Weekly Photo Challenge: My 2012 in Pictures

January – Thirty years ago student teachers HAD to be a member of a professional organization as part of their graduation requirements.  Although it is no longer mandatory, social studies teachers who join California Council for the Social Studies become the leaders in their field as they meet colleagues from across the state, and make friendships that last a lifetime.  In January the CCSS Executive Board asked to serve as the First Vice-President, replacing a member who had moved to Colorado. In May CCSS members voted me in as President-Elect, and in June, 2013 I will serve as the President of this organization.

Marsha Lee - Soon to be VP
Picture taken at the 2011 50th CCSS Anniversary Conference exemplifies the serious nature of the soon to be new VP.

February – In 2011 I become officially involved with the Tulare County Historical Society (TCHS) as their recording secretary.  This year TCHS decided to adopt a broken-down caboose, remains of the old Visalia Electric Railroad, as its project of the year.  To kick it off the Society held an event at the museum so that people could take a look at the caboose, and see how much work it needed.  It had definitely seen better days, but its good bones, charm and appeal made it the best project ever.

Year of the Caboose

March  – At the 2012 California Council for the Social Studies Conference I enjoyed some amenities as the new First Vice President.  Although I shared the room with the Conference Chair, it WAS a HUGE suite.  With size came responsibility.  Several parties important meetings took place in this room.

Party with me, First VP, Marsha Lee
Party with me, First VP, Marsha Lee

April – I started blogging April 17th just as this busy month got into full swing.  Our San Joaquin Valley Council for the Social Studies Banquet honored our County Superintendent, Mr. Vidak, my boss.  Most teachers, and in our case social studies teachers, seldom receive recognition for the hard work they do, so this banquet is the highlight of our year.  Instead of being serious and boring, this year everyone played the part of stand-up comedian.


May – National History Day California or State History Day.  Set in historic Riverside, CA at the Mission Inn and Convention Center, this was a photographer’s dream.  Now that I was officially a blogger, I appointed myself the official photographer of this huge event with nearly 1,000 students aged 4th-12th grades attending.  Unfortunately I didn’t know how to focus my camera at this point, and with lasik vision – one eye distance and one eye close, nothing ever looked in focus, and often wasn’t.  One of the participating students taught me how to focus my camera.  Students from all over the state display their year-long theme-based projects:  exhibits, documentaries, performances, papers or websites for 6-12th grades, and posters for 4-5th grades.  They present to a team of 3 judges who have the difficult decision of determining which of these amazing projects will advance to the National Competition in Washington D.C.

Little did the History Gals realize this would be our last NHD-CA event together.
Little did the History Gals realize this would be our last NHD-CA event together.

June  As the school and fiscal year ended, we came to the last year of a three-year cohort of teachers who participated in the Tulare County Teaching American History Grant.  Each year we had a one week institute during which time teachers went on a short field trip, worked with primary source materials, received scholarly lectures each day, and translated all of this learning into a lesson plan.  This was our last week together with this group of teachers.  For their final project teachers presented their lesson plans to the new cohort of teachers.  We toured the Railroad Museum, Old Town Sacramento, and the Bicycle Museum in Davis.


July History Ladies go to Shell Beach  May was our last official meeting as County History Consultants, and three of the four friends moved on to different responsibilities.  We decided that instead of loosing touch, we would travel somewhere in CA once a quarter.  Our week-end at Shell Beach cemented the already strong friendship with crazy dancing in the kitchen of the rented house, cinnamon rolls, pictures of a walk in San Francisco where clothes are optional, feeding baby animals at Avila Barn, roasting marshmallows over the stove after the barbecue ran out of charcoal, and sun bathing on the beach.

July History Ladies' Vacation

August – Retirement  Once I made the decision to retire, that’s all I could think about.  My last day was funny because I fought with my poor secretary about why I dressed casually that day.  She knew I was having a party, and I didn’t.  Paula took me in hand, and took me get a new dress for the party I didn’t know I was having.  Ivette was already dressed for the party, so we posed when I got back from my spree.


September -V and I decided to start taking advantage of retirement right away with a trip to the beach.  Lots of walks with Kalev until one day it started raining, and it didn’t stop.  We scurried back home.

Family Beach Trip

October – We arranged a week-long trip to our timeshare in Hawaii to Ka’anapali Beach Club.  It was almost like coming home.  We preferred October to December which was cold and rainy last year.  We had a great time rolling around in the surf, horseback riding, and eating.


November – The National Council for the Social Studies Conference took me to Seattle.  We really did go to meetings, sessions, and had a chance to socialize.  I finally went to the dance they have on Friday nights.  I walked all the way back to the hotel to change into a dress.  Walked back.  Got to the dance.  Where were all my friends? Felt really hot – had my dress on backwards.  Went to the rest room to change.  Got back to the dance.  No friends.  Cajoled poor Joel into letting me teach him the West Coast Swing.  One dance.  Left.  My friends got to the dance just after I left. Leslie and I went to see Twilight Part 52 or something like that.  Then I walked home after midnight.  Got lost, helped a lost soul find HIS way in Seattle (that’s a switch), and finally made it back to the hotel safe and sound.  Had a $65 dinner at the Space Needle for two rotations of the restaurant.  Had a great time!!

December– Home At Last  For the first time all year I hardly traveled during December.  Oh whatever would I find to occupy my retired time?  Hmmmm How about an online birthday party for Renee?  Christmas with PT and the kids, started going to Kiwanis Club, read some great books, blogged, blogged, blogged, and ……

…..poof the month was gone!!! Woah!!!!  What happened???  Did anyone else have that problem???

Sunday Post: Natural Resources

I’ve been hoping for a challenge in which I could post these photos of wind machines.  Thanks Jake.  Air is probably our most precious and abused natural resource in California Our EPA regulations for air quality are the most stringent in the United States.  Yet, for all it’s poor quality from times and in places, air can still be harnessed and used to produce another clean energy – electricity.

I read this morning on Pairodox Farm’s blog that my home state of Indiana, “the Fowler Ridge wind farm is one of the largest installations of its sort in the world. It ranges over 50,000 acres and is currently comprised of more than 300 wind turbines which can generate enough carbon-free electricity for nearly 200,000 homes.

I pulled off the freeway just before an exit going to Palm Springs to get these pictures.  I used the 75-300 lens.  You can see that the air is hazy.  Had I pulled off the road on Saturday instead of Monday, the sky would have been blue.  Rats!!!These photos have not been altered in any way except to imprint my moniker in the sky.Developed in the 1980s the  San Gorgonio Pass Wind Farm, one of three large wind farms in CA, consists of 3,218 units delivering 615 MW.[1]This wind farm spans the I 10.  This is one of the windiest places in California.

Featured Blog

Pairodox Farm is my choice for today.  Their website is about sustainable living in rural Pennsylvania, but I think their ideas can apply to all of us. The reason they are a pairodox is because in real life they are a pair of docs, one in zoology and in plant ecology.  In spite of all that science in their educational background they actually speak English.

A Pair of Docs in Pennsylvania

To participate in Jakesprinter’s Sunday Post

1. Each week, he will provide a theme for creative inspiration. Show the world based on your interpretation what you have in mind for the theme, and post them on your blog anytime before the following Sunday when the next photo theme will be announced.

2. Subscribe to jakesprinter so that you don’t miss out on weekly challenge announcements. Sign up via the email subscription link in the sidebar or RSS.

So I learned something today.  How about you?

Here are some of the participants gathered by rfljenksy – Practicing Simplicity.  Check his out, then you have lots of other examples also!  Thanks!!!

  1. SUNDAY POST: Natural Resources | Tea with a Pirate –
  2. sunday post : natural resources | bodhisattvaintraining
  3. Windmill at Sunset | Canoe Communications
  4. Sunday Post: Natural Resources…The Children of the World
  5. Eye candy | Thirdeyemom
  6. The Giving Tree | Thirdeyemom
  7. Sunday Post: Natural Resources « patriciaddrury
  8. SUNDAY POST : Natural Resources | tahira’s shenanigans
  9. Sunday Post:  Natural Resources -Another Day in Paradise
  10. Sunday Post : Natural Resources « restlessjo
  11. Positive Parental Participation
  12. Natural Resources. « Luddy’s Lens
  13. Jake’s Sunday Post: Natural Resources | A Number of Things
  14. BAMBOO- A Natural Resource « Zeebra Designs & Destinations
  15. If a tree falls | Beyond the Brush
  16. Jake’s Sunday Post theme: Natural resources « newsferret
  17. Tell me, was it one of those days? | The Wanderlust Gene
  18. Longing « Stray Thoughts
  19. SUNDAY POST: Natural Resources Wool | Cee’s Life Photography
  20. Wind Turbines | Figments of a DuTchess

Living Elegantly in Palm Desert

4th and Lenora, Seattle, Washington

The contrast between where I was this past week-end and where I was the week-end before reassured me about the flexibility of human-kind.  From Friday through Monday (It didn’t rain on Thursday.) I listened to traffic swish through soggy downtown Seattle streets 15 stories below my hotel room, several sirens wailing in concert, and stared out into the drippy gray sky at the construction site so much taller than my room, and the Space Needle off in the distance a mile or two, which lights up in the misty night like an alien Christmas Tree.

my starting point, Shadow Mountain Resort and Club

Just a week before I basked in a quiet resort, set far from the busy buzz of traffic, with two wonderful friends in the sunny California desert snowbird mecca of Palm Desert in a one story condo off the street with a patio that looked out on a pool and spa shared by 4-5 condo owners.  “Palm Desert is a city in Riverside CountyCaliforniaUnited States, in the Coachella Valley, approximately 11 miles (18 km) east of Palm Springs.”  Wikipedia

The week-end activities were relaxing, and I never got lost once (another story for my Seattle adventures!!)  While one friend slept in, another went running. To keep physically active take pictures of expensive, elegant desert homes for all of you, I ambled along sun-kissed streets that pointed towards the Santa Rosa Mountains (I think).  You may not know it yet, but I have NO sense of direction!  Actually there are several ranges surrounding Palm Desert.  I just didn’t know which direction I was facing.  You can read about them by clicking the link above or downloading this PDF which I found on the City Of Palm Desert website.  By now you know more about Palm Desert than I do, but read on…

Most of the homes were built about the same time as the Space Needle (1962 World’s Fair) I would guess, and although they are low, and the Needle is high, they all have that modern, aliens-gave-us-the-floor-plan look.  These houses by themselves might not be so spectacular and alien, but coupled with the landscaping they captivated my imagination.

Outer-spacy, almost planetary, definitely alien-influenced

I didn’t know whether to be more interested in the houses or the landscaping.

In case you want to move to this Palm Desert neighborhood, one of the houses was for sale for just over 1 million dollars.  To console yourself if you would love to move here, but don’t have a spare million dollars, the summer temperature is regularly 117 degrees.  It was about 75-80 during the day while we were there in mid-November.

For these homeowners privacy prevails.   Unlike the homes in Berkeley or Shell Beach, anywhere on the coast, or in large cities, like Seattle, which are also outrageously expensive, all of the Palm Desert homes sprawled instead of spiraled upwards.  So if you have a fear of heights or tend to fall (smilingtoad), Palm Desert might be a preferable place to spend your millions rather than one of the aforementioned locations.

Need a place to park your car?

I’m thinking that driving might be important here in the desert.  I guarantee you that if you live in Seattle, you will NOT enjoy winter driving, but I veer off course.  It could be that folks living here don’t ACTUALLY drive their cars.  It may be that the garages that populate the landscape are for protection only.  Who knows, V., there might be three vintage cars parked inside, safe and clean from the driving sand storms.  Hmmmm….

oops, car showing!

Of course if you run out of room in the garage, you can always park in the driveway.  Or possibly they have company.  No need to park on the street here!

Peek-a-boo I see a car.

The problem is that if you leave your car in the driveway, the neighbors can see it, and it spoils the landscaping.  OK, I really don’t think that anyone would think of this yard art as spoiled.  Those mountains are real, by the way, not photoshopped in.  Seattle has mountains, too, you just can’t see them most of the time because the sky is so thick.

For Sale

I’ve already put my name on it, but it’s expensive enough to share.  This is the unit that is listed for a mere $1,000,000 + change.  I have never been a real fan of 60s architecture, sorry Mary, but after seeing these homes, I think I could move right in and be fairly satisfied not to remodel them to look Craftsmanish or English Tudorish.

With the ceramic border in the fence and roofline, this home made me think of a live-in swimming pool.  How great would that be?

There were lots more, but I don’t want to bore you.  Hope you enjoyed this amble in the park street of someone’s dreams.  Happy Thanksgiving in a few days.  I’m actually glad I live where I do.   Aren’t you glad V.?  (He dodged a bullet on that one!!!)

Palm Desert Art Festival

Most of the time I don’t actually DO anything.  I go places and look at stuff, and I listen to people, and I talk, both verbally and in writing.  Since I met y’all I also take pictures so that you can shadow me as I don’t do anything.

When the History Ladies (that’s my friends and I)  got to Palm Desert, Debbie thought I might enjoy walking through the La Quinta art festival.  This is a timely post because if you like the looks of this, and hurry, there is another event on Dec. 1st.  I took so many pictures at this event that there is no way I can show them all.  So I’ll probably divide this post into many posts, or I will include a gallery.  Which would YOU prefer?

I’ll start with an overview of the different booths that caught our eye.  There were so many booths that I only took the ones where either the vendors or the art objects attracted me.

Delores, the MOST friendly jewelry maker

Delores was the first, and by far the most gregarious person we met, located in the first booth as we walked up.  She told us all about the regulations of participating with the La Quinta Arts Foundation.  Everything exhibited has to be hand-made.  There was nothing made in China, but I did meet a vendor who was born in France.

a large variety of hand crafted turquoise and other stone jewelry  “This is an ARTS festival, not a craft show.”  William

Delores insisted that since I was going to blog about the event anyway that her friend  Bill walk us up and introduce us to the coordinators of the event.  They gave us their blessing and introduced us to the La Quinta Arts Foundation website, for which you have a link at the beginning of the post.

my favorite piece of Jeff Davison’s work

Unassuming, friendly, and informative Jeff Davison told us how he took tree stumps, ground turquoise and filled in the gaps in the wood grain, and held it together with a resin.  My favorite item had no particular purpose, unlike the many bowls, but the differences in texture and color drew it to me.

Jeff Davison, woodworker
Jason, the metal worker

Next we stopped in to see Jason.  I immediately began taking pictures because Jason was busy with numerous customers.  He stopped me and gave me an etiquette lesson on photography before he said hello.  In spite of my photographic over-exuberance he forgave us when we both purchased a piece of his work.

Bronze cast statues by Frank and Marie Barbera

A husband and wife team produced the next exhibit that I liked.  She wasn’t there, and her husband did not want to be photographed, but he told me how they work.  She is the sculptor.  She produces the work in clay, makes a mold ifrom that, and then they cast the bronze statue.  He takes over and paints the statue.

Slate candles

My friend Debbie liked the next booth that had clean burning slate candles.  You never have to replace the wick, and the oil burns perfectly clean.

Canvas paintings marine waterproofed for durability

V would have loved these painted umbrellas by Garrison.  I loved the vivid colors against the clear blue sky.  They also had placemats and pillows painted on canvas and treated to be waterproof.

Dominique Blanchard sits pensively waiting for buyers.

Dominique Blanchard, a French artist living in California for more years than many of you are old (even though he is still young), still retained his accent.  His colors of copper and turquoise attracted me to his booth.  Although not necessarily my favorite piece, his use of figure/ground in this piece made it interesting.  What seemed unique to me was the bumpy texture and the resin coating.  Someone else liked it as well.  It was sold when I got there.

Elliott Newton , the Potter of La Quinta, happily sold his favorite piece today, so we didn’t get to see it.
The most unique pieces will be shown in another post.

As the sun was just starting to go down, these two exhibits above became the most exquisite under the umbrellas.  The glass blowers were a little hesitant to let me photograph their work because other glass blowers go online and steal ideas off websites.  So if you are a glass blower reading my non-glassblowing site, please DO NOT create one of these works of art.

High heat crystal glazes by Elliott Newton

Elliott Newton explained how his high temperature glaze creates crystals as it bakes.  The crystals made the already beautiful pieces come to life as the sunlight reflected off them.

Clothing Creator/Vendor

Finally I saw this elegantly dressed woman standing in a booth, and asked if the booth was hers.  She was visiting from the booth across the walkway which was hand-made clothing.  I probably couldn’t have afforded to wear any of the pieces she displayed, but I thought she looked interesting.

Of course what are art festivals without guests.  These pair of poodles posed and performed for the camera, sitting and lying down on demand.

Doggie Display of Discipline

Clearly this visitor was not enthralled with having to come to the exhibit.  He needs a camera.  Cameras even make car shows interesting!!!

Claim your happy husband here.

I’m guessing that his lucky wife is shopping behind him, and he’s turning his back to ensure that he can’t see what she’s buying him for his birthday.  OK, I admit it, I don’t REALLY think THAT.  He’s probably just hungry.

So did you enjoy the Arts Under the Umbrellas Festival?  In another post, I can give you more pictures of each display – or not, if you’re tired of looking at art for now.  I could do a gallery, or I could even create individual pages for separate artists.  It’s all easy if my internet works.