Category Archives: California

Thursday Doors: Mural

I started a new full-time job last week. I’ve been too busy with it to blog about it in detail–too busy to blog at all, in fact. But I wanted to get started again with this week’s Thursday Doors.

Behind the school where I work, there is an astroturf “lawn” and a basketball court. There are also some picnic tables for the students to eat lunch. And a door.

sciencemuraldoor

Students painted this mural, with names of famous cultural figures, next to the back door last year. I like how they included two genders and several nationalities. I spend a lot of time looking at this mural when I’m supervising student lunch.

I have showed a school, with murals, in Thursday Doors before. That school was a more typical California public school, with a lot of separate buildings.

treepainting

My new school is different. It is located in a former office building in San Jose. Architecturally it is unusual for a school too, with a lot of windows but not much in the way of athletic facilities. These students are more interested in science than sports anyway.

sciencemuraltable

Thursday Doors is a weekly feature allowing door lovers to come together to admire and share their favorite door photos from around the world. Feel free to join in on the fun by creating your own Thursday Doors post and then sharing it, between Thursday morning and Saturday noon (North American Eastern Time), on the linky list at Norm 2.0’s blog

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Mundane Monday: Reflection

It’s the last Monday of 2018! And it’s not so Mundane, since it’s New Year’s Eve. It’s approaching midnight on the East Coast, the ball is dropping. Here I have 3 more hours. I may or may not make it until then. I’m pretty tired and my eyes are feeling dry and sandy.

This week’s theme for the Mundane Monday Challenge is appropriate for this time of year: Reflection. I am starting a new full-time job in January. I will blog more about the exciting changes this will bring to my New Year when I have the mental energy to do it justice. But right now I am reflecting on how my life is going to change in mundane, daily ways after I start working full-time again.

Reflection
Power Lines, Smoky Sky

I took this picture one day in early November of this year. It was also during the weeks of terrible air quality in the SF Bay Area during the Camp Fire. I was driving home from one of the schools where I worked, and I stopped to find a geocache in a park near the water, as I did many days for my daily geocaching streak. I have been finding at least one geocache a day, every day, since December 31, 2015. Some of these cache stops in parks on the way home from school have been beautiful. This one was too, in a way. But it was also dystopian and strange. I hope it isn’t the new normal for California.

The air is much better now, but I still had a rough day today. Just before Christmas, my husband and I decided to do a 12-days-of-Christmas geocaching challenge and today was day 10. This means we had to find 10 caches today for this challenge. And, rather than being fun, it was a pain in the neck. I’m not going to stop the challenge now that I’m so close to completing it, but I am ending my streak in two weeks, and days like today have convinced me that it’s definitely time for it to end. No regrets!

I am also not making any New Year’s resolutions, other than to survive the transition back to full-time work. Earlier in the year I took Gretchen Rubin’s Four Tendencies Quiz and I found out that I’m a Rebel. Rebels resist expectations, inner and outer alike. (Rebels are also the smallest category, apparently, so I’m feeling overlooked and in the minority.) With respect to resolutions, Rubin has this to say about Rebels:

Rebels generally don’t bind themselves in advance, so a New Year’s resolution might not appeal to them. They want to do what they want, in their own way, in their own time — not because they promised themselves they’d do it.

And I have to say, this sounds a lot like me. If I make a resolution, I may be less likely to do whatever it is, not more. And then she goes on:

On the other hand, some Rebels love the challenge of a New Year’s resolution: “My family thinks I can’t give up sugar for a year? Well, watch me!” or “Starting January 1, I’m going to work on my novel, and I’m going to finish by December 31st.”

BINGO, again. Why did I start this geocaching streak in the first place? I started it because I thought my husband, a serious cacher who was once ranked #10 in Massachusetts, thought I couldn’t do it. But now I’ve been doing it even longer than he has. And I will probably even miss it a little bit when it’s over.

I am celebrating the end of the streak in 2 weeks with a geocaching event at a donut shop. A couple of people have already written to congratulate me, and one mentioned that his streak had become a crushing burden by its end. I’d rather quit while I’m ahead: I’ll make an intentional decision to end the streak on my own terms, surrounded by friendly faces and donuts.

Mundane Monday: Making a Move

Today’s Mundane Monday blogging prompt is “Making a Move.” On Dr KO’s blog, the move involves a cat.

I tried the new Word Press editor last night on my blog. Change is inevitable: even if it ain’t broke, people still try to fix it. So I was planning to “make a move” to the new editor. Use blocks! Paragraphs! Pictures! Galleries! It’ll be so easy, and my blogging efficiency and posting frequency will skyrocket!

Epic fail.

The problem for me centered on the picture galleries and the captions. They don’t work on iphones or ipads (at least). If you put your pictures into a gallery on the phone while you are waiting for a long intermission to finish, when you get back to the computer to finish up the post, the computer doesn’t recognize the pictures as a gallery at all and turns those gallery blocks into lists.  In list mode, rather than being under the pictures, the captions were to one side. And there were weird, annoying bullet points next to the text. The placement of the pictures wasn’t right either.

So I re-made all the galleries in the new editor and published the post. It looked fine to me. Then I got an email from a friend. On his ipad, my blog looked like this, with the pictures STILL messed up.

BlogFail
New editor gallery block fail

So I went back to the classic editor. The blog looks fine now.  I hope. I’m not making that move yet. But please read the blog–I worked hard on it! Thanks to these editorial snafus, I didn’t get it published until very late, when most people east of me had already gone to bed.

When I first read this prompt, “making a move,” I actually thought of something different, however: a physical move. I am working on my holiday letter, which always puts me in a retrospective mood. I scroll back through most of the current year’s pictures, and sometimes those from previous years too. Three years ago, we got ready to make one of the biggest moves of our lives.

This is our realtor’s gift of flowers and a balloon, congratulating us on our new house (set in front of the door of the old house):

Congratulations

And our cars, on a truck ready to move across the country:

carsonatruck

And our empty house:

emptyhouse

This post about the move, “Gandalf’s Knock,” is still, more than three years later, my most-viewed post.

Am I glad we moved? Yes. But more on that another time . . .

 

 

We are the World Blogfest: The Volleyball Team from Paradise

“Camp Fire” is a strange name for such a terrible thing. I grew up thinking of campfires as cozy opportunities to gather around and roast marshmallows. But that is the name for the most devastating wildfire in CA history, destroying the town of Paradise, killing 88 people, and causing $7 billion worth of damage. Thanksgiving rains brought relief from smoky skies and a reason to be truly thankful as they helped the fire to reach 100% containment.

There are many stories from the Camp Fire, which was only about 180 miles from my home. Some scary, some sad, a few happy. I chose this particular story for the “We are the world” blogfest: “OUTPOURING OF LOVE: Forest Lake Christian community lends helping hand to Paradise Adventist Academy during time of need”  by Walter Ford, from The Union, Nov 12, 2018.

This was a semi-final girls’ volleyball game in the CIF NorCal Division VI. The Cougars from Paradise, the town devastated by the fire, still showed up to play the Lady Falcons. They didn’t even have uniforms. But their opponents welcomed them with jerseys, shorts, knee pads, and socks, donated food and clothing, cash, and gift cards collected from the community. It struck me that these young people know better than adults how to treat others who may be their adversaries in one area of life.

These communities will be dealing with the fire’s aftermath for months and years to come. Please consider donating to fire relief efforts.

~~~About #WATWB~~~

The We Are the World Blogfest (#WATWB) seeks to spread positive news on social media. Cohosts for this month are: Eric Lahti Inderpreet UppalShilpa GargPeter NenaDamyanti Biswas. Please visit their blogs and say “hi.”

~~~GUIDELINES~~~

1. Keep your post to below 500 words, as much as possible.

2. Link to a human news story on your blog on the last Friday of each month.

3. Place the WE ARE THE WORLD Badge on your sidebar, and help us spread the word on social media. Tweets, Facebook shares, G+ shares using the #WATWB hashtag through the month most welcome. The more the merrier!

4. We’ll read and comment on each others’ posts, get to know each other better, and hopefully, make or renew some friendships with everyone who signs on as participants in the coming months.

5. To signup, click here to add your link.

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Mundane Monday: Kitchen Close-ups

Good morning and Happy Monday! I don’t teach on Mondays so I tend to have a better relationship with the day than many people do. I had a concert last night, I got enough sleep, and like most Mondays, I usually have a little time to catch up on blogging.

And then the email appears. If I have teaching later in the week, I have to send my teacher prep email. I schedule it with Boomerang to show up in the teachers’ mailboxes on Monday morning, and I bcc my personal account to make sure it arrives. I also send a follow-up email to the classes I taught last Friday. And I schedule that for Monday Morning too because who wants work email on the weekend? Ugh!

Along with those emails, I got my weekly Mundane Monday email from Dr Katherine. For today’s challenge, she posted a photo of a blue butter dish from her kitchen. I wouldn’t have recognized it as a butter dish without the label. What I do recognize is the beauty of glass. As a child I used to collect beach glass in different colors. And one of my favorite wedding photos has my husband’s and my faces framed by a glass.

WeddingGlass

I think my favorite part of the kitchen is also something mineral, as opposed to animal or vegetable. Like glass, there is also a quality about stone, (or even fake stone) that makes me think of timeless and universal beauty. The food that is prepared in the kitchen is ephemeral, but there are other parts of the kitchen that are more permanent. I think that “stone hearth” and “brick oven” and “granite counter tops” are part of our kitchen vocabulary for a reason.

Back in Belmont MA we had a nice kitchen that we had had remodeled from its former 1980s decor. In particular I liked the geometric backsplash pattern we chose, which just came from Home Depot, but it had a historical Italian feel to it. I sometimes used it as a backdrop to photograph other things. Like this jar of Swedish Fish I won for guessing there were exactly 250 of them:

SwedishFish

And on the candy theme, since it’s almost Halloween, several years ago my son got a Rock Candy-making kit for Christmas. The candy grew nicely there on the kitchen counter:

And in one of my more successful home improvement projects, I replaced and installed a kitchen faucet myself.

Faucet

My kitchen in California is much darker and I don’t like it as well for that reason. But that backsplash too makes for some good pictures, if nothing else.

BottlesFeatured

This is our current faucet (that I did not install). And, in CA we have persimmons from a tree in the backyard!

Our new kitchen faucet, with persimmons on the counter behind

This time of year there are always some on the counter, ripening, getting ready for me to make persimmon cookies.

Fuyu persimmons on the counter

The Mundane Monday photo challenge seeks to find beauty in the mundane. It was started by TraBlogger and is continued by Dr. Katherine Ottaway. Stop by and say hello, and submit a photo!

 

Mundane Tuesday: Coral

These posts are getting less and less mundane, but I like the chance to find the theme in my photos and showcase that. Dr. Katherine showed a picture of some beautiful coral mushrooms from the Olympic national forest.

My coral is from the Monterey Bay Aquarium. My daughter had a friend visiting last summer and we took her there for sightseeing.

MontereyCoralClownfish

We found both Nemo and Dory.

MontereyCoralDory

The last image is not coral per se, but is from an art exhibit about plastic that was at the aquarium at the time.

PlasticArt
“Message in a Bottle” by Alison McDonald

Artist Alison McDonald reuses and reforms everyday materials in her sculptures. She writes, “this transformation from refuse to artwork will I hope echo the transformation in our attitude towards recyclable products and encourage more responsible use of our resources.”  

Our coral reefs need this transformation in attitude, and are counting on us to bring it about.

Little Women Legacy: All Smiles from Silicon Valley with KL Allendoerfer, Featured Author

This week I am featured on Pink Umbrella Books’ blog! This appearance is part of a blog tour featuring contributing authors to “Alcott’s Imaginary Heroes,” an anthology for the 150th Anniversary of Little Women.

In this blog post series, we’ll feature contributing authors from our new anthology, Alcott’s Imaginary Heroes: The Little Women Legacy. Today we’ll catch up with KL Allendoerfer, California-based writer, science educator, and musician.

Allendoerfer

Contributor KL Allendoerfer reads Little Women with “Pie,” the ubiquitous green droid in front of Silicon Valley’s Googleplex.


What is your favorite scene from Little Women?

It would be easy to say my favorite scene is the one I wrote about in my essay, in which Beth thanks Mr. Lawrence for the use of his piano and they become friends. I do love that scene, but there are so many others as well. I think the one that most got under my skin, and that I remembered many years later, was Jo’s disaster of a dinner party when Marmee decides to let the girls run things themselves. It shows Louisa has a wonderful sense of…

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Mundane Monday: Line up (in SoCal)

Things don’t really line up in Nature. Usually. They did this week in Dr KO’s Mundane Monday Challenge #175: Line Up, an adorable line of geese.

My photos are all from a trip we made to the Santa Barbara area in 2016 for Thanksgiving. At the time we visited a few schools in Southern CA for our daughter (now a sophomore at Willamette University in Salem OR).

TreeMountainLineUp
Line of trees silhouetted against the mountain

I have to say, I really don’t know why she didn’t want to go to school down here. I mean look at it!

PalmLineUp
Line of Palms at Mandalay Beach, Oxnard

But she preferred Oregon and the Pacific Northwest. She’s happy at Willamette and it’s a good school, so I’m not going to second guess her.

0f75a56b-7748-4714-95fa-0d106f0d6a94
Signal

While we were there we also found an unusual geocache. Up in the hills of Santa Barbara, in the Riviera Neighborhood, there is something called the Frog Shrine. Back in 1989 a plastic frog was left on a wall and people have been adding frogs to it ever since. The mascot of geocaching is named Signal the Frog, so naturally this was a good place to hide a geocache. It took a lot of frogs to find the prince . . . er . . . geocache, but I finally did. At least I didn’t have to kiss them!

FrogLineUp
Line of Frogs at the Frog Shrine in Santa Barbara

Mundane Tuesday: Water Color

Dr. Katherine at Mundane Monday chose a gorgeous theme this week: water colors. She was out on a lake without internet for 9 days when she took hers. I took this from the deck of a cruise ship on the Baltic Sea. The location information says “Leningrad, Finskiy Zaliv” (Gulf of Finland, near St. Petersburg).

BalticSeaCruisePink
Pink, Leningrad, Finskiy Zaliv

All the colors one can see in water have some component of reflection, some more than others.

GreenDuisburg
Green, Duisberg, Germany

Or, it’s a “reflection” of the changing depth of the water:

LayersBavaria
Blue-Green-Brown Gradient, Unterfoehrung, Bavaria, Germany

This water reflects the gray clouds:

WhiteGrayBavaria
White and Gray: Staffelsee, Bavaria, Germany

Or, sometimes your mind plays tricks on your eyes. I was sure this water was deep pure blue on the clear, cool winter morning in Pacifica when I took the picture before I went to teach in the school around the corner. But when I went back and found the picture for posting to the blog, I realized that it had been the sky I remembered most. The water was white and a bit wild.

BlueWhitePacifica
White and sky-blue, Pacifica, California

And these last two make an interesting pair. Lakes reflect the shadows of trees, and the sky makes all the difference.

Workers Wages for #WATWB

IMG_3344Silicon Valley was once called The Valley of Heart’s Delight, because of all the agriculture and fruit trees that used to grow here. The housing development where I live was a pumpkin patch until the 1980s, and I still have a persimmon tree in my backyard. Nowadays when people think of this area, they mostly think of computers and cutting-edge technology: Google, Facebook, Apple, Genentech, 23andMe, and many others. The history of both industries has a dark side: the conditions of the workers that make all this bounty possible.

According to Silicon Valley Rising, an advocacy coalition of labor, faith leaders, community-based organizations and workers, high-tech companies contract out most of their service jobs to workers who are poorly paid and don’t receive basic benefits. Latinx and Black people make up the majority of these janitors, food service workers, maintenance workers, security guards, and shuttle bus drivers who help build and sustain the tech economy. Many of these families have lived here for generations, long before the arrival of the tech riches that have priced them out.

This article, “Silicon Valley Security Guards Approve Contract to Raise Wages,” by Wendy Lee in the San Francisco Chronicle, highlights some recent results of Silicon Valley Rising’s efforts to change this narrative.

Security officer Elizabeth Valdivia’s job is to protect the employees and property of offices in the Bay Area, including from encroaching homeless people.

The irony is that Valdivia is homeless herself, living in her Mercury Tracer because she couldn’t afford a place to live.

Now, after more than five years of negotiations and activism, thousands of security officers at Silicon Valley tech companies will get pay increases, higher healthcare contributions and paid holidays after ratifying this, their first ever union contract, through Service Employees International Union/United Service Workers West. This was one of the largest private sector organizing efforts in California history.

I chose this article for #WATWB because it represents a vision worth fighting for, both in Silicon Valley and world-wide: an economic model that rebuilds the middle class and doesn’t leave hard-working people behind.

~~~About #WATWB~~~

The We Are the World Blogfest (#WATWB) seeks to spread positive news on social media. Co-hosts for this month are: Simon FalkAndrea MichaelsShilpa GargSylvia Stein, and Belinda Witzenhausen  Please stop by and say hello!

~~~GUIDELINES~~~

1. Keep your post to below 500 words, as much as possible.

2. Link to a human news story on your blog on the last Friday of each month.

3. Place the WE ARE THE WORLD Badge on your sidebar, and help us spread the word on social media. Tweets, Facebook shares, G+ shares using the #WATWB hashtag through the month most welcome. The more the merrier!

4. We’ll read and comment on each others’ posts, get to know each other better, and hopefully, make or renew some friendships with everyone who signs on as participants in the coming months.

5. To signup, click here to add your link.

We are the World Logo