Bighorn sheep herd 05/26/14

Bighorn sheep herd 05/26/14
There were about a dozen bighorn sheep this date 052614 up on Highway 74, above Palm Desert, CA, and right above Deep Canyon.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Guess who showed up in the yard and stayed for a visit?

Yup.  Mr. Dove Eater himself!  And, yes, he caught a dove a couple of days ago.  Yesterday, however, he came for a drink and then settled and stayed with his feet in the bird bath.  Our daughter had stopped by to show me the clothes she bought for her 16 month old daughter when he landed next to the bird bath.  We both just sat and watched him.  He wasn't after a dove yesterday...he was more interested in the water.  Of course, it was 117 degrees outdoors...ugh!  Finally when our daughter opened the front door, he took off and I snapped the last photo.  I always know when he is around the yard because ALL the birds scatter, although the mockingbirds DO heckle him!  I am glad I got to observe him for a while.  POOF!  Gone!

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Bird pics

Just some bird photos from the mountains.  The grosbeaks which are in the desert in late spring were spotted up in Idyllwild!  They'll be back in the desert later.  For now, they are enjoying their time in the mountains.  I saw some nuthatches and other birds I haven't identified yet.  The jays woke me up every morning...ravens, too!  I could hear, off in the distance, the calls of a red-tailed hawk.  There seems to be a pair of them up near the town.  It was so relaxing to just sit outdoors on the patio and listen to the calls of the birds, the swoosh of the trees in the wind, and to experience a mountain thunderstorm.

Monday, July 28, 2014

A big THANK YOU to you all!

I wish to extend a big "Thank you" to all who read my blog post about teachers and PTSD.  I know I have at least one more year to go...who knows after that.  And, honestly, with 5 horses to support, I really NEED to keep going.  My district has NOT offered an early retirement bonus now for about 6 years, so they are due to do that this year....cross your fingers for me!  They usually give you credit for a couple of years, which would really help.

I'm going to eat better this year and make smoothies with my Vitamix and drink fresh juices.  There is a FRESH juice bar now here in Palm Desert and a Whole Foods is going to open September 24th.  School starts August 21, so it will only be a month until it opens and I can start buying fresh salads there.  I really like Whole Foods.

Hubby and I and our daughter and her family just spent a weekend up in Idyllwild. She rented a 2 bedroom cabin and they brought their infant daughter with them (of course!).  We had one day of 98 degree weather, but Friday there was RAIN and a thunderstorm!  Saturday was cloudy and yesterday was absolutely delightful, but we had to clean the cabin and come home.  There were clouds and a nice breeze.  Later that afternoon, there was RAIN, a thunderstorm, and HAIL in Anza!  Not sure about Idyllwild...I'm sure they got rain.

It is VERY dry up there.  The squirrels are skinny.  Each night, we would hear them up in the pine trees getting pine cones, munching on them, and then dropping them on the roof!  Poor little skinny things!  Such is the state with our drought.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

A few of my new friends

Our daughter booked a cabin in Idyllwild for her 36th birthday, so we got to tag along and split the bill.  It was warm here Thursday (98 degrees), but yesterday morning I could smell rain. Clouds were moving quickly overhead and by 10:00, it was POURING up here.  What a delight.  The rain cooled everything down.  We made a dash to the local bakery and bought 4 slices of red velvet cake, a brownie, a lemon bar, and a peanut butter/chocolate coated bar.  Then, off to the library to check out the used books.  After a stop at the grocery store, it was back to the cabin for the afternoon.  It might rain again here today and it is chilly this morning.  What a nice break from the desert, although they did get a downpour, too, yesterday.  These are some of my friends up here at the cabin.  There are chipmunks who dash around, gray squirrels, ground squirrels, blue jays, crows, nuthatches, and loads of other birds I have yet to identify!

Friday, July 25, 2014

Dragon clouds~SkyWatch Friday~072514

Dragon cloud?  I thought so...
SkyWatch Friday for July 25, 2014.   To visit SWF, please go to:

Thursday, July 24, 2014


Thank you, Al, and others, for your kind words from my post about teaching.

One reader over at Al's blog:
mentioned that teachers suffer from PTSD.  You know, I'd never considered that, but I think what he said is true.  By the way, two teachers left my school last year due to stress.  One of my colleagues got to the point where she was taking one day off...A WEEK!  She could handle her class of miscreants 4 days, but not 5!

Last year was my hardest year, in the 28 years I've taught.  I had 30 students.  10 of them were REAL behavior problems.  That's 1/3 of the class.  Not just a couple.  TEN!!!  This was the most unmotivated, unconcerned, uncaring group of kids EVER.  They couldn't sit still.  Read a book?  FORGETABOUTIT!  They couldn't pay attention.  "Huh?  What page are we on?  What?  Our math book?"  They couldn't retain information.  I looked into the effects of pesticides and pretty much decided that their brains were fried from pesticide exposure.  Many have parents who work in the fields, harvesting our watermelons, grapes, and other crops that are grown in our valley during the year.  Let's face it...the parents get exposed to the stuff in the fields, it gets on their clothing and hair and shoes, they track it into their homes, the babies and kids are exposed to it, and yes, it is IN their bodies and nervous system.  Maybe that's why they couldn't sit still or focus or pay attention?

Maybe...but the previous year's class COULD sit still, COULD focus, and COULD pay attention, so maybe that theory doesn't work?

A couple of coworkers said, "Bad drugs".  That could be.  I have no idea.  Whatever it was, they nearly did me in.

I used all 10 of my sick leave days, plus about 6 more.  I got docked for the 6 days and didn't even care.  I got excused for 2 days of jury duty and I went skipping outta there.  :-)  Oh, and I was out 6 days due to being tripped by one of my students while they were  out at PE playing soccer.  I ended up on the ground with a concussion.

So, the last day of school, one girl announced that her mother was bringing pizza.  Well, it was a minimum day (1/2 day).  I was anxiously waiting for her to show up as we were cleaning up the room after our chips, cookies, and drinks.  Chairs were stacked.  Desks were cleaned.  The bell rang.  The mother shows up at the door with the pizzas as the kids are RUNNING out of the room!  Most ran back, grabbed a slice, and ran out again.  I never did get to say goodbye to them!  Oh, well...

Back to PTSD...I think that is what I had last year.  I had constant stomach aches.  I was constantly dizzy.  Some mornings I would DREAD getting out of bed.  I would hide under the covers.  I developed an eyebrow that twitched.  I would come home at 4 p.m. and sleep for 2 hours, eat dinner, and go to bed at 7 p.m.  Really, I think the ONLY thing that kept me from going INSANE was the support of my colleagues.  I didn't finally relax until we took one trip to Lake Tahoe and the Sierras and another trip to San Diego.  After the Fourth of July, the eye twitch went away, but now the nightmares have begun.

Yes, teaching today is VERY different than the era that we all went through.  Since my mother was a teacher, she knew most of my principals.  (She, however, taught in downtown Los Angeles.  I went to school in the suburbs.)  If I had misbehaved (and I did once...I was caught swinging from the bars on one of the bathroom stalls in 5th grade...) I was severely dealt with.  That usually involved either a slap on the face or a slap on the butt.  And, those weren't lukewarm slaps.  I misbehaved...a total of ONE TIME.  That was it.  Kids today?  They get away with nearly everything.  And, if a parent calls and complains about a teacher, admin USUALLY backs the parents...don't want "upset" parents, right?  So, we ARE fairly limited as to what we can do to the young upstarts.  And, they know it.  They talk back to us  (a "non-suspendable" behavior).  Defiance?  FORGETABOUTIT....not suspendable.  I DID have one young upstart suspended two years ago when he screamed, "Let's KILL Mrs. Dean!"  (a threat to my life...)  He was suspended for a day.  And, no, he wasn't kidding.  He HATED me because I made him do his work (or tried to...)  This year one of my boys was suspended for a day (again) because he scratched two girls on their arms and then said, "If you tell, I'm going to lie about it!"  They told me, I sent them to the office with the evidence on their arms and also wrote down what he'd said.  He was gone for a day, back the next day.

Let's face it...I'm 62 years old now.  My mom retired when she was 62.  I really need to endure this until I turn 65, then I'm DONE.  Three more LONG years...sigh...until they either beat me or I outlast them.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Hottest day of summer and a new record!

Today was the hottest day of summer so far and it was also a new record...It was 118 degrees here today.  Ugh.  That's ALL I can say.

I had to go out front and use the weed eater along our side ("dry tuffs of grass") lawn.  I now also HAVE to water it for 3 minutes 2x daily in order to green it up, according to the city code enforcement supervisor.  What a crock!  Doesn't he know that we are in a record-breaking drought?  If I don't water it, I'll get a citation and $$$.  I did trim trees yesterday and this morning I was able to get all the "debris" into a large trash container.  I swept the driveway (didn't use the hose!) and cleaned all that up, too.  Finally, I reinforced a couple of boards that were loose in our fence.  Everything should be just spiffy now!  :-)