Saturday, April 3, 2010

Happy Easter

Happy Easter to all! This photo is of me and my sister Terri 60 years ago (tomorrow). We were at St. Michael's Church in San Francisco, and the priest behind is Father Sullivan.

Please take note of the wonderful bonnets and hoop skirts. Damn! I was even hot then!

Friday, April 2, 2010

The Blond, The Shorts, And The Huaraches

I remember my first trip to Mexico.

That summer, dad and mom and my two sisters and I drove from San Francisco to Baha to visit my dad's aunt Anna. I was about 6, Terri, was about 4, and Lisa was about a year old. This was about 6 years before my youngest sister Vicki was born.

Mom wanted to stop on the way, because it was summertime and hot in the car, plus, long drives were a challenge with 3 small kids all having various degrees of carsickness. Dad was just in a hurry to get there.

It was probably hard because although we didn't pull over for sightseeing, we did stop at almost every service station between San Francisco and Baha because somebody always had to go to the bathroom.

If memory serves, we left in the middle of the night for some reason, probably in hopes that the kids would sleep at least for part of the trip. I'm not sure anyone but the baby, Lisa, (held in Mom's arms the whole trip as used to be the norm) actually slept.

After an exhausting long drive, we finally arrived at Tia Anna's. My dad's aunt lived on the outskirts of a small town, but I have no idea where it was exactly. It was more of a compound than just a house. There were marble floors throughout, and it was amazingly cool inside. The house had a main building and quite a few other smaller buildings all around a large shady courtyard full of blooming flowers.

Tia Anna had 6 children, and there were servants everywhere. There were drivers, there were maids, there were cooks, there were nannies for the small children as well. Anna's eldest child, Becky, was 14 and had just graduated from high school. Mom was amazed that at 14, Becky was going to college in the Fall.

Nobody spoke English, but they were all very friendly, welcoming, and nice. Not long after we had arrived, the table in the courtyard was set and platters of steaming food were brought out and laid on the enormous table for us.

I later learned that Anna was the mistress of a very wealthy man. He had 3 or 4 women and families in the area. Don Miguel supported them all in style I gather. This man did make an appearance while we were visiting and he and dad spent many hours rattling off in Spanish, drinking beer, and smoking cigarettes! Miguel was an old fat guy. My dad's aunt was young and beautiful and I really thought this was somewhat peculiar. I mean, here Anna was so pretty and young! Why on earth would she have this fat old man as her "husband"? (Years later, I guess I figured that part out too!)

There was a marble statue in the courtyard of an Indian man with an Indian maiden in his arms that was very pretty. Mom pointed at the statue, and pronounced it "Bonita!" To her shock, it was immediately loaded into the trunk of our car. My mother seemed to catch on pretty fast that you have to be careful what you compliment! Seems that the mere compliment of any item would result in being gifted with that item!

Tia Anna asked my dad what she could give my mother as a gift. Dad asked mom what she would like and she responded carefully that she really would like a pair of Mexican sandals, "huaraches"! Anna was delighted and insisted that she take Mom into the town to the shoe store to find her a pair! Mom said that would be wonderful, and Anna said we would go right after lunch. Mom asked if she needed to change clothes and Anna replied that she was fine just as she was, in her blouse and pair of shorts. (Remember it's summer and very hot in Mexico.)

The big black car was readied and the driver opened the door for me and my sister to climb in the back. Another car carried my mom, dad, the baby, and Tia Anna. We got to the shoe store and went inside. Mom started trying on sandals.

Anna started laughing and pointed at the store window. There were about 25 Mexican men all looking intently in the window at the pretty young blond woman in her shorts trying on shoes! The word must have gotten out because before long, there were twice as many men, pushing each other out of the way to get a better look.

Dad was very annoyed and he kept telling mom that she should have known better than to wear a pair of shorts into a small town in Mexico. (Of course, he didn't really hadn't known any better either!) Anna seemed to find the whole thing hilarious! The next time we went to visit Anna, about 2 years later, even us kids dressed in skirts the entire time we were in Mexico!

Friday Confessional

Here we go again! Time for Friday's Confession. Thank you Glamazon for giving me this opportunity to unload!

Everyone forgive me for I have lied.

My last confession was snippets of truth mixed in with wild imagination. Three of the sins I claimed, I owned proudly. But the rest of them, not so much. I am not sorry for this sin. Not in the slightest! It made for a very merry Friday!

So there you have it! (And, no, I will not indicate which ones were true!) I'd much rather leave that up to you, dear reader! What I can tell you is that all of them had what I would have to call a smidgen of truth in them, but only that smidgen! (What on earth is a smidgen? I'm not sure.)

I have had my husband home since last Sunday afternoon. Not enough time for me to get ticked off at him. Having my darling DIL and the four babies and Lola for a visit was more fun than trial. Hanging up on the telemarketer is not a sin.

So other than that one big one (THE LIE), I am sinless which is just as well right before Easter. Now, keep in mind, I am primarily a pagan woman so the concept of sin may not be the same for you as it is for me.

Nonetheless, Happy Easter and Happy Spring and where the hell is the sun???

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Black Jack

This photo was taken of my Dad a few months before his death. I guess being on his boat was the thing he liked best in the world.

Dad was a cop with the San Francisco Police Department. When he was hired on right before I was born, he was the only Mexican cop on the force.

In those days, there was a lot of racial prejudice particularly in the primarily Irish SFPD. Dad's name, Joaquin, was changed to "Jack", and other cops called him "Black Jack", but it wasn't a term of affection.

Dad married my Irish mother at a time that it was considered a "mixed marriage". He and Mom produced 4 daughters before the inevitable end of the marriage. (He was a guy who had a hard time turning down a pretty woman or a horse race!) And the women flocked to this handsome Mexican cop. Mom had finally had enough by the time I was 14.

I really didn't see much of my Dad until I was 21 or so. Then we reconnected in a big way. His new wife and he had two boys, my half bothers. Dad's wife cared for my son while I worked. Dad used to come by my apartment after I got divorced and had a 2nd child, a daughter.

In the dark days after my divorce, I would see Dad's police car parked outside and he would take a while coming in. Dad would bring in bag after bag of groceries for me and the kids. This was never done with fanfare, just a matter of fact taking care of business.

It's funny, I had always blamed my Dad for the end of my parents' marriage. That really was not fair. It truly does take two to tango! Dad had his bad points to be sure. But Mom wasn't the saint I believed her to be either. (None of us are.)

I'm so glad I got to know this man before he died. I can honestly say it helped me so much after I lost him way too early. And I was so happy that he knew I loved him!

I remember his funeral and the big police presence. There was a wreath in the shape of a police star and his badge number on it. They did Black Jack proud.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Hump Day With Harry

Me And Dad In My Bed

It' s been one of those weeks. Sheesh! Or "HFMB" as my mom and dad shout at each other and laugh!

Dad went on another trip to Ginia. That's far. When dad goes on a trip, mom says "I can't walk you Harry. You're just too bad on a leash!" Okay, so for fun I just chase squirrels and run for my life from Honey. It gets boring usually though.

I have an island to go play on too if dad is home. It's called "Coast Gard Island" and it belongs to me and Honey. You go there and you can chase ducks into the water and swim right out after them. You can find cats in the trees too. One day I did. I love finding cats in trees. I can run and run fast as the wind.

I told you before there is this dog next door named Dutch and he is my friend. He lives with Sansome, (this yappy Pug guy) and Delilah. Delilah is a French Bull Dog but she's pretty small. Okay so I'm out in the yard and I'm chasing squirrels and then all at once I get a smell that's like something I've never smelled coming from next door. This is the most awesome thing I've ever smelled in my life!

So what do I do, I start digging. There's a fence between our houses, but I can dig really deep and go over to that yard and see what that smell is all about. Mom catches me digging and yells at me "NO HARRY!" so I stop for minute until she goes inside.

My next door neighbor Mary comes over and says to mom, Delilah is in heat! Mom says, "Oh I see." I know about hot dogs and sometimes I get a piece of one, but Delilah does not smell like one of those. She smells different and wonderful! I pretend like I'm chasing squirrels and that's my job, but I'm really still digging! I'm almost there!

Next thing you know, we get visitors. It's Lola and her family. The family are all nice but I love Lola. They let me go and play in the yard with Lola. But then everybody gets mad because I'm trying to do something fun with Lola and you know what happens? Everybody starts yelling at me and Lola even gets mad and bites me on the ear.

Mom says I'm trying to "mount" Lola. Well, how could I do that when I'm big and she's little? I'm just trying to play like we are doing something fun! Mom makes me go in the house and then Lola gets all the tension and all the snaks from everybody. I'm mad too.

Then Honey gets mad because she hates Lola. It was really a fun day! Mom had to yell at Honey too and that made me laugh! Honey never gets in trouble for anything except things like trying to kill the cat or Lola. Hah!

Then Dad comes home and I'm so glad to see him. I know he's not mad at me and he will give me snaks because he always eats snaks all the time! He eats snaks and then he takes naps! You see why I love this guy so much?

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Reading in Bed

I got married at 19. There were no shotguns present. In mid to late 1960's, it was a normal age to get married.

My mother explained to me that there would be a lot of wifely duties. Uh huh. Laundry, meals, housework, and my all time favorite, ironing. I also understood we would have sex and that was fine with me, considering we had already done "it" several times and I liked it fine.

I quit my job because we were moving to a place called Mountain View. I was a San Francisco girl and it felt like we were moving to Guam or something. Still, I went along with it because "whither thou goest..." or something like that. My husband John was a salesman and we went where his company sent us. I got that.

My husband also would have husbandly duties, namely to support my ass. Fine. It all sounded pretty much okay as far as I could tell. After a small wedding in Reno, we set about moving into our furnished apartment in the City of Mountain View, about an hour's drive from San Francisco.

John's mother, Edith, in order to assure that her son would not starve to death, insisted that we come to dinner every Sunday. (Her concerns were not totally unjustified because to say I was not much of a cook is probably the understatement of the century.)

What John did not know about me is that I was a read-aholic. I got up, put on lipstick, made coffee, scrambled him some eggs and popped some toast in the wedding gift toaster, and then kissed him goodbye every morning before he set off to his job. Then I pranced around the apartment singing "I'm free! I'm free!" and climbed back into bed with two or three paperback novels and a cup of instant coffee.

I got lost in my books for a couple of hours, only pausing long enough to make toast and jam for me before I climbed back into bed. I kept one eye on the clock because I had to leave at least an hour to shower, fix my make up, put on clothes, stick something or the other in a casserole dish and shove it in the oven, plus hide anything laying around like laundry or dirty dishes.

My preference at that point in my life was "bodice ripper romances". There was a writer called Rosemary Rogers and she was wonderful. Pirates would kidnap the beautiful horny heiress and then she would succumb to the leader of the pirates. Okay, it sounds dumb, but it was really very sexy for its time.

Sometimes I went for something really more intellectual like "Valley of the Dolls" or "Peyton Place", but not usually. My mental alarm would go off, and I would jump out of bed and start running around to get ready for my returning husband.

Corn flakes and tuna casserole don't just "happen" I found out! It took some time! (Okay, not much.) The biggest challenge was figuring out what I was going to tell him I did all day, oh, (and hiding the laundry in a place that he couldn't see it.) I claimed one day that I had been busy doing laundry all day. Another it was cleaning the apartment. (How did he never notice it looked exactly the same all the time, pretty messy?)

I could have gone on like this for years. In fact, I would have, except for one thing. John wanted me to get a job. Huh? I mean, I'm married now. Why should I have a job? Oh, for the money. John's mother Edith kept talking every Sunday about how I could help out if I made a little money. Uh huh.

Help out whom??? I liked it fine just as it was. Alas, John still listened to his mother and so I walked a mile in the blistering heat and got a job selling linoleum at Sears. Yeah, that was a highlight for me.

The job didn't last. Neither did did the marriage. I did get two great kids out of the whole deal though. So it's not all bad!

Monday, March 29, 2010

Katie and the Hand Jive, Plus Five

This is my crew. In this photo is my son, John, and his family. From left to right, let me introduce Aidan, John, Kate, Emma, Hannah, and Abbey Rose in front holding the ever charming Lola!

Because my husband was on a business trip (when isn't he?), and my son John was in Palm Springs at a "Continuing Education of the Bar" function, Kate and the kids and Lola decided to come and pay me a visit this weekend.

Now, don't get me wrong for a second. I adore each and every one of this motley crew. They are all creatures I would love even if my son was not so intimately related to them. It's just that, well, there are so many of them!

I live a quiet life. I don't have a lot of noise or activity in my everyday life any more. Sure, I have Alex (who is hardly ever home, so I'm not sure if I should count him or not), and Honey, (nice quiet girl doggie), and Harry, (big noisy goofy boy dog), and Smoke the cat, (you all know how cats are), but pretty much we are a quiet group.

The minute the kids and Lola and Kate arrive, everything changes! There is noise! There is, dare I say it, complete chaos! Abbey and Aidan (the "Littles"), and Emma and Hannah (the "Bigs") plus Lola, (the love of Harry's life), change the entire culture of calm within two minutes of arrival.

Kids eat all the time. Every second of every waking hour, they eat. If they are not eating, they are drinking. There are cracker crumbs, there are half full cups every place I look. And there is noise. Lots and lots of noise.

Conversations are impossible. It's all a fun blur kind of like a roller coaster ride. I know they were here, but I'm not sure what all happened. We went out, we ate, we come home, they ate again.

My next door neighbor, Mary, has a French Bulldog named Delilah who is in heat. For whatever reason, this gave neutered Harry the idea that Lola and he should engage in some activity that would have been challenging for either one of them. For the first time since Harry and Lola have been together, Harry was fixed on making improper advances toward Lola. The scent of Spring was in the air, along with the scent of the lovely Delilah, next door.

If I wasn't trying to keep big Harry from trying to show his physical and somewhat brutish love to the tiny Lola, I was trying to keep Aidan from throwing Abbey down the 25 or so stairs on the staircase! Hannah and Emma, the "Bigs" were plotting how to displace each other the entire visit. Hannah was busy texting friends during most of the visit, unless she was fighting with Emma.

Abbey was busy at all times doing something. And causing all of the other siblings to yell at her. She's hilarious and fearless. She likes being tossed down stairs.

Meanwhile, Kate is the picture of cool. I love this girl. She is so relaxed and calm. I am secretly calling neighbors begging for valium. In lieu of that, perhaps, it's time to hit the gin.

In the midst of all the activity, Alex arrived home from his trip! He was very disappointed that they were going to have to leave not too long after he got home. (Alex, like Kate, is very calm in the face of chaos and noise! In fact he loves it!)

Don't get me wrong. I love to see them come! I just get rattled with all of it. And I confess, I breathe a sigh of relief when they go.