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

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Grateful news.

Perfect day for a drive up the coast to my ophthalmologist.  The sea was a gorgeous blue.

I've know this doctor and his optician for 35+ years.  Got my refraction and had a delightful visit with the optician first, then a catch up and exam by the doctor.  I told him the "spectacular" story re: the retinal surgeon.  The ophthalmologist took a long, careful look and said that my story is beyond spectacular, it's a triumph.  "When I look at your retina...  it's not pretty in there." 

Which makes me even more grateful that I can see as well as I do.  Which is better than ever.

And he took me off the twice-a-year checks.  Back to annual.

Stopped on the way home at my favorite quilt shop for some of this:

And followed the recommendation of a friend and went to Senor Frog's for Mexican food lunch.  (Turned out the restaurant is directly behind the quilt shop.)

Horrible accident on the way home made for a slow trip, but learned later that nobody was killed (I am amazed but grateful).

A couple of errands and I was home to re-submit some med stuff and renew my internet package, then went out front to wash my car only to discover baby tortoise #4 UNDER MY CAR.  They're two inches long, for goodness sake.  How did he get out through the back and onto the front driveway.  I put him in the nursery, then went back to the pen to see if there were more (no) but almost stepped on one in the pathway headed back to the house.

The kids can really truck it.

Lecture all day tomorrow, then to my Mom's for dinner (and to replace a faucet so I can install a timer on her rose garden).  Seriously considering a day at Disneyland Saturday (taking her in a couple of weeks) so I can ride some stuff.

Fall is starting off well.

Sunday, September 25, 2016



I joke about Mercury in Retrograde, but figure that if the interaction between the Sun and the Moon with the Earth caught between can move oceans, then the energy interactions between planets should not be discounted.  Right now I can testify that the day Mercury went station, I woke up in my "All is Well" mode and the momentum of good things kickstarted back into forward.

I downloaded my pictures from the full moon and noticed a benefit to Benign Essential Tremor (Familial).  Sometimes I feel so happy there must be sparks coming out my pores.  Sorta like this.

I tried to catch my view on the last night through the trees at the end of my street.  Only marginally successful, but it was a beautiful evening and I enjoyed the attempts.

Finally, a sunset!  Pretty mild this summer, but I managed to catch this one. 

There are so many things in the sky that make my heart smile.  Clouds.  Sunrises and sunsets.  Birds and butterflies.  Hot air balloons.  I read somewhere that just smiling (even if you're not sure you mean it) or looking up will raise serotonin levels.  I believe it.

On the ground at school Friday was something that made me smile, too.  Our PE department had taught every kid in the school - 1100 of them - to do four line dances and then had taught the staff on Tuesday as a surprise for the kids.  The principal called us all out and we all danced our week to an end.  After my experience on Tuesday with the lessons aggravating my injured knee, I remembered to bring my brace so was able to avoid too much residual swelling and aching.  WHAT FUN that was.  On my bucket list is to participate in a flashmob.  Since we flashed the kids (they didn't know why they were being called to the blacktop) I think I can cross that one off.

Afterward I headed to Mom's for our usual dinner out, then home knowing I'd be returning the next afternoon.

The work at work had been a little taxing, so I welcomed the morning in the garden.  It's been months since I added rescue fish to the pond.  Dodger finally noticed them (there are about twenty).  I could hear his dopey doggy mind whispering, "WTF?"

Then it was time to feed the tortoises.  We had someone out to permit them last year and donated our dozen babies to the California Turtle and Tortoise Club for adoption.  Now we're down to eight adults, which is a nice manageable number.  I clipped some ruellia and was standing at the enclosure clipping it into the pen when I looked down and...

They're a little less than two inches, nose to tail.

There is something so hopeful about baby tortoises, and had I known a tortoise song I might have burst out with it.  I had to settle for smiles and giggles and maybe a happy little tear might have slipped out.  Maybe.  I got their enclosure set up and left them to stay safely in the house for a few years.  I really missed the little guys this year as it passed, so was thrilled to find a couple.

Dealing with the babies ate up my morning errand time (ogeedarn), but I pullled it all together to head back to where my Mom lives for a birthday party for a friend's baby's first birthday.  My friend is a server at our favorite restaurant (one of several I've formed an attachment to) and - hungry for grandchild type activities - I asked her to invite me to a baby shower when she was expecting, which earned me an invite to this party.

I've learned a lot about myself the past few years.  I am enough.  I don't have to bend to fit in.  I don't have to be where I don't want to be.  And I've learned to listen to my gut.  When I got to the party (which I couldn't find right away) all I could think was, "I don't want to be here."  It was a big party where everyone knew everyone else and I only knew the hostess.  It was outside, in the heat and wind.  I felt everything inside calm down when, as I crossed the grass to the picnic tables where the guest of honor was being entertained by three sets of grandparents, I decided to simply give and get a hug, deliver the present, wish everyone well and get out of Dodge.  (Apropos analogy since the park is near the old movie ranch were a lot of old Westerns were made.)  I went to my favorite restaurant, saw some of my favorite people and enjoyed my favorite salad in air-conditioned comfort.

I ran my errands and visited with my Mom while we waited for our appointed dinner date with my brother, sister-in-law and sister at El Toritos.  The food was a disappointment (the hot spice chef must have been in charge)  and a drunk woman was yelling her conversation so loudly that we couldn't hear.  Once she got her food, though, she was distracted enough to shut up and we enjoyed each other's company as we haven't for months.  After dinner we settled in for a round of Tripoly.  I play board games so seldom that I need a cheat card for the poker round and have to be reminded of the procedures and rules, but I ended up the big winner after all.   Most important, though, is that it proved to be a healing evening for a family going through a super stressful time.  I'm glad I joined that group.

It took me until 2:00 am to wind down last night, then Dodger wanted up and out at his usual time of 5:30.  Fortunately, once fed and toileted he was content to come back in and go back to bed, so I did , too, and woke up a couple of hours later.  Still feel draggy and not too motivated to get much done. but I did go out back to feed the tortoises again.

And then there were three.

All is well with me.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

I danced.

Paying the price, but I danced.

So, I'm going through a down time.  I joke and say it's because Mercury is in retrograde (which I don't discount) but really it's emotional overload.  Don't really want to keep the momentum of it all going by mucking around in too many details.  But I try to be somewhat honest with myself and I'm going through a lonely stretch.  Deep.  And sad.

And feeling hopeless.  I mean, the most appealing man in this town right now is a guy at WeightWatchers.  With Down Syndrome.

(Not joking.  This is a seriously lovely human being who is a joy to be around.)

He's too young for me.


One of the PE teachers asked me if I thought the teachers would mind if they pulled the kids out of classes early Friday to dance.  Turns out they spent all last week and part of this teaching every kid in this school (1100 students) four line dances, and she thought it would be cool to bring them all out to the blacktop to dance together.

That little dormant dancer inside assumed first position.  I told her the other teachers would probably whine, but I would LOVE it!  And I wanted to learn the dances, too.  So, she worked it out with the principal (who is married to a professional dancer) to not only bring the kids out (they don't know it but they're going to be a flashmob) but also to take our staff meeting time yesterday to teach the faculty the dances.

Some of my happiest times have been on a dance floor.  I did Country Western line dancing for a year or so, until I found a clogging teacher.  Closest thing to flying I've ever known.  Not even my college dance years live up to moving across the floor to blue grass or rock or reggae with a good clogging cuer.  It was so much fun.

Until I got "hugged" by a 110 pound Labrador Retriever.   According to the MRI there are six things wrong with my left knee, one of which will need surgery.  I avoid stairs; curbs are a bitch.

And I don't dance.

Until yesterday.  Just simple stuff, stuff you can teach 1100 middle schoolers.  The hardest was the Electric Slide, which is the rankest beginner, let's-see-if-you-have-any-sense-of-rhythm-at-all, dance.  I took it easy.  REALLY easy.  Not my way at all.

And am still hobbling around like I spent the day doing Swan Lake rather than a half hour of baby-stepping on the gymnasium floor.


Just a piss poor start to the school year.  Barely started the fourth week but spent three days last week in a criminal jury watching a video of a city police officer try not to get killed by a whack-o in the park.  Fall is here and the rodents have moved on property (which means in the garden and garage).  I HATE killing things - won't even let my students kill the little spiders in the classroom - but every morning I have to go collect the bodies and reset the traps. And the students I was told all last year I was going to LOVE because they are so much better than the previous year are the worst!  I've started more discipline plans already this year than in the previous decade combined.  More, more, more.

And I can't dance.  Maybe not ever.  And since getting back to dance was the main inspiration to losing weight in the first place, all I want to do right now is buy every piece of chocolate in town, stretch out in the recliner and IV the stuff.

I won't stay here long.  I never do.  It's not who I am.  But for now, I'm thinking of sneaking in to re-attach myself in the Matrix.  Or enlist in a space voyage like the Earthlings in Wall-E.

"Forever Country": Legends Gather for All-Star Music Video

I have all of John Denver's early stuff and his Muppets Christmas album is one of my favorites for the holidays.  I saw Willie in concert at the Santa Barbara Bowl, and was at Dolly's first ever stage performance.  I don't recognize any of those new kids and have only a passing recognition of Reba and Tim McGraw (he mostly from Tomorrowland).  But this is SO GORGEOUS I'm in tears.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Stupid Blogger.


Delete my page, stupid program?  There.  They're back.

For Pete's Sake.

When the only thing that got you through your POS day was knowing  that you didn't have to cook because you bought an extra quesadilla at your favorite Mexican place the day before for your dinner tonight.  Only to find that your holier-than-thou-I-don't-eat-that-shit-anymore son has eaten not only your dinner but also the two tiny pieces of pizza you hadn't eaten the night before that.

And they were on MY SHELF!

And the restaurant is closed Monday and Tuesday, so I can't even tell him to get me a replacement.

Because love.

Sunday, September 18, 2016



When I first saw the Disney movie Tangled, this song became my Favorite Disney Romantic Song.  This daughter/daddy perspective is gorgeous, and a real spirit healer.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

So Far...


I bought this album yesterday.  I re-posted "Sanctuary," the song that led me to make the purchase.  This has kicked it out of sole favorite status.

There's a stirring
There's a sweetness
At the edge of inbetween
I feel it nearly trembling.

The restlessness
The quickening
The almost but not yet.

The song pretends to be about the coming of spring, but to me it feels like falling in love.

One of my favorite descriptions comes from Nora Roberts' Dance Upon the Air (which I've read or listened to a dozen times over the last couple of decades).  "the shimmering edge before the breathless tumble"


It's a tie.


I bought this album yesterday after falling in love with this song.

Will you be my refuge,
My haven in the storm?
Will you keep the embers warm
When my fire's all but gone?
Will you remember,
And send sprigs of rosemary?
Be my sanctuary
'Till I can carry on?
Carry on.
Carry on.

So lovely.  And no doubt resonating because it is so wished for.

Friday, September 16, 2016


I was hoping I could get home from my Mom's in time to catch the moon.

I made it.

It's here.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

A Moment..

I'm exhausted.  Going to bed soon.  A momentous week caught up with me this evening.

As fantastic as my Friday night was, I stayed up too late to get up (four hours later) for a full day with my mom at Disneyland (getting in bed about midnight.)  Sunday was quiet, restful puttering with the watering and laundry.

Monday I had jury duty.  I was confident I would not be chosen.   In 2009 I did a 99-day Criminal Grand Jury and one of the lawyers said that one benefit of that service was that no defense attorney would ever let us on a criminal jury.

He was wrong.

Jury selection was finished about 3:30 Monday and we spend the next 1.5 hours hearing testimony - complete with video - of a very violent arrest.  Tuesday was more testimony.  Yesterday was deliberation and we came to a verdict finally about 3:30.  It was intense and exhausting.

Then today I got to school - after a three-day absence - to a day of lectures.  Tomorrow will be the same.  And then there was a one-hour meeting after school.

I could barely put one foot in front of the other to get into the house.  I gave up trying to get anything done (not even dinner) and stretched out on the bed.  Only to be roused up again by the dog wanting dinner, and then a lengthy visit outside to toilet.

And then I scrolled into this.

Spirit restored.  I nearly peed myself.  Had to watch it twice.

THEN a friend sent me to the original.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Still wishing...


...for this sweet space.

Monday, September 12, 2016



Just takes a little more time.

(I cannot wait to get this album)

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Splendid People...

Splendid times.

I had SO MUCH FUN Friday night.

IN 2010 I took a Jack Grapes writing class.  It was - at the same time - one of the most frightening and most rewarding experiences I've had.  And, it was enhanced because I got to "keep" a few of my classmates as friends.  One of the men posted something on facebook that alerted me that he and I must have traveled the same path into weird since the last time I saw him (Tom Shadyac's coffee talks in 2012).  He posted something to me there, and it quickly developed into him traveling from downtown up  to meet at Cafe Nouveau in Ventura for dinner on Friday.

We got tucked in at a little table with the flowers along the wall (next to the heater).  As always happens with us, as soon as we got past the gosh-it's-been-a-long-time-since-we've-been-together awkwardness, we just jabbered away until the restaurant closed, then took the party to BJs in Oxnard, where we talked until that place closed.

I have few people in my life that I feel so comfortable with.  It is a relief and a joy to spend time with him.

A splendid, interesting man doing his best to know himself deeply while he explores this adventure that is life.  We'd make a fine couple if only he was about thirty years older.  (Straight would be a benefit, too, but not a requirement.)

After getting home to bed about one in the morning, I was up with the alarm at 5:30 AM to go get my mom for a postponed trip to Disneyland.  Again, splendid people helped make our day splendid.

Since I had been distracted on Friday and forgot to make reservations for breakfast at our favorite restaurant (which has sit-down service), we opted for breakfast at the Rancho del Zocalo in Frontierland.  It's a bit more difficult since Mom has to hold the full tray of food (and her purse) as we make our way through the drinks and payment aisles in this place.  A splendid young man let us go ahead of him in the register line since he was waiting for his friend to get their drinks.  Then his friend, another splendid young man, offered to carry our tray out for us when we got to our table.

I often eat here when I come by myself.  I love the patio area - one of the few peaceful places left at Disneyland - and it was much easier to maneuver Mom's wheelchair up to a table here.  The food was as good at Carnation Cafe - although the menu more limited as far as what I like (no potatoes, add fruit).  But we had a lovely breakfast.

HalloweenTime means candy corn bunting.  Someday I will make this for my house.

We got a little bit of a late start that morning, so spent extra time in the parking lines.  We always detour through the World of Disney store on our way in (much more pleasant than fighting the crowds on the way out) and actually found new stock to add to our various collections, which took some time.  Longer lines at security (first weekend of HalloweenTime), then had to walk all the way to the other side of the Esplanade to check in our purchases for pick-up at the end of the day, so we'd been later than usual getting into the park.  After breakfast, I asked Mom the time (since I don't wear a watch anymore) and she said "almost noon."  I suggested, since we were there, that we take in the first Laughing Stock show and "get it out of the way" (I didn't mean it that way) for the day.  She agreed, and when we got there we had a nice surprise.

The splendid Ragtime Michael was playing a set.  He is still my favorite entertainer in the park, although we rarely get to hear him play piano music anymore.  He played a bunch of my favorite arrangements, so  this was a real treat.

Then we waited for Laughing Stock to come on at 12:05.  After all, Mom had said it was nearly noon.  Instead, several minutes after Michael left the stage another favorite group took his place.  This combo is made up of members of the former Traditional Disneyland Band (Walt's Band, as their fans call it) so the music is fabulous.

I was confused about the time, though, and asked Mom to check her watch again.  My mom, at 84, is more clear-headed and on the ball than I am most of the time, but apparently still exhausted from some special events in her week prior to this visit, she made little mistakes all day including getting the time wrong when I asked earlier.  Sure enough, Laughing Stock took the stage after the cowboy combo (I know they have a formal name but I've forgotten it).

It's a cute show, more reminiscent of the old Golden Horseshoe Revue than their previous shows (but so far, not as funny as the previous Laughing Stock shows).

Once Laughing Stock was finished, we had to decide what to do next.  Mom was tired, I was tired, and neither of us had any desire to go wandering the park.  I looked at the daily schedule and noted that another of the old band pull-out groups, the Straw Hatters, was scheduled to perform at the "Mark Twain" in a few minutes so we headed over there.

The Mark Twain doesn't currently travel the Rivers of America.  Half the loop is closed for construction of the new Star Wars Land, so the riverboat is docked at the landing full time.  You can tour it, but it doesn't move until sometime next summer.

Mom and I tucked in at the landing, which is now one of our favorite resting places.  Shaded, quiet and great people watching.  We both "rested our eyes" for a few minutes until the combo arrived  Shortly after the music started Tiana arrived.  I couldn't see well, but well enough to enjoy the happy guests during this meet-and-greet.

Once upon a time we would spend the morning following the Disneyland Band around, then the early afternoon shopping and enjoying Billy Hill and the Hillbillies in the Golden Horseshoe (often treating ourselves to an ice cream sundae for lunch) and then finishing up our day in the late afternoon and into the evening with one of the piano players at Coke Corner.  I would walk over to the Pizza Port for our favorite dinner of Pizza Salad, which is no longer offered.

Things have changed and we've had to adjust.   Since the Disneyland Band (at least the one we liked) isn't there anymore, our morning entertainment is somewhat limited.  We finish our morning shopping rounds well before lunch, which means no ice cream.  The Billies used to entertain us for two or three sets, but Laughing Stock does not.  And we no longer spend more than a set at Coke Corner because we're not fond of the Saturday piano player's "style."  For the last year or so our new routine includes heading home before the afternoon parade to have an early dinner back at our favorite restaurant in my mom's home town.

Our plan for yesterday was somewhat different than usual. I've been following Krazy Kirk and the Hillbillies (part of the Billy and the Hillbillies group) at their new venue, Knott's Berry Farm.  I suggested to Mom that we arrange our day so that we could see the only piano set we watch anymore (with our beloved Mad Hatter),  head to Knott's for a famous chicken dinner at their restaurant, then pay to get in for three Krazy Kirk sets.  At the time I suggested it, their sets were at 7:00, 8:00 and 9:00.  Last week I learned that their set times had changed to 5:30, 6:30 and 7:30.  Since Mad Hatter is there until after 4:00, we saw no way we could finish our day and have dinner in time to see more than one set so we crossed the theater off the list, still set on having dinner.

Meanwhile, Mom has been missing her Disneyland sundae.  So, after the Mark Twain, we headed to Coke Corner, where I would get her a sundae to kill time until the Hatter set.

We got there in time for the Dapper Dans set.  Our first happy surprise was that the "regular" piano guy wasn't there and Ragtime Robert was on the piano stool.   Ragtime Robert is a little too loud, too "pounding" for my preferences, but his arrangements are good and he keeps time well, so seeing him there was great.  The Dans arrived just before I got back with the ice cream, so I got to hear them while we indulged.

After a break, Hatter arrived. 

The Mad Hatter spots my mom.  "Hi, Ladies!"
"Anybody got a quarter?  Bring it up here!"
Alice wasn't with him on this day, so the Queen of Hearts accompanied him.

Her Highness seemed a little disgruntled at being trapped in the middle of the game.

I've seen this game dozens of times, but this was the most hilarious (and touching) ever. 

Touching because although the announcement had been made that the game was for people no taller than Alice in Wonderland, a large man joined the game.  It didn't take long to determine that he was mentally disabled.  Nobody blinked.  As far as I know, everyone from cast and audience accepted his rather large presence in the group.  When he lost his seat and had to get up on the stage to be declared an "unwinner!" he seemed genuinely surprised that he was, in his words, "too tall."

Hilarious in part because there were two little girls who had clearly played the game many times and were NOT putting up with Hatter's shenanigans.

When the game was over, Hatter stuck around for photos and autographs, then came to greet my mom.

Such a splendid man, and one of the best at making magic at Disneyland.

After the Hatter set I pointed out to Mom that it was almost time for the afternoon parade and I knew the sidewalks would be packed, so we decided to wait until after the parade to leave for dinner at Knott's.  After the between-sets break, Robert returned.  He came over to greet us and noted we were there for a third set.  I responded that we'd heard the Dans and watched the game and now would stay to hear him play.  I follow Robert on facebook and know he's had a rough year with physical issues, so I asked how he's doing.  I'm glad I asked, as he described his back problems and the upcoming procedure that he is optimistic will help him.  His back problem sounds like mine, so I tucked the procedure away in case I decide my developing issue is serious enough to pursue treatment.

Robert had just finished a marvelous arrangement of music from Phantom of the Opera (a request) when the Soundsational parade started.

A few minutes after the end of the parade, we started our process to leave the park.  Over to purchase pick-up to collect the stuff we'd left that morning, a stop back at World of Disney to get the stuff I had decided throughout the day that I wanted after all.  The tram ride and stop at the restroom, then the long walk to our car.

And then The Nightmare.

The last time I was at Knott's was almost thirty years ago.  Mom had only been there once, and that on a bus trip.  Neither of us had a clue how to get there, so I looked it up on Google maps.  We followed the directions, but were heading directly west most of the time and the sun was shining directly into my eyes.  Every street sign was backlighted and I couldn't read any of them.

We got lost.

I made my way into the hotel lot, where the splendid parking attendant gave me directions back, but I couldn't find a way into the park from her directions.  I finally ended up in the main parking area, where another splendid attendant gave me directions.  Finally, HER directions got us where we needed to be, but I missed the little hidden entrance to the marketplace parking lot, so had to complete the circle back for a second try.  This time I got into the parking lot, where there were no handicapped spots available.  As I was about to head into the nether-reaches of the lot, I repeated the loop just in time to be there when someone in a marvelous spot backed out and we nabbed it.

My 7.5 minute trip (ala Google Maps) ended up taking over an hour.  But we were there.

I had one more struggle getting Mom into the restaurant (where the doors open out; tough manipulating a wheelchair through a door opening out).  Again, splendid people - two of them - sprinted over.  They both said, "I got this!" which I found interesting.  One was an adult.  She advised me to turn the chair and back it in (advice which, now exhausted, hungry and more than a little grumpy, I was grateful to receive and follow) and the other was a child who slipped outside to hold the door open while out of our way.

At that point the story turned.

We decided, now that we knew how to do this, that we will do this every trip.  I5 to Beach (not Brookhurst, Google).  Straight down Beach to the well-marked entrance to Knott's Berry Farm (which you can't access from Beach off of Crescent, Google.)  If we leave right after Mad Hatter, five minutes there and we'll have a splendid dinner.

I couldn't believe how good this was. 
Neither Mom nor I eat large quantities of food anymore.  By the time we'd had our chicken noodle soup (more like chicken and dumplings) and a biscuit, neither of us ate more than one piece of chicken and a few bites of mashed potatoes.  Next time I will just tell them to keep the salad, but I did take a few bites of the corn (must have LOTS of butter as it was scrumptious).  Dessert comes with the meal, and we both ordered the apple pie.  I knew we had chocolate from the Candy Palace in the car, so we just packed up the apple pie for Mom's meals next week.

A seriously splendid way to finish a splendid couple of days.

Sunday, September 04, 2016



Re: my previous post.

Some of the pictures of my garden projects from this summer I also posted on my facebook timeline.  One of my friends - also a colleague - commented that my yard must be gorgeous.


Not so much.

I've lived in this house since 1974.  That usually means a paid-off mortgage leaving money for repair and renovation.  But we chose to put our kids through college and build a portfolio of that "safest" of investments.

Real estate.


So what I have is a house with the original avocado green kitchen tile, ripped up family room carpet, stained popcorn ceilings and French doors I'm about to lose to termites.  We won't mention the kitchen sink that has no glaze or the (shudder) bathrooms.   I may be the only Californian in the state grateful for the drought restrictions because now I can point to my crappy front lawn, shake my head sadly, shrug my shoulders and blame the drought for the lack of grass for the neighbors to enjoy.

I have a piece of property up for sale - and it's lovely.

Magical mountain town in Utah.

Bordered by Snowbasin to the south and at the base of Powder Mountain at the north end of the little valley.
When it sells, it will ease my financial challenges and I can start throwing money at the pit.  In the meantime I love my location and my little house.  It has a great floor plan and I have happy plans for it when I have some cash to re-invest into it.

Meanwhile, I use my minimal funds and a lot of personal energy (at some risk to my already compromised back and knees) to carve out little vignettes of loveliness to enjoy out my windows.

I count my blessings and laugh over the rest.

I've come a long way.