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Wednesday, January 7, 2015


You’re thinking “What on earth?” But it was true. I taught second grade for a long time at Robins Elementary. And every December before Christmas break, all teachers had to put up bulletin boards for January. It was a “school” rule that all Christmas things must be put away.
One year an idea came to me to teach my students how to make paper snowflakes. I had learned how to make them and thought why not teach them? One specific thing about making them was that onion skin paper had to be used: Onion skin paper is very transparent. After showing my students how to make them, they wanted to make snowflake after snowflake. And I let them.
There must have been 100 snowflakes made. I put some on the bulletin board and some on the windows; the rest I saved for January. There was a huge mess on the floor of pieces of onion skin paper which we all picked up. Christmas vacation came and went and when school started again that year, the weather was frigid and snowy.
Not only were my students sitting there that first day back in a semi-stupor but so was I. The adjustment was difficult but within days, routine went back to normal. And in the back of my mind, I wondered what on earth we’d do with all of those paper snowflakes.
The classroom was hot as all get out due to the fact that the school had steam heat: It could have been 20 degrees outside but so hot inside that I’d have to open more than one window. Upon doing that one morning, one of the paper snowflakes that had been taped to the window fell off and flew down the outside bricks of the school. I looked down and it was stuck there near the first grade classroom below us.
“It’s snowing!” I heard a first grader say. How could I not for their teacher had her windows open as well. Laughed to myself thinking how on earth could a child think that a huge paper snowflake was snow.
And that’s when I got the idea to have my students throw their paper snowflakes out of our windows. To the first graders below us, it must have looked like a gigantic blizzard. Granted some stuck to the bricks of the school but most of them fell past the windows below us and landed on the ground.
When school let out that day, I saw many of those snowflakes clustered around the first grade windows and on the ground. I laughed, got in my car and headed home.
And what do you think happened the next morning? School was canceled due to a heavy snow. No, it wasn’t predicted; it just came with a fury. School was out for three days. Upon return and getting settled in the classroom, one of my students said “Those snowflakes made it snow!” I could see little mouths open with gasps—they wondered if that were true.
“I’m not so sure about that” I told my students as I smiled. Later on that day I was asked if they could make more paper snowflakes. “Yes you can make more but be sure to clean up the mess. We’ll save them and maybe I’ll let you throw them out the windows again sometime soon.”
Tons of paper snowflakes were made for by now my students had become masters of cutting out intricate patterned ones. They were carefully put away in the huge metal cabinet in the classroom but I felt the eyes on me as I did that: Each student saw where they went.
Weeks dragged by as they do in the winter—dreary days that seemed endless. I had shoved the thought of the put away snowflakes in the back of my mind but not my students. One afternoon a boy asked me if they could throw those snowflakes out of the windows again. “Why not?” I asked. I walked to the cabinet, gathered up the snowflakes and handed out several to each student. Windows were opened and the students took turns flinging them out. Again, some stuck on the bricks of the school but most flew by the first grade windows below us.
The first grade windows were not opened but I’m pretty sure that the first graders thought they were again witnessing a blizzard.
And what do you think happened the next school day? It had snowed overnight and school was canceled; in fact, it was canceled for two days. Upon return to the classroom, I was beginning to wonder myself if those paper snowflakes made it snow because my students were certain of it. I tried to explain that there was no way on earth that by doing what they had done would make it snow but on those two occasions, it did.
Realistically I knew it not to be true.
And yet upon a third time of flinging more paper snowflakes out of the windows, it snowed that night and school was canceled.
Back in the classroom, my students kept talking about the paper snowflakes and how magical they were. Trying to get them back on track of learning, I dismissed the idea and since it was February no more paper snowflakes were made. Oh there were more snow days yet to come that year but none of my students had flung those paper snowflakes out of the windows.
By the end of the school year, there wasn’t a single student that didn’t mention how magical they were.
And with a new school year, when winter came, I repeated teaching my students how to make them, throw them out the windows and well you know what happened—it snowed. Coincidence or magic or perhaps neither? But it did happen and would happen every single year that they were made.
Did paper snowflakes make it snow? Logically you know the answer—of course they didn’t. And yet?
Sherry Hill
Copyright © 2015
Sherry Hill
All Rights Reserved

Thursday, January 1, 2015


One day late in wishing all of you a Happy New Year! 2015 seems impossible to write and it will take you and no doubt me, a while to get used to writing it.

I wish you happiness, wonderful upcoming memories and a great year.

Wherever you are, a one day late Happy New Year and take time to enjoy the little things in life that are in reality, the big things.

Sherry Hill

 Copyright © 2015
Sherry Hill
All Rights Reserved

*Photo from Microsoft Word


Sometimes when you write something you think of all kinds of things that you left out.
And so, that is why this is the second part.
From the time that I was little till now, I have always seen things in or on things: An example would be sitting in a doctor's office with my grandmother or my parents. I would stare at the grain in the wood of doors and see a face or a tree or some object. Did I ever tell anyone this? No.

Happened again the other day when I was at my doctor's: I was sitting in the examining room where you stay forever and ever and since I'm antsy anyway, I started looking at the grain on the door. Been in this particular room before. And there was that man's face again--he looked like Zeus. And there was the tree I had seen before. If I'd had a magic marker, I could have drawn around those shapes and anyone could have seen what I saw. But no way would I take a magic marker to the doctor's office.

Abruptly, I quit looking at the door and focused on the chair in the room. Being able to see things such as this is not really an attribute but more of something I don't care for because it happens everywhere I go.

From grade school through college, whenever I was given a task to do, I never did it as anyone else did.
"Only you would see that!" was something I've heard time after time. When I was seven and in the third grade, I well remember taking a piece of cardboard out of my dad's shirt from the cleaners and cutting it up into four pieces. It was a Saturday and it was raining. There was a little boy who lived next door who must have been about four. Beside my house was a sort of gully-like place that collected water when it rained; it already had rocks in it--not big ones but smallish ones that hurt your feet if you were to walk on them.

I took those four pieces of cut up cardboard, took a knife and made four holes in each piece--one on either side of the top and one on either side of the bottom. Then I got some twine and took all this outside and found the little boy. Made us both "shoes" so we could walk on the rocks. Worked for about two minutes till the cardboard got soaked all the way through! There were no tennis shoes then, with the exception of black ones that only male basketball players wore. There were no plastic shoes or flip flops for they hadn't been invented yet. But so much for my creative mode with those "shoes:" They didn't work but I sure thought they would. And I had feelings of elation and disappointment within minutes.

I loved watching "Captain Kangaroo" on tv and my favorite part was when he would make something out of boxes. One day while watching him, he told us to go into our kitchens and get an empty cereal box.
Ran like lightning into the kitchen, found a full box of cereal, emptied it out into a bowl and rushed back into the living room to watch Captain Kangaroo work on the box. My heart sunk! He had made a car out of that box, had wheels on it and had painted it. How'd he do that I thought? I wasn't gone THAT long! Something was going on and I had to figure it out but as much as I tried, I couldn't until I told my parents. And then they explained that he had someone else make one ahead of time and while kids who were watching were scurrying into their kitchens, he swapped a plain cereal box with a pre-made finished product. From then on, when Captain Kangaroo started making something, I turned off the tv. He had upset me and tricked me.
I would find other things in my house to make and be satisfied even if no one else was. Loved taking objects and turning them into something else. Still do to this day.

The next year was the year I got my first paint by number kit: I was beyond thrilled.   There were oil paints and a cat picture to paint. Yes, I saw the numbers and the color code but I didn't want to use that. And so, since I knew what a cat looked like already and looked at the tubes of colored paint, I painted that cat my way and even went out of the lines. Shock.

I still have that picture to this day; my mom kept it all those years and I never knew that till after she died. I found it in one of her chest of drawers and the memory of my painting it came rushing back into my mind like it was yesterday.

My dad was a car insurance adjuster and he used huge tablets of paper for his cases when he went on the job. He would always bring me stacks of those big tablets and I made an office in my bedroom. I would cut and cut and staple and staple and make lots of books. And then I wrote stories in them and saved them. My mother was an executive secretary and she would bring home to me those steno tablets that had rings on the top. I was in sheer bliss making this and that. My girlfriends would make them along with me at times and to me, it was the closest thing to heaven that there was with the exception of painting.

I could tell you stories upon end but I won't. Had thought of the above things and wanted to share them for this making and creating never stopped once. You could tell that when I was little, I always dragged an accomplice in with me; I didn't want to appear weird all alone.

As I got older, I faced my artist soul on my own and came to grips with it. Over the years, I've had lots of failures and lots of successes as far as things that I have created. It is still an on-going learning process which has no end in sight, hopefully. But the drive to keep this up is inherent: No one is pushing me, no one is telling me what to do or when to stop and no one is standing over me with the exception of that nagging voice inside of me that says, "Make something! Write something!" And I do ignoring the basic things I should be doing and then I get furious with myself for neglecting those basic things: It makes me feel like one of those elves you see in Santa's workshop who just makes and makes and makes.

The satisfaction comes from seeing something in written form or on a canvas that makes me feel good.
It might not affect others but sometimes it does.
And then I am prepared for "Bring on the criticism!" My soul can take it...most of the time.
I hope if you read the first part of this, that you googled "artist soul:" Maybe you can empathize or maybe you can't. It is a gift and a curse but one I find that I just can't live without. Can't get rid of it.

Sherry Hill

Copyright © 2015
Sherry Hill

All Rights Reserved