Anticipation for Time Off from Work


We gathered for our group shot. The photographer looked at is through his camera and said, “On the count of three, everyone say ‘ VACATION!’. “ On “three”, we all smiled and said “Vacation!” and snapped away. “That word always makes everyone smile,” he said.

Anticipation for Thanksgiving Break

Four more days until I have a week off for Thanksgiving! I am intending to stay home for the week and do lots of writing, roller skating and aerial yoga. Hoping to catch up on writing one of my books and blogs.

Question on Sick Leave

If you’re employed or when you were employed, did you use your sick leave if you had any?

The year draws to a close soon and I have tons of sick leave that won’t rollover and for which I won’t be reimbursed. I don’t think people should be reimbursed for sick leave because that encourages people to come in sick. I do wish we all had PTO instead of sick leave because there are a lot of things in personal life I would love time off for! It seems like a lot of my coworkers have use of their sickleave and then must take time off unpaid. I have taken a day off here and there but I usually use that day to work from home or classify it as supplemental Covid pay and take a Covid test on that day. I’m feeling a little ripped off because those people who used up their sick pay got more time off than I did. Is that wrong of me? I wish I had the guts to use up the rest of my sick leave but we are always so shortstaffed that I feel so guilty taking off even a few hours for an appointment. I wish I had the guts to use up the rest of my sick leave but we are always so shortstaffed that I feel so guilty taking off even a few hours for an appointment.

Planning a Trip

Unbeknownst to my employer, I am planning to take some unpaid time off in May. I am currently planning a trip to see parts of southern France, Andorra, and Spain. It is currently, as usual, a solo trip. I am very excited and welcome any travel tips!




It’s 4:30AM on Wednesday. I awoke at 3:20AM for no apparent reason and then slept for another 20 minutes. I awoke from some strange dream of watching someone wiping ice cream off of another’s mouth, a move seen in Chinese dramas that would probably be extremely irritating and intrusive in real life:

And then I am finishing up some green-colored ice cream in my dream. I place the the dish in the sink only to have it land upside down onto some clean dishes in my mother’s kitchen. She’s washing dishes and I sense her irritation at my having dirtied her freshly washed dishes with my green ice cream. It’s then that I wake up from this dream.

Typical… Even my subconscious is thinking about binge watching dramas and binge eating ice cream. I have truly destroyed my health and fitness with my indulgence over the year. Single life with corny predictable TV dramas and ice cream. What more can an old gal ask for?

After trying to get back to sleep for some time, I decide to get up and put some laundry in the wash. I am really so lucky to have a place with a washer-dryer. This doesn’t prevent me from spending part of my morning browsing Craigslist for other possibilities; as I often do, but as usual, I find nothing better than the sanctuary where I live now. The lovely studio I live in now has:

  • a friendly neighbor who waters my plants
  • a very responsive landlord
  • is affordable
  • has a great view overlooking the city
  • scenic hiking nature trails with deer and fox within a few minutes’ walk
  • a kitchen area
  • a private bathroom
  • a deck where I have a green garden in containers and a place to chill/ sit
  • an area where I have exercise equipment and personal yoga studio
  • an area where I have a good-sized fridge/ freezer
  • utilities included
  • month-to-month rent
  • a good-sized closet/ wardrobe
  • a dining/ desk area
  • a music/ piano area
  • bookshelves and bed, most of it provided by the landlord
  • Wi-Fi, though it can be slow, it’s mostly available
  • my own driveway to park in with no competition
  • is only 10-13 miles from my work
  • is very private- No one enters here but me…
  • has both AC and heater (which not all homes here do).
  • is vermin-free

So why do I still occasionally browse Craigslist for other places? Sometimes I wonder if life would be better if I could have all of this and houseguests occasionally: maybe a few friends over for a board game or something. Because I live in my landlord’s backyard, the family expressed before I moved in that no house guests should come over because it would intrude on their privacy in their backyard where their children may spend time. I empathize with these parents who must be concerned for the safety of their children.

I have browsed Craigslist enough times to know that there’s nothing out there that I can afford without a roommate, giving up the washer/dryer, AC, paid utilities, yoga space (most places this price are much smaller), parking, hiking trails, view, private kitchen, garden and bathroom, and general spaciousness of my little sanctuary.

My other option is find a better paying job or move to a city that is more affordable but there’s no way I want to put myself through that kind of work and stress right now. I am very comfortable as I am now and not ready to leave this comfort because I am want to devote my time and energy on working on personal projects.

Maybe many people dream of marriage and kids by such and such an age. Or perhaps some people dream of completing a marathon or an Iron Man competition. My best friend who is only a few years older than I am just started training in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu about a year ago and recently won a regional championship. Most people start learning martial arts at a much younger age. I admire her efforts. My thoughts are that I am nearly 40 and I have yet to publish a book. It’s strange but even as a child, I loved the thought of being an author. I turn 39 in exactly a week and would love to be happy enough with my current main project, a children’s counting book, to send it off in 7 days…. And then my next project, a children’s cookbook, within the next year… Two books by the time I hit 40-years old…. That’s where I want to be…for no reason other than it’s something that’s been on my mind since childhood and I have yet to do it.

And so, between pandemic, my personal projects, and my unhealthy addictions to binging sappy TV dramas and sweets, my life remains here in my happy, safe, comfort zone. Adventuring to new places is a little limited on most days for now. Please forgive my silence online and wish me luck on my writing!

“Fourth” Free-Write



Today is the last day of my one week “July 4th” break between spring and summer quarter at work. I am feeling blessed/ grateful for each new day.

This week, started teaching yoga again after pausing since pandemic (3 years). It has been quite rewarding. I am volunteering rather than charging for the time being. I have a 1:1 student with an extremely unique body. It felt so rewarding to be able to know and teach for their body and mind. They were super open about exactly what they needed and liked, what worked and what didn’t. They are my first student who has dwarfism. I did some research before beginning lessons and found that there aren’t a whole lot of resources on teaching students with dwarfism. Each dwarf has a unique body. This student happens to have scoliosis which I also have and I this student is planning to have the same back surgery I had at her age, so this helped a lot as far as knowledge base!

Where I Have Been All Year

I did spend quite a few hours watching Chinese dramas this week. This is something I began doing due to YouTube algorithm suggestion one day. It’s a habit I have never had until this year and it’s an addiction that has probably severely impacted my life as I am one of those people who just has to get to the end of a book or TV show even if it’s way past bedtime. I am working on limiting what I watch by becoming more active again. I have tried to keep mostly to shows in one language to help me focus on learning a single non-English language. It’s actually worked! My Chinese (Mandarin) vocabulary and listening comprehension has improved immensely. I booked some time with an italki (app) tutor this week to practice the words I learned in conversation and was able to use words I learned from watching sappy Chinese novelas (I will be journaling on those later). So yes, my social life and sleep time (because I don’t really have spare time without sacrificing something) has been reduced to watching sappy shows, but I am picking up words and phrases in Chinese. Anyhow, I am looking forward to more sleep the rest of 2022. I think sleep and perhaps social life and exercise may be a bit more valuable….I have purchased some new backpacking gear from REI’s online 4th of July sale and hope to be able to use it soon!

The Need for an Introverted Day

One of my hiking buddies has lived here for 20 years and has hiked several times a week for 10-40 miles per day and has still yet to be able to explore every single trail of the vast Northern California landscape. I was supposed to hike with him today and really looked forward to it but find myself equally as happy having missed the hike (my friend is extremely prompt and has left people behind if they’re even 5 minutes late) because I had wanted to spend a day writing and reading at the beach yesterday but it was so crowded being a weekend, it ended up being a social day where I was offered and ate a lot of food. Today, I will catch up on writing projects, reading, cooking for the week ahead, and whatnot. After gardening and laundry, I purchased some fresh produce, berries and fruit at the local farmer’s market this morning from which I made crepes (berries with powdered sugar… I am out of Nutella but it was sweet enough without) for breakfast to go with my coffee and now it’s time to wash the dishes from breakfast!

Not the Typical Work Day

A winding mountain road partially shaded by tall pine trees.

Today I was invited to tour a local camp for our students. The road forked a few times and there was no phone signal. I got a little lost coming back down from the mountain so I stopped to snap a photo of the lovely scenery up in the mountains before asking a local for directions back to town. It was a pleasant break from the typical work day.

Life with COVID


It’s the third year of the pandemic. I have been testing for COVID at least weekly for the last 3 years now. Last week, I took 2 rapid tests and one NAAT. The rapid tests have negative results while the more accurate NAAT gave a positive result. This the first time I have received a positive test result.

Tomorrow I will take another test to determine if I am able to return to work. I suppose I should prep some lunches for the week in case it turns out to be a negative test result. Hopefully I have enough food to prep… I should…

At least a third of the personnel at work are out today including myself. Half of the student families have received notices of COVID exposure. I work at a place that still requires 😷 😷 but I know we have been more lax as time passes.

I am feeling thankful to have this unexpected positive test result for COVID. I have no symptoms and I have really enjoyed the opportunity the last few days to catch up with things at home where things are much more safe and peaceful than at work.

The most difficult thing about having COVID for me has been staying home as I would love to get some groceries and go run errands. My library books are super overdue and I do enjoy take out but am staying home due to quarantine. However, I am caught up on laundry now and my place is looking better and better each day. I also feel more rested not having to rush off to work since I am working from home. Life is treating me so well! Who would have thought that I am feeling so grateful to have COVID!

Please forgive the double post today. I have quite a few posts I have been planning but hadn’t sat down to do so there is some catching up to do.

Everyone’s bodies react to the various strands of COVID differently. Please continue to be cautious.

Social Distance


A few weeks ago on a Saturday morning, I sat in a small donut shop sipping on coffee with a friend. We chitchatted of mundane daily life as we occasionally did on the weekend.

An old man with long white hair walked in from one of the glass doors. Rather than join the line of people selecting donuts, the man came, took a step towards the table we sat at and said, “Excuse me. Where is the line?”

My friend and I were confused and too surprised to respond for a moment as it was very noticeable to us that the line was at the counter. I proclaimed, “There are markings on the floor.”

During this pause in our conversation, the old man explained, “I can’t see.” It was then that I realized that the old man was blind and because lines these days are “socially distanced” with everyone 6 feet apart, the man could not tell where the line began nor ended. I stood up from my table and walked over to the next empty marker on the floor. “It’s over here- A couple steps in front of you.”

The man moved towards the sound of my voice onto the marked place on the floor. He reached his hand in forward feeling around for a rope or a sign but felt none. “You’re good. There are only a few people before you,” I informed him. Then I returned the table where my friend still sat.

Neither my friend nor I had realized the old man was blind. He could not see any of the social distance markers on the floor that now line the floors of every business since pandemic.

Our current cues for social distancing are not universally designed. Our world is not universally designed nor inclusive. Pandemic has proven this time and again through its impact on our social structures, whether it be through access or lack thereof to medical care, access to work, to an education during shelter-in-place and quarantine… The list could go on…

A few weeks after this incident in the donut shop, I flew from Northern California to LAX to visit family. At the airport, I boarded an Uber.

Riding an Uber/ Lfyt is very different from riding the public transportation system. On public transport, no one ever looks at each other. Riders usually sit on public transportation mired in their own internal thoughts, scrolling on cell phones, or dozing in and out. On a Lfyt/ Uber, I find it much more intimate. I always more often than not, hear some detail(s) about the driver’s life in the enclosed one-one-one setting of their personal vehicle. This particular occasion was no different.

On this occasion, this driver shared that he had moved from Silicon Valley, from where I had flown. During shelter-in-place early in the pandemic, he had zero clients. I suppose this was a result of living in an area populated chiefly by software engineers, data scientists, other techies privileged enough to work from home. He suddenly could not pay his rent to support his family. He took a risk and moved to Los Ángeles and suddenly was making at least $4,000 per month. He misses Northern California but must follow the money because he has a wife and daughter in the US and another daughter in Georgia 🇬🇪 he hoped could also one day immigrate to the US.

I have heard of former soviet citizens sometimes missing the economic stability of being part of a larger system like the USSR and was curious. I asked him how he felt about Russia 🇷🇺 invading Ukraine 🇺🇦 since his native country was also once part of the former USSR. He expressed sadness about the war, the loss of youths and life, and he recalled other wars that devastated the region due to what he called “super aggressive” leaders like Putin.

It’s interesting how conversations with strangers are often so memorable, especially now when I continue to refrain from much socializing for the duration of this pandemic. Pandemics and wars have been around since man… Perhaps since before man, if we look at the kingdoms of our fellow terrestrial dwellers… I suppose “social distancing” also has been around too, but then, so too have been brief moments of connection between strangers wishing/ hoping for peace or looking for the next place in line.

Blogmas 2021- Christmas Roses


The sound of briefly falling rain 🌧 is beginning to resound in the otherwise quiet darkness of night. Here I lay before you a small handful of my memories from the past week: photos from my visit home. I intended to post only a single December rose 🌹 for Dear Michel but got a little carried away.

I hope that everyone is enjoying winter safely, that those whom are celebrating have a very happy Christmas and that every one of you are able to cherish peace, happiness and love this New Year!

Image 1 ID: It’s a geographers dream hundreds of millions of years of sedimentary and igneous deposits with sandstone and so many other minerals at Red Rock Canyon State Park in California. I have hikes here many a time and recently had the opportunity to go with my mother to meet up with old friends here for a hike.
Image 2 description: My father has just watered his garden so there are droplets of water on the leaves and petals of some of his roses, including this particular bright red-orange-colored rose.
Image description 2: A single rosy red bud in my dad’s front yard.
Image 3 ID: Droplets of water twinkling on a December rose bud in imperial red
Image 4 ID: a single red winter rose bud and it’s leaves, sienna trim around window of a house in background.
Image 5 ID: Column/ tower of white sandstone with red-ish cliffs overhanging perched on top. One can just imagine how these desert cliffs looked under the ocean hundreds of millions of years ago.
Image 6 ID: A hill of loose dirt where a cliff has probably crumbled over the years. Piles of blocks of red-ish sedimentary boulders lay scattered over the hill. A white foothill heavily eroded by water flowing down is in the foreground of the desert landscape.
Image 7 ID: The majestic eroded bluffs layered over millions of years overlook a desert but must once have been underwater, as one can see trails down the columns where water has run. Two boulder-sized fallen blocks lay in the foreground with a few thin lines of an old desert bush of what variety I am not sure, perhaps creosote that’s seen better days.
Image 8 ID: An overhead view of a circle of four feet in hiking boots in hues of brown and gray and pant legs; one with torn blue jeans, one in salmon pink hiking pants, blue jeans and dark green- almost khaki-colored hiking pants.
Image 9 ID: Dry brown desert bushes in foreground amongst red-ish boulders on a sloping brown hill. A geological landscape of cliffs of various types of rocks layered in the background.
Image 10 ID: 3 ping pong tables in a large room with senior ping pong players playing on each side. My dad insisted I go with him to the local Community Senior Center to watch the seniors’ table tennis techniques. These pro players (the seniors) were more than eager to show me their moves and teach me a few. 😅 Feeling pressured to learn now.

You may or may have not noticed my attempts to make this website more accessible to those who may have visual impairments. Tips are welcome. Hope it helps.

I am also open to constructive feedback on the geology and plant names. I am no expert and welcome any assistance.

There are so many memorable experiences -the fragrance and tastes of feasts, wines, teas, and fresh-baked goods, the sounds of the piano being played, stories being told or read aloud… Walks and hikes… Quite hygge and better than any gifts. Last year, this time, we were under shelter-in-place/ lockdown. How different having only a few more people gathered feels, especially when they’re people you’re close to.

A friend just reported a friend of his passing away this morning from COVID. Please stay safe, Everyone! 😷 😷 😷 🎄🕎🌈🌧🙏🏽



Blogmas 2021

On my final work day before winter break, we participated in several activities and ate a meal provided by a generous parent of one of our students together. I don’t understand how that’s allowed during pandemic since we have to take off our 😷 😷 .

During one activity, we were paired with a coworker to have a conversation to practice learning about students’ personal priorities through conversation. My partner found this activity excruciating. She said she was exhausted, something I have heard her say often. She went on to describe her life as a single mother, how she had no time to herself and struggled to make ends meet. I agreed that it can be a lot of pressure to pay the bills. “Life is hard” she said. Then, I asked what she was doing for the holidays. She broke down in tears as she described some family drama. I don’t think she was looking forward to the holidays.

Sometimes, even most of the time, the holidays aren’t like the Hallmark and Lifetime movies portray them to be. There’s a disparity between reality and the movie-like expectations which can be so depressing for many people.

I had purchased a gift card for a gas station for a white elephant gift exchange later that day. In an impulse, I wrote the words “From Santa” on the card along with a Starbucks card I had and put them in my co-worker’s box. I do not want her know who they are from though she might recognize my handwriting. I do not want to embarrass her but I wanted to make her season easier. When I left work, her box was empty. I do not know how she reacted but hope it brightened her day.

I have been seeing a sign posted in chalk at Starbucks and other places around that reads,

Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.

Perhaps you too have seen it and may live by it because sometimes life isn’t easy.

Please have a watch of the video below and share as a small way to help as I did. This video is beautifully done and the message is important.

A different Night Before Christmas

O Christmas Tree


Blogmas 2021

Screenshots of photos of various unique Christmas trees I found amusing. What are your thoughts on these?

Image 1 description: Caption reads, “When you don’t have enough time in your life to put up a Christmas tree… Here’s my Christmas tree. “ A washing machine with a pile of clothes in the shape of a Christmas tree 🎄 trimmed with white Christmas lights and topped by a golden star.
Image 2 description: newyorkermag label, Steinberg signed cartoon of a smiling Christmas tree with two house plants 🪴 🪴 talking amongst themselves on a table nearby as they look over at the Christmas tree on their right. Quote reads, “Remember not to make last year’s mistake of getting too friendly.”
Image 3 description: a Christmas tree- shaped pile of books with a bright red paper bow on top. Social media caption reads “This book tree is mainly my to read pile. Just in case anyone is wondering if I need more.”
Image 4 description: Library with ladder on wheels and stack of books in corner stacked in shape of a tall Christmas tree 🎄 trimmed with white Christmas lights and topped by twinkling star.