Sunday, November 27, 2011

Sunday Morning - Tegucigalpa

November 27, 2011 7:30 am
Sunday Morning, Tegucigalpa Honduras
Sitting on the balcony and gazing at the vista below and around me. There is a cup of coffee sitting next to me along with a Semita and two Tulipanes; these are mildly sweet treats to dip in your coffee. I am soaking up these moments to take out and enjoy on a cold, gray day in Indianapolis or Carson City.

There is more to this little moment than meets the eye. The coffee is from Costa Rica and an early Christmas gift from Gabriel, an eighth grader who is an intense student with a mature sense of humor. The cup the coffee is in was a gift from Victoria, a gifted student, exceptional art student, who attended Interlochen this past summer and brought the cup back as a souvenir for me. I was introduced to semitas and tulipanes by Maricella one of our Spanish teachers. She walks through the art room every morning with her kindergarten daughter whom I call “Pinkalicous”. She shyly smiles at me but never speaks. Every once in a while Maricela places a semita or a tulipanes on a tissue next to my coffee cup. Sometimes I am able to return the favor. Lately her daughter has decided she can walk to her classroom alone and doesn’t need mom to go with her, a big step for mom and daughter.

The tray everything is sitting on is a find from the Emporium a new (to me) stuff store that Karen introduced me to yesterday afternoon. We spent the afternoon “bumming” from store to store, finding things that were on our lists and finding more that were not on our lists. She introduced me to a bakery that had at least nine different kinds of bread and glass cases full of pastries. We had a lovely afternoon.
I guess I have to say that the “little moment” of this morning was really full to overflowing with little moments - small treasures to be enjoyed again and again.

Hope your day is full of “little moments”.

Return to Tegucigalpa - August 2011

Ahhh! It is the Saturday morning after the first full week of school and I have brewed myself a pot of Dunkin’Donuts coffee. I found the bag of coffee at La Colonia grocery store. Money was no object. So I happily paid the almost $15.00 to have the familiar treat at hand. The first days back to Tegucigalpa were filled with unpacking both suitcases and my closet and bedroom spaces as well as unpacking the art room. I still haven’t located key items…like “where did I put the water color paint brushes?”

I am teaching sixth grade through twelfth grade (AP) art this year. I missed working with the middle school students last year. I am really enjoying getting reacquainted with the returning students and with the students who were new to the school last year as well as this year’s new comers. There is always a percentage of student turnover in these international schools. We have a solid core of “local” students and then that group of students whose parents work in Foreign Service offices, embassies and NGO’s. Then of course we have an expected turnover rate in teaching staff as well. This year we only had three new teachers, an unusually low number. Everyone learns to get acquainted quickly knowing there is a time limit on our opportunities to develop friendships.

My first day on campus I surveyed the work that had been done over the summer. Maintenance and office staff had been busy. There was a fresh coat of paint in the administrative offices, many classrooms and the art room. The grassy square between the Spanish classrooms and the cafeteria that is used for recess and lunchtime games (especially soccer) had been fertilized and reseeded and now it was a lush green .

The director had left instructions for certain areas on campus to be landscaped. She simply said, “I want this area planted”. She did not specify planted with what. Knowing that she didn’t want to spend much, the maintenance staff was delighted to find the abandoned small cups of plants started from seed by the second grade as a part of their science project last spring. They planted them everywhere that a plant was needed. When D. returned she was surprised to see green beans growing everywhere! Evidently the summer staff had been harvesting and enjoying them all summer.

We had a full five days of morning teacher training/meetings and afternoon planning and room preparing, more time than I have ever been given to prepare for start of school. The Saturday before the Wednesday first student day we went flower shopping. So I had three large displays of color in the art room plenty of subjects for first drawing exercises.

The first day of school the seniors arrived on a fire truck with siren and horns blaring. It is a tradition here for the senior class to make a grand entrance on the first day of their last year. My two returning AP students jumped down from the truck and rushed for greeting hugs and smiles so big I don’t know how they could fit on their faces. They had done the “grand tour” together this summer and I am sure they have tales to tell. What a brave mom to have taken them …well brave or foolish, maybe both. Any way they promised a power point slide show to share with everyone.

So now we have settled into the school routine. First projects have been initiated and we are catching our stride. The time will go quickly and the calendar is full of special events long weekends and holidays. The AP art students are taking a field trip to Larach, a large “everything” store that has a large hardware and building supply section as well as house wares and even art supplies. We are going to purchase the supplies needed to construct our own easels, picture frames, and portfolios and to survey the materials that are available for future projects. We only have an hour to do all of this so we better be quick.

Time to refill the coffee cup and enjoy the view from the balcony.

Sunday, May 22, 2011


I am enjoying my "Starbuck's" coffee in a mug decorated
by Victoria (grade 8) with Alexa.

Alexa, Lisandro and Maria Steffania at "Starbuck's"

Wednesday May 11, 2011
I am working on getting the exhibit down and the pieces selected for the embassy exhibit as well as the work to be included in the student literary magazine and awards night exhibit. We are working on both murals now…rainforest and coral reef so two of my classes are occupied until the end of the year which is not so far away. Today when my small AP class came in about 11:00 am I said that all I wanted to do was take them to Starbuck’s and sit on cozy chairs and drink coffee and sketch and talk.

Their faces lit up, “yeah!” “But, alas, no Starbuck’s” I said, “but we can make coffee, tea or hot chocolate, I’ll put on the kettle and we can sit on the benches out side” (under the portico in front of my room).

When I came outside to say the “coffee” was ready, they had rearranged the space, moved plants around, added the stool from the art room and even a “vase” (made from a grade three project) with some bougainvillea in it. As you can see from the picture they made quite a cozy space for us and there we sat and each sketched and sipped with only occasional comments here and there. We were quite content and I reflected on what an opportunity I have to teach in a school where this little “event” could happen.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

The Accidental Model

Ode to a Dead Bird

It flew through the open art room door,

Now trapped in an alien world.

Panic, before we could open the window,

SLAM! Thud, drop.

It lay twitching Feathers ruffling in the breeze

From the now open window.

Stunned? We hoped…alas no

And now pinned to a tray an

Accidental model.

The tiny bird was finally identified as a female Ruby Throated Humming Bird. After several days of "posing" for the eighth graders and being stored in the upstairs staff refrigerator overnight it was time to put it to rest.

In the fourth grade I did an oral report on the Ruby Throated Humming bird. At the time and I was in awe of how small and beautiful a creature it was. I never thought I would ever see one in "real life". But 55 years later I have seen them several times flitting briefly around my friend's feeder outside her kitchen window in Indiana. We stop our coffee conversation and stare for the few seconds it gives us while it sips and darts away. Now, I have had hours to study its every feature. It was with regret and respect we found a spot outside the art room door and lifted some sod and slipped her under. Warren and Paola shared in the ceremony and paid their respects.

Meet the Chamomile Man or Art Supply Shopping with Warren

Warren arrived about 40 min past the appointed time without Vincent. Seems Vincent has no bell at his apartment gate and no operating or turned on cell phone…which ever he was no where to be seen. So after a bit Warren, instead of being dropped off by his mother and brother headed to my house, picked me up and then we dropped his brother and mother at his cousin’s house and we went on to do our shopping using his mother’s car.

We moved quickly around the city – downtown past the central park and the Cathedral and to the High School of the Arts. Even though classes were on winter semester break the school was open and the supply store busy. We purchased our painting boards and headed on over to Larache – sort of a combination of Lowe’s, Home Depot /Office Depot, with a large art and school/office supply section. We purchased water color paper and illustration board there and then went on to Don Quixote art supply store looking for charcoal sticks for Vincent, none found.

So we stopped for a coffee at the Café American next door before heading across the street to DaVinci art supply. While we were sitting outside at the Café we were approached by an “herb” seller; a man between the age of 35 and 55. It is difficult to guess the age of those who work hard and live on two or three dollars a day. He was selling bundles of fresh chamomile for 20 Lempira each. I bought a bundle so that Warren could get a picture of him with his huge burlap bag of chamomile slung over his back and an arm load of flowers in front.

Later that afternoon I searched the internet for instructions for making chamomile tea with the fresh flowers. I plucked the yellow blossoms and steeped them according to directions. I sipped a cup while I drew a few of the remaining flowers from my bundle in my sketchbook. And now I am spoiled forever and must plant some chamomile some where around my little house. I am thinking in the sun by the garden shed.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Locked-in with Grade 10

Thursday January 13, 2011
Well after a marathon shopping day Wednesday - first with Marvin (driver) in the morning to buy painting supplies, paint etc. at the Do-It Hardware center and then in the afternoon after school with F. (teacher/friend)at Price Mart(aka Costco) I was as ready as I could get for Thursday morning and the tenth grade lock-in. I woke at 4:30am but began packing instead of walking. Managed to be packed and ready to spend the night at school by the time D. was up and ready for school. I even got a cup of coffee and a cup of vanilla Greek yogurt in before we headed out. Then a long day of classes mine and Warren’s and setting up for another marathon 18 hour painting night. The girls soccer practice was canceled so I had most of them there right after school. The boys came in about 5:15 or so. Total 13 teenagers. The boys were all fresh and clean with neatly combed wet hair. They had decided yesterday that they needed to a shower after soccer practice and since our school has no showers and there was not time to go home and back they had brought their bathing suits, changed into them, and then literally hosed each other down with cold water. AND it was already cool, cloudy and windy here! They were very proud of themselves, figuring out how to solve that little problem. They took pictures which they showed me but unfortunately they didn’t download them so I can’t share them with you.

They were very hungry and devoured the raw veggies I had brought as my contribution to the “snack” table, they then hit the chocolate chip cookies from price mart (as requested) and then got to work before the Chinese food was delivered about 7:00

They had enough sustenance to get to work and work they did. It was another amazing night of creative energy and cooperation. Lots of laughter and lots of fun – a late night walk where young teacher/ Warren snuck up behind them and lurked in the shadows …scaring them to pieces when they noticed a hidden shadowy figure.

Friday January 14, 2011
Ahhh. Up till 10:30 with the tenth graders then Warren came in after his night school class and took over the chaperoning and consulting on the work on the mural. I went to the first aid room (which has a real bed and bathroom) and got a reasonably good night’s sleep until 5:00 am...then I got up and got ready for the school half day and parent conferences. I went down and saw all the sleeping “angles”. Just like last time they were spread out on a variety of inflatable and non inflatable mattresses. Up in the art room there was a boys “dorm” of about a half dozen packed -almost mattress to mattress -in the storage leg of the “L” of the art room.

Downstairs there was a small group in the AV room where our parent volunteer, S., I.’s mother, camped out with a combination of boys and girls and in the elementary library area where the mural is located two girls on a giant air mattress with one boy curled up like a cocoon in his sleeping bag at the foot of the mattress. Middle school art teacher Vincent, all 6’5” of him was stretched out on the floor on the cushion from the couch in the secondary library area in his sleeping bag with feet hanging over one end and his foot long dread locks hanging off the cushion onto the floor on the other. Warren was already up – I saw his empty sleeping bag in the computer room when I tip-toed through there on my way from the first aid room – counselor’s office – computer room to art room…all connected by doors.

I waited quietly until about 6:30 when Warren joined me in the senior library area and we put the kettle on for coffee and hot chocolate. C. was the first student up, then G.. Our whispers moved gradually to quiet talking and then we were joined by others and began turning on the lights. Sleepy heads joined us and soon the muffins were disappearing along with the left over fruit from the night before. Students had projects to present in their first period literature class so I couldn’t get them excused. Most wore their pajama’s to class. They came back for second period when we usually have art and some continued to paint others got dressed and finished putting away their sleeping gear. (Drivers began arriving to carry gear to waiting cars.) They came back after their algebra test fourth period and cleaned up all of the painting supplies, carried everything upstairs and left me only with the brushes to clean. They had done a lot of work; added more foliage, more details, shading etc. as well as more flowers, some birds, butterflies, ants and the all important jaguar. They even began revising the mangrove wall that joins their rainforest wall. But it is still far from done. I feel like Michelangelo...and the Pope...:"When will you make and end of it!” The students seem unconcerned. “We still have lots of time, Mrs. Campbell. We can work next year…you’ll be here next year?” “Yes, I will probably be here next year.” Big smiles – “see lots of time”. Yes, I remember those years of feeling there was “lots” of time.

The rest of the day went pleasantly with clearing my desk and sorting through stuff, putting things in order and washing brushes. While I was writing the “Thursday” entry above I actually dozed off and woke to find three lines of “l’s” across the screen. Fortunately, the fifth grade teacher came by and shared her pizza lunch with me and we discussed next week’s “Egyptian museum” they are making in their classroom. Later I had a pleasant parent conference with a teacher/parent and following our talk about her son we had a very good talk about early art education and the preschool lesson she was preparing. I gathered enough work to keep me busy for the three day weekend (MLK Day) and left at 3:30 with F. who dropped me off at home with all of my luggage.

D. had made soup the night before and so I had a bowl with her chatted a bit and then headed for bed about 7:30. I got a good 11 hours of sleep and got up and took my walk on the treadmill to get my joints moving -1.02 miles in 32 minutes.

I think I have caught you up. Now I plan to have a pleasant three days of washing, ironing, writing lesson plans, a few other “brain” work school projects and blogs and maybe doing some work in my new moleskin sketchbook – a gift from one of my student families. D has also ordered some new cable movie channels in English and they may be available today. The wind is howling through the casements, gray clouds are hanging over my mountains across the valley but the sun is trying to come through. I am wearing my sweat shirt “jacket” and my toes are a bit cold. It is like a nippy fall or spring day. I hope you are all warm and well. Adios, Beth