Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Berries and Mushrooms

We have a very large, volunteer pokeberry plant growing in our lantana and butterfly bush. I let it grow because I was amazed at how fast it grew, and it provided a contrast to the small leaves of the lantana and butterfly bush. The plant, especially the berries, are very poisonous to humans. Birds, however, are immune to the toxins, and they will enjoy eating the fruit. I remember mashing up berries as a child to make purple/red paint in the backyard, and I'm still around to tell about it! I plan to do some research about how to make a dye from the berries when they turn dark purple. I found this and this as a start.

The mushrooms were also in the grass yesterday when I was walking the yard-- probably from the little showers we had on Saturday.

I may have just put two poisonous plants together in one blog post. How's that for living dangerously on an early Tuesday morning?

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Monday, June 29, 2009

Seeds and Roots

About a week ago, my daughter put a marigold flower in a water bottle in the kitchen window. When I was about to discard it because the flower had dried up, I saw that the stem had rooted. The children loved this, so they picked two new flowers and put them in a water bottle and jelly jar in the same sunny window spot to grow more roots. This time, we'll check it every day. I planted the marigold with its roots in the herb garden, and collected the seeds from it's dried up flower. The other seed pod in the first photo is a milkweed pod.

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Sunday, June 28, 2009

Blog Announcement

Sister Vases

a joint venture between my sister, Beth, and me

She is still on her way home from Mississippi to Arkansas. We talked about it, but she hasn't seen it yet. I'm looking forward to little bits of nature and learning more plant names.

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Follow the Log Cabin Road

My sister left to return to her home in Arkansas this morning with her daughter. We had a great time visiting and letting "the cousins" play together. Last Thanksgiving, we started a new tradition of making things together during our visits now that the children are older. Back in November, we made bird ornaments, block prints, and p.j.'s for my son's dolls to get ready for Christmas. We did some of the crafting with the children, but the best crafting was what we did with each other.

This visit, we pieced log cabin squares for pillows (or wall-hangings) in our respective houses. She even brought her sewing machine with her with the expectation that we would be at the dining room table. I made the two in the middle photo (she made 3-- maybe because she was only interrupted by one child as opposed to my two!).

We used this tutorial, but I'm not sure that either one of us got "wonky" enough. Our strips were cut slightly wider than the tutorial at 3 and 1/2 inches. Next block, I'm going to "let go" a little more.

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Saturday, June 27, 2009


I was interviewed recently and asked, "Why did you become a teacher?" At the time, I rattled off a fairly standard answer. . . something like: "I have always loved learning, and I love sharing this love with children. I love seeing the light in a child's eyes when she has a relevant, important question or when she solves a problem. "

This is all true.

Upon reflection and after reviewing the photos from yesterday's visit to the Mississippi Museum of Natural Science, I've had a few more thoughts. I love being a teacher because I am constantly amazed at the world around us-- at people, trees, animals, history, poetry, culture, you name it-- The World Around Us in capital, italicized letters. When I became a teacher, I didn't know that I was going to love it so much. It was a practical decision. I had a library degree and needed a part-time job because of my children. I knew that I would teach in some capacity as a librarian, but I did not not know that it would be like this.

There is so much to see, share, and do every day, all the time, just out the back door or through the words, photos, and illustrations of a book (or blog!). There is so much joy. I am a teacher because of the joy.

In all of the photos above, we spent time looking in the museum's amazing space that lets us get up close to the fish, snakes, turtles, alligators, and jellyfish (new!). I spent an equal amount of time watching my children watch the creatures in the tanks (and trying to keep up with them). Being a teacher is often about "just keeping up"-- either with the busyness of teaching or with the passionate questions and pace of children who lead us down diverse paths of inquiry in the course of one day.

For example:
  • "Mrs. Owen, do you have any books on presidents (or bees, or soccer, or _______)?"
  • "Ms. Library Lady, I'm interested in mystery books. Do you have any good mystery (or fantasy, or historical fiction, or fairy tale, or _____) books?"
  • "Mama, what kind of lizard is that outside on the lantana bushes? Why are the lizards that congregate at our front entrance during the night pale pink? Are they the same lizards?"
  • "Mama, what book should I read tonight? I finished the last one, and I want another one like it."
The answers that are discovered and recorded from questions of free inquiry are those that often happen in a library or rest in a library between the pages of a book or on a website. To me, this is an awesome, again joyful, thought. This is my job-- I'm a facilitator and guide through free inquiry and freedom in education! Ultimately, a library is and should be a place of joyful freedom. When so much in education is driven by curriculum, pacing guides, benchmarks, and standards, libraries should be places where children (and adults) have the freedom to choose what they want to read and what questions need answering.

In the last photo, I was sitting in the area of the museum where the alligators are on display. I noticed my reflection on the tank and took a photo, in a moment of self-reflection, that is perfectly appropriate for this morning.

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Thursday, June 25, 2009

Egg Vase

I bought two of these bud vases from Bridgman Pottery in Memphis through Etsy. I love them. One is for me and one is for my sister who is visiting from Arkansas. When I was in the 10th grade, I worked really hard on a short story about a baby robin that had dropped from its nest in my yard. This vase reminds me of that story. My daughter sketched the drawing in the background after my children and my niece cut some flowers for the vases.

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Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Random Act of Reading

I have so many things I could blog about today. We had a wonderful time at the Casey garden this morning. My sister is here (and she brought her sewing machine all the way from Arkansas). When I was about to discard the marigold that my daughter put in an empty water bottle, we found roots all over it, and the milkweed seeds at Casey were erupting out of their pods.

But I loved the moments photographed above. My son was waiting for the garden activities at Casey to begin. He brought Diary of a Wimpy Kid with him to read. It is probably a little difficult for him, but he sat quietly for a good chunk of time working on it. His older sister had started reading it to him this morning before I was even ready to say "good morning."

Random acts of reading are random acts of kindness to our souls and our minds. Seeing a child engaged with a book makes my day.

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Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Patchwork Possibilities

My children and I made these bread quilts (blogged earlier here), and we just finished up machine top-stitching them yesterday and this morning.

I chose the fabric and arrangement for these two. On the right one, I followed the squares for top-stitching. On the left, I top-stitched horizontally across the squares.
My daughter made this for someone special we will see later in the summer. She did not use a border but turned hers inside out and top-stitched around the edge.

My son made this one for his bear, Sammy. He insisted on a zig-zag top stitch. He loves zigzag stitch.

I'm dreaming up a plan to make log-cabin pillows for every room as a way to bring together the eclectic furniture and colors we have throughout the house. I also want to de-formalize the living room. Patch working different fabrics and colors will give me many possibilities!

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Sunday, June 21, 2009

Summer Solstice

I made a bandanna tablecloth for Father's Day, solstice, and to take us through the 4th of July. The children's gifts were on the table wrapped in Star Wars paper with fresh flowers. Appropriate. I sewed together 9 bandannas. "Easy peasy lemon squeezy," as my daughter would say. I didn't fuss about imperfections (the bandannas were slightly different sizes).

I planted 4 more sunflower seedlings to go along with one already planted.

Purple. . . in review. . .
Now, I'm going to work on that purple blanket and sit down.

Two posts in one day? Yes, well, it is a long day.

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Purple : 7

From the farmer's market in downtown Jackson, some of these veggies became part of our Father's Day Eve dinner last night. The purple speckled beans were delicious sauteed in butter. The fresh yellow squash melted in our mouths to pair up with grilled salmon. Dessert was lemon buttermilk ice cream with homemade blueberry jam on top. All lovely. The okra, eggplant, peaches, and cantaloupe are waiting for another day. The wilting purple flowers from the garden need to be replaced, but that is o.k. because they are plentiful on this summer solstice day.

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Saturday, June 20, 2009

Market Tomatoes

Do you see the tomatoes on the windowsill in the back?

a little closer. . .

even closer. . .

closer still. . . Hey! That's not a tomato!

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Purple : 6

This photo was taken at dusk. I had been taking photos of the purple ruffle basil from above, but the leaves always ended up blending in with the dirt. So, I got on the ground and aimed the camera up. Even though it isn't the best shot in the world, I do like how the perspective is off, and the basil looks like it could be a tree (with a little imagination) next to the chimney of the house.

This photo of the basil was taken at dawn, from the ground, too. Isn't it interesting how the colors change so much with the light? This basil looks like it could be at home in a coral reef with brightly colored fish swimming in and around its leaves.

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Friday, June 19, 2009

Purple : 5 and 4.2.0

purple-ish Japanese maple leaves soaking up sprinkles of water during a dry, heat wave

the flowers from yesterday-- inside the garden window

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Thursday, June 18, 2009

Purple : 4

from the kitchen window. . . a butterfly bush

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