santa cruz wharf

09 December 2009

07 December 2009

Christmas Boat Parade ~ 2009

The Christmas Boat Parade in Santa Cruz Harbor is always so much fun.  It was a beautiful evening….but really cold.

Most of the boats in the harbor are decorated, even if they don’t participate in the actual parade.

Can you guess which one was my favorite?

19 November 2009

Cy Timmy….Cy

That ear to ear, goofy,grin girl is my daughter Rhiannon. She recently attended a philanthropic event where she was able to meet and hang out with some of her all time favorite people.

rhi and tim

The boy she is with…won a little award today…for the second time in his young life.

Congrats Tim…very well deserved.

05 November 2009

Dona Nobis Pacem ~ Blog Blast for Peace 2009

peace globe 09

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (February 27, 1807 – March 24, 1882) was an incredibly talented educator and poet who endured great personal tragedy.

Internationally educated from the age of three, Longfellow taught at Bowdoin and Harvard.  The first American to translate Dante’s “Divine Comedy” and other classics, he is probably is best remembered as one of the most beloved American poets.

From the elementary school required recitation “
The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere

Listen my children
and you shall hear

to the the epic “Song of Hiawatha”

By the shores of Gitche Gumee,
By the shining Big-Sea-Water,

many of the lyrical phrases of our literary culture were penned by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.

He lost two wives.  The first to miscarriage in 1835. The second in a tragic fire he blamed himself for.  In the twenty years he lived following her death in 1861, he never fully recovered, and suffered additional tragedies.

I make note of the dates as in 1864, Longfellow hit the low point in his life. Our country, the United States, was in the depth of a horrendous Civil War. Nowadays, we say Civil War and think of cotton and Tara and reflection of the first step in our nation’s history to end slavery. Sometimes we overlook 620,000 Americans died during the Civil War.

It was on Christmas in 1864 Longfellow heard the bells on Christmas morning and thought of his wife, and agonized over the injuries his son had suffered fighting. In his darkest despair he questioned if there was any Peace on Earth, indeed if there ever would be again.

In that moment, as he wrote the poem which would become a beautiful Christmas carol, he knew in all certainty that the good in mankind would indeed prevail. That the hate which seemed so powerful would fail…and that there would be Peace on Earth.

Casting Crowns has a version of this song I am pretty fond of.  I could only find a “live” clip on youtube. It’s pretty cool to hear all the children singing “Peace on Earth” throughout the song.

Christmas Bells
the poem by HW Longfellow:

I heard the bells on Christmas Day
Their old, familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet
The words repeat
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

And thought how, as the day had come,
The belfries of all Christendom
Had rolled along
The unbroken song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

Till ringing, singing on its way,
The world revolved from night to day,
A voice, a chime,
A chant sublime
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

Then from each black, accursed mouth
The cannon thundered in the South,
And with the sound
The carols drowned
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

It was as if an earthquake rent
The hearth-stones of a continent,
And made forlorn
The households born
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

And in despair I bowed my head;
"There is no peace on earth," I said;
”For hate is strong,
And mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!"

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
"God is not dead, nor doth He sleep;
The Wrong shall fail,
The Right prevail,
With peace on earth, good-will to men."

Biography (dot com)
National Center for Public Policy and Research
The Other Pages (dot org)

As previously mentioned, today is the annual Blog Blast for Peace thanks to Mimi.  Please visit here to catch the thousands of Peace offerings from literally all over the Globe.

19 October 2009

The Peace Movement.

For many Americans of my generation the “Peace Movement” conjures up images from the late 1960’s.  You know the ones I mean.

Not just Woodstock. I’m thinking more along the lines of: Turn On, Tune In, Drop Out…Make Love, Not War…Hell NO, we won’t go…John naked in bed with Yoko…and 19 year old National Guard soldiers pointing loaded rifles at 19 year old college students. 

One of the more unfortunate results of the 60’s Peace Movement was the atrocious reception of the men and women of our armed forces who returned from serving our country.  Those who fought in the VietNam War, as well as those who served in uniform in any capacity.

Fast forward to now. 
To him.

SPY Afghanistan 02  
The Teamster’s son SPY.
His initials, not necessarily his occupation. He is serving with the United States Air Force in Afghanistan. You might be able to understand why a 2009  “Peace Movement” makes me feel a little uncomfortable.

Back in the 60’s the American military was partially staffed by the draft.  Today, it is all elective. Our military men and women have signed up to serve their country and protect our way of life by their own volition.

I know many people (here in the socialist mecca of a village I live in,) who say they are against the war, but they support the troops.  To me that sounds similar to someone being supportive of the players on a baseball team, but not wanting them to win the game.

I fully support not only our military…but also our involvement in the conflict in Afghanistan. My reasons have a lot to do with the Taliban, the rights of women and the published goals and objectives of Al Qaeda.

I want there to be Peace on Earth.
But I know that we can not always stand idly by.
I know that there are reasons for war.

There are things worth fighting for.
There are people worth protecting.

I don’t want war.
I want Peace.

On 05 November, a small army will be blogging with Peace Globes. You can learn all about this Peace force
here.  You can get a template to make a Peace Globe of your very own. 

Let there be Peace on Earth.
and let it begin with me.

The Peace Globe and Blog Blast for Peace are inspired by
Mimi, the ruling Queen of Memes. I am honored to wear the Badge.

16 October 2009

every post, tweet, and Facebook update worth a penny to Beat Cancer toward a Guinness record.

One day only!

eBay/Paypal and Miller Coors donating a penny for every mention of  #BeatCancer.

check it out
here on Mashable
here at BeatCancer.

15 October 2009

Oscar….have some popcorn

I came across a few things in my reader this morning…

Do you know what today is?

It is National Grouch Day.

sing along with Oscar here….

Oh, I love trash!
Anything dirty or dingy or dusty
Anything ragged or rotten or rusty
Yes….I love….trash

Then I kept reading and it turns out today is also National Latino Aids Awareness Day. 
NLAAD…got a website and everything.

Now I realize there are only 365 days in a year….well most years…and about 365 million causes and celebrations….plus you gotta save Christmas and Thanksgiving and Valentine’s Days as they were intended.  And yes…those of you above our northern boarder and across the pond…you got your own special calendar.

So, I did as I am wont to do and googled it all… turns out the 15th of October is also:

National Pregnancy & Infant Loss Awareness Day
National White Cane Safety Day
Get To Know Your Customers Day…and
International Credit Union Day

In addition this WEEK is:
National School Lunch Week
National Chestnut Week
Emergency Nurses Week
World Rainforest Week
…to name a few….

not to mention that October is:
National Breast Cancer Awareness Month
National Popcorn Popping Month
Sausage Month
Vegetarian Month
Wishbones for Pets Month
Raptor Month
Positive Attitude Month…and
National Sarcastic Awareness Month
(also a very partial list)

You can view one of the listings

I figure there is a cause for celebration or a cause to fight for…for just about everyone today.  I’m going to pop corn and sing about trash….how about you?

13 October 2009

Peace on the horizon….

Almost two years ago, I first participated in the Blogblast for Peace.   Posting a Peace Globe and expressing the desire: Dona Nobis Pacem.

November 5th will be the third anniversary of the Peace Globe inspired by Mimi Lenox. Peace Globes have been posted by 48 different countries…and almost all the states in our nation. If you’d like to know how the whole thing began, you can read her story.

If you’d like to post your own Peace Globe the
templates can be found here…and there are several people who have graciously offered to help you personalize yours if need be.  Peace Bloggers are on FaceBook and Twitter….as well as iPeace and Blogger Unite.

I thought I’d repost my first offering from two years ago…as it is still my prayer.

I know Peace.
Peace of heart which makes you sigh.
Peace of mind that is contentment.

The Peace that transcends understanding.

My life is not always Peaceful.
Too often it is contentious.
And…I have not always been in the right.

Peace can be elusive.

I see it…there… the brass ring…there…just out of my grasp…there…I reach for it frantically…there…while I whirl on this carousal…around and around…there…my fingers clutch and I am wrenched off.

In the dark, I search for Peace as if blind…my fingertips sweeping the air at the radius of my arms…extending…sweeping…until (more often than not) I crack my shin and bruise my knee as I trip over the Peace which was in front of me all the time.

Make it peaceful where you are.
Make peace with those around you.
(I’m not saying agree or acquiesce.)
I am wishing common ground to establish peace.

In these days when we say Peace…too often one thinks of War…with the constant coverage and never ending armchair commanders in chief…so….yes…

World Peace
Give Peace a Chance
Let there be Peace on Earth…
and l
et it begin with me.

For my children (who are adults)
my heartfelt prayer is that you have Peace.

Peace of Heart
Peace of Mind
Peace of Soul

To breath without anxious thoughts
To recognize that you don’t always need what you don’t have.
To appreciate the beauty of the small thing
To be grateful for love
To live in a home that is your haven
To have sanctuary for your soul
To be content
To have Peace.

01 October 2009

29 September 2009

ya’ know… I like his movies too… but an Academy Award is not a Get-Out-of-Jail-Free Card.

under the heading of forewarned is forearmed…I take the subject of sexual abuse of children extremely seriously.  There are no circumstances under which it is acceptable or humorous. 

Having artistic talent does not give anyone the right to drug and rape a thirteen year old child. Polanski raped a child. There is no question he did it.  To this day, he admits it himself.

Just because French politicians, Swiss Cultural Councils, and various American actors and actresses have voted him Mr. Congeniality, does not erase the fact that Roman Polanski has violated a little girl.

Should every artist of considerable talent not be held to the same laws of the land and basic human decency?  If he had only been nominated for an award, should he only have to serve half of his sentence?

Would it be okay with you if Michael Moore used beer and a roofie to forcibly sodomize a thirteen year old daughter, sister, niece in your family?

Should every surviving family member who had relatives slaughtered by the atrocity of the Holocaust be allowed to violate a young girl and not be punished?

Having a spouse and unborn child murdered is horrific. But should that give someone a free pass to forcibly sodomize someone else’s child?

If after pleading guilty, if a child rapist uses their resources to escape arrest for thirty years, should that conviction disappear? 

Polanski gave a series of interviews in the late 1970’s. In one he claimed the reason his case had so much media appeal was,

“But… f—ing, you see, and the young girls. Judges want to f— young girls. Juries want to f— young girls. Everyone wants to f— young girls!”

So basically because Polanski thinks everyone else wants to commit sexual child abuse, he should be allowed to.

A politician who has a consensual adult love affair outside of his marriage is battered incessantly, vilified in the media…but a film director should be allowed to sexually abuse a young girl?

Professional athletes go to prison for drug use and animal abuse. But a film director should not be punished for raping a child?

He ran to France, because he was afraid his crimes were subject to “heavy sentencing.”  For thirty years he has thumbed his nose at the United States of America.

I understand he is sorry now. But that does not give his treatment of that girl to go without consequences and without legal punishment. It does not erase fleeing after conviction because he thought he’d have to go to prison.

25 September 2009

Looking at the sky on Friday ~ clearlake morn (15)

LookingattheskyTime to play “Looking at the sky on Friday” with Tisha again…it’s fun to go over to her site, “Crazy Working Mom” and see what is going on with her.

Most of my sky pictures are in the evening…this one was taken in the early morning at Clearlake last month… while people were sleeping…and…

…while things were booting and steeping.
LATSOF 2009.09.25
Thanks to Little Missy for having The Teamster and me up to the weekend with her Novio and his familia. 

22 September 2009

letter box

I have finally taken possession of my letter box.

The letter box has been “mine” since January of 2001 although my Mama hasn’t been able to give it up to me until now. 

xletter box 09
A small, shellacked wooden box, it’s brass hinges bent. The magenta satin lining, faded and stained, holding letters.

Handwritten letters, seventy years old. 
My grandmother’s wooden box.
My grandfather’s letters.

When the stroke took Gramma without warning, it was no surprise she had everything written out. She liked things to be as she wanted… she wouldn’t have left any detail to chance.  On different kinds of paper…in different colored inks.  Added to over the years as things occurred to her.  Which dress she wanted to be buried in…the hymns to be played and scriptures to be shared.  Her handwritten notes included a schedule and sequence of how she wanted her memorial service to be held.  It was followed to the letter… as best they could. Her list of pallbearers was outdated. It included two of her grandsons who had “preceded her in death,”…and the minister at Congress Street Methodist had long since retired…replaced by some new guy nobody knew.

There was a hodgepodge list of “who gets what”… a specific piece of jewelry for each of her granddaughters, a candy dish, a treasured bell, the collected Liberty Dollars by birth year. The Grands had never owned things that cost a great deal, but every item on her list held sentimental value.  One of the seemingly inconsequential items listed was a “wood box of letters” with “katherine” written next to it.

I didn’t know when Gramma decided the wood box of letters would come to me.  But I knew why.

It was way back, one of those rare summers when we went “home.”

Going home meant Lafayette, Indiana, although I had never actually lived there myself.  I clearly recall the crazy cross country Christmas trips with my cousins…nine or ten of us in the yellow Plymouth Fury station wagon…long before min-vans, childseats, SUVs, or seatbelt laws.  However, I have very few recollections of the two or three childhood summertimes in Indiana. They have been overshadowed by adult memories when most all of the trips were in June. I do remember making ice cream in an old, hand cranked freezer….watching thunderstorms and capturing lightening bugs…all that must have been summer.

I was a fairly social child…a bit of a clown. I got along okay with my cousins…but we lived thousands of miles apart…and our worlds had little in common. 

group on stoop 
(I’m the only one looking at my Dad’s camera…
and apparently the the only one not wearing dressy shoes?)

Occasionally, I suffered from sensory overload when three dozen family members were under the same roof.  So every once in a while, I had to go hermit. It was one of these times I had snuck upstairs to be by myself.  The afternoon heat was oppressive in an old house with no air-conditioning.  I angled the room’s small electric fan and a second one I stole from the other bedroom, to blow on me.  Lying on my belly at the foot of the bed, I escaped into one of the books I had lugged cross country.

At some point I rolled over in exaggerated exasperation with the heat and humidity. Throwing my arms out and letting my head dangle off the side of the bed, I was looking up into the open closet. The different perspective revealed something I had never noticed before. On the left wall, hidden behind the hanging clothes, was another door. I jumped up to investigate.
Typical Indiana grandparent off season wardrobes hung in the closet…long, heavy wool coats, sweaters, and Papa’s winter work clothes reeking of moth balls.  It took two hands and all my little girl strength to shove the hangers over.  A whole pile of folded quilts were stacked on the floor…I drug them out into the room.  I had to reach up on my tippy toes to grab the bit of string attached to the bare light bulb.

The door was slightly smaller than normal.  Professionally framed with a turn latch. I opened it slowly, cringing when it creaked. I peaked inside and thrilled with my find. An ATTIC!!  A Secret Attic no less. I was very proud at the cleverness of my discovery.  I started to go inside but it was too dark,  I could see the space stretching out to the front eves of the house.  There were shadows of boxes and unrecognizable shapes balanced on two by fours.

I had long since graduated from Nancy Drew…but I’d learned a lot from that girl.  I needed a flashlight. And I needed to sneak it.  I shut the attic door and put the quilts back so no one would discover what I had found.  Turning off the light and closing the closet, I headed downstairs.  Neighbors, aunts, uncles and a dozen cousins, I was just one more kid in the mix. 

I strolled through the living room trying to appear innocent and bored…and as if not on a mission. I paused in the kitchen, watching the poker game.  There was always at least one table of cards underway. Even as a kid, if you weren’t dealt in… you were still interested in who was raking in the cash. On a really good day you could make four or five dollars. I stood at the table, watched the action and nodded wisely along with the play.  In truth, I was there to scope out the flashlight.  As I suspected, it was on the top of the fridge.  Even if I could reach it, someone would ask what I wanted it for.  No way could I climb up the stool without notice.  Especially considering Uncle Chuck was sitting on the stool at the time. 

Nonchalantly, I headed to the basement.  Stored there were toys, old prom dresses, and canned goods.  It had a laundry area and a moldy cinderblock shower.   In a separate room, behind the scary old boiler was my Papa’s tool bench.  I KNEW a flashlight would be down there that I could get my hands on unobserved.  My brother and some of my younger cousins were playing around at the foot of the stairs.  Thinking back now…it was probably harder to sneak anything past them than past the adults.

I worked my way through the maze of the basement, until I was in Papa’s work room.  It was officially off limits unless you had Papa with you…but the other kids were paying me no never mind.  A big black flashlight stood proudly on the far back corner of the work bench.  I grabbed it,  perplexed. I was wearing a t-shirt, shorts, and sneakers.  How could I smuggle this through the house ?  WWND? (What Would Nancy Do?)  I had to find something to carry up with me to hide the flashlight.  Something I was “allowed” to be carrying around…something no one would question. 

In the corner by the washing machine was a stack of old magazines, Good Housekeeping, RedBook, Ladies Home Journal, National Seed Corn. I held a few in my arm up against my chest, hiding the flashlight. Brilliant. I was able to retrace my steps without notice.  I was always reading.  I’d been known to get into trouble for reading too much. Me getting something to read was pretty common place.

Back upstairs I was quick to pull the pile of quilts out and reopen the hidden door. Armed with the flashlight I stepped carefully onto boards which had been laid across the rafters. I knew better than to step between the two by fours and fall through the ceiling into the living room.  I also knew to step quietly so those below me wouldn’t hear. There were boxes of old shoes and hats.  A couple full of books and magazines. Mostly old stuff in a home that would have never considered a garage sale. 

Everything had that film of dirty dust and cobwebby stickiness.  I was rummaging around none too carefully…digging through a bunch of old stuff when I found the wooden box. Kinda junky to my California eye…but interesting nonetheless. I pulled it out and opened the brass hasp.  Tucked inside were pages of lined paper folded up.  I couldn’t see well enough to read them… but I did recognize my grandfather’s handwriting. I lunge stepped back over the rafters and through the closet into the daylight. I sat indian style on the floor and gingerly opened up the letters.

papa lettter one
Even so young, I immediately recognized the intimacy of Papa’s words. I instinctively knew reading them was wrong, but I couldn’t pull myself away.
papa letter two 
Words of love and longing interspersed with the daily recollections of work and meals. 

papa letters threeYoung husband and wife apart.  He in Indiana. Her in Tennessee with the babies as her mother was dying. He was struggling to find enough work to send her money for milk…and to repay the $25 loan for her emergency train ticket south.

the old homeplace                   (the old homeplace, Tazewell,Tennessee)

I read every page over and over.  I refolded each one and placed them back into the wooden box.  Not so junky to me now, I wrapped it up in an old woolen shirt and carefully put it back in a cardboard box. Out through the hidden doorway and into the closet, putting everything back to rights. I stowed the flashlight under the quilts for future use, and turned out the light.

Washing off the dust I was still immersed in the letters.  My preteen sensitivities to young love torn apart was off the charts. The thought of not having enough money to buy MILK, for crying out loud. MK at homeplaceThe thought of my own Mama as a toddler, without milk. I couldn’t get out of my mind the raw, unsophisticated words of my lonely grandfather in his early twenties, struggling to be a man and take care of his family…and longing for his young wife.

(my Mama at the homeplace)

Back downstairs I sought out my Gramma.  She was sitting in her chair in the living room…holding court no doubt.  I just sat next to her, with her patting my arm, while she talked away. 

My Grandparents loved me to pieces…but I was third of thirteen grandchildren…and we lived the farthest away.  I always knew my other cousins were closer to our Grandparents…but at that moment I felt as if I shared a special secret with them. And I felt more than a little guilty for prying. I was raised to be honest…and to own up when you did something you shouldn’t have done.  Although inadvertently, I had violated their privacy and it was bothering me. And…I wanted to know more.  Part of me wanted to tell my Gramma I had read the letters to absolve my guilt…and part of me wanted to confess so she would tell me her side of the story. 

I waited until there was a lull, when we were just about alone, and told her I’d found the Secret Attic.  She said it was just full of old clothes and too dangerous to play in.  I probably gave her a “yeah whatEVer” response…I wasn’t one of the little kids after all and I knew what I was doing. And then…I told her I found her letter box. 

It took her a minute to realize what I was talking about. She was smiling and saying how long ago it all was. Chances are pretty good she was using words like “land sakes chile” and “heavens to goodness.”  I remember starting to cry and saying… “but you didn’t have any money to buy milk for the babies” and quoting other parts of the letters. 

She hugged me and told me to go get the box. I ran back upstairs and went though all the steps in record time.

It occurred to me I could get into some serious trouble from my own Mama or her sisters for my little escapade.  At home it would have been no problem…but it was a different gig in Indiana.  I had to abide by the rules my aunts and uncles imposed on my cousins. It would be another decade before I clued in on the reasons behind that family dynamic. 

Cradling the letter box with reverence, I walked directly to my Gramma.  She opened it gently and glanced through each page.  I had seen her cry before.  Waving as a car pulled away…when we were going home to California…or when they were going home to Indiana. 

But I had never sat next to her with tears in her eyes.

papa letters 6

Her hand at her lips and nodding slowly she read through each page.  Halfway looking up she called out “Clyde…Clyde, come over here… look what this child’s found.”

papa letters 7 
I wished she’d hush up, but it was too late.  Papa came over and looked at the box, not immediately taking in the letters. “now where’d ya git that?”

My investigative pride won out over fear of punishment.  “I found the Secret Attic upstairs” I whispered, creating a little conspiracy.  “It’s okay….I didn’t tell anyone”  As if that would make it acceptable. I was without blame.  As if me traipsing through the attic was common place and  perfectly alright.

Papa just looked at me. 
A bit exasperated.  Not surprised.

I wasn’t their normal grandchild. It wasn’t about me really…it was more about how they felt about my Mama and what they thought about my father.  I know that now. Thirty years later, after Gramma passed I spent time in Indiana. We all did.  Then at the low point in my life, I went to Tennessee while Papa was there.  And he would come to California often.  During those times, he and I would talk about a great many things.

It only took a glance for Papa to recognize those letters.  He went from exasperated to annoyed to irritated in point-oh-one seconds. Uh Oh. Gramma handed one letter up to Papa.  Her face sweet…his face soft.  And I was crying again. 

papa letters 5 
He glanced at me embarrassed…not at my tears, but that I had read his words from so long ago.

papa letters four
I remember them talking to one another…but not what they were saying.  It was the murmurings of two longtime lovers and their remembrances.

It was amazing the three of us could sit there for so long uninterrupted. Or maybe it actually wasn’t as long as my memory reflects.  I don’t recall how the conversation ended.  Or what happened to the letter box after that.  I didn’t get into any trouble.  No one told my parents and neither of my aunts berated me. However, I was forbidden to go back into the attic. 

me goofing
Well, sheesh. 

I knew they weren’t serious about THAT.

I snuck into the Secret Attic more than once over the next several days. Looking for more treasure. Imagining complicated episodes of family lore. I remember sporting an old fedora.  I wore it around one day…and eventually gave it up to my brother (who was ALWAYS wearing some sort of hat.)  My Dad asked where it came from.  I didn’t want to lie…but couldn’t confess the Secret Attic.  I told him I got it upstairs in a closet…and Papa snorted from across the room. I wasn’t fooling Papa, he knew where the hat came from.  But he didn’t rat me out to my father. 

At one point we spent a couple days at my cousins’ house. When we got back to The Grands’ I repeated my now familiar routine of shoving over the clothes and dragging out the quilts…..and…whoa!!   A shiny, brand new, brass latch with padlock had been recently installed on the door to my Secret Attic. I just stared. And then I smiled.  I had an idea.

It didn’t take much rummaging in my Gramma’s bathroom cabinet before I found the bobbie pins.  I would pick the lock of course.  I was on a roll...channeling Nancy.  Back upstairs I prepared my tool.  (meaning I pried open the bobbie pin and pulled off the rubber tips with my teeth.)

I twisted and tweaked the end of the bobbie pin in that lock.  I gently probed with one end and two.  I jammed it in and tried to force the padlock open.  I worked on it for almost an hour.  Nothin’.

Totally frustrated with failure I put everything back.  I stomped downstairs looking for my Grandfather.  In the kitchen getting coffee, he hardly looked up when I plopped onto a chair.  He asked me something and I ignored him…sitting with my arms tightly folded and glaring at him through squinted eyes.  My impression of “boy am I angry with you.”  He finally noticed my attitude, and picked up right away what was going on.  He had that smirk on his face.  He knew why I was bent out of shape and was right pleased with himself.  I just glared at him as he left the room, laughing.

Over the next few days I tried to return to my Secret Attic.  I kept going back, checking the door…still lamenting on being locked out. I poked around in drawers looking for the key to the padlock.  I examined both my Gramma’s and my Papa’s key rings…to no avail.

Belatedly, I realized the flashlight I had hidden in the quilts was missing.  I assumed Papa had found it and I went to the basement for confirmation.  Sigh. Sure enough…there it was, back in its place.   Messing with the stuff on Papa’s tool bench was a far greater crime than being in the attic. But he hadn’t even mentioned me swiping the flashlight.

Suddenly, I caught my breath. Adrenaline raced through my body.  There…all neatly lined up by type and size was his formidable collection of SCREWDRIVERS.  Everything clicked into place.  I closed my eyes picturing that blasted latch which had kept me from my haven. Guessing the size needed,  I grabbed a couple screwdrivers,  tucked them into my waistband and covered them up with my shirt.

I practically flew up from the basement, through the living room and on to the second floor.  If he had seen me, Papa would have known what I was up to.  Apparently he did not.  To this day, I remember the gleeful exhilaration as I removed the screws one by one.  I WAS IN.  HA!  One little brass latch was no match for ME…padlock or not!  It was all rather powerful.

I had to keep it secret this time. I was now violating actual mandate. I knew they thought it was a safety thing.  That I would get hurt…or cause damage.  I had been fortunate that my parents hadn’t become involved.  Papa had told me to stay out and I hadn’t.  He had spent money to buy a new latch and lock to keep me out.  I had now become disrespectful and disobedient. But even worse…I couldn’t tell anyone.  I was so very pleased with myself for getting back in.  And nobody else even knew.

I carefully timed my Secret Attic visits so they didn’t realize I was back in.  The Grands took a nap most afternoons, (that’s another story) so it was easy to schedule.  Sometimes I’d just sit and day dream.  Sometimes I’d eavesdrop on conversations below. Sometimes I’d bring in the flashlight and read my own books. Mostly I just took pleasure with being IN my Secret Attic.

Eventually it was time to go home to California.  I thought about reinstalling the latch. I wanted to claim my victory but was seriously concerned about punishment.  Not from my Gramma or Papa…I was worried my Dad would somehow get wind of my little adventure.  That would not be good.  My father demanded we act appropriately in my Grandparents’ home.  The opinion his inlaws had of his children was very important to my father.

The morning we left I came down to breakfast.  As usual Papa was at the stove making biscuits and gravy.  I went around the table, and surreptitiously left the brass latch, padlock, and all the screws on the counter next to the sink.  I sat down and watched my Papa cook. It was crowded in the kitchen.  More’n half dozen people…most of them talking at the same time. Not me. I just watched.  Wearing what we now call a wife beater…he was a man who never raised a hand to a woman or loved one.  Been in quite a few “scaps” as he called them… he had kicked ass.  He worked in construction at the time and had pretty buff arms and shoulders.  But there he was, like every other morning, cooking.

As he reached to the counter for another plate, Papa hesitated. I knew he’d seen my handiwork. He was back at the stove. I stared at him.  He turned with a full plate and looked me square in the eye.  I raised my eyebrows and had my own little smirk. He set the plate down in front of me with a big ole grin, and shook the spatula in my face.  He was laughing as he turned back to the stove.

We never talked about my ingenuity. But a year or two later, the next time I went “home” the door to my Secret Attic had been nailed shut.  Completely shut. A dozen or more nails all around the doorjam. Damn. It was a Christmas trip and the house was overflowing with family.  It took a while for me to have enough alone time to pull each nail out. But the hammer was easier to come by, being kept in the hall closet and all. I was disappointed the challenge seemed so simple.

christmas cousins          (again….I’m the only one looking at my Dad’s camera)

I only waited a day or two this time.  I put the nails in the same place by the sink at breakfast time…and he just stared at me and shook his head.  Later he took me aside and explained he nailed it up because my Gramma was afraid the “young ’ns” would go in and “git real hurt.”  My Gramma was a world class worrier. Personally, I doubted  anyone else would be so clever as to discover my Secret Attic….but, I promised not to let anyone know…and he left it at that.  My Gramma spoke to me too. She had imagined several disaster scenarios. Telling me how the old house wouldn’t support the weight of a bunch of kids playing around up there.  That was fine with me.  It made it MY Secret Attic all the more. 

I’d get asked, “what are you doing up there?” and I’d say “reading.”  It was true. No one ever asked “Where up there are you reading?” so I never had to lie.  I remember it being pretty cold in the Secret Attic that winter, so I wore my coat and brought in a quilt or two. There were a few new boxes of discarded dishes and clothing…but the letter box was no where to be found.

A couple years later when I went “home” the door to my Secret Attic was neither locked nor barricaded.  However, to my surprise the hideaway was completely empty.  No boxes or torn lampshades, even the planks across the two by fours had been removed.  The Grands had both retired and I realized they had cleaned out the closets, the basement and the Secret Attic.  But I was a teenager now…and not as enamored with the dark and dirty, musty attic.  It was transitional summer for me in a lot of ways.

first christmasMy Gramma, Opal Lee would have been 91 today.

She passed in January of 2001. At the time, she had been married to my Papa for almost 67 years.

She left us a legacy of love and family, hundreds of pictures, and thousands of memories.

nd she left me her Letter Box.

16 September 2009

That’s my girl

This is from tonight’s San Francisco Giants’ game….sent to me from my daughter…

10th man 
Can you see the board?  No? 
Let me close in on it for you….

10th man close

You make your Mama proud!

Wordless Wednesday ~ been a long time

Rhi and UB

You two would have totally ganged up on me.

11 September 2009

Project 2,996 ~ 2009 Ingeborg Joseph


I am honored to participate in Project 2,996.

An effort by
Dale C. Roe of ‘Rough Draft” whose own words best explain its existence:

In the days following September 11, 2001, I was one of the millions of Americans who pledged to Never Forget.

In a sense I did keep my promise. I didn’t forget the attacks, or how they affected me. And I have tried not to let their effects lead me into lingering anger or hatred.

But in a larger sense I didn’t keep my promise. Though I didn’t forget the victims, I also never took the time to know them.

Project 2,996 is, in a sense, my self imposed penance, my Mea Culpa.

And as long as I have any online presence, Project 2,996 will continue.

A special thanks to  Sandee of Comedy Plus who did a post on Project 2,996 about a month ago and clued me in.

This is Ingeborg Joseph, celebrating Christmas at her friend Jackie’s home. 
Inge was one of the 2,996 people who died from the Attacks on 11 September 2001. Unlike most of the victims from that day, Inge did not actually die on September 11th.

She was an import manager specializing in freight forwarding for the Rohde & Liesenfeld shipping agency, located on the 32nd floor of the North Tower in the World Trade Center. Inge, at 60 years old, was a German national who had lived in the United States for many years.

Inge was caught in the fireball of the second strike. In the weeks following she fought for her life, ultimately dying from an infection from the  burns she suffered over 80% of her body.

I cannot image the pain and anguish of death in this manner…by Inge…or by her loved ones.  The following passages are a few of the actual words written by those who knew her.

While on this Earth Ingeborg Joseph was a force to be reckoned with…and a dear friend to many. 

from Jennifer:
Despite many a late evening in the office, Inga never seemed to run out of time or energy, be it to rush off to any of a number of various concerts with her friends, or to share a good joke, or read a great book and pass it on, or just hang out after work to blow off some steam.

What I most admired about Inga was that she was what my grandmother would call a "straight shooter". You always knew where you stood with Inga. Even if you differed, that merely ensured an evening of animated conversation and debate, and if you were like-minded, it just made the conversation that much more animated.

Inga seemed to do that which many of us strive for - to live life fully and without compromise.
I can only hope to do so as well.

from Karen:
I met Inge in l972 on Thanksgiving. As a true German, Inge had a passion for classical music, especially that of her favorite composer, Beethoven. She was like the summer day of Beethoven's 6th Symphony, her favorite piece of music.

Inge loved piano music and was an opera fan, as well. Whenever one called her apartment, either Beethoven played by her beloved Berlin Philharmonic, Maria Callas or a Pollini recording of Chopin could be heard in the background.

She loved books and read equally well in French, German and English, all of which she spoke fluently. Inge was a strong and independent person, yet she had a soft heart for others, especially for those with physical ailment, such as my handicapped sister. She was grounded in her Lutheran traditions and had a very spiritual side to her personality. In every church that she passed, she would light a candle for my sister.

She loved adventure and travel and would happily cross Central Park during the blizzard of 1978 to see the King Tut exhibit, go plunging down an intermediate slope on her first try at skiing or travel to Morocco or Turkey on her own.

I give thanks every day for my Thanksgiving friend. She will be missed, especially every time I hear a piece of good music.

from Jet:
Inga was my sister-in-law and I owe her a great deal. I am hoping this will serve as a small tribute to her, because she could not hear my words during her last days. She was the "big sister" I never had, especially when I first came to New York from Sri Lanka as a young student in the 70's.

I remember meeting her for the first time at the airport when she came to welcome me to New York. She bought me my first ever winter coat and leg warmers and made sure I did not get too sad during my first Charismas away from my parents.

Among the memories I will treasure are very ordinary things that we did together that now seem to have so much significance: eating marzipan Christmas pigs from Kleine Konditorei in Germantown; having cheesecake at Zum-Zum in the early years of the WTC; and going to work together in the WTC one summer when she found me a temp job in her former firm. We shared a deep love of music and I was happy that the last thing she may have heard as she lay in the burn unit was some of her favourite music that I taped for her.

Inga, there are so many good things I wish I could say to you about your significant role in my life. Suffice it to say that I owe you a great debt of gratitude and will never forget.

from Maria:
I met Inga in Turkey on vacation many years ago and we became fast friends. Inga introduced me to the West Side of Manhattan and I grew to love it as much as she did. We became Opera buddies and enjoyed going -- even if Inga did not like the performance on a particular night. I spent many a week-end at Inga's apartment where we talked about everything under the sun and how we enjoyed going to a movie and then discussing it from beginning to end. I miss her so very much. She touched everyone she met. She was truly exceptional. I hope that she's introduced herself to my Mom and Dad, as I know they will love her just as much as I did and always will. Good night sweet lady!

from Peggy:
Inga's joie de vivre will be sorely missed. We spent many happy summers at the beach; being near the ocean was a key source of revitalization. Her love and critical passion for music was like that of a mother and child: beloved but could always do better. Inga's optimism brightened everyone's day. She is sorely missed and will always be in our hearts.

from Volker:
Dear Inga,  It has been about 15 years, since Michael introduced us at one of those famous Oktoberfests. It was amazing how well as a team we worked, maybe because we share the same birthday, we mostly knew what the other thought.

It is amazing to know how many people you touched in your lifetime, how many people will remember you, and how many think of you every day. I don’t know how many of us understand that you are really gone, I sure don’t.

There is so much to talk about your life, the relative short time I was part of. The things you couldn't stand (lying) and the things u absolutely couldn't be without (music, culture)

If I ever make it up there, you will be the first I look up.

from Viktoria:
Have been working with Inga at same company, but at Hamburg office. Spoke with her last years nearly every working day. Found in a her very good friend and in addition a special colleque with big know how. Met her 2 times, when she visited our office in Germany. It´s terrible that she have to leave us so early, I will never forget her! GOTT SCHÜTZE DICH, INGA!

from Annette:
I got to know Inga about 4 1/2 years ago when I came to this country being barely 21 years old. For me "The rookie" she had a lot of advise, warm words and a always big wide open heart. I have admired her professional work attitude and her continuous devotion to the job. Inga: you will be missed. Rest in peace.

from Gabi and Michael":
My husband and I got to know Inga through my sister Annette. Inga was an extraordinary person with a big, warm heart. We enjoyed spending time with her ! We both miss her and will never forget her !

from Jackie:
I have fond memories of the many weekends, of the travels, and holidays we had together some thirty years ago, long before we both got married..., and divorced. Our paths diverged a bit, but I am so glad we had a chance to chat over the phone last this past July. But you had many friends as you deserved. I am so sorry we lost you.

from MaryAnn:
Inga, It's hard to believe a year has already passed since that horrible day. I stood on my train platform this Sept 11, 2002,thinking of how one year ago I stood in the exact spot thinking of what a beautiful day it was, how wonderful the skyline looked and how all that changed a short time later.

I can't help but stand in that same spot day after day still trying to accept & understand all that has happened and wishing it never did. Wishing everything was still the same and we were working together once again.Unfortunately that will never be.

One thing, of many, that I learned from you, is that you have to enjoy life. You definitely did. You were one smart, energetic lady that had a zest for life, music & culture. I remember fondly listening to you come into work and speak of a play or concert that you went to the night before. I miss that a lot. You have touched many lives in many different ways.

You will always be in my prayers.

from Arlene:
I can't believe it's been a year already since you left us. I remember calling your house on the 11th every half hour hoping you pick up your phone. I must of left a dozen of messages on your machine. But you never called me back!! Oh how I prayed you called me back! I'm sorry it took me a year to write something but every time I try I start to cry and I can't write anything. But today I still cry but I'm going to write anyway! You were one strong lady Inga and I miss you!!

inge grave
                         photo credit:

                  Rest in Peace Ingeborg

10 September 2009

Looking at the sky on Friday ~ Nine Eleven (14)

Usually on Friday I participate in Tisha’s photography meme, “Looking at the sky on Friday” by posting a photo I have taken.  This Friday…being 11 September, I am thinking of what it must have been like to look up at the sky as our nation, and our way of life, was under attack.  Or to be looking out of a window at the top of The World Trade Center, with the building burning up towards you.

If you have an hour or so, I suggest taking the time to watch this powerful film “The Falling Man” which documents the search for the identity of one of the victims of The World Trade Center attack.  Although it was not who they initially thought it was, the painful process eventually did bring closure for more than one family.  Several times I found myself reaching out to touch the screen while I watched it.

In the movie one of the researchers speaks of the reasons to look at these images…accept the witness of these images…and to discuss them.  The sister of the man who is believed to be the “Falling Man” speaks to not only finding out who he is…but who we are as well.

You can find the youtube link by clicking here.

08 September 2009

spy deployment

yank three aThat’s The Teamster there, with his two offspring…SPY and MHY…taken up near Boise where SPY, (the one on the left) is stationed with The United States AirForce.

SPY deploys today for Afghanistan.

I imagine this is one of those asphyxiating phases of parenthood,,,a combination of breathtaking pride and breathholding concern.

If you’re so inclined…when you hit your knees, toss up a prayer for SPY and for his Dad….I’ll be including his picture on my side bar until he comes home.

03 September 2009

Looking at the sky on Friday ~ Yosemite Fire (13)

Last weekend, we took a little motorcycle ride up Sonora Pass staying in Lee Vining and back down Tioga Pass skirting the edge of Yosemite National Park.  We were unable to visit the Valley without a significant detour, due to the fire.  Yosemite is my emotional mecca. I hate to see it burn.

LATSOF yosemite fire                                    (click to bigify) 

Sometimes it seems as if the entire state of California is aflame.  We’re going to have a long autumn with everything so dry.

Treat yourself to other sky photos this Friday…. visit Tisha the Sky Hostess by clicking on her logo.


20 August 2009

Looking at the sky on Friday ~ The Boardwalk (12)

LATSF boardwalk (click to enlarge)

click to go visit Tisha and all the other Sky Lookers

14 August 2009

Looking at the Sky on Friday ~ fire (11)


There are some great offerings over at our gracious hostess’s site…Crazy Working Mom
 2009.08.14 post2
Just above the marine layer the smoke from the fire hangs over the Monterey Bay.  

2009.08.14 post1
From the University of California (UCSC) campus where I use to work, I can see where my neighborhood is located.  It became pretty smoky this afternoon.  The white building is Holy Cross Church…a place I am sure Linda remembers visiting. (Santa Cruz means Holy Cross) Most days from this standpoint you can see the town and the bay curving south around to the city of Monterey.

These next two are from Natural Bridges State Beach.  I did not alter them in any way…the sun setting through the smoke provides the almost sepia effect. 

2009.08.14 post3     
 2009.08.14 post4  
Last and most important, I want to thank you for the emails checking on me and my family. Apparently the Santa Cruz fire made the network morning shows, as well as CNN and Fox.  Most of us live in town…and the Bonny Doon area is north of us by about ten miles. I know quite a few families who are under mandatory evacuation…it is frightening to wait helpless hoping your home and possessions will survive a fire of this magnitude.  Once again our community is thankful to CalFire for their skill and dedication.

07 August 2009

survival of the fittest

I know this seems kinda random,
and rather repetitive.
but I wonder what you think.

(note:  for the record, I am NOT talking about those who are mentally or physically challenged. I am talking about well bodied people with the standard ranges of intelligence.)

Does everyone “deserve” to have
what the hard working or specially talented have?

Is it the right of the ordinary person
to limit the extraordinary person?

No matter who you are…you who are reading this….There are people you come across or read about who are without adequate food, clothing and shelter. 

Should our government force you to give up some of what you have…leaving you and yours  with not quite enough because someone else had none?

While I believe the “haves” should share with the “have-nots” should it be required by law or should it be voluntary?  Should it be strongly encouraged…and if you don’t comply do you think you ought to be penalized?

If you have a special talent, which a company or other entity (team, studio, et cetera) wants to make use of, should you be limited on how much money they pay you because someone else doesn't have that valued talent?  

If you can’t carry a tune and want to be a recording star, should the music industry be forced to give you a record contract equal to that of U2 or Elvis or Michael Jackson or The Beatles?  Or should these performers not be allowed to be paid so much?  Should the radio stations be forced to play recordings of people who can’t sing?  Should everyone be required to buy ITunes of same?

If you have a really high intelligent quotient should you only be allowed to hold the same occupation as a person who has a much lower intelligent quotient?  Should every one (who wants to)  be allowed to be a neurosurgeon or a rocket scientist…even if they don’t have the brain ability to grasp the knowledge? 

If you work really hard, should you make more money than someone who is a lazy bum on the job?  If you work three jobs and save every cent for what you want, should you have to share it with those who choose not to hold down a job?  Should everyone be paid the same wage no matter what their occupation or work ethic?

If you have the next “light bulb” moment and invent a really cool thing, should you have to share the revenue with the guy who tried really hard but didn’t have any good ideas?  Should you have to share the revenue with the guy who spends all day everyday at the park getting high?

If you write the greatest American novel of all time, should everyone (who wants to) be able to sell your words and profit from them? 

If you work really hard, or have a special ability, or are smarter than the average bear…should you benefit financially from these situations?   Or should you not be allowed to have more than the person who wasn’t gifted in the gene pool or who won’t work as hard as you do?  Should there be a limit on how much you can earn before you have to start sharing the benefit of your labor? 

If you do get to benefit financially from your work and your abilities, should you be allowed to decide how you spend those finances?  Or should you only be allowed to spend your money on the same things as those who don’t have so much money? 

When you do end up with more money than someone else, should you be allowed to spend it on a really nice home in a very beautiful location?  Even if someone who doesn’t have as much money has to rent a shabby house in a not so nice neighborhood?  Should you have to give up your new beautiful home to buy several substandard homes for you and for strangers who live on the street?

Should you be allowed to buy more expensive clothing? Warmer clothing. Cooler clothing…in both senses of the word.  Or should everyone wear exactly the same thing?  Should those who have more clothes be required by law to give up some of their clothes to those who don’t have enough? 

Should you be allowed to buy more expensive or more nutritional food?  Better tasting food?  Or should you have to eat what everyone else is eating?  Do the people who eat junk food have to be forced to eat healthy?  Do those who eat only organic have to consume processed foods? If you have more than enough food, should you be required by law to give it to someone who does not…even if it leaves your family hungry on occasion?

There are many other items…but those are the basics right? 
Food, clothing and shelter?

I ask again…

Is it the right of the ordinary person
to limit the extraordinary person?

Does everyone "deserve" to have
what the hard working or specially talented have?

and…what about Health Care?

23 July 2009

I stand corrected….FaceBook is my Friend

I have been a cynical, often disparaging, totally reluctant participant of FaceBook.

I have tried in my life to reserve the word “Friend” for those with whom I have a special relationship. I have not granted that title to just anyone.

And now…the word “Friend” has become a verb. 

“So-n-so” has Friend-ed you.

When I have been compelled to find someone I actually wanted to connect with…FaceBook informs me:

“So-n-so will have to confirm you are Friends” 

I hate that tone they take with me.
I just want to flip them off. 

Until this week FaceBook has mostly been a venue to keep in contact with my cousins and their children scattered through a couple dozen states.

My kids are all on FaceBook. 

Although Little Missy has been convinced by her novio to discontinue and delete the large majority of hers. 

The Cub and his friends post blurbs about beach and beer and babes I would rather not know about. 

If an investment banking player takes three dozen photos at some soiree in The City and SugarCookie gets tagged on a single photo…even though the player isn’t my “Friend” Facebook or otherwise, I have access to view the entire online album.

(yeah yeah…I know I don’t have to look…but I’m a Mom…I HAVE to look…ya know???)

Some of you all have Friend-ed me…which is cool as long as you don’t get upset when I don’t hunt eggs, send drinks or get in food fights with you.

I been Friend-ed by someone I attended High School with and do not remember or recognize.

I have been “Friend-ed” by my lover’s mother. 
For whom I try and behave…although I suspect she reads this weblog so that ship has sailed. smile

I have been “friend-ed” by the college roommates of HIS exwife.  Although I sincerely doubt either of his exwives will sign up to be my “Friend”…
Facebook or otherwise.

I am friends of my kids’ friends who range in age from almost 20 to almost 30 years old….so I am privy to their lives and loves…
I know way too much.

FaceBook suggests “Friends” which has been annoying and invasive and cumbersome.

And then…a suggested FaceBook “Friend” turned out to be the brother of a long ago time very best friend in my life.  An email later…and her 16 year old daughter “Friend-ed” me on FaceBook.  As a high school girl she has been disturbed by the fact her mother is no longer connected to her high school friends.

And although they live a thousand miles away…it turned out her band was going to be in town this week.  And that five of her ten siblings live here in Santa Cruz.  One right down the street.

and so… thanks to FaceBook…we get to be Friends once again. 

mary post
(however…don’t be thinkin’ this means I’m gonna be playing Mafia Wars….laughing….)