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

Wednesday, May 24, 2017


... and firsts.
Tonight was my last Open House.

These things always make me nervous.  I have just enough "issues" in a school year to nurse a little bit of dread before an open house.  But, I'm happy to say there was not a hiccup.  In fact, it was a lovely reminder of why I should be a little bit sad to be retiring.  Ex-students from years past who won't be able to drop in and say hello.  A little sister that made the sign of a tear track when she learned she would not have me for a teacher as her two older brother had.  And parent after parent sharing how much their child had loved my class and how much the family had learned because their student brought home and shared what they had learned.  (The "Wizard of Oz" lecture is always popular.  "Mind blown.")

Tonight was particularly gratifying because there was a record number of parents wanting to thank me for assigning the family history project.  As part of the project, each student has to interview three relatives, then write their biographies to be bound into a magazine.  (That's some of them on the wall tonight.)  The parents wanted to tell me how much it meant to their parents or grandparents to actually have a child ask them questions and learn their stories.  I couldn't receive a nicer compliment.  As  I reach the end of this career, I calculate that my students have documented nearly 12,000 stories that would not have otherwise been recorded.  It's the achievement of which I am most proud as a history teacher.

I really hope my replacement continues the tradition.

I had SUCH a nice weekend, this past.

I decided to go to Disneyland for some special shopping.

Dang, it was packed!

First time I've ever waited an hour just to get to the kiosk in the Mickey and Friends parking structure.  The line was all the way onto the freeway, and I believe I was one of the last couple of hundred cars allowed to park in the structure.  It was full - I was in the next to the last row on the top level with the others full - before 9:00 am.  I heard that they had to start turning people away in the afternoon because they had reached capacity.  I left early so wasn't there when it happened, but the crowd I did experience in the early hours is enough evidence that it was a remarkably full day.

Still, I rarely ride anything anymore, and didn't have any problems doing what I wanted to do.

I started with a nice bacon and eggs (and biscuit, no potatoes) breakfast at the Rancho del Zocalo, then a few songs by the Silver Dollar Six over the entrance to the Golden Horseshoe.   I had stopped at World of Disney for the new Sleeping Beauty Tsum Tsums, but they didn't have them so trekked out to ToonTown to see if they had them.  Nope.   I had promised some friends to send a picture of the new light saber churros in Tomorrowland, so I detoured through Tomorrowland on my way back to Main Street.

While there I slipped into the Little Green Men pin shop for some special purchases, then headed over to Coke Corner.  Met a new friend in the bushes behind me...

...while an old friend entertained on the ragtime piano.

After a couple of sets (appreciated hearing some special favorites), I headed over to the Disneyana shop to check on my cell set purchase.  It was not really time for it to be done, but they had said they would call to tell me when it was ready and I had realized a few weeks ago that I had no idea what their number would be.  Since my husband died I no longer respond to strange numbers on my phone, so I thought I should find out what number I should keep an eye out for.

Turned out, the cast member I was talking to was the one who kept track of the comings and goings of these special orders.  She asked my name, then disappeared into the back room.  She came out to confirm the name I'd ordered under, then disappeared again, re-appearing with my purchase!

This picture isn't anywhere close to showing how gorgeous this cell is.

Perfect timing.  It had come in during that week, so I could take it home at this most convenient time.

I left the park, then took a walk up to Wonderground, where I didn't find anything to tempt me (for a change) before doing some shopping at the Acorn gift shop in the Grand Californian Hotel.  I was able to complete my collection of Arts-and-Crafts styled tiles that I hope to use in a kitchen remodel.  Someday.  I was a little disappointed that the piano player I had heard there a few weeks ago wasn't playing again, but I figured I already got lucky once that day so I shouldn't be piano greedy.

Now loaded with purchases, I went to Storytellers Cafe to re-hydrate and have a terrific Cobb Salad for lunch.  Got to interact with the BEST Pluto ever.

While I waited for lunch, I looked up the nearest Disney Store to try to find the Sleeping Beauty tsums.  Turned out there was one just a few minutes drive down the 5.  I caught a limo-tram (happens all the time that I load onto the tram from the wheelchair ramp - I was using my walker that trip - and they end up taking just me to the parking lot) and in a very short time was in a comfortable mall in Santa Ana.  I was thrilled to find the little toys I wanted just two doors down from See's.  Irresistible.

All of this was just time killing before my real reason for being in Orange County.

A few weeks ago someone posted a video of a male hula dancer on facebook.  I was impressed, not only with the dancer but with the off-screen singer.  Turned out the singer was the amazing (and famous) Hawaiian artist, Robert Cazimero.  I shared the video, and an old friend asked in comments if I had ever seen a Cazimero live performance.  I had followed the Brothers Cazimero on facebook for a few years but no, had never seen them live.  My friend then informed me that Robert Cazimero would be performing in Whittier in May, so I hopped over to the website and got myself a ticket.  I managed to get to the theater relaxed and ready for an evening of hula.

This was one of the best musical experiences of my life.  The little theater was intimate and the production beautifully crafted in every way.  I'd heard of the "spirit of Aloha," but have never experienced it before.  Aloha energy filled the theater.

And Cazimero!  What a voice!   What a piano!  He was getting over a virus and noted he was not in top form (really?) but even in not top form, his singing was stunning.  It was a full program of beautiful music and gorgeous hula dancing with a thread of unexpected humor through the evening.  I was lucky enough to buy a copy of his latest album before the concert (ten bucks, such a deal), and then got it signed afterward.

 (I might be just a little bit in love with this man for a while.)

It was a long, late drive home, but I had no problems staying awake with that fabulous baritone teaching me new songs to sing.  In Hawaiian.

The next morning was a slow start but I managed to get a few chores done before heading to the garden.  I'm working slowly at getting the vegetable garden whipped into shape, and Sunday's chore was adding a new composting device.  As is most of the garden space (which takes up about half the back yard), the space where I wanted the composter was full of weeds and covered with leaves, so I spent over an hour cleaning.  Eventually I had to engage in some jiu jitsu with that weed in front of the planter, but thought I was victorious in the end...

 ... and the composter landed in its new home.

As I wrapped up my couple of hours, I decided to water my little container garden and something zoomed past me to land in the rosemary.  I thought it was a hummingbird, it was so big, but was shocked to see the biggest grasshopper I've ever seen.  Anywhere.  And my uncle was a Kansas farmer.  They have grasshoppers there.  But mine wins.

I don't use pesticides and in general have a "let nature do its thing" philosophy.  I admit to inviting the mockingbirds to make a lunch out of this guy.

I ended my weekend on a slower note that I began it.  Remember my claim of victory over the weed?  I was somewhat premature in declaring the win.  Sometime during the match my sneaky opponent managed to injure my knee.  According to the MRI, my left knee has six things wrong with it, one of which can be helped with surgery.  And that's my good knee.  My bad knee is now practically un-use-able.


I did not need this, now.  Fifteen work days left and a classroom to clear out of by the 16th of June.

Wish me luck.  Me and my best friend, ibuprofen.

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