• Guest Posts

    Broken Refrigerator = Creative/Collaborative Challenge

    My name is William McDonald and I am chair of the Department of Film, Television, and Digital Media. And I have something very important to tell you: My refrigerator broke down last week. Let me repeat that: My refrigerator – in this heat – broke down – last week. Last Thursday had been a long, hot day, made longer and hotter by a commute home that ordinarily takes 40 minutes, but took two hours. Then, around 9:30 that evening, my lovely wife Pamela and I noticed food and drink we were taking out of the fridge were not very cold. Fearful of what this might mean, I was willing to…

  • Guest Posts

    Teatime Keeps the Grumpies Away

    This year you will be seeing some Guest Posts by Malena, who Natalie and I tutored in math and humanities last year. She is in ninth grade this year and I have the good fortune to still be her humanities tutor… and to have regular teatimes with her 🙂 Here is an article she wrote about our teatimes in the past: Teatime Keeps the Grumpies Away (it really does) by Malena On Mondays and Fridays, when I have math and humanities lessons with Natalie and Pamela, we almost always have teatime. Usually, we have tea in the afternoon after math and before humanities. We always have Assam or Organic Breakfast…

  • Pamela

    Older = Wiser?

    People of a certain age group 🙂  get frustrated when we sometimes can’t remember a word or name or place when we know we know… So frustrating! It can feel like we are sitting in the Blackstone Chair and can’t remember the answer to the question we know we know! Indeed, research shows that cognitive function slows as people age. But, guess what? Speed isn’t everything. A recent study pointed out that older people have much more information in their brains than younger ones. Retrieving it takes longer. But while younger people are faster in tests of cognitive performance, older people show “greater sensitivity to fine grained differences” (Topics in…

  • Pamela

    Skipping Middle School Taught Us…

    It’s been six years since our family made the bold decision to “skip middle school” and home school Natalie during her 7th and 8th grade years. At the time, some people questioned our judgement. One mother asked, “What about high school? If you do this, won’t Natalie have a hard time getting into a good school?” Yet others expressed their envy and support. One man confided, “I’m still recovering from middle school. If only I could have skipped it.” Natalie and I took notes during our two years and then we wrote our story about the fears we faced and overcame, the trust (and schoolhouse) we built together, the “Professor-Daddy”…

  • Pamela

    The Perfect Baguette

      Two posts ago, I wrote about discovering the perfect book, which I found in a delightful book shop in London. Read my post: Persephone, A Novel Book Shop here http://twointhemiddle.com/2015/07/23/persephone-a-novel-bookshop/ Each year Paris holds a competition for the Best Baguette. Numerous bakers enter in hopes of having their baguette designated the Best Baguette. I loved learning about this year’s winner: Antonio Teixeira, who is only 24. A total of 187 baguettes were submitted for a blind tasting, but 50 were rejected for not being the correct size (55-65cm) or weight (250g-300g). The loaves must not contain more than 18 grammes of salt per kilo of flour. Each is judged…

  • Pamela

    Post Trip: A New Morning Routine

    After returning from a trip, as I have just done (read my posts about our trip to London, Edinburgh and Glasgow), I find that it’s a good time to try some new things at home. I’ve decided to change my early morning routine and see what happens. Instead of reading the newspaper in the morning, which informs me but also agitates me, I’m reading books for twenty minutes while I have my morning coffee. I then read the newspaper later in the afternoon (with a cup of tea to soothe my soul). This morning I chose to read a bit from two books. You Learn by Living: Eleven Keys for…

  • Pamela

    Persephone — A Novel Bookshop

    The morning after our arrival in London, Natalie awakens at four a.m. and cannot go back to sleep. Instead she reads and studies the map of London and gets all excited about visiting Persephone Books. Natalie has been studying Persephone’s website — http://www.persephonebooks.co.uk — for weeks before our trip and has identified the books she wants to find and place in her suitcase. (Note: Some will have to be mailed due to her small suitcase being unable to accommodate the weight and volume.) To set the stage, here are few introductory notes from their website: “Persephone Books began in a room above a pub in the spring of 1998. Founder…

  • Pamela

    With Time a Painting’s Secrets Appear

    This is one of the many wonderful memories I will cherish from our recent trip to Scotland. We had the most animated conversation about a painting that proved much more interesting than it seemed on first glimpse. I recently read an article in AARP The Magazine titled “Slow Art,” in which AARP’s travel expert Samantha Brown admits to racing through many museums around the world. She’s beginning to wonder if she might have enjoyed those visits more if she had visited just one painting that felt special to her in each museum. I would tell her that it’s absolutely worth trying (and she can even choose two or three paintings,…

  • Pamela

    Beasts and Blessings in Edinburgh

      I miss having my morning porridge cooked and served to me as it was at Dunedin Guesthouse, our bed and breakfast in Edinburgh, Scotland. On our last day in Edinburgh, we walked a half-mile or so through a neighborhood of bungalows until we turned down a grassy lane… This is what we saw… “Oh my goodness. They’re huge!!! They look almost pre-historic!” We knew that if we walked a little bit farther, we would arrive at Prestonfield House, which is described on its website as a “ravishing historic hotel.” Ravishing! I’ve never heard that word used to describe a hotel. I was more interested in its life prior to…

  • Pamela

    To Do Our Best, We Need to Feel Good

    Researchers who look at work performance know that people perform better work and feel better about their work when four key needs are met: Physical, through opportunities to regularly renew and recharge at work; Emotional, by feeling valued and appreciated for their contributions; Mental, by being able to focus in an absorbed way on their most important tasks; and, Spiritual, by doing more of what they do best and enjoy most, and feeling connected to a higher purpose at work. A year ago, when I read a New York Times article titled “Why You Hate Work” by Tony Schwartz (chief executive of The Energy Project, a consulting firm) and Georgetown…