Saturday, December 29, 2012

Another Trip to Kona

As the end of another even-numbered year nears, it was my turn to head to Hawaii for Christmas again.  Hawaii is not my favorite travel destination.  I've been so often that it's not really new and exciting - with only about 200 miles to travel around the entire island I've seen and done most of it in the many years I've been going, plus the weather makes is seem very un-Christmas-like.  With that being said, this year's visit has been very nice.  Fortunately for me, (unfortunately for the island) it's been a fairly dry winter so the 80 degree weather is comfortable with the much lower than normal humidity.  It's been nice getting out of the shower without feeling like I need another shower.

I could pretty much post the same post every other year because each time I visit I take the exact same pictures of the exact same landscapes - which are admittedly so very beautiful.  I did however try to take some shots from a different point of view this time...

Here's my mom's house.

Some sights on my morning walk.

A visit to Hawi, Kapaau, and Makapala

And some sunsets from the lanai

My trip is coming to an end. With just one more full day, I return to So. Cal. on Friday.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Saturday Nine - Happy Holidays

1. Some children are reluctant to climb into Jolly Old St. Nick's lap. Did you enjoy the tradition or were you shy? I don't remember my actual feelings but from the pictures I've seen I was ok with it as a baby, but as a toddler I'd scream bloody murder on Santa's lap. Which would probably be my current take on waiting in line to sit on any stranger's lap actually.

2. Are you currently on the Naughty or Nice list? How did you get there? Oh, a little bit of both I think.

3. Did you ship any gifts to friends and family this year? If so, which one traveled the farthest? I shipped all my mom's gifts to Hawaii. Luckily all my other gifts stayed local.

4. Did you buy yourself a gift this year? No, I mean I've bought stuff, but nothing more than usual.

5. What's your favorite holiday-themed movie? For the longest time it's been "The Christmas Story" which still makes me laugh out loud. I have enjoyed "Love Actually" showing up on TV during the holidays over the last couple of years. Two different kinds of movies, so equally my favorite. Oh and "A Charlie Brown Christmas" is my favorite animated Christmas movie.

6. Thinking of movies, Christmas is lucrative for Hollywood. Have you ever gone to a movie theater on Christmas Day? On the first Christmas after my dad died over 7 years ago my mom and I decided rather than spend the early afternoon, before heading out to Christmas dinner with family, just staring at each other being sad to go to the movies. We were actually surprised to find that it was packed! We've since made it something of a tradition. We do our Christmas morning together, go to the movies early afternoon, and then to dinner with friends or family.

7. Have you ever suffered an embarrassing moment at the company Christmas party? No, our work parties are always fun, but embarrassing free for me. However I once was embarrassed for a friend of mine. About 5 years ago we decided to have an ugly Christmas sweater staff party. My friend Cori showed up wearing a gaudy sweater she had jokingly purchased from Target. Shortly after her arrival an aid, who was quite a bit older than our fairly young staff, came to the party wearing the same sweater. When Cori joked about buying it for the ugly sweater contest, the woman politely answered that she hadn't realized it was supposed to be an ugly sweater contest. She had just worn it since it was her regular Christmas sweater. Probably not the typical embarrassing staff party story you were looking for but, we all felt SO bad afterwards.

8. What's your favorite beverage in cold weather? Caramel Latte from Coffee Bean - these days a decaf though.

9. What will you remember most about 2012? I'm not very good with thinking about the whole year and remembering what was good and what was bad. I love the posts where people do those at the end of each year, but I find that so difficult for some reason. Unfortunately though, with the school shooting last week, I've got that running through the back of my mind each and every day I go to what I've always considered a pretty safe job. That rattled me a bit. I'll also remember how frustrated this year was with all the Dems vs Rep nonsense that we've been hearing about ALL YEAR leading up to the election and now, even after the election is over, we are still hearing about it because the two can't get it together enough to solve the financial issues we face at the end of the year.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

How Is It Possible

That today is ONLY Tuesday?!?!
388134_2568547306903_1309631882_n 250020216783341942_4YyoDx9F_c That’s all…

Friday, December 14, 2012

Is It Time Yet?

Today, we had our seventh major shooting rampage (and second school shooting) of 2012.  I wonder when we will finally realize we need to have a serious discussion about gun control in this country. 

Not to make light of the other six, but this one hit very close to home.  Enough is enough.  They were 20 little kids.  And they were inside their classroom.  I am sickened and appalled.

Please let it be time.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Out of the Mouths of Babes – A Song From Jordan

At school over the last few weeks my students have been learning about families and traditions for part of a social studies unit.  The winter holidays are loaded with family traditions so it’s an enjoyable unit for the kids.  As a culminating activity, the entire 2nd grade performs a December Celebrations’ program for the parents.  They speak about and sing songs from/about various countries and the traditions that have been influential on our US traditions.  Needless to say, we’ve been singing A LOT. 

At dismissal earlier this week, one of my students told me her mom had taught her a song from Jordan, and she asked if she could teach it to the class.  I was out the following day doing a training, so upon my return this morning, she asked again.  Wanting to be inclusive of all of the students’ cultures, it was important to give her a few minutes to share, especially since her family’s native country is not part the program.  I found some time at the end of the day and told her she was on.  We asked her to sing it for us first so we could hear it.  In her quiet Minnie Mouse-like voice she began singing.  As we listened, a few of the other kids looked inquisitively at her.  There was something familiar about it.  After a few more bars, one of my caller-outers called out, “We’ve heard that song in here!” 

Yes, we had.  About 100 years ago when I first started teaching I made a Christmas CD to play in the classroom while the kids worked on their traditions projects.  Each year they make me laugh by belting out songs like Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer, Feliz Navidad, and Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree as they write and color. 

The song she wanted to teach us was actually Wham’s “Last Christmas”, also on the CD.  We’ve listened to it several times since returning from Thanksgiving Break.

Within a few seconds, the entire class was singing along to the chorus of “Last Christmas”.  I turned on the music for them so they could continue singing while they worked; singing to a song that may or may not “come from Jordan”.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas, Everywhere Except for My House

Usually, I decorate my house for Christmas the day after Thanksgiving.  By no means do I go overboard, but I do like to put up a tree and a few decorations around the house.  This year, I didn’t have the time or energy to deal with it after Thanksgiving so now here we are,  2 weeks from Christmas, and I’m still not really in the Christmas spirit. 

Since I’m spending Christmas away from home this year, I’ve been kind of bah humbugging it about decorating.  I usually have my fill of it by December 25 and end up de-Christmas-ing that night.  The thought of putting up decorations that I won’t even be around to enjoy or coming home to a decorated house after the fact is very unappealing.  Even though I swoon when visiting or driving past beautifully decorated homes, the motivation to decorate is missing. 

While out walking the dog this weekend, a few of my neighbors were out putting lights up on their house.  More were put up the previous weekends.  Let’s be honest, most of the light hanger-uppers are men.  So it struck me funny that at one of the homes, the husband and wife were both outside, but it was the wife climbing up and down the ladder stringing the lights along the roof line.  The husband held the ladder.  I wanted to shout, “You go girl!”  But instead I thought about how impressed I was.  I wouldn’t even know where to begin with that task beyond buying the lights at the store.  And even then, it’s iffy.

I’ve pretty much resigned myself to the fact that Christmas is not coming to my house this year.  Can’t you tell.  So other than wrapping gifts, packing a suitcase, and getting on an airplane, I’m all ready for Christmas.  How about you?

Sunday, December 9, 2012

An Eventful Day

Ya know, I go through most of my days without too much excitement. Each day is played pretty level – nothing too spectacular but nothing too devastating either. Every once in awhile though, I come across a day that makes me shake my head and chuckle with wonder.  Yesterday was one of those days. 

The Renegade Craft Fair was in Los Angeles this weekend.  Elana and I took the train into the city and headed towards China Town.  The park where the fair was held was nearby, but I wasn’t quite sure where.  The plan was to GPS the park when we got close.  That plan led us into a two hour walk around China Town and its vicinities looking for that damn park.  The GPS kept bringing us back to the same spot, a spot with NO park.  Finally after much searching we found it about 3 blocks from where the GPS put it.  Things were not off to a good start, but once we finally arrived, the fair was fun.  I love being around people who are creative and inspiring.  Most of the artists’ work was just lovely. 

After our visit, we took the train back to the station and were glad to be back in the car knowing where we were going after all the walking and searching of the afternoon.  We jumped on the 170 to head home, but after a few moments there were police lights behind me.  “Oh, no,” I said, “I’m getting pulled over.”  “You are?” Elana said looking back, “No you aren’t.”  Actually, we were getting pulled over.  I made my way across the 5 lanes of freeway to the shoulder and stopped the car – nervous and irritated all at the same time.  We did everything right - rolled down all the windows, made our hands visible, and waited patiently while the officer made his way to the window.  “Is there a reason you were going 83?”  The officer asked.  In my most apologetic tone I told him that we had just been talking, and I didn’t realize how fast we were going, and that I was VERY sorry.  He asked for my license and registration.  While I got them out, Elana played the police officer’s card. She told him I was taking her home to see her husband who was ALSO A POLICE OFFICER.  Things seemed to look positive as he looked over my paperwork.  Kept inside the registration holder are also my proof of insurance cards.  I asked him if needed those too.  He nodded and I handed them to him.  “Do you have anything up-to-date?” he asked, “These are from 2009.”  CRAP!  We begged and pleaded and lamented that I DID have insurance and I didn’t know where the cards could be but I could call my agent and she could tell him.  He told us he’d be back.  The two of us waited, watching out the window, wondering aloud if he’d give a ticket.  He was writing, which wasn’t a good sign. 

A few moments later, he came back. He said that he was giving me a correctable ticket.  As he began to explain it, our attention was directed to the freeway due to a screeching sound.  The three of us turned our heads to the left and watched a car slam into a stopped car (stopped in regular freeway traffic), flip up onto the stopped car, which then caused a large pile up.  All of us gasped, and I think the officer may have let an expletive slip.  “OK, please just quickly sign this,” he said handing me the clipboard.  I signed, still unsure of the offense(s) at that point.  He gave me my copy and ran to his car.  While the scare of the accident and the ticket kind of wore off, I realized he hadn’t given me back my license or registration.  The slowly moving traffic had basically stopped and I couldn’t get out or even open my door because of the narrow shoulder.  Elana went to open her door and jump out, but the guardrail was too close and she couldn’t even get her door open.  We waved, called out, and tried to grab his attention as he pulled out into the traffic and made his way to the accident up ahead. 

We were basically blocked in by all the stopped cars.  While we waited, we watched the police car stop all oncoming traffic to keep the accident scene clear.  At first we reviewed the ticket.  It was in fact just a fix it ticket with a verbal speed warning.  So other than the inconvenience of having to bring proof of the insurance to the closest CHP office, I should be good to go.  We also discussed if we should wait and ask for them back or if I should just call about it Monday morning and figure it out.  I figured the last thing I should do was wait and ask for it back in the middle of an accident.  Elana called her husband and asked him.  He said, it would be more difficult getting it back later than it would be to ask for it there.  So once the cars involved in the accident were moved to the side of the road and some traffic started moving again, I maneuvered my way through the traffic and pulled up alongside of where the officer was clearing debris.  When he saw us, he looked up and said, “I probably saved you from being in this thing,” pointing to the accident.  “Maybe,” I nodded and then told him he still had my stuff.  After a few moments he returned with my paperwork and sent us on our way. 

A few times on the ride home one of us would laugh and ask, “Can you believe?” or “What a crazy day.”  Both laughing that at least it was a good story.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Saturday 9 – Blue Christmas

I don’t know what happened this week.  It was supposed to be light and easy and before I knew it, it snowballed into a crazy end of week.  I’ve started writing a couple of posts, but haven’t had a chance to finish them.  A Saturday 9 will have to do for now.

1) Do you ever suffer the blues during the holidays? No, although this year I’m having a bit of trouble getting into the holiday spirit.

2) More than 18 million visitors have toured Elvis' home, Graceland. Have you ever been there? Nope

3) Elvis dyed his naturally light brown locks black. Do you dye your hair? I do not, although  I have threatened to go dark a time or two.  The regular maintenance of it has turned me off from going through with it though.

4) He also insisted his young girlfriend, Priscilla, dye her hair jet black. If your lover asked you to change your hair, would you?   Hmmm, I don’t know, but probably not.

5) Elvis served his country at an Army base in Friedberg, Germany. Have you ever been to Germany?   Yes, a couple of times.

6) Elvis famously had an affair with Ann-Margret during the filming of Viva Las Vegas. Have you ever indulged in a dalliance with a coworker?  Not since becoming a teacher.  Dalliances are few and far between in a work place primarily made up of women and gay men.   But it’s a bad idea.

7) Thinking of his movies ... Elvis was, by and large, unhappy with his film career and once said, "The only thing worse than watching a bad movie is being in one." Are you happy with the way your career is going/has gone? Oh, sure.  For the most part I am.  There are times when I wish I had pursued another career path.  I love teaching, but all the other stuff – politics, testing, management, lack of parent support, the BS – make it less enjoyable than it could be.  Or like today when the principal had to physically remove a student from my room who had a meltdown and was screaming bloody murder.  I don’t love those kind of days.  After those kinds of days, the vacation time is what keeps me going.  

8) Elvis lost "the battle of the bulge" toward end of his life. Are you happy with your weight?  Sometimes I am and sometimes I’m not. 

9) As a teenager, Elvis worked as an usher at a movie theater. What was your first job? I started working at Red Lobster when I was 15 as a hostess and then a server.  My favorite job before my “career” was a bartender.  Sometimes I think if I could pay the mortgage with it, I’d go back to bartending.  That was a fun job.

Happy Saturday!

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Another Go at Kicking Caffeine

Caffeine is the devil’s drug, THE DEVIL’S Drug!  I’m on day #2 of my ban on caffeine, and if this day doesn’t hurry up and get over with, I may die. 

Whenever my life settles down, I feel the need to get a handle on the things that have been allowed to get a little bit out of control in the day to day chaos.  In this case, my caffeine intake.  Back in May of this year, I buckled down and substantially reduced my caffeine.  Up until about August, I did well.  When the new school year started, I kept it together until things got crazy.  I found myself stopping at Starbucks in the middle of the day just to make it through the rest of the day.  More recently, after starting the day with something caffeinated to make the pain of early mornings go away I didn’t stop.  In doing so, water was being replaced with coffee or soda.  I’d return home at the end of the day and realize I hadn’t had any water since I had left the house 12  hours earlier. 

With a fairly low key week coming up, I decided (again) to pull it together and stop this madness.  I’ve had so much water this weekend, I’m floating.  My head feels like it’s going to explode, and I’m a little bit cranky.  I’m hoping day 3 will be less difficult.  Tomorrow there will be kids, so it had better be less difficult or there will be trouble.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

And There Goes November!

Something about November made it seem like such a long month this year.  I don’t usually say this as the months pass by, but I’m kind of glad that it’s over and December is here.

Here’s my November calendar for The Kathryn Wheel’s Calendar Challenge.  I missed my daily doodles, so went back to that layout.stuff 258

And some journal pages in my new journal.stuff 259 stuff 260stuff 261stuff 262  And my moleskine sketchbook…stuff 263 stuff 264
Happy December! I hope the holidays are mellow and stress free.    

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Cold Turkey – a Saturday 9

1) Are you still feasting on cold turkey, or any other leftovers, from your Thanksgiving meal? No, and a left over turkey sandwich on Friday is the best part of Thanksgiving.  I thought about doing my yearly “Come Get Some Leftovers” turkey dinner this year, but in the end I just couldn’t get it together in time.

2) AAA says Thanksgiving is a big travel weekend. Did you venture far from home for your holiday dinner? Just across town.

3) Is this weekend the official start of the Christmas season for you?  No, I’m not yet into the Christmas spirit.  It comes at different times each year.  It’s hard to think about Christmas when still using the air conditioning.  However last night my friend Elana and I spent the evening making staff Christmas gifts for each of our schools.  That was fun.

4) Which couple would you rather hang out with -- Fred and Wilma Flintstone or George and Jane Jetson?  Oh the Jetsons for sure.  They had all those futuristic gadgets.  I think Fred was kind of an ass.

5) Have you/would you ever get your teeth whitened?  Several years ago, while on a cruise my mom and I were talked into having it done in the spa.  It cost an arm and a leg and follow up treatments were required at home.  I did them for a bit, but now, other than the dentist cleanings, I’m good.

6) Do you still have your high school class ring?  I’m sure it’s somewhere in my jewelry box, but it hasn’t seen the light of day since high school.

7) Here's $50. You must spend it all in one place. What are you going to do with it?  Nothing too exciting – probably buy gas or pay a bill.

8) Could your vehicle use a trip to the car wash right about now?  About two weeks after my car’s last wash we had one of those stupid rains when it just spits and makes mud with the layer of dust on the car.  It never rained enough to wash it all off, just enough to make it spotty. 

9) Did you hit the snooze button this morning?  I did set the alarm this morning, but no snooze button.  I only do that for the middle-of-the- night work alarm. 

Thursday, November 22, 2012

My Black Friday Plan

366973069606050081_vJpVKngx_cUpon returning home from tonight’s Thanksgiving festivities, my email was inundated with information about Black Friday shopping. 

257620041155572924_GrTjKFPmUnfortunately, I was still enjoying Thanksgiving when Toys R Us, Wal-Mart, and many others began their Black Friday deals opening at 8:00 PM…is it just me or is it a little bit wrong that people are leaving their friends and families on a holiday to go shopping?  Best Buy opens at midnight.  People have been camped out at the one nearby for a week now.  A WEEK!  There are some good deals – I just saw a 40” LCD TV marked down from $419.99 to $179.  Of course there’s probably only one at that price. 

As a red-blooded woman, I like shopping…a lot!  But not enough to subject myself to Black Friday.  I just don’t get it.  I’d rather pay full price than put up with the lines, the mess, the crowds, and the crazed lunatics who are shopping in the middle of the night.  As soon as police, pepper spray, or taser guns are needed to control things, shopping kind of loses its appeal to me.  175288610466394513_u0rqwbab_c

My Christmas shopping is about halfway done, so I'll wait a couple of weeks when EVERYTHING goes on sale and finish up the rest.  If you plan to partake in Black Friday, good luck!  If not, enjoy your Friday off, sleeping in.  I know I will!


Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Boise - The Land of Potatoes (and Really Good Hair)

Other than coming down with a head cold (typical once any break starts) on the last day of my trip, the mini-break to Boise, Idaho was great fun.  My friends Tami and Jeff moved from California to Idaho a couple of years ago, and this was my first chance to get up there to see them.  First and foremost, my favorite part of the visit was of course visiting with my friends.  Beyond that, the cool weather and the soft water were a close second and third.  A few years ago several communities in Los Angeles banned salt-based water softeners for environmental reasons.  This past weekend is the first time in years that I’ve washed my hair in soft water.  Ahhhh, it was so manageable and soft and easy to do.  Boy do I miss that soft water!

Anyways, back to Boise.  Here are some highlights…

We went to the Boise State football game against Colorado State.  Broncos’ football is kind of a religion in Idaho.  It was windy and rainy – good football weather. stuff 005
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Boise State is known for the blue, rather than green, football field.  On TV it looks almost teal, but in reality it’s a very deep blue. stuff 010

stuff 016 stuff 029Compared to the watching USC play at the Coliseum with it’s 70,000+ seats, Bronco stadium seemed so small.  Our “cheap” seats were very close. 

The city of Boise is just a few minutes from Tami and Jeff’s so we went in quite a few times over the weekend.  It’s a very small and clean city.  I was surprised to learn that it also has the largest Basque community in the US.

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The Idaho State Capitol Buildingstuff 043 stuff 048

We went to three or four coffee places while I was visiting, and none of them were Starbucks!  Big City Coffee was probably my favorite of them all.  stuff 047

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Right near Boise State there are several different museums and educational centers. 
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    Boise Art Museum (BAM)
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stuff 057 The White Elephant’s exhibit by Billie Grace Lynn.

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Idaho’s Black History Museum and Abraham Lincoln statue.stuff 074
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The Idaho Anne Frank Human Rights Memorial educational park was very moving.

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Bridge over the Boise River stuff 091

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A pretty sky…
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There are several drive-in/diner/dive-type restaurants in Idaho that have been featured on Food Network’s Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives television show.  We stopped in at the West Side Drive In.
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A used bookstore in the Hyde Park area of Boise…
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I arrived back into LA right on time yesterday afternoon and then proceeded to take three hours to get home from the airport.  Rigby was happy to finally be picked up and taken home last night, as evident by these photos.

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What a nice trip.  Thanks to Tami and Jeff for their hospitality!


Happy Thanksgiving!