29 July 2009

rolling on vacation

Eighteen hundred air miles and six hours in not-made-for-comfort airplane seats took us to Chicago for a week.

Didn't take a camera (so sad, really). How did that happen? I needed, no...longed, pined, craved for, my camera.

There were fireflies, city rats, three-foot narrow spaces between lovely narrow two-and-three-story brick houses leading to secret gardens in the back, ornate iron gates, brownstone houses that would make your knees weak, sidewalk fairs, Chicago "dipped" beef sandwiches with cheese and hot peppers requiring half-a-dozen napkins per person, the Newberry Library book sale, fresh beet salad (beets gathered at a farmers market), spectacular afternoon thunder storms, sidewalk cafes with some seriously amazing foods, card playing into the wee hours of the night, rib-sticking German food (complete with live polka music and a dance floor), an evening at the Steppenwolf Theatre to see "Up", and an evening with family, friends, wine, with my husband's own recipe made-from-scratch beef wellington dinner.

A few facts to share:
:: second, third, and fourth story walk-ups have steep, narrow stairs that list ever so slightly to one side.
:: everyone I know in Chicago lives up these stairs.
:: neither wine nor beer improve the ability to trek these stairs.
:: people who live in Chicago are used to walking and traveling in distances measured in minutes and blocks (and in the case of using a cab, in dollars), not miles.
:: cities are noisy and have a cornucopia of smells (let me just say, not all good).
:: airports, buses and subways are the best for people-watching.

09 July 2009

forestry camp

Hey ho ... a dear friend and I have returned from the Stanislaus National Forest with six days of forestry camp for teachers (Forestry Institute for Teachers: FIT). Early mornings, late evenings, games, presentations, soil digging, tree measuring, star gazing, sleeping bags, campfire songs with fiddle and guitar, s'mores (no sir, no camp would be able to hold their head high without that sugar-fest of chocolate, graham crackers, and roasted marshmallows), as well as field trips to private and federal logging sites, a cedar saw mill, and a co-generation electric plant (which cleanly burns the waste from the saw mill as well as the collected yard waste from homes nearby--now this is good green technology; what little waste the plant creates is used in dairies).

We came back with many books, knowledge (from all the various viewpoints left to right), and the best hands-on supplies to outfit a study unit on forestry.

I think we also came back weighing at least five extra pounds. It seemed to always be meal time, with the most delicious banquets. Between the meals there were never-ending freshly prepared snacks (rice crispy treats, warm cookies, popcorn, fruit).

Proof below that I am not the only goofy teacher who dresses up.