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 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.


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?

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