What exactly does Furlough mean? We've all seen it on the school boards around Petaluma this past week and made various action plans to take advantage of (or in some cases, cope with) a couple of extra days with the kids off school, but you have to admit, it's a bit of an odd-bird as a word, isn't it?
Hence the return of "Word of the Week" which was on hiatus, or maybe furlough for a few months, here at Sonoma Country life, popular though it was.
According to the fountains of knowledge, a furlough is a layoff, especially a temporary one, from a place of employment.
ORIGIN early 17th cent.: from Dutch verlof, modeled on German Verlaub, of West Germanic origin and related to leave.
Chatting on the phone this Sunday morning to my sister, Lindsey, herself a teacher in the UK, she was quite reasonably baffled by my report that I'd used this past week's furlough to fit in a quick trip to the snow with the younger two of my three boys.
"What's a furlough?" she asked. Equally reasonably astonished that city-wide school staff received not a penny's pay for these dates that were slashed unceremoniously from the academic calendar to make some small amends for the general state of affairs here in California, it was most definitely a cross-cultural ahem moment. Sad really, isn't it?
Except for the fact that seemingly half of Petaluma's school-aged community threw some degree of caution to the wind and wound up keeping one another company on the cheaper slopes of the snow-tipped Sierras!
Couldn't resist this snapshot (taken with the expert lens of my co-navigator, Gail F on a Mums-and-sons snowboarding, furlough fun-break) of the welcoming sight of an empty parking lot at the Tahoe Donner resort.
A private, mid-week resort experience at least until we'd made it into the snowboard rental area, in which we were pleasantly reunited with dozens of fellow Petalumans clearly on the same savvy mission.
Gail took some spectacular photos, several of her shots (being an artist at large with camera tucked into her ski jacket) taken as reflections on the cafeteria window.
Fantastic driving conditions made this a fair-weather skier's dream-come-true. That and the fact that after 19-years of parenting, I have finally accomplished a status-quo of everyone able to stand on two feet from top of the chair lift to bottom of slope. No mean feat let me tell you. Patience is a virtue.