Friday, May 9, 2014

Beginnings and Ends

(All cactus blossom photos were shot in our back yard)

1.  For us in the education game, we are approaching the end of the academic year.  Time to celebrate what has been accomplished, do what is yet to done, write reports, give congratulations, graduation, and say farewell. It is touchingly wonderful to see how a random bunch of prospective teachers are transformed in a year’s time from uncertain individuals into a tight group of well trained creative  teachers.  
Education Building ( where we hold our seminars each week ) - Mills College, Oakland

I feel well ‘fed’ by my participation in my classroom visits and weekly seminars where the entire group meets.  My work with each student teacher ends with a final 3 way evaluation meeting between the cooperating teacher (used to be called the Master Teacher), the student teacher, and me… These meetings will all be celebrations of success this year!
Central lawn area - Mills College Oakland

 2.  It is also the season of surprises in our garden - without any great decision to move in that direction I have many cactuses integrated into our garden - they grow nicely in and among other plants. 
This time of year is time that the cacti show their stuff.  When I go out in the morning I look to see which cacti are blooming their big extravagant blossoms. 
Several of them bloom for only one day (or one night) some are designed to be pollinated by bats that come in the night for nectar.

 Their ephemeral bloom just adds to their beauty.  Those pollinated by bees or birds have an exquisite perfume about them too.   My interest in cactus began in Mexico where I saw the marvelous uses the local people used cactus in their home gardens. 

Cactus garden in Oaxaca Mexico

 I really came to appreciate their unique form and features.  Once back home, I noticed one of my neighbors had some cactus in her yard. When I commented on them, she invited me into the back yard where she had a vast collection of mature specimen - some several feet tall.  
She said that I was free to take cuttings or dig up small offshoots of any that I wanted - how could I turn down such an offer?  Now, years later, those cactus have grown into large specimens. 

 One thing people often don’t realize is that cacti actually grow at a steady pace.- and they also send out little side shoots that make sharing easy.   Often people who try to grow them, over water them,  and then they die of rot – they will take a lot of drought!  A  sister in law introduced me to the huge variety of succulent plants - ands gave me a several to get started… 

So as a result I felt like I just gravitated into an arid garden - and I started selecting other plants that complement the cactus and succulents. The effect is a low water, low maintenance (weeds don’t grow if you water very little) - but its filled with a variety of textures, colors, and forms in all the seasons of the year,

2.     Since I spend a lot of time on the freeways travelling to visit my student teachers I have a very eclectic mix of radio stations I listen to.  All of these can also be listened to on line…

KQED - public radio

KALW - public radio - San Francisco 

KKUP - A funky volunteer station - very diverse programming some wonderful - some horrible,

KZSU - Stanford University  Station - also diverse - some great, some not

My preferred latino music station when I want to practice my Spanish,

Not my photo - but some road guy has a weird sense of humor

I want to highlight one weekly show that it the perfect answer to getting stuck in heavy traffic – Its on the Stanford station once a week - but you can stream it from their website… It's a conversation between a Progressive theologian and a Stanford biologist… it’s funny, and often profound… Click on a segment to listen on your computer: (Warning the first few minutes on the first segement are just a little silly – but hang in there is gerts good)