June 2010

World of the Mouse, May 2010

I have a hard time with predictability.  It’s just too boring, too rigid.  I even need to switch sides of the bed every once in awhile just to keep fresh perspective during sleep.

The exception to the rule seems to be visits to Disney World, whose wonders we can’t quite exhaust.

We were there in late May/early June… a trip timed at school’s (almost) end and with a few days of summer camp shaved from the front.  The fact that it was during one of the 3 “Star Wars” weekends hosted yearly at Hollywood Studios was also a key part of our last-minute-travel decision-making.

The trip was wonderful.  We met up with several groups of friends — from Virginia, New Orleans, Miami, and Orlando.  I don’t think we were there for even a day where we didn’t meet up with friends.  We stayed on the monorail for the first time (in the Polynesian) and were upgraded to concierge level, all of which was amazing.  We ate in Cinderella’s Castle (another first) with one of Kate’s best friends from school (and her big brother, a friend of Will’s).

And, Kate got her hair cut and sprayed with pixie dust at the Barber Shop on Main Street:

In the picture above, Kate is laughing at the parade going by the window — bright floats with characters singing and dancing.  Not bad for distraction during a haircut!

If they aren’t busy, they folks in the shop will spray your hair with pixie dust for free.  Otherwise, a hair cut with all the special sprinkles is $15.  While we were there, the Barbershop Quartet singers came in and performed.  Seeing our anniversary pins, they chose a special romantic tune just for us — complete with the crowd applauding for us to kiss at the end.

It was just that kind of magic trip.

Here’s Cinderella’s Banquet Hall in the Castle, in silhouette.  Princesses are announced and greet guests table-to-table.

When we checked into the Polynesian, the concierge staff brought us handmade leis made of live, fragrant flowers, with congratulations on our 10 year anniversary.  Kate loved the real flower necklaces.

Here’s Paul on the teacups!  (The kids are great spinners.)

Each evening, we could watch the light parade on the water followed by the fireworks over Cinderella’s castle from the pool and beach of the Polynesian.  Or, we could go up to the Concierge building lodge (where there were desserts and adult beverages) and watch them from the air-conditioned, two story room with wall-to-ceiling windows looking out to the castle.  They even piped in the music from The Magic Kingdom during the fireworks.

Each night, as people gathered on the beach to watch fireworks, the ducks and ducklings took over the pool…

The Star Wars events were fun.  Both kids were thrilled at seeing the characters.  Including storm troopers who interacted with the crowd at the entrance gates.

Different celebrities are on hand throughout the day for photos and signatures (we didn’t do much of this) and there are interviews, quiz shows, and other special events for guests.  While these may be things are kids will want to do when they are older, they were thrilled to stick with the daily Star Wars parade.

(I think my favorite part of the parade were the Sand People with Babies.)

Will was into this photo-op.

We did stand in line for a few signatures.  Jango Fett was there and took a break (yikes) when Ashoka (at least, I’m told this is her name… I don’t get the Clone Wars stuff) popped in.

Ask Kate about the force and she’ll do this for you.

Thankfully, someone who looks a bit like Jango, but in different color, came back.  That was enough for Will.  He’s got a thing for these helmet-wearing guys.

There were non-Star Wars moments, too.  (The ones below are from the Nemo ride at EPCOT.)  Will friends Bryan and Carolyn there, we had more opportunity to switch off and do more “intense” experiences — Mission: Space (simulates the g-forces of rocketing off the earth) and Test Track, which Will tried for the first time and loved.

A few days into our trip, the “Summer” Nighttime program started.  This year’s summer program includes the return of the Main Street Electric Parade, the original light parade that I remember from my own childhood.  I was THRILLED to share it with the kids.

Will passed out a few minutes before it started, of course.  We told him that it is a parade filled with Star Wars characters and everyone that is awake is given real laser lightsabers.

I got a little artsy while waiting for the parade.

Here are Paul and Kate, watching Tchoupi et DouDou as we wait for the start of the parade.

The previous parade, part of the “Wishes Nighttime Spectacular,” is a beautiful parade of white lights.  It is a nice parade, with a dreamy quality that left you with oohs and aahs.  But it is no where near the fun of the original Main Street Electric Parade!

Here’s Prince Charming with one of the Stepsisters, who is trying to put on the glass slipper.

See Peter Pan and Hook?

Here they are — sword fighting away…

Pete and his dragon, Elliot, were a favorite part of the original.  Elliot has his bumbling voice, disappears, and blows smoke.  (What?  You haven’t seen Pete’s Dragon?  With Helen Reddy, and her Candle on the Water torch song?)

We figure that we don’t have much time before the kids are old enough to appreciate Europe.  Or trekking in the Himalayas.  Or rafting the Grand Canyon.  Or finding the perfect pebble on Skye.  So right now, while they are this wonderful age, we are really enjoying the Disney magic with them.  Even if it is predictable!


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The little things can be heartbreakers.

Shrimp boats, docked near Jean Lafitte.

Life in New Orleans

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Happy Father’s Day…

… to a Dad whose love of naps is inspiring.   Happy Father’s Day, Pancho!


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My socks are lost for good.

I knew he wasn’t kidding when his voice cracked and his eyes looked glassy.  “No, actually, I have an anniversary present for you.”

Complete silence.

I looked directly in his eye without a hint of joking.  “Really?  You did.  You’re not kidding.”

“It’s not wrapped yet.  So, how about I give it to you now, so I don’t have to wrap it.”

Big sigh.  That sounds more like it.

Wanna see it?

WOW.  With special thanks to Derby Pottery and Tile for working with Paul on this one-of-a-kind, signature piece!  It is BEAUTIFUL.

(Note the inscription around the water meter cover?)

…And you Best of the Best Just Posts folks?  You’ve got Derby Pottery love coming your way… packages went out yesterday!  A preview…

Art & Photography

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Cane Bayou… discovering Louisiana

To provide compassionate, respectful service in a place, I think it’s critically important to form a relationship with the natural environment that supports it.  So, part of understanding New Orleans in a way where you can truly make a difference within its populace means finding appreciation for the unique ecosystems that support and, in many ways, define the city.   With the disaster unfolding, the importance for our Fellows to develop a connection with our local environment was even more critical.  So, as part of their orientation retreat weekend, we went canoeing through Cane Bayou.  A private guide brought us through a mile of natural, undeveloped bayou — protected between a wildlife preserve and State Park.  We paddled out at dusk, ending up parked in the marsh along the edge of Lake Pontchartrain.  We ate boxed lunch dinners watching the sun set over the lake.  Then, as night fell, paddled back with the sounds and sights of the bayou around us.

It was pretty darn awesome.

Here are some pictures.

Arts & Photography
Life in New Orleans

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Just Posts for a Just World: May 2010

The Worst Environmental Disaster in U.S. history.

Last month, I said we’d dedicate part of our Just Posts to what regular folks were saying about the spill.  In general, we tried to find different reflections and different stories — not news updates or posts with heavily quoted material — just talk.  As one living in New Orleans, I am curious about how the rest of the world is thinking about this disaster.  I’m guessing there will be a lot more posts about this in June and onward, but these are limited to May.  It’s what folks were saying in the “early” days of the disaster… you know, only 25 or so days into it.   The list is not an endorsement of how to think about this, it’s a list put out there in hope that these posts give others a little variety in how we can think about what is happening and what is to come — and maybe expand our thoughts and conversations about in the coming weeks.

Just Posts for a Just World: BP Oil Spill, May 2010

Here is another take on the spill… and it’s a good one.   Just in case you haven’t seen it.

Of course, a lot of other wonderful writing happened in May… here are the rest of the Just Posts for a Just World, May 2010:

The Just Posts are a joint effort between Alejna and me… please stop by to see what she’s saying this month!  Submissions of blog posts on social justice issues are encouraged from all; see more information about the JPs here.

Thank you thank you thank you and thank you for your support of the Just Posts.


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Ten Years

Happy 10th Anniversary to my motorcycle-riding, electronic-fixing, home-building, Amazon-jungle-rope-swinging, kite-flying, kid-lovin’, multi-talented best friend.  Thank you for your flexibility, your sense of adventure, for making me laugh, for believing in me and working with me to create our wonderful life together.


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