Saturday, February 23, 2019

Accreditation Week, with Sketches

Part of me is having trouble believing it's Saturday--my 3 days away in Savannah have left me discombobulated about what day it is.

In a few hours, my brother-in-law comes with a trailer attached to his SUV.  He will be taking away furniture that we don't want.  I understand why my spouse loves the 8 foot long orange sofa, but I'm thrilled that he agrees that it doesn't really fit with our much smaller house.

I'm hoping that it will feel like some progress, after weeks (months?) of feeling stalled on the home repair/restoration front.  The electrician came yesterday, so we are moving ahead with the kitchen remodel.  My spouse got some painting done.  We have ordered patio furniture, which has been coming, and it seems to fit the bill.

Still, I continue to wash dishes in the bathroom sink and bathtub.  I am weary.

Let me capture a few thoughts from the week.

--The news has been weird this week.  There's the case of the actor who staged a hate crime, but very badly--paying his "attackers" by check.  Then there's the case of the Coast Guard guy who was planning to kill lots of high-placed Democrats--he was discovered because he'd been researching mass killings on a Coast Guard computer.  Sheesh!

--I've been struggling to keep up with my weekly goals.  But writing them out on my tiny sketch pad each week helps.  Here's an example of what I've been doing, from a more successful week:

--I've been doing other sketching too.  On Tuesday morning, I had some time before the accreditation workshop, so I sat at the hotel window and made this sketch:

Here are photos of what I tried to sketch:

The other side of the river which is the more prominent part of the sketch:

--I have spent the week on lots of accreditation projects.  Few parts of my administrator life make me feel more inadequate.  But I'm trying to shift my perspective.  I'm not inadequate when it comes to all those tasks.  But when I look at a mass of data and can't find a pattern for why students aren't successful, I need to remind myself that there may not be a pattern.  Accreditors won't like that answer, but I am a woman prone to find patterns where there are none--if I don't see a pattern, it may not exist.

Of course, it may be that I'm too close to the situation.  I do wonder what might be found if I gave an outside person the mass of data.

--I'm sure there must be more to my week, but my writing time has run out--time to get the furniture ready to head to its new home.

Friday, February 22, 2019

Country Royalty Resurrected

I am discovering a whole world of tribute artists.  I mean I'm discovering their existence, not that I'm buying CDs. 

When I think of tribute artists, I tend to think of bad Elvis impersonators.  But on Wednesday night, I saw a different possibility.  We went to a show called Country Royalty - Tribute to Hank Williams and Patsy Cline.  I wasn't sure what to expect, but I was somewhat skeptical.  Happily, I was pleasantly surprised.

It was an interesting mix of learning about the two artists, along with some entertaining comedic patter from Jason Petty, who played Hank Williams.  He opened by saying, "Y'all are in the only spot in the country where you still need to run your air conditioner."  He gave us interesting lessons on the life of Hank Williams, who wrote over 400 songs in his short life, and the development of particular types of country music.  Katie Deal, who played Patsy Cline, taught us some women's history in addition to Cline's biography.

I knew all the Hank Williams songs, which surprised me a bit.  I was only familiar with the most popular of Cline's songs.  But I liked the show anyway--and I liked it far more than I expected to.

When I was trying to look up more information, I discovered that there are lots of shows like this one.  One of our local theatres features shows that cover the music of the Beach Boys and the music of Peter, Paul, and Mary (not all of them together, but 2 separate shows).

I shouldn't be surprised.  Years ago I saw the show Rain:  A Tribute to the Beatles, and then I was genuinely surprised at the size of the crowd.  Musical history has all sorts of possibilities.

Thursday, February 21, 2019

Breakfast in America's First City*

When I told people at the accreditation conference that I drove up from South Florida, some people looked at me like I had told them that I hitched a wagon to a mule and made my way north.  But it didn't take me any longer than my colleague who flew, by the time one gets to the airport early.  I was glad to have the extra space and the ability to stop.

Yesterday I was driving south, and I thought, I could have breakfast in St. Augustine!  I could go from sleeping in the oldest city in Georgia to having breakfast in the oldest city in Florida--and then I scolded myself for only counting cities founded by Europeans.

So, I stopped and parked near the fort.

Here's a close up of the wall and the bridge over the moat:

Is this just high tide?  Sea level rise doubters, take note.  As the sea level rises, we will start to lose parts of cities for longer periods of time, and not just parking lots:

In my ongoing list of favorite signs, add this one about the fort being built for war, not for modern safety standards:

The first Catholic church in North America was open, so I ducked inside (more on the cathedral in this blog post):

I had a lovely breakfast.  I did a bit of sketching while waiting for it:

I also discovered that I'm not good at having a leisurely meal when I have many hours of driving ahead.  So I wrapped up my biscuit and wandered through the historic village, taking pictures on my way back to where I parked the car.

I can't tell if these are the original buildings.

Some of them look like they are:

But some remind me of the artifice of places like Gatlinburg:

I was glad I stopped.  As I got further to the south, I thought about historic cities and sites.  I thought that I should have a late lunch at the Miami Circle, a site created by the Tequesta, a native group here long before Europeans thought about pushing the boundaries by boat.  But I was glad to stop at my own historic site, my little house that was built early in the history of Broward county--it's on the first plat map.

*I am aware of the hazards of using the term America to refer to the U.S. and of the hazards of determining what counts as a city.  I'm using this term on purpose, and hoping that the blog post illuminates some of the hazards.

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Savannah Snapshots

When I look back on this week, I imagine that my whirlwind walk around dreary, chilly Savannah and snapping pictures will be one of the highlights of this week.

What else was sold in this building?

I'm not sure why this sign intrigued me:

This set of windows in the antique store delighted me:

In fact, I see a windows theme:

The french cafe is hiring!


And then I got home and took this snapshot of the moon on the river through the hotel window.

The iconic dome that one finds on so many older buildings that were/are government sites:


This brewery beer garden played "Love Shack" at full blast--for a brief moment, I felt like I had fallen through a hole in time:


And yesterday morning--just a reminder that it's still a port city--that's a big ship, headed to the sea:

I love all the rickety walkways and arches:

Farewell, Savannah--I'll try not to wait decades before returning to you!

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Accreditation in Savannah

I didn't write yesterday because I was on the road very early to go to an accreditation conference in Savannah, Georgia.

I didn't sleep well, as I often don't sleep well the night before travel. So I got up, took a quick shower, made coffee for the thermoses, and was on the road by 4:50 a.m. It was a very easy trip--what a nice surprise. Not much road work or slow downs, hurrah. Good stuff to listen to on NPR. I zipped right on up I 95 and got to the hotel just before noon.

The hotel is very upscale, a Westin, on an "island" (human made, I think) that's part of a convention center part of town. It's across the river from the real town of Savannah, the historic part. The official check in time is 4:00, but I always see if it's possible to check in early, when I get to a place early. Hurrah, I got checked right in.

I had thought about walking around Savannah, but once I was settled into the room, the skies opened up, and the rain started.  But that was O.K. too.  I got to enjoy the lovely room while I caught up on grading for my online classes.

The hotel room has no Bible, but it does have a Book of Mormon--I find that odd. I found it as I was opening drawers in my search for the wi-fi info or other info.

Later in the afternoon, the rain let up.  I didn't trust it enough to take the ferry across the river to the historic district, but I thought, wait, I have a car for just this very reason!  So I got in the car, drove across the bridge, and found parking--and because it was Presidents Day, the parking was free.

Long ago, we went to Savannah, back in the late 80's.  It doesn't look at all like I remember it--which makes me wonder which colonial city I'm remembering.  I expected to be reminded of Charleston, SC, but I was more reminded of Alexandria, Virginia--and even some of the older parts of Columbia, South Carolina.

It was still cloudy and gloomy and a bit chilly--perfect walking weather.  I snapped 94 pictures--what fun!

I came back in time to join the team for dinner.  It was delightful, a good chance to reconnect with everyone.  Some of us know each other from our time at a previous school, including one woman who was part of my quilt group before she moved to higher ground in Florida.

We lingered long after dinner, another unexpected treat.  And now it's on to the accreditation workshop, a type of conference that will be new to me.  

At one point yesterday, I glanced out of the hotel windows onto the Savannah river where once ships holding slaves would have sailed.  I thought about the fact that I was in a hotel that was both a resort and a conference center.  My poet brain will be making something of these connections.  Hmmmm.  

The city also was the birthplace of  both Flannery O'Connor and Juliette Low, founder of the Girl Scouts.  Hmmm.  More connections . . .

Sunday, February 17, 2019

Transforming the Patio/Pool area

Yesterday was a great day.  I hadn't had a free Saturday since the year started--each Saturday I've been going to spin class so that I had a shot at winning the spot in the spinathon.  It worked!  So yesterday I decided that it was more important to take care of some paperwork and housing tasks.

Along the way, I got some writing done, which always makes a day good.  And I read 100 pages of Jill Lapore's One Nation, a wonderful book of American history, which I am reading very slowly, picking it up and reading a bit, getting sidetracked for months, and returning to it. I just finished the part about the Civil War, which is a good reminder that as bad as things seem to be now, they're not as bad as they were just before and during the Civil War.

I got the taxes done--hurrah.  It was less onerous than some years, in part because my spouse and I have done less in the way of side hustles.  I had no writing income to declare, and he had no consulting to city government.  I was not surprised that the standard deduction was higher than our itemized deduction; I knew that the 2017 tax reform bill had almost doubled it.  We are getting a bit of money back.  I was just happy that we're not one of the families that was surprised by having to pay thousands of dollars.

But the best part of the day was our ability to make decisions about furniture for the back patio and pool area.

I have been wanting to get some decent furniture for the back patio/pool area since we first got this house.  My spouse has wanted to wait until we had a complete vision, but never really had a complete vision. Along the way, we tried to make small fixes--you may remember a picnic table set with woven wicker chairs that came apart, as did the replacements that Home Depot sent. We got an additional plastic lounge chair to match the plastic lounge chair that my mom and dad bought for our deck back in 1993.

That newer lounge chair just cracked into unusability (yes, the new one, not the older one). Did that prompt my spouse to be open to the idea of just going ahead and ordering furniture? I don't know.

Yesterday we were finally at a point to think about how we want the back patio/pool area to be--it's one of the spots in the house that we use more than any other. In the morning, I did some searching on Wayfair, which is having a good President's Day sale--I got an idea of what my spouse liked and did some more searching. In the evening, I showed him what I had found, and we made some decisions.

We chose the fire pit not because it was the most attractive, but because it has a grill and thus can do double duty. It's the one thing that I think is a bit ugly. We bought some chairs to go by the firepit, along with some chaise lounges that don't require assembly, and a table and chairs.

I am hoping we will end up with more of a resort feel in the back. I really want to have more of a place where we could relax as we move into summer--especially since it is taking so long to get the inside of the house put back together.  

I should remember to take some before pictures--I'll do that this afternoon. Stay tuned for the transformations ahead!

Saturday, February 16, 2019

A Week Ago and Today

A week ago, I'd have been doing this:

Yes, that's me, in a rainbow wig, on a spin bike.  I rode during the 80's Hair Bands segment, and at the beginning, those of us who were willing put on wigs and spun for a bit while people snapped pictures.

Eventually, I got too hot and put the wig on the front of the bike.  And then it fell off, and eventually someone added it to the pile of wigs.  I wonder if they just got thrown away--it seems a shame, but I wouldn't wear the one that wasn't mine.  I had planned to take mine home, but in the end, I didn't protest when one of the helpers took it away.  I already have many props, as befits a former drama nerd.

I am running out of storage space.

This morning, I am late to posting because we've been shopping online sales for patio furniture.  Yes, it is amazing what ships to our door these days--and for free.  Had I planned to do online shopping?  No, I thought we might go to a place where we could actually try out the furniture.  But we're finding some amazing deals.

I have been wanting to get our patio into some sort of enjoyable shape for years now.  I am going to take advantage of Presidents' Day sales and a willing spouse.  I also hope to get our taxes done this week-end--all sorts of patriotic stuff happening in our South Florida homestead!