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

Monday, August 29, 2011

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Time to Regroup...

...to be a working girl again.

I will honor my son's request that we help protect his son's security by keeping our conversations about him within the family.  Instead, I celebrate his birth by sharing one of my favorite entries to the Worth1000.com photography contests. 

My mom is doing well.  She had a scare with dehydration but was doing much better when I left yesterday thanks to IV fluids at Kaiser.

I was happy to return to Camarillo, which seemed 20 degrees cooler than my mom's town, and even though we are much closer to the beach it seemed much less humid here.  I got the car unpacked and spent the afternoon catching up on email and pulling together some of the bits and pieces of writing and research I'd worked on at Mom's.

I'll do some writing now, then go to Costco for some prints I ordered last night.  From there I'll go work in my classroom, then home to put together lesson plans for the first week or two.  I had exciting news when I was able to get into my school email.  The principal was able to get me a projector and Elmo.  I will have to make an adjustment from my overhead projector (which was so loud I had to turn it off to hear student comments and which had a bulb that burned out in the middle of lessons about every two months).  Of course, before I adjust anything, I will have to figure out how to get the new stuff hooked up.

My family took GREAT care of my gardens while I was at my mom's.  The summer heat finally arrived, of course, while I was gone and I worried that the schedule I left wouldn't be enough watering to keep everything alive.  But, they adjusted beautifully and everything is looking wonderful.  I even came home to a gardenia full of blooms.  Four of them float next to me, now, and smell divine.


It was a wonderful summer, and now I look forward to dragging these good feelings into the next school year with me.


Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Here.

On the planet.

8 lbs. 2 oz.
My grandson.

Gorgeous.  If his parents give permission, I'll post his picture.

They're a little busy now.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Body Functions.

Amazing.

Mom has been home for two-and-a-half days.  She can navigate from the family room to the bathroom quite competently with her walker.  She is doing light chair exercises.  The Home Health Physical Therapist visited yesterday and complimented her range of motion. Her pain is controllable with minimum allowable dosage of painkiller and she is sleeping well.  Everything is looking good.

I'm grateful.

Meanwhile, across the Pacific, DS1 and DIL are working to bring my first grandchild (a boy) into our world.

If there are words to describe what it's like to wait for news of the baby's birth, I can't find them yet.

While those bodies are working away, mine has been slacking. The last couple of weeks have been the weight-loss nightmare of an off-program  summer.  I alternated from celebration eating to stress eating and back all break.  Gym work-outs were rejected in favor of garden chores (which were at least minimally active) to computer stuff (which was  not).  But at least home is relatively food safe for me.  HERE Mom is stocked with my favorites, and after eating one dinner in the hospital cafeteria I compounded the nightmare by stopping at the grocery store on the way  home the next night for a basketfull of comfort food.  Some I've given away, some I've thrown away, but too much I've eaten.  And virtually no exercise.

I fear the scale.

Fortunately, school starts next week and I will have the comfort of the routine.  Am confident I can get my physical well-being back on track.

For now, I'm focused on sending energy to my loved ones.  Too bad those calories don't count for me, too, huh?

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Mom's Surgery

She's doing well.

My mom had knee-replacement surgery yesterday at the Kaiser facility in Woodland Hills.  She's tired but doing well.  She got through her fairly rigorous physical therapy, including a morning walk to the end of the nurse's station and back, and another in the afternoon around the station.

We had hoped she could come home tomorrow (Friday) but they want to keep her at least until Saturday.

When she sleeps, I hang out in the very comfortable family room in the fourth floor post-surgery recovery area. The nursing staff is taking wonderful care of her.

Once she's released I'll bring her back to her house, where I will stay with her for the next week.

She's looking forward to riding Pirates of the Caribbean at Disneyland again.

Things are looking good.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Time to Reflect...

on the summer.

My summer break is drawing to a close.  I started having back-to-school nightmares about three weeks ago, which is kind of early but is probably indicative of the great summer I've had.  I'd love this break to continue for - oh - about thirty years, but the summer was so nice that I'm not dreading the return.

Early last week I got my principal's "Welcome Back" letter. Friday I turned in my documentation of my credential renewal and my TB test card.  It's feeling like a go.

There was good news in the letter.  Last year our two new teachers (both fabulous ) were pinked.  One is getting married; one just had a new baby.  At the end of last year they had both been warned they probably were not coming back, but as of now they've both been rehired.  Whew!

My schedule is essentially the same.  I'll have my preparation period period 4 instead of period 3 (where it's been for several years) but otherwise I'll be teaching what I'm best prepared to teach, so that's a relief.

So, as I say a fond farewell to summer 2011, here's my fond farewell to summer 2011.

The first week of break I worked in the Fairy Garden.



I also started cleaning out the pantry in the garage, learned that two shelves had to be discarded due to rain damage (don't ask) and gave up the project.  When something is so frustrating from day one, it's time to put it off until sometime in the future.  WAY in the future.

June 18 marked the beginning of Birthweek 60.


My family gave me the best birthday party ever.  They ASKED what I WANTED (what a concept) and made sure I had it.  Everything was perfect and I felt very spoiled.

After a Father's Day break the next day, I was treated to a delicious Weight Watcher's dinner prepared by Amber.  Originally we had planned to spend the day watching chick flicks, but the day ended up being pretty busy and we only got one in (Disney's Enchanted).

The fun continued on Tuesday.  I captured Amber again and we headed into the big city.   We started by meeting my good friend Julie at the Autry Museum to check out their exhibit, "Skydreamers."  

Amber and Debi enjoying the Autry western heritage museum, Griffith Park, Los Angeles.


Julie (a pilot) and Debi really enjoyed the "Skydreamers" exhibit.

After enjoying the museum, Amber and I headed into Hollywood where we watched Super 8 at the ArcLight.

The lobby was impressive, but we didn't like the movie that much and - for all the ArcLight glitz - I have to say that our little Roxy is much more comfortable.  After the movie Amber and I made our way down the street for dinner at Miceli's, an old Italian restaurant with OK food and dynamite atmosphere.

We sat in the right corner under the window.  It was dark, so very cozy.

Piano player that night was named Brian (or Bryan?) and was hilarious.  I love when musicians make jokes with their music.

The next day was REALLY my birthday.  As always, the first thing I do in the morning is boot up the computer and head over to facebook to see how my peeps are doing.  When I got there, I had this birthday surprise.

video



I cried.

My son and I had enjoyed men's choirs since Paul Simon introduced us to Ladysmith Black Mombazo in his Graceland album.  I had attended a Los Angeles performance of Straight No Chaser in December, and after telling Garrett about it, he had done some searching on the internet and found The Whiffenpoofs from Yale as finalists on the show, Sing Off.  I searched for a live performance, and we enjoyed this group of 14 Yale seniors on tour (venue was in Santa Barbara).  Garrett corresponded with the group after the concert, and they generously and graciously granted his wish to give me this special HAPPY BIRTHDAY.

Once I got myself together, I got ready for my next big celebratory event.  I had decided weeks before that I would have a formal portrait taken on this big day.  I had a blast with the JC Penney's photographer and managed to get some decent pictures of myself to give to my family.


That evening my family went to Brendan's, a new Irish pub-style restaurant in town.  It's my favorite place to eat.  Great food and great atmosphere.

Son Garrett, Amber, Debi and husband Larry.  I got my entree free on my birthday, but would have enjoyed their Irish version of onion soup just as much.


The next day my son and I had a date in Seal Beach.  Tom Kubis leads one of my favorite big bands and they play the fourth Thursday of each month at the famous Don the Beachcomber's in Seal Beach (Huntington Beach).  After a difficult trip down (took three hours instead of the usual 1.5) we got there just as the performance was starting.  The food was excellent and the music terrific.  This youtube video was taken last year, but they did "Village Dance" when we were there.  It was my favorite piece.


That was Thursday night.  The next night was our scheduled baby shower for my first grandson.  We had shipped a couple of boxes of goodies to my son and his wife in Japan, then arranged to "meet" them on Skype for the unwrapping.  It was the next best thing to being there.


On Saturday I had planned to end BIRTHWEEK 60 with a solo trip to Disneyland.  And solo is just what I did.  What a great day!  Highlights included:


Being the "Director" (meaning announcer) for the Disneyland Band Disney movies book.  This is the second time I've had this honor.  It's the only way to get the coveted Disneyland Band button, but the best part is sitting next to the hilarious bass trombone player, Toby, for the show.  Artie, the conductor, noticed I was wearing a birthday button, so the Disneyland Band serenaded me with "Happy Birthday" at the end of the set.  They really know how to lay on the magic!

 Birthday photo with Mickey.
 

The new parade, "Soundsational."  It really is!  The Mary Poppins chimney sweeps are my favorites.  Great  choreography executed with high energy, enthusiasm and charm.  (One of them popped over to say, "Happy birthday, Debi."  Smiles.




And the super amazing All American College Band.  I think I saw this group a half-dozen times this summer and NEVER got tired of them.  I've been enjoying each year's group for about five years now, but this year's was extra special.

That was supposed to be the end of BIRTHWEEK 60, but hey, when you're having fun, why stop the celebration, right?

The next day my terrific sister-in-law came to Camarillo and we went together to see the hideous movie, Bad Teacher.  Cameron, really?  What were you thinking?  We were so disappointed in that movie with no redeeming value, but made up for it by going out to The Sportsman, a small restaurant/bar, to see Swing Shift, a local big band.

The amazing Don Tanner, 92, still swinging. 
I can't say it enough - learn what is available live in your community.  This band was every bit as good as Kubis.  My son is a fourth-generation drummer (and a damn good one, too) and he was blown away by Swing Shift's drummer, Don Tanner.  (To read a feature story from our local paper, go here.) Add in a wonderful singer and the fun of a handful of swing-dancing couples and it made for a delightful evening.

I had hoped to include my good friend, Suzi, during my birthweek, but she still had a week of work so I sacrificed myself by extending my celebration yet again.  Suzi and I started our day by going to the Monastery of the Angels in Hollywood for a loaf (or two) of their famous pumpkin bread (yum), and then to South LA for some See's chocolate fresh from the factory.  After a pleasant drive down the 405 (believe it or not; must have been the company) we had a delicious (and healthy) lunch at Andrew Weil's True Food Kitchen in Newport Beach.  (Don't know that it made up for the pumpkin bread or See's though.)



After lunch we spent a lovely hour or more at Roger's Gardens, a premier garden supply center (and more) in Corona del Mar.  We had a leisurely drive home along PCH, hoping to find a fabric/quilt store that Suzi knew of.  We found it, but it was closed for the day.  It happened to be right next to a Claim Jumper restaurant, and I was suddenly craving a piece of their chocolate cream pie.  Once seated I learned they no longer serve the pie, so I made do with spinach and artichoke dip with a hot fudge brownie for dessert (Dr. Weil would be so disappointed in me, I know.)

I suppose I could have called BIRTHWEEK 60 concluded at that point, but found myself in the delightful position of having not one but TWO old friends in town and available for a visit.  I met my friend Sandy at Cafe Nouveau, a favorite restaurant in Ventura on Tuesday of that week, then that Friday our mutual friend Maureen was visiting from Missouri.  I met her on the beach at Silver Strand for a nice visit.


Cafe Nouveau for pecan pancakes with pixie dust syrup.  No, that's not us but I do love to eat in the courtyard.
Thus ends the day-by-day, play-by-play (in the fun sense of the word "play") of BIRTHWEEK 60.  But the fun of summer break didn't end there.  No fear.  I'll just hit the highlights.

I read more this summer than I have for the last five combined.  At the top of my nightstand pile was Anne Lamott.  I read Bird by Bird (twice), on how to write.  I read all of her "faith" books including Grace Eventually, Tender Mercies, Plan B and Operating Instructions.  I read her novel, Rosie and have the other two in that series waiting.

Wonderful advice for writers.
I did a lot of yardwork, including (drum roll, please) finishing this planter that had been on hold for over a decade.  What SHALL I plant?

I discovered treasures in my garden including blooms on the stephanotis,

They smell so delicious!
and this year's crop of Monarch cats in the milkweed.

I started a jacket that has also been "on hold," this time for closer to twenty years.

Made of black duck with Christmas fabric patchwork, this will be done by Christmas although I did not get it finished before the end of summer break as I had hoped.

I wrote just about every day.  Some days it would be just a thought jotted in a journal or the small notebook I carry in my purse.  Most days it was Morning Pages, a habit I had developed as I worked Julia Cameron's Artist's Way last summer.  And sometimes I would work on one of the books I have on file - one an autobiographical piece and the other a novel.  I had found The Artist's Way so transformational that I decided to continue the growth process with Right to Write and am still working that process.

I had purchased a concert series of the Gay Men's Chorus of Los Angeles and attended their last concert of the series in July.  I started that day with a lovely drive down the coast into Hollywood, then enjoyed a delightful lunch with my writer friend, Dustin (a very talented essayist).  The concert was called TOTALLY! and was a tribute to the music and events of the 1980s.  This group is brilliant.  In case you missed it the first time I posted:


Add another half-dozen trips to Disneyland with friends and with my Mom and I had a very full and entertaining summer break indeed,

As most teachers do, I took care of health issues with visits to dentist, dental hygienist and internist.  I went to the gym for my 1.5-hour workouts regularly, clogged most Wednesday nights and attended Weight Watcher's meetings most Thursdays.  I did not meet my goal of increasing my work-outs and losing 20 pounds this summer, but will finish out the summer with a loss and considering the "fun" I had, that's doing pretty well.

For now, I'm getting ready to go support my Mom as she has knee replacement surgery.  Her surgery is scheduled for this Wednesday.  I'll move in with her on Tuesday afternoon and stay until the 27th, starting back to work on the 29th.

It's much easier to return to work when the summer break has been so rejuvenating.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

A Gift...

...when I needed it most.

Everyone can benefit, but it is especially for my TEACHER friends.





Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Sunday, August 07, 2011

HUGS!

It's International Friendship Day.



“If ever there is tomorrow when we’re not together, there is something you must always remember. You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem & smarter than you think. But the most important thing is, even if we’re apart – I’ll always be with you.” — Winnie the Pooh (the official Int’l Friendship Day Ambassador of Friendship)

 I have the most amazing people in my life.  I'm grateful that I can call them "friend".


Hugs to my Friends here at the stitchery.

Friday, August 05, 2011

Power

of love...

I was at this concert and it was a magical experience.

Turn up the volume and know that what we see and hear in this fabulous video doesn't come close to what I saw and heard and FELT from the GMCLA that day.

I can't wait until the next series.

We Belong - GMCLA sings the 1980s hit

Monday, August 01, 2011

Kinda Pooped.

We all got 'em.

I tried to lump all my errands into one trip today, in a line to minimize backtracking.  It worked out great and I'm not exhausted (hooray), but I did a lot of stuff.  Because this is my online journal, bear with me as I list what I took care of today.

First stop was the drugstore for a baby card.  My oldest and his wife are having their first child in just a couple more weeks and DH and I wanted to send some money for a stroller (or whatever else they want).  Sending money to Japan has been a little complicated, so we were delighted when my mom approached two Japanese women in a restaurant and asked what they thought was the best way to send money to a Japanese family.  Their answer: International postal money orders.  The fee is under $5.00 and it's a safe, smooth process.  When they try to cash the money order they have to show proof of identification and their address has to match what I put on the MO.

I had to control myself choosing a card.  They had such cute ones.  I really loved the clothesline with the baby bibs hanging by real, tiny little clothespins but I controlled myself and found a sweet one that wasn't 1) bulky and 2) heavy.

Next stop was the ATM in the grocery next store.

Then to the post office.  The little office in the neighboring town is actually closer to me than our town office (and never crowded like the big one in town) so I headed there.  Pretty seamless process.

Next stop was our town library.  It's a gorgeous thing...


Entrance. To the left is the used bookstore where I dropped my donation.  There's a coffee bar there, too.  Sometimes I wish I liked coffee.
Children's story area.  Blue floor is a thick rubber mat.
Check-out.  I got my card here.  Gorgeous mission styling throughout.  That's not a rug but tile on the floor.
Pretty cool, huh?  I've only seen pictures.  Seems to be videos, but there is another video section so I'm not sure what these are.  Guess I'll check it out next time.

Young adults. Spectacular "found" mosaic work.
And my favorite section upstairs in reference.  Actually, my FAVorite section is the little niche at the back of the photo.  There's a window there and I love to tuck in to read there.  During the school year I want to take one evening a week and do cross stitch up there.  Usually quiet (today there was a screaming child who needed to be taken home much earlier than he actually was).  For today's "assignment" I was sitting at a table next to the window just to the left of the fireplace.

My library card.  I had one for the old library for 35 years and only used it twice.  Maybe I'll take better advantage of this one.
Boring, huh?  Sorry.  You can see I really do like our library, although so far I haven't spent a whole lot of time there.

Anyway, next on my route was the Camarillo Police Department.  I have a box of stuffed animals I want to move out and several people recommended donating them to the CPD.  I wanted to make sure that was a real option, and a very nice lady enthusiastically told me they would take them.  I like to think of them comforting a child in a difficult situation.

As a teacher in California, I am required to get a TB test every four years and this summer is my turn.  I tried to stop at the medical clinic that does our testing but ran into a parking lot problem so just went back into the street and promised to come back in the afternoon.  I think my Universe was probably taking care of me again.  Later I imagined that a Monday morning just might have been pretty busy there.

Anyway, I headed to Costco.  First I got my passport photo taken.  It's pretty awful but I figure that just puts me in with an elite group of international travelers. I couldn't figure out why I looked so washed out; then I realized that I had forgotten blush when I did my photo make-up.  And I must be allergic to something in the make-up, 'cause my eye was tearing all morning (still is), which gave me a look way beyond "dewy-eyed."   The photog asked if I wanted another one and I said it was fine.  I'm sure that the "What the hell am I doing here?" look is the one I'll be wearing when I travel anyway, so I'll match.  Got groceries, then gas, then headed back.

Stopped at Home Depot for three more retainer blocks and some 2x6 redwood to finish out my retainer planter project.  That section of deck has been missing one 12-foot strip of decking for about ten years (waiting until I got the planter done).  Now I can finish that out once and for all tomorrow.  From there, on to Target for some Dymo label refills.  (I know, the story builds doesn't it?)

Back in Camarillo I stopped at the Presto Pasta.  DH got dinner there last night, but I didn't recognize my shrimp parmigiana (the little pieces of battered, fried shrimp looked like sausages to me).  DH drove all the way back to tell them we'd been shorted the entree and they gave him another one.  While he was gone (and not answering his phone) my son, who used to work there, pointed to one of the entree's and said, "This is your shrimp parmigiana, Mom."  When DH got back we had two of them.  Sadly, because the shrimp was battered and fried, I couldn't eat it anyway,  So, we had two dinners with nobody to eat them.  I felt sorry for the guy who made both of them (and was probably wondering if he'd lost his mind) and went in on my Errandscapade and paid for the dinner.  I think it made the manager's day.  He kept offering me drinks and cookies.

It's a sad commentary on our culture that people won't fess up when they make a mistake like this, or try to make it whole.  But one of my favorite lines from a song is from Billy Joel's "My Life."

"...you wake up with yourself."  I wake up with myself every morning, and if I'm going to like the experience, I have to try to remedy my mistakes.

One last stop for the day was back at the medical clinic.  Ran into two teacher friends, both there for the same reason as I.  Enjoyed a short visit, got my injections (it's never hurt before but today was OUCH time).  Have to go back on Wednesday afternoon.  My plan is to drive about 30 minutes from here to submit my passport application and materials, then come back to town to get my test read.

Tomorrow...

I'm splitting my time between purging the spare room and garage so that I can give up our storage unit (the year's rent on that thing = a round-trip ticket to Japan.  Nothing in there is that valuable) and working on my Christmas jacket. I will take pity and not bore you with all the re-arranging plans to make this work.

My jacket is coming along splendidly.

Yesterday I had a moment of terror when I started to cut out the pieces.  I'd spent hours creating that strip-pieced fabric and was really nervous about making that first cut.


But, I got over it and got it all cut out except for set of pieces that I have to create using the black background fabric and leftover strips of the pieced.

Here's some of what I did finish:

The little quilt for the back.

Pockets.

I'll get that last piece done tomorrow, then can start stitching it all up.  My goal is to have it done and hanging in the closet before I leave to move in with my mom, who is having knee replacement surgery on Wednesday, the 17th.  I'll be staying with her for the first week or so.  The rest of the family will take over on the 27th so that I can come home and get ready for school to start again.

It's always hard to believe that what SEEMS in June to be a long break (and is, really) is coming to an end.  Next week I have a Disneyland trip with a friend, then will take Mom to the hospital on Wednesday so she can leave her pint of blood. I'll spend the night, then take her to Disneyland for one last visit with the All American College Band and Ragtime Jonny before her surgery.  (The College Band ends their stay the next week, and Jonny only plays on Thursdays, which will be out for me once school starts.)

Even though she will be challenged during that week after her surgery, we're kind of looking forward to the time.  I have a stack of stitchery, writing projects and scrapbook projects to do while I'm there.

And she has promised that once her anesthetic wears off, she will teach me to fancy knit.

Should be fun.