Winter is Here in Lancaster, CA (2008)

 It’s snowing.  It’s snowing.  The old man is snoring!

It is a winter wonderland.  Grace and Charity made a  B-I-G  snowman.They gave it a smile and green eyes.  It was pretty cute.  See for yourself.He looks pretty small, but eyes can be deceiving.

Check it out next to Grace.  The flakes of snow came down all day long.

Sparky and Charity liked it a lot. Sparky didn’t understand what all the fuss was about.  He could take it or leave it.  He’d rather leave it.  He likes his water melted.  It splashes better that way.  He would rather splash in it than slide on it.  That is just the way it is with his breed.

It has been quite a few years since it snowed here.  I guess that blows the warming theory out the window–it is no longer warm on this side of the earth!

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Guaranteed Work

Guaranteed Work

 by Trudy A. Martinez

“I am here,” a young woman announced as she tapped lightly on the counter to gain my attention. Then she leaned over the counter, smiled, and whispered, “You can tell everyone else to go home–the job is mine.”

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

“Most definitely,” she answered smiling in anticipation my next question. She began to introduce herself: “My name is Margo–.” Before she could finish speaking her finger was on my clipboard, pointing to her name. “There’s my name right at the top of your list–,” she hesitated and then added, “–where it belongs.”

I thought 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 called her into the conference room, requested that she have a seat, and then asked her point-blank, “Why do you think you are the best choice for the open position here at the bank?”

She smiled and quickly exclaimed, “I guarantee my work!”

“You what?”

“I guarantee my work,” she repeated.

I could hardly believe my ears she had said she guaranteed her work. I sat in silence, not knowing what to say next. Never had I been at a loss for words before that was usually a fault of the interviewees. I had only asked her one question; but yet from the very moment she made her presence known to me, she began to demonstrate all the qualities I was looking for. “Margo, you have my curiosity stirred. What do you mean by your statement: ‘ I guarantee my work?'”

“Curiosity killed the cat,” she replied. “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 hired her. But because she was so confident that her work was error less, I began to scrutinize it, looking for that one fatal error. A year passed; no errors ever surfaced. I became lax and stopped looking. “Perhaps it is possible for someone to do their work errorless,” I thought. I felt confident that Margo could be trusted and relied on to follow procedures without me looking over her shoulders.

Then I was called out of the bank for a few days on business. When I returned, the vault teller requested that I enter the vault with her to prepare and fill an order of cash for a merchant. I did. While I was in the vault, I noticed that there was a stack of $100 dollar bills segregated from the other bills. I asked, “Why are these bills segregated from the other bills?”

The vault teller replied, “Margo asked that they be placed in the vault, separate from the other bills, until you returned. She said, ‘ They are counterfeit.'”

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

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

I inspected the bills. They were definitely counterfeit. But since an employee of the bank had accepted them as legal tender, I feared we were now going to be faced with an operating loss. Never had I taken an operating loss for accepting counterfeit bills. I thought 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 could answer my questions. She knew procedures. Ignorance was definitely not the reason. “Why didn’t she follow procedures?” This whole thing didn’t make sense. I approached Margo and asked, “Why?” “Why?” “Why?”

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

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

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

I excused 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 called the “Feds,” explained what had happened, begged their forgiveness, and made plans to entrap this mystery man if by chance he attempted to do it again. Margo had shared with me his statement that he would be back to open another account when his certificate at another bank matured. The F.B.I. gave me instructions. I had to fill Margo in. But because of the frantic hassle and the circumstances, precious time had slipped away and so had Margo–she had left the bank for the day. “Oh well,” I told myself, “Tomorrow is another day.”

The next morning disaster hit. A family emergency occurred delaying my arrival at the bank. When I did arrive, Margo met me at the door. “It’s fixed,” she said.

“What’s fixed?” I inquired.

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

What had she done? My mind could not conceive how she could correct such an error. “Margo,” I said in a calm, reassuring voice, “Face it, your error is not fixable. It cannot be erased as if it were chalk on a chalkboard.”

“But it has,” she replied, “In just that way too–like chalk on a chalkboard.” “You see,” she continued, “The man who gave me the counterfeit came back. He said he had an emergency and he needed his money back. So, I gave him–I gave him his counterfeit bills.”

“Oh no,” I exclaimed, “Now the error is mine!”

 

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New Addition

  My daddy and my mommy, Manny and Tanya, got prepared.

All my soon to be Aunts were there.

Aunt Kim, Tanya & Manny & Aunt Susie.

Mom & Dad & Gramma Nell & G-Aunt Trudy’s quilt. Gramma Nell was there in spirit; she designed my blankie.

Mom & Dad got a whiff of what to expect from me.

Grandma, Aunts, & one of my new cousins

And just for fun my Great-Aunt Trudy put an old picture of my Grandma Peggy, Aunt Susie and Aunt Kim when they were young just so I could see what they looked like when they were kids way before me.

I am “Wyatt Liam” born December 06, 2007 at 9:08pm, weighing in at 7 pounds 6 ounces and 19.5 inches in length.  My mommy, Tanya, and  my daddy, William (Manny) are happy to announce my arrival in Vail, Colorado.  As a result of my coming,

 wyatt Liam Thompson

But I was always there I just was hidden inside my mommy’s tummy.

Don’s Show in Las Vegas

Don’s Show in Las Vegas

Storyline by Trudy A. Martinez

The Zappos.com Las Vegas Marathon (2007)clip_image002

Here is what Don had to say about the Marathon race:

Copy of DSC07990 [A before the race photo]Photographer:  Grace Blanton

I have to admit – it feels good to have dropped 30 pounds these last six months by running and better diet.  Less weight – no white beard – people don’t think I’m 60+ anymore [I am only 46].  It had been 10 years since I last ran an organized race – which was [the] LA Marathon back in Mar 1997 [26.2 miles] . . . I only took up jogging again last May to lose weight.” Vegas Marathon Story“My Time for [the] 13.1 mile . . . [race] . . . in low 30 degree temps [was]: 1 hour 56 min 33 sec . . . my time is on page 13 of 83.  Not bad for old man.  My goal was to break 2 hours . . . 9 mile a minute pace . . . ended up with 8.54 pace. . . Now – the goal is to NOT to gain 30 pounds again!  Hard to do when you are naturally lazy like me!clip_image001” Don Blanton

5. And I'm NOT too old after all. They chased me to the end. [After the race photo]photographer: Charity Blanton

 The Zappos.com Las Vegas Marathon & Half Marathon

There are pictures at the Marathon web site.However, GramaTrudy personally likes the family style photos; they tell a more interesting story. You know how they say, “A picture is worth a thousand words.”  And what is there to deny when the story is told in living color! 

 Check these photos out (and the story-line)! 1. I came by so fast the picture blurred

I came by the photographer, Charity Blanton, so-so fast  the picture got blurred. 2. Yes, that's my tounge hanging out. I am panting like a dog Yes, that is my tongue hanging out (click on photo to enlarge and get a better view).  I am panting like a dog.

 photographer:  Charity Blanton3. I finally passed them I finally passed them.  It took some doing.4. Just so I can say, it's not often I have women chasing after meJust so I could say, “It is not often I have  women chasing after me!” 5. And I'm NOT too old after all. They chased me to the end.

And I am not too old after all.  Those women chased me to the end.

photographer:   Charity BlantonNevertheless, truth be told, there was this one . . .clip_image002[6] who just would not give in . . .clip_image002[8] So like a gentleman, I let the lady go first. And as you can see . . . She’s a foot ahead of me when she hits the line!

[Note:  The photo story line was told by Don’s mother-in-law aka: Grama Trudy.  Since she was not able to attend the race herself, she drew her own conclusions from the photos that were presented to her for viewing – Trudy A. Martinez]

The Rock

 The Rock with photos  (click here to see photos)

“There is a huge rock near a gravel pit on Hwy.25 in rural Iowa.  For generations, kids have painted slogans, names, and obscenities on this rock, changing its character many times.

A few months back, the rock received its latest paint job, and since then it has been left completely undisturbed. ”  Click on the link  above to view the photos of the rock.  It is quite a sight.

My Aunt Peg

“My Aunt Peg”

By Trudy A. Martinez

How do I describe my Aunt Peg? I have difficulty finding enough adjectives. She once told me, “God broke that mold when I was born.” She was born on April 19, 1917 to her parents: Blanche Jones and David Smith. I think she was right–the mold was broken–because the Aunt Peg I knew was one of a kind.

Of course, she was always right! She said, “It’s my parents fault!” And when I asked her what she meant she said, “Anytime you put a blank-ka-de-blank Smith with a blank-ka-de-blank Jones–you’re bound to get something unusual!” And unusual she was! She made a lasting impression on everyone she met and I know she did on me.

In preparation, I was going to share a few moments with a collage of pictures. I needed something to put the pictures on. At first, I thought I’d use one of Peg’s quilts–but I didn’t want to take a chance of messing up one of her masterpieces. So I got into this box Aunt Peg had shown me that had some sample patterns she had fixed so I’d be able to figure out how to put them together. Beautiful Patterns–but they were put together where everything fit together perfectly–uniform like–you know what I mean?

But as Aunt Peg always said, “You can’t put a square PEG into a round hole.” The perfect patterns were Aunt Peg’s creations–Aunt Peg was not perfect. So I certainly couldn’t fit MY AUNT PEG on a uniform pattern–She’d look out-of-place!

So I dug to the bottom of this box, there I found–I found these unusual little squares that Peg made–they didn’t match–yet they did–what I mean–is the squares didn’t match each other–but when I sewed them all together–they matched my Aunt Peg! –as a result I had a peculiar quilt! I think she’d be proud–that the first quilt I attempted represents her life.

Those bunch of squares looked like they were put together without rhyme or reason! There are still rough edges on the quilt. But I think you’ll agree: My Aunt Peg had a lot of rough edges! The lines go every which way—in all directions. Her life did the same. I was asked what my Aunt’s occupation was. I couldn’t answer that question with one answer. Because in her life time, she had many occupations:

She told me once–she drove a one of those big trucks. The owner of the truck wired four by four’s to pedals, so her short legs could reach them. Texas had both wet and dry counties. She attempted to make them all wet by running bootleg in that truck over those county lines. I didn’t believe her. But her dad, my granddad, confirmed it.

She worked on the assembly lines during world-war II, making radios.

She drove a greyhound bus across the United States.

She sang in a Nightclub. Her favorite song was “Peg of my heart I LOVE YOU!”

She was a hairdresser.

It was 1936 when my mother and Aunt Peg’s life were thrown together. As my mom tells it, Peg thumbed (hitchhiked) her way back to Texas. When she got to Texas, she got Don Mac Kennzie’s (her second husband) Open Top T Model Ford, one of those one-seat-jobs with the rumble seat in the back and NO TOP, picked up my mom, and headed for California. To make a long story short, the highlight of their trip took place somewhere outside of San Diego on a hill or mountain with an elevation of 6,000 ft. It was freezing cold. And it was Middle-of-the-night. The brakes on the car went out. Peg, as stubborn as she was, was determined to make it down that hill, brakes or not. So she took my mom’s quilts and threw them over mom’s head, telling her to keep her head down and then she took off down the mountain without any brakes. That was only the beginning. Aunt Peg ran without brakes ever since.

The diagonal pattern that extends top right corner of the quilt to the bottom left corner represents her travel through life.

Very few of her occupations were rewarded with money. And very few squares in the quilt have the money green color. However, the PEA GREEN color (as she called it) can be seen through out the quilt. This color represents the occupations she took on without reward and the outward-stretched lines of the diagonal pattern represent her giving nature:

1. She was a Nurse. She cared for her sick mother, My Granny Blanche, for years–until she died in 1957 at the age of 63.

2. She was a relief mother to my mother, Nellie De Juan. The only vacation my mother ever got was when My Aunt Peg hauled all four of us monsters off with her for the experiences of our lifetimes.

The experiences we had on those trips could fill a book. Once, (and only once that I can recall) I gave her some problems. It all started with her sticking up for me and being protective of me like a mother hen. But My Aunt Peg, with her colorful speech and fiery eyes, got herself arrested for being drunk and disorderly when all she had had to drink was coke-a-cola–and it was my fault! My granddad let her sit in jail for a day to cool off, for fear she might kill me. On the way home that same trip, she stopped at a greyhound bus station, bought a ticket, and put me on it, thinking I was headed for home. However, that didn’t happen. The bus broke down, leaving me stranded in Las Vegas for eight hours. And when I finally got home–my mom had moved. It took me two days to find her. And then the feathers flew–I’m not going to go into what happened to me and My Aunt Peg when my mother got wind of it.

3. She was a seamstress and dressmaker. Every year a few weeks before school started, we all went to Aunt Peg’s and Granny’s. There Aunt Peg, cut and sewed our entire wardrobe for the coming school year. On one of those trips Granny told me, “Your Aunt Peg is all bark and no bite! She yells and hollers to keep control.” She said it had something to do with her being so short. Her brother, my dad, was 6′ 4″ and yelling and screaming kept him at arm’s length. And we were getting so big she was scared we’d clobber her someday the way he did. Granny, without Aunt Peg’s knowledge, egged me on to get her down in a hammer hold and make her say uncle. When I did, my Granny laughed so hard–I thought she was going to keel over and die laughing. However, now that I had her pinned, what was I going to do? I couldn’t get up for fear of death. You would have thought I had pinned a sailor who had been out to sea too long. Aunt Peg’s voice got hoarse before she said UNCLE–I still didn’t let her up until she promised she wasn’t going to kill me and I didn’t EVEN then –until she started laughing.

4. She was a teacher. My Aunt Peg and Granny had their own chickens in her backyard in Los Angeles. It was quite a sight to see her chase the chickens around the yard. I didn’t watch the rest. Then she brought the chicken in the house, minus its head, plopped it in a pan of boiling water, and told me it was my job to clean it. I plucked the feathers. I managed that feat and I thought I was through. However, Aunt Peg said I wasn’t. I had to clean it too. All my excuses: “I’m only nine (9)” “Get my brother–he loves to do gory stuff”, failed. She stood behind me–I cried–but I cleaned the chicken, pulling out an egg I quenched and said, “There’s an egg in here,” and Aunt Peg replied in her colorful manner: “Where did you think a blank-ka-de-blank egg comes from?” With this experience and many, many others, she instilled in me this feeling that there wasn’t anything I couldn’t do if I set my mind to it. 

The words “I can’t” were not in her vocabulary. Even though she only completed the eighth grade, she was not handicapped because of her lack of education. She was her own teacher. She taught herself through trial an error. She could repair a car better than most men–if she wanted to. My Granddad use to call her “His little grease monkey”. Her brother relied on her to fix his car when it broke down. She had said, “I wasn’t born with a silver spoon in my mouth, I was born with a wrench in my hand.”

5. She was a gardener and farmer. She loved flowers and plants of all kinds. Her favorite flower was the “Poor Man’s Orchid” (Iris). She was never rich with material wealth. When she lived in the country side of Guadeloupe, California, we located her house for the first time by her fence of “Poor Man’s Orchid’s”. Pete said, “We’re here–this is got to be your Aunt’s!” He was right!

6. She Leather tooled. She made wallets, purses, belts, watch bands, and the like. You had to be special to receive a gift made by her. She did beautiful work. She was an Artist.

7. She was a Quilt maker, self-taught at the age of 55. Her quilts were as unique, as she.

8. She was my Aunt.

Her life went in all directions, just as the lines of the unfinished quilt. She had a zest for life. She learned to ride a motorcycle along with my Uncle Chris late in life after she moved to Ridgecrest because of her health in 1974.

 As you can see by one of the pictures on the quilt, she also attempted riding a Go-cart.

She’d try anything once. Those that knew her knew how generous she was: She would give you the shirt off her if you needed it.

The gingham checks represent–the little bit of country that will always remind me of her. The bright colors and flowers represent the way she lived her life and her colorful and flowery speech she shared with those who didn’t want to do things her way. The red represents her fiery temper.

Even in her death, my Aunt helped me. I was having problems describing her, until I put her little block pieces together and let the pieces she left for me, unknowingly, do it for me. The quilt describes her best–it is unique, just as she was.

In the hospital, when she was stripped of her speech because her vocal cords had been paralyzed from the respiratory tube down her throat, I had an opportunity to communicate her needs for her. I told her to mouth her words and I would read her lips. I told her to go slow because I was rusty. She did. I repeated her words, she nodded. Then I asked her a question–I don’t remember the question, but I’ll never forget the answer. I was speaking her words out loud to ensure what she said was what I was reading from her lips. I asked the question. And she mouthed “Hello”. I said, “Hello”. Her facial expression expressed a question mark. And my sister-in-law, Emily Marquez started laughing and told me she did not say “Hello”–She said, “Hell No!” I turned to My Aunt Peg and said, “That’s not fair, you have to use words that are in my vocabulary.” And Aunt Peg nearly choked to death from trying to laugh.

A Concept of Truth: The Truth–Nothing But theTruth

By Trudy A. Martinez

“Put your right hand on The Holy Bible,” the bailiff says. Then he continues, “Repeat after me: I swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help me God.” In this scenario if a factual statement of things is not made and instead, an untruth (a lie) is communicated, the untruth is referred to as perjury, a voluntary violation of an oath to tell the truth; therefore, it is punishable by the law.

A friend asks, “How do you like my new dress?” She smiles and twirls around, allowing the dress to billow out. Her eyes are beaming with excitement, anticipating an affirmative answer. Before I am able to reply, she adds, “Tell the truth.”

My mind regurgitates:” . . . the truth . . . nothing but the truth.” Then I blurt out, “I don’t like it–the print is too bold–the color doesn’t flatter you skin.”

“How could you! How could you–What did I ever do to you?” She stammers as tears fill her eyes.

“You said to tell the truth. Is it my fault sometimes the truth hurts?” I ask, defending my answer. Under the circumstances, it is evident to me the truth is not what she wants, at least not in the sense I imagine. Instead, the truth is something that is acceptable as true to her.

The concept of truth is difficult to explain and to teach children. Everything around us seems to lie. As a result, our actions speak louder than words.

For instance, when my daughter attempts to teach Chandra, my granddaughter, about traffic signals (they are in the car), every time they come to a light my daughter explains and then reacts. “The red light means stop,” she says to Chandra as her foot presses on the brake to stop the vehicle. “The green light means go,” she says as she removes her foot from the brake and places it on the gas pedal and then presses downward to accelerate the vehicle. Then my daughter explains the yellow light. “The yellow light means slow down – get ready to stop.” she says.

“That’s not true, mommy!” Chandra blurts out quickly. Then she continues, “The yellow light means hurry and go fast!” She looks up at her mommy with her big brown eyes fixed in a stare, confronting her. “You step on the gas when you see the yellow light.” Then she says as she continues to justify herself, “Remember when we are walking across the cross walk, mommy?”

“Yes.”

“The green light tells us to go. We went-we start walking.” She smiles and then continues. “Before we get across–the yellow light comes on.” Chandra continues, as a smile forms on her Mommy’s face. You said, “Hurry up–we have to go fast and get to the other side before the red light comes on,” she stammers. “So the truth is, Mommy,” she says as her eyes beam with delight, “the yellow light means hurry up and go fast!”

In an attempt to prepare my two oldest daughters for the world, I tell them to always tell the truth–the whole truth–no matter what; they are warned that if they do not tell the truth–the whole truth, they will be punished.

My youngest daughter is four. Her sisters are eleven and nine. The four-year old is very impressionable and wants to be just like her sisters. She follows them around everywhere. Then one day, she came running into the house, crying: “I got a big ow-w-ie!”

“Oh honey,” I say, “let me kiss it and make it feel better.”

“No,” she says. “I need a big bandage.”

“I’ll get you one.”

“No,” she replies. “I-I–do it.”

“Are you sure you can reach them?”

“Yes,” she answers. “I’m a big girl.”

“Okay, go ahead–if you have any trouble, call me–okay?”

“Okay,” she stammers as she stumbles out of the room, limping and holding her knee.

A short time passes. I hear her coming down the hall. I am in the kitchen, peeling potatoes for dinner. I didn’t bother to turn around. I just ask, “Did you manage okay by yourself?”

She replies, “Yes, Mommy,” as she hurries past me toward the living room where her sisters are sitting on the living room floor playing a game of Monopoly with a couple of boys from the neighborhood.

All of a sudden, screams fill the air.

“Mom!” exclaims one.

“How could you–you little brat!” Says another.

Laughter begins. The laughter nearly drowns out the screaming.

“What is going on in there?” I think as I drop what I am doing and make my way to the living room to find out. The laughter gets louder. The two girls are still screaming.

“Mom!”

When I enter the room, the little one is standing with her back to me. Her hands are over her ears; her tiny fingers are spread apart, covering as much of her head as possible. The boys are rolling on the floor, laughing as hard as they can. “What is going on here?” I ask.

“Look at her–just look at her,” the two oldest girls yell in unison.

“I-I–got a big bandage.” The youngest replies softly.

I look. There on her knee, tied in back, is a sanitary napkin, a Kotex to be exact. “Where did she get the idea that this is a big bandage?” I ask.

The two older girls look at each other. Then blurt out, “It was easier to tell her it is a big bandage-then–to explain the truth.”

“Then,” I say, “You got your just reward–leave her alone–she has a big owwie!”

I took the little one’s hand and we left the room as the laughter echoes behind us.

I add a remedy, saying, “The way to avoid embarrassment or disappointment in the future is to tell the truth–the whole truth!”