Tag Archives: writing

A Contradiction? SOL22 Day 26

One of the things I love about walking on the beach is that it is forever different and always fascinating. Today was gray with a pretty thick marine layers covering the coast. I love low tides when the reef is exposed, the beach is wide, and if I’m lucky there will be more shore birds and other sea creatures visible.

Today it was the tiny sandpipers that caught my eye. They gather in groups, perhaps safety in numbers, and move in unison. I crept close today (they spook easily) and waited and watched with my camera at the ready. Their coloring helps them camouflage with the reef, making it hard to get great photos.

So many birds stand on one leg…and this one is a perfect example. I’m guessing it’s a way to rest. I know when I am standing a lot (like every day teaching), I find myself standing one one leg or resting one foot on the other.

As I was thinking about these birds that run and fly in perfect synch–their little feet almost like perpetual motion machines–I was also wondering about their collective noun. What is a group of sandpipers called? With a question like this, I did the usual and turned to Google. There I learned there are a number of names for a group of sandpipers including a contradiction, a fling, a hill, and even a time-step! Where do these names come from…and why? A contradiction?

If I were to choose from these nouns, I would definitely go with time-step. I love to watch their little legs move in a blur of constant motion and in perfect step with each other–definitely a time-step!

And…I was lucky enough to catch this guy mid leap! Notice the little drip of water from the tiny bird foot raised above the ground.

It’s fun to leave the beach wondering and thinking. No two days are alike and every day gets me thinking. Where do you go to think and wonder? (And maybe even walk and photograph)

Finding Gold: SOL22 Day 25

I’ve heard it said that there is a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. But I live in a place where rain is rare, which means we also don’t see too many rainbows. So I guess that means we need to look for our gold elsewhere.

With many of my university colleagues enjoying a three-day weekend thanks to Cesar Chavez, I found my day unstructured. I had no scheduled calls, no imminent deadlines, just wide open time to complete some of those work projects that keep falling to the bottom of my list of things to do. Gold!

Wednesday’s summer was short-lived. Today arrived cloaked in a gray cape, keeping the sun at bay and temperatures back down into the low 60s. And when I saw that the tide would be low near lunch time, it occurred to me that I should take advantage of my flexible schedule and take my walk smack dab in the middle of my typical work day! Gold!

As I walked along the shoreline, I watched the seagulls hanging out and as usual they were engaged in loud conversation with one another. I noticed interesting shells and bits of kelp and other algaes that had washed up onto the shore. And then I spied a bit of gold. A closer look revealed a tiny golden lion snuggled up against the red algae. More gold!

After I took a photo, my husband snatched up the plastic creature–we’re working hard to eliminate beach plastics and doing our part to keep them off the beach.

As long as we were out, we decided we might as well head off to our favorite hole-in-the-wall local Mexican restaurant: Juanita’s. My taquitos with guacamole were encrusted with golden cheese. and also picture perfect! (My husband added some of this golden treasure to his burrito, pictured in the background.)

We definitely struck gold with our day today. A perfectly unstructured day that allowed for both productive work AND a satisfying low-tide beach walk followed by a yummy, comforting lunch. The perfect way to end the work week!

Critter Crisis Averted: SOL22 Day 24

Be aware of your surroundings.

Those admonitions are common, usually a reminder when going somewhere unfamiliar or someplace with potential hazards.

A momentary commotion during our neighborhood walk had my husband asking me if I wanted to take a photo.

Of what, I asked?

Of the critter you nearly stepped on.

I guess it’s the grasshopper that needs to be aware of its surroundings!

Mini Vacay: SOL22 Day 23

Today summer arrived in March with warm Santa Ana winds from the desert bringing 80 degree temperatures to the coast. It was a typical work day–except that I had no after school meetings today. That is a rare occurrence and I took full advantage. I left school at a reasonable hour, called my husband to see if he was interested in heading out for coffee and a peek at the beach, and headed home feeling like we were embarking on a vacation–even if it was of the 60 minute variety!

I’d read on Monday that our beach was getting sand this week–part of an infrastructure project that involves dredging the local lagoon and relocating sand to sand deprived beaches. I wondered just what that would look like.

Sure enough, heavy equipment was parked on the beach and new sand was evident along the shoreline.

We weren’t sure just how much beach there would be for walking, high tide often means the water covers the ground right up the cliff (and walking too close to the cliffs is an accident waiting to happen–cliff failures are well-known in these parts and have been known to be deadly!). But after only a couple steps where my foot squished way down in the brand new muddy sand, we could see plenty of room for walking ahead.

Just like the winds, we headed in the opposite direction today–walking north instead of south. While the sea birds I love to photograph weren’t present, there was plenty of other action to observe. We came across lifeguards training on jet skis, roaring up and over waves, dragging a water stretcher with another helmeted lifeguard aboard. I watched them soar over the whitewater, doing donuts in the surf. I snapped and snapped and snapped, playing with capturing action in a still photograph. (My favorite photo is posted on Instagram, but this one shows the swirl of the water.)

With the sun a warm hug on our shoulders, we continued our walk to a popular surfing area. Like ants, we watched the trail of surfers going up and down to the water’s edge. The weather makes the beach irresistible, calling loudly with blue skies, warm air, and adequate surf, in spite of the not quite warm water (61 degrees).

We couldn’t quite make it to our turnaround point as we watched the waves splashing up all the way to seawall. I couldn’t help but snap these young people trying to time their move from the stairs of this private residence to the shore. (Note the seagull on lookout above).

This afternoon foray to the beach was exactly what I needed today. It’s been a stressful week following a too-short weekend, working on getting report cards finished for an upcoming week of parent conferences, not to mention those frequent after school meetings. Today was a perfect respite–a tiny vacation in the middle of the week spent with the one I love. Sometimes a mini vacay is the perfect solution to the mid-week blues. Thursday–I’m ready for you!

The Hardest Word: SOL22 Day 22

I should just say no

when I come home to the aroma of freshly baked

chocolate chip cookies

“I baked a small batch,” he tells me

as though these delicious disks are calorie free

I should just say no

to another committee assignment

even though I love the collaboration

the contributions, the thinking and the back and forth

because one more meeting is killing me

I should just say no

to a new project, a new idea, a new way to share expertise

Is time like love, expanding to encompass

the richness that life offers

where somehow there is always more to go around?

But in reality

I know it’s likely

that I won’t say no

somehow, for me,

no

is the hardest word

Monday Musings: SOL22 Day 21

I don’t cook, but I love watching cooking shows. Competition shows are my favorite. I love figuring out who will be eliminated, where the flaws are in their technique, identifying just what crisis will put the contestant in some kind of dire possibility of failure. But somehow, they do not motivate me to head to the kitchen. (Luckily, my husband, who does cook, also enjoys these shows and does get motivation from watching!)

Why is it that now that it is officially spring, the forecast for tomorrow is summer? The irony is that summer in southern CA generally arrives late…like July. But we are expecting temps near 80 tomorrow and Wednesday. Summer-like weather does NOT bring out the best in students.

Shoes make the outfit. At least that used to be my thinking. Lately I seem to base my clothes choices on which will allow me to get away with wearing tennis shoes. And somehow, I also seem to have more tennis shoes to wear! Granted, teaching means being on your feet all day long, so comfy shoes have always been a must, but looking fashionable (or even professional) has taken a back seat these days.

Just some random thoughts on a Monday afternoon in March (when I should be finishing up report cards)! What are you thinking about today?

A Small Book… : SOL22 Day 20

Some days you just need a small book. One that takes only a few minutes to read, but that stays with you once you’ve read it. It might even make you want to pick it up and read it again.

A friend of mine gifted me this book a while ago. I read it then, then put it aside.

Today it found me again. I picked it up and read it again…and then again.

There aren’t many words, but the words there feel significant and the spare inky drawings seem just right.

Here’s a favorite page of mine:

“Do you have a favorite saying?” asked the boy.

“Yes” said the mole.

“What is it?”

“If at first you don’t succeed, have some cake.”

“I see, does it work?”

Every time.”

Some days you just need to have some cake. And maybe read this book, The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse by Charlie Mackesy, who says in the introduction, “This book is for everyone, whether you are 80 or 8–I feel like I’m both sometimes.”

If you need a lift…try this book, there are many more gems inside. Maybe I’ll read it to my class this week.

Saturday’s Work: SOL22 Day 19

March has been a busy month with my Saturdays filled with writing project work. Today was the day for our much awaited Leadership Advanced Institute–a day planned to renew, reconnect, reenergize, and reignite the joy that we have experienced with our colleagues in the past. But three Saturdays in a row is hard.

Luckily we had planned the day we would want. A day filled with social opportunities, engagement with new ideas and thinking, opportunities to inspire writing, and feedback on those writing ideas from our colleagues.

This was our first large-scale in person meeting since the COVID shutdown in 2020. 32 educators gathered on a Saturday because we knew that interactions with each other would be salve to our battered teacher identities.

We created identity heart maps to allow us to connect or reconnect with each other. For some of us, it was the first time we had met off Zoom. A block party got us up and talking, catching up or meeting new friends. Later, we took inspiration from Brene Brown and Daniel Pink as we created maps of our journey from here to there–or there to here.

Our maps became a starting point for writing, sharing our stories–many filled with frustration, regret, and exhaustion. We listened to each other for those moments where the writer might go deeper or the writing might help to explore a complex topic. We talked and listened, knowing the writing would help us through whatever journey we chose to take.

After a lunch delivered–what a treat to sit and eat and talk with friends new and old–we wrote. Time to write is gold! This was not about homework. We will come back and write some more for part two of this Advanced Institute. But before we left, after recording our next steps in writing, we picked a single sentence to read aloud to the group. The symphony of voices and words touched our hearts, knowing we want to hear more, read more, write more. A day of work–but so much more than a job.

Seasons: SOL22 Day 18

All week, spring has been on my mind. For those of you who live where weather is variable, that might seem unsurprising. But given the consistency of weather where I live–there are people who say we only have two seasons: spring and summer–thinking about seasonal change might seem strange.

Walking the beach this afternoon I was noticing how the slant of the sun feels different–and of course, we did just “spring forward” into daylight saving time. It’s becoming more intense, is it higher in the sky these days? And then of course, there are the spring breakers: lots of young, supple bodies laid out like fish fry, soaking up the sun.

When I got home I took a look at my email and was drawn into a New York Times California Today newsletter entitled “Love Letters to the Golden State.” As I skimmed through I noticed one about my place–and I stopped to read. Yes…this particular love letter captures some of what I love about this place where I live.

Here’s what I read:

“I LOVE the seasons in San Diego. Yes, the seasons. Being a native, I grew up hearing the transplant residents commiserating, ‘There are no seasons here!’ as they stood in their driveways, happily donning sunglasses and short sleeves.

They’re missing it, I’d think. The changing shadows, the subtle and beautiful shifts in the Chinese oak trees, the brilliant and changing hues in the morning and evening skies, the homey smell of wet neighborhood streets, the ebb and flow of the scents of desert herbs … and so much more.” — Sylvia Padilla Sullivan, San Diego

Those seasonal changes fill the air–if you stop to pay attention to subtle changes. It’s about color and air…and the ocean too. And of course, the weather gets warmer, our chances for rain decrease…and it won’t be long before the foggy part of spring comes to put a nice damp gray blanket on our days.

But for now, I am enjoying the emerging spring with longer brighter days. I’m watching for the cactus flowers to appear, for the succulents to bloom, and the beach parking lots to fill. What are your markers of seasonal change? Are they obvious or do you have to pay close attention using all your sense?

Wave Song: SOL22 Day 17

I hear them call from a distance, a ripple swish invitation to come and play.

We dance on the shoreline, chasing one another, pulling me closer then pushing me back while all the time singing a song of water and moon in my ear.

Some moments are a whisper, secrets of the sea lapping on the shore. Sun drenched stretches shattering the light into a million sparking diamonds.

And then there is the soaring chorus, pounding percussion in the background. Walloping drum rolls with cymbal crashes as the white foam curves and curls, unfurling toward the shoreline.

I notice the standing ovation in the background and the chants of encore as I prepare to leave.

Even as I walk away, the echoes continue to sound in my ears. The wave song beckons me in, sends me off, and calls me back with a melody that constantly changes with a rhythm I never forget.