Monday, December 31, 2007

Who is this person?

Last night I dreamed my name was Net Stralisky and I was born on February 24, 1943.

The Outlaw

Even though I live in a house and have a small pension and wear shoes and try not to rob banks, there is a part of me that feels like an outlaw.

The Choosing Ones

Where is Iowa and why do they get to choose?

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Last known survivors

Every year we try to get together with our old pals from our days with Santa Cruz County. Every year our group of "insiders" gets smaller, although this year it was because of the flu rather than something more serious.

We sit around hashing through those days when one of us taught Italian on his breaks at UCSC, One of us surfed. We played darts and softball and went to breakfast and got up at 2 AM to meet on the beach to watch planet configurations. We were a lively irreverent bunch, even if it's hard to tell that in this picture.

We're mostly grandparents now with Medicare cards, our little group, sort of like a handful of World War II vets or SF Earthquake survivors. We're lucky to have these histories, these 30 year friendships.

Big Box

A year ago Irene and I joined a local "big box" store. We swore we'd never take part in this type of glutony where you wheel your "stuff" out on huge flatbed carts and end up with enough mayo to feed the US Army. But we caved. I think we bought something "big" although at this point I can't remember what.

We were talked into the "executive membership" because it would "in the end save us money". But in the last year we haven't really gone to this place because that's not the way we shop. We went today though, thinking we should take advantage of our "executive privilege" and all. We asked the front desk about our so called savings and the guy suggested we "downgrade". I've never in my life been told by anyone to downgrade anything.

Today we bought a heavy box of logs and we decided to take advantage of our gray hair since executive privilege wasn't working for us and we asked for help out. To get this help we had to sign a waiver, right there at the door in case anything happened to the helper or the merchandise or our truck while we were being helped. What IS this world coming to anyway?

Saturday, December 29, 2007

The trip planner

I once wrote a short story called "The Trip Planner", about a woman who actually never went anywhere but spent her days planning trips down to the very smallest detail. In my days away from the blog I wish I could say I'd been sailing down this road, getting lost in the distance and the rocks and the fresh air. Hope though sometimes comes in 4-wheel drive. I may be ready to go, soon.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007


Images around our house this morning, very early, Irene's still sleeping. I'm listening to Zambra Iluminada, relishing in all the small quiet lights and thinking how incredibly blessed I am.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Paid in full

Yesterday I was talking to a friend who said she couldn't take time off for the holidays because she "was saving her time".
It all came rushing back to me, that work-a-day world where I counted vacation hours, hoarded holiday hours for a real vacation sometime.
People talk about living on borrowed time. This is what it must mean, this borrowing of time. I was a renter from bosses who held the mortgage.It occurred to me, my mortgage is paid, I finally own this time I'm spending. I'm not borrowing anymore and I can spend freely. Even if that means doing nothing more than sitting on a rock all day and watching the sun go down.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Good intentions

Yesterday Irene and I went to lunch at Vallarta's Taqueria on 41st near Portola. A great little surfer's neighborhood that has only lately begun the inevitable gentrification. We were pretty pleased with ourselves for our thrifty $3.95 lunches. Afterward though we walked over to Modern Life and fell in love with this shuttered mirror. It's an old window frame from the desert in Northern India and it was one of those must have items, you know? Here our Christmas tree is reflected in one half of the mirror. So much for budgets. Maybe in 2008?

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Winter in the west

First full day of winter, Santa Cruz, CA

Friday, December 21, 2007

Virgin Mary?

When I was a kid I went to a Unitarian Fellowship in Southern California. This particular fellowship didn't quite "buy" the "virgin theory" so we omitted the word from Christmas carols and of course from our annual holiday pageant. Here I am as "Mary" surrounded by my friends in their bathrobes.


Yesterday we baked 23 dozen cookies. It took us all day and we had to borrow our neighbor, Lisa's mixer and the Davis family wagon but we finished! Today we rolled through our neighborhood and delivered cookies to everybody. What an event! We don't know how our working friends do it and it took two of us! Is this the start of a tradition? Probably not but it felt good this year.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007


From our house to yours.


Rain in Santa Cruz. A rare event...

Motel Open

Yesterday, driving into town I passed a motel along the river, just on the edge of Beach Flats near the Boardwalk. The sign out front said, "Open During Name Change." That just struck me as being needlessly helpful...absurdly fundamental...(is it just me?)

Sunday, December 16, 2007


My latest offering to the creature goddess.

The Great Divide

I've been playing my guitar for 45 years. Every time I pick it up I have to look again in my book for the chord, I have to remind myself as if it's my first time out. There is a mysterious disconnect between my spirit and my brain. None of that stops me though. Just ask anyone within earshot.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

The Grinch

A few years ago I found myself on a city bus during the holidays. We were sludging along, bundled up, grim faced when suddenly a man near the back of the bus began singing "Joy to the World". The bus driver pulled to the side of the street and shouted, "Stop it!" We all looked at the man, then at the driver who had resumed our dreary little journey. The man in back started singing "Jingle Bells" and the driver's face turned crimson as he pulled over again. "No singing on the bus!" he shouted. Then one by one every single passenger began to sing. There were 26 of us singing on key and off and the driver, suddenly a vey little man, shoved it in gear and drove silently down the street.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Blog Stamina

I seem to be lacking in Blog Stamina. I've noticed it lately getting up early, looking at my dark compter screen and caving to my malaise. Maybe it's a generational thing. Maybe daily witty, profound, energetic blogging is best left to the "youngsters". Maybe I should be shopping for plaid pants and blue hair dye, concentrating on finding old relatives on Whatever it is old people do...I'm not sure. Maybe there is a guide book somewhere.

Newspaper man

My father was a newspaper man. He wrote for various papers all over California, ending up in Santa Barbara County writing a chess column for the Lompoc Press. In between these jobs he worked on the Great American Novel.

I wanted to be just like him so when I started college I majored in journalism. It turns out though I was allergic to news print and besides that, when I found out we, as young journalists had to focus on the what, why, when and where I believed in my young hippie mind, that these rules cramped my style.

So instead of writing for a newspaper I went to work for one county and another, "saving" my creativity for the Great American Novel.

Hmm, I think my father should have given me a stern talking to.

The Green Hornet

When my two sons were very young they had an early electronic toy which held tiny slides of The Green Hornet. It was like a projector that you'd point, press a button and watch the slides on a wall.

My kid's father and I waited every night for them to go to sleep. We'd arm ourselves with snacks and stuff, settle in and shine the projector against the side of our claw footed bathtub and watch the escapades in dazzling full color.

I don't know if it was the snacks or the stuff but The Hornet could keep us entertained for hours.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Going, going, gone

How could something as big as the Santa Cruz Flea Market just end? And where are all these people now?

A bird between houses

A few years ago I worked as a Medi-Cal supervisor for a local county. I got a phone call one day from a 98 year old woman who had just had to give up her home. She now split her days going back and forth with her 2 daughters.
She said, "I feel like a bird between 2 houses with no home of my own".

Saturday, December 1, 2007


This woman is "stoked" and with a coat like this, who wouldn't be?

Thursday, November 29, 2007

I'm Not There

This week we went to the Nick to see the Bob Dylan film, "I'm Not There". There were 12 of us in the theater and the starting time came and went and we all sat and sat. Finally I got up and went over to a woman I know from a writing group. I said, "I've heard people say this is a strange movie. Maybe this is the movie!" Finally an employee came in to say they were having problems "striking the lamp". I thought, it's not the lamp's fault, but oh well. Soon though the movie did start and I spent the 2 plus hours moving through fields of comprehension and incomprehension. Afterwards in the lobby we picked up a pamplet entitled "The Official Guide to the Movie". I will admit I'd see this film again, especially now that I have the guide.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Road rage

Gee, is this the same sweet Lindsay Wagner who was in Marcus Welby, MD? Somewhere something has gone horribly wrong. Or terribly right, depending on your perspective.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

One last treasure

This thing has a few more lawns left in it.


90% of all the things you see in this picture came from the flea market. And 50% of the people.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Brain fog

Overheard at the flea:
1st hippie: Who's got the joint, man?
2nd hippie: I don't know, man. Either you've got it or I've got it.

It's amazing any of us found our way out of the 60s.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Staying safe

When going out, it's important to wear protective clothing.

Flying high

When my sons and I lived in the Mojave Desert we lacked a few basic things. Like a vacuum cleaner for example. Every few weeks, (or longer) we'd go up to town and borrow the Elfring's vacuum cleaner.

I'd vacuum like crazy then my boys would return it and we'd watch the sand and rubble accumulate around us until we couldn't stand it and we'd borrow the vacuum again.

Finally after years of this my kids presented me with a vacuum of my own. Brand new. Apparently they'd been scraping their money together for a while, (maybe from their worm farm wages).

I wasn't exactly the housewife type but I have never been so touched by a gift in my life. I didn't change my ways. Just vacuumed when absolutely necessary but I figured I was one of the luckiest mom's in the whole town.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Black Friday

Apparently people all over the land started lining up in front of stores as early as Thanksgiving morning to get a chance at bargains.

In 30 degree temps and below men, women and children sat on lawn chairs wrapped in chenille bedspreads and waited through the night for the stores to open at 4 AM on Friday morning.

Then they rushed the doors, scrambled over their fellow shoppers and ran at breakneck speed through the stores swooping up the latest in whatever.

I'm just wondering what these people do with their lawn chairs, chenille bedspreads, weber's barbecues and jugs of water? Nothing earth shaking...just something that's kept me up at night wondering.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

tofu and turquoise

Happy Thanksgiving to all! And no, your eyes are not deceiving you. This is a robust tofu loaf in a turquoise oven. What fun we're going to have!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

A poet's eye

I bumped into Adrienne Rich, leading feminist poet of the 20th and probably 21st centuries today. Not literally but I found myself driving beside her this morning on my way to town. She had a bumper sticker that said, "I (heart) Steinbeck".

I've never met Ms. Rich but since she lives in my neighborhood I do see her from time to time at Trader's or on the road. The only conversation I ever had with her was at Capitola Book Cafe. She was trying to park her car in a very crowded lot and she was being cut off by a Brink's armored car. I stepped in and directed traffic a little so she could park. I then went into the bookstore and was browsing when I heard her voice. She came up to me and thanked me for helping her with the traffic situation. We went on to have a short conversation about the parking of cars.

I wondered this morning as I threaded my way through the holiday throngs watching Ms. Rich from the corner of my eye, what she was seeing. I wondered how she must see things differently. I imagined she sees this same crowded roadway but that she sees it with the eye of a poet.

Thinking of family

Tomorrow, November 22nd marks the 30th anniversary of my mother's death. Coincidentally it is the 7th anniversary of my sister's death. This photo was taken in March 1957 in Mexico in an adobe house the whole family built. My mother is in white and in her heyday celebrating with the village mariachis. Today my thoughts are with both my mother and my sister and other family members I won't see this year.

Stress Center

In today's Santa Cruz Sentinel they've printed my letter to the editor:
Dear Editor,
In your Nov. 17 edition, in the upper lefthand corner of Page A2 is a little blurb titled, "The end of the flea". It states flea marketers are "a little sad."
"A little sad?" Who writes this stuff anyway? To say that flea marketers are a little sad is the antithesis of hyperbole. We've collected 20,000 signatures in support of Sutter giving us one year in their "empty parking lot" so we can find a different site for the flea market. I just hope with yet another alternative Santa Cruz icon biting the dust that Sutter hospital plans to include a "stress center" in its new conglomerate. Cooper Gallegos, Santa Cruz

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Going with the Flo

When I was a little girl I was in love with Florence Chadwick, American swimmer, Olympian and 1st woman to swim the English Channel in both directions. Before she succeeded in this swim though, she'd tried and failed in one of her 1st attempts. I remember getting this news, flinging myself onto my bed and sobbing into my pillow. Fortunately for my delicate psyche she did eventually succeed.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Six degrees

I was buying a book yesterday at the flea from old friends, two women in their early seventies, sweet women who volunteer at soup kitchens and frequent independent movie theaters and sell at the flea to supplement their Social Security incomes.

I don't know how the conversation started but I said: If republicans win the next election I'm going to hang myself from the town clock. They looked at me. Do you want a bag with that book, they asked? Then they turned away.

I left their booth wondering: Could it be? Could these women be republicans? Could I have actually missed this about them all these years? Do we ever really know anybody? Then I remembered: The old six degree of separation rule.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Swan Song

Drive-in theater, 20 left in California. Ist weekend in December: 19.
Now where can you find a discounted blue toilet except this place?
Everyone is getting rid of inventory...
Even these two guys are sad...