned from you
You’ll be with me
Like a handprint on my heart
And now whatever way
Our stories end
I know you have rewritten mine
By being my friend(s)
Who can say if I’ve been
Changed for the better?
I do believe I have been
Changed for the better
And because I knew you…………
I have been changed
For good

Thank you.  Thank you for the gifts you gave me, and more importantly, thank you for your friendship and love. 


The teacher's union put this sign and a big bunch of balloons at our mailbox on the last day of school and HWNSNBP insisted that I keep up the sign in the backyard until it was official. 

Once again the principal came through with more surprises on my last day in the office.  She brought in more balloons last Thursday, flowers, a mascot, and made me the t-shirt that says "School's Out Forever"  "Retired and Loving It".  She bought lunch for the three of us and the custodian and the secretary made a cake.  They also programmed our new school sign with the message up above.

She sent out an e-mail to the 12-month staff that was working in the district and to our school staff to come at 4 and "clap me out".  Once again, I was overwhelmed.  Twenty and more showed up - all masked to bid me farewell.  

I can't say it wasn't hard to catch my breath as I drove away.  There are a lot of good memories that I have of working there.  But I knew that it was time and I am really looking forward to someday being able to go back and give the hugs that I so longed to share.

My heart is heavy that I will not be there to help as they all face the challenges of the new school year and that heaviness applies to the fear that I have for my daughter and son-in-law as they get ready to go back to their school, and my grandchildren too.  

Friday, July 31, 2020

ICAD Wrap-Up 2020

Well, the last five cards are posted here and a picture of all of them circling the title card also.  It has been a great experience again this year.  I must admit that the last two weeks were a little more challenging for me but I persevered.  I hope that whoever is reading this enjoyed looking at them.  If you'd like to see those from the past you can check out the headings for ICAD 2014 through ICAD 2020 on my side index.  This will be a total of 427 cards over the last seven years with a few more here and there that didn't make it into the official count.

Day 57 - Billiards

You would think that these tiny billiard balls and cue stick would have been hard.  Not so much.  Coloring in the background took more time.  Looking back, if I had made them bigger I would have had less background to color in.  Lesson learned.

Various Pens, General's Watercolor Pencils

Day 58 - Tea Set

We had a busy day with the 4 yr-old GS and he wasn't interested in "arting" with grandma so this was just a quick sketch and comment on a painted background.

Arteza Watercolor Gouache, Micron Pen

Day 59 - Arboretum

Well, this is the greenhouse in the arboretum.  I actually had a brain-fart forgetting that an arboretum involved trees so those tree leaves were an afterthought.  Hope you buy my description.

Micron Pen, General's Watercolor Pencils, Graphite Pencil, Arteza Watercolor Gouache

Day 60 - Bossa Nova - This is a Brazilian Bluebird

Crayon Resist background with ACMoore watercolors, bird/branch/flowers Arteza Watercolor Gouache

Day 61 - Adventure

When I saw the prompt for this day I thought that it would be perfect because this was the last day of my employment.  On Thursday (we don't work on Fridays during the summer) the principal sent out an e-mail to the staff that was working in all the buildings and to our school staff at home that today was my last day and invited them to come over to "clap me out".  I gathered my belongings with the help of the secretary and principal and opened the door to a crowd of masked colleagues.   My heart was overwhelmed as they clapped, cheered, some even brought noisemakers, and some of them brought their children whom I've come to know, some since they were babies.  I wanted to hug them all good bye - these hearts are my hugs to them all.  A little blue, but happy too.

They lined the sidewalk to the parking lot exit and did more cheering, clapping, waving, as I pulled away.  I can't say that I didn't tear up.  It was and is bittersweet.  I love the people that I worked with.  There were days that were not as good as others, but that's to be expected.  Our staff was a caring community and I was blessed to be amongst them.

I'll have some more to post about the end of that chapter, but to round up ICAD I have to say that I always learn something whether it be how to use a new material, the topic (bossa nova, suzani pattern, different kinds of mirages, etc.), and I learn more about my strengths and weaknesses, what I like to do, what is hard for me, what comes easy.  I hope my readers enjoy looking at the cards as much as I have enjoyed making them.

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

ICAD Weeks 7 & 8

Apologies in advance for a long post to include two week's worth of ICAD's.  Right now I'm actually doing the last few days of the challenge, but before it ends I did want to catch up with the posting.

Day 43/61 - Bloom

I used some security envelope insides for the flowers, tissue paper for the leaf, and part of a map of NJ, and if you look closely you will find the little heart where we live.  In planning this card I knew I wanted to use some quilling dies I had for the flowers.  I managed to find the dies but could not find my little quilling tool and had to resort to using a tweezer to roll the flowers.  I now believe that my quilling tool has run off with my rotary cutter which I still can't find.  They are vacationing together, I'm sure.  

Day 44/61 - Unravel
"Help me unlearn what I've learned, unravel what shouldn't stay tied, and walk away even when it will never feel comfortable, gentle, or right."  Victoria Erickson of Rebelle Society

Micron Pen, General's Watercolor Pencils

Day 45/61 - Simplify
I used a mop up card - a card that I cleaned some pigment off of my brush from the previous card.  I added some circles in watercolor pencil, activated them with my aquabrush and when dry, added the letters of the alphabet in smaller circles.

General's Watercolor Pencils, Micron Pen

Day 46/61 - Diagram - Off Prompt

I decided to try replicating the sunset I had taken a picture of recently using watercolor gouache paints.  They are more intense than watercolors and smoother to use than pencils.  The index card paper bows with the all the water used while painting.  I was pretty pleased with how it came out.

Here's the photo inspiration.  

Day 47/61 - Pencil
A simply pencil drawing of one of my flying pigs that happened to be nearby.  This one was on my desk at work and has followed me home.

Day 48/61 - Confetti or Glitter
On a quick trip to the dollar store to pick up a few things I found some wooden glitter stickers that didn't seem to be shedding too much.  The bird and flowers were inspired by the package that the stickers came in.

Watercolor Gouache

Day 49/61 - Orchard
On our way home from Barnegat we stopped at a farm stand and I took a look around to see what could have come from an orchard. There were peaches and plums and they were just starting to put some beautiful pears out.  So I decided to make mine yellow bartlett pears.

Micron Pen, General's Watercolor Pencils, Cuttlelola (dot pen)

Day 50/61 - Pinwheel

Micron Pens, General's Watercolor Pencils

Day 51/61 - Blue or Blueberry

Zig Dot Pen, Wrapping Paper Butterfly

Day 52/61 - Orbit

Various pens and markers, some green and yellow zucchini on the side

Day 53/61 - Garden Gate

Based on our garden gate that has the heart motif.

General's Watercolor Pencils, Micron Pen

Day 54/61 - Outline

General's Watercolor Pencils, Gift Wrap Butterflies, White Gel Pen

Day 55/61 - Paisley

Micron Pen, Graphite Pencil

Day 56/61 - Unfold

Arteza Watercolor Gouache, Micron Pen, Map
Once you unfold a map can you refold it correctly?  That's the question.  The quote comes from a Harvard study on map folding.  The map is folded using an origami technique called the Miura fold (google for some pretty easy tutorials).  

With the map out of the pocket.

Five more days to this challenge and the week is flying by!

Thursday, July 23, 2020

Cards Not Index

I've not posted a lot lately other than my ICAD's (Index Card A Day Challenge) and going through some photos I thought I should post some of these.  Some thank you and birthday cards.

These first two are actually part of a trio.  I couldn't find the picture of the third one which was basically the same card except that the base was gray and the circle panel was blue (just the opposite of the first one).  I had seen a color challenge somewhere using these three main colors.  I had to look up whether peonies came in yellow and they did so I felt okay coloring them all So Saffron.  

I had found a sheet of these stamped bluebirds in my stash and used an oval die to cut them out.  We were monitoring our bluebirds at the time and these were very timely.  

And one last birthday/get well card for a Teapot Tuesday Challenge at the end of June for someone very special.   

One more week of work (three days actually) and with the end of ICAD I will have more time to catch up on card making.  I have a little mental list going as to what I want to accomplish.  I think it's time to write things down so I stay on track.

Sunday, July 19, 2020

ICAD Week 6

Day 36/61 - Ocean
This was inspired by an Instagram workshop I did during quarantine offered free by a CZT (Certified Zentangle Teacher) in Spain on Instagram.  

Micron Pens, General's Watercolor Pencils

Day 37/61 - Hydrangea
A vase of hydrangea's from our yard.  We put some bushes in late last year and earlier this spring and have them fenced in from the deer.  This particular bush has a plethora of flowers and some of them have bent over and broken allowing me to bring them into the house.  

Arteza Watercolor Gouache, Gel Pens, Marvy LePen, Watercolor Pencils

Day 38/61 - Rust
I was going to look on Pinterest for a recipe and this rusted peace heart pendant was in my feed which was very serendipitous for the prompt of the day.  I just needed to find a suitable quote to fill the rest of the space.

Arteza Watercolor Gouache, Micron Pen

Day 39/61 - Mirage
This is a depiction of what is called a Brocken Spectre.  The figure you see is actually the shadow on the fog of the person looking at it.  The halo is caused by the low angle of the light.  They say that mountain climbers come upon this spectre near summits.

Arteza Watercolor Gouache

Day 40/61 - Gradient
This didn't start as a pear, just a squiggle.  Then the stem appeared.  

Micron Pen, Arteza Watercoler Gouache, General's Watercolor Pencil

Day 41/61 - Cinnamon or Spice
When I thought about the prompt I was thinking cinnamon rolls.  These would be pretty fancy decorated cinnamon rolls, which actually I think now, resemble snakes.  Though they don't have any heads.

Micron Pen, Arteza Watercolor Gouache, General's Watercolor Pencil

Day 42/61 - Knot

Micron Pen, Graphite Pencil

Sunday, July 12, 2020

4th of July

We managed to get the whole family together for the 4th of July.  What I call a "golden day" when both of my children and their spouses and kids are with us.  Our daughter and her fiance arrived at the condo earlier in the week and unfortunately she hurt her back which put the kabosh on the activities that they had planned.  But on Saturday morning, before my son and his family arrived HWNSNBP and the fiance rented a pontoon boat for half a day and did some crabbing and had a very successful trip.  

We had "toddler-proofed" the condo the week before by taking off the glass doors on the tv stand and removing all the decos.  Or at least we thought we toddler-proofed it.  He was very much into exploring to say the least.  

And here are the boys playing together.  They haven't seen each other since Christmas but they warmed up quickly to each other.  The little guy, on the other hand, was extremely wary of his uncle (our son).  He loves to flirt with the ladies, but he backs away from the guys.

But try as we might, we couldn't sit them down for a picture together. 

Who's keeping up with who?

We snagged the little guy for this quick picture up at the dock and then they were off and running again.  

A couple days later NJ instituted a 14-day quarantine for visitors from Delaware (where our daughter lives) so our plans for another family get together at our home in Bburg will be put on hold until the numbers come down in DE.  

Saturday, July 11, 2020

ICAD Week 5

It's been a bit of a crazy week here.  I should have published this earlier in the week, but I didn't get to it.  I've gone into the office twice this week and still working on things from home to try to get ready to transition the new person.  It doesn't help when the office machines that I need to use won't cooperate.  But I digress.... on with the cards for Week 5.

Day 29/61 - Citrus - Some Stained Glass Citrus Slices

ACMoore Watercolors, Micron Pen

Day 30/61 - Arcade

We used to love playing Skeeball at the arcade.  Can't do it anymore with my back.  This is a skeeball mandala.

Micron Pens, Zig Brush Pens

Day 31/61 - Font
This font is called Constellation.

Marvy LePens, Micron Pen

Day 32/61 - Earrings
I had done some tangling on wooden disks a few years ago.  These earrings are based on a necklace I made from the one with this pattern.

Micron Pens, General's Watercolor Pencils, Gel Pen

Day 33/61 - Periwinkle
What do these flowers and snails have in common?  They're both called Periwinkles.

Derwent Inktense Pencils, General's Watercolor Pencils, White Gel Pen, Micron Pen, Graphite Pencil, Arteza Watercolor Gouache

Day 34/61 - Board Game (Not)
But since it was the 4th of July, I was inspired to tangle something in red, white, and blue.

Micron Pens

Day 35/61 - Lantern
A red-veined Chinese Lantern plant to be more specific.

Arteza Watercolor Gouache, Derwent Inktense Pencils, General's Watercolor Pencils, Micron Pen