Simple Dreams

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I have been a Linda Ronstadt fan since her Stone Poneys days; knowing that she was also Tucson-born and her family had known my family in earlier generations made her even more special to me. And as much as I love “Blue Bayou”, it pales before the gorgeousness of the three albums of standards she did with Nelson Riddle.

This week I have been enchanted by the story of how this Tucson girl made it to the Los Angeles rock and roll scene, through the crazy 70’s, and on to singing such exquisite songs as “My Funny Valentine” and “I Guess I’ll Hang My Tears Out to Dry”. Simple Dreams: A Musical Memoir (Simon & Schuster, 2013) is a glorious read, filled with sweet and poignant stories of musicians we have known and loved over the years. I’ll be finishing it before I fall asleep tonight, so look for it at the Visalia branch of the Tulare County Library, or wherever wonderfully engrossing books are found!

Rain and a picnic

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The strange sound I heard early this morning…that quiet hissing and gurgling…was (imagine drum roll, please) RAIN! Beautiful, nourishing rain! And to show God truly has a sense of humor, that rain came down on the morning of the church picnic! (Ironically, my daughter, who uses a rain machine to help her sleep, was awakened by the sounds of “the real thing”!)

Our stalwart group decided that a little rain was not going to deter us from our picnic, and we gathered at Blain Park at noon, as planned. The weather was an absolutely perfect seventy-five degrees, the food was delicious, and the conversation even better!

Lily has never met a stranger, and quickly joined forces with a girl her age who was visiting the park with her grandfather. She and Olivia had a great time playing with their new-found friends, while I supervised with one eye while getting in some high-quality visiting time with old and new members of our congregation.

A bounce-house confab with a new friend

A bounce-house confab with a new friend

Walt, our trusty barbecue chef, brought his tools and grilled up tasty hamburgers and hot dogs. As well as cooking for the multitudes, he also gathered in a few strangers who had children playing with ours. A bounce house and a barbecue are amazing ice-breakers!

The Pro from Dover with his engraved case full of barbecue tools!

The Pro from Dover with his engraved case full of barbecue tools!

At the end of the day, our picnic in the park had fed our tummies and our souls. I’m ready to do it again!

This new season

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I know I’ve said it before, but it bears repeating. I LOVE FALL! (Yes, I’m shouting.) After a very hot and dry summer, we had a delightful high temperature of 75 degrees today. It was a pleasure to be outside and the air conditioner at home never clicked on.

As I was heading home from work this afternoon, I was struck by the beauty of the thunderheads piled up against the mountains in the East. And no, I didn’t take this picture while driving. I was sitting at a very lengthy stop light, and snapped it just before the white truck crossed my path.

Thunderheads in the East, Visalia, California

Thunderheads in the East, Visalia, California

Tomorrow is our annual St. Paul’s Episcopal Church picnic (complete with bounce house this year), and we are expecting a perfect 81 degree afternoon, filled with laughter, games, and delicious food. In fact, it is time for me to go bake brownies.

New experiences

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I’m discovering two big differences between this new job at Olive Garden and any other I have held through the years. The first is the sheer number of players to meet, become acquainted with, and collaborate with. Not only the other hosts, but the servers, the bussers, the kitchen crew, and the managers. Many different personalities, work styles and ethics, and areas of expertise. And because of flexible shifts, I am meeting different ones each day.

Some are quite serious, others laid back, a few push the envelope right to the edge. All have been patient and understanding with “the new kid” who is actually an old broad. Tonight I had the pleasure of working with my best friend’s younger daughter, a very competent, hard-working young woman. Tomorrow I get to share shifts with my own daughter. I love seeing her in action!

I am official now!

I am official now!

The other big difference between this and my other jobs — the one that I think will be hardest to adjust to — is the flexible scheduling. My last job with variable hours was back in college (the first time around) in 1971! I am very accustomed to knowing my schedule months in advance and planning accordingly. Finding out the following week’s schedule on the previous Friday takes some maneuvering…and lots of flexibility.

Each day has gotten a little bit easier, though, and soon I hope to be doing at least parts of the routine on automatic pilot. It just takes patience and practice.

Happy birthday, Mom

Digging through things today I found another of Mom’s journals, and since she wrote this entry on her birthday (her 72nd back in 2001), I’m sharing it here.

“September 25, ’01, 11:55 PM
After deciding to start a journal, some thought has gone into deciding just what kind it would be.

Basically — good thoughts, enjoyable experiences and other pleasant observations.

This journal was a gift from Betty some time ago and chosen from a number from her, as well as several others for its overall loveliness in the hope it will encourage me to pick it up often and use it — my gift to myself on my 72nd Birthday.

I shall not be overly concerned about my penmanship or spelling since it is for my own pleasure and after all these years I’m used to both these being less than perfect, to say the least.”

The journal in question is a beautiful spiral bound one from Victorian Papers, lavished with roses and bits of Victorian scrap. Very inviting!

To go with it, here are a couple of photos I have not shared before.

Mom and her train.  She always wanted one, but as she was growing up "trains were for boys", so she didn't have one of her own.

Mom and her train. She always wanted one, but as she was growing up “trains were for boys”, so she didn’t have one of her own.

This one is from my wedding day, June 13, 1981.

This one is from my wedding day, June 13, 1981.

Mom, we are missing you down here on your 85th birthday, but know you must be having quite a party up in Heaven, especially now that Aunt Barbara has joined you, too. Happy Birthday!

The Wedding

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Over the past several weeks I have been reading back and forth between Missional: Joining God in the Neighborhood, by Alan J. Roxburgh, Holy Currencies: 6 Blessings for Sustainable Missional Ministries, by Eric Law, and Jesus Feminist: An Invitation to Revisit the Bible’s View of Women, by Sarah Bessey. Each of them is intriguing reading in itself, and in combination they have an interesting synergy.

But yesterday all this “serious” reading took a back seat as I discovered the latest paperback title from Danielle Steel: The Wedding. I happily read half-way through the night, and as soon as I got home from work (and took a little nap) I was back at it again. I love Danielle Steel and have been reading her novels since the 1970s. I especially enjoy having one with me when I am flying somewhere. And this one did not disappoint. As usual, she wove a complex cast of characters into a charming story that developed easily, with an ending that made sense and pleased me.

I cannot even fathom the vastness of “over 600 million copies of her novels sold!” as is trumpeted on the back cover of the book. All I know is that when I find one of her novels that I haven’t already read, I clear the decks and read (including staying up reading all night, more than once).

If you like Danielle Steel, you will enjoy The Wedding. If you haven’t tried her yet, now is the time. Enjoy!

The man and the train

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We had a scary thing almost happen today, and I don’t think I handled it very well.

Olivia and I had gone to the library after preschool and as we were leaving we heard a not-to-distant train whistle. That whistle meant the San Joaquin Railway train was close by, and would soon be coming down the tracks right through the middle of town (and across the street from the library). I really wanted Olivia to get to watch the train go by so close, so we sat down on a bench in the shade to wait. Another young family sat on the next bench over.

Soon the train pulled into view, blowing its horn as if to say, “Make way, make way!” As it came closer, the horn continued sounding intermittently. Olivia, of course, was watching intently, but with both ears covered because of the noise. Soon the train was passing in front of us, but it the horn was blaring continually and the engineer was slowing it to a stop. As we watched, the engineer opened a hatch on the front of the engine and came three-fourths of the way out. To our dismay we realized that the engineer was yelling at a man who was nearly on the tracks!

With one more blast of his horn the engineer took off again heading west, and Olivia and I walked towards the car. As we reached the car, a rather agitated man walked up and said, “I was almost hit by that train!” I told him I knew that, as we had been watching, and I was glad he wasn’t hit.

“Oh, no!” he said, “I wanted to be hit!” I was instantly outraged that someone would even consider killing himself in front of my precious four-year old granddaughter. As tears filled his eyes he said, “I have no family. I am nobody. What good am I? Why should I live?” I assured him he was not a nobody in God’s eyes, but he wasn’t buying it. (Meanwhile Olivia was strapping herself into her car seat and watching intently.) I asked if he had gone to his church for help, and he said he hadn’t. I urged him to go to the nearest church (too rattled to even think of the Rescue Mission) and then took Olivia home.

As I drove away I realized how inadequate my response had been, mostly out of concern for Olivia. The thought of her possibly innocently watching the train go by as he purposefully stepped in front of it was so frightening. I prayed that God would put someone more eloquent and useful in his path, someone who could focus on his needs and give him better help.

And I prayed my thanks that the engineer saw him and was able to stop the train.

Schedule changes

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Ours was a stay-at-home mom from before I was born (Ma Bell didn’t allow pregnant telephone operators to continue working…I guess the callers might “hear” her pregnancy over the phone) in an era when that was the norm. She was always available to help with Blue Birds and Camp Fire Girls, go to PTA meetings, and work on school carnivals. (One banner year she created and painted all the signs for the Orchard Avenue School Carnival by herself, but that is a story in itself.) She cherished her time at home and the creative freedom it allowed.

Because she was not the breadwinner (Daddy made the money, Mom made it stretch), she often bartered her services with the local antique dealers, repairing and redesigning jewelry in exchange for dolls or other antiques she wanted. Some of my fondest memories are of her, sitting cross-legged on her freshly made bed surrounded by her tools and current projects. These days often became visits from “that woman” who made creative chaos throughout our home.

Long after I had moved away from home, Mom began an adventure with a shared space in an antique shop, a co-op of sorts. In exchange for putting merchandise in the shop for sale she needed to work one Thursday morning each month. It seemed to me to be an ideal situation. At the end of the first month I received a phone call from Mom. When I asked how things were going, she wailed, “Knowing I have to go to work the third Thursday of the month is ruining my whole month!” I tried not to laugh — really I did — but couldn’t help it. At that time I had a full-time job outside the home, was running an after-hours typing service (pre-computers), raising my daughter, we had a kenpo karate school at home, and I was involved with several organizations and church. So the idea of one half-day monthly throwing off her schedule just cracked me up! (And I’m afraid I wasn’t very sympathetic.)

But I’m beginning to understand where she was coming from. It has been two full years since I retired from my teaching job, and although I have been quite busy between two doll clubs, church, and activities with my granddaughters, my schedule has been my own to manipulate as I wished. That is no longer the case.

In the past three weeks since I began my part-time job, I have found myself answering many questions with, “I’m not sure — I’ll have to see whether I’m scheduled to work,” or “I don’t know…I won’t have my work schedule until the week before [whatever event I've been invited to attend]” I’m not complaining; I think I will like my job when I’m a bit more sure of myself, and I will certainly like the budgetary wiggle room it will provide. It is just such a change to my reality. One of the keys to successfully juggling a very busy schedule has been knowing said schedule well in advance. No longer will I be locking events into place two and three months out (unless they are BIG DEAL DAYS). I will know my work schedule the Friday before the week beginning on Monday, and will adjust accordingly.

I’m sorry I laughed at you, Mom. I’m beginning to understand how you felt.

Sentimental you

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Schoolday Memories of Lois Bobo, Class of 8-A, 1932-33

Schoolday Memories of Lois Bobo, Class of 8-A, 1932-33


I was reading through my mother-in-law’s autograph album from 1933-34, and discovered these gems:

Alpena Pass, Ark., March 5, 1933
Dear Lois,
When you get old and cannot see
Put on your specks and think of me.
Your brother,
Troy Bobo

[This one is my favorite.]
Dearest Pal,
When you get old and ugly, as people sometimes do,
Remember that you’ve got a friend
That’s old and ugly, too.
Yours forever,
FPS

August 8, 1934
Concord [Arkansas]
Dear Lois,
True friends are like diamonds, precious but rare.
False friends are like autumn leaves, found everywhere.
A True Friend,
Amelia Belle Whitaker

[And then the one from the boy who eventually married her]
11-3-33
Dearest Loise,
Roses are red,
Violets are blue
Sugar is sweet
And so are you.
Cloise

My Favorites

My Favorites

Training

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In the midst of my host training last night I realized that I had done nothing about a blog post for the day. I clocked out at 11:58 p.m., which meant that it was nearly 12:30 by the time that I found my way back home. The good news was that I had made it through my training shift without either tripping someone or tripping OVER someone else. Tomorrow morning we will be taking our menu tests, as well as anything our trainer requires of us.

I will never take a host or server for granted again.

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