Category Archives: School

The First Steps – A New Beginning


the first step quote

I am using this quote to kick off a new era of Maison Celeste. It has been so long since I have blogged regularly. I am learning that there have been so many improvements in the land of blogging and website building. I planned on getting started sooner, but life has intervened. The divorce took so much longer to finalize than I had anticipated, and it was a very expensive and soul crushing process. It was a move that was vital for my mental well being, but it cost me a lot.

Part of the reason I have not written is that I was having a hard time thinking of positive things to write about. I was told by my creativity coach, Kathy Cano-Murillo, to keep posts upbeat. I was not feeling upbeat. As usual, I began the school year thinking that I knew what I would be teaching. And, as happened every year since 2008, there has been a change to my teaching schedule. I am obviously over certified. So, school was not feeding my inspiration as it has in the past.

The big bright spot in all of this is that I have become reacquainted with the place where I consider my hometown. That would be Lafayette, Louisiana. I visited every month for the past few years, with trips to New Orleans interspersed between those trips. I have fallen in love again with the culture of Acadiana. Lafayette has changed so much since I lived there in 1997. Since then, it has been awarded The South’s Tastiest Town, The Best Food Town, and The Best Overall City in America… Business is booming and Cajun cuisine is getting the recognition it deserves. And it’s not too far from New Orleans!

I wanted to move back to Lafayette over the summer, but circumstances made that impossible. So, now I am announcing my intention to move there this summer. There is so much to do. I plan to put my townhouse on the market, but not until I have vacated it, save for some of the large furnishings. In order to do that, I need to pack up or use up or get rid of a LOT of stuff. I have been accumulating art and craft supplies for years, and many of those are unused and in my garage and studio.

The other challenge is that the townhouse I plan to share with my new guy is much smaller than the one I live in now. So that doubles the need to lighten up. The plan, as I proposed it to Kathy last summer, is to write about the items I have. I want to revisit the moment when I though it was a good idea to buy 200 paper mache bells (they were 8 cents apiece…) or 500 mini photo albums with NASCAR drivers on them (10 cents apiece…). I will then decide if the project I planned with those things can come to fruition in the present. If so, I will make things and sell them on my Etsy site. If not, I will get rid of them.

I know this was a bit choppy, but I just needed to write something. This is the first step.


A Long Absence


I have not written in my blog in ages – I think the last entry was at the end of July, from Oaxaca.  So, obviously, I am not in the running to be one of those people who make money or generate thousands of followers with my blog.  Oh, well.

I am sitting at the Toyota Service Center – a really nice place, actually.  There is everything one could need for survival: tables, comfortable chairs, wi-fi, coke machines, a bathroom.  I may stay until my car is ready or call my husband to pick me up and come back later.  At the moment, I am cool.

Before I came, I went by the Georgia Bakery and picked up a chicken and pesto sandwich on French c0untry whole wheat and an almond croissant.  Despite its name, it is really a French bakery, and the proprietor, Olivier hails from France.  He makes his own bread and pastries, and has a great selection of sanwiches, panini, and ready-made quiches and savory pies available.

So, now I am checked in, settled in and eating my brunch.  I had planned on waking up at 8AM and coming up here earlier, but it is REALLY difficult for me to get up before 10AM on a weekend morning.  So I had to wait for a while to get checked in.  No problem – I’ve got time.

Lately, I have been busy with school, thinking about lesson plans to follow up my National Endowment of the Humanities Mesoamerican Institute in Oaxaca, and when I haven’t been busy with those things, I have been going out to eat too much and sleeping or napping when I can.

This year, to our surprise, we have twice the number of ESOL students than we had anticipated.  Pretty impressive, considering the measures that Cobb County is taking to scare immigrants off from our neck of the woods.  Actually, a small number of our students are new immigrants.  Unfortunately many of them have been in the United States for a very long time, which begs the question: why are they still in ESOL?

If there are any ESOL teachers reading this, it may not surprise them at all that a student can be a U.S. citizen, educated from kindergarten in the U.S. school system, and still be in the program.  Increasingly, the role of the ESOL teacher is becoming one of school detective and site interventionist.  I have been looking through files, requesting student files from other schools, and speaking directly with whomever I can to get a clue.

Several students have been in our school system since kindergarten, yet their ACCESS scores are below a 5 on the scale.  This means that teachers are reluctant to exit them from the program.  It is both a legalistic move and one that is made for self-preservation.  The fact is that with all of the “Reduction in Force” in school systems last year, the ESOL program lost a lot of teachers.

I won’t go off on my soapbox (or is that “get up on my soapbox” OR “go off”?) about how I feel about keeping students in the program past their “prime”.  I has been happening since I switched over to teaching ESOL 8 years ago.  The practices back then, when we were administering a placement test called the LAB were a little more open to interpretation.  I and other teachers could make the call as to whether a student still needed to be in the program, or needed to be exited for his or her own good.

There are basically three reasons why students do not make significant progress after being in ESOL for over 3 or 4 years.

  • Reason 1:  Lack of motivation – the fact is that they are comfortable with their friends and the perceived easier curriculum (Yes, it IS possible to fail a placement test on purpose).
  • Reason 2:  Truancy or excessive moving around – since they are forced to follow the cheaper rental rate or the more lucrative job market, immigrant families ten to move around a lot.
  • Reason 3:  Undiagnosed learning disabilities – some students may NEVER pass the ESOL program exit criteria, OR the ITBS, OR the CRCT.  Keeping them in the ESOL program often means that these problems are classified as “Limited English” problems.

And so it goes.  Now, I am not at all enthusiastic about there being a dearth of students for me to teach.  This might mean that I will have to go back to teaching French – in the MYP program, all students are required to take a foreign language.  Or, I could be called upon to employ one of my other certifications:  Middle Grades Language Arts and/or my “magically” appearing certification in Middle Grades Social Studies.  This means that I would have to cope with 4 times the student load, with the accompanying organizational and discipline challenges.

But, on the other hand, is it really fair to hold children back from getting the education and help that they really need – just to hang on to my job?  I don’t think so.  I am not trained to diagnose and accommodate Special Ed. students, and those students need to be identified and sent on to other people who can help them.

Also, with the big emphasis on student performance, I understand why many regular ed teachers would prefer NOT to have more unmotivated students in their classroom.  It’s easier to blame the problem on language acquisition.  I don’t know what the solution is – this is just what I happened to be able to write about today.

Three Kings Day is today


I bought two rosca de reyes yesterday at the Buford Highway Farmers Market.  Today is Three Kings Day and also the first day back for the students.  I thought that I would treat them to a little celebration.  By the way, I may not have been looking in the right places in the past for rosca, because it now seems pretty easy to find.  This morning, when I went to get serving plates at WalMart, they had them too.  They were bigger than the ones I bought for the same price.

While looking around for juice boxes or something for the kids to drink with their cake, I made up my mind to make some atole to serve as well.  The tradition is to drink chocolate atole, called champurrado, with the cake.  I bought some packets to make rice atole, knowing that I would have to augment the chocolate factor, and add sugar as well.  When I got back to the internet, I found that I had all of the necessary ingredients at home to make atole with harina de masa.  I still needed milk.

Here are some links on atole, while I’m at it:

I worked on the atole for a while, using bowls, two different sized pots, a strainer (to get the broken cinnamon sticks out), and whisks and spoons.  I can’t really describe what I did, but I followed the package directions and kept adding Hershey’s cocoa, brown sugar, molasses, cinnamon and vanilla and even a little more milk until I got something that was thick without being chocolate pudding.  Then I wondered how I was going to serve it hot at school…

I washed out an Igloo drink cooler and put it in there.  Then, my mother came up with the brilliant idea of using my slow cooker.  That’s what I did.  I brought it to school, poured the hot chocolate liquid in, and set it on high until it got hot, then turned it on low to keep warm until after lunch.  Worked like a charm.

We only ate one of the king cakes in class – there were two little babies in it.  That’s strange to me, because there is only one in a Louisiana or French cake.  I have another left over.  Maybe I’ll offer it up to the teachers, or maybe I will make bread pudding out of it.

Two years ago, I made bread pudding from pan de muertos.  I think I will do something similar with the king cake.  It already has candied fruit on the top. I may take that off and chop it up instead of putting in the ate candy as I did in the recipe below.

Bread of the Dead Pudding

1 pan de muertos (large) cut into 1/2-inch cubes
8 large eggs
2 cups whipping cream
2 cups whole milk
1 cup sugar and 1 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup calvados (apple brandy) or dark rum
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 cup ate candy (or buy a brick of ate and cut into cubes)
1/2 cup raisins (I only had brown, but golden might be nice)

Place bread cubes in 13 x 9 x 2-inch baking pan. Whisk eggs, whipping cream, milk, sugar, calvados, and vanilla extract in large bowl to blend. Pour over bread cubes (I used a square baking pan and was afraid it would overflow, so I used a 1/2 cup measure to add the custard a little at a time.  I worked out perfectly) Let stand 30 minutes, occasionally pressing bread into custard mixture. (Can be prepared 2 hours ahead. Cover and refrigerate.)

Preheat oven to 350°F. Bake until pudding is set in center, about 50 to 60 minutes. Cool slightly. Serve warm.

Happy Three Kings Day!

Common Themes in Magic Tree House and Time Warp Trio:Part 2


Wow!  It was three months ago today that I wrote Part 1 about common themes and topics in the Magic Tree House and Time Warp Trio Series.  I really like these books because they teach history and culture (the MTH series also addresses science and nature), as well as reading.  Here are the other topics I gleaned from my research.

Cowboys and Indians:   In the Magic Tree House Series, there are a couple of possible books to be read together with the Time Warp Trio book.  Perhaps it could be the project for a group of three students.  There’s Ghost Town at Sundown, where  Jack and Annie go back to the Old West (1880?) and are accused of being horse thieves.  In Buffalo Before Breakfast, they go back to the Great Plains almost 200 years ago and meet a Lakota Sioux boy who hunts buffalo.  The activity guide for Ghost Town is here and the one for Buffalo is here.

In The Good, The Bad and The Goofy, the Time Warp Trio is transported to the Wild West.  They meet the cowboys and the Indians, showing both sides of the frontier battle.  This story is also available on the DVD Past, Present & Future.  Even though it is discontinued by the manufacturer, you may still be able to pick one up on eBay or used on Amazon.  Here is a link to the lesson plan, which has a lot of resources to go with it.

Ancient Rome and Pompeii: Vacation Under the Volcano is the Magic Tree House book that takes Jack and Annie to Pompeii – just before the volcano erupts!  There are two on-line activity resources: one here and another here.  But there is also a Magic Tree House Research Guide on Ancient Rome and Pompeii.  Be aware  that the reading level of the Research Guides is higher than that of the series books.

See You Later, Gladiator is Book 9 of the Time Warp Trio series and they go from an innocent wrestling match to the Roman Colosseum.  See You Later, Gladiator was also part of the TV series, but it is on neither of the DVDs released by that company.  There is a great lesson plan to go with it called Gladiators.

Ancient China:  Day of the Dragon King – the only thing I don’t like so much about the Magic Tree House is that sometimes they are not precise in the stating the date.  The fact that Jack and Annie go through a tomb housing clay soldiers must refer to the the terra cotta army in Xi’an.  That would be sometime after 210 B.C.  Here are the activities from the MTH site.

In contrast, the Time Warp Trio books and TV episodes give a timeline or date (usually)  to orient oneself (Orient – get it?).  Wushu Were Here, I think, is a graphic novel set in China as well.  It is set in the Tang Dynasty, which is after 600 A.D.  There is an interesting lesson plan resource with some cool ideas for further reading.

Vikings:  Vikings are fun, right?  In MTH Viking Ships at Sunrise, Jack and Annie see the Vikings attach from the island where they are land in the middle of a monastery.  I think that one of the activities highlights illuminated writing, which was done by the monks at that time.

In Viking It and Liking It, the Time Warp Trio lands on Leif Ericsson’s ship.  The story was also made into an episode on their series, which is available on Time Warp Trio:  Passport to Adventure.  The lesson plan has, among other activities, a Viking Jeopardy Game.

I still have three more to go – later!

Lazy Day…


It hasn’t rained yet, but I am still in bed.  I know that I need to eat, and I will, sometime soon.  But I am sooooo tired.  It took me over an hour and a half to get home last night.  Next time, I just won’t listen to my GPS when she (her name is Garmina) tells me of alternate routes that involve two lane roads that are already known as alternates to others…

When I finally got back on track – back to I-285, about 3 or 4 miles past where I got off earlier – I had to stop at a restaurant for cheese dip, chips, and to write in my paper journal for a while.  I am seriously thinking of just staying at school until 6 or 7 PM – maybe walking the track, writing my novel, taking a nap in my classroom – until it is “safe” to go home.  Maybe this was just a bad week for traffic…

When I did try to get up around noon, I went downstairs and found out that someone had drunk my last Diet Coke.  That sent me back to bed pretty quickly.  When my husband got home from working out, he went and got me another 12-pack, so I have been up since.

I went down to check my e-mail and my FaceBook, and got this in my Daily OM Horoscope:

September 26, 2009
Staying Vital
Leo Daily Horoscope

You might feel tired today, especially if your work life and social activities have been hectic. You could feel a sense of burnout or weariness as a result, even if you have been enjoying yourself. Taking some time for yourself to rest and recharge could lift your mood and restore your energy again. Today would be a good day to engage in soothing or creative diversions like painting or crafts. You might also consider putting everything aside and doing nothing at all. While this may seem boring, allowing yourself a chance to sit in peaceful silence today so you can rest your mind and body could have incredible restorative power.

Engaging in relaxing activities can reduce stress, soothe our senses, and restore our energy so that we can enjoy our regular activities again. Stress and busyness tend to create a cumulative effect in our minds and bodies, so we might not initially notice that we are doing too much until we begin to lose our motivation. Once we become aware of our fatigue, we can simply choose to engage in restorative activities and regain our vitality. Even better, if we make these activities a regular part of our lives, we can avoid reaching the point of excessive fatigue. Giving yourself the gift of rest and relaxation today can help you release stress and stay energized.

Wow!  Permission to be a lazy person all day long… Just what I needed!  I may get up and go to see a movie – I haven’t seen the new Harry Potter yet…  But now, I am committed to doing as little as possible.  Maybe I’ll order a pizza.

Common Topics in Magic Tree House and Time Warp Trio


In a previous post, I wrote about chapter books.  In particular, I wrote about the Magic Tree House Series by Mary Pope Osborne and the Time Warp Trio Series by Jon Scieska.

Magic Tree House and Time Warp Trio common themes:

Knights and Castles:  The MTH series has kind of a connection with Camelot and Medieval England, because they communicate with Merlin the Magician, and – I think – Morgan La Fey.  Therefore, we have The Knight at Dawn and Christmas in Camelot to work with – I think that The Knight at Dawn is probably more relevant.  There is also a MTH Research Guide called Knights and Castles available.  The two activity sheets – here and here – are pretty basic.

As far as knights and castles are concerned, The Time Warp Trio has a book called The Knights of the Kitchen Table, but there are no lesson plans to go with it because the lesson plans are only for the TV series episodes.  There is, however, a book and episode about Medieval Scotland called Plaid to the Bone in graphic novel form.  So, if you feel like doing some activities about Medieval Scotland, check the lesson plan out.

Ancient Egypt:  MTH has a book called Mummies in the Morning, where Jack and Annie visit ancient Egypt.  There is a Research Guide called Mummies and Pyramids to go with the book.  An activity page to go with the book can be found here, and one to go with the Research Guide is here. If you scroll down, there are some possible activities described for each book, as well as a link to the worksheets.

The TWT counterpart is called Tut Tut – cute, huh? – where the guys go to (guess) ancient Egypt.  There is also an episode called Tut Tut in the TV series, which means that there are lesson plans to go with it.  The lesson plans on the Time Warp Trio website are much more involved that the Magic Tree House activities and lesson plans, but both offer other resources that are useful.

Arrrrgh! Pirates: In Pirates Past Noon, Jack and Annie run afoul of the mythical Cap’n Bones.  The Research Guide, called simply Pirates, goes into more detail and chronicles some of the more infamous pirates.  It has some great illustrations and a timeline with the history of piracy.  I don’t seem to have a link to the activities for Pirates Past Noon, but here is a link to the activities for the Research Guide.

In The Not-So-Jolly-Roger, the Time Warp Trio (Joe, Sam, and Fred) accidentally travel back to the early 18th century and meet Blackbeard.  It’s a little more exciting than MTH, but then, it’s supposed to be.  These books are written on a higher reading level, as well.  The series episode is also called The Not-So-Jolly-Roger and is available on the Passport to Adventure DVD – if you would like to show it.  The lesson plans are here.

Ninja and Samurai – 17th Century Japan: MTH’s Night of the Ninjas, Jack and Annie travel back to Ancient Japan, and find themselves in the cave of a ninja master This could be any time between the 14th and the 17th centuries, according to our ninja sources.  In Dragon of the Red Dawn, they travel to 17th century Japan, to the city of Edo.  There, they meet Basho – a (haiku) poet – there’s more information on page 107 of the book.  There is no Research Guide to go with this era, but is are activities for Ninja here, and Dragon here.

In TWT’s Sam Samurai, the boys also travel to 17th century Japan.  Keeping with the “haiku” theme, Joe, Sam, and Fred are writing haikus for English class.  When they take a break, they get transported and meet some surly samurai warriors.  Since an episode of the series was also based on Sam Samurai, there are nifty lesson plans that may fill in the gap left by no MTH Research Guide.

Neanderthals and the Ice Age:  In MTH’s Sunset of the Sabertooth, Jack and Annie are transported to the Ice Age – in their bathing suits!!!  This book comes with a Research Guide called Sabertooths and the Ice Age.  The book also covers Neanderthals and other animals of the Ice Age.  Here is a link to activities to go with the book and here is one that goes with the Research Guide.

The Time Warp Trio also has a book where they visit the Ice Age.  It is called Your Mother was a Neanderthal.  For some reason, they changed the name for the TV series episode.  It’s called The Caveman Catastrophe.  Here are the lesson plans that accompany the episode.

Chapter Book Project: Magic Tree House & Time Warp Trio



A couple of years ago, I got turned on to the Magic Tree House Series – I had already seen a bit of the Time Warp Trio books.  Both series are educational, featuring time travel to different eras and places.

The Magic Tree House series is an award-winning and bestselling series of children books written by American author, Mary Pope Osborne.

In the first series, consisting of the first 28 books, Morgan sends Jack and Annie on numerous adventures and missions in order to help free Morgan from a spell, solve four ancient riddles to become Master Librarians, and save four ancient stories from being lost forever. After the twenty-eighth chapter book, Mary Pope Osborne started a second series called the Magic Tree House “Merlin Missions”. In these missions, Jack and Annie have quests from the ancient wizard Merlin the Magician. These books are longer than the previous 28, and some take place in fantasy realms like Camelot.

All together, there are 44 fiction books named. Their titles are listed below. In addition, a number of Magic Tree House Research Guides (nonfiction companions to the series) have been written by the author, her husband Will and her sister Natalie Pope Boyce. These books contain more information about the historical places and events which Jack and Annie visit in the Magic Tree House Series.

0439161894_xlgTime Warp Trio books are written by Jon Scieszka.  The series follows Joe, Sam and Fred, three ordinary 10-year-old city kids who get warped back in time thanks to a magic book Joe received from his flaky magician uncle. When the book opens, a pale green mist whisks them through time and space on extraordinary adventures — dueling with gladiators in Ancient Rome, marching to battle with the Samurai in Shogun Japan, or meeting Blackbeard the pirate on the open seas.

Things get really interesting when the boys bump into their own great-granddaughters — Jodie, Samantha and Freddi — three 10-year-old girls living in the year 2105.  As with all great action-adventure stories, the two trios must use their skills and their smarts to outwit the bad guys, survive and figure out how to warp back home.

The Time Warp Trio was made into an animated TV series, and there are two DVD’s available of the episodes.  The first is called Time Warp Trio, Vol. 1 Passport to Adventure and the second is called Time Warp Trio: Past, Present & Future.  Not all of the episodes are included, but the series seems to be running on the Discovery Kids Channel at 2:30PM and 10:30PM.  Discovery Kids has a fansite for the Time Warp Trio with games and episode summaries, too.

Random House also has a website for the Magic Tree House books.  If you go there, you can download a “passport” that can be “stamped” each time a student finishes a book (if they get the 3 questions right).  There are also activities and lesson plans included – as you will see below – but some of the links don’t work.  If that happens, scroll down on the page you land on and you will find it.  Magic Tree House also provides activity worksheets in PDF format, some that are better than others.

I also wanted to give props to whoever organized the Magic Tree House Wikipedia page.  It is a really good resource, with plot summaries of all of the books as well as descriptions of the Research Guides.

Now, back to the Time Warp Trio.  There is also a website devoted to the TV series made by the TWT team.  There are games and fun things to do for the kids.  If you go to the link that says Teachers/Parents, you will find resources for each TV episode.  As you will see below, that means some of the books are left out.  You will also find really nice lesson plans for each episode, organized by show and also by historical topic.

I am writing about all of this because I wanted to come up with a lesson plan/unit/project incorporating both Magic Tree House and Time Warp Trio books.  I will talk about common themes in those books and the resources that are available through their websites in my next post.

Is grad school really for me?


Just recently, I sent an e-mail to a friend of mine about grad school.  I chose her for a couple of reasons – she has endured the grad school process, and I respect her opinion.  For some reason, I was considering it. For the most part, my attitude was that, if I was just looking for more money, I could make that happen with my art.

The last time I darkened a college classroom was maybe 12 or 13 years ago, when I returned to Louisiana to enroll in the Francophone Studies program at the University of Louisiana: Lafayette (back then it was USL – University of Southwestern Louisiana).  After one semester, I decided that this track was not for me, and was able to take Spanish, and some education courses.  That is how I got re-certified and returned to teaching.

I had looked into Arts Integration in the past, and the only place the offers a program is Towson University.  They offer what they call a Post-Baccalaureate Certificate in Arts Integration.  But it doesn’t look like AI has earned a place in degree-dom.  I do think that art is a very valuable tool in teaching – especially in teaching reading.  I was just looking for something “official” to take to back up that interest.

Last night, I did some research on degrees in Children’s Literature.  I took notes on Penn State, which has an online Master of Education and Curriculum – Children’s Literature.   That might be a possibility, but I have to be ready to spend what looks like $1900 per class.  Ouch!

Hollins University looked really attractive.  Here is the intro to their webpage on the Master’s Degree in Children’s Literature:

“Hollins offers summer M.A. and M.F.A. programs exclusively in the study and writing of children’s literature. One of the few in the country to offer humanities graduate degrees in children’s literature, we are, we believe, the only one to offer them in the study and writing of children’s literature.”

So, I could choose to study and/or write children’s literature.  But couldn’t I write on my own?  Summers in Roanoke might be fun.  Also, they seem to have an occasional trip to England for a summer class.  That would be fun!

I also really liked Simmons College’s program, as they offer an M.A or an M.F.A in Children’s Literature.  Here is a quote from their degree introduction:

The Center for the Study of Children’s Literature (CSCL) at Simmons College administers the nation’s first Master of Arts in Children’s Literature as well as a Master of Fine Arts (M.F.A.) in Writing for Children. The CSCL provides a rigorous, disciplined study of children’s books for those who are — or who intend to be — involved in teaching, library services, publishing, writing, or related fields. To develop a critical vocabulary essential for appraising text and illustration, students apply a high level of scholarly analysis to children’s literature ranging from folklore and mythology to contemporary realistic fiction and nonfiction.

The only problem is that it looks like an all-year program, and it’s not online. I don’t think we can move to Boston at this time…

There were others, but they were mainly Education Degrees, or English Literature Degrees with a concentration in Children’s Literature.  Often, that meant only 3 classes – not a lot of depth, it seems.

So, the search goes on.  I still don’t know if grad school is for me, however.

On the way home…


We left our lovely yurt this morning and headed home via Franklin, NC and then the John C. Campbell School.  As we were driving outside of Franklin on Hwy. 441, we passed by a fairground with a huge tent and a row of smaller tents.  We decided to turn around and check it out, thinking it was a flea market.  After findAmmonitecutPairLging a parking place – the place was packed! – we found out it was a Rock, Fossil, and Gem Show.

We walked through the outside tents only, because you had to have a business/wholesale license to get into the big tent.  But we saw plenty!  There were tons of rocks and beads and geodes and fossils.  I cannot even imagine how one would transport all of that stuff from venue to venue!  There was a cut geode as tall as a man there!  And at one booth, there were all sorts of skulls – including some huge buffalo skull with horns that were 3 feet long!  I really wanted that one!

There were also some pretty non-PC items for sale.  I am not talking about the onyx phalluses – although I have no idea what the market for that might be…  I’m talking about one wholesaler that specialized in glass shadow boxes with everything from butterflies to bats to giant bugs to lizards impaled on pins within.  It was very fascinating and educational, too.

We did buy a couple of things:  I bought a sharks tooth fossil pendant ($1) for my nephew and a lovely golden glass lampwork bracelet ($2) and my husband bought a nautilus shell fossil from Madagascar for only $8.  We were even able to bargain the dealer down to $10 for the whole lot ($1 off!).  I only had a $20 bill, and I knew he would rather give us a $10 bill rather than a $5 and four $1.  I was tempted to buy a strand of carved rose beads – there was one place that had so many colors, but I liked the red and turquoise ones.  They were $14 a strand, but I declined.  Luckily, I found some on Ebay that were comparable.

Here is what I think we attended:

22-25–FRANKLIN, NORTH CAROLINA: 44th annual show, “Macon County Gemboree”; Gem & Mineral Society of Franklin; Macon County Community Bldg., US Hwy. 441S; Wed. 10-6, Thu. 10-6, Fri. 10-6, Sat. 10-6; adults $2, children 12 and under free; minerals, beads, handcrafted jewelry, rough and cut stones, lapidary equipment, demonstrations, door prizes, gold and silver jewelry, findings, jewelry repairs and mounting; contact Linda Harbuck, 425 Porter St., Franklin, NC 28734, (800) 336-7829; e-mail:; Web site:

b.pendant.sharks.tooth.smIt was great.  We did not stop for long at the John C. Campbell School – just enough time to show my husband the main buildings.  Then, we had to go back to Hiawassee to the barbecue place to retrieve my purse…  Thank you, people of Smoke Rings in Hiawassee!  Great barbecue brisket, too!

So now, I am almost down to the single digits – meaning in the countdown to starting the school year.  I can honestly say that this summer was great – it seemed to go by just slowly enough!  I got to go for a week to camp (John C. Campbell), to Jackson to see the Raoul Dufy exhibit, we got a new bed and bedspread, I was in an art show, and we just got back from a great short break in North Carolina.  Fun!

Now, I kind of want to go back to Franklin to that show!  That’s okay – we have Folk Fest coming up soon.  Even though I cannot afford to be a part of it, I like visiting and looking at the art.  Oh, and I may be going down to Callaway Gardens to meet my sis and her family for one day.

A Little More About Huichol Art


After my post the other day, I immediately received a message from Stephen Cantrell from the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture in Santa Fe, NM.  He said that the museum will be holding a major exhibition of Huichol works from the museum’s holdings (more than 650 pieces!) opening in April of 2010.  I can hardly wait!  My husband and I were tentatively planning a trip out west this summer, but have put it off again.  Maybe now, we can plan for 2010.  I hope that the exhibit will run through the summer!  If not, we may have to make it a Spring Break trip!

I also heard from Susana Valadez, who is the driving force behind the Huichol Center for Cultural Survival and Traditional Arts, which does fantastic things for the Huichol people.  I just spent the last couple of hours at the Huichol Centers site (or sites?  They must be in transition.)  Actually I had visited that site earlier this year, but did not have it noted in my files.  They have SOOOOOO much to offer – you MUST visit the site!

The first link Mrs. Valadez provided features a wonderful 24 slide presentation of just what her foundation does for the Huichol people in her area.  It’s fascinating and easy reading – it even mentions the Solar Light initiative I mentioned in the previous post.  I was particularly enthralled by the “soy initiative” which provides needed protein and soy milk to these people.  Now, I am not a fan of tofu, but it sure beats a lot of other proposed ideas for feeding the world…

If you go to the “other” site for the Huichol Center for Cultural Survival and Traditional Arts, you will find a well-produced 12 minute video presentation about the work done at the center.  There are also FABULOUS coloring books – one of the Huichol alphabet and one of the counting in Huichol and Spanish – in PDF form to print out.  This is a fantastic resource for school teachers – just go.

I immediately wanted to go down and volunteer both my expertise (teaching English as a Second Language) and my husband’s (computer tech support) and stay for a while.  Maybe later.  For now, I may just order some of their jewelry or cards from the website and make a donation.  Donations are welcome, and they will send a thank you note as proof for the old IRS.  So, you people who are complaining about immigration – here’s a chance to support sustainability on the other side of the border:  put your money over there!

Please continue to add comments as you find other resources – I always welcome feedback!