This is Christmas

I'm hiding out in my room until my family figures out I'm awake. It is hard to believe Christmas is already here. Wasn't December 1st just yesterday? This has been one of the busiest Decembers in recent memory and I'm glad I can be home for Christmas. I have been inundated with so much TV and chocolate I feel like I've already been home for a week. There's something dangerous about coming home - there's actually food to be found in the kitchen. Plus there seems to be candy everywhere. It is hard to stay "in control" here. Luckily the weather's been good so maybe I'll force myself to go running next week. (Haha fat chance.)

One of my sisters is out of state for Christmas with her husband's family and I overheard my other two sisters taunting her on the phone a few minutes ago. It was pretty funny. She has been dubbed "the traitor" which I think fits just fine. While we will miss her (or at least pretend to miss her), we will just have to get on with our day.

Uh oh, I can hear my family plotting to "wake me up." I think it's time to wrap this up. I just wanted to say "Merry Christmas" to everyone and I hope you have a really nice day!


It's the Final Countdown!

Last night I was watching one of my favorite shows ("The Sing Off") and after being eliminated one of the groups sang "This is the Final Countdown," as their swan song. I was surprised when I recognized it. I didn't even know the song had a name - I just always called it "Gob's song." (Gob Bluth is a very dysfunctional character on "Arrested Development," another one of my favorite shows.) While it was fun to sit back and watch TV last night, I am now less than 24 hours away from taking the dreaded, the terrible GMAT. The strangest thing is that I don't feel dread or terror (though I've definitely felt it during the past two and a half months of studying.) I've reached that point where I'm ready to get it over with. I have to trust that all of this preparation (and money! oh, the money) will pay off. While I should be hunkering down for another solid night of studying, I will instead be going to the company Christmas party. It looks like I'm going to pull a Gob and fly by the seat of my pants and make some MAGIC happen tomorrow. I'll definitely use his tactic of playing inspiring music (dun du dun-duh! dun dun du-du-duh!), though I think I'll skip dancing around with a knife in my teeth. This one's for you, Gob. Tomorrow I'm going to pull off the greatest illusion ever (i.e., convincing the GMAT that I'm smart)! For now, I've got hair to curl and sequins to don!


From XYZ to ABC

If I had it my way, Plan A would work every time. Things would always pan out the first time round just the way I imagined them. There would be no need for constant readjusting and maneuvering. Perfect timing would clip along just as I predicted and I could sit back and coast on autopilot just enjoying the ride. Unfortunately for me there must be some value in constantly moving on to new plans because I have learned that Plan A rarely works out. Sometimes Plan J turns into the most appealing option, and one can never rule out the merit of scribbling down a Plan Q, R, and S just in case. If you’ve been down this road more than once perhaps you have concluded that simultaneously pursuing multiple plans is the best way to go. I would guess that multitaskers are prone to this strategy. I’m a multitasker at heart and I try to consider all of my options all of the time. A few months ago I decided to try a new plan and last week I had to lay it to rest. The year is rapidly winding down and I feel like I am about to abandon Plans X, Y, and Z and start over again with A, B, and C. At this point I feel like the weeks, months and years are flying by and the only way to cope with the rush is to “go back to the drawing board” and come up with something fantastic.


Starting over sucks. All of the same questions come back (“What am I doing?” “What should I do instead?” and on and on). Sometimes I catch myself staring in the mirror waiting for the answers to jump out. Instead I am left searching for answers in the depths of my own irises. Besides a splash of four different colors, there isn’t much there. The search for a deeper perspective always renders the same thing – a narrowed reflection of someone very far from deciding who she is. Maybe my eye color is indicative of the problem. I’m split between varied interests that pull me in very different directions. At the core is brown – my preferred way of seeing the world and working my way through it: creatively, artistically, and humorously. Just outside of the brown area is a fine yellow ring that seeks to bridge imagination with practicality. The next layer, green, is the part of me that knows I have to make money somehow, so away with this dreamland stuff. On the very outside is a curious blue rim. It isn’t the crystal clear blue that some people are blessed with. Instead it’s a hazy, “How do I get there?” blue. It is the blue of quickly fading twilight. What I wouldn’t give for high noon blue instead.

Bridging the Gap

What I want more than anything is to find a way to permanently meld creativity and practicality. We’ve all heard the expression “starving artist.” While I admire those brave enough to abandon corporate jobs and pursue artistic careers, I can’t imagine I’ll ever do it. I prioritize the stability and assurance of a steady job but sometimes all that structure can create a stifling scaffold around the creative part of my mind. My fate may have been determined years ago – I was too wound up in junior college to ever take a drawing, painting or creative writing class even though I was dying to. (Since I had to take remedial math credits along with transfer requirements for three different universities, there was simply no time to fit in three elective credits during any of my semesters.) I’m happy with the work I completed and I’m proud of the degree I earned but sometimes I look back at college missed and wish I had just taken it a little slower. I know there’s no use in looking back. My life has rapidly moved on (have I already been out of school for 3 years?!) and bigger and better things have come along. I’m just trying to figure out if good things are happening by coincidence or if I’m actually doing something right.

Here We Go

In the end, the only choice is to go back to the beginning. I don’t have to start over from scratch, I just have to take into account all of the stuff I’ve learned and keep trucking along. While it stinks to let go of X, Y, and Z, I know that it’s the right thing to do. A, B, and C aren’t going to guarantee success but I can be happy with progress. I’m exhausted from another year of trying to figure out my life and I welcome prospect of a restful holiday break. For now I just hope the wheels stop turning long enough to give me a good night’s sleep. At least my dreams allow me to bridge the gap – I can drift off to whatever unpredictable scenario my mind has in store while getting something practical done at the same time. Now if I could just find a way to be paid to sleep…


All About Dad

Today is a really special day for my family – it was my dad’s very last day of work! In honor of his amazing accomplishment I wanted to write all about my dad tonight. However, he has so many great dimensions I knew I would have a hard time touching on all of them. I have enlisted the help of some friends and family to help you understand just how great he is. First, I need to cover a little history.

This week I had the opportunity to study up on my dad’s work history. I learned a lot of stuff I didn’t know. His first job was picking prunes as a little boy. He continued working in the fields and orchards through junior high. As a young adult he had his share of restaurant, retail and gardening jobs. He even had a run as a glass blower! Apparently he had a bad accident during that stint and he still has a scar on his arm. He also served in the Marines Reserve Corps and has the tattoo to prove it. (Although he’ll quickly say the tattoo was a huge mistake, I must admit I was always fascinated by it.) I’m sure I’m getting the timeline muddled but he also worked in a lab at Stanford, earned his Administration of Justice AA and became a Sherriff’s deputy. In 1976 he joined the Santa Rosa Police Department as a Police Field Technician but after three years the constantly ringing phones at the front desk of the police office drove him to a pilot program for a new position: Field Evidence Support Technician.

He was one of two people chosen for the program and after going through police academy (again!) they proved the position was viable and more technicians were viable. In his words, “We sacrificed because we wanted the program to be successful. We worked under poor conditions. We didn’t wear a uniform. We wore slacks, a white or blue shirt and a tie and were not issued portable radios. We drove a blue or white Ford Fairmont with a small 10” diameter City seal on the front doors and a small yellow amber light in the rear window. When we finally were told to start taking collision reports and we showed up at the scene, people thought we were insurance agents. By that time we were wearing a navy blue sport coat as part of our non-uniform. Administration did not want us to look anything like a Police Officer. I had to buy my own rain jacket.”

All of their hard work paid off and over the next several years the position evolved. If you had seen my dad at work today you would have most likely mistaken him for a cop. The technicians are now issued uniforms, radios, and patrol units with light bars. I had no idea my dad had helped build the position from the ground up. He has stuck with it for 34 years (count ’em – 34 years!!!) and today he retired as the oldest and longest-serving SRPD employee. He’s amazing!

Honestly, however, that’s just the half of it. In the 27 years that I’ve been alive, my dad has been a wonderful person. I just wish I could have been around when he was a little kid. As the third of four boys, he had two older brothers picking on him. His little brother, Jim, told me a funny experience about how it was to be the youngest of the bunch:

First of all, I am totally jealous. Now I will be the only brother still working!

I will never forget the time when I was about nine years old and Louie and I were in a real fight. Louie got my arm behind my back and was twisting it up hard. He said, I'm going to break your arm!" It really hurt. I yelled back to him, "Go ahead, break it, but just wait until Pop gets home." It really scared him and he released it immediately. I felt really smart. I now knew how to control him from hurting me!

On the good side, he was always nice to our mother. I could never understand how he could always be kind and thoughtful towards her.


Although my dad is a very mild-mannered and wise man, I’m sure he was a hellion growing up! I’m glad Jim survived because now I get to enjoy all three of my uncles. I have a theory as to why he was always so nice to Grandma: perhaps part of him knew he’d end up with a family of all girls! Yes, it is true – until 9 years ago my dad was absolutely surrounded by my mom, my three sisters and me. (Luckily in 2001 I got a fantastic brother-in-law.) He could almost always find refuge in the garage with his power tools, but even better he was a great friend to my sister’s friends and they other young men in the ward. I like to say that I had at least 10 older brothers growing up. The best part about them was they seldom picked on me and almost always honed in on my mom. They liked to find her when she was out on a walk and dump a bucket of water on her or saran-wrap her to a telephone pole. They made life interesting and my family loved them. They gave my dad many nicknames and even nicknamed our old station wagon (“The Beast”) and his hair (“The Helmet”) In their words:

The Law... So many good times and memories. None of us ever said thank you much. I guess we figure it was just implied but you did a lot for helping all of us grow into good men. You kept your house open to us, let us beat up on your wife, were easy to confide in, and most importantly a good example of a righteous man to a bunch of rowdy and impressionable young men. Memories of growing up fade with time but I will never forget the good times all of us had backpacking the sierras. As a young men leader now I realize how much work it is do such things. So thanks dude. Have a great retirement. Enjoy getting old and senile. And when the amnesia starts kicking in, I'm gonna come by and remind you how I lent you that AR-15 and the Ruger mark III and would like them back now.

- Ben

Lou has always been and will always be one of the boys. On camping & backpacking trips, he was never just one of the Dads chaperoning some foolish (and dangerous at times!) teenagers, he was the adult that respected us enough to let us make some trouble (which he knew we would get into either way). The first backpacking trip I went on with him, Ben, Sam and Travis N. is a perfect example. There we were hiking through Desolation Wilderness… I was a knife-obsessed teenager holding my machete in my teeth and constantly playing with my throwing knife collection. 'The Law' basically just made sure we weren’t throwing them at each other and looked the other way. Sure he was there when we had to go search for Travis on one of his walkabouts, and he was there any time that we might be getting a little bit out of line but often he was just with us having fun and was never afraid to let us have fun. I think there’s always a point growing up where leaders/elders can get on your nerves in some way or another but I can’t think of a single time that any of us ever felt that way about Lou. The camaraderie he developed with us made him just another “Bro” in our circle. Loucifer is THE man!


I remember taking trips with Lou to Mammoth Mt and Sea Otter for biking...I put up with his snoring and he listened to me talking in my he probably knows all my secrets and dreams, but that's ok he's a trustworthy man! On these trips, I could always count on him to bring a good steak that I could nibble on (he ate one every night camping). Maybe it was steaks that slowed him down on the bike...maybe it was the bike itself...who knows why he never broke any speed records on the bike, it was just fun being around him! Lou is the only guy with no little kids that can drive a minivan and look good doing it - you da man Lou! No matter the setting or occasion I just love being around Lou - I will eat a steak, shoot a gun, ride a bike or talk in my sleep with you anytime! Congratulations on finishing a long and successful career! Love you lots!


Lou is a great example for me and the guys. He's an almost silent leader. He has a way of lending me the same confidence that he carries. It's hard to explain but those that know him know what I mean. His home has raised a lot of youth, most of whom were not his own as far as blood is concerned. But that never seemed to matter. I've fallen asleep on Lou and Ginger's couch more than a handful of times only to wake up in a silent pitch dark house under a warm blanket......and feel right at home. He confirmed my wife a member of the church. Was a witness at my wedding and has been a man that I would be proud to emulate.


I think it is safe to say that my dad was a father to not just three daughters, but many sons. Whenever his boys were gone on a mission or moved out of state, my family turned to the elders serving in the ward to fill the void. My dad spent countless hours mountain biking with the elders on their P-Day (Preparation Day) and tuning up bikes in his garage. My mom was able to hem their pants and together they made our house Elder Central. It was a great place to grow up and their love of the missionaries definitely fueled my desire to serve. But enough about me! This is about my dad! One former Elder wrote:

Lou is an awesome man. I would have to say that he was my father when I needed one. He has always been the strong steady quiet example that I very much admire. I think that it is really great that he represented the Santa Rosa Police Force.

I remember visiting Santa Rosa a few years after my mission and I was able to visit with him for a while. We were able to go out into the garage and have some guy time. He was working on the cabinets that went into the master bathroom. I remember him always being quite the craftsman. I am really excited that he will have the opportunity to now work on things he enjoys.

Both he and your mom were there for me during some pretty dark hours while I was serving in the Piner Creek Ward and I will forever be grateful for that. Lou is the Man!


My dad has also been a very dedicated and service-oriented neighbor and true friend. Two of our favorite neighbors live a couple of streets away, and said this about Dad:

Lou (we all call him the "Rock") will NEVER divulge a secret. My wife had planned a surprise party, and he asked me to go mountain biking. We always go to Lepe's after. He told me that we needed to go home, that we would be barbequing with the wives. I told him that we still needed to eat at least one or two tacos. He said, “No, we need to go home they are waiting.” Not a breath of anything. We drove to his house, and I was going to drop off Lou and his bike, he said, “No, let’s do it later.” We walked into my house and the place was packed. (Lou always paid to get into Annadel by the way.)

If you EVER need help, he will always be there to help. He is the best neighbor anyone could ask for. I never hear Lou talk bad about anyone. He just walks away. He loves to be with his family, that is his biggest joy (and shooting of course). Any time you spend with Lou will only increase your love of others. Retirement couldn't come to a more deserving and nicer guy!


One thing I have always admired Lou for, is his journal keeping. He can go back to when he was called to a specific calling and tell you his feelings about it. He can go back to each of his daughters' births and re live the moment. He has dutifully and lovingly recorded events in his life to share with others or privately contemplate. I have always loved Lou. Congratulations on this great milestone - time to write this experience in your journal!


I have to agree with Janet – Dad’s journal habit is a great example! It is so fun when he pulls out journal entries and reads them to us on special days. For years I felt bad for not keeping a journal and I have to say that he is a big reason I write this blog. He has always been so willing to share his thoughts and memories with my family and that is why I want to record and share my own.

My dad and his brothers exemplify wonderful qualities of protectiveness, empathy and compassion that guardians and counselors possess. They are always willing to help anyone in the family. It is little surprise that my uncle Dave also worked in law enforcement:

Wow, he's finally retiring! I never even thought about how long he has been working at the same job and I was shocked to read that it's been 35 years. That job must have meant an awful lot to him to last that long and I'm proud of his accomplishment. I'm confident that the SRPD will miss his expertise, especially his CSI work. Knowing my brother, he has put everything into his work and done as complete a job as anybody could do.

His family, his church, his woodwork, and now his target shooting...everybody knows that he puts his heart and soul into everything he does. Why would it be different with his chosen profession? He will miss his work, whether he realizes it or not, but his family, church and friends will share even more of his time now.

Enough of that, how long is his 'to do' list?? How long will it take to build my kitchen island, brother??


Heaven knows that my dad will continue to attack his miles-long To Do list. I think it’s a trait that runs in our family. I want to thank my dad for his tireless work ethic, enduring loyalty and the wonderful example he has been to all of us lucky to know him. He has a thousand hobbies (as you may guess shooting is his #1 hobby right now) and he will definitely stay busy the next 30+ years. I hope today is a wonderful day for my dad and full of congratulations. I love him!

Last but not least are some thoughts from his oldest brother:

As the oldest of four boys, I was supposed to be the one to sample the world and pass on my wisdom and discoveries to my younger siblings. Not sure where that idea came from, but as it turned out, that all happened in reverse. I certainly did go forth sampling the world's menu, but missed the precious stuff. Lou dedicated himself to whatever he did from the beginning, whether it was Cub Scouts or homework as a kid, pushing physical limits as a Marine, fine-tuning woodworking skills, studying to be the best Field Tech with S.R.P.D. he could be, or punching out the bulls-eye on the rifle range. What he did in-between is what makes him stand out from so many men, myself included. He found love as a young man and knew that was it for him. He began to lay the foundation for supporting that love and the family that followed. It became his life’s work. Patiently pushing himself to build his career and home, sacrificing leisure time in doing that, Lou showed me what I had missed all my life...commitment. His retirement is not going to put a dent in that. I've got a feeling that his home will continue to have improvements and his church will also benefit from his extra time. If I could do it all over again, I'd want Lou to be my Big Brother, and do it his way. Thanks for teaching me lessons the world couldn't Lou.