Friday, March 17, 2017

March Madness 101

If you landed on this page because you googled "March Madness 101" -- please note - you might as well go away right now - you won't learn a single thing here. I hardly know what it is myself, so there is no way I can tell you anything worthwhile.

So why am I writing about it? Because I was trying to figure it out. I, too, googled "March Madness 101" and all it got me were tips on brackets. (Like I know how that works.) I also googled "How long is March Madness?" -- mainly trying to figure out how long I have to stay away from someone who loves March Madness - in order to let the certain someone enjoy the games. Turns out it is April 3. APRIL???? Aye aye aye.

I remember now. I have another close friend who loved March Madness. We used to hang out a lot all the time - except when March came along. Then, he was like, "leave me alone - I don't want to do anything or go anywhere" So I knew, every year, he was off limits through the month of March.

Ok - back to the current. April 3? That's so far away. Superbowl is only one Sunday. World Series is only two weeks. This thing is 3-weeks long!

I guess I should be thankful - afterall, World Cup runs for 32 days.

It's ok. I love baseball. Come October, I am the same way. Go away. Leave me alone. I've got a game to catch.

Friday, March 03, 2017

I See the Light

Disney songs - some of them - really move me. This is one of them.
For those of you who know me, for years and years and years, it has been just me and my three girls. Yes, we do a lot, and we travel a lot, and I love them, but something was always missing.
When I first saw Disney's "Tangled" with my baby Marisa - back in 2010 - I thought it was sweet. And when I first heard the song "I See the Light" - I loved it. But it made me sad. I knew what it was like to always be watching from a window. I knew what it was like to spend years "outside looking in" or in my case, "inside looking out." I knew what it was like to be lonely and to feel like my life was preordained. I was meant to care for others, not to have someone care for me. I knew I would never have more. At least, that's what I thought back then.

Fast forward to 2017 and the song is suddenly perfect for me. I love, love, love this song. All at once, everything is different. I thank God every day for my life now.

What does snow have to do with the song? It's just that I feel like I finally left the window. I'm finally outside - and I am loving every minute of it. In the photo I am not only blinking in the sunlight, I am blinking in the falling snow. This photo has happiness and love written all over it. I see the light now. It's warm and real and bright.

"I See The Light" - from Disney's "Tangled"

All those days watching from the windows
All those years outside looking in
All that time never even knowing
Just how blind I've been

Now I'm here, blinking in the starlight
Now I'm here, suddenly I see
Standing here, it's all so clear
I'm where I'm meant to be

And at last I see the light
And it's like the fog has lifted
And at last I see the light
And it's like the sky is new
And it's warm and real and bright
And the world has somehow shifted
All at once everything looks different
Now that I see you

All those days, chasing down a daydream
All those years, living in a blur
All that time, never truly seeing
Things the way they were
Now she's here, shining in the starlight
Now she's here, suddenly I know
If she's here, it's crystal clear
I'm where I'm meant to go

And at last I see the light
And it's like the fog has lifted
And at last I see the light
And it's like the sky is new
And it's warm and real and bright
And the world has somehow shifted
All at once everything looks different
Now that I see you
Now that I see you

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Stuck in Lodi Again - Amtrak Mishap 2017

"Driver needs assistance. ... I repeat, driver needs assistance!"

No, that was not our Amtrak conductor shouting out the above sentence. But it wouldn't surprise me if it had been. 

And no, that's not my train to the left -- and that is not what happened. But it's a cool photo, no? I actually covered that story back on Oct. 1, 2012. 

Ok - sorry - back to the Amtrak mishap of February 2017.

Let me take you back to the beginning......

Wednesday, Feb. 22, 2017
After getting snowed-in and having to spend two extra (and amazingly wonderful) days in Carson City, the adventure began. It actually started with getting kicked out of Harrah's (but that's a whole other story) before I finally boarded a bus to take me from Reno, Nevada to Sacramento, California. 

But traffic was slow. Donner Pass had been closed for two days resulting in numerous vehicles slowly serpentining their way up the hills and through the mountain. And by the time I got to Sacramento, I had to run to catch my train connection. I barely made it - with only a couple of minutes to spare. Before I could find a seat, the train was already moving. Fortunately, I found one solo seat all by itself just outside the dining car. I settled in and shortly after - less than an hour - was when the fun began.

I heard a high-piercing shrieking, metal-scraping sound, almost as bad as nails on a chalkboard, followed by a strong, forward thrust that threw me into the seat in front of me. Luckily the seat in front served as a cushion for my head to hit. It was ugly and scary. I was actually texting my love at the time and I quickly sent another text:

"Train came to a screeching halt, throwing everyone around."

The conductor then came on the intercom and told us that someone had placed a lot of debris on the tracks and they would have to clear it before we could continue. As he talked, the lights began to flicker. Then the power and the sound went out and we were left in the dark - figuratively and literally. A few seconds later, little glowing lights lit the floor. The conductor was going through the cars telling everyone to stay in their seats. One worker going by told me it was large pieces of metal - large debri items - and that it appeared someone was trying to derail the train.

Stuck in Lodi again
A quick glance at my cell phone told me I was in Lodi - or about a mile from the Lodi station. The sun was setting and we were in the middle of flooded fields. I remember thinking, "There is no way we can walk across those fields to get to the road." There were a lot of babies (I could hear them crying) and a lot of elderly - and we even had a blind man with his seeing-eye dog.

That was just the beginning. They told us one of the tanks was leaking gasoline. I have videos of the announcements but can't seem to get them uploaded here, so I am including the link below: (to listen, first start it, then  unclick the "x" on the volume control situated at the bottom, right hand corner of the video.)

We finally inched our way to the Lodi station one mile away and then waited more than an hour for buses to arrive for us. When they did - the fun continued.

I kid you not, our bus broke down one block from the station. Or, at least, the driver thought it had - but it turned out she was in the wrong gear. She said she normally doesn't drive those buses and she was "new" at it.  She got on the intercom and started yelling "Driver needs assistance. I repeat, driver needs assistance."

While on the freeway, we came close to getting hit by two drivers speeding - or chasing each other - in what appeared to be road rage or some other horrible thing. It was bad.

Then our driver got lost getting to Stockton. She ended up going through a neighborhood with narrow streets and she had trouble maneuvering the turns and almost hit a parked car..... in fact, she may have brushed one. It was kind of hilarious. All the passengers kept looking at each other in disbelief and asking "Is she for real?"

When we finally made it to the Stockton station - which was abandoned at that late hour - the driver simply pulled up on the side of the road next to the station, facing the tracks. I was already paranoid that we were too close to the tracks but she wanted to leave room for a second bus to park behind us. That second bus turned into the station. (They had a good driver.)

Our driver jumps out but forgets to put the bus in park. She left it in gear....and the bus started rolling towards the tracks. She jumped back on just in time to slam on the brakes and back up. I have a big phobia of railroad crossings (not trains) so I was ready to jump out of the moving bus.

I finally made it home after 1 a.m.
Yes - it was quite the adventure.

Saturday, January 07, 2017

The Problem with Moving

In the past, I've had a problem with going through stored belongings. In other words, it would take me a long time to sift through my things. And by things - I am referring to paperwork and other stuff which I have no idea why it was not thrown out in the first place. Thing is - before I could throw it away, I wanted to sift through it. All of it. Until recently.

Now I am moving  and I am finding it easier and easier to just throw out stuff. Suddenly, I just don't care. I just want to finish moving. I don't care as much. I'm careful with things I am sentimental over, but everything else.....out it goes!

(Family: I said MY STUFF - I know some of you have accused me of throwing out mom's things, but I am specifically talking about my own stuff at my own home. I have not gone through mom's things yet.)

It's been interesting. I found like 12 bottles of White Linen (my signature perfume since graduating from high school) saved. For the most part they were empty except for a tiny bit of the scented concoction at the bottom of the bottle. I took a deep breath and threw them away. Then I had a change of heart and took out two of the thrown bottles and kept them - lol - because, well, they had more than "just a little bit" of perfume at the bottom of the bottle. Maybe I can figure out how to extract it. I actually went to Macys once to complain about not being able to take out or use the last of the perfume. I mean, why should I buy another bottle if I can make one full bottle by combining all the "left behind" perfume.

I must also have at least 50 bank boxes of papers - newspapers, kids' school papers, receipts, etc. But for some reason, I feel like I need to go through all of them before tossing them out. Unfortunately, many of them need to be shredded, so it's not as easy to throw those away.

Recently, (about three months now) I started watching "The Big Bang Theory" and love the show. (It's just silly. Plus I have actually learned a few things.) A few days ago, I watched the episode where Sheldon has Amy, his "girlfriend," drive him to a storage unit where he confesses to her he has a problem with throwing things out -- the unit has everything he has ever owned since he was born.

Ok, I'm not that bad - but I do have a lot of unnecessary stuff. I still have my college pom poms and megaphone, the newspapers bearing my first printed stories (Arrowhead Newspaper) and who knows what else.

I did pretty good when I started cleaning - getting a lot accomplished each day. Things have slowed down a bit - but just a bit. Suddenly, knowing what the final goal is, it's easier to throw out things.


"My world is changing, I'm rearranging.....I'm not the same one....see what the time's done...."

Wednesday, January 04, 2017

My world is changing.....I'm rearranging

Wow - it has been a long time since I've written anything on this blog. Unbelievable! I blame facebook.

I found my blog site again recently and started browsing around -- I honestly can't imagine how I managed my time back then ..... I did so much compared to today.
Thinking specifically of 2005-2008.  Unbelievable.

Well, to catch you up ...... I am still writing, but only for one newspaper. I shattered my arm a couple of years ago playing dodgeball and it required surgery. I never went back full time. I work weekends, holidays and special assignments.

My momma died a few months ago and it's been difficult for me. I rarely left her side for the last six months of her life, and was there till the end when she entered Hospice the final two months.
I now care for my handicapped sister - and it's quite challenging...

My three girls are doing great. One graduated from UC Santa Barbara, the other from UCLA. My Down Syndrome little girl almost died last year from Stephen Johnson Syndrome (I'll have to write about it) but is doing awesome now. She attends a special adult program which focuses on the arts and theater, and recently had a lead role in the Creative Center's "Christmas Carol."

Lots of changes recently but I won't get into any of that.

For now, I'll just quote these lines from "Where are you Christmas?"

"My world is changing, I'm rearranging......I'm not the same one....see what the time's done....."

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Jamaica 2015

Ever since I can remember, I have wanted to visit Jamaica. I knew I would go someday. That's how I am. If I want something bad enough, I make it happen. So I did. It just took a little longer to do so because I kept finding other places to visit and I kept putting Jamaica on a back burner. Until this year. And - it was everything I always dreamed it would be, plus more.

For one thing, there was a hurricane constantly in the horizon - Hello Danny! Hurricane Danny, that is.... but Carnival is so good at what it does, it managed to constantly stay ahead of it.

They just flipped our itinerary - starting with the furthest away (and closest to hurricane) port and working their way back - and away from the hurricane.

Anyway - Jamaica-- what I really wanted to see - and experience - were the waterfalls in Ocho Rios. I heard there were hundreds (ok, maybe dozens) of them along the mile-long river climb.

For as long as I can remember, I have wanted to do this. Now I can cross it off my list. Jamaica was amazing. We hiked all the way down to the beach and then climbed 1,000 feet up through the river. And I did it! I did the entire climb. I am very proud of that.Unbelieveable. Dunns River Falls was amazing. But there was so much more.

I love watching track and field events (really almost all events) in the Olympics -- and Usain Bolt is one person who Jamaica is proud of, and rightfully so. We drove past William Knibb Memorial High School in Falmouth on our way to Ocho Rios. The bus guide talked quite a bit about the "fastest man in the world" belonging to Jamaica. It was very interesting hearing and learning all about him.

August 2015

I'll return soon to tell you all about my day.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

525,600 minutes - The Quarterback

525,600 minutes...... how do you measure, measure a year?

"In daylights, in sunsets, in midnights, in cups of coffee. In inches, in miles, in laughter, in strife... In 525,600 minutes - how do you measure a year in the life? .... How about love? How about love? How about love? Measure in love. Seasons of love......... 525,600 minutes - how can you measure the life of a woman or man?"
(above lyrics are incomplete)

July 13, 2013 was an extremely painful day. It was the day Marisa cried uncontrollably after learning her favorite actor, one she had a huge crush on, and one whose sweet face could be seen on numerous posters across her bedroom walls, had died.That night, we all cried. I love Glee and I loved Finn too. The girls - Catherine and Jennifer - also cried. But no one cried more than Marisa.

"Why? Why?," she sobbed loudly and uncontrollably, to the point of falling down."I love him. I love him with all my heart."

It was painful to watch. All I could do was hold her. We cried together.
What do you say to something like that? Especially since the cause of death was a drug overdose. There was no consoling her.
Finally she looked up and said, "At least Finn didn't die. Just Cory." She was serious too.

Did she really not know the difference? Did she really not know it was the same person? Or was this her way of coping?

Tonight, Glee honored his memory with "The Quarterback" -- a heart-wrenching episode honoring his memory and one that helped Marisa, myself, and fans, with closure. The opening number "525,600 minutes" was touching.

How do you measure a life?

In one of my favorite books - The Fault in Our Stars - which I read recently, is a line I love: "Some infinities are bigger than other infinities."

Why couldn't Cory's life be one of the "bigger" infinities?

Suddenly, I am thinking of another life cut short. One of someone who was very special to me. One of a person I loved with all my heart -- my brother in law, Albert, who died in 2003. Oh, how I wish he had one of the latter infinities.

Albert and I were close. Very close. After I was left alone as a single mother with three small children, ages 1, 3 and 10, he became one of my best friends. A "free spirit" who came and went, he lived with me off and on for years and was always there for me - as a brother, nothing more. Nothing inappropriate.

An artist - Albert painted our windows - a Winnie the Pooh for Jennifer, Hello Kitty for Catherine, Brian from the Backstreet Boys for Marisa, and a white background with yellow butterflies for my bedroom window. I could never wash those windows and to this day, they still have the artwork on them.

My home's front windows still have a snow scene and snowman on a sled, little critters pulling him, on one window; and Bambi playing in a snowy meadow (that spring he added green grass to it) on another window.

When the girls said they wanted a tree house, he built them one in my grapefruit tree. I have climbed it many times over the years.

Albert was also my faithful, frequent companion to Oaks baseball games. Once, when I was without a car, he gave us rides to the game -- on his bicycle. First he took Catherine and Jennifer - Catherine sitting on the handlebars and Jennifer on his knee, one arm around her tiny body. I still am not sure how he steered the bike with just one hand. He dropped them off at the main gate, making sure they were all inside with baseball friends. He returned for Marisa and took her sitting on the handlebars. We only live down the street, so by the time he returned for me, I was almost there and we just walked the last few feet.

When I mentioned I wanted a baseball jersey I had bid on and won signed by the player who wore it, Albert took the jersey from me, snuck into the clubhouse (we were not even at a home game - we were in Bakersfield) and returned with it autographed. "Here you go," he said.

And I will always remember the night he confessed, "I think I am in love with Chatter." -- technically, it was not the mascot he loved, but the girl who wore the outfit. Heart warming memories.

In the fall, it was all about football - his main passion. It was Albert I caught Monday Night football games with on big screens while eating $1 tacos at the Lamp Liter Inn, or while enjoying sandwiches at The Depot.

He would take me dancing on Saturday nights to The Depot and bought me my first margarita.

He knew I loved Harrison Ford, so he accompanied me to the movies once -- even though, he admitted, "Six Days, Seven Nights" was not his type of movie and he would much rather be watching "Star Wars", which was on another screen. "You want to see it. That's all that matters."

Albert would occasionally babysit for me so that I could go with my friend Dennis to catch Porterville College basketball games. When the team made it to some championship-type games (can't remember what exactly - either Elite Eight or Final Four Championship - kind of games, it was Albert who drew on big white sheets - which I took to the games in Irvine (he also did it for me to take to Reedley and one for a COS game.) I remember also making it to Sacramento for a game but don't believe I took a sheet.

When Marisa graduated, he did the same thing for her..... drawing Marisa's image, with cap and gown, on a large sheet. He was an amazing artist.

Why couldn't Albert have more infinity minutes?

"You get me through Christmas, and I'll get you through New Year's," he would tell me each year.

He hated Christmas. I hated New Years. But that's a whole other story and I'm not going there tonight.

"Listen," he told me once, cupping my chin in his hand and forcing my tear-streaked face up so that I could see his face. "It may not be this year. It may not be next year. But one day -- maybe in December, maybe on New Years Day -- something wonderful is going to happen to you. You will know the moment it happens. And you are going to remember this day. You are going to remember me telling you this. "

Oh Albert, why did you have to go? You were too young. I miss you. I need you - and not just on New Year's Day. 525,600 minutes. Where are you? I want more minutes.