27 Items on the 27th

Today I begin the final year of my fifth decade. I thought I would reflect on 27 things that I love since it is the 27th day of the month and you would be completely bored if I tried to create a list to match my age. The first six on the list are rank ordered by importance but the rest are randomly listed. What do I love, let me tell you:

1. Mike, my husband, who has put up with me for thirty-six years.

2. David, my heart that walks the earth outside of my body.

3. Allie, my daughter-in-law, she loves my son and that is enough.

4. Maddy, my granddaughter, she puts a smile in my heart and on my face.

5. Other family members, those near and far.

6. Friends, they are family without the blood connection.

7. Traveling, where shall I go next?

8. Time, does one ever have enough? I love it when I find I have time to do whatever I want. That is a luxury I do not take for granted.

9. “Where do you want to eat tonight?” Those words are music to my ears, I don’t have to fix dinner.

10. Picture books, I am addicted to reading them and figuring out who needs to read this book.

11. Library book sale helps to feed my addiction at a low cost.

12. Patio in the backyard, the best place to sit back, relax, and read.

13. Peach tree in my yard, oh, the bounty is juicy-ful, but the season is too short.

14. Browsing the picture books of Barnes and Noble (we don’t have an independent book store in town, :-(), this fuels the addiction.

15. Key lime pie concrete, this is only available for about a month in the summer at our local frozen custard stand. Oh the tartness combined with sweetness is deee-liiish-ous!

16. A package containing a book in the mailbox. Need I say more? I didn’t think so.

17. Playing Draw Something and having a conversation through the chat option with friends I don’t ever see and some I have never met.

18. Ocean cruise, river cruise, any kind of a cruise.

19. Shoe shopping and finding shoes, I love a new pair of shoes.

20. Meeting friends for coffee with time to sit, visit, and sip.

21. Good health, at least I think so. Friday I have a physical, so we will see what the doc says.

22. Comfortable weather to ride my bike. This means low 70’s, sun, no wind.

23. Blue cheese, love, love, love that tangy taste mixed into food.

24. Coconut crunch, a coconutty, vanilla pudding, whipped cream dessert that I always requested on my birthday.

25. Starting the writing journey by blogging.

26. You, if you are reading this, I want you to know how much I appreciate your comments.

27. I did not have to make my birthday cake today. 🙂  I ordered an Elvis cake. It is banana cake filled with a peanut butter ganache and peanut butter frosting.

elvis

There you have my list of things I currently love. I know I wouldn’t want to live without one single item. I hope you might have found yourself as a part of one of my things.

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It’s Pickin’ Time!

It’s time! It’s time! My peaches are ripe and ready to be harvested.

I did not get one peach from my tree last year because I was away on a trip. My neighbors helped me out by gathering and enjoying every golden morsel. This year I planned my trip before they would be ripe. Fortunately all plants were late this year, so I was home in plenty of time.

After returning home from my vacation, I continued to check the fruit on my tree. There were lots of peaches, but they were small. I  removed some hoping that would give the remaining peaches extra nutrients. Day after day, I would tenderly caress the fuzzy ball hoping to feel a softer flesh, but they remained rock hard.

Then we were hit with rain and more rain. I longed for sunshine to change my peaches from pale yellow to a rosy golden orange. Between showers, I checked on the peaches, but still they were not ready. Would they ever be ready? Last year they were gone by the last week of July. We are now in August and I still  have not had one peach from my tree.

All that changed when the rain stopped and the sun returned. I went out to inspect my crop and discovered they were falling on the ground.

The fruit flies were feasting on these peaches.

The fruit flies were feasting on these peaches.

Quickly I began checking, yes, they were softer! They began to fall into my hands as I touched them. I ran into the house to get a bowl to collect them. Bowl after bowl was filled and emptied onto the counter. . My husband brought the ladder around so I could gather more. Higher and higher I went plucking peaches. Each peach stretched my smile a bit wider.

peachesI surveyed the counter and wondered what I was going to do with all these peaches. I have no desire to create jam or preserve them. So I began bagging them up and traveled to the neighbors delivering juicy sunshine.

They finally grew! Of course they weren't all this size.

They finally grew! Of course they weren’t all this size.

I eat peaches for breakfast, lunch, and dinner every day and I savor every bit of that sweet juicy fruit. There are still more on the tree, so I will be in peach heaven for a bit longer.

PS: As I was preparing this post my neighbor brought me some warm peach cobbler she made with my peaches. Can it get any better than this? Yum!

When It Rains . . .

Lately we’ve been experiencing a monsoon. Every morning we wake up to rain falling. Sometimes it is a driving rain that makes you glad you don’t have to go anywhere. Sometimes it is a gentle shower. Usually it stops for a period of the day, but by evening the rain returns.

Now I am not complaining about the rain. We were in a drought last summer, so this is a blessed change. The plants appreciate all the moisture. However, it is difficult to mow. The yard is so saturated that every step squishes as you walk. As I walk through the yard, I find it is as slippery as ice.

When rain is predicted, my husband moves the patio furniture closer to the house and piles the cushions to protect them from being saturated. The furniture and cushions have been piled up for most of the week. So when the weatherman said we would be having a break from the perpetual precipitation, my husband decided to move the cushions back to their rightful place.

I was sitting at the kitchen table when I heard a yelp from outside. I jumped up from the table expecting to see my husband on the ground or some other catastrophe. I rushed out the door to discover a wild look in his eyes as he was backing away and pointing to the cushions in the corner. My head whipped around to see what caused all this commotion.

Black snakes are good to have around as they eat mice.

Black snakes are good to have around as they eat mice.

Apparently our friend had decided it was too wet on the ground, so he sought refuge in a high and dry place. There had been cushions and pillow piled onto this webbed frame. The snake had worked its way up at least five feet to find this cozy resting place to wait out the wet.

Although I don’t care for snakes, I knew this one was a good one to have around. I just didn’t want him that close. My husband got a trashcan and a broom so we could capture the critter and set it free on the other side of our fence. However, it was not buying into our plan. It wrapped its tail around the webbing and refused to allow us to put it into the trashcan. As we struggled to convince it this was the best plan, it dropped to the ground and slithered under the bush. With a flick of its tail, it disappeared from sight.

My husband and I just looked at each other. What could we do? Neither of us wanted to wrangle with a snake. I just hope it returns to its hole and does not return to the patio. The lesson learned is that if the cushions need to be stacked up for more than a day, they will be in the garage. Hopefully that will deter any future visitors.

2013 Ten for Ten

It’s that time of year again! Mandy Robek at Enjoy and Embrace Learning and Cathy Mere at Reflect and Refine: Building a Learning Community are hosting the fourth 10 for 10 event. Picture book enthusiasts scour their shelves with one thought on their mind. If I could only have ten picture books for the entire year, what would I choose? Personally I think this borders on cruel and unusual punishment. I know I don’t have to whine too much because I know that if you are reading this, you have probably gone through the same pain selecting your favorites.

This is a wonderful opportunity to share favorites you have in your class but also learn titles new to you. So let the book party begin! I still love the books I listed last year, so here are ten more titles. Maybe if I do this long enough all the books I love will have a moment in the spotlight. My ten picks for 2013 are (in alphabetical order by author):

1Dear Peter Rabbit by Alma Flor Ada: The story unfolds through letters between fairy tale characters. Students will make inferences naturally as the characters come to life through the letters. Did you know Goldilocks last name is McGregor? Perhaps you were unaware that the wolf in Red Riding Hood and the wolf from the three pigs are cousins. These are a few of the connections you learn throughout the book. This continues in Yours Truly, Goldilocks, With Love, Little Red Hen, and Extra! Extra! Fairy-Tale News. Also, the letters are great models for letter writing.

My Mom by Anthony Browne: It starts out saying, “She’s nice, my mom.” But then the word choice is amped up as the narrator gives specific reasons why mom is nice. “My mom’s as beautiful as a butterfly, and as comfy as an armchair.” I can see returning to this text multiple times. my mom

ralph storyRalph Tells a Story by  Abby Hanlon: Thank you Abby for writing this story! There are lots of Ralph’s lurking in classrooms who think they have nothing to write about. This book can show them they have many stories in their lives.

couple boys A Couple of Boys Have the Best Week Ever by Marla Frazee: This book is just too funny! The words don’t always match up with what the picture shows.

silver seedsSilver Seeds by Paul Paolilli and Dan Brewer: It is a book of nature poems, but they are all acrostics. I like to show students several poems and see if they can discover the poetry style. Here’s an example:

Huge elephants

In a row,

                                            Lying

                                            Low and

                                             Sleeping.

Postcards from Camp by Simms Taback: Another book told through written communication.postcards Mike does not want to go away to camp, but he is at camp writing his father to come and rescue him from this horrible experience. This is a great text for persuasion and demonstrating how a character changes over time.

meowIt’s All About Me-ow by Hudson Talbott: I spotted this book at the book fair last year. As soon as I opened the book and thumbed through a few pages, I knew this book would go home with me. It is jam packed with all sorts of text features, such as a timeline, diagrams, labels, close-ups, and more. It is a how-to manual for kittens to train their humans told through the voice of a wise cat. If you’ve ever had cats, you will recognize the training you went through.

City Dog, Country Frog by Mo Willems: This book is such a departure from his usual style.dog-frog I have shared this with teachers from kindergarten to eighth grade and the response is always the same. “Where can I get this book?” It seems like a simple book, but there is complexity within the words and illustrations. One of my most favorite books of all times.

nothing to doNothing to Do by Douglas Wood: What would you do if there was absolutely nothing on your calendar? This book explores many options but also incorporates shapes from nature in the illustrations. There are artist’s and author’s notes which enhance the understanding of what you see in this book. I particularly loved the P.S. of Douglas Wood: “There is a reason, after all, that we’re called human beings and not human doings.” You might want to check out two other books by Douglas Wood: A Quiet Place and No One But You. (Who knows they may appear on next year’s list.)

Chester by Melanie Watt Chester: The struggle between Chester and Melanie will keep you laughing throughout the book. I have used this to talk about voice and develop characters through their actions.chester 2

Now I am off to read and make my own list of books from everyone else’s 10 for 10. Thanks Mandy and Cathy for hosting this (costly) event every August.

10 for 10

Sights from the North Sea

The world is so amazing! I love every minute of exploring it. Today I will take you on a mini-photo journey visiting intriguing lands I never dreamed I would see. A cruise ship is my favorite home away from home.

The photo from last week was taken on the Faroe Islands. They are self governing, but considered part of Denmark. Torshavn is the port. We drove north, crossed the Atlantic on a bridge to reach another island. We stopped in the small village of Gjagv (I have no idea how to pronounce this name). The guide informed us only about 60 people live in this village and there are no children there. We did see children, but they were there on vacation or visiting relatives. The pure innocence of their play was a joy to watch.

This could easily be a jigsaw puzzle picture. It was such a beautiful place.

This could easily be a jigsaw puzzle picture. It was such a beautiful place.

Reykjavik, Iceland was our next stop. We joined seven others on the Golden Circle tour by bike. The guide would drop us off so we could pedal to the sight. This tour would last eight hours. No need to worry about getting dark on us, as the sun doesn’t set until around 10:30. The first sight of this trip was the Gullfoss (Golden) Waterfall. The power of the water was incredible to witness!

Can you see the people on the flat rocks? This was huge!

Can you see the people on the flat rocks? This was huge!

Next stop was the Geysir geothermal area. This is actually were the term geyser originated.

The final sight of the Golden Circle tour was Thingvellir Parliament plains which is in a rift valley where the tectonic plates of North America and Eurasia are separating. This area is of great historical relevance to the country of Iceland. It was a fascinating journey.

This looks back up the downhill road we traveled to reach Thingvellir National Park.

This looks back up the downhill road we traveled to reach Thingvellir National Park.

This is the place the first parliament of Iceland met 1,000 years ago. The rock wall is part of the continental rift.

This is the place the first parliament of Iceland met 1,000 years ago. The rock wall is part of the continental rift.

Our next stop was in northern Iceland, Akureyri, which is just below the Arctic Circle. Namafjall Mountain was our first stop. We drove over and around mountains full of snow to reach this desolate landscape. There were hissing fumaroles of steam and boiling mud pots gurgling a sulphuric odor. This land reminded me of Yellowstone.

Snow was deep on the mountains in the distance.

Snow was deep on the mountains in the distance.

A drastic change in the landscape as we entered a geothermal region.

A drastic change in the landscape as we entered a geothermal region.

We hiked around Dimmuborgir, a lava landscape with interesting formations of columns and arches.

The guide said this was part of the tectonic plates division.

The guide said this was part of the tectonic plates division.

Then it was on to Lake Myvtan and the pseudo-craters. The name means lake of the midges. Midges are like gnats. Fortunately we were not plagued with them at this lake, but we did see columns of them swarming in another area. Fortunately we were safely in the bus.

Lake Myvatn and the pseudo craters

Lake Myvatn and the pseudo craters

The final stop for this tour was Godafoss (Waterfall of the Gods). Another powerful waterfall cascading over the rocks and amazing all the tourists.

Legend has the chieftain threw his pagan god columns into this waterfall .

Legend has the chieftain threw his pagan god columns into this waterfall .

Our most northern location was actually the warmest day of the whole trip. It was eighty degrees. I did not bring clothes for that temperature. I was prepared for mid fifties. It was amusing to see sunset: 11:45 pm and sunrise 3:00 am. I don’t know if I could get used to that.

Now we leave Iceland and head for the fjords of Norway. Geiranger is our first stop. We were the first ship to use their new floating dock. This dock unfolded and came out to meet our ship. What a mechanical marvel that was! The other four ships had to tender their passengers into the port. It was a lot of fun walking past the long lines of passengers waiting for their ride back to their ship.

This waterfall is called The Seven Sisters. The captain spun the boat around so we had a 360 degree view of this waterfall.

This waterfall is called The Seven Sisters. The captain spun the boat around so we had a 360 degree view of this waterfall.

My husband and I went in different directions this day. I went up and over the mountain to visit a summer mountain farm. They walk the animals (goat, cattle, and sheep) up the mountain to pasture for the summer. It is illegal to keep your livestock down the mountain in the summer. It was incredibly beautiful.

The summer farm in the mountains, that is grass growing on the roofs of the houses.

The summer farm in the mountains, that is grass growing on the roofs of the houses.

Here is my view above the port. Our boat is the one farthest in the bay. Notice the road on the left we traveled down.

Here is my view above the port. Our boat is the one farthest in the bay. Notice the road on the left we traveled down.

My husband went to the other side of the mountain. They were driven to the top and given bikes to ride down the mountain. No pedaling was required on that trip. Fortunately it was a bright sunny day. We were both happy with our tours and we were able to get pictures from two different perspectives.

Here is the view from my husband's side of the bay. This time our boat is the closest one to the front. If you look closely you can see the road I came down.

Here is the view from my husband’s side of the bay. This time our boat is the closest one to the front. If you look closely you can see the road I came down.

Our last stop was Bergen, Norway. We made our way into town and found the funicular that takes you up Mt. Floibanen, 1,000 feet above the town. We wandered/hiked for a bit, but once again it turned into another warm day. The woods were full of ferns and pine trees. It was amazing to see a huge pine tree growing out of a rock.

This was attached to a tree in the woods. Do you suppose they have a problem?

This was attached to a tree in the woods. Do you suppose they have a problem?

The world is amazing and I am so thankful I can get out and explore some of these unique places.