Memorials and Memory

I walked the National Mall on a recent Saturday morning with a friend. We wanted to be ahead of the crowds and the heat, and we beat the crowds  – but not the heat. There are few names that I would recognize on the Vietnam War Memorial. It does not really matter; the space is…

Birthday Concert – James Taylor and Bonnie Raitt

My daughters and a dear friend of mine engineered an amazing birthday gift this year. Paige (my friend) and I were both selected for a National Endowment for the Humanities Teacher Institute in West Virginia, and we happened to be finished for the day at noon on the Friday of the concert. The Institute was…

Two Museums

We visited the National Gallery in Washington, DC and the Washington County Museum of Fine Arts in Hagerstown, MD in one weekend. I love American art and artists, and even though the gentleman at the desk of the National Gallery really was steering us toward the Dutch Old Masters and the Renaissance painters, I made…

Antietam

The reality of Antietam was hard to grasp. The magnitude of the battle and the ferocity of fighting balanced with the peace of the place now has some cognitive dissonance for me. The peace of Antietam creek, the cornfields, the quiet – all of these make for a contemplative space now. During this decisive battle…

About the Place Names Around Here

I am attending a National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Institute for Teachers for the next three weeks. We are in Shepherdstown, WV – and it is a beautiful old town and a lovely old university (Shepherd University). The thing that initially is interesting to me is the power of the place name. Surrounding locations…

Point Reyes Lighthouse

Yesterday was a spectacular day. Slightly cooler than Sunday but clear and sunny. We went to the end of the world, the Point Reyes Lighthouse. To get to it you climb down a long staircase that you must eventually walk up. There were no whales when we were there, but apparently the weekend brought sightings…

Walk to the Beach

So yesterday we took a moderate trail to the beach. It is a well established trail and it is clear that people are making certain that it is passable (cutting downed trees for example). It is a beautiful trail, with switchbacks to make the descent to the beach something that is manageable for a couple…

Tides + Mountains

We are traveling for break, a different kind of brain break than the February recess as we are visiting family and determined to explore in a way that we did not explore the beach in Mexico. The weather is lovely in Northern California compared to Chicago in April. Flowers (rhododendron, hydrangea, tulips, poppies) are blooming…

When the theatre makes me cry

My children know that I am a sucker for a sad movie or television show. I cry when watching The West Wing, I cannot watch a film about a dog. Or a horse. Or a dog or horse equivalent. I cry. I cry EVERY TIME I see The Iron Giant. But theatre does not make…

My new metaphor for not giving up: Carrowkeel

On our way to Sligo, we made a side trip to Carrowkeel, a megalithic passage tomb cemetery on a hilltop. Here is the cool stuff you might want to know about Carrowkeel. But that is not what I want to write about. I want to write about not giving up. At every obstacle there was…

Driving on the left side of the road

Sunday in Dublin is quiet – so we decided to chance the line at the Trinity College library and their illuminated manuscript, the Book of Kells. Now it’s a pretty cool thing, I will say, and I’m a big fan of illuminated manuscripts in general. The line was a bit daunting. But as it was…

Dublin, our first day in Ireland

As flights go, ours technically was flawless. Off on time, arrived early, lovely weather. We made some young woman’s day when she discovered that the two people on either side of her (us) were happy to take the center seat. We did have the screamiest child ever in the seat right in front of me….