Monday, May 26, 2008


We joined the throngs on the Plaza cheering the start of this year's Kinetic Grand Championship, including Queen Monica Blues on board the Counterfeit Bluesmobile. After lunch, I decided to take the dog to Deadman's Drop.....what in the WORLD was I thinking. I just feel bad leaving him home if I head to the sand. He did OK but had to stay on the leash due to the dozens of dogs running loose. Just for the record, I question the manhood of any man who feels the need to run an "unaltered" pit bull loose on the beach. I suspect the dog has more cojones than the owner....just sayin'.

Anyway, see what I found on the beach. Very surreal. The crew of the Counterfeit Bluesmobile was having ENTIRELY too much fun. Vince (the dog) however, was not...I cannot even begin to explain the frantic look in his eyes when he beheld the vision that was the enormous pink and orange Hippyotomus. Then it honked. Oh Lord.... my arms still ache from holding on to that leash. Anyway, Vince survived the trauma and I had to share this photos since few people get out to see this part of the course.

Saturday, May 24, 2008


When you become a parent, you sit awash with the fragrance of baby powder and the feel of soft, puffy baby feet unaware of what the future holds. But you're sure it will be sunshine and rainbows and you will have the happiest child in the world for you will love them and teach them well.

Then they get feet. Those lovely little baby feet become wheels. The bases upon which they will explore a new world, a few feet off the ground, where candy and houseplants and other fascinations live. You scold gently as they test the waters of defiance then, after countless tender admonishments, you drop your voice an octave or two and say "no". Those sweet baby lips pinch into a pout then....tear flow. Oh my God, what have I done? She hates me now. You remind yourself that it was for her own good but it still hurts to have caused your baby to cry.

The toddler years fly by with more scolds and tears. Teaching them that they must hold your hand to cross the street, explaining how much danger awaits until they learn to look both ways. As they enter their school years, you have less control over their daily lives and can only hope the lessons you've taught thus far will stay with them and keep them safe. Look both ways. Don't stand on folding chairs. Don't stand on chairs with wheels. Don't run with scissors. Don't. Don't. Don't.

There are ups and downs and it seems that the older they get, the more extreme the highs and lows. Until a day comes when you don't think you're getting through. As the judge, you meet out punishments then, fearing that in your anger you were harsh and they probably got the point, you allow furloughs. But the furloughs give way to the prisoner taking incarceration too lightly. Finally, you have to find something, an event, an occasion that must be taken away in order to get your point across. You hand down the decree. There is horror. There is devastation. You've made your point. They finally get it. Why don't I feel the power they think I enjoy? Why doesn't it feel better? Why didn't someone tell me parenting was this hard?!

I leave you with timely addition to the morning paper:

Saturday, May 17, 2008

No More Pencils....No More Books

Well folks...I did it. Thirty some odd years after graduating from Harbor High in Santa Cruz, I finally got my two-year degree. I've been calling it the "ten year plan" but I realized it only took five years. And with highest honors, no less. Associate of Science degree in what I call Random Studies, I have taken classes that help me to do my job...a little business...a little digital and assorted software...oh, and Pilates. I would be remiss if I didn't express sincere gratitude for the patience of my family. Setting a good example for the girls, getting my homework done really sucked! I was a content B student in high school because, well ... A's would have taken too much effort. Will I go on? As a co-graduate told me, "As soon as I figure out what I want to be when I grow up."

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

I Don't Want a Pickle

"Hey...what would happen if someone rode through the halls?” Never being one to pass a challenge, Mark fired up his Triumph Cub and, with friends holding the door at either end of the building, he popped a wheelie and headed into the school corridor on one wheel. Heads popped out of classroom doors to see who had the nerve. When he got to the end, the door was held open. Unfortunately, the hand that held it belonged to the Dean. DANGIT! He was this close. “Mr. Topping, park that thing. My office. Now!” His reputation established, he headed to the Dean's office.

Mark is a journeyman mechanic….a professional …a skilled artisan. He’s one of the last of a dying breed of guys that can fix anything. Mark was an auto shop kid in high school. In fact, it’s safe to say it kept him in school. The punishment for the wheelie that is still legend at Soquel High? He fixed the dean’s car. This would not have worked with a slacker kid. I swear, he can fix anything and any part of anything and the dean knew it.

Mechanics are going the way of the loggers that Ernie and Eko speak of in reverent tones. Mark has been to school to fix everything from Buicks to Mercedes to Yamahas. He can fix Monica's Vespa and my garden shredder. When you truly understand how things work, you can diagnose. He fixes the stuff other people can’t. He fixes the things other people have taken apart. The Nuevo mechanics are “technicians” and they’re specialists -- they do alignments or transmissions or services….but not all of it. Mark can do on-board computers as well as carburetors. Remember jetting carbs? How many girls out there ever sat in the passenger seat of the boyfriend’s hot rod with your foot over the hump (wait, I’m not done with the story….) on the accelerator, goosing the throttle to keep it running while boy fiddled with the carb? And you probably did it every few blocks because many boys THOUGHT they knew what they were doing but seldom quite got it right.

My old man has switched from cars and dealerships to motorcycles and self-employment. Smaller engines. Smaller tools. No one telling him to keep doing things that hurt because “you’re faster than the other guys and we need it done.” Self-employment allows him to switch to another project if his arms start hurting. Damage done with many years spent working a trade that many with fewer skills also claim. Many wear the hat but few can truly walk the walk.

When we were new to the area, reading the want-ads, there were ads searching for “cat skinners” and something about mules. We had NO idea what those jobs were but figured we would know if we could do it and we didn't. It strikes me regularly that, before long, people won’t know what a carburetor is or the difference between a transmission and a transaxle any more than they'll know what it means to pull green chain.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

The Mother and Child Reunion.....

I woke up this morning and was treated to breakfast (waffles no less) by Hope and Glo. I don't require much for Mother's Day -- I told Mark to take back the diamonds he had surely bought for the occasion -- except for a break from cooking and cleaning up. I actually enjoy cooking but it's really nice to be the Princess for a change. Once a year, I get to spread out the Sunday papers, have my morning mocha and let someone else cook. Yummy waffles, girls. Thank you.

I forgot to pickup marigolds this week, my annual Mother's Day tribute to my mom. It was not unusual to find Mom in the garden and we had a variety of plants but, for some reason, I remember marigolds. When I catch the scent of marigolds at the nursery, I picture mom with a flat of the puffy little bronze flowers, on her knees in the back yard. I try and pick up a six-pack or two to plant on Mother's Day. This year they'll be a bit late.

My mom, Aggie Limandri, was the youngest of nine kids born to the Goettlichers in Eau Claire, Wisconsin -- five of which had come over from Austria with my grandmother in 1910; I still haven't found the manifest from my grandfather's earlier trip but I haven't given up. My mom and her friends would often take Sunday drives and take pictures of each other in their new outfits. Seems odd but I'm grateful I have so many pictures like these...that's her on the right, cuttin' up with "Beets and Art". Seeing nicknames like "Beets" written in my mom's hand, make me smile every time I go through these pictures. We lost Mom to Alzheimer's a few years ago but Mother's Day is still hers.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Hunka Hunka Burnin' Love

Have you ever had house guests that stayed a weeeee bit too long? Nothing horrible. Nothing tragic. You just wish you could walk through your own house in your underwear and maybe... fart.. (not that I would) or drink out of the milk jug (ditto) ... and maybe crank up the stereo? Creative juices are waning but I need to post so I find inspiration in Sid....BIG Sid.

This is the story of Sid and how I stopped by K-Mart to pick up some oil for Mark and came home with a kitten. He was this adorable little tabby. And it's not like I needed a cat. We had (at least) four. According to the people who had him in a box, he was the last one. I presumed they had a dozen in the car that they brought out, one at a time, to con people into taking "the last one". Since then, we have decided that he may have been the last one because he ATE the rest of the litter. You see, Sid has grown...and like Alice in Wonderland....continued growing and growing and growing.

When naming him, we went through dead rocker names. Jerry. Jim. We settled on Elvis. He was Elvis for about a week but... he was so tiny we changed it to Sid. Little did we know that our little junkie would grow to be a "peanut butter and bananas" Elvis. He weighed 22 pounds at his last visit to the vet and I'm sure he's packed on a kilo or two since. He's a big, cuddly teddy bear. I took this picture when he was rendering in front of the furnace. He struggles to clean his chubby nether-regions. Picking him up puts a strain on my back. Our kitten that doesn't like anyone, LOVES his funny Uncle Sid. Ya gotta love that fat cat!