View from the 26th floor. See the moon and Venus? If you look closely you can see Jupiter hanging below Venus too.
Here at the conference... all my science ed buddies have gone home so it's a bit strange but a new conference starts soon and more buddies will show up.


Me and Igor watching the UK basketball game at NARST!


Penguins marching!
Today I worked all day on my presentation for NSTA and pulled a half dozen buckets of weeds... and after dinner watched the movie, Water for Elephants.

It has cooled off some. Spring came at least two weeks early this year and it was quite warm all week with both neighbors running their AC units (I could hear them through the open windows) but tonight is great sleeping weather.

Tomorrow I get to see Igor! It's been a whole year, I think. 


Lilacs in bloom... but they don't smell nice yet.

I just love the way dogwood flowers look against the cedar planks of this privacy fence in our yard.

You know, after almost six years of photographing nature with my Nikon D50, I think I have a pretty sweet collection of some stunning works of "art." Really, the lens and the lighting and the natural world do all the work- I just have to focus and push the button. But sometimes I think it would be cool to frame a dozen or so of them and dedicate a wall in my house to nature photography.

Friday... was supposed to be my writing day, but I had a meeting at school and it threw me off course. So, Saturday will be spent writing. I pulled weeds this evening and am managing to keep my lily garden looking pretty good. Maintenance. Maintenance. Two buckets of weeds every two days is the goal. Plus, I transplanted things that were growing the the wrong places. Must do.


I have a baby bald cypress that is just leafing out ahead of its mother. I'm going to nurse this baby until it's ready to get moved to a better location.

Virginia bluebells  in the front garden next to the baby bald cypress

Ferns coming up all over the place....

and I just LOVE the colors of the red buds and dogwoods and the bright green little leaves juxtapositioned against the dark wood. Must paint this.

Harlequin lily

Cute unusual daffodils back by the compost bin.
Class tonight went really well. I love teaching!


First day of spring, 2012
Jeffersonia diphylla, also known as Twin Leaf is my favorite native wild flower. When I lived in Charlottesville, a student gave me one and I planted it by my front door step. It thrived. See http://chrissysphotoaday.blogspot.com/2007/04/3-26-07.html

When we left Virginia three years ago I dug it up to bring it with me here. I put it in a pot and left it with a friend to water until I could retrieve it.
It died.
I was sad.
Very sad.
When we moved into this house in July of 2009, I spotted the twin leaves in one of the back gardens and asked the former owner if it was Twin Leaf and she said it was. However, so many things crowded out the garden back there, that I never saw the Twin Leaf plant again.
Today, I saw that I have FOUR plants! FOUR! I'm going to move them "out of the woods" so they can be enjoyed more, cherished more, and get a little more sunlight.

Now to find something in life that this symbolically represents on this first day of spring 2012. Hmmmm...Any ideas? What once was lost is now found... four fold?

Spent all morning giving a workshop for 50 teachers and tomorrow will be a repeat. It takes the wind out of me, for sure. I came home at 1pm dead tired, sick, dizzy, nauseous, and took to bed.


Baby dogwood flowers opening up...


Service Berry


I love spring, but I hate being hot at night. Last night I had to sleep with the windows open and I heard trains and ambulances all night. Until the trees leaf out, we can hear the traffic on the big road two blocks from here REALLY well and I do not like it. There are two hospitals within two miles of here, and the ambulances go all night. City living has its drawbacks, I suppose. Meetings most of the day, made curried chicken for dinner (again), busy week ahead. I miss spring break already.

I remember being 6 years old in 2nd or 3rd grade and it was spring break and it felt like if lasted forever, and I remember asking my mom what the difference was between spring break and summer vacation was. Oh, how different time felt then.


Spring has indeed come early, what with all the rain AND sunshine and warmth this month. I can't believe this tree flowered overnight. Seriously, I looked out the window this morning and this tree had not flowered yesterday. Last year, this happened on March 30th. Ahead of schedule, we are!


Tulips that look like daffodils

Worked in the gardens for quite a long time this morning. I moved peonies, moved lilies, pulled weeds, removed packed leaf debris, and I spread a lot of compost. Look what I found buried deep within my compost bin after two years? Look familiar?

Looking pretty with all the daffodils and tulips and spirea... next up, dogwoods!

A real daffodil.
So today was St. Patrick's day and we started the day with a big breakfast I cooked for the family. Egg and cheese souffle, creamy grits, and bacon. It felt like Easter morning! I kept thinking all day that it was Sunday and that I'd have to work in the morning, and was relieved time and time again to remember that it was Saturday~ and that I had another day to my spring break.


Why is Chrissy filling plastic Easter eggs with plaster of Paris?

Tonight we had a creamy chicken curry with mushrooms and spinach for dinner. I worked on curriculum development all day. Spring break ends this weekend and next week is full of meetings every day. It was a great week to have a break!


I think this is Siberian bugloss. It's in the shaded garden next to the studio on the west side.

A couple wood poppy plants are blooming in the west side shade garden too. I had lots last year... let's hope more pop up.

This grape hyacinth bloomed over night in the lily garden, it seems. It wasn't there earlier this week and now it's in full form.

The primroses are just starting to bloom. I moved a few so they would be in better places this year. I love love love primroses!

This is Bloodroot in the front garden by the sidewalk near the swamp cypress tree.

Spirea! I have a couple bushes that have bloomed in the yard, out front and in back.

 The Ides of March. Julius Caesar was warned to beware this day (Ides means middle) but it looks beautiful to me!

So the thought for the day is "maintenance." The word is derived from the Latin "manu" which means "hand" and "tenere" which means "to hold." Hand hold. I've been spending time in my gardens each day this week (spring break) and find it very therapeutic to hand-hold, to pull weeds and move plants from an unfortunate location to a better one. Each year I think I will keep this up, and maintain my gardens, and then suddenly they get out of control. They get "out of hand." At that point, maintenance is out of the question, and the work required is so significant that I just give up. The hands no longer hold, they "drop the ball."

This makes me think of many facets of life that need maintenance. Friendships need it. When years go by without catching up, it gets harder and harder to make that phone call. Marriages need it. Kitchen floors need it, bathtubs need it, gardens need it, and so do wardrobes. I spent a large portion of last weekend going through my closet and washing sweaters, making piles of clothes to give away, and organizing my dresser drawers. It was an overwhelming task (but I did it) and it wouldn't have been necessary with some maintenance. The fridge needs it. Hair needs it. My weight needs it. Even the skin on my face needs it. But relationships are the most precious things we have, and they indeed are difficult to maintain. Facebook helps, or at least it gives the perception of maintenance. Why should I call my friend M or my sister C when I am keeping up with their comings and goings on Facebook? False maintenance.

We live in a throw-away culture and maintenance is not encouraged. Why paint that out-dated ceiling fan when you can toss it by the curb and buy an brand new one?

Well, that's the thought for the day. Let's hope this year I can put forth more efforts on a daily basis to maintain the things and relationships that mean the most to me.


My son undertook a large task this week and finished today. He took off all the hardware on all the cabinets in the kitchen, mudroom, laundry room, and bathroom, and polished them all with Brasso. They gleam as new! This probably hasn't been done since the cabinets were installed nearly 20 years ago.


My brilliant husband modified the motor mounts we had been using to a much simpler design. And cheaper! I can't wait to get this curriculum in classrooms and see how kids and teachers take to it. My clever son built the car below...

Worked in the yard for a couple hours today and burned dinner because I forgot it was on the stove. Stunk up the house with the smell of "singed chicken."



Tonight I taught my solar car curriculum to my students. They did great! It was very successful and I was pleased.


The full moon was rising tonight and I looked out my office window toward my neighbor's house and this is what I saw- the moon rising out of her chimney. Way cool... I set up the f-stop and shutter speed and positioned my camera against the window for stability and got this amazing shot. That's Mars up and to the left of the moon. It's reddish to see with the naked eye, but turns out white with extended exposure.

Mmmmm... concrete sea birds!!!! Later, I went to Home Depot for some concrete mix to try and make concrete sea birds (aka ducks). Not sure it will work. Ice penguins were much simpler!


Today I made a snowchild. The snow was perfect for molding and I really wanted to just play in it, but I had work to do. However, I did decide to harvest some snow from the top of the boxwood bush and mix it into my kombucha, which made a lovely slushy drink. Then I harvested a Tupperware full of it for future drink concoctions. This afternoon it was lovely, warm, and sunny.

I am doing a really interesting research project and I have appointments through the day interviewing former students. I really like talking with them and finding out what they think about my topic. It's really great to re-connect. I think it's important to maintain these connections and my research is helping me do that.


It really snowed last night. I had no idea I'd wake up to this. Four inches of heavy white stuff all over the trees- it looked magical. White trees everywhere, like white spring blossoms. Below, a photo of the studio behind our house and the bird bath we saw a robin bathing in just a few days ago.

Looking east up our street...

Looking west down our street...

I had meetings all day and managed through them until around 2pm when a fierce migraine struck me. I went to my office and got in my Ikea chair with the lights off and after an hour or so I was well enough to drive home (barely... I don't remember the drive) and crawl in bed for the rest of the evening. Around 9pm I was able to get up and walk around the house. Oh boy, what a day. Oh, I found out today that an article I wrote for a journal about two years ago was selected for a chapter in a book. Pretty nice! I get a free copy of the book!


Sunday. I spent some time this afternoon out pulling weeds and thought it was becoming a nice spring day... and then this evening a cold front moved in and it started to snow. We watched a very strange movie tonight that we rented from Netflix called Departures. Oh my, it was strange, but very moving and it made me cry and really think deeply about the value of life and the sadness of death. It's the second Japanese movie we have watched this week and I think I'm developing a respect for the culture and language.


Saturday after the storms. My sweet husband worked all day on my solar car kits. He put together 28 car kits for me... while I decided to really get serious about developing and distributing more engineering design-based science curricular ideas in preparation for the new state and national standards.


In like a lion.

Today we had tornado warnings all afternoon. Hail, winds, horizontal rain- and I stocked the basement with water, food, towels, medicines, first aid supplies, and a rain coat. Random things to help alleviate the anxiety of the impending storms.

The storms, they passed. The blue sky came out and the clouds blew away as the attic creaked from the wind.