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#11 BEACH MUSIC: A time of tans, blonds and hot pants

Beach Music, an On the Street Where I Livestories is really a tale of two cities; San Juan, Puerto Rico and Santa Monica, California. It was originally published in the LA Times Sunday Magazine.

Beach Music We came to California from Canada, with a detour to Puerto Rico that lasted one endless summer of a year. A year in which I turned 15, and my hair turned blond from living in the sun. “Psst,” the boys and men would call after me in the blue-cobbled streets of San Juan. “Psst! Hey, blondie. Psst! Hey, cutie pie.” I was devastated when my parents said we had to go, that it was time to leave the island so that my older brother, Russell, could get a first rate education. The plan was to drive cross country from Miami and settle in San Francisco so that my brother could finish high school before going on to UC Berkeley. But, once we got there in the fall of 1968, we found that …

You Can Have Your Snow Day #ThrowbackThursday

Photo by Adam Kloketka via My Modern Met

I love the snow. As long as it’s out and I’m in. Despite the romantic appeal of the sound of the crunch of snow beneath a pair of brand new leather boots on a starlit Christmas night, snow is cold. Too cold for me.

Growing up in Canada, winter days could get so cold that not only did the freezing temps blanket the ground with two feet of white fluff, a severely cold winter could cause the falls to freeze over completely. That's happened this year, the cold snap transforming the falls into something from a sci-fi flick.

Back in my day, along with those snowfalls came some painful cases of popsicle toes. As a child, I’d hobble in from outside and stand next to the radiator, pain stabbing at my feet, tears pricking my eyes while my mother gently unbuckled my snow boots so she could rub my numb feet back to life. 

Living in Southern California my snow days, thankfully, are far behind me. Winter—real winter—has just never been my season. Even when my father made an ice rink in our backyard, hosing down the backyard, freezing slowly layer by layer, I never liked skating. My ankles hurt, and to be honest I wasn't very good at it, lurching around the skating rink like a toddler trying out their first steps. 

I went skiing a few times in my early twenties; spent a few weekends at Mammoth and Big Bear. Again, my ankles hurt, my muscles ached, but mostly my toes were just too damned cold. You go ahead and conquer the mountain, you can tell me all about it apres ski. I'll be inside with the fireplace, hot toddies and the munchies . 

While there have been winters when I’ve forgotten how much the cold and I do not see eye to eye, a quick trip up the 10 to Arrowhead or Big Bear reminds me I’m over that bad boy. I’m happy to live somewhere kids make angels, not in the snow, but in the sand. When our son Russell was growing up, the weather was never a reason to cancel school. Snow days? Not a thing. 

Speaking of Snow Days, here's a Throwback Thursday story about one of mine.

It was only a few miles from our gloomy old house on Ryerson Crescent to our family’s new split level across town in Cherrywood Acres but it could just as easily have been light years away. It was a whole different world out there in the barely built development where the cherry orchards used to be, everything bright and shiny and newer than new. 

We moved to the new neighborhood in the middle of fifth grade, in the middle of winter. I hated Niagara Falls in the winter, when sometimes it got so cold that the falls actually froze, the water turned into ice sculptures as it churned over the bank of the Niagara River. The cold, the snow, the ice and the hockey, I hated it all. But there was no escape. 

None of us three kids wanted to move away from our friends even if the new house was pretty and filled with light but our mother wanted that modern split level with the attached garage so badly she wasn’t going to let our whining ruin things. Instead she took us shopping for winter boots to wear on our first day at the new school. Like we were supposed to think it was some big treat. As if we’d be so thrilled to wear new galoshes that we’d completely forget how mad we were to leave our old school and all our friends behind. My brother wasn’t going to waste any part of a Saturday on shopping so it was just my mother, my sister and me.

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