Sunday, March 29, 2009

"Summery" Afternoon in the Hakone Gardens

This was a long week. Ed was off doing research down South, and this week apart made us both realize how much better life is together :)

The job search/layoff process is still being stressful (I have a hearing scheduled for next week.....normal but not fun), as is teaching. And, just to make matters worse, I some how got a mild case of bursitis in my left knee, which made me almost unable to walk for a day. Without Ed, I sort of dissolved in a panic. It stayed bad for just a day, and by now is almost better. My doctor said that since my quad have gotten weak, my knee probably got bugged from my hike last weekend.

It is so nice to have Ed back. We went out to celebrate for a late dinner after his flight on Santana Row, and unwittingly picked a very happening place. Now, Ed and I rarely go out, and pretty much never go any place that could be described as "happening" by any stretch of the imagination. But at 10pm on a Friday night, Santana Row was just that. We went to Blowfish Sushi, so hip that they had guys at the door checking ID! The music was blaring and the place was full of people our age having a good time. We've discovered that it is fun to act our age sometimes :)

Yesterday, we did an activity more our norm, a nice walk through a beautiful place. The Hakone gardens were built in 1917, and are beautiful Japanese Styled Landscaping and buildings. The place was packed, including two wedding parties taking photographs. It was also about 80 degrees! It certainly felt like summer. We picked up a picnic lunch on our way there, and enjoyed a peaceful afternoon, wandering, reading, and enjoying the weather. It definitely helped to reduce the stress and get me ready to face the next week.

Only 9 working days until Spring Break :) Thank goodness!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Blue Skies at Save Mt Diablo 50k

No, I"m not suddenly out running ultras again, but I did get the opportunity to volunteer at one this morning. This was a race put on by my running friend Mike Palmer. He asked if I might be able to volunteer, and, since I have a love of Mt Diablo and was feeling like it would be fun to step back into the ultra scene briefly.

The only downside with volunteering was the wake-up time. I got scheduled to work the registration desk, which meant that I had to leave at the awful hour of 4:30!! I left a sleeping Ed, who was leaving for a flight a few hours from then, and stumbled into my car, hoping that I wouldn't get lost since Ed was borrowing my GPS for the week (he's down conducting research in San Diego for the week). After a quick gas stop, I was off into the dark morning.

I started well as I went from freeway to freeway, but when I got off the freeway, my directions got, well, odd. It told me to go South on my exit, which I dutifully did, but then told me to go North (which I read after a good 5 minutes on the road). Around I went, but then accidently got back on the freeway. I then had to get off at the next exit and got lucky taking a surface street back to the road.

As I left the freeway and headed increasingly into the hills, it began to feel a bit, well spooky. I could just make out the rolling hills around me in the darkness. Cars occasionally went by, but it was fairly deserted. There were signs posted warning, "Drive Safe, Stay Alive!" As I looked up to the hillsides, I could make out the silhouettes of windmills looking ominous as they spun. Finally, I saw a few cars driving off from the main row, and guessed that that was the spot. Luckily it was!

The next hour was full as we set up the tents, tables, and all the registration papers.

The runners began arriving at 7am, most on the race bus, and we got everyone checked in. I saw some familiar faces including Mike, of course, and Ernesto, both who I hadn't seen for almost 2 years. They both commented that they almost didn't recognize me, but made me realize how long I've been gone from the ultra scene. I was also wearing glasses and had my hair down, which didn't help with my recognizability.

Before we knew it, it was time to send the runners off.

They got an inspirational pep talk from Bob, who is a wheelchair hiker. He has done the 50k course over 4 days!

After the runners took off,

we broke down the site and loaded up the truck to be carted to the finish. Then we got to take a break and enjoy the scenery.

I then hung out with some of the other volunteers, Bob, and Mark, a man who was scheduled to run the race but had a cold that got in the way. Bob was telling us great stories about all the beautiful places he has been, including his highly recommended Carizzo Plain.

As we were talking, I was just impressed by how beautiful the surroundings looked, and decided to go off on a short hike by myself before I headed back.

I went off, taking in the beauty of the land, and was thoroughly enjoying myself, until I saw them.


Now, anyone who has run with me knows I'm odd about wildlife. I'm hugely paranoid about Mountain Lions. But I'm also sort of scared of cows. And these seemed, well, huge! There were 2 about 10 feet from the trail, and I swear one of them kept looking at me in a sort of threatening way. I slowly walked closer for a few minutes, but finally decided it wasn't worth it and turned around.

I was a bit over halfway back to the car when I ran into Mark, who was heading off on a solo jaunt of his own. As I have possibly embarrassingly done in the past, I decided to latch onto his walk if he would let me. Thankfully, he didn't mind and I now had a walking buddy to keep me from getting intimidated by the cows.

Once we got past the cows, I was really enjoying the walk. It was breathtaking.

It was also fun to chat with a new person and hear about running stuff. Since he was a bit sick and I have my leg, we just walked about a mile and a half before we turned around. I think he was a bit amused by my photo taking obsession, not having gotten to experience it before.

Luckily he was a good sport :) Talking with new people is one of the best parts of being out on the trails.

It was such a lovely day, though. My leg hurts a little more now, but not too badly. I really need to be hiking more. It was beautiful!

Monday, March 09, 2009

Pink Friday Facts

Thanks so much for the support everyone :) I'm confident things will work out!

Since I'm in the midst of it all, I thought I'd take the opportunity to share some information about an "event" being held across the state, "Pink Friday." This Friday, educators along with individuals who support public education are encouraged to wear pink - in support of the thousands of "pink slips" that will be issued to teachers by the March 13th deadline. At this point, 19,099 teachers have been given pink slips (so I'm certainly in good company...)

Here are some staggering facts: (courtesy of
California ranks 47th in the nation in per-pupil spending
California has the 7th largest economy in the world
An $11.6 billion cut to K-12 schools is the equivalent of laying off 165,714 teacher, OR 290,000 custodians, bus drivers and other classified employes, OR closing California schools for 40 days, OR increasing class size by 55 percent
Community colleges will be cut by more than $230 million
California university budgets will be cut by 10%

Obviously there's a problem with the current solution to get money from the state by cutting the education budget. The students aren't going anywhere, and they need their teachers, those who take care of the school, the current school year, and their class sizes.

If you're up for it, help support educators with Pink Friday!

Friday, March 06, 2009

It isn't pink?

(No leg progress. My PT has essentially given up, considering over 2 months of weekly treatment has essentially done nothing to diminish the pain. I have a doctor's appointment next week and will most likely get a steroid shot to try to help the pain as my next step. If that doesn't

As our country's and my state's financial situation continues to look increasingly bleak, I knew I didn't have a hope of getting through unscathed.

Our district has been pretty open with us and the union has made sure we understand this whole unhappy process.

Still, getting called in yesterday to told that I'm getting laid off wasn't the greatest experience. My principal was wonderful, telling me how much she would like to keep me on staff and how the district really does want to keep good, young teachers, but it's out of her hands. It isn't a good time to be a new teacher. Despite stellar evaluations and lots of hard work, she wanted to warn me that I would be getting a pink slip.

Sure enough, a very nice mail man came today with a special envelope just for me. As I signed for it, he told me that he had a lot to deliver today. With over 200 layoffs happening in our district and thousands statewide, it's not a surprise. There is a statewide effort to wear pink this coming friday, which is the last official day districts can hand out pink slips.

My biggest surprise in all this- A pink slip isn't pink?!?

Did everyone already know this? I was 100% expecting a slip of pink paper that announced my termination of employment. I was a little disappointed, to be honest :) At first that worried me, because I was afraid that, instead of a pink slip, they had sent me a non-reelection notice- which simply means they don't want me back for next year- and that I have no rights to try to get rehired.

So, now I have a decision to make. I have to figure out if I want to wait and hope to get rehired once the budget gets straightened up or if I want to try my luck in a district, or even a new kind of job while I'm waiting for the budget to get better. It is pretty frustrating to find something that I love and that I'm actually pretty good at and possibly not be able to do that next year.

I have hope, though. There have to be jobs for teachers, somewhere.