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

Sunday, February 24, 2008

More Snow

So, of the group up in Eden with DH, two returned to Texas after a much-enjoyed visit and another was dropped in Ogden to pick up a shuttle to the airport. DH was originally going to drive her into Salt Lake for her flight, but a big snowstorm was due in (it was already raining when he took her to town this morning.) He figured he would be halfway to SLC when the snow hit and in it big time on the way home, and he does not have 4WD on his Escape.

As it was, it started to snow on him as he got back to the condo, then snowed heavily all day. He said the snowflakes were the size of half-dollars. He was very happy to be tucked in with the last two (who had driven up with him) and three days' food and supplies. I called in the late morning and he had just finished reading scholarship apps and was feeling fine.

Dang, I wish I was up there.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Crush on a Cowboy

Well, not really.

But I sidebar surfed (yep, I'm still at it) into Sawdust and Cowpies by Jace and have been enjoying the nice memories it brings up.

About ten years ago I was teaching "core." That's where you put the same group of students into Language Arts and History classes back-to-back and integrate the curricula. I didn't have a credential for Language Arts, but I was very proud when ALL of my students passed their proficiencies (and a large number of "honors" students did not) because I taught them to stay on prompt and use supporting details.

My mentor and best friend, Skip, suggested one year that we do a unit on Cowboy Poetry.


I was open-minded and went along with her. I totally fell in love with the stuff, especially the part where if you tell it right, it sounds like the clip clop when a horse walks along. Anyway, we read it to our eighth-graders and had them write some (gawd-awful stuff, but they had fun.) We even had The Riders of the Purple Sage come and do an intimate concert for our two classes (Ghost riders in the sky..... yippee-yi-yo...). At our last meeting of the unit I blacked out my windows, had the kids come dressed as cowboys (sort of) and we had a poetry reading around a campfire made of crumbled up black butcher paper piled over a half-dozen glowing flashlights.

There are a number of cowboy poems I enjoy but my favorite is "Barn Cats" by Vess Quinlan.

It's funny, the things you remember;
Like accepting without question
That it was your solemn duty
To study hard and earn big money
Because parents suffered the depression.

How on your tenth birthday
You walked down to milk
With a staggering headache,
Sat on the one-legged stool
And pressed your forehead
Against her silken flank.

How you remember dull ringing sounds
As the first squirts hit bottom;
How the sound changed to a quiet hiss
As foaming milk filled the shiny bucket;
How the smell of fresh warm milk
Rose to mingle with the clean-cow smell;
How the barn cats sat half-circled
Mewing politely, insisting there was enough
To fill their little pan.

How the gentle cow responded
To warm brown hands
And let down her milk;
How calmness and forebearance
Were transmitted through your skull;
How your pain was drawn
Into the patient cow.

And now, years later
You stare out a city window
And ask yourself if big money
Is really better than barn cats
And cow-cured headaches.

I only taught core for two years before I went back to straight history (NCLB and State Standards were the death to units like Cowboy Poetry) but I bring out my poetry books every year when we spend our day in frontier history learning about the old trails and cowboys. I still read "Barn Cats" and others ("One Way o' Proposin', "The New Hand") and pop in my videotape of one of the Elko gatherings (and let Ian Tyson sing "Horsethief Moon; can't play "M.C. Horses", though, 'cause it makes me cry every time.)

Years later we flew to Reno to watch the boys compete in the International Jazz Festival. We were riding in the shuttle from the airport to the hotel, chatting with the driver when he suddenly recited a beautiful piece. My mouth hung open-probably to the floor-I was so surprised. "You're a cowboy poet!" I practically shouted. He just grinned and confirmed that he'd placed as high as second at Elko. The ride was too short (and his tip probably too small) but I couldn't get over it. I know these talented folks have to make a living to support their poetry (like musicians, it's the rare one that can live of his art), but I never imagined them driving hotel shuttles.

Somehow, I always imagined them like Jace, trekking the pastures in freezing temps to shoot pictures of newborn calves taking their first poopie.

One of the things I look forward to the most about relocating to Utah is enjoying the annual cowboy poetry gathering in Ogden.

I'm gonna have to buy me a hat.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Gone in a Flash

Whiney Wednesday kind of came and went without a whole lot to whine about.

I still have this cough. I would try to figure out if it's just The Crap hanging on forever, a relapse, or a similar cough related to something els but I'm too tired from trying to lecture all day while I'm coughing.

Meeting last night with communications advisor went well EXCEPT for my colleague who is suddenly questioning what we're writing. Now, did they ever REALLY say that! I lost it. This guy spent every meeting talking to people, often not even in the room, while I sat through every boring Board of Trustees meeting hanging on their every word, and now he wants to make sure they really said something (that they said at least six times in every meeting for six months.)

All was overshadowed, though, by the happy happenstance that I got to see and watch the full lunar eclipse on my drive home last night. I wouldn't have remembered to look for it if I had been tucked in my recliner at home (coughing).

So, I guess that was the silver lining to the irritating meeting.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008


DH sent this video from our future home. This is the Ogden Valley. He said he is on a street up the mountain a little from "our" street. He is panning south, then west to Snowbasin, continuing to Wolf Mountain. He says he has learned that when you live in a house with windows on three sides and are surrounded by snow, you must wear sunglasses to watch television.

He says this is the lowest temps he has ever been in (when he emailed me at 7:30 am Pacific Time it was 0 degrees in Eden.)

Monday, February 18, 2008

Sunday? Monday?

Where am I?

Sunday, Sweet Sunday was indeed sweet and Monday wasn't bad, either.

I was having so much fun sewing on my quilt project that I didn't stop to update here. My project is coming right along. It's a pattern by Linda Worland of Paper Panache.

One of my mom's best quilt friends was acquainted with Linda Worland. When I commented that Linda's paper piecing patterns were amazing, her response was "Nothing ever scared that girl!" If you click on the picture to the full size you can see things like the straps on the King's sandal and the lips within the shepherd's beard. Teeny, tiny details pieced into the quilt that really bring it to life. My only problem working with this pattern is that I have to stay totally focused or I'll miss a fabric change. I've made several mistakes. Many I've had to rip and re-do; a few I've just let ride.

I read advice from a dollmaker once that stuck with me. Never give your mistakes to people whose houses you will visit frequently or they will haunt you whenever you "visit" them. In a way, I'm glad this will be traveling a ways to its new home.

On Saturday night I had finished one of the pink rows in the "...Spring?" quilt. Here it is:

It was really fun to do, although I suspect that I will be wishing I had the discipline for rotations as I get toward the longer borders. This little piece only took two evenings; the longer borders will take longer and that last one is boring compared to this one (c'mon - this one has ladybugs!)

And, by the end of Sunday, I still had clean workspaces in the kitchen!

Make it Healthy Monday turned out to be more for my emotional health than physical. I spent some time finishing up a union chore that felt like an accomplishment. I put out the trash and recycling, including remembering to put out some attic flotsam that's been sitting in the "clearing room" since before Christmas. I went to the storage center and rented a unit. You'd think two people in a four-bedroom house could manage to store everything on premises, but we're learning that when a family of packrats stays in the same house for over 30 years, you don't get the periodic cleaning out exercises that a more mobile family will get every time they move. We've got stuff stashed everywhere. We're pitching a lot, cleaning and saving some but the process takes time and space to accomplish. Add into the mix that DS2 moves back into the old master bedroom at the end of April (and the room needs extensive work before he does) and the pressure is on.

About 1:00 I was feeling very relaxed and it occurred to me that I could do whatever I wanted to do. What I wanted to do was kick up my feet in the recliner, put a blanket over my legs and finish the book I was reading. Once I had assumed the position I realized that, if I wanted to, I could even take a little, 30-minute nap. It was quiet and warm and delicious.

I woke up two hours later.

What a lovely day. I could learn to like this life.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Hiro, Can't You Fix This?

Apparently the producers of Heroes (the only TV show to which I am addicted thanks to DS2) have decided there is no way to pull together enough episodes for the remainder of the season without compromising the integrity of the show. I would have to agree with them, although it is disappointing to have to wait until September to get back into the story.

As a consolation, it would be nice if they would publish the dvd set of this year's eleven episodes so we could watch the first and first-and-a-half seasons over and over and be REALLY ready for September!

Hiro is my favorite Hero. Masi Oka continues his first career as a technogeek at Industrial Light and Magic while he carries his role in Heroes.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Ever Lovin' Saturday

I rock! Today I have:

  • Cleaned the kitchen surfaces (some haven't been touched since Christmas). This might not sound like much but my kitchen is huge for a kitchen. When we bought the house it was called a "farm kitchen." It was really a tiny kitchen, tiny family room and tiny dining room in one space. After a few years we added a large family room off of this room and now the 315 square foot space is kitchen and dining room. Although the actual work area is small, there are lots of "drop spots" that were still cluttered since I packed away the Christmas decorations. Whenever DH leaves for more than a day or two I like to clear all the surfaces and keep them clear (if I clear them while he's here, within a couple of hours they will be covered with food, computer equipment, newspapers, candy...)
  • Shopped at Home Depot for stuff to make some repairs
  • Repaired my 3-way lamp
  • Replaced the drain cover in my shower
  • (Bought a new fluorescent bulb for my magnifying lamp but I think the lamp is dead.)
  • Went to Target for a copy of the Lilo & Stitch movies; came out instead with a gallon of bubble mix for my Eeyore bubble blower and a new nozzle for the front hose.
  • Whipped up a batch of brownies (with pecans)
  • Folded the rest of last week's laundry and got a start on this week's.
  • Set up my sewing corner for tomorrow.
  • Am almost done with the first short row of stitching on the "...Spring..." quilt. Hearts and vines with ladybugs. I love working on it and will finish it now while I get a start on "...Pirates...At Worlds' End".
I decided to have a movie marathon since I am in control of the television today. It was a hard decision but I settled on the Pirates... trilogy. I'll have to think about tomorrow's program.

Tomorrow I am hoping to sew ALL DAY, then Monday (a holiday for me) I want to go up to my favorite nursery and buy flowers for the fairy garden, and spend a couple of hours whipping that space into shape. Then back inside for another marathon sewing session.

I'm really loving feeling better.

Friday, February 15, 2008


Well, not a bad ending to the week. Little altercation with a student over a cell phone in class right at the end but I don't THINK it ended too badly. Passed her off to the AP and skipped out as quickly as I could.

DH made it to Eden yesterday without incident, if you don't count the AC bearings going out in the car on the way up. He realized today that if he couldn't get it to a mechanic and get a rental car today they could be in trouble in an emergency over a three day holiday weekend, so he took it into Ogden this AM. Got his rental car for the weekend only to get a call after three hours that the car was finished (they'd been able to rush in the parts). We love Enterprise - they refunded the unused portion of the rental (they had agreed to that ahead of time) and took good care of him.

Here is his view out the back balcony.

He had called me from our condo last night, practically in tears. They had gone up to get some "necessities' that we store up there (coats and gloves, extra blankets, coffee grinder) and the place is gutted. No wallboard, no carpet.

No furniture, which is really alarming. Our sofa and chair are stored in the entry. DH and his guests couldn't find our coffee table (a collector's piece made from teak reclaimed from a 200-year-old ship) or the quilt I had made for the family room or the limited edition moose print from the downstairs bedroom.


But DH got to have a long talk with our old friend (his father was DH's roommate in college) who is the developer of the resort. Not only did they clear up some misunderstandings, but the friend now has HIS VIN (Very Important Nose) into the project which should move some things along. Plus, with DH up there he can also push. Really good news was that our friend said to call him before the property tax appeal next year and he would get us the documentation we need to show the county that, even though our lot may have been declared worth $500,000 last year, nothing up there is selling for more than $200K, if they are selling at all. It will be a huge help not to have to pay $6,000 taxes on a vacant lot, especially since we've been cut out of this amazing ski season because of The Calamity.

There also may have been a turn in contract negotiations that will relieve a lot of stress around here. On the off chance that anyone involved may google their way in here I will only say that we are cautiously optimistic (and beating ourselves up for being so stupid as to be so.)

Still, with the previous good news of DS2 returning home in April and to college for his masters in the fall, I can feel my blood pressure down a good 30 points and am looking forward to holing up for the three-day weekend.

Tomorrow I want to run up to the Barnes & Noble. My SIL won 2nd place in a writing contest for a literary magazine called CUTTHROAT and her story, "One Man Band," is supposed to be in the magazine now. There's no way her predominently redneck town will have it in their Borders so I said I'd go check out the B&N up the road from me. She bought us all copies from the publisher, but she wanted one with receipt from a bookstore. While I'm there, of course, I will check out the UK cross stitch mags to see if there's anything to enjoy this weekend. After a quick stop at Target for a floor lamp and a video (and I guess I should pick up some food, too) I'll come home and barricade the door. Already warned DH to call me on my cell. The house phone is sure to all be for him so I'm going to ignore it.

I'm going to bring a large table from storage into the family room and set up a sewing center. I'm really hopeful that I can make major progress on a wallhanging I started two years ago. Years ago I read a book by Jean Ray Laury,

I had done several JRL crafts, and this how-to book (c. 1975) was a collection of great advice for home crafters. One of the pieces of advice I have remembered all these years was about incomplete projects. In short, incomplete projects are crippling. Get them done or get them out. This wallhanging quilt I'm working on should be a project of joy (it's a housewarming gift for a special friend) but is becoming a burden. It's time to get it done.

Another artist who gives great advice is Mary Ellen Hopkins. If you EVER get a chance to attend a presentation by this woman (The Yes, You Can Sit on My Quilt Handbook), do it! She is not only a fabulous quilter but an absolute riot. She was giving us advice once on what to do with unfinished projects. If you realize you just don't want to finish it - ever - but you don't want to get rid of it, she directs you to go to Nordstrom's and buy something inexpensive just so you can get one of their beautiful silver gift boxes. You line the box with gorgeous tissue, then place carefully inside it (iron if you need to) the fabric, partially completed blocks, pattern and whatever notions and embellishments you have left for that project. Carefully smooth the tissue over the treasures inside. Put the lid on the box and tie with a beautiful wired ribbon. Add a tag (maybe handmade) inscribed,

"To My Daughter-in-Law"

and put it up in the closet or attic.

When you die and your son and DIL are going through your things, think how thrilled she'll be to find that you were thinking of her!

Here's another SBQ I can identify with:

Do you have any projects that you have scrapped and started over? What made you start over from scratch?

Oh, yes. I do.

In 1992, I opened up this magazine

and fell hard for this chart.

This would be my first BAP ("Big Ass Project") and I wanted it to be REALLY big when I finished it. I also did not want to work on linen, so bought a huge piece of 11 count Aida (yes, ELEVEN count). Oh, it was easy to work on, but it didn't take long to see that I was not going to like the result when it was done.

I just wasn't getting the coverage I wanted (the colors had no depth) and I really didn't think I liked the effect of the holly border on the ecru Aida. So, I took a deep breath, folded it up and tucked it away. I didn't have the heart to trash it.

I bought a nice, natural Fiddler (14) that I like a LOT better. I'm using three strands and getting much better coverage. Unfortunately, it's not really much fun to work on. Large expanses of color (red, brown, white) with an amazing amount of confetti. But I really would love to have this hanging in the entry of the new house for the holidays so I try to work on it a little here and there.

Maybe it's a good thing the house has been delayed a few years, huh?

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Chiloe is having a mommy emergency. Pencil on the wallpaper that won't come off. Just wanted to share that these Sanford Magic Rub erasers will erase things that other erasers miss. Don't know if they are worldwide but I think they are worth a little search for anyone who works with pencil (I use them for scrapbooking and - knock on wood - so far they take out even the faintest traces of pencil.)

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

I'm so excited!

My sweet, beautiful boy came by with dinner and a need to talk.

He graduated from UCSB in 2006 (after a lifetime of hating school) with a degree in cultural anthropology and a desire to have a no-brainer job. He had no job for several weeks, then started his job as a sub mail carrier, recently supplemented as a pizza delivery guy.

Tonight he told us he's going to take us up on our offer of a room (yippee!!!) while he - and I still can't believe I heard it with my own ears - goes for an M.A. in physical anthropology and an eventual Ph.D. in forensics (maybe primate forensics but he hasn't decided for sure.) He's already taken the first step of making an appointment with the counselor at the local community college to find out how much lower division he can get done at the CC (cheap tuition, live at home). He's also already emailed the chair of the department he's interested in at UCDavis.

Pretty good first steps. I'm so happy that he is, for the first time in his life, seeing himself as a student and seeing that as a good thing!

A Distraction

So, just because it's Whiney Wednesday doesn't mean I can't try to distract you from my venting post. I thought I'd catch up with some of the memes and other prompts I haven't done yet.

First, Kathryn's SBQ:

Are there other crafts that you have tried and abandoned? Why do you like stitching better?

I don't know that I've abandoned many in the sense that I'll never do them again. I don't think I'll do decoupage again, I guess, but most of the crafts I've tried over the years I would love to get back to. I have greenware for about a dozen dolls stashed, but there's nowhere around here to have them fired. I also have a box of ideas and materials for a line of skateboarding and snowboarding dolls made of polymer clay that I'm looking forward to making (and may include some hot air ballooners, too) but am saving them for retirement. I have lots of rubber stamps and may, someday, make my own cards but don't have time now. Another craft that I've done and would love to do again is ceramics (cast from molds, although I've also done some pottery and would do it again if the circumstances were right).

My list of stash that I share time on now includes scrapbooking, quilting, embroidery and cross-stitch. I enjoy them all equally and for the same reasons. I love the color and patterns of the materials. I do more embroidery and cross-stitch, though, because our house is rather -uh - full at the moment and it's very difficult for me to s-p-r-e-a-d out anywhere to quilt of scrapbook. Stitchery is an on-my-lap indulgence that I can do in the family room while DH watches TV. Works for me!

Next, from Nancy, although I've seen it on other blogs, too:

Post 7 weird or random facts about yourself on your blog.

Weird is in the eye of the beholder. Having said this, I think some would think it is weird that I:
  1. Loved cats my whole life, then got into showing and breeding Himalayans. I will never have another cat in my house.
  2. Had two wonderful years of clogging class. I had lost about 75 pounds when I started and I never had so much fun! But life got emotional again and I ate myself out of class (fasciitis in both feet and had to quit.)
  3. I have only been a patient in a hospital once (my uterus prolapsed and I had to have a hysterectomy.) My two sons were born at home.
  4. I've never smoked anything or drunk anything alcoholic. I can't stand bubbles so don't drink sodas, and I hate the taste of coffee (though I love the smell of it). I drink LOTS of water and a couple of glasses of milk every day. (No, I'm not LDS.)
  5. I married one of my college professors (13 years older than I) in 1972. We're still married.
  6. One of my favorite things is a completely bare flower bed. I love to think of the possibilities.
  7. My friends appreciate me for my clear-headedness and common sense. I would give anything to be quick-witted and clever.
And from Marita, the media meme:

Books, TV/Video, Music in the Last Week

Books: I heard the last part of The Golden Compass on audio while I stitched. Am looking for the second book now. Nighty-night reading was Susan Wiggs' latest from The Lakeshore Chronicles, Snowfall at Willow Lake. With nothing new on hand I am re-reading Julie Garwood's Heartbreaker when I wake up at 2:00 am.

TV/Video: I don't really watch much television although it seems to be on most of the time (DH is addicted). I watched reports on the primaries. I watched A Daily Show (until I fell asleep) a couple of nights. I channel-hopped into Practical Magic once and The Family Stone twice. I don't care where it is in either movie, I will sit and watch whatever's left and love them both. I watched Stardust (again).

Music: I teach eighth grade and noise is my life. I don't try to fill the silence when I finally get some. I do sometimes sing along with a cd in the car. I'm trying to learn the words to
"He Mele No Lilo" (Lilo's hula song from Stitch Has a Glitch). Today I was singing along with "Happy Working Song" and "So Close" from Enchanted. I predicted both would be nominated for Academy Awards and my money's on "So Close."

Thanks for the fun, everyone.

Hugs for Valentine's Day tomorrow!

Whiney Wednesday

Since 2000 there has been a group of people working to unify my K-8 school district into a K-12 district. There is some questions as to the purity of their motives. I don't know about their motives. I do know, however, if I had had to drive my kids into the next town for high school instead of a mile away, their high school careers would have been much less rewarding for them. For that reason alone, 8 years ago I personally supported this effort.

Seven years ago, however, I started a two-year term as president of my local. The unification group (not teachers) learned from the state that if the teachers' union would support unification it would be pretty much a "done deal" with the state. It became apparent early on, however, that teachers in the district were dramatically split on this issue, and the decision was made by the exec board and the rep council to stay out of the issue completely.

And so we have.

Last year a new, interim superintendent started the school year by looking at our district to see where he could help. He noticed what we've been saying for years. Good teachers are leaving our district in large numbers because, even though our town is a very expensive place to live (about as close to a "rural" suburb of Los Angeles as you'll get, we have a lot of people from the entertainment industry living in our town), our teachers receive the lowest pay and worst health benefit package in our entire county. He also saw the reason right away. Although our district is in a condition of declining enrollment, has refused to consolidate school and we have too many tiny schools too close to each other. By consolidating schools (closing three or four campuses and combining their kids with the next closest school) the district would save enough money to move our salaries into the mid-range in the county. Even at that, when you combine salary and health benefits you get a compensation package that puts us back at the bottom. However, this was a start, a move toward a goal of "competitive compensation that attracts and retains high-quality teachers," a goal that even the Board president admitted they gave given "only lip service" for years. The problem, said the sup't, was that parents were going to be upset. Parents like having their children in tiny schools just around the block rather than a half-mile away. "If the Board is going to take the heat on this," the sup't warned us at three district faculty meetings, "they have to at least know that the teachers understand and support their action, and that support has to be visible to the public."

I was asked to be chair of the Active Teachers Committee and we did a fine job of showing support and showing the public that we supported school consolidation. Our teachers wore bright, school-bus gold t-shirts to board meetings (often over 150 teachers at a time, so many that the fire marshall would have to clear some out of the room.) We wrote letters of support, and stood together outside our schools before our contract hours began to show support. As expected, parent groups protested vehemently and the board caved, closing only two schools instead of the four needed to move us to the middle.

This year, however, the board has refused to negotiate in good faith for increasing compensation using the approximately $1.5 million saved through the closing of the two schools. I am, again, the Action chair only this time our goal is to put pressure on the board to fulfill their promise to use the money from school closures (which we are already paying for in larger schools and larger class sizes) to raise salaries again.

It's been going well. So well, in fact, that the board is now embarrassed and angry at us, and has decided to USE us to achieve their goal of unification. "The only way we will be able to give you raises is if we unify the district!" (A lie in a couple of ways. First, there is nothing in ed code that ensures that districts have to use any of their increased income to improve teacher salaries. Second, even though the board insists the district will have an "extra" $7 million to apply toward salary, they made such a mess of their petition that there were several aspects ignored that would not only eat up the $7 million but would put the new district hundreds of thousands of dollars in the whole from the get-go.) "Help us with unification and you will get raises!" they tell us.

I didn't think I could get any angrier. I've been working on my letter to the paper with the theme, "Teachers Held Hostage to Unification". Then yesterday our union rep presents us with a petition supporting the unification effort by asking the state to allow the issue to proceed to a vote, bypassing the appeal of a group of citizens questioning the budget imbalances.

The endorsement by the teachers is something they have wanted since 2000. Our exec board is trusting a woman who is a known liar, who will, I believe, "spin" this petition into an endorsement of unification, not a vote for unification. And our board went along with it.

When the board attempted to hold our compensation hostage until unification I was angry, but I just considered the source. But when my own exec pulls something like this, I feel like I've been sold down the river.


Blogger is being weird. I just went to check in on Dineke's blog and was dropped into a November, 2006 post. And I check some of my blogroll two or three times a day and I SWEAR to you there were no updates on YOUR blogs for days, then yesterday suddenly there three and four days worth of updates showing!

And no, that doesn't count as my Whiney Wednesday. I'm saving that up for after work 'cause I'm really upset about something and need to vent.

I just wanted my friends to know I haven't been neglecting you!

Monday, February 11, 2008

Make-it-Healthy Monday (for real)

Last week I wrote a post about my heart testing and how I came to be heading to a cardiologist in the first place so I won't repeat that story. I'll just say that I am gradually getting used to the idea of preventative health care as a positive thing and am gradually developing better habits as far as getting regular check-ups.

I'm up-to-date on my mammograms (last one in January, all good).
I'm up-t0-date on my teeth (clean and x-rayed with no new decay).

I take my blood pressure meds every day. My grandmother died at 51 of hypertension (in 1954 when I was three) and I am grateful every day that we have medications for this disease now that have helped keep my mother with us well past that age. At my last "comfortable" check-up (XL BP cuff, 45 minute wait to relax) my BP was 116/74. My internist and I were both thrilled!

At my visit in August my weight was the highest it's ever been at 271 (I'm 5'7"). At my last internist appointment it was 268, and at the cardiologist's consultation it was 258. I've had two pieces of advice that have made a huge difference for me as far as losing weight. The first was a post by a dietitian I read on a Weight Watchers site last year. She said - believe it or not - that most dieters don't get enough fat in the morning and pay for that all day with low energy levels, which tends to make them eat more. She recommended changing from nonfat to 2% milk in the morning. In 1964, on the advice of his doctor, my father started drinking nonfat instead of whole milk. My mother, to make her life a tad easier, changed the whole family to nonfat and I've been drinking it ever since. But, on the advice of this columnist, I switched to 2% and use it on cereal in the morning. I noticed within a few days that I am no longer ravenous by my mid-morning break.

The second was something shared by an old friend (I've know him for 35 years). Jim has always been athletic (marathon runner, biker) but has never been thin. The last time I saw him I was amazed at how much weight he'd lost - he actually looked thin! Of course, I asked him what made the difference and he said his trainer had him eating five small meals a day instead of three larger meals. That was all he'd changed, and the weight just dropped off. So, what I do now is split my lunch and eat half of it for my morning break. For example, I'll bring a tuna salad on whole grain sandwich and a pear, then eat half the sandwich for my break (about 10:30 in the morning.) I guess it keeps my metabolism working more efficiently because I've been able to lose some weight and that's really the only change I've made.

Now, I've been in and out of Weight Watchers since 1971. Someday I will find a lecturer who has lost more than 100 pounds (well, I would even settle for 75) and be truly inspired. But every time I do sign up for a while I learn something new. Most of the time I eat very reasonably.

Most of the time.

But not during (dun, dun, dun!)


Never heard of Chocolate Season? It runs (in America) from early October (or even late September when the Halloween candy appears on the shelf in all it's freshy goodness), continues through Thanksgiving, Christmas, Valentine's Day and Easter. The Easter bunny makes ALL the chocolate and - thank goodness - goes into hibernation after Easter. What's bizarre about my addiciton to chocolate is that I really don't think I like the flavor that much. But, oh, I love the texture of Hershey's Kisses, Dove's Promises, M&Ms and See's dark chocolate walnut clusters.

I read an article once by some kind of doctor doing a study of people and chocolate. He said he had found that what most people like most about chocolate is the texture, the "pop" as you bit into a firm piece of candy. Boy, that was sure me! Then he went on to say that for his patients with this problem he had found that they were often satisfied chewing on a wooden stick. Which was really meaningful for me, because for all of my life when I would eat a popsicle or fudgesicle or anything else on a flat, wooden stick I would chew on the stick until it splintered.

So, guess I'd better head to Michael's and pick up a box of craft sticks to use as a diet aid!

Make-it-Healthy Monday

Have you met my friend, Linda? Her story is not mine to tell, but I will say that if you were to read her blog you would never guess what she's gone through in the last year. Linda may slip into her batcave for some recovery time now and then (don't worry, Tinkerbat won't hurt you), but when she comes to blog she is so filled with strength and insight and a willingness to share both. She's been an inspiration to me for over a year now. She has a general blog that is often focused on her health issues. Because Linda has been such a health inspiration for me, as was Debbi at dubiquilts last week, that I decide to post from time to time about my progress toward regaining good health. It's way too easy to lurk here and never fess up to the destructive choices I make.

I also noticed how many of my daily, favorite blogs are those whose writers do not linger over life's challenges so much. This blog is my journal and I do tend to vent here. That's fine - it's what it's for - but dang! Even I get tired of it and am starting to wonder how much of our attitude is affected by our own absorption with people's troubles, especially our own.

So here's the deal. I know I will never blog any health stuff unless I commit to a specific day, and I will never stop my venting posts unless I limit myself. I've set up a list in the sidebar. On Monday the topic will be health and my progress (or challenges) in regaining mine. On Whiney Wednesdays I can come here to vent (feel free to head for the hills on Whiney Wednesdays.)

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Look what I found!

I was taking something out to the garbage and found that my cymbidium had bloomed. It's a magnificent thing, really much more lemony yellow than it appears here. Certainly good for a kick in the spirits. I decided to take a little walk around to see what else was up in the garden. LOTS of weeds so am hoping to do some hoeing today. The Queen Anne's Tears (a billbergia) has also bracht-ed out (as Calvin says, "I love to verb words!") and both hardenbergia's are covered with purple flowers. DS2 had cut the one outside the family room window to the ground in his fantastic yard clean-up last year and I was afraid it was gone. It was good to see it looking so happy.

Nothing like LOTS of rain to perk everything up. Even the violets are popping up again, and I saw a butterfly go past the window (couldn't catch what kind, though.) It's about time for the spring Monarchs to emerge. They get to the chrysalis stage, then just hang around all winter and emerge about this time of year, head out looking for food and come back in August to lay eggs. Since DS2 had pulled out most of the milkweed in his enthusiastic cleaning while we were gone last summer I was afraid we would lose the Monarchs, but I seem to have a few plants left for them here and there so will keep my fingers crossed.

Speaking of raising spirits, I must share this picture (and yes, I told DH I was going to do this). DH went off to the grocery store yesterday and had been home for a while when he came into my office and said something about reporting me to the Wive's Association or something for "letting" him go to the store "this way."

He said he had been rummaging around in his jeans drawer to find something to wear so he could launder his usual pair of jeans in preparation for his trip next week. He said he was so excited to find an old pair that he just pulled them on and headed for the store. He's still trying to convince himself that the jacket he was wearing (really just a long-sleeved microfiber shirt) covered this.

It didn't.

I did manage to get the Christmas tree down and - mostly - packed away. Today I'm hoping to get the rest of the decorations down and packed, too. It's going a little slower than most years because I'm trying to get rid of some stuff. Well, not exactly get rid of it yet - I'm sorting the stuff I don't want into a separate box so the boys can go through it and see if there's anything they want, then I'll get rid of what's left.

Finally, I did some stitching as we watched the returns from the primaries come in and


I finished the sampler in the center of my "What Color is Spring?" quilt. Now I can start on the sashing, which is what I REALLY have been looking forward to. I was thinking that I would do one color at a time. No, that's not right. The patchwork part of the quilt is in color-coordinated rows: a pink row, orange row, yellow row, green row and so on. The embroidery design on the sashing between the rows also is themed on a color. The sashing after the pink row, for example, has pink hollyhocks, hearts and butterflies. The sashing after the yellow row has a big sun at the top, bees, sunflowers and fuzzy little chickies. The sashing after the blue has bluebirds. The sashing after the green is my favorite with grass full of green bugs. Like I was trying to say, I was thinking of doing all the pink sashing, then all the orange, then all the yellow. But my mom suggesting working out in one direction from the center so I don't get bored doing all one color at a time. Got me to thinking that for stability of the quilt it might be better to jump around while I work on this. We'll see.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

That's More Like It

There's nothing like Disney therapy to get my serotonin levels up! I had planned a trip two weeks ago when I scheduled my first consultation with the cardiologist. We have so few good subs for middle school that I always take a full day off when I need time for an appointment (they don't tend to take the half-day jobs) and was glad to hear the doctor only saw new patients as his first appointment of the day. I wanted to go to get a Disneyland fix right after that appointment, but I was so sick with The Crap that I went home and slept the rest of the day instead. So, on Wednesday after the last of my tests, I hit the freeway and was in the park by 1:00.

It was pretty off-season so I went over to the new Finding Nemo Sub ride. The only other time I'd been on it I had waited an hour and forty-five minutes; this time I only waited 25 minutes. I also went to the Tiki Room and to see Billy Hill and the Hillbillies. Stopped by the Candy Palace to get some fudge for DH, then found a great bench to watch the Parade of Dreams. I waited for the parade for a couple of hours but that was OK 'cause I love people watching. I've been trying for two years to get a decent picture of one of my favorite characters - Jiminy Cricket - and finally got one!

The finale float in this parade is a ballroom scene (with Snow White, Aurora and Cinderella dancing and waving) in the front and Sleeping Beauty's Castle with Mickey and Minnie in the tower at the back. Chip and Dale and Donald Duck "cavort" between the side and back balconies. About six feet behind this last float are two pages carrying the stay-behind-us rope to end the parade. USUALLY, thousands of people follow the parade to the front of the park, but on Wednesday there were only a half dozen people at the rope when it got to me (and I was sitting more than halfway through the parade). Since I was planning to leave right after the parade anyway, I decided to follow it to the front of the park.

What a hoot! It was really fun to feel like part of the parade, to sing along with music.

By the way, the Disney site is running a sweepstakes, giving away Disneyland vacations that include a night IN THE PARK. Apparently someone found drawings of an apartment that Walt Disney had built and planned to decorate for friends and family to stay in the park when they came to visit. (It's over the Pirate ride in New Orleans Square). The apartment had never been done, but the drawings still existed. They just finished the apartment and are giving away nights as part of their "Year of a Million Dreams" give-away. You can enter every day. Now, I don't expect to win a vacation, but each time you enter you get a digital prize for your desktop. Yesterday's was a Ratatouille clock (which I didn't save so I lost it) and today's is a Winnie the Pooh bobble head. Disney fans should head on over .

When I got back to school after two days out I found that the kids hadn't quite finished the work I had left for them, so Thursday was a low-key day as they finished up what I'd left. Then yesterday was the day to wrap it all up. Everything they'd been doing was about American diplomacy in the New Republic leading up to the Monroe Doctrine, and yesterday we were to get into the document itself. Over the years I've found it is sometimes a positive for the kids when I admit that even I don't like everything I teach. Yesterday I introduced the lesson by explaining that I really love history, and that some of what I teach I get really excited about. I held up the Monroe Doctrine text and said, "This ain't one of them." The kids thought that was really funny. I explained that it was one of our standards, though, so we had to do it. I talked them through the text, had them write a few things down and left them with some questions to answer. To close the lesson, I said, "And after all of this, you can summarize the message of the Monroe Doctrine in two words. Can anyone give me two works to sum this up?" Hot Damn! I have a kid in my first period class who has done NOTHING all year. He has not turned in a single assignment and has failed every test. Now, I will NOT think up things to praise a child about. Kids today get too much of this false praise, to the point that they don't think they have to do anything in order to be considered competent in school. But if they will just give me something to praise, I'll make a big deal out of it, and with a kid like this boy, it often is what will lure them into history. I've had kids over the years who sat and did nothing for half a year - like this boy - only to get into the class at the end of the year and come back years later to tell me they are in college studying history because they enjoyed it so much in my class. Because of that, I never give up hope! So here's this kid yesterday. Usually I have to keep my eye on him because he will try to pull his hood up over his head and listen through his ipod earbuds instead of listening to me talk. But yesterday, when I asked for two words to sum up the Monroe Doctrine his contribution was "Back off!" That was fun! I could give him genuine praise 'cause he was right on, he threw his fists into the air in the now classic "I did it!" action and at the end of class brought his agenda to me for signing, a big, hopeful step for him!

Now I have a whole two days with nowhere to go and no commitments so am trying to sort out my thoughts and decide what to do first. Fold and put away what laundry I didn't use out of the basket last week, start this week's wash. I think I want to concentrate on taking down the Christmas tree first. DH leaves on his Utah trip on Thursday, and I plan to bring my sewing machine into the family room while he's gone. My hope is to finish a quilt I'm working on for a friend and at least one of the blocks for the Butterfly Garden quilt so that I can do the handwork on it. If I have any energy left (and the residual of The Crap is that I tire very easily. Thanks for the warning, Kathryn!) I would like to make headway in the attic clean-out. I need to finish sorting and re-packing and labeling all that I brought down before Christmas. Then, all the furniture in two rooms has to be brought from the walls so that an electrician can come in and repair/replace all the outlets.

So, I guess I'd better get to it!

Friday, February 08, 2008

One last whine...

for now.

Woke up at 5:00 AM so depressed that I couldn't get back to sleep. As always, visiting blogs cheered me up some. I promise to come back after work (TGIF) with an attempt at an attitude adjustment. I'm so tired of feeling so hopeless.

DH is getting ready to leave next week for two weeks at the Utah condo - in the (sniff) snow. In the five years I've been paying for that thing I've only been there in the snow once. I was SO looking forward to going for spring break (early this year) because there should still be LOTS of snow to enjoy, but it's already been reserved for the week. Even if we could afford to lose the rental days (which we can't, since we've lost a whole season because of the flood), I'm not sure I should spend the $$$ to make the trip up. So I told DH I might not bump the renters and instead would not take the ASL class he wanted me to take this summer and would go spend a few weeks late June/early July.

Speaking of the flood, it's been eight weeks and the repairs are still not finished (even though on the rental calendar the management company has repairs completed on the 11th.) The manager said they MIGHT be able to comp DH another condo, to which he snapped off an email remind this guy that he has people flying in for the week. What, is he supposed to have them standing around in sub-freezing weather for a MAYBE condo? Someone got back to him right away to let him know they would have a place for him in one of the owner's condos (the owner is an old friend.)

My union action meeting went well but, of course, it means a ton of new work for me implementing the plan they devised. On top of which, we had decided not to go to board meetings for a few months, so I committed to giving a talk about the Supreme Court to the local Democratic Club. NOW we find out that on that very night is the meeting where our school board is going to be discussing mid-year cuts so THAT is the meeting I'm expected to pull together a big demonstration. Same thing happened last year and I ended up having to dash out of the Dems meeting after my speech (last year's topic was Signing Statements, which was very scary to learn about) and to the school board meeting.

I have to go get ready for work but wanted to write that my heart testing went fine. Won't know the cardiologist's take on everything for another month but as far as I could tell from watching the monitor during the echocardiogram everything seemed to be pumping right along. I was able to see one artery that seems to have a little plaque in one area but it didn't seem occluded. Have a funny story to tell about the treadmill test but will save it for tonight's post, which is going to be more upbeat. Since this is my whine post I will complain about being jerked around by this office. I had to take two days off work for this. Their instruction was to not eat for four hours before the treadmill test. My first appointment was for one o'clock on Tuesday. At 11:00 they called to say they were running behind, would I mind coming in at 2:00? No problem (I've got enough fat stores, I'm not going to starve). I was supposed to get an IV "installed', do the treadmill, then eat my fatty meal (which absorbs the tracer they inject partway through the treadmill), then do the echo, then go have a myocardial perfusion scan. As I'm standing on the treadmill ready for The Ordeal (part of the funny story for tonight), the office manager comes in wanting me to come in on FRIDAY (another day off work) for the echo because they are still running behind. I told her I was not taking another day off, that I was coming back the next day for the second part of the MPS and if she wanted to move the echo to Wednesday while I was here for Part Deux of the MPS that was fine, but that I had plans for the afternoon and would not hang around all day for it. No problem, she assured me, and I would be out by 9:30 AM. I had one of the first appointments on Wednesday (8:15). They didn't come get me until 8:30 (I was there early) and I wasn't out of there until nearly 11:00.

Yes, I know in a cardiologist's office they are very likely to have emergencies and I was not an emergency, but emergency did not seem to be the problem Wednesday, just people coming in late and being inflexible (although they certainly expected the patients to be flexible).

Let's see, I'm getting all my whining out. DH paid for $350 worth of repairs to DS2's car. DS2 has finally realized that he is not going to be "discovered" as a drummer (especially when he's not playing anywhere) so went to apply at what USED to be a huge employer in our area. Sadly, their business in in the dumps, as are all businesses around here as more and more greedy corporations move their work to other countries, so I fear he will be stuck working for the post office and delivering pizza at night (and still not making it). He will move back home in May (I hope) which should take some of the pressure off him.

And now I must leave for work, always a depressing thought. They just released the list of eighth graders who may not graduate in June, most of whom are in my classes. Only one of them - a boy whose mother died at the beginning of the year - has ever turned in an assignment. All the others don't believe this education has anything to do with them. So, how did we raise a generation with so many children (and, frankly, their parents) who don't think the students have a role to play in their own learning?

I guess I'm just supposed to cram it in their ears.

Monday, February 04, 2008

for Debbi at dubiquilts

I'll warn you right now, this is going to be one of my stream-of-consciousness rambles so bail now if you want. I just want Debbi to know that she really helped me with something.

I was raised by midwesterners who lived through the Depression. This means, I've been told (and have lived the evidence), that medical care is for emergencies only. I remember going to the doctor when I was 8 to get a boil lanced, 14 for a German measles shot (and if they hadn't been taking my little sister for her kindergarten physical, I'm not sure that would have happened) and not again until I took myself in at 20 to the gynecologist for a check-up and contraception before my wedding. I married a hypochondriac. Every little ache or twinge is cause for panic. I remember one year his heart skipped a beat. He worried and worried and - sure enough - it did it again. Off he went to a cardiologist and eventually had cardiac catheterization (angiogram), in which he learned that he has NO plaque anywhere. Diagnosis - stress. One missed beat and he worried himself into an invasive, potentially dangerous procedure. At his ten-year check the cardiologist told him to expect to live to at LEAST ninety.

Because of my upbringing and - frankly - disdain for DH's overreactions, I tend to want to blow off medical things. I did go on blood pressure medication several years ago, but my doctor moved out of the area and I let my prescription run out and didn't do anything for my health for about five years. Finally, about two years ago, I heard a little voice say to me, "You know, you're just committing slow suicide neglecting yourself this way." And it is true. One of the things I wrestle with all the time is the feeling that I've done what I was sent here to do. I won't take time here to dissect all the reflection I've done over this, but will just say that two years ago I again went on the hunt for a physician I could bond with. It took a while until I found just the right woman. She advises and I choose.

I've done a lot of things (by my standards) for myself in the last two years. Saw a dermatologist to have a couple of pre-cancerous growths taken off my face. Had every filling in my mouth replaced and a resorbing tooth extracted (and have kept up my cleanings.) I'm up-to-date on mammograms. My blood work comes back every year in the normal range - no diabetes and my cholesterol ratios are good. The biggest challenge so far has been getting my blood pressure down where she wants it and we've been trying different combos of stuff to get it down.

Because I had tolerated enalapril in the past, we started with 5 mg. My bp came down, but not far enough, so we increased it to 10 mg. I had an appointment in August 2007 and while my BP was down more, it still wasn't down enough. And my internist was not pleased at that visit that my heartrate was up. She first asked if I was feeling any tightness in the chest or shortness of breath. "Yeah," I said, "but it's kind of a 'bad air day" feeling, like from time to time I need a big sigh." (Note: this was during the big Ojai wildfires and the air was full of smoke for days and days.) Off the doctor went to get a device to put on my finger to measure my O2 levels - 96%. Finally she said, "You just look too comfortable," and added, "Stress can cause these symptoms. Are you under any stress?" At which point I burst out crying. She passed the tissues and said, "Guess so."

"Well," she mused, "I just think you're way too comfortable to be really concerned. If I were really concerned, I would send you off to the emergency room right now, but instead I'm just going to suggest that we call a cardiologist and get you in next week to make sure everything is OK."

No way. I was leaving the next day on my long-awaited vacation. In Utah. Two weeks in the Rockies. At 5200 feet. When she learned where I would be, she ordered an EKG. "If there's something wrong with your heart," she warned, "you will REALLY feel it up there." The EKG was fine. She gave me a copy of the read-out, a copy of my last bloodwork and orders to hightail it to the hospital at the first twinge of chest pain. She also suggested adding a different medication to the regime to bring my BP down some more. I explained that I was a little nervous about trying something new while 800 miles from home, so we opted to increase the enalapril to 15 mg for the two weeks I would be gone and see what happened. The next day Dh and I were in the car and headed up the 15.

I had no problems in Utah. In fact, by the end of the two weeks I could haul my fat butt up and down the stairs without getting winded. I even ended up walking uphill at 12,000 feet when we had to park in the overflow area to see some friends finish the Xterra triathlon at Snowbasin. I was panting a little, but recovered in about a minute. And, while resting for two weeks it finally dawned on me! When I had been on enalapril before, we had to reduce the dosage because it made my heart race! I was pretty sure that was the problem.

I saw the internist again when I returned. I shared with her what I had remembered about enalapril, and we immediately reduced the dosage and added one called diltiazem. She was changing practices at the end of that week - after a vacation - and could not tell me where she would be. It took me almost three months to find her again. At that visit we were thrilled that my BP was down to 114/74 and my pulse down to 64. As we rebuilt my file, she asked, "Are there any loose ends we need to tie up?" I was SORELY tempted to just drop the cardiologist thing. After all, she had SAID that if there was anything wrong with my heart, I would feel it in the high altitudes but I didn't. And once the air cleared after the fire I had no tightness or shortness of breath. And my pulse was down to 64! Seems to me our previous concerns were all for naught, right?

But then I thought, "After all of this work to build a trusting rapport with this doctor, shouldn't I honor our relationship by at least being honest? So I reminded her about her advice to see a cardiologist. DAMN, she wanted me to follow through with that. "If it's nothing, you haven't lost any more than a few hours. But if there is a problem, isn't it better to learn it now while it's less serious?" Yeah, yeah, yeah.

So, just after the MLK weekend I had a consultation (and took an immediate dislike to this guy). I explained what had happened (the short version, believe it or not) to get me to his office. I also said "morbidly obese 56-year-olds drop dead every day. The only way I'm going to lose weight is to build an exercise program, and this visit is also to find a safe way to do that." First thing he said was that my pulse (about 100 in his office) wasn't THAT high and my BP was under control. ("Great," I thought to myself, "I might get off easy.") No such luck. He didn't like my cholesterol numbers. "It's not really that high, and your ratio is good, but cholesterol and high blood pressure work
synergistically to increase your risk of heart disease." Swell. So, now I'm on lipitor. And a baby aspirin "for circulation."

And I have an appointment tomorrow for an echocardiogram and myocardial perfusion scan. Which brings me to my message for Debbi.

I SO DO NOT WANT TO DO THIS tomorrow. I've been trying and trying to find a way to talk myself out of it. Oh, I know I'll do it. But it was really bugging me to be in such conflict over it, to be so resentful of having to take the time off (seems like a waste of TWO sick days to me, 'cause I have to go back the second day for some part of the procedure.)

And then I visited Debbi's blog, dubiquilts. dubiquilts was one of the first blog links to go into my sidebar, mostly because my cousin's little girl used to call me "dubi." I always enjoyed reading Debbi's posts, although she's into some things (like fabric postcards) that don't really interest me that much. Consequently, hers is one of the blogs I don't read every day. In fact, due in part to switching to my new computer, I hadn't checked Debbi's blog in about three weeks.

I was absolutely shocked to read that Debbi had nearly died in the time that I'd been away. FIVE heart attacks, angioplasty and TWO stents later she seems to be on the mend, thank goodness. I hope any of my friends still reading this will go check out Debbi's story. We all need to take the lesson that she offers.

And Debbi, if you came over, I want to THANK YOU for taking the time to share your story. I'm still not looking forward to tomorrow's adventure, but thanks to you I AM looking forward to whatever I will learn. If it's good news, great - I'll get started on a walking program (but it may take me a while to build up to the 1.5+ miles you are doing.) And if I need to do some repair, so be it. I have your example to inspire me.

I have a rather strange spiritual belief system. It's personal and I feel no compulsion to explain it to anyone. All I'll say is that, after weeks of not checking in on dubiquilts, to pop in today and learn what I did, the day before I go for heart testing procedures, it just too weird to ignore. I have to believe that I was sent to you, Debbi, and I again say, "Thank you," for the help!

Butterfly Garden

Nancy, I ordered my Butterfly Garden patterns from Treasured Threads (see link in sidebar). They are getting more and more AU patterns all the time.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

This just in...

My brother just emailed. My parents are snowed in. They left Wednesday to spent a few days in their trailer at Bass Lake in the Sierras near Yosemite. Dad was supposed to spend yesterday at jazz festivals in the Fresno area, then they were to return home today.

Oops. DB says it will be at least a couple more days before they can get out. I'm sure they're thrilled!

Super Bore Sunday

At the risk of being called un-American, I will admit here that I despise football. My bigotry began in high school. I performed in what was then called an "attached unit" with the HS marching band. Every other Saturday each fall, we competed in a "band review" which meant spending the entire day getting ready to travel to another SoCA town, marching up to five miles, then waiting around until late evening for awards, arriving back at the high school around midnight to unload the buses and equipment vans. We practiced for these events in last period band supplemented by an hour after school every day.

In addition to this commitment, during the football season we were expected to support our school by performing a new, 12-minute halftime show every other Friday. The band was expected to play during the entire game (but not so loud as to make it impossible for the team to hear the signals) and we "attached unit" performers were expected to be the cheering section. In order to prepare for these halftime shows, we practiced our street routines for band class and the hour after school then, as soon as the football team left the field (to shower and go home), we could take the field to practice our show. On the night of the show we would leave the stands in time to be lined up off the field as the timer went off at the end of the first half. We would immediately take the field for our 12-minute show so that we would be off the field when the team returned for their two-minute warm-up before the second half.

Game after game, though, the team came out at 11.5 minutes, not twelve, and these drooling idiots thought it incredibly funny to run through our finale. Our director finally threatened to just not show up (something the coaches begged him not to do because, frankly, without the band section there, our school's crappy team would have been left with only their parents to cheer.) But, the coaches were bigger jerks than their players and there was really never any change.

DH (who played football through high school and at UCLA for a while in the late 1950s) agreed with me that our sons would not be allowed to play football. Period. (DH calls the game "painball" because of the aches he still suffers due to those hits in the 50s). They played baseball and basketball, and DS2 lettered in varsity volleyball in high school. Both boys say to this day, though, that they never understood what true teamwork was until they got into music. Sports tended, for them, to be the constant exercise of who will star this game, while in music a piece is only at its best when EVERY player is doing their best.

Still, DH enjoys watching football on television and we've spent many a lovely weekend tucked into our respective recliners, he napping through some football game, me with the latest stitchery project in hand. I was actually looking forward to doing the same this weekend, especially since I'm still dealing with the tail end of symptoms of The Crap of 2008. Instead, I'm hiding in my office. DH is a great guy, and this year's projects have been learning American Sign Language and working for emancipated foster youth in our community. Right now, my family room is filled with his "gatherlings," young people from either his ASL class or foster youth with whom he works in the community, to watch the Super Bowl.

I'm sorry to be so shallow, but all week long I have to make nice with kids, especially kids with problems. I'm just not up to hangin' with them on my day off.

So, here I am. I should be writing sub plans (have to be out Tuesday and Wednesday for some medical tests) or folding laundry. Or getting ready for a union action meeting on Thursday. I did do some work on a speech I said I would give next month about the Supreme Court (yawn). But I really don't feel up to any of that.

I'm watching 50 first Dates. And eating Dove's chocolate hearts. And cleaning off my bed. I've been sleeping in my recliner for the time of The Crap (everything drains better so I don't cough so much) and the bed got buried under craft supplies. I've got it just about cleared off so I can sleep there tonight. While digging through the stuff I found this stitchery piece. I really like it but can't decide what to do with it. It's supposed to be the medallion in a wall hanging, but the pattern is pretty simplistic. I might like to do something a little more complex around the edges than just two pieces of sashing (as was shown in the model.)

I've just about finished the center sampler for the "What Color is Spring?" quilt. I hope to have a picture to post soon.

Everyone have a good week!

P.S. Missy - If you haven't seen it yet, check out "Yes We Can." Get your tissue, first.

Wish I was There...

This picture was taken yesterday in the main intersection in the little Utah mountain town of Huntsville. The weathercam is mounted on the roof of Valley Elementary School, where all the kids K-6 attend school from the Ogden Valley. This is where we go in July to see the 4th of July parade, then where we go to see local fine arts in August when the valley hosts a hot air balloon festival. There are two major ski resorts in this valley, the biggest being Snowbasin, the Sun Valley resort that hosted the downhill events for the 2002 winter Olympics. The locals prefer Powder Mountain because, well, I guess the name says it all. It started snowing right around Thanksgiving and, near as we can tell from checking in on Weatherbug several times a day, it has snowed just about every day since then.

And this is the same intersection today. They are under a heavy snow alert. No kidding! Check out the depth of the snow around the stop sign!

Our condo is about five minutes further into the valley (in the even smaller town of Eden, Utah) and up Powder Mountain from here, so we assume the snow is about the same. Our building lot is very close to the condo, and we are very much looking forward to retiring there and enjoying this winter wonderland.

We just want to be retired first, 'cause this SoCA girl can't imagine having to anything more than tuck myself in to stitch, sew or write in this stuff.

Saturday, February 02, 2008


Well, this is the only stitchery related accomplishment of the last two weeks. It's the first mini-block from Leanne's Butterfly Garden and I put it together last weekend when I spent the night with my mom. SIL came over for her first hand-applique lesson. The previous day I had taken Mom to a couple of shops in a vain attempt to find some little buttons to include with Chiloe's snow gardener chart (sorry, no luck) and to fill out some of the fabrics for this quilt. I'm thrilled that I will be able to use up a lot of stash on this, but some of the pieces (like the little check above) are from charm packs and just aren't going to stretch too far. I needed a handful of yard pieces to tie the quilt together. I have a huge piece (10 yards of 52" wide) of Robyn Pandolph's "Captured in Time" that I had bought to make a garden trellis quilt for my upstairs guest room in the new house.

I had also bought several yards of her "Cinnamon Girl" rose bud (on the bottom of the mini-block) for the same quilt. Now there will be no upstairs guest room (maybe no new house) so I'm going to use all that for this quilt. It's perfect!

I'm finally starting to feel almost human again but am doing a lot of self-talk to not try to do too much this weekend. I would really love to get the Christmas tree down and do some cleaning but I'm just edgy enough with this thing to feel like if I do that, I'll be back down for next week. I have some medical tests scheduled for Tuesday that I do not want to have to reschedule because I overdid this weekend so LET LAZINESS REIGN!

The worst part of this virus was the depression. Last Monday I spent my entire work period crying in my classroom, then could barely contain myself for the rest of the day. By the time I got home I was a blubbering mess. DH felt awful (he's such a guy, wanting to "fix" everything.) I did my best to explain that life ain't been so great lately for us, but that I'm usually able to keep things in perspective and move forward through the trials. This virus just sapped out all my reserves and I had nothing left to battle the blues. Fortunately, that part seems to be passing, although I am still crabby and short-tempered at work.

On Thursday, one of our school coaches hosted a field hockey demonstration for the field hockey team (who were all going to be out of school all day Friday for a field trip to the local community college for a field hockey tournament.) At the beginning of my fifth period class a very sweet girl (and good student) came bee-bopping up up and asked, politely as you please, "Are we doing anything important in class today?" "Why no, dear, I never plan anything important for history." Still glowing, she says, "Well, our field hockey coach says that if we're not missing anything important in our fifth period class we can come to the demonstration." At which point I had to tell her that I was giving a lecture that would not be repeated nor could I give her anything to make up for it. Good girl that she is, she stayed in history and I got to watch her pout for 45 minutes.

Why was this my burden? The coach was already pulling the whole team out of their classes for an entire day Friday. Why even mention this second demonstration Thursday? And why put it on the regular ed teachers to be the bad guys? Do they think we're in the habit of planning meaningless activities that can be blown off whenever some coach wants to pull a kid? I ended my day writing a school-wide diatribe email. I tried to make the point that I really DO support enrichment activities and really DO support kids missing class to go do these things. But part of life is understanding that you can't do it all and it's nobody else's responsibility to see that you can. If you are going to miss one thing in order to do something else, that's your choice. It's nobody else's responsibility to make it OK for you.

My boys missed a lot of classes because of their "enrichment" activities. When my oldest was a senior, his honors English teacher called the house to tell me that even though my son was a "wonderful writer," he would never get higher than a "C" in HER class because he was gone all the time on "those music things." "Those music things" were competitions.
I told this teacher, "Music is air to my son; there's no way I'm going to make him stop going to 'those music things.' You, of course, should give him whatever grade you feel he's earned in your class." I then told him that she had called and what she said, and assured him he had our support whatever he decided. He continued to go to "those music things," then went on to get his BFA in music (a process that including performing in big bands that competed in -and sometimes won- international jazz festivals like Reno, Montreaux and North Sea. Oh yeah, and I don't know what his final grade was in honors English, but the teacher referred him for a special seminar with Jack Grapes, so she must not have thought he was too shabby.

See, my fuse is still really short. I had a professor tell me this once and I try to remember it. She was talking about students, of course, but I think it applies to everyone. She said, "It's like we're born with a ziploc bag. Every time someone does something positive for us - praises us for something, gives us a hug, supports us when we're down - we add poker chips to our ziploc bag. Every time something negative happens, we lose some chips. When we're faced with a challenge, we have to decide how many chips to risk; the challenge might not go well and we'll lose the chips we risk, but if it does go well, we get even more chips in return. Kids have those little ziploc bags, too, and kids whose bags are filled with chips are the ones who will risk them in classroom situations (or life situations, I would say); the kids who are low are chips are not going to risk the few they have.

This damn virus sucked up my chips. It's going to take me a while to collect some back up again.

By the way, my younger son has put together a youtube album of his drum-related stuff (he's a gifted percussionist; his older brother plays piano and is a gifted bass player. The term "gifted" is one I've overheard professionals say about them so I don't feel TOO much like the biased mommy here.) Anyway, DS2 posted the audio of one of his older brother's big band arrangements of "The Streets of Laredo" played by the Lane 29 Orchestra. When the boys were little, their dad would sing them to sleep with old cowboy songs, and DS1 did this arrangement as a tribute to his dad (which is why it starts out and ends like a lullabye). Anyway, if you would like to go hear it , here's the link. DS1 composed/arranged it and plays piano in this recording; DS2 is playing drums. Streets of Laredo

Friday, February 01, 2008


Your present is on the way! I hope your kids enjoy stamps. The postal worker cooperated with putting lots of pretty US stamps on the package for you!