Penny Palace

Penny Palace

Saturday, May 25, 2013


The first surprise was the dogs waking me at 6 a.m. to go outside.  It’s a Saturday and I wanted to sleep until 7!

The next surprise was much better.  A one-sentence email from Sasha: “Hi Tina! I have received the play book !!!”  More details of that on the Sasha Blogsite. That was a great start to the day.

The next great surprise was the arrival of son Brian to help Doc install a data and weather logging system.  Doc bought that unit six months ago and the box has been just sitting in his home office.  While I was inside the house frantically searching for a needed receipt, gathering supplies, checking emails, packing gear, and changing into clothes for the party, they were outside working on the system. 

I was very surprised when I walked out the door to load gear into my truck.  Doc and Brian had mounted a horrible looking 2x4 raw piece of lumber to the side of our beautiful arbor!  And it projected at least 4 ft. above the arbor!  I wistfully asked if perhaps they were joking and doing that to “pull my chain”.  They were not.  It was the easiest and most logical place to mount the pole.  I was supposed to be leaving for the Surprise Luncheon (which I had organized). I was torn!  I needed to be on time to the restaurant, yet I could NOT let those two guys continue with their installation in that location.  I needed their cooperation and understanding before I could leave!  They found a second location and began installing there.  That would be right in front of a window and hide my raccoon as well. Not aesthetically pleasing there either!  We finally settled on Location #3 and I was on my way to the Luncheon.

I stopped to pick up balloons for the Surprise 50th Birthday luncheon.  I was totally frazzled and the brain was on last minute details:  “Did I have the Special Menu?  What about all the gear for the park? etc.”  I hopped out of the truck and almost stepped on a penny. Surprise!  I had not even thought about coins today. It was if the Angels were saying, “Relax!  All will go well”.

I arrived at the restaurant, went over final details with the manager, then went to a nearby store to hide until JJ’s expected noon arrival.  Just moments before noon, my phone rang and my heart jumped. I was expecting JJ’s wife to say they were seated and ready.  Surprise!  Instead it was one of my renters saying that her kitchen faucet needed fixing ASAP.  I told her it would have to wait a few hours and I could not talk to her at that moment.

For the next 30 minutes I watched every car that came into that shopping center. Finally my friends arrived.  Whew!  Two restaurant hostesses assisted me by bringing in the balloons and taking a photo after I surprised JJ by acting as a waitress saying “Perhaps you would like to order from our special Birthday Menu?”  He was definitely surprised. 

There were numerous other minor surprises: 
=    Brian and Doc washing the 38 Chevy (it has collected dust for several years)
=    A new battery and test run of the car to get it ready for Sasha’s arrival (it has not moved in a year)
=    Doc’s brother calling to say it is time to sell their parents’ house.

Each day is such an exciting adventure (or compilation of several).  How could anyone say life is boring?  LOL

Monday, May 13, 2013

Thanks Lou?

A few weeks ago when Sasha was given the date of June 6, for his next interview, that date sounded familiar to me.  Took me a while to realize that was the date 5 years ago when my friend Lou passed away.  He and I had been friends since high school.  For the final month of his life, I was at his hospital bedside nearly every night after work.  I would then go home and email his family and friends (many of whom were out of state) about the occurrences of his day.  He was no longer able to speak which was agony for him since his PASSION was communication and film.

When I realized the COINcidence of the June 6 date, I “talked” to Lou.  He was a good persuader when he was on Earth, so I asked him if maybe he would assist on The Sasha Project from the Other side?  Maybe “speak” persuasively to the Embassy interviewing agent or something?

Last week I received an email from a Ph.D. Student at USC.  He and his professor are conducting research on “bloggers who update their blogs frequently and write about the occurrences of their everyday lives”.  They plan to work with 15-20 persons and had searched many blogsites, before coming across mine.  Also as part of this study, they are filming a documentary “to bring attention to the human, and relatable, side of our research…”  I emailed them asking for more details as well as sharing a few of my objectives for the two blogs.

Today Sonia called and said that the Human Interest part of the blog was just what she was seeking!  The next step was to schedule the film crew to come out to the Penny Palace.  After talking to her I wondered, “How/Why would a research team from USC be ‘lead’ to our blogsite out of the thousands of potential options?”  Then I remembered -- I had asked for Lou’s assistance from the other side!  He was extremely proud of earning his B.S. degree in the Film School at USC!  COINcidence?  Thanks Lou?!

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Passion Project

What fuels YOUR Spirit?  What are you Passionate about? When you wake up each morning are you eager to greet the new day and spend at least a few moments of the day with your “Passion Project?” 

A Passion Project is something which keeps you so exhilarated that you almost don’t need sleep or food when you are immersed in it.  It’s similar when you are in love - the rest of the world fades away and life is Grand!

For Sasha, becoming proficient in the English language is one of his Passions.  (Read below). My Passion these past few years has been construction of the Penny Palace.  Prior to that, some Passion Projects were: raycing a solar-powered car across Australia’s Outback, creating memorable experiences for my engineering students, organizing a “final tour of friends” for someone who was dying, putting together a special honeymoon for a deserving couple, and numerous other adventures. 

What are YOUR Passion Projects?  Perhaps hiking the Grand Canyon, running a marathon, climbing a mountain, renovating an old home, decorating elaborate cakes, tending to a beautiful garden, coaching your kid’s sports team …  What makes your Spirit Soar?

Today Sasha wrote:

“…thanks to this project, I am totally immersed into English having a trigger, a drive to think in English, communicate actively and giving comments. You have made me using English as the second language, waking me up from the laziness life routine. … THANK YOU.  I would like to stay on the ‘journey’ regardless the outcome. The most important thing is to be active in life... I have been awakened, charged (infected) somehow with your energy."

Thought for Today: With YOUR Spirit charged, who, in turn, can YOU charge?