Friday, April 13, 2012


All the past and future BOBB stories are now on

this site will no longer be maintained

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A note to BOBB Followers:  
Still learning how to move you to but, as soon as we figure it out we will let you know.

See y'all at

photo by hansol

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

WISDOM Wednesday: Grand Father’s Little Girl

This story written by Malati Marlene Shinazy

My Grand Father was one of the most important people in my life.  He was the first man I loved and was my life teacher.  While other grandchildren called him Gramps or Granddaddy, I declared our loving attachment by providing him a designation of my choosing.  Only I would call him, “Grand Father.”

He had little formal education.  Instead, Grand Father had street smarts and tenacity. He was a Merchant Marine during the war, then a Merchant Seaman. He started from the lowest rungs of the hierarchy, bus boy, and rose to the level of Chief Stewart for international shipping companies.

When I was five years old, Grand Father taught me to read and write so we could correspond during the long months he was off to Hawaii, then Japan, then back again.  His letters were filled with encouragement and the unconditional love only a Grand Father could bestow his “Little Girl.”

Whenever I was fearful I couldn’t accomplish something, and some adult was suggesting I give up, Grand Father would gently scold me in a letter (gently, because he knew I cried easily),

“You don’t believe anything anyone else tells you.  You are just as smart as everyone else, so you can do anything you put your mind to.”

Months at sea also meant months at home!  Grand Father and I had an exclusive four-note whistle salutation.  As I’d run through Nana’s  kitchen asking where Grand Father was, I could hear his half of the greeting coming from outside.  Out I’d run to the top of the steps.  Stop.  Catch my Breath.  Then send my two notes.  We’d continue the volley of whistling until I located him.

Once found, I’d instantly help with whatever task was at hand.  When he’d be doing laundry, Grand Father would hand me an item of clothing from the washtub and I’d feed it through electric rollers which squeezed out excess water …  before we hung it on the clothesline.

My habit was to push the hanky, sock, towel, etc., through the wringer too fast — which meant my fingers would be pulled in with the clothes and pinched between the rollers.  Fortunately, the dangerous hand-eating thing would suddenly pop open with a loud onerous sound, and stop.  Grand Father would patiently pat my smashed and reddened fingers, reminding me that I had to feed the beast slowly, carefully, and with attention not to get too close to the rollers.

I’m actually surprised I didn’t end up with gnarled, broken fingers, as inevitably five or six times in every wash cycle, I’d push something through without paying attention to impending danger… until:  “Owwwww!”  Pop!  Loud onerous sound!  And, stop!  Grand Father would give me the patient warning again - and hand me another sock.

Words and actions of unconditional love and encouragement …  Grand Father would laugh if he knew how I continue to act as though I can achieve “anything I put my mind to,” despite my fingers getting pinched on occasion.

photo by Bob n Renee and Molki

Monday, April 9, 2012

Spring Cleaning

 by Shinazy

     I’m a city girl surrounded by distractions.  When I want to go out to eat, I just step out the door and within a half a mile - I can eat the food of any nation on the planet.  If I want to see a movie, I just check Fandango and within a 10-minute drive, I can watch any film.  There are plays, musicals, comedies, and lectures.  I’m always entertained.
     This weekend I’m in the country, or I should say COUNTRY.  There’s no movie house.  Tonight, a Friday night - date night – the area’s one non-American cuisine restaurant has six customers (including my aunt and me) and the only gas station stopped accepting credit cards last year. 

     The background dim of the big city is absent, no traffic noise, no airplane flyovers.  The other main distractions are also missing … no internet access and my smartphone decides to go unplugged as well.

     It’s raining.  The only sound reaching my ears are the drops hitting the gutter with such force that I first thought I was hearing gunshots.  If the weather were dryer and warmer, I’d be out on the lake or hiking in the hills.  But it’s hailing and frosty causing me to feel a bit wimpy, so I stay inside and visit with my aunt.  

     Aunt Judy owns a museum size art-glass collection.  These colorful, transparent objects sit on glass shelves in deep glass windows - big open spaces with no definition between inside and outside.  There are so many pieces the windows appear as though they were made of stained glass.  Today the art has a grayish haze about them – is it the reflection of the rainy sky? 
 The house has gone through winter, sealed tight to protect her from the damp chill.  The pellet stoves roar all day and night exhaling warm breath.  It’s a house ready for spring cleaning and I have nothing else to do.
  I’m afraid to touch these pieces – fragile and unforgiving, one wrong move in the sink and I’ll have a pile of worthless glass confetti.  One by one, each piece gets a bath and emerges … sparklingly beautiful.  With Windex in one hand and newspaper in the other, I attack the shelves, the windows – inside and out.  The cleaning has my full attention, no distractions. 
     The sun just broke through the clouds and houses across the lake are glowing silver.  There’s no longer smog hovering on the surface of one piece of glass.  I found this activity enjoyable because, unlike my work, at the end of the day, when I’m finished doing all I can do, I can see the results of my effort – spotless, transparent, pristine, gleaming glass. 

     I think I’ll go home and spring clean . . .  Everything.

photo by fdecomite & ellenm1

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

WISDOM Wednesday: When Are We Old Enough to Call Someone, “Honey”?

Back by popular demand! 

This story written by Malati Marlene Shinazy

     “Hello Honey, I’m so glad to see you.”  With that greeting, a sweet matronly woman would take my hand and lead me into a fitting room at the cozy ultra-pink shop named Kay Burt’s Corset Corner.  From my first-ever masterfully-determined-perfect-brassiere-for-my size-shape-and-age visit until I left for college, I was met with these words. 

     Being fitted for a bra became a treasured ritual - a rite of passage.  And, it always started with the same sincerely spoken welcome, “Hello, Honey, I’m so glad to see you.”  Forget that the bra fitting women were as dedicated and precise as NASA engineers.  Forget my mother’s annual lecture that we would never purchase an actual corset because, “If you wear one, you won’t hold in your stomach, and it’ll turn flabby.”  The most impactful part of this ritual was being warmly called, “Honey.”

     In the back of my teen-aged mind, I couldn’t wait until I was old enough to call others, “Honey.”  Somehow, I just knew, when I grew up, I too would call people, “Honey.”

     I think I’m old enough now, or close to it, or might be getting close to it soon.  So, a few months ago, I just dove in and started calling people, “Honey” or “Hon.” It never felt awkward.  It felt warm, friendly, and welcoming, just like I remembered.

     Last week, the sky fell … A male friend told me in no uncertain terms that when I called people “Honey,” it sounded condescending … WHAT?  How could it?  I remembered it so fondly as a wonderful expression of warm sincerity.

     I doubted the wisdom of my friend and decided to conduct a little social research by asking others what they thought.  The young teller at the bank said, “Well I wasn’t really paying attention.”  The much-older-than-me gentleman in my service club thought I was just flirting with him.  And on it went.  Person after person was asked and not one heard my sweet matronly term as an expression of warmth and sincerity.  Oh, no.  Maybe my friend was right.

     Finally, I got an answer that made sense.  It came from a woman who was about my age, or close to it, or might be getting close to it soon.  She told me that we are only allowed to call someone “Honey” if the person is family or much younger - and never a customer service employee.  Otherwise, she said, “It sounds like you are talking down to the person.”  She also told me I didn’t look old enough to get away with it.  In the back of my mind, all I could think was, “You mean, a lifetime of exercise and organic food, plus decades of not wearing a corset so my abs would stay taut has come back to haunt me?”

     But since the sky had not actually fallen, I wonder: Will I ever be “old enough” to call someone “Honey”? Perhaps not.

     Maybe I’ll try, “Darlin’” next.

 photo by alsjhc

Monday, April 2, 2012

Easter Nest

by Shinazy

     My mother loves the pageantry of holidays and celebrates with couture-runway flair.  In my youth, when Easter approached, she would start the search for the next new outfit; for me it was time for another magical visit to the ancestral homestead in Colma.
     Every year when the daffodil emerged from the dirt, I knew we would soon be shopping for the perfect dresses, bonnets, gloves, and shoes.  My two younger sisters and I – life size ‘Russian-nesting-dolls’ – would wait, hands folded in our laps, while shop ladies scurried about to find three identical suitable Easter dresses. 

     Although we did this every year, I only remember wishing that this year’s frock would be long enough to cover the scabs and bruises on my tomboy knees.  These shopping trips ended with the purchase of black patent leather strapped shoes called Mary Jane.  (I secretly called my shoes Sally, in honor of my former imaginary friend who moved away once my sisters were old enough for me to boss – but that’s another story.)
     The purpose of these outfits was that we looked stylish for the Easter Parade, the annual spring photo shoot at my grandmother’s – Pauline, aka Gigs. 

     Before I was born, Uncle George decided that Easter needed more than just baskets and eggs sitting on the dining room table.  One year he returned from the yard with an armful of weeds that he lovingly arranged on the table; this was the start of my family’s Easter Nest.  When my generation increased in size, the nest moved to the front porch, where Aunt Judy decorated it with daffodils.
     Every year, my sisters, brother, cousins, and I would stand in single file waiting for Gigs to adjust the focus and light meter on her cameras.  We would then parade past the Easter Nest, then pose around the nest, then pose with our baskets, then pose, and pose.  These movies and photos memorialize a tradition - a time in a family’s history.
     When my daughter was old enough to understand that the Easter Bunny delivered sugary goods and multi-colored eggs, I continued the Easter Nest custom, sans, the clothes shopping excursion.  We lived in an apartment and had no lawn to mow or weeds to pull for the supply of nest building material; so coworkers would provide garage bags filled with freshly cut green clippings.  The front door landing became the site for our first Easter Nest.  Some of my favorite holiday pictures of my daughter and son are the Easter Nest photos.
     The Shinazy clan has produced another generation of wide-eyed cherub faces to smile at the wonder of the Easter Nest.  Although we no longer live within 20 miles of each other, continuing the tradition keeps the family connected and our stories carry on. 

photo by somewhereintheworldtoday & feeliz