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13 Memorable Jobs

1. Apricot cutter.  My first job. I was ten and I lasted three whole days before I got sick. When I got well, Mama and Daddy said I didn't have to go back. So, I didn't.

2. Babysitter. Once, I couldn't find a kid when we played hide-and-seek because he shimmied up a tree. That seven-year-old taught me to look up.

3. Newspaper columnist. I was paid 10 cents an inch to write a weekly high school column for the hometown newspaper. Even got a byline. A friend and I started the Baling Wire in our sophomore year,  and I went solo from the last half of my junior year to high school graduation.

4. Tutor. I took both paid and volunteer positions, mostly the latter.


5. Hand Pollinator. Every summer, Mama hired teenagers to hand pollinate cabbage, zucchini, cucumbers, pumpkins, corn, and other vegetables for her seed company. She finally hired me the year I graduated from high school. I actually liked the work.

6. Office Clerk.  I had several part-time jobs while going through col…

Musing x 13

1. Next month the U.S. Post Office will be selling forever stamps that celebrate Hip Hop. According to the USPS website, the sheet of stamps features rapping, break dancing, DJing, and graffiti art. I don't know what floors me more -- Hip Hop commemorative stamps or that the first kids into hip hop are now in their 40s and 50s?

2. Our local library has been closed since early March due to the coronavirus pandemic. This month, the librarians decided that we, patrons, can check out books online for pick up. The pick-up process today was easy-peasy, even though I forgot to bring my library card. Nine new books to entertain me. Yippieeee!


3. A few weeks ago, the Husband painted this headboard, full of delight and whimsy, perfect for the Banana Room, once known as the Shady Room. The banana plants look to be coming back, and the bamboo, gardenia, and wongo-wongo plants seem to relish their move there. I also replanted a camelia shrub by the headboard. Does that all sound subtr…

Digging It

I've been digging. Here a little dig. There a big dig. All over the yard, both front and back.

The last several days I've focused on finding shady spots for potted succulents in the backyard. Those parched guys looked so happy and relaxed after a few hours in the shade absorbing a long drink of water.  I've also been digging beds for the extra bean, tomato, and pepper seedlings that sprouted. I can't bring myself to throw them out.  They deserve a chance to produce fruit, too.

The Husband built a trellis for the beans to climb. Pretty cool, huh. Mama would've given him a giggle, grin, and an extra nod of well done.


This morning I dug the biggest bed for the tomato and pepper seedlings. Double dig, work in soil amendment, turn soil one more time, and let rest for tomorrow's planting. Daddy would've been proud, by golly, by gee that I paid attention to how he prepared the land for his vegetable garden. That's a story for another day.

Digging, shovels, ir…

Another Rambling Thursday 13

1. Who remembers the days of the manual typewriters? Clack, clack, clack. And, if you were a proficient typist, clack clack clackity clickclack clickity. . . !

2. Anyone else glad he or she took typing in high school? Friends tell me we learned on electric typewriters. I remember the manual typewriters in journalism class. Yup, I felt like a real reporter when I composed my stories on a typewriter.

3. During the days of electric typewriters, a few of my friends typed 100+ words per minute and more with hardly any mistakes.  I dilly-dallied around half that speed with several mistakes. (I hated typing documents that required carbon copies.)

4. The fastest I could type was in the high 70s. I remember coming out of a job interview all psyched about that high score. I thought that I ought to insure my hands. They were, after all, necessary for my livelihood. hahahaha.


5. The other day the husband and I talked with friends over the phone for a couple of hours. That's always enjoy…

Imagining I'm There

"I want to be there," said the Husband.

Me, too.

The other day I was missing the sight of granite, miles and miles of exposed surface of batholith mountains. In particular, the Sierra Nevada mountain range. More specifically, Desolation Wilderness in the El Dorado National Forest, west of Lake Tahoe.


Every year, for nine years, the Late Great First Husband and I backpacked the Sierras. At least one trip was to our favorite spot, Pyramid Lake in Desolation Wilderness, above Horsetail Falls, off of Highway 50.

These photos are from my first backpacking trip up Horsetail Falls. The original prints were overexposed. Thankfully, I kept the pictures and was able to "clean" them up a bit in Photoshop.



Talk about following the First Husband with complete trust while carrying 25 pounds, more or less, of food, gear, and reading material on my back. I don't know what it's like today, but back then, once you got to the base of the falls, the way up and down the m…

All is Well

Caw. Caw. Caw. Caw.

A flock of crows have been hanging around the neighborhood lately. I've watched some of them fly through the backyard, coming to rest on the tall, leafy skinny tree (possibly a birch) next door.

Caw. Caw. Caw. Caw.

I never paid attention to these birds until one Sunday afternoon in 1994. The First Husband and I lived in an apartment building on the northwest flank of Mt. Sutro in San Francisco. That afternoon I was home working while the First Husband was attending a powwow. While I was looking out the window, a crow landed on our balcony. I moved closer to the window. It didn't faze the crow. That crow and I gazed at each other for a long while. I felt the crow was assuring me all would be well with the First Husband who was diagnosed with cancer.

Until a few weeks before he died, I saw and heard crows often. There were afternoons where I'd see a crow circling above the trees near our carport. Same crow? Maybe. Hearing or seeing a crow mellowed out my…

Not a Boy

In Ilocano (the parents' primary language), balasang is the word for a young woman who has reached the marriageable age, which in my parents' day would've been 15 or 16. A balasang presents herself to the world well-groomed, well-dressed, and well-mannered. Graceful and radiant, with no sassy mouth nor a defiant bone in her. Alas, that was not me. 

Mama did her best to polish me up with the stylish, stiff, and sophisticated outfits that she bought for me. I felt uncomfortable, awkward, and fake in them, preferring, and still do, the bohemian style.

In my early 20s, when I worked in the San Francisco Financial District as a clerk typist, I wore a Mama outfit when everything else was in the laundry hamper. To break the monotony of the outfit, I'd wear something silly with it. Once I wore wool knee-high socks and clogs with a pink polyester dress that had an attached two-toned bolero-type jacket.  I looked as atrocious as it sounds. Still, in the early evening, while wa…

Apo Dios

I don't recall whether Apo Dios refers to God or to the sun. Maybe I didn't ever know.

Ilocano was the parents primary language. I understood Ilocano but couldn't wrap my Americanized tongue around Ilocano words to speak it. So, yeah, we were one of those families in which immigrant parents talked to their American-born children in their native language and the children responded in English. Think of interpreters translating in real time.

The term Apo Dios is a combination of two languages. Apo in Ilocano means father or grandfather. So, I've always thought. An online Ilocano-English dictionary says otherwise. It says Apo means God. Dios is a Spanish word that means God. Spain colonized the Philippines for over 300 years so of course Spanish is going to seep into the native languages there. That same Ilocano-English dictionary defines Apo Dios as God.

Usually, my parents addressed Dios when life was going fine, such as "Hi, God, how are you doing? We're doin…

Bwak, bwak, bwak

The Daddy and The Mama raised chickens in our backyard, as well as a cow, several goats, a couple of pigs, and a whole bunch of pigeons. All for food. We lived in a house on a decent size lot with a big field behind us, about two miles outside of city limits, so they could. The neighbors on either side of us didn't complain. Not that I knew of.

During the summer, my job was to feed the chickens, which lived in a structure with two small rooms that The Daddy built. There was enough for the chickens to roam free. And wild, so I thought. When I opened the door, it seemed like they were waiting to attack me. Cackle, cackle, cackle. Flutter, flutter of wings. Bwak, bwak, bwak.  It freaked me out. I imagined them pecking me to death.

My method of feeding them was to throw a handful of feed into a far away corner, step in, quickly fill their trough with feed, and get out the door as fast as possible. Shudder.

The other evening we were over at the ranch of our good friends Missus and Miste…

Getting a Job

I don't recall what got me thinking this morning about jobs that I sought for which I was underqualified. Not having a necessary skill or two or sufficient work experience didn't stop me from trying. You never know was my motto back then. Someone may be willing to give me a chance. After all, back then, the first few weeks or months on a job was as a probationary employee. 

In the late 1970s, I applied for a secretarial position for which I had the work experience and all the skills but one. Shorthand. I thought I could get by with my ability to take notes quickly, along with having a strong memory. Cocky young me. I had no idea I needed to take a shorthand test. Did I give up and walk away? Of course not. I'd driven all that way to apply for the job. If anything I would experience what a shorthand test entailed, and that's what I got.

About five years later, after having earned a teaching credential in secondary education and a few years working with at-risk youth in…

A Lazy Sunday Looking Back

Here's a treat for you and me: Back in 1970, 16-year-old me wrote a piece about summer for the school newspaper.



Today I'm linking up with All Seasons, a weekly meme hosted by Jesh at Artworks from Jesh St.G. Click here to check out Jesh. For the participants list, click here. Thanks, Jesh!


Pollinating the Squash

I hand pollinated two budding squash fruits last week because I was worried the male and female flowers would not pop open at the same time. You can't count on the bees or other insects to pollinate, especially these days when there aren't a lot of natural pollinators around.

Hand pollinating squash is easy to do. Carefully strip the petals of the female blossom, doing your best not to touch her stigma. Then strip the petals off a male flower, taking care not to spill any of his pollen. Now, dab the pollen onto the stigma. If you don't feel confident that the male had sufficient pollen, then pick another male flower and repeat.

The summer that I was 17 I worked as a hand pollinator for a seed research company. I got the job purely through nepotism. The Mama was in charge of hiring summer help who were usually teenage girls. She waited until I graduated high school before she hired me. She also hired my friend Kathy, who let the Mama know on her last day on Earth how much …

From the Archives: Just for Me

Hi ya! Hey ya! Hope all's well with ya. All is well with us. I'm still playing catch up so I'm back to reaching into my archives for a while more. Have fun out there.

Today's post (edited) was first published on April 11, 2015. = = = = = = = = = = = = = Knock, knock.

The Mama opened the kitchen door, which was the back door at our house on 44 Shore Road.  I sat at the kitchen table, keeping her company as she prepared dinner.

Uncle Frank! The Daddy's younger brother. He carried a tree stump in his arms. 

"I cut down a tree in my back yard," said Uncle Frank, putting it down next to the kitchen counter. "I thought it was the right size for Susie."

I was four. Either Uncle Frank or the Mama held my hand as I climbed onto the stump. Yaaay! I had a wonderful view of the counter.

I don't remember much of those very early years. But, I must've been in the kitchen a lot with the Mama. Enough so that Uncle Frank thought I ought to  have so…

From the Archives: The Solicitation

Hi ya! Hey ya! Hope all's well with ya. All is well with us. I'm reaching into my archives for the next several days so I can play catch up around the house. "I'll do it tomorrow." has finally reared itself into today.  Such is retirement. :-) Have fun out there.

Today's post (edited) was first published on May 13, 2010.  Yes,  this really did happen. ============ Ding dong.

"Who can that be?" asked the husband, not getting up from his desk.

I scrambled up from mine and down the stairs.  Not another salesperson from the carpet cleaning or bug zapping service, I hoped. I also didn't want to find someone clutching slick campaign material. Most likely no religious people; they rarely show up around dinner time. Aw, gee. What if it was a friend? The husband and I bought hot dogs at the Farmers Market for dinner, only enough for the Mama and us.

Our front door was open, but the security door was locked. "Hello," I called from the botto…

Celebrating with Children in a Parallel Universe

I wanted five children. It didn't matter if they were all girls, all boys, or some kind of combination. I like to think that's happening in a parallel universe. I wonder what their names are. Even today, I'll come across a name that I think is a nice candidate for one of my would've been kids. Maeve, Emmie, Sophia, Emerson, Benjamin James. . . . I like strong, happy names.

So, here I am, seven months shy of receiving Medicare, childless. Every time I thought I was pregnant, several days later, hello menses. I had an irregular cycle, so I tried fertility drugs as well as acupuncture to help get my reproductive system going. The acupuncture was a trip. When all the needles were inserted, I instantly felt like my spirit sprung out of my body and tap danced on the ceiling.

In the early 1990s, during the first week of vacation in Washington, I took a home pregnancy test. Yes, by golly! The First Husband and I went immediately into let's-take-care-of-me-and-the-fetus m…

Random Memory #1: Heading Home

I spied with my little eye a wife trimming hairs out of her husband's nostrils in front of the Hotel that once was on the corner of Sutter and Powell Streets in San Francisco. I was sitting on the #2 Sutter bus heading westerly home on a sunny day.

Hahahaha! This 30+ year mental image still gets me laughing.

The couple was probably in their late 50s and early 60s. I pegged them for tourists, but they could've been native-born San Franciscans. I simply loved how they were comfortable with each other.

I like to think the Husband and I are comfortable old farts like that couple was.

And, yes. I've trimmed the Husband's nose hairs. But only in the privacy of our home and only when I cut his curly locks and bristly (not grizzly) beard. So far.