A Kind and Resourceful Friend


These words are as true as they were four years ago. Marina and her crew continue to work tirelessly for those in need in our community. THANK YOU!!

November 2011

Three and a half years ago, I returned to Pacifica from the East Bay. I lived there for 15 years, and had hoped to finish raising my kids over there.

However, circumstances drove me from my home to return to the area where I was raised. Most of my family lives on this side of the Bay. Once I got my children situated in school over here, I thought it would be a breeze getting a job. This was in the fall of 2008. After three dozen resumes, I still was jobless and was forced to find some assistance.

I don’t remember how I heard about the Pacifica Resource Center, but I went there feeling very defeated and hopeless. I always tried my best to take care of my bills and my family’s needs on my own. But now I was in a situation where I needed outside help. I tried to put off getting assistance because I could do it on my own, right? Well, not always, and not at this time.

I met with Marina at the Pacifica Resource Center and she signed me up for Second Harvest. She, in her sympathetic and understanding way, helped me with some groceries and informed me of other programs throughout the county. However, there were things that Marina failed to do. She failed to pass judgment, act smugly, or look down on my circumstances. She was very compassionate and caring. For that I will always be grateful.

The Resource Center helped when my children went back to school the following fall. They helped with backpacks, school supplies and gift cards for necessary clothing items. They helped with extra Thanksgiving food boxes, and they have a special Holiday Gift program also.

During this time of Thanksgiving, I am thankful for not only the help my family has received from the Pacifica Resource Center, but the intangibles too. I am thankful for their kindness, their thoughtfulness and their genuine concern for me and my family’s well-being. Marina has always greeted me with a smile, and is always enthusiastic about my family’s progress.

For those who give to charitable organizations at this time of year and you are undecided to which you should give your money, I would like to suggest the Pacifica Resource Center. During these hard economic times, the Resource Center is greatly needed and is a haven for those of us who need more than staples.

Kindness, thoughtfulness and hope are all commodities we need and happily they are without an expiration date. I am glad I have a kind and resourceful friend in Marina and the Pacifica Resource Center.


Things I Hate About Motherhood


I love being a mom. Not that I’m really good at it, but I like it. I like my kids, and they give me a lot of laughs and joy. Yet, there are a few things I hate about motherhood that are pretty typical, but was ignorant of when I started the journey. I’m not talking about the labor and delivery, even though that was challenging or even the sleepless nights, what I am talking about are events further down the parenting road.


Probably number one on the list is fighting among the kids. They fought when they were little too. I was happy to move into a three bedroom house, then I had enough corners to put them all in.

A characteristic that doesn’t particularly bother me about one kid wreaks havoc on another. Then it becomes a bickerfest. And you’re mad at both, even the whiner. Sometimes just playful banter among them can turn on a dime. My college roommate shared some wisdom from her mother, “Laughing turns to crying!” So true. I hope as they get older, they will learn to be patient with each other. I’m being patient waiting.


I don’t think there is any parent that doesn’t feel guilty about how they’ve raised their children. Folks say, “You did the best you could.” Well, not really. I did try, I tried hard. But I don’t think I did my best, I could’ve done better, but I didn’t. But I tried. I get an A for effort. We’ll see how the Lord grades me later on.

Navigating through the teenage years, I’ve had to acquire a skin of armor against the guilt trips from the kids. Kids can make you feel guilty almost as bad as parents or the church. But I’ve come to an age where I stand by my decisions and am courageous defending them. Hopefully, the kids will appreciate the good things.

Letting Go

I didn’t think it would be so hard when the kids flew the nest. Even when the first one left and there were still at least nine in the house, sometimes we had extras, I missed that one.  Each time a child moved on, I was so sad. I worried whether they could make it out in that big bad world. But, they ended up doing OK.

I feel bad for my youngest ones. You see the older ones just had to get use to these  new people coming into the family when the little ones were born; but, the little ones have to watch their siblings leave them. Siblings that they became close to, siblings that were their best friends. I knew it was sad for me, I only realized lately how sad it is for them too.

Aside from the things I hate about Motherhood, the things I love truly outweigh these difficulties. Of all the things I’ve learned while mothering, learning to love and be loved is foremost the best thing.

“You’ll Never Be This Young Again”


A college friend gave me a birthday card in my senior year at St. Mary’s College, inside was the quotation referenced above. Since I was a little older than the rest my classmates, the quote was rather ironic. I thought I was ancient at the ripe old age of 27.

Many years ago, I reached an important milestone, my (gulp…big gulp) fiftieth birthday. Turning 30 was no big deal, I had just had my second child and at 40, I was still having babies and too busy to notice, I felt like 19 anyway.

Well, 50, on the other hand, loomed before me like a dark ominous storm over the ocean. I don’t feel like 19 anymore, I can’t see as well, I have panic attacks, my hair is thinning on my head and thickening on my upper lip. It is graying as I write like one of those weird death scenes from “Raiders of the Lost Ark”.

I dreaded 50. But I have to remind myself, “I will never be this young again.” When I am 65, I can look back at 50 like I look back at 27 now. Oh my, I was sooooo young then. There is a lot to be thankful for, I am not on any medication, perhaps I should be; I can still recognize each of my kids and remember their names and even their ages. I have some stamina left to keep up with them and with a smile to boot.

I still daydream when that romantic song comes on the radio. I cry when the “Marseilles” is sung in “Casablanca” or when I hear “Danny Boy” played in March and always when I hear “The Star Spangled Banner” before the few ballgames I watch. I still stop and watch when it looks likes an awesome sunset, I smell the daffodils and I try to hear  what my kids are saying and to remember my parents’ stories.

I like what Victor Hugo wrote when he was over 80 years old, “Winter is on my head, but eternal spring is in my heart. I breathe at this hour the fragrance of the lilacs, the violets, and the roses as at twenty years. The nearer I approach the end, the plainer I hear around me the immortal symphonies of the worlds which invite me.” Although winter, I hope, is not yet on my head, just a lusty crop of fall, I do want to grow old in that manner, filled with the wonder of the experiences of youth, but in tune with the sounds of the hereafter. But for now, I will enjoy being as young as I am!


Beasto and Bob

hamsterBeasto is a boy. His name isn’t really Beasto, but Evaristo. And someone called him Beasto one day, and now everyone calls him that. He calls himself that too. Bob is a hamster. Just Bob, not Robert, just Bob.

Beasto loves Bob, and Bob loves Beasto. They are best friends. Beasto got Bob at the pet store. He wanted a pet, maybe a baby chick, or a turtle, or a hamster. Beasto looked at the chicks at the pet store. They were cute, but he didn’t want a chick. Beasto looked at the turtles in their aquarium. They were cool, but Beasto didn’t want a turtle. Beasto looked at the hamsters in their cages. He held one, he petted it, and he liked the way it felt in his hand. They were soft and cuddly. He bought one and that is how he got Bob.

Beasto took good care of Bob. Beasto and Bob became best friends. Beasto made sure Bob had food and water everyday. He cleaned Bob’s cage every other day. Beasto fixed Bob’s wheel when it broke. Bob loved his wheel and spent a lot of time running on it. Sometimes he slept on his wheel. Beasto took Bob for walks around the yard using a piece of yarn for a leash. They watched TV together. Bob sat on Beasto’s head while he played video games. They were such good friends.

One day, Beasto took Bob to the hilly part of the front yard. Beasto had been digging a small tunnel for Bob to play in. After his tunnel was finished, he told Bob to go through it. Bob went into the tunnel, but did not come out the other side. Beasto looked into the tunnel from both sides, but could not see Bob. Beasto became afraid. He called Bob; still Bob did not come out. Beasto called his sister and brother to help him find Bob. Together they dug and dug to make the tunnel bigger. Maybe Bob got stuck, they thought. When they dug open the whole tunnel, they saw a lot of other tunnels. Bob was gone; they did not know which tunnel he went down.

Bob could hear them digging, but the tunnel he went down was covered with dirt. He waited for them to open the tunnel, but they could not see it. They dug for hours. Bob waited for hours. Beasto could not find Bob, and Bob was waiting to be found. That night Beasto was very sad that he lost his friend. He felt bad that he did not take better care of Bob.

Bob was finally able to dig open the tunnel he was in. He looked around, it was already dark. He looked down the hill to the house. He could see Beasto through the living room window. Beasto looked so sad. Bob called out to him, “Come and get me! Here I am.” Beasto could not see or hear Bob up on the dark hill. Beasto said a little prayer as he sat on the couch looking up to the hill. Bob heard some scary noises and ran down into the tunnel. That night he went exploring.

After a long walk down the tunnels, Bob met a gopher family and was invited in for dinner. Bob told the family all about his friend, Beasto, and how he got lost. The gopher family asked him to stay with them because they thought he would never get home to Beasto. “No, thank you, I am going to find my way back to Beasto. Thank you for dinner, but I must go now.” Bob found his way back to the top of the hill, but everyone was asleep in Beasto’s house. By morning, Bob found a little cave and went to sleep.

Right after breakfast, Beasto went to the hill to dig some more. He spent all day on the hill waiting for Bob to come back. But, as you know, hamsters are night animals, so Bob slept all day while Beasto waited for him. That night Beasto was looking up at the hill again, and Bob came out and called to him, “I’m here, come and get me.” But Beasto could not see or hear Bob, and then Beasto went to bed. Bob went exploring again. He met a different gopher family and was invited to eat again. He told them the story of Beasto and the things they did together. Just like the first family, they invited Bob to live with them. “No, thank you” he said, “I am going to find my way back to Beasto. Thank you for dinner, but I must go.”

Many days and nights went by. Each day Beasto went to the hill and thought about Bob. Each night Bob came out of the tunnel and called to Beasto.

One night, Beasto traveled far into the tunnels. He forgot which tunnel he came down and was really lost now. He came to another gopher family’s house, and they invited him to dinner. Just like the other families, he told them his story and they invited him to stay with them. He told them that every night he was able to get back to the hill, but now he was really lost. Just when he thought he might stay with this family, Grandma Gopher suggested he take another way out of the tunnels, but warned him to be careful of the raccoons.

Bob followed her directions and he found himself near the back porch of Beasto’s house. He was so thrilled because he could see Beasto’s mom and sister in the kitchen, and he was going to run to the porch when five very large raccoons came down the pine tree. Luckily they did not see him and he ran back into the tunnel. Bob could hear the commotion in the house because Beasto’s sister saw all the raccoons. They came to the back door and made a lot of noise to scare the raccoons away. After the noise died down, Bob stuck his head out of the hole and began to scurry toward the porch. It looked like everybody had gone back in; Bob was getting sad when he heard a scream.

“Bob!! Bob!!” Beasto’s sister screamed.

She grabbed him and was running toward the house yelling for Beasto. She brought Bob to Beasto. No one could believe he survived ten days in the tunnels. But he did. Beasto was so happy he almost cried. Everyone hugged and kissed Bob. Bob was so excited to be home, he just wanted to get into his cage, eat and go to bed. Beasto fed Bob, and Bob gobbled up his food.

That night Beasto went to sleep with a smile on his face, and Bob went to sleep with a lot of food in his cheeks.


Gratitude is Always an Option


November 2011

I thought this column would be easy to write. Gratitude – that’s easy; I’m thankful…thankful for a place to live, for having enough to feed my kids and to pay some bills. My situation is definitely far from ideal or perfect, but there are many things for which to be grateful.

However, as I began thinking about this column and how I wanted to intertwine all the loveliness of Autumn with its colors and dancing leaves in the wind, Halloween and all the magic of the season, and especially its crown and glory, the Thanksgiving holiday, I found myself in circumstances that produced the contrary: self-pity instead of selflessness, bitterness instead of betterment and discouragement instead of decorum.

A perfect case of Murphy’s Law.

How do I write about gratitude when I am wallowing in these very ugly attitudes? I am learning that you can be thankful even when things are not going well. Many of us are in circumstances that do not reflect that Norman Rockwell picture of the happy family gathered around the Thanksgiving feast. Many of us are still looking for work to improve our lives and our children’s lives. Many of us are in relationships that are difficult at best. How can we be grateful when there is so much darkness and turmoil in the world, even within our own lives?

I am reminded of a story from Corrie Ten Boom’s A Hiding Place. Corrie and her family were arrested in Holland in 1944 for harboring and protecting Jews. She and her sister were together in the Ravensbruck camp. Now, these were dire circumstances. But her sister encouraged her to be thankful even for their present difficulties. On one of these occasions, a minor annoyance was the fleas in their bunker. Corrie told her sister she was trying to be thankful, but could not be thankful for the fleas. Her sister still encouraged her to be thankful, even for fleas. Later, Corrie found out it was because of the fleas that their dreaded prison guard visits were few.

Gratitude is always an option; always free. It is just the muck of our attitudes that thwart thanksgiving. There is always something to be grateful for. In this part of San Mateo County, there is wonderful, clean air (that is something I just can’t live without), sweeping vistas, delicious Hetch Hetchy water and the few occasions when one drives to the intersection of Oceana Boulevard. and Manor Drive in Pacifica and there are no other cars. So in our difficulties and for some, their suffering, gratitude can always be an option. As W. J. Cameron wrote,

“It is literally true, as the thankless say, that they have nothing to be thankful for. He who sits by the fire, thankless for the fire, is just as if he had no fire. Nothing is possessed save in appreciation, of which thankfulness is the indispensable ingredient. But a thankful heart hath a continual feast.”

So I hope thanksgiving will be a part of your feast this holiday. And if we practice thanksgiving throughout the year, we will be the richer for it. Happy Thanksgiving, and thanks for reading.

This entry was posted on November 12, 2015. 1 Comment

One Veteran

stevepicToday is Veterans Day, the day we remember the service and sacrifices of those who gave their time, and for some, their lives, in the service of the United States Armed Forces. My dad served in the Navy during the Korean War. My uncle served during World War II and my grandfather served as a pilot in the “war to end all wars” World War I. This day was originally set aside to remember those who gave their lives during World War I. It has evolved into a day of remembrance for all veterans of all wars.

Today I’d like to remember One Veteran: Steve Thompson. Steve served in the U.S. Army from 1984 to 1991. He served his country without apology; but his distinction, to me, where I believe he earned his honors, did not come in the service of his country while in the Army, but in his service to his family. His service didn’t stop after he left the military. No, it continued in the workplace and especially in the home. He adored his wife and their five kids. His home was always open to his children’s friends which included all of my kids. I am thankful my sons and daughters have his good example to look to. His service continued beyond the uniform by being a great husband and by raising good kids. One of which I am proud and grateful to call “son-in-law.” By serving his family, he enriched this country yet again.

Steve may have seemed like an ordinary guy, and in many ways, he was just that. But to those who knew him, and especially to his family, he was extraordinary. Sadly, Steve died last year, and his service to his family was cut short. There are grandchildren who will only know him through the many stories and pictures.

Steve Thompson is – not was – on the top of a short list of good men my kids know. “Is” because his influence is still felt in the memories his family carry and the character his kids have. His absence has left an unfillable void, no amount of remembering or praying can soothe the pounding ache. Only the distant star of resurrection Hope. I cannot wait to see that reunion, when the seconds are finally tallied, such is our hope as Christians.

Except for the birth of your future grandkids, there will not be any more great days because you’re not here. We can only hope for some good ones. My life is better because I knew you. I hope my kids always remember your service to our country, but mainly your service and your example to your family. R.I.P. Brother. You are sorely missed.

Many veterans, like Steve, continued their service by serving their families and communities, and through that secondary service gave more to our country. Thank you to all who have served and continue to do so.

I Am Not a Clock

not a clock

Children, by their very nature, are inquisitive and curious. They are breeders of an endless array of questions. If your child is extroverted, there is a high probability that you are peppered with questions every day. Even the quiet ones lob a few queries your way. Of the myriad of questions a parent may face, some are profound: “How did God make that sunset?”; some are mundane: “Mom, where are my socks?”; some are welcome: “Mom, why are you so beautiful?” (of course, that child is my favorite), and some are not: “Mom, how did Gracie get puppies in her tummy?”  Be prepared to dig deep into your reservoirs of patience, wisdom and perseverance to address them.

However, there is a category of questions that has tried my last nerve: The Unnecessary Questions. Yes, folks, there are some. The crazy-making “are we there yet?”, the mind-numbing, “what’s there to eat?”, and don’t get me started on “how do you spell ‘exasperation’?”. But, the tops in my book is, “Mom, what time is it?” What the heck do I look like, a walking Timex?

Unfortunately, I am probably the one to blame for their incessant and lazy questioning. At the onset of my parenting career, I wanted to be attentive and alert to my kids’ needs. I assisted in everything and felt I was doing them a service by being helpful and addressing the issues they had. If they needed a napkin, I would get up and get one; if they needed a pencil sharpened, I would go sharpen it and if they asked, what appears to be an innocuous question, like “What time is it?”, I happily answered.

Well, it’s time to stop! My children look at an analog clock with expressions ranging from bewilderment to catatonia. When I am asked that infernal question for the umpteenth time, I just point to the clock like the Ghost of Christmas Future pointed to Scrooge’s gravestone. They look at me, shrug their shoulders, (thank heaven, they do not roll their eyes) and repeat the question. I then dart them a look of intense contumely (yes, I used “contumely” and don’t ask how to spell it) that extracts a whimpering, “never mind”. My kids would not know how to tell time if it were not for digital clocks. I know they are taught analog time in school, but my kids must be clock-challenged.

When I was growing up, my sister and I had a blue, plastic grandfather clock bank. It was about two and a half feet tall and stamped on the base were the words, “Tempus Fugit”. Well, time, and many other things, may fly if they ask me that question again.

Next in the series: I Am Not a Garbage Can.