Vacations

Archived Posts from this Category

Not-quite-summer vacation

Posted by on 17 Jun 2017 | Tagged as: 3rd Grade, caring, education, Education Professional, Vacations

It’s not-quite summer in our part of the world.

My students finished their last day of the year this past Wednesday. Like all endings, it was a bittersweet day for me. I handed out their report cards, we talked about how they can keep up with all the progress they made — and how if they spend their vacation NOT reading and NOT thinking about math the entrance to fourth grade won’t be as easy as it could be; and how if they just read for an hour a day and keep practicing their math facts they will find fourth grade a lot more manageable. I sent them home with worksheets, and a little toy, a rainbow crayon and fancy pencil and a little journal for writing and drawing in. We played some games…

Then they were dismissed, and I walked the few who weren’t being picked up by doting families to the buses, and waited with the other teachers for the signal for the buses to leave. One fifth grader (from my first crop of third graders) was in tears as her bus left the lot and we waved them on.

And then back to the room to pick up the pieces of my heart that the kids left all strewn about.

Yes, their summer vacation has started, but it’s still not-quite summer.

I am moving rooms this vacation — the new teacher in our grade will have my old room, a nice, secure location right in the middle of all the other third grade teachers. I get a room that has some advantages over the other but also some potential pitfalls. We are working to figure out ways to minimize some of the potential disruptions to my class’s learning environment. I spent several hours Thursday and Friday working in the two rooms — emptying out one and filling the other. Thankfully, I have help from unexpected places, but it’s still a gargantuan task.

So, for me, it’s not-quite summer.

I am getting some lovely new tables for the students to sit at, smaller than normal school tables but I am going to provide something called “flexible seating” where the kids get to decide the best locations to work (after some training!). I will have a smaller class, and this is the year to try a change. If it doesn’t work, we can go back to the old desks in nice, neat rows… I don’t think the kids would prefer that! We’ll have some open space to sit on the floor when I am doing whole-group teaching, and there will be space for some tables at the sides and back for group work. I have a couple of very small “teacher desks” that this year will be side-by-side because that’s the best layout for the room. I don’t really believe in carving out a large slice of the room just for my use, so I try to find ways that I can move among the children and teach from several spots.

It’s not-quite summer.

On the first day of summer, I am playing in a concert with the local orchestra. Then it will be summer — a concert with only three actual rehearsals. I would have been panicked at the thought only two years ago, but here I am — able to pretend to know what I am doing at least part of the time…

And so, as it’s not-quite summer I am sitting here with a blanket on my lap and a dog on my feet relaxing in the evening and not-quite planning lessons for the class that I don’t have quite yet…

Just dreaming. Dreaming of summer.

Visiting Friends: A Weekend of Fun

Posted by on 25 Jul 2013 | Tagged as: Art Museums and Galleries, British Columbia, friends, fun, garden, Gardens and Life, Uncategorized, Vacations

Last Thursday, Mother and I drove up to Port Angeles (again) and took the MV Coho of the Black Ball Line to Victoria (again) and began a short excursion that included Salt Spring Island (again) and Courtenay/Comox (again) and the Saanich peninsula (again). It’s something we enjoy, places that are beautiful, laid-back, filled with kind people and wonderful friends.

And I needed it. I need a little space to just relax and enjoy, to be myself and not have to worry about “everything” for a while.

It worked. Here in a nutshell is the trip we took, that encompasses shopping at Mouat’s in Ganges on Salt Spring Island, taking ferries between islands and peninsulas, walking in gardens, vistas off mountains (no pictures of that one, sorry) and amazing indigenous arts. If you have a chance to stop in Duncan, B.C. and take the tour of their totem poles (most of which were carved by native carvers just for this purpose!), do. It is full of insights into the history and life of the Cowichan and other local tribes.

Apple tree, floral borders, mixed plantings, all give interest and movement to the garden at the Filberg in Comox, B.C.

Apple tree, floral borders, mixed plantings, all give interest and movement to the garden at the Filberg in Comox, B.C.

Masses of impatiens in the borders at the Filberg gardens.

Masses of impatiens in the borders at the Filberg gardens.

Looking down the long pergola, covered with old (and productive) grapes.

Looking down the long pergola, covered with old (and productive) grapes.

The broken-tile floor of the kitchen in the Filberg house in Comox, B.C.  It shows an economical and whimsical way to introduce movement and color (and the slight variations in depth make the floor more comfortable for standing).

The broken-tile floor of the kitchen in the Filberg house in Comox, B.C. It shows an economical and whimsical way to introduce movement and color (and the slight variations in depth make the floor more comfortable for standing).

The occasional tile has a bit of pattern, to add even more interest.  Filberg kitchen.

The occasional tile has a bit of pattern, to add even more interest. Filberg kitchen.

The sign at the new and lovely Salt Spring Island public library; and Mother, for scale.

The sign at the new and lovely Salt Spring Island public library; and Mother, for scale.

The definitive text on breeding Great Danes, by Jill Evans, now living on Salt Spring Island, British Columbia..  Found on the shelves at the SSI public library.  Upside down on purpose!

The definitive text on breeding Great Danes, by Jill Evans, now living on Salt Spring Island, British Columbia.. Found on the shelves at the SSI public library. Upside down on purpose!

The visitor center at Cumberland, south of Courtenay and Comox on Vancouver Island.  Notice the replica canoe in the artificial pond, which provides some cooling and natural humidity to the center.  The center is LEED certified with radiant floors, some natural ventilation through a crawl space under the museum section, and natural light.  I won't have the crawl-space cooling (and with the shade our home receives probably won't miss it), but my house is going to be SO comfortable!

The visitor center at Cumberland, south of Courtenay and Comox on Vancouver Island. Notice the replica canoe in the artificial pond, which provides some cooling and natural humidity to the center. The center is LEED certified with radiant floors, some natural ventilation through a crawl space under the museum section, and natural light. I won’t have the crawl-space cooling (and with the shade our home receives probably won’t miss it), but my house is going to be SO comfortable!

Dinner guests in Courtenay...

Dinner guests in Courtenay…

Mother, holding a copy of Hetty Clew's book, "The Only Teller" at the SSI public library.  Hetty used to live on the island, and was a strong supporter of both the library and the arts.  We miss her.

Mother, holding a copy of Hetty Clew’s book, “The Only Teller” at the SSI public library. Hetty used to live on the island, and was a strong supporter of both the library and the arts. We miss her.

Interesting four-color Italianate house in Victoria.  LOVE the use of blue for accent against the caramel-chocolate-cream base!

Interesting four-color Italianate house in Victoria. LOVE the use of blue for accent against the caramel-chocolate-cream base!

Mother in front of the beautifully restored "painted lady" across from the James Bay Inn on Government Street in Victoria.  The sun was bright!

Mother in front of the beautifully restored “painted lady” across from the James Bay Inn on Government Street in Victoria. The sun was bright!

Coming home - the United States seen through a rising fog that enveloped us and kept us in suspense about 20 minute out from Victoria until just after we passed the breakwater at Port Angeles.

Coming home – the United States seen through a rising fog that enveloped us and kept us in suspense about 20 minute out from Victoria until just after we passed the breakwater at Port Angeles.

There will be more pictures, but right now I need to sleep… seems every time I sit down to write, I get distracted by “real life!”

Go figure.

Vacations, Dreaming, End-of-Summer-Time

Posted by on 25 Aug 2012 | Tagged as: British Columbia, children, food, Gardens and Life, good things, seasons, travel, Uncategorized, Vacations

Summer is almost gone, in our world. Astronomically, we have at least another month. Realistically, two weeks. If we are lucky, an “Indian Summer” in October for three or four weeks before the clouds close in permanently and the rains wash all the remnants of sunlight away.

A week ago, I was in “Beautiful British Columbia” — on Vancouver Island, enjoying the company of friends and my mother for a few days. Unfortunately, pictures that I took were few and didn’t really show much. But here is a quick travel itinerary!
Continue Reading »

Homeward, out of order

Posted by on 21 Aug 2012 | Tagged as: British Columbia, friends, good things, seasons, Uncategorized, Vacations

This has been a lovely vacation. Hard to write posts on the ipad, must remember to bring a keyboard next time! Hence, the out of order posting, and the posting of this the day I got home instead of while on the road yesterday. It was written while waiting for the ferry, when I didn’t have an internet connection.

Continue Reading »

Day Trip to the Volcano

Posted by on 05 Sep 2009 | Tagged as: children, Gardens and Life, travel, Uncategorized, Vacations

Mount Saint Helens. I was a young teen when she blew her top for the first time in living memory. Recently returned to the Pacific Northwest, I remember some inconvenience due to ash fall, and my parents’ worried expressions, but nothing like the people on the other side of the mountains for hundreds of miles. Where we lived, we had nearly a week before we got ash and never had to contend with real choking, day-to-night conditions. The ocean winds blew it all inland…

Continue Reading »

New favorite restaurant in Seattle

Posted by on 09 Apr 2009 | Tagged as: food, friends, fun, review, travel, Uncategorized, Vacations

Bamboo Garden just two streets north of the Seattle Center.

It’s vegan (except the fortune cookies) but you would probably not notice it. The food is filling, tasty and very nicely presented. Prices are reasonable. Parking was adequate, but it’s not really accessible. I think there is a ramp (not sure, came at it from the side and used the stairs), but the bathrooms are tiny. Which in all fairness, is a relic of the building’s age — they are clean and well kept (at least the ladies’ was, didn’t check the men’s…), just small. Narrow, too. Otherwise, the decor was lovely, and everything was neat and clean and inviting.

The service was excellent, and we will go there every time we are at the Seattle Center from now on. It just makes sense.

Did I mention the food was really yummy?

Yep.

REALLY yummy. And they can accomodate special dietary needs, too. Please check them out!

Vacation in Victoria

Posted by on 01 Jan 2009 | Tagged as: Art Museums and Galleries, British Columbia, children, friends, fun, Gardens and Life, good things, holidays, Politics and War, rain, travel, Uncategorized, Vacations, weather

Took the elder stidkid with me this past weekend to give him a chance to visit friends and see the sights of Victoria, British Columbia, in the winter.

Unfortunately, the same snow that hit us hit them also. So we were unable to meet up with some of our friends. We did however get to see our dear friends Hetty and Alan, and we met many lovely people over the four days of our trip.

Here’s the basics (with a few pictures to be added as I edit them in tomorrow — in the new year!):

We left home EARLY Friday morning to catch the 8 am sailing of the Victoria Clipper from Seattle (I had taken advantage of a package deal in November to be able to afford this — usually too expensive for us).

A quick trip across the Strait of Juan de Fuca and we were in Victoria and at our favorite hotel, the James Bay Inn, by 11 am. Lunch at the inn, followed by a bit of walking around downtown, we eventually found ourselves on the tour bus to Butchart Gardens for the Winter Lights display.

The gardens were lovely. We loved the singing and the brass quartet (two trumpets, a trombone and a bass trombone) that alternated sets while we were there. We started with supper at The Blue Poppy, the cafeteria-style restaurant so we could enjoy the walk. The gardens were truly magical in the snow, though I found myself slowed down by the crutches. Slowed down enough in fact, that by the time I got through the checkout line in the gift shop we had missed our bus by (imagine Maxwell Smart saying this…) “THIS MUCH.” Fortunately, another tour bus was still there and offered to take us back to town. This man even drove everyone to their hotel!

Saturday… we slept in.

A late lazy breakfast, followed by a short stroll to Miniature World. Well worth the admission if you go to Victoria, especially on a cold, windy or wet day. A couple of hours looking at very fine detail work, with some historical pieces and some whimsical. It was a good activity for us.

Lunch at “The Noodle Box” close by, each item can actually be two meals for most people! If you are noise (and loud music) averse, take out is a good choice. And it was close to the next tour bus — the one for the Victoria tour. A narrated run through the city’s commercial and historical districts, a good way to see where things are and get some background. Goes in a circuit from the Empress Hotel through the “posh” district to Oak Bay (brief stop for coffee/seal watching) and then back downtown.

Then we did a little bit of shopping before returning to the Inn for a nap and supper.

Sunday: all day at the Royal British Columbia Museum. The temporary exhibit called “Free Spirit” was lovely — if you read this in time, it was a great intro to the people who made British Columbia — from earliest times to the present. We also saw two IMAX movies, “Alps” and “Extreme” — very interesting. I am definitely in no danger of becoming a rock climber, skier, snowboarder, surfer…. but the scenery and cinematography were excellent. Spent nearly an hour in the gift shop as well — got some nice trinkets for a few people. The permanent exhibit on the First Nations people who have inhabited British Columbia is always a big deal for us — we nosed around that for nearly two hours! We didn’t go to the Natural History section this time (ran out of time) but I remember it from a couple years ago, and recommend it highly as well.

Monday: leisurely breakfast and packing, taxi to take the bags to the Victoria Clipper and then a short walk to the Parliament Building. Caught the tail end of a tour as well, so got a little more information about the government. Very pretty — not quite what I expected. Of course, we are from Washington state, which has a very large dome, open concept in the center of the capitol building, while the B.C. Parliament is housed in something that resembles the California capitol a bit more. I suppose I could complete the West Coast capitol experience by visiting the Oregon state capitol sometime. Then lunch at the Noodle Box again — keeping half for our supper later; and a taxi ride to our friends home.

After a couple hours’ great conversation and tea (and a shortbread Hetty made that I am told was stellar), we took the taxi back to the terminal to wait for the preboarding for the trip home.

Interesting people to talk to made the hour fly by. The Border/Customs officer was efficient, but not mean, and answered a question of the kid’s very well. Then, while we are sitting in the waiting area to get on the boat we are informed that there is a weather delay. We have the choice to go aboard and wait (can’t get off again because of immigration things), or leave the waiting area and get a hotel room until the next day.

Argh. We got on the boat. FOUR HOURS LATER… we leave the dock. I am glad I called my parents collect (before I got on the boat) to have them call Tom and let him know he needed to contact the Victoria Clipper terminal in Seattle — otherwise he and the younger stidkid might not have been able to ice skate and see an IMAX movie at the Seattle Center! They also saw our dear friend (riemann of babble fame) at supper — we missed him of course, but will catch him next time he is in town. Because we only pulled in about midnight, and being toward the front of the boat (with the exit in the rear) we got off nearly last.

At 2:30 when we pulled into the driveway, we were pretty exhausted. But happy to be home and pleased with our fine adventure.

It was a fine trip, but it is SO GOOD to be home!

More about the snow…

Posted by on 18 Dec 2008 | Tagged as: Gardens and Life, holidays, Uncategorized, Vacations, weather

The drive into town was fine.

The drive home…   well it was snowing.  Pretty steadily for about an hour while we were finished the shopping.  We figure it snowed 6 more inches from the time we left the house. A picture taken by the stidkid shows our estimate is pretty close.

almost 7 inches of snow on the ground at 3:30 pm

almost 7 inches of snow on the ground at 3:30 pm

By the time we had picked up the stidkid from the grandparents’ house the roads were very slippery.

Here is a picture of our road… no, the garbage trucks did not come today!

quiet street in the snow

quiet street in the snow

Coming home along the highway people were content to do about 30 miles an hour.  On the main road toward our house once we left the freeway, 20 was fast enough!  The only part that made me a little worried was the valley between our street and that road.  A piece of cake.  I joked with Tom that it would be funny to make it up that last hill and get stuck in the driveway.

as far as she got...

as far as she got...

No joke, apparently!

If you are curious about the weather patterns around Puget Sound, KOMO TV has a good summary of the current situation.

Update at 4:20 – there are multiple accidents all through the area, including a major intersection we came through just an hour ago…

And school is canceled for tomorrow. Vacation officially starts now!

I leave you for today with a couple shots the stidkid took of some especially pretty views — and one of the house, looking snug and warm in its blanket.

the plum tree branches holding up the snow

the plum tree branches holding up the snow


the wooded area at the back of the yard

the wooded area at the back of the yard


a favorite climbing tree, bigleaf maple

a favorite climbing tree, bigleaf maple


the back of the house, with snow still falling

the back of the house, with snow still falling

Finished

Posted by on 14 Jul 2008 | Tagged as: British Columbia, Uncategorized, Vacations

Yes, it took four days for me to post the last of the pictures from the trip. I will post my recollections later. The new week is upon us! And we have just bought a new washing machine…

The pictures are at the post titled: Picture Postcards.

The Itinerary

Posted by on 12 Jul 2008 | Tagged as: British Columbia, Uncategorized, Vacations

On July 3, we began our trip in Victoria, the capitol city of British Columbia. We finished up in Vancouver, Canada’s international city in the West and crossed back into the U.S. just east of Blaine, Washington on July 10.


View Larger Map

Next Page »