Thursday, December 23, 2010

2 Days and Counting

Heard in the car today:

"What are you doing?"

"Where are you going?"

"Why are you stopping?"


"Get out of my way..."

"Get your foot off the brake!"

"Who taught you to drive.. my grandmother?"

There were several "sentence enhancers" thrown in for good measure but since I try to keep this family oriented I figured I should leave them out.. no matter how important they were for getting my point across in the moment.

All that drama and the kids weren't even with me.

I shopped more today than I have the entire year put together.

My feet and my sanity paid the price.

But I did have good parking mojo which was fortunate because I made 12 stops which means 12 times I had to enter parking lots that were filled with people who think they can park like the stunt drivers in car commercials. You know the ones.... the car comes careening down the aisle doing about 60, slams on the brakes and does a drifting sideways skid into a spot that someone else was just turning into?
Yeah, those.

But my mojo only worked in the parking lots. Everyplace else, not so much.

I spilled food on myself (now theres a shocker) so I had to keep my heavy sweater on to cover the fact I'm a slob and I about passed out from over heating in one of the stores. I had to buy a lightweight shirt so I could finish shopping.

And then I ended up in Target at the same time that the local "adult day care" facility had a field trip. I was scoping out the toy section when I suddenly found myself the object of attention of one of the field tripees. He was wearing a crash helmet, carrying a teddy bear and smiling like it was Christmas morning. (He was 2 days early).

He introduced himself as Sam and followed me around asking me questions. He told me how pretty I was and wanted to know if I wanted to come back on the bus and have dinner with him.

Right about then his supervisor showed up and herded him back with the others.

After 7 hours of schlepping I finally made it home. Just in time to cook dinner. Lucky me.

Maybe I should have taken Sam up on his offer.

I think I may pass out now.

I still have to wrap everything I bought today and pray that I don't have to go out again tomorrow.

And since the kids can't wrap their own stuff, and wrapping is one of the few things Jeff admits to not being able to do, I'm on my own.

So it's late now and as I sit here sharing the desk chair with Wednesday (she has more of the chair than I do) I realize I better get my self to bed because I have an awful lot of elf duties tomorrow which go beyond wrapping and into cookie baking, mother-in-law entertaining and sanity finding.

I might have trouble with that last one.


Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Way Back Wednesday ~ 1966/67

Yes, the holidays and impending arrival of the Mother-in-law have gotten me way off track. I have barely had a moment to think straight let alone put thoughts together to write.

I've got about 15 minutes to myself right now. The kids are in their room plotting last minute strategies to improve their Christmas morning haul, Jeff is teaching, and grandma is watching Without A Trace in the living room on my spot on the couch.

I figured I would use this Way Back post to feature my first couple of Christmas trees.

My mom has this labeled 1966 and my first Christmas tree.
But I was born in 65 so I'm pretty sure she got the year wrong. Since I don't have any pictures of me by the tree, its all speculation.

This was a real tree and the last real one we would have until my mid teens when I insisted we stop using the old artificial one.

The giant brown teddy bear (which of course) I still have was given to me by my moms mom. Its still in really great shape for its age. I also still have that rag doll with the blue handkerchief on her head. Her name was Tatters. I also really like that cool blue poodle!

This is the next tree in the photo album and it's labeled as 1967 and the other photos with this one have been labeled 66  and 68 so I don't think she knew what year it was really. I assume she did what I have done which is take pictures, not label them then have to figure out when each was taken years later.

This was the first year of the 5 ft Sears tree that should have been the 6 ft model but the wrong one arrived and my parents never bothered to return it. My dad built a big wooden box with an attached stand that we used every year so it would be taller in the living room that had 15 foot high ceilings.

Look this year we finally had drapes in this room!

I got some nice dresses and a darling Kewpie doll that (surprise!) I still have. When I blew up the picture and looked at it real close I see ornaments that I still have too.

I hope you are having a wonderful holiday, no matter what you celebrate.
We finally got a check and I can start Christmas shopping for the kids.
I haven't been kidding all this time when I've said I hadn't bought anything yet.

I'm going to try to post over the next week or so but it might be lean until the first of the year!

Friday, December 17, 2010

What to-do list?

Sometimes life tries to tell you that you are frazzled.

It gives you little hints.

Tonight in the kitchen, for example I couldn't figure out why my electric hand mixer was so freakin' hot.

It might have been that I plugged in the iron by accident.

Maybe I was subliminally thinking about how wrinkled my shirt was when I put it on this morning.

It doesn't help that kids are in such a frenzy over the impending holiday that they are vibrating like jell-o.

Katherine made herself a bracelet out of jingle bells and she was dancing around the house sounding like a deranged reindeer on uppers.

I finally had to confiscate the thing, promising she could have it back for the school party tomorrow.


Even though I got a huge amount done today, I don't feel like I am any farther along on my to-do list.

OK so maybe I don't actually HAVE a to-do list but if I did, there wouldn't be a whole lot crossed off of it.

I did manage to bake cookies for the teacher's gifts. I made spaghetti sauce. I ran another practice for the song the kids are going to be performing on the weekend. (And I hardly yelled at all). I cleaned the huge mess that I made in the kitchen from the aforementioned projects. I cleaned out the litter box. I spot cleaned the carpet in the den. I took a shower and washed my hair.

But I did not decorate the tree (the 5 ornaments hanging on it do not count). I did not make any progress in straightening up the house for the impending mother-in-law visit. I did not clean any of the bathrooms (also in anticipation of said visit).  I did not work on the quilt I want to give Katherine for Christmas. I did not eat within my recommended calorie allotment (see earlier kitchen projects for explanation). I did nothing to better my cardio health, but I haven't done that in the last month so THAT was no surprise. I didn't start wrapping gifts (Oh wait, I haven't bought any yet so I'm off the hook on that one). I didn't find an extension cord for the outside lights. The neighbors are going to think scrooge lives here.

I keep asking myself how I can get so much done and still feel like I accomplished nothing.

Then I remember that I'm a mom and that pretty much explains it all.

Hope the teachers like homemade cookies since it was all I could afford this year.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Way Back Wednesday ~ 1963

The holidays are upon us.
Even if we aren't ready for them to be.
So I thought I would use my next 2 Way Back posts for Christmas pictures.

This set is from 1963 (maybe 64).
My parents are visiting their best friends of the day Don & Jody Remer.
They had a cool little apartment in the heart of Hollywood.
They also had a poodle named Pierre.
Over the years they had several poodles.
Pierre, Pierre II, Pierre III.... You get the idea.

Here are my parents with Don and Pierre who is sporting a handsome Christmas bow.
Don't you love the the silver tree behind them?
And all the cool cards pinned to the vintage curtains?
Love my dad's 50's tie.
I wonder how long it took for my mom to get ready?
That hair style didn't come easy.
She is wearing her mink stole that my dad bought from her from a furrier in Beverly Hills called AJ Lipsey.
It had her name embroidered inside.
I (of course) still have this but unfortunately it didn't fair particularly well through the years and has a split near the top from where it was hanging. I don't really know what to do with it because I would never wear it but it was so special to her that it feels wrong to sell it.

Here are my mom and Jody (and Pierre) holding gifts.
I wonder what's in them? In the first picture my father is holding the gift that Jody is holding here.
If you look closely you can see a rubber fire hydrant under the tree on the left.
Pierre must have been a good boy this year.

My only question is why the photographer felt it necessary to sit on the floor while taking the picture?

Hope your holidays are going well and that Santa is feeling particularly generous this year.
At least that's what Jeffrey said yesterday.

Hand in there..... only 3 more days 'til Friday!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Nintendog Hell

Jeffrey and Katherine are sitting in their room discussing the countdown to Christmas.

I'm sitting in my room trying to think of a way to tell them that Santa had a labor dispute with his reindeer and there is a good chance he might not make it to our house this year.


This has been a week of one crisis after another.  I keep hanging on assuring myself that THAT one was the last one for the week and it can only get better from here.

The universe is laughing at my attempt at humor.

Just a little peace and quiet is all I'm asking for this morning. Just a tiny bit of time that I can take a few deep breaths and try to ready myself for whatever the universe feels like throwing my way next.

Apparently Nintendo has other plans.

Both kids have the game Ninten-dogs which was obviously designed by people who have never matured past 10 years old. It is a game played on the Nintendo handheld game system that allows you to adopt and train your very own puppy. And it has voice recognition so you can teach the little thing its name and make it do tricks and come when you call it etc etc.

Well my children have adopted dogs that listen as well as a 2 year old child.

All that has been seeping through the wall today has been a combination of voices asking, pleading, yelling, demanding and scolding their canine charge to obey them.

"Sit... Sit... Sit... Sit... Sit... Sit..."
"Lay down.... Lay down.... Lay down.... Lay down...."
"Come here.... Come here....Come here.... Come here...."
"Bad dog! NO NO NO NO!!!"

What sadistic game designer thought up this thing?

Finally Katherine decided that her dog was unteachable and erased her file and started over.

I imagine my own life with one of these options.... Hmmmmmm THIS last week hasn't worked out so well... lets go to the menu screen and click "Do-over" and see if I can improve on things.

Don't you wish.

But anyway.....

She chooses a small brown lab as her puppy and proceeds to name it Glob-a.

Jeffrey announces that this is the stupidest name he has ever heard.

"Well I think its a great name."

"Where did you think that up anyway?"

"In my head. Look at him..... Isn't he the cutest little brown puppy you've ever seen?"

"Yeah I guess his name makes sense.... he looks like a brown glob of..."



"Knock it off!"

Lots grumbling..... "Well it sounds like a stupid name to me."

It appears someone isn't thinking of those good deeds and Christmas karma he was talking about earlier in the week.

Less than 2 minutes later, drifting through the wall, the naming ceremony begins to take place.

This is the part of the game where the owner must get the puppy to "learn" its name by repeating it 150 (thousand) times until either a small bell sounds indicating that the process is complete, or the parent who has had to listen to it tosses the game out the window and hopes a car runs over it before the kids can retrieve it.

"Glob-a... Glob-a... Glob-a... Glob-a...
Glob-a... Glob-a... Glob-a... Glob-a...
Glob-a... Glob-a... Glob-a... Glob-a...
Glob-a... Glob-a... Glob-a... Glob-a..."

Over and over in monotone.


"What...? Oh dang now I gotta start over."

No... no really you don't.

I talked her into watching a Christmas special on TV (WAY down the hall) just so I can try to collect my brains that have oozed out my ears and are littered all over the room.

If I make it through this holiday season with my mental state in tact it is going to be a Christmas miracle.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

A Little Slice of Karma

Occasionally Jeffrey comes to me with philosophical musings.
Things that make me wonder myself about the reasons behind the universe.

"Mom is there such a thing as Karma?"

"Some people think so"

'"Well what do YOU think?"

"I think it's important to be good to people and treat them the way you would want to be treated whether or not there is Karma."

"Who is this Karma anyway? And why does she get to decide whether you've been good or not? Is she like God or Santa Claus?" (Jeffrey took it upon himself to decide that Karma was a she.)

"Karma's not a person.. it's a thing."

"Huh? How can a thing make decisions....?"

"Karma is a belief held by many East Indian religions that if you do good deeds, then good things come back to you. And if you do bad things than bad things come back to you."

Long thoughtful pause.

"Do you believe that?"

"I believe that you should always be good to other people and try to do what's right regardless if you get rewarded for it or not."

"Is it bad that I'm trying to be good, you know to "have good Karma" right now so Santa will deliver more gifts on Christmas?"

(Somehow it always comes back to that)

"Well it would be nice if you tried to "have good Karma" all year long. That's what really counts. Doing good things even when you don't have too."

"Thats a lot of work. And what if it doesn't pay off? I mean, what if I do all this good stuff and it doesn't matter in the long run?"

"Then you have the satisfaction of knowing that at least you did the best you could and didn't add bad stuff to the world."

"True." (I could tell he was still unconvinced that the possible merits outweighed all the work involved).

It was about this point that I started wondering. Was there Karma? If there was than I must have really screwed the pooch at some point in the past. But apparently I was asleep when it happened because I could not for the life me think of what I could have done to end up where we are right now.

Oh great.. now I was starting to doubt myself. I felt like I have been a good person. Always trying to do for others.. to be there for my kids, to go out of my way for friends. Obviously those things don't matter.

Life's a bitch (and then you die!). Yup that's the truth. Nothing you do matters in the long run. You're either lucky or you're not. You're either given good breaks or dealt a lousy hand.

HUMPH! We know where I stand!

And as I sank lower and lower into a cascade of negative self talk, suddenly someone wrapped his arms around me and snuggled in for a really meaningful hug.

"I love you mom"

"Well I love you too Jeffrey."

"I just wanted to give you  a hug because you looked sad.
And I wasn't trying to improve my Karma"

He smiled his big goofy smile, hugged me again and bounced off to engage in another epic space battle.

OK, maybe all those good things I do is paying off after all.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Way Back Wednesday ~~ 1965

Welcome to Wednesday!
Today I found some Polaroids from October 1965.
I was 9 months old.

These were taken at the home of Francis Lederer who was an old time actor who started his career in the silent films of the 20's and kept right on going all the way through the 1970's. He died in 2000 at the age of 101.

Here is a cool collectors card I found of him when he was in Return of Dracula in the 50's. He was extremely well received in the role.

He was also famous for the house that he built in Canoga Park at the northern end of the San Fernando Valley.
He started it in 1934 with such care and detail taken in every aspect of it's construction that it was considered landmark quality right from the start.
He imported 14th and 15th century Italian and Spanish museum quality art pieces.
He also built a stable on the grounds that in the 1970's was turned into the Canoga Mission Gallery.
The house was damaged in the Northridge earthquake and is still undergoing renovation. 

My parents were invited to his house and allowed to take photographs, which ended up including me!

This first shot is of a painting by Alonso Cano who was a 17th century Spanish artist.
(Geez, I hope I am not touching it!)

This painting is entitled "The Black Madonna" painted in 1605 by Juan Villa Fono from Peru

And here my mom and I are standing in front of an alter that was brought in from a 17th century Spanish church.

This is in front of a leaded glass window.
The house was built to look as if it were centuries old.

This is a beautiful carved mirror with candlesticks.

And the last picture is of my mom and I sitting on a burlap type couch with ornate crests sewn to the back.
There is a carved Madonna and child marble statue on the table behind the couch.
On the back of the picture my mother noted that the living room we were in measured 35' x 50' and had a gorgeous view from the arched picture windows.

Hope you all have a really great hump day!
See you soon!!

Saturday, December 4, 2010

The Math League

Now I ask you, whose kid shows up to the Math League meeting with no pencil?

Mine of course.

Jeffrey was invited to participate in the 4th grade math league. Which means every two weeks he is given 30 questions which he is supposed to finish in 30 minutes and then the group gets together and talks about the answers for an hour.

For most kids this would seem more like a punishment than an honor and knowing Jeffrey (who hates to sit quietly for any length of time) one would assume he would hate it.

Quite the contrary. He was ecstatic at being able to do math problems that (in his words) weren't boring.
And in my words weren't easy.

I was extremely helpful when he brought me the page to correct. I pointed out an answer that I thought he had done incorrectly and helpfully suggested a different (wrong) answer. It turned out THAT was problem he was called on to explain.

You're welcome son. (OK in my defense I misunderstood the question which is what they wanted you to do and I fell right into their trap).

So we arrived at the first meeting and discovered that no matter how smart you think YOUR kid is, there is always another kid out there who makes yours look like Pee Wee Herman. Which in Jeffrey's case isn't a far stretch since he can do the whole "Tequila" dance with surprising accuracy.

Yes, we are very proud.

There was one little boy (Oliver) who stood up and gave an extremely articulate explanation of how he solved one of the problems.  "I understood that potentially every answer could be correct, but I realized that if I took the first number from the equation and subtracted it from the last number in the equation, then all the other numbers cancelled themselves out, so without having to do much more work I ascertained that the only answer possible had to be 0."

Jeffrey sat nodding away as if he arrived at the answer in exactly the same manner. I happen to know for a fact that when he was working on that particular problem he was using his fingers to count and subtract and it took him the better part of 5 minutes to arrive at the answer. But in his defense, he did get it right.

I think the whole experience will be good for Jeffrey. In much the same way taking karate is good for him. It will teach him to slow down a bit and focus. Something he won't do on his own.

Of course what really made him agree to do the Math League wasn't that he could get together with a bunch of intellectuals twice a month, or that it would look good on his college resume. It was because all the kids who participate get a trophy at the end of the year.

When I asked him if he enjoyed himself and he said it was fun, he immediately followed up with "I AM going to get a trophy for all this right?".

I assured him that no matter how he did, as long as he showed up at the meetings and tried his best he would indeed receive a trophy.

"Well thats good because I wouldn't want to do all this hard work and thinking and have nothing to show for it in the end."

I feel the same way. Where's my trophy?

Thursday, December 2, 2010

The Great Front Seatini Blows a Fuse

Once again the Great Front Seatini is being called upon to see into the future, look into the past, make sense out of the present and in general spout knowledge that no one but she could possibly know. Or want to know, but that's completely beside the point.

"What is it that I can help you with today my son?"

"I was thinking......"

"Uh oh..  I mean go on...."

"I was thinking about how many presents I am going to get for Christmas.
I know the amount I get is based on how good I have been."

"I always thought it was based on how much money we had in the bank... but anyway... go on."

"So I was adding up all sorts of things.
There are 25 days until Christmas and if I do a good deed every day until then that should count for something.
But then I was also thinking that there may have been a few times that I wasn't so good."

(Do tell)

"Like there might have been once or twice that I wasn't as nice to Katherine as I could have been"

"Really, only once or twice?"

"Then there was those few times I didn't clean my room up when you told me too."

"Just a few huh?"

"So can you help me with the math?"

"Is this regular 1 + 1 stuff or the new math?"

"If I am good for 25 days, then take off maybe 3 or 4 days from the past that I wasnt so good..."

"I see you are being rather generous to yourself..."

"Then I take into account how much I WANT to be good and multiply those days by that.... then maybe I can do some extra credit on a few days too... and add those in... and I know you have to pay Santa for the gifts so I wouldn't want you to have to spend too much.... so maybe we could divide all this by some number to take into account how much it all costs and then I wanted to add in the number of gifts that Katherine and I get as joint gifts because those count too.
So if you do all that, how many gifts do you think I'm going to get for Christmas?"

We're sorry the Great Front Seatini has blown a fuse and must close for repairs.
Please try back in 24 hours to see if the circuits have reset themselves.
Thank you for your patronage.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Way Back Wednesday ~~ 1958

This is my mom in the late 1950's when she and my dad started one of the first fake fingernail companies.
I still have a box of this somewhere (or at least I think I do). Of course none of the components would be good anymore. Probably most of them are evaporated or congealed. This was a real do-it-yourself kit where you had to mix all the chemicals together correctly then shape the aluminum form around your nail and finally paint the mixture onto the form and let it dry. In my wildest dreams I don't think I could accomplish this with any degree of accuracy. It would just end up a mess.  (But then again, this IS me we are talking about.)

I love the costume jewelry my mom has on. I still have the watch she is wearing in my jewelry box and it actually works. It barely fits around my wrist which even at my thinnest are much bigger than my moms. I do hope to wear it comfortably one day soon.

The photo was taken by a famous Hollywood Glamour photographer named John E Reed. He did a lot of shots for up and coming starlets. I'm sure he and my dad worked together at some point. This is a picture of his studio where the photo was taken which was on the north side of Sunset Blvd near Highland in Hollywood. Not too far from where I went to high school.

Hope you all have a great Wednesday... we're half way to Friday which is plus no matter how you look at it!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Family Ramblings


A word with so many different meanings to so many different people it's hard to know where to start.

I have always had mixed emotions about family since I was old enough to feel like I didn't know where I belonged.

I was given up for adoption at birth and found my way to my parents when I was about 6 weeks old. I have no idea where I was in those 6 weeks and since I can't quite recall back that far it will remain a mystery.

I always knew I was adopted and that fact didn't bother me. It was the fact that I grew up as an only child with eccentric parents that drove me a bit nuts.

I hated being an only child more than I hated anything else. I had scores of cousins and they all had several siblings. I felt very left out. I used to beg my parents to adopt another kid and I even remember them going to the adoption agency once where I got to stay in a room full of toys while they went to a meeting. But nothing ever came of it. So I remained alone, growing up in a rambling 1920's Spanish "mansion" (as my friends called it) in the Hollywood Hills.

I didn't want to live in an out-of-the-ordinary house. I wanted to live in a normal house. And have normal parents who had normal jobs. As much fun as it was to get to meet stars and go to the studios it made me feel like an outsider because everyone thought it was so special. And my mom always wanted everyone to think it WAS so special. I think some of their own families resented them for the appearances my mom put on. Everyone thought we were rich because of how the house looked and the jobs they had. But the truth was, my mom was tighter than scrooge. I wasn't allowed to get a drink when we went out to eat because water was fine (and free). I couldn't buy the cereal I wanted because it 25¢ more than the other kind. And more than once I got a used toy wrapped up for Christmas. The house fell deeply into disrepair as I grew up because neither of my parents wanted to spend real money to get it fixed. So everything was done as cheaply as possible which meant it rarely lasted. My mom had the carpet pulled up sometime around 1980 and it was never replaced until Jeff and I moved in and did it ourselves 25 years later.

I loved my parents.. a lot. But growing up with them was quite an experience. They worked a lot so I was alone a lot. This is probably the main reason I grew up and had 5 kids (then adopted one more). Then got 2 step kids. I wanted to be surrounded by people because I hated empty houses. ( I think I cured myself of that.. quiet is now a rare commodity in my life and I have come to enjoy it).

And what did I learn from all this as my own children grew into adults? That no family is a normal family. All those families out there that seemed so perfect and ideal to me turned out to have problems of their own. Most worse than mine. My lament of wanting to "just be normal" was just a charade. There is no normal because being normal is extremely subjective.

I eventually found and located my birth parents. My birth dad was very happy that I found him and for a few years we were actually quite close. I also found siblings that I didn't know I had.  My birth mom on the other hand wanted nothing to do with me. That was a hard one to swallow but its been 19 years since then and I live with it. But I also discovered those families didn't fit into the "normal" range either. And I also realized blood doesn't make family. The people who raise you and are there for you and love you no matter what are your family. I wish my parents were still alive so I could tell them that. I think my search for my biological roots hurt them more than I ever understood while I was doing it. And I regret not waiting until they were both gone before I undertook that journey.

I guess the holidays bring out the need to reminisce. I am sadder than usual this year because the older kids are spread out all over creation with no hope of getting to see them anytime soon. I always had this dream of having my family grow up and live close so we could visit each other on the weekends and I could babysit and spoil my grand kids (often). I guess there is always hope that it will still happen.... that the older kids will move back and the younger ones will grow up and stay close.

Again, I'm always reaching for that elusive "normalcy". That which it seems everyone else but me has.

But when I think about it, I guess that desire in and of it itself falls within the realm of being normal.

What do you know... I'm not that far off after all.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Way Back Disney Sunday ~~ 1969

Well the holidays got the better of me and I have been absent all week.
I was going to go back and post a Way Back Wednesday post but decided I would just combine my weekly posts into one.

So here I am in February 1969 for my 4th birthday at Disneyland (Yes I was born in January but better late than never). This was my very first trip to the Happiest Place on Earth.

I don't know any of the ladies in this pictures, they were simply horning in on my big moment with Dopey.

Even more dwarfs!
Happy and Bashful is my guess.
I really loved that sweater I'm wearing.
I had quite the fashion sense even back then. (No really, don't you think?)

And the last one is me with Pinocchio.
No one to steal my moment, only a couple of kids hanging out in the background and a disembodied hand off to the right.
The rental strollers weren't much different then my own stroller from my childhood.
I'm guessing this is outside Sleeping Beauty's Castle.

Not a lot else to say about these pictures.
I REALLY wish my parents had taken more shots so I could remember this day better but I believe these were taken with the old Polaroid my dad owned and if I remember correctly it was real pain to work.

Hope you all had a great Thanksgiving and your turkey didn't get too trampled by the incoming reindeer who are now fee to frolic unimpeded by superfluous holidays who get in the way.

Have a great day everyone!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Charlie's Angels

Once upon a time there were 3 little girls who went to the police academy.

And there was one little girl who stayed up way past her bedtime just so she could watch them.

This show was an huge part of my life. I have no idea why I became so obsessed with it but you would have thought I was a teenage boy.

I could barely stand the anticipation waiting for Wednesday so I could see what peril the Angels got into next.

The night would start off pretty good, with the 8PM airing of Bionic Woman which was especially good when Jamie got Max the bionic German shepherd. But then there was a lull when Baretta came on. It was sort of OK because I liked his bird but overall it was just filler and I would watch the clock and count the commercials until the the real reason I was up so late would come on.

I wanted to be exactly like them. They were thin, had beautiful faces, and gorgeous hair. I thought I was fat, not so pretty and was sorely in need of some professional hair help. They also had cool clothes and weren't afraid of anything. I had dorky clothes and was scared of everything.

It was escapism. Pure and simple. I recently watched a few episodes of the first season and aside from the nostalgia there wasn't a whole lot to get excited about. But I was 12 when I first started watching the show so I wasn't exactly a connoisseur of good TV. I was a huge fan of Love Boat too so that should put it in perspective.

But no matter what I think of it now, back then it was a very important part of my life. It was one of those things that I looked forward to and gave me a giant amount of pleasure. In some respect though I think it gave me unrealistic goals. No matter how thin I got I could never be as small as any of them. It wasn't my body type. I run towards the athletic build which in my mind as a young teen meant I was fat. Now I'm glad I carry more muscle but back then it seemed like a curse.

Because my dad worked for CBS and did a lot of freelance work for movies, commercials and anything else he was asked to do, he could often call in favors. The biggest favor he ever called in was getting me onto the set to meet the cast. I don't think I was ever as excited to meet anyone in my life.

I can still remember exactly what the set looked like and how I felt when we went in. I got to watch them film a scene in their office and I got a huge kick out of watching Bosley and Sabrina sit on the set in full makeup and costume in front of the camera while Jill and Kelly sat off to the side reading their lines while they were robes and had their hair up in towels. Later that afternoon they switched places to film the same scene from a different angle and it was Jill and Kelly sitting all done up while the other two had changed into more comfortable clothes.

I remember meeting Farrah Fawcett and realizing not only was she barely as tall as I was (and I'm a shorty) but she couldn't have weighed more than 100 pounds soaking wet. She was SO tiny. Her hair was the biggest thing about her.

Kate Jackson was very nice to me and shook my hand and told me how great it was that I was a fan. But by far the nicest of them was Jaclyn Smith. She put her arm around me and took me back to her trailer where we took pictures together and she sat down and talked with me. She told me twice she thought I was such a pretty girl and for me at the time I was over the moon. I don't think I stopped smiling for a week.

Unfortunately my parents were never big on photographs so the I only have a few from my visit and Jaclyn was the only one I took a picture with. I have all their autographs and I would have liked to have scanned them and posted them but I'm a bit at a loss as to which memory box they are in.

No matter though. It was such a dream come true for me at that age and truly happy memory that still makes me smile to this day.

It occurred to me if I really looked into it I could probably figure out which episode they were filming that day by looking for the outfit she was wearing in this picture.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Way Back Wednesday ~ 1960

This is a picture of my dad appearing on The Red Rowe show which ran on CBS from 1959 to 1960.
My dad was huge collector of antiques and some of his favorites were these old Edison phonograph players from the turn of the century. 
He was invited on the show to demonstrate two of his machines which were in pristine condition.
The one on the left has a built in speaker horn under the player and the one on the right has the horn taken off on the counter next to it.
These play old Edison wax cylinder records which he had in the case in the middle.
I eventually sold these machines some years back and they each went for well over $1000. 
I still have several boxes of the wax records.
They are also highly collectible, especially the politically incorrect ones.
Did you notice the huge microphone hanging above their heads? 
It looks like a giant ray gun ready to disintegrate my dad's head.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Never give up.... Never Surrender

You're never too old to try something new.

So say those who are in shape, coordinated and have no shame what-so-ever when it comes to embarrassing oneself.

My overachiever husband, who excels at anything and everything he tries is a 2nd degree black belt in traditional Japanese Karate.

He has a certain sense of style and perfection that he strives for in all the things that he does so he makes it all look so easy.

For years I have wanted to join him at the dojo, but there have always been parental duties that I had to attend to at the times he trained.

My kids have all done karate, some quitting after a few years, others going all the way to black belt. Jeffrey and Katherine train twice a week and Alex goes on Saturday mornings.

Currently Jeff trains 5 days a week and teaches several of those days.

Last week he came home and announced that he would be teaching a beginners class at 9 AM Mondays and Wednesdays and I would finally get my wish to learn the art of self defense.


I was going to get my chance to show everyone how easily and efficiently I could learn something new.

People would look at me in awe.

"You've never done this before?"

"That's amazing how quickly you learn and with such skill and perfection, too."

"You're a complete natural."

Yes, I was going to take the karate world by storm. I would get my black belt faster than anyone who came before me and I would be a force to be reckoned with.

I should have gotten a clue as to how my introduction into the world of marital arts was going to go when I discovered my Gi pants wouldn't stay up as I walked.

And the fact that Jeff had to keep saying  "No, your OTHER left hand..... the other one.... the one that's not your right...."

And then today I got sent to the corner to practice blocking and punching while my classmate got to move on to learn a new kicking routine.

Clearly my brain was writing checks that my body couldn't cash. I mean I TRIED to cash them... but they bounced. The truth is that the 3 year old pee-wees look better at this than I do.

But I am determined to use this as a learning experience. I will not quit no matter how embarrassing it is or how much I look like a fish trying to ride a bike. I have usually given up on things in the past that required too much time in the "newbie" phase. If I couldn't do it correctly right off the bat (and look good doing so), then I was through.

I know that's not how you go about learning and growing. If I only work on the things that I am good at from the start than I guess I won't be working on many new things.

Jeff has a shirt with a saying that suddenly has much more depth of meaning than when I first read it:

A black belt is white belt that never gives up.

And I promise to keep saying that as I fall over while trying kick and whack myself in the face while trying to block. It doesn't matter what I look like doing it, as long as I just keep doing it.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Captain Mom

Sometimes the backseat is in a completely different dimension than the front seat.

Driving along on what seemed like a perfectly ordinary day, suddenly out of nowhere I hear:

"Self destruct in:




"What's going on?"

"Self destruct mode has been activated"

"Yes. I got that............. but why?"

"The aliens are closing in and they cannot be allowed to intercept our technology."


I had no idea that a Honda van was so valuable to other civilizations.



"Why can't you just jump to lightspeed?

Am I having this conversation?

"The jump engines are malfunctioning"

Yes I thought I felt something a bit off when I turned the corner back there.

"OH and you can't fix them?"

"Not in time to save the technology from the aliens.
Self destruct is the only option"

Unfortunate for those of us that didn't make it to the escape pods.



"Can I finish? We're almost to the market and I want to get this over with before we get there."

"What if some of  us aren't ready to give our life in the line of duty?"

"This is the price you pay when you are a starship captain on a dangerous mission through the universe."

See and here I thought I was just a run of the mill mom on her way to get groceries.
I learn something new every day.

I found a recent picture of me in my Spaceship Captains suit with my totally awesome ray gun.
Maybe this isn't so bad after all!!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Knaggs Berry Towne

On Wednesday I mentioned my parents property on Ventura Blvd in Studio City called Knaggs Berry Towne.
My parents bought it in the late 1960's.

It was a small motel probably from the 1940's that had about 8 units each with a double car garage where you could park your car and on the right front corner there was a gas station.

My dad networked with all the prop people he knew until he got together enough wood and facade materials to turn the entire thing into an old western town.

They rented out each renovated motel room to small store owners who sold everything from hand made crafts to old books to small bakery items. The front store on the left was my parents antique store and the old gas station was turned into a hamburger stand called "Billy Goodins".
They also rented it out as locations for movies, TV shows and once for a Playboy photoshoot.

It thrived for several years until they got a few bad tenants and they got tired of hassling with them to pay the rent and keep the place clean. There was also small deli in the back that apparently was selling more than just sandwiches and got shut down by the police.

They closed it down in the mid 1970's and it sat unused for the next 20+ years except for the old hamburger stand that got walled in and made into a Thai food restaurant called the "Thai Spoon".

This place was a huge part of childhood and I have mixed feelings about it.
I spent so many hours there, alone, while my parents worked on it.
I used to watch old game shows on a little black and white TV they kept upstairs above the general store in a small room that was always hotter than Hades because it was uninsulated.
But downstairs they had an old fashioned glass candy counter and I always got to choose a few pieces of candy to take upstairs with me... and we know how great that is for a kid.

I came across some pictures recently....

Here is a shot from across the street

This is the front sign

This is my parents antique shop the called "The Antiquest".
Somewhere I have a close up of the painted sign on the roof line.
Its a mermaid and I have no idea how that relates to antiques, but I guess it made sense to them.

This was one of the old motel units made over into shops. Actually when I look closer, it was one of the car ports that was transformed into 2 plain stores. The motel units actually had a bathroom and shared a small kitchen between them.

This was the "Star General Store" that my parents ran.
It was a popular place for the kids of the day to stop by on the way home from school and buy sweets from the giant glass candy counter in the back.
In it's heyday there were display pieces in those upper windows.

Here the Towne is making a cameo appearance on Emergency.
The firemen are going into "Oil Can Harry's" which was a gay bar and I can proudly say that was where I had my 6th birthday party. Surprisingly every one my kindergarten class showed up.
Yeah my parents were a bit ahead of their time. 

One thing I forgot to mention is that when my parents bought the place it came with an old lady who lived in the very back unit and refused to move. Her name was Irene and she was well into her 80's or older. My parents let her live there rent free for years. She smoked like a chimney and mostly sat in the room (which only had one window in the kitchen) and listened to the radio. As a kid I always felt sorry for her that she was alone. She had no family we knew of. Eventually my parents talked her into moving into an old age home (they paid for it) and it totally transformed her life. We went by to visit her a couple times a month and she was always playing the piano or socializing with the other people. She eventually died but I was happy that the last years of her life she had people around and seemed genuinely happy.

These next pictures are when the shops were done up for a movie that was shot there in about 1972 called "The Christmas Visit".

It starred Marty Allen who was a Christmas Elf trying to help a little boy learn about the magic of Christmas.
A really original theme.
It was made for TV and I believe that you can still buy it on Amazon.

Because my parents were always looking for an opportunity to push me into the spotlight, they got the director to let me be in the parts of the movie that was shot here.

This is a long shot from the sidewalk.
That plastic snow got everywhere and literally years later we were still finding it under stairs and in cracks.

They brought in a horse and buggy which I loved

Some more crew shots

And there's me,  right in the middle, overdressed in the fancy bonnet, red velvet coat and mink muff (I was supposed to be an urchin but apparently it paid better for me than the others).
This was my mom's way of making sure I was seen.

And the piece de resistance was having a bunch of publicity shots taken with the two stars of the show.
Of course my mom showed the photos to everyone and told them how I starred in a movie and she had the pictures to prove it.
Updated to add that the boy (Billy Simpson) who actually starred in the movie found me a Facebook and gave me a copy of the movie so I was able to watch my stellar performance for the first time! It was a real treat I have to say.

So there was my 15 minutes of fame.
Even if it was mostly fabricated.

I guess no one can say I didn't have an interesting childhood.

Jeff and I finally sold the place awhile back and unfortunately it was in such disrepair that the people who bought it tore it all down except the Antiquest building which last time I drove past, was the office for the used car lot that they put there.

It feels a little like a movie where you can see what used to be there in flashbacks but when you look at what it is now, it's very surreal and you can't quite get your head around the fact that it's all gone.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

My Dad's Navy Days

I thought I would commemorate Veteran's Day with a few of my dad's pictures from his tour with the Navy.
He was a communications specialist and served at the end of WWII with the Naval Air Technical Training Center in Memphis.

Here he is (on the right) with a couple of his buddies.

And here he is (far right bottom row) with the men he served with.
ARM AR-26 Sec. H

And this last one is a postcard with a photobooth picture slid inside that he sent home thanking the "Folks" (as he called them) for the candy they sent.
He had a real sweet tooth!

Thank you for serving Dad.
And thank you to all who have and are serving to this day.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Way Back Wednesday ~~ 1971

Today we venture back to my 6th birthday party.
My parents owned what was originally an old motel on Ventura Blvd in Studio City.
They fixed it up to look like an old western town and called in Knaggs Berry Town.
(Their last name was Knaggs, it was on Berry drive and it was supposed to be a town).
Across the street from it was a gay bar called Oil Can Harry's.
My parents became very good friends with Bert the owner.

He was a wonderful man and when my parents were looking for a place to have my 6th birthday he offered the use of his main dance floor. The whole place was only open after 8 at night.

My parents, ever mindful of saving money thought it was a wonderful idea so out went the party invitations inviting a bunch of kindergardeners to a fun filled afternoon at the local (gay) watering hole. Apparently not many people were bothered by it because most of my classmates showed up.

The first picture is me on the pool table. It looks like Ive been having a good time already because my stockings were filthy!

The next 2 pictures are of the piƱata portion of the program.
The first one is me having a go at the parrot.
And there's my dad with his usual cigarette.
You can also see ALL the way on the right the Pin the Tail on the Donkey poster.
I think I cheated when I played so I could win.
I'm glad I developed a sense of ethics as I got older because I don't think I had any at this age.

This next picture shows my mom placing the blindfold on a little boy whose name I do not remember.
I do remember that he had a lot of really cool red hair and freckles.
You can't see me in this picture but I CAN see Sally who is still my best friend to this day.
As crazy as it sounds, I still have that skirt that my mom is wearing.
 (I think it's the same one that she is wearing in my first WayBackWed post?)
Don't you just dig that retro yellow daisy wallpaper in the background?
And those pink and blue doors were the bathrooms.

I have a whole tray of slides from this day and I think I may break them out soon and show them to my kids.
They may need some color fixing if I go to develop them but showing them on a big screen in the living room sounds like a lot of fun. 
Now if I just find a slide projector that actually works!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The Countdown Begins

We have entered the month of Jeffrey's birth.
Exactly 21 more days to be precise.

Which is followed 25 days later by Christmas.

Given this chain of events.. I do not think Jeffrey will not stop vibrating until sometime mid-January.

We stopped in at "Toys R Us" recently and came home with a holiday catalog. If he spent as much time and depth of focus on his schoolwork as he does on this book, he would be graduating high school next spring.

He has a detailed list outlining his wants and desires. I think we are on the 7th or 8th revision (so far this week).

And since we have previously determined that Jeffrey has no internal dialog, I hear about what he wants, why he wants it and how it will improve his life if he gets it at any point there is dead air space. Which includes car rides, moments between swallowing and taking another bite at dinner, the 1.2 seconds between commercials and the time between my closing the bathroom door and the sound of the flushing toilet. He finds standing in my bedroom pretending to be talking to himself while I am otherwise occupied an opportune moment to get the maximum amount of air time for "Jeffrey's Wheel.............. of................. Desire"

High on his list are Star Wars Lego sets, video games (the titles of which change daily), Bey blades (I gotta look these up since I am unfamiliar with them), tech decks (I thought he'd had these before and didn't play with them but I have been informed I am mistaken on this fact...) and any kind of "sience (I forgot how to spell it)" equipment like microscopes or kits to grow things like bacteria or mold or crystals.

I told him thats what refrigerators were for but he didn't seem to think that was a reasonable substitute.
Well I tried.

"Whatever you can't afford to get me for my birthday, I will put on Santa's list and he can get it for me for Christmas."

Yeah I wished it worked that way. I have always told my kids that Santa sends a bill after Christmas and we parents have to pay Santa back for all the toys he brings and that's why they couldn't get really expensive toys just for the asking. I mean Santa has to pay his elves and feed his reindeer right? And what about the electric and gas bill? It's gotta cost a fortune to heat that place of his. He does us parents a favor by gathering the toys and delivering them but we still gotta pay. It is after all the real world.

And because you were wondering, YES my going on 10 year old still firmly believes in Santa. If he asked me outright I would probably own up to the truth but the real truth is that since he is my last little guy (in a long line of those who came before him) I enjoy that he still holds onto the magic. At least one more year.

Kids in his class have been telling him that there is no Santa since 2nd grade but he tells me these kids have no idea what they are talking about and he refuses to pay any attention to their deluded ramblings.

So for the next 46 days there will not be many peaceful or quiet moments but looking at the spark of happiness and anticipation in his eyes, I guess it will all be worth it.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Way Back Wednesday ~~ 1948

Today we take you back to the mid to late1940's.
The date is approximate but I know my dad was somewhere in his 20's when he worked here so we are settling on 1948.
Both of these were taken when he was managing a King Cole grocery store  (The Friendly Place) which was either in Oklahoma or Texas. Judging by the products I would say this was around Christmas time.

The first pic he is putting a display together (a carload sale) and holding Softasilk which was a cake mix that had cornstarch added to it. And you could buy it for the bargain basement price of 37¢ each.
Unfortunately everything else is a bit too blurry and even blown up in photoshop I cant make out the names of the other products. But they were all pretty cheap.

In this second picture my dad is hanging up candy canes which could be yours for just 10¢ each. FOr some reason this seems pricey to me considering the prices of the boxed goods. 
The other things for sale include K's Grapeade (It's refreshing!), Lady's sliced Cranberry Sauce, Teaser's Popped Corn and Libby's Tomato Juice which is priced at 27¢ each.

Gotta love that tie my dad is wearing!

I have a couple of other pictures of his time in the store but I will save them for another time.

See you soon!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Science Fiction Double Feature...

Doctor X will build a creature
See Androids fighting, Brad and Janet
Anne Francis stars in Forbidden Planet
oh oh oh oh
At the late night
double feature picture show.....

Jeffrey is his own foley artist. Providing his own sound effects for the ongoing back seat space battles, hallway  lightsaber skirmishes and dining table robot attacks.

I constantly feel as if I am in a Saturday afternoon double feature.

And when he isn't creating the action, he is out looking for ideas for his next blockbuster.

This morning we were waiting to make that famous final turn to drop Alex off at school and an Aston Martin DB9 pulled up along side of us. This is an awesomely expensive car. Alex immediately smashed his face into the window trying to get a closer look.  I asked him to please wipe the drool off the glass when he was finished.

And who was driving this $200,000 machine? A kid not much older than Alex. Granted the dad, all decked out in a 3 piece suit and tie was in the passenger seat, but I can guarantee you that if Jeff owned that car no one in the house would be allowed within 50 feet of it, let alone sit behind the wheel or (good lord!) drive it!

After the specs on the Aston were thoroughly discussed by the older boys in the car (Jeff & Alex),  the talk shifted to the Bugatti Veyron, discussing it's nuances much the same way some guys throw around sports statics. Jeff was saying that when you stepped on the gas of the Veyron you had better have a long straight road in front of you for at least a good mile.

Jeffrey immediately had to know why.

Jeff told him it was because its such a powerful car and it could get going so fast, so quickly, that it might not be able to stop if something suddenly got in its way.

"And then it would explode?"

"Explode? I don't know if it would explode. My point was that its a very fast car."

"Like a spaceship?"

"Sure like a spaceship..."

"A spaceship would explode if it ran into something."

"Well yes, it might."

"Anything would explode if it ran into something."

In Jeffrey's world, this is an undisputed truth.
Because without explosions his world would be a quiet boring place.
And my afternoons would be more like the Soap network instead of the Sy-Fy channel and I don't think I would enjoy that nearly as much.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Way Back Wednesday - 1968/69

Today I have 2 pictures that are both taken in the same place 1 year apart.

The first one is in 1968 and I am 3 years old and dressed in more that I usually wore at this age which was usually just some panties.
This is in the living room of my parents 1926 Spanish style house in the Hollywood Hills.
Isn't that the greatest piano you have ever seen?
It is a late 1800's Knabe & Co square grand piano. Very hard to find nowadays. 
So many things in this picture that my mom loved.
First was the antique marble cherub lamp which you can see better in the picture below.
I was quite sad to finally part with this some years back but I just didn't have a place for it.
You can't see it too well but on the right side of the piano is an antique music box. I used to adore having my mom wind it up for me so I could listen to all the different songs it played.
I still have the brass butterfly thats on top of it.
The picture on the wall is of a little song bird watching a bee on a flower. I think that picture is still in storage.
The old sheet music is really neat too. Nice examples can go for quite a bit of money.
Next to me on the piano bench is a rubber horse made by Edward Mobley that I still have in my baby trunk. 
I have 2 matching pieces by the same maker. A teddy bear with fuzzy ears and a dog. I collected a 4th similar piece a few years back off eBay.

This picture was taken in 1969 and I was 4 years old here.
Notice I have the same basic outfit as the previous picture except this time I am sporting a long black wig. The wig belonged to the lady sitting in the chair in the right hand corner. Her name escapes me at this moment but she lived in the back apartment (more like a bedroom with a small kitchenette) for a year or two. I used to beg to wear that wig and wanted to grow my hair that long. When I look back I think it might have been so I could continue not wearing any clothes as I grew older and my long hair would cover up the important parts.
My moms other child, oh wait.... I mean her dog is laying on the top of the chair. That was Lo-sten. (My mom loved Asian culture and names).
Not much different in the background of this picture except that the piano bench is gone and a velvet loveseat has taken its place.
You can see the wallpaper in the stairwell behind the piano. It was gold with flocked green leaves. My mom was forever telling me not to run my hands along the wall so I didn't rub the flocking off.

So thats that for this week. Just me and my exhibitionism.
Going to school finally cured me but not for lack of trying.
I remember the first week of school I begged my mom to let me go in just my undies. I even tried to strike a deal where I asked if they would allow me 2 days a week in my skivvies then I would wear clothes all the other times.

No such luck.