Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Crafty Creation

I'm finally able to post a picture of my latest little piece of creativity.  Painting is outside of my normal realm of crafting, but something I'm trying to do more of this summer.  So, I started with a little unfinished pine birdhouse and gave it a paint job.  The sign Pinehaven Hill Studio is what I call my little crafting studio in my home.  (The home we built is on a little knob, and in the midst of a former red pine tree farm.)  The little silver heart has the word "Love" etched on it, but it is difficult to see because of glare.  I added some reindeer moss and the little bird which matches some of the colors on the house.  Although it was a simple project, I am enjoying it.

I'm also adding a picture of the climbing rose that I have growing against my front porch.  I see we have a little bug action gnawing it, but it is blooming like crazy.
In less fun news, I went over to school today.  I moved my belongings from my last year's room into next year's (and past year's) room.  The room is going to require massive cleaning, total reorganization of all cupboards and file cabinets, and then the usual getting-ready-for-school work.  I'm going to have to spend a lot of time at school this summer, but I'm trying to keep a somewhat postiive attitude about it.  It doesn't hurt to clean everything out and reorganize every six years or so. I know over half of my incoming class of students, and I have some really nice kids this coming year.

Be grateful and see the beauty in each day!

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Cooking, Spinning and Knitting

Today was a day of laying low at home and getting a few things done.  I put together some really tasty cinnamon and golden raisin scones for breakfast. 
While we were enjoying our scones for brunch, I watched a television program called "Knit and Crochet Now" on the Create channel.  They showed a pattern for an afghan called "Stained Glass" by Susan Levin.  She created the pattern off of some antique afghans that her grandmother had made.  While I'm not a big fan of making granny square afghans as a use for small odds and ends of yarn balls, this pattern appealed to me.  I have bags of partial skeins, leftovers from completed projects.  After Bob fixed my printer, I printed the free pattern from the show's web site.
Off and on throughout the day, I picked up my needles and made a few pieces for this afghan.  This won't be a project I'm in a hurry to finish.  It will just be for times when I need to have something small to work on, and to use up odds and ends.
I did already make a modification to the pattern.  I'm slipping the first stitch on each row to give a more finished edge and an obvious place to put my black crochet stitches to make the "lead" in the stained glass.
I threw a pork roast in the crock pot to make barbequed pulled pork sandwiches for dinner while Bob fitted my saxony wheel Liz with a new turbo drive belt.  I was very excited to give her a spin, and brought out some white Romney from Green Eggs and Lamb farm in Wisconsin.  Lizzie spins like a dream and I filled almost a full bobbin in just a short time.
It was a lovely, relaxed, productive Sunday!

Be grateful and enjoy the beauty in each day!

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Another Walk

Two days ago, I wrote about a book I read entitled "The Walk." Today was a very nice day for a walk in the woods.  It was in the low 60's and "cloudy bright" as Bob calls it.  It was perfect hiking weather for me.  We are so fortunate to have beautiful wooded areas within the city limits of Duluth, Minnesota.  Take a walk with Bob and I as we explore the scenic Lester River and Lester Park area of Duluth
To get to the park, we took the Seven Bridges Road.  We stopped at Bridge 5 and I took this picture of the Lester River.
Each of the bridges on Seven Bridges Road is lovely in its own right.  Bridge 5 (I don't know if it has a different name) is no exception.
In spite of the 60 degree temperature, there was a family swimming in the river here.  The children were body surfing in the rushing water.  We drove on to get to the top of the Seven Bridges Road and begin our hike back down the river.
The wildflowers, rushing rapids, and the textures of nature are my favorite photographic subjects.  A clump of wild daisies across the river.
The leaves of a poplar tree.  Here in Minnesota, most people refer to this tree as a "popple." It is also known as an aspen.
The shape of the pine tree that is in the center of this picture caught my attention. I think it may have been a spruce tree, but it looked perfectly shaped to be a very large Christmas tree.
I love the softness of the moss against the hard stone wall. 
Threading a birch through the "eye " of the jack pine.
We'll cross at the stone footbridge.  Can you see it up-river?
The texture and green color of this fallen tree stump appealed to me.
Stairway to Heaven
We had to climb up on a stone wall to take a shot of this trunk of a fallen tree.  Would you have recognized what you were seeing if I hadn't told you? I thought it was neat how it almost looked like a miniature version of the forest.
How many colors and textures did Mother Nature use to paint this tiny portion of a tree?
Field of Paintbrush
A study of darks and lights.
The wild strawberries are just about ripe.
A sprinkling of gold in a thicket.
This winding trail has brought our walk to an end.
The wildflowers bid us a fond farewell for today.
Thanks for joining us on our hike through the northwoods!

Be grateful and see the beauty in each day!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

The Walk

Just a short post today because I spent most of my afternoon reading this:

I picked it up this afternoon at the library and sat down and read it cover to cover in one sitting.  I believe it is around #14 on the Bestseller List.  It was an excellent and easy read.

I also went to the dentist this afternoon.  It was a good checkup, but he spoke to me again about clenching my teeth.  It looks like I might have to invest in a splint to wear at night.  It seems to be worse at times of stress, you know, like parents having surgery, and having to reorganize a classroom and files....

I noticed today that my climbing rose is blooming.  If it hadn't been pouring rain again this evening, I would have taken pics of that.  Maybe tomorrow...

Be grateful and see the beauty in each day!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

The Annual Purging

Okay, so because I'm a teacher and I teach in two places, by the spring of the year, my bedroom and especially my closet tend to show the effects of a busy school year.  By "effects" I mean a cluttered, heaped disaster.  Every year, I have the best of intentions that it will not become out-of-control, and every April I look around and realize that once again it has happened.  That means that one project that occurs every summer is a massive closet clean-out and bedroom reorganization.  Except for the past two summers.  Two summers ago, my nephew came to stay with us, and last year I had a brainstorm for a crafting business and we took a camping trip.  That means that this year the closet was really, really bad!  Yes, I had stuff on the floor.  Yes, I had old clothes that no longer fit.  Yes, yes, and yes... it was bad.  So today, The Great Closet Purge happened. 

Hunter: Hey, Jack, did you notice that Mom seemed a bit grumpy today?
Jack:  Yeah, I noticed that.
Hunter:  She keeps yelling at us.
Jack:  Humph, all we're trying to do is help her haul all those clothes out of the closet.
Hunter: Yeah, and she's tripped over me at least 17 times.
Jack: I think it's kinda funny when she flips over you and that armful of clothes goes flying.
Hunter: Some people just have no sense of humor. She looks like Charlie Brown trying to kick the football when she does that.
Jack:  Shhhh... here she comes to see what we're up to......

This is a ginormous mountain of clothing.  The light in the background is coming from a now empty walk-in closet.
Several hours of action-packed bagging, sorting, and organizing fun in 100% humidity and we have a clean closet!  Happiness is a clean closet! Next year I swear I won't let it get that bad again...
Hey, I forgot there was carpet in here....

Be grateful and see the beauty in each day!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Back from Hiatus

Well, I know I said my goal was to write every day, but it has been quite a week, and life got in my way.  One week ago today, my dad had his left knee replaced. As I posted earlier, I was planning on giving my folks as much help as I could.  With the exception of yesterday, I've been with them every day, and most days I've been there from early in the morning until later in the evening.  I'm happy to report that Dad is doing very well.  Today, he was able to walk short distances without the walker and even went out to the mailbox.  At this point, he still isn't convinced that he made the right choice in replacing the knee, but I'm thinking that his opinion will change once his healing is complete.  It truly is amazing to me how well a 77 year old guy is doing only one week after such major surgery.  His goal is to be playing golf again next winter, and I think he has a very good chance of making that goal.

Today was a good example of how our days are typically going.  I made a cinnamon struesel coffee cake and had it in the oven while I got ready for the day.  Then, I went to the grocery store and got some stuff to make dinner and then headed out for the drive to my parents' house.  When I got there, Mom went off to volunteer at hospice, and I made lunch for Dad.  Their cell phone had a weird error message on it, and I fixed that by just shutting off and turning on the phone again.  I showed both parents how to do this.  I prepared a maple glaze marinade for salmon and got that going in the refrigerator.  I helped Dad get situated in his PCM (knee bending machine.) He napped while the machine did his bending for him.  I went out to address a problem I had caused with the computer.

For Father's Day this year, I wanted to get something that would occupy Dad while his movement is restricted.  I decided upon a Flight Simulator computer program and a fancy joystick.  Bob and I tried to move their desktop upstairs and install the program for them.  Unfortunately, when we moved the computer we couldn't get the modem to connect again.  We checked the cable outlet and it worked fine on a TV.  Mom was upset because she has had recent difficulty getting service through the cable company.  I placed a call, and they checked the connection remotely and said we had a problem that would require a service call. The service man could not come out until today.  I thought that their modem was very old, so I brought a new one for them.  I couldn't get the new modem to work either, and the service man came today.  He checked everything working back from the modem out to the street.  The problem was in the wiring coming into the house.  We put on the new modem anyway, as it is much faster than the old one.  By this evening, we had the simulator software installed, the joystick installed, and had calibrated it.  We set Dad up to fly a Cessna out of our local airport.  There is a significant learning curve involved, but I think he may like it. 

When the service man left, I put the maple glazed salmon in the oven, and made rice pilaf and peas for dinner.  It turned out fine, and my folks said it was tasty. After dinner, I did the dishes, and got Dad flying on the simulator.  We watched most of the Twins game and then headed for home, getting home around 9:30.  This is how Hunter looked when he realized we were finally getting home to make his dinner.
How could you not love that look?  Or this one?


Jack was just as excitable as he was on  June 14 (see post prior to this one.)

So all in all, it was a pretty productive, and good day.  Dad wasn't in too much pain, we got a few things fixed, dinner was yummy, and I was able to help out a bit.  I will close with a couple of pics of the peonies that my mom cut for me from her yard.  These peonies came from my grandmother's yard.  My mom dug them up when they were going into a nursing home 18 years ago.  They are still absolutely gorgeous!

Be grateful and see the beauty in each day!

Monday, June 14, 2010

Dreary Day #4

I tell you, this drippy, gray, cold weather has GOT to end!  Day 4 of my summer break and Day 4 of the craptastic weather.  Today was a day of chores in preparation for my dad's knee replacement surgery.  We had a bit of a scare when the doc heard what he thought was a blockage in his heart.  After a stress test last Friday, they have decided to go ahead with the knee tomorrow morning at 7:30.  I anticipate that I will be spending quite a bit of time both at the hospital and at their house once Dad comes home.  There will be a significant recovery period for Dad, and I'm happy to be able to help them out.  So, today I cleaned the kitchen, living room, and dining room.  I also planted most of my planters with flowers.  I've been waiting for nicer weather, but now that my time is going to be occupied, and the flowers were turning slimy and black in the super wet pots; I went ahead.  I made goulash for dinner, which Bob seemed to enjoy.  I'm going to bed early tonight so that I can be at the hospital by 7:30 tomorrow.  Today's picture of the day is only one.  I took this picture of Jack while I was talking with my mother about plans for tomorrow.  Jack's expression pretty much sums up my day.

Be grateful and see the beauty in each day!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Wildflower Wonders

One of our favorite Sunday afternoon activities is to take a ride into the woods.  We like to look for wildflowers, wildlife, campsites, and lakes.  We are fortunate to have so many fun places to go when we are out for a drive.  Today, it was the third gray, drippy day in a row.  Rainy days are really not my favorite picture-taking weather, but I did the best I could.  We didn't see much in the way of wildlife today (although we went down several muddy dirt roads looking for moose) but the flowers are loving this wet weather.  Enjoy these mid-June pics from northern Minnesota.

Indian Paintbrush

Bluebead Lily


Wild Rose

Wood Anemone

Be grateful and see the beauty in each day!

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Elizabeth Comes Home

It was a cool, foggy, damp day for the Park Point Rummage Sale today.  Bob and I went late, after we had gone to a graduation party.  We thought maybe there might be some last minute bargains.  I really didn't expect to find anything. Mostly I was right.  The majority of the sales had been put away, and the remains of trash and "free stuff" were out on the curbs.  We drove along, scoping out what might be left.  There were no crowds, the real bargain hunters were long gone, and parking was no problem.  As we drove along, I suddenly spied a spinning wheel sitting out in a driveway.  I hollered, "Spinning wheel, STOP!" Bob easily swung into a parking spot and we hiked back to the house.  It turned out to be exactly the model I thought it was, an Ashford Elizabeth.Gorgeous. Hardly used. Being sold by a teacher who never really got into spinning during her "knitting phase."  I talked her down on the price and we loaded up the Lady Liz into the back of Ruby for a third of her original price.  She came with a Lazy Kate and three bobbins.  She needs a drive belt, but I looked it up on the internet and the nicest belts cost $12.50.  Here's a pic of Hunter checking out the lovely gal:

Now, there is no way that I needed another spinning wheel. That said, this is a wheel that I have looked longingly at in the magazines.  I have checked it out at Shepherd's Harvest.  She is a lovely wheel.  And the price was excellent.  So, home she came.  And Hunter has given her the seal of approval.

I also purchased this book, which is the source of the poem I quoted yesterday.  I had read the first few pages on Amazon and thought it looked interesting.  Today I purchased a copy and I'm going to try to follow the course laid out in the book.

All in all, I'd say it was a pretty great day.  I'm off now to read the manual for my new wheel and order a drive belt so I can give her a spin!

Be grateful and see the beauty in each day!

Friday, June 11, 2010

The Wild Iris Blooms

What in your life is calling you?

When all the noise is silenced,

the meetings adjourned,

the lists laid aside,

and the wild iris blooms by itself

in the dark forest,

what still pulls your soul?

In the silence between your heartbeats

hides a summons.

Do you hear it?

Name it, if you must,

or leave it forever nameless,

but why pretend it is not there?

The Terma Collective

"The Box: Remembering the Gift"

How can it be that another school year has passed between posts to my blog? Indeed, I have just completed one of the best, most fulfilling years of my teaching career, and I have not recorded it. This was the year that reminded me why I became a teacher thirty years ago. Put aside were all the stresses and distractions of the usual school year, and instead I could just work with children face-to-face. I had the pleasure of seeing the "I get it!" look on a daily basis. What a joyful experience that was!

Now, I have been reassigned to my former position in second grade for next year. Although I have been told that my reassignment was due to financial cuts, I am choosing to believe there may be a more esoteric reason. I am choosing to believe that God has a reason for this change, and I'm willing to do whatever He calls for me to do. My summer will be spent gutting and totally reorganizing my old/new classroom, and spending time with my parents as my dad recovers from major surgery. I am thankful for the year I just completed, and the opportunity to find my purpose in second grade next year, and the time to help my parents.

On this, a rainy first day of summer break, I find this poem. It speaks to my heart.

So what is it that is calling me?

Goal #1 for myself this summer is to try to write every day. I miss writing during the school year. I often feel that pull, but frankly, I'm usually too exhausted to do it after school. My hope is that if blogging becomes habit over the summer, I'll be able to carry on with it once school starts again.

Goal #2 is that I intend to take at least one photograph to add to this journal every day throughout the summer. A-Picture-A-Day is a self-imposed method of exploring and tapping my creative spirit every day.

Goal #3 for this summer is to force myself into creative variety. I plan to dig out old forms of artistic expression from my past, and maybe even some new ones, in an intentional effort to revitalize my creative juices.

Goal #4 is to keep working on my genealogy project. I am thoroughly enjoying my newest hobby, and hope to get a lot of work done on my family tree over the summer months. The voices of my ancients call out to me
This is a picture of my beloved grandmother, Grace. She was a teacher and the person who taught me the value of creativity, art, and beauty in life. I cannot remember a time when my grandmother did not have a crafting project in her hands in the evening. She loved to sew, knit, crochet and garden. She had a green thumb that was not to be believed. She was fiesty and a fighter to the end. My daughter, Katherine Anne, which means "pure grace" is named in her honor. She was born on the first wedding anniversary that my grandmother was not with my grandfather.

Be grateful and see the beauty in each day!