Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Looking at the frequency of entries over the past couple of years: 15 in 2009, 8 in 2010 and 3 thus far in 2011, it appears that I will either write 0 or -0.57 journals in 2012. Perhaps I can persuade Leah to log on and defy mathematics.
Anyways, May brought a very busy time at work as well as our move to a new apartment on May 7. I did make a mid-May trip out to California to visit Jeff and Katie as well as watch the Tour of California bike race. This was my second consecutive year spectating. This trip was even more fun than the last. I arrived on a Thursday night and we went mountain biking Friday, rode the Mt. Baldy hill climb stage on Saturday and hiked up Mt. Wilson on Sunday.

I am glad to report that Jeff and Katie are doing exceptionally well. They are in a nice house in Redlands, CA and they have orange trees in their backyard!

My return flight arrived at around 2am on Monday of the last week of school, which was a bit challenging logistically but well worth the extra planning.

In preparation for a visit from family near the middle of June, I built a bookcase to house all of our books that were scattered about the spare room.

Shortly after completion (perfect timing) John and Carla came to visit and we all had a great time. We went for a few hikes on the greenbelt with Max, ate our fair share of food, and John and I went on a tour at a place called Colling's Guitars. They manufacture custom guitars that range from $3,000 to $20,000! The precision and care that the craftsmen exhibit is very impressive.
Their visit ended with me dropping them off at the airport on my way to the first day of summer school. That continued for a couple of brutal weeks. Neither the hours nor the work were brutal, arriving home in the heat of the day was brutal. There are a few precious hours in the morning here when outdoor activities are even remotely enjoyable, and to give those up for work was a tough sell.
Summer school ended a week early for me as I volunteered to give up my students to teachers who wanted to stay for the full three weeks. Summer school is designed so that kids can leave whenever they finish. This results in diminishing class sizes and consolidation of sections.
The reason that I volunteered was the news of grandmother Prescott's deteriorating condition. I was able to make it back to Michigan with time to have a precious few last words, which I will forever cherish. She did pass away about one week later on July 2nd.
A great advantage to having extra time in Michigan was to be able to spend some time at the cottage with my Grandma Harrison.

On the way to the cottage I spent an afternoon at Sleeping Bear Dunes as a tourist and experienced some incredible scenery for the first time.

Sometime near the beginning of my trip, Marie left for a wedding in Wisconsin. She took the Badger across from Ludington to Manitowoc, WI.

The original purpose of the trip was to be in Michigan for the burial of my grandfather Harrison's ashes, and so during the second week of the trip we all drove to Lawrence for that occasion. I was able to see and talk with a few relatives whom I have seen only about twice during my entire life.
The 4th of July holiday fell in the middle of my trip to Michigan and fortunately Chris and Jackie were visiting Paul Lane in Holland. Chris rented a sailboat that we all went out on,

we watched the fireworks over Lake Michigan

and Mr. Lane hosted a wonderful dinner that included such distinguished guests as Gary Millikan and Bob Kahle. The couple of days spent with friends in Holland were a pleasure. Chris and I even had the chance to chop some wood and cut down a small dead tree, just like the old days. The following is my new favorite sequence of pictures:

After that trip I returned back to Leah. Two weeks was effectively an eternity and so we were both glad to be in the same place again. July 21 was Leah's birthday and we celebrated with cake and dinner out.

July 28 marked the date of our departure for our one year anniversary trip to Estes Park, CO. We flew into Denver and had dinner with Chris and Jackie. Chris fixed up some bacon wrapped chicken shishkabobs that were delicious and Jackie baked and assembled super cool cupcakes that were modeled after hamburgers.
The next day we drove up to Estes Park, where we would stay for the weekend, and promptly fell asleep for three hours in the middle of the afternoon. With the river right outside the window drowning out all unwanted noise and the cool, comfortable mountain air, it seemed like the only thing to do. Saturday we did the standard Rocky Mountain National Park tourist activity, the driving of Trail Ridge Road, along with about 50 million other people. Although busy, it was nevertheless magnificent. Sunday was the day of our one year anniversary, which we celebrated by hiking a trail to Ypsilon Lake, 9 miles round trip with nearly 1/2 a mile of elevation gain. The scenery along the trail was beautiful, the trail was incredibly well maintained and Ypsilon Lake, nestled in the Rockies at over 10,000ft in elevation, was a suitable reward. Monday we drove towards the southern end of the park and walked to Alberta Falls. The falls were tall, roaring and beautiful. The worst part of the trip arrived much too quickly, our departure on Tuesday morning. The weather had been beautiful the entire time that we were there. It thunderstormed one night, which we thought was great, now that we live in droughtville. The days were generally sunny with highs near 80 while the nights were clear and dry with lows near 50, a very welcome and needed respite from a Texas summer.

Created with Admarket's flickrSLiDR.

Lastly, we have been doing a fair amount of cooking since I've been off work for the summer and there are a few of you who I have promised to share recipes with. Links to the recipes are below:

Poached Grouper with Mango Salsa and Coconut-Cilantro Rice Pilaf

Eggs Benedict Rancheros

Mediterranean Grouper

We sincerely hope that you are all doing well in your preparations for the busy fall season.

As always, please stay in touch, we love to hear from everyone.


Leah and Jay