Sunday, November 30, 2008

Thanksgiving and Living: Getting There

Balance: an even distribution of………the dictionary says weight, but for me it means work and leisure, rest and exercise, intellectual / emotional/ spiritual / physical pursuits of time. Lately it means virtual world versus real world.

On balance: taking everything into consideration

Off balance: in danger of falling

I took some time off from the virtual world. I was beginning to free fall into that space where the new thing you are enjoying is taking more than its fair share of life. How convenient that it was time for the ritualistic Thanksgiving camping on the North Shore at Malaekahana with 30-45 people. Family friends. We go camping every June and Thanksgiving. Our family friends have been going for 11 or 12 years. Our family joined about 6 or 7 years ago. During the dark years we did not make the time. Now, I can’t imagine what I was thinking or how tired I must have been to miss out on this event. Where time stands still and people connect, children run free, board games are played, and marshmallows are roasted and served up on graham crackers with chocolate.

I pace myself to get there. Tuesday afternoon, after a full day of work, it was hard to imagine being ready to go. Gear out from the rafters and packed. Groceries bought. Food prepared. Most of the families were heading out Wednesday afternoon, but when I got home from work at 4 PM on Wednesday, still needing to prepare my share of the meals, that seemed impossible. Sixteen year old son was like a two year old colt wanting to run his first race. He’d actually gotten all the gear down and ready. So I sent him up on his own with the prerequisite that he set up both tents, blow up the air mattresses, and unpack everything. He took the bit in his mouth and charged ahead. Good for him, good for us. Setting up the tents and blowing up the air mattresses isn’t my fave part.

So I got to prepare food in a quiet home, with my music playing, candle light, and no sense of urgency.

The following morning, we sent daughter up as she could only spend the day because she had rehearsals all weekend and therefore volunteered to stay home with the two dogs. She flew the coop about 8:30 AM.

Husband and I couldn’t leave until after 12 because of Border Collie. At 1 ½ he’s not the age or type of dog that can be kenneled for 10 hours. So we had the morning to ourselves.

Husband burned a CD for the drive up. He used to be completely techno illiterate, but when the kids refused to burn him any more mixed CD’s, he suddenly became the house pro at I-tunes.

Here’s a glimse of getting there.

Thursday, November 27, 2008


Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours.

I am taking the weekend off and will be without internet access until Sunday. Have a safe and joyful holiday.

Don't Worry it's Only a Movie had a Thanksgiving post that will touch your heart this holiday weekend. Enjoy.

PS. Thank-you Anna for the shout out. If you came from her blog expecting to read about my students, that post is here, or here, or here, or here.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Wordless Wednesday #9

May you be as joyful over your holiday weekend as Border Collie is on a day at the beach.
For more Wordless Wednesday, click here.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Lions and Tigers, and Bears. OH MY!

I’m trying to get back into Grey’s Anatomy. I loved the first season. Got bored and stopped watching the second season. My daughter wants me to watch the third season with her, so I’m trying. I don’t think it will last. It is hard for me to believe that a large group of supposedly intelligent people who just went through eight years of school and hundreds of thousands of dollars in tuition would risk it all by performing surgery on each other. My suspension of disbelief does not extend to this scenario.

But I digress. The guy with the night terrors last week. That’s what I meant to use as my jumping board.

The night terrors reminded me of growing up with my younger sister. She had them and we shared a room together all the way until my older sister left home at seventeen. So I was thirteen and my younger sister was eleven when we first got our own rooms. Up until then, I was subjected to my sister’s weird, vivid, surreal, and sometimes terrifying dream landscape.

When we lived in the Valley, she used to wake up EVERY SINGLE MORNING at 6:30 AM screaming bloody murder. And even though it happened every day, my poor mom would come rushing into the room in a panic attack, just in case some serial killer had actually broken into our house and was butchering her girls. Back then my sister’s dream was that it was raining blood. For a few minutes after my mom came in the room and tried to hush her and console her, my sister would scream about the blood and how it covered everything in the room. The fact that I eventually got used to this shows how resilient kids can be.

Her next frequent flyer was trolls. Gnomes. Little people. Our twin beds were lined up parallel, with just a couple feet between us. She’d wake me up in the middle of the night and tell me to make the little trolls down by her feet go away. That they were keeping her awake with their talking. This dream kind of freaked me out, because my sister was and always has been someone with a strong sixth sense. I wasn’t sure if it WAS just a dream, or she saw something I didn’t. But, according to her, they took off when I scolded them to, so I took this as a sign that if they were real they were more scared of me than I was of them.

As we got older, her nightmares turned from fear based to anger and frustration.

So one day in the middle of summer while we were visiting our grandmother, Little Sis falls into a nap on the couch. Now, I was all about visits to Granny’s house. We had been going there for whole weeks during the summer and weekends during the school year our whole life. Granny lived with our uncle, my dad’s older brother, and I loved visiting. They would put a card table up in the living room and we would play card games and board games for hours. I loved that stuff. I loved the safety of their love and the emotional safety in their home. I loved when my granny taught me to knit and crochet and when my uncle taught me how to use C-clamps, saws, hammers, and drills in his workshop. I loved the regularity of their days and their meals and their rituals. It did not change as I became a teenager; I still loved hanging out with my grandma and my uncle.

It was the early 1970 or '71 and when we were not at Granny and uncles, well, we were living quite different lives with our parents and with our friends. But no matter how much shit we were giving our parents, we were always our best selves at granny’s.

So, I’m sitting at the card table in the late afternoon playing canasta with my grandma and my sister is asleep on the couch. About four feet away from us. I think she was about 12 or 13 and I was about 14 or 15. All of a sudden she starts groaning and thrashing slightly. I knew not to trust what might come next. But instead of getting up, walking over, and waking her, I froze. I was the proverbial deer in the headlights. I looked down at my hand of cards and tried to concentrate on my next move. I held my breath and prayed my sis would settle back down to sleep.

As she half rose up, like a vampire-like a half dead corpse, she screamed at the top of her lungs,
Fuck you! You god damned prick asshole son of a bitch! FUCK YOU. Fuck you. Fuuuuuuck. fuck you.............................fuck.

She snored, sighed, and turned over. She fell back asleep.

My granny, she never looked up from her hand of cards. As she played her next card, she casually said, I had no idea Little Sis had started to use language like that. Then she told me not to say anything or tease my sister after she woke up because Granny didn’t want Little Sis to be embarrassed.

I miss my granny still.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Surf and Sand: The Intro

Ventura County side of Malibu. 1969

When I was eleven my whole world changed. That was the summer we talked my Dad into moving full time to the mobile home park in Malibu where we had our summer and weekend home. A good twenty miles from the glamorous homes of the rich and the stars it was nestled all by itself on a curve of the Pacific Coast Highway. And it saved me the more generic fate of being a girl from the Valley.

At first I couldn’t believe that our plan, hatched in the hazy afternoons of late 60s beachdom, had worked. Driving from Granada Hills to Hollywood, where my dad was a film editor, hadn’t been a short jaunt, but it was mostly freeway. However, from Big Sycamore he would have to take PCH south, traffic lights and all, and then travel through Santa Monica and up to work for a total of 40 miles - back in the day when that kind of commuting was pretty rare. My mom, my two sisters, and I thought we would have a bigger task of convincing him, but he went along right away.

The single wide weekend trailer was traded in for a double wide mobile home and we became full time Surf and Sand residents. Moving to the beach full time was an adventurer’s dream for me at eleven. Most of the residents were part timers and only came down on weekends during the school year. During the school week the park was a deserted ghost land, with only a handful of children and preteens to lay claim to the territory. Every path, every hang out, every trail and every tree was ours for the taking. We let ourselves into the unlocked trailers for tea parties. We felt like we OWNED it all.

I remember my mom registering me in my new school. The Surf and Sand was on the Ventura County side of Malibu, so our school district was Oxnard. My 6th grade teacher’s name was Miss Cearasolo. Seeing her name on my registration slip sent me into anxiety attacks that I kept buried deep. I was a shy child, and the week before school started I lived in mortal fear of saying her name aloud in class and getting it wrong. I was sure the kids would laugh at me and I would never recover.

The best part of my new school was traveling there and back. We would stand on the mountain side of PCH in the early morning fog and a rickety old yellow school bus, the kind with a long hood and short body, would come clunking along and pick us up off the road like miniature hitchhikers. The bus ride would wind up the rest of the Pacific Coast Highway and then through vast agricultural fields. Sometimes the fog was so thick in the mornings it was like a twilight zone ride through the clouds. Most of the other kids on the bus were Mexicans, sons and daughter of immigrant farm workers. My first boyfriend was Daniel. I wore his Saint Christopher and held hands with him on the back of the bus. My mother, the daughter of a mid-west dentist, and the product of private prep schools, found out that Daniel was Mexican and made me give him back his necklace. I never told him the things that she said about him and his family.

Fall is the best season to live at the beach. The elements seem to jump out at you. Riding home from school I would sit on the right hand side of the bus where if I was to leap from the window I might have cleared the rocks and landed with a splash into the ocean. Watching the sunlight dance on the ocean’s surface like a swarm of dazzling sea fairies hypnotized me and encouraged my habit of daydreaming. One day a young classmate sat down beside me and with a mirror attached to the top of his shoe, gazed up at my panties for a bit of time. Until my friend Sarah saw him and punched his arm. I might never have noticed myself.

The school bus let us off in front of a bait store, where every day we stopped for bubble gum and candy bars. Candy bars cost a dime back then, and with my quarter I would buy two Reece’s Peanut Butter cups and a Big Mouth bubblegum. The bait store was owned by two sisters, each weighing at least 300 pounds. A recurring intellectual debate among my friends and I, was a discussion on how the two sisters could fit at the same time in the small space behind the counter. One of the sisters was married to a quiet, skinny man and they had a little baby boy. He slept in a wicker laundry basket under the candy counter. I remember they would put a drop of beer in his bottle to keep him sleeping soundly while they ran their business. My mom said that he was born an alcoholic, that he’d inherited it while in the womb.

Outside the bait store were salt water tanks the size of big jacuzzis, with clear plastic walls you could look through. They were filled with live fish, lobsters, crabs, even baby sand sharks. Also outside and next to the the mini sea pools was a big gas grill. Perched on the grill were two giant vats of boiling salted water. On Sunday afternoons my dad would buy crabs or lobsters for dinner. I remember the sound the lobsters made when thrown into the giant vats. A high pitched whine that would totally freak me out. My dad and the skinny bait store owner laughed at me and said it wasn’t the lobsters screaming, just the sound of their shells. I wasn’t convinced; I conjured a vision of my future karma. A clear picture of being boiled to death while laughing-eyed lobsters looked on.

Across the highway was Big Sycamore State Park. Not just a campground, but miles upon miles of trails through the Santa Monica Mountains. On weekends my friends and I would spend all day in the hills and the canyons. Some days we’d play pioneer in the old abandoned ranch about half a mile into the canyon. Right past the ranch was a rusty old gate, which we considered the turning point. A mile further down the canyon narrowed, and the area was appropriately called Dracula’s Forest. Dark and spooky, I took the name seriously. My preference was to hike the mountains’ crests and peaks, which lifted me into the sky and gave me a heavenly view of my world.

On weekdays, when there was only Sarah and I, and Sarah (being two years older and more inclined to just hang out and listen to records) didn’t want to go adventuring, I went by myself. Hiking around a deserted campground. Eleven. Times were different. I remember my mom making me take our poodle, Waldo, when I went by myself, as though he’d protect me from weirdos and rapists. It is from my mom that I got my smidgen of Native blood. I think she understood that Indians should be accompanied by wolves and not poodles. But my father said that one dog was enough.

When I was eleven my whole world changed. That was the year my father started coming home late from work. He grew out his crew cut, grew a beard, bought a silver Camero, and sped out like a bullet each day down to Hollyweird. My mother’s best friends became Coors and Crown Russe. Bitter and angry and taking it out on her daughters, we learned to stay away from home as much as possible. My sisters came of age in open rebellion.

But I spent my time by the sand and the sea; I climbed the peaks and attempted to lift myself into the stars.

When I was eleven, I made a world on my own.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Friday Foto: All the World's a Stage Part One

For more Friday Foto's, stop by Candid Carrie's.
When I went to look for pictures of my daughter's shows, I came across these old pictures from her early days. She is now a sophomore in college, majoring in music with minor (but I think they call it a focus) in theatre. These pictures seem both a world away and yet a second ago at the same time. It goes by so fast.
Fifth from the left

Ah, sweet pose.

Look Mommie! I'm a clown!

Police girl in Pirates


After the show with a kalabash cousin.

Isn't it strange how one can so miss the days when the children were little? How when you think back, and see the pictures, these memories are so cherished? Unfortunately, during my daughter's elementary days, these highlights were surrounded by the stress of two jobs and graduate classes. I worked half day as a teacher and four nights a week waitressing in an upscale restaurant where the money was so good it kept me from making the change to a full time teacher's salary for several years. I needed the M.Ed. to increase my salary enough to quit the upscale restaurant.

So I worked from 7:45 to 11 everyday in a school. And then four nights a week at the restaurant. I went to graduate classes two nights a week for two and a half years. The two nights I had off, I took my daughter to dance classes. When my daughter was eight and my son was five, he started sports. The picture of her in Pirates of Penzance? I would get off work at Waianae High School, drive to my kids school 30 minutes away, drop my son off at baseball practice, drive my daughter and a carpool kid to Kaimuki High School (30-45 minutes), then drive back in traffic to pick my son up from practice. Luckily, the carpool kid's mom brought daughter home from town. Meanwhile, my husband was working two jobs and taking care of his grandma who moved in with us when we bought our home. She was 85, and two years later started having mini strokes so she needed someone to be home with her. We took turns, but he was her favorite.

But none of this comes to mind when I see the pictures from those days. I only remember the joy. My heart fills with a poignant joy and spills over when I think of those days and the little ones my children used to be. Today, my daughter is a wonderful young woman who is taking 17 college credits, is in a play with rehearsals at night more often than not (Peter Pan is opening soon with her as a pirate) and works weekends. She's great company with a wicked sense of humor.

And even though I miss my baby girl, I am fiercely enjoying the woman she is becoming. Next Friday I'll get to those recent show pictures.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Monday, November 17, 2008

Our Many Storied Lives

A couple of weeks ago I wrote a post where I mentioned the integrated project my students (10th grade) were working on. The project was turned in November 7th and I have taken my time reading through them. When the students not only work hard, but also produce something so intimate and personal, I don’t want to rush the process. I don’t want to grade too many at a time because the projects may start to blend together and I’ll forget who said what.

When I posted about the project previously, McEwans asked in the comment thread if I could share some of the students’ stories. Here's a sampling of their stories and the trends...

Most of the students give a lot of credit to their parents for instilling values, morals, principles and beliefs. Family was overwhelmingly their most credited influence. A lot of students mentioned chores and being a participating member of their home with a needed role as an important aspect of who they are and how they fit in. Especially students who have to help with younger siblings in the afternoons until parents come home from work.

Friends and peer relationships, of course, figure prominently into their middle and high school years. They are greatly influenced by their peer relationships. It was inspiring to read how some students, upon realizing they had chosen friends with dissimilar values, were brave enough to go and make new friends.

Most of the students who credited God, religious beliefs, and church involvement felt it helped them resist negative peer and societal influences. For these students religion has been a positive experience that has helped mature them with empathy and mindfulness. Others felt disconnected and disappointed from their experiences with organized religions. Some students who go to more zealous and narrowly pedantic churches seemed less empathetic and more judgmental towards others.

The negative factor that shaped their lives and which was cited most often was divorce. This was mostly true when the divorce was bitter or a parent became absent. One student revealed the difficulty of dealing with feelings of jealousy towards friends and cousins who had a father present in their lives.

Students who are fully engaged in school and have engaging exeriences are usually involved in a program outside of core subjects. Band, music, art, sports, dance, student government, extracurricular clubs were all cited as major factors in shaping them and influencing them positively. These factors are the reasons (along with their friends) that they love coming to school. (So please keep out the shout to not cut these programs)

They value their education more than they admit to on a day to day basis.

Those who have gone through tough times in their young years (domestic violence, parental drug abuse, abandonment) could break your heart not only by their resilience, but also by their forgiveness and unconditional love.

Specifically, some highlights and quotes:

My grandfather was a huge influence. He took me fishing and to the beach and spent a lot of time teaching me things from his life. I am proud of him because he served our country in WWII.

A poem of growing up in domestic violence titled “When My Blue Skies Turned Grey”

Another poem a student wrote about her current relationship with her parents includes these two lines:
I hate how we can’t talk like we used to
There are so many things that I want to tell you

Or this insight from an essay, Growing up an only child, I got sunburned from the spotlight that my parents always shined on me.

Another student wrote that her jealousy of her little sister’s birth when she was five and the consequences of being pushed out of her parents spotlight were the factors that drove her to seek excellence in academics (and regain her parents’ attention).

I loved the idealism of some of the students. One wants to become a pharmacist. But she did not write about making her own personal fortune in the pharmaceutical business. Instead she shared how she would like to start a program to bring much needed medications and vaccines to third world countries.

One student’s poem describes her feelings when she passes the beach parks with the tent cities of the homeless:

Tides of grief rolled into my heart
And left my body quaking
My comfort burst by Indigence’s dart
A dream was birthed, a goal set
To aid families down on their luck
To cleanse the next generation of our regrets.

Another student wrote his poem about how he used sleep as therapy to get him through the angst of middle school. A few lines of a six stanza poem:

What wonders it brings
to shut my eyes closed
and put down all the walls,
and weapons and soldiers
that keep me safe from
the biting and gnashing of bitter teeth
and bothersome, mindless chatter of the world.

Please leave me for awhile
And I will reach you across the wide oceans of my mind
Through the colossal mountains of thought
Beneath the clouded sky of reflection
And speak with you
In the green fields of sleep.

Or a poem about a parent who made some bad choices that includes these lines:

When your hero falls from grace
All fairy tales are uncovered
When your hero falls from grace, so do the stars
And your perception of tomorrow.

Some students prefaced their essays with a favorite quote:

“Opportunity is not a lengthy visitor” Into the Woods

“Wars and elections are both too big and too small to matter in the long run. The daily work that goes on, it adds up.” Barbara Kingsolver

“Life is a gift; however, living life with values and principles returns the favor.” Anonymous

“Life is not about finding yourself. It is about creating yourself.” Anonymous

I love my job.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Weekend Wrap Up November 16, 2008

As for me, I see a light at the end of a very long tunnel. Nine days after they turned them in, I finally have finished grading the English portion of my students’ scrapbook projects. I’m working on a post of the highlights.

I’d like to recommend a stopover at What Kate Did Next. She’s a writer, a mom, a wife to a pilot, and she lives in London. How cool is all that? Her posts are thoughtful, creative, and usually multimedia. Her post this weekend combined a music video of Crowded House, a trailer from the movie The Notebook, a series of photographs featuring men in tears (by artist Sam Taylor Wood) and it is all linked thematically to creating emotion for characters when writing fiction. Yeah. Great blog to visit before writing as it is always inspiring.

My sister, Shaunna, did a Veteran’s Day post that wove in the story of our maternal grandmother, a model and flapper in the 20’s. Has my all time favorite picture of our grandma. You will have a hard time believing she was a grandma from the picture of her in her twenties.

Don’t Worry it’s Only a Movie featured the Keith Olbermann video that is a must see. I’d post about how I feel about Proposition 8 passing, but Keith says it better.

Kristan Hoffman is announcing a contest she will be having later this week to celebrate her birthday. Another young woman going at writing full time, I especially like her posts featuring studies she reads on famous authors and their writing ways. Make sure to wish her a happy birthday this week.

The following video is for those who wondered what “bombing hills” was.

Notice the motorcycle helmets...

And for those who wonder how I survive my son’s activities, the following is a video clip I swiped from my daughter’s Facebook page. The closest she comes to danger is a dance number at the edge of the stage. One of her favorite things in the world is when I will sit and watch an old musical with her. This clip can’t help but put a smile on your face.

My daughter is like a modern day Julie Andrews. She lives for this stuff

I think the Universe has a wicked sense of humor.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Friday Foto

The Sports Enthusiast Part Two, in Pictures...
(for the part one text version, click here)
Summer '07

Still Summer '07

This last one is last month at Waimea.

For more Friday Foto, head on over to Candid Carrie's.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

They Call Me Tree

I waited to blog about this until the boy was home and safe. My 16 year old son, who likes to surf, skate, ride dirt bikes, and jump off cliffs or rocks into deep pools of water, gives me a lot of grey hairs.

So, when he was packing up to go to his friend’s house on Monday afternoon because Tuesday was a holiday, I couldn’t help but notice the odd assortment of gear he was taking. Skateboard, check. Backpack, check. Helmet, huh?

Why are you taking your motorcycle helmet and not your skateboard helmet?

It provides better protection.

Next, he grabs his protective gear (gloves, pants) for dirt biking.

Where and what are you skateboarding?

We’re into bombing hills these days.

There are many times I have to remind myself to let things go. To be happy that my son, who had many difficulties in elementary school with motivation and self-discipline, now has a 3.7 GPA. That I have not had to check that he did his work since 7th grade. I should be happy that he has taken extra classes and is ahead on his credits. That he does a lot of chores around the house.

Still, there are only so many ways to survive your heat skipping a beat and your stomach doing a triple backwards flip.

Every once in awhile I think, why oh why after nine years of baseball, soccer, basketball, and football; after hours of driving to practices and hanging out in parks and potlucks – after all the time and energy, where was that corner he slipped around when I wasn’t looking and decided extreme individual sports was his thing??

One day, while I was fighting anxiety while I watched him body surf waves that would keep me from even a quick dippity do da, I heard a voice. At first it was faint. I tried to ignore it. With each crashing wave it got a little louder. Ah. There it was again. My father’s voice. Suddenly, a full blown flashback in Technicolor and surround-sound invaded my consciousness.

I’m 16 years old and lying in the back seat of our family car. My foot is elevated on the front seat and it’s swollen at least three times its normal size. My dad is driving me to the emergency room because while riding my horse in the arena, my horse slipped in the mud and fell in one swoop on his side. It happened so fast I wasn’t able to bail and my foot got caught in the stirrup. When my horse fell, the stirrup twisted with my foot inside, smashing it against the ground with the full weight of my horse on top, breaking three of my metatarsal bones.

The tricky thing was, I was told…no actually, it was more like forbidden, to ride that day. It had been raining for several days straight, the arena was muddy and my dad told me that although the sun had been out for a few hours, it was still too wet and slippery. I could go up and groom my horse, but no riding.

So the whole way to the hospital he yelled at me. Something like,

You god damned hard head. What the hell is the matter with you? If I had a nickel for every minute I had to spend in an emergency room with you, I’d be a rich man.

He also swatted at me and the side of my head at stoplights on the way to the hospital.

Those other trips he was referring to include:

  • Getting a nail slammed into the bottom of my foot when my best friend and I , at eleven, jumped off her barn roof holding sheets like parachutes and landed in her dad’s strawberry fields. The winds were whipping it up that day and it was actually kind of working, I mean we never broke any bones. Just bad luck that a board with a nail was under the plants.

  • Running barefoot down the pier and slicing the pad of my foot on another nail that was sticking half way up.

  • When my girlfriend in high school who had a jeep and used to always take us four wheeling rolled her jeep down a hill – about 15 times.

These are times I was hurt and do not include the rock and tree climbing I did when we lived at the beach.

The apple has fallen. Kerplunk. Karma’s a bitch. And my dad is up there, laughing his ass off at me. And hopefully keeping an eye on his grandson.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Wordless Wednesday #7

Not driftwood after all...
And yes, just sleeping.
For more Wordless Wednesday, click here.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

And the Winner is.......

But first, the weekly wrap up.

Some stuff this week on the internet:

In the mood for something fun, light, and the cutest thing since, I don’t even fucking know? I mean a video that makes BC look like old school run of the mill? Abstraction has a video post of a little French toddler, Capucine, telling her mom a story into a video camera. You ain’t heard nothing if you haven’t heard a little French cutie pie say hippo and crocodile in French. My daughter and I watched it twice last night, and that was after I called her in after watching it once myself.

Another of Abstraction’s posts is a great idea for Christmas. “Christmas is coming, and instead of giving your money to Target or Wal-Mart, 100% of your contribution will go directly to helping sweet Indian children receive a quality education! This whole art benefit will be on an official George Foundation website in the next month or so...but I am giving you a sneak peak of the amazing art that will be a part of this benefit, just in case you're an early shopper...” D’Arcy (Abstraction) is spreading the message for her friend Emily.

Thistle has an interesting post on guns, and since she’s Canadian, both the post and the comment thread explore thoughtfully a variety of perspectives on this issue.

A new blog for me, Whiskey in my Sippy Cup (and really, how can anyone not check out a blog with this title) has an excellent post on the backlash of Prop 8 making it through.

Salon has an excellent article about George W. Bush’s 8 year effect on the environment, along with some scientists’ ideas for Obama to try and turn the tables.

Last, and certainly the most entertaining for me personally, was my migraine med induced idea of a contest. First of all, I’d like to thank all who sent me well wishes. That is the second time internet positive vibes worked like magic. Because after suffering for 3 and ½ days, by yesterday afternoon I was feeling OK. Not OK enough to risk sipping a martuni. But OK enough to go out to an impromptu late lunch with my daughter. We invited a close friend to come along as she had called earlier and said if I felt better and was up to anything to let her know. How odd that my close and dear friend (“P”) that was spending the late afternoon with my daughter and I would be the one who got the most votes to be me. Which is quite the compliment, because she is gracious, fun, funny, and a great friend. We had a lovely lunch at The Pineapple room in Macy’s, followed with browsing through Ala Moana. Nordstrom’s opened a few months ago and I’ve never been, so we strolled down there and tried on expensive clothes just for the fun of it. Plus Daughter and P said I just had to experience the dressing rooms. We ended the day in Sephora, trying lotions and creams and asking the poor sales girl which cream would get rid of our wrinkles and sun spots.

So, thanks all for having some fun with me on my 51st birthday. Look like there is no need for a tumble. Liz is the only one who guessed correctly. I’m the one sitting with a baby in my lap (not son – baby is son of the other blonde I was mistaken for). That baby is now a 9th grader and like a younger brother to my 16 year old. They ride dirt bikes on the weekends together on the North Shore. The cutie in the pink dress is Daughter. Since all of my friends had boys, she is the spoiled girl that gets to hang with mom and the aunties.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Wicked Weekend Birthday Bonanza

Today, November 8th, 2008, I am 51 years old. It’s my birthday. What am I doing today? Hopefully, next to nothing. I have chronic migraine issues and have had since I was 12 years old. I have many triggers, depending on my body’s fluctuating chemistry – but among the triggers are stress, lack of sleep, MSG (big one here), chocolate (bummers), alcohol (double bummers), nitrates, and hormone fluctuations. The biggest trigger is neck problems. Back in the day, when I used to tell the doctors (and I’ve been to dozens over the decades) that most of my migraines are preceded by horrible neck pain, the doctors scoffed at me and told me how all the studies have shown that these two things are unrelated. Fast forward thirty odd years and when they did a bone scan to see if my breast cancer had metastasized, low and behold, turns out I have major arthritis and compacted discs in my neck. My physical therapist, who is amazing, tells me that many of the migraine patients he has have neck triggers. Hmm. Go figure.

So, anywhos, I have been suffering with a neck ache from hell and a migraine that, apparently, is immune to Imitrix since Wednesday. I went to work every day on meds since the students were finishing up a big project and I couldn’t imagine leaving my team colleagues with a sub.

Today the headache is gone, but my neck is sore. So I plan on napping and relaxing and not going out at all. When my daughter gets home from work she is going to make us some lunch and we are going to hang out and do nothing, except maybe pedicures and movie watching.

To mix things up a bit and take an old bag’s idea of a walk on the wild side, I thought I’d try a contest AND, OMG, post a picture of myself. I am Pseudo because I want to write freely and not have to worry about what admin and parents would think. But so far, no one from Hawaii reads this blog. And so far I haven’t written anything that I think is too bombastic and controversial. And OK, it’s not much of a picture because it is not recent, so I’m not being all that out there.

So here goes. This picture was taken 11 years ago when I went to Maui with a group of friends. These friends are all women I met the first year I moved to Hawaii as we all worked together and in this picture we had been friends for 15 years already; as of today they are all still my closest and dearest friends and we have now known each other 26 years. There’s a couple more in our gang who did not make the trip that year. I have to say that I don’t look a lot like I did 11 years ago, so I am playing it somewhat safe. I am 11 years older, 15 pounds heavier, and my hair (growing out from the bald chemo state) is shorter, thicker, and curlier.
Here’s the game. Guess which one is me. All those who guess correctly will be put in a tumble and the winner will get to select a hardback from this selection from my library. The post comes down Sunday 8 PM Hawaii time and I’ll announce the winner.
And in case anyone who knows me does read this blog, please don’t out me with my real name. And now I'm off for my first birthday nap.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Friday Foto

Every camping trip involves walks on the beach at night, accompanied by crab catching and then the infamous crab race. The race lasts about 15 seconds.

For more Friday Foto Fun, head on over to Candid Carrie's.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Spreading Some Happy

This blogging stuff is turning out to be one good turn after another. When I started a blog I thought it would just be a public space to put down my thoughts and stories in writing. I had heard about building a community, but wasn’t sure how I felt about a virtual community. I already had communities of friends, family, and colleagues; plus I often felt neglectful of these communities. And what if people on the internet freaked me out? HAH! Well, that hasn’t happened yet; moreover, I’ve “met” some really cool people, some awesome and amazing writers and artists, and some great blog buds. The wonderful thing is in virtual time, we all get on the computers when we can, and “meet” on our own time. I can wear pj’s and be as ugly as I want.

A blog I found about a month ago, Two Dogs Running, is the site for Mama Dawg. I have to admit, when I first wandered in, Mama Dawg’s video of her adorable daughter LOML (Light of My Life) had me hooked from the start. LOML is awesome. On top of that, she and her Mama have these incredible southern accents and I am a total sucker for a southern accent. I love ‘em. AND, on top of that, Mama and her girl have infectious giggles and a zest for life that is contagious.

Wasn’t I surprised when Mama Dawg was so sweet and passed on two cool bloggie awards. Aren’t they pretty? Bling diddy bling bling. Thank-you Mama Dawg.

I’m gonna pass the virtual love on down the line and have tried to pass the awards on to bloggers who haven’t had the fun and pleasure of whichever one I’m passing.

These are the guidelines:

  • List six things that make you happy. I think this task originally was with one or the other, but since I feel we could all use a little reminder of happy, I say it goes with them both. I’ll just keep my eye peeled for the blog police if I’ve broken some kind of rule here.

  • Pass the award on to 5 (hooked) or 6 (kreativ) more bloggers.

  • Link back to the person who gave you the award.

  • Link to the people you are passing it on to and leave them a comment to let them know.

    I’d like to pass the Hooked on Your Blog to:
    Don’t Worry it’s Only a Movie

Words of Wisom From a Smart Mouthed Broad

I’d like to pass the Kreativ Bloggers Award to:

Let’s see, six things that make me happy….. in random order of course.
1)Body boarding and snorkling
2)Walks on the beach
3)Brief (or sometimes longer) periods of quiet
4)My family and friends
5)Metaphoric light bulbs turning on over my students heads
6)Border collie

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Wordless Wednesday #6

For more Wordless Wednesday, click here.

Election Day

Rosa sat so Martin could walk
Martin walked so Obama could run
Obama ran so our children could fly
I swiped this badge from Movie

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Planet of the Apes meets Gilmore Girls

Husband has been on the computer a lot today. He is enamored of Fantasy Football. Husband only established his own email account a couple of months ago and is enjoying reconnecting with old friends over the internet. He also likes to check his 401K (OK – maybe not so much lately). Other than that, he’s not very tech savvy. One could even say he is a bit of a Neanderthal in the virtual world. I can say that here because although I have showed him my blog, he doesn’t pay much attention nor does he know how to get here on his own.

Enter Son. 16. A wicked sense of humor but absolutely no sense of audience. Most of the time he pisses me off much more often than cracks me up. Husband bellowed today for Son to come and help him with some email or messages he was getting from his Fantasy Football pals. Husband knows better than to bellow for me because after two days of solid grading I am a bit on the cranky side.

Son comes out of the office with a devilish grin and a cat that ate the canary attitude. Daughter is perusing a magazine across from me and we can both tell that the boy is dying to let us in on a private joke. So we ask. Hesitatingly. Because usually we are sorry that we asked.


Dad wanted to know what LOL means.


I told him it means Look Out Ladies.

This one. This one my daughter and I thought was pretty funny.

And in case you’re asking, no one’s told Husband anything else yet.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Hunker Down and Hope

My students are 2/3 of the way done with a project. Using scientific inquiry method, historical perspective, researching primary documents, and conducting oral history interviews of family members, they are taking a close look at what has shaped their lives. I can take absolutely no credit for this project. My two collegues on my 10th grade team are master teachers that have been working together for seven years. I joined them last year after my film and reading electives were cancelled. My contribution to the project was to lead the students through writing lessons that would produce a poem for their front page, and a reflective essay for the last pages. The essays are in and I am about to settle down to a weekend of giving teacher feedback.

Their essential question that guided their process of producing their scrapbook was this:

Which factors (beliefs, principles, values, education, environment) have determined who I am? How so? Will these factors predetermine my future? Why or why not?

I guess I'll be busy all weekend. But when I take my breaks and rub my eyes, I will send out hope for this Tuesday's outcome. I will watch this video a few more times, because every time I do I get chicken skin and teary with hope. My heart bleeds with hope for us all.

And in that place, I think about America and those who built it. This nation's founders, who somehow rose above petty ambitions and narrow calculations to imagine a nation unfurling across a continent. And those like Lincoln and King, who ultimately laid down their lives in the service of perfecting an imperfect union. And all the facelss, nameless men and women, slaves and soldiers and tailors and butchers, constructing lives for themsleves and their children and grandchildren, brick by brick, rail by rail, calloused hand by calloused hand, to fill in the landscape of our collective dreams.

It is that process I wish to be a part of.

My heart is filled with love for this country.

Barack Obama, The Audacity of Hope