Thursday, March 29, 2012

Remembering Daddy

In 1975, he worked part-time "to earn pocket money
and get a little bit of exercise".
When I was 19, I visited the Philippines with Daddy. I saw where both Daddy and Mama came from—the barrio of Bactad in the province of Pangasinan. I, who was born in the United States, did not feel like I finally found home.

Ten years later, I visited Hawaii for the first time. Immediately, I knew I was home. The smell. The feel. The taste.

Hawaii was where Daddy lived for a quarter of his century. His youth, his coming into middle-age, his single life. There, in Hawaii, in the sugarcane fields, the streets of Honolulu. There, he lived away from family, independent and free.

Daddy was one of the many young Filipino men who signed a three-year contract to work on Hawaiian plantations. His year to leave home was 1928. A young, handsome man of 23 years. What was it like for him? I cannot even begin to imagine.

His plan was to go back home after his contract was up. But he had made little money after three years. Also, he said, his girlfriend had married someone else. There was no use to go back home. Yet.

Thirty-five years after Daddy finally left Hawaii,  I took my first trip there. As I stood in the sugarcane fields on the Big Island, I thought of my father.  I could sense Daddy and his compadres bending low with their machetes, grabbing the sugarcane, and whacking away at their ends.  As I drove by houses with corrugated tin roofs, I realized where Daddy's choice of building materials came from. Not the Philippines, but Hawaii. Kauai, Oahu, Molokai, Maui. Those are the only islands I heard him mention as I was growing up.

Daddy told me a story about one early morning in December of 1941. His cousin was cutting his hair in their kitchen. In the quiet of the morning, he heard the far away sound of airplanes growing louder. Then  Boom! Boom! Boom! Daddy urged his cousin to finish up quickly so they could go see what all the noise was near the harbor.

A few months later, Daddy told me, he was hanging out with a friend in a park. "Bye and bye," he said, "many Filipino men were running towards some trucks and jumping on. They were all joining the army. My friend sad, 'Hurry, Hurry." So, Daddy ran and jumped into the U.S. Army.

His cousin, the one who cut his hair that December 7th, had no idea whether Daddy was dead or alive.  Twenty-five years later, Daddy reunited with his cousin during our visit to the Philippines. His cousin said ,as he wiped away his tears, "Why didn't you write?"

After Daddy got out of the army, now a U.S. citizen, he had saved enough money to go to the mainland and live with his younger brother, Uncle Frank, in Hollister. Daddy was homesick for family. About a year later, Daddy decided to go to the Philippines. I don't know whether it was just to visit or to return permanently. A few days into his stay, he met and fell instantly in love with Mama. They married. A year later, they had a son. Daddy realized before the baby was born that he had to return to the United States. Opportunities in the U.S. would be much better for his family  than in the Philippines. So, a few weeks after my brother was born, Daddy was on his way back to United States. It took him several months to earn passage for Mama and Junior.

In all that he did, Daddy never looked back. At least, he made it seem that way.

© 2012 Su-sieee! Mac. All rights reserved.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Remembering. . .What?

Some days are better than others when it comes to my memory.

Who am I kidding? It's really down to moments.

Once upon a time, a long time ago, when I was 17, I memorized all of Horton Hears a Who! by Dr. Seuss for a public-speaking competition. I recall stumbling once or twice. Maybe trice. Ah, I had a strong memory back then.

My long-term memory is still rather good. I just related a tale from over 40 years ago, didn't I?

It's the short-term memory. Sigh. The other day, I was telling the Husband how many states allow employers to pay their workers who receive tips far less than minimum wage, as long as the combination of their tips and hourly rate (let's say $2.13/hour) totals up to either the federal or state minimum wage, whichever is the higher amount in the state. Yes, I know. The Husband could not believe it either. I'm glad to say that California does not have that law. I told the Husband that I learned all this from research I had done the day before for the occupational profile I had written. But, I couldn't for the life of me remember what the occupation was. That was quite troublesome, you betcha.

That incident happened at around 2 p.m. in a supermarket parking lot. About five hours later, while I was pulling ingredients out of the refrigerator to make dinner, it suddenly came to me. Skycaps! That was the occupation.

And, since we're on the subject of skycaps, did you know that some airlines are now charging passengers $2 a bag for using skycap service? The bummer part about that is the money does not go to the skycaps. Passengers think it does, so they don't tip the skycaps for their help. Thank goodness for federal minimum wage. Currently that is $7.25 per hour. California's minimum wage is $8.00 per hour, which is one of the highest hourly rates for a state. Can you believe that some people believe that the federal minimum wage is just too high? Seriously. Some politicians want to abolish minimum wage because it will create more jobs. They obviously don't live on minimum wage.

I have digressed. What was I talking about?

Thursday, March 22, 2012


You, liberals, want the government to give everything away for free.


You want free sex and free rock-and-roll!


Tickets to rock-and-roll shows cost too much for my budget.

As for sex. Pay for it? You're kidding. Right?

Ah, if only I had been more nimble minded to think of these answers not four decades ago, but just several weeks past. The funny thing was that the person who said it was not someone from an older generation. Unless, hmmm, I count my generation, which is now an older one.  

A night out means wearing my dancing shoes
and carrying my fancy old-lady purse, which was free. Oh, no!

Monday, March 19, 2012

Randomly Yours

Spring? Winter? I dunno.

We're finally getting rain. Lots of rain. Plenty of rain. We may have a lousy apricot crop though. That's okay. We have several bags of frozen apricot form last year's harvest.

Yesterday, the husband and I went out for a walk. After two days of being indoors, because of the lovely rain,  our bodies were shouting "Exercise, Pu-leese!"

The rain had stopped. The sky was blue. The wind was strong. And, bitingly cold. I complained, of course. "You'll warm up. Walk fast," said the husband, stretching ahead of me.

I kept my head down and let the wind zig and zag me as I walked. I pretended I was a kite.

By the time we reached our goal, we were both game to go a further distance to return home. I'm glad we did. We would not have known that there was snow on the mountain range to the east. Nothing like all-of-a-sudden treats.

Have a wonderful week, dear readers.

It may look like white clouds just above the mountain ridge. But, they are not. Snow!

© 2012 Su-sieee! Mac. All rights reserved.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Growing Mushrooms

Last week, the husband and I bought a grow-your-own mushroom kit from Bertuccio's Market, one of our local produce stores. As you can see the kit is a very compact package. It's also very easy to take care of, as long as I remember to spritz the slits after breakfast and then again in the evening as the husband washes the dinner dishes.

Five days later—so far, so good. Little bumps are starting to burst forth.

The mushroom kit is produced by Back to the Roots, a company based in Oakland, California. According to the instructions, the kit should produce 1.5 pounds of oyster mushrooms. The first crop should appear in 10 days. After five days, I don't know about that. Maybe it means, the bumps will have grown into larger bumps and pushed their way through the bag.

We've tried growing mushrooms before, with zilch results. But, then, that was because we let the magic dry out long before we paid attention to the package. Maybe this time, it'll be different. We are, after all, a few years older  and Molly the Cat is making us (okay, me,) toe the line when it comes to doing a routine every day.

When we saw the mushroom kit at Bertuccio's Market, we didn't think about buying it for purposes of redemption. Nope. What attracted us was the fact that Back to the Roots created its kit from recycled materials. The mushrooms are growing in reused coffee grounds.  Peet's coffee grounds, in fact.

Coffee-flavored mushrooms.  Hmmmmmm. Perhaps?

Note to the FCC:  I wasn't paid nor given anything free to write about the mushroom kit. Ha!

© 2012 Su-sieee! Mac. All rights reserved.

Monday, March 12, 2012

10 Things I Did Not Know about Cats

Since Molly the Cat came into our lives, I did not know that:
  1. Cats snore.
  2. Cats sleep on their backs with their arms and legs splayed out. Yeah, just like a drunken person.
  3. Cats like to have something to eat after having been brushed.
  4. Cats don't necessarily know how nor inclined to say meow to their humans. Molly the Cat chirrups when she talks to us.
  5. Cats will wait until you clean up their litter box, then jump into it immediately and do their thing. I always thank Molly the Cat for doing it before I throw the poop bag away.
  6. Cats will suddenly race around the house after something that only they can see. They run so fast, you think you can see lines of action, such as those drawn in cartoons, extending from them as they shoot down the hallway and take the corner almost in mid air.
  7. Cats will pretend to wait for your permission to go explore that dark corner between the couches just to make you feel that you are the boss. Ha!
  8. Cats are even pickier eaters than the Mama. We have at least four opened cans of cat food (high quality, according to some self-appointed experts) that she sniffed, and looked at me, as if saying, "Are you kidding? Have you tasted this yuck?" Thank goodness, we can return the cans, opened or not, to the store for a refund. We've already brought back four cans.
  9. Cats will leave you alone while you're working on the computer late into the early morning, as long as they can sleep on the comfy chair, with the pristine pink rose brocade covering, behind you.
  10. Cats are soooooo fun to hang out with.
Of course, all that I learned may just apply to Molly the Cat. Fine with me.

© 2012 Su-sieee! Mac. All rights reserved. 

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Forging Upward and Onward

A photo I shot in 1976 in San Benito County where I was born and grew up

"You've come a long way," a fellow editor had said to me (out of the blue I might add) as three of us co-workers were eating lunch on a lovely Saturday afternoon (it could've been Sunday, but does it really matter)  many years ago.

If I had been quick on my feet, or just less shy, I would've retorted, "You came further." She, after all, had migrated from Chicago to San Francisco, while my hometown was less than a 100 miles away.

But, she wasn't talking about distance. She was referring to the fact that my parents were "uneducated" immigrants from an impoverished country who did not have a grasp on the English language, and who were only able to "achieve" farm jobs in the United States. As if all that would make a difference on their ability to do well in a new world or for their daughter to complete college and become a —gasp—professional.

After all these years, I still don't understand why my colleague said such a thing nor why she had a need to say it. Could it have been insecurity? I don't know.  I was reminded again about that moment by some of the things I've been hearing and reading lately.

© 2012 Su-sieee! Mac. All rights reserved.

Monday, March 5, 2012

In the Middle of the Night


She looked up from her bowl. As she swallowed her bite, she gazed at a shadow in front of her.

She turned to inspect the world behind her. She slowly peered beyond me for the source of the sound, and, possibly, the shadow. Feeling safe, she went back to her nightly snack.


She stopped in mid-bite and turned quickly again. Her head slightly moved as she scanned the room. I thought I saw a faint light scamper through the darkness of the nearby kitchen. I shivered.

"Ah, Molly, you're scaring me."

Molly the Cat did not reassure me. She didn't even acknowledge me. She took one last glance around the room, then turned and ate one more morsel of food.

"I'm going to bed." I said, shaking off my spooky thoughts.

Molly the Cat followed me down the hall. As I went left to go up the stairs, she went right into the dark kitchen to do whatever she does at night, while the rest of us sleep soundly, oblivious to her grand adventures—and to visiting spirits.

© 2012 Su-sieee! Mac. All rights reserved.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Staying the Course

I've been dragging my fingers across the keyboard right now, and pressing the delete button a lot. I just don't feel like writing.

So, why try, you may ask. It's not like my boss will scold me if I don't offer something up to the blog today.

Well, yes, the boss will scold me.

The boss is me.

When I started Don't be a Hippie, I committed myself to publishing a post every Tuesday and Thursday. A job commitment is a commitment, regardless of whether it's to myself or to someone else for a fee. Blogging wasn't always like that for me. It was mostly comme çi, comme ça.  But, a few years ago, I went through a rather bad bout of what I shall just call writer's block. I used the delete button and stared at a blank computer screen more than quite a lot, and that's saying it mildly. The only way to keep that from happening again is for me to meet my self-imposed deadlines. It truly helped that I made myself do a daily post for one year on my Take 25 to Hollister blog. Yes, I accomplished my goal earlier this year, thank you very much.

It also helps that the darn notebook in which I keep my to-do list is nearby.  And, to write what I must remember to do, even the fun stuff. At the moment, I have these ideas for future posts:
• Watching the Lawrence Welk Show with the Husband and the Mama
• How Molly the Cat is changing my daily routine for the positive
• Family picnics at the beach
• The Monkees

There you go, dear Readers, and there I go. Something for us to look toward (or is it towards). Maybe I'll add a post about my missing commas and wrong subject/verb agreements.

And, since I've mentioned The Monkees, check out this wonderful tribute to Davy Jones by Rob Sheffield at the Rolling Stones Web site. You'll also get to hear many of the songs that the sweet, talented Davy performed with Peter, Mickey, and Mike.

Thank you, Davy Jones!