Thursday, February 28, 2013

Furlough deadline is looming

 Wonder if it will be resolved at the last minute or????

Monday, February 25, 2013

The best thing about winter...

Home-made crepes with nutella (hazelnut chocolate sauce) and bananas.   YUMMMY!!   The photo was taken just before the crepe is folded together.   This was my special treat that I'd buy at the outdoor winter markets in Germany. 

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Paperwork... how I loathe you

Paperwork to me feels like a pokey tight wreath is around my neck with each pokey branch representing all the different things that I need to do... except it doesn't make me smile like this guy!

  1. yet... I really do need to file my medical claims, etc, and maybe even do my taxes soon... so, that some MONEY will be coming my way... to help tide me over in case they actually, REALLY end up doing a furlough for US GOVERNMENT employees...  because you see dear readers... I'm a school teacher.. but, I happen to teach the children of the US Military deployed overseas and we are also considered government workers... (trust me:  WE are not making the big bucks that the 'real civilian workers' can make, depending on their jobs and length of service- we're a different group- almost considered 'seasonal workers' since we work for 10 months per year).   So, it is possible that we will end up having to be 'furloughed' and if we are... that equals to a 20% pay cut!  WOW!   So, we are some of the people that Congress (and the president) probably isn't even aware will be affected by a furlough (if one happens).  *The 20% paycut also affects your retirement salary, Retirement plan (I have a 401k that I put the max amount that I am allowed by law (as a government employee)... but, that max amount that I can put in -- is a percentage of one's salary and if they cut my salary by 20% that means I can put even LESS $$ in my 401k Retirement plan.  WHICH if it is now reduced by 20% will equal to the salary about what I was making over 15 years ago!   There hasn't been a pay increase in recent years and before that it usually averaged 1%- 1.5%.  
  2. I am doing laundry and cleaning house today.
  3. Later, I will do paperwork.   *Not putting it off... honest!  (The housework really needs to be done, trust me on this.)
  4. I'm also starting 3 on line college courses to get re-certified for my teaching degree.
  5. I guess that is good... since, I'll save $ by not having any TIME to do any traveling- because I'll be busy doing homework/reports/tests for the on line classes???

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Snowmen of winter

This was made last year by my art students when I was an art teacher in Germany.  I had the first class of the day draw quick sketches of snowmen playing outside and then the next class 're-drew' those images larger on the big blue paper.   As my classes came to art throughout the day... they took turns painting or using chalk for the snow and the snowmen.   

Once all the artwork was completed- I had students outline things so it would show up better on the art room door.   Our school had a door decorating contest... and photos of the doors were taken (except NO ONE took a photo of our door- except for me) and put on display on the big screen tv in the school's lobby.   Most of the doors were just decorated w/ photos of kids placed on Xeroxed elves or presents and things such as that.  Which is cute and all that... but, it was difficult to explain to the students 'why' our door was NOT displayed on the big screen tv in the lobby along with the other classes.  *It wasn't a contest where a prize was given...

So, even though my students (grades K-5th) didn't get any recognition for this adorable door design- I think that they did an amazing job!  

I kept it up from December until the end of March... because, after all.. it wasn't for a particular holiday- instead we had created 'just winter' scenes and it snowed there from October until April.   

 I smiled every time I unlocked the door and entered my classroom and it certainly made the gloomy, overcast, dreary winter days a lot brighter.   I love the simple, amazing, expressive, way that children create images as simple as snowmen/snow-women!

When I was a little girl; I was always so excited if it snowed and sometimes it snowed on my birthday since my birthday was on February 15.  Now, that I'm a teacher... I still have that eternal hope that we'll have a SNOW DAY and miss school 'every time' that it snows!   Of course, after living in Germany and never getting a snow day NO MATTER HOW often or how much it snowed for 4 seven month long winters... that dream almost got destroyed.

So, even if you love winter and snow... or if you are like me and still have that 'eternal hope' that they'll cancel school or work when it snows... I hope your winters have a few sunny days thrown in and that soon the morning light will start earlier and earlier giving us a glimpse that spring really will arrive ... eventually.

Click on the photos for a larger, clearer view.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Carnevale in Venice...

Have you ever wanted to be in Venice, Italy for Carnevale?  It is a madhouse full of tourists, people in costume posing for photos, and people taking photos...  I've only been to it 2 or 3 times.  I really don't enjoy it as much as a regular day in Venice... to be honest... because, to be honest... I'm just not a fan of big crowds.  I've only attended during the daytime to take photos... so, I can't share what being there at night would be like?   How do you like the costume in the last photo?   This is a costume.. that drew a lot of attention as this person was walking quickly through the sidewalk along the area of St. Mark's Square. (the back up close clearly looks like it is molded rubber... however, from this far away... it's very realistic!)   I love how everyone is staring at her departure as she walks away!   *click on the photos for a larger image!

Monday, February 11, 2013

The snows continue... all the way to northern Italy!

It started snowing today about 10:00.  That fine mist type of snow that is slick and the wind was blowing the snow sideways-- right into your eyes!  WE continued with school all day long.  You can see how heavy it is on the very busy road in front of my house.  I had already shoveled the sidewalks and steps 2 times.   We have a 2 hour start delay in the morning!   I'm glad for that- because I don't look forward to driving on slick roads 'here'... I have a feeling that they don't have as much 'snow driving' experience as Germany.  I know that this is true.    We ended up with about 5 inches of snow.   The weather predicts snow/rain mix during the night.   It's not the same as the current 'snow blizzard' on the East coast of the states... but, then again... this is ITALY and they just don't usually get a lot of snow!  


Saturday, February 9, 2013

The work week... we all know it well...

 You hope your work week goes like the first sculpture... serene, peaceful, plenty of time to get everything done...  however, as we all know... it usually goes more like the last photo.   Counting the days/hours/and thinking... Another MEETING?

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Transportation in Viet Nam

Before I left my job in Asia a few years ago for my move to Europe.   I went to Vietnam.  I had lived in Asia 4 different times and I really had never had an interest in going there.   Finally, I went and I have to say that it was one of the most interesting places that I have ever visited.  The people were so nice and seemed to have such an inner serenity about them while maneuvering in a crowded city full of crazy traffic of such vast differences.  It was almost impossible to just walk across the street and I really don't know how they managed to get anywhere; especially all the people riding the bicycles hauling a large assortment of wares.    The buildings had a French influence.  In a way, it looked a lot like the beautiful buildings in New Orleans.   The area had a French history and it really did show in the buildings.    Most of the buildings were looking old and faded... as if... they had been abandoned.   Except that people still lived in them.  Many people.  The look was more of an not even the simplest upkeep, painting or cleaning of the outsides of the buildings had gone on for many years.   The buildings seemed so sad to me.   It was like they were trying to hold their heads high even if they no longer had their old grandeur, style, beauty, and mystic.

Friday, February 1, 2013


Who?  For everyone... it's a... How 'to' sign in a bathroom 'somewhere' in Cambodia.

Let's see:

1.  No smoking
2.  Don't stand/squat on the toilet seat
3.  Don't wash your feet
4.  Don't take a shower

I managed to not to break any of the 'bathroom rules'... 

 Yes, I still take photos of unusual bathrooms found throughout my world travels.   I can't resist.