There's rosemary, that's for remembrance.
William Shakespeare: Hamlet, Prince of Denmark

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Quiet voices from the past...I'm eating sour grapes.

Late last October I received a call from a woman who, after identifying herself, told me she was a former grammar school classmate of mine. I know my blank non response didn't surprise her because I doubt she remembered me either.

This former classmate was from A!! $ou!s Parochial School in Alhambra, California. I attended A!! $ou!s from first through fifth grade. A!! $ou!s was the only Catholic act in town when I entered first grade. It was a large school with two classrooms for every grade and every desk was filled. With the exception of one third grade class, every class was taught by a Dominican Nun. I remember the names of every grammar school teacher I had...Sister Mary Kathleen, Sister Mary Elizabeth Louise, Miss Jeanette, Sister Mary Columbia, Sister Anthony Marie, Sister Mary Thaddeus (6th and 7th grades), and Sister Mary Gertruda.

I have said in the past that I was pretty much a loner in school. I had few friends, none of those I did have were good friends and I preferred to just be left alone. I was shy, had crooked teeth and curly hair, and was smaller than most of the other girls. These characteristics of mine were apparently flaws in the eyes of the good Catholic girls I attended school with and then let's add the fact that my dad was a truck driver and my mother was Eyetalian. The comments about my parents never bothered me. I loved my mom and dad and my home life during that time was good. I can't remember ever knowing what any of my classmates parents did for a living so I can only assume that what these kids knew about me came from their parents. The personal comments about my appearance did bother me, but I managed to find things to do by myself during recess so I didn't have to mingle with the rest of the kids (I loved playing jacks) and I got good grades.

The few kids I do remember from those years are the ones that I met up with again in high school. By that time they had honed their stuck up social skills to perfection and I was a miserable young woman. Their comments and barbs added to my misery.

So....back to the subject. Seems that the A!! $ou!s class of 1958 was having a reunion in November. They were extending an invitation to attend to those of us that "lived on the other side of the tracks and had to attend St. Thomas More School when it was opened." Her words exactly.

In the months since that call (I agreed to be put on the email list) I have received all of the bio's the attendees submitted, jokes about the 50's and 60's, prayer requests, personal emails because the person responding to an email hit reply all, and solicitations for donations to A!! $ou!s School Rebuilding Fund.

A fairly large number of A!! $ou!s graduates were attending and no St. Thomas More transfer students. I did submit a bio. Only two other STM students submitted bios, but there had to be dozens of transfer kids. I was honest about my life.....the questions were straight forward and not multiple choice. Here are some of the things I find interesting about this whole reunion bio thing.......seems I am the only person that doesn't have a Masters or PhD, has been married more than once, has not traveled the world, does not own a sail boat or yacht, did not feel the Sisters made a huge impression on my life, does not attend Mass daily and on and on. I could have bullshi##ed. I could have said anything I wanted to....I haven't heard from any of these people with the exception of the few high schoolers and the last time I saw any of them was in 2002 and at that reunion I felt like I was right back in high school. So, why not just be honest? There is no way all of these people have maintained their perfection. I know this all sounds like I am eating sour grapes and maybe I am....but really, George, Diane, Kathy, Chi Chi (honest), the other Rosemary, JoAnn, Dorothy, Tom, Bonnie, Peggy, Terence and on and on.....not all of you were that smart!!!! Are these PhD's in Rocket Surgery or Masters in Faux?

The life I have lived is just that....I am what I am. It has taken me a lot of years to stop wanting to be like all of you, to look at my crooked teeth and be glad I still have them, to let my hair curl and frizz because is maintenance free. I have 3 wonderful kids and a basket full of grandchildren. My life is good and the things I accomplished were perfect for me.

So, why the rant? Because I got an email today inviting me to the May 9th second reunion. I emailed back. No thanks.

There I am looking angelic and the shortest of the 4 girls. This was second grade.

Here is the entire second grade class, girls only. I am third from the left, front row.

I look pretty normal....not smiling as usual, but no extra appendages or hair in odd places. Why was I considered different?

Here is a photo I received as an email attachment of the November reunion attendees. I don't think they all look like they have PhD's or belong to MENSA. Do you?
Two of these women called me snaggle tooth in high school. Do they look brilliant?

So, I will chew my grapes and swallow. I feel better now......just wait 'til I blog about high school!!!!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

The bravest doggie in the whole wide world....

.....and she is doing it all for rosemary and Steve......not exactly a good thing.Because of some of the comments: Penelope has been diagnosed with osteosarcoma in her right shoulder. This all started last November with what was thought to be arthritis. If you make the photo bigger you can see the tumor and how it has affected her leg. She is alert and tries so very hard to do the things she used to love.....walking in the forest...she can barely get past the cement on the driveway. She used to love car rides but now she can't stand long enough to get her nose out the window. She can only lay on her left side and the spot where her elbow was calloused is now scabbing. This whole thing has been hard to watch. I am ready to let her go....Steve needs more time.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Wordless Wednesday....on Friday.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

A sweeter time. This is a long post.

This is a post about my is long....probably boring....but hopefully my kids will read it. There is no is just a flash of memory....vivid and makes me cry now.

We were watching one of those video justice/cop type shows Friday night. This one focused on drug dealers. On one of the busts there was a shot of some idiot running, dropping weed like he was sprinkling spring seeds along a curb, thinking he could get away from 3 police cars. The arrest took place in front of a little neighborhood store.

You know how people talk about something flashing before their eyes....a memory, an image....I had one of those moments. Since then I have been searching for a particular photo.....can't find it.

From shortly after I was born until I was eight I lived on 3rd Street in Alhambra, California. We were the 4th house up, in the back, across from Mission Boulevard and right next to the train tracks. With the exception of those tracks, it was a quiet neighborhood. There was a mix of elderly and young families, my school was right up the street and my idol, Luanna King, lived in the front house with her dreamy looking brother, Ritchie.

Our house was originally the garage for the front house. My dad worked with Dick King. Dick and his wife Mildred and my mom and dad bought the property together, changed the garage into a house and added another garage space that my folks turned into their bedroom. I had my own bedroom decorated in yellow and green. I remember having a trundle bed and a dresser with glittery paint on it. I had a record player and spent hours in my room playing Hungarian Rhapsody #2, dancing with scarves in my hands until I would fall on the floor in a dramatic pose. I was a happy kid then.

In the back of our house was a dirt "catch." It would be called a culvert or a big ditch now. There was water in the catch most of the time and it held a scary fascination for me. I couldn't swim and my mother told me I could never, ever play by it, cross it, slide down the hill to it....not even think about it....I would drown and she would never find me. I was an only child then and my mother loved me.

Of course I would sneak to the catch whenever I had an opportunity and my friend in crime, Joel Trudeau, was usually right there with me. Every single time I went to the catch I was busted....I always came back with filthy shoes, crusty knees and the butt of my pants would be covered in dirt and mud. I would throw sticks into the water to gauge how deep it was, threw rocks as hard as I could to make a big splash and would tell Joel I could see fish in the water. That was a lie.

There was a small mom and pop store on the corner of 2nd and Mission....just around the corner. It was a dark, one window store with a screen door that slapped shut. The store held everything I loved; wax milk bottles filled with sugar water, dots of candy on a yard long piece of paper, candy cigarettes and chocolate syrup in a can. It also sold "smokes" my mom's favorite candy.

Every day but Sunday I was sent to the store with a note from my mom.....Please sell my daughter Rosemary two packs of .......whatever brand of smokes were the fancy of my mother. On Saturday the note asked for four packs. The store was closed on Sunday. I always got 5 pennies to spend on candy when I went to the store. I remember spending at least 10 minutes every day deciding which candy to buy......the milk bottles usually won....until Tootsie Rolls were added to the selection.

I usually walked alone to the store. There were no worries then of kidnappings, child molesters or murderers walking the streets or driving by. If Joel went with me we took the adventurous route through the catch. Even though I got into trouble when my mom would discover I had been to the catch, I was never spanked. My mom was a yeller not a spanker. That all ended the day I actually fell into the water in the catch. This one time I was alone; no Joel for company. I remember screaming at the top of my lungs and Mrs. Trudeau coming to my rescue.

When Mrs. Trudeau took me home my mother was furious....You could have drowned, you could be laying on the bottom of that catch, what is the matter with you? Do you ever listen to me? Then she realized I had lost her smokes (and my candy) and for the first time I was spanked with a wooden spoon. I also got the Do you know how hard your father works for that money? lecture.

Life went on. Obviously I didn't drown, but I stayed away from the catch after that. We moved in 1952 to Primrose Avenue and between May of that year and 1954 my life was turned inside out.

My grandmother died the summer of 1952. My mother never recovered from losing her. My brother was born prematurely in July of '52. He was a sickly baby and my mom and dad's obsession with him made me an after thought. My father changed companies and started driving long haul for Roscoe Moss Water Company. My dad was drinking all of the time and my mother started sleeping on the couch. She also started a string of affairs with me as the witness....affairs with neighbors, trucker friends of my dad, husbands of her friends and there was the famous affair with Leonard Birdsong that ended when my dad served her with divorce papers. That story is for another post someday.

The house on Primrose was large and in a beautiful neighborhood with trees and big yards. I could skate around and around the block for hours....kerplunking over the lines in the sidewalk. But, I never felt at home there for some reason. I had my own bedroom but it was a postscript room attached to my brother's room. It had French doors that my dad took down so I had no privacy and the rule was whatever was mine was my brother's.

The one familiar and comforting thing in that unfamiliar place was the neighborhood store two blocks down. Same ambiance, same notes for smokes but I remember Herbert Tarrington being the smoke of choice then. The Library was another two blocks down and that little corner of my neighborhood became my home. By the time I was in sixth grade my mother drove to get her smokes. The store became my own place, not a note destination. I walked by it every day before school and would wave to the young family that owned it. I stayed at the Library after school until it closed so I didn't have to go straight home.

I never got back that feeling of happiness and love after we moved from 3rd Street. I became a sullen, lonely kid and that probably made it harder to love me. Whatever. It is just a flash of memory now.....vivid but it makes me cry.

When we were in California last November I made Steve drive to the old place on 3rd Street. The photo I was looking for was one of me with my parents in front of the house. I can't find it now. Here is one of me in front of the garage addition (see my mom's writing) holding Sandy my very favorite dollie.

This is a photo I took last November of the house. It looked recently remodeled....and lovely.

This is in front of the Primrose house.....on the porch is my Auntie Marcella holding my brother and me with a candy "smoke" in my mouth....quite a pose don't you think? My mom and dad are standing.

This is the house now. My recluse, mildly autistic, asshole brother lives there now. It is a dump. The roof is the same one that my folks had put on in 1952. It is raggedy and missing pieces. The front porch is cracked and the steps are falling apart. The back yard is filled with soda cans and my dad's '56 Chevy Nomad is on flat tires and rusted. The one thing that is the same is the pole hand rail outside the back door that I would swing under bypassing the steps. That is my son Art being a nosey Parker on the porch.

A vivid memory.....makes me cry.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Monday, April 06, 2009

The Swallows of Sandpoint

I originally posted this in 2007 on the 19th of March. The story is exactly the same... the swallows are just a bit late arriving this year. There are new photos below the post. I really know it is spring when these wonderful little creatures come back home.

For eons swallows have been coming back to Mission San Juan Capistrano in California. They usually arrive around the feast of Saint Joseph, March 19th...TODAY. The mission plans a huge event in anticipation of the swallows appearance; people from all over the state and surrounding areas come to the mission with high hopes....but the swallows rarely arrive on the day of the event. I have seen them once and I have probably visited the mission dozens of times.

Swallows are interesting birds. The mission swallows make their nests out of mud and they are attached to the sides of the buildings. One year when there was restoration going on at the mission the swallows decided to nest on the side of a three story home close to the mission. The folks that lived there were really happy to have the birds as guests and were featured on a TV special. Bet they weren't happy when those hundreds of birds started pooping everywhere that year or the years that followed when they couldn't get the birds to nest back at the mission.

On April 1st, 2000 we broke ground and poured the foundation for our addition. There were construction guys everywhere and our four garages were open all day long. About 2 weeks into the project one of the workers said to me.....Hey, have you seen the birds that are nesting in your box over in the shop garage? Of course I had not...he showed me where he had seen the birds and low and behold there was a barn swallow swooping in and out of the garage with nest material. The bird had chosen an office box filled with policy and procedure manuals. The box was the kind with punch outs for lifting. The bird was landing in the lift opening and then hopping in, scratching around, flying out and repeating this over and over.

It turned out not to be one swallow but three, all taking turns flying in and out to make their nest. Not needing but one little thing for me to start worrying, I immediately wondered what would happen when we closed the garage for the night. Solution? Leave it open. My husband was as fascinated and concerned about the birds as I was and we spent hours watching those industrious birds.

It took only a few days for the nest to be completed and then began the hatching rotation. We think the three birds took turns sitting on the eggs. I read that males and females share this job. I didn't chronicle the time this first generation of birds lived in our garage box, but it was weeks. They would fly in and out, little bugs and insects in their mouths, feeding the egg sitter and waiting for those babies to hatch.

Eventually the feeding became more frequent and we heard the chirping of a multitude of babies all hungry at the same time. We would stand in the garage hidden by tools and boxes and watch these wonderful parents swoop in and out over and over again taking care of their blended family.

We took a zillion rolls of film. All we managed to capture at first was the blur of wings and tails, but sure enough one day there was a little head peeking out of the box slot. Our bird watching became longer and longer as we marveled at these babies. It had become a drive through restaurant for these sweet little birds; parents shopping for bugs, babies fighting over who occupied more of the slot and got fed first. We finally captured 3 babies in the slot right before they left the nest.

For two years anticipating the arrival of spring we started leaving the garage door open on March 19th. In 2001 the birds arrived March 31st and stayed until the end of July. In 2002 they came home April 5th and left on vacation early August. We decided that year we needed to stop leaving the garage open 24/7. Steve came up with the brilliant idea (really) to build a wooden box under the balcony that is right next to the garage opening and move the paper box into that wood one. We waited anxiously in 2003 for the swallows to arrive. They showed up a little early on March 17th. It took a day for them to find the box but when they did they began their yearly ritual of house keeping, throwing out old nest material and starting all over again.

The swallows have returned every year since that first generation hatched. We still watch them for hours, clap with happiness when we see the babies peek out for the first time and think they are GPS wonders. After leaving the nest parents and youngsters fly over the house for about 2 weeks occasionally staying overnight in the box. When everyone is fully oriented they leave on their fall and winter trip south.

There is still a lot of snow on the ground and few bugs at the moment. But no matter, these birds manage to make it back home every year and find enough to eat. Their birdar is active this year and they arrived right on time THIS MORNING!! I was coming back about 7:15 from getting the paper when I heard their familiar zzzrrpp...kind of like electricity singing along a power line. We are never sure if it is the parents or the babies that return but they are so very welcome! Here is the bird box under the balcony!

2009 adults have arrived!!!!

Sunday, April 05, 2009

A meme from Jennie in the hood....

How to operate this meme:
Post six (or four or three...whatever) random funny things about other people. Like I've done.
Then tag six other bloggers to complete a meme of their own (see below).

Your random funny things MUST be funny! Make us laugh! We don't care if we really shouldn't be laughing...but that will earn you extra points.

1. Steve always blames the dogs for making smellies. Steve travels a lot. He always falls asleep at take off. He finally admitted that he once made a smellie while falling asleep at take off as he sat next to a fairly attractive woman but he was not so very asleep that he didn't know that he did make a smellie and he woke up. The fairly attractive woman looked for and changed seats as soon as the seat belt light went off.

2. Steve and I always took Charlie with us in the car.... to the market...anywhere. On a trip to Staples, Charlie got to ride shotgun because I stayed home. We always leave the windows partially down for air for the dogs (and never leave them in the car for long and never take them in hot or really cold weather). Steve goes into Staples...buys whatever.....goes to the check out desk and there is a dog behind the desk that looks a lot like Charlie. Steve comments that the dog looks like his dog, checks out, goes to the car, drives all the way home, comes inside and I am laughing because while Steve was shopping, Staples called and left a message saying they had found our dog and would hold him until we came to get him (we have our phone # embroidered on all of the dog's collars). Steve had totally forgotten he had taken Charlie.....had to drive back and pick up the dog that looked a lot like our dog...because it was our dog!

3. I gave Steve a fish tie for some occasion. He absolutely raved about loving it so I packed it for a business trip thinking it could be a conversation piece. No fish tie when he came back from the trip, I asked him where it was, he lied and said he must have forgotten it but eventually he admitted he hated the tie didn't wear it and left it in the hotel room!

4. We don't have trash service where we live. We have to go to the refuse station...commonly called the dump! At our dump there is a recycle/free table/shed that someone labeled The Colburn Mall (because the dump is off of Colburn-Culver Road). They even have a sign above the tables/shed with that name. When Sachi was visiting last year she got to go to the dump with her Papa and Daddy. I think we over talked the mall stuff, because as soon as they arrived at the "Mall/dump" she went shopping. Gil said she latched onto a puffy woman's jacket that had the added features of stains and smell and was insistent she wanted was pretty and free according to Sachi. She didn't bring it home, but we all got a good laugh hearing about her shopping trip.

I won't tag anyone specifically. Every time I do that no one does the meme. Please do visit Jennie though....her 6 things are really funny.

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Let me know.....

....if we "match." Take a look at Jan's post on pets and owner's matching. Except for the fact that Steve and I don't wear collars......Steve, me and Violet could be siblings!
You get the added benefit of Gil in this photo.
Another benefit....remember SweetPea, Emma and Guido's she is with me....and my Violet-like hair!

Friday, April 03, 2009

Just another day in the life of a.....

...hospice kitty.

My sweet, adorable Fuzzy loves his bed with the heated pad. He has made a little hammock-like center and can nap there for hours.......
....except for those times when his little sister, Emma, decides she wants to hog the center and Fuzzy has to lay on the edge of the pad.

He miaowed and miaowed for me to lift him onto the napper in the snorage room. I did. I am quite good at understanding cat.

After sleeping in the napper for a few hours he decided to mosey down stairs to watch ice melt. It doesn't take much to make him happy.
Fuzz has turned into my energizer cat-bunny. He was at death's door and presto-chango he is a cat again. Yes, he has bowel cancer, has lost probably 10 pounds (he was 20) and has that little paranoid thing he does when he turns a corner or exits/enters a room....but he is comfortable, does not exhibit any signs of being in pain, is not on any medication and poops every day!!!

Wednesday, April 01, 2009