Friday, November 12, 2010

East End Boys and West End Girls

Thursday, being a government holiday to honor Veterans, Mother Nature honored us all with a sunny November day. Maybe not warm but crisp and clear. I started the day with a brisk (both in speed and temp) early morning walk through my hood, shopped for groceries then, after consulting my list of things-to-do, decided to ignore all and take advantage of the clear sky to get out on a motorcycle ride. With Mark working on bikes and not often able to get out, I no longer own a bike but he had a fixer at the shop that was fixed and had offered its use to me so I thought it best to get a ride in while the weather held. I donned my boots, dug out my coat and gloves, dusted off (literally) my helmet and started thinking about where I would ride.

This bike is a little 800 cc Suzuki cruiser, black with silly buckhorn handlebars - a little laid-back and chopper-like for my taste but at least I could comfortably touch the ground. This is especially nice when I ride so seldom, at least I wouldn't have to worry about ground clearance while I adjusted and reminded myself how to ride. As often happens when I get out on these random rides, I'm a bit nervous in the anticipation then I climb on, head out the driveway and it all comes back. Except for a brief goober moment when I forgot to check for automatic signal canceling and rode 10 blocks of I Street with my blinker on, it all was second nature.

It felt so good to roll the throttle on - even the blast on the freeway, with no windshield to protect me from the chilly November air, was nice. I turned off at McKinleyville then headed through Fieldbrook, enjoying that stretch where the trees reach overhead and across the road. Had I done this ride a few weeks ago, those trees would have been a beautiful autumn canopy but now, just skeleton-like branches hang overhead. Damp road, chilly air but still, the collective smells of wet leaves, livestock and the smoke of woodstoves hit me square in the face and warmed me (figuratively anyway) as I imagined the people in their homes, huddled beside the fire as I rode past through the cold autumn air.

I headed into downtown Blue Lake and past the Mad River Brewery where I could smell the wet grain cooking as I aimed towards West End Road. I do love that area, which is why I always end up there on these little jaunts - so beautiful with the animals grazing at the edge of the road but SO narrow, I was grateful to be on a bike as cars passed going the other direction. Past sheep. Past horses. Then along the river on West End Road as I came out of the trees and headed into Arcata. As I returned to town on Old Arcata Road, my fingers became increasingly dysfunctional with cold, making it more difficult to manipulate the clutch and brake levers. I started thinking about wrapping my hands around a warm mug of Orange-Cinnamon tea, a sign that it must be time to head home.

Not a long ride but enough to make me appreciate where I live and even to think about the holiday and the Veterans who served that allowed me this ride in peace and relative safety. I say relative because, just blocks from the shop, I barely missed being hit. Some bitc.... PERSON traveling on E Street ran the light at 14th right in front of me and behind the van I was following. Truly, had I been going just a tiny bit faster, she would have hit me broadside instead of forcing me to grab every bit of brakes that Suzuki had to offer. I think she was a little confused when she realized everyone else going her way was stopped and maybe still doesn't realize how close she came to having me bounce across her windshield. Timing is everything. Just wasn't my time I suppose. So ended a lovely ride that will hold me until Mark has another fixer for me to play with. My to-do list is still waiting.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

That's Why I'm Never Going Back to My Old School

Well I did not think the girl
Could be so cruel
And I'm never going back
To My Old School ~ Steely Dan



Probably one f the hardest lessons to share with your teenage kids is that, in the grand scheme of things, high school doesn't matter. I don't mean the education or the grades - obviously that's important. There will be people you will meet and hold dear to you through time but the social hierarchy that is "HIGH SCHOOL" (all caps, chiller font with foreboding strings attached) will become such a small part of your life that you'll wonder why you let them cause you such grief. My apologies to those of you who may have been cheerleaders or football players or homecoming queens who still feel those are the best years of your life. For some of us, dare I say MOST of us, they were not so.

At the time you live those years, you feel as they represent your life. Who you are and all you ever will be. Your life is dictated by those narrow parameters set years ago. You are categorized. The brains. The stoners. The geeks. The jocks....the rest of us. You vacillate between wanting to blend in and striving to be noticed but by the right people. If you were raised with rules and boundaries, you push against those boundaries, trying desperately to make a name for yourself among the crowds that are held in high esteem. What you don't realize is that those people will come out of high school and will be the little fish in the big pond of the real world.

When one's level of popularity is based on looks or athletic prowess, you never really learn to treat people well because you don't have to. Somehow, people hang around you even when you treat them like crap because, let's face it, they're afraid NOT to be your friend. High school is a small village where you really can't get away from the people that you don't like or that taunt and bully you. You may have to ride the bus with them or even live near them. You feel like your whole life will involve these people and don't realize that you can leave the village. Sure, some will become business people with some level of success based on their high school stature (if you're a fan of One Tree Hill, I'm talking Dan Scott, here), but in the end, most will spend their lives trying to be what they were in high school. You know what? There is just no real world equivalent of the homecoming queen and in the real world, if you're not a nice person people don't want to be around you.

As I've watched a number of the "It Gets Better" videos that are part of The Trevor Project, aimed at the kids who are being bullied because of their real or perceived sexual orientation, I've been reminded how it felt to be pushed around and scared at school. I won't give value to the the so-called friends that put me through those brief periods of fear or the ones that disappeared from my side when it was happening but I can only imagine how a teen going through years of this treatment would think that this represents what will be their life. How awful to think that suicide is the only way away from the pain. Guess what kids .... high school is NOTHING! I can't speak for coming out; I can only speak for coming into your own. - becoming who you are and being proud of who you are. Screw the people who don't like you or don't like who you are. You CAN get away from those people and find people who will take you for who you are.

And as a final note, I would like to apologize to Matthew Phillips. At Del Mar Middle School in Santa Cruz, Matt was that kid with goofy glasses, acne and high water pants. He was teased and I know I took part in laughing at him at least once. I remember it made me feel powerful to be on the other side of the taunts for a change. And it made me feel awful. I don't think I did it twice but still remember that one time. I am not proud that I didn't have the balls to stop other people. I am sorry Matt. I hope you came into your own, got tough, got rich and kicked a little bully ass.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

The Summer Sun is Fading As The Year Grows Old

I love the fall. The covers of magazines in October and November with the golden leaves, the squash....everything in the bronze tones of the season. The Fall catalogs come filled with plaid, cable knits and corduroy. I've always felt drawn to the golden elements of my birth sign and, though Leo is a summer sign, the various traits of the Sun, fire, sunflowers.... are what drive me. I want to explore in the autumn months. Pumpkin patches. Autumn leaves. I want to wear sweaters even before it's cold. When I feel the first chill in the air, I crave a ride through the hills, a bowl of soup and freshly baked bread.

Some spousal manipulation garnered a trade: a drive for autumn colors in exchange for a day taking pictures at a motorcycle track day in Willows. Mark promised to pull over whenever I spotted a picture and was true to his word though it's painful for him to pull over just after he's managed to put the pass on two or three RVs only to have to pass them AGAIN, after I've taken a few photos. Our summer has kept the air so warm, I wasn't sure we'd find the colors I was looking for and, as it turned out, I was right. I suspect another two weeks will be needed to turn the leaves to reds and golds.

Since we were heading east, we went north on Highway 3 out of Weaverville, hoping the Trinity Alps might have seen a chill. Looking up to the trees coating the mountainsides, it's easy to see the changes are afoot but just barely - the hint of colors mottling the canopy is just barely visible. Areas near water, where the more easily manipulated deciduous trees reside, teased me with yellow. We stopped for a brew in Weed at the Mt. Shasta Brewing Company and found a fun crowd in there on a Sunday afternoon. Mark had the Abner Weed Amber Ale while I tried the Stout of Jefferson, a seasonal they had on tap. They knew we were visitors but, when I told them we were from Humboldt and were no strangers to microbrews, one local sighed and said... "you are SO blessed in Humboldt" and began to tell a story about a business trip, a surfboard and a waved that kicked his ass. Fun crowd. We left them discussing the scores of some sport we don't follow and headed out to I-5.The Thunderhill Raceway is in Willows, just a half-hour or so from Chico, so we trusted Victoria, the bitchy Brit in our GPS to guide us to the nearby Sierra Nevada Taproom. The place is enormous - a far cry from our Humboldt microbreweries with its tanks resembling grain towers on the roof. The food was tasty - Mark had a steak and I tried the Grilled Lamb Pizza on a crust you could watch them tossing in the open kitchen. The decor was gorgeous. We polished off our brews - I tried the Tumbler, a nice brown ale because I was drawn to the Autumnal scene on the label, and Mark had the Stout. We called it a night fairly early in preparation for 7:00 gate opening at the track. The wind was already gathering speed at 6:00 when we met Tom and Dan for breakfast.; not cold but the leaves were stirring which is never a good sign early in the day. As the sun came up, we gathered at the track gate, everyone scoping out what the other guy brought. Suzukis, Yamahas, Ducatis... all planning to turn their road-race bikes loose on the turns of the SCCA track. The people at Pacific Track Time run these track days allowing for three levels of riding, twenty-minute periods for each. Each group (in theory) would have four blocks before lunch then another four after. Although there is likely some unofficial racing going on, the intent is just to ride fast and get the yayas out. The wind made the riding, or at least the turning, difficult allowing at least two riders a helicopter ride to neighboring hospitals with injuries. The waits for the medical crews and air ambulances delayed the riding a bit but all in all, everyone had a great time.
The day got warm - brushing close to 90, I suspect which the wind cooled down only slightly. I spent my day wandering the track with my camera thinking how fun it would be out on the track, with no worries about traffic except for a few other bikes. Maybe one of these days I'll take the opportunity to let someone else take the pictures. For now, I still need to get back out to check out some autumn leaves.

Monday, October 4, 2010

It's the Time of the Season...

Posted on the wall above my desk at work: Multi-task: to screw up several things at the same time.

I am so frustrated with my lack of blog-posts. Not that I think you people (all three of you) are impatiently waiting for another fabulous missive from my direction but, lets face it, sometimes one stops looking when enough time passes. Someone (PT Barnum? Walt Disney?) is reported to have said "always leave them wanting more" and it seems a better choice than "write something....ANYthing, doesn't it? Truth is, nothing much has been happening in my life.

The pumpkin spiders are decorating my porch for the fall. The autumn is beginning to see more wear. I'm still wondering what happened to September, let alone July and August. The dismal summer weather wasn't really a problem for me. We've had some nice days and some dreary days but I haven't been cold. Perhaps it's because my internal temp is rising, documented by the bloodmobile when I donated last. I've been getting a wee bit warm. Not flashing though it's debatable whether I'm dealing with Mr. Gore's global flashing or "my own personal summah". Could be the days are just warm. Or I'm old.
Home improvement has not really progressed but it's a good news/bad news thing. Mark's business is doing well, leaving him too freaking tired to work pounding nails and screwing drywall once he gets home. Can't blame him because I'm the same way. Work. Sit with a cocktail. Eat dinner. Crash. Repeat. Until Saturday when I whittle through the list of do-mees I've made for myself, interspersed with entertainment of some sort. I'm somewhat ADD when it comes to entertaining myself. People asked me if I've been out paddling and I have - a bit. My few paddles have been around the bay. Alone except for one with Hope and Nick. Nothing spectacular. Truth is, alone is boring but it's better than not going. It seems that when Explore North Coast has planned paddles, I've got other plans. One of these days, the Cock Robin Island or Mad River paddles will be on a Saturday when I'm free. I don't venture out into unfamiliar territory on my own so I'm left to the familiar. *sigh* But I'm not a single-focus girl - I have other interests. When the weather is good, I want to walk on the beach and watch the surf and photograph the surfers. And I love to garden. Pick berries and make jam from them. And cook. I'm up early and going so as not to miss a moment of the day. I hate the down-time of waiting for company so go alone.

When the cold weather of fall and winter hits, my ADD doesn't go away but it shifts to indoor crafts and baking. Now that it's getting cooler - and AFTER I get my garden cleared and winterized - I'll make something out of the stones, beads and shells I've set aside for necklaces and earrings. I have plans to make more grocery bags. And get back to some sewing. While the bread rises.

My mind, this summer has been occupied with thoughts of my food and where it comes from, spurred by a viewing of Food, Inc, the Local Challenge thrown down by the Co-op and my one summer read, Plenty which is the CR/HSU Book of the Year. It's driving me a little crazy and would love to spend time driving around exploring the farms that produce the local foods I buy, much like they did in Plenty, but I don't care to go alone but don't have anyone to go with, so I don't. I didn't. Whine. Whine. Whine.

I've actually been considering a drive to Santa Cruz to attend my high school's homecoming football game. Why? Not sure but it sounds like it could be fun, or at least the drive down will be nice. High school was far from being my glory days and the people I will most likely see are not those who had any use for me in school. The ones I would like to see have no interest in reliving high school (ugh...*shudder*) so are no where to be found. I don't want to feel like I have to drink vast quantities so I can feel like having fun (THAT would be more like the high school days I remember...) though I wouldn't mind sneaking a flask into the game, cheer, reconnect. I'd also like to go visit my godmother and her huge and fabulous family. I wouldn't mind taking my kayak if I can find someone to act as a guide since it's been years since I've played around the old waterways.

My mind is still reeling with the things I want to do over the summer... and it's gone! What did I accomplish this summer? Zip. Zilch. Bupkus. I didn't travel. I didn't kayak enough. No major projects completed. I didn't drink too much. Or eat too much. Or exercise enough. Or sit too long. But I was SO busy, doing what, I can't recall. I canned some tuna (luckily it will taste better than the bland color would indicate. And, as a switch from canning whole tomatoes, I turned a HUGE quantity of tomatoes into a few tiny jars of tomato paste by cooking the hell of the puree. This was a new thing and I liked it so much, I've ordered up two lugs of tomatoes from the CR farm to do it again this week. I like learning new things. I took a wire-working class at Heartbead in Arcata which was fun and I'll probably join them again at the end of the month for another wire working class that will teach me how to encase the rocks and shells I've collected in wire to use as centerpieces for jewelry. That's something. But is it really enough to explain where the summer went?

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

It's Your Favorite Foreign Movie

Listen to them talk. For some these bikes represent the cool old bikes of the past. For many, these bikes are THEIR past. When I stroll around vintage motorcycle shows with my camera, I listen as well as look. The bench racing alone is worth the price of admission. This is time travel - holding tight to parts of the past, returning to visit them on occasion.
Look in the eyes of the old guy leaning on the cane as he gazes at the knucklehead Harley, remembering how he first learned to ride one just like it. Walk past the gray-bears standing in front of the Triumph and listen to the laughter as one recalls how he had one "just like that .... I chopped it". Or the guy tell the owner of the BSA that he learned to ride in the dirt on one just like it. "Man I wish I still had that bike..." These guys are not bikers but motorcyclists - they've ridden for the better part of their lives and still do. Motocross. Trials. Flattrack. They talk forks and ignitions and frames. They hunt through the swap booths and recognize pieces in a pile of seemingly worthless metal. They can spot a needed linkage for a Matchless at fifty paces. They walk straight across the grass to a booth because they recognize the rusty tank as the perfect replacement for the BSA they are restoring - the tank dented in a race long ago. You wouldn't recognize them by their attire because there is no uniform. No costume. But, as you weave through the bikes, you'll hear the words: "Oh my God, I had one of those"...over and over.
When the show was over on Saturday, some were in no hurry to leave but leaned on their pickups, listening to the Blues filtering across the bay. Their conversations started and stopped as the memories were compared. These are men for whom motorcycles represent as much of their history as the girls they loved. I suspect many were more nostalgic about the bikes.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Pick Up a Flat Rock and Skip It Across Green River

Pick up the rock, encircling it with your thumb and finger, holding it flat side parallel to the water. Stand sideways to the water. Squat slightly, pitching the rock across the surface of the water. Count the skips....

I was going through some vacation photos and realized how often my family ends up skipping rocks when we're on road trips. Maybe it's the still water that's so different from our crashing waves. The one above was taken at the base of Cape Enrage lighthouse in New Brunswick (eastern Canada). We climbed around the slate shoreline for quite a while while Mark and Glo skipped stones on the Bay of Fundy. Do kids learn how to skip rocks anymore? I was talking to co-workers the other day after more than a week of our e-mails being down...."What did people even DO without the internet?" Did you know you can play solitaire with CARDS? No way! What about 'football'...paper folded into a thick triangle and snapped through the finger "goal posts" of the opposing player? This red soil is on Prince Edward Island, northern province on the eastern side of Canada...land of Anne of Green Gables. Not many shells for mom but plenty of flat rocks for skipping.

What other skills are kids missing out on while watching TV and playing video games? Climbing trees? Playing hopscotch? We have to fix this. If we remember how, that is.

I Want to Break Free

Like prisoners, caught in a cell, free to go but for the lack of a key.Trapped inside my canner are eight pints of albacore. The key? A rubber gasket.

The old floppy gasket was leaking at the end of last season and I finally found one at Shafers sometime this past spring and, upon comparing it to the old one, found it to be correct and tossed the old one. The first tuna of the season, purchased from the Captain of the F/V Sunlight, was sweet, half of which disappeared at Sunday dinner leaving the remainder to be savored at a later date. The jars of albacore were placed in the canner, the gasket tucked into the lid. The lid would NOT close. No matter how I tried, no way, no how. I warmed it. I oiled it….methods the generally work no matter WHAT you’re working on but the lid would not go on the canner. Finally, Mark got involved and HE pushed. He pulled. Finally, face red and veins popping, he managed to twist the lid of the canner closed. "We may not get it back open but…there it is." Funny guy!

Last night, I played the Tuna Canner symphony, the infernal rattling of the canner, with a 10# weight for 110 minutes which is an interminably long time to endure the clatter of metal-on-metal. This morning, the canner was cooled down and I attempted to open it to extract the jars. Not budging. I called Mark; he too was unable to move it. We worked together with me holding the lid and him twisting the bottom. Then I held the pot and he twisted the lid. His arms hurt. My LEGS hurt. I am not butch enough for this kind of business. He brought in clamps to try to gently, but forcefully turn the lid. We put the pot back on the stove just to warm it gently. and tried again. Crap!

No help at ALL from Mirro who agreed that this was likely a faulty gasket, too thick for the application. Tricia in Customer (non-)Service suggested I toss this one and buy a new one. No suggestion on how to accomplish this SINCE IT WAS STUCK IN THE FREAKING POT! No compensation due me since “the vendors [in Brazil] are responsible, Ma’am, not Mirro.” Grrr.

The canner is still sitting on my counter. Eight pints of tuna are encapsulated inside, presumably intact. Any thoughts?

UPDATE: Another half hour of struggling with clamps and pieces of kindling for wedges, the tuna is free! THAT seriously took the fun out of canning.

Monday, August 2, 2010

I Can Dig It, You Can Dig It

Unlike the lady of the home (above), my decision did not take much pondering. For the first time, I decided to take gardening blog, Gardening Gone Wild, up on their monthly photo contest. This month's theme, "On The Road Again" asks us for photos of gardens we found on our travels "on unfamiliar ground with an open mind and open eyes". While I'm sure photos will be submitted with fabulous formal gardens in exotic locales, my mind went immediately to the simply, rather crude kitchen gardens I saw at the Plymouth Plantation in Massachusetts.As we wandered the Plantation, amidst the role-players in period dress, deep in character of the time, we took a look inside the way the settlers lived. Without benefit of Martha Stewart or Sunset Magazine, their gardens were not fancy nor decorated, but functional. No fancy construction. No fancy tools. The dirt clods among the corn plants were worked with simple hand-tools. The raised beds of greens were built from scraps and pieces of wood leftover from building the fences that kept the goats from the garden as were the trellises and supports holding up the beans. So simple, yet so uncluttered and pretty.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Don't Make Me Laugh...

In the olden days, there were party lines. For you younguns, that was when two households shared a phone line - that's right, not just two family members but two homes. Separate families. SHARING!. I suspect that there was a price break though it may have just been too expensive to have a private line. We shared with the neighbor who was rather intolerant our house with chatty teens with our chatty ways. She would occasionally come to the door and demand we vacate the line. Occasionally we would.

We have now progressed to cellular devices. Or have we? When the text came in, I didn't recognize the number:

INCOMING TEXT: Wus up beezy?
ME: not sure you want to know. Wrong # I presume.
IT: Wat?
ME: Who are you? This is Debbie.
IT: Oh Im sorry wrng numbr. But wat r u doin tho?
ME: you're funny...I'm working.
IT: Im not tryna b funny. But, how old r u debbie?
ME: old...really old.
IT: Married?
ME: very
IT: Alrite. Im sorry 4 takin u away from your work. It was nice chatin wit u. And by the way, my name is Don.
ME: bye Don.

I figured this inane text "conversation" was over...then again with the "beepbeepbeep"

DON: U kno later maybe wen u get a break if u feel like chatting a little more y dnt u give me a buzz? If u feel like it. No pressure.

Dood, are you serious? Does this work for people? I told him I'm old. I told him I'm married. I USE PUNCTUATION in text message for craps sake. I tried to Google search the phone number but no luck. Did he really expect me to jump on this opportunity with someone who can't spell worth shit? C'mon! Are people really lonely enough to get picked up by a wrong number? Please tell me "no".

Friday, July 16, 2010

I Been in the Right Place but it Musta Been the Wrong Time

I could easily have been on a ship. The clang of the bell buoy rolling in the fat swell. The echoing of two fog horns, talking to each other from the spits at either side of the Channel. The surf hardly visible in the thick fog and only noticeable when it rumbled against the hull. In reality, it was just a walk on the north spit jetty and the water was thundering against the rocks underfoot. Slowly, the fog began melting away but not until after my walk.I took the day off work and was pleased to see a zero-tide was due at a reasonable hour. I headed out to the Breakers and climbed down into the rocks that make up the jetty, checking out the lifeforms normally hidden under water. Squatting down to see under the bigger rocks, I could see the beautiful purple and orange sea stars gripping the rock along side the anemones, drooping down like gooey wet stalactites. I could hear the chattering of the barnacles, searching the salt air for food that wouldn't be theirs until the water, once again covered them and brought them dinner. See the tiny little crab scurrying around the barnacles? Little devil was no bigger than my thumbnail and obviously too shy to allow a good focus. The low tide and fat swell brought out a number of surfers, many of whom entered the water from the jetty to save their arms from the paddle out to the break. As always with the surf, you have to be in the right place at the right time or the ride just isn't yours. Luckily, a few were in the right place at exactly the right time.

Hot Town, Summer in the City

While parts of the country have been dealing with triple-digit temps and cranking up the air conditioning, we who have chosen to live where 70 is a heat wave are asked to conserve. So we dutifully live in the dark while others luxuriate in their pools or in front of the air-conditioning. I've lived in the heat and have returned to my senses, thank you very much.

I grew up in a middle class neighborhood, built mostly in the early 60's. Nothing fancy but we did have curbs. No sidewalks; those were for the rich people on the next, newer street. We also did not have swimming pools. That, too, was for the fancy people above us. We had sprinklers and we had a Water Wiggle. For those of you not fortunate enough to have owned one of these entertaining devices, the attached commercial might refresh your memory. Looking at that commercial through the litigious eyes of a person who would, say, spill hot coffee in their lap then sue the restaurant that sold them the coffee, I see dollar signs. Through the eyes of a child, it was a blast. Oh sure, there were times it would THUNK you on the head or, better yet, wrap around your ankle then continue to ensnarl you like a boa constrictor until you could free yourself. Of course, as the hose got shorter and shorter, that put that vicious little smiling head ever so close to your face. You'd reach out and grab the hose trying to prevent it from smacking your face. Now THAT is a good time cooling off.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Wake Up Little Suzy

I have found social networking sites to be helpful in so many situations but unnerving when death comes calling. I learned of my nephew's death when his sister posted in shock on her myspace. It was eerie to read his earlier posts knowing he had written them and his friends had responded not knowing they would not see each other again. Then to read the 'wall' posts as those same friends became aware of his passing and grieved publicly on the platform of myspace.

This week, I learned of the passing of a family friend, Sue (Eisele) May. Though we weren't best buds, we were classmates, friends, neighbors - it wasn't until she was in the hospital birthing her first baby that I learned from the OB nurse that her name wasn't even Sue, and I learned that only because they didn't have anyone there named Sue. Turned out her name was Carol. Her dad told me that he used to sing "Wake Up Little Suzy" to her when she was a baby and the name stuck. She was the niece of Mark's best friend. We were neighbors when we both rented from her parents in Santa Cruz. She moved (along with a whole caravan of us from Santa Cruz including her parents) to Nevada and wound up as our school secretary. Again, I remember asking one day when I was at school where Sue had run off to and they said, "Sue? You mean Carol?" Guess it never really worked for her because we met up again on FACEBOOK and, once again, she was Sue.

I knew she had a cancer diagnosis and would periodically fall silent on the chatter of FB then I'd spot a posting where "Sue May has become a fan of ....." and I knew she must been feeling a little better.

This week we learned from her Uncle that she lost her battle with cancer. Yet there she is on Facebook ... smiling in a photo with her husband, looking so good and deceptively healthy. I see photos of her. Comments she made. But on her "wall", the comments come in from friends who are finding out she is gone. Facebook, as Facebook is wont to do, beckons me from the right margin to "say hello to Sue". Hey Facebook...I'd love to BUT I CAN'T! Scrolling down her page, her comments remain to remind us of her so I suppose it's all good. It's like she's still out there. We talk to her as though she has computer access wherever she is and reads how much she is missed.

Hopefully she's feeling better, laughing with her dad, Don Eisele, and brother Eric, both of who went before her in the last couple years. Maybe there will be a heavenly social network that will allow her to "friend me" and be in touch again someday.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

They're the First to Come and The Last To Leave

Bleary-eyed at dawn we, the first team of volunteers for Kinetics, were out and about the Arcata Plaza at 5:30 setting up barricades, collecting cones and preparing the town square for the insurgence of the fabulous machines that make up the Kinetic Grand Championship. I have attended most sections of the three-day race over the years but my husband's shop schedule leaves me to my own devises, wandering the Plaza alone on Kinetic Saturday mornings. This year, I threw out the possibility of using my time wisely and volunteering. I thought I'd pitch in for a few hours and ended up doing far more....there were sites beyond the Plaza that had to be prepared. Although the sculptures are what most people see, the volunteers....the Site Coordinators and Ground Pounders make it happen.

Honestly, it was an honor to wear the official uniform of the Kinetic Accomplice - the glory extends widely to the Ground Pounders for they are the 'doozers". We pitched in where we're needed...we answered questions of Glorious Spectators like "where should we go to see the machines after this?" and "Where can we watch tomorrow?" My favorite was an elderly lady who asked if something was going on...."why, yes, yes there IS a race going on". "A bicycle race?"....Not exactly but CLOSE, ma'am." I wonder where she thought she was.

The Ground Pounders are the roadies....we did the set up and tear-down. The "first to come and the last to leave"..... It is the Ground Pounders that ask, with a smile, that Spectators pull "feet off the street" in preparation for the LeMans start of the race, and are sometimes met with scowls....yet we soldiered on, collecting our bribes from sculptures for a job well done. I cherish my bracelet from the registration Goddess Jen-0 as well as my boobie button from the Classical Nudes and others that accumulated on my shirt over the morning.

The fun of this event is like an inside joke that not everyone 'gets'. The costumes of the teams AND the volunteers raise the eyebrows of the uninvolved. So many people, mostly long-time residents I suspect, roll their eyes at the thought of the race, a clear violation of Rules 1 and 10. ** Facebook and Twitter comments mentioned "those people" more than once.....some people just don't get it but I'm glad I do. I'm grateful for Monica, Rutabaga Queen 2004 and Queen President 3 for this year, for getting us further involved in the race. Gloria has been 'entourage' since Monica ran for Queen so has been a Ground Pounder by default since she was pre-teen.

Sitting on the rocks watching the water entry on Day Two, I sat with two couples visiting from Sea Ranch who were having SO much fun. They got "it" .... Francis asking "honey, did you get a picture of that?" every few minutes as the sculptures peddled past, giggling like a teen at the numbness we were developing in our butts from sitting awkwardly on the cold rocks. It's fun to see that joy and enthusiasm. It's fun to HAVE that joy and enthusiasm..to see adults not ashamed to be silly. As was Hobart's intent, the race is intended for adults to have so much fun that kids want to grow up to be adults.

I hope that, when you attend special events anywhere, always be aware that someone, probably a BUNCH of someones, worked real hard so you could enjoy yourself. I just hope they have as much fun doing it as the Ground Pounders do.

** RULE #1: It is mandatory that all Sculpture Pilots, Pit Crew, Officials, Spectators, Law Enforcers, Communicators, Volunteers, Merchants, and even innocent bystanders put great effort into having great fun for it is such Craziness as this that keeps us all Sane! If you insist on being a grumpy racer and not having fun, you may declare "diplomatic immunity" (since you are surely from another planet) and not be cited by overly excited officials for that infraction, but we reserve the right to adjudicate any such declaration.(NOTE: Rule #1 repeats as Rule #10...it's THAT important).

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

In the Jungle, the Mighty Jungle....

Saturday morning, having let the cats in for breakfast then letting them back outside, I was confused by the sound of Tyra “mrowring”. After checking around, I realized she was outside, calling at the back door. While she is normally a decidedly yakky kitty, it’s unusual for her to cry to come IN. The mystery was solved when I opened the door and found a dead finch at her fluffy black feet. *sigh* A gift like only a cat can give.

We’ve had dozens of cats over the years and have learned that this is really the greatest gift a cat can bestow on a human….or at least it is to a cat. The cat we had when I was growing up was a giver. Putsy was a prolific breeder and great hunter, a skill she would pass on to her spawn by maiming a gopher and allowing her kittens to ‘play’ with the quarry. She would finally go in for the kill and share the bounty with her babies. Great training. Unpleasant to watch but really the way to teach your children to hunt if you’re so inclined. If she was between litters, she would deposit portions of any variety of vermin on the back step. A cat we had in Nevada, Hawk, actually brought a jackrabbit home once and tore it open to share with his nieces and nephews. Surprisingly, Hawk was neutered but was helping to train the babies of a stray that came to our spawning grounds.

We acquired one of our best hunters in Camden, South Carolina in 1975 - that's him at the top. Torker was feral orphan left behind by his mom under a boat at the shop where Mark worked. I bottle-fed him and he grew to be an awesome cat, quite content to travel on the dash of our van (picture it - it was the 70's) but with still enough wild blood that the scent of eggs would drive him to a frenzy. If I was fixing eggs for breakfast, he would quite literally jump on the table and steal scrambled eggs from a plate and run to a corner to feast before you had a chance to react. I learned to cook him an egg of his own and serve it hot to slow down his devouring it so Mark could finish HIS breakfast in peace.

Torker came back from South Carolina with us, traveling on the dash most of the way. He hunted in Florida. He hunted in Texas. Once we got home to Santa Cruz, he went camping with us. In fact, we’re pretty sure he’s the reason the “All Dogs Must Be on Leash” signs in Yosemite were changed to “All PETS Must Be On Leash”. I remember a ranger stopping his truck as Torker chased a big bushy-tailed gray squirrel up a tree. Luckily, the squirrel was more agile and we did not have to hide the remains from Smokey Bear but most prey around our house were not so fortunate. He caught birds (big ones), gophers, mice….and he would bring those gifts to me. Unfortunately, we lived in an apartment at the end of the hall….and he would bring them alive. If I didn’t come home soon enough, he would kill it for me. If I took too long, he would eviscerate the little creature leaving me only the most delectable pieces….stomach, claws and face. Yeah…nice gift. Thank you, Torker. He would not do this without first bashing and tossing the carcass around in the hallway, leaving little red splats all over the hallway wall. The girl in the apartment nearest the door did not appreciate the bloody walls but she MUST have preferred them to the live mice that would run in the hallway. Again, “Thank you, Torker” for endearing us to our neighbors. Torker’s love for the road took him for rides in stranger’s cars….if a car door was left open, he would jump in. Three times he disappeared, twice he was returned. to the pound where we would retrieve him. I’m sure the last ride he went on was with someone who recognized he was a perfectly awesome cat and with a Southern drawl to boot.

Our most recent felines have been hunters but not eaters. More of the Garfield perspective…..”eww, Eat mice?” They will hunt, generally unsuccessfully but if they manage to capture something, they will simply run them to death and leave the carcass behind for us to clean up. I’m fine with nature taking its course, survival of the fittest and all, but I hate that they kill for sport. So, for the spring, while the baby birds are fledging, I will need to bell the cats. Or at least Tyra. And to the mommy bird, I apologize. I grieve your loss.

Friday, April 30, 2010

You're Not the Boss of Me....

Continuing on the theme of chicken-related phrases in common use, I feel compelled to discuss "pecking order' as defined in Merriam-Webster as:

1
: the basic pattern of social organization within a flock of poultry in which each bird pecks another lower in the scale without fear of retaliation and submits to pecking by one of higher rank; broadly : a dominance hierarchy in a group of social animals
2
: a social hierarchy

No matter how many hens I have at any one time, there is always a pecking order. Depending on the dominant...we'll call her the peckerhead....the severity will vary but there is always a 'squawk" to alert you to the fact that someone is at the bottom of the pecking order. I believe Ginger to be the lead pecker in my flock and she's a mean one (see previous post). As a result, I've done more doctoring of hen butts with this flock than ever in my years of hen-keeping. Well, a while back I DID have to deal with a little Polish hen with a prolapsed oviduct ....I won't gross you out but it involved the chicken equivalent of a uterus on the outside of the chicken having to be returned to it's proper location with a gloved hand, Vaseline and a horribly unhappy husband for a helper.

This flock has been dominated by Ginger from pretty much the start so I've been dealing with wounds. Chickens will commonly peck at anything.....rivets on jeans and my pretty painted toenails are generally enticing. Should a peer develop a wound of any sort, the others will peck at it - and the bigger the wound becomes, the more enticing it seems to be. I've read that they are attracted to red and others have told me it's the 'smell of blood'. Who knows what the the girls are thinking but they just peck at stuff. I've collected medications and treatments to try and help. Blu-Kote is a spray that has an antibiotic in it as well as drying agents but I suspect it's best feature is it's color.....It's a punky blue-violet color that is lovely when applied to a bare chicken butt. The blue seems to disguise any injury so allows the wound to dry and heal without further distress. I also have Rooster Booster that helps stop the 'cannibalizing" behavior by turning skin (including my hands) that dark purple but also has peppermint and aloe which must be soothing. Poor Mavis has had her neck and behind plum plucked clean and has become used to being hung upside down and smeared with purple goo so much that I don't think she minds. Hanging a chicken by the feet, by the way, relaxes them - makes `em "go nonny". If you've seen pictures of villagers carrying birds that way, it's just a way of calming them.

This is my little tribute to Ruby, who has been pecked at for the last time. For the last week, I've been spraying her with Blu-Kote but am pretty sure her wound actually was the exterior part of an interior problem. It was difficult to diagnose since it was quite bloody at times and hard to keep her sequestered. She seemed to actually be enjoying the attention since she would hide behind me when I was in the pen and actually leaned on me and dozed once. After days of treatment however, sadly Ruby has "gone on holiday" (a Chicken Run reference if you're not familiar). She has "bought the farm" and "gone to live on a ranch".... poor girl climbed into the nesting box and packed it in. Hopefully, I can keep Ginger under control so she doesn't do that to others in my flock. I really hate to lose my little feathered friends.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Leave Me Alone

If you check any dictionary, the word "broody" translates to moody, introspective, contemplative....which pretty much sums up a "broody" teen. Although people brood and teens are broody, the first and truest definition of the word "broody" is "being in a state of readiness to brood eggs that is characterized by cessation of laying and by marked changes in behavior and physiology....a broody hen". Aah, crabby, grumpy, full-with- child attitude...THAT I understand.

Ginger has decided to set (on eggs) and flat ain't giving them up without a fight. I've had broody hens before that made it their duty to hatch every egg placed in the nest. Never mind we had no roosters to fertilize the eggs - they're just the motherly types. Reaching under to collect the eggs caused little more than clucking and bothering. Never before have I had one quite this snotty. When I reach in to check for eggs, she pecks at my hand and I don't mean gently. I've finally taken to tucking my hand inside my shirt sleeve but she can leave a mark even then.

Now that Ginger has herself become broody, other commonly used terms that come from chicken-raisin' come to mind....This, for instance would be Ginger with "her feathers ruffled". after being physically removed from her clutch of eggs. Can you tell she's pissed?

When I decide to wash down the coop walls to remove webs, I will share with you "madder than a wet hen".

UPDATE: It is now one month later and Ginger is, once again, broody. Sitting on the daily clutch deposited by her coop-mates, refusing to give them up. One month pretty much to the date. Do chickens PMS?

Friday, April 16, 2010

This Could Be The Start of Something Big....

It's April already and finally April and for us on the chilly north coast, it's a wee taunt, allowing us glimpse at spring and the warmer weather to come. I flipped the page on the calendar at the start of this month and realized that Humboldt calendars really should have bigger squares during the doing-stuff season. There were SO MANY things squeezed into the tiny square of my calendar for last Saturday.So many activities but the Surfrider Beach Cleanup won out....we cleaned the entrance to Mad River Beach with magnets and rakes, scouring the sand of nails before that could puncture the tender feet of beach goers. The fire sites are normally fairly easy to spot the the winter's high tides had caught the cinders in their flows, spreading the nails and covering them with sand. For our efforts, we took six buckets of rusty nails, and other bonfire debris from the beach. I had to keep reminding myself to stop and smell the salt air and enjoy the waves while I was there.
The pre-printed start to the Farmer's Market on my CAFF calendar was almost buried...but it was on my list of things to accomplish so I packed my market basket before I left the house. After tidying up the beach, I joined the throngs of people giddy with the first Farmer's Market of the season. I made my first loop around to ponder the possibilities then ended up with a new marjoram plant from Flying Blue Dog Farm (I even remembered to bring the coupon I received by being Facebook buddies with the farmers.) , some honey from Reed's Bees, some salad greens and a couple enormous leeks. Next week, chard and carrots....and more herbs as the season progresses. I made a run through the Gem show at Redwood Acres, passing by the rock hounds, I was in search of beads for future projects. First I find beads that speak to my creative soul then a centerpiece that will work. The creative juices flow and the colors of the stones, drilled, strung and stacked is always so appealing, I couldn't resist snapping a picture until the craphead booth proprietor scolded me. I was a little embarrassed and explained I would never take a picture of his actual designs (though I doubt he actually created the pricey pieces he was selling) and was only entranced with the pretty colors. He admonished even more until I spewed an admittedly insincere apology and stopped short of calling him a dick...only muttering it under my breath as I slunk away. Didn't buy anything from him but I did find a nice string of red abalone chips to create yet another necklace I could do without....but they're so pretty.......

This weekend is another busy one. I was hoping to do one of the paddles with Kayak Zak's for Godwit Days but it looks like there will be moving assistance for Hope and another run through the Farmer's Market on Saturday. I took Monday off so Mark and I can make some headway on the entry project. I hope I don't miss anything - I repeat, bigger squares on the calendar.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

She's Leaving Home....bye bye.....


So many changes have been taking place these last few weeks with all three girls in transition - one daughter is in the metamorphic stage of ending a relationship, another moving, yet again, this time back from McKinleyville into Eureka. And now, the old man and I are contemplating a life as empty-nesters as the youngest princess is embarking on a move out of the castle.

In a perfect world, we would return to something akin to our early days, the five child-free years between wedding and Ms. Monica when we could do what we wanted when we wanted...and do it naked if we cared to. If that included a spontaneous amorous encounter on the sofa, so be it (different couch entirely girls so get over it). Unfortunately, as boomers who chose to spread their child-bearing over a number of years, we're not as amorous, nor as limber as we once were. Our new life, once the urchin vacates, will probably involve eating what we want, when we want.... and that's about it.

Now that Glo is gainfully employed, her plan is to move in with her boyfriend. The conversations regarding our "no revolving door policy" have fallen on deaf ears as they have in the past with her sisters and she has begun to pack for this new phase of her life. No anger involved, just excitement on her part and sadness on ours knowing our baby has grown up and old enough to survive on her own. We remind ourselves (regularly) that I was younger than her 18.25 years when we got married and I left home. I survived. She will survive. And we will begin the transition to speaking to her as an adult rather than the child she remains in our minds.

When we were young and unencumbered by offspring, we considered no one other than ourselves. When he worked on City buses and had to run a bus from Santa Cruz to, say Watsonville to exchange for another in need of service, I would go along for the ride. Just two of us alone in a 50-passenger transit bus, cruising Highway 1 at sunset. Now, I will probably accompany him to tow a bike after he closes the shop and perhaps we'll grab dinner instead of cooking. And our dinners will probably include more sausage and pork and other things kids don't like. And we may return to a life with a little less structure and a little more spontaneity. We'll probably bicker more but...hell, maybe we'll bicker less.

Of course, the kids have lived for fifteen years in this huge rattle-trap of a house with peeling paint and sub-standard bathrooms and now that we're finally fixing these things properly, they're gone (not their fault we took so long). The goal is to finish it all, enjoy it for a time, then move to a smaller place without stairs in deference to our geriatric knees. and it will be in town so I can still get around when they rip my driver's license from my wrinkly little fingers.

Perhaps I'm thinking too far ahead; after all, Glo hasn't even emptied her closet and that alone could take a while.

Monday, March 15, 2010

There Were Times....When I Bit Off More Than I Could Chew

We were busily destroying the front entrance when Ol' Blue Eyes came on and Mark said "I guess you could say "I did it my way on this, right?"..... yes, honey, you could say that. Apparently, the technical term is "R and T"....rip and tear. Lordy! What a disaster. Mark discovered, as he always does when we get into these projects, that things are not as they seem, or as they should be. He had hoped to get down to the lath and plaster then overlay it with drywall but a contractor friend mentioned the possibility of the lath not being even, the thickness may vary. Sure enough the walls had "wows"; the lath would have to go. If you're not familiar with the lath-and-plaster construction of old houses, it looks like this. Narrow strips of wood, nailed on to the 2 X 4 studs, which in a house this old are actually two inches by four inches. Then, they smooshed plaster in between. This is the back side of the frontroom wall after we removed the lath off the entry side. The dust is phenomenal.....this is what Mark looked like. Imagine, if you will, what that dust does to the house, even with that plastic sheeting blocking the doorway. And all that pounding drove things on the otherside of the wall to fall to the floor. Will it never end?! At least we can insulate it before putting up drywall.

To be honest, I'm often not usually in the mix of these jobs but not because I'm not willing. They tend to only progress on Sundays and by the time we finish lingering over pancakes and Mark gets up to his ass in wood or dust, I have to work on Sunday dinner to feed the masses. This week, I'm on vacation and I hoped to make hay on the entrance so my job, would be pulling carpet off the stairs. Freaking carpet tacks! I pried. I pulled. I cussed a blue streak when the tack strips found tender skin. I started wondering about my last tetanus shot. Gloria would be juicing the lemons for dinner; my hands were not in any shape.

We're not sure why the stairs had so many colors of paint and in so many widths but we are seldom surprised at what we find in this place, even when we discover that the doorway had been widened and the supports for the house were cut to do it. There is no header over this doorway into the front room and those vertical studs should stretch from the floor to the ceiling joists. We're not sure who did it, the Gray's that built the house or one of the subsequent owners who weren't completely knowledgeable about anything they did. Mark isn't likely to cover it back up now that he knows what lurks so we're pondering the shape and size of the doorway and will be bringing the front room even farther into this project.Once I was done with the stairs, I moved on to the floor. Mark continued on with the walls, until we decided we would need some bolstering if the job was to continue. Here are the favorite tools of a woman doing heavy rippin' and tearin' - a Superbar and a Brown. And at the end of the day, we were still smiling and Mark had over 500 pounds of plaster and carpets to haul off to the landfill.But in the morning light, there was this to contend with.

Monday, February 22, 2010

And She's Buying the Stairway....

Who among us, who grew up in a 60's era ranch-style home, didn't think living in a two-story house would be the coolest? If you've never lived in one, a multi-story house and it's stairways, is a thing of wonderment. A banister down which children can slide. A landing on top where small children in sitcoms lurk to listen to adult conversations below. Teens stomp UP them and things tumble down them. People crash and die, their necks and limbs tweaked at unusual angles...in black and white. Banisters to decorate for the holidays! I was fascinated with the stair lift that was used on The Farmer's Daughter.....*sigh*. And my godparents, Wynn and Royce Krilonavich's house, was huge and seemed to go on forever....

Those who have lived in two-story know the reality is far more tedious. Dirty laundry is carried down only to be washed and carted back up the stairs. Running to your room is a climb, not a simple run down the hall. But the real joy of stairs isn't realized until large items are purchased...beds and desks....and must be moved up those stairs. And when you have a 100-year-old house with stairs built long before building codes, the thrill fades quickly. Our house had, at one time included a second unit which was absorbed into the main house more than thirty years ago and includes not one but TWO sets of stairs. The rear steps are less radical but have a turn halfway up, making them difficult for moving large items. The front steps are direct but steep and narrow. I'm relatively sure we have been black-listed for delivery by most all local furniture stores, their drivers have begun to recognize the address. Hope's high school graduation present was a three-piece desk that was initially ordered wrong and had to be moved twice which did NOT endear her to the burly moving people. My big oak teachers desk, I've been told, will NOT be moved from this house. We may move but the desk will be included whether a buyer wants it or not.
The latest episode of "Stair Wars" started when Mark went to the plumbing store to buy a few supplies for the bathroom project from hell. He returned only to get the trailer to pick up a tub/shower he bought. We're not ready for the shower... but it was a deal! Mark was not blessed with sons - luckily his wife and daughters are a tough lot and, while the shower is not heavy, it IS bulky and cumbersome. We got it up the porch steps and pondered the situation. It would likely clear the ceiling but the banister railing would have to come off. Once that was done, Mark's plan was that we would "just lift the stall up on to the steps". Yeah, right.....So we tried that. The railing came right off but the newel post remained. We tried the lift but, with the post there, it wouldn't clear so we set it down again. That left Hope trapped in the corner for the time it took for Mark to pull the newel post but, once the post was out, we managed to boost the stall onto the steps at which point I had to run up the back stairs to access the top of the stall to continue it's move.

Some bashing and yelling and luckily some laughing came with with trip up. Another door and piece of wall were removed to clear the opening and the stall was home, for the time being.
There is still more work to be done in the bathroom so the shower will have to be moved in and out as the project progresses but now our front stairs are off limits. The total lack of railing is even more dangerous than the crappy railing was before. The newel post was battered and didn't really suit the style of the house so Mark decided that, rather than reassembling it to it's former tattered glory, it is now time to fix the front entry. Nothing so simple as paint since the walls, like those throughout the house, are covered in layers of wallpaper and paint - it's gotta go!
We now have begun this new, additional project by removing the wallboard from the lathe and plaster framework and we're at the point of no return, all because he ran for plumbing supplies. I DID say I wanted a house with character.....

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Under the Boardwalk....

As my youngest continues to apply and hunt for her first job, I've been thinking about my first job. Many who grew up in Santa Cruz, had their first work experience at the Boardwalk or maybe the Soquel Car Wash - places we could easily get to on foot or bicycle. Kids who lived in Scotts Valley, started at Santa's Village for the same reason. These were places that needed a lot of employees so could afford to take the chance on whoever they got. Some lasted some didn't. Mark, being a car guy, did the gas station route, pretty typical in the days before self-service pumps.

I was one of the Boardwalk kids, working at Hodgie's under the Jet Star, across the main entrance from the Merry-G0-Round. My parents knew Hodgie, actually Howard Wetzel, as a teen growing up around the corner from our house on Santa Cruz's east side. Networking was as much the way to job hunt then as it is now - it's who you know. Hodgie was actually a motor cop for Santa Cruz PD before his retirement and purchase of the restaurant. I mostly worked back in the fry corner, hand-dipping corn dogs and deep-fried artichokes, going home at the end of the day reeking of fry oil. On breaks, we would occasionally walk among the tourists but more often, would head to the basement, in the coolness away from the noise of the crowds or better, above the crowds by finagling a ride on the SkyGlider from one of the Seaside Company kids in exchange for a corn dog snuck out the window when they passed by on their breaks. Riding up high, the car gliding along a cable swinging in the warm air. From up there, you could see the beach and the tiny people and for that brief expanse of time, not have to worry about filling the oil or Hodgie barking at us to quick goofin' off when one of the cooks would toss an ice cube into the vats of oil, causing the oil to burble and us to squeal.

The Boardwalk was eerie in the morning, before the crowds arrived. No lights. No ringing bells or yelling kids or carousel calliope. Just the workers, carrying supplies to the restaurants and preparing for the day. More eerie, however, is the Boardwalk at night, without lights but with thousands of people, including the obligatory screaming girls. I was working on the Fourth of July 1974 when the lights went out. At some point, in the midst of the fireworks., a blown transformer. In the panic, there was a stabbing somewhere on the Boardwalk and tourists ran for their cars. The ensuing traffic jam filled Beach Street and all roads leading from beach flats, making it impossible for the ambulance to get to Beach Street. Hodgie, gruff as he was during the work day, turned fatherly and would not allow us to leave. Initially we pulled the windows closed then relented when there was some money to be made - working from coffee cans full of change, we sold coffee, hot chocolate and any food we had already cooked. Then the windows came down and we all sat in the dark of the dining room watching the lights of the refugees disappear over the bridge. When the traffic finally dissipated around one in the morning, he let us walk together to our cars and head home. I still remember laying in bed that night, the excitement and the sore feet after fourteen hours keeping me wide awake till nearly dawn. The panic was not forgotten and the fireworks were gone from the Boardwalk until 2007.

All that excitement and that was my first job. So, where does a kid get their first job experience around here? How does my 18-year-old, with a good brain, no criminal history, a diploma AND a two-year degree, get a job when she has no work experience? Would it be easier if she were fifteen? Now that she's 18, prospective employers seem to expect her to have job experience and won't take that chance. Yet we go in stores regularly where we nearly beg for service from unpleasant kids with no social skills.

This was a problem we hadn't considered when we discouraged her from getting a job when she was in high school - we thought she needed to focus on her studies since she was taking all college classes. How does she convince an employer that she's worth the risk when she has no work references. When so many are looking for jobs, how do you make yourself stand out? How do you prove you have skills and network in a town without a Boardwalk or a Santa's Village? She's thinking she'd like to wait tables....or stock shelves....whatever it takes. When the corporate stores require on-line applications then don't allow for calling in to check on your application. what's the procedure? How does THAT work? Should she go back to school and get MORE education without a particular goal in mind? Or just keep pounding the pavement, filling out applications and wincing when an interviewer asks the inevitable question about her work history? My child is looking to start making those first-job memories.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

TOSSIN' AND TURNIN'

...splashin..
... and churnin...
.... blowin'...
.... and goin'....

how I love a good storm.