Thursday, September 30, 2010

I Love Teenagers

Got the following email a week or two ago from the Netherlands. Oddly, it came to my soccer-related email address. Highly amusing. Plus it hits all my language-related hot buttons.

yo Laurie,

You don't know me but
I'm this highschool student who has been following ya french blog
since I share the same french team obsession.

and I gotta do a very important exam project with my mate.
It's about inventing a super cool efficient method for 11-year-olds
so that they can learn speaking english. I heard you got experience with the english language a lot.

We get 45 minutes to teach those kids english..
we can make use of all cognitive skills, like animations, sounds, books and everything.

Do you have some advice on this?
if yes, thank you a lot! if not, thank you as well but 1% less than if you would :P

I responded with my thoughts on teaching foreign languages -- things like the difference between immersing students in the new language vs. allowing them to translate between new and old, the importance of using all modes of language (reading, writing, speaking and listening) and some thoughts on how to structure a lesson.

Got this back. Made me smile.

Thanks for the great advice! it's certainly not late since we have work 6 months on this biology project

Well I like french football team but I actually only know that it is some sort of circus in the footballing world.
It's thanks to this french kid (he has his agenda full of zidane headbutt stickers) at school Pierre who advised me to mail to you and I was kind of sceptical at first.
But me and my friend have mailed to 18 native English speakers in Britain and America (we only got 7 replies)
which we showed to our bossy teacher. And he thinks your mail is one of the best and calls it "a reliable source".
By reliable he means pretty good because ne never uses words like good.

but really thanks for your 'reliable source'-thoughts. we will do the immersion thing :)

I love teenagers. They are...they are... They are so much who they are. And this makes me smile.

P.S. I am "a reliable source." Who knew?

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Welcome to the Family!

My daughter and her boyfriend have been dating since high school. We adore him. Tonight they stopped by our house on their way back to Seattle. The conversation as they were leaving went something like this:

Me: Wait, you're taking an onion?

Daughter's boyfriend: Yeah. And what's funny? We mentioned it two times, but you missed it because you were engrossed in the soccer game.

Me: Really?

Him: Really

Me: Wow. You know what this means? It means you're now family! I feel just as comfortable tuning you out for soccer as I do my own flesh and blood!

Daughter's boyfriend: Uh...thank you?

The Magic Place

Look! Right there! Off to the right! Is that a trailhead? It is!  It is a trailhead!


And this is what it leads to:


And within five minutes, this is where you are. In The Magic Place. Minutes from my front door.


I discovered this series of trails accidentally a few years back, when I was hiking through some trees by a subdivision and saw a trampled area in the grass. I went to check it out and found a path to...heaven. Trails that wander up and down and in and around steep ravines, crossing and criss-crossing, meeting up and diverging, branching and reconnnecting. My dog and I can leave and be back home in half an hour if we choose, or we can wander around for an hour or more. You can't get lost, because no matter which way you turn, eventually you end up back in suburbia. But until that happens, it's easy to pretend you're in the middle of nowhere.

What's funny is that nobody outside of our area seems to know these trails exist. They're invisible to the real world, even though they're bordered on two sides by parks and everywhere else by suburban development. I never, ever pass anyone else when I'm out. (And on the very rare occasions when I do, it feels almost like a violation.)

Most of the wildlife I see here is birds. An owl with a five-foot wingspan, once. And the only red-headed pileated woodpecker I've ever seen in real life. (He looked just like Woody. For those of us of a certain age.) And once there was a great blue heron -- a water bird! -- who perched awkwardly on a tree branch nearby and squawked at me until I'd moved on.

There are rumors of other animals in the area, too. I saw three deer, once. And there are coyotes obviously, as in most rural-suburban areas --but they're never out when I'm there. There have been rumors of a bobcat and a black bear. And the other day I nearly twisted an ankle when my foot went through this rabbit hole.

Like I said: Magic.

Not sure how long we'll have these trails. Development is encroaching, little by little. In the past couple of years I've had to find new ways to access them, as houses and townhomes are built across old entrances.

But right now, for the moment (and with perhaps a bit of help from the recession), my dog and I still have our Magic Place.

May it live forever.

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Nautical Stupidity, + The Joys of Having Friends Who Make You Smile

From a Skype conversation with a friend after watching this video:



Laurie: Also, just watched the cruise ship video you sent yesterday. Surreal, especially since the camera is mounted and you can't really tell the extent of the sway.
Laurie: Except by the degree to which people and things start sliding.
Laurie: Also x 2, how stupid is it not to affix furniture to the floor in a place like that?

My friend: I've wondered if the people who run that cruise company have ever been on a boat for that very reason.

Laurie: When we were in Ireland we took a day trip out to the Aran Islands in seas like that, but in a small boat. I loved it, but the urban New Yorkers were pretty green by the end.

My friend: It's often an acquired taste.
My friend: I went on a similarly rocky whale watch in elementary school where they served a soup of the day....twas chili.
My friend: I think I was one of three who managed to hold it down.

Laurie: The people who served you chili deserve the special place in hell next to the people who didn't bolt down the tables and chairs in the video.

My friend: I assume there's some sort of Boating Oversight Committee responsible for both, but it's located in Omaha and they're jealous.

Monday, September 06, 2010

The Unbearable Cuteness of Baby Otters

I love baby otters. By which I mean: I LOVE baby otters!