Nested in an apple orchard on the outskirts of the town I grew up in is a wonderful little place called Gizdich Ranch. It is a working ranch with acres and acres of apple trees, and in the summer… berries… berries everywhere. You can take a picnic lunch or buy one there. You can sit in the yard filled with traditional red picnic tables  or in the shade of an apple tree in a Tom Sawer whitewashed Adirondack chair. There is a hay bale tunnel and an old tractor to play on. Every day there feels like an eternal fourth of July picnic.It is the embodiment of the Americana that you see only in movies,.. or memories.

My favorite part of this place is the antique shop. Now mind you I love old things in general, because they have stories to tell and they  give me a sense of permanence. Today I saw a gravy boat that was the same as one my mother had when I was growing up. The pattern on those dishes was unique and at the time I thought they were ugly, but not now. Now when I see that pattern, which is not very often, I feel the corners of my mouth turn slightly upward. I get the warm friendly feeling in my tummy, like the nightlight my grandmother used to keep on… small and soft and just for me

That little shop, in that old, old barn, with its unfinished wood floor worn smooth over the years takes me backward in time. It erases the traffic, the arguments and the doctor visits, the worries, the knot under my left shoulder blade and the heartbreaks of fifty one years. It reminds me of things that were once in my life but are now gone. I often think I would like to empty my house and start over again filling it with only the things that give me that feeling.


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Things I Have Learned From Ex Boyfriends

Things I have learned from ex boyfriends that I could care less about:

How to put a truck into 4 wheel drive

How to cook a fish on a stick over a campfire

Men can steer with their knees while they roll a joint


Stock car racing


Vegemite – There is so much wrong there I …I.. can’t even go there

Ron Paul


Things I have learned of from ex boyfriends that I am glad about:

The films of Robert Rodriguez

It is possible to be bitten by a dead shark

The Big Bang Theory ( The TV show not the way the universe was created, I learned that in the fifth grade)

The Serenity Prayer



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What’s in a Name? Pretty Much Everything That’s What!

So do you want to hear a story? Of course you do that’s why yo are reading this right now.

Once upon a time in a magical land about twenty minutes south of here called Watsonville, there was a little girl.

It was September of 1967, I boarded a school bus from the 2nd street Child Care Center. I was vaguely aware of something called Kindergarten. I wasn’t aware however that I was going there for the first time that day. I protested strongly in the way only a four year old can,  with tears and screams and the like.

When I got to school the teacher called roll and the most horrible thing happened. She called the name Jennifer and another girl answered.
WHAT! This cannot be that little blond girl in the leopard print dress had the same name?! It cannot be. Jennifer was my name. It was what made me special. I cried even more. I ran to a corner and would not stop. My four year old mind was on overload. To make matters worse the teacher only had one Jennifer on the role and it was a different last name.
This new girl was in and I was out. Another little girl tried to make friends with me and came over with one of those big round red rubber balls that are the most epic symbol of childhood in America.
“You wanna play”?  she timidly asked and handed me the ball. I threw it and screamed “NO”.

Little did I know that in a few short years Jennifer would become the most popular girls name in the country for the next fifteen years. Later in films and television it would go on to denote a woman of easy morals and gumby like prowess in the sack. I’m not saying this part wasn’t true for me ’cause lets face it the 80’s were pretty fun and I was pretty dam gumby like in my twenties. Don’t judge.

Any way I was in fact traumatized for a long time over this. I really did believe for many years that I was special. I have since learned it is not your name that makes you special, it is who you are and what you do with the handful of breaths God gives you in this lifetime.

To top this off, the reason I wasn’t on the teachers role sheet was because the bus had taken all of us to Mac Quiddy Elementary instead of H. A. Hyde Elementary. Which proved to be to my benefit as I did not encounter another Jennifer until I reached High School.

The Girl with the big red rubber ball? Her name was Christina, I met her again in Jr, High and she has been my friend ever since. Not a facebook friend but a true blue died in the wool there for me when my house burnt down, when my daughter was born, when my Grandmother died friend to this very day.


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When a Wrong Answer is the Right One

Today I asked a woman a question. The answer she gave me set off a chain of events I will never forget. Ever.

It was nine thirty  a.m. when I walked into Safeway. I had already dropped my daughter off at her boyfriends house, dropped my son off at his football game, and gone and paid my cable bill. There were a few other random things thrown in there like feeding the cats and taking a shower, but really how much detail do you want?

The answer this woman gave me necessitated that I leave the store . On my way to my next destination I witnessed a car accident. I witnessed dozens of people drive around it. I pulled over and parked. I grabbed the whistle I wear around my neck at work and went to help. As I stood in the middle of this busy intersection taking photos of the accident since neither driver had a smart phone, cars whizzed by. One woman even leaned out her window swearing at us.

While I was talking to the officer I realized how much I like the boots that  motorcycle cops wear, They are pretty cool looking footwear. I also noticed that after almost an hour the elderly woman involved in the accident didn’t have anyone coming to get her. So while another one of the witnesses who stopped ran across the street to get this ladies prescriptions for her husband who  had a stroke which was why she was driving in the first place, I helped her into my car and then drove her home. I also made sure a nurse went to check on her.

Her home happened to be right by my sons football game so I called my Mom whose house I was supposed to be at after buying her some groceries but because of the answer the lady in Safeway gave me I was in the right place/ right time to witness the accident, I went and caught the second half of  a High School JV Football game.

I sat in front of THE LOUDEST family ever. You know the kind of folks who swear at the refs and every kid on the field is an idiot except theirs and the other team is cheating or on steroids? Those people. Yup. I learned a lot. If you as a parent are going to sit in the stands and yell derogatory things at the underpaid high school football coaches and referees, then why are you surprised when your kid gets kicked out of the game for unsportsmanlike behavior?

Now I may not know how to play football but I do know that the other team won because they were a cohesive team. They moved as a unit. They knew each other and what to expect from each other. Our team I am sad to say had a couple of players who  were good, made NO team effort. They behaved like prima donnas,  fighting on the field,  throwing their helmets on the ground arguing with the coach. Their family was loud. I learned a lot about behavior but I still suck at football. Not to mention my boy was happy to see me in the stands.

A second trip to the grocery store was required as I still had not picked up a loaf of raisin bread, my momma loves her raisin bread. I realized Trader Joe’s  is the most dangerous place on earth. Not just the parking lot either I was past produce and all the way into the frozen food aisle as I ducked and dodged and slowed  and spun to avoid bumping into the other shoppers all the while mentally cursing their collective stupidity when it hit me like a brick. Everyone was on sensory overload. People were standing in the middle of aisles stopped staring mouth agape eyes glazed over. They weren’t stupid , they were maxed out. That realization coupled with my experience with the elder lady gave me a new level of patience.

Oh the question I asked the lady in Safeway? It doesn’t really matter. What matters is she gave me the wrong answer. Yep that’s right she misunderstood what I had asked her and she gave me the wrong answer. Somehow though It was the right one

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Stronger than a super Hero

When I was in College taking a class called Childhood and Culture there was a very heated debate about how Barbie teaches girls the wrong thing. You know the old argument. Barbie places unreal expectations on girls about body image and blah blah blah.

I spoke up in defense of Barbie, or more so, in defense of my upcoming parenting skills,( I was four months pregnant at the time) by saying ” its just a toy, I would hope as a parent I would have more influence in my child’s life than an eleven inch piece of plastic”. To which my professor responded with a nod and the words ” very good”.

Recently on facebook a friend posted an article about a petition to have some super hero t shirts removed from Disney stores because they gave girls the wrong idea about who can be a leader. Here is a link to that article –

I disagree with the statement ” “Be a hero” translates to “act, take risks, make choices. “I need a hero” means “I’m a minority character. I’m passive, and I wait”.

I believe ” Be a Hero” translates to ” Do the right thing, have integrity, make a personal sacrifice in order to better the lives of others, act with compassion, do something to save the world. These are character traits of all the comic book super hero’s as well as the real life human ones.

But then I thought maybe I am wrong, maybe I am the only one who’s sense of self worth and ability to contribute to society isn’t compromised by a t shirt. So I asked the two hundred or so teenagers I work with daily and have as friends on facebook what the word hero means to them.

These are some of their answers (by the way I copied and pasted these so all grammatical activity is on them)

~some one who does extra-ordinary things for other people in need -Morgan age 14 (girl)

~It can mean many things, it could mean someone who helps someone in grave danger, someone who helps those less fortunate, or even a role model who inspires an individual. The word hero may have a textbook definition, but in reality, there is no “true” definition to the word hero. – Casey age 16 (boy)

~Someone who gives you a piece of gum even if it’s their last one. -Janette age 16 ( girl)

~ Hero to me is someone that sets a good example and someone that I can look up to that has show me the right path to take in life. -Madelaine age 17 (girl)

So there you have it. Apparently kids are in fact smarter than we give them credit for. Apparently we ( real live people) do have more influence on our youth than a tshirt or an eleven inch piece of plastic.

Just in case you don’t know who the super hero’s in question are, they are a scientist whose experiments got out of control and genetically modified his body when he is angry, a weapons inventor  who realized his lifes work was a bad thing and is going around trying to fix the damage he caused, an American soldier, and a Norse God who was thrown out of Vallhalla for wanting to save humanity

Now don’t get me wrong, I do acknowledge that pop culture and media influence are sometimes very bad things. I also acknowledge that I can in fact be wrong. If the part of it that gets your dander up is the lack of women super hero’s then for heaven sake make some. I have never wanted for a female hero because I am surrounded by them in real life. Including the friend who posted the article in the first place. She has all the qualities of a true hero and then some.

Just to be fair here is the link to the petition to have these tshirts removed from stores



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If I Could Outlaw One Holiday….

Aaahh Valentines Day….

A day of chocolates and flowers and candle lit dinners. A day when you are supposed to be able to tell your crush that you are sweet on them and celebrate romance.

I hate it. I always have. When I was a kid we made paper bags all decorated with hearts and doilies and taped them to the front of our desks ready to receive those declarations of love. The problem you ask? The valentines came 28 to a pack. Most classrooms had 32 kids in them. If you were a kid whose last name started with any letter past R in the alphabet chances are you didn’t get one. My last name started with an S. I specifically remember one Valentines Day in the third grade where all the other kids had 32 Valentines, I had three. This alphabetical slight scarred me for many many years.

Over time I thought it would get better, I was wrong. So very very wrong. With the exception of the one Valentines Day I used my tax refund to take my then eight year old daughter to Disneyland. I have never had a decent Valentines. Even that year, my boyfriend at the time had managed to pick a fight with me a week before and so we were on the outs that particular day.

Now working in a middle school I watch as the self esteem of the kids who don’t get any of the cookie grams or flowers or balloons or other things the kids do at school plummet like a rock tied to a gangster in a river.

I see them scramble to get a ” BF or GF” just so they don’t feel left out, or get teased for not having one.

I see the posts on facebook of the flowers and jewelry and other tokens of affection from sweethearts, and I want to beat them all with a wet noodle. Yes I am jealous who wouldn’t be?

Now of course if my new sweetheart remembers today and does in fact come through with a little something ( in classic female fashion I have done nothing to set the bar of expectation for him and am behaving in a passive aggressive manner about the whole thing) I will change my tune on a dime and post those dang pictures my ownself.

I will eat Valentines Crow cold with a pair of splintered chopsticks and love it. But until such time as I can do that, be kind to all the kids whose names fall short on the list of Valentines.

One of them could grow up to be your boss.

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My Favorite Holiday

Today is one of those rare Holidays when I actually get the day off of work. Now I like Holidays, but this one for some reason I have a special affinity for. I also have a personal pet peeve about it.

” What” I hear you say, “What kind of pet peeve could you possibly have about MLK day”?

That one …that right there…calling it MLK Day. Everything that man accomplished in his lifetime I think we should not be allowed to say his name without his well earned titles and honorifics. So to that end:

What are you doing today to celebrate the life work of The Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.?

Now as to why it is my favorite holiday:

I grew up in California in the 60’s and 70’s. I was unaware of segregation, and quite honestly when my mother told me about it I was perplexed and confused. It just didn’t make sense to me. After all people are people. It wasn’t until I was a full blown adult that I realized my mother did everything she knew how, to raise me without hate or prejudice. Thank you Mom!

The kids I work with today don’t ignore race the way we were taught. They embrace it and fling it at each other like mashed potatoes on a plastic spoon. Phrases that were considered racial slurs are now bandied about like ping pong balls.

I spent a couple of years correcting and chastising kids for this behavior until I saw that it was healthy. Yes once in a while someone does feel hurt but it is rare, and I do work on conflict resolution in those cases, but for the most part it is the result of the acceptance of our differences.

Kids are great at acceptance. I am not Black. I will never know what it feels like to be Black. I will never see the world from the viewpoint of a Black person. It is ridiculous to say that we are all the same. We are not. We are different. I am OK with that. I actually really like  having friends who are different from me. It is hella more interesting. With all my heart I wish the rest of the world could take a cue from these kids. I got em in all shapes, sizes and colors, every diverse differentiation of humanity possible.

The only time they are bad to some one is when that person is being a ” Douchebag”. They are very adept at letting a kid know that is the reason for the shunning. It is never because of Color ( or lack thereof for my melatonin challenged friends like myself ).
So Thank you Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King Jr. for making these relationships possible. I hope you can see that we have made progress. We aren’t there yet but this next generation just might get us the rest of the way.

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