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, June 21, 2016


It's a milestone.

Having fun.  Great morning at Disneyland Saturday.  Breakfast at La Brea Bakery.  Got to ride Star Tours and visit my favorite scene.  Waited an hour for Hyperspace Mountain and was in too good a mood to feel anything worse than meh (yes, was disappointed).

FUNNIEST Laughing Stock show ever.  Oh my gosh, every one of the audience participants was hilarious, which made the cast even funnier.

Splash Mountain and then a lovely visit with a photopass photog who asked to take my picture after a delightful few minutes of me telling him about the Disneyland rose.  Still have that "hate to have my picture taken" combined with - as a friend said recently - must we "document my aging process" expression.   Oh well, everyone else loves it and so I must, too.

Left early to stop at a water plant nursery in Sunland but was disappointed there, so stopped at my favorite Restaurant for a consolation dinner.

Same restaurant for dinner Sunday then birthday party after.  So spoiled by my family.  Tomorrow is the actual day and I'm headed up the coast for a few hours.  Son is taking me to dinner after we share the DCI premier at a local theater.

For now, off to Weight Watchers to see what damage I've done this birthday week-o-sugar.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016


Got the video.  Watched it.  Twice.

I think I may have a new theme song.  Not as high on the list as "Don't Stop Me Now."  (Freddie!)  Or "My Life." (Billy!)  But it may creep up there pretty fast.

I won't give up...
I'll keep on making those new mistakes...
I'll get up and try again...

I wanna try everything even though I could fail.

Try everything.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Growing and Purging

What I keep.

I don't know whether to laugh at my stupid mistake or be pissed at my son for not communicating.  He and his friends come here every Sunday at 11:00 to record their radio theater podcast.  I knew he had a performance today in Santa Barbara at 3:00, but since he didn't tell me the recording session had been cancelled, I dutifully took the dog back into the studio so that he wouldn't be a freak as the cast arrived and recorded.  After about a half-hour, though, it was pretty quiet for a session, so I wandered out.

Must have been cancelled.  House empty.  Car gone.

Oh, well.  I got a little chore done.

Over the last couple of years there's been a lot of shifting around and the result is that the Happy Room - my studio - is a cluttered mess.  One of my goals for the summer is to get the surfaces cleared, the excess supplies stored and some projects completed before school starts.  To accomplish this, all the Stuff that is stacked here and there on the floor and on every flat surface must be dealt with.  For today's session I grabbed a pink binder that was sitting on top of something on top of something on top of something.

I recognized it.  As I've toddled along through these last  - now - six years of personal growth and transformation, I've run across articles and posters, poems and songs that have touched a deep belief and brought it to the surface, usually to be embraced.  As I've found the items, mostly on the internet, I've printed them off, slipped them into a page protector and stored them.  Some of the earliest I stored in this pink binder, thinking they might inspire me later in this project of self-acceptance and self-celebration.

As I suspected, most of the pieces I saved five years ago I have now grown beyond.  While I smile and feel appreciation for the wisdom they brought, the reflection that resulted, they are no longer relevant.  And so I pulled them from their plastic and set them aside for recycling.

I have to smile at what I kept.  A few examples...

This quote from Nathaniel Hawthorne, my favorite early American author:

Happiness is a butterfly, which when pursued, is always just beyond your grasp but which, if you will sit down quietly, may alight upon you.

Considering I was the delighted recipient of a REAL butterfly kiss this week, it seems appropriate to run across the quote again today.

The lyrics of an a cappella piece by the fabulous UK band, The Poozies.

The first short poem I read by Em Claire

"You see,
sometimes we are emptied.
We are emptied 
Life wants us to know

Sometimes when I sit down to write, what I write wants to be a poem.  I found this one - written probably about 2011-2012 -  in the pink binder:


I tremble on the edge,
When I take the next step
will I soar with the birds
or end my days a pile of crumbled bones?

Are my wings strong enough
to take the leap?

Because either way,
I'm better off than I am here
on the edge.

I've always been afraid of heights.

2011 was kind of a rough year.

"The Magnetism of Kindness" a wonderful article by Daniel Childiac.  http://www.radiolive.co.nz/The-Magnetism-of-Kindness/tabid/498/articleID/27616/Default.aspx.

Spread it around.

The Disney Service Basic:

I project a positive image and energy.
Look approachable
Look happy and interested
Model the Disney Look
Keep conversations positive

I am courteous and respectful to all guests, including children.

Make eye contact and smile
Engage in guest interaction
Treat guests as individuals
Greet and welcome each guest
Thank all guests and invite them back.

That's just the first two elements, but I thought if I replaced the word "guest" with "student," they are pretty good "basics" for a teacher, too.

Harrison Ford's "Got Milk" ad.

Because Harrison Ford.  (Proof that men get photoshopped, too.)

And the lyrics to this.  I don't think I've ever had a song touch so deeply into everywhere I live.

It's the heart afraid of breaking
That never learns to dance
It's the dream afraid of waking
That never takes the chance
It's the one who won't be taken
Who cannot seem to give
And the soul afraid of dying 
That never learns to live ...

Reaching out in love.

Saturday, June 11, 2016


Working on it.

Friday, June 10, 2016


School's out for summer.
I pretty much had my classroom packed up for the summer yesterday, so today was looking forward to a relaxed half-day before checking out.
Before the day had even started, a seventh-grader walked in, introduced herself as a former student's sister, and handed me an envelope.  Inside was a three page, handwritten letter that shook my world. 
To summarize, her sister, who I had as a student two years ago, had written to thank me for saving her life.
"I don't know if you knew..."  that when I had her she had been contemplating suicide.  Barely 13 and not sure she had anything to live for.  She credited my management style for giving her an opportunity to make friends in the class which, I'm happy to say, became a place of joy and friendship for her.  She wanted me to know of the joyful life she now lives.
I admit that I couldn't finish it at that time.  I read as much as I could - enough to see that she was all right now - before I tried to continue with my day.  I wrote her a brief email to thank her, to let her know that her letter was the most important letter of my teaching career and to promise to write more tomorrow about what her effort means to me.
I will do so.
In the meantime, today became a day of reflection.
It's hard, sometimes, to be the weird teacher.  The one who lets the students choose their own seats  and doesn't change the seating chart unless there's a problem.   The one who allows constant conversation during work sessions (I mean, since when are we guaranteed a silent environment to do our work?)  The one who won't accept late work - even for partial credit - and tells the students to keep their crappy textbook at home.  The one who uses a special answer document for the only two multiple-choice question tests of the year, the "scratcher" form that gives you points for your second choice and third choice and fourth choice answers so that it's really hard to fail the tests.  The one who gives more points for your family history and genius hour projects than any other project during the year.  The one who won't tolerate bullying but otherwise lets you scrap your problems out for yourselves.
And so I am beyond touched to hear that for this student, my style made a significant difference.  For her, for her family, for her community.  For her world.
I am proud and humbled at the same time.
I was able to complete the day.  I packed the car with things I will purge over the summer.  I took a ride on my friend's Vespa.  (We cracked up.  Two grandmas on a scooter taking an adventure around the block.  There was a police car at the stop sign and a fire engine at the lighted intersection.   On the ready!)  After school was a visit with my mom, and a comfort stop at the Michael's.
On the way out of the craft store I walked into one of the most stunning sunsets I've ever seen.  I didn't want to leave it, but had left my glasses at home and needed to beat it home before full dark.


And was delighted to find that the sunset was still fired up when I got there.

This may be my last summer break.

I think it's starting off just fine.

Thursday, June 09, 2016


Why, yes.

I'm bummed that my favorite poem - "Whistle" - by IN-Q has been pulled.  It was the first I'd heard him.  Before he got huge.  But this recent one is lovely.

 When I went looking for "Whistle" to try to post it back here, I found this one.

I think Adam has fallen in love. 

Wednesday, June 08, 2016

Butterfly Kisses.

Another Life Lesson.

One of my goals is to learn to stop wallowing.  Yesterday's post was me wallowing in some disappointments.  Happily, it is difficult for me to get too deeply into them anymore.  I whined for a while, then posted the whine here, then interacted on facebook for a while, then gave up and went into the Happy Room to stitch.  Then I got cleaned up and went to bed.  (There were no brownies.)

And got up this morning to find that one of the Monarchs had emerged.  I gathered him up and took him out to the duranta.  The blue flowers are favorite nectaring flowers of the butterflies and bees and I like to release the Monarchs there so they can get a sip if they need it before taking off.

He immediately left the flower and flew back to me, clinging to my chest.  I assured him he would not be happy there, plucked him gently free and returned him to the flowers.  This time he left the flowers, then fluttered around my face for a second before attaching himself to my lower lip.  He stayed there for several seconds before I lifted him back to the flowers.

Note to self:  butterfly kisses feel different when delivered by a real butterfly.

Then I headed for work.  It was the last day that I would spend in the classroom with my eighth graders.  I did some purging in preparation for closing the classroom for the summer.  At the beginning of my third period class, a small mob entered the classroom with a gift for me.

I can hardly stand it.  I was not able to not shed a happy tear.  Or maybe two.  The whole group was boys, and I didn't want to embarrass them so I got myself under control.

It's a chair.  They made me a chair.  With their own hands.  Using nothing but hand tools.

One of my colleagues did an elective this year called Contemporary Issues.  It was a year-long class and he knew there was no way they would last a whole year on the online news assignments, so he (another history teacher) developed a research topic that would culminate in a Contemporary Issue.

The history of production.

The kids first had to go collect rocks and sticks and other natural materials to create tools like the cavemen did.  For the second step they had to carve something out of a block of plaster using only plastic spoons and metal files.  This represented the Artisan period.   For the third stage they were allowed to use hand tools like saws and miter boxes and screwdrivers to make these chairs.  Finally they were to design something that would be produced on a 3-D printer.

And then a handful of lucky teachers were awarded a completed chair.  Their teacher told me later that they made all the choices; all he did was provide supplies and instruction.  They even picked a piece of  adorable princess fabric for the seat.  Which, they pointed out "is soft."

I had one of the boys who worked on the chair sit in it for a picture.  He said that he learned a lot from this experience.  Like that he never wanted to be a carpenter.  "It's hard!  It was hard to build that chair!"

But the day's happy surprises didn't end there.  Oh, no.

One of my other students (sitting in that class when the chair was delivered) presented me with a menehune necklace from the Aulani Resort  in Hawaii.  

She and I share a love of things Disney and we both hope to visit Aulani someday.  She chose the hotel for her Genius Hour project (and now I know how many years in the future it will have to be before I can afford it).  She is such a generous soul.  On the day of her presentation she gifted me with a Mason jar gift that included rubber stamps in my initials, two silk plumeria hair clips and a handful of [imitation] sand dollars, some drilled for buttons.

I really did cry, then.

My students don't usually give gifts on last day, but this year they did.  Some Starbucks cards, a movie card for the local theater and a scented candle.

And lots of hugs.

I can't get over it.

Don't want to.

Tuesday, June 07, 2016


That is all.

I only saw the movie, The Matrix, once.  I was most fascinated by Cypher, the man who decided it was actually better in the matrix than in the real world and brokered a deal to go back on his terms.  I could totally see that.

I hadn't thought about it for years until Friday.  I was chaperoning the 8th grade trip to Magic Mountain again.  As always, I had stationed myself in the relatively quiet spot behind the Internet CafĂ© and beside the fountain in front of the waterfall for the day.  I spent my meal ticket on a Cobb Salad and a glass of ice water, fighting all day the 4" x 4" square brownie that sent a subliminal song of comfort through the refrigerated case, around the corner and out the door to me.  Once upon a time I had that spot to myself, and this time I was armed with writing paper, the iPod, and a good book in hopes of some solitary time to indulge my simpler desires.  It was not to be, as I'd made the mistake several years ago of telling my friends on the faculty about this sacred spot.

Company.  All day.

It's all right, really.  I am so lucky in my colleagues.  My friends.

One of them has two children, and the younger will be a senior next year.  He is on the autism spectrum and commented to his mom that he had had a wonderful junior year and was scared about senior year and beyond.

She shared that he had told her that he "...just wanted to live in his fantasy world again."

I so get that, kid.

My fantasy world is much lovelier than the reality that bites.  And today I am feeling particularly unarmed.

I need.  I want.

So much out of reach, at least for now.

I may make it through unscathed, but there is a strong possibility that I will seek that comfort after all.

Saturday, June 04, 2016

Life lessons.

1.  You never get tired of the mom stuff.  Nothing sweeter than compliments on your kids.  Tonight I got the best kind.  One person telling me what a nice man my youngest is.  Even better, he is playing for a singer/piano player who is apparently so excited to have found my kid as a drummer that he could hardly get the words out and paid him a tremendous compliment -  "Never worked with a drummer like him - he LISTENS!"  (Almost as good as my favorite compliment for him, "He has no ego.")

2.  You hang out in bars, you get hit on by drunks.   This may be a good experience if you are also drunk, but for one of the perpetually sober, this is unpleasant.

3.  On the other hand, when the bartender is one of your sons' lifelong friends, sitting at the bar is an extremely sweet experience.  Also nice to know the band and the bartender got your back.

I don't know...

... how to do this.


Life's an adventure.  Not for the faint of heart.

Wednesday, June 01, 2016

I love this.