Friday, May 24, 2013

A Smile

     It was hot. So very hot. So unusual for this area most of the time, but for about 3 days a year we get scorching heat, sometimes pushing the 100* mark. Our average year round temperature is around 72* so we are totally unprepared for the heat when it comes. No one has air conditioning on the Central Coast, except maybe some of the big businesses like Walmart (very busy on hot days) and the movie theaters.
     "Too hot to cook," I told my husband, "Let's go to CJ's for dinner." This is our local family owned restaurant that is our fall back for anytime we want to go out and don't feel like #1- getting dressed up, #2 - paying a lot of money. They serve breakfast all day, but have a good variety on the menu from fish & chips to steaks.
      On the 5 minute drive down the main drag of town we came up to a stop light. A building at the corner used to have an International House of Pancakes, that closed down several years ago, and now sits empty with a "For Lease" sign in the window. The property owners keep the property up; bushes cut, parking lot cleaned and maintained. As we sat at the light waiting for it to turn green, I noticed a young couple on the corner. We get a lot of people walking up and down this main street so at first I didn't think anything of it. But they were not waiting to cross either the main street or the side street at the light. They were standing on the corner, but were turned to the corner of the building. In their hand I noticed they held a leash and at the end of the leash was - now I don't know my dogs very well - what looked like a long-haired golden lab. I am not a dog person, per say, though I had a dog growing up and Doug and I had a dog when we were first married. Her name was Nicole...but that's another blog.
     As they shifted apart I saw what they were looking at. I have to tell you it was kinda cute. Their dog was busy rolling and jumping through the automatic sprinklers that had obviously come on as they were passing. He was having such a good time and the young couple was giving him a long leash to be able to enjoy the cool water. They were smiling and taking pictures of him on their cell phones. You could probably find the video by now on You Tube! And I bet that for the next couple of hot days the route for a walk was predetermined as to time and place.
     I showed Doug but by the time he looked over the light had changed.
     Just a moment in time that brought a smile.

Originally written in journal:October 2012

Saturday, May 18, 2013


     The best thing about Saturday is the fact that I get to spend a little more time in  bed in the morning. Usually, during the week, at least during the school year, I get up at 5:30 a.m. It's dark. It's too early. But I need a couple of hours to pull myself together before I go to work. I know people who get up 1/2 hour before they have to go out the door. Not me.
     So, I was laying in bed this morning with my husband quietly snoring beside me, and listening to the noises of an early morning neighborhood. We have always slept with our windows open, even in the dead of winter. It's not like it snows or anything where we live. Anyway, it was around 7:30ish.  The neighbor next door had just let their dogs out. They roust around together, the two German Shepherds, before you can hear the faint clang of their tags on a food dish. And then they quiet down. Sometimes they bark, once or twice, if they hear something we can't. We live a block from the main street in town, and I hear delivery trucks almost every morning, going to and from the small local businesses. An airliner flies overhead. They are going to land in the next small town and drop out of the clouds in anticipation. Sometimes, we don't hear them. It just depends on the type of plane, I suppose. Our home is not in a "flight pattern." The fountain is bubbling outside one window. It runs 24/7. Nice noise for sleeping.
     And pretty soon, probably closer to 8ish, I hear a train. The train tracks are 10 blocks from us, but if the wind is blowing just right, especially on clear days, we can hear it almost as if it is running down our street in front of our house. You can tell by the whistles which way it is heading. If it is coming from the south, going north, there is a set of whistles at a crossing in Oceano, one down the main street from us at the end of Grand Ave. and one in Pismo which is just north of us here in Grover Beach. Then it leaves the populated area and turns inland to San Luis Obispo and the train station. If it is coming from the north, heading south, you just hear the one in Pismo and the one on Grand Avenue. These are both passenger and freight trains. The freight trains roar right through Grover Beach but the passenger trains stop at a small depot down by the beach.
     I hear cars starting, people going to work or wherever else they are going; Starbucks maybe. And as I lay there listening, I hear birds chirping at the feeders and a couple of doves cooing from the wires above our house. By 8:30 I start to hear a lawn mower and then a leaf blower. A neighbor is starting to saw something in his back yard. A group of kids are walking down our street to the bus stop on the next block and the buses come and go; not past our house but they are loud enough to hear if you know what you are listening for.
     So, the title of this piece today is "Quiet." Funny, since all I've talked about are noises. But I laid there this morning and tried to realize what it would be like if we lived during a time when there were none of the other-than-nature sounds. My husband and I watch a TV show called Revolution. It is about the earth, after some catastrophe, without electricity; generators don't work, batteries don't work. Planes fell out of the skies, cars stopped and were left where they stopped. No radio, no TV, nothing mechanical works. I got to thinking what it would be like to wake up at a time like that. The dogs, yes I would hear them. The birds, hopefully. No traffic down Grande Ave., no deliveries, no trains, and if there were trains, they would be steam and probably not sound a whistle because there would be no cars to warn off the tracks. No fountain, no leaf blowers, no sawing noises coming from a neighbor's back yard. No planes, probably no Starbucks to go to. No big grocery stores because the buildings would be dark. We would revert to open air markets; maybe a good thing. But we would only be able to eat what we could grow and get locally, because there would be no container ships or cross country trucking. No water pumps or electric stoves. No water deliveries. Gee, you say, this would be a really hard life. A lot of people would die, especially once the stores of medicine ran out. No factories or chemical labs producing more.
     But on the other hand, wouldn't it be nice to NOT have some of the noises we live with every day? Horrible ring tones, loud buses, loud cars or motorcycles without mufflers. Teenager thumping their music from their car stereos, that you can hear blocks away? No leaf blowers or lawn mowers. The world would be quiet. Our brains would be quiet. Quiet... 

Wednesday, May 15, 2013


     I can smell it. I can feel it. My brain is beginning to wrap up the school year and decide how I want to leave my room. It's summer. It's coming. 15 1/2 more days in the countdown. Come on down, summer!
     In some ways I cannot believe it is summer already. It seems like just a week ago I was planning my syllabus and looking up new lesson plans for the coming year. I had 2 classes of juniors in the fall along with a class of freshmen. In the spring I had two classes of sophomores and a class of freshmen. We work on a block schedule. The kids take 6 classes a school year; 3 in the fall and 3 in the spring. I personally love this schedule. With only 3 classes a day the periods run from 95 to 110 minutes each. There is a ton of time to really get involved each day. We can do reading and a grammar lesson and then still do the curriculum every day. We have time to get in groups and work or go to the computer lab and really spend some time to get a project accomplished. And because I only have 63 students for each fall and spring, I get to know them better. We become a cohesive group. They know what to expect from me and what I expect from them. I like it.
     The first year I taught I was at another school in the district; I may have mentioned that before... Any who...that high school had the regular 6 period day of which a teacher taught 5 and had a prep period in the middle of the day. Each period was only 50 minutes long. I always felt like I was behind and also that there were things unfinished everyday. The days went quickly but the year seemed to stretch on forever.
     So, where was I? Oh, yes, summer. Yay! It's coming. I have so many things I want to do this summer. Every year I have a long list of items I have put off "until summer." I think most teachers do this. I usually get about half of the things accomplished that are on my list every summer. This summer I would really like to take a long trip back east, but if we do that I won't get all the other things done from my list. What to do, what to do? So, you ask, what does Jody have planned for her summer? Here's the list:
Read at least two books(I have several dozen on my list to choose from)
Tear out a planter in my back yard.
Build a pergola and plant wisteria to vine over it someday.
Replant some of my succulents.
Plant an apple tree and a peach tree (already have...just waiting).
Write 3 blogs a week (yeah, right)
Finish 2 or more quilts I have as UFOs (for those of you who don't quilt that means Unfinished Objects).
Perfect a vegan cookie recipe.
Experiment with making my own gluten free crackers.
Download a list of songs I have collected over the past 6 months and sync my iPod.
Get my syllabuses ready for classes in August.
Take lots of naps.
Go to the movies in the afternoons and eat popcorn.
Get pictures to go with all the numbers on my phone.
Do the tutorial for Windows 8.
Do a PowerPoint on plagiarism.
Paint some patio chairs I bought at an estate sale last month.
Go to estate sales every Friday.
Visit my son and daughter-in-law in San Francisco.
Visit my best friend in Bakersfield (yes, I know it will be hot).
Take lots of naps. (oh, wait, I already said that.)
Work on getting a caterer for an quilt auction we're having in September.
Schedule a walk through of the venue for the auction.
Contract a security guard for the auction.
Make some small items for the boutique at the auction.
Replant a wine barrel out in the front of the yard.
Lay down some walking paths in the backyard.
Prune the rosebushes.
Clean out and vacuum out my car.
Watch all 6 seasons of Northern Exposure.
Catch up on the whole last season of Merlin.
Work on novel. Get at least two chapters done.
Take car trips every week with Doug so we can listen to our books.
Sleep in; (not to be confused with taking lots of naps).
     I'm sure I have left things out. And the funny thing is that I will get stuff done that is not ON the list. But I guess that's o.k. They are things I will want or have to do any way someday. As long as they don't interfere with my naps.    

Friday, May 10, 2013

Odd & Random

     In the past couple of years I have come upon odd and unusual sightings. Some of them I have been able to document with a camera. Some I just store in my brain. One of those "Uh?" moments.
     For instance: I drive a particular route to school every day. In our neighborhood I drive by a green house that sits on a street corner on the bend of the road. As one comes to the ever-so-slight turn, there is a picture window, in that house, that looks right out onto the street. The curtains are never closed, and in front of this window is a couch, set at an angle. Beyond the couch is a dining room table with a crystal light fixture hanging  over it. The inhabitants of the house are very often up early and you can see their white-haired heads as they sit on the couch and read their newspaper. Along the back of the couch lies a dog. He's (I think he looks like a boy) a Jack Russell Terrier, although I can't really tell if he is a pure-bred. He lies behind the couple's heads with his head on his paws, stretched out, and looking out the window. Mr. Terrier is there every day; without fail. Watching the world go by.
     Now, I have had dogs and I have had cats most of my adult life. This behavior is not particularly unusual. But I have to wonder; how many people actually see the dog every day? Do they smile and wave at the dog? Have they stopped and knocked on the door, wondering what his name is? What all does the little dog see every day? People walking other dogs, cats prowling, cars busting through the stop sign on the corner? Certainly he sees the kids that walk to and from the elementary school down the block. Do they smile and wave? Does he wag his tail at them, or bark? Hmmm. I wonder.
     Another thing I've noticed recently has been in restaurants. Have you been in a restaurant lately? You can't go past a table without noticing that people's phones are all laying on the table. They have almost become part of the table setting. To the right of the spoon, please. Or if someone happens to be left handed; to the left of the forks and below the butter dish. Thank you, very much. I don't often hear one ring, so they must all be muted or on vibrate. I think it is strange that we are so connected that we cannot even sit through an hour or two dinner with friends or family without being able to see if we are being called, or our e-mail gets a message, or our Words With Friends opponent has played. I understand getting an emergency call, but most of the stuff that comes over my phone is not an emergency. Why do we have to have our phones ON the table? Isn't it good enough to have them in a coat pocket or purse? Could we not excuse ourselves and check the phone outside if we are expecting some tid-bit of important information? Nope. Guess not. The phone must be on the table. It is almost as if they have become a status symbol, like drinking water out of a water bottle used to be.
     Just two little observations for the day. Look around. What do you notice?

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Hangers vs. Hooks

     It is amazing to realize how much we change over the years...and just how much we don't change, really. We have always lived in a small home, up until 3 years ago it was only 1010 square feet. At that time we added 200 more square feet as a bedroom, onto the back of the house.
     Here's the thing. For the first 30+ years in this house it has always been cramped, especially for 4 people, and lacking in storage. The two original bedrooms were built without closets as houses of our age were not built with closets. People used armoires and dressers to store their clothes. So, in each of the bedrooms closets have been added that jut out into what was the original garage. Closets: 6 feet wide and just deep enough to hang a hanger. This scarcity of storage has created a sense of ...what shall we call it? "Creative alternatives."
     Hooks. Love the hooks. 2 on each side inside the closet, for robes and belts and two for the back of the bedroom door for coats, sweaters and anything else one can hang on the hooks and still open the door to walk into the room. Hooks on the wall behind the door. Hooks on the back of the bathroom door. Hooks for towels inside the bathroom that is so small you have to close the door to get to the sink. Four towels can be hung in the span of one towel bar. Hooks inside the tub for puffs and loofahs.Hooks in my sewing room to handle the tools and assorted little things I want to look at while I sew. Hooks for completed little quilts, hanging in front of the windows, on other pictures hanging on the wall, by, you guessed it...hooks.
     I have come to realize that, after all these years of being forced to use hooks, I really like them! As a matter of fact, I prefer them over hangers hands down. I use ALL my ration of hooks and most of Doug's, as he is so ready to point out every time he takes a shower. There are two hooks on the back of the bathroom door. One is for me and one is for Doug. One has my robe and a nightgown hanging on it. The other has several of my tank tops and t-shirts hanging on it. Doug just doesn't fight it any more. He puts his robe, for after his shower, on the toilet or sometimes draped over the items I have on the hutch that is in the bathroom. Picture: Fluffy man's robe on a ledge measuring 12" deep by 24" long filled with a box of Kleenex, a candle and matches and a small wooded decorative box my father made me. Poor man. But really, it is his fault. when the hooks went up, he didn't claim his fast enough and now I have squatter's rights. I don't know who invented hooks...probably some cave man (or woman not to be sexist, after all they were probably the ones that had to deal with the cave that was too small) as I doubt they were too difficult to imagine. I love that person. Gotta love the hooks!