Betty & Cliff!

Hey.

I got to see Betty and Cliff in Sitka for about 20 minutes on the way back from Nashville.  My Cellular Telephone was dead, so I went up to first class seating while we were in Ketchikan and asked one of the guys up there if I could borrow his phone.  He looked at me rather skeptically until I pulled my own cell phone out and told him my battery was dead, then he asked me the number, and dialed it for met then handed me the phone.  It was a pretty cool phone, too, that I didn’t know how to use since it was a touch screen model.

IMG_7866Betty got together a care package for me and they both met me at the airport.  We didn’t really get to talk about very many of the meaty subjects in life, but it was sure nice to see them again.  The last time we’d seen each other together was for thanksgiving this past year.

Hey, while you’re looking at the picture, take note of how Cliff’s glasses are hard to see.  They’re pretty discrete really, but then look at the shirt–that’s a ridiculous shirt.  I should have given him some nonsense about the loud shirt, I guess some people like loud clothes. 

IMG_7869Actually, it’s a fine shirt.  My shirt was a UAF sweatshirt that I got at a garage sale.  I’m not sure why I wore a sweatshirt–I’m not really a ‘sweatshirt’ kind of guy.  In the winters, I wear button up shirts (my teacher uniform), and in the summers, I wear second-hand T-shirts from the Salvation Army to work on the boat.  Cliff took the photo, but it was time to go, so we didn’t have time to refine the composition and the focus because my CF card filled up.

Also, look at the dorky light distraction in the background.  Oops.  I have another shot without the distracting light in the background, but I like these smiles better.  Often the first smile is the best–even for people who are quite practiced at smiling.  Note to self: Things in the background of a portrait should never be brighter than the subjects.  Also, take note of the nice lighting; this is thanks to a huge window with soft light coming into the airport, as you can see in the second photo.  I could probably adjust the WB for a warmer feel, but I’ve got other stuff to do right now.

Aquarium Restaurant!

I  went to the coolest restaurant (CLICK HERE!!!) at the huge mall in Nashville which is adjacent to the Opryland Hotel we stayed at.  There was a huge Aquarium in the center, surrounded by a salt-water fish tank with 4 inch thick polycarbonate clear stuff which hold 200,000 gallons.  Wow.

In the Photo below, you can see the tables on the left and the huge aquarium on the right Take special note of the 6 foot long shark swimming around and around and all the other huge fish.  This is one very impressive fish tank.  Also, take note of the imitation coral reef in the center.IMG_6948

This was a very impressive place to see.  If you ever go to Nashville, I’d strongly recommend swinging by the mall and going to this restaurant: especially if you have some kids.  The kids that I saw there simply loved it.  They couldn’t get enough.

IMG_7633 I just barely missed the feeding time when I first walked in, but was fortunate enough to see the feeding of the Manta Ray type fish which feeds of the bottom of the tank.  The odd thing was that they had to be fed by hand.  The diver had to lift up their heads (see the photo above) and put the fish in its mouth, which is on the bottom of the fish, otherwise they’d starve, as there’s nothing to eat off the floor of the clean tank.  Notice he’s feeding one with a black topside and there’s one off to his right with a spotted top-side.  Their underbelly’s were white.

IMG_7687  If you look really closely, you can imagine that you’re seeing his knife-blade proof gloves on his hands–I think they are a wise precaution.  Of course, the other fish were hungry too and were constantly trying to take the food from the diver.  It was quite fascinating.

The tank was so cool, I started looking around Nashville for things that 1-6 year old boys would like and found that they have a zoo too (CLICK HERE!!!).  It’s sure be cool to go down there during our Indiana Christmas break and spend 2-3 days checking out the sights in Nashville.  It’s just six hours from my folk’s farm down I-65.  Perhaps we could visit Nadine along the way and even hook up with the rest of the Way bunch along the way.

Devine…

 IMG_7388One of the most unique things we saw in Nashville was a performer who imitated a vine named, Devine–get it: the vine.  She came out to the Cascades Atrium at 11:30 pm and 4:30 pm and performed for an hour each time dressed as a vine with green make-up and really long stilts on her legs and arms.  Here you can see her with her arms out in front while standing on one leg with the other leg kicked back behind her with her foot nearly touching the back of her head.

IMG_7349Here she is doing the splits against a wall.  If you look with discernment, you can perhaps see her two legs up against the wall with one of her legs pointing straight up and one leg point down.  Her arms have long ‘crutches’ in them and are being used to hold her up on the floor there.

I  guess she was just one of the employees there at the Gaylord Opryland Hotel.  It took an amazing amount of flexibility, strength, balance, and poise to do what she did. to help clear her away of pedestrians, “Stand back, may way for her,” she’d call out from time to time.

Making up the costume were leaves, grapes, branches and gloves.  The only part of her that was visible was her face, but that was green and purple, which was a pretty wild effect, as you can see.

IMG_7367One of her favorite tricks was to just walk up to something and wrap herself around it, then close her eyes and scan the crowd and stretch, then relax for a while. IMG_7482 Every now and then, she would single out a person in the audience and wrap her long limbs around them.

I guess the thing that strikes me the most about the whole thing is it begs the question, “Why do we have a person walking around impersonating an inanimate object?”  IMG_7292What would a feminist think of it?  Is there an underlying message here about women, or about vines, or large crowds?  How is it in society, that when we have a lot of people together in one place that it becomes feasible for a person to make a go of it dressing up like a vine and wraping herself around this and that with green make-up on. 

Don’t get me wrong here.  Everyone that I saw who saw her really thought it was cool. And I thought it was cool too.  But where is the place in society for this type of performer?  What role does this fulfill, the vine?  Obviously it’s a type of performer.

What about the objectification of women, is this something we need to encourage or not?  What is the roll of synchronized swimmers, or gymnasts, or dancers?

I guess the overall impression I got was that it was beautiful and amazing that she had that type of balance and strength and got to “show off” each day on a stage that she made for herself.  But I have to admit, it did have an element of ‘freak show to it.’

The Gaylord Opryland Hotel!

Six of us went to a phenomenal conference by ASCD (CLICK HERE!!!) at the Gaylord  Opryland Hotel in Nashville, TN.  There were about 2900 attendees, and the hotel did not even seem full, except at lunch time when everyone was scrambling for a meal.

It’s like a cruise ship that’s 10 times larger than any other cruise ship, that has more to do on it than any other cruise ship ever built, only it never goes anywhere.  Quite an amazing place. It’s on a plot of land that contains 3.5 mile long mall (if you were to walk all through it, and is also adjacent to the Grand old Opry, so it’s got built-in entertainment that is top quality (if you like country music).

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The hotel covers 47 acres of land and is expanding this next year to include an additional 400,000 square feet, most of which will be conference space but which will include an additional 400 rooms.  Note that it currently has over 2800 rooms. Here’s a photo of the room I had a the hotel (see above).  Notice the 32″ flat screen LCD TV with on demand movies, notice the cool round pillows too plus the other four pillows on each bed–cool.  I talked to the maid for my room and she said that she was responsible for cleaning 16 of the rooms–she does a great job–almost as good as Holly at making the bed.

IMG_7585 Here’s a view of 1/2 of one the three atriums in the place.  The roundish brick structure about half-way back is a restaurant/bar that rotates!  Wow!  Notice the glass ceiling that encloses the plants–this area is climate controlled year-round and is absolutely stunning.

IMG_7513Here’s one of the plants  pictured below.  Obviously someone there, really knows how to grow plants.

I took a ton of photos here as you might well imagine and will hopefully find some time to blog about the rest of the hotel at some later point.  As for what we learned at the conference, that’s too long to blog about, but I will say that we should start heading in new directions on certain things this next year and in the years to come.

Wisdom comes with age… Or does it?

I thought this one was funny…  Enjoy.

A guy is 80 years old and loves to fish. He was sitting in his boat the other day when he heard a voice say,

‘Pick me up.’He looked around and couldn’t see any one. He thought he
was dreaming when he heard the voice say again,’Pick me up.’

He looked in the water and there, floating on the top, was a frog.

The man said, ‘Are you talking to me?’

The frog said, ‘Yes, I’m talking to you. Pick me up,then kiss me and
I’ll turn into the most beautiful woman you have ever seen.

‘I’ll make sure that all your friends are envious and jealous because I
will be your bride!’

The man looked at the frog for a short time, reached over, picked it up
carefully, and placed it in his front breast pocket.

Then the frog said, ‘What, are you nuts? Didn’t you hear what I said? I
said kiss me and I will be your beautiful bride.’

He opened his pocket, looked at the frog and said,

‘Nah, at my age I’d rather have a talking frog.’

So I went through Chicago…

The photo below was taken in Chicago…

IMG_6849 I had to leave the fishing grounds early to go to a teacher conference in Nashville, TN.  It was tough leaving the grounds because we were making pretty decent money and the weather was still calm.  I hope that’s a harbinger of things to come.

I was really tired during the entire trip because I slept only three hours on Sunday and four hours on Monday.  It took three hours to get from the fishing grounds just off Mab Island to the slip where I tied up my boat in Auke Bay. 

The next day, I woke up at four and went to take a shower.  Note to self: bring quarters to the harbor next time I want to take a shower.  I got to the shower so early there was nowhere to get any change, so I started preparing for the shower without a towel from the sink routine, but then I discovered that my taxi arrived 15 minutes early and so I went outside and got some quarters from him.  They really do have some nice facilities there at Auke Bay (Juneau’s northern small boat harbor) and it was rally nice to get cleaned up.

On the way to Nashville, we went through SeaTac Chicago.  I love both those airports.  The hallways are so big and dramatic.  Above is a shot of one of the concourses.  What I really like is the curved glass windows

IMG_6837In Seattle, I ate a HUGE burrito at the Qdoba Mexican Grill at the food court Pavilion that overlooks the tarmac.  It was delicious, but ungainly.  Instead of making a tubular shape out of the burrito, they folded it into a square.  Bummer.

In general, I dislike traveling, but I do like seeing the airports and going into the bookstores to look at the new titles.

We saw a BEAR on the AlCan Highway (w/ 2 cubs)!

This week, we (a few of us from the faculty at school) drove to Soldotna and back for a conference: “Failure is not an option.”   It was held at the Soldotna Stars High School, which is about a 3.5-4 hour drive past Anchorage, down on the Kenai Peninsula.IMG_6384It was a nice conference, and we learned a lot of cool stuff, but we still need to make our action plan.  We met in the Soldotna cafeteria, which was a very large rectangular room with terrible acoustics.  there are a whole lot of ugly (to my eyes) paintings of stars up on the ceiling and the whole room is rather odd, with large circular windows way up high near the ceiling. The food was a mix of fresh fruits and vegetables, breads, and doughnuts, plus a choice of apple Juice, Orange Juice, or water.  I have no complaints about the food at all.

IMG_6449cI liked the designs on the individual panels, but having the whole ceiling filled up with them, kind of overwhelms the mind, leaving nothing to focus on.  From the other side of the room, the panels are black and white, which is much easier to look at.

The sound was thankfully very well amplified and so we were able to hear the presenters very easily.  We just had trouble hearing each other, even across the table from each other.

The cool thing about the return trip, is that we got to drive some trucks home for Roger Schnabel’s company, so I did a huge costco run, and bought food for the boat for the summer.  On the way back, we saw a bear and two cubs.

IMG_6453cI was really bumbed out, because the truck I was driving did not have my camera in it when I saw the best pictures.  I did happen to hook up with the van carrying  the bulk of our stuff, and took a few good pictures before the bears wondered off into the woods.

We watched them for about five minutes right next to the road eating flowers, then they got right up on the road and walked right next to us and if I’d had my camera it would have been a very good time to take a shot, as the two little cubs were playing together and all three of them were right next to each other and very visible.  Also, in the photos I did get, the bears were back lit, rather than lit from the front.  Still it was a very nice treat getting to see the bears like that, so close to the road in some good light.

 

IMG_6428On the last night of the trip, we decided to have a fun little cook out along side the road.  I didn’t have a sleeping bag, so I bought one at Costco.  We stayed up quite late, telling stories and laughing about this or that. Then drove 14 hours the next day.  Here’s a shot of our camping spot where you can (just barely) see our three vehicles that made up our caravan: The school’s 15 pasenger green fan, the platform truck (in the back), and the new silverado work truck.    It’s always nice to have a 6-man tent when you go on a road trip.  I took this photo right before we took the tent down the next morning at 6 AM.

T-Ball time!

Well, Mark is old enough for T-Ball now, and so we’re getting started on that.  It’s a little bit stressful for him, because we didn’t really prepare him for it mentally, or physically.   We didn’t even get him any books on the subject for us to read to him–which is the standard procedure.  We did get him a glove last year at the Sports Shop, and the J6 crew got him some size 12T baseball cleats.

On Monday, we told him we were going to start playing T-ball and we started working on throwing and catching, then on Wednesday we went to our first practice where he practiced some fielding and then some batting.

He was terrified of the batting, so that night we went and bought our own little practice T-Ball set so we could work on those skills.  He liked the running to first base, but didn’t know where to find the base all the time and he definitely didn’t want to mess up and run to the wrong base.  As soon as we got into the car after the first practice, we told him we had the first game on Saturday and he opened his mouth really wide and let out a big cry.  He’d thought that T-ball was over and he wouldn’t have to do it again, then he found out we had a game on Saturday.  It was tough for him.

davis-3-iC On Saturday, he cried the whole way to the ball field and Holly was not sure that T-ball was what we needed to be doing.  I explained that he’s at just the right age to learn T-ball and that later on it’d be too late because his peer group would already know how to catch, throw, and bat by then.

Photo by Steve Vick: CLICK HERE!! then click on T-ball for more of his pictures.

Many of these pictures are great, and I’m going to buy a few of Mark Daniel when I get some time.  When these photos were taken, the T-ball teams didn’t have their uniforms yet, plus it was cold, so many of the kids were all bundled up in their fleece.  (He’s on the Reds, so they have Red baseball t-shirts, and red hats with C’s on them.)

When he got up to bat the first time, he just held the bat and descended into a puddle of tears, holding the bat and looking at all the fielders watching him.  Parents in the crowd, were cheering him on, “Come on Marky, You can do it.”  I went out there and picked him up and carried him back to the dug-out.

We had a long talk about stress and doing what you’re supposed to, even when it’s scary.  It was a tough talk.  I talked about wrestling, and about teaching my first year.  Then I told him, I’d go up there and be with him when he bats next time. 

So when it was his turn to bat the next time, it looked  like he was doing great, but he didn’t want to swing.  So I went up to him and asked him how he was doing, and he was just about to cry again.  He said, “I don’t know where first base is.  Where is it?”

I pointed over to it, and then he was fine.  He hit the ball to third base, and made it to third, since they over threw first.  They only played two innings, since each kid gets to bat each inning.

When we got out to the car, Mark was all happy because he’d finished T-ball.  Bummer.  We had to explain to him that this was just the first of six weeks of Saturday morning games.

When he hear that, his eyes teared up, he opened his mouth for a the mother of all breaths.  Holly and I held our ears.  Then he let loose again.

Sometimes, that’s how it goes, I suppose.

VBS was a blast!

I did the summary “Spotlight Drama!” slide show at the end of each day of Vacation Bible School (VBS) and had a real blast with the kids and watching them learn new songs and hear about the salvation message.  My job was to take about 20 pictures per day of various things.  These kids were supposed to look frightened.  Instead of making the slides in Power Point, which doesn’t automatically resize images, I did the slide shows with a proprietary little program that was very easy to use.

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We had two wonderful kids on their first Mission trip come to help out with VBS and stay at our house for the week in our extra room: Katie & Alex.  They were great, and we decided to get a foreign exchange student to stay in our extra room for the next year.  Holly wants someone who speaks Spanish, loves little kids (we have three boys), and is nice.  I want someone that is intelligent and not too focused on superficial things.

J6 came stopped in for a visit!

My oldest brother Jack is married to Jennifer and they have four kids: John, Joy, Joanna, and Jessica. So they are known as the J6 family.  Although I don’t think I actually ever say ‘family’ after I say J6.  They weren’t always J6.  For a while they were Jack and Jennifer, then they were J3, then J4… you get the idea.

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They rolled into town late Thursday night cheerful but tired in a caravan of three vehicles headed to Sitka so Jack can work at Edgecumbe this next year as the new Math/Science teacher.  IMG_5790Inside their newly acquired big diesel 26′ moving van was virtually all their household goods driven by Jack.  Next was the ‘Crayola’ (a toyota Corolla) packed with people and driven by Jennifer’s father, Chuck.  Jennifer drove the Suburban.  All three vehicles were packed to the gills. 

Since my driveway is fairly short, Jim Green and family offered to store the van at their place for the summer.  This truck is the largest size that U-haul rents.  The reason they were selling it is that it’s a diesel, it’s stick shift, and it’s so large.  This type of moving van is usually rented primarily for cross country trips.

IMG_5853 cropped We have a surfeit of John’s in the family.  Here are three of them.  My brother Jack is John W. Davis Jr., then we have John Caleb (my third son), and then we have John Charles Davis (Jack’s oldest).  John Charles and John Caleb actually share the same birthday: November 13, but they are not the same age (they both have charming smiles: it helps to have an infants mother behind the camera smiling and laughing.).  Other folks named ‘John’ in the family are Holly’s brother John M. Plucker, my father John W. Davis Sr. and his mother Johnny Davis.

IMG_5807 We had a couple of action filled days. We went out to the beach at Battery Point where we met up with Hunter Badgley working on the trail with Paul Swift.  John carried Luke in the backpack and had a personal best time out to the trail head.  I forget what the time was, but they beat me by a fair margin.

We all went to the story hour time and got to see Holly in action.  Joy, Joanna, and Jessica all got involved reading books and IMG_5778collecting prizes, right off the bat and had a great time.  I think Holly does a GREAT job with the summer reading program and I think I’m fairly objective too.

While Joy and I went to the painting class, the rest of the family went to the swimming pool to get wet.

And we also went out on a sailing trip with Bob and Margaret where everyone got to do a little bit of what they wanted to do: IMG_6680Jennifer got some sleep up in the V-berth, I got to shoot some more with Jack’s virtually new Canon 40D, John Charles got to man the wheel, Bob got to show off his boat, the kids got to play games and make up stories, and Holly and Margaret got to spend some time together talking about family.  It was an interesting day for sailing, we didn’t really catch any wind until we got out pretty well clear of Portage Cove, whereas often we can catch a nice wind just three minutes out of the harbor.

One thing my dad always does when I come to visit is fill up my gas tank when I leave town, so I told Jack I’d give him $90 for gas: but then I forgot to give him the money.  Typical.  So I’ll have to send a check down to the farm where my dad lives and he can cash the check there.  Traveling is expensive these days.

They left town on the ferry to Skagway at 10 PM on Saturday night, then drove all night and the next day.  I just talked to them on their cell phone and they were just outside of Dawson Creek where they were going to stop for dinner (935 miles) then push on to Grand Prarie. That’s quite  along haul for a days driving with four kids.

It sure is great to visit with family and let the cousins play with each other.