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Saturday, January 30, 2016

The Fabulous Space Coast

 Yesterday I had the extremely fun time of chaperoning a huge group of students to Kennedy Space Center on Cape Canaveral. I had been there in 2008, and was not prepared for how upgraded and different the experience this time around would be. We arrived at 8am and stayed until 6:40pm (dragging the students and younger chaperones away!). The first thing that happened is we met a space man and an astronaut!
I've always wanted to be an astronaut

Al Worden Command Module Pilot for Apollo 15
Astronaut Worden is from Michigan so he appreciated the blustery 58 degree weather. He spoke of his responsibilities flying around the moon (while his co-astronauts walked on it) and taking pictures and finding the perfect future landing site. His eyes got real dreamy as he reflected on seeing both the moon and the earth together for the first time when he was outside the space craft retrieving the video tapes. It's that vision of planet earth that has really changed the human race's perception of who we are and where we call home. Worden is one of the few to see it for his own eyes, unfiltered (except for the gold plated helmet glass screen).
We visited the launch pads and I was so impressed by the size of the Vehicle Assembly Building, (the largest single story building in the world), and the Crawler, that I forgot to take a picture. It was mind boggling.

The water tanks are near the launch pads are there to throw water and muffle the impacting sound of the explosion. Beforehand the sound and pressure of a rocket being launched was breaking windows in Titusville, almost 10 miles away!

At the Apollo/SaturnV center, where command control sits 3 miles away from the launch pad, we were able to be in a re-inactment of a launch. It was spectacular (the windows shook).
The music through out the park really manipulated our emotions and students spoke of both goosebumps and tears.
At the Journey to Mars Pavilion we learned about all that has been going on to get the facts of life about the planet and learn something of it's evolution. There are already 4 American rovers on the planet. (We have left three vehicles on the moon). It was fascinating to learn about the development of each vehicle.
The Opportunity landed on Mars over a dozen years ago

Then the students had a contest to work with a budget and design their own Rover vehicle.

The winning design had to carry four coins (astronauts) and travel the furthest distance. The kids, working in teams of 4, had a great time and each design was innovative. Afterwards in the Atlantis Space Center we experienced a film of how the space shuttle idea was born and the multiple failed experiments the engineers and scientists had to endure. The collaboration and the artwork in drafting ideas was significantly demonstrated. Our guide then shared the daily life habits of astronauts with the kids- everything from how they went to the bathroom to slept, to the food choices in their menus and the maintenance of the interior space in the multi-national station today.

Oh! I almost forgot- I had a burger from out of this world at the Orbit Cafe!

Thursday, January 28, 2016

I love Miami but...

The traffic!!!! It is the worst thing about living here. It is always thick and hazardous, no matter what time of day. People are constantly on the road, racing or braking.  It took me 2.5 hours to go 6 miles and back yesterday after work when I dropped off student work at the Miami-Dade County fairgrounds! Tomorrow I get up at 3am to get on buses at 4am with 150 young students for a field trip up the road. Because of traffic we have to plan twice or thrice the GPS estimated time to get where we need to be.

I wonder I have not been making more paintings about it!

Monday, January 25, 2016

Scholastic winners!!!!!

I'm so proud of our student artists! They brought home 3 silver keys, a gold key, and an honorable mention. The competition was strong this year. Everything looked good. Dash and New World dominated the show, and I am so proud our school could hold it's head so high in that competitive environment. Truly the kids have gifts, and they work hard. The work was done in class and on their own outside of school time... they are invested! They deserved this.  Late Sunday afternoon we enjoyed a packed awards ceremony of winners, their family and friends, and art teachers at the fabulous Rubell Family Collection, downtown Miami.
Crowd looking at 300 works of Scholastic winning artworks
It was an auspicious start of the year.
Alex's painting is in the middle...good competition!

Cant get close!

Stefani gets her Gold key
This years show at the Rubell is worth a visit. It is called No Man's Land- and includes over 100 women artists from the collection. I enjoyed checking out the galleries and, more than once, wondered why it takes a woman's show to see this work- wouldn't the works look good in a show of both/any sexes? There is a bit of shock value at the start, as women take on the body and display it with some cruelty, and several artists such as Marlene Dumas and Lisa Yuskavage borrowed images from the male gaze; from porn magazines and pin up posters as a starting point for their paintings. I loved the Jenny Holtzer's incised marble bench and Dana Shutz oil painting, Lover's.
Jenny Holtzer

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Labors of nourishment

The Haitian Migrant workers in south Florida brought me this onion.
I'm so grateful.

Tonight we toasted their hard labor with our delicious pot roast. They, and the farmers, truckers and grocers, give us life.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

The show goes on

This weekend the junior thespians are dominating the stage with a wonderful and rich production of Seussical:the Musical Jr.!!! I had a lot of fun working on the stage- it really turned out wonderfully.

After painting the stage floor, John Baldwin brought in the sets and special effect lights.
But really- the kids, the actors, stole the show! they reminded me of my own childhood doing small productions on the summer lawn, and also I think of my dramatically inclined nieces... (what are they up to these days?)

I love hanging out and collaborating with theater people!

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Monday, January 18, 2016

MLK Boulevard

Woke up to a free day, off of work, in honor of the great Martin Luther King and I decided to explore the boulevard named in his honor, in north Miami. There are almost 700 MLK boulevards or streets across the USA. My son lives off of one in Sacramento! The Miami MLK Blvd. was also E 9th St and NW 62nd St.. I figure that the legacy of MLK is made concrete in the landscape by the boulevards named after him. There is still so much work to be done to fight inequality and racism in this country! The road started north of the airport in a corner of Hialeah, ran through the neighborhood projects of Liberty City, cut into Little Haiti and hit the Bay in Lemon City.

 Seems, as we got in the vicinity, we had just missed the parade!

 We had to go around, because it was blocked off by police.
 Families were unloading trays of hot food and setting up smoking grills on front lawns
Liberty City

Little Haiti

End of the MLK hits the water...nice Jaguar!
I am bad at taking pictures. There was a lot to see, fancy cars and gangs on motorcycles, pink sofas on the curbs with ladies selling conch salads, helicopters overhead...and next year I will try to get up there earlier to catch the parade. I'm glad the city was celebrating.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Nine mile pond in the Everglades

What a wonderful way to spend a Saturday morning... on a free guided canoe tour of nine mile pond in the lower Everglades...near Flamingo Marina! We got up at 5:30 a.m. to make it down to the shore in time for the 7:45 push off.
 Leaving the parking area it was a bit cool and misty, but it warmed up fast.

 We crossed a wide expanse of the "Borrow pit" and went through mangrove tunnels...
 around the marshy area and past hammocks of terrain a foot or so higher in elevation but containing a totally different array of life species.

Alligator along the shore
The water levels from all the rain was high and so there were no shore birds to see. The dwarf red mangrove with Epiphytes and Bromeliads were distinct and numerous and when we rowed over the sawgrass, the sound as the blades tapped against the metal canoe was music. I wish I had recorded it.

Michael was in heaven. Within hours he started getting a little feisty. Imagine my relief when I found the short cut!
periphyton in the water- good stuff!