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.