Sunday, September 27, 2015

Happy Blogoversary to Me!

 Happy Blogoversary!

Today, for the first time ever, I'm actually posting on my actual blogoversary! I usually miss the date. For seven years this blogspot has been my blank slate to share pictures and thoughts with whoever is remotely interested in catching a glimpse of slices of my life. It's been satisfying to have a wee bit of a voice, if only for my own satisfaction of knowing, "There! I said it!"

Who would have thought that those of us who grew up in the modern age of Smith Corona electric typewriters, SWAK envelopes, and 10 cent stamps, would now sit with computers on our laps, clicking away until we hit the magic "Publish" button. Here's to another year of thoughts to virtual paper!

Saturday, September 26, 2015

The Glorious Weekend!

Good morning! 
It's the weekend -- the glorious weekend -- and I have no plans so can do whatever I want! Isn't that grand? The sun is shining, I have classical music playing (at the moment it's Pachelbel's Canon), already spilled my guts in my journal, and am dreaming of ways to bring fall into my home. But first, I think I should love up this humble abode and do some fall cleaning.

Before I slip away from the comfort of the couch to do that, I wanted to share some thoughts swirling in my mind on my way home from work yesterday. I don't get on a soap box very often, but here is the experience that led up to my thoughts....

As you know, I'm a speech therapist in the public schools, and yesterday I was working with three third grade students. I try to make therapy a happy place. I smile and welcome my students, and try to present fun activities, but that doesn't mean I'm a push-over. Lately I've had to post classroom rules and review them at the beginning of my sessions with some of my more unwieldy groups, something that wasn't particularly necessary in the past, because students knew to come into a classroom ready to learn. Anyway, this group of students came in -- two girls, one boy. The boy literally laid across the surface of the table -- just sprawled out there. One of the girls began combing through my box of materials I had on the end of the table, which I planned to present one by one. I calmly asked the boy to please sit in a chair. He didn't move. I gently took the box away from the girl, and said, "We'll get to those."  I asked the boy to sit again. He smirked, motionless, while one girl picked up the other girl's diary she had brought with her and they began fighting over that. My welcoming attitude disappeared. I had to do the stern-teacher face and command-center voice, but I finally got the boy to sit in a chair and the girls to settle down. All of this resulted in a review and discussion of the rules -- the first of which is Respect One Another.

On the way home I realized that this is what is sorely lacking in our society today:  RESPECT. Some teachers feel under appreciated and disrespected by those parents who have no problem running down a teacher in front of their children who they think "wasn't fair" on an assignment. We see disrepsect when a police officer pulls someone over and the person runs, talks back, or even pulls a weapon on them. People mock the President and other government leaders. I may not agree with everything our leaders say and do, but I respect the election process and therefore will show respect and honor to my country by not running down our President and other leaders. It's not just disrespect for "authority," though I think that's becoming a big problem in our country. As I was mulling this over on my commute, another perfect example presented itself:  two lanes of traffic were merging. For the most part, the straight lane was allowing those of us on the right to enter into the line, alternating every other car -- the polite driver way. But of course someone had to kick up gravel, passing us all on the right so he could merge further up from the shoulder instead of the road. He couldn't be respectful and wait his turn. We are on the verge of becoming a nation of selfish, rude, brash individuals. So I'm on a mission -- how to gently help my students understand the value of respect in our society, with the things we say and do, implementing The Golden Rule: Do onto others as you would have them do unto you. Fortunately, for the most part, I believe the majority of people are kind to one another. We wouldn't be as productive as we are as a society if we didn't cooperate with one another. But through the years, I have picked up on these subtle differences in attitudes. We need to continue setting the example and teaching children the value of kindness and respect for others.

Now I sense a sink full of suds is calling me and a fireplace mantle is waiting to be adorned with fall colors. Enjoy your weekend!

Saturday, September 19, 2015

For the Love of Walking

Last fall, about this time, a strained Achilles tendon brought me tumbling down. It bordered on incapacitating on the severely painful "bad days." Physical therapy, twice daily icing, special shoe insoles, and anti-inflammatory medicine allowed me to limp through my days. The doctor wanted me to stay off my feet as much as possible, which was nearly impossible since I work, but I tried. It took months for it to improve to the point where I could resume a regular walking program. For the rest of my life I plan to do the stretching exercises and be cautious about over-doing it. I hope to never go through that again!

Now that I'm back in a daily walking routine, I am so grateful for this simple pleasure! Walking out the front door, admiring neighborhood gardens, sometimes with earbuds plugged into my iTunes, sometimes just enjoying the silence of nature, my mind is free to wander. Some days I count my blessings. Some days I mull over things that are bothering me, turning over possible solutions. Some days my mind is pretty blank and I don't even know what I'm thinking about! The birds and squirrels provide entertainment, flitting from tree to tree, and I watch the interplay of sun and lacy tree branch shadows.

Some weekend mornings I leave early and head for Carmel. There I can walk the path above the beach, listening to the rhythm of the waves, greeting other walkers and joggers, inhaling that familiar smell of salty ocean water. This is where I was a couple weeks ago when I took these pictures and where I'll be going tomorrow morning.

There was even an artist out, paintbrush in hand, capturing the beauty of the scene in the morning light.
I feel so fortunate to live in such a magical place!

"Smell the sea, and feel the sky,
Let your soul and spirit fly."
~ Van Morrison

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Encyclopedia of Moi: I

Islands - Hawaii, Caribbean, British Isles, Catalina, Key West -- I've visited and fallen in love with them all!

Ice Cream - I love ice cream, but unless I'm having company or am on vacation, limit myself to Skinny Cow desserts.

Once in a great while I'll splurge on a Baskin-Robbins dark fudge chocolate cone or, if I'm out with my daughters, a Ghirradelli Hot Fudge Sundae!

iPhone - Love my iphone! Isn't it wonderful to have a computer at the tip of your fingertips at all times? Looking up directions, googling price checks at other stores when making a major purchase, checking out what's playing at the theater, messaging with friends and family, never missing an important call, always having a camera with me -- I appreciate this modern convenience! Some of my favorite apps: Google,  Around Me, Weather, Google Maps, MyFitnessPal, FitBit, Flashlight, CNN, Words with Friends, and iTunes.

Italy - There's so much history and beauty in Italy! Where does one begin? Here are a few of my favorite places we visited when we were there....

We passed fields of sunflowers and rolling hills.

The Sistine Chapel in the Vatican. This was on my bucket list to see ever since I took Art History in college. It lived up to its expectations!

We took a gondola through the canals of Venice, then disembarked and walked through twisting walkways, stopping for a tour of St. Mark's Basilica.

 The Colosseum was enormous and fascinating.

This beautiful building in Rome is nicknamed
The Wedding Cake!  Very fitting.

Michaelangelo's Statue of David in the city of Florence's Galleria dell'Accademia.

What's on your list of "I" letter items?

Monday, September 7, 2015

Island Vacation - Key West II

Labor Day weekend is coming to a close and it was wonderful having three days to be as productive or as lazy as I wanted to be! As we say goodbye to summer, I wanted to relish those summer memories of Key West with this part 2 post!

One day we took the shuttle to town and took a walk through homes, modest and elaborate, including the Patterson-Baldwin House -- also known as "The Oldest Schoolhouse."
We also passed many chickens and roosters - originally brought 200 years ago by the pioneers as a source of meat and eggs, chickens are now protected in Key West and allowed to wander wherever they wish. (This has caused a lot of debate by the locals, both for health and noise reasons).
 Soon we came to a gated area and arrived at our destination:
 Truman's Little White House!
(Click on the link -- you'll want to learn more about it!)

The Little White House was interesting. It is a museum, as well as a retreat and place for government business to be conducted. Presidents who have visited include Presidents Taft, Eisenhower, Kennedy, Carter, and Clinton.

One of the things that surprised me was how modest the furnishings were -- sort of a time warp from the 1950's, the type of furniture your parents might have had in a lake house. Somehow that made it feel cozier, more down to earth and relaxed. You could envision the First Lady getting ready for her day in the bedroom, then moseying into the adjoining sun room porch for a breakfast tray. The guide had an impressive array of stories to share! We were not allowed to take photos inside, but they had a lovely gift shop and education room:

Another day we went to Mallory Square so we could shop and take pictures....
Then we boarded a glass bottom boat for a trip out to the reef -- the only living coral reef in the continental United States, the third largest in the world. Beautiful fish, but if I had to do over, I would have spent more time out on the deck as others told us fish jumped out of the water and you could actually see them better than through the blurry, greenish glass on the bottom of the boat.
 Key West and Hard Rock Cafe!
 So ended the colors, vibrancy, and sandals-only days of Key West!
Happy End of the Summer!