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

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

Monday, June 23, 2008

Another Unique Person


Sunday, June 22, 2008

Happy Birthday to me, Happy Birthday to me...

I had a birth-weekend this year. As is appropriate considering I have now reached the grand age of 57! (No wisecracks, Chiloe!) Other than the creaky knees (which I blame on obesity rather than age) I don't feel any older than I did at 47, 37, or even 27. I'll share about our 4th of July celebration in Utah in another post, but I will mention here that someone in the crowd asked if I had a grandchild in the parade we were watching and it was the first time I've ever truly felt my age. And you know what's sad? I don't even have any grandchildren!

So, enough bemoaning the mathematics of the day and on to the spoilage of this ancient soul.

As is the custom in my family, we "clustered" the celebration of everyone in the family who needed to be honored in June. That included my BIL, my father (for Father's Day) and then we pulled in my oldest son who turned 30 (t-h-i-r-t-y, yes Chiloe, you can make a wisecrack NOW) on July 2.

I had already given my dad his gift, a Thursday, June 19 trip to Disneyland to enjoy the All American College Band. We had a great time. We actually talked - probably the most we've ever talked - all the way there (about 1.5 hour drive from his house). When we got to the park we were early enough that we parked in the outside lot. Normally I don't like that, but because Dad consented to let me push him in the wheelchair it was a lot easier to get to the restrooms and tram area from the outside lot than from inside the Mickey and Friends lot. The first thing we had to do was pay for the day ticket. Dad has an annual passport, but the day we chose was a block-out day which means I had to pay an additional $40 to get him in. Disneyland is celebrating the second year of their "Year of a Million Dreams" promotion and we got a dream come true when they upgraded Dad's passport to the next level up for no extra charge beyond my $40. This means that for the rest of his passport year (into late March) he will have some Sundays that he can join the rest of the family at the park, something he will love!

Once we had the ticket business taken care of we headed into Disneyland for breakfast at Cafe Orleans. We finished in time to go back out to the gate area for the first set of the Disneyland Band. They did an awesome set, a combination of jazz, marches and Disney music.)

From there we headed over to California Adventure for a ride on my Dad's favorite ever ride, Soarin' Over California, and back again to catch a set of Billy Hill and the Hillbillies. By this time it was finally time for the first set of the All American College Band - whoooo hoooo!

This group plays in corps style which means the sound penetrates right through your soul. We managed to catch five different performances in different areas of the park. Before the last set (my favorite, right in front of the Main Street RR Station) Dad treated me to dinner in the air-conditioned Plaza Inn restaurant (it was a very warm day so the cool was much appreciated.) After the last set at 7:00 PM we headed out.

Because we were leaving fairly early (before fireworks and Fantasmic!) there wasn't much of a wait for a tram to the parking area. Usually I take the wheelchair up onto the wheelchair ramp (which is some distance behind where everyone else waits for the tram pick-up) where an incoming tram will stop and pick us up. Then, usually, the tram moves forward to where the other riders are waiting and will fill up. When the tram is full, it moves on to the parking area. So, this evening we went to the wheelchair ramp and were picked up as we expected. The tram in front of us was not quite full so, after waiting for a couple of minutes, our tram driver pulled a u-turn and brought us back in an otherwise empty tram. When we got back to the parking area I asked the pilot, "Is a privately chauffered tram ride one of the Year of a Million Dreams prizes?" He cracked up, then said he just decided to bring us back by ourselves. What a hoot! I appreciated not having to deal with the stroller people.

Friday was a day to pack for our Utah vacation and get my own gifts ready for Saturday's bash. I did a pretty good job of getting everything together, if I do say so myself. The bash started at 3:00. It was originally planned for my sister's house, but SoCA had been having an amazing heat wave (afternoon temps of 120 degrees and she doesn't have air conditioning) so she shifted the venue to my parents' house (they have air in the large family room so at least we could stay cool as long as we stayed in that room.)

I had asked my kids and husband not to give me anything for my birthday. I have "stuff" everywhere and not an inch for anything more. I told them that going with me to Disneyland on Sunday (my actual birthday) was enough for me. DH knew he would be paying for everyone's meals and my younger son is pretty much totally broke so they complied. There was no way, however, to convince the rest of the family to follow suit so - at their urging - I had created a birthday gift wish list and they really spoiled me! My brother and sister-in-law and her daughter gave me five yummy fabrics from Mary Kathryn's online shop.

Aren't they just yummy? And my SIL said that Mary Kathryn's shop is super easy to use. When I emailed the list to everyone, I had included a direct link to the fabrics on my wish list and SIL said that helped her navigate the shop (since she doesn't stitch and had no idea what I was asking for.) And, as if that wasn't enough (and it was), SIL also gave me this fantastic pot full of flowers.

The sweet little birds were my gift from my older son and DIL. The two little birds (representing diversity, I think, since they are not of the same specie) sit on a little sign that says, "Love Lives Here."

My sis and her family gave me my very favorite WebKinz animal, the black and white cheeky dog (now retired) and some trading cards.

As always, my folks went way overboard but I'm not complaining. My presents started on Thursday when Dad and I got to their house after our Disneyland trip. Mom let me unwrap a kit by McKenna Ryan

and then pointed to a large self-healing cutting mat sitting on the dining table. "You have to take this, too, 'cause I'm sick of smelling it and I don't want to wrap it." My mom is one of the sweetest people you'd ever want to meet, so this just made me laugh it was so out of character. I took my mat with gratitude since my old mat - after twenty five years of use - is just flat worn out.

My folks also gave me a dvd set from Walt Disney Treasury called Disneyland: Secrets, Stories & Magic (which I'm watching right now) and a copy of National Treasure (a boo-boo because I had asked for the second movie but I still appreciated it.) And my mom must have spent an hour on the phone ordering a set of floss for a BAP that I'm looking forward to stitching after I retire.

The very next day (my REAL birthday) DH, both sons and my DIL joined me for a terrific (although hot) day at Disneyland. I got a "Happy Birthday" sticker and really enjoyed being wished "Happy Birthday" all day. We started at Disneyland by watching a few minutes of Michael Pollock's Ragtime piano. We had planned to come back for a full set (I'm a huge fan of Ragtime Michael) but didn't make it back that day. I think one of the highlights of our day was taking my DIL onto Splash Mountain for the first time. My brat son (her husband) told the castmember that it was her first time and asked if she could ride in the front.

While we waited in the line and rode Splash Mountain, my husband made one of his dreams come true by having his picture taken with his favorite character.

DH treated us all to lunch (really, why do people love the Monte Cristo? I love fatty foods but this is a mouthful of grease that even I can't handle) and then we headed over to California Adventure for a ride on Soarin'. Then my family let me step away from them (they didn't mind 'cause they stayed in the shade while I went into the sun) to watch the new parade in DCA (I love the Disney parades!)

Our happy day ended with shared ice cream sundaes for dinner and then leaving for home. It was a pretty early ending of the day (for me, anyway) but since DH and I were leaving the next day for the first part of our vacation trip I didn't mind.

What a great birthday!

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Tasha Tudor

died at the age of 93. I would love to say that I was always a fan of her art and stories, but I wasn't. I did receive a cookbook 36 years ago with Tasha Tudor illustrations, but that was my only knowledge of her until I bought a book called Tasha Tudor's Garden by photographer Richard Brown. Wonderful photos, wonderful garden and a great introduction to an amazing woman.

Oh, that we would all live our lives our own way, as she did.

11::06 AM

I was on my out to run errands and lingered in the doorway for last minute notes from my husband. He says, "So, you don't see anyone out there looking for a nasty little dog, do you?" "Nope, I replied." We talked for another minute and SHE DROVE UP! Thank goodness! It was so unfair to make my husband go through all this.

It's Here!

And I'm being so strong!

I've commented here before that I've fallen for some of the Australian quilt designers. One of my favorites, Natalie Lymer (Cinderberry Stitches) had a Mother's Day pattern in an Australian magazine called Homespun last month. I drove to all our big bookstores and, while they had a number of Australian craft magazines, they did not have this one. I'd pretty well given up when I went to Treasured Threads, a wonderful distributor for Australian patterns here in the states. I managed to get on their waiting list for the magazine and anxiously awaited word to send my check.

I waited and waited and then decided to check my junk mail folder. There was the notification I had been waiting for and I'd missed the deadline by ONE DAY! I wrote to them right away and they said I was SO lucky, they had not yet notified the next on the list. I was hoping that my magazine might get here before I left on my trip, but figured, with all the flooding in Iowa, I might have to be patient and wait until after our return. I must admit to being impressed (again) with the USPS. Treasured Threads mailed the magazine on Thursday and it got here TODAY (Saturday)! WaaaaaaHoooooooo!

Anyway, I'm being very disciplined and have just stuck the unopened package into my car tote for the trip Monday. What a lovely way to while away some of the fourteen hours it will take us to get to Eden.

In other news, my dad and I had a wonderful Father's Day Disneyland music trip. Our magical day started off on the right foot when I stopped by the ticket kiosk to pay the extra $40 on his SoCA Select pass. He was on a block-out day. They didn't charge us any extra but upgraded his pass for him to the SoCA pass. This means he will have some Sundays once the summer is over. Which means - once we upgrade Mom's pass, too - that we can all go as a family sometime in the fall. They day went well and was music-filled. When we were ready to leave I pushed the wheelchair onto the Tram loading ramp and we were picked up by a tram. (The procedure is to pick up wheelchairs first, then move the tram up to the loading area for the rest of the passengers.) We waited for a couple of minutes for the tram to move up, then he pulled a U-turn and took us - in our otherwise empty tram - back to the parking structure. As we were leaving the tram (with the pilot's assistance) I asked him if the private chauffeured tram was one of the "Year of a Million Dreams" prizes. He thought that was funny.

I got home about 10:00 and - BIG SURPRISE - demon dog was till here. Owner had called claiming that her "daughter had locked the car keys in the car."

Yeah. Right.

DH gave her until 11:00 am, which is when he has to leave on his commitments, to come get the dog. 11:00 am it goes to the pound. We're not risking another citation for barking and we can't leave it alone or it will BARK - incessantly. It was supposed to be gone three weeks ago.

She has ten minutes left, then it's farewall.

And I'm off on my errands.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

I forgot.

As I'm tying up loose ends trying to get ready for the mega-weekend and leaving on vacation I realized I never shared the work I did on the garden this spring. This wooden fence is the replacement for the stucco wall that was blown down this past winter. What meager plantings there were in this bed were destroyed during the building of the fence (except for one little heliotrope that is coming back now. Before my DIL's mother's visit I weeded this bed, added soil (the new fence has a different footprint than the original and we ended up with at 12" trench along the rear of the bed where the old footings had been.) I had tried several "water features" in this corner and finally found this fountain (for cheap) at Costco. I installed the fountain, then planted flowers all around. Some of the flowers are perennials that, with luck, I will never see grow to maturity: two hydrangeas (one behind urn, one under outlet); a half dozen apricot foxgloves; a couple of blue delphinium (have never had much luck with them but my SIL grows them beautifully and her conditions are much more challenging than mine.) Pink wave petunias interspersed with a blue and white lobelia. Behind them is a pink gerbera daisy, some heliotrope (smells so delicious) and a snapdragon. On the other side of the urn are more lobelia (dark blue this time) and some more hardy plants like sage, blanket flower, a couple of kinds of daisies and a bright yellow thing that the nurserywoman assured me would spread througout everything. We'll see. The fountain has a very small catchbasin (I had a 3' diameter, 8" deep pond there before) which is just big enough for duckweed (I fell in love with duckweed when I was a teenager and try to keep a little bit of it growing all the time. Yes, I know it's a pest.)

I wasn't able to plant the rest of the flowers I bought because of the Demon Dog (who is being picked up by her owner tomorrow evening if the woman keeps her word this time.) It's too late to plant them before we leave Monday (I wouldn't ask my son to do the twice daily watering they would need to get established in the heat of the summer) so this afternoon I did some judicious pruning (leaves and roots) so that they will make it through the next couple of weeks until we get home.

This is the piece of sidewalk decking I replaced. An embarrassingly half-assed job but it's functional.

My husband cleaned up his old laptop for me to use. I signed up for Verizon's broadband service and got myself a cute little wireless mouse. I'll try to keep y'all updated (with pictures, she says hopefully) of my Shepherd's Bush trip and the Wasatch Utah Shop Hop (if I go). Not to mention the drop dead beauty of the Ogden Valley.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Saturday, June 14, 2008

It ain't over until...

...the fat lady sings.

And this fat lady can't sing until she gets her classroom cleaned out.

My contract year officially ended Thursday, but I had taken Monday and Wednesday off so had to come back Friday to clean out my room. It was really a mess. I only "stash and dash" -ed on the last day last year because I had totally had it (a rough year last year). This year I was sick for almost six weeks starting in January and never did catch up. I had three boxes full of papers to be refiled. I will also need some shelf space in the cupboards for union stuff (no, I am not bringing all that crap into my already stuffed-to-overflowing house). And I still hold some faint hope of retiring in the next few years (Thursday was supposed to be my last day. Have I whined about that, yet?)

Anyway, I spent yesterday cleaning and clearing. One of my colleagues was doing the same in her classroom and was pitching stuff her MOTHER had not thrown out when she retired from teaching second grade. Since my oldest is teaching second grade next year, I had to grab all the discards in case there is anything he can use. So, by the end of the day yesterday I was pooped out but somehow had more than I started with.

I'm so good at that.

Wednesday was a wonderful day. I spent the day with my son at his charter school in LA. I've had nightmares about his "inner city" school and was delightfully surprised. Their little school seems to have been embraced by the neighborhood (the taggers leave them alone). The children were wonderful and I was very proud of my son. He did a wonderful job of turning his group into "students." (He had some real behavior challenges this year.) He's told me all year of learning that one kid is the nephew of the neighborhood crack dealer and another they believe is the child of the local pimp and another is scared all the time because his family members keep getting killed. But these sweet, darling kids are simply sweet, darling kids like any you'd meet in any neighborhood in America. In fact, every one of them was more polite and respectful than a growing number of my upper middle class/affluent students here in suburbia. All of his "graduating" students (fifth grade going into middle school) had to give their own graduation speech and one of them bragged that they didn't know double digits before, but Mr. M--- was even able to teach her double digits so now she can do double digits!

Tuesday, June 17

I had to leave the previous entry and am just now getting back. Today was the official first day of summer break because I got my classroom cleaned out yesterday. Of course, I had to spend today going through the car full of boxes that I brought home but that's OK. I got the union tote/notebook/files from five years ago cleaned out and condensed the stuff I brought for my son down to four boxes instead of six. Brought a few things home for my nephew, too. He's ten and obsessed with weaponry of all kinds so I brought home the Civil War and Knights books from my reference collection. Maybe he'll learn something.

Fortunately (or unfortunately, depending on your point of view) today was a good day for this kind of chore because the power was out for TEN HOURS. Edison was replacing a huge something or other at the end of the street behind us. We had lots of notice (alth0ugh they said nine hours and actually took ten). DH and I realized just how addicted to electricity we are.

So now the countdown is for a big, fun weekend and our vacation in Utah. Friday I take my dad to Disneyland to see the All American College Band (see YouTube clip above). This is our second visit just to see this amazing group and all Dad and I will do is go ride Soarin' Over California at DCA once, then head to Disneyland to follow this group around all day. I think I've convinced Dad to let me push him in my Mom's wheelchair (he'll be 83 in October and it is getting harder for him to trek the park all day) so he should really enjoy the day.

Saturday is the family's June/July Birthday Bash for my BIL, myself, and my older son as well as Father's Day for my dad. Sunday is my birthday for real and my little solo trip back to Disneyland has become a family trip. I hope they aren't too disappointed. I don't do a whole lot of riding on attractions anymore. Instead, I want to see the Hillbillies, watch the Parade of Dreams then head over to DCA for the Pixar Play Parade. Kind of boring for the others, I'm afraid.

Then Monday we leave for Utah. We're a little nervous because we haven't seen the condo since the great flood and renovations. We expect they did a great job with the repairs but we may find damage to some of the stuff that was stored in the downstairs closet. Oh well. Didn't cause it, couldn't prevent it.

I'm looking forward to a visit to Shepherd's Bush to get fiber for a couple of pieces as well as more Q-Snap frames and some of their new frame covers. Every year that we've headed for Utah I've just missed the Wasatch front quilt shop hop but this year it's a week later and I will be able to catch some of it. I'll have to decide if I want to go to some shops or not. DH is encouraging me but really, I need more fabric like a hole in the head, could save the money for more stitchery stuff and at over $4.00 per gallon, really don't need to spend the gas money, either. I'll see if any of my Utah friends want to go and make the decision when we're up there.

We're looking forward to attending the June 28 Obama-que sponsored by a group called "Mormons and Everyone Else in Utah for Obama." We attended an Anti-Bush rally three years ago in Salt Lake City (called for by then mayor Rocky Anderson) when Bush was there speaking to the Veterans of Foreign Wars. We learned that there aren't a lot of Democrats in Utah (about 2,000 at the rally) but they are not wishy washy Dems like here in our town. Really quite refreshing.

The demon dog is still with us until Friday. DH told its owner (when she finally answered the phone) that if she didn't pick it up by Friday he would take it to the pound. It has pissed on my family room carpet, dug a hole in the back yard, carried garbage into the family room and the best one - earned a citation from animal control for barking. DH went out for a couple of hours of errands and locked it in the kennel. It tipped over its water dish so when L--- got home, there was a tag on the doorknob citing him for not putting water in the kennel and for not having a license for the dog. L--- called the number as ordered and explained the situation. My feeling is that the owner really thought L--- would keep her precious darling forever. She has not found a new place that will allow the obnoxious beast. I think L--- should make her come get it and take it to the pound herself since she hasn't found another place (she said two weeks and it's been a month). Oh, well, not my business. BTW, a friend spent three hours with us on Father's Day and commented to L--- on her way out, "That is a nasty little dog."

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Almost Breathing Time

Five more days to summer break.

It's been a hairy month. Most of the hairy-ness came from me freaking out over my son's MIL coming for lunch. B---'s always had everything nice to say about his mother-in-law so it's been just me being nuts. I have never been this nervous. The visit was marvelous. The only moment of awkwardness was when they came in. How do two mothers, separated by culture and language - not to mention an ocean - whose children have been in a relationship for nine years (married two) greet each other for the first time? I pretty much took care of that by smothering the woman in a big hug, which she happily returned and then all was well. Y--- did a fantastic job of translating for all of us.

I think my scrapbooks saved the day. Y--- and her mom snuggled in on the couch to go through my Christmas and Disneyland scrapbooks. Mama decided she wants to scrapbook, too. They seemed to enjoy going though the books while I finished lunch and relieved some of the conversation anxiety. As always, G--- saved the food day. I had sliced, diced and boiled but he came home from work and pulled everything together into his trademark dish (bowtie pasta with doctored-up Alfredo sauce). I baked two pans of frozen garlic toast and burned one, but the second was delicious so the joke became that you have to make it that way (burn the top rack) so that the toast on the bottom rack comes out right. For dessert I had strawberries from The Stand. There is one strawberry stand (and strawberries are the main crop around here; the county even has an annual strawberry festival) in town that is revered as the best in the land. And, happily, it's the one closest to my house. Anyway, they were huge and delicious and I melted a pound of Mercken's dark chocolate and we dipped them right at the table. That turned out to be great fun, although we could not get Mama to let them harden. I have to say, she might be onto something. The warm chocolate was awfully good.

I have a very busy week scheduled next week. Tomorrow is the 8th grade's annual graduation trip to Magic Mountain (a Six Flags park about 45 minutes from us). I don't care for the place. No pixie dust. Anyway, any 8th grade teacher who doesn't go to MM with the kids as chaperon has to stay at school and move class-to-class covering for 6th and 7th grade teachers who want to go on the trip. Talk about a lose/lose for me. I figured out a few years ago that this was well worth saving a personal day for. I use a personal day and take the day off. A sub gets one more day's work during the last week of school (usually not a big sub income week). The students get a sub one way or another so it might as well be someone they have probably had as a sub all year anyway.

And I go to Disneyland.

This is turning into a big Disneyland month for me. I usually take my folks one day while their passes are still good. The Disneyland annual passport magazine said the All American College Band would be there June 1 through August 18. My folks' passes are still good up through June 17 (during the week) so we scheduled two days to go see the band, only to learn the band is in rehearsal and doesn't start performing until June 18. Figures.

I had already arranged a day off to take them last Tuesday and ended up just taking Mom. It worked out really well. We did "girl" things.

Mom had never been to the Princess Fantasy Faire. We got there just in time for Mulan to tell her story, then they had a cor0nation. For a coronation ceremony first all the little kids go get a gold crown and a page of stickers that they can use to decorate their crown. Then a lord and lady come onstage and teach them to wave regally and to curtsy and bow. Then, with the help of two pages and two - I don't remember what they called them but they're female castmember dancers - they teach the little ones a dance. THEN the princesses come out and they sing the Welcome song and dance. Then they bring out three maypoles and do "the ribbon dance."

Mom said that was the best part of the whole day! (She loves watching little kids get into fantasy and it's so easy to do at Disneyland.)

After the Faire we went down and claimed our favorite seats for the parade.

After the parade we got something to eat and headed home.

So, tomorrow was supposed to be a day both DH and I go to Disneyland and California Adventure. I'm supposed to go again on the 20th to take my dad to see the All American College Band, and then was planning to go all by myself on my birthday, the 22nd. I was going to get myself a birthday button and just indulge myself. I never really mentioned my plans to anyone but DH. The family birthday bash will be the day before and everyone knows DH and I leave for Utah on the 23rd. Who in their right mind goes to Disneyland the day before they are scheduled to leave for a two-week vacation? (Reference line above "just me being nuts.")

Anyway, B--- and Y--- were checking their calendars a couple of weeks ago and noticed that my birthday was on a Sunday that the annual passports I got them last month were still unblocked. So, they emailed me to ask if I wanted to go to Disneyland on my birthday with them. Sure bet! Then yesterday, DH hears of this change in plans and says he wants to come, too, even though it will cost him extra money. Then B--- talks his brother into it so now we have the whole family going with me on my birthday! Which is way cool but totally not what I had planned.

That's all right, though, because DH can't seem to face going twice in one month so he's bailing on me for tomorrow's trip and I will be "all by me onesy." S'okay. I've stuff to do that I don't impose on him.

Tuesday will be "finish up" day for me finishing grades and returning things to kids and so on. Wednesday I've taken another day, this time to go into LA to see B---'s school, then to Encino for his school's end-of-year production. Should be fun.

Thursday is the official last day of school. I'll be mostly cleaning my classroom until commencement. I'll have to come back on Friday to finish cleaning before I can check out. When I was sick in January (5.5 weeks) I got behind and never caught up so there's a lot of sorting and pitching and dusting to do. But then I will be well and truly done for a while.

I agreed to take the union presidency (can't whine if you won't act). Things are such a mess I don't know if I'm inheriting a nightmare or something salvageable (probably the former). My main goal is to use the year to wrangle the reins away from the Old Guard and hand them to the New Ideas. Definitely time for a change.

I can hardly wait to get to Utah. I've got my charts ready to go on a spree at Shepherd's Bush (my LNS is 800 miles from home.) I'm going to kit La Balancoire, the Nimue chart I got after Christmas and one of the Victoria Sampler charts I bought this spring.

Mostly, though, I'm looking forward to just being in Eden. If you'd like a glimpse at my home away from home (someday - economy recovery willing - it will be my home) check out this link. Watch the little video. The golf course is the backyard of our condo, and is between the condo and the lot we bought to build on.



Thursday, June 05, 2008

Missy, Nancy and I are all doing the Barack Boogie!

When it was time for California to vote in our primary I was really convinced that either Barack or Hillary would be terrific as President and was having a hard time deciding. Finally I let Missy have my vote since she wasn't able to vote this time around.

Boy, am I glad! The more I followed Clinton's campaign the more convinced I became that she would be just more of the same. I'm excited to get behind something new. I was particularly put off by her comments about the California primary in June being a deciding factor for candidates. Hello? California is an important primary because we're a large state. And our primary was moved up to FEBRUARY, Hillary. California wasn't voting in June this time around.

I sincerely hope she is not selected as the VP candidate. Barack would be too distracted always trying to watch his back to get the job done.

There, Nancy, I don't mind venting. You're so nice.

The DNC just announced they would be accepting no more lobby money in this campaign. What a great first step.