Wednesday, August 30, 2006


So, I met the other district music teachers today, and everyone is really nice. It's great to have the support and all that. We had a few hours of inservice time, and we get all day Friday, as well.

On Friday, we'll be playing with instruments. Yay! That's always fun. But there is one problem. You see, when I screech on the violin, or fail miserably at the trumpet, no one will mind because I am not a violinist, or a trumpettist. However, if I walk in there with my fancy clarinet and then completely suck--that's not going to be good.

You see, I am a clarinetist who has neglected her poor little Buffet. I just haven't played it as much in the last few years as I would like to, for many reasons. I've been more on a singing and piano kick, I've been busy with work, school, moving to and from England, etc. The bottom line is, I burned out on clarinet at uni and I've been too lazy to make time for my clarinet sinc then. So now, whenever I play, there's...


Tonight I took my beloved Buffet out of its case (Buffets are the best classical clarinets in the world, and mine is a professional, not student, model. I love that thing) and put it together while doing that old clarinetist trick of soaking the reed in my mouth. I got it all lined up and ready to go, and then came the moment of truth:

Just how bad is this going to sound?

Actually, not too bad! I still have good tone and I can still play my scales with decent speed and technique. But the first thing that goes when you neglect your clarinet is the embouchure--and man, do my poor lips hurt now! So after about 10 minutes, I swabbed it out and put it away.

I've still got it! Well, maybe not "it," but something! I won't completely embarass myself on Friday, which is so good to know.

Now I'm really wanting to find a place to play. This is a good thing! Maybe I'll regain some of that love I used to have for the instrument, instead of remembering the stress and frustration of never being able to live up to my college teacher's expectations of me. Maybe, just maybe, I'll play for the joy of it again, and not because I have to be in band as a requirement for a Music Education degree.

The very thought just thrills me.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

What a Nice Weekend!

So, I'm in Lincoln. I didn't tell anyone I was coming, except, of course, Mom and Dad.

So, here's the last few days...

Thursday: Clean Desk and Relax

So Thursday, I had all these grand plans to go to my classroom and do a bunch of the "dirty work." I did end up washing off my desk, and making not one but TWO rags completely filthy. The dust on that thing was insane! My predecessor was a hell of a choir teacher, but she was not known for neat freak tendencies. She even admitted this to me. Well, this school as a Neat Freak Choir Teacher incoming. I can't help it.

Anyway, I did that, then, having a noseful of dust and some serious abdominal cramps (sorry, male readers), I went home to eat a crappy lunch and sit around in my pajamas. Good times!

I did rouse myself enough to run two loads of laundry and a huge load of dishes, get them all put away, and have a nice, therapeutic shower. I also managed to pack most of the things I would need this weekend, except, of course, my toiletries, which I threw in a carry case in the morning.

At 9:00 I was in bed, with lights out, drifting into a nice sleep. Friday would be a busy day.

Friday: And So It Starts

Friday was my first official day on the job--a new teacher orientation for the whole district. Somewhere between 80 and 100 teachers gathered at my school to meet the district office staff, get important information about payroll, benefits, how to log onto our district email (particularly useful!) and, most importantly, to network. I met several people who will be at my school with me, including a new drama teacher I will be working with from time to time.

I had rather expected the orientation to be all about classroom management techniques and other stuff I've sat through time and again in my career, but it turned out to be the best organized and most informative staff development type day I've ever gone to. Actually, I've never had an orientation to a new school that was so comprehensive and useful. Normally I've had to run around finding answers by myself, but here, they presented everything we would need to know.

The best part, however, was that several times throughout the day I heard people say, "Our job is to make your job run smoother and to help you when you need it. That is what we are here to do."


Friday Afternoon: Well, That Was a Bad Idea

The orientation finished at 3:00. I dashed out to my car, which already held my small suitcase and toiletry kit, threw my briefcase in the trunk, and drove the mile-and-a-half home. Once there, I checked my mail box, used the loo, grabbed Millie and put her in her carrier box, and dashed back out to the car. By 3:18, I was backing out of my parking spot, ready to go.

I should have known better, I really should have. I'm in the east bay area now, where traffic is a nightmare. Getting from my apartment to Highway 4 took almost a half hour (ridiculous). Highway 4 wasn't too bad until I got to Antioch Bridge, where I had to stop and pay a toll. Long lines, but it moved quickly enough.

So now I'm on Highway 160, where the speed limit is 55, and the train of cars I've just joined is going about 45-50 on average. No problem. I settled in a few car lengths behind the guy in front of me, cranked up the music, and...promptly had some jerk on my tail. Gah!

Yes, dude, let me just speed up to 80 mph and cram into the guy in front of me so you can go faster. Noooooo problem.

Anyway, it stayed like this for the entire time I was on 160 (maybe 10-15 miles) and the entire time I was on Highway 12 (about 20 miles, maybe?). I finally merged onto I-5, and things went pretty smoothly for, oh, 20 minutes.

At the southern edge of Sacramento, things slowed down to a near-stop. And stayed that way all the way to the northern edge of Sacramento and beyond. Things weren't much better on I-80 up to Lincoln. By the time I pulled Rosie Protege into Mom and Dad's driveway, it was 6:08.

Yes, my friends, it's true. What normally takes me an hour and forty-five minutes (give or take 10-15 minutes depending on time of day and traffic) took me just under three hours.

Next time, I'm leaving later in the day.

The Weekend: Just What I Needed

Okay, now the reason I came home without telling anyone: I'm not in a social mood. No offense to anyone, but what I really needed was a couple nights hanging out with Mom and Dad and the Cooper kitties.

When I pulled into Mom and Dad's, they came out to help me bring my stuff and Millie in. First thing Mom said was, "Hey, Millie! Are you okay? Oh, you poor baby. Hi, Meg. Oh, there's Gran's Girl! I missed my Millie Joyful!"

I wearily climbed from the car, the question, "What's for dinner?" poised on my tongue when Mom uttered the most magical words:

"Dad's taking us to Applebee's."

Oh, the bliss. I had steak and mashed potatoes. It was wonderful.

The rest of the weekend has been relaxing. Mom and I watched the Bogart/Hepburn/Holden version of Sabrina on Friday night, and yesterday we went to the scrapbook store and the book store. Last night we watched the NASCAR race from Bristol. I'm proud to report that Dale Jr. finished 3rd, and his crew was on fire with their pit stops and strategy.

I stayed up very late reading a new book, then slept in this morning. It's now 1:00, and I'm aiming to leave at about 3:00.

Monday: New Adventure, Wild and Absolutely True

Would you expect anything less? : )

Tomorrow all new teachers at my campus will meet with the principal for an hour or so, then be turned over to some mentor teachers who will show us around the massive campus and tell us where to find things we may need. I'm looking forward to getting to know my new colleagues.

Tuesday is the first day back for the rest of the teachers, and we have classroom time, staff development, and all that jazz this week. A week from Tuesday is the first day of school. So soon!

Bring it on.



Thursday, August 24, 2006

A Few Good Headlines

...and one worrysome one.

West Nile Virus in Contra Costa

For those of you who didn't realize, I'm now firmly ensconced in Contra Costa County (say that one ten times fast). And we've had our first fatality due to West Nile Virus. Granted, it was an elderly woman, and she probably got it during the big July heat wave, but summer's not over yet and I'm now very, very afraid of mosquitoes.

Though, when I think about it, I suppose so long as I am armed with knowledge, I'll be okay.

Way To Go, Obama!

Senator Barack Obama (D--Illinois) is making a trip to his father's native country, Kenya, to have a public AIDS test taken this weekend. The region of Kenya he is visiting has one of the highest daily death rates related to AIDS, so this kind of publicity for testing is very important in the sense that it might just encourage more people to be tested before they unknowingly spread the disease.

Many Kenyans count Obama as a hero, and a man they can relate to and invest their hopes in. It is wonderful to see a U.S. politician bringing hope and pride to a country so ravaged by poverty and illness.

A Big Win For Mother Earth

The Bolsa Chica wetlands in southern California are being reclaimed by their rightful owners--birds, plants and other species of life. After 107 years of being dammed off from the ocean, today, a bulldozer swept away the last of the barrier and ocean water poured in.

As my headline states, it's a huge victory for our planet, and I hope that other habitats will be restored and encouraged to return to their natural state in future. We've only got one planet--let's show a little love, why don't we?

I'm doing what I can. I've got laundry hanging up to dry on my patio, and I want to get some small bins for recycling. I try to minimize my energy consumption by not leaving lights on, etc. I chose to live very close to my new job so that I have minimal driving, or even the option to walk. Every little bit helps!

A Big Story for Women

Why this is at the bottom of the headlines, I don't know, but hey, I found it, and I'm passing it on.

The Food and Drug Administration has approved the Plan B pill for sale in pharmacies. It must be behind the counter, but it can be sold to women 18 and over without prescription.

While women's rights groups claim the sales approval could halve the number of unplanned pregnancies in the US, conservatives warn the decision could encourage sexual promiscuity.

These conservatives need to get it through their thick skulls that a pill is not going to promote sexual promiscuity. If you want your teenagers to abstain, sit down and talk to them!! And for heaven's sake, turn off the TV, monitor what they're doing, and be active enough in their lives so that you don't have to worry that some little pill's presence in a pharmacy is going to make them want to have sex.

Believe me, if someone wants to have sex, they're going to, whether there's a Plan B pill on the market or not.

And that's all I have to say about that.



Poor Mickey Must Be Devastated

Pluto has lost it's status as a planet. It is now considered a "dwarf planet," and I will have to learn a new pneumonic device to remember the planets. I've been using May Venus Eat My Jelly Sandwich Under Nancy's Porch. Hmmm.

No word yet on what Goofy has to say about all of this.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Looks Like Anything Goes...

Greetings from the east bay area...I hadn't updated in a few days and thought I'd let everyone know what I've been up to.

Jazz Hands!

Let's face it, one of the things I have been a little bit worried about with this new job is the whole concept of Show Choir. I've never participated in a show choir, or taught it. I've always been a little bit wary of it, especially because the mere mention of the words "show choir" can make Summer wave her hands in the air and exclaim, "Jazz Hands!!" like a character on Saturday Night Live.

Let's face it, many musicians find show choirs a bit...cheesy. And when you add the fact that I have two left feet and some serious dance issues, well...I've been nervous. And thinking, "Hmm...maybe I could sort of turn Show Choir into...Jazz Choir." If the dance is left to me, the kids will be shuffling their feet, shaking their booties, and not much else.

But change does not happen overnight, especially when you're working with kids and needing to be sensitive to the fact that they auditioned for Show Choir at the end of last year. That's what they're expecting. And that's what they'll get. The good news is that I have found a show arrangement that I can stand, and that's Cole Porter's "Anything Goes." The even better news is that Mrs. Principal has told me to put in a P.O. for it, so I don't have to wait to see what my budget is going to be.

The best news of all is that the school's dance teacher usually helps with choreography.

Miss Cooper's Domain

It's getting there. I've spent some time in my room this week, cleaning a bit and putting some of my personal things in there--various posters, etc. I have a couple of framed pictures I like to keep on my desk and whatnot.

I've also been looking at my music library--and realizing, with some dread, that there are waaaaayy too many photocopies and I really will need to go through and get rid of them to avoid being caught and fined $20,000. Yeah. Fortunately, the library's not too huge, so it won't be too hard. I want to organize it, anyway.

I've found some music that might be appropriate. The thing is, until I meet my groups and hear for myself what they are capable of, I don't know what they'll be able to do. As I told the band teacher yesterday, "I could ask Mrs. H., but...well, I want to find out for myself!" He just smiled and said, "Of course you do!"

Speaking of the band teacher--he's been awesome. Yesterday I poked my head into his room to ask where I go to talk choir budget. He personally showed me and took me around to meet a couple of people I will need to know, like the lady who runs Student Accounts. Never mind that he's in the middle of marching band camp, he's been willing to help me out and chat with me. Support! It's a lovely thing.

Got Up and Went

My "get up and go," that is. I haven't been sleeping well the last few nights. I'm sure it's the many, many thoughts screaming through my head of late. After all, I start a new job on Friday, of course I'm nervous.

Anyway, it's made for some bum-dragging by day. I slept well enough last night, but still could not wake up this morning, and lay about until almost 9:00, unable to drag myself out of bed.

Monday night I tossed and turned until 2:30 in the morning! Gah! It was horrible. I know that as the first day of school gets closer, I'll be even more nervous...I'm going to up the workouts and try to eat really, really well, and pamper myself a bit with hot baths and at-home facials. Anything to keep myself relaxed.

Speaking of workouts--I didn't work out at all on Tuesday (I did a lot in my classroom and then came home and conked out on the sofa), but yesterday I did some swimming, which was great. I did a bunch of laps, really working my arms, then I did some water jogging, which I really felt in my calves. Hey, it's better than nothing...

And that's it, really. I've been busy by day and exhausted but sleepless by night. Friday is my first official day--an orientation for teachers who are new to the district. I look forward to meeting some colleagues and learning my way around. Monday it is back to the high school and full steam ahead.



Sunday, August 20, 2006

Back in the Saddle Again

...or the elliptical, as the case my be.

That's right, my friends--I worked out tonight! I did 50 minutes on the elliptical (in two sessions) and about 20 minutes of upper-body weight training. I feel so good! In a few minutes I'll take a quick shower and then read for a bit before going to sleep.

Tomorrow I should be in my classroom most of the day. Friday is my first official day on the books. I might come home this weekend and chill with Mom and Dad for a night or two. Until I start meeting more people down here, I get a bit lonely.

On a side note, BIG KUDOS to my driver, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and his Brew Crew today--they had an awesome car, and it's such a shame that the lug nut gun broke in a late pitstop. If he'd only had 10 more laps, he would have caught Matt Kenseth and taken the win. Still, it was great to see the red Bud car out front a lot today, and Junior managed to get a 6th place finish--not bad at all.

And that's it for now!



Saturday, August 19, 2006

Land of the Fleshy, and the Home of the Big

Second update today, but I just had to write down a few observations.

Always Low Prices, Always a Big Headache

Let's face it, I'm a Target girl, but I needed a throw for the back of my sofa and Target didn't have what I wanted. So tonight I set off for WalMart, to brave the crowds and mess.

I almost ran screaming when I turned down an aisle in housewares only to find two enormous flats stacked about eight feet high with boxes of merchandise waiting to be put out. Some nimrod had left them there on a peak shopping day, so that you can't even pass through with a shopping cart. Gah! I had to slither my way through just to see if they had any throws in that aisle (they didn't).

I did eventually find a nice blue throw at a nice price ($16); it will do the job I need it to do--namely hide an unsightly zipper on one of my sofa cushions. While there I also picked up a package of Swiffer refills (don't know what a Swiffer is? Best invention since sliced bread--that baby picks up more hair off the floor than any broom ever will).

Anyway, I made it through WalMart with minimal headache, and then relaxed for a while at one of my favorite stores on the planet: Barnes and Noble Booksellers. After a lovely bit of time browsing through stacks and stacks of books (the first thing I do when I walk into a bookstore is take a big deep breath through my nose, savoring the very smell of the place). I bought a map of California and Bill Bryson's tale of European travel, "Neither Here Nor There."

That lovely interlude finished, I was on my way home...with one quick stop at WinCo.

Hence the Title

I managed to make it through the store with little incident, notwithstanding come very close to running over some little brat whose mother was...well, who knows where she was and what she was doing, but her little beastie was dancing in front of my cart with wild abandon.

I uttered a sharp, teacher-ish, "Excuse me!!" Most children would quake in their shoes and run away, but this one just gave me an absent-minded, "It's okay!" before running off to some woman who is, presumably, his mother. Not that she noticed his presence.

Anyway, I digress. What got me to boot up my computer and post a second blog today was what I encountered at the checkout stand.

Let me first list the contents of my shopping cart:

Romaine lettuce
A can of olives
Feta Cheese
A carton of orange juice (not the artificial kind, mind you)
A bottle of mineral water
A package of Skinny Cow ice cream sandwiches (a low calorie snack that is actually quite satisfying).

Pretty healthy, I'm sure you'll agree. Not exceedingly healthy, but mostly natural food products and nothing that's going to make me 300 pounds in any hurry.

The woman in front of me, however, had a cart full of crap. She was obviously on a tight budget, as she kept asking the check-out girl to keep her apprised of the total. I've always marvelled what people on low budgets buy. In all of her stuff (and she had a whole cart filled up), she had, from what I could see, one item from the produce section. The rest of her cart was filled to bursting with several 2-liter soda bottles, several gallon jugs of that 85% sugar fruit punch crap, Mac 'N Cheese, etc. The woman herself was obviously not in her best mode--she had a serious case of "builder's bum" (I saw more of her backside than I ever wanted to) and she was wearing bedroom slippers on her feet. It wasn't pretty.

Because she had a lot of stuff, I had a few minutes to stand and wait after unloading my own purchases onto the conveyer. Another woman pulled her cart up behind me and started unloading. I took a look.

At least 8 Banquet microwave dinners
Four boxes of Mac 'N Cheese
Two frozen pizzas
Two bags of chips

There were various other things but I couldn't see one healthy option. Not a fruit or vegetable to be found.

Is this what people are really feeding their children? Sometimes I get a very big urge to shake these people and scream at them, "You are killing your children! Diabetes! Heart Disease! Obesity! Poor concentration! Hyperactivity! Why? Why? WHY????"

Instead, I minded my own business. But it got me thinking: I had some Mac 'N Cheese the other day and you know, it wasn't all that satisfying. My stomach was full, yes, but my brain was thinking, "That's it? That was no fun." I can't begin to imagine eating that kind of crap all the time. Seriously! I would be constantly sick. I've truly reached a point in my life where I'd rather have a bowl of home-made soup and a big, fresh salad for dinner than anything else. Face it, it's cheap to buy the ingredients, it's easy to make...well, there's some preparation involved but I tend to wash and chop all of my veggies, put them in food storage containers, and just grab what I need when I need it.

It's not that time-consuming. I find it very easy to stay within budget. My meals are satisfying and very, very tasty because the food is fresh and good for me. I simply don't understand why other people think it's cheaper and easier to feed their children so much crap. I never will.

But, as ever, I just mind my own business, and eat my vegetables.

Bring On the Brits

Now that my apartment is sparkling clean--the first good scrub I've given the place since moving in--I can relax and enjoy the rest of my Saturday. I've been wanting to make a list of my favorite British movies for a while now, so here they are:

1. Bend it Like Beckham
Who's In It? Mostly actors of Indian descent, like the wonderful Parminder Nagra, who was born and raised in England. Also stars Kiera Knightley and the wonderful Juliet Stevenson.

This one is about an Indian family living in London, and the challenges they face when the youngest daughter, Jess, wants to be a footballer, not one of the more accepted roles for young women of Indian descent. But while made by an Indian woman, the movie is set in Britain, and has a decidedly British feel to it, and even a famous British soccer player in the title. It is a lovely little film, with plenty of laugh-out-loud moments and some amazing imagery comparing the two worlds that the family lives in. Parminder Nagra is lovely as Jess, torn between the Indian culture of her birth and the English culture that surrounds her. And her parents, while strict and very hesitant to let her play soccer, are not portrayed as "the bad guys." Jess sums it up perfectly: "This is taking me away from everything they know."

2. Love Actually
Who's In It? A complete Who's Who of British actors--and simply too many to list them all. So I'll list the best of the lot: Bill Nighy, Colin Firth, Emma Thompson, Alan Rickman, Liam Neeson (he's from Northern Ireland, so still technically British!), and mustn't forget Hugh Grant.

It's not a perfect film; it does have it's flaws. Still, it is easily better than it would have been if it had been done by Americans in say, a New York City setting. Love Actually follows several interwoven storylines about love--romantic love, unrequited love, grieving love, broken-hearted love, familial love--and all of the accompanying emotions that come with it. The movie aims to prove, in the words of Hugh Grant, that, "love, actually is all around."

It also provides some fantastic musical and comedic moments. Who can forget Bill Nighy's character changing the words of his song, "Love is All Around" to "Christmas is All Around?" Or the little girl belting out "All I Want For Christmas Is You" (a moment that was later imitated by yours truly at an English high school's Christmas Karaoke)?

In the end, the movie is simply uplifting and adorable, even with its flaws...and I just have to add that I love Martine McCutcheon's role in it--she's a real talent.

3. The Full Monty
Who's In It? Robert Carlyle, Mark Addy and Tom Wilkinson are the three biggest names. These are guys you've seen around but you don't know who they are. That's a shame, it really is, because they're fantastic.

The Full Monty is classic. When the Chippendale dancers come to the dying steel town where Gaz (Carlyle) and Dave (Addy) live, the two unemployed men wonder what it is about these guys that gets every woman in town to the show. Carlyle, a divorced father with a cash-flow problem, gets the grand idea that he and Dave should start their own strip show to raise money.

They recruit four other down-and-out men and the hilarity ensues as six not-so-fit men rehearse their moves and decide whether or not to go "the full monty" (read: completely naked).

Despite the title and the premise, there's very little nudity--just a few pasty white bums here and there. I recommend using the subtitles feature, too, as this movie is set in Northern England, where the accent is quite thick.

4. Billy Elliot
Who's In It? The absolutely delightful young Jamie Bell, who received a lot of acclaim for this role, and rightly so. It also stars Julie Walters (you might know her as Molly Weasely?).

Billy Elliot is a wonderful film about a 12-year-old boy living in a mining town in Northern England. One week while attending boxing class, he spies Mrs. Wilkinson's ballet class and decides to give it a go. Before long he realizes that he loves to dance, much to the chagrin of his macho father and older brother, both of whom are caught up in a vicious union strike at the mines.

Again, use your subtitles for this one, as the thick northern accents and language can be hard for American ears to follow. You'll cheer for Billy--he's truly adorable and wonderfully portrayed. Also, take a look at Adam Cooper, who plays Billy as an adult--he's a dancer at London's Sadler's Wells, and I once got to see him perform. : )

5. Four Weddings and a Funeral
Who's In It? This is the movie that brought Hugh Grant to our attention, but there are other notable Brits on the cast, including Kristin Scott Thomas and the inimitable Rowan Atkinson (Mr. Bean!).

A group of British friends attend, you guessed it, four weddings and a funeral over the course of a few years. At the first, Charles (Grant) meets charming American Carrie, (the so-gorgeous-I-want-to-slap-her Andie MacDowell) and lust ensues. Eventually, the lust turns into love, but there are a few barriers to their eventual happiness--namely, she's marrying a rich older man.

There is enough drama mixed with dry British wit to make this movie a classic--and it's always nice to see Hugh Grant and remind myself why I always thought he was cute (he just hasn't aged well; if you've seen Bridget Jones' Diary, you must agree).

6. Sense and Sensibility
Who's In It? Good ole Hugh, Alan Rickman and Emma Thompson, as well as the always delightful, someone-once-said-I-look-like-her Kate Winslet. Other notables are Gemma Jones (who also brilliantly plays Bridget Jones' mum in both movies) and Hugh Laurie (now very famous in the U.S. for playing Dr. House).

Okay, yes, this movie was directed by Ang Lee, who is from Taiwan. But the setting is England and the actors are English (none of this "Learn a Bad British Accent 101" that American actors seem to love to do). And the story--well, it's Jane Austen. Enough said. I admit to being less than comfortably familiar with the book, but I believe most of the important plot points are present in the movie, and it is acted beautifully.

Elinor and Marianne are sisters who are close, yet very different. Their father's recent death and the entailment of his estate to their half brother and his greedy, snobby wife have left them destitute and forced to rely on the charity of distant family.

Of course, just because a girl is poor doesn't mean she can't find love, and both girls endure the highs and lows of courtship, rejection, duty, and honor to reach the ultimate goal: marriage to a respectable gentleman.

Come to think of it, I have never seen a movie with Emma or Kate that I didn't end up liking.

7. Pride and Prejudice (BBC version)
Who's In It? This is another Who's Who of Excellent British Actors: The ever-so-dreamy Colin Firth, Jennifer Ehle (I saw her on stage with Kevin Spacey), Barbara Leigh-Hunt, David Bamber, and Julia Sawalha are just a few.

It is a truth universally acknowledged that this is the only version of Pride and Prejudice worth watching (well, if you're me, my mom, Kathy or Heather).

Kiera Knightley, eat your heart out.

When I saw a movie poster in England that advertised Kiera as Lizzie Bennet in an upcoming movie of Pride and Prejudice, I almost passed out. She's not the most terrific actress (though I love her in Bend it Like Beckham) and I'm sorry, she does not have the chops to pull off Lizzie Bennett! I haven't seen her version, on the advice of fellow P&P/Colin Firth devotee Heather, and I probably never will.

In 1995, the BBC in England and A&E in the U.S. aired a six-part series of Pride and Prejudice. My mom and I watched it and we loved, loved, LOVED it. I honestly believe that we will never see a better version of the movie made--at least not in my lifetime. Colin Firth was born to play Mr. Darcy. Jennifer Ehle truly has Lizzie's sparkling, "fine eyes." Barbara Leigh-Hunt is downright fearsome in the role of Lady Catherine de Bourgh. Julia Sawalha is fantastic as youngest sister Lydia, the bratty, silly, stupid girl who elopes with dashing but unscrupulous Mr. Wickham. David Bamber is perfectly greasy and obsequious as Mr. Collins. I could go on and on.

Is it obvious that Pride and Prejudice is my favorite of Jane Austen's books?

8. Shakespeare in Love
Who's In It? Joseph Fiennes with his brown eyes you could drown in, American Gwyneth Paltrow (who actually pulls off a convincing accent), Colin Firth, Tom Wilkinson, and the legendary Dame Judi Dench (as Queen Elizabeth, no less!).

We're taking some major liberties with Shakespeare's life here, but I, for one, am glad they did. The movie follows his serious bout of writer's block and his romance with the beautiful Viola, a bored young woman betrothed to the nasty Lord Wessex (Colin Firth being delightfully villanous). Viola wants to act the famous words of William Shakespeare; Will himself is quite flattered and the writer's block is lifted. Of course, their love cannot last--he is married to Anne Hathaway and she is engaged. Thus, his comedy "Romeo and Ethyl the Pirate's Daughter" becomes the tragic, legendary, "Romeo and Juliet."

Hey, it's not Shakespeare (sorry!) but it's still a fabulous little movie.


Those are most of my favorites, along with the Harry Potter franchise. : )

Now I find myself really hungry and in need of some hot tea, so I'll sign off.



Friday, August 18, 2006


I was chatting with my mom on the phone last night and talking about my first day at the new job--a New Teacher Orientation on the 25th. The letter I received told us to come a bit early to meet the other new teachers in the district. I told Mom, "I'll do that, and maybe I'll make a friend or two. I just know that I have to look at this situation like I looked at my first few days in England. I have to be outgoing and friendly, or people won't talk to me." Mom replied, "I know you can do it, Megs. You're irresistible!"

Yes, there is some unwritten law that states Moms are supposed to find their kids irresistible, but I think that law expires when the kid hits puberty. So I thought it was a lovely compliment and a small boost to my confidence as I rush, head first, into yet another new job.

I certainly have plenty to talk about. Here's just a few things on my mind of late.

Talk About My Worst Nightmare

They really ought to stop airing previews of the movie "Snakes on a Plane." Just the title of the movie is enough to make me stand on my chair and shriek like a little girl. Good God! It's bad enough that this movie is yet another of the "who-cares-about-quality-let's-just-make-some-money" Hollywood films that will bring people to the theatres, but really, there are a lot of people who will get the heebie-jeebies just knowing about this movie.

It's not like I'm going to get on a plane one of these days and start hyperventilating over the possibility that we have crazy cobras and pissed-off pythons on board, because I really do know better, but...blech. That's the only word that comes to mind.

Speaking of the Quality/Quantity Issue

I'm not a big TV watcher, but I have been watching a lot of my DVDs of late. I find that after a busy day, sitting down with soup and a salad and a good movie is a nice way to end my day. I've been on a decidedly British movie kick--simply because I don't think I've ever seen a British movie that wasn't very, very well done.

British (and Irish) actors are truly some of the best out there. Think about it: Emma Thompson, Kate Winslet, Colin Firth, Jennifer Ehle, Alan Rickman, Bill Nighy, Julie Walters, Maggie Smith, Fiona Shaw, John Cleese, Gary Oldman, Jason Isaacs, Keneth Branagh, Shirley Henderson, Sir Ian McKellan, Miranda Richardson, Ralph Fiennes, Joseph Fiennes, Robert Carlyle, Tom Wilkinson, Mark Addy, Gemma Jones, Liam Neeson...the list goes on and on! Even most of their younger actors--Jamie Bell, Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, Rupert Grint, and Thomas Sangster, to name a few--are marvelous! Don't know who some of these people are? Check out the Internet Movie Database.

Anyway, what I'm getting at is that the Brits really do know how to make a good movie. I'm going to have to do a blog about it soon.

Gah! Double Gah!!

I have to take more freakin' classes this year. Turns out that in California, you get a preliminary credential at first, and you must "clear" it before it expires, in order to keep teaching.

So off I go to National University again, to take some online courses (fortunately, I only need three) so that by the time my credential expires next July, I will have cleared it so that it can be re-issued.

You know, doctors and lawyers go through a lot of schooling, then they go out and make boatloads of money. Teachers go through 5-6 years of university, often a master's degree, and then have to take various courses and tedious trainings for the rest of their lives. I've been teaching for four years now--hardly just starting out, here--and I'll be making a whopping $39,328 dollars a year. And that's before Uncle Sam gets his greedy hands on it. If I'm going to be paying so much tax money to California and the U.S. of A., can't they at least see fit to re-pave highway 12 so that when I drive between my place and Mom and Dad's place I don't rattle my teeth out of my head?

Drowing in Paper

Excellent news! Aside from a couple of papers we are waiting for from my former employers, I am finished with just about everything that the personnel department needs! Woohoo! Even my LiveScan (fingerprinting) cleared in a very timely manner. Yesterday, the lady in charge of getting all of my stuff put together stuck a sticky-note on my file that says, "Good!" This means that I'm good to go--they can let me in the classroom. ; )

Comin' Together

A couple days ago, I actually saw the surface of my dining room table! It was a big moment, and, unfortunately, a short-lived one. I'm still finding homes for random things, but this place is more and more organized by the day. I'm very pleased with it. I've finally unpacked and sorted all of my CDs, and found more places to hang pictures and whatnot. I have a lot of windows, so it makes it hard to find room to hang many of my pictures.

Millie Joyful

Millie's doing well, but I fear that she's a bit bored. Her toys don't seem to interest her; instead, she likes to get into things, like my purse, which she seems to know will bring Mommy running. It's like having a toddler--she's screaming for my attention. If I sit on the sofa or my bed for any length of time, she's there, desperately butting her head against me and meowing. It's sweet, but it can get a bit annoying if I'm tyring to, say, balance a tray of food on my lap.

There's no way around it, folks. I think Millie needs a playmate. Of course, we'll have to wait a few months, but I can really see myself getting another kitty.

Notes on a Funny Author

I re-read "Notes From a Small Island" by Bill Bryson this week, and laughed so hard I decided to also re-read "I'm a Stranger Here Myself" (a series of essay he did for a British newspaper about his return to the U.S. after over 20 years of living in England).

I just have to take a moment to encourage all of you to read one of his books. "A Walk in the Woods" (think fat, out-of-shape, middle-aged guy hiking the Appalachian Trail) is definitely a good one to start with. You might also enjoy "In a Sun-Burned Country" (in Britain known as "Down Under") about his adventures in Australia. I'm thinking of going to the book store today and grabbing "Neither Here Nor There," which chronicles Europe from Norway to Istanbul.

Right, it's noon and I haven't showered. I have some stuff to take care of and then it's a lazy afternoon/evening for Meg. Happy Friday, everyone!


Meg (the Irresistible).

Sunday, August 13, 2006

August 13th (My "Real" Birthday)

Well, settle in with some tea and a biscuit--this is going to be a lengthy update. : )

What's That Title Mean?

Right. I was born at 8:00 in the morning (Central time) on August 12, 1978. That is my birthday, according to my birth certificate (and the woman who would know--my mother).

At 10 years of age, I was required to get my first military ID card to get in and out of certain parts of the nearby base. Even though Dad had retired a couple of years before I hit 10, we still shopped at the Base Exchange and Commissary every month. I was bursting with 10-year-old pride to get my first ID card. It seemed like a great rite-of-passage, especially as my brother had been in possession of his own card for 7 years by then.

Dad took me to the ID place on base and filled out the necessary forms. To this day I still don't know if it was a brain fart or his idea of a cute joke, but he listed my birthday as August 13!! I had to wait four years, until it was time to renew my card, to change this.

Even now, 18 years later, Dad still likes to say that August 13 is my actual birthday.


Yay! Pictures!

I tried to upload these few pictures to my Picturetrail account but it doesn't work so well with dial-up (gah!). I've gotten pretty spoiled with Mom and Dad's DSL. Anyway, I'm still at their place so I uploaded some recent pictures to share with you all.

Here's my living room, with the furniture that finally arrived on Thursday:

I'm going to turn the rug to be angled with the furniture...eventually.

The view to the telly (I was watching "Anne of Green Gables" at the time):

Millie approves:

I really like it--it looks great in my place and is quite comfortable, too. So far I've mostly used the couch for lounging, but the chair is great, too.

The Headlines I've Missed!

With all the craziness of moving, etc. I've been lax about reading the headlines on the World Wide Weird section of the Australian online. Today alone I read of a klepto lobster, a drunken goat abduction, a penguin rescue on a Texas highway, and a very virile 88-year old man.

And I'm holding out big-time hope on the "anti-stupidity pill" that a scientist is working on. I think we all know people who could benefit.

What a crazy, wonderful world we live in!

A Most Satisfactory Birthday

Last night I met Heather and her boyfriend Art at Streets of London pub in Sacramento. We had a lovely time eating pub food and chatting about anything and everything. As we left, our friend Pam was just arriving (we'd been unsure if she'd be able to make it), so the four of us set off for Heather and Art's place to have cake and ice cream and watch "Sixteen Candles" (Classic 80s movies was one topic at dinner).

It was lovely to see some of my friends. I'm sorry we couldn't have a bigger group but there were a few high school reunions going on this weekend.

Mom and Dad gave me a few very-much-needed kitchen items (some towels and a lovely trivet that matches my napkin holder, etc.) Mom took me shopping at Old Navy and Target. At Old Navy I got a few cute tops that I will be able to wear to work this fall. At Target she bought me some gorgeous blue canisters to match the other kitchen stuff (she wasn't sure I'd want them when she bought the other stuff) and some food storage containers.

Today we met some long-time family friends, Don and Norine at Hop Sing in Folsom. They are the BEST Chinese restaurant. In all our travels over the last couple of years, Mom, Dad and I have not been able to find Chinese food we love as much as Hop Sing's. It'd been over two years since I'd been there--and it was every bit as good as I remembered.

The Purring Furries

Millie did alright on the drive to Lincoln yesterday. She mostly slept or sat quietly, meowing only when the sun got in her face or the music stopped suddenly (like Mama, like kitty?).

The Kindergatos didn't seem phased at all, and Duchess, after sniffing Millie's bottom, promptly pushed the bathroom door open while I was taking care of business. Ahh, it's good to be home. : P

She also slept on my bed all night, curled up next to my hip. She's been warming up to Mom and Dad since I've moved out, but still really seems to love me. Millie gets a little jealous, but when we're in our apartment, she knows she's my Number One.

The good news is they're all very used to each other, and Millie is comfortable in this house and with my parents. Visiting is a breeze.

Antioch Pictures

I'm thinking about starting a second blog--about California. But for now, my pics go up here in the blog. I'm too lazy to make a video tonight, so I uploaded some recent pics to my Picturetrail account. Here's a short lesson on Antioch and the Sacramento River Delta.

The Delta (pretty impressive, eh?):

On this picture you can see Antioch (click on the link for the Delta above, then on the picture itself, for a larger version).

So here's the Sacramento River, as seen from Antioch:

Looking West:

Looking East (towards the massive Antioch Bridge):

Some pretty pictures:

Looking towards Historic Downtown Antioch:

The old theater in the downtown area:

Incidentally, a search of Wikipedia yielded some interesting facts about my new school. And one more little bit of cool info...I can see Mount Diablo from just about anywhere in Antioch. Remember my recent slideshow for Daryl? The little mountain in those pics is Mount Diablo. Which, apparently, is a pretty cool little feature. Note to self: explore one of these days.

What a Weekend!

It's been a great weekend, but I have to drive back to Antioch tomorrow. I've got stuff to do in the apartment and a new job to get ready for. It's going to be a busy, busy year.

Thanks to everyone who sent birthday wishes my way!



Saturday, August 12, 2006

Happy Birthday to Meeeee!!

Sorry, I had to do it. : P

Yes, dear readers, today is my birthday. I am 28 years young. I am blessed with good health and a wonderful network of family and friends. I am owned by the World's Cutest Calico. Tonight I will eat authentic English pub food.

Life is good!

Thursday, August 10, 2006

I Think I'm In Love!

Today is a lazy day, so I hopped in my car and drove to my local Hollywood Videos to look for something to watch. My furniture finally arrived (looks great!) and I wanted to celebrate by watching something good.

The original plan was to find the second "Anne of Green Gables" movie (having just finished watching the first) but the store did not have it. I really am going to have to buy it eventually...Anyway, I almost decided to leave, but instead I went to the "Classics" section to have a look.

I ended up renting "Sabrina" and "The Big Sleep," because, after my recent initiation into watching Humphrey Bogart and Audrey Hepburn movies, I want to see more.

I made a pot of tea and sat down to watch "Sabrina."

I loved it! What a charming, lovely movie. Audrey Hepburn is adorable, and Bogey is absolutely divine, as well.

I don't know why I haven't seen more of the classics--for a long time, I was stupidly turned off by the black-and-white picture or the lack of decent effects. But I have grown up, and I can't tell you how lovely it is to watch a movie that revolves around plot, wit, and a refreshing lack of explosions, nudity and gratuitous sex scenes.

So yes, I think I'm in love...with Bogey, Hepburn and classic movies. I'd write more but I really need to fix a salad for dinner and settle in with Bogey and Bacall in "The Big Sleep."

Thank You, Britain

I'm still processing what I've just read, so I really don't have much to say other than that.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Without Further Ado...

Finally, some pics of my apartment!

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I woke up yesterday to the delightful discovery of a few hundred ants trailing from my dishwasher across the kitchen to Millie's food tray. All plans to stop by the school and the district office flew out the window while I grabbed the vaccuum cleaner (hey, it kills them as it sucks them up) and got to work. A few hours later, I had washed my countertops with a solution of Mr. Clean and hot water, and sprayed Clorox Clean-Up around the dishwasher.

To be safe, I made a special trip to WinCo for some window (WinDo?) cleaner. I talked to Heather last week, and she told me her exterminator reccommended it in combating ants--something about eliminating the pheremone trail they leave behind when they are stealing cat food and whatever else they can get their scissor-like mandibles on.

This is how I came to find myself on my hands and knees on the kitchen floor, with a rag in one hand and a bottle of window cleaner in the other, scrubbing linoleum row by row and feeling decidedly itchy and bad-tempered.

That finished, I spent an enjoyable enough evening, watching movies, making a home-made veggie-loaded pizza and ever-so-carefully cleaning up after myself. I figured I probably hadn't ended the ant problem, but I certainly had it well in hand.

I woke up this morning to find another few hundred (possibly thousands?) ants on my kitchen floor, following the exact same path they were taking yesterday--straight to Millie's food.

I almost cried.

But instead of crying, I pulled out my trusty vaccuum cleaner and started hoovering the little suckers up. I sprayed window cleaner at the source--my dishwasher--and washed Millie's food and water dishes in hot soapy water. Her food now resides on the dryer in my laundry room, in the hopes that this will solve part of the problem.

And so, my friends, I am off to the manager's office to borrow some bug spray, and then to the grocery store for some ant traps. Dad reccommended I buy two. I'll buy four. I'm perfectly well aware that I will never entirely eliminate ants from my home--but they're certainly going to get the battle of the century from me!

Monday, August 07, 2006

Looking a Gift Horse in the Mouth

I know it's taboo to discuss gift-giving when it pertains to gifts given to oneself, but I simply can't stay quiet on this...especially as I have a birthday on Saturday, and, to top it all off, I've been unpacking boxes upon boxes upon boxes of stuff in the last week.

Have you ever noticed at work every Christmas, you get all kinds of useless little knick-knacks and other crap? You take one look at it and think, "It's not my style, I'll never use it, I would not have bought it for myself..." and then you paste a smile on your face and give the giver a bright, "Thank you! I love it!"

It happens to me every year--especially working in a school, where we all seem to think that it's necessary to exchange cutesey little pieces of garbage every year. I don't know how many times I've ended up sticking things in the charity box because I simply have no need, use or space for these things. Harsh? Yes. But really, I can't keep it all!

Fortunately, my friends and family give me things they know I'll like. After all, you do know my hobbies, interests and style better than anyone. But I've got stuff coming out of my ears, threatening to take over my life just keeping it clean and organized.

And so, my friends, I am asking for a moratorium on gift-giving. I do not want birthday presents and Christmas presents. If you want to remember me on a special occasion, a card with a heart-felt message will do. Feel like you must spend money on me?

--Take me out for lunch or dinner. I'd much rather have dinner out (or even a simple meal you've cooked!) and an hour or two of chatting with you, than some little knick-knack I'll just have to dust later.

--Donate ten bucks to a charity I am passionate about (Susan G. Komen, Victory Junction Gang, or Humane Society are my favorites). Knowing that your gift to me will help others would be an honor.

I have been thinking about this a lot lately as I open box after box of stuff, wondering how and when I accumulated so much of it...and how in the world I'm going to display/store/take care of it all.

Take my Snoopy collection. Most of it is really my fault, as I've never been able to resist buying any Snoopy item I see. Because of this, I have more than I know what to do with. I hate keeping it packed up in boxes, but I simply do not have the room to display most of it--and besides, I want my apartment to be a little bit more "adult" in its decor.

It's gotten so bad that I didn't feel particularly bad when I found a few antique Snoopy glasses broken last week. My first thought was, "Ahh, I won't have to find a place for these!"

The good news is I am turning over a new leaf--I have passed up more Snoopy stuff in stores this last year or so than I ever have. I don't have to own every bit of Snoopy memorabilia out there--I'm learning to focus on items that are special and valuable to me. This means weeding out things I bought on a whim and keeping the truly unique items--my mug collection (which was Aaron's when we were children), the antique toys and banks, and the plushes I've accumulated from childhood on.

I got chatting with Heather months ago about this very topic, and we both agreed that the gift-giving in our lives is getting out of hand. We agreed to cut out the stress and insanity and exchange Christmas ornaments last Christmas. It was great--less expensive to ship, easy to store with our holiday stuff, and every time I pull out that little "shopper girl" ornament, I'll smile, think of all the fun I've had shopping with Heather, and lovingly hang it on my tree.

Because really, my friends, your friendship and your time will always mean much more to me than any material object you could ever find.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Now I'm Up and Running

I've got Internet! Three months free, even. This means that I've got iTunes, and that sometime in the next few days, I can put up some new pictures of my place. I've had a few people mention that they'd love to see what it looks like.

It looks GREAT, that's what. The living room is still a bit empty because I don't yet have my furniture (Tuesday or Wednesday), but I have almost everything unpacked, including my Grandma Bean's china, which Mom has given me.

Yesterday I sorted out my storage closet. I have a small closet right outside the front door, but it holds a surprising amount of stuff--all of my holiday decorations (three large boxes of Christmas stuff, alone), my old Cabbage Patch Kid dolls (lovingly packed away in a storage tote), and my suitcases.

Mom and Dad came to see me today. They brought a few things that got mixed in with their stuff in the move from Washington, and took a few things of their own home (I had a lid to a box, Mom and Dad had the box--crazy stuff like that). They helped me center and hang a few of my pictures, took me to lunch, and Dad brought me an old phone of theres with caller ID on it.

So I'm settling in. I get a teensy bit lonely sometimes, but I know once school starts, I'll be meeting people and enjoying my busy life (and what downtime I get to sit in my cute little apartment with my kitty, my computer, and my cable TV).

Plus, the apartment complex is not filled yet, so I'll be getting new neighbors all the time, I'm sure.

This week I will stop by the school and the district office to check up on things and put some things in my classroom. Then there's this weekend, when I'll celebrate 28 years and possibly the Folsom High School All-Class reunion (but still not going to that dreadful Class of '96 reunion--gah!).

For now, though, it's time to get ready for bed. Millie's standing on her back feet with her front feet on my leg, looking at me like, "Well? Attention, please!" (She's doing just fine, by the way--settling in more and more every day).



Thursday, August 03, 2006

Got Sleep?

I didn't! Well, not as much as I needed, anyway.

The apartment is fine. I felt safe and secure, and I don't have obnoxious lights shining in my face or anything. The bed is fine, the pillows are fine. I was certainly ready for sleep. Everything was fine, and the stars were alligned in such a way that I was almost guaranteed 8 straigh hours of uninterrupted, no-need-to-get-up-and-pee sleep.

Except for one thing.


I love my cat, I really do. She's an absolute doll and the sweetest little girl. She's also completely freaked out right now, and I don't blame her for that. But I'm telling you, at 4:30 in the morning, when she's crying in the kitchen and I'm trying to sleep, it's not pretty.

I ignored her at first, but then started to worry that she might be caught in something or hurt in some way. So, good mommy that I am, I got up to check. She hopped on the counter and head-butted me, purring and meowing. Nothing wrong with her, she just needed reassurance. I told her, "next time you need reassurance, hop up on the bed with me and cuddle." She either didn't hear me or chose to ignore me. Probably the latter because we all know who really runs our household.

Anyway, I spent much of the rest of the wee hours of my morning pointedly ignoring my crying cat (she knows where I am) and trying to fall asleep again. I did, for about an hour-and-a-half or so. Needless to say, it took a long shower and a lot of time to get myself up and running.

Now I'm off to get another bookcase at Target. One just isn't going to cut it. I have a lot of books and music books.

So I'm off!



Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Well, the Bathroom's All Set Up...

And all of my clothes are where they should be. So it's a great start. Here's how my day's been:

Early Start

I was on the road by about 8:15, and made it to the apartment a little before 10:00. The drive wasn't too bad, and Millie did okay. Mostly she only cried when the sun was in her face, so I covered that part of her cage with a T-shirt I had nearby.


The first thing I managed to do when I opened the passenger side door of my car to get Millie out was to bang the tip of my right middle finger between the door and a metal pole. Every naughty word I know ran through my head but my mouth was paralyzed in an expression of agony and dismay. My fingernail rapidly turned purple. I managed to keep from crying, and kept all of my naughty words to myself, instead only muttering, "Oh. God. Ouch. Oh. God. That. Hurts." in front of Dad and his friend John (who had seen and heard the impact and was saying sympathetic, "ooohs" and "ahhs").

I Shall Go On

I kept going all day, though, even though my finger still freakin' hurts like the devil, and we managed to get the truck unloaded, the bed put together, the kitchen table and entertainment center put together all by 1:00, and that was with a break for lunch.

At 1:00, Dad and John climbed in the U-Haul, Mom into the Tribute, and they were off, leaving me to sit on my bed staring at the ceiling for a few minutes before dragging my tired butt up and unloading a few boxes.

That First Shower's Gonna Be Bliss

I started with the bathroom because there's not much to it, and it will be important for me to have access to deodorant, contact solution, shampoo, etc. I found my decorative bathroom stuff (packed in boxes since Washington) and that room is now completely finished, except for two wall hangings that need to go up.

Next I tackled the closet. All of my hanging clothes were in two boxes: one of winter clothing I carefully folded and packed in WA, and one of everything on hangers, hastily shoved in last night. All of these things are now hanging (organized by length of sleeves, etc.) in the closet. Now, if only I could find my shoes...

So Sad...

I moved on to my kitchen after this, and unpacked three boxes. I stuck all of my pots and pans in the dishwasher (there's a leak, but the maintenance guy's going to go out and fix it this afternoon). I unpacked countless Snoopy mugs and glasses (collector's items). Sadly, one mug and two glasses were broken. They've been in boxes for about 5 years, so it's no surprise, really, though a little sad for me. At least the glasses were duplicates in my collection, though the mug was not, and it goes back to my childhood--the collection belonged to Aaron long before it belonged to me.


I have all the makings of a nice salad in my fridge, but I do not have the energy (or counter space) to clean lettuce, chop veggies, etc. So dinner is going to be from Baja Fresh (just across the road!) after I run to Target for some ice cube trays and a silverware tray, as well. But first, I had to report my leak and come to the "business center" of the apartment complex, where there is free internet access for residents. Until I have my own set up at home, this will do.

What's Next?

What's next is my errands, followed by dinner, a looooong shower, and BED. Mom made my bed up for me with just-washed sheets, so it will be lovely.

I get my cable TV set up tomorrow, my phone will be hooked up on Friday, and hopefully, my new furniture (sofa, chair and ottoman) will be here on Saturday. I'm already making great progress on unpacking, so I figure by two weeks from now, I'll be settled in and focusing on the upcoming school year.

Right, I'm Hungry

So I'm signing off.



Tuesday, August 01, 2006

For Daryl (Who Wanted Pics of Cali)...

: )

Okay, I've been back in California for six weeks, and a few times now, my friend Daryl (in England) has been asking for pics of California. So this is for you, Daryl, a collection of pictures I took between Lincoln and Antioch today, as Mom drove. The quality isn't the best on some because they were pretty much all taken from a moving car. Occasionally I rolled the window down, but sometimes you get a fetching reflection of my knees or my hand.

It's not very exciting, but it's all I've got at the moment.

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