Full and happy

Los Angeleno by birth, Northwesterner by choice, Second-hander by nature. Librarian, housebound chef, father, and lowly subject ruled over by the needs and whims of a very old house.
Partial to Mexican, Italian and Vietnamese cookery but will eat damn near anything. Collector of many strange things..the result is chaos and anarchy and a very pleasant place to live.
There is pleasure in accumulation, not just "collecting": music, books and film, in all their multi-formated glory. Outsider artists and those kinds of prints you would recognize if you took liberal studies classes in college. Cooking implements and gadgets for recipes still untried or those ventured. Glasses for most types of libations. Flowers in the garden, herbs in the pot.
It's a life of the senses and a good home life reflects that. Walking helps take in all the rest. Requires no special equipment, opens up the pores, brightens the taste buds, clears the decks for further adventures, puts on the miles, widens the eyes and helps fuel the imagination.

Live boldly, play graciously and love with all your heart knowing that true love comes only once or twice in this lifetime. Speaking of which..donde estas, Empress of my Heart?


"Lack imagination and miss the better story" Yann Martel

"Life is a great adventure and I want to say to you, accept it in such spirit. I want to see you face it ready to do the best that lies in you to win out. To go down without complaining and abiding by the result....the worst of all fears is the fear of living." Theodore Roosevelt, Jr.

"Not I - not anyone else, can travel that road for you
You must travel it for yourself" Walt Whitman

And above all, friends should possess the rare gift of sitting. They should be able, no, eager, to sit for hours-three, four, six-over a meal of soup and wine and cheese, as well as one of twenty fabulous courses.

Then, with good friends of such attributes, and good food on the board, and good wine in the pitcher, we may well ask,

When shall we live if not now?

-From Serve it Forth,
M.F.K. Fisher

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

The gold standard

We don't come from wealthy stock but our stock is running high. We seem to be more like a going concern than a couple that you would see going out, arm in arm, at the local mall. We treat the duo-ness of the two of us more like a company with stock options than as a pair of turtle doves with no options at all. We see the world as a place where our errant dreams can find a home rather than a place where all we can do is shop, eat at the newest nosheries and have little things to do and see just so we can talk about them later on.

We are an industry of sorts, manufacturing good will, honesty and devotion as opposed to widgets and gadgets and geegaws. Somehow we stumbled upon each other, not so much with stardust in our eyes but our eyes filled with much too much. We've seen too much hardship, heard all too much blather. We tasted bitter fruit, found out the that grass isn't greener on the other side, endured all that could be humanly possible to endure from silly people and for a while were content enough to leave well enough alone.

Funny how a road trip to Sacramento on the county nickle to attend a work related workshop can change the way you look at things, redirect the wind the wind in your sails, take your paradigms and shift them anew.

So now we now doing things that seem so normal yet have outrageous implications to take this sweet business of ours into the stratosphere. I find that busting kindling is a dandy thing to do again. Taking The Boy over the hill to doctors and dentists is a stroll through the park instead of another errand to run. We find that current movies and books and social networking tools are shunted aside to make time for picture books, meals made on the fly and to coyote listening sessions deep in the night.

We, this company of two, this growing concern of interest to a few and the idealized ideal of many, are doing great things. We take long country road walks on sunburst fall afternoons and in the midst of those country miles are finding ourselves taking those long dormant dreams of ours off the shelves and onto the road, too. We are eating well and finding ourselves, in all that wellness, eating a few too many gluten free desserts and are perfectly happy with the end results.

We are not knocking down the java but are doing what Starbucks' new tea venture recommends and are drinking way too much tea, never in my mind a bad thing at all. We are finding second hand champagne glasses to drink California sparkling wine out of, are working our way through home work assignments while gingerly discussing moves to far away places and are finding that pictures torn out of Dwell magazines are just as good a source of home decorating ideas as a Crate and Barrel store ever could be.

On some days we seem to build foundations out of cotton candy wishes but more times than not, after lots of hard thought, difficult conversations and a bit of time curled up by the side of a bed, find ourselves with trowels in our hands, our elbows deep in cement, putting the finishing touches on yet another layer of what seems to be a pretty dandy platform for the basis of a mighty fine relationship.

We are living the life, one filled with not a mountain of things but rather one graced with with more than just a taste of stability, durability and hope. Where that hope will take us remains to be seen. Will it be New York or Seattle or someplace in-between? That part remains unclear but in the meantime we have Long Beach, Disneyland, Seattle and Reno to discover and enjoy. Right now we are not being too picky or choosy about where thsi long range vision is taking us, just careful in our approach to the larger idea of the thing. You see, for us it's not the fanciness of the digs, the ritziness of the job, the high faluten-ness of life that matters. We found that it's how you treat one another that makes the difference, and when you treat someone with respect, dignity and love, it helps to set the standard that you live by. With that kind of standard we can do anything.

And right now, as far as I'm concerned, our life is being lived on the gold standard, indeed.

Muchos besitos, Mi Novia.


Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Long time coming

Two years ago this fall I went off to visit my pal Miguelito and his lovely soon to be bride in the grand city of New York. I don't know exactly what happened but it was a mule kick, a hard core bit of falling in love, one that resulted in me dropping apps all over the Eastern seaboard to find my way back there. Now, grant it, I took a sideways glance at Cleveland felt the warmies for that place, too, but nothing got in the way of that stricken feeling I felt for the Big Apple.

That is, until I set it down.

I felt after about a year that I should stop being a fool about it. Unrequited love. I let the city go. Stopped sending off almost daily supplications to the goddess of work, stopped peeking in on the NYPL website.

Then something  happened. A chance visit. I was tasked to review library websites for my Friends group so I visited San Francisco, Seattle, Los Angeles and....New York. Ah, I knew it was time to go back, update my resume, check in on my application, make sure all the pertinent information was up to date. It took a bit of work but I made it shine once again, put that gleam back into my eye for what I long ago considered a lost cause. And what should be waiting there in the careers section but a handful of teasing opportunities: three branch manager jobs and a part time librarian slot on Staten Island as well. Did I have anything to lose?

Heck no.

And what did I do?

Applied to them all.

As the days went by the chances grew slimmer. Not accepted for this one, another one filled. One by one they disappeared, no matter that I was being considered for this one, that one, too.

Then, to my surprise, a letter dropped into my email box last Thursday. Would I be interested in phoning in, setting up an interview? Would I be available to talk Tuesday morning at 7 AM?

And today, after a a happy nights sleep, after a good talk well done yesterday morning, what did I hear on my cell phone?

Ah, would you be interested in flying out to see us here in New York?

Would I? Would I?

Oh my goodness!

To that I say to myself, to the world: never lose heart. Dreams come to life. But more than anything else let something go every once in a while. If it's meant to be it'll come back to you.

Here we go, Nuevo York. Next month we'll see if we're as compatible as I think we can be.

Here's to good fortune for me and my crew.



What is?

A good hard walking sunny afternoon spent in the city on library business. A downtown farmer's market sans drama and filled with foodstuffs not normally seen in aisles of our local Mendo county markets. A vibrant and toothsome Mexican luncheonette filled with folks from off the streets and in and out of the local office buildings. A view of The Bridge, caught in sideways glance, after a looping trot through the gingerbread finery of the Fort Mason neighborhood. A bit of time spent in the galleries, dreaming of pieces we would love to own but know, that for the near and foreseeable future, are completely out of the question financially (but fun had in the looking all the same). Talks that go on and on into the night, complete with issues that are sometimes unresolvable then and there but then, after a rough nights sleep, are always handled with love, care and diplomacy in the light of the following day.

Food prepared in a kitchen that never seems to be too small in a house that lately has been filled with hard fall light in a room filled with the glee of a little boy learning the fine art of playing Go Fish. A movie that was, at the onset of this happy voyage, a source of conversation and enlightenment and has been finally watched through to the end (that makes two films now, mujer...). Walks that go into fields filled with cow patties and rough furrows and up to trees filled with gold, all taken into account with hide and go seek and bumpy bicycle rides built into their all too swift finales.

Indian food buffet chosen along side all too many different kinds of places to nosh, making us feel like country mice in the big city, no matter that the city we were visiting was a somewhat small one itself. Bookstores packed with novels and cookbooks and photographed nudes and new releases that needed to be not only on our shelves at home but back at home on our library shelves, too. A wild and wacky photo shoot on the edges of a busy tourist filled parking lot overlooking San Francisco Bay and the Golden Gate Bridge complete with a stiff breeze, an almost tossed tablet and a slight loss of decorum. A Mediterranean delight of a hotel, wee and tucked away on 101 as you head onto Lombard on the way into the City, a true gem tastefully appointed, with nicely grouted tile work, a full out kitchen, comfy comforters and a enough charm to have us put it on the favorites list indefinitely (we will be back).

Dancing to songs only heard in our heads as we stood in line to take the cable cars downtown at sundown (and with the line moved up and the crowd, delighted, not telling us to move up as well...). A hard walk through the Tenderloin in the dark of night that ended across the street from the next day's destination and in a kabab place that served a delicious lamb platter, complete with fresh baked bread that neither of us could eat. Two burger baskets served up Protein style..ah, to know that this little slice of heaven will be left behind should we ever leave the state! The discovery of a decent Pinot tinged Rose, a happy surprise out of the icebox. A good morning's long distance interview that turned into another good morning's phone call today that says to me that New York is a mighty good possibility not only for yours truly but for Mi Novia, the Boy and a boat load of dreams as well.

Ah, to normal! We kicked around the idea of "normal" one afternoon in Santa Rosa and have been asking ourselves almost every day since then about what we feel would constitute normal life. Every day we look around us, see what there is to see, see something truly grand and then ask each other that pertinent question: "does this qualify as normal?". Sometimes we just declare, yeah, that's normal, lets build that into our lives. Gelato out and about. A quick trip into a new and unknown market. An afternoon nap. A simple meal made on the fly. Breaking up wood after a sweaty afternoons worth of romping. Sipping an inexpensive wine watching the sun go down. Watching Star Wars for the millionth time and knowing in our heart of hearts that it is a good thing because the Boy thinks so, too.

We are on a voyage of discovery, Mi Novia and I. We are learning, after years of riding the fence, of being out in the boondocks, of weathering sometimes not so great times with not so great people, to understand what would be considered normal everyday kinds of life. We see it, we gauge it, we talk about it, we feel it and then, if we like it enough, we vet it.

This place here, this blog, these writings, are close enough to normal to be a safe  and okay place to bounce off of. This is the place were we can vet ourselves in front of the world. We are finding out that we pretty darned normal, folks, and we are loving it.

More normal stuff to come. Bring it on.


Thursday, September 19, 2013

Moon man moment

I heard it beckon and I chased it to the edge of the continent.

Tonight is my Esteemed Companion's moon gathering there in the valley. I had my own a moment ago, right up at the edge of the sea.

I was sitting, well, not comfortably at my kitchen table, cat under one arm, writing a letter, juggling a cup of tea and bowl of oats in the other, when I noticed, not for the first time that night, the moon in all it's majesty, staring regally through my window. My bedroom was flooded with a glaring bright white light last night and this morning the kitchen lamps were fairly outclassed by the last of it's shine.

I said enough to the cat, who's constant nudging was making a mess of my letter to mi novia and set my repast down. A quick pressing, a fast bath and I was out the door, and just in time, I might add, as the moon, fractured and split by clouds, mist, mayhem in the atmosphere and the rising of the sun, was just about in the drink when I arrived at the beach. Others, few and far between, were out there to witness what I was anxious to see, but there was no race in their steps, no sense of urgency to make it to the coast. I made my way down to the softly crashing surf, stood among the sea weeds and bits of cast off foam and watched as the tail end of the evening's light finally dipped into the far end of the ocean.

I called my dear on the phone who let me know in her sighs that she was with me there. What a time we live in to be able to bridge the distance in the way that we do...the timelessness of a moon set, the immediacy of the shared moment over the miles with the help of modern technology. A moon gathering ala mode. The druids would have been scandalized! No stone monuments, no glowing gowns, just two minds, two hearts, one celestial body, one moment of time across the ether.

Moon maiden, moon man, one with the moment.


Sunday, September 8, 2013

Rescuer on the coast

I am an accumulator, a gleaner, a picker up of things, a man who scans the side of the road for pennies, old screwdrivers, salvage, things tossed from the windows of moving vehicles. I am a fixer, a man with tools in the pantry, a repair guy who finds ways to keep things on the road, ticking, tocking, sometimes right up until the moment the wheels fall off. I am a rescuer, a listener, a quietly patient analyzer of souls, hearts, minds, but only analytical up a point, to the place where I will look at you and say, ah, now, how can I help you?

I am not boasting of some arcane ability to keep boats afloat, cars on the highway, toasters toasting, no, I am a troubleshooter only in the way that I can be and that is that I see things as they come to me, needing to be salved, listened to, worked with and then I go from there, aiding and abetting, greasing and applying strength, swatting on occasion with a ball peen hammer, duct taping and splinting and staying up until the wee hours working with, cajoling, praising, dreaming along side those that need their tales to be heard, listened to, understood. I see what I need to see and go from there. Hopefully we all go in the same direction after that.

I see the good in things that others don't, bring home paintings or toys or books that have been cast aside, seek out wonders in places that others pass by in their hurried way to be some where else. I wear clothes that are completely out of fashion, as malls and current tastes astound, thrill and sometimes perplex me. I am always late catching up with current best sellers, keeping up with anything hip, staying abreast of things new and cool and marvelous except the news. I always have my eye on the horizon, my hand on the New York Times and my ears open to NPR and yet I don't rush out to taste the latest taste sensation, hear the newest song, watch the latest bit of celluloid unspool at the local cineplex. Now see there, I just dated myself as only the most out of date theaters still screen their movies in that format. I still prefer light sprocketing through actual film stock as opposed to pixels but hey, that's just me.

I am a watcher of light, a listener of needles hitting the vinyl, a man who is always keen to view something new on iron oxide tape. I think that those things we possess and loan here in this place, this grand and wonderful palace we still call a library, this holy house of books, are still of immense and practical value. I am a wanderer in the stacks, a fixture in the aisles of second hands, a ragged blissed out less than holy man in the midst of malls and big box stores, places filled with things new, sleek and disposable. I am thankful that I can be in the midst of it all, look around, see what others see, be happy for them, be detached and still be amused by it all.

I am happy to find that we, she whom I hold close and dear, are equally devoid of being star struck by newest of the new and are not filled with awe of pricey things, things that make the world go round for others, things that we will see later on the cut out racks at Savers . We hold fast with teas and herbal potions, we find that slow is much more relevant to our needs than fast. We find that late night talks are critical to us as those talks help propel and process our dream state but even more than that it gives us things to wake up to, to jot down, to fuel our letters, ignite our hearts, inspire our love.

I am an eater of soaked oats, of slow cooked beans, of meats that have been forever known as "variety". I am a man who values the cast off, the underdog, the ones who have been shunned, kicked around, marginalized, made to feel small, not of their own minds. I am a gatherer, a father, a sidekick, a partner, a planter of seeds, a planner, a dreamer, a keeper of secrets, a man who knows where the line is drawn, the one who knows where the mud is that I must hold. I am curator of sunsets but more one who knows what that dust means on the horizon, what the fires foretell, what the tea leaves on the bottom of the cup say (they say that we need to pour more tea!).

We, my Esteemed Companion and I, are the ones who are somehow finding a way to dash the crystal balls that were given to us and yet are still seeking ways to find answers in the stars, in comet trails, in the coolness of the air that is ushered in by the coming fall season. We are using words less but actions more to see what we need to see. We are using play and hard work to understand one another, not new clothes or the latest sitcom to verify what is what. We are finding our way through tough subjects with love, not heat, with compassion, not correction, with respect, not combativeness. We are walking slowly, taking our time to react, to watch the birds take flight, to see which way the wind blows, to take in sunsets, to gather ourselves together, tea in hand, arms entwined, robes tightly clutched, to see what the new sunrise has in store for us and for our day.

I am a man who sees the good in those things left behind by others. I am the giver of salve, the issuer of bandages, the cook with a ladle filled with broth, the one who hands out the tissues, the warm blankets, the pieces of chocolate to soothe the soul. I am a healer without a license, a brigand with a mission, a rogue with a golden heart, in short, a man who has been over hill, seen the elephant and sometimes, without malice aforethought, brings that damned elephant home with him.

I may sometimes fail to take as good a care of myself as I do others but I believe in what goes around comes around and know that others will watch out for me as I do for them.

In salvaging things, I extend their lives. In helping salvage others lives I extend my own.

Enlightenment only comes after many admission tickets to this rough fair known as life have been paid for up front.

This life, aaah, what a wonderful thing it is, I say, gazing down at the many torn tickets littered by my side.

Let's go look for that next best old thing, my dear, let's seek out that beater, that fixer upper, that three legged cat, that bald tired ride. We know how to do it, how to make things whole, repaired, complete, at rest. Oh, yes we do.Andale, pues, love, time is of the essence!


Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Some things learned, hopefully never forgotten

*The Perseid meteor shower comes around every August whether you have a clear sky to watch it by or not. Catching the tail end of it all scrunched in the back of a station wagon at a rest stop off a high desert highway in Nevada in the middle of the night was a good thing but not as much of a good thing if we had caught it on the coast, my Esteemed Companion. Damn those clouds, that marine layer. Next year. Bueno.

*Stuff left behind in an estranged spouse's garage seems to grow in size over the course of a year yet diminish in meaning relative to the time spent away from it. It's amazing how much stuff I've managed to unload this year and not miss. Where is the passion, the attachment,  the full out craziness that made the accumulation of all that junk the big point to begin with? Outside of art will I ever need to find a place in my home and heart for that kind of massive accumulation ever again? I think not.

*Children and their toys, their play, their imaginations, come and go. Those moments that they want you to get down on the floor and play pass by so fast that you are left in the dust of memory if you don't get down there and play with them right then and there. It was almost fifteen years ago that my oldest (happy 21st, kiddo!) wanted me to play Hot Wheels with him when I stepped in the door after a long commute home from Seattle. I said I would and disappeared into the kitchen to make supper and I never made it back. That moment, the one not taken, has haunted me ever since. Thank goodness for my youngest, for the arrival of that high spirited little boy of my Esteemed Companion! A pray that a moment of good play will never escape me again.

*Traveling in the high desert in the summer time at the break of day is one of the finest things a man driving solo can every experience. Driving that same stretch fatigued under the noon day sun is pure hellishness. Choose to leave early, drive early, get where ever you're going rested. Stay hydrated. Bring plenty of snacks. Leave the chocolate at home. And be sure to bring along plenty of tunes worth listening to over the miles. Those songs will stick with you the rest of your life.

*On that note, never hit the road after a wild night of lovemaking thinking you're going to make your destination on time and in good shape. It'll never happen. Get plenty of rest the night before or leave a day later, or better yet, bring the mujer along to switch hit on the driving. Much better plan I am sure.

*Always remember to do your heavy talking when well rested and over a cup of tea, not late at night and never when red wine is flowing, least ways, not if you don't want to have a morning full of heavy tummy. I have a feeling that next time we face that kind of thing we will leave the talking alone and go play acey ducey, or watch a movie, or retreat like wild rabbits to our burrow, instead.

*Beach play with kids is fabulous and not to be forgotten as a cheap and plentiful source of fun at the end of summer, especially when you live only minutes away from the surf. I forgot how much fun tag, hide and go seek, building log houses, writing in the sand could be. See the world through the eyes of the child and find yourself magically transformed again into that wonderful child you were long, long ago.

*Remember: ..if in doubt, eat dessert first. Especially in the morning, even if the breakfast dish is a pan of mighty good stir fried rice. Always serve sparkling wine well chilled, unless you are at a concert and dragging it out of a picnic basket and then, well, what the hell. Bomb your place for fleas before guests come, not afterwards. Do dishes in the morning especially if more pressing things await the night before. Always have matches, candles and good chocolate on hand when and if you are wondering what to do next but most of all be real. All else is meaningless if you aren't being real.

*Live in a town or a city that has a strong sense of culture and fun about it. This past weekend we had galleries, parades, fresh churned ice cream, gem shows, good super markets, second hands and good hardware stores to bounce off of and never had a moment to ponder "what next?" and come up empty. Sure, I dream of Seattle, San Francisco, Cleveland or New York but I will settle for any place that gives a boy plenty of room to romp and the two adults at hand plenty of things to oooh and aaaah about. Anywhere is fine by me, my Esteemed Companion, truly. Let's plan and let's go.

*A good meal at home, served up with care, consideration, love, tenderness and skill, on mismatched plates, with good music in the background, with laughter and good vibes all around, will beat a five star restaurant out in the town hands down every time.

*Once again, always remember to be real. Remember to back up your words, your oaths, your promises with real deeds. But more than anything, remember to be present, in the moment, right here and now. Donde esta, mujer? Let's go play!


A form of busy-ness

Seems like a quick pit stop is necessary here. I have been jetting around, it seems, to places faraway and close in, and in the midst of that I have forgotten my duties here, to update, enlighten and astound my famished and curious readers.

 "So, where you been, Accumulate Man?" you might be asking? Well, I went a long ways out to Boise to attend a conference, but that was a disguise of sorts as my lovely children live there and I was able to camp out on the couch in their mother's house, saving my Friends group a bundle on hotel fees. Visiting the Estranged One was somewhat painless and easy as she was in and out with work and other pleasures. The kids, well, gawd bless 'em as they all found time to talk with me, sup with me and keep me entertained as I sorted (once again) through the junk and treasures I had left behind last year. Once again the piles grow shorter and smaller and for that I am thankful. Left behind a pile of things that I feel I am running out of time to enjoy. Movies, books, music, well, we just have what we have and what I have is enough. Besides, my Esteemed Companion and I make music of our own and whatever we spin in the background is a plus, no matter what shape or form in comes in.

Otherwise I feel that my life is moving along in a grand fashion here on the coast. The temps have been super warm for us these past weeks, highs in the mid 70's, bringing forth an outbreak of fleas, much to my surprise and chagrin. I have been treating the carpets with salt and baking soda, bathing the cat almost daily (much to her dismay) and have been vacuuming my humble abode up and back twice or more a day. I feel that I am being proactive but no matter how much I stay vigilant the damn critters still come at me. I can feel tales of the Korean war in mulling around in the back of my well read head, thinking of those poor Chosen reservoir bastards holding back the roiling masses in the frozen northern wastes. In my case it's the never ending onslaught of cat (and ankle!) hungry fleas leaping forth from Berber carpeting! Bummer!

But those are small things. We manage, the cat and I., to still stay friends. Work is work, with the crew moving though the masses of books and patrons like the pros that they are. I am working hard to find a good position elsewhere, all thanks to the machinations of current administration, and after my wonderful time at the PNLA conference I feel confident that someday I will find that position of my dreams somewhere along the shores of the Puget Sound. But those dreams might land me elsewhere, as I have been peppering the Pacific Northwest with applications for a couple months now. I have to wonder if my dreams, grandiose as they are, will come to fruition without an MBA. Director? Could I, should I, dream that big? Yes, and I must. In the meantime I wait for my opportunity to interview with Seattle in November and see whether or not they will find a place in their pool (hiring kind) for me.

The road trips never end as I have a few upcoming jaunts to take that include another trip with my Esteemed Companion to Sacramento, a flight with her to Seattle for a look-see before the interview, a one day conference together in San Francisco and a long weeks worth of conferencing in Long Beach, California. For that one I will drive so my novia and I can take a long and leisurely drive back home along the fall studded 101 highway. Can you say Pismo Beach? Steinbeck County? Fisherman's Wharf? Well, we can and we will if the gods so deem it.

So there you go, a nice long list of things done and things to do. I manage to make my way over the hill now and again to share the driving, the twists and turns of the road. Make my way to the lawless country of the Round Valley. Wake to the lowing of the cows and the howling of the coyotes, to smell the deepness of earth and soak in the richness of the sunrises. We, my lovely and I, have managed to find a pace that suits us till our ship comes in. In the meantime we make guacamole, tabboleh salad and lemonade with those lemons that we're given, groove on the short amount of time we are given together and make due with the time apart. My goodness, how cool letter writing is! How wonderful it is to find something waiting for you in the mail!

Okay, time to let this fly, dear readers.

May this find you happy and well!


Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Old school

I don't have a single contemporary hot wireless device and somehow I am happy.

Some folks just don't get that. How could I possibly be happy and not be hip at the same time?

Well, let's see what I don't have and then we'll look at what I do. I don't have a smart phone. What I have is a fairly dumb phone with a battery that is failing. It takes photos, sends texts, probably has other functions but I never use them. I don't  have a personal computer of any kind although I do wish and dream about Apple products and hope to someday graduate to a really nice desktop model. I currently do not do much in the way of social media but know all about Twittering, Face Booking and the like. I don't download books or transfer stuff to a devices so I can listen to them every where I go. I don't do digital movies, which, for me, is a travesty anyway.

I don't have a lot of things that seemingly make life worth living, least ways by contemporary standards. But the funny thing is that I really think all those devices and the lifestyles and conveniences attached to them are really great and I am happy for those that have them, use them and make their lives more fulfilling because of them. That is, until someone's cell phone goes off at a concert. Or a tablet lights up in the middle of a movie. Or when someone comes up to the desk and talks and talks and talks to someone other than me on the phone all the while expecting me to serve them as if I am Redbox kiosk.

I think that someday I will move on past this old school way of thinking and get some of those new cool toys but then again, perhaps not, well, least ways, not right away.  I still like to spin my music on a turntable, watch my tunes unspool on my reel to reel. I still thrill to iron oxide tape and buy cassettes and VHS tapes whenever I see a title I don't own on disk. I still cook from scratch and avoid most convenience foods like the plague. I love to line dry sheets, I love to take public transit whenever I can. I still think reading a newspaper in it's paper and ink format to be one of the best reading experiences going. I love to get someplace slow, like on a train or on a bike or on foot. I love to explore someones mind with real letters, share thoughts over the phone or talk face to face. Emails are dandy but there is nothing quite the thrill of opening up a letter from someone you cherish.

I think that certain things, things not necessarily hip, are vital and real. I think of the things my grandmother taught me, manners and courtesies, "yes sir" and "yes ma'am", things that sometimes irk people because they worry that the things you say a reflection of their age and not one of respect. I think of tolerance, of discipline, etiquette, knowing that eating properly at a table, opening doors, of offering someone your seat, those marks of being well brought up, those gentlemanly arts, never go out of style.

I think of my Esteemed Companion in the midst of all this talk of old school courtesies and know that when she gets to sample them from me she knows that they are from the heart, that they are there to show her that she is worthy of that respect and care that goes along with those things that others might eschew to be too slow, clunky or old fashioned.

Whenever she thinks of me I hope she'll be able to say, "now there's a man who has the sense to be courteous, a man who knows how to hold his mud, how to open a car door, how to write a decent love letter, who knows when and where to ask the right questions, to be open and when to hold back. He is a gentleman through and through and after they were done making him they broke the mold".

I know that having all the cool toys and being hip and ironic are the hallmarks of a new age man., but baby, if I get to have a choice know that I will be old school till the day I take leave of this lovely place.

Care to take a stroll and leave those cell phones behind, anyone?


Monday, August 5, 2013

Thankful for the small things

Sometimes, when you look at it through scratched lenses, you think, "man, it's a tough life". My prayers are rarely answered, and my requests aren't necessarily honored; my wishes aren't always fulfilled, and my dreams, well, let's say that that most of the time they remain unfinished only because the dawn comes and I wake from my slumber.

But really, that's so much nonsense. Life is hard sometimes, sure, what's life without a bit of rain? Without the rain you have no rainbows. Same for spiders, bogey men and unsolicited phone calls. Spiders make webs and eat pesky insects and leave their webs behind for me to groove on on misty fall days. Bogey men give a reason to cuddle close during scary movies or cling to my sweetheart on walks through the night streets. Unsolicited phone calls are a drag but when you are feeling a bit mean and a bit cranky they're just what the doctor ordered. Give back a bit of what you get.

My prayers. Whoa. What do I pray for anymore these days? A small parcel of happiness? Not one wrapped in bows or paid for on credit. Not a big slug of it, either. Small doses here and there, thanks. A sincere smile. A quarter on the sidewalk. A long sought for record in the ten cent cassette bin. Good news on the phone. My children, healthy, strong, happy. My health. Those things are prayers answered enough.

I suppose I don't make too many requests these days either. Quiet in the late hours. A bit of meaningful work at the branch. That the toilet is flushed and that beds are made. Someone else washing the dishes would be nice once in a while, too. But in requesting we must remember to only ask for so much. And to honor those requests made of you.

Wishes. Ah, wishes. I remember when they were aided by shooting stars, or petals on a flower. When I would think really hard and believe that those things I wished for would come true. Wishes have grown up quite a bit since then. I can wish for world peace, for an election to play out favorably. I can wish for a beautiful sunset, or a long morning in a warm bed. I can wish for a few extra dollars to play with on payday, or even wish for something like love to be as beautiful as I think it should be. I wish for many things: my children's happiness, for peaceful resolutions, for hearts to heal. Those kinds of wishes are not necessarily easy to fulfill, but they are wonderful behold when they are.

But my dreams. Now there I excel. I dream of many things, not too much unlike Rip Van Winkle did before he ran into that strange bowling game up in the hollow and got his priorities straightened out. Mind you, I'm not out flying kites or napping under trees when there's work to be done, but I can relate to the desire to while away the hours, to play with my kids, to see rainbows on the horizon instead of storm clouds. I dream that my life will be a positive note in the lives of my children, that whoever I end up with as a partner cherishes me as much as I cherish her. I dream of a good life..not necessarily well appointed, but comfortable. I dream of happiness, but again, of the small "h" variety. Little dreams. A nice garden. Walls painted in pleasing colors. Of a trip now and then. Of a pantry full and a stove burgeoning with delights for family and friends alike.

Small things.

I suppose those prayers and requests and wishes and dreams are answered and fullfilled everyday in small ways. For that I can be thankful for, and I am.


Storytellers guild

We are getting ready to wrap up our summer reading program here on the coast and so far it has been a mighty good one. I came onto this post last year with a program in place and it was not quite what I was used to, but, hey, it wasn't mine to control just to monitor. Programs were attended, prizes given out, treats eaten. Attendance is everything. This year it's been a bit different, a bit more like what I am used to: reading logs, gauges of measurement on the walls, programs reaching far and wide and an ice cream social coming up on the heels of it all.

But I was able, in the midst of all the children's librarian planning, to slip in a couple things I felt were important to do. I did fit in a moderately well used Farmer's Market Bingo program. I like what they around the county and what they represent and wanted a tool to somehow get kids down to the market, interact with the growers, the vendors, all that.With the program theme revolving around food I felt it was a good match. But my big wrap up for the summer, since the idea of outdoor "drive in" style movies didn't really fly well here on the cool in the evenings coast, was to push for storytelling in the park. The park across the street from the branch, in the end, was booked but I managed, here at press time, to secure two tellers who promised to share their art with family and kids here at the branch later on in August. I am beyond pleased as it is bringing back to me a bit of my early library career history. Once a storyteller, always a storyteller.

I have been fascinated with the art going a long time back. Maybe it was the sea stories I heard back in my days with the fleet. Maybe it was all the tales my parents and grandparents told of 1940's LA and of Pancho Villa and growing up in Mexico during the Revolution. Maybe it was my penchant for cinema, for good stories, for a tale well told. No matter, I was sent off to workshops right at the beginning of my time doing children's work and thought to myself, man, I could do that, too. And so I did. Gathered up tales by Lang and the Grimm Brothers, learned a few good paper folding stories, picked up a few magic tricks and songs and I was ready to share my tales, too.

It was a happy time, that first librarian assignment. I had a great manager who believed in the power of good programming, was game to let me do whatever I conjured up, so long as it reflected well with the branch and brought up our monthly statistics. I kicked around the idea of a guild with colleagues and friends, and after a few months of fits and starts, got together the first incarnation of the South Coast Storytellers Guild at the Costa Mesa Branch Library. Those first few months felt as if we wasn't going to launch but by our final show in August Susan, Nancy and Jim and I were able to drag in a full house which pleased me and my manager immensely.

I took that talent on the road and performed all around the region, worked good times with Make a Wish, with church groups, at birthday parties. Went up north to Oregon and started another guild, the Jefferson State Storytellers with the Ashland Branch children's librarian. Did storytelling in the park, a llama backpacking trip, told tales in a staff gather for the State Librarian, hung out with magicians and built up a crew who went on to do great things. By the time I got to the Puget Sound I was almost ready to stop awhile as the competition was heavy and storytelling began it's shift from an small regional, ethnically tinged, locally cultural art form into a major source of entertainment, bucks and egos. Did a bit of telling with Everett and then, years later, after disillusionment and much too long of a sabbatical, began to tell tales to my kids. Back to the roots of it all, a blazing fire, good mood lighting and a fist full of tales to share with wonder filled children.

The idea of the guild came about mainly from my connection with the regional Renaissance Faire but it eventually took off and went it's own way. I looked them up this morning and was happy to see that they are still associated with Costa Mesa and are still performing and conducting workshops regularly in Orange County. And while it has been years since I have stood in front of an audience and wove a tale I have to admit that this latest effort to gather tellers at the library to tell stories to family and friends sounds like a mighty good time, but more a possibility to possibly enter into the art once again.

Once a teller, always a teller, indeed!


A bit of contemporary South Coast Storytellers Guild scheduling: