Sunday, November 22, 2015

A Magical Birthday ~ From Carnegie Hill to Carnegie Hall

A Magical Birthday in NYC - From Carnegie Hill to Carnegie Hall

As you might have read about in our last post, my husband got me the best birthday present  - time with family  by booking a week at Liberty Harbor RV Park outside of NYC.  This lead to a most magical birthday.   My twin boys (Adam and Matt) rose to the occasion and picked a wonderful dinner place for us to meet before an evening at Carnegie Hall. 

The day  started with an afternoon visit to the Cooper Hewitt Museum on Carnegie Hill.  What a great place to spend the day.  We wandered through the museum’s exhibits with a funky pen in hand that allowed you to “save”  links to pictures of the exhibit that you wanted to remember and learn more about.  During our visit, we got to see 

But my favorites had to be the craftsmanship in the Models & Prototypes Gallery

From Models and Prototypes Gallery of Hewitt Cooper Museum

and the fantastic collection  Provocations: The Architecture and Design of Heatherwick Studio on the top floor that feature rooms filled with beautifully designed objects like this twisted cabinet or Hairy Building model 

Craig and I opted for a cab ride over the subway from Carnegie Hill to Landmarc Italian/French Bistro  in Time Warner Center (tired feet) where my twin boys (Adam and Matt) were waiting to treat Mom to a fancy birthday dinner.  Their amazing ladies, Molly and Giuliana, and a good friend, Dillon, joined us for an amazing dinner and drinks. The view of the city at night was absolutely magical as the city sparkled for the holidays.  I'd like to say that I raised those boys right -- but I'm afraid I can't take credit.  I think they would have turned out just fine without me, but I'm sure proud of them for being so good to their mother and the people around them.  They are very thoughtful of others in their lives - what more could you ask for in your children.

The evening just kept getting more and more magical as we headed to Carnegie Hall to listen to the New York Pops showcase the music of Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald and other iconic Sophisticated Ladies including a fabulous finale that was arranged by my son (Matt Podd).   Can you tell I’m a proud Mama?

I must say that watching Matt's face as the musicians played out his vision for this piece was just as enjoyable as hearing these these talented musicians.  This was the third time that Matt's arrangements have been played in Carnegie Hall.  The first was for the Young People's Chorus's Anniversary concert and the second was the New York Pops 1 Frank Sinatra 100th anniversary concert ! Let's Be Frank.  

The talented voices of Montego Glover, Capatha Jhenkins and Sy Smith Hunter filled the evening with magical sounds and stories of the contribution of so many talented women in America's music history from Ella Fitzgerald to Sarah Vaughan to Dinah Washington.

After the concert, we got to mingle for a bit and and join a champagne toast at a local New York Venue bar.  As it neared midnight, we left the young people to mingle and grabbed the subway to our home - a 35 foot Bluebird bus occupying a prime piece of real estate just 15 minutes outside New York City.  How's that for a magical birthday! 

Saturday, November 21, 2015

City Camping means Family Time

 Our first stop on this 2015-2016  trip (besides the overnight stay at  Saratoga Casino in NY)  was  the greater New York City area.  As a birthday present to me, Craig made reservations at Liberty Harbor RV Park in Jersey City    He took on the challenge of navigating the bus through the Jersey Turnpike and other congested highways to get us there and shelled out the almost $100 a night fee for a spot in this RV Park(ing lot). We had heard about this campground before with its $$$ price-tag, but when you think of what it offered — proximity to our kids,  a 15 minute $2.50 train ride to Manhattan,  it turned out to be a very affordable place to spend the week.  They even gave us a 7th night for free.

It was a fabulous place to camp, since it meant that we got to see family for a week and that I would spend my birthday - in Carnegie Hall sitting next to my son as the New York Pops played the world premiere of his arrangements.

 It also gave us a chance to look around and  up at this amazing city.  What a wonderful gift!

Navigating the city streets, the subway station, and taking in sites like the World Trade Center Memorial brought back lots of memories of the 18 months I lived and worked in New York.

Upon our arrival, we freshened up a bit and headed to Keyport, New Jersey to have dinner with Craig’s daughter, Maggie, and her husband, Peter.  It was Maggie’s last free night before she went into ‘tech’  for the Two Rivers Theater production of “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum”… so we jumped at the chance to take Peter and Maggie to dinner.  Except for the white knuckle drive from Jersey City to Central Jersey through rush hour, the evening was delightful. Maggie and Peter have been in this cute little house for almost a year now -- and our grand-cat Wallie almost came out of hiding to meet us. Maggie even gave us a preview of her new skill - making wigs!.    Thankfully, later in the week,  we were able to make our way back to Keyport to catch the show and take the Peter and Maggie out to dinner one more time before we left.  It was fun to watch the production thinking of Maggie's hand at at the costume changes. 

We took the next day to recoup from the busy pace of the past few weeks and to put in some work time.   On Wednesday, we took the path train  to the infamous Grand Central Station Apple store where I bought myself an early birthday present - the new iPhone 6S Plus. After two+ years learning the Android Operating system on my Nexus 5,  I was ready to move back to iOS  so that I could better integrate in the lives of my grandchildren and family while on the road. (FaceTime wins over Google Hangout when the rest of the family has iPhones and your grandchildren have an iPod touch.) I had a real hard time justifying the cost, but the family connection through FaceTime, the great camera, and a birthday splurge helped me move past the guilt of spending that much $$$ on a phone.

With a new phone in hand, we grabbed the R train to Brooklyn  to see my son, Adam, and wife, Giuliana, and admire their new coop.   Your kids feel so grown up when they get a mortgage.   Glad to see them doing well!  We camped out at their new place and then grabbed the train back to Jersey City,  where my other son, Matt, and his lady, Molly, met us for lunch.  Sooo soo cool to have so many of our kids so close to our Bluebird.

Although many campgrounds boast the tranquility of nature, this one can boast views of the city that never sleeps and a close up and personal look of the absolutely amazing transportation system that our NY and its surrounding areas has built to move millions of people and the goods they desire around.  When you think of this feat - its mind boggling.

And of course.. there’s the issue of my most incredible birthday, which deserves its own post. 

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Leaving the Pumpkin

Our blog post the first time we hit the road on a nippy fall day was called “Frost on the Pumpkin”.  As we pull away today, leaving the pumpkin behind for the next set of campers to enjoy at Shelburne Campground, its beautiful  and sunny and we’re noticing some of the trees are still filled with golden leaves. 

It’s been a hectic and emotional few days as we approached todays Departure Day.  Hectic because I have taken on more and more responsibility at our annual edtech Fall Conference and this year was in charge of two dozen exhibits in the INNOVATION Lounge along with leading 4 sessions.  

It’s been  emotional because once again I was gearing up to leave behind some of the people I love and  lots of the ‘stuff’ that makes up Lucie - stuff like some favorite clothes, some favorite dishes and glasses,  some favorite books and basically just anything I like to keep near me to create, make, read, or just look at. 
When you take your home with you,  you are very limited as to what you can take.  Three years ago, I found myself trying to pair down my shoes to what would fit in a small basket, and my clothes to what would  fit in a small closet, 3 drawers, and the overhead bins above the bed.   I stuffed books, my computer, tablets, projector and other work supplies in the limited compartments in our living area.

Predicting what you will need on the road when you LIVE, LEARN, and Make a living from the road is not easy.  This year, I found some things easier.  Lots less clothes,  (especially summer clothes), a few more warm clothes, and even a few less pairs of shoes.  I realized that I’m probably not gonna read all the books I meant to read during the year, but did bring a long a small selection of hope to read and a stash of STEM/SCIENCE/MAKER Books.  

Along with leaving the pumpkin, we decided to leave behind the inflatable kayak, which also made room for a larger supplies of maker supplies.  I aspire to dig deeper into creating, circuits, and code through this journey.  I’m sure I’ve guessed wrong on some of the stuff I brought (or didn’t bring),  especially since we are heading to new territories… but ah well  there’s no lack of Walmarts  or Goodwill stores to supply us with whatever we ‘shoulda brought” — and  thank Goodness for Amazon PRIME!  (2 day delivery comes in very handy on the road).

But although I found some things easier, I found some things harder - like leaving behind the people I love.  Thankfully I am taking with me some wonderful memories of  what a wonderful family I have.

Yesterday  I got to hang with Ryan, Sarah, and the grandkids. Loved watching Simon jumping off the rocks in a 360 to get ready for skiing;  Cedar hitting the T-Ball and pretending to slide into first base and Rosie spinning on her butt in the leaves to get a full view all around her;  all three of them sliding down the plastic slide into the leaf pile that Mama Sarah was raking and Papa Ryan holding the big stick so Cedar could pretend that he was climbing up a magical beanstalk.  As you can see from this mini movie, the memory from yesterday was a wonderful gift.

Today  my Mom, two sisters (Joanne and Chantal)  and two cousins (France and Lise) met Craig and I for a leisurely breakfast at the Guilt Plate where we not only indulged in food, but also in lots of stories and memories.  Thanks  Chantal for the nice earrings,  and thanks Joanne for retrievng them from the restaurant garbage where they ended up after our waitress cleared the table.  Both were great early birthday presents as were the memories we shared of life with 100 cousins! 

The memories of the past few days were just what I needed to make leaving just a little easier. 

And the icing on the cake was that the amazing unseasonably warm weather has made it possible for Craig to surprise me with a truly unexpected birthday present;  this morning Craig announced that he made a week long reservervation at Liberty Harbor RV Park  just outside NYC… where we can take the Path Train into New York  for $2.50. This means that our first stop on our trip will be with MORE family!  A week will not only allow us to spend time with Craig’s kids (Maggie and Peter) in NJ  but also with my kids (Adam, Matt and their wonderful ladies - Guiliana and Molly).  The icing on the cake is that I’ll get to spend my birthday at Carnegie Hall with my son Matt as the New York Pops play some of his arrangements.   What am amazing birthday present!  

From there we’ll head towards Colorado, where we’ll get to enjoy spending time with Craig’s son Warren and wife, Allison.   Currently, our itinerary will take us from Colorado to Tucson, AZ where we’ll spend a month; then a few weeks in Quartzsite (the RV boondocking capital of the world)  then off to San Diego.  Our itinerary is open for the month of February, bringing us to Austin for the month of March (including SxSw EdU and Interactive Festival). We’ll spend April making our way back to Vermont. 

Onward we go for our third season taking our Bluebird bus out of Vermont.

Friday, July 31, 2015

Back in Vermont ~ Growing Season

Photo Credit  ( © Joanne deLaBruere)
We've come to the conclusion that our time back in Vermont (April to November) is not conducive to updating the blog.

Craig moves back into a 40 hour a week job onsite at St. Albans City School (as opposed to the part-time work he does for them while we are on the road).

Lucie moves into her busy professional development season where she designs and deploys several summer institutes.  This year this included my third annual Create Make Learn Summer Institute and  two Google Tools For School Summer Institutes.

Photo Credit © Joanne deLaBruere
Any time not working on those two projects is pretty much allocated to grandkids and family.  Our limited time in Vermont has come to feel like our 'growing season' in that it is limited time to PLANT, GROW, and HARVEST  the sustenance we need for the rest of the year.   And just like my relatives who farmed needed to prioritize in ways that took advantage of Vermont's limited growing season,  I have come to realize that we too need to prioritize our Vermont time in a way that puts blogging on hold until the bus is traveling out of Vermont ( November - April).

See you in the late Fall!

Sunday, April 19, 2015

A Month in Austin - Part 2

We got to relax a little on the first day of South by South West Interactive because the programming didn't start until 11:00.  We walked to the convention center and watched the opening keynote.

We then took a shuttle bus to the other side of the lake where we spent the day at the Create center - where the makers were located.

Everything about SXSW Interactive is bigger than Edu, the Maker area is located in two large tents and an outside courtyard at the Palmer Center.  Where SXSW Edu was in two buildings, SXSW Interactive is in dozens of buildings located all over downtown Austin.

There were classrooms and meeting areas where we sat in on a gathering of Makers discussing the future of 3D Printing.  Later in the day I went to a presentation by a couple from California who were making low cost, high density housing out of used shipping containers.

When we weren't in presentations and meetings we were visiting the exhibitors.  There were clubs and vendors and educational organizations.  There was a DJ and the Boy Scouts and the Austin Electric Company with a solar display.

It was a gathering of mad scientists, tinkerers and inventors.  

When they closed down at 6:00 we walked back to the RV, less than a mile up Barton Springs Road.

The next day started with our morning walk from the RV to the Convention Center.  This walk starts on city streets then continues on a pedestrian bridge across the lake to a walking path through the park along the shore.  

We started the day by going together to a presentation called, "Killing Trinkets: 3D Printing Interactive Devices".  Then we split up and pursued our individual interests.  I finished the day with, "Beyond Privacy: Surveillance's Threat to Liberty".

I began the next day with, "Crowdsourcing the Worlds's First 3D Printed Vehicle", then in the spirit of gender equity I saw, "Geek Girls are Chic! Five Career Hacks" then, "Bill Gurley and Malcome Gladwell in Conversation" and to end the afternoon, "AI, Immortality and the Future of Selves" by Martine Rothblatt.  

The walk back to the campground at sunset was as beautiful and invigorating as the walk in that morning.

The next day the Exhibition hall opened and we discovered the back row of booths was set aside for International Makers and startups.  We were especially interested in a group of young people from Japan and a young woman who was blending fashion and robotics. 

Before the day ended we dragged our selves away from the Exhibition hall to see a presentation on, "Cuddly Drones: When Kids Design Drones" done by a group of Dutch Educators.

While we were at the Japanese Makers we were invited to a party on 6th street they were hosting later that night.  

We had dinner at some of Austin's famous food trucks - food as good as you will find at any restaurant.  

Then we checked out the scene on 6th Street, which was closed to traffic and was alive with music and Austin's weirdness. 

During SXSW all sorts of people are earning money from the huge number of visitors attending.  One staple on the Austin's Streets are bicycle taxis, where each driver tries to stand out from the crowd.

At the Japanese Makers' party I had a drink of Saki and we watched the young people dance and socialize.  Lucie and I talked with a man from Britain who was involved with some of the young peoples' businesses.   
Tuesday March 17th was the last day of SXSW Interactive, and the first day of SXSW Music.  Things were really hopping in Austin.  

I started the day with, "Malware in the Wild: Evolving to Evade Detection" then "Privacy in the age of Drone Fever".   Then I saw "The State of Surveillance" and finally "Bruce Sterling's Closing Talk".  

In between Lucie and I took in the Robot Petting Zoo, the place to be if your thing is robotics.

After that another trip up to 6th street where one of the vendors, Saloote, had invited us to a party, and to partake of Austin's weirdness.

On the way home we walked through a park in the city where they had a  display of LED sculpture that made it quite a night time destination.

The next 48 hours we rested up and Lucie packed for her trip back to Vermont.  Bright and early the 3rd day Lucie flew to Vermont for a busy 10 days where she taught a group of middle school girls how to program flowers to blink and fade in C++.  Organized and hosted a state wide recognition day for teachers who use technology.  Presented at a  Kindergarten Teachers' conference.  Presented at a Science Leaders Meeting.  Worked at the Generator Maker Space in Burlington.  Visited our Grandchildren and visited her Mom and Sisters.

I was on vacation.  I had some projects around the RV, rebuilt the toilet and replaced a furnace.

I took long walks almost every day (that the weather was good).

I ate lots of BBQ!  Austin has good Barbecue.  I got together with Terry Sayther and Debbie Stuart, fellow Wanderlodge owners who live in Austin.  They saw our bus and left a note on the door one day.  When Lucie returned we all went out to the edge of town to the Salt Lick to have what they described as the best BBQ in Austin.  It was delicious!

Discovered a nice place to go out for a beer about a two mile walk from the campground (Ginger Man).

One night I went back to 6th street and heard a great blues guitarist.

I really enjoyed late March in Austin.  Pecan Grove was mellow and warm.  The leaves were coming out on the Pecan trees and life was good.

April 1st Lucie came back from Vermont and on April 3rd we headed out of Austin, beginning our trip back home to Vermont.