Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Photo #181: Thyme Basket

The dailyshoot for today: Make a photograph of something circular and crop it within a square frame.

This is one of my Longaberger Baskets. I love the leather loop handles. It is called a Thyme Basket.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Photo #180: My Acer Netbook vs. the IPad

The dailyshoot for today: What's your favorite device to access the Internet? Make a photograph of it today.

My school purchased a ten pack of IPads to be used in the classroom. I checked one out for the summer, and I have been trying to work with it as much as possible. A friend told me that I would fall in love with it the moment I touched it, and I want to love it, but I just don't yet.

I love the ease of carrying it with me. It is thinner and even more lightweight than my little Acer netbooks, so it can easily slip into my bag. At this point in time, I still find my netbooks easier to negotiate. But the familiar is always easier, so I have forced myself to use the ipad, and through use, things are definitely getting easier.

I do enjoy reading my Google Reader on it, and if I had any good books downloaded to it, I’m sure I would enjoy that. One thing I can tell you, even though I may have mixed feelings about the Ipad, the kids will love it. Twice now I have had people approach me at Caribou Coffee, my favorite hangout, and ask about the Ipad. I put it in the hands of a fifth grade girl who came over with her mom, and she absolutely lit up.

The design you see on the IPad is the Glow Doodle app, which is kind of fun. I'm getting to like the IPad better, but the little Acer is still #1!

Monday, June 28, 2010

Photo #179: Hostas

I spent the day in a district professional development, which left me in shock about the next direction that my school district may be heading. Then I went over to my mom's house where my sister was planting hostas. My sister, brother-in-law, and nephew have been working on my mom's yard all summer and it looks fabulous. Jacci was working on the flower bed across the back of the yard. They planted these hostas in the front a week ago. All the rain we have had has been great for the plants.

I took my hedge trimmer over and worked on trimming the hedge in the front. This is my small contribution. I have been promising to do that for a few weeks, but unlike my sister and her family, all the rain we have had is usually my excuse not to work in the yard. This would explain the difference between my overgrown flower beds, and their beautiful lush ones. Afterwards I was glad I had gone, because the physical labor relieved much of the stress of the day.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Photo #178: Art Fest Midwest, "The Other Art Show"

There is a lot going on in Des Moines this weekend. The USA Outdoor Track and Field Championships are being held at Drake University, and our hometown girl, Lolo Jones, won the 100 meter hurdles.

While the Des Moines Arts Festival, which is held downtown, has artists from across the country, there is also another art show going on this weekend. Art Fest Midwest is primarily made up of artists from the Midwest. This art show bills itself as "The Other Art Show" and it is held at the Varied Industries Building at the State Fair Grounds. I always go to this art show, because I want to support Iowa and other Midwest artists, who I felt were pushed out of the Des Moines Arts Festival, in order to transform it into a nationally acclaimed art show. I like to see what local people are doing. Other drawing points for me are that there are works at this art show that are actually within my price range. I like to buy small pieces of garden art. Best of all, this art show is held in the Varied Industries Building, which is air conditioned.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Photo #177: The Des Moines Arts Festival

This is the weekend of the Des Moines Arts Festival, which has a reputation for being one of the biggest and best art festivals in the country. Years ago, the Des Moines Arts Festival started out in Greenwood Park, near the Des Moines Art Center. Back then it was mostly Iowa Artists, and it was on a much smaller scale. For several years it was held on the bridges, and it was during this time that it shifted from Iowa artists to national artists. During the past few years it has been held just to the west of downtown in the Western Gateway Park. And this year the art is displayed in tents surrounding the new Pappajohn Sculpture Garden, which made the entire event all the more attractive.

As is often true, we had violent thunderstorms and strong winds during the night followed by temperatures in the nineties with a heat index of 105 today. With that forecast in mind, my sister and I got out there early. We had our sunscreen and water bottles filled with iced tea, with a stop for refills at Starbucks. It was a great day, despite the heat, and it makes me so happy that we have these kinds of events in a city the size of Des Moines.

Artists are here from all over the country, with one street of tents devoted to the art of art students from local colleges. I really enjoyed seeing their work. Some if it is also within reach of my meager budget.

The Art Festival is a family affair with tents for kids to create their own masterpieces. The festival is a place where face painting is taken to a whole new level. The two kids above, and their mom, were kind enough to let me photograph them. To deal with the heat, people found shade where ever they could, and others cooled off by taking a dip in the fountains.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Photo #176: Hollyhock

I was already laying in bed when I realized that I had not done my photo for today, so I am using this photo that I took earlier this week. The Hollyhocks are blooming like crazy. If you ever decide to plant hollyhocks, be prepared for them to come up all over the place.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Photo #175: It's Blood Donor Day!

Today was KCCI's annual Blood Donor Day, so I went out to Valley West Mall to give blood. This is just the third year that I have done this. I sometimes go to the blood bank to donate as well, but there is something fun about going to a blood drive that attracks so many people. Not only that, but you also get a free t-shirt, not to mention the fact that you are helping people. If you have never donated blood, why don't you give it a try?

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Photo #174: A Rose

Once again, I was awaken by a thunderstorm this morning, but after a rainy morning the day has become beautiful. While I broke down yesterday and turned on the air conditioner, I was able to switch it off again this evening. I just returned from a very pleasant walk around the neighborhood. Beauty is almost everywhere you look. Because of all the rain, plants are lush and green. This beautiful rose is not in my neighborhood. It is one of the many gorgeous roses I saw when I was in the Lowe's Garden center. It will make a great addition to someone's flower garden.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Photo #173: Sunset

I saw this beautiful sunset when I came out of a meeting tonight around 9:00. The clouds were outlined by the sunlight shining behind them, with shafts of light cutting across the sky. It was gorgeous!

Monday, June 21, 2010

Photo #172: The View

I moved into this house nine years ago, this week. During that whole time I have struggled with the flower bed that runs across the back of the lot. The first two years I worked hard to get the grass out and to plant perennials, many of which I started from seed. There are remnants of some of these plants, but the flower bed is once again overgrown with grass, brush, and weeds. I like my house and the idea of moving into a townhouse doesn't really appeal to me, so I am trying to figure out some ways to make the yard work low maintenance. My sister told me about these rubber mulch mats. Short of installing astro-turf for the whole yard, I think these mats could be a good thing. I don't see how grass could grow up through these. What do you think? Do you think it would work?

The house behind mine is a rental property and the only positive thing about the grass and brush that grow back there, is that they help to cover up the cars and junk that the neighbor behind has parked next to my fence. This photo is the view from my backyard. I've been thinking about putting some evergreens back there, and then my sister suggested that I consider putting in some ornamental grass. Some of that gets very tall, and would hopefully block this view. I went to Lowe's to check it out, and there are some very interesting varieties. I just might give it a try.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Photo #171: A Blizzard in June?

I enjoyed a leisurely Sunday morning, just hanging out in my PJs. Around 1 o'clock, I finally managed to pry myself off the couch and mow the back yard. We have had so much rain this summer that everything feels damp and moldy. The grass keeps growing, but I never seem to have the time to weed and trim before it's raining again. More rain is predicted for almost every day of this week.

Once I finally got the back mowed, I felt that I deserved ice cream, so I decided to pay my first visit of the season to Dairy Queen. Apparently a lot of other people had the same idea, because the place was packed, but I finally got my chance to order A French Silk Pie Blizzard! Delicious! And that's what's for dinner!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Photo #170: The Newest Sculpture

I dropped by the Pappajohn Sculpture Garden today to check out the newest sculpture. It is still in the process of being installed and is currently surrounded by a chain link fence. A few weeks ago, I saw a brief news report about the sculpture, but I haven't read anything about the title or artist. I can't quite figure out if these figures are dancing or fighting. You see something different from every point of view.

My stop at the sculpture garden was one of several today. After spending the morning at work, I met Jacci at my favorite Caribou Coffee, which is always one of my favorite ways to spend an afternoon. I left there perfumed by the delicious fragrance of coffee.

While I woke up to a foggy morning, it has turned into a beautiful day, and I just returned from a walk. Now I am sitting on the deck with my dogs, writing this blog, and listening to The Cat Who Wasn't There by Lillian Jackson Braun on my IPod. Having the time to savor these experiences is one of the greatest things about summer.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Photo #169: The Woodchip Shop

I visited Chris and her friend, P.J. at her home at the Woodchip Shop. This carved bear is out in front of the shop. Not only do they have this woodcarving business, but P.J. and her husband also do Sheltie rescue. Their house is filled with the most delightful array of dogs, mostly Shelties. These dogs are all very happy now, but most have had very difficult lives. Some are on their way to new homes in other states. It is a great thing that they are doing.

We had a great dinner at the Chicago Speakeasy. I hadn't been there in a long time, but they still have a great salad bar.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Photo #168: Park and Get a Car Wash, Too

We have been without power for the past eight hours, and the lights just came on. The entire neighborhood has been dark, except the house across the street. They have a generator. They're nice people, but it's really annoying to be sitting in the dark, while their lights are blazing, and you can see the TV going. This happened last summer, too.

I have been concerned that I was not going to be able to post my photo today, but it looks like I'm coming in under the wire. I spent some time out at Gray's Lake this afternoon. After all the rain we have had, part of the parking lot is under water. I parked as far from the water as I could, but other's were less cautious. I have had nightmares that involve cars and rising water, so I am not that bold. It was hot and breezy, but even with the high water, it was still really nice to be there.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Photo #167: Purple Coneflower

I went out to Valley West Mall for a while, and kept looking around for something interesting to photograph, but I keep coming back to the flowers. These are the first of my Purple Coneflower to bloom this year.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Photo #166: African Violets

One of my students gave these African Violets to me as an end of year gift. African Violets remind me of my grandma, who always had them growing in her breakfast room window. I tend to not be too good with flowering plants of this sort, so I'm hoping I can keep them alive.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Photo #165: A Dog's Life

It's nap time! Well, the truth of the matter is that most of the day is nap time for these two. I am amazed at how much of the time my dogs spend sleeping, and the rest of their day is spent barking and eating. One of the luxuries of summer is that I get to live a bit of a dog's life, too. As you can see from the pillows and blanket, I was planning to join them, but Zoe is hogging up the couch.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Photo #164: Four Mile Creek

I have been awaken by thunder storms for the past four mornings in a row. While it makes for great sleeping weather, we are now at around 8 inches of rain. Once again some flood prone streets are closed and tension is rising in the threatened areas of town. I stopped along Four Mile Creek and took these pictures. More rain is predicted.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Photo #163: Summer Flowers

I woke to another thunder storm today. Jacci and I had planned to go to the Downtown Farmer's Market, but it rained so hard that the farmer's market was cancelled. I almost forgot to take my photo today. I've been noticing these flowers in a neighbors yard for several days. I should have stopped a few days ago, because they are starting to look a little ragged now.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Photo #162: Hanging Out At Caribou

Today was the first official day of summer vacation. I woke up to a thunderstorm, and it was so nice to be able to just stay in bed. After a leisurely morning at home, I went out to run some errands in the afternoon. Later I met my sister at my favorite Caribou Coffee on Ingersol. I spent a lot of time in this coffee shop last summer, when I was working on my technology class. This time when I went, I took the IPad that I had checked out from school. I am just trying to figure out how to use this. It's cool, but frustrating, since I don't really understand how it works.

Jacci and I had been visiting for awhile, when she said, "Is that the Governor?" I turned to see a tall gentleman buying coffee. I said, "Yeah, I think it is. He does just live down the street." Caribou is located just a few blocks down the street from Terrace Hill, the governor's mansion. Governor Culver spoke with a couple other customers and introduced himself as he walked over to a corner table. Here he settled down to work and drink his coffee. There was no entourage, and no one bothered him while he was there. I did not take his photo, because I did not want to intrude on his privacy, if the governor of the state gets any privacy. All I can say is, where but Iowa would you see this happening? I love Iowa!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Photo #161: Closed for the Season

Today was the last day of the school year for teachers. There is a lot of work to closing a classroom. Bulletin boards have to be taken down, books and supplies stored. Everything has to be stowed away so all the furniture can be removed, and the room cleaned and waxed from top to bottom. I always have tubs of things that I bring home for the summer. These are the summer projects that I plan to work on. Last summer I worked a lot on school, but some years the tubs return to school in August, virtually undisturbed. We'll see what happens this year.

My classroom is closed and summer vacation has officially begun. It is highly unusual for me to actually finish closing my room on the teacher workday. I am usually in there for several days beyond the end of the contract, but for some reason I managed to do it. This is because early on, I adopted the "just shove it in the cabinet, and don't worry about reorganizing until the fall" approach. I will undoubtedly regret it later, but right now I'm very happy.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Photo #160: Locker Clean Out

The desks have been cleaned out, the name tags removed. The locker doors are standing ajar, empty once again. Today was the last day of school. The kids were dismissed at 12:10, so teachers got to have one of those rare lunches out. Then we began the process of closing our rooms. Tomorrow we will wrap up the paper work, and finish packing up the books and supplies. We are all ready for a much needed vacation.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Photo #159: Author, Author!

My students have done lots of writing this year, much of it through the use of technology. As anyone who knows me can tell you, I have become a techie teacher this year. We have tried lots of new things. The kids have their own blogs, they've written on wikis and Wallwisher, and they have created digital books on Storybird and StoryJumper. During the past three weeks they have been writing books on a website called StoryJumper. They wrote the stories, and created the illustrations by choosing backgrounds and other details. There was a lot of talking going on when they were at the computers, so I wasn't really sure what we were going to end up with.

Today was the last full day of school, so this afternoon each child presented and read their digital book to the class. This was one of those very gratifying moments for a teacher. I was so proud of what they had achieved. They have come so far as writers, and as you can see from the photo, they had the full attention of their classmates. And this is why I do it. This is the thrill of teaching, those moments when you are rewarded by seeing that your students have truly grown. That makes for a great way to end the school year.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Photo #158: Bears

I have been teaching at Phillips for twenty years. Since I've been here, I have taught first, second, third, and, for the past 13 years, fourth grade, and during that time I have accumulated a lot of stuff. I have been feeling overwhelmed by the clutter, so I have been determined to weed out things I'm not using, like these colorful bears. But here's the problem, I look at this stuff and I think. . . I might use it. After all we have used them for our Estimation Station in the past, and . . . they're so cute and colorful. . . . then I put them back on the shelf, where they stay for another year or two.

I always start out thinking I will sort and organize everything as I close my classroom in June. Then I get tired and just start shoving things in cabinets, and pledge to do it in August before the new year begins. That never happens either, because the stress in August ratchets up and I begin focusing on setting up the room instead of cleaning out cabinets. But I really mean it this time, I swear I'm going to organize everything in August.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Photo #157: Sweet William

Yesterday was East High School's graduation, so now is the time for Graduation Parties. I went to Nadia Tyler's graduation open house today. My friend and colleague, Kathy Flaherty is her mom. Nadia was one of the class valedictorians for her class. She has made her mom proud, and she will be attending college in the fall at the University of Northern Iowa. They couldn't have asked for better weather, because it has been a really glorious day today, perfect for sitting on the deck and eating cake. These flowers caught my eye because I hadn't seen anything quite like them. Kathy said they are Sweet William. I thought it was interesting the way some seemed the reverse of the others in coloring and contrast.

Congratulations, Nadia! Keep up the good work!

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Photo #156: Day Lillies

I almost forgot to do my blog tonight. I was busy writing a post for my other blog, Prospecting for Treasure. So, this is going to be short. The Day Lillies are beginning to bloom. I love the colors. I took several close up pictures, and in each one the petals look tattered around the edges. Is that the way they always look, and I'm just now noticing?

Friday, June 4, 2010

Photo #155: Math Centers

We are down to the last two and a half days of school. I keep kids working right up to the end, but I do look for ways that keep the kids engaged with some of the "fun" stuff. In math this week we have worked with data collection and graphs, probability, and geometric designs and tessellations. Today we rotated through centers. Some of my kids used parquetry blocks and geo blocks to create this design.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Photo #154: The Last of the Irises

I really didn't like any of the pictures I took today, so I'm going to use this photo that I took out at my sister's house about a week and a half ago. The irises have really gone past by now, as have most of the peonies. I love the beautiful color of these iris that were blooming back by the pool.

Today we finally got to the "lasts". Today was the last Thursday for the kids. We now have three and one half more days of school. I can hardly wait!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Photo #153: French Hollyhock

I believe this flower is called a French Hollyhock. The plant and flower is much smaller than the traditional hollyhock, but the foliage is similar in shape and appearance. These flowers were here when I bought this house nine years ago. I had other ideas about what to plant in this flower bed, but the French Hollyhock is just as tenacious as it's larger relative. They are self seeding, and they come up everywhere. I have given up. Now if they mange to come up and bloom, I just let them stay. They really are very pretty.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Photo #152: Weigela

These beautiful blooms are on a Weigela bush at my sister's house. They have several shrubs in various colors, but I liked the deep pink of this one. I also like the lush rich color of the surrounding foliage.

Today was one of those evenings that I didn't even get home until 9:00. I am so ready for summer vacation.