Paul Simon at the Greek Theater, Berkeley

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Well, the most exciting thing I’ve done in a long while is I went with my hubby to see Paul Simon at the Greek Theater in Berkeley about a week and a half ago. All I can say is amazing – amazing – amazing!

First off, about two o’clock on the Thursday on the day of the concert, we experienced a little bitty 3.9 earthquake, whose epicenter happened to be at UC Berkeley’s Memorial Stadium, spitting distance from the Greek Theater. Coincidentally, (or not) that stadium is currently closed and being renovated and seismically retrofitted. Good thing too; it was built in 1923 and sits directly on top of the Hayward Fault!

No worries, though. There was no damage from the little trembler and the roads were open and the traffic flowed smoothly to Berkeley as we drove to the show.

I have a love/hate relationship with the Greek Theater. This is the fourth concert I’ve attended there, and as my body ages, it tends to get more aggravated with the concrete-amphitheater-cement seating. Used to be my bottom could fit nicely on one of the painted numbers that doubles for a “seat” in this place. But let’s face it, much of this particular audience is middle-aged, and many of us could use a number just for each individual butt cheek. So we’re scrunched on these cement bleachers, shoulder to shoulder and knee to knee. Heaven forbid if your neighbor has body odor issues or wants to eat a giant hoagie slathered in onions from a plastic baggy. Whatever happened to personal body space?? And forget about being able to lean back; the knees, shins, and toes of the person behind you are what make up any kind of back rest. Maybe I would have been more comfortable if I had breathed deeply and taken in a bit of what the people on the lawn above us were smoking. Thankfully, we came prepared and had our green padded folding seats to use because after two hours, my back would have been screaming.

And what’s up with people talking during a concert. There were two ladies behind us who WOULD NOT SHUT UP! It’s one thing to make a quiet comment to the person sitting next you, via a whisper in the ear. But to carry on a full-fledged kitchen table conversation during an entire ballad?? Why did they even bother paying $75 and leaving the house! I finally asked them nicely to please go somewhere else to talk. Thankfully, they did not decide to kick my ass, and the talking subsided.

So that’s the bad part . . . The good?? An intimate setting and incredible acoustics.

The Secret Sisters were the opening act for Paul. I had never heard of them before, but they were wonderful. Two sisters from Alabama — Lydia and Laura Rogers — with the sweetest, sultriest harmonies, one acoustic guitar, and a rural country sound that is timeless. Here’s a video of them singing “The One I Love is Gone.”

After their set, Michael and I went up to the top of the hill to get something to eat. All of a sudden we heard some applause, and I thought that Mr. Simon was making his way to the stage, but no . . . people were just applauding a second earthquake that had jangled the ground.

“Did you feel that?” Michael asked. But no, I hadn’t. Darn it.

We listed to Simon’s first song from above the lawn. You get a beautiful site from up there, as you can see in the picture below. That’s the Campanile Tower to the right and the lights of Berkeley and Oakland in the distance beyond the stage.

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The concert was fantastic. Paul sang songs from his new album So Beautiful, So What and other songs from throughout his 45+ year career. I’ve grown up on his music, so it was great to hear him sing songs from Sounds of Silence (an LP I still own) to Graceland. Highlights for me were when he sang “The Only Living Boy in New York” from Bridge Over Troubled Water, a curtain call of “Sounds of Silence,” with just him and his guitar, and his final song, a poignant “Still Crazy After All These Years.”

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Paul had just celebrated his 70th–YES! I said 70th!!–birthday the week before, so the crowd sang “Happy Birthday” to him towards the end of the show. Sheesh! I hope I can move around that well when I’m seventy! He didn’t say much during the show, but he seemed to be enjoying himself. And his amazingly talented eight piece back-up band sounded so great together. It was such a joy listening to it all.

As I think back on it, I am reminded that Simon and Garfunkel, along with Joni Mitchell, were my inspirations for learning how to play the the guitar and take up songwriting. I will never forget learning how to play “The Boxer” on my guitar. That was in 1969; I was thirteen years old. I was so proud of myself. I just loved that song so much. So I decided to play it for my mom, but when I got to these lyrics:

“Seeking only workman’s wages, I come looking for a job, but I get no offers . . .
Just a come-on from the whores on Seventh Avenue
I do declare, there were times when I was so lonesome
I took some comfort there . . .

My mom freaked out over the word “whores”!

“But did you hear the rest of the words?” I asked her. “They are so great!”
“That word is not a word you should be saying. Isn’t there another song you can sing?” she replied.
I still remember feeling crushed.

Anyhow, thank you Paul Simon, for your incredible, beautiful gifts of guitar, lyrics, and music that you’ve given us throughout the years. I left the Greek Theater feeling overwhelmed to have spent a short time in the glow of your greatness.

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I’m Not a Hoarder! I’m an Artist!

Okay . . . I’m ready to admit it to the world . . . I am addicted to A & E’s show Hoarders. I’m not proud of it, but there it is. I compare watching Hoarders to driving by an accident on the freeway. Everyone knows you’re not supposed to slow down and look, but you just can’t help checking to see if there are any dead bodies lying by the side of the road.

Hoarders is full of dead bodies . . . cats, rats, possums, birds . . . and the lives of people buried under mounds and mounds of stuff.

In case you haven’t seen the show, the premise is basically the same in each episode. First we’re taken on a tour of an anonymous person’s home, which is always an awe-inspiring train wreck. From basement to attic, people have spent years accumulating junk, (I mean “treasures”) until they have narrow pathways leading from one room to the next. Every surface from floor to ceiling is inevitably piled with an odd assortment of every possible thing you can imagine being in a house– times twenty. Sad-faced family members are interviewed and they tearfully try to explain what it’s like to life with and love a hoarder.

The hoarder herself (most of them are women) sits in the one foot by one foot space she’s carved out for herself in front of the TV on the couch and talks about her “collections.” Most of the time, these people are in extreme denial about the condition of their home. I remember one woman being interviewed and as she was laughing off the situation some of the stuff behind her started to fall on top of her. Another woman had to go to a local gas station to use the toilet and wash up because she couldn’t get into her bathroom.

We usually discover that there has been some traumatic event in the person’s life that triggered the hoarding or caused it to worsen — a death of a loved one, a disability, a sick spouse, children leaving home and moving far, far away. Sometimes the hoarders are men, but usually they are women and part of their problem is compulsive shopping. Clothes and shoes and purses are piled in heaps everywhere, much of it with tags still attached. Many of these women pride themselves on being able to find bargains that they just can’t pass up at thrift stores. And the men are often junk collectors, buying broken things so they can be fixed.

After we get a good look at the miserable situation these poor people are in, the experts come in to help. Usually a crisis has brought them there. Maybe someone’s called Child Protective Services to remove children from the home. Maybe the city has ordered them to clean up their property or face enormous fines and jail time. Someone called for help (and called A & E), and now there’s a psychiatrist who specializes in compulsive behaviors and a professional organizer with a team of people ready to help remove all the crap and get this person’s life back in order.

And so they begin. Usually there’s a struggle. The hoarder may move so slowly, pouring over every tiny scrap of paper or broken toaster to decide whether it should be tossed or donated or SAVED! Well-meaning family members watch on the sidelines with incredible frustration. Or they rant and rave and throw their hands up in despair. You know that they would just like to take a giant shovel and just start scooping and tossing everything into the 1-800-GOT-JUNK? trucks that are standing by. But the hoarders just can’t let go. “Save, save, save . . . okay, toss . . wait, wait, wait . . . let me look at that again” they say about a boxed Christmas decoration covered with rat urine and feces. EEK! And that’s not the worst of it. This show is not for the squeamish . . . believe me!

But 80% of the time, by the end of the show, yards and houses have been cleaned and the hoarders have looks of stunned relief on their faces. A postscript at the end of the show will tell us whether they are using after-care funds to continue working with a therapist or professional organizer or has refused help. Either way, you can’t help but wonder whether it’s going to last.

One of the recurring mantras you hear from family members on the show is that they just can’t believe that their mother/father/spouse has chosen stuff over them. It’s like these people spend their lives building walls around themselves as a challenge – – come in and find me if you love me enough.

So why do I watch such a depressing show? Well, I take it like medicine because I can see a tiny little piece of myself in these people. I’m sure my mother was a hoarder, especially when it came to clothes. Having lived through the Depression, she had a really hard time throwing stained, torn and out-dated clothing away, even if she hadn’t worn it for years.

One of the most vivid episodes of Hoarders was about a woman in her seventies who hoarded food. Her refrigerator was a disgusting sight. The psychologist was trying to get her to throw expired food items away, but she felt like if the package wasn’t swollen it would be fine to eat.

On her floor was a black, moldy, rotting pumpkin. A worker was trying to scrape it off the floor with a shovel. “Wait, wait,” she cried. She bent over that shovel and talked to that melting pumpkin. “You were so lovely,” she said. Then she reached her hand inside the darkened pulp and pulled out some seeds! “I can plant these,” she said. It just breaks your heart.

Now I’m not saying that I am a hoarder, but I can definitely see the possibility of falling over to The Dark Side. And I watch the show to keep myself in check and also so I can say to myself, “I may be bad, but I’m not THAT bad!” My “treasures” have been contained to one semi-well-organized room . . . okay, and part of the garage. Oh . . . and the bookshelves in the living room. But you can’t count the books . . . I don’t think.

Still, you can imagine my dismay when last Monday’s episode featured Julie from Englewood, Colorado who considers herself a . . . wait for it . . . an Altered Artist! What?? Now that really is hitting a little too close to home!

Here’s Julie, looking through boxes and boxes of stuff and she’s looking at every little broken thing as a potential piece for an art project. She pulls out a lovely duck decoy with a broken beak from a box and says, “I could use this for something.” And I’m thinking, well it’s a little big, but it does have possibilities.

The psychologist in his infinite wisdom says, “You know, when you’re an artist, and you do altered art, everything looks valuable. It’s very hard to throw anything away.”

Don’t I know it.

Edgar Allan Poe: A Demon in My View

Poe Poetry :: From “Israfel”

I recently added some amazing Public Domain Images that Edmund Dulac illustrated for a collection of poems by Edward Allan Poe. The book is The Poetical Works of Edgar Allan Poe and was published in 1921 by George H. Doran in New York. Dulac’s dark and shadowy paintings fit the mood of Poe’s poetry perfectly. Even when Poe appeared to be trying to write a love poem or something “uplifting,” he just doesn’t quite seem to pull it off. There’s always this melancholy gloom that seem to hang over his work, which Dulac captures beautifully.

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Edgar Allan Poe Pictures :: Portrait

I found this great little biography of Poe’s life in the 1911 edition The Encyclopedia Britannica that I thought I’d share.

Edgar Allan Poe, American poet, writer of fiction and critic, was born in Boston, Massachusetts, on the January 19, 1809. The family was of English origin, but was settled in Ireland, before the poet’s great-grandfather emigrated to Maryland. His grandfather, David Poe, served with credit as a soldier in the War of Independence, was known to Washington, and was the friend of Lafayette.

His son David Poe was bred as a lawyer, but deeply offended his family by marrying an actress of English birth and by going on the stage himself. In 1811 he and his wife died, leaving three children—William, Edgar, and a daughter Rosalie—wholly destitute. William died young, and Rosalie went mad.

John Allan a tobacco merchant of Scottish extraction adopted Edgar, seemingly at the request of his wife, who was childless. The boy was indulged in every way, and encouraged to believe that he would inherit Mr. Allan’s fortune. Mr. Allan, having come to England in 1815, placed Edgar in a school at Stoke Newington in England, kept by a Dr. Bransby. In 1820 Mr. Allan returned to Richmond, Virginia, and Edgar was first placed at school in the town and then sent to the University of Virginia at Charlottesville in 1826.

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Poe Poems :: From “To Helen”

Here the effects of a very unwise training on a temperament of inherited neurotic tendency were soon seen. He was fond of athletics, and was a strong and ardent swimmer, but he developed a passion for gambling and drink. His disorders made it necessary to remove him, and Mr. Allan, who refused to pay his debts, took him away.

Edgar enlisted on the 26th of May 1827 in Boston, and served for two years in the United States army. As a soldier his conduct must have been exemplary, for he was promoted sergeant-major on the 1st of January 1829. It is to be noted that throughout his life, when under orders, Poe could be a diligent and capable subordinate. In May 1820, Mr. Allan secured Edgar’s discharge from the army, and in 1830 obtained a nomination for him to the West Point military academy. As a student, Edgar showed considerable faculty for mathematics, but his aloofness prevented him from being popular with his comrades, and he neglected his duty. When court-martialed for missing drills, parades, classes and church, he made no answer to the charges, and was expelled on the 6th of March 1831.

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Edgar Allan Poe :: From “To the River”

Mr. Allan’s generosity was now exhausted. The death of his first wife in 1820 had doubtless removed any influence favorable to Edgar. A second marriage brought Mr. Allan children, and at his death in 1834, Mr. Allan left his adopted son nothing. A last meeting between the two, shortly before Mr. Allan’s death, led only to a scene of painful violence.

In 1827 Poe had published his first volume of poetry, Tamerlane and other Poems, in Boston. He did not publish under his name, but as “A Bostonian.” In 1831 he published a volume of Poems under his name in New York. His life immediately after his departure from West Point is very obscure, but in 1833 he was living in Baltimore with his paternal aunt, Mrs. Clemm, who was his protector throughout his life, and, in so far as extreme poverty permitted, his support.

In 1833 he won a prize of $100 offered for the best story by the Baltimore Saturday Visitor. He would have also won the prize for the best poem if the judges had not thought it wrong to give both rewards to one competitor. The story, “MS. Found in a Bottle,” is one of the most mediocre of Poe’s tales, but his success gave him an introduction to editors and publishers, who were attracted by his striking personal appearance and his fine manners, and who were also touched by his manifest poverty.

From 1833 till his death he was employed at different magazines in Richmond, New York, and Philadelphia. His famous poem “The Raven,” was published first in 1845, and soon became extraordinarily popular, but Poe received barely any money for it.

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Dulac :: From “The Raven”

The facts of Edgar Allan Poe’s life have been the subject of very ill-judged controversy. The acrimonious tone of the biography by Rufus Griswold, prefixed to the first collected edition of his works in 1850, gave natural offense, and attempts have been made to show that the biographer was wrong as to the facts. But it is no real kindness to Poe’s memory to deny the sad truth that he was subject to chronic alcoholism. He was not a gracious companion, and never became callous to his vice. When it seized him he drank raw spirits, and was disordered by a very little. But when he was free from the maddening influence of alcohol he was gentle, well bred, and a hard worker on the staff of a magazine, willing and able to write reviews, answer correspondents, propound riddles or invent and solve cryptograms. His value as a contributor and sub-editor secured him successive engagements on the Southern Literary Messenger of Richmond, on the New York Quarterly Review, and on Graham’s Magazine at Philadelphia. It enabled him in 1843 to have a magazine of his own, the Stylus. However, Edgar’s mania sooner or later broke off all his engagements and even ruined his own venture.

In 1835 he married his cousin, Virginia Clemm, a beautiful girl of fourteen years of age and Mrs. Clemm’s daughter. A false statement as to her age was made at the time of the marriage. She died of consumption (tuberculosis) in 1847 after a long decline. Poe made two attempts to marry women of fortune—Mrs. Whitman and Mrs. Shelton. The first of these engagements was broken off. The second was terminated by his death in a hospital in Baltimore, Maryland, on the 7th of October 1849.

Poe’s life and death had many precedents, and will always recur among Bohemian men of letters and artists. What was individual in Poe, and what alone renders him memorable, was his narrow but profound and original genius. In the midst of much hackwork and not a few failures in his own field, he produced a small body of verse and a handful of short stories of rare and peculiar excellence. The poems express a melancholy sensuous emotion in a penetrating melody all his own. The stories give form to horror and fear with an exquisite exactness of touch, or construct and unravel mysteries with extreme dexterity. He was a conscientious literary artist who revised and perfected his work with care. His criticism, though often commonplace and sometimes ill-natured, as when he attacked Longfellow for plagiarism, was trenchant and sagacious at his best.

What a great, tragic story. Has anyone done a movie about his life? It seems to have all the perfect elements: orphans, love, death, scandal, addiction, poverty. Why, Poe’s life could have been written by Dickens!

Here’s one of my favorite poems by Poe; it’s a great complement to the biography.


From childhood’s house I have not been
As others were; I have not seen
As others saw; I could not bring
My passions from a common spring.
From the same source I have not taken
My sorrow; I could not awaken
My heart to joy at the same tone;
And all I love I loved alone.

Then—in my childhood, in the dawn
Of a most stormy life—was drawn
From every depth of good and ill
The mystery which binds me still:
From the torrent, or the fountain,
From the red cliff of the mountain,
From the sun that round me rolled
In its autumn tint of gold,
From the lightning in the sky
As it passed my flying by,
From the thunder and the storm,
and the cloud that took the form
(When the rest of Heaven was blue)
Of a demon in my view.

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Dulac Illustrations :: From “Alone”

Coat of Arms Design

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Medieval Shields ~ Shield in stained glass of the 14th Century of John of Gaunt as King of Castile

After a brief delay, I’m back again to finish sharing the introductory article to W. H. St. John Hope’s fascinating book Heraldry for Craftsmen and Designers. If you want to start reading from the beginning, here’s the order: Part 1 – Heraldry, Part 2 – Coat of Arms, and Part 3 – Coat of Arms History. If you want all the pieces in one fell swoop, you can download a PDF of the article (minus the pictures) at the end of this post. Also, if you want to see and download the majority of the images from the book, visit the Public Domain Images at Karen’s Whimsy.

Now, without further ado . . .

Mr. St. John Hope continues:

Since the elucidation of the artistic rather than the scientific side of heraldry is the object of this present work, it is advisable to show how it may best be studied.

The artistic treatment of heraldry can only be taught imperfectly, by means of books, and it is far better that the student should be his own teacher by consulting such good examples of heraldic art as may commonly be found nigh at hand. He may, however, first equip himself to advantage with a proper grasp of the subject by reading carefully the admirable article on Heraldry, by Mr. Oswald Barron, in the new eleventh edition of The Encyclopedia Britannica.

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Family Crest Symbols ~ Seal of Henry Le Despnser, Bishop of Norwich, 1270 – 1406

The earliest and best of artistic authorities are heraldic seals. These came into common use towards the end of the twelfth century, much at the same time that armory itself became a thing of life, and they were constantly being engraved for men, and even for women, who bore and used arms, and for corporate bodies entitled to have seals.

Moreover, since every seal was produced under the direction of its owner and continually used by him, the heraldry displayed on seals has a personal interest of the greatest value, as showing not only what arms the owner bore, but how they were intended to be seen.

From seals may be learnt the different shapes of shields, and the times of their changes of fashion; the methods of depicting crests; the origin and use of supporters; the treatment of the ‘words’ and ‘ reasons’ now called mottoes; the various ways of combining arms to indicate alliances, kinships, and official connexions; and the many other effective ways in which heraldry maybe treated artistically without breaking the rigid rules of its scientific side.

Seals, unfortunately, owing to their inaccessibility, are not so generally available for purposes of study as some other authorities. They are consequently comparatively little known. Fine series, both of original impressions and casts, are on exhibition in the British and the Victoria and Albert museums, and in not a few local museums also, but the great collection in the British Museum is practically the only public one that can be utilized to any extent by the heraldic student, and then under the limitation of applying for each seal by a separate ticket.

The many examples of armorial seals illustrated in the present work will give the student a good idea of their importance and high artistic excellence.

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Heraldic Symbols ~ Shields of Dacre, Shelley, See of Salisbury, and Isle of Man

Next to the heraldry on seals, that displayed on tombs and monuments, and in combination with architecture, may be studied, and, of course, with greater ease, since such a number of examples is available. Many a village church is comparatively as rich in heraldry as the abbey churches of Westminster and St. Albans, or the minsters of Lincoln and York and Beverley.

It is to the country church, too, that we may often took for lovely examples of old heraldic glass, which has escaped the destruction of other subjects that were deemed more superstitious.

But the student is not restricted to ecclesiastical buildings in his search for good examples of heraldry.

Inasmuch as there never was such a thing as an ecclesiastical style, it was quite immaterial to the medieval master masons whether they were called in to build a church or a gatehouse, a castle or a mansion, a barn or a bridge. The master carpenter worked in the same way upon a rood loft or a pew end as upon the screen or the coffer in the house of the lord; the glazier filled alike with his coloured transparencies the bay of the hall, the window of the chapel, or that of the minster of the abbey; and the tiler sold his wares to sacrist, churchwarden, or squire alike.

The applications of heraldry to architecture are so numerous that it is not easy to deal with them in any degree of connexion.

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Coat of Arms Pictures ~ Paving Tiles from Tewkesbury Abbey Church

Shields of arms, badges, crests, and supporters are freely used in every conceivable way, and on every reasonable place; on gatehouses and towers, on porches and doorways, in windows and on walls, on plinths, buttresses, and pinnacles, on cornice, frieze, and parapet, on chimney-pieces and spandrels, on vaults and roofs, on woodwork, metalwork, and furniture of all kinds, on tombs, fonts, pulpits, screens and coffers, in painting, in glass, and on the tiles of the floor (see above).

Though actual examples are now rare, we know from pictures and monuments, and the tantalizing descriptions in inventories, to how large an extent heraldry was used in embroidery and woven work, on carpets and hangings, on copes and frontals, on gowns, mantles and jupes, on trappers and in banners, and even on the sails of ships.

Wills and inventories also tell us that in jewelry and goldsmiths’ work heraldry played a prominent part, and by the aid of enamel it appeared in its proper colours, and advantage not always attainable otherwise. Beautiful examples of heraldic shields bright with enamel occur in the abbey church of Westminster on the tombs of King Edward III and of William of Valence, and on the tombs at Canterbury and Warwick respectively of Edward prince of Wales and Richard Beauchamp earl of Warwick; while in St. George’s chapel in Windsor castle there are actually nearly, ninety enamelled stall-plates of Knights of the Garter of earlier date than Tudor times, extending from about 1390 to 1485, and forming in themselves a veritable heraldic storehouse of the highest artistic excellence.

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Heraldry Clipart ~ A Shield from a Roll of Arms from a Jousting Tournament

Another source of coloured heraldry is to be found in the so-called rolls of arms (see above).

While heraldry was a living art, it obviously became necessary to keep some record of the numerous armorial bearings which were already in use, as well as of those that were constantly being invented. This seems to have been done by entering the arms on long rolls of parchment. In the earliest examples these took the form of rows of painted shields, with the owners’ names written over; but in a few rare cases the blazon or written description of the arms is also given, while other rolls consist wholly, of such descriptions, as in the well-known Great and Boroughbridge Rolls. These have a special value in supplying the terminology of the old heraldry, but this belongs to the science or grammar and not the art of it. The pictured rolls on the other hand clearly belong to the artistic side, and as they date from the middle of the thirteenth century onwards, they show how the early heralds from time to time drew the arms they wished to record.

Click here to download a copy of the entire introduction to Heraldry for Craftsmen and Designers by W. H. St. John Hope, published by The MacMillan Company, 1913.

I’m Back!

Before you start reading this, jump to the end and press play on the Animoto slide show. That way it will be loaded and ready to play by the time you get to the end of this post.

What an intense, busy year this has been for me. My art took a back seat to my goal for the year, which was to get my master’s degree in educational technology. I had to take six classes, write a huge paper and create a field project, so that’s what I’ve been working on for the last twelve months. I finished a little over a week ago. It was a great experience for me; I learned so much! But it was hard work and left no time for making art or writing.

I’m starting my twenty-fourth year of teaching in a little more than a week. I’m excited to use what I learned this past year with my students. There are so many new things I want to try with them that I feel a little nervous and overwhelmed about it. I have to remind myself to start small and focus on adding new ideas and content in little steps so I don’t lose my mind.

Even though I feel like I spent all my waking hours working on my master’s project this summer, I did take time to do a few fun things. Michael and I went to Monterey to watch the motorcycle races at Laguna Seca. I didn’t think I would like it very much, and was basically going to keep him company. When he was a young boy in Greece, he would read the motorcycle magazines and dream about going to Laguna Seca to watch the races. After 24 years of living in the U.S., we finally made his dream come true! And it was a blast! I had a great time and would definitely go again without hesitation. I’ll write some more about that trip in another post.

I also took the kids to see the Coldplay concert at the Shoreline Amphitheater in Mountain View. What a great concert they put on. They played for two solid hours. A highlight for me was an acoustic version of Michael Jackson’s “Billy Jean,” which was just amazing. The only downside was the traffic getting there, which was horrendous. I like the Shoreline because it’s a medium sized venue and you don’t feel like you’re watching ants on a stage. However, our seats were awful. I bought the tickets online and when I got them I noticed tiny print that said “Possible Obstructed View.” Huh?? Believe me, if I had known that, I wouldn’t have bought the tickets, especially not for the price they charged. Or I would have tried for different seats. Live Nation said that we could return them, but the show was sold out and I really wanted to go, so we took our chances. Good thing everyone stood up for the entire concert. We were two rows up from a huge projector that totally blocked our view of the stage when we were sitting down. Shame on Live Nation for selling us those tickets in the first place. The traffic and the crappy seats were disappointing, but ultimately Coldplay’s fantastic performance and music made up for it.

My family also got to spend four days at Bass Lake near Yosemite. My sister’s family invited us to join them. The water in the lake was warm and beautiful and we rented a party boat and took the kids tubing. My sister, Kris, eventually talked me into going tubing, too. Boy am I glad she did! It was so much fun; I haven’t laughed that hard in I don’t know how long. We also took a drive to Yosemite Valley for the day. That place is so incredible. I’ve been there at least six times in my life and it never ceases to amaze me.

Another fun thing I did this summer was go to the Italian Street Painting Festival in San Rafael. It’s a fund raiser for the Youth in Arts program. The city closes off several streets and uses blue tape to mark off huge squares on the asphalt for artists to use as their canvas. It’s a two day thing, and I have to say that I like going Saturday to see the work-in-progress. The half-finished faces look like they’re rising out of the pavement. I don’t know how the artists do it. They must be so sore the next day. They do all their drawing with chalk while on their knees or crouched over the art. There were lots of hats, and kneepads, and I bet lots of Motrin the next day . . . at least I know there would have been for me. The art work is amazing. I took lots of pictures and used Animoto to make a little video to share with you. If you’ve read this far, hopefully the movie has loaded into the page by now. I hope you enjoy it.

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