Sunday, January 28, 2018

Hidey Holes

All photos were stolen from GOOGLE Images...just sayin

When I was a kid, there was this wonderful old gnarley pepper tree at the edge of Mr. Cooper's property.  It sat near the dirt road where we lived and, with a 360 view, headed toward the paved road that t-boned our little street.  It was my favorite place to hide when I was an angst-ridden teenager.  Our dog could climb up with me and we would hide behind the branches and leaves, watch the world go by, and write angst-ridden poetry. Unfortunately the road was eventually paved, orange groves and Mr. Cooper's farm torn down, apartments, houses, and condos built.  The tree is gone.  Sad 'cause it was the best.

Kids need hidey holes to get away from adults for a while, to meet with friends and talk about their lives.  Goofy lives.  Serious lives.  Like the tree house in the movie Stand By Me.  So cool to have a place to go with your friends and be the self you want to be in the moment.  Try out new yous.  You a kid.  When I was in high school, my friend Cindy and I would take a drive out to the vineyards in my little yellow '56 VW bug.  Never any traffic, so we would turn the little side windows in toward us and drive throughout the area--up the hills and down the hills--pretending to be a race car.  And talk.  And laugh.  And not talk.  You know, like teenagers can.  

Some kids are not so good at hiding....  Some have created great spaces to be alone....

Today I was driving past a large field that is fenced and a screen over the fence.  Because the wind was blowing, I could see the large property through the broken and torn screens.  And I was thinking what a great place it was to sneak into and find a space for to be alone and talk.  Or not talk.  But a special place for kids to be away from adults.  A safe place for them to just be kids.  Hidey holes.  A place to go when the real world is too much or, maybe, not enough.

A great hiding hole
There is a tree across the street from my house in Portland that has a large skirt that dips to the ground.  I know that coyotes used to sleep there during the day.  But now it is empty and a perfect perfect perfect hiding hole!  There was a little girl--maybe three years old--who would take her daddy over there and peek under the tree every time they took a walk.  If she still lived in the neighborhood and was old enough, I'll bet she would be having tea parties under that tree.

A perfect place to play away from adults
We all need hidey holes from time-to-time.  That's why some people take long hot bathes.  That's why my fella goes into his computer room and kills monsters.  That's why I look for spaces to play with my friends when I'm down south.  I miss my gnarley pepper tree but have a great quilting studio.  I miss my VW bug and Cindy but I have long-time friends and family in Southern California and good friends in Portland and a grandkid and family, all with whom I can play.  

So, yeah, come on over to my hidey hole here in Upland and we can get away from adults for a while and try on new selves.


Wednesday, January 17, 2018

It Makes More Sense at Sixty-Seven

I loved smoking.  Can't say I didn't.  It was such a hippie thing at 16, a cool thing at 20, a relaxing thing at 30.  I enjoyed the way it gave me a moment to think before I spoke.  I liked the relaxing aspect at the end of a task.  I liked the social thing of smoking on campus with other smokers.

I started smoking at 16.  My boyfriend and I had just broken up and I didn't want to be the goody-two-shoes that was my imagined image.  So I stole some gawd-awful thing that my mother was smoking--something with icky mint (still curling up my nose at that while I type that!  LOL).  Then I found some non-filtered thing that I liked using for a while.  Soooo badass.  But I settled on pretty much anything I could get.  In college, I smoked clove cigarettes.  Height of coolness.  Bad lung cough.  Stopped that unless I wanted to smell cloves and look cool.

When I discovered the Internet, I would stay up latelatelate chatting with people all over the world.  Eventually found the channel #41plus (I was, you know, 41) and chatted and hot chatted and traveled and loved and loved and one final time, loved.  Of course, throughout the whole IRC (Internet Relay Chat) adventures, I smoked.  This little clock was always next to my computer monitor when it wasn't traveling with me across the states on my summer treks.  I won it from some banking campaign back in like 1974.  It was bright white and black.  It told me what time it was in Kentucky and then what time in Pittsburgh while I was three hours earlier.  It is now in my window near my sewing machine in the apartment in California.

Notice the color change...  The window sill is white.  The little clock is yellow.  *nodding*  Yeah, yellow from all those years of smoking next to it, traveling with it, it breathing in the second-hand smoke I was breathing out.  Poor lil thang.  Didn't have a chance.

It was in 2001 that I quit.  I was 5o.  Cold turkey from two-three packs of smokes a day.  I didn't quit because I no longer wanted to smoke.  I quit so I would no longer smell like a smoker.  I quit during Spring Break so that I could be okay when classes started in a week.  We put my house on the market that same day.  I thought I was doing pretty well as I went out to look at new houses.

hahahahahahaha *deep breath*  hahahahahahahaha  *wiping my yes*  hahahahahahahaha

I became pretty isolated in my office, eating lunch at the desk, not taking breaks.  Over the next 12 years of teaching, I never did find out what nonsmokers did for breaks.  I just didn't take a break.  I missed the smoking friends and the companionship.  I got a lot of work done!  I became known as the One Who Would Do the Work.  The committee member.  The doer.  The program director.

I always believed I was good at making a reasonable argument.  I could remain pretty cool-headed when in a verbal fight.  That is...until I quit smoking.  Without the barrier of time--inhaling exhaling--that came with smoking, I had no filter to my thoughts.  Non-filtered words.  First things that came into my head spewed out to the world.  Not the height of coolness.  I still haven't learned exactly how to argue without smoking, but I have learned to hold back most the time.

I remember a doctor once said to me when I was in college that smoking was bad for my health.  Sheesh like I didn't know that.  I mean, they had those little warnings on the side of the carton and individual packs.  I could read.  I heard the Surgeon General tell us over and over and over.  They had already taken smoking ads off television.  Cigarette companies had to pay big monies to people.  I looked at him and said, "WHAT??  When did this happen??"  Yes, I could be a snot :)  He didn't continue the subject.  After all, I was strong!  I was invincible!  I was woman!  Oh sorry...different issue.  But disease and death meant very little to me at 28.  

Yesterday I picked up my little clock and studied it.  It was no longer telling correct time.  Probably too much second-hand smoke. It had new batteries; the hands moved around.  It just didn't tell the correct time.  I again noticed the yellow shell and thought about what I didn't think was really true (even with science behind it!) almost 40 years earlier: smoking is bad for your health.  

This little clock says something different to my thinking all those years ago.

Monday, January 15, 2018

And the Little One Rules the Roost

I have an only-pup.  She loves to lap-around and has her specific settle-spots when we are at home in Portland.  We also have a large yellow-mellow kitty who mostly ignores the only-pup but Only-Pup sometimes can't ignore him...he likes to get into her settle-spots on occasion.  Kitty ambles off when Pup makes a stink.  Rarely do they settle together.  And while she thinks she rules the house, Tyler at twice her size, would beg to differ.  It's a near match.

This week I am house/pet sitting for my sister and brother-in-law while they are in Ghana.  Patrick's mother died this past spring and they are there for the memorial ceremony.  Patrick is GA.  So I am tending to Ace, a two-and-a-half year old German Shephard, and Joy, a little nine-month old kitty.  So far it has been an adventure.

Ace and Zoe are pals.  Ace loves my little girl and my little girl tolerates Ace.  There are moments of great play.  When they are in the (fenced) backyard, Ace runs like a wild dog.  He rips across the lawn, up the embankment, around the side of the house and back again.  Speed of light!  Zoe, always the dainty lil thang, makes a half-hearted attempt at running after him.  She usually just runs at him when he runs past.  Ace thinks Zoe is now the fun yard-mate and runs even faster, kneeling down in engagement, bouncing back up.  Yes, he does remind me a bit of Tigger...  

Joy is a loving imp.  She used to follow Ace around and swipe at his tail while he was sleeping.  Ace wasn't really thrilled about that but the two of them live in tolerance.  Joy is used to my great nephews trying to get her for some lovin and pettin.  Joy isn't really thrilled with that either.  Joy knows how to run away!  But Joy looooves my sister, snuggles up to her and gets her head rubbed.  

Joy began her journey with Zoe by chasing her tail, creeping up on her and batting at the white fuzzy tail, sticking out her tongue and running.  Zoe would happily chase her, both laughing the way cats and dogs can do.  Until it no longer became fun for Joy.  Now it is running for dear life from the grrrr-girl.  See, Zoe is used to having me all to herself and here these upstarts want in on the lovin.  She takes it as an upfront to her space, her person.  Her! Person!

Boy howdy.

Bedtime...a time for peace and quiet.  Until Joy wants to snuggle on the king-sized bed.  Grrrrr-girl is off and running.  Of course, she can't get up onto the bed without help. Periodically this event happens.  And after a while I become the grrrr-girl.  And then there's the 5:45 wake up.  Ace is in my face, Zoe is on my back.  Both are telling me, "Hey!  Now's the time!!"  I am definitely the grrr-girl then and make them wait until at least 6:45.  Somehow I am more tired here than at my apartment while south.  *rolling eyes*

Late evenings is the calm time.  Last evening Zoe was on the love seat.  Ace was on the recliner.  Joy was up on her Joy-perch.  All was sweet in the world.

So the adventures continue.  Their favorite time is when I let them outside.  Unfortunately I can't allow Joy outside (and she rrreeeeeeeeaaaaalllllyyyy wants to go) and can't allow Zoe out alone because of coyote danger.  And treat time.  I forget that Ace is a really long dog and he found the bedtime chewies.  Ate a good five of them before I realized he could get them.  *rolling my eyes again*  And the pooh!  Good gawd big dogs pooh a lot!

But overall, we are having a good time.  And Zoe truly does rule the roost.  She keeps Ace in line.  She keeps Joy on her toes.  She gets scolded and is a really good pup for a short while.  Then forgets.

It's a good thing she's cute.

Zoe and Doug: one of her settle-spots

Saturday, January 13, 2018


When I grew up, my folks taught me to be a good person.  I should mind my manners.  I should play fairly and nicely with others.  I should strive to achieve the best I can and allow others to do the same.  I learned the Golden Rule.

I learned to love reading, to appreciate education, and to honor those who could teach me.  Confucius said, "When three people walk together there is certainly one who can be my teacher."  I learn stuff every day from an interesting variety of people.  I learn their thoughts and ideas.  I learn skills and abilities.  I learn stuff.  Hell, someone on the Internet once taught me how I can pee standing up!  

I didn't say everything I learned was useful....

I was taught that America was the land of the free and all were welcome.   The Statue of Liberty stands on the Liberty Island in the New York Harbor.  It is waiting there to welcome all who enter our incredible country.  It was a gift from France to celebrate America’s first 100 years as a nation and commemorates the alliance between France and the U.S. during the Revolutionary War.  My favorite part of this glorious statue is that her right foot is raised as if she is continually on the move, forever bringing freedom to others.

The inscription on the plaque at the base of the statue is a poem written by Emma Lazarus.  It was written to raise money for the base of the statue itself.  It is often called the "Statue of Liberty poem," but it's true title is New Colossus. 

New Colossus

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

I was never taught to ignore what others have to say, to bad-mouth those who disagree with me, call people names.  When I was in junior high school, as a tall girl I was called "Jolly Green Giant" and asked "what's the weather like up there?".  Truth is these things bothered me.  It was suggested I say retorts like "grow up and find out!" or "hey there Little Green Sprout!"  I never did; I couldn't because I thought it might hurt their feelings.  Respectfulness.  I was taught to always be respectful and to respect those who have earned it for me.

I know politically we have always had fights and arguments between parties, between people, between the three government branches: the Congress, the President, and the Supreme Court.  We have always had disagreements over policy and ideas.  Hell, we have had gunfights between political people.  The Burr-Hamilton duel was fought between Aaron Burr, the sitting Vice President of the United States, and Alexander Hamilton, the former Secretary of the Treasury in 1807.  Hamilton died.  Apparently they didn't like one another.  

But hey, c'mon folks.  We can be better than this.  We. Can. Be. Better. Than. This.  We can DO better than this.  Respectfulness.  Caring for others.  We--you and me--are the ones to show others what America is really about: the people.  peace~~~