Summer is officially in swing, at least it is here in the South–and I guess it must be gearing up pretty soon in the rest of North America. Sorry Australia. As the weather warms up and my nephew collects spare change in his vacation jug, it puts me in mind of some of my best vacations. Actually it’s hard to choose a best. I’ve been pretty lucky.
Definitely one of the best vacations of my childhood would be the combined summers at Space Camp. I was technically a teenager, technically a middle-schooler, but I can be nerdy enough to admit that space absolutely turned me into an excited little kid and although it wasn’t really anything like the movie, Space Camp was an incredible adventure.
The first year was a whirl-wind. I didn’t know anyone, but it didn’t matter because everyone was a lot like me. I met Heidi right away, a girl who became a very dear, lifelong friend. Much from the two years actually blurs together now, in fact every time I think of a memory from the first year, I start to wonder if it was actually the second year. Which year did I get my head stuck between the bunkbeds? Which year did we build the rocket that was rather hideous and was named The Load Toad? Which year did we look at Jupiter in the giant telescope? Which year did we tour the training facility where astronauts practice weightless maneuvers in dive suits inside a ginormous tank?
I honestly can’t remember anymore. (My memory is terrible. Just ask D. He’s my official memory-keeper. As in, “Remind me to go to the bank. Remind me to eat dinner. Remind me what day it is.”)
What I do remember is that I had so much fun. Every moment was as thrilling as the breathless 4Gs of the Space Shot. Technically, it wasn’t Space Camp. Technically the first year was Space Academy (Level I) and the second year was Advanced Space Academy. Heidi and I were the only girls on the “pilot” track that year, but we hung tough with the boys and loved it. We trained hard and then executed 3 separate missions: We flew the shuttle, we performed experiments on the space station, and we assisted the other teams from the safety of Mission Control. I swear it was exactly like Apollo 13. Except without, you know, Gary Sinise. Or Ed Harris.
There were movies in the OmniMax and private tours of the museum. And So. Many. Dippin’ Dots. We even had our own turn in a big “weightless” metal water tank. Unfortunately I had allergies and was terrified of getting the benz (in 30 feet of water…), so I snorkeled instead. Probably for the best because a tornado choose that moment to make an appearance, and we were unceremoniously hauled from the tank early and sent down to the safety of the basement museum, our wetsuits still dripping. I am, however, slightly haunted by my fear of scuba diving, and as I have never had a good snorkeling experience (stories to come, I’m sure), I hope some day to scuba dive the Great Barrier Reef.
One of the highlights of camp was meeting an actual astronaut, and somewhere there may still be photographic evidence. I wish I could say that Space Camp was where I learned not to lose my camera, but alas, remember what I said about my memory? If not, then perhaps your memory is worse than mine. That’s a scary thought.
I can’t speak for other programs, but my time at the Huntsville Space and Rocket Center was truly unparalleled, and I would encourage everyone to go–at least for the day. In fact, given what a good time he had at the Ren Faire, it might be time to haul the Star Wars obsessed E down to Alabama for the day.
What are some of your favorite vacation spots? Best memories? Feel free to share–I’m always looking for someplace new to go. As my dad always says, “You want to do everything.” Well maybe not everything–bungee jumping just doesn’t sound like something I should do.
, Being Brave
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, Space Camp
2013 GradeReading.NET Summer Reading Lists
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I just got home from ten days in Europe and I am ready to write. Why?
Because getting out of my writing cave makes me bump up against people, against history, against emotional struggles.
Belzec Death Camp Memorial, Poland
One place we visited is a memorial for the Belzec (Bee AWA zhek) Death Camp in eastern Poland, the first and worst of the Nazi camps which tried to exterminate Jews, gypsies and handicapped people. Over 600,000 people died here in 1941-1943. Then, the Germans flattened the camp and planted trees, in an attempt to hide what they had done.
This is history and deep emotions rolled into one poignant visit. For example, there was only one survivor of the camp–only one!–and his stories are heartbreaking. One quote was from a young boy who had entered the gas chambers and was heard to cry out, “It’s dark, it’s dark. Mama, haven’t I been good?” His last words.
For a writer to experience a sobering memorial something like this is to plumb the emotional depths to which a character might be forced to go.
Barn Swallow Nest
One place we stayed was a horse farm in eastern Poland and one morning I walked out with my camera to see what was around. Under the eaves of the horse barns were nest after nest of barn swallows. I like trying to find the small, hidden things to photograph, because as a writer, it reminds me to pay attention to the landscape, to notice the “telling details” that could make a story come alive.
"Beware of Dog" in Polish
I snapped this photo while we were stopped for a break along a country road. Writers need to remember that there are common emotions and thoughts across all languages and cultures, they are common to humanity. Fear of dogs is one of those things.
Window in Zamosz, Poland
And you can find beauty across the world, too, beauty in the common things of life such as a window.
The trip was amazing: as a writer, the trip reminded me that stories are universal, that evoking emotions–both happy and sad–is universal, and that beauty is found in the common things of life.
It has been a busy Spring Break week here in the Children's Room. The kids enjoyed everything from a showing of "Wreck it Ralph
" to watching teen volunteers perform classic books in our Reader's Theater Storytime
to the action-packed comedy show Grins and Grins
to our Family Craft Morning.
Enjoy the rest of your break!
Posted by Amy
Production in the studio has been slow.
That's not to mention all of the cool stuff that's happening behind the scenes!
So let me fill you in with one biggie.
We're moving into our first house at the end of March!!
Yep, my husband and I were finally given the gift of buying our first home, and that means packing it all up. The whole month of March has been preparing and packing, and now we're at the tail end called "crunch time".
This also means working in the studio towards art has been placed aside. Artist cap off, homemaker cap on. Although, picking out paint colors has rambled our design heads a bit. ;)
I'm very excited to be moving into our new home, and the new studio (eeee!!!), and I can't wait to show you! Until I can, here is the before and after of my current studio...the after being where it's at today. Just so you can get an idea.
I still have a mini work space for painting and basic office work since we're still in the apartment for two more weeks, but everything else is getting boxed up and ready to haul.ETSY SHOP ANNOUNCEMENTMy wee shop is going on vacation Wednesday March 20th until April 15th
, that's the longest time on vacation since I opened the shop 5 years ago.
Beginning April 15th thru April 19th
everything in the shop will be 35% off
to kick off the new studio! Mark your calenders for this sale!
More details will be on Facebook
along with sneak peeks of the new studio as I get it all put together.
Want the first peek? The studio is through those doors...
In this guest post by Vodník author Bryce Moore, Bryce shares his favorite things to see, do, and eat when visiting Slovakia.
When I was asked to write a brief guest blog post about traveling to Slovakia, the first question that popped into my head was, “How do I keep it brief?” I’ve been to the country many times, and I absolutely adore it. There’s so much to see and do—although there are some things you have to watch out for if you’re not accompanied by a native Slovak speaker.
First off, let me say that this is just really for western Slovakia. I have yet to be over to the eastern half of the country, and I don’t know much about it. In many ways (from what I’ve been told, at least) the eastern and western sides are like two different places. Eastern Slovakia has a much bigger influence from Hungary. Western Slovakia is influenced by Austria and the Czech Republic. Surprising, in a country that’s significantly smaller than West Virginia. But then again, it’s Europe. Things work differently over there.
With that disclaimer out of the way, let me dig right into the meat of the topic: why should someone want to go to Slovakia? A better question would be why wouldn’t someone want to go to Slovakia? It’s a beautiful country, filled with mountains in the north, plains in the south, and rolling hillsides in between. It’s got dense forests, wild rivers, and some of the most awesome castles you can think of. The food is fantastic, the people are friendly, and it’s an area most Americans haven’t even heard of. (Seriously. Try writing a book that takes place in Slovakia, and see how many people ask you where that is again.)
(Oh–and one final note before I begin. A lot of these Slovak words should have diacritic marks in them to be spelled properly. I’m leaving them out for ease of typing and web browser compatibility. Click through to the links to see the proper spelling.)
First up, let’s take a look at some of the castles:
Hands down, the most elegant one is Bojnice. It’s a gorgeous, completely restored castle, inside and out. From what I was told when I toured it the first time, it was used by some of Disney’s Imagineers as part of the basis for Cinderella’s castle, and I believe it. The town also has a zoo, if you’re looking to spend the day.
Orava Castle is much more along the lines of a fortress. Towering over the Orava river, it’s built in three distinct levels, each with their own fortifications. It’s also fully restored, and was even used as the shooting site for some of Nosferatu, one of the most famous vampire movies ever made. Really impressive, although a bit of a drive to see it. Did I mention it’s rumored to be haunted?
Cachtice is the ruins of the old home of Elizabeth Bathory, the Countess of Blood. She was found guilty of killing local villagers (some claim hundreds) and bathing in their blood or torturing them. Real pleasant woman. And she was walled into her castle chambers as punishment for her crimes. She was the basis for some of Bram Stoker’s Dracula, and the castle ruins themselves were used in some of the movie Dragonheart, with Dennis Quaid. Creepy place, but beautiful views.
Finally, I have to put in a huge plug for Trencin Castle, although I suppose the entirety of Vodník is really a great ad for the castle and city, too. It’s one of the best castles I’ve ever been to, and they have regular events in the evening over the summers, as well as week-long festivals in the city and up at the castle, recreating everything from medieval jousts to Roman gladiator matches. And my brother-in-law stars in a few of them! One of the advantages of having a brother-in-law who’s part of a historical reenactment group is you get to play dress up at the castle when you come to visit. Here I am in a lord’s outfit, complete with sword:
Stay tuned tomorrow for Part II of Bryce’s Guide to Slovakia where he talks about the most important part of travel – the food!
Filed under: Musings & Ponderings
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Tagged: Science Fiction/Fantasy
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In addition to the plays, there are lectures, play-orientations, exhibits....
...as well as a very fun gift store.
The performances were great. Rep-theater. :-)
A highlight every evening before the various plays was the 'Greenshow' in the outdoor theater.
We drove several hours down to Cedar City for the Shakespeare Festival - but found things of interest on the way -
At a gas station/rest stop in the middle of no-where, we were surprised by a peacock in the parking lot.. What? Why...?
Turns out there was a petting zoo on the property (who knew?) - full of a nice selection of animals from the exotic -
- to the domestic (baby sheeps and pygmy goats :-)
The peacock was pecking at car tires and even stalking my son. Keeps life interesting. :-)
A rocky out-cropping in the middle of endless looking flat lands...
Apparently, it is the world's largest hand's-on, dinosaur exhibit in the world!
Loads of gorgeously fabulous fossils -
Lots of interactive aspects -
And so so many bones! (isn't this a darling skull?)
They have over 60 dynamic complete skeletons -
(Dire wolf skull!)
There were a number of exhibits - from quilts to sculptures -
(I quite enjoyed this Steampunky water fountain in the courtyard)
And there was the pig sculpture that my sister found irresistible... :-)
In the Russian collection, we found this painting of my niece...
But I kind of loved the sculpture garden -
Another lovely afternoon....
Just back from a long and long overdue vacation. I was ready for it, I was fried. But now I am ready to see where the projects take me. Its always odd to come back and look at a bunch of work recently completed when you are only a little separated from it-not working on it but still somehow attached. Like the way that you remember a conversation that you had recently and suddenly see it in a whole new light. A preview from "Following Grandfather" to come soon.
Got to visit a number of museums whilst in Utah. First one being the BYU Museum of Art
Lots of it was samples of gorgeous lettering -
-there was also pottery, and metalwork-
(these are horse shoes!)
-mosaics, glass and wood carving.
It was impressive and exotic.
There was also Western art, sculpture, and electronic art,
Well, I did it.
I survived my first year teaching abroad. It was a challenging year, but through God's strength, I made it. The school year is finally over.
The students' last day of school was officially June 21st, though many stopped coming before then. Unfortunately for teachers, the last day was July 12th. Why the powers that be chose to have that 3-week gap, I don't know, but it was excruciating. At least for me. Many teachers spent the last three weeks doing absolutely nothing. Well except for working out (at school), eating, reading, or chillaxing.
Our last few weeks were spent in PDs (professional developments), preparing for the next school year, blah, blah, blah. To be honest, I mentally checked out sometime around week one. I was done working. My body was there, but my mind had already gone on vacation. It was a struggle to get up in the mornings and go to work, but nevertheless, we did. And we're finished. Thank you, JESUS! I'm seriously contemplating getting a shirt that says, "I survived teaching in Abu Dhabi." I have that Destiny's Child song in my head. "I'm a survivor. I'm not gon give up. I'm not gon stop. I'm gon work harder." Describes this year perfectly.
My brain rejects anything school-like, so enough about school.
My vacation will consist of a trip to Phuket (pronounced Poo-ket) Thailand, home (the US), and Puerto Rico. I know, awesome, right???
Tomorrow morning, my friends and I leave for Phuket for a 6-day/5-night vacation. I so can NOT wait. There is fun - and relaxation - to be had. Next week, I leave for home. I can't wait to see my family! Oh, how I miss them so. Then, it's off to San Juan, Puerto Rico with the sis for a 7-day/6-night vacation. Seven days may not be enough, I know but we'll make the best out of the time we have. I can't wait to see the gorgeous men...uh, I mean the gorgeous beaches of Puerto Rico. Heehee. I spend the rest of my vacation back in Houston with the fam before I come back to Abu Dhabi for another great year of teaching.
I'm thinking this summer may turn out to be the best one yet.
Once again, I am out of town (family, Shakespeare festival, galavanting...), and mostly computer-less, but thought I would leave you with this music video that is thoroughly entrenched in my head in the interim:
I will be back next week, and will attempt to catch up with pics from my adventures. In the meantime, hold my hand...?
By: Morgan Mandel,
I'm up in the NorthWoods where I have a love/hate relationship going with nature. I'm a bug magnet, and they follow me everywhere, even indoors.
And the skies - they've been really blue most days, today, especially, but in the low 80's, a little too hot for me. Fortunately, it cools off nicely at night; and fortunately, I'm not home in Illinois, where it's in the 90's.
|First Time For Dinner at PJ's Burger Barn -|
We Will Return!
Out to dinner almost every night, and too much ice cream. Not to worry, everyone knows vacation ice cream calories don't count.
Two trips to Lake of the Torches Casino. Lots of fun playing penny slots, but enjoy myself too much! My friend, Jeanne, and I spend hours when we go. We don't stop whether we're winning or losing, because we are what you call "players." Anyway, I only went twice and the damages weren't too bad this time.
In my spare time, I've been working on a new romantic comedy, which I forgot I had on my laptop computer. A while back, I had hit a roadblock, but this week inspiration came and now I know which direction I'm going, so I'm forging ahead.
Signing off now. Places to go and things to see.
If you like mysteries, thrillers, romantic suspense, or fun, romantic comedy, check out the
Excerpts and Links to All My Full Length Novels at http://morgansbooklinks.blogspot.com/
for the same TV producer as the prior post
Originally published in Writer Unboxed.
I'm posting some of my older comics here as I catalog and tag them in prep for a print book compilation. You can find my comics for writers on Inkygirl (http://inkygirl.com), Tumblr (http://inkygirl.tumblr.com) and Pinterest (http://pinterest.com/inkyelbows/comics-for-writers-inkygirl-com)
Now Playing - Say Goodbye by Norah Jones
When we were headed back to Idaho, I had actually been concerned that the thinner mountain air would cause some difficulty for me. I've never been the best when it comes to breathing - I always feel stuffy, but I'd read that many people have trouble making the switch back after being gone for a while. I did not have that problem
By: Aaron Polson,
Blog: The Other Aaron
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And I spent it in Colorado with my sons. Owen, Max, and I climbed rocks for a beautiful waterfall view, played our third round of mini golf, and snapped photos of a bull elk outside our cabins.
Pictures forthcoming. I promise.
Many folks have already read the article in yesterday's Lawrence Journal-World, but for those who haven't, here's the link: Lawrence Father Recounts Wife's Eight Year Battle...
Thanks to Karrey Britt and Nick Krug for their professionalism and care in putting Aimee's story together.
There comes a time during every vacation when I decide I'm ready to go home. Vacation is great--new adventures are great--but home... It's just home. Home brings comfort and routine; I spend less energy at home and can focus on other things. Damn I love those mountains, but until I buy my cabin, home is in Lawrence.
On Sunday night in Estes Park, while packing for home, I sank into a recliner in our rented cabin. A heavy weight pressed against me--it wasn't exactly the "grief landmine" feeling, but something close. I suddenly understood the easy comparison between losing my spouse and homesickness.
The only problem--when your partner dies, you can't go "home" again. Not to the same home.
Aimee has been gone for nearly three months now; an eternity in some ways (half of Elliot's life), but a blink in others. The first few weeks of April were muddy and slow and painful. Part of May vanished beneath "endings" (school, soccer, etc., etc., etc.). June has clipped along with my deck building project, Colorado, camps, art classes, and trips to the swimming pool. Day by day, the new normal takes root. It digs deeper. But this isn't quite home. It's a new place. A move without moving.
Yes, this is why you learned the Pythagorean Theorem in high school: so you could build a deck. It's also handy for laying tile. I'm well beyond this point (attached the joists today), but I thought my students need to know that math is real. Look--I'm doing math. Math is helping me guarantee a square corner. Yay, math!
(Somebody tell me to bend at the knees next time. My lower back is killing me.)
part of the same commission work as the owls
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Commission work Bonnier and Carlsen, till mitt barnbarn 2