Monthly Archives: December 2008

HomeKid: We’re shipping out…

I noticed in passing yesterday that the 44th anniversary of my leaving the Masonic Home for Children (located in Covina, California) had recently come and gone… unusual for me in that every year I note the day as it happens.

I guess the truth is this year life has been overtaken by events and, all things considered, the anniversary was just another day. Reawakened to the anniversary and events of that time, I can’t help but be reminded of when I first learned of the Home and that we (Sis and I) would become residents. It was back in the early summer of ’62 when Sis walked up to me and said, “We’re shipping out“.

Uh oh. “We’re shipping out.”

I grew up in the American generation of John Wayne / war movies where that phrase meant you were going somewhere… and it probably wasn’t gonna be fun, either.

That took me by surprise because we’d been living in Downey at our Aunt and Uncle’s house for the past couple of months and – except for me wetting the sleeping bag every night and complaining that all I got for breakfast was buttered toast and hot chocolate – things seemed to have been going pretty well. Guess not.

Due to unfortunate family circumstances, Sis and I had been in a pretty constant state of “musical chairs, housing edition” since the previous summer when my father sold our house in Lakewood and we’d moved to Washington state where there was plenty of work for welders like pop. Before Downey, we’d been living at our Grandmother’s house for a couple of months… where we’d come from living in a rental house with no furniture in Washington for the previous couple of months. And now, right about on time, the “time to pack up and move again” train was coming into the station and somebody had bought our tickets for us.

“What do you mean ‘We’re shipping out?’ “I said to Cris.

Turns out (fill in appropriate Sissy-designated nickname for our Aunt) her four – or was it five? – children was enough to handle… not to mention the pleasure of hanging out my sleeping bag to dry every day and feeding two more mouths at the table. (As an adult, I completely understand the issues she and her family were dealing with, btw.)

“Yup, we’re going to some home for kids. I hear it’s nice but how nice can it be – it’s a home for kids?!”

Great. First, we left out house in Lakewood. Then the place in Washington. Then Grandma and Grandpa’s (I have some real horror stories from that little goat-rodeo… and some wonderful memories of Grandma and me 🙂 Then Aunt and Uncle’s. And now some children’s home.


I don’t recall being told anything more about “the home” until later in the week when Aunt and Uncle mentioned it to us and said we’d be visiting the home “pretty soon”. “Pretty soon” was kinda like “maybe” except in this case, it meant “as soon as we can arrange it so don’t think we’re going to forget it… like we did about going to Disneyland or getting that bike we talked about.”

Nope, “pretty soon” meant “Your ass is outta here as soon as they’ll take you. And if they won’t take you, well, don’t make us go there.” That campground we lived in when we first got to Washington was looking pretty good at that moment.

Sure enough, “pretty soon” was pretty soon and before you know it, we were driving through the big iron gates of the Masonic Home for Children where some really nice folks in really nice clothes with really nice manners greeted us in the front lobby of the Administration Building. Dayaaaam, last time I was in a building this big and nice it was for a custody hearing and I was sweating like a pig at a bbq. Not this time, though… this place had a nice feel to it. And the kids that I saw looked pretty happy, so unless they were already “taken” by aliens, maybe this “home” place wasn’t so bad.

No sense in rushing to judgement, though, so I put on my nicest Opie’s-going-home smile and off we went for a tour of the place.

(To be continued…)

Dewey Readmore Books, Alex and Me

You probably already know about both of the creatures named in today’s title, but just in case you don’t, here are a couple of links you can visit to “come up to speed” (hey, are we driving somewhere, or what?!)

Dewey Readmore Books



I’d read about and somewhat followed these two creatures over the years and was saddened by their (inevitable) passing as they occurred. So imagine the pleasant surprise I experienced when I learned there were books written about them by those closest to them… their caretakers. As fate would have it, both books were recently released and found their way to our home as holiday gifts 🙂

Both are quick and easy reads, so I read “Dewey” last Friday and “Alex” on Sunday. They’re both down-to-earth and heart-warming and are available for checkout and your reading pleasure if you’re in the neighborhood. (Joanne’s reading Dewey today, will likely read Alex soon thereafter.)

Coupla notes: Looking at Dewey’s photo’s and reading about his behaviors / characteristics, it’s pretty clear to me he’s a Maine Coon. And Alex (!), all I can say is, “Nn-uuu-tt” (when you read the book, you’ll understand.)

Both wonderful and bright creatures that I’m sure their caretakers miss greatly, but are thankful for their time together.

Merry Christmas to all…

This was Delilah being Delilah a couple days after Christmas last year when we were taking down the Christmas decorations. Dee had more than enough Catitude – Can you see me now?! – for the entire neighborhood. She loved to lurk among the presents and under the tree whenever they were up, so when she found the wreath in the dining room, she had to climb into it and make sure we saw she was there.

We hope you and yours have a safe and Merry Christmas, Happy Channukah and a Happy New Year.

Ah, Christmas Cats…

Working on another project today, I came across this photo from a few years ago.

Joanne and some of the neighbors had been making gingerbread houses and when Joanne brought hers home, guess who was all over it?

TBC strike again!

Thinking of Dee…

A quick note to acknowledge the 2nd month anniversary of Delilah’s passing.

I had intended to log on and post a bit of video I took of her in mid-Summer, but I took too much time reviewing and savoring all of the clips I have on hand so am out of time at the moment. I’ll pick one and hope to post later today. I still have many photos of Delilah to upload and will do that as I have time.

Joanne and I were talking over dinner last night and though our entire pack clearly misses Dee’s physical presence, it seems as though we’re all adjusting and doing a bit better every day.

Slumdog Millionaire

I began reading about this (somewhat) independent film several months ago.

Shot in India, starring unknowns (at least to American filmgoers) and about a “slumdog” boy who finds himself winning a great amount of money on the Indian version of “Who wants to be a millionaire”.

I won’t spoil the plot / movie for you, but while there were some difficult scenes to watch from time to time in the movie, on several levels, this is one of the best movies I’ve seen in years.

If it comes to a movie near you, you might want to catch the cheap-seat matinee seating and watch it unfold in front of you.

Btw, if you’re a cheap ba$tard like me, you’ll probably want to take your own popcorn and soft drink. We used our frequent-member card for $6 per ticket vs the usual $9, but then paid $6 for a large popcorn and $4 for a medium coke.

To theater owners, I say Netflicks is looking better every day.

Brunch with Santa, Eagle Scouts rule!

I hear from Incline Mike that last weekend he participated in a Brunch with Santa gig up at the lake. Says it was wonderfully refreshing and rejuvenating to hang out with the kids and their parents and feel the love. Reminds me of when our boys were young and though he knew Santa was his main supplier of Christmas gifts, Scott very rarely would actually visit with a Santa or have his picture taken with him… in fact, only once that I can remember did he willingly have his photo taken with Santa.

So, need an extra shot of Holiday Cheer? I suggest you head down to Valley Fair and watch the kids and their parents lining up and having their pics taken with Santa – really warms the heart. Don’t hang around too long, though, or the “special unit” folks may pick you up!

On Sunday Joanne and I attended a ceremony awarding Jim and Jennifer’s son, Sam, (and Sam’s best friend) his Eagle Scout merit. Since neither of our boys were Scouts (and I was thrown out of Cub Scouts at 7 for swearing – I mean, wtf? ;), this was a completely new occasion for us.

The hall was packed – 160+ people of all ages, many of them Scouts and ~10 of them Eagle Scouts – and settled in very quickly. Lots of “routine” Scouting procedures involved ) greeting, flag presentation, review in pics and stories of the awardees Scouting achievements and their dedication to their community, family and friends. A few words by each of the new Eagle Scouts and we were done… maybe an hour +/- in total.

On our way home, Joanne and I talked about how comforting it was to see kids (and the adults in their lives) who are so dedicated to what some would consider some of the “old values”, such as caring for their community, family and friends. And humble… each of these boys – and pretty clearly, all of the other Scout-folks – came across as extremely modest about their participation and achievements… pretty much, “it’s nothing, I just kept doing what I was doing and things turned out ok.”

Pretty stark contrast to what we see on TV and read in the paper everyday, isn’t it? Yeah, I thought so, too.

If ever you receive an invite to attend a Scouting gig, I suggest you accept without a moment’s hesitation – saying the Pledge of Allegiance outloud and being around proactively involved young people is good for the soul.

Thx for stopping by, Happy Holidays and write when you get work.

Pandora “remembers” where her chair is…

(So here’s a clip (1:40, I believe) that I shot early last week.

I’d walked past the sunroom and in to my office, passing Pandora as she was sitting by the sunroom screen door asking me if we could go outside. I thought since she was in a communicative mode, perhaps she’d show you how she knows to walk directly to – and sit in – her outdoor chair.

She got the first part of that right, but watch what happens after she arrives at the chair. (Remind you of any of your children when they were little / teens / etc?)

(reminder: zero production value, but filled with good vibes and lots of TwoBigCats love 🙂