My summer!

I don’t spend all summer at school, you know! This year I am trying something new…nature photography from my little boat.

AND, before you can get mad at me for not wearing a life vest, I want you to know I have one now and I do wear it. This boat is made for fishermen. It is easy to get right up to the shore when I spot a flower, then I step out, and click away.

I am in love with my new pontoon boat. I was saving money for a new laptop but then we stopped in at Cabella’s (a sport supply store like Disneyland in Michigan!) and I left with this boat:-)

Cardinal Flower

This is a Cardinal Flower. Hummingbirds are said to love it (they investigate anything that is red, including bottle tops!). It grows right along the edge of ponds and streams.

Did you know there are clams in fresh water? I really never thought about it and always associated clams with ocean clam flats. This big one was just floating in the water so I think it was dead….but I put it back in case it was just going “walkabout”.

IRS scarecrow sculpture


[kml_flashembed movie="" width="400" height="326" wmode="transparent" /]

I made this for the Woodstock CT Fair’s 2006 scarecrow competition. I think it was too scary though. My theme was “Leave your troubles behind and go to the Fair!”

What was expected (I quickly learned) was a cheery scarecrow with gingham and smiley pleasant demeanor. Mine looked pretty weird sitting in the line up of happy scarecrows!

The lesson to be learned here is that you should take into consideration what the judges are looking for if you want to win a contest….but if you want to just have fun and do your own thing then do whatever you feel like. Only don’t be surprised when you don’t win!!

It is made from a shin bone, a disk harrow, seagull feather, old Edgeworth tobacco tin and a variety of springs, with a hose clamp for the bow tie and curtain hook things for his pince-nez.

Cow barn…Guernsey? Woodstock Fair, CT 2006

[kml_flashembed movie="" width="400" height="326" wmode="transparent" /]
The cow barns and other animal barns have been rebuilt recently. The fair is tidy feeling, and clean…with just enough oddball stuff and old funky buildings to keep it real.Do you see the cow chewing? She is chewing her cud. A cud is a wad of grass that she ate earlier in the day. It had been kept in her first stomach for awhile, then passed to her second stomach where it got softened up even more and formed into lumps called cuds. Later when she felt relaxed and lays down she will “burp” it up to have a second chew. Then she will swallow it and it goes to her third stomach and on to the fourth!!!All these stomachs are needed because grass is really hard to digest. We can’t digest it. Animals called ruminants can. Ruminants are cows and sheep and goats and camels. There are probably more but I can’t think of them right now. (Look it up!)

Now you know why I say you look like you are chewing your cud when I catch you chewing gum in art class…

Woodstock Fair 2006 Duck or Goose

[kml_flashembed movie="" width="400" height="326" wmode="transparent" /]
I forget what this is! Big duck? Little Goose? Whatever it is you see it doing the water bird thing of getting some waterproofing oil from the gland at the base of its tail then applying it to its breat feathers. Waterbirds take a lot of time in the day to keep their feathers in good codition. It is a matter of life or death!

Cool chicken at the Woodstock CT Fair 2006

[kml_flashembed movie="" width="400" height="326" wmode="transparent" /]
I took zillions of photos and movies at the Woodstock Fair to share with students when we do projects that could use some reference materials.
I live near the Fairgrounds and go there often over the 4 days of the Labor Day long weekend.

Animation fascination…

DARN THINGS DON”T MOVE IN THE BLOG!…….sigh……I’ll stick in links to go to them.

A colleague asked if I wanted to teach an after school club with her on claymation (or maybe any sort of animation) next year and I said ‘uh…sure.”

Then I started looking into super simple ways to do it. Not much to it at that level that any obsessive-compulsive person couldn’t do. It seems mostly a matter of taking the time to do it. I did a little one to see how fast you could crank one out. Then I forgot to pay attention to the time.

I had a real use for one when I wanted to advertise a antique outboard meet so I went to Google Maps and screenshot a bunch of maps of
Tomahawk, Wisconsin…
both the satellite and regular street maps.. and did these.


I’m afraid this will get a bit hectic with both on the same page…but you can scroll one out of sight.

Then I started doing another one for my squirrel fixated friend… I took a screen shot of the process to scare off any wimps who don’t want to put the time in. This image is interesting perhaps, as you can see what my computer world consists of …I am there when I am working on the computer as totally as I am in my garden when I am pruning.

I made the sketch, scanned it, touched it up in Photoshop then repeatedly began to SAVE AS and each time I increased the canvas size with the image centered. This “moves” the squirrel. When I have done a zillion of them I will go back and make them all the same size by selecting CANVAS SIZE again but this time select the hard left option.

I want this little dude to zip in from the left and go off the right of my friend’s web page. I assume there is an easier way…there always is. Like Flash… But this is practice for that animation club.

Simple minded process that is so satisfying when it is done…
…sort of the “it’s ALIVE!” thing.

CLICK the following hollow looking bar…” border=”0″ alt=”” />

Summer blogging…

I’m blogging…it must be summer.

Just to get back into the swim of things I’d like to share this photo with you.

My neighbor, Gordon, brought me a bluefish.

When I was cleaning it I noticed the ad on the newspaper laid out on the counter was doing funny things with my fish!  This photo is sort of a collage…since glueing a dead fish to the newspaper wouldn’t be archivally sound!

Dinner was a summer feast…fresh bluefish, with just picked green beans and tomato, followed by vanilla ice cream topped with raspberries from Rachel the Goat Lady.


The pleasure of stacking wood…

From a giant, willy-nilly pile dumped by the wood dealer to this. Not only do I get my exercise shlepping it behind the house but as order appears I am filled with pleasure. I like finding the rarer pieces of golden birch, white birch and beech….their barks are so beautiful; the sour smell of oak; judging how dry a piece is as I heft it…feeling like a lottery winner if most of the wood feels light.

Many simple victories in one task. Order out of chaos. Preparing for the future. Piling stuff up that doesn’t fall down. It doesn’t get better than this.

Shopping At the Dump

Transfer station, actually. I love shopping at the transfer station’s “trade shack”. Here are some very popular finds that amuse my students.

This silly thing makes a high pitched wogga-wogga-wogga sound when you shake it. I find it a fine accompaniment to slide shows where it can emphasize points in my narrative….or give a rousing lizard cheer for someone who has made a good comment.

This is the “heads or tails machine”. It is one of three banks I found and fixed that no longer had the bank part. The delivery system fascinates kids as they watch their lunch money get carried through the gears and fall out the top.

This mechanism shoots out the velcro tipped tongue…need I say more?

Metal sculptures from India? Whatever they are, children find them interesting and examine them under our big magnifying glass.

Update: A helpful comment was left which said, “Those small statues look like opium weights from southeast asia. My parents had a couple sets when i was a kid. The figure with wings is a garuda and the other one is a temple dog. Opium weights usually come in sets of graduated sizes (like measuring spoons) for accurately weighing amounts. The opium trade started a long time ago in that part of the world, so those weights are basically folk art. It’s like finding an old tobacco barn in Virginia – just part of our world’s history.”