Saturday, January 31, 2009

Year of The Ox

Sometimes you happen on these surprising things and you happen to have your camera along and it is worth doing a U turn to go back and take a few shots. That is how it was for me this morning. I was on my way to Costco heading down 4th Ave. and I hear this drumming, I look to my left and see this 'laughing buddha' hopping up and down around TWO dancing lions! I got out of the car just as it was ending. They are quite splendid lions, much brighter than some of the older ones I have seen in previous years. My guess is that they were there at the request of the shop owner; it was either a florist or rug shop.

This was quite cute. The parents were taking their little children up close and encouraging them to pet the fuzzy pompoms on the lions' ears, hoping to calm the probable terror they felt when the lions were dancing.

Then at Costco I spent a whopping $160. and pretty much stuck to my list. I restrain myself from going there more than every 2 or 3 months. Actually, considering the immense quantities they package everything, two people do not need to go more than that.

I also ran 8 miles early this morning. I'm gaining stamina; a half marathon in June may be possible!


Hello and Gung Hay Fat Choy from my kindergarten students in 102A! Can you guess who is who? This week we read Ernie Wan's New Year and there was lively discussion about how some of the children celebrated with their family or in their temple and how many Li See envelopes they collected. We discovered that most of our class was born in the Year of the Ram or Monkey. Monkeys, oh yeah, that I can see! On Friday they made these lion puppets and they were SO thrilled! It isn't very often that we do craft projects anymore in Kindergarten and the masks were a BIG hit.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Oh, How I Love ...

my man in his uniform:

I had to coax the smile out of him, can you tell? Today is his first day going solo driving bus for Metro. The sun is shining, there is not a snowflake nor wisp of fog anywhere. So it should be a perfect drive for him. I'm eager to hear his 'first day' stories. Today I spent in my yard cutting down the last of the dozens of swordtail ferns. They are in our rockery and my back was to the south in the sun, the warm, glorious sun! I really should have been struggling through the FAFSA form for our daughter but I just couldn't say no to the sun.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

New Beginnings

for my newly wed friend Carolyn and Doug. She was so relaxed, so beautiful, and so happy; a perfect bride. Carolyn and Doug have 5 children between them; two of the boys are Michael, so one has opted to go by Felix (How cool is that?) All the kids walked their parents down the aisle to the altar, that was very touching. The music was provided by a Celtic quartet and Michael (who, 10 years ago, I taught in kindergarten), was one of the violinists.

The pastor quoted scripture but the words of his homily that stuck with me most were: "A good marriage is like sandpaper, it smooths the rough edges we encounter in life."

So this week Carolyn will take time off from being Art teacher extraordinaire. She and Doug will loll at a beach on the north shore of Oahu enjoying their new beginning as wife and husband. It was snowing here in Seattle as the ceremony began; that Hawaii sun will be much appreciated.

Yes, the cake was as scrumptious as it looked.

In the Oven...

I baked soil at 180 degrees for 40 minutes. That is how you sterilize soil for indoor potting purposes. I washed fifteen 4 inch pots and tomorrow I will begin planting the starts of geraniums and perhaps a few seeds for leafy greens. So maybe you think baking soil is absurd. What do you think of baking a cell phone? Well, that is just what the DH did. But first he washed it (the cell phone). The washing; it wasn't intentional. He was hand washing a backpack and the cell phone was tucked away in an inside pocket. What to do he thought. Then he went to 'Wiki How To' and discovered that sometimes cell phones that have been in water can be baked dry in a 150 degree oven for 40 minutes wrapped in foil. Trouble is, he doesn't navigate very well around the oven. He turned the wrong control knob and ended up baking it at 350 degrees for 40 minutes. Baked cell phone; it didn't work. Baked soil; no bugs there!

Book Challenge

Grab the nearest book.
* Open the book to page 56.
* Find the fifth sentence.
* Post the text of the next two to five sentences in your blog along with these instructions.
* Don't dig for your favorite book, the cool book, or the intellectual one: pick the CLOSEST.
Rosemary at Rosemary's Blog Spot is where I found this challenge. Remember now, I don't take part in many memes,contests, or challenges, but Rosemary is a faithful blog buddy and the Book Challenge piqued my interest.
This is an 'old favorite' that I plucked off the shelf closest to our computer:

The Great Railway Bazaar by Paul Theroux.

"Go," said the conductor.
But I didn't want to go, for besides the overcrowded compartments of Europeans and Americans there were the compartments of Kurds, Turks, Iranians, and Afghans who slept on top of each other and cooked stews between their berths over dangerously flaring kerosene stoves.

The ferry moved off, hooting into the black lake.

(I love the last sentence!)

Tuesday, January 20, 2009


Like the T-shirt? I do! The idea of taking my picture in front of the TV was to capture the inauguration and possibly Barack Obama but that was not to be; oh well at least his likeness is on my shirt, and there is no mistaking the date! The student body of our school watched the swearing in of Barack Obama as 44th President on the big screen in our performance center. We were a respectful crowd and everyone clapped heartily at all the right places. Teachers were given the option to stay and hear the new President's speech with their class but I could see 'ants in the pants' of more than one of my young students so we headed back to the classroom to read Time For Kids which was appropriate because it was all about the white house. I appreciated his speech much more when I could watch it in the peace and quiet of an empty classroom when the kids went out to lunch recess. There are many lines from his speech that will be quoted in the newspapers but this is one that reached out to me: "as the world grows smaller our common humanity shall reveal itself." As peace is sought in so many corners of our world, I do hope that is true.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Morning Fog ....

and then plenty of blue skies made for a perfect day three of this holiday weekend. This morning I went for a walk around Green Lake with my friend Christine and we talked teacher talk and gave family updates and commented on the many various dogs that were out walking with their people. The air quality may not be the best but everyone was taking time to go outside today and soak up the sun. We ate brunch at Julia's in Wallingford after our walk. This is a restaurant that has been a favorite of ours since the '80s. I had the Hobo Breakfast of scrambled eggs, potatoes, green peppers, crumbled bacon, and tomatoes and rye toast on the side. Christine had the vegetable scramble. It was a full meal deal for both of us.

On my way home I stopped at Mee Kwa Mooks and took this picture of a barge headed to the south Sound with the Olympics in the background.

Later in the afternoon the DH and I did a mock run of his bus route along Alki and the beach was busy with people lounging, walking, running and skating. We stopped, bought ourselves a Tullys and lolled about for a while appreciating the Seattle skyline with Mt. Baker and the Cascades on the horizon. No camera this time, but it was lovely.

NPR's This I Believe a very special one this week. It comes from a kindergartner and he compiled his list as part of his classroom homework for celebrating the 100th day of school. His name is Tarak McLain and he lives in Austin Texas. His list is pared down to 30 beliefs to fit into the 4 and a half minute radio slot. Go here to listen to pearls of wisdom from a six year old.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

The Sun...

broke through the clouds at about this afternoon. What a treat! It had been so very long since we had any appreciable blue sky around here. I really enjoyed the two hours of pruning and puttering in my gardens. The hellebore are raising their white and mauve buds up from the wet and humousy floor of my shade gardens, snowdrops are green shards poking up along the front walk, and the hazel nut tree is loaded with catkins that look like plump yellow caterpillars. Lots of growth all around but I do think the snow and cold weather killed the tall dracenas, those palm-like plants that are on either side of the stairs to the lower gardens.

In the classroom, the days just flew by. They are reading and writing so much more and they sang energetically and with big smiles for the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. assembly. The little boy I wrote about last week managed to stay in the room except for two incidents which is an improvement over last week. The Sp. Ed. supervisor came to observe him and next week we meet to discuss her observations and suggestions for a plan to get him closer to involvement in the learning that is going on in the classroom. He'll help count the lunch tickets or he likes to hold my pencil pointers and help me lead the class in reading the morning message, he colors if I color with him, he is able to write his name but for some reason he has refused to do so since the week after Thanksgiving, he wants to be my helper, he organized my pens at the document camera and on Friday he asked if he could
clean the sponges after lunch. He is sweet, so sweet; laying in the window corner on the pillows, feet in the air, saying "teacher, teacher, teacher!" but not really looking at me. I say "Yes?" He says, "I love you." and my heart jumps. This is the same boy that throws things, kicks tables, and wrecks havoc, all in the blink of an eye. He IS a challenge and a puzzle. I want so badly to make school more successful for him.

The DH is now a bona fide bus driver. He passed his CDL (Commercial Driver's License)on Wednesday. He drove his route alongside an experienced driver, picking up passengers for the first time today. He ran over a couple 'turtles'(traffic dots) and maybe one curb. He will be up at 4:30 in the morning to do the same thing tomorrow. He will be glad when he is on his assigned afternoon rush hour shift. I enjoy when he comes home; hearing about all he has learned, the people he has met. Just the confidence and enthusiasm he has for this new job is refreshing for both of us.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Nine Dollars...

in quarters later our Subaru is clean both inside and out. There's something very satisfying about washing a thoroughly grimy car. The past two days have been blessedly free of snow, wind, and rain. Seattle is fortunate to be in the rain shadow of the Olympics and missed the disastrous flooding that hit neighboring communities all the way up to Canada and south to Oregon. I think it was Wednesday morning that we woke up to 3 inches of rain in the 'new and improved'(easier to read) rain gauge that I gave DH for Christmas. Honestly, flying or taking a boat out of here were the only options for three days. I read today in the Seattle Times that I5 is now open in both directions and rail traffic is also in business but it is going to take years and a lot of money for the people along the rivers to get out from all the mud and destruction. Weather havoc and the increasing number of job losses with the Post Intelligencer, Microsoft, and Boeing most recently in the Seattle area, the war in Iraq and the horrors the Israelis are inflicting on the Palestinians (We CAN help!); this has to be the most depressing start of a new year in my lifetime. I feel so fortunate to be sitting in a dry, warm house with food in the refrigerator.

So how was the first week back in the classroom? I would like to say "Sublime" but it fell short of that superlative. Don't get me wrong, I am grateful for my job, I crave the structure and purposefulness that work gives to my life, I am a serious workoholic at times, I love teaching and I laugh, or at least grin ear to ear, at the things the younguns say everyday. This week's favorite quote: "Five year olds don't need to act their age." I was scratching my head at that one but 'J' explained, "My brother got this game for Christmas and I can play it too. Sometimes I win." Do you get it? It didn't take me long at all since I know the competitive nature of 'J' and his brother. The game's box stated "For ages 8+" and 'J' is only 5. Wednesday brought another gem. "Mrs. G, did you wear your skipping shoes?" On Wednesdays, after Art I lead my LONG line of kindergarteners along the paths outside our school skipping and playing Follow the Leader (middle aged ladies don't always act their age either). Sometimes I forget to wear the right shoes, last Wednesday was one of those days and since the wind was gusting up to 45 mph I was just as happy to forgo a 'skip'. If the week had stopped at Wednesday, the adjective 'sublime' might have fit. But then then my little guy with Sensory Integration Dysfunction came unglued from the first minute upon entering the classroom door and turned my teaching upside down, as well as his chair, and he totally destroyed everything he could on his desk.

Why? what starts it? I have no clear idea. It can be as simple as I asked him to sit down (YES, just to SIT) or to get a piece of paper and he didn't want to, or he gets frustrated with himself and flings his pencil, crumples his work, lays down and kicks the desk or overturns a chair. Before you get the wrong idea; he has a very sweet, loving side too and I think there is a smart boy inside of all this confusion. Sometimes he seems defiant or manipulative and it quickly escalates to beyond his control. I am lucky to have a supportive principal and special ed. teacher and his mother is openly communicates with us. Also, his problems were well documented in his preschool years. I feel sad for this little boy, he has so much anger and aggression and he is only five! I have never had anything quite like this in my 25+years of teaching. Now I am off to reading about FBA and FBPs, for that will be our next step. Wish us luck and more than a few prayers!

Sunday, January 04, 2009

What are the chances...

that we would be both starting and ending our Holiday Break with snow days. This is what our backyard looks like right now:

It is a wet and heavy snow. The DH and I took a short walk and then I hastily make this Snow Gal:

I say hastily because it was turning to rain as I slipped the mittens onto her stick hands. As I sit here keyboarding I can hear the plink, plink, plink of rain. Good thing my book bag is packed and the parent letter is written (I even posted it in a page on my 'other blog'.)

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Teresa's Trees

For some time now I have wanted to inventory the trees in our yard. So here goes! Those with an asterisk were here since we moved in which was 1989.


2 Pacific Fire (Acer Circinatum)
1 Cornus Venus (Kousa x Nuttalli x Kousa)
1 Vine Maple (Acer circinatum)
1 Cedrus deodara*
1 Japanese Maple*

More shrub-like:
1 Pheasant Berry Himalayan Honeysuckle
(Leycesteria formosa)'Golden Lanterns'
1 American Cranberry (Viburnum Trilobum)
1 Black Elderberry (Sambucus Nigra)


1 Blue Sequoia (Sequoia sempervirens 'Aptos Blue')
1 Golden Cedar (Thuja occidentalis “Fastigiata”) I have this as a container tree.
1 Stellar Pink Dogwood (Cornus 'Rutgan' STELLAR PINK)
1 Pacific Madrone (Arbutus menziesii)
1 Eucalyptus: Unknown variety, published at a farmers' market on Vashon Island in about 2002.
1 Sweet Gum (Liquidambar styraciflua)
1 Asian Pear with grafts of 3 types of pears
1 Japanese White Pine (Pinus parviflora 'Tempelhof')
1 Apple tree * (This is most likely the oldest tree in the yard as the area was many small orchards before the suburbs began in the 1950s.)
1 Coral Bark Maple (Acer palmatum’Sango Kaku’)
1 Autumn Moon Maple (Acer Shirasawnum) bought in 2003 from Heronswood Nursery
1 Japanese Cherry (Prunus Serrulata Shogetsu) bought in 2004 from Swanson's Nursery
1 Pin Oak (Quercus palustris)
7 Native Cherry Trees*, each with multiple trunks on our west fence line
Hazel Nut* intertwines in one Cherry tree, has multiple trunks and is quite shrubby but tall and makes a great middle canopy for my shade garden.
2 Variegated dogwoods, also shrubby but tall (12-15 ft.) and fast growing.
1 Cornus Satomi, a short beauty with pink blooms in late spring in the understory of my woodland garden.
1 Midwinter Fire Dogwood (Cornus sanguinea) This one wants to be a shrub but I am doing my darnedest to make it behave like a tree; it is about 8 feet tall. I bought it from a Northwest Perennial Association sale in about 1998.
1 California Palm* this is a 'sucker' off the original one which we cut down YEARS ago. I know this is not the right name of this tree. It has a thorny trunk and soft wood. It looks nothing like a palm to me but an elderly neighbor who has since deceased told me that is what the original house owners called this tree.
2 Sumac* Just about every other yard has sumac in our neighborhood. Ours are about 18 feet tall and they are 'suckers' from the original trees. In fact this is a sumac which we moved from the southeast corner of our fence to the berm in the middle of the back yard.
2 Draecena arborea ; Those 12 foot, palm like trees in the pots flanking our stairs to the backyard started out as little accents in pots along with geraniums and lobelia. What a surprise! Everyone refers to them as 'palms' but they aren't.

O.K. This is a start to the inventory. All the trees are listed. Next I would like to put approximate years I purchased them and in summer I would like to photograph each of them and put it into an album or slide show. I don't think I need to buy any more trees.

Lastly I want to say a big YAHOO to blue skies and sunshine. I have been feeling very vitamin D deprived! It was cold out, but at least for today the gray skies were gone.