As I sat down to my keyboard this evening, wondering what to write about, I glanced down to see this sweet little face looking up. I realized that lately, my little Ching Ching is everywhere I am. He follows me from room to room, inside and outside. Sometimes, I leave the room while he is asleep. Its not long until I hear a plaintiff, "Woof! Woof!" He's lost track of me again, so I call him, and he comes trotting to wherever I am.
Ching Ching I fear is growing old. His sight is not good. He has trouble negotiating stairs down, and won't go upstairs until I turn on the light. He doesn't always hear me until I "turn up my volume". He nestles close at night on the bed.
Some of this behavior increased after his longtime companion, Tater, passed away last year. Tater was an alpha dog, and kept Ching on the move, in line as it were. Miguelito is much younger and while he a good pal to Ching, but he is not a caretaker type. So Ching relies on me these days much more than he used to. And that's okay.
Ching lets me know when he doesn't want to go for the walk. And when he's had enough exercise, he stops, kerplunk, wherever he is. But he's always done that. He hates the heat. But he loves to eat. That's how I know he's doing okay. Sometimes I catch him just sitting motionless, staring into space. He is meditating. He's always meditated. I need to learn that practice from him.
I've had so many dogs and cats and birds over the years, its difficult to imagine life without at least one in the house. And each has had their own uniques personality. They all live their own separate lives while being the best of companions. Ching is no exception. In a minute we'll shut down the computer and make our way up the stairs to bed. Sometimes I think I will carry him. Then I realize its him who carries me. That's what love is all about. That's what Ching is all about.
I captured the above un-retouched image somewhere near Hesperia last year. I was looking for something that demostrated heat. While this is indeed a hot desert scene, I came to fine myself distracted by the clouds. I really love the whites and greys against the blue sky background contrasted against the browns of the desert floor with just a touch of green provided by the yucca trees.
As I drifted into a meditative state looking at that image above, Both Sides Now by Joni Mitchell began to play in my head. It was one of my favorites, still probably is, because of its folksy, world-weary look at love and life. (I'm including the lyrics and a link to Youtube below should you be inclined to take a little trip down memory lane). Those were the days. And there's another song by a one-hit wonder, Mary Hopkin, which also was part of my teenage soundtrack as I navigated my way through raging hormones and growing pains.
Looking back now, I can see I could have been a real counter-culture kid or a hippie had I not been brought up to be such a "good boy". LOL Any way, that served me well I guess as I lived to tell these tales.
Of course that's Mama Cass with Joni. The other singer is Mary Travers I believe, of Peter, Paul and Mary. But that answer, as they say, is blowing in the wind or perhaps it road off with Puff the Magic Dragon.
Both Sides Now
Rows and flows of angel hair
And ice cream castles in the air
And feather canyons everywhere
I've looked at clouds that way
But now they only block the sun
They rain and snow on everyone
So many things I would have done
But clouds got in my way
I've looked at clouds from both sides now
From up and down and still somehow
It's cloud's illusions I recall
I really don't know clouds at all
Moons and Junes and ferries wheels
The dizzy dancing way you feel
As every fairy tale comes real
I've looked at love that way
But now it's just another show
You leave 'em laughing when you go
And if you care, don't let them know
Don't give yourself away
I've looked at love from both sides now
From give and take and still somehow
It's love's illusions I recall
I really don't know love at all
Tears and fears and feeling proud,
To say "I love you" right out loud
Dreams and schemes and circus crowds
I've looked at life that way
But now old friends they're acting strange
They shake their heads, they say I've changed
Well something's lost, but something's gained
In living every day.
I've looked at life from both sides now
From win and lose and still somehow
It's life's illusions I recall
I really don't know life at all
I've looked at life from both sides now
From up and down, and still somehow
It's life's illusions I recall
I really don't know life at all
Songwriters: Joni Mitchell
Both Sides Now lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, Crazy Crow Music / Siquomb Music Publishing
No long ago I published a blog about things which are kinda pet peeves of mine, wondering if they were really "peeve-worthy". I wondered if those things that bugged me, or just got under my skin, really were worthy of my time and energy so as to even call them "peeves"; let alone "pet-peeves". Well, I've found a few more things to ponder on. I'll seek your sage wisdom and/or insights as to whether they are indeed peeve-worthy .
Waiting at traffic signals. Everyone is stopped. And there is no one coming through the red light. Not one car. Not one pedestrian. Not even in the distance between here and Chicago. It drives me nuts to stop for what seems like forever for what appears to be nothing or no one Drive through? Ha! It's probably a trap....
Humidity. I know. No one can control the weather. But really now, can't they do something? Pass a law? Invent something that dries the outside air? I know, I know, humidity is good for plants and your skin and all living things. But do they need to mix it with ungodly heat? I guess my real pet-peeve about this is when the weatherman gleeful reports the humidity index as it nears 110%. Do we really need to know? And as they always say, "It's not the heat its the...." Blast them.
Haggling. As you may or may not know, I have been helping my friends with their estate sale business. It can be fun. Staging the house, tagging the items, doing the promotions. But one thing really bugs me. When the boss sets a (very fair) price, it is after great consideration. He has to consider the profit margin, the net to client and compensating staff. So when you ask me on a two dollar item if I will take one dollar, I say no. Or, even more grating is when on that same two dollar item, I offer it to you for one dollar and you ask me if I'll take fifty cents. Ayeeee!
The rolling of the eyes. How adolescent of you. Really? Just because I ask an innocent question or wonder about something like the meaning of life or why traffic signals are so long, I don't think I warrant a rolling of the eyes. That's like a teenager being impatient with a well-meaning parent or even a sometimes clueless joe like me.
International McDonald's (or Subway or Burger King). While visiting Italy recently, it was somewhat jarring to see Mickey D's some of the oldest cities in the world. Amidst the ruins and ancient statuary, a Subway? Yes, the Italians are entitled to fast food to clog their arteries and instant hunger gratification, but really, can't you at least try to "blend in?" Another Ayeeee!
Off leash dogs and their arrogant owners. I have some a neighbors who take their dog out every night and let it poop on other people's lawns. It seems to be the entire family, mom, daughter, mom's SO, the maid. They all let the dog do its business wherever it pleases...never on their own lawn. What's wrong with them? They make absolutely no pretense to even try to pick it up! One time the SO was standing on my parkway, letting the dog do his business. I went and got my pooper scooper and picked it up while he was walking away. "Oh," he said sheepishly, "I guess I shouldn't let him do that." "Not really," I said. I guess he didn't feel sheepish enough. They just go down further now.
Trivial rants. Okay, you got me. All these things are trivial I suppose. No, they are not worth getting my knickers in a knot. But minor as they may be, I do count them as peeves. Peeve-worthy? Maybe not. But really, we choose our pets and when feed them by paying attention to them. Perhaps that's where I go wrong?
I hearby designate Saturday as a good day to ruminate. Or maybe let the thoughts and musings ramble. So there you have it. Unleash the thoughts, let the musings roll. Here goes.
Relationships can be difficult...hard...impossible to navigate without a map. Who makes a map for relationships? I always say its important to keep the lines of communication open. You know, be honest. Start and keep to an "I" prospective. I feel this way. "I" want this. "I" am...yada yada. No blame. No making anyone wrong. Just being honest. Sometimes that is very difficult, hard even.
Santa Fe was nice. I want to go back. Not as nice as Florence in Italy, but I won't be going back there soon...unless something happens I don't know about. A road trip up north is enticing. All possibilities. I love possibilities.
At this point in my life its very nice to know I still have dreams, possibilities. Now I need to just stop living in possibility. Wink. (Note I did not resort to an emoji, even though I love emoji's. They are a fun, quirky, even silly little symbols).
I'm done with this hot weather. I know it just started, but I just thought I'd put it out there. I found myself the other day asking Fritz Coleman, Channel 4 weatherguy, why they turn the heat up so high. Is it really necessary? Yes, sometimes I do worry about my sanity.
If you've been following me on Facebook, you know about my pillow troubles. It's been jumping out the window during the night. My neighbor suggested I reverse top and bottom of my bed. You know, head at foot, foot at head. Tonight I'm gonna try it. Tonight. Exciting Saturday night.
And finally, yes, I know I am writing this on Friday. Duh. Sometimes I lose track of the days. That happens. Especially when you're busy doing other things. And that kinda worries me sometimes. I don't want to miss the days...whether they be Saturday or Friday or even Monday.
Happy thoughts and musings to you.
"Now wait a minute," you're probably saying, "How old were you in 1956?" Some of you might even wonder if I was even alive in 1956. God bless you...but I was. I was five years old. I had started kindergarten. And I began a love affair. But this love was for all cars from the 50s, unless you count Miss Gore, my kindergarten teacher, whom I remember having a wild crush on. She was, as they said then, the bee's knees.
Anyway, 1956 was also the year my grandmother bought her first Dodge. We had a connection in the car dealer business, a distant cousin named George. He was smooth one. But he took care of my grandmother through all her generations of Dodges, right up to her last, a 1976 Dodge Aspen. It looked like a junior g-man car which I inherited and drove for while here in California in the early 1980s after she passed away.
For some reason, though the '56 Dodge Lancer she owned was my favorite. It was three tone-color, just like the one in the picture. It had four doors, which I guess from the ad, was really something(?) I remember riding in that new car and loving it. In those day, however, cars were not the prices of what houses were then, so grandma was able to get a new car every three to four years. It broke my heart when she traded in on a '59 Dodge Coronet. It was solid green and uglier than sin. It was so long, it almost didn't fit in the garage!
So long story short, I think about that '56 car frequently. Probably didn't have a/c or power anything, but it was a fine car. What really strikes me though, is how very UGLY it was! In fact, most Dodges were ugly right into the 70s if you ask me. "Only a face a mother could love," is a phrase that comes to mind. And, yes, I do love it. Sometimes the memories attached far outweigh the superficial looks. Love is a funny thing. And once in love, it is wonderful if you are able to stay in love.
Look at those faces. Innocent. Sweet. "Just love us, dad. A cookie would be nice." You'd never believe that one of them is a serial barker. And its not the dog who spends most of his time in Zen poses. That would be Ching Ching, the Shiz-tzu. No, it would be Miguelito, the Chorkie who sees ghoulies in the bushes and gets upset at the mailman, a passing cat, a man with another dog, the wind, the moon, a disturbance on the sun. And he thinks I need to know these things. So he barks excitedly and persistently. Especially when I am on the computer or watching my soap.
Do you suppose he has a method to his madness? Do you think he knows I will eventually come and find him and scold him and tell you get his little tail inside this very moment? And don't you think I try to ignore him? But who can concentrate on anything with Barker the Sentry going off and off and off?
Okay, so I know the game. Tonight I sat down to write. And as soon as I started typing...you guessed it...bark bark bark. I gave in. I went to the back slider and turned on the light. There was my little soldier in the lantana, barking! Barking! Barking! I imagine there was something in the lantana, but I'll never know. I wasn't about to go foraging at 10:30pm. No, I called him, he finally came in, and here he sits on my lap, blissfully sleeping now.
Do I think he knows what he's doing? Do you? Is there a question whether to bark or not to bark? Not to this dog. Not my Miguelito.
There was a time or two I was an independent little cuss. Yes, me. I rebelled. I remember a time I decided that after school I would go to Robbie Bloch's house to play. I decide all on my own. And so I did. Trouble was, I was a second grader. And I didn't call my mother to let her know where I was. Of course it didn't occur to me she would worry. I knew were I was. And it was 1958. Nothing bad happened to little boys in 1958. At least not that we heard about. Not is suburban Detroit. So I had a good time playing whatever we were playing and finally Robbie's mom was making dinner and wondered if I shouldn't be getting home. "I guess," And so I left to head home. It must have been late spring because it wasn't anywhere near to get dark. So I just started back on my usual route home when I saw a familiar figure in the distance. It was my father. He was not happy.
Suffice to say I got a bit of a whipping with a thin switch on the way home. Across the back of my legs. Didn't hurt much more than my pride. It began to sink in that what I had done was not a good thing. Even though we didn't have cell phones, I did know our landline number by heart. And our address. We had to learn it in case we ever got lost. But I wasn't lost....
But my folks didn't know that.
I was grounded for sometime after that. I think I saw why what I had done wasn't exactly right, but, still. Okay, it was wrong. And I never did it again. To this day I still feel like I need to let someone know I'll be late coming home. Of course my dogs, Ching and Mig, don't care, even though they do scold me when I get home; mostly because they are hungry I expect.
My mother hugged me oh-so-tight that night at bedtime. It was then I realized just how worried she and even my dad had been. Although it was a foolish thing to do, it was also nice to see just how much my folks loved me.
I've had this picture on my bureau forever, but its been a long time since I really looked at it. It is one of the few, perhaps the only, picture I have of my dad when he was a kid. This is with his brother, Ross. If you look closely, there is a young girl peering out the window. I am sure that is my dad's sister, Jenny. Why she wasn't included in the picture, I don't know. Sad thing is I will probably never know since they are all gone now and I have long lost touch with anyone who might know. In fact they are probably all gone too.
My guess is that this picture was taken circa 1917 or '18. My dad was born in 1911, Ross in 1912 and Jenny in 1913. There was an elder sibling and a younger sibling, both who died as children. Again, there is no one to ask any more.
A lesson I am learning, probably much too late of course, is to ask questions and listen to the stories your elder family members tell. Someday, as with this picture today, you might want to know why they were dressed in those odd little suits and the girl banished to the indoors.
What I do know is that my paternal grandfather was a very stern man and had little patience for his kids, especially after my grandmother was killed in a fire. Again, I don't know the details of any of it. Another family mystery to ponder on this Father's Day. What I do know is that even just this little snippet of history my Uncle Ross told me years later helps me to understand my dad and why he was the way he was when my brother and I were growing up. He was what they would call "bullied" by his dad and charged with taking care of his younger siblings. He rebelled from what I understand, and it was a family in turmoil. A story for another blog.
In any case, I am thinking of my dad today and how he tried his best to be a good father. Although my dad was a life-long alcoholic, he worked everyday, kept a roof over our heads and food on our table even though he was either working in the factories or out drinking in the evenings. He always came home at night, though. That I interpreted as security I guess, because it was our "norm".
No father is ideal. I was lucky to have a dad who cared as best he could. And even though I sometimes hated him and wished he were dead, now that he is, I wish I could tell him one more time that I really did love him.
Happy Father's Day, John Beyer McMurray. May you rest in peace.
This is the back of the picture. It was common to get photos printed on post card stock in those days. The note says "Will be up when the roads get good hope your all well. Russell
Russell was my grandfather. This is the only souvenir of my grandfather I have.
Happy Father's Day, Russell McMurray.
I learned today that the gal who did mani/pedi's for me for several years passed away last evening after a short but almost violent fight with cancer. Her name was Marie. It was a shock to most who knew her. Marie was a feisty, spirited, pretty woman with whom you always knew where you stood. During our salon session, we would talk about everything from relationships, finances, and even politics. Marie was very involved in local politics, attending most city council meetings and voicing her opinions about the latest bond or tax measure or whatever was on the agenda. She's always tell me to be sure to vote this way or that, and funny enough I'd usually agree with her...even though she was pretty republican and am pretty democratic. That, however, didn't affect our friendship as it developed over the past seven or eight years.
Now she's gone. Suddenly. Horribly by cancer that she either didn't suspect or kept well hidden. Marie was a cowgirl who loves country western in all its forms. I think she grew up and in Norco and we here in the Inland Empire know that is the heart of horse country. And flags...well...Memorial Day, Fourth of July, Labor Day...her home was like a float in the Veteran's Day Parade. And more than flag and country, Marie love Halloween and Christmas. She would spend weeks decorating her booth. Halloween was a bloody mess (tastefully done of course) and Christmas, well no one loved Christmas more than Marie. Globes and Santas hung from the acoustic tiles. Gold streamers, glitter, Merry Christmas and Feliz Navidad banners...it was truly amazing.
Marie was one of those rare people who come into your life to perform a service and over time becomes so much more than a service provider. And even though we didn't always agree politically, there was not a prejudice bone in her body when it came to people of all gender identities, sexual persuasions and marital status. "Everything is great until someone breaks a nail," she would say. It was stenciled on her workspace wall.
So it is with disbelief and great sorrow I am trying to accept that someone so vibrantly alive, so direct and even blunt at times, but kinder than most and a source of support to many, is gone.
Her last name was Bull, but with Marie, there never was any bull. And who you saw was who she was. No pretense or phony baloney. She was the real deal. Godspeed, Marie. I will miss you.
All dates do not grow on trees. Here, in So Cal, there are vast date groves in the dessert and every year in the spring they have the Date Festival. I imagine a lot of people take dates to the Date Festival. And not wanting to date myself, I think I went to my first festival in 1976 more or less. All of this started me thinking about, you guessed it, dates.
June is a month with thirty days. If you think hard, each of those days are anniversaries of things that happened in June. Weddings, graduations, birthdays, retirements. So many are in June. My parents married on June 10. My cousin was born in June as were many friends. I graduated along with many others, on June 13 (high school) and June 1 (college). I retired in June. My mother passed away in June, as did a man named Jeffery Owens whom, although I never met him, his death by hate crime here in Riverside, had a profound effect on my life. I'm sure if you think about your life, there are a lot of these type of things that have anniversaries in June.
The granddaddy of them all as far as Big Dates that occur in June is, no, not Stonewall and Gay Pride Festivals, but of course, those are indeed extremely significant events. No, the Big Date I refer to here is the Summer Soltice. The longest date of the year. The day we officially begin Summer! Yay! I guess, yay! Summer is here already to So Cal with temps over 100 starting today or tomorrow. Summer Solstice. Celebrate!
Okay, so that's my ramble about dates, their varieties (Barhi. Syrupy rich soft date, the softest and most fragile. Dayri. Heavy, sweet flavored soft date. Deglet Noor. Sweet delicate flavored semi-dry date; known for its “true” date flavor. Halawy. Also Halawi. Khadrawy. Also Khadrawi. Medjool. Also Medjul. Thoory. Couldn't resist..who knew there were so many varieties of dates?)
But dates bring back their history while maybe we are creating new events and memories to celebrate. If we are luck, the new events outshine the bad ones and we are consoled. But we remember dates because to forget, well, it just wouldn't be fitting. "Those who do not learn history are doomed to repeat it." The quote is most likely due to George Santayana, and in its original form it read, 'Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.' The phrasing itself certainly is catchy. Something to think about as we hurtle forward through the dates of June and the chaotic times in which we live.