Sunday, March 31, 2013

Poem for Sunday and Ithaca College

In Tenebris
By Ford Madox Ford

All within is warm,
   Here without it's very cold,
   Now the year is grown so old
And the dead leaves swarm.

In your heart is light,
   Here without it's very dark,
   When shall I hear the lark?
When see aright?

Oh, for a moment's space!
   Draw the clinging curtains wide
   Whilst I wait and yearn outside
Let the light fall on my face.


Quickie in the midst of unpacking because we got up early Saturday morning to go to Ithaca College, which has a very good photography program and communications school in a gorgeous setting (it's right near Cornell, which we visited two years ago with Daniel so we didn't take the tour again). The campus tour of Ithaca was very impressive; the communications school itself was also impressive though we had the two most garrulous tour guides in history. My friend Jason lives in Ithaca, though I hadn't realized how close to the school, so he came and met us for lunch at the cafeteria buffet in the Commons. We walked back to the admissions building by the school pond under the trees.

We drove home through scenic, mountainous New York and Pennsylvania with scarcely a cloud in the sky, encountering so little traffic that we made it home for dinner around 8 p.m. with a stop at the food store to restock. Then we came home and had veggie chicken cutlets and tried to keep the cats entertained (unpacking always useful since it provides empty bags and boxes to sit in). Having missed the first showing, we watched the 11 p.m. Doctor Who rerun, which was entertaining and had an awesome guest star, though the plot reminded me overmuch of an X-Files episode -- I think the one William Gibson wrote. Sunday is going to involve cleanup chores for us; have a lovely Easter if you celebrate!

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Greetings from Ithaca

We started Friday at R.I.T., which really needs to rethink its campus tours. They begin in Brick City, the academic campus built in the 1960s when the school moved out of downtown Rochester, so it's a lot of industrial-looking buildings with impressive facilities and little warmth, but then they head to the eco-friendly new courtyard, student union, residential halls, athletic facilities, fantastic freshman dining hall where we had lunch (huge salad bar, waffle buffet, two ice cream buffets, and about ten food stations with varied daily entries -- I got spicy tofu, Mongolian rice, some salad, a couple of cheese fries and I don't remember what else). Again we saw a family from our area we've known for years! Adam ended up liking the school a lot. Here are some pics, including the tiger mascot and a painting of the Enterprise on a wall in the tunnel that links the dorms:

In the late afternoon we made several awesome stops: first the Women's Rights National Historical Park at Seneca Falls, site of the influential convention at which Elizabeth Cady Stanton presented the Declaration of Sentiments (Frederick Douglass was in attendance at the invitation of Elizabeth McClintock); then the shore of Cayuga Lake, the longest of the Finger Lakes; and finally Taughannock Falls State Park, where we stopped first at the high overlook, then at the trail to the base of the falls which winds through the woods for about 3/4 of a mile (we got rained on but the view was well worth it, photos to come). We are staying in a motel in Ithaca and ate Indian food in our hotel room while watching Michigan upset Kansas in overtime, since we can't get the WB to watch Nikita here. Tomorrow night we'll be home and hopefully can find it On Demand.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Greetings from Rochester

Thursday morning started much like Wednesday, with Adam getting up to go running, though since the Cresthill Suites had a fairly nice gym he did it on the treadmill. Then we had breakfast and went to Syracuse University, first going to a general Q&A where we ran into Toby Morse and her younger son -- I've known her since before he or Adam was born, she invited me to a baby group when our older sons were newborns. We took tours of the campus, which is quite pretty though every single building seems to have a different architectural style. After lunch we went to an information session at the Newhouse communications school, which is extremely impressive both in terms of its facilities (we even got to watch a student horror movie getting its sound effects) and its internships and networking opportunities. I believe it may be Adam's first choice at the moment, though we haven't been to Rochester or Ithaca yet, let alone anywhere south of DC.

Hogwarts (well, actually not, but apparently some visitors ask).

Syracuse's onetime mascot "The Saltine Warrior" (unsurprisingly, the local Native Americans suggested that this be changed, so now it's an orange).

Studying with George Washington in Maxwell Hall.

Walking past Abraham Lincoln outside Maxwell Hall.

A peek inside the Carrier Dome (we heard a LOT about tonight's game).

Lockerbie Memorial (35 Syracuse students died on the flight).

Fraternity house in urgent need of repair.

Hall of Languages (a.k.a. the Addams Family House).

We ate lunch at the local Chipotle between the general campus and Newhouse tours and left campus in the late afternoon to drive to Rochester. We went into the city to see Genesee Falls, right in the middle of the city with fantastic views from the Pont du Rennes footbridge, and the wonderful ruins in the Brown's Race district, including what's left of Triphammer Forge and Phoenix Mill, plus the High Falls Heritage Area Visitor Center in the Brown's Race Market building. Then we came to the Microtel just outside the city, which is not as nice as the Cresthill Suites but has a microwave where we had leftover cassoulet for dinner, watched Beauty and the Beast which had great stuff happen this week, and now we are watching the Syracuse-Indiana game which I am kind of hoping Indiana wins because the entire world may apply to Syracuse if they become the NCAA champions this year, though it looks like Syracuse will indeed win this round!

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Greetings from Syracuse

On Wednesday morning Adam got up very early to go running before breakfast at our hotel, which we then departed around 9:15 a.m. to tour the University of Hartford. The school was on spring break, so it was hard to get any sense of its energy (when we visited Bucknell with Daniel over summer break, it was so dead that both kids were very turned off, though Adam's girlfriend Maddy visited it today and liked it somewhat better) -- it has a good communications department and an excellent photography department, both of which are priorities, and the campus is pretty, with a bridge over a river separating the academic and residential parts. Here are a few photos taken in a rush while in the tour group:

We had lunch in an IHOP in Hartford, then drove through the Berkshires -- which had quite a bit of snow at the side of the road, as well as deer and numerous beaver dams and lodges in the many creeks -- plus an accidental side trip through Schenectady when we made a wrong turn on the way to Syracuse. We are staying at an awesome Cresthill Suites that is a million times better than the Days Inn in Hartford for only $20 more, with a full kitchen that we didn't even end up using because they also had a happy hour with free beer and wine that also had free salad and bratwursts. We watched Nashville, which is like Dallas with country music and worse dialogue -- The Americans wasn't on -- and now must sleep for another early tour!

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Greetings from Hartford

We spent Tuesday driving north along the route we used to take several times a year to Paul's parents when they lived in Hartford, which is where we are spending the night so we can visit the University of Hartford in the morning. It was chilly and drizzled a bit but there is less snow on the ground here than there was when we left Maryland. We paused to eat sandwiches at a New Jersey Turnpike rest stop, then spent an hour in Paterson to see Passaic Falls along the river fault line -- the town also has wonderful original buildings and the guy who works at the cultural center clearly thinks it is the best city in the U.S., which is always very entertaining. A few photos of the falls and power plant:

We got into Hartford around dinnertime and went to meet Laurie and her family (both of us minus our eldest children, who are at college) at nearby Puket Thai, which has an enormous vegetarian menu and fantastic peanut sauce, red curry, yellow curry, and pad see ew (everyone eating meat seemed happy too). The kids discussed running track and video games; the adults discussed schools, politics, museums, TV shows, and why some people who do not think Hugh Jackman is appealing should give him another chance because other people who felt that way a few months ago have had reason to reassess his awesomeness. Laurie also gave us Heath Bar and caramel matzah, which is my new favorite dessert!

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Poem for Tuesday and Snowy Passover

By Shel Silverstein

No one's hangin' stockin's up,
No one's bakin' pie,
No one's lookin' up to see
A new star in the sky.

No one's talkin' brotherhood,
No one's givin' gifts,
And no one loves a Christmas tree
On March the twenty-fifth.


That poem is in honor of the fact that we woke up on March the 25th -- the first official day of younger son's spring break, several days after the equinox -- to the most snow we've had sticking to the ground all year. We got very little on the roadways because of the warm ground temperature, though there were nearly two inches on the branches and decks at one point. It continued to snow for most of the morning, turning to slushy rain in the afternoon. My in-laws in Pennsylvania got over four inches and decided not to drive down to celebrate Passover with us because their roads were slippery.

We had a pretty quiet chore day (Paul working from home, me working on articles and laundry), then we retrieved Daniel -- who had to go back to College Park last night as his spring break had ended and he had a class he really couldn't miss, which did not get canceled despite the snow -- and went to my parents' for the seder. They had friends over with a daughter a bit younger than I am and we talked about travel, movies and basketball after the (thankfully mostly singing-free) service. I ate way too much charoset, carrot souffle and chocolate roll, yay! Some pics from the day:

Monday, March 25, 2013

Poem for Monday and Brookside Heron

13 Nisan: Changing
By Rachel Barenblat

This is a story about change.
Look: the seas are parting.
It's happening now. Open your eyes.

We were slaves to a Pharaoh in Egypt
but God brought us out of there.
This is a story about change.

The womb which had kept us alive
became constricting.
It's happening now. Open your eyes.

It's time to forget our anxieties
and leap off the precipice.
This is a story about change.

Even God is all about change --
I Am Becoming Who I Am Becoming.
It's happening now. Open your eyes.

The moon is almost full
to light our wanderings.
This is a story about change.
It's happening now. Open your eyes.


The Velveteen Rabbi blogs that this is not-quite-a-villanelle, using repeated lines to echo the fact that every year we read the same seder story, yet every year we experience it differently.

Sunday was Paul's birthday, though we didn't do anything hugely exciting because we're going to look at colleges with Adam next week so we had a lot of chores to do (cleanup for our house-and-pet-sitter, shopping for the trip, etc.). We went to lunch at the Silver Diner -- he had a free meal coupon, both kids like it -- then went to World Market and Trader Joe's. In the afternoon we came home so Daniel could do homework, Paul could bake a flourless cake for Passover, and I could work on the Shutterfly book that needs to be finished Monday afternoon so I can get it with my free coupon there.

None of us was ravenous after going out to lunch, so we had bagels for dinner, then drove Daniel back to College Park so he can attend two crucial classes on Monday; we're hoping to pick him up for the seder, but snow is falling now and is supposed to get worse, so we're not sure what's going to happen. Adam is on break all week, so after Once Upon a Time, which was so slow I went looking for Les Mis jewelry on Etsy instead, we watched Super 8, which Adam had not seen (Abrams=No Spielberg but it's more watchable to me than Star Trek). A great blue heron at Brookside yesterday: