Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Relaxing Over Christmas Vacation

Here are two projects I have accomplished since I've been on break:

Finally finished putting all the decorative bits on this little guy. Only started him last spring or so. I got the pattern to crochet him from edafedd on Etsy.

Now he's all ready for wrapping!

And this grow-it-yourself herb kit that Nancy gave me for my birthday:

Can't wait to see how they do. Hopefully I'll be cooking with herbs in no time.

Oh, yes, there was one more thing I did--I put new rope on Noah's scratchy post so now it's more than just the bare wood again. Exciting stuff happening over here, let me tell you...

Sunday, November 29, 2009

What do I remember?

We've been working on writing memoir pieces in the classroom, and I had to come up with an example to model for the students. Triggered by a piece of writing in our literature book, I came up with this moment from my past:

GONE by Miss Nichols

I still remember that day like it were yesterday, although this really happened 18 years ago. The feelings I had when I walked into the empty bedroom I had shared with my younger sister, wrenched my soul apart. What had been a room full of cosmetics, high-heeled shoes, piles of clothes and teddy bears, was now a desolate landscape. So she had done it, she had run away for real this time. I sat on the floor and hugged myself, then cried like a wild animal in pain.

It was a Saturday morning, and I was getting ready to go to my job at the library. My parents had just told my younger sister Jeanne that they were going to visit my grandparents that afternoon and that she was coming with them.

I felt the tension rise as my sister yelled at them, "You didn't tell me anything about this! I'm not going! I have other plans today."

My parents said, "No, you're coming with us."

"I'm 18, you can't tell me what to do!" my sister screamed back at them.

I think I remember my mom slapping Jeanne, or grabbing her by the wrist to make her point. My sister fought back, causing my dad to jump in. I had to restrain my dad, and break the whole thing up. Meanwhile, the clock was ticking, and I was going to be late to work.

I tried reasoning with everyone, telling Jeanne that you don't get a chance to see our grandparents very often, and telling my parents that they should tell us this stuff at least a day in advance. It seemed like everyone had calmed down by the time I headed out the door.

At work, I quickly forgot about the morning's events, as they weren't that out of the ordinary. Just another crazy morning at home. And I had other things to do--books to check in and out, library cards to make, etc., etc.

When I returned home at 6:15 p.m., the house was quiet. I remember thinking, "Good, they ended up working things out and Jeanne went to Granny and Gramp's with them. Now I can finally have some peace and quiet here."

I went in the bedroom to get a book to read, and suddenly, the true events of that day were revealed. Jeanne hadn't gone with my parents. She had gone GONE. And she'd taken all her stuff with her. The note she left for me said, "To Sue, you were the only cool one. If I left anything of value, please hold on to it for me. Jeanne"

I felt like the breath had been crushed out of me. I crumpled to the floor like an autumn leaf, brittle, dry, and fragile. Right then, my life changed forever, because I learned in that one moment something I will never forget. I learned that you should appreciate the people you love while you have them, because the next day--or in my case, that same day--they could be gone.

* * *

I lived the next year and a half of my life not knowing how my younger sister was doing, where she was, whether she was well or not. My family had to sneak into her high school graduation ceremony because we didn't get an invitation. Watching from high up in the bleachers, it killed me to see my sister down on the football field and not be able to go down and hug and congratulate her on her big day, like she had with me just a few years earlier.

One day I heard from her ex-boyfriend that Jeanne had left his house (the place she went to from our house that day). She had taken all her stuff and just ... gone. I tracked down which department of the courthouse she worked in and went to visit her there.

Turns out she was living just a couple of blocks away from my new apartment in a place of her own. And suddenly, I realized how lucky I was, to have this chance for a fresh start with her. Not everyone gets this chance. The little sister I had known and lived with for 18 years, had turned into a very independent young woman, and it was time to get to know her all over again.

Together, we began to slowly, cautiously, rebuild our family.

* * *

So that kind of got me started on the idea of writing memoir for this blog. I'll see what else I can come up with. The idea of starting over leads me into a recollection from my first year of teaching, with Chris and Arturo. I'll try to write about that next time.

Sunday, October 18, 2009


Yeesh, see what happens when I start teaching? I fall off the face of the earth. No, really, I've been posting, just not to this blog (to my classroom one).

Just wanted to let everyone know I'm still alive and kicking.

And here are the beautiful roses I came home to on Wednesday, from Jon on our 1.5:

Friday, August 21, 2009

Getting Ready for School

I just found this video on Canadian math teacher Darren Kuropatwa's blog (awesome blog), but then decided I liked the version on Taylor Mali's YouTube page better. This is a story/poem that I had heard a version of a few years back about how teachers make a difference in their students' lives. The video is of the author, Taylor Mali, performing the poem. My sentiments exactly!

And this is a different version of the same poem, with the words on the screen. I think the slideshow was made by Scott Schwertly, or at least I found it on his Slideshare page.

Some people don't like it when you "tell it like it is," or at least tell it like how it seems to you. But when you feel passionately about something, it needs a voice, and anyone who doesn't like it, doesn't have to. It just needs to be said.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Noah and the Bike of Sweat and Doom

Listen to my tale (tail?) of getting exercise at home.

My bike had been sitting outside on the balcony for years, unused, unloved, and rapidly deteriorating due to the ocean breeze that made it impossible to keep a cover on it and the dust, dirt, and grime of overlooking an alley. For our one year anniversary of knowing each other, I asked Jon (the bike expert--go talk to him if you have any bike or cycling questions, he's definitely the treasure house of knowledge) if he would fix up my bike and put it on the stationary device so I could ride it indoors.

After taking it to the shop and having numerous parts replaced and/or polished up, I came home one day to find it set up and waiting for me. So inviting...

I was so excited to be able to get a good workout without even having to leave the house. Now, finally, I will get back in shape again! I set my computer to play the perfect soundtrack for my workouts: 30-34 minute podcasts from Beatport Burners. They kick my butt making me keep up with their high-paced rhythms. I alternate between standing, sitting, and sprinting.

However, this is what happens more often than not during the sprinting part

Thus, the oh-so-appropo title of this post: my sweat (or exercise moisture as it's called in the book I'm reading, Pride & Prejudice & Zombies) leads to Noah's doom. He can't help himself, he is puuuuuulllllled towards the bike pedals, especially when I pick up speed. I've even clocked him on the head a couple of times when I couldn't stop fast enough to avoid it. Maybe he enjoys the breeze the circulating pedal creates, maybe he wants to do some riding of his own, I don't know what goes through his little head. But curiosity won't be allowed to kill this cat. I'm thinking of knitting a little bike helmet for him. What do you think, would that help?

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Too many good blogs to read

Ani and me at the computer

So, every summer I pretty much find myself with some sort of crazy whirlwind project to occupy my days, hours, and minutes until I am back in the classroom again, cheerfully (if nervously) greeting three sets of 30-36 sixth graders. Last summer it was MySpace, the summer before that was YouTube and I think the summer before that I was hellbent on buying a condo (thank goodness THAT didn't happen!) in Long Beach.

This time I have Jon to thank for introducing me to Google Reader, which has inspired me to scoop up, collect, gather, and organize hundreds upon hundreds of blogs pertaining to my many and varied interests. At first I was fine, just looking at some knitting/crochet blogs and pictures of adorable animals on Cute Overload. Then I found that I could subscribe to all my Redfin searches and watch the local housing market on blogs like Santa Monica Distress Monitor and Dr. Housing Bubble. Next I realized I could subscribe to Etsy Storque articles and get tips on how to get my shop off the ground. Then I started finding Etsy artists' blogs, and one blog led to another and now, like I say, I have more than could possibly be read in one lifetime. Seeing all these great blogs inspired me to start this one, and so far I've just been trying to get the "hang of things" in the blogosphere.

Today I would just like to highlight two bloggers that I have come across so far and enjoyed catching up on their multitude of posts. The first one is Artnlight, written by Vineeta in Mumbai, India. As I was going through her previous posts, I found myself starring almost every single one, the images she uses are so colorful and vivid. Just my style--Indian style! Like this picture she took inside the Amber Fort (a place I would like to know more about, it's beautiful!):

Isn't it incredible? I'm not sure of blog etiquette, like if I can post pictures from someone else's blog as long as I give them credit, but I hope it's okay to do that.

The second blog I have enjoyed reading through the last couple of days is Artsyville, by Aimee in Lawrence, Kansas. Since I haven't had a chance to write for permission to reprint any of her pictures, I'll just put the link to her blog and her Etsy shop. She does the most colorful art/thought doodles and even writes about her daily life in a colorful way. (Boy, am I glad I don't have two little ones at home to make such a mess! Wait a minute, I am always cleaning up after my two little ones, but they're kitties not kiddies.)

I am so inspired to make this blog something interesting and beautiful like these two mentioned above, but so far all I keep doing since I got back is reading other people's blogs instead of writing my own. Oh well, all in it's own time.

I just love how these two people are from such different parts of the world than I am, and how, as of a few days ago, I didn't even know they existed. Yet now I know about them and we have such similar loves, thoughts, and passions. I guess it's time to let them know I am here, too and to take this baby blog out of it's shelter and into the larger playpen of the web.

Thanks for listening/reading.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Back Homery

Noah, you weren't trying to ride my bike again were you?
Always a dead giveaway, the grease stains around the muzzle, not to mention the guilty look on his face...

The crocheted bowls I am trying to felt, if I ever figure out that process

And, too late for 4th of July, or even the 4th of August for that matter, but I couldn't resist this patriotic salute to Honda, the Japanese car maker that seems to have a corner on my parking "garage". Don't you just love the cute little blue one on the left?

Monday, August 3, 2009

Farewell Bend

Jon and I headed out to the Tumalo Falls for our last morning in Bend.

This 97 foot waterfall is the source of Bend's drinking water, and a beautiful sight to see.

Because I know how to play with the settings on my camera now, I was able to make the water freeze and flow.

Jon took some pictures too.

Happy as we look on that bright, sunny Oregon morning, the sadness hit as we got in the car on the 'morrow and had to say, like so many others before us, "Farewell Bend."

Now home safe and sound with a purring-while-sleeping cat and a growling-while-being-petted cat. And my new computer!!!

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Bend - Day Nine

Pretty low key day today. We had a brief thunderstorm this afternoon/evening. Although it only lasted a short time, it was gorgeous.

And I thought of a new project to make, so Jon took me back to the yarn store to get more yarn. Now I have patronized both yarn stores in Bend (I feel so accomplished). This project was born out of my own need as I've been doing a lot of hiking the last week or so. Can you guess what they're for?

Oh so practical...

Now I can keep my camera bag for my camera and have a separate carrier specially designed for my water bottle. I call it--the Watergirl (or Waterboy for the more manly colors). Got lots of yarn, so I'm going to be making tons of them!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Bend - Days Seven & Eight

So I know this doesn't sound like a thing to do on vacation, but I had been thinking about getting a new computer to replace the one I got when I started at UCLA (11 years ago!) and seeing as how there's no sales tax up here in Oregon, we went and got this behemoth with a $300 discount. Look how easy it was to set up: 5-4-3-2-1

And blastoff! All done, in like one minute. Didn't feel like doing anything outdoorsy as it's 95 degrees out there and we had quite enough sun the day before, so it was a good day for computer shopping and messing around with it.

I've also been working on my photography, thanks to the books Brenda lent me. This is the one I'm currently reading:

So far it seems like my pictures are getting worse rather than better, since I took the camera off the auto setting. But I did experiment with the Tv and Av modes today at the High Desert Museum and got some pictures I might not have otherwise been able to get. Sorry they're a little blurry, I didn't have a tripod and it was really dark in there.

This poor guy was found in the wild. He had apparently been someone's "kitten" and had been declawed, etc. then released into the wild when he got too big. Way too hot for him today, too!

They had an exhibit on bats, one of my favorite animals. Did you know they eat fruit and then poop out the seeds while flying around, thus seeding entire areas of land?

I thought these guys were kind of cute.

And then, of course our fabulous dinner!

What restaurant do you think cooked up this tasty looking dish?

Nope, we made it right here ourselves! Yummy!!! Too bad I didn't get pictures of lunch--grilled cheese sandwiches with Canadian Extra Sharp Cheddar and a beautiful salad. Next time...