Sunday, January 11, 2015

See Saw, Teachery Style

This about sums up my last few weeks.  Only I can't say I was as radiantly happy as this young woman was on the down stroke, nor was I as exuberant on the up stroke, knowing that the see-sawing over whether or not I'd be teaching this next semester would continue.  Tomorrow schools starts.  Today I found out that (as my Dean put it) "Your Class Is A Go" in the subject header of the first email, with nothing else in it.  The second email was a touch more verbose, with the advice to "get your stuff prepared."  He is the man who hired me lo, these many years ago, and since I know him pretty well I laughed when I read the email.  It's nice to get off the see-saw.

But I'm pretty much in denial that my lovely (unpaid) sabbatical is over.  I have a list of projects as long as my arm in the quilty arena, plus there's those housekeeping chores that need to be done as I have company coming for the next two weeks.  Things are popping, but I have to turn some attention to my class now.  I did prep up for the first day and have my copies, the stuff up on the web, but who knows if I'll have any AV equipment in a class which is in the South 40?  I've already decided I'm wearing tennis shoes the first day, since there will be a lot of hiking around campus.

All of this happened because of budget numbers, those figures that we in middle-education (past K-12, but not as high as a 4-year school) live and die by.  Just before Christmas the numbers were in the tank; now, post New Year's, we can float my half-filled class (having only 12 students in my class has got to be a record).  I chose online ebooks, as I knew the books wouldn't be here in time and the style manual from the class that was cancelled just before Christmas can be transferred over to this class. 

I'm just so relieved to know what I'll be doing.

Sunday, January 04, 2015

Happy New Year 2015

We typically celebrate New Year's Eve at East Coast Time, that is, when it is 9:00 p.m. here in California.  This year, a little after 8:00 p.m., I suggested we celebrate it "Halifax" time, four hours earlier.  If this keeps up, by the time we hit that old nursing home, we may toast each other with our glasses of Metimucil at noon, muttering that somewhere in the world (Australia maybe?) it's time to celebrate the advent of the new year.

Celebrating in the future in a rest home, er--Assisted Living Center, is a definite possibility, given what I feel like as I approach a birthday that brings me, as everyone knows, one year closer to death...and the inevitable Assisted Living Center (ALC).  If I were forty years old this idea would seem morbidly uncomfortable, but this year I'm thinking that I'd just better get used to the idea because there are some upsides (I'll find them yet, as I'm a Pollyana if there ever was one) to this sort of arrangement of having your social life at the big table in the dining room with many other infirmed, but not necessarily feeble-minded, and may well prove as attractive the idea of not having to cook the three squares every day.  

My husband's parents wondered why they waited so long to move to their ALC, and after she died (another inevitable component of this stage of life) he found his second wife there.  I'm not saying that I'm going to kick off after I turn my birthday and leave my husband hunting down a suitable widow to move in with, but all I'm saying is that the view (and the array of choices) from this decade is substantially different than the view from 30, or 40.  Surprisingly different.

Perhaps that's why this cartoon caught my eye.  Certainly Dan Piraro (above), a man of my vintage, doesn't look like he has one foot in the grave.  If you looked around my studio with various creative projects scattered every which way, you know I plan to be around for a while.  I'm guess I'm just trying to be practical about how the ensuing decades might unfold, like I have some say in the matter.  At my age, it's the calamaties, the unforseen health problems, the fall, the traveling blood clot that will derail the best laid plans for the future.  So it's a happy sappy birthday to me, as I'm working to adjust my expectations to more closely match my long-range realities, whatever they are.  And trying not to rush Halifax-New-Year's style into what lies beyond.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Two Happy Bookends

This started off my Thursday in a good way with my husband's video on the front of his university's web page.  He'd participated in speaking about his research and what he does with the campaign Living the Promise.  Of course, I love the video and played it numerous times during the day.
(And at 1:27, you can see the blackout curtain that I sewed for him the first year he was a professor.  And yes, that Prop 65 sign about needles and pins is from my local JoAnn's store!)

I worked all day sewing on this quilt. Really I've worked all week on quilting this quilt.  More information can be found on my quilting blog,

And then this was the ending to my day: acceptance of all three quilts of my quilts into Road to California, a nationally ranked and juried quilt show, held locally.  I'd been rejected the last few years I'd entered and despaired of ever seeing my quilts hung again in a show.  To get in all three?  It leaves me shaking my head in amazement and jumping up and down on my bed in pure happiness.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Phone Calls

Recently, with the aging process going full steam in my life, I feel like I'm getting in on some of the good "old" jokes that I never understood before.  Like the phone call cartoon, my quirks and peculiarities seem to be increasing, and if I can just keep my sense of humor about it all, I may just make it through.  But perhaps I should apologize in advance to my children?

Friday, October 17, 2014

Before and After--Year of Planting (2014)

Here are a few photos, shown side-by-side, of the Before and After.  I hope to do this again, maybe every year for a few years in order to show the growth of the plants and the filling in of the landscaping.  I asked our landscaper how big these all would get.  His laconic reply: "Multiply by eight."  Okey-dokey.

Click to enlarge the photos.  The red numbers on the before photos relate to the location where I took the pictures on the plan from *this post.*

 The front hill -- the "juniper hill" -- as we used to call it.  (The trees in the after photo have not been erased: it's just an early-morning shot and the exposure was off.)

Front walkway.

Front rock wall and front door.

Standing at the outer perimeter of the upper yard and looking towards the backyard.  These photos are not an exact fit, but I wanted to show how the juniper hedge completely blocked off the side yard.

 In the "before," I lifted the camera up above the juniper hedge and took the photo. 

View from side corner towards the driveway.

 Not an exact match, but the side fence is about eighteen inches off the corner of the house, in front of the big tree.

This last one is a bit difficult to envision.  We took out all the cement "pavers" just under the number 36 in the left photo.  If you stood just to the right of that red number, feet on the brick patio and looked toward the fence, you would have the view of the "after" photo. 

Confusing?  You'll just have to come and visit.  

The other night my husband and I carried our dinner plates and glasses out to the small table and two chairs we have in front of the fountain, and enjoyed our dinner outside, overlooking the city's landscape and enjoying the new space.

Friday, October 03, 2014

Landscaping is All Finished -- 2014

 On Tuesday, Bruno came to finish the construction of my raised vegetable garden bed.  And I had a phone call with the cranky guy I'm allergic to, wherein he cussed me out, yelled "I'm off your job!" and hung up on me.  Long day.  That evening we got the two young men across the street, who are wrestling buddies, to help us move stones here and there, and finally we were both happy with how the path and layout looked.
 Wednesday morning, with no cranky guy in sight, nine men plus the owner showed up to "put this job to bed."  Here they are filling the garden bed with their special grow soil and are finishing up the stone.

Power shovel because our house is built on "cut," where they cut into an existing hill to create space for our house, and the whole thing is mostly decomposed granite.  He parked his shovel here while they took lunch at about 10:45 a.m. and one of them said "cookies?"  So I went inside and made a batch of snickerdoodles and took it out to them, along with jugs of ice water. I clear out upstairs so they can relax, and it sounded like a party on my back patio, with lots of laughing and joshing (in Spanish) going on.  Most speak English, though.

The plants were laid out and top dressing (the darker brown soil) was brought in.

Planting the hill.  We have over 70 plants on the hill.  Cranky guy showed up to place them, so I ducked into the house.  He's skilled and talented but we are allergic to each other (prone as I am to be allergic to cranky guys who criticize the plans, are constantly wanting to make changes yet are resistant to mine, who call me "Sweetie" and who cuss a lot).  I think we have the entire truck fleet here, but the owner assures me we don't.


 Leftover bits of rock, chipped off from the slabs of flagstone. 
 The fountain is up and running!!  We have an "autofill" set-up where I never have to add water -- they ran a pipe that has an automatic shut-off valve. Bruno put lots of rock all around, but then had to uncover it a little because they had not run the drip lines yet.

Now they begin to run the drip lines.  A PVC pipe is buried under the ground, emerging at midline of the drip system, so it can feed to both sides evenly.  They lay the drip tubing out around the plants (guess there is no moving them now), then poke the pipe with a sharp nail and push in an emitter wherever there is a plant.  The emitters drip about 2 gallons per hour.  They put several on the trees and even run the tubing twice around those that need the most water.

This is where the day ended.  The next morning only three men arrived first, and went to town making sure the back lawn area where the sod was going had adequate coverage with the sprinkler nozzles.  A few more plants arrived: two peonies (bred for our climate) and two lilacs (the tag says: blooms are better after a cold winter.  Looks like I'll be packing the roots with ice or something).  I went off to run errands and when I came back, then sod had been laid in the back yard, covering the empty spot where we'd taken out the olive tree, and which had sat empty for about a year.

More drip irrigation work, a few plant changes, then a break for lunch (no cookies today -- only ice water).

 The truck with the mulch arrived and everyone sprang into action.  Three more men were on this truckfull of springy "woodland mulch."  The one guy on the truck pitchforked it into trash cans, which others carried up the driveway and dumped in piles around the plants.  They started in the back and moved toward the front.  I asked Jesse how they got the mulch on the hill, and here he is demonstrating the "toss" method.

 The mulch covers the drip lines.
Here are the two men who made it all happen: Bruno (l) and Jesse (r).  Actually Jesse's real name is Jesus, and he often wore baseball caps that had slogans like "Come to Jesus," and "Jesus is the center of the universe."  He has a great sense of humor, as well as two daughters who are going to Cal State San Bernardino.  Bruno's daughter is studying to become a doctor.  Both of them work for Paradise Garden Center full time, but keep extra jobs going on the weekends to keep their children in college.  I took this at the end of the day, and everyone seemed really pleased with how the yard turned out. 

Backyard path from brick patio to gate.

 I took the following photos this morning, as everything looks so fresh and clean.

 One of the plants on the hill is Cape Plumbago, which is a bush with clusters of icy-blue flowers.  They are very popular around here.

 Eventually a hedge will grow up and shield this side yard from the front.  The hedge will run from the corner of the house and back around the raised garden bed, with a break at the walkway.

 We have two crown jewels in our yard now.  The one above, and the one below:

 Ah, yes.  See you plants in three years.

 View to the backyard.

In my next post, I'll do some side-by-side comparisons of the before and the after.  But for now, we are really enjoying the "after."