Sunday, June 27, 2010

Science, art & human perception

Finished week 1 at the Exploratorium Teacher Institute, and I am loving it so far! Some highlights from class...we dissected a cow's eye, which was huge!

Cow's eye
Googly eye

I vaguely recall a cow's eye dissection in elementary school, but do not remember the details. (Let's not think about what this says about the effectiveness of my chosen profession.) Did you know there is a beautiful iridescent blue surface that looks almost like an abalone shell at the back of a cow's eye? It's the tapetum, a reflective surface at the back of the eyes of crepuscular and noctural animals. So amazing! There were other cool projects during the week...including making a record player with just a pencil, straight pin, and a piece of paper wrapped into a cone...I'm still in awe that it works!

Each day the teachers have a few hours of project time for exploring, and a few hours of class time. On the first couple of days, I wandered around the museum during my project time, trying out exhibits, as well as observing children and adults interact with the exhibits. Drawing Board, the exhibit I remember most from a childhood field trip, is still one of the most popular. And it was still fascinating for me to watch beautiful spirograph-like patterns created by the swinging motion of the weighted wood table. I also started a project in the machine shop and did a bit of exploring in the library...so much good stuff!

One afternoon I encountered this sign...

Pie workshop
They're eating pie in there!

I need to find out how to get invited to the pie workshop. Hmmm....

A big challenge for the summer was getting over my fear of biking in San Francisco traffic. My plan was to commute by bike, since riding Muni would take forever, especially with recent changes in service (i.e. less service), and not having a car. On the recommendation of my friend Jessica, I took a (free!) two-part urban cycling workshop earlier in the month, and it helped me so much. I highly recommend the workshop to everyone...in fact, I think all motorists should take the first part of the workshop! I also used SF BikeMapper to plan my route, which is 6.7 miles each way! I biked three times during week 1 (slowly) and had lots of sore muscles, but hopefully strength is building. Wish me luck for week 2!

Friday, June 18, 2010

Looking for waterfalls

Dan and I took Arrow on a little camping trip before I start the Summer Teacher Institute at the Exploratorium next week. After a very long drive, we arrived at McArthur-Burney Falls Memorial State Park, where I heard the thundering sound of millions of gallons of water falling as we checked in with the ranger at the park entrance. According to the park brochure, Theodore Roosevelt called Burney Falls a wonder of the world when he saw it...I do not know if that is true, but the falls are truly spectacular.

Rainbow in Burney Falls
Can you see the rainbow?

Many rainbows can be seen as water falls into the pool below...so beautiful! Dan and I hiked the loop trail, admiring the waterfalls from various perspectives and saw the creek that feeds it. Photos do not capture the experience of being there...you should go if you have not seen it!

Dan on the falls trail
Dan on the trail

Carol on the falls trail
On the trail

In the afternoon, we took the canoe and paddled on Lake Britton, where we saw a bald eagle and golden eagle! Later, a park ranger told us about Clark Creek Falls, another waterfall on the other side of the lake, so we paddled across the lake again the next day to look for it. We found a creek and walked along it for a bit, but after crossing the creek once already, the "trail" ended. The prospect of crossing the creek another time where the (very chilly) water rushed by quickly seemed too precarious for me. The spot where the creek fed into the lake was very pretty, dotted with wildflowers and butterflies flitting about...even if I am not sure if it was the right place!

Wildflowers & Lake Britton
Idyllic spot

Dan & Arrow
Getting back to the canoe

From Burney, we made our way to Lake Lewiston in Shasta-Trinity National Forest. After surveying the available campsites, we chose site #6 by the water.

Getting ready to canoe
Campsite #6

After setting up camp and unloading the canoe, we had dinner with my friend Caille and her husband Marc at Jack's Grill, an old school steakhouse in Redding. The restaurant was so dark, I could barely see! But the food was yummy, and Dan wants to go back. Caille and Marc took us to the Sundial Bridge after dinner. We saw a bald eagle soaring in the sky over the Sacramento River as we walked across the bridge...wow!

Sacramento River view from Sundial Bridge
Sacramento River at dusk

On the Sundial Bridge
Look out for the orange cone

Sundial tip
Sundial tip

The bridge really is a sundial...so neat. And there are miles and miles of hiking and biking trails along the Sacramento River...want to check that out on our next visit.

The next morning we paddled on Lake Lewiston, looking for birds and beavers on the quiet lake surrounded by the snow-capped peaks of the Trinity Alps. Arrow napped in the sun while we paddled.

Canoeing on Lake Lewiston
Pretty view from the canoe

Arrow sunning in the canoe
Napping beagle

In the afternoon, we hiked the trail to Whiskeytown Falls, a long and impressive waterfall. We climbed the steps alongside the fast rushing water to get a better view.

Fast moving water
Part of the falls

Dan, Arrow & Carol at Whiskeytown Falls
On top of the stairs

Carol & Arrow at Whiskeytown Falls
Posing with beagle

The mosquitos were in full force when we returned to camp, and I had to admire the lake view from our tent. I still am covered in itchy bites...bleh! After dark we toasted marshmallows over the fire and looked at the stars in the sky. Dan even set up the Galileoscope, a simple telescope I assembled from the Chabot Space Center, but we couldn't really see much with it. Maybe I should read the directions...hmm....

In the morning we packed up camp while Arrow sunbathed.

Camping beagle
It's a tough life

Before heading home, we met up with Caille one more time in Redding, where I got the largest single scoop of ice cream I have ever seen! I should have taken a picture before I gobbled it up. Then it was time for the long drive home. California is a very big state, and I am glad I got to see new parts of it on this trip!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

The year so far

Summer vacation is here, hooray! Today I had a delightful fancy lunch with two of my favorite ladies to kick off the summer...the Dine About Town menu at Spruce was quite yummy.

What else has been going on this year?

In late January, the chickies began laying eggs. Dan discovered the first egg, laid by Henrietta, the Rhode Island Red.

The first egg
Little brown egg

By February, all the girls were laying eggs of pretty colors. Rosie and Poppy, the Ameraucanas, lay blue-green eggs. Goody, the Buff Orpington, laid pale (buff) eggs. As the daylight hours increased, egg production went up as well...the eggs got bigger too!

Eggs
Egg color palette

To ring in the year of the tiger, Dan and I took Arrow to Lake Tahoe for some relaxing, cross country skiing, and playing in the snow. My brother and Margi joined us for part of the time.

North shore
North shore

Carol & Arrow
On the cross country ski trail

Pi Day was celebrated in March with four kinds of pie: blueberry pie, coconut cream pie, lemon meringue pie, and s'more pie. Dan and I attended Steven and Lisa's wedding at the end of the month, and I made cupcakes for the reception.

Cupcakes at Steven & Lisa's wedding
Wedding cupcakery

In April, Dan and I took Arrow camping in Big Sur, part of Marie's birthday celebration. We went to a beach with purple sand, the wildflowers were blooming, and we saw sea otters. I want to go back.

Violet sand
Purple sand at Pfieffer Beach

Pacific Ocean
Coastline

Sunset at dinner
Sunset view from the campsite

Wildflowers & the Pacific
Wildflowers in Ventana Wilderness

At the end of the month, I hosted a baby shower for twin mommies-to-be. Bibs have been made for recently-arrived and on-the-way babies. Very exciting...so many babies!

Strawberry cupcakes for baby shower
Baby shower cupcakes in progress

Pepper favors for baby shower
Pepper-themed shower favors

May was sibling graduation month. Johnny graduated from medical school...my brother is a doctor! Then Katie graduated from college...my sister is a super star! And I got to visit an Ivy League school. One day in late May, Goody "the most beautifulest chicken" died suddenly. Dan and I were shocked by her death. He sent her to UC Davis for a necropsy, but the results were inconclusive. She had signs of visceral gout, but nothing infectious. We are monitoring the diet of the three other hens carefully and making sure they have plenty of water to drink.

Goody
Good bye, Goody

In between, there was teaching, book clubs, girls nights, walks with the beagle, raising silkworms, and all the other things that make up life. My first challenge this summer is to get over my fear of riding my bike in the city and conquer the roads of San Francisco...wish me luck!