Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Just One Thing

For years one of my New Year's resolutions has been "Drink More Water."  

Sound familiar?

Lucky for me I have one VERY SMART friend (who just happens to be the girlfriend of my Sonny Boy) who introduced me to these water bottles back in June.

The are made by Copco and are the best water bottles on the PLANET!

I have used them consistently since June and because of them I am one well-hydrated woman these days.  

The best thing about these bottles is they unscrew so you can clean them.  You can also add big pieces of ice to get cold water fast OR you can put strawberries, cucumbers, lemons, etc. in them to make for some tasty H2O.

Because I am a nut, I bought eight of them.  I keep four at school and keep four at home. 

They run about $8.00-$10.00 a bottle.  You can buy them on Amazon.  I got mine at JoAnn's for $7.50 with a 20 percent off coupon.  

Some might want a bigger size, and some companies make ones that unscrew like these that are larger. 

For me, these are just right.   

I take one with me in the morning and drink it on the way to school and always grab one at quitting time and drink it on the drive home. 

Driving time is drinking (water) time!  

My cat Zelda believes that any water glass is her personal cat bowl, so these have also come in handy to have by my bed.  Not that I don't appreciate some flavorful cat saliva in my water....

Sometimes it takes just one little thing to make life so much easier.  It may seem silly to do a happy dance over a water bottle, but I am certainly doing just that.

Happy Hydration, My People!

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Betty Got Flame

What is it about fire that draws us in?   

There's something dreamy about sitting and watching the flames.  Ahhhhhhh.....

I currently have my living room set up so that two of the chairs face away from the fireplace, and this being California, we rarely need (or want) the extra heat a fireplace brings anyway.  I like candles, but one or two scattered around the room just doesn't cut it for a drama-seeking gal such as myself.  

So, I came up with a way to maximize the sparkle of little candles placed together.

Here's how I did it: I took (incredibly cheap) 8X10 frames with glass and took off the backs.  I crumpled up aluminum foil (fun!) and covered those backs with it, then popped them back on the glass.

I actually did five of the frames so I could line them up on my long dining room table for dramatic effect.  I like the square shape four of them make when they are on my coffee table.  I think it looks a little more like a communal fire this way.

Normally, I have books and magazines on the table, so I store the frames on the shelf just underneath the table.  This makes it really easy to pull out and set up.

The other night we had friends over and after a rousing round of board games at the dining room table, we needed to calm down, so we adjourned to the library with glasses of wine.  I got out the frames, and set a great, late night, gather-around-the-campfire Kumbayah kind of atmosphere.  I put on a little soothing music and soon my guests forgot all about the crushing defeat I had handed each of them via the board games.

Mine are just plain frames, but you could get even cool, fancy frames with higher sides and just do one or two for a dresser top.

Try it!  Take that frame that holds the picture of terrible old Aunt Hilda and put it to good use finally.

You (and lots of candles) light up my life!

Monday, October 27, 2014

Monday Morning Flowers!

Happy Monday Everyone!

Kia Louise says don't click on that mouse!  It's still Betty's Blog, just with a new look!  

I thought it was time for a change.  What do you think?

I've been buried in papers and grading lately, but it's time for me to exercise my own creativity. 
That means you'll be seeing me around the blogosphere more in the upcoming weeks.  
Can you handle it????
I think you can.

Here's to understanding that it is by honoring our creativity that we encourage it in others.

...and then use that anger.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Monday Morning Flowers

Good Mondays to you all!

I got out a little late last night to gather these flowers for you.  

My first thought was I would need to lighten them up, but I rather like the dark, dreamy quality of the light.

One of my goals as a photographer and a writer is to start trusting my instincts more and stop following conventional wisdom.

Thus, I present to you these flowers, and hope you follow and celebrate your instincts today. 

Trust your intuition, your inner knowing; allow yourself to be immersed in the process of creation as a joyous and sacred dance of materials; neither listen to critics nor be one; leap into the dark secure in the knowing that wherever your feet touch down will be the right place at the right time. 
                                                                                 --Burnell Yow

Saturday, September 6, 2014


The vine appeared almost overnight and where no vine had ever been before, in the little patch of ground filled with delicate alyssum plants just outside my kitchen window.   

I eyed it suspiciously.  

The power-hungry squash vine had already taken over one side of the yard.  Had it somehow broken through the line of defense that the lawn and patio provided in its quest for universal domination?  I looked over at the wily squash plant who played it cool, close to the ground, doing its best to like just another innocent gourd.  

Yeah.  Right.
I considered the new green vine with its vibrant blossoms.   Squash or no squash, it certainly wanted to live, to travel and to bloom.  I understood completely and let it be.

Soon it was obvious that this was not a squash plant, but a pumpkin that had popped up.  This puzzled me since there has never been pumpkin plant in the back yard, or even a pumpkin on the patio for years.  

I watched it over the weeks.  Only one blossom developed, slowly changing from green, to yellow, until finally a heavy orange moon rested there amid the white stars of alyssum.  

A few weeks ago, my friend Lori was visiting me from the Virgin Islands.  As we sat on the patio,  I told her the story of the pumpkin and suddenly, I realized that the seed must have come from a homemade bird seed star that she sent me at Christmas time.  It had hung in a branch from a fichus tree not far from the spot where the pumpkin had grown.  We sat looking at the pumpkin, smiling and simultaneously toasted it with our iced teas, neither one of us really knowing why.  It just felt like the thing to do.

The pumpkin is now on my table, Lori has returned to the Virgin Islands, and I have returned to a very busy school semester. 

The other day I was working my way through my school e-mail account—most of it mundane work-related stuff--when I came across a note from a past student, thanking me for my help a few years back.  She told me she had learned so much in my class and from me and wanted me to know she appreciated it.  As I read the e-mail in which she filled me in on her current life, (attending a university, getting ready to graduate) I was embarrassed that I did not immediately recognize the name. (In fact, it took me a couple of days to remember who she was.)   When I was done with the e-mail, I sat back, grateful for her words, but also grateful that I had apparently done my best when she was in my class.

I have many students who are the first in their families to attend college, so I spend some time at the start of every semester, motivating them to overcome some of the obstacles life will put in their path on their way to their diplomas.  Usually I tell them if they stick with it they’ll be rewarded with better jobs and more money. 

This year, however, I am telling them about my pumpkin.

I tell them how that singular seed fell from a gift from a friend, was blown by the wind, and was probably buried by a cat’s paw as she sat in the dirt, looking up, making a (no doubt nefarious) wish on the birdseed star.  In the dark earth, it nestled there for months until it got enough water, sunshine, and strength to sprout, bloom and grow.

I tell my students they may not think their act of making the decision to further their education is a big deal, but that somewhere somebody is watching.  Maybe it’s a little brother or sister, or a neighbor kid or maybe even a parent who has secretly always wanted to go back to school.  Whether they know it or not, their actions and their attitudes matter to someone who is thinking about gathering up the courage to take on something big in life. 

It's a lesson we all need to be reminded of from time to time, whether by a teacher, a friend, or by a large, beautiful pumpkin.  

"When we do the best we can, we and never know what miracle is wrought another in our life or the life of another.”   
--Helen Keller


Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Back to School!

We've just started the second week of the semester so I have been in Teacher Mode, getting all my classes organized and underway.  This includes getting my sixty-four  101 students  into Blogland, helping them create their blogs to use in the class and hopefully even after the class.  (After I have helped them develop their love of writing, don’t you know.) 

The first of the semester is a wonderful time of hope and renewal.  Anything is possible.  My students can choose to leave their pasts behind and create new images.  Almost all of them are enthusiastic and hopeful.  I look out at my filled classrooms and see so many hope and dreams sitting there.  I also see the ones who are a bit wary, wondering if they can trust me or not.  

Each fall semester I remind myself that I may be the first college teacher they have ever had.  I know can set a positive tone or a negative one.   I think you know which one I choose.

Along with students, we teachers get a new opportunity with each start of a semester.  We can rely on the old stuff, be the same people we have always been, or we can step out, take chances and get out of our comfort zones a little.  It’s not easy when you’ve been doing the same things over and over, year after year, but is there anything more deadly than a teacher who is staid, and well, frankly bored with themselves?

Whether you are directly involved with the school system or not, I think this is a good time of year to feel that sense of renewal  and hope.  Pushing boundraies, taking chances, nudging  yourself out of safe routines is all necessary to feel truly alive.  You’ll succeed some,  you’ll fail some, and hopefully laugh at your own foibles.

So, Happy New Year in August.  Buy yourself some kicky new boots.  Throw out that pesky book on the night stand that you’ve been “meaning to get to,” and pick up whatever really appeals to you. Eat lunch with someone new.

I hope you'll sit in the front row in this classroom called life. Raise your hand and join in the discussion.  Break some rules.  Break lots of rules.  

Don’t ever think your voice doesn’t matter.  

Because it does.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Monday Morning Flowers!

Good Monday, My People!

Usually I ask about your week ahead, but lately I've been reading about mindfulness and the need to be present in the moment.   

So, how's your moment?

How's your right now?

You must live in the present, launch yourself on every wave, find your eternity in each moment. Fools stand on their island of opportunities and look toward another land. There is no other land; there is no other life but this.

                                                                                                    --Henry David Thoreau