Wednesday, April 30, 2008

April Freeze?

Last night driving home (I was gong to ride my bike, but it was tooo cold!) from Matthew's kindergarten program, I noticed folks out in their gardens placing sheets and newspapers on their spring flowers and early gardens.

Because I am a seasoned gardener, I know what needs covering and what doesn't...I also know that I wouldn't dare plant tomatoes or peppers until the middle of May.

And, yes, we had a heavy frost last night. The ground has a pale sheen of ivory mist this morning...Winter cannot let go this year!

Lou Ann

Monday, April 28, 2008

This week's article, first posted in the H/R

This was published last week in the H/R on my spring dinner theatre production. Enjoy!

I open up the back door of my ‘Backstage’ at Hamilton. I stand back in the early morning light to take a good look at my classroom. It isn’t much. I moved into it at the beginning of the school year with, what I call, deep despair. It is a beige tin trailer. Beige. It is dented from years of playground balls and frisbies and, probably, a few young hefty children bumping into it as they go for a fly ball or tag. The steps crumbled this winter and were replaced. Both sets were replaced on the same day in February which left me for a short time with no entrance or exit. It was a day of pondering, or reckoning…as the old folks would say. Step inside with me. The lights are harsh, the carpet is old and something was once spilled on the center of it. The heaters rattle so I have to turn them off when talking. In the heart of winter, the wind whistles up through the tin making us feel like Laura from Little House on the Prairie during the long blizzard.

The children do not see any of that. I go inside and create our work space. I plug in the many twinkle lights. Push the play button for the music and look at my classroom, my workshop, my studio. In this space of time and dust, the products are children.

My after school arts classes have produced a show, a performance, an original play that will showcase today eight times! I think back on these past four months working with each group. The writers were first, all fourth grade. We began our work as the Writer’s Strike ended. I did my best to explain it to them. They understood and did their work seriously….without asking for a raise. When the script was ready, they did their cast call as if they were Broadway directors. They invited each student in to try out and show off their skills. They wrote a Western so they were also looking for a Howdy Partner in a great western dialect. Choosing the cast was difficult for them, but the show was finally posted and we went into rehearsals. The script writers would often show up to check out their work and give advice as well as design programs and costumes.

The Backstage is ready and class after class crowds into this space. The audience must help solve this Gold Rush mystery. The character names are as colorful as their personalities. Gizard. Sally Jo. Ruby Mae, Dixie Lee. John Padre. Lex. Daniel Doom. Billy Bob. They take their places in the freezing tradition of French Tableau. I start the music…a great selection of honky tonk Saloon music and we begin.

I smile and laugh as if I have not seen this production for, oh, a hundred times? They are delightful and this group of actors all in the 4th, 5th, and 6th grade are engaged and intent on their character. Six steps and a door I am always saying…be your character! And today they are. They end with a square dance and a flourish.

At three in the afternoon tables and decorations are set up for the country Western dinner that accompanies our show. We are now a dinner theatre, tickets…$2.00. The shows are a sell out at that. My principal, Kimberly, and a loving group of mothers work tirelessly filling plates with barbeque and baked beans. The script writers become the waiters and servers and we, the actors and actresses wait in the green room. I tell them how in real green rooms, the actors take naps or do puzzles or yoga. These children would rather run around and holler.

It is the eighth show…they are stunning, and I am proud. We eat. We tear down. We bid farewell. It is dark as I pack up my guitar, unplug the lights, pick up the last of the playbills scattered on the old carpet floor. With the bright lights on and all the kids gone, it is just a trailer, an old tin trailer. I notice a few new spots on the floor, but it doesn’t really matter. I load my car with cans of beans, our table decorations, and return them to Hamilton Super Value. It is nice to live in small towns where you can borrow thirty cans of beans!

I meander home over the country roads and make my turn around the mound, and I am home.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Happy Earth Day.

Here are twenty ways to save the Earth...according to my first grade Flair class. They are keeping earth journals this spring with their families recording all the wonderful changes in the earth...from daffocils to the full. It has been a great family project and very earth friendly!! (Also see Sunday attached to the web..thanks to Jeff!!)

I have also added a book category for your perusal on great earth day books for all ages!! Enjoy!

How to Save the World!
(according to Mrs. Friend’s first grade class!)

1. Recycle
2. Pick up trash
3. Clean your yard
4. Water your garden with recycled water
5. Don’t litter.
6. Don’t park your car or truck on the grass.
7. Help hurt animals
8. Clean up your community
9. Don’t cut down trees, use dead wood for firewood.
10. Plant trees.
11. Plant a garden
12. Save endangered animals and plants.
13. Don’t put batteries in the trash
14. Hang out your laundry, do not use the dryer.
15. Don’t drive if you don’t have to.
16. Carpool
17. Walk or ride your bike whenever you can.
18. Turn your heat down, wear sweaters.
19. Use cloth bags when shopping.
20. Use the library instead of buying books and READ.

The first grade has made this list for you to keep on your refrigerator or on your bulletin board. Thank you for helping to keep our world clean and beautiful.

Great books about the environment!
Be a Friend to Trees by Patricia Lauber
Almost Gone by Steve Jenkins
Changing Climate by Sally Morgan
Compost: Growing Gardens from your Garbage by Linda Glaser
The Day The Trash Came out To Play by David Beadle
The Earth and I by Frank Asch
Earth Day Birthday by Pattie Schnetzier
Earthsong by Sally Rogers
The Great Kapok Tree by Lynne Cherry
The Little House by Virginia Lee Burton
The Lorax by Dr. Seuss
Anna’s Table by Eve Bunting
The Polar Bears are Hungry by Carol Carrick

The Story of Rachel Carson by Amy Ehrlich
Swan Song: Poems of Extinction by J. Patrick Lewis
Tracking Trash by Loree Griffin Burns
The Man Who Planted Trees by Jean Giono
John Muir by Sally Tolan
Henry David’s House by Thoreau

A Sand County Almanac by Aldo Lepold
Last Child in the Woods by Richard Louv
The World Without Us by Alan Weisman
Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver

Monday, April 14, 2008

Gene Stratton Porter

Philip and I spent Saturday touring and visiting the home site of Gene Stratton Porter in Rome City, Indiana. It was a gray, rainy day and we were the only visitors. A draft horse plow event was to have been scheduled, but folks were worried that the horses would sink! It was, nonetheless, a great time and fun to have the place to ourselves. Of course I have been there many times, but it was nice to show it off a bit to Philip. She was an extraordinary woman. If you aren't familiar with her books, here are a few to start with: The Girl of the Limberlost, Freckles, and Laddie.

Lou Ann Homan-Saylor lives in Angola, Indiana which is nestled in the hills of Northern Indiana and spends her summers on the wind swept island of Ocracoke. You can find her gardening or writing late into the night under the light of her frayed scarlet lamp. She is a storyteller, a teacher, a writer, an actress and a collector of front porch stories.

Mainstage Players

Just a thought on the high school production this week. My congratulations to John Curtis and his Mainstage Players for an outstanding job with The Hunchback of Notre Dame. There were more than 53 in the cast including some elementary students. My theatre attempts at Hamilton are so much smaller. We do not have such a wonderful auditorium including lights, sound etc. Although we do have fun and lots of help. It is great to know the arts not only is surviving but is blooming!

Lou Ann

Lou Ann Homan-Saylor lives in Angola, Indiana which is nestled in the hills of Northern Indiana and spends her summers on the wind swept island of Ocracoke. You can find her gardening or writing late into the night under the light of her frayed scarlet lamp. She is a storyteller, a teacher, a writer, an actress and a collector of front porch stories.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Sunday Morning Thoughts

It is a cozy, rainy-snow day here in northern Indiana. I often brag (is that the right word?)that the snow settles in on us from Halloween until mid-April. Us northerners are tough, are we not? A few lovely days were squeezed into the middle so that I could rake and prune my raspberries and my honeysuckle. It took most of the neighborhood to help cut down the honeysuckle, but the trellis must be painted this year so out it went.

Philip came on Saturday afternoon and after a brief, I am so glad to see you, I stuck a rake into his hands. It is helpful to have two int he garden. The week has been fun with lots of events including a trip to Wing Haven, girl's pot luck, line dancing, Take Back the Night, a visit to Gene Stratton Porter's home in Rome City, the Angola high school spring play and now a cozy day inside to catch up. I have bread rising in the kitchen, candles burning in the living room and Philip working on his book in the library. What more could a girl want?

Lou Ann

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Home, sweet home...

It was a wonderful trip to Portland, Oregon to see Abe, Kristin and little Holly.
(see stories that will follow!) It is hard to have a son and his family so far away, but we did make the most of the trip just spending time together. Holly actually learned to crawl while I was there and repeatedly said, Nannie' with a French twist on the second syllable!! The weather was cold and rainy and I feel maybe I am the carrier of the inclimate weather. We actually had snow each day. Lovely huge flakes!
We spent Saturday at the wintery in the hills outside of Portland. It was stunning to view these orchards! Acres and acres of vineyards. The wine was excellent as well. I brought one home in a new plastic container in my suitcase. I was a bit leery about the situation, but it arrived home perfectly well!!

Now, spring break is over, and back to work to finish the school year, and enjoy Spring (yes, it will be here)in Indiana!!

Lou Ann