Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Drive Time

Just today I was thinking I wanted to do a music blog and was going to put up some music that has had some very special meaning to me lately. I am currently going through a process that is absolutely incredible and nutsy and wonderful and painful all at the exact same time and, as always, I am using music to enhance the process.

Then, I come home to find my good friend in Scotland, indie author and blogger Jamie Tucker Dougan had tagged me in his Wordpress blog with a "Drive Time" theme. 

You don't need to swiftly cosmic-kick my butt twice to get me to take notice. So...without further ado, here are the songs I just burned to disc and put in my car today, driving through the beautiful tree-lined canyons of South Orange County with my windows down, my sunroof open and singing loud and proud and happy for all to hear. 

1. Fallin' For You - Colbie Caillat
What can I say, falling in love with someone isn't so hard. But falling out of love with the one that won't leave my head, my heart or my soul...well...it just won't happen. I fell, and I still haven't been able to get up. Someone call the fire department! Where's John Gage and Roy DeSoto when I need them? (By the way, I couldn't find an "official" video of this, so if you have a link to it, let me know!)




2. I Can't Help Falling In Love With You - Lick The Tins
I think I mentioned this in a previous blog, and if so it deserves repeating. If not, well, it's about damned time. This video's audio is kind of harsh, but again, it's the best video version I saw. This song was featured in the 80's teen romance "Some Kind of Wonderful" and so it goes well with my love of 80s movies and music as well as my affinity for anythin' Eirish. ;) I love this version of the Elvis classic.




3. Animal - Neon Trees
Heh. Here we go again... Love this upbeat, clappy, whimsically sexy tune. It very pop-ishly captures that raw desire to bite someone's neck on your way to the next level. And I also love the essence of Bow Wow Wow's 80s video "I Want Candy" here. I just keep picturing Annabella tromping on sand with a mohawk, singing about candy. (Oi. Sorry about the ad at the beginning, but apparently that's what you get with an "official" video. Crap videos or ads, take your pick.)



3. Madness - Muse
Gad. Muse. #drool. Matthew Bellamy has something in his voice that just taps into the core of sensuality. I think you can see a pattern forming here? I first found Muse through the Twilight movie soundtracks. Sorry, don't hate. The movies might be ack, but the music is awesome. So, thank you Team Jacwardella for the tunes! But back to the madness...the madness of being in love with someone and not understanding why, or how, but you just are and you finally just resoundingly understand it is what it is. That's what this song evokes in me...the madness of loving beyond space and time. 



4. Awake My Soul - Mumford and Sons
This entire song makes my body vibrate. Honestly. That part of the song...right where it slows down...then the guitar picks up and the drum starts pounding...your feet start tapping and your body starts moving and your mouth starts grinning....you can almost feel your heart and soul open up to the sun at the very moment the clouds part. My soul has awakened to an incredible process and this song eloquently describes it. This song has SO much meaning beyond the words. (not an "official video", but official enough to have an ad...but you can skip it quick...so, the best of both worlds I guess.)



5. I Won't Run No More - Social Distortion
Coming from the OC and loving punk music, how could I not be a Social Distortion fan? This song, from their last album "Hard Times and Nursery Rhymes" took a bit for me to get used to, considering the rest of their music portfolio. But it have come to love it. I get the running. And I get the question of being a true romantic or just a fool. And here's hoping the runner stops running like he did a thousand times before.

On another note...I went to the Social D concert in San Diego when this album came out a couple years ago. Went with my dear friend Mark and I miss him terribly and just want him to come home safe and sound so we can rock out to Mr. Ness again. 



6. Home - Phillip Phillips
There is so much of my life of late that this song speaks to. In the years after my separation, I made friends with a bunch of amazing people...some from my high school, some from a spiritual group...they all surrounded me and held me up til I could stand up on my own. They created a safe "HOME" for me to heal and flourish in. My heart and soul thank you. From the perspective of this process I'm currently in, well...settle down, it will all be clear, don't pay no mind to the demons they fill you with fear. This song is an anthem for positive power and love. And I was beating the crap out of my steering wheel at the end of this. I literally WOOOHOOOO'D!!!! out my window in the middle of traffic. What can I say. I have passion.



7. I'm Gonna Be (500 Miles) - The Proclaimers
There is SO MUCH about this song and video that is good. They're Scottish. The video has Benny and Joon clips....what woman wouldn't want a man to proclaim he'd walk a thousand miles just to fall down at her door???? And there's HAVERIN' for God sake. I love this song. I dare you to not smile. Plus, I worked with a guy (John Schaaf...jeez, I still remember his name) that was a dead-ringer for these twins. I think we used to tell him that....a LOT...




8. Gone Gone Gone - Phillip Phillips
Booyah...a twofer with ole Phil. I love his guitar pickin' backed up by killer percussion. And such positive passion. Like Home, this song epitomizes LOVE. And this is what I feel. This song opens my heart right up. I think of couples like my parents who will celebrate 50 years of marriage this year. This is what they are. This is what I want. :) And "long after you're gone" doesn't necessarily mean death...it just means...love will always be present because it just is and always will be and nothing can stop it, not time, nor distance, nor life, nor death..nor circumstances.  Not even an ocean of mountains between us...



9. Brighter than the Sun - Colbie Caillat
Ahhhhh, couldn't let Phil-squared get away with the only two-fer!! Colbie is upbeat, happy, positive. I know, maybe a little too happy but how can too much happy be bad? This song makes me want to dance. And when I am at home or in my car I do....wildly :) and singing as loudly as I can and laughing and clapping all the time. So there. 

Never felt this way before....who am I to tell fate where it's supposed to go?? :)



10. At the Beginning - Richard Marx and Donna Lewis
Ok. I probably will lose a few of you here. And we've slowed it down. I fell in love with this song when I watched the animated movie "Anastasia". But this is the perfect song to end a list that embodies a process of spiritual growth and love that I am going through. This song speaks perfectly about how I feel and the amazing, exciting adventure that is on the horizon. 



This post is dedicated to Em, Thrushes, SRgirl, DC. If anyone gets the "in-between-the-lines
 it's these folk.

And thank you Tommy, for the push to publish drive time. :)


Monday, August 26, 2013

All Hail the End of Augustus!!

I love this time of year. Love, love, love it.

The end of August.

WOOT!!

It means football season is almost in full swing! It means 2 months from now HALLOWEEN will be happening! It means the start of my favorite time of year is gearing up (Halloween then Thanksgiving then CHRISTMAS)! It means a lot of summer items like barbecues and patio benches will be on MAJOR SALE!!

It...

Means...

Back...

To...

SCHOOL!!!!



Aw, Balki and Larry TOTALLY understand.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

To the Beauce and Beyond

I am currently in Quebec, Canada, in the Beauce region doing a press-check for a book my company produced. I love coming here. I was supposed to go to Ireland three years ago but the trip was cancelled due to Iceland exploding and I never made it over the pond. I did, however, have my first international trip shortly thereafter to Quebec, Canada.

If you're going on your first "international" trip and it's to Canada from the United States, it might not seem so international. But if you go to the "old" part of Quebec City, it has the flair and essence (and French-speaking locals) of a typical European village/town. Old Quebec City celebrated 450 years of existence recently; it is the second oldest city in North America. I was also surprised to find there is a great connection between the Quebecois and Irish (after all, they both hated the Brits, so there you have it. There's nothing like bloodthirsty loathing to create a bond), so the spirit of my ill-fated trip to Ireland lived on in the streets of the old town.


The printer my company uses is about an hour from the airport and it's actually closer to Maine than the historical Quebec City. Anything you might picture on a Currier and Ives postcard is alive and well here in the bucolic region of Canada called "The Beauce." Agriculture far outnumbers the industrial plants and there is plenty of breathing space with lovely green rolling hills, wildflowers and farmhouses – there's even a covered bridge or two, and plenty of lakes that you can try to visit as a tourist, but good luck as all the land is privately owned.


I have had the pleasure of traveling to Quebec for business no less than nine times so far, with visits falling in late winter/spring (brrrr), summer (hot and humid) and fall (more brrrr).


So let's start the picture show!! Ready? Let's GO! 



Quebec City is really two "cities" in one.
The historic Old Quebec City is 450+ years old and surrounded by walls such as this.
It was, after all, a fortress town. Today tourists and locals alike lounge on the
expanse of grass lawns that cover what was the Battle of the Plains of Abraham.

A small portion of the Fairmont Chateau Frontenac.
Built in the late 19th - early 20th centuries, the building
served as a meeting ground for Winston Churchill and Franklin D. Roosevelt
to discuss strategies during World War II.

Horse-drawn carriage rides make for a wonderful way to view the upper part of Old Quebec City. 

Awwwww who's the purty horsey?? YOU'RE THE PURTY HORSEY...
YES YOU ARE...yesssyouarrrre.
And me without a carrot...

The lively square in upper Old Quebec...here you find the Tourist Bureau,
restaurants, many government buildings and an occasional Irish Pub.
During the summer artists show off their talents with high price-tags.

A small part of upper Old Quebec city – at the base of the Chateau Frontenac – is undergoing excavations, unearthing relics from soldiers and leaders during the early years of the city.



I would love to tell you what part of the excavation this is. I really would.

Pieces of relics found in the excavations, including a bristle-free toothbrush head,
a key and apparently a lot of dishes.

The tracks of the Funiculaire, a glass elevator that takes you from upper to lower Old Quebec City. It's that or take a gnarly set of stairs...

As you walk the cobbled streets and sidewalks,
you will find wonderful surprises tucked away here and there,
such as this playful statue. 

I love old architecture. This may be no big deal to East Coast residents,
but for this California girl a good old-fashioned brownstone is photo-worthy.

Walk the boardwalk, sit with cannons, feed the birds. All in a day's tour of Old Quebec City.



A courtyard with more cannons. Sit WITH cannons, sit ON cannons, you say tomato I say tomato.
Note to self: Stop forgetting the tomato/tomato thing doesn't work in writing!!!!!

I am not sure I'd want to stay in a hotel with cannons pointed at me.
The old fortress canyons still hold court over the Saint Lawrence Causeway.
And provide wake up calls. "Hello? Front desk? Would you please
send an exploding iron ball to Room 712 at 8:00 a.m. sharp? Mercyboocoop."

Speaking of...the Saint Lawrence Causeway is HUGE.

Le Cochon Dingue (The Dirty Pig). Don't let the name fool you.
I have never had a seafood pot pie so heavenly as the one I ate here. And
no dirty pigs to be seen. Anywhere. So...Go. Eat. Enjoy.

You couldn't get away with having your store named Fuck la Mode in the States.
Which is kind of sad. So, so sad.

Ahhh, the old "detective prive." I wonder if he's the gritty, cigarette flinging, fedora wearing detective prive a la Mickey Spillane or Mike Hammer. Michel Corneau, le detective prive dangereus!!  

I wonder if gritty ol' Mickey Corneau throws back a slug or two while on a case,
grilling low-down shady characters to get 'em to spill the beans, see, takes 'em out back
and roughs 'em up see.... um...in this Irish pub.
Note to self: stop reading gritty ol' detective novels. And definitely stop trying to
sound like Edward G. Robinson.




Oh my, lookey what I found...a beautiful Irish Celtic Cross.
And I thought Iceland ruined my chances of an Irish getaway for good.

Ahhh, now I understand all the Irish pubs...

The cannon courtyard. That's ol' Mickey on the far right...casing a target, blending in with
 over-heated tourists. I'm just kidding. That's just a very warm
old dude who doesn't give a cochon dingue about what anybody thinks.

If you are so inclined to visit Quebec in the winter, it is a beautiful, wondrous place...and you'll find the largest winter carnival here, which I think should be named Le Grand Carnaval en Hiver Fantastique de Wonder or Aventures en Brillant Scintillant Blanc Merveilles du Vieux-Qu├ębec but is called Quebec Winter Carnival. Be sure of two things, especially if you are here in late Winter/Early Spring: Keep one eye above and one eye below at all times. The headache will be worth it.  I learned the lesson the easy way by watching numerous tourists slip on the icy sidewalks or get bombed by snow sliding from rooftops. Thank you fellow travelers for taking those bullets for me. You'll ne'er be forgot!

So...Old Quebec City in winter...

The cannon courtyard in winter.
Remember the old shirtless dude? Those benches were on either side of these doors.
Yeah old shirtless guy, come sit on these benches NOW.  


Icy street with fun shops and the Funiculaire tracks in the background.


Looking back down the street to the cannon courtyard. 
Speaking of formidable....there's the Frontenac...tall, imposing, cold.
Anyone else picturing Jack Nicholson running around with an axe? 

No? 
Okayyyy. 


Just a restaurant with icicles. Watch out, those suckers can be deadly.

Now THAT'S formidable. The Saint Lawrence Causeway in winter. Brrrrr.
Truly, it is an awesome sight.
As for the rest of my trip in Quebec, here are some highlights of the area around my printer's plant. Again, keep in mind I come from Southern California. You can't take a shower without your neighbor knowing about it. Wide open spaces are thin on the ground (literally) or owned by Donald Bren. (I'm not linking to Donald Bren. He doesn't need my help).

The view from the client suite at my printer's plant. That icky ol' building to the
right is actually a tire recycling plant. Canada is BIG on recycling. BIG BIG BIG on it.
That would explain their lack of toilet seat covers in public restrooms.
I guess it's considered a waste of good paper. ACK.
Just another barn on the road...tra la la...IF THEY ONLY KNEW!!
(Says the lady who has lived in a condo for the last 15 years.
Did I mention I can hear my neighbors snoring??)
OHMIGOD I can actually breathe in this country.

Every time I come here, this house is still standing. Against all odds...

The view from my hotel room. Awww, I love St. George!!

So...the photos from my times in Quebec. Ahhhh, the memories...my favorite hotel, le Georgesville, my favorite restaurant, Le Cochon Dingue...my favorite private eye, Mickey Corneau....lots of beautiful shops, architecture, doors (I took a lot of pictures of doors and windows and stuff. It's all explained here...)


Oh, and for my final parting shot:


I should have bought the tank. Because the next one definitely was NOT.
Nor was the next one, nor the next one...
Note to self: Manifest normal boyfriend: buy the tank next time.





Sunday, August 11, 2013

Notes From the Trail Throwback

From my Facebook blog, May 30, 2009. Glad to report I have become a pro at Peter's Canyon. Still haven't gotten to the Camp Pendleton Mud Run. Maybe next year. :)

In January, a friend announced he and his wife signed up to do the Camp Pendleton Mud Run this June. I was all aflutter and wanted to do it too. It got me thinking...if I'm going to do that course, I'd better get in shape. Start training. Stop eating donuts.

That's why I chose to do it next year. That and they were already sold out...secretly I was happy. Now I had a year and a half to get into shape...one hopefully less rounded in nature.


My mother used to take me hiking when I was a child. I had real (meaning expensive) hiking boots and woolly hiker socks found only in specialty stores like REI. Into my mini backpack was crammed lots of health food that was so easy to come by in the mid 70's along with a silver space blanket, whistle, mirror, compass, snake-bite kit and a pack of moleskin. I have vague memories of trail markers, tree limb canopies, and lessons on the local flora and fauna....including the incredible manzanita bush...of Southern California. I later joined the Girl Scouts and added lots of badges and a bigger first aid kit to my backpack. I stopped hiking long, long ago...but did not lose my love of the outdoors (or my near-paranoid need to overpack for a short trek to even a port-a-potty). 

I decided to start "training" for the mud run way back in January. I have been walking 3-4 miles at lunch two or three times a week (um, not so much the last couple weeks), but knew I needed something more challenging than a Rancho Santa Margarita residential neighborhood. I needed to find a trail that I could build my stamina and strength on. Six months after "making the decision," here on the eve of June, I finally hit the trail: Peter's Canyon Regional Park.


I haven't been to Peter's Canyon but once in the 35 year's I've lived in this area. I remember it being a bit hilly, (bwahahahhaha!! Oh, how the mind forgets...) but didn't know how long the trail is. I also did not look it up on the internet nor download a map, I just figured I'd show up, walk around the lake and go home. Break into the trail hiking softly. So, I got my dog, slung a small bag over my shoulder, grabbed my Big Sur walking stick and a small bottle of water and drove to the park. I was ready for adventure! I was totally and cheerfully oblivious!

It is a 5.5 mile up-and-down trail, on which I was the slowest in a sea of freakishly fit humanity constantly passing me by, chatting merrily about their lives as I huffed for air. I hit an uphill climb that I dubbed Death Hill. I'm sure it's not REALLY called that and I'm equally sure I'm not the first to coin that phrase. 
"Death Hill" from below. It looks so innocent from here.
See those little tiny pointy things at the top of the trail?
Those are humans who made it up alive

Death Hill from mid-point. Yes. MID-point.
Of course, having made it this far alive,  and being me, I became a bit full of myself,
taunting those at the bottom, "Go ahead! Try it! TRY IT!  MUAHAHAHAHAHAHAacksplurthack."
Eventually I began audibly exclaiming WHAT THE FUCK in varying degrees of amplitude as each peak lent me a view of only more peaks. And NO carpark in sight. I didn't even know where the hell the carpark was anymore. It could have been on the moon. I had reached the point of no return. No matter what I did, I was going to have to walk. Just keep moving, just keep moving.

So I did. I graciously moved aside for joggers and mountain bikers. I not-so-graciously and silently cursed one jogger as he passed a third time. I swore if I saw him again I'd trip the bastard up. But I rescinded my cruel intention as I'd noticed he was quite good-looking and ring-free and causing face-to-ground impact may not be the best way to meet him. Just a thought.

Two or three hills down, I gratefully met a hiker of MY kind: breathless, sweaty and round in a bright blue shirt clearly chosen to help rescue teams find his body from both ground and air search. Finally, here was someone I could relate to: definitely not a candidate for the cover of "Yuppy Outdoorsmen" or "Perfect OC Hiker Weekly". We smiled, greeted each other with a fatigued "Hey thar...I'm effing out of shape, got a stitch in my side, my heart is about to explode and I hate health freaks" nod. After a short chat and a tip about a cheater's shortcut, Rotund Blueshirt Guy said goodbye and we creaked off in opposite directions.


As I got to the cheater's fork in the road, I chose to forge left – and up AGAIN – to take the full route, knowingly adding another mile and a half to my hike. Thanks to my friend for the advice, but I am a very obstinate person and will usually force myself to see things through to the bitter, blistered end.

Oh, and then....sigh...I got to the 3 mile marker. I pretty much laughed out loud. I thought, this is pitiful. I have so many friends who could do this trail walking backwards on their hands. IN THE SNOW!! Ack. I just kept moving forward.

About a mile later I met up again with Rotund Blueshirt Guy. He told me about a little detour called Creek Trail. What a blessing. It reminded me of those tree-top enclosed trails I walked as a young child. And, amazingly enough, there was actually a creek. Torpid and green, but a creek nonetheless. There were delicate branches of leaves languidly draped from tree to tree, trumpet flowers, palm trees, cacti...and best of all, little wooden bridges that made a comforting hollow thump at each step...a sound that seems to me must have been the norm 150 years ago. Unfortunately I brushed up against something that caused my leg to start stinging. As I peered closely at my injured leg I saw that this mean little bush had defensively inserted minute, hair-like spikes into my skin. Demmit! It wasn't until I tried to remove them that I realized I just hadn't shaved in a few days. Whooops! My bad... * blushes *

In the end, with my tired expression, sweaty face and walking staff that was almost taller than me (that's not saying much), I felt almost biblical as I reached the last peak of my hike and saw my car waiting patiently across the lake! Fraptious joy! Hallelujah! Haven ahead!! Even the dog seemed to sense the end was near and momentarily perked up. But, oh, how that lake mocked us as I saw we had still to walk around it, rather than pay a ferryman to take us across. At least the River Styx gives you a ride to the other side. Damned be damned.

As my dog and I got to the car, we looked at each other tiredly. And that's when I decided I think I'll do this again tomorrow. 

Notes to self from the trail:

• Buy REAL hiking boots.

• No little fake hiking bag slung over shoulder....ANNOYING!! Wear backpack next time.

• More water. LOTS more water. 
• Leave the demmed dog at home next time. What the hell did he ever do to me?
• Joggers are like clowns: They are evil and must be stopped
• Wow! Muslim women like to walk hilly trails and talk on their cellphones. 
• GOAL: Must pass grey-haired people. (*Old farts. Healthy old farts. Healthy, grey-haired faster-than-me old farts!!*)
• Put some leather on that walking stick. OUCH.
• Try eating BEFORE going on a 5.5 mile hike. It'll do wonders for ya.
• Find space-blanket, whistle, compass, mirror, snake-bite kit and moleskin pack...just for old-time's sake.

Have a Snack for Humanity Blessed My Soul

Yesterday I was very grateful to be a part of a small group of people with HUGE hearts and the skills and ability and ambition to help those who are beyond "less fortunate"– the people of Skid Row in Los Angeles – by handing out food as part of Have a Snack for Humanity. As I kneeled on the stained sidewalk in front of the Union Rescue Mission, furiously dropping bags of chips into plain brown paper bags and passing the bags on to the water bottle guys (who furiously dropped the bottles in and passed them down the line to the sandwich guys, and so on), I was only dimly aware of my surroundings or the scurry of feet belonging to bodies which had not been nourished in many hours. Or days, possibly. We worked fast and when we were done we got in our cars and we left. It took about 30 minutes once we hit the ground with the assembly to get almost 400 bags of food passed out.

But let me back up a few weeks. 

One night, about a month ago, I was sitting next to my lovely friend Robin who had a list of events and service-oriented groups she is involved in and need volunteers for. I had just recently been unceremoniously dumped by a boyfriend and needed to get out of myself so I said, "Put me down for Friday night shift 6-9." I had no real idea what the job was about, I just knew I'd be serving food to musicians at a benefit concert. Good enough for me. 

And so, this is how God works in my life. That spontaneous decision led to meeting Geoff, the guy behind Dad's Bar BQ, and the guy in charge of smokin' up some mean pork for killer pulled pork sandwiches being handed out to hungry musicians and roadies and friends and family of said music folk. Geoff is such a great guy, and the man has a smoker the likes of which I have only seen on The Travel or Food Channels. I also met Dave and other friends of Geoff's, and there were people I knew that Robin had rounded-up...it was so much fun that I went back to help out the next day.

It was that weekend that I realized that one of the "things" I do best...one of the things that makes me so happy...is to serve people. I absolutely love getting behind the scenes, meeting people, bantering with them and helping in some way. So when I texted Geoff and said I'm in for your next gig, whatever it is, he said, "I'm going to Skid Row, want to go?" and I just said yes. I made arrangements for my kids and said I'd meet him, Robin and some of my new friends at the appointed time and place.

That place was in a church in Lakewood, off Del Amo Blvd. There were bags and bags of sandwich rolls, boxes of chips and cases of water. We all donned gloves, readied the foil and in some great miracle of time and space where like hearts gather we came together in an assembly line and prepped buns, piled on pulled pork, rolled sandwiches in foil and filled two HUGE ice chests with almost 400 sandwiches. 
Robin and I prep our buns. :)
All photos by Dave Summers for Have a Snack for Humanity.
While we prepped the sandwiches, one of the helpers – a tall, beautiful, blonde, pre-teen girl – explained to me how she liked volunteering for things like this. She told me that her father had died and when she went to grief counseling she was so inspired by the experience, she told her counselor she wanted to volunteer there when she was old enough. Her counselor immediately signed her up as a junior volunteer to work with kids her age who have lost a parent.

In the frenzy of assembly I was momentarily stunned – and humbled – to be in the presence of such a beautiful and gracious child, sadly wiser by terrible experience but so willing to pass on what she had learned in her process.

(Then there is Shawn....the son of my wonderful friend Robin, a little boy (little man, I should say) who was in the midst of it all throughout the day just going where he needed to be, doing, wrapping, stuffing, handing out, smiling...he, too, is a soul I am blessed to know.)

And yet, the pace was so fast there was no time for long pause or reflection, just chitchat and food prepping.

Quite soon, the filled chests, water and chips were thrown into three vehicles. Our caravan, packed with people and sustenance, hopped on the congested freeway which eventually bore us into the throes of extreme poverty. 

People lined the streets, meager possessions in shopping bags, carts...some had planted themselves against hard, concrete buildings on the unforgiving and ugly sidewalk in makeshift tents. Some were grouped together....family? Safety? Some wandered. Some talked to no one. Some stared at us, some stared through us. But no matter how sad it seemed to my eyes, my soul saw and felt the crackling energy of humanity. I somehow looked past the stained clothes and the smell of remnants – bodily remnants, trash remnants – and felt that energy. These people lived in this way, this was their life, I was merely a brief visitor. This was their home, I was part of a group of men and women who just wanted to visit and bring a gift.

We had been briefed about what to do. Geoff has been doing this awhile. But this was the first time he did this under his new non-profit Have A Snack For Humanity. He and Robin teamed up and put their heads together...he's got the cooking and pitch skills and Robin has been doing non-profit service work for a long, long time and she's got the ins and outs of contacts and what to do. They both have hearts as big as the Universe and I strive to be a fraction as selfless as they are.

So, Geoff had us get out, quickly conversed with some Mission folk, got some security on our side, and as the group got into assembly formation, opening bags, filling bags and handing bags out, the crowd of people grew. 
The volunteer assembly line.
Being down on the ground, so focused on the task at hand, I didn't get a feel for what was going on until a little girl, not even 5 years old, quietly came up beside me and tried to grab a bag of chips. I looked at her, took her hand, led her to Geoff and he gave her a complete lunch in her own brown paper bag. I don't know where she went, whose daughter she was, but I didn't have time to process the information as I got back to my station and continued til all the food was gone. 

The moment the last bag was handed out, we packed the emptied containers into the vehicles, and got in to take off. It was then I had a chance to look at the faces of the men and women and children, each holding a brown paper bag, two if they were fortunate. There was an old man sitting up against the wall, half eaten sandwich in his hand, his jaw working the food, his eyes closed. He had a look of contentment. He had also been given a bag of clothes by one of the volunteers. There was a group of woman, reusable store bags slung over shoulders in ill-fitting clothes, standing in a circle, eating their food, chatting, smiling. A guy, younger than me...still looking pretty healthy but lost...just lost...I gave him an extra bag before we left. As we drove away one bag was gone and he was working on the second. His eyes were closed too, but I didn't see contentment there. I saw pain. Or regret. Or maybe just the pain of gratitude for a free meal. 

Food and clothes = ok for now.
Glad for the meal.
Most of the people smiled as we left. Some tried to come to the truck to get more food. They were so gracious when we said "no more...next month." They waved. They blessed us. I felt so inadequate. So unworthy of their blessings. And so grateful for their kindness to me. Because I had come from my well furnished home in Orange County, come in my new car, in my new clothes, with my nifty prescription glasses and dropped chips in bags. That was it. Then we were gone.


Geoff and a grateful new friend







It wasn't until I saw the photos of what happened...the group of us...most of us strangers to each other, working together – and seeing our group's interaction with the homeless and hungry – that I started to cry. To see little kids, families, the absolute gratitude for a simple meal...I cried because I was enveloped in feelings of extreme gratitude for my life and for the beauty of the souls in Skid Row and for God leading me to an amazing group of people with whom I wish to do this again and again. And get to know them all better. I want to do this because it puts me in touch with humanity at its best and lowest. A meeting of worlds where the collision sparks something good.

Have A Snack For Humanity is a spark of light in a world where we constantly get reminded of the darkness. Geoff, David, Robin and all the others gave me that much needed soul interaction where I realize my true purpose as a soul living in this body on this Planet is to love as much and as best I can and to try to show that love as often as possible. HSH is a way to show that love. I am so thankful.
This is a little slice of awesomeness right here. A group
I hope to get closer with soon.
Many of my friends and readers know I'm not a religious person, but this is beyond religion, orientation, race, creed...this isn't about politics or false humility...how much or how little money you or I have. This isn't about pointing fingers or blaming people for this country's problems. This is not about anything other than simply helping out some who need it. If you are so led to connect, click the link here: Have a Snack for Humanity. Or contact me through this blog and I will get you in touch with Geoff or Robin.

Please, if you read this far, hit the #1 and/or share this with whomever you wish. The best way we can help is if we are helped by others and the best way to do that is let everyone know HSH is here.