Als ich wisse das Morgen der Erde enden wuerde, immernoch wurd ich mein Apfelbaum pflanzen.

Even if I knew the world would perish tomorrow, I would still plant my apple tree. - Martin Luther

"Factory work's easier on the back, and I don't mind it, understand, but a man becomes what he does. Got to watch that. That's why I keep at farmin' although the crops haven't ever throve. It's the doin' that's important." Madison Wheeler in Blue Highways by William Least Heat Moon

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Wait, you want your kids to go back to school?

Every year around this time we become inundated with back to school madness.  Parents start to write about how long the summer has become, and how glad they are that there are only a few weeks remaining until life is back to normal.  School supplies and sales are pervasive in our stores.  The schools send out Welcome Back letters and get their websites in order to get us all geared up for the start of a new year.  Teachers even often get in on the game and post about the new supplies they've bought, the grants they've written or the work their doing leading up to the first PD days and school opening.  Hey Folks.  I have some news for you.  It's JULY!

I know I'm in a priviledged position to appreciate summer.   During my recent trip without my family, upon deciding if it would be a one or two martini night, I was told to enjoy myself because I was on vacation.  My response?  I've been on vacation since June 14th and I'll continue to be off for almost another month.  Summer = vacation.  Summer is a great chance to slow down, to reconnect with friends, to travel, and to tackle those projects that are impossible to handle during the frenetic school year.  It's also a good chance to do long range prep work for the upcoming school year, and to read, read, read, read.

But the best part of summer?  Being with my kids.  This has been the most laid back summer we've had for several years.  We've started a few new traditions:

We added language aquisition to our summer school program.
French for the girl and Spanish for the boy.

Evening movie watching in our redesigned basement - among others...
Les Miserables, Season 1 and 2 of Modern Family, Airplane.

Not a big fan of running, but with these shoes and having the kids as occasional running partners make it better.

Coffee on the deck with the girl - what a way to start the day.

How about you?  Are you eager to put your munchkins on the bus again or are you holding on to the last few weeks together?  I hope it's the later and not the former - these times won't last forever.

Oregon Coast

Even though we got rained on most of the week, we still really enjoyed the Oregon Coast.  We started with a drive up the coast, and stopped at several overlooks and small beaches.  The Oregon Coast is unique in being all public space.  This combined with the rugged rocks make for some throughly enjoyable wild beaches.

We camped at a central location (Sunset Bay State Park) and did day trips. We've found that when hauling the pop-up camper it is often easier to set up once and then make longer day drives than it is to have to set up camp multiple times. Sunset Bay was a lovely campground with probably the nicest facilities of the entire trip.  However, the weather was terrible - we were basically inside a big cloud for the week.  

One of our favorite days was our trip to Sea Lion Caves and the Oregon Coast Aquarium.  Sea Lion Caves is a natural sea cave where you can see wild seals and sea lions up close.  They are noisy!  At the aquarium we learned a lot about Western Coastal waters - we especially enjoyed the otters.  Watching them roll and play was a highlight of the day.

Just a short drive away from Sunset Bay was Shore Acres State Park and Shell Cove (site of a former mansion).  I took a drive there by myself one drizzly afternoon and enjoyed spending a lot of time looking at all of the beautiful and unusual flowers and plants.

The view from Shell Cove was also amazing, and it was a good place to watch for whales.  We saw quite a few on our trip - all of them very close to the shore.  They're hard to get a picture of though!

That little spurt of water is the whale.

We spent part of a day at Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area.  The kids had a great time sliding and rolling on the dunes.  We enjoyed learning how the dunes change and progress.

Of course, we had to stop and see Haystack Rock at Cannon Beach - I don't think you're allowed to visit the Oregon Coast and not go there.

Our final side trip was Fort Clatsop - Lewis and Clark's winter fort before they returned to St. Louis.  We were especially excited about this stop because we had promised to collect information and photos for Lily's history teacher.  We travel because it creates great bonding between us and because we enjoy seeing new things and being on the road.  However, one of the best reasons to travel is because we learn about so much first hand.  I don't think that my kids will ever find U.S. History to be boring and hard to remember because they've been to so many important spots.

We look at summer as a time to enrich their brains and broaden their horizons.   It's our favorite semester.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Getting my Cultural Fill for the Year

I love living in the country, and I love my simple life full of the sometimes mundane, but highly important minutia that make up my daily grind.  However, I also love taking some time apart and heading to places outside of my norm.  I spent the last few days in NYC soaking up the city, enhancing my brain with art, watching high brow films, and reveling in fantastic food and a few good martinis.  So thankful for this time to feed the cultural part of my soul.  


 - Visited The Cloisters - beauty and religion from so long ago.  

My gracious hosts 

Stained glass window at The Cloisters

Courtyard Garden at The Cloisters

Chapel with Crucifix and Fresco at The Cloisters
 -  Spent the day enjoying sand and surf at Sandy Hook National Seashore and riding the Seastreak Ferry.
Return Trip on the Ferry

 - Learned a lot more about fashion.


 - Walked the High Line and visited the new Whitney Museum of American Art.

Never get tired of viewing O'Keefe

 - Saw several thought provoking films with even better conversation about the cinematography and content after viewing:  Far From the Madding Crowd, The Hundered Foot Journey, Clouds of Sils Maria.

 - Be still my beating heart - the food!  Everything bagels with lox and cream cheese.  Tuna Tartar, Beet Salad with Chevre and Denver Sole in butter sauce from Rue 57.  Paella, Ceviche, and Watermelon Salad with Feta from The Smith.  The perfect Bloody Mary and Cheese Scone with poached egg, smoked trout and hollandaise from Annabel.  Raw Blue Point Oysters on the Half Shell, Stella on draft and Escargot from A.O.C.

Bruch at Annabel

Perfect company.  Perfect food.   Perfect entertainment.  Perfect weekend.

Photo Credit:  Justin Shaulis

Sunday, July 19, 2015


After a stressful drive (we thought we were leaking brake fluid, and it was the 4th of July so nothing was open), we made it to the Northern California coast in the late afternoon.  We quickly set up the camper at one of our favorite sites from the trip in Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park.  We had a beautiful, roomy corner site with no nearby neighbors, and wonderful places for the kids to explore.  The Stellar's Jays were really theives at this park and food couldn't be let unguarded for even a second.  Once we were set we drove the short distance into Crescent City and went to the beach.  We love the mountains, but there is something about the coast that just fills all four of us with unspeakable joy.  The North West beaches are different - colder, rougher and rockier,but still just as enjoyable.  

 We had a great late afternoon and evening on the beach, and enjoyed fireworks right on the beach.  What an amazing 4th of July!

The next morning we set out to explore the giant Redwoods.  No picture really gives the true size of these behemoths.  They were breathtaking and awe inspiring.  It's amazing to think that if some long range thinking conservationists hadn't protected these areas there would be none for us to enjoy.  The logging business would have taken them all.

The next day, after having our car checked out, we returned to the beach.  The water was freezing, but three of us didn't seem to mind the frigid temps.  The sun was short lived though, so we spent most of our morning tide pooling - an experience we aren't able to do at our Southern East Coast beach.  We really enjoyed the sea stars and anemones.  There were some great sea caves to explore, and wonderful smooth rocks to find.

The sun came out in the afternoon, so we took a creek walking hike up through Fern Canyon.  If fairies live anywhere it's here.  Magical.  We then spent the afternoon on another beach, and had some of the best weather we had the whole time we were on the West Coast.  In fact, we stayed so late that the gates to exit the parking lot were locked when we went to leave.  We finally got in touch with a park ranger who came and opened the gates for us.  Fortunately, she was very nice and understanding because it turned out that the gates weren't actually locked they were just closed.  Somehow we had missed the note that was placed on our windsheild about how to get out.  This resulted in one of the funnier stories of our trip.

If you're heading to the West Coast add Redwoods to your itinerary.  It's a place not to be missed.