Saturday, August 11, 2012

Presentations, Accidents and Grandchildren

Wow I didn't realize that I have neglected this blog for so long.  Lots has happened between August 4 and now.

Boston:  I attended the Newcomers activity on Saturday evening and was very impressed at how welcoming members of the Association of Teacher Educators (ATE)are to new people.  I met a number of interesting people and will try to stay in touch with them.  I think I'd like to get involved in this organization.

Val Mulholand and I were scheduled to give a presentation on the Balfour Project on Sunday morning.  We did that and those folks who did attend - 5 people seemed quite interested and gave us their email addresses so that we could send them our powerpoints and other information about the project.

Right after the presentation on Sunday We headed for the airport and flew to Miami.  Stacey had  found a new apartment and had already bought most of the furniture - this new apartment is unfurnished.  She is hoping she will be in the apartment for the next few years.  We worked with Stacey moving her stuff from one apartment to another, organizing the new apartment and buying the bits and pieces that she needed to move in and feel settled.

On Thursday we rented a car and drove from Miami to Tallahassee to see Jay, Dori and Riley.  The drive is just over 7 hours but it is basically all on the Florida Turnpike - many lanes and very high speeds.

We experienced a sight that will remain with me for a very long time.  A woman was weaving in and out of the traffic.  But she wouldn't wait for the traffic to open for her in the next lane but she would accelerate into the smallest gap to change lanes.  We both commented on her driving as she went past us.

Somehow she got behind us and she came barreling past us on the right - we were in the far left lane of four lanes going in our direction.  She came up behind a slower car and started to move to the lane on her right.  Without looking she moved towards the right but a truck/SUV was beside her and she swerved back to the left.  We were traveling at probably around 90 miles per hour.  She tried again - this time she tried to accelerate into the gap in front of the truck but didn't make it.

She clipped the corner of the truck and they both went  out of control right in front of us - we were perhaps three car lengths behind and to the left of the collision.

I slammed on the brakes but was mindful of the cars behind and beside me.  It literally happened in slow motion - I drive around the debris that was flying and watched where the car and truck were careening.  When they finally came to a stop a number of cars pulled over to see what the condition of the people were in the car and truck.  Fortunately all passengers and drivers were ok - other han being scared beyond belief.  The truck actually had a young child in it but she was ok.

Once we saw that things were in hand we kept on going - we were determined to get to Tallahassee before Riley went to bed.  As it turned out we got there later than we planned because of a flipped semi-trailer as we were entering Tallahassee but fortunately Riley was still up.

What can I say about Riley - she is smart, she is beautiful, she is growing, she is curious, she is talkative. 

I haven't seen her in person for a year - I am amazed that she has all her teeth and that she speaks so well.

When we drove up she was standing at the door and all we could see was her eyes peeking through the window - and when we cam into the house greeted us with a cheery hi!  She is incredible.

She has taken to Babi very well - almost won't leave her alone - and is a bit cool to Zaida - but that doesn't stop us from talking and enjoying things together.

She is so ready for preschool and interaction with other children - she will do so well in those circumstances.

Saturday, August 04, 2012

Fenway Park and Uno Pizza

I am attending the Association for Teacher Educators Summer Conference in Boston now.  As part of the registration package I was able to buy two tickets to last night's Red Sox game again the Minnesota Twins.

The day was hot yesterday and very humid.  We walked the half mile to the T stop at Central square.  That walk, as short as it was, induced heat and sweat.  Anyone that knows me knows that under most circumstances I don't tolerate sweat very well!

We got onto the T and made our way to the Park Station where we could get the D Red Line to Fenway.  Park is the intersection of the Green Line and the Red Line.  It is a massive station as the Red LIne has a number of options - B, C, D, E.  The D line is the train that stops at Fenway.

The subway stations in Boston are famous for not having air in the them - or at least not having much circulation.  At the best of time the air is heavy, warm and stagnant.  Thousands of Boston regalia bedecked people were in the Park Station waiting for the D train.

Stale, hot stagnant air and thousands of people crowded around the track made for heat, humidity, smells, sweat and massive discomfort.

But wait, it gets better!!!

Announcements were being made that are never intelligible to me.  But suddenly the mass of people started moving to a different track.  Turns out there was a power outage or disruption and the D trains were now out of service.  So we all moved over to another track where we could take any train but the E train and get off at Kenmore station and walk to Fenway.

Needless to say we were cheek by jowl waiting in the crowd. The trains were moving slowly on the tracks but had been backed up so there was one train after another.  By this time I was beyond "perspiring"  I was out and out sweating - and so was everyone else around me.

The train cars were being packed with humans intent on their bread and circus - sardines have luxurious space compared to these train cars.

None of the trains stopped in front of us so as each train came to a stop the crowd shifted towards the closes door.  It is easy to see how a small person could lose their footing and be trampled to death.

Finally we got on a train and stationed ourselves against two seats occupied by a young man and a young woman.  I feel sorry for them because they had all of this mass of humanity precariously hanging over them.

As the train stopped and started I realized I could move my feet - I was not planted well and when I ntried to get a more stable footing there was no place to go - my feet were trapped between everyone else's feet.  I had to hold on for dear life with my hands as the train stopped and started.

By this time I was no longer sweating - the fluids were just pouring out of my body.

We finally made it to the station and of course the exit from the train was on the left side and we were facing the right side door near the driver which meant we needed to move back through the car to get out.  Not every one as getting out so some assertive behaviour was called for.

Finally we were on the street and headed to Fenway.

Fenway is an old beautiful baseball park - open air and reeking with history.  Unfortunately air conditioning doesn't really work in an old stadium.  So as we walked around from grandstand 130 to grandstand 8, through the concession areas, etc. breathing and maintaining any kind of cool were difficult - sweating continued.

We found grandstand 8 and began climbing the steps up, up, up to where our seats were located.  We were under an overhang - good in case t started raining - not so good if you wanted to breath - the air did not circulate - at all - period - but the humidity did accumulate.  After a while I yearned for the cool of the packed train ride - it was impossible under that overhang!!!

We found ourselves sitting beside some a family.  The father was sitting next to me.  He was wearing shorts and had his wallet or something in the lower pocket in his shorts.  He was a bit bigger than me - the seats were a lot smaller than me - and his wallet or whatever it was extended a good 6 inches into my seat area - poking into my thigh - he was oblivious.  Whatever it was in there had sharp edges.

Then the game started and I looked up to see the field and saw......... a pole.  We were in the right field grandstand and I had a clear view of all of the fielders.  I could see the short stop, second and third baseman and the pitcher - and that was it.  There was no way I could see first base or home plate.

So a recap - I couldn't breath, I was drowning from the humidity which may not have been so bad because I was becoming dehydrated from all the sweating I was doing and I had a clear view of the outfield.

All of this for a mere $60 a seat for seats we found out were face valued at $30

We left after the fifth inning.  Which was unfortunate because we really came to sing Sweet Carolyn during the 7th inning stretch.

We made our way out of the Park and went to Uno Chicago Pizza.  In air conditioning and in front of a 50 inch High Def tv we ate our dinner and watched the end of the game.

Now I just need to understand why people go to these games and subject themselves to all of this?????

Thursday, August 02, 2012

What's missing?

When I was in China the first time i started to get unsettled after the first few weeks.  Couldn't figure out what it was - we talked about the strange surroundings, but that didn't seem to be the problem, we talked about the work but that was pretty much the same as the work we did at home.  We talked about the food and finally realized we hadn't eaten bread the whole time we had been in china.

That was the feeling today as we made our approach to Boston - it was so incredibly green.

Phoenix is desert and I hadn't realized how brown it was.  It s beautiful in its own way and I love the feeling of the desert but it is almost monochromatic - shades of brown.

Phoenix and Boston are different in other ways - for me the major difference is the use of space - I like wide open places - and Boston is not that in any way - houses and buildings seem to be on top of each other. Phoenix on the other hand is so spread out - at least in Scottsdale - that it is hard to see the city with all of the empty space around.

Wednesday, August 01, 2012


We're in and basically settled in our new place in Scottsdale.  I am enjoying the area.

I seem to enjoy the desert.  A few years ago we spent some time in Joshua Tree National Park just outside of 29 Palms California and I fell in love with the desert

The area around our condo is populated but the way the developments are built it actually looks very rural - very desert.  The spaces are open and there is a lot of sky - yet all around us are mountains

We are just over a kilometre from a little shopping mall with a Frye's (a supermarket), some restaurants, our bank and a Starbucks.  In the winter it will be a nice walk - right now it is like walking on the surface of the sun. 

There is a clubhouse on site here - they call it the great room - with a theatre, a gym and a large pool with a larger deck surrounding it.  It is quite comfortable and they always have ice water, iced tea and coffee available = as well as popcorn

Tomorrow we move out and into a hotel near the airport and then on Thursday we're on to Boston

Monday, July 30, 2012

Home (?) At Last

Last night we slept for the first time in our new Scottsdale home.  The last couple of posts have described a bit about our efforts at outfitting this place but I don't think I have told the whole story here.

A few years ago we bought a vacation home in Belize.  We were in on the ground floor of a new development being done by a friend.  We were amongst the first to give them the go ahead to build our place.  We made adjustments, reconfigured some of the house design and eventually our casita was finished - number 14 in Caribbean Blue.  You can see the progress of building here .

Unfortunately we have been waiting for too long for the development to progress and to become anywhere close to operational.  We decided to give up on that property and look for something a bit more reliable and closer to home.

Our friends Sheldon and Tannis Mindell had been talking about buying a vacation home too so we teamed up and decided to buy together.  Three years of looking and debating and discussing. And finally early this year the right place came available at the right price and we bought it.

Arrangements were made to have renovations and upgrading before we came to Scottsdale.  We held back on a number of things like the final painting until we got here to ensure that the colours were right, etc.

Last Sunday we all arrived and spent the week buying everything necessary to make this place into our home away from home - beds, couches, chairs, tables, etc.

Although all of the renovations aren't quite complete Helene and I moved in on Sunday and spent the night here for the first time.

We are looking forward to many nights here - holiday, getaway or just plain living nights

Tuesday, July 24, 2012


I wish I had more to say about the day but I drove, the women shopped, I waited, I drove the women shopped, I waited and on and on.

But it was a productive day - we have a lot of the furnishings for the condo purchased and organized for delivery.  Now we just have to wait for the last renovations, painting and repairs to be done.  Helene and I are hoping to move in on Sunday night.

Tomorrow is washer and dryer, television and side tables day - another day in paradise!!

Monday, July 23, 2012

I'm not a shopper

We shopped for furniture today for the condo in Scottsdale.  We seemed to drive back and forth between Scottsdale and Tempe quite a few times.  But in the end we were successful and the mattresses, bedstands and tiles were found and ordered.

Banking was a different story.  It seems American banks are very provincial and very mistrusting. We still can't clearly understand how long it will take for one of our cheques to clear in order for us to get the money we deposit.  We spent some time with one of the bank personnel and still don't really have many answers.

The simple issue is that we want to have access to out money as soon as we deposit it - or at least know when we will have access.  The answer we get is that they will allow us to access the money when the cheque has cleared the Canadian bank and our bank says that the time delay depends on the Canadian bank - which could take up to 6 weeks - absolute nonsense.  We have an appointment tomorrow to see if we can't straighten this out.

I am enjoying the environment here - it feels like the prairies - wide streets, a lot of sky, etc. but phoenix is surrounded by desert and mountains - it is quite spectacular.

The heat is another story - we spent a lot of time in 100 plus degree weather - but i seem to be able to tolerate it quite well - the cliche is that it is a dry heat - and that seems to be quite tolerable - instead of washing over me in a torrent of humidity it more or less envelops me in a warm blanket - sometimes it is too warm but  not that bad at all

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Getting to Phoenix

Mark, Reesa and Hunter drove us to the airport this morning.  We were initially booked on a 6 a.m. flight but we changed that to the 10:30 flight - San Diego to L.A. then to Phoenix.

It was great to spend time with Mark and his family - my new grandson Hunter is a happy, beautiful child - I have never seen so many smiles from a baby.  It especially delighted me when he would look at me and smile.

Today is the beginning of our Phoenix adventure.  A few years ago we agreed with good friends (Tannis and Sheldon Mindell) that we would buy something is a warm place for us to escape to in the winter.  Tannis is tenacious and monitored the mls listings in a variety of locations - we finally found something in the right location and at the right price in Scottsdale.

We bought it a few months and have had Jason - a contractor - working on getting it into livable shape.  He is just about done - the only remaining larger job is to finish painting the inside.

Our job is to furnish it,  We'll be here for a week with the Mindells and hopefully by then it will be ready to move into.  Next Sunday night we're moving in no matter what!

Its been a long day and tomorrow will be consumed with shopping

Friday, July 20, 2012

Senselessness and love

I woke up this morning to the news of the shooting in Colorado - thoughts of Columbine came to me but this time it was a bit more personal.  This shooting wasn't in a school but in a public theatre - anyone could have been in that theatre. 

A good friend of mine, Teresa Yohon, has often been one of my research partners and is a co-writer on a number of articles, and her husband and son live in Fort Collins, Colorado.  They also own a condo in Denver - Teresa often works in Denver.  My thoughts immediately turned to them.  I texted Teresa and received a text back saying that her family was ok but she knew that quite a number of people she worked with had direct or indirect involvement with this tragedy.

Senseless, stupid, insane - why are there guns and ammunition so easily available?  How and why can people be so desperate that they need to inflict this kind of pain on so many people?  It is something I will never understand.

But I am here with my grandson and his mother and father (my son Mark) and I  look at all of them and hope that the love they have received is enough for them to resist this kind of retaliation against life.

I am heart sick for the people who were killed and injured and I grieve with their families and friends - senseless and so unexpected.

But I also have the parents and family and friends of the perpetrator in mind - how they must feel - going back over every bit of interaction with this man trying to figure out what their role was in this tragedy.  I can't help but think that they did their best but that it just wasn't enough.  I don't know how I would be able to cope

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Another day in Paradise

This is our second full day in San Diego and really our first 'holiday' day. Despite waking up early we still took our time. We walked to the Lowe's resort to have starbucks coffee on their deck overlooking the bay. It was clear and hot and truly another day in paradise.

Yesterday I was taken with describing my growing relationship with Hunter. In fact another thing happened that was noteworthy. Since Mark has been at California Western School of Law I have been dealing with a woman in the business office who has helped immeasurably in figuring out how to get Mark's tuition paid. Deb Roper is her name and she made life an awful lot easier for me. So yesterday we bought flowers and we went down to the school to pay the last of Mark's tuition and to meet and thank Ms. Roper. She was delightful and delighted that we thought enough of her to bring the flowers.

Lunch was downtown at the Burger Lounge with Reesa and Hunter – I walked with Hunter to occupy him for some of the time – we took turns so he wouldn't be bored and we could eat. He s quite the flirt – at one point he made eyes at a young woman who was working hard trying to get her store ready for opening. The next thing I knew we were inside the store and she was oohing and ahhing over him.

The afternoon passed by and we ended up going for dinner and then wandering Orange street looking for ice cream.