Saturday, September 30, 2006

Garden Metaphor

I am going to give this a shot. In my mind I know exactly what I mean, but sometimes I don’t really get it out clearly enough. Majoring in English, I learned to find allegories in everything - especially when it comes to gardening. I mean I knew the metaphors, but I never KNEW them until My Sweet got me actually gardening a few years ago. So here are a few things I have noticed.

1. The things that seem in the way can sometimes give us the shelter we need. We bought a huckleberry bush a few years ago - mostly because I thought it would be cool to have something that lends its name to a Finn and a Hound. However, over the past two years it has taken up an enormous percentage of our tiny garden plot. I mournfully thought we would have to uproot them in order to plant to grow some tomatoes and cucumbers - which have often failed in scorching California summers. We haven’t gotten rid of it and this year the sensitive, vine plants have interwoven with the Huckleberry branches, and the shade is actually encouraging growth.

2. Weeds are insidious, and if you do not pull them out quickly they will take root and spread. The weeds in our life really do need to be taken care of. However, as I mistakenly prematurely harvested some weedy looking green onions, not everything is bad for your - no demons found under each rock.

3. They say that if you like something, then it must be either bad for you or illegal. But some things that are good for you can be beautiful. Our eggplants and squash have gorgeous blossoms. And then they produce vitamin filled veggies.

4. Earlier I talked about my gardening philosophy and how it connects to how I deal with students. For those of you who are wondering, my Student stopped by a week or so ago and is doing well. Still clean and sober and getting ready to head to community college in the spring.

P.S. If I had my way I would reclassify a few things. Brussels sprouts would get a healthy dose of DDT, and dandelions would be cultivated for the ones that produce the biggest puffballs.

Joie de Vivre ~ A Hearty Joy of Living!

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

A Red Day

Today is red. Not the red of passion of garden ripe tomatoes, unless it is a tomato thrown passionately against a crumbling school wall. It is the red of rage, against students who take and take and when you can not give anymore they cuss you out for not helping. It is the red of a desert, from an administration that demands more on fewer resources. It is the red of eyes from a person who wakes up weary. I am weary today.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Do I Have a Life?

Wonderful, supportive teacher that I am, I am spending my precious Saturday morning not listening to my favorite NPR shows and eating waffles, but I am watching a few of my boys play soccer. They will either think I am interested in them as people, or that I have no life.

It is totally God's fault that I am here. Now my students didn't know, as of Friday morning at school, when the game would start. My Sweet is not feeling well, so he is grouch and I had to get out of the house for a while. I ran a few errands, and yes garage saling is a necessary errand - I just got a nearly new dehydrator for $3. I pull to the field just as the boys were warming up. Total God's timing, but someone had better score some points.

Sitting on the nearly empty sideline is the aunt of a former student. He had been with us for only a couple of months, transferred to adult school and is now planning to transfer to Berkley. Sometimes we are an elevator lifting students a great chunk to their goal, and sometimes we are a toehold to the next step.

Why do we Americans love football when the rest of the world is passionate about soccer? Why do we play soccer only until we are old enough to graduate to football? I do not know, and to be honest I don’t really care why. There is a limit to how much energy a country can pour into sports, and we have chosen our four: football, basketball, baseball and reality TV competitions.

There are a few things I like about soccer, like it being a high-energy game. But what I like best is that a 90-minute game is just that - 90 minutes. No 15 minute quarters that last three fourth of an hour!

What I laugh about soccer is the injury drama. You see them trip over a blade of grass and they go down as if a pit-bull had taken out their Achilles tendon. American football players have been know to hack off a broken toe in order to keep playing. No whining on their part!

Well, I see that one of my students has scored a goal thanks to the set up of another student. I hope I scored as well.

Joie de Vivre ~ A Hearty Joy of Living!

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Things I am told to say

There are a few things that people have told me recently that they told me to put on my blog. And of course I always do what I am told, so here it goes.


TV novellas are just starting to hit the US airwaves, but they have been in place for quite a while in Mexico, and of course Japan. My Sweet has just had me watch the entire 15 hours, sorry 12 episodes, of a series called "Densha Otoko" (Train Man). It is about a totally sweet anime geek who musters up the courage not only to stop a beautiful woman from being mauled by an obnoxious drunk, but he also stuttered out a request for a date. The sweet thing is that Densha has an on line community where he pours out the honesty in his heart, and they help him step out of his geek-dom in order to get the girl, and then to embrace the action figure-collecting, voice-actor worshiping, comicon-season-ticket-holding geek that he is. And there are a surprising number of romantic lines where I slap my husband's knee and ask him why he doesn't say things like that.

But tell me this, why is it always the geek guy who gets the gorgeous girl? (How do you like this for a piece of alliteration?) Why not the geek girl going for the hunk? Or a couple enjoying their geek-appeal together? The answer has to be more than the male-dominated industry. I mean at least a third of the audience, who the sponsors need to appease, is female geek.


The other day I was meeting with a wonderful group of spiritually passionate women. (And I am not just saying this because I hope they are going to read and comment on this!) In the course of dinner and discussion I made a few metaphorical references. Refreshing Sunshine said that I had better put them in my blog. So here they are:

Comparison 1)Sheep are creatures that are not phased when one of their own is killed - much like us sometimes. But as soon as I said it, I knew it was cutting but not entirely true. The sheer numbers of massacres like in Darfur overwhelms us, but we also feel powerless to help. But we will encourage the hunting down a murderer and demand justice. And if the criminal is super rich and can buy off the system, we make it so uncomfortable that they leave the country.

Comparison 2)Figs are in their growing season right now. They are sweet and succulent, but the season is short. Once a fig tree was in trouble for falsely implying that it was in season, like it had it all together and could bring sustenance and sweetness. When we pretend that we have no trouble and all the answers, when we give out junk or fluff, that is when we are to be shamed.

Now here is a challenge for you. Think of Forrest Gump: Life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you have until you take a big old bit out of it.

Take a word from group A and one from group B.

Group A
(your choice)

Group B
a mud puddle
a pair of shoes
(your choice)

Plug your choices in here and finish the sentence. Be sure to put your metaphor as a comment.

(Word A) is like (Word B) because ...

Joie de Vivre ~ A Hearty Joy of Living!

Friday, September 15, 2006

Fun and Games

I refrained from doing this at work. Pesky grading and lesson plans.

But if you need a break, enjoy. I now truly know that I will not be slaying a wild boar and living to tell about it. On another post I will try to talk about Lost as a TV show that expresses redemption and repentance better than many sermons I have heard.

Joie de Vivre ~ A Hearty Joy of Living!

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Famous in Our Own Lunchtimes

Wow, I have been tagged, by two people. Doodah! and Fruitful Words. I am not totally sure what that means, except that I get to write about things that talk about me. And maybe about you.


1. What do you like most about where you live?

I love the variety found in Northern California. I live an hour and a half from the beach, an hour and a half from the snow and the same distance from several redneck rodeos and hippy wineries. My husband went to a museum today, and I happened to notice that there were more than a dozen interracial couples - including us. Many places in the US and the world would give us a lot of sideways glances.

We can get authentic Italian, Mexican family restaurants. And not only do we have Japanese, Thai and Chinese, but we can also tell the cuisines apart. There are also Birkenstock wearing Republicans as well as leftwing "suits".

Also, recycling is so easy that I do not have to really work at it.

2. Is there anything strange about where you live?

My town is known for its weirdness. My dear friend Doodah! described it perfectly in this post. So I will send you there to read about our quirky town.

You can also check out our town's unique holiday.

3. What's one of your all-time favorite music albums, and why?

Sorry, can't limit to just one. It all depends on the chapter of my life.

As a little kid my first "album" - it was an eight track - was one of Sonny and Cher. My friend and I would be in the bedroom belting out songs that really were kind of too serious "or depressing for ten year olds to be singing. But heck, we didn't know. The songs "Gypsies, Tramps and Thieves" or "Black Lady" were passionate, which lent themselves to being belted out. We didn't care a if "My baby shot me down" or that” I sneaked back and caught her with my man/Laughing and kissing till they saw the gun in my hand." Years later I had just moved to Romania and was missing my friends and totally testing how understanding my housemate would be by blaring Cher and Barry Manilow's Greatest Hits. These were two different tapes, but wouldn't that be a trip to watch live in concert?

In college I discovered the 80's revamp of hippiness, and along with that the beauty and convictions of Joan Baez and Peter Paul and Mary. More than that my friend Monica turned me on to a fantastic Christian singer of that era Larry Norman. He combined my desire for social justice with wanting things to be centered on God. He was also the first real Christian rock and roll artist. So I practically wore out "Only Visiting This Planet" as I meditated on what God wanted to do through me to make the world more the way He has originally intended.

In addition to these, U2's Joshua Tree, Born in The USA and anything by Barry Manilow. Nuff said.

4. Did you have a passion for something as a kid that you still have now? (If not - what is one of your passions now?

Like many bloggers, I love reading. As a child I could hardly wait until it rained, I would bundle myself up and go out under the roof of our porch with a mug of hot lemonade (I was not all that into hot chocolate) any my most recent library book. Even when we went camping, I would bring something to read in the great out doors. Yes, I hiked and looked at the gorgeous surroundings, but I also spent time breathing fresh pine scented air and finding out what happened to "My Friend Flicka" and "The Black Stallion".

The other thing I loved was daydreaming, especially if we were on our three-day drive to Grandma and Grandpa’s. Now I am not talking about imagining what I would do if I got the day off of school. I created entire plot lines with me as the main character, well not really me but a character of me, if that makes any sense. Maybe it was a sign of my young age or of my limited imagination, but most of my plots were using settings and characters from my favorite TV show or movie. I created shows for M*A*S*H or Charlie's Angles that included a 12 year old me.

5. What do you like most about having a blog?

The exhibitionist part of me enjoys writing about my life and thoughts knowing that some people will read and comment on what I say. There is also part of me that enjoys having a journal where I don't just spew onto a page. I have to think and edit what I am going to say, as well as once in a wile have something worth saying.

Pick 3 (or more) people and give them the opportunity to be Famous in Our Own Lunchtimes.
Here it goes: Dot, Plane and Simple, and My Sweet

Joie de Vivre ~ A Hearty Joy of Living!

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

What Fall are You?

I love autumn, and thought this would be fun, but it is kind of depressing.
You Are Changing Leaves

Pretty, but soon dead.

I liked this one better.
You Are Teal Green

You are a one of a kind, original person. There's no one even close to being like you.
Expressive and creative, you have a knack for making the impossible possible.
While you are a bit offbeat, you don't scare people away with your quirks.
Your warm personality nicely counteracts and strange habits you may have.

But I took it again and got this answer
You Are Olive Green

You are the most real of all the green shades. You're always true to yourself.
For you, authenticity and honesty are very important... both in others and yourself.
You are grounded and secure. It takes a lot to shake you.
People see you as dependable, probably the most dependable person they know.

Joie de Vivre ~ A Hearty Joy of Living!

Monday, September 11, 2006

Remember and Make This Day Count

Today is a day of remembering. We remember those who died: people who thought it was a regular "let's go to work" day, people who knew they were heading into danger, people who have sadly died in bombings and battles everywhere.

We also need to thank and pray for those who still continue to serve, honest cops, firemen and protectors. These are men and women who every day come to work not knowing if they will lose a limb, their sanity, or their life. So please, when you see a hero, show them your appreciation.

My Sweet does a nice job of describing our experiences that day. He has never been a flag waver for either of his counties, but because of that day he searched for something to express his connection to America. Please check out his post.

Mourning for those who are gone is the necessary yet depressing part of this day. There is so much more. We are fortunate enough to be able to breathe and live. We can tell those close to us that we love them. We can stop and smell the roses, watch a sunset and grow as people. One of my students today asked me, "Why do we always wait until after someone has died to try to be nicer and enjoy life?" This is a time to examine our life and world. Are we living it to the fullest and are we making it the best that we can. I read a story to my class today about a man whose brother was a lawyer working near the Twin Towers. This brother had been an EMT at one point and borrowed a medical bag and went to help. They found the bag and brother six months later. As a result David Paine and his friend Jay Winuk have started a campaign to make September 11th a time to volunteer. This could be anything from taking your great aunt out to lunch or working for the Red Cross. Please go to and see how you might take up your part of the burden and joy of making this world more like the paradise God intended to be.

Joie de Vivre ~ A Hearty Joy of Living!

Thursday, September 07, 2006

My Town's Unique Holiday

I live in a small college town. Every summer students take off for summer internships or mom's washing machine. For everyone but landlords this leaves an unbelievably peaceful place to walk at night and hear armature musicians. The landlords, on the other hand, loose three months of rent every year. So, the powers that be met together and decided to offer only year-long leases that begin on September 1st. Thus on August 31st about 40 per cent of the population packs all their possessions into moving trucks and begins a new chapter.

One of the results of this is an unofficial "Dumpster Diving Day". There comes a moment in every packer's day where you stand up and shout, "That's it! I can not take it any more! All this crap that is not boxed up is going to the dumpster!" This is where the diving comes in. Those of us not moving have a veritable smorgasbord of perfectly good free junk. You will see us in the afternoon and evening picking through these leavings. And in my town not only are the movers kind enough to leave the good stuff stacked neatly outside the dumpster, but also many of these divers have NPR blaring from our car stereo (including those in SUV hybrids).

Most years I come across some real find - like the cherry wood bed frame from last year, or a new in-the-box waffle iron. This year, however, was a total dud. I think we missed the critical time. The time that is late enough for the frustrated packers to put stuff out and early enough that you get there before the other divers. Instead My Sweet and I found out that we have different levels of pride/humility when it comes to what to "dive" for. Let's just say that I still contend that if the pie filing and soup is in a can, there is nothing wrong with it. But for the sake of marital harmony I left them there for some other, probably single, diver to enjoy.

Joie de Vivre ~ A Hearty Joy of Living!

Monday, September 04, 2006

My Music Taste

Look at the nifty function my pal doodah! showed me how to do! Well, her plus a lot of help from My Sweet.

I saw this on another blog.
Give it a try. I think this says that I have no taste. Or at least low taste.

Your Taste in Music:

80's Rock: Medium Influence
80's Alternative: Low Influence
90's Alternative: Low Influence
90's Pop: Low Influence
Classic Rock: Low Influence

Joie de Vivre ~ A Hearty Joy of Living!

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Fire and Ice soup

Here is the soup like the one
I tried last Sunday at the Earl Grey Manor. It is really wonderful.

Fire-and-ice melon soup

6 c Cubed peeled cantaloupe; (about 1-1/2 pounds)
2 c Sliced seeded peeled cucumber
¼ c Honey
½ ts Grated lime rind
3 tb Fresh lime juice
1 ts Minced seeded jalapeno pepper
1 ts Ground cumin
½ ts Salt
1 ct Plain fat-free yogurt; (16-ounce)
1. Combine cantaloupe and cucumber in a blender or food processor; process until smooth. Pour half of cantaloupe mixture into a bowl. Add honey, rind, juice, and jalapeno to blender; process until smooth. Add cumin, salt, and yogurt; pulse until blended. Add to cantaloupe mixture in bowl. Stir well. 2. Cover and chill at least 1 hour or until thoroughly chilled. Yield: 6 servings The jalapeno pepper adds the "fire" to this chilled soup, though it can be omitted.

Joie de Vivre ~ A Hearty Joy of Living!