Thursday, July 28, 2011

... found an awesome post on happiness...

... at "The Happiness Project" website.  It's an interview with a most amazing blogger, "Mr. Lady."  Please read the post!  I am going to be re-re-re-reading this post - as well as its title below - as often as I need a dose of motivation. 

Or a kick in the pants. 

Whichever is more necessary. 


"How Do You Give Yourself a Hapiness Boost?" "I Create. It Doesn't Matter Much What."

Monday, July 18, 2011

...went on vacation and actually made a little art.

I spent two weeks in eastern Tennessee with my retired parents.  Darling Babygirl daughter and my own dear dad are two days apart in birthdays, so we got them together to celebrate their birthdays together.  Having grandfather/granddaughter birthdays close together seems to be a trend in my family; I am born the day before my dad's father, and Babygirl is born two days after my dad's date.  If Babygirl can spit out a daughter a couple of days before or after May 6th (just not too soon - like in 10 or 15 years) we have a definite trend going on here.

My dear stepmom belongs to a Red Hat Society group, and it was her turn to decorate "Ruby," an odd, elongated soft doll which is part of the group's lunch meeting traditions.  DSM was the last woman in the group to dress Ruby before her "retirement", so she decided that Ruby was retiring because she was getting married.  So the three of us - Grandma, Mommy & Babygirl - made a bridal gown for Ruby.  We worked on Ruby for a good three evenings, spent an afternoon shopping for her at a dollar store and Walmart's - my second trip into a Walmart's ever; we don't have them around our parts - and whipped up an adorable bridal outfit.  Her gown was an old blouse of DSM's, turned upside down with the elasticized hem now Ruby's bodice, her veil was an unraveled scrubby bath puff.  Her bustle was constructed from a gift wrap ribbon package...

Here's Ruby, being presented to the Red Hat ladies by my gorgeous Babygirl -
I did the sewing on the gown, while Babygirl worked on the bouquet, veil and bustle.

I particularly love the bustle.  I wish I could have had a bridal gown with a train of ribbon twirls.
Ruby's tiara was soft pink ribbon roses scoured from the bottom of DSM's chaotic sewing basket.  I cleaned it up for her.  I'm not sure if she wanted me to or not, but I did it anyway. blown away with all the " get off your butt and make a difference" messages in my life.

...and read this blog posting from Little Big Wolf's blog Daily Plate of Crazy. This should be me.  This could be me.  I need to do these sorts of things in my life - pay more attention to my world, make some noise, hold my ground, stand up for my tenets.  Damn.

Over and over I am blown away by the women of the blog world.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

... was a busy little beaver yesterday.

Yay for Summer Break!  I can actually keep my mind on something for longer than three minutes!  (Enough sleep is a lovely thing re focus, among other issues.)  I cleaned up the dining room table, so now we can easily EAT on it, and rearranged the breakfast nook to make myself an office-y space.  My computer is here, as is my sewing machine.  I dragged a bookcase from school - and yes, it's mine to begin with, I bought it - and loaded it with my education & science reference books, along with all my binders containing all my hard materials (as apposed to soft, like PowerPoints.)  One of my summer projects is to organize each as a workable system, unlike the chaos they're in now.  My sewing box and embroidery floss are there, too.  My stationary supplies are all arranged in ways I actually use them, and I am as happy as the proverbial clam.  My basket of sewing projects sits on a chair next to my computer so I can't do the "out of sight out of mind" trick that is such an important element of my procrastination sequence.

I'm finally able to articulate a difference,  that's bugged me for years, between Hubby and myself when it comes to material goods.  When we have to make a choice between style and function, he leans towards style and I lean towards function.  I also seem to be more visual in my organizational style while he's more kinetic.   Does this make sense?

OH, and as for art, I'm crocheting placemats for my step-mom.  They're striped, with the pattern as prime numbers - 1,2,3,5,7,11 and yes I am that much of a nerd - and then back again until the mat is a proper size.  She already has two, with the background in turquoise and stripe in white.  These next two are reversed, with white background and turquoise stripe. In cotton.  Lovely to work with.  Just love it.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

...actually did NOT purchase the Sebring.

Hubby is concerned about some stuff, so I gave the car back to my lender instead of buying it.  It looks like I will have to learn stick shift, which has NOT gone well in the past.  A plus, though, is that if I do learn it, I will be able to drive one of the coolest, sweetest rides in the city - a near-fully restored VW Super Beetle which has been sitting in my backyard for the past four or so years.

Yes, I am that close to white trash.  A dead car in the backyard.  (Three, actually.  Hubby is a Car Guy.)  All we need is a dead washing machine in the front porch and we are ON, good buddy.

Not this one, but pretty durned close.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

... channeled my inner Michael Scott.

... and purchased a used Sebring.

Yes, I know that the brand has a horrible track record.  I also know that I drove the car for two weeks on a loan, and it works well enough for my needs, and after a series of "cool" (according to dear hubby) cars which break down, get crashed into or try to eat my legs as I get in, well enough is good enough.

It's a blessing to have a car to travel farther than I can walk or want to ride my bike or carry on my back or in the bike's basket.  When I need it.  I've been without a car at will for nearly two years now, and it's nice to have one again.

What really decided it for me is that now I have a way to get to the doctor's appointments I need to make without throwing the other household drivers into a tailspin trying to get me there & back.

Oh, and I can go visit my favorite fabric store when I feel like it, too.

Independence is a lovely thing.

It's not this one.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

... thought about obssessive consumption.

You see, I really like this new-to-me website called brainpickings, which is as far as I can tell very much involved in tracking down and reviewing incredibly interesting books on all sorts of subjects in all kinds of areas.  A lot of interesting art and graphics books especially.

This last entry is of Kate Bingaman-Burt‘s Obsessive Consumption project - "a wonderfully illustrated visual record of personal consumption running since February 5, 2006." It seems that each time Ms. Bingaman-Burt purchases something she draws a visual representation of it, its price and where she bought it.  The pictures are charming and creepy; sometimes flipping back and forth between the two.

I gots to wonderin' about my own consumption.  I live a pretty modest life, or so I think.  I watch the pennies and don't treat shopping as a competitive sport.  Even so, I still find myself  surrounded by Stuff.  Clutter.  Junk.  Kinetic Cacophony.  Part of this is because of my admittedly less-than-stellar housekeeping talents, but I wonder just how much of this collection of debris in my life is simply because I'm mostly unconscious about it.  I sometimes feel as if I'm swimming in an ocean with a layer of trash separating me from the Sun.  And I need the Sun.  Every once in a while I can get my head through a crack in the debris and enough sunlight gets absorbed to make it to the next crack.  But my mind is never far away from the debris or the next crack.  What would it be like to focus on it?

An impossibly long time ago I took a class on Art History and Criticism at UCLA extension, and the final project was to create a piece of performance art.  We had one week, and I, as a mother of a preschooler and in a troubled marriage thought that in one week I barely had time to sew a button on a shirt, much less put together a piece of performance art.

So that's what I decided to do.  Not to go into the whole insanity of the project (which was pretty danged cool if I must say so myself), but a major part of this project was to keep a running record of EVERY THING I DID.  The date/time/length/action. For a week. I got really good at focusing on what I was doing.

A big part of why I started this blog was to bring focus to my creative life.  I very strongly connect my creative life with my organizational life.  I wonder if everyone who considers themselves creative does this.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

... am attempting the impossible.

... which is to complete my grading, complete my astronomy final, rewrite my earth science final, and do a major sweep of the house, especially the kitchen and bathroom.  Oh, and laundry.

Wish me luck.

Oh, it's many hours later and I also baked a pie.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

... didn't mind my manners.

So yesterday after school I was having a VERY serious talk with a young lady who seems to have boundary issues with her fellow students.  I had the door open to my classroom - of course - and this young lady's friend  - Young Lady #2 - had been directed to sit outside.  She could listen but she couldn't come in (as this friend has a way of turning a simple conversation into a piece of surrealist performance art, which is probably quite entertaining but not when one is trying to make a serious point to someone else).

I'm in the middle of a sentence when young lady #3 - also a friend of LY #1 & 2 - bursts into the room, announcing "MRS. G'BERG I NEED TO TALK TO YOU!  (Back story - I had sent this young lady up to the office the day before when I realized her immediate M.O. was to argue with me about every little thing when she couldn't do what she wanted when she wanted all the time... and it's the end of the year, and I'm tired.  Very, very tired... The AP asked if I wanted to see her in class on Friday, and I said no thank you, I think we could use a break from each other, so he had taken her a second day.)

As soon as I saw her in my door I announced - and I admit, quite firmly - "Young lady #3, I am having a conversation with YL #1.  You may speak with me when I am finished with her.  Go outside and wait."  She stopped in her tracks and announced I was RUDE.  "SO RUDE TO TALK TO ME LIKE THAT."  I then told her she could leave and wait until Monday to speak with me.

I finished with LY #1, walked her out the door, took LY #2 on for being an inconsiderate self-proclaimed idiot, told LY#3 that since she already thought I was rude I would continue to be rude, and then shut the door in the middle of LY#3's re-declaration of how rude I was.  And took a deep breath.

Oh lord.  One. More. Week.

Sunday, May 29, 2011 going all domestic on youse.

It's the third day of a four-day weekend.  Which is great, except that Friday was a furlough day, which means we teachers don't get paid, and we've lost a week's worth of pay - as well as a week's worth of teaching time - so far this year.

What I have control over, that being said, is how I spend my time off.  Friday I rode the bus with my gorgeous daughter and her gorgeous girlfriend to a local mall ON THE BUS.  Which in Los Angeles is a rather big deal.  I don't have a car this summer, so this was sort of a test run for me, and for casual errands, joy rides and such it's quite doable.

Saturday I made an ass of myself by driving Hubby - while breaking down into an emotional, sleep-deprived wreck - to work in Burbank, which is three-freeways away from us, at 7:30 in the morning, attending a bat mitzvah of a young lady who we've known and loved since she was 5, and then after we (meaning daughter and me) got home, essentially collapsing for the rest of the day.  I roused myself about 4:45 to get out the door with the car and grocery shop a little.  Missed Costco by ten minutes (and its pharmacy by two hours) but got through a small shopping at Sprouts, so we have some produce for meals this week.

Sunday I slept for 10+ hours and feel nearly like myself again, if only myself still didn't have the aching ankle from my bike crash earlier this month.  But even so, it's much better, thanks.

So domestically I'm -
1.  Cleaning the fridge out, and oh boy does it need it.
2.  Making a zucchini, mushroom & onion quiche.  Why do we have do much squash?!???
3.  Tackling the cobwebs that seem to have sprung out overnight in early every ceiling corner of the house.
4.  Taking inventory of the freezer, in part to pull out some meat from the husband to grill.  Grilling is what Hubby does for relaxation.  Personally, I prefer sleep, but who am I to keep a good man from his grill?

Saturday, May 14, 2011

proved gravity always works...

... even when you don't want it to.

And it's a bitch.

Two Tuesdays ago I crashed landed my bike when I tried to make a left turn a little too suddenly.  I bruised & or strained most of my left-side joints, and left my foot/ankle a most amazing visual cacaphony of colors.  I'm still living on ibuprofen and in ace bandages.  It's amazing how much stamina low-grade yet constant discomfort sucks out of a person.

That being said, I have no one to blame but myself.  Isaac Newton wasn't making up stories, he was simply telling the truth.
My bike and I proved this guy's Law's of Motion - all of them - and threw in friction for good measure last Tuesday. Science has no mercy..
 I did get a chance to hand-sew the trim I mentioned in a previous post onto my teal patterned skirt and love the way it came out.  I also cut out another skirt from the same pattern, this one in a blue/black thin brocade.  Hopefully I'll have a chance to sew it up this weekend, and maybe even get (yet another) trim basted to the hem.  This trim is machine-sewable, at least.

I also started to crochet myself a scarf for next fall, in purples and greens.  I like the pattern the variegated yarn took.  As soon as I test/compare for length I'll fringe it. 

As for art in the classroom, we just came through two weeks of block schedule and state testing.  At the beginning of this week I announced to my three astronomy classes that THEY were teaching the rest of the chapter on the Sun.  Groups pulled topics out of a (Fabric Planet!) sack, got directions and I let 'em at it.  The lessons are due on Monday, and should take the rest of the week to get through.  They need to have a "means of contents presentation" (PowerPoint, lecture or transparencies),  "means of reinforcement" (work sheet, game, cross word or word search),  and "means of assessment" (quiz).  I can hardly wait for what they show up with!  Some of my students are incredibly creative.

Friday, April 29, 2011

...crocheted a whizzbang...

...which is a twisted, springy rope of a crochet chain, then turned and crochet two single or double stitches into each loop.  It twists really pretty.  My Babygirl is at astro camp this weekend, and needed an orange string to mark her luggage.  I have some screaming and screamingly cheap acrylic orange yarn, and looped her up a twisted luggage i.d. string which of course, since SHE had the camera all packed already, I couldn't take a picture of it.  On Sunday, with any luck!

Today I plan to spend a peaceful late afternoon watching Freaky Friday ghostie shows with my son while hand-sewing on some wonderful trim to the hem of a skirt. ( I basted it on last weekend.)

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

need to lose some weight.

I need to lose weight.  Eating has become a way of coping with stress for me, and when I weighed myself for the first time in a few years I was shocked to discover I was 15 pounds more than I thought I was!  Shocked, I tell you.

It's a challenge to organize a formal diet in a food-centered house, and since this is really the first time in my life I've had to watch what I eat I have no - NONE whatsoever - NO fortitude or will power when it comes to food.

So I was ruminating about this over the weekend and this is what floated to the cosmic surface:

  • Sleep 8 hours every day.
  • Water.
  • Fiber.
  • Eat intelligently.
We'll see how it goes.  So far I can do this.
I love apples.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

... graded papers.

...and graded and graded and graded....

Oh, and had a lovely Passover dinner at the MIL's with Hubby's family.

...and graded some more.

Grades are due on Tuesday.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

... got ready for school tomorrow.

  • The earth science kids are taking a quiz and then probably watching a video.  (Gotta find a video....)
  • The astronomy kids are learning about eclipses. I really like the PowerPoint I prettified from the original I snagged from our lead astronomy teacher.
  • I got into my classroom this afternoon and it's all set up.  All I have to do is appear and plug in the projector.  Whew.
  • Hey!  I think I have time to redo my toenails!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

didn't just go shopping.

I also brought my poor helpless circa 1974 Singer Portable to the nice people at Sewing Arts Center, who will tune her and make her tension all better after I mucked it up.

I also completed my student's crocheted octopus for our Facebook challenge.  It's adorable.

My darling son, bless him, helped me bring my portable to the repair people and then indulged me in one of my favorite stores - Fabric Planet, on Lincoln between Venice and Pico. (The link will take you to the FP downtown, but save for the address, the info is parallel.)  For five dollars I bought a future scarf, shantung pillow covering and brocade a-line shirt. I DO need to go back and get trim for the pillow covering, though...

I also brought along some carved stone amulets I've had for years, and bought some suede trim to hang them from.  I think I'll re-open my etsy account and post these for sale.

Today I need to tidy the house - I have two larger kids to help with that - and start on the pile of grading I need to do before spring break ends.  I also want to sew trim on the ends of my remnant for a scarf  and start cutting out a few simple patterns in anticipation of my sewing machine coming home on Friday, all fixed and pretty.

was busy SHOPPING!!!!

Dear hubby came into some long overdue money this week, and gave me his blessing to update my wardrobe, which is, like the best birthday-Christmas-Valentine present ever!  I haven't really made any clothing purchases which don't replace a totally worn-out essential for about three years, and was pretty much desperate to have a wardrobe that wasn't faded, stretched out or pilled.

I was very, very careful.  First place I stopped at was Target - I've had good luck buying essentials there before, and have learned that if I find something that fits and makes me happy - not a given, as I am neither as thin nor young as I used to be, and Target does not cut its clothing with a lot of "give" or forgiveness to them - buy multiples.  This was one of those days where it was Me Time at Target.  I bought three very simply cut jersey skirts in black, gray and stone.  I also love Target's current fling with patterned cardigans, and purchased this lovely one.  I also grabbed two of the lovely draped-collar sweater-style tops, sort of like this one but without the cords in the back and less expensive, in black and stone.  With a couple of $8 tees, all of a sudden, I have nine NEW basic outfits.  For under $100 bucks.

Oh, and the most miraculous find of all - a pair of Target jeans that fit my pear-shaped body! Twenty-five bucks. Comfortable, too.  I was nearly hyperventilating when I looked in the mirror.

A few days later I took my personal stylist - my 13YO darling Babygirl, who has more style instinct in her little finger right now than I have ever had in my whole body in my whole LIFE - to Kohls.  With her unerring taste and eye for fashion she outfitted me in this shirt dress, in a dark taupe and a lovely geometric-patterned surplice dress (for which I can't find an image.) Plus two more tees in bright &  dark turquoise, and yet another miracle, a pair of Levi Jeans, which I haven't been able to wear since I was 18 and grew thighs.  (In-store purchase was cheaper, too.)

I haven't had more than one pair of fitting jeans in six years.

For this reason and so many others, I love my daughter SO MUCH.

Friday, April 1, 2011

made haiku.

Los Angeles spring -
Perched on Japanese maple,
English sparrow sings.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

channeled my inner librarian.

I have realized that when I leave things all topsy my brain gets confused.  Honest, things go fuzzy and I can't focus, either visually or mentally. So I tackled the "backgrounds" file in My Pictures and sorted them all, into Astronomy, Meteorology, Geology, Landscapes, Living Things, Merely Cool and Simple Walls (a newly discovered website called simple desktops,  I swear I have breathed a little easier ever since.  

Here are a few of my favorites.  At least half if not more of my desktop collection comes from the National Geographic website:

One of my perennials.  My default choice since 2005.

Sedimentary rock and weathering, anyone?

I don't remember where this scene is located, but I appreciate how
it represents all three geosciences. 
As well as being stunningly gorgous.

Although it' wasn't taken in Tennessee, this photo reminds me of the
lush Smoky Mountain forest where my dad and step-mom live.

Bathing parrot.  I like to use this one during summer school.

I use this when it's state test time and the kids & I could use to lighten up a little.

Surfing Hippo

Northern Owl at home in her forest.

Endangered Hyacinth Macaw from Amazon Rain Forest.

Newly discovered little octopus.

My sister in law Cassie took this exquisite photo at a
downtown dim sum restaurant and sent it to me.  I have a thing for koi.

My current background, from simple walls.  LOVE it!

Monday, March 28, 2011

... smell like dirt.

Which means I got off my keister this beautiful spring day -- AND the first official day of our Spring Break! -- and joined my beautiful Babygirl in returning our back patch of weeds into a vegetable garden.  We had two thriving tomato plants which survived the winter, and I trimmed them and reset their cages on them, and we should have real live tomatoes in a couple short weeks!  Heavens, there's even flowers with a couple of tiny green tomatoes on one of 'em.

Last week I also finished the turquoise octopus for my student, and will figure out how to sew strings of beads onto its little head for hair.  I will also post a pic of the finished critter.

Two weekends ago I was on the East Coast in DC for a science education conference - thank you UCLA for sending me! - and as a surprise Hubby gave me a beautiful new point-n-shoot camera to share with our daughter.  Daughter graciously allowed me to bring it on the trip, and I took some photos I'm very happy with... and it's so easy to actually get them from the camera to the computer I may just actually start to post my own shots here! 

These next few pics are from the "Hyperbolic Crochet Coral Reef" project, showing at the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History. Created and curated by Christine Wertheim and Margaret Wertheim of the Institute For Figuring.

Here is the bleached coral reef, what happens when the tiny organisms which create
the coral structures die.  This is happening now all over the world.

I fell in love with this little guy, and want to crochet some more of his ilk to hang in my classroom.

Is this just too much fun or what????

I forgot to pack my crochet hook and yarn, darn it, or I would have spent the whole flight back making my first hyperbolic coral creature.

I spent my pre-conference Friday afternoon walking the National Mall, from Capitol Building to Lincoln's Memorial and back.  Ever since the Vietnam Vet War memorial was completed I've wanted to visit.  I finally did, and it is even more moving and ennobling of its Veterans than any picture can justifiably do.

Trees about to bud.  That isn't trash at the base of the Memorial - those are print-outs from the Memorial database, with info on each deceased soldier.  School children bring the bios to the scene, find their soldiers, and lay the bios down in front of the names with a flower.

A close-up of one of the blocks.  That's me in the reflection.  I don't know any of these men
or their families, but that doesn't mean I shouldn't honor them.

I didn't realize that one of the Memorial's arms was aligned with the
Washington Monument until I looked up and saw this.
Camelot for all geeks - the Smithsonian Castle!

And finally - the only cherry tree in bloom two weeks ago, although I'm certain the city is awash in pink petals right now.  This was taken outside the National Air and Space Museum.

Friday, March 4, 2011

have been discovering my inner nerdly fashionista.

I was reading one of my favorite blogs in ScienceBlogs - which of course I don't remember which blog, and since I am posting this during my prep period in school I don't have time to hunt down, but whatever - I'll get to it, I'll get to it - and followed one of the author's tags to "Fashion for Nerds,", and fell into a WHOLE NEW WORLD of intelligent, gorgeous women who don't look like fashion models and are not mind-boggling young, but love clothes and fashion.  I am so happy.  Recently I also read over in that fashion for women is like sports for men, and my whole world just went crackalicious!  I've been trying to put my outfits together with a different attitude and eye these past few weeks, especially with a great-yet-untouched stash of scarves I collected in the 80s and inherited from my dear departed mother when she passed in 2006.  Along with Geekthreads is  And seemingly scores of others, but these two are the blogs I currently get most of my courage and ideas from.

Oh, and I am about half-way done with a turquoise octopus I am crocheting for a student of mine who is also a facebook friend.  I posted that "first five people get something handcrafted by me in 2011," and she was the only one to take me up on it!  I am also planning to make her table-mate and friend - and another FB friend of mine - a pair of earrings, just because she asked me so nicely if I would.