DSCN1328.JPGI fell off the wagon.  I ate beef recently.  I know, I know…  I had taken my daughter-in-law for girls night out.  We went to see the new Peanuts movie.  Yume loves the Peanuts stories, characters, books, you name it.  So, it was a perfect set-up. I need to add that I go to the movies once every three years.  The movie I had seen prior to Peanuts was Argo in 2012.  There it is, the frequency with which I visit movie theaters makes going to see a movie a momentous occasion.  Our momentous occasion took on even greater proportions when the movie was over and we decided to drive till we found a place to eat at 9:30p.m. in Sacramento.  That wasn’t such a bad plan, but with me driving I noticed the Davis sign on the freeway and I knew that I had lapsed into non-functioning navigational skills.

It’s a good thing I wasn’t pointed in the opposite direction or I might have ended up in Oregon.

I spied an In-N-Out and upon closer inspection noticed the snaking cars waiting for their opportunity to order.  Ugh.  Not for me.  However, right next to this site was a weird Redrum Burger place.  We were both ready for something to eat.  It was 9:45 and she was far from her apartment in Sacramento.  What the heck, we will dine in this fine establishment.

First of all, they didn’t have inside dining.  It was cold.  Order anyway, eat in the relative comfort of the car. We both ordered 1/4 pounders.  Plain dead cow.  But what’s this?  They also offered burgers made of kangaroo and ostrich!!  No s***!  Such sacrilege.  How do they manage?  Wow!  Now I not only felt guilty for breaking my own personal edict, but I ordered from an establishment that does burgers exotic!  The place had some very young employees cooking and taking orders.  What do they know? What did I know?  In a moment of weakness manifest by hunger and misdirection, I fell off the wagon.

Update:  Since my initial visit to Redrum (on the back of their menu was an interesting story of the restaurant’s history) I discovered that the kangaroo option is no more.  Now, the bison burger is among the top two most exotic choices.  I took my Japanese homestay student over there for lunch and she went with Bison Burger.  Her assessment?  “Tastes like beef.”


Harleys Are In Town


imageYou know that bucket list?  Mine included a ride on a bike.  A Harley.  I don’t know a single soul in our family or among our friends who have one…wimpy folk.  But, doesn’t it just suggest a wild streak?   So, I made a pact with myself.  The next time motorcycles, specifically Harleys, come to our town, I am going to be there front row and center.  I will present my case, “Can you please take me for a ride?”  Our town is about 8,000 strong.  Not much going on.  But, I was determined to make my wish come true next time the Harleys arrived.  I did.  I walked to the downtown bar where they congregate shortly after I heard rumbling and I knew what it meant.  I walked with conviction over to the first three men I saw sporting the distinctive leather jackets and standing beside their bikes.

Before I could speak, one very intuitive biker asked, “Where do you want to go?”  I had hit the Mother Lode.  Instinctively he knew I wanted a ride.  Unfortunately, his bike did not come equipped with a passenger seat.  Second guy begged off.  That left happy Mr. #3. Well, maybe curious Mr. #3. Okay, more like cautious Mr. #3.  I had to convince him I wasn’t trouble.  I explained I just needed to fulfill this wish from my bucket.  He gave a questioning look but ultimately agreed and said, “Hop on.”  I dutifully placed the helmet on my head, and like the pros, I put my arms around his waist — time tested security measure — and off we went.

Five minutes into the ride around town I told him my name and he said his name was Jim.

“Who are you trying to make jealous?”  Jim asked.

“No ulterior motive, I just wanted a ride on a Harley and I took this as my opportunity,” I assured him.

The ride would not be complete until I asked if he could make sure to pass by some teenagers I knew.  “Look, is that Mrs. Wright on that Harley?”  I imagined they would exclaim.  My plan did not take root.  In the 15 minute ride, I never saw a single teenager.  Damn!  Where are they when you want them?!

So, the ride ended, and it was so worth it.  Jim came to trust me, and we parted with an amicable handshake.  Most importantly, I fulfilled my bucket list wish with a little bit of moxie and a lot of glee.

Made In Not China


DSCN0030The tag on the item says Made In The Philippines. This is actually the same as saying, Made In Not China. With regards to the place of origin I have pieces of clothing that hail from Mexico, Vietnam, Guatemala, Hong Kong, Sri Lanka, India, Indonesia, and my personal favorite, Qatar. What?! I had to get the world map out to familiarize myself with that one.  A token nod is given to the two tops and one dress I own that, surprisingly, are a product of the U.S.A.  I get it, labor is cheaper overseas.  I think a fitting project for a high school geography/sociology teacher would be to have students go through their clothing, find a piece made in a foreign country, and do research for a paper complete with data on sweatshops and how the garment industry has altered (for better or worse) the economy and the lives of…

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102 Degrees

Some years back our rooftop air conditioning unit became dysfunctional. It would only take $17,000 to replace it. I don’t think so. Growing up as an Orange County girl I lived where weather didn’t exist. Once, in acute delirium, I stepped away from California to a place where people were known to use the expression, “There’s a front a comin’ in.” Well, in Orange County we don’t say things like that, we just recite the mantra, “Thank God this isn’t Minnesota…they are still shoveling snow!” Back to the dysfunction. We have developed amazing adaptive qualities. We didn’t replace the unit and we have been living without A/C ever since. When anyone in the house complains of the heat I point to the pool. There’s your relief.

Here in Northern California summers can usher in those triple digits. This may be sacrilege to some but I pay homage to the heat. As long as it’s hot that means it is not winter. A high temperature is just the ticket for me. Less clothes to have to wear. I do not go swimming in January. Winter, bad. Not winter, good. That vision of Minnesota. Ugh. Besides all you have to do when the heat persists, assuming you do not have a pool, is step into any Safeway. The refrigerated air inside makes it possible to hang and preserve a side of beef…in the aisles.

Winter is full of foreboding. Always battling cold symptoms and such. Bone-chilling air. Three sweaters layered. Summer serves as respite from the cold and we do not miss our air conditioner. A $17,000 cache could pay for the fun provided by multiple trips to New York City (see NYC).

102 degrees…and climbing. Splash.





Spanish for the weeping woman. In Mexican folklore, La Llorona was known to pass through the streets crying over the fact that her children were gone and she was weeping as she went. La Llorona appears as a spirit.

I spent two days in a psychiatric hospital some years back. Psychosis sent me there. It really wasn’t scary, really. It was a very quiet place. Therapists, nurses, counselors. All poised and ready to provide for the residents. Those of us there in need of respite.

My Llorona came to me in the form of my roommate. A woman in residence for undisclosed reasons. Undisclosed to me anyway. She cried. Under her covers. Consistently one entire morning. Enough already. As we were summoned, it was time to eat, I stepped near her bed and urged her to move. Anything to shush her crying. I went on my way, because I do not like cold reheated food.

My La Llorona quit crying and joined us at breakfast. I do not believe that lost children had anything to do with the weeping displayed by my La Llorona sharing space with me at the psych hospital. Who knows? I suppose it isn’t always important what triggers tears. Just make sure breakfast isn’t sacrificed over weeping.


My exposure to Spanish came first from the spoken word in my home. In my earliest years I recall hearing it often. My mom came from Guadalajara, Mexico and moved to California in the 1950s. She demonstrated courage and resolve as she gained skills in her second language.

Mami became the domestic goddess extraordinaire. She took care of her two daughters while she cooked and baked. Her knack for producing perfect meringue which graced the lemon pies was not lost on me. To this day lemon meringue is my pie of choice. She sewed, knitted, and embroidered. She painted. She sang. She served as the self-ordained landscaper. Carefully choosing plants and trees to adorn the front and backyard. She did the mowing.

The days she and I spent at the beach were the highlight of my visits. Mami loved the ocean, the seashells she collected. Swimming was not her calling but she appreciated the crashing of the waves and the sea spray. Proving to be much smarter and more cautious then her daughter (who dismissed the importance of protection) she always wore a wide-brimmed straw hat while urging her wayward daughter to do same.

I have lost the one person in my life who understood the lyrics to the song, Las Mañanitas. It is a traditional Spanish song offered at the celebration of a birthday. I would place a phone call to my Mami and when she answered I would regale her with a serenade of the song native to her birthplace.

Mami outlived two of her sisters. Her own mother reached her early eighties. Longevity seemed to favor Mami, with one caveat. In the last few years of her life dementia robbed her of her speech. Phone calls were very difficult to maneuver through. Though I could speak to her in Spanish, it was never quite clear which language she was using. It all sounded like gibberish to me. Sigh.

Mami you have been given release. I will see you again one day.



Sometimes I Don’t Know My Ass From A Hole In The Ground


This was the statement I made to my supervisor in a telephone conversation. She was in charge of district-wide testing of all ESL students and I was one among the staff members responsible for administering these tests and working the follow-up clerical tasks. Clerical work has always tested my resolve. This annual testing ritual was met with mixed emotions. I enjoyed interacting with students. Paperwork, on the other hand, was torturous.

I had commandeered one classroom which served as the holding place for piles of tests. That is to say I carefully arranged test forms by grade level and assigned each pile a different desk top. And then I stared at each pile. I stared for a couple weeks. All of us working this cycle of testing had a deadline. I knew the deadline. However, that did not make a dent in the staring binge I had launched into. I was to use a certain protocol to detect anomalies, correct them and record data in a binder. Ugh.

My work was not progressing. I had elevated staring at the piles to an art form. They were right there on the same desk tops that I had placed them on nearly four weeks prior, undisturbed. I called my supervisor.

“What was that process … I think I forgot step 4a … You mean there is no step 4a …What happened to it?”

Ultimately, I had to confess. “Sometimes I don’t know my ass from a hole in the ground.”

The supervisor roared with laughter. I collected the tests, took them to her office and she finished the clerical ordeal. Sometimes.

Registrar of Voters

Do you long for a mindnumbing clerical job? Do you pine away for some task that keeps you at your desk for eight hours a day? Well then, step right up into what proved to have been the way in which I spent each workday for two-and-a-half years. Santa Ana, CA was home to the Orange County Registrar of Voters. In my life during early 1978 to mid-1980.

Imagine the pleasure of working around the clock on election nights. That was when I wasn’t discovering second-hand smoke. Smoking policy was quite different in that era. The largely female-occupied office space was populated by over half the workers puffing away. The woman to my right, two women behind me and my supervisor two desks down.

I was hired with the title “Temporary Extra Help” which translated to no benefits, no benefits, no benefits, ever. Over two years of no benefits…and low pay.

A smoke-filled, very large office. Oh we had windows, but they didn’t open. Sad faces dotted the landscape of this place. My fellow workers seemed to send a message.  Didn’t bode well.

So, after my two plus years of fielding phone queries, using the files to file, and the microfiche to microfiche, I left. I thought I would die there at my desk. After all some of the women seemed to have already arrived at that destination.

Time to leave the clerical pool.


As in the colony of feral cats that use our backyard, front yard, and outdoor furniture to defecate in, spray on, and sun themselves.

The previous owners of our property left me canned cat food and instructions regarding feeding the cats. You are kidding me, right? You don’t really expect me to feed wild cats, do you? That was 21 years ago. The colony now consists of six cats…I think. We see them parading around “their” domain. I have to say that they look pretty good. Fur that appears to be a reflection of the healthy and steady diet provided them by a neighbor on the other side of the fence. There hasn’t been a litter in years. There is an organized group in the area whose mission it is to spay/neuter the ferals and return them to their spot. I could do without the return.

But poop, and urine, and spray aside, there is one disturbing activity that these ferals   are responsible for. They kill birds. This morning I stepped outside to retrieve our trash bin when I noticed a cat on the driveway. One of the ferals. It dashed away the moment I saw him and that was when I saw the bird on the cement seemingly lifeless. Upon closer inspection I saw that it was a dove. We have had two doves — I am not sure but I think a dove pair mates for life — taking up residence on one utility pole in our yard. I love their unique call.

Dammit! Damn those cats! The dove was still alive but badly mauled. I couldn’t throw it away in its condition. I placed it in a bucket and covered it. When I made another trip to the bucket, it was certainly dead.

Feral cats beware. I am on to you.