Since participating this past March in the Slice of Life Challenge hosted by TwoWritingTeachers, I have continued to write daily, or pretty close to it. I think I have only missed writing a handful of days. This has been despite a busy schedule of taking graduate courses, attending three sports for two boys (Varsity Tennis, Varsity Track, and Summer Traveling Soccer League that starts in April), starting yard work, running garden club, leading writer’s circle, and more. I am busy but am sure to take the time to write. It is important to me. I have found the reflection to be healthy, assisting me in processing life events.
Although continuing to write daily is key to my improvement as a blogger, sometimes, my educational posts do not fall on Tuesdays anymore. For example, this past week I wrote about summer enrichment opportunities in mathematics for students, a poem about garden club ending, a student’s gift, the music of memorial day, and a photo journal of the island of Kauai. All of these were or are slices of my life, past and present. Admittedly, some posts are more interesting that others, both to read and to write. Still, the feedback I have received helps me to push forward, putting more and more ideas into words, and words on the page.
The school year comes to a close here this week for my boys and just as it winds down for them, another graduate course has started for me. It will be fast and furious, three credits over five weeks, with a digital media project due on July 5th. Besides the class, there will be other topics to slice about as both my boys will be pursuing some work in math, one will attend summer camp for Badger Boys State, colleges will be visited, and, jobs will be done, both at home and at places of employment. The summer will end just as fast as it starts. I hope to keep slicing through it all.
Yesterday I drove I -35, otherwise known as The Great River Road that runs parallel to the Mighty Mississippi and divides the state borders of Minnesota and Iowa with Wisconsin. There was a time in my life that I thought I would never see Bald Eagles or even Great Blue Herons other than the one that resided on a pond near my college campus. The Mississippi and surrounding bluffs are awash with wildlife this spring. It is a fitting Earth Day Post to write how much I reveled in the beautiful surrounds near my home yesterday. Having completed a writing challenge in March, I saw many clever ways to catalog observations rather than writing a narrative. So, here we go:
On A Sunny Spring Day on the way to Iowa I saw:
Ten Trains Rolling
Nine Boats Rowing
Eight Cranes Standing
Seven Seagulls Gliding
Six Mallards Quacking
Five Barges Moving
Four Motorcycles Speeding
Three Great Blue Herons Wading
Two Eagles Soaring
One Turkey Vulture Perching
One thing I have realized as I have aged is that I have a creative soul. My past should have included more art history and art classes in high school and even at the college I attended as a young nursing student, which boasts one of the best fine art schools in the country!
Shortly before it was decided that I would travel to The Netherlands last September, I began reading The Girl with the Pearl Earring by Tracey Chevalier. This story, fictional of course, is based on a famous painting by the Dutch Master Johannes Vermeer. I devoured the book. So you can imagine my excitement when I found that Vermeer’s masterpiece is housed in the Mauritshuis Museum in The Hague, the exact city where we would be staying for five nights.
Den Haag, The Nederlands, or The Hague in Holland, which more Americans might call it, could be an art lover’s destination! The Hague is known as the International City of Peace and Justice. There are a multitude of museums curated with every taste in mind. Picasso and Rembrandt pieces are also found at the Maruitshuis Museum. Escher, a Dutch graphic artist famous for his tessellation’s has his own museum where many recognizable pieces can be found. While Van Gogh, and even a Frank Lloyd Wright piece, were noted at the Gemeente Museum, their current focus was on Mondrian & De Stijl. Never having seen so many masterpieces at once, I was mesmerized. But, nothing captured my anticipation than the possibility of seeing Vermeer’s Girl with a Pearl Earring (TedEd video on this artwork) at the Mauritshuis. It didn’t disappoint. Vermeer’s technique using of light to highlight the mysterious girl in the painting is captivating. And then, there is the nearly 400 year mystery of who the girl in the painting represented. Was she a real person?
My fascination with Vermeer didn’t end after seeing the painting. On we went, the following day, to the City of Delft, where Vermeer lived and worked. He is one of the city’s most prominent historical figures. Easily reached by a 30 minute inter-city bus ride, Delft is a quaint mix of centuries old buildings, new shops, canals, and bistros. Vermeer lies buried in Oude Kerk or the Old Church in the city of Delft. It was built in 1246. The stained glass was replaced around WWII but is still beautiful as the windows surround a wooden ceiling. On the floor, you will see Vermeer’s final resting place marked with an embossed stone, amongst other grave markers.Unfortunately, you can walk on the grave markers, as they are mostly flat, being part of the floor itself. Some of them are very worn. I did not feel comfortable taking a photo of his grave, but think the beauty of the ceiling is captured in the photo below.
Despite our trip being six months ago, I remain fascinated with Vermeer and actually, all things Dutch. There is much to see in The Netherlands and I hope to be able to go back one day. In the meantime, I provided myself with my own art history lesson to feed my creative soul.
The cycle of airport rudeness; another way of saying what comes around goes around!
Recently, two of my family members had to take multiple flights across the country to visit a sick relative and investigate a prospective university for attending graduate school. Due to the locations of the destinations, multiple flights were involved. Some of the flights were routed through large airport hubs and some through little regional towns serviced by prop planes. This provided ample opportunity to people watch in a variety of places. Of course, stories ensued. Rudeness towards the airline gate staff by the travelers, fueled by a large dose of me-first-ness, impatience, and lack of tolerance for waiting ones’ turn and other such offensive behaviors were noted.
The airline gate staff (I don’t know what else to call them) was also witnessed to be rude without probable cause to travelers patiently waiting to be noticed so they could address their question clearly and politely when it was their turn to have some attention. When the attention came, it was in the form of being yelled at to “stay in place” or “wait your turn.” (Confusing, because it was, in fact, their turn.)
Luckily, none of the experiences were directly related to my travelers, who experienced some very kind airline gate staff and easy airport communications.
However, hearing these tales gave way to the following conundrum: which comes first, the rudeness of the traveler or the rudeness of the airline staff? One is fed seamlessly by the other, it appears, no matter where you go.
When traveling, I love to take photos. If we are gone a week, it is likely I’ll come home with over 1,000 photos on my chip. The photos, in helping to recall far off places where seeking out plants indigenous to the area, unusual architecture, or beautiful scenery can easily assist in transporting you back to the experiences of your visit. Come, come travel with me. Maybe my photos will remind you of a place you’ve been or inspire you to journey to somewhere new.
Before finishing this post, I ammended my title to read that it be the first travel photo journal on this blog. I plan to do this again. The photos bring back happy memories of blue skies, sunny days, and adventures. After yesterday’s somewhat serious post, which I would ask that you read if you have time, the beauty of our world adds some serenity to my day. Where do you like go on your travels?