StoryWorth: School Field Trips

Clipart bus field trip, Clipart bus field trip Transparent FREE for  download on WebStockReview 2021

I’m working on stories for my StoryWorth book and decided to post some of them here. Some are long, some are short. But what they have in common are memories, not impressions. I wanted to have a collection of MY memories in case I lose them as I get older. No one travelled with me from place to place so no one else shares those memories with me now. I don’t want them to be completely gone.

I remember three field trips from my childhood years in New Jersey, all possible because everything was close enough to reach by bus in a single day.

First was a class trip to Pennsylvania, visiting Valley Forge and Philadelphia. We were studying American history that year, so there was a great immediacy to what we saw and heard. I don’t remember much about Valley Forge, but Philadelphia was fascinating. We saw the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall, and were entertained by an actor playing Benjamin Franklin on a walking tour.

Best of all was the Giant Heart at the Franklin Institute. I remember it as a huge walk-through exhibit that followed the path of blood through the human heart. We heard the “woosh-woosh” sound of blood flowing through the veins and the walls pulsed as we walked through the exhibit. It was amazing and all of us went through it more than once.

In sixth grade we made a trip to the United Nations in New York City. I wore stockings for the first time and felt very grown up. Our teacher, Mr. Holbrook, had us write letters to ourselves about what we thought the world would be like in 10 years, which we mailed from the U.N. We were to have our parents hold on to them for us and give them to us in 10 years. I’m not sure what other parents did, but mine put my letter in the safe deposit box and gave it back to me when I graduated from college ten years later. I bought Mexican jumping beans in the U.N. gift shop and don’t remember much else about what we saw.

When I was a sophomore in high school, we went to Stratford, Connecticut, to see Shakespeare’s “Othello” at the American Shakespeare Theatre. We were studying Shakespeare in English class and I’d seen plays before, but never adults performing right in front of me. The theater was full of giggling high school students from the tri-state area, all there to see live theater. We had fabulous close-up seats and great views of the stage. When one of the actors started speaking, we all looked at each other in surprise because we recognized her voice. In costume, it took us a while to figure out that she was Madge the Manicurist from a popular Palmolive detergent commercial on TV. I’d never really thought about actors playing different roles before. I guess I remember that more than anything else about the play.

To Boston and Back

Trinity Church, Copley Square, Boston

I flew to Boston last weekend for a special event that I anticipated for weeks. I left Boston in 2007 for a new job in New Haven, a whole 2.5 hours to the south, but rarely went back even though it was close. But I’d missed it. I missed the history, the bustle, the traditions, my church and the choir, the weather. And then I moved to Texas; quick visits weren’t possible anymore.

So I was super excited to get an invitation to go to a 25th wedding anniversary party for two special people, having sung at their wedding years before. The bride was a member of our choir, and her father described the wedding as a “concert accompanied by vows.” I knew there would be many other choir friends present, and I’ve missed that choir like my right arm. I had to go.

Saturday night was magical, seeing my happy friends and meeting their talented, creative children. Catching up with those I hadn’t seen in years as though that time was just a blink of an eye. As one friend said, “It was like, ‘Yes, that’s you, I had you on my heart all the time’.” I had spirited conversations with spouses I’d never met, gave and received hugs, shared wine and song and delicious food with wonderful dinner companions I haven’t seen in ages.

And there was music. How could there not be, given how important it is to the happy couple? The band was fun, playing Motown and standards, for dancing and for the caberet songs that seemed spontaneous but weren’t. It was like old times – and then they called the Trinity Kwah alums up to sing two pieces that we sang at the wedding 25 years before (“Rise Up My Love” by Healey Willan, and “Ubi Caritas” by Durufle). And for other occasions, to be sure – we all knew the music by heart and hadn’t rehearsed, but the sound knitted together seamlessly under the direction of our fearless director. It was Magic.

Trinity Church Reflected in the
John Hancock Building, Boston

Sunday I went to church at my former church, the gorgeous and historic Trinity Church at Copley Square. And I was disappointed. It was not realistic to think it would be the same but in my mind, I thought it would be all that and more. Congregational singing was minimal which made me crazy because music was such a huge part of my life in that place. But in a way, it’s good that I wasn’t blown away because then I would be even sadder to have left it behind.

After church, I lunched on Newbury Street with a law librarian friend, comparing notes about her new job, cats, and Irish genealogy among other topics. The afternoon was an adventure on the “hop on, hop off” trolley which has graduated to buses instead of trolleys. I’ve seen the inside of all the historic places and walked the Freedom Trail dozens of times. What I really wanted was just to ride around and see Boston without trying to drive in it, to see the changes post-Big Dig – and boy, there were many. So much construction everywhere! A little shopping after, a lobster roll for dinner, and early to bed before an early morning flight home.

What I hadn’t really understood was that traveling itself would be very hard. I hadn’t flown in almost 4 years and plane seats – and bathrooms! – have gotten a lot smaller. My body is not in good shape and I traveled with a folding cane to provide extra support and balance. Hiking through the airports was exhausting. Walking through the city was slow and lumbering. My sciatica was in full force with pain up and down my right leg. I couldn’t walk far or long without stopping, short of breath and hurting. I felt like a cow. And I was actually ashamed to see how hard a time I had getting around. I have things to work on before I can consider taking another trip but at least I know what they are.

Trinity Choir at Salisbury Cathedral

Taking the trip, taking the time and expense to travel back for something as frivolous as a party, was important. And it wasn’t frivolous at all to be there. Thank you, Carrie and Jon, for the invitation. Thank you, so many choir friends, for connecting and for sharing a few things that you remembered that shone crystal clear once you spoke of them. You matter. You all matter. What we did then mattered, and how we are connected now does, too.

Here Today, Gone Tomorrow

I’m in between trips and scrambling like mad not to fry in our current heat wave.  It was hot in Texas, but somehow it’s worse here which is just not right.  Thank heavens for AC!

The Texas trip was originally supposed to be to attend my nephew’s wedding, but it morphed into a family gathering at my brother’s ranch (140 acres in the middle of nowhere between my parents’ house and my brother’s place in Houston). They have very photogenic cows 🙂

My mom’s sister was there from California, nephew Rob from Massachusetts, and me from Connecticut.  Rob didn’t stay long, heading west to spend the weekend with his brother (the former groom) and friends going to a baseball game and country western concert.  My youngest niece ran a triathlon that weekend (I can’t imagine doing it in that Texas heat!) but my goddaughter (above) came from Lubbock for the weekend.  We celebrated our June/July birthdays together with carrot cake 🙂

Everyone flipped over my new look and I realized while I was there that I’ve almost lost my mother in terms of weight.  She weighs 115 lbs and I’ve lost 110 – which really is a whole person.  Puts things into very clear perspective.

I had a great time but was glad to come home (as was Tessie).  But I’ve been scrambling again because I leave on Friday for my national conference in Denver.  I have several meetings to facilitate so I have agendas and prep to finish, plus catch up on my paid job.

My conference wardrobe was all thought out, including a few dresses that looked good and were cool and comfy.  Except I’ve realized that all of them – ALL of them – are too big. Great problem but a bad time to figure it out, since the stores are starting to stock fall clothing (just after July 4th, go figure) and only have very picked over summer things.  I did get a few tops today that I can wear with black pants that will work.  I’ll find out soon enough.

I found it pretty easy to eat while in Texas.  My mom generously stocked up on some Greek yogurt, berries, chicken, and guacamole, and there were plenty of good options for me at the ranch.  Mostly people were interested in my choices and asked a lot of questions about the band and how it worked.  It was good practice for going out with more people; I’ve been reading menus for Denver and practicing restaurant eating, at least in my mind.  We’ll see how it goes!

I’ll try to check in from Denver but am not at all sure when I’ll have free time to write.  My time is pretty scripted.  But I’ll check in and at least keep up with y’all even if I can’t write until I’m back.  Stay out of trouble!

To DC and Back Again

Rain bootIt’s another rainy day here in Connecticut – one of many that we’ve had this summer.  It’s really strange.  Don’t get me wrong, being inside listening to the rain is a nice relaxed thing to do, but the saturated ground, flooding, and constant humidity are getting old.  I went out in it today anyway to take my stinky garbage to the dumpster and make a trip to the grocery store to get edamame and a few other things.

Note to self:  make sure you actually have edamame before you start making edamame salad.

On my birthday, I headed down to DC on the train with some colleagues to attend the annual meeting of my professional association. I’ve gone to almost all of them for 28 years and always enjoy the chance to see old friends and meet new ones.  This time, though, I really found myself hampered by my unhappy knee.  I brought my cane to help with balance with all of that standing and walking (our hotel was still a bit of a hike from the part of the convention center populated by librarians). I also had some Biofreeze with me to take away aches and pains.  The stuff is awesome; I highly recommend the roll-on or spray.

It didn’t help that DC was hot and humid, especially by New England standards.  I know this is normal for the end of July but honestly, I found that easier to deal with when I’m thinner and more mobile.  So as a result of sore knees, long distance, stairs, and heat/humidity, I really cut back on some of the socializing I usually do.  Part of me regretted that and part me was just relieved to get off my feet.

Twitter on iPhoneMy friends and I realized as the conference went on that we were no longer the cool kids; that role has been taken over by the Gen X/Gen Y caucus folks, many of whom we know and like.  But when they were all together, it was clear that they have the energy and ideas that we used to have.  It was a bit depressing and sad to realize that I’m in the old guard now.  I still have a place but it’s a different place.

At the same time, we were graced with free wifi in the convention center, thanks to one of our vendor sponsors, which let me twitter to my heart’s content.  It was such fun to be in program sessions talking with other people in the same session or in others about program content and ideas to implement at home.

Now I am home and much to my surprise, I lost another 3.2 lbs in the last 2 weeks.  My total is now 23.6 lbs in 4 months.   I knew that I’d eaten carefully at the conference while still indulging a few times on food that was truly worth it. Why waste those extra points on just average food?

Happy Birthday to Me – Let’s Take a Train Ride

Birthday cupcakeTomorrow is my birthday and I will spend a big chunk of it on the train with some of my colleagues, going south on Amtrak to Union Station in Washington, D.C.   It’s kind of like a road trip in a really long car with someone else driving.  It’s also very easy transport, especially here in the northeast corridor, where trains are frequent, relatively inexpensive, and much more convenient than flights.  Plus there are plugs so we can charge up the electronic stores that we are bringing with us to this conference – Kindle, cell phones, iPods, laptops/netbooks, etc.  Actually, I have all of those but promise I won’t use them all at once.

I called Amtrak today to see if I could have Red Cap service to help me with my stuff getting on and off the train, as well as getting in FROM the train in DC, which is huge.   I feel a little bit like a fraud since I’m not immobile, but on the other hand, my knee hurts a lot and the service is free, other than tips.  I have a feeling I’ll really need it for the DC end of things, especially coming home.  Walking and standing (which is worse than standing) for the length of the meeting will take their toll and I’ll be very happy for the help on the way home, which I do alone, since my colleagues and I are all coming home at different times.

Birthday dinner will be with some friends who served on a committee together in 1999.  We liked each other so much we’ve had a reunion and this will be another, in the same town where we first celebrated.  We’re going to a Spanish restaurant which promises to have excellent sangria.  I don’t drink much but adore sangria – and it IS my birthday, so I’m planning on having a glass or two.

At this point in my career, much of the conference is about networking, committee work, and spending lots of time in the exhibit hall talking to vendors, as well as selected programs.  It will be busy but there are social events thrown in to keep things balanced — a reception at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, followed by a reception at the Library of Congress, catching up with friends, a bloggers and tweeters get together, and, of course, karaoke night.  I’ve never actually done karaoke but this could be very entertaining – and a nice break.

Stay out of trouble until I get back!