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Another fall….

6 Oct

Unbelievably, almost a year has gone by since my last post! Good grief, how’d that happen? It seems Life has a way of tearing along like a river, just carrying us along as if we’re an untethered boat-gotta take control, steer, consult a map, chart a course, then follow it! I could keep on with the boat/river/sailor analogies, but I’m sure you understand.

To wrap up the last post, my challenge with the early mornings has been rocky at best, but I am doing better at the early hours. Rising with the squabble of sparrows is not my forte but it’s do~able, though by the end of the week I find it a definite challenge! Especially if we’ve gotten to bed late. There’s so much to do, so many interesting things or jobs that must be done, that it’s hard to pay attention to the time and hit the hay at a ‘reasonable’ hour. Oh well, I’m trying and that is the point, to try! Of course, while cooking for our county 4-H camp I found it quite easy to get up at 6 a.m., 5:45 even~that probably had a lot to do with the fact that it was light out, there were raucous ravens next door and my tent mate generally rises at 5 a.m. I really hoped that would carry over into everyday life, however I was so exhausted that it didn’t~as a matter of fact the whole next week was a drag yourself out of bed challenge extravaganza!

Well, in looking back over my posts I mentioned some posts to come-silly me, to promise things like that! Well, I will try to cover those ideas of mine, perhaps in the next post even (apple pie anyone?) So stay tuned! I have recipe ideas, homeschool ideas, commentary on life and nature, even observations of people and such, perhaps even about what my kids are doing, or what I’m doing (my new past time? Fiddling (or violin playing, you pick I can never decide). My goal is a post a week, if not more often.

Here’s to a lovely fall~cranberry muffins and hot coffee (or tea). Enjoy the season!


Fall, Apples and homeschooling…

9 Oct

Perusing friends posts and great fall photos got me to thinking about what I love about fall. It’s one of the richest times of the year-the trees are turning gorgeous colors, there’s a lot of activity by both animals and humans as they gather in and store foodstuffs, there’s a flurry of activity as football games are played weekly, harvest fairs and festivals take place, craft fairs spring up. The air itself becomes changeable. Now we really know the seasons have swung-some days the air is crystal with the red and yellow notes of autumn in the trees, other days it has a blue smudge along the hills from shifting air patterns and wood smoke. Smells are more pronounced-apples are abundant and if you drive by an orchard there is a winey fresh crisp scent that makes one want to run and shout. A late rose has a spice to it reminding one of cookies, dry leaves a different spicy smell and so on.

Once my children and I began to explore this world we found a ton of things to do, books to read, places to explore…really an explosion of colors, scents, tastes-the whole sensory experience!

I loved to do what we called Unit Studies, which takes a theme, say “Apples” in this case, and ties together all the disciplines and includes hands-on as well as the more formal writing reading and arithmetic. Of course, I took this farther by adding to them myself, and encouraging the children to add as well (to the extent that they’d come up with their own “unit studies”) With different age groups I tried to have activities and books for all levels so there was something for all. We often ended up rabbiting onto other topics, but that was okay-learning was actively happening!

One experience that comes to mind is the field trip to the local apple orchard. We spent the majority of the day at Gizdech Ranch which is a wonderful ranch, as it has not just apples, but all sorts of berries as well-you can do u-pick for about 3/4 of the year there…As well, there is an on-site bakery, fruit ‘stand’ (a store really), antiques shop and cider mill. You can spend the day there!

For our field trip the kids started with a tour of the orchards where they were taught how the apples were grown, what kinds there were, how the pickers knew they were ripe, how they were picked, what they were made into and what happened to the excess or apple waste! Whew. They then picked a bushel to take home, a job made quick by the fact apples are so large-if you aren’t careful you can pick quite a few in thirty minutes. At an u-pick farm that can add up quickly-apples are much heavier than berries! 🙂 This was followed by a tour of the apple sorting, washing and packing facility and the cooler. We watched a batch of apple cider being made (the non-alcoholic kind) and then it was off to the bakery! My favorite part-they were making apple pies with mounds of apples! Yum. Once the tour was done, apple pie was on our menu-before lunch even!

The day was so full it seemed foolish to push anything else into the schedule, however with all those apples it also seemed silly to not create! Apple pie, applesauce, apple butter, dried apples…we came up with a lot of things to make in the next week. A lot of apples were munched up in hand-really one of the best things about an apple; a quick snack, loaded with fiber, pectin and more! The ones we picked were small too, a perfect snack for little hands-big ones too.

So besides baking and preserving, lots of other things can be done with apples. Apple themed math of course-weights and measures, graphing, even addition and subtraction. For literature, we made apple books-large apple shapes, colored to reflect the child’s favorite apple and enclosing enough pages for them to draw and write inside. (A journal would work too, especially for old kids) These books were devoted to the exploration of apples, including poems, Journaling about the field trip, observations of apples… We cut apples in half different ways and made botanical drawings showing the seeds and stem along with the flowers. As well, I pulled out all the books I could find, plus more from the library with information about apples, or apple themes. It is amazing what you can find! (That was in pre-internet days too!) We covered history, famous people, stories both true and fiction-I don’t think we exhausted the subject either!

Crafts are fun done with apples. There is printing with halves-gift wrap, bags, aprons. Cinnamon-applesauce ornaments. Apple heads 🙂 which are hysterical when done-they start out all nice and plump then become wizened and wrinkled. Apple pomanders. The four seasons of an apple tree using tissue paper on a rail road board-draw four trees, color then add the foliage and flowers, or apples. Fun!

It’s easy to do this yourself. Call around to local orchards, many have tours or would be happy to have you come out. Much of what we did was just pulled from our bookshelves or various places around the house-it doesn’t have to be expensive. I ‘ve provided some links for you below-more can be found by searching for different phrases. Don’t forget your local library either-it can have a ton of resources and books (fiction and non-fiction) available, fun to look through and read. I’ll rustle up some of my favorite recipes and ideas and post them next!

A Good Long Time Has Passed…

1 Nov

Since I have blogged, obviously! I have no idea if anyone even checks my blog out, but I like using my links and if I had blogged more, fewer of my photos would Lost. That’s right, lost. Me -who knows better- lost a ton of photos, data, and what not, on a M*x*r drive that failed. First of all, I know these particular hard drives are bad news, and secondly I know to BACK UP all data. I have not really done that since 2005 (fall). Some photos etc are on the home computer, so not all is lost, but enough that it was devastating. I ended up utilizing a local firm to help me out (since this is way beyond my brother’s or my computer expertise) and the drive had to be sent to L.A. 😦

I still have not received my pictures back-well, they were on the disk but my DVD drive malfunctioned and destroyed the file (anyone see a pattern here? As well, our Dish receiver died, as well as my son’s car-which may be an electrical problem…). All the other retrieved files are there, even if some are corrupted…which is okay, I think most of the zip files are unneeded. (They were most likely business files which would have been backed up elsewhere. Of course.) My tech will be getting another DVD for me, and I ordered a new DVD drive from Sager Notebooks (my laptop is from them, they originally were one of the few firms that did “build to order”.)

While is seems crazy that a DVD burner would kill a file, consider that the back up I attempted with it actually erased the disk, and all the other computers read it as unusable! It has stalled out on burning Cd’s more and more as well. I now refuse to use it -what will it do next? I am not finding out!

Needless to say, there are lots of photos and ideas and discussion that could have taken place, which because I was waiting for the perfect time-to blog, to back up, to share…might never take place:( So take note of my advice below, which comes not just from this experience, but multiple occasions (we utilize computers at work for many things and one sure thing is that something will fail.).

  1. Back up weekly all data that is important or even just a little important to you; favorites, files, photos, even downloads (create a download file and always send everything there every time). Use DVDs or Cd’s that are made to last a long time. Some cheap ones may not. Archival quality disks are available for modest prices.
  2. For photos you can buy storage binders, print a proof sheet, and insert that along with the DVD on each page. Don’t for get to note date, place, people and so on. So helpful later when all might become less obvious!
  3. Do not depend on external or internal hard drives! Keep things on several operating systems or in several different places. See no. 1, back up stuff, it is less heartbreaking and cheaper than trying to recreate it all! (I need to find maps and sites that I use in my work, not fun!!!) (As well, if you copy your DVD’s/Cd’s and store them in a different location and/or fire proof safe you will be able to preserve the data much better.)
  4. Research new operating systems before installing, and check to see if your machine is proprietary. We almost lost a huge portion of data because Compaq is proprietary and if you install Windows XP on 98 that is not a Compaq “approved” disk, it can really mess stuff up. Fortunately in those days we backed up! And did so until I obviously became a flake :p

Another thing, research before purchasing software, hardware or computers! We do that a lot around here, but even I took a chance on the M* drive which I knew to be suspect. Moral of that is don’t trust that hardware can change it’s ways (tong in check here..). We have all worn out a variety of hardware, most commonly the hard drives, but also lots of key boards, keys, mice, etc. So a better quality product is a good idea.

So there is my helpful Helen hint for today! May you have a good November, with today being All Saints Day. If you were to choose a favorite saint, who would it be?

One of the last Peace roses in my garden before chilly fall weather!

In November we experienced…

18 Jan

the death of my husband’s father, Joseph Russo. It was so unexpected because he was in good health, however he was old and has been moved many times, from care home to convalescent hospital…not good for someone who is older and very routine oriented. I won’t go into the long story here, suffice to say he is missed, and I certainly will try to avoid the same thing for both my parents and someday myself (or my husband!).

At any rate, we had an influx of family as my husbands brothers and nephew came down right away, (and we were happy to be able to house them) and they were followed by the rest of the
CREW (as in sisters-in-law, cousins, grand cousins….or great nieces to Angelo and I-they’re just the cutest :). I think I counted sixteen at one point! Even though the days were melancholy, it was still good to connect and talk…I enjoyed the early morning coffee and conversation with my b-i-ls, and it is too bad that Angelo had to work. We all gathered for big family style dinners in the evening, with a spaghettie feed on the night of the funeral-which was in a way a toast to “Papa Joe” or “Dad”.

The day of the funeral was strange, somewhat surreal, and that feeling lasted until we all decided to grab lunch and head for Carmel-by-the-Sea (40 min. away, the town I grew up in.).

The weather that week had been awesome, warm and balmy for November. Friday was a gift, perhaps from Joe. The beach was beautiful, and surprise, we saw four dolphins trolling along the waves, just behind the breakers! What a gift. As was the time spent with family including my daughter and sons, and my lovely nieces and their daughters! All the boy cousins seemed to enjoy the time, even though one briefly suffered a cold!

I have included some photos of the day-I have no idea who the girl in the waves is, but the nieces are “K’ and “V” however nicknames abound!

1 Dec

The fall color on many of our street’s trees is just beginning, (some are rather slow) while in other areas it is almost over! I love walking or driving down a street drifting in leaves, golden and red, shimmering in the autum sun or glowing in the dusk.
We love watching the visitors to our two feeders (black sunflower seed and nijer seed). This is a house finch, their colors very from peach to orange to red-pretty! On the nijer seed feeder this moring there are some American Goldfinches along with their lesser cousins! Exciting as we don’t see them very often. Tarby of course observes all this-it is like tv for cats but better! (Well for the birds anyway!)

My very first post, has to be a quick one…

27 Nov

because I had better jump through the shower and get to work! ACK. This is great fun, but a huge time eater. Oh, well. I have a photo of my fridge front to show what I mean by Montage…My life is layers of different things and my days are pretty much like that as well! I wish I had more time to devote to art and calligraphy, to baking and sewing. However the boys need schooling and I need to work to pay the bills. You have no idea how much teenagers can eat!
The boys, Michael and Patrick, went to Portland, Oregon (on the train!) to see their cousins and aunts and uncles and the fridge stayed static. It was very quiet here as well. I think the cat was bored with no one to chase her or harass her! We were even on time for church, not having to round up sleepy heads. (Christina and Zach were very timely, having to leave early to find gas, and the boys went with Greg and Lois to the service at their Greek Orthodox church, a very peaceful place).
Christina went to Portland too, on a plane, and had a blast staying with Cousin Katy and family. They drank pots of coffee, went shopping, played with Vassie (my darling Grand-niece :), made pie, and celebrated Thanksgiving at Lois and Greg’s. We need to go next year-I kind of felt, well, left out. I am so glad they all had a great time though. (The boys watched football, played football, ate, went to the Army Surplus store, played Settler and several other intense games (as did Christina), ate, went to the service, slept…I think they had a fine ol’ time!) Then Christina and her boyfriend, Zach (short for Zachariah) came down and we had a late T-giving dinner at my parents. My mom, Angelo (my DH), Christina and Zach played an intense game of Canasta while my Dad and I cleaned up the scrumptious dinner.
So Sunday evening was quiet and I tried to work through my papers, bills, mess, photos, etc. The table is covered! Sigh. And it all has to get cleaned up before dinner! I am taking the afternoon off, I think and cleaning that mess up. I have a list of errands too…
Well, there it is -my first post. What do you think?
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