Yard Art Springing into Summer

Some of our yard art automatically changes with the seasons even though California is not as seasonal as Indiana where I grew up.  When I started this website, the creek behind our house that is a sandy trail for motor cycles 9 months out of the year had water in it.

In April the flowers getting most of the attention in our yard were primarily the wild, California poppies.  Bees were busy.

Cherry blossoms attracted the bees, too.

Trees this year promised lots of cherries.

Things happen, and in a region where the temperature usually goes from wintry cool to instant three digit numbers, our weather pattern took a detour on April 11 and pounded our yard art.

All I could do is stand and watch the beauty and art in the storm.

Some of the living art made it.  The cherries, not so much.  If you look really closely you still can’t find a single cherry on the tree that looked so tempting before April 11.

By the end of May I anticipated biting into ripe juicy apricots in spite of the hail.

Tonight, two weeks later, I have lost some of my naivety about trees that tease you with their abundance.

However, I can’t totally lose heart and hope.  We may not have green thumbs when it comes to fruit, but the roses  bloom until the weather does get into the 100s, and the cooler than normal temperatures helped them keep up their artful color.

Some of our yard art is planned quaint.

Some is unplanned quaint.

Seven on Sunday

Six on Sunday was my least popular post.  Hard to mess with Ten on Tuesday.  Maybe 16 on Sunday might sell better, or maybe the holy number 7.  Can I find seven holy things today?  Pardon me if I bend the word a little, but I’ll give it a shot.  Tell me if I succeeded.

1.  “Holy cow, that is an expensive car,” both my husband and step-son explained in  hushed, I wish I could win the lottery tones.

“The Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren was an expensive supercar that boasted a top speed in excess of 200 mph and could sprint from zero to 60 mph in under 4 seconds. Unless you were a CEO or media mogul, the SLR was unlikely to show up on your shopping list, as a new one cost around a half-million dollars. It’s equally unlikely that you’ll ever even see one, since overall sales numbers for the North American market were only in the hundreds before the car was discontinued in 2009.”

2.  Native American stories handed down over generations venerate the wolf as a holy animal.  Today people still love the lone wolf and honor it in a different way.

3.  Holy matrimony requires attending an occasional car show on Sunday even.  One must pay proper reverence to the cars that make the most noise and go the fastest.   There were some other breeds at the Corvette show in Sacramento.  This was his pick of this litter.

4.    Wikipedia is becoming accepted even in some academic circles if it has sources and it vetted.  According to this controversial source, “The English word “holy” dates back to at least the 11th Century with the Old English word hālig, an adjective derived from hāl meaning “whole” and used to mean “uninjured, sound, healthy, entire, complete”. The Scottish hale (“health, happiness and wholeness”) is the most complete modern form of this Old English root. The modern word “health” is also derived from the Old English hal.”

By the end of the show my normally somber-looking husband had a healthy and holy smile on his face.

5.  Gold and silver often denote power, riches, or prestige.  As it is written, at his birth the holy Christ-child received gold and other valuable gifts from the kings that came from afar to pay him homage.  Had he been born in the 1970s, he might have received one of these.

6.  Do you have a holy curiosity?  Not the kind that kills cats, but  weren’t you wondering what the back half of the longer vehicle was?  I had never seen one.  Imagine cruising down Interstate 5 in 1972 next to this Cadillac motor home.  Who might have been driving it?

7.  Historically water has had holy purposes in many religions.  It functions to cleanse the body of both evil and dirt, and prepare one for sacred service.  Air, on the other hand, has been taken for granted.  Dirty air is an unholy, unhealthy mess.  In the early 1900s, 1912-1917 to be exact, GM sold electric trucks.  They never caught on.  In 1997, GM tried again to introduce a vehicle that would help keep the air clean.  The EV1, produced in 1996, was leased only.  When the leases expired, GM thought they destroyed all the EV1s.   This One got away.

The rest were reincarnated as Nissan Leafs, which should  be leaves, but isn’t.  Now isn’t that reVolting?

The boys and I all had a great time in Sacramento, both at the Corvette show honoring the veterans, and at the California Auto Museum.  Hats off to the California Auto Museum which allowed veterans free admission today.  We all recommend this museum if you enjoy history, cars, trucks, famous people, or something to do on a Sunday afternoon.

 

Lee Skywatcher

What fascinated me today was the sky.  On the way home from work in the west was a block of grisly gray from high in the sky to the ground.  On the east was a dust devil.  That just seemed wrong, but what was really wrong was that I didn’t have my camera.  So I got it out when I came home.

Fortunately for me, the sky stayed diverse long enough for me to get tired of taking pictures.

By the way you don’t want to plant eucalyptus trees too near your pool.  They don’t clean up after themselves.  I faced east as I took these first two pictures.  Watch when I turn about 135 degrees.

Gray adds depth and interest to the sky, maybe even to one’s life if you believe the philosophers. As a hair color, and according to my fashion expert and co-worker, Glenn,  gray should not be an option in my wardrobe either.   But it looks nice if the sky is wearing a little of it – in places.

What made this evening particularly interesting was the next turn.  Looking straight south you could almost imagine yourself in another world.

You should neither spit into the wind nor take pictures into the sun. But in the spirit of providing you all with an accurate recording today’s sky display, I did it anyway.   If you live in the midwest or east, these skyscapes may not seem spectacular to you.  But in this area if you have something other than dusky,cloudless,  lifeless blue, you grab your camera and point up.

Relaxing After Work

A technician told me the other day that he didn’t mind driving home 35 minutes from work.  When he had lived 2 minutes from work, he always took a drive out into the country to relax before he went home.    His story inspired me to take you on a drive with me as I relax on my way home from work.

You are seeing rural California at its best.  The temperature is a perfect 80 degrees.  The air smells fresh and clean.  You can open your car windows, forget about air conditioning, and let the wind mess up your hair because you are going home.

I stopped along the way to take these pictures, and walked out into the middle of the street.  I could take my time snapping pictures because there is only evidence of human habitation here – telephone poles, garbage can, and, of course, groves and groves of trees, not so many real humans.

The foremost crop in this part of Tulare County is citrus.  Oranges have just been picked for the most part, and although there are still a few in the trees, they are small.

Without irrigation, this area is very arid.  I took this picture on  May 22, 2012, and the hills are already brown, and there are not even any weeds growing along the side of the road.

This is one of my favorite turns in the road.  It changes season by season, but is always beautiful.  Dark clouds, sometimes a heavy downpour, come occasionally from December until maybe as late as April and create a dramatic skyscape for the snow-capped peaks.  In early spring the white peaks of the Sierra Nevada contrast with a bluer sky.  On a windless mid-summer day dusty air hides the mountains, and in the fall the few deciduous trees turn orange and yellow.

Coming from the Midwest, and later the Northwest I had to develop an appreciation for the color brown.  In the Central Valley of California water comes from wells, reservoirs, and we also import water from the north.  A few years ago many, many trees died because farmers couldn’t get enough water.  Now those groves have been replanted.

You can see the drip irrigation hose wrapped around the first tree and stretches to all the trees in the row.  Some types of groves are flood irrigated periodically instead, but this is the most common method of watering citrus trees that I have seen in this area.

I grew up in cities.  I love them, the activities, the lights, the people, but my technician friend was right.  When I lived there, my family and I always took drives into the country to relax before or after going home.  Now I relax by going home, but have to go to cities  so I don’t turn into a vegetable.  I am blessed to have both in my life.

Twitter v TodaysMeet

Preparing for the implementation of the Common Core Standards includes implementing a high degree of technology.  As a professional developer, I need to be able to model the use of how readily available technology can be used in the classroom.  Yesterday my colleague, Mary, and I experimented with whether to use Twitter or TodaysMeet during our next presentation.

According to Rosa Golijan who wrote a blog article about Twitter over a year ago, there were 175 million registered Twitter users, not that all of them used it.  If any of those 175 million folks are like me they might have created an account to try it once.  I did, and then the account just sat there until I forgot my password and eventually even forgot I had opened the account.  I started a new account when I started this website a month ago today.  I am proud to have 37 tweets, follow 42 people, and have 16 followers on the account I use.  In comparison I learned about TodaysMeet last Friday, used it during a phone meeting on Wednesday, and practiced with Mary yesterday.

You can use either of these services as what we call a parking lot during a meeting or professional development to allow attendees to interact with each other and the presenter without verbally disrupting the presentation.  Engaged participants are actively listening.  They usually make comments to people either about the meeting or an idea that they are having at the moment.  When I started going to meetings, we whispered to each other, wrote notes and passed them all over the room, or waited until we had a free minute to talk.  By that time we usually talked about something else.

Technology makes this learning process easier.  With Twitter you do not have to  have an account to follow a meeting.  You go to Twitter.com/search and enter the name of the meeting that the presenter gives preceded by a hash mark (#).

The hash code will take you to a place where you can see all the notes that other people attending the meeting are posting.  You can write a post to make a comment or ask a question.  The presenter might have a co-presenter or a designated person who is following the tweets.  When an important comment or question is made, the designated person may either answer the tweet directly, interrupt the speaker, or even text the speaker that she/he has a question to answer.

TodaysMeet works the same way, but you don’t have to sign up for an account, or even use your real name.   The presenter creates a chat room, and you go to TodaysMeet.com/name of meeting, enter your name and join.

The presenter can press the twitter button at the bottom to invite all tweeters to the meeting.  This also takes people to the TodaysMeet chat room, not to Twitter.

Once you press join, you have entered the room and may start making comments.  You have up to 140 characters, then you press say.

The presenter can use these comments to tailor the meeting to the needs of the participants.  The comments are saved online for up to a month, and anyone can access them, but ultimately they disappear.

Twitter is different.  The comments are saved indefinitely.  Twitter screens out all of the other tweets so that all you see are the comments made during the meeting, otherwise it would be very distracting.  Another major difference with Twitter is that people can access information from other Twitter users’ profiles.  This can be helpful since networking is a great benefit to attending a training or meeting.  It is also nice to know about the presenter as well.

Mary and I decided to try only one of the two options so that we wouldn’t confuse ourselves or our participants.  Which one would you use or would you use both at the same time?  I’ll tell you after next week which one we chose, and how it went.  If you have any advice for us in the meantime, leave a comment.