Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Big Day in the Kitchen

I was so excited to hire Robert and Braden for the day to help me cook a bunch of food. I wanted to test as many new recipes as I could in one day, and I planned and shopped for a couple of days ahead of time.

I can't tell you how much fun it was to have them in the kitchen for the day. I wish we'd remembered to take a few photos, but we were awfully busy. We did manage to sit down and eat at one point (carrot and ginger soup with coconut cream garnish), and they went and goofed off for a little while with Cass. Not for long, though. We stopped off at Central Market on the way to my house and went a little crazy in the Asian aisle, in front of the Wall of Soy. We serendipitously discovered that if you eat straight adobo sauce, which is crazy hot, and then eat nori, which is seaweed, the nori makes the heat go away like magic.

They really love cooking, and they know a lot about food. They were tireless, fun and enthusiastic. The time they have spent in the new Clearwater kitchen with Mat has made them so confident. When we were tasting things, they were unabashedly opinionated, which was great. They have this crazy idea about opening a restaurant at the school with the menu being made with ingredients bought at the gas station.

By the end of the day, we had made fifteen things, then we fed ten people. I know the two aspiring chefs are going to be feeding many more. As for me, I could barely get out of my chair to make the pancakes for dessert, and they were all full of energy.

You can read more about the day, and a couple of the recipes we worked on and perfected, at The Udon Noodle Soup was the biggest hit of the evening. The rest of the recipes will be posted in the coming week or so.

(And please consider this a ringing endorsement of Braden and Robert as employees. I wish I could hire them every day, and they are saving up for a trip to Europe this spring.)

End of post!

Friday, February 5, 2010

Clearwater Has A New Bus!

One week before Winter Break, our Blue Bird Mini Bird yellow school bus drove into the school parking lot in a cloud of smoke. Matt, our driver/staff member tried to drive it to the mechanic but gave up the attempt after a block or two because the smoke was so bad.

Matt driving our new bus

After our bus was towed to Earl's Garage, our great mechanics, they diagnosed the problem as cracked cylinders and recommended a brand new engine. In the 2-1/2 years we've owned and operated our 1991 yellow school bus, we've discovered just how problematic a high-mileage (over 270,000 miles), older bus can be. We considered replacing the engine, but it did not make sense to spend a lot of money to put a new engine into such an old vehicle.

For the past month and a half as we debated repairing our bus, we also scoured craigslist and dealers for available buses in our price range with adequate capacity. As of last week there were no good buses available and the families whose kids ride the bus daily continued to limp along arranging carpools to school as much as possible.

Then over the weekend, the clouds parted and the angels sang. Matt discovered a 2003 23-passenger shuttle bus for sale, in immaculate condition and well-maintained. The owner agreed to sell it to Clearwater for $10,500, instead of the $12,500 asking price, considering the $2,000 a nonprofit donation. Despite the large expense, School Meeting authorized the purchase, reasoning that having a bus is a major asset for the school and this bus's newer, high-quality body and engine will provide long-term reliability.

School Meeting has made a huge commitment to the bus as an investment for all Clearwater students. Clearwater has initiated a pledge drive to help us finance the bus purchase. Please consider a one-time or installment donation; contact us by email or telephone (425-489-2050).

Matt drove our new bus into the school parking lot for the first time yesterday to enthusiastic applause. The very first trip was to Mill Creek Sports Park for an ultimate frisbee game. The first trip for daily riders was from school to home yesterday evening.

As you can see from the photos, the bus is gorgeous inside and out. The windows are huge, the seats are comfortable for the driver and the passengers and the ride is smooth and quiet.

Here's a short video of the bus and the excitement surrounding it.

End of post.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Soccer at the Field

Here are a LOT of soccer pictures from a December day at Mill Creek Sports Park. Note the variety of ages and sizes. On this particular day a couple of Clearwater alumni who happened to be visiting the school joined the regulars to play soccer. (Shameless plug for donations for a new bus: We need the bus to take this many players to the field.)

In addition to playing games, many Clearwater players also run practice drills to improve their skills. Since everyone began playing several times a week a few months ago everyone's individual skill and ability to execute strategic plays as a team has improved markedly.

The little five-year-old girl in the foreground of the first photo really wanted to play, but she is so tiny and has never played soccer so everyone was afraid she'd get hurt in a rough and tumble, high-energy game. Instead, while everyone else was playing she and I kicked the a ball back and forth and teamed up to kick it all the way around the entire sports park twice. She also got to practice a little goal kicking with everyone after the game was over.

It was heartwarming and wonderful to watch eight- and ten-year-old goalies make a great show of leaping to block her ball and miss so that she made her goal every time. No one suggested that they do that. They instinctively understood what would please her and generously included her and ensured her success.

An eight- and nineteen-year-old going toe to toe.

Lots more photos after the jump!

The symetry of the players in this photo is lovely.

Matt leads the charge.

Valiant and failed attempt to block a goal.

Goal-kicking practice. Impressive form, Stephanie!

I took a bunch of pictures trying to get this goalie in action. He is poetry in motion!

This photo is grainy and the lens isn't aimed quite high enough, but here he is in mid-leap.

End of post.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Creative Soccer When the Weather Is Bad

This week the blog posts focus on soccer, which is passionately played almost every day by several students of diverse ages and two staff. Most days everyone treks up to Mill Creek Sports Park, featured in a past post, to play on the synthetic turf there.

There have been some pretty miserable days when it is so wet no one wants to be outside at all. On those days, passionate soccer students figured out a way to play, one-on-one or two-on-two, in the largest basement room. They get a great workout, too.

Airborne player and ball. Cool!

On Thursday check back for photos from soccer play at Mill Creek Sports Park.