Monday, October 26, 2015

Why There's Not an Utterly Fantastic Blog Today

The greatest pictures
From a fantastic weekend...
Now where's the camera?

{Insert picture of me scratching my head in consternation.}

Trunk-or-Treat, costumes
No pictures to help me boast
'bout all our awards!

I did my homework,
But now I can't turn it in.
Where is that camera?

I know I had it all the way to the end of the Trunk-or-Treat...
Did I leave it in the car? 
In the parking lot? 
Is it in a pocket? 
Is it in one of the kids' rooms?
Where on earth could it be?????
I'm going to be really, really upset if it doesn't turn up in the next day or two.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Rainy Day Memories

As Peter and I huddled under my big blue and white umbrella on our way through the pouring rain to school this morning, a long suppressed memory surfaced in my mind.

Thirty years or so ago, when I was a little girl growing up in Goleta, California, it seemed like when it rained, it really poured. I remembered my mom dropping my older sister and me off at school on rainy days. (Most days, we walked to school.) We rushed through the crowded parking lot, dodging cars, people, and raindrops as we hurried to the entrance to the multipurpose room (Cafeteria/ Gym/ Auditorium) where we were to wait until school would begin.

The multipurpose room was always crowded and humid. The hard floor would be wet, slippery and often muddy. The room would be packed with hundreds of children of all ages clustered together, talking and laughing, playing games, sometimes throwing balls or paper airplanes. It was incredibly loud and chaotic. With so many people, the room soon became sweltering hot and smelled of sweat and mildew. Usually feeling overwhelmed, I would try to find a corner somewhere with space enough to breathe. Finally a bell would ring and we would line up and follow our teachers back out into the cool, clean rain on our way to our classrooms.

Unlike here in Colorado, where schools are all enclosed in one large building, my elementary school was laid out in groups of smaller hexagonal shaped buildings linked by covered walkways. Each building was called a pod, and was specified by a letter. (You can imagine the jokes about having to go to Pod E.) Each pod contained three classrooms, usually all of one grade. The younger grades, 1st through 3rd, were grouped together with covered walkways between them, and the older grades, 4th through 6th, were grouped together. But it was impossible to get from the lower grade group of buildings to the upper grade buildings, or to any of the classroom buildings from the administration building - where the multipurpose room was, without dashing through open space unprotected from the pouring rain.

After school when it was raining, there was always the concern: would Mom come pick us up? Or should we start walking home in the rain? I remember sometimes going to the office and waiting in the long line for the single public phone there to call home and ask for a ride. Other times I would bundle in my jacket and start home, and would occasionally be pleasantly surprised to find our family car parked at the end of a cul-de-sac that abutted the bike path that I followed home. I imagine picking us up at the path was a lot easier than trying to battle the crowds of cars that would have been tying to get in and out of the school parking lot.

As a little child, rainy days at school meant noise and crowds. Rainy days at home meant playing in the huge puddle that accumulated in the curve of our driveway. It meant splashing and fun. Now, I much prefer staying indoors, curled up with a good book while listening to the patter of rain on the patio roof.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Photography Class

Leaves carpet the lawn;
A cool breeze brings gentle rain.
Fall enters stage left.
I've been taking a photography class over the last month or so. It's an online course through the local community college, with classes twice a week for six weeks. I've learned a lot about how to use my little point-and-shoot camera in ways I hadn't realized it was capable of. Hopefully some of the pictures I post here will be improved in some ways as I practice the skills I've been learning.

The class has also greatly increased my desire to acquire an SLR camera sometime in the future. It's frustrating to finally have some understanding of what f-stops and shutter speeds are supposed to do and have no way to get experience using them. 

Meanwhile, I do have a camera, and it works fine for now. I am grateful that I have it, and that I have the chance to take this class which has taught me how to better use it.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Court Of Honor October 2015

Saturday afternoon we attended a court of honor during which both John and Josh received awards. 

John received his Star rank advancement, and a whole bunch of merit badges.

 Joshua received his Tenderfoot, Second Class and First Class Rank advancements. He also received nine merit badges.

Good job boys!

Webelos Walkabout

This summer, the Boy Scouts of America changed the Cub Scouting program. They got new books, new requirements, new awards. This was about the same time that Peter turned 10 and joined the Webelos Den of which I'm the Den Master. We currently only have two boys, Peter, and his friend Brian.

Since June, we've completed Cast Iron Chef (cooking), First Responder (1st Aid), Stronger Faster Higher (Fitness), and this past month our project was Webelos Walkabout (Hiking). To complete this achievement, we went on a 3 mile hike on Saturday.

We met at our house and packed lunches and trail mix. Then we piled into the car and drove to the Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge.
Peter was the trail leader, so he had the papers with the trail map.
We parked in the parking lot by the Visitor's Center, then hiked the Legacy Trail around Lake Mary and back. We ate our lunch at a picnic table near Lake Mary, and picked up some trash around the picnic area.
The boys take a brief rest during the hike.
Lake Mary
Along the way we saw an incredibly fast caterpillar, a prairie dog, four bison, ants, beetles, grasshoppers, dragonflies, birds, a crawdad and a fish.
There was a telescope near the Visitor's center.
Back at the Visitor's Center, we got to see a black footed ferret, and, as it was National Wildlife Refuge Week, there were a bunch of outdoor exhibits and activities. The scouts got to help put together the bones of a bison like a puzzle.
The scouts putting together the bison bone puzzle

It was a fun adventure, and I think the boys really enjoyed it.