Saturday, March 31, 2007

A Hand In It All

My hands are my least favorite feature of my physical self and so I was quite surprised to find that when I looked at this photo objectively I liked it! I like the dirt on my palm and the drop of rain on my ring finger and dry creases of my skin. Double click on the photo to REALLY see what I am talking about! What I originally was after was a picture of this charming epimedium with it's yellow and white center and hot pink petals. I believe that epimediums are also called Fairy Wands or Fairy Lanterns. The next photo is another yellow epimedium followed by a striking sunlight shot of hellebores and a healthy clump of primula.

Bleeding Heart and Ligularia

The Little Things

Top to bottom: Wintergreen (or Indian Chewing gum as my grandma always told me), mauve hellebore, pulmonaria, arisaema (look VERY closely and you can see the little 'mouse tails' of the flowers) and last but not least, the floor of one of my woodland garden beds. The Oregon Grape is about to bloom, it is joined by Goat's Beard and a lovely fern whose name I can't recall.

The BIG Picture

When looking at the 'Big Picture' of all I have to do in my garden I am daunted. All the weeds, more ferns to prune, the second rain barrel that needs to be attached to some sort of drainage system, the old beds that need to be refurbished, the tree stumps and roots that need to be removed, and how, oh how, can I arrange plantings so that the elephantine grey house looks
less obvious; now there's a challenge! Every morning I stroll the yard with my last cup of coffee before work, pulling a weed here and there but mostly I look very closely to see what plants are pushing up and which buds are opening and I scan, and pause to envision what changes could and should be made to make better use of the space and growing conditions.
Today I went to West Seattle Nursery to listen to a landscape designer give a talk on revitalizing front gardens. You probably have noticed, all my pictures are backyard shots, there is a reason for that - the frontyard is ugly. But that will be changing, although not overnight. We have already begun by tearing out a pyracantha hedge and some low growing evergreen ground covers and one of two stunted norway pine trees. As I write this I realize I had better take a picture of the 'before' so everyone can appreciate the transformation. Oh, and the landscape designer said that Europeans call the area where they put their trash and garbage a 'yard' all other parts of their property are referred to as 'gardens'. So I shall take her lead and try to use the term garden to refer to the various vegetation habitats around our domicile.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Early To Rise

It is 5:30 Saturday morning and I cannot sleep. A Pacific Northwest lullaby; the consistent drumming of raindrops on the roof and at the windowpanes, is unable to work it's magic with me today. I stayed up relatively late last night too (11:00) so I am not sure 'what gives' with my sleepless state. I DO know I am on cloud nine to have put report cards behind me because that leaves this weekend pretty much unfettered. Also the cold that struck me like a ton of bricks on Tuesday, is now easing up and I can breathe through my nose most of the time.
Yesterday I brought my worm bin to school for the kids to see. They have just finished looking at nightcrawlers and redworms in our classroom Science program and I thought they would enjoy seeing redworms enmass making rich black soil. I also brough in my kitchen waste can to show them what the worms eat. Alot of "OH YUCK!" greeted that exposure. They were incredulized and I don't think they really belived that the worms MAKE the dirt and to tell you the truth I find the whole process pretty amazing myself. I dumped worm-made soil onto a blue tarp and the kids sifted through it with plastic spoons squealing and calling out to each other as they found worm eggs and pillbugs and at least one tiny slug along with lots of worms. While half of the class examined the worms the other half tore up newspaper for the worm bin bedding. I showed them four pounds of newspaper and explained the worms needed a place to escape from all the food and waste and that was the function of the shredded newspaper bedding. As they tore and tore and tore that newspaper, one wide eyed little girl asked, "Do you do this EVERYDAY Mrs. G?" I had an inside chuckle at that one. I could just imagine her thinking of me at home every night, tearing up newspaper as I sit in my living room. Another enthusiastic paper tearer said, "Maybe the worms don't sleep in the newspaper, maybe they read it!" Everyone laughed at that one.
I always like it when a Friday flows smoothly and I look at my kindergartners and I realize how much they have grown together as a class, and I am struck with how much I love teaching.
The 3:05 bell rings and they are still sitting there, listening and looking closely at the book Spring Is Here by Taro Gomi trying to figure out just how does that author/illustrator blend that calf into the landscape? Then off I send them: 6 to buses, 6 to our childcare, and the remaining dozen give me hugs or high fives and are out the front door into the arms of waiting moms and dads.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

More Like a Lamb

Today's weather was so unlike Friday's! While it never got sunny it did get warmer. it was about 53 when I worked in the yard this afternoon and I actually saw a bee as I raked leaves away from the tulips and hellebores. I think this Ivory Prince hellebore is especially lovely.

In Like a Lion

Yesterday was a wild day in kindergarten. Tiny snowflakes were drifting down when I pulled into the parking lot and that certainly did not escape the notice of the children. But unlike our neighboring communities to the north, nothing accumulated and in fact by recess it was raining and so the kids could not go outside to play and then it was still raining at lunch time so that was another recess inside. Our afternoon math was planned and ready to roll or so we thought but it took way longer than anticipated. We had put together booklets to celebrate 100 and for each page they went to a station to stamp 10 stamps, stick 10 stickers, or glue 10 shapes and by page ten they would have 100 items in their booklet. We all kept very busy; 50 students and 4 teachers (aside from the one child with Asbergers Syndrome who crawled around the edges of the action making puppy noises) and there was very little wait time for anyone. This math activity took roughly an hour and a half and when the bell rang the kids were shocked, they couldn't believe they had worked right through their 'Activity Center Time' (the 45 minutes of work disguised as play that we usually have at the end of each day). And I was left with tables gobbed with glue left to clean and a meeting with an educational researcher. Oh yes, and the stinky land snails' habitats had to be cleaned and stocked with food before we left. Have I mentioned that I gave up alcohol and chocolate for Lent? Well, on Friday I felt like I was going to 'cave', but I didn't! Two kid quotes from this week:
"Mrs. Goethe is that white stuff snail poop?", total amazement on the child's face when I answer "yes" . And from a chubby little clown in my room, as he hikes his pants up to his armpits and runs willy nilly around the room: "I'm a nerd! I'm a nerd!"