For Father’s Day

My dad was fifty when I was born. I was the lucky recipient of an adoring father who never wavered in his constant love and attention.  I know I am very fortunate to have had that kind of dad; one who treated me with kindness, respect, and as though I was someone special. I have known many people who did not have the benefit of a decent and solid father and several have told me what a profound effect that lack has had in their lives.  They have suffered in ways that I can’t even fathom and I have come to recognize what heft the simple gift of love carries throughout life.  My dad certainly had his share of flaws like we all do, but when it came to loving me, he was about as close to perfect as a man can be. Nothing flashy or showy.  Just pure and constant like water flowing from a natural spring.

When I think of my dad these days, I think about his cowboy hat, his boots, his old pickup truck and his penchant for waxing poetic about the beauty of the alfalfa growing in the fields.  He loved North Central Texas and the people who lived there.  I never once had the feeling that he wished he lived anywhere else.  He was home there, settled and happy, and valued his close relationships with his family as well as lifelong friends. When we went out to feed the cows in the pasture, I sensed that he loved those cows and calves, appreciated the beauty of nature and was at peace in his world. He wasn’t always at peace with my mother, but that is another story.

I’m sorry my dad is not around to enjoy his grandchildren and great-grandchildren.  He would have loved every one of them just as he loved me, and their lives would be richer just from knowing him.  Alas, his memory is alive and well and I do my best to offer that same level of constancy to my own children.  Love does indeed beget love.

Happy Father’s Day, Daddy.



Last night: Thai Takeout and Fun

I wrote 90% of this last night but literally fell asleep with the computer in my lap.  Thought I would get it out early today to count for my 20 minutes of writing yesterday! 

I have just returned from visiting Sarah, Gregorio and the kids.  Ray is up in Ojai with Liz,  and Rachael and Ariel are in Las Vegas.  I think Ron elected to bach it tonight in town versus making the trek to Ojai.  I was in Ojai earlier today – spent the night there last night at the orange grove – but came home early because I had a student this afternoon. Also, I had plans to see my former writing student, Fong, and his girlfriend Kelly before Fong heads off to medical school at Miami International University.  As it turns out, Sarah requested a visit tonight since Gregorio was going to play soccer and Fong and Kelly live nearer to Sarah than to me. Sarah suggested we all come over for Thai takeout, which we did.  Sarah and Fong have a connection because she was available for advice while we were putting together his essays and applications for medical school.

We had a lovely evening together. Nico and Luna provided endless entertainment, just being the cute and nice kids they are.  Fong and Kelly were so sweet with them, playing with them and helping with rescue efforts for Nico over and over as he climbed up on a chair or the couch or a table and needed help getting back down.  (He, at 17 months, is a constant motion machine.)  Luna regaled us with stories of the hike she and Nico went on earlier in the day with Mommy and Daddy (Sarah has a couple of days off before starting her last week of her final 14-hour-a-day hell rotation).  Luna was especially enthralled with the stream they found while hiking that allowed for lots of splashing and having fun and there were NO EELS!  Not sure where that concern came from, but she was pleased.

I am so happy that last minute connection worked for everyone.  I had a chance to see my beloved daughter for a few hours (and see her graduation outfit for her official end of residency next week), see the grandkids (and a brief but sweet visit with Gregorio, pre-soccer game) and also have a good time with Fong and Kelly before Fong heads out to Florida for his own medical school adventure.

Thank you, Sarah, for the idea and for hosting!

Life is very good.

pad thai





The Agony and Ecstasy of the DMV

I have been to the DMV two days this week and, just in case you didn’t already know it, this is not a place to put on your “Must See” list of happy spots in our beloved Southern California. In fact, today, I sat among the huddled masses quietly waiting for the recorded voice to announce, “B0066” when  I heard a distraught female voice start to plead. “No, please.  That lady at the front desk told me to sign it like that.”  This was followed by some quiet murmuring from a woman sitting behind Desk 20, which evoked the response.  “No, really, I mean, she really did say sign on that line, not on the other.” Before it was over, that same young female was stomping through the sitting area, cursing loudly as she headed out the door. “You have got to be f–king kidding me.  This is bullsh-t!”

I was hoping two things at that time: 1) Please, God, don’t give me the lady behind Desk 20, and 2) Please help me control myself if I get a similar bureaucratic response. You see, the reason I was there today as well as two days prior is because my lady behind Desk 8 at the Culver City DMV had sent me away because the Vin Verifier had put remarks on the Remarks line, but had not check-marked the square right above that stated, “Remarks.”  Now if you’re wondering why I didn’t just disappear and pull out my pen to add that checkmark, I would have to say that she had also disapproved of his wording on the remarks that were not supposed to be on the Remark line.  Alas, I was doomed to return with a corrected version, hence my trip back today.

Today, I went to the Santa Monica DMV, hoping I wouldn’t get the same picky woman, though I had new documents from the Vin Verifier that supposedly were exactly right.  However, I had noted already that he hadn’t check marked the Remarks box again, and I was contemplating going to buy a heavy black felt pen like he had used.  But, instead, I decided to take my chances.

You can see why I might have been a bit nervous.  These DMV folks have a huge amount of power to wield over matters that can seriously take up LOTS of time in your day.

When my number was finally called, my first wish was granted.  I didn’t get the woman at Desk 20, but rather another woman at Desk 17.  When she asked why I was there, I whipped out all my new Vin Verifier documents plus all the other forms that I had spent all morning meticulously filling out, and said, “Yes, well, I have a couple of vintage trailers to register.”  She looked over my paperwork, didn’t seem to hang up on the unchecked box for Remarks and said, “Well, you’ll need to fill out one more piece of paperwork and you’ll be set.”  I stood very quietly and thought, “Oh, no.  This is what will do it. I’ll be back probably tomorrow, the next day and the day after getting that piece of the paperwork right.”  But instead, it was just a handwritten statement that said that there were no liens and that what I had said to her was all true.  I wrote all that out and then watched her methodically input the information into her computer. I tried to act normal, but my heart was doing a little happy dance.  In less that fifteen minutes, she handed me plates and all my paperwork and smiled.  “There you go.”

I thank her profusely, told her that she had made my day, then forced myself not to skip out of the DMV.

The good news: these vintage trailers now have the proper paperwork.  The better news: I do not have to return to the DMV anytime in the near future.

Thank you, nice DMV lady.  You made my day, my week and quite possibly this entire upcoming year.







Ojai Day

Sorry I have been out of touch. The truth is our grandbabies spent Monday night with us, which resulted in Nico and me turning in around 8 pm.  I didn’t even consider getting back up.  Then yesterday, Ray and I drove to Ojai to our orange grove.  I am not quite sure why I was so worn out, but I fell asleep with my clothes on at 7 pm and only woke up once during the night long enough to change into my pjs and go straight back to bed.  Clearly, I needed sleep.

Today, we spent part of the day creating this lovely space where Sarah and Gregorio will be putting their pop-up trailer.  We have been discussing with them the need to have a little yard where the kids can play.  Here is the result.  Ray finally has a place to display some of his toys.


After so much walking today just around the orange grove, I am ready for bed.

I’ll write again tomorrow.  Sleep well.

Rose Bowl Flea Market Today in Pasadena

Ray and I got up in the wee hours of the morning today and headed over to the Rose Bowl flea market.  it was so early, in fact, that this post will be very short so I can go to bed very shortly.

Much to our delight, daughter Liz brought Luna and Nico for a rendezvous there with us. I had the chance to not only get in a good visit with Liz, but also play with Luna and Nico.

Here are a few photos of the day.

I’ll be checking in tomorrow after a good night’s sleep.





St. Thomas’s “Breakfast Club” Today

This morning, Ray and I were up early, heading to the St. Thomas Breakfast Club, which is our homeless breakfast program.  We knew that several of our regular volunteers wouldn’t be there today because of vacations, but we didn’t quite expect that only two people would be there at 6:15 am, Deacon Johnson and one volunteer, Nora.  Usually at 7 am, more volunteers come.  Ellen arrived around 7:15 for kitchen help; two arrived to set up out front.  That left Nora, Ellen and me to cook for our Breakfast Club guests.  (Deacon and Ray have other duties to attend to every week related to making sure everything runs smoothly out front.)

We soon realized we didn’t have potatoes for our usual homemade sliced potatoes with cheese on top; so, we decided to make macaroni and cheese instead.  Who doesn’t like mac and cheese at any hour of the day or night?  We also scrambled up a bunch of eggs, heated up corned beef hash, made homemade pancakes and opened several big cans of peaches.  The result?  What several of our guests described as one of the tastiest breakfasts ever.

Luckily, a few more volunteers arrived just in time for clean up.  This couldn’t have been more perfect timing.

Of course, we prefer plenty of volunteers so all the work is spread out among many, but our little kitchen crew was pretty proud of the spread we put out considering there were only three of us.

I was too busy to take pictures this morning.  Instead, I’ll just put up a few from past Breakfast Clubs.  That will at least give a clear picture of our mission to provide a hot meal twice a month to those in need in West Hollywood and Hollywood.

I’ll check back in tomorrow.

Have a good night.

As You Can See, Usually We Have LOTS of volunteers!



Today, I worked on eBay all morning and handled several business details that needed handling.  I also cooked up a batch of cornbread and blackeyed peas, which we had for lunch along with a stew that Rachael brought over.  This afternoon, I had students for almost 4 hours.  Tonight, I have edited one online student’s weekly submission for our online class, but must wait to edit more because I’m a little too tired.  In just a few minutes, I’m calling it a day and heading upstairs.

Oh, I guess I still need to walk the dogs…

I have had a good day.  My interactions with my students were all positive, Rachael and Ray were happy, and I got a lot done on eBay posting.  Plus, lunch was tasty.

That’s just fine.

Now, I’ll officially say good night.  I need to go get the dogs’ leashes and head outside.

I will check back in tomorrow.



Flash Fiction, Memoir and Essay

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