Monday, February 27, 2017

Monday Muse - Lifelong Learning Part 2

When I finished my education as an educator, I felt that my background in the sciences was lacking. As a social studies major, I had only taken one college level science course (nutrition at a molecular level) and none in teaching science to elementary students.  Fortunately, I am fascinated by nature and had wonderful experiences learning about physics, biology and chemistry in high school, so I was curious and interested in pursuing further knowledge.  Enter Coursera, which offers extended education opportunities via the internet. I took two courses in Inquiry Based Science, so that I would prepared to teach elementary science if the need arose. 

I used some of the methods I explored in this course in teaching summer school.  Our emphasis at summer school was improving skills in reading, writing and arithmetic (as you might guess) but I loved having a hands-on science activity each time we might so that students had something to really look forward to each day.  Making clouds from shaving cream and rain from food coloring was a big hit with 6 year olds, and listening to their theories about what was really happening during a storm was a big hit with this middle-aged teacher!

You may take courses for free through Coursera, just to delve into the knowledge, or pay a fee to earn continuing ed credits though such notable institutions as John Hopkins University, Rice University or Stanford.  These are somewhat demanding courses, with several reading assignments per week and a requirement to complete projects and make discussion board posts, as is typical in online university learning.  

I enjoyed the challenge.  Recently, I have been reviewing their course descriptions, seeking courses which improve my knowledge base as a garden writer and speaker. I have several speaking engagements this spring, and I like knowing the latest trends in earth science and botany.

What about you?  Are you enrolled in any courses at this time, online or in your locale?  Do you have a subject that you are passionate about, and about which you are always seeking more knowledge and experience?  I would love to hear what interests you and keeps you actively engaged in lifelong learning.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Sunday Stroll - Last Sunday in February

In the middle of our family gathering, 
we hiked out to Dark Water Creek in the midst of the cedar wood.

We appear to have an artistic woodpecker on the property.

This birch tree is abloom 
with a strange black manifestation that has erupted
 all up and down its twin trunks.

This nearby birch is healthy.

With the sky for a ceiling and soft carpets of snow beneath our feet,
we romped joyfully through the cedar playroom
with three exuberant young dogs leading the way.

Where ever you are, whatever the weather, I wish you joy in the simple things.

Sunday Stroll Invitation - Last Sunday in February

Study nature, love nature, stay close to nature.
 It will never fail you.

~ Frank Lloyd Wright

Please join me today for a Sunday Stroll. 

We will have a house full of company to celebrate my second child's 24th birthday. Often, we take a hike together during our family gatherings, but we let it unfold naturally, so I am not sure whether we will or not today.  Will post photos if we do!

If you do snap a few photos of nature today, please share a link in the comments, and I will add you to a list of strollers so that we may all, in the words of Frank Lloyd Wright, "Study nature, love nature, stay close to nature" from our separate, but connected, regions of our world.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Saturday Snapshot - Evening

As the day closes,

I hear night tapping on my window, wind in the branches.

I see one last curve of light on the western sky, touching the clouds with bit of silver.

I taste Turkish red lentil soup, toasted pitas, and homemade Concord Grape wine.

I smell the lingering scent of home cooking and roasted garlic.

I feel relaxed and comfortable.  Should we meet our friends to listen to a country band? Or get into pajamas and fall asleep early?

Where ever you are, whatever the weather, I wish you all the comforts of home.

Friday, February 24, 2017

A Little Note and a Little Quote - Working Out

"In order to really enjoy a dog, one doesn't merely try to train him to be semi-human.  
The point of it is to open oneself to the possibility of becoming partly a dog." 

~ Edward Hoagland

My new workout plan is simple.  Trying to keep up with this guy! He requires several hours and several miles of exercise per day, plus an infinite amount of fresh air and freedom, as well.  I hope I grow in stamina and endurance as we take our frequent forays into our own forest and the parks and beaches in the region near our home.  How are you doing in terms of daily exercise?  What keeps you motivated?  

Where ever you are, whatever the weather, I wish you fresh air and good company.

quote from:

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Through the Window Glass - Black Capped Chickadees

"Use what talents you possess: 
the woods would be very silent 
if no birds sang there except those that sang best."
~ Henry Van Dyke

With apologies for the low quality photos, taken through the window with my simple "point and click" camera, I wanted to introduce you to the sweet visitors we have had lately at the farm.  They are the first to have found the new feeder on the sycamore tree. has this to say about the Black Capped Chickadee: "A bird almost universally considered “cute” thanks to its over-sized round head, tiny body, and curiosity about everything, including humans."  Well, I agree to the word "cute," don't you?  

Do you have bird feeders near your windows?  Who visits most often?  Which birds are your favorites?  While we await the return of our spring flocks, the robins and other migratory birds, I will enjoy watching these little chickadees.  I am hoping that sitting with a cup of tea and watching the bird feeder through the window isn't considered doing nothing!

Where ever you are, what ever the weather, I wish you contentment and something to look forward to!

Monday, February 20, 2017

Monday Muse - Lifelong Learning Part 1

"Develop a passion for learning. If you do, you will never cease to grow."

~ Anthony J. D'Angelo

Like many Americans, I did not have a viable opportunity to learn another language in my formative years.  I opted out of Spanish in High School, thinking I would rather learn French.  I took French in college, the first time around, but when life derailed my college education, learning another language was set aside for later years. Self study options were limited at that time.

I briefly took a community education course with my mother-in-law; again in French.  I was able to put that study to a very brief use as I traveled through New Brunswick and Quebec provinces in the late 1980s.

In my mid forties, the chance to resume my much belated college career arose.  In addition to pursuing my degree, I was thrilled to have another opportunity to learn a second language.  This time around, I chose Spanish, believing it to be practical to my anticipated role as an elementary teacher. To my delight, I found Spanish to be a fluid and musical language that I took pleasure in learning and speaking.  I maintained that interest through three requisite college semesters.

Since achieving my degree, I have continued to study Spanish, but these days, I engage in daily practice through the website and app known as Duolingo.  I have only rare opportunities to speak Spanish in person and find that I am a little shy in speaking it with a native speaker, but I understand it in spoken and written form fairly well.  Duolingo is a fun way to learn and offers instant feedback, which I appreciate.  When I feel confident enough with Spanish, I plan to tackle another language. There are so many options from which to choose!

What about you?  Are bilingual or multilingual?  Are you a lifelong learner?  If so, come visit this my Quiet Country House each Monday for the next several weeks as I review a few other opportunities for continuing to learn through all stages of life!

Where ever you are, whatever the weather, I wish you curiosity and delight!

quote from

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Sunday Stroll - Tree Line

Let us walk beneath these blue winter skies,

up through the field 
full of summer memories.

Let us walk the tree line
that runs from east to west
defining the northern boundary 
of this simple homestead.

Let us look beneath the trees,
at the unpretentious works of art
that Nature has generously provided.

Where ever you are, whatever the weather, I wish you a heart full of joy.

Sunday Stroll Invitation - On Your Mark, Get Set, Go!

Wouldn't it be fun to grab your camera (or your phone!) and GO?  Would love to have strolls across the continent, even the globe, to view this evening as my day winds down.

Please join me today for a Sunday Stroll. 

If you do snap a few photos of nature in your neck of the woods today, please share a link in the comments, and I will add you to a list of strollers so that we may all share the beauty of this world, one little bit at a time.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Saturday Snapshot: From the Shoreline

I hear the lake water crashing against the ice
that has gathered along the shore.

I see blue sky,
green boughs,
white ice,
and brilliant sun.

I  taste anticipation.
Is that Spring I smell
rolling in with the white-capped waves?

I feel content.

Where ever you are, whatever the weather, I wish you contentment.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Wordless Wednesday - Rare Blue Skies

(all photos from Monday 2/13/2017)

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Sunday Stroll - Dog Days of Winter

When the snow drifts, go with the flow.

 Follow the shoreline,

and when you must,

 step out of the wind
and up into the woods.

As you breath the crisp air,
the sound of the winter surf
will add a counterpoint to the
laughter and the footsteps
and the whisper of falling snow.

That is the sound of winter's song,
in these northern hills.

Where ever you are, whatever the weather, I wish you laughter and good company.

Head Out on the Prairie for birds, deer and more with Steve!