Ralph…

Posted by admin at June 20th, 2010

I wrote this in June 1998 about three weeks after dad died.  It was copied from a virtual memorial site. 

Rafael V.  Arnayro, Jr.
4 Nov 1931-1 Jun 1998

Early in the morning on June 1, 1998, I was part of a spiritual, powerful and touching event. I, with great love and compassion, assisted my father with his life transition. He is now in a better place. No, I didn’t pull any plugs or inject any needles. I whispered in his ear that everything was going to be OK. And with a single breath, dad was no longer in pain and his suffering was over. I will never forget this event. I helped the man who gave me life transition into the light. Dad was a very loving and compassionate man. He was remembered by all of his friends as someone who was always there to lend a helping hand. I will remember him in the same manner. He always made sure that his wife and kids were taken care of, that all provisions were made for our welfare. He laughed with us, he cried with us, he saw us through our triumphs but also provided strength when life got tough. I’m still pissed off at cancer. I wish it would just leave the earth. It was difficult to watch a strapping man, 5’10″, 170 lbs. lose almost half his body weight and mass. I am grateful to my mom, my brother and sister, all the in-laws and my nieces and nephew for pulling through this very difficult time. We were an awesome group and I would be happy to hire all of you as executives. When things needed to be done, when documents and policies needed to be reviewed, when care needed to be given, when time was a precious commodity, we gave and gave and gave. My personal experience has found that the death of a loved one can bring out the worst in people. Not so with the my family. We are a stunning team. For this I am also grateful. I miss my dad and find myself dreaming about being with him in rather mundane settings. I want to tell him that the Padres are doing well, that my nephew finished middle school and that my nieces are driving now. But I can’t. Maybe these dreams allow my indulgence. In closing, I encourage all who read this to take the time to get to know your parents. You’ll discover things about yourself in the process. Good night, pop! Yeah, I’ll make sure all  the lights are off.
Your son, Randy

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Aloha and Mahalo

Posted by admin at June 19th, 2010

Chuck and I returned early this morning from a great Hawaiian vacation.  Kona, HI and the Big Island of Hawaii was the perfect place to unwind from intense school year,  celebrate a big birthday, and to remember our anniversary.  It was perfect all around. 

The King Kamehameha Beach Hotel was great.  They just upgraded the property and although they are still working on details, the rooms and the grounds were perfect.  It was right next to the municipal pier and right along the seawall and Alii Road.  It is also the beginning and ending of the Iron Man swim which was really cool as well.   The hotel grounds had it’s own little beach and truly was so beautiful to awaken to every morning.    The palm trees, the bay, the beach…what more could you ask for?

The flight over and back was totally cramped.  Delta needs to update their aircraft.  This plane was almost 20 years old and was showing its wear.  The seat backs and tray tables didn’t work and the monitors were CRT monitors.  Chuck had a tought time staying comfortable.  So we need to work this out the next time we go.

I don’t think there is a lot I can say.  Kailua Kona has such a relaxed atmosphere and we were in that “groove” really fast.  There were beaches to explore, trolleys to take is here and there and people that are so friendly and full of “Aloha Spirit”.  

The one thing I marveled at was the kids of Kailua Kona.  They have a love and respect for themselves, others and their environment.  It is so palpable especially when you see the large groups of kids playing at the beach.  There were no lifeguards on duty at 90% of the beaches we saw.  The kids were always in groups, always watching out for each other and always having a great time in the water.  They are fearless of the ocean.  There were no “moms” hovering about making play dates and scehduling activities.  It was a beautiful thing to see.

The weather was great but there was always a light rain in the afternoon and it would all go away after that. 

Yesterday Chuck and I went paddleboarding.  It was great to get out on the bay and experience the ocean.  It was so incredibly blue that you could see down twenty feet.  Paddleboarding is a trip.  I did stand up on my board but once I got out to open ocean it tough to stay up because of the choppy conditions.  Still, Chuck and I were out there enjoying all that Hawaii had to offer including it’s beautiful, blue ocean.

Vacations are for relaxing and slowing down the pace of life.  We had the option of renting a car, but didn’t follow through.  It was a good thing we didn’t because walking to and from Kailua Village was so exciting.  The act of walking seems to slow the pace down and with the comfortable sandals, it was even more fun.

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HOW DIEGO CAME TO BE…..

Posted by admin at April 26th, 2010

Many of you know that I am an M.Ed candidate with Lesley University from Boston, MA.  Here is a “Re-memory” we had to write with an emphasis on dialog and sensory writing.  Enjoy

That Doggy In The Window

A Re-Memory by Randy  *******

 

            “AGCCHH” pierced the night as the small blur of fur ran to my bedside.

            “AGGCCHHH….COUUGHHHH….HACCCKKK”.

            “What’s wrong?  What’s wrong?” I shouted as I sat up and looked around dazed and confused. 

            “He’s choking on something.” Chuck said in a panicky groan.

            I quickly turned on the light by the night stand, jumped out of bed, picked up the white, fluffy dog and set him on the bed.  Upon closer inspection, Diego, our new ward, had a brand new color in his muzzle, the color of chocolate.  Streaks of the brown gooey confection were caught in the wispy strands of his luxurious white fur.  He was a candidate for the role of “Augustus Gloop” in Charlie And The Chocolate Factory.   

            As I looked closer for clues as to his choking and coughing, I noticed specks of silver, red and green foil interspersed between the streaks of chocolate.  It was foil but where did it come from? 

            “Found it!” Chuck bellowed from the living room.  “He got into the Hershey’s Kisses.”

            I rounded the corner from the hallway into the living room and found the living room floor decorated in bits of brilliant Christmas colored foil, randomly scattered in between small bites of unconsumed chocolate.  Jackson Pollock had nothing compared to this dog.  When I say dead Hershey’s Kisses were scattered all over the living floor, I mean ALL OVER THE LIVING ROOM FLOOR!     Apparently, Diego had climbed onto the couch, balanced himself on the arm of the couch and onto a small tea table next to the arm,  knocked the bowl of Hershey’s Kisses to ground and the rest, as they say, is history.

            I called the dog over to his water dish and he began to lap water from his newly purchased doggy table settings.  The coughing and hacking subsided and now he gave us the signal for wanting to go outside to take care of some personal business.  Diego came fully loaded from the San Diego Humane Society the day before and so when he wanted to go outside, he simply licked the main entry’s door.  Enough said!

            And so began the first morning with this small creature.  Choking on chocolate kisses, a panicky run to the “new guys” for help and a brisk but very early walk at 2 a.m. was the small beginning to the larger story of how “The Blur of Fur” or “That Doggy In The Window” came to live with Chuck and me.

And because I have no boundaries, for two weeks from that date, Diego’s poop always arrived decorated with silver, red and green bits of foil.  How nice!  How pretty! 

What had we gotten ourselves into? 

 

As always,  these types of stories begin with, “Once upon a time…”

 

January 2008 in San Diego arrived without incident.   The boxes of Christmas decorations had been stowed away.  I was back to school and Chuck’s client load picked up right where the holidays had left them. 

We began that Sunday with the usual over the top breakfast of Chuck’s banana pancakes, crispy bacon, and freshly brewed coffee.  A Sunday edition of the New York Times was just delivered to our doorstep and Chuck was busy on the couch with the crossword puzzle (in pen, of course) and I was gazing at through “Arts & Leisure” bemoaning the fact that “South Pacific” and “Gypsy” were opening on Broadway that season. 

“Why can’t we live in New York?”  I asked.

“Because it’s cold, it’s trashy and the people dress in black.”  Chuck shot back.

I looked out of the corner of my eye and on the shelf above the hutch was a picture of Chuck’s former dog, the beloved Pongo.  Pongo and Chuck had been together for a very long time, 12 years as a matter of fact.  They survived his stint in Lome, Togo with the U.S. Department of State, an arduous journey from West Africa to the University of Idaho Law School (Moscow, ID)  and eventually going from his first law job in Monterey, CA, to San Diego, CA.  Pongo had even seen Chuck through a very nasty case of prostate cancer.  So when Chuck and I met in 2005, Pongo did not like this one bit and let me know every single step of the way that I was trudging on his territory. 

But as these stories go, Pongo was also  suffering from old age and his advanced arthritis and immobility turned into spinal cancer.  We all know that a good puppy never fades away, but goes to the great puppy park in the sky.  Chuck, being the humanitarian that he is, couldn’t stand seeing his longtime companion suffer for days on end and time came to make that tough decision.  In July 2006, Pongo of Lome, Togo went on to a better place.

 

I took a bite of my banana pancakes.  “You know,” I reminded him, “we had discussed getting another dog.”

“I know.”  Chuck said.  “Let me think about it.”

“Can we think and look?  The North County Animal Shelter has an updated facility in Carlsbad.”

“OK.  But let’s remember that all we’re doing is looking and that’s all.” Chuck said.

The NY Times was quickly folded, the crossword puzzle was put on hold, the dishes were assembled and classified in the dishwasher ready for a sincere soak and wash. But best of all Chuck and I were on our way to look for a furry, new  friend, but also to take our relationship to a new level. 

A dog, in Gayspeak, translates to “children” and for many gay male couples in our tribe, taking on the responsibility of a pet was the same as birthing your own child.  Since legal marriage isn’t an option for many gay couples, domesticity usually includes at least one, “kid”.

“Now remember,” Chuck said as we drove along Palomar Airport Road, “we are on a fact finding mission.  We are not going to make any decisions today.  We are just looking.”

“Of course, we’re just looking,” I replied, “we haven’t even bought any fashionable doggy eating accoutrements.”

“Randolph….” and his voice trailed up.

I knew at that moment that Chuck meant business so I agreed that we were just looking for the day. 

We arrived at the newly remodeled North County Animal Control Shelter.  I hadn’t been to this facility in many, many years and so when we first approached, I noticed that the façade had an updated look.  There were was a new garden pathway and many new sculptures portraying the loyalty between humankind and animals.    They looked smooth and refined.  The stone felt like glass under my fingers and the faces on both humans and animals had kind benevolent features. 

“Wow!”  I said.

“Wow is right.”  Chuck agreed.  “So this is what taxpayer money is spent on,  huh?  Dog sculptures?”

“Hello, cynical, party of one, please report to the front desk,” I chirped, “cynical, part of one please.”

“Alright,” said Chuck, “I’ll feign excitement.”

“Yes,” I said, “behave yourself.  You’re in public.”

The stink eye was returned to me with a robust volley.

As we entered the new facility, the waiting area was abuzz with people and pets making acquaintances, saying goodbyes, forging new bonds and breaking bonds that were never forged in the first placed.  We toured the different pens and found all nature of dog.  Our verbal checklist we made in the car indicated that we needed a small dog, no more than 25 pounds and one that wouldn’t exacerbate Randy’s pet dander allergies.   

The kennel area met my expectations in terms of sight, sound and smell.  The yellow lights hanging from the ceilings reminded me of prison interrogation lights.  The bars on the viewing pens had me imagining dogs singing out choruses of “Jailhouse Rock” complete with striped pajamas.  The sound of clacking doors, water being sprayed on floors, barking dogs and the squeals of excited children filled all the viewing areas.  Unfortunately, the smell of doggy was all around us too.  The sharp smell of piddle and the overpowering scent of waste forced me to hold my breath and speak only in short gasps.   

We happened upon one pen of an Australian Cattle Dog named Blue.  He was sitting watching all the activity and it felt like he had found our eyes and magically reeled us in with his gaze.  He put his nose against the cage door and was very attentive.  He even wagged his tail at us. 

“What do you think?” asked Chuck, “shall we at least say hello?”

I nodded in agreement and shortly the kind attendant on duty instructed us to meet Blue outside in greeting area #2.  We followed the signs for the greeting area and were eagerly awaiting our first experience with an Australian Cattle Dog.

Now, let’s all think back to our dating years.  Have you ever had one of those dates where the person you’re with pays no attention to you but rambles on and on about everything else around you?   Well that was our experience with Blue.    He was running about the greeting area playing with all the toys, never once acknowledging me, Chuck or his handler.

The handler began.  “Blue suffers from severe separation anxiety.  He doesn’t pay attention to any humans at all and basically ignores all type of human interaction.  If you adopt this dog, you probably need to take him to an animal behavior specialist to fix the separation anxiety issues.”     

Chuck tried calling him.

I tried calling him.

Chuck tried throwing his toy.

I tried throwing his toy.

The handler sat to the side and quietly observed.

“Thank you for your time.”  I told the handler.  “He’s a beautiful dog, too.  It’s a shame he has some severe issues.”

“It’s OK.” she said.  “You’re not the first ones he’s ignored.  Thank you.  Will that be it for the day?  Are there any other dogs you want to meet?”

“No,” said Chuck, “thank you.”

“Let’s get outta here.” he muttered.

Our first day didn’t end like we hoped.  I just had to keep reminding myself that we were just looking and we, eventually, would find the perfect dog.  I was a little dejected.  The ride home was spent in silence.

 

In March 2008, Chuck’s work meetings included meetings with the San Diego Humane Society which is located in the city proper.  We were out and about making his birthday purchases and he asked me if I’d ever toured the new SD Humane Society facility.

“It’s very nice!”  he said. 

“Dear God in heaven.  It’s not going to be like that experience we had at the North County facility, is it?”  I asked.

“Well, turn here and we’ll see.”

We turned onto Gaines Street.  I was beginning to suspect that I was being set up.   

We pulled up to the parking lot and I immediately noticed the same types of sculptures of dogs and cats.  The animal and human sculptures had that same simpering look on their faces.  There was a three-tiered fountain that ran the length of the entrance.  It meandered about and the gentle lapping of the water reminded me of a Zen garden.  I began to notice the pillars of the entrance were shiny.   On each pillar leading up the entrance, dog tags and cat tags were solemnly and respectfully displayed in special shadow boxes.  I looked closely at the tags.  Each tag was a mini-memorial giving tribute to a dog or cat patrons had lost.   The sentimental me fought back the tears.

“C’mon.” Chuck said.  “Let’s look inside.”

If the North County facility was Sing-Sing, this facility was luxury condos.  I immediately noticed that each dog on display had its own specially designed condo or room.  These weren’t just holding pens.  These were full on rooms the size of regular hotel room.  Each room was decorated and lit with a matching theme including blankets, dog bed and furniture.     After checking in, the animal care specialists (as they were called) explained that if we wanted to meet a dog, all we had to do is tell them which one and that they could arrange a meeting.

“You see,” she explained, “you are the ones who go and meet the dog in their own room.  It’s not the other way around like in most facilities.”

“Oh!” We both exclaimed.  “We’ll just look around.”

“I’m getting a really good vibe from this place.”  Chuck said.   He turned to me and looked me straight in the eye and said, “I think I’m ready.  I think I’m ready for a new dog.  I loved Pongo and I will always love him but I’m ready for a new dog.”

“Are you sure?” I asked.

“Oh, I’m sure.”  He kissed me quickly, smiled back at me and thus began our earnest search for the perfect dog.

As things go when the two of us are together browsing, we will occasionally wander away from each other,  meet up somewhere soon after and report back on what we saw.  I was on the east side of the building and Chuck came scurrying toward me with a very excited look on his face.

“Don’t round the corner.  Don’t look.  Don’t even look at him,” he said.  He was walking backwards trying to shield me from view of the next condo.

“What are you talking about?” I asked.  “Get out of the way so I can see.”

“You’ll be sorry,”  he said.

“Sorry about what?” I shot back.

I turned the corner and heaven opened its doors, beaming white lights shot down from the wings, and the strains of the “Hallelujah Chorus” went off in my head.

There before my eyes, looking at me eagerly with big brown eyes and tail wagging non-stop was the most perfect creature I had ever witnessed.   What was so jarring was that as I made my way around the glass to his condo, he was following my every move, sizing up my countenance, checking my credit rating and running an FBI background check all in one fell swoop.   He was fluffy white with little streaks of brown all over which meant he had hair and not fur.  “Dog hair” was better for me as that didn’t create a severe dander issue.   We say yes to that.  He weighed less than 20 pounds.   We say yes to that.   He had an energy and a vibrancy that was quite charming.  We say yes to that.   He was neutered.  We say yes to that.  He was completely housebroken or “fully loaded”. And we say a most enthusiastic yes to that.

I was sunk and if love at first site exists, this experience with “Diego” was fool proof evidence (and the experience with Chuck counts too, of course).

His curriculum vitae stated that Diego was a Maltese mix. 

“Diego is a high energy dog that needs to have long walks and likes to exercise.  He’s about a year old and was placed here at the SD Humane Society due to a home foreclosure.”

Chuck had read my mind because no sooner had I turned to him to request an animal care specialist, there was one right there with keys to Diego’s condo in hand, opening the door to what has become one of the best decisions the two of us have made.    It was a lucky thing too, as Diego had only been on display for one day and there was a well-intentioned soccer mom with her 12-year old Brittany Spears “wanna be”, I-Pod=totting daughter in tow trying to get her French tipped, manicured nails into our little ball of sweetness.

During our time with Diego, he jumped on our laps, brought us his chew toys and coaxed us into playing a fetch the squeaky toy game with him.  We noticed that he sneezed a lot, over 9-10 times while we were in the condo with him.

“That’s his attention getting sneeze,” indicated our animal care specialist.  “That’s one of his ways that he gets your attention.”

Chuck pulled out his Blackberry, did a quick “Google” search and sure enough,  sneezing is a way some breeds get attention.  

Meanwhile, Mom and Britanny were tapping on the glass outside of the condo.  The claws were retracted and ready to strike.

“We’ll take him!” We said in unison.

“Good.” And our animal care specialist turned Diego’s ID card on the door from “Needs a Good Home” to “Adopted”.

Since that time, we have learned to put chocolate goodness out of his reach.  We have learned to spray the spines of books with Bitter Apple so he won’t chew them, and we have gotten used to stepping on assorted rawhides and squeaky toys at night when we need a drink and are too lazy to turn on the lights.

Diego is the darling of both families and has a Grandpa Chet, Grandma Lucy and Grandma Virgie who all spoil him to death.  He goes on vacation with us to Pismo Beach every summer.  He continues to sneeze to get our attention and over Spring Break 2010, he finally learned to “shake”.    He likes looking out over the deck to see the comings and goings of our slice of Escondido.  We have had to put a 10 pound barbell on the “dog proof” trash can because he figured out how to lift the “dog proof” lid. 

But most importantly, Diego witnessed our wedding vows in the summer of 2008.   He even helped out with the “Say No to Proposition 8” campaign by lifting his leg on signs that weren’t to his liking.   Our “Doggy in the Window” is truly a part of our family. 

I couldn’t imagine life without him.

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GOOD FRIDAY 2010

Posted by admin at April 2nd, 2010

This year I tried observing eating fish on Fridays as part of the celebration of Lent.  Lawyer Dude was very accommodationg and did his best to help out.  I even made a conscious effort to give up chocolate during Lent but that didn’t work out so well. 

I don’t understand why I decided to harken back to these traditions.  I have been so far out of the loop with regards “things religious” for a long while now. 

As I approach the big FYVE OH , I guess that my collective memory kicks in and all those practiced traditions from Catholic School and church (both Roman and Non-Roman) have hung on in my general make up.  All these rituals  have become very real to me this year for some funny reason.   I guess it’s a way of remembering. 

Regardless, I like remembering.  It keeps me grounded to what really matters.  It keeps me stay connected to my past.  And…it forces Chuck (AKA Lawyer Dude) to search for new fish recipes.

We likeey!

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AT THE END OF THE DAY…..

Posted by admin at February 26th, 2010

  • it’s nice to come home and have Chuck and the Blur of Fur happy to see me.
  • I like that I can still talk to my mom and that she still has advice for me on how to run my classroom or that she reminds me about Piaget and Montessori and theories on child development.   Teachers will be teachers.
  • it’s nice to see messages from my sister and brother about the next family get together.  I also like that my nieces and nephew are starting to get involved in planning stuff for family pow wows.
  • I still wonder why my students can’t divide 1/8 by 1/9 but I just wonder about it and don’t obsess over it.
  • I thank  The Universe, The Devine Spirit, and Mother Earth  for provision.  Just enough…is good enough for me.
  • walking in the door and smelling the surprise in the crock pot makes me happy that the husband is still my husband and that cooking is his forte. 
  • I would like to play “smackdown” with the rug rats that terrorize the condo complex with their scooters, but I’m going to trust Charles Darwin on that one.
  • I can’t believe that I work with some really talented people!!!  How did I get picked to be in this stellar group of stars?
  • that I still miss my dad, lolo and lola.  There are things  in my home that belonged to them  that takes that edge off and makes me smile and remember.
  • I STILL HAVE FRICKIN’ HOMEWORK!!!!
  • I wonder why watching a marching band show, a band review or a guard show still gives me a geeky foaming at the mouth look.  Chuck is a patient man.
  • I still look forward to going to rehearse with the best group of singing brothers in the world!

Lately, the end of the day is a tough sell for a lot of people around me.  My end of the day finds me in my favorite chair, surrounded by people and creatures  that I love. 

I can’t imagine what my life would be like without these moments….

…at the end of the day.

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WELCOME 2010!

Posted by admin at January 2nd, 2010

OK…let’s get it out of the way, shall we?  Yes, world…I turn 50 in June.  Get it? Got it? Good!

I’m all for ringing in the new year, but that realization hasn’t quite settled in yet.  Give me time everyone and when the AARP card arrives, make sure you send over kleenex and your shoulder. I’m sure LD’s and The Blur will be totally soaked by my tears by that point.  I’m welcoming this milestone like a hole in the head.

So..onto bigger and better things. 

1.  New Year’s Eve day was spent at my friend’s Dean and Kris’ home welcoming their new granddaughter to California.  Anna Marie Hickman made her grand debut and with style and flair as well.  It was great seeing old SRHS friends and seeing Kip and Jeana (the ‘rents). 

2.  My niece Nikki gets big props for turning my sister’s backyard into a pretty swanky little party for NYE 2010.  Tables, centerpieces, a full bar, lighting, party favors, a great spread and friends I haven’t seen in years.  We were all in our “black and white” attire so that was very cool. 

3.  Lots of high 5′s to my colleagues Scott, Linda, Robert, Eric, and Corkie for leading their groups in the 2010 Rose Parade.  Raising all that money, giving up your holiday vacation to rehearse, and 5 miles of parade route is a big undertaking and their respective groups did So Cal Marching Band proud.

4. 11 am on the first day of 2010 = Penguin Plunge!  Yes we did it again and took a dip in the Pacific with about 500 of our closest friends. ‘Twas fun!

So, 2010…I’m going to give you the benefit of the doubt.  2009 was as fun as I hoped.  So step up wouldja?

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GOODBYE SAN DIEGO MEN’S CHORUS…

Posted by admin at December 31st, 2009

The last few hours of the 2009 are ticking by and some great new things will emerge in 2010. 

At the stroke of midnight tonight we officially say goodbye to the San Diego Men’s Chorus and the Gay Men’s Chorus of San Diego.  The two organizations will form the San Diego Gay Men’s Chorus shortly after the ball drops. 

I would be remiss if I didn’t take time to reflect on what this organization has meant to me.  Back in the late 80′s and early 90′s when gay men were dying from AIDS and ACT UP was demanding rights to health care and respect, I came zipping out of the closet.  I tried looking for my identity in bars and clubs but it just didn’t work for me.  Instead, an ad in “The Update” directed me to call a number for an audition with the San Diego Men’s Chorus.  I even remember their tag line….”We need tops, we need bottoms”.    I have been in love ever since.

Since that January in 1990, the SDMC has been my musical family.  They have seen me through self-discovery, the joy of performance, the loss and grief of friends, community involvement, and just plain making good music with a bunch of committed musicians.  Heck, they even sang at our wedding reception.    Here’s a bit of fun as well.  Gary Holt (conductor of the current SDMC and GMCSD) audtioned me and conducted me in my first concert with the SDMC.  Gary Holt conducted me in my last concert with the SDMC.  Sheer karmic poetry.

So, here’s to you SDMC.  Thank you for twenty years of activism, friendship and great music.  San Diego Gay Men’s Chorus?  You’ve got some big shoes to fill!

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AND SO IT GOES….

Posted by admin at December 23rd, 2009

LD is asleep and the Blur is sprawled out in his usual asymmetrical form nearby.  I look at all this that has been afforded me and yes, for this beautiful man and splendid creature I am thankful. 

I look around me, listen to the news, hear stories from friends, family, colleagues and students and find that I am quite lucky to be where I am right now.  LD and I make a good effort to keep the finances under control.  We both have good jobs that afford us a sizeable amount of personal satisfaction and our little family continues to trundle along nicely. 

This isn’t the case for many of my students, friends and colleagues.  They are struggling with lost homes, lost jobs, difficult financial situations and poor health.   I try to lend a hand where I can but the situations people are in are so desperate right now.  I have parents telling me horror stories of losing their homes and having to live in a rented house with 2 other families.    I have students coming to school ill prepared for the cold and the rain because parents can’t afford to buy a good coat.  I have students who come to school hungry, their parents too proud to apply for reduced lunch.  I have friends who are struggling with finding jobs and are losing hope because they have always worked and this time around it’s tough getting steady employment. 

And yet through all this, LD and The Blur afford me that solace and that safe haven I need to ease my mind  from the rigors of bearing the weight of the world on my shoulders.  Diego can look at me and wag his tail and all those cares and worries go away.  LD can still make me laugh with hysterical quips and quotes.  On our family walks around the neighborhood, I take great pride and am in awe when they make me smile. 

Tomorrow we head down to CV for the annual Arnarnsley (Arnayro-Karns-Hartley) Christmas Eve Food Fest and Secret Santa Gift Exchange.  Then on Friday we head up to LD’s family celebration.  I am especially looking forward to all the busy-ness just because I couldn’t think of any other place to be other than with these folks.  This is where I’m supposed to be and I relish and treasure the time we will spend together.

In some way, it helps ease the burden of the day albeit for a fleeting moment.  These days, I’ll take “fleeting” in a heartbeat.  And so….for all you kids from 1 to 92…and yes its been said many times and in many ways…Froehliche Weinachten, Joyeux Noel, Feliz Navidad, Maligayang Pasko and Merry Christmas to you.

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WHEN A BELL RINGS….

Posted by admin at December 6th, 2009

LD and I had the good fortune to get a pair of comp tickets to Cygnet Theater’s holiday show, “It’s A Wonderful Life”.  The premise was very clever.  Instead of the movie, it was a recreation of a 1940′s radio show broadcast of the movie script complete with period costumes, old fashioned microphones, hair styles and the gals even had the stockings with the seam up the back back of the leg.  It was a great production and well done.  I enjoyed the intimate space the theater offers.

At the end of the show, the cast had us all stand up and sing “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas”.  When it got to the line “Through the years we all will be together if the fates allow…”, I just lost it.  The waterworks started and Chuck was in quandry over my blubbering. 

It was a rough year for me this year.  In the summer, my teaching colleague lost her son in Afghanistan.    Another teaching friend and colleague lost her son in September.   In October, I lost my friend and colleague Rick L., and then one week later, one of  my kids’ parents lost her battle to cancer. 

In  “Meet Me In St. Louis”, the MGM classic movie from which the song originates, Judy Garland’s character, Esther,  sings “Have yourself…” to her little sister Tootie, played by  Margaret O’Brien.   Judy sang, “Someday soon, we all will be together,   if the fates allow.  Until then, we’ll have to muddle through somehow.  So have yourself a merry little Christmas now.”  “Hang a shinning star upon the highest bough” was a newer line replaced in the lyrics years after the movie release  just to make it a little less sad. 

This leads me to figuring out why I was such a mess in the theater.   

We aren’t guaranteed that our friends and family will always be together and during the holidays that reality hits very hard.  Sometimes after a terrible loss, the holidays feel like we’re muddling through them just to get by.  I thought about those faces I know so well and just teared up because I miss them.  In my own way, I’m muddling through,  feeling a little lost and very sad for all of us that are still here longing to see those we’ve come to love and cherish. 

LD is very patient however and of course, I do have him and the Blur.  My Arnayro/Karns family and the newer Hartley family will all gather for our yearly celebration in some way, shape or form.   I am looking forward to that. 

And we all will be together because the fates allow.   And for this group of people that I’ve come to know and love, I hang a shinning star on our family’s highest Christmas tree bough. 

Judy was, and is,  right.    Thank you Miss Garland.

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OVER THE RIVER AND THROUGH THE WOODS

Posted by admin at November 29th, 2009

A Chronicle of the Arnayro/Hartley Turkey Day Extravaganza

  • Wednesday:  Left for Vegas with puppy in tow.  New Toyota Corolla is a dream to travel in with the pup.  All the hat boxes and steamer trunks fit in the boot.  Reclining seats actually reclined.  IPod’s were hooked in nicely and all the digital information on the front panel was displayed for the driver to see.  Arrived at 5:30 pm in Sin City.  It took Diego a little while to settle in.  Met Chuck’s brother Dave for the first time.  Very cool.  Dinner at Gordon Biersch was a little unsettling.    Gambled at Terribles.  There’s a reason why they call it Terribles.  Clientele was a little on the “eeek! run away!” side.  Up $50 in blackjack then up $7.50 in black jack.   That’s just the way the double down crumbles.
  • Thursday:  “The Families Meet” — The Hartley Boys and I met mom, Chris, Greg and the Kids along with Nikki’s friend Baldi for breakfast.  The kids were just getting in from the road and headed up to bed.  Mom, Dave, Chuck, Chris and Greg had breakfast at  Treasure Island Cafe.  Chuck and I then took Dave for a tour of Ceasar’s Palace and The Venetian.  BTW…buy one and get one free cashmere sweaters at The Banana was very tempting.  Rested up for the evening and then back to TI for the Thanksgiving Buffet.  All the trimmings but also pizza and ribs and pork chops and stir fry and…., well you get the picture.   I had creme brulee and pumpkin pie for dessert and topped it all off with cotton candy.    I hope Dave had a good time.  Anyone see “My Big Fat Greek Wedding”?    Change the Greek to Pilipino and you get the picture.  I appears we made him laugh.  It was nice to see everyone around the table, everyone together.  That made me feel good.  Oh, and btw to the short Britney Spears wannabe Asian Blonde Chick who tossed her cookies at the table over…diet pills and Thanksgiving Dinner don’t mix. 
  • Friday:  Off to Lake Mead for a day of adventure with the Diego.  Quiet, peaceful, serene, beautiful and the dog was off leash on Lake Mead’s almost empty shoreline.  Oh, Diego knows our car.  Dinner was at our old neighbor’s new house in Del Webbs-ville.   Then the watershows at the Bellagio with friends and more gambling.   BTW..there is a difference between a blackjack table that’s $10 and Casino War that’s $10.  Yikes.  Always read the little signs on the tables!
  • Early Saturday morning was spent with Nichole and Baldi at TI learning craps.  There’s a reason why they call it craps because that’s what I was cursing everytime I lost.  I now understand the game a little better.  Nice that we were the only one’s at the table, but Mr. Pitboss needed to be a little more patient with the rookies. 
  • Saturday morning was spent with friends and an outstanding omelet house (“locals only” I believe).  Nice catching up the P and Ph.  They are good people.  We packed,  were on the road and encountered traffic and some weather on the drive home.  Safe and sound at Casacitracado by 6 pm. 

…For hubby, puppy, the Arnayro/Hartley/Karns family, and good times — I am thankful.

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