All content copyright 2014 Woodpecker Tales LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Maybe a Better Tomorrow?

"You're the light in the dark days,
and you're the hope
that fills my heart with the dreams of a better tomorrow."

That is never more true than it is at this moment.

I've had a hard day. I'm going to leave it at that.

The Roach with Soul

On January 30th of 2007, Pete and I went to a blues club in a shady neighborhood with one of his old friends from college. The evening was warm and light for being January, and I instantly liked his old friend Heath. Heath was a funny guy constantly cracking jokes and pushing the envelope. Finally the hostess seated us at the only available table in the place, a small table so close to the band that the snare drum reverberated in my head. I couldn't help but smile. I was already having a glorious night.

We hadn't been sitting even five minutes when I frightened Pete with the look of pure panic on my face. That smile I couldn’t get rid of was gone.

I was sitting next to Pete’s right side when I saw it out of the corner of my eye…

Crawling on his shoulder was one of the largest roaches I’ve ever seen in my life. The thing was monstrous. It was no thinner than my large toe, and the length was around that of my thumb! Horrified, all of the color drained from my face. Pete turned to look at me just then and grew very sober, seeing the look on my face and the ghostly complexion I knew was visible to anyone within sight.

“What’s wrong?” I stood there, watching the roach crawl up his arm towards his neck. It changed direction and went over the bak of his shoulder instead. Hoping it would find its way to the back of the seat, I said nothing. “What is it? What’s the matter?” He kept prompting me. Stalling for time, I began to stutter slightly. Finally, the roach reared its ugly head on the other shoulder and began working its way down towards the suit pocket on his left pectoral. That’s when I squealed.

At this point, Pete’s prompting me had gotten the attention of Heath and his lady friend Brook, as well as some of the neighboring tables. Heath didn’t see what I had seen and thought instead the look on my face was one of complete rage. He said later on that it looked like I had it in my mind to kill Pete – or at least severely maim him. At my tiny squeaky squeal, Brook followed my gaze and saw the ugly bug. Her face widened in alarm and she began to squeal as well. Finally I spoke up.

“Pete,” I said calmly and slowly, “You need to remove your jacket,” I paused, and then shouted “NOW!” I finished quite a bit more forcibly. Understanding a situation of urgency from my expression, Pete shed his jacket faster than I’ve ever seen him remove any article of clothing. He danced a bit, trying to shake off his invisible attacker. I shuddered when I didn’t see it on his jacket anymore and immediately picked up my feet from the floor. For the rest of the night I sat on top of my feet, not caring that I was in a dress.

Heath got a big kick out of me squealing at a bug like that, so Pete jumped to my rescue.

“I never told you,” Pete started. “You’ll never believe it – she found a spider in my room once. Ya know what she did with it? It was a big, ugly, hairy Wolf spider.”

“What DID she do? Scream?” Heath chuckled to himself.

“No,” Pete sat up straight and proud. “She scooped it up in her hand and carried it outside to let it go.”

I earned new respect that day...

(Photo taken at work around that same time, me blownig kisses
to Martha the Chilean Fire Spider, the Office Mascott)

Diary of a Shoe

When my mother was a child, her family was too poor to afford shoes. In the summer, all three kids would run around in the fields with bare feet. They had shoes for school, but mostly didn't worry about it. When my Grandmother did buy shoes because one of the three had outgrown theirs, she would hide them for a while in the closet. When finally she pulled them out for her kid to wear, my Grandfather would ask where the shoes had come from, knowing full well they couldn't afford a new pair of shoes. She would always answer with what she thought was the most honest answer she could give him safely.

"Oh, we've had these for a while now," though she failed to mention that they had remained in a box, in the closet, under a pile of blankets and photographs.

Shoes have been a valuable asset since their invention. The oldest found were from about 10,000 years ago, but were probably worn long before that. They were first evolved to protect the many tiny bones in the human foot, which has more bones in it than any other part of the body. It's progression eventually brought varied examples of shoes for different terrains and climates. Until the past few decades, shoes were NOT worn by most of the world, though. Shoes were always expensive, as they were for my Grandmother when my Mom was a child. With mass production, the prices dropped and more areas around the world could finally afford shoes. Still, many people nomadic and otherwise, still do not wear shoes.

What is the first thing most people do when they come home from work at night? For me, it's the removal of my shoes. My toes have been cramped up all day and they want to curl and twist, gliding over the carpet, cracking gently at the bends. They stretch and strain, glad to be free of the confined spaces and slide as easily as silk as I guide them over the coffee table before me. But the shoes I wear every day are not my favorite shoes. The ones I'm wearing would have to be my favorites.

Often I find that my "most favorite" of a select item isn't one that I've recently purchased or found or discovered, but the one with the most history. It's that way with T-shirts and that comfy pair of jeans that always fits just right. It's that way with a watch I know I can depend on, a piece of jewelry I can always find, a picture I keep in my wallet that someone wrote their name on. It's that way with shoes too.

My favorites are not a pair of sleek black heels, though I have two pairs I like very much. They're not sneakers or jogging shoes. They're not boots made of suede, or red pumps, or even open toed sling backs. They're not clogs or flip flops, they're not sandals or heels or loafers.

My most favorite shoes is a pair of shearling sheep skin moccasins with a large tear in the left, a big spot of bright blue paint dried on the right. They're dirty and old, and the rubber bottoms are all but falling off. I take these shoes on an airplane with me and change into them when the plane takes off, usually with a couple of odd looks in my direction by the person closest to me. They're also very warm and cozy, but NONE of those are the reason I love these shoes so much. And yet - all of them are.

In 2005 I sat on a window sill in Redondo Beach, watching the dolphins playing in the surf. My legs straddled the window sill. One of my brand new slippers fell off of a foot and landed on the stairs below. I got down from my perch, wandered to the door, and went to fetch my shoe. What resulted was an hour conversation with a neighbor I hadn't seen in a long time, starting out by him asking me why I was coming down the stairs without a shoe.

In 2006 I sat in my bedroom in Gardena on the Skype service, talking to someone more than 5,000 miles away. Though the person I was talking to had no idea, I was completely naked except the tan fuzzy slippers I so dearly loved. They kept my feet warm when everything around me was cold, dark and lonely. In that way, the slippers reminded me of the voice on the other end of the Skype service. That voice made me feel warm when nothing else could.

In 2007 my slippers were lost in a box during a move. I couldn't find them for months, and when I finally did I nearly wept for joy. I had been ruining all of my socks, running around on wooden floors with no shoes on! Not to mention, the cat was still a baby and loved to attack anything that moved. The leather slippers would be much harder to get through with those needle teeth. Somehow he still managed to get his teeth into one and tear a hole in the left foot, though.

In 2008 I painted my kitchen cabinets a beautiful bright blue color. My cat, then a year older, got into the paint and tracked it all over the house. I hollered and yelled, raising quite a fuss of screaming and scaring the poor bugger. He took off into my bedroom, little blue paw prints trailing behind him. When I discovered his hiding place, he had shoved his head into the toe of my slipper like an Ostrich hiding his head in the sand. There was that one little blue paw of his resting on the side of my right slipper. At first I was upset, but then I laughed. For as long as I kept the magical slippers, there would be an existing memory of my silly cat with his nose hiding in a shoe. As I reached down to pick him up, the shoe lifted into the air with his body. He started flailing about, slinging droplets of blue paint around in the closet, all over my high heels, all over me... His head was stuck! When I got the shoe off of his head, he curled up in my arms for the first time in months and didn't move for an hour. I was his savior.

In July of 2009 when my uhaul was u-haul-ed away, I was sleeping in a hotel room in my slippers and trackies (sweats) warm and comfortable, safe and sound with my little cat in my arms. I didn't realize then that they would be one of the only things in the world I would own the next morning other than my memories. But, there I was at that precise moment in time, wearing my slippers.

Here it is 2010, and I'm wearing the same shoes that fell in Redondo, that warmed me in Gardena, got painted in San Pedro, were cat-attacked, and kept me safe in Vegas. When I looked down at my shoes tonight only moments ago, I thought to myself "If only my shoes could talk"... They would tell much better stories than I could ever begin to imagine.

I'll cherish everything and everyone I have. I'll take the good with the bad, the blue paint drops and worn, frayed edges. In the end, it only shows that they've been well loved and had a good life, like the lines around the eyes of an aged woman, or the creases in the forehead of the Grandfather watching the grandchildren play in the park.

I learned last summer never to take anything for granted - it could all be gone tomorrow. I still have my cat, and I still have my slippers. I still have my love and my hope and my dreams. I'll never take ANY of them for granted.

No, not even my favorite shoes.

LA Weather Report

As with all things in life, there are drawbacks and positives to warm and cold weather. I prefer to see things in a positive light, however.

Yesterday the weather was perfect - sunny and warm, I drove home at 5pm with the top down on my bright red 1995 Honda Del Sol. The slight breeze in my hair, the wind on my face, I felt warm and comfortable in short sleeves. Here it is March, when the rest of the world is huddling close to their fireplaces to keep warm, and I'm driving home with the top down.

On the days like yesterday I know there is no possibility of going to bed early, though I also knew that was exactly what I needed. I had been up far too late the night before, knowing full well that I had to wake up at 6am to go to work. Going on about 3 hours of sleep, having the top down on my drive home was merely a trick to keep myself awake for the hour drive. Even that failed to work in the end. I nearly fell asleep as I pulled into my own street.

I have only one window in my tiny, upstairs apartment. Nothing separates my bed in the loft from the hot roof of the building but about 2 inches of painted white wood and 2 feet of air. When I climb up into the loft, I have to sit on the edge of the bed and roll onto it's soft surface. I have to be careful not to sit bolt upright in the middle of the night for fear of knocking myself unconscious with a support beam across the ceiling. So, on the very warm days such as yesterday was, I could easily gauge the temperature in my bedroom as being up near 100 degrees, while downstairs was much nearer to 78.

This morning the weather report was something else entirely. People here in Southern California are bundled up in sweaters and coats. They are cranking up the heaters in their cars with the remote buttons as they watch the wind tousle the trees from the safety of their warm homes. I've come to the conclusion that Californians are a spoiled people. While they "suffer" at 58 degrees this morning with a slight marine mist blowing in from the clear ocean views surrounding us, the people in a small town between Glasgow and Edinburgh are freezing away, watching the snow as they walk to the grocery store.

It's a crisp, breath taking 37 degrees over there right now. People are huddled up with their families in front of those fireplaces. The girls are learning to braid by practicing on one anothers hair and positioning flowers here and there amongst the strands. The small boy is sitting in his room reading a good book, warm and safe under the covers his mother so carefully flattened over his bed when he left for school this morning. His father, a big man known the town over as John, wanders into his son's room and speaks to him in a lyrical tune of a voice most Americans wouldn't understand. Then, he picks his boy up, tosses him over his shoulder, and carries him down to the dinner table. The boy giggles the entire way. His sister squeals when she sees the sport and begs to join in, beating her Daddy on the arm as any protective big sister would. The children take their father to the ground, giggling and squealing the whole way. He plays with them like a big Labrador retriever as his lovely flaxen haired bride watches on from the kitchen doorway, smiling to herself.

"Now John, you be easy on them," she says from the doorway.

"Now Louise," he scolds "If you'd like to stick up for them, you can't very well do it from there, can you?!" He grins a wide, mischievous smile at her, and she knows that if she doesn't disappear around the doorway, she would be next! Just as she ducks around the side, he jumps to his feet and begins chasing her through the house, threatening to tickle her until she pees her pants. She squeals louder than her children and heads straight for the stairs, swinging wildly behind her as she goes, hoping to make contact with his head or chest as he snarls.

I remember with fondness, those days I would play on the floor with my own father as my Mom would scold him from the kitchen for playing too rough with us. Dad didn't do it very often, but sometimes he would chase Mom round and round from the kitchen to the living room. Finally they would end up in a balled pile on top of the couch. They would kiss and my brother and I would both "Eww" ourselves out of the room.

What I wouldn't give to have that waiting for me when I went home tonight. I hate being tickled, but I would gladly give up the freedom of NOT being tickled in order to have the man I love being the one chasing me in the first place. He'd catch me half way up the stairs, we would fall in a heap, and he would make me laugh until I hurt. Finally, he would gently kiss me. He'd look deep into my eyes, and me into his, and I would know that I finally had my happy ending. Then - the cat would bite me on the toe as he so often does, wanting to play along.

116 days.

Relating to my Writing

Every now and then I get a chance to meet someone or speak to someone who tells me that my writing has in some way inspired them or that they could relate to it in some way. I never know where these things are going to come from next, and the one I got today was from a surprising source – a new employee.

It’s no secret that I love to write. A friend told me a story last night of something she had gone through over the past year or so, and as she spoke my mind whirled with visions of pages in a book. I could clearly define each chapter in my mind and told her at the end of the story that we should collaborate. It would be a wonderful romantic comedy with a dramatic twist or two in it. She inspired me – which for some reason hasn’t been easy to do these days. I've been very distracted by something going on in my own life, including writing a new book about two people who fell in love against all odds. It has a very happy ending to it. Still, it seems like everything I write lately in a public forum is about or pertains to love or a mysterious number of days until something big happens.

So imagine my surprise today when, in random conversation with a new employee, I started spouting off a poem I’ve not heard or said in many years.

Why is love like a sandy beach
Not to far but hard to reach?
Hard to reach and hard to hold
Hard to keep your heart a whole.

Bad luck comes to those who stand
Gripping tightly to slipping sand.
Good luck comes to those who wait
And hold out their hands in a childlike state.

They wait there
So patient and kind
Never aware
Of the treasures they find.

A broken shell
Cracked and old
Isn’t to pretty
And rather cold

But turn it over,
That broken thing,
And listen to
The ocean sing!

So why is love
So like the beach?
Not far away,
But so hard to reach?

Don’t hold too tightly
To things so dear,
If it’s mean to be,
There's no need to fear!

At the end, he asked me who wrote it. I could tell from the look on his face that he had expected to hear a name he would recognize; Dickenson, Frost, Stevenson… but I would NEVER compare my own work to any of them. His eyes nearly popped out of his head when I told him that I was only 13 years old when I wrote that poem.

I had found yet another someone who appreciated my writing!! I explained the story of the book I wrote, how it was swept away in the uHaul in the Summer with everything else I owned, and how I had random samples online. Intrigued, he wanted to hear more.

The pieces I chose were dark and worrisome, I will admit. I find that I'm often at my best when in a morose or dark mood. I chose another poem titled Silhouette of Margaret, which I wrote in a fit of boredom one day in 2006, and the “Other Perspective” piece I did from another point of view over the end of a relationship. In both cases, he was drawn in. He identified with the negativity in the Other Perspective, and explained how it was a roller coaster when I was reading Silhouette of Margaret, emotional highs and lows, always wanting to know what happened next. I never thought so much of that one, but I have known a few people to really enjoy it. I think that’s why I chose it.

After the “Other Perspective” piece, he felt the need to talk to me. He confided in me and I took some pride in that. He had identified enough with my writing to feel comfortable telling me about his home life. I knew that, if my words never touched another soul from here on out, my work was done. Someone in the world felt like they weren’t so alone anymore. That’s all it’s ever been about for me.

There have been times that I have felt so alone and so empty that all I really had were my stories and writing. I wanted so much to tell others what I was going through so that if they ever experienced anything similar, they would know that they were never alone.

I’ve been lucky enough to reach a few people. It’s the greatest gift I could be given. I reached yet another today. Perhaps I'll be lucky enough to reach another tomorrow. Perhaps the day after, too. Maybe even the day after that. But I reached one today. That's enough for now.

A sincere thanks from a friend of mine who read this... This honestly brought tears to my eyes. I hope my friend doesn't mind, but I wanted to share...

"You have touched me with your writing, shown me that with courage you can move on with life through difficult times, and face a future brighter than ever expected. Thank you"

First Entry

Tonight, after watching Julie and Julia on Netflix, I finally decided to do something I've thought about for a very long time. I finally signed up for my very own blog.

Years ago I began writing and blogging in my Myspace account. I had so much information on there that when I went to find an old entry that I dearly loved, it no longer existed. I had put so much stuff on that blog that the older entries were swept away without my knowledge.

So here I sit in my living room floor, finally deciding to start an OFFICIAL blog.

Part of me wonders how this project will fare. I've made a few attempts at this sort of thing, but for some reason the only one I was ever able to complete from start to finish was an 850 page hand written book titled "For My Family" that was stolen last July as well as everything else in my uHaul. That's a story for another day...

So - my first entry will be a reply to a question I received in my Flickr mail from "Deb and Mike" (

I saw your CD of "Ol' yellow eyes".

Is it really expensive now? I got mine at a mall in Kansas a bunch of years ago. I even kept the receipt for no real reason other than it was/is fun.

His voice wasn't bad.

I was at a party with lots of geeks (we were supposed to wear pocket protectors) and I showed up dressed decently and got a lot of "Geeze, you call yourself a geek?" comments. To which I simply puled that CD out of my pocket. I had a few folks bow down to it. We laughed and laughed and I refused to take it out of the case for fear it'd get damaged. :)

My response was just this....

Actually - I found it in a record shop called Amoeba in downtown Los Angeles. They told me they didn't have any left. I refused to take that as an answer and continued looking. Suddenly I spotted it staring me in the face from a locked glass case. When I saw the $80 price tag I nearly swallowed my tongue! Still, I took a deep breath, looked at the sales girl, and told her "I'll take it." It was well worth the investment.

I'll probably have one of his songs played at my wedding. At least one. And I'm not even engaged. I wonder what the fiancee will think of that...