Saturday, May 27, 2006

Special Olympics

Once again, 1,000 athletes -- in all shapes and sizes -- will come together for one of the most touching and amazing athletic events in Northern California -- Special Olympics!

I love it!

This year the event will be held on the UC Berkeley campus, near San Francisco. Opening ceremonies are Friday, June 9th. And I am lucky enough, not only to attend, but to be covering the event for The Fresno Bee. (I will be focusing on Central Valley athletes.)

If anyone from Northern California is anywhere near the area, especially if you have never attended such an event -- I highly recommend it. (Or maybe there is a similar event in your state.)

These children and adults will touch your heart as they enter the stadium. Some come in wheelchairs, others with walkers, others are blind or missing limbs -- but most of them will wear the biggest smile you have ever seen.

Last year the Northern California Special Olympics were held in Stockton at the beautiful, newly built Stockton Ports Baseball Stadium. I was very lucky. The seat I sat in, next to an aisle, was the one where the Olympic Flame came down on - I could not believe my eyes.

The flame had come from Southern California (San Diego, I think) and carried by an officer of the law. The Police, Highway Patrols, Sheriff officers, etc -- passed the torch to each other and ran this torch up and down the state, hitting every county represented in the Special Olympics.

My daughter is quite excited. This will be her first time participating as an athlete. She did win three gold medals at County last year, but she still didn't make it to State (they are so limited as to how many people can attend so not everyone who qualifies can go.) The young man that lives with us did go last year. (He was the one carrying the torch into the County olympics this year)
This year, Michael is sad that he wasn't chosen to participate. But I told him, he had his glory there last year, this year Marisa will go.

Saturday's events are a must-see. The determination of some is amazing. Yes, some of them are great athletes. But, then there are others -- and it so sweet! You might see an athlete fall and all of the other athletes will run to that person's rescue. You might see an athlete stop his/her race to encourage another athlete who has given up along the way. They don't care about the gold, they care about each other. These are the real winners.

Last year, one athlete won two golds and a bronze medal. He traded one of his gold for another athlete's silver because he wanted "one of each."

One thing is certain at Special Olympics -- everyone wins -- athletes and spectators!

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Ridiculous Riddle

How many Agents does it take to ruin the day for thousands of writers overnight? Just one -- if it is Barbara Bauer, an agent listed as one of the top 20 Worst Agents.

Yesterday was a frustrating day. A site I frequent daily,, was offline.
Today I discovered what happened.

Apparently Ms.Bauer was not happy with her inclusion in the Writer's Beware 20 Worst Agencies List -- a list that was also posted on the Absolute Write site. So what did she do? She called up the hosting company for the web and asked that our AW board be shut down.

I do not know what exactly transcribed or why the host felt compeled to oblige her but the final outcome was -- they panicked and we were shut down, leaving hundreds - no, thousands of AW members frustrated and without a place to congregate.

You can read the entire story here on Matt's site.

Now, AWers and bloggers across the world have joined in one accord to spread the word.

Barbara Bauer

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Santa Barbara & Spumoni's

I desperately needed a break, so this past weekend, I decided to get away and take a last minute trip to Santa Barbara to see some of James family that had flown in from Oregon for a graduation. My two younger daughters went with me. (James never goes to any of his family outings - so I usually try to go and take the children with me.)

It was great. We had so much fun. We went to the Santa Barbara Museum of Art and then walked around, eating ice cream and browsing through down town shops.
A big storm came in and we literally got soaked as we walked the 12 blocks back to the parking garage. It was a little cold but we had such fun and laughed so much.

Sunday night we all had dinner at Spumoni's -- an Italian restaurant with the most delicious food. (Ok, when it comes to Chicken Picatta, Little Italy of Visalia is still better.)

We had a group of 10 and it was late by the time we arrived -- past 9 p.m. but they were happy to seat us and they were so friendly and gave us the best service.

The owner was very helpful and even brought some free wine, appetizers and chocolate cake and some other Italian desserts for us! (We did all buy main courses and we paid for some of the appetizers -- but they brought us so much more!)

When we left, we had complimented them on some of their bread and they gave us a basketful to take with us!

I will never forget that place and if I'm ever in Camarillo again, I'm definitely going there!

I'm glad I decided to go. I had originally told them I couldn't make it but after last Thursday, I just really needed to get away. I really needed this trip.

Back home update:
My mama is still quite upset with me over the car thing but she's being polite now, which is great. I spent the last four days in partial agony over everything that happened last week.

My mama had a doctor's appt. again today. Her MRI was as normal as expected for her age and the doctor said he feels she has been reacting to the medications that she is on - which are plenty of them. This morning he removed a couple of them and we will see if that might help. She does not remember a lot of things that happened recently, including climbing up the tree house. I'm hoping to see a big difference because for now, she still won't come home with me. That means I need to keep traveling to Porterville daily to see her. I told her I'll return this afternoon and make her some enchiladas for dinner. She liked that.

Thanks again for those of you who have emailed and/or posted kind comments here. It has meant a lot to me. It has been a rough week but I think we'll pull through.

Friday, May 19, 2006


I wrote this in 1995 ... true story.

I could feel my heart pounding as I leaned on the window. I could almost see the Atlantic Ocean below. But
that was impossible – we were flying at 27,000 feet, too high up to see any ocean.

I closed my eyes again. Everyone on the plane appeared to be sleeping or reading.

My mind raced as fast as my heart. How long had it been since I first called the travel agent?
I couldn't help but smile as I nestled back in my seat, one hand touching my seatbelt for safety confirmation.
I could see it all now. I could see him now. He would be waiting for me at the airport, with his boyish, dimpled grin and tossled hair, a light touch of gray at the temples.
I sighed as I made myself comfortable. I had asked for a window seat, near the wing. There was a slight obstruction to my view, but it was well worth the piece of mind that it provided. Planes were always stronger near the center of the fuselage. I longed to remove my shoes but I wouldn't dare. It just wasn't safe.
And safe, I was. Always safe. Always doing the right thing.
So I dressed carefully for the flight -- heavy jeans, long sleeve cotton shirt, short leather boots and my driving gloves close at hand, just in case. If I was going to fly for hours in a jet, I was going to be appropriately dressed -- just in case we needed to make an emergency landing.
I closed my eyes again and thought back twelve months. One year. Was that all? So much had changed....
It had been a beautiful February work day. I had been running the office for almost 10 years. I enjoyed working with my colleague, Louis. He was a lot like me. When it came to business, we thought alike and took our work very serious. We rarely took a day off.
I ran the office, the phone lines, and the computer. Louis did most of the leg work, from agency presentations to completing the necessary physical exams. We had three others working for us, but none with the same dedication or enthusiasm.
I stared at the reflection on the screen. Brown hair, brown eyes, and a beautiful smile looked back at me -- very nice looking for a 30-something year old mother of three.
It was Friday and time for lunch. I poured myself a cup of coffee and went back to my computer. Exiting all other programs, I logged on to Compuserve and settled into my favorite forum – the Netherlands forum.
I went there often trying to locate my friend, Dinant, who recently moved to Amsterdam.
The Netherlands forum was always full at noon. My lunch hour meant that it was 9 p.m. in Holland, a perfect time to find a room full of people to chat with. I became intrigued by the Dutch and soon became a regular, making several friends – and one very special friend – along the way.
It was there that I met Eddy, and a true friendship soon blossomed. Eddy was a sweet boy and a good friend but nothing more.
Hans was a different story. Hans made my heart skip.
I met Hans in late February and by March I was quite attracted to his persona on screen. It appeared to be a mutual feeling. By April, I was totally smitten by this man with a little boy's grin. He was almost too good to be true. Hans was 40, spoke 5 languages, had blonde hair, blue eyes, and worked as a financial lawyer for Her Majesty at The Hague.
Hans was mature and self confident -- a hard working man who had also written a musical. He seemed genuinely interested in everything I had to say. Everything I knew about him mesmerized me -- from his cologne, he wore Hugo Boss, to his hobbies and sports – he fenced. I had never met anyone who fenced before. It all seemed like a fairytale dream.
Hans made me laugh. I had not been that happy in years. I could not wait to meet him in real life. I longed to touch his face and run my fingers through his hair. His touch of gray was appealing. It made him appear distinctive and sexy. I couldn't get him out of my mind -- or the thought of visiting him someday.
That is when I decided to do it. I always wanted to go to Holland anyway. But, the trip's main reason would be to see Hans. If I didn't see any sights nor did anything else, it didn't matter. All that mattered was that I meet this one man, say hello in person, and spend a few days talking and laughing with him – in person.
Hans was very excited and couldn’t believe that I would fly half way across the world to see him.
I sighed as I made myself more comfortable in my seat. I didn't mind the long hours on the jet. Not really. It gave me time to think. I glanced around, I could start a conversation with the man in the seat next to me, but I didn't want to. I closed my eyes, leaned back, and a small smile appeared on my face as I got back to my deep thoughts. I could still remember the day that I received my ticket ....
I ordered a last-minute online bargain ticket to Amsterdam and finally packed my suitcase a week before departure. I was ready.
I knew Hans and I would have fun, regardless of whether or not any romantic sparks ignited between the two of us in real life.
And then it happened. My estranged husband suddenly seemed upset. We had been separated for three years but never officially divorced. He knew about the trip and had appeared understanding and supportive. He had agreed to keep the children while I was gone. I still remember his hurt face as he handed me an envelope.
"Federal Express came by while I was here picking up some things," he said, "Here's your tickets".
I was so excited. One ticket to Amsterdam! I held it in my hand. It was too good to be true. Suddenly the trip sounded so very real but James looked hurt.
"You're really going?" he asked softly.
I sat on the edge of the bed, staring at my suitcase.
"Yes. You knew I was.”
"But I didn't really think you'd leave.”
I saw his pain. It was the same look, the same pain, that I myself had felt three years earlier when he packed his belongings, told me that he was in love with someone else and walked out the door, leaving my life totally crushed on New Year’s Day.
"I really didn't think you were going...." he cried openly, tears running down his cheeks.
I had rarely seen him cry -- maybe once or twice in our 12 years of marriage – and it moved me to tears. I felt so torn. My heart was telling me to go but I couldn't bear to hurt this man. I felt torn. We had three little girls together. I felt I still owed him something, regardless of what he had done to me. Regardless of how he had hurt me.
And what would I tell Hans? He was expecting me.
"Please don't go, " James was almost begging of me now, "I do love you."
I looked at him through tears. I had waited three years to hear those words, but now, it was too late - though, legally, I was still his wife.
I took a deep breath and with all the courage I had, I whispered: "I'm sorry. I have to go.”
"Please fasten your seatbelts and make sure that your seats are in an upright position,” I heard in the distance, bringing me back to the present.
I smiled at the people around me and glanced out the window. I saw the runway approaching as I anxiously awaited the jet to successfully touch down.
I sighed with relief; I was safe on the ground once more. Soon I would be getting off the plane. My eyes started stinging.
Was I doing the right thing? Was it alright sometimes to follow your heart?
Why, oh why, did I always have to do the "safe" thing?
My heart ached. How would I ever know if I had done the right thing? Everyone around me seemed certain of their lives. Everyone else seemed happy.
I discreetly wiped a tear as I picked up my carry-on luggage and stepped towards the front of the plane.
The stewardess smiled.
"Welcome to Hawaii, land of Paradise."
Suddenly I felt an arm around my shoulder.
"I love you" James whispered to me.
I turned and looked at my husband. I smiled numbly but I couldn't say a thing. Not yet, for my heart was across another ocean -- many, many, miles away.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

East Coast Tour Itinerary

Hooray, I finally recieved a copy of the Panther Band East Coast Tour itinerary! It's only tentative but so far, looks pretty exciting. I just have to figure out the time factor thing and make sure I can get a daily story back to my newspaper. Fortunately, I see that by 10 p.m. we are back at the hotel every night -- which means 7 p.m. California time -- giving me a good two hours to write and turn in my story each time. I'll also check with the hotels ahead of time and see if they offer high speed connection.

Tuesday- June 27 : Leave Porterville 11:30 p.m.
Wednesday - June 28: LAX to JFK-LGA, New York City - Skyline Hotel - pizza party, night tour of Empire State Building
Thursday - June 29: Morning rehearsal@Carroll Studio, city sightseeing tour of NYC, dinner @ Hard Rock Cafe'
Friday - June 30: Morning rehearsal@Lincoln Center, free time@Times Square, band concert@Lincoln Center at 5 p.m. -- return to hotel by 10 p.m.
Saturday, July 1: Head to Washington D.C., but first go to Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, lunch at South Street Seaport, stop in Philadelphia for sightseeing, end at Hilton Hotel, Crystal City.
Sunday, July 2: Presentation at Arlington Cemetery, Tomb of the Unknown Soldier; perform at WWII Memorial, lunch at Old Post Office; photo op at U.S. Capital Building; Dinner/dance ruise on the Potomac River
Monday, July 3: Washington D.C. sightseeing; Smithsonian Museum; lunch at Union Station; Washington Nationals Baseball game
Tuesday, July 4: Parade day in Fairfax, Virginia; lunch courtesy of Fairfax citizens; fireworks in Fairfax
Wednesday, July 5: Transfer to Baltimore Inner Harbor, lunch, transfer to BWI airport - depart at 2 p.m. back to Los Angeles; bus to Porterville

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

The Grandfather Clock

I wrote this for a dear friend some time back after he told me about the grandfather clock.
Glancing around for the last time, Joseph walked hesitantly down the stairs. The rooms were empty now. Rooms that had previously been filled with love and laughter, chaos and noise, now abandoned. Rooms that had overflowed with furniture -- living and family room sets, bedroom and dining room sets -- all empty.
Midway down, Joseph stopped and gazed at the only piece of furniture left in the four bedrooms, two-story home – a grandfather clock. But it too, would soon be gone.
No ticking. No tocking. Dead. Like his marriage, the pendulum no longer moved. It had stopped seven months earlier -- the day his wife told him the marriage was over. Joseph had deliberately never rewound it again.
It was December, the day after Christmas. His marriage had died, perhaps slowly; perhaps he saw it coming but denied it was happening. It didn’t really matter anymore. Nothing would ever be the same again.
Now, only three things were certain, his wife wanted out of the marriage, he no longer belonged there and he had to leave.
Could it be possible? Could 22 years of marriage be over?
Taking the final steps down, his heart ached. He could almost see and hear the children -- one boy, one girl – running up the stairs, laughing and playing. But they weren’t there. They were all grown up and gone.
Desiree and Derrick were young adults with lives of their own. He would always be their father, and he would always be there for them. That, he knew was a certainty. That love would never die. The thought gave his heart a lift.
At the door, Joseph switched off the light. Darkness engulfed the home. Darkness engulfed his heart. Would light ever come again? Would he ever find happiness again? He didn’t believe so.
He didn’t want to drive away and not look back, yet he knew he had no choice.
Not knowing where to go, Joseph drove with a heavy heart towards chimes ringing faintly in the distance.
He didn’t know it, but his heart was heading in the right direction.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Happy Mother's Day

Happy Mother's Day to any of you that are mothers or mothers at heart.

I know that my years with my mother may be numbered, so I really enjoyed today.

Especially since my mother fell yesterday while she was with my sister. I got the phonecall and rushed to Porterville to see her. Fortunately she was not seriously hurt, other than a couple of scraped knees and a bruised face. She looks as if someone gave her a shiner on her right eye. I packed up her bag and told her she was coming home with me.

So, today, I got up early made her buscuits and coffee and we enjoyed a nice early mother-daughter time out on the front porch. It was lovely.

I then spent the rest of the morning cooking - chili beans, Mexican rice and teriyaki chicken - for a family potluck at my niece's home in a nearby town.

We had a great time. They live on a beautiful home in the country surrounded by 40 acres of vineyards. I had never been there but I fell in love with the old-fashion country home. They had everything I wish my home had - including three bathrooms and a nice game-room loft.

But what I loved the most was their back yard. It was gorgeous - complete with volleyball, basketball and a pool.

The young children could climb a nice treehouse.

Everything was great until we heard some of the teen kids yelling "Grandma, Stop!" and when I turned around, my mother, wearing a very nice pink dress, was half way up the treehouse.

There is something not right. Lately, I have to watch her like a young child. The other day she tried to climb up on my exercise bicycle and had I not seen her, she could have fallen.

Now, there she was, climbing up the tree house. I had done it earlier and slid down a slide and she said it was her turn. She then insisted on sliding down. My mother has always been a bit on the stubborn side. She refuses to admit that she is old (85) and she claims she can do everything an 18-year-old can. I tell her no, she can not. But, that's my mother. She's stubborn.

But, except for that little incident, we all had a very nice time.
I think I will always remember this day.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

8 days and 7 nights - East Coast Tour

I had the most amazing proposition yesterday.

Jim Kusserow, band director for Porterville High School Panther Band, invited me to join their band for an East Coast tour. I do not have the itinerary yet, but I'm sure it will include all of the patriotic places that I traveled to in 1976 as a member of the same band. Jim Kusserow was in the band too back then. We graduated together. I love it that he came back to be the band director.

Anyway, I am ecstatic! I will travel with the band to New York City, Arlington, Washington D.C., Philadelphia, and more, as a member of the press. I will write a story a day and email the story home so that the Porterville Recorder can offer Porterville daily coverage of the trip.

What an amazing opportunity. I went on a similar trip with Buck Shaffer in 1976 for our country's bicentennial. I still remember how I felt when we drove by the Empire State Building and by the Twin Towers (newly built) -- we couldn't stop to visit them but I did visit the Statue of Liberty and the United Nations. Our band was the official California band during the bicentennial and I still remember how exciting it was for me during the 10-mile Fourth of July parade in Philadelphia in the rain!

I can't wait to do it all again. This time I'll be seeing it all, not only for myself but for everyone back home. I'll be taking plenty of digital pictures and sending those back too.

My daughter, Catherine wishes she could go. She has always wanted to go to New York City. I wish I could take her too, but she'll have her chance one day.

Porterville Panther Band Concert

(photo by Chieko Hara - The Porterville Recorder)

The Porterville Panther Band put on an amazing performance last night -- evident by several standing ovations throughout the program.

I was extremely touched with the solemness of "The Battle Hymn of the Republic" -- performed not only by the band, but with the Porterville orchestra and Porterville High choirs.

It literally gave me goosebumps - it was the most beautiful thing I've ever heard. It sounded as if angels were all around. For the last stanza, band director Jim Kusserow turned to the audience and they had the opportunity to sing along.

Buck Shaffer's wife was sitting directly behind me.

"Absolutely amazing," she said. "I think he has outdone his master."

It was amazing. I wouldn't say he outdid the master (Buck Shaffer) but I would say that I think Buck must have been proud of his successor.

I only wish I could have stayed around to visit with people. But I had a deadline and only 20 minutes to finish the story and get it to the editor. I always feel I cheat the public out of a better story when I'm so rushed. Since I had a sealed envelope of all of the student award winners, I used that 15 minute window to set my laptop in the lobby of the auditorium and quickly finished most of the story, leaving the ending open so that I could watch the grand finale and then get back to it. But still, by the time it ended and I drove back to the newspaper, I only about three minutes to finish putting it together. I hate that.

I did stay for the finale - which is an amazing show in itself.

With the band playing the various United States armed forces songs : Caissons, Anchors Aweigh, Marine Hymn, etc., a representative of that branch would walk across stage with their flag and salute towards the audience for the remainder of the song, while veterans in the audience who served in that branch proudly stand during their song.

It is extremely touching. At the end of the final song, the band went directly into John Phillip Souza's Stars and Stripes Forever -- complete with a front line of picolo and flute players. The doors to the back of the auditorium open and down all the aisles, the letter girls, Orange Blossoms, twirlerettes and flag team, enter and stand all along the aisles as the song comes to a loud finish with a huge American Flag that drops down from the front and covers the entire stage - covering all but the front line of musicians who are standing and still playing.

It never fails - I remember that finish when I was in high school. It always gets the most amazing, almost never-ending standing ovation. I've timed the ovation past five minutes.

If a person sees a Panther Band Concert -- they are always in for a treat.

Today and Sunday only, you can see the story in the Porterville Recorder HERE (By Monday, you can still access it but you must click on archives and type in Panther Band)

Thursday, May 11, 2006

An open letter to Always and Forever .... where ever you may be

Always and Forever and Once upon a time..... it all sounds like a fairytale. And we all know fairytales can't come true. Can they?


I smiled sadly when I read your comment today-- the one you left hidden in one of my old posts. (March archives: Two Lights Contest)

You asked me if I even knew who you were?
Do you really think for a minute that I would ever forget you?

You disappeared from my life a long time ago. Now, suddenly, you appear out of the blue and leave me a comment, anonymously. Life is so melancholy.

Have I ever wondered about you? Have I ever missed you?
My answer is: What do you think?

It is not everyday that a guy proposes and offers to open and share a commemorative bottle of port, one of only 500 produced -- and given to you at a retirement party of a Royal Australian Navy base. (I bet you didn't think I remembered all that)

I don't even know what really happened to us. I'm not sure it really matters. I don't know what ever happened to you. I didn't know if you were dead or alive. You left without a trace and without as much as a goodbye. I have no idea where you are. 

You've traveled all over the world. And you showered me with gifts -- a tapestry from Hong Kong, a gold necklace from Thailand, a kimono from Korea.... It was not all material things - I remember everything. You said I was your princess and you sang to me -- all the time. And when I hear the songs on the radio, it all comes back:

They read you Cinderella, you hoped it would come true
and one day a prince charming would come rescue you
you like romantic movies and you never will forget
the way it felt when Romeo kissed Juliette
and all this time that you've been waiting
you don't have to wait no more
I can love you like that, I would make you my world
move heaven and earth if you were my girl.....

You came into my life when I really needed you but things happened and our lives took different roads. Still, I would not exchange what we once had for anything in the world. Please know that.
And know that I wish you happiness. You deserve it. I really hope you found/find it.

Always and forever,

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Family photos

This is me and my precious baby. Mandy was stolen a few days after this picture was taken last year. I miss her so much.

My three precious daughters!

Marisa, Jenna, Catherine


I think we went from winter to summer. It is 91 degrees outside and very hot.

Mother's Day is only a couple of days away and I still haven't planted flowers -- I have them in small pots. My pink flowering jasmine is starting to ravel itself all over the other plants, so I need to make time and transplant them.

Yesterday was hectic again. My mother is slowly recovering from her stroke. It is hard for me not to have her here, but I have to believe that my sister is taking care of her. I'll get her tomorrow.

In the meantime, my sister from Fresno suffered a seizure yesterday. Her blood pressure was low, 80/40, and she passed out. I am thinking she hit her head and that caused the seizure. I don't know. She's in the hospital and I was planning on visiting her this morning but she insists she's fine and most likely, will go home this afternoon.

So, I'm going to try to catch up on house chores and enjoy my day off. I'll treat myself to my favorite meal at Little Italy - chicken piccata - and maybe get outside this afternoon and plant some flowers.

Sounds like it will be a lovely day.

For those of you that follow Jim Kusserow's Porterville Panther Band news - I am planning on definitely being there Friday night for the concert and writing about it for Saturday morning's paper. So, do come back for that.

Until then,
I'm off and running.....

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Another odd day

My mother is not doing well. (Today she gave me a good scare but then pulled through)

Yesterday was another odd day. It was beautiful out and I thought I'd take her outside for a little while. I wheeled her out to the patio and she kept staring out into space and started talking to someone. "Yes, yes, I'm coming," she had said.

When I asked who she was talking to, she turned to me and said, "My mother. She keeps calling me. I keep seeing her everytime I turn around."

Her mother died many years ago.

I've received a few very nice emails -- thank you very much for that. It means a lot to me.

As to my writing. I did cover the Cinco de Mayo parade yesterday while my sister took over. And, I survived my daughter's birthday party and I even wrote two stories. (One advance and the parade story.)

Today: My editor was kind enough to find a different reporter to cover today's events. I had called him to tell him that my mother was quite bad and that I didn't think I was in any shape to cover a story. But when I didn't hear back from him and my mother stabilized, I decided I could do it. I was driving out when he called me and told me to make a U-turn and go back to my family. I did just that. God bless him.

Friday, May 05, 2006


Well, just when I thought things were plenty hectic and things can't get worse, one of my girls decides to go and break her foot this afternoon.

Jenna was very excited. She has so much going on in her young life right now. Tonight she had a softball game to play in and then afterwards she was going to a church youth group outing to Adventure Park (miniature golf, go-carts, laser tag, etc.)

I guess she was a little too excited. She asked me what happened to her uniform and I told her it was in the dryer. She ran to get it........tripped, fell, screamed, screamed, screamed some more.....she was in so much pain. And her little toe was bent sideways. She had dislocated it. Luckily her father, who is a paramedic, was here and took one look, told me to hold her, and then pulled it and put it back into place.

But, instead of going to the game, we spent the next couple of hours at the doctor, radiology and the emergency room. Fun!

Final diagnosis - broken toe. But you can't cast a toe, so they buddy-taped it. That's about all you can do to it. She can walk but she can't put pressure on it or run. Time will heal it.

Jenna was heartbroken about missing today's game and the youth outing. She is also begging me to let her play in tomorrow's softball tournment. Um...yea, right. As if. She said she can bat and someone else can run for her.

It was a hectic day but things are better now. I am writing four newspaper stories this weekend so my sister will come here and stay with my mother while I work. I am so relieved.

And Jenna - life goes on for her too. Tomorrow she turns 14 and we decided that the show must go on - so, she's still having her party. Fifteen loud, giggly teenage girls are invited. So, the question is - will I survive it?

I love you forever, I love you for always

Have you ever felt like a candle burning from both ends? That's how my life has been for quite awhile now. But lately, it has started getting to me. Between my children's never-ending schedules of sports, clubs, band and social activities, I am constantly running. I've also been quite busy with some high school reunion work (my 30th is this August) and on top of all that, I have a very sick mom who I am taking care of.

Still, I managed....until today.

My mom has been very weak and can barely walk now. Strange, since just 10 days ago she was out driving around. Apparently she has some kind of inner ear condition that is making her dizzy and weak. She has some good days and some not so good days. She now walks with my help and with a walker.

I was helping her to bed after feeding her lunch and suddenly she just started crying. I asked what was wrong and where she hurt and she said no where but she felt really odd. I asked what she meant and she said she felt it was time to go. I knew what she meant but I wanted to make sure I did not misunderstood her and I told her that she didn't have to leave, she can stay with me as long as she wants. (she has her own bedroom at my house since she's here frequently, I wished she'd just stay here.)

She looked at me tenderly and then touched my face and shook her head and said no, that she felt it was time -- that she was dying. I helped her into bed and then got in with her and hugged her and told her she was fine, just weak. I reminded her that just a week ago, she was driving and maybe she won't feel up to doing that, but will get her strength back.

I held her as she trembled and then finally calmed down. She had mentioned she was too much trouble for me and I said, not at all. She's always been there for me and now it's my turn to be there for her. And I couldn't help but wonder how many times she may have held me in such ways when I was little. I remembered falling off a bike when I was four and she scooped me up so fast and ran inside to wash my bloody knees. I shared that story with her and she seemed to stare into space before a smile finally emerged on her face. She told me how stubborn I was and how determined I was to ride my brother's bicycle. (he was 15)

Finally I kissed her and told her to take a little nap and when she wakes up, she can decide if she wants to go see my daughter play (she has a softball game this evening) and if not, we'll play "Trouble" here at home -- one of her favorite little board games. She nodded and before I knew it, she was sound asleep.

I felt odd as I left the room. I know we can't have our mothers forever and mine is 85, but still....

I instantly thought of that story, "I love you Forever"by Robert Munsch -- anyone know it?

I love that book and can never get through it without crying.
I remember reading it to my children. They always loved it. My youngest would always hug me and tell me that someday she would take care of me.

I'll love you forever,
I'll love you for always,
As long as I'm living
My baby you'll be.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

The Day After

The day after the day without an immigrant.
And it looks like everyone survived. Schools suffered a bit since they lose money for students who do not attend. But the ones that suffered the most were the Mexicans themselves.

Fox News read an email from someone who said something like this: "A day without an immigrant. OK. Now, let's go for a week, a month and a year without one."

Here -- all seems to be quiet on the central front but yesterday was quite interesting and one thing happened that gave me the biggest smile!

I am the kind of person that loves Fox News, Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity. When I'm at home, except for tuning in to local news at 10 p.m., I keep Fox News on. When I'm on the road, I listen to Rush and Sean.

But there is someone else I love to listen to. In the past, I'd do it to get newspaper story ideas. That person is Ray Appleton from KMJ 580.

Yesterday (May 2) he was commenting on the big demonstration walk outs from work and as always, his lines were constantly ringing as people called in with their comments. Then he said that the only people who were really getting hurt by this walk out were the Hispanic small-business owners. And for the next few minutes, he said he wanted to hear from them.

One man called in. He was struggling. He has a local restaurant (Casa Corona) in Fresno and, except for his family, all of his staff walked out to join the protest.

Appleton told him that for the next two hours, he would "adopt" the restaurant and give him free advertising. Then he encouraged people listening to go drop by and eat. LOL When Appleton got off the air at 2 p.m., he drove to the restaurant and found about 400 people there eating or waiting to eat.

Talk about a great day for business! Ray turned what could have been a horrible day into one of the restaurant's most profitable days!

I loved that story!

Monday, May 01, 2006

A Day Without An Immigrant & A Day Without A Gringo

I am American.
Yes, I am of some Mexican descent on my mother's side. But I do not consider myself "Mexican". As far as I am concerned, I am American. My parents were both born in this country, as were their parents. My father was an interesting mix of Irish, Argentinian and Portuguese, my mother, Mexican.

I have watched with growing frustration the daily marches during the protests of a couple of weeks ago. It made me mad to see so many Mexico flags on display and I stopped twice to talk to teens that were being disrespectful to our American flag.

My 13-year-old daughter was right on in her observation. "Mom, these kids who are leaving school to protest, they are the ones that need to be in school the most. They aren't very bright," she said. "Most of them don't even know what it is really about. Nor do they care. They just want an excuse to get out of school."

As to the adults who are marching. Yes, I know that immigrants work hard every day in every industry -- but that does not give them the right to cross the borders illegally. I have been asked several times "What are they doing that is so wrong? They just want a better life."

OK - I can sympathize with that. But that does not give them the right to break the law. I am tired of people throwing our governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger, in my face. Yes, he was an immigrant. But he did it the right way. He did not cross over illegally!

Why can't these people see this?

I see it like this. Let's say that a large group of people rushed the gates at Disneyland. Once inside, those same people start crying: "Why are you persecuting us? We just want to give our children what we never experienced. We aren't hurting anyone. We're buying food and souvenirs." Yea - that's true. You also got in without paying! It was wrong.

I am not saying that I am against immigration. None of us are saying that. We are saying that if you want to be here, do it right. Or go back to your homeland and protest there -- march the streets of Mexico and demand fair treatment, better wages and better schools.

Do you think for a moment that if we went to Mexico and demanded that everything be translated to English and waved American flags, that it would cause sympathy? No! We'd be arrested. What if we changed the words of your National Anthem and then sang it in English? That would be considered blasphemous or as a slap in the face, I'm sure.

As to today - a day of boycotting -- fine. So far, I don't see anyone suffering here. If Mexicans do not want to work, so what! I really believe that there are plenty of others who would -- including illegal immigrants whose heart lies in doing things correctly. I applaud those illegal immigrants who sent in their taxes on April 15. Those are the people that deserve to be here. Those are the immigrants we welcome in. Not because they are paying taxes, though that too is good, but because they are doing things according to the law.

San Joaquin Valley
I keep hearing that our fruits will rot (big business in our central San Joaquin Valley) and that without Mexicans, we will have to import fruits and vegetables and the prices would be ridiculous. Don't we import bananas now? They're only 50 cents a pound. Of course, all of a sudden, the supply and demand situation will take over. That's OK. Maybe we'll go back to people growing their own vegetables. Farmers' Markets will gain in popularity. Who knows, maybe the corner vegetable stand will make a comeback. (OK, very unlikely - but it is nice to dream)

I do not mind paying a little more for lettuce, tomatoes and fruits -- if it meant that illegal aliens stopped crossing our borders.

I am really concerned as to what this country will do in the near future with so many illegals here -- you can only feed so many mouths. I also worry about social security. Many of these people have been here working since the 70's (by the way, those people I believe should be allowed to stay) and they will soon be of retirement age. Where is all this money going to come from? I know many of them have been paying social security but what really worries me are all of the people that will suddenly qualify for medical cards.

And speaking of, I find it frustrating that I struggle with health issues while all of these people are handed a carta blanche card on a silver platter -- free medical, free dental, free prescriptions, free lab work and free hospitalization. My child's last hospitalization took me three years to pay off.

I heard on the news about white people (and a few Americans of Mexican descent) in Mexico who have a boycott of their own going on out there today -- in protest of the Mexicans out here who are marching.

They are calling it a Day Without A Gringo -- I love it!

These people are refusing to go out to eat or shop today. On any given day, Sam's Club and other such industries out there are filled with the Gringos -- not today. Don't you just love it?

In the meantime, I'm watching the news. We're still alive, aren't we? The world didn't stop because the Mexican refused to work. How long can they be off? I heard one man who immigrated from Central America quoted on television saying that if he loses his job, it is worth it. He is there supporting his fellow illegals.

Yea? Tell that to his family! See if they think it is worth it.