Saturday, June 28, 2008

Bee Magnet

About ten years ago I bought these little spike dracaena-like plants as fillers for a container planting. Much to my surprise they survived through the winter. I put them in the containers flanking the stairs along with geraniums. Well, they out grew the geraniums and now they look like palms. They are not unique in Seattle, I see them everywhere. This is the first year for one of ours to bloom. It looks sort of like a 3 foot flocked Christmas tree coming out of the top or the palm at an angle. Looks rather Dr. Seussville to me. The bees are all abuzz around it, especially in the morning.

This time I think I finally put the macro feature on my camera to good use. This tiny orchid-like flower is one of many that waves from thin stems of the ginger groundcover in my woodland garden.

These airy mushrooms stand tall in the cool mornings then they flop as the sun warms the lawn. They look a bit like they are turned inside out.


Getting into the relaxing mode has never been easy for me. I actually DID go into my classroom twice last week to do a bit of organizing of math materials and while I made a dent, I have about 8 hours more to do. There are about a dozen math games to organize and label. I will be satisfied with the end result. It has been challenging to prepare materials for our new math program (Everyday Mathematics) this past year. Next year will be easier in comparison.

I also did a thorough Spring (Oops, it's summer!)cleaning of my kitchen. That includes ceiling, walls, floor, cupboards and counters. The smell of Murphy's Oil tells me it is spic and span. See what I mean about me and relaxing?

O.K. I won't whine too much but 90 degrees is HOT! One more day of high temperatures and then we ease back to the usual 75 degrees. A good breeze kept it bearable today. I even took an hour this afternoon to just lay in the shade, read a book and look up at the trees waving their leafy green against the clear blue sky. That's rare for me. Instead of looking down and digging in the dirt, I was lolling about on the cool green grass and looking up and around and totally enjoying our lovely gardens. Not that I didn't do a bit of gardening; of course I did.

Along with raccoons, squirrels, 2 feral cats, and a variety of birds, possums sometimes visit our yard.

In fact, this year one particular possum decided to make our lawn his deathbed; during the middle of Wednesday afternoon, WHILE I was gardening. Opossums are nocturnal by nature so we should have known something was up but no, I thought he was just slowly strolling between the lawn chairs and keeling over feigning dead for my entertainment. The hubs gets online and every few minutes he appears at the doorway to the patio to share some new possum tidbit with me.
"They really do play possum, and they are marsupials not rodents, they have a pouch."

A few minutes later: "They have opposable thumbs like humans, the females have 13 nipples."

"Too much information!" I yell.

And still he shares more; "They actually are very clean, fastidious even."

And furthermore; "they have 55 teeth, more than any other land mammal." Just what I need to hear as one is nosing about under the hydrangea only two yards from me, the weeding gardener.

When we went inside for the night we fully expected the toothy, prehensile tailed critter to come to his senses and amble off before morning. I was actually quite sad to see his dead corpse still there, near the lawn chairs. So where is he now you ask? Sometimes having a vacant lot next door is SO convenient.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Summer Solstice Parade

View slideshow
If you are not intimidated by bare butts on bicycles take a look at my slide show from photos taken at the Solstice Parade in Freemont. This is a zany parade that ushers in summer every year in Seattle. Freemont has gone upscale in the past decade with a PCC Peets coffee, Starbucks, a big brew pub and a sushi restaurant. No more DB. Coopers, no more Red Door. But it still manages to attract free thinkers and free spirits. Back in the 1980s the naked cyclists would make a surprise zip through the parade, usually toward the end. Now they are a feature to START the parade. And boy oh boy, once you let these exhibitionists on the road it is tough to get them off. They spin, they strut, they wave and grin ear to ear. Then the 'constable' takes charge. Some guy dressed in a constable costume and a Charlie Chaplin mustache, turns them around at the curve to allow for the rest of the parade to commence. They comply but not until they make 3 or 4 spins past the onlookers. The newspaper said there was an estimated 10,000 people at the parade and I believe it. My guess is that at least 5000 of us had cameras. To see more from other photographers go to Flickr. Oh, and while you do see plenty of skin at this parade you won't see any motorized vehicles or floats and no written words; you are expected to find the symbolism in the costumes and floats. The Spaghetti Monster (in slide show) is a spoof on Intelligent Design.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

A Visitor

...From Wisconsin! My niece Terra arrived on my last day of school. What a wonderful way for me to zip right into the vacation mode! If she had not arrived I would've puttered far too long in my classroom, giving the school district dozens more hours of unpaid time. Over the years I have found that it is best for my mental health to have a vacation or other self indulgent experience that very first weekend that school is out. Terra's arrival was perfect. This was a long overdue visit. When she was little she would be visiting us either with my parents or on her own every other year. I do not know where the time went but we figure it had been at least 12 years since her last time in Seattle. We went to Pike Place Market, shopped and lunched downtown. Our library impressed her as it does everyone. (How many cities can boast a library on their 'must see' list?) We exercised together. (It is so wonderful who have a guest who understands my daily requirements for running or lifting weights.) I have NOWHERE near her stamina (After all she IS a competitive mountain bike racer and nearly half my age.) The running, the hike on Rattlesnake Ledge, playing Yahtzee with you and Molly (I thought Yahtzee was a game of chance, boy was I wrong!), cooking and eating together, and going to the zany Solstice Parade in Freemont; it was all great fun!
You come back soon, you hear?

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Big 'Shroom

There is plenty of beauty abloomin' in my gardens but for today I chose this amazing mushroom from the front yard under the deodor cedar. I could've chosen from a variety of mushrooms popping up all around our yard; in the gardens, in the lawn, some are dainty and ghostly and others are sturdy and fleshy like this big one.

Two more days of school with kids! I do love teaching but the days are longer and no one seems to be getting enough sleep. Everyone's focus is somewhere else; out the window, out the door, at the beach, anywhere but inside the classroom. We are all ready for a vacation. Now that the weather just might be warming up we might actually have a summer!

Friday, June 13, 2008

Field Day

Our weather was not all that warm today but everyone sure had a fantastic time at field day. Our principal took a dunking in this photo and just look at all the surprise in the faces of these onlookers!

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Frothy Plumes

One thing about all this rain is that foliage is extra tall and thick. I've only had to water twice in May. Having two rain barrels helps too. It means a lot of toting and is more time consuming than using a sprinkler but it is the 'right thing' to do. The frothy white plumes of Goats Beard are tickling the branches of the 'no longer flowering' cherry. In the foreground you see the leaves of an abutilon that will bloom in shades of buttery yellow in late summer.

Red Trumpets

Is this weigala? I suspect so. I always call it the Flaming Trumpet shrub. It was probably planted in 1953 as part of the original landscaping. It doesn't do much for me aesthetically much of the year but it sure is lovely in June. I have considered pulling it out but I am not sure what I put in it's place. This south fence line is one of my tricky spots. As trees have been cut down and BIG houses built in adjacent lots the sun to shade ratio has changed. The crocosmia loves this space. But what to put in front of the crocosmia? This year's experiment is hardy begonias.

I cannot believe how cold it is today. We have space heaters running both upstairs and down. We are not about to turn on the furnace after yesterday's oil prices hitting a record high of $139. a barrel. Seattlites have always said that summer begins on the 5th of July. That certainly seems to be the case this year!

I should be working on report cards so I really have to wrap this post up. I just have to say that if my garden wasn't my blog focus I would be talking plenty about Obama winning the Democratic nomination. I'm delighted to be taking part in this historic election. one Bush I've been eager to 'pull out' for nearly 8 years.

Rain Falls Down...

...and down and down. This was no warm spring rain either. These are photos are taken from two doorways of the school where I teach. The kids (mercifully) had left by time this downpour began. It was pretty much incessant for two hours. Everywhere else in the country people are having early heat waves. Here in Seattle, as we zip our fleece vests up to our chins we have decided to call this month Junuary.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

June First

Another of my dogwoods: Cornus kousa Satomi; A lovely little tree in my woodland garden.

So this is June 1st. You wouldn't know it from the temperature. I don't think it even hit 60 today. The 'resident elder', that's the husband, says when he was growing up in WI he always thought that his birthday heralded the start to summer. Well that certainly isn't going to be the case today in Seattle. We had intended on roller blading on Alki today but it was just too gusty. So fussing about on the computer for more hours than I care to mention, reading the newspaper together, and fixing him a birthday dinner have eaten up the bulk of this chilly day. The birthday dinner hasn't changed much since he was eight, or so my MIL tells me: popcorn shrimp. I am not one to buy shrimp in a box any other time of the year. Lemon Pepper pasta and a warm Rhubarb Betty with vanilla ice cream rounded out a very easy and tasty dinner. It may be cool but colorful blooms are popping up in the garden. Now I am headed upstairs for another cuppa licorice spice tea and a couple hours of collating kindergarten 'Weekend Writing' journals and deciphering the incredible phonetic writing that they have produced over the past two months. What amazing growth they have made from September to May!

Ahoy Mateys!

Since Edublogs is not being cooperative with posting my photos, I've posted a few here . These are from 102A's field trip to the Center For Wooden Boats. A great time was had by all, just in case you can't tell!