Monday, April 30, 2012

GMC Team Jerseys: Variations on a Theme

Ellie and Kathy (the head coach) both liked the original design, but also asked for a little more to be added. Ethan thought there might be too many flames. He likes things very plain, so that was no surprise.
Here's the original design. Ellie thought we should add something to make the flames more interesting. Kathy thought it might be nice to add some color to the mountains.

In this variation I added the requested colors on the mountain and switched up the colors on one sleeve. This would make it easy to spot in a race, not that we expect a lot of others teams going with the same color scheme.

And then there are always variations on the enhanced flames. I wanted a more hot rod flame sort of look, but could not make it work with the time I have today to work on this project.

I'm not sure if any of these are the right design. It may just be my mood. I feel ineffectual today. The end of the school year is hard, especially this year as it has been one of the hardest years of my teaching career. Maybe I am just tired. I'll know soon enough.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Early Ideas for a Team Jersey - Ram's Head with Mountains and Flames

I am in the early stages of designing a jersey for our mountain bike team. There are requests for the ram's head we used last year, mountains and something cool like flames. Our colors will be neon yellow, grey and black. It took me a while to wrap my head around how to do it all and have it not look like it was designed by a committee.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Back in the Saddle - Ellie has a Great First Race of Her Season

It was a lovely afternoon for a bike race and Ellie seemed to have a great time.
Despite the fact that she has not been on her bike much, she came in 2nd place, missing first by just a few seconds.
I enjoyed hanging out with our biking friends, too. Tomorrow we do another race, one she really likes.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Dithering Over Garden Plans

Sitting at my computer this afternoon, I am swimming in the wonderful and heady scent of lilacs that come from my mother-in-law's garden. She has been gone for three year now, but this is when I miss her the most. She is in all of the gardening I do and this year I am in a dither.
The front garden has a glorious, nearly weed free start thanks to my husband who went through and plucked out the weeds that were early raisers. Now that we are having much warmer weather, there is a gang of weeds threatening to take over. I must get at them this next weekend. My alliums are above it all. They are glorious in all of their purple splendor.

Here is a interesting shot that happens to display several stages of the alliums opening.

Not to be left out, my favorite "Pig Squeak" Begonia displays her finery as well. Her round, glossy leaves will outlast the alliums, and nearly everything else out front. Sadly, my original Pig Squeak that I fell in love with many years ago did not reappear this spring. Plants do grow old and die, but I still don't like that fact.

Last summer was a odd summer for gardening. My attentions were so split with doing things with the kids, going to art camp for two weeks, writing several online courses and the like, that our veggies did not do well at all. I felt like a failure. I had augmented my soil and the plants got plenty of water since we now have a sprinkler system, but still, not a great result. I have come to find out that it was not just me. Nearly all of the other gardeners I talk to say the same thing. The lone exception is a house about a mile away. They have a resplendent garden where there used to be grass. I see them out there tending it nearly any evening I drive by. Now, They know what they are doing, and they are bold! They already have warm weather stuff out and grow even though the threat of frost is not past.

Between my veggie failure I came across a posting from Ali Edwards who wrote about transforming her veggie bed into one for flowers for cutting. I found that a bit enchanting and even thought about it over the winter. I was pretty resolved that I was not going to do veggies this year. Then, it happened. My husband stirred up the dirt in the cold frame on the south side of the house. It was inviting. It whispered possibilities to me when ever I was working at the computer and had the window open. The dirt was dark and inviting. Then I gave in. I used cheerfully colored string to convince myself that even if I failed here, at least there would be a small bit of color. I drew lines in the dirt under the string, carefully deposited tiny seeds, sprinkled it lightly with dirt and just smidge of water. I checked it every morning before work. And then it happened - little green miracles sprouted up from the dark earth. Slowly at first, crowding each other out. I had to thin some of them right away. I haven't the heart to do more. I may make my boy take on that task.

The lettuce, radish and spinach sprouts mean hope and a chance. So now, I am dithering and so undecided.

I'm reasonably certain that I want to put veggies and flowers together in the raised beds in the backyard. I just don't know which ones. I am in the middle of research. If Eleanor were here, she would hold my hand in her soft one, stroking the top of mine with hers, and gently nudge me into giving it a go, helping me pick out plants that will be successful. I will continue to miss her, but I will also have to find someone else to help me get over my dithering. It's time to begin planting something already.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

The Flowers in My Garden

My husband has a wonderful eye and a talent for catching the light just right when he takes photographs. Here is some of his recent photos of our spring garden.
Oh, this one is not a flower, but she is lovely just the same. She is sanding the swing in order that it may get a fresh coat of paint to get ready for a season of fun.

Hostas are my favorite and I love to watch them unfurl.

This is "Pig Squeak," also known as a begonia. It is another one of my favorite. One of my long standing "Pig squeak" plants, one that survived draughts, has not reappeared this spring. I am a bit saddened by this.

Larr's ability to notice things, like the way the light catches on the dew drops, is part of what displays his talent. I love these kinds of photos that he takes.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

A Successful Thesis Defense

A week ago Ethan and his dad were at school prepping for Ethan's thesis defense. It is one of the most important individual events at our school.
Ethan had really enjoyed the writing process. This surprised and pleased him. His thesis, "My Hole Life" is thoughtful, reflective and literary. The title is a play on words since he uses the metaphor of holes and digging to represent how he has lived his life thus far. He began his thesis with a description of what he learned about himself during some of his recent adventures, most notably the canyoneering trip in Utah. He then went on to describe and reflect on the various qualities he believes an effective adult possesses. He says,"The internal qualities of an effective adult are: independence, productivity, responsibility, and freedom. An internal quality is something that affects the way a person lives and conducts himself." Interwoven into his written and oral presentations the audience is treated to excerpts from Anthem by Ayn Rand, "The Road Not Taken" by Robert Frost, Time Enough for Love by Robert A. Heinlein and most importantly, "Pioneers, O Pioneers!" by Walt Whitman. It is the most serious piece of writing he has ever done and I am so proud of him.

Prepping for the oral presentation was a different challenge. How Ethan thought it would go, and how he needed to do it were entirely different. As a result, we were all up late last Sunday evening and he was sweating it. I knew he would do well, but it was hard to see him so stressed.

Monday came. The chairs and podium were arranged. Artifacts and slides representing his passions and adventures were displayed on a table. Guests were arriving. After a short introduction by Missa, his committee chair, in strode my boy so confident and grown up. He was poised with so much grace as he began to recite the first half of "Pioneers, O Pioneers!" from memory. It was really something watching,no, enjoying his presentation. My little boy has been replace with such a remarkable young man. I was so proud of him. He had been eagerly anticipating the Q&A part of the evening. It has always been his favorite part. He was asked some really tough questions, but answered them honestly and with integrity. At one point in the presentation Ethan talked about what it was like to have his dad be such an active and integral part of his life, helping to mold who he had become. We looked at Ethan with his closely cropped hair, his blue button down shirt, belt and pen in the pocket. Then we looked at his father, wearing the same. We had a small chuckle over that.

While he was in his private session with his panel we cleaned up. We did not doubt that he would be successful, but the waiting was hard nonetheless. He came out of the library smiling. Shortly thereafter the members of the panel arrived and congratulated him. We were all smiles and hugs. And then we all went for Victory Pie at Village Inn - a tradition at our school.

The whole evening I was struck with a curious set of responses. In many ways it seems like Ethan has been part of my life forever, and at the same time it seems like just a few days ago he was the tiny boy digging big holes in my garden with a big shovel. I am excited for what lies ahead for him. I am also a bit sentimental, knowing that he will become more and more independent and I will be increasingly on the sidelines. I know that is how it is supposed to go, but I will miss him all the same. I am so proud of him and who he is becoming.

Here's how the process goes at our school:

In September the candidate picks a panel of eight adults to help guide and advice him during his process. They are to address how they have prepared themselves to be effective adults in the larger community. After many conferences and drafts, his paper was complete and sent to everyone in the school community. On a given evening the graduation candidate does an oral presentation and participates in a question and answer session. After that the guests leave and the panel, along with the candidate, holds a final and private Q&A session. The candidate is excused from the room and the advising committee decides whether the candidate has earned a diploma, or not.

Friday, April 13, 2012

"Take the Lead" Teacher Rally

On Wednesday I went to the education rally that was happening at the state capitol. We had the day off becuase it was a furlough day due to budget cuts. We've all had to take pay cuts. While I am glad that I still have my job, I hate the fact that the price of everything continues to go up and current projections indicate that we will not have our pay restored before 2017. Things are so tight now. I hope their projections are wrong.

It is estimated that around 1,800 teachers showed up for the rally. Some of the lawmakers came out onto the second floor balcony to listen to the speeches and the music. I imagine that our rally was a nice change from some of the negative, harsh ones that occupy that same space from time to time. I am exhausted from the events of the last few weeks. I was tempted to stay home and sleep in more, but dreaming about it sealed the deal - I had to go. No one would miss me in particular, but it was numbers that we were going for and I counted there. In my dream the sea of teachers in blue shirts traveled from the capitol all the way across several blocks to the court house. In my dream we met at a stagecoach stop and took train that ran on tracks that traveled through wooden tunnels and over bridges. In reality we met at a few of the high schools and took school buses downtown.

I'm glad I went. I hope it makes a difference.

Today my son starts his first full time job. He steps away from childhood and into adulthood. He is excited. He has a job for the Open Space program. He will help maintain the parks by doing things like building up stairs and fences, cleaning the restrooms. He will get drive a county truck and use heavy equipment from time to time. It will be a good fit for him.

Sunday, April 08, 2012

Nearly A Lovely New Beginning - Missa and James, an Engagement

We've known James and Missa for many, many years. They both started at AVS when they were almost teenagers. We've seen them grow into interesting, thoughtful, honest and productive adults. They will be wed in a little over a year. They want everything to be just right and this timeline will allow for Keenan to finish his Marine commitment and stand in their wedding.
Dave is James' father. He is delighted at the match. He and his wife Clea always put on wonderful, abundant parties. This party was no exception.

Scott, Missa's stepfather, also gave a toast.

This is Missa with her mother, Connie. They are so sweet together.

The party was at the Rolling Hills Country Club and it was a perfect day. From the vantage the room provided, you could see for miles and miles.

We wish them well. They've already been through hard times as it was their house that burned up a few weeks ago.

Asian Salad
from "What's Cookin' in My Kitchen

3 (3 oz.) packages ramen noodles, crushed
1 cup blanched slivered almonds
2 teaspoons sesame seeds
1 head napa cabbage, shredded
4-5 green onions, chopped
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup white vinegar
1/2 cup white sugar
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
Mandarin oranges, for garnish

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Toss crushed ramen noodles, sesame seeds and almonds on a rimmed baking sheet. Toast in oven for 8-10 minutes, stirring once, until golden; set aside. In a small saucepan bring the vegetable oil, sugar, and vinegar to a boil for 1 minute. Cool, then stir in soy sauce and sesame oil. In a large bowl, combine shredded cabbage, green onions and cilantro. Add dressing and toasted ramen, almonds and sesame seeds. Toss well to combine and serve immediately. Garnish with mandarin oranges, if desired.

Chicken Tiki Marsala (Paleo version)
From:Weightlifting, Cross-Fit, Paleo and Randomness

2 tsp. Paprika
1 tsp Garam Masala
1/2 tsp. Ground Cumin
1/2 tsp. Crushed Red Pepper
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tb Coconut Oil
1.5 lbs Organic Free Range Chicken Breasts, cut into bite size cubes
1 Sweet Onion
2 Tb freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 (14.5 oz) can Organic Diced Tomatoes, undrained
1/2 cup Coconut Milk (FULL FAT!)
1/2 Tb Arrowroot powder
Sea Salt to taste

Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet on medium heat. Add chicken, onion, and liemon juice; cook and stir until chicken is no longer pink (about 10 minutes). Add all of the spices except red pepper and cook/stir 1 minutes

Stir in tomatoes and mix well. In a small bowl, stir together coconut milk, arrowroot powder, and salt until smooth. Gradually stir coconut milk mixture into skillet. Stir in Red Pepper and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low. Simmer 5 minutes or until slightly thickened, stirring frequently.

Curry "Fried Rice"
From: The Clothes Make the

Curry Fried F’rice
Makes 2 servings (approx. 2 blocks C + 4 blocks F)

2 cups steamed, chopped cauliflower
1 cup diced fresh pineapple
2 tablespoons blanched, slivered almonds
3-4 scallions, green and white chopped
2 teaspoons canola oil
1 teaspoon ground curry powder
salt & pepper
1. Heat nonstick pan to medium-high, spray with Pam spray, and sautee pineapple ’til lightly brown in some spots. Take out of the pan and set aside. Go ahead! Eat one; they’re yummy. But just one.
2. Heat 1/2 teaspoon of the oil in the same pan, then sautee almond slivers ’til lightly browned. Remove from pan and set aside. Same rules re: tasting apply.
3. When you’re ready to eat, heat the remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons oil in the same pan. Add cauliflower and stir-fry 2-3 minutes, ’til heated through. Add chopped scallions, curry powder, salt & pepper, pineapple, and almonds. Fry ’til heated through.

Friday, April 06, 2012

Tents Optional Camping - Boys Roughing it in the Wild

Ethan spent part of his break with two friends. They hiked in some miles and did a primative style camping trip. They loved it!
This is a wiki-up, similar to the last one he and Scott made. This one was a bit different since they were in a rock outcropping.

The base is made from fallen wood and fortified with bark, evergreen boughs, etc.

It was big enough to fit three tall men and their limited amount of gear. They only took what they could hike in.

It was a beautiful spot and wonderful weather.

Being dirty means that he is having a good time. :)

Scott will be teaching primative camping skills at a summer camp.

Ethan enjoyed making ashcakes, biscuit like items that are cooked in the warm ash from a fire.

I enjoyed the same stars, but from a different view point. It is hard to tell that a big, fast moving forest fire is raging in another part of the wilderness, much closer to where Andreas lives. IN the end, it was contained and everything in that part of the mountain community was safe. Thank God!

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

Euclid Hall Bar and Kitchen - CTLC Dinner

After the conference finished on Saturday, we went out to dinner together. We usually go to the Wynkoop Brewery, but they were completely booked ahead of time with the Woman's March madness basketball tournament in town. We went to the new Euclid Hall Bar and Kitchen. I am glad we did. I think it is such a fun place! Have a look at just some of what we enjoyed.

There were enough of us to fill two long tables.
The committee members that arrived before us ordered our appetizers of Roasted Cauliflower Salad with shishito pepper marmalade, haystack goat cheese, scallions and tempura crunchies. The marmalade was really wonderful. I will have to figure out how to make it.
We also enjoyed fried cheese curds and a very special chips with dip which was really a lemon goat cheese dip, oolong tea smoked rare duck breast cut into very thin slices, duck confit, Kennebec potatoe ships, baby dill and olive oil. Oh my - I could have stopped there an been happy.

This is Steak Poutine with grilled and braised beef, demi chasseur, chervil, tarragon and cheddar curds. Very tasty!

Several of the people at our table had the Fried Quial with Sourdough seed and nut waffles with duck gravy and a habanero-maple syrup.

I was drawn to putting together my own plate idea so I stared with the hand-cranked beef short rib kielbasa. It came with a sampling of four different mustards.
Several of us also ordered house-made Kennebec fries with bacon aioli. They were the best fries - ever (I'm pretty sure.)
I also had to try the Black Pepper, Garlic, Mint and Spring Pea Spatzle. It was so subtle, but great, too.

Desserts soon followed. How could we pass up...

a Lemon Meringue Pie with Blueberry Rosemary compote and marshmallow fluff on the side?
the S'Mores Pots de Creme with houemade graham crackers and marshmallow creme. It was most people's favorite.

a Sourdough waffle with salted butterscotch ice cream with pralines. It was subtle, salty, interesting.