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

Friday, March 30, 2007

Meme for the Day

Theme: Water

My favorite themed land in Disney's California Adventure is "A Bug's Land" On a summer's day this fountain surprises little kids with "random" flows of water, but in the winter it's on a gentler program that is enchanting.

So, this meme sounded like fun. Go to Wikipedia and search your birth month and day but not year. List three events, two birthdays, one death and one holiday observance.

OK, I got carried away.

June 22

Three Events:

1633 - Holy Office of Rome forces Galileo to recant his view that the Sun, not the Earth, is the center of the Universe.
1944 - Franklin Delano Roosevelt signs the GI Bill of Rights (Do you suppose Dubya has ever heard of it?)
1970 - 18-year-olds get the right to vote in the United States
2004 - President Bill Clinton's autobiography, My Life, is published.

Two Birthdays: I'm thrilled to see how many of my favorite people share my birthday!

1907 - Michael Todd (director of one of my favorite movies, Around the World in 80 Days with David Niven.)
1920 - Paul Frees (the voice of the Ghost Host at the Haunted Mansion, Disneyland.)
1933 - Dianne Feinstein (our senator from California and a fellow UC graduate in History)
1941 - Ed Bradley (60 Minutes journalist; we saw him on the sidewalk in NYC once.)
1944 - Peter Asher of "Peter and Gordon" ("I don't care what they say, I won't live in a world without love.")
1949 - Meryl Streep (enough said)
1952 - Graham Greene (Native American actor)
1973 - Cyndi Lauper ("I see your true colors shining through, I see your true colors and that's why I love you...)
1964 - Dan Brown (author of The DaVinci Code, Angels and Demons and Deception Point, all in my top ten fav books)

One Death: (sniff)

1969 - Judy Garland
1987 - Fred Astaire
2006 - Moose (played Eddie Crane on Frasier)

One Observance:

Anti-Fascist Struggle Day in Croatia (can you teach us how to do this?)

Friday, March 23, 2007


This one's for Sam. Have a GREAT trip!

Well, I survived the week so far. Last week I had multiple union meetings on top of trying to get grades out as we tried to "facilitate" action on the part of the Board of Trustees that would help the district move to being able to move our salaries and benefits from the muck on the bottom of county comparisons and up into more the middle range. The community is very confused about what we have been doing (writing letters, speaking at meetings, wearing buttons and shirts and this week working contract hours, which means not babysitting their children before and after school for free). It's incomprehensible to them that the union is actually SUPPORTING the Board.

Last weekend was a three-day weekend for me because our district took advantage of the option of moving the Lincoln holiday to last Monday. I cleaned the heck out of my family room (DH said he was going to take a picture when he returned from D.C.) on Saturday and Sunday, then went to Disneyland on Monday. I did some things in DCA that I'd never done before. (Sam - don't miss "Turtle Talk with Crush", Imagination building in the Hollywood Backlot section of DCA. Amazing!) Took some pictures, danced along with the Parade of Dreams, did some shopping and was home before midnight. I didn't think about my work issues all day and was restored.

Fortunately, my students are working on a Civil War journal all week so I was able to finish entering grades for report cards on Tuesday. Wednesday was another union meeting and distribution of t-shirts until about 6:00, then last night the Board meeting where they took action. It got ugly a couple of times and their action didn't really get us where we want to be but the meeting was, at least, well run (last week's meeting was insanity) and they did move forward. Now we can stand down for a few days. I will attend next week's rep meeting and host an action meeting in my classroom the next day. It is my hope that we can step back a little until May, when negotiations for next year pick up again.

Through all this I've been trying to finish the little quilt for my mom's birthday. It was down to the binding and I didn't know when I'd get it done (her 75th birthday is today and we celebrate it on Sunday). Then, yesterday I got up early and tried to log on to read union email before I left for work. The server was down and it occurred to me that if I could machine sew the binding on the quilt, I could take it to work and do the hand sewing while the high school counselors did their thing with my students. I'm so happy to report that it is finished, the first finish for the year (and maybe for two years). I think she will be pleased with it. Oh, yeah, I can't forget. As I was removing the basting threads I noticed I have two short pieces of hand quilting to finish tonight. Hope I have a few brain cells left to remember to finish it!

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Chaos Reigns

Theme: Drink

DS2 and I sharing a drink at Disneyland about sixteen years ago. I think there's a resemblance there. He's 25 now, almost 6'8", hair darker than mine in this pic. Lovely man. I'm very proud of him (and his older brother, too!)

To my family, I apologize. Things have been crazy and I haven't been posting here much.

If you're popping in for the Photo Hunt or any stitchery news, welcome, thanks for coming by and you may want to move on, now. I'm going to vent for a while.

First, it's grades time. I've never quite conquered the "timely return of papers." Every time I give students a "quick" assignment to practice something, they snap it out in ten minutes. But because there are 175 of them, they take forever to process and the next day there's another set. Figure in being sick for three weeks and I had a real mess. Anyway, I finally got everything graded and in the computer. I only have to add one extra-credit grade and can calculate finals and enter them into the district system Tuesday.

I hope.

The second piece of chaos is that our school district has entered into the "let's screw the teachers again" part of their annual program. The background to the story is that, while we live in the most expensive community in our county (a mortgage broker told me two years ago to hold onto my house because we are becoming the new Santa Barbara), our employee salaries and benefits are the worst in the county (salaries are 10% lower than the next lowest and health benefits practically non existent). Our lousy superintendent resigned (thank goodness) and they hired an interim superintendent (National Sup't of the Year, retired) who came in, took one look at the district and slapped the Board around for letting the district get into a position where, now, teachers don't apply to work here, our principals are brand new graduates looking for something on their resume so, after two or three years, they can apply somewhere that pays REAL money, and where we probably won't have a new superintendent next year because they can't get anyone to interview for the position.

At Christmas, on the same day that our interim Superintendent sent out a sweet holiday poem thanking us for being so wonderful, the local paper printed the story of the neighboring district getting an 8% raise, retro to the beginning of the year. THAT district cut special checks for the retro and district staff HAND-DELIVERED the retro checks to every teacher in the classroom (and it's a fairly large district) before Christmas. Needless to say, teachers in our district were somewhat chagrined at the comparison, and let the district know. The good news is that the negotiations team was able to take our distress into negotiations and came out with an 8% raise, not retroactive (which makes it 4% for this year.)

In addition, though, the sup't travelled to all the schools with the encouraging words that he was recommending closing some of our smaller campuses and consolidating them into larger, more efficient campuses. Now, don't get me wrong. I would love to have classes of 25, like the smaller K-8 programs. Instead, I have classes of 34 and 35, and I'm paying the bill (since our state funds schools based on numbers of students) for those smaller classes. It wouldn't seem so bad if my pay wasn't so lousy, but I'm feeling like I'm paying for some other teacher to have less work out of my grocery money. So, anyway, the sup't flat out said they were going to close these schools so that there would be enough money to bring our salaries out of the gunk on the bottom of the pond and at least into the middle. A community committee worked every Tuesday night for MONTHS to recommend which three schools - based on the age and needed repairs - should be closed. For heaven's sake, we're a city of 65,000 people and one of our schools is on a septic system! They can't grow in population because their system is failing and they can't afford more little tinklers. To hook them to the sewer system (they're outside city limits) would cost a quarter of a million bucks.

Naturally, the parents at the three target schools are complaining loudly (did I mention, my sons were pawns moved around the district fifteen years ago as the district dealt with the same problems?) and, predictably, the Board started waffling. The 120 teachers who attended the meeting and who had to work the next day were so disgusted that they got up and walked out at 11:30 pm.

We haven't given up hope, but it's going to take some doing to convince the Board that they should proceed as planned. And, the person in charge of convincing them is ME. How I got into this spot is a long story. Let it suffice to say I was put in a spot (asked in front of a large group of new volunteers; how could I say no?) But I've been very busy putting the plan in place. Tonight we meet to get things started. Next week will be interesting, to say the least. I've never seen the teachers so angry and energized. They are so done. So done putting up with rude students and their bully parents for the lowest compensation in the county, while they deplete their savings to fork out over $700 a month to get medical insurance for their children. One of my colleagues had to raid his family's Christmas savings (not much from Santa for his four-year-old last year) to replace the bald tires on his car. And all because the board members want to protect their pet projects (oh, did I forget to say that the Board president's daughter is married to the son of the principal of one of the schools to be consolidated? sheesh.)

So, I am scheduled to meet tonight at dinner to report what's been been done so far and to get advice on next steps. Since I seem to be at a pause, I'm cleaning the family room (first deep cleaning in about five years) and I can feel the cobwebs in my mind go at the same time. Tomorrow is our deferred Lincoln's Birthday holiday (don't ask) and I'm taking the day off and going to Disneyland for some restorative therapy. I invited DS2 to go with me if he doesn't have to work (another long story). He won't know until that morning. I hope he goes; he needs therapy, too.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Post # 50

And they said it wouldn't last.

Theme: architecture

My online dictionary says that architecture includes the embellishments that make a place (whether a structure or community) special. Nobody does that better than Disney. This is one of the lamposts in New Orleans Square at Disneyland during the winter holidays. (Sorry it's so dark. When I printed this it came out great.)

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Skin Cancer

Under control at this point. She zapped The Growth with liquid nitrogen (got rid of two pre-cancerous growths last year this way). If it's gone in a month we're done; if not, we biopsy it and decide on step two.

My students (13-year-olds) were funny yesterday. I was very up front telling them I would be out to deal with a skin cancer on my arm today. They are so frightened of cancer that none of them knew how to respond. Isn't cancer something we are supposed to keep hush-hush? But the father of one of my 28-year old's best friends through elementary and junior high and high school died young last year of melanoma. Lifelong surfer and outdoor sports coach.

I figure the more up front we are about preventive stuff, the better off they'll be. Tomorrow I'll show them the "ow-ie" and explain how easy and painless the procedure was. I'll tell them what I look for, and how I don't mess around with these things, I get them taken care of right away. Maybe some of them will be careful with themselves in the future.

It's a beautiful day in Southern California. Since I had to use a full sub day for this appointment (middle school can't always get decent subs for a half-day), I think I'll splurge on a nap.

Happy Surprises

I love to do nice things for people, but mostly when it can be completely anonymous. I love those charity Christmas trees where you get to adopt a needy person and buy a gift. One year our school adopted a whole family and I got to buy for Mom. That was really fun, because I knew Mom and Dad had probably been going without for a long time to provide for their kids and I liked the idea that they would each get a Christmas surprise, too.

Sometimes it's not possible to be COMPLETELY anonymous, though. Sis and I gave a gift in person (no other way to give it) so the recipient knew who the gift was from. But, we didn't give names or addresses or anything, so there was no obligation to respond. The gift was very much appreciated and it was fun to enjoy the reaction, then flee and let the person just bask all day in the fun of it.

It's not possible to be completely anonymous in email, either. If you send "strokes" in email, there's always your email address there. And anonymous emails, especially if they're complimentary, can be kind of creepy. So, if I want to send a complimentary email, I always put my name and location. I don't want the recipient to feel an obligation to respond so always try to write in such a way that no response is necessary (no questions, no open-ended statements).

Which is why I was so shocked, thrilled and gratified at the happy surprise I found in my emailbox yesterday. Last August I had the opportunity to hear a performer that was new to me. I was very moved and inspired by his music. He was mobbed after his performance, so I emailed him later to tell him what his music did for me. I didn't expect to get a response and didn't. That was OK. But yesterday, there was an email with his name on it in my box. The subject line led me to conclude it was probably a mass mailer announcing a new album. I smiled and clicked on the email, ready to order! To my delight, it was a personal email. What delighted me the most was that the performer said he has kept my email in his inbox all this time (since August) to that he could read it from time to time.

I'm so happy that I was able to encourage him. Certainly his music encouraged me.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

48 Movies

There's another movie meme going around. Something like, if you've seen 85 of these 250+ movies you don't have a life. I actually started it. After marking the first dozen I realized that half of those I "saw" because someone else in the family wanted to watch it at home and I was in the room. So I adjusted the marks to include "those I saw because I was with someone else." Then, because I watch movies over and over again, I figured those I only saw once and didn't like it needed their own code, too. Then, because I didn't want to post the whole thing here, I started just deleting all the movies I hadn't seen.

Then I realized I really don't have a life if I have time to do all that. In the meantime, DH who is trying to heal a strained (possibly broken) foot in time for the march on the Pentagon on March 17 is up washing everybody's dishes they've allowed to accumulate for the last three days.

I decided my priorities needed readjusting.

I just counted the movies on the list I've seen by my choice. 48. Most of which I've seen at least six times so the result is the same. I don't have a life.

But I do have chores, so I'm off to rescue hubby's foot. Even though none of those dishes are mine.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Theme: Salty

In January, DH and I drove up to Santa Barbara (about an hour) to check out a green building center we'd heard about. After the building center we went out to Stearns Wharf for a walk on the pier, then to the Enterprise for lunch. We had a lovely afternoon and enjoyed a fabulous sunset on the way home. I took a bunch of pictures flying along the beach at 70 miles per hour and was surprised at how well they turned out.

When I read that the Photo Hunt theme this week is "salty", the first thing that came to mind was the way, when you hang out along the ocean, you collect salt on your skin from the spray. Eventually, when you lick your lips, they will be salty, but it's a special salty that's unique to the ocean experience.

Do you ever read your own posts? I get a lot out of writing mine, and certainly out of reading everyone else's. But occasionally I go through and read my own as if I'm new to them, just to try to see how they come off. I wish I could say that I was surprised to see how negative mine all sound, but I'm not. I know that I've been fighting depression for some time, now. This is not like me. I'm usually the one trying to make the lemonade. But I've gotten to the point where I don't want to get up in the morning, I'm a bitch at work (and I work with kids, so that's not good) and I don't have energy for things I usually love to do. Textbook signs of depression, huh? Anyway, Thursday I decided I was tired of fighting depression. After work I just gave in and wallowed in it. I put on my sweats and opened a bag of Dove milk chocolate eggs. I opened a Word file on the computer and started a "poor me" list of everything that is wrong with my life from most recent backward. The most recent was finding a new skin cancer on my arm just hours after opening a $194 bill for dental work I had been assured was fully covered by my dental insurance. Neither of these things is a big crisis, just a pain in the butt to have to deal with. Anyway, the list went on and on. I never finished it; I got tired of it but it served its purpose. My life sucks right now for a variety of reasons out of my control. I have every right to be down in the dumps. Just knowing that I had good reasons helped me put things back into perspective and I feel much better.

But I'm keeping the chocolate.

I have managed to get some cross-stitch done this week on the hollyhocks. It's tempting to keep going with that edg
e because it goes so fast, but I know I'll get tired of the constant color changes in the flowers so want to trade off. I'll move back down into the flowers for a while, then back to the edges.

However, I need to change projects for a while, so this one may get tucked into its project bag.

It's been snowing like crazy in Eden this week. 18" on Powder Mountain in the last two days, and their base is up to 102". We finally got a rental check for the condo! Several magazines did feature stories on Utah snow this season and all three resorts in "our" valley were mentioned. Both Snowbasin and Powder made the top ten lists in Ski and Skiing. And Ski magazine called our condos (Moose Hollow) "the valley's nicest digs." We also got mentioned in Disney's Family Fun and Sunset. DH said the place was packed over the Presidents' Day weekend, and we missed out on a long-term rental because he was staying in the condo. Maybe there's hope, with this great new snow (they call it 'snorkle-deep powder' on Powder Mountain), for more rentals in February and March.

We'll be there in April for spring break. I have the Friday before Easter off and we think we're going to do a "gag-out" (drive the full 800 miles) in one day on the way up. Then we can crash and recover the next day. We'll take two days to get home (with a stay-over in Primm, Nevada) because we have to go to work on Monday and we just can't function after driving 800 miles in one day. During the break we're supposed to meet with the architect to see some preliminary ideas for our house sometime but otherwise it's just sleeping and stitching for me (with maybe a walk here and there if it's not too muddy.) Last year our side of the valley had melted but we were looking right at the east-facing slopes and they were still snowpacked. It was beautiful!

This snowy picture is from the golf course behind the condo, looking toward our building lot. If the middle of the picture is at 0,0 and the edges are 4 and -4, then the building lot is at about -2,-2. There's a two-story house and a one-story house and our lot is in the middle. I've wanted to live where there is snow in the winter my whole life. I'm very excited to get my chance!

I'm planning to take Firefly Faeries and the Hollyhocks with me. I may also take my "What Color is the Spring" quilt and my lightbox so that I can
start transferring the embroidery patterns to the muslin strips. I'm not in a rush for this piece (won't do any embroidery until next winter because I will embroider through the bat and it's just too hot to stitch with the quilt on my lap in the summer) but that would be a nice change of pace at the condo. Sometimes the television noise gets to me and I like to tuck up in the dining room where it's not so loud.

I'm trying to control myself from taking too mu
ch stuff with me, though, because we should start hauling some stuff home. We don't expect the condo to sell until the spring or summer (or if the economy remains so unstable, maybe until the fall) but we don't want to have to haul four years of accumulation down all at once. There's stuff up there we thought would be good to have but have never used, so we need to start hauling it back or getting rid of it.

DH and his brother are traveling to Washington, DC, for the protest march on the Pentagon and while they're gone I'm thinking about a trip to Disneyland. I may go on Saturday so that I can watch the fireworks. And I have the next Monday off, too, so may go to enjoy one more off-season day by myself. I invited DS2 to go with me (I want to show him the Jedi Academy and Soarin' Over Cal
ifornia) but he didn't seem too interested. That's OK. I know how to have a lovely time all by me onesie.