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

Monday, December 31, 2007

Yes! It's...

Imagine there's no Heaven
It's easy if you try
No hell below us
Above us only sky
Imagine all the people
Living for today

Imagine there's no countries
It isn't hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion too
Imagine all the people
Living life in peace

You may say that I'm a dreamer
But I'm not the only one
I hope someday you'll join us
And the world will be as one

Imagine no possessions
I wonder if you can
No need for greed or hunger
A brotherhood of man
Imagine all the people
Sharing all the world

You may say that I'm a dreamer
But I'm not the only one
I hope someday you'll join us
And the world will live as one

John Lennon

New Year's Eve - Resolutions in Review

Before I enjoy making a list of new resolutions to not keep in the new year, I thought I'd review last year's and see if I met ANY of my goals.

I did finish the little lap quilt for my Mom and gave it to her for Mother's Day.

I bought black double bias and black thread to bind the hollyhocks quilt. I think one of the reasons I balk at this is that I'm just not sure that's how I want to bind that. Now I'm thinking of making kind of a scrappy border from some of the flower fabrics. I welcome all advice

I did nothing on the bear, although I did take him to my lqs while I was taking the McKenna Ryan class and got some advice. I will sew all the pieces down using clear- or smoke-colored monofiliment.


I did get all the embroidery marked on the "What Color is Spring?" quilt and have partially completed the center sampler.

I made some progress on the hollyhock cross stitch, but admit that I kind of lost interest in this one when I learned that the architect has eliminated the guest room from the main floor of the new house. I had planned to decorate that room around a garden theme with this piece, the hollyhock wallhanging, a garden trellis quilt (I have all the fabric for that but was waiting until we saw how big the room would be before making it a queen or king) and a Kory Fluckiger hummingbird print. Now the room is gone and I haven't decided how to re-group. Until I do, I'm not going to spend time on this one.



Santa moved along a little bit.



And, I made a rather gratifying amount of progress on the Firefly Faeries.



Of course, in true ADD fashion I also made a number of starts this year (none of which got finished) including the kitten card and the Winter Wonderland embroidered quilt.

This is real SOP for me. I seem to love to look at patterns, buy patterns, buy fabric and floss, kit things up and get started on the new project(s). Then I get bored and look for something else to do (rarely do the 'archived' pieces appeal).

This has been a good exercise, though. I have actually accomplished quite a bit. If I had focused that energy onto one piece I might have finished something.

Good to know.

But it's a hobby, so I can do it anyway I want.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Yes, I'm Stitching!

All obsession with my new computer aside, I have been doing some stitching. In the evenings, when DH has a football game on the TV, I listen to my book on CD (Heaven and Earth right now, one of my favorite Nora Roberts books) and stitch away. I started "Le Papillon" by Nimue.

A big thank you to Chiloe for sharing this project with us. I ordered her from ABC Stitch Therapy and she was here in about a month.

I decided to do her in the colors listed with the chart and on an Aida 18. I am also working on a couple of pieces on linen (because truly, the effect is stunning on linen) but it's amazingly hard on my eyes (even with my light and magnifier). The Aida is MUCH easier and, consequently, much more fun for a relaxing evening. If I'm not pleased when she's finished then I'll do her again later.

(Right after Christmas I also ordered "La Balancoire", also a Nimue chart, and the baby is on the way! As soon as I get the chart, I'll order the fabric.)

I work on "Firefly Fairies" by Marilyn Leavitt-Imblum for as long as I can, then switch to the butterfly fairy. Every few years I go back to Northeastern Kansas to visit family and one of the treats is to see fireflies. As soon as I saw this design I knew I had to do it, but I wanted it to look truly like twilight, when the fireflies first start to shine. I ruined three pieces of fabric trying to dye my own, then ordered one online that wasn't quite right (turned out to be more teal than blue). Eventually I found this one at (again) ABC Stitch Therapy. It's a Sugar Maple fabric dyed expressly for this piece and I'm very happy with it.

But I sure will be thrilled when I finish that blue fairy. The dark blue on dark blue has been a real challenge. Yesterday I finished the areas that I'd had to frog after our last trip to Utah (where I managed to get off just enough to ruin the fall of her skirt in back.)

(I apologize for the poor quality scans. I'm getting used to my new scanner. I tried to scan these still in the q-snaps and now can see I need to made sure the fabric is directly on the screen. Next time!)

I'm thrilled with my new computer. Maybe I'll name her Tinkerbell because what she does is like magic? Nah. I'll give it some more thought. Merryweather, maybe? Actually, when I had my character done at Disney's California Adventure I turned out to be most like Maleficient, but I don't think I want an evil computer.

As I started to say, I'm thrilled with my new computer, but there have been some unfortunate realizations. I ended up having to buy myself a new printer and scanner because neither of my old pieces would work with the new technology and operating system. Now I'm realizing I'm going to have to buy a new copy of my genealogy software because my old software doesn't even make a Vista version. But, it seems that I'm pretty successful at moving
over the stuff that I want so I'm happy about that.

We had some bad news the day after Christmas. We own a condo in a small ski resort in northern Utah (where we are trying to build a retirement home). It's at the base of Powder Mountain, where the locals enjoy "snorkel deep" snow. It has never rented well in the five years we've owned it, mostly because it's a "new" ski area. Last year, though, it was listed in three major magazines' (Sunset, Ski and Disney's Family Fun) "best kept ski secrets" articles. This year, so we've heard, the place is hopping. Our condo was reserved for eight days in January with the season picking up. And the snow has been amazing in the last couple of weeks (40" of new powder up at the Powder Mountain resort in the last week alone). We were very hopeful that we would - finally - make a little money on the place this season.

It was not to be. On the day after Christmas the manager of the management company called to tell us that the icemaker in the unit above ours had cracked and the water had poured out. Near as they could tell it had been running for over six hours, right down into our condo. Our upstairs flooded, then it started to drip through the floor and into the basement floor. So far we're looking at at least a month of repairs. They will have to remove and replace wallboard and ceilings (with all the recessed lights, sprinkler lines and smoke detectors)
on both levels. This means new carpet, padding and paint as well. The cost of most of it (assuming there's no damage to the furniture) will be covered by the HOA and upstairs owner's homeowner's insurance. The manager said the only "personal item" that was damaged was the master bedspread (the water dripped through the ceiling and pooled on the spread, but did not leak through to the bed itself). We'll see. We have a major investment in top-quality wood furniture in there (this is a "luxury" resort and if you want to be in the rental pool you have to buy the furniture they say.) My parents had a broken water line a few years ago that flooded their downstairs and ruined all their wood, and they got on top of it a lot faster than these folks did.

We're not dwelling on it, though. There was nothing we could have done to prevent it, and there's nothing we can do about it now. We have good friends up there who can kind of keep an eye on things for us and try to shove it along.

Instead, I'm having a fun vacation here. In fact, I had been whining because I had wanted to leave on the 27th and spend the vacation in the condo. Guess it just wasn't meant to be!

Thursday, December 27, 2007


I had grand plans for the day after Christmas. I had several audio books (Golden Compass, Watchers, Darkest Evening...) to listen to on my headset as I stitched away on my "Firefly Faeries" by Marilyn Leavitt Imblum. And I don't have to be back to work until January 7 so I should be able to get a LOT done, right?

Wrong! My plans have been trashed!


Because, dude...

I got a Dell!

Yep, I'm still in shock, but DH gave a a new Dell desktop system for Christmas! He said he felt it will help me deal with the pain of not being able to retire at the end of this school year as originally planned.

Ya think?

I can't believe how much fun this is. I'm already getting caught up with Heroes online (two episodes already so I'll be ready to jump in when Volume Three begins again.) I have some transfer issues to deal with but I'm working them out. I lost (badly) a game of Wizard Chess last night (since I've never played Chess before it stands to reason, but mostly I just wanted to watch the characters zap each other so it was still fun). And it's been really cool to enjoy the widescreen websites without having to move the slidey thing (like that IT talk?) from side to side.

I still have a LOT to figure out, but so far, SO good!

We had a wonderful Christmas. DS2 overslept and so our usual tradition of stockings first, eating breakfast, cleaning up and then opening gifts had to be altered (to cheers of delight from the boys who were subjected to the food/clean-up torture every year). When he was officially a half-hour late I called to 'wakey, wakey' him up ("Ugh, I hit the snooze alarm too many times") and he was here in another half hour. This year we ate breakfast first, then they opened their stockings, and then it was time to prepare the turkey. Once the turkey was in the oven we could - finally - open gifts.

Everyone seemed pleased with their gifts. It's more fun to be creative and try to come up with just the right gifts for people, but my two (three counting DIL) are trying to get on their feet so I stuck with getting them what they asked for. I figured that's what they needed. I did, though, get some of the beautiful books they had at Costco this year. Complete Poe for DS1 and complete Shakespeare for DS2. They seemed delighted. Just had to warn them not to lick the bindings, however, as they'd been bound in China.

DH seemed really pleased with his surprise. I found this print (a Peter Ellenshaw poster) at DCA this year and matted and framed it for him.

I was thrilled with the frame I found for it. A medium oak color, just ornate enough to match the old-fashioned feel of the picture. I especially loved the little vines and flowers subtly carved on the outside edge. I matted it in a butter yellow that matched Pooh's fur. DH is a fan of all things Pooh and seemed delighted with the piece. His favorite character is Eeyore, though, and sadly Eeyore is not in this scene. Today I went online and found an Ellenshaw fall scene with Eeyore and ordered it right away! I think this one will be in the master bedroom and the fall scene in the dining room. But I digress...

My folks arrived right about 1:00 and Brother and family shortly after. I had set out chips, dip and M&Ms, had cooked the turkey and stuffing and baked the rolls. DH did the gravy and everyone else contributed the rest of the meal. Sis and her family were late with ham, but we went ahead and ate without them. They arrived for the 'second seating', and everyone who wanted ham returned to the table to indulge. I know she felt bad about being late but it solved my seating issues (didn't have to clean up the dirty, spidery outside chairs after all). I had put my spring green gingham checked table cloths on the tables, then lined up small arrangements of red rose buds in baby's breath along the center of the tables (interspersed with some odds and ends decorative things). It had kind of country meal feel and I was satisfied. After gifts I cleared the table down to the wood (again with the roses) and set up dessert. Everyone had brought so much dessert stuff that it turned out to be a dessert bar.

Our Christmas tradition is to buy a stocking stuffer for each person in the family, then draw names to buy one "big" gift for someone. As always, my mother completely ignored all rules (my stocking stuffer from her was a plastic garbage bag bulging with goodies). Within my 'stocking stuffers' from Mom were two faerie pop-up books that I'd been coveting (but, controlling my impulsive shopping urges, had not bought for myself). I hadn't even mentioned them to her, she just knows me. My niece had drawn my name this year and my gift from her was two audio books (UNabridged, thank you very much): my favorite Nora Roberts books from the Three Sisters trilogy.

Everyone was in great spirits. My sister got the insanity off to a good start by giving everyone a disk shooter toy. This is something she does every year. When I rebuilt our deck five (more?) years ago I found an assortment of different projectiles from these annual gifts from Sis. The gift opening ritual was highlighted by my mother's out-of-character ribald comments all night (where did that come from?) and the occasional hilarious reaction to the well-chosen gift.

We passed up on the annual board game challenge (although DS1 had brought his new Mega-Monopoly game) and people went home fairly early. I urged DS1 and DIL to stay another night (they had mixed feelings about going home; the mommy in me didn't like the idea of them driving home with the drunks so convinced them to stay.)

Overall a thoroughly satisfying day.

Now I just have to schedule my time so that I get my files transferred onto my new computer (I think she needs a name) AND listen to a couple of audio books AND stitch AND work on a quilt.

I am up to the challenge! Or not. Doesn't matter, it's vacation.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Happy Christmas!

It's a quiet Christmas morning. Santa filled the stockings and now I just wait until the little ones awaken. Mind, my little ones are 29 and 26 years old (6'4" and 6'5" respectively) and only one of them spent the night here last night (with his wife).

When they were little, DH would be awake by 5:00. He would grind his coffee, then roam the halls tapping on doors, soft enough that I wouldn't hear, but - he hoped - loud enough to wake the boys and get the insanity going. There is still insanity to be enjoyed, but it will begin a tad later. DS2 promises to be home by 8:00 for breakfast, the turkey goes into the oven at 11:00 and the rest of the family will begin to arrive after 1:00.

I'm having fifteen for dinner today. I'm a little nervous because I know they won't fit around the table. I'm hoping if I move a couple of pieces of furniture I will be able to extend the table (or rather, add another table) into the family room far enough to fit everyone in (the tree is kind of in the way, though.) Oh well, we'll work it out.

DH just popped his head in to wish me a Merry Christmas. He'll go light the fire and grind his coffee, which may or may not be enough to wake the others. Still, I need to go dry my hair and get some sweats on and make some decisions about breakfast.

So, if anyone happens to drop in, I wish you a very merry day today. For my friends on the other side, I hope your Christmas was a happy one.

Friday, December 21, 2007

A gift from Laura...

at Passione Ricamo.

I've always loved this sentiment. It reminds me that even if we can't all be physically together, it doesn't mean we aren't thinking of each other and sending our love. This is a delightful chart and I can't wait to get it started for next year. Even though it has - sigh - letters, I'm thinking I may do several to give as gifts.

Laura is incredibly generous with her gift charts. It reminds me once again how important it is to honor the talent of those who have talent. My own sons are musicians (one's a composer) and my husband used to do some computer program design. The world of creativity is, sadly, at risk because it is so easy to steal talent from the internet. One of my students said this year, "Why would Windows put a music burner in their media program if you weren't meant to copy music?" Sadly, that's a viewpoint that is becoming more and more prevalent. If I CAN take it that must mean it's mine to take.

I guess I need to rant. If artists are generous enough to give a gift as Laura has, the best we can do is to support their work by purchasing what they do sell. And if they don't sell something we can use, the least we can do is honor their generosity by not stealing the design and trying to sell it as our own.

End of lecture.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Rain, rain, rain, rain...

Beautiful rain
Rain, rain, rain, rain
Beautiful rain.

Oh, come
Never come
Oh, come
Never come
Oh, come
Never come
Beautiful rain.

This was one of my favorite songs by Ladysmith Black Mombazo.

Happily, the beautiful rain has come to SoCA. Our normal rainfall here is about 13" per year. Last year we had 3 (three) inches. Now, we have a slow-moving storm that has been dropping water on us since just before noon. And though DH thinks I'm nuts, I would swear there were tiny snowflakes mixed with the droplets as the storm started. Maybe sleet, although I couldn't feel anything "hit" except the wet of the raindrops.

It doesn't matter. I'm just so grateful that the trees and roses are getting a good, deep drink. Best of all, DH's theory about the garage roof leak seems to be correct. DS2 climbed up there and cleaned some trash and leaves from the joint where the two roofs (kitchen and garage) come together and there isn't a drop leaking into the garage from this storm (knocking on wood). In fact, the only problem so far has been that my car's alarm is on a hair-trigger and has been set off twice today. Once at school when a helicopter flew over low (must have been a police copter; wonder who he was looking for) and once in the driveway when the rain came down particularly hard. I'm hopeful it won't happen again at 3:00 am.

So far tonight I have made a batch of brownies, made the dough for snickerdoodles (to be baked tomorrow and made into cookie plates for colleagues) and have finished DH's surprise Christmas present. I may re-do it when we move because I'm not totally happy with the matting, but he probably won't even notice the problem. I figure to wait until we move and then can change the color of the matt when I re-matt the print if we want a different color.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Stitching Jubilee

A few years back, as I was picking up a needle again after a long time away from stitching, I read in a stitchery magazine about a stitching "festival" to be held in the not-too-distant (about 90 miles) town of Riverside, CA. Since I have family there, I thought this would be a great opportunity to visit them and go check out at least the vendor fair for this festival.

What a blast! I spent way too much money but had a fabulous time. I bought the little birdhouse sewing kit from Lorri Birmingham, a handful of Margaret Sherry and Valerie Pfieffer charts from the Brit Stitch booth, and a whole bunch of charts for miniature stockings and rugs from Debra at her Wee Darlings booth. I did the most damage to my bank account at the Stoney Creek monster booth. (Trust me, all the pictures of their designs simply do not do the actual finished pieces justice!) I was able to buy full sets of back issues for a couple of afghans as well as a handful of chart books. I even won a doorprize from HeavenLee Designs, the most yummy piece of sparkly, apricot colored linen you've ever seen. I still haven't figured out what to put on it but enjoy visiting it in the museum.

I had such a good time that I was determined to take my mom the following year. That year they moved the location to a hotel near the Burbank airport, which worked out great for me since mom lives about a half-hour from there. The two of us, again, spent way too much money but had a blast and looked forward to the next event, possibly even staying and taking some classes.

Unfortunately, the next year's event was scheduled in Las Vegas, too far for us at that time of year (some stitchers do have to work to support our addiction) and after that the CATS Stitching Festival moved to the east coast for a couple of years, then this year CATS disbanded completely.

The good news came in the email the other day. The folks at Stoney Creek, major sponsors of the Stitching Festivals, are starting STITCHING JUBILEE. They've got a Yahoo group started for information and a website slated to begin next month. I've added some links that might give more information (see Other Bloggers of Note). The first Stitching Jubilee is scheduled in Pennsylvania and I know I can't manage that one, but I'm very happy for the stitchers that will be able to attend. Just being able to meet these folks in person and see their design models (and buy the charts once inspired) was a real treat.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Oops, correction

DS2 did NOT quit the post office, he is working two jobs.

I can't keep up.

Friday, December 14, 2007

I love my car, I love my car...

Really, I do love my car. It's a 2003 Ford Explorer. The small one without the fancy gadgets. I've had it to Kansas and back three times (with my mom, stopping at quilt shops along the way) and back and forth to Eden a half dozen times more. In it I feel safe and comfortable.

Until recently.

I seem to have a short in my alarm system and the car "chirps" for no reason at random times. Today I stopped at Smart & Final for some Christmas shopping. As I was checking out the store door slid open and I could hear a car honking away. I looked over and realized in horror that it was MY car making all that racket. The clerk said it had been doing that for a long time. DH knows about as little about cars as I do, but my next-door neighbors are much more knowledgeable and came over to check things out. They tinkered a while, then undid the battery cables for a couple of minutes to see if the system would reset. So far it's been quiet for about a half hour and I'm hoping that holds until tomorrow when we may be able to take it to our mechanic. Of course, this happened during the exact week that DH's car is in the garage (seven days and counting) getting its transmission rebuilt. DH and I are sharing my car, so it can't be laid up right now.

Anyway, I was really looking forward all day to coming home and catching up here. A little later than I'd hoped but here I am. Not that there's a whole lot to tell.

It's wintertime at Disneyland and I've been becoming reacquainted with the Santa Ana Fwy enjoying the holiday decor. They've done something new with the castle called "Wintertime Enchantment". They turn on all of these lights (85,000 LED lights) in three "acts" and with each act it "snows" at Disneyland. Yes, it's movie snow (otherwise known as shaving cream) and is rather odd in that it "falls" in small, predefined areas (under the blowers), but deprived California children think it's really wonderful (and hundreds of mid-westerners escaping the cold to come to sunny SoCA think the locals are insane.) I went one Sunday with two colleagues, the next Wednesday for Walt Disney's birthday (by myself as my sister has started a new job and couldn't justify taking the day off) and then day before yesterday I took my parents.

We got to be part of "The Year of a Million Dreams"! Mom and Dad LOVE Billy Hill and the Hillbillies. We were on our way into the theater when we were stopped by a very sweet castmember named Katrina. "Are you going to see the show?" she asked. "Oh, yes, we're big fans!" we replied. She smiled and looked at my mom in her wheelchair, asking, "Are you able to get out of your chair?" After Mom replied that yes, she could transfer out, Katrina asked if Mom could handle a few "steps". Thinking Katrina was asking if Mom could walk a few steps, Mom said yes. "Then let me show you to your table," Katrina invited. Now this was new, as the Golden Horseshoe Theater is strictly seat and serve yourself. Little did we know...

Katrina led us to "Walt's Box". This is the box that Walt Disney used whenever he wanted to watch the Golden Horseshoe Revue. We got to watch the show from this box and didn't have to wait in the long food line for a snack.

This is my hot fudge sundae which is a kind of a hidden Mickey. Check out the cookie ears.

We all never get tired of the Hillbillies, but this was a whole different perspective on the show.

My folks liked it that I was so excited to be sitting in Walt's box, but they didn't like being "on stage" nor did they like this perspective on the show so we came back after a little shopping for a second show. Fantastic music and hysteria. Can't beat it.

After dinner we headed back to It's a Small World to enjoy the holiday overlay. The music is an arrangement that blends that "famous" tune with "Jingle Bells" and "Deck the Halls". The decorations are amazing. More amazing are the new LED lights on the exterior. The holiday lighting has always been spectacular but now they are simply amazing!

In other news, I'm having a really hard time getting my act together for Christmas. This will be the first year in many (over a quarter of a century. There, doesn't that sound like a long time?) that there are no children living here. So far my tree is up but that's about it. I've done some shopping but am not even close to being done (I think I've bought more for myself than for the others this year). DH will be gone all morning tomorrow so I'm hoping to get some decorating (and cleaning) done as well as get his big gift put together. I don't know if he pops in here or not but I'm not taking a chance. I'll post a picture of his gift after Christmas (forget it, honey, if you're checking in.)

We're still waiting on the fences. Good thing we have lovely neighbors and that neither household has small children or dogs.

DS2 quit the post office. I think the final straw was when he tried to get a Saturday off so that he could be a groomsman in the wedding of a lifelong friend. DS2 had been asked to walk the mother of the groom down the aisle. His supervisor told him that if he wanted the day off he would have to get his shift covered (mind you, he's a SUB himself!) He got the shift covered so his A__H___ supervisor scheduled him for a second shift, then made him get someone to cover that. DS2 got that one covered and the supervisor scheduled him for a THIRD shift, then made him get it covered before he finally got the day off. Sort of. The supervisor still made him come in to case routes from 6:00 to 8:00 am on the morning of the wedding. DS2 had a year to learn first-hand what is meant by "going postal." It was the year from hell and he quit as of this week. He's been rehired at the local "best" pizza place where he worked before he went away to college for two years. When he worked there before he made about $100 a night between hourly pay and tips and he knows they will give him regular, predictable hours. Most importantly the local owners always treated their employees with integrity, something that was, sadly, lacking in our post office once the postmaster (who hired DS2) was transferred to "help out" another branch.

DS1 seems to be settling into a better routine at his school. A couple of his emotionally disturbed students were sent to another school which brought him down to "only" 19 fourth and fifth graders in a 250 square foot classroom with a floor that slopes ten degrees. They hired a supervisor so that the teachers can take a potty break and short lunch break every day (he had been working 7:30 am to 4:30 pm with only ten minutes to run to the restroom because there was nobody else to watch his students for recess and lunch.)

DH is having the time of his life between his emancipated foster youth volunteering, Big Brothers (his "little" is a 17-year-old high school junior who DH will be helping get ready for graduation and college) and his American Sign Language classes in addition to being elected President for a second term on the Community College District Board of Trustees. Now, if I could just convince this retired "house husband" (his words) to cook on a regular basis...

I have not taken a stitch in over a week. I did manage to finish up the last two years' Christmas scrapbook pages so that I can leave the albums out for the holiday. Looks like nobody is getting my little kitten this year as I've run out of time. So what else is new? Sigh.

I've been reading Getting Things Done by David Allen (who, it turns out, lives very close to me in the nearby town of Ojai.) It's actually interesting enough to keep me awake at night. However, I'm a long way from implementing any of his ideas (although I did set up an inbox at school with notebook paper nearby to add items.) I think that will help me keep on top of things there if I can manage to remember to do the weekly review. Things aren't looking too good right now, though. The big task I needed to accomplish this weekend was to write up the observation report for the new teacher I'm mentoring and I left all my notes in my classroom. Sitting right next to the new inbox.

And for the last half hour the horn on my car has been chirping.

It may be a long night if it kicks into panic mode again.


Saturday, December 01, 2007

100 posts!

Actually, I missed my 100th post (This is number 102). I'm not sure how that happened as, the last time I checked, I was only at 89. It will probably be back under 100 tomorrow, huh?

Still, for this milestone it seems appropriate for me to send out my Christmas card. My thanks to Missy for the idea. She shared her favorite Christmas song via Dave Matthews on youtube, which I really enjoyed. And she inspired me to go on over to youtube and see if my own rather obscure Christmas song might just maybe be there. Oh my gosh! It was.

So here is a favorite memory of a very special man who helped me and my sons have a very special Christmas.

"If you believe in love, that will be more than enough for you to come and celebrate with me."

P.S. I admit I didn't watch this all the way to the end before putting it here. Apparently the youtube poster did a little editing. My advice is to push the pause button right after Robert says "Merry Christmas" to this Uncle Kermit. Of course, if you play it to the end, you may have the same good laugh I did.

Just a ramble.

Yosemite Falls by Helene Knott. (Are quilt patterns italicized as if they are complete novels, or in quotes as if they are stories?)

Bear with me, I'll circle around to this quilt eventually.

Once I was thinking out loud about something to my sister. At some point there was a pause and my sister, with an awestruck expression on her face, said something like, "Does your mind always work like that? It must be exhausting." I think she meant it as a compliment but mostly the way my mind wanders around makes me feel befuddled most of the time. Anyway, this entry will be one of those meanders through the maze.

First, my congratulations and appreciation to all of you who completed the NaPloBoMo challenge of one post a day for the month (and weren't you all glad it was a short month?) I really enjoyed the insights into your lives and appreciate the time and effort you took to meet that challenge. So far the overwhelming response from the writers I've been reading has been, "Whew, glad that's over!" but I'm going to miss you.

A benefit for me has been that, as I've checked in daily to enjoy the daily posts, I've also tried to comment more and, when I'm in the comments sections, I usually find another comment that reaches out and interests me. Sometimes it's something said or even just the way it is said, and I'm one click and off to meet someone new. I've added several new blogs to my reading list and have enjoyed getting to know you all. Today I wandered to Australia to meet chiasmata . When I was eight I read a book called My Zoo Family and from that moment until high school graduation planned to be a zookeeper, so I identified right away with her love of animals. I had to laugh when she talked about her budgie sitting on her head and nibbling her hair. I had one once who did the same thing so that brought back nice memories for me.

I also felt her frustration as she ranted about one special adolescent in her life. Her concerns reflected mine about many of my students exactly. I recently had this conversation with my 26-year-old son. He commented that, no offense, Mom, he would not raise his kids the way he'd been raised. I had to laugh and assure him that if I could go back thirty years, I would not raise him and his brother the same way, either. As it turns out, we both had reached the same conclusion from our different impressions of the same experience (him growing up). Every parent tries to do better for their child than their parents did for them. I can, in good conscience, say that I did not make the same mistakes with my children that my parents did with me. I made different mistakes, and my children are having to retrain themselves now because of them. Because I wanted them to be happy, and because it gave me joy to watch them explore their talents, I did not do a good job of making them "earn" much of anything. Now, I didn't buy them whatever toys they wanted. I always said, "No," as I recall although their dad was a different story. But they didn't go without for very long when they needed equipment or supplies to explore their passions. As a result, especially the youngest is struggling with the concept that he might be stuck for a while in a job he hates so that he can pay the bills.

But at least he's in the job. What I'm seeing in my classroom is the next generation, so spoiled and lazy that a growing number of them expect to get good grades in school just because they have done us the favor of showing up for class. Perfectly nice, smart kids who have nothing more challenging in their lives than fighting the dress code and figuring out how to hide their ipod in class so they can play solitaire rather than pay attention to the assignment, and whose parents then demand an hour of my time (unpaid) to rant about their child's poor grade in class.

And the next turn in the maze is into our contract negotiations. I'm fortunate that I'm covered under my husband's decent medical insurance but some of our younger teachers with young families are paying out 20% and more of their monthly income to keep their children insured. If this country doesn't socialize its health care (the way we've done everything from fire protection to libraries) we're going to be in deeper trouble very soon. Now that I think of it, I don't like this part of the maze so I'm backing out and heading for a happier place.

My escape into fantasy for the holiday started Thursday when I went to see Disney's Enchanted (I'm still humming "Happy Working Song" - "pluck a hairball from the shower drain") and continues tomorrow with my first trip to Disneyland of the winter. I'm going with friends tomorrow, then am supposed to go with my sister for our annual pilgrimage for Walt Disney's birthday. She's just starting a new job, though, and may not be able to get the day off so I may be alone. That's OK. On the following Wednesday I will take my parents for their winter visit. They love the place any time, but Disneyland in its winter decor is not to be missed. This year they have something new - Wintertime Enchantment - and we're all anxious to experience it.

Today is errands day, though, and I need to close this up and get ready to venture out. I'm starting a California Tribute quilt using mostly McKenna Ryan blocks. However, I'm also using a pattern by Helene Knott (see, I told you I'd get there) as the centerpiece and need to see if I can find the right batik for the mountainside. It's one of those domino quilting experiences. I bought the Yosemite Falls pattern. I've also been collecting McKenna Ryan patterns for years with no idea what to do with them. Somewhere along the line as we've worked on designing the Utah house I decided that I wanted the upstairs decor to reflect our love of the Rocky Mountains (where the house will be), but the downstairs guest areas to reflect our love of the natural beauty and wildlife of California. It was during my McKenna Ryan club meeting at my lns (well, it's in the next town but it's as close as I come) that it dawned on me I could combine a lot of the patterns I already had into a California quilt for downstairs. I want to put the Falls in the center, then surround it with other blocks. The one I was working on - orange poppies, our state flower - would be perfect in said quilt. So, here's how the dominoes fell.

I have the poppies block ready to fuse to the background. Our teacher says for best results to follow McKenna's directions in the pattern. Her directions say to put the sashing or border on before fusing to make sure your poppy stems are right up next to the seam. I don't have fabric for sashing. If I buy sashing fabric, I want it to be for the whole California quilt. Before I commit to the whole California quilt (and buy the sashing fabric) I want to see if I can find the right fabric for those rock slopes in the Falls pattern. Once I commit to the Falls (meaning, I have the rock fabric) I can commit to the sashing and can draw out the design so I know how big a sashing to sew onto the poppy block so I can then fuse the pieces! While I'm thinking of it, I should also get the background, because these are all 'quilt-as-you-go' blocks so if I want to sew them down I need the backing, too.

And this is why I have so many partially collected kits around and very few starts. Kathryn, my book better get here, soon!

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Do you know your Disney?

Watch the movie.

And don't forget to listen to the music in the background, too.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

He's doing OK, his truck is not.

On Saturday we watched from our back fence as the fire department worked on an accident victim. It seemed to us the guy must have crawled up from in the ditch after his truck went into it.

Today I ran into one of the police officers that worked the site of the accident on Saturday and was able to get a few details. The driver fell asleep at the wheel, hit the streetlight standard, careened across the street and down 100 feet to the bottom of the ditch. He crawled up the embankment. He had some injuries but is doing well.

The police officer said he should have been killed. The police officer said the guy should buy a lottery ticket.

The truck was totaled, but then, we guessed that.

The goldfinches are back.

They crack me up.When the feeder is full they share space nicely and don't make a sound. I can always tell, though, when the feeder is getting low on seed, like it is today. It's down to the last couple of inches and about a dozen goldfinches are fighting over space to hang and eat. They squabble and squawk and shove each other off.

It's really quite amusing.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Amazing Christmas Movie

Hallmark - Silent Night

Confession: I never took down the outside lights along the eaves last year. I admit, I'm spoiled. My two sons are both well over six feet tall and I got used to them taking five minutes to simply reach their long arms up and take down the four strings of lights. If I do it, I have to climb up the step stool, take down a section, climb down the step stool, move it four feet, climb up the step stool... Anyway, the year got away from me and here we are, ready to put them up, but first they had to come down and I had to replace most of the bulbs because, after a year in the elements, most of the paint has worn off the bulbs.

So, while I was replacing fuses and bulbs and cleaning up the strands in general I was watching Silent Night, a Christmas movie produced by Hallmark starring Linda Hamilton (of Terminator and Beauty and the Beast fame.) What an incredible movie! It's based on a true story of a German mother who takes her son to the family hunting cabin at the time of the Battle of the Bulge. Three American and three German soldiers end up taking shelter in her home on Christmas Eve. The story was compelling and the acting superb.

I went right onto Amazon and ordered a copy for $6.99. It won't get here until after Christmas but that's all right. I'll just add it to the collection and enjoy it for years to come.

Why I Hate My Job

"It is emphatically the province and duty of the judicial department to say what the law is."

Our lesson before Thanksgiving in my eighth grade history classes was about a court case called Marbury v. Madison. In this case (1803) the United States Supreme Court declared that its role would be to evaluate laws to make sure they did not conflict with our Constitution. This sentence is part of the decision. As part of their assignment on this decision, my students were supposed to define the word "province" as it is used in this context.

Over half of them used this definition: "an administrative division or unit of a country."

It would be bad enough if they had merely gotten confused. Their mistake moved into the category of an insult because I used exactly this quote - and said incorrect definition - as an example of why it was important to look carefully at the context. "Every year students use the first definition in the dictionary for this word, " I warned. "Be careful! 'An administrative division or unit of a country' is referring to how some countries - like Canada - are divided. The US is divided into states, Canada is divided into provinces. This is not the correct definition for the word as it is used in this court decision. Keep reading the definitions and find the one that fits the context in the sentence."

And over half of them STILL used the first definition.

How long until I can retire?

Monday, November 26, 2007

Shepherd's Bush Blog

Cross Stitchers! Go check out the Shepherd's Bush Blog (link in the sidebar section "Stitchers to Visit") and watch the video to get a nice look at my favorite lns!

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Christmas Movies

Missy got me to thinking about Christmas movies this morning.

I love them all. (Well, except for the colorized version of the original Miracle on 34th Street; I prefer the black and white.) So, just for the heck of it (and because this blog is as close to a continuous journal of my life as I have ever or probably will ever come) here is a list of those I enjoy:

Miracle on 34th Street (1947 with Natalie Wood and Edmund Gwenn)
It's a Wonderful Life
The Bishop's Wife
White Christmas
The Family Stone
A Christmas Carol
(the Alistair Sim version is best but George C. Scott did a good job in the 1980s, too)

Santa Claus is Coming to Town (claymation)
Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer (claymation)
A Charlie Brown Christmas

There's another old Bing Crosby movie called Holiday Inn that I would add to this list, too, although technically it's not a "real" Christmas movie (the song "White Christmas" was introduced in this movie.)

My boys were second generation watchers of the claymation movies. I videotaped the movies when the boys were really little so they could watch them whenever they wanted. We would pull those tapes out every year and I got such a giggle when one of the boys would shout, "I want that!" when some commercial for a long-out-of-production toy would come on. ("Fire alert! Fire alert!) Now we have the dvd versions but I kind of miss those commercials.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Here kitty, kitty

She's shaping up.

I can't decide who to give her to. I know five people w
ho would love to have her.


Clam Dip and Christmas Trees

Christmas tree, my Christmas tree
Lit up like a star
When I see my Christmas tree
Can loved ones be far?
Christmas tree I'm certain
Wherever I roam
The glow from your branches
Will light my way home.

("My Christmas Tree" from Home Alone)

It's time for me to confess to the unforgivable. I have a love/hate relationship with Christmas trees.

I love ours when it's finally done.

Ornaments collected from every Christmas night
Memories reflected in tinsel and light

I've don't understand people who hire interior decorators to come up with new themes for their tree each year. Ours is an annual reminder of our family's history. There are ornaments that I've made and some that I bought just because they tickled my fancy. DH has purchased a few (like Santa in a yellow kayak that is an annual reminder of his dream of kayaking in the Rockies when we move there.) I have ornaments from Disneyland and each year since we bought the condo I've added one with a moose theme.

The most important ornaments, though, are the ones we've bought for the boys as they've grown up. One each year starting with their first Christmas and as long as they let me buy them. Last year, at ages 28 and 25, they still let me haul them to the Hallmark store to choose a new one, and last year we got to bring DH1's new wife so that she could choose one, too.

All the ornaments go onto a tree with 1500 lights, dozens of colored glass balls in the interior and garlands of "candy" (well, it's plastic candy but it's cute, anyway). As a last touch I add four dozen glass icicles. Ahhh... it's a glorious site to behold.

But getting there is a bitch.

The painful experiences started when the boys were little. Each year we headed out on the day after Thanksgiving to a tree farm to cut our own tree. We would search and search for one that was straight, but since the tree farm was in a valley that caught the breeze off the ocean, it was tough to find one that was straight. One year we went to a different farm and found what appeared to be a straight tree. DH whispered to us, "Turn around and walk away now." We walked a few yards away, then DH spun around. "What are you doing?" I asked. He explained that these trees stand straight and tall while you're looking at them, but when you aren't looking they relax into their natural wonky position. But, even after the test, this one was still straight as an arrow, so we cut it down and brought it home.

Where it relaxed into it's natural wonky position.

Our last tree from the tree farm was so dry by Christmas that we had to take it down the day after (irrigation is a good thing, too bad the farmer neglected to do so.) DS1 developed mild asthma during the following year, so we switched from a natural tree to an artificial tree. (My sister had severe asthma as a kid and I remembered how getting an artificial tree had saved Christmas for us.) There was a lot to love about the artificial tree. It was straight. It wouldn't dry out to become a fire hazard. It was straight. The branches didn't bend under the weight of larger ornaments. It was straight. If there wasn't a branch where we wanted an ornament, we'd just tweak a branch into that spot.

And it was straight.

However, it always felt like it was dried out, and putting the lights on every year was painful. One year I realized that if you could buy trees with the lights on at the store, you could also store the tree with the lights on. So, I invested in all new strands of lights and wound them "one last time" onto the tree. For the entire next year I dreamed of bringing out the tree, assembling it, then just plugging in the lights.

It worked OK for a while except that there was always one strand (well, sometimes two) that needed new fuses. That was a minor inconvenience compared to what came after about the sixth year.

It was a low-budget year. On the day after Thanksgiving I pulled the box from its storage area in the garage and into the kitchen. I opened the box and realized that rats had nested in the tree. What a mess. There was no way I was putting that disgusting thing up in my family room, so it went into the trash and I made an emergency trip to Michael's for a (gulp) new tree. The only tree they had with the shape I wanted already had several hundred lights on it, but they were all white and I wanted multi-colored. Again, I invested (gulp) in new lights. It took an entire day - 8 hours - to get all the white lights off that tree, and a good part of the next day to wind the new lights on.

The next year I excitedly brought out the tree, assembled it and plugged in the lights only to discover that a couple of strands had broken (couldn't tell what had happened until I had unwound them from the tree) so the entire process of taking lights off, putting new ones one had to be repeated.

Christmas 2007.

I used to love the whole build-up to "dressing the house" for Christmas. As a SAHM I would spent weeks cleaning until the entire house - from it's newly waxed floors to the inside of the frig to the crystal clear windows - sparkled. Then I would delight in bringing out the collection of Santas, snowmen and miniature trees. Even the bathrooms were decorated!

Once the children came it became harder to do the cleaning, and when I started teaching the cleaning part kind of went into minimalist mode. I no longer put up all the decorations everywhere, but that tree does get done and was yesterday's task. I actually pulled the pieces out and assembled the tree on Thanksgiving morning. I plugged in the lights and...

Looks a little lopsided, doesn't it? That's because TWO strands of lights were out. This year I tried to be smart about it, though. I plugged in every strand individually. I put a piece of green electrical tape on the plugs that worked and a piece of yellow tape on the plugs that didn't. The day after Thanksgiving I went to the early sale at Michael's. I got there just after 6:00 am so that I could get 25% off my entire order, which included TWO new strands of lights to replace the TWO that were out. Yesterday I unwound the TWO strands that were out and found the wires had broken. I unwound the TWO strands that were damaged.

And about pitched the whole thing through a window when I realized there was another strand (for which I had no replacement) out. With a piece of GREEN tape on its plug, which means it worked the day before. I had to give up out of frustration.

Always such a lovely way to start the holiday season.

And so what does all this have to do with clam dip? It's how I get through this annual torture. 2 cans of chopped clams, a pint of sour cream, a large brick of cream cheese, 1/2 onion (minced), a little Worchestershire sauce and a couple healthy shakes of tobasco. (You can add a little lemon juice but I prefer it without.)

To end on a positive note...

I scored a big box of flat head quilt pins at the Michael's sale.

500 pins, $9.99 and 25% off. I bought a box of 50 pins for $3.99 at a quilt shop last summer and LOVE using them, so I feel like I got a bargain to get 500 pins for $7.50.

In stitching, I'm working on the Margaret Sherry kitten (hanging in a wreath) that was a free kit in one of the British stitchery magazines last year (they're the best, but very expensive here). I'll post a pic when I finish.


While I was updating one of my blogs this morning, I heard the tell-tale sound of a car hitting one of the light standards behind our house. It sounds like an explosion, so my first stop was to check my husband and make sure he was all right. The fire station is about a hundred yards from the house and we heard the siren in no time. When we got to the back to see what had happened, we saw one person leaning against a tree with the firefighters administering aid. No vehicle in sight. It was then we realized that he must have lost control of his car and gone down into the barranca, then climbed out and rested against the tree until someone called for aid (or he did with his cell, I guess.) I stopped watching the rescue when they started wrapping bandages around his head (seemed more than a little bit of an invasion of privacy at that point) but went back out to watch the recovery of his truck.

I took some pictures of the recovery effort.

I hope the driver (a young man) is all right, although I will reserve judgment on just how sorry to feel for him when I get the rest of the story (the tallest policeman is the youth officer at my school and may tell me something next week.) We have a problem in our neighborhood with young drivers going WAY too fast and it that's what happened here, my sympathy is limited. However, this is also a dangerous road (it has a funny swerve in a bad place that results in about an accident each year, one fatality) and if he's a victim of the road then my heart goes out to him.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

One More Time

Thanks, Chiloe, for cluing me in that my holiday greeting was too well hidden. I've moved it up to the top if anyone wants to check it out. And thanks to my niece for cracking me up with hers!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Happy Holidays from Debi

Go on over to the sidebar and click on "Happy Holidays from Debi" for my holiday greeting. This is me with about 100 lbs sliced off, and it's about the only way I will see snow this year (and - sigh - I like snow.)

Anyway, have a terrific turkey day and enjoy the holiday season that follows!


Quilter's Zodiac

I love sidebar surfing. Today I was surfing Sam's sidebar and one of her blogger friends had posted about the Quilter's Zodiac. Had to go check it out and get a good laugh. My birthday is June 22 which is on the cusp of Gemini and Cancer. In this article the Gemini side of me is right on! LOL

- May 21 to June 21 If Gemini has been fortunate enough to discover a tutor that has guided their enthusiasm, their quilts will be imaginative and versatile. If they are self-taught quilters they will have a treasure trove books, magazines, quilting supplies and every innovation related to quilting but they probably do not have a single finished quilt. [That's me!] This won't bother them though as they will convince everyone, including themselves, that this was always their plan. Being youthful they love funky projects that use bright fabrics and dazzling threads; being romantic they love traditional quilts made with soft pastels and florals; being whimsical they love the country theme and flannels; being Gemini they love it all! [Yep!] Being very good with words, they will likely go on to author books as experts on patchwork and quilting - having never finished a single project. [LOL! Except I will never finish the book, either! And yes, I have finished a couple of quilts.]

Cancer - June 22 to July 22 Cancer makes quilts to please themselves not to showcase. They do appreciate compliments on their work but being timid they aren't likely to enter a quilt in a competition.They want their quilts to be practical and comfortable and aren't likely to hang one on the wall, but actually use them on beds. Being cautious they are most likely to stick to the traditional designs. They are not likely to add decorative touches, such as trims or whatnots. They believe that quilts are naturally beautiful and do not need embellishments. They love to use dark rich colours in their quilts considering these as more practical. When they discover a quilt shop they like, they become lifetime, loyal customers. [Except for the loyal customer part I'm not sure this sounds too much like me.]

Shepherd's Bush has a blog!

It may seem a little weird, but my lns is 800 miles away. Shepherd's Bush is the most wonderful shop I've ever been in - of any kind! It's warm and cozy and a little funky. The people give the words "friendly" and "helpful" new meaning, although they never hover. Conversely, both times I went looking for something in my closest stichery shop (one town over) I was insulted. That is, when I had the nerve to ask for something they didn't have, they turned it around to imply that there was something wrong with me for wanting it.

We own two pieces of property in the little Utah town of Eden which is less than 15 minutes "up the canyon" from Shepherd's Bush which is in the nearest big town, Ogden, Utah. We bought the condo five years ago and so fell in love with this part of the country that two years ago we bought a lot in a subdivision to build a house on. We were hoping to start packing up in January, digging the basement in March with a move-in date of next fall. Sadly, Bush-enomics have trickled down, the country is in dire economic straits, and the real estate market is at a dead stop. Since we can't move forward on the house we want to build until we sell the condo, we are stuck 800 miles from our "home town." Hence, I am 800 miles from my local needlework shop. Still, I get up there two or three times a year, so I just keep an ongoing list and get what I need/want on those trips.

They just started a new blog (the link is in the "Stitchers to Visit" section of the sidebar.) It's like the shop - warm and chatty and friendly. I know they're busy so I hope they can find the time to keep this up. It's like a little visit from 800 miles away.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

I'm So Excited!

One of the blog sites I visit every day is my friend, Chiloe, in France and she sends me to amazing French stitchery sites (and an amazing blinkie site, too!). Sadly (and here is a lecture on American education from an American teacher) our education system is so deficient (and arrogant) that we only educate our children in one language. I speak (and read) only English (con solamente un poquito del Espanol). I'm grateful for the amazing pictures on the French sites, but was getting frustrated that I couldn't READ (and LEARN) from them.

Then it dawned on me (duh!) that AltaVista has a wonderful site called BabelFish that will translate words and phrases! I was able to go translate a few things and while I was there, found that I could get code for site translation on my own site, too. So, in my sidebar there's a link to Babel Fish and another link to the site translator. If you want to try to translate my site give it a try. And if you would leave a comment and let me know how it works, I would appreciate it. I suspect it will be an awkward translation at best, but if it's understandable that would be great!

Friday, November 16, 2007

Here are my scissors, Chiloe! The colors didn't turn out too well (my stork scissors are actually gold-colored, not bronze). I was surprised at how many I had. Oh yeah, the thing that looks like a locket or medallion is a thread trimmer, too. The best pair is the silver pair with the little thimble fob. I bought them in the university bookstore when I was at UCSB for $2.49. They're dissection scissors for biology lab. And no, I never dissected anything with them (although I have done dissection.)

Chiloe, thanks for all the help with the Nimue site. I had already sent an email to ABC Stitch Therapy to ask if they had the chart (they have quite a few from Nimue - several of which are now on my Christmas wish list - and urge customers to email and ask if there is something they would like that is not shown.) If they don't have it I will definitely be following your guidance to order directly.

It's been a long time since I've done an update. Here are some things I'm working on.

I love embroidery. It's hard to see but I've drawn in all the borders. I want to sta
rt from the center and work out, and did the alphabet first 'cause letters are my least favorite part of a piece to do. Can't wait to get to do all the little bees and butterflies and caterpillars and ladybugs on this thing. I'm stitching through the top and bat and the lint is really flying. I may have to keep a fan going all the time I work on it just to protect my lungs!

These are the first two blocks of the winter wonderland quilt. I bought the pattern and background fabric over the summer. It's stitched through the background fabric and a piece of muslin to keep the stitches from showing. Note again, letters. These were not so bad because it's a fairly large piece so the letters were large. I enjoyed doing the little snowman making snow angels and look forward to the rest of the blocks.

Chiloe's flowers in her beloved vase reminded me that I have this Marjolein Bastin piece that I started. I dug it out again (see, you inspired me). And no, I realize now it's not the same butterfly at all. Don't know when I'll actually put needle to fabric but am going to give it my best shot.

I've been working on this nativity advent quilt by Paper Panache. (This is my favorite piece so far). I've finished some of the animals (sheep, dog, cat, cow) and a good part of the sky. I had hoped to finish it to take as a housewarming gift to a friend but didn't make it. Then I decided to try to finish it to send as a Christmas present, but that didn't work out, either. Her birthday is in late June so maybe I'll make it for that.

In other news, DS2 has gotten me hooked on Heroes. He had asked for the Season One dvd set for his birthday and I gave it to him. He later asked if we could wa
tch episode one together because, he said, he thought I would really like the program. Jeez, did I! I bought my own set and he and I had a marathon (five episodes, or was it six) last week. We have a date for another marathon this Sunday, too. I'm up to episode fifteen, one of his favorites, and he asked me to wait for him to share it with me so he can see my reaction. I'm really enjoying the writing and high production values but mostly I'm enjoying having this to share with him.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Sigh, I'm going to miss that thing

My husband and I moved into our present home in 1974, one of the first of 42 houses on a mesa that now holds thousands of homes. For the first couple of years we had a steady stream of cars cruising through our cul-de-sac checking out the neighborhood. As our living room was at the front of the of the house, we got pretty tired of being on display all the time. So, DH built a stucco wall enclosing a brick courtyard in the front of the house. On that wall I grew - for over twenty-five years - a gorgeous trumpet vine. I called her my hyperactive child, difficult to manage but oh, what a glorious thing!

The last spate of wildfires in SoCA were driven by the worst Santa Ana winds in my memory, and I've lived in this area for all of my 56 years. The winds did severe damage to our fences, including this stucco wall. There is no way to repair the wall. It had to come down. Unfortunately, according to the fence man who will replace the wall with a wooden fence, my trumpet vine also has to go because she will knock over the new fence.

This weekend, DH and DS2 worked their butts off taking down the wall, starting with the vine.

Poor DH hasn't done any real physical labor for at least ten years (he's 68.) At one point he came in to wash his hands and asked, "Am I hiding my pain well?" An hour later, I had to haul DS2 to the walk-in medical center for a tetanus shot (gored by a piece of chicken wire). But, they got the thing done.

I'm proud of them, and it had to be done.

But I sure am going to miss that vine.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Who D'Ya Like

DH and I were talking tonight about how disappointed we are that Al Gore has not thrown his hat into the Presidential ring. This led to a fun fantasy about who we would put into the Cabinet if there were no restrictions. We were chagrined to realize that, for the most part, we were inclined to do what Bush has done - put people in for reasons other than their relevant background and expertise. When we reined ourselves in a little we had come up with this slate:

Secretary of State: Bill Clinton
Secretary of the Treasury:
Secretary of Defense: Wes Clark
Attorney General:
Secretary of the Interior: Al Gore
Secretary of Agriculture:
Secretary of Commerce: Lou Dobbs
Secretary of Labor:
Secretary of Health and Human Services: Sheila Kuehl (CA)
Secretary of Housing and Urban Development: Maxine Waters
Secretary of Transportation:
Secretary of Energy: Rocky Anderson (UT)
Secretary of Education: Jack O'Connell (CA)
Secretary of Veteran's Affairs: Max Cleland
Secretary of Homeland Security: Jack Murtha

We got a giggle out of suggesting Jon Stewart for Press Secretary. We wished we knew more about Waxman's credentials, too, as we wanted to include him somewhere.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

So much going on...

... I hardly know where to start. First, I am grateful to my principal (who is not always the best manager) for my terrific schedule this year. Two classes, then my work period, then one class, then lunch, then two classes (the best two), then home. I feel human when I come home every day.

My younger son announced weekend before last that he was taking a short trip to Iowa to check out the Midwest. Iowa? We suspect a girl, probably someone he met online. Don't get me wrong, I love the midwest (would move to NE KS in a heartbeat) but I really don't think 26-year-old men decide on the spur of the moment to visit Iowa.

DH met his little brother, a 17-year-old high school junior last weekend (through Big Brothers and local foster youth coordinators). He showed up Monday to watch his football practice only to learn that the boy had partied Friday night (using marijuana and beer) and had been suspended from the team for a week. What a way to start off.

I'm thrilled to be able to write that I found my doctor. I've been going to this internist for two years and she decided to change practices. By the terms of her contract she could not tell her patients where she was going because "technically, my patients belong to XYZ Practice." (The owner of that practice needs to be reminded that owning people became unconstitutional after the Civil War.) Anyway, it took my two months but I finally tracked her down and had an appointment Friday. For the first time in my adult life my BP is down to 116/74 with my pulse 64 (yes, the meds finally worked). Now I have the usual list to complete (mammogram, tetanus shot and so on) but at least I have someone they can report to.

I decided to be a girl this year. Sis is selling Mary Kay and I signed up as a "personal use only" consultant to be one of her minions. This weekend I got to do my qualifying order and it was really fun. I love their cleansers and moisturizers so stocked up. Also ordered their new brushes (yummy, long handles) and some things for gifts. That will be a fun box when it gets here.

In her other business Sis sells Creative Memories scrapbooking supplies and crop is Saturday. She has a MK conflict that day so I will go over early and keep Mom company until Sis can get there. Should be fun, as always.

One of my colleagues lost her mother this weekend. She had been on dialysis for several months (diabetes) and had Alzeimers. My friend has really been struggling to be her mom's support. I know she is suffering now and I really feel for her. I'm grateful for every day my mom is with us.

I'm reading Family Tree by Barbara Delinsky. Very interesting premise. Young white couple gives birth to child who is obviously of African American heritage. Was the wife's father black? Was the wife unfaithful? What is bigotry, really, when approached from this perspective? How would your family react if this happened? Lots to think about.

Didn't do much stitching this week but did manage to get my desk cleaned off (yippeee!!!). Must go do homework before DS2 comes over this weekend. He's gotten me hooked on Heroes, and I have to watch episodes one and two (his dvds were scratched) so that we can watch three and four this weekend. We used to spend some good times together when he was in high school (and I got to drive him around to music events) but we've kind of grown apart. I'm glad to have this series to share.