February 26, 2016

R.I. P. Friend

When I was in high school and the early years after graduation our family had a great friend.

He was in the same year of school as my brother and very involved in Drama classes and theater with the rest of us. He was a talented actor and comedian.

He was ridiculously funny. If he was around there was a good chance you would be wetting your pants from laughing until you couldn't breathe and the tears rolled down your face. Yet, he was a good listener, shared his feelings and was a good friend.

Our family rented a cabin in South Lake Tahoe every summer and each of us kids would take a friend. The week that Jeff Risk came with us has faded a little in my memories. My husband had just flown out to his tour in Japan and our son was 3 months old.  My hands were probably pretty full while we were at the cabin but I can tell you that I have never, ever enjoyed a drive up Highway 50 as much as I did the Friday night we headed to Tahoe.

My brother was driving, Jeff sat in front with him. I sat in back with baby J.  Jeff was wearing a pair of white linen pants and, instead of a belt, he was using a long length of hemp rope. He repeatedly tried to talk my brother into pulling over and smoking the rope...just to see how Hemp it really was! "Pulling over" on Hwy 50 in those days pretty much meant flying, and it was a long way down.

If you haven't been on Highway 50 headed east from Riverton, CA to Lake Tahoe you have missed one of the real-life Whip-dee-doos! There are more hairpin turns in that stretch of road than the climb up Pikes Peak in Colorado.  My brother kept his hands on the steering wheel, so Jeff took over control of the radio. We listened to Chinese music all the way up the pass and back down. Jeff accompanied the singers, sometimes singing in remarkable synchronicity with the artist but more often making up his own lyrics.

It soon begin to be an early '70's version of Asian Rap. We all took part in making up lyrics, making fun of each other, teachers at the school, the road...all was fair game.

My stomach ached when we pulled up to the cabin. That ride was truly the most memorable and fun drive ever.

Jeff, I know it's been years since I've seen you. I'm thankful that my brother kept up with you over the years. You were a joy to be with, not just funny but you were a caring, loving friend. I'm sure you continued to touch lives wherever you traveled.

I'm glad I knew you and that you were once a part of my life.

Rest In Peace.

February 23, 2016

It's Okay Tuesday

Airing My Laundry, I know you've read about this great little blog! Well, she just reminded us that It's Okay Tuesday, the opportunity to list the items of the day (week, month or year) that it's okay to be okay with.

1. It's okay that I'm having a hard time whittling down the guilt and shame list to a it's okay list!

2. It's okay that I'm blogging instead of hanging up the laundry on my bed.

3. It's okay that my mom's health is scaring the hell out of me and I don't know what to do to help.

4.  It's okay that I rented a one bedroom cabin for our family reunion this summer, not one of the 2, 3 or 4 bedroom cabins that everyone else is renting because.....

5. It's okay that I want to be alone with my husband at night.

6.  It's okay that I skipped juicing this morning because, well, because!

7.  It's okay that I taught my 20 month old great-granddaughter to dust the furniture. She was doing it anyway but now it's with a dust cloth and not sweet potatoes.

8.  It's okay that I don't answer the door when someone uses the doorbell.

9. It's okay when I watch Supernatural with my granddaughter and make fun of Sammy.

10.  It's okay that I'm going to be okay with all of this tomorrow even though it's Wednesday and not It's Okay Tuesday...well, except for the laundry part. I will hang up the laundry. I will hang up the laundry. I will hang up the laundry. I will hang up the laundry. I will hang up the laundry.

February 15, 2016

A Question

Okay, I may be over-dosed on cough drops and saline washes but something is kind of bugging me.

I'm not sure if it's a mood thing, a blah-induced kind of thinking or a real issue. Maybe you can help.

I've spent three days sucking up movies and television and there is one commercial that has got my jaw a little tight.

The lack of nominations of actors-of-color is a big deal in the media of late. We have cops vs minority stuff going on, some of it real and some of it hyped. (Yay for the legal action being taken against law enforcement in Ferguson).

There is a whole bunch of "those-guys versus us-guys" going on in the Republican debates, the media, blogs, and Hollywood.

The ad that is bugging me is a commercial for a program called the Essence Black Women in Hollywood Awards.

Now pull your bundled undies out of your butt, I don't mean this in a prejudiced way. I am a Latino woman with Native American blood.. I clearly don't see Latinos, Native Americans, or for that matter, Women, represented proportionately. I also see the portrayal of minorities in pretty stereotypical light on a regular basis.

It's not fair! I don't think that the constitution listed 'Fair' as an unalienable right. My dad told me the world isn't fair when I was 3, as your fathers' probably informed you. It is getting better but it still ain't-fair!

My father also taught me that if you don't like the game being played down the street, stop going down the street! Stop attending the Academy Awards show, stop telling the media 'who' you are wearing. If you want to be taken serious as an actor, then when asked who you are wearing, walk away. Answer only the important questions.

I don't understand, why on a network, owned by a woman; in a show produced by a woman; in a show hosted by a woman for women; why isn't this a program called Women in Hollywood Awards? Or maybe, Women of the World Awards  or even Women Awards. Hell, I'd settle for Feathers-In-Caps for Females or Girls' Gone Gold!

Why do we have to divide everything up?  Why are there Latin music awards? Why are there BET Awards?

If we are tired of the division, why do we continue to emphasize the division?

Can anyone help me understand? 

Knocked Down

Dang, this cold was a good one. 8 point on the Richter Scale. Knocked me down.

There is a really good side to taking the ten-count. Bed (and I love mine), hot showers every couple of hours and more bed. Couldn't read (sinus headache makes words dance on page, which sucks), but I could watch all my old favorite movies without worrying about falling asleep and missing something 'cuz' I already done-seen-it! Plus I actually watched a couple of Dr. Phil shows until the overwhelming desire to slap people made me flip Apple TV back on.

Wearing pajamas all day or not, because I'm in bed. Cough drops. Hot tea. Hot soup.

For Valentine's Day I got breakfast in bed AND dinner in bed.

Yup, there's always a good side to being knocked down.

Thanks for all the good wishes....doing better! If it wasn't for a business meeting this morning at 8:30, I'd be milking one more day out of this cold....though, a nap this afternoon is very probable.

February 12, 2016

Who Knew?

Hugging and soothing our sick baby.

Sharing kisses and rocking her to sleep.

Sing to her and cuddling.

Who knew I would be sicker than a dog today?

Where is my Vicks? My cough drops?

Can someone bring me a hot cup of tea...and as long as you're here, can you change the baby's diaper and get her some lunch?

Woe is me! Did anyone get the license of that truck?

February 11, 2016

Role Models

As a kid, we all have an aunt or an uncle or some big kid down the road, who is a bit of a role model for us.

"When I grow up, I want to be just like her!"  Hell, that still crosses my mind now and then because, in my own mind, I am not a grown-up yet!

Do you remember your childhood heroes? Those people that inspired you to set goals or to wing it?

When I was pretty young, I remember my dad standing in fields, at the side of roads, at the bottom of mountains, with his new camera. He took some photos that still astound me with their beauty of the Colorado Rockies, but also of photos that captured personalities and special moments.

My dad always made me feel safe, too. At 87 years old he still is one of my role models.

Miss Machado, a sixth grade teacher, who became Mrs. Cooper before the year was over was another of those adults that showed a true interest in her students. She listened. She didn't pretend to listen, she looked you in the eye, put down what she was doing and engaged. I wanted to be just like her.

Mrs. Gardner, my first boyfriend's mother, showed me what kind of a mother I wanted to be. She had eight children and her house was filled with chaos but a loving, nurturing chaos that I could thrive on. Her children could also talk to her about anything....anything! Whoa, what a concept!

Then John Robert Hall came into my life. He was a high school English and Drama teacher. Talk about a teacher that could restore clipped wings! I don't know anyone who wasn't deeply moved, inspired, freed to be themselves by this man. I don't know anyone who didn't love him with all their heart, even to this day.

I've also had bosses who have modeled that kind of leader that I would never, ever be, even if my life depended on it. (Dear Lord, this is not a prayer or challenge...merely a statement).

Oh, there was also Pam. She was my age. She was fearless. She was genuine. She was petite and had huge boobs and hair that could win pageants. She was my best friend. I was fearless when I was with her. I was also the tallest girl at school, needed falsies to break even. We made a good pair. She lives across the country now and teaches Women's Studies at an east coast university. Man, I miss her.

Did you have people who inspired you? What did they instill in you? What did they inspire?

February 09, 2016

Goal: GET not BE

Our culture instills the urge, the goal, the need to GET stuff. Any stuff, just a lot of it. Got your $489 smart phone last year....dump it, because this year's phone is sooooo much better, oh, and a bunch of the really cool apps are only available for the upgraded phone....same game they played with computers and tablets and Ipads.
Courtesy of Science Blogs.com

Dump that two year old car, get this new one. It has heated seats and it can save your kids' lives while they are texting with it's new something-too-close detection system.

We have the message to consume shoved down our throats from the minute you are big enough to sit and watch Nick Jr or Disney Jr. Be the first, get this, BOGO, SALE, SALE, "Because you're worth it," "Betch' can't eat just one," "There are some things money can't buy. For everything else, there's MasterCard."

With half the world watching Superbowl for it's super duper commercials as well as big men knocking other big men down, we have the Rocket Mortgage message. Get this App and get your mortgage online and when you get a house, get, get, get. Lamps, sofas, get, get, get and then get some more!

Our message to the kids, young adults and those that don't know better is to Get the most you can because your stuff defines you.

What happened to the message, "Be all that you can be?" Not army style, but personal style? What  about character, about personal values?

What really counts? Those two pairs of shoes for the price of one or trustworthiness? Courage, Fairness, Loyalty, Respect, Compassion, Accountability, Responsibility, Self-Control, Self-Discipline?

What do you look for in a friend or a mate? Was it his car with warm seats or his work ethic?  Was it her closet full of shoes and uber fantastic laptop or that you could really count on her to try to understand?

Do you want your friend to have one of "those" addresses or one of "those" hearts?

February 06, 2016

An Adventure On The Horizon

The sun is shining today.  It is actually 65 degrees. Took Rex for a ride and a walk. Cleaned house and find myself still full of energy.  Incredible how a little sunshine and warmth can inspire the spirit.

Spring is around the corner. Hopefully not too close because we are still in a drought and can use lots and lots and lots more rain.

Spring will get here though, followed closely by summer!

The women in our book club have a great adventure planned for summer...early summer. One of the ladies has never camped....ever. It's very hard to believe that a woman, born and raised in California and who raised two kids in California has never gone tent camping.

Two of the women have never been to the Grand Canyon in Arizona. What?  A mere six and a half hour drive from where D lived almost all of her life and she never got there!  Not acceptable! J, on the other hand, grew up in the east end of the mid-west. Acceptable excuse for not getting to the Grand Canyon but a little iffy on excuse for missing Yosemite!

We are taking D camping, making sure D and J get to the Grand Canyon and, on the return trip, making sure J gets to Yosemite! We'll have to think of a 'first time' event for me but you can bet your tush it won't include hiking the trail on the steep sides of the canyon. 

I can smell the campfire. I can taste the first cup of hot coffee laced with a bit of Bailey's in the morning. There is nothing better than waking up in the mountains and smelling camp smoke on your clothes and in your hair.

Maybe we'll take an empty journal and write about conversations, observations, and impromptu detours. Maybe we won't. Maybe we'll share stories of old road trips. Maybe we won't. We WILL get to the Grand Canyon and we WILL make sure that D wants to camp again and again. 

All I know is that my tent, sleeping bag, lantern and Coleman stove are ready and waiting.

I'll have extra batteries for my camera and make sure the tripod is in good shape so we can get pictures of all four of us!

We are currently reading an Eckart Tolle book and practicing living in the NOW on the New Earth but every now and then, I cheat a little and dream about our trip!

Is it really cheating though, if I am enjoying every little nuance of the dream? 

Okay, back to the NOW. Going to wash the kitchen floor and think about raking the ground before I pitch the tent....can you smell the pine?

Kumbaya, ya'll!

February 04, 2016

Plowing Through

Great blog that I've recently discovered, Plowing Through Life,  is written by Martha.

I just found out that her house is up for sale. Wondering why she is selling, where she is going, what she and her 'most amazing man in the world' are going to do, made me wonder about the rest of us.

Say you were given one period of time (your call) to move somewhere, live in whatever, be whatever and do whatever, what would you choose?

The veins in my head are throbbing because there are so many choices, so many scenarios. So, because it's my game, I get to make a couple of rules.
1.  You have to have the same body you have today....though you can make changes over the time, i.e. lose weight, have a nose job or get bigger boobs...liposuction if you want.
2.  If you are going to a foreign land, let's assume you speak the language (especially if you are going as a CIA spy disguised as the neighborhood librarian).
3.  Hmm, enough rules....let's play!

I would live at the end of this road in West Virginia:
Photo Courtesy of Visit South

My little farm would be in the valley but my little drive way would be just a little longer:

Photo Courtesy of DesignM.Ag

 My garden would be totally organic and weed free (c'mon, this is a fantasy, let me have it weed-free)

Photo Courtesy of Country Living

Now I did say we had to keep our own body, so we're going to have to imagine olive skin, slightly whiter hair, and yes, a little more fluffy (the body, not the hair)! "Larger breasts on the perky side," she said, humbly! p.s. Imagination or not, I would not wear a white top to work in the garden unless it was for a photo-op with Country Living Magazine!

I would have a wonderful art studio, in which I would spend hours and hours of each day with clay, with paint, with stucco and gesso and a fully functional high speed PC to write books and stories to my heart's content:

Photo Courtesy of Picket Fence Art Studio

Each day there would also be time for working in the garden and stalking beautiful views to photograph:

Photo Courtesy....oh, that's mine!

Frank would be retired, so we would have plenty of time to plant, snap shots, read and, uh, some other stuff.

Did I mention that there is a wonderful library in the house, horses in the pasture (of which I would actually ride) and a huge stack of firewood that magically keeps re-stocking itself.

I think I could take about 20 or 30 years of that kind of living.

What would you do? Do you want more action? Want to be a superhero with special powers?

Ta Da!

I did it! I got the Christmas decorations down before Valentines Day!

Don't ask about the large containers sitting on the dining room table, "Nothing to see here, move on!"

Christmas lights are still on the house gutters. Frank's job, since I am deathly afraid of heights but I did get the yard lights pulled up. Frank is back to 10 hour days, six days a week at work, so lights might be up until Easter or, I just might try to conquer my fear cowardly-ways, pull out the 14 foot ladder and have a go at it myself. (Been nice knowing you all if I tumble off.)

Sun is shining today....for the moment. May have to take my granddaughter out for a walk after we record a couple of songs on some new App she discovered yesterday. We are going to lip-sink some tunes and try to be funny yet cool. Being cool? It might be easier for me to climb the ladder! She knows the lyrics to every single song and I know the last word of every other sentence in a third of the songs. Yup, I am definitely Cool-challenged.

So, Thursday's chores. Laundry, ran out of jeans and it's way too cold for capris and way way to embarrassing for 15 year old granddaughter too be seen with Nana in baggy sweats! Too bad Manhattan  Bagel doesn't have a drive thru....damn them!

Okay, laundry, lip-sink, Dutch Bros (coffee/me, strawberry-vanilla Rebel/her), bagels, and then maybe a walk. Hmm, maybe a walk tomorrow and Netflix marathon today.

I feel a conference coming on!

February 01, 2016

Married to the Mister

Everyone knows my husband; everyone. He has run the only camera store in town for over 28 years. He is on commercials, teaches photo classes, does photo walks, and does what seems like a million presentations to most of the clubs in town. He also volunteers his photography to lots of non-profits and together we photograph a couple of weddings a year. He's also very handsome and that doesn't hurt the popularity one bit!

When we go out to eat, inevitably, someone from another table will come over to us, sit at the table after a curt nod to me, face Frank and say, "Hi Frank, I'm having problems with my new Canon Rebel." or "I couldn't get the exposure right when I shot some pictures of the snow in Lassen. What am I doing wrong."

Bye-bye romantic dinner!

Walking down the Promenade, someone will spot him from across the way and come running. "Frank, I was just going to see you! Can you tell me....."

In the mall, "Hey, Frank...."

At church a tiny woman in her late 80's or early 90's tugged on his sleeve on the way up to communion, "Young man, are you going to be at the store today, I've got some old pictures I need restored!"

Even when I had a knee replacement, the anesthesiologist came in, introduced himself to me, looked up and saw Frank and commenced with a long speech about an idea he had for some photo project.

Eventually, most interruptions end up being a shortened class of Photography 101, so the questioner's significant other gets tired of waiting and will come over.

Then the introductions. "Darling" or "Sweetie" or "Duncan" this is Frank  and this is his wife....uh...." and I fill in the blank with. "I'm Toni! Nice to meet you."

I am always "...and his wife!"  Always.

Sunday I made two presentations at two different churches in the north state. I can't tell you how weird it was (and pleasant) to have the priest introduce us with a "so please welcome Toni and her husband Frank!

So cool to be a real person and not an accessory!

Be Careful

As the old saying goes, "Be careful of what you wish for."

For years and years, I have recited a daily prayer, at all times of day and night.

"May my lips share Your words.
May my hands do Your work.
May my heart share Your love."

It appears someone was listening and now my cup "runneth over"!

I am a cradle Catholic, but like many, my inner anarchist revolted, and I stopped practicing Catholicism in my early 20's for many years. I had my babies baptized but didn't raise them in the faith. I wanted them to know there is something bigger than us, call it God, or Source or All There Is but I wanted them to come to their own conclusions about religion and spirituality, which they all eventually did.

In the meantime, I studied world religions and metaphysics. The more I studied the more I found the  mysticism of Catholicism to ring true. My husband is a true-blue Catholic, lock-stock and barrel. I, on the other hand, am a Catholic with a mission and a big dose of insurgent. As you have probably read in earlier posts, I have some BIG problems with the Bible and what I believe to be a built-in patriarchal bigotry but there is a beauty in the ritual, the mystery and the spirit of my Faith. I also know that it is easier to change something from the inside than from the outside.

A friend approached me several months ago to help him develop a program for Godparents to build and nurture a relationship with their Godchildren. In our faith, we Baptize babies soon after birth. Parents choose a woman and a man to be the Godparents; someone who will help the parents raise the children with a reverence for life and God (I find it difficult to use the word God because there are so many definitions, good and bad, loving and harsh. Just know that I am not talking about a dude with a long beard and white robe, sitting on a throne in the clouds, demanding to be worshiped!). Our research showed that most Godparents last saw their Godchild at the Baptismal font...a little like a newly elected president attending the Inauguration and never showing up at the White House to do what he (or she) was elected to do.

We conducted several surveys, did our research, created a vision and proposal. We have presented it to several priests, a beloved nun and many Catholics and non-Catholics, all with great acceptance.

The program would be focused on Catholic relationships first, just for ease of introduction. We are proposing (eventually) that parents chose a mentor for each child, no matter what the faith, to help celebrate the child, to teach the child about love, about seeking spirituality, and mostly, to help  the child know that they are important and loved.

Children need so much more attention and guidance. Did you know that 47% of babies born today are born to single mothers. Tell me they don't need a little assistance with raising a child. Kids are so disenfranchised, we have teen suicides at incredible rates, substance abuse, homeless youth...and on and on.  Kids need to know that they are important, that they belong and that they are loved.

We launched the program yesterday, after several weeks of crazy-pace research, writing, editing, graphic design and printing. My friend made two presentations after Mass at two churches and I made two presentations at two churches.

As I was pulling my hair out one morning about 3 a.m., making still-more-changes, I begin to think, "Why am I doing this? I am 65. Shouldn't I just be putzing around in the garden and playing Bridge with my days."

 (I mean other than the fact that our two pit bull pups totally destroyed the garden and I don't know how to play Bridge...but bring on the Pinochle and Gin and I am in!)

Then the voice in my head (don't laugh, you know you have one too!) said,
"May my lips share Your words.
May my hands do Your work.
My my heart share Your love."

Dang, foiled again by my own prayers!

So, be careful of what you pray for, you just might get it.