Sunday, August 12, 2012

a new patent on the wheel

Today's been a lovely morning. I woke up tangled in dreams of giant looms woven into book-mouths and theaters with red drapes, so I stretched, snuggled Checkers, and went right back to sleep. When I eventually got up, I spoiled our little garden with lots of water. I realized that you have ZERO pictures of our horticultural efforts this year, so a brief photo-history:

These are our little starts, most obtained from Ms. Purdy at the mid school. Cabbage from DY. The basil plants - now flourishing enough to create enough bruschetta for a party of a dozen - came from Holiday Nursery up in Gallup. The traditional corn, beans, and summer squash are ours from seed.

Tiny corn!

Doesn't my old dresser have potential as a raised bed?? Unfortunately, it was just too hot and dry (without any irrigation possibilities) in June for our beets or carrots or potatoes to sprout. BUT! You can see evidence of the waffle style garden. I dug a foot down or so, and then we mixed soil (manure or compost, tree soil from the hills, sand, bags of potting soil) to supplement the iron-rich, veritable clay soil of Zuni. Believe me that the sides of these waffle holes hardened to an adobe hardness in the sun. 

Three sisters garden! Our traditional beans kicked the bucket, but the corn and squash continued the sorority. Here they are, fresh from transplanting.

Yeah, we made this bread (see the last entry). N.B.D.

Fast forward a couple of months and -----

Ta da! Here's the same garden - look at our corn go! (and everyone else, too)

Here's our corn first tasseling about a week ago. Now it's a riot of aphids, the ants gently tending their little charges. So far no damage to the plants, just some nice mutualism.

This cabbage was planted the day before our spring break. It has survived drought, a hard frost (in late May), and a violent plague of flea beetles. This critter is giant among brassicas.

Yeah, that's my breakfast. Check it! Our little (2') row of beans is producing like crazy.

Our first volunteer squash (of about a dozen, no joke) of the garden is named Katniss. This is her fruitful endeavor. Hopefully the other squashies of the plot will take notice.

What? You aren't growing ristra peppers in your backyard? Bummer. 

It's strange to think since the last time I wrote here my plants have grown from little two inch seedlings to real veggies in their own right. Also, in this time, I have:
  • gone to a tremendously wonderful AP conference lead by the intellectual guru, Linda Davey.
  • chatted with a couple midwives up in Española, sharing my own thoughts and sharing excitement of a possible birth center in the planning.
  • taken a lovely trip to Iowa and Indiana (aka the homelands) with Ms. Lyl. We gloried in Quimby's 150 centennial celebration, playing carnival games and devouring the big pink ice of watermelons cut straight out of the truck. Indiana was a tizzy of late-night car rides, a New Mexican meal, other delicious food, wonderful people, and a gorgeous hike in Shades (after a scrumptious cook-out breakfast). We took the train home to Santa Fe, spending the afternoon in Chicago with my best friend Sarah. All thoughts to her on her first days of teaching! . . . the remainder of the train trip was gorgeous as well. 
  • I've read another hunk of books. After tearing up maybe four times in a three-minute preview of "The Perks of Being a Wallflower," I have pushed that text to the top of my reading list. So while I'm also communing with Holden and Ina May and Martha Ballard and Charles Mann (1491, still exceptional), I'm right there with Charlie. Totally recommended: La Partera: Story of a Midwife. It's the narrative of New Mexican Jesusita Aragón, and it's wonderful. Also recommended is Lolita. I can't wait to read more Nabokov, though old Humbert Humbert certainly knows how introduce pathos to a road trip (I listened to it on CD). 
  • received 40 copies from dear friends and relatives of Angela's Ashes. Now I can teach it at the end of the year with a unit on the essay (along with Kingsolver's "High Tide in Tucson" and McKibben's "End of Nature." 
  • had a lovely visit from my friend, Julia! We had delicious Indian food, fry bread, Ancient Way, blue corn pancakes (home made). We went hiking at El Morro and took a long stroll all around the plains surrounding the pueblo: twin buttes ahead, sunset on the left, DY on the right. Behind us, the deep rain clouds of the monsoon season. Mmm. She also helped weed the garden and set up my classroom. She made an excel spreadsheet of ALL my classroom books. Yes, there are about 400 in my person free reading section. Yeah, that's not counting the school's sets of books. Here we come, independent reading program!

Oh, yes. Right. Do you really want me to talk about the elephant in the room? Well, here he is. 
School starts tomorrow. 
Oh, buddy. . . I'm not quite sure how to react, really, because I'm actually kind of excited and not very nervous. My room is lovely, my plans are made, I had a successful community theatre meeting, and I have a co-coach for cheer. And, as my mum said this morning, "It's like you turned from a Dickens novel into the end of a Shakespeare comedy." Truth. For, dear readers, my department is like Christmas to a three-year-old: I LOVE IT! Our three new teachers are sweetness and light: Anne, our new chair, is a lovely and sage woman from whom I cannot wait to learn. Ed is a delightful new teacher from Long Island, who accepts all help with such gratitude and has wonderful ideas for journalism. And Bret is our Neropa-divinity-degree-clown-Southern-gentleman who is pure fun to be around. It's looking to be a true, sugary year. In our two meetings, we've collaborated, laughed non-sarcastically, and I've been listened to with openness. None of these things happened last year. . . bring it on, 2012-2013!

And, hey! To top it off, another photo history:
Oh, hello there. Sorry, I'm too invested in reading towards my 25-book goal for the school year to really acknowledge your presence.

Oh, wow! There's even a rug, and soon to be bean bags. I'll just have to keep reading. Feel free to look around the classroom, though.

The door is perhaps even more fabulous than last year. Featured: the "Go in the direction of your dreams" quote by Thoreau, Lady G encouraging everyone to pass the NMSBA, the infamous Safe Space sign, CC, nature quotes, 20 ways to bring goodness into your life by the Dalai Lama, Think Indian, and ZPSD "weaving the future."

Oh, yeah. I have TABLES. I have tables AND a circle. This year, it's kind of a blastocyst-shape, with two little bulges at a diagonal from one another. Also visible is my junior timeline, reading corner, "Like Chicks?" poster, and the edge of my cabinets. One is storage that doubles as a Shout-Out Board; the other is going to be my journal and props closet. YES.

Here is my cabbage poster ("Grow your brain. . . BIG"), Bloom's verbs, and the featured texts from unit 1. My students made the posters at the end of year one. The other half is a Call Board, for theatre.

Yup. All my students, in one way or another, will be using "The New Yorker" as their introductory text into my course. 

You bet I look smug. Behind me are ALL my copies for my first day. Huzzah!

Here is my Long-Term Plan for my juniors. Yup. I've got a list of all my texts for the year with the standards they correspond to. 

I am SO thrilled to teach my critters. We'll be working with real literature and real issues, and slipping in my natural birth agenda as is appropriate.

My AP Lit seniors are reading (in their entirety or excerpts):
  • Both contemporary and classic short stories and poems
  • The Catcher in the Rye
  • Beowulf
  • The Canterbury Tales
  • The Tempest
  • Frankenstein
  • Invisible Man
  • A Streetcar Named Desire
  • House Made of Dawn
  • Metamorphosis
  • Cry, the Beloved Country
  • The Poisonwood Bible
  • Oryx and Crake and other dystopias
  • Inde reading off an AP list

My juniors, like last year, are doing a survey course in American Literature. 
Their essential questions for each unit.
  • Unit 1: Dawn of time to 1800. 5 weeks.
-       Essential Question: What is literature? How is literature Power?

Unit 2: 1800-1870. 4 weeks.
-       Essential Question: What is our place in Nature and Society?

Unit 3: 1850-1914. 6 weeks.
-       Essential Question: How do we face Adversity?  

Unit 4: 1914-1946. 10 weeks.

-       Essential Question: What is Heroism in the modern age?

Unit 5: 1945-1970. 3 weeks.
-       Essential Question: What does it mean to be Post-War?

Unit 6: 1970-Today. 7 weeks.

-       Essential Question: How, then, shall we Live?

Borrowing liberally from the genius-y Donalyn Miller in The Book Whisperer, my kids will be reading 20+ independent reading books this year. Hence the 10 minutes at the beginning of each hour, hence the excellent in-class library. . . let's see if we can't get the NMSBA scores up!

And don't even get me started on my drama class. In the words of Barney Stinson, it's going to be "Legend- wait for it - dary!"

Well, I should be off to review Catcher and plan my board decoration assignment (soles of summer? New Yorker cartoon captions?) 
If you've made it this far, thank you thank you. I hope that all is well in your world.
Wish me luck?

Over and out ~