favorite blue ridge quotes

Me: 'You look tired, Xavier. Did you go to sleep late last night?'
Xavier: 'I went to bed at 20.'

Mr. G: 'Diego, are you going to be a police officer? Because you're sure questioning Jose like one.'

Kailer, to me on Ash Wednesday: 'Oh cool, you got your forehead pierced?'

'My story is a but a wisrd,' Seth, with backwards s, doing journal work.

Mr. G, having confiscated four or five toys from Gerardo by the end of the day: 'Teacher Cari, I think I'm going to have a yard sale this weekend with all these cool toys.'
Me: 'I'll be there, Mr. G, I could use some new toys.'
Gerardo: starts weeping, Mr. G looks at me with a whoops expression; I go to Gerardo and try to offer comfort--solo un chiste, mentiras.

'I like all the ones that are brown.' -4th grade Ashley, offering her opinion on Barack Obama, and presumably US presidents in general

'I'm walking with first graders, not frogs.' -the things you hear yourself say on a daily basis

Oscar: 'One day I saw Teacher Cari and Maestra Lupe at... uh... at.... uh... Green....'
Me: 'Green Park School?'
Oscar: 'Oh, yeah!'
La substituta, trying to get everyone back on track: 'Alright, that's a neat story.'

O. again, talking to me about bringing a special treat to school for Valentine’s Day: 'But not to him (pointing to Xavier) because he doesn't brush his teeth.' I should add that O’s mouth is full of six-year-old lost teeth gaps and silver.

'Or you could not get those, since you're not a child.' -Girlfriend overheard in Grocery Outlet, regarding juice boxes, to boyfriend. Not sure if that relationship will last.


I'm not even embarrassed to say it: K. and I saw this last night and cried the whole way through. Sooooo good.


Ash to Ash

We have not loved you with our whole heart, and mind, and strength. We have not loved our neighbors as ourselves. We have not forgiven others as we have been forgiven.
Have mercy on us, Lord.

We have been deaf to your call to serve, as Christ served us. We have not been true to the mind of Christ. We have grieved your Holy Spirit.
Have mercy on us, Lord.

We confess to you, Lord, all our past unfaithfulness: the pride, hypocrisy, and impatience of our lives,
We confess to you, Lord.

Our self-indulgent appetites and ways, our exploitation of other people,
We confess to you, Lord.

Our anger at our own frustration, and our envy of those more fortunate than ourselves,
We confess to you, Lord.

Accept our repentance, Lord, for the wrongs we have done: for our blindness to human need and suffering, and our indifference to injustice and cruelty,
Accept our repentance, Lord.

For all false judgments, for uncharitable thoughts toward our neighbors, and for our prejudice and contempt for those who differ from us,
Accept our repentance, Lord.

For our waste and pollution of your creation, and our lack of concern for those who come after us,
Accept our repentance, Lord.

Restore us, Good Lord, and let your anger depart from us;
Favorably hear us, for your mercy is great.
Accomplish is us the work of your salvation,
that we may show forth your glory in the world.


unfold your own myth / rumi

Who gets up early to discover the moment light begins?
Who finds us here circling, bewildered, like atoms?
Who comes to a spring thirsty
and sees the moon reflected in it?
Who, like Jacob blind with grief and age,
smells the shirt of his lost son
and can see again?
Who lets a bucket down and brings
up a flowing prophet? Or like Moses goes for fire
and finds what burns inside the sunrise?

Jesus slips into a house to escape enemies,
and opens a door to another world.
Solomon cuts open a fish, and ther’s a cold ring.
Omar storms in to kill the prophet
and leaves with blessings.
Chase a deer and end up everywhere!
An oyster opens his mouth to swallow one drop.
Now there’s a pearl.
A vagrant wanders empty ruins.
Suddenly he’s wealthy.

But don’t be satisfied with stories, how things
have gone with others. Unfold
your own myth, without complicated explanation,
so everyone will understand the passage,
We have opened you.

Start walking…Your legs will get heavy
and tired. Then comes a moment
of feeling the wings you’ve grown


on working at the best school

Today I was filling out paperwork to for a routine dental check-up in my new town, and as I checked no to question after question (gum pain, discomfort chewing, bleeding, coldness, numbness, tooth decay, blisters, sensitivity, erosion, jaw pain, etc, etc, etc) I remembered again how much we have to be grateful for that, most days, I confess I fail to even notice.

After site shadowing at another elementary school in a neighboring county, I decided to make a list of all the reasons I love Blue Ridge. I've worked in seven schools now, and attended ten more, and it really is such a unique, energizing atmosphere. Here's why:

  • First of all, the building is underground, a grassy knoll on one side, exposed windows on the other. Huge skylights overhead allow light into each stairwell so even the basement hallway is lit. The structure is ''an architectural gem 30 years ahead of its time'' according to one architect from Boston I met last weekend, who said he spent some time studying the building's design when he moved out west.
  • We do zumba every morning for 15-20 minutes. 'Nuff said.
  • The color makeup. I hope this is not shallow, but after visiting a very white country school, and having a conversation with a six-year-old about hunting and how he shot a deer in the foot and thought it was super funny, my appreciation is majorly renewed.
  • Latino teachers. Young teachers. Brown teachers. Six male teachers. That is kind of unheard of in elementary.
  • Recycling. I know that seems standard, but trust me, a lot of schools don't.
  • Many bilingual teachers and students.
  • The view of the Blues (for which it is named)
  • The eagle mascot
  • The Turkey Trot. The best!
  • No gossip/teacher drama.
  • The salad bar.
  • The secretaries.
  • Hearing and speaking Spanish every day.
  • The kids, duh!! Some of the most hilarious and precious and ridiculous and wonderful little ones I've met... not that I'm biased or anything...


dream nights

The road south out of our village, if you could call it a road, the one my neighbors used to take to Tegucigalpa before the highway was built, was one of my favorites for walking.

The land to the south was rocky, green, hard: almost more like English moors except for the maiz y frijoles, platanos y San Juan Primavera growing.

Here in WW, it is harder for me to find space outside to be alone. Small town living has me feeling a bit stifled at times, though I love using my feet instead of car; the deciduous tree-lined streets block out my craving for open sky. In Santa Barbara, Honduras, the Upper Columbia, even San Francisco, I could always find the open and steep spaces to be alone. And sunsets from the Thames were so incredible the lack of ridges was almost forgivable.

The Blues are here, their lit snow-capped ridges, but I am not daily in them, the way my body needs mountains.

One day walking out on that gutted old road, we could smell rain in the air, hear far-off thunder. Storms move so much faster in my old village than any I've seen in the West. We pressed on, not wanting to sacrifice the walk. Soon the rain started, about 45 minutes walk from home, and we turned back, climbing the ruts in the road steep from where it dipped into valley.

Llueve became granizo, large stones pelting our bare arms and legs, and we turned our backs against the force of it and walked backwards for protection in the openness. Reaching the farthest house of the village, a relatively nice ranch owned by a family with a car, we turned in at their welcome, standing on the porch as rain poured and light faded from the sky, water funneling off our glistening skin.

The rain didn't let up, but was no longer hail. The wind blew. We thanked them and left, and while S. and L. walked in flip-flops, I ran the last thirty minutes home, pouring rain, rivers on the road, water above my ankles making currents across the dust. Lightning lighting up the west and the occasional villagers running past me the other direction, both of us laughing, buenas noches.

How I miss my village, that lonely and beautiful night, the sense of homeness I have found further south. And the mountains, the mountains! Their peaks filling my pupils, their precipitous earth under my feet.


When people say the NT deity is the same as the OT deity, Jesus is also Yahweh, I think, yeah, I know, but that still doesn't make so many of those Jewish stories appealing, or even necessarily stomach-able.

But recently I heard an interview with filmmaker Nathan Clarke, who just made the film Wrestling for Jesus.

He talked about the kind of addiction in the Christian community to positive or ''redemptive'' stories, that a film or book or song that does not end on the upbeat is seen as theologically coming up short, or even destructive. He talked about the need to also tell Old Testament stories, literal ones from scripture and also the ones we create today.

I am reading Kings and I keep thinking about what Clarke said about also telling the Old Testament truth. Which is not glamorous and not redemptive but maybe points to why we need to be rescued in the first place, and not neatly. I blanch at the story of settling a dispute between two prostitutes by slicing a baby into two (when of these two destitute women, one of them enters the argument having lost her baby in the first place--that lie comes from a real place and real reason!). But I wanted to write these words of Solomon's dreamed request:
''I am only a little child and do not know how to carry out your duties... Give your servant a discerning heart to govern your people and distinguish between right and wrong.''
and Yahweh's response:
''I will give you a wise and discerning heart.''
And I know it deep that this is the 24th year where, E. spoke it over me, I also am invited to ask for wisdom. Where I also will enter an ability to make decisions based not on emotion or even on past experience, but from a heart of wisdom. And that is not braggy or I'm-a-big-deal, because I see how my own foolishness or at least naivety have helped contribute to situations malos en mi vida, not causing them but at times allowing circumstances I could have avoided altogether.

And so what if somebody likes you? One thousand men, hungry and honorable and all shades in between, could like you in your lifetime, but that doesn't mean they get you (they are worthy of you or deserve you). You're not just some orphan trying to make it; you're the King's daughter.

And I am learning it now, in my bones and in my veins: I am expensive. You probably can't afford me. And it's not a pronouncement determining the remainder of the river of your life, but it is the truth in this season.

I do want to tell better stories, and I also want to become wise. Mostly though, I want to know who I am: not a bastard, but adopted. Not fatherless. Not having to boast and advance my own reputation and story. But learning my name as he calls me and walking in my true identity in Christ.


McTeacher's night at Blue Ridge

Yes, I can say it now: I have worked at McDonalds.

Okay, truth be told, I don't think I've visited the establishment since something like 2004, and when I first found out about the school fundraiser, I admit I felt a little morally conflicted. But I couldn't resist the opportunity to see all our kiddos, so this Tuesday night, I could be found on 9th, preparing desserts.

Did you know they sell hard ice cream and coffee there now? Crazy times! I made McFlurries, Sundaes, and many messes, chatted it up with Spanish-speaking and teenage employees, and found an item on the menu that is, count them, 1090 calories. The Big Breakfast with Hotcakes (Regular Size Biscuit) but without syrup & margarine.

Put that in your pipe!


winter cooking

*Thai chard soup
*Roasted vegetables
*Roasted beet soup
*Sweet potato fries with garlic aioli
*Spicy hummus (my own soaked garbanzo beans!)
*Tilapia (chile/lime/cilantro) with asparagus
*Black beans from scratch, granola weekly, my own grown sprouts
*Purple cabbage/kale/chard/ginger scramble

Up next: Apricot-Almond-Dark Chocolate Biscotti!


''I sit on the bench under the wild cherry tree in the cemetery and sort through my memories, but the harder I try to remember, the more I get confused about which are memories and which are stories. When I was little, my mother used to tell me family stories--but only the ones that had a happy ending. My sister also told me stories: her stories were strongly formulaic, with goodies (Mother, Cossacks) and baddies (Father, communists). Vera's stories always had a beginning, a middle, an end, and a moral. Sometimes my father told me stories, too, but his stories were complicated in structure, ambiguous in meaning and unsatisfactory in outcome, with lengthy digressions and packed with obscure facts. I preferred my mother's and my sister's tales.

I remember a time when my sister and I loved each other, and my father and I loved each other. Maybe there was even a time when my father and my sister loved each other--that I can't remember. We all loved Mother, and she loved all of us.

My sister is ten years older than me, and had one foot in the adult world. She knew things I didn't know, things that were whispered but never spoken about. She knew grown-up secrets so terrible that just the knowledge of them had scarred her heart.

Now that Mother has died, Big Sis has become the guardian of the family archive, the spinner of stories, the custodian of the narrative that defines who we are. This role, above all others, is the one I envy and resent. It is time, I think, to find out the whole story, and to tell it in my own way.''

-A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian, Marina Lewycka