Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Wordless Wednesday: Blooming This Past Weekend

Tamarack (Larix laricina, or the American larch)
Also called hackmatack trees by the Abenaki

Wild Strawberry (Fragaria virginiana)
Native, produces small sweet berries

Coltsfoot (Tussilago farfara)
European import, one of the first spring flowers

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Monday, April 28, 2008

Heads or Tails: Memories of Bird Walks

This is a turkey vulture in flight over my head last week. Bird walks with Mr. T — in the past and hopefully long into the future — are some of my fondest memories. While he was not present when I captured this vulture (see close-up photos here of this stunning bird that only a mother could love), he is the inspiration for my bird photos and he has given me the gift of his love of birds and birding. Lately, we saw the first eastern bluebird reported in Barton Town this season. Special moments with a special person are memories to cherish.

Why is a turkey vulture called a turkey vulture? Not because they eat turkeys (they would if they came upon a dead one in the woods) and not because they are turkeys (because they are not), but because they have a body that looks like a turkey and they have the head of a vulture.

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Cats Tuesday: Buddy Rules

Towards the end of winter, I captured Buddy as he intimidated Charlie who was hiding under the bookcase off camera. The fights are fewer now that they are getting outside.

Here they go again. The fights are fewer now because Buddy's territory is the house and Charlie's territory is the barn. Buddy can't enter the barn and Charlie carefully avoids Buddy in the house at night. Don't feel too bad for Charlie. He gives it as good as he gets!

Please forgive me for not visiting everyone last week. I may not be able to visit this week, either. We have had a death in the family. Your comments and support are important and meaningful for me and I know how understanding you all are. You are an important part of my life and I miss visiting you. Bless you all. Please give everyone you love a hug and a kiss today.

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Sunday, April 27, 2008

Blog Your Blessings: The Winter of Chickadees

It has been a long time since I participated in Blog Your Blessings. It has been difficult for me to find a blessing during this long winter. But we all know that nearly all of us can find one blessing to be thankful for. I finally realized that the chickadees blessed me all winter.

These little birds are very bright, chirpy and friendly. When we went to refill the feeders, they would flock about us in the tree. When I opened the window to toss out bread or peanuts, they would fly to the tree to see what was being offered.

One window in my kitchen faces the back dooryard and Barton Mountain. There is open yard, then a small open field, then a buffer zone of tall, thick shrubs before the tree line at the woods. The chickadees seemed to live in those thickets of shrubs during the winter. They would fly one by one to the feeder. I observed them as they hopped in the snow for seeds, or waited in the bare branches for their turn to fly to the feeder. A dozen or more could be in the feeder tree, but they would only arrive one by one. Was this for fear of predators? Were they willing to sacrifice themselves to a hawk, owl or shrike should one strike from the sky and gobble them up? The others, the multitudes waiting to fly to the feeder, would be safe if one were lost. But if a predator appeared at the feeder, say a cat or a shrike, they would all fly off together in a cloud of black, white and yellow thrumming wings.

At the tree, they would shove their black-capped heads into the sunflower seed feeder and emerge with one good seed. Then they would fly to a nearby branch, hold the seed in their feet while they broke the hull with their beak, and gorge on that luscious kernel inside. When they finished with that seed, they would return to the feeder for another. They would never eat thistle and they would peck at the suet feeders. But they loved sunflower seeds more than anything else.

When I watched their lives out of my window and captured them forever in my camera, I didn't feel as lonely as I usually did during this past long winter. I was a part of something important. The chickadees don't rely on feeders to survive the winter, yet I felt as if I were important to them. The photo above is actually my last chickadee photograph of this winter feeder season. Ironically, it shows the last chickadee as it flew back to the woods for the summer. I can hear them now clearly from the house and my heart sings with happiness when I do. But I won't easily see them as they meld into the leafy canopy until next winter. The lives of the chickadees will be delightful during the warm months. I wish the same for myself during the remainder of this spiritually difficult year.

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Camera Critters: Beaver

I finally got photographs of one of the beaver in the bog. As daylight increases, I should be able to get more. Beaver are visible at dawn and dusk.
Below: one of the beaver lodges.
This one is directly across from the house.

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Emily Dickinson: Yellow


Nature rarer uses yellow
Than another hue;
Saves she all of that for sunsets, --
Prodigal of blue,

Spending scarlet like a woman,
Yellow she affords
Only scantly and selectly,
Like a lover's words.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Photo Hunters: Sign on the Hebard Building

The Hebard State Office Building in Newport is relatively new. It is on the waterfront of Lake Memphremagog and houses the Department of Motor Vehicles, a lawyer office, meeting space and the Community College of Vermont (where I teach). Howard Dean, former governor of Vermont, 2004 presidential candidate and now Chairman of the National Democratic Committee, dedicated this building in 1999. Below is a panorama photo of the building that I made this past week. The lake is on the right so that our classrooms all have views of the lake and the Canadian mountains. Please click on it to view it full size.

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Friday, April 25, 2008

LOL Cat Bible: Lectionary Readings for the Sixth Sunday of Easter

Sixth Sunday of Easter

Acts 17:22-31
Psalm 66:8-20 (Ps. 66:8)
1 Peter 3:13-22
John 14:15-21

Acts 17:22-31

22 Den Paul gotz ups en frunt ov teh meetings an sedz "Oh hai peeps! Yuz al reel riligus. Yuz be prayin to al kidns ov stufz
23 Yuz evn prayin to sum unnown Ceiling Cat. Buts litsens ups Iz learns yu teh trufs! Srsly!!!"
24 "Ceiling Cat made teh hows an evryting ins itz! Him is teh Lords ov teh Ceiling an teh Urth. Teh Ceiling Cat no liv in templ buildz bai cats.
25 Ceiling Cat no needz us servings Him wit r pawz. Dats cuz teh Ceiling Cat givid us lif, teh cheezburger an teh cookie to eated an evryting els in the Urth!!
26 Him maked al teh catz frum one cat. Al teh Minxez an teh Tabbyz an teh Saimez. An teh Ceiling Cat sez teh whenz an teh werz we iz liv.
27 Teh Ceiling Cat donez so we iz looked for himz!! An is trai to fainds hims!!
28 Sum ov teh rymin peeps sedz we is Hims Kittehs."
29 "Cuz wez teh Ceiling Cats kittehs He no looks leik goldz, silbur, or evens cheezburger! Teh Ceiling Cat iz lookz leik kittehs!!! (Dats wai dey calls him Ceiling CAT!)
30 Ceiling Cat used no car wut us tink. Buts now Ceiling Cat do not want!!!!
31 Teh Ceiling Cat sedz himz gona judge we sum dai. An Judge mai sownd leik fudge but iz nt az fun r delishus. Ceiling Cat is giv us proof bai bringin teh ded kittehs bak to liv!"

Psalm 66

Purr to teh Ceiling cat, O urf
2 Meow hims naem laik u meanz it
3 Tellz teh Ceiling Cat, "U r teh pwnz, Srsly!
4 evrybody lowerz himz tail in rspekt fur uz dey al seyz uz a rly graet doodz"
5 Haz u seen al teh awsumage of teh Ceiling Cat? him haelps al teh kittehs
6 Him splitzed teh see wen teh DO NOT WANT!!1! en teh Izrelites walkd on teh grownd. Us shood meow himz good naem
7 wif himz pwnage him r owner ob teh wurld himz ais r big laik it were nait, him sees bof teh ninja kittehs en pirate kittehs

1 Peter 3: 13-22

13 And who will steal ur bukkit if u leik Ceiling Cat?
14 But even if some stuff is teh sux, u can has chzburgurz from Ceiling Cat.
15 Make sure that if ppl r leik wtf? U tell them bout Ceiling Cat
16 and remember Ceiling Cat gives u cookies and chzburgurz if they r like “lol, o rly? U sux.”
17 But its better to b told u sux and leik Ceiling Cat, cuz he has chzburgurz and win.
18 Jeebus was once in the same spot, srsly,
19 but he went and sed “hai, Ceiling Cat pwns” to prizners
20 who were leik the ppl who weren’t cool leik Noah and teh ppl on his boat.
21 Teh water of baptizim saves us and gives us chance for chzburgurz thru Jeebus
22 who went to hang wit Ceiling Cat.

John 14: 1-14
Jesus give kittehs cheezburgerz

1 "No gots 2 wori, K? Gots ta trust in Ceiling Cat; also trust in me. Ceiling Cat's house got many sofas; kitteh woud no lie! I go 2 fix u sofa K?"
3 I wants to has partee wif u.
4 I do go catwalk; yu knowz catwalk too.
5 Thomcat saiz:"We do not know wher yu walk, how do we knoe teh catwalk?"
6 Jebus say "oh hai. i m teh way n teh truf n teh life. no one can has walkin da catwalk wif Ceiling Cat wifout me."
7 If u knowz Me, u knowz Ceiling Cat.
8 Philippus: If u show us Ceiling Cat, ten we r happycats.
9 Jebus say "scuse me? U iz not knowin me? U seez me, you seez Ceiling Cat. Y u not getz it?
10 I iz curled up insides Ceiling Cat an Ceiling Cat is curled up insides me. Ceiling Cat iz talkin and workin when Iz talkin and workin.
11 Dont y'all c mirakllz? If u can't bliev ma wordz u can still bliev mirakllz.
12 An gess wat. I haz rly gud deel fr y'all. Y'alls can do same stuff Iz doin wit powr of Ceiling Cat. BTW, y'all can do evan bettr stuff cause I goin back to Ceiling Cat soon. (BRB.)
13 Wen I goez back to Ceiling Cat, u say "In Jebus' name" an I do all stuffs for u! Den Ceiling Cat getz all praise from all kittehs!
14 Ask me anything! Chek it out, d00d! Cause I doez it fr u!

Ceiling Cat? Are you up there?

Get ready now cuz the wild weekend is coming!
Board the Friday Ark at The Modulator
(submit your post here)

Weekend Cat Blogging #151 Apr 26-27
Katie and Puddy at A Byootaful Life
(see the week’s host to enter your WCB post
in the comments for the weekend roundup)

Bad Kitty Cats Festival of Chaos at Pet’s Garden Blog
(submit your post here)

The Carnival of the Cats is going to 4/27/08 #215
Diamond Emerald-Eyes at House Panthers
(submit your post here)

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Friday Fractal: Oxidizer Tutorial Updates

Here are three images of Cat Mask in three colors. I think this is my best flame yet and I can't decide which color I like best. I made 12 differently colored versions of this flame.

I have updated my Oxidizer Tutorial to include directions for changing colors of your flame creation. I have added a footnote and explanation as to why you might want to render jpeg or png files and directions for both. I hope you check the changes out.

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Teacher Potluck Carnival: Earth Day Edition

Welcome to the Earth Day Edition of the Teacher Potluck Carnival! First, let me apologize for this being two days late. Blog Carnival was down, I had classes to teach and appointments to keep. I have made sure that the next carnival will be close to a weekend.

So on to the Teacher Potluck Carnival! There were a lot of submissions this month. There is one recipe that I am so excited about: math cookies! I can't wait to try baking them. Lots of other good food and more great tips for us teachers are here


Bobby presents a Chicken Alfredo recipe posted at Free OnlineRecipes. Bobby has convinced me that I can make this. Enjoy!

Theo presents Review of Horizon Organic Fat-Free Plain Organic Yogurt posted at Organic Test Kitchen. This yogurt is not sold in the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont so I can't try it. But Theo has and I found it an interesting review. It taught me what to watch for in yogurts (which are big here with the many organic dairy farms). Organic Test Kitchen looks like a great blog that I'll be checking out more in the future.

Finally, Leena Helttula presents Mathematics and Baking posted at Conceptis addict. I have enjoyed Leena's blog for quite awhile. She is a puzzler and introduces me to great puzzles. And now? She found a recipe for Sierpinski cookies! Can you believe it? Check out her blog! The photo of the cookies is from her site. She includes complete recipes for how to create them.


Scott Palat presents School Discipline: Effective Strategies for Instilling Successful Classroom Discipline | posted at Colleen Palat. I enjoy articles like this because I believe we all need to be regularly reminded of these strategies.

And finally, Eric Koshinsky presents How to Teach Speaking posted at Teachers Call.

I present Vermont's First Annual Junior Iron Chef Competition. Middle and high school students throughout Vermont competed in an Iron Chef type competition in order to promote using natural and local foods. The video is from Stuck in VT. We are beginning a Farm to School program at our school and at many others in our district. The awful videos about mistreated cattle at slaughter houses helped push this program forward. You may want to check this movement out for your school.

The next edition of Teacher Potluck Carnival will be the Memorial Day Edition on May 25. Be sure to submit early and often!


Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Wordless Wednesday: First Flower of 2008

The first flower, wild or domestic, that bloomed on my property. 
Sunday, 20 April 2008

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Monday, April 21, 2008

Cats on Tuesday: Charlie the Barn Cat

I went out to the barn Saturday morning to see if any damage had occurred over the winte when I heard a tiny tiny meow. I recognized Charlie's voice in the rafters of the barn. He had been sleeping and I had awoken him.  

He was so happy sleeping in the spring sun and warmth under the sky lights in the rafters of the barn. In fact, I have seldom seen Charlie with such a relaxed and gentle expression on his face.

Then I remembered: he had been born and spent his kittenhood in a barn in central Vermont. Barns feel like home. Warm barns and sunshine must be heaven for him.

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Heads or Tails: Directions to Make Fractal Flames

I have an interest in fractals  (shapes that are self-similar). I have moved on to making fractal flames, which you see here. Several bloggers have asked me how to make these flames, so I spent Saturday writing a tutorial for using Oxidizer, the Macintosh fractal flame software. You can see the tutorial here if you are interested. I already need to update the tutorial because I learned more about using the software Sunday when I created these images.

You don't need to know anything about mathematics to create these images! Promise!

I invite you to use Oxidizer if you have a Mac or Apophysis if you have a PC. The tutorial has links for tutorials for Apopphysis and for Flickr groups of people that also create these images. Then join me and others for Friday Fractal to display your fantastic images. It is a very informal group. There is no need for a blogroll (at this time). We use Technorati tags (like you see at the bottom of this post). If you want to view other fractals, click here, here, or the Technorati tag below to see posts of mine and other people. And join us! Just copy the script inside the box below into your HTML of your post and you'll be linked up!

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