Aug 3 2015

What Happens Next: Napier

I’ve traveled to places, like Heimaey in Iceland. I’ve read of places, like Pompeii. In those places, you go to see what they looked like the moment disaster struck. A moment frozen in time under lava. There’s usually a loaf of bread in an oven somewhere to emphasize the moment-in-timeness.

When we traveled to Napier, we got to see that next moment. What happens after disaster. After leaving a town still deciding it’s post-quake identity, I wanted to see how one city answered that question. Napier answered it with a fondant exclamation point.

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Aug 2 2015

Saturday Evening Post, August 1 2015

A few photos from our week.
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New Regent Street, Christchurch

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Jul 26 2015

Saturday Evening Post, July 25 2015

A few photos from our week.
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Punting on the Avon

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Jul 25 2015

Day Trip: Arthur’s Pass

Another week, another rad day trip. This time, we headed northwest into the mountains.

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The mountains here are the Southern Alps. Their snowy peaks have been visible and calling us the whole visit. Continue reading


Jul 21 2015

Day Trip: Akaroa

One element of this trip that Brett remarked about today is that I’ve, ahem, ceded some of the planning control. It’s true. He’s been Captain Daytrip, planning our jaunts drivable from the house. And dude has rocked it.

His first smash success was Akaroa.

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Jul 12 2015

Working on Joy: Halswell Miniature Trains

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Let’s talk about tiny trains. The damn coolest tiny trains in any hemisphere.

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Jul 7 2015

Sure to Rise

In February 2011, Christchurch and surrounds were rocked by a 6.3 earthquake. Christchurch sustained substantial damage and the city is still in re-build mode four years later. When we did our first sojourn in from Sumner, the beach town we’re staying in, it was a brief trip in to test out driving on the left and ease out of a 24 hour travel day and begin to grasp what a city in flux looks like.

I was expecting it to be both better and worse, which I realize is ridiculous.

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Nov 8 2013

An Unusual Inquiry

Earlier this week I woke to an email and I have been a bit giddy since.

When we lived in Reykjavik we lived right near the Listaháskóli Íslands, the Iceland Academy of the Arts. The bold, bright artwork along the pedestrian tunnel and parking lots made me so very happy and made me take note of all the art, sanctioned and not, in the city. The value the nation puts on the artistic pursuits of its citizens is pretty rad. So I relished the bountiful public art and shared some of it in this post while we were abroad.

I guess someone found it.

Dear Julie.

I was informed about your very interesting web-site as I was looking for pictures of the graffiti that was painted on the walls of the pedestrian tunnel at Iceland Academy of the Arts where I have been the Principal Director until last August. It so happens, that I am looking for photographs of this graffiti for the cover and booklet of my music-cd that is to be released next month. 

 As I discovered the two photographs you have on your site I began to wonder if I could use the one of the doors (actually, the door to my own office!) in the booklet as supplementary decoration. For this I would need a version of the photograph with higher solution (300 dpi). Also, I began to wonder if you had some other photographs of the graffiti that you don’t show on the site.

 I know this is an unusual inquiry, but it proves that information travels fast and widely! I would be grateful if you could send me a response at your earliest convenience.

p.s.: the paint of the graffiti has now paled so much that it not of any use to take photographs now ….

 
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Jul 11 2013

The Kindness of Neighbors, Not Strangers.

We are, you know, not living in our home this summer. So we are not, you know, with our neighbors and community. We love Oak Park, the community and friendships and co-ops and goodness. I wrote about the powerful impact of a neighborhood a little over a year ago and stand by every sentence in that post (minus the upkeep of the soup exchange).

It’s hard to leave for a month. To have the playgroup talking about outdoor concerts, to have Loie ask about her beloved music teacher, to know our garden will (again) be shriveled up and sad because we’re gone for so long. We miss an annual BBQ at a friend’s, marching in the July 4th parade, and at least two of our beloved tot’s birthdays. Saturday donuts at the Farmers’ Market and all those summery delights.

It can be hard, too, to figure out our place with our temporary neighbors when away.

But leaving and coming are both part of the process, both important for us and both processed and talked about.

I love when a good anecdote brings those concepts, or any concepts, into high relief (especially when it comes with relief at the end of the anecdote).

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And thus:

Noise travels in our San Francisco home. We have next door neighbors who are in the same building, as opposed to the next house, here. We try to keep jumping, crashing, and cavorting to the second story to spare our downstairs neighbors. Instead, we reserve that space for sleep. Because sleep should be quiet.

Lo’s had a few rough nights this week were she’s woken up at 3:55 on the dot and yelped. A quick back rub, snuggle, and song gets her back to sleep fast but I’m incredibly sensitive to disrupting the sleep of people who call this building home. For one, I have a terrible time falling back to sleep so I empathize with the jolt of a toddler pre-dawn alarm clock.

And (more importantly) two, we’ve not yet been able to prove our worth as neighbors and likely won’t have time to in our brief stay. We can’t get anyone’s mail while their away or feed a fish, pour a hefty glass of wine while watching Mad Men or bring something over in celebration or comfort.

The give and take, back and forth, relationship piece of neighboring is harder, maybe impossible, when it’s a temporary measure.

So yesterday, when a downstair’s neighbor passed me on the street it took me a moment to recognize and place her: Ah, YES, a neighbor.

When she said “Oh! I have a note I’ve been meaning to drop off at your door,” it took me less than a moment to fully panic. To brace myself for the comment about being woken up, the question about what I was going to do about it, the sigh that implies “You are not my neighbor, I am allowed to be only annoyed with you, not compassionate.”

Blood rushed to my ears (and I imagine my cheeks). I squeaked an “Oh! Really?” as Lo hopped up and down next to me.

The note?

It came with two children’s books. And kind words about being a grandparent and a correct spelling of Loie’s name.

The neighbor had a book about San Francisco and a book about Chicago she thought Loie and the children of our friends might enjoy. She though that Loie might like seeing things familiar and be introduced to things she’ll meet. And she wanted us, as Chicagoans, to take that book home with us.

I damn near wept on the sidewalk. With relief, yes. But also with a sense of the power of neighborliness and a wee bit of shame that I assumed the worst.

Might she be frustrated with the yelps? Sure, she wouldn’t be the only one.

Might I need to keep a more open mind about how long it takes to build a dash of community and neighborliness? Sure, and it seems like I’m the only one.

 


Jul 9 2013

Six Ways to Work While Traveling

This year, we’re trying a few ways to work so that Brett gets as full of a day as he needs and I get to get my stuff done as needed and we can try to do some things during the week so the weekends don’t become insane pressure cookers of do-do-do.

The fact that the kid won’t nap forever is not lost on us, please sweetgods let it linger. So, this is what is working for work this year.

All of these schedules give Brett +/- 8-9 hours of work time. Because he is part machine, he will be focused and productive for approximately all of it. Dude is a beast. These give me 3+ hours of work per day, plus nights as needed.

Opt 1: The Long Haul
This has been our Mondays.

Brett gets up between 5 and 6. He works till 9ish when I might steal a few minutes to write an email, guzzle some coffee, or load up laundry. But for the most part I’m on duty and Lo and I keep ourselves busy with storytime followed by playgrounding at the Marina branch library.

Lunch together, kid goes down for a nap, I work for a few hours, Brett does too.

After nap, say between 3:30 and 4, we all go do something somewhere.

Post bedtime is a focused period of work for me and hopefully Brett relaxes and reads a book. Or works some more.

 

Opt 2: Break It Up
This is our plan for Tuesdays.

Brett works from 6ish-9ish.
We head out to do something as a family around 9:30, most stuff seems to open around 10.

Lunch is on the go, today we went to Yerba Buena Gardens so Lo chowed on peanut butter tortillas (they don’t get squished like bread) on the bus home.

Till dinner is work for him, nap and post-dinner is work for me.

You’d be surprised how much can be done in a few hours, even using public transportation. When traveling with a toddler it’s not like a 14 hour day is possible anyway. Breaking it up into a half day of doing is doing enough.

 

Opt 3: Not My Morning!
On Wednesdays, Brett & Lo are taking swim classes in the morning.

They are off by 9ish, home by noonish. He might or might not have gotten up earlier to work. Hopefully I am too asleep to notice.
In this scenario, I get a morning to work, perhaps a bit of a later snooze, too. Yahoo!

Brett then works from lunch till dinner, 12ish-6:30ish, or a bit later. We both clean up any remnants of our day post-bed.

 

Opt 4: Two Step
This day would have both of us following a schedule like mine in Oak Park on Tuesdays or Thursdays (read: no child care).

If we have a friend to see or something special to do in the morning or afternoon, we’d both work during nap and at night but be off duty work wise and on duty parent wise the rest of the day.

 

Opt 5: I’m Scared to Do This
We skip nap. We do it on travel days partially to help with jet lag and Lo has skipped a few here and there but for the most part we’re all happier if she’s slept.

A full day, likely on the weekend, out of the house would make it worth the risk of everything post-5 pm sucking. Golden Gate Park seems a reason.

And, this isn’t really about work at all. But I gotta own the fear.

 

Opt 6: Same Old, Same Old
This would see B working a regular 8-10 hour day in a row during more normal business hours. I don’t know when/where/why this would happen but it feels silly to pretend we’re never going to just rock a regular old day.
So then…
Who knows which we’ll do Thursdays and Fridays or if next Tuesday will be totally wild!!!

I like having systems in place to then push against rather than just wing it every day or realize we both scheduled a call or a trip is implausible with the time we’ve allotted. We’re hoping that by being intentional about our work/life we can keep assessing how these trips work or need to work better. That, then, makes these trips more possible and smoother.

It’s also just smart business. My clients know I’m available from 3-5 Chicago time for phone calls, which correlates to nap time and gives them a sense of consistency when our departure looms. I can always schedule one for another time but even just presenting that we’ve thought about it and we know what we’re doing builds confidence (and, really, I’ve never gotten anything but supportive support from folks I work with).

It isn’t exciting or exotic or romantic but part of doing a trip like this is Boy Scouting it up and being prepared.