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Planting walnut trees with the Mountain View tree people

Feb. 3rd, 2013 | 07:42 pm

“Tree planting is always a utopian enterprise, it seems to me, a wager on a future the planter doesn’t necessarily expect to witness.” -Michael Pollan’s Second Nature: a Gardener’s Education

I had signed up to be a tree planting volunteer at a table set up by mountainviewtrees.org at our local farmers market. Got an email and even though it was suppose to be rainy, I dragged myself over to the site. Turned out to be a break in the rain, which made it easy to dig. I help 2 bigger stronger guys dig the holes, which weren’t very big at all because we just had tiny trees.

When it came time to “plant” our second tree we invited a mom and her 3 kids to actually put it in the ground. There were lots of families with kids there. Two people had brought older girls, maybe 11 year olds and there were two families with 3-10 year olds like our group. The trees are next to a Senior center, day care and bike path. We made sure to have the mom take a great photo of the kids next to the tree so they can come back some day and look at it.

Great way to spend a Saturday.

See more progress on: Do more community service

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T minus 2500->2495

Feb. 3rd, 2013 | 07:00 pm

One thing with this goal is that its a memory test. If you don’t do it every week, then you’re going to forget. Maybe not everyone forgets as much as me, but I’m having a hard time remembering what I did each Saturday this last month so I had to go check on FB and reconstruct my life. sad.

(2499)Jan 5 – Really can’t remember but I posted this on picture on FB and updated my status to say that I got a kernel of popcorn stuck in my throat watching Jack White and tried to wash it down with a wine cooler.
(2498)Jan 12 – Donated Blood
(2497)Jan 19 – Took photos at the park
(2496)Jan 26 – Planted a tree next to the senior center
(2495)Feb 2 – worked Submitted a grant for special ed technology

I calculated my possible number of Saturdays based on living to be about 100 years. This is a high estimate because my parents both passed away near 90. I figure with medical advances I’ll make it longer. I subtracted my current age for 100 and multiplied that by 52 and rounded up. So the number in parenthesis represents my total remaining Saturdays.

I considered what 2500 marbles in a jar might look like and rather than continue to wait to do the countdown until I have the right marbles and jar, I decided to just start.

I also considered what I want the cumulative meaning of the Saturdays to represent. I think it should be about me. If Saturday is about the best of myself, then at least some small percentage of my life will represent time that was meaningful in some way.

See more progress on: Count my Saturdays.

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The Sisterhood of the Traveling Stanford Hoodie

Jun. 25th, 2012 | 05:36 am

Sometimes plans go astray. We started our afternoon by watching the beginning of “The Adjustment Bureau” and eventually ended up at Alice’s Restaurant(not kidding). The original intention was to go for the synchronized walk but wow, we we pushed off track. I did not see any guys in suits but I believe they were around.

It was sort of chilly outside today. I had on shorts because they were on the top of my laundry pile. Also a sleeveless top, so I took an extra shirt and my prized Stanford hoodie. I didn’t think I’d need it. Grabbed the camera, my bag, and a bottle of water.

So first we had a disagreement about where to go for the walk. My boyfriend wanted to go to the estuary near us. I sort of had my heart set on Crystal Springs, which is a beautiful reservior that lies atop the San Andreas faultline along Highway 280 which is the “World’s Most Beautiful Freeway”. I pouted and 2 wrong turns, Sunday Bike Days that resulted in 2 blocked roads and 2 closed trails later, we decided to go to Half Moon Bay and drink. We gave up on hiking. We decided to go to a brewery and eat.

Instead we turned onto not one, but two, yes TWO, unusable beaches. One was a private beach with no parking and the second had cliffs too steep to even consider. We went South instead of North. The drive down Highway 1 was beautiful though. Its the journey.

Finally we ended up at San Gregorio Beach. Flipping AMAZING. Its a place where a stream hits the Pacific Ocean so there are piles of driftwood everywhere. People have built and spend the day building these cool structures. There were kites, family picnics, children with buckets of sand and self made driftwood palaces. Magical. And of course there was this….

As we walk our 4th path of the day to the promised hike, a group of very drunk young people came tumbling down the path with us. Literally, two of the girls slipped on the sand and toppled over. I shall refer to them now as the girl with the flower sundress and the girl with the long skirt. We were pretty entertained by the sillyness of them.

We found a place on the beach. We built a driftwood fortress. Drank some champaigne and settled in. A family next to us lounged on the sand with their 7 year old in a deep sand pit with a driftwood tower, a 5 year old with a bucket and shovel and a 3 year old laying on the mom watching seagulls. An older couple held hands and sat on a blanket. A group of college aged engineering types did handsprings in the sand, built a gigantic driftwood lean to and posed for pictures balancing on top of it.

The partiers were playing in the surf. One went to far in the water and the guy with them had to get her out of the rip tide. Eventually the long dress and the sundress came off and they laughed and played in the waves in their underwear. Its all fun and games until someone is so drunk that they can’t walk anymore.

So people got concerned. We watched as the lifeguards, some helpful beachgoers and finally the rangers eventually came to get the girl with the long skirt back up off the beach to the car. She wasn’t making it.

Her friend with the (also missing) flower sundress ( I think it floated off with the long skirt and shirt) and the long skirt girl attempted to head home but alas, one of them could not stand anymore. The rangers came. The missing flower sundress girl stood in her underwear, now sober, and explained to the ranger that her friend was a lightweight and unable to handle her liquor. The ranger asked now in only her underwear and unable to sit up long skirt girl her name, how old she was, and yes, could she sit up. No, none of those things were available anymore from her. She just laid on her back watching the world spin.

I so wanted to tell her to just go ahead and throw up.

The family with the 3 kids packed up and left.

It was apparent that more law enforcement were on their way. We watched from our driftwood leanto and secretly drank some more.

Now, you have to understand. I had a Stanford hoodie on that I’d probably worn every day for the last 2 years on. I even slept in that thing when I went to Reno in the winter and had to battle snow. I wore it to my old University, which was NOT Stanford , to finish my last class. I wore it to meetings and was asked if I was Stanford Alumni, and then bore the burden of being snubbed because I dared to wear an inappropriate Hoodie. I got the hoodie at Goodwill for $5 brand new. It was a bargain because they retail for about $45 at the Stanford Bookstore. Since I don’t ever spend more that $7 on any article of clothing, it was perfect. PERFECT.

But I felt sorry for the girls. I knew they were cold. I kept imagining the police photo of them in their bras. We didn’t have towel or blanket since we didn’t ever intend to go there. My compassion got the best of me. I wondered if the ranger would look me over and figure out how much I had to drink or think I was with them but it somehow didn’t matter.

I took my hoodie to the girl without her flowered sundress on anymore. She started to cry and said, “Thanks, I’m really cold”.

I started to walk back. I realized that the girl with no long dress, laying flat on her back like a sea lion on the beach probably wasn’t feeling cold, but the mom in me just couldn’t leave her that way. Went back and gave her my long sleeved shirt.

Her friend tried to cover her up but she just threw it off.

I did my part. The Adjustment Bureau guys probably were looking down on us from the cliffs over the beach. We packed up and left. We drove back toward Silicon Valley via La Honda and stopped at Alice’s for Margaritas and a bowl of Chili. I was a little cold but it felt OK.

I would like to think that the girl with my Stanford hoodie will look at it tomorrow morning as she nurses her hangover and say, “I should really go back to school”. Thats what I hope. It worked for me.

Anyway I hope others had such great synchronized walks as mine today.

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Doughnuts to Sunflowers

Apr. 14th, 2012 | 10:59 am

We did the third happy meetup this week. It was totally awesome. We are starting to form a small core group and so we all got to spend some time really connecting for a few moments.

We did an exercise with an Ontology life coach. http://coachingvision.info/ontological-coaching/ It was very fun and pretty revealing.

The synchronicity/magic moment of the the experiment was when I realized what my current photo really means. That little photo of the plumeria trees shadow. Why did I take that photo? What does it represent? I'll explain.

In our exercise we learned about how you sort of have an inner core of fear that you go to and a set of behaviors that are protection. That’s the stuff that we who have thought about as the reactions to our childhood. We sort of stay in a comfort zone in our lives like a doughnut around the fear. We seesaw in and out of fear. In our doughnut world we can experience bliss, but we mainly stay comfortable(chocolate frosting). If you take a leap into knowing who you really are, you jump off the doughnut into a new world. Very scary and hard to get there.

The trick is practice. You have an experience then you go to safety on the doughnut. I thought about this really cathartic example. To be in the universe as myself, it might be like being in a field of flowers and missing the last bus home. I couldn't give up that control.

I have to always translate everything into drawings so I started drawing these experiences and how I am with certain situations as flowers. So as your sense of safety gets bigger the fear I think gets smaller and the center is more full. Like a sunflower. All those really expansive moments of who you really are in the universe, those are the petals. Hope this makes sense.

I thought about how I am in the world today. Sometimes I'm a flower. In some places like work, I'm not a flower by the end of the day. Some relationships are like that too. So my aim will be to stay in bloom a little more.

This gets back to my picture. This is on the grass as my daughters house with a shadow of a tree with no leaves or flowers. Our situation is that I'm paying the rent but I'm gone. She's there with the kids, working, going to school, struggling but also growing. I'm the core shadow of a grandmother. I've gone from full on making cookies afterschool, reading bedtime stories, doing homework together, getting kids ready and to school, lets make a tent or do a wacky science/art project to gone. I'm a shadow in their lives. Its almost like I died.

So that was an insight for me. All the ways I flower or don't. A chocolate dougnut will look both like bliss and security for me now, which is appropriate.

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Alzheimer's and grants

Apr. 14th, 2012 | 09:52 am

We have a grant due on Monday so I'm stealing 30 minutes to write on 43 things. This one is for doing an experiment with our product and people with early dementia (MCI) and their caretakers. Doing a lot of research on Alzheimer's in the last month. Its obvious that our product would be a life saver in so many ways. Just hope we get it.
Sobering report came out this week about the increases in the numbers of people with dementia in the next 40 years. The number of cases will double by 2030 and triple by 2050. That implies that our users are now in the MCI stage which is right where starting to use our product would be most useful.I hope we can get this product out soon. It just seems so tragic that we have a solution but cant quite get on the bus.

From reading all of this research I really realize that I have no idea what it would be like to live as a caretaker and watch someone that I love become more effected by Alzheimer's. I know that I can't even imagine the stress, loss, grief and exhaustion. I feel blessed that I've never lived with this. My compassion for those who do is huge.  My admiration for their work and their journey is huge. I just hope I can help them in a way that I understand.

I so admire all those folks who work with people with Alzheimer's every day. Its such an act of love with little pay. This week a video went viral that shows how people can listen to music and the part of their brain that understands music is still intact. Its like this with Stroke too. People can sing when they can no longer speak. Maybe its because music is so powerful that it fills our memories so effectively. This video made me cry because of the love of the people who interact with the elderly man. I wonder if he has been told how his singing has given people so much hope and comfort.

I guess I better get back to grant writing.

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Cousin baby shoot #1

Mar. 10th, 2012 | 01:15 pm
mood: amusedamused

I visited my daughter last week and watched my new little grandaughter for the week while she finished off the last of her job. She had to work for one week after maternity leave to qualify for it. Corporate monsters. This is a baby that nurses and had not taken a bottle and a mommy that had not left the baby at all in 12 weeks. I love babies and I nursed and did childcare for many years so I was uniquely qualified to do the task but I learned something.

Caring for babies is for the young.

I was really tired by the end of the week and my back was worn out. It worked out though and by the second day I had figured out all the baby happy methods required for keeping my sweet little inquisitive grandbaby distracted. Those include; carrying, looking at the pictures on the fridge, stories, mat time, swing, new toys, puppets, walk around the house, fall asleep on gramas chest, music toy on bouncy chair. I even tricked her into taking a couple of small top off growly tummy bottles.

I taught her her how to blow rosebuds. We worked on it all week and she never did it for me. I blew close to her face and let her feel my mouth and the air. I put her little hand there so she'd understand what was going on. We worked on it a little every day while her mom was at work but I didn't tell. The day after I left she started doing it and her mom videotaped it and posted it to FB. Ha HA!

At the end of the week I did a cousins baby photo shoot. Its hard to go wrong with babies and toys except if they are grouchy. We were very lucky and all three of them stayed happy for about 30 minutes. They are all born within a month and are second cousins. We picked out something we thought they could wear for years, jeans and white tshirts, so we can create a timeline for them.

Its always a little odd for me to be around this generation of my daughters cousins. They don't know me at all. I was married to my ex when they were all born. There are a bunch of them too because its a huge family. I know them and their parents but they don't know me, just tales of me I suppose. I always wonder what they think now that I'm around a little more. Life does go on.

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Laughing young scientists

Mar. 10th, 2012 | 12:44 pm
mood: cheerfulcheerful

I was so inspired by this video of this kids rube goldberg monster capture device. He developed a hypothesis and just to see his joy when the thing succeeds was a great moment for me. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0uDDEEHDf1Y&feature=email

He uses some great vocabulary, like “chain reaction”, “shockwave”, “spiral” you know I like that, “lever”, “pully”, “this thing”, “hypothesis” and “trapping the monster” and “it worked” “its surprising”.

I like it when life is like this. Persistence. Creating something, then trying it, then persisting even if it doesn’t work.

Catching very slow moving monsters is fun.

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dream images

Feb. 25th, 2012 | 01:06 pm

Many nights before I go to bed I say, "please show me the answer in a dream". I think those answers are often there but then as I awake they disappear. I try to hold the images for long enough to write them in my journal.

Sometimes the dreams are mixed with unresolved pain or memories that morph into what I'd prefer the memory to be. There like being transported into the future that is what you wish the past to be. Its better than reimagining the past. Its a dream thing that I can't yet describe.

My dream last night was that in desperation, the director of the childrens museum that I used to work at asked us all to design exhibits for the children. The designs would be used to upgrade the exhibits and keep the place alive and interesting. This was an ongoing hope that I had when I worked there but it wasn't the way it worked. Thats the mix of healing and revision that dreams offer.

But when I woke up I managed to capture some of the ideas. Its probably from all the pinterest kids stuff I've been collecting but it was fun anyway.

So what I dreamed about was an early learning word family rhyming room. It was sort of like a carnival but each of the booths was integrated with whatever the root....ack, ain, ake, ale, all, ame, an, ank, ap, ash, at, ate, aw ay, eat, ell, est, ice, ick, ide, ight, ill, in, ine, ing, ink, ip, it, ock, oke, op, ore, ot, uck ,ug, ump, unk  ( found this at http://www.enchantedlearning.com/rhymes/wordfamilies/ )

So it went like this in my dream...
-air.....  hair, how a bout something that blows their hair. It should have a farriswheel....
-all....  ball pit, no ball wall, no ball wall and fall... a ball pit with a wall that you can put the balls and and then make them fall
-at cat bat, no you can't do that its mean to cats, bats are scary...

then I woke up... but it wouldn't stop... so now I'm going to put it on my blog..  The images are in my head but I did manage to sketch some quickly. Need to learn to watercolor paint the dream ones... 

my brain...  Then I internet search..


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The uncomplicated life of the accessory toy - Ken

Feb. 13th, 2012 | 05:49 pm

Ran across this 50th aniversary tribute book http://fab.com/sale/3307/product/67513/ Perseus passionate books “I Love Ken;My Life as the Ultimate Boyfriend”
by Jef Beck . My love of all things Barbie led me, as well as Amazons awesome Editorial Reviews, to discover a whole new world, er blog, dedicated to her accessory boyfriend Ken. Its called Keeping Ken, http://www.manbehindthedoll.com/ and its totally devoted to Kens story.

Turns out that the Barbie anti-tatoo policy has a history. There was a failed attempt with Butterfly Art Steven, an African American version of Ken, circa 1998, who came with a tiny package of the forbidden tatoo transfers. Withdrawn based on the controversial body marking issue.

Returning to my original train of thought, its interesting how deep the character story line for a toy runs when it includes an accessory awesome boyfriend, sister, and best girls, along with the clothes, cars, and shoes. Oh those shoes.

But what about the simple lives of all these handbag level beings? I was thrilled to think that my doppleganger had created a Ken site. He must be doing deep social and psychological analysis on the meaning of being forced into the role of disposible and always secondary life partner. Ken is the guy behind the girl but how did he manage his zenlike devotion, perfection and perkiness? I found this dialog from Toy Story 3.

” Ken: So, who’s ready for Ken’s dream tour?
Lotso: Let’s show our new friends where they’ll be staying!
Ken: Uh, folks, if you’ll just want to step right this way…
[he sees Barbie]
Ken: Hi, I’m Ken.
Barbie: Barbie. Have we ever met?
Ken: I would have remembered.
[she laughs]
Ken: Love your leg wamers!
Barbie: Nice ascot!

and later…
Ken: [Giving Andy’s toys a tour of the daycare, Ken passes his dollhouse] And this… well, this is where I live. It’s got a disco, it’s got a dune buggy, and a whole room just for trying on clothes.
Barbie: [gasps] You have everything!
Ken: Everything… except someone to share it with…
[he walks away]
Barbie: [sighs lovingly]”

Alas, I found that the site was just an awesome history and doll collector’s guide. It was as superficial as poor uncomplicated Ken.

I wondered how the model of Ken, the guy that dresses well, always arrives with flowers and candy, is somehow strong, handsome, wealthy and probably has a trust fund because he seems unemployed, has effected relationships between men and women for our generation. On the day before Valentine’s Day, I wonder about the messages that we could attribute to toys with character.

Maybe those first boyfriend expectations are more based on Ken than the actual men in our lives. It is fantasy but reality could be the version that looks like, Bobby Brown and Whitney or Chris Brown and Rianna. If we start out thinking men will be a color coordinated extension of our matching purse and scarf. Of course, we will expect them to share our household chores with a smile. We’re startled and unprepared when they ignore us for their friends and act angry. Superficial expectations.

Maybe I’m taking this toy design too seriously. Maybe thats why Barbie is the only adult toy to kids. The rest are all animals. Its easier that way. But one thing is sure. Accessory toys deserve their own rich lives. Thats what I’m thinking.

See more progress on: design toys

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Meetup number one

Feb. 13th, 2012 | 02:00 am

Went to our first meetup and it was great. I don’t get out much these days so it was a great opportunity for me to practice some rusty social skills.

One of the ideas that came up, which is awesome, is for us to help each other by participating in one of the activities that the group members suggest. This is to support each other and create a community. Really fantastic idea so I hope I can do this. The idea of Happiness being linked to a strong community was sort of one of the conclusions to the movie “Happy” that I went to see yesterday to celebrate “World Happy Day”.

I also had the realization that I want to have a goal of “52 acts of service” for the year. Maybe not every one will be doing an actual community service activity, but I always say that I will do some community service but never do. So at least every 3 months, I’m going to do something. Also, I don’t give myself credit for the stuff that I do already. Some things like helping my daughters with the kids or participating in the group activities will count.

We talked about an aha moment. Since we are bound by privacy, I won’t share what others shared. My aha moment was when my parents passed. I realized that life is short and so I better change my actions if I wanted to have the obit that I wanted. Sort of morbid but it motivated me to really consider happiness. You get the face you’ve worn all of your life when you’re old. I want smile lines.

Blogs ‘r us – I realized that everyone probably has at least the makings of a somewhat interesting blog in their own life. Many of the folks in the group have them. I liked that and I’m looking forward to sharing online. One thing that I’ve noticed is that I like people but its hard to talk.

I realized that so often I feel the urge when I go to a meeting to find out the basic information about each person. Its mingle mind. Just enough information to “identify the demographic” as my friend puts it. One of the chapters of the book is about how Gretchen learned to stop telling people they were wrong at cocktail parties. She caught herself always responding negatively when making small talk. She tried listening deeply. So for the meeting I tried that and for my next dinner party invitation.

What I realized is that I like to know the superficial stuff and then I go off talking then people walk away. So after I read that in the book at the next party I was at I tried staying in one place and listen to one person. It was hard because my natural urge was to go meet other people. I listened insteat of talking and it was really a soul moment. Connected deeply with someone that I had known but not really realized that I didn’t know at all. It was a great lesson.

My natural urge for the meeting was to meet everyone there and hear their story. I had one of those Disney Family Vacation style fails. We were suppose to each be prepared to share three things that we were going to put in our Happiness Project. I only had two but had worked really hard to be prepared. I was really looking forward to the part of the meeting where each person, in order, like we were in girl scouts, introduced themself and said their things. I imagined my turn so I wouldn’t get nervous and forget. This would allow me to experience my mingle mind of superficial communication and I thought satisfy me. Of course we never did that. I came away frustrated at first.

As I reflected on this I realized that I have 3 communication goals. 1. Figure out how to tell when I’m overtalking. I was so afraid of overtalking that it was really hard to say more than a few sentences. http://www.wikihow.com/Tell-if-You-Talk-Too-Much
2. Learn how to break in when someone else is obviously off on a run. Of course this is sometimes how you get to have that great deep understanding of someone but I’ve never learned a good way to break in when I have a question. 3. Learn to tell an interesting story. I sometimes start to talk and forget what I was going to say and lose track, fade away and seem sort of insane. Need to practice thinking the whole story through so I can quickly make my point and know that its enjoyable for others.

It was a good first meeting.

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