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, September 23, 2011

Ticket to Ride...

...to Japan.

It's official.

I'm headed to Tokyo.

Got my passport.  Got my ticket.  I'll be there for a little over a week.

My purpose for this trip is to see my son and daughter-in-law and (honestly) to meet my grandson, who will be a delightfully smooshy three-months old when I'm there.  They are my focus.

But I'm thrilled that - if they had to relocate somewhere - they chose a land for which I have a long-held admiration.

My appreciation for all things Japan started when my uncle - career Air Force - brought me two dolls from his time in Japan.  One was similar to this one,

and at the age of eight I was fascinated by its face, hair, clothes and especially the blue hairline.  I don't know what happened to it.  I think it broke at some time, but as an adult I found another one at a doll club sale.  It lives in my doll cabinet with the other Uncle brought to me - a Geisha style with a lamp.

Later in life I studied O Chado - which we call the Japanese Tea Ceremony - for three years.  I wasn't good at it.  Too fat to be graceful, and there were many cultural aspects to the practice that had not been part of my Western lifestyle as they had been part of the other students' (from flower etiquette to food preparation).  But I loved my teacher and I loved the meditative quality of the study.  I had to stop taking lessons when I went to work full time and now, twenty years later, frequently refer to the habits of focus when faced with a task.  ("Zen it out" is a phrase I concocted to remind myself to stay in the moment and work through something that seems endless.  Cut wood, carry water.)


I leave November 17.

It seems - at the same time - like an endless wait and a frighteningly short time to prepare for the trip.  I'm hoping to take Christmas gifts, belongings they left behind, baby presents.  In addition, I want to make gifts for my DIL's family.

Very glad I have this weekend to start the process.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch...

My mother is doing great!  She had some worrisome weeks fighting dehydration following her knee replacement surgery, but has recovered wonderfully and gets stronger every day.  She's exceeded the standard for range-of-motion and has been released from physical therapy.  We went out to dinner tonight and she is clearly walking better (standing taller) than she has in several years.  We are both looking forward to her return to Disneyland later next month.

School is going well.  So far I have few behavior problems.  We are on SEVERE budget restrictions, including limited copies, which has forced me to be creative in lesson planning.  I think - all whining aside - this will turn out to be a better teaching year for me than I've had for a long time.  Less paper, more hands-on.

My son and I are in the process of purging belongings.  Ebay, Craig's List, garage sales, flea markets and thrift stores are among the targets for 39 years worth of collectibles, Civil War costumes and just plain junk.  It doesn't look good for the sales part of the project, but I tell myself that if I can clear enough to move out of our storage unit (at $130 a month), that will be my financial gain.

$1500 a year is a trip to Tokyo to see my family.

No contest.

Friday, September 16, 2011

LeAnn Rimes & GMCLA - The Rose

Perpetuum Jazzile - Africa


Always welcome.

Some weeks more than others.

Not that this was a bad week.  It was, actually, quite good.  But I'm tired and looking forward to the next three days.

Tomorrow is crop with my Mom and sister.  Mom is still recovering from her surgery.  I was telling a friend that she was having some issues with her recovery this time and my friends said she knew someone who had issues following knee replacement surgery, too. She proceeded to describe my mom's stuff, so apparently what Mom's going through is not unusual.

I should be working on scrapbooks tomorrow.  Hoping to have some energy to pack up the car.  Right now it's not looking so good.

Highlight of my teaching week had nothing to do, really, with history.  I bought RealPlayer Plus and have been having fun burning videos onto dvds, then sharing them with my students.  One of them was "Africa" by Perpetuum Jazzile.  I'll post it here.  Awesome Slovanian choir.  I was delighted by the kids' response.  I have one student who, I was warned, would be hard to reach ("look out for that one").  A cappella was a language he spoke.  It will help us bridge.  Can't wait to introduce him to Straight No Chaser and, later this year, the Gay Men's Chorus of Los Angeles (not always a cappella but always awesome.)

Speaking of which, I just ordered the new season series.  Going to be fabulous.  The final show in June will be a country show with Leann Rimes.  I'll re-post her Christmas performance with them.  I wasn't there that day so am hopeful to catch her show in this series.

Sunday I've promised my son I will spend the day purging my holiday decorations.  He will sell what he can at a garage sale or on Craig's List.  My goal is to empty my storage unit (more purging).  The yearly rent on that is a trip to Japan; amazing how your priorities change when there's a grandson in the picture.

I'm very close to buying the ticket for my Thanksgiving visit to Tokyo.  Just waiting for a confirmation that the date and times of the ticket I'm looking at will actually work for my son.  He has advised that I let him meet me at Narita at this, my first visit, rather than try to navigate the Japanese train system to his home on my first trip to a foreign country.  I will listen to this wise man.  I think customs will be challenge enough.

This will be the first time in over 30 years that I will fit into my seat on the airplane.  I'm going to be positive.  I will be sitting in a row with others who fit into their seats (not between two 300-pound men).  They will not be too chatty, although a little conversation (music? Disneyland? crafts?) will be enjoyable.  Perhaps a writer?  That could make this quite the adventure.

No bigots.


Sunday, September 11, 2011

Nag, nag, nag...

And now, by popular demand.

One of my regular readers who shall remain nameless (but who I love very much) reminded me that I haven't posted the details of my day at Disneyland yesterday.

Twist my arm.

I was up at 5:00 AM and was ready to leave at 5:45 for the 6th Annual Visions Fantastic Scavenger Hunt.  I played the first two years, volunteered the third and have been out of it for two.  It was wonderful to see old friends, people I've developed a great respect for over the last six years. Chris Lang, VF founder, has developed the most elegant Disney fansite on the net.  He and his staff of volunteers are dedicated, hard-working and generous, determined to share a love for all things Disney in the most positive of ways.

The Scavenger Hunt is no exception.

I picked up my team mate around 6:00 AM and we made it to the park without a hitch, arriving at the picnic area under thunder and lightening.  Within just a few minutes we were being pelted with fat raindrops, and those present shared just a moment of concern that - while we wouldn't get rained out - we might have an uncomfortable day.  But, hey!  It's Disneyland, right?  The rain lasted only a few seconds, stopped, then resumed for a couple of minutes and that was it for the rest of the day.

We were given our team ID tags, a very handsome pin with our name on it and had our team picture taken by VF photographer, Brett "DaddyB" Garrett.  After some final instructions and distribution of our hunt materials, we headed for the Park.

This year the hunt was divided into three parts, but the basic principle of all three was the same.  We were given a selection of cropped photos.  For example, the organizers might have taken a picture of this:

and then crop it down so that just his bow tie and part of his vest showed.  Which is silly, because they didn't use live anything, but you get the idea.  We took a few minutes to sit at the Candy Palace and go over the pictures, making notes on where we might find the items, then hit the pavement.  There were things to find in every land from Toon Town to Tomorrowland, Critter Country to Main Street.  In the final stage competitors had to go to the Disney hotels.

We were too beat to even try that one, so are pretty sure we came in last place.  But we had fun, found more than we thought we would.

The best part of this event is learning about the park.  It's been under some renovation and the shops have been transformed into a style more appropriate for the turn-of-the-century Marceline, MO, of Disney's childhood.  Many of the new decorative elements were included in the hunt, and it was fun to track them down.  I don't know, for example, that I would ever have noticed the "off to college" theming in the men's department of the Clothiers unless I had been trying to find the picture of the Yale pennant that was in the hunt.

After the first phase (we had about three hours) we ate lunch at the Mexican Restaurant in Frontierland.  Restored, we picked up the materials for stage 2 and worked that for a while, then turned in that paper.  By then we two over 50s (well, as you know, I'm 60 this year) were dragging.  We found a bench to enjoy the parade, then picked up the stage 3 materials even though I knew I couldn't manage the hike up to the hotels and back.  We moseyed - somewhere - and decided to just head to the meet-up place for the final turn-in.  As we passed Town Square we realized they had just started the lowering of the flag in the flag retreat.  We stopped and stood respectfully, sang the National Anthem, and made it back in time to turn in our unmarked card.

After the awards we headed to Space Mountain for a nice tour of the universe, then picked up salads at the Pizza Port.  We took our salads to the Refreshment Corner hoping for some pleasant piano with our dinner but, unfortunately, a certain entertainer is still storing his head in a rather dark and uncomfortable place and we had to miss out on that part of the evening's program.  That has been a favorite way for me to end my day since years before that casting change and it irritates me to miss out on it.  I keep hoping reality will reign once more but it doesn't look like that's going to happen.  Such a shame.  Must be a hard way to live.

It didn't damper my fun for long, however.  After finishing our salads we made a restroom stop and wandered along the Pixie Hollow path in time to catch part of a new mini-water show that I didn't know about.  Delightful.  We still had about 20 minutes before our Star Tours fastpasses would be valid so we decided to ride the Monorail.  I hadn't been on that in years and it was a fun ride.   Then it was time to use our Star Tours passes to take a different tour than I'd taken before.

We decided to try to beat the fireworks to the tram, so we headed to the lockers to pick up our stuff before heading out.  After a quick stop at the Emporium for a small purchase, we headed out and did, indeed, beat the crowd to the tram.  Turned out we had a GREAT view of the fireworks from the parking lot.

The trip home was uneventful (although there was an accident on the southbound 5 that made us very glad we were northbound) and I was home before midnight.  I was overtired, overstimulated and my legs were screaming that even though I've lost over 60 pounds I'm still carrying too much weight to abuse them like that.  I took a nice hot shower (that helped), a couple of ibuprofen and read Justin Cronin's The Passage until I was sleepy enough to turn out the light.

All in all, a thoroughly delightful day.

And I get to go back in a little over a week.

No, I'll never get tired of it.

Thursday, September 08, 2011


...is my Mom.

Needed no assistance getting up or down her stairs, nor with anything that happened in between.  Her therapy session today - says she - went well.  She sounds strong and confident.


Tuesday, September 06, 2011

School's In.

A little tough...

...to get back in the swing of things.

Guess I was really spoiled.  I did so much, had so much fun, did so many little chores that I felt like the break went on forever and I'm completely rested and ready to face reality again.

Well, as ready as anyone can be to face reality.
The brugs are amazing.  This is "Peach?"  This is taken from my bedroom window.  Nice to wake up to, isn't she?  Now, if I could just figure out how to camo those sprinklers...
So, what's the news?

DS1 and his family are doing well.  I'm planning on a visit in November, Thanksgiving break, to meet my grandson and - oh yeah - hug his parents, too.  I've never been out of the country and it is a real thrill to have a passport!  The world really is opened up. And for Debi the historian, this thing is a thing of beauty.  When my sons got theirs, the pages were plain, but this one has historic landscapes from all around the country.  And each page has a quote.  My favorite is a two-page spread of bison grazing against a rocky mountain background with a bald eagle superimposed and a quote by Dr. Martin Luther King:  We have a great dream.  It started way back in 1776, and God grant that America will be true to her dream.

I did a lot of reading this summer, mostly positive psychology and how-to-write books.  So how I got Justin Cronin's The Passage in my hands I don't quite understand.  But what an amazing writer.  "...pacing the halls of her mind."  Sigh.  I'm finding that it reminds me of Michael Crichton or Dan Brown at their best.

I didn't quite get my Christmas jacket finished, although I'm confident I will finish it before the holidays.  I ran into some supply snags (why isn't it easier to find deep red and hunter green ultrasuede for fringe?), which brought me too close to my end-of-summer deadline for the project to remain fun.  So, I put it away when I left for my mom's.

My mom had a rough couple of weeks after her knee-replacement surgery, but is not getting impatient with her recovery.   (They warned her it would be 3-6 months to a full recovery; she's getting irritated that it's taking so long at 3 weeks tomorrow.)  She has her first in-office physical therapy session on Thursday and is determined that she will take a real shower and wash her hair in her shower UPSTAIRS.  She's scaring the crap out of me.  I'm going to drive to her house and sit and read my great book while she does the deed.  Just terrified that something MIGHT happen and she would be stuck for hours without someone to call for help.

While I was staying with her after surgery I bought the fabric for this new chart:

Josephine Wall, Spirit of FlightHeaven and Earth Designs.

If you've been visiting here for a while, you might remember that I found this art on a journal early in the summer.  I felt then - and still do - that the color and energy of this piece reflected the New Debi that is in process.  I don't know why it never occurred to me to look for a cross-stitch chart of it, but it wasn't until someone followed a search for it here (and found the journal, I guess) that I went hunting, too.  It's produced by Heaven and Earth designs.  The company has a great reputation for rendering art into charts so I'm hopeful for a true rendition.  My only problem is that my eyes are so challenged now that even with my wonderful magnifier, there is no way I can follow the instructions to work this over ONE ON 25 LINEN.  Uh uh.  So I bought a large piece of 18 Aida.  I know it won't be perfect, but at least on that (and it's huge, as you can imagine) it stands half a chance of completion in my lifetime.

Journal writing and Morning Pages were about the only writing I did this summer.  Did a little character development for my book, but managed to procrastinate the project nicely.

And now it's time to head to my bedtime routine so that I have some energy for teaching.  Saturday is a Disneyland trip.  A colleague and I are entered in the Visions Fantastic Scavenger Hunt.  I've done the hunt a couple of times and worked it once.  Excited to see my Viffer friends and see what they have in store.  You'd think after 56 years of visiting Disneyland I would know it pretty well, but these hunts always teach me more about looking carefully and discovering treasures.