A Tale of a Tree

Without warning, a wicked, fierce wind blew in from the north. It sent the neighbors scurrying into their homes as the trees’ limbs whipped back and forth like a stallion’s mane.

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Not content to observe from the window, my husband and I stepped onto the patio, mesmerized by the movement of the two maple trees being abused by the wind. Fear of breaking branches gripped our hearts. Last summer we lost the maple in our front yard due to wind damage. A loud crack echoed across the backyard. Was this sound from our tree? We scanned the treetops looking for a fallen limb. None could be seen in the night sky. But was that gap always there? With dread, we returned to the house to wait for the morning light to reveal the damage.

Daylight brought bad news, a limb had broken. Immediately a call was sent out to the tree service. A few days later, we were welcoming the crew into our yard to do whatever was necessary to save our trees.

Way up high, the wind broke a branch. The crew studies the situation.

Way up high, the wind broke a branch. The crew studies the situation.

Tools on the ground. Webs ready to greet the trimmer as he begins the climb.

Tools on the ground.
Webs ready to greet the trimmer as he begins the climb.

Tethered to the tree, he climbs up, up, up eventually the leaves hide him.

Tethered to the tree, he climbs up, up, up eventually the leaves hide him.

Meanwhile back on the ground the falling limbs are gathered and shredded. The chainsaw creates a shower of sawdust.

Meanwhile back on the ground the falling limbs are gathered and shredded. The chainsaw creates a shower of sawdust.

Finally, all limbs have been pruned. The yard has been cleared of all tree debris. Here is the before and after picture of the tree with the broken branch.

Finally, all limbs have been pruned. The yard has been cleared of all tree debris. Here is the before and after picture of the tree with the broken branch.

The backyard has more mottled shade than before, but hopefully the next wild wind that blows in our direction will slip between the branches and leave the limbs intact.

Thoughts on ILA

My brain simmered with new learning. My body exhausted from the pace of the previous four days. I needed down time, therefore, no slice last week. Now that time as passed, I’ve gathered some thoughts to share a few experiences from the ILA conference.

The pre-conference I attended was all about vocabulary. A day spent thinking about words and how do we get students to acquire these words. Should students look words up in a dictionary, write a definition, and a sentence? A resounding NO! from all speakers. Context is key to developing an understanding of new words.

Sara Holbrook and Michael Salinger shared a format for writing a vocabulary word poem. I have attempted to define the ILA experience using their format. See if you can determine the structure.

An ILA conference gives you the opportunity to expand your learning.

The pace of your day will not be relaxed.

You get up close and personal with authors you adore.

Meals during the day are nonexistent. Pack a snack!

As your brain grows stronger, your muscles do too. Totes become loaded with books, strong shoulders and arm required. Miles are walked between sessions and throughout the exhibit area.

Book budgets explode. The plethora of books at your fingertips make it difficult to resist.

Should you ever have the opportunity to attend, grab it. You won’t regret it. 

Did you discover that the lines alternated from what it is to what it is not, with a concluding line? When students are able to give an example of what it is not, they process the word at a deeper level.

Here’s a glimpse of the books that came home with me. Some are signed by the author :-) and many will find their way into classroom libraries this year.

Nonfiction titles

Nonfiction titles

Chapter books, many are ARCs

Chapter books, many are ARCs

Fiction titles I was not sure where to put President Taft Is Stuck in the Bath. It may have happened, but the events are pretty far fetched, so I placed it in my fiction stack.

Fiction titles
I was not sure where to put President Taft Is Stuck in the Bath. It may have happened, but the events are pretty far fetched, so I placed it in my fiction stack.

Sigh, what can I say? I love books!

Little Free Libraries

Have you heard of the Passport to Healthy Living? I first read about this in the AARP magazine, then the library announced they were a sponsor too. It intrigued me, it sounded like fun, plus there were prizes too! I stopped by the library and picked up a couple of the passports.

The descriptor inside said, “The Springfield community has a wealth of free resources that can be your passport to healthy living. Using this passport as your guide, you can learn what’s available in the community.”

There are 26 questions/activities and I must complete 13 to be eligible for prizes. The one activity that intrigued me the most was to visit any Little Free Library in town. It gave a website where five libraries were listed. Here was a perfect activity for Kim and me one afternoon.

In the morning we walked the Nature Center (last week’s slice), and after lunch we set out to find all the Little Free Libraries to deliver books. Using the navigation system on Kim’s phone, we were able to find every one. A picture book was left at each library and we both found a book to read we wanted to read.

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Besides finding the Little Free Libraries we completed four more activities in the Passport to Healthy Living book. Only eight more questions to answer before I turn in my book on August 8.

If you want to know about little free libraries, click here. There are instructions for building your own and a map where you can locate any that might be near you.

Nature Walk

Minutes away from my home is a conservation center with several paths. Here is the chance to be up close and personal with nature. Since Kim (Learning Tour Writing Stop, see sidebar for link) was visiting, we decided to wander around in the woods (of course we stayed on the path). So enjoy the view from my camera of the bits of nature we encountered.

As we approached the water, my husband pointed to a shape in the distance. A Great Blue Heron stood stock still. I zoomed the lens to grab a shot. Before I could refocus, we watched as it scooped up a fish and swallowed. Darn, I missed that! However it stretched out its wings and I was able to get that shot (unfortunately I didn’t get the head). We walked on and found another Great Blue Heron, but this one was settled into its stance. Its head was tucked under and shoulders up.

Two different Great Blue Herons

Two different Great Blue Herons

Glinting iridescent blue flutterings winked at us as we continued. At first I thought it was a butterfly because of the way it held its wings. But then we saw the body resembled a dragonfly’s. Kim thought perhaps it was a damselfly. (Later we asked at the conservation center and the expert their confirmed her thought.) At one point Kim had one land on her sleeve and it accepted the free ride for a short time. Once again, I was not ready with the camera.

Winged jewels that followed us through their land.

Winged jewels that followed us through their land.

Throughout the entire walk there were vines everywhere. Most of them were of the woody variety (as opposed to the leafy variety). As I looked at the vines, I could imagine they were the origins of roller coasters. The conservation agent told me they were grape vines.

These pictures follow the vine as it disappears into the foliage of the tree.

These pictures follow the vine as it disappears into the foliage of the tree.

Unfortunately we did not see any deer, fortunately we did not see any snakes or bring any ticks home. Here are snippets of other sightings

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Setting off into the unknown to discover reflections, a shy cardinal, interesting fungi, and a bee collecting his pollen for the day.

Nature never disappoints, there is always something there to marvel.

 

Dinner Delight

As I walked into the room, first I noticed the Seymour Simon books stretching out on the table. Each cover so bright and enticing saying “Buy me!” Next I noticed my friends had selected a table for our dinner.

I left the books (only for a moment) to lay claim to a seat at the table with my friends. There were too many of us for one table so now we had two tables. I set my camera down and returned to browsing the books. Book selection completed, I returned to my table.

A lovely blonde woman was chatting with my table mates. She was a new face for me, but the others were deep into conversation. Must be someone from their school district I inferred. I looked over and mouthed to Deb, “Who is Mary Helen talking to?” Her response put a smile on my face and a light in my eye. I sat up a little straighter and paid more attention to the conversation. Truth be told, I was a bit star struck.

She discovered we all had blogs and wrote regularly. She said she had a blog, but didn’t really write on it, yet. She wasn’t quite sure what she’d do with it. She wanted all of our blog addresses. (Picture me going Oh my gosh!)

After the dinner and speaker, we were milling about. Our new friend exclaimed, “How lucky was I to get to sit at the best table in the room!” We were all thinking, how lucky were we that you chose to sit at our table!

I suppose you are wondering who this mystery woman was. The next day I attended several sessions she presented and had my picture taken with her.

Georgia Heard and me at the All-Write conference.

Georgia Heard and me at the All-Write conference.

Whoops!

Dinner is simmering on the stove. My husband is relaxing in the recliner while watching the news when unexpectedly . . . the power goes off. Dimness settles over the room momentarily then . . . the power flickers. On . . . off, oooonnnn . . . off. On, off, off, off. On, is it over? Will the power stay? The sky outside was bright blue, we had no clue as to the cause of the flickering power. We look at each other, shrug, and continue our previous activities.

I move to the refrigerator to begin salad preparation, where I discover the display panel flashing a message in red. E – 33 blinks at me. Apparently this is a result of the previous power outage/surge. I have no clue what message that is a code is trying to tell me. Quickly I scan the options of the control panel but do not see a reset button.

My husband begins searching the internet for a manual or a suggestion on how to reset the display panel. I continue with dinner preparations, noting that dinner will take longer since our cooktop is electric.

Husband is not finding anything related to E – 33 online. Quickly I prepare the garlic toast and stick it under the broiler to toast. I grab my iPad to see if I can have any luck online.

Sniff, sniff . . . oh no! I’ve forgotten the bread under the broiler! They are now unrecognizable, charred slices of bread. I snatch up the oven pad to grab the tray and immediately drop them into the disposal. The smoke detector begins its annoying beeping. Disposal is grinding. Beeping stops, then starts, stops, starts. My husband is waving a towel to dissipate the air. Charred bread odor fills the room.

Meanwhile, dinner has finished cooking and I have remade bread. The E – 33 still glares at us as we sit down to eat. I try to avoid looking in that direction during dinner.

After dinner, we resume the search for help with the refrigerator. I try calling the 800 number but the phone shrieks and informs me that number no longer works. I dial it over and over with the same results. How can this be? A major appliance company does not discontinue a toll free number.

My husband calls from his cell. Now the number works. After a bit, we finally learn the key to resetting the display on the refrigerator. This information is written on the front of the appliance manual for future reference.

Now we must figure out what is going on with our phone. I dial my mother’s number. Same disconnected shriek as before. I use my cell phone to call her and it goes right through. I have her to call me to see if we can get calls in. She calls, I answer. It’s working. I call her back, it’s not working. Sigh! It seems that we will need to replace this phone.

The next day, the phone is working just fine. Glad we didn’t replace it, yet.

Hope we don’t have anymore of those power on/off issues!