Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Wanna Go Back to My Hometown...

...though I know it'll never be the same.

Santa Cruz is not the same as it was when I left more than a quarter-century ago but parts of it are the same. At least in my mind those things that remain will take me back as if I've never left. Like us, our families moved from Santa Cruz years back and few friends remain, giving us little reason to return ..... except for the inevitable draw of the hometown.

When I learned of the death of Lieutenant Tom Marketello, one of my bosses from my short stint at dispatching for Santa Cruz PD and the father of a former classmate, I felt that draw. The thought of seeing co-workers I hadn't seen in more than thirty years was a little unnerving but irresistible. Law enforcement relationships are strong owing to the fact that you hold lives in your hands, those of the callers as well as those of the men and women you ride herd on each shift. It felt good to see those faces again - most of them anyway - and to remember the life of this man who was important to so many.
We spent a little time wandering the old stomps, neighborhoods and hangouts. Grabbed pastries at Gayle's Bakery in Capitola and carried them to Steamer Lane to watch some surf action then played tourists wandering the wharf, laughing at the barking sea lions. I had never, in my years growing up there, seen the "rafting" of the sea lions, together as if bound as they bobbed around the pier.

We headed north on the coast highway and made a stop we'd made many times before and I have a stack of snapshots to show for it but Pigeon Point Lighthouse is such a pretty tower of rusted metal, I had to stop yet again for a couple more shots.

After spending the night in Half Moon Bay, we headed inland, spent a few hours fighting the detours in San Francisco before deciding to save paying fifteen bucks to park so we could wander the ferry marketplace on the Embarcadero for another time. We made a brief stop at Golden Gate National Cemetery to visit with Mark's grandparents and Uncle Bud.

I leave you with this last shot: When we were in Half Moon Bay, I dragged Mark to the edge of the world to watch the sunset. We drove to the end of a road, parked at a barrier close, but not TOO close, to DO NOT PARK HERE signs and ran to the cliff, seemingly alone, to watch the sun drop into the sea. Once down, and my breath released, we hurried back to the car and found six or eight people right behind us. We had not been alone but had been surrounded by others seeking that same peaceful delivery of the sun over the horizon where she would be rising to the joy of those on the other side of the world.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Throwing It All Away

A robin is NOT a sea bird. The robin gets the worm, right? What could this guy possibly be looking for in the sand? Perhaps he was just there to greet me as I headed out from the parking lot on the South Spit.
The beach at the south end of the spit is great for driftwood hunting and these would make great focal points in my garden but there was no way these would fit in my car or even on the roof rack. What must these have been like floating down the coastline? What must it be like for a fishing boat to encounter a floating tree on the water?

I found two floats on my short walk along this lonely stretch of sand. I also left with a bag full of bottles and caps and various other scraps of trash including a bleach bottle and a big 10-gallon pot that had likely held a substantial "plant" of some sort up stream.
Some of the trash was clearly left behind by beach goers, beer bottle left to mark the spot they held while enjoying the beauty of the sunset. Other detritus washed up on the night's high tide, flushed from hiding spots on the rivers or dropped from boats. We must learn to take care of our ocean so she doesn't have to regurgitate our trash from her bowels.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Hello, Bonjour - Happy Birthday Girl Scouts

Happy Hundredth Birthday, Girl Scouts.

Michael Franti might be surprised that his song, "Hola Bonjour", reminds me of Girl Scouts. "Hola. Bonjour. Guten Tag. Konitchiwa...we are glad to meet you. We are glad to greet you." Just one of about a billion songs I sang in Girl Scouts. As part of World Friendship day each year, we would celebrate cultures. As a Brownie, Junior, Cadette and, eventually as a leader, I taught those same songs to my troops. "Make new friends and keep the is silver and the other's gold".

For me, Girl Scouts conjures memories of guitars, wood smoke and campouts... and singing...and s'mores. SO many memories. Memories of my Junior leader in Santa Cruz, Jackie Shea, who was a truly awesome lady. She (and her husband, Ludd, who always seemed to disappear after set up until it was time to pack up again) took us camping a lot! Most memorable was getting rained out at our big campout at McCrary Ranch when we had to tear down camp in a hurry in the middle of the night, tossing soggy sleeping bags and ground cloths in the back of a truck to be sorted out later, being dropped off at home well after dark. Guitars were as required as s'more fixins in those days so, whether campfire or trip in the car, we played and sang. We cooked hobo stew in little foil pouches over the coals. We had mess kits and dunk bags. We roasted marshmallows for s'mores. I was the master at french toast and I cooked a lot of it over the fire. We never slept in tents but under the stars and I woke many a morning to the squawk of a Stellar Jay. SO many memories built in that troop and riding through the redwoods on a chilly morning will bring back those memories quicker than anything. Did I mention, we sold Girl Scout cookies?

Our "Troops Own Badge" was a butterfly badge which, among other requirements, involved tagging monarch butterflies at Natural Bridges Beach. With my new-found interest in photographing headstones, I often remember our regular trek to maintain the gravesite of Louden Nelson, a former slave and pioneer in Santa Cruz educational history. We would climb the hill in Evergreen Cemetery which at the time was sorely neglected, and cut brush and pull weeds. I also remember wandering the rows and, every year, visiting one particular grave of a small child whose headstone was ornately-carved marble..was it a lamb? Or a baby carriage? I just remember visiting her each time we were there. Again, something in my world that began with Girl Scouts and probably the reason cemeteries fascinate rather than frighten me. I bridged (did we Bridge in those days?) from Juniors into Cadettes and a troop led by Dolores Pound where I continued to gather memories of camps and outings. Whenever I have the chance to trudge down a dirt trail, recognizing miner's lettuce and avoiding poison oak, I realize how much I learned through those years.

I took those memories forward when I became a leader to Monica's troop in Nevada. I joined with her leader, Audrey Frazee for a bit and, among other things, we planted trees at a new neighborhood park and we led a neighborhood trash cleanup for Earth Day. I like to think that we introduced those girls to interests and opportunities just as Jackie Shea and Dolores Pound did for my peers. And we sold Girl Scout cookies.

Velynda Wiley and I took on that troop after they Bridged into Juniors. Already friends, both having come from active Junior troops, we couldn't wait to share it ALL. We made stuff. We sang songs. We went places. She and I went to leader trainings and learned MORE songs and more stuff to teach our charges (Girl Scout leaders in "training" mode is a high-energy weekend!) High point had to be loading our entire platoon into her Camaro and my Volvo and making the six-hour trip from Minden to Sacramento to Sutter's Fort and the Zoo to do work on three badges. I would wager the girls STILL talk about Living History Day at the Fort. A hundred and five degrees, standing in front of the beehive oven watching the woman in the long wool dress shovel wood to bake her bread, gave us all an appreciation for the niceties in our world. There were the unruly trio of mountain men who ask how much we wanted for "the tall blonde one" and the shocked settlers who wondered why we were running around in our "bloomers". After we got into the spirit of the period we were experiencing, it was easy to blame the lack of skirts on "the mountain men". Knowing nods followed.

Velynda and I experienced our own camp rainout when we were preparing couscous and kebobs for a Greek exploration, to be shared with the parents due anytime, and it began to rain. Then it began to hail. By the time we loaded soggy gear into cars and got the girls home, we were soaked. Girl Scout traditions come in funny places! And we sold Girl Scout cookies.

When we moved to Humboldt and Hope was small, and her troop was in need of leaders. I helped with her Daisy and Brownie troops. Our cultural food explorations for World Friendship Day were legend - try making gnocchi or baklava with twenty Brownies! As she advanced into Juniors, I once-again joined with the leader Cathy Martin, and we began to set our sites on the dream pilgrimage to Savannah, birthplace of Juliette Gordon Lowe. We plotted and planned the trip as badge work and we sold Girl Scout cookies like we NEVER sold them before. Once there, we visited Juliette's grave and many of the homes and buildings prominent in Girl Scout history. We tried on hoop skirts and learned to serve tea as Juliette would have. My life as a Girl Scout came full circle.
And this year, Girl Scouts celebrate a century of celebrating girls. And teaching girls. Honoring girls. Encouraging girls to be strong and to do anything they want to do. Hopefully, someday the girls in those troops will write something like this blog because they have become leaders because THEY remember the fun they had in OUR troops. Here's hoping you bought enough cookies so you don't run out of Thin Mints too soon and so that Girl Scouts will continue to teach strong girls in our community.

"Day is done...gone the sun...from the lake, from the hills, from the sky.... "