Sunday, April 30, 2006

Leisure Times

School is getting down to the end, and I am so glad, mostly because I am tired. Not that "I haven't slept well for a few days" tired, but more the kind of "putting up with others' constant bickering, swearing and what not" kind of tired that leads to weariness. And not only do I have to deal with students, I also have to take some after school classes and get ready for my school's huge change next year. So please forgive me for not going out and participating in highbrow heavy leisure time activities. Some people will call what I am doing fluff, and this lets them feel better about themselves because they do not stoop to this activity or they value a schedule that is too full of very important things and therefore are above these trivial pursuits. (Feeling a little defensive about this are we? Yes we are, thank you very much.) Others will call them soul refreshing, even the silly ones.

So here are a few fun things I am doing. The first is gardening. If you look at my Sunshine post, you will see that my gardening is a little freehanded, what I call letting nature be wild. My favorite thing to do is go to Loews home and garden store and check out their rejected "as is" pile of plants and rescue some of them. For 75 cents it is worth it to see if with a little cherishing the plants will come back. Then My Sweet gets fifty billion packets of vegetable seeds, which we plant and do our best to keep the slimy bugs away from what springs forth. I would like to say we grow enough vegetables to feed us all summer long. We don't, but what the heck; we will have some that have survived our "experimental" methods and the intense valley heat. So who couldn't enjoy a miracle, no matter how small?

Another thing I enjoy doing is watching local bands play in area parks. Last Wednesday My Sweet, neighbors and friends went to see the Bottom Dwellers. You have to enjoy a band that calls its genre "American Twang" Neighbor Jeff, who is strictly late 70's hard rock/metal, gave a great complement by exclaiming, "Hey, they do not suck." Trust me, coming from a guy who runs screaming like a little girl when country music is even mentioned, this is a real complement.

And while I love, love, love well written TV shows like Lost, Gilmore Girls and 24, I must confess to a guilty pleasure. I have become quasi addicted to Deal or No Deal. This is a game show that requires no skill at all. But man, the corny drama of it all. I mean first of all you have the mysterious Banker, who is this silhouetted in his "office" who calls Howie Mendel to complain about how well the contestant is doing and make an offer to get them off the show before the contestant wins quadzillions of dollars. Then there is MC Howie who is so wonderfully cheesy that I can predict the jokes as he says them. There are 26 supermodels whom Howie calls by name. Come on, he's just saying a random name. What's the model going to say? "Sorry, guy who is not so easily fired, I am Veronica not Ursula." And to be honest, a little part of me thinks the contestants are actors. Maybe I am wrong, but when a "contestant's" little daughter just happens to mentions that she wants a pony, and one is later brought on stage as part of the deal, it seems a little premeditated. But even if it is, I hope it never stops because I love the schmaltz of it all.

And finally my reading is not something from Jane Austin or Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Instead I am reading Uppity Women of Shakespearian Times and Dictionary of Word Origins. I love these short vignettes about people that were a part of history but do not get remembered. Also it is good to be reminded that there have always been people going against the grain to do what they want or what they think is right. And as for entomology, I like puzzling out how our language works. I love to figure out how the words bishop and spy are rooted together, as are acrobat and oxygen. To me it makes the words have a more cemented meaning.

Well, since I am so weary, now is a good time for a nap.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006


Usually the weather in Northern California is the stuff songs are written about, especially in the spring. However this season we had rain for about 31 billion days in a row. But that ended this week and we have jumped from a Saturday of 45 degrees to a Thursday of 82. The sun is out, no one - especially the teachers - wants to be in the classroom, and out backyard garden has grown about 3 feet. My snapdragons, which have only given green foliage these past months, are budding with a few red or yellow blossoms are starting to poke their heads out. Now I have to let you know that my usual MO for gardening is to plant the seeds, give them water and then just let them fend for themselves. Therefore I never know if they are ever really going to produce anything.

Ah hah, now comes the incredible, or incredibly obvious, metaphor about life. I am a teacher with at risk teenagers. Every day I go in with students who for various reasons have not done well in school. There are some students, try as I might, that, well lets just say we rub each other the wrong way. Last year I had a Student that I truly had a hard time connecting with. There were many mornings when I actually told God that I would be ok with it if He encouraged this Student to play hookie. When the Student graduated this past November, I shook his hand and wished him luck with the future, but in my heart of hearts I knew I hadn't forgiven him for the hellish things he did in my class. Call me petty, small minded, what ever. I just couldn't do it. Well, yesterday this Student comes in after classes were done to say hi to the staff, and tell us how he has just gotten out of a program run by the courts that God has used to really turn his thinking around - this thinking about his attitude, substance abuse, and outlook. Even though I knew I had nothing to do with his changes, it brought me to tears seeing this young man really start to bloom. (OK, another cliche, but my heart was melting, so what the heck.)

Saturday, April 22, 2006


This past week, as I drove to Santa Cruz with My Sweet sleeping in the passenger seat, I was listening to NPR talking to experts talk about the Gospel of Judas. This came out, not surprisingly, on Maundy Thursday, the day that Judas, having just taken the first ever Holy Communion, went and for 40 pieces of silver let the authorities know that he would help them capture Jesus. The experts say that the text for the new gospel discusses mystical conversation or revelation from God that Judas was chosen to carry out part of God's plan. So his betrayal was actually an act of faithfulness.

Many people may have trouble shifting thier view point of the archetypal traitor, but not me. I do not know for sure if this new Gospel is authentic or not, nor am I sure that God directly told Judas to hand over the Savior. But this I do know, Judas was one of the chosen twelve who spent time learning directly from a compassionate Lord. After Judas gave Jesus over to the authorities, which did get the ball rolling for the the Ressurection and salvation for humankind, he felt so guily that he could not live with what he had done. I always wondered what God would do with Judas, the betrayer and yet a follower of Christ and someone who played a very intsrumental part in the Grand Plan. I know God is compassionate and forgiving, so it would not surprise me to see Judas in Heaven.

There are a few other conflicts I stuggle with. One of them being that I am listening to NPR when I should be enjoying the peace and wonder of driving through the amazing Santa Cruz Moutains. I also have an inner conflict about picking up sea shells. They never look as nice at home, dry and sitting on a shelf, when they were ment to be a part of the wonderous sea scape. And yet I want them, a kind of souvineer.

I also hate zoos - taking animals out of their home and putting them in an artificial environemt to be stared at. However, I apprecialte the zoological advances that result from this, plus the fact that people get to see a lion, bobcat or flock of butterfies. When I was at Sequioa National Park I felt incredibly saddened when I saw the stumps of ancient giant Redwood trees that were shipped to the World's Fair. My heart wrung at the thought that the trees took centuries to create. None the less, I want people to know the overwhelming magesty of the Giant Sequia. And, if I were not privaleged enough to live nearby, I would want to see these trees on display. So, if the treasures of of King Tut or the Amazon come touring this way, I will feel a bit of guilt, but I be darned if I'll miss seeing them.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Here I Am

-Ok, so now I have finally done it. I have gotten plugged in, tuned in, and turned on. I am jumping on the blog bandwagon.

Why am I doing this, you may ask? A very astute and profound question that has several answers. The most shallow of them being that everyone I know is doing it ~ including my dear friend and role model Refreshing Sunshine, and my Sweet who speaks English as a second language for goodness sake. Other motives are keeping touch with friends and family, venting frustrations of the day, or writing down things that may someday turn into something more lucrative (Dave Barry is my hero on this point). Mostly it will be me jotting down my musings of the day. I want to be more disciplined about writing for the "public" so you should get at least 2 entries a week, but really I will try for 3.

So here are a few musings I had during the non rainy part of Spring Break. I love visiting Santa Cruz, CA. People just try to be themselves, even if being themselves is being a poser. For example, I just love that at one of the beaches a mom let her 5 year old dig sand castles in a plastic purple tu-tu.

We also went to a beach that is some kind of let-your-dogs-run-and-be-free park. One handsome dog had a tennis ball in its mouth while possessively guarding a second one. It tried desperately to put them both in its mouth, but that was physically impossible. So basically it was wasting a perfectly good ball that another dog could have played with. Plus, it was so busy guarding the second ball that it couldn't run an play catch with the first one. It just stood there slightly frazzled. One could easily jump into the metaphor that it was acting so "like a man" possessive, protective, blah blah blah blah, but this happened to be a female, and isn't it so us, too. So busy holding on to too many things that it interferes with fun.

Well, that is all for now. I am going to try and post this and see how it goes. I am not all that technologically hip, but My Sweet says he will teach me how to do links and other cool stuff. So thank you for reading this; I hope you enjoy it.