Sunday, May 27, 2012

Graduation (Don't faint - there are pictures!)

 This is my son and his lovely girlfriend.  The lei haven't piled up, yet. 

This is my son with his sister and her best friend (who feels like my 5th kid).  My daughter really bleached her hair - but I kind of like it a lot more than the crayon red of last year! 

 All my kids, plus two :). 

My dad and my son - they share  name and  a birthday! 

My little mom and my step-dad. 

My dad and my step-mom. 

 All my kids.  Three of them are now taller than me - how does that happen? 

 The boys.  My house is full of all the kids in these pictures right now (plus a few more), and I am quite a happy mom today.  I am not sure how I feel about the pimp-daddy hat, but it's pretty funny. 

Aren't they adorable? My baby-girl and my son's girlfriend. 

The lei got heavy, so here he is without them.  I really love this picture. 

My little girl, all grown up. 

The night before graduation - he is SOOO happy he is graduating. 

The breakfast that got him through high school - fruit loops.  One is leaving high school and one is coming up in the Fall. 

The grandparents!  Everyone's got cameras out. 

This different kihei (drape) the kids made for their baccalaureate - the changed to the yellow ones for the graduation.  It's a long, long day. 

My husband thought it was hilarious that my sunburn was showing in my faculty uniform. 

My son and his friend in the line to enter graduation.  Don't they look handsome? 

Somehow I missed the picture with the masses of lei - he took them off early and put them in a bag.  My house smells like flowers - although there was a goodly amount of candy and one creative soda lei.  There are several teens and young adults in the basement.  They've cleaned the kitchen, cooked their own dinner (obviously not in that order), and one of them fixed a problem with my external hard drive.  I am glad they still feel happy here - I know like other things in life, this will pass, too.  I think that's what's been so hard with this graduation for me - half my kids are now out of school.  A part of my life is passing on and there are good things coming but I am grieving this part a little bit - another mom said, "This is a bittersweet day."  We both teared up a little - I have known her since the boys were in preschool.   I am so proud of my son and his accomplishments, but a tiny bit of me misses my little chubby cheeked boy. 

Friday, May 25, 2012

The Most Beautiful Weather

It was pouring right before it was time to get out of bed and blustery with wind, but by mid-morning the sky was celebrating my last day of work (well, you know kind of - tomorrow is graduation, which is a work day and the week after next is a week of work in Kona).  My friend at work and I met at 6:30 and worked out on the ellipticals and then we went to breakfast with the full staff.  I cleaned my room some more, started on those tutorials on word roots I promised to do this weekend, showed someone how to set up their gradebook so they can get a chart on each learning goal and how many kids got them, walked around and got my check out signatures, took a walk out to the mala to see what we need to do out there (lots - the dirt is mostly cinder and the compost "bins" are a wreck), had my lunch and then pretended to work on more word root tutorials while waiting for grade check sheets and my son who was coming to help me stack boxes of books. 

I fully intended to go back to the elliptical machine, but the weather was so nice, I just decided to go home and walk.  Then I went to the Farmer's Market and proposed to my regular, favorite vendor that I bring her eggs and we trade.  She looked me straight in the eye and said, "You bring only to me; no go anybody else!"  I thought, "I need to get more chickens."  I really like Lily - I buy $20-$30 worth of stuff from her once a week and when I get home, she's put a few extras.  Today it was a couple of really ripe tomatoes, green onions, cilantro, a few extra cucumbers and some more tat soi - I think it was that I told her that my family is coming and my kid was graduating.  (I still can't say that word without tearing up - what the heck is wrong with me????) 

My mom and stepdad and daughter are stepping off the plane about now.  I need to go down and start cooking dinner.  The house still has the end of the school year piles - a pile of my books for my tutorials, a pile of binders and leftover binder paper (I swear there is more there than I actually bought in the beginning of the year - but I did over do it last August).  My mom is just going to have to forgive me :). 

I didn't actually go for that walk - my husband was watching a movie so I sat and watched the end.  I am going to have to get up early tomorrow and walk before it is time for the Baccalaureate.  It's a full day - Baccalaureate, lunch with the headmaster, graduation itself, the whole lei thing.  For those of you not familiar with Hawaii customs - kids get lei, lots and lots of lei.  I think when I graduated I had a slit for my eyes - I had haku on my head and lei up to my nose.  This year flower lei are quite expensive, so I bought candy lei for my son to distribute and a couple to give away to my two favorite (besides my son) boys in the Senior class - the arranged the whole 3 visit rotation to the Veteran's Home and coached the Freshmen in hula and mele.  There  are also the balloons and usual graduation kinds of things.  I will take pictures, I promise - I will even post a few.

Well, off to cook up my Farmer's Market bounty.  My daughter will be here in less than an hour!  There I go, tearing up again.  I swear something is wrong with me.  I am a faucet these days.  

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Good Morning!

Got up half an hour earlier (3:45 instead of 4:15) to get my son to the airport.  So I was at my desk by 5:15. 

Who knew sunrise over school could be so great?!

It actually was great - my phone camera is not the best.  You'll have to extrapolate a little.  Now I am off to see if the athletic facilities are open.....  Have a good day, everyone! 

Wednesday, May 23, 2012


The last day is finished - of course, I still have grading, organizing, cleaning, planning for next year and stuff like that...but part of my brain is already dreaming of summer.  I always make ridiculous goals for myself and if I accomplish half of them, I am pretty stoked. 

Here's this year's list:

  • Sew a little more of that darned Hawaiian Quilt Pillow- I'd like to get the applique bit done. (HA!) 
  • Get to the point where I can run 5 miles without walking (Probable HA!)
  • Expand the garden to twice its current size, add compost and plant, plant, plant  
  • Fill in gaps in greenhouse and clean out old non-productive plants  
  • Plant a field of mangelwurzel in the front by the arena
  • Pull the kalo and replant - possibly in the back so the sheep can weed the darn mala - or double plant with uala (sweet potato) in between to suppress weeds. 
  • Clean and organize all the closets and cupboards 
  • Clean and organize the basement library and old toy collections
  • Paint all the interior doors 
  • Learn to sew (this always makes my list and never gets done) 
  • Write 20 Root Word tutorials and load them on our school server  
  • Write the other 5 parts of speech tutorials and ditto  
  • Strip the animal stalls and put more cinder in them
  • Go to both of my PD opportunities (well, I don't have a choice to jettison this one) 
  • Finish the Building Healthy Soil Online Module for next year. 
  • Organize the paper work I have in crates - I got to separating categories at it's time to  finish.
  • Ride 4 times a week and get Gibby Crazy Horse less crazy 
So, yeah, I have 9 weeks of summer, two of which are spent out of town in work stuff, one of which will be spent joyfully with family coming out for graduation and at least 2 hours a day will be devoted to driving kids to summer athletics (XC practice and cheer practice) - anyone want to give me odds on how much of this list I will get done? 

If I were prioritizing, I would go with the Root Words and Building Healthy Soil online modules, because that's stuff for other teachers and the greenhouse stuff, the running, and then the garden and then the horse.  I know I should do the cleaning and organizing as top priority, but it isn't as fun - my 13 year old might do it.  She likes to do that kind of stuff which delights and baffles me.  She'll be extra motivated if I pay her in riding lessons, which will kill two birds with one stone. 

I just have to promise myself 2 hours a day on tutorials and other curriculum and 3 hours a day on the garden/greenhouse/animals and 1-2 hours a day on exercise and then I will make a dent in the list....

Monday, May 21, 2012


In a few short days, my second child will graduate and I will have completed that difficult first year in my new job.  For some reason, I think I am more aware of this graduation being a milestone than I was for my first child - I think I was as relieved as she was that she was getting out of the school she complained relentlessly about for the two years she was there (in spite of nearly all of her friends being from this school 2 years later).  Maybe it is because this is the halfway point as far as graduating kids goes - next year, I will only have two kids at home. 

School breaks mean time to switch hats, to put on the farmer hat.  I do have an actual farmer hat - it's a straw hat with a string and a little bead you can push up and down to keep it on - but I'm, of course, talking more metaphorically.  I have to stop thinking about assessments and learning goals and what to do for that kid who is lagging behind, and start thinking about garden plans, hoof trimming schedules, weeding, talking my husband into busting out the tractor to make me a BIGGER garden, you know - stuff like that. 

This summer is complicated by the fact that half of June will be spent on Professional Development stuff and the fact that I need to do a lot of curriculum work to prepare for next year - more than usual, but I am game to get back into things. 

Chicken notes:  I started throwing the little darlings a little more crumble and they rewarded me with a few more eggs - or at least laying them where I can find them.  We are back to the first remote nest (under the cat door to the basement - baffles me) and there were several eggs there yesterday.  I have been selling most of my eggs, so it was nice to have a two eggs for my breakfast this morning.   Judging by how much time they spend out in the pasture and the forest, I am sure there are more eggs to be found - but it's a big pasture and a complicated tangled forest.  I guess the pigs will get those eggs before I find them. 

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Thinking Like a Chicken

I can't figure out whether the hens are unreliable because they are fairly elderly (some of them are 2 years and a bit) or because they are being sneaky buggers and hiding the eggs.  So yesterday, I went on an egg hunt.  On an egg hunt, it helps to think like a chicken.

We use old coffee containers as feed scoops and egg totes, so I had one in my hand on my hunt.  The blue or red containers mean food to the sheep, chickens, and dogs - when any animal sees a coffee container, they come running.  As I made my chicken-thinking way around the garden, the greenhouse, the banana patch (noticing that my husband took out my lilikoi with the tractor - again), I gathered a lot of attention.  The entire flock was following me - the complete circle around the banana patch, through the taro mala, around the garden fence, through the citrus trees.  I told them, "If I were a chicken intent on laying my eggs where I wasn't supposed to - I would lay them in this little patch of trees - what is wrong with you hens?!"

The sheep then spied me through the fence and started up their baas and stampeding toward the pen.  The horses made their gentle, yet insistent whickers and Crazy Horse Gib nailed Ohia on his rump.  (I think that is the most movement Ohia gets every day in the daily "I'm-hungry-move" love tap from his pasture mate.

I was pleased to note that the newest little black ewe lamb got over her confusion - she still went to the horse stall first, but she figured out she was on the wrong side of the fence on her own.

Maybe the trick to getting everyone where they are supposed to be is a slow walk along the pasture fence with a brightly colored feed scoop!

Monday, May 14, 2012

Weather and This and That

And I had a good blog post in, nothing.

Due to a pressure system to the North-East of the Islands, we are having South-ish winds, which means a little vog and some sun.  Halemaumau Crater has a lava lake, although we went to see it and well, you can't see it.  All you can see is a huge plume of vog.  I am sure if we went at night, we could see it glow.  I did see the vent at Pu'u O'o fountaining from the top of my road, but it's several miles away, so I would need binoculars to see it clearly.   Fortunately, the wind is brisk enough to blow the vog farther up the chain - well, fortunate for me and my plants and not so fortunate for others in Hawaii. 

The sun seems to make the animals expansive.  Even Gibby Crazy Horse isn't quite as liable to shy violently when you put out your hand to pat his neck.  He even calmly ate several horse cubes from my hand and let me pet his nose and neck for quite a long time on Saturday.  For the sheep - or at least the youngest two lambs - "expansive" means shimmying under the fence to check out the neighbor's yard or our front yard.  Fortunately, they are getting better at remembering where the dips under the fences are so they can get back where they are supposed to be. 

However, by the time I went on my favorite walk (both Saturday and Sunday) the sun had gone behind the clouds and it was quite chilly.  A man stopped to laugh at (with?) me for walking, "You better hurry before it rains!"  I smiled and said, "I brought my jacket,"  but I was thinking,  "If I wait for there to be no rain, I would never do a thing!" 

This has been the weirdest year, weatherwise.  Usually in May it is really lovely making me want to be out in the garden and eager to plant more of everything.  This May, although it has been drier than the last 8 months or so, there are still unexpected downpours and quite chilly (mid 50s) days (at least up at our elevation). 

I dreamed last night of tsunami - which actually is a infrequently occurring recurrent theme in my nightmares.  I would think it comes from teaching in a school located in the tsunami zone during the 2004 Indonesian tsunami, except that I have had them since I was in high school.  Some of them are humorous in retrospect:  sitting on the Pali Lookout on Oahu and watching a B-movie type giant wave roll over my hometown,  running up the Pali Highway inches in front of a wave (the wave would have to be impossibly large to roll that far uphill),  waking up one morning to find that I now live on beachfront property (I am 2500 feet above sea level and miles and miles away from the shoreline). 

There was a tsunami warning when my oldest was a baby.  People took off from work and lined the Pali lookout and the H-3 freeway to watch for waves.  I think when the tsunami arrived it was all of 6 inches.  We did have a tsunami a couple of years ago - it was fascinating to watch the footage, although the waves weren't all that big - maybe a few feet.  We went down to Moku Ola, a little island beach park reached by a small bridge, the next day to find that the waves were, although small, quite powerful.  It's amazing to think of the 2 tsunamis that occurred in the 20th century (before I was born) - how powerful and how big compared to what damaged some of Coconut Island. 

I have no idea why I dreamed of tsunami last night - maybe it is the end of the school year rushing down on me. 

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Stronger Than Cancer

I know I have mentioned my daughter's friend who has bone cancer.  She appears in this video created in the Seattle Children's Hospital by a young film maker.  It's gone viral, and it is pretty uplifting for the kids and their families - so I thought I would help spread the word! 

Sunday, May 6, 2012

The Good, and The Stuff to Work On

I pulled the gray horse out yesterday, intending to get my daughter up on him.  I really have neglected teaching my own kids to ride, and this one wants to learn.  Part of it is never having a sound-headed or sound-footed horse for them - or an enclosed round pen or arena but part of it was not putting in the time. 

I thought if I could get her up on him on a lunge line, it would kill two birds with one stone.  He is learning to lunge, a little, to the left, but on his blind side, it is still pretty much a no go.  He is not a bucker, just a duck and skitter type, so if I had him on a lunge with her on him, he'd have a better idea of going in a circle instead of always trying to come to me. 

That was the idea, anyway.  I found out that he really does not want any one coming near him but me.  I can stand next to him and jump up and down and yell, "Boo!" and he's gotten the idea that he will not be moving away from that, at all.  But as soon as even she gets near the stirrup, he's skittering off sideways.  Every time he did it, I just kept him going in that sideways circle until he and I were pretty darned tired and finally he got to the point where she could jump up and down and hang on the stirrup.  I ran the rope around a pole and through the fence and wrapped it around the saddle horn so that every time he decided he'd pull back he actually got pulled forward and she could finally mount and be led around in a small area. 

I need a round pen.  This horse has been frightened and hurt and he's half blind in the right eye, which makes everything more difficult.  I had a feeling he'd be a one woman horse, and so far I am right.  He can tolerate me and will even come to me at the gate and blow in my hair, but he's not a trusting or trustworthy horse. 

On the other hand, I got a lot of digging done today - it's a good thing.  A few seedlings are popping up - mostly the collards and bok choy, a little bit of dill, and three cucumbers.  I weeded and dug up a part of the garden I hadn't gotten to, yet, and cleaned stalls and animal pens.  I have lentil and collard soup cooking in the crock pot and am about to head on down to pressure cook some beans for the week ahead. 

It's so nice, though - a perfect day (very rare this year), so maybe I can roust the family to go hiking at the Volcano National Park instead.  I still will need to cook the beans, boil the eggs and pay the bills, but I'd hate to waste the one rare beautiful day that is actually happening on a weekend when I am home. 

Friday, May 4, 2012

Canning Day

Last night I left a sort of wishy-washy message on a friend's machine, "I am thinking of canning sometime this weekend.  You said you wanted to come next time I did something.  I am thinking maybe tomorrow, maybe Saturday.  Kind of depends on the weather.  And how I feel.  And your schedule.  So, umm, call me."  She is just a bit over half my age, so I figured she'd be more flexible than many people. 

My husband told me I needed to be more specific - but I knew I didn't have to be.  She called in the morning, and it was cloudy and said she'd be over at 9:30.  So we chopped and peeled lemons and chopped various peppers.  I ended up with 8 cups of marmalade and 4 cups of pickled peppers (two all Jalapeno, two have some Hawaiian chili pepper, too and cilantro).  I wish I'd had more tomatoes - my salsa is good, if I do say so myself. 

Little De was inspired to bake cupcakes, so she whipped up some yummy chocolate cakes and a tasty but terribly runny frosting.  She misread the water - I told her to call it a glaze and let it be.  My kitchen smells good. 

Unfortunately, the propane tank ran out in the middle.  I had to move the whole operation out to the propane barbecue.  I would never do that if it were the pressure cooker, but I figured boiling was boiling.  I can always reprocess anything that doesn't seal, but so far most of the jars are popping closed. 

I sure wish we had decided to refill the first empty tank 6 months ago or so - instead of waiting for both tanks to empty.  I say "we" but it wasn't my idea.  I am just being nice....  I have no idea what to do for dinner now, since just about everything I have needs at least a little time on the stove top.  Neither of the two men able to actually lift the 90 lb propane tanks aren't home (my son and his dad).  I could take them to the little store around the corner, but the girl who fills them is even less able to lift them than I am - a 70 lb bag of feed is about my upper limit - I could get them filled, but then I couldn't get them in the car to get them home.  Fortunately, this is only a problem once a year or so. 

It's worth it, though.  Our county literally has the most expensive electricity in the nation - it is worth one day of frustration a year to have a propane cook top.  Hauling our own is cheaper than having the big Gas Company tank and having them fill it.  I guess it is part of doing for yourself, which is the goal around here.  I will find having to milk my own goats/cow and all that stuff a lot more work than going to the store, but it will be worth it.  (Notice how I phrased that as a "it will happen" statement.... I get a little impatient when I am told that "now's not the time for a dairy animal" all the time - even if he is right.  Someday, someday, someday). 

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Leap Frog Lambs (and Chickens)

Yesterday was the day for standing on someone else.  I know that isn't quite leapfrog, but that is what popped in my head.  I went out to find the little Calico ewe lamb from the last batch of triplets standing on one of last year's lambs.  He seemed pretty unconcerned - he is well over 200 lbs, so I can see why he didn't care.  I do notice that the lambs enjoy standing or laying on the back of the rams or wethers .  It must be more comfy than the ground and the ewes are relatively impatient with their offspring when it comes to feeding time. 

I did see all the lambs jumping from back to back of the adults - I remember doing that in the living room decades ago - playing with my sister that the ground was hot lava and you had to jump from couch to chair.  The adult sheep didn't seem the slightest bit concerned, in spite of the sharp little hooves. 

The chickens were just jumping on anyone - my shoulder, various sheep, the top of the gate.  I dislike chickens flapping at my face in hopes of getting the grain first, so that make me a bit cranky.  Nasty evolved dinosaurs giving me the stink eye with those sharp beaks near my eyes.  Yeah, not a fan of leap frog with chickens, by no means.  

As I look out at the sky through my office windows (it's lunch), I can see that there is a fair amount of vog.  Maybe we'll have some dry weather for awhile.  However, if I look the other way - up Mauka - the clouds are piling up.  I really, really, really want to get out in my garden.  I just found out I have an unexpected day off on Friday and a nice three day weekend gardening and canning sounds like a GREAT plan.  I have an abundance of jalapenos and lemons.  I was thinking my marmalade and trying to can some pickled pepper slices (not in the same jar, of course) would be just the thing. 

I will pray for your weather, if you will pray for mine!