Wednesday, February 20, 2008


This picture hangs in my hallway. The big guy purchased it for me years ago on one of our trips to San Francisco. The artist is Robert Sexton. You can usually catch an ad of his in the back of Sunset Magazine. His pictures speak to me. I love stippling as an art form. One little dot in the wrong place and you goof it up. That is why I appreciate it so much.

This picture reminds me of my 4 year old self, and my almost five year old brother. The sentiment on the photo reads: "We will always be children in the time of the heart; For trust never ages, and love has no end." It is like Mr. Sexton found a photo of us when we were out riding bikes one day and turned it into a sale-able piece just for us. It is a lithograph of which I own number 416 of 600. I wonder who else owns this picture and what meaning it has for them. Hmmm. That might be an interesting project.

Friday, February 01, 2008

Fourth grade

When I was in the fourth grade I had been a skater for probably 3 years. Skates were something that came naturally to our family. Mom was a champion skater from way back so when we learned to walk, the skates were next. In those days skates had metal wheels. Yeah, those were fun, hit a rock and it was over. The skates attached to your shoes with leather straps and there was an adjustment knob on the front to tighten the up. Sort of a one size fits all skate.

Well, after you've skated up and down your street 50,000 times or so, you begin to get a little brave and do stuff that most people don't do on skates. Like walk down to Laurel street and dare each other to skate down the hill, remembering of course, that you have to catch the stop sign at the bottom because if you don't it could be goners for you from traffic.Yeah that's how the brother and I had fun. It was a blast, in fact last week I rode down Laurel street and it all came flooding back. Ah sweet memories.

After a 1000 or so trips down Laurel street and no deaths, we were ready to ramp it up a bit and decided to try something new. Mom was going to kill us. We found some old 2x4s and a saw and decided to invent a new way to "skate" we broke the wheels off the skates and nailed them to the 2x4. Yep we did. A 2x4 skateboard. Of course we don't have pictures of the best skateboard ever, because back then who thought to document an invention?

Well, it was the prize of the neighborhood! Suddenly everyone was doing it and boy were we having fun. It was near impossible to steer and would not corner at all, but it was the best. You could use it regular, or sit on it and Laurel street would never be the same. I found out I was a goofy footer and that was okay, it separated me from the boys and I really thought I had better control over it that way. Goofy footer? For the uninitiated, that mean my left foot was the prominent foot used while skate boarding. (and surfboarding too)

Good times. good memories. Then when I saw this video this morning I thought to myself how far skateboarding has come. And for all those guys, making a living skateboarding? You owe all us kids from the early 60s a debt of gratitude!

Go watch it. It is 5 minutes, but take the five minutes and enjoy it!

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Picture Day

Oh man I wish just wish I had the picture that goes with this story. It is great to look at it (I haven't actually seen the pic since I left home). I can see it in my minds eye. A smallish dark haired dark eyed young lad. He was six. He was the man of the house now. He was trying to fit in. Even at such a young age he knew he was different from the other kids. Most of them had moms present at picture day, helping the school photographer, make their child look better than usual. No smudgy faces for them! Smiles all! They even had a universal comb that they would use to straighten you up for fear that you wouldn't look your best.

So in an attempt to individuate a bit, into the new role as "man of the house" my brother pulled a fast one. I didn't see it, until the prints arrived a month later, but I held his secret close to my heart for that whole month. He came speeding up to me after school that day. Breathless, as if he'd run a 5k, he told me he had to tell me what picture would arrive soon.

You see, there was this kid in his class. A tough guy, you know the kind, already 4 and half feet tall in the first grade, no fear in sight, and the coolness of Steve McQueen. He had one flaw, this tall, giant of a boy, also had , what we called back then, bucked teeth. It meant they protruded forward in his mouth and only added to the "cool" factor in my brother's eyes. One thing my brother did receive in life, was picture perfect teeth. Wonderful pearls of white, straight in a row as if they'd been string by the most perfect of pearl stringers, ready to be draped around a stralets neck. It was another of those things that made him different. Perfect teeth, go figure.

Well, he confided his darkest secret. For his picture, because there was no one to supervise his his decisions on this very day, he chose to attempt to look as if he too, had bucked teeth. I died. What????!!? What were you thinking? This was my first day of having pictures taken and I sat there like the little robot I was and smiled on command without thinking I could do anything but smile. Here was my brother, the rebel, stepping out into the darkness of individuality to become someone else. I could only imagine how horrible this picture would be. "Let me see what you did". "Show me". He would pose and I would just stare. Could it be that he would be defiant? How could he be defiant. Mother was all but there at all times. I could feel her long arm and stern voice at every step. How could he not? It was a mystery to me.

In the long month of waiting he would recreate that silly look each day as we walked home. We would giggle and laugh as we knew he had pulled a fast one on everyone present that day. The proof would arrive soon and then the price would have to be paid.

The day finally arrived. He quickly ran to me, quivering with excitement, as we each opened our envelopes to see the results of our pictures. Mine was a little pixie of a girl smiling wide, two front teeth missing. His on the other hand, was this smallish framed young lad, in a red shirt proudly smiling with this goofy grin. No teeth showing at all. It was as if the gods were against him. His mouth was pinched up a bit. Mother complained that they should have waited until he was ready for the picture, he was obviously half ready to smile! We knew then he had pulled it off. Not that anyone would ever think by looking at the photo that he had bucked teeth, only that he had full control of his fate. He could actually do what he wished, he could be in charge of himself, and bear the consequences, no matter what.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Australia 1973 - 1975

My brother stepped off the plane in March of 1975. He was thin as a rail. He had been in the Queensland Brisbane Mission for two years. Many of the people who invited them for dinner thought they'd share an aussie favorite at the time. Fried rabbit. Unfortunately, for my brother,
he is allergic to rabbit. However, instead of offending the gracious hostess, he would eat and then go home and be sick. He was rail thin. I think a few of you have seen the pics of his return. It was amazing to see him so slight.

The first words he spoke other than the usual greetings were: "I will greet this day with love in my heart. And how will I do this? Henceforth will I look on all things with love and be born again. I will love the sun for it warms my bones; yet I will love the rain for it cleanses my spirit. I will love the light for it shows me the way; yet I will love the darkness for it shows me the stars. I will welcome happiness as it enlarges my heart; yet I will endure sadness for it opens my soul. I will acknowledge rewards for they are my due; yet I will welcome obstacles for they are my challenge."

It was not strange at all to here him speak a memorized text. It was a talent of his. Read it, hear it, memorize and perform it. But this was different, it was as if he had been transformed by the words. He spoke of the man, Og Mandingo, who wrote this passage, with passion. He was filled with light and love and was very glad to be in the present. I am not sure how much he had the angst of an RM. He seemed to acclimate quickly and well. He recited the words often, speaking of zone conferences and the love of Australia. It was a difficult mission. Typically poor, he money rarely present in his account as promised. He struggled each day to keep positive. However, he enjoyed the experience even with all the combined struggles.

I feel bad though, I wrote him I think, all of twice while he was gone. I had moved away from home, was living on my own, and financially struggling as well. But it was a great time in each of our lives. We both grew and when he returned it was wonderful to see him again. You see, I had postponed my own wedding to wait for him to return. I could not, in good conscience, get married without him. He was my second. He had to be there, so we had a long 15 month engagement. aaack.

I loved that quote he brought home with him. I can still here him reciting it. Whenever I here the words, it takes me back to the day of his return. As always, uplifting us with his words. With and ever so slight accent, a g'day mate, and those bright eyes filled with joy, he had returned once again to me. My best friend. It was good to hear him laugh.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Random memories

I remember learning that my brother was who I could count on. (Except one day in the first grade, where I told my mom, my brother, and my babysitter I was going to a friends after school. After playing, I was walking home, and halfway home I was met by the babysitter who yelled at me and asked where I had been. I tried to remind her that I had said I was going to a friends house, but all I heard was that the police were looking for me, and no one knew where I was. Boy oh boy. Not even the brother would admit I had told anyone.) But that's another story, for another day. While you read these memories, keep in mind he was the only guy in a sea of girls. He lived in a petticoat world and seldom, complained. He yearned for more, I could tell.

Other than that, he could always be counted on. I have a very distant memory where we learned all we had was each other. Very slight memory of my grandfather, my mother and my father outside arguing. Of course they were outside, isn't that where all domestic disputes happen? I remember my dad hitting my granpa, my grandfather collapsing, and an ambulance being called. I am not sure if he had a heart attack or was just stunned. My dad split and my mom began the slow descent into helplessness.

From the time I was about 5 I remember my brother being named "man of the house". What a horrible thing to happen to a 6 year old. He took on the weight of the world and became they guy to go to. The grandparents had decided that my mom had made poor choices and would no longer bail her out from the consequences of her choices. We began the nomadic years. We moved every 6 to 8 months for one reason or another until I was 15 years old.

It was hard on my brother. He took his responsibility very seriously. He would get us up, make sure we had something to eat, make sure we were all dressed, and off to school we'd go. Remember we also had the little girls, my sisters 1 1/2 and 3 years younger than us. They would stay with Sophie, a young girl who had problems of her own, who stayed with us because she had no where else to go. She was 18 and had moved out of her parents home and come to live with us. It wasn't until I was about 10 that Sophie married a marine and went her separate way. We haven't seen her since. I don't even know her last name.

Well back to the brother. He had such a sense of responsibility toward all of us. He had a few friends but made it clear to them that we had to come first. Everywhere we lived. Can you imagine being 6 or 7 and suddenly have to make new friends for yourself and siblings, be the responsible one of all of them, and then keep up in school, explain to adults who we were and why we travelled in a pack, and always be told he was too young to handle such responsibilities. "Well, of course, I am he would say, but that's the way it is. I am in charge and you have to go through me to get any farther."

I think the hardest part was having to put his "station" on the shelf when the random guy my mom would date would come along. They'd pat him on the head and call him big guy making all those sideways chuckling comments. It angered him, as well as me, to be treated like a kid. They would come and go and you could visibly see him inflate and deflate and the sight of the new boyfriends. All this, and he never backed away from the responsibility to keep us safe.

Our mom finally married a guy when I was 12. They got married, he shipped out to Okinawa, and was gone for two years. Again my brother had to assume responsibility for the household. It was at this time we joined the church. It was hard for him. We were the only family that were like us. He struggled to fit in and most of the time he was not accepted and became the joke they all had fun with. It was sad to see him struggle. That's why when he talks about the high school years there is not much talk of church friends. They were mean, and his regular friends didn't make the judgements that came from church members.

All in all he found his way. He was the man of our house. He grew up, took his "job" seriously and made sure that we had our needs met. I admire him and will never ever be able to repay him for the contribution he made to all of us. The sacrifices he made seen and unseen were great. I will always be grateful he was my big brother.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Reading, reading and more reading

I cannot remember a time that the boy didn't have a book in his hand. I think I already mentioned the medical books we read as children. They were my mothers' from nursing school. He taught himself to read at three and my mom discovered it because he asked her what a fallow-pean (his pronounciation at three) tube was? She asked him where he got that word and he responded in the book. Which book, this one. It was on human anatomy.

That was just the beginning. He read everything. If it wasn't nailed down, he was reading it. I remember going through the Dick and Jane books in a couple of afternoons with him. He read encyclopedias! Comic books. Everything. And then he discovered those awful books. Those ones that boys read. Not those kind! Come on! This is not a full disclosure blog. Sorry. to mislead your imagination. The book/magazine I'm talking about was MAD magazine. He was hooked on them. I swear he could repeat every passage. Spy vs Spy. Those fold-ins! The back cover would be folded over itself to reveal this months message. Then there was the ever challenging Don Martin. I swear Mr. Martin contributed more sound effects to the ever growing vocal library that was my brother. Glork! Gloop, gloop, gloop. etc. He and his friend Steve would race to the Red and White to pick up the latest copy and they would spend the better part of a day laughing and joking about that silly magazine.

It was the beginning of the division between he and I . I had Seventeen and he had MAD. I knew guys were wierd and he confirmed it with reading that magazine. However, there were times, when I would pick up a copy to see what was so intriguing between the pages. Some was funny, other stuff just dumb. Kind of like the Three Stooges. Now don't get me started on them!

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Christmas Past

Christmas was always a fun place as my brother and I grew up. Even in a house filled with chaos, my mother seemed to be able to pull all her resources together and do Christmas correctly. We would pile around the tree on Christmas morning, read the chapters in Luke and discuss the Christmas story. We would then sing happy birthday to Jesus. We did that for several years. Then each of us had to perform, share our talent was the way mom put it. My brother would always sing, or tell a joke or two.

My best memory as a tiny girl was the christmas on C street in San Diego. Mom was working p.m.s meaning she went to work at about 2:30 in the afternoon and then get off at midnight. She insisted the we not arise for the hullabaloo that was Christmas morning until 6 a.m. Her instructions were implicit. Well, brother and I woked up (we really never ever went to sleep) at 4 a.m. We tried to convince her to get up and she said she had made a rule and we would go back to bed until 6!

Silly her. We did not go back to bed. However, as each of us didn't want to spoil surpises, we did not go to the living room. No way, were we going to take that simple pleasure from her. So instead we went into the bathroom, armed with the clock from our room, and waited until 6 a.m. We giggled and chuckled together for two hours. He told me great stories of being a big third grader, how he looked forward to being able to be a crossing guard the next school year. He joked with me about the boy that chased me home every day. I thought it was creepy and he just laughed.

Then all of a sudden whamo bammo! It was six a.m.! We ran and roused the little girls ( my younger sisters were always referred to as the little girls) and then went screaming (literally) into our mother's room. Startled by the screaming she jumped and then reality hit her. It was 6 a.m. She resigned herself to her fate and got up asking that we wait for a minute until she called us in. We all waited in anticipation. It was sheer delight. She called us forth and we marched in like little soldiers to see what Santa had left. It had been a good year. A Vacu-form and a creepy crawler set for the brother. Actually the vacuform was for the family. Then a pile of barbies and clothes there for me. The little girls got items appropriate for them but I have no idea what exactly they received. My mountain of clothers were great.

We wasted no time in breaking out the creepy crawler set. It was amazingly cool. You could make spiders and bigs and worms! The brother was in Heaven.