Thursday, February 28, 2013

Monthly Scavenger Hunt February 2013

Here's my entry for this month's scavenger hunt on flickr:

MSH February 2013

February 2013 Scavenger Hunt

1. What the weather man says (mine and everyone's)
2. Like parent, like child (Inspired by fole77) (mine and everyone's)
3. Love is all around (mine and everyone's)
4. The blues (mine and everyone's)
5. Uh oh! (mine and everyone's)
6. Metaphotography (mine and everyone's)
7. In the post (mine and everyone's)
8. Ice cold (by smile KB) (mine and everyone's)
9. I wish I could ... (mine and everyone's)
10. Comfort food (mine and everyone's)
11. It fits in a matchbox (by Asta) (mine and everyone's)
12. Books Books Books (mine and everyone's)
13. I ♥ [heart] ... (mine and everyone's)
14. What is in your drawers? (by cjacobs51) (mine and everyone's)
15. My kind of music  (mine and everyone's)
16. Shut the door! (mine and everyone's)
17. Playing games (mine and everyone's)
18. Shades of grey (mine and everyone's)
19. Lit by a candle (by jamcan2011) (mine and everyone's)
20. Organised (mine and everyone's)

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Inspiration Points

Some motivational words for Wednesday.  Have a great day!

Monday, February 25, 2013

Week #8: Round

One of the various housekeeping chores I did last week while on break was to take all of our bedding to the laundromat.  I have an awesome washer and dryer, but our bulky blankets and comforters always make it unbalanced.  Now I just take it all and put it in an industrial machine in the laundromat. It takes less than an hour to wash and dry four blankets, a mattress pad, and the cover for our foam topper and it costs about $15.  That would be a full day project in my home machines.

While there I had the perfect opportunity to take a shot for this week's photo theme: round.  A round dryer window, and clothes going a-round!
Round and Round

Sunday, February 24, 2013

The Best Laid Plans...

2/22/13 Sunrise

I have been on mid-winter break from work all week, so I have been pretty mellow and slow-paced.  I read and wrote in my journal, did some major de-cluttering of the house, and spent time with family.  This weekend, however, things are back to normal "busy" life as I try to get ready for the coming work week.  Today is Jason's birthday, so when I made my to-do list yesterday morning there were many extra little errands to run in addition to groceries, laundry, etc.

So, yesterday would have been a routine, busy Saturday.  From the first moments of the day, however, my plans were unraveling like an old sweater.  In the pre-dawn hours I lazily glanced at the clock on my way back to the bathroom, I expecting to see it read 4:30 AM or so.  I planned to get up around 5:30, and meet Erin for a run at a nearby park at 6:30.

When I saw that the clock read 6:11 AM, I freaked out.  "Oh my God!  It's six-eleven!  SIX-ELEVEN!!" I yelled.

Poor Jason, who was still asleep, shot straight out of bed.  "What!?!  Is it my birthday?  Are you late for work?  What?" he asked, sleepy and confused.

As part of our February resolutions, Jason and I have been trying to have the first words we say to one another each morning be positive ones such as, "Good morning, I love you!"

Not, "SIX-ELEVEN!!!"

hikingI apologized for this rude awakening, scrambled to get dressed, and even managed to pour myself a cup of coffee before making it to the running rendezvous site only 5 minutes late.  The run was wonderful: 3 miles on a redwood lined course.

I was still discombobulated from my rocky start to the morning, but the day went pretty much routine until early afternoon.  I dropped off some CD's (part of my enthusiastic decluttering this week) at Logos, hung out with my parents for a while, and did a few chores.  At about 2:30 I headed back downtown to pick up any cash and leftover CD's.  I was planning to use any cash I earned to shop downtown for a few fun things for Jason's birthday.

Keys Alas, my plans changed unexpectedly once again.  Headed westbound on Eaton toward the Harbor I was in stop and go traffic.  I glanced in my rear-view mirror just in time to see a young man in a giant Chevy truck rolling slowly toward me.  He glanced down at something in the car dashboard.  I thought, "he's not going to stop."

At the same time, his enormous bumper crashed through my rear windshield in what seemed like slow motion, sending glass shooting through my car and spilling over the undamaged, rusty black hood of his truck.   I was in shock and felt adrenaline making my whole body shake.  Did that really just happen?  I think that when you are in a car accident, even a fender-bender, you go into a state of shock.

Luckily I wasn't hurt.  I pulled over to the side of the road and so did the young driver.  He turned out to be barely 18 but respectful, remorseful, and most importantly, insured.  Even though he was at fault, I put the poor kid at ease by telling him my own story of rear-ending a car coming off the 101.  It was a good story to let him know that we all make mistakes and at least in this one nobody got hurt.

My Toyota RAV, however, suffered major damage that will require new a new rear window, door, and bumper.  My insurance company towed the vehicle and will be storing it until the body shop opens on Monday.  At least I know my poor car is protected from the elements and vandalism, since its rear is sadly exposed.

I kept it together pretty well, and only burst into tears when my cell went dead after an hour on the phone with Geico.  Just as I was about to give the tow driver my address I lost power.  Geico was very helpful,  however, and when I called back in exhausted  frustrated tears they were able to reconnect me with the tow department quickly.

Nothing had gone with my original plan for the day.  But the emergency was handled smoothly.  Yesterday was an extreme lesson, reminding me that happiness is not about control.  It is about how we respond to those things that are beyond our control, both small and large.  I could have cancelled my weekly run because I woke up late.  I could have allowed the major inconvenience of being rear-ended ruin my day and the day of several other people including the driver who hit me, his father who arrived at the scene, my husband, my parents, and all of the insurance agents who helped me on the phone.  Instead, I tried to remain calm, stay positive, use humor, and remind myself that this is not a big deal, no one was hurt, and we are both insured.  In short, I tried to follow Gretchen Rubin's advice and under-react to the problem.

Sunset 2/22/13

Last night, as Jason and I left the market with stuff for dinner, I was taken aback by the beauty of the sunset. as we paused a moment to enjoy the glorious show of color, I reflected on just how much my attitude has changed.  Years ago, I would have carried a dark cloud over my head, and would have been too concerned with getting home and getting a spoon into a carton of Ben and Jerry's to notice what was going on in the sky above me.  Yesterday, despite all of the trials of the day, I was able to have peace of mind and even find joy in the simple pleasure of a sunset.

I did go home and eat half a box of gluten-free, vegan chocolate chip cookies, however.  I mean, I'm only human, right?

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Tools of the Trade

As a public school teacher, there are some utilitarian items that I deal with on a daily basis.  I work with a variety of writing instruments all the time, because writing is a fundamental basis of both instruction and learning.  I provide information in written form, and my students respond in kind.  Here are some of the writing tools that we use to communicate information back and forth in my classroom.

I have an old school chalkboard for instruction at the front of my room.  Unlike many teachers nowadays, I use it every day.  Most teachers have a dry-erase board or in schools where there is a lot of technology a Promethean board.  Maybe someday.  In the meantime, colored chalk does the trick!


I do use a medium sized, portable dry-erase board for the daily agenda.  This is one form of technology that will likely follow my students into their daily lives, as dry-erase boards are commonly used everywhere from board rooms to refrigerator doors.


I don't have access to computers for all of my students on a regular basis, so we go through plenty of pencils and paper.  Interestingly, everyone in my class including my instructional aides likes to write with a pencil.   I do, as well.  I either use the computer or a pen any other time I have to write, but in the classroom I always write with a pencil and usually have one tucked behind my ear.  As teachers know, students of are amazingly unable to hold on to a pencil for any length of time over 48 hours.  To alleviate this problem, I have cups with pencils at the ready on every table where we do classwork.


Finally, since we do use so many pencils,  I they are a valuable commodity in my class and so I keep a stash on hand as incentives, gifts and rewards.  The students also tend to hold on to a pencil for longer if they picked it out and it has a distinctive look.

New Pencils

We do plenty of classwork!  I teach a self-contained special day class for students with emotional disabilities grades 9-12.  I teach 5 subjects, and have between 7 and 11 students in each class.  This is just one grading period's worth of work, waiting to be filed in student portfolios!


I hope these familiar images bring back some pleasant nostalgia from your own time spent writing, learning, or teaching in the classroom.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Inspiration Points

I'm going to try revisiting a format I've used before, and post a few inspirational photos, quotes, or links each Wednesday that I have stumbled across on Pinterest or tumblr.  So here goes!

Source: via Sara on Pinterest

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

In Bloom

With the recent burst of warm weather, flowering plants and trees are sending out exploratory buds.   Spring is my favorite time of year, and these early buds remind me that warmer, longer days are just around the corner.  They bring the promise of a fresh, new start even within a familiar cycle of change.

San Juan Bautista

San Juan Bautista

San Juan Bautista

Early Spring

Monday, February 18, 2013

Week # 7: Food and/or Drink

I had a surprisingly hard time remembering to take a picture for this week's theme, food and/or drink, considering that I come in contact with several times a day, every day!  At nearly the last minute I snapped a shot of my afternoon snack: popcorn with oil, balsamic vinegar, salt and nutritional yeast.  Yum!


Sunday, February 17, 2013

Wilder Ranch Hike

Yesterday was my first "Family Hiking Group" outing, and it was a success!  I started this group with the intention of bringing my friends and their spouses, kids, and parents together for regular outdoor adventures.  My goal is to spend more time with the people I love and also to allow those people to make connections with each other, which can hopefully increase everyone's support network.

For our first hike / nature walk / let's see how far everyone can go adventure there was a diverse group of 7 of us ranging in age from toddler to mid-60's, with a mix of fitness levels as well.  For the route I chose a 2.25 mile coastal loop trail that is pretty much flat.  I knew the distance might be a challenge for our littlest member but he held up like a champ and actually ran most of the way.  Everyone had a good time and it was nice to be out in the sunshine surrounded with people I care about.

I hope to be able to get together monthly, and for our next outing I think we will try Nicene Marks for a redwood forest nature walk.  I am glad I started this group and am looking forward to our next adventure!


Wilder Hike

Cove Trail

Sea Lions


Saturday, February 16, 2013

February Light

After work yesterday, I took advantage of the gorgeous late afternoon light and walked around San Juan Bautista for a while.  There is an old Catholic Mission there and the town has a lot of history.  It was also where Hitchcock filmed the bell tower scenes for Vertigo.

San Juan Bautista

San Juan Bautista

San Juan Bautista

San Juan Bautista

San Juan Bautista

San Juan Bautista

San Juan Bautista

San Juan Bautista

Thursday, February 14, 2013

All You Need Is Love

Be Mine

Happy Valentine's Day!  This is one of my favorite holidays because I believe that love is the most important thing in the world.  Let love shine from your heart and you will inspire others to be kinder and more compassionate, as well.

All You Need Is Love - The Beatles (Lennon/McCartney)

There's nothing you can do that can't be done.
Nothing you can sing that can't be sung.
Nothing you can say but you can learn how to play the game
It's easy.

There's nothing you can make that can't be made.
No one you can save that can't be saved.
Nothing you can do but you can learn how to be you in time
It's easy.

All you need is love, all you need is love,
All you need is love, love, love is all you need.

There's nothing you can know that isn't known.
Nothing you can see that isn't shown.
Nowhere you can be that isn't where you're meant to be.
It's easy.

All you need is love, all you need is love,
All you need is love, love, love is all you need.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Minutiae and Memory

2/10/13 Sunrise
2/10/13 Sunrise

Happy Tuesday, blog readers!  I hope this week is off to a positive start for everyone.

Since the hot water heater broke on Thursday night this weekend was a busy one for me filled with catching up on chores like dishes and laundry.  At least Jason figured out how to get the cold water running again by Friday evening.  On Saturday morning the plumber came and replaced the hot water heater.  All in all, it was a small inconvenience, especially when compared to difficulties facing those hit by the blizzard on the east coast, but it was still a relief to us to have hot running water again.  Oh, how easily we take these small comforts for granted!

One Thing Leads to Another
Older photo of Pogonip near Harvey West Park
Saturday morning Erin and I went for a run (for the second week in a row!  Go us!).  This time Erin took me to a part of the upper UCSC campus trail system that I had never been on before.  We ran in about 2.5 miles to the top of Pogonip and back out again.  It is so much easier to run with a partner!  It is unlikely that I would have run for that length of time (about an hour) or distance on my own.  We got to enjoy the sun rising between redwoods, and saw a coyote at the edge of a large meadow.  Next week we will probably have to go on a shorter run since I have scheduled my first "Family Hike" for this Saturday at Wilder Ranch, but I am excited to have this new social and fitness engagement on my calendar!

Saturday afternoon was a gorgeous, sunny February day, perfect for strolling around downtown. I met up with my mom to help her buy a birthday present for my dad, who turned 62 on Sunday.  I had a shirt to return to Urban Outfitters and my mom picked out some Valentine's and birthday cards for dad at Paper Vision.  We also had lunch at my favorite vegan restaurant, Cafe Gratitude.  Sunday I went to Zumba and then visited my parents for a while.  My dad just felt like laying low for his birthday, so I went over and dropped off a card I had made for him.

I have been struggling to keep up with the online writing course for which I signed up.  Despite struggling to write as much as I would like, I am still  finding the daily emails and prompts inspiring.  I have been successfully using the site to write each morning, but these are just "brain dump" type journal entries that may or may not turn into larger writing projects.  The class has been valuable so far in that I am writing daily and I have many creative ideas upon which to expand in the future, but I am not yet sure when to write these or how to introduce them as more than one-off writing exercises.  I just have to remind myself that this is a personal process, and that there is no "right" way to complete the class.  I'm not getting a grade and everyone does not have to like my work the best.  I took the class to help myself get over some of the fears I have around writing, and so far it seems to be working.

A recent writing prompt for this class was to think about memory and what this theme inspires for each writer, and subsequently a thread that I have been exploring in my morning pages is the narrative of my earliest memories.  I have a handful of memories from the time I was born to about three years old.  We lived in the same house during those years and while my memories from that time are few they are extremely vivid.

Me and my mom
This weekend, over lunch, I took the opportunity to ask my mom if these memories were accurate.  For the most part, they were.  I asked her to fill in some of the blanks left in my own reconstructed memories.  I knew, for example, that both of my parents worked during this time.  But I could not remember any child care arrangements.  When she reminded me that a neighbor girl would babysit, another whole set of memories flooded back about being cared for by a babysitter.  I also thought the house had three bedrooms but my mom reminded me there were actually four and one was used as a den.  The den!  I recalled one of my most treasured memories of dancing around the den singing Billy Joel's Glass Houses album karaoke-style into a round, yellow wooden block.

Me and my dad
There are many more gems excavated from these earliest memories, and I plan to turn them into future blog posts or ideally a series of poems.  I find myself more motivated than ever to sit down with my parents and have them tell me their life stories, their memories and recollections, before they are lost to us forever.  I waited too long with my grandparents and now all that is left are the physical artifacts of a time long gone.  I wish I had the personal narratives and stories to attach to, say, my grandmother's handkerchief or granddad's shaving kit.  I wish I had the courage to write their stories while they were still alive to tell them.  I am determined to capture my parents' voices because their memories are the invaluable inheritance that I hope to be able to always treasure.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Week #6: Sport

This week's photo theme was sport.  This morning Jason went fishing and I got a shot of him with surfers at Pleasure Point in the background.  I used a cross process filter for the washed out effect.


Friday, February 8, 2013

All Dried Up

2/6/13 Sunrise
Last night, our hot water heater sprung a leak.  We had to drain it and turn off all the water in the house.  We have some water stored up for emergencies so we are using that for drinking, and we drew off buckets of water for flushing  etc. before we turned it off.  Still, what a bummer!  It is in situations like this that I am thankful to be a renter, not a home owner.  We have a great landlord and hopefully everything will be fixed by the end of the day with minimal inconvenience to us.

So instead of going to Zumba last night I went with Jason downtown to Logos to pick up some records he had dropped off for trade.  We looked for cookbooks about fermenting and pickling, and they had some good ones. None of them were used however, and Logos only allows trade credit on used books.  I was looking for a used copy of Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn which is our current book club pick.  They didn't have the novel I wanted either so we ended up leaving without getting anything.

Jason also got some sad news last night that an old friend has passed away.  While driving home, I saw some bright red lights in the sky.  We thought they were helicopters but after taking a turn to go down to the beach, we realized they were airborne Luminaries coming from somewhere near Sunny Cove.  I'm sure they were being released for this special lost soul.
Jason and Steve skimming Sunny Cove

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

In Moderation

No Thru Wow, that was fast.  I have an internet troll already!

Over the past few days, an "anonymous poster" has been leaving personal, cruel and sarcastic comments on my recent posts.  You may have seen them.  I have deleted them.

I am 99.9% sure I know who this person is and they are someone who knew me in real life.  The nature of the comments pretty much made it obvious.  Sadly, this person does not have a very strong grip on reality and has clearly gone out of their way to look up my blog and harass me and my husband with juvenile jabs.  Clearly they don't have anything more positive to do with their time.

Well, haters gonna hate.  So unfortunately I have had to switch my comments to moderation for the time being.  Please don't misinterpret this as a fear of negative or constructive criticism.  It is just that this one mentally unstable person is targeting me for harassment, and is not simply providing constructive criticism on my ideas or writing.

In a way this is a blessing.  Now, every time I hit the publish button, I can remember that there is a real "crazy" out there potentially reading my blog.  It helps me to determine what is appropriate to share with the world wide web, and what might be better kept in my private journal.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

February 2013 Resolutions

Keep it Simple
I have been using Gretchen Rubin's monthly resolution system to create and track behaviors that I hope will increase my overall happiness.

My resolutions for February are focused on relationships with my spouse, family, and friends.  In the first area, I have used ideas from Rubin’s 21 Day Relationship Challenge to inspire two goals for improving my and Jason’s relationship.  I should add that Jason and I have an amazing marriage and we already practice many of the tips that Rubin gives in her series.  But every relationship has some room for improvement, and these are just tools to make our partnership even stronger.

The first goal I have is to give an affectionate greeting to Jason in the morning, at night, and when arriving at home.  Too often, my first words in the morning or when I greet him coming home are not kind and affectionate.  I can be very harsh and direct, especially with those close to me.  This resolution is a combination of two of Rubin's suggestions: kiss in the morning, kiss at night and Give warm greetings and farewells. The second goal is to make the positive argument.  Rubin calls this arguing the opposite side.  Whenever I find myself thinking that Jason always leaves the dishes in the sink, for example, I can instead think about all of the times he did not leave the dishes and in fact did all the dishes and cleaned the kitchen.  Soon, I’m thinking of all the things he does that I appreciate instead of the thing that was annoying me.  These are two goals that I intend to practice daily to improve my marriage.

The second two resolutions are in the area of family and friends.  My parents retired to Santa Cruz this year, and we live in the same town for the first time in 17 years.  This year I resolved to see my parents at least once a week while working (it’s a lot easier to get together when I’m on vacation, so that isn't really an issue).  In order to accomplish this goal, I have set up a family hiking group for my family and friends to go on monthly outings.  I have scheduled the first one in a few weeks, and am very excited to see how the first adventure goes!  Although this plan is not for me to see my parents weekly as I would like, I feel like it is a step in the right direction and that other plans will naturally unfold from there.

As far spending time with friends, keeping up with my book club is an important part of connecting with my girlfriends.  Just this week, however, my friend Erin and I have set up a weekly running date which I am very excited about.  I have wanted to get back into running regularly and also spend more time with friends, and this is a perfect opportunity to do both!  Thanks Erin!

As you can see, this month my resolutions are set up a bit differently.  In January, I had four specific things I wanted to be sure and do each day in order to take better care of myself and focus my energy for future goals.  This month, I have two goals that I can practice daily with my spouse, and two goals that I hope to accomplish weekly my socializing with loved ones.  I think these perfectly fit February’s themes of love and appreciation.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Week # 5: Monochrome

Rug This week's photo theme was "monochrome".  This is a shot of an old Native American rug that Jason's grandmother gave us.  It is in our living room.  The geometric patterns look cool in black and white.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

January 2013 Resolutions Update

January Resolutions: How did I Do?
As I previously mentioned, I am focusing this year on one category or area of resolutions each month that are intended to increase my overall happiness.  For January, the focus area was "Take Care of Me" and my resolutions were to: do 10 minutes of yoga and 5 minutes of meditation each morning, to take all my vitamins daily, and to wash my face and brush my teeth each night.

Interestingly, I wasn't able to keep up with completing my chart in every area for the whole month.  My finished chart looks like this:

As you can see, I tracked the first two goals for most of the month and those were the goals I was most successful with as a result.  I gave up on tracking the next two goals about mid-month, but I did keep up with them at nearly the same rate as the first two goals even without tracking.  I gave up on one goal altogether because I realized it was too much to try and accomplish this month.  That goal is to do an 10 minutes of yoga before bed in addition to the 10 minutes each morning.  I have decided to focus on that goal when I work on the "health" resolutions which I have planned for April.

For February I had been debating changing the planned area of "Relationships" to "Home" because I continue to struggle to adopt a housekeeping routine that satisfies me.  But I've decided to stick with the first, planned area because Valentine's Day as well as many loved ones' birthdays  (including Jason and my dad) fall in this month, giving ample opportunity to work on relationships with my spouse, family and friends.  I'm even including my relationship with my pets in this area because they need to be spoken to in kindness and treated as thoughtfully as possible, as well.  They do a lot for me and Jason.

I will write about my February resolutions in another post.  In the meantime...

Delicious Treats:
I have discovered two new delicious culinary treats this week that I found good enough to share.

Thursday was payday (yay!) and I treated myself to some really expensive organic hummus.  I love hummus so this is akin to buying a nice bottle of wine or expensive chocolate for me.  This stuff is like no hummus I have tried before.  It has coconut, yellow curry and jalapenos creating an authentic Thai flavor.  It was worth the $5.  Hey, I said it was fancy stuff!  I will definitely try to re-create a Thai-inspired version when making my own hummus at home.

I also developed a delicious beverage combo for my morning commute.  I only drink 1 (large) cup of coffee a day, then about 2 cups of tea with caffeine and then herbal tea or water the rest of the day.  I usually drink chai tea blends, but one morning I ran out of chai and grabbed a mint yerba mate teabag instead.  After brewing about 1 1/2 cups of that I added a cup of chocolate almond milk.  Wow!  It tasked like a mint hot chocolate.  So delicious.  I was actually taken aback by how good it was.  For a minute I considered kicking coffee for good and swapping it for this magical libation.  That thought soon passed, however, and I returned to reality and relegated this lovely drink to it's appropriate place on my daily post-coffee commute.  Actually, since it's Saturday, I think I'm going to make one right now...