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:: building ::

April 28, 2012

:: building ::

Ava spent an afternoon creating a 10 point math circle to practice skip-counting with. She is enamoured with the different patterns she can create.

:: birds, bees and butterflies ::

April 27, 2012

It has been a busy B week here.  It seems that all things tend to require attention during the same few days!  It is exciting and intimidating at the same time to have so many ventures on the go – I am hoping that they all come to fruition the way I have envisioned!


Birds

A wonderful co-worker of mine has lent me an incubator for my Resource room.  Currently we have several chicken eggs and a single duck egg stored inside.  It will serve as a platform for several lessons with students in which we will focus on research, informational writing, creative writing and math skills.  I honestly do not know who is more excited about the prospect of having chicks in the classroom – me or the students! (And for those of you wondering, these little darlings will be going back to the farm once they are hatched ;))


Bees

Ava and I have been studying mason bees lately. I was able to order a bee house from Veseys (the one you see in my header).  The aim of the bee house is to attract the Masons to come in and assist in pollination of plants.   They are not an aggressive bee at all and enjoy cooler weather, which makes them great for Saskatchewan!  We haven’t decided on an exact spot to set our bee house yet, but as we will be ordering several apple trees for the yard this year, I think it will be in that vicinity.


Butteflies

Well, this one isn’t technically a ‘b’ yet.  We received our caterpillars from Butterflies Beautiful earlier this week and have been eagerly studying them in our spare  moments.  The Painted Lady butterfly life cycle has also been a topic of investigation for Ava and myself.  One of the aspects that I am loving about having Ava home in the afternoons is that I get to learn so much along with her – it really is a joint venture!

For many, learning is a spiral, where important themes are visited again and again, each time at a deeper, more penetrating level.–Jerold W. Aps

(from The Quotable Teacher, comp. by Howe)

:: processing ::

April 23, 2012

I spent my weekend in Calgary consumed by gorgeous mountains, blown over by wind, freckled by plus thirty weather and engrossed with Waldorf philosophy.  I attended the third annual Gateways Conference at Calgary Waldorf School with a near and dear friend of mine. The whole experience has left me awestruck. I have had many people ask me how my weekend was, and to be truthful, I cannot quite capture the essence of it in words. The weekend was great, invigorating, exciting and more….I am in fact speechless when it comes to all that I was able to  acquaint myself with.

As I try to gather my thoughts into coherent bunches to describe my weekend, I will leave you with a few teaser pictures from a Grade 3 classroom.

:: dirty work ::

April 13, 2012

My girls have been working hard.  Not Ava and Violet, no. My other girls.  My precious worm babies.  I have been vermicomposting off and on for several years with mixed results.  This year I have decided to change up my system a little bit and use smaller ice cream pails which I rotate through periodically.  In other years I have used larger containers rather than many small ones and so far, it seems as though the smaller buckets are winning out in terms of productivity.

I decided to give my worms a little ‘kick start’ before gardening season since the number of worms I had was not enough to keep up with the amount of scraps that my family produced during the day. We really could fill up an ice cream pail a day with peels, cores and stems of fruits and veggies. As much as my little worms love to eat, that just is too much food for the one pail of worms that I had.  Our school also keeps worms and I received permission to get some starters from them .  I took one ice cream pail of soil/worm/compost and set to work separating.  Since red wrigglers reproduce so prolifically, that bucket that I took will hardly be noticeable in a few days!  They really are incredible little creatures!

Every couple of weeks it is time to aerate and ‘clean’ the worm buckets.  To do this, I spread out some paper and begin to pick through the dirt and compost looking for my little wrigglers.  When I find a worm I place it into a container to put back into the compost bucket and keep the dirt (or worm poop, as Ava refers to it) in a different pile to spread into my plants and garden.   With a rough count of the number of worms I pulled from that one pail of dirt, I was able to add over 200 worms to my compost system today!

I had a little ‘helper’.  She was very good at getting dirty.  Not so good at picking out the worms!

:: knitty gritty ::

April 12, 2012

Sometimes things don’t go quite as planned.

Such was the case with this cardigan.  Initially, I had anticipated knitting a Rocky Coast cardigan (design by Hannah Fettig) but goofed on the cable pattern so ended up with a Rocky Coast variation.  Not quite what I had in mind, but liveable.  Next, I decided to lengthen the body and shorten the sleeves to make the fit a little more accurate for me.  The last real change came at the end when I had to cut short the final ribbing around the front and the collar because I ran out of yarn!  I purchased more than enough, but it turned out that even though I cut the sleeves short to make up for the extra length around the body, it just wasn’t enough. I lost about 4 rows around the collar which makes it a little narrower around the front than I would have liked.

Anyway, not one of my best pieces, but definitely learned a few lessons while knitting it! I consider it the ‘practice’  edition. Which is okay, since I already ordered some Madelinetosh Baltic to create another one for the winter….

:: rooting down ::

April 10, 2012
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The past few days I have spent reflecting and focusing on soil.  It started out as a functional foray into research of compost and soil composition, but shortly became much more.  Earlier this week I read the first edition of Taproot Magazine which focused on soil throughout its many well-written articles.  However, where I was looking for facts and figures about garden soil, I found metaphor and insight.

Particularly, an article from Jason Miller stood out to me: The Ground Beneath Our Feet. In this article, Miller discusses the layers of soil and the metaphor of our own existence within those layers.  He notes, “soil scientists refer to each layer as a horizon. Isn’t that perfect? Dig into the ground and what do you find? A horizon. Dig deeper. Another layer. Another horizon.  Isn’t it the same when we look into ourselves? Scratch back a layer of what you thought was yourself and what do you find? Another layer. Another horizon.”

How perfect is that analogy?  To broaden our horizons, so to speak, we need to look deeper into ourselves. Soil is not just the passive encasement for which a seed grows.  It nourishes. It respires. It is potential.   It is the past and the future.  What was once alive lends itself back into the cycle to create something new once again.  How amazing.

When you look past the dirt, the brown, the dry, the mud and actually experience what this soil is and what potential lies within it, it becomes obvious how the metaphor of horizons expands into self-discovery.  At this moment, I am the past and the future. Who I am is a compression of what I have experienced and what is yet to come.  I am not just a vessel for goals, dreams and experiences. I am the goals, dreams and experiences.  What an exciting prospect! A smile literally passes over my lips as I type.

Surprisingly, this whole thought process occurred as I was driving home with the kids after a visit to my parent’s. Daydreaming of gardens, compost, crops and bounty we cruised past the sign for our community: Goodsoil.  How apt.  For a place that just a year ago felt confining and not quite home, it has lately turned into a nice place to nestle. To put down my roots, so to speak, in good soil.

:: firsts ::

March 15, 2012

One thing that I love about knitting is the challenge and adventure of discovery. Hey now! I heard you scoffing! Yes, really, adventure! Every project, even when using the same pattern, is an exploit. Something so static, simple numbers and words on paper, have the potential to create numerous variations. Creations lay latent in the directions, waiting to be altered, explored and brought to fruition. Arduous and sometimes tedious as it may be, knitting certainly does have moments of suspense. Cliffhangers, of sorts. Soft undulations of colours transform suddenly into vibrant streaks, combinations of unremarkable stitches combine to create something absolutely breathtaking.

Breathtaking.

That’s how I feel about my most recent accomplishment, the Chromatic Sweater.  I saw this sweater pattern in the KnitPicks Fall/Winter catalogue 2011. Instantly I knew I needed to knit it.  There were several components that I had never undertaken before, but I felt that the overall product would be worth the minor frustrations and challenges I would encounter.

And I was right.

I think this is, without a doubt, the best piece of knitting I have turned out in my history as an aspiring knitter.  Not that it was without effort.  I do believe that I appreciate the finished product so much because it was such a labour of love.  The sweater is the first of which I have set out to knit for myself. Generally I knit for my kids, other people’s kids or other people. Little things here or there that I send off with good intentions and pleasant thoughts.  This sweater was for me. And I wallowed in the deliciousness of every stitch knowing, in the end, it was mine. Sounds selfish, doesn’t it?

In addition to setting out from the beginning knowing I would be keeping this item, I learned many new knitting techniques as well.  I cussed under my breath (and sometimes not under my breath) at the provisional cast on, made the sleeves first and prayedprayedprayed that they fit into the sweater body once it was complete! (I have only ever made sleeves in which you knit them from the top down or which you knit flat and sewed in)  And, lastly, stripes. Dear Lord, the stripes!  Even though it was the gradual change in gradation, the shifting colours and interplay of thick and thin that drew me to the sweater, I really began to dislike changing yarn and weaving in ends towards the second month!  I spent a good amount of time analyzing buttons and a short amount of time digging through my Grandma’s button bin (Honestly, who puts stick pins in with their buttons? I dug my hand in once and decided I wouldn’t be doing that again any time soon!).

And here is the real testament to my tenacity and perseverance: the yarn for my next project arrived a week ago and I haven’t even wound it into balls! 

Yesirree, this glorious, delicious, squishy, greeny-grey goodness has been languishing in my closet, willing me to finish my sweater faster(!) to be put to good use as a Rocky Coast cardigan.  Stay tuned….

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