Monday, 30 August 2010

Croyde and Saunton Circular Walk

Well, who would've believed it? Its a Bank Holiday and the sun actually shone! After baking in the garden for a while I thought it was about time we took the dog for a nice long walk. There was much protesting, but I ignored it. We drove to Croyde and parked in the car park in the village and followed a route I'd printed from the internet. It takes you over the hills from Croyde to Saunton then back round the coast, across Croyde beach and back to the village right next to Billy Budds, one of the more popular pubs. Ideal.

The first part of the walk is uphill. Its very steep and we were all puffed out long before we reached the top (except the dog of course). However, there are fantastic views of Croyde Bay once you get there. A walk through a field of horses, two empty fields and into a field of cows offers more fantastic views, this time, of Saunton Sands.

Today you could see as far as the peaks of Dartmoor (according to my husband). Then its back downhill to the coast path, which is not along the busy road with no pavements as I fist imagined, but on a hedged path just above it.
The walk is 3.5 miles long and there are lots of benches along the way to stop, rest, enjoy the views and eat cookies on! And then at the end there is that lovely pub. We stopped for a drink then came home for fish and chips. Why do school holidays have to end?

Sunday, 29 August 2010

Torrington Cavaliers Bonfire Event

Last night was the 40th Anniversary of the Great Torrington Cavaliers (adjective as it applies to the town, not the Cavaliers). Every two or three years they host a charity event involving a huge bonfire. They have constructed many things on Torrington Common: a Viking Longship, the Houses of Parliament, HMS Victory. 15,000 people came to watch the last bonfire.

As we hadn't been before, and we'd seen the replica of Torrington's Medieval castle under construction in January (see earlier post) we thought we'd go and watch it burn. It was quite spectacular. And I can recommend the event to anyone with patience and children who also know how to wait. Unfortunately mine don't seem to because they got bored, whined and annoyed each other.

We arrived at 6.30 and already there were loads of people who had picked all the good spots. Nevertheless, we found somewhere to spread the picnic blanket, opened the beer and cookies, and I thought, 'This is great, very civilised.' Unfortunetly the minute the events started all the people in front of us found it necessary to stand up and lots of people who had been behind us piled in front too. So when we did stand up none of my children could see very much at all. If everyone had remained seated we'd all have had a much better view. The events were a comedy sketch from the Plough Theatre group, a battle re-enactment by the Torrington Cavaliers, and archers shooting burning arrows at the castle. Oh and before that we had to sit through a boring talk from a man trying to sell his book about the Cavalier's bonfires of the past.

The fireworks, when they eventually started, were some of the best I've ever seen. Timed to precision with an appropriate piece of classical music, symmetrical and co-ordinated, they went off as the castle was set fully alight. Then the castle was left to burn, and there were more fireworks again at the end. It was great, and I'd have loved to stay longer to watch the castle burn, but the children decided they needed to loo and were too tired to hang around any more. Here's a tip for someone going next time though - there is a better view of the bonfire from back by the loos. One that doesn't involve looking at the hundreds of people all squashed round you holding up their mobile phones and cameras.

Car parking was free in local fields. That was good. Getting out was a nightmare. Cars kept driving up the lane at pedestrians despite being told to leave by the lower entrance. There was a ten minute queue to get out for no apparent reason, and a sign pointing Barnstaple at a fork in the road. We took the wrong fork, along with several people behind and in front of us, and ended up in East-the-Water via Gamaton.
Fireworks: 10/10
Organisation: 2/10

Saturday, 28 August 2010

Lee Bay and Sandy Cove

Yesterday there was sunshine! Hooray! We'd almost forgotten what it looked liked. So out we went, here to Lee Bay. Lee is a tiny village on the coast between Ilfracombe and Woolacombe. Its narrow roads can be quite a challenge for cars, but its all so pretty its worth it. We parked in the pub car park and walked down to the beach. The tide was out but the girls weren't much interested in the rock pools so we walked along the path in the photo above and through the gap in the rocks at the end. Here there is another path carved into the rocks which will lead you, when the tide is out, to Sandy Cove, shown below.

Sandy Cove is much prettier and seems to be a well kept secret because there was hardly anyone there. A few groups of people sat around, some very brave people were swimming, and some had kayaks in the water. The name Sandy Cove is a bit misleading because it is actually a shingle beach, but this doesn't stop it being lovely. It was so peaceful, just sitting in the sunshine listening to the wave lap against the shore I could have laid down and gone to sleep.

Sadly, once the children had explored and the dog had been forcably taught that paddling in the water would not actually cause her any harm, we had to leave. The lure of a drink back at the pub was too great. We decided to try the other path out of the cove rather than go back the way we came. This involved climbing up lots AND LOTS of very steep steps in the side of the cliff. The views from the top are fantastic, once you've recovered your breath enough to appreciate them. Then there is a lovely walk back through the fields and the village to enjoy before finally being able to sip a nice cold beer in a sunny pub garden. What a perfect day.

Wednesday, 25 August 2010

Pictures of the Day, August 19-24, 2010

I've been putting these up on flickr (and a few on Facebook), but here are my favorite pictures I've taken the last few days:

August 19th: An office building near where I teach a class in San Jose. It was raining, so I had to take the picture from my car (Because of traffic, I either get to class around an hour early or about 5 minutes late... I prefer early, so I just hang out in my car and wait till 5, like some kinda creep).

August 20th: A praying lady at a church in Ca�as, in Guanacaste. I like this picture a lot. I had to go to Ca�as with Lucy and Oskar to do some placement test interviews, but we got there early and had some time to kill, so we decided to check out the church.

August 21st: Angela made this funny dinner/breakfast for me, consisting of rice and beans, a salad, and a little egg chicken figurine. She called "arroz con pollito." I love my wife!

August 22nd: Today was a big day for my "to-do inside" list. Mostly, it involved hanging stuff with the drill, including some smoke alarms.

August 23rd: Today was a day for the outside "to-do" list, including moving lots of rocks and re-doing a border around the house sidewalks.

August 24th: A very, very small little frog that Angela found on our back patio. I've included a few pictures with it next to a peanut, a universal reference and comparative measurement for "something small."
Wow, looking at this, it doesn't look real. It is! It's just a ridiculously small frog!

So, that's it for now. Thanks for reading, and have a great day!

Shades Of September

Have you ever looked at a recent photograph of yourself and thought "Wow, time is really piling up"? You don't notice the changes day-to-day, but then a moment arrives when it is the first thing you see. You can't quite put your finger on the details of what is different, but you know it is there.
When I look at these photos of Quiambog Cove, autumn is the first thing I see. There is no fall foliage or long shadows to suggest a later date, but I can see it nonetheless. While it may have been early August with temperatures near 90, the sun was slightly lower, the grass was a different green, and the air didn't smell the same. The landscape wasn't yet dying, but it was no longer growing. 
The past few days have brought cooler temperatures with high winds to Long Island Sound. It has been an early taste of fall without the subtleties in the pictures above. Cold mornings, northeast winds, and a stormfront lingering for 3 days,  all provide a hint of what lay ahead in the coming months.
But summer doesn't end here. Some of my best times afloat have been in the months of September and October. The humidity and fog are often gone, and so are the crowds. Places I avoid in the summer, become accesible again. The fishing is better, and the sailing is too. If given a choice between August and September, I will choose September every time.
Despite all this, there is always a part of me that hates to see August come to an end. Maybe it is some internal clock left over from my days in school. Maybe it is the Halloween items that start appearing in stores, and the advertisements warning me to gear up for winter.
But I really think it has more to do with my outlook than anything else. When September arrives, I appreciate the return of fall for what it is. Nothing more, nothing less. In the days of August however, I always waste too many hours preoccupied with the passing of time. 

Quiambog Cove: Map

Autumn Study Days - find out and have fun

Brittany Heritage Services will be offering three study days this autumn:

How to Read a Breton Church will give you all you need to understand churches and chapels around Brittany (and be able to give your friends and visitors impressive guided tours!). We'll cover basics of architecture and statuary in the morning, then go out for some practical work.

Britons in Brittany will look at some historical connections between Great Britain and Little Britain, covering culture, trade and conflict. This will provide a lot of insight into Brittany's past and reveal some surprising cross-Channel links.

Understanding Brittany will be a simple guide to the key events and issues that have led to Brittany's distinctive development, also giving a clearer perception of the region today.

The location for these study days will be Huelgoat, and there are only limited places for each one, so think of booking early (discount) for these lively and stimulating events! Details of dates and prices are on the Brittany Walks website ( or

Monday, 23 August 2010

Essex Museum Fire

 A fire earlier this month at the Connecticut River Museum in Essex resulted in significant damage to this waterfront landmark. On the evening of August 11, firefighters from three towns responded to the blaze which engulfed all three stories on the east side of the building.
Built in 1878, the building served as a warehouse for the many steamboats travelling the river. Threatened by commerial developement in the 1970's, a nonprofit group organized and created the riverside museum which exists today. Focusing on both the Connecticut River and local maritime history, it is one of the nicer regional museums I have visited.
While the fire caused significant structural damage , the museum's collection of artifacts was saved. They were forced to shut down for a period, but the museum was open to the public once again this past weekend.

Soundbounder: Mary E

Sunday, 22 August 2010

Maize Maze, Bickleigh

This is the entrance to the Amazing Maize Maze and it can be found in Bickleigh just outside of Tiverton. So it's not strictly North Devon folks, but only about half an hour in a car. It's half way been Tiverton and Exeter on the A396. Bickleigh is a tiny village centred around the bridge over the River Exe and has some lovely pubs with riverside gardens, Bickleigh Mill and a Railway Centre. Parking outside the Maize Maze is free and entrance is �4 each, but as there were five of us we got in for the discounted price of �18.

The maze is different each year and this year was in the shape of the Tivvy Bumper, an engine that travelled along the trainline that used to run next to the field. So everything inside the maze was train themed. There is no middle to find, which was a bit disappointing. What you have instead is a series of posts which you have to find, each of which holds a portion of a brass rubbing. You making a rubbing on the back of your ticket each time you find one until you have them all and they, in turn, form a wordsearch with train themed words inside. Your prize for completing this task is - wait for it - a sticker!!! Woohoo!

Along the way are boards with information about trains and the trainline, and other boards which ask questions based on said information. They offer you a choice of two answers, and direct you left or right depending on which answer you choose. This was a good idea, I thought, although it still wasn't obvious where the brass rubbing posts were even when you got the answer right. After a while my youngest one got fed up - it was a very big maze, and the older two had split up from us and gone running off on their own by then, so we gave up after finding 8 out of 9 posts. She got her sticker anyway.

We got our picnic out of the car and headed off to the picnic area. A phone call to the other two soon got them out of the maze - thank goodness for mobile phones! There is plenty to do in the picnic area: go-karts, toddlers ride-on toys (which my 13 year old enjoyed immensly), giant chess and draughts, swingball, table tennis, connect 4 and a climbing frame. We ate then played for a bit before coming home. It was nice to enjoy the sunshine.

Saturday, 21 August 2010

Unknown City Beijing

Writing about the cruises that begin in Japanese ports, I found an interesting name of a city in China: Beijing. I've never heard about it and wanted to learn more. The first information I've seen in internet was a collection of photos of a couple of travellers with the explanations under every photo. So, I knew many interesting things.

The couple visited Forbidden City, the largest palatial complex in the world. There is a Temple of Heaven built without any nail or beam inside the complex. The Emperors prayed to have good year and waited for signs of good auspices on Chinese New Year there. You can see the Emperors in the procession every year even today. Sure, those are only shows to attract visitors but it has to be interesting to see, I think.

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The next point of the itinerary of the couple was Tiananmen Gate, than they visited cooking courses for foreigners hold directly in the street. Imagin how interesting it is! I've never heard about such invention in other touristic places.

There is one of the largest and most important in the world Buddhist temples there, Lama Temple of Geluk School, where there are many treasures very important for every Buddhist; and there is a Chinese Muslims' Mosque (Niujie Mosque). I was surprized to read about it, I did not think there are even Chinese Muslims! And the building is interesting too, it comes from 996.

It's possible to visit Yuanming Yuan, ruins of the Old Summer Palace (ah, all royalities had summer and winter palaces!).

Do you like works of Franch architect Paul Andreu? Very beautiful airy buildings all over the world. There, in Beijing, you can see his Center for the Performing Arts.

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And there are Beihai Park, a royal garden, Happy Valley, an amusement park, Beijing Zoo, where there are pandas and other rare Chinese animals, 798 Space Gallery a place for contemporary arts. You can visit Beijing Planning Exhibition and walk over the relief models of the city, the world's largest steel structure -the National Stadium, and surely the Great Wall.

Wow, but will it be enough a shore visit to see all these interesting places?

I was very curious: where is this city? And from the next site I learn it's... Peking!
By the way, did you know that Peking is one of the 4 historical capitals of China? Every dinasty had own capital: Beijing, Nanjing, Chang'an and Luoyang.

And to make this more inviting for you: if you look for cruise discounts and want to embark on October 25 , it will cost you only... you will not believe... a third part from the normal price of the cabin... And Ocean view? Have you seen the oceanview cabin price???

Lesley's Nature Watch - Why everyone needs at least one Buddleih!

Seen on 1 of my 8 Buddleias in just 10 minutes yesterday: Swallowtail, Meadow Brown, a pair of Brimstones (Male pictured), Comma, Red Admiral, Gatekeeper, Small White,....these were just the butterflies. there were also many Bees of different species, a green Shield bug & so much more....... Note: Plant in sunny spot, dead head flowers when finished to promote longer flowering & prune hard in the apropriate season (BBC Gardeners World have a great website where you can find all pruning information).Most butterflies prefer the highest flowers that are sitting in direct sunshine.
Saw a Swift yesterday, the first I've seen for over a week. I think the majority have left us now & flown back down south. Of Swifts,Swallows & Martins, Swifts are the last to arrive & the first to leave.

Friday, 20 August 2010

The Verdict Is In

A moment ago Angela called me into her office to see a picture (evidently she's finished her lesson plan and has been playing with some pictures... either that, or she's been smoking something really weird). She asked me, "Is this picture dorky?" and showed me this:

I think we can knock down that crappy statue of David in Italy, because we finally found a suitable replacement.

Thursday, 19 August 2010

Hangin' with the Hornets

They're at it again, those pesky bald-faced hornets or yellow jackets, or whatever they are. Just two months ago, I wrote about them and their ability to build nests in inconvenient places. This time, the problem with it is less the proximity to people, but more the ability to effectively get rid of it in an efficient fashion. See what I mean?This nest of pests currently hangs from the lamp of a non-functional outside light. It was installed years ago, back in the day when we found those things useful. We eventually reached the point where we enjoyed the darkness more than the occasional convenience of a giant night light. That happened to coincide with the light deciding it didn't want to turn on anymore. Since we don't use the light, or that matter even think about it, we didn't notice the new residents until yesterday, when Paul happened to spot it.

This thing is about twenty feet off the ground. It appears to completely fill the space between the socket and the glass. That's one solid nest, and I'm afraid that the little apartments in this complex are totally and fully occupied. Those little neighbors must be the ones who have been visiting our table at pizza night, without a reservation, I might add. Last week, Greg found a nest about 100 yards back behind the bread oven, and I thought that it was the source of our newest visitors. Now I realize that they were a whole lot closer.

So far, they've been polite, not causing any trouble of the stinging nature. Still, I don't trust them. With the size of that hive, it's only a matter of time before someone gets a little miffed, and starts to cause problems. They didn't like me taking photos from afar, as I was. Heck, I'm not the paparazzi or anything, but they acted like I was trying to steal their secret building techniques.

This means the hive has to go, but the date and method are yet to be determined. We've learned that a can of hornet spray will reach up to twenty feet. But the idea of using a real powerful stream of water is under consideration. I'd hate to have the can falter or run out on us, mid-stream. That would be a lot of angry hornets to face.

Lesley's Nature Watch

For the last few years Brittany Walks has benefited greatly from Lesley's wide knowledge of all aspects of the natural world. She tirelessly answers all our questions about birds, butterflies and flowers, as well as illuminating our coastal walking holidays with her astute observations.
We are very grateful for all her contributions, and now Lesley has kindly agreed to post a regular nature watch series on this blog, so keep a look out for her entries in this space.

Wednesday, 18 August 2010

Picture of the Day Catch-Up, August 9-18, 2010

I realized that although I've been uploading these pictures to flickr, I've not been putting them on this blog for the last couple of days, so here they are:

August 9th: Kind of lame for a Picture of the Day, but there are lots of flowers around these days.

August 10th: This is a bug that Angela found on the side of the house, so she called me over to see it. She said that this is sometimes called "mula del diablo," or the "devil's mule," but then again, I'm pretty sure she's pointed out about three other, completely different bugs that she also said were called "mula del diablo."
In any case, it was about 6 or 7 inches long, and pretty cool looking.

August 11th: This is our "Cucho candle," which we decided to light to think about Cucho, who died almost a month ago. We still miss him. He was a great cat.

August 12th: And now for something completely different...
On Thursdays I've been going to San Jose to teach in the evenings. The first week I went there I noticed a fast food restaurant called "Don D�ner," or "Mister D�ner." As you can imagine, my curiosity was piqued... could it actually be the same delicious d�ner kebab as found in Turkish restaurants in Germany??
As it turns out, almost. It was quite tasty, but still not as good as in Germany. And probably Turkey, for that matter!
Still, very tasty... so tasty that I ate about 80% of it before I remembered to take a picture!

August 13th: Our car had a problem with its brake lights. They wouldn't turn off, no matter what we did. I had to disconnect the cable that led from the fuse box, but that was only temporary. In the end, a guy from down the road came over and was able to fix the problem. He had to dismantle about half of the car in the immediate vicinity of the steering wheel, but it worked, and he only charged us about 10 dollars. We got lucky on that one.

August 14th: This is a poster we have hanging up at work. It's for the United Nation's refugee organization. I decided to take a picture of it because of the phrase "I hope I find some water soon," which was ironic because the water went out at school that day.

August 15th: An apple cake that I made for Mother's Day (it's August 15th in Costa Rica). I got the recipe from our Belgian friend Sofie, and it turned out very tasty!

August 16th: It's been raining a lot lately, but in the last week or so it's gotten strange. It'll storm crazily for a short period, and then shape up for a while. In this case, it had rained a lot in the morning, and then it basically got clear in the afternoon.

Still, we could see part of the coast (in the horizon here, you can see the Gulf of Nicoya and the peninsula where Guanacaste is), but there were these super-puffy white clouds just sitting there, slowly moving up the hills.

August 17th: "D�nde jugar�n los ni�os?" Ha ha! This is just a swing at the school where I work. They finally replaced the wood seats, but now it looks like the chain could use a bit of attention.

August 18th: I actually read most of this on the 17th, but it kept me awake into the wee hours of the 18th, as well. It was a good book, and if you've read "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo," you're sure to like this (and to notice some pretty obvious plot similarities). Fortunately, both books are quite enjoyable and well-written.

So, that's it for now. As usual, there are some leftovers, including pictures from Mother's Day at Angela's folks'. Thanks for reading, and have a great day!

To Help You Get Through The Rest Of The Week

This is an old but good video:

Cassius - Cassius 99 1999 bY ZapMan69

It should be enough to get you safely through the rest of the week.

Hmmmm....Now How Did That Happen?

When I drove to town yesterday, I noticed a lot of the underbrush was turning yellow and brown, in various stages. As I approached the last downhill run, the large and stately maples that lend their name to that area of the county were also beginning to sport the shades of change. As I often am wont to do, I asked myself how did we get here so fast? I guess that everything is on its usual schedule, but am I? In my mind, isn't it still mid-summer? That's what August does to me: life moves in to fast forward, and when I pick up my head to notice it, several days have flown by. But it's all good, because we are still here and kicking.

In the time since I last wrote, the weather continued on a most summery path. We had temps in the eighties, lots of sunshine, occasional rain. That's my idea of summer in abundance. For some in our household, it is more than they care to deal with, particularly if the humidity is high. But for me, I know how soon the change will come, so I try to lap up as much of it as I can. There are summers up here where I rarely change out of blue jeans. But this one, I was able to wear shorts a lot of the time, making use of that fabulous Hawaii wardrobe I'd invested in. What a delight to hear happy sounds coming from the beach area, for so many days in a row. How good to be gathering the fruits of the season while enjoying the summer sky. And what a delight to have evening campfires, with at least some stars. Unfortunately, the aurora borealis never made an appearance, but we are still keeping an eye out. Overall, it's been a great summer.

But on Sunday, sometime during the night, it began to change. The northwest wind rolled in, and with it came the cooler temps. Everyone is remarking on the switch from "dog days" to "fall is in the air". The crispness brightens our cheeks, for those up early enough to feel it. The days warm to the sixties (and soon back to the seventies), but we enjoy it knowing that the clock is ticking. The wind was our companion for two and a half days, and all of those nights. It finally settled to a dull roar, reminding me of my father using that phrase when we children were way too noisy for his weary ears. Now I understand.

The coolness is a relief, of course. From what I've been hearing, it's been almost beastly hot in many places. Folks coming up from parts south are happy to have the respite, able to sleep at night, and feel comfortable during the days. But after church on Sunday morning, I heard remarks about it feeling so abruptly cold. "If it were late winter, this would feel warm," said someone. Yet there we were in our long-sleeved shirts, sweatshirts, and for some of us, windbreakers, too. It's all relative. For now, I am happy that the wind has died, (there's not even a dull roar now!) and that the sunshine is bright and definitely warming. I'm not quite ready to let it all go. The treats of late summer are still out there waiting--the late-season flowers, the tang of woodsmoke in the air while the last of the marshmallows get roasted. But for those who live with me, I'm glad that they won't have to endure any more weather that's too hot.

Lucky with the weather AGAIN!

Only a few drops of rain fell on our Plouezoc'h walk yesterday, and we are able to enjoy the lovely scenery - even the rare sight of the Dourduff estuary with some water in it (one of those half-full/half-empty attitude tests) - in perfect walking conditions. After a break at the Caf� du Port, we continued up the Bay of Morlaix with good views of the Chateau du Taureau, and then along narrow rural paths back to the bourg. Thanks to everyone who participated.

Sunday, 15 August 2010

Plouezoc'h Walk

Our next walk is on Tuesday 17th August at Plouezoc'h, north of Morlaix. This is one of our favourite routes, including a wooded estuary, the Bay of Morlaix and a cross-country return. We will make a stop at the coastal village of Dourduff - time for a coffee or a seat by the sea if the sun is shining. The route is about 8kms, Level 2 with no particular difficulties.
Start from the church in Plouezoc'h at 2.30 promptly. All welcome, 3�.

Friday, 13 August 2010

I Thought, "Well, Sure, I Guess I Could Try Pal� Again... It Can't Be THAT Bad"

A girl tried robbing stuff from Pal� (the cheap, crappy grocery store chain) today while I was waiting in line. The guard stopped her, but she got all pissed and started saying she was pregnant (maybe one DAY pregnant, since she was as skinny as my leg). Anyhow, the guard made her empty her purse, and she had 4 bottles of shampoo and 3 sticks of deodorant.

I kinda hate Pal�.

To Go or Not To Go? News About Touristic Destinations

I continue the round of the "special" news that can affect tourists prepearing their luggeges and just flying in their thoughts in the dream-place. Someone dreams about a beach, other thinks the best is a tour in Antarctica -we are different and it's good. Imagine if all the residents of the Earth go in vacation on the same beach.

Well, news.

Spain. It seems there is invasion of jellyfishes near the beaches there. Bad notice not only for those who went or want to go there. The fenomenon repeats every year in Mediterranean. It means that the oceans are ill and can't support the activities of the humans more.

Malaysia. The sales began and will last till September 16. Not so much time, but if we think about sales in Italy that begin at the end of June and "last" till September, we can understand that the long period is a lie. If you want to find something in the middle of July here, you will find Fall models and zero sale offers.

Oman. They build a luxury hotel with shariat laws in it. No alcohol and men-women division not only in WC. The owner says, he is sure the hotel will be always complete because there are many persons that do not like those drunk faces everywhere.

Ucraina. Many tourists go there in May to enjoy the flowering of chestnut trees. The capital, Kijew, has so many of them that they become world-known brand of the city. Now, if you had to wait till spring, you can buy your ticket: the chestnut trees are flowering second time this year.

Thursday, 12 August 2010

Some More New Old Pictures!

I finally had more time to upload some of my older pictures. In this case, they're from 2007. For most people, they might not be that interesting. Still, depending on who you are or what you're into --Bucket showers, anyone?...Hey, I don't know-- then you might find something you like.

First and foremost, I've uploaded pictures from our wedding. My friend and professional photographer Brad took most of these, although at the start of the set there are some that I took while my family was visiting.

There are also more pictures from my mom's visit (a not-so-stealthy operation to come down and make sure that her future daughter-in-law wasn't a complete pyscho).

Also, there is a set from Nicaragua. I went there with my friend and former coworker Samuel. We visited his family in the far northern part of that country.

I evidently had to renew my visa another time in 2007, as well, so there is also a set of pictures from Panama.

And finally, the biggest set is of pictures of everyday life around Costa Rica.

Please feel free to check them out, leave comments, or download the pictures as you please. The links above are for the sets on their respective flickr pages, but you can also access them through fluidr by clicking on this link, in case you prefer a black background and a slightly slower-loading page.

Thanks for reading, and have a great day!

Wednesday, 11 August 2010

This Is My Jam

This isn't a recent song or video, but it's still cool:

Good song, a video with lots of superfluous elements, all-around cool... what's not to like?

Tuesday, 10 August 2010

Say My Name, Say My Name

According to this article, if my folks had followed Iraqi naming customs when I was born, I would have been named "Ryan Clarence Clarence al-Sitzman al-Fort Collins."

Monday, 9 August 2010

Pictures of the Day: August 4-8, 2010

Hi! I've got some Pictures of the Day from the last couple of (really rainy) days:

August 4th: And another one bites the dust. This tree was dangerously close to the side of the lot, and we were thinking it was just about to slide down and take a significant chunk of land with it. So, my brother-in-law Arnoldo cut it down for us.

August 5th: This is a beaded bird thingy that I have in my office. One of my students gave it to me a few years ago when I was teaching fourth grade... actually, now that I think about it, I think she sold it to me as some sort of fundraiser thing.

In any case, I'm having a difficult time with one of my current classes (the group is nice, but the logistics are a pain in the butt). Looking at this bird thing reminded me of two things:
1. You've got to recognize that most students are good on their own, even if things get frustrating when they're grouped.
2. They're still MUCH more tolerable than fourth graders!

August 6th: Some books on my "to read" shelf. Actually, all of my bookshelves are "to read" shelves, since once I finish reading a book, I try to schlep it up to Colorado as quickly as possible to avoid it getting mold.

August 7th: It's the rainy season. Kind of dull.
This is at work, where the rain was speedily sliding and dripping down the chain link fence. It actually looked kind of pretty, until I remembered that it'd look like that until November or so...

August 8th: There are quite a few things Costa Rica gets wrong, but plastic bags are one thing it gets right. They're strong and almost fashionable with their white and colored stripes.

Don't worry, though: I won't get all "American Beauty" on you and proclaim that it's the most beautiful thing I've ever photographed.

So, that's it for now. Thanks for reading, and have a good one!