Monthly Archives: May 2014

Tick- Tock Goes the Clock

Grandma making cinnamon rolls

Grandma making cinnamon rolls

May 14, 2014

“Time is on my side, yes it is”- Rolling Stones

I think in song lyrics. There is always a song that expresses my thoughts.
This song has been rolling around all day long, except I panic as I replay it over and over. Time isn’t on my side. It has dawned on me that in 13 days, Abby and I will be in Spain for our pilgrimage.

The stuff we have gathered for our venture these past couple of months, are sitting in bags in the hallway AND on some delivery truck in route from Amazon.

But, this is the norm. I pack at the last minute. I have the stuff, but I procrastinate when it comes to putting it altogether. I learned how to pack from watching my dad pack for back packing trips with the Boy Scouts and our own expeditions that would last a summer. Everything in sacks until a couple of days before departure and then the living room and the couch became the staging area. A list was made. The scale came out. Everything weighed, and placed together in baggies, organized neatly. Everything had a place.

Such is the way I go about packing. All depends on where I’m going and how long I’m going to be away and how many people are coming along. But everything is organized and has a proper place.

I know it will all come together…but still…”time keeps on slippin, slippin, into the future” (Steve Miller). Even with my optimistic attitude, I can feel the pressure mounting.

See, I’m a school teacher. There are four days left before it is over. Lots of things have got to get done. I make a list to keep me sane and check it off as I go. The problems arise when unexpected things go awry. For example, putting together a class movie and the app isn’t working and the school system won’t play the movie that I made due to broken components in the school system and to further complicate the issue, incompatible systems…enough to make me cry as I can visualize THE movie NOT being made in time for the class show. That is to take place. Tomorrow night. Once again, this is an area I procrastinate in.

But, help in the form of my genius tech principal, steps in and remedies the situation. She figures it out and works her magic and has saved the class movie.

My five year old students are prepared for their opera. Costumes finished and set is designed and completed. Tomorrow night’s opera, movie and dinner theater will go on as planned. Because, I have THE List that was organized, checked off and parents who have stepped up and put things together. “Ask and ye shall receive.”

Things just don’t happen to fall into place. Be prepared is the Boy Scout motto. Being the mom of two Eagle Scouts, I can tell you that being prepared helps a whole lot in life, but being able to adapt, accommodate and remain calm when life throws you the curve ball is what makes all the difference in the world.

Today is my Grandma’s 99th birthday. She is alive and kickin. Grandma is in great health. Good genes. Good work ethic. Good exercise. Good outlook on life. All of these and more have contributed to her age. My Grandma loved to travel (she still does), and her way of traveling is the same way I travel. Get in the car and head out. Camp along the way. Stay with family and friends. Life is an adventure, just go and explore it! But, she too would make a list. Pack lightly. Place things in plastic bags. Organize the items. Everything had a proper place. Be prepared, but don’t stress it.

With examples such as these in my life, I know that it all comes together. No one sees the mistakes made or the accommodations one has had to adapt to or the changes that have occurred. Life is a journey. No matter how well you think you prepared and planned, something will go awry. How one chooses to react, will determine the feeling of success or disappointment.

“Que sera, sera” as Doris Day would sang. And with that attitude, I am back in synch. Buen Camino.


May 12, 2014

“I’m going to be a happy idiot and struggle for the legal tender”
(Jackson Browne)

And that is apparently what happens when one does things impulsively, like book tickets to Spain to undertake the Camino pilgrimage, based on a feeling that, “I just have to go!”

Apparently, things have changed over the years. First off, pilgrims don’t get to stay in albergues (hostel types of places) and eat for free in people’s homes. Nor do pilgrims receive free health care along The Way. One doesn’t get something for nothing, nor are we planning on getting by on our good looks. Which means it is going to take cold hard cash to make it from Orange County, CA to Spain and back again without going hungry or without a bed to sleep in during the 500 mile pilgrimage.

Secondly, if you are thinking of going off on the pilgrimage, I would highly recommend that you belong to the American Pilgrims on the Camino. The forum can be found on FaceBook. I wish I had found them a week earlier before I had booked my flights. I would have changed things around, but life is an adventure and we are just going to go have fun. But it is easier when there is a written plan in place without winging it.

The forum is a wonderful group of experienced pilgrims who will answer questions, offer their input, ideas, thoughts, opinions and encouragement. The group reminds everyone that, “it is YOUR Camino” and just because something worked for them, doesn’t mean that it will work for you and your circumstances. But I would listen to their advice. Also, go under the file section of their page and read the information located there. It is chuck full of first- hand knowledge to draw from.

This takes me back to my point about money. We put things off and procrastinate and make excuses about NOT taking off. We say things like “when I get more money…when I have time…when I retire…when the kids get older…when my health improves…when I lose weight…” And the excuses keep on rolling across our tongue. And so I threw caution to the wind and committed before finding everything out. It all will turn out in the end…one just needs to have faith.

I have used to access information and purchase traveler insurance. I bought a plan for both Abby and I that covers us for flight problems, medical issues ( will pay for med vac as well as hospital stays) and if we kick it, the policy even covers the return of our carcasses. A great deal for $120! We also have coverage from our Kaiser plan when we travel out of the country in case of emergencies. Given the state of Spain’s finances, we want to make sure that we are covered for those, “just in case” accidents. For everything else, that is what first aid kits and farmacias are for.

With regards to the cost of where we stay, well, we are hoping that the basic hostels- municipal albergues, parish albergues and the convent/monastery will not be full. We have a book that provides listings of the places for us to stay at. Some accept donations. Some have low set prices. Some include meals and some have facilities available to cook in. These places are set up for pilgrims along the way and you need a pilgrim credential to stay here.

Food is another major need to consider. After reading through the threads on the American Pilgrims on the Camino posts we have figured out that we will eat our main meal during lunch time at caf├ęs, which is later in the afternoon than State time. We will purchase, bread, fruit, veggies, olive packages and tuna packs in the stores along the way for breakfast, snacks and late evening light supper. Evening meals in the towns don’t take place until late in the evening, around 9 pm. That is about the time we will be going to bed and there are curfews in the places we will be staying at. The rates I have seen suggest to plan on E25 a day (about $34 for both food and the cost of a place to stay) for each of us. Eeeek! We are going to HAVE to spend less than this in order to make it for 50 days. We are talking BASIC living. Nothing fancy or grand that is for sure.

See, even walking isn’t free once you start to factor in the cost of daily living expenses. But this isn’t the typical vacation either. Abby and I are on a spiritual quest- a pilgrimage- and we will do without the materialistic needs and comforts as we venture across Spain.

We will rely on faith, support and encouragement from others as we travel. Your donations are warmly welcomed. You can contribute towards our pilgrimage at
And when you do donate, in return I will send you an original 4 x 6 watercolor/drawing.





Movin & a shaking

Movin & a shaking

May 8, 2014

5:11 am is the time I roll out of bed to pull on my workout clothes in order to make it to the 5:30 CrossFit Brea class.


But I’m doing it because I have to. I need to. I want to.

I have to because looking at the pictures, you can see the reason. I also have to, because I need to lose the weight in order to keep medical issues away. The older I get, the more I weigh, the more likely medical issues will impact my life. I’m planning on living to the age of 110. And yes, yes I know that my pension will not cover me, so I’m already stocking up on wet, organic cat food.

I need to, because I’m training my body to walk 500 miles on the Camino. Getting it into condition to do so. Every pound I lose before I set out, is less baggage for me to cart along.

I want to, because I do enjoy working out early in the morning. Get it done. Get it over with. Check it off my list of things to do. This way I can look at my list and see that I was successful at one thing during the day.

And yup, I sometimes have to push myself to get out of bed to go. That is life. Last year in April, I had surgery and couldn’t workout for over three months. By the time I convinced myself that nothing would work its way out of the three holes in my stomach area ( visions of my intestines writhing around like the snakes on Medusa’s head gave me cause to avoid heavy lifting) about a year had gone by before I got my butt back in the gym.

So I’m back in the saddle again…and again…and again.

Changing eating habits, exercise habits, life habits…it is a challenge, but I keep on going and won’t give up. It took me a whole lot of years to gain this weight and it will take many years to get it off.

Now why can’t it just be like the Biggest Loser or those people pictured on the magazines with the bold statement, ” I Lost 100 lbs in 5 months and YOU can too!”

Ya…sure…for them, but not for me. Hence, when I had the surgery last year, I told the doctor that I was hoping that she would discover a massive (non- cancerous) tumor or the remains of an absorbed twin. She told me that I was funny. I told her I was serious as it would provide me with a reason as to why my belly looked this way.

And now that my hopes have been dashed, reality has reached out and smacked me up side the head. I’m going to have to lose the weight the old fashion way- work it off.

And that is why I rise and shine at 5:11 am. Teaching my body that I am in charge and can become disciplined in this area once again. My body is my Temple, granted it looks like a Rubenesque version instead of a Grecian Goddess, but I’m working it.

I am a Slug aka The Little Engine That Could

More than one way to wear a banana slug

More than one way to wear a banana slug

May 7, 2014

It is Teacher Appreciation Week. I am finishing up my 17th year in this profession. Currently, I am piloting a new CA State program called Transitional Kindergarten. I have 24 students who start out the year at age 4 and end up turning 5 a few months into school. It is a full-day program ( 8:20-2:20) and I am the only adult in the classroom. It makes for a wild and crazy time when we do hands on projects, which is everyday. You adapt and just go with it.

There are 10 teaching days left for the school year. The pressure has been on these past two weeks. EVERYTHING comes due at once. EVERYTHING has to be done at once. Assessments, projects, end of the year family night (my students are performing an Opera…yes…an Opera…well…a whole lot of singing to a story), report cards entry, packing up the classroom… And then there are the other things that occur outside of school that impacts my life.

Did I mention training and buying and preparing and cost/ rating comparison of items being purchased for the Camino?

Which brings me to some observations that I have made over the course of wrapping up the school year and prepping for my pilgrimage.

First off, the opera my students are performing is based on the book “The Little Engine That Could.” It is one of my favorite childhood books and the whole story is about not giving up even when the odds are against you. Perseverance even when others believe you cannot do it. Have faith in yourself and keep chugging along.

That describes me in a nutshell.

I have been told by a couple of concerned, well- meaning individuals that I shouldn’t do the Camino as they fear for my health. In fact one person suggested that I might be too large to do this. Basically, she said I was fat and that I might want to lose weight before attempting this 500 mile pilgrimage.


Why yes I am overweight. I also am still walking around daily, chasing 5 yr old students, dancing, singing and running around with them. Granted I’m not carrying a 12 lb pack everyday doing this, but believe you me, my knees get a workout daily.

And I am working out 3 times a week doing Cross- Fit and walking about 5 miles with my 10 lb pack a couple of times a week. And if I can fit it in, I head down to Disneyland and walk the park. All part of getting my body conditioned to walking on pavement. Getting my tendons and joints in well oiled condition.
I know this will be a physical challenge, but I’m in no race. I will plug along slow and steady.

Being overweight doesn’t mean that you are chained to your couch watching TV, stuffing your face with ice cream and waiting for the weight to magically fall off.
Contrary to the majority of the clothing manufactures geared towards hikers, fat people do hike and climb and swim and kayak and camp and fly fish and hunt and ride a bike and surf and yes, we can and do yoga along with working out.

But, good luck with finding clothes that fit, are cute, are inexpensive and do not come from the men’s department when you are an overweight outdoor type of woman.

It’s like we don’t exist. So we adapt. Persevere and keep an eye out for items of clothing that will work for the type of outdoor activity we choose to do.

And that brings me back to the Opera my students are performing. The Little Engine sings the words, “I think I can! I think I can! I’ll try, try, try, ‘ cause I think I can! ( The Little Engine That Could Sing- by Carol Kaplan- Lass & Janet Hill) And yes, it was difficult pulling all those cars filled with toys and good food for the little boys and girls who live on the other side of the mountain, but in the end, the Little Train was successful in spite of the odds.

Yup…that describes my attitude in a nutshell. Stay tuned as I may be singing a different song when I climb over the Great Pyrenees Mountains, but either way, I’m a going and giving it a try!


Getting My Stuff Together

May 5, 2014

Gathering the equipment for the pilgrimage takes a long time. One would think that by keeping the backpack around 12 lbs would be easy to do. But it isn’t.
I am now on first- name bases with all the employees at the REI. They have seen me come in almost every week. Abby ( my daughter) and I agonize over the backpacks. We have tried them all on. I still am happy with my Osprey 65 Ariel pack, which is twice the size that people recommend who walk the Camino. But it is the only one that fits. The hip belt wraps me just right. The shoulder straps are padded and comfortable. Even at 4 lbs with nothing in it, I like it. Plus, to be honest, the other packs just don’t fit someone of my girth.

Then the other important topic is what type of shoes/ boots to wear. Trust me, I have read lots on the topic, have heard lots of opinions and have tried out lots of footwear. Finally, we selected New Balance Trail Runners. Leadville 1210 to be exact. I also have bought the New Balance Motion Control inserts. I am bringing along Keen Newport H2 sandals. They are great for hiking as well as for use in the shower.

And then there is the subject of socks. My goodness, who knew there was so much written about socks! I went on- line to save some money to purchase toe liners, compression sleeves and Darn Tough Micro Crew Cushion Medium Merino wool socks. I made sure to select the most wildest colors.

I am going to be a sight on the road. Nothing really matches color wise. I have been buying clothes based on price of item at sales and at the thrift store.

I will post about clothes later on and include a picture of my outfit.

In the meantime, I have been focused on breaking in my footwear and toughening up my feet. Can’t go cheap on footwear or your backpack. The two most significant items needed on the pilgrimage.