Welcome!

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

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

Friday, December 31, 2010

Sin and Wrongdoing.

Reivers.

One of my favorite pieces of movie music is from a movie I've yet to see.  The Reivers, a 1960s movie based on the novel by William Faulkner, was scored by John Williams. The music was later arranged into a lovely suite with narration by the late Burgess Meredith.

Much of the narration is loosely based on Faulkner's narrative although it does not quote it directly.  One of my favorite lines is,

Boone knew something that I did not: That the rewards of virtue are cold and odorless and tasteless and not to be compared to the bright and exciting pleasures of sin and wrongdoing.

That said, I will toast you with my Hawaiian Punch and M&Ms and wish you the happiest of new years in 2011.

Pingxi Lantern Festival2

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Needle...

...hath met fabric.



It's been so long since I worked on this that the white had discolored and I had to replace it.

I've joined a Christmas stitching group on facebook.  My friend Chiloe suggested I get back to this.  Have to admit it feels GREAT to have needle in hand.

Day made perfect by the delivery of the score by John Powell from How to Train Your Dragon.  Genius of an uplifting piece of music.

Speaking of music, I uploaded a youtube "Holiday Card" from the cast of Opening Night.  If you're cynical about Christmas (or just have a VERY open mind) you might enjoy it.  (Reminds me a little of "The St. Stephens Day Murders" from a favorite Chieftains album.)  Anyway, there's a comedy theater in Los Angeles called iO West.  Professional improv artists create a musical from an audience suggestion every Friday night at 9:00 PM.  Absolutely hilarious and well worth the effort to check it out.

Happy New Year to everyone who stops by here.  Wishing you a hopeful and satisfying year.

Hugs.

Opening Night X mas Song

Monday, December 27, 2010

Reflections

on a momentous year.

I'm getting a little head start on New Year's Resolutions.  I love to make them, but rarely keep them.  This year, however, feels different because of the amazing year I've had in 2010.  I'm actually feeling hopeful - even confident - about 2011 and what I plan to accomplish.  But first...

In September of 2009 I was contacted by a facebook friend about participating in a small project.  I was happy to oblige, and the experience developed into an odd but enjoyable (and usually one-sided) correspondence.  To be truthful, it was a life-preserver for me through a difficult time.  I was already feeling a little battered by life when we learned that my dad had terminal cancer.  He died June 19 (it wasn't a good death, I'm afraid) and shortly after that my life-preserver friend recommended Julia Cameron's Artist's Way.   He had found it "transformational" for himself and, although I was skeptical about "transformation," I was willing to try it in hopes of moving forward.

Transformation is exactly what I got from that experience.  Through it I learned some things about myself that have surprised me and have helped me develop a more hopeful attitude about the future.  But there were a few practical holes in the process and I found myself still floundering with the day-to-day challenges of living.  Recently, though, I've been catching up with my nightstand stack and am about halfway finished with Jonathan Haidt's The Happiness Hypothesis.  I had already started kind of a Flylady routine (again) to keep up with housework.  Haidt explains why her routines are the RIGHT routines for me, that to re-train my brain for this kind of work I need to do small, daily chores (and get the reward of a "flash of pleasure" with the completion of each one INSTEAD OF the weekly (or bi-weekly or monthly) gag-out, whole house cleaning I've done all my life.  I was finding myself incredibly resentful that, after working all week, I was spending all of my weekend trying to clean up the accumulated mess.  So, one of my resolutions for the new year will be to continue to develop these short, daily routines so that I have more free time on weekends.

I want to get back to active scrapbooking, especially on my second son's set of albums.

I want to get back to active stitching and quilting.  I am determined to finish some of the terrific UFOs that, I confess, are starting to haunt me.  (If you crawl back through my archived posts you will find a lot of these in 2006 and 2007.  Haven't done a thing with them since.)

This one is first.  Designed by Nancy Murty, it's been in this stage for about five years.  All it needs is binding and a hanger.  Oh, and a space on a wall would be nice, too, but that will be harder to come by around here.  Still, I really would like to finish it.



I have a second partially-finished Murty piece that needs more work.  I still need to machine applique around all the leaves, stems and berries, then bind this quilt and add a hanger.  I made a lot of mistakes with this guy (and, of course, my eye will go right to them once he's hung) but still want him finished.




I've joined a facebook Christmas Stitching group.  My longtime blog friend Chiloe says I should work on this guy.

Sometimes I need to be reminded what beautiful pieces I have stashed.








One of my problems with St. Nick is that it's very tedious work so I'm going to break up the Christmas stuff with some smaller projects.  I never did finish the cute little Margaret Sherry kitten cards I started, so would like to get them done this year (I think three?)



And I really want to start this one over.  I got a good ways through it, then left it sitting for several weeks under the skylights in the family room.  The beautiful opalescent blue fabric faded to white.  I bought some more and want to start this over.  It's such a cutie (there's a brightly-colored stocking hanging from that branch.)


I finished the stitching on this piece (YAY me!) but haven't finished it into anything.  I'd like to take it to Michael's, I think, to see if I can find a frame to fit it.  I have several other holiday charts by this company (same style and size) and have in mind hanging it somewhere and then changing out the charts depending on the holiday in season.


Still working on the embroidery on this Crabapple Hill piece.


 And on this quilt inspired by a Bareroots pattern.



I usually work on Firefly Faeries by Marilyn Leavitt-Imblum when I stay at our condo in Utah.  It's quiet there, clean, no rambunctious dog.  Haven't been there for a couple of years, now, though so it languishes.  Sigh.


And, of course, there are many beautiful projects still to be begun in the pattern/fabric museum.


I think I calculated out (about five years ago) that if I completed ONE major project each year from my stash, I would need to live to 130 to get them all done.  Since then I haven't completed anything and, naturally, have added many charts and patterns (and fabric and floss) to the queue.

Something tells me I'm going to need to prioritize.

This is all going to cut into my facebook time, isn't it?

Saturday, December 25, 2010

7:40 AM

Christmas Morning

In the happiest times - when I was a kid, and then when my kids were little - IT would be all over by now.  New pajamas on Christmas Eve.  One present to open for each of us.  The new game.  I still remember the smell of that new game when we opened it.  Cardboard and ink.  And fun. 


The breathless anticipation (I can be forgiven cliches on Christmas, can't I?).  Not able to get to sleep.  Waking up early.


Stockings.


When we moved to the "final" house, Santa carried our stocking upstairs and hung them on our doorknobs.  By 5:00 AM we three kids were up and gathered in my room to open our stockings.  I seem to remember eating the banana that was in the stocking, but usually it was a pre-breakfast feast of chocolate in multiple forms.  There were always small presents to unwrap and "play" with.  I'm sure my parents were especially thankful to Santa for that extra half-hour of sleep.


By 5:30, though, we were all downstairs and distributing gifts for the Grand Unwrapping.  So many gifts.  Too many, probably, but nobody was complaining.

And none of this Everybody Tear Into Your Gifts at Once baloney.  Uh uh. 


One. At. A. Time.

It took hours, but I loved it.  Loved seeing what everyone else found under the wrapping paper.  Such pretty paper, and usually with curling ribbon bows.

Curling ribbon.  To this day I love curling ribbon.

So now it's nearly 8:00.  Only three of us in this house.  Only one at my Mom's.  Hoping Mom is doing all right.

Got to share the "unwrapping" with my kids in Japan last night (Santa got to them a whole day before he got here) vis Skype.

Grateful this morning for Skype.

And for my brother and sister who took care of my Mom last night.

Guess I'll go make some noise and get things going here.  Headed to Mom's later.

Merry Christmas, everyone.  Wishing you the melding of good memories of the past, making new ones for future rembrance.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Holiday Wishes


 Busy busy with last-minute Christmas tasks.  Errands run, hair washed and the BEST batch of clam dip ever finished.  Next will be chocolate chip cookies (now there's a combination).  Presents still to be wrapped and half of my kitchen floor never got mopped last week so must get to that.

Oh, and I still have to find the stockings.  Was certainly off my game this year.

Just wanted to pop by and thank you for visiting me.  I wish you all the very best year to come.

I'm hopeful.  I hope you are, too.


Hugs!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Sunday, December 19, 2010

2010 - End of DADT

2011 - Marry who you love.  
Repeal Prop. 8 in CA and its sisters throughout the land.

Jefferson said the definition of "liberty" was the freedom to do whatever you want as long as you don't infringe on anyone else's Natural Rights of Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.  To deny LGBT sisters and brothers the right to the legal and spiritual commitment of marriage that the straight community enjoys is not only discriminatory, it's un-American as it goes against our founding values.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Winter Break Bliss

Where's my stitching?






Yesterday my students were nuts.  It was the candy crazies.  "Gingerbread" houses made of graham crackers and candy.  DNA helix-es.  More candy.  Candy canes going friend-to-friend. And can anyone tell me why my colleagues give out candy to kids on their way OUT the door so that I have to fight them over it on their way into my class?  I don't allow food.  EVER.  Why?  Well, believe it or not some of these kids have not been taught to chew with their mouths closed and they get candy cane bits all over the carpet.  Which attracts mice.


Ew.

Anyway, that insanity was all over yesterday, apparently, because today they were pretty mellow.  Of course, progress reports were received by their parents yesterday and since most of mine bombed the Constitution test they probably took a load from their parents.  I feel sorry for some of them.  I have one darling girl who not only copied from another student's work, she then turned around and let someone else copy her's.  I caught her, gave them all zeroes and now she's in deep doo-doo for her first D- ever.  I told her that I was still angry about it but would take a nice break and when I came back to work would revisit the issue and might exercise one of several options that would help her grade since I was sure this would never happen again.  She will, however, do some suffering over the break.  I feel bad about that, but in the long run she'll be better off.  


At least, in my value system she would be.  I often wonder if we've developed into a culture where cheating is necessary for success and honesty and integrity are lost values.


Those are the hard moments in this job.  I hate making lovely, sweet girls cry.
  
The perks came at 3:10 PM this afternoon.


Winter Break.


Until January 4.




I came home to a quiet house.  Dodger was in his crate, sound asleep.  I went in to let him out and he didn't even twitch.  I coulda shoulda woulda gone to the gym but it was so quietly delicious.  Raining.  It took me only a few seconds to throw the gym in the "later" box.  Later.  Like Sunday.  Stripped the encumbrances of work attire and donned my oversized sweats.  Turned on the little heater.  Settled in front of facebook for a cozy couple of hours playing with my farm and visiting with my friends.


We don't really DO winter in SoCA beach cities.  Had a couple of foggy mornings last week and, of course, the current rainstorm rolled in yesterday afternoon.  We're all thrilled to be able to drag out our scarves and gloves - finally - for however many days this cool weather lasts (it's like in the 50s).  Everyone's sending wishes that it lasts through Christmas as 90 degree Christmas days are more common than cool Christmas days.


I only have a few "set in stone" commitments for the break.


Tomorrow morning I will spend in a neighboring town with my Mom and sister.  Part of that time will be planning when I will return to help Mom get her house ready for Christmas.  Maybe take her grocery shopping or for some last-minute Christmas stuff.  Cleaning.  Returning with drinks for The Day itself.




Then about 1:00 I'll leave for this theater...

 to see these guys.



I fell in love with the Gay Men's Chorus of Los Angeles years ago when they first started performing in the Los Angeles Music Center Christmas Eve "present" to the community.  It was televised on our local public TV station (KCET).  24 hours of local groups performing holiday music and dance.  It was just the best background music for Christmas Eve preparations.  I watched for several years and then, one year, GMCLA took the stage and took my breath away.  This year they recorded a video of "True Colors" by Cyndi Lauper for the "It Gets Better" campaign and that breath thing happened all over again.


Before my older son moved to Japan, one of the conversations we had that had an impact on me was about the importance of supporting live performance.  There is something special - no, important - about the exchange of energy between performers and their LIVE audience.


I saw it most dramatically one year when I chaperoned my younger son to a jazz festival in Las Vegas.  As part of the trip we all went to see Lord of the Dance.  Two female fiddlers (I don't know if it's the same two as in the video I've shared here) were playing (amazingly) in front of a silent audience.  Silent until my son, then a senior in high school, heard something that so impressed him that he had to burst out with a cheer.  The fiddlers were electrified.  They both smiled broadly, turned toward the voice and played "to him" for the rest of their set.  Once the rest of the audience caught on that the performers actually enjoyed and appreciated that interaction with the audience, the audience was energized and that energy flowed back and forth between the stage and the seats for the rest of the night.


The gist of the conversation about supporting live performance was that if that exchange of energy stops because fans don't turn out for performances and share it, then we may lose an important part of the creative force that produces the music we love.  And the theater.  And the dance.  And the poetry.

So, when I saw "True Colors," and was reminded of all the Christmas Eve's that GMCLA had enriched for me over the years, I decided to go online to see if they had any live concerts planned.  And ended up buying a series.


The first concert is tomorrow at the Alex Theater in Glendale.  I've had peek on someone's blog about the program and am very excited.  They are doing a very full program including one of my favorite newer Christmas songs, Mariah Carey's "All I want for Christmas is You."


Glendale is about halfway between me and Disneyland, so I decided to spend the evening there.  Of course, when I developed this plan I wasn't expecting the Pineapple Express to drop this far south.  Still, there are some Christmas purchases haunting me and the attraction of an evening alone in the lights and fun.  For all the years I've gone to DL for ChristmasTime, I've never seen the fireworks show so am considering - if the rain isn't too heavy - staying for the show.

Sunday will be gym time soon enough.  FINALLY putting up the tree.  Vacuuming and dusting.  Just tidying up to enjoy the week.  For years my goal for Christmas was to have a beautifully decorated, sparkly clean house for Christmas Eve.  Then, gifts wrapped and under the tree, foods prepared, music playing (or a Christmas Classic on the television) I would kick back in my recliner to stitch with eggnog (non-alcoholic) at my elbow.  Fire in the fireplace.
  
Never happened.


Now no matter how hard I work on the house, it always looks bad to me because there is no surface in this house - outside of The Sanctuary (my room that I re-decorated two summers ago - that doesn't need TLC of some kind.  So, now I hardly bother.


I was feeling guilty about not having a tree up yet and posted something about it on facebook.  My sister saw the post and said that I should not look at the tree (a POS little four-footer sitting atop the dog crate, waiting for decorations) but rather should go look in the mirror.  My 8 hours a week of gym time is paying off.  I lost another 2.8 lbs last week for a total of 37 since last December.  I still have a long way to go, but look LOTS better and feel TONS better.  She's right, of course.  (That's why we have sisters, you know?)  It's much more important that I spend time working out for my health and mental well-being than decorating a piece of plastic (that, frankly and importantly, I won't see much because I spend so little time in the family room anymore.)


Come to think of it, I haven't baked much yet, either.  There have been no snickerdoodles.  No banana bread.


Better put those on the set-in-stone list, huh?



Dueling fiddles

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Ready to rock?

SNC. Glee.

What joy hath been wrought?

'S OK.  I like to cry for happy.

First Performance from NBC's The Sing-Off!

Straight No Chaser - Hey Santa [Live in New York Holiday Edition Concert...

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Change.

"Change is life...


and life is good."


A favorite quote from one of the movies I show in my class every year.  The older I get, the more I like it, although I admit I don't care for change all that much.  I've had some fun making changes lately, however, so I won't complain.

So I'm trying out the improved blogger composition tools.  Am excited about the image changes since I enjoy including photos here and sometimes they can be a challenge.  Seems to be a problem with the "enter" button to change paragraphs, though, so I'll have to go re-read the blurb and see if I'm supposed to be doing something different.  (Just tried to hit it now and it went back to the beginning of this paragraph.  Hmmm.  That's not going to work.)

Gearing up for a busy weekend.  I'm determined to wear my new black jeans to a concert next weekend and am sure it won't be a problem if I can be a soldier on WW this week and hit the gym a few days.  That means this will be short so I can get to the gym.  Tonight is a family party, tomorrow a local band concert my son will be playing drums in.  I will host the family here after there for soup and salad, so it would be nice if I could get the floors swept and vacuumed and some Christmas decorations up.

(Ah, one uses the arrow down to change paragraphs.  Dumb idea, blogger.)


One more week of school.  I'll be hearing student presentations Monday and Tuesday and then to conclude our month of Constitution study they'll be watching Mr. Smith Goes to Washington.  I'm always amazed at how much my 13-year-olds love this 1939 black and white movie.  No blood, no gore, no foul language (although alcohol seems to be fairly prevalent in this post-prohibition film).  I rarely see it (since I'm usually frantically trying to get something graded so I don't have papers to take home over the break) but never tire of Jimmy Stewart's and Jean Arthur's fabulous voices.

This past week was party week.  Chancellor's dinner Wednesday, staff party last night.  Next week should be pretty tame once the weekend is over.

Which brings me back to the gym.  Better get going.

P.S.  Verdict's still out, blogger.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Straight No Chaser

Never heard them until...

last Saturday night.

Can't stop listening to this one.

"...my breath fogged up the glass so I drew a new face and I laughed."

On to Jason Mraz.

Hope you're all having a lovely holiday season.

Straight No Chaser - I'm Yours/Somewhere Over The Rainbow

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Tired.

Decisions. Decisions.

Do I wind down from this long-winded week? I don't care for lecturing, but sometimes it's the quickest way to move through a bunch of information. Just finished day four of five on the Bill of rights. First period asked a question that allowed me to declare myself a serial killer in three states. They were much entertained. In my last class I taught the kids how to kill flies. They didn't believe that I had the foolproof technique until one of the boys was successful on his first attempt.

They were also much entertained. And why, you may ask, am I not in love with this job?


Or do I wind up for the upcoming weekend? Visit with Mom and Kathleen Saturday with (I hope) dinner out with them. Then Kath and I head to LA for a Straight No Chaser concert.

And on Sunday I head to Disneyland to lay a flower for Walt Disney's birthday. And, of course, to enjoy the Christmas holiday magic. MAYBE this time I will brave the line for the Haunted Mansion Holiday.

Sometimes life is just tough, isn't it?

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Dodger Blue and His BALL.

video

I HAVE A BALL! I HAVE A BALL! I HAVE A SQUEEKY BALL! I HAVE A BALL! I HAVE A BALL! SEE MY BALL! I HAVE A BALL!

Bleedin' Dodger Blue, the Dodgers' Designated sHitter.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

You

crack me up.

Friday, November 26, 2010

JEANS!

Like finding hidden treasure.


So, my one-year anniversary for losing weight will be next Sunday, December 5. It is Walt Disney's birthday. Each year my sister and I go to Disneyland and lay a flower at the flagpole to honor Walt's birthday. There is a giant Christmas tree right behind the flagpole at the end of Main Street. Last year we had our picture taken in front of that tree with the promise that - one year from that day - there would be less of us in front of that tree. I've had my ups and downs but am proud to announce that when I have my picture taken there this year, there will be somewhere between 37 and 50 pounds less of me in front of the tree.

The amount isn't quite clear. On the Weight Watchers' scale the total lost is around 37 pounds. However, I've been working out for months now including about an hour of resistance training with machines at each workout. I'm down five clothing sizes. Figuring about 10 pounds per clothing size I'm guessing my total fat loss is between 45 and 50 pounds.

Whatever.

I feel terrific. Have tons more energy. And I know I look better.

So I'll keep plugging along. This is my life from now on so whether it takes one or two more years to get to my "goal" weight (and even that is up for debate) it doesn't matter. This is how I eat, this is how I exercise, this is how I live. There will be times (like this Thanksgiving weekend) when I eat a whole bunch of stuff I don't usually eat but it all evens out in the end. Literally.

So what does this have to do with the ball-o-jeans picture? (Yes, I've used that image before). This morning was pretty chilly here in sunny SoCA and I went hunting a sweatshirt. I knew I had some stashed somewhere and finally tracked them down in my husband's bedroom. I was happily surprised to find a half-dozen pair of jeans (4 brand new, some still with tags) stashed in there, too. And, I can wear them now! I think they've been in there twenty years.


I was even more delighted to find my Hiawatha sweatshirt.

My mother's sister married a farmer from Hiawatha, Kansas, and about every two or three years we would drive to Hiawatha to spend two or three weeks on the farm. I loved it there! Still do, for that matter. Anyway, my cousin (only 3 weeks older than I, we've always been spiritually close) has worked for many years at the WalMart in Hiawatha, and several years ago they sponsored a contest. Employees submitted design ideas for a Hiawatha sweatshirt and the winning idea would be produced and sold as souvenir sweatshirts. My cousin won the contest with her idea, and I have one of the sweatshirts! Hiawatha is The City of Beautiful Maples, and the shirt is dark green with orange maple leaves on the front. Green is not a great color on me (and orange is worse), but wearing the shirt is like being hugged. I was really worried that I had mistakenly thrown it out or donated it in one of my pitching frenzies. I was thrilled to find it!

My last class - the reading party - of my writing class was Tuesday. As usual I made a bad route decision and ended up on Santa Monica Blvd during "rush" hour traffic. Trust me. Santa Monica Bull-eh-vard isn't nearly as hip as Sheryl Crowe makes it out to be, especially when you're late. I left my house at 3:00 and got to the party at almost 7:30. If I'd made a better decision (like the 101 to the 405 to Sunset to Beverly Hills) I would have made it there early. Instead I sat in the same place for twenty minutes at a time watching miles of intersection lights flash red and green for the holidays. I was a mess when I got to the party.

But, oh, the writing these people have done. I enjoyed the class immensely. I will probably move to the next level next fall. That will give me time to save some $$$. I'm just hoping to have as good an experience, maybe even connect with some of the same group again.

Thanksgiving was yesterday and my brother and sister-in-law hosted it again. Delicious, with great company. I had a good time. Today I've been sorting and cleaning. Usually I start decorating for Christmas this weekend, but the house is just too dirty to begin.

I've been sorting stacks of genealogy paperwork. My uncle had a genealogy DNA test done and we learned that the line the family has been claiming as our ancestral line on my mother's father's side is not. I'm having to go through and dis-attach these people from the family on that line. It's tricky because the same family is also found on a second line of my mother's and a line of my father's. This means I can't just dump the group completely. And it means I can't just throw all the paperwork out since they are family back there somewhere.

I started this project 28.5 years ago thinking I would just document all lines to the immigrant ancestor. Surely that wouldn't take more than a couple of years, right? What I've learned is that my family goes back a long way, and the further back I go the more ancestors there are. I'm planning to type up all that I've learned into some kind of publication, but I'm running out of lifespan.

I'd better get started, huh?

Monday, November 22, 2010

Black Eyed Peas I got a feeling on Oprah Chicago Flashmob 24th

Redirecting

I like it.

I've come to like the little swirly thing that says "redirecting" when I move from one place to another on the computer. That's what I feel like I'm doing with my life. Redirecting.

Mom and I went to Disneyland for ChristmasTime Saturday. We had some new experiences and relived some old ones in a new way.

Yep, we got rained on.

It had been raining the day before so we tried to prepare. And we had some help from the fates. On the way to the park, not five miles from Mom's house going up the grade over the hills into the San Fernando Valley, we were stopped about six cars back from a multiple-car accident. One CHP car was on site when we stopped and we watched one fire truck and several more CHP vehicles of different types arrive. It seems there were three or four cars involved, and one looked like it may have burned. But no ambulances, so apparently seatbelts did their job and nobody was badly hurt. (The cars had obviously spun all over the road).

We sat there for about a half-hour, maybe a bit more. We just chatted away so didn't really pay attention to the time. But if we had not had that delay, our day at Disneyland would have been much different. That half-hour behind helped us miss the worst of the rain all day. The deluge in this picture started as we shopped the Disney Showcase store. We had hoped to hear the Disneyland Band here at Town Square at noon, and I took this picture while we stood dry and warm under an awning waiting for the band. As a family of musicians, we were pleased enough that they did not arrive at the height of this downpour (rain does awful things to woodwind instruments; to all instruments, but especially anything with felt pads). This episode of hard rain only lasted about 15 minutes, so we waited hoping the band might come out later, but they did not so we moved along.

Earlier we had been disappointed that our usual breakfast spot, the Carnation Cafe, was closed (it's an outdoor restaurant) but we had a nice breakfast at the Riverbelle Terrace and look forward to doing it in nicer weather when we can eat outdoors with a great view of the River. Once we said this, however, we realized that we would miss the servers we've come to know at the Cafe, so now we'll have a dilemma.

We've been a little disappointed in Billy Hill and the Hillbillies on some previous visits, but this time they were back to their old selves and we really enjoyed our time in the Golden Horseshoe. We just lucked out all day. After the Billies we got on the train (one of the last of Mom's favorite rides that she can still enjoy because it has a wheelchair ramp and wheelchair seating). We went all the way around the park once, then to ToonTown station to see the 3:00 Princess Fantasy Faire Coronation. Sadly, the whole venue was closed up, but the young knight told us they were trying to get it going again by the 3:00 show. And, indeed, they did and we enjoyed that show.

Again.

(Aurora has always been my favorite princess and I admit that there is an 8-year-old still inside that gets a thrill whenever I see her.)

After this show we headed to Main Street to see if we could catch some piano while we waited for the Holiday Parade and Castle lighting. At first we were disappointed to see the piano missing from Coke Corner, then realized (duh) that it had been moved into the snack bar area (felt pads). It had not rained for quite a while so the tables and chairs were dry. We could not see the piano player but recognized Ragtime Michael's style right away. We decided he needs to make an album of holiday music; his arrangements of our favorite holiday songs are fabulous.

The parade was, as always, a delight (my favorite are the herald trumpets; it's a sound that moves through, not around, you) and the castle spectacular. We sat for a while enjoying the castle lights and the "snow" in the distance (you don't want to be under that stuff but it's pretty from a few yards away), then it started to sprinkle. We had already decided to leave early and eat when we got back to Mom's town, so I suggested we pack up and head out before it really started to rain. As I stood up to pack up, it REALLY started to rain, so we broke out our umbrellas and stayed where we were. It wasn't the deluge of earlier in the day, we stayed dry and warm and it let up shortly. After a quick trip to the restroom we headed out and after a fast, safe drive home had delicious lobster enchiladas at Mom's favorite Mexican restaurant back home.

It was a great way to start what is for me a week off for Thanksgiving. Yesterday I spent the entire day with Black-Eyed Peas on my headset while I disinfected my kitchen. Have you seen their flashmob for Oprah video. It's infectious. Lots of pick-ups. I'm going to think about it for this week, but am pretty sure I'm going to talk to my principal about having our students flashmob our Open House opening meeting in May.

Today I will bake in my clean kitchen for the last meeting of my writing class. I was looking forward to moving to the next level, but I just got an email from the teacher and he is shortening the classes in the next session. Because I live so far away I don't think I'll make it for more than 45 minutes or so (with a two-hour drive, each way) and, since it ends up costing me about $800 for the session, I don't think I'm willing to do that. Still, tomorrow's party will be fun. I still haven't decided on anything but monster cookies to give away. I'll probably just put together a big salad.

As I've read my friends' posts I'm thinking maybe I should find a group or class to get back into stitchery or quilting or something like that to replace the writing class. I did love getting out that one night a week.

Hope y'all have a great Thanksgiving.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Whoooosshhhh.



Such has been my year so far.

Really hard to believe that this school year is 1/4 past already. I am just now getting confident of the students' names. I'm really lucky this year. My principals did as they had promised last year. They "exploded" the schedule so that the challenging students are no longer clustered into one class at the end of the day, as they have been for me for 15 of the last 18 years. It makes a HUGE difference to leave work every day with a smile on my face and in my heart.

It's also hard to believe that my writing class is almost over. Last class is this Tuesday with a farewell party the following week. I'm hoping very hard (have cramps in my fingers for leaving them crossed so long) that certain writers from this group will go on to the next level. Not that they need it, but I will miss hearing their work every week. We are supposed to pull together some of our "best" work into what is called a "chapbook," then make copies for everyone in class. I'm concerned that this is too expensive for the unemployed, underemployed or employed students with horrendous expenses. But (and this is growth) I do not feel compelled to step in and pay for all the kids' books. They'll work it out or they won't. I can't make it my responsibility.

And, of course, the holidays are speeding their way in this direction. It will be an odd one this year with my son and his wife in Japan and my dad gone. I'm trying to figure out if I should stay at my Mom's for Christmas Eve this year so she doesn't have to awaken alone for the first time in her life, or try to pull things together for the holiday by herself. The answer will come.


The holidays are a very big deal at Disneyland, of course, and we (Mom, Sis and Nephew) have our first visit of the season this Saturday. The weather has been very summer-y here in SoCA lately so I'm hoping for a bit of a chill to blow in before Saturday. If not, though, we'll just have to work our hardest to have the most fun we can.

Such a challenge.

In family news, DS2 has resigned from the USPS. The boss at his second job has been very encouraging that said son needs to take advantage of the "gift" of living at home to take some risks toward advancement. Second boss will make up some of the hours he will miss. It will be interesting to see what he has in mind.

It has become clear that if my home is going to be livable I'm going to have to be the one to keep us out of the filth. I'm re-arranging schedules so that I can spend a few minutes here and there keeping up on things as best I can. Don't know if I can keep it company ready, but I should be able to stop worrying about the health department coming over.

Onward.




Saturday, November 06, 2010

I Need More Hours...

...in my life.

-To write.
-To stitch.
-To quilt.
-To garden.
-To scrapbook.
-To do family history.
-To go to concerts.
-To watch movies. In theaters and on dvd. Old favorites and new favorites (loved August Rush!)
-To catch up on TV shows. Running after Extras (love Ricky Gervais) and Supernatural.
-To work out.
-To clean. To do laundry. To grocery shop.
-To visit loved ones.
-To play with friends.
-To go to Disneyland. Cambria. Big Sur. Eden, Utah. Fairview, Kansas. St. Louis, Missouri. Odessa, Missouri. Winona, Minnesota. Indianapolis, Indiana. North Andover, Massachusetts. Riverside.
- To go to Fuji-shi, Shizuoka, Japan.

(Some extra bucks would be nice, too.)

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

The Music is All Around Us...

All you have to do is listen.

Thanks, Skipper. Two for two. Don't wait another fifteen years for number three, OK?

So depressed.

Could barely drive home last night from writing class. These people are pure genius. I'm a decent writer, but these folks are phenomenal. I end up intimidated and embarrassed by my puny efforts. Ended up stopping for a McDonald's cheeseburger, fries and chocolate shake. Now, I hadn't had dinner, it was 9:30 pm and I was pretty hungry. But I haven't eaten this combo in years. It was purely a comfort food stop.

Things were kind of rough last month. Nothing I want to go into here, except to say that I really appreciate my friends, family and blog visitors who come to facebook or this blog and show me the cheerier parts of my life. Class usually is a dose of pure serotonin, but between my commitment to the campaign of a friend who ran for my school board (top vote getter, wahoo) and grades due at school, I neglected to do the writing assignments last week and walked in with a pitiful piece that I didn't even want to finish. I love these guys, though. They are so kind, bless their hearts. Jack assured me I'm doing fine. Guess it's just my competitive nature raising its ugly head. I think it's time to quit whining and dig deeper. Part of my problem is that some of the deep stuff I have stuffed inside is - well - stuffed inside because I don't want it out there, especially not in this kind of venue.

Onward.

Looking forward to crop with Mom and Sis Saturday. Want to take stitchery to the library one evening each week so I can make progress. I shipped some projects to a friend this week. Once I've heard she received them I'll tell you about them. Of course, I forgot to take pictures. First accomplishments in handwork in almost two years and I forget to photo them before shipping.

I have no brain. Pretty much clouded thinking for the last few weeks. Really need a system to pull the maintenance of my life back in place so I can refocus on the fun.

Holidays are coming. Not even excited.

Hope you are.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

It gets better...

Favorite group. Favorite song.

Important message.

Grab the tissue box and join me. Weep for joy and love and hope.

Embrace diversity.

It Gets Better: Gay Men's Chorus of Los Angeles "True Colors"

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Life's an Adventure.

Hard to believe...

that the school year reaches the 25% mark this Thursday. I'm still learning students' names, for pete's sake.

It's been crazy.


First, some bragging. I'm still hitting the gym regularly (most weeks 3-4 times a week for 1.5 hours a pop) and doing WW. Loss is up to 37 pounds on the scale, but I know the fat loss is greater and compensated by muscle development. Under there. Somewhere.

They say when you weight train you get "definition." True. So true. I have muscles. Am particularly proud of my biceps. Nice definition between my new biceps and the packets of fat that still hang below my arms. Sheesh.

It's OK, though. I see evidence that things are shrinking up. Long sleeves that were snug two or three months ago are hanging off me now. My hope is that by going slowly (and 37 pounds in 10 months is plenty slow) the skin will continue to shrink.

My fondest goal right now. Arms.

Artist's Way has been a life-changing experience. Transformational, as I had been advised. With school starting I've run into lots of old friends who have not seen me for several months. "You're different," is what they usually say. One old friend said I look "radiant," and another that I "sparkle".

Sparkle covers it. I feel like a little 4th of July sparkler has been lit inside. Sometimes it sputters, but most of the time it energizes me.

Very cool.

I got my webcam set up on Skype so that I can visit with my son and his wife in Japan. Not as often as I'd hoped (it's hard enough to coordinate our schedules when we're in the same state; halfway around the world is really tough) but it's worth the effort to see them so happy and doing so well.

My principal has been allowing me to attend some inspiring staff development activities. An ESL session with Kate Kinsella and an RtI with Randy Sprick. Both very inspirational but verdict's out whether this burned-out teacher can be re-ignited.

I've had some terrific adventures lately. Took my brother and sister-in-law into Hollywood to see "Opening Night: The Improvised Musical" at a comedy theater called iO West. Best laugh I've had in a long time and well worth the effort. And very easy. Theater is on Hollywood Blvd and Cosmo. Turn onto Cosmo and turn your car over to the valet. Have your ticket validated by security at the door (everybody is carded, which is strangely flattering when you're pushing 60) and it's only $5.00. $10 for Opening Night also gets you the rest of the evening. I don't drink, but rumor has it that the bar is a good one if you do. We'll be doing that again.

THE most exciting thing I'm doing, though, is an 8-week writing workshop with teacher Jack Grapes in Los Angeles. My son recommended him and I'm learning about great teaching as well as how to be a better writer. It's been an unbelievable experience. I hit the Pacific Coast Highway immediately after my staff meeting on Tuesday and drive down the coast to west LA. Takes about 1.5 hours (love the drive, although it will start getting dark soon so it won't quite be the same). Then I get to hear 2.5 hours of the most fantastic student writing ever. It's a thrill and a privilege to be in class with these writers. I don't even care than I'm barely keeping up on the tail end.

I've LOVED the weather the last couple of weeks. Overcast and rainy. Better than Santa Ana winds any time. Just wishing I could tuck inside for a couple of months and sew, stitch and clean my filthy house. Between my writing assignments, working out at the gym and family and friends I seem to run out of steam and time, sometimes at the same time.

That will be about it for now. Looking ahead to yard work, hardscape improvements, house cleaning. Oh, the photos? Nothing special. I just think blogs without pictures can be pretty boring so I added one with one of the Monarchs I released this year. I think over a dozen this year. The milkweed is germinating everywhere and we are just letting it grow. The more milkweed, the more cats we can support. Not a bad-looking plant, either.

Oh, and Christmas is coming to Disneyland. Got there a couple of times for HalloweenTime.

One of my favorite times to be there. OH! And I had a special adventure! I was chosen to be the guest director of the Disneyland Band for their Town Square performance. I got to sit in a director's chair and announce songs in between trading jokes with Toby the bass trombone player. It gave me a chance to tell him that he was my dad's favorite musician in the park, something I've been wanting to do since Dad died last June. For my efforts I got the rare and much coveted Disneyland Band button for my collection.

Sometimes life is just too sweet, isn't it?

Monday, September 20, 2010

I Dare you...

...to stay crabby after watching this video.

Dancing at the Movies - Music Video

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Believe it or not...

There has been stitching.

Just the teeniest bit, but it's a start.

I'm not happy with the amount of time I've been spending on facebook playing games. Following news feeds is fine. Chatting with friends is the best. But, for the most part, playing the games feels like a waste when there is SO MUCH out there with which to fill a life. So I went digging through my stash and decided this piece fits my current mood quite nicely.


I finished about half the word "Scatter." Not much, but it's a start!


Saturday, August 21, 2010

The End of Summer

It's always a difficult time.

It's been a momentous summer, to say the least. It started with great sadness as my dad died after a quick, horrible experience with pancreatic cancer that spread throughout his body and took, for the last three weeks of his life, his ability to think clearly. He hated that. He died on June 19 and I stayed with my mom for a week after.

Three days after I returned home my older son and his wife moved in for three weeks as they prepared to relocate to Japan. It was a happy, exciting time. It was a sad, stressful time. On the one hand, I can't believe my baby is an ocean away. On the other hand, by all accounts they are settling in nicely and my son seems happier than he has in years. I can't be upset with that!

Shortly after my dad died I took a trip to my favorite Happy Place, Disneyland. A good friend works there and in the course of the afternoon suggested I try Julia Cameron's The Artist's Way. To oversimplify, TAW is a personal development system based on daily writing exercises. Also part of the program is a weekly "artist's date." I have embraced the program completely and have found it a source of comfort as well as inspiration. I will always be grateful that this door was opened for me.

As the summer has wound to a close, I have gone overboard with the Artist's Date concept. The AD is supposed to be a two-hour outing. Something to spoil myself. I am well aware that I have taken the idea too far but make no apologies. I had the best three-day vacation and spoiled myself rotten.


On the first day, I started with a trip to the Gene Autry Western Heritage Center in Griffith Park, Los Angeles. I had never been there and can't believe that I have missed it for nearly twenty years. The temporary exhibit that I enjoyed was called "Home Lands - How Women Made the West" tracing women's contributions to the buiding of America's culture of the West starting with Native Americans up through the immigrant experience and into today. There was even an exhibit about the effect on our culture of women + the automobile! Just wonderful.

Next I went into the permanent exhibits which started with a marvelous collection of paintings of the Romantic Era. I was proud that I was able to recognize my Bierstadts without even reading the identification cards!


I loved the way this museum segued from the Romantic era paintings into the West-based entertainments such as Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show, and from that into the cowboy movies and television shows. They even had the Lone Ranger's costume. A blast from my past!

After the Autry I made my way into Los Angeles to visit Rosedale Cemetery. It is one of the oldest cemeteries in Los Angeles and was the first integrated cemetery. It was an interesting experience to see all the different styles of architecture used on headstones and crypts. I did not stay there long however.

Next I made my way into West Hollywood where I had tickets for a play. First, though, I had dinner at a restaurant called Hugo's. The atmosphere was acceptable and it was convenient to the theater. The sauce on the carbonara was to die for.

The play that I went to see was called Circle of Will. It was set in the time between William Shakespeare's last play and his death six years later. Very cleverly plotted and brilliantly acted, the play was thought-provoking as well as hilarious. I had such a good time! Circle of Will was written by Jack Grapes and Bill Cakmis. Events unfolded to get me to it when my son, who had taken a summer writing workshop in 1996 with Grapes, encouraged me to sign up for a class with him as well. When I contacted Grapes about the class, he encouraged me to see the play. I'm so glad I did, and am really looking forward to the workshop starting in October.

The next day my brother, sister-in-law and I returned to the city for a Lewis Black performance in Disney Hall. I have long wanted to see something in this facility and am a huge fan of Lewis Black.

I wasn't disappointed with Black's performance - he was exactly as he is on every HBO special or Comedy Central appearance - but this was just not the venue. Disney Hall is a place where I'd love to hear a concert of the L.A. Phil or even to hear their fabulous organ. But a one-man stand-up? I just would have preferred something more intimate.

Which I got on Sunday of that weekend. Hang with me through that fabulous day.

I started with my first visit to the Getty Art Museum in Los Angeles. Oh, what a breathtaking place! I truly did not want to go inside to see any of the art. The architecture and landscaping of this place is phenomenal.



I did eventually make my way into the museum to see the domestic arts displays (the palace of Louis XIV, et al.) and an exhibit of late middle ages sketches. Also saw the temporary exhibit of the work of Jean-Leon Gerome.

I didn't really want to leave, but had more adventures ahead of me. After the Getty I traveled down Wilshire Blvd. and made my way into Hollywood. I had tickets to see Toy Story III at the El Capitan Theater on Hollywood Blvd.

Originally opened in the 1920s, the El Capitan has been fully restored and is currently owned by the Disney Corporation. After a delicious chocolate shake at the adjoining soda fountain (how long has it been since I had a REAL chocolate milkshake?) I entered the theater in time to enjoy the pre-movie performance of their award-winning organist. Nothing better than well-played arrangements of Disney songs.

The movie was charming - probably the best of the three Toy Story movies - but I think this will be my last visit to this theater. The experience is fairly expensive and (although this is not the theater's fault) ruined by rude patrons. If I'm going to have a movie ruined by thoughtless patrons who insist on talking through the movie on their cell phones, I'd just as soon do it in a theater where I've only paid $6 for the matinee instead of $30.

The highlight of this day was the two comedy shows I saw at the Second City Comedy Training Center just up the street from the El Capitan. This was the intimate comedy experience I had missed with Lewis Black. Talented young people with such energy and passion for what they were doing! VERY funny, and an inexpensive way to spend an evening. I had a delightful dinner with the same friend who guided me to Artist's Way at a nearby Italian restaurant, then drove Sunset to the Pacific Coast Highway and home.

Since that rather momentous growth experience, I've been pretty much just puttering around trying to wrap my head around returning to work. I have, sorry to say, not been struck with any great ideas to "fix" my teaching issues. But, all things considered, I'm returning in a much happier state of mind than I left school in June and am hopeful that I can carry that happy little spark into the classroom with me.

Coming up. Tomorrow is a long-delayed scrapbooking date with my Mom and sister. Monday I take my Mom to Disneyland to enjoy a day with the oh-so-talented Ragtime Michael.

And on Tuesday I will spend the day with my terrific sister-in-law. We were hoping to see the Autry women exhibit again but it ends tomorrow. We will, however, travel some great distance to a cottage garden nursery that we sincerely HOPE is still in business. At the least, we will enjoy each others' company for the duration of the trip.

I have to report back to work Monday, August 30 with students arriving Wednesday, September 1.

And the cycle begins again.

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Everything is Looking Up

Have a busy, fun end of summer ahead.

My oldest and his wife are getting settled in Fuji-shi. They haven't actually SEEN the mountain yet, but their camera is at the ready for that momentous day. In the meantime they are getting settled in. They have a two-bedroom apartment. At 6'4", my son has to duck to go through interior doors. The bedding and refrigerator had to be replaced and a great deal of leftover belongings from the previous tenant dealt with, but it sounds like things are coming together. It seems that the staff at his new school appreciates his willingness to pitch in. He says he is feeling better than he has in a "long, long time."

I've been fairly lazy. I've done a little weeding (not much) and have harvested lots of sweet pea, scabiosa and Apricot Chiffon poppy seed.

The joke around here is that Monday must be Disneyland day. Ha. Ha. I went two Mondays in a row. On the first day I treated myself to all of what they call "the dark rides," the rides that we used to enjoy when I was really little. I enjoyed noticing a lot of details that I didn't remember from before, like Mr. Toad's hands.
Of course, this area went through a major renovation in 1983 and so a lot of what I'm seeing is different than it was when I was a kid. Like this elephant stack on the Dumbo ride,

and I was noticing for the first time the wavy glass on the Pinocchio ride (although, to be honest, it might have been like that when I was little, too, and I wouldn't have paid attention).
I think the last time I rode the carousel was when my youngest was not quite two (which would make it 27 years ago). I was debating whether to get in line or not when the "calliope" started to play "Once Upon a Dream." Since the carousel has a Sleeping Beauty theme, it seemed like some kind of direction so I got on and enjoyed the ride.
And, no, I still need to lose more weight before I will challenge my knees to get me up on a carousel horse. The bench worked just fine.

If I can find it again, I'll post a video of what I call the water dance at Pixie Hollow. I heard some kids call it a water jump this week, but since the jumping is choreographed to music, I'll stick with my dance label. Just a fun fountain that I find relaxing and happy.

I know most people think of the rides when they think of Disneyland, but if I am lucky enough to hit a day when Ragtime Michael is at the keyboard, I settle in for an afternoon and evening of some amazing piano. The man has the gift, no doubt about it.

We've had some wildlife excitement around here. About 15 years ago, my mother's neighbor gave me two clutches of baby desert tortoises that she had hatched. A little over a week ago I was in the back yard collecting seed and looked down into the tortoise pen to find...
I was so EXCITED! My son is into reptiles and so we think we have them safely incubating under lights in the kitchen. Apparently you can't candle tortoise eggs like you can chicken eggs so we don't really know if they're viable or not, but we're hopeful. Every baby animal is cute, but tiny baby tortoises are really cute since they are just tiny replicas - right down to the claws - of the adults.

Now that the Japan-bound are there, we are back into the process of re-arranging the spare room into a combination music room and sewing room. Where did all this stuff come from!?! It's taking forever. Considering that I've been flinging stuff for five years now, it's proving to be very difficult getting rid of what has now survived two or three rounds of making stuff go away (the Rescue Mission loves me).

I have a lot of great "field trips" in the works in the next couple of weeks, but rather than take time to write about what I WANT to do, I'll wait until I can write about what I did.

Hope summer is going well for you, friends. Most of you will be jealous to hear that my part of SoCA is experiencing an amazingly cool summer; I've been puttering around comfortably all day today in a sweatshirt. Do not envy me, as we are all sure this means 100+ temps at Christmas.

Eeeeuuuwwwww.