Friday, June 12, 2009
At the coffee cart yesterday, the barrista made a beautiful latte for someone, and managed to get a smiley face on the sun/moon in addition to the feathery fern or plume or whatever that flourish is called. People gathered around and oooohed and aaaaahed over the great visual - 3/4 of the people whipped out cell phones and took pictures. It was what we used to call a Kodak moment.
Being an artist and art teacher, I wondered how they did this. Did they save droplets of espresso to make the face? Did they use a tool to scratch through and reveal the coffee beneath the milk foam? What?
So this morning, I asked - how'd you do this, is it a scratch-through technique? Karen showed me the tool, Mike said it's kind of cheating, and that in the coffee competitions the tools aren't allowed.
I explained that sgraffito is a legitimate artistic technique used in painting, ceramics, maybe even sculpture - look at paintings by Rembrandt and you can see that he used the back end of a paintbrush to scratch through paint and show the color underneath (especially in hair). Look at ancient Greek ceramics, the two-color vessels, and you can see this. So we agreed that if it has an Italian name, it must be a valid artistic technique.
Driving away, sipping my au lait, I thought about sgraffito. It works as a metaphor for weight loss and developing a healthy lifestyle. Scratch away the surface (the fat person) and find what's underneath (the fit and healthy person). I like this metaphor. I'm going to have to think about it some more. But I think my fitness journey is just another form of sgraffito, but on my body. Non-invasive sgraffito. Physical without the scratching. Mental and emotional sgraffito. Shedding layers of fat, shedding old habits, shedding emotional eating. Finding all sorts of forgotten or new or different habits and emotions underneath. Finding a new shape underneath.
Wednesday, June 10, 2009
1. Eating a carb-rich breakfast seems to give me more energy than a protein-rich breakfast.
2. Having a mocha mid-morning helps keep me from eating a big lunch.
3. Working so hard all morning causes me to eat less at lunch, and sometimes so late that lunch becomes a snack.
4. All this is helping break my year-plus plateau.
5. Hard physical labor forces me to drink tons of water, since I sweat most of it out anyway.
6. Boys and balloons do not go together at the end of the school year.
Tuesday, June 09, 2009
I was thinking about the mural yesterday, as I was tiling for 5 hours. About how much work it has been, what a huge project, how physically intense it has been.
Would I have taken on this project pre-Spark? Or would I not?
I have more energy now than I did before. I have more endurance. And I think I'm more wiling to push myself (and my students).
So - would I have? Maybe. Would I not? Maybe.
But I did, and I'm sure my Spark time has only helped me with this project.
Monday, June 08, 2009
I have a self-imposed deadline to finish the mural. It's before graduation, which is Friday. We lost two weeks of work in early May, when it rained and rained here. So I'm trying to finish the mural single-handedly.
I spent five hours working today. Everyone else was in the auditorium for the awards assembly. But I was halfway up the ladder, setting tile in the upper portion of the background. Trimming tile four feet above the ground is not my favorite activity. I'm not great at heights. I'm not graceful, and have been known to fall. I developed a cramp in my left hand and in my right food; my shoulders and neck are tight; I caught a finger in the tile cutter while trimming a tile, and I have two nice nicks in the finger which is quite sore.
So why do we push ourselves? Why do I take great pride in my ability to tile for 4 to 5 hours, when my students, who are 1/4 my age, are exhausted after an hour?
I don't know. Part of it is wanting to finish the task at hand - in this case, a 250 square foot mosaic mural - it is wanting to just be done. Part of it is knowing that if I don't get the grout in before summer, the mosaic will face hurricane season and I'll risk losing tile. Part of it is wanting the mural finished for graduation, when the governor, senators, and my students' parents will be here - I want to present a finished work of art to them. I want that for my students, for them to see their beautiful artwork finished and completed, so they can beam with pride as their families ooooh and aaaaahhhh over the magnitude of their work. So the kids - and I - can show off.
And part of the reason I push myself - and friends here push themselves - is to stay young and fit and energetic. The minute I STOP pushing myself is the minute I become old. If I'm not willing to push myself to do hard physical labor, or exercise, or to complete a big project, then I'm admitting that I can't do something, that I'm middle-aged (or older), that I'm no longer strong, that I have no endurance. I've never had speed, but I have always had endurance. And if I lose that, then I have nothing.
So I push myself to work despite the rain and puddles as I work, despite the sun in my eyes; I push myself to work through the cramping hand or foot or throbbing fingers or cuts from tiles; I endure the scraped shoulder (I'm horrible with putting up the ladder).
Because at the end of each day, as I cool off in my office in my cement-covered overalls, I know I've accomplished something. I've maintained my strength and my endurance. I've worked on my flexibility and built muscle and toned my upper body. I've tested myself and found myself able to accomplish the task.
And I've gotten one step closer to reaching my self-imposed goal.
Thursday, June 04, 2009
My days tend to be full and crazy. This morning was no exception, with my seventh graders scurrying around helping with the mural or finishing their pictures and letters for the President; my eighth graders who came to school solely to work on the mural; three classes, lots of kids, lots of work done, and then the inevitable lots of clean up.
Then, for the past two weeks, I've had a dance group practicing in my classroom for the upcoming talent show. Okay, fine, I don't mind - but the music and the arguing get to me, as I eat lunch and cool off in my office (and do my Sparking).
But today, a few students have exams, one is at a dr appt, and one finally gave up waiting. My room is quiet. Peaceful. Relaxing after the hectic morning.
Sometimes I forget how much I like quiet. It's a rare commodity at a middle school. But so nice when you find it.
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