Category Archives: Memoir

LITTLE HORSES ON THE GROUND

Last week I saw the most amazing sight.

I had gone to the mainland to see my grandson play in a baseball tournament. Hayden graduates from high school this year, and my chances to see him play ball are dwindling. So I headed North, with Ashley and my sister Mariya,  to the utmost edge of the U.S.A. (not counting Alaska) near Blaine. Washington.

We got as far as Bellingham before a stop at a coffee shop was needed. I was actually surprised we got out of Anacortes without stopping to see Ashley’s favorite barista, but that was a good thing, as she stopped in Fairhaven. Bellingham is made up with a bunch of little towns that kind of grew together. Fairhaven is the oldest, and the buildings are of the historic type. Reminded me a bit of Old Sacramento. I bought some licorice, while they got their coffee and some fab cheesecake… and took photos.

We neared Baine and started looking for Pipeline Road and the baseball fields. Driving country roads is always a treat.  “Stop the car!”  We had just passed 15 ponies lying on the ground. All of them lying on the ground. And they were all Palominos. It was something to see and we went back to take a photo. When I got out of the car and went to the edge of the road, a few stood up. By the time I jumped the ditch and got to the fence they were all looking my way… like dogs expecting a treat. I wished then I had some apples in my pocket rather than licorice. Those little ponies made me think of my friend Jaime, who raises miniature horses to be guide animals. They did their bit for a unique photo-op. I will never forget the sight of those horses.

We find the baseball tournament, and Friday Harbor wins one and loses one. I take a bunch of pics. The usual baseball pics… Hayden at bat… Hayden in the field… Hayden running the bases… that kind of stuff. Later, I notice one shot I took with my phone… I think it’s pretty cool. 

BOB DYLAN REVISITED


The other day, Stephen Elliott of The Rumpus said this… “I’ve been reading about Bob Dylan in 1965. He was tired of music and fame and he went to upstate New York to live in a cabin and be alone. He didn’t even bring a guitar. He said he quit music. After five days he started writing what many consider the best songs of his career.” That got me to thinking…

I saw Bob Dylan in 1965 at the Memorial Auditorium in Sacramento. A girl I was interested in at the time suggested I take her, as she had no money to buy a ticket. I had no idea who Bob Dylan was, but thought it was in my best interest to buy the tickets.

The Auditorium seats 3,000… there were about 600 in attendance, scattered all about. Bob came out on the stage… a skinny guy with a guitar and a folding chair. He sat down, strummed his guitar and sang a song. After a few songs, he told everyone to come down and sit in the chairs on the main floor. In those days no one stood at the front of the stage and lit matches or waved Bics… and certainly not cell phones. I thought that was a cool move on his part.

I enjoyed the concert and my introduction into the World of Bob Dylan. I didn’t get laid that night, but I did get a Bob Dylan record the next day.

Highway 61 Revisited was that album.

俳句… HAIKU BOMBERS #4… “When the Moon Hits Your Eye”

Lost in endless space
My first telescopic gift
Moon, Stars my new friends.

Backyard after dark,
Oohs and awes with each focus
Celestial beings.

And, Steely Dan says
‘That The Stars Come Out At Night’,
Oh, they do…they do!

✣ ✣ ✣ ✣ ✣ ✣ ✣ ✣

I don’t know how ideas come into people’s minds. When I looked at Quill’s Haiku photo prompt, I thought… “what in the hell am I going to do with that?”. Then it hit me… My telescope!

When I was in college, I had to pick an elective science course. I chose Astronomy. One night the class went out to look at the stars, there were only a few telescopes and about 30 budding astronomers. The next day I bought a telescope. That night I set it up in my parent’s backyard, and marveled at the Moon. The stars were not that big a deal with my little telescope, but the Moon… That was Fantastic! The telescope also came in handy at the next field trip… there were a lot of girls in that class.

When my daughter Krista went off to Chicago to attend The Theater School of DePaul University, she too had to pick an elective science course. I suggested Astronomy.

I don’t know why I thought of that, so I called and said “Hey, how did you like that Astronomy class in college?”. She said “Oh, I don’t know. I was an acting major, and it was at 8 o’clock in the morning. The lights were always out, and it made me sleepy”. She did say that she thought she  enjoyed it.  But, I am reminded, that recently when a comet or some such celestial phenom was due, she stayed up half the night in sleeping bags outside, so her daughter could witness the event.

Two years ago, I was staying with a friend in Sacramento. Her neighbor had a big telescope in his backyard. He invited us over for a look. As I focused the full Moon into view, I got the same chills I had experienced over 45 years before.

Looking for an elective science?  Astronomy!

✣ ✣ ✣ ✣ ✣ ✣

Quill Shiv took The Haiku Bombers into Space this week… here’s the link if you would like to try… https://quillshiv.wordpress.com/2012/03/27/haiku-bombers-prompt-4/

FRIDAY FLASH FICTIONEERS… Bang!

                                          1959… Modoc County, California

Cruising down a rutted farm road. Clinging for dear life to the hood of a ’48 Mercury… engine purring, one of those Moon footprint gas pedals on the floor.  Searching for rabbits, frozen in their tracks by blare of the headlights piercing our way through the darkness.  I’m scared, cold, excited and have never seen ‘so many stars come out at night’.

There’s one!!!

I blast away with the 10 gauge… it’s a wonder I don’t fly off the Merc. I didn’t hit any that night.

What else would you expect from a city slicker?

This story is a contribution to Friday Flash Fictioneers… see what it’s all about @  Madison Woods and read the many takes on her photo prompt.


俳句… HAIKU BOMBERS #2… St. Paddy’s Tacos

          Quill Shiv has a new Haiku writing prompt… A photo of Saint Patrick.  
My result:
                         You can make your own 
                         corned beef, cabbage and salsa
                         at the taco bar.
 
Corned Beef and Cabbage Tacos… In 1986, back in my Restaurant Days, I went to work for Jerry Franco.  Jerry was a bit of a culinary impresario on the Sacramento restaurant scene.  He had just reopened The Town House on 21st Street, down the block from The Sacramento Bee newspaper.  The Town House had been a Mexican Food tradition, and had been sitting empty for a few years after the owner retired.   Franco had opened in a blaze of glory, courting the news hounds and the denizens of California State Government. Having just left a job managing The Fabulous Fifties Cafe, I was ready to mingle with and serve adults.  So I went to work for Jerry as a waiter/bartender/manager.
It was a fun place to work, and we did some crazy promotions to try to make the The Town House a success.  Big lunch business, big after-work bar business.  He kept a few Mexican items on the menu, along with the ‘Upscale Designer’ dishes he came up with.  Each Happy Hour, we featured a Taco Bar, where the patrons could make their own tacos, to wash down with their Martinis and G & T’s.  For me, that taco bar was a pain in the ass, since I had to leave the bar and run back in the kitchen to replenish the supplies.  But the tips were pretty good as long as the food held out.
Saint Patrick’s Day was coming up, and The Town House, along with every other bar and restaurant in Sacramento… no, in the United States… was looking for ways to make some money off one of our more important Drinking Holidays.  I had the bright idea to put corned beef and cabbage on our Taco Bar for the day.  Jerry agreed that it was a brilliant idea, and gave me full credit, in case it bombed.  Getting free publicity was not too difficult, since we always made sure to ‘take good care of’ certain writers from up the street.  Low and behold, we saw some nice mentions in the gossip and the What’s Going On In Town sections of the Bee the day before, and our Happy Hour was packed that St. Paddy’s Day.  In fact, two guys drove down from Hangtown at lunch time to try the CB&C Tacos.  I had to plead with the cook to make some for them.  At Happy Hour, the idea was well received, lots of new people came in, and best of all… Mr. Franco even stuck around to help stock the Taco Bar.
So, when I saw the photo prompt for this week’s Haiku… for some reason, I thought of those Corned Beef and Cabbage Tacos, and working at The Town House.
About 4 months later, I left for the Neon Restaurant Lights of Chicago.  I later heard that the Town House had closed and that Franco was the chef at a seafood joint in Cape Cod.  Last time I was in SacTown, it was a gay bar.

俳句… HAIKU BOMBERS #2… St. Paddy’s Tacos

          Quill Shiv has a new Haiku writing prompt… A photo of Saint Patrick.  

My result:

                         You can make your own 
                         corned beef, cabbage and salsa
                         at the taco bar.

Corned Beef and Cabbage Tacos… In 1986, back in my Restaurant Days, I went to work for Jerry Franco.  Jerry was a bit of a culinary impresario on the Sacramento restaurant scene.  He had just reopened The Town House on 21st Street, down the block from The Sacramento Bee newspaper.  The Town House had been a Mexican Food tradition, and had been sitting empty for a few years after the owner retired.   Franco had opened in a blaze of glory, courting the news hounds and the denizens of California State Government. Having just left a job managing The Fabulous Fifties Cafe, I was ready to mingle with and serve adults.  So I went to work for Jerry as a waiter/bartender/manager.

It was a fun place to work, and we did some crazy promotions to try to make the The Town House a success.  Big lunch business, big after-work bar business.  He kept a few Mexican items on the menu, along with the ‘Upscale Designer’ dishes he came up with.  Each Happy Hour, we featured a Taco Bar, where the patrons could make their own tacos, to wash down with their Martinis and G & T’s.  For me, that taco bar was a pain in the ass, since I had to leave the bar and run back in the kitchen to replenish the supplies.  But the tips were pretty good as long as the food held out.

Saint Patrick’s Day was coming up, and The Town House, along with every other bar and restaurant in Sacramento… no, in the United States… was looking for ways to make some money off one of our more important Drinking Holidays.  I had the bright idea to put corned beef and cabbage on our Taco Bar for the day.  Jerry agreed that it was a brilliant idea, and gave me full credit, in case it bombed.  Getting free publicity was not too difficult, since we always made sure to ‘take good care of’ certain writers from up the street.  Low and behold, we saw some nice mentions in the gossip and the What’s Going On In Town sections of the Bee the day before, and our Happy Hour was packed that St. Paddy’s Day.  In fact, two guys drove down from Hangtown at lunch time to try the CB&C Tacos.  I had to plead with the cook to make some for them.  At Happy Hour, the idea was well received, lots of new people came in, and best of all… Mr. Franco even stuck around to help stock the Taco Bar.
So, when I saw the photo prompt for this week’s Haiku… for some reason, I thought of those Corned Beef and Cabbage Tacos, and working at The Town House.
About 4 months later, I left for the Neon Restaurant Lights of Chicago.  I later heard that the Town House had closed and that Franco was the chef at a seafood joint in Cape Cod.  Last time I was in SacTown, it was a gay bar.

Friday Fictioneers #1… SEMI-PRECIOUS GEMEMOIR

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Tuesday February 14, 2012

Valentine’s Day. Watching Bill and Kaci, she resplendent in a red dress, on Q13 Morning News. The usual Roving Reporter reports at florists and candy shops… pretty interesting, seeing the staging for the deliveries of flowers. And then a Doctor of Periodontics warning about catching gum disease from kissing. That was romantic… great, another STD to worry about. Listening now, to some gal blather on about how to celebrate Valentine’s Day. Apparently, she runs a Dating Company called threestepdating.com. In all fairness, she did have a few ‘Fun Ideas For Valentine’s Day’. A lot was just common sense and good manners, but then I guess there is a shortage of that these days. But she did get me reminiscing about some ways I celebrated Valentine’s Day in the past, and the fun we had. I am a romantic when it comes to taking care of ‘my woman’ on Valentine’s Day… just not always in life, hence my current single status… but, that’s how I like it these days, so no Valentine for me this year. But at one time I did plan some pretty spectacular Valentine’s Day Fun.

Maybe the luckiest one was my second wife. At that time, I was running the family jewelry store with my sister, Marja. Paula, a close friend, owned an upscale dress store. Another woman I went to high school with, had opened a lingerie store with her mother. This was before Victoria’s Secret… and she had some sexy things. All three women liked jewelry and we had a nice arrangement worked out… my girlfriend and future wife being the beneficiary. When we were dating, I found her in tears one night. She was in despair… she had not been able to find jeans that fit. We were going to a ‘fancy casual dress’ affair at KVIE 6, and she wanted me to be proud to have her by my side. She was quite petite, but just not shopping in the right store… so I took her to see Paula, who was the same size and had plenty of size 0 jeans. I spent a bunch of money that night, and Paula and I dried those tears. Shortly after that I made my deal with Paula and later with Diane to do a little trading.

My Mom and I always exchanged Valentine cards, but those days are gone now. I still have some of those cards.  Last year, I had a Valentine’s Dinner at Paragary’s Bar and Oven in Sacramento, where I once worked… that was great.

So, this year my Valentines are my daughters and their daughters. I won’t be seeing them today though, the 10 year old is scuba diving in Thailand and the 16 year old is… well 16 years old, and very busy. So, no flowers, candy, and certainly no sexy lingerie… but Thursday I will be going to the Lynnwood Mall, on the mainland, with Ashley and Isabel… so I will be buying some Valentine Soccer Cleats. I don’t know what Ashley will get, but I’m buying myself a Valentine’s gift at the Apple store.

MY VALENTINES…

 

SOMETIMES IT’S THE LITTLE THINGS…

I made some toast today, and immediately thought of my mother, Edna.   I love Orange Marmalade.  I put it in a lot of things, and when I put it on my toast, I use a spreader I got from my mother.  It was a spreader I grew up with.  In fact it is older than I, as  my mom got it from her mother.  When I say I got it from my mother, that’s not exactly true.  My mom died almost two years ago, and anyone that knew her knows she was very well-organized.   (In fact, she would put J. Edgar to shame… there were files on everyone… from me all the way down to Ula)  She had made arrangements to have everything of any value, monetarily or sentimentally parceled out to her family.  My sister Marja helped her organize at the end and I know my mom was very grateful for the help and maybe more importantly the company, as my Father had monopolized everyone’s time and energy, and my Mother got the short end of the stick so to speak.   I will be forever grateful to Marja for that.

So, everything was pretty much decided about ‘what went where’.

As I was helping my sister’s dispose of things… giving things to our Mom’s helpers and friends and us taking some things… “Hey, I need a storage container that size!” (anyone knowing our Mom knows about storage containers!)… I came across this spreader in a drawer with about 5 other spreaders… God forbid we would run out of spreaders.  My Mom had a lot of duplicates… I guess that’s what happens in 90 years of life.  The cabinets were almost sagging off the walls with the weight of all the dish sets.

But, back to the Spreader… This one spreader, was one I used when I was a child and had advanced to making my own toast and sandwiches.   I used it every time I went to Sacramento to visit.  So, I pocketed it that day.   Every time I make toast or a sandwich I think of my Mom.

Tonight, I’m going to The Palace Theater to see The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo… I will think of my Mom, as she loved to go to the movies more than anything else.  I saw more movies with my mother than anyone else in my life.  She would go to see anything with me.  She said she wanted to see ‘Sin City’ (my daughters were aghast when they found out I had taken her to see ‘Sin City’, I said “Hey she really wanted to see it!”) so we went.  But, I was the one who really wanted to see it,  found out later she really didn’t like it and was just looking out for her son (I know that feeling myself), and I loved her for that… she was my Champion in life.

The perfect day for my Mom, was to go to Arden Fair Mall.  Have lunch at the California Pizza Kitchen or the Cheesecake Factory… actually her favorite was to get a Polish Dog in the Food Court… then we would browse Barnes and Nobel looking at books, maybe buying a few… well always buying a few… then on to the show in the Mall or nearby Century 21.  That was our day… and in the old days when she was in good health we would sometimes go to 2 shows.  So I saw a lot of movies with my Mom.

Of the all things of value she wanted me to have, it is the little things that spark memories… those are the most important.  Because it’s the memories that are most valuable in our lives.

I used to hear people say “I miss and think of my mother every day”… I now know what they mean.   Although I may not think of her every day, there are so many little reminders, it’s hard not to.

Photos are great reminders… I have a lot of my Mom… here’s one of my favorites.

                                                       Washington, DC  ~ 1942

NIGHTMARE…

 

I just started reading ‘The Victorian Chaise-Longue’ by Marghanita Laski… it has been a long time coming.

I first encountered this little book, when the title caught my eye, while looking through a Persephone Books catalog about three years ago. I had seen ‘Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day’ at the Palace Theater, which I absolutely loved… such a delightful story and with Frances McDormand and Amy Adams, what’s not to love. I liked it so much, I went back the next night, and while walking to my car, I saw the book in the window of Griffin Bay Books. When I went back to buy the next day, it had been sold… apparently someone else liked the movie as much as I. GBB ordered the book and I was soon enjoying Winifred Watson’s delightful story.

Persephone Books of London, reprints neglected classics by 20th century (mostly women) writers, like Watson’s 1930 story. I ordered their catalog and that’s where I saw ‘The Victorian Chaise-Longue’.  They currently have 95 books listed, and they are beautifully made.  The end papers feature a fabric print from the period the story takes place (‘the shiny cream curtains printed with huge pink roses’ p. 3).  And a bookmark germane to the story (‘berlin-wool cross-stitch embroidery that sprawled in bright gigantic roses over the shabby felt’ p.13).  Book #6 is described as a very scary  story.  It looked interesting.  I tried the library… I tried the Inter-Library-Loan… I tried Amazon.com. Nowhere could I obtain the book. It was not available. So, over the last few years, when I would go to Amazon it would pop up sometimes (but never in stock… oh, there were some used copies somewhere for 35 or 40 bucks), as something I was interested in, you know, those helpful reminders. I get a new Persephone catalog twice a year, and this time I couldn’t take it any more and ordered it… it was only 12 plus 6 shipping, for a total of ₤18... I had no clue what that would be in $, but didn’t care and hit PayPal… it was $27.00.

‘The Victorian Chaise-Longue’, starts in 1953, and is the story of a young woman of means, who is suffering from tuberculosis and confined to bed. She is finally well enough to be allowed to move into the parlor and lay upon a chaise-longue she had purchased in an antique store right before she became stricken. She falls asleep, and when she awakes, she finds herself in a dingy gas-lit room in 1864, on the same chaise-longue… although newer looking… being cared for by a brusque sister she does not know. She thinks herself in a dream and keeps trying to wake up. When she finally realizes she is awake, the terror sets in. I’m now on page 50 of 99… my head is drooping, I’m tired, time for bed.

Now, I’m in a dream. I have never had one like this… not my usual ‘Waiter’s Dream’ where I keep forgetting to wait on my tables, and then can’t find them… or the ‘Actor’s Dream’ where I forget to go onstage. No, this one is too real. It is hard to keep going and I force myself to wake up. I realized, that near the end of the dream I had started to analyze it as if writing a blog. Great, now I’m writing in my sleep… even organizing photos.

This dream starts out as a secret report on an Eastern European war-torn country, there is a triangular flag on the cover, I think red, green and yellow. Soon it shifts to Africa… the unnamed country ends in ‘ia’… and I am thinking Ethiopia. There is a rebel encampment, and in this dream a group of aid workers are lined up before the leaders. I am not there, but looking at this through newspaper or magazine photos. One photo shows them sitting in a row and the next is the same photo, but now they have a dot on their foreheads. They have been shot, and I am wondering if they will fall backward or forwards. What will the next photo be. It was terrifying. I wake up. It was 2:30 a.m., and it took a long time to go back to sleep. As I lay there thinking about this strange dream, I realized it had happened to my family.  My daughter’s  husband’s sister was killed in Somalia, when a bullet struck her as she was riding in a convoy to deliver aid to a remote village. Valerie was a 23-year-old nurse, from Dublin, working for an Irish aid agency called Concern.  A photo of her  laughing, surrounded by Somali women and children hangs in Ashley and Declan’s front room. Her senseless death in 1993 was of major importance to Ireland, with the President attending her funeral. It had put a face to the tragedy  of what was occurring in Somalia.

I always wonder what influences dreams. Sometimes it is obvious. I don’t really have nightmares… more annoyances really, like the waiter’s dream, although those can be a bitch. Did the story taking place on the chaise-longue start this terrifying dream? I don’t know. I had not thought of Valerie in a long time, although I know Declan does. And I’m sure she was terribly missed at the Christmas Table when they were in Dublin this year.

So, I’ll finish the story of the young woman on the Chaise-Longue today, only 49 pages to go and hope I am dream free tonight.

Here is where you can find a wonderful catalog… PERSEPHONE BOOKS

The photographs of Valerie were taken by John Trotter, a writer for the  Sacramento Bee, while on his second trip to Africa in 1992.  They were taken in Mogadishu during the first food distribution.  This was important, because the people were now able to prepare their own food, and not have to rely on feeding centers to cook it for them.  Valerie was in charge of the operation.  There were thousands of people there for food that day.  The photo with the boy, he liked, because her love showed thru her hands, and that had meaning.  The children at the center said those hands came from Ireland to help them, and they loved her and trusted her.   She was killed the following year on the way to help people.

*****************************

Dec. 27, 2013

I always liked this post and thought I would share it with MOONSHINE  at yeah write weekly writing… I wrote this almost two years ago.  Persephone Books now lists 104 titles in their catalog. I finished the story.  It was heart-wrenching, terrifying and very disturbing.  I was not disappointed I had finally read it.

moonshine

My Random Musings

 

 

 

For my friends at AnythingGoes.

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