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.