Sunday, September 19, 2010

More Rain

Good thing I did my yard work yesterday. Today was a perfect day for baking in my new Frigidaire Gallery oven. I made Zucchini Banana Tea Bread. By time I got the batter put together it was time for me to dash off to church so I used the 'time bake' feature and it worked perfectly. It is so nice to walk into a kitchen on a rainy day and smell something sweet coming from the oven. This afternoon I think I will roast a chicken. I thought I would miss my vintage electric range but apparently not. I am having fun relearning about cooking with gas. There me be a few sun breaks today but even so I had better stick inside and get my class assessment data organized and there is laundry to fold and dusting which is endless. But maybe I will let the dust sit and read a 30 or 40 pages in Freedom.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Fall Rain

The fall rain is already here. It poured and poured all last night, at least a half inch worth. But this morning we awoke to sunny skies and raindrops sparkling on every leaf and flower and on the multitude of spider webs. The amount of spiders in Seattle is ridiculous. Every morning we are dodging new webs. The one in the photo is a Garden Spider. Yes, that is it's name. They eat lots and lots of insects but they do bite too and the hard red welt lasts longer than a mosquito bite. I pruned and trimmed all afternoon and I managed to avoid getting bit. Now the rain has begun again; good thing I got my yard work (and a very pleasant 4 mile run) done today.


One of Many Webs



Jewels of Rain


Fall Is...

Back to School Bouquet

Fall is back to school time. My 'back to school' bouquet is of zinnias and sunflowers and two delicate purple scabiosas. They were in my garden beds shouting "Pick me, pick me!" like the hands of so many new kindergartners waving in the air in my classroom. I am one short of being totally full in my classroom. (That is kind of like one short of a full deck.) 27 wiggly, sometimes teary, sometimes sleepy, kindergarten students are assigned to me. Every kindergarten class in Seattle is close to full or is overflowing this fall. Some schools have added an extra classroom of K students. My students are more diverse than ever. Nine receive ELL services: Oromo, Arabic, Spanish, Vietnamese, and Somali are the languages they speak at home. This does not include the Samoan, Cambodian, Filipino, and Japanese students who are at a reasonably proficient level of English but they use at least some of their mother tongue at home and most definitely their home culture is not like mine. There are 15 boys and 12 girls. Three of them heed directions given once, fifteen of them heed directions given twice, the nine remaining need a heap of practice. Eight school days are now tucked under our belts and I can say two things: They are working as a team more than on 'day one' and I have pinpointed exactly who is going to do their darnedest to drain me of every last bit of my time and energy. I won't be as stretched and stressed as last year but it won't be any 'walk in the park' either. My best back to school story: In the kindergarten assessment two items are: asking if the child knows his address and phone number. One little guy shook his head when asked if he knew his address, and once again, more disconsolately he said "no" to the query about his phone number. Then he perked up and exclaimed, "But I know my Facebook number!"

Monday, September 06, 2010

I Have Not...

done everything on my summer list. The garage could still use a good cleaning, I did not do all the professional reading I intended, the hedge between us and our neighbors to the east is still untrimmed, and I just may not get to hemming the western shirt that Chris recently bought.
But I did tidy the garden shed, I have been using the clothes line instead of the dryer, we picked oodles of blueberries and strawberries, our goal of converting to gas is halfway accomplished; in fact the range was ordered today, I went on nine home visits to incoming students, my classroom is set to go, plans are in place for days 1,2 and 3. On the personal improvement side I improved my Yoga practice; attending at least a dozen classes over the summer, I ran consistently (never a problem for me), I read books for pleasure; The Help, The Street, and The Hotel at the Corner of Bitter and Sweet, I gardened for many hours and had lovely results in terms of flowers, not so much so with the vegetables; it was just too cool of a summer. Most importantly of all, I had time to visit family in Wisconsin and had friends visit me here.

People often tell me the old saw: " I know why you teach." then follow with the punch line "June, July and August." There is some truth to that but only some. The nine months in the classroom are very fulfilling to me too. I work hard, the kids do too and it is truly amazing all that they learn in the school year.

I have been intrigued by reviews of Jonathan Franzen's new novel, Freedom. Lev Grossman's Time magazine review of the novel says:
"There is something beyond freedom that people need: work, love, belief in something, commitment to something. Freedom is not enough. It's necessary but not sufficient. It's what you do with freedom — what you give it up for — that matters." Teaching is that thing beyond freedom that I need. That is why I will be less free, and quite frankly less motivated, to be writing posts. The challenges of the classroom are more consuming than ever (and I am more determined) so that is where I will put my energy and where I will sacrifice my freedom.