Tuesday, July 29, 2014

63 and 39 equals a lot of life and love

Pete and Nellie Martinez, 1951

63 years ago my parents were married at La Placita.  I now know that the more formal name is La Iglesia de Nuestra Señora la Reina de Los Angeles, but formality seems a bit pretentious when a place has been a part of the family for a long time.

My dad was born and spent his youth in the area; he likely was baptized at the La Placita around 1913.  In any case it was natural that he and my mom decided to wed at La Placita.  I'm not sure we had a Roman Catholic church in my part of town and I think St. Vibiana's would have been beyond their financial reach.

They were married when they were 39 years old.  Neither had been married before and both had idealized visions of what married life would be like.  

They were children of immigrants and both had learned to walk the line of those who are first generation in a new country.  Their personalities and their surroundings had a clear impact on how they took that walk.  Dad was a street kid who eventually came to be disciplined about work and his home life.  He was the baby and loved to be spoiled.  Mom was the bright, bilingual older girl in the family where literacy was valued.  She loved to spoil my dad.  In that way they were a great match.

For nearly 50 years they loved, laughed, and verbally boxed with each other.  My mom had quite the sharp tongue.  You know the person who can make the quick retort that stings.  Dad had his charm and humor to diffuse a rough spot...or he would stormed out of the house to work outside.

But if you had talked to either of them about being separated, one from the other, a horrified look would have come on their filled their face.  She was his WIFE.  He was her HUSBAND.

They always, always, always remembered special days and gave each other cards.  I think my mom expected it and my dad loved that making that small gesture made him a little heroic.  I learned to follow suit and got in the habit of small acknowledgements on special days.

There was one time when I didn't follow suit and recognize their anniversary on July 28th.

On the early afternoon of July 27, 1975 I gave birth to an 8 pound 4 ounce little girl.  The birth was Cesarean so I was physically present, but not very articulate.  I remember seeing the baby when the nurse showed her to me and next seeing her sometime during the night.  The time between was a blank.  It somehow didn't exist.  Needless to say, my parent's anniversary was not remembered.  Being awake and nursing, counting fingers and toes, and learning to deal with stitches was my focus.

Kate, age - about one 
I haven't scanned any pictures that show Kate in her infancy.   She was a doll.  Perhaps that's why my parents never mentioned my not remembering their anniversary.  Or perhaps it's because she was a part of the dream that they shared back in 1951.  

Kate and I talked on her birthday.  It was not lost on us that she turned 39; the same age my parents were when they wed.   We both were a little more quiet when we spoke of this.  My folks would have loved that bit of recognition.  

Here's to the loves in our lives - in some ways,  always present and always remembered.

(I forgot to mention that my Cousin Delia sent me a couple of pictures that she had of my parents on the day they were wed.  I feel lucky to have family that is so generous and shares so much love with other folks in the family.)

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Still here, behind all the paperwork and such

It's been over a month since I last wrote.  James is of the opinion that "nobody writes blogs anymore".  He might be right.  See evidence in first sentence.

But I have a real excuse.  A good reason why I've not written.  Dear Ones have been dealing with health issues, the day to day tasks have reared their Royal Heads demanding attention, and I continue to travel towards having a house that is somewhat purged of the unused and the having less sentimental value.

So much of the goofy is gone and mostly the meaningful remains.  Some for us to keep at the house, but even more to be archived elsewhere.

And then there have been the re-dos in the house.  What was a mostly empty, catch-all room has become my office.  I choose to think of it as having a controlled chaos about it.  The area will remain a bit in an "in transition" state for the next month or so.  The rhythm of work will help with this.

And I've taken to spending more time with familia.  

 Of the two legged sort as well as the four legged sort.

James, and the four leggeds are enjoying his new office and his new recliner.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Father's Day 2014

Em Sedano shared this detail from El Castillo de Chapultepec, Juan O'Gorman's pantheon mural - in honor of Father's Day. I shared the thought that instead of a machete my dad took care of me with hi optimism and his ready smile.  I should have also shared that his work ethic was as constant as it was strong. 

The picture I keep with me of my folks shows another part of who my dad was.  He was proud of his '63 Dodge Dart and kept it in good shape.  

He was also my mom's companion and friend.  
Missing them both this 
Father's Day.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Space shifting

The past few months have been spent on moving things from here to there in the house.  It's time for James and me to use rooms that have been used as spaces of accumulation rather than spaces to live in.  So, aside from meetings and such or dates with family and friends, I've been hunkered down at home and focused on cleaning or organizing things.  

A couple of weeks ago I was busy priming and finishing painting in the front office.  Last week was focused on moving furniture from one room to the other.  The sort of thing that is an inelegant thing at best.  

This past week has been spent going through the "I'll get around to filing them" bags.  The sort that hold everything from telephone numbers needed for the Parade & jamaica to canceled checks to nifty frames for already bent photos to glass cases to cards I meant to send.

I think I'm within a days work of calling the front office, my office, open for business.  Then I'll be on to tackle James' office.  

As usual Larry shares his typical support for the work at hand.

Friday, June 6, 2014


I am somewhat shy by nature.  Some of you out there who are used to seeing me in different roles may be wondering, as did my children, how I can write that I am shy.  Here's the answer.  Give me a role to fill; not shy.  Leading a meeting; not shy.  In front of a crowd of a couple hundred - same thing.  

On the other hand, put me in a room full of people that I don't know or with whom I'm supposed to make small talk...shy.  

Which is part of the reason why I was so  happy to see my friend Gilbert Cadena at the Post Election celebration for newly elected Supervisor Hilda Solis.  

I was there because I admire her and her work.  She has served as a community college trustee, congresswoman, and Secretary of Labor as well as being a recipient of a Profiles of Courage Award.  

Gilbert is a professor at Cal Poly Pomona (Ethnic and Women's Studies) so it made sense to see him there.  A Latina being elected to office of supervisor should pique his interest; perhaps a topic for his students to write about.

As I saw him standing by himself I recognized that we were both taking it all in.


When I saw Gilbert I felt freed of the necessity to make small talk or to discuss the next election.  I could just chat with my friend while we waited for election results.  

Election nights can be like opera - there are cadenzas and curtain calls.  Frilly or shorthand speeches that tell the story that brought us to the night.  Exciting speeches that make the pulse race; that pulls together the energy of a hundred individuals to respond as one.   

There was also a bit of San Gabriel Valley/LA history that was in the room.  Lucille Roybal-Allard (D)was the first West coast Latina elected to congress; East Coaster Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R) was first.  Gloria Molina, looking up election results, was a groundbreaker in many different ways.  Judy Chu is the first Chinese American woman elected to congress.

California State Controller John Chiang and Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti were there, too.  I believe they are firsts from a couple of different affinity groups.  And looking snappy in her too cool hat, the indomitable Dolores Huerta - often present when notable events take place. 

In the midst of this political theater Gilbert told me his non-professorial reason for being there.  He was Hilda's friend. They had been friends since college.  Back in the day he had been interested in politics and she in education.  He laughed as he shared how ironic it was that each had ended up in the other's field of study.  I understood how he felt.  Time can make your buddies become more like family than friends.

After the formal speeches Hilda shook hands with her supporters.  I offered to take a couple of pictures of Gilbert and Hilda.  Mostly they weren't too good, but there were a couple that were keepers. 

The first - the look of pride that comes from seeing your friend succeed at their work.  The second - a moment of unspoken happiness shared between long time buddies.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Mostly settled

Lali has been a part of our family for a month now.  
She has learned that she may not snap at another creature who is getting attention from us.  Well, she may still snap, but there are squirt bottle consequences for her action.  

Lali has learned how to nap with Panfilo and Larry.  
This is a wake up yawn following a nap with him.  He's some combo of blaze and mildly annoyed.  Big brother sort of stuff going on here. 

Who know what will develop by the time we reach the end of next month.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Onion quandary

What to do when this is the last batch of onions you harvest???
Pair them with leeks and potatoes.
Ta dah - bliss in a bowl.

Very informal leek/onion/potato soup recipe
based on one found at The Splendid Table website...
  • 3 cups of leek and white of onion (ratio of onion to leek can vary; total of combo should equal 3 cups)
  • ~ 3 cups peeled potatoes, chopped into cubes
  • 4 cups chicken broth 
  • 1 cup beef broth 
  • 1 - 11/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 cup half and half or sour cream or creme fraiche
  • Oil for braising 

  1. Trim off root ends, keeping the leaves attached. Cut off tops so leeks are about 6 inches long. Slit each leek lengthwise in half and then in quarters. Be sure to wash under cold running water.  Spread leaves apart to rinse off any and all dirt.
  2. Lightly pan sear leeks in well heated oil.  Add onion whites and start to sear.
  3. Add broths.
  4. When broth comes to a boil add potatoes.  
  5. Lower mix to a simmer and cook until potatoes are tender.
  6. Using an immersion blender - go to town until soup is fairly smooth.  Use a sieve to filter out any stringy leek parts.
  7. Stir in dairy product of your choice.  Warm to a really low simmer.

I think you could add all sort of things to this.  James and I talked about turkey khelbasa, or some cooked carrots  - as long as they're not too sweet - for color, or delicate green beans. 
Goes well with a glass of wine, some Irish cheddar, and a toasted slice of hearty bread.

I know folks typically post the after image.  But our bowls were empty so you need to use your imagination.