Wednesday, March 30, 2011

A Wonderful Experience

Last weekend, our studio performed an original ballet based on Dr. Seuss stories. Beginning in January,  dancers auditioned and I and the five other teacher/choreographers began the process of turning the classic books into ballets. The costumes and props were hand made and specifically designed for the dancers and the pieces.

Ellen and Arianna got their parts and practiced once or twice a week for several months. These rehearsals were in addition to their regular ballet and contemporary classes that they take during the school year. These girls love to dance and they loved practicing and hanging out with their ballet buddies. Now that the show is over they are sad that they don't get to go to rehearsals anymore. We are all wondering what we are going to do with ourselves now that the show is over.

The fish at dress rehearsal

Before the show: Arianna a Sneetch and Ellen a Fish

Ellen in the center during the show with the Fish
Arianna pictured here with the fish
Truffula Trees and Dr. Seuss
I don't have pictures from the Sneetch dance that I choreographed but I should have some video soon. Here is the Star Machine that my friend Alyse and I decorated. It is huge as you can see and the Sneetches walked through it. Here is the front side.
Proud mom and dancers after the show.

Grandaddy William and Grandmother Gail came down from Charlotte to watch!
A special thanks for my love. You picked up the slack around the house while we were rehearsing. You also designed and planted our amazing vegetable garden this spring without any help from me. This ballet was a wonderful experience that couldn't have happened without your encouragement and support. Thank You Daniel.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

You're Invited

Columbia Ballet School Company Dancers Present

The Wisdom of Dr. Seuss
Five original ballets

3 PM March 27
Richland Northeast Auditorium
Columbia SC

Green Eggs and Ham
Choreography by Jhe Russell

Oh! The Places You Will Go
Choreography by McCree O'Kelley

The Sneetches
Choreography by Jen Kruidenier

The Cat in the Hat
Choreography by Joy Alexander

The Lorax
Choreography by Anita Ashley and Ann Kent

Contact me for ticket information.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011 Album: Hunting Island 2011

Beach camping with good friends.
Hiking to the lighthouse, A beautiful view from the top, Climbing on the playground of fallen trees, Tromping through the mud, Nature center, Walking the pier over the lagoon, Spotting the osprey on her nest. Walking on the rocks out over the waves, Flying the kite, Chasing the kite that got away. Warm fires, Dads playing guitar, Swinging on the hammock. Older kids playing late night yahtsee, an original play by the kids and sweet voices singing their made up songs. Last hike down the boardwalk trail. Always sad to leave.

I think we took about 1000 pictures on this trip! Everything was so beautiful. I narrowed it down to about 37 photos and you can see them in this album I've posted above. You can scroll through them individually or hit play and watch them as a slideshow.

Monday, March 07, 2011

Urban Garden Notes: Starting Spring Right

The ole peach tree is blooming.
Spring is a busy and exciting time for the Southern urban gardener. It's not only a time for planting but a time to measure the readiness of the soil for the entire season. While the world is turning green we are following our now yearly ritual of strengthening the soil before everything really cranks up.
Onions planted during winter are now growing strong.
Garlic planted last Fall really responds to the warmer weather.
These cabbage grew uncared for and completely unattended all winter. They won't last long now!

It all starts with the soil. The soil community is the life of the garden. It must be put, with the limitations of time, money, and knowledge, in the best condition possible. Here are some of the products we use to increase the productivity and long-term health of the soil:

Compost-each Spring we borrow or rent a truck and drive to our friendly sanitation department where they load us up with compost produced from the city's yard and construction waste. This compost is not aerated and so is probably not as high in microbial content as would be actively aerated compost, but what it does do is add water retention capacity and nutrient to the soil. If you're growing in the south-east, and especially in the Sand Hills of South Carolina this cheap source is an excellent way to boost the soil's capacity to hold water. Better water retention means less watering, more stable growth for plants, and a better environment for the microbial life that makes healthy soil possible. Our composting facility sells compost for $30 a yard cubed. But they are very generous and always send us away with more than that. As you can see in the picture below the compost has been deposited on top of the beds and will be lightly mixed in the top several inches.
Here is a view of our main eight beds. The darkened rows are covered with rich compost. It will be integrated into the upper-layer of soil along with other amendments.
Sea Kelp-we purchase Thorvin Sea Kelp. This is a great source of nutrients containing over 70 different vitamins, minerals (major and micro), and other bioactive agents. A standard fertilizer focuses on the major essential nutrients nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium, without which not. But these nutrients are not sufficient. Sea kelp is a great catch-all supplement for other necessary nutrients. We apply it broadly when conditioning the soil, put it in our seed-starting mix, and sprinkle it in with fertilizer as a side-dressing during the spring and summer seasons. As a side note sea kelp is also a great amendment to add to your compost, enriching it and giving the bacteria in the compost a chance to break down nutrients before the application of compost to the garden soil.
Espoma Fertilizer-we like Espoma because it is organic and it also includes microbial life. Microbes are crucial for any healthy soil. They break down nutrients, tie up nutrients so that they are not leached, and even form beneficial relationships with some plant roots. When applying Espoma Fertilizers we are able to provide a higher level of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium,   and add the crucial mibrobial life that will help make those nutrients available to plant roots.  Espoma makes a variety of fertilizers for different applications. We use Garden Tone.
We planted the majority of our Spring garden this past weekend. Below are two of the trays of seedlings. And, a reminder of our need to learn more and continue to experiment: In the top tray there are empty cells. We learned this year that onion seeds degenerate very quickly. Never use old seeds. Buy new seeds each year. Old seeds will not germinate. In the lower tray the spinach on the left is going to seed. Why? We have no clue. One friend suggested the length of time I was running my grow light may have stimulated flowering in the spinach. Who knows. More failure is sure to follow. But there will also be lots of good eating.
 Here some strapping young kale are sprinkled with Biovam beneficial fungal spores (a bit of an experiment on our part) before being introduced to the garden soil. Kale is powerfully nutritious, grows well for us, and is extremely productive. We started a bunch this year.
We are harvesting turnips, cabbage, and collards (Arianna and Ellen hold a single turnip and single collard below) from our uncared for and unattended winter garden. The winter garden here was easy. We planted in the Fall and left these guys completely alone all winter. They grew slowly but surely and now we have an early harvest before the Spring garden gets kicking.

Friday, March 04, 2011

Historic Camden Revolutionary War Site

As a part of our Colonial Period literature study and history coop we are reading the book Johnny Tremain. It takes place during the Revolutionary War in Boston. Today our group took a field trip to the Camden, SC Revolutionary War Site. There was a small fee but it was well worth it. The tour guide was very informative and engaging. She took us through the Kershaw Mansion (pictured below). She let us feel the clothing and touch the uniforms and weapons of the period. We walked all through the house and spent the afternoon picnicing and playing on the grounds.

The wealthy merchant who built this house helped establish Camden as the largest inland trading town in the Colony. He wasn't able to complete the house before Cornwallis' troops took it over in 1780. Then the house and town became the main British supply post in the Southern campaign. The Battle of Camden was the worst American defeat of the Revolution. The original house was burned after the Civil War but was reconstructed and furnished in the late 1970s. Very interesting stuff:)

There are also other original small houses set up as museums, reconstructed redoubts, a part of a blacksmith shop, and gardens all on the site.
I highly recommend this as a place to visit.