February 18, 2010


     I was a waitress at a Chinese Restaurant in Roseburg, Oregon.  A middle-aged man sat in my station and I brought him a menu.  After we greeted each other, I took his order.

     "Where are you from?"  I asked.

     "I'm from Oregon," he answered with a nasalized accent.

     I took his menu and came back with a pot ot tea.  I thought him to be from somewhere in Europe. 

     "Where were you born?  You must've moved to Oregon when you got older, huh?"

     "No, I was born in Oregon?"

     I delivered his order still trying to pinpoint the region of his accent.

     "You must've spent time in another country as kid, huh?"

     "No.  I've never been out of Oregon."

     My last trip to deliver his check and see if could bring dessert, I was determine to solve his accent.
     "I know....I bet your parents are from another country.  Don't tell me.  Let me guess.  It's Germany isn't it!"

     He didn't answer right away.   But he finally gave in to my endless interrogation and with a soft voice he said,

     "I had a throat operation when I was five."

February 17, 2010



     I'm in a bad area of Inglewood trying to deliver a rush order to "Acme Heating & Air".  The traffic is a mess.  I've circled the block three times, and there is no place to park.  So I pulled into the parking lot of Riken Tire, right next door to my delivery.  I stepped out of my car and was walking toward the sidewalk when the foreign owner came running after me.

     "HEY LADY...You can't park here!"

     "I promise I'll be back in one minute.  There's no where else to park."  On most days I would follow the letter of the law and move my car.  I didn't want to upset that crazy little foreign man, but I had to park somewhere.

     "NO WAY!"  He screamed as I ran next door to make my delivery.  I was back in a flash.  What is the harm in that?  Lord have mercy on my justified parking offense.

     When I returned to my car, the "mad tire man" was on my tail with a Doberman pinscher, he called Killer, by his side.

     "You're not going any place," he said.  "I'm locking you in here while I call the police."

     "Fine," I said. "Call the police."  I sat in my car.


     "I'll call them when I feel like it.  You can just stay here until I get ready."  He pulled the front gate shut, clamped the lock down, and said he might keep me there all day.  It looked like he had control of the situation as he and his dog walked off smugly speaking a foreign language.  They disappeared into the huge warehouse that was stacked with rows of tires.

     (10:56 AM)... I am shaking mad.  Trapped in the parking lot of Riken Tire by a controlling wild-eyed alien.  He is sorely mistaken if he thinks I'm staying here for one more minute.  I have an appointment.  The only way out is to take my chances with the killer guard dog.  I'm leaving notes behind to trace my steps in case I don't make it back.

     On a rush of pure adrenalin and the wings of a prayer, I stepped out of my car and carefully walked inside the warehouse.  I did not see him or the dog anywhere. 

     "HEY!... MISTER."  Dead silence.  I yelled for him until he finally came around the corner.  I was thankful he didn't have his dog with him.

     "WHAT DO YOU WANT!?"  He was extremely agitated.

     "Did you call the police?"

     "No.  I'll call them when I'm ready."

     "You'd better call them NOW," I said. "Or let me use your phone and I'll call them."

     "You're not using my phone.  I'm teaching you a lesson.  I'm making you stay here."

     "You can't keep me here against my will!" 

     "Yes I can."

     "OH..NO..YOU..CAN'T,"  I yelled at the top of my lungs.

     As we screamed at each other, I ran to the fence and flagged down a pedestrian, "CALL THE POLICE.  Tell them I've been kidnapped!"

     The black man shrugged his shoulders and nonchalantly said, "I don't wanna get involved, lady."
He walked by without missing a step.

     The tire man was in my face.  I was livid.
     "You cannot make me stay here.  I will climb over that fence."  Wearing high-heels and a business suit with a short skirt,  I planted one foot above the other and scaled up the chain link fence.  I was shaking so bad I could hear my teeth chatter.  I threw one leg over the top bar preparing to climb down the other side and make my break, when Mr. Idiot unlocked the gate and swung it open.  There I was straddled on top of the gate as though I was riding a horse, hanging on for dear life, with my skirt hiked up over my underwear.

    Soon as the gate opened, I bolted to the ground in a blind rage.  Forgive me Father for I have sinned.  With a vein-popping scream, I called him a terrorist and told him to go back to his own bleeping country.  And take your dog with you.  I have never been so mad in my entire life.  Well, maybe once or twice.  My head was shaking uncontrollably.  I informed him that I was going to the pay phone across the street to call the police. 

     That's when I noticed the people on the sidwalk who had gathered to watch me.  I drove across the street to the phone booth and called Joseph.  I could barely get my story out, through the tears and trembling vocal cords.


     Joseph said, "You shouldn't have parked there, babe."

     I drove to my office in Los Angeles to cancel my appointment.  I was a wreck and told my boss the devastating details of my ordeal.  He wished he had a picture of that.  He said he'd get it in the newspaper with the caption. "Burke employee goes to any length to make a sales call."  He laughed till he cried and then he laughed some more.

     I left the office and stopped by Joseph's warehouse on the way home.  I couldn't believe that he, too, was laughing about my earlier phone call and hostage report.  I don't think that being kidnapped is really that funny.

     All the way home I planned how I was going to spend the money from the huge settlement I'd be getting from the lawsuit.  After sorting through forty-three yellow pages of attorneys, one of them finally took my call.  He said that I don't have a case because I parked illegally in the first place.

     "So that gives him a right to kidnap me?"

     "Looks like it,"  the attorney said.

     For in America you can run over your baby if you have post partum depression and kill people if you've eaten too many twinkies.  That's why foreigners like this country.  They can kidnap a salesperson for a one-minute parking violation and get away with it.  In his country they'd cut off his legs if he did that.

     I phoned the Inglewood Police.  The officer suggested calling a civil attorney tomorrow.  He said to slap a suit on that guy.  Nothing ever came of it.  All I ended up with was a good story to tell, and another

"somebody-done-me-wrong" song.

     After I took a hot bath and settled down, I called Alice. 

     "Do I have a story for you..."

     She depends on me for entertainment.  Her husband, Paul, and their children, Richelle and Richard, live in Tustin Territory, Population-4,  a remote area out of Winston, Oregon. 

     They only get one channel on their TV and half the time it's reruns.  Sometimes they can get a 2nd channel.  If it's a really important show Paul will climb on the roof and turn the antennae.  Alice loved my story.  She said she'd tell Paul and it would be all over the mill tomorrow. 


February 15, 2010


     I spent years exhuming suppressed emotions trying to untangle myself with self-help books, and any New-Age nonsense or psycho-babble that came down the pike.  Like macrobiotics, an eastern way of eating that claimed to be a panacea.  The perfect balance of yin and yang.  If you eat brown rice for fourteen days and cook it the right way, you will have perfect health and "nirvana" and blah...blah...blah.  I did as they said and all I got was constipated.  Another false teaching crossed off my list.

     In my search for the true and living God, I ran down many wrong paths chasing after satan who presented himself as an angel of light.   I was exposed to people through Transcendental Meditation (TM) with bizarre beliefs which opened many doors with new areas to explore. 

     I studied Jane Roberts who wrote books through a spirit guide named "Seth".  And Marrianne Williamson who was the guru for the hip Hollywood people and wrote the "Course in Miracles" which was set up in chapter and verse just like the Bible.  Then there was "est" (Erhardt Seminar Training), Gestalt Therapy, and much more.

     One thing lead to another, and another, and always another.  I had no idea that I was going deeper into the world of the occult.  There was no end to the study, until I had a nervous breakdown with only one place to go and that was the feet of Jesus.  It was like the scales fell off my eyes and I knew that everything I chased after was false.

     My brother had given me information from his church about eastern religion and the dangers of Transcendental Meditation.  I was looking for God in all the wrong places and blind to the truth.   I believe the seeds he planted saved me from crashing and burning on the fast track to hell.  In my spirit I know that Ronnie and Rosie prayed our family into the Kingdom of God.

     When I was too little to remember, I made a vow to be a "good girl".  There was enough turmoil in my family without adding more to the mix.  My brother had an explosive temper and stood up to my tough Texas mother like a raging bull.  The battles were fierce, but she always made him do right.  He turned out to be a fine man.  She was the boss of our family and demanded complete control.  My dad and I surrendered to her - my brother fought her tooth and nail.

     I stuffed my negative emotions so deep that I honestly didn't know they existed until years later when they bubbled to the surface disguised as physical and emotional problems.  The buried feelings were like a deep-rooted malignant tumor that I had to dig out with a pick ax.

     I had no idea what to do with the piles of negative crap that came out of me.  I couldn't wade through it by myself.  That's when Jesus Christ showed up and said He would clean up the mess for me.  He's not finished with me yet.  It's a long and painful process but at least I'm on the right road with a dependable Savior who will lead and guide me every step of the way.  If I let him.

     When I finally found myself, I didn't like me.  Among other things,  my search unleashed a monster temper that sometimes had a mind of its own, and without notice would stand up for me like an erupting volcano.

     The following story was taken from my journal as an example of how I finally learned to stand up for myself - most of the time.  I was the outside sales person for a large company who sold replacement parts to heating and air conditioning companies.

(to be continued)

February 14, 2010



     "Joseph, let's go to Disneyland.  They're running a special for California residents.  It's only $28.00
to get in today.   I need a break from my ill parents and drug-addicted children."   I was weary of life and thought it would make the world go away.

     He didn't want to go.  "If I had wanted to see Disneyland, I would've seen it by now."

     I didn't believe him.  How could anybody not want to see Disneyland? 

     "You know where the football players go after they win the Super Bowl Game, don't you?  They go to Disneyland."

     When his kids were little he took them to "Six Flags Over Texas".  They stayed from early morning until late at night.  He told himself he'd never do that again.  Joe said he used to like child things when he was a child.  But now he's an adult and he doesn't care much about doing child things anymore.

     He doesn't know what he's talking about.  "You can't compare Disneyland to Six Flags."  I never make him do anything.  Mostly because I can't.  I need a change of scenery - BAD, and "No" was not an option.

     Oh, he will be so surprised.  He's gonna love it!


     I felt like a little child again.  I threw my arms up in the air and marched through the house singing,
"M-I-C... See you real soon.  K-E-Y...Why?  Because I like you.  M-O-U-S-E-eeee".

     We're going to Disneyland!  The happiest place in the world.  It says so on the sign.

     YES!  Let's get this show on the road.

     The freeway was jammed with traffic and the drive was full of creative Texas cusswords.  After waiting thirty minutes to park the car, and standing in a long line to buy our tickets, Joseph had an attitude chip on his shoulder before we walked through the gates of the Magic Kingdom.  I forced him into going but he was determined not to like it.

     I wanted him to chart the day and pick out sights that he wanted to see, but he showed no interest in anything.  I took him to see "Great moments with Abraham Lincoln".  Instead of reading all the interesting history notes, like he usually does, he sat on the bench to wait for the show to start.  The hostess explained how everything in the exhibit is historically correct.

     Husband leans over and tells me, "The capital building behind Abraham Lincoln is not correct.  The original one was destroyed in the War of 1812.  It was being rebuilt during Lincoln's term.  AND...(for my information) the Rotunda of the Texas State Captial is taller than the National Capital. 
AND...if they are going to animatronic Lincoln back to life, he should dang sure give the Gettysburg Address."


     The only thing that piqued his interest was the New Orleans Square.  He flashed back to the Morning Call Cafe where you can get a Beignet (French donut) and a good cup of coffee.  Cafe New Orleans was closed.   So was the Pirates of the Caribbean.  The one ride he might've enjoyed.

     We stood in a long line at the famous French Market.  They had never heard of a Beignet and only had expresso.  They didn't sell the chickory roast blend that Joseph craved.  After he read the advertised special was "steak gumbo", he wouldn't eat there.  He gave me the lowdown on gumbo.  "You don't make gumbo with steak.  You make it with rue.  You take a guinea hen and boil it for the stock.  Some people take a fat hen.  That is how you make real gumbo."

     "Joe, let's go on those little cars you drive by yourself."
     "No thanks, babe.  If you want to go, I'll watch you, and wave when you drive by."


     When I was seven years old, my family was visiting at Aunt Mary's house.  I sat at the kitchen table with my big brother and older cousins, Butch and Tommy.  We were all excited about going to Disneyland in two weeks.  Butch told me that I wasn't tall enough to go on the little cars you drive by yourself.  The boys agreed that it was the best ride in the whole park.

     Ronnie said, "You gotta drink lots of milk.  It will make you grow tall enough by the time we go to Disneyland."

     Butch poured a glass full of milk and sat it on the table in front of me.  I drank it down and he poured another.  I told him that my stomach hurt and I couldn't drink anymore.


     Butch told me to drink up.  "I've already poured it, and my mom will be mad if you waste our milk."  The boys would not take "no" for an answer.  They put the pressure on me as I struggled to choke down one glass after another.

     And then..... I ran for the bathroom, down the long hallway, with white projectile vomit shooting out of my mouth - leaving puddles on Aunt Mary's new wall-to-wall carpeting.

     The boys were in big trouble for being milk bullies.  Punish me.  I'm the pea-brained moron who drank the milk.   Give me 40-lashes for taking leave of my own senses and submitting to their cruel prank.   Would somebody, please, teach me to say "NO!" so I don't drink the Jonestown kool-aid when I grow up.


     I was getting madder by the minute after Joe refused to drive the little cars with me. 
     I had a spark of hope.  He loves Tex Ritter.  "I know what you'll like," I said as I grabbed his hand.  "Let's find the Bear Jamboree. They have this big bear who sings that Tex Ritter song you love so much. "Blood on my Saddle."  It's really funny."   Tex Ritter used to live in Joe's hometown - Nederland, Texas.
     We waited in a crowd of people for the show to start.  Tigger, from Winnie the Pooh, came bouncing through the crowd and playfully pushed Joseph from behind.  He was trying to elbow Tigger and crank his tail.

     "JOSEPH.  NO!"

     They took the Tex Ritter song out of the act. 


Joe said, "Those mechanical bears were really something 40 years ago.  But with all the new technology, they aren't nothin' by today's standards."  He didn't understand why all the dumb people would be clapping for a tape recorded performance by mechanical bears. 

     He didn't like anything.  "That bleepin' castle doesn't look like it did on television when that little-bitty-flittin' fairy touched it with a wand."

     We rode the Disneyland Railroad.  I got whacked hard on the back of the head by a man carrying a fold-up stroller.  Oh, this is fun.  I never knew I could have such a rotten time at the happiest place in the world. 

     Joe was trying to figure out some mathematical formula on how much money they make in one day.  He was sure they paid off the park years ago, and why can't they charge less instead of more?  And who would ride on those little boats?  Is that all they do is go around in a circle?  The children were singing,  "It's a small world after all.  It's a small, small world."

     I was miserable.  My spirit was in a tailspin.  I have wonderful childhood memories from these sacred grounds, and he's stepping all over them.  He wished that he would've brought his book so he could sit by the pretty flowers and read...

     "That's it," I said.  "Why don't we just leave?"

     "Good idea."  That was the happiest moment of his day.  We stayed less than two hours. 

     "Expensive walk,"  he said as we made our way through the parking lot.

     "Joseph.  People come from all over the world to see Disneyland."

     "I bet they were really PO'd."

     We sat in traffic on the way home.  His only regret was that he didn't buy me any Mickey Mouse ears.