Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Yesterday, Kate and I drove around Benecia, looking at apartments.After our excursion, we went back to her house and parked ourselves under a shady tree in her backyard.  We had drinks, with Lola resting at our feet. So peaceful.  

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Had breakfast at Gracie's, out on the patio.  Had a great time visiting with my friend, Jane, and her family at their place in the Sunset district of  San Francisco last night. Once again, I got goosebumps as i drove over the Golden Gate Bridge. Jane's niece graduated from high school, and her sister turned 60.  It was a wonderful celebration, but it felt like we only spent five minutes with each other, even though i stayed for three hours.

On the way, I stopped at a deli near 17th Avenue, a few blocks from Jane's sister's.  There was a man who appeared to be dead on the sidewalk, but i didn't have a chance to help, because the proprietor came out and yelled at me, saying that emergency services had been called. Picked up some sunflowers and sparkling wine, and averted my eyes on my way out.

Ann and Doug had a slew of people over to their beautiful house for a Memorial Day celebration.  It was a blast.  They provided the meat, and everyone brought side dishes and dessert.  Of course, as always, the meat was spectacular. Doug used to be a butcher, and he was grilling ribs, plump burgers stuffed with bleu cheese, brats, and tri-trip.  

Richard's creme brulee was a huge hit.  

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Kate texted me early yesterday morning, and we met for breakfast at Nathan's, followed by a brief, but invigorating walk at Mare Island, by the Commandants' houses.  

Today, Chris and I drove around Mare Island. The preserve was closed, so we took Lucky to Hahn's Park and walked in the sun.  

I love watching parents bring their children to the library.  This library is wonderful, and very active.  Something is always going on in the children's section.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Yesterday, I walked with Richard and his dogs at Hahn's Park. It was a gorgeous day. But i am so out of shape. I am not going to get discouraged. What i am going to do is to walk every day, and eventually, it won't hurt.  Richard walked slowly, for him, and i could still barely keep up my end of the conversation.  That will change. 

Nancy said yesterday that it is important to have a goal.  My goal is to be able to walk with Richard and Gregory and be able to keep up my end of the conversation.

Last year was my year to get out of Vero, open my mind, and see new places.  This year is my year to become physically fit and healthy.  There is a lot to live for.

This morning, Richard took me to Crockett, a town tucked into the hills and home of the CH Sugar Plant. After the walk, we drove into Port Costa, a little town that time seemed to forget.  We stopped at the Burlington Hotel, because we smelled coffee and juice. The place wasn't open to the public, but the owners offered to make us some french roast.  

Had breakfast at Nathan's, where Daniel is a media star, after Bernie Sanders' visit last week.  He had on blue today, down to his artfully done toe nails. 

The fifth grade girl I am tutoring introduced me to a really good book that we are reading together - The Julian Chapter.  I forgot how much i love to read and to be read to.  

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Happy birthday to me. I tutored four kids in Novato yesterday.  Stopped at Sunshine, the coffee drive-thru on Wilson, going toward 37.  Fueled up with a latte and green monster smoothie.  It was cold and grey, but i felt warm inside, because i am in California, working with children, and I have a whole new lease on life.  

I have family and friends who love and support me.  Last night, Nancy and Chris had a birthday dinner for me, and Jean, Vince, Ann, and Doug all came and brought me presents.  Tonight, Kate had a beautiful dinner party at her house, with lots of champagne and laughter.  

This morning, I walked in the Mare Island Preserve.  Chris told me i needed to start exercising.  As if  I didn't know it already. 

Friday, May 20, 2016

Special Education class at David A. Weir K-8 Prepatory.  Ms. P, the para, is doing the heavy lifting, getting and keeping the 3rd, 4th, and 5th graders focused. She uses lots of positive reinforcement, including gummy bears and kindness. One little boy was anxious about her popping a balloon, so she showed him how she could get the air out with no explosion.  

The students were sweet, watching movies today.  It was fun Friday.  The paraprofessionals maintained peace and calm.  They model it in all their interactions with the students.  It is evident that the kids love them, and how much they love the kids.

My sweet sister sent me a beautiful bracelet for my birthday

Here is a picture my niece drew for me.  

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Had to get a new journal. Filled up four already.  So i stopped at Whole Foods in Novato, on my way to the library.  what a happy experience that is! I took the stairs down to the amazing floral department, full of color and scents.  Beyond that is the produce department, full of luscious fruit and fresh, nourishing veggies, some that i have never seen before.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Vero has been in the news. Eleven inches of rain fell in one day, flooding the town.  I am so glad to be here in Vallejo, where it is sunny, dry, and 77.

Tutored two girls yesterday. One, a third grader, spent her time pushing limits. she rolled around in the chair and refused to answer questions, crying at the "hard" ones.  I finally had to give her "the look." i learned the look from a woman boss when i worked in Washington, DC.

This boss would perch her glasses low on her nose, and if someone said something stupid, she would look over the top rims, arch her eyebrows slightly, and be silent until the person who had said something stupid felt really stupid. I rarely use it, but it works beautifully on unruly, obnoxious children.  

I'm getting used to the drive.  I found the Whole Foods in Novato, which is huged and stocked with beautiful groceries and flowers. I have found my mothership.  

Enjoy the ride.  

I keep hearing that.  And i am really doing it.  I am happier than i have ever been, despite not having a place of my own.  This trip has helped me to view the world, for the most part, with an amused detachment that i really try to maintain, especially where current events are concerned.  

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Didn't sub yesterday morning. Stopped by to see Richard and Gregory, and rehash the birthday party.  We sat out on their balcony, overlooking the street, where the dogs have a great view of the neighborhood.  Waved to the neighbors and got my fix of grown up talk, before heading over to tutor.

I was dreading the ride on route 37, but traffic moved quickly and I didn't have a student for a couple of hours, so I drove up to Petaluma and saw the gorgeous old houses on D Street.  Set up my computer at Starbucks and watched the people passing by outside on the sidewalk.  I ended up being stood up by the student i was supposed to see. 

I spent this morning looking through the 2,000 photos that my brother, Pete, put on a thumb drive and sent to me.  There are photos of several generations, but the ones that are really special are the ones of my mother and her twin sister when they were children, as well as the ones of my mother when she was around the age she was when she had me.  It is really special to see photos of all of my siblings as they've grown up. 

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Thursday, I had a lovely laughing lunch at Kate's before I had to make the trek across 37 to tutor.  Her sister is visiting from Oregon, and we sat in the backyard and ate a lovely tuna salad with apples and arugula that she said she just threw together. 

Lunch conversation out here is so much fun.  the conversation today was psychotropic drugs like mushrooms and Meg's very cool three-legged dog.  

I answered an ad for a writing job at a Buddhist retreat called the Pristine Mind.  I think there is great promise at a place like this to be the setting of a dramady I am eventually going to write.  No matter how mindful a place it is, people are people.  Colleagues are colleagues.  there is drama in any office setting.  It sounds very peaceful, though, after being an elementary school teacher.  

One of the brothers I tutor, the fifth grader, talked to me about Donald Trump today. He was very angry at all the bad things Trump says, especially about people from Mexico, which is where his family is from.  Here is this child, who speaks two languages, who lives in a three bedroom apartment with two other families, who is mature beyond his years. He asked me why Donald Trump hates Mexicans so much.  He and his friends talked about shooting him, and i explained to him that violence was not the answer.  

Drove back from Novato and got stuck in traffic, but made it, and only fashionably late to Richard and Gregory's birthday celebration, a barbeque outside in the garden at their house, with two cakes. Burgers and hot dogs and so much other delicious food was served in the garden shed, which had been transformed into a twinkling bohemian paradise for the night, with colorful hanging sheets and lights strewn about.  

Gregory                                             Richard and Kate

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Had two fun days in second grade at Cleo Gordon Elementary, another one of my favorite schools.  Did my usual comedy routine to establish dominance.  The poor teacher had pneumonia.  Most of the kids were well behaved. Two weren't.

Took a leisurely drive to Novato, where I met with a studious fifth grade girl at the main branch of the public library. She was sweet and compliant.  We sat out in the atrium, surrounded by the smell of wisteria. 

As i posted earlier, I finally got a legal medical marijuana card last week.  It is a surreal feeling to be able to buy pot legally.  I went to a dispensary in downtown Vallejo, Releaf, and filled out all the forms and gave them my id and card from the doctor. My budtender, Ryan, a very laid back young man, helped me navigate the different choices - edibles, drinks, flower, concentrate, tinctures.  I left with six joints, different types, including two sativas, two indicas, and two hybrids.  Eventually, i will grow my own, so i want to test different strains.  Pot has helped me, over the years, with my headaches, severe chronic pain, anxiety, and depression.  

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Friday, I drove to Novato, 22 1/2 miles away from Vallejo, but on single lane route 37, it can sometimes take an hour plus.  This was my first tutoring assignment, and i worked with two brothers, a second grader and a fifth grader, who were struggling readers.  Such sweet and respectful boys, but i felt like i was torturing them with more work, after they had been working in school all week. They were as cooperative as they could be, but one hour and fifteen minutes for each student, on a Friday night is all that any of could tolerate.  Their mom doesn't speak much English, so the fifth grader translated. She has a new baby, born a month ago.On Saturday, I saw them again. Everyone was fresh from a good night's sleep.  

Saturday night, we celebrated Jean's birthday.  Chris grilled delicious London Broil, and made the most amazing marinated mushrooms to go with it. Nancy made a beautiful salad and the moistest white cake i have ever tasted, which her sister, Ann, frosted. 

Today is Mothers' Day.  I got the apostrophe right on that one, because i have more than one mother.  My mother, Helen, gave me life, and my mother, Dorothy, gave me a life filled with love.  I think both of my mothers would have liked each other, because, from what i know about both of them, they had a lot in common, besides me. 

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Tuesday, I picked up a two-day job subbing for a third grade teacher who had to go to training.  It is unusual for me to get to meet the teacher, but she was there, in her classroom when i got their tuesday morning, so we chatted a bit.  She's getting her masters in leadership.  I helped her set up a blog for one of classes after school, and we got to talking.  She told me that this was her last year at this school. She commutes from Lake County every day, at least a three hour drive, because that's where she can afford to live.  That is also where the big fire was last fall, and she and her family lost everything.  But she comes to school and is so kind and warm and loving to her students, who, she said, have really difficult lives, much more difficult than hers. Just hearing her say that made the next day so much easier with the kids, because I was even more kind than i normally am.  She said that since they are sweet and kind, and willing to show up every day, so is she.  

Also got my list of ten students for tutoring.  Each student needs 8.5 hours of tutoring before June 9th, the last day of school in Novato, California.  

This morning, I picked up another two day job in a middle school special education classroom, which i have sworn off of, but these kids were good.  The teacher left no plans, so i am winging it, which i am good at.  

Saw a doctor after school today in order to get my medical marijuana card.  Went directly to one of the fifteen dispensaries located in Vallejo, called Releaf.   It feels good to be legal.  

Monday, May 2, 2016

Took today off from subbing. Had an early lunch at Gracie's, in downtown Vallejo. Stopped at Safeway for provisions for the week, before heading over to Loretta's, where Gregory was showing and selling his gorgeous jewelry.

Yesterday's picnic was delightful.  Richard went early and organized our spot, under a thatch of shady trees, where we could watch the passing parade of all kinds of people at this annual May Day celebration in the hills of Napa.  The food was delicious - fried chicken made by Richard; Alice Waters' potato salad made by Cynthia; roasted red potatos with a red pepper dipping sauce made by Gregory; Savory pancakes and green dip made by Bake; Loretta made "darn good chocolate cake," and Kate made "awfully good brownies," and both lived up to their names.  We were serenaded by a mariachi band and watched a canoe race.

Late in the afternoon, we walked to one of the houses, where the owners were serving their wine.  They happened to own the most beautiful poodle, who looked just like Mimi.  A year ago, almost to the day, I had to put my sweet girl down, and I thought it would kill me.  I didn't think i could survive the sadness of losing my best friend.

But yesterday, when I arrived, this little black poodle was one of the first things I saw, as she scurried out of the lake and shook herself off, and then gamboled happily on the hillside.  I felt like my sweet girl was sending me a message that she was happy and that i should be happy, too.  The owners of the vineyard put this little black poodle's picture on their bottles.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Started the day at Java Jax, in downtown Vallejo, for coffee, a bagel, lox, and cream cheese for breakfast.  Kate picked me up around noon, and we drove out to the end of Green Valley Road in Napa, to meet Richard, Gregory, Loretta, and Bake at their friend, Bruce's property.  

Several years ago, a woman sold 1,000 acres of glorious green land in wine country to eighteen gay guys, in order to piss of her neighbors, as the story goes.  Every year, the men, who have built glorious houses on the property, have a big party to celebrate May Day.  Hundreds of people show up to picnic and watch canoe races.  All kinds of people showed up, including young families with children and dogs.

Richard organized our spot and brought delicious, juicy fried chicken with a cayenne kick.  Cynthia made delicious potato salad. Gregory made roasted red potatoes accompanied by a red pepper dip. Bake made savory pancakes with a green pepper dip. Loretta made "darn good chocolate cake" and it was.  Kate made "awfully good brownies." and they were.  

We spent the afternoon, under shady trees, chatting and watching the parade of people pass by.  A mariachi band serenaded us.

Late in the afternoon, we walked to one of the houses with a wine cellar.  The owner and his partner make wine.  They also own a beautiful black poodle.  A year ago, when i had to put my beloved Mimi to sleep, I did not think i would survive.  But yesterday, when i saw this gorgeous  poodle prancing in and out of the water, my heart filled with so much joy and i felt mimi sending me a message.  

So we drank some of the wine, which tasted good.  But i would buy a bottle because the label was a pen and ink drawing of Annabel, their delightful poodle.  

The ride back down the hill was spectacular, especially because of the cows, one of whom would not move out of the way.