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Friday, October 12, 2012

Hesperia Town Has Mountain Views, Too!

Looking West towards the Los Angeles National Forest and Wrightwood
 I took a walk the other day. It was Wednesday,  my day off from work, since I work Saturday this week. I was anxious, and although there was much to do around the house, I really wanted to work on my furniture. There are three more chairs that need my attention, but I am out of steel-wool and I don't have any upholstery staples for the staple gun.
Edison sub-station on the left, residential water retention basin on the right.
 I thought about driving to the new Super-Walmart, and immediately got more anxious. I changed my mind about going to Walmart. In fact, I changed my mind ab out driving anywhere, thinking about the recent spike in gas prices ($4.69/gallon). That's when it occurred to me that the .99 Cents Store may have the items I'm looking for! "It's a nice day for a walk, I will walk up there and get my things, and soon be in my happy place in the garage working on my chairs!"

In twenty minutes I was at my destination. "Oh, look, there's pumpkins! Cute, medium-to-small sized pumpkins, the popular orange squash of the season! I will grab two of those!" (oh, wait... I'm walking, and I don't think I want to carry these all the way home--put the pumpkins back).
Better view of Wrightwood Mountains
 I searched for those items I wanted, and hard as I looked, they still did not magically appear! Up and down the aisles I went, and nothing.

But, there were a few things that managed to jump into my cart. I saw a bike lock. Need that, because later in the day I had an appointment about four miles away, and I could ride my bike, if only I had a lock for it! Done!
Looking West
 Packaging tape - need that! I have a few books to mail from the program. (the tape is inferior quality, won't buy that again! Must have 3M label on it to be superior quality tape).

And I know none of these pictures relate to this story yet, but hang in there. I will bring it all together.
Looking South-East towards Big Bear and San Bernardino National Forest
 Epsom salt bath for  a family member who needs it - check! Two bags, please! (small enough to carry). Eggs on sale, (only ONE per customer, please). And there's these nifty flat door-knob protector pads for the walls! I only need three, but they come two in a pack. So much stuff I didn't know I needed! What was I looking for? That's right, steel-wool and upholstery staples... nary a one in sight!
 Checked out, packed the eggs on top wrapped in a few plastic bags, and put them on top of the items in my knap-sack. (There's an interesting word. It is carried on the back. Why is it called "knap-sack?" What is a knap? Does your mind work like mine? Wandering around, curious about words, wondering their origin? Knowing that if I start researching it I will have to call in absent to work because I need to finish this research?).

I left the store, and I was walking "gingerly" so as not to disturb the eggs. I really didn't walk home, but I strolled home at a very leisurely pace. I was surrounded by blue skies and fluffy clouds. (ok, so now we're getting to the pictures). In fact, I walked and wandered so slowly that it took me three times as long to get home. I wasn't going to be working on my chairs, so I had plenty of time.
my shadow
Joshua Trees

 This is taking longer than I budgeted for, so really quickly these remaining pictures are Joshua trees, which I think are very pretty in their own way. They are a protected species, but not so loved. There was a bird on one of them-- can you find it?

Add caption

 The housing tract we live in is adjacent to this beautiful desert. I love living here, although I dream of a day when I can live in the valley of some "real" mountains.
 By the time I got here, the wind was picking up. There went my plans for riding my bike to the chiropractor! It's probably for my own good, being that it has only been six weeks since I fell off the ladder. I don't need to tempt fate!

 Bob and Carol have a cute Minnie-Winnie, new model. They are good neighbors! She retired from GTE, the company who hired me.
 Mark keeps the yard looking great! My friend asked me recently if she could have the name of our gardener!
And one more of the mountains -- looking over the culverts that cross over the California Aqueduct -- another wonderful place to walk!

I hope you liked these pictures. Enjoy the life around you!!

Monday, September 10, 2012

Restoration Therapy

2 arm-chairs

 When I visited Eileen in March, she told me about a Facebook local yard sale site. Since their little community doesn't have a Craigslist, Eileen and a few others started up a Facebook site to buy, sell, and  occasionally post community happenings. It is an online community, and I was added as a guest resident. When I returned home to Hesperia, I checked into it, and sure enough, there's a Facebook "High Desert Yard Sale" site. I have sold some items, bought some items, and then I found a treasure!!
2 without arms
Needle-nose pliers.

       Last week I saw these chairs listed for $20.00 for all four chairs. I went over to look at them, and bought them. I visited with the man selling them, and I mentioned these look like Scandinavian style. He told me they were his mother's, and she is from Denmark.
Thread from previous fabric.

 I started right away in refinishing the wood. Something about steel-wool, sandpaper, mineral spirits and a straight-edged razor blade is very calming to me.
All 4 had 2 layers of fabric and one of Naugahyde.

I wonder how many families sat here?

Tools of the trade...
Finished product! 3 more to go!
 Everyday I work a little on the chairs. The fabric I'm covering them with is a garage-sale find from last May when Fern and I went to Wrightwood. It coordinates with the table-cloth she made me. Now, if only this hobby could pay as well as my job. LOL! 
     I have seen the man I bought these from at the school picking up his little ones when I was picking up a boy I've been babysitting once a week. I can't wait to show him his old chairs!!

Saturday, September 8, 2012


 Troy was five years old when Gramma-Weese gave him this umbrella. There was a short window of time when my little boy used it. It rarely rains here, but when it does, look out! The rain comes down in sheets for only a few minutes, and the streets get flooded with desert dirt and debris. Main Street's traffic is backed up for miles, because everyone drives in the middle of the road due to the lanes being flooded. I came across this umbrella whilst cleaning out the garage. It was one of those items which caused me inner turmoil. Keep it? Toss it? Pass it on? A few of the spokes are missing the protective ends, and the fabric is coming off. It is a wonderful memory of Troy's childhood, and especially because it was a gift from Gramma-Weese, it was a difficult decision.
 That's when it occurred to me, I can keep a digital keepsake, and toss the umbrella. Crisis averted! Like my mom (Gramma-Weese) always said, "I can't have a crisis this week--my schedule doesn't allow for it!" This umbrella made me think of protection, and representation of care and love. Here's the umbrella hanging from my Mimosa tree in my front yard, which is like an umbrella. The tree provides wonderful shade and we enjoy sitting under it. But so do the ants! The tree trunk is covered with a four-lane highway of ants going hither and yon! Even the outside kitty, Sneak, likes to climb up and nestle in the the branches. Mark's mom and dad planted this tree around the same time Troy got this umbrella. The grandma's give different gifts, but both symbolize protection, shade, and care.

This verse came to mind while I was thinking about Troy's umbrella: Solomon's Song chapter 2 verse 4:"He brought me to the banqueting house, and his banner over me was love." This entire chapter is beautiful, and so meaningful to me this week. Verse 2 says "As the lily among thorns, so is my love among the daughters." Recently I heard about an old pine tree that had to be removed, and it housed a large family of woodpeckers. Sometimes when the shade or protection is removed, the inhabitants have to find other housing. In this case it was the neighboring home, and the woodpeckers damaged the eaves of the home, drilling holes through the 8" wood beams. I need to protect my protection, and make sure to upkeep that respite, that place under God's wings, so that I can know his love and care.  At Glenda's funeral a year and a half ago Rob Newman spoke about how Glenda provided spiritual shade, and place for souls to rest and find respite, the branches of her life extending to others, reaching out. I don't have my notes handy, but this verse describes Rob's message: 
"In the mountain of the height of Israel will I plant it: and it shall bring forth boughs, and bear fruit, and be a goodly cedar: and under it shall dwell all fowl of every wing; in the shadow of the branches thereof shall they dwell."

Friday, September 7, 2012

Call Me Grace...

 I've been working in the garage lately. Last Friday I spent all morning there, cleaning and organizing. I get such satisfaction in throwing out stuff! I think of it as paying mortgage on real estate which is only filled up with stuff we don't need, haven't used, and most likely will never use!
     There's one large item in the garage which needed to be attended to, and that is the solar pool cover for the in-ground pool. It is a 16' x 24' piece of blue bubble-wrap but much sturdier than regular bubble-wrap. Along with the large piece is a 6' round piece, for the jacuzzi. Previously I had loosely wrapped it in a black piece of plastic and stored it in the rafters of the garage. Recently it had come 'un-done' and each time I pulled the car into the garage, the blue bubble-wrap and the black plastic would inch down from the rafters and hit the top of the van.

     I managed to pull everything down from the rafters without the use of the ladder (see top photo). I re-rolled the blue bubble-wrap tightly, wrapped the black plastic around it, and taped it (see photo at right). And then things got tricky. How do I get this beast back up to the rafters? Oh, I know! I will climb on the ladder and muscle this thing up there! Why not?  No problemo! I asked Steve to help, since he was outside anyway, changing the tire on his car. I climbed the ladder, Steve held the beast, I took one end and attempted to put it up. And that's when the ladder fell out from under me, I grabbed the rafters with my right hand, and my life flashed before my eyes. My past, present and future in 10 seconds on fast-forward played out in my head. In my head I heard my Tae-Kwon-Do instructor say, "If you are going to fall, make yourself as small as possible." I held onto the rafters as long as I could (a few seconds), then made sure the ladder was settled. I glanced at Steve, and decided he would not be able to catch me. Then I let go. Eight and a half feet I dropped, and I did not land on my feet. That proves I am not a cat. I did, however, land on the most padded part of my body. I did not bounce like a rubber ball. Thud, on my bottom on the concrete floor! My left arm hit the leg of the ladder. I remember tucking my head and neck towards my torso to make certain I would not hit the other leg of the ladder. And the bruise on my right thigh indicates I hit the ladder there. "Don't hit your head, save the neck!" kept running through my mind. "Stay out of the hospital, don't call 911!" was foremost in my thoughts! Steve was nearly in shock, and did his best to help. He got an ice-pack from the freezer for my wrist, which immediately got a goose-egg bump, a bruise, and broke the skin. It could have been so much worse! I'm O.K! I'm O.K! Shaken-up a bit, but A-O-K! And by now (one week later) the bruises are yellow and really ugly. I went to chiro Wednesday, and I'm going back right now for more shock-wave heat treatment for my tailbone. Yay for chiro! Yay for Epsom Salt baths! And for landing on my bottom! ~ and now you have...the rest of the story! Good Day!

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Optical Illusion?

Do you see what I see? No cars! Normally there are two cars parked next to the curb, unless the guys are out job-hunting. This week both Travis and his buddy Steve got jobs! Yesterday when I returned from an errand, I was thrilled at the realization that they both got jobs! It was refreshing to see no cars parked in front of the house in the afternoon. There was a delightful calming feeling that THEY GOT JOBS! They've both been working at job-hunting heavily for about one month. When Travis was home on lunch-break on his first day, he got a phone call from another place he applied. He told them he recently was hired elsewhere, and they asked him if his friend Steve is still interested. Steve was on the phone at the time with his family, and I told him to end his call because he had to call this job prospect! It was rude of me to interrupt his phone call, and I really don't like when someone does that to me. But there was a job on the line here!! Travis started his new job on Wednesday, and today he got another call-back for yet another (#3) job he applied for. The job he has is better than the other two he has had to turn down, but he is willing to pick up a second job if his current schedule permits. Steve's job is going to fit in perfectly with his school schedule when he returns to Cal-State next month.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Project Bonus Kid

      Question: What would you do if your teenage son's friend asks if he can stay with you and your family?

     Answer: Of course, yes, absolutely!

Would I do it again? Of course, yes, absolutely! But this time with my eyes wide open.

     Project Bonus Kid was an interesting experience for our household, and  I think everyone has been changed for the better. Ten months we gave refuge to a kid, who for reasons still not clear, was left behind. One parent went out of state to care for an elderly family member, the other parent has never been involved.  Like any new relationship, it brought with it promise of freshness and new beginnings. And like most relationships, over time it became stale and sometimes stinky. I am trying to be politically correct here, so as not to slander or implicate said teenager. At some point, most teenagers are stinky. Even my own. One main difference, my own stinky teenager usually knows when he stinks, and then does something about it (such as jump in the pool, take a bath, or spray some Axe on said stinky teenager). Many options in various degrees of simplicity are available for correcting the stinky problem. How to you tell Bonus Kid to clean up? There are only so many ways to hint at the problem, carefully, not to crush the poor kid's spirit. (Yes, he has one, even if he doesn't believe so). For instance, at dinner, one might say to Bonus Kid, "Ahem, I think it's time for a shower." At which Bonus Kid could respond with, "I took one last night." Bonus Kid is the size of a full grown man, and really could use two showers per day. Or at least one shower plus one jump in the pool. The smell of chlorinated water is still better than Teenage Stinky Smell. But when it's your own kid, it's more tolerable. It's like when the boys were in diapers. I really didn't mind changing my own baby's diapers, but someone else's baby? Sure, they are cute and all, and I will hold and play with them, even bottle-feed them, burp them and wipe their spit-up and put them to sleep. But another baby's diapers? Sorry, that's on you. Back to Bonus Kid, to his credit, once he actually got in the shower, he made up for the negligence. It takes time to get clean, I know, but forty-five minutes is a tad overboard. I didn't mind, tho, because I was so happy the problem was being addressed, at least for the time-being. And afterwards, Bonus Kid smelled fantastically clean and looked sharp! It just didn't happen often enough!

     Bonus Kid looked like he was my own kid, with blond hair, blue eyes and fair skin. He had the musical talent that my own boys have. Talent which he still doesn't know he possesses. I still wonder how great he would become on the bari-sax if he actually practices. He is so confident playing the bari-sax, that one time he performed without a mouthpiece. He left it at home, and during warm-ups the director walked through the sax section, right in front of Bonus Kid, who had no mouthpiece. He played the part, pretending like he was playing, and had only the cover of the mouthpiece. I believe the director knew this, but gave the kid a break because of the 'situation.' As much as the director is a perfectionist and demands the best of his students, I am sure the director knew that Bonus Kid had no mouthpiece, and let it go. Choose your battles, right? That is the philosophy I often parent with. 

      Bonus Kid fit right into our family in many ways, such as his sense of humor! Bonus Kid and my husband could crack up at nothing, with just a look shared between them. Brothers from another mother, separated at birth. They both excel at grocery shopping, and BK went with my husband which was a big help. BK also excels at cooking, and he wants to be a chef.  Bonus Kid taught me how to make German Potato Salad. He made great Chop-Suey. But he didn't clean up after himself. Which I didn't mind so much, because he was cooking, contributing to the household. Still, I reminded him that the best chef has to start with dish-washing. When he was only cooking for himself, or snacking, and didn't clean his dishes, or even take them to the sink, well, yes that bothered me. Greatly. Disturbed me to no end. Caked-on pizza rolls residue, dried-up fruit juice in a glass, overnight and day-old cereal bowls in his room, soda cans tipped over and not cleaned up, ruined carpet. Choose your battles? Oh, right. I forgot. Bonus Kid got the blue-ribbon for eating, however. And for this, I miss him. Especially on Sundays.

     One way BK did not fit into our family was in school work. BK is very smart, honestly maybe too smart for high school. He is smart with street-sense and life's hard-knocks. His outlook on homework, however, was not smart. Why should he do this stupid stuff when he already knows xyz? ("Just do it, if you already know it, it won't take you long to do it! Turn it in, done! I can stop nagging you to do it!") I chose to fight that battle, and I didn't win. But you know what, neither did BK. No one won. I advocated for extra-credit with a couple of his teacher's, and he didn't do it. That was the decision-making point. I can't care more for his grades than he does. Done, over, move on. And yet, I miss him, especially on Sundays.

     Many involved in my life have often said, "He will thank you when he is older." "You did what you could." "You went beyond the call of duty." I respond to them, "You would do the same, if a kid asks you to live with them." Just a bit of perspective here, remember that a teenager is much more difficult to train than a puppy!

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Summer Reading List 2012

     I don't read books. I consume them. And since I have recently rekindled my relationship with, I am receiving two to three books per week, delivered by mail. If you have not discovered, I suggest you try it, unless you are of an addictive nature, like me. Then stay away from, because it has the potential to ruin your life, turn you into a hermit, and drain your bank account. Yes, the books are free, but the postage is not. I could get cheaper media-mail postage by driving over to the post office and actually send out my books. But what fun is that, when it is so much more convienent to "click here" to create a shipping label? Besides the fact I am too paranoid to drive, but that's a topic for another day. So, the idea of getting free books without leaving my home, and swapping out books I no longer want, is just delightful! And we all need to be delighted, given the current socio-economic, political roller-coaster that is called 2012.

     I will begin by posting a review of the first book I read of this Summer of 2012. The book is titled wild by Cheryl Strayed, and is some-what of a memoir. This book was a spontaneous purchase at Costco, suggested by my husband, "Here hon, you would like this." He was right, but I know he equally enjoyed reading it. In fact, he told me he was taking his time reading it, because he wanted to savor it. (What?! is that how it's done? I can't put a good book down once I'm into it). wild is the story of a woman's desperate attempt to find herself after life threw a few curve-balls. (Mom died, she left her husband, drugs, etc.) Cheryl decides to hike the Pacific Crest Trail, but procrastinates about doing any actually training or day-hiking to get in shape and acclimated to the weight of her pack. Then she packs the thing with too much weight, and discovers the hiking boots she has are a size too big. In the process of her story-telling of the outrageous hike, she takes the reader back in time, hightlighting the events in her life which brought her to the decision to hike the Pacific Crest Trail. She never gave up, although the thought crossed her mind once or twice. It was fun to read about her starting point in Tehachapi, a town we often stop for gas on our way up north. As she scaled the mountains of California, it was interesting to recognize names of towns and mountain-peaks we know and love. And her ending point took her right past Timberline Lodge, which holds a special place in my heart. Legend has it, that is the place of my mother's high school prom, dance, field trip? There's a photograph somewhere of my mom and her sister at Timberline Lodge. And for more significance, it is the spot of a Prine family spring-break trip, 2008. We flew into Portland, rented a car and drove to Mt. Hood, spent a few nights at Timberline Lodge, and continued our drive north to Seattle. Timberline Lodge is a magical place, and I love to gaze at the Sisters mountains from the picture window, and feel the spirits of ancient visitors. wild is a good read, if a little bit 'out there,' but it is real, raw and unabridged. It has brought up some questions for me, I wonder if it will for you?

     The second book, The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin, was also a Costco find. I'm happy to have read it. But to fully read this book, it takes work and effort, in a good way. This book also brought up questions for me, and also a road-map to the answers. I am re-reading it and looking up some words I don't recognize (ebullient, for example). Reading The Happiness Project on the heels of wild showed a strong contrast between these two authors. Both women are from the midwest, and both took very different paths than what their parent's expected. Gretchen Rubin was a lawyer who decided to quit lawyering to become an author. Cheryl Strayed took over fifteen years to complete college, was sidetracked many times along the way, and maybe now these two authors could hold a conversation. But not before Cheryl hiked the PCT. I get the feeling Gretchen either has not had much drama in her life, or that she just has a sunnier disposition. Or maybe she has written about her struggles in more detail in another book. Compared to Cheryl Strayed's writing, Gretchen's life is very mellow. Back to Gretchen and the bluebird of happiness, it is a fun book with some concrete excercises to bring back the happiness to life. I have adopted some simple things from this book, but I think they are things I already knew, such as "If you don't have something nice to say, don't say anything at all." At which point I might become mute, since many things that pop into my head to say are not nice, or at least are cynical or sarcastic. This book has reminded me to "put on a happy face" and also to "gaze lovingly" at the sleeping children in their beds. Oops, the children are now men, but I can still peek in on them while they are cherub-like, snoring, tucked in their beds.  I will be offering this for swap on

     I am recognizing a trend in the books I have chosen to read. Women who are PhD's
(is that a requirement to be published?) and who came from humble beginnings, who have gone down a path (either for good or bad) completely opposite of their original community would have expected of them. The third book, Mennonite in a Little Black Dress by Rhoda Janzen came in the mail on Thursday. I finished the book today, Sunday. I told you, I consume books! (sidebar- I have an abundance of idle time right now, since I am not able to drive). This book was a delight to read, basically because it made me laugh at the family dynamics. Mind you, I was not laughing at them, but laughing in recognition, laughing with Rhoda as she told about her funny mother and spend-thrift father. Road-trips and senior discounts, temper flare-ups of her father, bossy older brother (sound familiar?). Rhoda left the Mennonite community, spent twenty years in academia, and then after life's happenings, returned to her roots to reflect and recuperate. Mennonite in a Little Black Dress is also a look into investing too much into another individual, taking the term "two shall become one" literally, and Rhoda losing herself in a fifteen year marriage that was filled with pain and suffering, once she decided to look at it head-on. Rhoda even shares her grandmother's Broscht recipe, among others. I am not swapping this one, but I will be sending it away to my girlfriend who lives in Mennonite country, so she can laugh with Rhoda.

     I am currently reading Cinderella Ate My Daughter, by Peggy Orenstein. I don't have a daughter, and if I did, Cinderella hopefully would not eat her. But I am enjoying this book, which is uncovering the marketing and commercialism theories for children's toys. I have a few friends who have young daughters, and they are over-stimulated with cheer, dance, Disney Princesses and pink everything. But who am I to judge? I have been over-obsessed with everything band with my boys, only that's not marketed and commercialized. I suppose it is, in music-stores and gear, amps, trumpet mouthpieces and mutes, but this is for art, for the love of music, which is genderless. Peggy Orenstein begins by describing Thomas the Tank Engine's new svelte, smaller train engina with a girly name ("Lady").
We love Thomas in this house, and I recently found the boys' train-set. It brought back so many fond memories of playing with them and the trains. Maybe we went a little overboard with Thomas (curtains, bedding, rug, sleeping bags, lunch pail, VHS tapes, books). But at least nothing was covere in Pepto-Bismol pink! Cinderella Ate My Daughter is "dispatches from the front lines of the new girlie-girl culture." I am torn on this idea, because little girls are so cute, especially when they are playing princess, and commanding court in their fantasy world. And don't you wish you could be a princess, if only for a day?

     Which leads me to the next book on deck, The Day Diana Died, from Diana was our princess, the people's princess, and I certainly remember my Mom wanted Prince Charles to marry my oldest sister; I remember the announcement when Charles and Diana got engaged, and I remember watching the Royal Wedding at Janice's house. I remember when Prince William and  Prince Harry were born. I remember following Diana in the media, what she was doing, and wearing, and then the divorce. And the Janice called me to tell me about the awful accident which took Diana's life. I look forward to reading The Day Diana Died. Is that morbid? She is most certainly a legend, a candle burned out too soon.

     Thanks for tuning in to Bev's Summer 2012 Reading List. What are you reading?

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Books, books and more books!!

The monstor book cabinet was re-homed to the dining-kitchen area this week. This is solid oak, made-in-America, six feet and then some tall, four feet wide and two and ahalf feet deep. This piece of furniture joined our family when we lived on Bennett street in Fontana, over 27 years ago. It now holds books, like always, but it also holds some dishes, table-cloths, cake plates and paper-plates. To make room for the kitchen items, I had to discard some books. By some, I mean an enormous amount of books. I should open my own library. Except these books are old, boring and many out of date. I came across one that had some tips about the American economy and about buying and selling stocks. That book is obsolete, since it was printed prior to 2008, when everything about the American economy changed, somersaulted, turned housed upside down and underwater. The fall-out of the crash of 2008 is still being felt, and it will still get worse before it really starts to get better. The current administration in the white house blames the problems on the former administration. Blame-placing seems to be more important than finding solutions and fixing America. Welcoming more foreigners appears to be more vital than taking care of Americans. Giving weapons to drug cartel members to kill U.S. border patrol agents ranks high on the list of priorities for this current administration, and then lying about having any knowledge of these facts is important. The federal government won't even support their own laws, which Arizona is proactively trying to enforce. This country is broken, it's like a wounded horse, and it needs to be put down. Time for a "do-over" and start fresh. The way it's going, we will become like our not-so-nice neighbors to the south. Why do they want to come to America? Because they have lost all control, the drug cartel runs their country, killing policemen in open public. I love America and all the founding fathers intended at the inception, but those ideals are ignored and not so popular anymore. What does all this have to do with books? Since I had to discard to many, and I don't like to through anything away, I posted many books on which started out as a media swapping site for books, movies, music and video games, and now has expanded to incude clothing, household goods, cars - anything you can think of. I still prefer only the media swap portion of While I post the many books I wish to discard, I earn swap points, and am offered many books I can receive in return. There is a section called "ClassroomSwap" for donating to schools. I get a thrill out of donating and volunteering, and this way I can put my discarded books to good use. Some recent donations include "A People's History of the United States" (Howard Zinn, 1980) which focuses on European invasion, politically and economically exploited groups such as Indians (now called Native Americans), blacks (African-Americans), women and poor laborers of all nationalities. I wonder what such a book today would look like? Would it showcase the reversal of mind-set that is today, 2012? Would Zinn dare to write about how in California the white race is the minority? How that illegal immigrants (oops, sorry-"undocumented citizens") benefit from free health services and how the current administration and even the opponent in the race for president want to give these people a break at college education, when I (regular, white, hard-working, two income, parents of diligent students who get honors) have to fork over full tuition which increases every semester? When did America allow this to happen? When did foreign-born, in this country illegally but not by their own fault, just born here by irresponsible parents, or single mothers, take precedence over our own citizens? America wants to be every nation's big brother, but at what cost? It seems at the cost of neglecting our own, spending more on illegal immigrants education and healthcare, and ignoring the fact that Americans are returning home from Iraq and Afghanistan with little pay and fewer medical services to support them and their families, and help them heal. Which leads me to another book I've recently donated, "Extraordinary Correspondence from American Wars - War Letters" (Andrew Carroll, 2001), which was requested by a 12th grade teacher in Binghamton, NY. This covers letters from soldiers during the Civil War through the Persian Gulf War. Praise for this book comes from Tom Brokaw, Studs Terkel, John Glenn and Stephen Ambrose. Ambrose says, "In the sweep of history, the experience of the lone soldier is often lost, but in this breathtaking collection the individual voices of the men and women who have served this nation come to life with a power and an eloquence that is both gripping and unforgettable. I can think of no better way to understand the horrors of war than to read the words of those who have been caught in its grasp, and these extraordinaryletters offer some of the most dramatic eyewitness accounts of war imaginable. Quite simply, this is one of the greatest, most riveting books of war letters I have ever read." (And you know Ambrose has read many, and he has written many war books.)
Are these soldiers efforts to defend and protect America and her freedoms in vain? I want to say no, I want to hope that the beliefs they fight for are still true and valid today, in 2012, but with the current political situations ("The private sector is doing fine.") I can only wonder...and keep trusting that God is in control.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Travis' graduation from Cal State San Bernardino, B.A. in Economics
Saturday, June 16, 2012

Who knew a child would be graduating from university? Oh, wait...he's not a child. I keep losing track of time. My oldest son is a man, 21 to be exact. Just this morning I was looking at a photo of him at four years old, thinking that the years have slipped by so fast. Yesterday was his University graduation. The weather was beautiful. Troy drove us down to Cal State. We hugged Travis off at the 'old gym' and we found good seats in the arena. This is the final commencement for the current University president (he's retiring in August), and he wanted to talk long, but finally the graduates came in, and I cried. I always cry whenever I hear "Pomp and Circumstance" or whatever that march song is called. Four years of dedicated, diligent, hard work and Travis is a University Graduate. Mark and I have contributed financially to the Cal State system. You're welcome, Mr. University President. Tuition fee hikes, freshman-year housing, meal-plan, books, parking passes, gas money, etc. But it is all worth it. Now the future is before him, like a blank slate. Find work, live your passion. Answer all the questions everyone asks, "What are you going to do now?" Tell them something unexpected, make people think, and find out why some people do the things they do. People watching should be classifed as a sport. Congratulations, Travis!!

me testing the timer on the camera

some cooperation from Mark and Troy...but kitty Sneak kept trying to knock over the camera tri-pod

...and here's Travis, too...but wait, Troy is...move over here...


this one is better... but wait!...

ok... that's it! a good family picture!!

"can we just get this over with already?!"