Read Across America SOL20 #2/31

Eight Classrooms and countless of books later, the book bag rests sprawled on the ‘spider-room’ office floor. It all started reading to two classrooms combined, kindergarten and 4th-grader classroom buddies.

Sorting through piles of books, I tried to match a ‘just right’ storybook with the right classroom. Tk loves stories about mamas, and 2nd-grade boys want to hear about a character just like the adventurous, cunning little creatures they are.

Ready to go, a bundle of books nestled inside a canvas, coffee-stained bag is thrown over my shoulder. I stroll over to the 3/4 playground. Children are scattered everywhere. A soft hum echoes throughout the grounds. Children’s eyes glued to their books as kinder kiddos read to their 4th-grade buddies. I feel a slight pain; my heart-strings are pulled as teachers gather the kiddos around me on the tarps. They must leave behind their perfect cubby holes under the equipment for now.

Eli pleads, “Will you read my book, Mrs. Durrin?” This tiny squirt with the most prominent brown eyes and a crooked smile holds up his book, Creepy Carrots. A dark goth cover with only splashes of dingy orange grabs my attention. I’m just a sucker for another opportunity to a read aloud. The dilemma begins as I go back and forth, doubting my choices. Finally, I found my out. 

“I’ll be in your room at 11:30, and I’ll read it then,” I replied. And away we went on two glorious adventures. We danced with “Rhinocorns” and sailed through the pond with a tiny duckling as his siblings paddled ahead. We all bellowed like a pirate for the grand finale. We soaked up the touches of laughter and chatter in the moment of a timeless read aloud. Kiddos giggles hearing the silly voices of each character. A roar of claps erupted at the end.

It’s fantastic to watch the uncontrollable applaud where hands must clasp together. How do I capture the sheer joy I feel coming from them? The appreciation of a delightful story. A warm, soothing voice reading aloud with expression and passion. We were lost. We loved it. Then we came back to reality, and it was over. Teachers step in taking charge. Children scurrying away. The dusty dirt blows off the tarps as they’re folded up and tucked away. 365 more days till the Read Across America Day, but I will read aloud tomorrow.

The Jitters ~ SOL20 #1/31

This morning I knew the SOL20 challenge begins. My chest isn’t pounding. It’s more like a tight rope that doesn’t sway much in the wind or holding your breath before blowing out the candles on your birthday cake, wondering for a second or two is this a worthy wish. My audience doesn’t even know me. Who’s out there? Who’s reading my blog? Am I ready to share my stories?

Image by Alex Artamonova from Pixabay

The jitters are not entirely from writing the actual story. It’s the emotions that are attached to each account. Which one do I share? The new book I’m reading? The hike in the hills? My work challenges? Wondering where my longtime visitor, the feral cat, has ventured off to for the past week. My upcoming presentations? The loss of a friend for speaking my opinion? The sadness of 3 friends/colleagues who have lost their husbands and sibling to heart attaches. Or the challenges my husband faces being the sole caregiver to his mother? These are just a few things I could choose to jot. Life is hectic, and we carry more than just a single story with us. They are all dancing inside my thoughts. One at a time or all at once; they insist on my attention. Part of me is enjoying the idea of being vague. “Push the emotional ones back deep within to avoid those feelings, relish in the fun times, or simply ramble on,” my inner self whispers. I awoke with trepidation. 

Perhaps for a month, I will take on each narrative or embracing the idea that each day offers a new tale to tell. After all, it is Read Across America Day tomorrow. I must get busy selecting books to read. Oh, how I love walking into the book store. The smell of coffee in the distance, the thrill of anticipation as you open a book for the first time, the touch of a slippery book cover, and the multitude of choices surrounding me. Most of all, it’s the opportunity to get lost in simple, eloquent tales. I must get ready to go. I choose to redirect my jitters and settle on looking for books to read aloud. Any suggestions? As a writer, tomorrow, I will try to focus the capturing the children’s expressions, voices, and reactions and match the moment with words.


Good-bye Dear Friend; SOL19 #31/31


I’ve held on long enough. The time has come for us to part ways. You have served me well, my dear friend. It’s hard to say good-bye. It’s like giving up a slice of peach pie on summer’s night in Georgia. It’s not meant to feel like this, is it?

Over time, you have been there for me. When I’m feeling silly, I scavenged for you. When I’m feeling chilly, I searched for you. When I’m feeling cold, you were my go-to girls!

You haven’t been quite there for my any more lately. You serve one not both. Oh, I’ve held on. Waiting. Searching. Hoping. Maybe I could be silly and chilly at the same time. I notice teens doing this. I’ve heard stories that the two ‘non-pairs’ ran off to a tiny island in Greece soaking up the rays in the turquoise waters. A mismatch declared by many. A strange affair only you could have.

Today is the day. It comes to an end with such irony. Who would have thought mismatched socks and 31 days of writing would intertwine on a day like today. It’s been a pleasure!

Another Waterfall


“Please don’t tell me I have to walk back and put this in my car.” I pleaded feeling already exhausted, yet excited.

1/3 of the way up I begin to see cars parked along side the road. Some forcing you into the oncoming traffic. So. Cal. traffic at its worst, again. I decided to head to the top of my destination anyway, the head of the trail toSturtevant Falls. Who knows, I just might get lucky. Hahaha

Cars were double parking as they lurked for weary hikers ready to leave. I’m done. I’m not waiting. I’m leaving.

2/3 down the mountain I came across an open lot. I was too curious to pass this up. After all, I drove all this way to see it. I park and start trucking up the side of the mountain. I grabbed a 1.5 liter of water this time. Dangling from the rear view mirrors or laying on dashboards parking permits sparkled in the sunlight as I plugged onward. Some cars didn’t display any. Mine was one of them. Cars parked directly next to ‘no parking’ signs. This is the mother load for a police officer.

“That’ll be $5 hun.” She replied. I tucked the parking permit in my bag and off to see this waterfall. It was a risky move. It was a glorious day. It was a glorious hike. The water fall was so, so glorious too. A day in nature with all the ‘squirrels’ is better than going squirrelly in the city.

Sturtevant Falls

A Family Meal


A tear builds up as I slice the onions for the halibut meal. As I brush it away with the back of my palm, I’m reminded of the first time I had this meal. “You have to mix the mayonnaise and sour cream real good now.” My mother directs me. The metal spoon clanks against the side as I whip the two into one. My uncle David grinds Ritz crackers for a crust to roll the halibut bits beside me. He begins to tell me about another fisherman’s story.

The big waxy box sits on the floor. My mother beams with pride as she delicately holds the delicious rewards and prepares them for the freezer. Together we dip and nibble on the warm bits. 10 minutes before the meal is done, she hands me the parmesan to sprinkle on top. The heat of the oven steams my glasses.

A golden brown top with bubbling juices explodes like tiny volcanoes. It’s ready. The two siblings just got back from Alaska to share stories, laughter and a family meal.

A Long Day


It could have been the coffee cheese cake with hours of laughter and gossip with the girls. I remember the days when an even cup of coffee out on the patio with a cool spring chill in the air was nirvana. It could have been the neighbor. He tossed those hillbilly cones in my yard. He assumes they’re mine. I missed him last night to talk.

A faint rumble of a morning engine off in the distance. I dashed out the door dressed yet still wearing my robe. I jester. The window buzzes down. I asked, “Did you toss the cones in my yard yesterday?” Before it could go any further I hear, “I’m tired of this place looking like a ghetto. People are leaving their cones and parking everywhere. It makes this place look cheap.” Wow! He’s like a cranky old man going on 30. The chatter was cleared up but Wow! When did we stop talking to one another?

The day was a blur. Smog test, shopping, and tacos!

Yum! Movie time then bed time in the ghetto!

Four Sisters Annual Get-Away

My three sisters and I race across the silky sand beaten to a fine power from the ocean’s crushing waves. In line we ride the path to the Pismo Beach coastal sand dunes. We are done zipping around and around in the fenced area and ready for the ever changing dunes. Shifting gears, popping clutches, and four ball tires just adds another layer to the fun.

I whiz across the sand like a flat, smooth, round pebble ricocheting off a lake’s glassy surface. My body is consumed with the sense of danger getting airborne off a hill and dipping down and whipping around.

All I could see was sand and moving black specks. The hills were obvious. The canyons snuck up on you. Between shifting gears, watching the road, and keeping an eye on my sisters was hit or miss. I would loose one and search for another.

On the next ridge Mollie rested on the edge of a canyon. It snuck up on her. As I came near, she held up her hand to stop me. She was sliding down the vertical deep canyon. You had to know what you’re doing to get out of this one. We tinkered with the reverse. We pulled it back. The sand tumbled down. She looked at me like ‘I’m going to die’. It was a tragic comedy of errors about to unfold. It wasn’t going to look pretty. I was like, “Let it go. It’s not your fault. Look at the tires. You’re not doing this!” The spinning wheels sunk deep into the sand. 200 pounds of metal slowly sliding.

You know, men do look their best when they are coming to save you. Three guys zoom up. The sun resides behind them and gives this glow of glory. The tall one comes up to size up our predicament. He laughs. He knows. We plead.


He took the quad and went full speed down. His buddies raced around to a better entry. He was in control. He had the skills and confidence. He wasn’t going to loose. He had youth on his side. He pushed the throttle all the way as he climb. The wheels spitting sand. With a crank of the bars, he did it again. Each time we held our breathe. In unison a moan escaped our lips when he almost made it. And then our arms flying in the light air. A bow to his agility and know how. They blast away into the sunset and we hit the sand a little slower.

It can Wait


“Do you need help with that?” My neighbor asks as I unload the 10′ x 20′ portable car canopy.

“Sure.” I reply. “I’m setting it up in the back and planning on putting it up tonight.”

“Oh! We did that and had some real challenges. Why don’t you set it up and I’ll be by later to help you.”

“Okay, I’ll have it set up for tomorrow.”

“No, that’s not going to work for me. You see I’m helping him move. You’re in no hurry. We’ll get it done sometime later.” He adds.

I laid the long box on my mother’s ole faithful 1970 radio flyer. I use it to haul everything around in the yard just like she did.

Bouncing along the way, I navigate through the gate to the back. I plop the box on the fresh cut lawn. I drag myself in the house. I take off my dirty socks and shoes and thinking of a nice hot shower. I find myself rocking in the chair. I guzzle some water. I’m a wilted flower. The sun. The work. I’m beat. Maybe I will wait till next weekend.

Next thing I know I am walking outside with slippers on, a pair of scissors and I’m cutting open the box. I grab the directions and read them. He told me I should read the directions to make sure I place the parts in the right spot. This looks easy enough. So I do. I lay out the canopy frame.

Hmmm. Maybe I’ll just put these two pieces together. I get a “homemade” rubber mallet (a towel and a hammer). I pound a few together. I’ll just put the frame together. A few struggles here and there but I come up with solutions. After all the directions did say two people. The next steps suggests I put the tarp over the top after the 6.9′ legs are in place. I’m not going to be able to do that. Still yet, I decide to open it up. It’s all sprawled out over the lawn. It’ll get damp tonight. Besides the cats may meander by. I can’t have that. I attach the tarp to the frame before I put the legs on.

Hmmm. Maybe I’ll stop here and wait for him to help me put the legs up. The ladder grabs my attention. Oh, that’ll prop up one side. Between the ladder and the boxes, I balance the frame. Now it’s getting a little tricky. There’s an urgency in my step. The direction did day I should be wearing a hard hat. I quickly grab the legs and put them all up on one side. It looks silly with only one side done. So I do the same thing. It wobbles back and forth with the wind. I run and grab the other legs.

Ta-Da! It’s done. I guess I don’t need his help after all. I anchor down the sides so the wind doesn’t carry it way. Place two chairs and a couple plants to dress it up. As I head in for that over due shower, I think to myself, “I don’t need it till later.”

It’s Rush Hour

A first time to hike the Eaton Canyon Nature Center. Ever.

Barely escaping the barrage of vehicles parked sporadically in a dirt lot, the wide, dry trail lead us toward the canyon. You could hear the trickles of moving water off in the distance in the flat rocky terrain. With each step the mountain walls grew and pushed us together.

Nature continued to nudge us near one another. People and puppies prepared to promenade up the trail. Some of us took a different path or found a cool hollow with a canopy of a giant oak tree to enjoy. At least one of us tried to keep her sneakers dry.

All the way up we zig zagged across the stream. If you jumped too fast, you would cause the domino effect. My foot stretched above the water to the nearest dry surface. I felt the jiggle of a wet rock beneath my feet. I exhaled. A slight slip as you jump to another could be a wet setback. I held my breathe. With each miss step, the water trickled into my tennie through the tiny cavities. I gasped.

As we paraded up the canyon, all around you witnessed puppies pulling parents and parents pulling puppies. The young ones clinched their claws and drugged their bottoms to their first adventure in the woods while the old trotted on by. The juvenile jump and tug to break free from their leash that bounds them. Everybody came out today: the cranky and happy, the large and small, and the fluffy to the neat and short hair breeds. Buds are busting and bushes are blooming. Everybody welcomes Spring.

The weary clutch their partner’s hand, belt loop, or arm. Please don’t let it be me that slips and falls. The log purposefully wriggles as I tight rope across. That rock before me has been stepped on a thousand times. The dreadful leap breaks it free to slide down the stream. Nope. Not me. She succumbs to the force. Screams, last second arms stretched out reaching for air. BOOM! SPLASH! Bottom down!

For over a mile and a half, we all meandered back and forth across the stream. Some water spots had huge deep pot holes. We avoided them. Some of the walkers had no intentions of getting wet. We were grateful they pulled over. If you hesitated, the youth was right behind you itching to pass. Some used blinkers like excuse me or sorry. And off they went. There was a sense of urgency. Like a leaf caught in the crevice of a rock swirling in the tide pool wanting to break free, I was consumed by the energy. I stopped. I sat on a rock and watched. Is it true if you hurry up and get there, it won’t be crowded? After all this is going to be a dead end.

Every time we came to the merging of humans and stream, there was a pile up. Most of us were going up. Some were coming down. At least one of them gave in and walked through the water. With each plunge a hint of melted snow grasped my ankles like a cold damp towel being placed behind your neck on a hot summer’s day. It’s so fun to go off trail. Break free. Embrace this rare, special treat. Get off the beaten path. Get away from the hustle and bustle of the city life. I’m like a wet dog trying to shake the feeling that I’m trapped right in it again. I’m just trading people and puppies for cars, rushing water for two and four wheel machines rambling down the road. Chirps and tweets for honks and beeps.

Awe, the mist filled the canyon. The roar silenced the chatter. The crisp clear water transcended our souls. I took in all in. I sat and inhaled. I felt the sun’s kisses, the cool breeze and the tingling of my toes. What a day it is to be sitting next to a waterfall.


All the wild critters know to stay away. It’s rush hour.

A Melodic Monday


Inspired by Cindy Chiu,Pancake Saturday

“Do you remember my name?” she beams up with her rosy checks twisting and swaying as I walk by. She and her classmates are waiting for breakfast.

With a beam on my face and a jump in my step, I chime in.  “I know your in Mrs. Ly’s classroom.” She smirks.

“I remember you as a writer.” I twist; I sway.  She giggles.

I stretch my words out as if it has a chance to pop into my mind.   “Give me a hint. What letter does your name start with?” My eyes glance down.  Memory a flash of shame, hope a reminder of a quizzical, curious nature, I embrace my heightened awareness. I welcome this moment between stimulus and response. I feel the tranquillity of possibility, opportunity, and hope.  I would much rather fill my space here than reside with fear and shame.

“A z.” She giggles.  

“It couldn’t be zebra, could it?” I snicker.  “ I know. I know. It’s Zoey!” I clap my hands as I feel the significance a name represents.  You are far more powerful than simply the symbols that create the sound.

“What about me? What about me?  What’s my name?”

The game continues.  

Monday, wonderful Monday, is for greeting eager children as they promenade to school to see you once more.  The shuffle of book bags and squeals of worn-out wheelie carts merge with sleepy greetings before the sun even arises.  The flick of a switch and scan of the room collides with a silence that won’t last long. The mixtape will soon play the melody of learners, embracing the benefits of curiosity.  Between the splatter of raindrops and bodies splashing puddles, children bounce into their room. And fist pump by fist pump, we begin to celebrate the day.

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