Tuesday, January 31, 2012

At Last! · 365 Project

At Last! by Rondi Aastrup · 365 Project

My paper whites have finally bloomed. I think they were slowed down a bit because I had them outside. I brought them in today...to my classroom so my students could enjoy them. Quite a few commented on they. They are pretty...if only they didn't smell so funky!

Monday, January 30, 2012

Tiny grains of Earth · 365 Project

Tiny grains of Earth by Rondi Aastrup · 365 Project

A mountain is composed of tiny grains of earth. The ocean is made up of tiny drops of water. Even so, life is but an endless series of little details, actions, speeches, and thoughts. And the consequences whether good or bad of even the least of them are far-reaching.

Tonight's view of the mountain at dusk...

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Twelve Angry Doves · 365 Project

Twelve angry doves by Rondi Aastrup · 365 Project

We've had a wonderfully warm weekend--80s yesterday and high 70s today. This afternoon I decided to sit outside on my patio for awhile, but upset a host of birds who were happily feeding at their feeders at the time. I planted some petunias and pansies and then sat in the sun, soaking up its warmth with great content...until I noticed a dozen doves sitting on the wall across the way from "their" patio. It was so funny the way they were lined up, watching...and waiting for me to vacate the patio so they could get back to their feeding frenzy.

The finches and sparrows were waiting, too, but not quite so obviously. I could hear them chattering to each other in the trees, no doubt commenting on the uselessness of someone just sitting there with their eyes closed ;)

Seconds after I went inside...and I do mean seconds...they were back at the feeders, indulging in my generosity contentedly...

(The last photo is that same wall at sunset)

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Patio purple · 365 Project

Patio purple by Rondi Aastrup · 365 Project

I've been enjoying having flowers in my little gardens year-round. Gets me a little mixed up, though, about what season we're in when there is no true winter here in Arizona. My nasturtiums are growing, the paper whites are ready to bloom. And then there are these lovelies.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

How the Sun Set · 365 Project

How the Sun Set by Rondi Aastrup · 365 Project

I'll tell you how the sun rose,--
A ribbon at a time.
The steeples swam in amethyst,
The news like squirrels ran.

The hills untied their bonnets,
The bobolinks begun.
Then I said to myself softly,
"That must have been the sun!"

But how he set I know not
There seemed a purple stile
Which little yellow boys and girls
Were climbing all the while

Til when they reached the other side,
A dominie in gray
Put gently up the evening bars
And led the flock away

~Emily Dickinson

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

House and Home · 365 Project

House and Home by Rondi Aastrup · 365 Project

My birds are eating me out of house and home! Not literally, of course, but they sure do have enormous appetites! They start coming to the feeders around sunup and gorge themselves until about 5 or so. I'm having to refill the feeders every two days or so. I should just feed them on the weekends when I can watch them, but that's hardly fair to them...

Monday, January 23, 2012

Paper Whites · 365 Project

Paper Whites by Rondi Aastrup · 365 Project

My mother shared a picture of the Paper Whites blooming from bulbs she received at Christmas time. I received some then, too, and planted them nicely when I got back to sunny Arizona. I thought I'd give them a chance to grow in peace by putting them outside in my protected front patio. And I had been pleased with their progress...until I saw these pictures. Mine are just a couple of inches tall...nubs, really...while hers are full-blown blossoms! I might have to bring them inside to get some warmth so they can grow faster, but they haven't frozen and are growing, so maybe I should let them grow where they are. The nasturtiums I planted at the same time from seeds are a few inches high, too. So...maybe...maybe... We'll see!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

AFC Champs · 365 Project

AFC Champs by Rondi Aastrup · 365 Project

I've not had the opportunity to watch much of my favorite football team since I moved to Arizona. For some reason programmers think that people in the west are more interested in western teams than eastern ones. So...it was especially fun today to watch more than the highlights of the Patriots' AFC Championship win. Football is not my favorite sport, but I do enjoy the Patriots, especially since Tom Brady became quarterback in 2001...and since he's helped bring about 4 Super Bowl wins....

Photos:  Brady before the game and afterwards.  Score:  Ravens 20, Patriots 23

Friday, January 20, 2012

Dust of Snow · 365 Project

Snow! by Rondi Aastrup · 365 Project

My mother sent me pictures of the snow that blanketed her house and yard this morning. Made me homesick for winter! I haven't seen snow since last Christmas (there was no snow when I was there this time), and I have to admit to missing it. Not driving in it, but certainly watching it fall and pile up on the trees.

Here's one of my favorite poems about snow:

Dust of Snow
Roberto Frost (1923)

The way a crow
Shook down on me
The dust of snow
From a hemlock tree

Has given my heart
A change of mood
And saved some part
Of a day I had rued.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

New Obsession · 365 Project

New Obsession by Rondi Aastrup · 365 Project

When I was younger, oh so much younger, I used to devour such magazines as Seventeen. If I came across a picture of something I liked, I tore it out, carefully trimmed the edges and filed it in any one of a number of manilla folders I kept in a box. When I was a teenager, we moved to a house where I had my own room, a room big enough to have a fireplace in it, a table/study area, and a wall for a large bulletin board. I was in heaven there! I remember filling that bulletin board with the pictures I had collected, changing them out periodically, but keeping my favorites up, anchored permanently by staples or a pin (push pins had not yet been invented!).

I have to admit to still doing this, well not the bulletin board part, but certainly the folders of pictures and stories ripped from a myriad of magazines and newspapers that I once subscribed to. Unfortunately, the magazines began to pile up far faster than I could read and harvest them. And one by one, I stopped subscribing to my once beloved magazines until by the time I moved from MA to AZ, I had virtually no subscriptions to transfer from East to West. I am somewhat chagrined to also admit that There were a few boxes containing magazines I couldn't part with, as I'd not yet read them. And they still sit in those boxes, waiting for me to get to them.

I have steadfastly avoided the magazine rack in grocery stores and the rows and rows of tempting magazines in book stores. But then. Along comes an invitation from a blogging friend to try Pinterest. I had heard of it a month or two earlier when my niece showed me her pages (mostly filled with wedding ideas), but hadn't really given it much thought until that invitation. I succumbed. And am hooked.

Now in the evening intstead of playing Words with Friends for 1/2 hour or so before going to bed, I find myself scrolling through pages of photos of beautiful places, clothes, food, and quotes. And I find myself once again culling ideas and organizing them into folders and boards. Never in my wildest youthful imaginings did I imagine something like this! I'm not sure which I like best. One thing for sure, Pinterest certainly is greener!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Like a Red, Red Rose · 365 Project

Like a Red, Red Rose by Rondi Aastrup · 365 Project

Since my school is a boarding school, we had to "have" school on Monday, Martin Luther King Day. We honored King's memory by doing various service projects throughout Scottsdale and Phoenix. Some groups went to elementary schools and cleaned up the playgrounds or worked in classrooms with teachers. Other groups cleaned up nearby streets and parks, and three groups stayed at school. My group worked in the neglected rose garden and three other flower beds on campus. It was hard but satisfying work. I rescued several of the roses we had to clip for my classroom. They are beautiful and smell heavenly!

One of my students took the photos of the roses before their trimming.  You'll notice in the one where the boy is clipping how neglected the beds really were.  They look infinitely better now!

Monday, January 16, 2012

Start of a new day · 365 Project

 Start of a new day by Rondi Aastrup · 365 Project

I'm going to kill two birds with one stone tonight and post a 365 Project picture about beginning of my day for my NaBloPoMo entry. I've found that one harder to keep up with than the daily photo project...but on the whole, I think I've done pretty well writing on most days so far.

Today's photos were taken on my way to work this morning. It had rained much of the night and clouds of fog were rolling around the mountain tops, which intrigued me, so I tried to capture it--yes, while driving. I was careful, though, don't worry. Of course it was much prettier in reality than I could capture through the windshield, but I like it all the same. I don't do it on purpose--it just happens coincidentally--but usually I find myself driving to work into the sunrise and driving home into the sunset. Given the stunning beauty of most sunrises and sunsets here in AZ, I consider the beginning and ending to my work days rather glorious!

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Beginning Again * NaBloPoMo

One of my students gave his testimony at church today.  The theme for the morning was "Enjoy the Journey" and he talked about the beginning of a new journey he is taking with God--one that started when he got word from his surgeon that he will probably never enjoy an active life on his feet again.  He was injured twice in two successive basketball games just before Christmas and had surgery days after.  He had torn both his ACL and his meniscus; only the ACL could be repaired.

He's been active all his life, so you can imagine his disappointment when the doctor told him he'll most likely never be able to play sports again, or possibly even run with any kind of comfort again.  He admitted his disappointment and frustration and how he had cried out to God "Why?"  God's answer to him was to help him realize that even though he couldn't run, he could walk.  He could slow down enough to walk with others and share his love for Jesus and encourage them on their own spiritual journey through life.

This boy is one of my workers and we talk often throughout each day as he's going through the tasks I have for him.  He has been an inspiration to me several times, including today, as he works his way through what could be a devastating injury to him.  I'm sure he has his moments of despair, but he seems to be getting a handle on it, through his confidence in God's plan for him.  This new year, though, has definitely been a case of beginning again...

Yellow and Gray · 365 Project

Yellow and Gray by Rondi Aastrup · 365 Project

I went for a walk in the late afternoon, knowing that I would see some interesting things. I always do. This time I saw more than I could capture with my camera, but I got enough to share all the same.  This mockingbird was my first find. He was perched atop a lemon tree, standing out, the gray against the yellow.

Next, I saw a flock of Abert's Towhees, but couldn't get them to sit still long enough for a good close photo. They were very talkative, though.  I could hear them long after I had gone past them (they were flitting around the pool area of this condo complex on the golf course).

Further along, I saw the cutest winter wren hopping around atop a boulder.

On the ground, just past the wren's boulder, a ground squirrel froze long enough for me to shoot him.  He's right outside his hole and when I moved, he popped down into safety.

Across the walkway on the golf course, a large flock of doves gorged themselves on something tasty in this patch of dirt.

And finally, back home again, a mockingbird enjoyed the suet on my back patio in the shadow of the bougainvilea.  It was a good walk =)

Friday, January 13, 2012

Low-fat Groceries! · 365 Project

Low-fat Groceries! by Rondi Aastrup · 365 Project

I went to the store today to get a gallon of milk and some kitty litter. Not terribly interesting or exciting. Unfortunately (for my pocketbook), my grocery store is a beautiful full-service store, complete with a garden section as well as a florest, on opposites sides of the store. I went through both sections and came out with a colorful array of geraniums, petunias, and pansies, along with a hyacinth, a mini-daffodil, and a gerber daisy.

Whoever designed this store knew what they were doing! This was definitely a low-fat visit to the grocers, but high-octane in color and smell =)

Photos are of the flowers I bought today (top) and the Floral Departement at "The Beautiful Store" (as I call it a few weeks ago.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Sky Light · 365 Project

Sky Light by Rondi Aastrup · 365 Project

On my way home from school this afternoon, I noticed several rainbow chunks in the sky. I couldn't see that it had been raining, but there they were. The color was only in/on the clouds. There was nothing in the sky part of what I was seeing. One rainbow showed red-orange-yellow from left to right. Another showed green-yellow-orange-red from left to right. The colors looked prettier through my sun glasses, but were still visible without them on.

I was so fascinated with the sight that I finally had to stop to take pictures. I only had my cell phone, so they are not the sharpest, but you still get the idea. It was strangely beautiful!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Venus · 365 Project

Venus by Rondi Aastrup · 365 Project

I was on the 5:30-7:30 shift for supervision on campus this evening.  Usually that means having supper in the caf and then an hour and a quarter of wandering around campus, checking doors, talking with the few kids who brave the cold, and counting the minutes until you are "free" to go home, finally.  Tonight, as I left the caf, I ran into the boys' dean's wife as she was walking home from work.  We stopped and talked for awhile--about books, about how quickly the school year is going, and the beautiful night sky.  Looking directly overhead, we could see a bright star.  In the sky to our left, we could see Orion.  On the opposite side of campus, there was a brilliant, fixed light--obviously a planet.  We weren't sure, but I later looked it up:  Venus.  In this picture (taken with my cell phone), Venus is that bright dot in the center of the photo!

One of my favorite tone poems is Gustav Holst's "The Planets."  Here is "Venus" from the suite:  http://youtu.be/K1f8HjIkU3M

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Full Moon at Sunrise · 365 Project

Full Moon at Sunrise by Rondi Aastrup · 365 Project

Normally I'm not a big fan of full moons because they usually mean trouble in the classroom. And, now that I think of it, kids were particularly squirrelly yesterday, and one boy today was unbelievably squirrelly. So that doesn't especially thrill me. Aside from that, though, I love seeing a full moon. And today, I got a lovely eye-full of the moon as it was setting through the sunrise.

I see the moon,
The moon sees me
God bless the moon,
And God bless me.
-A nursery rhyme

Monday, January 09, 2012

Gnarled · 365 Project

Gnarled by Rondi Aastrup · 365 Project

This gnarly tree is on a side of campus I don't often go. I noticed it the other day as I was making my supervision rounds. A lone girl was climbing it, lost in her own world. I was reminded of the "helicopter" tree my sisters and I had when we were kids--it was a sycamore tree the grew along side a creek across a field that was next to our yard. We used to love to climb it and pretend we were in a helicopter (not sure why that...) spying on the rest of the world around us. It was big, beautiful, sturdy. We felt safe up in it, in spite of the heights we climbed to. Puts me in mind of another tree-activity we used to love: swinging. And singing Robert Louis Stevenson's poem about "The Swing."  Maybe that was it:  just being up in the air and seeing all that we could see:

How do you like to go up in a swing,
Up in the air so blue?
Oh, I do think it the pleasantest thing
Ever a child can do!

Up in the air and over the wall,
Til I can see so wide,
Rivers and trees and cattle and all
Over the countryside--

Till I look down on the garden green,
Down on the roof so brown--
Up in the air I go flying again,
Up in the air and down!

Sunday, January 08, 2012

Magnetic Force · 365 Project

Magnetic Force by Rondi Aastrup · 365 Project

These are magnets (except for the picture in the  middle) I've collected during my travels throughout the US, Europe, Asia, South America and Canada.  They reside on my freezer door in my kitchen and serve to remind me of some of my travels.

I have not always collected magnets.  I guess I started within the past 10 years.  They are more efficient in size and cost than other souvenirs, and they serve as a conversation piece when I have company as well.

Some of quotes on them are by the author whose home I may have visited, others are of paintings I loved in an art museum.  Some are of very specific places, others represent a country or state more generally.  For example:  The left hand side has art from The Louvre and The Boston Museum of Fine Arts.  The right hand side has state magnets.  The column to the left of that has author and composer magnets.  At the top are places in the US (except for the Norway flag) and at the bottom left are Europe, Asia, and South America.  The quotes are all from Concord writers, primarily Louisa May Alcott.

I wish I'd thought of doing this during my earlier travels...but then I'd have no space for them all as I've been to some 35 countries.  I'd have to buy another freezer.  Ha!

Saturday, January 07, 2012

Between the dark and the daylight · 365 Project

Between the dark and the daylight by Rondi Aastrup · 365 Project

Between the dark and the daylight, 
When the night is beginning to lower,
Come a pause in the day's occupation,
That is known as the children's hour.

Those are the opening lines of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's poem "The Children's Hour."  The poem goes on to talk about his children and the games he plays with them.  It's a sweet recounting of a father's love for his children, one I grew up hearing and loving--for its rhythm and rhyme as much as anything else.

In a way, it was true for me tonight.  I took these pictures of the end of the sunset, at the time between the dark and the daylight, just before I had to go off to my school to watch my students play games.  This month's installment of "Class Games" featured basketball and saw my scrappy sophomores (I'm their sponsor) nearly beat the burley juniors.  They were ahead most of the game, but lost it in the waning moments.  They were disappointed, but I was proud of them.  They've come a long way since last year when they were mostly frustrating freshmen!

The pictures are of the view from my back patio.  I especially love my bougainvillea (beat up a bit as it is) against the beautiful dusky purple sky.

Friday, January 06, 2012

Making a List . NaBloPoMo

I didn't post yesterday.  And I feel guilty about it!  I had high hopes for posting every day for at least a month, but it's not been a month yet and I've already blown it.  Well, I'll do two one of these days to make up for it, right?  Right!

Today's thought about Beginnings is that I am beginning to make a list of the 15 books that have made the most impact on my life.  A former student, now pastor and published author, put the challenge out on his blog this afternoon and I immediately knew I would have to do it.  I love making lists.  I love reading.  I love reading books that make a difference.  So...what's not to love about this challenge?!  Only trouble is that this kind of thing takes time.  Sifting time.  Sifting through the many books I've read in my life that have made an impact.  So today, for now, I'm beginning the list:

1.  I Love the Word Impossible by Ann Kiemel.  I read this book in my early years of teaching after having heard Ann speak at a  Festival of Faith weekend.  There is nothing complicated about what she shares.  Just an open and loving exploration of the God who loves us beyond all measure.  Simple, yet oh so profound.
2.  Christy by Catherine Marshall.  This book and Robert Specht's Tisha are two true stories of young women at the beginning of their teaching careers, facing incredible challenges--Catherine in the Appalachians and Tisha in Alaska.  Gave me inspiration for my first job in the nowhere land of Michigan.  I could relate to much of what they experienced and wanted to make a difference to my kids the way these two did to theirs.
3.  Tuesdays With Morrie by Mitch Albom.  I read this book in one sitting and cried throughout the entire thing.  Made me want to cherish every moment of my life...and reminded me of the power of my influence as a teacher.
4.  36 Children by Herbert Kohl.  The true story of Kohl's heart-wrenching experience teaching in an inner-city school.  Inspired me even before I had taught a single day.  Helped me understand the inner-city kids in my first couple of teaching jobs.
5.  The Message Bible.  This Bible made the Word seem fresh and new to me as an adult the way the Living Bible did for me when I was a young teenager.  It made me want to sit down and read it through, beginning to end.
6.  Mere Christianity by C. S. Lewis.  A powerful treatment on what it means to be a Christian.  My favorite chapter is "The Shocking Alternative" which gives an incredible discussion on free will and how logical Christianity is.  It just makes sense when you read Lewis!

That's it for now.  I will add to this list...perhaps over the weekend.  I'd be interested to know from any of you what books made the biggest impact on your lives.

Thursday, January 05, 2012

Time-traveling visitor · 365 Project

Time-traveling visitor by Rondi Aastrup · 365 Project

We had a time-traveling visitor in my AP English class today.  "Jonathan Edwards" came to give us a piece of his Puritan mind and preached portions of his famous (or infamous) sermon "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God."  I always find it oddly exhilarating to teach this sermon.  Most of the time, I preach it, but we have a pastor here who is very good with this kind of thing and he had a good time getting into character.  He had the kids close their eyes and imagine they were in the setting in Enfield, CT on July 8, 1741.  Amazingly, none of them fell asleep while they listened with their eyes closed for a good 15 minutes while he railed at them and told them they were going to hell!
Of course I never leave it there, and neither did he.  We had an interesting discussion afterwards about why the Puritans believed the way they did, and how his understanding is vastly different.  After he left, the students read Anne Sexton's lovely poem "Small Wire" that has similar language, but an entirely different application.  They had some interesting reactions while comparing the two pieces.  Some days, it's such fun in the classroom!