Wittier Word Weavers

Writers' Club of Whittier



My husband Chuck and I were invited by our friend, Jan, to attend a performance of The Messiah by Handel at St. Matthew’s United Methodist Church in Hacienda Heights. Jan sings alto in the choir so we were happy to be a part of the audience.

The day was warm and the huge windows were opened wide for cross ventilation. The sanctuary was crowded. Chairs had been set up in the aisles and the balcony was open to accommodate the overflow. I marched up the aisle toward the front, Chuck following, grumbling. Through gritted teeth he whispered, “Where are you going? Maybe there’s room in the balcony.” I kept marching and he followed, his face flustered and red with embarrassment.

I’m a PK—a preacher’s kid—and know the front pews of a church are rarely filled. Apparently people are afraid the Holy Ghost will jump on them if they get too close to the preacher. Sure enough, the front pew was vacant. We took our seats.

The conductor took his place on the podium raised to a height that everyone of the 150 member Richard Riggs Memorial choir could see him. The sounds of talking, rustling of paper, and people moving about ceased. Silence reigned. The conductor raised his baton and the beautiful music began.

Chuck got sleepy, and before I knew it, he had nodded off. I caught him before his head dropped on the shoulder of a lady beside him. I’m thankful he didn’t snore.

The performance was all and more than I expected. So far, they are able to do this every Christmas. I hope so. I’d like to hear it again. Afterwards, there was apple pie and ice cream in a community room next door. I doubt Chuck will go with me again, even for pie and ice cream.







I was seven years old. The Christmas tree was up and lit, gifts wrapped and placed under its branches. Mother and I were enjoying the beauty.

“Can we open our presents?” I asked.

“Oh, no,” she answered. “We have to wait until daddy and your brother come home.”

So I sat on the couch to wait and fell asleep. When I awoke, the tree lights were off and most of the gifts were missing from under the tree. The room seemed dark and cold. No brother. No daddy. What happened?

“We’ve opened our gifts,” Mother said, smiling. “You were asleep.”

I sat on the couch, dazed. In my mind I could see them around the tree smiling, laughing, and opening their gifts. Happy without me.

Mother picked up a doll from under the tree and brought it to me. “Look, you got a doll,” she said, a happy excited expression on her face.

I didn’t care about that doll. Mother laid it beside me when I didn’t reach for it. And I didn’t care about the other gifts she laid beside me. She had refused to let me open gifts without daddy and my five-year-old brother, but they could opened gifts without me. They wanted to open gifts without me.

I outgrew that feeling because Mother and Dad truly loved us. They grew up in large families and very poor. They blessed us with a better life than they had had.

But, I learned an important lesson on my seventh Christmas. Never let anyone feel left out. Engage the lonely in conversation. Let people know they’re important. Be an encourager. By doing that, you are never lonely or left out yourself.


Summer Travels

The highlight of this summer’s vacation was cycling 300 plus miles under rain-filled skies surrounded by verdant green forests and raging brown rivers. What a treat to leave drought-ravaged southern California and see not only mud but also puddles. Flashes of lightning and the crashing thunder underscored the power of vacation to reawaken sleeping senses.

We started with a visit to the mother-in-law in Massachusetts. This afforded me the opportunity to swim in Walden Pond’s 60 degree deep waters. An hour communing with Thoreau was worth the amount of life exchanged for it. Did I mention state officials warned about high levels of potentially dangerous bacteria? I swam anyway. Can you say civil disobediance?

From there it was off to Buffalo for the wedding of a friend’s daughter. Given the distance, they were surprised we chose to attend. So was I.

The bike ride started in Buffalo, the Sunday morning after the wedding. The forecast was afternoon rain and thundershowers. The hotel had some plastic shower caps. We each had a set of regular clothes and a second set of riding gear, all packed in plastic bags. Off we rode along Lake Erie into a gray upstate New York cloudy day. The heavens let loose that afternoon.

We took shelter in what we thought was a restaurant. It was a bar filled with folks who seem to start their daily drinking well before noon. As we stood outside on the veranda, the patrons came out to console us as they rotated for cigarette breaks. Finally, we realized there was no way to stay dry for the hours we had yet to ride. Off we went navigating by gps and local redirects.

Bed and breakfasts were our general choice of lodging. There were also a few motels during our six day trip. We rode through New York’s Amish country where we passed several horse-and-buggy rigs. In Pennsylvania, we rode on the Allegheny River Bike trail, a conversion of a former railway. The sensory deprivation experience of riding through a dark dank tunnel was unparalleled. Not knowing when the tunnel would end was part of the thrill. Rolling fast down the hills helped balance the work to climb them.


We didn’t get wet everyday, but we learned no matter how wet we got, it didn’t take long to dry. Finally, we arrived in Pittsburgh where our oldest son attends college. Showing up at the high tech company where he works was interesting. His boss said, “So these are the crazy parents you were talking about.”

1 Comment

Summer in Mayberry

Frank anchored himself on the garden’s gray bench as the Wilson’s Memorial Day BBQ got underway. Grandpa Will enthusiastically manned the grill and the smoker as usual. Chicken sizzled on the spit, ribs cooked in the smoker, and their delightful smoky aromas permeated the air. Frank’s mom carried trays of fresh vegetables. Mel placed red poppies and pink zinnia on a dozen picnic tables, each covered with red gingham. Folks laughed and talked. The sunlit backyard embraced the growing number of friends and family.

Frank breathed deeply, smiled, and reflected. His summer didn’t wait for the solstice in mid-June. Frank’s summer started when the jacaranda bloomed. He noticed the purple flowering trees most when riding down La Cuarta where bright blossoms blessed both sides of a two mile stretch of road. In the middle of that stretch, if he looked south towards the Pacific at the right spots, he wouldn’t see the ocean; instead he’d see more jacaranda flowers filling the sky, as trees on either side reached heavenward and met in the middle. Light purplish-blue blossoms everywhere signaled the first days of summer and the last days of school.


Read more about Mayberry in my novels—Well Oiled and Cyberbully Blues.

Leave a comment

Someone Thinks He’s A Comedian (part of an ongoing series)

Me: Hey, there’s some research that the World Health Organization did. It’s saying that your zip code determines your overall health.

Hubby: Who?

Me: The World Health Organization.

Hubby: Who?

Me: Didn’t you hear me? I said, the…you’re very funny.

Hubby: <giggles>

Me: <eye roll>

Leave a comment

The Bet

For a short period of time, my mother lived in what was called “older adult” housing. That is, apartments for “mature” people, aged 55 and older. In her ‘70′s, my mom certainly fit the requirement.

Basically, folks who lived there were independent. If they required special assistance as time went on they would be given whatever they needed; meals prepared, apartment cleaned, that sort of thing. The ages of the residents ranged from relatively young and active 55 year olds to a few 100 year old spry citizens.

Every once in awhile, someone wouldn’t be seen for a few days and it would come to pass that the person had died in their apartment. This was taken very matter of factly by the residents, who didn’t seem too fazed by it.

I didn’t realize HOW not fazed they were by it until one day when I was visiting my mom. We were talking in the communal dining room. An older gentleman approached us and asked my mom if she wanted in on this month’s “action”. My mom shook her head no and he said “It’s gettin’ up there pretty good, you should think about it.”

After he walked away, I asked my mom “What’s the ‘action’?”

“Oh, these idiots are collecting money for a bet.”

“What bet?”

“They’re betting on who is going to croak next.”

“WHAT?!” I was horrified.

“Shh!! Do you have to be SO loud? Every month you’re supposed to put into the pot ‘x’ number of dollars. And then whoever dies next, if you guessed it, you get all the money. People haven’t been guessing very well, because I heard they have collected over one thousand dollars. Someone is going to make a killing.”


Leave a comment

Someone Thinks He’s A Comedian (an ongoing series)

The hubby and I are on our way to Hollywood for a special tour. Sometimes we like to play tourist and do things that tourists would typically do. It’s fun to see a different side of where we live.

The GPS is taking us the long way around as the tour is on Sunset. The GPS makes us go further north to Hollywood Blvd and then has us come BACK to Sunset. We have the following discussion while I’m navigating Saturday night traffic in Hollywood:

Me: Man, the stupid GPS is taking us the long way ‘round. Why did it do this? We wanna be on Sunset not Hollywood.

Hubby: Doesn’t the Sunset on Hollywood?

Me: No, it doesn’t cross.

Hubby: You didn’t hear what I said.

Me: (irritated while navigating traffic) What?!

Hubby: Doesn’t the SUN SET on Hollywood? (Giggles)

Me: (groan)