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Saturday, July 29, 2006

Interview with Vivian Kendall

Vivian Kendall is a painter, a computer artist, and just retired from teaching art at Wa He Lut school in Olympia, Washington. This interview is concerned with her teaching career.

Vivian Kendall: "I tried within my role to be everything supportive for my students. One boy told me, 'I had a dream that you were my mother.' "

ElleCoyote: "How many years did you teach at Wa he Lut School?"

VK: "16 years … 1990-2006"

EC: "… You taught art, but what else?"

VK: "What else? Nothing. Life! I'm not a teacher; I'm an artist."

EC: "Ok, so what kinds of things did they learn from making art?"

VK: "I tried to have the projects be relevant to their lives - so general problem-solving and work-ethic, but also things like silkscreening T-shirts and using power tools.

My kids often had no fathers so no one taught them how to hammer in a nail.

Years ago, one of my students--whose mother was a drunk, father gone, many kids, different fathers, etc.--said to me, 'Can me and Ed come and live with you cause my mom will be happy with just the younger kids?'

I had to say, 'Well, the world doesn't work that way'; she said, 'I wish you were my mom.' "

VK: “We did complex projects when I did whole classes, like using good reference material make a black and white native design, that can then be copied onto colored paper, which we will use for a kind of clip-board thing we will make from wood, using wing nuts and power drills; so we covered a lot in one project.”

VK: “Or we would do a collage, scan it into computer, manipulate it and add text, print out and put in a CD thing as a CD cover.

I never taught anything but technique. I gave them materials and directed their questions to people who knew and were experts in their own culture.”

VK: "I used to apologise if I did something wrong. They were amazed.”

VK: “I love my kids.”

E: “Is there anything you would like to say to any of your students who may read this interview?”

E: “You said you love them, but do you have any words of wisdom for them?”

VK: “I did the best I could for them, but I wasn't always right. I believe in mentoring as the best way to teach and learn. In my room we were all just artists at different stages of development.”


I was in a gruff mood today, so I became an angry child in Second Life. Don't screw with an angry child, man.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Whatever Happened in Milwaukee?

In high school I worked on the school paper, and at one point, we were sent to Milwaukee to attend a high school journalism convention. Like all conventioneers, we had high spirits and did not always do what we were supposed to do.

True Confession One:
My group of girls arrived at the hotel and went to our room. The room overlooked an airwell on the interior of the hotel. It was on the 20th floor or so. We had a peek around, and found strange looking objects on the radiator. There were two jars of what, to us, looked like a science project, under a towel. None of us had ever rented a hotel room before, and we assumed they were left by the previous occupant. We gleefully threw the first of the glass jars out the window and watched it smash to bits on the roof below our room, 5 stories down.

Just then someone unlocked the door and came in. It was the maid, who was absolutely furious with us. We had destroyed her lunch! Abashed and horror-struck we gave her some cash, but she was really upset. Her lovely greens cooked with chunks of ham .... so much for that delicious lunch she had brought with her!

True Confession Two:
In the evening we had little to do, and decided to go to the movie "Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?" which was truly terrifying and had some unexpected twists. Sometime during the movie a sailor sat down next to me. I was riveted by the movie and never looked at him, but when the dome was lifted on that grisly dinner, I screamed and grabbed his hand! He was very kind and did not try anything further, but simply held my hand for a minute or two. I let go and he and I watched the rest of the movie without touching again or even speaking.

True Confession Three:
I met a boy from a nearby state during the afternoon and he told me his name was Joe Butzer (not his real first name). I laughed, then had to explain why, since it was a perfectly innocent name. Butz was our word for fart ... the U was pronounced like the "oo" in "wood", and his name was pronounced the same way. So I had met Joe Farter!

Ah the Confessions of my youth!

Inversions Increase Immunity!

This cold has been rotten but finally I tried to do the Iyengar yoga routine specifically designed for colds. Either I was already recovering rapidly or it worked!

It seemed counter-intuitive to me that when I have a lot of congestion in my head, I should do these inverted postures, such as the Shoulderstand! I spoke to my yoga teacher about it, and she said that inverted postures help get the immune system flowing better, as it flows toward the heart.

image from

Thursday, July 27, 2006

No More Victims

One of the good sides of being sick in bed is that I have watched daytime TV for once. NO not "All My Children", I was watching Animal Planet, with shows about animals rescuing humans, as well as programs on otters and beavers. Then I turned on PBS and caught a show about an innovative program right here in Houston.

No More Victims was founded by Marilyn Gambrell, to give support to the children of incarcerated parents. She made the decision to have her class as a part of the daily curriculum of the school in the area, Northeast Houston. The reason she did this is that many children have heavy responsibilities outside of school hours.

What the class does is focus on the children and listen to their stories. They are aided in other ways, but the main thing is that for the first time in their lives, in some cases, someone lets them know that they can tell what has happened to them without fear of a violent and rejecting response.

From this simple beginning, the class has grown to 500 students, and provides all sorts of supports. These children are able to survive, to graduate, and go on to live productive lives. The statistics in the US are very grim when it comes to the children of incarcerated parents. In most cases, 80% of them end up in prison themselves. The children in this program have more than reversed that statistic.

I liked hearing good news, for once, and wanted to pass it on to you, who may have a similar (or a very different) vision. Stay with it!

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Mountains Beyond Mountains

I am reading the book Mountains Beyond Mountains, by Tracy Kidder, about Dr. Paul Farmer, who has created a hospital in the middle of Haiti, to serve the poorest and most ill people in our hemisphere.

Dr. Farmer is on a mission, and I have a deep respect for that sort of right action. For those who say, "I am only one person", this book speaks to us. One person can accomplish amazing feats, given vision, dedication, and continuing effort.

You can buy this book at if you are interested. It is well-written, absorbing and inspiring.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Osprey Goes Asian

This gorgeous outfit was created by Osprey for a client in Second Life. I was totally blown away by it, but because my son had his third open-heart surgery a few weeks ago, I had forgotten all about posting it.

Steve is doing well so far, thank you!

Monday, July 17, 2006

Drive That Civic!

Osprey sent me this web address, saying "Nod will like this" ... hey, forget NOD, I am the Civic owner, I am a car lover, I am a singer, I used to work in advertising, and I love film!

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Lighting a Candle

I have a Jewish friend who grew up in New York City and lived in a kibbutz in Israel for a time. She is very aware of the politics of the Mideast, and has compassion for all those who are suffering there.

She organized a Palestinian-Jewish discussion group here in the US, which started out with people saying they could not agree on anything at all, yet she persisted and when they agreed on where and when to meet the second time, she pointed out that they had made a joint decision! Small steps are very important in such things.

She has been studying Arabic and plans to return to Israel to organize a joint project for Israeli and Palestinian children ... a play (which I believe will be a musical).

I have heard a saying, "no need to shovel out the darkness, just turn on the light!" or "it is better to light a candle than to curse the darkness". Sometimes we all tend to mourn for the terrible things that happen between people when they see their differences and hate one another, and kill one another. Rather than protesting about all the apparent injustice in the world, this friend decided to do something to be part of the solution.

Monday, July 03, 2006

A Big Haul

Having all this food makes me feel really wealthy. I am afraid because of that I buy too much at a time and some goes to waste, but I try to use it up. This post could also be named "I love Whole Foods" our health food supermarket.

Visiting Saturn

In Second Life there is an International Space Museum, and I went to the Saturn exhibit high in the sky. It was wonderfully large and impressive.