December 2012

Monthly Archive

Old and New, Endings and Beginnings.

Posted by on 31 Dec 2012 | Tagged as: Gardens and Life, good things, Green Living, hope, Uncategorized

Some years feel better than others.

This year was filled with better and brighter events and opportunities than the previous year, and although many things remain undone and wanting, there is a sense of grace and gratitude as I think about the upcoming year.

I didn’t have to write a master’s paper under conditions that tied my hands and resulted in a paper that I was not interested in and wasn’t free to write to the best of my ability.

I wasn’t worried about being able to get enough work as a substitute to pay the minimum of expenses (student loans, gasoline at almost 15% of earnings).

I didn’t have to pay for huge car repairs (the accident in February was covered by insurance), or upkeep — though there is some on the horizon with a scheduled timing belt replacement.

I DID make it to visit friends at a distance, and happily was able to see one of them that “one last time” that we often do not get in life.

I DID bring the garden back to a sense of order and productivity, with the help of Tom and the boys.  We are still harvesting and eating good things from our summer garden!

I DID start getting a lot more calls to substitute and several people are calling me first!

I DID get around to starting a decent filing system in my office, and have a plan for getting the rest of it cleared out and usable.

I DID go to my first professional conference, had a great time and met wonderful people. I will do this again when I can afford it again.

And of course, there are dozens of tasks left undone, opportunities unexplored.

In the coming year I hope to…

  • get the rest of the fruit trees pruned to near-final form.
  • make “baskets” of wire for growing potatoes and tomatoes; we lost between 1/2 and 2/3 of the crop this year to burrowing critters. Baskets will accomplish three things. They will prevent the voles from eating our spuds. I can plant tomatoes out the sides of the baskets and the soil and water will then do double-duty while the tomato plants shade the sides of the baskets to keep them cool. They will allow us to renew the soil for the potatoes/tomatoes every year and not worry about potato blight in particular beds. I can move the baskets around from year to year!
  • move the dahlias from their current locations (part of this will be done as I dig up the dahlias for winter. IF I can do this soon…) and into planters or deer-proof mini cages.
  • get the office organized and cleared out. Part of this will include repurposing Matthew’s old bedroom into long-term storage for a few things and the printer/filing room for the family. Then I can consolidate teaching and gardening literature and materials in the office instead of multiple locations around the house.
  • get at least half of the storage locker emptied out. We got through the pile of materials in the back yard this year, and some of the storage locker. We have accumulated a lot of things in over 20 years of marriage, and it’s time to let a lot of it go.
  • ditto for the closet and dressers in our bedroom — I went through it a couple years ago. It’s time again. Most of the outdated, wrong-size clothes are going out as I notice them now (a big improvement), but it’s good to review the entire wardrobe and make thoughtful adjustments on occasion, too.
  • identify appropriate next steps for my career. Am I likely to actually get a teaching job in the next couple years? If not, then subbing is not my friend as it shortens the time I have to apply for the next step of certification once I have my own classroom. I might need to consider a different job until schools really start hiring again, and keep applying as openings come up.
  • earn enough to help support the kiddos as they live away from home and need help with college expenses. It’s why I went back to school in the first place!

One of my online friends had the idea to write down the nice things that happen in the coming year and keep them in a special container. I am going to do this, too. I have some pretty papers and a few extra small boxes. Then, at the end of the coming year I will be able to review more systematically what the successes have been.

I think that I will try to write down one good thing each day. Even if it’s small.

Years ago, I was struggling to recover from a back injury. I gave myself the goal of doing one thing each day, with the goal of doing something five days in each seven-day period. That way, I could have days “off” without feeling guilty.

So the goal of writing down one good thing that happened each day for five days out of a seven-day period will work for me, too.

I think I’ll try to limit time online, too — a goal of creating more physical art and less power-drain. I have plenty of materials right now to create and craft for months (maybe years). Anything left at the end of next year could be happily and easily let go.

Finally, I want to spend more time cooking with Tom. He is an excellent cook, and we enjoy making nourishing, satisfying food together. We also enjoy going to museums and such, so I hope that we’ll be able to escape a little more when the weather warms up to take a few day trips.

I hope the new year promises good things for you and yours as well.

Bark

Posted by on 22 Dec 2012 | Tagged as: Uncategorized

Sometimes, we get so focused on the ornamentation, we forget to look at the structures, the backgrounds, the supporting players. And yet, without the background, the quiet workers, the scaffolds, the main players and the ornament cannot stand out.

With trees, it’s the bark…

Here are a few pictures of the bark of trees in the yard this time of year. Not only the original bark color and striations, but the patterns of lichens and mosses on the bark seem to me unique to each species.

Do you recognize any of these?

reddish-brown shiny bark with golden lenticels and light gray spots of thin lichen

dark brown to reddish brown matte bark with white lichen splotches and green horned lichen

yellow-ochre bark with lighter flecks throughout

brown with greenish undertones, scaly texture, white and grey lichen patches

yellow, vertically ridged texture with little variation in tone

To check your answers, go on…

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Solstice Day…

Posted by on 21 Dec 2012 | Tagged as: garden, Gardens and Life, good things, seasons, Uncategorized

Yesterday it was gray, but mostly dry.

Today it is sunny — not warm, but still dry, and such a bright blue sky!

Blue sky with cedar on the left and chestnut branches on the right

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Today in the Garden

Posted by on 20 Dec 2012 | Tagged as: environment, garden, Gardens and Life, good things, hope, seasons, Uncategorized

It has been a while since I posted a garden update that was more than just a few pictures.

Today I decided to focus on the buds that are beginning already to swell on the trees, here at the shortest day of the year. Solstice occurs for us in the wee hours of the morning tomorrow — I took the pictures today since it wasn’t raining.
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Seasonal Song

Posted by on 20 Dec 2012 | Tagged as: children, education, fun, Gardens and Life, good things, holidays, music, Uncategorized

Every December, Student Orchestras of Greater Olympia (SOGO) puts on a brass festival to showcase the talented young musicians in the organization. Brass instrument players from the Academy and Conservatory levels practice for several weeks, with a performance the next-to-last weekend before the winter break.

We enjoy their performances, of course, and eagerly await this pleasant two hours.

Here is a short montage of the music from last Saturday. It’s about 8 minutes long — three familiar tunes. Unfortunately, the audio quality is poor (and tinny) because we forgot the real video camera this year. This is taken from my ipad’s built-in video recorder.

Whole group first, then just the trombones (my kiddo had a nice solo in that piece), then just the trumpets (my other kiddo sat in with the group though he has “graduated” from this orchestra).

SOGO “HOHO” 2012 youtube link.

A piece I have loved for many years (that is not part of this montage) is Mark Thome’s arrangement of Little Drummer Boy. He wrote this a number of years ago, and we were there at the world premier, performed by SOGO kids. It makes use of a “bolero” rhythm, and was unlike anything else I had ever heard. It is magical. Mark is the official “composer in residence” for SOGO, and we are so grateful to have his talents!

If you have a young musician (there is a full orchestra with strings for each level as well as the brass sections) who would like to have a chance to play outside of school — in a caring, supportive atmosphere with professional musicians and teachers, then I highly recommend SOGO to you. The next concert will be in March, and they do occasionally have students begin mid-year.

Yesterday, it snowed. Today…

Posted by on 19 Dec 2012 | Tagged as: Gardens and Life, seasons, Uncategorized, weather

It is raining today. Quite windy at times, but the dominant feature is rain. Steady rain, driving rain, blowing rain, rain mixed with snow, rain that pelts in hard drops, rain rain rain.

Since I don’t have waterproof cameras, I haven’t taken any pics today. Maybe tomorrow…

But yesterday, which was a 2-hour late start for the kiddo, I snapped two pics of the front yard.

A dusting of snow on the driveway, seen through the bare medlar branches

Nearly an inch on the cars, the difficult part was the layers of crusty ice between fluffy but crunchy snow

The snow wasn’t a lot, but there was ice in layers as the temperatures at our elevation (all of about 50 feet above sea level) had fluctuated near freezing all night. Scraping the car windows was a “treat” I could have done without! Luckily, at least on our peninsula, the sun shone most of the day so by evening the roads were clear and so were the lawns.

I suspect we’ll have more snow, the kind that really inconveniences us, in another month or so. Meantime, I really should locate my heavy-duty rubber boots!

A month later… Photos of the garden

Posted by on 17 Dec 2012 | Tagged as: fun, garden, Gardens and Life, good things, Green Living, health, hope, rain, seasons, Uncategorized

In the fullness of autumn, we wandered around the yard, putting things more or less in order, getting ready for the long, cool winter. These are pictures from November, when the rains paused long enough to get a bit more done. Pruning the medlar and the biggest fig tree. Running around the yard with a toy in mouth. Looking at (and eating) the last, sun-deprived-sour blackberries. Admiring the shapes of trees being exposed by leaf fall. Waiting for a change in the weather (which, not coincidentally, occurred just this week; today, in fact).

The pics in the gallery can be expanded to full size by clicking on them, use your browser’s “back” button to return to this page.

The next post will be of some December moments…

Children and high-tech safety issues

Posted by on 17 Dec 2012 | Tagged as: children, citizenship, education, Family Matters, parenting, teaching, technology in education, Uncategorized

Note to readers: I began this 16 days ago, and then was so busy this month it languished. Hopefully it’s still somewhat relevant.

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