San Bernardino, California, USA
October 23
Former Beatnik, former hippie, always bohemian and joyfully married and retired in San Bernardino, California.


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MAY 26, 2011 8:05PM

Rosies California Dream

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mickeyMickey contemplating the view from our balcony in Anaheim.

 Flying over palm trees as our plane descends for our landing at LAX after our trip to New York, I find I am very happy to be coming back to what I now realize is home.  As we near the final year of Thomas’s three year MFA program we must once again face the reality of another move, for whatever else might happen in the near future, the one sure thing is that we will be moving again.

tacoGreat place for tacos and burgers.

This has been a busy and productive time of adjustment for both of us.  For me it has been a winding down from all the crazy busy working years into a quieter life that allows me the luxury of time to indulge my crime fiction habit as well as to rediscover the joys of cooking and having time with my animals.  I take great pleasure when asked,  “what do you do?” by answering, “whatever I feel like”.  While I can no longer afford to buy books as I did when I was employed, I now have the time to use the Public Library and fortunately Anaheim has a great one so I have access to all the books I could ever want.


Flea market. 

For Thomas this has been a time for communicating with colleagues and teachers in a stimulating atmosphere and to expand his own artistic boundaries.  School is demanding, gratifying and productive.  After his first semester, Thomas is hired to teach a part time beginning photography course at Chaffee College as well as one at Cal State Fullerton and he is able to keep these sources of income for the rest of the time we are to be in Anaheim.  He has dropped his ESL course except for summer sessions and additionally has been hired to write freelance art reviews for Artweek Magazine.  The pay for these reviews is unsubstantial but he is given quite a few assignments and the experience and usefulness of that in his resume should be very helpful since the job search would soon be upon us.  In addition to writing reviews, which Thomas enjoys doing, the work gets us out to galleries and exhibits and as an additional perk we are often given exhibition catalogs.


Thomas at the flea market. 

In the course of the three years of graduate school Thomas has participated in numerous group shows all over Southern California and we get to see lots of art in general.  We discover myriad galleries and get to understand the art dynamic of Los Angeles and environs a little.  By the time we have to start thinking about leaving we are really hoping that somehow we will be able to remain in California and, if at all possible, in Southern California.

One great thing that happens when you live in a warm climate is that people come to visit you.  We were happily graced with visits from relative’s back east including my sweet sister-in-law, and good friend, Kathy and her children.  Kathy and Thomas were great friends growing up and she being the elder, served as mentor to him in many ways. Her obvious affection for her brother, the love of my life after all, brings us close and so we remain still.  Being so near Disney also brought quite a few other cousins and nieces and nephews and we were thrilled to have them all visit.


Nephew Daniel and niece Teresa with Thomas in our pool in Anaheim.

 When we first got here it felt so strange to not know anyone at all since Thomas and I are both gregarious by nature had quite a large circle of friends in New York.  One afternoon when we were on the Cal State Fullerton campus to attend an MFA show of one of Thomas’s colleagues I looked around and realized how many terrific people we now had gotten to know. 


My sixty third birthday with Thomas and my father in law, Simi Valley, Ca.

During that final year in our Anaheim apartment we started to see the first real signs of aging in our good old dog Shoe.  It seemed that one day she was just herself and then she wasn’t.  It felt like she had aged overnight.  Her muzzle quickly started to grey and then she became totally deaf.  We could walk into the apartment and she wouldn’t even notice we had been turning keys and opening the door.  In the past of course those sounds would have elicited a joyous greeting at the door.  Sadly her decline quickly took a downward path.  When our pats and hugs seemed to have become painful we knew that the time had come and it was with great sadness that we had to once again put another beloved pet to rest. I think even Mickey the cat missed her presence but Thomas and I missed her terribly.  Since we had no idea where we would end up after Thomas completed his degree it seemed absurd to acquire another dog knowing that we would soon be packing up our household again to some as yet undisclosed location.  So for the first time in quite a few years we found ourselves without a dog and it was a sad thing for us both.


Our beautiful "Shoe", in loving memory.

We were just getting by financially on Thomas’ salary as part time lecturer at Chaffee College, one photography class at Cal State Fullerton, summer wages for the LAUSD ESL courses and one grant from Fullerton for work on his MFA exhibit, my social security and of course, student loans. While I now had Medicare, that did not cover my prescription drug costs which were nearly a hundred dollars a month.  Thomas had to pay for private medical insurance through the university since we were afraid to be without after seeing what my medical bills in New York had come to. The debt we were incurring from those loans weighed heavily on us knowing how hard it would be to pay that off on a university instructor’s salary.  We understood that we would be paying back those loans for years and took only the most minimal amount to get by.


A few examples of the start of my ceramic collection.


The start of what is to become a collection of hands.

By August of 99, the search for a full time teaching post was underway.  Resumes were written and sent far and wide.  That year the gathering of the annual meeting of the College Art Association was held in New York and Thomas went to that equipped with resumes and portfolios to take to seventeen previously arranged interviews including one with Cal State San Bernardino where he had been told they had one opening and over one hundred applicants.  In the end, he was invited to visit campuses in Michigan and Oregon, Chicago, San Antonio and Fredonia, New York as well as in San Bernardino.  We were ready to go anywhere but hoped that it could be someplace warm as we were already spoiled and seduced by Southern California weather and found it hard to imagine being cold again.  Still and all, we needed an income and a place for Thomas to do his work so we were prepared to take what we could get.


Thomas and his father share a birthday celebration on the occasion of Thomas's forty first and my father in laws eightieth birthdays.  Simi Valley, Ca.


 Post op after six weeks.


What we had to wear in order to visit.

In the fall of 99 my dear father in law underwent surgery to implant a stent.  He had already survived quadruple bypass a few years earlier and while his advanced age was a mitigating factor, it was highly recommended that he have this procedure.  On the Sunday prior to his hospitalization when we went to lunch together, I remember thinking as we strolled arm in arm through the parking lot that this might just be the last good time we would have together.  He survived the surgery but something happened that changed him forever.  We heard different suggestions as to what might have caused his subsequent decline, possibly a stroke during surgery or the beginning of Alzheimer’s, but in the end, he was lost to us as dementia and physical decline took hold.  He had lost his swallow reflex and now required a feeding tube and full time care.  While he seemed to retain his warmth and friendliness his moments of clarity were of short and increasingly infrequent duration.  He would still greet me warmly and while it felt sincere, soon it was apparent that he had drifted away to some place where none of us could join him.  Still we had a few moments.  He told us one day while Thomas and I were having coffee that one of the things he missed the most was coffee.  Thomas and I looked at one another and with Thomas’ nod of agreement I dipped a spoon into my coffee and let him have just a taste, too small too choke on but eliciting a big smile.  How very sad that was.  His was a long slow decline and we often wondered if the medical advice he had been given to undergo such surgery at his advanced age had been sound.  I still don’t know.

funerAt my fathers gravesite, April 2000



When I got the call from my brother and sister-in-law that my father had died on April first, 2000, we tried to find me a flight leaving for New York the next day that we could afford. Even with “compassionate” discounts the fares were so outrageous that in the end we simply just did not have the money for me to fly to New Jersey for the interment.  As it was, we were just going to squeak by financially  with our entire savings pretty much gone. I had no option but to just stay in California.  It felt coldhearted to not show up regardless of how difficult our relationship had been especially knowing that there would be few present. Several people with whom I had spoken told me that they had intended to be there for me but since I wasn’t going they would also rather not attend.  Since my father had eschewed most attempts at friendship in his life there were sadly but not surprisingly, very few to be present at his death.



Gravesite photos courtesy of my sister in law Barbara who was kind enough to send them to me.

That winter Thomas went off to his various appointments for on site visits and interviews that resulted from his New York trip to the College Art Association.  He had already been to Chicago and Fredonia, New York.  With several more visits to go, he was in San Antonio, Texas when I got a call from the department chair at Cal State San Bernardino to let me know that they were making Thomas an offer.  I got hold of him at his hotel to let him know and after meeting his commitment to give a guest lecture in San Antonio, he was on his way home to accept the Cal State offer and to make our wish to stay in California no longer a dream but a reality. 


Thomas bought this for me while in San Antonio for his interview. I wear it every day and it has become my "good luck" charm ever since.

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Does any writer here reveal Family History as you are able to do so well, so often? r.
Oh Rosy, I love your writings and when I saw Shoe again I had tears.
Lovely once again.
Ah Rosy, Rosy, Rosy....... you write so well!!! One just gets all wrapped up in your tale and becomes "involved", y'know?

Thank-you for sharing your ups and downs. Your family and the love of your life Thomas. Your beautiful dog and your looks like a "hamsa" collection. My father was hasidic. Oh, it has been so long since I have seen such familiar dress as I saw when I was young and my Father was still alive. Thank-you so much for sharing. Have a good night Rosy Cheeks.

Just finished reading and looking at your photos.
Rated Highly
What a journey, Rosy. Thank you for sharaing it with us - I always look forward to reading your stories.
A very sad but moving entry about loss, but I love that it ends on that happy, promising note. As for Shoe, I went through the same thing with my beloved cat Stella -- one day she just turned, aged, was never the same and didn't last much longer. It never gets easy with those you love leaving, human or otherwise.
What a beautiful story of love and happiness and pain and suffering. A life with lovely photos full of loving and living.
rated with love
Having read some about the whole journey, I feel a sense of joy in this time period. Rosy, you inspire simply by living, and by relating your journey. Awesome.
I enjoyed this saga very much, felt your joy, felt your pain, felt your California.
Jonathan Wolfman:
Actually, I have not seen another ongoing memoir here on OS so maybe no, but perhaps just by default. Thanks again.

That Shoe dog, I still miss her and looking through my pictures of her was a bitter sweet look back to when we had her to snuggle and play with. Like all our pets she gave so much and asked for very little.

How great that you could feel "involved" and how very nice of you to tell me that.

My Heart:
I did indeed get my first "hamsa" in Israel where I became smitten with the symbol so much it grew into a collection that I will be showing off here soon. Thanks for you kind comments.

Again and again I am flattered by your ongoing reading and commenting on these bits of my life history. There are not enough thank you's for that. but, thank you anyway.

As always your comments are highly appreciated as is our OS friendship. Many thanks as always.

I know, I look at my aging little terrier mutt and see her getting grayer and slowing down a little and it breaks my heart although thankfully she is still spry if she thinks there might be a lizard or opossum in the back yard.

Romantic Poetess:
Indeed, lots of life and lots of love..lucky me and thnak you for checking in again.

Thanks for your generous words and for reading my stuff.

Kathy Riordan:
I'm so glad that my words could evoke my reality as that has been the goal all along. I appreciate your presence here very much.
I love your good luck charm, but I suspect you are a good luck charm all by yourself! :)
Hopefully you'll be able to stay in Calif which ought to be good, right?
Another enjoyable installment. Ah. Like a coffee with a dear friend. Your Thomas is very handsome Rosy, I like his protective arm about you.
So glad your California dream came true! Rated.
I really enjoyed this. I had no idea where it was going but it was compelling all the same.
To California dreams remaining as realities. Joy, happiness and fulfilment to you both, and thank you for a very moving story.
angel triggs:
Oh angel, I try. Thanks for being here to comment.

Will you join me next time to find out?

rita shibr:
I appreciate your good words rita and yes, Thomas (the handsome one) is very protective of me. I shall look forward to our next virtual cup of coffee.
I feel like we are sitting and sipping tea while you tell me your life story.
Lunchlady 2

How nice...if only we could do that. Thank you for joining me.
Oh the Family...the Family!
Laura Bloom:
This part of an ongoing memoir so you are just coming in toward the welcome and please come back.

As always, Fusun, thanks for reading and commenting.

Alex Kemezys:
Oh my yes, the family. There will be more on the subject and I thank you for checking in. Do come back.....
Rosy, you are one amazing woman. You write with a spice of life that is in every word. Just reading you makes me glad that there are people like you around. The world is a lot more interesting place with you in it!
I am honored to be complimented by you so thank you for reading and
This was a wonderful insight into your life once again. I was feeling the angst about getting the job in California and how important it was for both of you when the call came with the offer. When people write like this we are all carried on their journey with them. I so appreciated the pictures and words that help show the essence of your very interesting life.
Such a lovely thing you do here, sharing your world with us all. I adore your storytelling.
Anaheim, a sunny place for sunny people. Hope you & Thomas love your time there.
Thank you for sharing your California dream. My parents were "San Berdu" natives, and after years of moving around, CA will always be home for me. Wishing you continued joy in this phase of life in the still-golden state.
Thank you for sharing such an interesting story.
As always, a wonderful story.
To those of you who have been traveling this memoir with me, for once words fail me as I search for a way to explain how much your comments and encouragement mean to me. For those of you new to my site, I can only express thanks for reading and commenting and hope you will come back again.
Just a simple Brit_Question please.
What in the name of all that's hairy is below your cat on the veranda in the first pic?
I'm guessing it's a Time Travel device for the cat and not a temperature gauge or scales, but.....

Rated with an Ug.
{ do not operate machinary if it makes you feel drowsy}
Definitely a feline time and space traveling device. He clearly is dreaming of his Brooklyn hoods left behind.
Rosy - Being new - I just read this California Dream blog & "Marijuana Girl" - and boy do I have to catch up! Rated