Wednesday, October 20, 2010

What's this Blog about anyway?

One of the oddities of teaching for a small school with a steadily declining budget is that you end up doing a little bit of everything. This year everything means in addition to teaching math, I am working as the 8th grade disciplinarian and teaching a math/writing enrichment/elective thing.

I am gearing up to teach it as a social studies/negotiation class using this awesome game. In preparation for it, I am doing a lot of reading about late 19th and earlier 20th century European history. My current book, and inspiration for this post, is Fall of Eagles, by CJ Sulzberger. Rather than try to describe it, I'll quote it and you can see why it is so delightful(?!)

"Outstanding among the Romanovs had been a creative, brilliant, visionary, half-mad giant and a German nymphomaniac, long since dead. Outstanding among the Hohenzollerns had been the psychopathic heir to a boorish father, one who aspired to the arts and culture of peace and became a familiar symbol of warlike talent, who dreamed of everything and left nothing. As for the Hapsburgs, since Charles V, the Wunderkind of political marriages, they slowly, steadily, undramatically but with the diginity of great noblemen, slid down the hill of fame. In each case the flicker of talent was submerged in a night of mediocrity."

If anyone has any good resources on this period (Franco-Prussian War of 1870 - WWI) let me know.

Sunday, October 17, 2010


The weather has contrived the last three weekends to push me out the door and onto my bike. I've been riding up to the end of Deadwood Creek Road and then splitting either left or right. It probably ends up around 16 miles round trip, depending on how far up I go. Both roads go on indefinitely; Hwy 25 (left) goes over to Alsea and a turn to the right gets you lost up high on logging roads.

The ride doesn't begin with such wildness. The first mile and a half, through Sidell Flats and past the community center, is quite pastoral. It is a mix of pasturage, young orchard and yard that stays open and unwooded until the big hill at the head of the flats.

Once up the hill, the road clings to the steep side well up and above the creek. The flats down below have been allowed to return to forest. Never having been commercially planted, they are a lovely mix of big leaf maple, fir, cedar and hemlock. The cut-away face on the left drips spring water, ferns and moss. Don't get too distracted; it's a hundred foot fall to the creek below!

The view opens up (and the pavement ends) at Alpha farm (MP 7), the traditional commune that has been part of Deadwood since 1971. There are thirty-odd people living there at any given time, so the collection of cars, building and people is always worth checking out. In recent years, their garden has taken off so it's nice to take look at it and see what's doing - who's working and what's growing. A short while later is another farm, Rock Creek. (MP 8) Unlike the relatively compact Alpha, Rock Creek is stretched out over a mile of creek bottom. They have a small vegetable garden but mostly it's pasturage for cows, goats and horses. The view isn't great because, again, the road is far up above, but somehow it still feels open.

It's one more mile to the T.

Go right and you'll cross the Wedding Bridge, pass the biggest chestnut in Deadwood and get to see Jesse's giant anti-bear bee platform. Quickly, the end of county maintenance comes and the road begins to ascend into the mountains. When I rode this way two weeks ago, the big leaf maples had carpeted the road in six inches of giant webbed leaves. I was the only traveler to disturb them and left an almost imperceptible track in my wake. When I was this way two weeks ago, I was treated to a remarkably tame and unconcerned baby bobcat. The size of a small housecat, it let me watch and follow it from a distance of ten feet or so. Finally, it got bored and ran up the hill and disappeared.

Go left and you'll pass a few scattered houses before coming to pavement again. This is Hwy 25, which passes up and over the mountains to the Alsea Valley. Yesterday, I rode up about three turns to a little swatch of clearcut private land. I sat up on the slash pile, ate my sandwich and and looked out over the valley. Twilight rolled in and the moon rolled up from the East. As I left, I noticed three long, black piles of cougar scat. Nothing unusual, but it was a bit unnerving as I rode off into the gathering dark.

The ride home is fast, fast, fast. The long, steady climb of the way up is replaced by a long, steady descent and before you know're home.

Monday, October 4, 2010


One week ago I took a vacation. I drove down to California, played two days of ultimate and drove back. All kid-free. The whole thing felt so normal for a pre-kid Mizu, and so totally bizarre for the now-Mizu. It was fun. I found I still love road-tripping like that (four or five women in a car, not a lot of time, and even less of a plan). You can really cover the miles when every stop doesn't entail exiting car seats, getting shoes on, reclothing three kids who have somehow removed every stitch they had on ten miles ago, tag-teaming the bathroom, and getting loaded back up again---only to repeat in sixty miles.
This trip also reconfirmed my love of the game of ultimate. Our team was twelve women who practiced very little together pre-tourney. The other teams were legit teams with 20 women and a whole summer of practicing and conditioning under their belt. As you may be able to deduce, our record wasn't very good at the end of the weekend. But I found, despite my fondness for winning, that every time I jogged (or crawled) out to the line to play another point that I was full of joy to be doing just that.
Thank you to the other women on Further--both those that came to Regionals and those that played any of the rest of our patchwork season. I enjoyed being on the field with you for practices and games. Hopefully it will fit into all of our busy lives again next season.
Coming home was wonderful. I had missed the family lots and apparently missed an achingly beautiful fall weekend in Deadwood. This weekend it is raining, but are working on one of the year's most satisfying tasks for me--filling the woodshed. Opal, Helen, and even Lucie are old enough now to help a little, which makes the whole process even more fun. Here are a couple of pictures of them in action: