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

Monday, May 30, 2016

Shut. Up.

Seriously, no gripes about this weekend and I would LOVE to see it carry on through the week.


Relaxed and goal-less, dragon-less, sweat-less and fear-less.

In fact, I don't think I've been this lazy in years.

Well, maybe that's an exaggeration.   Hmmm...

No.  No, it has been years.

And I wasn't totally lazy.  Just - I dunno - absorbed in what I chose to do.  So much that I couldn't be distracted by the mundane.

Several years ago my printer died and I bought an Epson.  The one that had died was an Epson and had been a good printer.  Until it died.  So I went with the brand again.  It was decent for black-and-white stuff.  But color?


I take pictures.  Lots of pictures.  When I want prints or enlargements, I shoot them over to Costco's awesome color laser system (costs less than ink and paper here) and pick them up on my next shopping trip.  Easy and cheap and great quality.

But I like to do other stuff with my pictures, and this Epson couldn't even make decent prints, much less do anything fun.  So, right around Christmas QVC had a sale on a Canon color printer.  I remembered my daughter-in-law advising me to always buy a camera from a company known for its quality lenses, and I assumed the same advice would serve for deciding on this printer.  Canon makes good lenses and would not want its name on a printer that would make pictures taken with those lenses look bad.  Under a hundred bucks.  WIFI.  I still prefer to take pictures with my Nikon Coolpix instead of the phone, but with this WIFI printer I could print pictures off my phone.  Or tablet.  Or even the camera, as it has a dock for the memory card.

So I bought it.  And it sat in a box in the studio for six months.  Until this past Friday.

It was a little tricky, but I managed to get it set up.  My desktop is in The Sanctuary (my pretty little bedroom), but now it can converse with the printer that is living in a white wicker cabinet in the studio.

Best. Pictures. Ever.

The inspiration to finally dig it out and get it working was this.

(Cue herald trumpets and the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, please.)

 It's an Erin Condren Planner.

I love it.  I've tried lots of planners and even tried to use my phone to keep track of my life, but this is the first that actually works for me.  After a neutral life, I crave color and this thing is full of it.  I love the three divisions (which I use as morning, afternoon and evening) because I can shorthand my lesson plans in the top tier, essential when I need to make an appointment that would take me out of class.  And I need the kinesthetic boost from dragging a pencil across the nap of the paper to help things get organized in this overactive head of mine.

But that's not the best.

I learned about this thing from a friend in Juneau.  (After she turned me onto Sue Coccia quilt fabric - ka-ching.)   Once it was delivered (so cute - fancy box holding my order wrapped in mauvetissue paper with a seal that said "Enjoy!") I wrote to her and said, "OK, it's here.  Now what do I do?"  Her response was to go to etsy and go broke on decor.

I had not known this.  This is the new art craft.  People spend quality time (and bucks) dressing these things up.  Like these:


Don't get me wrong.  I think these are wonderful and could easily see myself spending hours (and lots of $$$$$$) doing this.  I've got the thousands of dollars worth of scrapbooks to prove that I'm not immune.  But I will be strong.  I have too many things to enjoy to spend this much time (or $$$$$$) decorating my planner.


Some of these artists publish free "printables," so on Friday - to test my new printer, of course - I downloaded one (or two or three or ten) and printed them off.

Oh, so perfect.

I was up until 2:00.  AM.

Then my mom drove over to spend a couple of days with me.  She sat in the studio recliner and knit me a gorgeous black and red cowl collar (for when I go out on the boat in the Channel to find whales or dolphins or just for restoration) and I sat and printed up stuff.  After a few hours of printable fun (which I then had to figure out how to store) it dawned on me that with this new printer I could adjust the settings and print out my own pictures - as well as those I find and love on the internet - and stick them into this book.

And that archivist soul of mine couldn't stand it.  I had to print print print photos and create tiny copies to plug into this planner, which is now not only my working planner but a memory keeper as well.

The three little pictures are from my morning garden inspection.  It will be fun to compare them to the ones I take at the end of summer.

I haven't spent so much time so totally involved in anything since ever.  All day Saturday and all day Sunday.  I promised myself that I would do chores today (Memorial Day holiday Monday) but it is now 4:00 PM and I haven't done squat.

Oh, well, it's not THAT bad.  I got my laundry washed Saturday morning (not folded but it's dry) and baked a couple of loaves of sourdough bread (after two weeks of feeding Audrey III the Starter every day this was only mediocre).  I watered my potted plants and took a few minutes to enjoy walking the Sunset Garden outside the studio. 

Water lily 'Mayla' purchased a few months ago and planted in a too-shallow pot.  Almost lost her. Had to go buy this large pot for her and she is much happier (four new leaves this week).  She is destined for the pond after this summer's serious restoration project.

Brugmansia 'Charles Grimaldi' doing what brugs do.  Growing like a monster, blooming like crazy and smelling divine.  He'll be over my head by the end of summer.

One of five 'Disneyland' roses, three in this space, happily blooming.  Eight more days of school and then I can get out here and clean and re-arrange so that this is the beautiful sunset-color garden I envisioned.  The plants are doing their parts beautifully.

But other than that.  Nada.  Just two quiet women doing something we love - working with our hands - for two days.  Mom left yesterday in time to beat the sunset.  I had a new idea this morning (like a dummy) so haven't completed any of the chores I had promised myself I would take care of.

Guess I'd best get to them.  Going to be a busy week.  Eighth grade winding down to promotion so special presentations, yearbooks, awards, Magic Mountain on Friday.  I'm chaperoning that, then turning around and taking Mom for her monthly visit to Disneyland on Saturday.  After the weekend is the last week of school for me.

I have big plans to get a lot done this summer.  As always.  And Jury duty starting the 27th.  Keep a good thought that they don't need me, please.  I really want to get my garden groomed, my studio cleaned and at least two projects completed.

My birthday week starts with a solo trip to Disneyland on the 18th and maybe a stop at the Sunland Water Nursery for another plant (if I can afford it) on the way home.  For sure taking an Azure Seas whale watch trip on my actual birthday (the 22nd) with a side trip to Roxanne's Make A Wish quilt shop in Carpenteria for some of her original mermaid fabric.  Again, I have to see what the budget will allow but it's a milestone birthday and I want to celebrate myself.

Sunday, May 29, 2016


It's hard to get a belly laugh out of me, but this did it.

My son (in the very back) just finished a nutrition class at the local community college.  (He already has a BA in anthropology.)  To help him study for the class, he and friends did a weekly podcast called The Weekly Daily Value Podcast.

It was decent nutrition information (he got an "A" in the class) sprinkled generously with "fuck" and "shit" and more than a little random humor.

Our lifelong friend Ian (in the chair) is a script writer, and as they played with the podcast they had the idea for a radio show (I think on the lines of Radio Mystery Theater) with nutrition information woven through.

I don't know what they ended up with, but this promo shot had me laughing out loud.

(Yes, that is a live tortoise.  Legally permitted and everything.)

Can't wait to hear this.

Sunday, May 22, 2016


Earworm.  This has been streaming all day.  Although I first heard it in the Lesley Ann Warren version, the Julie Andrews is, of course, my favorite.

But the world is filled with zanies and fools
Who don't believe in sensible rules
And won't believe what sensible people say
And because these daft and dewey-eyed dopes
Keep building up impossible hopes
Things are happening every day

Saturday, May 21, 2016


Nothing like hopeful plans to turn things around.

My current normal, happy state of living was triggered six years ago by a series of events that brought me Julia Cameron's book, The Artist's Way.  I worked the program and, as the friend who recommended it warned me, I was transformed. 

A series of events I call The Dominoes was triggered, taking me through an adventure in personal growth via the written word to the life I (usually) live now.  (A rather verbose way to try to say, "I read a lot of good stuff.  And learned from it.")

In many ways I am not the person I was, just released to be the person I have always been.

I am not who I was, but not yet who I am.


I'm approaching a transition.  Approaching retirement that will begin at a Masteryear.  Now moving through a year that I've been warned will be a year of Liberation.  (So far it has been and I have no doubt that will continue.)

I am driftwood.  No sense of what's coming, trusting that it will be what's best for me.  Ready to float with the water, absorbing as I flow around the boulders.

In this state, it occurred to me that it might be time to re-work The Artist's Way.  I am sure my new perspective and perceptions would make it a totally new experience and might help me stay focused on the real world challenges I continue to meet.  I pulled my highlighted, sticky-tabbed and margin-noted copy of the book and just skimmed the first few pages.  Yep.  Definitely a different read. 

But I was going to need a new copy.  In college I could never use the "used" books because I would be distracted by someone else's highlighting and margin notes.  I can see that if I try to re-use this copy of The Artist's Way I will have the same problem.  The old me - and her perspective - will keep the new one from getting what she needs. 

Look what I found on the way to a new copy:

Synchronicity at its best.

A slightly altered program for those of us at this transition in our lives.


I already had my summer stack started.  I started meditating in the mornings and reached a point where I wanted to learn more about the process.  In the same week that I came to that conclusion I read Sara Bareilles' book, Sounds Like Me,  and Elizabeth Gilbert's Big Magic, and both quoted Pema Chodron.  When the Universe sends me a message like this, I gotta follow the advice (hasn't failed me in six years) so I picked up three of her books.  I just finished Comfortable with Uncertainty and while I don't think I'll be buying into her teachings 100%, I am learning and looking forward to reading the other two I added to the summer stack.

In my lovely, local, independent bookstore (a rare treasure indeed) I got into a long conversation (that extended into the afterhours) with the owner during which we discovered that while we define our spirituality in different vocabulary, we both have the same gut-level belief system.  Based on what we learned about each other, she gifted me with an autographed copy of Buddhist Boot Camp by Timber Hawkeye (and I bought his second book, Faithfully Religionless.)  I've read the first selection of Buddhist Boot Camp and decided I was getting too much out of it to try to read it during the last insane month of school.  (Hmmmm... or maybe this is EXACTLY what I should be reading?)  .

I'm a fan of actress Kate Hudson, so picked up her book, Pretty Happy, off the Costco bulk book table and was happily surprised to find that it is the perfect addition to this next-step summer.  It's also a workshop-style read with a workbook element, similar to The Artist's Way.  (Honest.  Anyone who thinks they will "get" these books without working the exercises is nuts.  Don't waste your money if you're not willing to spend some time with pencil and paper.)

I have the third of the Michael Newton soul books loaned to me by the SPED instructional aide who works in one of my classes.  (Yeah, these last six years have brought me into some really weird stuff that just smells like truth.)  Funny story:  She had been in my class since September.  She was assigned to a boy who was on spectrum and so severe that he SHOULD have been placed in a special ed class, but his parents insisted that he could do what the other kids do.  So he was placed in my class with this aide, who was told to let him sink or swim so everyone could see if the parents were right.  In short, the aide had nothing to do.  Every day - EVERY DAY - ended the same.  She would walk over to me and say, "I don't really know what I'm supposed to do here."  THEN after the first report card they moved the kid to another teacher with a completely different (more regimented) teaching style to see if he could pass that class, but left the aide in my room.  Our end-of-class conversation was even more dramatic because - REALLY? - we didn't know what she was supposed to be doing there.  She just was there, every day, coming over to say, "I don't know why I'm here."

Then, one day I had my new daily planner out on my desk and she came over to ask about it.  Turned out, she had been thinking of buying one by that designer, and did I mind if she took a look.  She ended up buying one, and at least for a couple of weeks we had something to talk about.  Talking about the planner and how we were using it led us into other interests.  To make the story just a little shorter, it turned out that we are both in to weirdo spirituality stuff.  Had absorbed a lot of the same books and come to the same conclusions.

At least we now understood what she was doing in my room.  We were supposed to connect.

So, she loaned me her copy of Michael Newton's Life Between Lives (which I will have to return and get my own copy so I can highlight and sticky-tab) and somewhere around here is a slightly read copy of Michael (wow, look at all the Michaels) Talbot's The Holographic Universe to finish, as well as a shopping bag full of half-processed books including Lynn McTaggert's The Bond (read The Field and The Intention Experiment early in The Dominoes). 

Part of my summer plan is to get myself a pair of dark lens reading glasses and a new beach chair and get myself as close to the sea as I can to catch up on my reading and writing.  Our local library is another option; the closest thing we have to a resort around here and as a spa, the price is right.

But Julia is at the top of the list.  I got back into Morning Pages a couple of months ago (I write directly after my fifteen-minute meditation sessions; wow, that added an interesting kick to those daily writings).  But I never did perfect the Artist's Date and I pre-dated the walking element (hope my knee can handle it).  There is a new memoir assignment that the archivist in me is already itching to enjoy.

Yes, back into my usual optimistic mode.  Feels so much better here than that other place.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

C & B Day

Crash.  And.  Burn.

I hate it when this happens.

I've been doing the work for over five years now.  I meditate.  I write.  I think deep thoughts and silly ones, too.  I am usually living in a state of appreciation for the life I've built.

My home isn't luxurious, but I neither want nor need luxury.  It needs work, but is beyond comfortable.  I am confident of being able to give it the TLC it needs after my property sells.  It will be a little at a time, but that's OK.  My little bedroom and my bigger studio are filled only with things that make me smile.  Outside my windows are my flowers and blue skies filled with pretty white clouds.  Or deep gray, water-filled ones.  Which is fine, too.

I have the best family ever.  I have old friends and new friends who love me. I have a job I don't hate and I teach 150 of the greatest young people you'll find anywhere.  Each year.  The kind I trust with my future.

But every once in a while...

I get tired of the work.  I get tired of thinking, of feeling.  I get bored with writing and all of the faults in my life pour in on me at once.

I call these the Crash and Burn days.

They are triggered by a variety of things.  But when I examine the feeling, it usually gets the name


I would feel the fishes and the whales and the sea urchins and maybe the merfolk.


I'm rarely lonely.  In fact, I'm now of the opinion that lonely has nothing to do with others and everything to do with simply being detached from myself.

But Lonesome is something else altogether and has everything to do with the absence of others.

I tried to connect with colleagues.  I do like my colleagues.  But socializing is something else.  One Friday I went to the weekly Mexican food gathering of singles.  All women.   It turned out all they wanted was to complain about our job.

What a waste of a good Friday night.

Then someone I've known for decades invited me to join her group of singles for potluck.  Turned out the others couldn't make it and it was just she and I at the table.  Which would have been fine except that she'd had so much wine that she fell asleep over the entrĂ©e.  At the table.  In the middle of my sentence.  After listening to her chatter for...  well, she's a good gal, but it was not an experience to repeat.  Later I overheard her and the other singles talking about a party coming up that they were calling a "Wine and Whine" party.  Seriously and honestly.  I was relieved not to be included.

Not lonesome.  Just makes me want to travel.

Last week I did something I have never done.  I was having a rough time wrapping my head around something that had happened the week before.  It had profound spiritual significance for me but I couldn't pull all the pieces together.  I've never called a friend for help with something like this, but I did.  I knew we have similar spiritual weirdness, so I thought at least she wouldn't make the sign of the cross and run from the restaurant.  We had a lovely time chatting over corn chips and tiny tacos for 2.5 hours.  But in the end, I was no closer to the understanding I wanted and she was trying to figure out who she could set me up with.

I don't want a date.  Well, I do, but not that kind.  I don't plan to marry, which I guess is good because single men are rare in this community.  A few years ago a dear friend suggested I try online dating and I told her I wasn't ready for that.  So, she set up a fake account on the site she had suggested to check some guys out for me.  A few days later she told me what she had done and reported that I was right, I wasn't ready for that.  I remember I just smiled and said, "They just want to get laid, right?"  She grimaced and nodded.

I don't need "servicing."  And I actually stopped going to the gym to avoid a man I'd known for forty years who, after my husband died, apparently decided I needed someone to tell me how to live my life.  He is mentally disabled from a massive stroke so I didn't have the heart to tell him off; just avoid him by not working out.  Which sounds stupid, but it's who I am.  I don't like hurting people's feelings but even more don't like people thinking I need someone to "take care of me."  Or, sometimes, I realize that the man I'm talking to actually is looking for someone to take care of him.  Like another guy at the gym who, after assuring me in three different conversations that he "does not date," asked one afternoon, "Why don't you come fix my dinner."  BTW, I introduced myself to him years ago, but he doesn't know my name.  Just resorts to "Teacher Lady" whenever we run into each other.

So, anyway, I decided to rant this out here.  I tried to find some art for the page, hence the pretty pictures, but to me they just reflect places I would love to be.  If I was sitting in that beach chair, or at the end of that pier, I would feel my connection to the people of the sea and would not be lonesome at all.

It is time to get ready for my trip to see my family.  My nephew is graduating.  I can't believe it.  And tonight is his final concert.  Bassoon in orchestra, and drumline.  Rather than dinner last night, I pick up my mom for a late lunch.  I anticipate hugs from her, from the staff at the restaurant and all followed by a fabulous concert.

But just to make sure I kick this mood, I will indulge myself with a small, special cupcake somewhere.  Twenty pounds down is nothing to sneeze at, so I will not buy a whole cake to worry over all week. 

But a tiny bundt will be compensation for surviving this mood.

Absolutely nothing lonesome about a beautiful full moon.  Just helps me feel connected to our beautiful Universe.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016


I will experience this live.

Sunday, May 08, 2016

Mother's Day Bliss

Soap Opera to Sanity.

I've probably shared this before, but some years ago an old friend sent a short email in which she apologized for not being more proficient at typing and ordered me to call her and tell her about "the soap opera of [my] life."

I laughed out loud.  Up to that point I had considered myself simply a boring suburban teacher/housewife.  But after a few minutes of reflection, I realized that, yeah, I was living a soap opera.  A few days later I did talk to her and after I dumped some of my sadness, frustration and rage she noted that for all the years we had worked together, she had seen me as one of those "quiet desperation" types.

Yeah.  She's insightful that way.

It took inspiration from someone special and a lot of reading and study and sometimes painful practice, but while I may not be completely out of the drama, I am finding more and more ways to indulge myself in peace.

Such was my pre-Mother's Day.  Total self-indulgence.  Got out of bed a good hour or more after the alarm, and stayed in my flannel jammies for another hour.  After my 15-minute meditation I spent a few minutes in water therapy (watering my potted plants), then tucked into The Happy Room for as long as I wanted.

Now that it has been duly gifted, I can share what I "worked" on.

My mom has fallen several times this year and so we encourage her to use her walker as often as possible.  She has assured me that when she goes down her driveway to the mailbox she uses it and carries a grocery bag for her mail.  So, I made her a bag for her walker.  (Thumbs up to the stitch-y friends who still stop by.  Yes.  Something begun and completed with the month. :) )  The cross-stitched alphabet is from a Cross Stitch Crazy chart on 18-ct Aida.  It decorates the front pocket of the bag.  The rest of the bag is Susan Winget fabric (Mom is addicted and I'm right behind her.)  The flaps button around the the cross bar.

She loved it.  Already has it mapped out (outgoing in the pocket, incoming in the bag).  I admitted to her that part of my deep, dastardly plan was to inspire her to use the walker more often because it is  prettier now.

It was so much fun to do.

I gave up television over six years ago.  I'm happy to report I have no idea who is eating whom or how many guests were murdered at some medieval wedding.  But I do spend way too much time in the facebook community.   I don't apologize.  It's where I mingle with my friends and family.  But I really should limit my mingles to once through, not two hours worth.  So I've been tempting myself away with new routines.

My alarm goes off at 5:30 and 6:00 am.  I am not a morning person, so it was usual to simply turn off the music of the first alarm, then stay in bed checking facebook on the Ipad and playing a game until 6:30 when I would get up, get dressed, make my lunch, make a breakfast drink and then spend an hour or more checking in on facebook.  Again.

Now in the mornings I get up, Ready the Day (make lunch and lay out clothes for work), then tuck in for my meditation.  From there I come to the page.  Three pages, actually, with my breakfast drink.  Once page three is completed, I get dressed and head to work.

I don't even turn on the computer most mornings.

Used to be when I got home from work I'd come immediately to facebook for an hour, then eat something for dinner, then come back to facebook for the evening, then get ready for bed and tuck in with the Ipad until I was ready to fall asleep.  Now I eat my dinner as soon as I get home (which makes it easier to avoid snacking), do whatever chores I feel like doing, take my shower and jammie up early.  I then tuck into the studio and under a headset (lately it's been the score from the movie Emma) with some kind of hand therapy for a couple of hours.

The cross-stitch birds have been the latest.

On my self-indulgent pre-Mother's Day Saturday, I tucked in with the Mother's Day project. My score for the day was Ashley Broder's new album, Two Trees.  At one point I looked to the window and this was my view.

Beautiful, happy music.  Delightful completed piece of stitchery going to my best friend.  Lovely fabric.  And my younger son tending the beginnings of his summer garden.

Simply bliss.

Most years I look forward to summer, but this year I'm practically giddy imagining the fun of it.  No real trip plans - not much discretionary money until my property sells - but between the garden, the studio and my writing plans it should be a productive and rewarding summer.

And quite possibly my last summer break.

If I can get my Dollar Ducklings in a row, I will be able to retire after next year.  I've got my spirit set on a Disney cruise to Alaska summer 2017 to celebrate not only my retirement but my 66th birthday - a Masteryear.  Still contemplating what I will do to celebrate my life up to that special year.  The project that always comes immediately to mind is to finish the novel I started a few years ago.  I think I want to pull together a half dozen special projects (quilts, stitchery, garden) to complete during that year.  Much to reflect on this year to be ready for the blow out.

And then - I've been told - I will travel to Scotland the following year, in my 67th year.  Lanarkshire, Biggar.  Stirling Castle.  Bagpipes and ancestors.  I have a lot of studying to do (and saving $$$) but I want it to be a reality.  I found a little farm I want to stay at, and there is a folk festival in Biggar every October so that might be a good date.

Meanwhile, I want to continue this lovely new ritual-of-the-day.  It's been too long without beauty and texture running through my fingers.

Who wouldn't get addicted to this?

Saturday, May 07, 2016

Mother's Week

Thanks to a friend, I got to celebrate a Mother's Day week (at least in my own mind) this week.  Tomorrow is the official day, and I will celebrate as I please.  First breakfast made by my son. Then  spend part of the day with my mom.  I will take her to Costco to pick up some food and stuff, then we will go to our favorite restaurant for linner.  Then home to prep for the next work week.

And so today is for complete self-indulgence.

I suffer from what a friend once called "option paralysis."  So many soul-restoring things to do.  So hard to decide.  So I often do nothing.

Not today, though.  A little bit of time on the butterflies.  I may bake up a sourdough carrot cake.  One piece for me (almost 20 pounds down - again - and I don't want to stop that momentum), shared at home and then at work.  That would be OK.

Mostly, though, today I crave the studio.  Open the blinds, water the deck garden outside if needed and then just hunker into some handwork.

Didn't hurt that this popped on facebook.  Some music - and some musicians - just bring me joy.


Thursday, May 05, 2016


And a little lonesome space is filled again.