Saturday, August 22, 2015



                  unable to speak, especially as the temporary result of shock or some strong emotion.
  1. "he was speechless with rage"
    synonyms:lost for words, at a loss (for words), dumbstruck, dumbfounded, bereft of speech, tongue-tiedinarticulatemutedumbvoicelesssilent;
    "her talk of divorce left him speechless"
    unable to be expressed in words.
    "surges of speechless passion"
    I have to wonder why it is a condition that is so short-lived.  Here's a typical speech from the speechless:
  2. I am speechless.  I mean, I am really, really speechless.  Do you hear me?  I am literally speechless.  You have no idea how speechless I am.  I cannot possibly think of a single thing to say, because I am dumbstruck.  How can you go on and on about this?  I am speechless.  Speechless, I tell you!  Speechless!  This is too stupid for words.  There are no words.  None.  I am totally speechless.  You've thought I was speechless before?  That was nothing.  NOTHING!  You have never seen me as speechless as I am at this moment.  I'd explain it too you, but it's moot because I'm mute.  Speechless.  Voiceless.  I have nothing to say.  Listen to me when I tell you I'm speechless.
    Oh.  My.  God.  If this is your idea of speechless, you need a new definition of the word! 

Thursday, August 20, 2015

So. Here We Are Again

It's hard to believe it's been eight years since Jim died.  He has now been gone for a year more than we were married.

It has got easier, over the years, but I am still filled with sadness.  The rage has pretty much dissipated, but the guilt and sorrow remain.

I still find myself looking for ways I might have been responsible.  I know...I know...but still...if I could have got the house back the way Addy had it...if I had realized how bad he was feeling...if I had known more about depression...etc, etc.

One thing is for sure--if I had known that the last time we made love would have been the last time ever, I'd have put a bit more effort into it.

So, a word of advice to all you couples out there...make love every time like it's the last time, because it just might be.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

One of the Reasons Ronni Was an Angry Teen

Here we are, folks...the entire graduating class of 1966 at Chemainus Secondary School.  That's me in the center of the front row.  I was the shortest in the class, though my hair on that day had cooperated.  Many thanks to Esther Howe and an entire can of hair spray.

Here's what I looked like after we got home from the graduation ceremony:

Sweet, right?  My pretty pastel dress and pink rose corsage, and my fashionable up-do?  Yeah, not so much.  Look at my hands.  Clenched.  I was very, very angry.

In the early spring of 1966, my parents were notified that the possessions we had left in storage in England had been soaked and suffered considerable damage, including a lot of, books, linens, family portraits, glassware and china.  This necessitated a trip to England to sort it all out and Mom was the logical candidate, as Dad couldn't take that long off work.  The trip was paid for with the savings that were supposed to be used for my post-graduation trip to England.  So, yeah...I wasn't thrilled with that circumstance, as, every time I had wanted something in the previous four or five years, I got, "Would you rather go to the movies with your friends or go home to England when you graduate?"

Still, the major relevance here is that Mom was gone when I began to prepare for graduation.  My dad bought me an evening purse, because there was a dance associated with Graduation, albeit three weeks before the actual ceremony.  I cheerfully insisted that I wanted to make my own dress.  Dad was all for that; I promised it would be cheaper than buying one.

He was less than thrilled with the fact that he had to pay for three separate patterns.  The collar was the second one and the sleeves, the third.  I had a VISION, people!  Even so, the patterns, notions, fabric and lining cost less than $20.  Just for reference, the most expensive dress anyone bought off the rack for this event was the one on the girl standing at the far right in the second row...rumour had it that it cost (gasp) $90!  About half the girls made their own dresses in Home Economics class (out of which I had flunked in 8th grade), so it was no big deal that I made my own.  The problem ensued when Mom got back from England, after the dance and before the ceremony.

Mom and I always fought over sewing and she hated the dress, possibly because I made it without any input from her.  She insisted I had done it all wrong, and that she needed to fix it.  The focus of her ire was the blouson bodice that she thought was a mistake.  She must not have looked at the pattern.  In any case, she took the dress apart at the waist and said she would "fix it."  Every time I asked her when it would be done, she about bit my head off.

The day before the ceremony (my 17th birthday), she promised she would have it done in time.

The graduation took place at 2:00 PM in the school gym/auditorium.  Most of the girls were absent that morning, getting their hair done or busy with other last-minute prep.  By about 12:30, we were assembled at the school for a practice run.  My friend Esther had spent the morning in between classes, and lunch hour, doing my hair.  So there I was in my scruffy school dress and my closer-to-god hair, waiting for my parents to show up and the school with my dress so I could accouter myself in the girls' bathroom.  Just the way you want to dress for graduation, right?

By 1:15, teachers and admins were sticking their heads in the bathroom, asking me if I was ready yet.  Still no Mom and Dad.  They finally arrived at 1:40.  Mom pulled my dress out of a paper grocery bag--STILL IN TWO PIECES!!

In between complaining about my hair (too grown up), and my makeup (borrowed because I wasn't allowed to have any), she pinned me into the dress with STRAIGHT PINS, and tied the sash around my waist over the top of them.

Then, she insisted I wear gloves, because the other girls were.  Never mind that my dress was the only one with long sleeves, and one doesn't wear gloves with a long-sleeved formal...I didn't wear them, as you can see in the picture.

I slid into my place about a nanosecond before the music started our slow march up the aisle between the rows of folding chairs to take our places at the front.

After the ceremony, I got my picture taken with the pins sticking into my waist.  Then, it was change clothes and get on with the chores while the rest of the class celebrated with their families and friends.

They did get me the LP of Mary Poppins, but it was unclear whether it was a birthday present or a graduation present.  Oh...and the pink rose corsage was a gift from them.

It's a bit late in life to be pissed at my long-dead parents for things they did in 1966, but I still get an occasional twinge.

Occasions that are supposed to be special frequently aren't.

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Breakfast Cereal

While groping through the stack of boxes on top of the fridge...the Captain Crunch and the Avengers and the other boxes of dried marshmallows and sugar sparkled munchie crunchies...I found a bag of Puffed Wheat.  They don't call it that, nowadays, and it has a sugar glaze on it that is unfamiliar, but it still evokes memories of other cereals we ate, back in the antedeluvian days of my minority.

Puffed Wheat was pretty much the bottom of the barrel.  None of the cereals we bought had any added sweetener--that would have been out of keeping both with poverty and the post-war austerity that remained my parents' philosophy throughout my childhood.

Once, when we first moved from England to Canada, we visited friends of my parents in Montreal.  As I was quite taken with the idea of a toy in the cereal box, they opened the box at the bottom so I could have it without having to eat my way through all the cereal first.  Sheer decadence!

We had Corn Flakes and Rice Crispies, Shredded Wheat and Weetabix, All Bran and, occasionally, Bran Flakes.  Nothing with sugar, but everything with lots of fiber or, as we called it, Roughage.  Roughage was considered necessary in order for one to be Regular.  As the workings of the bowel were only ever discussed in the vaguest of terms, the reason for this remained a Mystery.

Most of the cold cereals went to mush pretty fast, except for shredded wheat.

On any of them, I was allowed a scant teaspoon of sugar, but often snuck in more.  Even though there were two of them and only one of me, they couldn't watch me all the time.

In winter, there was hot cereal; Oatmeal and Cream of Wheat.  I am faintly nostalgic about the fights that ensued when I just couldn't choke the stuff down.  Of course, one was not allowed to out-stubborn one's parents and the stuff tasted worse once it had cooled and congealed, but you can't blame me for trying.

Of all the disgusting mushy things I was forced to eat, the only one that still makes me want to hurl is rice pudding.  I can choke down tapioca, grits, and Cream of Wheat...and quite enjoy oatmeal, properly cooked, but rice pudding is beyond me.

Isn't it amazing, what a bowl of Puffed Wheat can do!

Thursday, May 21, 2015

A Perspective on Motorcycle Gangs, or the Night Ronni was Gang-raped

In the wake of the Waco Massacre (see what I did there?), I found myself researching a bit about motorcycle gangs and what they are like these days.  I mean, we all hear about the Hell's Angels raising money for this and that good cause and helping little old ladies across the street, but I wanted to know just how much of an anomaly this O K Corral stunt was.

I looked at this picture, and that grinning red devil's face rang a rather clangy bell.  I can't make out the name on the top rocker or the word (usually a place) on the bottom rocker, but that face reminded me of something.

A Google Image search brought up this:

Not quite the same, but the image and the name of the club raised hackles on the back of my neck.

Sometime in February of 1968, I was talked into going to a party with a casual acquaintance who hung out with the Satan's Choice in Toronto.  As far as I knew, this acquaintance was not a member of the gang and he didn't sport the "colours," as the above badge is called.   The party turned out to be at the group's clubhouse, a much-abused older home out in the burbs somewhere.  It was dark and I was riding in a car (nobody bikes in Toronto in winter), so I really had no idea where I was.

Anyway, I soon had reason to regret my recklessness.  I got slapped around and asked if I wanted to get "fucked or beat."  The evening went downhill from there.

About the only thing I managed to do was keep track of the numbers.  There were 18, all told, but I have never been sure if it was 18 different bikers, or only a dozen and half of them got a second turn.  The last one passed out after claiming me by throwing his leather jacket over me, and I slept.

The only one whose name I remember was Tiny, a large individual who wasn't there that night, but in whose bed I was dumped in the morning.  I think he was the one who gave me the STD.

They took me home, after courteously calling me a "good sport," and inviting me back anytime.  One of them asked me if I'd go on a run with him to Quebec when the weather got warmer.

I was terrified, because they knew where I lived.  A few days later, I saw the person who had taken me to the party.  He was wearing colours.  Putting two and two together was not difficult.

So, while researching the Waco Massacree, I found this little gem:

Fascinated, I watched the whole thing.  This was made a couple of years before my little run-in with them, but it's the same clubhouse.  Of course, I didn't recognize any of them, but when they showed Tiny and named him, I knew.  Oh, yes, I knew.

I had nightmares for years, and would cross a street to avoid anyone who looked like these guys.  

Then, about 20 years after that night, I was telling a friend about it.  The friend and I were both three sheets to the wind, or the subject would never have come up, and halfway into the story, I was giggling.  By the time I got to Tiny, I was rolling on the floor, overcome with hysterical laughter.  Don't ask me how.  Time and distance, I guess.  And the right listener.

Suffice it to say, the experience lost its power over me that day, and I have not dreamed about it since, even in the wake of Waco.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Cameron Brown: GUILTY of Murder in the First

This is the son-of-a-bitch who walked his daughter, Lauren Sarene Key,

this lovely little girl, along a cliff, and threw her off the top of this.

 This was the third trial for Cameron Brown.  All jurors in both the preceding trials found him guilty of murder, it was just a question of degree.  This time, without the firm of Geragos and Geragos and their associate Pat Harris defending him, Brown has got his just deserts.

They had a couple of witnesses this time who had not been there for the first two trials.  One was a work associate who would not allow the defense attorney to deflect him from his testimony, and his testimony was damning.  Cameron Brown had spoken to this man about getting rid of his child.

Trials and Tribulations writer, Sprocket, attended the trials, and has detailed notes about testimony.

Cameron Brown Trial has some biting coverage, and the author's poem about Lauren will make you cry.

I found myself needing to go hug some grandchildren.  I have one the same age as Lauren.  I can't shake the feeling that the child knew something was going to happen that day.  The teachers at her day care testified that she had been crying all day because she didn't want to go with him.  He took her up the path, at times pushing her along in front of him.  I can't shake the look of terror that must have been on her face as he picked her up and threw her off.  This case is the stuff of nightmares.

I do feel relieved that it is done and over.  He will not get to be a surf bum ever again.  Nothing can console Lauren's mother, but I bet she feels a soupçon of relief tonight.

Incarceration has not been kind to Cameron Brown.  He has been locked up for 12 years without bail.  His sentence will be handed down on June 19th, 2015.  Pretty sure California has mandatory LWOP for First Degree Murder with Special Circumstances.

I hope he develops a skin condition that makes him burn every single day of a long, sickening life.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Coffee and Hail

I am a woman of simple tastes.  For me, coffee comes in three grades:  Nectar, Drinkable and Suitable Only for the Dyeing of Costumes.

Right before the hailstorm that scarred Hans for life, we (Hans and I) were in Mineral Wells.  I had been hearing rumours that the Baker Hotel was being renovated and wanted to see.  I stopped in a shop across the street to look at the floor plans for the hotel, and bought some coffee and tea.  Jitter Beans Coffee Roasting Company is what it says on the bag.  I picked one at random and it is Nectar for sure.  One can indulge once in a while, right?

Drinkable covers what we usually buy, such as Folgers or other pre-ground canned coffee.

HEB house brand coffees come under the label of Suitable Only for the Dyeing of Costumes.  I do use a lot of it, as well as house brand tea.  Nothing gives cotton a beaten-on-the-rocks look better than coffee or tea...most brown or tan dyes have a pinkish or yellowish cast.

When I left, they were telling me to "Be safe going home."  I figured it was the usual general wish, because I had not been listening to the radio.  Joan Baez 5 was blasting on my Bose because I was out of range of KUT (Mineral Wells is closer to Abilene than to Austin).  I saw this:

but didn't think too much of it, as this is Texas, after all, and storms are a given.

I was driving south on 281 when it started to rain.  The wind picked up a bit, but Hans hugs the ground, so no biggie.  Then there was pea-sized hail, but that's no biggie either, right?  Even if it is a couple of inches deep on the road.  I started to see cars huddled under trees along the way, but by then there was quite a bit of cloud-to-ground lightning and trees didn't seem like such a good idea.  The hailstones started to get larger, and by the time they were about an inch in diameter, I was looking for a place to pull off.  Lacking that, barreling through seemed better than just squatting by the side of the road, in the open.  I didn't see shelter until we were getting hit with icy chunks the size of ping pong balls.  I pulled off, across a cattle guard, and partly under the partial shelter of an open-sided tractor shed.  Of course there were half a dozen vehicles there ahead of me, so I couldn't get all the way under.  By then, the ping pong balls had become golf balls, and my back window was gone, my mirrors were smashed, there was a huge crack in my windshield and dings all over poor Hans.  I am very happy to say that the ragtop held up very well, even though hailstones were coming in the broken back window and landing in the floorboards.

When it stopped, I drove and drove through sunlight and on a dry road.  I also tuned in a local radio station where I was told to take shelter immediately, as there was a tornado and baseball-sized hail happening in the little town I had just passed when the hail hit me.  Not to put too fine a point upon it, I was lucky.  Note to self:  I need a weather app with alerts tied into the GPS on my phone.

So, Hans is totalled.  I shall keep him, of course.  I can get the things fixed that I have to have...the mirrors, windshield, and top (it is pretty torn up around the place the window used to be), and leave the dings and dents as battle scars.  I really don't think they will give me enough for him to buy anything I like as well.  He is a 12-year-old car, and had been totalled before I bought him.

I can't shake the idea that I could have been quite badly hurt if not for Hans.