Saturday, August 29, 2009

Too busy to blog much this summer. . .

Here's a recap on the last month, when I've been too busy to do much blogging. Mostly pictures. (Note: click to enlarge - and I've just discovered it's MUCH easier to move pictures around if you use the "Edit Html" option than dragging them around in "Compose".)

The rest of my journey to Idaho at the beginning of the month was spectacular, starting with a lovely visit my brother R. and I had with my friends in Boise, where we always eat wonderful food and stay out late by their koi pond catching up with each others' families, jobs, travels, and thoughts.

They also introduced us to a hilarious British stand-up comedian, Eddie Izzard, by showing a video of a show done on a visit to the U.S. some years ago (in drag).

This kept us up until 3:00 or so, but we managed to get off on our drive through some of the most scenic parts of central Idaho the next morning,

. . . stopping in Stanley, a little touristy town, where a sudden cloudburst brought a scattering of hail, which our waitress (a student from south China) had never seen. She was very excited!

Spending a couple of days in Mackay, Idaho, where my family maintains a little vacation home bought by my grandparents, was a trip back into the 1960s, when I was a teenager. The furnishings are mostly the same, and there is even a stash of old magazines from the late 60s.

(Here's the view from the house, across the road to the Lost River Mountains.)

The end of my trip was a lovely evening soak in the pools at Lava Hot Springs with my sister, as the weather had cooled off enough to handle these naturally-heated pools (no sulphur smell). My mother's family grew up there in the Depression years.

The day after getting back to the Twin Cities, I picked up the younger of my young adult sons from his summer camp job.

Our dog Rufus had unexpectedly rallied a bit, which allowed B. time to visit and say goodbye. Then he was off to Chicago on the super-cheap Megabus to visit his good friends who had migrated down there this year for school.

At the end of that week, we picked B. up in Chicago on a very long day's road trip to Cincinnati. We faced heavy rain, heavy traffic, and interminable road construction, pulling into Cincinnati fairly late at night. Older son T. had arrived from New York by plane, but was stranded on the tarmac for a couple of hours due to heavy weather there, coming in five or six hours later than planned. Here's a shot of a downtown boulevard. Those are little red-hot peppers growing alongside the road among the flowers.

The wedding was lovely, and the spare belts and ties and shirts I had brought with me came in handy. My niece was lovely and seemed genuinely happy. Her two young nephews were ring-bearers - the youngest tyke fell asleep for the ceremony, so his cousin pushed him up and then down the aisle in a hastily borrowed stroller.

The wedding and reception were both held at the Newport Aquarium, across the river from Cincinnati. This was a brilliant choice, as we had the whole building to ourselves through the evening, for a wonderfully catered meal, dancing, and wandering around looking at fish.

Earlier in the day, we stopped at the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center, where my spouse P. spent a good chunk of time learning about the history of slavery in this country. Subsequently, we have both started reading more about this - I thought I was pretty aware, but the story is 250 years long and has many twists and turns, as the nation and its economy changed and grew. To say the history is shameful is just a beginning. To try to comprehend the ongoing cost is mind-boggling. It's heavy lifting even to read about it, but now that I know more, I feel compelled to do so.

We headed back on Sunday, again making the long drive in one day, but this time skirting the center of Chicago. The road construction was quiet, too, which allowed us to make steady progress through what would have taken hours more during the week. I kept alert by doing yoga stretches at rest stops - highly recommended! Must remember to do the same through the work day, when I get fairly oblivious to the results of hunching in a tense way over my computer screen.

I started teaching my fall evening (adjunct, moonlighting job) class last Wednesday: "The Spiritual Journey." For our first book, I'm once again introducing future accountants and nursing administrators and many other returning-to-school adults to the complex and baffling book I and Thou, by Martin Buber. I've created a study guide, but it's often tough going - but gives us a framework to talk about religious ideas outside any particular faith perspective. From there, we'll read The Sacred Pipe by Black Elk, Being Peace by Thich Nhat Hahn, and a choice of a more traditional spiritual classic (which includes work by Teresa of Avila, Juliana of Norwich, St. John of the Cross, etc.) We end up with SuperNatural Christians by Sallie McFague - another somewhat tough text for these mostly working adult students. It's fun to teach, but a lot of work on top of my day job in student services. It's a good thing I've corrected the vitamin D deficiency that my new doctor diagnosed last spring - I seem to have more energy these days than I did last year.

So - that's the busy August, which is rapidly plunging me into a busy September. Getting away for a couple of brief breaks made me feel that I had at least HAD a summer. I'll be posting when I can, and reading at least some of what you are all posting as I can. Here I go - VROOOM - into the early autumn!


Anonymous said...

Idaho is lovely! Sounds like you have been busy. The slavery history crushes my heart to learn or read more of. Shameful indeed!

Anonymous said...

What a delightful overview! I've been so stuck all summer that I have a bit of travel envy, but it's really fun to follow trips like yours and see your photos.

Once upon a time I carried a dog-eared copy of "I and Thou" around with me. Still think there are some terrific insights there. His work always reminded me of that great saying:
"We're meant to use things and love people. Most of the time, we're doing the opposite."

Have a wonderful beginning-to-the-year!

Minka said...

Looks like great summer and great photos! You're quite a photographer! And writer!

Rose said...

Wow! You have been very, very busy.... Looks like you have had some good times. The class you teach sounds really interesting as well...

Kim said...

Got a chuckle at "spare belts and ties and shirts"...maybe because I can so relate to that role!

Madame DeFarge said...

Glad you had a good, if busy time. Idaho looks fantastic and I'm envious of the lack of sulphur smells! Hoped you're recharged for autumn now.

Nancy said...

There is so much going on here! You've been very busy. I loved going from idaho to the Twin Cities (where our home goods still reside after a year) to Ohio! I think the wedding at the aquarium sounds perfect. And the books you are using are wonderful, too. Wow! What a journey for one post.

Renee said...

What a jam packed month you have had. The pictures are wonderful.

Renee xoxo

Leone said...

Sound like a very eventful summer. Thanks for sharing it.

Laoch of Chicago said...

Beautiful pictures. Being an existentialist I found Buber to be interesting although it seems like a very difficult book to teach to a class.

Renee said...

Mary Ellen you are beautiful. I love your picture.

Thanks for the tip. Good idea.


Reya Mellicker said...

What a beautiful place! It sounds like you've been busy in a really good way. Glad Rufus is hanging in there.

darlin_virg said...

Eddie Izzard is a funny guy. I really like the picture of the Lost Mountains from your family's home. Interesting to find out there is an Underground Railroad Museum.