Friday, May 28, 2010

You Can Stretch Right Up and Touch the Sky

Dollman Beachside

What an excellent summer it's been so far, and it's only just begun! I've already had toes in the sand and feet in the surf -- both Atlantic and Pacific in the same week. One of these summers I'll accomplish a Three-Seas-In-One-Week Hat Trick, I just know it!

Today has been spent pottering around the apartment taking care of little details such as packing, loading MP3's, and (in some cases) putting patches over holes in the bottom of our favorite pair of jeans. Looks like the UK weather is going to cooperate after all: no snow in the forecast for the next two weeks at least! :)

Just a quick travel update for those of you who are keeping track. Whenever I go on an Adventure, my dad's parting words are always the same: "Have fun, be safe, and be a blessing." Please do remember to pray for us and for those whom we're visiting. There's never any telling what the Lord might have in store.

May 20 - 23: San Diego, CA
May 21: Students' last day
May 24-28: Teacher In-service Week

May 29-June 13: UK TRIP!
June 16-20: Port au Prince, Haiti (conducting a seminar for national English language teachers)
June 20-30: Sleep.
July: Work on projects. (Possible road trip up the East Coast?)
August: Back to work.

Have a great summer, guys!

Have fun, be safe, and be a blessing.

Monday, May 24, 2010

How Lucy Nearly Killed Us Multiple Times

She must really have been dreading her Maid of Honor speech at the rehearsal dinner, that's all I'm saying: why else would she have tried to kill us multiple times en route from from the airport to our hotel our first night on the ground in San Diego?

First, you must understand that she rented a tiny little car with a tinker-toy engine. It was basically like riding around in a Tupperware container. Immediately upon leaving the airport, we followed the directions of her Garmin out of town toward our resort hotel, stopping only at an In-N-Out burger, where she made an illegal turn across three lanes of traffic against a red light, nearly killing us in the process.

Meanwhile, while we had been waiting to make the previously-mentioned turn, the realization that we were not in the best part of town had wormed its worried way into our sleep-deprived consciousnesses. The thing that tipped us off (other than noticing somewhat belatedly that we were surrounded on three sides by dilapidated buildings and strip clubs) was the crazy-eyed pedestrian who quick-walked directly in front of the car, sweating profusely and muttering to himself.

"You might want to lock the doors," I said, whereupon Lucy proceeded to fumble with the buttons on her door and manage to roll down EVERY SINGLE WINDOW IN THE CAR before finally hitting upon the locks. "Sorrrrrry!" she kept saying, flicking her head around in an attempt to watch all windows at once while simultaneously panic-stabbing at the buttons.

Then we turned illegally across traffic at a red light, but eventually we made it into the drive-thru of the In-N-Out, where Lucy partially rolled down her window to order our burgers. At the pick-up/pay station, by then well into a complicated story she was telling me about her extended family, she got her arm halfway out of the window before realizing that she'd need to roll it down further for better reach as she handed over her money, but she again hit the wrong button and rolled the window UP on her own arm.

Driving down the San Diego freeway, Lucy chowed down on her burger while at the same time bringing me up to date on the news of her life. This was all well and good, except I noticed then that the more into her stories Lucy got, the more often our car would drift in a frighteningly aimless manner from one lane to another. As it was late at night and the roads were mostly deserted, this was not really a problem... UNTIL we found ourselves on a narrow, twisted mountain road dotted with a plethora of warning signs alerting us to everything from the possibility of dangerous S-curves, flash floods, rock slides, and rabid cougars to the Zombie Apocalypse and cattle crossings.

In the middle of one of Lucy's most involved tales, we took one turn with a bit of a lurch and I was horrified to realize that to our immediate right was a drop-off with no guard-rail to protect from accidental driftage.

It was at that point that I clutched her arm with one of my bony hands and said, "LUCY. You have to be CAREFUL!" and then bossily proclaimed that there would be no more stories until we were safely checked into the hotel.

At any rate, we did eventually make it to our hotel well after midnight (which to us felt like 3:00AM), fell into bed, and proceeded to feel perversely energized. We talked for a few more hours and then slept until 6:00AM California time, but our bodies woke us up because they thought it was after 9:0oA.M.

And thus began our weekend.

As impossible as it may sound, it only got better!

Wildcat Canyon Road

She's single, gentlemen!

Sweet Home

Love that Laugh


Friday, May 14, 2010

All that we see or seem

Last night I had a very odd dream in which I was having an old-fashioned slumber party with some of my middle-school friends, only we were our current ages. We stayed up nearly all night talking, even though my friend Angela supposedly had to be at work early in the morning (Wal-mart).

BUT, the interesting thing is that while my friends were up jabbering, I fell asleep and had a dream.


Poe must be so proud!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Oh, Food

I realized the other day that I have not been making healthy food choices lately. I decided that this week I would turn it around.

Yesterday was fine (relatively speaking).

Today's food intake:

Breakfast: Coffee with sugar and sweet Italian cream. No food because I overslept (again).
Lunch: A roll
Dinner: Stopped for Chick-fil-A while running errands, then came home and ate half a bag of cheezies.

I need to get a grip.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Consider Yourself Looped

In case I've inadvertently left anyone out of the loop, let me bring you up to date on my summer plans, should you care.

May 20 - 23: Flying out to San Diego, California for a wedding.
May 21: While I'm gone, my students will have their last day of school.
May 24-28: Teacher In-service Week.
May 29-June 12: UK TRIP!
June 15-17: Projected trip to Haiti
June 18-30: Sleep. (Or go to Mexico. Or up the Eastern seaboard. Or whatever.)
July: Work on projects.
August: Back to work.

So there you have it.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

You Are What You Eat (or not)

Somewhat unusual foods I have eaten:
Salo (raw pig fat)
Eel (crispy fried)
Snake (crispy fried)
Dog (in jiaozi, a kind of steamed dumpling. Delicious no matter what's inside.)
Lotus root (Does that make me a Lotus-eater?)
Seahorse (They might have been a garnish, but I tried to eat mine. Not a lot of meat.)
Shark fin (soup)
Goat (mmmmm)
Congee (not that weird, but fun to say)
jiaohua ji (a whole chicken wrapped in lotus root and baked in mud)
Pijiu Yu (beer fish)
Duck tongue (Looks about as appetizing as it sounds.)
"Fish stomach" (I never did find out what kind of fish.)
Stuffed pig stomach (This my grandma made for us when we were kids.)
Scrapple (If you have never heard of this, you are lucky.)

Actually, this list isn't as long as I thought it would be.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

April Reading

The Legend of the Seventh Virgin, Victoria Holt
I've said it before and I'll say it again: for all the constants that exist in her plots (the motherless heroine, the grand estates, characters sailing to foreign lands, the standard family intrigues and secret-keeping, etc.) I never can be certain which direction the story will take, whether or not things will end well or in tragedy, and whether or not I will end up liking or despising the central characters. Thank you, Victoria Holt, for keeping me guessing! [4/5]

Girl in Hyacinth Blue, Susan Vreeland
A backward chronological journey tracing this history of a supposedly lost Vermeer. Luminous prose, rich historic detail, and complex interpersonal struggles combine in a work that truly has been artfully done. [4/5]

The Good, the Bad, and the Mad: Some Weird People in American History, E. Randall Floyd
Although decidedly odd, most of these Americans weren't nearly as strange as the title of the book would lead one to believe. Still, I'm glad I read it. Poor Sarah Winchester. [2/5]

The Secret Woman, Victoria Holt
She kept me guessing once again, only this time I had fabricated a much more complicated plot in my head than the one VT laid down. Also, I didn't much care for the central male character. But still, I'm never let down by her adventuresome Gothic romances, no matter how cheesy the cover art. [3/5]

Friday's Child, Georgette Heyer
Upon a second reading, I have determined what makes this book so magical. It's not just the humor and romance in the interaction between the central characters that makes this story shine: it's the chemistry between the hero and his little group of best friends that really adds so much to the flavor of the story. [5/5]

The Stars Speak: Astronomy in the Bible
, Stewart Custer
Concepts of astronomy made super simple, simple enough for a non-scientific mind like mine, even. That being said, serious students of the stars would be able to pass this one over as too simplistic except for the fact that Stewart Custer layers biblical truth into the mix, working in Old Testament prophecies, theories regarding the Star of Wonder, and other biblical truths just now beginning to be understood by modern science. Most interesting of all (to me at least) is his theory that before the Greeks shall we say "corrupted" the constellations, they could have been used to read the Gospel in the stars. [3/5]

The Princess Bride: S. Morganstern's Classic Tale of True Love and High Adventure, William Goldman
This marks my second time reading the novel and my first time reading it with one of my freshman classes. I must say, Goldman's fake-outs didn't stand out to me on my first read through, but they certainly made an impact on my kids!

I wish the characterizations from the book had come thorough more strongly in the movie. There's something perversely satisfying about hating on the Buttercup-of-the-book and ranting against how much she doesn't deserve the love of the amazing Westley, whom - by the way - totally and completely has my heart. (The Westley of the book far surpasses the Westley of the movie in all categories.)

One little criticism: although I think Goldman's "revisions"/interruptions/explanations are stellar, I do not care for ALL of the back-story in the beginning. His memories regarding his teacher and his dad are fabulous, but the little section regarding his canoodling by the pool, not to mention his constant bringing-up of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, puts somewhat of a strain on the already-cluttered narrative. Good editing should have cleaned that up. [4/5]