Friday, August 28, 2009

Finding My Self, One Piece at a Time

Margaret Catherine Walls is mostly a mystery. There are few stories other than those you can read on her face: hard work, faith in her bible.

Her son (my maternal grandfather) died long before I was born, from stomach cancer.

And So I Weep

The Kennedy Family helped define my life.

John Kennedy was the first politician that I was aware of and supported. I named my first son, John, after him. Kennedy was assassinatated by Lee Harvey Oswald on the day that I left the hospital with my 2nd son, James. I was devastated. As was my family.

John Kennedy's younger brother, Robert, ran for president in 1968. He was assassinated by Sirhan Sirhan on June 5, that same year.

Edward Kennedy, who left this world this August 25, one day before my son John's birthday, worked diligently for the rights for the disenfranchised, giving substance to the dream proffered by his brothers.

I can't find words to express the loss I feel. I'm sure I'm not alone.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Happy Birthday Johny

Turn backward, turn backward,
oh time in thy flight.
Make me a child again,
just for tonight.
My sweet Johny, at about 18 months.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

For My Father

My father, George Monroe Gregory (the infant in the photo), was born 91 years ago today. Known as a hard worker, he also had a reputation for being a ladies man. At 5'6", he was attracted to tall women and married two of them: Melba June (my mother) and Lula Jo (my stepmother). He taught me to dance the two-step and encouraged me to reach for all that life offered. He died a few years ago, leaving a big hole in my heart.

Michelle Shocked Me Too

One of my favorite songs that I haven't heard in a long time. Enjoy!

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Man Works from Sun to Sun

But woman's work is never done.

John spent the morning working on the house while I cleaned the backyard. This afternoon we'll switch. I'll continue nailing the shear on the back of my new house and he'll rototill the backyard. All in all, a satisfactory partnership.

Friday, August 21, 2009

50 Years of US Statehood

I've visited Hawaii twice, camping both times. It was amazing! Orchids and wild fires, volcanoes and boy scouts, poi and torrential rain, pig roasts and worms dropping out of the trees. I'll probably never go again and I'll never forget those experiences. Happy anniversary Hawaii.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Rachmaninoff: Partie Deux

When All Else Fails

Turn to beauty.

The 1812 Overture was written by Russian composer Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky to commemorate Russia's defense of Moscow against Napoleon's advancing army. It debuted in the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour in Moscow on August 20, 1882. (Happy Anniversary!)

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Words: Sometimes They Fail Me

Like when I watch the right wingers do everything possible to stop health care change.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009


The California Standardized Testing and Reporting (STAR) scores were released today. My 6 year old granddaughter attends school in Aromas where about 50% of the 2nd graders scored at the Proficient or Advanced level in Language Art and Math compared to 93% of 2nd graders at Southside Elementary (a mile from where her father and I live).

Whether or not we believe that testing is useful, there is no way to ignore the impact to students in lower performing schools. I don't know the answer but I do know it is critical to figure this out NOW!

Monday, August 17, 2009

One of a Kind (Happy Birthday Mae!)

Mae West (1893-1980) was a self-made woman in an era where that wasn't likely or easy. In 1927 she wrote, produced, and directed SEX, a stage show that sent her to the pokey for 8 days. She was an early supporter of women's liberation and gay rights. She later wrote and produced THE DRAG, a play about homosexuality which she described as the "comedy-dramas of life." (It was banned from Broadway!) Check out the video below for a less well-known Mae.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

My 25 Most Favorite Books

My 25 Favorite Books

1. Bastard Out of Carolina (Dorothy Allison)

2. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings (Maya Angelou)

3. My Antonia (Willa Cather)

4. The Tortilla Curtain (T. Coraghessan Boyle)

5. House on Mango Street (Sandra Cisneros)

6. Beautiful Losers (Leonard Cohen)

7. Sand and Foam (Kahlil Gibran)

8. Jude the Obscure (Thomas Hardy)

9. The Poisonwood Bible (Barbara Kingsolver)

10. China Men (Maxine Hong Kingston)

11. The Golden Notebook (Doris Lessing)

12. Dreams of My Father (Barack Obama)

13. The English Patient (Michael Ondaatje)

14. The History of the World (George Orwell)

15. The Omnivore’s Dilemma (Michael Pollan)

16. The Shipping News (Annie Proulx)

17. Black and Blue (Anna Quindlen)

18. For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow Is Enuf (Ntozake Shange)

19. A Life in Letters (John Steinbeck, et al)

20. Grapes of Wrath (John Steinbeck)

21. Breakfast of Champions (Kurt Vonnegut)

22. Slaughterhouse 5 (Kurt Vonnegut)

23. The Color Purple (Alice Walker)

24. The Outline of History (H. G. Wells)

25. Merriam Webster Collegiate Dictionary

Janis Remembered

Janis Joplin by Richard Wallich

I've been listening to Woodstock rebroadcast on satellite radio all weekend. It's nostalgia, longing, relief that I wasn't caught up in the 60s drug scene, all wrapped up in one. My favorite performer was Janis Joplin: loud, brassy, sometimes vulnerable, always determined to get the hell out of Port Arthur, Texas. Watch the Dick Cavett interview.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Smoke and Ashes

Although we are 75 miles away here in Hollister, our skies are filled with smoke and ashes. Locals are driving the fire department crazy with terrified phone calls, fearing the worst. My heart is with those who are actually in the line of fire. May this be over quickly, with everyone--fire fighters, residents, dogs and horses--safe.

Friendship Knows No Distance

Good friends, good weather, good wine. It just doesn't get much better than that.
One of the greatest things about summer is having special house guests drop by. I've known Marian and Nat since my TRW days (70's and 80's). We share many friends and years and years of adventures. May we all live long and healthy and keep on creating good memories.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009


Just because. . .

Hot August Night

Album cover, "Neva Again" by Kam

Imagine a hot, hot, hot Los Angeles summer. Imagine a  2400 mile round trip drive to Ft. Worth with two young kids and a crazy out-of-work machinist. Imagine a small El Segundo motel room where South LA explodes over and over and over on the small black & white TV set. 

Imagine going two weeks later for an interview at 59th and Avalon, in the heart of a burned-out neighborhood. Imagine getting the job: Cardex Clerk, $1.25 an hour, and all the coffee you can drink. 

Monday, August 10, 2009

Holy Mole

49 and counting. Happy B-Day Antonio. (It's also the anniversary of the death of Rin Tin Tin 1918-1932 but his website threatens legal action if you use his photo :>)

Come Back to the Five and Dime

Oops! Wrong Jimmy Dean. This is the one who sang for his supper and later made his own sausage, so to speak. Another remnant of my teenage years, when black and white television sets brought lots of pop music into living rooms across the country. Ah nostalgia. . . Happy 81st Birthday Jimmy!

My Mind on Diet Coke

Mad Cat

My Sweetie sleeps at home alone, tucked under the blanket, the whir of the fan in the background. When he awakes, he'll eat, poop, pee, and attack the phony mouse on a string. He saves his real feelings for when his mom returns. 

Monday Mornings

I love Monday mornings. It's like getting to start all over again. No unfinished business, no regrets. Just a beautiful sunrise, another chance to get it all right.

I love Basquiat. Gorgeous, creative, troubled, drug-addicted. A model of what not to do. But oh so brilliant. Reminds me of my birth mother.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

True Friendship

"Those truly linked don't need correspondence. When they meet again after many years apart, their friendship is as true as ever." Deng Ming-Dao

Two weeks ago today, through the miracle of the internet, I received an email from an old friend, Yvonne. We first met 30 years ago in Southern California when she and a friend were looking for a place to rent. With little hesitation, I moved my two teenage boys into one room and moved the two Brits in.

Renters turned into friends, and after they returned home, I visited England where Yvonne put me up for FIVE weeks. A true friend indeed! Yvonne, her husband, and their two sons just spent a couple of days with us here in Hollister. It was thrilling to renew our connection, confirming that friendship knows no boundaries of distance or time.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Just Another Friendly Town Hall Meeting

My congressional representative, Sam Farr, will be in Hollister August 12 to hold a town hall meeting. I will also be there to express my support. 

Based on what I can find on the web, it  is likely that the rabid right will be there in force, disrupting and threatening. Google Sam Farr and town hall and you'll see why I'm making that prediction. 

Please check out your representative's schedule and do what you can to support them in this important decision.  

Happy Birthday Mr. President

Happy Birthday to You!

Sunday, August 2, 2009

A Tiny History Lesson

Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria hunting in Ceylon

World War I, known as The First World War, The Great War, and The War to End All Wars, was precipitated by the assassination on June 28, 1914, of Archduke Ferdinand, heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne, by Serbian nationalist, Gavrilo Princip.

Within weeks the major European powers were at war; the conflict soon spread worldwide, mobilizing 70 million personnel, and resulting in a death toll of 15 million, making it one of the deadliest military conflicts in history.

The Power of Love

"When the power of love overcomes the love of power, the world will know peace." Jimi Hendrix

A Good Summer Read

Just in case you encounter awkward cocktail conversation about the birthplace of our president.