A day off on the Elkhorn Slough

otterMonths ago my 84 year old mom asked me if I’d go on a tour of the estuary at Moss Landing with her and I agreed instantly.  I put it on the calendar without any idea how busy I’d be the week of April 15th and I’m glad I did.

First, I’ve made spending time with my mom a personal priority.  And it is good for me to admit that a personal necessity day away from the layers and layers of my job as interventionist is time well spent.

So, like some of the otters we saw from our little tour skiff, I wrapped myself in eel weed, metaphorically, to not drift off with the tide and let myself float in the wonderful present.

I mused and sometimes I enjoyed the gift of forgetting for awhile that I am a teacher.  Truly these times to let one’s mind unravel and drift are super critical to creativity.

I had a wonderful time with my mom.  We saw much wildlife:  great pelicans, egret, terns, harbor seals with their pups, rafts of otter.

Tomorrow I go back to continue to do my best with my students in focus groups, staff leadership team and coordinating the writing grant.  But I will be more tuned in to what I really think, and how I want to be with my students.  The mad press from on top and the insane pressure of testing cannot be what my world is about.  My students need a genteel, humane place to learn.  They need a person who has sorted out what really matters, not another program thrown at them.

So, I continue to press myself to write.  To take creative breaks.  And to realize that taking care of me is worthwhile.

Back to the Future

Tonight some parents, grandparents and kids from grades 3-5 met in the school cafeteria for a writing workshop titled, “Back to the Future.”  We had several Vietnamese families and Hispanic, including a family from El Salvador.  And the PTA president whom I think is Portuguese.  We started with getting the parents on one side of the room to talk with each other about school memories and the kids did the same, for warm ups.

Then the gist was that kids and parents would interview each other about school, freetime and personality, talking awhile. We had a three column menu style interview form, from which to choose questions. The interviewers main job was to listen not to take notes. Then, after Fran shared her super-cool model ode, titled “Dad,” we wrote odes to each other on poster size paper forms.

We even had a bit of time to gallery walk or share, while having cookies.  Everyone got a little journal, a gel pen of their color choice, and several blank ode forms to take home to retry or make parents’ day gifts out of their writing.

What I lovesLaura April 2013 was the conversations.  The way folks talked with each other.  My teaching partner Fran and I couldn’t have been more pleased.  It’s a lot of work to promote and plan an event, but worth it.

Things are written down different ways


Locks would seem to point to bondage.  Or security.  Or exclusivity.  No Romantic ever wrote, “My love is like an old rusty lock that’s never sprung in June…”

The token may be an inverse metaphor for true love to some, but I think they are one of the ways we write significance. The brassy glittering array of locks on the bridges over the Seine, with the keys thrown into the water, says something about ritual and wanting to be remembered. They’re the urban version of carving initials in an old oak tree.  I don’t take the locks literally.  I see them as bookmarks to brain maps.  They make a folk art pageantry by the charm of their variety of styles and degree of weathering.

To me they are statements, like poems, that only the key knows.  What heart thoughts hovered there as the shackle bolted into the body?  What worries with the certainties?

When I studied the array of locks up close I wondered if the people who had placed them would ever return?  Would they come together traipsing up the bridge flooring homing to their bit of hardware?  Would only one return?

Sometimes words will be scrolled into oblivion, or lost in journals, or never mailed. These ornaments along the railing are each a line, or a poem…or at least the promise of one.

Even our pageantry is sometimes writing.


Tonight the beginners salsa rueda had a good turnout.  I have been going to another class so there were new dancers as we progressed around the circle to the calls.  On the second “dame” (give me another one) my partner collected me for the cross body lead and I was immediately taken with his manner and appearance.  Slim build, Japanese angular face with longish hair combed over to the side, with bits falling on his forehead and glasses.  He has a dance frame so he probably knows ballroom dances.

Silly me.  I kept watching him around the circle and looking forward to my turn to dance with him.  A light, polite touch and graceful lead.  I was trying to guess how much younger than me this man might be.  Hard to tell.

He stayed around the rec center for part of the intermediate class and I found myself watching him across the room.  How funny!  I really cannot remember the last time someone’s presence made my heart do little pitta pats and I felt shy.

And of course wanted to be slim, svelt and at least 10 years younger.  Oh oh, there it is.  See previous post about losing resentment.  Perdu des poids.

Still, I came home from dance class with my memory of him.  It was fun to feel attracted to someone, however inaccessible or available he may or may not be.


IMG_5284I write, sometimes, to figure out what I really think.  Discovery as Don Edwards calls it.  Life is this overwhelming channel full of experience and input and I have to make sense of it.  So I write to read my life.

I write, sometimes, to rant.  Out pour feelings pent up by the necessities of work and expectations.  Life is that ocean full of creatures and strange chemistry that can nurture or threaten existence.  So I write to keep afloat.

I write, sometimes, to play.  Larks and ravens dance and mess about on the wing just for the sheer fun of it.  Life is that lighthouse full of solitude that invites another to join in the amusement.  So I write to enjoy the world.


perdre du poids

rue JJ Rousseau Perspective on my latest exercise and diet plan, “It’s not about losing pounds, it’s about losing resentment.” I thought this as I pedaled the exercycle this morning.

In the vanishing horizon of my younger days, I can tick off the times I got a man’s attention by running 3 miles a day and dieting to a size three

and then he left me

so I tried dating which involved a regime of exercise and weight loss until I got a stout fellow flattered to have a petite girl friend

and then he left me

In middle age, reading the online dating profiles

nobody on the planet could possibly settle for anyone is who is less than

athletic and toned.

I wonder how all these less than magazine prototype people who love each other and live together really are getting on, since they are not all athletic and toned? The ones that stroll by my house, chatting, walking the dog, with apparent extra pounds in tow.

 Exercise invasive enough to affect my natural Reubenesque stature

and hypoglycemic light-headedness is tough while teaching.

I’m resenting that I have to do this again, wondering why I couldn’t hang on to my previous loss?

Could I do this for me,not for impressing or attracting a male?

I resent all the effort and energy of my life

I poured on men

who promised to be mine

but never were.


242905_104439512980508_6339936_o I had two close friends in high school and one of them moved back to the Bay Area recently. The threesome saw each other in New Orleans about ten years ago, but haven’t seriously palled around since high school and college in the late 60’s and early 70’s.

So one joy of the spring break was entertaining Sheryl at my mom’s in SF.  With true friends the connection is just there; no awkward finding out where you stand or figuring out how to be.

From the moment I heard her deep voice in the hallway — that laugh — the party and gab fest was on.  We watched the sunset over the city as we mopped the remnants of cajun shrimp sauce off our plates and poured the rest of the second bottle of champagne.
The next morning, after coffee, we set off to the Marina, Ft. Mason, to find the friends of the library annual book sale. The old Fiesta Hall seemed a quarter of a mile long and half as wide, with perhaps a hundred islands of tables set up, covered with books.

Sheryl got a shopping cart.  As we munched sopa and tacos from the wonderful tent concession, I learned what an avid reader Sheryl is.  Funny that I didn’t notice that in high school.  She told me about being in 5th grade and going to the community library and just starting at one end, checking out the first six books, then the next, since that was the limit.  Reading the library and no one wondered about this 10 year old.

So I realize that now we will have new things to learn about each other and well as share the crazy memories from our late teens.



Coming down from the city to the shore

beachstairsEvery turn on Hwy 1 revealed beaches and farms with windswept views of the ocean.  As we drove south sun overtook the fog and sheets of shining water lay out to the west beyond dunes covered with silver gray vegetation.

After Mom and I stopped in Davenport for lunch, the somnolent afternoon found us rolling into Capitola in traffic, wanting to be reclining on sand.

With Jess and Rhia we went down to “our beach”  in sunny freshness rhythmic waves.  Finally the blanket was anchored at the corners with sandals and I stretched out.  Horizontal on sand under a huge blue sky, tucked in near the sandy cliffs, at rest.

Now time is measured by the stick Rhia stuck in the sand.  “No, not a sundial!  I don’t want to know what time it is.”

“That’s why this one has no numerals.  It points to you are here now.”

Getting feet wet in the surf with Jess prompted me to try a jog down the beach.  Running has a long stretch of step, but I have not been running for many a year.  So we dog jogged until our breath gave out and turned around and ran back.

Which made digging my belly back into the sand on the blanket even more lovely.

There was no time for awhile, just the freshness of wind and the sound of surf and people’s voices, a few gulls.  Then as the sun dropped and the wind picked up we got cold. Time to go.


Laura & Lorena: Inspiring Teachers to Write