Monday, February 25, 2008

Crow Door

My mom took me on a walk in her neighbourhood to point out this door. I love it.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Science for Small People

In theory, the building blocks of science can be learned in the preschool classroom with such things as bugs, baking ingredients, wooden boards, marbles, straws, and magnetic sand. Oh, a little PVC piping is useful too.

I spent two hours yesterday evening in a workshop put on by Vancouver's Science World called Big Science for Little Hands that is directed at people like me who would like to teach science to small and very, very curious people.

It was one of those free, fun, hands-on events that encourage grown-ups to crawl around on the floor rolling things down ramps, dabble our hands in goop, manipulate marbles around in paint, and blow at things through straws until we're all decidedly light-headed.

I have to say that although I had fun, I didn't come away with any brand new ideas--my workplace is already all over alternative uses for salad-spinners and we know how to make a mean baking- soda-and-vinegar volcano too.

However, I'll have to look into buying some very cool sand that I had fun playing with there. You put it in water where it makes interesting lava-like formations....and when you scoop it out of the water it's dry to the touch.

It's like magic!

Um, I mean, science.

Apparently each grain of sand is coated with some sort of waxy chemical substance that repels water... today's word, children, is "hydrophobic"!

Can you say that? I knew you could! :)

There was some interesting conversation going on in the room too. For instance, one woman recalled being given liquid mercury to play with in the classroom when she was a child, Another person remembered that too. Apparently, this was in the seventies. Er, when exactly did people find out that you probably should not play with mercury? Anybody know?

Anyway, the powers that be in the early childhood licencing world have recently tripled the amount of professional development hours we need to keep our teaching licence from twelve to forty hours. So, when any free workshop comes along to help me get my needed hours, I'm usually there.

Even if it's the most yawning-est academic lecture that can be: sample title "Beyond the Discourse of Quality to the Discourse of Meaning Making". (I didn't make that up, by the way).

If a workshop promises to interesting and even *gasp* fun, and has little bowls of jelly-beans scattered around the room for our sugar-high pleasure, I'm definitely there.

Now if only Bill Nye had been there and we'd gotten to blow something up....

Wednesday, February 13, 2008


I was playing around with Google Earth last night.

First I located my house on the globe ---it's a little spooky still to be able to zoom in to an aerial photo of North America, then British columbia, then Vancouver Island, and then, you know, my street and my house and practically see the car parked in my neighbour's driveway...

Then, using my house as the starting point, I'd spin the global map and land on a faraway city, somewhere I've travelled to, so I could know how many kilometres away (the shortest route, as the crow flies) that place was.

I'm thinking that building a signpost something like the one pictured above would be an interesting addition to the garden.

The results :

Rome: 9033 km London: 7628 km

Nairobi: 14, 353 km Marrakech: 9055 km

Madrid: 8487 km Paris: 7973 km

Dublin: 7216 km

Also, a little closer to home, Vancouver,BC : 145 km

I think I'd probably include Kathmandu, Nepal (10,915 km) and Varanasi, India(11, 238 km) too because Jeff and I are planning on travelling to those this fall.

Hey, if we painted those last two places on our sign, then we'd almost be obligated to definitely go.... yeah... * mentally cementing vacation plans*

Monday, February 11, 2008

Would You Buy a Ticket to My Garden?

Welcome to my garden!

I've loved it for six years (longer, if you count me coveting it before the house went up for sale) , and although it doesn't look very much like these pictures right now (being bleedin' February and all) I'm posting them to remind myself that Spring is on its way, and it will soon thrive and bloom and burst out of the mucky ground once again. Well, I'm sure hoping....

I'm especially hoping it will look good, say...oh...the weekend of May 11th. That's the week of one of the Courtenay garden tours.

And *gulp* I'm hoping to be one of the gardens on the tour.

After some soul-searching (and letting the article I cut out of the paper mellow on my desk for about three weeks),I answered an ad in the local paper that read "Gardens Sought for Touring", spoken with two nice representatives of a local garden society in charge of the May fund-raiser tour, and have submitted my garden as one of the candidates.

It's always been a little vainglorious dream of mine to have a flower garden nice enough for people to buy a ticket to see it.

So far I've answered a lot of questions about the kinds of plants I have, the general lay-out of my property, sent them many photos, and now I'm just waiting for a deciding committee member to return from her vacation in Hawaii to pop over to my place and interview my yard in person, and make the decision yay or nay on whether my garden makes the cut.

This means I have until early March to wake up my garden and give it a good talking to---

There's going to be a lot of work involved--I spent five and a half hours out in the drizzle this past weekend weeding and pruning my little heart out. It made quite a difference, I'm pleased to say.

But when ever one thinks that soon droves of horticulturally-minded, possibly critical strangers could be roaming along the flower-beds, one does take a more jaded eye around one's own garden and sees all the things that need doing:

The porch railing that needs painting.... The sad-looking area by the compost that needs re-vamping (I have a plan).... The spot where I yanked out an ailing and ugly shrub last season and the empty spot it left behind that needs filling...

Someone said to me, "Are you sure you want to have all those people tromping through? Are you sure its worth the work?"

Yes! Oh yes! (Um, well, I hope so anyway.)

I remember last spring I had a garage sale just before I left for Italy, and one of the little old ladies who showed up at my sale with three of her elderly friends asked me if they could go on a little tour around my yard. It was so fun, pointing out my favourites, and having them stop and smell roses and exclaim over this and that.

I love going on garden tours myself. I get lots of inspiration from them. I guess I'm sort of hoping somebody will get excited over my garden too.

Wish me luck!