Friday, July 31, 2009

212/365 Two day-Oy Vey

Shelby was the fictitious teacher in the "Highly Differentiated Instruction" classroom. This facetious question was placed on the Question Board during the 2 day workshop. By the way, my answer? We should all be paid more and have more planning periods." Several times I had to ask if the talking was for the benefit of the group. I even did an "I'm waiting.." Worst part was that the rude naysayer teachers were the young ones, mostly the group from the Teach for America program. At the underperforming schools these recend grads are asked to give a couple of years to make a change. The change that some wanted to make was to stay the same. It was a 2 day battle in a room that was more than 100 degrees. Oy vey. Tomorrow I need a little tourism to regain my appreciation for this island state.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

211/365 Workshop/Sweatshop and a Guest Blogger

My day consisted of a workshop at an un-air conditioned high school with 200 + unwilling teachers, sweat rolling down my back and questions from participants like "Will we be paid more if we do this?"... suffice to say the highlight of my day was when my pen exploded all over my hands and legs.

Guest blogger EJG and IG had an adventure riding Honolulu city buses and visiting the famous Bishop museum; While they have no rail system, the buses ran frequently. Once on the bus, we were surprised to hear each stop announced along with the attractions located nearby. In New York, you're lucky if the bus stops long enough for you to push out of the rear door.
The Bishop Museum was worth the trip. We learned all about the interesting history of these islands and saw thousands of ancient artifacts. A little learning never hurt anyone... even while visiting paradise!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

210/365 LUAU!

It was so corney it was wonderful. The luau started out with a lei and mai tai. There were crafts and games as we watched the fireball sun sink into the turquoise sea. Then we gathered into a large circle and watched the roasted pig as it was removed from the ground, pork cooked by the hot volcanic rock. The meal, the show, the hula lessons, it was a stereotype come to life but it was lovely. The hula was so graceful and beautiful, the young fire eaters and warrior dancers so brown and buff, I didn't mind the silly self-indulgent jokes or the overplayed Hawaiian Wedding Song. It's something you just kinda' have to do when you come here, and there are worse ways to spend an evening.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

209/365 Pearl Harbor , Waimea Valley, Haleiwa

We were at the Ha'Lewia beach park (north side of O'ahu) and I asked if it was hard to learn to ride that. She asked if we wanted to try, offering up her board for Ilana to use. We chatted about Florida (she'd been to EPCOT Center), Hawaii, and travel. She's never seen snow, and would like to one day, but she said she doesn't need to leave the islands very much. Everything is here, she said. She takes her board on the river or to the bay, and nature washes away her cares. It's just the sky and the sea turtles.

We saw more rainbows than we could count today, including one beautiful rainbow across the sky as we contemplated the destruction at Pearl Harbor. Looking down at the tomb of more than 1,100 men, even our self-absorbed teen felt the weight of loss.

That was contrasted by the incredible beauty as we took on a waterfall and botanical garden in the rainforest section of the island. We swam beneath the fall, heavy with rain water, and walked the trails through the vibrant forest in the afternoon mist.

To top it all off, we enjoyed our 2nd Hawaiian shaved ice. I went all out and did the cream and azuki beans too. Mmmm. What a place!

208/365 Diamond Head, Snorkeling and Sunburn

An amazing day today. Hiked up the trail to Diamond Head and saw the circular crater on one side and amazing views of ocean and downtown Honolulu on the other. Then we were off to Hanauma Bay and preserve. After the mandatory preservation movie we snorkeled a bay that looked better than any aquarium I've ever seen. We didn't have a water camera or I would have posted photos of us eye-to-eye with sea turtles. Absolutely beautiful. Other than the sunburn (times 3) today was perfection!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

207/365 O'Ahu Here we come

We were out of the house by 5:15 A.M., and it was a long day. One hour to Atlanta, then eight hours fifty minutes to Hawaii. First class flying can't be beat. I saw 3 movies Milk, Yes Man, Best in Show, several House episodes a few Flight of the Concords. We had 2 meals on the long flight, mai tais while boarding, and hot towels for our hands and faces. The lav in the upper (first class only) deck had Aveda facial mist to keep our pores happy. Unfortunately the glamour ended when we got to the hotel of the company's choice. It smelled like old fish, and I'm pretty sure that some one's toenail clippings were on the floor by the balcony. We were outta' there. The Doubletree Alana is perfect. Only a quick dip at the beach and we were pooped. We stopped and bought some modern Hawaiian shirts and muumuus on our short walk from the beach, had a bite to eat in a local coffee shop, and off to bed. Everyone feels fine, but a 6 hour time change is tough!

Saturday, July 25, 2009

206/365 Reunions and Preparations

The "Into the Woods" cast reconvened for a party this evening, and it felt like we hadn't missed a beat, even though it's been a month since we stayed into the wee hours to strike the set. We caught up on the dirt, enjoyed some first class nosh, and then picked up where we left off. Funny, I didn't know these people at all when I auditioned on March 29th. I guess the experience of working together to build something larger than all of us has created a bond. We had to leave the party early... bags to pack and A.M. flights to catch.

Friday, July 24, 2009

205/365 Home..for 33 Hours

Project 365 is more than half way through, and I've really appreciated the way it forces me to document my days. It was particularly helpful in re-creating the timeline for Injury 2009. Some days, it's tough to find the right photo. I worked in Michigan City, Indiana until 4 PM, hopped 2 regional jets, and arrived home after 11 PM. My mind was whirling as I left the airport, because I'm due back there in 33 hours for our week in Hawaii. As I drove the to do list was forming in my head. I remembered to snap a photo for the day, though!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

204/365 Jacksonville- Not that bad.

Jacksonville isn't perfect. I'm not thrilled with the politics, and I'd definitely appreciate a bit more ethnic diversity. We could also use a diner and a decent bagel. But my travel to other parts of the country leaves me wondering..don't these people know there are better places? Sometimes I want to say, "Hey y'all, the road that got me in here also leads out!" This photo should be a lovely vista on the banks of the majestic Lake Michigan, were it not for the huge power plants belching ugly, smelly smoke. Our outdoor dining was under a toxic cloud, and my appreciation of the sunset on the lake was interrupted by my worrying about my lungs. All in all, Jacksonville isn't too bad. Lovely beaches, a river making a comeback, some beautiful foliage... not that bad.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

203/365 Priorities?

They gave the school district the meeting space for a song, and it's rather lovely. The chandeliers in the "Vegas Baby" restaurant at the Blue Chip Casino and Hotel look like fireworks (much nicer than my photo above). The restrooms have glass and marble tiles, mood lighting, and aromatherapy scents piped in for the guest's comfort. Every hallway has recessed flat screen televisions, displaying current news and sporting events. The brass railings glisten and the marble floors shine. Everywhere I look are opportunities to drink, gamble, smoke, or engage in adult entertainment activities. An ironic setting for a training for Title I teachers, some of whom teach kids who are homeless, nearly homeless, or living dangerously close to the edge of poverty. These teachers talk about having to help kids get eyeglasses, shoes, and winter jackets. It makes me wonder-what kind of a people are we?

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

202/365 Not My Bed

I'm on the road for work. I flew away from EJG for the first time since his surgery. I will lie in this bed, alone, and unable to wake and look over to the other side to be sure he's still there. I know he'll still be there when I get back, but I've gotten used to checking regularly.

Monday, July 20, 2009

201/365 Working Hard

He finished the script for the 2009-2010 play, I completed the handouts for 4 August customized trainings, a train-the-trainer institute, and started the rewrite of one of the original books on 4 Square. A productive 3 hour stint at Panera this morning. Now we're off to battle Workers Compensation companies (claim denied) and Clay County Courts (speeding ticket in error). Oy!

Sunday, July 19, 2009

200/365 25 My Arse

"Do you know what the speed limit is here, ma'am?"
"Actually, I don't, but I couldn't have been going more than 30."
"It is 25, and you were going 31. License, insurance and registration please."

Today I decided to visit the scene of the crime. Guess the posted speed limit.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

199/365 Home again... for now.

Cats awaiting apologies, laundry in piles, bills in the mailbox, cat litter tracked on the floor, weeds in the garden, pool water needing adjustment, bags to unpack, phone messages to ignore... so many things to do when we get home. Plus we are Hawaii minus 7, with no plans whatsoever for our week on Oahu. But maybe that's a good thing...

Friday, July 17, 2009

198/365 Visiting Finales

Our visiting "Up North" ended with a wonderful Italian feast, featuring first and second cousins. The girls all bonded, and the texting to the Richmond cousins started in the car on the way home. Earlier in the afternoon we had a tearful goodbye with the BJNR crew. I wish they were our next-door neighbors, yes really. 10 plus hours in the car is quite the schlepp, but it will be hard to keep us from coming to see them again.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

197/365 The BJNR Crew

We drove a scenic route to Virginia, taking the 301 roundabout to bypass construction and traffic in the Baltimore and D.C. region. The countryside was lovely, but the traffic lights weren't. At least we got to enjoy a mid-Atlantic lunch ordered on the touch screen at Wawa's. Arriving at the BJNR plantation in time for food (that would be any time...) we had a great reunion. The last time they saw EG he was working hard to self heal with the horizontal Mountain Dew therapy. He was vertical today, and took part in a grilled feast, lawn bowling and a trip to the ice cream shop. Friends like these are like family we choose.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

196/365 Walking, walking, Fantasticks, and Family

More hoofing it about today. I wish I had a pedometer, because I think we walked for at least 4 hours each day here in NY. After readying our luggage and leaving it with the bellman we hit the streets. We walked up sixth towards the park with a stop at FAO Schwarz. Lunch in the park included some great entertainment, 4 young guys playing Dixieland. The tree canopy was perfect, our bench seats gave us great view, and we people-watched and toe-tapped as we munched our Sabrett's and knishes. Then we were off to the Jerry Orbach Theater for the Fantasticks. Great performances in this intimate space. Our evening brought it all home with family and a Queens diner experience. The great-great aunt, still sassy at 8o years plus, the second and third cousins, with the giggling and the silliness, and the piles of food were really the icing on a great New York trip, but the road calls. On our way to Virginia for more family, fun, and undoubtedly more food.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

195/365 The Village, TKTS, Killer Pizza and 9 to 5 The Musical

The Arch at Washington Square Park

The NYC weather has been so beautiful, it's positively....Floridian! We're hoofing about town, through The Village, west and east, Times and Herald Squares, and back to hotel. A bit of browsing stores, about an hour for 1/2 price show tickets and some of Guiseppe's pizza. Yep, it was the real deal. Crispy-bottomed, fold able pizza that created a juicy, delicious sensation when the cheese/sauce energies combined on the taste buds. Off to another show tonight...

Monday, July 13, 2009

194/365 Present, Past, Future

We spent most of the day strolling the streets of midtown, taking in the sights. For some (KF, IG) these were new. For me these sights, sounds, and smells were familiar but distant memories. The girls stood before the lions of the NY Public library, atop a balcony in the bustling Grand Central Terminal, surrounded by the beauty of the majestic stained glass windows of St. Patrick's cathedral, and beneath the marquees of the Booth theater, and Carnegie and Radio City Music Halls. Then they lay on the grass of the lawns of Central Park, a respite from our day of near-incessant walking. The present, our lives as family and friends, walking, eating (Carnegie Deli Mmmmm) and sharing our experiences.

Our afternoon at the Central Park Zoo, KZ, twin first-graders in tow, made the trek in from Jersey. I'm her oldest friend, she told me. But of course that cannot mean we're old! Both of us responsible mommies, so different than our attempts at sowing our oats in junior high. The past lives in our hearts and shapes who we are.

And this evening a remarkable show, Next to Normal, an intense and emotional journey. The show had a lyric reminding us again that loving means we have pain, but we love anyway (or something like that), and it's true. Kids grow up and move on. Loving means losing in a way, and learning when to hold on and when to let go. Waiting by the stage door, chatting with the cast, our future Tony recipient spoke to the latest winner, listening to her advice on discipline and creativity. Alice Ripley told her that we practice our art every day. Sometimes we're paid to do it, sometimes we're not, but it's the discipline. It's sticking with a teacher. It's working hard. Wise words, not unlike those spoken by a young artist's parents and teacher, but maybe more powerful from this source. The future, full of pain and yet full of potential.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

193/365 Not from around here...

View from the window of our hotel room.

\As a New Yorker, I never spent a night in Manhattan, even when I lived in Brooklyn, only a token away. If we went to an opera, show, or concert, we schlepped back home with the train or the bus. I knew many Brooklynites who'd never came into Manhattan, ever! Now, as a Floridian, I'm enjoying the convenience of the midtown hotel room. Close to everything, and the world outside our door, we're ready to be tourists. And the tourism began today. Chinatown had its colors and odors on as we walked and shopped and snacked our way down Mulberry, Canal, and Mott streets. Little Italy offered a good finish to the meal with authentic Italian Ices. The night was so beautiful, and we had no plans, so we decided to take the R train to South Ferry and hop the Staten Island Ferry round trip. It's free! And we had an up-close nighttime view of the Statue of Liberty. Back on the R and we are in our room for tonight. I love this city, I'm glad I'm spending the night in the heart of it all, but I'm also glad that I'm just a visitor.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

192/365 Lawn Guyland

We made it to NY! Maybe it was 20 hours later than we'd intended, but still in time for the birthday festivities. Surrounded by all the Long Islanders, the air bubbling with their accents, hand gestures, and exclamatory emotions, I felt right at home, even though we knew few of my sister-in-law's friends. A great party, piles of Italian food, kids running amok, 40th birthday cake, and adult libation ensued. We were too pooped from the journey to partake in most of those, but just being there was a treat. Did awy evuh tawk lahik that?

Friday, July 10, 2009

191/365 Aye 95

Great view of pentagon. Picture taken during 2 1/2 hour detour for flat tire. 2 fatal accidents that shut the highway, one of which had us stopped, with the car OFF for a full hour in Georgia. Can we outfit the minivan with wings?

Thursday, July 9, 2009

190/365 Stage Dad, etc.

I listened to the director when he said not to use a flash, thus the fuzzy photo...

Another busy and eventful day. We started by not meeting MJ and LMJ, even though we meant to. I was buzzing about, readying the house for the trip and the hubby found the West Wing channel. What a shame, we were only blocks from their house. We had to go to St. Vincents hospital to see the "Workers Comp" doctor. He kept us waiting for 40 minutes, listed to the medical drama, from risers to hematoma, then asked us "Why are you here?" I just hope he checks the "yes" box and the school board's insurance starts paying the medical bills. They are in to the 5 digit category now. After the doc we headed to San Marco to see the girl's camp show. Theater Jax did a great job, as usual. I learned that I am married to a supreme "Stage Dad." Every time she sang, acted or danced he reached over and pinched my arm. He was so proud! And I am so bruised. Full of pride and laden with Starbucks, we headed to the car for our trip northward. Also eventful, but that is the subject of another post!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

189/365 Fountainside Dining

They like their water flowing freely, like a trickling stream or a gentle waterfall. We're happy to oblige using the bathtub spigot when we're home, but what of the long hours we must be apart? Enter the Petmate Deluxe Freshflow. Not only a provider of flowing refreshment, but a creator of ambiance. The gentle splashing makes the Iams Multicat even more delicious.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

188/365 Crime and Punishment

2 hours into the online Driver Improvement Course. I told the officer it would be really hard to improve my driving. I've been licensed for 23 years without as much as a parking ticket. To make it worse, I was CERTAIN he was pulling over the speeding car in the right lane, who whipped by me as the officer signaled me to the curb. I drove toward him, seeing him with the radar, confident that the other driver was going to get it. I wonder if the determining factor was the year-old bumper sticker that we've kept on the car as a sign of national pride.

Monday, July 6, 2009

187/365 Claws in the Contract

Hansel has his fourth eye infection in his 4 years. He gets a little drippy stuff going, and then starts a' blinkin. So we go to the vet. Like last time he needs 3 days of eye drops and we are to give him Lysine chews, an immune system boost for cats that comes in yummy chicken liver flavor. We were in and out of the vet, then back home in less than 30 minutes (after dropping $104). It wasn't really stressful for Hans, but he was none too appreciative. Declawed only in front paws, he used the rear to show me his gratitude.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

186/365 Oh Boy.

No, they're not going out, but they were hanging out. They swam, talked, laughed, and shared a bowl of popcorn. I watched, listened, and found every excuse to come and ask a question or see if they needed anything. She's on cloud nine and I'm worn out!

Saturday, July 4, 2009

185/365 Vitamin D and a Kickin' Sound System

I experienced a moment of vehicular affection this morning. No matter how old I'm getting, I don't get tired of the wind blowing through my (thinning) hair, or feeling the rattle of the ponies under the hood (and the rattle of my bones). Even though I was driving to pick up my teenage daughter from a sleepover, in my imagination I'm a teenage hottie myself, independent, free, singing along to the radio and cruising topless.

Friday, July 3, 2009

184/365 Beach, Burgers, and Besties

We enjoyed a morning on the shores of the Atlantic with our favorite toddler - and her parents. Even though our every request (goldfish cracker, pour the water on my feet) was answered with a polite "No," we love her still. By noon she'd had enough and started packing, so we did too. We had a bit of time before our 2 P.M. camp pick-up time , so we stopped and had hamburgers the size of our heads at the Sun Dog. A great morning.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

183/365 Aloha and Welcome to New Yawk

View Larger Map

Doing our best to salvage some fun this summer, we're planning a couple of excursions. Driving to NY and taking in a couple of shows and some family visitation with a much-needed stop with the BJNR crew in the Richmond Area, and then a play-work-play trip to the island state of Hawaii. Summer 2009 will not be known as the summer of Shands and surgery. It will be the summer of family fun and travel!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

182/365 Red Glare, Etc

I'm getting to be a bit of an old lady, I guess. I can't be bothered with the traffic and hassle, so we're choosing to forgo the hooplah on the 4th this year. Instead we're meeting some good friends for some good food. Fortunately we did get to see some fireworks tonight. Two local churches teamed up for a "Freedom Spectacular" right here on the island. Mostly they had bouncy things and face paintings, great fun for the little kids. We arrived early, left the teen to wander about with her friends, gossiping and laughing. We walked to Starbucks and back, taking advantage of the treat receipts earned from our morning coffee run. Back in time for the fireworks, we experienced an impressive display. Boy, do I love the power and majesty of a fireworks show. Maybe we'll head downtown after dinner on the fourth...