Terrible feeling of déjà vu

I wore this shirt while camping this week. Its message is just as timely today as it was when I bought it during war criminal George W. Bush’s presidency.

The back reads:
What is the Downing Street Memo?
On May 1, 2005, The Times of London published a July 2002 memo from the head of British intelligence, who had just returned from Washington, to Prime Minister Tony Blair. Written seven months before the war in Iraq began, the memo says that President Bush, contrary to what he told the American people, had already decided to go to war and, even worse, that “the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy.” Meaning, the Bush administration was intentionally fabricatinng evidence linking Saddam to WMD and terrorism in order to trick the American people and Congress into going to war. 

The more things change the more they stay the same. The greedheads/warmongers of the military industrial complex can’t ever get enough.

For anyone in need of a smile

I just came across this photo of a young Wildebeest that was trimmed by my mother-in-law. I mean, this has to be her doing. I’ve never had the patience for such intricate scissors-work. I must admit, though, that bib on his head is the perfect framing device for his cherubic face, so good on her!

I smile each and every time I look at my son’s expression.

A tale of two squirrels and Denali National Park

When I lived in Alaska I went to Denali National Park a number of times. You can ride one of the old school buses through the entire park (80+ miles) to the end point which is Wonder Lake. The vistas are magnificent and there’s lots of wildlife to be seen along the way. Moose and Dall’s sheep, maybe a lone wolf galloping along or a brown bear with a cub or two. Ground squirrels and scolding marmots. One of my first rides on the bumpy dirt road was in the company of another visitor who became quite animated at the sight of some moose. There was also a group of park workers on the bus and one of them scoffed at the visitor’s excitement and said something like “You’ve seen one moose, you’ve seen them all.”

I remember feeling bad for that worker and hoping I’d never become bored by what I saw. And so it was in that spirit that I photographed these two squirrels in Kapok Park earlier this month.

I watched in delight as they chased each other around a tree trunk before jumping to the ground where they began to forage. There are certainly more “exotic” creatures in the park such as alligators and anhingas, but these feisty squirrels also caught my attention.

I hereby declare “mundane” be reserved for chores like dirty dishes and suggest that squirrels be viewed as Great Fun! Who’s with me?

Sunday Confessional: selfies aren’t my forte

And yet, when I came across this forgotten selfie on my phone I immediately fell in love with it. Because the photo took me back to where it was taken: on our Rustler’s Gulch hike in Crested Butte last July. Zippy and I’d climbed the trail at the end of the valley to sit on a huge outcropping to eat our lunch. Everywhere we looked was absolutely glorious. Up, down, side to side. Blue sky, fluffy clouds, wildflowers, stream, trees, mountains. Nature at her very best.

But this selfie isn’t just a reminder of the natural splendor we witnessed on that hike. Our expressions are also documentation of how very happy Zippy and I were that day. The poorly framed image and those nostrils only add to the good memories.

Saturday Funny

I unearthed this document while cleaning out a drawer. I’m the “T” and Wildebeest is the “F” in this exchange from his elementary school years. (In case you can’t read my scrawl):
T: For someone who didn’t want to go to the Lakewood Heritage Center, it sounds like you had a swell time.

F: (nodding vigorously) I got cheered up after the front of the bus caught fire.

Sunday Confessional: my son’s mess helped me feel better

Late this afternoon I crawled back in bed. Despite the fact that I’d taken a brisk 2-mile walk around the neighborhood, I was sad and depressed. I slept for a bit, but when I woke I still felt blue-blue-blue. I decided I’d stay in bed until tomorrow morning. Screw this almost-last-day-of-December. I’d had enough.

And then I remembered Wildebeest’s car. I’d borrowed it last night and discovered the floors behind the front seats were filled with trash. Receipts, wrappers, water bottles, etc. As I huddled under my covers I thought about that finite amount of stuff in his car. I could do something about that! I would see instant results! I got out of bed, put on clothes, and went outside with a garbage can plus a bag for recyclables.

Wow.

As I unearthed layers of stuff from the floor I came upon what appeared to be a whole lot of bird seed. That’s odd, I thought as I continued excavating. Wildebeest doesn’t share my bird love. Why would he be feeding birds? Then I reached under the seat and pulled out a flattened box. Rice A Roni. In fact, I eventually found two destroyed boxes of Rice A Roni in his car. But the real treat (not to be confused with the ♪ Rice A Roni, the San Francisco treat  ♫ ) was a clump of fossilized dog poop that’d clearly come off a friend’s shoes as said friend rode in the back seat. (You’re probably thinking I’m rude for publicly calling out my son’s slovenly habits, but he came by them honestly. When I was his age I was a smoker who wasn’t good about emptying the ash tray in my car and sometimes the filled-to-capacity ashtray would start smoldering when I put out another butt in the gigantic pile of butts. I know, I know.)

Wildebeest’s car was a dumpster on wheels. Oddly enough, I was quite content as I cleaned and vacuumed the interior and then wiped down the dashboard. Instant results, baby. Tangible progress. A job well done.

I’m pleased to report my blues are gone for the time being and that I’m not getting back in bed for a good long while. Wildebeest’s mess + my unorthodoxy = WIN.

 

Wishful thinking

This photo was taken two years ago. We haven’t had any moisture in weeks and so I’m posting this in hopes the weather goddesses will take a hint and bless us with some snow.

I’d love a Christmas miracle!

Photo-induced memories

The top left photo shows Doug Chase (and the program director) at the soup kitchen in 1999, our first year volunteering with Grant Avenue StreetReach.

I’m taking a break from writing after writing 50,000 words last month. I intended to do nothing but read and then remembered the enormous stash of photos I swore I’d organize so my sons wouldn’t have to deal with them.

So I started scrapbooking and quickly felt a sense of overwhelm. My family has SO many photos. Then I asked for/demanded help. As a result, Zippy and Zebu have stepped up and helped round photo corners and put sticky tape on their backs while I crop and organize the next pages. It feels a lot better to share the load. And it’s good for me to let go of my perfectionist tendencies.

The page I’ve highlighted here shows Wildebeest playing chess with a man named Steve who taught both sons to play. This page is also bittersweet because it contains the only photo I have of our friend Doug who died in 2009. He was a lovely man and today I miss him all over again.

I frequently curse the number of photos needing our attention, but finding Doug in the stacks was like striking gold.

Saying goodbye to an old friend

In a few minutes, a kind veterinarian is going to arrive at our home to help us say goodbye to Zoey. She’s lived with us the past 13+ years which is more than half of Wildebeest and Zebu’s lifetimes. This morning Wildebeest said goodbye before  heading back to his home that’s a six-hour drive from here. Zebu will be with Zoey at the end.

Zoey’s last trip to Westcliffe. August 12, 2017

We’d originally hoped to say goodbye to Zoey tomorrow because it’s my birthday today. But when the vet offered to come this afternoon it seemed the best option. Zoey’s tired and has had enough, and it felt wrong to delay the inevitable. We’ve definitely made the right decision for her, but the mood is less than festive.

Rest in peace, our sweet Zotato.

Don’t fear the pumpkin

Zebu and I carved pumpkins last night. When he was little Zebu had some tactile issues that made it unbearable for him to do stuff like fingerpaint or clean out a pumpkin’s innards. Carving pumpkins wasn’t a positive experience.

We remedied that last night. Zebu and I talked and laughed as we grabbed handfuls of pumpkin guts, squishing stringy orange pulp through our fingers. Zebu handled the sensations just fine and turned down the offer of a wet rag. I was the one who felt compelled to rinse my hands during the process. (Pumpkin makes the skin feel tight, yo!)

And here are the results. Zebu’s Jack Skellington on the left and my triangle head on the right. Here’s hoping they look as scary in the dark as they do in the light of day.

Happy Halloween!

Throwback Thursday: my year in North Hollywood

I don’t know what prompted me to do so (okay, I’m pretty sure I was procrastinating rather than writing), but the other day I went to Google Maps and looked up an old address. This photo shows a triplex off an alley in North Hollywood, California. I lived in the upper, right-hand studio apartment for a year in the mid-80s. It was my very first place all my own. Up to that point, I’d either been in a dorm or shared apartments (or, in the case of my Van Nuys digs, renting a screened gazebo-like structure in a single-parent’s backyard in which part of my rent included providing childcare).

It’s an understatement to say this was a transient period of my life. The move into my darling little apartment in this building was my 5th move in 9 months. It all began with my boyfriend and me moving into our own apartment in Culver City (leaving behind our former West LA roommate) and then me leaving the boyfriend several months later. It was one of the more difficult periods in my life. However, I have vivid memories of my time on Miranda Street.

Diva & Isis hanging out at home.

I shared the tiny space with two cats. One (Diva) was with me at move-in time. The other (Isis) was adopted and given to me by my sister’s friend who showed up to hand me a cat. Um, okay, I guess?

Isis was an all-black kitten who would wake me at 2:00 a.m. as she galloped around the hardwood floors. She also crawled to the bottom of my sleeping bag (my one and only “bed linen”) and peed.

My major piece of furniture was a futon couch that could be opened to make a small bed.

For a time, pit bulls roamed the neighborhood and the mail carrier refused to deliver. We had to go to the post office to get our mail. One day my downstairs neighbor drove there with me and we were thrilled to discover I’d received a box from my mother that contained a round cookie tin. We hungrily opened the tin only to discover it was filled, not with cookies, but with cookie cutters.

Me at the park when I wasn’t running.

I quit smoking while living in this apartment and an integral part of my kicking the nicotine addiction was to run every day (and then eat a bag of M&Ms at work in the afternoon). I usually ran in the nice park nearby that had a path around the perimeter. That park saved me.

Sometimes on the way back from a run I’d stop to sit on one of the Honda motorcycles lined up outside a bike shop near the park. I liked to pretend the wind was blowing back my hair as I rode fast and free.

Zippy at the park avoiding cat allergies.

This was where I lived when Zippy and I started dating. He lived in ugly old Bakersfield and we’d trade off weekends. He was allergic to cats so weekends at my place were often difficult for him. He’d suddenly say, “Let’s go out somewhere. My throat’s starting to close.” (Fortunately, he’s adapted to cats and no longer experiences suffocation issues).

Zippy was with me the day we loaded a UHaul for my move to Santa Rosa. We’d emptied the place and it was time to leave, but Diva was nowhere to be found. We searched and searched the surrounding area for my indoor-only cat. Then Zippy saw a black and white cat in the yard of a nearby house and grabbed it. A voice yelled, “Put down my cat!” Oops. Diva later revealed herself by meowing from the kitchen drawer she’d climbed into from the open cupboard below. It was a joyous reunion.

I’m not a huge fan of how our personal information and everyday lives are now mined for data, but will say that I’m happy Google Maps provided me with the image of my former home. I never took an exterior shot of the first-ever living space that was all mine. It’s good to remember.

We all scream for ice cream

I’ve spent the day cleaning my writing room and am getting close to being done. I have a definite “paper problem” and hold on to all sorts of unnecessary stuff which means it’s a relief when I find an expired coupon because . . . EASY DECISION!

I unearthed one gem, though. On the surface, it doesn’t appear to be anything special:

I was getting ready to put it in the donation pile when I turned to the last page.
Apparently, Zebu’s one and only favorite rhyme was:
Ice crem smis crem

Makes perfect rhyming sense to me and, in fact, Zebu and Zippy both immediately decoded the inventive spelling when I showed it to them.

(This reminded me of years ago when a friend was plotting a weekend getaway for the two of us and I reminded her of my responsibility to my young kids. Her reply? “Kids, schmids.”)

One year ago

Last year at this time Zippy and I were in Uppsala, Sweden, visiting our son Zebu. He took us to his favorite place to fika. In Sweden, everyone takes a daily coffee (and pastry) break with friends, family, colleagues, fellow students, etc.  Unfortunately, we went during a non-fika time so the place was empty. Still, it was easy to imagine the rooms filled with students drinking coffee and eating enormous cinnamon buns.

As I write this, Zebu is in Colorado finishing up his third final final-exam. He graduates later this week and one of my hopes for his future is that he always makes time for such a mid-day break. Fika strikes me as a very sensible path to health and happiness.

Sunday Confessional: I should’ve paid attention

I ran cross country in high school. In addition to the regular conference meets, our coach entered us in quite a few invitationals around the state. We ran on many different courses. Before every race, our coach had us jog the two-mile course. One of my teammates always paid very close attention to the flags and turns, noting each. It was vital she knew where she was going because she was a front-runner and frequently won the races. From my perspective, the pre-race course jog was a warm-up and nothing more. There were always plenty of runners ahead of me in races and I’d just follow them.

Yesterday I decided to run the race route of a local 5k organized by the high school cross country coach. I’ve run the race several times and thought it would be a nice change to do a workout outside my immediate neighborhood. I assumed I’d remember the course route.

Turns out it would’ve been a good idea to go online and refresh my memory before taking off. Without runners ahead of me to lead the way, I got lost out there in the hot afternoon sun and with all the backtracking, ended up running considerably more than 3.1 miles.

Old habits die hard.

I used to dye

Zippy and I didn’t color and hide eggs. We have no chocolate eggs nor bunnies in our home. There’s no plastic-y green grass strewn about the floors. However, as soon as I saw this photo on Pixabay.com, I wanted to display it here. Because, memories.

Happy Easter!

Thanks for the memories

Today’s been a difficult day.

I’ve had no energy and stayed in my jammies until 2:30 when I dragged myself off the couch so I could walk Emma and get some sun. Despite the sunshine and blue sky, I felt weepy as we walked, and kept tearing up. And then it hit me: January 23rd…Scott’s birthday. My childhood friend should be making a wish on his candles and eating cake, except that he died almost exactly twenty-five years ago.

Oddly enough, figuring out why I was feeling so down improved my mood. (Well, that plus the sunshine and exercise.) Because then I started remembering. Odd conversations about olive loaf and Salsa Rio Doritos; Scott’s old blue Pinto; the St. Patrick’s Day we spent together; his English class demonstration in which he taught us how to keep score in bowling, but became confused and had to step back from the board to figure out exactly out where the score had gone wrong; the Sears catalog poses he’d do for me whenever I asked; singing Victor Banana songs together; laughing until we cried. Laughing some more.

Here’s the photo I keep on my desk:

Scott’s smiling.
And now I am, too.

Happy birthday, friend.