Stay At Home Californian

Displaced Stay at Home Californian

Displaced Stay at Home Californian

Friday, April 11, 2014


Today is the last school day before Spring Break.  I feel like this year it is really late - last year we had it in March and it was so cold that we didn't do anything remarkable other than try to stay warm in a drafty and uninsulated house.  This year it is sunny and beautiful and since I know what is to come by way of weather we have to live it up next week and enjoy the sun and the N. Carolina weather before June, July and September roll in and it is so hot that you can't breathe outside.  Although I must say that even with that level of heat, I still prefer hot to cold.

We are going to go to the beach, go shopping, go to the movies, go to parks, play with friends, go swimming, and all sorts of fun local stuff.  But the best thing to me is the sleeping in, lounging around and taking a break from school, lessons, classes and schedule.  I need a schedule break!

Happy Spring Break!

Monday, April 7, 2014


When we moved to Jamaica the kids called me two things, "Ching Chong China-girl" and "Fattah" which was the Jamaican way of calling someone "Fatty".  I remember as a young child in the first and second grade I tended to cry at the smallest thing and I was painfully shy so any unwanted attention would send me into tears.  But by the fifth grade when we moved to Jamaica I was no longer a cry baby and so I either ignored what they said, fought back by calling them something more insulting or I turned it into a joke or laughed it off.  But I didn't like being called names.  And I always pointed out to the name caller that I was NOT Chinese.

We never talked about bullying when I was growing up, at least not like we do today.  We never had presentations on how to be accepting of all kids and all people and we never worried about who was a bully and who was not.  Skip to today and public elementary schools and there is no end to the ongoing dialogue about bullying, bullys and how to stamp it out and bring an end to it.  "Zero Tolerance" is a term that is thrown around liberally. 

I remember a boy in high school that was bullied quite a bit by more than one boy in the class.  I remember this kid was the brunt of all the jokes, bad behavior and mean spirited name calling or trickle down and he is a registered sex offender with a repeat history of incarceration.  Do I think that his being bullied in school has something to do with where he is now?  I definitely think that he has little to no self esteem and it affects his every day and every moment of his life, I do think that. 

I spend a lot of time in the classroom and I see behaviors that are appropriate and behaviors that are not.  I see kids that get targeted and I see kids that do the targeting.  I see the kids gang up on other kids and watch as they destroy a kids self esteem as young as the first grade by continually letting him/her bear the brunt of all the anger, frustration, name calling and isolation because of weight, clothing, sexual orientation, and other distinguishing factors that I'm not going to go into because they are too hurtful to list and because those of you reading this know what the list contains.  And I don't blame the teacher most of the time because she or he has 24 or 28 kids in the class and has a hard time focusing on each child and what is being said or done.  She is just trying to get through a list of stuff that has to be done today so that we can move on to tomorrow.  And she is bombarded with tattle-tailing, crying, sniffles, vomiting, sick kids, bathroom breaks, my pencil needs sharpening and on and on and on.  And I don't blame the kids because if you watch them - they only want to avoid being on the receiving end of that kind of behavior - they want to be in the "in" crowd and not the "out" crowd. 

I do however seriously question the home environment and the parents though and what they are creating at home.  Since the school's motto is Zero Tolerance and the bulling continues why can't we make it an individual motto?  Can we teach the kids that are being bullied to fight back?  Can we arm them with the physical and verbal tools to at least defend themselves to their peers? 

I don't condone retaliation but I will tell you that once in high school an underclassman called me "Fatty" or "Fatso" or something insulting and laughed loudly and looked around for validation.  I ignored her but hated her silently for the rest of my life I mean year.  Several days later I climbed up on the hood of her and her brother's brand new car and draped myself across it with all my weight while a friend took my picture.  We had it put in the yearbook.  Revenge is a dish best served cold but how do we translate that for first graders?

Sunday, March 23, 2014


I walked into my knitting group on Friday at the library and found it taken over by children.  Until this last Friday the group leader and myself have been the youngest members of the group but on Friday we were visited by a woman and 4 of her 6 children.  At first glance I could tell that the woman was a fundamentalist Christian and that her children were home-schooled, ask me how I know that?  Without a lengthy and person anecdote lets just say that I have some experience in this arena.

At first I wanted to leave - I have no time for religious zealots that thumb their nose at public schools, force their children to dress strangely and teach their children to be probably some of the most judgemental on the planet by hammering it home to them to base everyone they meet on outward appearance only.  Again, without having to insert a lengthy and personal anecdote on how to filter through the righteous and the non-righteous based on whether or not they have on nail polish or have earrings, this is something I know a lot about.  I always like to preface conversations with "I tend to be the most judgemental person I know" but I'll save that story for another post.  I felt irritated that my knitting group had been overrun by these people, didn't they have other fundamentalist groups they could knit with?  But as I had not been to my knitting group in over a month and I missed this fun I decided to stay and sat down to knit with my friends Holly and Nancy.  And that is how I came to also sit by a young man of about 10 and I turned and said hello.

What a treat to discover that this boy was very pleasant and outgoing.  Not the tongue tied awkwardness that usually accompanies home-schooled fundamentalist kids that are not supposed to brush shoulders with sinners or that quite honestly don't have the social skills needed to make friends outside of their guarded religious boundaries.  We started to chatting and by the end of the two hours of knitting he had really started to pick up casting on and knitting.  His mother sat on the other side of the table and not once did she give me the "eye" or shoo her kids away from the lady with the arm tattoo, nose ring and black nail polish.  And when the knitting class was over he thanked me warmly and left.  And I believed him.

And about 2 minutes later I felt a tap on my arm and he was back and he said, "did you say your name was Miss Joy?  I'll see you in 2 weeks Miss Joy so you can help me some more" and I smiled and said that sounded good.  And I realized that I really need to do something about being so judgemental.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Winter Blues

I have the winter blues.  It is March and people are posting pictures of the beach, flip flops, shorts and sunshine.  We are expecting freezing rain today and tomorrow and everytime we have a day with warm weather it is followed up by 4 or 5 of very cold temperatures.  And in keeping with the odd weather patterns in North Carolina my youngest child has a spring cold that is the result of all the germs passed around at school by snotty first graders.

My mother-in-law is here visiting and she has brought a ray of sunshine with her as well as a 6 month supply of extra sour sourdough bread from Bordenave's in San Rafael as well as Raymonds from her local Molly Stones Supermarket.  I have it inventoried and packaged in the freezer and ready to be pulled out and made into toast, french toast, croutons and garlic bread.  I'm not sure what makes San Francisco sourdough bread the best in the world but it is.

Yesterday in protest to the terrible weather and the cold we loaded up the kids, snotty ones too and got our toes painted and decorated and scrubbed and loofa'd in preparation for flip flop weather even if it never happens.  I picked "Big Apple Red" because I needed a pick me up until the sun decides to stay out permanently. 

And today we will make Irish soda bread and stay inside, warm and dry.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

3 Nipples

And now to the bizarre, the macabre, the wild, the scandalous and the outrageous.  I met a lady the other day, no names because that would not be nice, who recently had a baby and is nursing.

She told me she has 3 nipples to which I told her to stop lying, it was not true.  She pulled her shirt down and showed me, it is under her arm and when her milk lets down she drips milk out of her 3rd nipple.  I saw it myself otherwise I would not have believed it. 

And when her milk comes in, it makes it hard and uncomfortable for her to put her arm down against her body.

Carry on.

Eating Disorder

We got this puppy about a month after moving here.  I personally feel like I rescued her from a life of dog fighting, breeding, worms, puppy prison, missed meals, doggy abuse, cold weather and more.  Anyway she is now a year and a half and overall a very cute and smart dog.  I always say that she is smarter at a year than Sally is at twelve years but that is because she has thirty five dog breeds in her and he only has one.  And she is a great puppy the only bad thing is that she is food crazy.  She can eat and eat and eat.  When she was really little she would pass out eating her food because she would stuff all her food into her mouth and it would catch in her throat and she would retch and gag because she wanted so badly to eat but she couldn't breathe.

About a year ago I came home and my beautiful ficus plant had no leaves on it.  Not a single one.  They were all gone - it was like the poltergeist of houseplants had sucked every single leaf off the plant and ate everything down to the stem and left nothing behind.  I found no leaves on the carpet no leaves on the floor and nothing that would indicate where the leaves had gone.  They were just gone and only a stem left.  It was really odd.  Marcko was lethargic for the rest of the day but then she bounced back and was fine.  I wondered if she had eaten them but I found no evidence.

Today I came out of my bedroom where I had been working on the computer to take a break and to vacuum the living room (did you get that?  a break in my day involves vacuuming the living room) and the avocado tree that I had started from seed and that was now 3 feet tall with big lush leaves (maybe 6 or 8) was shredded.  Not a single leaf anywhere and Marcko was laying in her crate with a very guilty and sick to her stomach look on her face if dogs can have sick to their stomach looks on their little furry faces.

I can't be mad at her - I should have put the avocado tree somewhere else like up on a high shelf since I know that she likes socks, squinkies, zinkies, erasers, pens, pencils, paper, stuffed animals, glasses, houseplants, dirt and other things besides food.  I'm tempted to send her to the Betty Ford Center but I don't think they accept dogs.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014


Gabe bought me a tablet for Christmas a year and 2 months ago.  I didn't really like it at first and I thought how interesting that he bought a tablet for me that was really a present for himself in disguise but after moving to Pittsboro and living in the woods I came to love that tablet like a child.  I caressed it, I talked to it, I nurtured it, I slept next to it, it was the first thing I saw in the morning and the last thing I saw at night.  I also used it all the time. 

Then we got a treadmill.  And I started using the treadmill and I dropped the tablet while on the treadmill and broke it.  It probably had something to do with my clumsiness or my agility, I'm not sure which.  But it is broken and cannot be fixed because we already tried.

I have mourned its loss now for 2 months but cannot bring myself to buy another one.  I wonder why?  One more chapter in my love/hate relationship with technology.