Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New Year!!!

We're actually walking around the corner to a neighbor's house for a New Year's Eve party. I'm already sleepy and it isn't even 9 o'clock yet. Wish me luck at staying awake until midnight. Happy New Year!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Beaches in winter

On our break from work this holiday season M wanted to visit the beaches. Beaches in winter are always cold but also pretty. Here's a view of the ocean as it reaches the inlet in Ocean City, MD.

Here's a picture of the snow on the boardwalk at OC.

Next we visited the beach at Rehobeth, DE. Here's a shot of the snow they got on their boardwalk.

Here's the ocean. We got a nice walk on the boardwalk at OC, but the winds were too strong and cold to walk in Rehobeth. What are you doing over the holidays? Hope you're getting out and about.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010


I received a letter in the mail today from my old mentor, Norb. I say old as in former because he's no longer a daily force for action in my life, even though his influences on me can be felt daily. And I do not mean "old" even though he is 70 years old. Norb is a great philosopher, a man of the cloth, a student of life, and a really great guy. If you ever look back on your life and you find those few defining moments, when the trajectory of your life was irrevocably altered, you can often point to an event or a person and say, that moment was important, that person changed my life. For me, the moment was considering yet another try at college at the ripe old age of 30 and meeting Norb, Director of The Honors College.

Norb was The Honors College. It was his baby, his creation, his vision. I was changed by his vision and I know in some ways, I changed the college as well. Norb was/is big on embracing life, encountering "the Other," and constantly learning and growing. Meeting him was a good fit for me, at the right time in my life when I was finally ready and serious about learning, when I desperately needed to discover my true potential, and also at a time when I needed a safe place to grow and be nurtured among enough like-minded people to encourage me, and enough unlike-minded people to throw a few bumps in the road, make some lessons a challenge, and help point out the rough edges I needed to work on.

The Oak tree is a symbol for The Honors College. This one was painted by a former Honors student, Derek Kaplan and hangs in the Honors Forum, complete with Roman pillars. At least it did the last time I was back there to see it. I was last back there for Norb's retirement party. The "official" retirement, even though he still teaches the occasional Honors Seminar, still writes and researches in his office, and is still a presence around the Honor College offices and classrooms. Honors was so quintessentially Norb, that I can't imagine it without him. My life used to so revolve around that place that I couldn't imagine ever leaving the nest or any life outside of that perfect world. Yet, Norb has retired, and I haven't been a part of that community for ten years now. Life changes, you can embrace the change or resist it. As the Borg would say, resistance is futile. So back to the point of this post, the letter from Norb. I consumed his letter immediately, so full of the words, the lectures, the ideas that made Honors what it was. I felt torn in two directions, nostalgia for what can never be again, and sadness, because I still need someone like Norb in my life today, to show me the possibilities, to encourage me that I can grow and endure the pain that comes with walking into the unknown. Someone to challenge my brain and make me think deeply about things, read and question, debate. I miss that stimulating environment for learning. I think that might be why I still love being on a university campus, because every now and then, I overhear intellectual conversations, I see a glimpse of curiosity and growth in a student and I think of Norb. He made something really special with his life. He changed so many lives. I place this expectation upon myself that because I was lucky enough to have studied with this man, learned from him, grown in the environment he nurtured for me and hundreds of other students, that I owe something back to the Universe, to honor Norb's life's work, to keep passing on the gift that was given to me. Now how to do that in my own way?

Sunday, December 26, 2010

It's Snowing....

Hope you all had a great Christmas. My kids were here, and Min made ornaments for us. She taught herself how to do wood burning. As you would know if I'd gotten a picture of the Christmas cookies I tried to decorate, that Min is the one who inherited the artistic talent in the family, but not from me.

The snow here started lightly last night and has been coming down steadily all day. I know we're over 8 inches now and I don't know when it will stop. M has gone out and shoveled the walks twice so far. I shoveled off our flat roof. We pulled out the generator and got the power lines ready in case the power goes off. M is prepared to watch her Packers game today no matter what. Hope you're staying warm and have plenty to keep you occupied.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas!

Not to be annoying or anything, but this made me laugh. Hope you're having a good holiday.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Holiday Time

Isn't that scene just gorgeous? This is how I like snow these days, looking out a window, with the sun shining bright, and I don't have to go out into it. Well luckily we don't have any snow here right now, other than a dusting from a week ago. (What's the snow situation with you CK?) M is disappointed that she won't have a white Christmas, I'm just thankful I don't have to try and walk on or drive on any ice. I know it's a sign of getting older when snow no longer brings me the joy it once did because I now have to worry about slipping on ice and breaking something. I fall at least a couple of times each winter, usually off the edge of our back stairs. It doesn't feel good and it takes a long time for the bruises to heal. I know it's only a matter of time before I break something, so I'm ever more careful in winter, I probably salt the deck and steps more than necessary out of extreme caution.

Another thing I do in winter is bake. Oh sure, I'll bake the occasional pan of cookies throughout the year, but winter baking is different. It's an all day event, there are breads and cookies and decorating, and wrapping, and arranging baskets of goodies for the various individuals. I spent all day yesterday baking for the first batch of people and when I get done here, I'll start on the second group of people I'm baking for. I bake for people at work, the courthouse, the neighbors, friends, etc. I tried out a new pan this year. It has shapes of snowmen, Santa heads, and Christmas trees. The pan works really well, the cookies taste great, but the decorating leaves much to be desired. I did okay with painting the Christmas trees, but my snowmen look more like ghosts, and Santa's rosy cheeks look more like he got in a bloody brawl with one of the reindeer. I told M I was getting in touch with my inner-child when I decorated. Apparently my inner child is no better artist than I am. So my next plan is to ditch the frosted cookies and go back to lump cookies, like "no-bake" cookies. Well, I'd better get back to baking. The cleaning and shopping are done, the kids will be home tomorrow, and I can look for that elusive Norman Rockwell shot on Christmas day. Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Breezing through . . .

Hi, sorry I've been so absent lately. I'm swamped with grading, I've got 135 essay finals to give next week and have graded and turned in by Sunday of next week, so I'll have to remain absent a little bit longer, then I'll be back and bugging everyone.

To tide you over until my return, enjoy my new favorite commercial:

Last full day in Europe

Ahh, all good things must come to an end.  Our European vacation is drawing to a close.  We leave Nice this morning to drive back to Barcelo...