Monday, November 30, 2009

'Til It's Over

Glad. Posting everyday is over.
Grumpy. Because I'm in the middle of grading the NYS social studies test (5th grade).
Happy. To be home.
Frustrated. With a never-ending messy house. And a dog who wants to pee on the floor all the damn time.
Anticipating. The 2nd annual Hanukkah (in a non jewish way) celebration!
Ready. To go to the gym.

Oh, and it's finally snowing!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Carrot Love

I dug up some carrots this morning. Here is my carrot man. After the photo, I cut him up for the soup.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

We Are Star Stuff

harvesting star light. ~Carl Sagan

The basis for menu planning and groceries used to be to spend as little as possible. Now, with a kid with health issues, I've made the switch to organic. This is easy and cheap in the summer, but as winter approaches it gets a little complicated.

The first thing I do when writing a shopping list and planning the week's meals is to check what I have. The left over turkey and the turkey stock is in the freezer. (I simmered the carcass for over 8 hours, and it did not fall apart. Maybe because it was a heritage, organic, pasture raised turkey?) I have sweet potatoes, celery and rutabaga. There is also a half bushel of butternut squash bought from a farm stand. And there are the last of the tomatoes, picked green and ripened on the counter top. And there is the last of the mystery squash from a volunteer vine. (We get lots of volunteers from the compost; gourds, pumpkins, squash, melons, tomatoes, potatoes, and more.)

There are also leeks,

chard, parsley, carrots,

sage, and broccoli in the garden.

I decided to roast the squash and make stock from the seeds and guts. That went in the freezer with the turkey for sometime in the future when we are not tired of turkey and squash leftovers.
Then, I tried to make good use of what's in the garden for this week's menu plan.

Sunday: Chili (vegetarian for me, with ground bison for the kid)

Monday: Salmon fillets (baked with ginger, lemon, and garlic), broccoli, sweet potatoes, and carrots

Tuesday: Split pea soup with leeks and chard, whole wheat dinner rolls

Wednesday: Burgers (bison for the kid, veggie for me), chard (again!), sauteed with garlic and olive oil, and rutabaga

Thursday: Out to the Mexican Restaurant

Friday: Homemade pizza, carrot sticks, celery sticks and tomato slices

Saturday: Yellow daal and butternut squash curry soup

Shopping List:
ground bison (the only red meat the kid eats is pasture raised bison and lamb)
veggie burgers
wild caught salmon
milk (soy for me, organic 2% for the kid)
pizza cheese
fruit (for snacks)
lunch stuff
herbal tea
cat food
drain cleaner

Baking list:
sandwich bread
cookies (for lunches)

The planning is done until next week.

Friday, November 27, 2009

If You're Ever In Cambridge, MA

and you've made a commitment to not buying new, factory made clothing, this is a good resource. If you want once-in-a-lifetime bargains, stay downstairs. If you want a department store-like shopping experience, go upstairs. Upstairs, all the garments are organized by type and hung by size. When I was there, prices ranged from approximately $5 to $25. And you can try stuff on.

If you stay downstairs, you will notice a costume shop on the right. I stayed away from this part. On your left and in the back is a big, purple room that looks like this. Here you fill your bag with items. When you're done, your bag is weighed, and you pay by the pound.

You have to get down on the floor, crawl around, and dig. And dig. I spent about an hour and $11. I found:

3 funky t shirts
a bathing suit
a 100% wool cardigan with embroidery and shell buttons
a beany
linen trousers
a purple top with elephant designs
a turtle neck sweater
a fleecey jacket

It was so much fun. And I would have bought more if I were feeling more courageous.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Thanksgiving Day

had unusual weather. Usually the snow is knee deep, and there is sledding after dinner. But with temperatures in the 60's, frisbee was more appropriate. It was a gathering of friends, young (9 months) and old (83). The Thanksgiving fire burned for the second year in a row; it is now destined to become a tradition.

The food was a collaborative effort. My contributions included a turkey, bread, and a pumpkin cheesecake.

Last year, my life was falling apart. This year, things are looking up. I am indescribably thankful.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Thanksgiving Address

Greetings to the Natural World

The People

Today we have gathered and we see that the cycles of life continue. We have been given the duty to live in balance and harmony with each other and all living things. So now, we bring our minds together as one as we give greetings and thanks to each other as People.

Now our minds are one.

The Earth Mother

We are all thankful to our Mother, the Earth, for she gives us all that we need for life. She supports our feet as we walk about upon her. It gives us joy that she continues to care for us as she has from the beginning of time. To our Mother, we send greetings and thanks.

Now our minds are one.

The Food Plants

With one mind, we turn to honor and thank all the Food Plants we harvest from the garden. Since the beginning of time, the grains, vegetables, beans and berries have helped the people survive. Many other living things draw strength from them too. We gather all the Plant Foods together as one and send them a greeting and thanks.

Now our minds are one.

The Medicine Herbs

Now we turn to all the Medicine Herbs of the world. From the beginning, they were instructed to take away sickness. They are always waiting and ready to heal us. We are happy there are still among us those special few who remember how to use these plants for healing. With one mind, we send greetings and thanks to the Medicines and to the keepers of the Medicines.

Now our minds are one.

The Animals

We gather our minds together to send greetings and thanks to all the Animal life in the world. They have many things to teach us as people. We see them near our homes and in the deep forests. We are glad they are still here and we hope that it will always be so.

Now our minds are one.

The Trees

We now turn our thoughts to the trees. The earth has many families of trees who have their own instructions and uses. Some provide us wit shelter and shade, others with fruit, beauty, and other useful things. Many people around the world use the tree as a symbol of peace and strength. With one mind, we thank and greet the tree life.

Now our minds are one.

The Birds

We put our minds together as one and thank all the birds who move and fly above our heads. The Creator gave them beautiful songs. Each day they remind us to enjoy and appreciate life. The eagle was chosen to be their leader. To all the birds - from largest to smallest - we send our joyful greetings and thanks.

Now our minds are one.

The Waters

We give thanks to all the Waters of the world for quenching our thirst and providing us with strength. Water is life. We know its power in many forms—waterfalls and rain, mists and streams, rivers and oceans. With one mind, we send greetings and thanks to the spirit of Water.

Now our minds are one.

The Fish

We turn our minds to all the Fish life in the water. They were instructed to cleanse and purify the water. They also give themselves to us as food. We are grateful that we can still find pure water. So, we turn now to the Fish and send our greetings and thanks.

Now our minds are one.

The Plants

Now we turn toward the vast fields of Plant life. As far as the eye can see, the Plants grow, working many wonders. They sustain many life forms. With our minds gathered together, we give thanks and look forward to seeing Plant life for many generations to come.

Now our minds are one.

The Four Winds

We are all thankful to the powers we know as the Four Winds. We hear their voices in the moving air as they refresh us and purify the air we breathe. They help to bring the change of seasons. From the four directions they come, bringing us messages and giving us strength. With one mind, we send our greetings and thanks to the Four Winds.

Now our minds are one.

The Thunderers

Now we turn to the west where our Grandfathers, the Thunder Beings, live. With lightening and thundering voices, they bring with them the water that renews life. We bring our minds together as one to send greetings and thanks to our Grandfathers, the Thunderers.

Now our minds are one.

The Sun

We now send greetings and thanks to our eldest Brother, the Sun. Each day without fail he travels the sky from east to west, bringing the light of a new day. He is the source of all the fires of life. With one mind, we send greetings and thanks to our Brother, the Sun.

Now our minds are one.

Grandmother Moon

We put our minds together and give thanks to our oldest Grandmother, the Moon, who lights the nighttime sky. She is the leader of women all over the world, and she governs the movement of the ocean tides. By her changing face we measure time, and it is the Moon who watches over the arrival of children here on Earth. With one mind, we send greetings and thanks to our Grandmother, the Moon.

Now our minds are one.

The Enlightened Teachers

We gather our minds to greet and thank the enlightened Teachers who have come to help throughout the ages. When we forget how to live in harmony, they remind us of the way we were instructed to live as people. With one mind, we send greetings and thanks to these caring Teachers.

Now our minds are one.

The Creator

Now we turn our thoughts to the Creator, or Great Spirit, and send greetings and thanks for all the gifts of Creation. Everything we need to live a good life is here on this Mother Earth. For all the love that is still around us, we gather our minds together as one and send our choicest words of greetings and thanks to the Creator.

Now our minds are one.

Closing Words

We have now arrived at the place where we end our words. Of all the things we have named, it was not our intention to leave anything out. If something was forgotten, we leave it to each individual to send such greetings and thanks in their own way.

And now our minds are one.

This translation of the Mohawk version of the Haudenosaunee Thanksgiving Address was
developed, published in 1993, and provided here, courtesy of:
Six Nations Indian Museum and the Tracking Project
All rights reserved.
Thanksgiving Address: Greetings to the Natural World
English version: John Stokes and Kanawahienton (David Benedict, Turtle Clan/Mohawk)
Mohawk version: Rokwaho (Dan Thompson, Wolf Clan/Mohawk)
Original inspiration: Tekaronianekon (Jake Swamp, Wolf Clan/Mohawk)

Thanksgiving Address Fund
c/o Tracking Project
P.O. Box 266
Corrales, New Mexico 87048

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Library Day

We have decided to visit the library once a week. There will be less Hulu and more turning pages. Since I'm still finishing Peace Like a River (a-maazing), I got a cookie cookbook (it's nothing special, alas). And November's The New Yorker. The kid is reading The Crucible for school, so he didn't want a book.

We also got the Cosmos, because it's worth watching. Again.

These items must be returned, and new ones borrowed, in one week at the most. That's my new rule.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Tour of the Classroom

Part 3, the Student Teacher

Though it's a ton of work and responsibility, I try to have a student teacher every couple of years. Because someone was willing to do it for me, and I'm still grateful for that.
Here are some things that have come up so far:

Always be prepared.
Always be flexible when your preparations don't work.
Don't yell. Ever.
Don't take it personally.
If you have an issue with a colleague, talk to the colleague. Right away.
Instead of correcting the students, ask them questions.
Planned ignoring is good discipline.
Be punctual.

This one is really good. She's smart, she thinks on her feet, she's not afraid to learn from the kids.

I wonder if she will remember me as she works with her student teachers?

Sunday, November 22, 2009

New Cardigan

I had these two worn out, threadbare, moth eaten tshirts,

and I loved them.

I thought I'd try to make a single, striped shirt out of the two.

So I put one inside the other, drew chalk lines every 2 inches, pinned, sewed along the lines, and snipped out stripes.

But I didn't really like it. I cut down the middle and finished the edges.

I'm very happy with my work. And no one else has one like it!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

And Find Tranquility

Sailing in November is not normal. There is no snow, no ice, no strong wind. The temperature has been fairly mild. The students are still going outside for recess.

It feels like we're cheating a little.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Wishes Won't Wash Dishes

I wish I could somehow live in Cambridge.

Mass. Ave, Cambridge, Ma

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Schezuan Tofu and Dill Pickles

I am crazy about hot, creamy coffee.

I am addicted to Schezuan tofu and dill pickles.

I never tire of swimming in the lake and sipping coffee coolattas.

I can consume all of the popcorn while watching Harry Potter movies.

I wear flip flops and brown toe nail polish.

I love to ride my bicycle, to fly down hills.

I like to put pieces of cloth together until I make something amazing.

I like tea parties with my friends, hot peppers, and reaching out.

By Ms. Wagner

Tuesday, November 17, 2009


...for each of them has turned
aside and each has found it hard
to listen when the other was
the one who was in question and
for each the one atonement is:
begin again.

from Chelmaxioms
by Allen Mendelbaum

Monday, November 16, 2009

Pumpkin Cake

From a co-worker

2 cups canned pumpkin
1 cup oil
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1/4 teaspoon cloves
3 cups flour
8 ounces chocolate chips

In a large bowl, combine pumpkin and oil. In a separate bowl, combine dry ingredients. Combine wet and dry ingredients and mix well. Stir in chocolate chips. Pour batter into a greased and floured 9 x 13 pan and bake in a pre-heated. 350 degree oven for 35 minutes.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Road weary

The kid decided to join me on the trip. We were very tired.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

I'm Goin' Ta Boston!

The kid is feeling uncomfortable about traveling to Boston. And I'm feeling uncomfortable about leaving him for a whole week'm going for a day trip tomorrow.

Yes. Leaving at 5 am, driving for 6 hours, hanging out, eating Indian food, shopping at the Indian grocery (and whole foods, and Trader Joe's - I'm such a hick), attending the daughter's concert, flash visiting a friend, and breathing the good, Boston air. I love Boston. Then driving 6 hours home.

I should be home by midnight.

Friday, November 13, 2009




Still tying to find a new normal, one day at a time.

It's been a beautiful, sparkly November. But. Mourning the loss of the old normal today. And. Fighting fear.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Next Week

Sunday: day (!) trip to Boston, return sometime around midnight

Monday: car to the shop

Monday: administer 5th grade NYS Social Studies Test (I am responsible for ~80 kids' performance, since I am the 5th grade social studies teacher)

Tuesday: administer 5th grade NYS Social Studies Test

Wednesday: report card collaboration

Thursday: Thai food

Friday: 1/2 day training in a city far, far away, which will make me qualified to grade the 5th Grade NYS Social Studies Test

And we have marathon P/T conferences Thanksgiving week...

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Gay Marriage In New York

Hey. If you are a New York citizen and believe in equal rights, call you state senator and tell him/her to vote on the gay marriage bill.* If it passes the senate, Governor Patterson said he would sign it!

This link makes it really easy!

It's so much easier here than California and Maine. No referenda! Once it's a law, it stays a law unless the law is changed legislatively!

I'm calling my Senator, Darrel Aubertine, today. I'm also sending him a letter and a chocolate bar to remind him that sweethearts should be able to marry. I suspect he already supports this bill, but he needs some motivation to act!

*Here's a thought. If you don't like gay marriage, don't marry someone who is gay!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

I finished a project using 2 old, moth eaten, jersey, boat neck tops. And there was this pile of left over strips. I did not want to throw them away; these shirts had such good mojo.

So I made miniature batts for pot holders. (I looove making pot holders. They are fast, easy, useful and they make great gifts.) I sandwiched them in between some muslin scraps, and criss-crossed them in place.

Years ago, tragedy struck, and I just could not bring myself to do patchwork anymore. More recently, I was struck with the urge to clean the sewing room of ufo's* and reminders of unhappy days. There was this pile of starry blocks from a 4 seasons quilt I was planning back then.

They became gifts I gave my friends on my birthday.

I still have one quilt to make, but that is a future post.

*unfinished objects

Monday, November 9, 2009

I'm The Cool Mom

Who teaches her kid's friends useful skills while we wait for breakfast in restaurants.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

I enjoy making bags. Quality of life improves when you can contain your stuff. And if your stuff is contained, you are likely to have less of it.

This potato sack came into my life before we made the change to organic. It's purple and plastic. I just had to make a puple plastic purse. (Anybody else love Lilly and the Purple Plastic Purse by Kevin Henkes? I'd link, but I still don't know how to cut and paste w/out a mouse.)

Here is the inside. I made a lining with muslin, and added some colorful pockets.

A casing, a drawstring, and a strip to cover the label. There you go.

I also added a lining and pockets to...

A rice bag.

No tutorials, I just keep working until everything looks right. And I rarely do the same thing twice. Those bags became birthday presents to two deserving 20 somethings.