i spend a lot of time complaining about my job. i whine. i mutter. i grit my teeth and say mean things in my head. but one thing i get to do at my job that i really quite relish is read books. i canvass the internet for suggestions, compile reading lists in my excel spreadsheet, make morning trips to the library and check books out by the armload, and then stack the novels and picture books on my desk in the office.

and during those precious moments when i have the room to myself and there is but a slim chance that someone is going to pop in, i stop planning lessons and slide a story from the top of the stack and read – just for the pleasure of it.


over the weekend, i stopped over at a used book store in town and picked up an old copy of james and the giant peach, “$2.50” stamped in ink on the inside cover. i had never read the story as a kid, and i’ve now only read the first 24 pages, but i know already that this is one i’ll keep close to my heart.

the edition i found had black-and-white versions of these original illustrations done by nancy ekholm burkert for the book’s first printing in 1961. little james himself, unfortunately, gets a rather disturbing rendering (don’t look too long into his black-hole eyes) but the other scenes are utterly enchanting.



they are pen and ink drawings that have just the merest blush of color, but they are enough to bring my imagination to life – and likewise life to my imagination. what a bit of mercy on an otherwise mundane tuesday night.

{all images come from this lovely children’s illustration blog}


you were beautiful then

chris douridas has done it again. as i am hunched over in my ikea chair on this fine friday night, slamming together some lesson plans for monday, i’ve got last weekend’s broadcast of his show streaming through my little earbuds. and the song this time? junebug by robert francis.

from the opening notes and the low thump-thump (is that a kick drum? i love it.), and the way he pronounced “blue-carpeted” – i got the hook. i was a little wary when he started in on his high, strangely sweet ooh-oohing at first… but by now i’m quite stuck on them.

i think the song is on an album that’s a new release, so there’s nothing on youtube i can plug in here at the moment. and i gather from his myspace that i’m a couple weeks late in snagging a free download of the song on itunes. but if you’d like to be neurotic like me, you can find the october 24 show, open up kcrw’s music player, and click to the 24:17 mark to hear the song. i know this, of course, because i have been sitting here seeking back to that point over and over through the night.

[update: the song’s up on his myspace now.  bam bam.]

a day at the office

another day of inspiration, thanks to design*sponge.

i’ve been thinking about a lot of things these days, but the topic that has been so rudely hogging about 97 % of my brain space is the subject of work. i’m one month into this new job and constantly counting over the ways it pushes the limits of my capacity for stress …and the ways i would be lost without a reason to work this hard.

but i was reading this post today…

a day at the office{photo by studio choo at design*sponge}

…chronicling a day in the life of a couple best friends who run a flower design company in san francisco.

it was just lovely getting a glimpse into this small business, the kind where you can keep two feet on the ground (you know, where the flowers grow) but let your head do the dreaming.

and while i love teaching – working with words and stories and sentences, and finding a way to distill everything down to kid-level – it made me realize that i miss doing the kind of work that requires only my hands and my greatest sense of beauty. i miss the craft.

i spent my undergrad years as an art major – trying all the time to paint my insides out – and then nearly every free moment apart from that thinking about food: how to make it, how to eat it. and whether it was something i was good at or not, the space for creativity satisfied a part of me that’s shriveling just a little bit these days. a part that i can feel reawaken ever so quietly every time i read about (or feast my eyes on or tune my ears to) some beautiful thing someone else is doing.

how to braid inspiration back into life… i guess that’s an art in itself.

short intermission

this song. i’ve got it on repeat, in my heart.

Continue reading


i wish there were more hours in the day for this:

resized IMG_4824

or maybe some of this:



i’m currently whirring about in a blur of thoughts as i am preparing curriculum for my new job, while still working full-time at my soon-to-be-old job. it’s a wonderful kind of busyness, because it means i am breaking open a new chapter of my life and busting in right away with all sorts of possibilities and responsibilities… but it’s also a level of frenzy such that i need lots of sweet, milky tea and giant chocolate chip cookies in order to cope.

and these visual reminders of moments of calm, stolen from the weekend – they help too.


from an 8-year-old.



when you work at a school, you can always expect your day to be eventful. a couple years in as a teacher, and i already have quite the collection of charming anecdotes.

there was the time i tried to send a rebellious 8-year-old out of the classroom, but he refused to budge and his tactic of choice was to fall to the floor, shut his eyes and lie there, and yell “no” over and over. there was that one incident in the computer room where our students go to play video games, when a boy got so enraged over his teammates’ betrayal that he threw two plastic chairs across the room, wwf style. or the time i was substitute teaching a class of kindergarteners and all twelve of them decided to have a “screaming contest” just as the principal walked in to check how i was doing.

kids test my patience daily. but once in a while, they go and do something like this:

and my faith in humanity is restored. this is a party favor put together by three of my third grade girls. they had made several for their classmates, and on the day of our yearend class party, the trio went around to each friend to bless them with their little creations. every one received an origami cup, which was adorned with a color-coordinated cocktail umbrella and filled with an assortment of snacks, all cushioned by a single square of kleenex. happiness was spread all around.

even in the adult world, there are the chair-throwers and the favor-makers. the former may get their way more often, but in my heart the favor-makers always win.