Sunday, May 17, 2009


I have been struggling with what to write here lately. Thus the meager posting I have done.

I decided just for the sake of having something to say, I will talk a bit about the books I have read so far this year. It is no where near what I need to have read based on the list I made for myself. But I have enjoyed my literary journey so far this year

I began the year slogging through World Without End by Ken Follit. I have already posted about was long, enough said.

I have read:

People of the Book
The Shop on Blossom Street
Eat, Pray, Love
Into the Woods
Running with Scissors
Confessions of an Ugly Step Sister
The Russian Concubine

All good reads! Sorry I don't have authors names. Some of the books were from the library or borrowed, I aren't in my possession any longer.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

DD's Prom

This is my dd looking beautiful and excited to be going to her Senior Prom. I was happy taking a million pictures of she and her boyfriend before they left. It was when they left that I became just a bit sad...

As they drove off in the rented 2010 convertible mustang, that DD refused to put the top down in for fear it would ruin her hair, I couldn't help but think about how fast the time has gone by. She is slowly leaving me. She is still my 1st born, and she is still my "girl", but she is growing up so fast! She is mature, poised, and just down right fabulous! Of course all of this is what I wanted, but it is sad to see that most of my work is done. I wish now that I had looked ahead a moment to this time, and enjoyed the journey a bit more. I suppose I could blame the angst that was so much of HER journey to this point! But I won't. What I am going to do is enjoy, well try to enjoy the rest of her journey.

DD, I love you with all of my heart.

To myself, I say you will enjoy the rest whether you like it or not!!! Wait, isn't that what I used to say to her?...

Monday, April 20, 2009

Road trip

This is just one of the many beautiful buildings at CSU Chico. It is an amazingly gorgeous campus!!!! I feel totally comfortable with the idea of my dd going to school there. I was sad too though because I will miss her. She has become not just my dd, but a bff!

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Spring and the winter of my discontent

Ah yes, the signs of spring in my garden. This picture is green, and full of new growth. I feel totally the opposite!

Actually my life is good. I am grateful to have a teaching job (at least until June). My family is healthy...but I am smack in the middle of a PMS funk! That is particularly ironic since I had a hysterectomy 3 years ago!!!!!!!!

I think my life can be summed up as a series of stark contradictions. For example, the fact that I am about 95% gray, and still get pimples! That is just not fair! Neither is the fact I get pms but not a period! I am cranky, sad, just blah! I have been mean to my WH and the kids. I am going to just get over myself and my pity party right now!

So let me talk about my garden. This is but a small section. It is planted rather randomly. I just put stuff in the ground and see what happens. I love to play with combinations of color and texture. I use a lot of purple and yellow because those are the only colors WH can see. He is very color blind. The garden needs trimming, and weeding. I have the next 2 weeks off from work for spring break so I will spend some time with my crazy lady hat, clippers and gloves. This is a very rewarding activity. I will post results as soon as they are available!

Saturday, March 28, 2009


I have been very bad about keeping up with my blog. I have been consumed with work and family life. I know that is exactly what I am supposed to be talking about here, but these things can make me too tired to write. Classic caught between a rock and a hardplace situation!

Work, it is called "work" for a reason! I am loving it, but I expend so much energy controlling the class so that learning is possible, I usually have to come home and take a nap! Forget blogging then. I will say that I do love my job. And, in this economy, I feel grateful to have a job!

The family is good. DD goes back and forth between being excited about going away to college next year, and crying from fear. She and I are going to visit Chico during spring break. I hope that helps her be more excited.

CS is doing ok. He needs to take his meds so that his mood will be stable. He is going to have to learn for himself that life is better on the meds than not. It worries me, but I can't force them down his mouth.

WH is coming to a peaceful place with work. He too is happy to have a job in this economy. That makes the deadline driven nature of his job easier to take. I am glad. This makes his easier to live with when work gets extra busy!

We continue to have happy time together. This is new for our family. One of the kids would usually do something to ruin any time we had together. I think the kids are starting to realize that our relationship as a family is changing. DD leaving to go to college will be a huge change. We will be happy for her and miss her at the same time.

So that is life in the land of the ordinary for now.

Sunday, March 15, 2009


My 14 year old son (cs) has taken to walking around the house asking what he should do with his life. He is coming to the conclusion that he doesn't want to play sports anymore, and therefore his dream of a professional career are going to have to fade away. He is having trouble with the void that is left. He knows he must go to college. I have never discussed anything but WHERE my kids will go to college, not if they will go. I think knowing this is comforting. He is struggling with what comes next. Now I realize that 14 is young to be having a mid-life crisis, but he is like me, and wants to know what the future holds.

My reaction is to be proud, and scared. I am proud that he is mature enough to know that what he does now will effect his future options. I am scared because he is a gentle and sensitive boy. He is truly having a mini crisis. Thankfully he loves to cook, especially to bake. He is actually quite good at it too. He cooks something for us every weekend. He made waffles a couple of weeks ago that were the best I have ever had! So in my mind I can see him in a white shirt with a big hat and flour all over the place! Of course, this is me making plans. He could decide to become a lawyer or teacher next week!

I am just happy that he has an activity he can enjoy (even if it means I will gain lots of weight).

To my CS I say enjoy your journey of discovery...take your time figuring out what you want from life.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009


I had to physically separate 2 boys who were on the verge of a fight in my class yesterday! I was surprisingly calm.. I guess because this wasn't the first fight to almost happen in my class (2nd) I am a pro at handling these situations. YEAH RIGHT. I got a sure of adrenalin and my mind took over my actions. On the one hand I love these kids. They are poor, and lack all or most of the advantages I had as a kid - parental involvement, security at home, a safe neighborhood, etc. I try to put myself in their shoes. So far, I can only imagine what they are going through.

The education system thus far has also failed them. They are 8th graders who read at a 5th grade level. They have been allowed to do things like, keep their notebooks in class because "they aren't responsible enough to take them home and remember to bring them back. That was shocking and scary. If they aren't required to do better than that they won't. I told them to take the notebooks so they can learn to responsible. The notebooks in class is an insult to the kids for one thing. Secondly it enables lack of responsibility. I won't do that. They are going to high school next year and then out into the world. My boss doesn't keep my work materials in his office because I can't be trusted to remember them. In fact, I would lose my job if this were the case.

I am angry. The world tells these kids they "can't do or be" certain things. I refuse to participate in that.

If I can offer a message to the universe...let these kids learn from their mean and crazy history teacher that they can be responsible and do more than they have been told they can do!

Monday, March 9, 2009

Reading and doing

So what does a person who loves to knit and read do to balance. I have just recently discovered a way to do both at the same time. This has been a dream of mine for many years. Yes friends, I have discovered the wonderful world of books on cd!!!! I just listened to the book EAT, PRAY, LOVE on cd and it was a revolution. I can know, knit and crochet to my hearts content, AND stay caught up on my reading. I had to read this book for my book club. I have always said that it would take away from the "reading experience" to listen to someone reading to me. It did not. In fact because it was the author reading it actually added to the experience, and I am more than half way through making a cardigan! I was able to continue reading slowly (a few pages each night in bed) The Queens fool. I am about 2/3s of the way done! I haven't blogged lately because I have been so busy with the knitting and the listening....totally worth it!
The pictures are scenes from family life. It has been really good lately.

Friday, February 27, 2009

How to teach an old dog new tricks!

I have a new camera, but I have been too overwhelmed to use it. The sole purpose of getting the camera in the first place was to add more pictures to my blog and facebook. It hasn't quite turned out that way...

I found out when I got back from my fab Big Bear trip that I had a new job. The job of my dreams. Teaching history in the inner city. The inner city I am referring to is close to downtown Long Beach CA. It definitely meets my criteria. 100% of the students come from economic disadvantage. Many of them live with someone other than their parents, and they have problems that make my worries about affording my mortgage and sending my daughter to college look like the common cold! There is a slight is middle school, 8th grade to be exact - US history.

I don't in principle have anything against 14 and 14 year olds. My adolescence was so horrible, I can't help but feel for what their bodies are putting them through! Add poverty, crime, a run down neighborhood and the temptation to do something illegal to make money to the mix, and you have a recipe for disaster.

These particular kids in my classes have been without a regular teacher since before Christmas. She left to go on maternity leave telling the kids she would be back in April. She changed her mind, and isn't coming back until the fall. I could leave my babies at 9 months so I don't blame her. I hope she is basking in the joy of new motherhood. But the kids have had substitute after substitute. Two of whom were supposed to stay until their teacher came back, and just changed their minds and left. After a week in this situation, I have had thoughts of doing the same, but I can't, and I won't. They are hurting, and their more than average ridiculous behavior is proof. They think of it as a game now. How long will it take us to run her off! Well, I have made a promise to them and myself that I will not be run off. I want them to know, if it takes until June, that they will see the same face when they walk into class. I want them to know that I respect them, and care about them enough to show up even when they make that difficult. Perhaps that will change their behavior. It has already changed me.

I realize that there are many times when teaching is about more than the curriculum, this is definitely one of those time. This position is about gaining their trust and teaching them to respect themselves enough to respect others.

I have begun a major cleaning and organizing campaign in the classroom. They deserve a clean room to work in, as do I. They complained about the smell of bleach, but I think they got the message. I will work on the room until it feels like home.

I have learned that I need to relax about somethings. I have to make sure that the kids who want to learn get what they need, and that those who already know they are going to drop out of high school will get what it is that they need. My first response to that question is to not drop out. But, as true as that is, it is much too obvious. Some of these kids realized that they were going to quit high school 2 years ago. What do I have to teach them. That will be a big part of my learning experience

They definitely need to learn manners. They need to learn to care for themselves and others. They need to figure out how they are realistically going to make it in a bad economy without a high diploma. How will I help them with these things, I have no idea. I do know that I have to think and approach them with my heart and not my head! The rest will be playing it by ear.

Wish me well dear readers - all 4 of you. The best to you all!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Back to Big Bear

Probably the most exciting and frustrating parts of my recent trip to the mountains was getting there. I was really looking forward to the trip until my husband informed me that it was not recommended that chains be put on PT Cruisers.

Well, I must digress and say that my PT (Patience Tiffiany) is my favorite car EVER!!!! It is the ninth car I have owned, and it is the only one that magically makes me cuter! Seriously I am cuter because of this car. The chain situation involved the clearance between the tires and the wheel wells - I think. Anyway my husband told me stories of people getting there cars shredded. Needless to say this did much to damper my enthusiasm. How could a car with shredded wheel wells make me cute? I was terrified!!!!!!!!!

Takiing a leap of faith I listened to my savey neighbor, whose wife owns an almost identical PT and off we went. My husband had not told me he really had no idea how to put the chains on, nor that he had bought the bungee cord like things to keep them in place at the last minute!

I became apparent that their was a problem when we reached the snow line, and almost an hour passed and we were still sitting there with my husband struggling to get the chains on. I had to break into the stash of chocolate we had brought to share with our friends so as not to show my quickly approaching nervous breakdown. Thank GOD for kind strangers who will help hopeless flatlanders put on their chains for beer money. It cost 40 dollars, but the chains were one, and we were on our way.

All was well until we realized that our yahoo map had left out the last turn before the street we were heading to@! We remained calm. (Seriously - most of the time anyway). We cam upon a very stuck pick truck and trailer with some sort of vehicle that resembled a Zamboni! They were blocking the road and very grumpy! They sent us on an hour detour that got us even more lost. We ended up outside of the local Wal greens considering checking into a motel. (Oh, we forgot to make sure that our friends phone numbers were in my cell phone. WH keeps washing his so it only works sporadically!)...I have to get ready for work now much more to come.

Monday, February 16, 2009

One trip...too many blogs...

I just returned home from 3 nights and 2 full days in Big Bear California. It is a resort town in the CA mountains. We were with 4 other couples in a smallish house that barely fit us all.

In spite of the slight, very slight, room issue, the trip was wonderful. I have been dreaming of a snowy ski vacation in which I would stay in the cabin and read and knit! My dream came true! Most every one else either skied or went to do other fun snow activities, I played "Keep my feet off the floor"!

The food was amazing! First of all the sheer amount of snacks, and wine was astounding (pics to follow later). Each couple made a meal. I made my buttermilk blueberry pancakes for Saturday's breakfast.

Dinner on Saturday was Chicken tikka masala with brown rice and curried roasted veggies! I didn't think I was a fan of Indian food. Boy was my mind changed!!!!!!

Breakfast on Sunday was scrambled eggs with onions, bell peppers, bagels and cream cheese! Yumm!!!!!

Dinner on Sunday was butternut squash ravioli made from scratch! Oh MY GOD!!!! I don't like squash, at I didn't used to. I brought a copy of the recipe home with me. I am definitely going to make that!

Even today as we were rushing about to leave, we had veggie, and veggie with ham frittata's and biscuits! Awesome!!!!!

I don't want to even go near the scale for a few days!

I will write more about the trip later....

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Time, or lack there of...

Okay, so a life well lived is one that is full of fun right? Well as I attempt to engage in the activities that I find fun, I realize that I have less and less time to engage in the activities I find fun! Sorry about the circle logic...that is my state of mind at the moment.

I love to knit! I have been indulging this passion with abandon lately! So, I am behind in my reading, gardening, and I haven't been to a yard sale in months! What am I doing wrong?

I have been trying for years to learn how to knit and read at the same time. I remember when I was first knitting, about 16 years ago, and some friends gave me the book "Jitterbug Perfume", by Tom Robbins as a birthday present. They became frustrated with me because I was too busy working on a vest I was knitting it took me too long to finish. I did end up reading the book, and loved it!
I think that a life well lived is full...possibly so full that one feels they have an embarrassment of riches! I am living life as fully as I can!
Ps - I finished The Shop on Blossom Street!! Great book for anyone who likes to knit, or who likes books about female relationships! I am on to the Queens Fool. Will keep you posted!

Sunday, February 8, 2009

The Shop on Blossom Street

I just finished the first book on my list, The House on blossom Street. It tells the story of a woman who has batteled cancer twice, losers her father and decides life is too short to not be doing what you love. He love is knitting, and she opens a yarn shop. Her first class introduces three very different women. Throughtout the process of becoming friends and learning to neat each of their lives is changes. Without giving any more away, I want to highly recommend this book. It is about life, love, marriage, courage, and becoming the woman you were meant to be. If you are looking for your purpose, or are secure with what you are doing with your life,you will enjoy the journey these 4 women take.

I am trying to read the Burnt House by Faye Kellerman for my book club meeting on Thursday evening.. It is not on my list, and not easy to read. Wish me luck. I haven't decided which of my list books I will read next, I am leaning toward, The Queens Fool by Phillipa Gregory.

Happy reading...

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Stitch and Bitch!!

Yes!!! I have joined a knitting group, and it was almost as wonderful as chocolate. I sat for 2 hours knitting and talking to a group of funny and intelligent women. I also discovered that after 16 plus years of knitting, I know little or nothing about the knitting world. I am overwhelmed with the amount of information I ingested tonight!

The best part though was the fact that we had to have a sit in, or should I call it a knit in to get to have the meeting. As far as I understand it, the group has been meeting at the Barnes and Noble on PCH in Long Beach for several years. The community events coordinator was let go, and we were informed that there "is not a Februrary calendar". Apparently in this extremely intelligent mans mind no calendar equals no meeting. We asked if we could just go sit in the events area and make a circle of about 12 and knit. Although the employee never said no directly it was heavily implied! We stood outside the store for about half an hour trying to decide upon an alternate location. We came to the conclusion that since 2 members of the group had actually made purchases, and the people in the evenst area hadn't that we could just go and knit. Well, the employee wasn't happy, but he got a few extra chairs. All was well in the end, but I will think twice before purchasing books at Barnes and Noble in the future!

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

World Without End, Ken Follit

Anyone who has read Pillars of the Earth and enjoyed its description of medieval life in Europe, and the building of the massive Cathedrals we still enjoy today was probably excited at the thought of another such book by Ken Follit. World Without End takes place a couple of hundred years later. Europe hasn't changed much. The feudal system is still firmly in place at the beginning of the book, the church is still corrupt, as is the local government. The rich get richer, and the poor stay poor!

Unfortunately, this book like its title suggests didn't know when to end. I was ready for the story to be over by about page 800. Knowing that I had just over 2oo more pages to go, made me weary. I love a long book. When a book is really good, I don't care how long it is. I want to continue my relationship with the characters for as long as possible. I take the journey with the characters of a book that really captures my attention. The problem with this book is that there are too many characters that lack any redeeming qualities. I found myself hoping for the worst outcome possible for about half of the people in this book. I was not disappointed. However, it became a chore to read after awhile. I am not one to just stop reading after 800 pages, and so I pushed on. Besides, my husband and mother had read the book, and I wanted to be able to talk to them about it! The conversations have been mostly about how awful most of the characters were! Even the "good" characters were sometimes frustrating!

The final disappointment was finally finding out about a secret that could destroy all of England if uncovered. This devastating secret was revealed somewhere between page 900 and 1000. As I read it all I could think was..."this is what all of the fuss was about?" Perhaps I was weary from the rest of the book, but talk about anti-climatic!!!!!!

I will end with saying that you should definitely read Pillars of the Earth. It is an engaging and incredibly well written novel! If you LOVE it read World Without End with the caveat that it is not of the same caliber, but I am glad I read it.

I am now about 159 pages into a sweet novel about a yarn store, The Shop on Blossom street. I needed something light, and this book is on my 2009 to read list.

I love reading....

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Life is good

Hello to all in cyberspace who may be reading this...

The random picture, which has nothing what so ever to do with my blog is of a bowl of blackberries, blueberries, rasberries, and strawberries. I like the picture, and it comes from a good memory of the last time I made pancakes for the family ( a couple of weeks ago)

The second half of 2008 was very difficult for me and my family. My husband was very sick, and had to be hospitalized, and I was having great difficulty with someone at work. My husband is now healthy, and the problem person is no longer an issue, I'll leave it at that.

So 2009 is here, and going from good to better. In keeping my resolve to be positive and to nurture friendships, we have had a couple over for dinner, and I am going to spend some "girl" time with the wife. I have made a new friend, had lunch with her, and invited she and her husband and kids over for dinner. We had a great evening with another we have known for several years at their house sitting outside around a bonfire toasting marshmallows and making samores! I have attended a meeting of the currents events groups of the chapter of AAUW to which I belong. I am going to my first Stitch and Bitch meeting on this coming Wednesday! That is a group of people who like to knit, crochet, and talk! And, I have been going to the gym with my a dear friend who I have known since the 9th grade! We live a mile apart, in the same town in which we grew up.

Other things have been going right as well. My DD, you may have read was accepted into her first choice for college, California State University, Chico. She has started to listen to me, and even asks for my advice on things! My CS has begun doing chores with much less argument. He is not happy about the fact that we have decided to attend church more regularly, and that we want him to begin preparation to be confirmed. Being confirmed in the Episcopal Church is not compulsory, but it is, as my dd told cs, "just what we do! Once he has gone through the process, if he does not feel drawn to church, I will allow him make up his own mind. My parents gave me that gift! I give it to my children, after they are confirmed!

My overall feeling of well being has increased a thousand fold. I know we are in tough times, but I am not going to let that make me miserable. Yes, the economy is bad, yes we are at war, but life has to go on. With a prayer in my heart for prosperity sooner rather than later, and peace on earth, I choose happiness!

My you all find peace, love and joy!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009


I have been teaching at a wonderful school, in a safe neighborhood. Most of the students are middle-class. I have had to wonderful opportunity to work with honor's students and others who are capable, and for the most part motivated to learn. In other words, they would "get it" even from a teacher who lacks conviction and passion. No offense to any teachers out there feeling burned out. It is a major hazard in the teaching profession!

I want to work with kids who would NOT get it without the support of a dynamic school environment and/or a dynamic teacher. My passion for doing this work is a driving force for me to constantly improve my practice as a teacher.

I may be leaving the standard public school arena and moving to a charter school. This will require to up my game and put my money where my mouth is. My sister is a principal at a charter middle school in Southern CA. She requires her teachers to submit, for approval, lesson plans a week in advance. Although I have reservations about this, including, but not limited to - "What do you do if you can't finish your lesson, and what if you need to reteach? I haven't spoken with her about this. She is very busy, so I don't call too often. Besides, to keep peace in the family, I would not got work for my sister. I love her, we are very different, and often have trouble communicating.

Truly though, If I want to be a "kick ass" teacher, wouldn't I want to make it a practice to plan well ahead so that I could be more successful? By that I mean, planning ahead with the caveat that I would need to be flexible!

Any and all comments are welcome!

Sunday, January 25, 2009


As I type, the smell of a roasting chicken is wafting through my house! We are having company for dinner. Nothing fancy, but I set the table to look pretty and have planned a nice meal.

1st course - Potato, Leek, Cheddar Cheese Soup

2nd course - Roasted chicken, linguine with alfredo sauce, sauteed Swiss chard, and steamed carrots

Dessert - Kahlua cheese cake with chocolate shavings!

I am looking forward to a relaxing time of good conversation and yummy food!

Friday, January 23, 2009

Darling daughter

I sit at my computer tonight feeling better about life than I have for some time. My dd got her acceptance letter from California State University, Chico today! This was her first choice!!!!! There was a time when i had real concerns about her willingness to finish high school much less make it to pursue higher education. Whew......

Cal State Chico is a lovely campus in Northern CA. It has the look and feel of an eastern college. It is a residential school, so the campus life is easy to enjoy! I'm just glad she gets to have the "away" at college experience at a good school!

She wants to major in philosophy. So like my dd. She has her head in the clouds, and is always much too busy thinking great thoughts to worry about the mundane realities of life! She is even considering a PhD and becoming a professor. Because she comes from a family of public school teachers, she balks at the idea of following in our footsteps. However, I think that teaching is genetic. Honestly, if I could go back and change one thing in my life and still be able to end up where I am now, I would have gotten a PhD, and become a history professor!

To my daughter I say: I am proud of you. You have achieved something most people only dream of. Work, play, laugh, and stay focused! You are amazing, and I look forward to seeing what amazing and surprising things you will do. I love you!!!!!

To myself I say: Job well done. You have raised a thoughtful, intelligent daughter. It wasn't easy at all, but you never gave up. Enjoy this moment.

To the world I say: 2009 is already one of my best years. Keep the faith. The economy is in large part dependant upon our confidence in its ability to sustain us. Pray, meditate, or whatever you do.


Thursday, January 22, 2009

Life on the color line

For all of you who may be wondering what it feels like to be both black and white, and for those of you who have never given it a moments thought I would like to share 2 poems I wrote about a year ago...


I look inside for
my story to tell
the history, the people,
the place.

I look inside for a fortress
in which to dwell
and all I see is a
white woman's face

I look all around for
open brown arms
the promise of embrace
I look outside for community
and instead there is a problem called race

I am from the future
one in whom all the
world resides
They're not ready yet
and so I wait for the change of the tides

You look at me and say
You're not black
You're too light
I look in the mirror I am not white

You listen to me then say
You're not black
You talk too right
I listen to my voice
I am not white

You touch my hair and say
You're not black
The curls are too soft and not tight
I run my fingers through my curls
I am not white

You may say I'm not black
My skins too light
My voice too right
My curls aren't tight

But mother Africa calls to me at night!

These are for all the members of my family who have had the same experiences.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

The Oath of Office

Was I the only one who was bothered by the total mess up of the oath of office? I know it is just words, or so some would say. I happen to be one who believes that words are extremely important. Perhaps that is part of my need to keep a blog, or the reason I study different versions of history and agonize over the difference between the meanings and conotations of words.

When I read that President Obama had retaken the Oath I was relieved! I was waiting for some right wing extremist to claim Obama had not actually become president because of the problem. We do live in the world where his citizenship was questioned as late as weeks after the election. I am elated about Obama's presidency, but I a pragmatic too. He will have to dot every i, and cross every t as he goes about his duties, as had the "first" black person to hold every other important position.

I don't know the details of why this was done, but I will sleep better tonight!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Inaguration Day

Okay, where to I start...

Today was simply magical. The graciousness with which our country changes power is a thing of true beauty. No one was more glad than I to see FORMER President Bush get into that helicopter and fly away for the last time! But he was treated with respect by the crowd, and President and Mrs. Obama. (I love the sound of that!!!!)

I wore my Obama t-shirt to work for the first time today. This was a difficult decisions. There is much disagreement among history teachers about how much of our political views we should share with our students. My dd profoundly explained when I was making the decision, that it is no longer a political statement, but an act of patriotism. Anxious for a good reason to wear the shirt I used her thoughts, and put 2 Obama buttons on the shirt!!!!! The majority of my students were in favor of Obama, so I if I offended anyone, it was only a few. They know that I respect the office of the presidency separately from the holder, so they realize that I am happy about Obama, and having our democracy!

The older people, especially those of African descent were the most moving to me. I did not think I would live to see a person of African descent become president. I can't imagine the feelings of people like my 95-year-old grandmother who was born 6 years before women got the right to vote! She lived in the Jim Crow south for many years in her childhood. Today was a triumph on so many levels.

Malia and Sasha were adorable! It is nice to have kids in the white house! The joy of watching kids is a universal thing that will bring people of all sorts together to smile and celebrate!

Mrs. Obama's inauguration outfit was awesome! She nailed it. The gloves, the dress with the gorgeous collar of rhinestones, and that amazing coat were an excellent choice. The evening dress was a bit of a challenge. On my parents 57 inch tv she look like a cotton ball! She looked much better on our old fashion 27 inch. I knew there was a good reason we weren't buying one of those uber expensive flat screen monstrosities!!!

I will sleep better tonight, dreaming of a better tomorrow for the US and the World!

Monday, January 19, 2009

Books I want to read in 2009

First tonight's dinner...

Cabbage sauteed in olive olive with scallions (I think, they were big green onions!), buttermilk mashed potatoes (from scratch!!!!) and bbqed porter house steaks (thanks WH!!) He liked the potatoes so much you can see him "sneaking seconds right from the pot!! FYI We split the steak. It just looked nicer having the whole thing on the plate!
Now the books???
This list is meant to serve 2 purposes, keep me reading the ever growing stack of books on my "unread books shelf", and give me incentive to actually complete the list. There will of course be book club books, hopefully a new Diana Gabaldon, Outlander book, and a new Phillipa Gregory book to name only a few...
I want my epitaph to read "So Many Books...No More Time". My kids think this is ridiculous, which makes me sure it is clever and brilliant!
Dreams of My Father and Audacity of Hope by Barack Obama
The Burnt House
The Queen's Fool, Phillipa Gregory
The First Hour I believed, Wally Lamb
John Adams, David McCullough
Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister, Gregory McGuire
The River of Doubt: Theodore Roosevelt's Dark Journey, Candice Millard
WEBDubois: Biography of a race, David Levering
Benjamin Franklin, Ronald W. Clark
The Souls of Black Folk, WEBDubois
Wives of the Signers (primary source collection of wives of the signers of the Declaration of Independence)
Peace Like a River, Leif Enger
The Russian Concubine, Kate Turnivall
Portrait in Sepia, Isabel Allende
Reading Lolita in Tehran, Azar Nafisi
The Piano Tuner, Daniel Mason
Faulkner: A Biography, Joseph Blotner
The Kite Runner, Khaled Hosseni
War and Peace, Leo Tolstoy
The Shop On Blossom Street, Debbie Malomber
A place of Hiding, Elizabeth George
East of Eden, John Steinbeck
Something by Shakespeare
The Guns of the South, Harry Turtledove
This is an ambitious list, but I am committed. I must finish the last 200 pages of "World Without End by Ken Follit first.
Suggestions are welcome!

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Old Friends

Today I heard from an old friend on my facebook page. She and I had been best friends and neighbors! We had shared so many good times, and helped each other through bad times. I have also gotten in touch with a couple of other old friends recently as well. It is a comfort and joy.

Let me explain...

As I have mentioned, I divorced my first husband. Although I grew up in CA, we lived in Northern VA. I had made a wonderful group of friends there. When my husband and I were splitting up it was all very weird and confusing. I wasn't sure when I left VA if I was moving back to CA, or leaving my marraige. I just knew I had to make a change that involved me going back to my real home, CA. I lied to my friends and told them my husband was getting transfered. They were and are still happily married. I just didn't know how to explain how unhappy I was. There was confusion on their part too as events unfolded and I eventually divorced, or rather was divorced by my ex.

Well anyway, I hope the fact that we have reconnected means that they have let the past go, and are willing to accept that what happened was meant to be. I am very happy now with my wh, and the life we have. I have explained this to them. They have said they are happy for me.

Friendship is one of the most important things we have as we take our journey on this planet! I am going to make it a point to stay in touch with these ladies. I have in fact made it a goal for this year to make and nuture friendships. I need women to talk to and share the special bonds that are only formed in female friendships.

2009 just keeps getting better!

No cooking this weekend! No extra time. My husband is going to bbq porterhouse steaks tomorrow. I think I will make steamed cabbage and buttermilk mashed potatoes.

Friday, January 16, 2009


I have decided that I will try to use my extra time on the weekends to cook food for during the week. I don't have any ideas about what to cook this weekend. I know I want to make the sauteed swiss chard tomorrow. I will have to come up without something else. Suggestions please! I have this friend, who is also a blogger - figslavendercheese - She is never at a loss for things to cook. I think I will take a cook book to bed with me tonight and puruse for something yummy, not to complicated, and that will last a few days for left overs during the week. I feel like making a soup of some kind. I think it will be something creamy! I will let you know.

In the mean time, time day has been good. I am still sore from the yoga, but I am going back tomorrow morning! I want to get back in to shape!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009


I went to a yoga class today at the gym I joined recently! Besides the fact that I am proud of myself for my renewed committment to my health and fitness, the yoga rocked!

Before I left the house, my dd and 2 friends were at the house working on a school project. One of my daughter's friends asked me if I was worried about it being awkward going to yoga for the first time. I explained to her that at 46 I don't really have many awkward moments any more. Those went away somewhere between 39 and now! She then asked if I was worried about people farting. I laughed. I asked her if she was serious, which being 17, of course she was. I told her as a teacher I don't get through the day without a kid farting in class. It accured to me that I would feel awkward if I farted in class. That made the kids crack up!!!

Well anyway, off I went to yoga. The room was dimly lit, there was asian influenced new age music. My heart rate went up, and I sweated off at least a pound! I got the same great feeling you get after any other kind of excercise. I am sorry to say that I am not nearly as flexible or strong as I was say 8 years ago. I am happy to say, that I know I can get there again! Oh, and nobody farted!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009


I let it slip a few days ago to my students that I have a blog. They are now on a quest to try to find me! It is only a matter of time. They are students in a technology magnet program at a public school. They know their way around computers.

So, for when they find me, this is what I have to say to them...

Welcome to my blog. I almost slipped and used my name. That would have made it too easy!! :) I want you all to know that it is an honor to spend my days with you. Yes even those of you who sometimes make me shake my head (you know who you are!!) I love being a teacher! I love helping you understand why we have to learn from the past to be better in the present. I love learning from you about what is "tight", and what is a"whack"! I love when you make me laugh with you, and even at myself! When I see or hear one of you make a discovery about history or life, it makes my heart soar. When you laugh at me for tripping or bumping into furniture, you make me take life less seriously. I learn more from you than you do from me.

Yes, I realize this is a very dorky blog. I am a giant dork. That is one of the reasons you love me, and tried to find me. :) You know it is true.

Be well, work hard, laugh out loud and keep your eyes on the prize.

Peace out!

Monday, January 12, 2009

I stand corrected

My sister is in the middle with her son, my mom is on the far right, and I am on the left

Before I start, I want to say that life is good! My kids are self-absorbed brats, but I love them, and they love me! MY wh is such a loving and kind man. He just gets me! It makes our life so easy. We fight, but we talk, and we talk some more, and then we laugh, hug and thank our blessings!

Okay, so for the topic of the day...

I told my mother about my new adventure in the world of blogging. She was interested and read what I have written. I won't quote what she said because I would feel like I was bragging, but let it suffice to say she enjoyed what she read!

She did however want me to be sure that I understood exactly what the dna testing said about her and my father. My mother is 49% African, 1% Asian, and 50% European. My father is 53% African and 47 % European. Okay that is done! Those of you out there have the real truth. That makes me 51% African, .5% Asian, and 48.5% European, I think!

I have to ask myself why it was so important that I be so exact about the numbers. I know the answer already...The more European, the better. (I'm sorry Mom) In a society where until November 4th, White was right, I don't really blame her. The fact that she grew up in a city that has a community of light skinned people of mixed racial descent who kept to themselves makes this even more likely.
My daughter and a friend...put her
by mistake...can't delete now!
Besides, I know my mother. She doesn't want race, and skin color to matter, but they do. She is a product of her upbringing. There is much there of which to be proud. The fact that both of her parents, grandparents, and great grand parents had college educations is a source of great pride for my mother and for me! Her grand father had a PhD! I love telling people that my great grandfather, an African American who served in WWI had a PhD. That makes me feel special. I feel a great sense of duty to those upon whose shoulders I stand. And, if they were more concerened about skin then I would like to be, so be it, I am still very proud of them (Mom, I love you!)

Sunday, January 11, 2009


So I thought it was time to reexamine the reason I am blogging.

First, I want to leave behind a record of my life. I titled my blog notes from the ordinary because, although I am definitely not boring, I am not extraordinary either. I am a mother, wife, daughter, sister, friend, teacher, etc. I live out of the limelight of our celebrity obsessed society. My life is simple. I love clothes, so I buy them at Target. I love to decorate my cozy 4 bedroom house, so I paint, garden, and rearrange furniture. I like to travel, so we go where we can for as inexpensively as we can. We are going camping in Northern CA this summer. (Teenage daughter is not happy about this. She may pass on the trip!) I am also a homebody. There is no where I would rather be than my own house! I buy antique (used) furniture, jewelry and just about anything else.

Second, I feel like it is a good idea to document one's life just for one's self! In 5 years I will laugh and smile, and maybe cry about what I write here!

Finally, I have mentioned the fact that I am mixed race. This has allowed me to live in two worlds. Although I don't feel completely comfortable in either. I do know more about more about "white" culture than most "black" people, and definitely more about black people that white. This allows me to have a perspective on things that is unique. I do not prefer either culture. My first husband was black. We divorced because of a basic difference in values that was not race related, it was socio-economic. He was raised poor on a farm in rural North Carolina. I was raised middle-class in Northern Orange (I will explain the importance of this distinction another time). We had different assumptions and expectations, and let a physical attraction go way tooooo far! My second (and last) husband (wh - wonderful husband) is white. He is the first generation son of English immigrants. His father and Uncles started a sheet metal business that his cousins still run. They were successful, and my husband was also raised middle-class, first in Palos Verdes CA, and then Thousand Oaks CA. Even though his parents speak with an accent, use funny words, and eat strange food, they raised wh and his brother with the same values as my parents raised my sister and I. We look at life in a very similar way!

Oh my, did I get off track! I guess that means it is time to say goodbye for now. Thanks for reading!

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Family life

WH at the computer with a glass of wine!

My Tuna casserole (it did not request me to not use its name!)
CS(charming son) texting in family room!

Me and dd(darling daughter)
It is a strange thing having teenage kids. One day I am the most stupid, or embarrassing person alive. On those days they don't want to look at me much less talk to me.

Yesterday was however one of the rare days when both of my kids were in the mood to belong to a family. They used to beg for family movie, or game nights. I would cringe at the thought of watching Harry Potter of some other of their favorites for the hundredth time! The games
were even worse, my son has ADHD, and evening has never been a good time for him. Movies would keep his attention, if he wasn't winning a game he was whining, constantly talking or anything else he could to make the rest of us miserable. I never thought I would miss those nights, but lately I have.

Last night my wh requested Tuna casserole for dinner. I make a good casserole, but I had given him the choice of anything he wanted...and that's what he chose. While I was making the casserole, my son was coming in and out of the kitchen talking to me and (you'd better sit down) offering to help! I added spinach to my recipe, and put extra wine in it to make it special - definitely worked! We sat at the dining room table and had a proper dinner together! There was pleasant conversation. The kids kept the bickering to a minimum, and a good time was had! I knew there was something special about the night at this point. The kids asked if we could play The Office Trivia game I had given my husband for Christmas. He is often too tired on Fridays for this sort of thing. But the magic of the night had him excited about the game! It was fun just reading the directions and setting up the game. We were confused at first about the rules, but it became really funny as we started to understand. When we actually began to play the laughing tripled. It was so so much fun!!!!! I haven't laughed that much in a long time. The best part was that my husband won, and my son never even pouted once! Family can be magic. It was for mine last night.

I decided I wanted to hold on to the magic for just a bit longer. I made pancakes with strawberries, blueberries, raspberries and blackberries for breakfast. They were a huge hit with the family. I don't cook much...maybe that is part of the magic. I will have to try again and see.

Friday, January 9, 2009

My background!

Me and my son!

My daughter and my older nephew

My Mom and younger nephew

I alluded in my rambling description to the fact that I am 50% African. I must explain this so that anyone who stumbles upon my writing will understand what that actually means.

I am not 50% African in the same way that our future president is. I do not have a parent from a country in Africa (I really bothers me that Africa's many nations are lumped together as if they are homogeneous.) Anyway, both of my parents are 50% African. My mother is 48 % European, and 2% Asian, and my dad is 50% European.

If you haven't figured it out by now, this is how it happened. Both of my parents are "mixed", and both of their parents were mixed, and their grand parents were mixed, and their great-grand parents were mixed...

I have a cousin on my mother's side of my family who has worked to find out about the family. He has found census records back to the mid 19th century. We were mulatto that far back. On my mother's father's side, the family lived in Philadelphia, and there is no evidence that there was ever a slave in the family. My mother's mother's side of the family, as well as both sides of my father's family are from South Carolina. We don't know the name of a family member who was a slave, but I assume there probably were slaves. My mom likes to think that her family was one of the few free black families in the South. I don't see why it matters. Besides, even if we did find family evidence of a free person living in the South Carolina that would suggest a couple of things: that person or their parent had been emancipated at some point - slave, and/or that person might not have been particularly smart. Of course family is a great motivator when decision making, but I think I would have gotten the h%*% out of there!

So, I come from a long line of light skinned black people. They worked hard to retain the privilege of their lighter skin by marrying only people with similar skin tone and European features.

That is enough for now. I will add a picture later. I have a great one of my immediate family, but I need to scan it!

Thursday, January 8, 2009


This is Minnie! She is a mini dachshund. She will be 2 years old in March. She has been a member of our family since June of 2007! This is a good story...
We visited my bff in Jacksonville FL in the fall of 2006. Her family has an adorable mini dachshund named Mickie! My wonderful husband (wh) and I fell in love with him and decided that we would get a dachshund sometime in the future. I said it had to be after we got the hardwood floors I had been wanting forever! (I have the only house built in the '50s that didn't have wood floors!!!) Anyway in June just as school was ending I saw an ad in the Pennysaver for a mini dachshund female puppy for a very reasonable price. Just as a joke I showed it to my wh. Much to my surprise, his response was, "Let's go take a look at them." I was shocked. I realized that if we got a puppy it would take up all of my relaxation time! I was having second, nay, third thoughts! So to call my husbands bluff, I said, "I'll only get a dog if I get my hardwood floors". I knew this would be the end of the discussion! I couldn't have been more wrong. He said "okay".
I was the one whose bluff had been called! We went to look at the puppies, Minne (our name for her) crawled into my lap and fell asleep as soon as we got there. It was a done deal! We brought her home and have fallen more in love everyday since. OH yes, and I got my much wanted hardwood floors!
She is a funny little dog. She will run out of the house and as far away as possible if she gets the chance. But at home she does nothing but sleep all day. Sleep is a major part of her life. She is the only dog I know who sleeps in. It annoys her when we get up early on work days and wake her up. When we sleep in on the weekends, she doesn't start whining to go out until 9:30 or 10:00! I have never known a dog like that. She will curl up as close to one of us as possible on the couch, or in a chair, and her eyes just can't stay open. There are occasional moments when she runs around the house as if she has been possessed by a hurricane. We call these "Big Mac Attacks". They happen about once or twice a week.
My in-laws live near a lot of undeveloped land, and they have lots of wildlife in their yard. When we were in Hawaii in June Minnie spent 10 days with them. She attacked and killed about 6 or 7 poor little baby rabbits. The in-laws are very nice and never said how upset they were. My father-in-law loves those bunnies. I know he was very sad!
So we have a lazy but vicious killer beast of a dog. She doesn't do much but sleep and cuddle, but she got me my hardwood floors!

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Resolved: I will work to be a more positive person!

When you suffer from depression, you have to work to stay positive. From this moment on I am going to make an effort to make my blogs happier! I can't promise I won't go on a rant about politics, or my family, but I will try to keep this to a minimum. I think I am at my best when i am counting my blessings.

Yesterday, my wonderful husband was in a fender bender. He was rear ended when he had to stop quickly to avoid hitting a crossing guard and some kids! First lets applaud his heroism! There was a long line of SUVs waiting to turn down the street to take their kids to school. When the crossing guard suddenly appeared from behind one of them it was a shock. Thank goodness he still has quick reflexes! Wait, I am the old one in the relationship, not him.

Anyway, he was unhurt!!! YIPPEE!! We can't really tell if our 10 year old Mazda 626 was hurt or not! It is an understatement of colossal proportions to say that it has has its share of "mishaps", including, but not limited to baseballs, rocks, baseball bats...(14 year old son)! The other drivers insurance company was able to see however, that the car has sustained $620.00 in damages! I think it is truly a gift to be able to put a dollar amount on the damage of 10 years of owning a car minus what was done when your client couldn't stop quickly enough!

We are happy! My husband is okay, the care is paid for, and still works fine, and we have a few hundred dollars that are badly needed! We are broke.

I think that this is a sign of great things to come in 2009!

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Books I read in 2008!

Stormy Weather, Carl Hiaasen
The Other Boleyn Girl, The Virgin's Lover, The Contstant Princess, The Boleyn Inheritance and The Other Queen, Phillippa Gregorey
A Thousand Splendid Suns, Khaled Hosseini
Life in the Time of Cholera, Gabriel Garcia Marquez
Uncle Tom's Cabin, Harriet Beecher Stowe
The Invisible Wall, Harry Bernstein
The Mermaid Chair, Sue Monk Kidd
Atonement, Ian McEWAN
The Glass Castle, Jeannette Walls
Rashi's Daughters Book II: Miriam, Maggie Anton
The Red Scarf, Kate Furnivall
The Grapes of Wrath, John Steinbeck
Wicked, Gregory McGuire

I tried to read Satanic Verses, Salman Rushdie - but I started having nightmares about 2/3s of the way through!!!

I am about 700 pages into World Without End, Ken Follitt. It is awesome!

All in all a good literary year! I would recommend all them except Satanic Verses and Life in the Time of Cholera. I already mentioned the nightmares. Life in the Time of Cholera was a lifetime journey to nowhere! It ended where it began. I like a book that takes you on a trip to somewhere new, and shows the characters change with the events they encounter. The circular journey of LINTOC was disappointing to say the least!

I met Phillippa Gregory in September at a book signing event. She is an absolute wonder. She is funny, intelligent, and it is obvious why her books are so good. I am looking forward to her upcoming series about the Plantagenet dynasty in Medieval England!!!

If anyone is out there, please send suggestions for good books to read. It is my mission in life to keep the publishing companies in business! Books are the only "things" I could not live without!

Monday, January 5, 2009

Walking through Jello

I have a confession to make. I have depression. I have walked through much of my life feeling like I am walking through jello. I have sought treatment. I take medication, but sometimes I still feel really sad, hopeless, and worthless. When I told my daughter I had titled my blog "notes from the ordinary" she asked me if I really felt ordinary? I don't know if I was feeling depressed, or what, but I said kind of yes. She said that was silly and went back to her life of self absorption. I went on to feel so depressed by this morning that I could barely get myself to go to work.

I went to a new doctor today and he put me on a new medication. (Thanks to my amazing husband, who called and made the appointment for me!) I have my fingers crossed. It always makes me feel better knowing there is a possibility of feeling better... I hope it works.

I do most of the things people with depression are supposed to do most of the time (count my blessings, spend time doing things I like, making myself get out of the house and see people). I don't eat correctly. I have a chocolate addiction that is overwhelming! I am trying to use sugar free chocolate pudding to satisfy my cravings. (It works sometimes). If it does should I say that I am walking with pudding? Stupid joke, sorry!

To whom did I just apologize? Do I really thing someone out in cyberspace is reading this? Actually, I kind of hope there is. Why does that sound so pathetic? I am depressed, and lonely. I have friends, they just seem far away. So, I write this blog for myself, and any other lonely person who may feel less lonely knowing that I am here, well, feeling lonely.

It is time for bed. I must make my way through the jello to take a shower and read a few pages of "World Without End" by Ken Follett, before rebooting for tomorrow's journey.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Good Morning!

Well the world seems a bit brighter this morning! After sending me into the depths of sorrow with his question about the situation in the middle east, my husband sat quietly at his computer and suddenly my favorite version of Somewhere over the rainbow/What a wonderful world was playing on the ukulele by Iz ? the Hawaiian guy. He knows how much I love those songs! It definitely cheered me up. We hugged and danced. It was a beautiful moment! I felt much better.

Things got even better when my daughter called to say that she was watching "Steel Magnolias". She said she had called because she knew that I had watched that movie for the first time the night that I sat up in labor with her! Considering the fact that there are times I she barely remembers my name that was a monumental event. I felt overwhelmed with joy and the urge to just squeeze her until she screamed for me to stop. However, since this conversation took place via a phone call that was impossible!

I had to call her back to tell her that it was all I could do not to get out of bed at that very moment and write in my blog how wonderful I felt! I know I will be annoyed both with my daughter and my husband within only a matter of hours, but for now, I am basking in the warmth of their love!

I am also making soup! Very rare! I don't like to cook. I would like to like to cook, but it just hasn't happened!

Saturday, January 3, 2009

What was God thinking?

So much for trying to be optimistic about 2009!
I just read a timeline of the hostilities between Israel and Hamas! I had been trying to avoid too much information about the situation. (Head in the sand approach to happiness) My husband asked me if there was any news on the situation since I was sitting at the computer! YIKES!!!

Okay, so here is my question? How does an intelligent person avoid depression and be an informed citizen of the world at the same time? Seriously, I am crushed by hopelesness when I read about what is going on between Israel and Hamas. I read the comments of world leaders and found no comfort there. Especially since both our soon to be former president, and our president elect did not make any comments at all. They are being made aware of the situation! Does that mean what I think it does? They are both too busy to comment?

I am not a regular attendee of a church, but I do believe in God the Creator. What was the point of creating this beautiful world, and then putting such selfish, stupid, greedy, violent people on it?

I know, not everyone is selfish, greedy, or violent. In fact most people thankfully are not. But those who are seem to be the ones who affect how we all live. Why is that? And, why can't I just live my life happily ignorant of the pain of those on the other side of the world? Why, because, I was raised to care, and I believe we are supposed to care! Damn, that makes it so hard!

I live in Orange County CA, I should be able to be shallow, and selfish!

My first blog

Okay, so the presumptuous nature of having a blog is not lost on me. HOWEVER, I have felt for a long time that I have something to say.Inspired by me longtime college friend, I have decided to just have my say, and see what, if anything happens.

I am trying to be optimistic in spite of global warming, violence, hatred, economic problems... Optimism, although elusive, is not proving totally impossible. The US will have a new president in 18 days. It seems like too much to put on the shoulders of one mere mortal, but I am hopeful that with the help of many equally intelligent, hardworking and compassionate people, some of our problems can be helped.

On a personal note, I am trying to take better care of myself, and live with conviction and laughter!