Sunday, May 24, 2020

Pictures From Isolation (Part 3)

Some people have been keeping track of how long they've been isolated at home. I lost track after the first week. Does time even exist anymore?

I suppose it does, because I've been taking pictures every day. I'm hanging in there, and very glad that school is out after this coming week. I need a mental vacation.

I found this in my Facebook memories, and
gah...the memories. I miss her so damned
much. I was so lucky to have her.

Because I never get tired of taking pictures of these cuties.

My mandevilla is absolutely gorgeous right now. So many
blooms coming, one after the other.

My local Fleet Feet has it all set up for contact-less ordering
and pick-up. I ordered online, got a text that the shoes were
in stock, paid by phone, and called again as I was pulling up
outside. One of the ladies working, ran out, tossed them in my
trunk for me, and called, "Thank you SO much for your
business!" I called back, "I'm so glad you're open!!" 

I planted these wildflower seeds a couple months ago, and
they are flowering all over now. 

I was chatting on the phone with Dad, sitting my chair on the
balcony, when I realized I had a hibiscus bud. The plant has
been looking a bit wan, and I was worried it was dying.

Striped petunias. 

My parade roses starting to open up. 

Popcorn has taken to sleeping on top of the throw pillows on
the sofa when my lap gets too warm, or I'm sprawled in a way
that he can't curl up on me. 

He makes a good pillow. 

I wore a dress and put on mascara a few days ago. I was asked
to sing a song (on video) for our 5th and 8th grade promotion
ceremony (which will be broadcast on screen at a drive-in
movie theater). I sang "Try Everything" by Shakira. 

I have wanted a Dyson for YEARS. They are awesome vacuums,
and they are spendy, so I never splurged, until this week. I saw
an ad for a Memorial Day sale, and had heard recently that
the company has done right by it's employees in this pandemic.
So I bought myself a Dyson and's love.

Finally finished off the Marvel movies, with Avengers:
Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame. Both really good (and
sad). Popcorn? Not interested. 

Perhaps a hint that it's time to eat? Or maybe that they want
grilled mouse and catnip salad for dinner? 

The middle school electives team was tasked with creating
an image that sums up our school year. Note the grimace. The
year was perfectly fine, of course, until all of this happened.
And yeah, Jambarific Chipootles. If you have to ask, you'll
never know.

My happy, snoozy, adorable, tubba-chubba-love, Archie. 

Popcorn attended my Zoom Book Club with me this week.

It had to be done. I went to Lowe's for more flowers. I had to
get my hands in some soil. 

Dad gave me the welcome froggy, "to welcome your phrog
phriends back." I adore it.

Yes, I'm aware foxglove are poisonous. The dudes don't go on
the balcony because one of them, anyway (cough, cough,
Popcorn), likes to chew on plants. 

I did some major Garden Therapy yesterday. Planted four
new plants, rearranged everything so it all fits, swept up the
mess on the floor, and did a bunch of pruning and dead-heading.

On Saturday evening, Sarah, Julia, and I played an online
Cards Against Humanity while on Zoom together. Hilarious.

Thursday, May 14, 2020


For a week now, I've been in the process of watching the entire catelogue of Marvel movies.

I am not, usually, a big comic-book-turned-movie person, but I figured I might as well give it a go because:

  1. Self-isolation means I have a ton of extra time on my hands.
  2. I have Disney+ and have already binge-watched "The Mandalorian."
  3. I recently read "Norse Gods" by Neil Gaiman and got curious about how Marvel would portray Thor, who was actually supposed to be rather stupid.

Anything worth doing is worth doing right, so I thought, well, okay. I'll watch all of the movies. I recalled seeing some "watch them in THIS order" meme floating around at some point, so I got on Google and learned I could watch them in order of release date, or in order of the chronology of the stories and how they intertwine. I decided on the latter.

As of today, I'm 15 movies in, and I'm actually enjoying the journey. Some more than others, of course. Here's where I stand.

Captain America: The First Avenger

I'm glad they started with this one, because I liked it a lot. And I really, really liked Chris Evans as Captain America. He's so "aw-shucks" sweet and cute and I do love an underdog. Especially an underdog who suddenly fills out his t-shirt in new ways. 

Captain Marvel

LOVED this one. Carol Danvers is a badass and the movie itself was very well-done. So entertaining. I look forward to more of Goose. Goose has to come back.

Iron Man

This was...okay. I liked the story itself but Tony Stark is hard for me to really get behind. He's just so...where to start? First off, ego the size of Jupiter. He's never wrong, even when he's so wrong, that Ultron (yes, later movie, but great example) almost destroys humanity. He leaves his beleaguered assistant Pepper Potts, to clean up all of his messes. And she still loves him. 

Iron Man 2

Again, the story is fine--a bit forgettable, though. 

The Incredible Hulk

I haven't watched this one. It's only available as a rental, and I'm not interested enough in the Hulk as a character to pay for it.


Now we arrive at my original reason for getting into the whole Marvel Universe. I like Movie Thor better than Actual Legend Thor. He's way more even-keeled and sensitive. He has a brain. Loki is appropriately evil (in the myths, he's worse--total asshole). I still didn't love this one as much as Captain America and Captain Marvel, but it was pretty solid.

The Avengers

So finally, we get all these marvel-ous people we've met in previous movies--Captain America, Iron Man, Black Widow, Thor, and The Hulk, coming together to save the world from alien invaders. It's pretty intense. I loved the interactions between these larger-than-life characters, especially as the film digs into their various weak spots. I was a bit "meh" about watching New York City be destroyed. 

Iron Man 3

More Iron Man. This was the least enjoyable of the three Iron Man movies for me. It seemed to go on and on, especially the end kill-'em-all scene, where, of course, Pepper Potts is briefly presumed dead, then turned into some sort of lethal weapon, etc. I mean, lady, this is what you get for dating Tony Stark. 

Thor: The Dark World

I'm trying to remember this one. My favorite parts were the bits he has with Jane. I can't really remember much else. 

Captain America: The Winter Soldier

I was excited to get a full Captain America feature again. Good ole Cap was back, finding that the childhood friend he presumed dead was actually turned into some bizarre Winter Soldier. I liked the introduction of Sam Wilson in this one ("on your left!") and the use of Black Widow. This one dives into the infiltration of S.H.I.E.L.D by Hydra, which left me a little confused, but I was kinda glad to see it all go down. 

Guardians of the Galaxy

Everyone told me, "You'll LOVE this one!"  I liked it. I wasn't in love with it, however. Rocket and Groot are adorable, and hilarious. But the plot left me watching and thinking, "It's like Star Wars and Lisa Frank gave birth to some strange-looking space movie." But I understand that the introduction of Thanos will be important later.

Guardians of the Galaxy 2

I opted to skip this one. 

Avengers: Age of Ultron

Don't let me get started again on Tony Stark. Look what he unleashed. I mean, at the end of his third feature, he destroyed most of the suits he'd made, in an effort to make Pepper feel better...and then he goes and invents this madness. 


One thing that's been weird for me is to be watching a series of movies that introduce characters and keep them around, only to have them then veer into a new character, with no clear connection to what's going on in the rest of the Marvel world. I like Paul Rudd, but I didn't find Evangeline Lilly's character to ring true very much. I sort of "meh'd" my way through this one. 

Captain America: Civil War

Yay! More Captain America!! But--oh Jesus, here we go again with Tony Stark and his can't-be-wrong. The redeeming qualities of this movie: More Captain America in tight t-shirts. The introduction of Spider-Man. Ant-Man and Spider-Man acting like star-struck kids (or Meg meeting Keane) as they all battle each other. Hawkeye un-retiring. Tony Stark being proved wrong, wrong, WRONG. The introduction of T'Challa (Black Panther). 

Spider-Man: Homecoming

Ever since Tom Holland was on Lip Sync Battle (the kid has moves!!), I've wondered how his acting is. He was born the year I graduated from high school, so saying he's attractive feels weird. But he's so damned cute! That aside, I bloody loved this movie. Peter Parker is perfectly nerdy, angsty, endearing, and brilliant. I found myself laughing (where I'm supposed to) and engrossed in the story. There's more of that annoying Iron Man, and for once, at least, he gets it right, making Peter prove he's ready for the advanced Spider-Man suit. 

That's where I'm at. I will dive into Dr. Strange tomorrow, and probably finish off many of the movies this weekend. I saw Black Panther in the theaters when it came out, but I'll re-watch it to stay in order. 

I haven't mentioned much about Nick Fury and S.H.I.E.L.D., because honestly, while I love the character of Fury (and Samuel L. Jackson is, of course, perfect for the role), I'm really more interested in the character arcs of the Marvel heroes themselves. All of them have real weaknesses, and those weaknesses are fully explored. These are not perfect super-heroes, they're real people with emotions and regrets and blind spots. favorite movies so far: 
  1. =Captain America: The Winter Soldier
  2. Captain Marvel
  3. Spider-Man: Homecoming
My favorite characters (no particular order):
  1. Steve Rogers / Captain America
  2. Carol Danvers / Captain Marvel
  3. Natasha Romanoff / Black Widow
  4. Peter Parker / Spider-Man
  5. T'Challa / Black Panther 

Sunday, May 10, 2020

Life in Isolation...More Pictures and Memes

And so here we are, ten days into May, and I still spend 98% of my time in my home. I have been getting out almost every day to walk or run, because sunshine and fresh air are good for me. When it's not too warm, I sit on my balcony, and I've been watching my garden do it's thing with a lot of delight.

I'm still teaching remotely, which is still difficult and frustrating because I can't teach the stuff I really want to teach through a computer. I'm muddling through. 

And every day, I'm documenting with pictures. Here's some highlights from the last couple of weeks. I'll start with my closet. I had designed/ordered a new closet system a couple months ago, and my original install date was pushed out due to shelter-in-place. But the second date stuck, and while the guy installed (wearing a mask), I worked in my second bedroom (also wearing a mask). We took a lot of precautions and he even disinfected both units when he finished. 

Before: A hodge-podge of shelves and drawers that I put together when I moved
in. Not terrible, but not particularly great, either.

Also before: my laundry closet left a lot to be desired. 

After: MUCH better storage. I've since added a box of stuff on
the very top shelf that I don't need regular access to. 

After: GORGEOUS! California Closets did a great job. 

My wardrobe and shoe collection is pretty simple, so I even
have extra space to put my jewelry in there.  I plan to hang
something cute on the wall in that big space.

And the rest, completely not in chronological order, but oh well.

Read this at the end of a video lesson. 
On Friday I started binge-watching all of the Marvel movies
on Disney+ because...why not? Popcorn heard Goose the Cat
hacking on the screen, and this was his reaction. 

Spring means putting away the winter coats. 

I've discovered that putting a cardigan on over my workout
gear makes me look professional for class meets online. 

Running with a mask is NOT easy, so my compromise is a
bandana, which I wear around my neck until I get near people. 

I made a whole lesson video on Loom, went back to check it,
realized Popcorn was behind me the whole time being cute.
Thankfully, no booty-cleaning.

Hooray!! I'd been lamenting to Dad that I hadn't seen any
frogs as yet this year, but then a few nights ago, I looked up
and saw this beauty. I even said, "Oh, hello!!!" out loud. 

I did a big rearranging of the garden and dusted off my canvas
chair so I can sit out there and enjoy.

This was a brief break during a massive morning game of
chase. These dudes make me laugh every day. 

As teachers assistants, however, they're kinda useless. (Archie's
back feet in this one slay me.) 

I got gas last week for the first time since March. Under normal
circumstances, I fill up once every 7-8 days, and one tank
will last all the commutes between then. One tank just lasted
six weeks. 

More adorable cat pics. I can't help it. The camera loves them.

I am so happy to live across the street from a beautiful little
community park. It's easy to social distance here, because
there are so many windy paths. 

Cinco de To-Go! I had my first take-out. I was craving tacos,
and Chipotle, while not fancy, at least helped. 

My sixth graders laugh at me (that's the point) when I bring out
"Vinny" to talk about self-portraits. 

I've had this blue table and chair set for over a decade.

It was teacher appreciation week. A few of my kids sent me
messages and e-cards. They mean more than any mug or box
of candy. The girl who sent this came to my office hours.
"Ms. Cooper, check your email! I sent you something!!" 

My colleague Yelena is having a baby any minute now, so we
had a drive-by baby shower. I experimented with my water
colors to welcome baby River. 

I've been having my art class learn about drawing faces. I
was quite pleased with how my nose drawing turned out.

My own little corner of paradise.

This was so needed. I have had days where my personal
bandwith is so small, it's hard to do anything.

This is not my picture. My friend Sarah is essential for the State of California,
and she could hear the honking and carrying on of the stay-at-home protests
from her office. This car had anti-vax posters and...a child riding on top.

You can't make this stuff up.

This one resonated with all of us teachers. 

Fortunately, I rarely need to mute people in my class meets.
They mute themselves, or police each other in the chat box.