Friday, July 3, 2015

Sit DOWN: The Early Bird Gets The Worm

For the past several days, I have been observing the little slice of nature that sits outside my kitchen door. My favorite swinging bench is tucked into a corner near the vegetable garden, and if I sit in just the right spot the sun hits my back as it begins to peek over the trees to my east at sunrise. This week I have been watching an overly attentive Robin dad doing his dad thing. I do not know whether Junior left the nest early and caused the concern, or whether this is just a natural part of the maturation process for the suburban American Robin, but it has been a delight to witness his parenting prowess.

Junior is not all that adept at the whole flying thing just yet. The highest I have seen him go is the top of the chicken coop. The first day I noticed Dad, he sat high in the trees and gave a few tut, tut, tuts until Junior let out a little chirp in response. Dad dutifully dove to the ground on the other side of my fence and came back with a nice worm. By the second day, Junior was less obedient and less prompt with his response. He hopped around on the ground near me for a while (Dad's tuts becoming increasingly loud) until he made his way to the raspberry patch. At this point, I can tell that Dad is still leery of my presence and proximity to Junior, so he stays high in the branches. Like an impish toddler, hiding under the bathroom sink, ignoring his father's entreat, "Come out, come out, wherever you are." Junior kept silent. Dad's incessant tut, tut, tut, became a more shrill and obviously annoyed yeep, yeep, yeep. I believe this translates to the ubiquitous but somewhat ironic paternal admonition, "Get out here now, or I will give you a reason to hide!"

Eventually, Junior conceded and let out one small chirp. Probably more relieved than angry, Dad again, left the safety of the tree, ducked behind the fence and came back with a nice earthworm, tugged from the ground at risk of his own life and limb.

Today, Dad is again in the trees, but obviously more comfortable with my presence as he is now pulling the worms from my garden, nearly at my feet and venturing to the lower branches. He spent most of the morning fending off a giant squirrel. And I do mean giant...that thing is as big as a cat! So far so good. I have held still in my spot every morning for several days. I guess I am blending in now, becoming part of the scene. I like that.

Quote of the Day: "Be still and know that I am God." Psalms 46:10

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

GrowingUP: A Rose is a Rose

What's in a name?

A question I have often pondered actually. I have a bit of a fascination with names. Where they come from. Why they rise and fall in popularity. How people choose names for their children. Why they choose names for their children when they know full well they will call them something else. I am not talking about nicknames. I mean naming a kid John Jacob knowing full well you will call him Jacob. Stuff like that.

I grew up with a nickname that has stuck with me for 45 years now. I don't mind. I have grown accustomed to it. It is Leli. As in jelly.  My given name is Leslie. I could not pronunce the 'S' when I was little and Leli stuck. Yes, I know it looks like Lee-Lie. I felt like using the spelling Lelly was not true to my name unless it had been spelled Leslly. I also felt like Lelie just looked like I forgot the 'S'. Also, I recently saw a store clerk whose name was Anjelyka. Go ahead, sound it out. I'll wait. Leli is looking pretty good huh?

Leslie was a long time family name, mostly male ancestors of course, but it is also my mother's middle name, so it was carefully chosen for me. My middle name? Not so much. My folks passed a liquor store on the way to the hospital. Cameron Liquor apparently. I am glad they went with just Cameron.

I searched a baby name book once when I was a kid to find the meaning of my given monikers. Leslie means "Dweller of the grey fortress." Adorable, right? Cameron references "a man with a crooked nose." Equally as lovely. I shall not mention Little Sister's given names but they mean "Epitome of femininity" and "Womanly." Have I mentioned I am saving for therapy?

A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.

This implies that the name of something does not really affect who or what they are. I don't know. Can our names affect our personalities? Maybe. What do you think? I really want to know. For real.

Quote of the Day: “I read in a book once that a rose by any other name would smell as sweet, but I've never been able to believe it. I don't believe a rose WOULD be as nice if it was called a thistle or a skunk cabbage.” --Anne Shirley 

Thursday, May 28, 2015


"So, what do you do?" (Do? Golly. I DO a lot of things!)

"I am a mom and a yoga instructor and a writer."

"A writer? Really? What have you written?"

See, now that is the dreaded question. It says to the writer, "Unless I have heard of your writing, you are not a writer." Well screw you. I am a writer if I want to be one. I write stuff, therefore, I am a writer. No one questions your validity as a talker if you say, "I am a talker." Clearly you are made a talker simply by the act of talking. Why do we feel that we have to have validation of our work to be a writer? Because it is a profession. But that is different. "I am a professional writer" implies something different. That feels like, "I am a doctor." or "I am a lawyer." It feels like we have to have training or some sort of proof of our claim. But that is ridiculous. No one will be hurt by the amateur practice of authoring. It differs from medicine in that respect.

So,  make the declaration. I am a writer. Just BE one and then go on being one even if you have not put pen to paper in days or weeks. Have the mind and heart of a writer. Have the senses of a writer. Observe, daydream, live, try new things, eat new foods, go new places. These are writer things. Read. Read. Read. This is a writer thing. When a doctor is out of the operating room or a minister away from the pulpit he does not cease to be what he is. You are a writer without pen in hand. Writing is sometimes something you do, but it is always something you are. Be it. Be it unashamedly. Declare it today. I am a writer, and let yourself totally be a writer from now on.

Quote of the Day: "I am a writer."

Friday, May 22, 2015

Growing UP: Hell's Angels and Slurpees. (yes, you read that right)

I have mentioned several times, that the intention of this blog is to get down a few old family stories before everyone has on to greener pastures, or no longer able to remember the stories with any amount of accuracy. Now, keep in mind that my family has natural tendencies toward hyperbole as it is, old age and memory loss can only intensify this proclivity. I assure you, however, that the story I am about to relate is told with complete veracity. I am of course, the only one in my entire family without that tendency toward hyperbole.

Northern California in the 1970's was a magical place for me and my siblings and cousins. We spent many years living all together in our little neighborhood. Our family business was construction, and so there were always any number of homes under construction in the hood. We spent a lot of time on the home sites. We would roller-skate on the newly poured slabs the minute they were dry. Oh how smooth they were compared to the sidewalks! We collected the discarded nails that were still straight into little piles, cleared wood and trash from the job sites and helped keep the crew well hydrated. This is where this story begins...

The crew. 

Now of course, guys came and went, but there were some who were always on the job. Buffalo, Bitter, Coyote and Carl to name a few. All their real names, except Carl. All hard workers and fond of the seven of us Cowperthwaite kids. (That is the family name, yes. No, I am not kidding. Really. Thirteen. Sound it out.) We called ourselves the 7C's. During the summers, we were not really allowed to be indoors, so we spent a great deal of our time hounding entertaining the crew. They were good-natured and appeased us with conversation when they had time. I should mention here, that all of these good-natured framers, roofers and concrete guys were full-fledged members of the Hell's Angels. A little rough around the edges is putting it as nicely as I can. No one would want to meet any of them in the proverbial dark alley. But they were good to us. When the Friday afternoon whistle finally blew, all of us kids would climb, barefooted and fairly filthy from the day of playing in the dirt,  into the back of one of the pickup trucks and Carl and the gang would drive us to 7-Eleven for refreshments. Slurpees for the kids...alternative hydration for the adults. The sight of five, six or seven windblown, sunburnt, blue-lipped kids with smiles as wide as their faces was likely something to behold. The joy we felt from freedom mixed with blue icy refreshment was matched only by the horror felt by our school chums' moms who had happened to witness the outing. Their horror did not go unexpressed. At least one of our moms would be on the phone with an outraged concerned neighbor every time we arrived back home, Slurpees in hand, lips still blue and smiles still wide.

Quote of the Day: "Stupid is as stupid does." --Mrs. Gump