Catalina: Hamilton Cove, Glenmore Plaza Hotel and the ‘Other Side’

by Bob Sparrow

photo (89)Twenty-thirteen portends to be an unusual year for me, perhaps even paranormal, what with all the ‘other side’ things that helped usher in a year with a 13 in it.  No, I’m not superstitious, but like Michael Scott, I am a little ‘stitious’.  While most New Year’s days I’ve watched the sun set into the Pacific Ocean somewhere along the ‘left coast’, this year I welcomed in the new year on the ‘other side’ watching the sun coming up over the Pacific from Hamilton Cove on Catalina Island – truly a unique experience.  OK, truth is there haven’t been too many years when I’ve even seen the sun on New Year’s Day, but that’s another story.

If you’ve never been there, Hamilton Cove looks like it belongs on the ‘other side’ of the Atlantic, perhaps on a Greek island coastline or hanging somewhere off the Amalfi Coast in Italy.  I suppose if you have been there, it still looks that way, but as if getting away from it all in Catalina wasn’t enough, several of us wanted to get away from the people who wanted to get away from it all – to the ‘other side’ of Catalina.  I discovered that Catalina is a little like the moon, in that most people only see one side, although I can tell you now from experience, that the ‘other side’ of Catalina is not dark . . . photo (95)unless you go at night, then it’s really dark.  Like the moon, it’s not easy to get to the ‘other side’ of Catalina, you have to have a pass that gets you through the gate on the road to the ‘other side’ that goes through the infamous ‘Airport in the Sky’, Catalina’s private airport where planes don’t really take off from the runway, the runway simply drops out from under them after several thousand feet and, presto, they’re airborne.

glenmore plaza hotelWe were fortunate to be in the company of one Michael Amoroso, whose family has lived on the island for over twenty years and owns and operate the Glenmore Plaza Hotel, ‘the second oldest continuously operating hotel in California’, so says Michael’s brother, Jimmy, who manages the hotel.  I thought it odd that a hotel in this relatively remote location would have such a distinction so I asked Jimmy Jr., Jimmy’s son who works at the hotel, “Whose #1?”  He replied like someone who’d studied hotel history his entire life, “The Hotel del Coronado.”  I decided to see what Google had to say on the matter:

  • ‘Oldest hotel in California’ – the Benicia in northern California – est. 1852
  • ‘One of the oldest hotels in California’ – Murphy’s in the gold country – est. 1856
  • ‘One of the oldest continuously operating hotels in Calif’ – National Hotel (also in the gold country) – est. 1859
  • ‘Largest resort hotel in the world’ – Hotel del Coronado – est. 1888
  • ‘Second oldest hotel in California’ – so stated on Google about the Glenmore Plaza Hotel, but it doesn’t say who’s first or when the Glenmore was established.  Wikipedia probably got their information from Jimmy Jr. too.

I also found on Google a picture with a caption that said, ‘Second oldest hotel in California’ – it was not a picture of the Glenmore.

Meanwhile, back on the road to ‘the other side’, just before reaching the airport we see a buffalo standing alongside the road.  I’ll tell you the photo (92)history of how buffalo got on the island . . . another time.  After a brief stop at the airport, we start down on the western slope of the island; the paved road turns to dirt.  We drive past El Rancho Escondido, a ranch, Michael tells us, started by the Wrigley family back in the ‘30s for breeding Arabian horses – another story too long to tell here.  We also pass a vineyard – yes, another story.  The road leads us to a west coast inlet called ‘Little Harbor’, where there is no man-made harbor, but a small campgrounds and no campers, no nothing except a beautiful uncluttered coastline, which is pretty much what all of the ‘other side’ of Catalina is.  We walked along the beach on this beautiful January day and enjoyed the fresh air, sunshine and solitude.

little harborOur return to civilization is uneventful except for the stories Michael tells us of the ghosts that   inhabit the island.  Back in Avalon we thank Michael for exposing us to the many stories and sides of Catalina, particularly ‘the other side’.

 

 

 

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LOOKING BACK FOR NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTIONS

by Bob Sparrow

Happy new year 2013 Thank you to my sister, Suzanne for introducing me to the idea of the ‘upside down bucket list’, for it was that concept that has inspired me to look at New Year’s resolutions differently.  Like many, I typically resolve to be a better spouse, parent, friend . . . person and include the requisite increase in exercise and consumption of much healthier food resulting in a painfully slow, if ever, decrease in weight.  Like many, I also have a bucket list of places I want to visit and things I want to do and resolutions always include checking off a few of those items during the ensuing year.  While resolutions and bucket lists look great in late December, reality seems to find its way into the new year and render many, if not most, of our resolutions unattainable.

 So this year, rather than ‘dream’ about the places I’d like to go in 2013, I thought I’d do the ‘upside down thing’ and look back at 2012 and review what I’d done and where I’d actually been.  Then, rather than be disappointed at not doing or getting to the places I resolved to get to, I’d be able to just ‘grade’ myself based on what I’d done and where I’d gone and hopefully put a few checks on that big bucket list.

Twenty-twelve will not be marked in my memory by the many places I visited or the life I led, but rather by the life I lost – the passing inscan0041 February of my best friend, Don Klapperich.  For more than 50 years he was a best friend, a mentor, a singing partner, a moral compass, a confidant, the little voice in my head and so much more.  He was a most talented, intelligent, entertaining and complex man.  He knew me better than anyone and I knew him as much as anyone could.  I miss him dearly.  I regret not spending more time with him, not talking to him more on the phone, not emailing as often as I could have, not going to visit more often.  I suppose it’s natural to now have a better understanding of the tenuousness of life; to better appreciate each day we’re given and to not take those around us for granted.  I don’t know if it’s a resolution, but I will try harder to remember these things – they have become more important to me.

Those who have followed our blog know that I’ve had the privilege of going to some wonderful places this year.  In January I was in Hawaii, on the Big Island to watch the PGA Senior’s golf tournament at Hualalai and then on to Maui to play golf and just watch some sunsets at Wailea.  I had a much too up-close and personal look at ‘senior living’ at my mom’s facility in Sonoma and while I was in the area I hiked through historical Jack London State Park in the rolling hills of Glen Ellen.  I traveled across country on business to Sunriver, Oregon, Minneapolis, Minnesota, Holyoke, Massachusetts and I HAD to return to the island of Kauai to attend a conference.  I lived on a boat in the harbor in Cabo San Lucas for three days while not photo (77)catching a single fish, but I did get to hang upside down at the Giggling Marlin.  I spent a week in our timeshare in Palm Desert for the 18th year in a row and hope I can play another 18.  I revisited the differences between northern and photo (74)southern California as I returned to the palm and pine trees on Highway 99 out of Fresno, and I spent several days not quite 26 miles across the sea on Catalina Island.  I thought I saw John Lennon at the Laguna Sawdust Festival, twice!  I stood at the lowest point on the North American continent in surprisingly stunning Death Valley, and I stood on top of Half Dome in not-so-surprisingly stunning Yosemite National Park.  And I had my annual martini with my Dad in his final resting place at Lake Tahoe.

That’s an upside down list that I may have a hard time topping in 2013.  I feel so very privileged to be afforded the opportunities to experience all that I have in 2012 and I know I was privileged to have such a great best friend for over 50 years.  It was a memorable year in so many ways. I recommend looking back at your year and the only resolution I would make is that in a year from now you’re going to look back at 2013 – make it memorable.

I know I speak for my dear friend and wonderfully talented sister, which she doesn’t often let me do because she can speak so well for herself, in thanking all of you who read our blog and especially those who send us back comments to let us know our words don’t all end up in cyber space.  May you all have an extraordinary 2013.

 

And now a word from our sponsor

Most of you know I’m now working for Zipz Gear, a unique shoe company, but may not know that I am now writing a ‘shoe blog’ called ‘From the Lipz of Zipz’.  You can find the blog by going to our website at www.zipzgear.com.  Feel free to check out the shoes while you’re there.

 

THE UGLY CHRISTMAS SHIRT

By Suzanne Sparrow Watson

Note:  The shooting in Newtown, CT. is foremost on my mind this week and ordinarily I might comment on it.  But others have and will continue to write much more eloquently than me on the subject.  And frankly, I still get too choked up thinking about it.  So I’ve decided to stay within my wheelhouse and hopefully bring a much-needed laugh or at least the glimmer of a smile to you today.
mens ugly shirtLast week I lamented to my husband that our Christmas tree is looking a bit forlorn this year.  There is barely a present under its boughs – it looks like Whoville after the Grinch stole all the presents.  The problem?  Gift cards.

Our tree used to be overflowing with beautiful packages – glimmering paper, bright shiny bows and the occasional gift bag.  Now – we have a few meager looking gifts and many, many envelopes.  I get it – there is a certain practicality to gift cards.  It’s easy for us to shop, the recipients get exactly what they want, and hopefully, they can take advantage of the after-Christmas knock-downs.     Prices, not fist fights.

But buying gift cards has all the  joie de vivre of taking the car in for service.  Most every company’s card can be purchased while picking up parsnips at Safeway or cough medicine at Walgreens.  I still think there is nothing as satisfying as finding exactly the right present for someone and watching their face light up as they open it on Christmas morning.  But I also recognize that sometimes things go terribly wrong. We have had “train wrecks” galore in our family all springing from the good intentions of our mother.

Well into her 90’s, despite years of our protestations, each Christmas she insisted on giving a shirt to every adult family member.  To give benefit to the doubt, let’s just say that at her age, she does not exactly have her finger on the pulse of current fashion.  Or anything that even hints of fashion in the last 30 years.  Each Christmas she would lovingly select quite possibly the worst shirts ever made – colorful geometric or wild prints for the guys and sequins or some sort of farm animal motif for the women.  Over the years we could have won Oscars for our performance while opening these gifts.  And when it was our turn to open “the shirt” our siblings and their spouses would be in the corner trying to hold in the laughter as we artfully “oohed” and “aahed” our way through with as much sincerity as we could muster.

One year she so outdid herself in her selection of my nephew Matt’s shirt that my nephew-in-law, Colin, declared that it was, in fact, The Ugliest Shirt on Earth.  After peals of laughter and a dare to wear it in public, the shirt went into hiding.  Matt is a man who knows that revenge is best served cold; he re-gifted the shirt to Colin on his birthday in July, when he was least expecting it.  Colin, in turn, wrapped it up beautifully the following Christmas and re-gifted it back to Matt.  Over the years, the shirt has been hidden in expensive wine containers, golf ball boxes, and rolled up into Christmas stockings.  But the sine qua non, was when Colin, who is British, sent the shirt to his parents in England who put it in a local department store box and sent it Fed Ex to an unsuspecting Matt at his office.

Which all goes to prove that even the worst of gifts can provide years of amusement.  Just try doing that with a gift card.

HOLIDAY TRAVEL

by Bob Sparrow

holiday car    No, this isn’t the counterpoint to my last post on all that is good about air travel.  In fact one of the reasons I have such a positive attitude towards air travel is that I don’t travel during the holidays.  Whoever created the phrase, ‘holiday travel’ took the fun out of two of my favorite words.  I love the holidays and I love to travel, but together you’ve got the beginnings of ‘the nightmare before Christmas’.  If you’re trying to fly somewhere the nightmares feature things like delayed flight, missed connections, lost luggage, sitting on an airplane next to a guy with reindeer breath and practicing your ‘Just what I wanted’ expression when you get that battery operated recycled toilet paper dispenser.  If you’re driving, the nightmares are about jammed freeways, road rage, kids screaming “Are-we-there-yet?” and the practicing of, “They just fit” when trying on those new glow-in-the-dark plastic socks.

     Gone are the days when we could just go over the river and through the woods toover the river grandmother’s house and enjoy some of her homemade Chocolate Chip cookies.  Today grandma lives in a downtown, high-rise condo, six hours away where parking is limited and expensive – and the cookies are gluten-free.

     Holiday travel, indeed.  Shouldn’t there be a term for ruining two perfectly good words by juxtaposing them?  I’m sure there are lots of similar two-word combinations that shouldn’t be joined.  Here’s one that immediately comes to mind; the word ‘love’ is one of the best words around and ‘child’ is also a great word, but put them together and you’ve got . . . a bastard!  Shouldn’t there be a name for these kinds of words, I mean paired words like ‘Civil war’ or ‘jumbo shrimp’ are oxymorons, so maybe we name words like ‘love child’ and ‘holiday travel’ oxybastards.

     How could they do that to two such beautiful words?  Etymologically speaking, the word holiday is derived from the words ‘Holy Day’, so the term originally had religious connotations, but today it seems that the closest any holiday comes to religion is when Travelersomeone says, ‘Thank God I don’t have to go to work today” or “Can you believe this god-awful traffic?.”  Holiday actually is a . . . never mind, what I really wanted to talk about was ‘travel’, because today in the mail I received the National Geographic Traveler magazine featuring their 2nd Annual Best of the World – 20 Must-See Places for 2013 – great reading for a raining Sunday afternoon where I can reverse the aforementioned oxybastard and dream about and plan a ‘travel holiday’.  There now, doesn’t that sound much better?

     I rarely think of those two words, no matter what the order, and not think of Bob Hope traveling half way around the world every Christmas to entertain our troops.  He started during World War II when he island-hopped throughout the south Pacific in 1944 to the tune of some 30,000 miles while performing over 150 USO shows.  He travel to KoreaBob Hope troops during that war (Sorry, conflict) and did shows in Viet Nam every Christmas from 1964 to 1972.  He also did Christmas performances during Desert Storm (1990-91) for the troops in Iraq and the Persian Gulf.  Bob Hope was a ‘holiday traveler’ for 50 years, going wherever our troops were stationed.  Now it wasn’t all toil and drudgery, he typically traveled in a troupe that included the likes of Ursula Andress, Anne Margaret, Carroll Baker and Raquel Welch, which for those too young to remember those beauties, today it would be like  having to spend Christmas with Scarlett Johansson, Halle Berry, Charlize Theron and Salma Hayek.  Hope was known to crack, “I bring them along to remind the boys what they’re fighting for.”

 christmas-afghanistan-2011    There is no place like home for the holidays, but those who will travel and perhaps experience ‘holiday travel’ nightmares before Christmas, might be well-served to remember when you’re flight is delayed or the traffic is backed up and even when you receive that re-gifted fruit cake, Bob Hope’s amazing sacrifice during a time when he most wanted to be home and today’s service men and women all over the world who will be home for the holiday only in their dreams.

WALKING IT OFF

By Suzanne Sparrow Watson

As my brother so accurately wrote last year, Thanksgiving is our family’s favorite holiday.  After all, we are related to five of the 17 families that came over on the Mayflower.  After I discovered this bit of history I deluded myself into thinking that our DNA is hard-wired to love the holiday commemorating them.  But the cold, hard truth is that we love this holiday because we love to eat.

We are all big eaters in our family.  There is never an “old maid” left on the  hors d’oeuvre tray and “thirds” are for the light eaters.  We are the family that inspired expandable waistbands.  We do have standards – we do not eat jellied cranberry sauce and no one belches at the table.  So far.

And yet we are not so slovenly that we have no self-respect.  No sir, we are all pretty good about exercise and trying to stay in shape.  For years I wore a pedometer to ensure that I walked 10,000 steps every day.  So in anticipation of Thursday’s annual bacchanal, I went to walk.about.com which has a handy little feature that lets you check all the food you’ll eat on Thanksgiving and then covert it to calories.  I thought that could be an interesting exercise, forgetting that when it comes to food, ignorance is bliss.

A glass of wine?  Check.  A celery stalk stuffed with bleu cheese?  Why not?  Okay, I’ll opt for one cracker with a slice of Stilton.  How much could that add?  On I went, from the turkey to the mashed potatoes to the requisite green bean casserole .  My total calorie count? 3,365!!!!

Then the intrusive, vindictive, people-with-too-much-time-on-their-hands snoops at walk.about.com felt the need to let me know with laser-like precision exactly how many miles and steps it would take me to burn off all those calories.  Turns out I need to walk 34 miles or 67,300 steps to wear off my dinner.  From a scheduling standpoint,  I need to cram 6 1/2 days of walking into Thursday.  If I start walking in downtown San Francisco I couldn’t stop until I reached Santa Clara. Fortunately Stanford Medical Center is on the way – perhaps I could drop in for a gastric bypass.

But here’s the worst part, I lied when I took the test.  One cracker with cheese?  I so frequently hog the snack table that my family nickname is “Hoover lips”.  I consider mashed potatoes to be health food and, frankly, I think it insulting to the cook if I pass on all the pies and whipped cream.  Even though the “cook” is Costco.  My real calorie count is probably north of  6,000.

So when everyone gathers on Thanksgiving to eat, watch football and talk about the nation’s pending financial crisis, I will sadly find no room for compromise.  Despite the obvious risks and danger, I will be jumping off the caloric cliff.

Veteran’s Day

 by Bob Sparrow

     If you’re reading this on Monday morning it may have just reminded you that yesterday was Veteran’s Day.  If you’re reading this after Monday, you may have just been reminded that you missed Veteran’s Day – it’s easy to do.  I’m going to give our blog followers the benefit of the doubt and assume that they were well-aware of the holiday because if you’re reading our blog then you’re among the most intelligent people on the planet.  I don’t know about you, but I heard more than once over the weekend things like, “Is Monday a holiday, what is it Columbus Day or something?”  Veteran’s Day is probably our least known about and remembered federal holiday.   Why is that?  How has it become so easy to marginalize a day that we all should remember and celebrate?

     The history of Veteran’s Day perhaps lends itself to its enigmatic reputation.   The holiday was created as a celebration of an armistice signed between the Allies and Germany at the end of World War I in 1918 at the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month, thus Veteran’s Day is November 11th.  However, the Treaty of Versailles, officially ending the war, wasn’t signed until June 1919, but our government didn’t let the facts of history get in the way of the creation of a new federal holiday.

     When I recently asked people to explain Veteran’s Day, they mostly said something like, it’s a day to celebrate our veterans.  I think the name gave it away.  When I ask them what they are going to do to celebrate, they usually just looked at me funny and said, “Celebrate?”  Some will say solemnly something like “We’ll celebrate by remembering those who gave their lives for our country.”  I’m tempted to remind them that that is Memorial Day, but I don’t.  After hearing a lot of confusion about this holiday, I decided to compare Veteran’s Day with other holidays in terms of how we celebrate them or what is associated with them and see if there wasn’t some way to get Veteran’s Day on the same level as some of our more ‘popular’ holidays.

        •  Martin Luther King Day – recognizing civil rights
        • Valentine’s Day – flowers, candy, dinner for your ‘sweetheart’
        • St. Patrick’s Day – wearing green and drinking
        • Easter – going to church, hunting for eggs, eating ham
        • Memorial Day – remembering out fallen warriors
        • 4th of July – fireworks, barbecue, parades
        • Labor Day – celebrate the worker, last barbecue of the summer
        • Halloween – scary costumes and candy
        • Thanksgiving – turkey and football
        • Christmas/Chanukah – religious, food and gift giving
        •  New Year’s – drinking and making resolutions that we never keep

      So it would seem that in order to make Veteran’s Day more popular, like our other holidays, we need to create more customs around it like traditional garb and food.  Perhaps on Veteran’s Day we should all dress in camo gear and pop open a can of c-rations to feast on.  It also might be nice to commit to memory the words of Alan Alexander, who said, “A veteran is someone who at some point in his or her life writes a blank check to the United States of America in an amount up to and including the loss of his or her life.”

     Thank you to all who have served – we owe you a great deal.

WE’RE BACK WITH THE NEWS WITH THE RED, WHITE AND BLUES

Headlines:  What we need is some Purple Haze. 

This week we’ll celebrate the founding of our nation,

When our white-haired Founding Fathers fought the British for cessation.

Somehow we think they’d be appalled to see our red – blue divisions,

With politicians who can’t compromise and use polls to make decisions.

Money:   Beware of unintended consequences. 

The markets are red-hot but we’re still wary of Wall Street,

With one squawk from Europeans they could begin a big retreat.

We’ve already seen white papers written about the health care decision,

And we now have the blues – is a new tax what we envisioned?

Sports:  The good, the bad, and the downright awful. 

Phelps and Lochte competed in blue waters at the Olympic trials,

And Missy Franklin was a phenom with her red nails and flawless style.

Jeneba Tarmoh  raised the white flag and won’t make the Olympic team,

And poor Nastia Liukin fell twice, not quite the ending that she’d dreamed.

Life:  We wonder what L. Ron Hubbard has to say about this?

After five long years of posing Katie Holmes shook off the blues,

Secretly filing to end her “marriage” to her red-faced mate, Tom Cruise.

On Saturday Alec Baldwin’s bride looked resplendent in glittery white,

And sighed relief that Alec didn’t engage the priest in a fist fight.

FOR THOSE WHO SERVE AT HOME – Part Two

By Suzanne Sparrow Watson

I left you in Part One with military spouses and prostitutes – quite the juxtaposition.  So let me continue …

One of the most moving and emotional parts of the Coming Home series is when the service member walks down the tarmac.  Spouses dissolve into tears and as they bury their heads on each other’s shoulders you can see their relief.  Relief that the soldier is home safely and relief that, at least for the foreseeable future, they will be a united family unit again.

But the real story of the hardships of military life lie with the children.  During the set up for the surprise homecoming,  Matt Rogers  spends time talking with the children in the family.  These interviews offer a very sobering view of the sacrifices these kids make.  Most of them are mature beyond their years.  They have to be.

They see other children on their base receive news that a parent has died or been severely injured.  With one parent gone these children learn to be more self-reliant, older siblings step up to take care of younger ones, and at important occasions in their life they are forced to acknowledge the reality that their mother or father will not be in attendance.

Birthdays and graduations are the events mentioned most often, but if one listens carefully to what the children confide to Matt you can tell that their parent is missed most in the smaller moments.  A son wants to share with his dad that he made the basketball team, a daughter is starting school and her mom is not there.  Parents are missed when kids are tucked into bed at night or when they come home from school with hurt feelings and need some comforting.

So when the Coming Home surprise unfolds and the children learn that the clown at the circus is their dad or the person in the ump outfit at the ballgame is their mom, it is one of the best moments on TV.  Shock and disbelief are their first reactions, but then as they are wrapped in their parent’s arms something else happens.  Most of these children begin to cry.  Not normal “happy tears”.  They shut their eyes and sob so hard that they can’t catch their breath.  And in that instant you see all that they’ve been bravely holding in for so long:  the worry, the absence, all the missed small moments.  We know it’s coming every episode, and yet we cry every time.

Given how tremendous this program is, we were taken aback by the Lifetime Channel’s decision to replace it with a show about prostitution.  Believe me, I have nothing against sex and I do realize the communal bar has been set pretty low for what passes for entertainment these days.  But to suspend a show that pays tribute to the unacknowledged heroes among us with a show about a madam ….that is substrata stuff.

Apparently there are a lot of other people who feel as we do and have barraged Lifetime with emails calling them everything from pond scum to unpatriotic.  Surprisingly, the “suits” at Lifetime listened.  Coming Home will be returning to their line-up on May 30, the real Memorial Day.  If you want an hour of TV that will make you humble, proud and appreciative of your small moments, I encourage you to tune in.  I guarantee you won’t regret it.

FOR THOSE WHO SERVE AT HOME – Part One

By Suzanne Sparrow Watson

There will be lots of news coverage this week about Memorial Day.  Unfortunately, most of it will be about hot dog recipes, furniture sales and half-off  underwear at the department store.  Few people remember that before 1971, Memorial Day was always observed on May 30.  Then Congress got in the act, declared it to be the “last Monday in May” and – voila! – the three-day weekend was born.  Now many Americans view Memorial Day as the kick-off to summer versus a time to reflect on those who have served our country and lost their lives.

So this week we want to pay tribute not only to those who have died, but to those who serve without much recognition – military families.  A couple of years ago we stumbled on a television program that puts the spotlight on these families and in the process, gave some perspective to our lives.  It’s called Coming Home.

I’m sure you’ve seen bits on the news about returning service people who surprise their kids by showing up at school or a ball game. Who doesn’t get choked up watching them?  Coming Home  includes some of these reunions but it goes one step further: they work with one service person and his/her spouse to plan an elaborate homecoming to surprise their children.  Often times whole cities get involved to throw a parade or professional sports teams lend a  hand to the cause.

Matt Rogers hosts the show and does in-depth interviews with the spouse and children of the returning service person.  And it is during this portion of the show that we are reminded that we really don’t have any problems.

The spouses of deployed service people have to be and do everything for their children:  supervising homework, ferrying kids to music lessons, attending sporting events or dance recitals, and being the shoulder to cry on when something goes wrong .  They must run the household singlehandedly, managing repairmen and maintenance, keeping everything running smoothly.  The financial hardship alone is stressful for many of these families, and most of all, they’re just plain lonely.  Add to all of that the constant worry for the safety of their loved one and it makes for a pretty difficult way of life.

It is truly a humbling experience to watch this program.  So you can imagine my surprise when I learned that Coming Home went off the air.  Replaced by a series about prostitution. Honest.

Stay tuned for Part Two where we’ll write about the brave children in military families and the fate of Coming Home.  Same time, same channel, on Friday.

Welcome to ‘A Bird’s Eye View’

     Yes, you’re in the right place; you don’t have a virus; well, maybe you do, but that’s a whole different subject.  This is Morning News in Verse and you are either receiving this in your email (thank you subscribers, we love you) or are getting it through Facebook (we love you too, but it’s more like a puppy love).  Due to an increasingly diminishing number of requests, we’ve made a decision to change our format from mostly verse and some prose to mostly prose and some verse.  Our number of ‘hits’ tell us that it’s what you would prefer as well.

     We’ll still make fun of the Headlines, Money, Sports and Life, but only occasionally; rather, we’ll proffer samples of ‘A Bird’s Eye View’ of life-observations.  Sometimes our observations will be from the road, usually the one less traveled, and sometimes they will be from just around the corner.  Sometimes we’ll write about insignificant, Andy Rooney-kinds of things and other times we’ll offer observations on this process of growing older, but not necessarily up.

So let’s start with our new name, ‘A Bird’s Eye View’; it is, of course, a play on words of the name Sparrow, but it also has some family history to it.  In 1940 our parents moved to Novato, a small, northern California town, where our father, Jack (yes, Jack Sparrow, but no relation to Johnny Depp) bought the Novato Advance, a local, weekly newspaper, and at 26 became the youngest newspaper publisher in California.  It was truly a ‘Mom and Pop’ business – our dad hand-set the type and operated the printing presses while our mom, who could also operate a pretty mean linotype machine, attended the town meetings to gather the local gossip, or news as she called it.  She also spiced up the paper by chronicling the comings and goings of Novato’s social elite, such as they were.  Those familiar with small town newspapers know what we’re talking about.  Jim and Mabel Cranston were visited on Sunday by Mabel’s sister, Iris from Ukiah; she brought an apple pie – Jim had seconds.  Our mother originally called her column, A Little Bird Told Me and later changed it to A Bird’s Eye View.  When we recently asked her about why she changed the name, she first said, “Who are you two?”  At 93, we forgave her for not remembering the details of a newspaper column from nearly 70 years ago.  Our theory is this: etymologically speaking, ‘A Little Bird Told Me’ sounds like second-hand information, like we’re not sure if this is true, but we heard from someone that yadda, yadda, yadda. ‘A Bird’s Eye View’, on the other hand, seems to suggest more of a first-hand, optimum perspective of things.  Our mother could neither confirm nor deny our theory.

However the name came about, we’ve decided that it’s ours and we’re bringing it out of retirement.  We hope you enjoy our new direction.