Monday, January 26, 2015


Whales breaching, dolphins leaping had passengers with whom we shared passage on a Dana Point, California Catamaran oohing and awing with excitement recently.  The weather was ideal -- just enough sun to warm the not-to-cold sea air that made wearing a light jacket sufficiently comfortable.

Seagulls and pelicans had flown gracefully around the wharf, sometimes swooping down to skim the water's surface as our boat departed the shore at noon.   Though weather reports had cautioned those along beaches this was a high tide day with rip tides swimmers would need to avoid, the minimal increase in wave height our boat encountered was of no concern.  Ultimately, we went about six miles out to sea on occasional roller coaster Pacific Ocean waves before our return trip to shore.  No one became even queasy with the motion. 

My lively red-haired soon-to-be four year old grandson was wrapped between his father's legs behind a safety screen in the boat's bow with an unimpeded view of what was for a time only the vast ocean ahead.   Suddenly, we were all ecstatic with the sighting of the first grey whale's blowing, followed by a revealing glimpse of the mammal's barnacled back.   Beginning with that event we periodically encountered more whales gliding through the water, blowing, tail flipping -- others leaping upward from the ocean to then dive downward back into the dark waters.   

At one point, from the boat's interior one of the mates retrieved a pole on the end of which a small GoPro camera was attached.   He rushed to next to where I was sitting, then lowered the pole's camera end into the water boat side to capture a view of what surface-water appearance suggested was a whale swimming underneath closely by the boat, but in the opposite direction passing by us.   Later the mate launched a drone from the top of the ship to hover over ocean areas where whales were thought to be underwater, but no noticeable creature reaction was elicited.

Unexpectedly, a dolphin fin was spotted ahead at one o'clock slicing through the ocean -- then another was seen elsewhere in an arching leap above the surface in a dive back into the water.   A shout alerted all to yet another dolphin at ten o'clock, then one seen at 2 o'clock as we aided others sighting by using the clock technique for position identification.

Amazingly, we soon began to see dolphins in all directions around us -- scattered all over the ocean -- swimming, jumping, singly and in seemingly coordinated pairs -- groups of three and four flying briefly through the air like synchronized swimmers.   These ocean entertainers provided what seemed like a grand finale to our two hour voyage before we finally turned back toward shore leaving them all behind.       

Dinosaur figures have been replaced in the bathtub by small replicates of whales and dolphins by my grandson -- joining the more sublime, such as sharks, starfish, seahorses, jellyfish -- his father tells me now that they've returned home.      

Tuesday, January 13, 2015


Ohio State University Buckeyes became the NCAA's 1st National Football Champions defeating University of Oregon's Ducks 42 - 20! 
  (If you want details about the game please refer to knowledgeable sports writers or bloggers which I am not..)

My first outing to a restaurant/sports bar proved to be far more pleasant than my stereotyped idea had been.  (Read my previous post as to what prompted me to even go there in the first place.)  The local restaurant, Espiau's,  I went to is popular here and I've been there in years past during the day but not for several years.  They've expanded with several different rooms, including a huge area that can be enclosed and heated if "cold" -- a relative term here in Southern California where "cold" today meant temperatures declining from high daytime 60's to low 50's after the sun went down.   

Monday night the restaurant TVs were all tuned to the 2014-15 NCAA National Football Championship game.  Judging by the periodic shouts for one or the other of the sports teams being viewed on large wall TV screens with audio and video in  a couple rooms -- the enclosed area described above and another adjacent bar room with table seating -- these were where the major sports fans gathered.  I was pleased there was no evidence of over-imbibers as the night went on.

Where I was, customers of all ages came to eat giving varying degrees of attention to the games activity.  A large room adjacent to where I sat in a smaller area in a plush cushioned booth, the opposite wall had two equally large TV screens but were video only with the sound turned off.   One TV had captioned commentators but I watched the other one without them.  I like not having to listen to all the "talking heads" described as "analysts."  My husband's analysis was adequate for me those years ago.   I pretty much had stopped paying much attention to TV sports long ago when these individuals replaced college marching bands camera time, especially the half-time shows.

The restaurant waitresses were super nice to this "older" lady -- gave me the wi-fi password so my son in the midwest, daughter on the east coast and I in the west could text together throughout the game.  Their OSU alumni Dad's Buckeye enthusiasm through the years he was living created in each of us a sense of team loyalty that continues to connect us to his spirit even today.    We realized our being together like this was reminiscent of their youth when we were all at home which prompted one to text with 15 game minutes left: 

"It's going to be a loong '15 mins', And we all know, 15 mins equates to 30 mins in sports time.  We had many years to learn the conversion chart while we waited for Dad's games to be over so we could watch our show. Lol"

We deliberately had only one TV and wanted none in bedrooms either, a parenting view which was especially important to me though we both had worked in television.   Still true.  But...with technology today -- computers, smart phones and what's yet to come, parents are challenged to help their children learn to establish healthy use patterns with all these digital gadgets.   I think of how addicted I unwittingly became when I first started using the computer less than ten years ago, then soon after became obsessed with blogging.   My husband had just died and I got lost in the blogosphere for better or worse.  Oh about the game ..... Columbus, Ohio is in rapture tonight!

Hooray for the Buckeyes!  

My husband's spirit must be ecstatic as are Ohio friends still around in the flesh -- especially that OSU head cheerleader from long ago -- John Crawford.
John has had perfect attendance at Ohio State home football games since 1943 the last I knew.   He attended his first game when 12 years old reports Joe Blundo which you can read about with a click on the Columbus Dispatch.    

Tales in the short article of unique ways John attended the games and same-day out-of-state personal events are intriguing.   His accommodations to the aging life encourage us to what is possible as is his attitude and perspective toward living.   Did I mention what a funny guy he can be?  He has a great sense of humor! 

Wednesday, January 07, 2015


Some years ago I gradually became overdosed on TV sports as games took precedence over so much more -- permeating television viewing like a virus.  While the effects on me were drug-like culminating in aversion, for others a strange viral condition developed.    I learned viral treatment could be administered by the TV remote control operator, but only if sports hypnosis had not yet set-in.   For some, like my husband, the hypnosis occurred simultaneously with the TV on-button activation.  The virus strength could be restricted by TV set power outage, accidental or otherwise, but that rarely occurred.    Recently I've noticed the virus' decade-long aversion effects have gradually neutralized for me to the degree  I have actually acquired some interest in viewing selected televised sporting events again.  

College football has caught my attention for this first national championship under the NCAA's new efforts to determine the nation's best team.    Exactly how to make this determination has long been a subject of controversy with previous systems judged by many sports aficionados to be inadequate as my husband agreed.   The teams playing in this finals playoff would have been of special interest to him.

My interest stems from a history of my husband having indoctrinated me, as did his friends and other Ohio State University alumni I came to know.  They included a former head cheerleader, a marching band tuba player selected for the honor of dotting the "i" in their famed game half-time Script Ohio performance, and a prominent music graduate in his own right who also was in my husbands jazz groups.   Colorful memories from so many years ago include after purchasing our first home, my husband and I delighting in attending some Ohio State's legendary horse shoe stadium home football games, especially during the warmth of fall's Indian Summer. 

These are exciting times for college football fans especially in Columbus with Ohio State University Buckeyes competing with the University of Oregon Ducks for the national NCAA football championship January 12th in Arlington, Texas.

I've caught the game fever partially because OSU has seemed an unlikely contender.    Player injuries throughout the season have resulted in OSU having to field their 3rd string quarterback the past several winning games.  OSU's most recent Sugar Bowl upset win over the University of Alabama's strongly favored Crimson Tide catapulted the Buckeyes into the final playoffs. 

The Oregon Ducks have been winning their share of upsets including the most recent over Florida State University Seminoles in Pasadena's New Years Rose Bowl game.   The Ducks are favored to win the championship over the Buckeyes.  I think this game has the earmarks of being an exciting one!

I've long since lived on the West Coast where legendary Big Ten Conference versus the Western Conference games frequently pitted OSU against Southern California's UCLA/USC who have often been the major teams in NCAA's playoff system of the time at the Rose Bowl.   Whatever Big Ten team was in these competitions was the team my husband automatically rooted for including regular season arch enemies from Michigan Universities, Univ. of Wisconsin and others.  But this match is considered to be the first ever college playoff.   Western Conference teams have increasingly become powerhouse players, so Oregon's achieving this first ever NCAA championship competitive status makes the Ducks very popular here in Southern California where I have now lived over forty years. 

When I think of football I cannot discount the concern I've had long before the matter became a prominent issue over injuries players acquire, especially concussion consequences.   Providing Speech-Language-Cognitive-Swallowing Therapy Services to brain-injured individuals as I have for some through the years, I am acutely aware of the life challenges that such individuals and their family members can encounter.

I used to discuss with my husband concern for all age players potential for brain damage.   Many years later as his health declined, he evidenced some behavior changes giving me reason to wonder if a high school football concussion might have been a contributing causal factor for some of his issues.  I hope the sport at all levels of play will take whatever means necessary to insure the physical and mental well-being of all players.  I would ideally hope injuries would be non-existent for the sport. 

I'm looking forward to viewing the Buckeyes vs the Ducks.  Too bad it's only available on ESPN since I choose antenna TV over cable, so the game on TV will be unavailable to me.  Perhaps this will be the time to visit some game-viewing friends since excessively noisy loud boisterous sports bars with their share of over-imbibers don't appeal to me.  On the other hand DISH's newly announced Sling TV is offering a program package of Internet streaming video including ESPN, so maybe I can subscribe inexpensively, no contract, and see the game after all. 

Yes, I have an emotional link to this Ohio State University I cannot deny, if for no other reason than Ohio memories.  Years ago I had accepted a highly long-desired WOSU PBS-TV position but had to resign before even starting when we relocated.   Ever present in my mind are reminders from when I lived in the State including family gatherings, recollections of other Ohioans who touched my life and recalling OSU football game related experiences.  But most of all, providing my support for this Buckeye team to win simply is a way to pay tribute to my husband since I can imagine his spirit will hover over the event.

Many years ago  I recall his wistfully telling me of his high school senior year when authoritative state sportswriters had predicted he would be offered an OSU football scholarship.   But life happened -- including WWII -- causing Ohio State's football season to be cancelled that year -- that and other circumstances significantly altered his life.

"Life is what happens to you when you're busy making other plans."

(Click on quote above for source as multiple individuals have previously been erroneously credited including John Lennon.)

Thursday, January 01, 2015


This holiday season has me wishing each of you joyous, healthy, happy, and prosperous days in 2015!    

I  do relish each day's moments, but they seem to slip by ever so quickly -- often unexpectedly interrupted with instances of reflection or anticipatory thoughts for the unknown future as I continue "living in place."   

Reflection seems to become more pronounced for me this time of year --  stimulated by seasonal music -- often prompted,  too, by the holiday greetings received from friends, family, loved ones.  They give me pause to note the hand writing of the sender -- if differences observed in letter-making firmness, grammar, language used in thought expression -- to wonder if some writers may be experiencing other functional changes.   A very few greeting cards may have only an imprinted or signed name.   Hand-written personal notes, typed letters recounting personal family activity highlights and enclosed photos are especially welcomed by me.   Voice quality reveals much of emotions beyond words if we're able to talk. 

 I also become acutely aware of those from whom I no longer have contact by greeting card, phone, other social means causing me to wonder about their welfare.  My reality for too many years, especially as I've aged, is that this does not always bode well.   I know loss is to be expected, but the reality is no less difficult to accept as I celebrate a loved ones life. 

A profound loss for me early in this past year was that of my brother, a most significant person in my life about whom I have written here previously.   My big brother's personal caring for me provided unparalleled emotional sustenance and support throughout much of my life though we had erratic lengthy periods of time apart, separated by many miles, even oceans.  

This WWII veteran proudly served abroad in the U.S. Navy Submarine Service.  His subsequent civilian professional life centered on facilitating radio communication through association with many of the primary electronic companies focused on radio/television aspects in this major evolving technology of the time.    The result was his involvement with Project Vanguard, a beginning to our nation's space program and a forerunner to NASA's formation.    

("Project Vanguard -- The NASA History" by Constance McLaughlin Green, and Milton Lomask includes a must read introduction by Paul Dickson, "Sputnik" author.   He succinctly describes the Project's scientific successes leading to significant technologies today which others have omitted reporting.   Instead writers briefly allude only to a launch failure, but omit reference to the harried times with Vanguard's unique pressure-to-launch circumstances when Russia unexpectedly revealed their space program by successfully launching "Sputnik.")   

So many reflections I have since his death and especially this season.....

Vanguard's Ecuador satellite tracking station on Cotopaxi, a potentially active volcano over 19,000 ft with one of the few equatorial glaciers in the world, became his work site for a couple of years.    Saving for a flight to visit him and family in the countries capitol city of Quito became high on my priority list.  The flight there on the countries airline -- even though they weren't known for punctual schedules, give a day or two, and unscheduled stops along the way -- such as Panama going, Peru and Jamaica on return after a one day departure delay -- still allowed me to enjoy the flight adventure, culture and people for a memorable trip.   One unusual activity occurred at a site where I could stand on both sides of the equator by placing one foot on each side simultaneously.   Strangely, a tiny, wizened, weather-worn old woman appeared there before we left and put a curse on us.  

Another uncommon recollection after he returned to the U.S. was my seeing a TV airline commercial many years ago, "Give your wife Hawaii for Christmas!"   He was employed by a different company, living on the east coast by then, but, coincidentally,  he did just that -- summer of the new year the family moved to Oahu.   Unfortunately, not long after the family with teen children moved to that idyllic island his wife received a medical diagnosis of ovarian cancer which ultimately took her life.    

Changes for him continued as he remarried, left the electronics industry where he had additionally become engaged in recruiting, and briefly pursued a state political office.   His progression into industrial relations resulted in another  geographic move to participate in implementing Indonesia's then-ruler's plan for a staple food program to expand his nation's rice production.  Finally returning to another of Hawaii's spectacular volcanic islands his focus then addressed the companies sugar and macadamia nut production.  Subsequent retirement years offered he and his artist wife an opportunity to devote their energies toward a more settled home location.

Maintaining close connections through the years with those I care about can be challenging when many miles and even oceans separate us.   I've come to realize I much prefer the privacy accorded by postal letters or land-line phone calls for meaningful personal communication.  Current digital devices I now relegate to carrying mostly only general or superficial commentary. 

I'll be anticipating receiving those holiday cards, letters, phone calls, photos and the reflections they stimulate next holiday season -- and even some throughout the year along the way.