No H2O

No H2O

I’m a swimmer. I’ve got a problem. My pool is closed this month. They’re fixing the ventilation system and giving the pool a good cleaning job. That’s great, but I need that thing filled with water to do my favorite exercise (and keep my sanity).

I thought about trying to find some teachers and swimming at school. But it’s too hard to plan a time that works for everyone. Students stay after and the next thing you know, it’s too late. Not swimming for a month didn’t seem like an option for me. I can go a few weeks. But swimming has become sort of like meditation for me. The steady breathing, concentrating on counting my laps and not getting distracted with other thoughts have all been great side effects of becoming a lap swimmer.

So what is my solution? There’s a gym near my house that has a smaller pool. It’s still the same length, just in a smaller space. They have a month to month membership, so I’ve got that for 2 months. It’s convenient and is open earlier and later than the community center. So for the month, and then some, it will work.

I’ve been there three times. People don’t come to this place to lap swim. The lap lanes are more narrow and there are 2 lanes blocked off. Four people can comfortably swim laps, if needed. Sharing a lane might be tricky because of the narrowness. There is no life guard but there are windows to the pool and there’s a steam room on one end. It took me a little while to figure out why so many people walked through the pool area. Since the men’s locker room is at the other end, men strutting, without shirts, through the pool area is not uncommon.

At the community center, there are all sorts of people. All ages, various ability levels, families, people who are handicapped, not just physically but mentally too. People are there to get a work-out. At this other place, people are there to get a work-out all right. But the clientele is a bit different. I don’t really care what I look like when going to a gym. Not the case here. People make a point to look good at the new place. There are also personal trainers galore to help you achieve your fitness goals. Now that I think about it, they’ve got way more people than would be necessary. In short, these aren’t my peeps.

When I first hatched this plan, I honestly was thinking that I may possibly switch gyms because this other one is closer to my house. Heck, I can walk to it. But now that I’ve been a few times, my gut instinct from before is right. I’m just not as comfortable here. I miss my lap swimming peeps from the community center. I don’t think my community center friends would care about having 20 inch biceps. Yes, there is a bit of eye-candy at the new place. But there’s more to life than the package.


Semana Santa


Holy week in Andalusia, Spain is a big deal. I just witnessed it over Spring Break. It’s an incredible experience. Every night there are processions through the streets of Nazarenos with usually two pasos. There are marching bands, one before Jesus and one after the Virgin Mary. And these processions last for hours and bring tourists and Spanairds alike to the region.

If you recall, I was in Spain this past summer with my sister. Normally I wouldn’t go back to the same country so soon, but since our Spring break fell over Holy Week, it was an opportunity too good to pass up. I traveled with my friend, Margaret, this time. Margaret is Catholic, and knows a lot about the various saints and practices of the faith. Since I’m Lutheran, this was quite helpful. Margaret is also quite the foodie, so I’ll credit her with my new-found love of salmorejo too.

We spent 3 nights in Granada, 1 in Cordoba and 4 in Seville. We enjoyed beautiful Spring weather and walked nearly 150,000 steps during our journey. That’s 61.35 miles, for those of you who would like a more familiar measurement.

What is unique about Semana Santa in Andalusia are the nightly processions. Imagine your entire congregation, parading through the streets to the main Cathedral and back. Members participate in wearing costumes of Nazaranos, penitents, and could also be in a marching band. There are 30 – 50 strong, burly men that are carrying each paso that weighs up to two tons. They work in 20 minute shifts and carry the paso about a block at a time in between rests. Young children participate and hand out candies throughout the route. They also hand out pictures of Jesus or Mary from their pasos.

The “costumes” of the Nazarenos have been around longer than the US has existed. But a group from the US has used a similar costume for some very undesirable reasons. So as an American, it takes a little getting used to the sight. But once you understand the ideas behind the costume, it’s not bothersome. The costume is to keep the penitent anonymous, and they are reflecting on the walk that Jesus made before he was crucified.


We were in Seville for the climax of the week – Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter. Seville is Semana Santa on steroids compared to Granada and Cordoba. We didn’t have to worry about cars until Sunday afternoon because all of the streets had been blocked off the rest of the time.

The Andalusia region of Spain is a lovely place to visit. Semana Santa is a very special time to be there. I’m curious about what it would be like during a “normal” time of the year. But I truly enjoyed the Semana Santa experience. If you have the opportunity to try it out during that time, I highly recommend it!

It’s been awhile…

As you can see, I’ve taken a bit of a break from blogging. The school year is coming to a close and I’m finally seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. I’m able to think about writing again.

My mom is now at home. She was in the hospital/transitional care for roughly the first semester of school. At the end of January is when she came home. She is re-learning how to walk and is able to enjoy being at home and can do many more things for herself than she could while in the hospital. It’s a long recovery, but it is coming along, day by day.

I’m not going to promise daily posts, but I do hope to write at least a few times per month. I did return to Spain over Spring Break. Experiencing Semana Santa in Sevilla is incredible. I normally wouldn’t return to a country so soon, but since our break coincided with Holy Week, it was too good to pass up. We spent the week in Andalusia. Granada, Cordoba and Seville were all unique and beautiful in their own way. We’ll see if I can “pen” some of my experiences here.

So, I’m sorry for the hiatus. But it was a much-needed break while I was in survival mode and taking care of important matters, including myself!

Movie Night with Mom

Tonight’s movie was “Chef.” I liked it. I’ll probably give it 4 stars on my Netflix queue. It was a nice little escape for a few hours. Entertaining and happy. Well worth my Netflix fees.

My weekends usually consist of a movie night with mom lately. A light Rom-Com is always a good option. Why do we do this? Because we need a little escape and a breather from regular life. I haven’t been writing much (ok, anything at all) for a while now. The bottom line is that I’ve been too busy to write or haven’t known what to write about. I’ve had a lot on my mind and didn’t feel like trying to write any clever, witty or informative posts.

It started back in September when mom had some major back surgery. Everything was going as planned until her knee buckled after she had been home for almost 2 weeks. She needed another surgery and has been in the hospital/transitional care since. Mom is probably going through the most challenging time in her life. She has to re-learn how to walk.

It’s amazing to see what kind of equipment there is to help people re-learn some of the skills that we all take for granted. They get her on a Nustep “bike” and a LiteGait machine. The Nustep is a machine that is like a bike but it also has stuff for your upper body. The LiteGait machine is something that has a harness so you can walk on a treadmill or down a hallway while not supporting your full weight or having the danger of falling.

But the most amazing thing is seeing the determination of mom. Like all of us, she has her good days and her not-so-good days. But no matter what kind of day it is, she accepts her situation and has the courage to move forward and get better. Having a spinal cord injury requires a lot of patience. No one can tell you how much mobility you’ll regain or how quickly (or slowly) it will happen. You just have to keep plugging along and make the small strides each day that will eventually lead to getting back to your normal life.

Seven weeks ago, tonight, I was holding her hand while she came out of surgery in ICU. She has come so far since then. I know it may not seem like it. But the strides she has made are huge. I’m sure it’s difficult for her to see all of her gains and to visualize a future of easier, pain-free mobility. I can see it. I can visualize it. I have faith that it will happen.

My mom is an amazing woman. She has always been a role model, a great friend and the best mom anyone could hope to have. I know a lot of us think that about our mothers. But I have one that actually taught other parents how to do it right. 😉 I know that this recovery is the hardest thing she’s ever done. But I know in my heart that she will conquer this challenge and continue to be the incredible woman that she is!

BINGO! Well… almost…

Another school year has started. You probably could have guessed that since I haven’t posted anything in several weeks. I’ve got about 160 students in my five classes. But so far, things are going quite well and I’m enjoying them. One kind of cool thing about this year is the exchange students. I know of five exchange students and I have four of them in my classes. So I almost have exchange student bingo. But not quite… It will be fun to get to know these kids throughout the year. Seeing them experience a Minnesota winter will be quite interesting. I’m pretty confident that Finland and Germany will have no problem. But France and Sardinia, Italy might be in for a shock. A couple of my teaching colleagues are the hosts for a few of these students. It has been fun to see the documentation of “firsts” for these kids. The State Fair, the first taste of Doritos, first taco, football game, etc. The hosts are definitely having an enjoyable experience along with the students. I’m looking forward to getting to know them and I’m secretly hoping that I can recruit them for the Math Team.

The other thing that is new this year is our tech initiative and Personalized Learning. We’re a district that is getting into the iPad thing. The kids won’t get them until early November. But as a teacher, I’ve been to a few trainings and got mine in August. One thing I have done this year is figure out how to put my “notes” up on a Google Drive. I got the emails of my students the first week and invited them to my Google Drive. When I’m done with my notes, I turn them into a pdf file and post them on Google Drive. I have no idea how many kids are accessing it, but it will be nice to say that the notes are on the Google Drive if they miss a class. I’ve also posted the worksheets and assignment lists. We’ll see how well this works, but so far, it’s not much extra work on my part and will probably save me some time and paper.

Hopefully I’ll have some time to write more in the next few weeks, now that school is under control. My mom had major surgery and is in recovery, so that has also been taking up some time. I still have a lot to write about Spain, but as you can see, I’m a bit slow… Hang in there, dear reader. I’ll be back.

Sofia’s Place


Museo Centro de Arte Reina Sofia is one of the big three museums in Madrid. It was the first one we visited. It is known more for contemporary art. But the big reason why one goes to the Reina Sofia is for Picasso’s Guernica.


This is just a photo of the post card I bought. There are some areas in the museum where photos are allowed and some not. Guernica = no photos.

I didn’t really know anything about Guernica until last spring. I was delivering a survey to senior classes at school and I walked into a CIS (College In the Schools) English class. The teacher had a stack of articles about Picasso’s Guernica. When I saw it, I mentioned to the teacher that I’d be seeing it this summer. He asked if I’d like a copy of the article. Naturally, I took it. If you click on either of the links, you’ll get to the Wikipedia page and a Picasso site page. Both give in detail what the painting signifies. But the article that I got from this teacher talked about this being one of (if not the first) the first works by Picasso that made a statement about what was happening in the world. This dramatic piece about the horrors of war did not make it to Spain until Franco was gone. It arrived in 1981. After a few different locations, it’s now found in the Reina Sofia.

Anther artist that you can enjoy at Sofia’s place is Salvador Dali. Here was one I liked…

Dali at Reina Sofia

In Madrid, our plan was to hit the big three museums. One down, two to go. They are definitely worth your time!

TMI… Shaking my head… It’s just TMI…


I don’t exactly think of myself as a prude. But as I toured in Spain I was just shocked at the clothing, or lack thereof. Maybe I just haven’t traveled in the heat of the summer in a country that doesn’t have a major religious dress code. Granted, I was in Istanbul in March. In India it was hot, but the women wore beautiful saris and kurtas. I now own several kurtas and kurtis. They’re all cotton tops that have a variety of lengths that one wears with leggings, salwars or churidars. In other words, you wear some kind of a pant with them. I swear I saw someone wearing one as a dress in Barcelona! The thing about a kurta is that its got slits on the sides that go up far enough so you can reach into pockets. So wearing a kurta as a dress, really isn’t the intended style choice.

It’s hot. I get it. But do I really need to know all of the details of your undergarments? I grew up in a time where you didn’t show your bra straps. Now, of course, it’s a fashion statement. Plus, that requires prior planning about said undergarments. Both my sister and I agreed that it would require just too much work/effort to coordinate undergarments with whatever ensemble we chose to wear for the day. This “style” was not limited to just the young and tiny. We saw this over and over with women of all ages and sizes. A common theme was a near shear top with some kind of frilly bra. Whenever I see those tops I think to myself, “I have to buy 2 garments instead of one.” I’d need a camisole or something for underneath. No such thought process in Spain. As for what nationality the scantily clad women were, I don’t know. They didn’t seem like they were American. They tended to speak in a non-English language.

The reason why we were paying attention to attire is that in many sites, there is a dress code. When you visit churches, you are expected to dress respectfully. On the La Sagrada Familia website, it specifically says, no shorts. Well, when we scoped it out the night before, we saw lots of people with shorts. My friend, Margaret, had been there before and we sent her a quick email asking if it would be ok to wear shorts if we saw lots of other tourists wearing them. She jokingly replied that we should be ok as long as our butt cheeks weren’t hanging out.

We were fine with our attire the next day. But fast forward to the following day. We went to Montserrat. Montserrat is a Benedictine Monastery. Yes, a MONASTERY. We were taking photos of the beautiful scenery and ran across this…

Dress Code?

No way! We’re at a monastery! People are there to touch the orb of the Black Virgin. My sister and I just laughed and laughed. After the butt cheeks warning from Margaret I just had to take a photo and immediately send it to her. Eek!

I don’t know… I guess I’m just modest and I’m a total rule-follower. So if the suggested dress is pants, covered shoulders, etc. I’m going to do it. You’ll never catch me with my butt cheeks hanging out. Mine don’t look quite that good… But still… I think there is a certain amount of respect for the culture of the place that one is visiting that is needed. I have traveled enough to realize that it is better to fit in with the place than force my own culture on them. I know it’s hot. But there are other ways to deal with it than being darn near naked!