Monday, June 13, 2011

My Town Monday: Stopping to Smell the Roses, San Diego, CA

Last week, I did an author visit at Cajon Park School in my own little town of Santee, CA. I got to speak to all the 4th, 5th and 6th graders in two assemblies. The visit went super well. These students are incredibly creative and inquisitive and respectful--all good ingredients for a successful visit. Thank you to everyone involved in setting it up. (Principal Ginn-May, Librarian Siebern, PTA, anyone I may have forgotten).

Note to Cajon Park students: Great job on creating characters Emily and Hailey! Some of you need to write stories starring one of these protagonists. Yes, the characters are THAT good!

I have to think it must be particularly empowering (to use an overused word) for students to meet a very local author. Because a very local author goes to your library and shops at the same grocery store as your family and works out at the same gym as your mother. This must make writing a book and getting it published or, in a larger sense, attaining any dream, seem so much more manageable and doable. Which is the way it should be because a dream is attainable. I'm just guessing about the local author stuff. There were no author visits, local or otherwise, at my elementary school when I was growing up.

Before I forget, thank you Middle-Grade Author Ellen Booraem for sharing your Character Chasing exercise. We had lots of fun with it!

I always learn a thing or two and usually more at a school visit. Here are a few of my thoughts following this visit.

I had lunch with some of the students, and we ate in this very amazing garden. Cajon Park School's garden is run by a mother-daughter team (hello Judy and Liz!) with lots of student help. Students learn (I'm sure they're not even aware they're learning most of the time) in this garden. This shot shows just a small segment of the garden.

We sampled apples and cucumbers from the garden. Now, I thought we couldn't grow apples in San Diego because we have such a short cold period, and apple trees need dormant time. But, it turns out there are two varieties that do well here: the Anna apple (needs 150-200 cold hours/year) and the Beverly Hills apple (needs 100 cold hours/yr). So, the Anna apple does a little better inland (where I live) while the Beverly Hills apple does better along the coast. I want an Anna apple tree (Mr. Summy, are you reading this post?).

I love raised flower beds. But I'd never thought of using plastic decking (such as Trex decking) to build the walls. Brilliant idea!

They have four composting bins built of leftover pallettes and chicken wire. The shiny round object in the middle is a special composting thermomter that not only tells you the temperature inside the mulch, but also what the temperature means.

I ended up staying to chat (imagine!) for a while in the garden. Liz offered me some frog spit (a lime sherbet push-up!). I left with homegrown carrots, green tomatoes (which I'm frying this evening) and a bouquet of flowers.

Even better, I left feeling relaxed.

And it occurred to me as I drove the short twelve minutes home, that I don't feel enough of that. And who would've expected a school visit to result in a kick-back, de-stressed state? ;)

Please click here for links to more My Town Monday posts! It's always fun to see what's going on in other corners of the world.


Anonymous said...

Yay!Happy you had fun!
My sister,Carlie,has a little garden consisting of Cherry Tomatoes,Tomatoes,peppers,lettuce,and strawberries.We have a longggg line of cherry tomtoes on our window that shows the back yard.We also(i forgot to add) have Garlic,too.When we lived in Pennsylvania our neighbors were always out of town and they had a cherry tree,so we would go up the hill to there house with a little stepping stool and pick the cherries right off the tree.The best part is,they never noticed!(:

Jenn Jilks said...

What a great post. Well done. We're pretty limited in the garden. I hurt my foot and had to sort of scatter some seeds and rake soil over. It'll be fun seeing what works out.

Sarakastic said...

Wow what a cool school!

LynNerd said...

What a wonderful author visit, and how nice that it was only 12 minutes from home. The school's garden is awesome. That's great that you got to take some produce from it home with you and discovered a type of apple tree that will grow in your backyard. Nice post!

Barrie said...

AbaGayle: I'm thinking of growing cherry tomatoes from one of those upside down things.

Barrie said...

Jenn: I did that one year with a bunch of flower seeds. It ended up being quite the beautiful bed!

Barrie said...

Sarakastic: it was a cool school!

Barrie said...

Lyn: It's not often I have a school visit that close. ;)

Green Girl in Wisconsin said...

What a neat spot to visit.

Anonymous said...

You can do that or do what my dad did and get a bucket,cut a hole in it and do it that way.My dad did that when we lived in Georgia(:
our friends had the upside down thing and they couldn't get anything out of it because a bird made it's nest there.On the up-side it had cute little birdies!(:
Oh i have a few questions...
Will you have a giveaway for your new book coming out?
Will you have an excerpt?
Thanks bunches,

Stacy said...

Sounds like a great visit - and a great school.

Charles Gramlich said...

Sounds rejuvenating