No Where to Run

Posted on December 4, 2006

By Trudy A. Martinez

Reassuringly, little voices whisper dramatically, “It’s okay, Kit, we’re not going to hurt you.”

Kit, my flame point white Siamese cat, is asleep when the two young children surround her with the intent of making friends.  Normally, she runs at the sight of them.  Now she is unknowingly in a corner surrounded by them with nowhere to run.

When the words, “It’s Okay — we’re not going to hurt you.” are repeated in unison, Kit’s eyes open.  Obviously, she is not sure what to make of them:  Her ears move from their normal stance, when their hands reach out for her, to a stress slick back position.

They pet her, gently.  Kit’s ears remain down.  “It’s okay,” they reassure her.  Their words did nothing to change her countenance.  She is stiff and looking for a way to run.

Perhaps she recalls the day before, being in the corner and her tail pulled.  The perpetrator of that incident is now gently running her hand from the top of Kit’s head slowly over her thick winter fur to the tip of her tail without tugging.  The question now is:  Is Kit going to relax and take advantage of this freely given affection?

The children continue to assure her they mean well with each movement of their hands over her body.  It is a slow process, a persuasive process, a winning process.  Kit’s ears relax, finally relinquishing their stress.

Smiling the children exclaim, “She likes me!  She’s purring,” They add, “She likes me.” With excitement, “She’s purr-r-ring.”

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Armed with Feathers

Posted on June 19, 2006

By Trudy A. Martinez

I came up pillow in hand.  Resounding agitations arouse not only me but also my anger.  With a fury, I hurl the pillow in the direction of the origination of the noise.  Kit knows not to scratch the chair; that cat knows better. The racket her nails make, protruding inward, pulling outward, creates a reverberating, irritating, and displeasing noise. The noise awakes not only me but also a demon who seeks her out.

“It’s only 4:00 A.M…” I scream.  “Leave me alone. I want to sleep.”  And then I exclaim with dramatic emphasis, shaking a finger at her while I speak.  “Don’t you dare touch that chair again with your nails?”

Her body stretches out and moves upward while her nails position themselves in the chair ready to scratch.   When the sound of my angry voice reaches her ears, she stops. She glares at me. She tests my patience.

I stare back.  She releases her nails from the upholstery. She then slowly moves away in defeat.  “Now get out of here!” I exclaim as I hurl another pillow as she exits.

“She’ll be back.” I think. “Maybe, just maybe I can grab a few winks before then.”

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“I Guarantee My Work”

The following is an edited  re-posting of a true story I Posted on April 10, 2008 I am left with guaranteed memories because of it.

 By Trudy A. Martinez

“I am here,” a young woman announces as she taps lightly on the counter to gain my attention. Then she leans over the counter, smiles, and whispers, “You can tell everyone else to go home–the job is mine.”

“Do you have an appointment?” I ask abruptly while pretending to have not heard her last remark.

“Most definitely,” she answers smiling in anticipation to my next question. She begins to introduce herself: “My name is Margo–.” Before she finishes speaking her finger is on my clipboard, pointing to her name. “There’s my name right at the top of your list–,” she hesitates and then adds, “–where it belongs.”

I think to myself, “This young lady is certainly self-confident (a main requirement for the position of New Accounts clerk I am interviewing for). But, she appears almost too sure of herself.” I call her into the conference room, request that she take a seat, and then ask her point-blank, “Why do you think you are the best choice for the open position here at the bank?”

She smiles and quickly exclaims, “I guarantee my work!”

“You what?”

“I guarantee my work,” she repeats.

I can hardly believe my ears she says she guarantees her work. I sit in silence, not knowing what to say next. Never had I been at a loss for words before; this is usually a fault of the interviewees. I only ask her one question; but yet from the very moment she makes her presence known to me, she begins to demonstrate all the qualities I am looking for. “Margo, you stir my curiosity. What do you mean by your statement: ‘I guarantee my work’”?

“Curiosity killed the cat,” she replies. “But you need not be curious, my work is accurate; I don’t make errors. But if you find one and prove me wrong, I guarantee I will fix it.”

I hire her. But because she is so overly confident that her work is error free, I begin to scrutinize it, looking for one fatal error. A year passes; no errors surface. I become lax. I stop looking. “Perhaps it is possible for someone to do their work error free,” I think.

I feel confident can trust and rely on Margo to follow procedures without my looking over her shoulders.

Then I went on a business trip for the bank for a few days. When I return, the vault teller requests I enter the vault with her to prepare and fill an order of cash for a merchant. I did. While there in the vault, I notice there is a stack of $100 dollar bills segregated from the others. I ask, “Why are these bills here separate from the other bills?”

The vault teller replies, “Margo asked that they be kept in the vault, separate from the other bills, until you return. She says: ‘ They are counterfeit.’”

I ask, “Does she know who passed them?”

“Oh yes, a new account customer opened a time certificate with them.”

I inspect the bills. They are definitely counterfeit. But since an employee of the bank accepts them as legal tender, I fear we are now faced with an operating loss. This is a first. I had never suffered an operating loss for accepting counterfeit bills. I think to myself, “When Margo makes an error, she does it good. Why didn’t she notify the police or the F.B.I.?” Only Margo can answer my questions. She knows procedures. Ignorance is definitely not the reason. “Why didn’t she follow procedures?” This whole thing didn’t make sense.

I approach Margo and ask, “Why?” “Why?” “Why?”

She knew immediately what the one word question meant.

“The manager told me to wait until you return.”

“How did the manager get involved with it to begin with?”

“He brought the customer to my desk. I thought he knew him.”

I excuse myself saying, “I have to make a few calls before 5:00 P.M., I’ll get back to you later concerning this matter.”

Immediately, I call the “Feds,” explain what happened, beg their forgiveness, and make plans to entrap this mystery man if by chance he attempts to do it again.

Margo had shared with me his statement: “ I will be back to open another account when my certificate at another bank matures. That’s a promise.”

The F.B.I. gave me instructions. I had to fill Margo in. But because of the frantic hassle and the circumstances, precious time slips away and so did Margo–she left the bank for the day. “Oh well,” I tell myself, “Tomorrow is another day.”

The next morning disaster hit. A family emergency occurs delaying my arrival at the bank.

When I did arrive, Margo met me at the door. “It’s fixed,” she exclaims!

“What’s fixed?” I inquire.

“My error,” she stammers with excitement, “I told you: ‘I guarantee my work.’”

What had she done? My mind cannot conceive how she can correct such an error.

“Margo,” I say in a calm reassuring voice, “Face it, your error is not fixable. It cannot be erased as if it is chalk on a chalkboard.”

“But it is,” she replies, “In just that way too–like chalk on a chalkboard.” “You see,” she continues, “The man who gave me the counterfeit came back.”

He said: “I have an emergency. I need my money back.”

“So, I give him–I give him just what he asks for. I give him his money back — his counterfeit bills.”

Let me introduce a character in my life.

The Poppy Master
Lancaster, CA 2010 Poppy Fields

This is Sparky.  I call him the “The Poppy Field Master”.    Sparky is such a beautiful dog. He looks so regal.  His black fur glistens from the refection off the golden poppies. He is quite a character.  He follows me around during the day occasionally stopping me dead in my tracts.  He will not move until I say, “Excuse me”.  I am on a short lease, so to speak.  He is in control; I am not.  All he has to do is step on the leash (the oxygen cord) and I am toast!  Being stubborn does not help, I must speak on his command–or die because when he steps on the cord, the air stops too!  He is too big to pick up and move.  If I try, he just looks up like Eeyore (Poo’s donkey friend) as if to say with his expression, “Do I have to?”  It is so much easier to just relent and say, “Excuse Me!”  He moves and only then.  You just got to love him.

I dreamt of vine ripe tomatoes, so I planted a pot garden this year.

A Tomato Plant
The Pot Garden

I love tomatoes and so does Sparky.  Perhaps, Sparky loves them a little too much.  As soon as the tomatoes start to turn red, it is a fight to get them before he does.  It is my fault he loves them so much.  I give them to him in exchange for tricks, a trick for treat.   On taller vines, I thought, “I will succeed.”  That was until a big black crow dove down and plucked a tomato from the vine.  Sparky let him do it! Dogs are watch dogs.  Right?  Sparky is literally a watch dog.  He watched.  He didn’t even bark!  Each of us has our fears.  I think Sparky fears those crows, because he goes the other way when they coame near.

Grama’s Birthday

By Trudy A. Martinez

Today is not my birthday: that day passed weeks ago but here stood Elijah and Charity, wishing me happy birthday, handing me a present, asking me to open it, gleaming with joy from anticipation.

The package handed me was a work of art:  personality spilled from its hand painted design; each stroke told a story, filling my heart with joy; each color depicted a mood, an emotion sprang from it, leaping at my heartstrings.

There is a cake waiting to be eaten so I had better get along with my story.

“I painted this.”  Elijah exclaimed, smiling as he pointed to his design.  “Charity painted this,” he continued as his words sprang to life in the ears of his little sister standing next to him, waiting her turn to speak.

“Open it Grama”, her words rang out, sprinkling the air with the soft tones of her voice.

“Do you know what it is?”  Elijah queried.

“No,” I replied, “Can you tell me?”

“Can’t tell Grama, Elijah!”  Charity’s reprimanding voice rang out.

“No-O-O-O-O-O.”  Elijah answered, dragging out the one syllable word, lingering it in the air momentarily before he added, “You have to open it, Grama”.

My fingers had already begun to carefully undue the paper from one of the packages.  The paper was unique as it was homemade; the designs were drawings made by Elijah and Charity.  The pictures would make a perfect addition to my refrigerator door that was adorned with such treasures.

My two-prized possession hang from a looped chain that is attached to a magnet on that door:  pacifiers, one blue one and one pink one.  The blue one was given to me by Elijah a few years back.  The pink one was reluctantly given up on Charity’s second birthday.  She was not forced to give it up; she did it willingly but it was difficult decision for her to make.  I remember.  She stood at a distance from me, covering her eyes.  She knew it was her birthday; she knew she was going to give up her infancy with the passing of her prized possession to my refrigerator door and thereafter, ‘patsy’ was to become my prized possession.  My thoughts were suddenly brought back to the present with the sounds of voices:

“Come on, Grama, hurry up–Open it”, Elijah said.

“Open it,” repeated Charity.

“Here,” Elijah added, reaching for the other end of the package, ripping the paper quickly off.  Charity in the meantime, picked up the other package and quickly opened it for me.

“Here, Grama, here’s your present.”

Thanks honey that is a pretty cup.  Why it even has my name on it:  Grama.  It’s a Grama cup.  Elijah just finishing the unwrapping of the other present, proudly held it up for me to admire.

“Do you know what it is, Grama?”

I looked it over.  It looked like a milk carton, but windows had been cut out of each side.  There were also two small holes in each side.  In addition, it had been painted all over with paint, different colors of paint.  There was a stick that was separate but that went with it.  On the top of the structure, a rope like twine was attached to it on both sides.  “Hm mm,” I thought,” I wonder what this beautiful creation is?”  Elijah and Charity eagerly waited for a reply.  I was taking too long to guess and they were extremely anxious to tell me.

“It’s a bird feeder, Grama!”  Charity exclaimed.

“You put seed in here,” Elijah explained“, and then you put the stick through here,” he continued, “And the birds come and eat the seed”.

“They come and eat the seed.”  Charity echoed, smiling.

“It is beautiful”, I said, “I know just the place to hang it.”  We went to the patio, hung the bird feeder, and then, came back inside to watch and wait, but no birds came.

“They’ll come”, Elijah and Charity assured me.  Nevertheless, the birds did not come and Elijah and Charity went home.

A few days later, Kit, my cat, started jumping, running, and acting real crazy.  She would sit at the patio door, swinging her tail back and forth, faster and faster her tail went back and forth.  She was trying to get my attention so I would let her outside.  I opened the blinds and saw that there was a bunch of little visitors in my backyard:  birds were perched on the bird feeder on the little stick that stuck out from the side.  Birds were walking on the ground, picking up the seed that their friends up above were dropping on the ground from the pretty bird feeder that Elijah and Charity made for me.

I immediately called Elijah and Charity on the telephone to tell them about the little visitors.  They were not home.  I left a message.  Here is what I said:

“That beautiful bird feeder you gave me for my birthday has brought joy.  I have lots of birds in my backyard where before there was none.  The birds have been eating the seed and I keep filling it up with more seed because they are very, very, hungry.  Have to go now–just wanted you to know–love you.

Oh yeah, Kit likes it too.  She jumps, runs, and acts real crazy.  She wants to go outside with the birds.  She wants to catch them, but they fly away when they see she is coming out.  Love you–Bye.”

Love Grama Trudy

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The Winners

The Winners

By Trudy A. Martinez

As I approach the O.J. Actis Junior High, a hum catches my ear like that of a swarm of bees.  Occasionally, a high squeal pitch punctures the air, following a towering roar, commanding, “Get over here–leave that girl alone!”

The doorway is crowded with mothers and dotted occasionally with a father here and there and, of course, a lot of small children trying to squeeze through openings in the crowd.

A long metal table blocks the wide entrance, except for a small passage way that leads on to the activity floor.  Behind the table, volunteers sit on a tan metal folding chairs.  They are frantically handing out fliers, signing up enrollees, or answering questions.  It is difficult for those who have already enrolled to get past the eager new participants.  A harsh voice rings out, “Just a minute, Jimmy.”

“Come back here,” says another.

Anxious children who manage to escape their parent’s side pepper the passage way.  They are uniformly dressed in black outfits that look like over-sized pajamas tied in the middle with a white belt.  The belt wraps around their small frames twice before being tied in the front.  On their backs, contrasting the black color of the pajama, are bold white letters forming in a semi-circle, spelling out “Young Olympians,” an artistic illustration of a block kick in action, and stars, U.S.A., and more stars.

A white sock becomes air-borne, flying high above the heads of the crowd, as if it has wings–tailing behind it is a voice command:  “Go get that sock!”

On the activity floor which takes on the appearance of a gym with its waxed and shining hardwood, an instructor is giving directions to a group of children that were in an earlier session; the group is about to break up.  He says, “Remember now,” taking in a deep breath as he raises his finger to is puckered lips, “Sh-h-h!”  Then he continues, “What you learn here tonight is to only be used as self-defense–to protect yourself from anyone who tries to grab you or hurt you–not your friends.” he adds.  He takes another deep breath and says, “This bright yellow belt can be earned through your participation in learning and mastering the techniques I show you.”  Then he asks, “Do you want one?”

A loud sharp, “Ya,” can be heard as all the children reply to his question in unison.

The program is being sponsored by the Y.M.C.A.  Although the program is sponsored by the men’s organization, participants of the educational activity are not limited to boys; girls are welcome and encouraged as well.

Chandra, my granddaughter, eagerly awaits her class to begin.  her big brown eyes glisten and beam with excitement.  It is difficult for her to remain still.  Her muscles tense and her fists clinch in anticipation.  When her mother says, “Chandra, you need to get your shoes and socks off.”  Chandra immediately drops to the floor as if she is a puppet and the words pull her string; her mother does not need to repeat the words.  She moves quickly, untying her shoes, pulling them off, and then removing her socks; when she finishes with one foot, she instantly repeats the process with the other.

On the activity floor, the instructor tells the early group, “Good-night,” as he bows to them with both hands at his side.  All the students reciprocate and then leave the floor, scampering with excitement back to their parents.

Chandra’s eyes grow in size, taking on a pleading look as if to ask, “May I go?”  Her lips form a smile and she turns her head upward toward her mother, anxiously waiting her mother’s approval.  “Okay, go on.”

The turn out for the self-defense and safety awareness program seems to highlight a growing problem that faces America: that of helpless children falling prey to unknown assailants and being victimized.  A concern for their safety prompts the offering of the classes.  The overwhelming response indicates parents worry about the children.  Because of the size of the class, some parents are asked to participate by holding the block pads and block sticks (foam padded) for the children to practice on, thus freeing more instructors to assist those kids who are having difficulty.

The children line up in rows.  Chandra makes sure she is right up front so she doesn’t miss a move  Chandra’s mom had told me the first night of class, Chandra had to be encouraged and reassured that she would not be the only one who didn’t know anything; but no one would guess that she had been so shy now or that she had only one lesson.  She certainly did not act like a novice.

“Horse stance,” says the instructor.

Immediately, all the children assume the position:  they spread their legs apart, assume a semi-squat position, double their fists tightly until their little knuckles appear white and hard, and position their little arms in preparation to block and punch.  Their bodies are rigid.  “Punch,” yells the instructor.

The children threw one arm forward sharply with force–“Ya.” they reply in unison.

The instructor has them sit on the floor in a squatting position as he demonstrates the next move.  “When I say, ‘ Get up.’  I want you to get up as fast as you can–but don’t start until I tell you.”  All the little bodies tense and lean forward slightly.  One over-anxious little bottom left the grown, protruding upward–it is Chandra.  “Down,” the instructor repeats.  “Don’t get up until I say.”  He went on giving detail instructions on how to block a hit and then immediately follows through with a kick forward.  “Up,” he says.

Little bodies pop up like they are spring-loaded.

“Horse stance,” he yells.  They instantly assumes the position.  “Block–Kick.

“Ke–.” they yells as one arm goes up to block.  “Ya,” they continues as their leg goes up close to their body and instantly shots forward.

Judging from the height of their kicks, I imagine an assailant dropping to his knees.  “These kids can turn out winners,” I thought as my mind envisions the encounter and then their little legs carrying them speedily away from the danger.

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