Monday, August 21, 2017

Traveling on

Meanwhile, my son and I have moved on in our travels of the land of the free.

Kathy took us to pick up our rented car on Saturday morning, and then we hit the road toward the South.

We had a reservation for a tour of Mammoth Cave.

We have had some wonderful impressions in supermarkets.

Today we went canoeing on Harpeth River and had a wonderful time.

And tomorrow we are looking forward to the big event... the solar eclipse.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

From NEC to KEC...

Last week I spent a few days in Birmingham at the Festival of Quilts but never had enough time to write about what was going on. I had a lovely time there, meeting many people, saw some wonderful quilts, although I did not get to go through the rows with the competition quilts at all, and then a long an interesting meeting of the EQA International Reps on Saturday.
Sunday morning I left Birmingham on a very early flight after having slept rather badly. I guess I don't travel as easily any more as I used to, certainly early morning departures seem to be a bit of a problem. Don't know whether I am afraid I might not wake up on time, or whether this time it was the special arrangement of getting back in the afternoon of one day and leaving for the States on the next morning... I used to be able to do things like that. The most extreme arrangement I had was when I spent the Millenium in New Zealand – remember the discussions whether computers would be able to change over into the new century without any problems? - and I did not know whether I would be able to get back to Europe at all. But I had to teach on January 1, at a quarter past two in the afternoon. And my plane landed in Munich around noon. Of course, they had lost my luggage and it had to be delivered to my home because I had to go to the university... I had deposited clothes in my office and went directly to the university from the station and only had minor problems keeping my eyes open during the class before I could go home (to a very cold apartment). I wouldn't have minded at all if the computer problem had actually happened and I could have stayed in New Zealand, but it didn't happen. In any case, that's many years ago and after this recent experience I have realized that I won't make such tight arrangements any more.
So on Sunday morning the airport in Birmingham was very busy and the line for security check seemed to go on forever. But it was nice to be walking around the piano which is standing in the middle of the hall, waiting to be played. That's when I regret that my piano playing is very much tied to sheet music. It would have been nice to just sit down and play.

At home I repacked my bags, took my child and left again the next morning. I had been a bit late with entering our ESTA-application, so lived through a scary moment at the airport when the employee almost would not let us check-in. But everything went well, we got on the plane and had a quiet flight. We flew through Philadelphia where we had another long and exhausting amount of security checks that seemed to go on forever and then another two hours of waiting for our connecting flight. 

So we were very tired upon arrival but have been enjoying ourselves in Louisville, KY since.
We have walked across the pedestrian bridge that used to be a railroad bridge and crosses the Ohio River into Indiana. 

We have had American style ice cream, seen a basketball and a baseball game, 

and today we went to the Kentucky State Fair. 

And it has started to rain a bit.

Everything is bigger in the USA...

Monday, August 7, 2017

Travel preparations

Every once in a while I take a look at Austin Kleon’s blog which is always a source of good thoughts, and sometimes good laughs. The other day I found this post on not listening to the news - for a while at least - in the beginning of the day: 
My husband, who goes to bed very early and then wakes up very early, too, frequently listens to the news on the radio while still lying in bed. By the time we meet at the breakfast table he has already had his share of the latest world developments and is then eager to share these with some avid listener. I’d often rather just have a peaceful breakfast and not know much about the latest political misdemeanors all over, at least not at that point in the day. 

So I really enjoyed last week, after I had dropped off my son for his four days of basketball camp, when I was staying in a small holiday apartment all by myself. The apartment came with the largest TV-screen I have ever had at my disposal, but I did not turn the thing on even once. 

Neither did I buy a newspaper. I just slept, went on short bike rides (it was very hot) - but I managed to pass two of the transport ships on the Donau-Main-Canal while riding along on the bike path,

 studied a bit of my Spanish vocabulary, and relaxed. It was an extended no-news-at-the-breakfast-table for me... Another kind of Café Leisure, although I did not actually go and sit in a café.

Now I am preparing for Birmingham, where I am going tomorrow.FoQ, once again, and I am really looking forward to it.

When I come back on Sunday I have a few hours to repack, and on Monday next week my son and I are leaving for a three-week-trip to the US. When I was making the original plans I thought it was a good idea to have the two trips immediately following each other, now I am having second thoughts whether it would have been just a wee bit wiser to give myself at least a full day at home before heading back to the airport. But I had messed up the date of the total eclipse in the USA, which I definitely wanted to include in my itinerary and believed it would be earlier than it actually is. So in order to have at least overcome some of the jetlag before the big event I thought it would be better to leave on the turn of the heel. As departure dates are coming closer I am realizing that I am not 30 anymore and that things like this, which would have been no problem at that age, aren’t quite the sensible thing to do anymore. But I will manage.
So I went to the eye-doctor checkup this morning, ordered a bunch of textbooks to look at for next year’s class because I found out only today that new regulations have been passed for textbooks that might be used in the kind of class I will be teaching, made spaghetti for lunch, tried to persuade my 12-yr-old to go to the pool (unsuccessfully, he claims nobody else will be there, and is in a very ‘chilling’ mood right now), and am packing my bags. What will I take to stitch? Don’t know yet. Must be more than socks to knit, though….

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Unwinding: Back to Inspirational Pictures

As I am trying to unwind from last school year's emotional involvement, waiting for my son to finish his basketball camp, I realized that it's been ages since I posted anything that could be called 'inspirational pictures'. Not only have I not posted them - I haven't taken many. Now as I am taking short bike rides early in the morning or in the late afternoon, trying to evade the heat, I am beginning to look and see again.

A double oak that would make for a wonderful Daily Double Oak if
I lived here...

I love it when last year's sun flowers turn into sculptures.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Entering summer vacation

Yesterday was the last day of the school year, and the class of refugees where I have been teaching German this past year received their documentation that they completed the course. It's not really a diploma or report card, but a piece of paper that shows what they did with themselves this past year. We still don't know whether the Senegalese amongst them will be allowed to start the apprenticeship/education that all of this was a preparation for, but our little celebration on Friday was nice and cheerful. Except for the moments when I started to cry during the little speech I had prepared.

The class,
with four teachers. I am the one in the very middle...

I had practised the paragraph which I thought would be the most likely one to make me cry several times, and I got through that one alright. But another one a bit later, which I had not read out loud so often then caught me... But I guess that's ok after all that emotional upheaval throughout the year. The good news for me was that there will be another class starting in September, so I will be teaching again. It just hasn't really hit home yet, I find it hard to rejoice on my good luck when I don't know for the students of this year. But neither of them had understood when I said I might not agree to teach again next year if they did not get their permit, they all said I should teach and not bother about them.

This morning I have dropped of my son at his first basketball camp during this vacation, and then continued to a small apartment south of Bamberg where I will relax and bide my time before I pick him up again on Thursday. No sewing with me, only a book, a bit of knitting and Spanish vocabulary, and my bike. I plan to sleep a lot, bike a lot, read, relax...

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Slow progress

We have just over a week left in the school year. The Senegalese students still haven't heard from the authorities whether they will be allowed a work permit or denied. But for next week they are being asked to get all their papers ready for inspection, a health check, an informational meetings - and they are asking themselves what this is all about. By now all of them have lost hope that something good will come from this, and their mood is low. So is mine.
We started with such a vibrant enthusiasm, we had so many good hours and lots of fun, they have learned so much. And now they are being let down. It is unbearable, and I am very very frustrated.
That is the one patch of frustration. The other one is that I still don't know whether the job will continue next year because although now the district has voted for a continuation, it took them so long that several of the people who had signed up for next year's class have meanwhile decided to take other options, have withdrawn their application, and right now we don't have enough people signed up to get a full class size at which the program would indeed continue.

To be prepared for everything I have ordered a new computer because the one I am using right now belongs to the school and I might have to turn it in pretty soon. I picked it up today and will spend the next days transferring everything to the new hard drive and getting used to another technical item.

So only minor things have been going on at the sewing machine. I did finish sewing the top that I started a little while ago, counting. And I used my longarm to baste it, as I won't be quilting it on the longarm.

I decided to enter this quilt for the European Quilt Triannual, so I won't be showing more pictures of it on the blog prior to deadline and decision.