Sunday, November 25, 2012


Be prepared for a bit longer post this time around. I decided to wait until the end of Thanksgiving week to put together an entry. Lots to talk about.

The photos from my "Science is..." project finally came in the mail; so, first thing Monday morning I made a couple collages and put them up on the wall. Had students checking it out all day. I'm rather happy with the way it turned out. Definitely my favorite project we've done in class so far.

I had a guest speaker in on Monday morning for my Earth and Space science classes. He talked to my students about exoplanets - planets around other suns/outside of our solar system. He knew a lot about the research that is being done and is really interested in it. It was nice for my students hear someone else talk about astronomy (the unit we are currently on) and someone who is really excited about. Some of it got a little technical, but overall it went well. One class was really engaged and asking questions throughout the presentation. These students can definitely be a tough crowd, which I warned the speaker about ahead of time.

Rumor had it that we would be having some sort of "Field Day" on Wednesday, so probably not much for class time. I decided it might be a good idea to wait on more textbook material until the start of the new week and give a fun presentation on my experience working at the zoo a few summers ago. I have so much fun standing up there talking about my experience there, the fun animal facts I know, and why I enjoyed that job. Outreach education! Definitely don't think I am cut out for being a full time classroom teacher. Outreach education is where my passion in science education lies. Whenever people ask me what part of science I really enjoy, my answer always is "Outreach education", which I then usually have to explain. I describe my experiences with the Creature Outreach program I was a part of at Morningside College and my camp counselor job at the Blank Park Zoo.

I had put together a slideshow of photos I had taken at the Blank Park Zoo that I then talked about. I hadn't really realized this before until one of my students pointed it out, but this Grey crown-crested crane from Africa is totally doing the disco.

Dropped the last period of the day on Tuesday for teachers to go vote in the runoff election. They had so many candidates the first time around for Governor and Lt. Governor that they had a runoff election between the top two contenders, which is pretty common here. I grabbed some soft-serve ice cream, finished some grading, and did some reading on my computer before heading to Zumba class. Still doing Zumba class Tuesdays and Thursdays. The instructor that led our small Tafuna class before we joined up with these others said to me," Boy you sure are consistent about coming, aren't you?" You bet I am :-) I told him how I exercise at home the other days, and some times even come home after Zumba and do another little workout. I like to change it up, so it's nice to have Zumba two days a week.

Arrived Wednesday morning to find the schedule of the day to say 1st Period and then Field Day activities. No lunch we asked of the office? Lunch is being served with breakfast. Tell the kids to eat now. We went to breakfast to find that they literally were serving both lunch and breakfast - so twice the food. "Oye," was all Hannah and I had to say to that. haha

So Field Day was practically just a little competition among the different classes. It was funny for me to watch all these darker skinned island kids hide from the sun. Left school about 10:30 that morning as I wasn't finding the competition too exciting.

Stopped at a produce stand on my way home for some banans and a papaya. This was my first papaya I had purchased. I had them at school and liked them, but then as I cut it open I found this little surprise. Fascinating how there is this perfect star shape inside. Biology fascination moment.

Ended up in a spontaneous Skype date with the Stocks - Uncle Ron and Aunt Kristin before I did my workout for the day. Nice to talk with them and catch up :-) Hannah and I were the only ones home for this long weekend, so Wednesday was the beginning of lots of chats about whatever, chilling, and little adventures.

Thursday morning I was able to Skype into the Wingert family Thanksgiving and chat a bunch with my grandparents. My younger cousins all popped in and said hello, and it was cool to see everyone and talk with them even though I wasn't physically sitting in the same room. Gotta love technology for allowing us to come together like that.

Then, Hannah and I went to the picnic Thanksgiving lunch at church. Here's the boys grilling the BBQ chicken. It was cool to watch them use these leaves to spread water and oils as they cooked rather than a brush like I would see back home.

Okay so you see lots of chicken. After church Wednesday night, it sounded like there was going to be a lot of meat at this Thanksgiving picnic. I made some stuffing to bring, and I wasn't super optimistic about being able to eat a vegetarian Thanksgiving plate. Surely someone would suggest I try this or that and I would have kindly obliged. There was sashimi (raw fish), little spring rolls that had meat instead of veggies, turkey, and BBQ chicken. For the non-meat options I found white rice, my stuffing, mashed potatoes, steamed veggies, salad, and dinner rolls. I did it! I successfully ate a vegetarian plate at my Samoan Thanksgiving. Felt pretty good, and I know some of you will likely roll your eyes when you read that. haha All delicious stuff and quite satisfying.

There was some volleyball being played prior to lunch, and I partook in a few games. It was fun, and I think I was a little better at it than they expected.

This is what your feet look like when you play volleyball on a parking lot covered in black lava rock.

Can't forget dessert. Had some rocky road ice cream in a cone and a piece of pumpkin pie. Yes, I did just say pumpkin pie. I didn't really anticipate having pumpkin pie this Thanksgiving. Mmmm. Got Hannah and I talking about some different things we eat back home, some of those things you think about around the Holidays - especially a Holiday away from home. Still not a homesick feeling, just fun to talk about. You'll see me mention that again later in this post - one of these foods I thought of. Then, I spent the afternoon doing lots of reading. Got a workout in, of course. Had to work off some of those Thanksgiving calories ;-)

Friday morning Hannah and I grabbed breakfast at what was Primo's and has now taken on the name Saula's. We've been wanting to try this place out for quite some time and finally did it. I had french toast and fruit. Look, it's french toast made from french bread. How cool is that? Delicious stuff, very friendly staff - the chef even stopped by to see how everything was.

We then took a bus into town. I got off just on the edge of Utulei to go on a little hike. I took the Blunt's point trail, which takes you up and along the mountain past several WWII gun sights. I hadn't been on a decent hike in a while, and boy was I dripping the sweat like crazy. I noticed how wet the strap around my little camera was getting from being around my wrist. Next thing, I know my camera shut off. Appeared some of my sweat must have dripped in by the battery. Ugh. I knew it would be okay after it aired out a bit, but I was having fun taking random photos along my way. Then, I see this crab who was living in a Gerber jar. Yes, the Gerber jar was his shell. Crazies thing, and my camera wasn't working at the time. I'm sure you can picture this for yourself, but man I sure do wish I could have gotten a picture of him.

When, I got to this spot where I could see the harbor below and felt a nice breeze, I decided to sit for a while and read my book. I also let my camera sit out in hopes that it would dry out some. That did the trick, it turned back on for me after that. I almost went back on the trail looking for the crab with a jar for his shell, but I figure he could be anywhere by now. Instead, I enjoyed the nice spot I had found, reading 3 chapters of "Clockwork Angel".

I decided I should head back on the trail as I had plans to possibly catch up with Hannah and grab some ice cream before we headed back home. I kept going on the trail, and then I end up in someone's back yard. I kept going and found myself among many houses up along the mountainside. I always wondered about the houses up there, and now I found them. I almost felt like I was in Greece for some reason walking down the steps in between the houses of Fagatago.

Finally meandered my way out to the main road around 12, which was nice timing as I just received a message from Hannah asking if I wanted to meet for ice cream. I took a photo of the mountains behind Utulei, so you can picture me walking along the top of these. That's what my hike was for the morning. Definitely not a long hike, but I was taking my time, enjoying myself, and sat and read for a while.

After Samu's ice cream - the best on island (it's homemade), we headed home to Pava'ia'i. Did some more reading, researching on the Internet, and relaxing. So, one of the home foods I found myself craving after talkin with Hannah about them, I decided to make some rice pudding. She had no idea what I was talking about. Found myself sitting in the Midwest as I was eating this. Nice bowl of warm white rice, drenched in milk, with a sprinkling of cinnamon on top :-)

I got to talk with one of my mentors from college on the phone for about an hour on Friday, which was cool. Bruce is currently living in Minneapolis on his sabbatical from Morningside. He's working on a book. It was great to catch up on the phone.

Saturday morning I had a Skype date with the Boschen family Thanksgiving. Got to see everybody there, which was nice. The connection ended up dropping, but it was nice while it lasted and I wanted them to all get to enjoying their time together. Love all of my family, and it was nice of them all to try to include me for a bit on the family gathering virtually since I couldn't physically be  there. I am mighty thankful for my family :-)

Hannah and I met up with Sara, one of the volunteer teachers in town, to help check the mail. I had a few letters. One from my Granny B and one from my friend in Amanda in Kansas. Sending and getting mail is rather fun. Everyone I Skyped with this week asked what was hanging on the wall behind me, and I explained it is all of the mail I get. Covering more wall little by little :-)

We got a ride with a family to drop off the packages at Sara's house for the other volunteers, and then they offered to take Hannah and I home as they were heading that way. Score! Sat in the back of the truck with Krystal, who I discovered is the sister of a guy who comes to Zumba class. I recognized her dad up front. She was fun to chat with and very friendly. We ended up having them drop us off at Saula's, the place we had breakfast the day before, as we wanted to try lunch there and then just relax for a bit. Nice place, good food, friendly staff, plus they have A/C and Wi-Fi. We were both looking for a few hours of sitting in some A/C. A little luxury on the nice long weekend.

I've felt a little sinus infection or cold coming on again, so I was looking forward to enjoying some coffee while we sat in the A/C. I start sweating more when I drink something like this at home. haha I mean come on I sweat just sitting in my room reading at 8am, as the Boschens noticed that morning when we Skyped. I'm used to it, though. Not complaining. Look at how cute and sophisticated my coffee looks. They also brought out some complimentary muffins for us to try.

I ordered the house salad, and then the chef came out and introduced himself asking for our names. He then asked if I was a vegetarian  Yes. He said he's been looking at adding some more vegetarian options to his menu, including a lentil loaf - so like meatloaf without the meat. Kind of exciting that there's going to be a restaurant on the island that has a few vegetarian options laid out. We will definitely be back.

I'd say this little place is about a 25 minute walk from home, but with the beating sun we weren't in the mood for walking all the way home. Grabbed a pineapple at the produce stand before waiting for a bus or ride. I had my thumb out, and this nice chatty guy picked us up and drove us all the way home. Two free rides in one day, gotta love it :-)

I did not pick up a pineapple just because we were interested in some fresh fruit this time. You all know how much I'm loving the fresh fruit here, though. Hannah had the brilliant idea that we should make a little Samoan Christmas tree. We decided a pineapple top would make a good little tree. Then, we added some different pieces of Samoa. Here it is - our little island Christmas tree:

Did some more reading. I ended up finishing "Clockwork Angel" before 5:00. Here's the stack of books that have come in the mail from my mom. Not all in one package - a couple different ones. I have now read the red one, yellow one, and gray one. Started on the one you see at the bottom, then I will be opening the mystery ones. They may be in Christmas wrapping paper, but she said as soon as I finish the others I can open them up. Remember, can't be without a good book :-) I may have to think more about investing in a Kindle one of these days. I just love the feel of a book, but a Kindle might be handy for traveling endeavors in the future. I'm such a nerd some times. haha

We've talked about an official night of bat watching for a while. Just something we wanted to do since they flying foxes are sort of unique here. I suggested we do it one day this weekend.  Sliced up some fruit, grabbed a few cups of yogurt to dip them in, and one bottle of Moscatto. Hannah and I took our goodies up the hill where we knew the bats flew right down and around, plus there's this nice view in the background. We do have bats down by our house, but it was nice to sit up at a different spot, watch the bats, chat, and enjoy ourselves.

It was cool to watch the clouds and lighting change above the ocean.

I'm not much of a wildlife photographer, but this was one shot I got that made me think of Transylvania  haha. Nice way to end a Saturday - some bat watching with my roommate.

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