Thursday, June 28

Whipping It Up

Jerry and I left the main group of guys visiting the beach north of San Simeon so we could try out his new bull whip. The dirt road ended at the top of a hill where the manzanita had been thinned to make a 30' circle --- plenty of room to swing his arm over his head and try to snap that long leather snake. His shirtless form revealed his compulsive need to feel like the man he wasn't --- a slender 19 year old playing Zorro for a crowd of one.

Sorry, but I wasn't into the manly thing of going shirtless, but the challenge of making that whip break the sound barrier couldn't be resisted. Around and around, counter-clockwise, 4, then 5 times before reversing the direction and hearing the tip whistle past my ear as it shot in front me, ready to snap as I pulled back as hard as I could at the end of its travel. Wow! What a kick!

All of these 40 year-old memories came back while I was at a Root Cause Analysis Meeting today at work. Our boss said she had bought a bull whip some time ago to use as a decoration. The jokes started flowing, but we were quickly back at the business of business. Funny how our memories are sparked.

I think about Jerry once in awhile, and wonder if he's still hiding that little scared kid inside.

Saturday, June 23

Calling 911

Today's excitement started in the bank parking lot when my little, poor excuse for a car (the Tracer) began sounding like an old washing machine on steroids. The AAA tow truck driver was a really nice guy, told me what to look for when I got it home (loose lifters, improperly seated plugs). Okay, that didn't work. Must be the timing belt or a second flywheel has gone out or ? I don't really care at this point since this Ford lemon has cost me much more than your average bear repair. So it will sit.

While changing the truck oil (going to have to start using it again), that familiar whiff of grass fire smoke wafted by, so I went around to the back yard and looked over the fence. Sure enough, another conflagration to deal with across the tracks. I went in and called 911 so the firemen could go across the street and check on this one. The station is literally across the road from where this was. A few minutes later, the sirens wailed and small truck scooted down the tracks while a few men tried to douse it with the little hose.

The big truck had to go way around the neighborhood to get into the backyard of this place where the fire had started. I think it was at our friend's house. They're on vacation. The blaze stayed at the fence line, so I don't believe there was much property damage, thankfully.

This is one part of our tax bill I don't complain about --- fire protection.

Friday, June 22

Ping, Pong, Pung

It can't be much fun being bounced back and forth, week by week between Mom's and Dad's. Maybe it's a little bit better than rarely seeing your dad (or mom), which is what we went through as kids. We relished those short visits for the feeling of 'belonging,' learning more and more about this man we called Daddy and his little world, and never doubting his love at the time.

Every kid's experience is different when a family is split. Most of them would probably say, "If only my parents were still together and really loved each other --- what a perfect world it would be." But life isn't perfect as most of us realize sooner than later. May God have mercy on these little ones!

Sunday, June 17

One For the Blogs

This Father's Day was spiced up during Sunday School class when Barb starting to feel a lot of pain in her left arm and nausea. A quick trip home and then to the hospital for tests made for some good memories.

1. All tests were negative and a diagnosis of peripheral neuropathy, which is an enigmatic, we-don't-really-know-what-causes-it-for-sure condition.

2. We got to meet nurse Monica, daughter-in-law to a friend of ours. She was so sweet and took great care of Barb.

3. Liz came by with a huge bottle of Anacin for me since I was getting a headache. We went to the cafeteria and chatted awhile about her fiance, Ryan. Turns out he's in a genius category according to his family. But very, very quiet.

4. I got to watch about 8 local firemen figure out how to extricate a woman who was stuck in one of the elevators. Took about an hour for this drama to end. Talked to Bryan (fire chief and friend) afterwards. He said they get these calls frequently in old AND new buildings, including where Liz works at the old courthouse.

Oh, I also got to take a morning walk just after sunrise and got this shot of a flowering mimosa. Yes, this was a day to remember, even if I didn't get that big Father's Day dinner and had a hospital hotdog instead!

Thursday, June 14

Northern Pintail Waves Goodbye

Change happens everyday, but some don't cope well with it. Barring increased population growth, many niche-bound birds will soon join the history book parade of extinct species. Pushing our way into flyways and habitats displaces some of our feathered friends proportionally, unless these bird populations are able to adapt to the change. Even meadowlarks are feeling the pinch.

Driving home from Paso in 1970, Buena Vista Drive was lined with barley and alfalfa fields, sheep and dairy cows. Barbed wire fences sported an array of birds. My favorite was the meadowlark. Loud enough to hear when you drove by, its cheerful call reminded me of our connection to these fields and the frontier/agricultural way of life. Change wasn't so drastic then, and meadowlark populations weren't dwindling as they are now. It seems we have to drive farther and farther from home to hear one these days. And it's a rare, nostalgic treat when we do.

So enjoy God's wonderful creation right now, wherever you are.

Monday, June 11

Air Power

Our Saturday visit to the Capital Airshow in Sacramento rewarded us with major sunburns, dehydration, 90,000 other fans and a look at the latest military air power. Thanks to relatives in high places, we were given (thank you, Kristine) VIP passes in the Air Force Thunderbird canopied seating area.

Wandering through the vintage single-seaters and spy planes, this show had it all --- except for the vintage bombers, unfortunately. There were about 10 different performances, including one for the kids by Otto, the helicopter. Pretty cute. Aerobatics was the main course for most.

No one was disappointed with the F-22's amazing power and maneuverabilty and the Thunderbird's precision and skill. Even the huge Globemaster C-17 demanded respect as it was able to take off in a little of a 1/4 mile.

You can see my 150+ photos here: Capital Airshow

Sunday, June 3

To Sell or Not to Sell

Hardly a 'block' buster sale. Only advertised on and people only came in the morning, so we shut it down after lunch. Only posting two signs didn't help, either, but yours truly wasn't excited about it in the first place and the other main players didn't push to advertise or even 'ask' about it. Conclusion: Assumptions can be the kiss of death to any project. Communication is key. Leave no stone unturned.

The plus side: We had a great time talking to neighbors and Angel started learning how to ride her bike without the training wheels (all caught on video). We profited $26 and spent $9.50 on the ice-cream man and $43 on dinner downtown. The remaining items will be picked up Wednesday by a charity - all $465 worth!

So the next time you want to bargain for a garage sale item, remember all the trouble the folks went to, paying for advertising, getting up early, marking prices, moving everything out of the garage, giving up their WHOLE day usually.

A small tip sounds good now, doesn't it? We're such cheapskates!