Tuesday, April 30, 2013

The Zealous Army Volunteer

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The Daddy lived in Honolulu, Hawaii when World War II began. He was getting his hair cut the morning that Pearl Harbor was bombed on December 7, 1941. (I write about that here.) In April, 1942, he signed up for the U.S. Army.

It was a Sunday afternoon. The Daddy was hanging out with a friend in Ala Moana Park. 

"Compadre, let's join the army," his friend said, seeing the army recruiting truck parked nearby. "I'm going now."

“You go yourself,” the Daddy answered, thinking about how good the wages had become. He was making a dollar an hour. "I'm working tonight."

“I’m going” his friend said.

“Go ahead.” 

His friend ran to the truck and jumped on. The Daddy watched as more men jumped onto the truck. Soon, another truck stopped and parked. More men ran and jumped onto that truck. Before he realized it, the Daddy ran and jumped on the second truck, too. 

Said the Daddy:  
They took us to the camp. They gave us clothes. After they fed us, they had us exercise in the park.
Every morning, exercise. After a week of exercising, we went to the doctor. 
Then, there was an order from the mayor. All the men from the (sugar cane) plantations had to go back. They took us all to the headquarters. They said, “Everything that we had given you, all clothes and equipment, goes back to  Supply.” We returned everything.
As the Daddy and the other men filed out the door, an army official said, "Wait! Let me call and find out if everyone has to leave." The official soon came back and informed the men that only those living on the plantations had to leave. The residents of Honolulu were required to stay.

Pronounced the Daddy:
 I said to myself when it became hard, “I should’ve run.” The training was hard. Tiring.
The Daddy is sitting in the middle row. He's the third soldier from the left.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Yes, Yeah, Yep.

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". . .We have no bananas. We have no bananas today. . . ."

I like that song a lot. It was written for a Broadway revue in 1922 and became a hit the following year for Eddie Cantor, according to Wikipedia. I first heard it in an old-time cartoon that I saw on TV when I was a kid. I love those cartoons from the 1930s and 1940s. They introduced me to old ditties such as "Yes! We have no bananas." and "Mairzy Doats and Dozey Doats" as well as classical and jazz music. Today, cartoons will flash through my mind when I suddenly hear certain classical or jazz songs.


So, here we are—the letter "Y". Tomorrow, Zeee. The next day, zzzzzzzz! on the blog. Just kidding. Maybe.

As I'm writing this post, I hear in the near distance the sound of seals barking.  Yawp, yawp, yawp! But, here's the thing. I live about 25 miles from the ocean, if I was a crow.

Halfway through the A to Z Blogging Challenge, Rhonda at Dizzy Stir nominated me for the Liebster Award, which I happily accepted. Here's the link about the award and who I nominated in turn. One of the tasks for accepting the award was to think up 11 questions to ask my nominees. It's only fair that I answer my own questions. Yep, it is. So, now I shall.
  1. What was the fifth fun trip that you have taken?
    A cross-country trip during the summer of 1975. Once college finals were done, a girlfriend and I hopped into my lovely little yellow box of a car and drove from San Francisco to New York and back again. We were on the road for about two months. My only regret is that I didn't take photos. I was working with little more than $250 in cash. Thank goodness, the Daddy let me use his gas card.
  2. Name one children's book that you think all adults ought to read and take to heart.  
    "When We Were Very Young" by A. A. Milne
  3. What do you think is one of the worse movies or TV shows ever made?
    Brady Bunch, but, yet, I watched it.
  4. What fairy tale character do you identify with the most?
    Fiona, the wife of Shrek. 
  5. What actor would you want to portray you in a movie about your life?
    Kathy Bates
  6. Imagine you've just finished writing a book. What's the title? 
    So, You Think You Want to Have a Cat
  7. What do you like the most about blogging?
    Being able to write about anything I feel like writing.
  8. What has been the most delicious food or dish you've ever eaten?
    Fried chicken cooked by the Daddy.
  9. When you were a kid, what age did you think was really old?
    One hundred! What did I know.
  10. Which would you rather be: a dictator, a DMV clerk, or a miner?
    A miner who owns the mine. Once I've struck gold or whatever it is I'm mining, that's it for me. 
  11. When was the last time you stopped and smelled the roses?
    Saturday. I was carrying Molly the Cat and as we passed by some of the Mama's roses, Molly told me to stop. She put her nose up to the roses and took a whiff.
    I did, too.
Here, again, are my nominees for the Liebster Award. If you haven't checked them out yet, well, what are you waiting for?

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Turn Right at the Xerox Machine

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This post was originally written on September 23, 2010 and published on my previous blog, This and That. Here and There. Now, Sometimes Then.

A Special 23rd Date

Fourteen years ago, about the same time as I'm writing this, I'm getting food ready for the next day's festivity. Getting married to the husband, it was.

Fourteen years ago, about an hour or so from now, I will have finally laid down beside a very anxious husband-to-be. He would be so anxious, he would not be able to sleep. And, that would mean I would not get to sleep.

"We can still call it off," I will have said.

"No, we can't," he will have replied.

"Yes, we can."

"No, we can't. People are coming."

"We can call them up first thing in the morning."

"No, we can't."

"Yes, we can."

"You've already made the food."

"I can put it in the freezer."

"We don't have to get married," I will have said.

"We already got the license," he will have replied.

"Do you want to marry me?"

"Yes, I do."

"What's the problem?"

"You'll write about this exact moment in a blog one day."

Okay, the husband didn't say that last thing. Of course, we didn't say what I wrote word for word, but as memory serves it's pretty close to what was.

Fourteen years ago, several hours from now, the husband-to-be and I will have lead our guests through some county offices, took a right at the Xerox machine, and stood before a court judge.

"I do," I will have said.

"I do," the husband will have said, too.

After which, we all will have headed back to our home and ate the lunch that I would not have had to freeze.

~The Beginning ~

P.S. Happy Anniversary, the Husband. I'm very glad you didn't get cold feet. How did 14 years go so quickly? I love you.

P.P.S. The Husband and I just moved into a new phase of wearing those ugly, but comfortable, Crocs. Whoo-hooo!

Friday, April 26, 2013


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December 7, 1941
Honolulu, Hawaii

Clip. Clip. Clip.

The Daddy's cousin was cutting Daddy's hair in their kitchen. They talked about this and that when suddenly they heard  in the near distance Boom! Boom! Boom!

"Hurry up," said the Daddy. "Something is happening at the harbor. Let's go see what's wrong."

December 8, 1941
Baguio, Philippines

At the same moment, thousands of miles to the east, the Japanese Navy Air pilots were bombarding the U.S. bases in the Philippines,  a U.S. territory. The Mama was staying in Baguio, a mountain town, where the John Hay Air Base was located. The town was immediately evacuated.

The Mama said it took her and her family about a month to walk their way down the mountain to their home in Pangasinan, a province in Central Luzon.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Verily, Molly the Cat

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Yesterday afternoon, while the Husband and I worked in the Mama's garden, Molly the Cat walked along the fence. We didn't know what she had been up to until the Husband went looking for her. He found her heading down a connecting fence. Fortunately, she turned around when he called to her.  He took her off the fence, put her down on the ground, and followed her to the house all the while praising her for a job well done. After she went inside the house, the Husband shut the door.

Molly the Cat rested beside the screen door and watched  us hammer poles into the ground, untangle wire fencing, and attach the wire between poles for vegetables to climb up and up. She did not say a word unlike the neighborhood dogs when they want their way.

When the  Husband and I came to the screen door, Molly the Cat sat up.

First, she looked adoringly at the Husband.

"Verily, kind sir, please, will you open the door?"

 Then, she looked at me.

"Lady, put down the camera already, and open the door!"

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

The Upside-Down Cat

"Seriously. Another photo."

I think that's what Molly the Cat would say if she could speak.

"I suppose you're telling stories about me."

Yep. I surely have. If you'd like to read a post or two, click over to Missy Molly by Golly.

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Tuesday, April 23, 2013

A Never-too-Late Tunic

In April of last year, I stumbled upon a handsome batik-like print with ukuleles. Immediately, I thought, "An Hawaiian shirt for the Husband!" Without giving it another thought, I bought 2 yards of the fabric. I didn't care that I hadn't ever sewn a shirt before. When the Husband saw the print, he was just as excited as me about the idea of a Hawaiian shirt for him.

Throughout May, I looked at patterns online. The thought of sewing collars, yokes, and buttons made my hands sweat. I needed to turn this shirt into something fun to sew.

"What do you think about a tunic?" I asked the Husband.

The Husband went into a happy place as he described a Mexican tunic he once owned when he was a young man. How comfortable it was. How neat it looked. And so on, and so forth.

In June, for his birthday, I gave the Husband a written promise of a hand-sewn tunic in the ukulele print. Over the summer, I kept my eyes open for the perfect tunic pattern.

By September, or maybe it was October, I found an easy-to-sew tunic pattern. Fortunately, for me, the Husband isn't a nag. I wouldn't be surprised if he had forgotten about it.

Two days before Christmas, I sat myself at the sewing machine and made the Husband's tunic. I was great entertainment for the Mama and Molly the Cat that day. To my surprise, I completed the tunic all in one day. 

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The Husband wore the brand-new tunic to his brother's Christmas party. A couple times, I heard him saying that the Wife made it for him. 

The Husband looks quite hip in it, and, yep, very much a hippie. It's his going-out shirt. He says it's very comfortable. He feels cool when the weather is hot, and warm (with a sweater underneath) when it's cold.

Who knows? I just might sew him another for him. There is a lot of time until Christmas.

Monday, April 22, 2013

First Time Skating

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Scrape. Scrape. Scrape. Scrape.

"What is that noise?" I imagine the Pop of the mom-and-pop grocery store said.

The Mom walked over to the front window and laughed (so I conjecture).

Scrape. Scrape. Scrape. Scrape.

"What is it?"

Scrape. Scrape. Scrape. Scrape.

"That darling little chubby girl is skating."

"On what? Cans?"


Scrape. Scrape. Scrape. Scrape.

I was probably 6 or 7 years old when I skated for the first time. With each foot snugly encased in a crushed beer can, I slowly made my way around the bend of the gravel driveway to the road and along the shoulder.  I crossed in front of the mom-and-pop store with the goal of reaching the stop sign. There I rested for a long while.  Most likely I wished I had a nickel for a candy bar or maybe a dime for a bottle of Nehi soda. Skating was more work than I thought it would be.

Up, I stood, and took off again. It was just a few yards down the side of the store to the other end of the gravel driveway and back home. With luck, the Mama may not have noticed I was gone.

Scrape. Scrape. Scrape. Scrape.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Rock Faces & Figures

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Did you think I was going to talk about rock and roll stars? Hahaha. Nope.

I'm talking about actual rocks. Granite—or are they basalt?—rocks that edge the ocean shorelines, to be precise. But, my question can be about rock formations anywhere. That question: Do you ever see faces in rocks? How about figures?

Here's what I saw at the rocky shoreline in Monterey recently.

Mr. Big Nose

Fat Lips

Old Snorer—Zzzzzzzzzzz Zzzzzzzzzzz

Friday, April 19, 2013

Quitting Time

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Come August I shall be celebrating my 27th anniversary at my job. I doubt the Boss will give me a gift of money or even a lousy pen to show her appreciation. The Boss is cheap. Yeah, I said it. C-h-e-a-p. Cheap. But, then, you see, the Boss is me. 

Like everyone else, I've had quite a few jobs during my life. Some jobs were temporary. I liked those. I knew when the ending would be. No fuss, no muss.  As for the jobs from which I resigned, okay, quit, I had gone as far I wanted and needed to go with them.

Cutting apricots was my first paying job. It was also the first job I quit. I was nine years old.

The job entailed cutting apricots in half, pulling out the pits, and laying them on a wooden tray bigger than a kitchen table. When the tray was filled neatly with halved apricots, it was placed out in the sun for the fruit to dry. I think I got 75 cents a tray.  Yeah, I know, a pittance. This was the early 1960s.

I don't remember how many trays I was able to fill in a day, or even if I could fill one. Some kids worked together on a tray. I did feel kinda left out working alone. I  recall a couple of kids staring at me and talking about me and the way I was cutting the apricots but not in an admirably way. Hmmm, maybe they were jealous that I didn't have to share my earnings. Never thought of that.

After three days on the job, I got sick. Probably worked too long and hard, which I still do when I want to get something done and over with as soon as possible. When I was back to normal, the Mama and the Daddy told me that I did not have to go back unless I wanted to. I did not.

I wonder if the Older and Only Brother resented me for quitting the job. After all, he was the one who got me the job. Maybe I would've been better picking apricots with him. I know I would've liked it more. I envied him climbing up and down the ladder with his pail. It would definitely have been faster earning money.  I think he got 25 cents a bucket, or maybe it was 25 cents for filling a box. I probably would've gotten sick doing that job, too.

Anyway, being allowed to quit the job, set the pattern for me.  I learned that I could choose to say yes or no to being "cheap labor" for someone. Gosh, I hate that term with a passion. Several years ago, the Husband and I took an agricultural tour of our county. One of the stops was an apricot orchard where the Daddy used to work as a tree pruner. The daughter-in-law whined about the family's concern of not having enough "cheap labor" during harvest time. Seriously, how difficult would it be for her to say "temporary employees".  I instantly lost all respect for her, the family, and the business. To this day, I will not buy their products, I will not recommend them,  and I will spit out food if I happen to find out I'm eating their product at a function.

Okay, back from the digression.

Of all the jobs I've had, I have worked the longest for my current employer. And, I tell you, there have been days, weeks, and months where I've worked for far less than minimum wage. That's how much I like working for the Boss. And, I know she would not ever, ever, ever talk about me as being just "cheap labor".

Trays of apricots drying under the sun.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Pshaw! The Persnickety Letter P

The letter P!

I crumpled up three ideas for that proud, pretty letter P. Figuratively, that is. I'm not going to crush my computer just because I don't like what I wrote in a Word file. What? You don't know what crumple is? Egad, I'm that old. Get a piece of scratch paper and write half a sentence. Now, scrunch up the paper. There, you've crumpled up an idea.

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Anyway, the letter pah pah pah pah P. It's perfect that procrastinate starts with the letter P. Oh, and then there is perfect. . . . Perfect procrastination prances prickly for Poseiden. Huh? No, I'm not deleting that. This post has taken possession of my fingers upon the keyboard and clicking keys per its bidding. Anyone else like the combination of parsnips and potatoes?

Okay, okay.  Third paragraph and I have yet to bring up a topic. Poor writing on my part. Perhaps. The other way for me—and you, dear readers—to look at my runaway paragraphs is that sometimes I need to be a little bit. . .a lot. . .silly to take away the pressure of thinking about what to write.

That said, I've come to my topic of the day: A very fun and exciting P. . . .Parachuting.  Yes, that's me floating down to earth in the above photo.  About six years ago, three wonderful friends and I (we call ourselves the Jumping Beans) decided to go up, up, and up into the sky by airplane and return by parachute. We were each attached to a professional skydiver, of course.
I was surprised at how loud falling through the sky was.

I absolutely loved it, even though that first step out of the plane was a doozy!

That's it. See you tomorrow with the letter Q.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Walking on the Ancient Ocean Floor

A couple weeks ago, some of us young "old fogeys" took our merry selves to the Black Diamond Mines Regional Preserve in Antioch, California, about 45 miles northeast of San Francisco. This park overlooks the Carquinez Strait, an estuary of the San Joaquin and Sacramento Rivers, which drains into the San Francisco Bay. It is a beautiful place to picnic, hike, and check out nature.

Once upon a time, hundreds of millions of years ago, the area was under an ancient sea. And over millions upon millions of years, wondrously wonderful earth changes built up the sandstone hills as well as crushed living matter between layers of rock to form black diamonds. During the last half of the 19th century, the Black Diamond mines were the largest coal mines in California, and from the 1920s to the 1940s,  white silica sand was mined out of the sandstone hills for the Hazel-Atlas Glass Company in Oakland.  

We, young "old fogeys" took a tour of the Hazel-Atlas Mine that afternoon. With our hard hats on, we walked, and climbed a bit, through over 900 feet of the underground mine. We stood in a "room" larger than a two-story house that had been dynamited over and over to scoop up tons of white silica sand. We stopped on wooden bridges, built by park workers, to gaze up and down at other levels of the mine. Every now and then we saw things that looked like square plaques on the walls. Ha! They are not plaques but 6 or 8 foot bolts that are holding up slabs of sandstone walls. Gulp.

For me, one of the most staggering realization was the notion that we were walking on ancient ocean floor. In one part of the mine, one side of the tunnel showed evidence of ancient tidal movement, while the other side was embedded with tiny fossilized sea critters.

Ancient ocean wave action
And, then there was that part of the tunnel where we stood and looked at a fault in the wall. Yeah, as in earthquake. Mind blowing.

That black "line" is an earthquake fault.
To learn more about the Black Diamond Mines Regional Preserve, check out this link. And, here are links to two articles by writers who have explored the park and taken the Hazel-Atlas Mine tour.

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Tuesday, April 16, 2013

A Native of Hollister, California

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No, I'm not talking about the store. Nor am I talking about the fake beach town that the company that owns the store imagined.

Yes, folks, Hollister, California does exist. It is a small city in the middle of farmlands and nature.

I was born and raised here. I graduated from the local high school, which has as a mascot a Haybaler, the farmer who bales hay, not the hay baling machine. While in high school, I wrote a newspaper column called...are you ready?...The Baling Wire.

After a couple of years at the local community college, I transferred to San Francisco State University and lived in the City for many years. When the Husband and I got together, we lived in cities across the Bay until we move to Hollister. This summer will mark our 10th year living here and with the Mama. She is the reason we moved down.

Do I miss living in a metropolis?  Only when I want to eat out, see a movie, or browse in a bookstore.

How does the husband feel about living here? Ever since I've known him, he has said, "I want to go far, far away." Hollister is exactly that, even though it's an hour away from the city lights of San Jose.

If you'd like to see what my native town is all about, check out my other blog: Take 25 to Hollister, California. If you're interested in instantly learning a few facts about the city, check out Hollister versus Hollister.

Monday, April 15, 2013

The Miracle Tree

The tree on the right is the Miracle Tree. If you look closely, you can see
the Mama behind the rose bush.

The First Husband gave the Mama a package of seeds that a Native American tribe had sent him as part of a fundraising campaign. Mama, always the curious horticulturist, sowed them in her backyard. From those seeds grew the Miracle Tree, which today is more than 20 years old.

It would be monstrously huge  if the Mama did not cut it back nearly every year. She can't stand the idea of the branches hovering over the roof or even being near the gutters. No matter how much it gets hacked back in the late fall, its branches are full and ready to provide sufficient shade for the summer heat.

During its early years, the Miracle Tree produced a lot of seed pods. Let me repeat: A lot of them. The seeds are flat and shiny and difficult to clean up once they're on the ground. Every year, Miracle Trees sprout some where new in the yard. Most times, the Mama pulls them out.

The Miracle Tree is not its actual name. The Mama and I like to call it that because it grew from a few seeds. We are not sure what the tree is  called. The Husband and I have seen trees that look like the Miracle Tree in Hawaii. Koa trees, I think they were called. The Miracle Tree could be a Mimosa Tree or related to it. Herbalists make a tincture out of the Mimosa flowers. An acupuncturist had me take the tincture to help mellow me out. (I was a bit angry when we first began our sessions. But, then he was always late. That's for another tale. Maybe.)

The Mama says that Miracle Trees grow in the Philippines. The old folks, she says, harvested the leaves and flowers to feed to the pigs. And, some of the women made purses out of the seeds.

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On some days, the Mama gripes about the constant trimming she must do to the Miracle Tree. She threatens to pull it out now and then, but I doubt she will. She enjoys sitting beneath its shade in the summer. And, now, she has a new purpose for the tree. Last year, she planted a chayote at the foot of its trunk, just to see what might happen. Chayote vines grew upward into the tree and produced a large crop of chayotes to the Mama's delight. Last week, she planted several of last year's crop around the Miracle Tree.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

A Sweetheart of an Award

Rhonda at Dizzy Stir  nominated me for the Liebster Award, which is making the rounds to participants in the April 2013 Blogging from A to Z  Challenge.  Thank you, Rhonda!  Like all blogging awards, the Liebster is a way to get readers to discover and explore other blogs that may interest them.  So, I truly appreciate your nomination, Dizzy Stir

The Liebster Award
The Liebster Award has been around since 2010, and over the years the requirements have changed. That's to be expected.  If you're interested in its origin, check out this link

These are today's "rules" for accepting the award. I say "rules" because no one is required nor obligated to do any or all of the following steps to accept the award. 
  1. Post the award on her/his blog. 
  2. Thank the nominator and link back to his or her blog.
  3. Write  11 random facts about yourself.
  4. Answer 11 questions about yourself that the nominator has asked.
  5. Nominate 11 fellow bloggers participating in the Blogging from A to Z  Challenge who have fewer than 200 followers. 
  6. Make up 11 original questions for your nominees to answer. 
A lot, I know. And, it does take some time.  It's all in fun and a way for new readers to get to know about youSo, here we go.  
11 random facts about Me

  • I get my left and right confused a lot. Sometimes I raise the  hand with which I write to figure my directions. It doesn't always work. The Husband will tell you so.
  • I have a pink beach cruiser of a bicycle that I want to paint either yellow, forest green, orange, or red....hmmm, all those colors together sound nice.
  • Once upon a time, Cu'Pie, a yellow parakeet,  flew into our backyard and our hearts. That little guy was such a talker. Here's a story about him.
  • I started wearing glasses in 5th grade. Before I got them, I thought seeing things in a blur was normal.
  • I read Jane Eyre for the first time last year. It kicked Pride and Prejudice off the top of my list of favorite books, which had been there for decades.
  • When I lived in San Francisco, I tootled around the city on a red scooter.
  • I was in my late 20s before I understood how percents and ratios worked. And that was only because I wrote and edited math books for special needs kids.
  • Sometimes I come across things in nature that I like to imagine could be portals into other dimensions.
  • I think puns are fun. 
  • I was a gypsy for Halloween in first grade. 
  • The skinniest parts of my body are my knees. They no longer have any padding.
The 11 Questions that Rhoda at Dizzy Stir Asked Me
  1. How many hours a day do you spend writing?  
    Anywhere from 6 to 12 hours.
  2. Who do you have to critique and/or edit your work?
    The Husband
  3. What is your guilty pleasure?
    Being a couch potato.
  4. Why did you start blogging? 
    To find my writing voice again. After years of writing reference and educational materials, I no longer had an idea of what my non non-fiction voice sounded like.
  5. What is your most popular blog post?
    Beats me.
  6. What do you want written on your tombstone?
    She made it into the Library of Congress. Or: Get over yourself already.
  7. What are some of your favorite books to read? (I’m graciously not limiting this to one.) Mysteries, children books, and cookbooks.
  8. If you could have any one super-power, what would it be?
    A super-power that brings on and maintains world peace. (Yeah, I've been influenced by the beauty queens.)
  9. If you could be invisible for a day, would you use your invisibility for evil or good?   Good, but that's from my point of view. 
  10. What would your “last supper” consist of?  
    Fried chicken, 
    boiled bittermelon leaves, sliced tomatoes and green onion, Hawaiian-style macaroni salad, and lemon chiffon cake. 
  11. What is your biggest pet peeve?
    Currently at the top of the list are arrogant and selfish drivers.
The Nominees 
The following bloggers are all participating in the A to Z Blogging Challenge this year. I hope, dear readers, whether or not your part of the A to Z,  you'll go check out these bloggers. 
 My questions to the nominees
  1. What was the fifth fun trip that you have taken?
  2. Name one children's book that you think all adults ought to read and take to heart.
  3. What do you think is one of the worse movies or TV shows ever made?
  4. What fairy tale character do you identify with the most?
  5. What actor would you want to portray you in a movie about your life?
  6. Imagine you've just finished writing a book. What's the title
  7. What do you like the most about blogging?
  8. What has been the most delicious food or dish you've ever eaten?
  9. When you were a kid, what age did you think was really old?
  10. Which would you rather be: a dictator, a DMV clerk, or a miner?
  11. When was the last time you stopped and smelled the roses?
Thanks again, Rhonda, at Dizzy Stir, for the dear honor of presenting me with the Liebster Award. 

Saturday, April 13, 2013

A Love Story

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I never heard the parents address each other by their names.  They also didn't refer to each other by name when they talked about the other. The Mama would just say lakai which was old man in Ilocano, while the Daddy would say baket for old lady.

For many years, I wondered if they even loved each other. When I became curious about how they met, they said they had an arranged marriage.

The Daddy said, "Your grandmother said she liked the daughter who lived next door for me. 'Okay,' I told her."

The Mama said, "My mother said to marry your daddy. 'He's a good man. You're old. This may be your last chance to marry.'"

Both the Mama and the Daddy lost their fathers at a young age. So, it was their mothers who met and discussed the terms of the dowry. Several weeks later, the Mama and the Daddy were married.

It was not until I went to the Philippines with the Daddy in the early 1970s that I heard the love story.

In 1947, the Daddy, who became a U.S. citizen after serving the U.S. Army, decided to visit the Philippines. It had been 19 years since he left.  He thought about marrying the girlfriend he left behind if she was still single. She was not.

A few days after the Daddy had been home, he went down to the well that bordered his mother's property and that of the Mama's mother's.  It was late in the afternoon. As he approached the well, he saw a young woman.

"It was like a lightening bolt," said the uncle who told me the story. The Daddy was in love with the Mama instantly.

The Daddy went to his mother and said, "I met the neighbor's daughter.  I want to marry her."

Years later, the Mama told me how she had received marriage proposals before the Daddy asked her. Although her mother liked the men, she did not. "They could not make me," the Mama said. One proposal was from the Mayor's son. The Mama did not like his mother. "She would have treated me like a servant."

The Mama's and the Daddy's wedding was a big-to-do. Both of them came from a large family, including siblings, uncles, aunties, cousins, and more cousins. 

"Everyone danced all night," said the Mama about the reception. "The party went on for three days."

I can just imagine. The Daddy loved a good party. So does the Mama, once she's there.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Kind of Wonderful

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This post was originally entitled "Talking About Sex with the Mama" and was published on June 18, 2010 on my previous blog, This and That. Here and There. Now, Sometimes Then.

Yesterday the mama asked me to explain something she was reading in an AARP flyer. It was a short article about what a woman can do about vaginal dryness so that intercourse isn't so painful.


The mama is a voracious reader. She likes to learn. Both things I didn't know until the husband and I became her roommates several years ago. English is not her primary language, and I would say on a scale of 1 to 10, her English reading comprehension is about a 4, more or less. She doesn't let complicated or unfamiliar words get her down. If she's interested in a story, she plows through it. If she's really interested in what words mean precisely, she asks me.

So, she asked me. 

Hoo boy.

The mama hadn't even taught me about sex when I a kid. The only instruction I received that came closest to the topic was the afternoon of getting ready for my senior class prom.  She showed me a gigantic safety pin, then put it in my purse, saying something like "In case you need it." She walked away before I could ask "For what?" I figured that out years later. She didn't have to worry. My prom date came out of the closet years later.  If I'm recalling that eventful afternoon correctly, the mama gave me the safety pin after the daddy advised me, "Don't go f***ing around."

The parents. Do I love them!

But, back to the curious mama of today.

"Kiki," I said, somehow recalling the Ilocano slang word for vagina, pointing to hers, then mine.

"It's about what to do when it's dry. . . ." She looked at me with surprise.

"And you want to have sex." I quickly walked away, but not before noticing that she went back to the article. 

In the kitchen where I thought he hadn't heard, the husband asked, "What was that about?" 

I think maybe something kind of wonderful.