When they spread their wings…

Fish River Canyon

I sort of have a love/hate relationship with Facebook. I’m sure my privacy isn’t quite as private as I’d like it to be. I don’t put anything crazy on it. But I have a feeling that they figure out a lot about me anyway. One nice aspect is being able to keep in touch with former students. Some are even teachers now and we swap ideas. I’m not friends with too many former students. But it’s fun to keep track of a few of them.

I teach at a school where close to 80% of the students qualify for free and reduced lunch. Some of them hardly ever leave the immediate area. So when they go off to college and have atypical East Side experiences, I think it’s fantastic! The picture above is Fish River Canyon in Namibia. It’s one of the largest canyons in the world. This particular student has spent the last year studying abroad. She first was in Sydney, Australia. Most recently she was studying in Cape Town, South Africa. While there, she was able to travel all over South Africa and to East Africa. I’ve been following her blog and one of her recent excursions was to Robbin Island. The picture below is one of her’s from Zanzibar. That’s one destination we have in common. Today is the day she’s traveling back to the US. I was able to chat with her through Facebook to find out when she’ll be in town.

Zanzibar dhows

I had another student who was spending a semester in London studying film. I don’t think I ever pictured him venturing that far away from home. It was fun to see where he had been and compare notes of some our favorite places in London. We happened to both be in Paris when I flew to Rome in March. A funny coincidence at the time…

I truly enjoy seeing these young people venture into the world. It’s nice to see them grow and flourish into the amazing adults that I had a glimpse of so long ago.


Berry Time!


Almost 20 pounds of strawberries picked.


Washed and hulled.


Chopped and ready to freeze! There are enough strawberries to make 5 batches of JUST strawberry jam.  And we all know I like to do combination jams…


And a smoothie to finish off the job!

The Queen

About a week ago, on my last load of laundry, the washing machine decided to not cooperate.  One shirt on delicate and it wouldn’t drain.  It would agitate on different cycles, and make a clicking sound in several places.  But no draining.  I’m glad it happened on a small load.

My washing machine came with the house.  So it’s 13 years old.  After a little digging and calling Whirlpool, I figured out it was probably the pump.  A new one would cost $243, just for the part.  A service call to diagnose the problem would run me about $80.  So I decided that my next course of action would be looking for a new washer.

I got a new dryer a few years ago.  So I didn’t need a pair. I knew I didn’t want to do the front load type. And after talking to a friend, I was fine with that decision. On Tuesday I made my way to appliance place. I talked to the sales guy about the various high-efficiency machines.  Interesting. Many of the machines nowadays have lights and digital read outs. The dial for the water level is there for you, but the machine actually detects how much water it needs. The new machines do not have an agitator. It’s just a little bump thing in the middle where the agitator used to be. The water doesn’t actually fill in the machine to the top. It fills partially to submerge some of the clothes and shuffles them around so they all get washed. The hot water setting isn’t actually “hot.” The cycles take longer and you have to be careful about washing different weights of clothing together. How long are they meant to last? Six to ten years.

My other option was a brand called Speed Queen. I had never heard of it. But that’s because I have never had to look at commercial laundry before. Speed Queen seems rather old-fashioned compared to the new high-efficiency models. She has an agitator. Hot is hot. The water level is what it says it is. There are no blinking lights. The parts are made of metal instead of plastic. What you see is what you get. How long is the Queen meant to last? Fifteen to twenty years.

By the title of this post, you can tell what I got. The idea of buying a machine that is meant to break down and be thrown away is rather disgusting to me. While on one hand the government (or whomever) wants high-efficiency machines, the trade-off is that they get thrown away in half the time of a well made product. Isn’t there something to be said for cutting down on waste? Pride in making a product that lasts has obviously gone out the window. Maybe I sound old-fashioned. But I’m glad I got the Queen.


Vacation. Finally.

I’ve only been done with school for five days.  But I’ve been fairly productive and have managed to get a nap in every day.  My first vacation day was spent at an all day board meeting.  But after that, I stopped at a frame shop to pick up this:


I got the batik on my trip to Tanzania in August of 2009.  It has taken this long to get if framed because I was afraid how much it would cost.  It’s 53″ x 36″.  Something that large usually costs a fortune to frame.  But because it was a batik, they don’t need to put glass over the top of it and put a simple wood frame around it.  It wasn’t cheap by any means, but definitely affordable.  I’m lucky that it fit in my car.

After that, I had to go buy a new washing machine.  I think that deserves its own post.  But as I’m typing, said new washing machine is on its 3rd load.

I had a few appointments the next day as well as going to the Ford dealer for a recall on my car.  Thursday was a total wash out, but I had the washing machine delivered and installed.  Friday, was the annual strawberry picking day – almost 20 pounds this year. And I went to my favorite mechanics to get an oil change and check out my car before I make a long drive to Motown.  This morning I furthered my goal of getting into vacation mode by having a massage.

The beginning of summer is always good. But every year I wrestle with “coming down” from school. It takes awhile for my body to realize that I don’t have to be “on” all the time. Relaxing is hard work.  😉


locker key

I just finished the annual locker clean out.  This year’s time was 3 and a half hours.  It would have been faster but as you can see from above, we were down a key…  It’s a good thing I had an extra made last fall.  It looks like I’ll need to order another.

At the end of the job we had a little fun. It was the first time I had shot video on my phone. But you still get the idea.