Compassion and Hypocrisy

compassionchalkboardtextI needed a few things at the crafts shop; glue sticks, jute, ModPodge, stuff like that.

Let’s clarify right from the beginning —  I live in what could be described as a sorta snooty beach town — home prices in the $700,000 to million dollar plus — a fair amount of discretionary spending — lots of ladies who go to the gym, spa, lunch, shop.

The crafts store I went to is in a smaller strip mall. I parked my car between a Lexus and a Mercedes (see?), grabbed a reusable bag from the trunk, and headed into the store.

It was a busy Sunday; by the way a lot of the (mostly) ladies were attired, it’s obvious they had come directly from church — this is SoCal so nobody doesn’t wear flipflops unless they have to, and there were more flowery frocks than Lululemons.

As I’m walking toward the store, DIRECTLY to the left of the automatic double glass doors  —  in plain sight — was a man sprawled out on the sidewalk. You couldn’t tell if he was sleeping. Or if he was dead. He had no blanket, no pillow, nothing except a well-worn paper bag near his feet.


I looked around and there were no less than three other women walking toward the crafts mecca along with me.

NO ONE even glanced in his direction, but it’s not like you could avoid seeing him.

He was RIGHT there.

They had to make a CONSCIOUS decision to ignore him.

I made eye contact with one woman who looked away, uncomfortably.

It was obvious that she did NOT want to engage in a conversation.

I went in the store, walked over the first employee I saw, and asked if he knew anything about the man that was either dead or alive outside his store.

He said, “Oh yeah, someone mentioned him.”

I said, “Well, has anyone checked to see if he’s OK, if he needs help, IF HE HAS A PULSE??”

He said, “Would you like me to call the manager”?

I said, “Yes, you do that.”

As I’m tapping my foot impatiently, waiting for the manager to appear and deal with ME, it was hard NOT to feel all the other women awkwardly look away from the SITUATION.

When the manager arrived, she said, “Are you the one who wants to know about that man?”

I said, “Yes, I’m the one. If you knew there was a human lying on the ground – he could be sick, he could be dead, he could be homeless — why did you not call someone to help him?”

(Watching out of the corner of my eye as other women avoided the aisle where we were standing.)

“Well, do you want me to call someone?”

I don’t f***ing believe this.

My blood pressure was rising — as was my voice.



“He’s someone’s son or brother or father. What if he were YOUR son or brother or father?”

Yes, I said that.

If you want to know why I didn’t go up to him myself, its because I actually thought he was dead, and didn’t want to disturb a potential crime scene, and if he was sick, well, it’s not my job to offer medical assistance.

The manager called the police who arrived immediately, and it appeared that the man was indeed homeless, but was having some sort of medical condition and needed to be transported to a hospital — not life threatening, but he definitely didn’t need to suffer on the sidewalk.

As I stood in line waiting to purchase my glue sticks and other non-essentials, a woman thanked me for “doing something” and said she was planning to say something if I had not.

Well, people, I can’t be everywhere, so don’t wait for me.


Whether it’s a sick and dirty homeless man or a mistreated animal or an abused child.

Be civilized. Be compassionate.



Don’t just talk about it.

Don’t be a hypocrite.


Happy Mother’s Day To My Son

Vintage Angel Boy

Vintage Angel Boy

Because, of course, without him, I wouldn’t have a Mother’s Day at all.

This was brought to my attention one year by my facetious brilliant child who remarked that in fact, HE should be the one who garners all the attention, because without HIM, I’d have nothing to celebrate.

I thought about it and he’s right and the day belongs to my Angel Boy.

I’ve enjoyed thirty-four years of receiving gifts and presents and all the little things that go along with this one day set aside to recognize mothers; handmade cards and macaroni hearts (I’ve kept them all) and coupon books for hugs and dishwashing (still waiting to collect on a few of those.)

Now that our nest is empty and I don’t wake up to a sweet little boy snuggling in bed with me; that embodiment of Mother’s Day with every smile and giggle, there’s only one thing I desire, and this is true of a lot of other empty nest moms I’ve talked to.



What do we want?


When do we want it?


My cell phone rang and the little screen flashed “Angel Boy”, which always makes me verrry happy, because as much as texts and emails facilitate instant communication, there’s really no good substitute for hearing my only child’s voice.

Me: “Was ist los, mein Kinde?”

(That’s pretty much my entire body of knowledge of German, which is Angel Boy’s Ph.D.; Germanic Languages and Literatures)

Him: Hi, Mom.”

Me: “To what do I owe the honor of an actual telephone call?”

Him: “What do you want for Mother’s Day?”

(By unspoken agreement, this query includes my birthday, which is either ON Mother’s Day or within a few days of it.)

Me: “YOU know what I want.”

“It’s that little four-letter word. It’s what I always want. Say it.”

Him: “You want TIME, right?”

Me: “Yup, that’s it. I want YOU. I want time BEING with you. I want to spend TIME with you.”

“Don’t buy me any THING. What I want is priceless.”

And that’s the truth.

Ever since he left SoCal to pursue his lofty academic goals mostly on the East coast, TIME has become a precious commodity.

Now I know why my mom counseled me to spend every second, every minute — with my child, because she knew that once they grow up and fly away, all you’ll be left with is memories.

That’s why I got up at 4 a.m. and did as much housework as possible before he woke up so that every minute could be spent caring for him, playing with him — just BEING with my Angel Boy without having to say, “in a minute” or “not now, I’m busy.”

If I had to give advice to mom nowadays, I’d tell them to spend more precious time being present in their children’s lives, and spend a whole lot less time on their electronic devices.

Because one day, their children will be gone, and you’ll regret the hours you spent on Facebook.

Although I’m not seeing my Angel Boy ON Mother’s Day, he planned a camping/hiking trip for us in a couple of weeks, and that’s when I’ll bask in the glow of TIME.

I can’t wait.

Happy Mother’s Day, everyone!


It started raining in the middle of the night, so hard it woke me up.

Rain, wind, five inches of snow in our local mountains — is this May or is it December?

I was worried about my little hummingbird and her full nest.

How would they weather the storm?

First thing this morning, I looked out the kitchen window and there she is, swaying back and forth on the hummingbird wind chimes under the eaves, safe and dry.

See the rain coming down? What a smart mom to choose a home that’s protected from the elements and allows her to survey the entire back yard.

hummyMay8rainHumans can learn a lot about good parenting from other species.HummyMay7

There is no more important job than caring for her young.

Soon enough, they’ll hatch and grow and fly away, leaving her with that empty nest she worked so hard to build.

Maybe that’s what her tiny little hummingbird mind ponders as she sits there hour after hour.

And I know exactly how she feels.


Rebranding Fat Tuesday and Much LOVE for Cindy Crawford

There’s a connection here — or at least in my feverish condition, I see one…

Writer’s note: After I hit publish, I realized there’s grammatical confusion with the original title — I don’t think Cindy Crawford needs to be rebranded ALSO, which is what the “and” implied Update:. I think I fixed the problem with this version.

Photo:Enchanted Seashells,Confessions of a TugboatCaptain's Wife

Photo:Enchanted Seashells,Confessions of a TugboatCaptain’s Wife

It’s not the excessive alcohol consumption that bothers me, nor the shiny beads (I love all that is shiny and sparkly), nor the naked-y ladies dancing down Bourbon Street.

What really vexes me is the name…FAT Tuesday.

I know what it means…

Mardi Gras is French for “Fat Tuesday”, and is the practice of overindulging in rich, fatty foods before the ritual fasting of the Lenten season.

Because of my body issues, it’s the word FAT that causes me distress.

I work really hard to fight against being overweight, to eat healthy foods, exercise daily, limit my intake of fatty and rich foods — yes, it’s my issue, I KNOW that. I’m so short at five feet tall that an extra ounce looks like five pounds on my small frame. It’s been a life-long struggle.


Here’s what I think of when I hear FAT:

All very negative. FAT is an ugly word.

Here’s a thought. How about a total rebranding?

If it were renamed “Curvy Tuesday” or “Voluptuous Tuesday”, I’d be more inclined to wholeheartedly celebrate.

Doesn’t that sound better than “Plus-sized Tuesday”?

I dunno. I guess you could say I’m fat-shaming Fat Tuesday.

What do you think about this unretouched photo of Cindy Crawford?

Unretouched Cindy Crawford another but similar subject, what do you think about this un-retouched photo of Cindy Crawford?

I think she’s gorgeous and real and it’s incredibly empowering.

There’s so much pressure to continue to look like we’re in our unlined and no cellulite twenties — I’m hopeful the future will bring less photoshopping and more authentic portrayals of women as we are. I stopped reading all those fashion mags ‘cos they’re really depressing. Try as I might, I could never attain that level of skinny.

This might sound like a mixed message with my observations about FAT Tuesday, but it’s not. Really.

Happy Curvy Tuesday, everyone!



Living in the Shadows in Sunny Shiny Southern California

There’s another side of California that you might not know about.

Sandwiched between the manicured lawns of upper middle-class residential subdivisions in SoCal, there’s a microcosm of humanity living in the shadows — migrant laborers from Mexico in makeshift camps.

In my own neighborhood, just minutes from the beach and overlooking chaparral-studded canyons, hidden behind purple sage and giant coyote bushes, we recently went for a hike and found evidence that suggests there are still active encampments.

Mostly these men are invisible, ignored by us as we speed up and down our streets, shopping, caring for our families, and only sometimes do we notice these shadow people standing on the roadside waiting to be picked up for day work or at the local liquor store buying twelve packs of beer and money orders.

Like the crows that fly in and out of our trees in a raucous cacophony, there’s an exodus out of the canyons at dawn and back at sunset.

Whatever side of the undocumented worker discussion you’re on, it’s a  blight on our supposedly civilized society that in 2015, in this country of overabundance and excess, men and women live in the bushes without benefit of safe shelter or even running water.

When you scratch off the thin veneer of Pilates classes, weekly mani-pedis and facials, that fifty dollar bottle of pinot noir, and glance beyond Anthropologie and Sur la Table, in the hills behind The Forum, and probably most of the other open spaces that are clinging to life —  that’s where you’ll find them.

It doesn’t seem quite fair for us to have so much while others are living in squalid conditions.

It’s sad, don’t you agree?


We especially liked the misspelling. There’s a certain poignancy.

There were several white rags hanging from trees along a certain path; we assumed it was to mark the way when it was dark.kellytrail2I think this is a creek, or it could be runoff from all of the developments.
Kellytrail Hard to see the turkey vulture among the clouds.
kellytrail4Do you know who and what lives beneath the surface in your neighborhood?



This picture really is worth a thousand words. Then again, maybe not.

Who says a fifty something can’t rock Hello Kitty pajamas and slippers? Anyone? I thought not. ‘Nuff said.

If you want a prompt, how about giving it your best shot and write a better caption than I did? Send it to me in the comments and I’ll share them in another post.

hello kitty pajamas and slippers