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

Saturday, February 28, 2015


Drowning my sorrows.

My opiate of choice is sugar. 

I'm actually thrilled that I never developed a tolerance for the bubbles in soda, that coffee (delicious as it smells) tastes like someone ran hot water through my fireplace ashes and that I experienced too many gatherings ruined by mean drunks to have the slightest interest in alcohol.  Except for a few minor side effects (painful inflammation of already sensitive joints,  serious depression, extreme fatigue and immediate, noticeable weight gain) sugar doesn't bother me.

When it is buried inside a generous portion of chocolate in ANY form,  I hardly notice it at all.

It was mostly an OK week with some outstanding parts.
Monday the vast majority of my students did exactly what they were supposed to do - write - and I was able to catch up on paperwork.  My desk stayed clear for the three days they wrote.  Thursday's lesson went well.  Friday was Genius Hour and I helped them link their blogs to my classroom blog, then left them to work on their projects.  Again, the vast majority did exactly what they were supposed to.  School was not an issue all week.
It was the AFTER school adventures that provided the contrast.
Not Monday.  Monday was outstanding.Monday I drove up to Santa Barbara to see my optician. It is time for new glasses.  Earlier this month my retinal surgeon announced that my retina is completely re-attached.  I need to make him cookies or something.  My vision is not good as new, but to have as much as I do is phenomenal.  My last couple of pair of glasses I ordered online, but because these will be - well - kind of funky I wanted to work one-on-one with pros and my ophthalmologist and optician in Santa Barbara (who I've been with for almost thirty-five years) are the best.  Short version:  I will need a pair of rather bizarre glasses for at least six months.  My right eye (surgery) is much more nearsighted now than the left.  I can already verify that the two eyes don't work together (which makes reading hard, which makes teaching hard) and the doctor says correcting the vision so they match better will make that coordination more difficult, so he ordered a special grinding process that would help with that. Can't wait to see what they look like or how weird they will make my eyes look.   Then, in six months he will look again (just after the surgeon looks again) and if I'm ready, he will replace my right lens (which has had a cataract developing for twelve years already) with one that will "fix" everything else.  I will still have the wavy lines issues, but my brain will take care of that eventually.  I've already noticed that I don't notice it very much, so am not concerned.
Absolutely gorgeous afternoon. The ride up was fantastic.  The ride home was glorious.  Ocean to my right and a bank of fluffy white clouds perched on the mountains on my left that turned progressively pinker and pinker in the sunset.  Listened to beautiful music and thought optimistic thoughts all the way home.  Simply doesn't get any better.
Wednesday was my appointment with the tax accountant.  It is always fun to visit with this character while he crunches numbers.  I had most of what he needed, so it was a simple process until he announced that I owed another $1900 on the federal and $1600 on the state.  I almost fainted, then pulled myself together and mumbled that I had a couple of paychecks between now and April 15 so should be able to make it.  We started talking about something else and I was explaining about all the unpaid bills my husband left me with including $1500 on our Utah HOA and how I had had to hold off on that one in order to prepay the 2014 taxes ($3400) in January.  He got all hold the phone on me, leaned across the table and said, "Wait a minute.  Did you pay those?"  I reminded him that he had sent me a coupon and so I had paid it, he smiled and said that my husband had always ignored them and so he didn't even think to ask me.  After a happy little keyboard dance he announced the new totals.  I would receive, in his words, a whopping $29 refund for the federal and owed less than $400 on the state.
Breathing is fun.
He still has to calculate a new number for withholding for me (which might be scary) but I've put that on the Universe's list of things to do.  One step at a time.
March is the month I've been looking forward to since September, the month when most of the past-dues (mostly huge totals) would be paid and I could finally see what my income was going to be and get caught up on my summer savings.  I've been offered an auto loan by my credit union and plan to buy the car I've been lusting over for two years, then drive it at the end of the month to Utah - first visit in over five years - for spring break.
So I was particularly unhappy when I got a call from the bank to which I've been writing checks for an equity line - $12,000 - that my husband had spent out.
And had not told me about.
The very nice bank lady shared a bit of news he also had not shared with me.
The complete payoff is due April 30.

Yeah, I had a problem with that.  After a few hours and a good night's sleep I was OK.  Hopeful, maybe even optimistic.  The nice bank lady suggested I could re-apply for the line and implied that I may want to consider a refi on the house.  Which I had already been thinking of because I didn't like having that equity line hanging out there.  There's a solution.  It's just going to take time, and eat up my afternoons for a while, talking to banks and credit union to find the right solution.

So I took great cheer in my anticipation of a whale watch trip scheduled for today.

When my son got home, he let his friends know that he was ready to "Say YES to any adventure."  An attitude this boring middle school teacher former housewife is trying to embrace.  So when this opportunity came up, I gave myself an enthusiastic "YES!"  I have a friend who used to work in Washington State with Orcas and she had suggested we do a whale watch this season, so I forwarded the information to her and she grabbed the discounted trip.

Yesterday she did some prep homework and broke the bad news.  Storm moving in and her contact at NOAA said they expected 4-8 foot waves.


I was really disappointed.

And my son noticed.  He had rehearsals in Santa Barbara today for a performance tonight, but took a moment from his day to text me.  "Do something happy for yourself today, Mom.  Be the water."

And so I took his great advice.  I was planning a Trader Joe's trip anyway - we needed milk, eggs and dog food - so I decided to go to the store in the next town over instead of ours.

Where there's a JoAnn's.

I took the back route through 12 miles of orange and lemon and avocado orchards.  Over Norwegian Grade with hillsides covered in yellow mustard and blue lupine.  Under a bright blue sky hung with white fluffy clouds.  Beautiful music blasting.

I found a great parking place in the crowded parking lot and treated myself to a leisurely stroll through the uncrowded store (they all must have been in the breakfast place.)  The spring Susan Winget fabric is in.  And now I have some.  And some of her beautiful boxes and some scrapbook embellishments.  The latest copy of Daphne's Diary from the UK, and a tiny gnome for a fairy garden pot I want to put together and a spool of delicious pink crochet thread so that I can make a little heart-shaped sachet I've been drooling over.  Everything on sale, on budget.

At Trader Joe's I managed to get everything I needed and added their Flourless Chocolate Cake (mostly chocolate and eggs, rather like a dry mousse) and some of their decadent chocolate, turbinado sugar and sea salt covered almonds.  And a handful of their traditional tribute to spring daffodil buds.

Four dozen of them.

Mostly restored, I came home and have spent a lazy day here and on facebook.  I'm getting ready to pull together all the Trader Joe's stuff into a pot of short ribs ala Lemonade (I LOVE that cookbook; turns this terrible cook into an icon) for tomorrow's dinner.  The storm that chased us off the whale boat is blowing in (glad we made that decision and MAY get to go next weekend after all) so I'm tucked in with my snoring dog (who also is back from Tennessee) for a quiet evening.

Next Saturday I meet friends at Disneyland Resort for the annual Visions Fantastic Scavenger Hunt.  A couple of weekends later I'll return to Disneyland with my mother for her birthday trip (83!).  I'll start making the rounds to solve my equity line issue and get my car loan and MAYBE have a new car for the Disneyland trip.  If my new glasses (ordered Thursday) are ready by Friday I might even be able to stay after dark.

Everything always works out.

All is well with me. After all.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Why do you wait...

... when there is so much to be gained?

Monday, February 09, 2015


My favorite quote ever.  It's been in my sidebar for years, but look at this treatment.

A friend recited it to my summer writing class from memory a few years ago.  Which was appropriate, as she got it from Farenheit 451.  I looked it up and found it credited to James Boswell, a Scots author (I'm part Scot) from 1777.  This artist gives credit to Samuel Johnson, so the search is on.  I've learned that Boswell was a fan and eventually a friend of Johnson and wrote several pieces in his honor including a biography.  I've ordered the first piece that may include this passage in hopes of finding the correct attribution.  Whichever man wrote it, it's an especially lovely quote.

I am so very lucky in my friendships.  Some have passed through, some have passed through and returned (always a thrill and delight).  For the most part my friends inspire me to live in joy and are a comfort when I am not quite there.

Which is less and less often.

Much going on here.  My younger son is returning from his adventure in Nashville.  His lessons are huge.  First, he will not again stoop to performance for the sake of performance.  He found the "music" he was required to duplicate unacceptable as music. Mostly, though, I think he learned that the magic he has always been able to make with music has more to do with the people he has played with than the music itself.

I am SO looking forward to attending his performances again in the near future.

He should be home Saturday.   I am excited to have him (and my puppy) back, at least for a while.  This man was raised in a home where tension overlay every day.  It's going to be a treat to get acquainted without that stress.