Hold me I’m frightened…

Rex started kindergarten.  I was surprised by my reaction.  Felt fine.  Till we crossed the threshold of the campus that was filled the chaos and crowds of Kuala Lumpur right before the Japanese approached. Then I wanted to cry.  Sob.  My tough boy was gripping my hand as I said my hellos.  I kept indicating without words how I felt so as not to upset Rex. ( Finger from corner of eye down, tear).

on the way to school.  Support from his sister

on the way to school. Support from his sister

At one point a nice mom spoke to me about something unrelated.  I nodded politely, but she might as well have had burning hair on her head as I couldn’t make out what she said.  “I’m in CRISIS right now”  I thought.

The last few days he had been saying “I want to stay in pre school.”  I can’t say the truth.  I do too. You are right.  It’s all down hill from here.  Until you get your drivers license and feel someone up sexually.

Happily They only have half days for the start.  So I took him out to celebrate.  Sweets, natch.  cupcakes

I was squeezing the last bit of summer I could out of this truncated season.  I do not believe it is right that children begin school before Congress is back in session. Totally messed up.  So, now that Labor day is no longer sacred we traveled till the 11th hour.  We spent the last 10 days glamping it through California.  A family reunion with American and Dutch family was like a dream commune existence, but with continental breakfast.  Kids jumped out of bed to safely play with extended cousins while we slept in and leisurely made some coffee before we hiked, swam, drank beer.

a few of us who discovered some vineyards

a few of us who discovered some vineyards

" eat this, my dad's a chef

” eat this, my dad’s a chef

in case Mark and I lost each other, we had name tags.

in case Mark and I lost each other, we had name tags.

 

Off to my family’s annual pilgrimage to Yosemite.  I love it so.

Rex finds his own perch

Rex finds his own perch

That $600 in swim lessons paid off.  First summer with out a float vest.

always somewhere to climb

always somewhere to climb

Side bar,  one interesting thing I noticed in Yosemite this year.. no, not low water, brown grass and over priced bland food, I expected that, but there were so many foreigners.  I don’t mean to sound Archie Bunker, and I know it’s  a world wide destination, but there were more Europeans there than any year I can remember.  I offered to take photos for so many German tourists I was afraid the French and British visitors would brand me as a collaborator.  Later when we were at the Lodge in the valley a French woman was complaining to the hostess at the Mountain Room Broiler ( they call it grill, but whatever it was called in 1978 is what I call it) Oh, I’m from Culver City and I know it’s not great.  If you were from France, oy!  I had to interject.  “It’s not good, no where around here is going to be good.”  The hostess smiled, while French lady looked unbelieving.  I found her husband outside, “I just talked to your wife.  Tell her we all know the food is not very good in the park.” Blank face.  I should have just offered to take their picture.

Rex loves the cafeteria there.  He calls it the “Room with all the food.”  Me:” the cafeteria?”  ie, that dump?  “Yes, mommy I love it!”

We played in the river.  We saw deer. deer in yosemiteyosemite with kids

Rex ran naked through the fields and woods. I brought my wine, so it was all good to me. I got no cell reception–yippiee!  That’s living.

One day we went to the pioneer village and watched a Blacksmith work. kids and blacksmitth I have rarely seen my kids so fascinated and focused on the 3 dimensional world.  I didn’t prattle on about my love of Laura Ingalls Wilder, just in my inner voice.stagecoachWhen I take the winding road in or out of Yosemite I marvel at the people of yore who came there on horseback and coach.  10 minutes in a stage coach and I needed a kidney transplant.  How did they do it?  When we left I offered to take my kids to the Mariposa Grove to see the big redwoods.  Rex has been talking about big trees for two years since we went through a deep forest near the Oregon border.  “NO”  They screamed.  They were worn out.

45 minutes later.  “You guys let’s say we get lunch in Fresno and go back to school shopping.”  The back seat cheered.  I cheered to be in a smaller scale city with a Macy’s I could practically park in front of the door, everything was on sale and they called me ma’m.  Big city living can be tasking, nice to be in  a medium market.

So, we are the brink of day 2 of Kinder.  “How was it Rex?”

“Horrible and sort of awesome.”  I told Mark that Rex said he is afraid of not having friends.  Mark looked up, ” I’m still worried about that.”  I think that’s why it does choke me up.  We all feel uneasy going into a new space, new people, but as we age we learn to shove the feelings down, or mask them.  But, we know our little ones are still open, vulnerable.  Will he be ok?  Probably.  But, it’s also the beginning of me not being able to fix things in his life.  The separating.  My heart breaks a little. Wish we could get back on the road where I feel somewhat in control.

 

Picked another winner

Last night GeorgeMckenna won the school board seat in LA for District one.  Mark and I were there.daphne brogdon and george mckenna victory

My cute partner in crime

My cute partner in crime

Happy the experienced guy won and the Mark Ridley Thomas machine did not prevail.  But, what did we eat?  They served some good Caribbean food.  Good we ate before we walked in the room because it was Louisiana hot in there.

when it looked like victory...  ah, where is the media consultant.. why the blank wall?

when it looked like victory… ah, where is the media consultant.. why the blank wall?

Think they didn’t have the campaign funds for A/C.  But, good vibes mixed with the heat as the results came in he was ahead from the start– barely, but never lost the lead.

with our friend retired Councilman Nate Holden

with our friend retired Councilman Nate Holden

Of course hardly anyone voted so in the end though he won by about 6%, that was only 1,800 votes. In a city our size that’s tiny.  But, hey, a special election in summer?  To be expected.

"Mey Ms. Waters can I get a picture?" We use to live near her. "Where are you now?" She asked.

“Hey, Ms. Waters can I get a picture?” We use to live near her. “Where are you now?” She asked.

The event we had for him a couple of weeks before went well. I was sweating with A/C trying to  get bodies there.  Summer vacations, apathy and resistance to a nuanced political strategy made it hard to get people to commit.  But, in the end I got the numbers I wanted.

The candidate speaks in my family room

The candidate speaks in my family room

It was a fun party and it was good mix of people. Folks were charmed and impressed by Dr. Mckenna when he spoke and everyone loved Mark’s grilled cheese.

grilled cheese fuels democracy

grilled cheese fuels democracy

Daphne Brogdon's mckenna event

The opening act

I was really touched by a few old friends who came or volunteered and loved seeing new faces.  I think it’s great for our kids to see us involved in our community. But I won’t kid you, I’m glad it’s over.  Oh wait… this was just the special election!  Next year it happens again.  Honey, warm up the grill!

Me, Nate, actress Lisa Raye McCoye, Mckenna, Mark, Jan Perry

Me, Nate, actress Lisa Raye McCoye, Mckenna, Mark, Jan Perry

Accelerated Math Summer

Was on the fence about pushing Viv into this… but once we got going it’s like going halfway around a lake, you got to finish it!  It’s been a chore for all involved.

I’m not sure, is math harder now, or is did I have such an alternative education that I was at Bette Davis double feature when this stuff was being taught?

almost at the end...

almost at the end…

stop me before I volunteer, again

 

I think I have a problem.

I can’t stop volunteering.

A few months ago I was elected head of my neighborhood association.  10 Saturdays out of the year I run the meetings, bring the refreshments and in general voice the concerns of our community to the city.  So far I threw a block party, longwood block partyhelped get some trees planted, advocated for some issues with our local councilmanherb wesson with constituents , and got a website up.

The jewel in my unpaid work history was my mayoral appointment to the Central Area Planning Committee.  Roughly twice a month I am one vote on planning issues that come before us.  I get to go to city hall and I have a laminated pass.  Never has anyone felt so excited to be accepted as a civil servant. Maybe because of all the years of freelancing, I like going to an important building with a clip on badge and working.. albeit with no salary.commissioner Brogdon

I’m also on a few committee’s for my daughter’s school. ( charter, underfunded).  So I take some interest in the school board races.  There are few that do.  It’s pretty un sexy, but in LA we have a mammoth school district and unlike other cities the mayor and the council have no control over them.  So, it’s a whole other empire.  Charter’s, while somewhat apart from regular public schools, still must be granted their charter through the school district.  So, the LA school board is “our” school board as well.   Teacher’s unions tend to not like charters because the teacher’s are outside of the union.  Charter’s are suspicious of teacher’s unions and afraid they will try to shut them down.

My take on all this is that parent’s are discerning consumers of education.  So, charter’s magnets, traditional, private they will be existing with each other. But, we need to put our best foot forward. There are people in our area who would be interested in going to the local public school, but they don’t offer tours.  “Why?’  is what we have heard more than once when calling the school…that sound you here is the interested parent filling out an application for a charter lottery. No surprise, it’s under enrolled.  A mile away a traditional public school does do tours and shows itself well. That school is humming along.

So,  heard some charter parents were rally around one candidate in a special election to be held August 12th.  Good lord, the only thing lamer than having a special election in the dog days of summer would be starting school that day.  OH, that is what LA unified is doing.   I spoke to some of my political mentors about one candidate, George McKenna.  He is a retired teacher and administrator.  Years ago they made a “Stand and Deliver” type movie about his work turning around a tough school starring Denzel Washington.  A friend set up a lunch for us to meet and I went, even though he looks nothing like Denzel.  While not a movie star, I found a charming Southern man who was very thoughtful and earnest about helping children.  Before I could order an ice tea he was talking about trying to get mental health services to students in LA schools who come from troubled places.  It was one of the concerns that reminded me of how vast the LA school system is. By the way since I was a kid I have thought the district should be broken up, but fat chance of that happening.   But, what can happen is for the grip to be loosened a bit on school so that a school can cater to their particular community.  This was something Mckenna and I agreed on. Well, we agreed on quite a bit.  From the good deviled egg appetizer to how a lousy principal can sink a school.

I told him, look the charter’s are scared of you.  He didn’t know why.  “I’ve gone on record as saying if a local school is working, charters wouldn’t exist”.  He was surprised the Teacher’s union backed him because of this.  He believes in traditional, charters, magnets, whatever works for children, not one ideology. I was touched by his sincerity and persuaded by his intellect and experience. He is being outspent. “Can Denzel give you some money?”

“I don’t know how to get to him.” he said.

So, before my after lunch espresso arrived I volunteered AGAIN.

“George, maybe I can throw you an event.” My dear husband was eager to hear about my lunch.  Later we attended a political meeting that a neighbor of ours had invited us too.  On the way out he met George.  The candidate was walking by himself having just thanked the group we were attending for their support and was on to the next.

“You need to go to 5 events a day.” Mark said earnestly.

“I wish it was only 5.” George said in his honey dripping accent.

We walked away and Mark said, “Let’s do grilled cheese.”  He was totally on board.  We must have done at least 3 grilled cheese events for Garcetti.  Now that the famous Thursday grilled cheese nights at Campanile are gone for good, it might be a bit of a draw for folks.  Former council members Nate Holden and Jan Perry who are my friends are also hosting.george mckenna fundraiser

The story has been picked up by a local online publication.  Come by if you care about educating the young, or just want to eat.  Don’t make my volunteering in vain!

 

 

 

More Summer trip…

Slow down summer!  My hair has been in a dirty ponytail for weeks and I don’t have to be anywhere before 9.  This is living.. So the trip I mentioned a few weeks ago continued up to Mendocino.  North of SF you see a lot more green and drivers let you change lanes on the freeway.  Definitely out of LA.  I like it aesthetically up there more, though when I have lived in No. Cal.  I did miss the dynamism of LA.

We stopped for lunch at a small, old town, Hopland.  So many towns up there you could scamper around and make a trip out of.

Hey, look there, another pretty spot

Hey, look there, another pretty spot

Eventually we got to our prize, Dr. Dean’s home.  Many acres of nature and fun.  The smell is always striking as is the quiet.  The constant noise we experience in cities makes us deaf and crazy, yet I don’t notice it till I’m far away.   There was a fawn born on their land days before our arrival.  Breathtaking to see such a deer and we hoped her mom would be able to protect her from other wildlife…not always the case.baby deer

This doesn't look like La Brea avenue

This doesn’t look like La Brea avenue

Last time we were there they were hollowing out a great old redwood stump for their grandkids to play in.  This trip it had been masionized.

What you doing under there?

What you doing under there?

The kids loved it and it was no surprise when I saw recorded on the Edell’s DVR “Extreme tree houses”.

Rex wants them to put in an elevator.  One morning he got up early to speak to the carpenter working on it.  He was trying out his favorite joke.

Rex: “why are you under there?

carpenter: “I’m working.”

Rex: “But, Why are you under there?”

It took a while but finally pay dirt.

Carpenter:  “Under Where?”

Rex “I got you to say underwear!”

Trying to be a good guest I made an error that is causing me discomfort still.  I decided to repair the wood borders of the path to their river spot.  I moved a bunch of sticks that had been the border of the path, but had moved during the winter.  I went near one shady spot at the base of a redwood to pull up a longer downed branch to make a border and then felt pain.  I looked down and there were yellow jackets all around me.  Mark had been stung on an off beaten trail the day before and Dean’s wife Sharon had told us the best thing to do is run.  I did just that.  Into the river.  I pulled out a stinger when I got there.  It was much worse than a bee sting.  My arms and ankle swelled and got flushed.  The cold of the river worked as an analgesic.

safely away from yellow jackets

safely away from yellow jackets

I sipped a beer and tried to calm myself.  It felt bad.   By dinner I was a bit better and Sharon gave me two Benadryls to help.  Before desert I was face down.

Dean: “You can’t handle that!  I knew you when!”  Sure, in my twenties my ability to process foreign substances was far greater.  I crawled to bed.   “Get up” Dean exhorted me.  “We got s’mores ready for the kids.”

Okay, I staggered to the gathering, but after shoving one melted marshmallow in my mouth I limped off to bed and sank.

A week later back home the swelling returned.  My hair follicles burst upward and the itching was intense.  A non drowsy antihistamine helped, but now back to acupuncture and Chinese herbs, which is the biggest help for my annoying skin.

Another way we try to be good guests is we cook.  Well, easy when you travel with Mark Peel sure, but I jump in as well. It’s easy with Sharon’s garden and she went to Fort Bragg and got a whole, fresh wild salmon that Chef Peel did his handiwork to.  You don’t get salmon like that everyday! Melt in your mouth.

great dinner.. before I passed out

great dinner.. before I passed out

There was a cauliflower dish I am refining I enjoyed and one morning made these scones. Some mornings you need something fresh baked!  They have yogurt in them so they are a little less decadent than a normal scone. I put orange zest in them, but I want to tweak some more and add more orange flavor and some whole wheat flour.yogurt scones

Better than a bottle of wine as a host present, Mark brought the fixins to make a tree swing.  I swooned when he put ours up.  Using a sling shot and some creative thinking he did the same for Dean and Sharon.  He spent days searching for the perfect tree.

Mark Peel, Tree Swing maker

Mark Peel, Tree Swing maker

On the trip I didn’t let my damaged skin get me down.  It’s always hard to leave their paradise, but a dose of reality in the country marked our departure.  They are off the grid so we took some trash to the dump for them when we left.  The chain smoking ladies in pajamas and their tatted up men folk dropping of their waste showed us we were not at Kennebunkport. (Note: file that character away for a sketch one day)

Caught lunch on the way

a place this cute has to be good

a place this cute has to be good

and then a big, good smelling whiff of nature when we rolled into Marin County to stay with our friends and my god daughter.  Next day headed to Santa Cruz, saw another friend and then took the kids to Santa Cruz beach Boardwalk.

skee ball queen

skee ball queen

Back when I was a little kid we use to “summer in Salinas”. ( Yeah, not the Cape)  We would spend a couple of weeks with my cousins after our Yosemite camping trips.  My folks barely slowed the car as they push us out and speed off to Monterey for a couple of nights of child free time.  At the time I thought, “Why do they need to leave us behind?”  Now, of course, I get it!

My cousins were hilarious and we loved going to the boardwalk.  It could never be built today.  Coastal commission, what have you , so it’s great to walk on it’s creaky boards and smell the frying of corn dogs.  When I was little — I was the youngest of all the cousins I tripped over a $5 bill.  The cousins and my sisters surrounded me.  “If you don’t buy us tickets with that money we all have to go home.”  Oh, sure, I don’t want to go home.

Cut to I’m playing skee ball with my kids and you have to spend about $800 in tokens to earn enough tickets to redeem for a fruit shaped eraser.  The kids were a few tickets short when I — NOTKIDDING-  FOUND A $5 BILL!!  I bought tokens and won a few more tickets for my kids.  Still not enough for a back scratcher though. One thing that is different so many years later… the rides where I have to go in loops make me VERY ill.  I can feel the plaque on my brain crumbling.  I’m sure I’ve sped up aging on a tilt a whirl. Mark and Rex are the daredevils in the family.

father son bonding

father son bonding

We stayed so late we couldn’t make it far down the 101.  So our one non coach surfing night was in a hotel in Salinas.  You know how I said you can find so many towns in Sonoma and Mendocino that you could explore and enjoy?  Salinas not so much.  35 years later and gentrification never stopped here.  I found a good little coffee place down town, but most of the patrons looked like they would have been friends with my uncle.  The only hipster in the place was the barista.  There were empty store fronts nearby.  I once asked my cousins, “what do you do in Salinas?”  They replied, “Go to Monterey.”

We stopped back at Vines on the Marycrest and I stocked up on more wine.  I had given out most of my host presents and now I needed a gift as I went back to the noise of the city.  For the smell maybe I should tape a piece of lavender to my upper lip.

Butt really

We all gaze at our kids when they are little.  Their little noises, lips, legs. All so cute.  So when I saw Rex standing in the TV room with only his shirt on I did what any loving mom would do.  I kissed his butt.  “Oh, you are so cute, baby.”

happy times santa cruz boardwalk

happy times santa cruz boardwalk

“Mommy, I just went poo.”

“Oh”

“And you just kissed me butt!”

“Oh, well, do you need some help with that?” Realizing that he was standing just outside the open door of the bathroom.

“No.”  Oh, good I thought he has been listening to my lectures about how no one will wipe him in Kindgarten and he has to do it all himself.

“I’m not done yet.”

“Oh”. He kept getting less, and less cute and my actions seemed rash in retrospect.

pool danger

A quick cautionary tale…

Rex is in swim classes, so on the 4th when we were at my sister’s pool I let him swim a bit without his floaty vest.  He loved jumping in the pool and swimming out.  He has progressed quit a bit.  I was always by his side.  At one point I thought his eyes were looking very red.

“It’s time you got out Rex.”   NO!  He wouldn’t he was having too much fun.  A little while later we all piled out for dinner.  Rex called for me as he walked across the patio, “Mommy, I don’t feel so good.  My head hurts.”  I panicked thinking of the stories I’ve heard of dry drownings.  Mark said, I’ve never hear of that?  I replied “well, you don’t foresee the dangers I do!”

Rex at his lesson

Rex at his lesson

I took Rex to the bathroom and he proceed to be sick with copious amounts of water.  “Rex, did you remember to blow out like the teacher told you?”

“No, mommy.  I didn’t”  More sick.

I thought of taking him to the ER.  But, gosh I hate going there.  I figured it was good he was getting the water out.  A lot came up and then he fell asleep for hours.  We took him home and I thought he was better, but he got sick one more time.  Then he fell asleep next to me.  I kept there all night so I could watch him.  The following morning he was fine.

Just one more summer worry for you!