Monday, September 05, 2011
Our sweet chickens had stopped laying their eggs in their nest boxes... I think in this heat, their coop was just too hot for spending any time in. We just couldn't find where they were thinking the appropriate nest was.
Yesterday, I heard some gentle clucking behind an overgrown area of the yard,
so I walked back there to peek. Mike had left the garden cart with weeds for composting back there. The girls thought it was the perfect place to cozy up and lay their eggs in peace.
It is a spot I would pick if I were a chicken. I am betting that it was Eleanor who chose the spot; she definitely makes good choices and is the Leader of the Pack.
Too bad for us though. With the temperatures in the high 90's for the past few days, I am thinking that they are most likely not edible, and sadly since we no longer have a rooster, they will not hatch into little fluffball chickies.
What have I been doing in addition to being Sleuth Extraordinaire?
This is my weekend to get back on track with my physical exercise. On Saturday, I went to Body Pump class, and added on more weight to a few of the routines. It is a very intense routine and I love it!
Yesterday, I washed and waxed my car by hand. Since I have to protect my hips and back, it involved a lot of squats (great for my aching muscles from Body Pump) and since I am short, it also involved some chair climbing. Then wax on, wax off. There is no car wash category in the fitness tracker, but I unrepentantly added it in as heavy housework. I don't THINK I was cheating......
I also did some power yoga. With the weight lifting, I know muscles can tighten up and I want to preserve my flexibility as I regain my strength. Since I have been practicing yoga for many years, I am still very flexible for my age, and want to keep it that way.
Over the last two days I have also FINALLY had time to spend concentrated time with my music. Back to tremolo practice for my flamenco guitar... I have some very difficult passages to work on. They will take months - who knows maybe years, to master. Part of the challenge is getting my hands around some of the stretches needed for the some of the difficult chords.
I started learning to play "Rainbow Connection" on my little ukulele. I have been listening to Willie Nelson's version of it (with guitar - not uke ) which is wonderful. I love the way he sings it. Of course, my version will be in my own voice and style.
Today I need to clean the inside of my car, finish doing the laundry and ironing, make up lunches for the rest of the week, and vacuum. This afternoon I will get together with my buddies for singing. They are also teachers, and we have all been too busy to see each other for the last couple of weeks. It will be great to catch up with each other.
Stella knows how to spend her Labor Day weekend!
Have a wonderful Labor Day, and stay safe!
Sunday, September 04, 2011
I am amazed!
Wednesday was the first day of school; one of the lessons was the children's first music lesson. I introduced the ukulele to them, taught them about the parts of the ukulele, how to tune them (G-good C-cats E-eat A-ants) and their first chord, the C chord.
On Thursday's music class, we reviewed Wednesday's lesson, practiced a strumming technique, and added the G7 chord. I told them that once they learned how to move smoothly between the C and G7 chords, I had a few songs they could learn. Once they learned a third chord, F, there were many songs that they could play.
We did not have music class on Friday because Friday afternoons are project time. The children have some open time to work on projects of their choice ~ science, art, construction, etc. I told them that I would have time during project time to help them with guitar or ukulele. Two boys and one girl wanted to work on their guitar skills and all of the rest of the girls wanted to work on their ukulele skills. I told the uke players to practice moving from C to G7 while I helped the guitar players.
When I got back to the uke players they said, "Teach us that other chord!"
I said first they needed to be able to go from C to G7 as they strummed.
"We already can!"
And they could. So I taught them F and sent them back to practice moving from one chord to the next, while I worked with the guitar players.
The girls returned saying, "Teach us a song!"
"Can you move from C to G7 to F?"
And they could. So I taught them the chord progression to the Crawdad Song, a song they already know how to sing.
Off they went to practice it.
By the end of project time, they were singing and playing the Crawdad Song, glowing with accomplishment. And I was amazed. Really, I had anticipated that children would be learning a 2 chord song by sometime next week, and here these children were already playing and singing a three chord song.
"Can we take a ukulele home to practice with?"
"Hmmmm, I don't think so; I'm worried about keeping them in good shape if they start going home."
"But it's a L-O-N-G weekend! We want to practice. We were planning a play date to practice. Pleeeeease?"
They were committed. They were joyful and enthusiastic. They are responsible children. So I made copies of the song and chord changes, they selected which ukuleles to take home, tucked their music into the gig bags and headed home for the long weekend. I think I'll have the start of a girl band when they return.
These are the experiences that make teaching so gratifying. I love it!
Thursday, September 01, 2011
Well, we are off to a great start! My class is small, but darling, and the parent community really feels like a community this year. It is fun to start the year feeling healthy and energized, which after landing on my head, getting a concussion and stitches before the start of school was an experience I didn't get.last summer
We started our ukulele lessons yesterday on the first day of school. The ukes were a huge hit, although some children want to always get the same color uke for practice sessions. I did not promise that would happen, but I understand their attachments. Those ukes are pretty darn cute!
Today we went on a two hour nature hike, something that I hope to do once a week throughout the school year. In the dead of winter, our hikes may be considerably shorter out of necessity.
It was VERY hot and muggy today. We had a thunderstorm in the morning and the humidity was almost unbearable for the rest of the day.
Fortunately, it was quite a few degrees cooler in the woods, and the water coming from the spring was cold and refreshing. There was also an opportunity to splash around in the cold spring water.
We were all tired by the time we returned to school for the end of the school day, hot and sweaty, and ready to flop down on the couches. It was a good hot and sweaty though - we had a great nature walk. We saw deer, spiders, caterpillars, jewel weed (which was a big hit making their seed pods pop), fossils, fish, and many different plants. We hugged some trees - yes, we ARE tree huggers!
A reporter for the local newspaper came by after school to interview the teachers about our school and program. We had a good interview session with her, but it was 4:30 before I could head home. I had to be back at school for the Welcome Back picnic at six, so I had a quick nap, a shower, and a change of clothes since I was covered with sweat and mud, By the time I got back to school, I wondered why I bothered. My dress was already clinging to me and I was dripping sweat again by the time I got there. We were all in the same condition though. When I hugged people, we stuck together because of the humidity. It is supposed to be in the mid 90s again tomorrow, but at least it is supposed to cool down a bit tonight.
The scale has not been good to me this week. I had been consistently maintaining my weight all summer, but since the school work bee on Saturday, and spending almost every waking minute since then getting my classroom ready, then starting the school year, I gained 4 pounds. I know it is because a) I have been so busy I have eaten out more than usual. and b) I simply have not had time to exercise. This is one of the things I have worried about all summer and am determined not to let become a pattern in my busy life. I know I am extremely busy at the beginning of the school year, and adjusting to waking earlier. Things will settle down some in the next few weeks. I have to find a way to keep up many or most of the exercise routines I established over the summer. I do have my Saturday morning Body Pump class to look forward to this week, and I did get in a 2 hour hike up and down hills today.
Tuesday, August 30, 2011
I spent from 8:00 am until 9:00 pm (with time out for lunch and dinner) in my classroom yesterday preparing for the children's return on Wednesday. I will spend the bulk of the day there today as well.
I love my summer, and need it. Some people believe that teachers have too much time off, but I'm here to say that teaching is a very demanding job, teachers need a stretch of time to regenerate and be fresh and energized for the new school year. A school day is not from 8:30 - 3:00; it is from 7:00 am - 4:30/5:00 and then time at home assessing their work. Then there are the weekend days of extracurricular activities and special events, evening meetings, parent conferences, etc. I'm not saying other jobs aren't demanding, not at all, but I am grateful for the summer to get in shape, plan for the next school year and get much needed R&R.
That said, I love the beginning of the new school year and have so much fun bringing the classroom back to life after its summer dormancy. Open windows and a summer breeze literally blow fresh air into a closed up room; putting up bulletin boards, adding finishing touches to decorations, and putting fresh and colorful supplies in each of their study carrels brightens the room and makes it so cheerful. I love planning where to seat children so they are with people they enjoy, people they can help, and people they can work well with. It can be a challenge to get in all of those elements, but when it works the class dynamics work so well!
So the classroom is now decorated and organized, 10 guitars are restrung and tuned, 10 ukes are tuned and ready, school supplies are personalized and in each child's carrel, and the room looks great! Today I have to tune the harps, and get all of the materials for this week's lessons ready.
Tomorrow the children come in and breathe the real life into the classroom. I look forward to how their personalities, the way they decorate their personal spaces, and the way they interact, make the room unique to this group.
By the way, for those of you who don't know me yet, I teach a mixed grade class of 9 - 11 year old children. I am their classroom teacher and teach everything from Arithmetic to Zucchini cooking. Seriously, I do teach cooking. They go to another teacher for art and science classes. Too bad in a way because I love teaching art and science, but it does give me an opportunity to have smaller groups while some of the children are with the art/science teacher. I'll be teaching music while the other part of the group is with the art teacher.
I ran into two of my grads at the Blues Festival this past weekend. I love to see my grads grow up! These two delightful high school students take on community leadership actions and responsibilities, are active in their school community, and are just plain dynamic. The girl is a fabulous cello player and went to a music camp at Barnard College this summer. She got to spend time with YoYo Ma! I am so happy for her.... and a tiny bit jealous. Okay, I'll fess up - WAY jealous!
Aren't they darling?!
Sunday, August 28, 2011
Well, not exactly SpiderMum. I fall just short of being an arachnophobe. But when my son and I were walking Stella in the meadow this afternoon, we came upon this gorgeous garden spider, sitting majestically in her web. And me without my camera.
We hiked back home, then back to the meadow again so I could get my photo. Quite a specimen!
For more information about the garden spider, or Argiope aurantia:
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