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August 2015

Confidential to R in Colorado

Remember newspaper advice columns? (Remember newspapers?)

I used to skim the crossword/horoscope/advice column pages when I was a kid and always was intrigued when in the Dear Abby or Ann Landers section there was a short paragraph that was titled "Confidential to M in Peoria" or some such. There would be no question printed, simply a brief sentence or two: "tell him no and move on" or "if she asks, then you'll know, but wait till she asks."

I was always fascinated by these - What could the question be? Was it so racy that it couldn't be printed? And if so, oooooh! But much later I wondered, why bother putting that in your column when it doesn't actually help anyone but that specific person? If the advice giver-feels so strongly about it, why not just write back to the person directly? No need to waste column space! It never made sense.

But then newspapers started dying out and advice columns got much more direct. Savage Love, anyone? I was in a bookstore, years ago (remember book stores?), browsing books before seeing a movie* and saw the title "Savage Love" which I thought sounded like a great summer pulp fiction novel so I picked it up. Then I saw the full title: Savage Love - Straight Answers from America's Most Popular Sex Columnist. Well now this was even more intriguing! So I started reading bits and pieces and Wow! This was not your mother's advice column. I was amazed at the the straightforward, tell it like it is, no holds barred thoughts coming from this awesome man. Nothing was confidential any more.

Having only heard of the two above mentioned professional advice givers before then, this was a revelation! I started reading Dan regularly online after that and still just love him to this day. Santorum, anyone?

Back to my title: Confidential to R in Colorado. There is no question to print, simply a response: Thanks for the ass-kicking support that has helped me get back to my early morning writing habit.


 *The bookstore was Brentano's in the Century City mall before the big remodel. I have so many fond memories of Sunday mornings, going to the movies, but stopping in Brentano's first to buy books before worshiping at the church of Cinema. When the Landmark Theaters came into the Westside Pavilion, there was a Barnes and Noble right next door. Perfect combo! Buy movie ticket, shop for books, see movie. No better way to spend an afternoon or evening. But alas, that bookstore is gone now too.

Misty Watercolor Memories...Then Pele Burned Them To The Ground!

This bad boy is parked in our neighborhood and it instantly brings me back to fun summer times on the Big Island.


My parents were divorced so in the summers I would visit my dad, stepmom and two older sisters. One summer we rented one of these Tioga RVs (not sure what the actual model was, but this seems close) and toured Volcano.

In my small kid memory we spent a week, but in reality it must have have been about 3 nights or so? Someone older than me is going to have to help me fill in the blanks! Also, I can't remember, did we do this one time or multiple times? I remember Jen being there but then I remember her not being there. (She didn't always come in the summers - long story on how my nuclear family breaks down.)

Anyway! The point is - happy memories. Kilauea caldera, Kilauea Iki, Chain of Craters road, Queen's Bath (Rest in Peace!), Kalapana black sand beach, bird park and of course Thurston Lava Tube. Night times were filled with eating at pic-nic tables and singing John Denver songs to Dor's guitar.

My dad had hearing loss/damage from work he did in WWII (This is my understanding, of course I could be mistaken). He used hearing aids, but still had issues with hearing. Most times I think he had issues with paying attention, but that's another theory... Dad's lack of hearing was just another aspect of him, like he wore glasses and was a good swimmer. But I never really got what his hearing loss was like until one day on this trip we went to Kipuka Puaulu (Bird Park) to walk the mile loop trail. Dad, in his tour guide way, announced that on this trail we would hear a lot of birds singing and that many were endangered native birds of Hawai'i. At some point on our walk Dad said something like "Wow, there really aren't many birds in here at all." I remember someone saying "There are tons of birds singing" I was thinking the same thing. And it dawned on me that Dad couldn't hear them at all and that made me sad for him.

Black Sand Beach was a great local stop for us to get out of the RV and go body surfing and swimming. Queens Bath was the same, but more magical as it really felt like a place Pele built especially. Sadly, both are gone. Queen's Bath in 1987 and Kalapana Black Sand beach in 1990. Pele clearly needed to start over.


Look how enchanted this spot was. I'm so sad I can't take Harper there.


But the best memory of all was having Lucy along for all the fun. She walked the trails with us and body surfed at Black Sand Beach (She really did!) and swam in Queen's Bath. Mostly though, she hogged the front seat of the Tioga. I miss that Lucy, she was one in a million.


I think fondly of the RV trip (trips?) and actually fantasize about doing our own some day. But oooh, it will be so much easier with just the three of us!

Getting Up Early To Write - 2015 Edition

For one reason or another, I've gotten behind on my early morning writing. So this my transition week to get my momentum going again. Waking up pre-dawn* has been a little tough, but not bad. I've had years of training and I'm not talking about Harper.

In college I rowed on the crew team and learned to get up in the dark and get moving quickly. If you hesitate, you are done, asleep again until it's light out. Back then you did have the safety of roommates who would roust you if you fell back to sleep. But now I have the motivation of middle age. "Do you want to accomplish something more? Then GET UP AND WRITE!" is the voice in my head.

I am also very lucky to have the ability to wake myself up without an alarm. When I go to bed I'll tell myself "Wake up at 5:30" and I always do. Though usually I wake up around 5:15. This is the danger time - I can't just "close my eyes for five minutes" because I might be asleep again for another hour. I tend to just get up at that point.

The cats get excited when I get up, but are then disappointed that I don't open the door for them. (I don't open the back door because it's right by Harper's room and shares the wall with her bed and I need her to sleep as long as possible while I'm writing.) Except Dynamo sometimes pushes his luck. I'll sit for a few minutes, getting the blog set up, waiting for the coffee to brew. Then I'll get up for a cup, turn and see this:


Dammit Dynamo!

Dynamo is not a small cat and not easily nudged from a spot. But nudge him I do so I can get on with the business at hand.


*Fun fact: Dawn is not sunrise. I learned this from working on a movie. The opening scene took place at dawn and we learned that dawn is "the first appearance of light in the sky before sunrise." So the opening scene looked like this:


Watch the whole opening sequence here. It's really good and I want you know that except for the interior helicopter shots with Jamie Foxx, the whole scene/city/everything is fake, CG, visual effects. Full credit to Luxx Studios in Germany for that job. Also, the movie is pretty fun. But I digress.

So learning about dawn was three years ago. But it took me until just recently, and listening to that damn Elsa Letting It Go that I realized what the term "break of dawn" means.


Dawn=first light

Sunrise=sun above the horizon.

So the sun coming up is what breaks dawn. Need a graphic? Here you go:




I love words and wordplay!

Toddler Fashions

Harper can now dress herself fully - pulling a shirt over her head in the correct direction was the last hurdle - and prefers to choose her own clothes. I say AWESOME! Sometimes the results are striking. Here are some samples with my best Project Runway critique.

This ensemble is quite nice, though at first I thought pink and orange might be a bit much. But the pink of the leggings plays off the pink in the t-shirt. The shoes seem a bit formal for the look, but still within the color scheme.


There is a lot going on here. Spiderman AND Hello Kitty together? Not sure about that. But Nina might say it's a very editorial look. Heidi might say it's very Japanese street fashion.


Now this outfit is my favorite simply for the sock position alone. She puts them that high and if you try to soften them down a bit, she gets peeved and pulls them back up. Hard. (The facial expression and pose slay me as well.)


The next one is a dress I got Harper in Hawaii last year. It finally fits so I put it on her and she liked it. For five minutes. Then she went about restyling it to make it her own.

Fashionista4 Fashionista4a

Harper's First Existential Question

Harper asked me an existential question the other day. She didn't realize it, of course.

We were driving along, listening to the soundtrack of this little indie film called "Frozen" - have you heard of it? We were listening to the showstopper (and my personal favorite) Let It Go and Harper asked:

Mama, why does Elsa throw her crown away?

ElsaCrownIf you haven't seen the movie, (and I really assume most of you haven't) the quick recap is: Elsa is born with magical powers to create ice and snow. She accidentally hurt her younger sister Anna when they were little and has spent rest of her childhood hiding her powers (and her feelings, which express themselves with her powers) out of fear of hurting anyone again. Their parents die in a shipwreck (Disney movie!) and Elsa becomes queen. She accidentally reveals her powers in front of the whole kingdom (essentially) and runs away so that she never hurts anyone again and then she embraces her power. As she runs, she sings Let It Go and transforms into the image you've seen of her, sans crown.

So, while listening in the car, Harper is clearly watching the scene in her mind and asks the question. Why does she throw her crown away?

I was excited by this great question, the topic of power, and authority and symbols! My mind raced with all the potential answers:

The crown represents a life she doesn't want, authority she doesn't feel is rightly hers.

The crown is a symbol of restriction and she's letting that all go.

The crown is a reminder that her parents are dead and she's had to pretend not to feel anything about it since they died.

The crown represents masculine power and she'll be queen any way she wants with whatever symbols she chooses. (Giant ice palace, anyone?)

The crown is about small earthly human power and she is a goddess, filled with infinite power to create the world as she desires. This puny piece of metal can't represent all that she is!

All these variables raced through my mind in about two seconds. Then I remembered: Harper is three and a half. Hmmm.

Mama, why did Elsa throw her crown away?

Me: Because she didn't want it anymore.


Sigh. I just have to be patient. There will come a day when we can discuss the real reasons Elsa tossed that thing, but for now, I'll stick with mostly literal ones.



An Odd Thing Happened One Friday Night

Two months ago, Kurt and I were watching TV on a Friday night and Harper was asleep. Since it was June, the front door was closed to the cool night air. A few minutes after 9, I heard the screen door open outside and thought "What is Debra doing over here so late?" (She's a good friend who lives two blocks away and sometimes drops by.) I stood up, about to go to the door and open it, when it opened and a strange man walked in.

It wasn't as scary as it sounds because the second I saw him I realized he was confused or hurt or something. (And also because Kurt was right behind me.) The man was tall, grey haired, in his 60's and looking a bit worse for wear. His head had a scrape and some blood (not bleeding, but bloody) and he just looked sort of roughed up.

He stood in the entry and I said "Hi."

He looked at me and said, "Hi."

I said, "Is this your house?" and he said, "Yes."


I explained that in fact it wasn't, then he seemed to focus a bit and then apologized profusely and walk out. But I followed him because in those few seconds I saw that he was hurt, and clearly something was off. So I told him to come back in and sit down. He really seemed bewildered. Yes, it turns out, he was in fact drunk, but was acting more like he had dementia. We were worried he'd really hurt his head.

I got him some water and we asked him a few questions. He had his wallet with an address nearby (a mile or so) and we thought, well, we should take him home. But one of us would have to stay with Harper and I thought we should get some help. We called a another friend in the neighborhood and he came over. In the mean time, turns out the man did not have his cell phone or keys on him, so that made getting to his place tougher. Also, he lived alone and we were worried about his condition.

After trying a few ways to contact any family to no avail, we decided to call the police to see if they could help. We all chatted while we waited for the cops, me, the man, Kurt and our friend. The man had warmed up a bit and was talking about sports and that he was in the army in Vietnam, "Driving f*cking trucks." The cops arrived, two nice young officers, and they spoke to the man, asked him questions, determined he had been drinking and had fallen on our front lawn. The cops thought they should call paramedics just in case he had done more damage than just scrapes and bruises.

While we all waited for the paramedics to arrive (and yes, Harper slept through all of this, and yes we know we are so lucky to have such a great sleeper) the man chatted more with the cops, saying a few off color things like thanking the cops for their service, but then referring to them as "These mother-f*ckers". When one of the cops asked if the man had been drinking, he said yes and that maybe he'd smoked some weed as well. 

DUDE! A little situational awareness!

One of the cops just looked at me and said, "Oh I didn't hear that!"

Paramedics arrived, looked him over and determined it would be better to take him to a hospital. The man looked at me and asked if he should. It was a strange moment. There was a hint of a scared little boy there. Very sad. I said I thought it was a good idea. So off they all went. (Harper still sleeping.)

Our friend was still there and the three of us talked about it for a little while. I thought it was sad that the man was alone. (He had told us he was divorced and his grown kids lived far away from here.) But then I said that maybe he was an alcoholic asshole and that's why he was alone. Who knows. I sent him good wishes and hoped he was okay.

I've wondered about him all these weeks. Then two days ago, I stopped at the local Coffee Bean, the one right next door to where the man lived and where he said he spent a lot of time. (I had been there since June but hadn't seen him.) I was paying for my order and he walked up behind me to get something. I turned and looked at him and said, "Is your name Rich?" and he said yes, and I said his last name and he said yes. I told him he came to my house a while back after falling and that the paramedics had taken him to the hospital.

He said, "Yeah, I just got a bill for $1000 from the fire dept. I'm not paying that. I didn't ask to be taken to the hospital!"

I said, "Well, you had fallen and we were worried you had hit your head."

"Who called the paramedics?" (Asshole. Check.)

"I did."

"How did you know I had fallen?"

"You walked in my front door, thinking it was your own place."

He stopped there for a second. I really think he didn't remember a thing. He said, "I was drunk." Like it was no big deal. But then he did ask "Were you scared when I walked in?" And I said "No, you looked hurt and confused, not drunk. And plus my husband was there with me."

He just nodded and gave me a half-hearted "thanks and thank your husband too." I wished him well again and left with my coffee.

I got home later and told Kurt about it and was really glad I could cross that guy off my curiosity list. Now I knew he was a big drinker and kind of an ass. Just makes me feel all the more sorry for him.





Summer Fun - June Edition

How is it the middle of August? Wasn't it just May? Yowee! Catching up with the Harper-Doodle. She's the apple of my eye.


She and Willoughby are getting along great, though Willoughby is still pretty frisky at times and there have been a few more scratches.


Not quite hands free on the car phone yet.


She insists that she is never the doctor until she puts the coat on. Then you can call her doctor!


A little early with the holiday spirit. Almost as early at Costco.


Carrots and cartoons.




Someone sent Kinder Eggs! We love our scofflaw friends!




More to come!