Sunday, February 24, 2008

Falling Slowly

What can I say? Falling Slowly just won an Oscar. It just had to happen, what a beautiful song.

Through The Garden Window

Green Thumb Sunday

Join Green Thumb Sunday

Gardeners, Plant and Nature lovers can join in every Sunday, visit As the Garden Grows for more information. The two geraniums I dragged inside for the winter are doing just lovely. Every time I take them down from the window to water, the pungent smell of their leaves greets my nose and reminds me of summer. When I bought these geraniums it was because I liked the pink flowers and how they contrasted with the burgundy stems. Since bringing them in for the winter the stems have turned green. I wonder if they will go back to burgundy when I put them outside.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Lettuce Begin

Lettuce Begin by saying the week was everything a gardener could hope for and more. Here you see the lettuce I started two weeks ago. Now I am 'hardening it' by putting it outside in the daytime and bringing it in for night. So just what did I do besides take Flat Blake around town? Here's a brief list;
1. Washed and waxed the car
2. Sent in our taxes and also did a rough draft of 'the daughter's' taxes.
3. Cut down LOTS of ferns and spread a yard of compost.
4. Went into the classroom and did 4 hours of planning for the upcoming Math night, displayed some 'kid work' and moved around some seating.
5. I am a wienie when it comes to getting shots, so this one is quite surprising...I got a cortisone shot in my elbow for 'golfer's elbow' and NO I do NOT golf. But now I can pronate my left arm with the best of the duffers should I choose.
6. Did some serious cleaning. Hey those micro fibre dust cloths are AMAZING! I should have listened to my mom when she recommended them months ago!
7. Ran in glorious sunshine for six days in a row.
8. Finished reading Love in the Time of Cholera at LONG last. I do NOT recommend it; the leading character is creepy. He pines away for his first love for five decades and his obsession with getting her back strikes me as stalker behavior. Also, this guy has numerous affairs over the decades including a pedophiliac relationship with his niece that really got my bile up.
9. Bought 2 end tables from an antique store. They will need painting but I think they just might be the match I needed for the lamp bases I bought earlier in the month.
10. Relaxed completely.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Closer to Home

Back in the car, along the shoreline we went. This is the ferry dock in the Fauntleroy neighborhood. You can catch a ferry to Vashon Island or to Southworth on the Kitsap Penninsula. There are lots of islands and lots of ferry boats in the Puget Sound. This happens to be the dock closest to my house. On foggy mornings I can hear the fog horns as they warn the ferry boats traveling from dock to dock.
Well Flat Blake, you were a nice enough house guest but the conversation was kind of one sided at times. Be sure and tell the REAL Blake what a good time you had; who knows maybe he will get out to Seattle someday!

EPILOGUE: Amidst protest I put Flat Blake into an envelope along with some Seattle souvenirs and mailed him back to Oshkosh this morning. I don't know why he was complaining so much; I gave him a bigger envelope!

Warm Sand

This is Alki beach. I recognized this boy as a student from the school where I teach. He was very happy to pose for the camera with Flat Blake. Everyone has jackets on because the air is cool but the sand felt so wonderfully warm. This beach can be very crowded in summer. It is a great place to play in the sand and to have picnics. There are never very many people in the water. The water in the Puget Sound stays pretty cold all year around. Kids do go in the water to cool off when summer is here, they just don't stay in for very long. Beach time is the most fun when it is low tide and you can take walks along the shore looking for crabs, anemones, sea stars in many colors, chitons, and sea cucumbers. If you are REALLY lucky you might see a baby octopus.

Fish and Chips With A View

So you say you're hungry? (Click to enlarge and you will see Flat Blake on the door) This is my favorite Fish and Chips place along Alki Beach. It is at Seacrest Park. Go for the halibut; it costs a bit more than cod but is so much yummier in my opinion. You can also rent skates here or get a kayaking lesson. It is also where to catch the pedestrian ferry to downtown in summertime.

Say "Cheese"

We met some very nice tourists and I took their picture, they took ours. Here we are at the viewpoint in Jack Block Park.

Looking South

Here is Flat Blake looking south towards the Duwamish (the native tribe of the Seattle area) waterway. Being a port city is big business for Seattle. See all those containers? They come off of ships and are then placed on rail cars bound for many parts of our country. Containers also are loaded onto barges and head up to Alaska.
See those clouds on the horizon? If they were not there, you would be looking at Mount Rainier. If you are ever around Seattle for more than a 4 or 5 days it is a good idea to take a day trip to Mount Rainier. Just before the park's Nisqually entrance stop and eat at the Copper Creek Cafe. They have the most delicious blackberry pies imaginable! Get out at Paradise Lodge, stretch your legs, take a hike. But, to really appreciate being in the mountains, it has to be a sunny day.

What's That Noise?

Ark, ARK,ARK! The din from water drew us to the fence. It was a group of happy seals on their backs, flippers in the air, enjoying the sunny day just like everyone else.

Flat Blake at Port of Seattle Shoreline Park

Don't these floats look like big Christmas ornaments? Every time I see them I say to myself, "We should take a Christmas photo here." They are fun to sit on although in the summer the sun heats them up so hot you could fry an egg on their surface.

Flat Blake in Seattle's Chinatown

Lucky for us we slipped right into a parking space in Chinatown. We also call it The International District. This is a very old part of Seattle but the colorful gate is brand new and beautiful. If you like Asian food, the food court at Uwajimayas is a good place to go with lots of choices. I enjoy buying bubble tea there. But it was too beautiful out today to hang around downtown! We got back into the car and I drove the scenic route back into West Seattle.

Part Two of Flat Blake's Adventures

After my haircut we headed back towards downtown. Seattle has lots of hills, not quite as steep as in San Francisco but there are a lot of them. Here we are heading west down Yesler. I pointed out our oldest multi-story building, the Smith Tower. Isn't it quaint? You know I have never been inside of the Smith Tower? I guess I have to put that on my 'to do someday' list. The sleek black building is the Bank of America Tower and I've got to tell you, the best view of the city, the mountains, and Lake Washington are from the observation deck of this 72 story building and it is a whole lot more affordable than the Space Needle's elevator. Yes, you are still riding on the dash and I took the photos through the window.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Flat Blake

On Tuesday I got a wonderful surprise! A silent and slender visitor slipped out of an envelope. He hails from Oshkosh, Wisconsin and he is here as an emissary to help a first grade class learn about maps and other cities and states. His name is Flat Blake .I'm sure those of you who have young children or if you are a teacher, you are familiar with the book Flat Stanley. This, I am certain, is a marvelous learning extension from that book!
Here are photos of Flat Blake's trip to Seattle. In this post I will try to describe what is happening. First off, he just could not WAIT to jump out of that envelope! He zipped out to our deck to get some fresh air and enjoy the view. That is the Puget Sound (which is is not the actual ocean but it leads to the ocean) in the distance behind the trees.
He must've slept well 'cuz he was eager to hop in the car with me this morning. I couldn't get him to wear a seatbelt, he was a real rowdy one, he rode on the dash. I guess he just wanted to be able to see out the window. I had a hair cut appointment across town and wasn't planning to make any stops but I found a parking spot near Seattle Center (where the Space Needle is) and took a photo of F.Blake with the Needle in the background. Problem was, he did not want to let go of that phone pole and get back into the car! I could understand this since at Seattle Center there is the Pacific Science Center, a big fountain, a Children's Museum, a game arcade, a few rides and of course the Needle itself which has a great gift shop and for a fee (kind of expensive) you can take an elevator to the top. Finally with a promise to show him one of the scariest spots in Seattle he got back into my car. Then we headed to the Freemont neighborhood where there is this troll that lives under the bridge (that's the Aurora Bridge). I was impressed with F. Blake, he insisted on having his photo taken as he sat not fluttering one little bit , on the troll's hand.
To be continued...

Monday, February 18, 2008

Mowing Man

After the skate on Alki just what did we accomplish? Well, 'the man' mowed the back expanse and I cut down 4 more clumps of Swordtail fern and then, feeling that my vitamin D intake was sufficient, I went in to clean the inside of my garden window and do the dusting. Then I made a trip to Trader Joe's and spent an unspeakable amount of $$ on nuts, dried fruit, wine, and other sinful goodies. Next I washed the Subaru. So although I woke up late, it was a productive,fun filled day.

Lady Liberty on Alki

Lady Liberty on Alki
Originally uploaded by mtnester.

Let freedom ring! This my President's Day post. Liberty never looked better, even from the back.

See Mt. Baker?

See Mt. Baker?
Originally uploaded by mtnester.

I would like to say that every mountain possible was visible today but I did not see the mountain we are most connected to; Mt. Rainier. But Mt. Baker is lovely, don't you think.?

Skating Man

Skating Man
Originally uploaded by mtnester.

After that hefty breakfast we had a leisurely skate along Alki. I was surprised that it was so quiet. Aside from several dog walkers and buggy brigades, it was fairly unpopulated. Since I had not skated since November, the lack of pedestrians was a blessing to me.

Winter in Seattle

Winter in Seattle
Originally uploaded by mtnester.

I told you we had lovely weather today. I awoke at a leisurely 8:30. I know , what IS wrong with me? My usual wake up is 5:11. What can I say: I must've needed it. Anyway 'the man' was hungry and he had promised me a breakfast out, so off we went to Easy Street, arrived at about 9:30 and it took FOREVER to be served. They were short on staff and high on customers. But, it was worth the wait. I really enjoyed my egg sandwich, bacon, and hashbrowns. That sure upped our cholesterol levels.

It's True

It's true, the bluest skies you'll ever see are in Seattle. On a day in the middle of winter they are doubly welcome. This photo is from the blog Slightly North. Although today was a day that made any camera toting idiot like myself just grin and shoot here, there, and everywhere, because the beauty of it all was so obvious.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Green Thumb Sunday

Green Thumb Sunday

Join Green Thumb Sunday

Gardeners, Plant and Nature lovers can join in every Sunday, visit As the Garden Grows for more information.
What a lovely day to work outside. Not much wind to speak of and sunny all day long. See my list to the left for the skinny on just what I did to my gardens. I was outside for about 3 hours working away. Go to my Flickr page to see more photos.

Saturday, February 16, 2008


I went to day one of the Sacred Harp Convention. I only stayed for an hour and a half as my vocal cords are not totally in working order yet. I would've loved to have stayed longer but I could feel the strain so it was easier to follow the Dr.'s orders and not go full throttle back into singing. It was so great to be at the convention and see people that I had not seen in months. While I am not close to any of them, I find them all to be very welcoming, intelligent, and certainly more musical than I am! Some of them are so unique in their style of leading a song. If you are in the Seattle area you still have one more day to go and listen at the Sunset Hill Community Club in Ballard. Here is Jack Lofton leading #328 Praise God.

Suits Me to a 'T'

Simple red and white tulips in a vase on our table greeted me when I got home from work on Valentines Day. He couldn't have chosen better! How I yearn for the tulips in my garden to appear. This Valentine bouquet helps to tide me over.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Comfort Food

Winter is the time when I pull out my casserole recipes and experiment with a new one or two. This is Baked Rice with Sausage from a One Pot Meal cookbook. Upon reading, the recipe reminded me of the Spanish rice my mom fixed when I was a kid. It is probably a little healthier, I used chicken sausage instead of pork. I grilled them before tossing them into the casserole. I also used half brown rice and half jasmine rice. I tossed in extra peppers and used less onions to pacify my husband. The chicken stock was fat free. A couple brisk shakes of Tabasco was my last minute addition to zip it up a bit.
The recipe said it served four, but those four must be lumberjacks! And what a surprise to see how colorful it was when I whisked off the lid. It was delicious and I am certain we will get at least two more meals out of it.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

So Sweet

Valentines Day is just around the corner as all the florists and jewelers having been reminding us for at least the past 2 weeks. The kindergarteners are also in a tizzy over exchanging cards with each other. And my are they ever proud of their ability to put their vows of love into words. I was the grateful recipient of one such proclamation and nice as the notes and hugs are....I still hope that the HB 2458/SB 6376 which address limiting class size at grades K-2 and giving educators the 3%COLA that taken from us in the '03-'05 budget, both pass. Tuesday is the deadline for writing to your WA legislators regarding these bills. Give the teachers in your life a Valentine; send an email! Go here to see a video of why class size matters; although you would have to be pretty dense if you didn't understand the concept of LESS kids meaning MORE time for each child from the classroom teacher. In the video the teachers say they have 25 students and I am envious; we have 28 in each of our kindergartens! Large classes also impact how available teachers are to meet with parents to discuss questions and concerns about their children. More kids take more time, plain and simple. As for the 3%pay raise, we deserve it and it is absolutely critical if we want to attract and keep new teachers. On a personal note, my husband found out last Wednesday that he is one of the 750 Macy's office employees in Seattle that will be out a job sometime this spring. Yes, that 3% would be appreciated more than ever in this household. While I am on a political roll, you KNOW I am just glowing with excitement over the huge Obama's huge success in the Washington caucuses yesterday! As to you nay sayers out there who think his speaking skills mask deficits in his knowledge of international policy and issues; you are selling him short. This man is very intelligent and I am certain while the learning curve would be steep, he CAN do it! Besides, with his ability to communicate he could do wonders in changing the image of the U.S.abroad.
So what did we do this weekend? I went to Esquin and bought a bottle of this and a bottle of that. Copywriters for wines and plants have me pegged. I read their descriptions and I just can't resist buying. Other than that I am not much of a consumer. I also browsed second hand stores for mid century end tables. I bought the perfect lamps, now I need the tables. Is that backwards? Oh, I need the shades too!
Last night we joined our friends Joe and Val in Kent for dinner. As always the food was fabulous. A ginger beef stir fry and a black rice salad (very tasty, it had avacado and orange in it) with coconut sorbet for dessert. I intended on posting the salad recipe but Blogger may not be saving my post...if you want the recipe, leave a comment.

Monday, February 04, 2008

Tune In

I just got an email from a Sacred Harp singer in regards to a local radio station that will be playing this traditional music to promote our upcoming convention. Here are the particulars:

KBCS 2/9 "Our Saturday Tradition" (9:00 to noon; the Sacred Harp segment will be aired at about 11:00

Same station, 2/10 "The Old Country" a re-air about the Pacific Northwest Singers; an hour long documentary style program including recordings from the 2004 convention and interviews with local singers.

Please 'tune in' or better yet, visit the convention. I guarantee, "It arouses the spirit!"

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Oh Crap!

Sorry friendly readers out there, I am putting comment moderation into the settings for my blog. Somehow a bookseller got through to my last post and a left a comment which linked to their online store. This just means it may take a day or two before your comments are posted. Keep on reading! I can tell from my site meter that the person is located in Hong Kong...probably some poor sap in an internet version of a call center.

Saturday, February 02, 2008

The Week That Was

So, the week was hectic and although it was only 4 1/2 days of work it did not feel that way. The district gave us the Mid Year assessment for math on Jan. 24th and wants it done by Wednesday of this week for data team meetings. Alright, it takes on average 30 minutes per student to deliver the kindergarten assessment. Let's do the math; 28 students times 30 minutes = 840 minutes. Divide 840 by 60 and you get 12 hours and 20 minutes. Now, the school day is 6 hours for students. But wait! Take out lunch and morning recess and you are left with 5 hours and 15 minutes of time with students. Oh! Don't forget 40 minutes of P.E., Library, or Art on Monday through Thursday. Now we are down to 4 hours and 35 minutes per day Monday through Thursday. Well, I think you are beginning to see; it would take nearly 3 full days of school doing nothing other than giving the math assessment to get it completed. Is this sensible? I won't go there. So how are we doing it our classroom? Bits and pieces. We DID suspend literacy for 2 days and we used an Instructional Assistant to help. Our principal (bless her heart) is getting us a sub for Tuesday so we can do the most onerous sections of the test; counting objects using regrouping and story problems for addition and subtraction.
Come three o'clock on Tuesday I am going to be the one needing graham crackers and a nap!
Last Wednesday night we represented our school at a Kinderfair held at the nearby community college from 6:00 to 9:00 (TOO long!) It is fun to talk with curious and enthusiastic parents who, rightfully so, take serious interest in choosing a school for their children. It is one of the things that keeps me from getting jaded. We signed up at least a dozen more people for one of the weekly tours of our school. Next year we have been told that we do not need to have any more than 26 students which is a tiny bit of relief. To be honest though, it only makes a difference in the classroom if I have 23 or less...not that my class has ever been that small. I just know that I get around to more students when, due to absences, there are 23 or less of them. Logical, huh? My biggest point to make for lower class size is summed up in one word; communication. I could communicate with students and adjust their instruction more frequently, I could communicate with more parents on a regular basis and enlist their help in their child's education.
Then on Thursday we had a scheduled tour group come through our classroom. The kids are getting very comfortable with all these visitors peering at us. I told them in the early a.m. as I prepped them for the day, "I want you to be such good students when our visitors come through I just want to see little wings coming out of your backs and halos above your heads." They looked at my smile and one of them got it and chortled,
"angels!" "Well yes, or close to it," I added. And darned if they weren't just that.
My teaching partner and I were busily testing a couple kids and the others were at their tables writing numbers in their calendars or words and sentences in their tablets. The biggest crack up for me was little S. who paused in our testing and looks at me with big brown eyes and says, "I guess these are our customers, huh?" Honestly, I never have referred to prospective families as 'customers' but I had to answer, "Yes, S., I guess you are right!"
On Friday we had Crazy Hair Day and THAT was wild. Pink hair, purple hair, spiked hair, teased hair, lots of wonderful silliness. See my other blog for a couple photos.
So now it is the weekend. It continues to be chilly but at least the rain held off and I did a bit of clean up in my gardens. Tonight we have a couple dvds to view. I have schlepped some school work home and I have a house to dust tomorrow. No I will not be watching the Super Bowl, unless it is for the commercials. I grudgingly give my support to the Giants if pressed to take sides. All of you who DO watch, pay attention to the calories you consume, I've read that gluttony abounds amongst Super Bowl viewers.

The Cost of a Cutie

Cuties, that is the title of one of my previous posts. Now that I have a site meter I can see that it is one of my more popular posts. This really cracks me up because obviously most people are NOT expecting to see a picture of citrus fruit! Although at least one person visiting 'Cuties' DID enter from an online coupon site. But, she must've been doing so from work because I saw the name of a bank listed in the IP address. So maybe I will use this knowledge to jack up my blog hits. How about a post on composting entitled Hot Dirt or one on the feral cat that can't get enough of our garden; let's call it Wild Pussy! Yee haw, now I'm on a roll! Then I look at the world map from the resources on Site Meter and I see the various places my visitors hail from, both here in the U. S. and abroad. I am pretty good at figuring out who most of them are. riseoutofme is in Ireland, wakeupandsmellthecoffee is in the UK and HG's friend Gille is in Sweden, I have students with family in India and Iran, I have friends in France. Then of course there are scads of relatives and my own blog haunts; Piffle, Quiet Life, and Confessions of a Rotten Correspondent in the mid west and Jen at A Snowball's Chance In... who is spending sleepless nights in Georgia and Tanya at Learning To Live, chronicling the growth of baby Chase in Hawaii. But who in the heck in Sterett, Alabama is checking up on me? Good Lord! They are on SO much it must be Big Brother or some stalker who finds my 'dull as dirt' day to day musings intriguing for some odd reason. All of this is to say I am enjoying my site meter.