Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Pennsylvania, Here We Come!

Hello my blogging friends. I am going to Bethlehem, PA next week to see my grandma and am looking for some suggestions of things to do, places to stay and places to eat. We already know we might go to Dorney Park and we always eat at the Crossroads Hotel in Hellertown (BEST pizza and cheesesteaks, I kid you not). We are thinking about a day trip up to the Poconos or perhaps to the shore. Anyone?

Friday, July 27, 2007


I know several people have requested pictures from my trip to Spain. Here are a choice few. Above is what you will find in a typical tapas bar- this is yummy Serrano ham (jamón), sangría and the ubiquitous olives.

The above place is very beautiful, and the workmanship that went into creating it is stunning, but the circumstances surrounding its creation make it a difficult place to visit. It is called El Valle de los Caídos, or the Valley of the Fallen. It was built during Franco's reign, basically from slave labor. What you see in the photo is the entrance to a massive cathedral built into the side of the mountain. It's physically larger than St. Peter's in Rome, but there is some kind of no-no about any church being larger than St. Peter's, so the actual sanctuary doesn't technically start until like 50 feet in or something. Unfortunately, we were not able to enter because we were there on the feast of Corpus Christi and they were having a procession.

Ferdinand and Isabella's view from their castle in Segovia.

This is what I was doing while all of my friends were at the Wilco concert. Notice how light it is. It's 9:30 at night. Here, we are at the Bobadilla train station, about a half hour from Granada. We boarded an overnight train to Barcelona- we arrived at about 8:30 or 9 the next morning.

Walking down Las Ramblas- a beautiful boulevard where you can buy anything you could ever want, including live birds and chinchillas.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Lookin' for Fun and Feelin' Groovy

I just spent 2 full days at a teacher class for relicensure. I can hear the chorus of cyber groans coming at me from across the country. Rest assured, I did NOT have to think about Differentiated Instruction, multiple intelligences, NCLB, standards, benchmarks, National Standards, common curriculum, literacy, "strategies", accountability, PLCs, test scores, Instruction by Design or ANY such educational bullshit jargon. Really! I sat from 8-12 and then 1-4 with rapt attention- for 2 days! I did NOT tally how many times my instructor or other participants used a particular educationalese jargon word, nor did I doodle excessively in the margins of the notebook I brought or come up with snarky nicknames for the other people in the class. I did not do a crossword puzzle, make a grocery list, paint my nails, write letters (who does that anymore, anyway?), plan my week, clean out my purse, nap, or correct people's grammar. There were no ice-breakers.

For those of you who know me, you may be wondering if I have recently suffered a blow to the head, rendering me somewhat dull-witted and newly compliant. You may wonder if I've had a sudden brush with death, experienced a great loss in my life. You may wonder if I'm smoking crack.

Believe it or not, none of the above applies to me. I actually got to take a class that was interesting to me, that held my attention, that was enjoyable!

I got to take a class that was dedicated entirely to...."Simon and Garfunkel, the poet musicians of folk rock". Now, you may call yourself a fan of these guys, but I listened to their albums over, and over, and over again all through college. I am bordering on Uber-Fan. Something about the lyrics just really spoke to me- especially some of the lesser-known songs. Some of the lyrics can still invoke an emotional reaction from me- "Can you imagine us years from today, sharing a park bench quietly? How terribly strange to be seventy." I love that song ("Old Friends"-from the album "Bookends"). Mr T and I frequently sing "America" when we are on road trips, as well as "Keep the Customer Satisfied" . Great, great songs.

In the class we talked about recurring themes in Simon's lyrics, about how Art arranged the vocals so brilliantly, about political and social issues that were topical at the time of each album's issue. We compared songs, we compared the lyrics of "Somewhere they Can't Find Me" with those of "Wednesday Morning 3 am"; the song "Richard Cory" with the poem of the same name.

I have to write a 2 page reaction paper OR submit a lesson plan in order to get credit, but that's really it. I would feel slightly guilty about taking such a great class were it not for all of the duds I've taken over the last few years.

I am planning on taking what I learned in this class and somehow applying it to my Spanish classes- taking popular music in Spanish and analyzing its poetry, its meter, rhyme, social impact, etc.

P.S. 2 days 'til Harry Potter!!!!!

Monday, July 09, 2007

No Rest for the Wicked

Hardly a moment to catch my breath, let alone blog. Here's what I mean:
Let's start with last Friday. (June 29, night before my birthday).Blues Fest here in the Quad City area. Blues on the Mississippi, cold beer, 2 stages, mosquitoes and over-priced carnie food. Mr. T and neighbor went with their boys- the girls and I stayed home with neighbor's wife and daughter.
Saturday, graduation party, which was so lovely and I was honored to have been included. This is one of those students that I would actually hang out with and I am in a book group with her mom. She even sent me a thank you card for coming- I didn't do gift cards this year, just cards, it was getting too spendy for me.
Same day, I went to one of those home party things, which was actually fun and I bought nice things for entertaining. It was a "sandals and sangria" theme and I drank too much sangria and wore espadrilles instead, rebel that I am. Had to scoot outta there and head over to my mom's since she made a nice birthday dinner for me.
Sunday, met my cousin and his family (all 6 of them!) for lunch, they were passing through town. It was wonderful, they are such kindred spirits-just wish Maine were closer. They are staying with us this weekend, on their way back east, so we'll have more time.
After lunch, took Claire to Camp for the week. She was very excited to be there, and her counselor was a student of mine when Claire was born! Many of the other counselors and AC's are also students or former students and the pastor is the father of a student of mine. The nurse who checked her in is my co-leader in our Brownie troop, and we saw several other families we know as well. So, I didn't feel like I was just dumping her off in the woods for a week with strangers.
Got home (this is all still on Sunday), got a call from another cousin (I only have 6), who is in town doing this project. So, we hauled it over to the marina to pick him up, check out the rafts and brought him here for dinner. He ended up sleeping over- laundry and shower were calling his name.
Monday, swimming lessons for Lydia, who amazed me with her bravery. She was all nervous about being in the deep end, then jumped right in and kicked her little legs like she'd been doing it her whole life. They take lessons at a woman's home, and they have learned so much from her. Not being a terribly skilled swimmer myself, it's important to me that they are deep water safe.
Mr. T's family-aunt and cousins from Georgia, more cousins from Colorado, his other aunt that lives here and his brother all descended upon us came over for dinner on the porch.

Tuesday, the ubiquitous swimming lessons, then Mr. T and I went to see Billary in the afternoon. It was quite the thrill to see them both-don't care what side of the political fence you sit on, the man's got charisma.

Wed., the 4th, we had a bash- about 30 people came over for grilled burgers and keg beer ( soooo much easier than cans or bottles as far as clean up goes) and ended up at my mom's for fireworks. Hippy cousin and 4 of his friends from this project stayed over, and showered, for which I'm sure they were delighted- a solar shower just doesn't cut it after awhile.

Thursday required that I take them back to the rafts before taking Lydia to swimming lessons. One of the girls asked if I could then take her to Highway 61. I resisted the urge to ask "So you can revisit it?". I said sure, and asked where. She just said, "oh, just anywhere." I then realized that she was going to hitch hike up to Winona, Minnesota. This group of travelers frequently squats in abandoned buildings, they dumpster dive. Why not hitch hike? (Aside from the fact that it's extremely risky behavior and freaking stupid?) I had to get in my "mom" words of wisdom. If the person looks freaky, don't get in the car. If you are weirded out at all, don't go with them. All the while I was worried about her safety, I was suddenly struck by the fact that she herself could hijack my mini-van if she wanted. I sized her up. I figured I could take her if things got freaky. (I say this in jest, but you know how your mind can jump from molehill to mountain inside of 30 seconds sometimes.) I did end up dropping her off and she thanked me after slathering herself in SPF 50- you don't want to get a sunburn, or skin cancer while hitch-hiking, for Lord's sake! After we waved goodbye and I said a quick prayer to St.Christopher, I had to then explain to Lydia that this was something she should NEVER, EVER, Under Any Circumstances do. Too many messed up people in the world. I trusted this girl, but what about some sicko who could potentially pick her up? I'm trustworthy, but what about some psycho that I would theoretically pick up? Too much margin of error for me, with possibly fatal consequences.

Friday, we went to fetch Claire from camp. Mr. T jokingly calls it Jesus Camp, after the movie of the same name (shudder). It is a Christian camp, with more of a focus on the camp than the Christian. She had a blast- talked non-stop when we went to lunch, sang us all of the songs, let us in on all of the camp sub-culture.

Saturday, we caught our breath, Sunday we all went to Chicago with my mom to see Wicked- all but Mr. T. He caught the Darwin exhibit at the Field and was quite happy to do so by himself. No one tugging on him "Can we go? Let's go over there! Over there! There!" It was a wonderful day-great show, no traffic. Love Chicago.

Monday, more swimming lessons.

Tuesday, my cousins and their families met us at Adventureland. What a day- none of the adults were too much into the round and round, back and forth, nausea-inducing rides. But, what fun for me, my 3 cousins that I grew up with, their spouses and our 10 kids!

No wonder my laundry isn't done and my house looks like a tornado went through it.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

One word meme

Shamelessly stolen from Belleza. The one word thing is very hard for me, but a good exercise in moderation.

1. Where is your mobile phone? purse

2. Relationship? life

3. Your hair? uncooperative

4. Work? necessary

5. Your sister(s)? none

6. Your favorite thing? book

7. Your dream last night? forgotten

8. Your favorite drink? lemonade

9. Your dream car? luxury

10. The room you're in? messy

11. Your shoes? many

12. Your fears? dark

13. What do you want to be in 10 years? happy

14. Who did you hang out with this weekend? EVERYONE

15. What are you not good at? finances

16. Muffin? cranberrywhitechocolate

17. Wish list item? tuition

18. Where you grew up? Iowa

19. The last thing you did? tidy

20. What are you wearing? grubby

21. What are you not wearing? fashionable

22. Your pet? feline

23. Your computer? husband

24. Your life? joyful

25. Your mood? peaceful

26. Missing? Claire

27. What are you thinking about? house

28. Your car? messy

29. Your kitchen? ugly

30. Your summer? speeding

31. Your favorite color? green

32. Last time you laughed? today

33. Last time you cried? Gilmore

34. School? August

35. Love? essential