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

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Music Magic

Never get tired of it.

Not going to explain much today, but here are the photos and video from another great day with my Mom at Disneyland.
We sat outside, but this is the new indoor seating area at the Carnation Cafe.

So, this video needs a little explanation.  Mom and I have always enjoyed this Disneyland Band set at the front gates.  Music is Disney themes, and the Mad Hatter, Alice and other characters show up to lead guests in some fun (albeit often embarrassing) activities.  Recently, both Hatters have zeroed in on her to participate, something she does NOT want to do.  A few visits ago the other Hatter stole her from my BIL for the stroller drill team, and on this visit this Hatter also "insisted" and Bert graciously offered to be her chauffer (both refusing to take "No, thank you," for an answer.  BTW, my BET was in full force at the beginning of this video, but YouTube said they fixed it.  We'll see.

Most of the day consisted of us dashing from one musical set to the next.

The Disneyland Band is doing a set on the Mark Twain.  Couldn't miss that now, could we?

They struck the perfect balance between performance and quiet.  At this point we were coming up on the Plains Indians scene.  Of course, Pocahontas was not a Plains Indian, but it is a nice theme to use anyway.  They had played the Davy Crockett theme as we came up to Mike Fink's cabin.

After the boat ride I took Mom over to the Sleeping Beauty Castle to wait for the Band's next set.  While she held our spot, I took some purchases to the front gate Newstand for holding during the day, and on the way back stopped for Pecan Nuttles (going to have to stop doing that) and made note that Esmeralda was indeed still in her traditional spot.  I had found a quarter on the ground and used it to get my fortune, which was somewhat prescient as well as completely appropriate for what was to come.

I thought Mom had seen this before, but I was wrong and she was delightfully surprised by who all joined the band for this show.

So, this was a unique experience for me.  57 years of coming to this magical place, and this was the first time someone has picked a fight with me.  So strange.  Remember the woman standing next to us,  whose hands and camera you can see in my video?  Less than five minutes before the end of this set a man came up behind us and literally pushed that woman out of the way so that his friend - who was holding a baby (about six months old) could stand in the front.  "First time! First time!" the pushing man was shouting.  I just kept taking pictures, figuring if she wanted to argue, that was her business.  But within seconds I noticed that as the man with the baby was swinging the baby from side to side following the antics of the characters, the baby's feet were hitting my mom very close to her one good eye.  I touched him lightly on the shoulder, pointing out what was happening.  He didn't seem to have a problem - settled down so it didn't happen again - but the man who had pushed them into that position (who was now standing behind me) started lecturing me that this place was for kids, not for 60-year-olds.  I refrained from giving him the Disney history lecture (Walt got the idea for a park that adults could enjoy, too, after sitting on a bench at Griffith Park while his daughters rode the carousel) and instead just said, "Well, there's the Disneyland spirit."  To which he replied, "That's just the way of the world."  For probably the first time in my life, I was able to calmly respond with exactly what I wanted to say (it usually takes me a few days of seething and festering to come up with what I should have said.)

"Only if that's the way you want it."

I didn't hear anything else from him.  The set ended and the man with the baby turned to me and said, "I'm so sorry that happened.  I am so, so, sorry."  He couldn't stop apologizing, and I ended up patting his shoulder and assuring him that it was all right.  I was completely satisfied with how it turned out and I really hoped that the experience didn't ruin his first visit with his little girl.  Sure am curious what transpired between the two men after that.

Next up was the Town Square Disney movie music set (always a treat), after which we headed to Coke Corner for something to drink while we enjoyed the Mad Hatter, Alice and Ragtime Patrick as they played Musical Chairs.

While Mom rested there, I skeedaddled over to Splash Mountain for a turn through the Laughin' Place and into the Briar Patch.  I was hoping for a cooling drenching (very warm day) but the water level was low and I barely got a sprinkle.

On my way past I snapped a picture of the "Disneyland" rose.  I lost my "Sutter's Gold" last year and finally dug the stump out at the beginning of the summer.  I wanted this rose to replace it, but was too late this year - everyone was sold out.  It's at the top of my list for Otto and Sons Rose Days next April.

Then we were back to the Castle for the first All American College Band 2012 set.  I fear that I'm losing my camera (probably crashing due to overwork) and it kept freezing on me during videos.  I missed the cool intro to this medley of attractions themes, but I got some of it.

From there we made the quick dash barely in time for the Billy Hill and the Hillbillies set...

... and then over to the Pizza Port for linner...

... and back to Frontierland and into the Golden Horseshoe so that Mom could cool down in the AC and enjoy the Laughing Stock comedy show, which she had never seen.  John Eaden (with the bandana) is one of the funniest performers at Disneyland Resort and I had hoped Mom could see him in his usual role of Sally Mae, but the actor who did her did a fine job and Mom really enjoyed the show.

Another push to Town Square and our usual seats for Soundsational.

This music is so cleverly arranged!  The transitions between floats is perfectly edited so that the dancers are right on beat even when the music is not theirs, then when the music switches to the right stuff, it's perfect.

Speaking of perfect, there are my sweeps!

Just a few minutes later it was time for the final set of the AACB 2012.

Stevie Wonder Medley.  Did I mention here that last year I saw Stevie at the Park?  We were sitting at Coke Corner when he and his entourage were escorted right by us on their way out the back way.  Close enough to touch.

The day's finale is (as always) their tribute to Earth, Wind and Fire.  The lead trumpet was even better this time, but my little camera doesn't do him justice.

Well, I guess I couldn't just post without some story after all.  So what else is new?  Had a comfortable trip home, dropped Mom at her house and returned to my own.  We'll try for one more visit before we lose the AACB and before I run out of summer break.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Living With Magic...

...is not a bad way to live.

I've reached the halfway point in Summer Break 2012.  So far I've taught a summer school class in creative writing (a great experience) and cleared out a space in the yard to store ugly gardening necessities like compost, potting soil, and miscellaneous tools.  I've cleared enough grass and weeds to fill our huge garden waste barrel three time (with another half barrel sitting here that won't fit.)  I've done a lot of reading, some stitching and started purging boxes of memorabilia, books and old clothes (all with memories attached) from the family room.  I've taken my mom to Disneyland twice (more about our second trip in a minute) and attended two I AM conversation sessions in Venice. 

What do I want to do will I do before school starts again (first faculty meeting is the last week of August):

I will finish the purging of the boxes (starts up again tomorrow).  I will purge my fabric and craft patterns.  I will purge my paperback book collection down to what will fit at the end of my tiny clothes closet (and in the process, get rid of more clothes).  I will continue to weed and prune so that the entire yard is clean when school starts (which, I've learned, makes it MUCH easier to maintain through the fall and winter).

I will finish my Christmas jacket (started last summer).  Then my bear quilt.  Then some little Disney-themed purses for Christmas gifts.  I will finish the floss on the Firefly Faeries, then block and mount it in Qsnaps for the metallics and beading.  I will return to Morning Pages (three pages of writing every morning), daily journaling and daily work on either of the two books I've started.  I will finish Lynne McTaggert's The Field and The Bond, and  Tom Shadyac's Life's Operating Manual.

I will add something each day to the family history.  I will work each week to add something to my teaching plans for next fall.

And I will be grateful every day that I have this time, and in gratitude will not squander it.

I have committed.

Thanks.  I needed that.  I guess I'd better print off the list.

So, this weekend I took my Mom back to Disneyland for another day of music music music in our favorite getaway.   Sometime this week I will post some pictures and video from yesterday's visit.  For now,  though, I want to share my excitement about today's  Sunday Mornings Coffee Talk, where a theater filled with caring people gather once a month to share thoughts and energy inspired by Tom Shadyac's I AM.  Today, if we could have harnessed the energy flowing through the room we could have made a dent in our energy crisis with energy that is pure, non-polluting and completely renewable.  Proven every month in that theater in Venice.


Nicolle Pritchett, one of the producers of I AM and the force behind making these Coffee Talks come true gifted us with copies of her brother's publication, Blindfold.  First I'd heard of it and I can only say, "Brilliant."


Tom Shadyac has hosted each gathering and is a force and an inspiration.



Special guest today was Roko Belic, producer of Happy.  I've been an outspoken supporter of Shadyac's I AM, which will prove to be one of the most important films of the decade.  Happy is right behind it.

By the Way, Happy includes contributions by Sonja Lyubomirsky.  I carry her app, Live Happy, on my ipod.  It's one of my favorite apps!



As if our happiness wasn't being fed enough, we had been introduced to IN-Q last month.  IN-Q is a powerful poet with a positive message delivered in a hip-hop/rap style.  He decided he liked the phenomenon called Sunday Mornings Coffee Talks enough to return this morning and was given the opportunity to close the meeting with another poem.  By the time he wrapped up the magic of the morning with some of his own, the place was practically shimmering.


Finally, as we left, Nicolle gave us a pre-publication copy of Tom's new book, Life's Operating Manual.  He's been reading bits and pieces over the last four meetings.  I can't wait to jump into this one.

Traffic on the PCH was extremely heavy (another beautiful day at the beach) but it is always a lovely drive so who cares if it takes longer.  I indulged myself by stopping at Cosentino's, a nursery I've been passing for decades.  This is the first time I've managed to make it into the gate.  I was a tad disappointed as it is pretty much strictly succulents (not into those) but I'd glad I stopped - finally.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Summer Break Magic

I seem to have more and more of these special days.
I'm not complaining.  Am grateful, in fact.

Before I share about today, though, let me get caught up.

I finished teaching a Creative Writing Class for our school district summer creative arts academy.  25 kids entering fourth through eighth grade.  It was one of the best teaching experiences of my career, and I'm very grateful to have had the opportunity.  I  tried to teach a class Julia Cameron or Jack Grapes would be proud of.  No criticism, just time, ideas if they needed them (or write whatever you want) and for the one publication piece just focus on the ART (what came out of your heart) and a passing consideration of the CRAFT (yeah, some mis-spelled words but here's how to fix them, no big deal and so on).  Published a little book with a nice piece from each student.  Some were brilliant but nothing embarassing.  I was proud of them and I hope they were proud of themselves.

Some days after work I stopped on my way home at the nearest thing to a luxury resort I can afford: the public library.  Am currently finishing The Field by Lynne McTaggart.  I'm hopeful of spending an hour or so a few days each week for the remainder of the summer.  It's calm, clean and nontoxic.  Very restorative.

Also on my summer booklist:  The Bond, also by Lynne McTaggart; Life's Operating Manual by Tom Shadyac (which I should get at the coffee on Sunday); Outliers and Blink by Malcolm Gladwell; The Lacuna by Barbara Kingsolver (which I've had for a while; my SIL bought it today so I'm hoping to be able to read and discuss it with her at some point.)

Since finishing my class I've been focused on what I call the Chaos to Order Project.  So far I've partially cleaned out my crafts closet, purged some boxes in the garage in preparation for purging more of the boxes I brought home from a storage unit and that have been maturing in my family room.  I need to purge my quilt fabric collection, then dig into the boxes.  So far I have four flip-top plastic boxes full of stuff for a garage sale, including one with half my collection of Disney stuff.  Much more to go through, but I'm confident I will have order restored to that room by the time school starts.  My son and his GF want a real, big, traditional Christmas tree this year (we haven't had one for three years) and I admit to missing it, too.  Since everything is stored in the traditional Christmas tree spot, it has to be cleared.

I had completely forgotten this darling.  I think she needs to be finished. Another UFO onto the summer pile.
My higher priority this week, though, has been the garden.  This had brought me so much joy, so much SANITY this year.  It's moving into its summer doldrums, but is still stunning.

Passion Vine still growing a couple of feet a day.

I had to cut this Hardenbergia way back.  All I could see was a wad of sticks, and what vines were still growing were headed into the shingles.  It's always a joy - a message of hope - to see new growth after such a radical pruning.
Yesterday's project was to finish weeding the Fairy Garden all the way to the end.  It's at its best, now, and really lovely.  Toward the front yard, just outside the gate, is an area that has been a bit of an eyesore for years.  My son and I have agreed that it will be where we store the Ugly Garden Stuff like bags of compost and waiting pots and yard waste cans.  But first, it needs to be cleaned out.  I started Sunday and weeded under a huge yellow hibiscus and miniature yellow rose.  My plan for that space, which is visible from the courtyard, is to fill the planter under those two plants with Disneyland style pansies - a riot of velvet colors.  The plants will have to wait until the weather cools (which is when the nursery stock comes in) but now it looks SO much better with five years of grass and gunk cleared out.  Yesterday I cleaned out a stock tank (yes, a real stock watering tank) that I bought when our Akita - who has been gone six years, now - suffered a flea infestation and the stock tank was the only vessel big enough to dip a 110 pound dog).  It had old, useless compost in the bottom covered with a couple years worth of potting soil bags and a once-handsome but never planted grass plant (almost gave myself a hernia hauling that into the yard waste barrel).  Once I got the tank cleaned out I dragged it around to the back yard where it is now stored in the abandoned dog run.  Then I ran a sprinkler on that space for a couple of hours so that it will be good and wet for pulling some major grass and other weeds tomorrow.

Which brings me to today.

A perfect reward day for all that hard work.

My SIL arrived about 8:00 AM for one of our favorite activities - a day of nurseries and bookstores and a fabulous lunch.  We had a blast.

First up the 101 to Carpenteria to an incredible nursery called the Seaside Gardens.  It was about a   45-minute drive and we jabbered the whole way.  She had been to this nursery before, but I had not and was giddy when I realized what I was about to explore.

The highest quality retail plants.  Friendly, knowledgeable and happily helpful staff.  And - the ultimate treasure - not one, but several demonstration gardens showing what those plants in the retail section would look like when fully grown.  I can't number the plants I've had to dig out and dispose of because I bought something too big for the space I had.

I've always wanted one of these.  The leaves are over two feet across.  Sadly, I have no space for one, but it's nice to know there is a place where I can go visit one when I want to.
Lovely designs.
The Cottage Garden.
It's just great when a nursery will label their displays.

But the highlight of the visit came when we turned the corner and met this...


Neither of us had seen one of these in person.  We'd only seen pictures and had in mind that they were maybe a little bigger than a water lily.

What a shock!

The flowers on this beauty are the size of soccer balls.  The leaves are over a foot across, and they stood 3-4 feet above the water's surface.  Simply breathtaking.

Of course, I had to ask.

This particular plant is scheduled for its first divisions in about two years.  Yes, they had other lotus.  Yes, the ones they had were comparable to this one, only more dwarf.  Obviously, they grow OK in Carpenteria, but actually like it hotter than this nursery gets along the coast.

I can do this.  With my SIL doing her cheerleader act behind me (yes, I will blame her for my weakness) I made arrangements to bring one to a new home in my somewhat little pond.  I'll see how it does.  Fortunately, they weren't hideously expensive.

SIL and I were ready to grab some sleeping bags and camp out to watch these buds open.

When we couldn't make any excuse to linger longer we settled up and headed back down the coast.  When we had driven up, it had been cloudy.  By the time we headed south, the sun was out and the sea was brilliantly clear, so clear that we could see the Channel Islands as we had never been able to see them before.  We detoured off the freeway and onto the coast road to try to get some pictures.  Pretty, but it's hard for me to see what I'm getting when I'm photographing the Islands.

Yeah, you can sorta see the islands out there.
We could have stayed there all day, smelling the sea and listening to its music.

If we hadn't been in a "No Parking Any Time" area.

Once back in Ventura we headed to my favorite restaurant - Cafe Nouveau - for lunch.  Sad to say, they still have not recovered from a kitchen fire in February.  I've had a mighty craving for their pecan pancakes with vanilla caramel syrup (which my family calls the Disneyland syrup because something that good could only have been made by faeries.)

Disappointed, we consoled ourselves with a trip to Green Thumb in Ventura.  I got some compost (I have the sandiest, most nutrient-deficient soil...) and a 6-pack of prairie flowers, which I've not yet been successful at growing but I am hopeful of a better outcome this time.

From there we came back to Camarillo to have lunch at Lure.  Lobster Spinach dip and Linguine with Clam Sauce.  Sigh. 

Coming into Lure was good for my ego.  The young woman who held the door and welcomed us recognized me as her 8th grade history teacher (she is now a junior in college) and we had a happy reunion.  Then as my SIL and I sat in the lobby and waited for our table, a young man came to the hostess station who had also been my student and we had a nice visit.  My SIL was impressed (so was I) and asked if that happened often.  I boasted, "This is MY town," and then laughed.  I do run into  ex-students from time to time, but this restaurant seems to be a magnet ("lure?" yuk yuk) for former students and I run into them working there more often than anywhere else in town.

After our delicious lunch I took my SIL to our local bookstore.  There are so few indie bookstores left, and we are very lucky to have this one special one to claim as "ours."  Mrs. Figs' Bookworm is a magical place thanks to its delightful owner, Connie.  Another nice visit (and books purchased - it's a given) and then we headed back to my house. 

As if that all wasn't wonderful enough, when I got home I discovered that it's Monarch season!  Yesterday I found a tiny hatchling on the ground where I had been weeding.  I brought it in and put it in a cup with a branch of aesclepias (milkweed, the host plant of the Monarch butterfly).  Tonight I realized that the milkweed had dried out and the little caterpillar was clinging to the side of the cup.  So I prepared my large glass bowl for the baby by filling a plastic cup with oasis, wetting it and then heading out to collect a full branch for the baby.  As I started to cut the first branch I noticed an inch-long cat chomping away.  Then another on a second plant, and a third on another.

I hope they don't mind sharing with a little cousin.
A perfectly perfect day, delightful in every way.

I am well cared for.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Higgs Boson ATLAS Complete Mix

Higgs Boson ATLAS Complete Mix

I love it.  The Field has a happy soundtrack.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Disney Geek Heaven

Disney Treasures Exhibit
Reagan Presidential Library
Simi Valley, California

First let me say that although I was not a particular fan of Ronald Reagan the President, I was a fan of the actor, Screen Actor's Guild (union) president and the President of the United States who said in 1981 that  By outlawing Solidarity, a free trade organization to which an overwhelming majority of Polish workers and farmers belong, they have made it clear that they never had any intention of restoring one of the most elemental human rights—the right to belong to a free trade union.

That said, I will also say that our county has been very lucky to be the home of the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library.  Their exhibits over the years have been exquisitely presented, and the current exhibit, built in cooperation with D23 (the official Disney fan club) is no exception.  Billed as the largest exhibition of Disney memorabilia in history, it is the most exciting exhibit I've seen there to date (and the Civil War exhibition several years ago set a pretty high standard.)

I was there for a couple of hours this morning to see Treasures... and plan to return more than once.  I was so excited that my BET kicked in (benign essential tremor, a family trait that usually isn't disabling to me - just inconvenient sometimes) and ensured that I got some really awful photos.  I hope to replace the worst next visit, but for now, here's a peek through some of the better ones.  (Yes, trust me, these are the better ones.) Keep in mind the lighting is dim museum lighting to protect the artifacts on display and to set the right tone and "NO FLASH PHOTOGRAPHY" - just like in the parks - is allowed.

Jiminy Cricket macquette.  Jiminy is one of my favorite characters.

I about did a little dance when I saw the book that opens Sleeping Beauty - huge, by the way - but managed to restore some decorum just in the nick of time.

There's a place at Disney California Adventure where you can find out "your" Disney character.  Mine was Maleficent from Sleeping Beauty.  I wasn't sure how to take that.  She is my favorite Disney villain from my favorite Disney movie, but really?  Maleficent?  I guess I feel better now that Angelina Jolie has been chosen to portray me in the new movie.
THEREITISTHEREITISTHEREITIS!  I was there the first year and at least once a year forever afterward.  My goal is to be there on its 100th anniversary.

From Walt's office.

Re-creation of Walt's office.

I've ridden this many times.

Autographed by the author.

She was taller than I expected (5'8").

The Nautilus.  One of my favorite movies, one of my favorite attractions from the early days.
Oh my gosh, it's King Brian's crown!  I was so excited when I found that Darby O'Gill and the Little People was available on dvd.  Another favorite. 

It entertained me how many artifacts I recognized - like running into an old friend from high school forty years later - but couldn't quite put my finger on where I knew them from.  I think I saw Babes in Toyland - or selections from it - several times on television over the years.

They had several of the costumes from the Annie Liebovitz portraits.

Julie Andrews' costume from The Princess Diaries.  I forget, sometimes, that they were Disney, too.

Anne Hathaway's.  She is tall, too, about 5'8"

The new princess' crown.

So yummy, even in person.  Giselle's wedding dress from Enchanted.

I still love the butterfly.
And, her manhole cover.

Queen Narissa (Susan Sarandon is "only" 5'7 1/2")

From Electronica, a show at Disney California Adventure when Tron II came out.

Really sorry I didn't get a better picture of her.  The original dragon from Fantasmic.  Made the front page of several newspapers as she made her way along the freeways from storage to the library.
Grim grinning ghosts...

...and the busy bride.

The Endeavor, ship of Lord Cutler Beckett (boohiss).

I liked Norrington.

Bootstrap Bill Turner

Pintel and Rigetti

Dead Man's Chest and jar of dirt.



The Black Pearl.  The lighting in this area was spectacular, but my camera kept compensating so the drama is lost from this picture.

It took me a while to realize where I'd seen this guys before.  Duh.  Another favorite movie I'd forgotten was Disney.

I love this model. 
This picture isn't from the Treasures exhibit, but is the building at Walt Disney Studios in Burbank where the sculptures are found.  As I understand it, the dwarfs were chosen to hold up the edifice because the success of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs provided the financial foundation for the rest of Disney's magic.

 Can you name them all?

Just a peek into this fabulous exhibit. There's more that I didn't even try to photograph, much less post here.   If you are anywhere near enough for a trip to be feasible, it's worth the time and expense ($21) for a ticket.


 To wrap this up, here are some Reagan Library photos.

The library sits on the top of a hill on the outskirts of Simi Valley.  All along the road up the hill are these light standards (in El Camino Real fashion, which means something to Californians).  Starting with George Washington at the bottom of the hill, each standard has the portrait of a President leading to Ronald Reagan and...

...on the way down the hill are the Presidents that came along after Reagan.

The grounds and buildings are lovely and in the traditional California Ranchero style.

A Disneyland touch.  Queue ready for anticipated large crowds.  They are expecting hundreds of thousands of visitors during the run of this exhibit (which runs until April of 2013, I believe.)  I think they're right, although it was not crowded this morning.

Like I said, just a peek.  By the way, the Reagan parts of the library (including a piece of the Berlin Wall and Air Force One) are also worth visiting.