Wednesday, October 22, 2014

NRU California Sights Edition

Ojai is a kind of earthy/crunchy super elite all to itself -- but I bet these shops are a ton of fun.  If only I had time, money and inclination to spend my little free time shopping. I would definitely take these in under those circumstances.

I think the drought is a great reason to rethink how to decorate our houses -- that is with plant wildlife. Still have that pipedream of going hiking to take pictures of all the wonderful drought resistant plants that grow in our backyards!

This used to be a California only thing, but I heard on the radio that several other states and even countries would partake -- in order to get ready for THE BIG ONE.  Sometimes I think we should be worrying more about the many not so big ones.  All I know is that we used to drop and curl under our school desks every month -- though I don't remember how many times a year we went out for the fire drill.  [NOTE: I am drafting this on the day 10/16/14 after the 10:16am practice -- and THE BIG ONE did not show up for fun or anything.]

One, I am not sure that this is news.  Two, I don't find it visually remarkable -- I can't tell what is different even though it says there right in the caption.  Though it may be that I never paid attention to it in the first place.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Education NRU, more bits

Uh... I started this the other day, and then this happened. So, read the rest with the knowledge that I was just anticipating from what I had read.   You will note that this is Thursday and yet this is really not a poetry or quote.  But, news intervened.  I will get to the quote tomorrow.

I saw this steady stream of education pieces focused on Deasy and his missteps at LAUSD, and I should have wondered: How has this man incurred the wrath of the LA Times?  I heard a piece on Warren Olney's LA call in show on the way home from somewhere, and it added to the intrigue.  Apparently, there is a fight to the death to see if they will buy out Deasy's contract with all the typical crew checking in from here and there.  The union wants him out.  No surprise, since he has done nothing to cultivate teachers as partners.  The board has adherents and detractors -- also not surprisingly.  Olney had the head of the union on and they hashed out all of the serious problems facing the district and places where Deasy has not made it better or done questionable things that have threatened to make it worse.  It is sad to say that the Jefferson mess has turned into two black eyes, one for the district and one for Deasy for many reasons, but that all anyone can think about is how should they apply the concealor.  Antonia Hernandez was another guest who favors keeping Deasy to the end of his contract.  I am not sure what all of her reasons really are -- but I have to admit that I agree.  On the one hand, it is not clear that he can be effective if so many are now turned off by his leadership style and decision making process.  But, how will buying him out and having to buy another big ticket superintendent help?!  We don't fire superintendents no matter how much we think we do... they get a nice fat paycheck while they look for their next job.  No "fired" superintendent is really hurt in this process ... they almost always bounce back into other equally troubled districts with similar results.  Her final plea, perhaps, was the most convincing and sad, who on earth would want this job if this is how we behave?

I saw one comment on an article at calling for the state to take over the district, ala Oakland several years ago.  I mulled that -- and several evenings later, as I pulled a grocery bag out of my trunk, I wondered if it wouldn't be a terrible idea.  But the state really only cares if the district goes bankrupt, right? 

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

ahem... new addiction

I will interrupt this pity party with a link to my latest addiction: SERIAL.

This American Life gave us the first episode of the spin off - and yes, I am at least a week behind.

If you are not sure if you want to join in on this addiction, I invite you to read this post.  If you are not hooked by that post, then it truly is not for you.

I am about to devour episode 2 and try to keep from listening to episode 3 too soon ... I have a 28 hour train ride, wait, two of them coming up in the next 14 days, so, I will need as many podcasts as I can load onto my phone/ipod.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

ugly truth

I was sitting with the mom of one of the boys in mijo's grief group last week.

I had just come out of the therapy session where I had *promised* to do one thing to take care of myself this week.  [No, I haven't done that yet, by the way.]

dad's orchids
She looked over at me and said she had the same problem.

I suggested that I don't have time to think about myself because I am taking care of everyone else.

She followed with her issue was that she did not feel worthy.


She said it so matter-of-factly that it didn't even feel like a challenge to speak the truth. 

I suspect that years of therapy have made revelations such as that one easier to hold and share. 

They [who are they?] say [and why are they always saying things?] that recognizing/acknowledging our issues is the first step.

I say, "First step to what? HELL?"

I already know this... do I forget?  Do I have to be reminded so painfully?

And what am I supposed to do with this knowledge?
seaweed and surf, favorite beach

I just finished journaling about some other ugly things that I have been feeling.  I am not sure that it makes me feel *better* but it does make me feel the tiniest bit lighter.

Every week, I bring the mijo to his group, and I see his shoulders drop in relief.  I am not sure what makes him feel so safe there -- that he is not different, alone in his condition or grief?  And at the end of the hour and a half, he is elated... he always comes out of group bouncing with happiness. 

I do not feel this way after group ... or journaling or truth telling or even crying.  But I do feel the tiniest bit lighter.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Blame it on Mercury

This post was going to start: EVERY DAY IS HARD.

But then I started to feel like that was probably (still considering) exaggerating.

So, some days are harder than others.

All I know is that I have been wanting to cry for days ... I struggle to describe what that actually looks and feels like.

I have said before that it feels like a dark smoke filling up my eyes, circling through my mind.  It feels like walking around under a dark cloud, blocking out the sun and threatening to rain.

It feels like a tug on your heartstrings ... the kind that leads you to cry while watching a coffee commercial (not the current, but think back to those days with the super melodramatic coffee commercials, you know what I mean) or the trailer for the latest super romantic movie (you know the one where the couple is going to have to go through serious heartache and maybe many years before they get together and then the movie will end?).

It looks like being super sensitive to everything that is being said to you -- those days when you think you can feel the unsaid critiques cut you to your soul.

Like that, but more dramatic because mercury is in retrograde.

Why do I always plan out to be super productive for an extended period only to find out it is smack dab in the middle of the retrograde? WHY?

One would think that I would check first, but I don't.

So, blame it on mercury if I feel like shit ... and it isn't even the stronger period just now...

In fact, I was completely oblivious to the dates until I was on the third day of feeling like crap.  By this day, I was unable to even keep the tears inside -- and I am super good at it.

I had already done some questionable at best things that caused me even more angst before I bothered to look it up.

Yup, been in retrograde since the 4th ... and won't go direct til the 25th ...

I am thinking the only thing to do is EXERCISE ... yeah that should have been my first clue.

On October 1st, I went to the gym to try to become a member -- and they couldn't figure out how to help me with that ... it was the pre-retrograde and I fell right into it.

I am still going to try to EXERCISE, but I am also going to eat emergency treats.

Friday, October 10, 2014

NRU mishmashy - another short bit

I am slammed this week with work and work for money and work for mom and dad... and the turtle can't even get me to buy her some fish!

So... more stories I have been hording for a while.

I hate it when I find about someone only after he/she isgone.  This guy really got it … in an era when so very many did not. May he rest in peace... and thanks for leaving us some sage works.

Nuns on the bus updated!   I will readily admit that I have a thing for these nuns.

Just when you thought that all southern California drivers were texting and driving, turns out some of them were looking at the road… and saving little dogs in an impromptu community maneuver I really don't think you would find anywhere else.

This was a little bit odd, but I enjoyed it ... Joanne Carson and Truman Capote and writing ... and dogs.  I feel a little like dogs are trying to take over my life... but I liked this piece anyway.

Thursday, October 09, 2014

quote Thursday - swiped from bloggie world

Those who love you 
 are not fooled 
by mistakes you have made, 
or by dark images you hold about yourself. 
They remember 
your beauty when you feel ugly; 
your wholeness when you are broken; 
your innocence when you feel guilty; 
and your purpose when you are confused.
—  Alan Cohen

Wednesday, October 08, 2014

NRU education, small bits

This is going into the hopper for the dissertation, but I think it is worth sharing it here.  Teacher wars are not new to this world … rather perhaps teachers have always been the easy targets.

Somebody in Oakland got the memo on how some business models are just not good public relations moves.  Just because all the other state colleges and universities are using international and out of state students as cash cows doesn't mean that it is right.  I mean, public being the operative adjective here.  I can't wait to hear how this turns out … stay tuned.

I wish that there were more information on how the teachers fit into this "fight" slash "debate."  The thing is without the teachers, this debate is so incomplete… and who is talking to the parents in this situation?  There seems to be an assumption, again, that the vocal minority can just muscle in and shut things down.  Will the crazy people back down when they figure out that they can bully the school board but not theCollege Board?  Right, probably not!

The saddest part of this piece on Deasy and LAUSD is that it demonstrates that sometimes he has really great initiatives ... but he has chosen to not work with the teachers too many times ... he really could have been a great superintendent ... instead he made buddies and enemies with the wrong folks.  If you are going to work in LA and try to make change, you have to have some allies on the school board and make serious friends with the teachers/union.  Being friends with the Broad people and the Students First people will only place you firmly in the back biting, manipulative and ultimately not productive side of this war.  Make no mistake, this is war, it is not education.

Tuesday, October 07, 2014

Hot inland, foggy coastline

approaching Pismo...

What a difference a few weeks make...

 This is what I saw as I drove into Pismo Beach
Beyond the fog is the ocean...

... like a crazy foggy force field, just at the edge of town, the fog lifted.

Monday, October 06, 2014


Even though these photos are a few weeks old at this point ... I will be driving by these sights on my way home from a quick visit north.

The day I took these was the clearest day I had ever experienced in Pismo Beach.
Dunes in the distance

I was so astounded by what it looked like without cloud cover that I stopped to take these pictures.
Click to enlarge!

I took the opportunity to practice with the panoramic tool on the phone.

I tried to teach my mom to do it, too, but as a novice, I am not sure if I was super successful at that job, but I got a few good shots.

I am trying to take the time to enjoy the beauty of California even in the midst of all the busy-ness of life.

Friday, October 03, 2014


I made a super quick trip to LA to go over some paperwork with my sis-in-law, so I suggested we go to Central Market so I could try Wexler's pastrami .... well, when I got to the place, I remembered I also wanted to try their lox and smoked sturgeon.

The most endearing older gentleman, like me, had been reading about Wexler's and decided to try it out.  He was there specifically for the corned beef sandwich ... and a phosphate -- chocolate soda-ish for those, like me, who have no idea what it is.

I was  undecided but also determined to have both of the things I wanted.  The gentleman suggested that fish might not keep for the train ride home, hot as it was pledged to be.  I treated myself to the bagel/lox for brunch and decided to take the pastrami and extra pickle home for dinner.

Still, I had to decide lox or smoked sturgeon.  The lovely woman helping me suggested I could have half and half -- so I did ... um, so delicious.

I was all terrific even though I did have to share my pastrami with mom and dad in lieu of making a real dinner.

And I watched them make my food ... and the gentleman introduced me to the owner.  And there was plenty of eye candy working there, too ... all in all, super tasty.

Can't wait to go back and try something else!

Thursday, October 02, 2014

Poetry Thursday - Rumi and me...

Self Portrait, Park in Santa Fe

Essence is emptiness.
Everything else, accidental.
Emptiness brings peace to your loving.
Everything else, disease.
In this world of trickery emptiness
is what your soul wants.

Wednesday, October 01, 2014

mini NRU mishmash

What with small children and broken planes and impromptu friendly catch-ups, I have not had time to plan out a week of blog posts ... though I have managed to get stuff posted. Hurrah!

I have not had that much time to actually read the various papers I usually peruse.  Here are a few articles that caught my attention in the past few days ...

I will start with the only real serious news story that I feel the need to share today - I am sorry to see AG Holder resign but I am grateful to him for enuring such a ridiculous amount of grief while still maintaining a pretty excellent track record with those of us who care about silly things like civil rights.  I hope his next job is not as a lobbyist.  Supreme Court anyone?

I am posting the original as opposed to the short repackaging both because I abhor the practice of repackaging (but I respect the link to the actual source if not to the actual article) and because it is worthwhile to read all that Lennox had to say on the subject.  Let me just say that this seems like the right response from someone in the same business as Beyonce -- it is not trashing lady b in anyway shape or form to see her FEMINIST stance as a ploy for more play... and I agree, by the way.

The other pieces I lingered over were about animals... wacky, ridiculous and slightly unbelievable.

Turns out that crazy conservatives who simultaneously deride the government intrusion in our personal lives (read: I don't want to pay taxes) and advocate for government to regulate personal relationships (read: I am against anything I deem untoward -- all sex, gay sex, young sex, etc.) do not only live in the U.S.  It is a little heartening to know we are not alone -- but still sad.  Thankfully calmer and more rational heads prevailed and allowed these two donkeys to go back to living together.  Seriously?!

I am concerned that the genetic anomaly causing this conjoined twin turtle to be born and survive -- but aren't they cute?  They are the same size that Turtlemina was when I fished her out of the river ... and I am tickled that this lady makes a habit out of watching for the turtle hatchlings.  Crossing the road is treacherous for all kinds of being!  Yes... horrified and endeared in one fell swoop ... you be the judge.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Plans Change

Plans change and planes break down.

As I rounded the corner on the freeway to the Oakland airport, I got a text from Southwest that my plane was going to be delayed by nearly an hour.

This was a sign ... it should have said, don't bother, just go back to J's house.

I had carefully planned the trip home so that I could catch the last metrolink from Burbank to home.

My one fallback was that there is one more Amtrak that passes that way before 8pm.

So, a delay of more than an hour meant no way to get home from the airport without potentially disturbing the apple cart of my life.

I was also making this trip home quickly so I could be home in time to take my nephew to grief group and to my own therapy.

When Southwest shows more than a fifteen minute delay, non full fare folks can change their flight with no penalty. 

Apparently it is a little known rule -- chalk it up to the "kind" of folks who travel Southwest versus those that go with the airlines that will give you a seat assignment -- they have no 15 minute rule, you just suck it up.

So, whenever there is a delay it is usually posted at 15 minutes -- and then updated every fifteen minutes to another ... just to look like they are not corporate scum while they might be after all.  Whatever the game is ... what I decided a while ago was that if they actually told you that the delay was long ... nearly an hour, say, then the best best was that the flight would actually be cancelled.

I will play it out for you, lest you disbelieve as many are wont to do (the ladies working the gate looked at my aghast when I told them my reasoning ... but who was right?!)

If you know the 15 minute rule and you see a 45 minute delay, you should immediately rebook as is your right -- and so seldom actually given to you!  So if everyone or almost everyone rebooks then the manifest is nearly empty and the flight is cancelled -- due to low load not mechanical difficulty, or whatever -- cancelled does not go on the books in the same way delayed does for those who check those statistics!

So, whether or not the mechanical difficulty, in this case, was really going to knock the flight out of commission or not, the flight would be cancelled if everyone followed the unspoken guidelines.

No one did ... and we watched the plane mechanics scratch their heads, invite others over to look at it, etc... for an hour and a half ... by then I had already decided to just delay for a day.

It turns out the world will keep spinning without me at home ... huzzah... at least they all claimed it would.

And I got a lovely dinner and more time with my friends last night and this morning ...

Plans change, planes breakdown, and wonderful things happen.

Monday, September 29, 2014


I was originally going to title this SAFETY but I am not sure that it is the best descriptor for how I am feeling.

I spent the weekend with a lovely three-year-old who is full of life, wonder, and hope.  She processes her raw emotions for the most part before they spill out, though, at times, they slip out in their messiness.

I was amazed by her ability to soothe, express and protect herself.  She made up songs to help her understand what was going on around her.  She talked through her thoughts, but they were already packaged into her way of making sense of the world. 

Still, one of her coping mechanisms was to share her thoughts.

I noted her desire to be self-sufficient.  It was a little like looking in the mirror.  I felt a twinge of hypocrisy as I explained to her that sometimes it was okay to ask for help rather than struggle. 

We examined how it might heighten the anxiety to try to resolve a challenge by ourselves when we could just ask for help.  By the end of the weekend, she was not so reticent about telling me what I could do to help – or when she needed me to keep her company.

As she watched me pack, her little eyes darted back and forth from her things to my things.  She acknowledged that now she had become so comfortable with my presence, she was going to miss me.

My visceral response to her was such that whenever I put her for a nap or to sleep, I dissolved into tears. 

My first inclination was to understand the reaction as safety.  Far enough from home, I could do more than just look at my emotions, I could feel them.  The frustration, the helplessness, the fear and the sadness spilled out over and over again.

I was happy to be alone, tied to the house as she slept peacefully.

I can't say that I processed any of those just emotions.

I was happy, so to speak, to just release.  Instead of thorns pricking me whenever I came near, the feelings became a salty river washing out and away from me.

Now as I come to the close of that time with Princess A., I realize that it was not just "safety" that allowed the feelings to emerge.

I have been feeling so stretched that any movement would tear me from my moorings.  I wondered if I was even still grounded to anything at all.

My body, even post massage, testifies to the taut, stiff, tense sensations.

I need to stretch and I can't at home.

The therapist has been pushing me to think about what I need and how I can get it.

My friends, too, have been suggesting I move or remove myself from the tension.  I become paralyzed, deer in the headlights, in the midst of the chaos of home when it comes to my own needs/safety.  I move into fix-it-mode for everyone else.  They sense my can do it spirit and ask for more.  I don't suggest I need replenishment and neither do they.

This is not a long term solution … neither are vacations.  Real life needs to be more balanced.

I hope that realization will help move me to resolution.  We'll see…

Friday, September 26, 2014

My weekend companion

As luck would have it, some friends went to a wedding this weekend ... but they left their lovely daughter with me.

We are having fun ... we went out to dinner. And she created some artistic masterpieces.

We picked flowers.

Actually, we picked only one flower because, as she explained, we don't want to disturb the bumble bees.  After all, they are busy making honey for us.  Those bees need those flowers.

They do not like to be disturbed.

I wholeheartedly agree with those sentiments.

Then we might need to wear said flower in our hair -- or maybe just her hair.

Later, that flower, and the artistic masterpieces, turned into gifts for Julie.  At Julie's house, we made cookies and she frosted cupcakes. 

Wow, so much sugar, and still she was the perfect helper, cleaning up with any paper towel she could find.

Last time I was here, she was shy. 

But she told me boldly that she is not shy right now.  Of course, she is reserving the right to be shy again, someday. 

She is a smart cookie.

At the restaurant, and at Julie's house, there was also ballet dancing. 

And balance beam walking. 

And tapping.

And, yes, this is the unit I am rocking on this trip north.  I am not shy -- neither are her parents, obviously.  We like to be noticed.  I even wore a matching shirt yesterday as I arrived ... one must always try to match a showy car at least once in a while lest it get too complacent in its awesomeness.

What a treat for me ... sometimes dark chocolate pretzels are just what I need to balance out all the crazy things going on in my life right now.  Sometimes, pink-colored bubble gum is a welcome departure from the stinging salty with the bittersweet.

Thanks to my friends for sharing their little bundle of joy with me... oh the stories we'll tell...

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Quote Thursday, Rumi

Run from what's comfortable.
Forget safety.
Live where you fear to live.
Destroy your reputation.
Be notorious.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Catch Up, Part 3

It was a whirlwind trip to New Mexico -- with no less than three different friends opening their homes to me ...

Mostly I parked myself at the resource center, trying to get some work done and schedule meetings.

It was most definitely cart/horse chaos -- but it mostly worked out the way I had hoped.

Along the way, I remembered to take a few photos, but not often enough to actually document the trip.

I had a lovely and uneventful overnight train ride to Albuquerque.  Maria, my lovely seatmate, was gregarious and entertaining ... and she also left me alone to get some work done.  Every thing you could want in a travel companion.  In fact, I got her name and number because she said she was looking for someone to travel with her.  I immediately thought of my mother and her desire to go places and my father's refusal to do so.  Maria is perfect in many ways as a travel companion for my mom, not the least of which is that she works at JCPenney ... aka my mom's store.

I didn't snap any pictures, but the remnants of the full harvest moon gave us a beautiful show as we exited California.

The next morning, I woke (if I was actually sleeping is up in the air) to the most gorgeous sunrise.  Orange seemed to explode from the horizon giving the Arizona landscape the most exquisite back lighting.  I thought about taking out my phone to snap a picture, but decided to just enjoy it in my half-waking, half-sleeping state.

Usually, I like to try to wake up to see La Posada for the Winslow, AZ stop.  But I didn't have the window.

The familiar territory between Gallup and Albuquerque carried a magical twist: WATER!  As we passed through the Grants area, it was as if we were suddenly traveling through marshland complete with ducks and egrets or herons.  I was too taken with this twist to the landscape, I didn't bother to try to capture it with anything other than my mind. 

We had a sweet and friendly group of people in our car mostly headed to Albuquerque. There was one man who was headed all the way to Chicago (he helped Maria carry her luggage off the train) who got off with us to see Albuquerque for a bit.  The train was twenty minutes early and usually stops for some sprucing up for another twenty.

One of the cutest sights at the train station, though, was this gorgeous toddler who had been quiet as a mouse in the train.  Now she wanted to give everyone hugs.  She made the rounds, even stopping to embrace a post that looked lonely.  It was a loving re-entry to Albuquerque.

I met Enrique and his aunt waiting for the train to Santa Fe on Friday evening.  He let me know from the beginning that he was not going to talk to strangers, whether his aunt encouraged him or not.

In his four short years, he has already developed an aversion for the snapping of photos.  Though whenever I offered to show him pictures, he was happy to see them.

Saturday afternoon, my friends invited me to their daughter's school picnic.
It was at a lovely park in the middle of a housing development on the southern end of Santa Fe.  It had park area with grass and room to put out food under a little structure.  But the other side, gravel, sidewalk and art was the real prize. Between the two parks was a little stand of apple trees and sunflowers. 

I was taken by these showy sunflowers.  I almost caught a busy bee visiting this very flower, but I was not quick enough with the shot.  The bee had way too many beautiful flowers to visit.   Thanks to all the monsoons New Mexico is celebrating the summer with green and blooms as if it were still spring.

There was a wide range of sculpted art in the small area.
I loved all the art, but I thought that the flowers stole the show.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Catch Up, Part 2

One day sometime in the past two weeks, I saw these clouds in the sky. I travel what used to be the farm roads in order to avoid the freeway between towns.  They are not lonely, farm roads anymore, but we still refer to them as the back way. 

I guess that there are transplants that don't know how to get from one town to another without using the freeway.  But these roads are usually full of cars, but for some reason seem easier to travel.

I might just be that they provide these scenes and the right amount of stops to take photos like these.
Another day, this backpack caught my eye.  I was mostly interested in the fact that the person wearing it looked to be at least 18-years-old. 

I snapped the picture to send it to my niece, via my sister-in-law, who is crazy about Frozen. 

I was tickled, though, that love of Frozen is not unique to the three-year-old set.  Though I did consider whether or not to have a conversation with this woman about which of the sisters was a better role model for young women/girls.  I have to admit sometimes I think Christoff is the most level headed of the bunch.

Finally, my nephew and I went to explore Cemetery Park.  He has been asking me questions about the park for months.  So, I thought the best thing to do was just to go there and see if there were any signs.

We read head stones, didn't figure out the back story of the park, but enjoyed our time there.

For a while, my nephew tried out all of the trees to see which was most climbable.

My nephew was captivated by the dogs that seemed to come out of the woodwork as the sun started to go down.  Turns out cemetery park is really dog park in the late afternoon/early evening.

This four month old german shepard puppy was his favorite.  Blaze obliged by being adorable when lil K. decided to take his picture.

The Lady & The Tramp looking dog decided I looked like safe harbor, so he/she (?!) plopped next to me on the park bench when I took a rest.  Growling at anyone that came near, everyone thought it was my dog and peppered me with questions.  Nope ...not mine, just another animal that felt safe in my ambit.

Friday, September 19, 2014

2 years

I am pretending this is any other day, sometimes successfully.  But my heart hurts.

I was with my sister-in-law the other day and she said to me, "He was special."

No doubt.

My brother was one of a kind. 

There is not a minute of the day when I don't miss him.

Most days, I hide my own grief inside the pain I feel for my niece and nephew and my sister-in-law for not getting to be by his side as long as I did.

But, today, I hurt just for me. 

My brother was the one that made everything okay for me when it felt the world was ending.

He had that special ability to make everyone feel like he/she was the most special person in the world.  He shined the light on all that was good - and knew how to put you in your place when necessary, too.

He was the best big brother -- always had your back and, at the same time, urged you forward into new and exciting adventures.  I always knew he was on my side even when I was half way around the world from him.

As I have had to step into the role of oldest, I have come to appreciate the strains and pressures he was hiding under the trademark smile and twinkle in the eye.

You would never have thought that life was anything but easy for him -- and almost never was.

I hope you are getting the rest you needed, Greg, but we miss you so very much.