Sunday, June 12, 2016

Time To Do Something

It's been quite along time since I've been on here.  As this blog is a leisure activity to me and leisure time as been limited in the last nine months due to teaching, the blog gets to wait until summer. Although it's not quite summer for me as I have one more week of school left, the events today in Orlando, Florida have prompted me to write.

I'm done with my own inaction regarding events like today.  I'm done with putting up a solidarity photo on Facebook (which I never do), or a post telling "friends" that I hate what has happened (I don't do those either).  What I usually do is listen and read voraciously about the event (s) and perhaps talk about it briefly, barely skimming the surface of the bigger issues with others and then, do nothing.
Absolutely nothing.

50 people died today.  50 humans that were likely only at the Pulse Nightclub for two reasons: either they were working or there were there to enjoy themselves.  Think of the potential that each of those 50 lives had for the rest of their lives? As of now, the list of who died only consists of seven of the fifty, but my soul aches for the family members of every one of them.  I have two sons and the thought of being on the other end of a phone call, telling me that my son had been killed at either his place of work or when he was out having fun, horrifies me.

Does it really matter why this person decided to go kill people and was successful?
Does it really matter what his motive was?

He killed 50 people.
He ended 50 lives and permanently affected hundreds perhaps thousands of lives as a result of his act.
In 1984, there was a mass shooting at a McDonald's in San Ysidro, California.  My best friends had moved to an area close to there a few years before and we were in continual touch by phone.  When I learned that their father drove past that McDonald's every day on his commute to work and sometimes stopped in there, I was scared.  My friends shared with me via phone, all of the details of the victims and the shooter, etc.  In my fifteen years of life, I had never been made aware of anything like this happening, anywhere.  I remember wanting to know the reason why someone would do such a horrible act.

Again, does it really matter why this person decided to go kill people and was successful?
Does it really matter what their motive was?

  • Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris killed 13 people at a high school in Columbine, Colorado.  
  • Seung-Hui Cho killed 32 people at Virginia Tech University in Blacksbury, Virginia.
  • Adam Lanza killed 26 people at a elementary school in Sandy Hook, Connecticut.  

This list is only the largest of the mass shootings in the United States and today is grew again.  As of today, 672 people have been killed in Los Angeles County in the last 12 months.  How many thousands of lives have been permanently affected by those killings?

I'm a new teacher and I remember in the beginning of the school year when a student directly asked me how I would protect them if a "crazy guy" decided to come into our school and kill people.  His question scared the heck out of me.  I searched out the police officer who is routinely on patrol on our campus and asked what I could do in this situation.  He directed me to watch an "Active Shooter" video as that would be the best way I could protect my students.  I did watch it and have watched it a few times since September so I don't forget the instructions.

But is that the only thing I can do? React with knowledge (via the Active Shooter video) to events if they happen to me?
Today that is no longer good enough.

As of right now I am not sure how I am going to act, but today I start with this.
It is time for me to do something.



Saturday, January 2, 2016

2016 Rose Parade Viewing Photos

Happy Saturday everyone, 
My family and I attended the 2016 Rose Parade in Pasadena, CA yesterday and we had a great time.  I have photos to show you regarding the parade which are a mix of my favorites plus some behind the scenes photos which you don't see on TV.  


We leave our house at about 8am and by the time we pick up breakfast, find a spot to park, walk to the parade route and set up our seats, it's usually around 9am.  Not bad at all for the adults, not so fun for the teenagers whom would rather be asleep at 9am.  But hey, the choose to come with us! 
Wondering who those three are?  Older son at the top (19 year old with a full beard), his girlfriend in the center and younger son (17) in the bottom.  Younger son is half asleep and would be for another hour or so.  

So the parade begins at 8am and as the route is 5 1/2 miles long, it takes them roughly 2 1/2 hours to walk the route.  A vast majority of the TV coverage is from the first 1/2 mile of the parade.  What is most impressive is that by the time the participants get to us (we are very close to the end), they are still excited and putting on a show for the thousands of people lining the entire route.  

Things you don't see on TV:  floats break down, horses poop, marching bands stop to perform routines, TV breaks, taller floats have to lower portions of their floats to accommodate going under the 210 Foothill Freeway as they make the turn up Sierra Madre Boulevard to finish at the Post Parade Viewing area.  

So let's begin the highlights by showing you what you may not of seen on TV.  
Sky writers. 
For an hour....
The same four phrases over and over for an hour were displayed in the blue skies above us. At first we thought it was funny but after a while, I'm pretty sure everyone was annoyed as it took our attention away from what we were there to see: the Rose Parade.  

On to the parade...again these are my highlights that you likely didn't see on TV.  

This camel was a part of the Donate Life float, which is an organization that raises awareness about being a Donor.  Did you know that floats play music?  This was one playing "What A Wonderful World" by Louis Armstrong.  No matter where I hear that song, it makes me happy.  All of the people on the float are individuals whom are organ donor recipients and I believe they were holding photographs of donors.  Heartwarming.
"Treasure Life's Journey" by Donate Life
 I like the back of floats. I love the creativity that people put in to a part that might seem an afterthought.  Isn't this billygoat hanging on a coal train cart adorable?  
 Ready for the final season of Downton Abbey?  I sure am and was thrilled not only to see Elizabeth McGovern who plays Cora, on the float, but to see the amazing detail of the castle as they sped on by.  Sometimes the floats go way to quick!  
 The California mission architecture on the Miracle Gro float was very pleasing.  
"Life Starts Here" Miracle Gro Float
Yep, I like buffalo and couldn't resist a shot of this one. 

 Biggest crowd pleaser award goes to the Disney float as it was three floats in one - the back portion contained various Star Wars characters.   I've seen many different versions of the Millennium Falcons, but never a float Millennium Falcon.  It was pretty cool.  

 The Trader Joe's float is always very creative.  What caught my eye this year were the biggest balloons I've ever seen and the multiple bottles of two-buck chuck.  
 Wonder what is going on behind us while we are watching the parade? There a multitudes of these little carts selling corn and bacon wrapped hot dogs. 

 This dragon was incredibly fierce and beautiful! He was a part of the Marco Polo East Meets West float by Sinapoli Group
 So I mentioned that floats break down and that causes the parade to have breaks, sometimes very long breaks.  So after a while, we participants decide to get out into the route and have a little fun.  My older son wanted a photo of him and his girlfriend during one of those breaks.  

For more photos go check out Twitter as I posted photos as they parade went past.  I love going to watch the Rose Parade.  Next year we are considering buying tickets for the stands along Colorado Boulevard but that would require a 6am departure from my house - not sure if my teenagers will be up for that!
Enjoy the rest of your weekend,
Susan 

Monday, December 28, 2015

History Quilter Podcast Episode 45 I'm A Teacher!

Surprise! 
I've recorded a new episode of the History Quilter Podcast.  

I've been very busy the last four months TEACHING! 
I'm now an AP World History teacher and I love it.  
So if you want to hear more about it, go take a listen to my latest episode.  

Below are photos of my classroom, the Heath Ceramics Casserole Dish that broke during Thanksgiving dinner prep, and my latest quilt top finish.
My own classroom
My classroom has east facing windows.   Blinds don't work on three of the six windows. 
I made curtains!  Of course they are made with quilting fabric. 
I put a quilt block in both door windows because I can. :) 
Absolutely ecstatic the day I took my yearbook photo. Best yearbook photo I've ever taken.   
I've done a little decorating. 
A student gifted me a tree for the holidays. So sweet. :) 
Thanksgiving: The blue casserole dish I talked about regarding the break all the way around. Btw the turkey gravy in the foreground was the bomb.  

Just finished! Buona Fortuna quilt top. 43" x 53"
Buona Fortuna made with Va Bene and Kona fabrics.  

Until next time, Ciao!
Susan 

Saturday, June 20, 2015

History Quilter Podcast Episode #44 Catching Up

Happy Saturday to you all!

Yesterday I recorded and uploaded History Quilter Episode #44 Catching Up where I primarily spoke about my long term substitute assignment (don't worry it's not too long), Podcast recommendations, being a member of the Long Beach Modern Quilt Guild, a couple of great recipes and sewing projects I've completed.  

You can find my latest episode on Podbean, iTunes and Stitcher Radio.

I spoke about my long term substitute assignment - here is the blog post I wrote just after I finished the assignment.

Go check out the beginning stages of the Long Beach Modern Quilt Guild website.  We need the website hits!

Podcast Recommendations: 
Burnt Toast by Food 52.  This is a fun little podcast about random things that they don't write about on their blog/website.
Criminal. Intriguing podcast about crime.  "People that have done wrong, been wronged or gotten caught somewhere in the middle".
I recommended two episodes: #15 He's Neutral   and   #19 Mother's Little Helper

TED Radio Hour. These are TED Talks that host Guy Roz connects together for a weekly theme and interviews some of the TED talk hosts.
I recommend The Fountain of Youth from May 22, 2015.  

Frontline  PBS documentary show.  The episode Being Mortal from February 10, 2015 is extremely thought provoking.  I listened to the audio podcast first and then watched the documentary.  

Start Up from Gimlet Media.  I recommend Season Two which focuses on Dating Ring.


Two great recipes: 
Grilled Chicken Souvlaki from America's Test Kitchen.  This is from Dinner in the Mediterranean from Season 15.
Grilled Chicken Souvlaki
Perfect Fish Tacos from Bon Appetit.  Make these!  
Perfect Fish Tacos
Lastly, what I've been working on: 
A little basket I made with the Basket of Charms pattern from Sweet Jane's Quilting & Design.  
Basket of Charms - Fresh Air by American Jane Patterns
Baby Quilt made for Kinley Mae...this was so fun! Fabrics from Joann's.  Quilt pattern is Little Man by Camille Roskelley.  

              

Phew...I need to record more often as this blog post took me forever!  :)
Enjoy your Saturday,
Susan 

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Catching Up: Various Things I've Been Working On

First up, I am a member of the Long Beach Modern Quilt Guild! We began last year but didn't formally become a guild until January.  As I live roughly half way between the Los Angeles and Orange County Modern Quilt Guild locations, neither one was particularly easy to get to. 
I'm so happy to be a part of this great group of creative people. 
We participated in the Quilt Con Charity Quilt Challenge and our quilt was sent to QuiltCon in Austin, TX. One of those circles is mine! 

Long Beach Modern Quilt Guild Charity Challenge Quilt
The long term substitute assignment I recently completed was for a gal whom had a beautiful baby girl in January.  I had to make something for the baby so I decided to make two receiving blankets which were inspired by the kits sold by Anna Maria Horner.  I followed the tutorial by Rachel at Stitched Together as it was excellent.  I used Anna Maria Horner voile and Robert Kaufman flannel. These two fabrics together are a light and luxurious combination!  

Voile/Flannel Receiving Blankets
I used two different binding methods: the bottom I created my own bias binding and used a blanket stitch to sew - and it took forever. (hence, the two different biding methods)  The top blanket is done in an easier machine binding style (can't remember what the formal name is!) that I would normally use on a mug rug. 
Voile/Flannel Receiving Blankets
So happy with my front yard!  Love the bulbine and autumn moor grass.  

Eggs...such perfect food.  Especially with vegetables and goat cheese.  


Baby quilt in progress: 

Enjoy your Thursday, 
:)Susan

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Blink: Twelve Weeks In The AP Psychology Classroom


About three weeks ago, I finished a twelve week long term substitute assignment in an AP Psychology classroom.  AP Psychology? You might be wondering why I would be teaching AP Psychology when I am a history teacher.  I have a social science credential and have the ability to teach all of the subject you see below (pretend history is in there too!).

My teaching experience was wonderful!  All consuming: tons of learning every day, mistakes made and lessons learned for the future.  As I had not taught this subject before, everyday I was reading and learning new material to teach the next day.  Here is what my days felt like:
               5:30am Wake up, get ready for school
               7:00am  In the classroom and preparing for the day
               7:50-2:40  Teach
               2:40 - 3:30  Wrap up from the day/get materials ready to take home
               4:00 - 6:00  Get groceries, exercise, clean up a little around the house
               7:00 -8:00  Make dinner and eat
               8:00 - 9:00  Read. Read again, Read yet again until I understood.
               9:00ish  Exhaustion sets in and time for sleep.

Seems boring as I write it all down but I loved it.  Everyday was dynamic and new and I learned so much from my students  Wondering what I taught?  Well I began in January with Psychological Disorders and Treatment - not the most positive of subjects.  Tough material and I had to very sensitive to what my students were thinking/had experienced as I was introducing and discussing this material.  Some great teaching moments were when students would share with the class their own personal experiences with various psychological disorders.  That made me feel like they trusted me.

We moved onto Social Psychology: person perception, attributions, obedience, conformity, social roles, power of the situation, in-groups, etc.  Every day in that unit was fascinating.  One day I was teaching them about person perception (stereotypes we hold for all groups) and I was showing them photographs of yearbook pictures from the 1970's.  After getting into groups, I told them to decide which of the people (in the yearbook photographs) were most popular, smartest, more apt to become successful and those perhaps not so successful.  They thoroughly enjoyed making these assumptions about people that they had no idea about.  The next day I decided to extend the prior day's lesson a bit by showing them my own high school Varsity Soccer team photograph so they could again, make those assumptions and I would be able to tell them if they were correct or not.  It was a good lesson in how we make assumptions about others without knowing anything about them.
1987: Weren't perms awesome? 
I finished up with Language and Thought: how babies learn to understand, form and communicate with the world with language.  Want to see a fascinating TED talk about babies learning to speak? Go here and watch "Birth of a Word" by Deb Roy.  I showed it to my students and along with the other materials we had learned, had a great discussion about the formation of language.  When we discussed Thought, subjects included Heuristics (problem solving) and various decision making models.

My last day was bittersweet. I choked up at the end of both 1st and 2nd periods but then kept it together for the rest of the day. It was a crazy day - I was teaching, coordinating students who needed to makeup various exams and grading.  It wasn't until I got home that day when I pulled out everything that I had received that day from students, that I realized how much of an impact I had on them.  High school students gave me gifts, cards and letters!  

The cards and letters will be cherished forever. 

Those 201 students will be forever my first class.  I loved being their teacher.

Next blog post I'll show you what I've been up to since my assignment ended.  I've been sewing!
Enjoy your Wednesday,
Susan 



Sunday, December 14, 2014

Front Yard Landscaping + Giveaway Day Winner

Happy Sunday everyone! We are enjoying a gorgeous weekend while awaiting another rainstorm here in Southern California tomorrow, and as this blogpost has a landscaping theme, here is a video of my new rainchain in action last week.  I absolutely love the twinkling sound it makes when water is flowing down through the cups.  If you want one yourself, go check out www.rainchains.com
video


I've been extremely busy on the weekends lately with landscaping in my front yard.  As I am participating in the City of Long Beach Lawn to Garden Program, I have a deadline of January 8th, 2015 to finish the entire process of ripping out my existing lawn to planting a new drought tolerant/California native garden. (They give you twelve weeks to get it all done.) Yesterday the planting stage began, which was very exciting.  

November 12, 2014, Veteran's Day. Front yard is a blank canvas. Entire front yard grass, including the parkway had been ripped out and about four inches of soil removed.  
Can you see the rain chain just left of the porch? 
November 29, 2014. Rock has been delivered and work has begun on the dry riverbed that will start at my north side gate and meander toward an Olive tree that will be centered in front section of my yard. 

After laying down landscaping fabric, different sized rocks are being added to the dry riverbed. This is a work in progress as the goal is to make it look natural, not perfect. Various plants will go in along the edges of the dry riverbed.  

Between the garage and the porch is a dead area - with little sunlight the only thing this area grows is moss,etc., as all three roof lines bring water into this area when it rains.  It's an ugly spot now but will be  will be camouflaged once plants are added just in front of it.  

Because of downspout and rain chain, french drains needed to be dug in order to bring the water away from the house.  A ton of work but now it looks presentable with rock and a little fountain.  

December 13, 2014. I've done more work to my dry riverbed and now it's time to plant the Olive tree.  Didn't expect to come home with an Olive tree after a visit to Village Nursery in Huntington Beach, CA yesterday, but it was the perfect tree.  

Have I told you yet how sick of dirt I am?  Especially when it's wet? 

After digging the largest hole ever (many jokes were made about who could be buried in that hole), the Olive tree went in.  
This is what it looks like right now. 
I love my new tree!
This photo is taken on my neighbor's driveway. They are also participating in the Lawn to Garden program and finished yesterday with the delivery of Gorilla Hair mulch (it doesn't stay red for long). Once I am done planting, I will use the same mulch.  


And now for my Giveaway Day Winner - I had the BEST comments this week from those who entered my Giveaway Day post on Monday.  I asked those who entered to tell me where they would go and why if they could travel into the past.  I'll be talking about the comments in my next podcast episode as those who entered had wonderful thoughts as to where they would go and why. 

I couldn't help but choose Barb N's comment for my winner this time.  Not an easy question for me to answer as a Historian, but this time of year has me thinking especially of my own mother.  Barb said: 

Oh, what an easy question! If I could project myself into the past, I think I'd like to be a fly on that wall and see my mother again. Watch her as a child growing up. And falling in love. Having babies. Decorating the Christmas tree. Maybe have her give me a hug again. Yep, easy question.

Congratulations to Barb! 

I'm off to dig in the dirt again, Happy Sunday to all, 
Susan