Thursday, August 27, 2009

"Yuck" just might be the right word for it.....

I suppose my post about my feet was not exactly what anyone expected, including me.  But truth be known, I don't always....I rarely, have an agenda when I sit down and write.  I just wait and see where my fingers lead me and unfortunately for some, they lead me to the subject of feet.

So if you found it offensive, I'm sorry but the truth is, not a whole lot of people follow my blog and it's really just a place for me to express myself.  Sometimes I'm good at it and sometimes I'm not.  But it helps me to clear some of the stuff in my head and sometimes it helps me to clear things I had no idea were in my feet, for instance..."YUCK"! 

Bye Bye Beach

It looks like Saturday will be my last day on the beach, for the Summer.

For me, this really isn't that big a deal except that, this year was the first time in many that I was actually able to get and maintain a tan.  Starting with our trip to Hawaii and then quite a few days I either took Karina and her friends to the beach or we went as a family to just hang out for the day, I've been able to keep a tan.

I remember when I was in high, or middle, school, Marsha's dad would drop us off at the beach for the day.  It was a group of us girls and we'd just hang out, talk, laugh, watch the boys and do whatever it is that teen aged girls do.  It was fun and our parents felt totally comfortable leaving us there.  This year I'd planned to do the same with Karina and her friends thinking that at 15, or there abouts, they could be trusted to behave.  The other parents didn't seem to think so, so I ended up staying with them, tanning more than I already had.

This Saturday we'll be at the beach again as our church is having a beach party and to take advantage of it, we're having baptisms.  Karina has decided to be baptised too.  I'm very proud of her.  This year she went on her mission trip to New Orleans or NOLA and decided that it was time.  I decided a while back not to try to push her into the decision because I knew should would decide when it was right for her.  I'm glad I waited because now I know she isnt' doing it for anyone but herself.

So, we'll be out there on the sand partying, celebrating and eating, I'm sure.  I'm going equipped with tanning lotion because my tan is fading fast and I don't know if I'll ever have a free Summer like I have this year.  I'm not sure if I haven't found a job because as with everyone else, it's just hard right now or if it was because I just needed to have time at home with my daughter.  It's the first Summer in her life that I've ever been home with her not only through the Summer, but just this much time not working.  It was good.

As we've heard all things must end, so I'm planning on having a good time Saturday.  Celebrating the end of Summer and my daughters step into a new life.  Thank you Jesus for both!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Plantar Hyperhidrosis

For years I asked the question; why me?  And now I know I suffered from a bizarre foot thingy called Plantar Hyperhidrosis.

I've always been light on my feet and could move about without scuffing my shoes, which is not to say I could keep my feet clean because until recent years I always managed to attract every bit of dirt to stick to them.  In fact, I'd be willing to bet my dogs have cleaner feet than I have.  This is something I've had to live with since I was a pup...ahem...child.  I meant child.

I can remember playing in the back yard with the neighbor kids.  During the Summer we'd all have sandals on but it wouldn't matter much in my case, I always looked like I'd just finished a soft shoe in the dust.  Dirt just stuck to me. Partly because my feet were always wet.  They perspired so much it was embarrassing.    I recall one day in particular when us kids had finished playing in the backyard and decided to go inside and play cards.  Normally we'd all hang out at my house but that day we went to Kathie and Karen's who lived directly behind me. 

We went into the living room and sprawled out on the floor for a little game of gin rummy.  As everyone began to get comfortable the shoes began to fly off.  I turned to remove my shoes and was shocked to see the light shade of gray they had taken on.  They were filthy and I didn't know what to do with them.  I tried hiding them but where the heck you gonna hide your feet on a hot Summer's day? So there I was the only bimbo with her shoes on.  Too embarrassed that they might be dirty AND smelly.

It got worse; in my early 20's I got a job working for an optometrist and was required to wear those white nurse looking shoes everyday.  After only three weeks on the job I'd ruined my shoes by leaving water marks on the leather.  My stinkin' feet (probably literal) sweat enough to ruin the leather!

I couldn't make sense of it.  If I was meant to have wet feet, why wasn't I born with webbed toes?  At least it would make sense and if need be I could paddle my way to work on raining days.

Was this some kind of strange phenomenon? Was I supposed to be in the newspaper with photographers running after me trying to capture the dirt as it clung to me?  If you must live with something so embarrassing, shouldn't there be a way to make money off of it?

Question upon question ran though my head about why this was happening but I found no answers.  Funny thing is, I really didn't sweat anywhere else.  I took a USO (United Services Organizations) tour to the Orient with a group of actors.  The Orient can be hot and humid and as most of our traveling was on a bus we often times arrived at the appointed location with everyone on the bus drenched in sweat....well, everyone except yours truley.  I'd be dry as can be...until you got past the ankles.  The girls called me prissy, but it wasn't my fault, I'd have done anything to be a sweaty pig if it meant my feet could remain dry. Think about it, I was always scared to death I'd accidently electrocute myself.

Just so you know I'm not kidding, read this: Anyone with Plantar Hyperhidrosis who goes through an exercise, dance, or martial arts program with bare feet will leave wet spots on the floor. This will be embarrassing, but, more importantly, can be hazardous for the participant and others engaging in the activity. Falls could occur, as a result of the wet spots.

I don't remember when or how but I finally grew out of this dreaded thing and have fairly dry feet.  And all this to say, I sure could use a foot massage. Any takers?

I was cool.......I was!

Today my friend Bunny posted some "old" pictures of our group of friends from high school on Facebook. First of all, who ever thought at 50 sumpin, us girls would be communicating through FB (that's the cool thing to call it, you know) and my, OH! my, did those pictures take me back.You have to see the picture of me, really.

Could I not have picked any bigger glasses?  
Those puppies were huge.
It's no wonder they even stayed on my nose.
I remember when I finally got those glasses because it was a big ordeal.  A year earlier I'd gone to pick out glasses and of course, mom and dad went with me.  The wire rims were my first choice and mom was fine with it but dad, on the other hand, was not.  I wanted them really bad because like any other teen, I wanted to be cool but according to him they were "hippy glasses".  Now tell me, look at the picture, do I look like a hippy?  Of course not.  But to my dad, wearing, as we used to call them, "John Lennon glasses" would probably make me a pot smoking, LSD taking hippy.  You just know I would have sold my soul to the devil, had I bought those darn things.
A year fly's by and mom and I go back for my yearly eye exam. Sure enough, my prescription got stronger and darn if I didn't have to pick out a new pair of glasses.  Lucky me, dad couldn't make it and mom was a push over.......Oh yeah! John Lennon glasses, here we come!
With little or no coaxing my mom let me get them.  Mom was much cooler about that stuff than dad was.  Maybe she was like me and understood that at a certain age, especially in your teens, it's really important to feel like you fit in.  She also understood that my glasses would not change me, outside of making me cooler than I already was. Something that just could not be helped.
Well, believe it or not, I still have those glasses and you would not believe the lens on those things.  This was before the polycarbonate lens (Bunny, correct me if I'm using the incorrect terminology) so the idea that the bridge of my nose actually held them on is just crazy.  It might explain why I have little, if any, sense of smell left after toting those things around for a few years.  I was constantly pushing them back up on my nose to keep them from falling off my face.  But regardless of just how heavy they were I was cool, and that, my friends was the beginning of my coolness.  Thank you Mom.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

You can tell a lot about a man by his what?!

I Googled "you can tell a lot about man by" knowing full well the end of that statement is "the company he keeps", right? Wrong. Well, maybe not wrong but it wasn't what I expected to read. There were so many "You can tell a man by his shoes" links that I was quite surprised.

If you're old enough and from the Los Angeles area you'll remember Dillons of Westwood. Dillons was a really popular place to go dancing during the disco period. This is when people still got dressed to the nines to go out, especially if you were gonna drive 30 miles just to dance. No one went out dancing like they do now; in torn jeans and tennis shoes.

My cousin Anita and I would plan a trip to Dillons and make sure when we walked in, we were ready to dance. Oh yeah! Of course we were single and both attractive girls so one never knew if you'd find the love of your life on the dance floor...Right! Whether you thought it or not, you had to be prepared. We were both "dancers" at the time and Michael Jackson's Off the Wall was out and hot. I'd be surprised if they didn't play at least 5 or 6 of Michael's songs throughout the evening.

After dancing a few songs (those disco songs were long) we decided to take a break and found a little love seat and chair to sit and rest our weary feet. I sat on the chair and Anita on the love seat with an empty space to her left. Before long a nice looking young man sat down next to Anita and started up a conversation with her. I was left to pretend I wasn't watching, but I was. Afterall, he was cute and dressed quite nicely.

Several minutes had passed when there was a pause in their conversation and Anita leaned over and asked "did you see his shoes?". Thinking there was some obvious reason she would ask, I took a sly wait until he's not looking glance over at his shoes and wondered what it was she was referring to for as far as I could see, they were not ugly or dirty or worn and he without a doubt had not stepped in anything stinky so I shot her a glance of not understanding. She leaned back into me and said with a raised eyebrow and a grin, "they're nice". I'm sure the dumbfounded look was still on my face because she realized I needed further explanation and said in plain, clear English "You can tell a lot about a man by his shoes. His shoes are nice and really clean". Aaha, the light bulb finally went on!

Where she got the concept from I don't know and to be honest, I dont' think I'd ever considered such a thing until that night. But, she seemed to know what she was talking about. He did seem like a nice guy and if his shoes were clean, I suppose that would mean he took time to keep himself clean as well.  Wouldn't you think?

I don't recall what, if anything ever happened to Mr. Clean Shoes but I can promise you, from that evening forward I didn't hesitate to check any man's shoes.  And so what if he caught me looking, if he had any chance of making it into my future, he sure as heck better keep his shoes clean.  Because you can tell a lot about a man by his shoes. 

Aha!  Caught you looking!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

I wanna dream too

Can someone tell me if there's something wrong with me because I just can't remember my dreams. Or is it that I don't dream?

My husband remembers everything he dreams about and can recall an entire dream step by step, word for word. When they're worth repeating or make an impact on him, he recounts the ENTIRE dream to me. Some mornings he follows me around the house while I get ready for work to tell me the darn thing. It used to be he would go into the bathroom as I applied my make-up to tell me what he dreamed but if I stood there to listen to everything he'd make me late for work so I had to keep moving, asking him to follow me as he talks and talks and talks. Yes, really.

Being a musician, sometimes he dreams original songs. In other words, he writes dreams in his sleep. So a long time ago I purchased a small tape recorder and when he has those dreams, he wakes up, goes into another room with his little recorder and sings the lyrics so as not to forget. Is that incredible or what?

Karina, our 15 year old, has the same ability. One dream she had took two days to recall. I must tell you that I just couldn't take the entire dream in one day. The kid tried my patience as I listened to the first part. I really wanted to say "enough is enough already" but I didn't have the heart to crush her "dream". So I asked if maybe she could continue the following day so that I could get a few things done. Do you think she forgot? Heck no! The next day she asked if she could finish but of course she needed to recap the darn thing so that I would remember where we left off. Why couldn't I lie and say I knew exactly where we were, why?!

I've tried remembering mine and must admit there have been a few times when I do. Somehow they just don't seem all that exciting. I forget too many of the bits and pieces so they seem so abstract. How do you build excitement when telling something that only has bits and pieces to it. Maybe if I told someone who's a bit out of touch with reality it would make sense and be funny even. But to the average person, what's so good about a dream you can't even tell in it's entirety.

I know, I know.....keep a notepad near your bed and when you wake up start writing....I've heard all that before. Doesn't help. I still can't remember a darn thing. The pad will sit there and collect dust, I assure you. Not only that, the stupid pad is just a reminder that I must have fallen into a coma and never made it to REM.

Read this: REM sleep is when dreams occur. We have 3 to 5 REM periods per night. They occur at intervals of 1-2 hours apart and are quite variable in length, ranging from 5 minutes to over an hour. REM sleep is characterized by rapid, low-voltage brain waves, irregular breathing and heart rate and involuntary muscle jerks. About 80% of sleep is NREM sleep. If you sleep 7-8 hours a night, all but maybe an hour and a half is spent in dreamless NREM sleep.

So does this mean that I don't have the benefit of muscle jerks? What! I'm being robbed of low-voltage brain waves, irregular breathing and heart rate. These people have me all wrong because my entire sleep seems to be spent in NREM. Obviously when they did their research they didn't study anyone like me or those percentages would not be in print as they are.

I wanna know who I can go to with my story. Do you think Oprah cares? I know she'd send me to Dr. Oz who's really a wizard in disguise anyway. What could he do about it! Send me to Dr. Phil? He's certainly not gonna care, he's not even friends with Oprah anymore.

I may as well come to terms with the whole thing and thank God for those few dreams of flying I had as a teenager and memories of my flamenco dreams. I still have the sheets I kicked my heels through as a reminder of my very few REM nights. I'll be forced to live vicariously through my husband and daughters dreams. I have no dreams of my own.

I suppose this should be a letter to Dear Abby or whoever is solving dilemmas these days. There's got to be an answer for my dreamless nights. And don't tell me to sleep with a potato between my toes or some old wives tale like that. If you give me any advice on how to achieve my dream, please, please don't make it anything to do with a vegetable or animal. Ok, maybe garlic but eggplant is out of the question!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

The best drink in town

If you've read the blog about my father, "Shhh don't tell them you speak Spanish", you won't be surprised by this story.

I can't remember a time when there weren't parties at our house. Maybe because my father had 8 siblings and was used to being surrounded by people or maybe it was simply because he just loved parties. I'm not sure what the reason, I only know parties were a huge part of my childhood.

Although I was raised Catholic, as were my Mother and Father, dad landed a job working for a Jewish temple. As we were not raised with prejudice it made no difference to me where he worked or who with and it didn't to him either. He loved people and didn't care what their background. All he asked was respect. If you respected him, he immediately considered you a friend.One of the benefits of dad's working for the temple was that he frequently brought home kosher pickles. I so looked forward to weddings and bar mitzvah's, not that I attended any, oh no. Mom and Dad would go frequently because although my father was an employee at the temple, everyone loved him and invited him to their events. So while mom and dad dressed up and went out for an evening of fun and dancing, I stayed home and waited for the food to arrive. And it was through the temple events that dad made friends with the caterers and learned to make hors d'oeuvres. This was a good thing for a man who loved to have parties and as his kids, it meant we too would learn how to make the hors d'oeuvres, like it or not.

Dad would come up with a new excuse to have a party and then say "we're" gonna make the food"; which was always followed by an audible "Ohhhh" because to us, it meant hours in the kitchen making hors d'oeuvres.

Yes, parties were what we did and I recall one particular party when the "Host with the Most" would stoop to be a sneak in order to prove a point.

One weekend a family friend came to visit and the subject of alcohol came up. They began to talk about their favorite drinks, how they liked them mixed and who could mix a good drink.

Dad had long before built a bar in our back family room. It was a great looking bar and if you didn't know better, sitting there gave you the feeling that you'd stepped into a establishment. My Uncle Joe upholstered this L shaped bar, approximately 8 feet in length with a little swinging door so as not to use your hands when delivering drinks on a tray. Seriously. Behind the bar were cabinets with mirrors and lines of bottles and mixes. There you could find just about anything you needed for any drink.

So as the two sat and talked about their favorite drinks, this family friend made the mistake of telling dad that he only drank Chivas Regal and could tell it from any other scotch. Big Boo Boo. Dad loved a challenge. I could see the wheels spinning. There was a slight squinting of the eyes, the side glance, the arched eye brow and then as if it never happened he continued on with the conversation moving into world politics, the neighborhood and child rearing.

Two weeks later, we were in full steam ahead preparation for another party, whatever it was, we needed to celebrate. We're in the kitchen making hors d'oeuvres when here comes dad with an empty bottle of Chivas Regal. Thinking he was about to throw the bottle in the trash I watched in surprise as he placed it on the table next to a brown paper bag. If you haven't' already figured it out, he then pulled a bottle of some off brand scotch out of the bag and began to fill the Chivas Regal bottle with it's contents. What!? "Why you doing that da" I began to ask but before I could finish, that look from two weeks prior; the slightly squinted eyes and arched eyebrow were back. Finger pursed to lips and a shhhhh, was all the response I got.

He finished filling the bottle, wiped it up one side and down the other and then carefully walked it down to the den and placed it smack dab in the middle of all the other bottleson the bar. Pretty as can be.

Later that evening as the guests begin to pour in, dad stands behind the bar in anticipation of the arrival of our family friend. I can almost see him drooling at the thought of proving his point, but he's determined to pull this one off and maintains his "Host with the Most", not a care in the world attitude, serving drinks, swapping hugs, jokes and laughter all at once. The party is on and the cat is in the bag.

Soon enough our friend arrives and as if scripted to do so he plops himself down right on the middle stool of the bar. Although I'm sure he's seen him, dad manages to avoid eye contact for a few minutes as if preparing for the task at hand. After a few moments he turns and greets our friend as if he's just seen him and of course asks the question of the evening "what can I get you to drink?". Without hesitation our friend answers, what else but "Chivas Regal". Dad quickly responds "as if I didn't know...Let me see" and then as if he has no idea where it might be found he scans the bottles with a pointed finger until at last it is found. He grasps the bottle and turns the cap as if opening the bottle for the first time and then without concern of insulting our guest he pours the ever precious golden liquid into one of our regular whiskey glasses. Ohhh the gall!
Dad places the glass before our friend and then goes about his business of wiping the bar down while mingling with our guests all the while cocking one eye toward our friend to capture the inevitable question. Friend picks up the glass and drinks and then turns to another guest with whom he exchanges the regular "how's the family, bet the kids are getting big" routine. Nothing. No comment. No distortion of the face. No Nothing!

I know my father was waiting for something to happen; a slight look of doubt or question but nothing happens. The entire evening passes and not once does any question arise as to odd or peculiar difference in this bottle of Chivas Regal.

My dad is overjoyed with his win. So much so that he decides not to let our friend in on the joke. In fact, that same bottle remained in our bar for many months and was replaced only now and again when our friend, out of common courtesy would show up with a new bottle only to have dad repeat the same process time and again. It was our little secret and remained to be for as long as my dad was alive. The "Host with the Most" proved his point and never said a word to our friend. He did, however, save a ton of money by buying that less expensive Scotch and I can assure you the money saved was put toward an never before tried tantalizing, finger licking hors d'oeuvre. Ever had cocktail wieners with bacon wrap and a slice of pineapple? Ooooh...Party anyone?

Friday, August 14, 2009

Potty Mouth!

Last year sometime through a telemarketing call I made, I got back in contact with a friend from College. It was a great surprise and a joyful reunion. This is a friend who I did shows with and drove to and from many parties with. We spent hours talking about everything and anything, planned an annual Christmas party, wrote 10 minute scripts, ate at Marie Calendar's frequently, roomed together during much of our USO tour and I'm quite certain we shed many tears together.

I must say, we were an odd pair, we two. From entirely different backgrounds. She, middle class White, and I, middle class Hispanic. Her family college educated, mine....not. It didn't seem to matter what our backgrounds, we got along well.

At some point we lost touch. I'd have to say it was probably more my doing than hers. I went through a rough period and just seemed to take flight. After many years of flying my feet finally touched ground and I suppose as all things happen for a reason, there I was on a telemarketing call leaving a message for the voice on the other end.

As it turned out, that voice returned my call to say "this is Cynthia Snyder, returning your call". I quickly looked at my list of contacts and saw that this Cynthia Snyder person was doing business in Whittier, not far from where I was working. I thought to myself "could it be?", so I asked "is this Cynthia Snyder who attended Rio Hondo College because if it is, this is Marie". Of course I had to go through my alias' because by this time I had been married, divorced and married again. But there we were, two old friends making a connection through of all things a telemarketing call.

Yesterday, as I strolled through the grocery store, I overheard two girls talking. The foul language which fumed from their mouths did not for one second do justice to their good looks. And that is what brings us to my story today. I am about to share with you a quick little diddy of how Cynthia and I once found ourselves in the same predicament.

We (Cynthia and I) were attending Rio Hondo College and in the middle of rehearsals for student directed Kurt Weill musical review. A young man, who I will call Paul (not the director, Paul), was brought in to fill a part. He was good looking, charming, played piano, sang and was beyond witty. The Frank Sinatra type but much, much better looking.....or maybe it was just that he was there in front of us, within reach that we found him so attractive. Either way, he seemed to have the whole package going on.

We soon found ourselves completely enthralled and became his biggest fans. If he cracked a joke I'm sure we laughed even if we didn't get it (although, he was very witty). He did have one slight flaw. He cursed beyond control. It first came as a shock, then entertaining and then quite acceptable because he was afterall, the comedian. And don't comedians have a right to cuss.

Well, as time went on, the cast of this show became very close, as many do. We ate together, drove together and played together. The only thing we didn't do was sleep far as I know. We hung out before and after rehearsals well as on our days off. We began to act like each other and my dear friends that includes language habits. Oh, yes. The nasty stuff began to flow from both mine and Cynthia's mouths. It was terrible but somehow we didnt' see it coming until McDonalds.

Cynthia and I had gone to McDonalds on the way to or from.....I don't know where. I just remember that we were hungry and were driving down Washington Boulevard in the City of Commerce and we parked and walked into Micky D's. We placed our order and then sat down for a quiet bite to eat. As usual we were chatting away when it suddenly occurred to me that we both had become the most trashy mouthed young women ever! It was as if a brick hit me square in the forehead and opened my eyes. I think I froze for a moment and then said something like "Cynthia! Listen to us." I'm not sure she caught on immediately but I recall bringing to her attention the language we were using and then blaming Paul. I did. I blamed Paul. We were shocked to find that we had taken on Paul's characteristics and could not recall when or where it happened. It just did.

That day we vowed to clean up our act and become clean spoken young ladies. I'm certain there was a time or two when we slipped but as any smoker can tell you, it takes a while to become a habit and longer yet to break it.

As I sit here today, I can say that I no longer curse. It doesn't mean that I haven't had days when I did, and I even sometimes think bad words, I just chose not to say them aloud. Having children cleaned my act up immediately. And now that I've made my "True confessions of a one time bad girl", I feel cleansed. Renewed. Free of that terrible, terrible habit.

It is true when they say that friends can have a bad influence on you. And although I will not allow my children to use that as an excuse for things they do, I can! It was, after all, Paul's fault.

One paragraph at a time

So, I'm frustrated. I'm sure it isn't the first or last time you'll hear me say it but, I am. It's really not that big a deal considering I'm blessed to have a computer at all. And when I think back to, what, 10/15 years ago, not all that many people had home computers. Or did they?

So I sit here looking at the clock knowing any time soon my husband could arrive. I'm glad he will but at the same time, I'll probably have to stop what I'm doing, regardless of what I'm typing and let it wait until later because he has work to do. Thank you Jesus for the work, but what if I'm on a roll. What if I'm writing something that takes me beyond just an hour or two to write?

Okay, so I'm not a paid writer and nothing terrible will happen if I must stop writing. But, I don't want to stop. Sometimes it just feels good, doesn't it? Like the blog I wrote about 1,095 Forks seriously, when I began writing that day, I had absolutely no idea what it was I would write. And now as I re-read it, I'm still not sure I had any idea of what I was writing, but you get my point don't you. Sometimes it just feels good to write and express ourselves no matter how ridiculous or how passionate the piece may be. It's an outlet, and we all need an outlet.

I suppose I just need a good laptop. One that I can carry around wherever I go. Stop for a cup of coffee and write. Take lunch; write. Run to the doctors office; write. Well there it is, the answer clear and simple. Do you think if I appeal to my husband he'll just run out and buy me one? Me either. Well, until I get that good paying job, I just may have to continue this game of on again, off again writing. It's better than nothing but I'm gonna keep on dreaming anyway.

Oh, oh...there he is now. Write to you later.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

In The Good Old Summer Time

In the good old summertime, in the good old summertime.
Strolling through the shady lanes with your baby mine.
You hold her hand, and she holds yours,
and that's a very good sign.
That she's your tootsie-wootsie,
in the good old summertime.

This song was published way before I was even thought of (1902 -, but it was one I remember hearing as a kid. Probably because it was used, as the title song for the 1949 musical by the same name starring Judy Garland and Van Johnson. And no, I was not born in 1949. Close, but not quite (six years later).

I actually started singing it today because my daughter is dog sitting and one of the dogs is named Tootsie. Every time I say the name I hear "In the good old summertime" in my head. You know how the mind works; you see something and although it registers as what it is, your mind takes you somewhere else and before you know it you're shaking your head in an attempt to return to reality.

I remember planning a break-in years ago, to the company I worked for because swipe cards were being installed so that employees could access the building within normal working hours. I received the email informing us of the installation and in my little cubicle, while working on setting up a program, my mind took me from reading the email to determining when I could swipe and how long it would take me to enter the building, grab what I wanted and then leave before the PoPo showed up. I caught myself mid-thought and felt like a criminal for even thinking of such behavior. I nearly turned myself in. And there you are, another case of the mind taking over. I just went to another place and time while sitting here at my computer. The mind is a powerful thing, isn't it.

So today, as I sang "In the good old summertime" I was transported back to when life was simpler. Less stressful. More innocent. My childhood. Yes, at 54, I can still remember. It's almost like yesterday, with a slight blur.

I've often wished we had the benefit of video like our kids have. If we had, I'd show them what we did when I was a kid. Every Summer, without fail, we'd spend time in the backyard. A whole day in the backyard was typical, especially on weekends. The family whose home was behind our house had five kids. The first was older than my oldest brother and the last was younger than my younger sister. That family moved into their house shortly after my parents purchased ours so us kids grew up together.

When the weekend rolled around while us kids hung out doing whatever it is kids did in those days, our parents would gather at the back gate. Now the gate was installed so that we had easier access to each others yards since we did spend so much time together. However, soon after the installation Mrs. neighbor put a lock and chain on the gate. She claimed to have put it there so that we would stop going back and forth so much. I know, I know; it makes absolutely no sense at all but there it was. So instead of either set of parents coming or going, they'd sit at the back gate; literally pull up their chairs and sit. Strange as it may sound, it was a good time.

A radio would be on somewhere close by with anything from the Dodgers game to Mariachi in the background of the conversation. And it never took long before a beer for the gents or a soda for the ladies would appear. Once the music started it was just a matter of time before Mr. neighbor would sing the one and only song I think he ever learned "Sonora Querida" and with that there was always the possibility of a dog or two joining in soon thereafter. Of course there was always crackers and those God awful sardines. Every once in a while Mr. neighbor would make his specialty Clams, chili and V8 or something of that nature. I remember him making me taste that stuff; I never fully recovered from the rubbery chew I experienced that day.

Every now and then Mr. & Mrs. neighbor would actually climb over the fence to join us on the patio. Most times it was because we either got to a point where we needed real food or because someone else would show up at our house. Often times it was my Aunt Grace and Uncle Joe because they were at our house almost as much as Mr. & Mrs. neighbor were and even though Mr. & Mrs. neighbor were not related, they somehow thought they were. I don't think we could have convinced them otherwise unless we had a notary sign some kind of documentation stating such. They even baptized one of my cousins that's how much a part of our family they became.

I so often think of those days especially now, Summertime. I think of Burrito and Speedy Gonzales, Mr. & Mrs.' Chihuahua and Desert Turtle. I think of our Avocado, Apricot and Plum trees. The trees that if your branches hung into the neighbors yard, they had free access to the fruit even though none of their trees hung into our yard. And I think of my sister Michele and our matching turquoise and white tent dresses. Ahhh, the good times. The bare feet, the cutoff shorts, the dough boy pools, salamanders and Dirt! We definitely played in the dirt; even the girls.

I know every generation says it but here goes...."times were much simpler". And communication was better because you actually saw people face to face more often and Summer time was a perfect excuse to hang out in the back yard. Wow! I never realized until now just how much I miss that back yard.

Juan Carlos and I decided to drive by the house the other day, even though it was a little out of the way for us. I'd seen it before but was saddened to see that my favorite tree in the whole world had been cut down from the front yard. As for the rest of the house (the outside anyway), it looked good. It's painted light yellow now. I so wished I could knock on the door and ask if I could look around for just a bit.

Yes, the house holds memories of the good old summertime but as it's been said "it's only a house, the memories are what we hold in our heart and that goes with us every where".

Monday, August 3, 2009

Shhh...Don't tell them you speak Spanish... just yet!

My father, Daniel A. Leonard the 4th, was quite a handsome man when he was young; the Clark Gabel type. Of course, being a girl, I always thought my daddy was a looker and could totally understand why my mother at a her young age decided he was the guy for her. Remember, that was back in the day when a couple met and fell in love all in one day.

I think that if you're blessed with looks, somehow, even if you are humble, you know you're blessed. My dad never came out and said he thought he was good looking, except when he talked about his feet; he loved to annoy us by telling us he had beautiful feet which is another story altogether. On several occasions I recall him telling the story of a time when he, a young service man, was making his way back home to see my mother.

He was in the army, in his early 20's and on a short leave. He'd taken a train about as far as he could and then started hoofing it. Walking along an agricultural area it soon began to sprinkle. When the light sprinkle turned into a heavy rain he quickly decided it was time to hitch a ride. Walking backward he stuck out his thumb and prayed his ride would quickly come along. He caught glimpse of a bus approaching and hoped it might be his lucky break; he was right. The bus stopped and opened its doors directly in front of him. By this time it was raining so hard he'd held his head in a downward position to keep the water from getting into his eyes. He had no idea what kind of bus he was boarding or what the passengers inside were like.

Seconds after he hit the top step he wiped his eyes and looked up to find before him a bus full of woman who had been picking in the fields. Since all the seats were full he kept his place at the front of the bus holding on to a pole and front seat guard. The snickers began almost immediately and it took little time for him to realize that the women spoke only Spanish.

As you can see by his photo, my father was quite fair. Our family's background is an interesting one. Our last name Leonard has been spelled a number of ways through the years, as my brother Rusty (Daniel A. Leonard the 5th) found while researching our genealogy . We're still not sure where exactly but it seems our family is from Europe somewhere, thus the less then Mexican looks and the fair skin.

So, my father finds himself in an interesting position. He knows he could immediately respond to their chatter by simply saying "Buenos Dias" but of course that might prove to put an end to the fun. You see, these women who are sure a, excuse the expression, "white boy" has just climbed on board are very interested and expressive about what they think of him. It begins by "hay, ese es para mi", "que bello", "las cosas que puedo hacer yo, con el" and "que lastima que no soy mas jovencita", meaning: "that one is for me", "he's beautiful", "the things I could do with him" and "what a shame I'm not younger" for starters.

As dad told it, it took every ounce of him to keep from smiling or laughing out loud. But I suppose a young man in his twenties would find all this talk more than amusing. This here ladies is a boost to the male ego. Can you imagine? Women of every shape, size and age giggling and talking dreams of having you? It was a little piece of heaven for him....well, maybe not the heaven we know...but a mans heaven.

Well, the talk and giggling went on until dad reached his stop and time to say his farewell. The bus stopped, my father turned to leave and then as the thought occured to him he paused and said "quien me quiere primero?", "who wants me first?". He waited long enough to see the look of surprise turn the entire bus into hysterics and then turned and departed his little piece of heaven. He said that as the bus drove away he could hear the laughing and screaming until the bus was far down the road.

So next time someone begins to speak of you in a language they've assumed you don't understand, you might want to wait just a little. Who knows what you'll find out.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Not much to say except

Watch this clip. It takes her a little while to get started
but it's worth the wait.