santa cruz wharf

29 September 2007

Cub told my trainer to watch out for my mouth...

I swear. I curse. I try not to take the Lord’s name in vain…but every other word is fair game. I don’t parent with hypocrisy…so at one point I tried to stop swearing to be a better Mommy. I went the financial incentive route…and established a home version of the office cuss jar. If the kids caught me swearing I paid them a quarter (each kid for each word they called me on)…and a dollar for the “F” word. My oldest the mathbrain kept a running total. I was shelling out about ten bucks per kid per week. (bad habits are expensive)

It was one of those evenings when I was late leaving work…three kids in the car….somewhere between two different schools…sports practice…music lessons…and I HAD to go to the market to shop for dinner. I was cutting through side streets avoiding rush hour traffic in the pouring rain.

The Cub was about eight years old and riding “shotgun.” The girls were in the backseat ranting and raving about their days at an ever-increasing decibel level. I drove by the overpass of the freeway…trying to judge if that would be the fastest route. Cub starts calling out…..”take the freeway…take the FREEWAY”.

The freeway is gridlock. Red tail lights goin’ nowhere. I avoided the onramp. The Cub is yelling now…TAKE THE FREEWAY….I WANNA GO ON THE FREEWAY!!”. I look over at my sweet boy...he has big tears pouring from his eyes and rolling down his face. He is totally devastated.

I stare at him incredulously and ask…

"What is wrong? Why do you want to take the freeway?"

In a full blown meltdown he wails,


26 September 2007

Thursday Thirteen ~ (times 26)

all of the desired male attributes....
(oh my...I cannot believe I have been doing these for this long!)

Almighty following
America loving
Accolade giving
Attractive (as least to me)
Bible studying
Bitch loving
Book owning
Beauty seeking
Baby holding
Blog reading (maybe)
Bona fide
Bad-ass (just a little)
Carousel riding
Control relinquishing (the remote…among other things)
Compatible (this could be the most difficult)
Dog loving
Emotionally stable
Financially sound
Freaky (just a little bit)
God Praising
Good hearted
Good looking
Grandfather material
Hygienic (for you Ms Skit)
Heaven bound
Hungry (mentally and physically)
Home loving
Hand Holding
Height-weight appropriate
kierkegaard-kafka reading
new year-celebrating
old school
offense forgiving
olallieberry picking
pet loving
pain healing
porch swinging
picnic packing
prayer offering
panty removing
passport holding
parade watching
pillow talking
poker player
quantum theorist
remote relinquishing
risk knowing
reciprocal giving (smile)
skin caressing
stars and stripes honoring
smile bringing
solitude respecting
thanks giving
tear wiping
tent camping
testament reading
tattoo accepting
totem pole allowing
touch loving
toy playing
tulip growing
tongue using
truth telling
vista-appreciating (not the os)
victoria's secret account holding
vulva attending
wants Me
x-man watching
xenocracy visiting
xanthous accepting
xebec riding
xenial prone
xlaphone listening
xenophobia resistant
x-rated (with me only)
Yee-Ha - ing
Yeats reading
Yoda watching
Yawns rarely
Yells softly
Yule celebrating
Yellowstone camping
Yeast baking
Yard planting
Yesterday respecting
zeal-feeling my heart-ing

what am I gonna do from now on??

25 September 2007

23 September 2007

Manic Monday with Mo ~ kit

I had an entirely different Manic Monday with Mo post planned for today’s theme, “kit”…about how words change meaning over time...however once I found this woman, I had to bring her to you.

Please allow me to introduce you to Olive Riley.
She is 108 year old spitfire with her very own Blog.
I encourage you to watch the entire minute ~ and then go visit
The Life of Riley

(I guess this means I have sixty more years of blogging before me!)

Won first place in a World War I competition for "best morale-building song". It can be found (music and/or lyrics) in over 20 movies.

Pack up your troubles in your old kit-bag,
And smile, smile, smile,
While you’ve a lucifer to light your fag,
Smile, boys, that’s the style.
What’s the use of worrying?
It never was worth while, so
Pack up your troubles in your old kit-bag,
And smile, smile, smile.

Words by George Henry Powell (1880-1951) was known under the pseudonym George Asaf. Music by his brother, Felix Powell.

19 September 2007

Thursday Thirteen ~ veinteseis (heavy sigh)

desired male attributes
(I have worked my way thru the enitre alphabet....backwards)


tagged by a kind stranger's view....

The French Singer also known as "I, Like the View" ....over at "the kindness of strangers" stood in her open curtain and pointed at me with this little gig..."post a fact, word or tidbit for every letter in your name"...she was tagged by "the man whose goat goes to Grantham"... . And I'm only going through the letters once Miz Mel....

k= kinesthetic ~ as opposed to visual or auditory
a= authentic ~ as often as possible
t = true to those I love
h = haven, hearth and home honoring
e = erotic ~ selectively….VERY selectively….
r = reads everything ~ news, novels, blogs, everything
i = intense ~ trying to temper the intensity

n = nocturnal ~ I love the early morning before dawn and I love midnight
e = exploring ~ people, places, how things work…I just want to know're it....

Wordless Wednesday

18 September 2007

I speak French

I’m a big proponent of punishing the truly abusive …and frankly, I am not too fond of being fondled in the workplace without my expressed consent and desire.

But c’mon. Ten Million e-phn dollars cause the guy was hitting on you….called you the “B” word and the “H” word (which is really the “W” word for those of you playing the home game) By all accounts the guy kissed her on the cheek at a game…and asked her to go somewhere to be alone…TWO YEARS AGO…but he didn’t pursue her when she turned him down.

And yes….if you work in one of the all time industries of ego…professional male athletes…what do you expect? Did you really think the men who work for the NBA are gonna act like the men who work for IBM???

Girlfriend…if you want to work with the big boys…you better be prepared to play with them…or go do something else. While I am sympathetic to you losing your job….THIS is what you are bringing testimony to? And what in the world convinced you it is worth ten million dollars?

(January press conference from both sides
apparently CNN is putting commercials in front of their video clips)

Don’t get me wrong….
I do not like wife and girlfriend bashing jokes.
You best not be telling rape jokes in my presence.
Do not pick on someone just to make your tiny self feel better.
And seriously.... DO NOT touch where you are not invited unless you are fully prepared to lose that part of your body doing the touching.

Personally I think one of the more shameful tolerations we embrace in this country is that women are paid some 70-odd cents to the dollar that a man is paid for doing the same job with the same skill set. Basically that means if you have one…your daughter…your mother…your wife… your sister… are being paid thirty percent less. And if you have a zipper instead of a fly….YOU are being paid some thirty percent less.

As for the “foul” language....If this sets precedent I am gonna be in such deep Bandini. In my home “Bitch” is a term of endearment.

There is a scene in the HBO series “Deadwood” where a man with vile and foul language spewing from his mouth turns to the character played by Kim Dickens and says, “Pardon my French”

She holds his stare…and without missing a beat…she says,
“I speak French”

Heads or Tails ~ keys

I wish for my children to find love. I wish for them to be healthy…and happy…and many other things…but I want so much for them to find one who holds the key to their heart.

As a child I thought that was an odd expression…”the key to my heart”. As a grown up I realize its not so unusual to lock away our innermost selves. And for others, to allow another to find our heart is such a complicated path to love, it requires a key to understand what the solution set may be.

I often wonder if it is better to give away the key to our heart…or require the seeker to find it on their own. Maybe with a little clue or two.

A couple days ago, my daughter and her beau picked up the keys to their new home. It had been several weeks dealing with a tight schedule of construction, walkthroughs, moving vans, and deliverymen. She called me from the freeway, “we have the keys” with relief and elation mixed in her voice. And I thought to myself…yeah honey you do.

I have seen them in all sorts of social and family situations. Having fun and celebrating or at times dealing with all of their convoluted family dynamics. But watching them over the past few weeks…helping them pack their apartment and then load up the stacks of boxes in storage…in all the stress and tension…I have been touched by the love they have for one another. They are young for love. They are young for such responsibility and commitment…but they seem to have found the key to caring and loving each other.


(don't miss out on all the other HOT posts
(Heads Or Tails)

17 September 2007

Manic Monday with Mo ~ Crisp

Barely out the door the crisp air clears my head. My footsteps sound light on the asphalt, picking up speed as the street runs downhill to the deadend of the block. Catching the essence of eucalyptus, I glance over at the grove. My hearing perks at the tall waving branches of long leaves brushing crisply on the peeling bark. I listen for anything else. The tide sounds as if it is coming in…the pounding waves louder without the daytime competition of people and vehicles.

I cross over…scanning the shadows. Disconcerting shadows. The moon…lovely and delicate in the sky, cannot penetrate the foliage canopy to define what…or who could be hiding in the grey green shadows. I pause a moment to sense that I am alone. Stepping over the fencing, I walk down into the growth. My foot lands on a twig snapping it crisply. So much for stealth. I find some kinda stump in the middle of it all and sit down. In the day I would be obvious, in the dark I am hidden. After a few moments my body stills.

Over to the side a small animal scurries over crisp leaves. I hope it’s the neighbor cat, a raccoon or even a opossum…I’d really rather it not be a skunk. My eyes follow the trunk of the nearest tree up toward the sky. Fog is moving in to cover the tops of the trees. Without the Sun’s heat, night fog is heavy and collects quickly. Every once in a while a fully formed droplet slowly falls into the debris below with a crisp splash. My thoughts seem to sort themselves.

With each wave I can see the glowing white of the curl reflecting the moon. The sound of the water against the sand resonates on my breastbone. I wonder how the irregular rhythm of the tide always calms me. I give in allowing it all to mesmerize me…suspending time.

Finally a deep yawn, filling my lungs with chilling crisp air. The fog has come in lower, I can feel my hair curling in the damp. My feet are cold in sandals and when I stand the cocoon layer of warm air shifts and I feel the fog. I tug on the sweatshirt hood and climb back up to the street. Now I can sleep.

Surf over to Mo for more monday mania.

14 September 2007

28 December 1962 ~ 15 September 1982

William Charles
I held you when you were born.
I held your hand when you died.
I hold you in my heart forever.
brother, tagalong, friend, cohort, confidant
I cannot believe it has been twenty-five years.
Geez Billy, you were such an uber geek.

13 September 2007

Humbling and Heavy

So very cool. It is the only time I've received an award for something I have written. The Rising Blogger Post of the Day is given for a specific post….not the overall blog…or the blogger….which shouldn’t come as too big of a shock. I kinda keep my little blog somewhat frivolous in nature…and tend to be more of a reader than a writer… so when I read the email from Judd…I surely had that warm glow of pleasure.

I surfed right over to read his post….and felt a cringe...
"oh…my post about Marshall.” Heavy sigh.

I guess the adages “write what you know” and “write from the heart” are true.

My heavy heart over the subject matter does not detract from the humble honor I feel. I took some time reading thru Judd's
blog…saw many people whom I admire…and found some interesting new sites. Cool.

Thank you again.

Damn.... Continued (part one is here)
While the repercussions and devastation for this other family are far deeper than I can even begin to comprehend…the selfish bitch that I am is far more concerned with how my kids are dealing with some of their own reactions and feelings.

This tragedy continues as a daily topic of discussion. Yet again this morning, her very first words were “did you read the paper? front page.” I know what she means before I even look. She asks questions about amnesia symptoms and suicide attempts. I know no more than she does. The tension in her voice reflects both her horror of the reported details…and her disgust at the tone and implications of the report. When I don’t provide sufficient knowledge…she demands…”well…what do you THINK then.” That 19-year-old exasperated tone which really means, “please…you have to explain this for me because I DO NOT UNDERSTAND.”

Old issues and new revelations…for Little Missy…but even more so for The Cub. He was closer to the man…for years. How do you reconcile the coach you admired and respected with the man who suffocated the woman who kept score…welcomed you in their home…cooked you dinner? At just under six foot and closing in on 300 pounds he is a true bear of a boy…who took the smartass freshman to task for making fun of the murder. “I had to teach him a lesson of RESPECT” he told me later. He promises me he didn’t push the little jerk into the wall…just advanced upon him so quickly the kid backed up into it.

We talk about being mindful of your anger. Of how it can become mindless rage and get out of control. Little Missy dealt with serious anger issues for years…still does to some extent. Ten years ago when I first came into their lives she would spike every few weeks. Now… she only spikes once a year or so. Two years ago, her righteous indignation exploded into anger during Lacrosse practice. The man who broke up the fight, soothed and calmed her was the murderer. She reminds me of the incident with a bit of fright in her eyes…from the thought of the murder….or recalling her own out of control rage…I don’t know…maybe both.

At the memorial the kids choose to stand although they arrived with plenty of time to find a seat. Easy exit if need be. They stayed in close proximity although not next to one another. The other coach’s wife was drunk and crying and held onto The Cub.

Hundreds if not thousands of people attended the memorial…many of which were in the 13-20 age range. Both The Cub and Little Missy (separately at different times) acknowledged to me later that they knew they were the only ones there who did not cry or have tears in their eyes. They did not tell me out of pride. They did not want to cry…but they damn well knew…it made them different.

They watched their three…now motherless...friends…reliving how they felt ten years ago when they lost their own Mother. Remembering by name how specific people acted toward them when it was happening…how people deal with their loss now …if at all.

The moments that have actually made me cry was when each of them admitted…with their wide-eyed shock and utter sadness…that hey… cancer is better than murder. Damn.

12 September 2007

Thursday Thirteen ~ veintecinco

desired male attributes
(working my way thru the alphabet....backwards)

kierkegaard-kafka reading

(next week is my last letter…..YIKES)

Wordless Wednesday ~ to The City

11 September 2007

Faith, Love, and Cake (Bee Cake not Beef Cake)

Cancer is not an unknown enemy to me and mine. As most of you who read this are aware, Miz Bee, Empress of the High Seas (and heartmate of Sarge Charlie) is currently battling Breast Cancer.

Mags the Chef of cakes and other culinary creations has chosen Miz Bee to honor as she walks in the Making Strides for Breast Cancer Walk in October... somewhere way over toward the right coast. Any and all of you who flock to Empress Bee and Sarge Charlie's blogs...and those of you whose lives have been touched by Cancer may want to take this opportunity to donate to Mags effort. Even the smallest donation will help.

better Nate than Lever

My intention has been to play around with my template ...maybe adding a third column or something....and be proudly displaying some of the badges which I have been graciously bestowed. My intention has yet to come to fruition. I figure I just best get on with it. In addition, I want to call your attention to a couple upcoming events and encourage you to participate as the spirit moves you.

I am a MoFo. Morgen makes me laugh with his Blog postings...and Blogtalk radio show. The pictures he posts make me hot. Mo has a golden heart and is well loved by a vast spectrum of the Blogosphere. I am glad that I could make him smile when he needed the distraction.

The "Nice Matters" award from Barb brought an almost embarrassed chuckle to my mouth. I have often admitted that I really try to be a good person....but I am not always a nice person. You may know I admire Barb greatly for her strength and perseverance...and enjoy her blog for countless reasons.
In the past few months I have stumbled upon posts relating personal experiences of Child Abuse. I have read stories of healing, remembrances of pain, and just the briefest mention of a past experience. These posts are written by blogmates that many of you and I read every day. If anyone ever abused one of my children, there would be swift and effective retribution. My only hope is that I would be able to hold myself in check to make the punishment long, painful, and permanent. In the next couple of weeks I will remind you about this upcoming Blog Event.

10 September 2007

another hero that day

scroll down for Heads or Tails

Today I want to honor Mr. Ben Sliney. I believe our entire nation owes him a deeply heartfelt Thank You. With my family and friends who are military and private pilots I recognize Ben Sliney (along with the World Trade Center responders and the passengers of Flight 93) as one of the true heroes that morning during the tragedy of “9/11” He made and executed the decisions which saved thousands of American lives.

On 11 September 2001, Ben Sliney began his first day as Director of National Operations for the FAA. He had come out of retirement nine months earlier. His first day. It went sour at 8:46am when the terrorists hit the North Tower. Seventeen minutes later they hit the South Tower.

At that moment, Ben Sliney and staff at the NY Control Center closed down the airspace of Boston, Newark, New York, and surrounding regions including southern New England, Maryland, Long Island and Pennsylvania, amid protests that they had no authority. Air traffic controllers across the country complained as they were required to reroute all incoming aircraft or delay them in a holding pattern.

In addition there were several hundred aircraft headed to the United States from overseas. Some of them USA airliners...many were not. The relaying of information to redirect all of these planes was complicated. At first Canada was unwilling to accept all of the incoming flights. The FAA calmly...but firmly replied that they were not landing here.

In the next 22 minutes it became apparent that several other planes were not responding to communication, and deviating from flight plans. Ben Sliney ordered the cancellation of all takeoffs nationwide. Full groundstop. No one had ever given this order before. No plane, commercial or private could take off. It was 9:25 in the morning on the east coast. Hundreds of airports were up and running. Thousands of airplanes were firing up for take off. The FAA was watching 4,452 airplanes already in the air.

They tracked a third aircraft headed directly for the center of Washington DC. American executives in Texas, and United executives in Illinois independently make the decision to put “everything on the deck”. It was the first time any airline had ever grounded their entire fleet...let alone two.

At 9:38 the terrorists hit the Pentagon. Ben Sliney has been quoted as thinking, “The skies are filled with guided missiles” and without taking the time to consult with FAA, military or government officials he shouted the order for what would be called the most massive effort in aviation history…to land all planes immediately. WhereEVER they were at the moment…regardless of their intended destination. Clear the skies NOW.

9:45 FAA ordered United States closed to all air traffic
9:59 the South Tower collapsed
10:06 United flight 93 crashed
10:29 the North Tower collapsed
12:16 all non-military aircraft had landed.

Some of you have read between the lines of fine print in the 9/11 Commission Report. Some of you may have military connections. Some watched the reports detailing the terrorists extensive planning for their strike. Many of you conclude that there were additional planes the terrorists intended to hijack and use in their attack that day. I have no doubt that there were. However they never got the chance. We owe Ben Sliney a true debt of gratitude.

Heads or Tails ~ 11 September 2001

When I think of 11 September 2001, and the word "tail"…my mind leaps immediately to the word "tailspin". And then I remember the movie, “United 93” (not “Flight 93” which is a different film) If you have not seen it…I recommend you do.

A significant number of the actual airtraffic controllers, military, and FAA employees play themselves in this movie. It has very little conjecture, and depicts the realtime course of events from the time United flight 93 pulled away from the gate until the time it crashed. On the DVD there are interviews with many of the surviving families of the passengers on that flight. The scenes of them meeting the actors and actresses who portrayed their loved ones are intense.

This account that follows is my recollection of where I was the morning of 11 September 2001. After rereading I realize it is sorta more for me and mine, and less for you my gentle readers..or you who are my not-so-gentle readers. It’s a self serving little trip down memory lane…with the exception of this:

All kidding aside. It has only been six years. Don’t forget what happened. The terrorists attacked us…you and me. It was a test. Don’t become overly complacent and allow yourself the warm cuddly safe assumption it is over. 11 September 2001 was merely a warning shot across the bow. They are not finished with their quest to take away our freedom and destroy the United States.

11 September 2001, Santa Cruz, California.
I was in bed. Asleep.
The telephone rang just before 6 o’clock in the morning.
Never a good sign.

The caller ID warned me it was my Mama.
I sat straight up…immediately wide awake…it had to be bad. She loves me too much (knows my temper too well) to call that early without a really good reason. My Gramma had died a few months before and my Grampa was devastated. He had just left California to go home to Indiana and I was SURE something had happened to him.

“are you up? turn on the television right now…the news”

I reached for the remote from my nightstand…and clicked on ABC. Damn. I asked her what happened while increasing the volume. Nobody knew anything at that point. I switched to CNN…I’m a news junkie and trust that even if they are biased CNN would have people on the scene. They had film…they reported it was a plane…but didn’t know what was going on yet. They first thought is was a small plane...which I knew was impossible. A small plane would crumple and do only a portion of that damage.

My daughter stumbled into my room scowling. It was the summer just before her third year at UC Davis and she was not pleased the ringing phone had woken her up…but she had heard my voice and came in to see what was going on. She climbed into bed asking questions. With my Mama on the phone and my daughter next to me we watched the second plane fly directly into the south tower.

I remember freezing and then swearing. One plane...accidental. Two planes...intentional. I assumed at that time it was foreign aircraft. It did not occur to me it would be ours. I handed the telephone to my daughter and jumped out of bed to get my laptop. Back on the bed I logged on, firing questions at my Mother. What had they said before?? She hung up to call other family members. I got onto the CNN site…and stayed on all day.

Phone calls flying between family and close friends. I switched back and forth between news channels. I was making coffee when the plane hit the Pentagon, Rhiannon and I went silent and looked at each other with tears. Jimmy? His offices were at the Pentagon. Where were Mel and Jamie? My cousin and his wife are F-18 Navy combat pilots on active duty. We watched the south tower fall with more horror than when the planes hit. The news reported evacuations and possible target locations. Annapolis was mentioned. My daughter raced to get her cell phone. Her highschool sweetheart Eric was at Annapolis. By the time the second tower fell we knew our nation was under attack…and wondered what would be next.

In the days following we watched the horror that had hit New York and Washington. The families of the passengers and crew on the planes, and those killed at the World Trade Center. I remember walls covered in pictures as so many searched for their loved ones.

I flew on 22 September to a friend's wedding reception in Chicago. I had been the maid of honor a few months before. It took four hours from arriving at San Jose International just to get to the ticket counter. Fellow passengers eyed each other with suspicion…especially if there was any hint of middle-eastern heritage. Military guards with rifles patrolled everywhere. On the return I had to wait six hours at the gate in O’Hare. That was after a very young man went thru every single item in my checked baggage. The bartender had a contest to see who could get the most juice out of a lime. All of his bar tools had been confiscated…but they still delivered the fruit. He also had us compete to open wine bottles (no sharp pointy cork screws) but most of us were from California and learned that in high school.

All kidding aside. It has only been six years. Don’t forget what happened. The terrorists attacked us…you and me. It was a test. Don’t become overly complacent and allow yourself the warm cuddly safe assumption it is over. 11 September 2001 was merely a warning shot across the bow. They are not finished with their quest to take away our freedom and destroy the United States.

I think I’m gonna go play a little Toby Keith.

Miz Skit (aka Barb at Skittles Place) has gotten her tail in gear and heads up a Tuesday challenge called: Heads or Tails. If you don’t know her site….WHERE have you been?

Manic Monday with Mo ~ Clue

"What was your first clue?"

I say it innocently enough…with a slight tilt of my head and an unblinking stare. Providing you every opportunity for a legitimate explanation. And yet…there is something else… just below the surface.

The implication being of course that there was more than one. Perhaps a series of clues which were somehow overlooked. I don’t think that you are stupid. We both know it was not a matter of needing a second source or obtaining independent confirmation. Could you have made an intentional decision to ignore the information? Is it possible that denial was a factor? I just want to know at what point you clued in

Even a moderate level of perception will recognize my now arched eyebrows as a signal of impending impatience. You think back. Was there an element of disbelief in the question? Was it disdain? The slight murmur under by breath could be exasperation….there is the distinct possibility that I may roll my eyes. You are clueless to the fact that I know there is no good answer….but you make a valiant attempt.

if your Mondays are too can be a FoMo
Friends Of MOrgan

07 September 2007

Photo Hunting ~ Music

Last year I kept company with a man who lived outside of Chicago. He got tired of checking his expensive guitar evertime he traveled…actually he was impatient having to wait for his guitar when he landed. So…he bought a lower end one to have out here. It has been in the garage for quite some time. I’d completely forgotten about the stupid thing.

Apparently I am one of those women who are attracted to musicians…as my current gentleman caller brings his guitar when he comes calling. The other day he chivalrously offered to take out the garbage.

What do you tell the guy from Salinas who finds the guitar left by the guy from Chicago?

06 September 2007

Thursday Thirteen ~ veintequatro

desired male attributes
(working my way thru the alphabet....backwards)


05 September 2007


This is one of those times I have no explanation. None.

At 17 and 19, two of my kids struggle with their shock, their loss, and their horror. They search their hearts and minds for a way to support three of their own. Among friends they discuss details, question with disbelief, stand silent with tears. My kids are making plans to attend court arraignments and memorial services. Damn.

A man who has been The Cub's Lacrosse coach for seven years and was Little Missy's for two, has been arrested for the murder of his wife by suffocation. She was found by one of their three teenagers. All three were home at the time. Their father had left in the middle of the night following an argument…and later turned himself in to police. It appears he killed his wife and left his children to find her. Damn.

She was a loving Mother and well known in the local greenbuilding community. By all accounts a good friend to many. Certainly someone whose home you were happy to have your kids hang out in.

I liked this man, you know. He was encouraging to my Cub…for whom Lacrosse is the only one of “his sports” he has permission to play since he broke his neck. When Little Missy first joined the team, he took the time to teach her the nuances of the game, which was brand new to her. He coached on his own time and promoted a co-ed high school team in a sport unknown to this part of the United States. He welcomed the Cub into his home. He made a point of chatting with Little Missy every time he visited the hardware store where she works. He has no history of violence or abuse.

My Cub and Little Missy are friends with these three kids…who have lost their Mother at the hands of their Father. They have been to their home on many occasions. A man who they have admired, respected, hugged, celebrated, and shared meals with has done this heinous thing.


01 September 2007

Black Hawk Don

Reading comments on Bond’s Big Leather Couch brought back memories of when I was school. Coincidently the upcoming theme for Head’s or Tales is “School” Maybe you would like to flip the coin with Barb?

I had wonderful elementary teachers.
Mrs. P – kindergarten
Mrs. R – first grade
Mrs. G – second grade
Mrs. G2 – third grade
Miss L – fourth grade
Mrs. W– sixth grade

I have very fond memories of these women, who helped teach, nurture, mold, even discipline me with their intellect, warmth, insight and desire to be teachers of children. You'll notice there is one missing. Fifth grade. Of all my elementary teachers she may have been the one I learned from the most.

My fifth grade teacher was a middle aged, unsmiling, short stout plug of a woman named Mrs. K, with a solid helmet of unnaturally red hair and black rimmed glasses, who would strut down the hall like the battle axe of a prison warden she really wanted to be.

I was the kid who got all “E’s” for excellent in the academics and all “U’s” for unsatisfactory in citizenship. I liked to have fun. I liked all my friends to have fun with me. Most of my teachers appreciated my quirky, non-linear personality. Not so much Mrs. K. Mrs. K did not like me to begin with. Later…she would hate my guts. I learned no matter what, not everyone is gonna like you.

It started early in the year when I taught my buddies to make little origami containers to fill with ladybugs at lunchtime. (my parents made sure we were exposed to both the arts and the sciences, these days the universities all have a name for it….”Inter-Disciplinary Education”) I insisted everyone included little blades of grass and made sure each had a hole for air. We were humane and well behaved. After lunch recess we gently stored away the creased paper globes in our desks…and went up front to sit on the carpet…at the teacher’s feet…for some sort of instruction.

WHO KNEW that in the heat of the afternoon they would want to fulfill their Mother Goose destiny? “Ladybug Ladybug Fly Away Home” The air hole became an escape hatch. As nature intended…from a dozen or more desks emerged several hundred ladybugs… flying… crawling… flying… landing…flying…trying to escape the classroom….to the absolute delight of the entire fifth grade.

Everyone was up laughing and chasing the magical insects. Despite all her efforts, Mrs. K could not get control of her class. Loud, jumping, ladybug-loving frivolity was the law of the land. As my luck continued, the Principal walked by and saw the chaos. In he came with his booming voice asking what was going on. I’d been sent to his office upon occasion in the past few years…we had an understanding… I was not concerned.

Five seconds of stunned silence was followed by twenty-some ten-year-olds all talking at once, with the escalating speed and excitement of trying to tell the story FIRST. My name was mentioned by several. Not in a bad way. They had no idea they were ratting me out…they were trying to give me CREDIT. That’s what friends are for. As the din grew louder and louder, the teacher next door came in to see what the ruckus was. I glanced at Mrs. K…her face was redder than her hair and if memory serves, the smoke came from her ears. She was trying to sputter some explanation. Every kid in that class knew she had been caught by her boss not performing her duties. Oh man this was great! I learned not to take glee in another’s misfortune.

I had a big ole smart-alecky smile. I should have learned to perfect the poker face. My glee in her misfortune was short lived. I remember her eyes locking onto mine and that feeling of being frozen to the floor. With dread I anticipated her wrath. Already I knew full well the repercussions of being a Ring Leader when all does not go according to plan.

Not long after, I'd learn to become an Instigator. To this day, I embrace the role of Instigator. As Instigator you can fly below the radar…make wonderful things happen…sit back and watch your creation unfold. (I learned I must only use this power for good) Instigator is far less dangerous than Ring Leader. Ring Leader is easily spotted by the authorities. An Expert Instigator can (if she so chooses) designate a Pretend Leader. If the proverbial fertilizer hits the ventilating device, this Poser will not be in any real danger…for he will be recognized as the Dupe that he is and discounted. He will be far too proud (even in defeat) to admit he was not the Ring Leader. Believe me…you can find plenty of people out there who like to take a good idea, and run with it, as if it were their own. The key is to have a contingency plan, an escape route and an ironclad NDA. The downside is…at times you have to be able to relinquish control. I am still trying to learn to relinquish control.

The Principal took charge, called the Custodian, and sent our class to the room next door. It was the Autumn of 1969….I’m pretty certain they used carcinogenic pesticides to solve the problem. (I’m also fairly certain they didn’t clean the residue from the desks, carpet, or other classroom surfaces.) I was devastated. Not because I was in trouble. (and I was in really BIG trouble.) I was devastated because all of those incredible ladybugs had been killed and it was all my fault. I learned sometimes you cause irreparable damage without meaning to. I have never caught a ladybug since.

It was the year I learned to play Tether Ball. It was my first (and maybe only) non-team sport. I loved it so much, I got one of my very own for Christmas which my Dad and I installed in our backyard. My little brother got a BB gun….go figure. I learned how to make cement. It was the year I realized running helps me solve problems (actual physical running…as opposed to running away…which I would try later in life). I fell in the gravel and tore my knee to pieces. I learned some scars last forever. I learned when you are not careful you can fall. In the subsequent 37 years I have fallen many times. I’ve learned how to get up. I have not learned how to be careful.

About midyear, I got caught lying in class. We were learning about heritage. Two of the branches of my Mama’s side of the family tree are Cherokee…one of which is full blood. I was very proud. I had pictures of great grandparents who look Indian. Everything in my report was factual. However I snuck into my Mama’s jewelry box and helped myself to a piece of her turquoise and silver jewelry. After giving my speech I pulled out the necklace and claimed it was made by one of my relatives. That didn’t fly. My Dad had bought it for her when we were on vacation at the Grand Canyon. Mrs. K called my parents. That was not fun. I learned authorities share information. Then she reported back to class that I had lied. That was even less fun. I learned the hard way that public humiliation for dishonesty is a tough lesson.

On a side note I did NOT learn to stay out of my Mama’s things. I had just grown to the point that we wore the same shoe size. I loved her shoes. Then blouses, and dresses, and ultimately most of her wardrobe. It wasn’t until the mid 1990’s that I would learn payback is a bitch. Two of them in fact. My girls not only frequent my closet, jewelry box, kitchen, and DVD collection….they feel no qualms about taking what they find away with them to their own homes.

Living an hour south of the action in Haight Ashbury, and watching students fight the National Guard, I learned in no uncertain terms, my Dad would come to whatever college I attended and haul my butt home if he ever saw me on television. Some nine years later at UCLA, I ran under falling pieces of burning flags trying to avoid the bank of network television cameras filming a demonstration when the Shah fell. My family wore army surplus jackets and parkas when camping. I learned not to wear mine in public.

I learned that boys and girls are treated differently. There was a proposal to allow girls to wear pants to school. Here it was 1970 in what would become Silicon Valley, and girls were forced to wear dresses in school. I remember Mrs. K being incredulous over the audacity of even contemplating girls wearing pants to school. I learned how adults (not MY parents) who I loved and respected would become uncontrollably angry and refuse to speak to one another. It wasn’t until the next year in sixth grade that I could wear pants to school…and then only “pant suits” …the type which would make Hillary proud.

In the Spring of fifth grade we learned fractions. I loved Math. I was good in Math and I knew it. I came by Math honestly…my Dad was in research development with IBM. I learned how to use a Slide Rule. (If you are reading this and are too eph-n young to know what a Slide Rule is, check out the HP Museum of Calculators here. I’m not joking…they got instructions and pictures and everything.) One night my Dad saw my homework and he taught me how to cancel fractions. It was like learning a secret code and a short cut rolled into one. What could be better?

So the next Math test came along…and I used my new found skills. Mrs. K. gave me a Zero. The answers were right. I even proved it to her by doing the problems the long way. Still a Zero… and with far too much smugness. This I didn’t understand. I learned not everyone is fair minded. This made me cry. In class. A first. I went home brokenhearted. I always had gotten great marks in Math. I had never ever gotten a Zero before…not in ANY subject.

If my Dad had been one of today’s Helicopter Parents….he would have been a Black Hawk. Not one to hover at anytime in his life, he swept in fast, stealth, and fully armed. HE TOOK OFF FROM WORK. He had a bit of a temper to say the least. I will never forget him walking into my classroom that afternoon. He was not happy. Mrs. K didn’t care. I was still flunked. My Dad was angry. Angry enough to go to the Principal. The Principal sorta shrugged. His job was administration, what could he do? My Dad was outraged. He went to the School Board. Ultimately they ruled that if a student can complete a problem the short way… accurately without cheating… they have to be given credit for getting it right. I learned to appeal to a higher authority.

After that Mrs. K truly hated my guts. I learned mean people suck. But that was okay…we had won. My parents were in the wings if I needed them. I had learned that years before. They warned me to stay as far away from trouble as possible. I must have…cause the rest of the year was rather uneventful.

I learned a great deal that year.

(the photos are of me on Easter of 1970 with my very first camera, my Dad, Don about that same time, and him again in 1959, just a few months after I was born.)

Photo Hunting ~ Dirty