Category Archives: Family

Something Borrowed – Something Blue

I got married for the first time (there have been only two) in my early thirties; somewhere around 1980 to be inexact. It was a self-organized, backyard party held at the home of friends in Venice, California. We were living in Playa del Rey at the time. I was just reminded I wore a turquoise bowling shirt a friend loaned me that he had recently  purchased second-hand from Aaardvark’s Odd Ark in Venice.

Turquoise Wedding/Bowling Shirt

My Turquoise Wedding/Bowling Shirt

I have a lot of slides from the wedding. Of course, they’ve been sitting in a binder for the last three decades, which is about how long ago I divorced my first wife (who, btw, remains a friend but who I see very infrequently and always at an event involving my brother’s family, as she was close to my SIL and her family). I have no desire to go out and spend money to have photos made of these, but I did try to scan one of the slides that shows me in the shirt. It didn’t work too well, so I went around the house looking for enough clear backlighting to snap a pic with my iPhone 4S. I offer it herewith.

I’m sharing this because it is somewhat indicative of the kind of relationship, wedding, and marriage (despite its having ended) Alina and I had. In our case, it was the Groom who wore – in one garment – something old, something new, something borrowed, and something blue.


How To Shop

Clothing for entering a blast freezer

This is what I should have been wearing!

Many years ago, when I was in the wholesale food business with my father and brother, we got a new customer who sold to many high-end restaurants. Many would recognize the names of these famous Hollywood eateries, all of which were very successful and (bonus) somewhat recession-proof. This was a very good thing for us, as it provided a substantial boost to our gross income. I became the schlepper; the one who had to drive around every morning and pick up the items our new customer needed to service his clientele. I did not mind. I was young and full of energy and truly enjoyed arising very early in the morning to greet the day.

My job meant driving around every morning, picking up the items that had been ordered and getting them to our customer’s location, where they would be either stored temporarily prior to delivery, or further prepared for later  delivery to their customers. Generally, three days of the week required me to enter as blast freezer that was forty degrees below zero; so cold that it had no solid doors, merely thick plastic curtains as a safety measure, ensuring no one could be accidentally locked in. The freezer was huge and the doors big enough to accommodate a large forklift laden with several palettes of product.

I never had to pick up more than I could carry out by hand, so I wasn’t in there for very long. As a result, I made the decision not to spend the money to purchase the kind of clothing that I would have needed had I been required to spend more than a few minutes in that freezer. I would put on a sweatshirt above my regular shirt, a jacket, and a white butcher’s coat on top of that. Still, I can’t recall a time I was in there more than a minute before I found myself wondering what it would be like to freeze to death. It was painful almost from the instant I pushed aside those curtains and stepped inside!

This meant I would generally stand outside of the freezer for a few minutes and mentally chart the shortest course to pick up what I needed, which would facilitate a quick retrieval and egress. With the exception of stationery stores, which I view as museums of contemporary business practices (and which have those sacred items, paper and writing materials, enshrined within), this is how I have since shopped for everything. I suspect most men do the same, despite never having had to enter a forty below blast freezer. It’s how we roll.


A Generation Gone

Eddie Ladd with his bestie, Fred DiBiase

Eddie Ladd with his bestie, Fred DiBiase

Tomorrow would have been my father’s 89th birthday. It’s also a couple of months into the 30th year since he’s been gone. Over a generation has passed since he died a couple of months shy of his 60th birthday. I don’t think of him that much anymore, but when I do I miss him; sometimes terribly. Like so many men of my generation, I had a very stormy relationship with my father. He was a veteran of the U.S. Navy and had served during World War II, and survived the deadly Murmansk runs through the North Atlantic. I know his time aboard ship affected him deeply. I made the mistake – though not very often – of waking him when I was standing too close to his hands and arms. He did not wake well, especially when I was young. I learned to stand back and gently touch his foot or call out to him.

He was raised by a very stern Russian-Polish immigrant who I never got to meet. Assuming my father learned much of how to be who he was from his father, I figure Max Wladofsky was a stern and difficult man to please. My old man really wasn’t capable of showing too much affection, nor was he capable of much in the way of praise. For years after his death, I found myself thinking (after something special had happened to, or because of, me) “I can’t wait to tell Dad.” Of course, that was followed immediately by the recollection he was gone and would never know of it, or have the opportunity to be proud of me. I wanted desperately to please him. Fortunately, in the final years of his life he and I settled our differences somewhat, and finally began building what I’d like to think would have been a wonderful friendship . . . had he not died so very young.

He really was a loving man, but I believe circumstances conspired to make it difficult for him to show affection and acceptance. He was a member of what we now refer to as “The Greatest Generation”, a generation of hard, stoic men who “saved us from Fascism” and, after the war was won, brought home the bacon. When he left the service, he was able to purchase a modest, new home in Panorama City, a suburb in the San Fernando Valley, just north of Los Angeles. I grew up in the 50s and 60s, and have to say much of my life was pretty idyllic by most standards, thanks to his dedication to his family and his hard work.

He was, I believe, scarred forever by his experiences during the war as well. He never saw combat as a soldier, but he spent weeks aboard ship, in convoys being hunted by German U-Boats and sailing through waters in which hypothermia would have killed survivors of a torpedoed ship within minutes. I doubt many on those ships slept very soundly. I’m sure he didn’t.

I hardly ever saw him when I was a young boy, as he worked six days a week at the Grand Central Market, in downtown Los Angeles. He left the house before I arose and frequently didn’t get home until after I was in bed, asleep. Sundays were usually spent with other members of our extended family and, if memory serves, the adults kept mostly to themselves and the kids played together. I got to know my cousins pretty well, but I didn’t get to know my father until much later.

Because I had been told most of my life that I was exactly like my father, I spent quite a few years after his death thinking 59 would likely be the end of the road for me. Since I’m now 66, I’m thankful that didn’t turn out to be the case. Still, I think I would gladly give up a few years if I could have had a few more to enjoy with my father. I wish he were here so I could wish him one more happy birthday tomorrow. I guess I’ll have to content myself with spending a few minutes writing this post and thinking about him . . . and how much I really do miss him.


Santa Ana the Homewrecker!

The Three Trashketeers

The Three Trashketeers in Their Previous Incarnation

A couple of weeks ago I posted about the two basketballs and the hula hoop my youngest daughter and I had spotted in the flood control channel we passed each day on our walk to her elementary school. We named them Wendy (the first basketball we noted), Haley (the hula hoop accompanying her), and Oliver Boliver Butt (the basketball that joined this duo a few days later.)

It is with a note (not really a profound one, but a somewhat dismayed note) of sadness I am compelled to inform all that the Santa Ana winds, which were pretty fierce about a week ago, have blown, Wendy, Oliver, and even Haley closer to their final destination.

Molly the duck, and her companion, Junior had – of course – already moved on, being animate objects and all. We looked for them each day but there must not have been enough excitement available for them to stick around.

Unless someone comes along to clean the channel (or the river, which is where they will soon be), they will eventually make it out to sea and join – perhaps – with all the other flotsam and jetsam littering our Pacific Ocean.

I don’t know about you, but I’m going to miss them . . . already do.


Wendy’s Family is Growing!

Another basketball in the storm channel

Wendy the BBall seems to have been joined by a relative. Say “Hi” to Oliver

I quite recently introduced you to a new friend my daughter and I encountered on our way to school. We see her every morning and have chosen to name her Wendy, partly in honor of Chuck Noland’s (Tom Hanks) friend, Wilson the volleyball.  Shortly afterward, I discovered Wendy had a couple of friends (Molly and Junior) and I shared a picture of them and added a little commentary about our walks together. Forgive me if I seem repetitive. I’m old and haven’t been out walking in decades (except for golf courses, but even that’s been a while) and it’s getting me all flustered, I guess.

As we were walking to school today we discovered our semi-stationary friend in the storm channel seems to have a new friend; perhaps a close relative. We have chosen to name him Oliver (for Dr. Seuss fans, his full name is Oliver Boliver Butt). Molly and Junior were visiting when we first passed, but when I took this picture on my return trip home, they were nowhere to be found. Wendy seems to have also encountered the company of Haley, the Hula Hoop, not to mention what seems to be a growing collection of various and sundry plastic accoutrements, all of which will be washed out into the ocean if they’re not cleaned up prior to the next rain storm.

Perhaps I should bring it to the attention of one or more of my local Facebook groups. I know there are frequent forays into what passes for a river through our fair city. I’ve walked it myself as a Rocketdyne volunteer a few years ago, picking up plastic and other things that don’t belong there. I sure wish people weren’t so damn careless with their trash. Makes you wonder if they occasionally take a crap in their kitchen or living room.


An Eerie Sense of Loss

Wedding in the Grove

A really beautiful ceremony in the Avocado grove of the London home – Nipomo, CA

I attended a really nice wedding this past Saturday. The groom is the only son of a long-time, childhood friend. Amazingly, I never had the opportunity to get to know this young man. For numerous reasons, he just didn’t come into my life. Part of it was they lived on the East Coast during his early years and I never made it out there. There are surely other reasons, but I’ll be damned if I can clearly articulate them . . . at least not without straying from the message I want to convey in this post.

After the ceremony and after we’d all sat down and eaten dinner, the Best Man and Maid of Honor presented their toasts. They were good. Actually, they were excellent. Heartfelt, somewhat revealing, and occasionally quite funny. Afterward, they opened the mic up for anyone who wanted to speak and several did.

What was strange for me was I had this eerie feeling I wanted to speak. As I said, I know virtually nothing about the Groom. I have not spent more than a moment in his presence as far as I can remember. Of course, I didn’t (and wouldn’t) get up and take the microphone. I know what I was feeling was, in large part, about me – not him. However, in that moment I was reminded of how similar I have felt at funerals.

Now, before you think I’m getting all macabre, let me explain. I have written before of my feeling attending funerals of people I never had the opportunity to meet. The situation was somewhat similar – at least as far as the having never met part goes. I did not know the son of a long-time friend, someone who had been my roommate more than once. Someone I had spent many years with and with whom I shared dozens of friends. Someone who I feel very much is family.

As those toasts were taking place, and the Bride and Groom were being hailed and revealed, I felt a sudden sense of great loss, much like I have when listening to eulogies. I suppose that’s what made it so damned eerie – as they were very much alive and, in fact, at the very beginning of a special journey. I almost felt guilty.

I had my daughters with me, it was getting late, and we had a nearly three-hour drive ahead of us, so we left shortly after the speeches. Actually, although they wanted to go (it was also getting a bit chilly and we weren’t adequately prepared for it – mea culpa), they wouldn’t leave until they’d had a piece of the wedding cake. I managed to grab a cup of coffee as well. As we were leaving, I remembered something the Best Man had said. He talked about how he and the Groom had spent many hours discussing religion and politics. As we took our leave, I took the Groom aside and remarked about the reality we had never gotten to know one another. I also told him of the many hours I had spent with his father discussing religion and politics and how I hoped, perhaps, we could still get to know each other. He reminded me I have his cell phone number.

I don’t know if we’ll communicate much, but I hope we do. There are so many important things we miss in life, frequently because we’re a bit overwhelmed by all the little things that vie for our attention. I don’t like the sense of loss they bring. On the other hand, I’m reasonably certain this will continue in other ways. There just isn’t enough time and there are too many obligations we all face. <sigh>


A Wonderful Response to Hate

When was it? A week or so ago? Remember that Cheerios video with the beautiful little girl and her interracial mom and dad? Unfortunately, cute and entertaining as it was, it brought out a vocal contingent of hateful bigots, prompting General Mills to suspend commenting on the YouTube video.

It even made it into the International Business Times, and is (as of this date) still being discussed extensively.

Well . . . a gentleman by the name of Kenji America has produced a video in response to those hateful people who, IMO, represent a dying breed spasming as they approach the demise of their narrow-minded, backward, disgusting ways. Check it out!


An Unwanted Vacation

Some of the Bubbles Alyssa Spotted

Some of the Bubbles Alyssa Spotted

About two weeks ago our youngest daughter was sitting on the couch in the family room and asked a simple question, “Why are there bubbles in the ceiling, Daddy?” Much to our chagrin, once we looked up it was difficult not to notice areas that were clearly filling up with water. We had a leak (another one, as it turns out, since we’d had one almost two years ago). We immediately fetched a couple of buckets and pierced the paint holding the water in to relieve the pressure. I also immediately called the Plumber, who fortunately was able to come out and fix the leak.

Stage one was complete. We’d stemmed the tide. Unfortunately, the ceiling was now ruined and – as Shane the Plumber pointed out to us, there was still a fair amount of water up there. Next stage – contact the insurance company and get someone out who can fix the ceiling and bring us back to status quo ante. Would that it were so easy.

More Bubbles

More Bubbles and Damage

Because of the age of our house, everyone now suspected there might be asbestos involved and we needed to have someone come out and test for both it . . . and lead, which might have been in older paint. Sure enough, asbestos was discovered but no lead <whew!>. So now we need to have specialists come in, completely seal off the room to avoid contaminating other parts of the house, and remove all the offending material.

One problem. The room has to be completely emptied and nobody says they expect me to do it on my little lonesome. Hint – there are items of furniture in that room most 35 year old men can’t move by themselves, let alone a 65 year old man. So the guys show up but the room is as it was. They get all confused and, ultimately, leave without saying a word. Thus begins a bit of a Keystone Kops routine of non-communication, mis-communication, and confusion.

A Panorama of our Family & Living Rooms

Family Room Empty – Living Room Stuffed

As of today, I’m pretty certain things have been worked out. The company I was referred to by Shane the Plumber came out and packed up everything and moved almost all of it into the living room. Tomorrow the remediation company is scheduled to show up, seal off the room, dry the attic, and remove any asbestos they find. Unfortunately, they will have no choice but to seal off the back of the house, rendering it unlivable. I’m waiting for the adjuster to get back to me and authorize our staying at a local residence inn for Wednesday and Thursday nights; they say we’ll be able to return on Friday.

In the meantime, the kids have school and life goes on. We get a two-day “vacation” I really don’t want yet have no choice other than to take. So . . . we’re off on a mini-adventure as of, well, as of now since we’re going to have to pack up and gtf outta here early tomorrow.


2013 Cajun-Blues Festival

A few months back I became a member of the Simi Sunrise Rotary club. Our biggest fundraiser is a Cajun-Blues Music Festival. It funds nearly all of our other philanthropic activities. The lineup is set for both days, all day long and we just put out a new poster, which I thought I would share here. I will post more about this as the date approaches.

The Festival is held during Memorial Day weekend, this year occurring on May 25th and May 26th. Two whole days of Blues and Zydeco, plus lots of good food and drink. There will also be a Mardi Gras parade each afternoon and lessons in Cajun and Zydeco dancing. This is our 24th year of putting on this growing and popular festival. You can learn more on Twitter here.

Simi Sunrise Cajun-Blues Festival

Cajun-Blues Festival Lineup and Info


Out of the Mouths of Babes

Rick's visor

What Geordi La Forge’s visor would look like if it was designed by the British Royal Family.

My youngest daughter, Alyssa (9), says I need to write more blog posts if I expect people to visit and read. Why didn’t I think of that? I don’t know what it is, but sometime you just don’t have a great deal to say. Sure, I frequently post things to Twitter and even more to Facebook, but this is my blog. This is where I give vent to the things that are most important to me . . . or, is it?

I have to admit I’ve always had trouble writing about certain things, not the least of which is my becoming a first-time adoptive father at the age of 55 . . . and doing it again at 59. I want to write about the experience, but I also have long felt the need to protect my daughters’ privacy. It is, after all, their story to tell, and it’s far more about them than it is about me and my wife. I think there may be a happy medium, however, and I’m close to figuring out what it is.

So . . . here are a few goals of mine. I want to continue writing about some of the things that are of interest to me professionally, e.g. Knowledge Management, Social Media (especially as it affects business and civil society), Politics, and Religion/Philosophy. I also want to share some of my personal experiences, especially those I know are a bit out of the ordinary, e.g. International adoption late in life, retirement, becoming a man in the 1960s (including my political activism back then), and maybe some things for which the statute of limitations has thankfully run or for which the trail of evidence is too dry for me to worry about. :)

This is a process and involves (I think) my re-doing how this site is set up. I’ll be getting to that soon. Right now I’m busy looking for ways in which to supplement my retirement income. I’ll probably be writing a bit more about that as well. I have always been somewhat of a late bloomer. Now I’m just hoping I live long enough to see my latest “career move” come to fruition. I greatly appreciate those of you who take the time to visit and read. I think, perhaps, another goal of mine will be to see if I can’t elicit a few more comments. I wonder if writing about controversial subjects will accomplish that? We’ll see.

Here’s a thought. Anyone interested in the intricacies . . . and the legal and moral issues . . . of International adoption should read this. It’s one of the issues I plan on writing about as I loosen up on the subject. It was not something we thought about prior to our first adoption, but was definitely part of the thought process when we adopted our younger daughter. Now it just haunts me. One of my goals is to live long enough to see my girls to adulthood. Then I’ll be able to discuss it with them. The reality is we just don’t know for sure what happened before they came into our lives. I’d much rather it haunted me, and not them.


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