Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Hawaii Day 1 1/2

On my way to the Land of Aloha!

My Hawaiian vacation started with my boarding the plane at 8:50 Sunday morning.  It was a cool, cloudy day. I was fortunate enough to get a window seat!

At 9:40 the plane lifted off over the rain soaked landscape of Sacramento; good-bye rain and gloom!  It was a smooth flight!

I love flying over the ocean. It's hard to tell where the water ends and the sky begins; and of course the clouds are just beautiful!

After five hours there is finally land in sight! We have reached the Land of Aloha - and in the distance is the Island of Molokai.  Sweet! That means the Island of Oahu is not too far now!

Finally it is within view - the windward side of the island, Diamond Head and Waikiki. 

My seat mate, Sami, and I enjoyed the walk thru the terminal to get our luggage. (We decided to NOT take the wiki-shuttle to baggage claim.) She lives in Kailua Kona and was visiting her sister in Sacramento.  The airport is beautiful and open air with a beautiful Japanese Garden in the center.

Megan and I spied each other at the same time! Hugs, kisses and tears ensued.  "Look at you, sexy Nanny!" she said! :)  We gathered all the luggage and headed to the car, onto the freeway and pointed the car towards Hickam Beach for the birthday party.

Friends and family were waiting. Remiey, Rhiannon, Ryan, Johanna, G'ma Seaneen, Nanny, and of course Daddy Ryan and Mommy Megan were all there to celebrate Jalen's 1st birthday.  

Ryan barbecued hamburgers and hot dogs, and of course there were chips and pasta salad. After we had stuffed ourselves we opened birthday presents, and then it was time for the piece de resistance - THE BIRTHDAY CAKE!!!

Jalen was a little bit apprehensive at first, but then dug in with both hands, raking his fingers through it before stuffing it into his mouth. He had his own Mickey Mouse cake!  Yum-o!!!

It was a perfect day to celebrate a 1st Birthday!

The next day was Jalen's 1 year check-up with the doctor.  He is normal, healthy and happy.  Got his 1-year shots, a TB test, and a finger prick to check for anemia.  So far, so good! It was a busy day; Grandma Seaneen wanted to stay at the cabins at Pokai Bay, a military beach along the Waianaie Coast. It's a beautiful drive on the western side of the Island and quite lovely there.

Today we are going to the Dole Pineapple Plantation. It will be a good day.  Stay tuned!

Friday, March 25, 2011

Madame Pele’s Handiwork…

“She is Pele-honua-mea, Pele of the Sacred Land...

She is Pele-‘ai’houna, Pele the eater of land, when she devours the land with her flames...

She who rules the volcanoes of Hawai’i; and Mankind has no power to resist her...

When Pele is heard from, her word is the final word.”

My mother lived in Hawaii for about 5 years. I used to spend a month every winter with her, and I always had a great time.  On my visit in 1976 she was living in Hilo on the Big Island.  I love the Big Island.  It is so diverse! You can be swimming on the beaches in the morning and snow skiing in the afternoon. 

It was fun driving around the island, walking thru lava tubes, playing in the various waterfalls, visiting The Star of the Sea Painted Church in the town of Kalapana...

...and especially seeing the Black Sands Beach.  The town and beach is now under 60 feet of lava flows; but they moved the church to a safe location in 1990 after lava flows came close to destroying it.

It was on this very beach that I encountered Madame Pele. 

She is a jealous goddess and very protective of her handiwork.  I did not know this.  We were having a picnic and I was playing with Eric in the sand when I found a piece of lava rock. I said, "Oh, mom, this is so pretty! I'm going to take it home!" Mom laughed at me! But she let me take it with us anyhow.

The next day I was with my younger brother, John, in the lagoon outside the apartment.  There was a brackish water pond rimmed with lava that was just perfect to swim in! Standing on the edge, I jumped in.  Miscalculating how far out to jump, I ended up shredding my back and my bathing suit on the lava rock.  Ouch!!! Dragging myself out of the pond, I was walking along the edge trying to get back to the apartment.  I slipped and fell into the water, hitting my cheekbone on a rock just under the surface of the water. Now, not only was my back shredded and bleeding, I also was getting a black eye! I had only been there a week and I looked like a wreck!  When I finally got back to the apartment Mom asked if I wanted to return my lava rock. No! why would I?

The following week we decided to go to the Kona Coast and stay the weekend at the new King Kamehameha Hotel.  Packed up the car and headed over the Saddleback Highway to our destination. It was so much fun to visit Parker Ranch where they raise some of the best beef you have ever eaten, see where they grow Kona Coffee, and all the beautiful bougainvilla in bloom! What a great weekend!  We headed home in the middle of the afternoon, going the long way around the island.  It was a two lane highway and there was no one on it!  Suddenly the car was making funny noises and heating up; and then it happened - the car engine "come all crack up!"  We were stuck on the side of the road with no help in sight and no way to contact anyone.  Fortunately a volunteer fireman on his way home passed us. We must have looked really pathetic standing by this little Mazda with the smoking engine.  He took pity on us and gave us a ride back into Hilo

The next day I said, "Mom, can we go back to Kalapana so I can return Madame Pele's handiwork?"  And off we went for one last picnic at the Black Sands Beach. I apologized to Madame Pele as I returned her rock.

What did I learn from all of this?  Madame Pele does not like her handiwork messed with. If you want to appease her you should buy a bottle of gin, go to the edge of Kileauea and toss it in.  If, for some reason, you cannot get to the crater you can simply leave an open can of beer on a lava rock along the highway.  Hopefully the Menehune will not drink it before Madame Pele gets to enjoy it. 

So when you get to Hawaii please enjoy the scenery. But leave it where you find it. You do not want to incur Madame Pele's wrath. Trust me.

"E ola mau, e Pele e! 'Eli'eli kau mai!” Long life to you, Pele!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Life as a Carny

Whenever someone hears I have worked on the carnival, their initial reaction is, “Wow! That must be pretty exciting! You must make a ton of money!”

Well, it is exciting; and no, you do not make a ton of money. Sometimes you don’t even make a comfortable living! It is the nature of the carnival.

I remember as a little girl going to the Trinity County Fair in Hayfork, California. I played the balloon game and won a small ceramic elephant. I loved it! I kept it on my dresser for years!  And whenever the carnival was at the local shopping center my grandmother would take me.  We always rode the rollercoaster.  We had no fear! Oh, how I love a good rollercoaster! 

I was introduced to my first real carny when I was 18 years old.  I was talking to a friend from church on the phone when she said, “Hey, I have this really nice boy I want you to meet! I know, I’ll call him, he can call you, and you two can go out!”  I said, “But… but… but…”  Too late! She had already hung up.  Fifteen minutes later I got a phone call.  “Hello, is Linda there?”  “May I ask who is calling?”  “This is Paul Larson.”  Conversation ensued and we made a date for the next night. 

We didn’t like each other very much.  But we continued to date the rest of the winter. He hit the road in April and we only talked occasionally on the phone.  Next winter we started dating again. At one point we got mad at each other. Didn’t think I’d ever hear from him again, which was OK with me. But he finally called and we went out “one more time.” Wait, something had changed.  I kind of liked him!  In fact, I was falling in love with him. The night before he was going to hit the road we were sitting in the car talking. He said, “Are you really crazy enough to be my wife?”  I said, “Yes.”  And thus, at the age of 19 I got married and began my life as a carny.

Our first spot as a married couple was the fair in Chowchilla. I learned how to set up and slaugh (tear down) a joint (the game). I learned how to hustle the marks (ask them to play the game again). I learned how important it is to know where the donikers (bathrooms) are.  I learned that sometimes the jenny (merry-go-round) plays larry-kadodie (stupid) music.  And most importantly, I learned to spee-iz-eak kee-iz-arny (speak carny).  Yes, carnies have their own language.

Paul and I owned carnival games.  We had a punk rack, one-ball, cork guns, watch-a-la, goldfish, bear spindle, and derby. There were also various and sundry other games that we would occasionally use in a pinch.  We called our business "Acorn Concessions." Paul always drove Dooley (the Chevy 1-ton dually pickup) and towed the derby. I would drive Cindy (a chassis-mount camper on a Chevy 1-ton long wheel base) and towed the watch-a-la trailer, which contained all the other games.  No, I never drove diesel; it was something I never aspired to; however my friend, Judy did as she and Ken had rides to get down the road!

Carnies are a world all unto themselves. They do not let in 0utsiders easily and are a very close-knit community. You have to prove yourself.  If you are new to the carnival you are a “40-miler,” meaning you will never travel more than 40 miles from your home.  But sometimes 40-milers surprise you.

One summer we had a bunch of college kids show up that wanted to work to make extra money for college. And what an amazing bunch they were! Doug, Linda, Jack, Cathy, Barry, Zeke and Barbara all worked for us for many years. Well, until they were done with school and moved on with their lives.  Doug and Linda are now married, as are Cathy and Jack.  Zeke is a lifelong bachelor. We still keep in touch on occasion. Barbara got married and moved to Australia.  Barry, well, we’ve just lost touch. 

We all had close friendships and raised our babies together. Ken & Judy had Gordon and Kelly; Sam & Gail had Spring and Ashley; Bill & Kathy had Richie and Shanna; Mike & Linda had Lenny and Leslie; John & Debbie had John Jr. and Jerry; Paul & I had Eric, Jon and Megan. All, except for Megan, pretty much grew up on the carnival together.

When Eric started school I would not go on the road until summer (we were living in The Valley at the time), but occasionally I would make weekend trips to whatever spot he was playing that week and work one of the games.  After we moved to Sacramento I would work with him most weekends when he was close by. Sometimes I would just go and spend the weekend just because. However, there was always that six-week stretch during the middle of summer when I would not see Paul at all.  Lots of phone calls and tears kept us in touch.

As the years rolled by the season became longer and longer; I eventually got a position working for the San Juan Unified School District and no longer went on the road. But we always had the 3 months during the winter where we made the most of our time together.  Our holidays were always the best.

On June 8, 2007 Acorn Concessions ended. That was also the day Paul died.  He loved the carnival.  He was at his favorite spot (Menlo Park) doing what he loved most (getting ready to open and start hustling the marks).  We should all be so lucky to be surrounded by those who love us and doing what we love most when we leave this world.  It was the end as I had always predicted. 

I continue to keep close contact with all of the carnies who have been friends over the years. It is good to sit around and cut up jackpots (tell stories). It helps us remember.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Grandmothers & Grandbabies...

We all have heroes in our lives.  Mine was my grandmother, whom I affectionately called Mimi. She was my protector and defender, my rock, and she taught me what unconditional love is.  She was always there for me when I needed someone.

I am now a grandmother, and I strive to be the same kind of grandmother to my grandchildren as she was to me.  I adore my grandbabies and I hope they know how much I love them... from the bottom of my heart I love them.  Let me introduce you to them!

This is Elliott Charles Jenkins. He joined our family when he was 12.  My first grandson! :)  Everyone welcomed him with open arms and we love him!  It was such a delight at Christmas to watch him interact with the rest of the Larson clan.  Our Christmases were different than what he had ever experienced.  All 20 of us waiting to open presents together; an overabundance of food was always available; and cousins to play with and hang out with!  He is now 21 and getting ready to be on his own.  Where has the time gone?

This is Erin Michelle Larson, my only granddaughter.  She is the light of my life.  I love having her help me in the kitchen. She loves Nanny's quilts.  Her favorite is my pumpkin quilt. I keep it on my bed so when she is over here visiting she can lay on it to watch TV.  We love to do jigsaw puzzles together. She has determined that we are "girl geniuses" when we complete one!  I vividly remember the night she was born.  Her daddy, Jon, called to say that mommy Cheryl was in labor and they needed to leave for the hospital.  I'll be there to babysit Elliott in 30 minutes! I was just turning down their street as they were leaving their street. Apparently they couldn't wait any longer for me.  The plan was that after they got settled in the hospital room we would all go to the hospital for "the wait."  I had even made Elliott a goodie bag so he would have something to do to keep himself entertained while waiting!  Less than an hour after getting there Jon called.  Hi, son! How is everything going?  She is here and (as yet to be named) baby and mommy are doing fine!  Apparently Erin decided to not wait and made her entrance into this world less than 15 minutes after they got to the hospital. She was so beautiful with those blue eyes and red hair.  How blessed I am!!! Eight years later she is still one busy go-getter who loves t-ball, bowling, swimming and raising chickens in 4-H.  Always on the go!

Four years later along comes Evan Thomas Larson.  This time I didn't need to babysit; I just waited for the phone call that he had arrived.  I remember looking at him thru the nursery window thinking how beautiful he was, but who did he look like?  I just didn't know - he had a look all his own.  Like his sister, he is also a red-head, and every inch a boy!  As he has gotten older he has become the carbon copy of his daddy.  Being the boy that he is, he loves making farting sounds, playing with trucks (especially Stinky the Garbage Truck), and pretending to be a monster, complete with sound effects.  He also has an affinity for finding money.  My favorite quote when he found a penny was, "I found money! It's my lucky day!"  I always have a handful of change in my purse when I go to visit. I have to divide it evenly between the two of them and the money goes into their piggy banks.  Well, it's supposed to!  Evan loves to swim and has no fear of the water. He is starting t-ball this year. I'm looking forward to watching him.

Finally we have Jalen Chris Durling.  He will be one year old on March 27th.  Mommy Megan spent a lot of time with me when she was pregnant because Daddy Ryan is an officer in the Army and was stationed in Hawaii, so they could not be together.  The morning Megan went into labor I got the phone call and headed out for the hospital.  I was so blessed to spend the whole time there and witness his birth.  One look at him and I could see that he was the carbon copy of his daddy.  His homage to the Larson clan is his round face, which is just like Grandfather Larson.  He has one tooth, is a quick crawler, and loves food!  (He is a chow hound.)  Like his daddy, he loves the water.  Like his mommy, he is slow to walk and cut teeth.  I am so lucky to be able to join him in Hawaii as we celebrate his first birthday.

So these are my grandkids, whom I love so much it hurts.  Unconditional love is an amazing thing.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

The Irony of Boundaries

Yesterday someone thought I crossed their boundary by sharing something personal. At the time I did not know it was not to be shared. Emails, apologies and forgiveness ensued. But it felt so impersonal.

So I crossed their boundary again by showing up at their front door unannounced. I knew that if I called and said, "Can I stop by so we can talk?" they would have said "no."

Ironic, isn't it? I crossed a boundary to apologize for crossing a boundary.

However, some things just need to be said face to face. That person needs to see in my face that I truly regret the pain I have caused them; hear the tone of my voice when I make the apology; and see the love in my eyes that I have for them because I value them in my life.

We all put up boundaries for many reasons. They should not be permanent but moveable.  Life changes; boundaries change; and sometimes perhaps we need a nudge from our friends to get that boundary to move, even if it is just the slightest movement.

Feel free to nudge my boundaries if you feel it's necessary.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

What's new in Lin's life?

As stated in my blog, "I Wanna Talk About Me," I gave you a rundown on what was happening with me.  Here is an update!!!

1. I said I wanted to lose 30 pounds before I go to Hawaii.  I have lost 46 pounds! I am looking ever so adorable!!

2. I saw the doctor on March 1st. Everything came back AOK, except I have a bacterial infection from my ulcer. I am now on antibiotics and all is well!

3. Taxes are done and I am getting almost $1,600 back. Life is good!

4. I have all of the things I need to go to the Social Security Office and get my paperwork started. I just need to make the appointment.

5. No progress on the passport. It is still on my horizon. But it will be started in May. Guaranteed!

6. I'm still walking the lake. Maddie still tries to wallow in the duck poop. She will not learn that when she does it she gets a bath, which she hates.  Payback can be rewarding. :) 

7. I did sign up on www.match.com.  Met Gordon. One date, a gazillion emails. Then he stopped emailing. Whatever.  Met Ric. Dinner, lunch, a Miata Car Club day on the road with the ragtop down.  Hasn't called all week, so IDK!  Met Rick. Saw True Grit; celebrated his birthday; dinner at Outback; having a great time.  He fertilizes my crops.  :-D  On Farmville! What did you think I was talking about???

8. I have let go of a lot of the past mistakes.  I am moving on with my life and I love it.  It is good to love ourselves!

So there you have my newest update.  I am happy and healthy and looking forward to my time in Hawaii where I will be spending my youngest grandson's first birthday.  And cook for his mommy and daddy.  March 27th is a perfect date!  Now that really makes my day!!!