Saturday, December 19
It was a wonderful meal of shabu shabu (meat cooked in boiling broth), then with the left over broth rice and egg was added to make a porridge (sounds better than gruel and way more delicious than gruel sounds also, want not, waste not, right?) all with sake, lots and lots of sake. Then we adjourned to the couch and the student adjourned upstairs and the evening continued with wine. It was great. Of course, now I'm wondering if I'm going to make my flight.
You see, Delt4 has canceled their direct Moscow-Atlanta flight, so I have to connect through JFK. And as we all know, my luck runs either really hot or (especially when coming from Moscow) really cold with air travel. A and I are supposed to arrive within an hour of each other. I really hope it all works out!
PS - I'm really, really annoyed with 1tunes. All the music I purchased under my old AOL screen name on my Mac Mini won't play on my MacBook. The customer service woman I've been working with for TWO days seems to be useless. Give me the music that I paid for, jerk holes.
Wednesday, December 16
It's seriously f*cking cold.
However, in 3 more days I get to go to my parents for Christmas vacation. Here's what that'll be like:
Except that we'll get to insert my friend A! Yep, I've got a friend coming from California for a visit. In talking to my parents recently:
Mom: "Now who's A again? Is he the one that you went to visit Aunt Cathy with in his van?"
Me: "Yep, on our way to Death Valley"
Mom: "Oh, right, the hippie." (I have no idea where she got this from except maybe my Aunt thought we were strange for going to Death Valley to sit in the hot springs in the middle of the summer... note: she was right, it was a bad idea)
Me: "Um, mom, you know I'm a hippie too, right?"
Mom: "I prefer to think of you as 'bohemian'"
Me: [involuntary shudder]
Tuesday, December 15
Sunday, December 13
The Student Council took up the slack... supposedly. However, it's a busy time of year, one student dropped the ball and it didn't get written. However, this is one of my favorite things of the year and I really wanted it to happen. As such, I spent all day writing it.
It's based on A Christmas Carol and I hope it will be funny but not offensive. I'll try to get it recorded.
In other news, it's gotten cold, but not horrendously so. And I've been watching season 5 of Angel obsessively. I like it much better than season 4.
Oh, and I got an A in my class (missed an A+ by 1%). It really does make a difference when you like your classes or are freakishly good at writing papers that you don't really care about.
Tuesday, December 8
Sunday, December 6
Our favorite part: "When I say Jesus, you say Christ."
Bree and I: "Christ"
The rest of the audience: Silence punctuated by crickets.
This past Tuesday (I just want you to note the above was on a Wednesday and then I went out on another week night! Wild and crazy, that's me), was the Moscow Oratory Society's annual concert. They always do a medley of carols and then part of Handel's Messiah. I really enjoy this every year. This year especially as they were in a church and there is really nothing better than a huge cathedral filled by choir music. The only downside was that it's a church in the middle of renovation. As such, the enjoyment of the music was detracted by the smell of paint fumes and the huge outdoor flood lights on the second floor. You can see what I mean in the video:
Monday, November 30
Saturday, November 28
No new job prospects, though I've started considering Latin America, tentatively. Better climate than most of W. Europe, you know? Any suggestions, besides me coming back to America? I'm still not ready for that.
And now a reminder of blue skies from this summer at Storm King Art Center:
Saturday, November 21
At least it made the entrance way smell good...
Editted to add: Finding a replacement insert is looking to be far more difficult than I'd anticipated. Meh.
Friday, November 20
Earlier I mentioned how they all made up their own 30 second dances to Thriller. The Halloween assembly was awesome and the student body got really into it. This week we had another spirit assembly where the activity was drawing.
Yep, 4 kids per grade level up on stage drawing. Sounds a bit like watching paint dry, right? But nope, they were given Edward Munch's The Scream divided into fourths.
The first person had both hands. The second person only one hand. The third, no hands. The fourth no hands and blind folded. It was hilarious and the crowd was TOTALLY into it.
Tonight, we had our first Homecoming dance. 150 out of 380 kids showed. This is AMAZING. Our record for students attendance was 70. Yep, I love my job.
But just so you know, I still don't feel the need to stay next year.
Tuesday, November 17
Monday, November 16
Thursday, November 12
I'm feeling a bit better this evening, cooked dinner (well, it's cooking as we speak) and I brought home a bunch of grading I could be doing. There's also report cards (written narratives) are due by Monday morning, rough draft of my huge project for my masters class turned into my proofing partner on Sunday, an additional paper for said class by Saturday. But you know how when you have so much to do, that you can't even begin. Yeah, that's where I'm at.
The best part of Houston, well, second best, because the best really was seeing friends and family, but the second best TACO TRUCK! I wish I'd've felt better because I wanted to hit way more than 1, but the one we hit. Hot damn, Gina. It was great. Tender meat grilled to have crispy bits, generous tacos with cilantro, grilled onions and avocado. Yum-o. Although, I've decided I prefer my onion raw. Yeah, baby, I like it raw.
Antwerp, Belgium and Vienna, Austria have added posts for math jobs. There's one in Zagreb, Croatia as well.
Tuesday, November 3
I'm writing this on my new MacBook. YAY. I heart it already.
So this is my November break. My plane ticket to Houston was bought early this summer on a Singapore Air sale (direct from Moscow for $650!) back when I thought I'd be having a romantic rendezvous. Well, that part didn't materialize, but I'm here nonetheless. And even though the flight was long (12 hours of long), it's nice to be here.
I spent the last 2 nights with my aunt, uncle and 2 cousins. They're totally little people now and fun to hang out with.
Tonight I'm cooking dinner for AJ and Ashish. It's amazing how quickly routines re-emerge.
I also just got off the phone with an Asheville real estate agent. It seems like now is a good time to invest, so I'm looking into it. I feel like every time I catch a glance of myself in the mirror, I think, "wow, you're becoming a grown up." And, "you need a hair cut."
Yep, and I'm taking care of that on Wednesday, right after lunch with my college roommate RTK! Speaking of grown up, she's now got 2 kids and is teaching at Rice.
Monday, October 26
It's spirit week at school. As such I was dressed in all black today, black being the grade 12 color. Tomorrow is geek day - tight rolled jeans, here I come. Wednesday is pj day, known amongst the teachers as "wear your sweat pants to work day." Now Thursday is the hard part, it's "Hollywood" themed. I have no idea what to wear for that. Friday is Halloween costumes.
My favorite part of Friday is that the student council (StuCo), which I am an adviser for, is doing a dance to Thriller at the beginning. Yes, it was my idea. No, the students weren't really excited at first, but they're getting into it and it's AWESOME. I'm super excited about it anyway.
In the mean time, I've also begun looking at other schools as potential new jobs in earnest. A few months ago I was all ready to move back to the US, but I'm not sure that my itchy feet are ready to settle so I've been looking more at western Europe. Any opinions?
Monday, October 12
I did make time this weekend to see 2, yes TWO!, films. They were in English and everything. It was part of the American Film Festival here. I saw Trouble the Water and Brief Interviews with Hideous Men.
Trouble the Water is a really well done documentary on those left behind in hurricane Katrina. It could have gone whacked out political but it didn't and as the directors said "the material speaks for itself. We didn't have to add any slant." That's right, the directors were there answering questions. Unfortunately I left that early to see the second one directed by the cute guy from the American version of The Office.
This was based on a collection of shorts by David Foster Wallace (did you know he died? I only learned in the credits). It was ... well, interesting. It wasn't bad, but I'm not certain I enjoyed it either.
So there you have it, work, work, work, zone, work, work, watch Angel (I'm so addicted), work. Oh, I also waxed my legs this weekend. That's right, the fun never stops.
Thursday, September 24
You'd think that nothings going on or perhaps I'm so depressed about being here I've lost the motivation to write. However, neither are true.
My college buddy Phil and his girlfriend Abby just came out for a visit. It was AWESOME. So nice to get to spend quality time (read, insane amounts of board game playing and eating) with them. And they were the perfect guests. They arrived on a Saturday, stayed until Monday, spent Tues - Fri in St. Pete's and then Fri-Sun back in Moscow. It was grand.
Then last weekend we went camping for Bree's birthday. Man, how I love sleeping outside in the cold.
And now, the seniors have all headed off to Cyprus for Discovery Week, which means I technically have no classes to teach today, but instead loads of time to be productive (please, let me be productive) and today I get to sub for a PE class, which normally would be fun, except the weather has turned cold and rainy, boo. But hey, we've had SUN until now!
Oh and I'm up to twice weekly private ballet classes, um, heaven! And I still love my job. And I'm still in constant debate as to what to do next year. I was all set to move to Asheville and now, well, back to debate mode.
Friday, September 4
His girl friend had on a long sleeveless black dress. It had metal studs around the arms and could have been goth, except she still had the "tarty female Russian" look that abounds. On her it said, "I desperately want to have my own style, or the style of my boyfriend, but if I stray too far from the image, then I'll be left." Ugh.
So anyway, mid train ride, dude pulls out a leatherman. You know, the 100 tools within a tool - screw drivers, knives, scissors. And I'm thinking, "What the hell is he doing?" Then he leans over and hands it to Bree who'd been picking at a loose thread. It was awesome.
And I remembered to write about it.
Tomorrow my good friend Phil and his girlfriend, Abby, arrive. Yes, more visitors to Moscow. The more the merrier!
I'm really excited about this visit. Phil and I were really good friends. It's been years since we've had some quality time. I'm being very martyr like and going all the way to the airport to pick them up (sorry if you've visited me and I didn't do this for you, but they're arriving on a Saturday).
Also, ballet classes will resume next week! Phil's bringing me new leotards and tights, so I'm super excited.
What else? Oh, right, it's been stunning. Indian summer abounds.
Bree and I are trying to maintain a positive attitude to see if it makes a difference in our enjoyment of life here. I'm thinking it will. I'm also thinking I'll be able to maintain the attitude for oh, 2 more weeks, if I'm lucky.
Friday, August 21
Oh, and the leaves are already changing and it's only 10 degrees C (50F) here. Fuckity.
Man, apparently I'm still cranky. At least my hair (and pillow and fingernails) is purple.
Here's the whole gang. This year we had 2 new awesome additions and were said that a few regulars were unable to join us. I'm not quite sure what was said to crack us up, but there you go:
I'm not sure how well you can see it in the picture, but my hair is dyed purple! Yippee, back to funky colors for me.
On this trip, I also discovered that I'm not as much of a hippie as I used to be
Tuesday, August 4
Snorkeling in Honduras
Originally uploaded by Traveling Em
By far the best part of the cruise was visiting Isla de Roatan, Honduras. In the background is a ship wreck, likely from the 1970s, that we snorkeled around. I found us independent tours, this one we were a group of 11 snorkeling and saw no one else the rest of the day for about half the price of a ship tour. If you go on a cruise, do your research people!
PS - After this day even though I'd been wearing 30 spf, I ended up so burned on my shoulders and ass, that's right, I had an ass sun burn. And my poor tattoo. I used to have such a dark complexion, I guess that's what happens when you move to a sunless country.
Originally uploaded by Traveling Em
Well, I'm off the cruise and have been in Miami Beach the past two days with my sister. Here I am drinking a bellini at an awesome pizza place. I found us great pizza, empanadas and an awesome burger all off the main drag (thank god!)
My thoughts on Miami:
Almost everyone walks around without their shirts. I think it's tacky, but I'm getting more and more crumudgony as I get older. Thankfully about 80% of these topless people have six packs so it's nice people watching.
There are a disproportionately large number of Corvette drivers and gay men, they are not the same.
I saw them filming Burn Notice, eeeeeeee!!!!
It's definitely a multi-lingaul place, beyond just Spanish and English.
Overall, it's nice to visit, but I'm happy to be returning to my reality of San Francisco summers where almost everyone will have on not only shirts, but also likely sweaters.
Saturday, July 25
I spent the first 3 days in NY state about an hour north of the city with a guy that I'd met online. We had a really great time. However, even though our email conversations are incredible that "thing" that I was hoping for in person, just wasn't there. So back to the drawing board for the whole wanting to be married sometime in my 30s thing. However, the weekend was still fantastic and I wished that we lived in the same city so that we could hang out more.
Our three days were really fun. We met in Newark's aiport and headed to this dive Italian restaurant in a neighborhood that's a bit ghetto (although this is how I'm inturpretting most of Newark to be). Anyway, we had some great spaghetti and meatballs and wine served in water glasses. We asked for red wine and the only question was "You want that chilled or room temperature?" I'd never realized that was even a question...
Then we drove out to our B&B for the weekend, the Alexander Hamilton House. This place was great. Tons of information in narrative form about what to do in the area. We took our host's advice on our first full day and headed out to an incredible outdoor museum, Storm King Art Center. Think of all the cool art of Burning Man without having to be covered in playa dust.
At the end of our walk we ended up at a pavilion having a piano, violin and cello concert. Perfect.
Then that night we went to Blue Hill at Stone Barns. Ever since reading about this place on Kayaksoup's blog, I've wanted to try it. Holy fuck was that expensive. You all know me, I'm totally willing to spend money on food and spend it we did. However, I have to say that it was incredible. Truly a once in a life time meal. The restaurant is situated on a working farm. Almost everything your eating from vegetable to animal comes from the farm. We went with the 8 course farmer's feast and wine pairing, because if you're going to do it, then you should go all out, right? The presenations were incredible, service was spot on. Our only complaints was that in one course we couldn't really taste the pancetta due to the overwhelming presence of sesame seeds and that face bacon is a bit disappointing. It's funny now going back to L's blog to see that we had identical starting amuse bouches. Which would mean they've been serving them for over a year.... boring! Below are some of my photos, but her's are better, so go look.
Loved the first presentation:
All lightly salted and perfect.
Slightly disappointing course. But I love that it's a die that's been skewered.
The next day, I woke up stuffed and maybe just a bit hung over. It was a low key day. We started by checking out the Croton Dam. This place is huge.
And while we were there empty. It was lovely to wander around. We saw some berries I'd never seen before (anyone?)
After that T induldged me and we went out to a book store so I could get the next book in the series I'm reading (The Liveship Trilogy by Robin Hobb, I'm addicted). And then decided to do a tour of West Point. I'd never have thought of doing this. However, I really enjoyed it. It was pretty and I learned a lot.
We ended the day with a movie and a new Scrabble game. Darn near close to a perfect day.
And now I'm back in the Heartland with my family. I've been with my parents in Waynseville, Ohio, where their antique store is. My mom induldged me (I'm so spoiled, really) and made stuffed cabbages. Relatively easy, but a pain with all the rolling. However, with the two of us working together it went pretty fast. And was super delicious.
In my kitchen, those would be Penzey's spices, however, I don't actually have any dried onion or garlic salt. In the past I've used fresh onion, but I think the concentrated flavor in the drying is necessary.
Currently I'm at my cousin's place in Amherst, Ohio. Last night I saw many aunts and uncles, a few cousins and their spouses and a 2 year old second cousin who's got a charming personality. It's great. But I don't want to live here.
The constant question has been, "What will you do after Russia?" All I can answer with is "move." At this moment in time I'm thinking Vancouver, Portland, Asheville, France, Spain or Italy. As always, I won't know until the minute I've decided.
Friday, July 17
Nonetheless, after roughly 12 hours of travel I made it to Oundle. "Where?" You say or might say if you could figure out how to pronounce the town's name. It's north and a bit east of London. It's really cute.
And that's about it. I was there to learn how to better use a math graphing software in my class. And while I learned how to use the software better, I can't say that I'm really that much more ready to use it while teaching. But my goal is to use it often next year. So we'll see how that goes.
I've also been slogging away at my masters course. Almost done!
And tomorrow I fly to America. I can't even begin to describe my excitement... So I won't.
They live directly in front of the Clyde River Estuary surrounded by hills. Though it takes a while to get there by car due to the location of the bridge, a 10 minute ferry ride gets you across the water to the town of Gourok and from there it's a quick connecting by train into Glasgow. I wasn't expecting like Glasgow, but it was lovely!
Willows Tea Room
Somehow it was asking to be photographed in black and white.
They also took me out to Loch Fyne. The drive alone was gorgeous, but upon reaching our destination we went to an oyster bar and then a micro-brewery. Hello, perfect day. I was sad to leave, but a conference awaited me.
I was alone practically the whole time, though occasionally passed other walkers. It was the perfect way to spend my last afternoon. I returned to the hotel early as I had an early morning start the next day.
Then it was driving, driving and more driving. We stopped in at a pub for a great lunch of lamb and mushroom pie and by 6 had made it to our final b&b, Ballyogan House. This is owned by a co-workers aunt and uncle and is gorgeous. We're out in the country and it is lovely. However, being out in the country meant driving into town for dinner. Boo, no beer for me. Food was meh as well, we went to a restaurant, definitely should have stuck with pubs! What was really unfortunate is that our hosts had dinner plans and we couldn't have dinner here, I think that would have been lovely. We've already seen the chickens out back and we're excited about fresh eggs for breakfast.
And indeed, breakfast was good. Better than the eggs though were Fran's homemade jams and marmalade. We left soon after breakfast and headed to Dublin where the afternoon and evening was spent with friends of Nat's. It was a good day, though not really remarkable.
Sunday, July 5
We woke up early and headed over to O'Sullivan's riding stables for our 3 hour trail ride. Nat got a smallish girl horse named Ginger, I was on a slightly bigger boy horse named Mystery. Nat's was lazy - all day "Come on, Ginger. Let's go!" and mine was a pig trapped in a horses body - he ate everything that was in sight. If it even looked like we were pausing his head went down often pulling me with him. He especially liked the ferns. But it was fun, and beautiful. We rode on trails that wound down to the castle and along the lake. There were also loads of people walking, this is really a pretty great place. We also go to trot for a bit, those are the parts I liked best.
It was pretty amazing to me how the landscape changed. Dense forest, rolling hills, to golden fields that reminded me of the midwest.
After our 3 hours we could barely walk though. For me, the outside ligaments of my knees hurt for Nat, it's her spine. I'm not quite sure what part, but likely because it took her a while to figure out trotting so she was jostled around a bit, that and she has no ass to provide any cushion.
We headed into town, inadvertantly actually as I missed a turn somewhere, but along the way we saw an Aran sweater outlet, so of course we stopped and are now each the owners of an Irish sweater.
We had a late pub lunch that included watching rugby with a whole bunch of Irish folks. Man, that game is violent! Super violent! The Nat napped while I finished my homework (I'm taking a summer course for my masters, Inquiry into Learning. It's pretty great, but way more work than I want to be doing on vacation!)
Then, we had a chill night of going to see The Hangover. Go see this movie now. It was so funny, I cried throughout and almost peed myself at one point. Really, really funny. I'm impressed, as I thought it'd be funny, but then thought, "Who can write a script that will be funny throughout?" Well, apparently Jon Lucas and Scott Moore can!
Saturday, July 4
Friday, July 3
Today at breakfast we were discussing our plans with Brigid. She was a wealth of information. She advised us that since it looked like it would be a nice day, we could take a boat trip across 3 lakes and then walk the Dunloe Gap. She told us it was about 7 miles and very manageable if you're at all fit. So we start with our breakfast first course, rhubarb compote with a bit of yogurt for me, porridge for Nat and ask her to book us seats on the boat. By the time we're done with that it's pouring rain. Pouring - cats and dogs. She comes out with our mains, full Irish for me, scrambled eggs with smoked salmon for Nat,
and says, "Ok, maybe we'll wait until 9:30 to book." By the end of breakfast the rain has stopped and we decide to go for it. The boat trip was great. A small boat with 6 passengers and 2 guides (1 official, Rory and 1 in training, it appeared).
Ireland is really everything you read about and dream about. It's green everywhere. There are hills and mist and big clouds. You know why leprachauns, sprites and fairies come here to recharge their magic.
Note all the horses in the pictures? Well, for those who want to see the gap but are physically incapable of doing the 7 mile walk, you can get a ride in a horse. The path the whole way is paved and wide enough to accomodate the carriage. And as such, the whole way is also covered in kakashka (Russian for you know what).
Tonight, we're planning on going to a pub for dinner and to hear pub music - smoke free! Yep, I'm loving Ireland.
View Larger Map
However, before we headed out, we spent an hour or so walking around near the castle and discovered some horses living near by.
Then it was on the road again. We headed through Waterford, home of the crystal and stopped at the visitor's center. The chandeliers and trophies were the most impressive:
I also tried to change money but apparently no one in Ireland, Bureau de Change or Banks, will change 100 dollar bills as they've had a rash of counterfeiting. I have never had this happen before. And of course, I'm traveling with dollars as I still have no ATM card. Luckily Nat changed a bunch of rubles to Euros before we left so I've been able to pay for our lodging with my credit card and use her as an ATM.
After a very boring lunch, we were off again. The drive was slow and a bit frustrating as we seemed to get stuck behind every tractor on the streets of Ireland. And then g00gle maps gave us the most direct, but longest in the sense of time, route. We traveled for about 10 km on a small back road, terrified our b&b was in the middle of no where and we'd have to retrace the road to get to dinner, we arrived to discover we were 400 m from the main road and a pub. Our latest b&b, Friar's Glen is also lovely. It's definitely more modern, we have a big room that doesn't smell like old, but the hosts are lovely.
We headed off to the close pub for a quick dinner of Irish stew and beer. And by quick, in both of us ordering the Irish stew, it arrived in less than 5 minutes. The meat was super tender, potatoes were not mushy but the broth, was well, broth, not a thick gravy as I'd expected and it needed salt in a bad way.
Thursday, July 2
Nat and I got up at 3:30, the school sponsored ride was coming at 4 to take us to Domodedevo (my favorite Moscow airport). Right as we were getting into the car, Nat realized she was flying out of Sherymetevo! Thank goodness she didn't get in the car with me as these two airports are way far apart from each other.
The story of my flights has been moved down below, to Ryan Air Rants. Long story short BMI to Heathrow bus to Gatwick and eventually get on my flight to arrive in Dublin. Nat arrives within 10 minutes of me via Paris and finally things are starting to look up.
And that continues. We have a great car rental experience at Dan Dooley (highly recommended). At Dublin's airport, after you exit customs just to the right are all the "big" companies, Avi5, H3rtz, etc. However I'd booked online through Payle55, not just for shoes anymore. Well, turns out they're actually run through a local partner, Dan Dooley. I show up to the counter and the woman is playing Tetri5 on some sort of hand held device, so out of touch I am, I can't even tell you which one. I actually have to clear my throat she's so into it. Anyway, she looks up, clearly having just offered directions all day and I say I have a reservation. After a look of mild surprise (yikes, that can't be a good sign...), she's very helpful, gives us a LOWER rate with all insurances and theft protection thrown in. After a coffee we head to the rental site. My first thought, "wait, the drive on the left here?!" (duh!) Quickly followed by, "Oh, god, the car is a manual transmission and the steering wheel is on the right!" I'm scared, as I'm our only driver (Nat says she's going to learn and get her liscence this year, at 30, but obviously there's no need in Moscow). However, relatively quickly, I adapt and we're off. Traffic sucks getting out of Dublin, but in just over 2 hours, we've traveled 134 miles to Killiane Castle for the night.
It's so lovely here. We're currently down on the southeastern side of Ireland in Wexford. Our castle room is small, but totally functional and the bed is really comfortable. Nat's first comment, "It smells like old house." And it's true, everywhere sort of does have a slight odor, but the place was built in 1470! Our window over looks a field of cows, it was just delightful. So it was right around 8 pm in Ireland when we arrived, 11 pm in Moscow and we were starving. We ask if they have dinner and they do not, but she advises us to head back to the main road. "The tavern in the hotel actually has really good food." Well, y'all know me and my food. As soon as she says "hotel" and "restaurant" in the same sentence I am skeptical. But we could walk (about 2 km, but I was done driving) and it had food, the only requirements at that point.
In the end, We had an INCREDIBLE dinner at the Drinagh Court Hotel! You could either order off the menu, or they had a condensed version of their menu, from which you could take 2 courses for 20 euros. This was the far cheaper option (in some cases cheaper than ordering just the single main off the menu). We took both of their soups - a cream soup of the day that turned out to be vegetable for Nat (yes, she was eating veg, but it was after all, cream based and her only requirement was that she wanted hot food) and the Atlantic seafood chowder for me. We also both ordered a pint of beer, Guinness for her and Smithwick's Ale for me.
The soup arrived scaldingly (made up word) hot and I can't even describe just how good it was. The chowder was full of seafood and highly seafood flavored without being fishy, topped with lovely contrastingly flavored croutons. Nat's soup, even though it was vegetable, was equally as tasty for her and since I always love veg, great for me as well. Along side came Irish soda bread with soft creamy butter. I could have died and gone to heaven right then.
But then our mains came. I had ordered the sizzling Schezwan duck breast and sizzling it was. It came on a red hot cast iron pan and smoking like crazy as there was so much sugar (I assume) in the sauce. But boy was the meat tender and the sauce, though sweet, very flavorful. Nat ordered the steak, which we had to send back as it was over cooked, but when the second one arrived she dived in and loved it. However, we each preferred our entrees to the others. Along side came choice of potato and veg. We chose "mash" and "garlic". It was enough food to feed an army. Really we could have just gotten one of the potato sides and definitely that would have been the garlic. Lovely au gratin garlicy potatoes. The veg side was (previously) frozen peas, cauliflower, squash and carrot (BLECH!), I ate all the peas from both and most the cauliflower. Nat took one bite of carrot to verify for me before I ate it and that was all the potato she ate. I felt bad as the portions were so huge (American sized) that we left more than half the food behind.
Ah, so nice. We followed up with a brisk walk back because at 10, the sun was fading and there are no street lights on the small road leading to our castle. It was heaven sleeping at night, window open, sound of rain and this morning of birds greeting the day (at around 5). It's still raining, but it's so lush and green and after all, it's Ireland, so no complaints from me.
This morning's full Irish breakfast was also lovely. My favorite part being a rhubarb compote and clove spiced apples from the granola bar:
Anyway, I get there. And promptly forget about my rain coat on the bus. Thankfully I remembered within 5 minutes (as opposed to the usual 2 days later) and further the bus hadn't left, it was in the car park! Phew.
Rain coat (and hoodie!) retrieved, I go back inside and am now able to check in. I was 4th in line, get up to the desk, hand over my passport, try to check my bag, only to be told that I hadn't prepaid for this. But, I was so certain I'd prepaid to check my bag, why wouldn't I have done that? I think what happened was I'd assumed it was the 9.50 x 2 "airport handling fee" because what else would they be handling if not my luggage. Oh, and then I also had to pay another 9.50 (all pounds) to check in at the desk because I couldn't do it online as I'm not a British citizen. So I go to the desk and ask the guy to look up my reservation, so certain was I that I'd paid for a bag. He says no. So then I look on my computer (I knew this new toy was good for something) and shit bag, no I really hadn't paid. So then I tried to pay online (10 GBP as opposed to the 20 airport fee) but of course I could only buy it for the return. So I had to go back to the second guy and pay the 20 pounds. I hand over my credit card, the one I'd just used to buy the return baggage and it doesn't work. Frustration level at a maximum especially as I still don't have an ATM card (remember last year's mugging and the bank refusing to send me a new one, well, I'll finally replace that this summer). So I whip out my cell phone, call Chase who says, "Oh, did you tell us you were traveling?" YES, 3 DAYS AGO. Grumble. Anyway, it all finally gets paid for and I check in .
Tuesday, June 30
Of course I modified it. I added fresh mushrooms, crushed red pepper (as I can't imagine any pasta dish without it), used clam juice for fish stock, well, ok, I used that recipe as the guidelines for what I made. Regardless, it was delicious and we all (4 total) had seconds. Some had thirds.
Afterwards, it was dish carnage, especially as we also had dessert (A made apple pie!). However, for one to two weeks each summer the hot water is turned off across the city to repair the pipes. Spoiled life that I lead, I actually have a mini hot water heater that gets turned on in this occasion, however, it only feeds the bathroom. So, to wash all of tonight's dishes, rather than boiling a bunch of water, I just brought the dishes into the bath tub.
Sunday, June 28
Perhaps, I shall content myself with the knowledge that you are but a 5.5 hour train ride away. And try to remember that in the winter you are dark, grey, cold and rainy (much like Moscow) but also with a frigid wind off the shores!
We arrived on the evening of St. Petersburg's biggest party, Red Sails. It was like Mardi Gras without the great costumes, parades, floats or beads (so basically, really drunk people urinating everywhere and throwing beer bottles down, but in New Orleans they no longer allow glass on the streets). It was a zoo trying to get to where we were staying, but eventually we arrived unscathed. We set out to grab some food around 11 and enjoyed the day light.
The next day we headed off to Peterhof (also spelled Petergof). This is a 30 minute hydrofoil ride from St. Petersburg, a palace and series of gardens designed by Peter the Great. It was beautiful! So nice to be out in the country, surrounded by great fountains, all gravity fed! It was crowded, but the park is so big, it was easy to feel as though you were on your own. It was full of statues and fountains, two of my favorite things, especially as all the fountains are gravity fed!!
That evening we walked around endlessly trying to find a Korean restaurant that no longer exists (fuck you LP and Rick Steves) but ended up at another one right near where we were staying. No granted, at this point we'd been walking for 2 hours longer than anticipated and it's been almost 6 months since I last had Korean, but it was still really good.
One of the things to do in St.P is to go out and see the bridges raise so that the ships can pass under them in the twilight of white nights. However, the first bridge doesn't go up until 1:35, so you can guess who slept through that while EE went out. As such, the next day we had a leisurely morning (read, I worked on my summer course work and EE slept in), then we had a Greek lunch. We spent the afternoon strolling about. I met up with the drama teacher who also is head of Student Council with me and we did a little jig in front of the Church of the Resurrection of Christ, also known as Spilt Blood as Alexander the II was assassinated there. The best thing about this church are the mosaics inside.
We also went to the Mariinsky Theater to see ballet. It was incredible. Very minimal backgrounds and a focus on the dancers. At most 6 on stage. Such good ballet, such a nice theater. Though, should you ever go, don't get seats on the 3rd level. We had a great view, but we were on a narrow, painfully hard bench and it was difficult to enjoy sitting there as good as the show was.
Sunday, June 14
June 19 - school ends
June 20-23 St. Petersburg (finally) with Erin - staying with last year's principal
June 24 - June 30 in Moscow - ballet, business lunch, walks in the park
July 1 - 8 Ireland with Natasha - castles and B&B's for lodging
July 8-13 Scotland with Steve and Dianne - their place, pubs on the agenda
July 13-18 Peterborough, UK, I'm going to a "Technology for Secondary Mathematics" conference
July 18-21 Country side of NY - maybe more about this later
July 21-26 in Ohio with my parents
July 26 - Aug 4 on a cruise and then 2 nights in Miami with my sister
Aug 4 - 16 back in SF with friends
Aug 1-17 flying to London
Aug 18 flight back to Moscow
Aug 19 first day of work
Insanity, I know. But I'm so looking forward to it.
Thank you especially to my friend Vero who encouraged me to continue watering my orchid even though the flowers I bought it with fell off in the first week. See I bought it the first weekend I moved to Moscow, back in August 2007. For a very long time it just had two pathetic leaves. But I continued to water it. Eventually it grew a few more leaves, so in fact I knew it was still alive, well now in June 2009, here it is:
That's right it has 4 flowers which are stunning. And I've watched them open one by one. The last one I literally got to see open as it did so on a weekend day. In the background you can see my jade which I repotted to give the other succulents more space. It seems to enjoy it's new house, but I don't know if they other succulents are as happy with out it.
The school year is wrapping up. Students were given teacher evaluations to fill out. Overwhelmingly my students think the pace in class is too fast for them and that I don't make it interesting. I'm not sure how to fix either one of those problems. A few students said I should be more patient. And that I can definitely work on. I think if they did their homework more consistently I'd have more patience though...
I was also under a bit of stress trying to finish up my first masters class, dynamic spreadsheets. I'm hoping to finish with an A, but it'll be an A- at the very least. I've signed up for 2 classes this summer, but I'm not sure how well that will go with my insane summer travel schedule (to be posted next).
My classes are all done now, finals taken and half graded. Report cards to write this week and preparations for the incoming teachers. I also want to get some more stuff prepared ahead of time for next year.
I have a few days in Moscow before I leave for summer vacation though, so plenty of time to do that.
Wednesday, May 27
So he then tells me where to go while drawing on a google map. You go to building 14 by Krasne Varota (Red Gate) metro. Easy enough. Then you walk through the building out the back door to the building sort of behind it. Um, not so easy. I have to ask two people. The second one being a "nurse" - she's wearing a hair covering and shoe coverings and a white coat, smoking a cigarette outside. She motions for me to follow her. Turns out she's the radiologist. I get 4 x-rays of my neck and mid-back, the mid-back one requiring me to learn the Russian for "does your bra have an underwire? Take it off." That cost another 1,600 rubles. The cool thing was that it lasted about 10 minutes and I walked out with my x-rays! Super fast.
Tonight I stayed late at school for the AAS Oscar ceremony. Guests were invited to vote on their favorite performers over the school year. The students were decked out - I can't believe I missed the opportunity to dress up, but all the dresses I wanted to wear, I'll be wearing this weekend for grad ceremony and the actually graduation. It was awesome. There were 3 really great speeches that mocked Oscar speeches.
I'll just say it once more, I love my job!
Sunday, May 24
Saturday, May 16
hello mrs s~
thanks for adding points to our quiz:) and i just wanted to say thank you for trying so hard to teach us! everyday you grow white hair because of our little side comments and our spontaneous outbursts but we can really see how hard you try to enlighten us with the "beauty" of math.haha
we definitely havent been able to thank teachers enough for their hard work and instead complained, and complained.. and complained, and once again,complained of OUR hardships without even considering your hardships as well. Although we are a looooongg way from being responsible and sensible, i hope by the end of IB, we will be able to make all teachers/parents/ students/etc. proud><
thank you~ have a nice weekend.
Isn't that great?!
Our girls played really hard and lost 3 really close games to come in 4th place. We also won 2 games handily. And the team spirit and comrade between all but 1 of them is awesome to see. Awesome enough that I'd like to coach them next year - this year I'm here as a chaperon, but didn't work with them during the season. I was a bit horrified to hear myself yelling them at times they way my dad used to yell at me. "What are you doing?! Throw the ball to second! Get it in already!!!" The other coach was so calm and supportive the whole time. I need to work towards that.
Oh and Warsaw is pretty great. Nice clean air, smaller city with a bizarre mix of Soviet and modern architecture. Pretty good food so far. And their movie theaters show movies in English with Polish subtitles! So tonight, I think I may go see a movie, the first I'll have seen in over a year! I can't even remember the last one I saw. That will be after the girls get sent home to their host families. I love the host family program, no duty at night and we're staying at the fancy pants Hyatt which is cushy.
Alright, enough avoiding my homework assignment.
Saturday, May 9
Day in the Park
Originally uploaded by Traveling Em
I had an incredible day with my visitors Eva and Che. I finally went to the Armory museum in the Kremlin. We were lucky to even get there as most of the entrances to the Kremlin were closed due to Victory Day preparations. Luckily we had an awesome local guide who got us in. We had the place almost completely to ourselves. On the way out, we wandered through the park towards Red Square. While Eva was taking photos Che and I sat on a bench and behind us were these two priests. I really like this photo!
Not that it went badly. It didn't. It was incredibly easy, but "it" just wasn't there; the world did not disappear. We sat around making breakfast, making dinner, watching a lot of tv and movies and there was a decided lack of anything of substance. On the car ride to the airport for my return I even asked, "So are we going to talk anymore?" You know me, always blunt and to the point. He, not so much. "Of course we are!" "So should I think about coming back in June?" "Oh, we'll talk about that later." Um, not so much; I think if I even have to ask the first question I know what the answer should be. I just wanted him to admit it too. While I want to be settled in a good relationship, I'm certainly not going to force it.
Back to the drawing board.
Me and Nat
Originally uploaded by Traveling Em
My friend Erin, shown in the gala picture below, threw me a surprise birthday party. A month to the day after my birthday. I was flabbergasted. I didn't see it coming at all.
I went out with another teacher immediately after school for a walk through the park and at her suggestion we returned to my place to go to the Georgian restaurant near by. We stop in at the apartment complex first and I call Erin to see if she wants to join us. Note, Erin lives in the apartment directly below me, so as I'm unlocking the door, I hear her phone ringing. And ringing. I open the door wondering why hasn't she answered yet and notice the streamers hanging in my kitchen doorway. Now I'm still thinking, "why hasn't she answered yet" in addition to, "why did the green guys come and hang streamers??" After a pregnant pause I walk into the living room and am shocked to find it FULL of people!
We all headed down to Erin's where she had prepared loads of food with the help of many others including Carol, who made the cake pictured. It was a great evening!
Sunday, May 3
Well, I have been off to Italy for a week.
Then I had a friend come in for a few days. Also, I've started an online masters through Oregon State. I have two assignments due per week, so the time I could be here with you, I'm reading articles on technology and education.
Or so mundane and repetitive that your inspiration has been stripped?
Quite honestly, the snow and cold was getting me down. We had our last snow on April 22nd.
Well, I have been into work to help my seniors continue to prepare for their IB exams which are this week. Aforementioned masters program has also had me very keen to immediately begin to incorporate more technology into my lessons, as such, I've been spending time designing web projects and math lessons around Autograph and Excel and I didn't really think people would want to read about that sort of stuff.