July 2008

Listen for the silent R.

Earlier this month, Paul took off to rural New Hampshire, where in between driving firetrucks, playing with water hoses, setting up fireworks, eating flavorful grilled meat, teaching people to juggle, and riding motorcycles through the countryside, he learned all sorts of intimate knowledge about Massachusetts folk from the locals.  For example, he learned that most New Hampshire restaurants and services have two price points, a high-price printed one for those from out-of-town (read: those who have weekend homes in NH but live elsewhere) and one for locals.  While setting up the fireworks display, he had several run-ins with folks in expensive cars irritated that they couldn’t park within the out-of-bounds safety zone mandated for a community fireworks display.  When he noticed that both of the incidents involved cars with Massachusetts license plates, his friend responded, “Yup.  That’s why we call ‘em Massholes.”

Awesome.  With a name like that, who wouldn’t want to go hang out with ‘em?  Which is exactly what we are thrilled to be doing in October.

We’ve got a little over 3 days in Boston and have no idea what to do.  I was 5 when we moved from Billerica (a NW suburb) and only have vague memories of the library, gardens, and swan boats.  Actually, besides the day when my brother rode his Hot Wheels through the woods and into a 4-lane highway,  my best memory of Billerica is bringing our trash to the dump.  I feel that this does not necessarily reflect the character of the community but more likely speaks volumes of me.

We arrive at 3:30 on a Thursday afternoon, have Thursday evening and most of the day Friday to sight-see.  We may have a work-related meeting for Paul sometime Friday and need to check into the hotel for a 7pm cocktail hour that night.  The conference is all day Saturday.  We have all of Sunday to roam once more before flying out at 8am Monday morning.

We’d love to stay somewhere interesting/historic/romantic/notable on Thursday night, preferably reasonable walking distance from a great restaurant for dinner on Thursday and/or sights to see first thing Friday morning.  We’ll probably stay at the conference hotel Friday-Sunday, just because we leave so early Monday morning.

Suggestions for sights, itineraries, good finds, neat photo ops, and unique restaurants are very appreciated!

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Them bones, them bones, them hair bones.

Yesterday, Will asked me if we have bones in our heads.  “Yes,” I told him truthfully.

“I think your head bone is broken.  I isn’t holding your hair anymore.  Maybe it’s a problem with the HAIR BONE.”  He said the last two words in all caps, clearly enunciating so that I would be sure to notice him specifically mention a particular bone, showing off his vast knowledge of the human body.  See Mommy?  I may only be 4, but I know allll about hair bones.

“You know, Will, I think that you could be very right.”

So while my hair bone is broken, the rest of my brain seems to be doing alright.  I’ve been asked to appear on a local television access channel to talk about the Schweitzer Fellowship and, I suppose, my fellowship-related work stemming from the past few years of work in the Latino community.  I have another scheduled interview tonight for my dissertation research.  This afternoon, a note appeared congratulating me for selection of a travel award to cover expenses to come to the National Schweitzer Fellows for Life Conference in Boston, and, would I mind moderating a breakout session?  All of these things are really helping me pull out of the haze and remember all the work there is to be done.

So is it so wrong to wish for a week at the beach?  Maybe I have romanticized what a week at the beach with your family is really like — but having never had the experience, I am longing to try.  This is why, in the middle of Paul negotiating new job(s), the kids popping in and out of school with different summer breaks, us preparing for a busy fall with huge travel, weddings 1000+ miles away that I am officiating and photographing, family surprises, fellowship obligations, school events, and a billion other things that don’t yet even include that darn dissertation I’m trying to finish…. I am carelessly dreaming of a week at the beach.

I blame the book.  I read a novel, the first in more time than I can remember (I’ve turned into a nonfiction reader), and although it is not on my short list of favorite books of all time, it was well-written and fun and now I just want to curl up and read and let my head escape to somewhere else.

Adding to “to do” list: find evidence that spending a week at the beach repairs broken hair bones.

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If only a Band-Aid would work…

Health update: it’s not my thyroid.  I paid out of pocket for the blood test and all as fine, normal, within ranges, and not consistent with any pattern of hypo- or hyper-thyroidism.

I obtained the results from the blood test done about 3 weeks ago for our life insurance plan: everything was normal.  No anemia.  No anything.  Not even borderline on anything.  Perfectly healthy.

Next step, based on sage wisdom from a brilliant MD who graciously helped with advice and orders, involves more detailed endocrine system tests… within the oversight of a local doctor.  And so, we’re back to waiting on insurance.

We pressed our insurance agent for help and he delivered… although the final answer is that Blue Cross insists on the original forms sent through the mail from our providers.  All the forms were delivered last week (where, of course, several physicians were on vacation) and so we wait.  We were smart enough to request that the forms be faxed to us before they are mailed so that we can have a record, but so far only one form has arrived.  In other words, we may be waiting awhile.

In the meantime, my hair continues to shed.

And a new dilemma: I’m afraid to have those touch-up highlights I need before going on camera!  I’ve come to terms with ‘the camera adds 10 pounds’ but cannot handle ashy-blonde roots!  But how much hair will I rish loosing in the process??

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Life in Pachacutec… growing up out of the sand

This day of the trip was facilitated in part by me, only because I met Barbara by a fabulous stroke of luck when we lived in Lima in 2006 and subsequently introduced her to Valerie (the course instructor).  I arranged with Barbara to have the class spend the day in Pacha, the community where Barbara has worked and lived within for several years.  Barbara has medical training and has served as a Medical Mission Sister for longer than I have been alive: she is one of the most patient, compassionate, and genuine people I have ever met.  We were so lucky to spend the day with her, visiting several levels of health systems within the community (local posts, clinics, and a new hospital) and having lunch in a community kitchen.

More information about the community, our visit, and details about the day are given in the gallery.

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Travelouge Introduction: Peru 2008

For 20 days in May, Paul and I traveled through Peru with a graduate course on Health and Development from Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine.  I was hired as a teaching assistant for the course and also hired by the Dean’s Office of Communication to photograph it for Global Health Magazine.  Having a research faculty based in Peru is a tremendous strength for the Department and the School, so they wanted to have photographs to use in publications, specifically, the School’s Magazine.

Paul and I naively anticipated two weeks of working during the day and then enjoying long, causal evenings where we would go out to dinner, see movies, and read books.  It sounds silly in retrospect, but the fact is that I packed two novels to read during the trip.  Neither were opened.  In reality, the coordination of travel, daily scheduling snafus, and especially keeping up with the equipment and photography responsibilities were incredibly demanding.  Our days were long and often began well before sunrise in order to reach a destination or activity.  It was one of the most incredible experiences of our lives — from start to finish — and we feel blessed to have been afforded the opportunity.  I learned so much about photography: how to approach this sort of assignment, what to strive for, how to manage equipment and supplies, and how to negotiate the two jobs concurrently.  Unfortunately, I realized most of these lessons towards the end of the experience… I can only hope that I am lucky enough to secure a similar job in the future!

Paul and I fell in love with Peru more than ever; we cannot wait for the opportunity to return.

The Office of Communication seemed excited about the product I turned over… I am so excited about the upcoming article and hope that it draws great interest to Peru.  Until then, I am turning over photographs with detailed descriptions and captions for viewing.  I’ll post when each is open.  I will probably be adding to them over time, but to start will be my favorites.


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Douche.

Gray paint on Dr. Bob?  Tragedy.  The fact that Radkte still runs around town with a roller?*  Criminal.  (Photo by Liprap.)

*Even if he didn’t do this, the fact that he’s done enough attention-getting destruction to warrant a copycat is enough to throw the book at him, in my mind.  What a rat.

Hat tip to Liprap.

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Pyramids.

We got nailed with one of those book exchange things… sent to Will.  It’s a ‘send a book to kid number 1, write your kid in number 2, and send to a bunch of others’.  If you’re interested in participating, please make a comment or write me an email with your address.  Will is coordinating the delivery, but I don’t want to send to anyone unwitingly.

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“The Whole Mississippi has a sheen on it”

Today at school, Kate’s teacher brought in pictures of the paper and talked to her class of two year olds about what happens when bad stuff gets into our water.  This is why Kate told me tonight that she was “sad for the fishies.”

On the way to swim class, Will, who to the best of my knowledge had no clue about the several hundred thousand tons of oil dripping through our river just blocks away, asked why the air smelled “like gasoline.”

Why, indeed.

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Cuy: it’s what’s for dinner

We thought it tasted like tough, dry chicken.  But we’re no great-shakes with meat identification, so really, don’t take it on our word.

Regardless of how they taste, they sure do look cute in dresses!

See the full slide-show of the Guinea Pig festival here.

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You have to listen to my words, Okay?

They go all crazy when the video camera comes out.  Solution: use my digital voice recorder.  They have no idea it’s around.  As a result, I got some audio action of Will helping Kate get dressed.  (Click on the link below for the MP3.)

willdresseskate

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