Wednesday, September 2, 2015


New poem inspired by a first grade class.


When we had a sub today
While our teacher was away,

Taking roll call for the day
"Present" is what she had us say.

That made me grin from ear to ear
'Cause when my name's called, I shout "Here!"

Instead, today I showed no fear
I spoke out "Present" loud and clear.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Not so Neighborly

Did you know that you can’t park your car on an unpaved surface in Ontario, CA?  I recently found that out when I found a bright yellow citation from the Code Enforcement Division for parking in the dirt next to our driveway. 
Believe me – having a paved parking area for my car is on the list of home improvements. I just wish I had known there was a code against it sooner so I could have pushed the driveway project ahead of the tool shed Dave built for me that’s become Mimi’s Clubhouse.

When I moved into my current address last August, I didn’t think that parking was going to be an issue. There seems to be plenty of parking along Fourth Street, but there is no stop sign between Mountain Avenue and San Antonio Avenue so people tend to speed making it a very dangerous road. Half the people on my block who have parked on the street have had their vehicles hit by speeding cars. The first week I parked overnight in the street, the side view mirror on my car was knocked off; I found it in the gutter, two doors down. That was a minor inconvenience. My poor next-door neighbor tried to have a taxi cab business, but when he had to park on the street because a different neighbor had complained there were too many cars in the driveway or some such nonsense, his parked taxi was rear-ended by a hit and run driver and so he lost both his vehicle and his source of income.
 Our driveway is short and narrow. If Mama doesn’t pull up far enough, my car’s rear end hangs over the sidewalk. Thank goodness I didn’t get a citation for blocking the sidewalk because the fine for that is even higher than for the one I got for parking on an unpaved surface. We have a lot of foot traffic from people walking to and from one of the shopping centers on the corner of Mountain and Fourth. People walking, skateboarding or pushing strollers have never had any complaints about me parking on my own property.  In fact, many pedestrians stop to chat about the Little Free Library that sits in our front yard.


Rumor has it that it is a single neighbor who requests special attention be paid to violations of city ordinances that only he seems to be aware of. However, if this particular neighbor was really concerned about following protocol, he would not have an illegally constructed room addition behind his house.

Ontario has many ordinances and laws that create revenue for the city. I wish that the politicians were more concerned with traffic safety instead of ridiculous ordinances that only get cited when a nosy neighbor complains to the city instead of walking down the street and telling me in person, “Hey, did you know that it is against city rules to park on an unpaved surface? You could save yourself a fine by keeping your car on the driveway or street.” Instead, I get snuck up on at 6:30 in the morning at the same time as our household is supposedly receiving a “gift” from him. Some neighbors are not very neighborly.


Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Is Legit?

A disheartening experience and ensuing letter.  Has anyone else had this problem?
Dear VolunteerMatch,

I looked up volunteer opportunities to my local library online and was taken to an application that I diligently completed. However, when I did not hear back from the library, I called them as is suggested on the verification from your organization. As it turns out, the library does not accept online applications, which leads me to believe that you have linked yourself to them without their permission. Therefore, please remove me from your mailing list. Your website is misleading to those of us who like to volunteer without having information taken on false pretenses.


Tuesday, January 20, 2015



My body's full of polka dots
Everywhere I see red spots

     My arms --- DOTS!
     My legs --- DOTS!                                   

Lots and lots of polka dots

There's even one on my buttocks!

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Tattle Tales

Inspired by a third grade incident.

Tattle Tales

He moved after the freeze bell rang,
Dropped paper on the floor,
Broke Tommy's eraser,
And ran ............ all the way to the door.
     He ate candy at his desk,
     Always leaves a mess,
     And never does his best!
Yesterday, he threw the ball and
Hit Marcos in the eyes.

But, I've been really good today.
               Can I have a prize?

Saturday, December 6, 2014

The Beauty of Writing

It was unconventional, but it worked.  The 3rd grade students had traded papers with their neighbors and were correcting their morning work when I heard a paper rip and saw a student crying.  I pulled the girl in pigtails aside and handed her a tissue to wipe the tears beneath her glasses. “What’s the matter?” I asked.  When no words would come, I had her take three deep breaths. I waited patiently until she could confess she ripped her classmate’s paper after her table group teased her for spelling a word wrong. She wiped away more tears as I called over the perpetrator.  “I just told her that she spelled “what” wrong and the others asked me how she spelled it. Then she ripped my paper and started crying.” “Well, you hurt her feelings and need to apologize,” I said.  “I’m sorry,” said the girl. “And you need to say “It’s OK” I told the first student. “It’s OK,” she sniffled. “And, you also need to apologize to the paper for hurting it.”  I tried to be serious but it was so absurd I started laughing. The student’s tears also turned to laughter and she did apologize to the paper then returned to her seat. I got the class’s attention because I saw this as a teachable moment. “The beauty of writing,” I said, “is that you can always edit it.  It is more important to get your ideas on paper first and then worry about the rules of grammar.  In Teacher College, they taught us to encourage students to use ‘invented spelling’ where you write things down the way they sound so you don’t lose your flow of thinking. Then, you can always go back to correct spelling and make other changes.  That is what is so wonderful about writing – that you are able to edit your words.”

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Not That Riviera

On Friday the 13th, my phone rang at 7:00 a.m. with a plea from my step-mother, Tina, to please come help her move my 300-pound father from his bed to his wheelchair. I jumped out of bed and into the shower, then packed an overnight bag and drove the 30 miles from Ontario to Montebello, during Friday morning traffic. Upon arriving at their house, Tina was frantic, but Dad was lying on his hospital bed in the living room, like a large lump of bread dough covered with a brown and orange afghan. His right foot was uncovered, revealing a soft cast there to protect his right ankle that was fractured when he fell down the porch stairs three days ago.

Most of the day was spent waiting. First we waited for the case worker to connect with a coordinator. Next we waited for Nurse Monique to come evaluate the situation and make the decision of what action to take to help Dad. In the meantime, the decision was already made that he should go to rehab for physical therapy to strengthen his legs and ankles enough to support himself enough to move around.

Before Monique came, we spent about an hour getting Dad from bed to potty chair. First we swung his bad right ankle over, then his left, until both legs were dangling over the edge of the bed. It took us several attempts to get Dad to stand because he needed to rest between tries. Tina supported one of his arms and I supported the other while Dad tried to help himself up. He winced with the effort because of the pressure on his bruised ribs and the weight on his ankle. Eventually he was standing, supported by the arms of the chair. Step-by-step we worked together to rotate his body around to sit on the potty chair, Tina pulling his shorts down before he sat. It must have been uncomfortable for Dad to have to sit on a hospital chair naked from the waist down with his adult daughter in the same room with him, because he lost the urge. 

We spent some more time turning Dad on the chair in a better position to see the television. The television was Dad's lifeline. He was most secure holding the tv remote, but somehow we lost the it twice. We watched several cooking shows and Perry Mason in black and white. Next up was Ironsides, but we didn't get to watch the back-to-back Raymond Burr shows, because a message came on the tv screen that the company did not receive their bill payment. This led to the photo above when I brought Dad his laptop so he could get online to see if other checks were unpaid. You might think he felt undignified, but he said the situation didn't bother him and the cable company said the they were good payers, so not to worry. 

Monique bounded into the room, took his vitals, and gave us the low down. She said that she had arranged for a bed in the nearest convalescent hospital and that an ambulance was going to transport him to the facility and it was also arranged to pick him up and return him for his orthopedic doctor appointment on Monday morning. She warned us that the facility was understaffed and it was a good idea to be friendly to the nurses and spend as much time as possible next to Dad.

An ambulance was scheduled for 4:45 but when it arrived, the two EMTs wanted to call for backup to hoist Dad onto the gurney. So we waited some more. The second crew arrived  around 6:00 pm.  The four of them rolled Dad onto a crisp white sheet, and with an EMT at each corner and Tina holding his cast, they lifted him onto the gurney 1,2,3. 

We followed the ambulance to the Riviera Convalescent Home, just ten minutes away. There was some confusion about the room. I thought, "We waited all day to get into a bed there and it still wasn't ready?" An old guy in a wheelchair, whom I secretly dubbed Super Vet because of the large American flag sticking up from behind his head, was hovering in the hallway. The ambulance crew wheeled Dad into the room and one of the female EMTs immediately raced out saying, "There's a naked lunatic back there." We could hear constant moaning and the steady beep of an alarm. We followed the bed into its space and were assaulted by the stench. Three nurses filed by carrying towels and plastic bags. They passed our small curtained off area between the naked guy and Super Vet to clean up the mess completely nude man had made on the floor. Nurses continued coming in and out, each with their own explanation of John.  "He's not right in the head," "He's like a baby," "He's a little touched," they explained as the moaning started and stopped and the alarm continued. Finally, one of the nurses turned off the alarm. 

Tina went straight to a supervisor to see about a room change. The supervisor apologized for the mistake. The hospital had put Dad into the nursing home side because he is 86 years old. At his age, they assumed he was senile or had other long term problems. They found him a bed on the convalescent side where he belonged. He was there to gain strength through physical therapy for 2 to 3 weeks, not move in. We asked to see the room first. If it was unacceptable, we were moving hospitals. Thankfully, the other side of the hospital was completely different. There were only two beds in that room; it was clean, had a closet, a television, and most importantly, no lunatic. 

While the hospital staff prepared the room and the paperwork, we waited between the lunatic and the super nosy vet. Super Vet lived in the curtained off section closest to the door. He was obviously long-term and acted like king of the old crazies hallway. His section of the room was decorated with a large American flag behind his bed, personal mementos on the other wall, and big blue butterflies on the outside of the door. As soon as the nurses were done with John, Super Vet rolled his flag-wielding wheelchair into our space to find out what was going on and warn us not to leave anything out because there were thieves in there. He was more annoying than the lunatic because we couldn't ignore him. 

The supervisor quickly took care of the room change and apologized for the misunderstanding. The whole situation was something I never would have imagined. The staff at the facility was very understanding of our panic. They were friendly and helpful. Two nurses arrived to move the bed to the other side of the hospital. They got Dad settled, inventory taken, and brought him toiletries and a welcome bag with a little bear in it. It was now 9:00 pm and I was ordered home with love and appreciation.

I was so glad to have had that experience because it opened my eyes to the issues surrounding old age. I saw how much room all the necessities of age take up. In my parents' small living room sat a hospital bed, a potty chair, a walker, and a wheelchair. Any movement took some rearranging.

I never knew the end of life could be so dramatic; that there were places where there are moaning naked men and people walking their wheelchairs down the hall past others who sat slack-jawed holding onto teddy bears. I saw the difference between where they put the people who lived the rest of their days on county dollars and those who were there to rehabilitate their bodies. 

On this ominous day for bad luck, we felt blessed. My folks were very appreciative of the service provided by CareMore, the emergency technicians, and the Riviera staff. Everyone was extremely helpful. polite and matter of fact. I think they all understood what we were going through and were respectful of our needs.