May 2012

Monthly Archive

Garden Talk

Posted by on 26 May 2012 | Tagged as: fun, garden, Gardens and Life, good things, Green Living, health, hope, Uncategorized

I have a garden, a yard, an orchard, flower beds, lawns and woods. There is a marshy area down by the road that I call a “seasonal water feature.” Some years it’s soggy later than others. There is a “sacred grove” of cedars and maples that I protected from clearing when we bought the place, though I allowed several large cedars to be harvested to help us pay for part of the work. The woods in the far back of our lot (which is only a little more than an acre) are third-growth with a few snags that are alder (they don’t live very long), some cedar and maple, and a fir or two. For understory there are lots of red huckleberries which are the native vaccinia in our area, sword ferns and deer ferns, trillium and other lilies depending on the season and assorted invasive and native shrubs like holly and mahonia (Oregon grape).

Usually when I am talking about the garden, I speak of the area between the marsh and the orchard, or the flower beds that are scattered around the front half of the property. Today I worked in the vegetable garden, my 30 x 30 foot spot of tilled earth close to the road. Yesterday I worked just under the medlar tree which is in a kidney-shaped bed by the front door, about 3 feet wide and 15 feet long. Tomorrow, if the rain holds off and I am not incapacitated from working outside today I will work to clear blackberries from the heather plants under a little cedar in front of the house.

Every day I am in the garden there is something to see, something to hear, something to touch, and often something to taste! Even now, long before the fruiting plants are bearing and before most of the vegetables have even germinated there are lovely native sorrel plants that have the tang of citrus when I chew a leaf, and sweet chickweed that feels meatier and tastes sweet and nutty. Being in the garden is restorative, invigorating and motivating.

Here are a few pictures from this morning and afternoon, showing (I hope) a few things that are particularly nice.

my kitchen window

the cold frame with lettuces in the ground and tomatoes and a single apple in pots

the native bleeding heart that volunteered in an awkward spot but is too precious to risk damaging by moving. I will garden around it as long as it wants to stay!

Tom, helping transplant potatoes

Lucky, helping us not get too focused on nonessentials

one lupine, with pinkish petals

another lupine, showing flower spikes both just emerging and more mature, this one has white tips on the blooms

blueberry flowers, and small green berries already starting — the berries form first deeper in, and last at the tips

the first little pink buds on the “nosegay” rosebush

Native phlox — almost white, but a light lavender hue

the trellis arch with my clematis finally trained up it

a small white-petaled geranium from my mother in law

the snowball bush, I liked how the sun made the picture glow

peach leaf curl already starting to deform and discolor the leaves; some years the peaches still manage to mature

Today in the Garden

Posted by on 24 May 2012 | Tagged as: critters, garden, good things, Uncategorized

The bees are out in force. Here is a link to a short video of bees on the medlar (about 38 seconds long). The bees are LOADED with pollen on their back legs. The sound when standing near the medlar is mesmerizing.

At the very end, you can see a tiny jumping spider that hitched a ride, a lovely little black and white lady.

The bees have also been active in the lupines, the strawberries and the thimbleberries.

I didn’t take a picture of the lupines, the strawberries, the plum or the clematis (which I partially unwound and retrained to start going up the trellis) today. If I am home tomorrow and it isn’t raining, I will take pictures then. There are a lot of plums already nearly an inch long, and the lupines (which really should have been moved or removed last year) are always fascinating because of the naturally-occurring variations in the blooms.

Lilac festival parade

Posted by on 19 May 2012 | Tagged as: children, fun, good things, Uncategorized

I went as a chaperone with the high school band to the Spokane Armed Forces Torchlight Parade at the 74th Lilac Festival. Here is a poor quality video I took, you get just a small hint of their sound, and an impression of the pace they moved at. It was dusk, and all I had was my cellphone.

just like last time, the video needs work before it can be used… please stand by…

And just like last time, here is a link to the youtube video.

A Good Week!

Posted by on 18 May 2012 | Tagged as: education, teaching, technology in education, Uncategorized

Fourth Grade, Fifth Grade, High School, Primary School. I pretty much hit all the major levels this week, and enjoyed them all!

What I am learning:

  1. Be firm right away. The kids need reassurance that they are in capable hands.
  2. Notice the small annoyances right away and the big ones aren’t as likely to happen.
  3. Notice the really great things right away, and publicly, and all the kids want that kind of attention. I have been giving gold stars to the kids who do something first, or notice something first, or who go the extra mile on their work. At first, some of the kids act as if stars are for “babies” but after a while they all want one.
  4. Be alert to the kids who can’t see (I am working on this one) because by the time they admit they need help they are pretty far behind the rest of the class and feeling frustrated. Sometimes the kids have just forgotten their glasses. Sometimes they don’t have glasses but know they need them. Sometimes… who knows? But the kids who sit in the back row really struggle with our modern obsession with technology when they can’t read the optical projection image.
  5. The kids who are misbehaving are doing it for a reason. Find out the reason before you respond if you can. I am immediate on consequences for dangerous and destructive behaviors, but am developing my ability to stop, ask questions, and consider my responses for other behaviors that are disruptive to the class or annoying to other students. This last week I had a couple of chances to ask the kids involved in minor scuffles what was going on and what they thought a better response would be. Will it help? I am not there consistently enough to know if it got through to them. I hope so.
  6. The kids who want to control every aspect of class are usually doing it for one of two reasons: they are highly anxious and don’t do well with changes to routine, or they are struggling to keep up and want to show their peers that they have it together. For the kids with the former issue, I am clear that although I am doing things differently than they are used to and they will be okay. For the latter issue, I try to notice when those kids are getting it right so they don’t have to show off. Sometimes, giving them a little help on the side is effective. Sometimes, changing the task from individual to group thinking is helpful. And sometimes, just letting them work on the task in peace for a while is enough.
  7. I need to be aware when I am getting tired, too. I am learning to sit down so my feet and back don’t hurt (important when I am standing on those hard asphalt tiles). I am having kids come up to me when they want to ask a question (learned to do this when I broke my toe a couple months ago) — a teacher friend of mine has a “see me” sign up on the white board for a similar purpose. And I am being unapologetic about taking sips of tea or water while teaching — I need to stay hydrated to be able to see straight!
  8. Finally, I am getting much better at keeping track of time. I now tend to write the schedule on the board. Not only do the kids know for sure when things are supposed to happen, but I can glance quickly up and see how much time I have left instead of having to constantly refer to the page/s of notes. When I can remind kids a little ahead of a transition that they are going to need to change pace they seem to do better.
  9. As always, this list is to be continued, and I welcome comments and suggestions!

Mothers in My Life

Posted by on 13 May 2012 | Tagged as: caring, Family Matters, garden, Gardens and Life, good things, parenting, Uncategorized

I have one mother, whom I adore, and see as often as we can get together. Her mother, my beloved Granny, died a couple of years ago. My paternal grandmother, my Nana, died in 2001. I have many fond memories of both my grandmothers, and though we lived at a distance, we tried to visit them as often as possible.

I found a few pictures from my Nana’s collection yesterday when I was going through a box and put them together in some pictures I snapped on my ipad.

The first is Nana with Bert, my grandfather, probably taken in the late 1980s.

The second is Granny, me, and Mother when I was in high school.

The next is Nana on her 90th birthday with her two living children, me and my boys.

The last one is of my two darling grandmothers together, taken on a day they visited graves, two families in one cemetery.

I have had other grand/mother figures, mentors and guides in my life, for whom I am also and always grateful. Some are still with us, some are gone ahead. My mother-in-law who early on advised me that my kids would be completely different people (boy, was she ever right!) and so I was prepared to have some conflicts between the kids. My dear friend Betty who has been patient and supportive since I was very flighty 16-year old. MaryJo, a friend I knew when I was in college. Mrs. Lupher, who gave me refuge every week for a morning to watch nature programs, garden, and eat coffee ice cream. And many, many others.

A Passion for Purple

Posted by on 12 May 2012 | Tagged as: garden, Gardens and Life, good things, Uncategorized

I am not sure how, but a LOT of the plants in my garden this time of year are purple-bloomers. Here are just a few of the ones that I decided to take pictures of today. What aren’t here (that I can remember) are the invasive ground cover in the orchard, the lovely purple ground cover under the medlar and the purple-blue native hyacinths. What I can’t convey in this photo essay is how heavenly the light-colored lilac smells today.

I am putting this in as a gallery, and apologize in advance for picture quality, the ipad takes nice pictures, but I think I had the settings off a little bit yesterday.

Garden Sparkle

Posted by on 11 May 2012 | Tagged as: garden, Gardens and Life, good things, Uncategorized

I was in my garden today, and took a lot of pictures. I am experimenting with using the “gallery” feature of wordpress, trying different configurations and such. Hadn’t used it with the latest update (or two or three) so still figuring things out (check back again tomorrow for another post).

White is, in my opinion, generally an under-used color in the garden. In shady spaces, it glows. In sunny places it shines. It stands out against cool colors, it highlights bright colors, it cools down warm colors. Used in masses the textures of the flowers show up beautifully with white.

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Storytelling and Writing

Posted by on 09 May 2012 | Tagged as: education, teaching, Uncategorized, writing

We live our lives inside of stories. Memories are faulty, events from one decade can be confused with events from another, things that seemed very important at the time can be forgotten. Stories can help us keep the essential pieces together, the meaning of the event, without focusing too much on the “facts.” I learned a lot about European history from stories and novels, that allowed me to remember the relationships between the players. I listened to my family’s stories about times and people past as well.

Stories have been used since humans had speech to convey values, hopes and fears, and ideas about how the world works. The oral tradition allowed for stories to be modified to meet the needs of each audience, each teller, each time.
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Another icon of childhood gone

Posted by on 08 May 2012 | Tagged as: children, education, passages, Uncategorized

Maurice Sendak gave voice to young children’s feelings. Why do kids have tantrums? Because life isn’t fair and they can’t argue with it or control it.

Where the Wild Things Are gave us an outlet for anger.

Little Bear which he illustrated gave us a reflection of love and growing up. I think the stories by Elsa Holmelund Minarik were sweet, but the pictures I examined while the story was read gave it life and helped me make the connections I needed.

Chicken Soup with Rice was not only the title of a fun book that reviewed the months, it became the comfort food of choice when I was little and feeling poorly.

It would be a poor classroom library (at any level) that didn’t have at least one of his books on hand for inspiration.

Here is the BBC article on Mr. Sendak, who passed away in the wee hours this morning.

And a link to’s page on Maurice Sendak, with a short bio and bibliography.

I know from the many stories on the radio and in the news that Mr. Sendak said he was an author and artist, not a “children’s book author and illustrator.” I would say that he was one of the most powerful generators of imagery and meaning for people of my generation (the first to grow up with his work) and for my children. Yes, a true artist, who understood the power of pen and brush.


Posted by on 06 May 2012 | Tagged as: critters, Gardens and Life, good things, Uncategorized

Yesterday Grant helped me take a video of the neighborhood bald eagles. They have been “patrolling” the local seagull colony, waiting for unguarded nests. You can hear the eagles’ tiny warbling cries, and occasionally the seagulls calling out, as well as my own young one’s running commentary. Enjoy!

Well, my upload attempt failed. Will try again soon… Here it is!!

Our Neighbor Eagles

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