Happy Father’s day

Growing up, Father’s Day had always been an interesting event at my house. My brothers and I didn’t have a normal, male, father figure,HappyFathersDay per se; yet we never lacked for guidance, encouragement, a moral compass, and a role model for what it means to be an adult. There’s only one explanation for my having a sound fou
ndation for being a great mom, a good friend, a dedicated employee, and a positive, contributing member of society: I have a mom who deftly played the role of father, and for her dedication to her children, I am grateful.
Here’s to you, Mom: Happy Father’s day.
To my brothers who, growing up and into adulthood, are friends, mentors, staunch supporters, and became men who I admire: Happy Father’s day.

She has a voice

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My youngest child has been promoted to seventh grade. No longer will I walk the halls as a parent of a child attending the elementary each of my kids have spent so much of their childhood.

When my baby girl was in Kindergarten, her teacher made a point of pointing out my daughter’s writing examples saying, “your daughter has a gift.” While it’s true the writing examples were fun to read and were a little different from her peers, I thought it was a good teacher praising her student for the parent’s benefit. My ears perked up a bit when her first grade teacher made similar comments. I finally understood what her teachers were attempting to convey to me when her second grade teacher spelled it out in no uncertain terms: “Your daughter has a voice.” This teacher explained how second graders began exploring their writing in patterns, and she showed us examples of what pattern writing looks like for kids seven years old. Then she took several examples of my daughter’s writing, and, as the expression goes, I couldda had a V-8!”.

Writing became a hobby for my baby girl. She created worlds in Minecraft, and then wrote stories to accompany her creations. Sometime this past year, she got into writing fan fic. I’m surprised, delighted, and wow’d at my daughter’s ability to convey concepts, thoughts and ideas, using a style that is all her own.

When it comes to writing, showing is preferred over telling. Following is my daughter’s last elementary writing project: BioMe. I invite you to read her memoir.

Memoir of a Potato

By Rachel Showers

I take a deep breath. I was really nervous for the first day of school. I looked up at my mom as she held my and walked into class. I didn’t know what to think as people stared at me. She hugged me before walking out. I was scared. Keep Reading

My son has crabs

Yesterday, my son and his girlfriend spent the day at the beach. It was like any other day at the beach, warm sand, breaking waves, and the feeling of summer’s intimate caress in the sun’s rays and wind’s breeze. Oh, and there was a boatload of crabs all over the beach, mostly dead, a few alive. Wait, what kind of crabs did you think I meant?

IMG_3644When I picked up the kids, my son and his girlfriend showed me their prize possession, tucked safely at the bottom of a Styrofoam cup: a small crab. “Look!” she gleefully cried. “Isn’t he cute? We’re going to call him Mr. Crabs!” It was dark, I honestly didn’t see anything in the cup, but I’m a mom, and I know how this game is played. “Cool! How exciting! Are your seat belts fastened?” I am all about safe driving, ya know.

After we had arrived home, the kids put their beach gear away, took turns showering, and then settled down to watch a movie. Just as I was falling asleep, my son decides it’s time to find Mr. Crabs a more permanent housing situation. “Hey, mom, do you have a glass bowl we can put Mr. Crabs in?” Why is it they ask me questions after I have drifted into the state of relaxed bliss, ready to release the day and fall into Morpheus’s waiting arms? Foiled again! I’m sure I mumbled something mostly coherent, because when I awoke this morning, Mr. Crabs was tucked in his new home, safe from the cat and out of view of the curious (although mostly blind) dog.

Beachcombing interlude

I traveled to San Luis Obispo last week to participate in a career fair at Cal Poly. There I met two of my previously-unknown-to-me co-workers, who quickly became my new best friends. The career fair was a blast, and the morning flew by! The event ended at 1:30 pm and our flights weren’t scheduled to leave until after 8 that night. I had a rental car, they had ideas of things to see, so off we went to exploring.

IMG_2831We drove about 20 minutes north on 101 to Morro Bay. Morro, Spanish for the crown, is part of the Morro Rock State Preserve, one of the California State Parks. This 22-23 million year old rock is one of Nine Sisters of rocks that extends from Morro Bay to San Luis Obispo hills. We drove onto the causeway connects it with the shore, which make it a tied island, and parked on the south side of the rock. Ha, rock! It’s pretty big for a rock. So, what’s the big deal about this rock? Turns out, it’s a volcanic plug formed when magma from a volcano solidifies in the pipe or neck and the surrounding sediment is eroded away. Essentially, I was standing next to the remains of an extinct volcano. Cool!

IMG_2835It was peaceful, and for a while we watched otters doing their otter things out in the bay. They were quite active and entertained us for quite a while. Once they settled down on their backs to float around for a while, we began exploring the area. We took the path for a while, and then braved the boulders and climbed down to the beach. I am happy to report, none of use twisted ankles or broke anything near and dear to our hearts.

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It was late in the afternoon and we could see the marine layer inching its way inland. I became chilled and hiked back to the car for my jacket while my buddies searched for sand
dollars.IMG_2852

On the South-West face of the rock we found caves, on was large enough for a mountain lion. I was curious what critters might inhabit the various spaces. Not curious enough to climb the rock to investigate, which is not allowed.

IMG_2831We wandered over to the north side of the rock and watched the surfers catch waves and wipe out, undaunted by the cold (aided by wet suites).

While I enjoyed people watching, the was quite a bit of activity on this side, I preferred the other, quieter side.

After watching the surfers for a while, we decided to get a bite to eat. We headed to Marisol at the Cliffs in Pismo Beach. Even though it was chilly by then, we opted to sit on the terrace where I enjoyed a glass of wine, coconut shrimp and fried calamari with sauce that was d’bomb! I enjoyed good conversation with my new friends, good wine, and good food – for what more could a girl ask?

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View from Marisol’s terrace

Sated and hydrated, we had a couple more hours to kill before we needed to head to the airport. What to do? Apparently, the Farmer’s Market on Thursday nights is the place to see and be seen.

Before long, it was time to make our way to the airport, where we said our good-bys and made plans to keep in touch.

You oughta be in pictures

One of the cool perks of my new job is the fun activities in which they encourage us to participate. Last week they chartered a bus to take us up to LA where we took part in the Sony Pictures Studio tour. After enjoying the sights, we were served lunch in the VIP area of the Plaza lobby. It was so much fun!

While waiting for the tour to begin, we wandered the lobby and explored the various displays of movie memorabilia.
GodzillaOff in the corner, I found a reptilian-looking fellow (nobody puts Baby Godzilla in a corner!). While I thought he looked pretty cool, lots of details went into his creation, he wasn’t all that massive. Perhaps Godzilla, like many of Hollywood’s stars, was required to diet? Maybe his next feature film will be titled “Godzilla, Hungry and Grumpy.” It could happen. Bolyn

I loved the costumes on display, I especially loved the fabric choices and exquisite details of the dresses and tunic from the movie The Other Boleyn Girl.

RainbowMed

After watching a short film on the history of Sony Pictures Studio, we began the walking tour of the lot. The first thing we notice after passing through the gates is a massive rainbow. Now, it would be really cool if the rainbow sculpture had been used in the production of The Wizard of Oz, but it wasn’t. Nonetheless, it’s still pretty impressive.

Weighing in at 100,000 pounds of steel, “Rainbow” is a multi-colored arc 188-feet across and 94-feet high, created by American sculptor Tony Tasset, and greets visitors beyond the Madison Street entrance.

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Apparently, Sony Pictures Studio wanted to build a couple of office buildings and a parking lot, and in exchange for these new additions to the studio lot, Sony partially funded the project via the 1% for Art requirement.

While the images of Dorothy clicking ruby slippers, flying monkeys, and munchkins might come to most people’s minds, I was thinking more along the lines of hey, it’s the end of the rainbow, where’s the pot of gold?  Alas, no matter how hard I willed it, no pots (of gold or anything else) materialized.

TicketBoothA short walk past Rainbow led us to our first glimpse of buildings used in a variety of films. For example, we saw the ticket booth were Frank Sinatra buys movie tickets in the musical Anchors Aweigh. While I was never a Sinatra fan, I adored Gene Kelly, and this film is one of my childhood favorites, and not just because Jerry Mouse made an appearance. The animation segment featuring Jerry took two months and $100,000 to produce because someone noticed that although Kelly’s reflection shone on the floor during his dancing, Jerry’s did not; therefore, Hanna/Barbara productions spent a couple of months revising the animation.

Studios

There are many different kinds of studios on the lot. We passed by the Foley studios, the place responsible for supplying noises for a film, like the swishing of clothing and the tapping of footsteps to squeaky doors and breaking glass. I always thought that would be a fun job. Can you imagine the kind of stress related to finding the right sounds? For example, what sound might the breaking of bones make, or the tip-toeing of animated elephants? I imagine a Foley technician listens to the sounds in the world differently than the rest of us.

Stage6Some buildings had a shabby mystique to them while others were adorned with the Art Deco touches reflecting the era in which they were built.

No matter what they looked like on the outside, all the buildings had me wondering what was going on inside, and if maybe there might be a celebrity beyond the closed doors.

IMG_2728Of particular note among the various building on the lot is the Barbara Streisand Sound Stage. The stage was originally located at the MGM shooting stage until the late 1920s. One of the first film scores recorded there was The Wizard of Oz in 1939. The studio remains unchanged over the years because of the exceptional sound it produces; no one knows why the building has the incredible acoustics is does, and nobody wants to do anything, like paint the walls, in fear that such a change will alter the magnificent sound the room produces. I must confess the space wasn’t particularly spectacular, yet there was something fantastical about knowing you were standing in the same place as John Williams, who did the soundtracks for movies such as Jaws and Star Wars, Michel Jackson, and (of course) Barbara herself had performed. The artists who contribute to musical scores are gifted sight musicians. Get this: Many of the movies they work on are so hushed-up, the artists don’t even know the title! The players see the score for the first time about a 1/2 hour before they begin performing – that’s just amazing! Usually, the movie score is complete in one run-through and is finished in 2-4 hours, depending on the film.

StageWhile we weren’t allowed to go into any of the stages, there were several with doors wide open where we could get a glimpse of the interior. We passed by one large studio where the set builders were enjoying a lunch break.

Of particular note were stages 15, 27, and 30.

Stage 15 is the second largest studio in the world and was home to movies such as A day at the Races, Air Force One, Rocky, and Stuart Little, among others.

Stage 27 was once transformed into Munchkin land, the Emerald City, and the Witch’s Castle, although the yellow brick road, (painted plywood) has long since been lost in the annals of time. (Where exactly are the “annals of time” located, anyway?) Other memorable sets include the Spaceship Interstellar, and the Sistine Chapel.

Stage 30 was once owned by Esther Williams, which had her swimming pool and underwater tanks, and now this stage is where many water-themed movies are filmed (think Jaws and Hook).

There are many other things to share, for example, the Ghost Busters cars and their “storefront,” Stages for Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy (which are interesting, even though I don’t watch the shows). There are oodles of other tidbits and behind-the-scenes lore to explore. Instead of me blathering on, the next time you find yourself in LA, I urge you to take a studio tour or two. It won’t spoil movie magic, and it is most definitely educational, informative, and tons of fun!