A Travellerspoint blog

Going Nuts About Squirrels

Where Are All the Cats?

sunny 88 °F

There are a lot of squirrels in Washington D.C. They are of course of the much maligned (at least in the U.K.) grey variety but they are sooooo cute! They scamper out between parked cars and pogo jump across the parks, occasionally freeze-framing their pose to enable photo shots to be taken until a toughened tree trunk lures them to its summit. They come in 50 shades of grey (oops!) and although some jay-walking members of the species have caused me to hone up my braking skills, their cute little faces and big, bushy tails have endeared me to these sweet, diminutive Washingtonians.

But where are all the cats? I have yet to cast eyes on a domestic moggy! Every breed of dog known to Crufts walks the streets around Capitol Hill usually accompanied by a well-tanned, short-wearing owner. I can always tell if a dog and their human is approaching behind me as I hear panting (usually the dog!) together with the rhythmic slap, slap, slap of the flip-flop wearing human trying to keep up!

I have attended a couple of free concerts at the Kennedy Center: 365 days of the year, a free concert is put on at the Millenium Stage at the Center which is broadcast over the Web. The stage acts as a showcase for local. national and international groups and individuals who wish to promote their work to as wide an audience as possible. On Friday, I saw "Annie and the Beekeepers", a folk/Americana group who were very easy to listen to and I thoroughly enjoyed the concert.

Today, 3rd September (or 09.03.12 - but I'm finding it difficult to adjust to this way of writing the date!) marks the official end of summer (it was 90 degrees today!) and the beginning of the school year for many districts. I have what seems to me a plethora (I like that word!) of paperwork to absorb and the first week of school seems to be mainly administrative. I am really looking forward however to getting started in the classroom and getting to know my classes. From the class lists, I have a very extensive ethnic mix of students who I am looking forward to meeting.

By way of relaxation, I took myself off to another "Hot Yoga" session today and it was hot! Raj (our teacher from India), wearing the minimum of legal yoga apparel, led us through our poses and I survived to tell the tale! I had never tasted coconut water until I came to the States but as a quick fix to replacing electrolyte loss, balance and the ability to walk, it is amazing!

As this evening is a school night and the eve of the grand return of students, I will bid adieu. It's always great to hear from "followers" as I know I have an audience-saves me, unlike the squirrels, from going nuts!

Posted by mhwedwards 18:13 Archived in USA Comments (0)

Teachers' Week at Annandale High School

Cheerleaders and Band Assemble on Football Field to Greet Mrs Edwards (and 999 other staff from Cluster 111 School district!)

sunny 90 °F

1st day at school! Parked up at 6.30a.m. and decanted to classroom to begin familiarisation procedure! Breakfast and networking in cafeteria and then assemble in main gym (size of school soceer pitch in Scotland!) to hear address from Assistant Superintendent and then guest speaker, Ron Culberson (speaker,humorist, columnist and author (Am. Eng.!). Very funny man who skilfully wove a serious message about educating young people effectively into his laugh a minute address. (Aside: I'll share one joke: "An atom walks into a bar and tells the the bartender that he has lost his electron. "Are your sure?" asks the bartender. "Yep, I'm positive," replies the atom!
The Cluster Pyramid (ASG back home), then paraded out onto the football pitch where an honorary (Am. Eng.) guard of cheerleaders and band heralded our arrival . We then ascended the steps of the spectator stand to have a panoramic photograph taken of the occasion. I should add that most of us were attired in our Annandale Cluster 111 t-shirts-another freebie from the school-I now am the proud owner of 3 school -logoed t-shirts all different styles!). The 90degree + heat took its effect on some of the company who used their freebie t-shirt as a make-shift canopy from the sun's glare! I thought it was meant to start cooling down at the end of August!
Met up with several members of the English Department later on in the day and began to embed into the Annandale setting. To be continued...

Posted by mhwedwards 13:39 Archived in USA Comments (0)

Tempus Fugit!

Those **** Mosquitoes!

rain 30 °F

I can hardly believe that it is 4 weeks since I first arrived in Washington! I hit the ground running, arriving just before midnight on 29th July and then straight into Fulbright orientation week! It was great to meet up with the Fulbrighters from across the globe: UK;USA;Switzerland;France;Hungary;Croatia;Mexico;and India! Thankfully, the hotel was air-conditioned as the 90 degree F temperatures have taken a bit of getting used to!. I gave a rendition of the first verse of "Tae the Haggis" (with accompanying translation!) to the assembled group at our farewell dinner as part of the Scottish/Irish contingent's "Celtic Connections" piece which seemed to go down well!They have nasty biting insects in Washington which seem to make a bee (!) line for me and haven't left me alone since my arrival. I've now assumed the dedicated skills of a big game hunter as I eagerly pursue any mis-directed humming creature which invades my living space!

I'm very comfortable in my studio basement apartment which is fitted out with kitchenette and shower space. It's a bit dark as not too much natural light floods in and so I rely heavily on various alarms to awaken me in the morn! I'm having to get up at 4.45a.m. in order to leave by 5.45a.m. to get to school by 6.30a.m.! This allows me some leeway with the traffic as my commute involves driving out of Washington on a 5-6 lane highway - a little different from my former commute to Cults! The traffic is incredibly heavy driving into Washington and although by my standards I still think the traffic on my route is heavy, it is certainly less than on the other side of the highway!

I'm really enjoying living in the Capitol Hill area which is only a 10-15 min. walk to the Capitol and Union Station. The architecture of the houses is wonderful-there are so many different styles of painted brick housing and the area has lots of nice ethnic restaurants too. "Eastern Market" is a great place to shop for local produce and they have a flea market on a Sunday which is good fun to browse through.

I've got a "SmartTrip" card for use on the metro and buses and this has been invaluable in allowing me to travel quite widely around the city getting my bearings. I've visited the magnificent Washington National Cathedral which sadly, experienced some major damage during last year's earthquake in August,(as did Union Station). There is a major program (Am. Eng.!) of restoration underway which of course will take millions of $ as well as lots of time as every piece of damaged masonary has to be restored by hand.

I've put my name down to be an usher at the "Folger Shakespeare Theater" which is quite close to where I am. Ushers get to see the production for free and so that's my incentive!

I've been to 3 "Hot Yoga" classes which were very...hot! However, they helped me to acclimatize to the heat especially in the early days of my arrival! I'm waiting for the next special offer to come round before I try the classes again (I can't gey away from being a thrifty Scot!) I have however been walking a great deal, (thank you Alasdair, Becca and Seren for my Washington Walks book!) and swimming at the local "Aquatic Center" which is free to residents!

I enjoyed the orientation week for teachers new to Fairfax county last week - over 2000 participants attended!! I've now been out to my school, Annandale High School, on two occasions and have two very cool t-shirts emblazoned with the school's logo! It is expected that staff wear the school colours on Fridays!
I am off to Annandale on Monday for Teachers' Week and so will start to get a real feel for the work which I'll be doing. That being said, I think I'd better close now and get an early night! By the way, next Monday is Labor Day and so a public holiday - whoa!

Posted by mhwedwards 14:25 Archived in USA Comments (0)

(Entries 16 - 18 of 18) « Page 1 2 3 [4]