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

Wednesday, November 28, 2012


Until I get some communication about why Google is trying to sell me "extra" storage when, in fact, they say I've only used 40% of my free storage, I can resize my pics.

So, here is the first.  We called this the ginkgo park because the trees were glorious.  However, I learned an important lesson about the beautiful ginkgo.  If you step on the fallen fruit, your shoes will smell like dog shit.


(No, my shoes escaped the curse.  The baby, however, was not so careful as I about where he stomped around, and he was a little fragrant.  If he had been older he probably would have been embarrassed that people might have though that was - well - his own smell.)

Fine Print.

Apparently when I started this blog six years ago, there was some fine print about how much I could post.  And I've reached that limit.

Until I decide what to do with this (pay for more storage or move somewhere else) I won't be able to feed my addiction for pics.

Do want to share, though, that my trip to Japan was just splendid.  It was painful to leave and I am still fighting to stay out of the dumps.

It's been a rough fall.

I really didn't need to lose this place right now.

Hang in there with me, OK?

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

This just in...

is our family destination.

Two more sleeps.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Before sayonara...

... a check in.

Yes, I'm nearly packed and ready for my second trip to Japan.  I cannot wait to get my greedy mother's hands on my son, his wife and my too-cute-for-words grandson.

Y'know those movies where - at the dramatic climax - the heroine's lifetime of memories come flashing rocket fast, one after another within a few seconds through her consciousness?  That was sort of happening to me on Friday.  I was listening to my students recite the Preamble to the Constitution.  Normally it's one of my favorite days.  You'd have to know my classes to understand.  My school is what the United Nations wishes to be.  Youngsters from all over the world - all cultures, all colors, all orientations - doing a good job of learning to embrace each other's special qualities.  I always get a kick out of watching them - one at a time - stand and recite the preamble to our governing document.

But this time I was distracted, and it seemed to be when they reached, "do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America."  Distracted by images from last year's trip.


This year I look forward to lots of conversation with my son and his wife (my friend) as well as active playtime with my grandson.  Am hopeful that he will settle in for a snuggle or two, too, but from what I've seen on Skype that may be a pipedream.

It has also been suggested that there may be some different sights to be seen this year.  Perhaps Asakusa...

I'm pretty open to whatever.  My family is my focus.  But they know I've had a lifelong love of things Japanese and it seemed to bother them that I didn't see more of the traditional "tourist" attractions (and I was a little disappointed not to buy traditional souvenirs for the folks back home, although I made up for it at the 100 yen shop.)

Anyway, I'm open to whatever they decide.  Asakusa is home to a famous shrine and equally famous shopping street.  And this could be fun:

Taikokan, a museum of Taiko drums (we're a family of Taiko fans).  It's a drum museum, and apparently you can play some of them.  My son has said he would take a day off from work to take me/us somewhere, but I don't really know what he has in mind.  If it's to be a family outing, the baby might enjoy being introduced to the drums (I would say he's unbelieveably musical for his age, but I do believe it because his dad was the same way.)
I worked on pre-packing over the weekend, trying to fit in as much as possible to take to them.  Things are so nuts around here that it's hard to focus.
Saturn in Scorpio.  Or is it Uranus in Pluto?  Or both?  So far in the last few weeks a rivet broke in the garage door hinge, my car died (RIP), the water heater sprung a rather dramatic leak (and the water penetrated the plastic storage boxes of holiday decorations; that was last weekend's suprise chore).  Yesterday my younger son was having problems with his computer and just before bed asked if I'd noticed the dryer was broken -  for the third time this year - with a load of clothes I had washed for the trip.
I'm on emotional overload.
Three more days.  Today I have to get prescriptions refilled and do more packing (if the last of the clothes are dry.)  I need a pair of nice slacks just in case we go somewhere where jeans are not appropriate.  I need to deliver the paperwork to the guy who is taking my car off my hands and pick up more cash for the trip.  I need to water my plants well and make up sub plans.  I want another good workout at the gym.  Am saving Wednesday for last-minute final packing, and then we'll be on the road Thursday at 6:00 am.  Plane takes off at 10:00 am.
Admit I'm looking forward to being forced - as I was last year - to sit still with paper, pen, book, movies and my own thoughts for 12 hours.

Sunday, November 04, 2012

"Yes, We Plan..."

... to vote.

Friday, November 02, 2012


October was a tough month.

But things are getting better by the minute.

This was waiting for me when I got home today.
My daughter-in-law sells her photography via instacanvas.  I ordered this one and am THRILLED with the result.  This picture does not do it justice.

The verdict on my car was that it wasn't worth repairing.  The Blue Book on it was only $2500, and the estimate on transmission, brakes, fluids and so on was over $4400.  Once I accepted that reality I felt a wash of peacefulness.  I've learned over the last three years that this means I've made the right decision.
I walked to work today and it was delightful.  Walking home - mostly uphill after a day of teaching - was not so delightful but not awful.  I'm in pretty good shape and, happily, live in a lovely neighborhood so I didn't suffer.
Once I got home I got a ride to the mechanic.  I was dropped off to pay my bill and then - with fingers crossed - drive my limping SUV home where I had imagined it would serve as a storage unit for a while until I figured out how to unload it.  I know there are organizations that will come get donated cars, but this one needs so much work I would feel guilty donating it.  There's no way I would get anything on it as a trade-in, and I couldn't "wake up with myself" (as Billy Joel says in "My Life") if I sold the thing to anyone.
So I felt like the Universe was smiling on me when I went in to pay my bill.  The owner was talking to someone and his assistant was kind of stalling.  Within a few moments the assistant asked, "What do you plan to do with that car?"  I said that I hadn't really thought it through yet, and he said the owner wanted to talk to me about it.  Sure enough, he finished his conversation and came back with a proposition.  "I'm interested in your car as a shop car."  He would make the repairs and use the SUV to transport his elderly clients home and back when they left their cars for him to repair.  He told me that he hadn't been able to find the "right" sized car and thought this Explorer might work better than the previous two SUV's he'd tried.  Trouble was, he said, he couldn't really afford to offer more than a couple of hundred dollars because of the needed repairs.
I'm sure it was an odd conversation.  I don't know if he expected me to try to bargain him up, but all I could think was that I loved the idea that my car (I really did love that car) would make a useful contribution after all and that I would be spared trying to drive it home (I was terrified that it would collapse on me in an intersection, which is what happened with the last vehicle I had with transmission problems) AND trying to dispose of it.  In the end,  I just suggested I trade the car for the $168 I owed him for what he'd done on it (mostly diagnostics).  He threw in a couple of free pre- purchase inspections if I chose to buy a used car.
I called my son and asked him to bring his truck to unpack all my stuff.  I'm glad I did.  I remembered the glove box, under the seats, my CD collection (both in the console and on the visors).  But he remembered my Disneyland license plate frames, which I would have forgotten.
So now I'm carless, but at peace with it.  It will be a while before I can think of getting a new car.  A lot will depend on Tuesday's election.  But we are a household of three people and two cars, so we should be able to make things work.  It's nice that I work so close to home (about a mile) and can walk on nice days.
Am grateful that things have worked out today.  Hopeful this bodes well for November.
Leaving in less than two weeks to love on my family in Japan.  Yes, that's my son and grandson in the photo  (he looks EXACTLY like his uncle from the back). 
Cannot wait to get my arms around all of them.

Nightmare Challenges.

A short list.

Nightmares can be fun.
Summoned for Federal jury duty.  First time for federal.  I've never actually been on a jury (although I've served many years in a row until I did a 99-day Criminal Grand Jury.  Haven't been summoned by the county since.  Yet.)   For the federal jury, my original summons was a call-in of October 30-November 12.  I leave for Japan November 15.

Younger son broke up with a wonderful young woman that he'd been with (seriously) for over a year.  I'd never seen him so happy with anyone (he's 31).  Still don't understand.  (I'm keeping her.)

Tried to order a free-range turkey from a local meat market for a dinner party.  Owner wouldn't answer my phone calls, email didn't work.  Finally resorted to facebook and he eventually responded.  Bird (frozen) cost $73.00.  Worker told me it would "probably be OK" to defrost in the refrigerator, but after one day it was still frozen solid.  Had to put it in water, then leave it out all night and it was still cutting it close.  It tasted good - because I do a good job with a turkey - but didn't have the fat of a "cheap" prisoner turkey (sorry, girls) so was a tad on the dry, tasteless side.  Won't be doing that again.

While I fought with the turkey man, another turkey contacted my boss about bringing my class to a local Civil War re-enactment.  They were willing to donate money for buses and assumed that gave them the right to assume we would be there, even though they, too, did not answer my calls or emails asking for details.  BTW, I've been to this re-enactment and it's fantastic - on Saturday and Sunday.  But our invitation was for Friday.  In short, after two weeks of being ignored, I finally bullied an email out of one of the men.  It told me that I would spend his money and easily that much again to bring 350 8th graders to the site to watch them set up canvas tents for about 20 minutes before we would have to load up and come back to school for dismissal.  This after disrupting at least two, probably three, classes and missing lunch.  Won't be doing that, either.

Finally got some breathing space.  Postponed the jury service until February.  Said no to the re-enactment and chanted, "Just get me through the dinner party" for a week.  Breathed a sigh of relief when the dinner party was successfully completed.  Went to work on Monday and at 3:30 drove away from school into town for a meeting.  On the way the "A/B OFF" light started flashing.  Called the mechanic the next day to make an appointment for the day after.  Fretted the whole time about the possible diagnosis while trying to talk positive. 

Woke up at 3:00 AM the day after I left the car, worrying about what I would learn.  One of my favorite Law of Attraction phrases is "worrying is like praying for what you don't want," so when I get into one of these states I distract myself by playing cards on my ipod or using it to check in on facebook.  While checking on facebook I noted this post from my son:

"Don't tell my mom, but the water heater broke and flooded the garage."

He did a great job of taking care of turning off the water and cleaning up as best he could in the wee hours.  The tank itself was under warranty, but we had to pay the labor - $675 we don't really have.

And then, at about 2:30 pm (I had been in a workshop all day) I got the call with the news about my dear SUV.  New transmission.  Master cylinder leaking - somewhere.  Two brake pads down to minimum allowable.  Power steering fluid smells burned.  Coolant is dirty.  Blue Book on the car is $2500.  Estimate on work needed to make her safely useable?  $4400.

I felt like I'd been swimming upstream all month.  I'm sure my astrologer friends can explain the influence of the planets on all this (I know Saturn has been in Scorpio and Uranus in Pluto, but I'm a long way from understanding how all that works).  All I know is that it feels like being beaten on with a 2 x 4.

But once I got that call and accepted that I was going to be carless, I felt a delightful sense of peace wash over me.  I'm coming to understand that this means I've made the right decision.  And once I make the right decision and celebrate that, even when, like in this case, it means inconvenience and complications, life starts to turn around.

I need to remember that.  I've read it over and over, but am still challenged accepting it.  If something is a struggle, and it seems that roadblocks are being thrown in your way, it's the wrong path.  When it goes easily, it's is the right one.

We're having a big garage sale tomorrow.  Moving out the final boxes from a three-year purge project.  These were the hard ones for me, the stuff that I kept after a half-dozen purges and garage sales.  But last weekend, as I went through the boxes again, I realized that the stuff is stuff I'd collected for different dreams.  Once I accepted that those are no longer my dreams, it became easier to let the stuff go.  My dreams are made of different stuff now and the dolls and teddy bears don't really have a place.  What doesn't sell tomorrow will go to the Rescue Mission Thrift Store where perhaps it will brighten someone's Christmas stocking.

That feels peaceful.

Like the right decision.

Thursday, November 01, 2012

Too funny...

...to pass up.

Usually I try to deal with the speedbumps in the road of life with optimism.  Hope.  Gratitude.

It's been a rought trip lately.  An astrologer friend warns that it's because Saturn is in Scorpio, which doesn't seem fair since I just emerged from my second Saturn return.  (Really wish I understood all that.)  But the BS (bad stuff) has been piling on.  Ending my marriage is a continuing process, although the good news is that we seem to make better roommates in our typical Baby Boomer break-up than we were spouses.

But a couple of weeks ago my younger son broke up with his fantastic girlfriend.  It really shook me, and the grief has been profound.  Fortunately, she and I agree that we are keeping each other and are finding our own relationship without him.  It's better, but not perfect as I was really looking forward to being grandma to their someday children.

Then Monday after work a new light surprised me on my car dash.  Bess has been the best SUV ever.  I want to keep her going, and am trying to stay optimistic that the transmission service light means fluids, not replacement 'cause I can't afford that.  Oh, and probably brake work, too, since that light has been on for a while but I thought it was just another malfunction (messages have checked out as malfunctions for the life of the car.)  Smacking myself in the back of the head for ignoring that one.  I'm lucky I haven't killed myself; or worse, someone else.

And then this morning, 3 AM to be exact, while I was checking facebook on my ipod to distract myself from fretting about the car ("worrying is like praying for what you don't want"), I scroll down to a message left at midnight from my son.  "Shhh.. don't tell my mom the water heater broke and flooded the garage."  So now we have to see if the plumbing company I bought the heater from in 2006 is going to honor the expensive platinum ten-year covers everything warranty I let them sell me.

I could use a friend.

"In this moment, I am all right."

Now I just have to see if someone will take me to work.

Another day.