T-Shirt Tales Today: Mervyn’s Striped Shirts

T-shirt tales? Because every t-shirt tells a story, don’t it.
And I have so very many of them. Shirts. And stories. —- Whaaaaat??

SUMMARY: School years and friends
UPDATED Aug 25: Added photo of pyramid with friends.
PS In the process, blogger did some nasty things to my captions. Sorry.

T-shirts as a kid? Don’t recall ever having one. Certainly nothing enhanced with writing or pictures. Clothing was for wearing, right? I don’t recall anyone else my age wearing that kind of T, either. They started to come into their own as mini-billboards only a few years before[1]. Mom disapproved. Clothing is for wearing! 

My high school hosted a Sadie Hawkins Dance[2] every year, where girls asked boys instead of the normal order. My freshman year, friend Carol and I had our eyes on, gasp!, a couple of sophomores or juniors! The first one I asked said yes. I barely knew him–a friend of a friend–but he was cute and sweet. 

In my mid teens, I got a small allowance at home of five dollars (equivalent to about $33 in 2020[3]), for which I had to do certain chores. Plus I started babysitting, giving me enough wherewithall to buy things other than candy, Bazooka gum[4], and DC comic books[5].

So then–for that dance, you were supposed to come in matching outfits. What ,what, what to do?  We had no experience yet of what others did, so we thought that matching t-shirts would be plenty. She had one or two fun men’s pocket t-shirts with horizontal pinstripes[6]. (Ha, little did I know about how much more fun one could get with Ts!)  Bought at the neighborhood Mervyn’s[7]. We went down together and, wow, a wide array of colors. I wanted them all. But, instead, I got a dark blue with light blue  pinstripes to match Carol’s, which we’d wear for the dance, and a bright blue one with red pinstripes because I love love LOVE that color. 

That I recall, they were my first-ever TSHIRT t-shirts, not merely CLOTHING t-shirts. Bought with my own money.

Loved them. Wore them out eventually, which is possibly the best compliment that clothing can hope for.  I’m lucky to have a few photos of the partnership between me and those shirts. 

[Aside–I’m pretty sure that’s why we got the matching shirts. Hope I’m not confusing the whole story with the  SHD where we spent long, long hours sewing matching long-sleeved button-down shirts in a fun blue and purple pattern. I *think* that was the following year.]

The dark blue one. The friend on the right bought the matching t-shirt.
I didn’t play the bugle, Phil [8] didn’t play drums–but Carol did play guitar. 
Fooling around at my house my high school freshman year.

Four years later, my freshman year at college. 
Fooling around with friends on a camping/boating trip.
Showing off our agile bodies and my bright blue striped T.

6  years later, my junior year of college. The bright blue shirt.
Fooling around with friends in the lounge on our dorm floor.  
I have no idea what was on the  board or who wrote it, 
but I strongly suspect that I might have had a part in it.

2017: Rescued briefly from the rag bag for its final photo.
Little holes and rips all over. Good old t-shirt.

(All are just for fun; you don’t need them to read the post.)

[1] T-shirt history at Wikipedia “In the 1960s, printed T-shirts gained popularity for self-expression as well for advertisements, protests, and souvenirs.”

[2] Sadie Hawkins Dance at Wikipedia

[3] Inflation calculator

[4] Bazooka gum at Wikipedia

[5] DC Comics at Wikipedia – I’m a long-time Batman fan 

[6]  Pinstripes at Wikipedia

[7] Mervyn’s at Wikipedia

[8] Phil got in touch with me five years back, after decades. We had dinner. We said we’d do it again. A couple of months later it was too late.  A smart, funny guy with whom I spent a lot of time mostly in Junior High years.

** All T-Shirt Tales **

Time for T-Shirt Tales: Introduction

T-shirt tales? Because every t-shirt tells a story, don’t it.

And I have so very many of them. Shirts. And stories.

SUMMARY: What’s this all about, ELFie? 

This project (because I need more projects) has percolated for a long, long time. Years and years. Because people sometimes ask, Why in the name of Marlon Brando*  do you have 150** t-shirts? What could they possibly all be?  (… In truth, nobody really ever says the 2nd part. Usually just variations on the first part, with the hairy eyeball and all…and then usually suggests that I should turn them into a quilt…  but that aside… ) I respond:

–erm, hmm, well–they’re comfy. They’re fun. Almost anything goes. They can be colorful. They can provide a conversational opening for someone who wants to talk to me (why they would, I have no idea, but sometimes people apparently do). They can put forth values that I want to promote. They can remind me of places I’ve been and things I’ve done. They can simply share anything that I like (dragons come to mind).

Plus, one word: Tie dye. 

So, now, I’ve started a less-sloppy-than-ever-before photo inventory of my t-shirts, and will present them one or two or three at a time with our shared history. Which means, more photos! Historical in nature! Or hysterical! Some going back to — OK, junior high school! Yes! That’s nearly 20 years ago!*** 

Coming soon!

Selected previous t-shirt-y project-y posts:



*     This t-shirt. I mean, Marlon Brando.

**     150 is a good approximation. Varies constantly.
***   20 might be a very bad approximation.
**** Usually when I say t-shirt, I mean short-sleeved ones. But I also have some long-sleeved. Plus polo shirts of similar provenance that I’ll likely throw in here and there, because they really are just the same as t-shirts. With collars. And buttons. And usually different kinds of material. But, deep in their souls, they’re really just t-shirts.

** All T-Shirt Tales **

Memories and Grief and Joy

SUMMARY: Dad. And Mark Lynch.

Yesterday, Dad died 5 years before.  The day sits so clearly in my mind, lurking with the things about it that I would absolutely have done differently, but also with relief about a couple of crucial things that I had been afraid that I wouldn’t have been able to do for him that I did. So–a wildly emotional day. Plus, he died. So, yes, laser burned into my mental memory book.

And that’s all on that for now. But it brings up this:

My Archaelogy/Anthropology prof at Santa Clara University, Mark Lynch, was killed by a drunk driver after he graded my final but before I picked it up.  Yes, relevant–


By Cindy Atmore
click image for her site
working on getting permission…


holding this space hoping for ok to post painting of Mark lynch

I “dropped out” of college after my junior year, struggling with what I really wanted to major in. Then I got a dog, bought a house, got married–and a few years after I left college, I went back. Santa Clara accepted me, thank goodness. [that might be another story]. As a Senior, which was also Thank Goodness, because SCU has specific breadth requirements for each year (frosh, soph, jr, sr) to earn your degree, so that, as a Senior, I needed only one of each category and could concentrate on my major classes.

I don’t recall which breadth category Anthropology fit into, but that’s where I headed. The first class I picked sounded interesting but after one day of the prof’s dull, dull, droning delivery, I knew that I couldn’t handle it for a full quarter. That he had only maybe 10 students in his class said something, too.  

That left me stuck: My other classes were already set, so I had to find something in essentially the same time slot, and I believe that left only one choice, and of course now I had missed the first class session.

I went anyway, to ask whether he’d add me (the class was listed as full so I couldn’t join without that).  And his classroom overflowed with more folks than there were places to sit, lining all the walls. Many more than what he was allowed, but he added everyone, even late me. AND he remembered everyone’s names right away. I don’t know how he did it–must’ve been 50 people in that class. An amazing man.

So, I know that he graded my final because grades were posted (yes, an A).  He put all graded papers and tests into a cube outside his door, but I never did get my final–everyone else’s were in the bin–and I’ve often wondered whether he had kept it on his desk or wherever he was working because I knew all the material well and it was essay(s), and so I had a lot of fun writing it while still delivering the goods. I felt that he’d be OK with that and maybe even enjoy it and maybe he had held onto it a bit for that or had thought that he might see me again to say something.

He was so young.

I had mostly not bothered my profs through all the years of college except occasionally for a specific class-related question, but I had gone in to talk to him a couple of times about some fiction I was trying to break through on (Anasazi-related). Because, in class, not only could he be funny, but could elicit deep emotions with his fabulous descriptions of life and death and the effects of European colonization here in the western states. So I was quite comfortable chatting with him about fiction and about Anasazi and related topics and whatever unrelated topics we went into. Not that we were likely to become real friends, but he wasn’t that much older than I was at that point –I don’t recall exactly–or the same age (I was 27ish). But, still. 

I learned about his death while listening to the car radio–and then I was driving on US-101 bawling my eyes out.

I cried over several days, couldn’t stop thinking about it at night when all those thoughts you don’t want come calling. Then, one night, I dreamed that i was sitting on the outside steps of the building where his class was, head down on my knees, crying again. Suddenly felt a hand on my shoulder, and I looked up, and there he was. He said, you’re crying? And I was stunned, just staring at him being there. And then he said, “About me? Oh, there’s no need for that” followed by words that I don’t remember exactly any more but something along the lines that he had had a happy life and he’d be honored if people would remember the fun that he had and the education that he gave and be happy about all of that for him. And I nodded and he smiled his familiar smile and trotted on down the steps and away.

It helped me so much when I woke, even though I know that it was my brain inventing things–I think it was inventing a story for myself that I could grasp to not wallow in grief and to, indeed, remember him cheerfully.

So, yay, brain.

(See end of post for links related to Mark Lynch.)

I haven’t had dreams like that about either of my parents.  I try to remember the same things for them, though.  But these anniversaries are hard.

Photos from family Thanksgiving 6 and 7 years before they died —
because they were always a couple

And a final note: Links related to Mark Lynch

Missing Disney Parks and the Parking Lot In Particular

SUMMARY: I’m an addict… sort of…

Disneyland is my happy place.

Not my only happy place, but pretty much guaranteed to be my happy place when I’m there. Which I try to be, roughly every couple of years.  Except, haven’t been since November of 2017, and then I did very little in the parks because we were there for races (5Ks, etc.) and friends.

Looking across the dustpile that would become Disney California Adventure towards the Anaheim Convention Center.

We did Walt Disney World nearly a year ago, but it’s not the same: Disneyland is home. The addition of California Adventure in 2001 at first was a disappointment but has gradually improved after the huge Disney Corp filled with some of the most creative people in the planet recognized their design flaw, which probably most of us saw while they were still building it:

Let’s build an amusement park about doing fun and famous things in California, and put it in… California! 

Now it’s better. With some cool attractions that we always make time to do. 
Clearly *something* will be built in here; hoping it will be cool.

However, to add Disney California Adventure (and Downtown Disney, which is between the parks — a long pedestrian-only street of shops and restaurants, all of which are pretty good and we have a couple of favorites), they built it atop where the dearly beloved parking lot used to be. The one that was right next to the entrance. Convenient. And shoved all the parking into distant huge and pricey parking garages. I’ve never parked in one, but friends who drive up to join us sometimes don’t get to us for as much as half an hour.

Used to be parking lot.

Today, someone posted in the Facebook Group MiceChat, 

“Does anyone remember [the] old parking lot for Disneyland where Disney’s California Adventure is now!”

I said:

Ooooh yeah I remember–for an extra fee you could park in the spaces closest to the entry if there were any left. So we’d get there early. Miss that for sure.

When we were kids and parents took us to Dland, we had a camper, so the camper would be available if someone needed a nap or for meals–Miss that for sure, too.

Discovered that my Dland-going partner seester had already said:

loved preferred parking. We could leave a cooler and coats in the car, and walk out for lunch and stuff, without having to pay for a locker.

And THEN… I just couldn’t resist. Pulled up my photos from 1998, when it was all about bulldozers, not much of a hint about what was to come (views from the monorail),  and this came out:

DCA was the old parking lot
Now it’s DCA, not the old parking lot
Been a long time gone, Oh the old parking lot!
Now it’s walking afar nowhere near your car–

So, Take me back to the old parking lot
No, you can’t go back to the old parking lot
Been a long time gone, Oh that old parking lot
Why did the old parking lot get replaced?
That’s for all those new attractions we’ve embraced!

(Here’s the original gold-selling version of Istanbul by The Four Lads, 1954.)

The Turks aren’t the only ones who rename things–
Looking across the DCA construction to the hotel originally owned by Tokyu that opened in 1984 as the Emerald of Anaheim.
It was renamed Pan Pacific Hotel, Anaheim in 1989 when Tokyu merged its Emerald and Pan Pacific hotel divisions.
Disney purchased the hotel from Tokyu in 1995 and renamed it Disneyland Pacific Hotel.
The hotel was rebranded as Disney’s Paradise Pier Hotel on December 15, 2000,
named after the formerly Paradise Pier (now renamed Pixar Pier) area in Disney California Adventure Park that the hotel tower overlooks.

A fictional interlude

SUMMARY: Something special today, or maybe just odd.
Here you can pretend that I just turned around from
writing a new story.

James James Morrison’s Mother by Ellen Levy Finch

Copyright 1997 by Ellen Levy Finch

— appeared in the February 1997 issue of Tomorrow Speculative Fiction magazine, Algis Budrys Ed., the last print edition

Yet do thy worst, old Time: despite thy wrong,
My love shall in my verse ever live young.

                Shakespeare, Sonnet 19

James James / Morrison Morrison / Weatherby George Dupree
Took great / Care of his Mother, / Though he was only three.
James James / Said to his Mother, / “Mother,” he said, said he:
“You must never go down to the end of the town, if you don’t go down with me.”

                A. A. Milne, “Disobedience”

She couldn’t find the good bluestone teapot. How she hungered for a simple sit-down tea, with fresh-baked crumpets slathered in strawberry jam, crusts broken open to moist, buttermilky interiors. If the muffin man came by, she could get them, still warm, from under the linen towel on his tray.

But how could she enjoy it all without the bluestone? Earl Grey just wasn’t right coming out of the stubby spout of the dented tin pot. The bluestone’s elegance transcended the tinner’s by as much as the King’s surpassed the muffin man’s — and the sentimental value was stronger, it having been sent by her husband from Paris before he was killed in the War.

Or — no — it had been her grandmother’s, she thought idly, settling to her knees and peering under the woodbin beside the stove. The stove, its iron walls still holding deep the warm memory of this morning’s fire, cooked up a vague image of a grandmotherly woman pouring tea in a house in Cheshire. The image floated through her mind, translucent and occluded by an equally vague image of a man of her own youthful age.

Oh, no, the War was quite over in 1918. She sat up abruptly at the thought, knocking her stylishly bobbed head on the end of the stove’s large iron door handle.

Sitting on the floor, rubbing her skull, she looked at the 1923 calendar on the wall and calculated: If JimJim is three, but the husband hasn’t been home for at least five years —

She shivered, determinedly stymied a wave of emptiness and nausea, and stood up, steering away from the confusion. The vagaries of her mind distracted and frustrated her, and yet — and yet —

“Vague vagaries,” she murmured to herself, opening the china dresser next to the ice box for the third time at least. She smiled at the feel of the words peeling off her tongue. Something to smile about, anyway.

She peered into the icebox itself; sometimes, after the ice block had melted and before the iceman came, there was extra room for storing things.


She jumped, just a little bit, and turned towards the door. He stood there, arm raised so as to cling to the crystal doorknob. Barely tall enough for his head to reach the stove handle, she noted absently, wondering, lost for a moment, where the child had come from. Then he came into focus, suddenly, as though she viewed him through a seaman’s glass, twisting it to bring the boy and her life into convergence.

Her son, of course: James James Morrison Morrison etc. A bit of a fancy, that; there were Jameses on both sides of the family and they couldn’t decide which to name him after — Or perhaps that wasn’t the reason at all?

“Mum, what on Earth are you doing?”

“I can’t find the teapot,” she responded sharply, angry at herself for not knowing him immediately, and at him for knowing her without a blink.

“It isn’t anywhere near tea time.”

“I can’t find it.”

He cocked his little blond head in that precocious manner that she thought she probably hated. “The bluestone?”

“Of course the bluestone. You can see the tin one right here on the stove.”

“You planted geraniums in it. It’s in the garden by the dovecot.” He was talking down to her, she was sure of it. And how could he always manage to do that, given their respective heights?

Still — dovecot — yes, a vague recollection — not a memory exactly, more like a stereopticon with the two sides mismatched, the three-dimensional view distorted and not quite real.

She sank into the chair by the window, hands folded in her lap, gaze fixed on the child. “JimJim, why would I do that?”

Her son shrugged, and for a moment the gesture transformed him into a cuddly, snuffly, warm and ingenuous three-year-old that she could envision loving tenderly and maternally. For only a moment. “A recurring lapse of connection with reality,” said James James. “If you don’t remember now, then that knowledge is undoubtedly lost to us both forever.”

“You should jolly well have stopped me.”

“I’m only three,” he said.

“Tommyrot.” She almost blushed at her own uncouth language. “You always know what’s best. You always take care of me. Why not this time?”

“Mother, I advise you to the best of my ability, given that I have only the limited life experiences of my three years.” He took a shallow breath through his baby teeth. “However, because you appear to have motivations that are beyond the scope of my experience (and, I sometimes think, beyond the scope of your own), it seems pointless to ask why you are doing the thing or to ask you to stop.”

Oh, bother, how she hated his tone. And his sentences were longer than an average three-year-old’s entire attention span. “You know how much I like that teapot,” she said, knowing somehow that he did know but not remembering how he might have come by that knowledge nor, for that matter, why she would know that he knew. It was all too complicated, which made her even angrier.

“Oh, Mum.” He put his little hands on his hips so that his baby-fat arms stuck out all akimbo.

Oh, the uppity Little Lord Fauntleroy! “Don’t use that tone with me.” She struggled briefly, desperately, for something to say to take him down a peg, and as if from a memorized chapbook, she drew: “I’m going to have to speak to your papa, you know. When he comes home.” No image came to her mind with that; no papa, no home but for the kitchen she stood in. The words were an incantation without context.

JimJim’s face, however, melted nearly to tears; his lower lip trembled. He turned and ran from the room, his quick footsteps echoing down the hallway towards the drawing-room — ah, yes — his favorite hideaway, she knew suddenly.

Still, his retreat set her quite aback. Talking to papa was not so bad, after all, was it? Something prodded at her memory, something that could have upset him, something she was thinking about earlier when she thumped her head — no, gone.

She stood up, meaning to go after him and catch his soft tiny self up in her arms and tell him how very much she loved him.

Then in they came, flickery picture-show memories using her mind as their theatre, all at once so that she couldn’t distinguish one from the next. Her husband (or perhaps her brother?). The War. The birth of her son — no, a trip to Buckingham Palace — no, that wasn’t right, either. A tangle of scenes, faces, and churning colors.

The discordance made her so angry. As though childbirth had been reduced to photogravures, as if it hadn’t happened to her at all. As if her husband hadn’t said good-bye just that morning — and, confused by the cacophony, she wasn’t sure whether he had.

But why couldn’t she remember? His face should be as clear and as close as the flowers on the wallpaper — but it eluded capture. And what was his name?

She took two steps towards the hallway door, angry all over again. It was the boy’s fault. As though everything she knew — ought to know — somehow escaped her and roosted in his brain.

The room spun about her. She grabbed the doorjamb with one hand, steadying herself, and began banishing the jangling, contentious thoughts from her whirling head, one by one.

Exhausted, finally alone with the silence in the kitchen, she leaned in the doorway, eyes closed. Every time that she tried to think, tried to understand, pain burst into her head like — like —

She couldn’t quite remember what it was like, although she thought she ought.

Thought — ought — Words again. Where did they come from? She focussed on the words, because they never disoriented her, always gave her a sense of harmony, symmetry, balance. She turned and slowly walked out the back kitchen door to the garden.

There it sat, nestled among the blue-spiked delphiniums. The broad crinkly leaves of the geranium did look good against the bluestone, although she could see now that it would outgrow the pot in a matter of weeks. If she remembered to water it. Perhaps it would rain.

Kneeling among the colors of springtime, she carefully upended the pot and shook it gently to dislodge the plant. The geranium came out into her waiting palm along with a shower of loose, dark soil, which dusted her forearm and skirt. She had a memory of the scent of the soil, rich and aged and moist; her perspective shifted and she could actually smell the soil now, just as she remembered it from — from —

She shook her head quickly to disperse the smell and the memory and the empty places in her head. Balancing the geranium’s root ball in one hand, she scraped a hole among the peonies large enough to accommodate it. She settled the geranium carefully into its new home, pressed the soil in slightly around it so that the roots would make contact with the new bedding, and brushed the dirt from her hands.

She rose, whisked her hand across her skirt to free it from the dark clinging bits of garden, smearing it instead. She sighed and looked around her. The day was beautiful — for north of London it was an extraordinary day. An excellent day for sitting in the garden, perhaps reading some poetry; something to shake away the dark clinging bits of her mind’s overgrown weed patch.

She couldn’t very well go downtown, for example, not by herself. She glanced quickly at the house, guilty at even thinking it. JimJim would insist on going with her. It was a pattern engraved in her soul, like the sun’s morning ascension and evening subsidence, though she could not recall from memory any single sunrise, nor sunset, nor trip to the end of town with or without her progeny in attendance. Anger again: just a little ride into town without him now and again, visit around a bit, perhaps pop in to Harrods, and still be back for tea. He would never notice.

But never mind that; she didn’t wish to invite the jumbly whirly mismatched thoughts in again. A spot of poetry in the sunshine was just the thing.

As she walked into the parlor to find a book, she tried to remember what her son had been like as a two-year-old, but the memories remained teasingly elusive.

Her bookcase, like her portfolio of remembrances, sat nearly empty; a single book bound in pale red calfskin perched on the shelf, basking in its own significance. How very queer, she thought. It seemed that there should be more books, should there not? Her mind flooded, fleetingly, with a veritable wall of books, each like a softly colored stone, all held together with mortar of dust and cobwebs.

Then the only cobwebs remaining were those clinging tightly to the empty vaults of her past.

She snatched the lone book quickly from the shelf, lest it too should vanish into the mists of her mind. Clasping it against her chest with both hands, she tiptoed back out into the garden, shutting the door ever so gently behind her. She wandered past the earth-spattered teapot where it sat askew beneath the dovecot and settled onto the settee near the garden gate by the lane.

Settle, settee — she smiled to herself and placed the book on her lap. The pages fell open to Longfellow, and she read.

“The Village Blacksmith” appealed to her today. She lingered among the gentle rhythm of its phrases; nothing complicated, nothing to struggle with. De-dee, de-dee, de-dee, de-dee; a simple beat, simple words, simple images for a plain man with an uncomplicated life.

How she envied him his simplicity. Toiling, — rejoicing, — sorrowing, Onward through life he goes. All of these feelings, she realized with a pang, were foreign to her. She couldn’t recall having experienced any of them, not a one. Just confusion, dismay and anger at the confusion, and then confusion again. And only, simply, clearly in her mind, her precocious child, taking care of her as though she were not capable of it herself.

Not for her the blacksmith’s rejoicing as he sits among his boys in the church and thinks of his departed wife’s voice, singing in his mind’s ear. She had no such memory to cling to; she had no idea whether she had a husband — living or dead — now, or yesterday, or five years before.

What did the blacksmith think about when he thought about his past? She tried envisioning a blacksmith’s life; failed; chided the poet for his failure to complete her picture of the man. It had seemed so evocative, at first; she had seen so clearly the village square, the cool shade of the chestnut tree harboring the heat and the raging flame of the forge.

But now the omissions began to pick at her. Week in, week out, from morn till night, he stands there. And then on Sunday he goes to church. Did he have a life, really, other than the hammer and the anvil and the fever of the blasting forge? The story was so incomplete, now that she thought about it.

Did he have a life before the poem? A childhood? A mother and father? Did he go to school, have friends, dance, sing? How did the food get on the table if he spent all day working the bellows? Was he putting a little aside for his future? For his children’s education?

Even as she realized how important it had abruptly become for her to know the details, she knew that her obsession was strange and unhealthy. Still, she wanted to know; the importance bruised her heart, tangled her nerves, shattered the sunshine around her.

Perhaps because her own life had so many holes in it — indeed, seemed one large hole — she couldn’t abide the same omissions in another’s life? Fictional or not, the smithy had seemed as real to her as the firmness of the settee’s wooden seat beneath her and the tingling of the sunshine dappling her skin.

There is nothing for him there, nothing! but for the swinging of his heavy sledge, week in, week out, through all eternity. She found herself resenting how the poet had created this simple, limiting scene and then enslaved the blacksmith with his words, trapping him forever in an endlessly repeating scenario.

Well, now, she had intended to sit out here to relax, not to become inflamed again. She scrunched her shoulders up, then relaxed them slowly, rolling her head gently with eyes closed. It would be so refreshing to think about something that had substance; her life had so little thereness in it.

But the blacksmith’s quandary tasked her.

Maybe the smith experienced something different every time someone different read the poem! She imagined his late wife as a plump, genial dark-haired peasant who smelled insistently of camphor. Did the blacksmith remember her the same way? Would some other Longfellow devotee full of whimsical romance picture the woman as an angular Aryan with a limp and a walleye? What then, if both readers consumed the poem at the same moment, though miles apart? Would the poor befuddled smith have to sort out which memory was the real one? And which was real?

She shuddered; what would that be like, memories all jumbled up, never making sense, never remembering the same thing the same way twice? Everything in the past foggy; your entire life changing its texture, its substance, its flavour with the personal experiences of readers whom you never see and never know exist.

The concept was rather a bother, she thought. (Rather a bother — how curious that so many things rhymed in her head, even now!) The concept crept down her spine and along her arms, raising the little hairs it found there, and she shivered.

Poetry — no, not today, she decided abruptly, her mind suddenly clear and free. She hesitated. Hadn’t there been something, just a moment ago, something eating at her ragged edges? She couldn’t quite recall just what. She thought for a moment — but, no, it was gone, whatever the thought.

Maybe she truly did need a change of scene. Maybe, just maybe, she needed to get away from the oppression of her son’s care and concern. She longed to take him up in her arms and give him the deepest, warmest, cuddliest hug that a three-year-old could ever want, but it seemed impossible at the moment.

Yes, that was it. She would go downtown, alone, and gather herself about her. She would dress up nicely, make herself feel different and special. That should lift her spirits, indeed.

She set the book aside, barely aware that she did so, and rose from the bench. Her mind made up, she moved resolutely towards the house, banishing the tiny nagging feeling that before, somewhere, sometime, she had had just this same idea.

James James / Morrison’s Mother / Put on a golden gown,
James James / Morrison’s Mother / Drove to the end of town.
James James / Morrison’s Mother / Said to herself, said she:
“I can get right down to the end of the town and be back in time for tea.”

                    A. A. Milne, “Disobedience”


Author’s note: I wrote this a couple of years before it was published, so some time before Clarion. If I were to rewrite it now (which I won’t), I’d change it quite a bit. FWIW. On the other hand, it’s much better than my early fiction writing in the late ’70s and ’80s.

Photo #P1010003

SUMMARY: A rousing round of randomness

So, here’s the thing. Ya take a lot of photos, the camera numbers them for you, but the camera has only a certain number of digits, say, up to 9999, so eventually, after 9999 photos, it rolls back around to 0001 again. But some cameras have wayyyyyy many more digits.

Sometimes, when I search for a certain photo number, the variety of photos that appear intrigues me.  So, just because– here are my photos numbered P1010003.

(It’s a single collage this time instead of each file individually. See the text below the collage.)

I’ve done this before:

These are random, hence quality is, too.

Left to right from the top:

  1. April 2008: Haute Dawgs’ USDAA agility trial at Dixon. Friends with his and hers Segways let us all try them. Learning curve, very fast on a wide-open lawn, and oh so cool!
    We had fun fun fun till our buddies took the Segway away.
    Third day of a 4-day trial. I did not sign up for the fourth; that is too too too much agility. Thirty runs over just 3 days. Tika completed her ADCH-Bronze. (This is a Big Thing.)
  2. Feb 2008: Sun sets on another agility weekend. Heading home from VAST’s Turlock USDAA trial. Another 18 runs between the 2 dogs over 2 days. Plus walkthroughs of probably 10 minutes each. Lots of pottying and warming up and cooling down and volunteering. Tired, always tired physically.
    Driving west into the sunset. Better than driving west into the blinding sun above the horizon, an all-too familiar nemesis.
  3. Feb 2007: Commuting to work in essentially stopped traffic. Inch, stop. Inch, stop. How often have I been in this exact traffic jam?! Some  places are just bottlenecks. –we have lots of them. But the fog on the coastal mountains is a nice backdrop.
  4. Feb 2017: Restaurant dessert at the family’s dinner (about 15 of us) after Mom’s (and Dads’) Memorial. The Executor held the keys to the Estate pocket book. Seemed like this would be a good use of funds, so no holds barred. Emotions must be tended to.
     — The Executor.
  5. Nov 2009: Stevens Creek Reservoir (not “Steven’s”).  Water level is low-ish, not surprising after the long dry summer months. Rain might have started in Sept but more likely Oct.
    Short hike up the hill to Picchetti Ranch Reserve for the view with a former work colleague friend.
  6. Aug 2009: Wearing a glow bracelet in my car. Why? Where is this? Why did I have one at all?  These photos are with photos from a late afternoon hike in the hills with the dogs at Santa Teresa Park. Which makes no sense. This appears to be one of the folders in which for some reason dates and times are hosed. And/or photo numbers. Or they were hosed in the camera and I didn’t notice.  The *numbering* would fit there, but I can find no info anywhere on glow bracelets in the car, clearly at night. Not in my blog or my other photos.  Sadly this might remain a mystery.
  7. June 2009: Used to take the dogs with me when I’d drop the car off for maintenance, then we’d go for a long walk instead of waiting in the facility’s inevitably stark waiting room. This time they weren’t done with the oil change when we got back, so we waited in the waiting room together. No idea whether they minded. Didn’t care. Was hot outside, nowhere to sit, and the car wasn’t ready. And the Merle Girls were well-behaved.
  8. May 2008: Hiking with the Wednesday Sierra [Club] Singles. After work, all year round. This day, to the top of Black Mountain in the Monte Bello Open Space Preserve.
    We’d meet after work, drive 20-30-minute drive up from the Valley nearly to Skyline Rd. (twisty turny winding road up about 2000 feet). We’d have to be out of the parking lot by half hour after sunset.

    So we’d have to hustle to the top of Black Mountain from the parking lot, admire the view briefly, maybe have time for a snack if we were lucky, and hustle back down. No time to sit and relax! About 3 miles one way, gaining 800 feet (and 3 miles/800 feet back down again), but many sections are exhaustingly steep. So there’s the crew, there’s the view, how do you do!
    OK, it’s not a view, just us and the mountaintop and clouds. Trust me, views are lovely.
    Back when I could do that kind of hike.

    Because I’m nice, here’s the actual view that day of the south Bay Area and mountains to the east. (In the other direction are ridges of forest and clouds and, on a good day, a view of the Pacific.)

Why so many photos with the same number within those 2 years and none after? Something odd happened. As you can tell from the number of digits, it should’ve kept going up. And, in fact, at some point it did, because here in 2020Land, that camera is at P1130988.

Garages: Not just for breakfast any more

SUMMARY: Well, that title makes no sense…

More copied from Facebook, my [long] comment on a friend successfully cleaning up their garage.

I love having a garage that I can park in. Get in and out of the car during rainy weather without getting wet. And it protects the car from the elements. And fewer worries about breakins/thefts. And can put the dogs into and out of the car without worrying about leashes or distractions. Heaven! One of the biggest bonuses, IMHO.

Not all garages offer all the benefits, however.

The two apartments I rented before becoming a homeowner

First one: Just a parking lot. No benefits at all. In the rain, run down the long walkway and up the stairs. (No dogs, so not an issue there.)

Second one: Enclosed (2 walls and ceiling) detached carport. Could get into and out of the car in the rain and take time getting things into and out of the car, but then would have to run down the driveway in the rain, carrying whatever you had.  Sometimes instead I used an open parking spot directly across from my door to shorten the trip. Still no dogs.

My first house (townhouse)

An open  carport. Ugh–detached from the house, so still rain was an issue, but it was just a few steps in the rain, unlock my private door in the fence to my patio and unlock the uncovered door into the house, so a quick trip. But wet. Had a dog by then, she’d just follow me (advantage of doing a lot of stuff with the dog from 6 weeks old).

This is a current photo. That car is parked in what I think was my spot.
My door through the fence was where the light-colored wood is, above the right side of my rear-view mirror.
From inside my back (sliding) door, looking at the door thru the fence.
(It’s messy because I had just spent the morning putting in new sod.)

My second house 

A one-car attached garage in which previous owners added the living room fireplace. If we had nothing else in the garage, we could squeeze one car in, but we’d have to inhale deeply to be sure it didn’t scrape. At least, if we parked there, we’d be out of the rain and dogs could get into the car with no worries.

But, mostly, then, we used it for storage. So across a short sidewalk to the covered front door. Also then could open the front garage door and carry things into the house through the garage.  The husky was the dog we’d have to worry about getting safely into the car, the other dog was fine.

Wow. I hope I have better photos of the house (and garage) somewhere.
This is all I seem to have scanned in so far.
See the chimney coming out of the roof? Who does that?!

Next house

Detached garage (Still running through the rain) with no door for several years.

We’d try to use it for parking, but the challenge was opening the big wrought-iron gate, and if the dogs were loose in the yard, we’d first have to put them away somewhere, open the gate, drive in, close the gate, let the dogs out. So we’d often park outside the gate, which left the whole driveway and garage as places to play, have BBQ or party guests, do workshop things and, yes, just toss things on the floor to store instead of putting them properly on the shelves.

But then we’d put things away and park in the garage again for a while.

Rental between houses for most of a year

Huge detached 3-car garage, although the path from the side of the garage to the house was a small patio.

HOWEVER–the owner stored a lot of his stuff in a good part of the garage, and I stored all my stuff from the move in the other side, waiting to find a new place.

So, park in the driveway, unlock the gate, across the patio, unlock the uncovered door while standing in the rain… 
And dogs had to be managed. *Mostly* they were eager to go places, so if I had the car doors open, when I opened the gate, they’d hop in.

This astonished the neighbor. “How do you get them to do that?!”  I asked, do you ever take them anywhere other than to the vet?… No? Yeah, well, that’s your problem.

The Crappy Rental and its garage.
It would astonish you to discover that the house roof leaked like a sieve. 

The landlord’s side of the garage … 
You can just see Jake behind the tire.
I wouldn’t let them loose in here unsupervised.
Um. Now I’m thinking it’s the basement? Might have mislabeled photo.
(Worrisome that one can’t tell the difference. Except I think the basement was much lower and had a partial dirt floor?)
Time to go back to the photo albums…

Current house

A spacious attached 2-car garage. Until three years ago, both sides were clear enough for cars, and I’ve parked mine there for all of the last 19 years but the first few months while unpacking from the move. Then, when the renters weren’t using the other side, I started putting things there “temporarily”, and clearing them out, and putting more in, and clearing them out–but and now there’s a lot of temporary stuff that needs to be processed in one way or another.  

But still plenty of room to park MUTT MVR. AND no running through the rain! AND easy to put the dogs into or out of the car.

I really really want another one like this (attached) when next I move. High priority!

(I know I have photos–somewhere–but apparently not labeled. So maybe tomorrow I’ll try for an appropriate shot.)

Maybe I Should Try Not Having A Dog

SUMMARY: Whenever Zoroo departs for good.

Backfill: date

I noted in yesterday’s post:

Maybe I should try having an empty house, though [after Zorro is gone]. Maybe.

Have had at least one dog since shortly after I moved out from parents’ to my own place.
Over 40 years. (Plus the family dog before that.)
Maybe it’s time.

I don’t miss my pups when I’m away from them.
I mean–well, yes, I do, but more like, wish I could snuggle with one right now.
Or, this situation is uncomfortable and I wish I had a dog with me.
So, bits and pieces.

But mostly I love the freedom to go where I want, when I want, and not worry about supplies or whether dogs are allowed or whether it would be challenging or worrisome for me to have them with me.
16 days I was gone in 2018, staying at hotels or friends’ places, and I loved it. Me and my camera. Who is a much less demanding companion. (In most ways, anyway.)

I have said it–maybe time for no dogs–multiple times in my life–
Like, after Amber died.     (But then, eventually, Remington came home, making 2 again.)
Like, as Jake and Remington were aging.      (But then,  Tika came home, making 3.)
Like, as Tika and Boost were aging.      (But then, Chip came home, making 3.)

Maybe it’s time to be free to travel anywhere in the world for any length of time and not worry about dogsitters. Or dog hair everywhere. Or having to ensure that they get the mental and physical exercise they need. Or the fun and love they need.

Devoting I don’t know how much space in the house to them–dog beds everywhere, multiple shelves in various closets or cabinets filled with assorted gear and toys. Crates often in multiple places. Water bowls in various places. All of that. Crates and gear in my car and all over the garage.

I’m scared to actually add up how much space dog paraphernalia and ephemera consume.

And the yard–at least the current one–all that agility gear and all those limitations on landscaping so that I could do some real practice with the beasts. Not that I do much any more.

It’s always something I think about after one of mine has died. Sometimes think more, sometimes think less about it.

So, just, not making a decision now. How long should I give my wound to heal? A month (It has been nearly 4 weeks already, hard to believe)? Two months? Four? Wait until I’m competing with Zorro? Will I ever actually do that?

What kind of dog would I want–another that I “intend to do agility with”, as Chip and Zorro were?  A mellow dog? Must be smart, I think, and eager to learn.

But, aye, there’s the rub: Those qualifications come right back around to “ensure that they get the mental and physical exercise they need. Or the fun and love they need.” 

Enough on that for now.

Do not get another dog right now

SUMMARY: Don’t. Just don’t.

I got Zorro when it was just me and Chip not long after Tika and Boost died that spring

Even though I was adoring getting to know Chip better, I fell in love with Zorro’s face (it was not like any of my prior dogs, but that wasn’t it–), and I brought him home, and he sucked up so much of my attention, and I have thought often that it was an emotional mistake. I’m trying not to make that same mistake again.

But–the fear creeps in. The same fear that I first noticed 30 years ago,  two years after Amber died.

Old Amber

For those two years, I thought I was done with dogs. Heartache, exhausting, dust and mud and dirt and dog hair everywhere. But as my husky aged and declined–she was 14 already (who knew she’d live to 17!?). And then the fear–

Jim was inclined to get a dog from the shelter or an animal rescue place again rather than to find a puppy in the paper. (If we HAD to get a dog; he was pretty sure Sheba wouldn’t be happy about it and maybe we should wait til Sheba wasn’t around any more.) 

Told Jim that when we got back from Hawaii it would be time for ME to have another dog because i couldn’t bear to have an empty house when Sheba goes to the great goodie cabinet in the sky. 

From my May 17, 1994 post, “How I Carefully Chose the Dog–And the Results

But: I couldn’t bear to have an empty house.
What if something happens to Zorro.
I hadn’t expected Boost to die.
Maybe I should try having an empty house, though. Maybe.
Have had at least one dog since shortly after I moved out from parents’ to my own place.
Over 40 years. (Plus the family dog before that.)
Maybe it’s time.

Or, I could rescue a senior dog, one that’s hard to adopt out. Or I could foster.
Could my heart stand either, when they’d leave so soon?


I miss Chip so much. His laughter. His affection. His fun.
And do not miss his flaws.

And Zorro seems like a better dog with Chip gone. Most of the time.

Still–I miss him so much.