Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Monday, November 29, 2010

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Coastal Surfing

Aloha coastal writers,
      Coastal surfing inspires today. Enjoy!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Friday, November 26, 2010

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Surfing Sailing Cruising

Aloha coast writers,
     Surfing, sailing, and cruising in Waikiki sunset inspire today. Enjoy!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Surfing Coast

Aloha coast writers,
     Surfing near tropical coast inspires today's writing. Enjoy!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Waikiki Banyan Beach

Aloha Writers,
     Banyan beach in Waikiki inspires today. Enjoy!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Monday, November 15, 2010

Coastal Boating

Aloha coast writers,
     Coastal boating inspires today. Enjoy!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Friday, November 12, 2010

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Monday, November 8, 2010

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Coastal Shadows

Aloha coastal writers,
     Coastal shadows inspire today's writing. Enjoy!

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Friday, November 5, 2010

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Old Tire

The Broken Axle
We all stand around watching while Mama lowers a measuring stick into the gas tank of the Packard.  When she takes the stick out, it is wet clear up to the four inch mark—enough for a trip to the Santa Monica beach and back.  We all cheer because we haven’t been to the beach all summer.  “And we even have fifty cents left from Bill’s paper money for a treat,” Mama says.
When it was new, our 1926 Packard touring car was a movie director’s chauffer-driven limousine. It had a roll-up window dividing the driver and passenger compartments and soft grey upholstered jump seats that folded neatly into the floor.
Dada, who was an expert body and fender man, found it in a junk yard, and he labored long and lovingly over the massive dents in its body, finally restoring the car to its original condition.   The Packard was Dada’s pride and joy, the only material possession he owned, and we had strict orders to ask his permission before we ever used it.  Since Dada didn’t often give his permission, we sometimes used the car without asking him.  This was one of those times.  
Bill and I help Mama get ready by making peanut butter sandwiches and squeezing lemons for lemonade, and we’re soon on our way to our favorite destination, the beach.  Marion, the only licensed driver in the family, is the chauffer.  Mama, a tense navigator, sits next to her. My brother Bill and I are in the back seat watching over a big metal laundry tub that holds water and chunks of ice, a watermelon, and mason jars of lemonade.  The peanut butter sandwiches are close by in a shopping bag.
At about 10:30 a.m., my brother yells, “I see the water first!” and we all cheer.  The ocean is reflecting a clear blue sky, and we can’t wait to tear across the hot sand and jump into the foamy white waves.  “Hurry, hurry!” we nag my sister, learning up over her shoulder.  
We’re driving behind a big red Santa Monica street car, and when it turns on the track maze that takes it to the roundhouse at the end of the line, Marion steps on the gas hard.  As the car bumps over the rough tracks, we hear a sickening “Thud!” and the car stops right in the middle of the intersection.  Marion guns the motor, but the Packard won’t budge an inch.  Traffic begins to pile up in both directions.  Horns are honking, and from behind we hear a wildly clanging bell.  
“Oh no, there’s a great big red street car headed straight towards us!”Bill yells.  It grinds to a screeching halt just inches behind us, its noisy bell continuing to clang. 
“Everybody get out the doors nearest the sidewalk,” says Mama, “and watch the traffic both ways.”
When she has us all on safe ground, Mama hurries to a nearby gas station.  Marion and Bill and I watch a policeman try to unsnarl the traffic jam.  He directs autos around the Packard, but the street car can’t move until our car does. Street car passengers are poking their heads out of the windows, and a crowd is gathering on the sidewalk. 
“Keep that bell quiet!” the policeman shouts at the open front window of the street car.  The clanging stops abruptly.  “And you people move along—get going!”  The sidewalk clears.
“I’d better call a wrecker, Lady,” the gas station attendant tells Mama after a fast reconnoiter.  “It looks like a broken rear axle.”
“How much will the wrecker charge?” asks Mama.
“Hard to say, but I know for sure that in a couple of minutes that cop out there will slap you with a ticket for obstructing traffic and have this car towed to the police garage.  Which’ll it be?”
“Call the wrecker, by all means,” says Mama, with a firm tone to her voice. 
My brother and sister and I exchange worried glances.  I’m sure we’re all thinking about the same thing—the lonely half dollar in mama’s purse, all the money we have. 
The wrecker arrives almost immediately from a nearby garage. With the policeman directing traffic, the driver maneuvers his big truck into a back-to-back position with the Packard.  With a few deft movements, he attaches a huge hook and cable to the Packard and hoists its rear end.  He tows it away on its front wheels, the rear end dangling in the air, leaking a steady stream of liquid. 
“Is that gasoline pouring out of your car?” asks the gas station attendant. 
“No, there wasn’t that much gas in it,” says Mama, “more than likely it’s ice water.” 
“Might even be lemonade,” says my brother sadly, remembering all the lemons we’d squeezed that morning.  
Following the gas station attendant’s directions, we hurry down the street to the garage where they’ve taken our car.  When we get there, Marion and Bill and I sit stiffly on a rattan couch while Mama confers with a man in grease-stained coveralls.  
“You’re really lucky,” he says.  “We’ve located an axle for that Packard in a wrecking yard just a few miles from here.  We can have her all ready to go by four o’clock.”  
Mama asks the question that dominates our lives: “How much will it cost?” 
The man takes a stubby pencil out of his shirt pocket, licks the end of it, and does some careful figuring on the back of an envelope.  
“Nine dollars and eighty-three cents,” he says.  “The axel is used, so it’s a bargain.”
“Can you wait until Friday for the money?” says Mama.
“I wish I could,” he says, looking down at the three of us lined up stiffly on the edge of the couch.  “Things are so rough these days that the boss said I couldn’t release any work without the cash.  If you decide you don’t want the job done today, it’s no problem,” he adds kindly. 
Mama barely hesitates before she says in a firm voice, “Please go ahead.  We shall have the money in your hand by four.”
None of us even registers an expression.  We get up and follow Mama out to the sidewalk and a little way on down the block, where we form a tight circle.
“Mama, what are we going to do?” says my sister, who is especially worried because as the driver, the blame will more than likely be hers. We all know that Dada has no way to rescue us, even if we could get in touch with him in time.  “We don’t know anybody who has ten dollars.”
“Why of course we do,” says Mama.  “Mr. Bascomb has money.  We’ll put the ten dollars on our grocery bill.  Now who will go back to Glendale and pick up the money?”
We all look down, intensely interested at the cracks in the sidewalk.  It’s bad enough charging groceries from a man who is known in the neighborhood as “Old Man Scrooge,” but to ask him for cash on top of the $9.52 that we’ve already charged in the past week is unimaginable, especially when we have a $10 limit on our tab.  We’re all scared to death of Mr. Bascomb, who yells at us even if we pass too close to his apple display. 
Mama tries to make us feel better by telling us that Mr. Bascomb’s bark is worse than his bite and that he’s really a nice man no matter what people say and she’s sure he’ll understand that this is an emergency and help us, but we don’t believe her.
“Bill, you’re the man of the family today.  You go, and take Patty with you,” she says.  She hands Bill the half dollar, “Go across the street to that drug store and ask for five dimes, and don’t forget to say please and thank you,” she tells him.  
When he returns and hands Mama the dimes, she counts four of them out into his hand.  “This will get you and Patty there and back, but you must remember to ask for transfers so you can change streetcars.”
Then she adds the last dime.  “This is for a telephone call in case anything happens.” She digs in her purse for a scrap of paper and a pencil and copies the telephone number off the front of the garage.  “Hurry, there comes your streetcar.  It stops in that next block.  You’ll have to run!”
The conductor sees us coming and signals the motorman to wait. We scramble up the steps and Bill drops two dimes into the fare box and asks for transfers.  Then we hurry to a seat by an open window and lean out and wave goodbye to Mama and Marion.  
The hands on the big round clock in the grocery store window read thirty minutes after one when we arrive at the grocery store, sweaty and tired after a long walk from the end of the streetcar line.  We know that we should hurry so we can get back to Santa Monica before the garage shuts, but we scrunch down behind the outside fruit display, trying to get up the courage to go in the store and face Mr. Bascomb.  
“We’d better go inside before he comes out,” says my brother.  “If he finds us near these expensive apples, he’ll kill us.”   He takes me firmly by the hand-- something he does only in times of extreme danger like when we cross a major highway—and we march into the store together.
Mr. Bascomb is standing in his usual spot, guarding the cash register.  We stand by the counter, waiting for him to notice us.   
“Well, don’t just stand there, speak up, whaddaya kids want?” he growls at us.  
“We, uh, need ten dollars,” gasps my brother.  
“You need what?” he asks incredulously.  “What are you kids trying to pull? Go on home where you belong!”
My brother holds my hand tighter and starts talking very fast, pouring out the whole story from beginning to end.  When he stops talking, the grocer explodes.
“And what in God’s name would make your mother think I’d just hand over ten dollars of my hard-earned money to you kids just on accounta’ some cock-and-bull story like that?” he bellows. “You already owe me nine dollars and fifty-two cents on your grocery bill!” His face is beet red and his hands clenched into tight fists.  
“I don’t know….she just said you would,” my brother says, shrugging his shoulders and shaking his head, as though he himself would never entertain such a thought. 
All of a sudden, I remember what Mama said, so I tell him. “Mama said that your bark is worse than your bite and you are really a nice man no matter what anybody says and you would know that this is an emergency and you would help us.” 
I can tell that my brother is upset with me for what I just said, but Mr. Bascomb doesn’t seem to mind that much.   In fact, he even looks a little friendly.  His face relaxes and his fists unclench and then he heaves a long sigh.   
He looks down at me and says, “Well, Little Lady, I guess if she said I would, I’d better do it then.” He opens the cash drawer, takes out a stack of ten dollar bills, sorts through them until he finds a crisp new one, and hands it to my brother.
“Golly, you mean—gee, Mr. Bascomb, thanks, thanks a lot!” says my brother, obviously overwhelmed with surprise. My brother folds the ten dollar bill and carefully tucks it into the pocket of his denim shirt, buttoning the flap for security.
Mr. Bascomb leaves his post at the cash register and walks us out the door.  “You two must be hungry after that long trip,” he says.  Then, unbelievably, he picks out two of his number one premium quality red delicious apples, shines them carefully on his white apron, and hands them to us.
We finally recover our speech, thank him several times, and then hurry off towards the Santa Monica streetcar line.  With any luck, we’ll make it home before Dada does.

copyright 11.04,10
smokey road publishing
all rights reserved

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Coastal Writer

On Service Learning

College is always somewhere, taking the form of nervous thoughts, of ever graduating, of coming and going, but today nervousness hinges on the idea of service learning. Sometimes the nervousness makes a little announcement about my forty-three years, as if there were some time limit on learning, then goes quietly away. There are times when it attaches itself in the form of extra credit work,  my college psychology class project at the state mental rehabilitation hospital, the place I now go quietly. On this particular day, the nervousness travels the whole trip with me, actually, with me and my classmate. We go for three hours every Thursday to assist women patients who are up for being discharged; we do their makeup, hair styling--whatever-- to raise their self-esteem to a state of noticeability (yes, maybe even nobility). This is the state where my nervousness normally subsides; we do our three hours, hugs all around, and leave.
I see the look on the security guard's face on my way out. He signals to me.
I pick up the phone, squeeze tight.. It's Raeanne, the hospital activities coordinator. She says,“I’m sorry to ask you, but can you do a special favor for me?" 
  “Sure, I’d be happy to.” I'm feeling extra relaxed having spent time with the ladies.
     "Pat, we’re shorthanded here, and a male patient is asking to be taken to the store to buy some jeans. He’s insistent.  Would you be able to take him to the Penney’s store in Sedro Woolley this afternoon?”
"Sure you won’t mind?”   
"Mind? Reanne, should I?”
     “Well, we haven't had him outside the hospital, ever. I'd rather give him to you than trust him with our security."
     "Penny's store in Sedro Woolley? Would mean undercover officers, they would have security."
"The trip into town only takes about ten minutes. Don't you think we should let him do some things on his own?"
"Oh, I'm sure there are many things he can do on his own. It's only, well it's a little late in the day, and my home in Oak Harbor drifts more as the sun sinks. My husband will be home by five, yes, I think he said five.
  “Well, we want our patients here to do things on their own, and it'll only take ten minutes, and, well thank you”
     “Yes, the ten minutes that will take an hour," I think. This taxi cab will get him to town and plunk him safely back in the hospital in a matter of minutes, another satisfied customer from J.C. Penny. He won’t even know what hit him. Am I missing something here? Yes, I will come to my senses and do this for her.
     “Great, I knew I had the right person,” Reanne says, "I'm so relieved."

As I’m driving toward the hospital entrance, I see Joe, a tall hospital orderly, standing beside a wiry little gray-bearded man, who is looking up into Joe’s face, speaking intently and gesturing excitedly with his arms, his fists clenched.  When I pull up next to them, Joe breaks into the man’s monologue, laughs good-naturedly, and says, “If you say so, Sam.  Here’s your ride.”  Joe quickly ushers Sam into the passenger’s seat, introduces us, and closes the car door.  “Good luck!” he calls over his shoulder to us as he hurries back into the hospital.   
Sam reaches over and shakes my hand firmly. “Thanks a lot for doing this, Mrs. Adams,” he says, “I been wearing these pants the hospital gave me, but I sure would feel better in a pair of Levis.  The police took me off a bus about a month ago, crazy raving lunatic that I was, and brought me here.  Don’t know what happened to my jeans.  Somebody said they’d been ripped up in the fight.  Probably cut ‘em myself with those two big knives they said I was waving around.”
I grip the steering wheel a little tighter and try to think of a safe direction for this conversation. 
“So, Sam, where were you headed?”
“You mean on the bus?”
“Yes, when they, uh, yes, on the bus.”
“Well, apparently to kill my ex-wife.”
“Oh.”   I’m relieved to see a sign announcing the town center ahead.
I park on the street near the Penney’s store. “Here we are.  While you’re trying on Levis, I’ll be looking around,” I say cheerfully, “take your time.”
“Oh, it won’t take any time at all.  I don’t need to try them on.  I’ve been wearing Levis for 40 years.  No question about my size.”
I bite back the advice I’m about to give.  “Oh…. OK, sounds good.  I don’t really have anything to look around for anyway.”
I stand off to the side while Sam goes straight to the stacks of Levis, locates the size he wants, and then pays for them at the cashier counter. 
“I got ‘em.  We can go now,” he says to me.  It’s clear that he’s in a hurry.
“Do you need anything else in town?” I ask.
“No thanks, I have to get back.  I can’t miss my appointment with Doc.  We’re working on the garden in my head.  He’s teaching me to pull out all the weeds I got in there and plant flowers in their place,” he says.
Before I can think of an appropriate and encouraging answer, he continues on, obviously excited about the concept.
“If you think about it, it makes sense.  If I don’t fill those ugly weed spaces with beautiful flowers, the weeds will just grow back.  It’s a whole new way of thinking about things.  And you know what, I’m understanding how my thinking about my wife was all full of weeds.  I had so many wrong perceptions, and Doc is helping me learn that it’s never too late to change wrong thinking,” he says.
“Sounds great,” I say, trying hard to match his enthusiasm for brain gardening. 
When we get back to the hospital, Joe is standing at the curb waiting for us, apparently alerted by the guard at the front gatehouse.
Sam shakes my hand with both of his, thanks me profusely, and hurries inside.
The very next day I get another phone call from Raeanne. “I need another favor, Pat,” she says.
“Sure, what is it?”
“Sam needs to go back to Penney’s to exchange his pants.  He says they’re the wrong size.”
“I was afraid of that,” I say with a sigh.  “He didn’t even try them on.”
“He says that the pants are marked wrong.”
“Levis marked wrong?  No way!  It’s his fault for not trying them on.”
“I’m sorry, Pat.  Maybe I could get somebody else.  It’s just that he particularly asked for you.  He said that you were so nice to him.”
“Well, apparently I was too nice.  I should have insisted that he try them on.”
“You did fine.  Do you mind taking him back?”
“No, but I hope he’ll just do a simple exchange….I don’t want them treating him like a mental case.”
“Maybe you can talk to him,” she says.
I pick Sam up at the curb as before and we drive off, followed by Joe’s shout of “Good luck!”
“Mrs. Adams, did Raeanne tell you?  These pants are marked with the wrong size!  Can you believe that!”  Sam says excitedly.  
“It is hard to believe,” I say, trying to keep the irony out of my voice.
“Forty years and I’ve never seen anything like it!”  
I figure I’ll make a stab at getting him to try the next pair on.  “Are you sure they’re marked wrong?  Maybe your weight changed.  Why don’t you just try some on and then exchange these for the right size?” I say in what I hope is a helpful, interested tone. 
“Nope, I’m not trying on Levis!  Besides, that wouldn’t be fair to the other customers,” he says.
“It wouldn’t be fair for you to try on Levis?” I ask.
“No, I mean it wouldn’t be fair to put those mis-marked pants back on the shelf.  Besides, if these are marked wrong, some others may be too.  I wouldn’t do that to the other customers or to J.C. Penney’s or to Levis.  I couldn’t live with myself if I didn’t let them know!”  He is talking very fast and punctuating key words by shouting and punching the air with his fists.
“Oh, I see,” I say, wondering if this behavior was being worked on in his weeds and flowers therapy.
When we walk into the store, I brace myself for a confrontation.  I am certain that in his agitated mental condition, Sam is not going to accept the truth.  I hope that Joe has frisked him for knives.
I stand back out of earshot, planning the route I’ll use to get Sam out of the store before the police arrive.  I watch him lay the pants on the counter and enter into an intense conversation with the cashier.  She shakes her head” no,” and Sam vehemently nods “yes.”  They bend over the pants with a tape measure, and then at Sam’s prodding, the cashier goes to the shelves and begins to measure all the Levis.  All the time, she’s shaking her head, and Sam is talking heatedly and waving his arms and fists to make his points.
When I see the cashier heave a big sigh and pick up the phone, I decide it’s time to get Sam out of there.  I move in and take a firm grip on his arm, preparing to drag him out bodily, if necessary.  Then I overhear what the cashier is saying on the phone.  “Yes, it’s true, all the 32’s are marked 34….no, no problem, thanks to this observant customer who discovered the mistake and reported it right away.”
Sam is beaming.  Turning to me, he pats the hand that is still clutching his arm and says, “Thanks for believing in me, Mrs. Adams.”
“No problem, Sam,” I say, just as though I had never doubted him. 
I feel the tug of a weedy wrong perception being yanked out of the garden in my brain and replaced with a flower of truth.  Thank you, Sam.

copyright 11.04.10
smokey road publishing
all rights reserved

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Parasailing the Coast

Aloha Coasties,
     Parasailing along Hawaii coast inspires today. Enjoy!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Boat Channel Surfing

Aloha coast writers,
     Surfing in boat channel inspires today's writing. Enjoy!