Monday, February 04, 2008

Sunday, February 03, 2008

The Breakup

Dear Blogger,

It's been great. You know it has.

When I first met you, the spark was there. I felt a tingling in my heart just thinking about you. I couldn't wait to spend time with you, sharing my innermost feelings and inspirations.

But it just hasn't been the same recently. I don't know. It's not you -- it's me.

It's true... I have been seeing another blog. I'm sorry, I know it's cruel... but Wordpress is just so easy to be with. I wasn't looking for a new blog, but it just happened. Wordpress completes me. It was just meant to be.

I'll see you often in my blogroll. I hope we can still be friends. I'd like that.


Saturday, February 02, 2008


Check it out -- I finally got my new classroom blog moved:

I am such a huge fan of Wordpress! I have been considering switching to Wordpress, but didn't want to do it until I could figure out how to put it on my own server. Suzanne was able to show me just how do-able it is and the school's Computer Guy was able to install it in no time! This is really good becaue it makes the site more secure (since it's on our server) and allows a team of users to help edit the site. I love it!

I'm going to be moving this blog to Wordpress as soon as it gets installed on my server. Hold tight -- it won't be long!

Friday, February 01, 2008

Yeah, but is it art?

Wow! I'm getting readers from all over!

Rick tried to comment on my blog about the Vietnam Wall, but I have anonymous commenting turned off, so he emailed me, instead. Here's what he had to say*:

I tried to make a comment on your blog after reading it, but I guess you have to be a member. Here's what I had to say. I made a cross country trip to D.C. a year ago and I saw the statues,painting, fountains and I knew they were pieces of"art". Like most people, some I liked and some made little or no impression on me. When I came to TheWall and I walked down into the valley of names it was no longer a monument or someone's work of art.

Something that moving to an old man like me can't be art. Art has never made me cry like a child. Art has never touched me like it did when I
reached out and ran my finger tips across my friend's name. So what is
it? Rebecca, if you can, find a word that describes this remarkable phenomenon.

With respect,

And here's my reply:

Picasso's Guernica.

Hey, Rick -- that's my brother's name, too. Thanks for the comment. Yeah, I did have to turn off anonymous commenting because I
want to be able to prevent idiots from posting nasty things I don't want my kids to see. It's sad that I have to be that protective, but that's
how it is.

Anyway, I'm an art teacher, so I've got to argue with you a little but if you say that art can't move people. Not all art, maybe -- I'll give you that. Or maybe it's a personal thing, and what moves me might be different from what moves you. The BEST art moves us to feel things we didn't expect to feel, or to think about things in a new way. Take Picasso's "Guernica." You can't look at that and not feel the chaos and terror of the people during the Spanish Civil War. Or, how could anybody not look at Mary Cassatt's "The Maternal Kiss" and not feel nostalgic about good childhood memories?

Maybe you just haven't experienced the right art, yet. :) Great art, like great music or great theater, great literature, or great poetry can be intimidating, and sometimes it's plain hard to find. But it's out there. And the Wall is definitely great art -- look, it brought both of us to tears. We
totally didn't see that one coming.

God's peace,

So, readers, what do you think? What is art to you? Has a work of art ever moved you to feel something you didn't expect? What is the most moving work of art you've ever seen? Has a work of art ever made you cry? Let me know -- I'm interested in getting a lot of different viewpoints, here.

*any weird typos came from copying and pasting from email into Blogger. I tried to fix what I could, but I think it made it worse, so I'm quitting while I'm ahead.

On an unrelated note...
I will soon be moving my blog to . This blog is currently accessable there, but the new blog will be a Wordpress blog hosted on my website domain. So, take a moment to update your links to that address now so you won't miss anything during the move. Thanks!

The Old Country Buffet Hostage Crisis

This is our bus driver. We'll call him George. Isaac took this photo of George on the first day of our trip. George is a pretty cool guy -- he gave us a whole day's tour of D.C. for free, just because he loves the city. He did a pretty good job, too, cramming about a week's worth of touring into one day. It's kind of a blur, really... but we all had fun. Until dinner, anyway.

George has a dark side, though -- an addiction. And addiction can make a perfectly normal bus driver do some pretty crazy things. My friends, George is seriously addicted to the Old Country Buffet. All those fried foods, dripping with butter and gravy... all those desserts, lined up underneath the sneezeguard... the little happy "OC Bee" with his yellow, grinning, toddler's face... it all looks so innocent.

On the first day of the trip, we left a little later than expected, so we were running late for our lunch stop. George suggested that we get snacks at a truck stop he knew near Staunton, VA, and then drive on in and get dinner at Manassas because he knew "a really great place to eat." That sounded fine. We took a vote, and everyone agreed to wait for dinner.

When we rolled up in front of the "Old Country Buffet," my first thought was "oh, no. I HATE all you can eat buffets!" But the kids were starving and there was nothing else around so we went. It really wasn't bad. They had a decent salad bar, and the poached salmon on the seafood bar was really pretty good. Not my first choice... but I lived, right? It's all good.

Then, the next day, George took us on our tour. It was pretty awesome, I must say. He has the turbo-tour of D.C. down to a science, and since we just had a day to see the city, it was perfect! We did our tour, and were exhausted by the end of the day and were looking forward to experiencing something really great for dinner. Something local, and a little upscale. Something we couldnt' experience back home.

Once we all got on the bus, George gave us some options for dinner -- Union Station (has a lot of good stuff in a food court underground), a shopping mall (where we ate lunch, and I had some excellent Thai food), or another Old Country Buffet on the outskirts of town. One group on the bus wanted to go to Union Station, but George mentioned that he really didn't want to go there because bus parking would be an issue. Another group suggested we go back to the mall, but then he said we were going the wrong way and it was already late. So off we went to OCB, driving past all the lovely restaurants on King Street in Old Town Alexandria with the really great bus parking.

It was kind of funny at first. There were lots of jokes being throw around about how the bus driver was probably going to drive around and around until we all agreed to go to the OCB. But then the priest who planned the trip took the mic and said, "Guys, I think we're just going to go to the buffet." And then people got pissed!

It took almost an hour to get to the Old Country Buffet!!! It was clearly in a really bad part of town, in a strip mall with pawn shops and advance-check-cashing joints. The kids were starving, and my Mom was getting headachy and dizzy from not eating for hours and hours. Several elderly people on the trip were starting to get sick, and I was really NOT wanting to fill my belly with a bunch of greasy buffet food.

The majority of the people on the bus decided to walk to a Popeye's nearby, but I really didn't want fried anything, so Mom, the kids and I decided to go into the OCB. Once there, we were told that there would be an extra $5 fee added to our bills because we were part of a large group! The lady in front of us said, "forget that!" and hoofed it on over to Popeye's. I had to take Olivia to a restroom -- fast! -- and by the time I came back, the manager had been called to the mat, and agreed to charge us only $2 extra, "because it's Saturday."

By this point, the kids were tired, starving, and the thought of walking all the way to the Popeye's was out of the question, so we relented. The food was awful at this one -- the salad bar was brown and there wasn't any salmon. The bathroom was nasty... it was just really not a good experience.

The kicker came when the manager handed George a voucher -- for a free dinner, I presume. Heck, we would have paid for his din-din had he taken us somewhere we liked! The next day, we made it abundantly clear that we would not be stopping at another OCB -- so he took us to a mall where our choices were Taco Bell, KFC, or some Pizza joint that looked equally unhealthy. My digestive system is only beginning to get over it. (How did I ever survive college?!?) It's been a yogurt-and-salad week!

Lesson learned -- plan meals ahead-of time on bus trips or bring healthy snacks.

Thursday, January 31, 2008

The Lincoln Memorial

I am teh busy today... but I had to share these photos. I love the Lincoln Memorial. It has always held a certain magic for me, and I remember getting chills as I climbed the steps and his face emerged from the shadows when I visited last -- in sixth grade! It was so great to see my own children's expressions as they experienced the same thing during this trip.

Lincoln was an almost mythological character to me as a child. I grew up reading about him, just like Laura Ingalls Wilder and Gandhi. He was one of my earliest heroes, and I still love reading about him today. I am glad that my children are interested in history and in the same heroes that I loved reading about as a child. It's so neat to relive my childhood a little through my own kids. I get to re-experience childhood, but with the benefit of everything I've learned since then.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008


I think that the monuments in Washington D.C. are so embedded in our consciousness that we forget how meaningul and beautiful they are. I have to admit, my art-seeking goal in D.C. was more along the lines of the art museums and less about the monuments, but after revisiting those "must-see" sites with my kids, I realized that they are so much more impressive than most of us probably ever realize.

I think that the most touching monument is the Vietnam Memorial. I'm a big fan of Maya Lin's newer work, anyway, so I was able to view "the Wall" in the context of her other works. It's such an impressive piece, and I really don't think there is any way to experience it but to actually be there. You can't capture the experience in a photograph, or even in a miniature traveling exhibit, like the one that has been to WV in the not-too-distant past.

I'll admit, I cried like a little girl just looking at it -- especially in light of the current endless war with its enormous human cost. It hits too close to home. I never knew my Grandfather, who died in the Korean War when my Dad was only 3 years old. He was a kid, too -- only 25 years old, himself. My Dad has also served in just about every military activation since the Vietnam War, including Desert Storm and the current war. My cousins have also served, and I'm getting ready to see my Brother-in-Law off to Afghanistan this weekend.

It's funny how words are used for the soldiers who fall to somehow soften the blow. Casualty. Casualty? What the hell does that mean? These lives were just lost casually? Like "oops, we lost a few...?" That's bullshit. Each soldier is someone's Dad ... or brother. Or Mother. Or sister... each "casualty" is someone's life story cut short. Whether you support the current war or not, each life lost is a tragedy and there's no sugarcoating it. Seeing so many tragedies carved in inch-tall letters, stacked to the top of the wall and for 500-something feet is enough to move anybody to tears. Anybody with a heart, anyway...

And isn't that what great art is all about? Not necessarily making people cry... but making someone feel something unexpected. Great art should cause a reaction, in your mind or in your heart, and give you something to carry with you afterward. Who would have thought that a granite-lined gash in the ground could accomplish that? But it does.

Quiz Thing

This Is My Life, Rated
Life: 7.3
Mind: 6.9
Body: 6.4
Spirit: 8.8
Friends/Family: 5.7
Love: 3.6
Finance: 8.2
Take the Rate My Life Quiz

Quizzes are fun. This one asked a lot of interesting questions that really made me think about the things I have in my life. I'm a pretty lucky chick. I think I should have gotten more points in the friends/family area because I have really satisfying relationships with my friends and family. I think the downside for that category was that my Grandmother is very ill and I have some friends who are also not doing so well, and their problems weigh very heavily on my mind most of the time right now.

And yeah... I totally need to get more exercise.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008


I have entirely too much fun with Photoshop.

Trip to D.C. Part I

I love roadtrips. I really, really love to travel. I start packing weeks before the trip and count down the days -- that's how excited I get about going places. This trip was no exception. I knew it was going to be a blast and couldn't wait to show my kids all the cool things in Washington D.C. I am so lucky my boss gave me the time off to go. This is a trip the kids and I will remember for the rest of our lives. It was that much fun!

Because we had to pick up people from different churches in the southern WV area, we took the long way to D.C. and didn't get there until late in the evening. Our driver gave us a driving tour of some of the more famous sites in the downtown area, and then dropped us off at our hotel -- the Savoy Suites of Georgetown. I didn't have anything at all to do with planning the trip, so I really didn't know what we had in store for accomodations, but I was pleasantly surprised with the hotel. It's located near the cathedral (you could see it really well from our rooms) and we had a nice room with a kitchenette. There are plenty of places to eat near the hotel, and a Whole Foods just a block away (handy -- because I had to run there to buy cold medicine for Isaac.) It's a safe neighborhood, too -- lots of local residents jogging and out walking around. I was impressed with the service, too. I want to plan another trip to DC to stay longer and show the kids around, and I will definitely stay there again.

Dinner was not so great. We stopped at some place called the Old Country Buffet, which is a lot like Golden Corral and other all-you-can-eat buffets. I mean, it wasn't bad... I'm just not a big fan of quantity-over-quality, and there weren't many low-fat, low-carb options on the buffet, other than the salad bar. Even the veggie dishes were dripping with cheese, gravy, or fried. The kids liked it, though, and we were all hungry and tired of riding in the bus all day, so it was OK. Besides, the bus driver seemed to really, really want to take us there, so nobody complained too much. Little did we know what we had in store for the next evening...

I fell asleep with the curtains open, staring at the cathedral. It's such a gorgeous sight! It looks totally out of place in downtown Washington D.C. You would really expect to see it in Europe, or even New York, but not D.C. That night, I had dreams of walking around the cathedral grounds, looking up at it from the ground, with the moonlight falling down on the frosty carved stone, making the cathedral look like it was made of crystal.