Friday, May 30, 2014

In Spite of Asphalt

It is once again a travel day, during which time we sit in a car for 10 hours, and think. You probably know what it is we are thinking about. 

It doesn't matter that the loving people here might be surrounded by asphalt and population and traffic and (from time to time) smog.

We don't really notice these things, when we are together. There are too many nicer things to notice.

And it all came down to the moment of departure, when the 6 year old looked at his grandpa and intoned: "This is my most terrible day EVER.."

But we will come back for more, Lord willing! In the meantime we have photos to look at,  moments to relive, and cell phones with which to FaceTime

(And - we even learned how to do a Selfie! There'll be no stopping us now.)

See you along the way!
the SconeLady

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Never Plain, This Jane

I thought I had heard of her, but wasn't certain. The name was familiar - Jane Eyre - yet the story that made her famous was not. I wish now that I still had that pleasure in store, as I did that summer of 1974.

It would be an interesting summer. We did not know it yet, but our president would soon stand in front of television cameras and resign. His wife and family would stand with him and bear this heartache calmly. It would be a very long time before we saw any of them again.
But this was only June, so that dreadful thing had not yet happened. And I had a job! What was political intrigue compared with that? I would stay with my sister and her husband in their beautiful house, and life would be oh, so good. Her kind husband and I were to be the schoolhouse painters, working as foremen with crews and paints and all sorts of turpentine. 

My crew consisted of two 16 year olds, boy and girl, who were gorgeous and adventurous and in love, rather like Romeo and Juliet. I thought they must see me as incredibly OLD when told I was their 'boss'. At 23, I FELT old next to them, and I'd never been anyone's 'boss'. This could be interesting.

But soon, my sister introduced me to Jane Eyre for the first time, and the summer was transformed. Paints, and turpentine, and lovesick teenagers faded with the words:

"There was no possibility of taking a walk that day." (There! You see? No wonder I loved this book. Charlotte Bronte' began it by pointing to something dear to the SconeLady's heart - walking!).

Each day upon returning home from work, paint spattered and weary, I could hardly wait for dinner, and dishes, and then: Jane! What an unusual character she was. How very uncommon and intelligent, how lively and unusual! She may have seemed plain when described by Bronte': 

Bessie, when she heard this narrative, sighed and said, "Poor Miss Jane is to be pitied, too, Abbot."

"Yes," responded Abbot, "if she were a nice, pretty child, one might compassionate her forlornness; but one really cannot care for such a little toad as that."

"Such a little toad"? Really, Abbot is short-sighted and unthinking, or outright blind.

My sister would read to me, and I would read to her. We would stop each evening in decent time for sleep, but it was terribly hard. Excruciating, in fact! The sister's kind husband sat in the other corner of the room pretending not to listen, at first. But he would later come out with quotes or Jane-isms clearly gleaned from those evening readings. Haha! Oh, they were good days, that summer of '74.

It was sure a contrast with what I experienced each day as a 'paint boss'. Jane and Mr. Rochester by night; two rambunctious and lovesick teens by day. I'll give you one guess as to which scenario I liked best.

Romeo and Juliet don't even come close.

See you along the way!
the SconeLady

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Wednesday, May 28, 2014

The End of a Good Book

It is always hard to come to the end of a good book. Some of us stop at a chapter's end in order to go to bed, or make dinner, or simply do something else. SOME of us just keep reading.
When the Lovely Daughter was small and growing, she discovered books in a big way. Perhaps it is because she was read to. I mean, really Read to, multiple times, multiple books, singles and series and biographies which became beloved. Anne of Green Gables, Little Women, Great Expectations, and many more were pulled from our shelves. Dick King-Smith and Roald Dahl planted themselves deeply and galvanized our family reading times. 

But one of the discoveries which sent her to the shelves on her own was anything by author Francine Rivers.

These books came her way one summertime when her grandmother slipped one into her birthday box. She perused its first pages, and then there was no stopping her. Instead of moderation, my dear Readers, our daughter chose a unique intemperance when it came to books. They were good books! GREAT books which her father and I had no objections to. The objections began with the discovery that she had stayed up through the night, lost in a world; a Francine Rivers world.
Being 'in trouble', for reading too much? I shudder now to think I might have scolded. (Argh!)

The SconeLady does not stay up very late. She does not really want to. But a sweet tale has kept me reading onward, just lately. Tomorrow I shall share it with you.

Find something sweet and indulge, dear friends. It is far more satisfying than a piece of cake could ever be, and much longer-lasting.

See you along the way!
the SconeLady

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Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Catfish on a Hot Day

It is always rather a tangle of fishing lines, whenever small people are invited to go fishing. But why would we not invite them? Without them, there might be fish caught, and conversation held. But with them, both fish and conversation turn the enjoyable into outright entertainment.

And this, it did. Fish kept on being caught. Numbers of them! Children were taught how to bait their own hooks (Grandpa's specialty). Their uncle stood on the dock with them, being hilarious and preposterous all at the same time. His friend (Tom, who loves fishing more than just about anything) could have stayed for days and never become tired of it. Grandpa kept all the fishing lines straight - no easy task - and monitored the expedition, thinking of safety and what Grandma calls Emergency Procedures. From the vantage point of the house, the dock below appeared to be one giant web of continual motion.
There is something satisfying about sharing 'enthusiasms' together, kids and grownups. It was hot. It was thirsty. But there were no complaints or approaches to boredom. Somehow when hooks are flying about the place, no one could possibly be bored.

The pool stood ready to receive anyone who wanted to leap in. All sorts of leaping, and being tossed in the air to land with a splash! amid squeals and shouts took place. Their mother was certain that at least the children would fall into a deep sleep the minute they found their beds. 

Just before those beds were found, Tom threw just one more line into the lake, and caught - a CATFISH!. No one had caught a catfish until that moment, so his wife Ruth slipped it gently into some water and brought it to the back patio. The thing was so strange looking. So sort of slimy, even. Not something a person might wish to touch. Even the smallest boy's hand did not move an inch toward its wriggling and scummy form. Looking would be quite enough, this time.

So, bedtime was announced. A much-earned, sleepy, drowsy, dozy-cozy lights out. Little was said after prayers and kisses, but a pair of sleepy eyes gazed up from the pillows and I heard, "Can we go fishing again tomorrow, Grandma?"
The Sun Sets on the SconeLady

"Oh, I think you can depend on that, my sweet... G'night.."

"Sleep tight.."

The SconeLady stole down the stairs, grabbed up her laptop, and went outside to a soft dusky sunset. Her dear Readers would be waiting. The conversation across the miles began to develop, while now and then a night-time bat flitted along the lake. 

It really doesn't get very much better than this.

See you along the way!
the SconeLady

Monday, May 26, 2014


No, I don't mean 'calves', as in cattle babies. I mean, as in what I look at when I bend at the waist (because as you know, the SconeLady cannot bend her neck down to look - titanium prevents all such bending).

I have often felt slighted by the calves in my life. They haven't typically been the stick thin appendages one might view in a Vogue, or a Cosmo Magazine. On the other hand, I don't want the life that might go along with stick-thin items of this sort. Women who are fortunate enough to have money-making legs probably become twitchy as time ticks by. And that would be scary.

Still. I wouldn't have minded had my appendages been just a TINY bit more svelte. Take tonight, for instance. There I was, minding my own business - walking multiple miles - listening to NPR (an interview with the cinematographer of The Godfather - fascinating!), when suddenly a man stopped dead in front of me. Well, he wasn't dead but he stopped as though he might soon be. He stood staring at my legs.

I became nervous and made to move past him, but he shouted out: "WOW! Now THOSE are SOME STRONG CALVES YOU'VE GOT THERE! What do you DO to get such BIG STRONG CALVES?!"

Oh. My. Goodness.

I laughed nervously, and once again made to move on. He let me, but from behind I heard him commenting to others as he walked: "MAN! That lady is a STRONG 'un. I wonder what it is that she....", and then, mercifully, the voice faded away.

Really, dear Readers. Can you understand why I was befuddled? Do you commiserate with the poor SconeLady who was thus accosted IN PUBLIC? I could not concentrate on the filming of The Godfather or anything else for at least 10 minutes.

I know all of this is a First World problem, and life's too short for such shallow worries. In fact, deep down I feel that this man meant it as a compliment. And it was a whole lot better than the man yesterday who tried to sell me drugs. 

(I know. Welcome back to California). 

See you along the way!
the SconeLady

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Sunday, May 25, 2014

Donuts and Airplanes! A Winning Combination

They really wanted to walk. A car was going, but their grandma and uncle were not going in the car, they were walking. The two young ones were confident they could go the nearly 3 miles with success. So we figured, why not?

Where were we all going? To the donut shop! To the Air Museum! To play with friends! It was to be, in short, a Field Trip.

And so the grandma, the uncle, the boy and the girl set off down the road on the way to the donut shop. There were so many funny things to talk about with their uncle. There were some nice things to talk about with their grandma too, but it wasn't quite the same as with their uncle. He was not only funny, he was hilarious. And silly and playful and always had what mommy called 'antics'. 
Walking 3 miles is no small thing for most people. Most people don't think walking that far is very much fun. But these two must have already had an active and vivacious life, because they did not find it difficult at all. Or, at least, maybe only a little difficult. At one point the uncle kindly picked up and carried the small girl. But only for a little distance. She was asked, but did NOT want a car to come and get her. It must be all or nothing.

The donuts were purchased, the drive to the Air Museum completed. Friends came, and together the children found all sorts of wonderful airplanes grandpa had been talking about with them. There was the F-4 Phantom, the B-52, the B-17, the F-111, and many more! Grandpa had flown the RF-4 and the F-111 in the Air Force, so he knew EVERYTHING about them. He explained how airplanes take off (when it seems they really just float out there and it's sort of scary), and how they land. It felt just as though they might fly in one of those planes, one day. Just like Amelia Earhart.
The best part of the Field Trip was getting to choose their very own airplane at the Museum shop. Parents always hesitate a little bit when it comes to Museum shops. But grandparents aren't squeamish about them at all. Grandpa told all six kids to choose whatever they liked, and it was SO much fun to look! The boys picked out water bombers, mostly, and the girls picked 'Whirly Copters', which were interesting because you blow up a balloon and let go and it soars high in the air. 

They played and ran, and played some more, until everyone was getting a little tired and a little hungry. It was time to go, and everyone piled into the cars clutching their new airplanes. 

No one, not even one child, expressed boredom. They didn't seem to think about that at all. I know of at least one little girl who had shining eyes while sitting in a flight simulator. And she looked like a natural.

It must run in the family.

See you along the way!
the SconeLady

Saturday, May 24, 2014

My Home Town (2)

It was hot, maybe the hottest day of the summer. But my friend and I didn't care. We were on our bikes, riding side by side without an apparent care in the world.

The traditional summer day usually included bike riding, anywhere we wanted to go. It didn't occur to us to be afraid of any rides. All rides were fascinating, and no grownups need worry. All over town the kids who had already worked the harvests ventured out until dinnertime, and - may I say? Freedom is a lovely thing when one is young and there are no video games.

It was normal.

Susan and I had been up the mountain, and now started back toward the town. The highway was so hot that we saw bubbles of asphalt rising up as we rode past. She and I stopped to get off and 'play' with the bubbles. They were hot! but so much fun to touch and to pop. We probably could have fried an egg on that road, that day.

But we had no time for frying eggs, or anything else. We had to get moving because that very night Susan would appear on a television show, and her mother wanted to get her ready. She was an amazing performer who could, among other things, do tap, ballet, and sing at the same time. Man.

The two of us were approaching the town cemetery when disaster suddenly struck. Sailing swiftly downhill, Susan was ahead of me but all of a sudden my bike was going too fast. Soon, I was approaching her back tire and began to panic, calling out: "Look out, I'M COMIIIINNNNGGGG!!"

I was not only coming, but CRASHING into her back tire with a resounding Thump.

Down went the bike. Down went she, first on the asphalt and then tumbling over and over into the nearby abyss of a ditch. Our two bicycles intertwined in a messy clot of steel and gears, as we sailed down to the bottom.

"WHY DID YOU RUN INTO MY BICYCLE???!!" she (loudly) cried. And to this day I have no answer to that question.

Those of you who watch this space may remember that the SconeLady later collided with other unfortunates on her bike. And every time, it is TOO HUMILIATING!

Someone stopped, and put Susan into the back of their car to take her to a doctor, because her knees and elbows were cut and scraped and a hideous sight. She would not be appearing on anyone's television that night.

The news spread like wildfire through the town. The townspeople did not appreciate their pet diva being literally knocked off a television program. There would be no reason to watch, that night.

And it would be a long time before they forgot the Responsible Party. Oh poor, poor SconeLady!

(Poor, poor Susan, more like).

See you along the way!
the SconeLady

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Friday, May 23, 2014

My Home Town

It was a little bit like living in Mayberry. You know, where Andy Taylor and Barney Fife were the friendly local policemen (and Barney had only one bullet).
There were only two grocery stores in the town, and one was strangely off limits. I was not quite sure why, but approaching it felt wrong and somehow my sister and I obeyed this 6th sense. Once a week we could purchase a candy bar, and it was always to Delph's store that we brought our precious dimes.

The Other Store was directly across the street. Next to the Tavern. The Tavern also gave off a rather shadowy feeling (one never knew what might come out of it), so we thought it best not to venture in. 

But one day (perhaps in Junior High) I was invited into the Other Store by a friend. It had been a long time since our mother had actually said anything about the Other looked normal on the outside; Mother was not there, and my friend was walking casually in. "Are you coming?" she said.

As I saw her back disappearing into its depths, I gave a final glance at Delph's, and stepped in. It looked pretty much the same as Delph's. There were the canned foods; there were flour, salt, and pepper; and there were...oh! I suddenly saw the reason for my mother's warnings. It was because, dear Readers, there was a display of Girlie Magazines on the shelves. Really! there was. I had not heard of a Girlie Magazine, and did not know that such things existed. But there they were right on the counter next to the till.

We were, it must be admitted, shocked.  

We might laugh now, but that day I felt sorry for the Girlie girls. Someone must have forgotten to tell them they were supposed to be WEARING CLOTHES. I glanced up at the proprietess, looking at me, looking at the magazines. "Can I help you?" she said, not too kindly.

My friend and I suddenly lost our nerve, and fled. "What should we DO??" I breathed, once we had escaped. "This is terrible!"

We decided that we would do something, and make a Stand. The next day we went back and walked up to the lady behind the counter:

  • we said we didn't think girlie magazines were a good idea for a grocery store
  • we shared that they were not good for business because mothers wouldn't want to go in
  • we said they could put the magazines down behind the counter
  • the proprietess refused our suggestions and told us to GET OUT OF THERE (without saying please..)
  • we sent them a letter, stating that we wanted to take our concerns to the City Council 

My mother, unbeknownst to me, watched these things with interest. She was rather proud about it. 

The proprietess, however, was not impressed. She did finally relent and place her magazines behind the counter, out of sight of the children in town. But she had one stipulation:

My friend and I were "NEVER TO ENTER HER STORE, ever, again" - (not that I ever wanted to go back. She was spooky). 

On the following Saturday, my sister and I went to Delph's to purchase our beloved  weekly candy bars. Mr. Delph was clearly pleased. "Welcome back! What'll it be?" he boomed out.

After all that high stress and drama, after making the other grownups so mad, it was just a relief to be back in 'Mayberry' again. My home town.

See you along the way!
the SconeLady

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Thursday, May 22, 2014

My Blue Heaven

The SconeLady is surrounded by blue. All of the eyes staring at me and being kind and chattering away continuously - are blue. There is no getting away from it, not that anyone would want to.

There is a friendly variety of shades: ocean blue, sky blue, and something like a cross between azure and cerulean. One could almost swim in it.

Today all of this sweetness took a field trip, once the dishes were done. The small girl had helped unload the dishwasher, excruciatingly careful with the glass cups. The two year old put away all of the silverware, in what could accurately be called rather a jumble. But that doesn't matter. He was helping.

The field trip commenced, during which time:

  • we were taken to the city Library
  • the two littles participated in story time
  • they sang songs
  • they heard stories
  • they banged together a pair of drumsticks
  • we were taken then to their brother's school where:
  • his playmates all came politely over to be introduced to his mother
  • they stared at her as if she were a movie star
  • they didn't stare at the SconeLady
  • the boy guided his little sister on a playground tour
  • the smallest became scared when someone bigger than him pretended to be a ferocious cat
  • we were driven to the nearby Wendy's, for something delicious

There is an awful lot to be said for finding good things for small persons to do on any given day. I remember living for years in cold England, wondering what we would do all day in the house, being temporarily without a car. We figured it out, and clearly this mother has too. Her children, social to the end, thrived on it. It made their day.

Isn't it great when some small thing makes the day of some small child? When the simple idea of a story time, or a playground, or a side of french fries makes the innocent happy? Try it often! Children can't help but open up their hearts in response.

Their blue, or brown, or green eyes will shine on you.

See you along the way!
the SconeLady

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Wednesday, May 21, 2014

The British Butler Did It

Have you ever daydreamed that you had a Butler? The very British, staid, solemn and ever-loyal servant who would make your life perfect? I have. Tons of times.

Apparently, lots of people have daydreamed this. There is now a significant upsurge in the number of Butlers in wealthy households. For a time, buttling was fading out of fashion largely due to the shocking expense of it. But in recent years, the Butler schools in this world have thrived.Thanks to NPR, I now know the reason why - in two simple words:

Downton Abbey.

Yes! The SconeLady pricked up her ears today when she heard all about this on NPR's 'Q Radio', with Jian Ghomeshi. But I nearly fell into the nearby lake when I heard host Jian speaking about 'Downtown Abbey'. DownTOWN? Abbey? TOWN?????? Any Downton enthusiast who hears this will be appalled. 

But I kept listening, only because the guest who was discussing this with Jian (David Katz) knew what he was talking about. He had himself enrolled in a Uniformed Butler School. He found that although Butlers 30 years ago were nearly extinct, they were now in great demand. People everywhere watch and love Downton Abbey, and this has spawned new interest in Carson-like men standing at one's elbow on a permanent basis.

They call it the 'Downton Effect'. 

Lots of newly rich people in China want a Butler. Downton Abbey has a large viewership there and they are all stampeding over to the UK to find a real-life British Butler. Thus, many new 'Uniformed Butler' schools are up and running! (I'm not sure where all this new money is coming from, but am uneasy that it might be from all those exports to the USA. Don't we owe rather a lot to the Chinese?? Ummm..).

I don't really know where I am going with this one except to say that any friend of Downton Abbey is a friend of mine. In fact, I feel rather good that these exporters have taken a liking to my favorite program on Masterpiece. It is hard to fathom, but maybe it's a smaller world than I thought. 

Perhaps the Brits can be the glue here, after all. And I, for one, say a right 'Jolly Good!', to that!

See you along they way!
the SconeLady

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Tuesday, May 20, 2014

They Always Run Screaming From The Room

It is a running joke in our family that the walls of swimsuit fitting rooms should be padded. And sound-proofed. For imminent despair awaits the woman who dares - in a sad moment of weakness - to try on swimwear. It's a miracle that any company who creates it stays in business, for all of us hate all of them. We believe they are a Conspiracy.

Today was one of those rare days I dared try. Alone. I would never do something like this with anyone else, it would be too hard on a relationship. So I hesitated, but hoped that this time there might be a miracle. I was nearing a Victoria's Secret store and thought, what the heck. The 20-foot bra at the Entrance seemed to whisper to me, "You will be sorry, honey. Just look at me and then DARE."

Ignoring this, I picked out a few possibilities and approached the fitting room (in mild panic). I had to admit that Victoria had the right idea, though - their fitting rooms were dark. Nearly pitch black, in fact. The darkness almost obliterated the person in my mirror. "This won't be so bad," I reasoned. "I can't really even see myself."

But low lights or high make little difference when someone searches out their own flaws. Squinting through the darkness toward the mirror, I thought I saw something that looked vaguely like - Cellulite! Aaaaaaarrrrrrgggggghhhhhh!!!! 

I'm sure everyone all the way to the Food Court heard the blood-curdling screams.


Who owns Victoria's Secret, anyway? It must be some man somewhere who never thinks of the phobic medications he is responsible for (oh dear...I just learned that a woman and her husband created it. Six days before I got married in '77. Oops).

I've heard that some companies create webpages selling swimsuits that 'hide' one's flaws. Where the patron has only to click on a link to order one of these marvels. No one need try anything on before purchase. No one (apart from your husband who is watching the Visa purchases online) need know you ordered it at all.

That all sounds wonderful, but they forget - even with the anonymity of the Internet, there will always be a mirror - the worst invention since the day Adam reached for the apple...

(or, oops...was that Eve who reached?). 

See you along the way!
the SconeLady

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Monday, May 19, 2014

There's Nothing Like a Great-Aunt

Grandma squeezed into the minuscule seat in the far back of the van. She had been generously invited to 'share' that space with a small sprite dearly loved.

It was simply an offer I couldn't refuse.

Even when one finds a space to be minuscule, it is an honor when bestowed so solemnly. Grandpa drove, and the three traveled 6 miles to a Great-Aunt's house. The small girl (who is an expert at her own carseat's mechanism) popped right out of the van, but Grandma did not find this quite so easy or quick. It was a matter of squeezing past the carseat, inching her way between the two Captain's chairs in the 2nd row, and making it past the front of another car seat. It wasn't pretty, but I made it.

Inside the house, we instantly smelled something luscious. It seemed like - could it be? - a scone! Great-aunt had baked up a pile of them in honor of the visit! She had the scones out and ready and the small girl's eyes lit up. There were even GOLDEN FORKS, just like Buckingham Palace! This small factor was proof positive the scones would taste wonderful, and she wanted very much to find out. Great-aunt served out scones for each, with butter, jam, and CREAM. She politely said, "Thank you," and began, daintily, to eat.

Oh, they were good. Just the right texture and taste, and hard to stop at one. In fact, the girl ventured later on to inquire as to - seconds?

The visit was completed by the magic of a Toy Room, where she and Grandpa played and talked and pretended. I think an 'apple pie' was put together in there, baked, and served to this man whose favorite taste just happens to be apple pie. This was all so very satisfactory, and gave Grandma and Great-aunt a chance to talk over many of the mysteries both were pondering. There is nothing quite like a sister when it comes to perplexity.

And then it came time to go. The scones were cleared away, the dishes stacked. The little girl said her Thank You's once more, hugged her Great-aunt, and climbed with ease back into her car seat. 

Grandma hesitated only for a moment, then began the process of cramming and squashing herself back into that place of honor, ready for their ride home.

Right about then, a carriage ride with Queen Elizabeth herself wouldn't have been even half so nice.

See you along the way!
the SconeLady

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Another Thousand Miles

It has been just what any kindly grandparent would hope for. Seeing the people we love after a long absence (well, 3 months..) gives you so much to celebrate. Small voices freely squeal out their excitement and joy about every possible thing. There is nothing they would hide, so honest are they, and sweet. You already know all this, as many have experienced it already, gobs of times. But for each of us it feels new when we have done without for a time.

While the small voices stand sharing, eyes wide and expressive, I catch glimpses of their mother's face catching glimpses of mine. Messages are passed silently over the tops of the three heads, with the understanding that soon we too will share and laugh. This life is a busy one - the oldest at six has some serious homework and memorization to accomplish. The middle one wants very badly to have 'homework', and gets out a worksheet of her own to show Grandma that she is also learning. The smallest gradually reveals his sense of humor, much to the appreciation of his grandpa whose is himself so very fun. 

So after all this, it's high time for Grandma and Grandpa to sleep. And as we drift off, I know we will be thinking of this, and of other things we still get to look forward to - seeing the rather stunning surf-riding son, two kind and generous sisters, and friends never-to-be-forgotten. 

THIS is going to be a fun ride.

See you along the way!
the SconeLady

Saturday, May 17, 2014

San Fernando, 1971

In the early morning hours, my sister lay awake and praying. It was her habit and her tendency to be thinking of others - her family, her loved ones - in this way. On her lap a Bible lay, with her notes, and all was quiet.

My sister gazed out the window at the city lights below. There was a pre-dawn light just visible before sunrise, and likely the children would sleep at least until then. There would be time to make her lists and see to the details of a young and busy family new to the San Fernando Valley. 

It was 6:00:41 a.m.

She closed her eyes to pray but - what was this?! She was interrupted by a sudden and disastrous rolling of the earth. And then her life - their lives - all changed instantly.

The long quake was violent, and from the 2nd floor we might as well have been in a ship at sea. I had been sound asleep on the living room couch, but lay there now frozen with the covers pulled tightly over my head. All I knew were the horrible crashings and bangings and hideous screeches as everything, it seemed, fell down around us. In the background of this cacophony I could hear the children crying out.

Their parents ran into their room and leaned on the bunk beds to keep the girls from tumbling to the floor. We all waited, hanging on for dear life. When at last the shaking had stopped, we listened as one final glass rolled down and splintered on the kitchen floor. I finally heard my name being called, and: "Are you alright??" 

From beneath the covers they heard a small, frightened voice, "Yes..?  what was THAT?!"

"An earthquake."

You must forgive my naiveté dear Readers, but earthquakes didn't happen in our small northern town. It seemed a nightmare and left me speechless. The sight of the sun coming up while the moon was still in the sky and the dust in the air felt so strange. We were all emotionally as well as physically shaken on that February day of 1971.

In almost no time, several things happened in quick succession:

  • we heard that 64 people had died
  • we felt the dreaded aftershocks
  • several freeway interchanges collapsed
  • some of the structures of 2 area hospitals fell in
  • tens of thousands fled to avoid a possible collapse of the Van Norman dam
  • our apartment building was evacuated, and we were invited to stay with an aunt and uncle
  • we all contracted stomach flu and gave it to our gracious hosts (!)

(My brother-in-law has remained a staunch advocate of earthquake preparedness since that day. There is not one item in his home that is not nailed down or affixed in some way. Supplies for emergencies are in the garage, ready and waiting. You don't have to say 'earthquake' twice, around him!)

VA Hospital

The fear and the uncertainty of all these things were appalling that day. But there was also a sweet blessing in the midst: hearing my sister and family singing the song, rather shakily at first, "My Lord Knows The Way Through The Wilderness!" over and over. We all joined in, ostensibly to help the children feel safer - but I can tell you right now, the grownups needed its message just as much!

The Lyrics

My Lord knows the way through the wilderness
All I have to do is follow.
My Lord knows the way through the wilderness
All I have to do is follow.

Strength for today, is mine all the way
And all that I need for tomorrow.
My Lord knows the way through the wilderness
All I have to do is follow.

It is what we all may do, what we all should do, when our world shakes us hard and we are lost. Find the Guide. No amount of shaking can separate us, even in the darkest wilderness.

And all we have to do is Follow.

See you along the way!
the SconeLady

photo credit: <a href="">AlaskanLibrarian</a> via <a href="">photopin</a> <a href="">cc</a>

photo credit: <a href="">smaedli</a> via <a href="">photopin</a> <a href="">cc</a>

Friday, May 16, 2014

A Travel Day

The car is packed, and two people are ready to go. A thousand miles won't seem like much when there will be two small boys and a girl waiting, jumping up and down. There are other, taller ones just as excited, though perhaps without the jumping. 

The prospect of this trip has me a bit watchful, though, because I feel we are heading into some kind of fiery furnace. And I've been there before.

1970 was an adventuresome time to be in southern California, but that didn't stop us. We were from a small town and didn't suspect danger or any kind of eeriness. We probably should have, as surviving Interstate 5 practically calls for a medal of honor on any given day.

There were two small children, their parents, and me - a teenager, all driving to Los Angeles. I think our first inklings of freeway strangeness came when we found ourselves urged on and on toward ever increasing speeds, all while bumper-to-bumper on a 10 lane freeway. No one cared that we were all mere seconds from catastrophe while cars, trucks, RVs and motorcycles weaved in and out in a kind of madness.
As we all flew on, one of the children said, Mommy! Smoke!" as smoke hovered above the freeway just ahead. Soon we were caught in the middle of a fire on both sides. We all kept moving because there was no other choice and no egress. The flames were just feet from our little Datsun, and we stared out in dismay as smoke billowed up.

But our adventures were not over! Oh, no. The gas station we stopped at was robbed while we were getting gas. Then the apartment building we stayed in was robbed in the middle of the night as I peeked through a curtain. NOT TO MENTION, months later a 6.9 EARTHQUAKE (later adjusted to 6.6) was just about the last straw. While the earth shook hard for 55 seconds, the refrigerator was knocked over, depositing its contents on the floor in a magnificent crash, and then righted itself again. It's a wonder any of us got out of that one alive.

By the time I was finished with Los Angeles, I sincerely hoped it was finished with me - I didn't think I could take any more.

But even with all of the adventure, one can't help but look forward to heading south once again. Not because we like freeway kidnappings, or dangerous fires, or robberies or earthquakes. We do not like them. But because in the midst of those possibilities is the probability that we will be squeezed and hugged and loved and adored. The sweetness outweighs the scariness.

All the same, I feel the sudden need for a gas mask and a fire extinguisher. (Perhaps some sort of body armor..?)

See you along the way!
the SconeLady

photo credit: <a href="">Will Hastings</a> via <a href="">photopin</a> <a href="">cc</a>

photo credit: <a href="">Party Stuff by CS</a> via <a href="">photopin</a> <a href="">cc</a>

A Fond Fare-Thee-Well

It was fun, but it was also sad. Family gathered last night to see a sweet sister and her family off, south to another state. Another college will receive the benefit of her expertise, and other family members will be near her, and thankful.

So that is what we were doing last night. Taking the time to say goodbye, to sing, to bring lovely food, and to tell stories. It was just as fun and just as sad as I had thought it would be. 

For now, I will be in her rearview mirror..

We love you, Boo!


Oh What A Gal!
From the tune of "If You Knew Susie" by Eddie Canter
Lyrics by Robin Green

1.  If you knew Barbara..... Like we know Barbara
Oh, Oh, Oh what a gal!
She’s sometimes saucy..... but seldom bossy
Oh, to.... take her place they’ll need a posse.

They really needed Barbara down at COCC
But somehow got the notion that she’d work endlessly
But if they knew Barbara.... Like we know Barbara
Oh, Oh how they’d pay!!

2.  If you knew Barbara..... Like we know Barbara
Oh, Oh, Oh what a gal!
She’s such a blondie, we love her fondly 
Oh, Oh, she’s just like Ma-hat-ma Gandhi.

Her work and patience are oh so easy to see 
And thousands now are crying “What will become of me?!?!” 
Cause without our sister, I’ll tell you mister.
Big gaps they will see!!

3. If you knew Barbara.... Like we know Barbara 
Oh, Oh, Oh what a gal! 
She has great powers, will work for hours 
Oh, without her.... tears will fall like showers

Oregon will soon become a thing of her past 
But surely she will miss us and come visit at last 
If you knew Barbara, like we know Barbara, 
Oh, Oh what a gal!!

 photo credit: <a href="">Images_of_Money</a> via <a href="">photopin</a> <a href="">cc</a>