Thursday, January 31, 2013

A Dog and Cat Story........

The cat was in the yard when Barney left the kitchen door.  The cat jumped up onto the top of the fence at the lower part and ran along it.  He walked up the incline and ended up onto of the post.

Barney's tail is waging back and forth as he has great joy in barking at cats. I had to go out and scare the cat off the pole so Barney would just give up and come inside.

The cat was raised with many dogs.  He comes over for free food at our side door.  He really isn't too worried about any real danger from being around Barney or he would have jumped down and left on the other side of the fence. Many times the cats from the neighbors seem to be more irritated with Barney barking rather than have any fear of him.  When Barney does get close to a cat, he just puts his nose on them to encourage them to run faster.

We are very cold this morning at 2 degrees F.  I can't imagine it getting colder but they keep telling us it will be colder.  It is misery to walk to the car and then from the car to the school.  Biting cold is the description some would use.  I am in the middle school English room today again.  I think I visited here last week sometime, I don't remember as it all runs together after a while.  Thanks for stopping by today.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

It Is A Colorful Day..........

I hope you hava lots of color in your life surrounding you to balance the dreary days of winter.  The shiny brite ornaments shine and the amaryllis continues to mature with full blooms.  The African violet seems to flourish in the winter with the cooler temps and the lesser bright light of the season.

Thanks for stopping by  my post today.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

I Use To Be A Potter......

As a teacher in the art classroom I needed to teach many different things.  The painting and the drawing are fun for me and I really did like teaching pottery.  This pot was a demonstration pot that I created on the potter's wheel.  It has red and white clay blended together and then was centered on the wheel.  Creating a bowl in the usual manner allowed the two colors of clay to show up in the piece.  Glazing it with clear glaze allows everyone to see the natural colors of the clay.

I am glad my wife enjoys seeing my pottery pieces as they are all over the house. Most of them are catch alls for pens and pencils or for loose items that need to be kept.  Two of the items in this photo are hand built, using the coil method.

There are many good potters out there who all have each their own style.   I admire a lot of different artist and try to collect mugs from some of them to help support them.  I would never dream of joining them to try to make money from the skill.   I actually think there are too many potters out there that the public is numb to see good or bad clay work.  I can see them walking by the booths without any interest at all.

The reason that I bring the whole subject to your attention is that this morning my janitor friends delivered an old potter's wheel to my house.  It was the one that I purchased with school money in 1976 when I first started teaching at this school.  Being that the wheel is 36 years old and is big and needs repair the art teacher wanted it out of her room.  I now have it.

It is a sit down type of wheel with a large kick wheel at its base with a motor contraption to power it.  It is so large that it really is dangerous for the students to crawl onto and then kick, getting their foot caught in it.  It works just fine for an adult or responsible student except all of the electrical switches and motor with drive shaft need to be replace. I considered it a liability in my later years teaching there and refused to let any students on it.  I would pile paper and clay boxes on it to keep them off of it.

It was given to me today.  I already have a kiln in storage in the garden shed and someday I will be back into business, creating with clay.  At my age and with the understanding of the market, my goal will be to make finely designed shaped pottery with minimal glazing.  I don't see in the future when this will even happen but I do now have a wheel.

Thanks for stopping by my post today.

Monday, January 28, 2013


My bridge looks like it is a untraveled.  Barney sometimes crosses over it but if he is in a hurry he goes around the pond.  The pond has been a pain to maintain after so many years so I am planning to turn it into a bog garden.  That means bringing in more wheel barrows of dirt from my dirt pile.

The yucca survives all the different winter conditions of Iowa.  The original plant died out and was dug out but the roots that remained redeveloped.  I have yet to see blooms on it even though the neighbors across the street blooms every summer.

The juniper berries are plentiful this winter.  I guess the spotty rains helped it out and also the eaves of the art gallery gave it a lot of runoff.  This juniper doesn't know that it will be gone in the next summer as it has become overgrown to be too large for the area that it was planted.  I have trimmed on it the past 20 years and it has become s mostly large set of branches now which doesn't make it out to be a good looking specimen.

This guy enjoys the fruit from the juniper bush.  Both he and the female spend a lot of time in the area.

Subbing today for s Special Ed. lead teacher today. It is wet and foggy outside today and not cold enough to freeze.  Thanks for stopping by today.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Sunday's Stuff

It seems to me that whomever was sitting in one of the chairs must have had an argument with the other person and left in a huff.

The oxalis are not liking this donkey's basket but they are still alive.  I posted a year ago when donkey was dropped and broken.  You can see he is back into action.  I maybe will get a vine for this guy and move the oxalis to some other container.

I took a lot of shots outside but it wasn't very pretty out there.  This bench looks cold sitting out there against a dead flower bed.  This area is in the shade all day so a lot of snow is still on the ground while other areas in my yard has green patches showing.

My final shot for today shows that the Japanese yew survived all that snow and ice from the last snow.  It had been smashed to the ground for weeks.  I was glad none of the branches of the yews and spirea didn't get broken. (finishing my blog today, Sunday)  It is again gently swaying down as the frozen water has put some weight on the branches.  We are getting a light drizzle and the temps are hovering at 31 degrees.

Churches were pretty much cancelled throughout the central Iowa area as the ground is coated with ice.  It isn't a thick layer but it doesn't take much to make a car go into the ditch or for a human to fall down while trying to walk on it.  Button was surprised by it and his backlegs went skidding outwards as he tried to walk on the patio covered with ice.

The birds would be eating but the feed is coated with a thin layer of ice so it seems difficult for them.  I think we might get a degree above freezing late this afternoon so things could improve a little.  I am going to sit in the dining room window as much as possible today and catch up on magazines and maybe a little computer stuff.

Thanks for stopping by today.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Inside Stuff.......

It is warming up some today.  It will be warm enough to cause freezing rain by tomorrow morning.  By the weather map our area of the state is suppose to have a mild storm and the area east of us which is one county over, they are under severe storm warning.  I wonder if the storm fromt checks and follows the map from the tv weather forecasts.  We will wait and see how accurate their divisional lines are marked.

The back lighting doesn't let you see how far the amaryllis has developed but I have lots of color showing today.  I will be capturing shots this afternoon.  The brick in the photo is the item that my outside basement door lands when the door is opened.

I am being a lazy guy today.  I had a long difficult week at school and I just need to rebuild my body and mind today.  I have some small jobs I might try to do but putting seed in the feeders is fun and taking photos is a fun job too.

Thanks for stopping in today.  I check my stats and see that there are a lot of you out there that stop in each day.  More  of you are out there than I had imagined.  I hope I don't get too boring and dull after while. When I start to get boring to myself, I try to shake it off and get out of the rut and find new things somewhere out there to share.   I will try to keep a variety show and tell going here and I appreciate you taking time to stop in to this blog.  Take care.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Mercury Comet.....1966.

I was putting away Christmas decorations and looked over at the old toy boxes.  I notice that my model of the 1966 Comet was in the box.  The hood is gone or buried in among other things.

I was in my sophomore year in high school and cars really were my fascination.  The designs of cares evolved so quickly during those years as they would retool their designs every two to three years.  For Ford and Mercury they were always messing with the lights placing them side by side and then vertically for a couple of years.  I believe it was 1966 when all Ford products had the vertical headlights.

I have long since given up on the car fascination and I learned that they cost money.  But somehow the designs and shapes of them have stayed in my brain.  I watch today's designers create ugly vehicles and wonder who want to drive something that looks horrid.  I also see good classic designs when the form does follow the function.   The roof lines of this car have come back.  You can see the similar design on foreign makes right now and even some of the american brands.

I have just read that this design is actually the third generation of redesigning the comet.  It had a history of becoming a part of the Edsel line and also came from the falcon line.  The historians say that it was tossed into the Mercury division where it lasted a couple of years. 

I pulled this off the web to show you what the real car looked like.  I don't know the engine size but I think the 289 engine was offered with this car.

The model of the engine looks like this car should be place in the dump.  Apparently I have lost a few of the silver decorations on the motor.

Bottom view with the 1966 molded into the models bumper.  This blog is the balance for all those who saw my cup and sauce blog recently.  I found another model of another Mercury vehicle yet to show in another blog.  It too was another car that I dreamed to have when I grew up.  That car was not made for only a few years also.

Freelancing in the morning at school and I will be a science teacher again this afternoon with four straight classes.  The weekend is here and I am glad.  We seem warmer out there today and yet freezing rain is promised by Sunday. I just looked and we are sitting at 18 degrees F.  That is a heat wave for us.   Thanks for stopping by today.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Thursday's Things........

The scene is in glass and it is on a pedestal dish that we received as a gift years ago.  It is nicely decorated with the winter scene and the Santa hanging ornaments on a tree.

The little dog in this piece always makes us think of Button but he would never allow us to drape anything on him.

The angel tree sits in the dining room out of the way so it doesn't seem strange to have it up until now.  It is coming down today.  We started removing ornaments from it last night and we will finish it off in a hurry  today.

The village seems to be a good decoration for all of winter.  We won't take it down until we tire of it. I see there is a leaning tree on it but otherwise it looks good.  I really enjoy the way these buildings are created with all the scenes of the store set up for the view to see in the window.

I moved from middle school English to middle school history.  It is American History, Geography, and World History at the tree different grade levels that I will be working with today.

I survived a check up at the dentist yesterday.  I didn't feel too beat up from the check up and yet my teeth all seem super sensitive today.  I guess the polishing process does a number on each tooth making its nerve endings to react to the treatment.

Our weather continues as so does everyone else's.  I would like a warm up for a brief period just to feel more alive.  The cold tends to keep one restricted from being outside and also makes the heat bill increase each day.  The shock of cold air is not something one gets use to unless you overdress with many layers of clothes.

Thanks for stopping by today.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Greenwood Tree.......

Those who have followed me a long time can just click off of here if your are tired of the old man teacup story.   The rest of you I will share about finding a plate, a dessert plate, at a flea market in Silver Bay, Minnesota.  I bought it for fifty cents because the decoration on the plate was so neat.  I later found out it was bone china from England and it made the plate a mystery of how or who would own dishes like this in northern Minnesota.  The stencil design was a fascination to me as it was created to look hand painted. I think it is a part of my hoarding addiction that caused me to buy it in the first place.  I like the art part of it for sure.

A few years later I did an eBay search just to see what was out there and I found people and businesses selling the china one piece at a time.   The cup was a sissy like thing but I thought it would be neat to own the cup and saucer of it along with the dessert plate that I already had.  The hoarding thing again I am sure. It cost me more than fifty cents for those two pieces.

As I was messing around the buffet putting Christmas things away, I decided to take one more shot of the painted scenes.  This time around I realized the stencil transfers are not the same.  They are reversed in composition and also they are not the same landscape.  I won't buy any more of it and in fact, as the prices keep rising on them, I might resell the three of them for the big prices I see on eBay.

I am an English teacher today.  Reading from books to the kids and having them do quizes or journaling.  The kids like it when the teacher is away so my challenge is to keep some serious pace of learning going on throughout the day. Thanks for stopping by today.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Sepia, Black and White......

I played with iPhoto yesterday to see what I could do to create some sepia photos. I worked with transferring some into black and whites also.   This bale of cornstalks really turned out to be a great photo in sepia, showing great subtle contrast and the composition happened to be a good one to make it into a classic shot.

As a footnote to the cornfield shot, my neighbor received double her rent this year on this 13 acre field as the farmer made 123 bushels an acre and also could sell the bales for a lot of money. The farmer was a honest man as some probably some would have just stayed with the original rental deal.

The photo of the neighbors two trees laden with ice and snow worked well in becoming a sepia shot.  I like again how the values are warm and the contrast are so great with this photo. Color is great but for some reason one is able to break things down into more patterns of shapes and different kinds of valued forms.

The same shot in black and white gives a different feeling, making the snow look cold, which it is.  When I took this shot I had to wade out into foot drifts or taller and the snow would go down into my shoes.  I could see the cold snow and I actually could feel it too.

The day will be busy being a middle school science teacher.  We have sort of cold day today. It is all relative to where you live.  Our cold was about 1 degree F. this morning and I think we are going to get up to 10 degrees F.  later.  Now that it has moved into the eastern states and somewhat south the news is going to cover it.  My sympathies go out to those in the Dakotas and Minnesota.  It has to be really unbearable to be outside.

Thanks for stopping by today.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Inside, Outside......

The dining room registers a temperature around 69 degrees daily unless the wind is blowing and then we set up the thermostat to compensate for the cool regions in the house.  Outside right now the begonia is viewing a -6 degrees, F.  The begonia wouldn't last 15 minutes outside with it being so much like a water plant with delicate leaves.  The furnace is drying out things a lot so I keep watering by need and not by a schedule.  Every five days seems to keep things from wilting.  The humidifier is not keeping up with the furnace's work but it does help a little with it being near the plants.

My goldfish sit on a table near my computer and they are hungry as you can see. They are begging for food.  Every time I sit down at the computer they check me out to see if I could overfeed them and make their tank cloudy.  They don't mind cold weather as they live in an unheated tank and they just adjust to whatever temp they are in at the time.

I have been again experimenting to get clear photos of my fish and it doesn't happen unless they are in a motionless state.  That happens only at night when the lights go out. I will post a differnt photo tomorrow on my Photo a Day blog but they still are not perfectly clear and any one of the three fish will be moving.

I temporarily set this feeder on top of my two tiered feeder.  It was because it was so cold and I could fill it faster, sit it up there and then hurry back into the house.  I see the gusty winds last night dashed it to the ground.  Now because of my saving time episode I will have to find more time to repair it as the bottom of it was broken off of it during its landing on the patio. You can see we did have about 2 inches of snow or more.

The birds were on the ground this morning circled around it enjoying the mountain of seed.  I am sure the rabbit and squirrels will be glad that it happened.   I have a short tailed squirrel that seems to be hitting it early morning or late afternoon while Barney is having his afternoon nap.

It is slow going at school today with the staff and the students.  The extreme cold and windchill tends to shock the body and slow it down.  I bought gas for the car yesterday afternoon and the material of my slacks was stiff as if it were frozen while I stood out there pumping gas.  I litterally shook from the coldness and my teeth chattered.

I am a librarian again today which is a nice postion to have on a Monday. I catch up on my reading and juggle the confusing class attendance lists trying to figure out who is suppose to be here on Day 1 and who is actually a floating senior with open campus, and who is actually just absent for the day.

Thanks for stopping by today and stay warm.

Sunday, January 20, 2013


In 2009 the movie "UP" was released by Disney and from all of the different trailers we had seen back then, my wife and I both wanted to see it.  Yes it is a digitally created cartoon and we did finally watch the movie three years later.  One of our sons and his wife gave us a six month membership to Blockbuster and we rented UP.  We are going to use the gift to catch up on all the movies that we wanted to see or the ones that we wanted to see again.  When we see a good movie, and there are few in our judgement, we try to go back and see them again in the theater.  We are amazed at what we didn't see while watching the movie again.

"UP'" really was written for an adult audience and had enough action to draw kids into the show.  The house being lifted up from it's foundations by hundreds of helium filled  multi colored balloons tickles the imagination and makes it fun to see.  The story itself can be actually sad as it is based on the older gentlemen losing his wife in which he wanted to have more adventures with in his life. He grasps for solution as old age sits in and is forced to relate to a young boyscout and a dog to find new meaning and purpose in life.  Mr. Carl Fredrickson and Russell become friends by necessity and Dug the dog joins the family.

Wikipedia is an amazing site when it shares all the background to the story of the movie and what  meaning was blended into the movie.  I know many educators tell students to never use Wikipedia because it can't be trusted. Those who contribute to it really do give valuable source information in a great structure  and clearly explained.

As I peck this out we have snow falling to the ground.  We are suppose to have cold for the week and it is said to be the coldest in a two year history at this time of the year.  We will venture out for church soon and we will have to wear lots of layers to keep warm.  I hope all of you have a good day.

Thanks for stopping by today.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

LIfe and Death on the Prairie

I seldom do a book review and this really isn't one because I have not read the whole book.  I skimmed it and looked at all the pictures. The book is by Stephen Longmire and I found it at my favorite bookstore.  It is a fascinating book about a cemetery and the prairie.  

The photos and the narrative is about the prairie cemetery in Rochester, Iowa.  The photos are beautiful, depicting a place where people have been buried since the mid 1800's.  Those who are in charge have struggled to keep parts of the cemetery in its natural state of wild flowers.  It is an active cemetery yet today with recent burials.

Large portions of it have been allowed to grow up with natural plants every summer. Photos show that the area is covered with older  oak trees. .  It is an amazing sight. The number of varieties of wild plants are in the hundreds and when you view the older parts of the area the very old stones project up out of the natural growth.  The newer part is mowed. From some of the information that I gleaned, it is a rare location full of so many varieties of natural plants and yet there is a continue conversation going on by some to get it to be all mowed.

It has been a late blog from me again on Saturday.  Thanks for stopping by my post.

Friday, January 18, 2013


Standing guard over the living room our soldier seems in a daze. He seems to be a replica of a nutcracker and yet he looks just like a soldier to the most part.  We are having warm weather again today and maybe more of the snow will be gone.  I have just edges of snow on the roof with ice buildup but I think this days warmth will send it on its way.

Our kids when young would play with this jet at grandma's house.  I couldn't toss it so here it is.  I don't think it has any electrical problems like the 787's  but it does need batteries so it can make it's landing sound when you push the button.

I found this archived photo of these marbles that I had found in my parents basement area.  It reminded me of my yesterday's blog with my mind going on vacation.  The marbles are always a fascination to me as they can be dated by how they were made.  I remember reading about people finding them on the shoreline along the east coast where they had been on ship wrecks in the harbors and they would wash ashore years later after the sinking of the ship.

I am doing various jobs today at school and am very interested in have the weekend start. We have no plans and that is chance to get a little rest.  Thanks for stopping by today.