Monday, April 28, 2008

arts education

Here's another postette so that you don't give up on me before I write something more ample.

On a day the kids had off from school last month, we hopped a Metro and headed downtown to SAM.

In this picture, Rowan creates as Larkin looks on. Not sure who that other kid is. -k8-

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

eartha kitty

This is just to tide you over until I post a real entry. Who doesn't love a cat sitting in the window on a sunny day? -k8-

Monday, April 7, 2008

breaking like the waves at malibu

We had a lovely spring break. I can't tell you what a pleasure it is to be with my family when they're all on a break from school. It used to rip my heart out leaving for work each morning during spring, summer, winter, and all the other school vacations and holidays. As tough as it is to be a school teacher, Tim agrees that it's nearly impossible to beat the benefits of all the time off. Indeed, if it weren't for those breaks, he wouldn't be able to rebuild, allowing him once again to face those students with positive energy and a faith in our future. But getting back to spring break...

It started with an ironic snow storm that hit as I finished loading up the man-van (which Tim usually drives, but we swapped for the me, it smells like sweaty soccer balls & pizza...). Once packed, I gave the dogs some Dramamine. They both suffer car sickness. Despite the medication, Leo threw up on the way there and on the way back. Good times.

My next mission was picking up Rowan and his best friend, Eamon, who got out of their respective schools early for our adventure. We drove north to catch the Edmonds-Kingston Ferry over to the Olympic Peninsula. Our timing was impeccable, arriving just as a ferry was boarding, so we were across in a little over 30 minutes. Resuming our drive to the final destination of Port Townsend, we checked into our lovely old rental house at Fort Worden by 3pm.

I was thrilled with the roomy, simple, and comfortable accommodations. We had an old duplex with 2 floors, 2 bedrooms, and 2 bathrooms. The boys got right to work on that banister, but they had a few technical difficulties.

There was a big front porch, too, which made a good place for Rita & Leo to hang whenever we weren't out exploring. No dogs allowed in the houses, so we transformed the man-van into Dog World for the weekend, which is where they slept. It worked out pretty well, but now it smells like sweaty soccer balls, pizza, AND dog breath. Mmmm. (I was glad to eventually get my car back.)

Back in Seattle, Tim finished up his school day, picked up Larkin from her school, and headed to Emma's. I was especially glad to have her join us, as she and Larkin have been best friends since kindergarten, despite moving apart after 1st grade. They have a deep and abiding friendship, and this isn't the first family vacation that's included our "extra daughter."

By the time they arrived at the house, it was time to put dinner on the table. We made a heap of burritos and salad, inviting our friends Martin and Chas to join us. (As you can see, Chas isn't always a gracious guest. Not to worry, though; he's brandishing a paper sword created by young Eamon, master of markers and scissors.) Chas and Martin rented a duplex down the road, making the trip in Chas's sweet Prius. Here it is enjoying the weather.

A couple of other families were also going to join us, but the plague came down upon their homes prior to the trip, causing one to drop out altogether. But Emilie, Malcolm, & Owen rallied and were able to arrive on Saturday. They just missed the spread we put out, yet were able to score breakfast burritos at the Fort Worden Commons. And not just any breakfast burritos, either. Everything at the Commons is made with organic, local products from within 150 miles. (Later in the weekend, Emilie was taking Owen for a "driving nap," and reported back that she'd come across a drive-through creperie not far from the Fort. A drive through creperie?!) I love Port Townsend!

Breakfast procured, we all hiked around the Fort, making our way beachward. On the way, we found our first battery, where once there were cannons facing out to sea. Fun to climb on, but only a taste of what we were eventually to find. More on that later.

Down on the beach, we played in the sand for a good while.

I went with a breakaway group for a walk down to the lighthouse. It seemed not THAT far from the pier to the lighthouse, but a large expanse of sand can be deceptive, and it turned out to be at least 3 miles round trip. Well worth it, though! It reminded me of the one at Discovery Park.

Saturday evening we hosted the gang at our place, hanging out and cooking up a big spaghetti feed. There was activity throughout the house. The girls took turns having bubble baths in the quaint old clawfoot tub upstairs. Malcolm played a pretty dubious game of Apples to Apples with the boys. Owen and I had a lot of fun playing with pipe cleaners, spreading them all over the living room in a colorful display. Wow!

After some together time Sunday morning, we bid a fond farewell to the TD family. The 4 remaining adults indulged in the Commons' locally famous Sunday Brunch, which is quite the affair. Again--organic, very local, wholesome-yet-decadent, yummy goodness! Before we left for brunch, Tim set up the laptop and projector. The kids stayed at the crib and watched Astro Boy on the big screen, which added to a calmer meal and a smaller bill.

Bellies full, we leashed up the dogs and our remaining band of eight hiked up Artillery Hill, not knowing that we were about to have everyones' favorite time of the whole weekend!

First we came upon Memory's Vault, followed by a couple of miles of genuine American ruins. There were various odd concrete structures, and mile after mile of old batteries that grew out of the hillside in a labyrinth of cement and earth. There were tunnels and rooms and iron doorways and bars. There were ladders and stairs everywhere, going up and going down. The ones going up led to old cannon sites and beautiful vistas. Others led to pitch black tunnels we knew we shouldn't walk through without flashlights, but had to anyway.

I could see a faint light at the end of one dark expanse, so with a little boy clutching either side of me, we made our way through using the flash on my camera. This helped us avoid falling into the depths of hell, or tripping over sleeping vampires, but as this photo clearly reveals, we did manage to walk right through a ghost. Or am I seeing things?

I caught this shot of Martin in front of an excellent example of the rusted iron we encountered everywhere.

We found this mural and poetry painted on the side of the old radio building. Irie!

The iron door at the bottom of the stairs was bolted shut, so we couldn't investigate the SWITCHBOARD any further. But given what looked like blood dripping over the S, I was fine with that.

When we finally trudged down the other side of Artillery Hill many hours later, everyone was exhausted and elated. Sadly, it was time for Martin and Chas to leave, but we were happy for such an exciting and sunny day. Our family had one more night at Fort Worden, but the kids were all pretty tuckered out from the long hike, so we enjoyed a quiet evening lounging around and watching movies.

After feeding the kids, tidying the house, and checking out, we left the packed-up cars behind and headed out for one more hike. Having not yet found the old military cemetery, that was our first destination. We located it down a short trail in a direction we'd not yet been, and it was beautifully tended. We found another trail beyond the cemetery with a sign and arrow pointing the way to "Chinese Gardens." We walked for at least 2 miles, and all the while I'm imagining cherry blossoms and lily pads. But the trail finally opened up onto gorgeous, rolling hills and a meadow by a pond. Not a cherry blossom in sight. Apparently, the area is named for truck gardens operated by Chinese families during the late 1800s. We took a short respite there, the view was so pretty. We watched a kite flying way off in the distance.

It was with heavy hearts that we finally turned our backs on that intensely peaceful scene, and started the journey home. I drew the short straw and was back in the man-van with the boys and dogs. We were a convoy of two until back on the mainland, then we headed different routes to return our extra children to the proper authorities.

It could not have been a better weekend, or have come at a better time. I was in serious need of a reminder that there's the stuff we do all day, all week, all our lives...from morning until night, all in order to maintain our place as humans in this self-created circus called Life. And then there's the stuff that matters, the real stuff: quality time with my children, my husband, my friends; quiet time communing with nature, with animals, with the written word, with my own thoughts and feelings; preparing and serving wholesome foods for others, with love and without expectations; ample time outdoors, breathing deeply and feeling my integral connection with the Mother Ship. -k8-

Saturday, April 5, 2008

america's future in song

My previous post mentions a vocal clinic. It was held at Chief Sealth High School in southwest Seattle, although the last one I chaperoned was held at UW. I shot this clip from behind Ballard High School's choir as they observed another school's performance. It brought back memories, since my high school choir did a Beach Boy tribute. About 25 years ago. Oy!

This one was first rate. -k8-