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

Sunday, October 23, 2016


...and lows.

Tumultuous week.

 Made our monthly pilgrimage to Disneyland.  It was an OK day. 

High: We had a nice breakfast at the Rancho del Zocalo

Low:  We had hoped for a pre-show set by our favorite piano player at the Golden Horseshoe, but it was not to be.  It was entertaining when the CM dumped a load of ice in front of the door.  I suggested to the crew that we should all sing "Do You Want to Build a Snowman?", but they were not amused.

High:  Sheriff Woody was out for a stroll and spied my mother, the stud magnet.

High:  As we waited for the piano set that was not to be, we got to listen to the Silverdollar Six playing on the rooftop balcony.  Always a treat.  I noted this time that the trumpet player sounds like Kermit Ruffins.  Toby is always a beloved old friend, Dad's favorite park musician.


Low:  We had planned our day around a trip to DCA to see the new Frozen stage show.  They only did one show that day, and we had already missed it.

High:  I got my chance to ride the new Luigi's Tires ride.  I think this may be my new favorite ride at DCA.  It is adorable.  And while it seems boring from the sidelines, looks deceive.  Every time these little cars move in their dance, the rider gets a little jerk to the side.  Or front.  Or back.  Or other side.

Then a double pirouette at the end.

High:  They were hosting a preview of Moana in the Bug's Life Theater.  I am more excited about this movie that I've been for any movie (Even Star Wars VII) in a long time.  The preview was about ten minutes, and I was delighted to note they had managed to choreograph it to the Bug's Life effects.

High:  Hatter was his usual charming, attentive self to Mom.  Even loaned her a quarter to tap.  (Didn't let her keep it, though.)

High:  Last set before leaving.

Low, low and triple low:

We've started a new tradition.  We leave the park early, then head to Knott's Berry Farm for a famous chicken dinner. 

Totally forgot about this.

Three hours.  THREE HOURS from Disneyland to Knott's, not counting the twenty minutes I had to sit at the end of a full parking lot row trying to merge into the line of traffic trying to leave the full lot onto the street that was bumper to bumper as far as the eye could see.

High:  Once I bullied my way into the line and made the turn, within the short row someone almost right next to the handicapped row backed out.  We got into the restaurant without a problem, enjoyed our charming server and delicious meal and got home just as the rain was starting.  Mom suggested I stay, but it cleared up enough for me to get safely home, then rained most of the night.

High: Repeat: rained most of the night.

Low:  As usual, my students did not pay attention to my directions on an assignment even though I told them they were using the most important article of the year and I wanted them to read it carefully.  Had to take another day for them to correct their mistakes, but none of that was as awful as the worst low ever.

Low Low Low:  Last year I had as a student a delightful, curly-haired blonde boy with bright blue eyes.  In the wee hours between Monday and Tuesday, his stepfather shot and killed his mother (while he and his three siblings were in the house) then turned the gun on himself.  The stepfather died a few days later.

It's a horrible, helpless place to be as a teacher.  The best the school could do was to have a couple of dress-in-support days.

High:  It did cheer me up to learn that Carrie Newcomer, my new entertainment crush, will be close enough to enjoy this coming Friday.  I've got my ticket and am looking forward to the drive down the PCH right after school Friday.  I should be able to get there in time for a fast food dinner and then her concert in a famously intimate venue.  REALLY excited.

High: speaking of entertainment crushes, my younger son played at Manhattan, a fine food restaurant down the hill from my house.  He plays occasionally with Michael Falcone, an amazing piano player/singer.  Michael plays and sings EVERYthing starting with  big band standards and into Michael Jackson, Billy Joel and Elton John with some fifties and sixies rock and roll thrown in.

Low:  Once the dinner hour has ended, this place takes on a bar atmosphere.  I hate it.  I had friends there, all of whom ended up too close, too slurring and made me too worried about their safety getting home.  My son may not play there again (right now it sounds like he may never play again anywhere; tired of lugging the set everywhere for tips).  While it saddens me that he's considering giving up music, I won't miss drunk night at the Manhattan.

High:  Before the dinner and performance, I went to the Western Foundation of Vertebrate Zoology or, as Camarillo calls it, the bird museum.  I'd never been there.  It's pretty impressive, although I prefer my living birds to the preserved birds in the extensive display.  Add a mariachi band and the atmosphere was upbeat.  Best part was that I ran into one of my dearest retired teacher friends.  Oh, and I was able to identify the flock of tiny birds that swoop into my orange trees to hang upside down and peep peep peep as they clean off all the tiny insects that are infesting my drought-challenged old trees.

Low:  For three years I have been collecting pieces for a Maleficent costume for Halloween.  Life kept getting in the way, and this was the year (my last year of teaching) that I was going to make it work.  I got the bodice part of the dress halfway finished and tried it on.  I'm not sure it would have fit at all, and if it had it would have been indecent even for a bar, much less a middle school.  I admit it was somewhat satisfying - after struggling with the weird pattern - to just gather up all the offending pieces - fabric, partially completed dress, pattern - and dump them in the outside garbage can.   But now I have to be a Dalmatian.  (Most of the teachers are dressing as 101 Dalmatians for Halloween at school.)

And now it's time to finish my laundry and wrap this up, but I don't want to end on a low, so will tack these beautiful lyrics by Carrie Newcomer in her gorgeous song, "The Gathering of Spirits." 

Let it go my love my truest,
Let it sail on silver wings
Life's a twinkling that's for certain,
But it's such a fine thing
There's a gathering of spirits
There's a festival of friends
And we'll take up where we left off
When we all meet again.

I can't explain it.
I couldn't if I tried
How the only things we carry
Are the things we hold inside
Like a day in the open,
Like the love we won't forget
Like the laughter that we started
And it hasn't died down yet

Let it go my love my truest,
Let it sail on silver wings
Life's a twinkling that's for certain,
But it's such a fine thing
There's a gathering of spirits
There's a festival of friends
And we'll take up where we left off
When we all meet again.

Oh yeah, now didn't we
And don't we make it shine
Aren't we standing in the center of
Something rare and fine
Some glow like embers
Like a light through colored glass
Some give it all in one great flame
Throwing kisses as they pass

Let it go my love my truest,
Let it sail on silver wings
Life's a twinkling that's for certain,
But it's such a fine thing
There's a gathering of spirits
There's a festival of friends
And we'll take up where we left off
When we all meet again.

Just east of Eden
But there's heaven in our midst
And we're never really all that far
From those we love and miss
Wade out in the water
There's a glory all around
And the wisest say there's a 1000 ways
To kneel and kiss the ground
Let it go my love my truest,

Let it sail on silver wings
Life's a twinkling that's for certain,
But it's such a fine thing
There's a gathering of spirits
There's a festival of friends
And we'll take up where we left off
When we all meet again.

My goal is to be throwing kisses, but after last week I've just fanning the dying embers.

This week will be better and end in joy.

Saturday, October 22, 2016



September 12 I got one of those "if you like that you might like this" ads on facebook.  It was for a new album by some chick I'd never heard of.  But I was captured by the cover art and had to check it out.

Carrie Newcomer.

I guess a downside of an isolated life away from television and radio is to have never experienced this voice, this poetry before.

But I'm catching up.

She had posted a few songs on youtube (I shared them here) and every word resonated.  Every arrangement.  The instrumentation.

The album was released September 16 and I bought it online at midnight.  It's my singing in the car album.

I made her website a favorite and joined her facebook page.  She is from the Midwest (I think) and I've followed the route of her current tour.  Pretty close to home until this week.

POP came an ad for a Washington state appearance, and a little spark of hope lit.  I went to her site to see if she would land within a couple of hundred miles.  And within budget.

Total score.  She will be in Santa Monica THIS COMING FRIDAY.  Under thirty bucks.  Intimate setting at McCabe's on Pico.

Appears to be a good Italian restaurant a few doors up.  Going to drive down the coast right after school.  If the traffic isn't too bad I'll eat Italian.  If it is bad I'll skip dinner.

Overdue for an adventure into the big city.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Ben Folds

This is the most gorgeous song.  It always makes me wishful.  And teary.

He's going to be at a local theater tomorrow.   We're celebrating my younger son's birthday with Grandma so I wouldn't consider it.

I don't suppose he's bringing the choir anyway.  Theirs is my favorite arrangement.

Sunday, October 09, 2016

600 Papers.

I have not left my house in two days.  Progress report grades are due Tuesday and I got behind on grading what with one interruption or another.  Four assignments.  Six hundred papers.

I decided that it would be a good opportunity to wash not only my usual weekly laundry and the sheets but also the bed's undergarments.  And then got involved with the grades, bill paying, cleaning the hummingbird feeders and refilling, overfilling the pond (oops) again.

And forgot the wet bedding.  Until bedtime.

So, I have some time and decided to update my last trip to Disneyland.  I went by myself because I had some things I wanted to see, do, ride and I don't like leaving my mom sitting alone too long.  It was a smooth trip and a beautiful day.

My main reason for the trip was to ride the Haunted Mansion.  I love the Nightmare Before Christmas overlay and try to see (and photograph) it at least once a year.  This time the line was moving so quickly that I didn't have time to take too many pictures of the outside.

When a disabled person wants to board the ride, they stop it completely and this year I lucked out.  The stopped it when I was at the ballroom scene which gave me plenty of time to check out the gingerbread house (and smell it, too, as they were were pumping fragrance) and my favorite, the Christmas tree.  They've added an animatronic Sally this year and she was fluttering her eyelashes and doing the lovestruck leg lift.  Adorable.

It took so little time to ride the tour the Mansion that I was way too early for the first Laughing Stock show, so took advantage of the opportunity to get some photos of the New Orleans Square train depot.  The trains haven't been running for months because of the Star Wars Land construction.  I've always loved these trains (well, trains in general) and my family ended every visit to Disneyland with a trip around the park.  It was nice to have the time to leisurely document my favorite engine.

I spent a little time chatting with the engineer.  I asked if he had a story to share with me and he did not, but then said something quite lovely.  He said that when the engine is sitting as it has been, it is just a hunk of cold metal.  But when it is fired up and working, he said, "...it is a warm, breathing animal."  We agreed we are excited about the changes in the route, and he shared some speculations (I assume based on his experience in the park) about the changes.  If he's correct, it's going to be an even more awesome ride around the park.

Laughing Stock was fun as usual, and ended my time at Disneyland.  My second reason for visiting on this day was was to ride the new Luigi cars at Cars Land in Disney California Adventure.

The story of the ride is that Luigi's family has come to California for a visit and to celebrate, the family does the folk dances of the old country.  There are a dozen different dances, and I was hoping to enjoy at least three or four, but when I got there the ride was closed with no word when it would re-open.  Based just on the castmember carrying a container of disinfectant wipes, I'd guess someone couldn't handle the spins and turns and... 

Well, I decided to go on home.  Managed to hit my favorite restaurant for a big salad and get home before sunset for a relaxing evening with the dog.

It was so gorgeous outside today that I treated myself between stacks of papers with little trips into my fall garden.  Soon it will be time to cut stuff back, but for now it's all still looking pretty good.

Brugmansia 'Creamsicle'  Biggest bloom I've had so far, perfect form.

Looks like 'Frosty Pink' is going to be a sprawler.

That passion vine I don't like is doing great, of course.  At least the fritillaries like it.

Begonia 'Freddie.'  I guess I luck out with global warming.  For years by now this would be in shreds because of Santa Ana winds, but we don't get them like we did up until about five years ago.  Oh, we'll have a few days here and there, but they used to go on for weeks and beat everything to a pulp.

I was shocked and delighted to see that my narrow leaf milkweed is coming back...

Brugmansia 'Charles Grimaldi' (a treasure) and 'Insignis Pink.'  They are starting their slid into semi-dormancy and these are challenged because I forget to check this side yard for water during the heat.  Hanging in there, though.

This was a happy surprise.  I have three miniature roses from the Tiny Petals Nursery collection.  The original hybridizer and nurserywoman died a few years ago and a commercial grower got the rights.  They don't sell retail anymore so I take special care of these little gems.  This is a terrible picture, but these are perfect little buds about the size of my little fingertip.

Fall color on the hydrangea wall.  I'll start cutting these back next month for the winter.

As I said, I cleaned and refilled all the hummingbird feeders.  Found myself in a fight over one of them.  Had to laugh.  There are a total of six feeders, but they don't share well with others.

Better check the sheets.  Busy Red Ribbon Week next week, with some extra meetings.

Another trip to Disneyland Saturday with Mom.  We're both looking forward to our new tradition of chicken dinner at Knott's after Musical Chairs with the Mad Hatter.  Going to take her over to see the new Frozen stage show and will try again to dance with Luigi's cousins.

Saturday, October 08, 2016

Life's Soundtrack.

My sister is a gamer.  Her former husband used to tease her about leaving the music on.  He would say, "Life doesn't have a soundtrack."

Foolish man.

Life does have a soundtrack.  For me, it's a constant and - most of the time - a delightful companion.

I'm grading papers.  Lots of them.  I ran Maleficent in the computer next to me, then decided I wanted a love story with a happy ending.  There is no better one than August Rush.  All I want to do is watch the final scene over and over.

The music is all around us.   All you have to do, is listen.

Well, wow.


My friend Ezra posted this to my facebook timeline this morning.  You'd have to know Ez to understand why it made me cry.  He's a bit of a curmudgeon sometimes.  A lot of sometimes.

Thursday, October 06, 2016

Wednesday, October 05, 2016

Alan Watts - Why Your Life Is Not A Journey

We were supposed to sing and dance all along.