Monthly Archives: August 2013

Loving the weirdness of Santa Cruz

Seeing Santa Cruz in my returning years brings back a few memories, but also surprises me otherwise. The traffic on the freeways is horrific. And there are many changes in some of the businesses I knew way back then.

Now, however, the Pacific Garden Mall has sprouted new, interesting businesses, many of them in the arts, and two theaters are still there.

The nature of Santa Cruz hasn’t changed, but became more of what it was: aging hippies, homelessness, street musicians and artists of all kinds. There’s a bumper sticker I’ve seen a few times that seems to say what the locals want. It says,:”Keep Santa Cruz Weird.”

But, on top of the so called weirdness, there is a surfing culture here, as well. I’ve seen another bumper sticker that says, “If you are not still surfing then you never did.”

And…transportation of the youth, is done either on bicycles or skateboards. It’s not uncommon to see a surfer carrying his board on his bike, or a skateboarder carrying his board, with his wet suit, half on and half off.

That’s Santa Cruz. I love it!

The Butler and Johnny Ray

I took myself to see the movie, The Butler. The film featured a famous cast. It was interesting to watch their interpretation of the personalities of presidents and leaders during the turbulent  rioting throughout the years that the butler worked inside the White House.

The movie began by showing  the mistreatment of black slaves. It was graphic and sad. I cried. Why do humans mistreat other humans?

I wish the movie had portrayed more of the butler’s  early life to his stint in the White House and his life inside the White House. But perhaps that was to make it easier for me to digest the pain and humiliation that Black folks suffered as slaves, and by the way, still suffer humiliation at times.

Then I came back to the cozy house where Johnny Ray and Tazzie await to be fed. Right now Tazzie tries to sit on my lap while I’m at the computer. She insists her place is right here. I push her off and she comes  back immediately. It’s not fair…she shows me her belly and just invites me to rub it, but then she gets mad when you do and scratches your hand. So Tazzie, you are a spoiled brat, but I like you anyway.

They are cozy little critters and used to being spoiled. The have their own dishes in separate parts of the house. They get fresh water everyday and a brushing. They do get to go outdoors through an opening in the door. I woke up in the middle of the night thinking someone was inside the house.

It was someone, and that someone was Johnny Ray. He jumped on the bed and slept there the rest of the night.





Picking up pennies

I went to a Congregational church today, where the preacher (preachette) told of her house sitter, who opened the door for a second and a skunk got into her house and sprayed on the back of the couch. She had lots of work to do when she got home.

Glad that hasn’t happened to me.

I then went to CVS to purchase some coffee filters. I asked the people and the clerk around me if anyone knew of a non-profit taking in pennies. I had a whole change purse inside my billfold full of pennies and they were making it heavy.

One lady told me to take them to Safeway and put them in a machine, and Safeway would take a percentage. But who cares, I just want to get rid of them.

Then the nice clerk told me to spread them out on her counter, and she counted them and I paid for the $3 purchase.

I still pick up pennies off the street. Don’t you?

Corrected some glitches

Books published by independent publishers or those self-published, have the advantage of being alive, as opposed to books produced by big house publishers; once the words are in print, the book is a permanent document, unchangeable.

With independent publishing, the writing can be changed and improved.

Books written through independent publishers or those self-published are printed on demand when they are ordered through or other like companies.

The last two days, I have re-read my book, “Too Close to the Sun” – a Dutch boy becomes a man during WWII for the first time since it was published last year. I made necessary changes to clarify the narrative and correct some glitches that have been pointed out to me.

It is such a privilege to work with the publisher on this and soon, you’ll be able to purchase the upgraded book through Amazon in a week or so.

Writing the book was a promise to my husband who wanted teenagers to understand what it was like growing up to manhood during a war and facing extreme hunger. When most teenagers are hanging out with friends, playing sports, and in our modern world, perusing technology, Wim and his three teenaged friends were involved in clandestine and dangerous activities to thwart Hitler’s advancement through Europe. They also faced hunger and had to search for food.



Dinner served by a clown

I don’t want to give the name of the restaurant because the worst dinner I’ve ever eaten could have been a fluke. It deserves another try; but not for me.

The last dinner in Willow Glen would be my final treat to myself, so I stepped into a well attended restaurant and peeked at the menu. It was expensive, but one thing I learned from my husband, Will, was that if you pay a lot and the food is good, the price is okay.

Last night I ordered an eggplant dish with noodles and sauce with cheese. I knew it wasn’t going to be good when I only waited about ten minutes at the most when it was presented to me. The eggplant was mushy, sitting on top of some kind of noodles that were about one half inch long and soaked up in a nameless sauce. A layer of cheese sat on top of the whole thing that had obviously had a minute or two in a microwave.

I tried to eat it, but the eggplant tasted like it had been cooked over briskets and smoked. That was the only flavor to detect. The rest was bland.

The chef came out to the people in the restaurant, it seems to get his congratulations. He was wearing pajama bottoms and a t-shirt and looked like a clown. He came to me and asked, “And, how was your eggplant, my lady?”

“Not so good.”

“Oh, really? What was wrong?”

“It didn’t have any taste.”

“Did you tell your waiter? She could have gotten you something else.”

“No, that’s okay, I’m ready to leave.”

“Ok, well come back again. Have a good evening.”

I don’t think he cared.

…and now I have a stomach ache.

Leaving Casey tomorrow

Casey, the sweet lady dog and I will part tomorrow. Kelly is coming back from Japan and Casey will be a happy little girl.

I’m anxious to hear all about Kelly’s time in Japan. She’ll have lots of stories, I’m sure.

Where am I going?  Well, I’m going to stay in a motel in Hollister tomorrow night and then the next day, I’ll be checking out two living situations. One on the CSUMB campus and one near the beach in Monterey. I ‘m supposed to be getting some help from the campus housing, but they are dragging their heels. So I may just opt for one of the two I see on Friday.

Then, I’ll go back for the night in Hollister, and then to Santa Cruz where I’ll house/cat/garden sit, and then that will overlap with the job by about one week. So I’ll commute for a week; not a big deal, it’s only one hour to Carmel, that is if the traffic isn’t too bad.

My job officially starts on Sept. 7th, but I’ll sign all the government red tape on the 4th. Then, I’m beginning to see that I’ll be winging it for the next ten months, as I work hard at getting volunteers and pro-bono officials involved. I think I’ll be pretty much on my own, which, to me, is the best way for me to work.

While I’m settling in to a new job, a new living situation, a new age, I’ll be working on the new book about my yearlong journey.

Dragging myself around

It’s hot here, and heat doesn’t like me. The early morning hours are good, then the heat creeps in. This is why I don’t live in San Jose. When you’re cold you can add clothing, but when you get too warm, you can only take off so much.

I’ve been busy, however, with my book, “Too Close to the Sun”, a Dutch boy becomes a man during WWII.

A few readers told me about some glitches in the book and I’ve made myself pretty disappointed and sick about it. So I decided instead of feeling bad, I’d do something about it.

When I told the publisher, her comment was that she was astounded I’d think anything about it. But I told her I wanted to make the corrections, little as they are, and get it re-submitted. She agreed. So I went about reading the book today, and darn if I couldn’t find any outrageous mistakes. I saw one I must change and a few tiny, little picky items, but will correct them as well. I’m sure there would be more, because that’s the way it goes. You’re never through!

I did read it today but didn’t find much. But what I did find, I’ll make corrections and, since the book is ‘on demand’, which means when you order a book, they print it right then and there, so the corrections will be immediate.

If you have already purchased the book, just keep it as a collectors item. The story is the same, but there may be a comma  , here or there  , not where it should be. But that won’t keep you from hearing the words of Wim, his two best friends and his family during the awful time of WWII in Holland.

It was a labor of love!!!

Saying goodbye

Last night I drove for one and one half hours from San Jose to Monterey, to say goodbye to my friend, Susan Horcajo. She gave a little going away party at the Crown and Anchor restaurant/bar and several of my writer friends were there, as well.

It was a crowded, noisy place where you couldn’t hear each other speak, but most of us know each other well enough to be happy just to be together.

I met Susan during one of our ‘critique club’ meetings at Juice and Java in Pacific Grove, where each writer shares his/her writing and then it gets critiqued. Susan is an expert in bilingual education, with strong opinions, is brilliant and an amazing self-motivated power pusher.

She is going back to Zimbabwe in Southern Africa where she did her desertation research on bilingual education and also where she left behind a library for the citizens’ children. For the past year, she has been buying books, receiving gifts of books, packing them up and shipping them to where she lived back ten years ago. And that is where she’s headed again.

“Do you think the books will still be there after all these years?” I asked.

“They better be,” she laughed, but meant it.

She doesn’t know how long she will stay there, but it sounds like a permanent place for the rest of her life. However, she does have items that will continue to be stored away in the Bay Area. So, that may motivate her to come back to the U.S. Who knows?

Susan knows, however, when my ten months will be over with Americorps and, when that happens, she has invited me to stay with her for awhile in Zimbabwe. That sounds like fun, but??? Hmmm, I leave that in the back burner of my brain.

What is amazing about Susan is that she quit high school but was self-motivated enough  later, to earn a high school diploma and then a master’s degree and then a doctorate of education. She has taught in every realm of education, almost that there is including college level courses. And she helped me through my book, Too Close to the Sun, by asking me questions and helping me clear up my conflicted thoughts.

I’m certain Susan will be greeted with enthusiasm where she’s headed and many of the youngsters back then are now adults: those who have been influenced by her strong leadership.



I may have a roommate

When I put out to the social media and to my friends that I need a place to rent, and perhaps a roommate, I received a note from a friend about someone who works for her in the small business administration.

So I called Chuck who has an apartment at the CSUMB faculty housing area and would like one roommate. It’s a three bedroom apartment, so I’m not sure of the cost, but I have an appointment with him next week.  He sounds like a nice person and comes with a recommendation from someone I trust.

This  may be the right place, but I’m still looking until the perfect place comes around.

I also had a call from a young college man who seems eager to find something and  right away wanted to sign up with me. My hesitation with that offer, is why would a young college boy want to room with a senior citizen who would probably bore him to death? I think of my grandsons rooming with an older person and I just don’t think they would like it.  I have a feeling because of my age, a younger person may be thinking of a grandma who makes cookies and cleans up after them.

I hardly ever make cookies, and it’s all I can do to straighten up after myself.

Speaking of straightening up after ones self. When I read Madeline Albright’s book about WWII and the families who were put into camps, it made me want to stop complaining about the routine of taking care of my personal environment. Everyday, even though the families slept in tiny quarters surrounded by other families, one mother insisted each family member ‘tidy up their beds’ when they wake up. That is what reminds me, that if it were important to keep a some-what normal life in dire circumstances, I could at least do that, and much more.

The benefits of thinking positively

Well here I am looking for a place to nest for ten months beginning in September.

I’m seeing it as just another opportunity I have to use my positive energy. I haven’t always had that in my life.

But just a few short years ago, I decided that when you have a positive approach to challenges, everything gets solved, sometimes differently than what you first imagined it to be, and sometimes better than you could imagine.

So I’m putting this out to many avenues and it will be fun to see how it ends up.

I need a place to roost from Sept. for ten months when my job with the Monterey Arts Commission ends. The job is being financially supported by Americorps, so it isn’t a huge amount of income.But  I can tell you this: it is enough!!!

I can pay up to $650 a month either for a room, a cabin or a studio. Of course, it would be best for it to be in Carmel, because my office is in the Sunset Center.

However, anyplace close enough to commute would be good, as well. That is in Monterey, Pacific Grove, or ????

So if anyone has some ideas let me know.

Meanwhile, if you’re reading this and you’re in another country, stay tuned for once I get settled, I’ll be writing about the job. So don’t give up reading yet!!!