Friday, April 27, 2012

Art in my Family

My brother's artistic talent was not known until he directed an art project in high school.  A mural of the history of Greeley was painted on the school's cafeteria wall. My parents had no idea he was artistic until an article about the mural appeared in the local newspaper. He graduated and served his stint in the Army and when he came home he pursued his art career.  While working at a Boulder ad agency he won an award for the work he did for The Sobriety, Sarsaparilla and Sandwich Shoppe, in Larimer Square. He moved to Los Angeles and worked as a commercial artist for a few years.  His intention was to move to New York City and be there for about four years and then return to Colorado.  He never returned to his home state but continued living in New York until his recent move to Boston, MA.  He is now retired.

My son's creativeness came out in pottery.  In high school he pulled straight A's in art class and his instructor told me, "your son can become a great potter." He won a contest in Jefferson County Schools and the large pot he had created was sold to the House of Green. I would drive to the store and drag my friends to show them the beautiful pot and his first sale. He worked on his pottery until he realized that he had to earn more money and left his creativeness to get a "real" job.  My house has many of his pottery and I often wonder if he will return to working with clay and become a famous potter!

My daughter began by painting, moved to music, learned the guitar, wrote songs, sang, and then began creating beautiful gourd art.  When I would compliment her on any of her many talents, she would say, "Anyone can do anything they set their mind to do!"  I know this is true but I firmly believe there has to be a talent connected to the wish! Her work can be seen on her blog,


My guess would have been that some of the creativeness came from my father.  He is the one that got me interested in photography and reading. When I was around seven years old he gave me my first Brownie camera. He explained the position of the sun, shadows and distance when taking a picture. He loved to read and would take me to the library and we would both check out books. He could do anything--plumbing, electrical, or mechanical. He enjoyed Popular Mechanics and working on  projects from the magazine. We never called anyone to repair our car, or fix a leak, or build kitchen cabinets, or put in a shower, etc. because he did it all. One of his talents was gardening and we aways had a variety of fresh vegetables.

I asked my father, who I always thought had a talent for drawing crude cartoons, where he thought the artistic talents came from in our family.  He didn't hesitate as he responded, "Your mother." That was strange because I never saw my mother draw anything and she never seemed interested in art. He continued, "she could look at something and draw it exactly the same.  It amazed me to see her do that because I have never seen anyone else do it."
Who knows if artistic talent is learned or is passed down through genes--I just enjoy looking at the art my children and my brother have created.

It's not what you look at that matters, it's what you see.
Henry David Thoreau

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Peace Corps Types

I wrote this piece on October 5, 2008.  It still holds true for me!

I have an antenna that zeros in on a certain type of individual.  The antenna doesn't move if I meet obnoxious, selfish, conceited, know-it-alls, those that try hard to please everyone, or braggarts. It does move when I see persons interested in the welfare of others.  I classify these persons as Peace Crops types.  In years past they may have worn Birkenstock sandals, guys may have had long hair and beards while gals wore ankle length cotton skirts.  How they dressed was not as important as being concerned with righting injustices.  When my daughter was in the Peace Corps, I met some of her Peace Corps friends and noticed they all seemed to have one thing in common.  They were honest, kind, and wanted to help people that had less than they did.  It seemed that most of the young persons came from wealthy families, yet, money did not seem important to them.  They could live comfortably in a run-down hut, eat strange foods, and adjust to the many hardships.  They treated people with respect and dignity.  When most people avert their eyes at seeing a homeless or ragged person, the Peace Corps worker looked into the eyes of the poor and held out a hand to help.

While working in a Legal Aid office I saw attorneys that could have been employed by large law firms and earning more money, but instead, they represented those that could not afford a lawyer.  The director of the program was a major Peace Corps type and his actions prompted me to say to him, "You are the epitome of what a good Christian should be..." He was Jewish.  He followed the Bible quotation of "Feed the hungry, give shelter to the homeless, help the poor," to the nth degree.

When I volunteered at an orphanage in Mexico, I noticed that most of the volunteers were of the same caliber of those Peace Corps persons who wanted to better the lives of others.  The volunteers had a profound commitment to help educate the children and give them a better chance at life.

At a fund raising dinner, I happened to sit next to a man who was running for governor of Colorado.  He was dressed in a tuxedo, but I felt drawn to him and liked his attitude and openness.  As he chatted, I saw a fairness and interest in others regardless of their social status.  My antenna pointed at him but it wasn't until he won the election and became Colorado's governor that I found out that he and his wife had been in the Peace Corps in Africa.

I happened to be watching television one evening and happened to see a light-skinned black man speaking.  He spoke of the importance of family and he had a sense of humor.  I immediately liked him and what he was saying.  My antenna vibrated so I knew he must be a Peace Corps type.  I don't recall why he was on the screen but I do know I was impressed and touched by what he was saying.  A few years later, I again saw the same man on television and this time he was running for President of the United States!  I also learned that after graduating from Harvard Law School he had gone to work as a community organizer instead of taking a high paying position with a prestigious law firm. (He won the election and is now our 44th President of the United States.)

The Peace Corps volunteers, the Legal Aid attorneys, volunteers who help build homes and teach children in 3rd world countries, and community organizers are all cut from a special cloth.  Without this type of worker there would be no justice for the poor.  I'm sure politicians are trying to do what is right but it seems that the majority are in politics to line their own pockets.  Those Peace Corps types are in the world to help, train, guide and inspire those who need the help.  To me, these workers are the elite of the world and we need more of them leading our country!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Patron Saints of the Eye

My first cataract operation on my left eye was so effortless, painless, and simple that I looked forward to my right eye being corrected.  The minute I was led to a chair and found two "nurses" ready to prepare me for surgery I felt a bit uncomfortable.  One nurse seemed too old to be working.  Without a word to me, she pulled a lever and my legs flew up and I was flat on my back.  Her rough hand grabbed my forehead and holding it firmly she said, "Open your eye."  I asked, "What are you going to do?"  She replied, "I'm putting drops in."  The nurse for my first cataract operation had been so gentle, explaining everything she was doing and seemed to enjoy doing her work.  This time, the old nurse seemed to do everything by rote with no thought to the patient. (me.)

She hooked me up for my vitals (later I heard she had put one of the heart monitors on my bra strap which wouldn't have worked) and went to the screen to read it.  She kept mumbling about how it wasn't working.  She called the other nurse for help.  Both stood punching different spots on the screen and I said, "You two really inspire  confidence."  One laughed and said, "I've come from another office and the machines are a bit different."  The other one said, "I just didn't press the right area."

A tiny pill was handed to me and told to put it under my tongue. I already knew the pill would relax me, but the nurse did not feel it important to tell me.  I did as I was told. On my previous visit, the good nurse before giving me the relaxing pill had checked with the doctor to make sure the pill would be working by the time I went in for surgery.  She had a wonderful bedside matter and to me she is what a nurse should be. I realized that a doctor depends on a nurse doing the front end of the procedure and if it isn't done right, the patient suffers!

In the mean time, one nurse began trying to bring up post op instructions on the computer.  She fooled on the computer for at least twenty minutes, sighing and making exasperated sounds. The old nurse joined her and they fooled around for another ten minutes and finally called a male nurse who came and showed them both how to get the information they needed. Since the doctor was running late, I was afraid the relaxing pill would no longer be working and I mentioned it to the old nurse.  She grabbed a little bottle and said, "Here, I will put more eye drops in your eye." I began to wonder if she knew what she was doing and by the time they brought the blue cart that would take me to the operating room,  I felt as if the relaxing pill had stopped relaxing me!

In the operating room, I was aware of what was going on.  Someone cleaned my eye and then told me she was washing my eyelashes.  I could see beautiful muted lights above me in deep rose, blue, and gold. I could hear the doctor telling me to look down or left or straight ahead. On my first operation I never heard or saw a thing.

When it was over, I was returned to the room, given juice and crackers (not asked what I would like as I had been before) and then I got the wheelchair ride to the waiting car. My eye gushed with tears, light bothered it, it hurt (not unbearable but I knew it had been fooled with) and I was glad when I could lay down and take a nap.  All night my eye bothered me.  If I stood or sat the motion made my eye ache.  If I turned on a light it bothered me.  When I turned my head I could feel a deep dull pain in my eye. I did not sleep much.  Around 2:30 a.m. I looked on the internet for a patron saint of the eye. 

St. Odila and St. Lucy are both patron saints of eyes.  St. Odila was born blind but when she was baptised as a young girl she was able to see.  When a betrothed admired Lucy's eyes she took them out and gave them to him and told him "now you have them and I can give my life to God." I did send a prayer to them to speak with Our Blessed Mother so she could ask her son to make my eye stop hurting.  This morning I woke up and felt better.

When I spoke with the doctor I asked her why the operation and recuperating time had been so different between both eyes.  She said it was like giving two births are alike!" The wonderful news about the cataract operation is that I can now see everything clear and sharp.

"No eyes that have seen beauty ever lose their sight"
by Jean Toomer

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

A Nudge From God

Sometimes I think God gets exasperated with me and gives me a nudge to point me in the right direction. Once, when I worked at a legal office, I would sometimes be called to interpret for Spanish speaking clients. Legal terms in Spanish were foreign to me and I decided to take some time off and go to Mexico and volunteer in a legal office so I could learn legal terms in Spanish.  About two weeks before I was to leave for Guadalajara, the city suffered a large explosion and a good part of Guadalajara was damaged.  Information we received was that there were rats running all over and that the streets were all torn up so I decided not to travel to Guadalajara. The following weekend I happened to read an article in the Sunday Denver Post about an orphanage in Queretaro and the priest was asking for volunteers to come help with the children.  I called the priest and he gave me information and invited me to come work with the children in Colon, Queretaro. I went and that experience is one of the most fruitful and beautiful I have ever had. I thought I would be giving of my time and skills to the orphanage, but instead I received so much more than I gave! I returned for a month at a time for the next five years. I believe this was a nudge from God.

One day I ran into the interim Director of the Hispanic Office of the Archdiocese of Denver and mentioned to her that I was looking for work. She told me they had just hired someone. Two days later she called me and told me the person had not worked out and if I was still interested. In the mean time I had applied at the Arvada Police Department and passed all the tests -- lie detector, written, oral and typing and was offered a position. I knew God was nudging me! I decided to work at the Hispanic Office even though it was less money because I would be able to use my bilingual skills and would be able to help those in need.

This year, I joined the Young At Hearts group at Spirit of Christ and noticed that there was a photographer going around taking pictures.  Down deep inside, I thought; I'd like to do that, I wonder how she got the position?  After I attended a few functions, the photographer announced she would not be able to continue being the photographer and if there was anyone interested in taking over. (Another nudge?) I spoke with her along with two other women who were interested.  Today I was approached by a few of the board members and asked if I would be the next photographer.  I told them I didn't know because I had not been officially informed.  When the photographer arrived she told me she wanted me to take over and that at the Board meeting a few people had spoken and recommended me.  One was someone I had gone on a pilgrimage to Europe and she remembered my slide show, another was someone who had gone to Chimayo on one of my tours, and another was a book club member who said I was a responsible and reliable person. I am now the photographer for the Young at Heart group.

I believe that God, when he sees me drag my feet, gives me a nudge and pushes me to guide me on the right path.  Sometimes, I may not accept the nudge and I know it is my loss.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

A Taste of Heaven

April 9, 2012 ...  Monday:  Picked up my California granddaughters at DIA. They were coming to visit me during their spring break. I met them at the gate and my heart filled with joy when I saw two young ladies with backpacks walking up the ramp. It was nice to see their instant smiles when they saw me. After hugging and kissing we followed the crowd to the airport train and then made our way to where I had parked the car. On their last visit I had taken them to Tapatios Restaurant and they remembered eating delicious enchiladas and wanted to go there again. After lunch we drove to Estes Park and checked in at Fawn Valley Inn. When my children were small we would stay at Fawn Valley and I wanted my granddaughters to experience the same condos where their mother had stayed. I like going to Estes Park because it is about 1 1/2 hours away and wild life can be spotted on the streets, in yards, in meadows and downtown. As I drove, Brenna became the photographer!

We all got on the bed and played 1/3 of a Ghost (A spelling game) but they are both such great spellers that no one was ousted from the game!

Tuesday: Today we took a tour of Ghosts and History at the Stanley Hotel.  The Tour Guide told us that the ghosts at the Stanley are not evil but are playful and like to tease.  The 138 room hotel was built by Freelan Oscar Stanley and opened in 1909. F.O.(as he is referred to) also was co-inventor of the Stanley Steamer.  In a beautiful, white room there is a large piano and sometimes music can be heard coming from the room. When the door is opened the room is empty.

Room 217 is connected to a cleaning lady named Nellie who was preparing rooms for guests to arrive. When the electricity went out, she began to light the gas fixtures. When she got to Room 217 there was an explosion and she ended up on the first floor.  After she recovered, she returned to work at the Stanley and worked until she was ninety-one years old.  It is believed that after she died, she returned to Room 217 to hang out in the room.  Visitors who check into the room will leave their belongings scattered about, yet when they return to the room everything is put away. Once, a man found his suitcase packed and by the door and it is suspected that Nellie did not like him and wanted him gone.

Room 401 is reported to have odd things happen while staying in the room. If a closet is entered it appears as if ones thigh is stroked. Visitors have awakened to find someone looking over them while they sleep. Women have felt a kiss on the forehead. On the fourth floor where nannies took care of children, the sound of children running through the halls can be heard. Sometimes, visitors will say they felt a small hand trying to take their hand.  The rocky tunnels below the Stanley are spooky and the guide said that sometimes ghosts can be seen in the tunnels. The tunnels were used, and still are, for workers to get from one end of the hotel to another.

Many believe that The Shining with Jack Nicholson was filmed at the Stanley Hotel but it was filmed in Seattle, Washington.  Stephen King did stay at the Stanley and got his idea to write the story while visiting Estes Park.  King later worked on a television mini-series and used the Stanley Hotel as a back drop.

At the completion of the tour we went to downtown Estes and wandered in and out of stores.  Saw some interesting musical bowls from Nepal.  If the rim is rubbed they make a high pitched sound. Lunch was at a Chicago Style Pizza restaurant and then we walked a few blocks for two scoops of refreshing Bonnie Bell ice cream. Many of the stores are closed but will open around Memorial Day.

In Rocky Mountain National Park  we found some dirty snow along the road and the girls got out to make snowballs!

For dinner we had chicken soup and fruit salad and watched Overboard with Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell.

Wednesday:  We left Fawn Valley and headed to Arvada.  Stopping at Flat Irons mall
Brenna purchased some flip-flops and Ariana bought some chap stick. Around 1 p.m. we picked up Nicolette, my granddaughter who lives in Arvada, and we had lunch at Sweet Tomatoes.  We then went to see Mirror Mirror, a different story about Snow White. The ending made us laugh when the whole cast sang a song of I Believe, I Believe, I Believe!

We came home and the girls got my collection of trolls and began dressing them.  I found that odd, because when the girls were smaller, they liked to undress the trolls! I prepared spaghetti and a salad for dinner and I watched the girls go into giggling fits! We took Nicolette home and when we returned the girls did one of their favorite things when they visit me...look through photo albums and watch DVD's. After Brenna went to bed, Ariana and I would stay up and talk about her school and her friends.

Thursday:  I fixed pancakes for Brenna and Ariana ate fruit and toast.  Ariana is looking for a brand of shoes named Toms and she wanted red sparkly ones. She also wanted to find a birthday gift for a friend of hers. We drove to Colorado Mills but were unable to find Toms or a gift and decided to return to Flat Irons Mall.  On our way we ate lunch at the deli at Whole Foods. At Nordstroms we found Toms shoes but not the ones Ariana wanted. We wandered around, took pictures, shopped and then headed home to get ready for dinner with the family.

We met at the Tea Gardens, a Chinese eating place. There was lots of laughter because of the antics of their uncle, Andy, and grandfather, Mico.  The two were like a comedy team!  We enjoyed the different dishes of Kung Pao Chicken, Lemon Chicken, Sesame Shrimp, Sweet and Sour Chicken, duck and a large Pu Pu platter with spare ribs, beef strips, shrimp, egg rolls and chicken wings. After dinner we drove to Bliss, a yogurt place, for dessert.

April 13, 2012 ... Friday:  Grandma Maryann drove us to Idaho Springs and we looked at the different and quaint shops.  She bought Brenna a winter hat that Brenna thought was a mouse but I thought was a cat. Ariana picked out a tie-dyed t-shirt for herself and a magnet of a moose for her Grandmother Hallman.  It is strange that when I was in school my nickname was Moose and after my daughter married, we found out that her mother-in-law also is called Moose.  We toured the Indian Hot Springs Lodge and the girls liked the swimming pool but did not like the heat (or the naked lady) in the caves. The drive to Echo Lake had lots of curves, yet, the snow covered mountains were beautiful. It was cold at Echo Lake and after snacking on apples, oranges and Peruvian cookies we returned to Idaho Springs for lunch.  We ate at the Buffalo Restaurant and Bar and Brenna ate a large burrito, I had nachos that would have fed five persons, Maryann had a turkey Ruben, and Ariana had vegetables tempura.

On our way home we got off of I-70 and tried to find the wild Buffalo. (They are Bison but we know them as buffalo.)  The buffalo were too far away to see how large they really are but they are 5-6 feet tall and about 7 feet long. We saw about 22 Bison grazing in a pasture.
When we got to Grandma Maryann's house, the girls talked with their grandfather, Mico.  Brenna quizzed him about Peru because her family is planning to go to Peru in 2013.  She was interested in whether they would be able to drink the water and was told that the water is not good for drinking.  We thanked Maryann for a pleasant afternoon, the girls said good-bye and we came home to make sure everything was packed.

I drove them to the airport, picked up a pass for me, breezed through security and walked to the gate.  We sat and talked until it was time for them to board.  We hugged and kissed and then they disappeared down the ramp. I was happy we were able to control our tears!  I waited until their plane rolled away and Sarge, the eagle on the tail, disappeared.  The five days had been filled with good quality time and I felt as if I had a taste of heaven on the five days my California granddaughters were with me.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

What A Difference An Eye Makes

What a beautiful Easter mass this morning!  The priest in his golden brocade chasuble with a red cross
down his back was striking as he stepped up to the altar.  He had neatly combed, salt and pepper hair, with a widow's peak. Oh, I thought, a new priest must be helping out.  His voice with an accent sounded familiar and I realized it was the associate pastor who celebrates mass every Sunday.  Why did I think the assistant priest was an elderly black man with tight, dark curly hair?  This priest was young looking, tan, handsome and not someone I had seen in the past. I was shocked that one eye could make such a big difference!  What else had I thought I had seen?

The choir sang the hymns with their whole hearts and soul.  The choir director was a balding, middle aged man.  I wondered where the previous director could be with his wonderful voice. He had looked to me to be in his thirties if not younger.  Now, as I kept looking, I realized that it was the same choir director from the past.  Now I could tell that the choir director was older than I had thought! What a difference one good eye makes!

Looking up at the large screen I could see the words to the songs clearly. Today I joined the choir in all the hymns. I have been silent for the past few years because I could not see the words. Something else I noticed was sometimes I had trouble understanding the priest because of his accent.  Today I saw that his words were on the screen. His homily could be read for those that had trouble hearing or understanding. How many Sundays did I sit wondering what a priests was saying when if I could have been able to see I would have seen the words on the screen.  One eye was making a big difference in what I could see!

Thank you dear God for my one good eye.  If I am already seeing differences in the before and after, I can only imagine how much more I will see when my right eye is fixed!

Friday, April 6, 2012


I bet you are wondering what those letters in the title represent.  I would not have known if Laura Abeyta-Martinez had not called me to let me know that she had won the World Poker Tour Amateur Poker League in Las Vegas, Nevada.  Laura is my friend's daughter and when ever I speak with my friend, she mentions that her daughter plays poker. Yet, I never knew to what extent she played or that she was such an excellent player.

Not too long ago, I saw on Facebook that Laura had won a seat to play in Las Vegas. At the time, I thought, good for her, she gets to go to Vegas. This week I found out how serious she is about her poker games!  As she played and won she kept posting remarks on Facebook.  The first post came across on April 2: On my way to Vegas.  Her blurbs kept me waiting to hear what the next one would be: April 3:  Playing in the WPT right now please wish me well.

April 3:  OK FB Friends, please think happy thoughts for me because I finished today's tournament with 118,500 in chips and playing in the final game tomorrow.

April 3:  I'm in second place chip stack wise and in the top 5.  1st place is 123,000.  Later, I learned that she was actually in first place with her chip stack.

April 3: Tuesday - My big stack

April 4: Tournament is starting and this is my chip bag!

April 4: Over 900,000 chips.  I'm at the final table and I win a Flat screen TV, 32 inch.

April 5:  I won first place.  Thank you Jesus and Thank you all FB friends.

April 5: I WON!

The photos she put on FB are of a large silver cup and a super large card board with WPT Amateur Champion. April 2nd - 4th, 2012.

I noticed that her chips were always in front of her on the table in the shape of a cross. She was asked a couple of time to stack her chips so people could tell how many she had, but she ignored their requests and kept them in the shape of a cross. In the mean time, her mother, my friend, kept asking her deceased husband to watch over their daughter.

And then, the remarkable win that out of the 600 persons playing in the tournament she came out on top! She told me that she is the first woman to ever win the tournament. She also said,  "I felt like a celebrity with everyone congratulating me! I still can't believe it!"

After arriving home she told me she will never forget the past three days. "It's like a dream!" she exclaimed, "and I am still pinching myself because I find it hard to believe I actually took first place!"

I don't find it so difficult to believe because Laura is an outstanding person who always appears happy with a good sense of humor. She strikes me as someone who knows what she wants and she goes after it.  Her faith is one to be envied.  Her love for her family is admirable. She works hard, enjoys life and now that the $10,000 entry fee has been paid, she can look forward to playing with the professional poker players!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Easter in Estes

Andy and Barbara near Trail Ridge Road

I don't know when the tradition of spending Easter in the mountains began but it seems that when my children were young we celebrated Easter in Estes Park. One year, I invited my parents to come for Easter dinner where we were staying. Easter morning I got up early and decided to vacuum the condo before going to mass. A knock on the door surprised me and when I opened the door, a man in his pajamas exclaimed,  "For crying out loud, we are on vacation and would like to sleep in.  Why are you vacuuming so early and waking everybody up?" I learned that celebrating in the mountains was not the same as being home!

If I am home and not traveling, my Arvada family and I have headed to Estes Park to celebrate Easter. My granddaughter was about one year old when we began spending time in the mountains. I have many memories of swimming, roller skating, hiking, wandering in and out of  stores, buying sweets in candy stores, playing in a playground with swings and slides, sitting in hot tubs,
playing board games, coloring Easter eggs, watching movies and popping popcorn. Saturday evening we reserved for dying eggs and before long it became a competition to see who could come up with the most colorful or unusual egg!

On Easter morning, I would attend mass at Our Lady of the Mountains Catholic church and some years I would be in summer clothes while other times I'd be bundled in winter clothes. Before leaving for mass I would hide colored eggs and/or plastic eggs filled with surprises so when my grandchildren woke up they could hunt for the eggs.  Sometimes, the resort would have an Easter Egg hunt and my grandchildren would join thirty other kids in looking for the colored eggs! One of my favorite times was when my California family visited and we stayed in three separate cabins.

We would eat Easter brunch at one of the local restaurants or sometimes I would prepare something at the condo where we were staying.  One of my favorite places was sitting in the dining room and looking out at Lake Estes. A fascinating view is seeing elk wandering around Estes or watching them slowly cross the road or huddled in a meadow. 

When I woke up last year, (2011), it was a winter wonderland! Here are some photos of our wonderful times spent at Estes Park, Colorado for Easter.

Rocky Mountain National Park
is a great place to see wild life!


Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Legal Eagles

Legal Eagles
Manuel, Mike, Loretta, Louise, Dan, Gen,
Rufina, Linda, Augie, Erlinda, Jim, Greg,
Jeannie, and Jeff 
Some players I have forgotten
their names.

Now that the Colorado Rockies are getting ready for another season of baseball, I couldn't help but remember a team of misfits representing the Legal Aid Society of Metropolitan Denver. Some of the players were excellent softball players, those wannabees who dreamed of playing on a "real" team.
Another group was the non-athletic types who just wanted to belong to the team.  The third group was the willing to learn, sometimes good and sometimes bad, but always trying.

I don't know where I fit in, probably in the third group. Sometimes I could hit a ball over the outfielder's head but usually, if I hit the ball it rolled directly to one of the base persons or the pitcher.  I could not run very fast and once when I was running as fast as I could, I heard, "Come on, run!"  I wanted to stop and tell the yeller, what did he think I was doing! Another time, when I got a base hit and made it to first base I was so excited and happy that I went over to our line umpire and hugged him.  I was told my run could have been disqualified because you never touch the umpires! Later in the season, a rule was found that someone else could run for you.  After I took my turn at batting, and if I got a hit, another player ran for me. This worked out fine for all concerned!

My position was first base and if the ball came straight to me, I prided myself in catching those balls.  If the ball veered and I had to bend, jump or move away from the base, I missed the ball. I held that position until an attorney nun joined the team.  She could leap, sling herself sideways on the ground, and twist  her body any which way to catch the ball.  She became our first base person! 

I became a left outfielder and I heard whispers that very rarely did batters hit the ball to left field.  One game a player happened to bat the ball to the left side of the field. I saw the ball sailing up high and as it began its descent I ran to get under it.  What a great play this was going to be, I thought.  Keeping my eye on the ball I did not see the puddle of muddy water where my foot landed and sent me sliding across the field about four feet from where the ball landed.  In my muddy and wet uniform my pride was hurt and the laughter floating over to me was embarrassing.

The wannabees were very competitive.  They wanted to win regardless of feelings they hurt.  One even asked me what language I spoke just because he told me to stay on third and I thought I could make it home. I didn't make it. Another wanted to pick up a runner struggling to make it to home base on her short legs. He later told the team he wanted to pick her up and carry her to home base because he wanted to make a home run.  They looked like a dance team with him syncronizing his steps right behind her.

Once, both teams watched a foul ball go flying into a street into moving traffic.  Everyone watched as the ball and a Volkswagen seemed to move in slow motion toward each other.  It was a perfect hit but I don't remember if the car stopped or not.  Practicing on a dirt field, I was ready to catch a rolled ball and it hit a rock and spun out of control right into my face. The ball struck me giving me a large cut on my lower lip and a purple blotch on my upper lip. 

Yet, what I remember the most was getting together after practice or a game.  Depending on what part of Denver we were playing, we ended up in a neighborhood bar reliving the game. We became a team of friends at the bar and the tales told were always better than the games played!

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Holy Week

The first three days of Holy Week my Mother would clean, cook, do laundry, iron and shop. She always said that all the work had to be done by Thursday because Thursday and Friday were very important and sacred days in the church. On Holy Thursday and Good Friday we went to services at Our Lady of Peace Church. We would walk about eleven blocks to attend services. I remember on Thursday priests would stretch out on the floor, there would be the blessing of holy oil, some of the priests would get their feet washed, the incense burning made me nauseous and for the Stations of the Cross we would stand and kneel at all the stations while reciting prayers. Friday there was no mass but around three o'clock, the hour when Christ was crucified, there would be a long and emotional observance of Christ's last words, usually around 3 p.m.

The choir would sing the haunting hymn of "Were You There, When They Crucified My Lord?" To this day, the words of that song sadden me when I hear it.

Since there was no cooking on those holy days, my great-aunt, Tia Lala who lived across the street, and my Mother would trade dishes they had prepared at the beginning of the week. My Mother made a delicious bread pudding with cinnamon, brown sugar,  toasted bread, raisins, and cheese that made the kitchen smell good. There were probably other ingredients but I only remember the ones I have mentioned.  My great-aunt would prepare a tomato macaroni and cheese that I loved. Even though I have not perfected my great-aunt's dish, my grandchildren also love that dish. A rice pudding was traded for a jello salad or a fish and noodle dish exchanged for Lentil soup.  During those two day we could not listen to music. We fasted. I gave up chocolate. We prayed. We spent many hours in church. These are my early memories of lent.

In those days, Saturday was called El Sabado Glorioso (Glorious Saturday) and a dance was held on Saturday night. It seemed as if all of the Hispanic community looked forward to Holy Saturday because Lent was considered over.  Later, possibly after Vatican II, Saturday was included in the Easter celebration with a mass beginning on Saturday evening. Easter mass would be an array of new clothing and fancy straw hats in pastel colors.

 One Easter my mother wore an organza dress of lavender with small purple flowers. She wore a wide brimmed hat and Cuban heeled shoes and I knew she was the most beautiful mother in the world. For Easter Sunday my Dad dragged out his one and only navy suit. I wondered why the church got so crowded on Easter Sunday and later learned that there are many who go to mass only on Easter, Christmas, to get married or to be buried!

The picture on the left was taken on Easter in 1968. Dad is holding Barbara, (she is holding her Easter basket), Mom is in the middle, I am on the right and Andy is in front of my Mom.

Easter Sunday was a day for celebrating.  My mother made sure to buy chocolate candy, orange slices and coconut macaroons at the Woolworth candy counter and I could eat all the chocolate I wanted.  My mother would put on a cotton apron and fix dinner. I remember she made patties out of mashed potatoes, dipped them in egg and fried them but I do not remember if there was a special dinner. Sometimes my paternal grandmother and aunt would come visit. Other times we visited my mother's siblings who lived in Kersey, Colorado.  This was an outing to the country about seven miles away but to me it seemed as if we traveled a long way!

Later, after my children were born, my mother continued making Easter a happy occasion. She enjoyed buying them outfits to wear for Easter.  Aside from the holiness of the holiday, she entered the role of the Easter bunny and hid eggs in her yard for my children to find. When they got older, she hid money in plastic eggs for them to find.  And of course, she always bought me chocolate candy!

Basically, the rites are the same as when I was growing up except that the church now makes everything more interesting with parishioner participation. Some services that have made an impression on me were when the washing of the feet included all the church members. It was a long procession with one shoeless foot! The Passion of Our Lord, with cymbals and drums made the reading more realistic. Having five readers portray the different characters in the Passion was like watching a play.  Participation of the congregation when they play the part of the "crowd" is quite moving. I have been handed a nail and walked down to a large wooden cross to hammer the nail into the cross.  I have to agree with my Mother when she said, "Jueves y Viernes de Semana Santa son dias muy importantes y sagrados." (Thursday and Friday of Holy Week are very important and sacred days.)

Lily arrangement taken from the internet. 

Monday, April 2, 2012

A Trail of Disaster

Yesterday, I went shopping at Target and the first thing I did was to pull the red cart out of another cart. The second thing was pulling the disinfectant towel out of its container. Instead of one towel, six towels slid out of the slot.  I wiped down the handle of the cart but before I could throw the towels into the trash, the towels slipped out of my hand and fell to the floor.  Since I cannot bend below my waist due to my cataract operation, I used my foot to shove the towels near the trash container. The little pile of white towels would have to stay on the floor until some kind soul decided to put them in the trash.

In the shampoo aisle, I went up and down the aisle looking at all the different types of shampoo and conditioners. There was something for all types of hair: split-ends, gray, dry, oily, thinning,  and colored. Some were fragrant free, organic, for dandruff, or tearless. I wondered if something I had read about shampoo and conditioners being the same except for the price was true? As I picked up a double bottle wrapped in cellophane, one of the bottles slipped out of the wrapping and landed on the floor.  Again, using my foot I pushed the bottle under the counter.  I hoped no one was watching me.

The 75% off rack attracted me and as I looked through blouses and sweaters, a blouse slipped off the hanger and to the floor.  I left it there.  In the book department I glanced at a few books but when I went to put the book back on the shelf, I hit the shelf  knocking the book out of my hands.  The book stayed where it landed.

After paying, I headed straight for the car expecting the Cleanup Patrol to come running after me to tell me to return to the store and replace everything I had dropped.  No one did and when I arrived home I juggled my sack to get my keys in the right hand to open the door. The keys fell to the cement porch.  I slipped off my sandal and was able to pick up the key ring with my toe, bring it up closer to my waist, and grab the keys. Once inside, I noticed a bobby pin on the floor.  I tried picking it up with my toes but it was too small for my toes to pick up.  I ended up getting a dust pan with a long handle and sweeping up the bobby pin. A notebook on the floor took a bit more thought.  I sat on a chair, using both feet I picked up the notebook and brought it up near my lap where I was able to grab it with my hands. My toes and feet have now become an extension of my hands!

What surprises me is how many things fall to the floor on a daily basis and I never noticed because it was easy to bend and pick things up. I know my eye operation does not make me drop things more than usual. I do know I have become more aware of things landing on the floor! The three things I can rely on are my feet, a long handled dust pan and broom or just allowing objects to stay on the floor!