Thursday, February 24, 2011

The Naughty Monkey!

All of us relaxing after a hot but exciting day at the zoo!  The air conditioner was running on high at the restaurant!
Last summer JJ and her neighbors, Cathi and Becci, came to visit Bob and I in Denver.  While they were there for the week we planned several "touristy" things to do in Denver.  One of these was to go to the zoo.  Of course, we chose the hottest day of the summer for this expedition but we were tough!  Bob went with us but opted to sit in the shade with a cool drink and "people watch" while we went on to observe the wildlife.

I had my camera with me but decided that I had taken many pictures at zoos and they all seemed to look alike so didn't have my camera in my hand ready for the quick shot.  Too bad!  We started around and Becci (16 years old at the time) did take lots of pictures.  Soon we came to the monkey display.  Oddly, we and one zoo worker were the only ones there.  He was standing close to the fence observing a monkey who seemed to be showing off a bit.  Becci thought he was cute and went up to the fence next to the zoo guy to get some pictures.  The rest of us just watched kind of from a distance.  Other people started coming with strollers, little children and even some young people in their 20s. 
Becci shortly after the monkey episode watching an ape, who was NOT naughty!  Too late I realized I should always keep my camera handy.
All of a sudden the monkey became very excited and started running back and forth screaming and then he was throwing his poop at us!!!! (mostly Becci who was so busy looking through the eye of the camera she didn't realize what was happening)  The people with children and strollers began leaving quickly before the questions started which was very smart on the parents part!  The monkey continued to scream and strut around excitedly showing off his "family jewels".  By then I was staring dumbfounded but not with my mouth open!  Becci, I think, was still not figuring it out because she was standing close to the fence.  The crowd had dwindled to just us country folks.   Just then, with a scream the monkey raced right toward Becci, jumped up on the fence with another scream and raced to the back of the enclosure behind the trees!  JJ and Cathi were laughing hysterically and Becci just looked a bit shaken. as I looked around we really were the only ones left to see this weird episode!

I said,  "c'mon you perverts let's see what the apes have to offer!"  They argued that THEY were not the perverts in that scenario.  I kind of wish I had taken a video of our faces during this whole event.  Anyway, we have not forgotten our episode with that naughty monkey!

Somehow I feel like I should add a recipe for Monkey Bread here---or not!

As I said, I didn't use my camera but this is Becci up close getting a shot of the action of otters at the Aquarium similar to what she was doing at the monkey cage.

Not the monkey!  JJ poses with a fake ape!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Thoughts on Quilting

The latest quilt--so far.

Now that we are settled in to Elko, I am ready to get back to blogging.  While I was in Casper Carla and I decided to make a quilt one weekend.  We had it all planned out to go to Hancocks and do our quilt shopping (usually the most fun in the quilting experience for me until cash register time!).  But, Carla got sick so we postponed for a week (that's the weekend the rest of us went up to the Veteran's Museum).  By the next weekend Carla was still not feeling too whippy and it was nasty weather so we got out her stash of cloth and did our "shopping" at home.  Our next task was to choose a pattern.  We had planned to use the one we saw in Creative Home Arts and donate it to Altzheimers research but after looking at it a second time we decided it was very uninteresting so we perused many magazines and finally realized our tastes were not running along the same lines.   Since Carla was sick and weaker than I was, my pattern won out!

It was a combination of some kind of a star and flying geese patterns.  Carla did make the comment that she didn't really like to try piecing since you have to be so exact but I was confident we could do it.  I have to explain here that I am NOT a veteran quilter.  My grandmother was a wonderful one, my mother only made 2 quilts in her life under grandmother's tutelage and that was enough for her.  So I never was around quilting and never did any until I went to Owyhee.  I learned from a master quilter up there and so I guess I got a little overconfident!  I even taught an adult ed quilting class in Wendover but it was just your basic log cabin quilt which was the first one I ever made.

The only star I have quilted so far.....

Back to our present quilt.  It ended up that Carla was sick for the rest of the time we were there so I ended up doing the whole thing!  We didn't have one of the tools used to cut certain parts of the flying geese and I was not very exact so ended up throwing away 108 little triangles that I cut wrong, ripping out and redoing 7 of the 9 big squares, redoing a 13 flying geese border maybe 3 or 4 times until I figured out the math on cutting those pesky triangles, and doing a lot of "aggressive pressing" as my quilt guru called it! Good thing I didn't have other things to do!  I have to proudly say I did not sew any goose beaks off on my final result!

Check it out.  All beaks are intact!
So the top was done by the time we left.  As I might have mentioned in another blog, my embroidery machine was again broken down so I had used Carla's cheap Brother to do this and it did a nice job.  We dropped my machine off at Twin Falls on the way to Elko and I figured I wouldn't see it for a long time since I thought he would end up sending it to Switzerland to find out what was going on with it.  We dropped it off on Saturday and by Monday afternoon Larry was on the phone saying the machine was ready!  Since it was supposed to be bad weather by the end of the week we decided to drive back up to Twin Falls and get the machine.  Now I was back in business!

This is how I decided to quilt the back. 
The horse is one of four farm animals I used to quilt.

The pig.

The cow from the back.

Here are the hen and her chicks.
I could use my machine for some of the quilting.  I had left my plug-in cord and foot pedal at Carla's so Larry loaned me a plug-in and you really don't need a foot pedal to embroider.  So now I have the quilt almost quilted!  Then it will be time to bind it and it will be done!  WoooHooo!  JJ can hardly wait since she has a quilt Erin and I started one rainy June when Erin was visiting after her freshman year in High School (she is now 22).  It is packed away here somewhere and I guess I will have to dig it out and see what I can do with it next!  I had kind of forgotten about it and it will be a challenge! 

Erin back when we started the quilt.

Erin with her friends Eric and Brent at the cabin last fall.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Things That Still Make Me Laugh

The last few days there has been a lot of discussion on Facebook about favorite and least favorite teachers at NPHS.  Now I have to talk about some of my students and how they made teaching fun and how they made me laugh.  There are so many of them but here is a sampling.

Speech class was a great place for laughing.  Many of you will remember playing "pass the yardstick" and some of the hilarious ideas people had for uses of that stick.  There were waaaay too many of us who were not willing to give up and could make the game go on for the whole hour!  Of course some of that time was used for laughing so hard we couldn't go on.

There was a student who gave a speech on how to use an elk call.  I had never seen or heard one like the one he had that day.  It looked like a vacuum cleaner hose and the sound was like nothing any of us had ever heard before!  We were rolling on the floor laughing when Mr. Collins, the counselor, came into the room with his hands on his head like horns and pawing the ground!  That completely brought down the house.  The poor boy could not finish his speech!

Then there was the speech about robotic body parts that left us all speechless!  One student even drew pictures of Joe Montana with a robotic arm and how it would change football forever as feedback for the speaker.

Another time during a formal debate for a grade, a girl got so mad at the other team that she just stood up and said I quit and walked off the floor!  We all just looked at each other and started laughing.  One of her opponents told her she couldn't and to go sit back down at her table!  And she did!  I don't think they got to finish that debate.

Not many will forget the day I had a guest speaker come into my Creative Cooking class to demonstrate flaming baked Alaska.  Our guest was the social studies teacher across the hall from my room.  He had been a chef in Aspen and Baked Alaska was his specialty.  He gave me a list of ingredients he would need and I had them all there along with a very special silver tray I had brought from home for us to put the cake on.

  I had invited the principal, special ed class, some of my 8th grade boys who were interested, secretaries, and a few others plus our class to this special event.  He sliced the cake and placed it on the silver tray.  He sliced the ice cream and placed it on top of the cake.  He then whipped the egg whites and made the meringue to spread artistically over the cake.  Next came the 181 proof rum to sprinkle over the meringue so we could flame it.  He asked me where the stopper top was to sprinkle it.  I explained to him that a Home Ec classroom does not contain that type of item.  No problem, he had a student hold the tray and told her to tilt it as he sprinkled the rum with his fingers over the top.  She tilted it up toward her as he sprinkled and he kept telling her to tilt it the other way.

  Finally we were ready to flame it!  We turned off all the lights and he lit the match as we all gathered around the table.  Whoosh! The whole table caught fire where the sprinkled rum had gone and burned with a beautiful blue flame!  The baked Alaska of course was also burning with the lovely blue flame.  The whole thing was over in less than a minute and the cake looked perfect.  It was exciting while it lasted, though!

  It was time to eat it!  I handed plates to my students as the chef sliced and plated the dessert.  The principal got the first bite.  I asked him how it tasted and he just nodded his head so I figured he was overwhelmed with how delicious it was.  The kids passed out pieces to everyone as I handed them the plates.  Then they started taking them around to their teachers in the classrooms.  I still hadn't had a chance to taste it and neither did our guest chef.  Finally, as the bell was ringing and everyone was leaving, we had a chance to get our piece of the baked Alaska.  Oh my gosh! The cake was totally laced with 181 proof rum that definitely had not burned off!  The rum had soaked into the cake when the tray was tilted up instead of down! The kids were loving it and nobody had said a word to us, including the principal and the special ed teachers!  The kids said all their teachers were very mellow all afternoon .  Note:  The social studies teacher's contract was not renewed for the next year and he always maintained (jokingly, I hope) that it was all my fault.

This happened up in Owyhee on the reservation.  It was a very different atmosphere at that school.  The kids were really into calling their teachers racist every time we turned around.  One time I was called a racist because I let a girl go to the restroom and didn't let a boy go.  I had to explain the difference between sexist and racist to him!  Anyway, I finally just would say sarcastically to the kids when they pulled the racist card that yes I was a racist, that's why I chose to teach there so I could torture them.

Anyway, one day the art teacher and I were in my room after school and a young lady was in there finishing a project.  We were all visiting and the girl made a comment about a Mexican family.  The art teacher really jumped in and said now YOU are being racist!  The girl's reply, "Yes I am racist and damn proud of it!".  How do you come up with an answer to that?  Especially when it is probably true!

There are many more stories so I guess I'll have to run a series of them.  There are a few sad stories too so I might have to reserve a day for some of those.

Friday, February 4, 2011

An Afternoon at the Museum

Click the pictures to make them bigger and hit the back button to get back to the blog.
Not very impressive from the outside but let's go in and be surprised!
I love going to museums.  I am one of those who will go to any kind of museum even if it sounds dull.  I love to read all the info at each display and I have learned a lot from doing that, but it takes a long time for me to see all I want to see and I never get through a whole museum the way I want to!
A few years ago we went to the Smithsonion Institute with Micah's family.  Samara was just a baby but it was one of those things where you take advantage of an opportunity no matter what the circumstances.  Anyway, the first building (it looked like a castle) we went in we got got kicked out of!  Sammi was not happy and was screaming the whole time we were in there and a guide politely asked us to leave.  It was an interesting display but very formal and library like so I guess they wanted quiet.

The next building was better.  It was the Space and Aeronautics building and was filled with school groups and children on vacation.  Three or four year old Alyssa loved it and we saw lots of interesting things.  Sammi even got calmed down and looked at all the old airplanes.

The Smithsonian is a place you can visit time after time and never see the same thing if you want it that way, but of course I like to go back and read more on some of the same things!

Last Saturday Jim decided we needed to get out and see some things Casper, Wyoming, had to offer besides cold, snow and wind.  He had been wanting to go check out the Wyoming Veteran's Museum for awhile so he, Bob and I went up to the airport where it is located.  We drove around a little before we went in the building because, unbeknownst to me, Casper had a huge Army airbase during World War II.  As we drove around it reminded me very much of Wendover, only it was much better kept up than Wendover's is!
The old parade grounds with antelope grazing peacefully!
We went inside the museum which is the renovated Servicemen's Club for enlisted men building.  What a surprise for me!  The outside of the building was unimpessive---typical WWII base construction, but inside it was great!  All the walls of the big gathering room are covered with murals of Wyoming history.  They were painted by 4 enlisted men during their stay at the base.  Three of the four men had no formal art training and it is amazing to see what they did!  They did most of the work in chalk but one man was allergic to chalk dust so he did his in oils.  According to the brochure, " Because there was no paint available, the men made their own from combining materials such as red soil with a fixative."  None of the men were natives of Wyoming and did a lot of research before beginning to paint the murals.  I have pictures so you can see.

My favorite mural depicting an unexpected early blizzard at Martin's Cove near Devil's Gate and Independence Rock.   That is another place that is great to visit. The fort and handcart museum there are soooo interesting!
  We were the only ones at the museum so the curator, John Goss, took it upon himself to give us the grand tour.  He is great!  He is an archeologist and a veteran of the Iraq war (I think the first one) and is great at telling the stories behind all the exhibits.  He told us that one of the young men who painted the murals had come back from the war and been put in the mental ward with a Section 4. The doctors thought painting might be good for him so they got him in to help the others.  It cured him and he went on to be a famous painter in New York City!  His son also became a painter and came back to Casper and did some repair work on the murals just recently.

Bob and I with our excellent "guide", John Goss.

Bob is showing Jim, John and I the M1 rifle he used in the service. He is explaining that it's a semiautomatic gas operated weapon.
John told us that every display had a story behind it and he knew them all!  We were entertained for a couple hours up there with all kinds of stories of heroism from WWII up to Afghanistan.  Only the Korean War is missing but they are working on it now.  We loved it!  He invited us to return for more stories again and I sure will take him up on it.  We had a great time!

Thanks, Jim and John for showing us a different side to Casper!  The murals go around the room from the early days in Wyoming history to the 1940s when they were painted.  Here's some of what is in there!
The first picture in the mural starting at early times of Indians and buffalo hunting.
Moving on around the room, this is one of my favorite places to see on our drives from Walden to Casper.  It is Independence Rock.  Darcy and I climbed it when I was in my 60s to read the names and dates carved all over on top! Note: don't wear flip-flops to do this climb!
Preaching to the Indians.
Scouting and then my favorite part about the blizzard!
There are plaques at each picture telling the history but I didn't have time to read them.  I'm curious to know about that gazebo on the right!

Holding up a stagecoach?
This is for Chris,  Telegraph operator and a lineman!
A famous Indian war fought in Wyoming territory, I suppose.

Workin' on the railroad.

Cowboys are branding.
Ranching and sheep herding were/are important industries in Wyoming.
These type of sheep camps are still often seen all over Wyoming.  A couple of roughnecks at the oil well sight.
Of course oil was big even in the 40s!  Now we are back around to the end.  Our fighting men of  WWII.
Check out the old radio!  Yes that is Bing Crosby on top--they had many big name entertainers come to the base.  This is the final mural in the room.
 These murals are painted on Cellotex and have survived for well over 50 years!  The dry climate of Wyoming has helped to preserve them.