A place for family and friends to see what I'm up to. Visitors welcome here.

Hail Guest, we ask not what thou art.
If Friend, we greet thee, hand and heart.
If Stranger, such no longer be.
If Foe, our love will conquer thee.
-Old Welsh Door Verse

Saturday, December 03, 2016

Hey, Mom!

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Sunday, November 20, 2016


It's OK.

I believe that when something is "right," there is no anxiety.  No confusion.  No feet dragging.

So I've taken really seriously my anxiety, confusion and feet dragging about my retirement decision.

I talked to the STRS rep on Wednesday, and Thursday afternoon discovered that I'd made a budgeting mistake (having to do with my late husband's pension) that was big enough to keep me in the classroom for a while longer.

Once I discovered my mistake and concluded that retirement would have to wait, I was at peace.

New decision is the right decision.  And I'm fine with it.  I don't hate what I do, I love the people I work with and there is enough discretionary time to fulfill my Masteryear plans (or most of them) during the year even with work.

Everything always works out for me. 

Just because.
 Mom and I took our first Christmas trip to Disneyland.  I didn't buy the top level pass this year (who wants to be there for the biggest crowds of the year, anyway?) so we're cramming our visits in early.  This one and another on December 3.

It was a perfect day with a slight chance of showers that kept some people away.  I wanted to go to New Orleans Square to see the decorations and the sidewalks - often impassible, always crowded - were practically empty so I was able to maneuver the wheelchair out of the way and actually capture some nice pictures.

My favorite balcony.

One of the Club 33 entrances.  I guess nobody's using it now.

My mom couldn't understand why I was set on taking her picture right here.  I showed her once I got it that she matched the poinsettias.

Our day was pretty normal for us.  We were hoping to find the Moana Tsum Tsums at World of Disney.  We did.  We had a nice breakfast at Rancho del Zocalo, then went up to NOS.  Came back down to enjoy the Silverdollar Six on the balcony over the Golden Horseshoe, then got a good table to enjoy them again inside the theater.  The first showing of Laughing Stock was a good one because the audience members did an awesome job.

We decided our schedule would be to go see Musical Chairs with the Mad Hatter at 3:45, then stay there to catch what we could of the Holiday Magic Parade at 4:15.  We were a little worried, though, because the last time we were there Hatter was at the Coke Corner for Musical Chairs at 2:45.  I suggested that we change the plan and go to the Corner to see the 1:15 parade so that we would be there in case Hatter did show up at 2:35.  We left the Golden Horseshoe, did a restroom stop and then got to Coke Corner and got a good table.

Evidence of low attendance.  You NEVER see three empty tables here at lunch time.
And were really glad we did because Hatter showed up at 12:45 this time.  He had a rough job yesterday as there were few children in the audience, so musical chairs was mostly delightful adults who played along to see that the two little ones were the winners.

I had hoped to see the holiday parade in the evening, but they have brought back the Paint the Night parade so were only running the holiday parade during the daylight.  It's just not the same. Some of my favorites missing and if the herald trumpets - my very favorite part of the parade -  were there (we were sitting back from the street and couldn't see what was happening on the ground) they marched past us because I didn't get to hear them play.  Another casualty of the Paint the Night Parade (part Las Vegas - part Mardi Gras) were my favorite decorations, the Mickey swags across Main Street.  I spent some energy working on minimizing disappointment yesterday.

Still, we could see the tops of the floats and somehow I managed to catch some of them.

Look at him zeroing in on my Mom again.  How did he know the stud magnet was back in the park?

We stopped and shopped at the Emporium on our way out and I found the best Disneyland Christmas decoration they've had in years.  I collect unusual tins, and this is a tin music box cookie tin.  I'm trying to find out if Jerrod Maruyama designed it, because the critters are sort of his style.


We got to the tram station for our limo tram ride back to parking and made our trip over to Knott's Berry Farm for a nice early chicken dinner.  The first two times we tried this were traumatic, but we didn't realize how traumatic until yesterday's super fast and easy trip.

The food does taste better without the bitter aftertaste of trauma.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Transitions and Transformations.

For twenty years I was a daughter.
Then a wife.
And seven years later, I added mother.
And then teacher.
And five years ago, grandma.

I had my meeting with the STRS representative.  She went through everything I needed to know to decide whether to retire at the end of this teaching year.


I will be 66.
I will begin a year-long Masteryear celebration.
Of me.

I realize, this will be the first time that I will add
to the list of Me.

I've realized that for most of my life, I have not seen myself as SELF.  Only in relation to others.

I've been doing the work to bring my SELF out.
I like her.

It's our time to play.


on the road.

Took a therapy trip on Saturday.  Kind of a last-minute decision to go to Carmel for lunch, a round trip of a little over 600 miles.  I left at 5:30 am and stopped in Cambria for about an hour.  Had a little minor car problem that took a half hour to remedy, and got to Carmel about 12:30.  Ate a delicious breakfast for lunch at From Scratch, then turned around and took my time coming down our spectacular Big Sur coast.  After a little visit with my friends at the Elephant Seal preserve, I hit Morro Bay about sunset.  Had the same car issue so took another half hour to remedy it, during which a man (possibly my age but seeming older) delighted me with horrible old turkey jokes.  He was so charming all I could do was laugh and thank the Universe for sending him to take the edge of what promised to be a very stressful time.  Once I had remedied the situation, I again got on the highway just in time to enjoy the almost full supermoon right in front of me.

Sometimes you get to be grateful for the delays.

Looked over and realized the most spectacular sunrise of the year was happening in my side mirror.

Sunrise clouds reflecting on the sea.

Waiting for the Cambria nursery to open.  Loved the moss.

At the Barnyard.  I love the way the sunlight was making the petals translucent.

I have a thing for feathers and there was a part of me that wanted to go collect one of these "caught" on the fence post.  It wasn't until I got home and uploaded the pictures that I realized this was an art installation, a dream catcher a little battered by the elements but otherwise beautifully done.

Green grass coming up along the Big Sur coast.  I was there about the same time last year, and it was just brown dirt.

I will never tire of sunlight on seawater.

REALLY high tide and dramatic waves.

At first I was irritated that this weed was in my way as I tried to catch the reflection on the water.  Then I had a "wait a minute" moment and ended up taking a half dozen different shots using a variety of telephoto ranges.  Now I can't decide which I like best.

Just a gentle mist.  Barely noticeable in person, but stunning in the pictures.

The big teenage boys, practicing in the water.

Sunbathing.  Doesn't she look sublimely content?

The night before the full moon.  A fitting ending before the trip home.

For the next three nights I enjoyed taking dozens of pictures of the November 2016 Supermoon.  I actually had to drive around the neighborhood to find a gap in the trees big enough to not be blocking the moon.  It was worth the effort.  What a gorgeous experience.

November 2016 SuperMoon.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

That was the week...

...that was.

It is tempting, after a week like this, to return to my old wallowing habits.

Last Monday I felt what I thought was an allergy attack coming on.  By Friday night I was practically falling asleep - in my favorite restaurant with my mom - over my creamy Tomato Basil soup.  An hour after dinner I was dozing off during our weekly catalog browse and headed home early.  My son was gone for a weekend in Las Vegas, so the dog and I tucked in for a quiet weekend.

The next morning I woke with a nasty cough and had to accept that it was virus, not allergy, that was making me feel so crappy.   After  a fast trek to Costco for emergency supplies, I tucked into my recliner for a weekend of recovery.

It's been a while since I escaped into the fantasy world of film.  It was fun.  A lifelong lover of the Tarzan canon, I had made the effort to go see Legend of Tarzan on a big screen.  It was no disappointment and I'm glad I saw it big the first time.  But it holds on a small screen as well.

The Independence Day sequel was also worth the wait.  And after enjoying that one, I turned to an older favorite, You've Got Mail.   I haven't watched it for years, but found I still loved the story.  Since I last saw it I, too, enjoyed a brief online pen pal experience, and I'm happy to say the movie brought back pleasant memories of that time.

It would be nice to say that I managed to kickstart myself into functional health over the weekend, but it didn't work out that way.  Still miserable,  I dragged myself through Monday (thanks to my cocktail of guaifenesin and ibuprofen), returning to sleep in my recliner for another night.  Tuesday was the same, but with the added experience of moving through the depressing experience of going from school to polling place to write in my candidate.  He had no chance of winning, but I had to be able to "wake up with myself" the next morning so I voted my values and left at peace.

Yesterday was day nine of the crud, and after a fairly easy day at work I headed up the coast to have my car serviced.  It's no hardship to spend an hour at CJ Wilson Mazda, but just minutes into the process the service  manager came to get me to show me something.  She lifted the hood to show me that rats have been trying to nest in my engine.  I'm not sure just what that nesting material was, but the hollowed-out orange rind (not to mention the tiny footprints everywhere) were kind of a give-away.  I supposed I should focus on the positive:  this only cost me an additional $40 for a degreasing followed by a stop at Costco for dryer sheets.  It was my homework to take handfuls of dryer sheets and attach them to 'safe' places in the engine mount with zip ties.  They believe the stench of the things repel the rodents.  I sure hope so;  I can't stand the smell myself, so choose to be optimistic.  Whatever will work to spare me the experience of the previous customer who came it with the same problem.  The ratbastards had eaten out his air supply system.  $1200.  Not on warranty.

Today I almost managed to get through the day without expectorant (although I coughed on and off all day, it was manageable) and as far as content it was one of my favorite days of the year.  I get to introduce the Preamble to the Constitution, which includes SchoolHouse Rock and a fun puzzle that they always enjoy.  They will recite the Preamble next month, and that is - possibly - my favorite day of the year.

It should have been a delightful day, but we were all on edge because of the reaction to the Trump victory on Tuesday.  Normally respectful young people all over the country are exposing the ugliness they have hidden under a cloak of political correctness (what I refer to as basic good manners).  The Trump gloaters in my classes are, so far, held in check by the majority who respond by ignoring them.  I posted a copy of the State of California statement of value in my window (http://www.dailykos.com/story/2016/11/9/1595296/-California-Does-The-Right-Thing-in-the-Face-of-Trump)  and plan to track down a large quantity of safety pins to offer to those who want them.  http://www.slate.com/blogs/xx_factor/2016/11/10/after_brexit_tolerant_britons_adopted_a_simple_symbol_of_solidarity_we_should.html?wpsrc=sh_all_dt_fb_top)

Finally home, I decided to put my feet up for a few minutes in my recliner and woke up nearly three hours later.  I'm not a fan of naps.  I always wake up groggy and out of sorts, and today was no different.   And to make it worse, I checked into facebook to learn of the passing of the great Leonard Cohen.

I've decided to distract myself with anticipation of happier events to come.


Lovely movies to look forward to.  I'm driving up the coast on Saturday.   Leaving very early to have breakfast in Carmel.  A couple of nursery stops.  The butterflies at Pacific Grove.  The spectacular Big Sur coastline and a visit with the Elephant Seals.


Ah, damn.

There is a crack in everything. That's how the light gets in.

Wednesday, November 09, 2016

Three Feet or So

Sunday, October 23, 2016


...and lows.

Tumultuous week.

 Made our monthly pilgrimage to Disneyland.  It was an OK day. 

High: We had a nice breakfast at the Rancho del Zocalo

Low:  We had hoped for a pre-show set by our favorite piano player at the Golden Horseshoe, but it was not to be.  It was entertaining when the CM dumped a load of ice in front of the door.  I suggested to the crew that we should all sing "Do You Want to Build a Snowman?", but they were not amused.

High:  Sheriff Woody was out for a stroll and spied my mother, the stud magnet.

High:  As we waited for the piano set that was not to be, we got to listen to the Silverdollar Six playing on the rooftop balcony.  Always a treat.  I noted this time that the trumpet player sounds like Kermit Ruffins.  Toby is always a beloved old friend, Dad's favorite park musician.


Low:  We had planned our day around a trip to DCA to see the new Frozen stage show.  They only did one show that day, and we had already missed it.

High:  I got my chance to ride the new Luigi's Tires ride.  I think this may be my new favorite ride at DCA.  It is adorable.  And while it seems boring from the sidelines, looks deceive.  Every time these little cars move in their dance, the rider gets a little jerk to the side.  Or front.  Or back.  Or other side.

Then a double pirouette at the end.

High:  They were hosting a preview of Moana in the Bug's Life Theater.  I am more excited about this movie that I've been for any movie (Even Star Wars VII) in a long time.  The preview was about ten minutes, and I was delighted to note they had managed to choreograph it to the Bug's Life effects.

High:  Hatter was his usual charming, attentive self to Mom.  Even loaned her a quarter to tap.  (Didn't let her keep it, though.)

High:  Last set before leaving.

Low, low and triple low:

We've started a new tradition.  We leave the park early, then head to Knott's Berry Farm for a famous chicken dinner. 

Totally forgot about this.

Three hours.  THREE HOURS from Disneyland to Knott's, not counting the twenty minutes I had to sit at the end of a full parking lot row trying to merge into the line of traffic trying to leave the full lot onto the street that was bumper to bumper as far as the eye could see.

High:  Once I bullied my way into the line and made the turn, within the short row someone almost right next to the handicapped row backed out.  We got into the restaurant without a problem, enjoyed our charming server and delicious meal and got home just as the rain was starting.  Mom suggested I stay, but it cleared up enough for me to get safely home, then rained most of the night.

High: Repeat: rained most of the night.

Low:  As usual, my students did not pay attention to my directions on an assignment even though I told them they were using the most important article of the year and I wanted them to read it carefully.  Had to take another day for them to correct their mistakes, but none of that was as awful as the worst low ever.

Low Low Low:  Last year I had as a student a delightful, curly-haired blonde boy with bright blue eyes.  In the wee hours between Monday and Tuesday, his stepfather shot and killed his mother (while he and his three siblings were in the house) then turned the gun on himself.  The stepfather died a few days later.

It's a horrible, helpless place to be as a teacher.  The best the school could do was to have a couple of dress-in-support days.

High:  It did cheer me up to learn that Carrie Newcomer, my new entertainment crush, will be close enough to enjoy this coming Friday.  I've got my ticket and am looking forward to the drive down the PCH right after school Friday.  I should be able to get there in time for a fast food dinner and then her concert in a famously intimate venue.  REALLY excited.

High: speaking of entertainment crushes, my younger son played at Manhattan, a fine food restaurant down the hill from my house.  He plays occasionally with Michael Falcone, an amazing piano player/singer.  Michael plays and sings EVERYthing starting with  big band standards and into Michael Jackson, Billy Joel and Elton John with some fifties and sixies rock and roll thrown in.

Low:  Once the dinner hour has ended, this place takes on a bar atmosphere.  I hate it.  I had friends there, all of whom ended up too close, too slurring and made me too worried about their safety getting home.  My son may not play there again (right now it sounds like he may never play again anywhere; tired of lugging the set everywhere for tips).  While it saddens me that he's considering giving up music, I won't miss drunk night at the Manhattan.

High:  Before the dinner and performance, I went to the Western Foundation of Vertebrate Zoology or, as Camarillo calls it, the bird museum.  I'd never been there.  It's pretty impressive, although I prefer my living birds to the preserved birds in the extensive display.  Add a mariachi band and the atmosphere was upbeat.  Best part was that I ran into one of my dearest retired teacher friends.  Oh, and I was able to identify the flock of tiny birds that swoop into my orange trees to hang upside down and peep peep peep as they clean off all the tiny insects that are infesting my drought-challenged old trees.

Low:  For three years I have been collecting pieces for a Maleficent costume for Halloween.  Life kept getting in the way, and this was the year (my last year of teaching) that I was going to make it work.  I got the bodice part of the dress halfway finished and tried it on.  I'm not sure it would have fit at all, and if it had it would have been indecent even for a bar, much less a middle school.  I admit it was somewhat satisfying - after struggling with the weird pattern - to just gather up all the offending pieces - fabric, partially completed dress, pattern - and dump them in the outside garbage can.   But now I have to be a Dalmatian.  (Most of the teachers are dressing as 101 Dalmatians for Halloween at school.)

And now it's time to finish my laundry and wrap this up, but I don't want to end on a low, so will tack these beautiful lyrics by Carrie Newcomer in her gorgeous song, "The Gathering of Spirits." 

Let it go my love my truest,
Let it sail on silver wings
Life's a twinkling that's for certain,
But it's such a fine thing
There's a gathering of spirits
There's a festival of friends
And we'll take up where we left off
When we all meet again.

I can't explain it.
I couldn't if I tried
How the only things we carry
Are the things we hold inside
Like a day in the open,
Like the love we won't forget
Like the laughter that we started
And it hasn't died down yet

Let it go my love my truest,
Let it sail on silver wings
Life's a twinkling that's for certain,
But it's such a fine thing
There's a gathering of spirits
There's a festival of friends
And we'll take up where we left off
When we all meet again.

Oh yeah, now didn't we
And don't we make it shine
Aren't we standing in the center of
Something rare and fine
Some glow like embers
Like a light through colored glass
Some give it all in one great flame
Throwing kisses as they pass

Let it go my love my truest,
Let it sail on silver wings
Life's a twinkling that's for certain,
But it's such a fine thing
There's a gathering of spirits
There's a festival of friends
And we'll take up where we left off
When we all meet again.

Just east of Eden
But there's heaven in our midst
And we're never really all that far
From those we love and miss
Wade out in the water
There's a glory all around
And the wisest say there's a 1000 ways
To kneel and kiss the ground
Let it go my love my truest,

Let it sail on silver wings
Life's a twinkling that's for certain,
But it's such a fine thing
There's a gathering of spirits
There's a festival of friends
And we'll take up where we left off
When we all meet again.

My goal is to be throwing kisses, but after last week I've just fanning the dying embers.

This week will be better and end in joy.