It’s been a week of challenges…I suppose the most obvious would be the challenge of the week before vacation, when one is a teacher in a middle school, and all of those little bundles of energy are starting to come just slightly unwound as a couple of weeks of freedom draw near.
Then there’s the challenge I threw down at a friend, as a way to get my health back on track: I challenged him to a friendly little weight-loss and cycling competition. We’re competing for most weight lost/most miles ridden over the next few months. It’s already gotten a little heated up, as we’re monitoring each other’s riding progress on our smartphones, and if one of us rides, sure enough, the other gets out soon to catch up/one up. At least it’s getting us up and out and moving!
Last challenge, also laid down by yours truly, was to my friend Sue, who wanted to start blogging. She was getting hung up on minor details, such as the name of the blog, whether or not to have separate personal and professional blogs, and so on. So I said “write a post this weekend…I will if you will!” Within the hour, she had chosen her blog name, written a post and published it…yikes! So here I am, blowing the dust off of this old blog that has lain dormant for far too long.
I’m going to write, at least once a week, maybe more. About what? Who knows. Whatever moves me, I guess. Who will read it? Maybe one friend, maybe more. Maybe it will just be me. That doesn’t really matter. What matters is that I write, that Sue writes, and that we push each other to keep it up. Challenge issued…and accepted.
Life has a habit of getting in the way of things we’d like to do…spending more time with friends, learning a new language or a new musical instrument, keeping up with our blogs. What was it John Lennon said? “Life is what happens while you’re busy making other plans.” Well, life has cruised by over the last seven months since my last post. Whew. Has life happened…
It’s been seven months since I moved into my little trailer on the hill, and it’s been a great seven months! I was just talking to friends last night about gratitude, and how we all have so much to be thankful for: a roof over our heads, a warm bed to sleep in, food, a job, great friends, family – too many things to list, really. I had kept a gratitude journal for a while, listing five things every day that I was grateful for, and I think I need to resume that habit. It struck me hard a couple of months back (one of many times) what a freakin’ awesome life I have. I’m not focusing on things like losing my home and having had to move, or struggling financially for a couple of years. There are too many good things to focus on to spend time wallowing in what could have, should have been.
As for those things that have gotten in the way of life? They really are, as Lennon said, life. I have been spending more time with friends, reconnecting with some, solidifying relationships with others. I haven’t learned a new language (other than my students’ teaching me the occasional Spanish cuss word!), but I have been playing a lot of music, alone and with a friend, and teaching another friend how to play guitar…and teaching myself to play two new instruments – piano and drums. My life is full up here in my little trailer on the hill. I really couldn’t ask for anything more🙂
By the way, thanks for the kick in the ass, Martha – next drink’s on me!
Over the next few months, I’ll be moving into my new home, a single-wide trailer on the Coleman’s property…or “the Coleman Compound” as we’re calling it. Emmy lives in her new studio there, and the crazy landlords are in the big house between us, then me…oh, and the chickens. Can’t forget the chickens. And the rooster. And Petunia, the peahen. What an awesome new life I have in front of me ☺
The view from my yard – looking south toward Mt. Ashland. I need to trim a few trees to give myself a better view.
Same direction…from the deck.
My bedroom has lots of light, which makes up for the ugly carpet and old-school wood paneling.
Added a little color with diversity flags.
Trees in bud – yes, it’s spring!
Looking from the deck to my yard…not really “my” yard, more like “our” yard. “Ours” meaning the compound’s ☺
What a beautiful day to be outside…I went birdwatching with a group of friends on this lovely, almost warm winter day. We saw dozens and dozens of wonderful birds: hawks, eagles, swans, cranes…what a day!
This was a rare shot of a very calm lake, and not a bird is in sight. Not the way the rest of the day unfolded…
Just one of the reasons I love this valley so…it really doesn’t matter which season we’re in, it’s always lovely. I took this photo just after the new year began, on a blustery hike around the lake. Make that MUDDY hike around the lake. We were lucky and managed to not get ourselves too bogged down – on foot – but there were a couple of four-wheelers who got stuck in the mud.
It really did feel like being in Scotland🙂
Or maybe I should say it’s empty – whatever…I just spent the evening with a group of middle-school kids, making a guest appearance as a songwriter. In real life, I teach many of these kids, but not anything remotely connected to music. Oh, I bill my 8th grade health class as “sex, drugs and rock and roll”, but we don’t get to do as much of the “rock and roll” as I’d like🙂
So anyway, this group of budding authors/poets/songwriters was participating in a young writers’ retreat up in the nearby mountains. They had written some poetry/lyrics, and my job was to help them put their words to music. Over the course of a few hours, I managed to help create five pretty solid songs, from rap to folk to a pseudo-B52’s piece. One song, the last one we worked on, was a sweet ballad, and ended up being a collaborative effort between a former student who was volunteering at the retreat, and myself. By the time we finished that one, we were both done. I forgot how exhausting creativity can be.
Exhausting or not, it was just what the doctor ordered. I’ve been trying to get back into writing music, something I’ve dabbled in over the years, and this gave me a kick in the butt in the right direction🙂
Forecast for today: 106 degrees…actual high temp? Over a hundred, but not sure how much over. But really, once it gets that hot, who cares about a degree or two? Let’s just say it was hot…
The good thing is, the smoke has cleared. We’d been getting a valley full of smoke from the fires in northern California. For close to a week, you could barely see any of the mountains surrounding us. They just disappeared from view.
But on the morning of the 4th, once the cloud cover lifted, there was this odd sight in the sky: blue. It was an awesome way to celebrate Independence Day, on a morning walk under cloudy skies yielding to blue.
The next few days were wonderful, temps in the 80’s, no crap in the air. And now- over 100 – but clear. As long as I can breathe, I guess I can handle the heat. And if not? There’s always a quick trip to the mountains…a river…a lake…the coast…that’s what I love about this place, not only is it beautiful in its own right, but we’re not more than an hour of two away from any sort of outdoor environment or activity a girl could wish for😉
Yes, anything! Including blogging, easily, with the help of the BlogIt web app for the iPhone. This entry is really just a testdrive of BlogIt..so far it looks really promising – I'll let you know how it goes!
Living in the city, you don’t expect to see certain animals just wandering, or flying, about. I thought I’d start a log of sorts of the ones that I’ve had the privilege of sighting lately…
Bats! In the evening, just after sundown and when the sky is still dusky, the bats are out, zooming about erratically as they cleanse the skies of skeeters🙂 One flew about four or five feet from my head, and I was proud of myself for not ducking it. Bats are pretty darned cool.
Woodpecker – flew across the road and landed on top of a telephone pole. At first I thought it might have been a flicker – we see lots of these around, especially at school under the builiding’s eaves. But when I got a good look at this one, with its black and white and red markings, and crest on its head, I knew his true identity.
Raccoons…damned raccoons! They make their occasional appearance on my porch, wreaking havoc at the kitty food dish. They’re sooooo cute, but also soooo huge and mean and scary! I toyed with the idea of shooting them with a pellet gun (to scare, not to kill), but all I could think of was that I would hit one in the eye, and I’d have a blind raccoon living out the rest of his days on my porch, feeding with the kitties…
My absolute favorite, and most frequent, sightings: barn owls. Yep, a mating pair and baby are currently inhabiting some trees at the end of my block. There has been a pair living there for years, not sure if these are the same or their offspring, but either way, it’s probably the coolest thing I’ve experienced as a city dweller. In the evenings, I’ll take Emma for a walk, and we’ll stop across the street from their trees and watch…tonight, I was treated to all three…first, the baby, perched atop the dead tree where they nest; then I heard the screech of a parent as he flew in to stand guard over the little one; parent number two then came in for a landing, sending parent number one scattering to another branch, after which the three just perched there and stared at me, probably sizing me up to decide if I was small enough to eat (not!)
More to follow, I’m sure…
Not that it’s a really big deal, no coffee table book or the Post or the Times or anything like that…but what I did get was one of my photos included on a travel mapping website called Schmap. It was this photo that I shot at the Palace of the Legion of Honor in San Francisco. I tried to include their widget in my sidebar, but I can’t figure out how to do it without a bunch of code manipulation…
Kind of validates all the photos I shoot🙂