Images of Late Autumn Snow

Before I left for school today I tried to catch a photo or two since it is often too dark when I return home. We didn't get the big snow that was predicted last night, but there was enough to add beauty to the trees.
The covered basketball courts by my classroom waited in stark silence this morning for the hustle and bustle of middle school students as they began to arrive at school. They often shoot a few hoops not minding the below freezing temperatures or the blanket of snow.A group of girls just walked around quietly at break time making distinct trails in the snow. When they headed in to get warm and begin class the footsteps remained intact. With the cold weather that is predicted the footprints may remain for a few more days.

Sadness Surrounds Us

The hallway that leads to my classroom was quieter and more somber this morning. We got the news that my student B's mother had died last evening. She had been in a coma since spring. There were tears, discussion about what we could do to help B, and long, quiet pauses. The class he is in created a large card for his whole family today. They made a collage of photos from the album we have created in the classroom. They also found pictures that would make him smile. They remembered funny stories about B. The healing slowly began.

Kit Spreading the Love

Our kitten Kit is growing bigger and healthier as you can see from the picture of him stretched out on the love seat. He is a lover cat and continues to spread that love with Isabelle, Annie, and Shelby. He is still working on the queen Iris. We think she is actually beginning to tolerate him. I don't know if he will be hugging her soon, but he keeps working on it. Persistent... very persistent.

Be Careful! The Roads Might Be Slick!

This is what I have heard my mother repeat every winter for at least forty years. It has been a good reminder to me though. Today the roads were really slick. I was pleased to see some snow, but as I drove down the lake road to school I could tell that the combination of county plows not putting down much sand, snow, and below freezing temperatures made the road to school very slick. I just took my time, listened to Christmas music on 98.1 and hoped I wasn't too late for my meeting at school. Coming home in the dark was more of a challenge just because it was hard to tell if the road had black ice or was just bare. This is the way it will be now for a few months. When I have an opportunity, I try to stop and observe and appreciate the beauty also. Not today though. It was too slick to stop for pictures!

First Snow

The first snow is illuminated by the porch light.

First Snow

The snow
began here
this morning and all day
continued, its white
rhetoric everywhere
calling us back to why, how,
whence such beauty and what
the meaning;

an oracular fever! flowing
past windows, an energy it seemed
would never ebb, never settle
less than lovely! and only now,
deep into night,
it has finally ended.

The silence
is immense,
and the heavens still hold
a million candles; nowhere
the familiar things:stars, the moon,
the darkness we expect
and nightly turn from. Trees
glitter like castles
of ribbons, the broad fields
smolder with light, a passing
creek bed lies
heaped with shining hills;

and though the questions
that have assailed us all day
remain-not a single
answer has been found-
walking out now
into the silence and the light
under the trees,
and through the fields,
feels like one.
-Mary OliverThe neighbor's colored lights glow in the first snow.
If you look closely you can see Shelby peering out at the snow. The snowflakes are like bright round balls around the porch.

Schlumbergera bridgesii: aka Christmas Cactus

This week one of our Schlumbergera bridgesii began to bloom. Last spring I had posted a poem
about Christmas Cactus and when one "chooses" to bloom. You can find it here.

I have just quit calling this beautiful blooming plant a Christmas Cactus. As soon as I do it doesn't bloom at the holiday season. This week we can call it the Thanksgiving Cactus. This plant decided since family was coming it would show off for this holiday. I noticed when googling information the name has even been changed on many sites to Holiday Cactus. That makes more sense to me. It takes away that feeling of failure when Christmas arrives and leaves and there are no showy buds opening. You can then hang onto the hope it will be on the schedule of another holiday. There is New Year's Day, Martin Luther King Day, Valentine's Day, President's Day and St. Patrick's Day and a few in between that the plant can coordinate with.

If you are a novice at growing this temperamental bloomer, just take care of it and let it be. It has a calendar all it's own! I tried the dark room at night, changing temperature, special food, and repotting. When I just left it and cared for it like any other plant it has been the healthiest.

I do have a theory though. I am obsessed with music for each season of the year. Perhaps each bloom cycle is driven by the music it hears. Did "Over the River and Through the Wood" and "We Gather Together" put it into bloom as I belted out these songs last week? This is a new plant so I can't do a scientific study, but when another one bloomed it was right at Easter. Did I sing " In Your Easter Bonnet" and "He Has Risen" more often last year around that plant?
Now that it is Christmas Music City at my house for the next four weeks, perhaps I will set up a control group and an experiemental group.
Ummmm.... just a theory.

Sunday Scribblings: Near the Window

The topic of Sunday Scribblings this week is Misspent Youth.

Near the Window

The lamp near the window glowed long into the night,
the wonder of words kept me turning the pages.
Curling up with Nancy Drew, Bess, and George
creating a life of intrigue and mysteries to be solved.
Finding poetry at the public library and saving words
as I hunted and pecked on the manual keys.

The stereo filled the hall room with beautiful sounds.
I wore out certain songs as I listened again and again.
I joined the Broadway cast of My Fair Lady and Oklahoma too,
and The Ray Conniff singers backed
me up on Somewhere My Love.
How many times could I repeat Three Dog Night
singing One
While belting out the lyrics with a makeshift microphone?

Near the window I could breathe in spring,
In winter the panes frosted, then melted in a thaw.
If opened in summer a breeze gave a small reprieve,
Burning leaves crept in at the closing of fall.

The neighbor kids gathered for Kick the Can
or Spoons, but
I cocooned myself in my bedroom upstairs.
Finding comfort near the window with my pile of books.
Broadway seemed visible, images from poems remained.
I didn’t pine away about a misspent youth.
I still carry the words and remember the poetry,
And l hear those melodies when I
sit near the window in my childhood room.

by inlandempiregirl

to find other Sunday Scribblings go here.

Sibling Assignment #45: Being Thankful

Our sibling assignment this week was given by Silver Valley Girl. In the spirit of Thanksgiving we were to create a video focusing on what we are thankful for. You will find a heartwarming creation about her family Silver Valley Girl produced while staying at my house here. Raymond Pert's will be here.

I loved the assignment. It gave me an opportunity to reflect on all my blessings. It was a much better way to spend my day than lining up at stores for Door Busters at sunrise.

Images of The Thanksgiving Gathering

A Peaceful Then Busy Thanksgiving Morning

The sunrise this morning was a peaceful way to begin the day as JEJ and I got up early to build the fires, make coffee, and heat water for tea. The color of the sky changed over the lake as the sun began to rise above the fog and clouds. The sun didn't warm up the below freezing temperatures. The pace began to pick up as soon as Mom Mary got out the Betty Crocker cookbook and began preparing pie crusts. As most of you remember pie crusts are not my expertise so I rely on Silver Valley Girl and Mom to prepare the pie crusts. See how Mom makes it look so easy as she cuts the pie dough? Silver Valley Girl adds a special touch to the loganberry pie by cutting out cute turkeys for the top crust. The best part of the pie preparation is the extra dough. As long as I can remember Mom made special pie crust cinnamon rolls with the extra dough that we got as a treat.I got that special childhood treat today to fortify me for continued preparations!

Thanksgiving Week Blessing: Breakfast for Dinner

After school today I had an appointment in town and had to do the last minute shopping for Thanksgiving dinner. I knew that would put me home after seven o'clock so JEJ agreed to be in charge of dinner. JEJ doesn't cook dinner often, but the dishes he does are always delicious. One of his specialties is basic breakfast: tonight that included fried potatoes, bacon, and eggs over easy. When I got home he filled the house with the smell of frying bacon.

Next the potatoes began sizzling in the pan. Last the eggs were cooked. We splurged a bit more and had cinnamon bread toast. What a perfect way to end a long, hectic day- breakfast for dinner. Now I am off to my "to-do" list as I countdown to Thanksgiving dinner. Let's see... now where is that "to-do" list?

Good Grief! What Happened to Thanksgiving?

I love harvest decor and the Thanksgiving holiday. When I see cans of Libby pumpkin, canned milk, and little jars of Kraft cheese waiting on display shelves at the grocery store I am taken back to childhood preparations for Thanksgiving. Because of the food associated with Thanksgiving the holiday does still exists in grocery stores.

What happened to the other very large discount one-stop-shopping stores? One day we were tripping over Halloween candy, costumes, and pumpkins with steam coming out of the tops and then out came the Christmas stuff. How did we go from Star Wars costumes to Santas that dance when you walk by? Good grief! I waited too long to shop for Thanksgiving. All I wanted was a table runner that had a fall motif. What I found were candy canes, snowflakes, and things that sing Christmas songs as you walk down the aisle.

When did this happen? I used to love to look at the cute turkeys that could be placed on the table for dinner. I loved the fall colors in napkins and candles. One year I know I found place mats in harvest colors. I found one clearance shelf last week with leaf place mats and finally stumbled on a shelf of turkey paper plates hidden between holiday food and Santa displays. Perhaps the harvest decor was so popular it sold out quickly? Where are the pilgrim candle holders? What about the cornucopias? Grrrr!
Now don't get me wrong. I love Christmas and decorating and all the preparations. Just not the third week of November.

I will return to do some last minute Thanksgiving shopping tomorrow. I will look for a fall bouquet, fresh cranberries, and apple cider. I just hope none of them are already adorned with glittery red and green wrapping. Just give me a brown label, an orange bow, or golden ribbon. Remember Thanksgiving...that holiday some stores keep forgetting. We have much to be thankful for. Gobble, gobble, gobble.

Sibling Assignment #44: An Unusual Thanksgiving Day: Snow, Grounded, and Barney's Restaurant

Raymond Pert gave the sibling assignment for the week. It was to write about an unusual Thanksgiving Day. We don't dress up our animals, but this picture seemed to match unusual! You can read Silver Valley Girl's here and Raymond Pert's here.

Growing up our Thanksgivings were spent gathered at a family friend's house. We didn't have any family close so it seemed natural to us. Sometimes my grandmother would travel up from Spokane (which seemed like a big journey back in the day!). The women all brought the food, visited, and worked in the kitchen while the men sat around the T.V. in the living room watching football and drinking beer. A big buffet was set up and there was more food then we could ever eat. I tried things at Thanksgiving that we never had at home because my dad didn't like many dishes. I remember the year the Broccoli/Cheeze Whiz/ Minute Rice casserole was the big hit when Dorothy brought it. I also remember Don's potatoes, lots and lots of jello, and fancy whipped cream that came out of a can. There were other kids close to my age. Growing up we spent the holiday looking through Sears catalogues, playing Barbies, listening to The Beatles, and gossiping about boys we had crushes on. I loved those Thanksgivings.

As my siblings and I grew older and left home we soon had our own spouses and homes. Often we would return home for Thanksgiving. Between marriages, divorces, boyfriends, girlfriends, the passing of my grandmothers, nieces, and the death of my father Thanksgiving was in constant change. During those years I always looked forward to being somewhere with family during the traditional holiday.

About eight or nine years ago JEJ and I were ready to travel to Kellogg to spend Thanksgiving with my mom. A winter storm had been predicted, but we didn't figure it would slow us down from traveling four hours to Idaho. It was a bad storm. It did slow us down. It was an unusual Thanksgiving as I gazed out at drifts of snow wondering what we would do. Stay home is what we did. We didn't have anything to prepare for dinner so we did the second unusual thing. A restaurant about ten miles away was serving a dinner. That is where we celebrated Thanksgiving. I remember how different it was. When I was younger I couldn't imagine why restaurants were even open on Thanksgiving. Who would eat there?

We ate at Barney's Restaurant at the highway junction. I remember how delicious the food was. It was a quiet atmosphere and we took time to be thankful for our many blessings. Driving through the snow on the return trip home we recalled how unusual this holiday was. It wasn't such a bad thing. Yes, I missed seeing family, eating Mom's great food and leftovers, but we survived. Now we have stayed at our home for other Thanksgivings for various reasons. It doesn't seem so unusual now.
This year we will celebrate in a somewhat unusual way again. My sister's family and my mom will be joining us at our home for Thanksgiving. That has only happened one other time since I have lived here in northeastern Washington. Let the countdown begin!

Sunday Scribblings: "I Carry".

I am a teacher and I carry bags. My mom carried bags when she was a teacher. They even design bags made just for teachers ( see above). There are many days one bag in not enough! When I have books, a laptop, snacks for a celebration, water, folders of papers, and lunch one bag doesn't cut it.

Teachers collect bags when they go to conferences. If I sit down between sessions the next thing I know I've grabbed the bag of a stranger. We had the same free samples inside ours and the black nylon bags were identical. I went through a briefcase phase. It just couldn't hold the necessities for a science experiment, art project, and a potluck. I also went through the backpack stage. That lasted until I figured out why my back hurt all the time. I have a teacher friend that pulls a carry-on suitcase into class at the university.
Right now this sturdy, unfashionable L.L Bean canvas bag works for me. It holds a calendar, Tic Tacs, hand sanitizer, kleenex, glasses, pens, sticky notes, folders of papers, a lunch, a calculator,Ibuprofen, water, a thermos, an Allen Wrench, a couple of paperbacks, an apple, a wallet, a couple of CDs and "to-do" lists. The bottom is covered with paper clips and change and the inside pocket holds earphones and a thumb drive. Bags are the only way I can be sure I am prepared for a day at school. I am into practicality, not trends or expensive name brands. Don't even ask me what it looks like when we go on a field trip! The bus driver asks if I need to use the cargo area.

For other Sunday Scribblings about carrying go here.

November Garden Tour: Surprises in the Daylight

I love Saturdays in November because I can actually see the gardens. I only catch glimpses during the week, but darkness surrounds the gardens more frequently.
Today I discovered a few things in my gardens. I hadn't realized the oak leaf hydrangeas were so beautiful . This is the first year the leaves have changed in such a lovely way.I also hadn't realized some trees were completely bare of leaves.But I know where the leaves are now.

The surprise of the day was the Olympiad rose which is still blooming and providing a picturesque photo image on this day in November. I can't believe the frost, rain, and wind didn't do it in!

Friday Fourteen: More Things You May Not Know About InlandEmpireGirl!

1. Even though I make certain dishes over and over again, I always get out the recipe. I never make anything by memory.

2. I am easily moved to tears. At parent/student conferences yesterday I witnessed numerous students shedding tears with their parents while reading tributes they had written to them. I handed out kleenex and welled up with tears also.

3. I love to make lists. I write out to-do lists, grocery lists, lists of things I need to remember, and lists of books I want to read. I also love the lists on colored paper.

4. I struggle with any task that involves various wires, cables, and hooking them up to make something work.

5. I have no talent for quilting, needlepoint, or knitting , but I yearn to do all three.

6. I never go through a day without spilling something on me. I quit wearing white years ago.

7. This time of the year when all the leaves have fallen and the plants have died I try to look at my gardens with new eyes. I once read you should study " the bones" of your garden this time of year identifying foundational plants and gaps in the landscaping.

8. Even though I can access the newspaper online and get keep up with current events on news sites, I love the print copy of the paper and read it cover to cover each day.

9. I have to read in bed before I fall asleep every night. I can't just turn off the light and doze off.

10. I don't wear much jewelry and what I wear is inexpensive and practical. I have always been afraid if I had anything very expensive I would probably lose it!

11. I wait eagerly for certain items that can only be found during the holidays: eggnog, Millstone Jingle Java coffee beans, and Tillamook Peppermint Candy ice cream.

12. I love waterfalls, especially ones that are hidden on a hiking trail.

13. I always have a hard time picking out paint colors. I bring home all those strips of color samples and stew over them for days. I have even chosen a color because I liked the name!

14. I cannot use digital clocks in my bedroom. I suffered years of insomnia and those clocks with the numbers dropping each minute put me over the edge!

The Presence of Trees

The Presence of Trees
by Michael S. Glaser

I have always felt the living presence
of trees the forest that calls to me as deeply
as I breathe,
as though the woods were marrow of my bone
as though
I myself were tree, a breathing, reaching
arc of the larger canopy
beside a brook bubbling to foam

like the one
deep in these woods,
that calls

that whispers home

Tuesday With Kit

It has been awhile since I have posted photos of our newest kitten. You can see he has grown quite a bit. He loves sitting atop the cat condo in the sunshine and also in the late evening after he has had a busy day exploring our property. Kit decided he had quite a prize here when he tried to catch Annie one paw at a time!
Here he is taking a grooming lesson from his new best friend Isabelle.

After a busy day of reading and studying he is ready for bed. We have grown very attached to this delightful kitten. Every hour is a new adventure for Kit. He has made friends with the dogs, the group of cats that live more outdoors, and continues to try to win the affection of the queen of the household... Iris the Cat!

Cycles of Teaching: End of the Quarter

Every profession has times of the year that are busier and crazier than others. For people (and parents) in the education field our year runs on a cycle of quarters. I am at the end of the first quarter which meant grading exams and figuring grades today. Another quarter has started and we prepare this week for parent conferences. With no school today it provided me an extra day to do final work for the quarter.I procrastinated a bit this morning, but then decided I needed to first be comfortable. With the rain pouring outside we build a fire and I sat in the recliner to work. It worked for awhile, but I was almost TOO comfortable!When I got about halfway done I treated myself to a bit of chocolate and coffee, then moved to the table to do grades.
I had a buddy named Kit that kept me company all day. Here he is hiding behind the chair either resting or just keeping an eye on me to make sure I stayed focused! I can now go to bed relieved that I am caught up and ready to tackle another week and quarter. What a good feeling.