Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Happy Celebrations

The house is quiet and the cool rains have returned but there are lots of warm feelings swirling around. Would that I could share some photos but I left my camera in Lynne's car. It seems that is the theme of the weekend- leaving little bits of ourselves around so that we will be able to return... but pictures will be here soon to make us all smile.

The word around Seattle is that this weekend was the best gathering the Haspedis clan has had in a long time largely because  nothing was required of us except visiting, eating and drinking, with enough time to do it well. Combine that with an extraordinary coconut wedding cake and there is little more to make a perfect celebration.

Having a long meal with lots of wine and conversation on Tulin Road always makes me feel like family time, especially when there is a little story telling and a bit of idea exchange to keep everyone thinking. It was great fun to have Susan in the kitchen with me making things come together easily and with extra fun. I think all of the girls would agree that nails and champagne are the perfect way to start a wedding day- a little female bonding, always full of laughter and the reminder that we are always here for one another. Seeing old friends and new family on Sunday was a great focus event around which to gather, continuing the theme of wine and sharing into Monday at  Airfield. Kyrsa is a master at the wine tasting! We all had a wonderful time but having Anita and Lynne there to continue the weekend celebration made it perfect. Is there a better way to end a weekend than with a picnic in the sun and a glass of rose? Lest anyone think I am passing them over, family always includes Alex and Lisa. Alex's absence was acutely felt Sunday evening and commented on by many.

These are the reminisces of the weekend but the real reason for this little review is to share the words I heard all weekend. "Your children are really great". Of course I can only agree ( for the most part) but I do want to thank you all for your  generous hearts as we shared time together.  Lynne and Anita both said it was the best time together because of the many chances to visit and share. Barb had a great weekend and was sad only because she and Dave were not able to be at the wine tasting event! She wore her "wedding sweat shirt" to Pilate's Tuesday and her trainer could not believe Colin was not a professional (professional what?). For me, I loved every minute of the sharing time and laughter and being squashed into the back of vehicles...all moments to remember when challenges wreak havoc or when stress seeks to overwhelm. Thank you to us all for a great reminder that life really is pretty great and so are we.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Summer is here-finally

June 21st has come and gone- the longest day of the year. To celebrate I took a walk AFTER dinner and it was still light at 9 pm! This is the best time of the year for me and I realize how much my body demands the energizing  light and warmth of summer. It may not be all that warm but the light is here so we have made a start. With the long days come hours of time in the garden bringing those random thoughts cruising in and out through the holes of my brain. Here is one that I have meant to put out into the universe for some time.

With the summer comes the end of the school year. In the present economy, school employees everywhere have been buzzing about jobs that have ended and contracts not renewed. In many cases teachers retire and their posts are not filled from outside but staffed within. This might sound like a good business plan but a junior high school general math teacher does not an AP calculus teacher make. The young, energetic journalism teacher, teaching part time journalism and part time English on a long term subbing contract is not best replaced by a Buisness English teacher with 26th years of seniority. 

These are real examples of real decisions made to help budgets but to destroy curriculums. There are hundreds of young educators looking for contracts and even when they find that first job, work 14 hour days in preparation and make a very successful presence in the classroom, they become the first casualties of the "budget crunch". This is an old story and 60 year old teachers are NOT ready to join an old folks home. Neither are they able to live for 25 years on their reitrement pension. The experience these educators have gathered need not be sent to a scrap heap as out moded  but big problems are best solved by well designed structural changes, so a structure needs to be errected allowing the passing on of information and the infusion of youthful energy.

Of course I have an answer! School districts needs to develope a force of senior teachers, each with no fewer than 20 years of experience in their assigned grade level or curriculum. Each grade level/curriculum would have one "mentor teacher" for every 2-3 schools and no fewer that 2 mentors per grade level. These mentors would weave their way through every school and classroom so that each classroom teacher would see a mentor once a week, seeing all of the mentors in the district in rotation.

Mentors would be in the classroom, acting as observes and helpers. They would also spend time talking with teachers individually about teaching, discipline, curriculum, materials and other subjects that make up the life of a classroom. With a mentor force in each grade level, teachers would be able to connect with some ideas from the variety of mentors in their field. Information would be passed not only from mentor to classroom teacher, but from classroom to classroom throughout the district with the mentors act as conduit for ideas and problem solving. The qualitity of classroom education would not only improve but be energized and inspired with this constant communication and support network. The mentorship would be a term-limit program with a maximum of 4 years ending in retirement and with a contract  renewed annually without tenure.

So, school districts of the world open your eyes and budget for success in the long term or get someof those education federal/ Gates grant dollars for new changes and improvements. Here is an plan for success with no wasted technology that will be old before it is understood and no new, untested curriculum with unreachable  promises. This is a way of using people we have to improve the program them have spent a life time learning. A new idea offered into the little idea run!

Love and more ideas to come from the garden,
Mama Llama

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

June Gloom? Not Really!

I KNOW it is tiresome - all this complaining about the weather but 49 degrees in the morning is getting really old! Still, that seeems the only thing to complain about so life can't be too bad. There has been lots of entertainment already in June.

We started the month with a bridal/wine shower for Barb. It was great fun for us and Barb gathered a great stash of great wine. I was able to bring loads of peonies from the peonie farm at the top of Tulin. I have always wanted to get huge boquets there so it was a dream come true and they were beautiful!
Kyrsa created a cocktail for the evening- the BAB'S. It is a blond martini with vodka, blackberry vodka, a splash of vanilla liqueur and a lime twist. The martinit got the party off to a agreat start with everyone in the mood to remember Barb's past and celebrate her into a great new future. There were pictures from age 3 to the present with all the hair styles to bring back time. Kodachrome may be gone but those pieces of paper remain- it begs the question about remembering this present into the future when images are erased or inaccessable with each new machine. We have a hard time learning from the past as it is- what will happen when the past becomes only that which matches each new technology. Sometimes it is a helpful perspective to make time stand still and reflect upon the moments we have survived- we then realize the worth of the little steps we make every day.

But time marches on, or so we maintain. I, on the other hand, marched directly into the past after the shower. Anita and I drove back to Spokane. I spent 3 days at the lake, doing some sewing projects in the rain, weeding and hacking in the sun and kayaking when the wind stopped blowing. As you can see, nothing much has changes at the lake and that is all good. The wasps were buzzing already and I was tempted to reach out the upstairs window with a pole to knock off hornets nests but fought the temptation! I only checked out the eves and sprayed foam into holes. I know you will all be relieved to hear that things are relativly unchanged in Rathdrum as well. We are especially happy to have the hardware store back so all the repair projects can be handled more quickly, thereby giving even less time to think about our actions before we run in and do something stupid. It is good to know the universie is working with us to continue on the

path to independent problem solving.

So, there it is, the first weeks of June with the hope that all summer is filled with the same level of celebration and reflection. I head to Seattle this morning for a day with my sisters. Lynne is free wheeling- so to speak- with no leg braces and no walking aides other than the little cane Linda gave her. We are all hoping her x-ray next week finds bone growth and avoids the bone graft surgery but at least this last month has provided her with a little more movement and activity. She is sure learning patience! Lynne and I are meeting Barb for lunch. As she is a married lady now, I expect she will be much more refined.

Wishes for a great day to everyone. Enjoy the fresh fruits and vegetables around you and pick flowers for the table where ever you can find them (maybe the maighbor is on  vacation?)

Mama Llama

Friday, June 11, 2010

Let me introduce to our new housemates...

... Dolly and Tammy Fae.

A friend of ours down here, Jenn from Bainbridge, is away for the summer and needed a home for her chickens. So yesterday a friend of hers and I put the coop on a truck and moved it into the back corner of our yard. then I spent the afternoon building a frame for chickenwire to keep the raccoons and other meaner and smarter animals out. Some wire from the hardware store a few blocks away, some scrap lumber and a few sore muscles, led to this beaut. I think I have Grandpa's thumbs - black and blue. Dolly and TF arrived when it was finished - at about 9:30. This morning they woke up confused - a new cage, where previously they roamed about a farm. But by this evening they will have forgotten it was ever any different. After all, they're already back into the routine. Upon coming home from work...

Don't get too jealous, Mama Llama. Fingers crossed that they'll make it through the summer. (and that we'll make it through the summer. the coop is directly outside our bedroom window, and chickens are notoriously early risers. )

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

You know what I think?

I warned you, now here is where it begins. I give away huge, money making ideas to anyone reading my words. You may have forgotten that several years before American Idol, I suggested the television networks bring back the talent contest as a way to lower their budgets and give new artists a format. Okay, so they created a reality nightmare for most of us but still there is a huge section of the viewing public happy with the idea.

Now I take it to the next level. With the onslaught of reality television, we have all lost the great talents of new and creative script writers coming out of universities and crafting words with images in a tradition to follow Orson Wells, Stephen King and Ron Howard?. Where are the opportunities for those great, quirky minds like Dave?

Reality TV meets the script writer! With the use of the easily available recording technology, contestants submit 3-minute shorts for the first round of the contest. As per the usual format (I guess because I don't watch), there are judges and audience voting to select a group into the next round- a 20 minute short story allowing 4 stories in a 2-hour program. A finalist round with one month of hour long programs searching for the seasons best new series is the result. There is it in a nutshell, the new reality show to foster wordsmiths and play-writes before they are lost to our language and our creative culture.

Feel free to pass this great idea into the universe where I feel sure it will find it's home. Now you all keep creating new universes or at least new realities out there.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

The Tall Trees

Though everyone said a month ago that the rain would stop until october, occasional spring showers are still baffling the locals and besieging the hot weather vegetables. The holiday weekend began with dire forecasts of snow in the foothills and rain everywhere else. Our friend Matt from DC was out for the weekend to go camping, so this a bummer. Especially since he wanted to head to Redwood Nat'l Park, which is practically on the oregon border and generally cold and wet, even at the best of times. But I caved and we headed up there. Along the way, a good omen...

After a LONG drive through windy roads west of Redding, we arrived in the dark and car camped at camp ground near 101. Got coffee and breakfast burritos in Arcata and drove up the park. After picking up a bear cannister and map at the ranger station we headed into the park, up and down horse trails then along a river trail, out to a beautiful gravel bar across from the Tall Trees Grove (see Nat'l Geo article for some details about the place). In the morning we climbered over trees and through some very swift water to get to the tall trees, but made it, cooked up coffee, then headed back down the river trail, eventually settling at another prime spot in the grass above the river. Made it back early sunday for horseshoes and horseplay in davis with susan. here's some of the excitement.

This week the farm is at last heating up and supposed to be into the 90's by next monday. the zucchinis are already trying to launch an attack on the farm. susan is powering through final projects and we're getting excited for more weekend trips before it's too hot to move. we'll bring the heat up with us in june - promise. and i hope that 'stew' makes it that long.