Friday, December 23, 2011

Spin Cycle: Happy Holidays to Synchronicity and Sassy

Jen over at Sprite's Keeper, who is our hostess with the mostess of the Spin Cycle, runs a holiday spin each year where we spin up a favorite blogger. I think I might have first joined the Spin Cycle on this very one a few years back (have I been blogging that long...well, not if you count the days, weeks, months... that I go MIA)...

The blogging world has given back so much more to me than I ever imagined. I cannot put into words the camaraderie and connection that is made out here and how it has helped me through some very difficult times.

For this special spin, we pitch to Jen five favorite bloggers and she gives a holiday assignment, usually one of our five, to feature. This year I struck gold and got two! Jen did not know that formerlyonlyamovie at Synchronicity and Distraction and tulpen at Bad Words were sisters. With this information, she said I could weave a spin of them both.

Movie, now known as formerlyonlyamovie, was one of the first bloggers I connected with out here. She was one of the two regular commenters on my blog in its beginnings and gave me something to look forward to each time I posted. She is thoughtful, insightful, kind, and compassionate. Anyone who has Movie for a reader knows what I am talking about. She always gets me and leaves a comment that touches my heart.

Movie and I have many parallels in our lives - we are both teachers, have similar unbloggable distractions, and personal histories that make us wonder how we have not crossed paths in real time.

Movie's blog, Of Synchronicity and Distraction, is a wonderful read. She notices the little things in life and the connectiveness of them all. Her positive approach to life in all its messiness inspires me. Her love for her students and dedication to the teaching profession is beyond limits. Best of all, she has a wicked sense of humor that stays intact through it all.

Tulpen, over at Bad Words, is Movie's sister and oh what fun it must be to hang out with the two of them! Tulpen is one of the best writers I have come across and I look forward to every post she puts out there. She also has a wicked sense of humor and her full force honesty in her writing, combined with her creative use of bad words, makes each post a work of artistry.

Tulpen is a nurse in a hospice and she weaves tales of death and dying that can make one laugh out loud and choke up with a wall of tears, sometimes in the very same post.

She has two adorable kids and writes posts about parenting that are real and raw. I wish I had been blogging back when my kids were young and had written down their stories with half as much talent as Tulpen.

Some of my very favorite posts at Bad Words are when some stupid soul has pissed off Tulpen and she writes them a letter telling them off. She has creatively combined profanity and added to my cursing vocabulary more than anyone on the planet, and for that I am very thankful.

Please go visit these two talented bloggers! You will laugh and cry and be forever grateful. For more Holiday Spins and a chance to meet more wonderful bloggers, visit Jen over at Sprite's Keeper!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

TTT: Ojai California!

Back in October, when I took my break and went home (why is it the place you are from will always be home-even when you have lived more of your life away from it)…

Where was I?

Oh yes. After two days in LA, a day and a half in San Diego, two days in Camarillo/Oxnard/Ventura, I was finally able to spend my last day with my other sister. The one who lives in Ventura, started me blogging back in the day, and now has a cool photo/recipe gig every Saturday and Sunday at WeYuMe.

Sis and I have similar tastes in music, in wine, and, most especially, in enjoying a road trip.

She asked me where I wanted to go and I said Ojai. For one reason or another, I have not been back to Ojai since long before I moved to Hawaii (1982).

My best friend from childhood, adolescence, and young adulthood went to a cool private school in Ojai for high school. I missed her when we went off to separate schools, but had the perk of going up to Ojai with her on weekends. I remember everyone offering organic food (including the fun brownies- “hey man, it’s organic”), we went square dancing (but we were dressed like surfer/hippie/organic girls), and everyone ended up at Matilija Hot Springs. Midnight. Beautiful moon. Cool night air and natural hot springs. Ah, youth.

These days Ojai seemed to me an eclectic blend of organic food gone nouveau, art, and high end shops for LA folks up for a drive. Lots of beautiful California land, avocado and olive groves, and (my favorite), open roads.

Come along…

After a road song of a California morning in Ventura, we headed to a place in Ojai that Sis knew I would love. An organic market and restaurant, The Farmer and the Cook.

Huevos Rancheros was my breakfast. Check out that Ojai avocado! Home made tortillas with scrambled eggs, the awesome avo, pico de gallo, and guajillo sauce on the side. If it had been lunch, I would have gone for the grilled squash blossom quesadilla.

Tummies full, a walk is in order. Here is the place where you will find the trendier shops and the LA crowd up and about with their spending mula.

I did like this shop. Had I spending money myself, I so would have bought something here. African imports with the coolest beaded jewelry.

Next, sis took me off the main road to a place she's been dying to show me for years - Bart's Books - The World's Largest Outdoor Bookstore. I could so live there. It's an old house, with outdoor patios and little rooms and places to sit all over. Mostly hardback books and all used. Amazing. We sat in the sun. Then we sat in the shade. We read some, skimmed some, browsed some. After collecting a stack of ten or more, I narrowed it down to one. I bought a Joan Didion book. A favorite author of both my sister and I.

We had to share our table with the handsome guy with the green eyes. Tough day.

We left Ojai and went up through upper Ojai where Sis took me out to the olive groves.

Looking back down on upper Ojai as we head to Santa Paula.

A rare glimpse of yours truly.....

Got a favorite place you went to sometime this year? Link on up!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Too Many Hats on Too Thin of Ice...

Hey. It's my blog. I can mix metaphors if I want to.

  • The stuff people think of when you say teacher. Up in front of a group of teenagers, trying my best to keep them on task, learning, engaged, paying attention, not sleeping, not bored, not poking at each other, off their cell phones...
  • Preparing to teach. Reading, researching, making lesson plans, making work sheets and handouts, deconstructing a book or an article, creating review games, creating assessments...
  • Assessing student work. Grading quizzes and tests, checking homework for completion and understanding, writing notes on their writing, writing notes on their classwork, inputting grades into a grade book (required by state law to have a hard copy), inputting grades into electronic grade book...
  • Calling parents/ guardians. Informing parents that their child is failing/not doing homework/not keeping up with the school reading program/has done something inappropriate in class, getting stuck on the phone with parents who ask silly questions instead of working with me to get their kid back in the game, getting cussed out by other parents.... and, sadly not often enough letting still other parents know that their child is doing wonderfully and it is such a pleasure to have them in class (these calls are usually at Christmas when I make myself make time).
  • Keeping track of an entire grade level for school wide reading program. Printing weekly reports, inputting grades, staying in at lunch to create a reading study hall.
  • Committee Attendee. Teachers serve on all the committees a school has in place to run said school. It is endless. If you are actually reading the small print and still here I am amazed and will spare you the details of the 3X a week meetings and paper trail of these meetings and implementing all the shit decided on by these committees.
  • Recorder of all things in triplicate. In addition to just doing what I do, I need to prove it. I need to have a binder with all my lesson plans, aligned to state standards and school wide initiatives, a binder with notes and data from all those meetings, a data binder of student test scores and other indicators of learning, as well as post in my classroom student work with exemplars and rubrics once a month...
  • My own personal assistant. A couple we hang with once asked me why I did not have an assistant to make copies, file, make parent phone calls....this same couple also would complain more than a bit about the costs of public education. The irony eluded them. So I pointed it out.
Wife/Mom/One who does the most in the running of the household =
No bulleted list needed here. You all know what this means, then just add a dash of unbloggable goodness and a sprinkle of people who pretend they cannot feed themselves and you have the pretty picture.

Woman Who Tries to Exercise

Woman Who is Attempting to Stay Centered Even if it means getting up at 3-fucking o'clock in the morning, I WILL have my zen time - those one to two hours of meditation, prayer, journaling, yoga, reading, and centering myself have become the standard of my day. And yes, it may not be coming through on this post, which is coming off a bit more bitchy and a lot less tongue in cheek than I had in mind. But if I leave the draft for revising it will probably not make the publish button any time soon.

Business Woman Yes, this is about the home business I started a few months ago and is turning into the THING I LIKE TO DO THE MOST AND YET SOMEHOW IT ALWAYS GETS PUSHED TO THE SIDE WHEN THE SHIT HITS THE FAN AND EVERYONE IS NEEDY.

Blogger Sporadic at best lately...

I am blessed beyond measure to have so many activities in my life, and yet... and yet.

The work from the business I began has captured my heart and attention. Meeting new people, learning new skills, a chance to create an income I will never see as an educator...

So while the juggling continues (third metaphor for those of you counting), the ball most often dropped is blogging. I have thought about stopping completely, but have decided I would rather be a bad blogger than no blogger at all.

And there you go.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Another Ohio Buddy

One of my long time blogger buds got left out of the toast to Ohio the other day.

Mama Badger.

Awesome and fun blogger who I have been following for a long time.

Check her out!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Just for Fun

I went to Zumba with Daughter on Thanksgiving and Friday.

Zumba Jen added a new song and Daughter prepped me by showing me the video ahead of time.

So much fun. I laugh my ass off every time I watch this and I had a smile grinning like a crazy rotting Jock O' Lantern through the whole number in class.

Which is saying a lot because I am usually swearing under my breath about what the fuck I was thinking half way through the class when I would like to quit early but all the ladies even older than me are acting like its a cakewalk.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

TTT: Ohio Anyone?

I found an old friend on Facebook. Michael Miller. He and I worked together in a restaurant in the 80's. Then he became the room mate of my two best friends.

Oh, the fun back then. The dinner parties and bottles of wine... The beach days.

Later, he moved to Lanikai beach and we had get togethers over there. One time we all rented kayaks and paddled out to the Mokes. Had a picnic.

Wonderful, adventurous, fun-filled days. Before careers and families and mortgages....

Mike is also a wonderful craftsman and artist. He used to collect beach glass and make amazing earrings and beach glass mosaics to hang in the window.

Mike moved to Maui years ago and managed an art gallery over there. Then, sometime ago, he moved back to Ohio to help care for his aging parents.

I've never been to Ohio, but two of my long time blog buds live there.

Jan from the Sushi Bar. She is wise, wise-mouthed, witty, and a wonderful cook who knows more about food and sustainability than anyone else I know. She is also about to come out with a cookbook - how awesome is that?

Kristin Hoffman. An adorable twenty something and most excellent writer. Also, I think, the very first blogger I ever left a comment on.

Both of these lovely ladies have contributed to TTT before.

Mike has a consignment store in Tipp City. Crossroad Consignments, which you can also find on Facebook.

If you travel in his neck of the woods, please go pay him and his store a visit!

Tipp City, Ohio

Mike says wonderful things about Tipp City....

Got Travel? A favorite haunt by your home? Link a post on up.

Oh! Just realized this post will go up on Thanksgiving. A most Happy Thanksgiving to all. One thing I am most grateful for is the world of blog and all the friendships I have made out here.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Conversation with Daughter..

I have female professors who don't shave their armpits.

Why are you looking at their armpits?

It's a movement class. You can see the rings of sweat too.


Armpit hair. Sweat stains. Before 10 o'clock in the morning. On one cup of coffee. It's a challenge Mom.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Almost Blogging

I was thinking I might be catching up on things after a rather intense month.

Therefore, I might have a moment to blog today.

However, while slicing some fresh kale I bought from the farmer's market this morning, I completely forgot my hub's warning that yesterday he had all my knives sharpened.

It's not easy to type while extending one's left index finger (wrapped in three layers of band aids) poised towards the heavens.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Spin Cycle: Halloween Past and Present

This is a repost, but Jen said "Halloween then and now" and this fits the bill to the tee.

Circa 1960’s
When I was young and growing up in the San Fernando Valley with my two sisters, Halloween was a huge deal. We COULDN’T WAIT for dinner to be over and dark to descend so we could go trick or treating. My dad had this horrid awful mask that he would drag out, not only for Halloween but also for slumber parties. It came from a movie set and beat the shit out of anything they sell today. It was SO REAL. Not at all rubbery. It was the scariest, creepiest, wrinkled, evil face ever. At least that’s the way I remember and I’m sticking to it. He’d wait until our guard was down, which means sitting on the floor, sorting our candies, and with mask, trench coat, and big ol’ boots, he’d slam open the back screen door and come tearing at us. Clenching hands and BRUUUUUHAHAHA. I’m surprised we never pissed our pants. That’s how much we fell for it every year.

Halloween 1991
Daughter was just over two and we had mostly managed to keep her from chocolate and sweets. Instead of taking her trick or treating, we dressed up and took her to a restaurant/club. You see, my husband and I met working at Bobby McGee’s. I was cocktailing to pay my way through college and my husband was a waiter. EVERYONE wore a costume at this crazy place to work. Even though we had both moved on, we still had a lot of friends there and they did a happy hour thingy on Halloween. So we dressed as the Flintstones. Cave clothes- mine and Daughter’s hair twisted around big, fake bones. It’s a great picture of back in the day when my husband and I used to both work out. Daughter was two and was the most precious Pebbles ever. Not that I’m prejudiced or anything. We went at, like 5 PM, and even after a shitload of fun and frivolity, we were back home by 8. Within 5 minutes of sitting down some kids came trick or treating. There was no hiding from the two year old the fact that I was giving stuff away and that was the end of her not getting candy for Halloween.

Halloween 1993
We had just bought our home that summer and it was Son’s first Halloween. He was 16 months old. He had the CUTEST fucking tiger costume. He toddled along and I swear our block looked like that scene in ET, where swarms of kids come out right at dusk. Being a new neighborhood, it was a beehive of toddler hood. I was holding his hand and waited on the sidewalk as Daughter and our friend’s kids went up to the first house. Son could barely talk, but he sure let it be known that he had observed what went on at the front door. He grunted and grumbled to see inside the kids pumpkin buckets. When he figured out that they were partaking of give-away stuff, he pulled and pulled on my arm until I walked him up to the next door. That was the beginning of his professional status at trick or treating. Everyone thought the baby tiger was too too cute and gave him twice as much as the other kids. But half way around the block he figured out how to unwrap a piece of candy and that was the end. Afterwards, he wanted to sit in the middle of the sidewalk and eat his whole loot. My friend had to take all the kids around so I could haul his little butt home and check his candy before he scarfed down a razor blade or an LSD tab.

Halloween 2006
My children are 17 and 14 and they have made plans to go out with some friends. Son is actually trick or treating in a friendly neighborhood that lets the teens keep up the good work. His professional status is still intact. Daughter is in a play and after rehearsals they are having a party. My husband has to work. I have the night to myself, but I’m being a Halloween Homebody and have decided I don’t want to answer the door and give away candy by myself. So I turn the porch light off and all the downstairs lights too. I go upstairs and treat myself to an aromatherapy bath with candles. As leave the bath I pause to look at myself in the candlelit mirror and contemplate the effects of the last few months. I’m still officially bald, but the first soft down of baby soft fuzz can be felt more than seen. My radiation treatments, finished just two weeks before, have left a thickening of red welts under my left arm. But it’s not as bad as they said it would be. The aloe must have really helped. My scars are still fairly new and jagged and my skin still has the sallowness of all that chemo. But I made it. I’m done with the treatments and have returned to work. I walk to the upstairs window and peek through the blinds to see the families on the sidewalks with their ballerinas and spidermen. I don’t feel the least bit sad to be by myself. I had insisted my kids not stay home for me; I want to make up for all those days and nights they had hung out with me in my room the previous summer. I curl up in bed with a book, grateful that the worst is over. Happy that life is moving forward and back to normal.

Update 2011
In March of this year I made my five year mark as a survivor. Yea. This is huge and I am so grateful to be here.

Looking back at this older post I cannot but help notice how it ended, "happy that life is moving forward and back to normal."


After nearly two unbloggable years, with life events I found much more challenging than even cancer itself, I am flabbergasted at my naivete.

I have no idea what I will be doing this year for Halloween. I do know I will dress up as something so my homeroom students get the extra spirit point. Other than that, I am still grateful to be here, more so with each passing day. Taking the good with the bad and one day at a time.

For more spins on Halloween, head on over to Jen at Sprite's Keeper. She puts the list up on Friday.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

TTT: Ventura County

When I said in a previous post that my trip home was amazingly perfect, I wasn't even using hyperbole (one of my fave literary devices).

My mom was well - physically, mentally, and emotionally. She has not only adjusted to living in assisted living, she has thrived.

Thank-you God.

The day that my younger sister and her husband met up with me (all the way from Florida), and the three of us took Mom out for the day played out to be what might be tallied as one of the best days of my year.

Come along and I'll show you how to have a great day in Ventura County - featuring our family's favorite haunts.
On the Ventura County line of the PCH is Neptune's Net. It has been there forever as far as I know. Back in the day it was quite the dive, but has been updated and the menu looked awesome. We even were tempted to eat there, but had just had In and Out burgers, fries, and shakes; so we only went in for beers and iced teas for a picnic.

Neptune's Net is also a favorite stop for the bikers on a weekend and then you would find more like 40 or 50 bikes outside. We were there on a weekday so you only get two cool bikes in the photo.

We had to pass Sycamore Canyon to head to Neptune's Net for the cold ones, and while we were driving down PCH, a school of dolphins were swimming parallel to us.

Beautiful, clear, no winds, fall day.

Frolicking dolphins.

Auspicious, yes?
This Sycamore Canyon day park is where our mobile home park used to be in the late 60's and early 70's. That's grannie and my little sis there. My sister does not blog nor even use facebook, and when I asked her if it was OK if I put her photo up here, she said, "blog away!"

Behind Mom and Sis is the old clubhouse. The rangers use it now and it is a bit run down, but it used to be the center of the park, both physically and socially. The upstairs was a party room for the adults, but the manager let my friends and I have sleepovers up there sometimes.

Good times.

After a couple beers and a picnic, you can take a nice walk on our little beach. That's Castle Rock down there and my friends and I climbed all over it like indigenous crabs back in the day.

Between the rocks the waves rush in and flow back out to the ocean. Like rapids. We used to jump off the rocks and let ourselves get flushed out to sea. Again and again.

I would never have let my kids do anything half that dangerous, but we were not watched quite as over protectively back in those days.

After a few hours at Sycamore Park, head on up the coast to Oxnard. You will be following my old school bus route.

Out at the beach in Oxnard, right on the marina, I recommend you head on over to the Whale's Tail. I used to hang out there with my BFF and I am pretty sure it was with a fake ID. That's how long ago it was.

It is still a happening happy hour spot.

Here's sis showing off our "cucumber Bloody Marys." Sis used to work as a bartender at the Whale's Tail in the '80's. I was already living in Hawaii.

After happy hour head straight into Oxnard itself to Cabo's for some of the most real deal Mexican food to be had. I am ready to leave my computer right now and go make myself something to eat just thinking about our dinner that night.

When you walk into Cabo's there is a woman making hand made tortillas right there in the center of the restaurant.

Oh. My. God.

Best tortillas ever.

Can you tell we have MEH Mexican food over here? I was so ready for this meal.

Cabo's also does the best table side guacamole I've ever had. My BIL was talking about it all day.

Some beers, some chips (also made from their home made tortillas)....

We had tacos to die for. I was too busy inhaling them to get a photo for you all. My favorite is the Taco Dorados de Picadillo. It is pork, beef, and potato; all cooked down together and served in a crispy, fresh, hand-made minutes before tortilla.

We also ordered the Carne Asada and Carnitas tacos, which are served in soft tortillas with cilantro, onion, and lime.

Then we all shared so we could have one of each.

Cabo also does a Bloody Mary with cocktail shrimp inside. Which we also ate too fast to take photos.

There you have it. Ventura County a la Pseudo.

Got a favorite haunt where you live? Where you grew up? Link on up!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Spin Cycle: There is no Black or White, Just Shades of Grey

There are all kinds of ghosts and it seems that lately I have been more inclined to deal with the ghosts and hauntings of my childhood, of my young adulthood, and even of times not so long ago.

Everyone says all families are dysfunctional.


Go ahead and play the music video. You'll figure out why soon.

If you read yesterday’s post or have been reading my blog for any amount of time, you know I grew up in a home with a mentally ill mom with an addiction problem and suicidal behavior. So yeah. A bit dysfunctional.

My first day back in LA last week I arrived at the airport in the morning on a red-eye. By 10 AM I had my rental car and was tearing up the 405 headed north. I was on my way to the cemetery to deliver leis to the ancestors.

The feelings aroused by hitting the road on a glorious sunny Southern California day overwhelmed me to say the least. I had not been on my own on the roads of what felt like a past life in a couple of decades. I got off in Granada Hills to find the house where we had lived until I was 10, before we moved to the beach. While I was prowling the streets, looking for my first home ever, I was listening to a country music station and Miranda Lambert’s song, “The House that Built Me” came on.

Seriously. Sometimes the Universe has a perverse sense of timing.

My friend’s death (at 47 years old) the week before combined with the nostalgia for my past, and the remnants of my memories came flooding in like a hurricane. How can one describe the layers of all one’s former selves drifting in and out, together and yet separate from this person I’d become?

It was difficult to tell whether all the old me’s were the ghosts or if I had become a ghost just drifting through my past.

And there were still the ancestors to deal with.

My father’s death eight years ago was a difficult time for my sisters and me. It turned out that while we had all painted my mom out as the bad guy for so many years (a concept encouraged by both my father and his family), in the end, dad was no innocent. A much better liar than my mom by far and just as manipulative. For anyone harboring a life of lies, here's a warning. Death and dying sometimes have a way of bringing everything to the surface.

It took me a long time to truly forgive him. I wish I could say I was a better person, but the truth is I was mad at him for a couple of years, and those were his last years.

Even worse, I was left with a gaping hole in my long secure feelings for my Uncle, my grandmother, and all the rest. These loved ones had been my force of resilience through my childhood and teen years and I credited them for my coming out of it all somewhat OK. But I found myself upset with them for not protecting us from him. For encouraging us to believe that everything wrong was my mom’s fault. For their trusting dad to take care of us and do right by us when he was not capable of any such thing. He was their son, their brother, they should have known better....

I had spent my life putting these beloved ones on a pedestal and it was painful to feel abandoned by them, even though none of them were around to explain.

Does it make me sound like a horrible person to say this aloud? To write it, even anonymously?



As a 53 year old woman I see what a narcissistic perspective I had at the time.

But it was more the 13 year old inside of me that was hurt than the middle aged woman.

The Eternal Valley Memorial Park is the resting place for my father, my Uncle (dad’s older brother and my grandfather figure), my paternal grandmother, my Aunt, and my Aunt’s husband (uncle by marriage).

I had not been back since my father’s funeral in 2003.

As I laid the leis on their resting places and said my prayers for them, all the love in the world came flooding back in. I knew I was loved, their love was what carried me through some crazy times. All the rest did not matter anymore.

Of course they had to trust dad back then, to give him a chance to do the right thing. It did not matter that he was not able to live up to their hopes for him. Giving him a shot was a generous and noble choice.

I felt a peace I had not felt the last time I was there.

Later, I thought as I headed back towards Santa Monica, later I may go by my Uncle and grandmother’s house.

The refuge.

Perhaps I might even stop and walk to the side of the garage to see if my three year old footprints are still in the cement there. If the owner of the house comes out, I'll explain I just need a reminder of a favorite memory.

For more ghost stories,head on over to Jen at Sprite's Keeper.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Titty Mountain Redeux

That pretty blogger at the top of my side bar is Jan from Jan's Sushi Bar. Her blog is in the running for an award, so click on her picture and please go vote for her. Then run to her blog and check it out. She is A.M.A.Z.I.N.G.

We always come back to this place. This is where I spent a wonderful day last week with my mom, my younger sister, and her husband. That cut off mountain in the back is "Titty Mountain."

The fact that the day went wonderfully is pretty fucking huge.

This is the beach that used to belong to the Surf and Sand Mobile Home Park. The beach where I sowed the seeds of my soul as I watched my family implode around me.

In lieu of writing anew, for now I am reposting something from my memoir writing. For many of you, it will be familiar. When I went back and read it, I was amazed how many of you have hung in with me through the unbloggable years. Thank-you for that.

And now I give you a story from Titty Mountain, circa 1969....



“MOM! Look UP! Look up at Titty Mountain! It’s ME!”

From the top of the hill in the State Park, on the outer edge of the man made drop off of a cliff, I jumped up and down and waved my arms in the air. I did an Indian pow wow dance and a whirling dervish. Nothing was catching my mom’s attention. I stood for a moment contemplating her putzing around in our yard, completely oblivious that her eleven year old middle daughter was looking down on her from high above.

I stopped trying to gain my mom’s attention and just observed her for awhile. She looked so innocent and vulnerable and small from my vantage point. I felt an ache of tenderness for her.

Pure love with a bittersweet edge.

Was it the altitude? The seeming godliness of my perch above the mobile home park and the Pacific Coast Highway on this clear fall day?

Fall was my favorite season to live on the beach; the elements seemed 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. Sitting on the bus and 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 had 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.

On this day, I’d had the heebie jeebies and needed to get out and about. I’d stopped over at Sarah’s, but she only wanted to lounge around her bedroom, listening to 45’s and eating snacks. She wanted to leaf through teen magazines and talk about boys. She was nearly two years older than I and was a little more boy crazy than your average 12 and a half year old.

I’d made up an excuse and ducked out of there. I hadn’t felt like returning home and lying around my own place any more than Sarah’s. At least Sarah’s mom left the girls’ bedroom alone and gave us some privacy. My mom could not stand to see people relaxing. It made her more nervous and anxious than her normal busy bee buzz.

Our beach was such a small little cove that at times it felt confining. My urge to be one with nature that day went beyond standing at the end of the pier and staring into the horizon, and even went beyond climbing along the rocks on the north side of the beach and watching the waves smash against the biggest boulders. Sneaking as close to the raging surf as one can.

No, what I needed that day was some real physical exertion and a sense of freedom.

So off I’d gone on my own to Titty Mountain.

Titty Mountain got its name from its appearance. The hills along the west side of Sycamore Canyon formed a ridge and there was a trail along the top. On one side you could look down at the Pacific Coast Highway, out and across the ocean. An eagle’s view. The other side of the hills sloped down into Sycamore Canyon itself. The beginning of which was the campground, but the canyon narrowed and went on and on and made its way all the way through the hills up and into the back of Newbury Park. A place I would be living four years from then, but I had no idea at the time.

The reason the edge of this range of hills looked like a big tit was purely man made. A section at the end had to be sliced off for the Pacific Coast Highway to pass around. The flat, brown cliff that occurred from this destruction of nature had the shape of a humongous boob. Something that looked like it could come to life and face off Godzilla in a Japanese film. At the pinnacle was a giant sagebrush. It looked exactly like a nipple sitting there on top. My friends and I had not named it Titty Mountain. It was already christened by those who had come before us.

The location of our mobile home at the outer edge of the park and right next to PCH was directly below Titty Mountain.

So, from my summit I could see directly into our back yard and whatever my mom was doing. She was oblivious to my shouting and I eventually tired of observing her. I let my eyes wander up and over the amazing horizon that I had all to myself.

Even at eleven I had a strong sense of and appreciation for infinite space.

Standing on the edge of a cliff and looking out over the vastness of the ocean on an ethereal Fall afternoon was a better high than what the older teens were doing down in some hidden hideaway. A part of me almost felt like I could lift my arms and soar like a hawk. The fact that during my childhood I had recurring dreams where I could fly, and had witnessed panoramic landscapes similar to my ledge on Titty Mountain’s summit only increased the surreal feel of the moment.

I could also see south down the PCH. Brown, sage brushy hills rolled slowly into the hypnotic ocean of shifting blues and greens, with the winding black ribbon of highway separating the two giants and rippling towards the haze of Los Angeles.

I could almost feel the sensation from my dreams, the lift of flight. I raised my arms to my sides and closed my eyes to better feel the breeze on my face.

I’m not sure how long I was poised there on the edge of the cliff. But when I opened my eyes, and peered down again into our back yard, my mom had definitely noticed me. She was doing her own version of the pow wow rain dance whirling dervish. Her version involved finger wagging and hand signals. Gigantic mouthing of words, which, curiously, I could figure out.

“Get. The. Fuck. Off that ledge. Back off. What the fuck are you thinking? Do you want to give me a fucking heart attack?”

Maybe some other curse words thrown in. My mom really knew how to string them together when she was on a role. One of her talents I was proud to inherit.

For a moment I stood there, feigning innocence, leaned over the ledge a smite more to get a better look at her and pretended to listen more carefully with pantomimed hand behind my ear.

When I knew she had reached that crucial point where her eyes actually bulged out of her head like a cartoon, I backed off. I felt slightly guilty, especially remembering the tenderness I’d felt only moments ago for my mom.

But I did not go home right away. I followed the ridge along the top, walking parallel to PCH heading north. I passed by the first trail that zigzagged down into the campground and opted instead to keep going and head to another crest or peak where I could feel my spirits lift with the sky.

As mad as my mom was, I knew if I waited a couple of hours, by the time I got home she’d be well past her first few drinks for the night. She’d have taken a valium or three and she’d either be happy slosh or scary slosh, but sloshed all the same. My dad would be running late from work, again. There could be a huge fight when he finally arrived home and my mom might escalate to crazyville and suicide threats.

Two nights before she had walked around with a loaded gun detailing how the next time we saw her we would be “picking her brains off the rails of the pier.”

My father had ignored her and continued to watch TV so my sisters and I did likewise.

With the slightest of sighs and then a deep breath, I settled down Indian style on another cliff to watch the sunset.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Spin Cycle: Home and Heart

Well, I certainly found a hidden perk to having a second job.

Road trips.

I had not hit my home turf sans family, in..... like....


It was one of those events where everything fell into place, everything went smoothly, good times were had by all.

Since this was my first time to travel the roads of the girl I used to be on my own since I married and had children, I will count this as my Spin on Firsts.

Since I traveled, worked my business, and visited with friends and family my entire week of break, I am playing catch up on lesson planning. I hope to capture in words the feelings the trip brought up, but for now, I will link you to a post on the beach where I grew up, the beach where I had a lovely reunion with my mom and younger sister last week.

For more Spins, head on over to Sprite's Keeper.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

TTT: Critical Mass

Forces aligned, openings materialized, and a trip off the rock came into full view and was created.

In other words, after four long years away, I am returning to my homeland over the October Intercession.

My second (side) job is blossoming with promise and I had an opportunity to expand my business with this trip. It seems meant to be as things fell into place quite easily.

I have not seem my mom since the insanity of summer 2010. Those of you who have been here awhile know what I am talking about.

So I thought I'd pay her a visit. The death of a dear friend last week reminded me of the fragility of life. Despite the craziness that is my mom, it was time.

Ying and Yang.

Work and family.

It's all sorting out. Or not. Either way, it will be what it will be.

Critical Mass (Preponderance of the Great)

In an atom, when CRITICAL MASS is reached, it is a time when several heavy particles are occupying the same space, thereby creating extraordinary events and catastrophic chain reactions. In much the same way, the current situation is becoming weighted with a great many considerations. There are numerous decisions pending, the air is full of ideas with all their ensuing multifarious possibilities, and the ponderous affairs of the people around you are pushing into the foreground. All of it is important, serious, and meaningful, and all of it is coming to a head right now.

The I Ching Workbook

Travel tip? Not so much. After my trip to LA, I am sure I'll have tips to share. Meanwhile, feel free to link on up.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

I Won! I Won!

If you don't already read Michelle over at It's a Dog's Life, you really should be.

Super cool librarian superhero blogger.

Photos from archives.

Vegetarian recipes.

Wit and humor.

Michelle had a contest over at her blog....

And I WON!

This cool recipe book from her trip to New Orleans.

I made this right away. Red beans and rice is a family fav. It came out great. My camera was acting up and I don't have photos, but it was yummy.

The book is signed by the author himself.

Michelle sent it all the way across the ocean to little ol' me. I'm very lucky.

Now, please go visit Michelle while I work on the Gumbo.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

TTT: Zumba, Marinas, and Volcanoes

Except for hiking, walking, and ocean sports; I haven't exercised in twenty years.

However, of late, Daughter has been poking me to go to her Zumba class. So I did.

It's at an outdoor pavillion, overlooking the marina, with Koko Crater in the background.

As the boats leave the marina, the people on board dance and wave and shout ZUMBA at us.

Jen, Zumba instructor extraordinaire, has the energy of a tiger.

Best part of all about being outdoors with the great view? No mirrors.

Before it zooms in close, check out the view...

If you are vacationing this side of the Pacific Pond, come check it out. Right around the corner is Hanauma Bay, where you can go snorkeling and cool off.

Got a fun place you go to near home? Far away? Link on up.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Spin Cycle: Rules

Ah Jen, rules...

As a teacher, a mother, a citizen...

That's a lot of rules.

I'm going to borrow the conclusion of a paper my son wrote last year in one of his college classes. It's simpler than all the rules in my life, and yet so much more profound.

Do Unto Others...

According to Karen Armstrong in the article, The Golden Rule, “All major religions preach it, we’re all taught it, but how many of us live it?” (54). Good question. Maybe it should start with the religious leaders recognizing this connection, this similarity, and pointing it out to their followers instead of pointing out the differences. The article goes on to say that Confucius was the first to come up with the Golden Rule. “You look into your own heart, discover what gives you pain, and then refuse under any circumstances to inflict that pain on anyone else. Do not do to others what you would not like them to do to you” (56). A more entertaining version of it is in the story from the Jewish tradition told in the article:

The great Rabbi Hillel, an older contemporary of Jesus, was approached by a pagan who promised to convert to Judaism on the condition that Hillel recite the whole of Jewish teaching while standing on one leg. Hillel stood on one leg and said, “That which is hateful to you, do not do to your neighbor. That is the Torah, everything else is only commentary. Go and study it. (56)

Imagine a world where people actually lived by the Golden Rule. There are those who are trying to get people to see a world where this is possible. If you go to the Charter for Compassion,, you will find an actual charter for a compassionate world, a world where people put compassion before greed, before war, before having to be right.

We urgently need to make compassion a clear, luminous and dynamic force in our polarized world. Rooted in a principled determination to transcend selfishness, compassion can break down political, dogmatic, ideological and religious boundaries. Born of our deep interdependence, compassion is essential to human relationships and to a fulfilled humanity. It is the path to enlightenment, and indispensible to the creation of a just economy and a peaceful global community.

Living by the Golden Rule, to do unto others… I don’t think it has happened yet on a large scale in human history, but anything is possible.

It's Pseudo again! Head on over to Jen's at Sprite's Keeper for more spins on rules.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Let There Be Peace

And let it begin...

with me


Friday, September 9, 2011

Sunset Surfing

On the East Shore of Oahu is a cliff side community that looks out on Maunalua Bay.


Don't forget you can click on any photo to see it enlarged.

It's one of my, "if I ever could buy a house ANYWHERE, it might be here" dreams.

Homes start around $2,000,000 and go upwards to the sky. This photo isn't one I took, it's from a real estate ad...


Anyone can go to China Walls. A little beach access between the million dollar mansions.

We went one afternoon last week to watch the big swell from Tahiti.

That's Diamond Head in the background...


I'm late, but if you want to link up a cool little spot in your neck of the woods, please do.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Reach Out and Touch

These are four of the nicest people I know. The dad, Joel, worked with me at Roy's back in the day. His smile was ever present, his laughter came through even on the most stressful of days, and his love for life was contagious.

Kirsten came to work with us at Roy's later. She is one of the coolest women I have ever known. Smart, funny, kind, and compassionate. And a whole lot of fun. One time I managed to slip out of motherly and wifey routines and escape with Kirsten and another friend to Maui for the weekend where we attended a workshop and stayed at a friend's house.

Great times. Absolutely wonderful memories.


Kirsten and Joel became best friends before they became serious. Their relationship started off on solid ground and turned into something huge and enduring.

My son was the ring bearer at their wedding. It goes down in my memory as best wedding ever. Everyone stayed until the end, dancing the night away in a hotel ballroom with a view of Waikiki and Diamond Head.


I left Roy's to teach full time.

Kirsten went on to earn her Master's degree in clinical psychology.

Joel went into management.

Kirsten and Joel moved several times as he managed different restaurants. They ended up in Seattle with two beautiful little boys.

A year ago Joel was diagnosed with a rare and aggressive form of cancer.

Since then, Kirsten and Joel have been fighting hard for his life. He has been in remission and out and in remission again.

Then last week, the doctors told Kirsten if Joel wanted to come home and spend time with his friends and family, now would be the time. His liver cannot take any more chemo. They have been told that hospice might be the best choice right now.

Joel's come home to Hawaii.

We hope and pray for a miracle.

All prayers, visualizations, good wishes, are needed and welcome.

Joel's friends have set up this website to help the family out. Please visit. Offer them your love and prayers and if you can help them out through this most difficult time,


And tell a friend.

This will be my photo essay for the Spin Cycle this week.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Sandy Beach on a Tuesday Afternoon

We had some impressive waves on the South Shore last week.

On Tuesday afternoon, Hubs picked me up from work, swung me by the house for my camera, and scooted me off to take photos of the swell..

It was awesome.

Stay tuned for more photos from the "Tahiti Swell."

For more photo essays, head on over to Jen at Sprite's Keeper.