June 2008

Monthly Archive

Looking Forward to Friends

Posted by on 29 Jun 2008 | Tagged as: British Columbia, friends, Gardens and Life, good things, Uncategorized

In looking forward to this coming week, I was reminded of the lovely get-together the boys and I had with Hetty, Flosey, Jillibus and Dilly (Babble friends) last summer. Here is my favorite pic from that day:

five musketeers

Left to Right: Jill, me, Flosey, Hetty and Dilly. Dilly has since gone on to the greatest word game of them all.

Plants in (and planned)

Posted by on 28 Jun 2008 | Tagged as: garden, Gardens and Life, Uncategorized

Already in the veggie garden, we have:

From starts (Black Lake Organic starts, our favorite local nursery/garden store):

Basil (one purple, one green, no name)
Calendula (two “citrus” type and two other)
Cucumbers (5, various types)
Dill (no name)
Parsley (flat, italian-style, no name)
Tomatoes (3 varieties, I think they are 2 yellow pear, a slicing tomato and 2 sauce type)
Squash (9 types, including some pumpkin, some patty-pan and winter squash)

Seeded (from Uprising Seeds, a new company to us, we’ll see how we like them):
Beets, “Bull’s Blood”
Carrots, “Scarlet Nantes”
Salad Greens, “Uprising Mesclun Mix”
Tomato, “Green Grape”

Seeds waiting for space:

Beans, “Kentucky Wonder” (Pole Beans)
Beans, “Broad Windsor” (Fava)
Onions, “Top Keeper” (overwintering storage, white)
Onions, “Winter White Bunching” (overwintering, scallion)
Peas, “Cascadia”
Peas, “Oregon Sugar Pod II”

In the rest of the yard, the asparagus has been declining rather a lot the last two years, the nectarine’s space is still empty, the strawberries and most everything else are hidden under tons (only a slight exaggeration) of grass and “lady’s bedstraw/cleavers” — and the figs look like they will have a nice yield in a few more weeks. We won’t have as many plums as I had hoped, but the apples are outdoing themselves this year! and the cherry tree is LOADED with fruit, we’ll see if I can get netting up in time to keep the crows off them.

More plants and mathematics

Posted by on 27 Jun 2008 | Tagged as: education, garden, Gardens and Life, Uncategorized

I figured since I am avoiding math homework I might as well take a couple pics of the garden as it looks since this morning…

This is me, looking over the squash (which are a little droopy from the hot sun today), just past 6 pm my time.

stidmama in the squash

This is the stidkid, looking over the tomatoes (in the bed) and the newly seeded areas to each side (beets and carrots).

stidkid in garden

And this is the center of the garden, the “strawberry pot” was a dismal failure at berries, but does great with herbs. The yellow and orange flowers are calendula, punctuated with italian parsley, and in the circle scratched around those are a mesclun (salad blend) and basil patch. I may round off the corners of this bed and border it with bricks or rocks …

herb medallion

And on the topic of math avoidance… I can’t say I am really avoiding it much. I have been working at rather fast pace the last couple days, doing nearly two chapters since Wednesday night. I am trying to work ahead fast enough that I will have some space and time to let things sit before the end of class. Since the teacher has me (and a couple others) working ahead of the rest of the class, I am finding that some of my questions hold me back but then get answered later on.

Do I enjoy math? I can’t say that I am enjoying it any more now than in high school or the few math-intensive (but not specifically math-oriented) courses in college. BUT I can say that I am understanding things a little more, gaining some new insights into how to present the material, and learning a little bit about my own brain, so I can interpret things better for others.

And that is, after all, what this course if about: learning about the processes students go through to learn basic math skills. Geared to people who teach or hope to teach in grades 1-6, it is less about learning one specific method to perform tasks and more about the reasons that several different methods work (and why sometimes only one way works). I am glad I am taking this class, and I will be glad when it is over… Meantime, I will finish the reading and exercises for the chapter on fractions tonight and take the test tomorrow morning, leaving some writing and summarizing for later.

A few plants…

Posted by on 27 Jun 2008 | Tagged as: garden, Gardens and Life, Uncategorized

Here are the pictures we took of the garden on Tuesday. We have pretty much finished forming the basic shape, and have just to do the “finish work” on the remaining two large beds — leveling and breaking up the larger clods. We are not yet screening the soil, but it will need to be done when we add compost and such next year.

Stidkid digging out the last diagonal path:

the last diagonal path is formed

The other fellows formed mounds for each of the 9 cucurbits (squash and pumpkins):

9 mounds for 9 squash and pumpkin

This final view is from the road, looking through a temporary “low spot” in the vegetation. We’ll be in-filling with some transplanted willows and other natives as it gets toward fall. But right now, it lets me get far enough from the garden that you can see it along a completely different axis. For scale, the tall young man with flowing hair is 5’7″…

from another angle...

Stidclan Meeting

Posted by on 27 Jun 2008 | Tagged as: Family Matters, fun, Gardens and Life, good things, Uncategorized

Last Tuesday, Tom’s parents came through and we had supper together in Olympia. Left to Right: Tom, Grandpa, Stidkid#2, Stidkid#1 and Grandma. It was so nice to see them, I hope we can get together again soon. I am in the picture only virtually. I held the camera.


Getting Started

Posted by on 22 Jun 2008 | Tagged as: garden, Gardens and Life, Uncategorized

We spent two hours this morning working on the garden. Despite having our neighbor do most of the heavy work with his dozer, we still need to form paths, infill at the back and build up the actual planting beds.

This first pic shows the amount of dirt that is being moved to fill in at the back of the garden. A quick note — we have pre-built panels that are about 7.5 feet long, which dictates a length of at least three panels (22.5′) or four (30′) on each side. Rather than waste any of the good soil (the current level of soil outside the garden is the topsoil that is found naturally, high in clay and low in nutrients), we chose to maximize the garden space with a square.

the gap between the twine and the raised bed needs filling

The next picture shows how we started scratching out the paths. I have drawn a rough sketch (similar to the many “dream” sketches I have drawn since we moved here) that we are following. The idea is to have some perimeter paths around each trapezoidal bed that allows me to get the big wheelbarrow in (needs 2.8′) close. The trapezoids will be further divided into workable spaces with foot-width paths.

the first path takes shape, extra dirt to the bed

Here is a good picture of how wide the paths really are, the menfolk working hard. Of course, I was doing my share of shoveling, too (but someone had to take pics)!

the menfolk, hard at work clearing paths

And one last, showing the first trapezoidal bed almost ready to plant. By this time, it is 1 p.m. and the sun has come out, so it’s time to go inside and rest before running out to the store for starts! On the list: tomatoes, peppers, lettuces, “whatever looks good” — we’ll plant seeds later.

the size and shape of the first bed well defined

No illusions here: there are bunnies, there are deer. The deer will be a threat until the fence is up… but that needs to wait a couple weeks. We will rent a post-hole digger and set posts. First, I need to clean and repair those fence panels…

The best-laid plans

Posted by on 21 Jun 2008 | Tagged as: garden, Gardens and Life, Uncategorized

Well, our neighbor with the dozer finally had a spare day/morning, so he showed up at 8 today. While he got started clearing (no pics of the “before” state, let’s just say the grass in this area was more than waist-high to me and the blackberries would have scared off godzilla. Though not, apparently, the bear which left fresh scat in the orchard again.)…

While he got started clearing the space of small trees, wicked thorny things and the occasional log or stump left over from the initial site clearing 9 years ago, Tom and I went into town to see about getting a bit of top soil to help level it out. We went where our neighbor suggested, but were not smart enough to insist on talking to the person he suggested. So instead of perfectly good but slightly lumpy topsoil we got the ulta-nice fine-screened stuff. It wouldn’t be a big deal, but we spent about twice what we would have for the other kind, and I feel badly that our neighbor had gone out of his way to help us find something more affordable and then we mucked it up.

In the end, though, we have a lovely pad about 35 x 25 feet square to play with (we’ll end up making it closer to 30×30), weed-free and ready to go. This evening, stidkid#1 and I are going to lay out the shape of the beds with string and tomorrow we may even plant.

Then, over the next 2 months or so, we’ll put up the fence panels that have been patiently waiting in the back yard, so the deer don’t decide we have just put in a buffet.

At least, that’s the plan.

Here are the pics the stidkid took for me while Tom and I spoke with our neighbor about how to move things around. You can see a big pile of stumps, they now provide a bit of a buffer at the end of the drive behind the mailbox. The willows were left in place intentionally to serve as a nice hedgerow between the road and the garden. We’ll coppice them every few years and let them provide habitat for the critters.

looking at the space

This next image shows the HUGE cedar log that is still mostly intact after 5 years. We are using it to define the terrace between the orchard and the garden space. The soil behind it is mostly sand, in front mostly “skipopa silt-loam” which most of us consider just clay… We will be amending the garden soil regularly with gypsum to help keep the clayey bits from clogging the beds.

35 foot log helping create a terrace between orchard and garden

Here you can see how big the space is, before the garden is laid out.

the land partly leveled and cleared

Here is the space, with the new soil nicely graded and shaped for the garden.

leveled, ready to make garden beds

Finally, while I have been planning and plotting the garden, the children are slowly deconstructing the fort we built for them 7 years ago. We will reuse the boards that are still good for a tree platform, later this year or next. Always another project on the horizon!

the fort with most of the railing down

Garden, plants and WEEDS

Posted by on 19 Jun 2008 | Tagged as: garden, Gardens and Life, Uncategorized

Here are the pics from this morning, this is the first year the Korean dogwood has really bloomed. I saw a couple bracts last year, but this year it is spectacular. The grasses and weeds in most of the yard are knee-high to me (our babble friend “riemann” would claim that makes it ankle-high to him). It hasn’t been sunny and warm enough for me to want to spend my few leisure moments outside lately, but I keep hoping.

Meantime, here are a few pics of the nicer spots, starting with two of the Korean Dogwood, so you can see the bract (those are the parts that look like petals) shape and how they droop.

The prettiest face in the garden?

They look like little butterflies resting on the branches

A pic of the largest bunny statue, looking very pleased with the blooms surrounding it…

Beast among Beauty

A gorgeous view looking north across the mound. The California lilac is framed beautifully by the arch of the elderberry. I love the purple-blue cloud that is formed by this shrub!

the biggest shrub in the yard

And I leave you tonight with a small picture of the white iris that is blooming outside my window.

fleur de lis

firefox bug?

Posted by on 18 Jun 2008 | Tagged as: crosspost, Uncategorized

I saw on Yahoo’s news that there was a vulnerability found in firefox pretty quick… but it applied to the old version as well as the new. I know they will get a patch soon, but it’s a little sad to have all the hoopla and then get this the first day.

Go to Yahoo’s story, and rest assured, as soon as firefox has a patch, they will let us know.

Taking the Plunge (again)

Posted by on 18 Jun 2008 | Tagged as: education, Gardens and Life, Uncategorized

I am dipping my toes back into the pool of academia, it seems.

Nearly 20 years post-baccalaureate, I have decided that I was wrong (all those years ago) to reject going into teaching. After my experiences of the last couple years, I have decided that I am, in fact, willing to do something I love in spite of the rather onerous burdens currently being placed on teachers and students in my state (and as I hear, all the states).
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