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.

Sing Ho! for the life of a Bear!

Apparently, today is #WinnieThePoohDay. I just pulled my Winnie-the-Pooh collection off the shelf in search of a passage to quote. After getting lost in the pages/memories, I chose the following:

Sing Ho! for the life of a Bear!
Sing Ho! for the life of a Bear!
I don’t much mind if it rains or snows,
‘Cos I’ve got a lot of honey on my nice new nose,
I don’t much care if it snows or thaws,
‘Cos I’ve got a lot of honey on my nice clean paws!
Sing Ho! for a Bear!
Sing Ho! for a Pooh!
And I’ll have a little something in an hour or two!
(from In Which Christopher Robin Leads an Expotition to the North Pole)

I can’t help but feel a kinship with Winnie-the-Pooh. He finds great happiness in composing silly little songs, and the next smackeral is always on his radar.

Thank you, A. A. Milne for all the smiles and fun-to-sing songs.
Happy Birthday to you.
Tiddly pom.

Happy 88th!

My mom turned 88 today. During our phone conversation just now, she wondered about the significance of “88.” When I wasn’t sure what she meant, she went on to say, “It means something automotive.” After we hung up, I asked Zippy. And being the son of a gear-head, he knew exactly what she was trying to remember.

“She’s talking about the Oldsmobile Rocket 88.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’d never heard of this car, but there are LOTS of them out there. Images galore!

This one was an official Indy Pace Car:

 

This one is just pretty:

 

 

 

 

And here’s the Oldsmobile Rocket 88 race car I dedicate to my mother on her 88th:

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, MOM!

Sunday Confessional: So.Much.Stuff.

Today I was looking in our linen closet, and unearthed this shirt:

 

 

 

 

Neither Zippy nor I can remember which son owned it. I’m guessing it was Wildebeest, but am not 100% sure. Why do we still have it? Why is it taking up space in the home? For that matter, why are we holding onto half the crap in our lives?

The good news is, I haven’t come across any Napoleon Dynamite moon boots.

Birthday Cousins

Born on the same day, five years apart.

♫   May you smile into the camera
And squint against the sun
May you stay forever fun
Forever fun, forever fun   ♫
May you stay forever fun.

Happy happy birthday to two of my favorite people on the planet!

Twofer Tuesday: rebel hikers edition

When Zebu was a high school senior, he brought home a paper outlining the “rules” for senior photos. In addition to sensible guidelines such as “Do not wear sunglasses,” and “No props such as guns or weapons or other offensive material,” was “Students’ heads should not be pressed between two trees.”

October 13, 2017

Ever since reading that, we take every opportunity to photograph ourselves with heads wedged between two trees. Granted, Emma and  I are nowhere near wedged in this photo, but it’s the thought that counts.

Zebu would approve.

Honoring Michelle

Today Zippy and I went to Berry Patch Farms in Brighton, Colorado.

Michelle’s mother and sisters arranged to have a bench and stone placed there in her memory, seeing as it was one of Michelle’s favorite places to visit with her young daughter.

 

At the top of the stone is a quote from Michelle: “Now this is what a strawberry should taste like.”

Note: the rooster windchime on the tree was there before Michelle’s bench. Can you say SERENDIPITY?

On their frequent visits to the farm with the old red barn, Michelle and her daughter would watch the chickens and roosters.

They’d pick berries together and take home bouquets of cut flowers.

Today, Michelle’s mother, sisters, brothers-in-law, nieces, nephews, and friends gathered in her memory. For the past two weeks or so, the weather has been uncharacteristically cold and rainy, but today the sun was shining in a blue, blue sky. The morning was lovely, and I suspect Michelle pulled some strings to make it so.

It was bittersweet being at the farm without Michelle, but here I am warming her cheery red bench along with three of the Writing Roosters, the critique group she lobbied to include me in its membership. Michelle’s generosity lives on.

Jenn Bertman, Tracy Abell, Jen Simms, Laura Perdew (Vanessa Appleby & Claudia Mills were unable to attend)

Get your ball out of the gutter

This week’s date night was Zippy’s choice. He chose bowling.

Here he is tonight, displaying his inscribed “Willie” ball.  Our friend Willie gave it to Zippy years ago after left-handed Zippy told Willie he really liked bowling with the right-handed ball.

We bowled two games and they were both pretty bad. On the up side, we got a few strikes. On the down side, we threw gutter balls. Oh, and there were also ugly rental shoes.

All in all, it was a pretty good date.