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.


I feel a special kinship with Shirley Temple who was born 90 years ago. She was born in Santa Monica Hospital, the same hospital I was born in 26 years later. Child stars are cute, precocious, and generally quite talented but I think Shirley was uniquely gifted.

Gertrude Temple already had two sons. Throughout her pregnancy she hoped for a girl — hope was realized. At about 3 years of age Shirley was occupying space in dance class where she was discovered.

I have all of her young childhood movies. I am cueing one right now. I am not much of a singer but that doesn’t prevent me from belting out “On The Good Ship Lollipop”.

I scrutinize her tap moves. As far as I am concerned she exhibits flawless execution. Bill “Bojangles” Robinson served as Shirley’s partner as they navigated the “stair dance” in the movie The Little Colonel. One of the most impressive tap numbers with the two dancers holding hands — a controversial scene for the time.

I did not receive dance lessons at the age of 3, 5, or even 15, I began my tap lessons in college at the age of 20. Today I teach tap classes to adults. Thank you Shirley for the inspiration, the delight of watching you, and the joy.

Michael Kors

The fragrance I enjoy. No, I don’t just enjoy it, I live it.

I purchase the largest bottle they have. “They” represented by Macy’s and occasionally the perfume kiosk, center mall.

I discovered Mr. Kors quite by accident. Somewhere around 2007. I went shopping with $120.00 in my purse. I was itchin’ for something new to me. I had been known to use Chloe previously. I like cute bottles. Kors isn’t exactly what I would call cute. But the fragrance is orgasmic! Oh my God, who invented this stuff? Right. Michael did.

My initial purchase came to $95. Okay, so I had enough left over for an order of fries, medium lemonade, and corn dog. Although I am not at all certain that eating even matters when I am wearing Michael.

As life evolves I am reminded of the attractive feature Michael Kors provides. Many (really, many) opportunities have presented themselves to hear a woman in any shopping venue (or even the place where I bank) ask me, “What is that perfume?” “It’s wonderful!” I happily provide the answer.

Maybe we can all walk around feeling orgasmic.

Budgies & Pip

In order of acquisition, Pip*, the female finch came first. So cute. So dainty…delicate. Delicate things “break” and I will get to that. She came via the mom of one of my students. Mom had her own finch caged in the dining room. I admired it and asked where she had found such a sweet bird. “La pulga”, was her answer. The Antioch flea market. I had never been, so I was clueless. I have learned that a man comes up from Mexico laden with animals to sell at the fea markets. And plenty of birds. Sometimes in reaching for a designated bird he loses another one or two. So, she picked up a sweet female finch for whom I had already prepared a cage. I placed a bamboo nest within the cage. That is the place she would fly into, very quickly. She was stealth. Loved her. I “harvested” 5 eggs from her cage and I placed them in my freezer. After nearly three years, she passed. After no sound came from her cage one afternoon, I unhooked the nest to find her inside, eyes shut, in sleeping position, still. She had “broken.” I did not dispose of her eggs for another year.

*She was named after the dot on a domino. A pip.

I don’t like empty cages. I purchased another cage and adopted Daisy and Starr, my first pair of budgies — parakeets. One quite green and the other a pale blue and pale yellow combination of gorgeous. Daisy boasted very long tail feathers. She was the only bird who would allow me to handle her. There was nothing not to like about that bird. Except her death. It came at only 10 months. Starr followed after another year. Starr was the most vocal. She/he, I am never quite sure, is missed.  Some time back I found a strange albino parakeet (see, Albino) complete with pink eyes and he rests comfortably beside the vacated Starr cage. He is quite nervous. Won’t let me touch him. His name is Jelly Bean. Watch the movie Slither for reference.

Replacements exist. Not to sound cold, but budgies are calling. I made my way to the pet store. Just the other day I found Loco with grayish green breast and yellow head. This budgie is getting acclimated. Bought her a new mirror and she uses Starr’s used (washed) swing. Less skittish than Jelly Bean.

Looking forward to a long, healthy relationship.



My phone, your phone, iPhone

I actually had to research spelling of iPhone…because I don’t have one. Hopelessly out of touch. But that’s so negative. How about, I am not a sheep. I never follow the crowd.

My hair does not follow the trend in favor of straight. Curls for me since I was little. I have never found the appeal in looking like everyone else. When I was a teenager in high school I sewed my clothes. I was not a seamstress of the premium level so my clothes may have spoken to that, but I didn’t care. I stood out. No other girl had my outfit on. Mission accomplished.

Now, phones. Mine is a Great Call flip phone. Meant for senior citizens. Big numbers. Not until last night did I ever feel hopelessly out of touch. But then we went bowling. I took the Groupon with me that I had dutifully printed out at home with great expectations. My expectations were dashed. There in the bowling alley the woman announced that my print out was null and void. My copy did not show a bar code, AND, fine print explained I was to use my smart phone. Smart? So, I suppose that means I am in possession of a dumb phone.

I use my cell phone for making outgoing calls, taking incoming calls, and not much else. There is, somewhere, a method by which I can actually text. What if I don’t want to text? Features like texting are remarkably useless to me. My cell only goes off with an incoming call when I’m driving or in class running a lesson. That’s it. The height at which my lifeline operates. I do have a school director in charge of quite a number of students and teaching staff. I will give her credit for that. Every so often she feels she needs to call me and her conversation to me is punctuated with, “Cyndi can…(kids talking to her) you bri…(bad connection)…no the res…(parents talking to her)…see yo…okay?” What?

I took on ownership of my cell in ’05 after a scare on the highway. My family insisted. I relented. And here I am with a dumb phone. I hate, hate, hate (enough loathing?) hearing phones going off in the workplace. You’re at work, hello! But perhaps even more than my aversion for phones going off, is the visual of folks walking around holding their blessed phone at the horizontal. So cute. People walking side-by-side presumably friends or family, but they are not in conversation with one another, too busy admiring their phone…and looking down. Ugh.

To Languish

I may be premature. I have been in the past.

There is a distinct possibility that my son Lance, his wife Yume, and their children will return to Japan. Permanently.

They have been living in Sacramento, three years, and by all accounts they have taken up residence with contentment. Yume has even been known to remark how much she enjoys California. Three years and the commentary is now all about the extent to which my daughter-in-law is very homesick. I am aware that she has been there before. Each wave of homesickness met with a more calm and quiet resolve to enjoy her present circumstances and ride it out. Maybe this wave will be the last. Maybe this wave will prove to firm up her mindset to return to Japan.

Who should know better than I what it is to possess resolve? What it is to be homesick. What it is to collapse from languish. I lived for nine years in a foreign country. The country called Oklahoma. Brutal weather and accents so thick that at times I couldn’t make out what the conversation was all about. Painful. They don’t even have an ocean in Oklahoma. Wha? My 20+ years of keeping time with the tide while I frequented my favorite sandy spots along the coast was the joy of a beach girl. A transplanted beach girl not coping well.

It isn’t necessary that I go into all the details. All the minutiae. Keep in mind my favorite movie is The Wizard Of Oz. There’s no place like home.

I don’t wish that brand of languish on Lance’s wife. When their second baby is born next June, I will be at their place once Yume is discharged from the hospital. I will lend a hand with all the cleaning, laundry, and errands while she breastfeeds, and tries for a post-maternity nap.

This gesture on my part may serve to alleviate some of her homesickness. Or not. And if they go through with their plans to move to Japan, so be it. I know what it is to languish in a foreign country.

Plane tickets at $2,000, round trip, are looking like reality to us. All of my vacations centered on designating when I can work around my jobs. I have never met Yume’s mom. Her folks were not at the wedding. No. If Lance and co. do make the move, my change jar will have to grow exponentially to support visits…and meet her family. And rid the atmosphere of any vestige of languish.