Monday, October 27, 2008

Seems 7 is becoming the thing

It appears that I've gotten into the habit of writing about 7 posts a month. Not a bad number I suppose. I would have liked to have posted a bit earlier, as I have quite a few pictures from the past two weekends, but I ended up being quite sick the past week, and therefore didn't really have the energy to do a whole lot. So here I'm finally getting around to it.
So the weekend before this most recent one I went out to Ostrava to visit the girls there. A few people from the Prague group were there as well. I took the immensely long trip out to Ostrava all by my lonesome, and spent over 3 hours standing, which was far from pleasant as I was already coming down with a rather nasty cold. By the time I finally got there I was pretty much exhausted, but we still had a good time going out and seeing a bit of the city.
After a late night out, we all enjoyed sleeping in before our trip out to Helfstyn where we spent the later part of the afternoon. It was a good 5k hike to get there, so we really wanted to make the most of our time there, and had way too much fun taking photos of the amazing castle and it's grounds.

So yeah, we had a little crazy fun. In the last picture Laura wanted them to all look like they were crazy squirrels. Of course the nuts they were eating were pistachios, and I don't know if squirrels regularly eat that variety or not. Ah well.
Then, this weekend Laura, Jonathan and I took advantage of possibly the last good weekend of the year, and we went to Loket. It's really one of my favorite places in Czech, and we were not disappointed. We did the castle right, torture chamber and all, and then walked out to the amazing rock outcroppings along the river. It's a good 6k to get there, so once again I got a decent amount of exercise!

I have to say that the pumpkins at tea, joined by the cat, really cracked me up. They just looked so relaxed hanging out there. Good times.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Sick of being sick

Funny how that didn't take long. I spent all day today lying on my couch bed watching Lord of the Rings and going back and forth between drinking hot lemonade with honey, and cold grapefruit flavored sparkly water. I did teach in the morning, as there really aren't any other options, but it was nice to be able to just chill out for the rest of the day. I only have two classes tomorrow, one at 9 and one at 5, so I should be able to rest a bit in there, but I teach ten hours on Thursday, and I'm really hoping to be feeling better by then. Being sick is pretty much miserable. It's just a cold, but I'm pretty sure I was feverish on Sunday and Monday for sure. I'm feeling a bit better, but not exactly ready to run all over the place, and I was looking forward to doing something interesting this weekend.
I have lots of fun pictures from this past weekend, but I'll put them up later when I'm not feeling so ridiculously exhausted. How can one be tired after lying on a couch all day? That's what I really want to know!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Attempting not to cough up a storm

Well the weeks almost up, and I think I've just about got everything planned for tomorrow's insane US history in a day event. I get to cover the exciting topics of the American Revolution and the Wild West all in the matter of one hour! I think I can manage to squeeze the Revolution down to size, but the more I look at all there is in the Wild West, the more I realize that I could talk about this topic for absolute ages!
Of course the point is that I'm not really supposed to just be talking about it, but finding someway to get my students to engage with the topic. As of now, I've narrowed down about 5 Tall Tales, together with short bios of several big time real life characters, and a handful of major events that help define the expansion of our country and the idea of Manifest Destiny. I think it has the potential to be a lot of fun, and I sorta wish I had a whole day just to devote to the Wild West in particular.
Now that I've got the project mostly under control I need to head on out and pick up some supplies for my pilgrimage across the country tomorrow. Gotta get me some qual-i-ty vittles for this event! Honestly, after reading Tall Tales for a while I'm having trouble not speaking with a special "country" accent. My poor students this evening!
I'm battling off a cold just now as well. I figure if I just keep myself excessively busy my body will realize that it really doesn't have time to be sick. It's a thought at least. We'll see how it all works out.
I'm heading off for Ostrava tomorrow, and looking forward to visiting everyone out there for a couple of days. If only Czech trains were a wee bit faster (sigh). But the autumn colors are really quite amazing this time of year, so at least there's that to enjoy. I'm just hoping I manage to get a seat. I think I'll be cutting it close when I transfer in Prague, and the train to Ostrava tends to be packed on Fridays, so anyone who wants to pray this all along smoothly I'd be much obliged to.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

A little time in Breclav

This past weekend I made a trek down to the small Moravian town of Breclav. The city is located just north of the Slovakian border, and took about 9 hours to get to from Cheb. The reason for going: a CA meeting. This was a chance to get together with the other "Central Administrators" in the Central European Region. A total of 8 of us were there, three from Czech, a couple from Slovakia, and two girls from Hungary, along with Kelly our Field Director. Lots of big titles, I know. Anyhow, this weekend was mostly a chance for us to go over what our objectives are for this year in Central Europe, and to get to know each other a bit.
As part of the "get to know each other" session, Kelly had each one of us speak about ourselves for 3 minutes. While most balked at this extremely large time, I took it all in stride. It reminded me a bit of when we played a game at 180 where you were supposed to talk about some topic for as long as possible without repeating any words except the usually fillers and the topic words in question. My words were "Cheese" and "Alaska." This was before I actually lived in Alaska, but I managed to talk about it for more than a minute and a half before Derek just stopped me and said I'd won hands down :) So this challenge wasn't overly worrisome for me.
While the first few people talked about their names, and the origin of said names, I opted to talk about my alternate personalities of yore: Sema, and Super-bionic Power Girl! Oh, those were the days. When I used to wander around the forests of Horse Creek, wrapped safely in the wealth of my own over active imagination with ten or twenty Timmy's by my side...
We spent all day on Saturday in meetings. My little body, worn out by long hours spent on the train, couldn't take any more sitting, and I spent most of the afternoon session standing up so as not to fall apart all together.

I stood up to take this picture of the entire crew giving Kelly their rapt attention!
Around 4:30, when we were done with the official sessions, the real craziness began. Clearly my mind had been stifled for too long, and the "artsy" side decided to take over.
The hostel we stayed in was backed up to a Zamek (chatteau) which is basically a castle without fortifications. The day was positively spectacular, and the autumn sun was beginning to set, turning the colored leaves a positively vivid shade. Laura and Emeshea were happy to give into the madness of my mind as well, and a photo shoot ensued. Hey, at least this time I wasn't totally by myself, right?

That last picture is of a modern church that one of my students told me about before I went so I wanted to make sure I got it in there somewhere. And isn't my roommate just way too cute? We're really just a couple of posers.
After the day of meetings we had another horrifyingly long train ride home. After two days on the train like that I wasn't sure I ever wanted to see a train again. However, I'm off for a similarly long trip this weekend as well. Only this time I'll be going it alone (sigh). I'm heading out to Ostrava to see my CA crew over there, and check out the town. While Naomi and I passed through the train station there on our way to Krakow, I've never actually been there, so it'll be good to see it.
Now I'd best see if I can come up with anything interesting for the presentation I have to do on American History on Friday!

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Dnes je čtvyrtek...

Translation: Today is Thursday. And, as the calendar would have it, this is the day designated as my "Name's Day." Every day of the Czech Calendar is assigned a name, or two. Today it belongs to both Stefan and Sára. So it's not exactly my spelling, and generally I freak out if people misspell me, but it's a bit different in this case.
Most people don't do a whole lot in honor of their Name's Day, but some do have small celebrations, or give small gifts like chocolate. Kinda don't think I'll be getting anything, but it's just fun to know that October 9th is in honor of my name.
It's been a long day and actually a rather long week. This weekend is likely to be a bit draining as well. I'm heading off to Břeclav for the weekend to attend the CA retreat. I'm a bit nervous about the bed situation. Honestly that tends to be my biggest fear when traveling. I like being able to sleep at night, at least a little bit, and if the beds are too hard I just don't. I've been blessed in my overseas living situations to have always ended up with some sort of extra soft mattress, be it an egg crate or something similar, so that I could actually sleep. But when I stay in hostels and the like, it doesn't always work out that way.
Well, my class is about to start, so I should probably get myself organized. I have two more classes tonight and then I get to go home after 12 hours in the office. Tomorrow we're beginning our unit on America in our daily classes. I'm a bit nervous about how things will play out for it, at least this first time. I've giving a little presentation on American landscape. Unfortunately I deleted a lot of my best pictures this summer to make more room for European pictures. Whatever was I thinking?

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Autumn in Cheb

So Sunday the weather was pretty much perfect. A crisp fall day with a clear blue sky. The leaves crunching under my shoes like crumbled paper. I went for a walk and took in the colors and the smells. Something in the air must have been overly, I don't know, heady or some such. The next thing I knew I was taking pictures left and right and a mini self photo shoot ensued. We all know by now that I'm a total poser, but perhaps I was taking things a bit too far??? You be the judge.

So there you have it. I'm officially off my rocker! (sigh)
the day really was pretty much amazing though. I wandered around for a long time and took a lot of pictures. Well, I was going to put some more on right now, but suddenly there are more people and I'm feeling a little rude, so I'd best go, but I do have more to post, and hopefully it will happen before too terribly long. I have been having a horrid time with my internet lately, but maybe one of these days I will be able to actually be more connected. It's at least an idea.
Okay, so I'm still here so I'm going to add a few more pictures of the fall day. It really was quite amazing.

And I just adored this mother and daughter flying their kite!

Okay, so that's probably enough for now. Just wanted you to be able to enjoy the beauty of God's creation with me :)

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Chaos in the Translation...

There are times when living in a foreign country can lead to a sense of panic. Everywhere you go there are signs you don't understand. Every whispered conversation you hear could potentially be about you, and you'd be none the wiser. You can walk around in a state of blissful euphoria that you can't really be blamed for anything because, essentially, you can honestly say you didn't know.
But every now and then, there are moments when not knowing can cause a pretty serious problem. Or at least it's a possibility. So five minutes ago when a voice came over the loudspeaker piped up from hypernova (the supermarket downstairs from Winfield) repeating some calm and yet urgent message over and over in both Czech and German, I couldn't help but be curious. Was the building ablaze? Had noxious chemicals been released through the heating vents? Were man eating squirrels taking over the nut aisle? So many questions I was helpless to answer.
Oh to be blessed with multilingual abilities! Jarmila, my boss, was kind enough to go down stairs and ask what had happened. Apparently an air conditioner repairman (why they were repairing the air con on a cold rainy day like today I have absolutely no idea) had merely touched something he shouldn't have.
But it really can be disconcerting. Those moments when your train mysteriously stops in the middle of nowhere, or simply never arrives at the station to begin with; when clerks begin trying to explain something to you about a product you're trying to purchase and suddenly decide you don't get to have it after all, or that your money is too dirty to pay for it; when your french fries arrive all crunchy and overcooked and there's no way to return them or ask for your money back; when you read a screen saver in a coffee shop and it talks about "consummation" being a prerequisite for internet use and you're pretty sure they aren't running a Las Vegas wedding chapel in the back room. There really can be some chaos mixed in there.
After ten minutes they finally got the alarm to shut down and classes resumed. So we didn't have to use the evacuation plans we'd been discussing in class earlier, and now all is well and I think I'm going to go down to hypernova to get some lunch.
Na shledanou. (feeling confused yet???)