Don't tell anyone, but I think Southern California may - for the first time in my memory - be the coolest spot in the contiguous states. I was at Disneyland (more about that in the next post) yesterday and I don't think it got much over 80 in the park. I was wearing jeans and pushing a wheelchair from 7:30 am until 10:00 pm and only got uncomfortable when sitting in the direct sun for more than 15 minutes (then, when I got my umbrella/parasol out, I was fine.) Here in Camarillo it's in the seventies, low eighties at the most. It's 3:30 pm and I'm still wearing a sweatshirt.
Anyway, I'm here to get caught up on journaling the last little more than a week.
My little summer teaching experience is going well, I think. 25 kids entering grades 4-8. Creative writing. Halfway through the session and some of the kids are getting bored, but they're well-mannered (for the most part) and good sports about trying stuff. I can't complain.
I'm surprised, though, at how tired I am by the time I get home. I'm only gone three hours in the morning, but am ready for a rest when I get home where I thought I'd be ready to jump into the summer chores. Oh, well.
I am managing to stay on top of maintaining what I've already improved in the garden. The hydrangea at the top of this page is just starting to age now. I'll deadhead it within the next week or two and hope for more blooms before the end of summer. It responded well to the three doses of aluminum sulfate I gave it during the spring and is a lovely blue. It's brought me several compliments and I don't mind having this beauty right next to my front door at all.
The Fairy Garden (which is outside my bedroom window) is just glorious. There's another hydrangea - this one with pink/white variegated mop heads - just coming into bloom. Brugmansias ('Angel's Trumpets') Peach and Creamsicle have completed the latest flush of blooms (over a dozen on each plant, a lovely display in pots) and Equador Pink is getting close to showing color. I have rooted cuttings in the nursery (which is housed in my boys' old crib) that are ready to be potted up. Next week should be fun in the garden.
In the house I'm focused on getting the last of the stuff that I moved out of the storage unit either permanently stored here somewhere or permanently out. It's hard, as I've already purged this stuff more than once and it's down to what I really would like to keep. I did manage to get my fabric into a state where I can sort and make room. What I get rid of will go to my colleague who runs a quilt club after school one day a week. I want to try to get the collection down to a dozen quilt projects the I feel confident I will complete in my lifetime. Wish me luck.
Friday of that week was my birthday. It seems like just a few weeks ago I was celebrating Birthweek 60. Happily, the more I am able to stay in each day and enjoy those parts of my life for which I am grateful, the less I grieve for times gone by. This year's birthday was more low-key. Family gathering on the 16th for my BIL and me. On my real birthday my mom and I had our usual Friday night dinner at Red's in Simi Valley (GREAT place with the best wait staff in the county) where I enjoyed my favorite 1/2 Western Burger. My mom "ratted me out" (as our favorite hostess put it) so that I was treated to the embarrassment of having some of the wait staff sing me the Red's birthday song over my gratis ice cream sundae (a monster in a giant's martini glass). I didn't mind. We've been going there for 20 years and have known some of these young servers for a long time. It was a kick to see - in this case - the men's choir serenading me, well aware (as evidenced by enormous grins and twinkling eyes) that they were honoring me with this profound humiliation.
I loved it! After dinner I returned home to go see Disney Pixar's BRAVE and I loved that, too. The art! The score! The humor. The message. Too dark for little kids, I think, and I was glad I was there for the late night show so the primary and younger crowd were not in the theater.
The high news for now week-before-last was my day last Sunday. What a great day!
It was time again for an I AM Sunday Mornings Coffee Talks in Venice. Organized and hosted by Tom Shadyac and Nicolle Pritchett (producers of the wonderful I AM), this was the third. They have been provocative and inspiring and I am committed to attending them all and working to incorporate the message of I AM into my inner (and extending into my outer) life. This talk opened with poet IN-Q (Adam Schmalholz). When he was introduced as "hip-hop rap" style, I felt an autonomic cringe before I could stop it. I only mention it so that when I say, "He blew me away," you'll know that I wasn't skipping into the experience. But honestly, this young poet blew me away.
I put the link to his youtube collection on his name if you want to check him out. It's not pretty, only important and moving. (Well, and in its way, it's pretty, too I suppose.)
After IN-Q, Tom spoke (and read from a variety of writers) about compensation, accepting - or embracing - the shadow that ultimately illuminates the light. I found his message confusing, since, for me, the message of I AM - when taken within the context of some of it's contributors, seems at some odds with Tom's message on Sunday. Lynne McTaggart is one of those appearing in I AM, and I have read her book, The Intention Experiment, and am halfway through its predecessor, The Field. In both, McTaggart has brought together the work of scientists from all over the world on quantum physics and the role of our thoughts in the manifestation of our environment, the interconnectedness of all things.
One of my favorite passages from The Intention Experiment (Chapter 10 The Voodoo Effect p. 153):
I considered the effect of the everyday negative throughts that swim through everyone's mind every day. A negative thought about yourself ("I'm untalented and lazy") or your children ("He's such a slob"; She's lousy at math") might ultimately manifest itself as physical energy and become a self-fulfilling prophecy. Indeed, moments when you feel an aversion to someone or something that you cannot rationally explain may simply be an instance when you are picking up a negative intention toward you. Even times when you are depressed could have a physical effect on the people and other living things around you.
Think of the implications for me as a middle school teacher!
I'm convinced. Convinced that cynicism breeds more cynicism, negativity more negativity and hate only more hate. I've been the paranoid, the cynic, the negative. Now, and partly because of the work of McTaggart, when I feel those paranoid, cynical thoughts slipping in (or pounding on the door of my heart and mind) I try to turn them with compassion and - most important - gratitude. As a result, I am the happiest I've ever been and believe that sending that positivity out into the universe must be a boon. Since I AM contains the interconnectedness message, I'm confused. I can only believe at this point that there is a balance between healthy grieving and contemplation of the hard stuff and living in gratitude for the good. I hope I can find the fulcrum.
After the Coffee Talk I headed deeper into Los Angeles for lunch and the last concert in my Gay Men's Chorus of Los Angeles series.
As noted in the previous post, the GMCLA shared the stage with guest Leann Rimes. This was her first number. All the straight women in the audience heaved the ever-popular, "What a shame" sigh.
The choreography/dancing was especially good this concert, but I'm not finding videos posted online. Someone did post a video of my favorite number, though.
"White Trash Wedding," "White Trash Cowboy," "White Trash Money," and "Red Solo Cup." Only GMCLA could pull this off.
Nobody has posted my favorite number of the concert - "Live Like You Were Dying" - so will just add this beauty, "Cowboy, Take Me Away."
One of the reasons I bought a Sunday series this year is that I learned last year that Sundays are not crowded city days in Los Angeles. I got out of town easily and had a relaxed trip up the coast. Just about the time I was sighing in satisfaction that my day was ending on such a positive note, I topped the last hill out of Malibu and saw this.
Truly, a perfect magical way to end a great day.