Saturday, September 27, 2014

project 52: week 3

What is Project 52? It's a little like Project 365, but instead of the goal of posting a photo each day, I'll post a photo or two each week along with a short update. Really I just need a little push to post something every week. Since I like to keep this space positive, posting every week forces me to look back and find something shiny to talk about (ten points if you get that reference). Some weeks that's a piece of cake. Other weeks it's more of a challenge, and those weeks give this task true meaning.

Looking through my classroom window at the signs of autumn.
The final harvest of tomatoes from my garden.
 What's New?
This past weekend I was super productive at home, mainly in the kitchen. I picked all the remaining tomatoes off of my plants, roasted them, and then made tomato sauce. I ended up with two 16 oz freezer containers full. I cut back and composted my tomato plants, as well as much of the rest of my garden, because it has suffered from a white fly invasion this summer. I made boozy applesauce cake, breakfast muffins, chicken stock, butternut squash soup, washed all the dishes, then washed all the dishes again (funny how that works). I also put my clean clothes away (what!?!). Shocking, I know.

I try to do so much on the weekends because I'm basically useless during the week. I come home from teaching, eat dinner, take a shower, and then relax in my pjs in front of the TV with my knitting. Sometimes I cook dinner, but if I can get away with it I just eat leftovers. That's one of the beautiful things about cooking a recipe meant for 4-6 people when there are only 2 people living in your house.

Currently Reading
Yes, I am reading 4 books at once. What that really means is that I've started all four books, and I trade off which one I'm reading. Sometimes I read one consistently for many days in a row, and sometimes I read a different book each day. My mother (and many others) often seem confused by this approach, but I find it fulfilling. Think of it like watching a different show each night. You are still "caught up" on the story from each show. You never confuse Walking Dead with Orphan Black (those are completely different stories, of course). Likewise, I don't confuse the different books I'm reading.
  • The Fifth Sacred Thing by Starhawk
  • The Midwife's Tale by Sam Thomas
  • Rare Encounters with Ordinary Birds by Lyanda Lynn Haupt
  • The Origin of Satan: How Christians Demonized Jews, Pagans and Heretics by Elaine Pagels

On the Needles
Progress on the Wood Hollow Vest is slow, for sure. I haven't knit very much since my last post (thanks to a sharp kitchen knife, a stubborn package of sausage, and my fingertip). But I have been making progress - one stitch, one row, at a time. Slowly, very slowly, I am turning yarn into a vest.

Looking Forward To
  1. attending a Town Hall Event about climate change
  2. picking up eleventy-billion pounds of apples for sauce and pie

Saturday, September 20, 2014

project 52: week 2

What is Project 52? It's a little like Project 365, but instead of the goal of posting a photo each day, I'll post a photo or two each week along with a short update. Really I just need a little push to post something every week. Since I like to keep this space positive, posting every week forces me to look back and find something shiny to talk about (ten points if you get that reference). Some weeks that's a piece of cake. Other weeks it's more of a challenge, and those weeks give this task true meaning.

My small haul two weeks ago. This weekend I'll have three times as many, or more!
What's New?
I just got back from a whirlwind trip down to sunny California for my uncle's funeral. While the occasion wasn't very happy, it was immensely wonderful seeing family again. I got to meet some new people and see some faces I haven't seen in far too long. There were many hugs, laughs, and tears. There were children playing, asking questions, and telling strange stories as children do.

Currently Reading
I'm slowly working my way through these three books. It's slow-going not because I don't like them, but because I haven't had much time since school just started up.


  • The Secret Life of Trees by Colin Tudge
  • Adulting: How to Become a Grown-up in 468 Easy(ish) Steps by Kelly Williams Brown
  • The Origin of Satan: How Christians Demonized Jews, Pagans and Heretics by Elaine Pagels

  • On the Needles
    Still working on my Wood Hollow Vest in the round. Lots of cables, and lots to remember, but going well so far.

    Looking Forward To
    1. roasting tomatoes from my garden
    2. this autumn's first batch of butternut soup

    Saturday, September 13, 2014

    project 52: week 1

    What is Project 52? It's a little like Project 365, but instead of the goal of posting a photo each day, I'll post a photo or two each week along with a short update. Really I just need a little push to post something every week. Since I like to keep this space positive, posting every week forces me to look back and find something shiny to talk about (ten points if you get that reference). Some weeks that's a piece of cake. Other weeks it's more of a challenge, and those weeks give this task true meaning.

    This crate has helped me stay organized so far. Each class has its own clipboard for seating charts, its own notebook, and a place for collected papers. I think this system is going to be one that I'll repeat every year.
     
    While waiting for my second bus in the downtown tunnel, I spied this Link light rail train sporting an add for my college!
    What's New?
    I've just completed my first full week of the school year. So far I've ridden the bus 6 out of 8 days. My goal is to ride the bus as many days as possible. Partly for the environment, and partly for my afternoon sanity. While the morning commute is much faster by car, the evening commute is slow and aggravating. I've been able to listen to music, knit, and read blog posts on my phone. Next week I'll remember to bring my e-reader so I can finish a book. Last fall I read so many books thanks to the bus.

    Currently Reading
    • The Secret Life of Trees by Colin Tudge
    • Adulting: How to Become a Grown-up in 468 Easy(ish) Steps by Kelly Williams Brown
    • The Origin of Satan: How Christians Demonized Jews, Pagans and Heretics by Elaine Pagels

    On the Needles
    I've restarted my Wood Hollow Vest so that I could knit it in the round. I also wanted to fix the honeycomb cable part (I was using a short-cut to avoid the cable needle, but it didn't look great). It's always sad to rip out a project (I was 6" into the front piece when I decided to start over), but fixing mistakes and starting fresh is always worth it in my opinion.

    Looking Forward To
    1. going to the fair
    2. celebrating Kristi's birthday
    3. hugging Valerie

    ready for autumn

    The tree outside my classroom window is also ready for autumn.
    I'm ready for autumn.

    Summer is great. It really is. I'm a teacher and that means that summer is my time to garden, explore, and most importantly - to breathe.

    But I'm not a summer person. I don't enjoy heat - I like rain and cool air. I don't know how to cook summer food - I'm a pro at soup and comfort food. And I don't know what to do with myself when I have no schedule. I know, cry me a river. There are worse problems to have. All I'm saying is that I eagerly welcome crisp air, rain, sweaters, hot soup, candles, watching the leaves turn, and everything else that speaks of autumn.

    Of course, being a teacher, autumn also means the beginning of school. And while much of that is awesome (new beginnings, eager faces), I also struggle sometimes with the amount of stress that comes along with it.

    So I'm going to take a page from my summer book and breathe. Just breathe.

    Sunday, September 7, 2014

    so long summer


    This summer I...

    :: walked 30 miles with my friend Kristi

    :: knit two shawls

    :: went kayaking with Joe

    :: made a ton of jam and a few shrubs (the drink, not the plant)

    :: discovered a new farmer

    :: drove myself to Eastern Montana and back again

    :: learned how to be a paleontologist

    :: unpacked my classroom

    :: fought white flies in my garden

    :: rented a carpet cleaner and cleaned all the carpet



    Saturday, August 9, 2014

    setting up my new classroom (again)

    At my first school I was in the same room for 6 years. When I moved in it wasn't my room - I shared it with another teacher (I also shared another room with two different teachers) since I was split between science and math. So I didn't get to start from scratch. The second year it really was my room, but I was too busy to do much in the way of purging and organizing. After 6 years in that room, circumstances dictated that I move into another room in the building. I LOVED my new room, and I relished the opportunity to start fresh. I spent much time that summer organizing my new classroom. It was perfect. By the end of the year, though, I found myself applying for a job at school #2. During the summer I went back to school, packed up all my things and drove them up to my new school with the help of three amazing friends.

    So, you can imagine my dismay when I learned that school #2 would be relocating at the end of the year to a temporary building, and then relocating permanently two years later. This means that I will have moved my classroom three years in a row!

    I started packing up my room in March. It was hard to find things that I new for sure that I wouldn't need until next autumn. Luckily the district provided boxes, packing tape, box labels, and a wonderful moving coordinator. She suggested that we make an Excel spreadsheet to keep track of what is in each box (as well as labeling the boxes with numbers), and I am so glad that I took her advice. My TA's helped me pack and offered suggestions - I am always learning from my students!

    This time I get to truly start from a blank slate. Our temporary building has been empty for some time, and was remodeled in order to be up to code for our two-year stay. I'm planning on taking advantage of this opportunity to start fresh with more intentional use of my new space.

    Unpacking is challenging, to say the least. I arrived in my new room to find my boxes piled willy-nilly in the center of the room. Tables I requested from the old building were propped up on their ends. Boxes appeared to be missing. It was overwhelming.

    After staring hopelessly at my things I finally convinced myself to start. But where to start? I decided to put my easel back together. It's the least important thing to do, but also the most obvious place to start since I knew where all of the pieces were and putting it together would allow me to move it out of the way more easily thanks to its wheels.


    Student chairs were delivered while I was there, but so far no student desks yet. It makes my room look HUGE, but I know that as soon as those desks arrive it'll be a tight squeeze. My new room is long and narrow (like my old room was) but it's narrower by 2-3 feet.


    I expect it'll take quite a bit more work to get my room student-ready. I'm planning on tackling it in small chunks so I don't get overwhelmed. Yesterday, my first unpacking day, I only spent three hours before going home. It wasn't very much time, but I feel pretty accomplished. Along with emptying 5 or 6 boxes, I moved furniture around and figured out how to open those huge, old windows.

    Thursday, August 7, 2014

    the DIG Field School

    I cross the Cascades and the Columbia.
    Made a stop at Dry Falls.
    And the Grand Coulee Dam.
    Eventually I entered Tatooine (or Eastern Montana, close enough).
    We camped next to Hell Creek and woke up before sunrise every day.
    By 7am we had eaten breakfast, packed our bags with tons of water, and headed out to the field in SUV caravans.
    Sometimes we couldn't get the SUVs very close to our site. This picture, and the following picture, are taking from roughly the same spot, just facing opposite directions, to show you how far we hiked from where the ferry SUVs were parked (many of the SUVs did not have enough clearance to go all the way out - the roads were very challenging).

    This is what the hadrosaur site looked like when we arrived. While we were there we helped jacket three large bones so that they could be removed from the site.
    A close-up of some of the hadrosaur bones.
    I touched dinosaur bones!
    This is what the site looked like after a few bones had been jacketed in plaster.
    We visited a site called Nirvana where we saw, and touched, the K-Pg boundary (that's the layer that documents the asteroid impact, and the extinction of the non-avian dinosaurs).


    I saw many interesting rock formations.
    I learned how to surface collect for micro fossils (croc scute, gar scales, bone fragments, turtle shells, etc) 
    Someone in my group found a rib bone, which was jacketed in plaster for removal.
    We brought back bags of in situ sediment, which were put into screen boxes and set up in the creek.

    After soaking all night the screen boxes were brought out to dry in the sun.
    And of course there were dino toys at dino camp.
    On the way home I saw the wildfires.
    All in all, I drove 941 miles each way. It was a long drive, but completely worth it.

    One of the coolest things for me about this trip is that every piece of data we collected (sketches of sites, micro fossils, in situ sediments, measurements to determine how far above or below the K-Pg boundary, etc), every piece of data was useful for the DIG team. I helped collect real data that will be used by Greg Wilson and his team back at the UW and the Burke Museum in their research. How cool is that? As a middle school science teacher I don't get that opportunity very often. Most summer teacher programs focus on content and lessons, which are extremely useful, but this program focused first on doing real field work and secondly on lessons. I found it exhilarating. 

    I also want to say that it was a pleasure to work with each and every one of the DIG team members. The team members ranged from PhDs, PhD candidates, graduate students, recent grads and undergrads. And everyone had something to bring to the table. And everyone was treated with respect and affection by Greg and co-director Lauren. That's the kind of team everyone strives to be a part of, and it was a treat to spend 4 days with them.