Monday, March 31, 2008

A Day Well Spent

Great Containers at Swansons Nursery
Originally uploaded by mtnester.

Today I took my my coworker/friend, Sharon, out to lunch for her birthday. We went to the Old Town Ale house in Ballard and had delicious gumbo. Then we headed on up to Crown Hill and spent 3 hours perusing containers and plants at Swanson's Nursery. They had containers on sale 40% off and I got 2 in a light green, similar to the pot in the middle and on the right of this mosaic. I bought 2 heavenly bamboo plants as the focal plant for each pot. That's my start...who knows what direction I will take next. I won't take any photos of my own pots until they are fully planted and established. I sure got some great ideas at Swanson's though!

Sunday, March 30, 2008


I have plenty of good photos to choose from for Green Thumb Sunday. I will share Forget Me Nots:

in honor of 'old friends' who have found me through blogging channels. And this

because I always like the look of blue next to yellow.


Spring Break at last. Along with an earlier Easter, this year's calendar has an earlier Spring Break for Seattle's schools. So that means more time in the classroom between April and June, but really, this break had to happen like, right away ! It actually would've been better if it had started along with the snow on Friday at about 10:30 in the morning. The snow started falling and that was all the chatter for adults AND kids. It was wet snow so it wasn't sticking. Then they announced 'Rainy Day Recess' for snow which means all these jumpy kiddos are plastering themselves to available windows watching the snow and telling each other every conceivable story of what they are going to do in the snow. But wait, it gets better. By lunch recess the stuff is sticking and one little guy chortles (over and over), "It's like a winter wonderland!" I harrumph, "How about a SPRING wonderland?" So lunch recess was inside too. And of course it was Friday which is a no prep time day for us. Then there were all the odds and ends we had to dispense to each of them to take home: little Keep Books for reading, a reading calendar and homework, Progress Reports for second trimester, and of course the bean plant that they had begun two weeks earlier. Now THAT is the picture I wish I had taken; smiling five and six year old faces above the stems and leaves of freshly sprouted beans in paper cups. Aside from the calendar routine we dispensed with math and started Activity Centers early, it seemed like the most sane solution to an already crazy day. By 3:10 dismissal the snow was gone. By dismissal, I mean the kids' dismissal. I stayed at school 'till 7:10, held one brief conference, cleaned up the snack storage, rewrote our sight word chart, filed this and that, sent the isopods from our Science lesson to a better home in the compost bin, took down the charts from the Animals 2x 2 unit, put up the calendar for April, and spent major time reorganizing the cart with the document camera and that led to reorganizing some of the classroom seating (they'll be surprised!). Sometime during that four hours, the 4th grade returned from their 3 days at Camp Orkilla and I had to hear a few stories about their adventure...especially the part where the bus got into an accident! Yes, it is true! It seems the driver made it safely with our students all the way to the circle in front of the building where he smacked the bumper of a car as he was making a left into the circle. No one was hurt and everyone could just walk up to the building from there. Out of all the great things they probably did at Orkilla and this accident is most likely what they will remember! 7:00 came around quicker than I imagined. Now I can set work aside and enjoy the week ahead, released from 102A.

This photo was taken outside our classroom door. After lunch, classroom life got way too hectic to even consider picking up a camera. For a professionally photographed, serene view of Friday's snow fall in West Seattle visit David Perry's site.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Happy Easter!

It is pouring rain and the forecast is for more of the same for the next four days. But hey, I am not complaining! Relatives in Wisconsin talk of 14 inches of new snow in Milwaukee. Now that is NOT Easter weather. I can understand totally why my youngest sister and her family are headed to Galveston, Texas for spring break. And my lucky daughter is on the Ultimate Frisbee circuit for her spring break. She is in Statesboro, GA right now. We talked yesterday and she gloated, "It was so warm today we had to find shade to get out of the sun. I even got a little sun burned." We do have rain today but spring is all around with many trees and flowers just pushing out the blooms right and left. Garden sales are right around the corner; yippee! Yesterday was lovely and our freshly mowed and edged lawn looks lush in the rain. So Happy Easter everyone! I'm off to put last minute touches on dinner preparation: honey baked ham, roasted asparagus with herbs du Provance, spinach with bacon and grapefruit salad, cheesy potato casserole with Ranch dressing, shortbread and sorbet for dessert. But now it is time for a mimosa and a hard boiled egg.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Come On A My House

Come On A My House by Rosemary Clooney. I can't identify who sang the last song on my ipod so it is a mystery to me why this song from my childhood popped into my head when I saw one of the wren houses stuffed with nesting material. The male wren's courtship routine is to entice a female with his selection of nesting materials. Thusly, the dandelion is hanging out of the house, not tucked neatly inside. I sure hope he is successful! Last year we had a house in a nearby bush and the neighborhood feral cat knocked it out and all 5 baby wrens died. We had already observed the cat skulking about under the bush in recent weeks so we moved the bird house to this post and added a second house to the other end of the patio.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008


"Cheers! To friendship and good food!" After a day at Pike Place Market and the Seattle Sculpture Park Sue and I returned home to relax, uncork a bottle of Snoqualmie 2006 Chardonnay, more talk and the joy of slicing and stirring together in the kitchen. We had chosen a Madras Curry at the Market Spice shop and this was the perfect recipe to try it out:

1/2 c. chopped walnuts
1 (14 1/2 oz.) can fat free chicken broth
3 Tblsp. cornstarch
1 Tblsp. Curry
1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breasts cut into 1 inch cubes
2 medium carrots, peeled and thinly sliced on the diagonal
1 small red bell pepper (green is ok) seeded and sliced into thin strips
2-4 green onion, sliced on diagonal into 1/2 inch pieces
salt to taste
3 cups hot, cooked long grain white rice (we used a mixture of brown and jasmine)

Toast walnuts 1-2 minutes in a dry skillet, set aside
In a medium bowl whisk together broth, cornstarch and curry powder; set aside. Coat a large skillet with a tablespoon of cooking oil and saute chicken on medium high till golden brown, about 5 minutes. Stir in carrots, bell pepper and onion and saute 2 minutes more.
Stir in curry mixture and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium low, cover and cook stirring occasionally, until sauce is thickened, chicken is cooked through and the veggies are crisp-tender,about 4 minutes. Season with salt, if desired. Spoon rice into bowls, top with curried chicken and vegetables, garnish with toasted walnuts.
Serves 6. (recipe from Healthy Eating magazine)

Sue and I have been friends since, well, a LONG time. We met through a mutual friend, Jeanne. All three of us swam at the YMCA going from Minnow through to Shark. Then in high school we all worked together in the kitchen of St. Mary's Hospital. Sue is a professor in the area of toxicology, Jeanne is a dietitian, and I teach kindergarten. Sue and Jeanne went to the University of Wisconsin in Madison while I stayed at home in Green Bay for college. I can't begin to tell you how I looked forward to those adventurous weekends when I went to visit them in Madison! And yet it is I who moved furthest from home when all was said and done. While our only contact is usually a Christmas letter or rare phone call; all three of us are scheming to have a girls get away in 2009.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Sunday AGAIN!

A whole week has gone by; hard to believe! I have been very busy with starting report cards and Wednesday night we went to a ballet and Thursday I went to a reconciliation service at church(I just KNOW you would like me to blog about that) and then on Friday my friend Sue arrived from Illinois. This photo is NOT from my garden although it sure would be nice to have a sculpture of this caliber right in my own backyard! It is in Seattle's sculpture garden. The featured plant is a native Mahonia, also called Oregon Grape, which is full of yellow blooms (click to enlarge). Also in the picture is a small sword fern. O.K. time for a run, the newspaper, and then a walk along Alki with Sue.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Today's Garden

The rhubarb is up!

The new green of euphorbia stands out against the rockery.

This bee does a drunken bumble as he drags his heavy pollen sacks from floret to floret.

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Back to the Land of the Living

While I am not operating at 100%, I certainly feel that I am on the upside of rising out of the morass of snot and lung searing coughing that has wracked my body for the past week. On Monday TEN of my students were out with this bug, by yesterday only 2 were out sick from my class but my team teaching partner sent 3 home sick. This is one set of germs that is particularly vicious. As a veteran teacher I am tough as nails to most 'bugs', but not this one. Goodness knows I say, "Get your fingers out of your nose and WASH YOUR HANDS!" about a zillion times a week. Actually, this group of kids is not too much of a nose picker crowd....that's one of the many scales that teachers of primary kids measure their class: Nose Picking. Bet you didn't know that. Through all this I have discovered my new favorite drug: Musinex D along with huge amounts of water to keep the mucus moving.

This week I almost 'lost it' during the math lesson where the kids were to make 'planks' of craft sticks that have 5 dots on each plank, then we were to make rafts of 5 'planks'. The teachers' manual said to glue beans to the craft sticks. Are they insane? We thought that coloring 5 dots on sticks was easier than gluing beans. It probably was easier, but try teaching a 5 year old how to space 5 dots evenly on a craft stick; I still don't have a perfect technique down. All this is for a game they play to learn to make exchanges for 5. I do have to admit that part of my tension with this lesson has it roots in my own 8th grade grade experience of gluing 10 beans onto craft sticks to make 100 bean rafts. Tall, spare Sister Mary Magdalene, with her wire rimmed spectacles and no nonsense manner was our teacher of the 'New Math' and I am sure she probably wondered WTF she was trying teach as she supervised red beans, glue, craft sticks, and cocky adolescent hormones. We did as we were told but I still remember the frustrated look in her eyes as she tried to explain to me what a row of beans had to do with the number 10 or 15, etc. It was an incongruous idea to many of us 8th graders; we already knew how to add, subtract, multiply and divide multiple digit numbers and usually came up with the right answers. So what were these beans for? Now I know that it was that time in education history when curriculum was just starting to reflect the understanding that using manipulatives and having hands on experiences was important in laying the foundation for concept development. As I look back on this I don't know who I feel sorrier for, Sister MM or us kids. Obviously the lesson stayed with me, but not for reasons intended.

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Much Appreciated

This weekend was rain free and would've been perfect for working in the gardens but I was just too sickly. So I sat in the sun in my dining room and admired the lovely tulips that were a total surprise to receive on Friday after school. Thank you Susan! Unexpected thoughtfulness is always appreciated.

Feeling Crappy; Hear Me Whine

I cannot breathe, I cannot smell, I do not feel so very well. (Can you tell by the cadence in that opener that I am trying to get myself ready for Dr. Seuss week at school?) I have not been hit with a cold of this magnitude in years and if anyone is to blame it is my husband since he came down with one first. I really should have taken Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday off of work but I just did not have the energy to write up substitute plans at the end of each work day. Instead I opted for crawling into bed by 8:30 each night and skipping my early morning exercise to reserve my energy for the classroom. I've made it...even attending Math Night at school but I am far from healthy. This morning I did go for a run but only at about half speed. I'm not ready to return the Bikram yoga classes I began last Monday which is a drag because I only have a one month certificate which I purchased at an auction. I am definitely in the 'sick zone'; eating doesn't appeal to me, my nose burns and drips, the right side of my head aches and I keep looking at the clock to see when I can take the next decongestant. It's a day for lounge wear, cozy socks, sappy shows on Lifetime, and homemade chicken soup for dinner.