Wednesday, June 30, 2010

British Museum 2: Lion Hunt, 860 BCE

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These series of bas-reliefs commemorate a royal lion hunt by the Assyrian King Ashurnasirpal II, 883 - 859 BCE.

Photo details: photo6: note the emblem of the lion atop the King's bow; photo10: hunters use nets to capture stags; photo13: the hunting party returns with, in addition to the lions, birds and rabbits, shown in this relief.

British Museum 1

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Photos (top to bottom): photo1: main entrance to the museum; photo2: the interior of the museum, the largest covered space in Europe; photo3: in the Africa exhibit, contemporary pieces are placed alongside older work, expressing a continuity of style and form; photo4: fish masks, some from the Bijagos Archipeligo, off the coast of Guinea-Bassau; photo5: the hands of Buddha (the specific gesture indicates that he is teaching); photo6: one of a set of life-size ceramic sculptures that once stood outside a Buddhist temple; photo7: sarcophagus from the Ptolemaic Dynasty; photo8: cat mummy; photo9: hand-axe from Pre-Dynastic Egypt; photo10: helmet and skull, together crushed; photo11-13: cuneiform tablets, recording the flood story (from the Epic of Gilgamesh), the phases of the planet Venus, and a list of synonyms; photo14: the Cyrus Cylinder, recording the conquest of Babylon in 539 BCE; photo15: bust in a room of Roman sculptures; photo16: museum visitors crowd around the Rosetta Stone; photo17: Ramses-the-Great; photo18: Minoan bull-jumping.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Carmel Valley Wildlife

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Two weeks in Carmel Valley. I hesitate to describe it as my home now, it's not quite that. But having spent many years here, the house and property hold many memories.

The Ayres' family home will soon welcome a new generation, as the grandkids now have families of their own. Randi has mentioned baby-proofing the place, not a small task. No doubt Christmas will be celebrated with much cheer, as the home continues to be a center of gravity for the family.

It's very quiet here. At all times of the day, the loudest sounds are birdsong, and the hiss of blood flowing in my ears.

Without a dog, the local wildlife has moved in. Deer have passed, nonchalant, just along the house. We've seen grey fox, both during the day and at night. Wild turkeys wandered through the backyard yesterday, four adults and a dozen babies.

It's amazingly quiet.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

The Summer Holiday: Two Weeks in Carmel Valley

Thoughts/impressions of being in Carmel Valley:

I'm here for a relatively short time, about two weeks, before heading out to Europe. It will be a brief visit, taken up with relaxing, visiting with friends, and shopping -- both for gifts and the necessities for a third year in Dakar.

I notice how situation-specific memories/habits reveal themselves in context, particularly in the car: navigating along the winding Laurelis Grade Road; the reflex to turn on the car radio as if to fill a stretch of silence; having a perfect, fully-operational internal road map of the peninsula; observing the spinning of an American restaurant schema -- seating/ordering/paying exchanges. I've had to be reminded of simple procedures, as yesterday in using my ATM card. As I advanced to check-out in Safeway, I wondered, now, how do I do this?

In the first several days, Abdul and Almamy were with me, and we felt/shared impressions of America. Their presence has faded now -- a reason to have their images prominently hung in my home after leaving Senegal, as reminder of a displaced cultural perspective.

In the moment, here at 7 in the morning in Carmel Valley, the overwelming impression is one of natural beauty and calm. It is extraordinarily quiet. Three deer were wandering through the back pasture this morning. Two foxes were scavenging just out the back door early yesterday evening, in full light. The oaks in the back are the size of office buildings, and probably weight as much.

Achilles is a bobcat without the ears. Were you to see him in the field, you'd say, hey, there's a bobcat out there. But Achilles isn't a bobcat, he's just a very big cat, formidable, a very proficient gopher hunter whose taken up residence with us. He's a lap-cat whose inclined to move in and take up residence on the couch.

Meals with old friends: Sanka & Jacque (10th graders); Anna (11th grade); Daniel (9th grade) and his mum Shirley; Eliya (9th grade) and her mum Galia; next week Riley (8th grade) and the Gaucher family. On Monday night, Tim is hosting a Senegal night, with the Deoudes, Grobecker and Butcher families and friends coming to hear about West Africa.

Returning to Monterey means a much expanded social/sports' calendar: Matty's playing basketball (he was the high scorer for his freshman team), and Daniel will be playing football for Stevenson; Misha's playing football and Sasha's swimming for Carmel High; Anna's running track and cross-country for Monterey High (she's one of the top runners in the County as a sopmore); Haley's still involved in synchronized swimming (she's qualified Nationals this year); Anna, Peter and Iljin are continuing to perform for the Monterey Youth Orchestra.

There will be many high school graduations to attend over the next half-dozen years. Such is the benefit of teaching, and maintaining contact with kids and families: we track the passage of time through the growth and change of our children.

Gifts: Fishing tackle and wind-up generator lights for Almamy's uncle; daypacks for Almamy; notebook computer for Oumar; an ornate, milagro-covered, Mexican-style Christian cross for Lena; I've ordered Ouspensy's Fragments d'un Enseignement Inconnu for Adbdul. I still need to pick-up something more for Lena (with Tim?), and Abdul's children.

Other quick notes: David Awerbach, Mara's pop, and a prominent local pediatric surgeon, has agreed to assist with identifying a neurologist to advise on Almamy's condition. A small, local custom wetsuit manufacturer, OtterBay, has agreed to advise on the sewing of wetsuits, and accessing materials, both re sewing and neoprene.

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An afternoon/evening with Tim, Maya, Karl & Penny.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

A Tribute to ISM's Graduating 8th Grade


Images of the graduating 8th graders as second graders at the Larkin Campus in Old Monterey.
Reeve
Izzie
Eliya
Anthony




Reece & Andrew
Skye-Marie (and a BIG plate of spaghetti)
After the infamous Writing100

It is a milestone for the International School of Monterey (ISM), with the graduation of the first class of children who entered as Kinders nine years ago. I know many of the kids and their families well, having been their teacher in grades 2, 3 and 6. Grades 2 and 3 were particularly memorable for me, when we were located at the Larkin Campus, in a historic area of Old Monterey. I had carte blanche to develop project/place-based, inquiry/understanding-centered units, with the community engagement and financial support to back it up. The students were recognized as exceptional from a young age -- smart, innovative/clever, warm and fun.

Their graduation this week was also a symbol that ISM had moved into a new stage of its growth and maturation. No longer is the school a good idea in its infancy/adolescence; ISM is now an established program. Like its graduating class, the school enters young adulthood. Given the political milieu, with abysmal funding, in a state on the verge of financial collapse, ISM putts along, fueled in part by parent contributions of time, enthusiasm, and cash.

The graduation ceremony was excellent, just what it needed to be, setting a new standard for future classes. Speeches by Neeli, Zoe, Cristian and Eliya were spot on. Cudos to Marie, Lisa, Richard, and all involved.

MAOS (the Monterey Academy for the Oceanographic Sciences) is receiving 20+ ISMers next year, and becomes, in effect, a secondary satellite campus of the International School. I've heard that our students (I still count myself in as part of the community) have already raised the bar for admissions.

With the graduation of this class, ISM has become, for me, a relatively unfamiliar place. While I did work with a handful of entering grade 8s as 3rd graders, I know few others, save a smattering of siblings. My hope is that ISM continues to embrace the marine sciences, and the plethora of cutting-edge marine-related resources on the Peninsula, combining with and deepening its international mission. It's a natural fit.

Congratulations to the graduating class.

Friday, June 4, 2010

ISD Talent Show!

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Photos (top to bottom): photo1: 6th grader, Vanessa, performs with the presence of a pro; photo2: ISD Counselor, Tokunbo, dances salsa; photo3: middle school trio; photo4: the show-stopper: ISD staff perform Michael Jackson's Thriller, in full costume, make-up and choreography; photo5/6: high school rock band; photo7: grade 7 student, Yuki; photo8: a 5th grade duet; photo9: 6th grade Sofie, joined by several other middle school girls, models fashions that they themselves designed and created.

For clips, see: