Category Archives: youthful dreams


daily life  color143 (1)

1967–Off  on the SS Ryndam on a four month around-the-world study adventure. Ga Ga Dowd was the oldest student aboard. She seemed ancient, but was actually one year older than I am now.  The other two girls, whom I had just met, were to be my best friends on the journey.  They are Susan (in polka dots), who was also a U. of Wyoming student whom I had never met before and Pamn, from Berkeley. I don’t know why the wind chose to blow only my hair.  Perhaps I had invested in less hairspray?

“The Zoad In The Road”
                                                          by Dr. Seuss 

Did I ever tell you about the young Zoad?
Who came to a sign at the fork of the road?
He looked one way and the other way too –
the Zoad had to make up his mind what to do.
Well, the Zoad scratched his head, and his chin, and his pants.
And he said to himself, “I’ll be taking a chance.
If I go to Place One, that place may be hot
So how will I know if I like it or not.
On the other hand, though, I’ll feel such a fool
If I go to Place Two and find it’s too cool
In that case I may catch a chill and turn blue.
So Place One may be best and not Place Two.
Play safe,” cried the Zoad, “I’ll play safe, I’m no dunce.
I’ll simply start off to both places at once.”
And that’s how the Zoad who would not take a chance
Went no place at all with a split in his pants.

Born in a time before television and the internet and even private telephone lines, (we shared ours with two other households), periodicals took on a special importance. We subscribed to three newspapers: The Murdo Coyote (my hometown rag), The Mitchell Daily Republic  and Grit–a newsy national weekly newspaper. My dad subscribed to Saga, Real West, True West, Argosy and probably a few others; and my Mom got Saturday Evening Post, Journal, McCall’s and Redbook.

One special feature of Redbook  over the years I was growing up was that they published the poetry of Dr.Seuss. I don’t know if the poem above was ever published anywhere else, but it was one of my family’s favorites, and I think I still have it out in a plastic storage case with other old letters and paper memorabilia. It is well-worn and wrinkled and yellowed, glued to a piece of cardboard to aid in its preservation.  I think I had used it as one of the poems I chose to memorize (along with “Out to Old Aunt  Mary’s,” ” The Wreck of the Hesperus” and “The Children’s Hour”) when I was in grade school.

I don’t know how much I actually listened to the messages of poems back then, but I do know that something prompted me not to just dream of those forks in the road but to make a decision and to take a chance.  Perhaps it was this poem.  Perhaps it was the fact that my parents rarely held me back when I had a chance to travel or experience something different.  Well, no, they didn’t let me take the Seventeen trip to Europe when I was eleven, but short of that, they encouraged me to reach out and experience life away from the town of 700 where I lived.

When I was a teenager, I traveled all over the state for district meetings for my MYF.  I attended church camps in the Black Hills and Lake Poinsett and traveled by bus to a U.N. Seminar when I was a junior in high school.

When it came time to go to college, I was quick to choose an out-of-state college and in my junior year again chose to travel–this time around the world on the U.S.S. Ryndaam as a student on World Camput Afloat––a university extension of Chapman College in Orange, CA.  We traveled for four months, stopping in countries around the world, studying their cultures, taking practicum side trips and in some cases taking off on our own.  The first country I did this in was in Kenya, where my newly met friend Pamn and I rented a little Fiat and took off on our own to have a few adventures.

My sister told me afterwards that she had been the one to encourage my folks to let me go, telling them it would get the travel bug out of my system, but if you’ve been following my blog for long, you know that just didn’t happen.  Immediatley after college, I emigrated to Australia and after a few years there, I traveled overland as much as possible to Africa, where I stayed for two years. After that travel was a summer and vacation experience until I moved to California thirty-five years ago and then Mexico fifteen years ago.  At each of these junctures, there was a fork in the road of my ife and each time, I made the decision and took it. Nine times, by my own counting, and in that time, although I’ve split a few pants seams, it was more due to local cuisine than to indecision.

Young at Heart

Young at Heart

If I walk always looking back,
I only see what I now lack;
but if I look in front of me,
I’m aware of all that I might be.

Staying young? A matter of eye, not heart.
Remembering at the day’s fresh start
to train my eye on what’s to be
and never ever in back of me.

That excitement of the unexpected––
that future formerly undetected––
is what keeps life fresh and new.
Who will deliver your next clue?

Your script in life has not been written.
Life is an apple still unbitten.
Each bite or line is yours to make.
Each day  a freshly uncut cake.

Dawn is a gift that’s given us
to start anew with lesser fuss
and more acceptance of what’s there
awaiting us in the open air.

The world unfolds to all who seek,
banishing old and stale and meek.
To spend each day in a world that’s new
is how to keep your youth with you.

The Prompt: What are your thoughts on aging? How will you stay young at heart as you get older?

girls on wall
My sisters Betty, Patti and me, back in my pre-crush years. I remember being very proud that my legs had finally grown long enough to cross! Not too successfully, by the look of me.


When I was very small, I was notorious for hating boys.  My eleven-years-older sister once came into the living room and I was running around and around a big chair.  “What are you doing?” she asked. “Chasing boys!” was my answer. My sister was at an age when “chasing boys” meant something else entirely, but she got my drift.

When I was six, a lovely southern lady moved to town who enlivened the entire town.  She taught ballet and acrobatics to the girls and square dancing to everyone age 6 to 76.  This only lasted for a year or two, but twice a month most of the town would gather in the fairgrounds meeting room to do-se-do and alamand left.  I was usually paired with a little boy who was in my first grade class.  One night, after an especially invigorating “trade your partner,” when I was once again hand-in-hand with him, he gave me a big kiss.

I can’t remember my reaction, but I certainly remember his mother’s.  Abandoning her “trade your partner,” she came flying across the dance floor to shake her finger in his face.  “Shame on you, Brian!” she said, “Shame on you!”  (Not his real name.)  She then grabbed him by the upper arm and jerked him off the dance floor to go sit in a chair by the wall.  I was left without a partner and so had to dance with Will Prater, a grown man who was jerky and severe in his movements and who nearly dislocated my shoulder every time he swung me around.

Brian’s mother’s fervor in upbraiding him worked.  He never dated a girl, let alone kissed one, for his entire grade school and high school life.  He did ask me to the prom my sophomore year, but unfortunately I had accepted a date with another boy the night before.  By then I had a pretty big crush on him, fueled by his third grade tauntings of ‘Mayor’s daughter, mayor’s daughter,” when my dad was, indeed, mayor of the town, as well as a lifetime of torments in study hall, where he would break my pencils or pass me notes upbraiding me for scoring higher than he did on chemistry tests .  In my town, teasing was foreplay, but unfortunately in this case, the foreplay led to nothing, since he never repeated his offer of a date, in spite of his dad’s best efforts.

By my junior year, I was dating a boy from out of town.  “What are you doing dating that White River boy?” chided Brian’s dad every time I ran into him on the street or in our little town’s one  general store where I had gone to run an errand for my mom or to buy penny candy or a bag of Russian peanuts (our name for sunflower seeds.) “There are plenty of good boys right here in your own town!”

I knew he meant his own son, and had I not been in the throes of first lust with that “White River boy,” that would have been fine with me, as my longtime crush had continued.  But, alas, Brian never heeded his dad’s hints, either, until my sophomore year in college when, both home for the summer from college in different states, he finally asked me out. There is no crush like the one where contact is long delayed. I remember one very hot and heavy kissing session before we both went back to our separate lives.

We both married older people with children.  Both became swamped in our own lives.  I see him now and then at school reunions and of course crushes rarely survive a combination of reality and the passage of years.  But everyone needs a first crush, and perhaps he doesn’t remember that I might have been his, but he has the distinction of being mine.  I wonder if he would be surprised.

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “First Crush.” Who was your first childhood crush? What would you say to that person if you saw him/her again?<


Although this is a picture of my childhood friend and me, it is used for illustrative purposes only. The poem is fictional and in no way describes either one of us.


“We’ve been friends since we were skinny!”

Yes, we grew up friends and stood up at each others’ weddings.
She was there for all my break-ups. I was there for all her beddings.
And though she thinks I’m poorly dressed and I think she’s a snob
who only talks about her “things,” fashion and her job.
And though she lets her eyes stray, like she finds my talk is boring,
and puts polish on her fingernails  while mine are apple coring.

Though she prefers the opera while I like the Avett Brothers,
and dines on caviar while Burger King is more my druthers.
While she shops for Michael Kors, Yves Saint Laurent and Fendi,
Ross Dress for Less is where I shop for clothes that are less trendy.
She drives a new Mercedes while I drive a beat-up Chevy.
While she works out at her health spa, I have let myself get heavy.

Yet none of this has ever put our friendship in the skids.
I pat her little yappy dog. She puts up with my kids.
For though we’ve evolved differently,  she still is my best friend,
and the history between us means our bond will never end.
Though she lives in a mansion and my house is a dump,
Just one thing could divide us. That is–if she votes for Trump!!!

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Delayed Contact.” How would you get along with your sibling(s), parent(s), or any other person you’ve known for a long time — if you only met them for the first time today?

The Boy in the Blue Feathered Mask

 I’m choosing an alternate prompt today–to talk about my most unconventional love affair.  I’m fairly sure I’ve written about this prompt before, but this time I’m talking about another unconventional love affair–my love affair with Mexico. Hopefully you’ll know why after you read it.

The Boy in the Blue Feathered Mask

I was so busy issuing art supplies, that when the masks were set out to dry, I had no idea whose was whose.  Other Camp Estrella counselors were helping at each table and requests for paint colors were coming fast and furious.  Who knew so many boys would want to be grey foxes?  A lot of white and black got mixed. A lot of red and pink to make a deeper rose.

IMG_1973Then, feathers flew and concrete became polka-dotted with sequins in every shape from polka dots to half moons and leaping reindeer.  Day after day, layers added until it was impossible to tell roosters from foxes from bears from falcons from rabbits.
But when I saw the remarkable turquoise feathered mask with the jeweled beak, I tried to imagine which of the graceful young girls had conceived of it.  When I collected it from the tarp set in the sun and sat it under cover with the others for the night, I knew I wanted to be sure to capture her picture tomorrow before my day became consumed with other tasks.

The next day, the members of the camp surrounded the tables and piano where we had set the masks away from the night rain and winds of the rainy season.  Some asked for more sequins, feathers, beads, paint, glue, glitter gel.  Others wanted their headbands attached and wore the masks, as is, all day long–swooping between the fruit trees of the open courtyard and over the open spaces where the dance routines were practiced. They sat during language lessons and singing practice with beaks and ears and wattles  and plumes.

IMG_2221 IMG_1942 Version 2 IMG_2215IMG_2208

And then I saw the boy in the turquoise feathered mask!


IMG_1959He didn’t seem to mind that his friends behind him were getting a large charge out of his mask.
He wore it almost constantly, once I’d fastened the strap to it.  And then one morning, he caught me by the arm and asked me to take his picture.  With his other hand, he caught the hand of a girl who walked by. She was one of the taller girls, rather shy, as you can see from this photo snapped the first day of camp:

“Take our picture!” he asked politely, and although at first she pulled away, she didn’t resist much, and neither did I.

IMG_1984Brave young man.  Looks pleased.   Brave young woman. Looks placid and mature.  In the flamenco dance lessons, she alone looks almost as poised as her instructor.  She is the niece of my housekeeper, and although I’d never met her, her aunt pressed me to see that she was included and it was a special request of mine that she be added to the camp roster. Now, in the 4th day of camp, I am so glad I did.

There’s a reason why feather boy looks so pleased. She is talented in everything she does, graceful and kind, and I’m told by the other counselors that the other girls look up to her.  Although innocent, and in spite of a few flirty looks from girls toward boys, this is the only case of pairing up (short as it was) between the 11 through 14-year-olds in the camp.

When I mentioned the picture later on, he seemed puzzled, and then when I reminded him, he beamed again. In the two days since then, I’ve seen other boys watching her closely in the dance or at her table as she carefully pens thank you cards to camp sponsors. But no one else got his picture taken with her, and I noticed her shyness melt away rather quickly afterwards.

So many pleasures in this camp. Watching child after child mature and blossom was the greatest one.  More stories if you want to hear them.  Telling them assures me they won’t be forgotten.

See other Camp Estrella stories HERE and HERE.

Coincidentally, a friend brought it to my attention that this post also meets  Cee’s prompt this week, so if you want to see some more teal or turquoise, go here:

Foreign Tongues

I wrote this poem that answers this prompt so long ago that few who are now following me have ever read it.  If you have read it, perhaps you have forgotten it, as I had..

Foreign Tongues

When I was a child, I thought as a child.
In short, I didn’t think.
My faulty reasonings were piled
like dishes in a sink.

While other children responded to
“What do you want to be?”
with “Cowboy! Teacher!” (right on cue),
these answers weren’t me.

When it came to having career talks,
I fear I was a purist.
My answer was less orthodox.
My aim? To be a tourist!!

I thought tourists then to be
a sort of gypsy pack.
Jobless, they were wild and free,
their luggage on their back.

Or in their cars, packed front and back,
traveling evermore––
a footloose, wandering, feckless pack
unsettled to the core.

I saw them passing on the road
just one block south of where
my family hunched in their abode
year after passing year.

I had to wait for 19 years
to earn my traveling shoes––
to assuage my parents’ groundless fears,
abate their travel blues.

I took off on a sailing ship
to visit foreign lands.
When foreign words evaded lip,
I merely used my hands!

Back home, the English seemed to me
common––sorta dowdy.
Instead of “Moshi, moshi”
I had to murmur, “Howdy.”

As soon as school was over,
I hopped upon a plane.
I’d pass my life a rover.
Inertia was inane!

I packed up my regalia
with neither tear nor sob
to head out to Australia
for my first teaching job.

I thought that English I would teach.
It was our common tongue.
Enunciation would I preach.
Oh Lord, I was so young!

My first day there, I heard the word
“Did-ja-‘ave-a guh-die-mite?”*
I found it all to be absurd.
They were joking. Right?

Don’t come the raw prahn on my, mite”**
was next to meet my ear.
What foreign language did they cite?
It puzzled me, I fear.

I rode, I walked, I sailed the seas
and ended up in Bali.
Said my “Terimakasih’s”
And then, “Selamat Pagi.”

My move to Africa was one
that some folks found quixotic,
but “amasaganalu
was a word I found exotic.

After two years, I went home.
Wyoming was the next
place that I agreed to roam,
though I was sorely vexed.

For though the words were all the same
I’d learned at my mom’s knee––
(I’m sure that I was all to blame)
they all seemed Greek to me!

California was where I hung
my hat for many-a-year.
There Español was half the tongue
that fell upon my ear.

I liked its cadence, liked its ring.
The words ran fluid and
their foreignness was just my thing
in this bilingual land.

So Mexico is where I’m bound.
I’ve reasons numbering cien.
The main one is, I like the sound
of “Que le via bien.”

 * The American accent version is “Did you have a good day, mate?”

**  “Don’t come the raw prawn on me, Mate!”  This strange retort is similar in meaning to: “Don’t try to pull the wool over my eyes.” Many Australians have told me they’ve never heard this phrase, but I swear I did–more than once.

The Prompt: Futures Past: As a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up? How close or far are you from that vision?