Sunday, October 28, 2012

Go See It!

The previews for Argo came out over the summer. A movie about a secret spy mission?  Sign me up!   After finally finding some time to go, we saw it last night.  Argo was outstanding.

Photo from Movie Fanatic

The movie is loosely based on the true story of a rescue mission that took place during the Iran hostage crisis from 1979-81.  Since I was just about 7 during that time, my only knowledge of it comes from the history books.  However, this rescue mission was actually kept quiet for many years. 

It’s the story of 6 Americans who escaped the hostage situation at the embassy and took up to hiding in the homes of Canadian and British ambassadors.  Tony Mendez, the CIA agent who was essentially in charge of coordinating the mission set out to bring the six American’s home under the guise of making a movie.  He enlisted some Hollywood players to make the story feasible and then headed to Iran as the movie’s producer.

Photo from The Telegraph 

Upon arriving he met the American’s, setting them up with new identities – Canadian movie makers. 

Photo from

Ben Affleck directed and starred in the film as Tony Mendez.  With the Matt Damon/Ben Affleck pair, I’ve always preferred Matt Damon’s roles, but I’ll tell you, Affleck was good.  The whole movie was good.  Heart pounding, gut wrenchingly intense, but so good.  When the movie first came out, I looked it up because I wondered if it was a true story.  I knew how the situation ended, and I was still a nervous wreck during the film…in a good way!

There were definitely liberties taken with the story, and Ben Affleck admits it, stating that Hollywood embellished and adjusted, as they usually do. However, even after reading about how the movie is different, my opinion of it remains the same.  It was very well done.

I’ll be surprised if the film and Affleck aren’t honored during the coming awards’ season.  If you get a chance, go see it. 

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Saturday 9

Saturday 9 time!
1) Do you ever fantasize about flying, beyond the rainbow or anywhere else? Yah, no, flying is never in my fantasies. Traveling abroad is one of my favorite things to do.  I wish I could just wiggle my nose or shake my ponytail to get there though.

2) Do you think you have seen The Wizard of Oz more than 10 times?  I actually have never been a fan.  As a kid the wicked witch and her monkeys traumatized me.  I may not have ever seen the whole movie all the way through, not able to get past the scary parts.

3) Which Wizard of Oz character would you most like to dress as for Halloween?  See above, but if I had to pick, probably Dorothy…those red sparkly shoes!

4) What will Trick or Treaters get when they come to your front door? Since the entire day will be spent on Halloween, I’ll most likely come home, turn off all the lights, and go to bed.

5) Did you ever TP a neighbor's house or indulge in other acts of Halloween vandalism as a kid? Nope

6) Who annoys you more -- people who never respond to your texts/emails, or those who never look up because they're always checking their texts/emails? I’m probably more guilty of the latter, so those who don’t respond in a timely manner are more irritating.  Although I have been known to say, “Stop looking at your phone…be with who you’re with!” 

7) Who was the last person you hugged? I say goodbye to my students each day with a hug or high five.  Most choose a hug, so thinking about who brought up the end of the dismissal line, Juan was the last person I hugged. :) 
The last non-student people I hugged were my book club friends at book club last night.  A few of them I hadn’t seen since last month’s get together.

8) What two colors do you like to wear together?   How is it that this question has taken me the longest to answer?  I don’t really have a signature color combo.  I wear a lot of black, so whatever goes with black I guess.

9) Did your alarm clock wake you up this fine Saturday morning? Nope, and still in bed.  As a matter of fact, when I smacked the alarm off yesterday morning my very first thought was, “Thank goodness I don’t have to set it tomorrow.”

Your turn!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

I’m About Ready to Unfriend Facebook

I think Facebook has worn out it’s welcome at my house.  I’ve been so skeptical of it since first signing up a few years ago, after having my arm twisted.  Since, my usage has gone in waves.  I’ve enjoyed using it to hear what my friends out-of-state/country are up to, but over time I’m finding it less and less useful.

What is with using FB to to call others out or start arguments?  I find internet muscles so unappealing.  Several members of my family complain (or verbally attack) about their parents, children, siblings, cousins, etc. online – complaints that are posted for all their “friends” to see, including the one being called out.  There’s something very passive aggressive about that.  Even worse, the discussion that takes place is in front of all to see.  Anyone who uses social media does have at least some “hey, look at me” qualities, but when it becomes hostile or disrespectful, I don’t have any tolerance for it.  I've started blocking the posts of some of my family members because they were getting so irritating.

More recently, the political posts are becoming too much.  It’s no secret, I’m a liberal, so the extreme right posts that are popping up on the newsfeed are driving me mad.  Upon seeing some of the comments made by a few close friends I just feel deflated.  How can we be such good friends and have complete opposite ideologies? 

This month, FB began testing out their pay-for-posts plan on regular people.  Apparently, businesses have been paying for posts for quite some time, but that would be considered part of their advertising I’d assume.  Now, individuals who feel like their posts aren’t seen by enough of their friends, can pay $7 a post to make sure it is.  Are you freaking kidding me?  If i need someone to know something THAT badly, I can just call or email or text them.  I wonder if people are actually paying for that.  

So what does this all mean?  It’s probably best to simply delete my account and wash my hands of it all.  The problem is, the nosey side of me likes to read about what my friends are up to.  Some of them are VERY funny and interesting, and I enjoy reading what they write – like I enjoy reading funny and interesting blog posts.  Maybe Facebook can create a block button for posts that start arguments or have political leanings. That way I can just read the fun stuff.    


On another liberal note, I found this article looking for the FB one.  What is going on here?  Who are these people that are running and getting elected into office.  It’s truly frightening.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Mushrooms, Mormons, Dulce de Leche, and Some Other Odds and Ends

  • There’s been a mushroom battle brewing in my backyard over the last couple of weeks.  We have been fairly dry and windy, so I’m not quite sure why they are popping up, and just overnight too.  
    stuff 203 stuff 204I pull a couple up, and next day there are a few more in another part of the grass.   It’s very odd. 
  • A couple of days after posting about my tall chair, my friend Sheila dropped off some blocks that she had used to raise some furniture at her house.  Since I wasn’t able to lower my desk chair, she instructed me to use them to add height to my desk.  They rode around in my car for a couple of weeks until Jason helped me fit them last weekend. 
    stuff 215They are terribly conspicuous, but they get the job done.   stuff 217There’s only one downside…Jason said I now look like a kindergartner sitting at the desk.  But at least now my chair easily slides in keeping me from killing myself while I’m behind the desk. 
  • On Thursday night, some friends and I went into Hollywood to see The Book of Mormon at the Pantages. stuff 213 I’d heard various reviews – some thought it was fantastic while others were offended and thought it went too far.  I thought it was totally offensive and totally fantastic.  It is not for the prude or faint of heart, but it was so clever and very, very funny.  Even though it’s focused on Mormon missionaries, I thought it was very much a commentary on all religions.  They all have stories that followers choose to believe, and this play focused on the part those stories play.  We enjoyed it.
  • There’s always room for some cute puppy pictures.  Rigby is so goofy.
    stuff 589 stuff 572stuff 590After 4 days of not walking someone’s getting a little cheeky.  Nothing like waking up being spooned only to find out it’s your 50 pound puppy.  That face!
  • I made my first Dulce de Leche Banana Cream Pie on Friday.  The recipe has been floating around Pinterest this last month.  I had a friend in high school whose Mom made this all the time.  So I thought I’d make it for some company.  A couple of days before I made magic happen by boiling the can of sweetened condensed milk for a couple of hours, creating dulce de leche. 
    stuff 567The day of, I put together a graham cracker/cinnamon crust and some whipped cream.
    stuff 568 stuff 573 And then put it together – bananas, dulce de leche, whipped cream, and chocolate shavings.
    stuff 576 stuff 577stuff 581 It was so fun and easy and looked beautiful.  After chilling for a couple of hours, it was served.  I might have added too much of the dulce de leche because it was a bit runny when cutting so we had to use a spoon to serve.  No matter, it still tasted great.  The guests ate half of it.  Luckily, I’ve been sick and haven’t been able to eat the other half of it.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

A Doctor’s Visit

There are very few things I like less than going to the doctor.  A doctor (and dentist) visit fills me with all kinds of anxiety.  I’m not sure if it’s because as a kid I was ALWAYS at the doctor with allergies, asthma, and ear infections getting shots, and tests, and treatments or if it’s because I worry that I’ll get bad news.  Regardless of where it stems from, other than my regular must-do yearly exams, I avoid the doctor as much as possible. 

Like usually happens about 10 weeks into the new school year,  I came down with a sore throat this week.  It feels like I’ve raked a cheese grater over it.  I didn’t sleep well last night, waking up several times not being able to swallow.  I tossed and turned, knowing it meant I needed to go to the doctor in the morning. 

Begrudgingly, I arrived at Urgent Care about five minutes before they opened this morning.  There were already 3 patients ahead of me. Luckily, I only waited about 20 minutes to be taken into the back.  After the nurse triage I was placed in the small exam room.  This is where I tend to imagine all the things that could be wrong with me, in this case I was sure it was throat cancer. 

The doctor interrupted my nerves for a bit when entering the room, asking me all the same questions the nurse had asked me not 10 minutes before.  After looking at my chart, he commented that my blood pressure looked high.  The doctors always comment on this at the beginning of an exam.  Not because my blood pressure is high, but because I am a nervous wreck at the doctors (or dentist).  I told him I tend to run high at the beginning of the visits, but if he doesn’t tell me I’m going to die, it will be back to normal by the end of the visit.  “Deal,” he said.  Next, he remarked that I didn’t seem to have a high temperature, in fact, it was about a degree and a half below 98.7.  Yes, another oddity, when I’m sick, that temp usually goes down, not up.  Urgent care is so convenient on the weekends,  but since the doctors aren’t the regular ones, they don’t really know a patient’s history.  I wanted to tell him to look at my chart; This is all normal for me. 

After all was said and done, the sore throat isn’t a symptom of an incurable disease, but more likely strep throat – a culture will confirm.  After the antibiotic prescription was written out, the doctor asked to take my blood pressure again. I obliged and smiled somewhat proudly when he said that I was right; my bp was just fine at the end of the visit. 

Since there was no time to take it easy this week, I’m very happy to be drugged up, sitting on the couch, and watching TV (or falling asleep in front it).  Actually, I’m very glad to be anywhere that is not the doctor’s office.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

So Long Hieronymus Bosch…For Now

I just got home from my walk with the dog and about halfway through it, I finished the last book in the Hieronymus “Harry” Bosch series written by Michael Connolly.  Connolly has written 27 fictional novels (18 of them with Harry Bosch as the main character), and since adopting Rigby I’ve listened to all of them on audiobook while trying to wear out my crazy dog.  The books are terribly entertaining detective/crime type stories, but real easy reads (or listens).  Even on days I didn’t feel like going out, the stories motivated me to do so because I wanted to hear more of the stories.  To be honest, I’m going to miss Harry Bosch, and I’m kind of sad that the series is over. 

When I’m trying to motivate some of my students to read, I often try to hook them up with a series.  The hopes are if they enjoy the first one they will want to continue with the rest.  There are a few authors I have continued reading after the first book, but I don’t think I’ve ever done a series with so many books from start to finish before.  Since the first one was written back in the early nineties each and every one was downloadable.  They were all on my iPhone so I was able to go from to the next without any lag time.  Now they are all over, and I’m having a hard time figuring out what I’m going to listen to next.

Some friends have given me some recommendations.  I’ve downloaded all of Joseph Wambaugh’s Hollywood Station five-book series and all of Robert Crais’s Elvis Cole/Joe Pike fifteen-book series.  Both are detective type stories which will maybe help with the transition.  James Patterson’s Alex Cross series has also been pointed out to me.  Several years ago I read a couple of his books, and they were good.  My only worry about that series is the crimes are always really creepy, not your run of the mill crime.  It’s usually dark by the time I go for a walk, and I think those books will just make me scared.

Tomorrow, I’ll get started on one of the two that I’ve already downloaded.  If anyone else can recommend another entertaining series, I’d love to hear your thoughts. 

Looking online to see how many Michael Connolly novels there are I see that he actually has a new Harry Bosch book coming out next month.  I’m very much looking forward to that.

Saturday, October 13, 2012


Haven’t done a Saturday 9 in awhile…

1) Do you believe there's only one person (and there ain't no other) for you? Or do you think we can truly love several partners over the course of our lives? Maybe someday the former, but for now the latter is my frame of reference.

2) Do you have any Christina Aguilera song on your iPod/mp3 player? No, I don’t listen to her music. 

3) What do you deserve an award for? And who would you thank in your acceptance speech? Oh sheesh, I don’t know…

4) Do you have a fragrance or scent you regularly wear?  Clinique’s Happy or Jessica McClintock are two that I wear.  They are mild and don’t screw around with my allergies.  I was out shopping with a friend this summer who was looking for a new perfume.  Many were so strong I thought my head was going to explode.

5) Do you have any allergies? Nothing life threatening, well except I can’t eat seafood, but yes – walnuts, cottonwood (and most springtime blooms that blow off and fly around in the air causing hay fever), Siamese cats, and alcohol I think.

6) There's an older lady who proclaims during a TV commercial, "I will give up beer, bread, wine or soda but I won't give up Life Alert!" No, we're not going to debate her diet. Instead the question is: What are some of the staples that are always on your grocery list?  Chicken breasts, pretzels, fruit, broccoli, squash, bread, soda, peanut butter, Greek yogurt, and tomatoes are staples at my house.

7) What's your favorite sitcom of all time? Probably Seinfeld (not the last 2 years of the series though) and I Love Lucy.  More recently I’ve enjoyed watching Modern Family, The Middle, and New Girl too.

8) When it comes to your socks, do you prefer solids, stripes or prints? Mostly white no-shows for my sneakers, but I do have a few cute pairs of funky socks with stripes and prints.  Most of my shoes though aren’t meant for socks.

9) At what age do you consider a person "middle aged?"  And when do they transition to "old?"  I once heard a comedian say that 45 or 50 could only be middle age if we lived to be 90 or 100.  As old as the number of my age seems to me, I don’t feel old and that’s probably what matters most.  Well, some days I feel older than my age, but most of the time way younger.

Your turn!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Oh California, You’ve Done It Again

The last time I bought gas I paid $4.09 a gallon.  Granted, that was a couple of weeks ago because the only place I’ve driven to is work.  But due to a gas shortage in California over the last week or so, gas prices have skyrocketed.  We already have some of the highest gas prices in the country, so this shortage because of a fire, a power outage, and the reduction of our “summer grade” gas led to even higher prices – higher than even Hawaii, which is saying something.  On a side note, I always find it so odd that gas is made right here, but due to the amount of taxes added to our cost,  we pay more than other states do who have it shipped miles and miles in. 

Gas stations around the state have run out of gas, there are terrible lines at other stations, and prices shot up over $5 - $6 a gallon.  I am a gallon or two above empty and keep driving by the gas station hoping the prediction that Sacramento is curbing the costs actually comes true.  It has dropped some since Monday, but still quite high.  I’ve got maybe two more trips to work before I’m going to have to fill up again.  It seems I’m not the only one running on empty because now reports (from AAA) say that people up and down the state are running out of gas left and right because, while waiting for the prices to go down, they waited too long. 

When I first heard of the price increase, I figured it was something the entire country was facing (only slightly less since most pay less than we do).  But leave it to good ole Cali to get itself into even more of a mess than we are in already.  With our cost of living increasing rapidly, the cost of property falling even faster, our sales tax at almost 10%, furlough days, and now gas dollars more than the rest of the country it seems to be getting harder and harder to live here.  

Anyways, hopefully my gas lasts until we get some relief at the pump.  Wish me luck!  I should check to be sure my AAA membership is up-to-date just in case though.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Ode to the New Library

The doors opened just last week.

8008076208_17e536627dLocal teachers were asked to be the first visitors. 


There are rows and rows and rows of picture books where children who love to read can devour books.

8044457912_6bfbcf5865 8012161693_e2d0a89f85And with a homework and tutoring room for those without help at home.

stuff 004

In a room with 12-foot picture windows and colorful computers with large-keyed keyboards for little fingers.

stuff 005

8044450379_3413cc5bb2Two stories of new with a little bit of the past sprinkled in. 8021451125_43eb2e51aa

8021448425_68fb716219Catering to the needs of young and old alike. 

Desktops and even laptops for check out to be used for writing, learning, thinking. 
stuff 010

Within two blocks of an elementary school that is thrilled to have it so nearby.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

I Cried Today

You are cordially invited to my little pity party.

When just a few months ago, work made me cry on a regular basis, it no longer does.  Being at my new school makes me happy, and I believe in what I’m doing again which goes a long way. 

This morning, however, I had an overwhelming urge to cry, and few tears were shed.

The last two months have been busy.  Good busy, but still busy.  In addition to regular teaching “stuff” I’ve been out of the classroom for staff development both as a trainer and a trainee several times already this year.  Each time I’m out, I have to write sub plans in addition to my regular plans.  I’ve been out the last two days, which means two days of sub plans.  When arriving at school this morning to review yesterday’s sub notes and prepare for today’s sub, I also had to set up my classroom so 30+ teachers would have a place to sit when they came in for a demo lesson.  Furniture was moved around and folding chairs were set up.  During this frantic moving, while dressed up in heels and a dress no less, my room phone rang.  It was my principal calling to ask how the meeting room for my training needed to be set up as it hadn’t been set up correctly the night before.  I finished what I could, grabbed my things, and headed to the other room where my principal was waiting to help. 

The chairs and tables set up in a giant circle around the meeting room was the straw the broke the camel’s back.  Our trainings are usually set up in tables to promote discussion.  The incorrect set up was the last bit of air let out of an already deflated tire.  “Ya know,” I said, “It’s fine the way it is.”  My principal asked if I was sure since it wasn’t the way I’d been setting up the room.  I nodded, trying not to fall apart (yes, over tables people).  “I’m sure,” I said, feeling that please-don’t-cry pressure in head.  “I’m just so tired, the thought of moving this furniture is going to push me right over the edge.”  Then I found a box of tissues to stop the tears that were welling in my eyes. 

This inappropriate emotion passed quickly (luckily my principal, who is also a friend, is as intense as I am, completely understood where I was coming from, and didn’t think I was a complete nut job), and we moved a few tables around to make it work. 

Usually I strive on stress, but usually the stress comes in waves.  So far this year, it hasn’t stopped.  There has been NO catching up with not only my job in the classroom, but all the district commitments I have outside the classroom.  I don’t like that word overwhelmed because it holds negative connotations of not being able to handle things.  Well maybe I can’t.  Maybe this was a sign that I need to stop putting so much on my plate.  Or maybe I can, just a after wringing out a tear or two.

Mama's Losin' It

Monday, October 1, 2012

Come On, Fall! Where Are You?

October has arrived.  When I lived in New England, autumn was my favorite season with the temperature dropping and the leaves changing colors.  Here in the valley north of Los Angeles, fall seems to arrive later and later each year.  I think we are on our millionth day of 100+ temps.  I’m to the point that when the weatherman shows the week’s forecast I point at the TV and say, “Oh just shut up, you!”  It’s sooooo hotttttt.

Regardless, at least September is over and we are closer to some cooler weather than we were last month.  And because we’ve turned another page on the calendar, it’s time for The Kathryn Wheel’s Calendar Challenge.  I had gotten a little tired of the layout for the previous few months, so it was changed up a bit in September.
stuff 239I’m not terribly happy with the way it turned out, but I did have funny making it and all the mindless doodling and coloring.  I’m not sure what I’ll do for October’s layout though. 

Having a crazy, but good, new school year, there has been so little time for any other creating.  I did manage a few pages.
stuff 240 stuff 244 stuff 244
Happy October!  I hope everyone is enjoying their fall so I can live vicariously through you.