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Upgrade time again

The site may go a bit wonky over the next few days as I am preparing to upgrade WordPress and Gallery2 again as well as the plugin that embeds Gallery2 within WordPress. I’ve been putting this off for a while but figured I’d better just bite the bullet since some of the fixes are security related. I am backing everything including the databases up beforehand and this has gone smoothly in the past, but since our site uses a fair number of customizations and plugins, there’s always the potential for weirdness. If the site goes down for a bit, or just doesn’t look right, give me a few days to stomp out the bugs. 🙂

Update 5:00 PM: The major upgrade seems to have gone without a hitch and I have all sorts of new WordPress features to play with. 😉 There was a much upgraded version of the embedded Gallery2 plugin — if you scroll down and look at the sidebar you can now browse the album folders right from the main blog. I decided to wait for a major update to upgrade Gallery2 itself but I did finally go through the blog and replace all the pictures that were lost in the Typepad migration a couple of years ago; I had put them in a category called “fixpics” so I’d be able to find them easily, and I don’t know if that is the name of a software program of some sort, but I’ve been getting some weird site hits from ‘fixpics’ searches. I’m glad to have it gone and the broken links finally repaired.

By the way, I should probably put some sort of link up for this but if you want to see just the latest updates for the photo gallery you can chose “View Latest Updates” from the main Gallery page’s ‘Album actions’ menu and you can bookmark the resulting page. Go there today and you’ll see some neat pictures of our apple tree that bloomed last week.

Sharing the gift of wonder

As I mentioned in a previous post, we are trying to set aside a little money each month to donate to a worthy charity. This month we agonized over what that charity would be, since there are so many out there. Joy hit on the idea of finding an organization that helps children experience and understand nature, and after a bit of digging we found The Schoolhouse of Wonder in Durham, NC.

Their vision statement says:

Schoolhouse of Wonder is a consortium of lifelong learners dedicated to celebrating the wonders of the natural world. Through the ongoing study of natural and cultural history we deepen our understanding of the world around us, building a heartfelt relationship with nature and community.

This is exactly the sort of facility we had in mind. The Schoolhouse of Wonder runs year-round day camps and other educational programs for children and teens and we think it’s just a wonderful idea. It holds a special place in my heart, particularly, since a similar program called the Boyne River Natural Science Centre made a very large impact on my life when I was a child in Canada. I grew up in a very rough public housing complex in the city and was fortunate to have been twice selected from my school to spend a week at the Boyne River centre, where we learned skills that most of us otherwise would never have had the opportunity to acquire.

Among the experiences there that stand out in my mind are learning to harvest sap and make maple syrup, overnight camping in tents in the snow (it was unfathomable to me at the time how we could do this and not freeze to death, yet I actually got too hot during the night!) and in the summer session we studied and banded downy woodpeckers, and learned about stream ecology. One entire day was spent knee deep in the water with strainers and basins and nets, taking a census of what lived in the stream, and then analyzing what those populations represented in terms of the health of the stream itself.

Sadly the Boyne River Natural Science center that was so important to my childhood has since been discontinued due to lack of funding. The program made a lifelong impression on me and I’m happy we can give to a similar school… we’re going to keep looking to see if there’s anything similar in our area; I’d love to be able to actually contribute some time as a volunteer in addition to donating money.

Join The Great Sunflower Project

The Great Sunflower Project involves taking a moment to join and provide an address for the project organizers to send you free wild sunflower seeds, planting the free sunflower seeds when they arrive, then after the sunflowers are blooming, taking time to sit and log how many bees come to the sunflowers within a specific time frame. This information will be used to create a sort of map of bee populations around the world, in order to help understand the challenges bee populations face.

It’s a great idea all around; the sunflowers are beautiful, provide food for pollinators such as bees (and later, other creatures who eat the seeds) and watching the flowers is a calming activity that will help you get closer to nature.

The link is above but in case this post is read in a printed format, here’s the address:

Simon and Winter showing off their beads…

… that their grammy brought them back from New Orleans last month. I meant to post these sooner but things got a bit crazy around here with the new job and such.

IMG_3796.JPG winter_beads.jpg

We decided it would be better not to ask Joy’s mom how she got the beads. 😉

Whiskers 05/94 – 04/08

Whiskers 05/94 - 04/08

We got some sad news on Friday; Joy’s sister’s cat Whiskers had to be put down due to a blood clot that had paralyzed his rear legs. He hadn’t been well for some time and it was the kindest thing they could have done for him but he left behind a big hole in their family, especially for Joy’s sister Rita who had been his “catmomma” for 14 years.

Unfortunately, we don’t have a picture of Whiskers but still wanted to post a entry here, to honor his memory.

Update 04-30-08: Jennifer sent us a picture of Whiskers, which we have added to our gallery and above.