Sunday, December 19, 2010

Christmas Letter 2010

It’s already December???  Yikes, where’d 2010 go?!!!
Holiday news from Mushroom, Denise, 
Celeste and Grandma Eda Bea
Denise at Seaport Village-Long Beach

We’ve been in Long Beach for nearly 2 years, and no longer have legs as white as snow.  In fact, Mushroom has more freckles on his hands than Denise! 

Celeste (photo below) still works at JC Penney fitting kids for shoes in the Kid’s Shoe Dept.  She worked 1:30 p.m.-1:00a.m. on Black Friday, and then returned to work at 9 a.m. on Saturday!  Retail…what a job!   She has a side job as a pool cleaner too!
Celeste wearing and Elmo T-shirt while posing with Pluto at Disneyland
Great Grandma Eda Bea has been a hospice patient here at the house since last July.  Breathing has been a significant challenge, so the quality of her life is in a gradual decline.  We are all very grateful for each day she’s still with us.   She thanks you for your cards, gifts, goodies and visits!

Mushroom has been writing a book about his naval war time experiences in Vietnam.  He inserts fiction in order to tell a more complete story.  Members of his weekly writer’s group commend him highly for his creative writing style and his ability to express his feelings about a truly dark time in his life.  

Denise has continued to manage 4 houses, with not one, but two hands tied behind her back!   In addition to being Great Grandma’s primary caregiver, she took on Banker’s Life long term care insurance, and successfully fought to secure additional care benefits for her mom.  Denise relaxes by teaching her grandkids (grandson Edan below) how to cook, and by going to San Diego with Mushroom once in awhile.
Our greatest gifts this year have been:
 Denise said, “This is one of the best Thanksgivings – ever!  Dinner was a tad late, but everyone had a wonderful time, and the food was delish.  
Celeste, Holly, Cass, Dana, Bonnie and Jiho have stayed with Great Grandma Eda Bea while we’ve been able to attend social events and to get some respite!
Ten of us, Montoyas and Yoons, went to Disneyland in Sept. and had a terrific time!   We were accused by the little grandkids of taking them on some “scary rides.”  We were a real team!  We also got into Knott’s Berry Farm for a substantial discount, due to the reduced fees on Veterans Day!

We wish you Happy Holidays and a love-filled New Year with lots of opportunities to be silly.

Denise & Mushroom & Celeste & Eda Bea & Sugar & Ginger
Denise put our annual Christmas letter together.  I posted it here.

Monday, December 06, 2010

Celeste Gets Her First Business Cards

Celeste finally got her first business cards after working at JC Pennys for a couple of years. Yesterday, she gave me one. I put in on the kitchen counter to show Denise.
A short while later, Denise said to our grandson, "Edan, what do you have in your mouth? Spit it out."
Now you know why Celeste's business card is warped.

Saturday, December 04, 2010

'Tis the month of December, and all through the land:

'Tis the month of December, and all through the land,
Mamas and Papas, with store flyers in hand,
Turn page after page hunting for that prize
Of a Xmas present that will brighten their children's eyes.
Poo poo, I say, the "real" point is missing,
What a child needs most is you to go playing.
This Xmas give your loved one TIME.
Time to play, time to talk, time to share laughing and reading and cuddling
Time to share what you both can give:

Monday, November 22, 2010

Plucking Uncle Tony's Turkeys

Many years ago, when Uncle Tony owned his little grocery store in Bernalillo, New Mexico, USA, he hired a high school boy to help out in the store.  A few days before Thanksgiving, as the customers flowed into the store, Uncle Tony was becoming overwhelmed. He asked the young boy to go in the back, behind the store and take over for Uncle Ray.

“Tell Ray that I need him up here and that you are to take over for him,” Uncle Tony told the boy.

The boy went out back, behind the store. He heard turkey's gobbing. Looking up, he saw where Uncle Ray plucking a turkey. After telling Uncle Ray what he was there to do, Uncle Ray asked, “Have you ever plucked a turkey?”

“No, I never have,” the boy said, “But I was watching you. It can't be that hard. I'm sure I can do it.”

“Good. Work as fast as you can. We are going to sell a lot of turkeys today. When I get a break, I will come back here and get the turkeys that you've plucked.”

Uncle Ray left the boy with the live turkeys and went into the store, carrying the two turkeys he had just plucked. As he and Uncle Tony worked with the customers, they both noticed a tremendous racket out back. They could hear the turkeys gobbling and screaming.

“What is going on back there in the turkey pen?” Uncle Tony asked Ray.

“I am as curious as you are, Tony. I will go and see when I get a chance.”

When the line of customers dwindled down, Uncle Ray walked out the back door to the turkey pen.
Arriving at his destination he burst out laughing. He laughed so hard, that he could hardly stand up. He immediately turned and ran into the store.

Grabbing Uncle Tony by his sleeve and laughing all the while, he said, “I'll take over the cash register. You've got to go to the turkey pen.”

Uncle Tony was now more curious than ever. What could be going on in the turkey pen that made Uncle Ray laugh uncontrollably? When Uncle Tony reached the turkey pen, he saw the boy, nearly in tears, bloody with scratch marks all over his arms and face. The boy was frantically fighting with a live turkey, trying, with all of his might to pluck it.

Uncle Tony could not believe his eyes, as he too, burst into uncontrollable laughter. “No, no,” he yelled to the boy, “You have to kill the turkey before you pluck it.” Uncle Tony had to grab hold of the post to hold himself up from laughing so hard.

Thanksgiving Trickster

Thanksgiving 1974 was suppose to be a day in which Denise and I were going to get fat on four Thanksgiving feasts. My mother invited us for dinner at 2:00 PM, Denise's mom invited for dinner at 4:00 PM. Imagining our pants to be very tight, we could waddle onto the plane the Thanksgiving meal that the airline had prepared. Upon disembarking, in Salt Lake City, we would rent a car, and drive to Tia Lucia's to top off the day with left overs and desert.

Coyote spirit had different plans.

My mother was really late, which was no surprise because my mother was always late. She told us to go to Denise's parents house. We walked out the front door, trekked across the street and ambled eastward to the fourth house. Denise's mom greeted us and asked us to help. Looking at the clock, after we had been helping Eda Bea prepare the feast, we realized that we needed to leave to catch out flight. The smell of roasting turkey made our mouths water, but to no avail. We had to leave without eating. Peanuts and Coke was the airline's idea of Thanksgiving dinner. Our stomachs growled angrily.

We didn't mind, because we "knew" that Aunt Lucy would stuff us like turkey's with Thanksgiving leftovers.

Ha, ha, the joke was on us, because Aunt Lucy had Thanksgiving dinner at someone else's house, affording Denise and I with NO leftovers. Aunt Lucy feeling sorry for us, fried some potatoes in the skillet.

The final score: Coyote 4, Mushroom & Denise a big ZERO.

I told Coyote Spirit that he was just being mean.

“Mean?” he asked, “I gave you a gift that you can keep forever.”

“A growling stomach is not a gift, Coyote!” I said.

Coyote rolled over on his back, laughing at me. He chuckled as he said, “Look for the silver lining. This is a story that will always make you laugh. And you can't loose it.

I love Coyote Spirit, even if he is a big stinker.

Monday, October 04, 2010

Gift of the Heart

Gift of the Heart
I Knocked on the door to Robert's house, hoping I would have the courage to ask the question, hoping that this time, the lump of grief that had taken permanent residence at the base of my throat would not interfere and choke my opportunity to make my request. I had tried so many times before. And so many times before, that dreaded lump of grief stole my voice, denying me a means with which to make my request. Waiting outside the door, I could feel my palms getting wet as my knee caps began a little frenetic dance of their own. Standing in the warm Albuquerque sunshine, I practiced, in my head, what I would say when he opened the door. And I worried,“What if Robert didn't open the door?” Taking big gulps of air, I told myself to relax. Hearing footsteps, my heart skipped a beat. The door opened and smiling widely, Robert greeted me.
My hands outstretched, I embraced Robert in a big hug. “Ask Now, Now, Now!”rang in my head. Gulping the air once more, I blurted, “Robert, can I listen to Jeremy's heart?”On previous visits, I had wanted to make this request. I always choked up at the thought and those words I could not muster.

Still smiling, he replied, “I'm surprised, Mushroom, that you hadn't asked before. Of course you can listen to this most marvelous gift that your family gave me. Would you like to use your ear, a glass or the stethoscope?”

My ear was the only choice I would consider. I wanted to feel my son, hug my son, hold my son. I told Robert that if I cried that it was OK. Sitting in his big easy chair, Robert pointed to his chest. Leaning over the arm of his chair, I put my ear to his chest and listened to the “gift”thumping happily in Robert's chest. Beating with the strength and vigor of a 22 year old, Jeremy's heart let me know that life was good.

Robert, along with his wife and two teenage children, chatted with me for a while. Robert told me how grateful he was for the gift of Jeremy's heart. The doctor told him that his new heart was healthy and strong and that it should last him a long time. I expressed my gratitude for the news. It was news from the heart, so to speak. Our conversation moved on to talk of work, family and future plans only interrupted by sips of soda and an occasional laugh. When our conversation came to its natural conclusion, I got up to leave.

As Robert opened the door he offered me one more opportunity to listen to the gift we had given him. Standing, I put my arms around him, sunk my ear into his chest and whispered inaudibly, “Jeremy, I miss you. I love you and will forever.” Tears began to flow once again. Releasing the hold I had on Robert, I regained my composure. Tears were flowing out of Robert's eyes as he said, “Ya know, Mushroom, I am not a touchy, feely kind of guy, but when you were hugging me, I have never felt so loved in all of my life.” The lump in my throat prevented any reply. I gave Robert one more hug and walked out the door.

Robert didn't realize what a heartfelt gift his last words have given me.

Friday, October 01, 2010

Olya's Night Visitors

About nine months before we found out that little six year old Olya, (Celeste) was available for adoption, I went on a shamanic journey to see what what our new daughter looked like.  Listen to the story that I wrote for Celeste about the process.  This is a true story.  Bear in mind, that as a story teller, I don't let the facts get in the way of the truth ;-).

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Riding the Thunder Mountain train at Disneyland

Orlando, Tara and Dallin came down from Auburn Washington to visit and play.  We had a wonderful time playing in Disneyland.  We thoroughly enjoyed riding the Thunder Mountain train.
 Orlando took videos and photos of the day's events.
We started the day full of energy
 We ended the day happily exhausted.
It is jack o lantern season
Dallin was shy around Mini Mouse
We all had fun on Mr Toad's wild ride
Isis said Alice in Wonderland was scary
Orlando and Jiho could not pull out the magic sword, try as they might.
Denise became a big kid riding the merry go round
Flying on an elephant is silly

I think that this little family should have a car like this.
So does the Celestial Being
Denise, along with everyone else enjoyed taking me on It's a Small World

Dancing with Dust Devil

Driving my motorcycle, with Denise wrapping her arms around me, I began to unwind from the stress of doing the presentation at the university. Winding down the road, with the wind blowing in my face, I wound my way down the off ramp onto Rio Bravo Boulevard. Up ahead, across the Rio Grande, a glowing orange sunset welcomed us homeward. Tapping Denise's leg, I pointed up ahead to the desert landscape on our left. Whirling and twirling its dance, a dust devil dug up the dirt, dressing itself with dingy debris. She danced towards the East, about 100 yards to our left, as we rode our mechanical horse to the West.

Mesmerized by her dance, I called to her, “Come. Oh windy Lady of the West, venga y baile con migo. Come and dance with me.”

To my surprise and delight she accepted my invitation, and turned 90 degrees. We joined her in her dance as we rumbled across the railroad tracks. Enveloping us in her gossamer skirt, she tossed and twirled tumbleweed twigs to and fro. Tipping and twisting, she bantered us about as she twirled around and around us kicking up the hem of her desert skirt. Bidding us, adios, she kissed our cheeks with sandy lips, as she danced away, giggling like a little girl holding her hand over her mouth.

Throwing her arms up in the air, Denise yelled out, “Wow! What a wild and windy dance that was!”

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Transforming an old, donated Fiat into a gem

When I was a student in a seminary, preparing for the priesthood, in 1966, I had the chore of washing the priest's cars. I didn't mind because it gave me an opportunity to drive.
Fr. Martinez, who wasn't Irish, like all of the other priests (or so it seemed) had been given an old 1959 Fiat.  Its paint had weathered to a very faded light green with an equally faded yellowish trim.  

I decided to wash it with Ajax and scrub off the top of overly weathered paint.  Generously applying Classic Car Wax, I transformed that old "left over" into a sparkling gem. 
With its new lease on life, I drove it into the school's dining hall before dinner.  

Fr. Martinez was taking his turn, sitting at the head table along with the assistant dean.  He asked the students, who were sitting closest to him, who's car was parked in the school's dining hall.  Observing the interrogation, I got up from my assigned table and told Fr. Martinez that the Fiat, in question, was his car.  

He adamantly denied that it was his car, stating that he had an old beat up, Fiat.  He wanted to know whose shiny Fiat was parked in the school's dinning hall.  I requested him to follow me.  Looking inside the car, his face expressed confusion and delight.
God played the trickster after dinner.  Fr. Martinez was unable to drive his newly polished Fiat out of the
school's dining hall because one of its tires went flat. 

Sunday, June 27, 2010

American Eye Test?

Take a look at these photos:Taking Denise to the eye  doctor can be a weired  experience not only for Denise but for anyone who  witnessed the eye  dryness test. They actually had those pieces of paper in her eyes.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

The Gift in the Trauma Center October 1992

Gift in the Trauma Center

La Noche, the night had cast her dark blue blanket across the sky leaving only the moon to quiet the University of New Mexico Trauma center's hustle and bustle. I Waited until everyone had disappeared from my son's private intensive care room before I entered, walking slowly not wanting to draw attention to myself. I wanted to be alone with my 22 year old son. I needed to be alone to give my dying son one last gift.

Unzipping my backpack, I withdrew the sheet music of “Memories”, from the musical play, “Cats.” The cat's yellow eyes on the black cover of the sheet music foretold dark moments ahead.
The song's words, “Memory, all alone in the moonlight”, took a bite out of my heart as I turned the page.
Jeremy,” I called to him, from the side of his bed. “I'm going to sing a song for you that I've been working on in my voice class."

Being in a coma, unable to make a response, my first born son could not refuse the gift of my voice. I began my song, soft and low, almost a whisper; “Midnight, not a sound from the pavement.”
The instruments in his room were quiet.
"Has the moon lost her memory, She is smiling alone, in the lamplight, the withered leaves collect at my feet and the wind begins to moan.”

A moonbeam shined on Jeremy's face as he lay motionless in his bed. My heart moaned as I continued to sing. Increasing my volume, the song took on a life of its own.
Memory all alone in the moonlight, I can smile at the old days, It was beautiful then, I remember the time I knew what happiness was, let the memory live again.”

No response came from Jeremy as he lay in his coma. It's as if he had descended into Hades. I was no Orpheus and had no instrument other than my voice to persuade the God of the Underworld to release my son. I made a slight modification as I sang to him.

Touch me, its so easy to leave me all alone with the memory of my days with my son. If you touch me, you'll understand what happiness is. Look, a new day has begun.”

Tears flowed down my cheeks as Denise wrapped her arms around me from behind making me aware that the room had filled with family and hospital staff. My gift had been shared with all those who heard my melodic gift.

Monday, May 24, 2010


Soon after we moved to Kent, Washington, the Great NorthWET, we adopted Kita.  She was part wolf, German Shepard and Akita.  She was my running partner.  She ran as far as 16 miles with me on one of my practice runs.  She loved playing and sitting in the snow.  She was our family protector and playmate.  We all miss her.  She grew old and happy. 
  Kita was Celeste's constant companion and protector.
She even had her own Xmas stocking.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Camping at Doheney Beach

We went camping at Doheney Beach at Dana Point with Dana, Sun Hong, Max, Bonnie, Jiho, Tigerboy, Isis, Celeste and me.  Denise stayed home to take care of her mom, Eda Bea.  The next day, Celeste went to work and I went home to take care of Eda Bea.  Denise took her turn and got to go camping too.

Celeste built the fire.  She loves building fires.
That allows us to keep warm

Isis relaxed in Imo Celeste's lap
Camping doesn't seem real without roasting marshmallows. 
The Following morning Dana talked Celeste and Mushroom into going into the water
Uncle Dana tries to talk his niece, Celeste into going in first.

Then uncle Dana calls for Mushroom to come in.

So Mushroom comes down to the beach in his "Peace" Speedos.

OK, Now who is going to go in first?

Let's all go together!

Good Grief ! ! ! Brrrrr the water is freezing!

Who's dumb idea was this, Dana?
After we warmed up, we played baseball with a stick and a ball that Dana made with napkins wrapped in duct tape. 

It was cloudy and wet, pretending to be Seattle, then Dolphins came to play on the second day.   Watch the video: 


Fashion and Cupcakes