Saturday, August 29, 2009

My Fan

I went to a training meeting after school on Thursday. At one point in the evening, we were instructed to regroup at our tables into teams that would mix up the disciplines of the subjects we were hired to teach as professional trainers. Then we were going to use the laptops there to do the next activity.

As we waited for everyone to get settled and turn on the computers, my partner to the left of me introduced herself and asked my name. She then said, "I know you from somewhere..." We exchanged current teaching assignments, past teaching assignments, possible training classes we'd attended together. She was sure she knew me. She inquired that perhaps I'd been here or there with her. No, it was pretty clear we'd never been enrolled in any professional development classes together, nor taught in the same building. I assured her that I had "one of those faces" and fairly often I met folks who thought they knew me, but it turned out I just looked like someone else they knew. No, she was still perplexed--she knew my voice--I was just so familiar.

Finally, I laughed, and said, "Well, I was on t.v. last fall. Maybe that's it!" And she stared at me and said, "The Millionaire show??" ....Yes...Well, it turns out that she had just watched me in re-runs last week. She didn't usually watch it, but as it came on, the announcer said it was a teacher from Las Vegas and so she sat and watched it to see if she knew her. "Yeah, you called your daughter for help, right?" ....Yes.... She went on to say I had been so sweet as a contestant and she really thought it was so cool that I'd won a bunch of money. And then she could relax and enjoy the rest of the meeting because she DID know me from SOMEWHERE and she finally knew where.

I live in Bizarro Land.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

It's All in the Timing

Today, the fourth day of the new school year, was long. It is the fourth day in a row of intense, focused teachering, and then at lunchtime I found my lunchbox (under my desk) was filled with ants who'd invaded the plastic wrap of my sandwiches. All I had left to eat was a plastic container of watermelon that they had been unable to penetrate. ARRRRGGHHH!!! So, I sprayed all over the floor under my desk with some stuff from the custodian, and I guess I'll have to put my lunch on top of my file cabinet from now on.

Immediately after school, I rushed down to a school office building where, as a new member of the Social Studies Professional Development team, I attended a two hour (paid) meeting to learn about my new part-time job.

Then, I stopped by the city library to find an appropriate video to show tomorrow to the fourth graders about the solar system so we can fill the final hour of Friday. This hour will be filled on all future Fridays with fun activities when our "Electives" are fully organized by our counselor. But, tomorrow...

So, I arrived home hungry about 7:20 P.M. (after leaving home at 7:40 A.M.) to find Cool Guy just parking his motorcycle. He'd been out for a ride. I pulled into the open garage, shut off my car, and rolled down the window. I looked at him and said, "So, where's my supper? I'm starving!"

He looked at me with a twinkle in his eye, and replied, "Right here, Sweetie." Then he opened up the right saddle bag lid, and lifted out a container of ribs, some baked beans and coleslaw!!! He'd just come back from picking it up.

Yes, my jaw dropped, I shouted a loud hurrah, and went in the house to get some napkins.

Wow. You couldn't have planned that one.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Manna Shoes

Yes, we've discussed my pathetic feet several times in this forum. They tend to dominate my thoughts now that school is starting again---tomorrow is the Big Day. I spent so much of last year in pain because of the combination of the flat feet, pronation, tendon strain, joint misalignment that can only be corrected by lying down all the time.

No, really, I have diligently worked on the PT exercises to strengthen my muscles to realign my hip and leg and foot so that I do not over-extend the whole thing with my weird foot problems. And I bought new shoes (that really do help) and I've had a summer off from the constant standing. I even got extra drugs to really knock back the inflammation. So, I'm starting out the year with non-sore feet and a non-sore leg. Crossing my fingers, doing my exercises.

Well, I decided I wanted to have some new shoes. White sandals, specifically. I felt hopeful that between all the stores they have here in the Shopping Mecca of the West I would be able to find a pair of white sandals that would also be supportive and reasonable to wear to school. I drove to my first choice to look, and I found a parking space in the shade, exactly across from the door! So far, so good. Then, I walked into Dillards, and as I entered the shoe department, it was like a little ray of light descended on the shoe display on the wall and there was a pair of white sandals, the brand I've found that keep my feet aligned the right way! And they had my size. And they were on sale!! So, therefore, I am referring to them as the "manna shoes" because they were there right where I needed them, right when I needed them and so they are a blessing.

Sunday, August 16, 2009


I gave a talk today in church. I was asked to use this talk as my source material. It was about the power of covenants and I learned a couple of things I want to share. First, when you look up covenants in the Bible dictionary, it points out that we don't enter into covenants with God as equals--it's not like we make some deal with God. He sets out the terms, we accept or not. But He has an excellent record for keeping His side of the agreement. We are guaranteed results for our puny efforts. Another thing I liked was reviewing the etymology of the word endowment. We refer to the temple covenants as the endowment. It is a perfect term because endowment refers to a gift that generates income. (Like a rich alumnus endows a college chair for a professor.) Well, when we keep our side of the agreement, we certainly do experience incoming blessings.

Three of the strengthening effects Elder Christofferson spoke of were being strengthened by 1)gifts and blessings, 2)with increased faith, and 3)with the "power of Godliness". We get blessings every day through keeping our promises we make at baptism to be like Jesus. Who isn't blessed by trying to be honest, or kind, or by trying to do good to others? And more literal blessings like the health effects when we abstain from harmful substances and behaviors? Also, I was impressed by the concept that I have experienced in my own life: when you exercise a little faith, you are blessed by God with power, and His spirit which expresses His love for us, and His pleasure that we are willing to obey Him. This enlarges our souls, gives us confidence to use faith again, thereby enabling us to feel His love and joy. It's a cycle.

Plus: it isn't anonymous. These important covenants are done personally, individually, by name. Think about it---we are referred to by name when we make these covenants at baptism and in the temple. It is personal--just us and our Father in Heaven agreeing to something, and He always keeps His promises. He never lies.

Finally, the last thing that was so powerful to me is that the number one covenant that God has made with us is that, if we believe in His Son, Jesus Christ, and try to live His teachings, we will have eternal life. He sends us the Holy Ghost to be with us always to give us strength to do hard things, power to overcome temptation, knowledge of how to speak up for Him, and the ability to feel God's love.

I learned a lot preparing for this talk. I'm sure it is all information I've heard before, but something about trying to distill another's words into a form that one can explain to others is always so educational. I hope you learn something, too, reading this.

Thursday, August 06, 2009


Well, in two weeks it's back to school for the teachers. I've definitely gotten my summer's worth this year! I've been on five different trips away from home--whew. And some of them were strictly for fun, too. In the past I've felt like summer was when I got my "real life" back: I didn't have to get up and leave home and go to a job every day. I could stay in my own home, sew, clean, cook, take care of my kids, do service for others--all the things I did for the 18 years before I became an employee.

This year, something changed, however. Maybe it is because I've been an employee for almost as long as I was a mom at home; this will be my 15th year as a teacher. Maybe it's because I don't have kids at home--this year is the first time someone didn't come and live with us for any part of the summer. (sigh...) But this year I really felt like I was just "on vacation". That perhaps my "real life" is the life of a school teacher, and I was having a break.

Of course, it could also be that because I was enrolled in a college class all of June, and spent any time not reading, writing and studying for that, in preparation for our family reunion, that I didn't actually experience any time "off." Then in July, I traveled here and there and everywhere... So I've been vacationing during this Summer Vacation.

This week and next, I have no official duties for work, so I have a list. I've checked off parts of it too: go exercise every day; rotate the tires; move all the furniture and scrub the tile floors; organize the pictures and artifacts I brought home from the reunion. I'll go into my school next week for a day or two because I need to unpack my stuff in my new room (natural lighting!!!). But, even that will be okay, because I won't be on the clock yet. I'll still be ON VACATION.

Sunday, August 02, 2009

A Daughter of Neptune

As you can read on the title page of my blog, I have an affinity for California. I've lived in two different counties there, San Diego and Ventura, and both of them have very moderate weather. By "moderate" I mean fabulous, consistently fabulous. It is neither hot nor cold most of the year. It is simply nice. Well, I spent last week in Ventura county, camping at the beach, enjoying the company of those of our children and grandchildren who could get there, too. And, once again, I found myself wondering why I don't live there still. There are several reasons, none of which I will go into here. I'm not sorry we moved each time we did; there were compelling reasons. Now, California is in terrible condition, governmentally and fiscally, and despite a drop in home prices, has outrageous real estate costs. And yet, it remains my number one favorite place to live. So, someday I will return there. My well-worn line to CoolGuy is..."I'd live in a tipi on the beach, if I had an internet hookup." We did have a tipi, a kid-sized one we recently purchased, and we did have internet when CoolGuy turned on his computer, and it was good.

The ocean is what draws me back there. The campground is on the east side of the Pacific Coast Highway. There is a trail under the highway for access the beach. The campsites are all shaded with large trees, there are real toilets and hot showers (you turn on the timed water heater with coins), we had a fire ring so we could have a campfire each night. This isn't roughing it. Plus, we'd rented a motorhome for the week, and it allowed me to cook on a gas range and use a refrigerator, and in the middle of the night, I could use the bathroom without needing shoes and a flashlight. It was awesome. The ocean is very rough there, so we didn't swim, but the kids played in the sand building towering structures and we walked along the shore, and enjoyed the sights and sounds. You could hear the surf all day, and the seagulls calling. (At the campground an enormous flock of wild parrots--orignially from escaped pets--would descend on us each morning and scream and holler as they ate the berries from the many varieties of trees. They were a little annoying.) But seagulls are a great sound. Along that shoreline we had always seen plenty of dolphins and we were not disappointed on this trip. Everyday there were two or three pods of at least six swimming just offshore, fishing and frolicking. I love to watch pelicans as they skim just above the surface of the water, adjusting their height as the waves surge up and down beneath their outstretched wings. Occasionally you get to see one as it spirals down from a higher flight and dives with precision straight into the water to fill up its bill with fish. The beach is the only place I go without anything to read. I just love to watch the ocean and the wildlife that it supports.

I took the boogie board one afternoon and drove north to a more swimable beach. Everyone else was satisfied to walk down the trail and build sand castles and nap. But I'd had a little taste of the surf the day before and was craving the full immersion experience. Yes, the ocean water off southern California is cold, has lots of seaweed and other random plants and animals. Yes, sharks live there. But I love the chilly, salty, living reality of it. I waded in gradually, letting my body get accustomed to the coolness. I had the board strapped to my wrist, and finally got up my nerve to lay on it and paddle out to the breakers. I got drenched, pounded, soaked and blinded by the first wave. The next I rode all the way in, and then I just paddled out and floated on them, letting it roll under me and leave me there, while I laid on the board and felt at home. I love the ocean. I love swimming in the ocean. I could have stayed there all day. Except that I've become such a weakling this winter that soon my arms were quivering with the effort it takes to hang onto the boogie board and keep upright and on top of the waves. I realized that I need to really get serious about getting back in shape if for no other reason than the ocean requires you to be tough. Plus, if I ever want to go to Surf Diva school, I can't be a wimp.

Some day, I'll be back to stay. I'll go to the ocean everyday. I'll surf, I'll swim, I'll just sit on the seawall and watch it. But, I'll be there. I'll be the one with the long gray braid, wearing sandals, and sunglasses, with the boogie board, looking at the waves and smiling.