Monthly Archives: May 2014

Thanksgiving dinner in May

IMG_1049The AmeriCorps group I belong to met at our leaders home in Carmel Valley mountains. Her secluded house was found after traveling over three bridges and the a turn and five more bridges to her home.

She cooked a turkey with all the trimmings.

And just for fun we were all awarded certificates for our work and mine is seen here.

I think it’s funny with an edge of some truthfulness.

“Gonna take a sentimental journey.”

My son, Larry and his wife, Sue drove to Colorado Springs to watch Sue’s nephew graduate from the Air Force Academy.

Larry sent me a message with a life-time moment: at the very moment the cadets threw their caps up in the air, the blue angels flew over. What a memory that will be! Sue left by air to be back at work.

Larry is making more memories and looking back at memories, as well.  He’s taking a look at his  early childhood in Denver.

He sent me two photos of the one house where I was raised in the Barnum neighborhood of Denver, and the house next door, that my dad built, and where I lived for about two years.  Larry had been in both of those homes when he was a tyke.

The houses were remodeled quite a bit. I’m amazed at what Larry remembers. His memory is spot on.

He then went on to East Denver where his dad was raised and the house where he and his family lived. It was in a park and where his mother took care of the city recreation-owned house. She booked clubs and classes there. I didn’t remember the name of the park or the street, but he went to the library and looked it up.

It didn’t take long until he sent the photo to me.

He is going to visit his cousin close to Boulder and his aunt in Montrose on the Western Slope.

He is taking a sentimental journey, just like the words in the old song. I’m excited to hear all about it.

It won’t be too long now that I’ll be there taking the same journey.

P.S The only thing they missed back here was Bobby hitting two home runs!

Four more weeks

Just a few days over four more weeks, and the ten months of serving America is over.

There are still more events coming up and I’m still recruiting folks to volunteer. One of those is an organization that the Arts Council partners with. It is an agency that helps artists promote their art. I’m anxious to hear about one part of it. That is the writer’s residency. It looks intriguing.

This event is held on two days; one in the Arts Council gallery and one at Steinbeck Center.

Then the Artichoke festival is next; it is being held at the Monterey Fair Grounds for the first time ever. We’ll have several folks working at this festival.

Then  the photographer who is one of the Art Council’s calendar artists will be honored in a gallery show.

The next day after that, is the volunteer party.

So happy to be spending the last of my time in AmeriCorps serving only at the Arts Council of Monterey County.

Meanwhile, the old paper work continues, AmeriCorps meetings complicated by my moving out of this apartment.


What has changed since her birth?

At the Monterey Post Office this morning, the postman was most agreeable and had a great smile on his face.

Then he turned and saw a women he knew, “hello sweetheart,” he said to a lovely, tall woman, dressed elegantly standing in line.

“Come on over here and wait.” He motioned her to stand next to me.

“How are you honey?”

“I’m feeling just fine.”

“I haven’t seen you for awhile.”

“I know, I haven’t needed to come here for a few months. But here I am now, almost 100 years old.”

“Really ?”

Then I couldn’t stand it, I had to get into the action.

“Wow, She looks great.”

“Yes, and she’s a sweetheart.”

“Well thank you. When my birthday comes, I’m going to celebrate it with fireworks and lots of hootin’ and hollering’.

I got my work at the post office finished, and with a smile on my face, I went next door to the French bakery and noticed a Dutch sign on the wall, even though I know it’s a French bakery.

I saw some tiny jars of raspberry jam and I purchased three of them to take to Cambodia with me. I’m not certain, but I think my host family will enjoy those. And they’re small enough to carry around in my suitcase.

I have been buying odds and ends of items to give away, and trying real hard to make certain they are made in the U.S. I have had my eyes opened at how many American goods are made in China. Remembering last fall that my AmeriCorps pin was made in China, as well. That’s just wrong.

Then I started to wonder what it was like in the U.S. one hundred years ago, when the sweetheart was born. How much did we depend on China then?


Rowdy writers

A room full of writer’s makes for a lively discussion. Today it was a party to welcome back one of our clubs’ writers and for a general get together.

Dr. Susan Horcaja  lives in Zimbabwe, Africa and teaches in a university there. She got her doctorate in Africa in the 90s and was eager to return back and resume her interest in African education systems.

Susan did some consulting work on my book, Too Close to the Sun, by helping me think through the project. She has many skills and a big one is focusing on something until it makes sense. She’s also a good writer herself.

Before she left for Africa in the fall, she collected 75 boxes of books and had them shipped to Zimbabwe. It appears the Africans are thrilled with having so many books.

During the lunch, we took turns reading something each of us had written. I didn’t have much time to find anything, so I quickly went through my blog and picked a story out real fast, had it printed and that is what I read.

It was just one story out of the 375 stories there are relating to the yearlong journey.

It’s always fun and, yes, a bit rowdy with this bunch, but it made for a fun weekend.


Arts and science comes together

My friend Kira Corser, an artist, teacher, painter, speaker and lover of the ocean, planned an event today at the museum near the Monterey Wharf.

It was all about her passion: saving the oceans by way of using the arts.

My super supervisor, Paulette Lynch, articulated how the  Arts Council for Monterey County uses Arts as the answer to societies problems: all of them. She brought home the fact that saving the oceans and other societal woes are now our children’s problems and the Arts Council holds art classes in various parts of the Monterey County, to answer some of those issues. What the children learn, is taken home to educate parents and younger siblings. There are classes in drama, dance, music  and writing,  that engages children from improvised neighborhoods and affluent ones, as well.

And Ellen Martin, the executive director of First Night spoke passionately about how the organization First Night involves children in arts that teach the importance of  saving the ocean. Her many projects uses plastic bottles and plastic bags and tops of bottles and lots of other trash items to create beautiful objects that reflect marine life. Children learn about saving the oceans as they construct the objects, she said.

There were two other speakers, who were on the side of science and they expressed their agreement that arts and science needs to support one another, and there are many ways that is accomplished.

One example one scientist used was to use humor to teach folks how not to get close to marine animals.  Instead of the usual legal and unfriendly signage that is more often used to keep people away from marine life, the picture was an artistic showing of a mans legs coming out from under a marine animal with the sign: don’t let this happen to you. It teaches the danger in a humorous way, and encourages folks to respect animal life. The real lesson here, however, was to demonstrate how artists and scientists work together for a common goal.




Gifts for Cambodian students

I’m gathering gifts for my students in Cambodia.

I need pens with logos and just about anything packable that has a logo or anything about America (no guns/no violence).

Photos of the U.S. is nice, as well.

If anyone has anything you think would work, let me know and I’ll send you my address.

Gifts for volunteers

I just got a price for the printing of bookmarks for volunteers. Children’s art is on one side and a quote from Ghandi on the other side. It’s an inexpensive gift, but well meaning.

We’ll have a party on the 21st of June to celebrate their commitment to the Arts Council.

Now I need to find a source for small tassels.



Card caring alcohol server

Yesterday, I took a break and had an expensive lunch in Carmel. I don’t usually go out to restaurants there, and when I do, I get side orders. But I felt a need to pamper myself, and when I did, I found some friends from Soledad doing the same thing.

I sat inside with a good view of the outdoor patio. Friends sat down with my perfect view of four of them. It turns out they were visiting a cousin of one of them, who owns a wine tasting room. He closed up shop to sit with his cousin and friends for lunch.

We greeted each other and I went back to the Sunset Center where I work.

Later in the afternoon, I drove to Salinas to take a three hour class in serving alcohol. What’s this about, you ask? Well, according to the board of alcohol and what else, anyone who is serving alcohol at a fund raising event, must have a license.

I volunteered to work for a wine tasting event to raise funds for Dorothy’s Place.

For those of you who do not know about Dorothy’s Place, there is a great website where all the information is available. It shelters some  and feeds hundreds of homeless population. Much good comes from this place.

A few months back I volunteered at the kitchen, to prepare food for lunch. My job was to cut up onions. A mother, father and two children worked side-by-side with me. The parents were teaching their children how to give unto others.

Tonight is the wine tasting fund raiser, and I have my official alcohol service card, with the privilege of serving wine to folks who care about the homeless.


Moving on

Today in our weekly AmeriCorps meeting, where all the participants are the age of, not my kids, but my grandkids, a PeaceCorps recruiter spoke to us.

He talked about how great it is, and how easy it is to apply, although there’s a lot to it, and then all about his position in the back country of Panama.

It all sounded so glorious, but I had to burst his bubble. I told him that I applied for the PeaceCorps, and was told my position would be in the Philippines, and even the area I would serve.

So, I told him that when I got finished with all the paperwork and the letters of recommendation – for me, which included a congressman – I underwent the medical part of the application. This would be the final part and then I would leave for the post.

I was denied due to some issues with my heart, that medicine takes care of. I was disappointed beyond belief. My doctors sent letters of support, but to no avail.

After this, I have traveled to Panama twice, France, Germany, Iceland and the Faroe Islands.

Then, just two years ago I traveled the world…alone. And, I told the recruiter that I was denied the PeaceCorps five years ago and look…I’m still alive.

I asked him why the health process wasn’t done earlier so I wouldn’t have needed to continue on with the mountain of paper-work requirements?

I also asked him why couldn’t they have sent me somewhere else, like a big city where medicine would be available? By the way, everywhere I have been in the world, medicine has been available.

Well, he didn’t have answers that satisfied me, and I’ll never be satisfied with the end result.

However, I have other dreams that have far surpassed that one, and I have given up being disappointed and have moved on. Moving on seems to be a theme of my life.