My Thoughts... Exactly!

Hey, you wanna know what I think?

Category: Lauren

My Princess

Honey Bee (Zee Avi Cover, Performed by Lauren Darrow)

Get the Flash Player to see this player.

Lauren and her friend Kenny got together and recorded this little tune in his home studio. Simple and cute. Lauren did all the vocals and flutes, and Kenny did the guitar and body-rhythm sounds.

Please download your own copy, free, to play on your iPod or other MP3 player. (PCs right-click here and choose Save Target As… – Macs, Option-Click here)

Only the Beginning

Lauren riding next to meOut for a causal Saturday Morning Date with my daughter Lauren, last Saturday, I was awakened to the realities of this life; this world; my world.

Her world to be.

Pulling up at a stoplight in the rightmost of 2 left-turn lanes to the freeway on-ramp, I was casually talking with my daughter, my left arm resting on the open window frame of the driver’s side and the sunroof open to the gorgeous sunny day, when all of a sudden a loud shout came from my left.

A teen-man voice cut the air. “Hey, is that your daughter, man?! She’s hot!

My daughter and I immediately started laughing, as we saw the middle passenger of 3 male occupants of the pick-up truck leaning out the window across his right-hand buddy with frighteningly hormone-crazed eyes and the biggest goofy smile you’ve ever seen.

The driver punched the gas as the signal mercifully turned green at that instant, and the middle passenger, now struggling waist-deep out the window, shouted as they stormed ahead, “I love you!” and blew a kiss.

My daughter lost it. She laughed until tears came to her eyes.

As they sped off ahead into the distance, I jokingly asked her if it would be okay with her if I caught up with them and shouted back to im, “She’s fourteen, you perv!”

She just laughed.

Beauty is both a blessing and a curse.

Duck Park

When my children were little, they got to visit Grandma and Grandpa Darrow (Doris and Robert Darrow) on—unfortunately—too few occasions.

One of the things the kids could always count on when going to Gramp’nGramma’s—always pronounced as one word, and usually as one syllable, as my brother John pointed out to the crowd at my father’s memorial service—was a trip with my mom to “Duck Park.”

It was not really named Duck Park. It’s just the park that my mom would drive them to, and it had ducks. And we took bread to feed the ducks, which is always a memorable thing for a kid. Ducks are scary to a kid… they make loud noises, stink a little, have intense eyes, never smile, and sometimes don’t take food from a child’s hand very gently. Still, for all the negatives, feeding ducks is an exciting, memorable adventure.

My daughter Lauren was born 9 years after Drew, her oldest brother—the first of my children to make the pilgrimage to Duck Park, and like her brothers Drew and Greyson, she also got taken there by Grandma. She always remembered it fondly as a fun adventure.

When she and I drove to Mom’s home this past Christmas, I asked her on one of the drizzly, grey days there if she wanted to go to Duck Park with Grandma. I wasn’t sure if Lauren, nearing 14, would be at all interested in seeing ducks in a pond from her childhood.

She nodded excitely before I finished the question.

I should have known… Lauren’s older cousin Stephanie wanted to go there, too, in this same year when she was visiting. She’s 27!

For over a quarter of a century a tradition has reached deep into the next generation. It was nice to see my mom and Lauren still enjoying Duck Park.

Be sure to click the little picture, above right, for the rest of the picture.


I’ve been out of town and not blogging. I’ve been visiting my mom and brother John this past week with my daughter Lauren. Sunday night (a week ago) I got a little tickle in my throat, and since then I have been feverish, coughing sneezing and basically miserable.

As of today, I can say I have had a fever since sometime last year.

Nice welcome to 2006.

I had a choice: stay home and be sick, or travel and be sick. It was not an easy choice. In the end—even at age 48—I would rather be sick in the home my mom is in than anywhere else. So I packed up my flu and headed to Sunnyvale.

Poor Lauren got stuck here with nowhere to go and not a lot to do. I was in bed most of the time I was here, and now it’s late in the evening of the night before we are to head for home at 5am. Oh well.

It’s important to see family. I hope Lauren got that much from the trip. Actually, I hope she got a lot more.

I haven’t seen my mom in six months… since a week or so after my dad died. It’s different here now. Never got to see Dad. That was both expected and strange at the same time.

Mom’s doing pretty well.


The Science of Flipping

My daughter Lauren—demonstrating a terrific camera presence (in my humble opinion) as well as a keen understanding of the physics she’s learned—participated in a group effort to create a movie in Mr. Bird’s Science class at her school demonstrating what they are learning about motion and energy. Take a look at this short video.

She and her classmates took the opportunity to use the videos I caught of my son Greyson doing flips at the beach as shown in my earlier blog entry I Just About Flipped.

I just about flipped

Lauren is a fun frisbee partner; at 13 she can spin that thing a good 150–200 feet. She can also catch like a pro.

Yesterday—Sunday— was among the best days at the beach ever for me. It has been really hot, for Carlsbad. The air has been still and the sun beating down as if to say, “Get out of the house. Catch some waves. Enjoy what’s left of the summer!” Just being there with my daughter or my wife always makes it a great day.

But yesterday my son Greyson drove up here. Yeah. You read that right. And my first thought was, “I wish my dad could see this.”

Maybe he did. Maybe he has a little pull Up There after all.

Saturday’s date, August 27, marks two months since my father died. I know for a fact that he and my mother prayed daily for what occurred yesterday.

Greyson recently got his driver’s license. Even at 18 he didn’t need one before, since there was no car available to him. But he saved up his work money and bought a black Camry. Stylin’.

We talked a little while, then Lauren, Greyson and I headed down to the beach. We played a long game of three-way frisbee, splashing in the cool ocean waves, and just having a great time. [I am beat!]

Greyson demonstrated his acrobatic skills with a whole variety of back-flips… including this one, and a side view of the same. I always wished I could do that, but never had the courage.

To my amazement, he can just stand there and do this!

By pure coincidence, it was three years ago to-the-day that Greyson was last in my house. When I mentioned that to him, he said, “Well, I didn’t plan that…” to which I replied, “Good! Cuz I’m afraid to ask when you plan to come back!” 🙂

There’s so much more, but what a great day.

Lucky 13

I am a firm and devout believer of the event in one’s life known as the Magic Birthday. It’s when you turn the same age as the day of your birth, for example when I turned 16 on the 16th of June. But of course, that was decades ago.

Lauren, my youngest daughter, turns 13 today… and “as luck would have it” it is Friday the 13th. Fortunately for all of us—knock on wood—we’re not superstitious. (And no, you’re not imagining things… Drew’s birthday was only two days ago).

Lauren Danielle Darrow was born to her mother Andrea and me, in my first marriage, 13 very quickly-passing years ago, and has since grown into a beautiful, intelligent, enthusiastic, talented young woman… right before my eyes. She is also my favorite and continual Rock Balancing partner. It is in her honor that I balanced these rocks today.

Happy Birthday, Princess!

(Don’t worry, Honey, you get presents, too).

Incredible Thoughtlessness

In this post from a few days ago, I told about sitting through a second showing of The Incredibles with my daughter at a matinee.

Fortunately for my at-times-fluctuating sense of integrity, I have good friends and family who are interested in not only my well-being, but also, and more to the point, “what message does that send to your daughter?”

Admittedly, I sat through the second showing without giving much thought to the idea that it would be, as my friend challenged, like coming back the next day with my ticket stub and arguing that I’d already paid once, and I want to see it again for free. The message to my daughter has to be confusing at best. I’ll do my best to correct that, too.

One thing at a time.

I just got back from the theatre where I told them that I wanted to pay for a second set of matinee tickets that I should have purchased Sunday when my daughter and I had sat through a second showing of The Incredibles.

They were a little surprised, but rang up my two tickets, took their money and thanked me for my honesty.

Man, I hate it when my friend is right.

Now I have to tell my daughter I was wrong.


Incredible, Super

Saturday, my daughter Lauren and I went to the 11:00am showing of Pixar‘s The Incredibles.

There have been a number of hit movies all done with great voices and even better computer animation. I’ve seen almost all of them (for some reason Shark Tale doesn’t interest me). But I have to say without hesitation, The Incredibles is the best of this genre I have ever seen.

The first time I saw Mary Poppins when I was 7, I didn’t think anything could have been more magical. Then came Star Wars, Raiders of the Lost Ark, and finally, decades later Toy Story. Each of these was, in its turn, “the best movie I have ever seen.”

The Incredibles joins my all-time favorites. It is funny, exciting, and gorgeous as a work of art. Pixar did a very smart thing this time, too: they made all the people caricatures instead of trying to animate “realistic” humans, which always, at some level, kind of creeps me out. Remember Sid and his sister in Toy Story? Yikes!

When the movie was over my daughter sat dutifully with me through the full credits—I like to look for names of people I went to school with, like Tia Kratter among others, plus we like to see how often our own first names come up in the credits. It’s a little game we play. We lost count on the Davids, never noticed any Laurens, but did see one Pamela Darrow, to our surprise—and when the last little symbol scrolled up and off the screen and the theatre lights came up, I turned to Lauren and asked, So, you want to sit right here and watch it again?”

Her eyes went as big as saucers. “Are you serious?” (The poor girl has had to learn to ask her sarcastic father this honest question from time to time.)

“Yeah!” I said. “I’d love to see it again, if you’d like to.”

“Yesssssss!” she said with a note of victory in her voice.

We bought a 55 gallon drumful of popcorn and butter-flavored motor oil, 2 sodas, a bag of Hot Tamales and a bag of Mike and Ikes, and sat back down for lunch and a movie.


Update: before you write to me and tell me I was dishonest to sit through a second showing, be aware that I have already been told this, and that I agree, and that I have corrected it, paying for 2 more shows. [See this post]

Coming of Age

“Hydrocortisone in Murky Water”

That’s not as touching a title for this image as “Coming of Age.”

This image represents something to me that touches me deeply. It’s an image of the growing up we all do, and that we watch our children do. Passing from one age to the next, we also see internal changes; a new age of spirit and maturity.

My daughter Lauren turned 12 today; her birth in a small town in the East San Fernando Valley foothills is as vivid in my mind as if it happened last week. My baby girl actually smiled at me the day she was born.

“It’s probably just gas,” the midwife deflated. “Babies can’t smile.”

I have rested comfortably these 12 years knowing she was absolutely wrong—you see, an angel touched my heart that day.

A week and a half ago, when Lauren was with Teresa and I for the weekend, she came into the room telling me that “a tube of something fell off the shelf in the bathroom as I reached for my hairbrush. It fell right in the toilet… and I had just flushed it.”

“Is it gone forever?” I asked.

“No, I grabbed it out.”

I looked at her with stunned pride. As a smile broke across my face, she knew what I was getting at. She beamed, a little embarrassment reddening her face as I probed deeper, dramatically. “You grabbed it?! Out of the toilet?!”

“Uh huh!” she smiled.

“As it was still flushing?!”

“Uh huh!”

“But that means the water was still—”

“Uh huh!” she said, stuttering into a blast of laughter.

I got up and wrapped my arms around her. “I am proud of you! You are growing up!”

She wrapped her arms around me, accepting my accolades. I grabbed her arms, ripping them from my waist. “Ewwww! Did you wash your hands?” I joked.


I wrapped her arms back around me with a wink.

And I kissed the top of her head.

An hour later I wandered into the bathroom and found this scene. The hydrocortisone tube sitting in the bathroom sink, half-filled with murky, handsoap-tinged water.”

I smiled to myself, that my little girl was growing up—but she’s still my little girl.


Lauren and I just got off a cell call with my parents while Lauren joined me on my WebCam (not something I do often, okay?). We connected via Yahoo Messenger, and they were able to see a new frame every .75 seconds or so… not bad. It was fun. We got to chat, and they got to see their grandaughter from 400 miles away!

The cell phone was just so Lauren could talk to them, and then we used our Sony mini-DV hooked to the computer as the web cam, using firewire.

Click the picture to see the whole full-sized window.


What better way to start out the New Year than thinking about balance… and putting it into practice.

My daughter Lauren and I went to the beach today. Her request. She asked if we could balance rocks.

It’s become a bit of a tradition when she spends Christmas Vacation with me. We did our first Father-Daughter Rock session a bit over a year ago, on Christmas day, 2002.

We’ve actually balanced rocks together a few times since then, more by accident than plan. Like today.

Today’s stint, a meager hour and a half at most, was enveloped in a truly glorious sunset. I mean. this thing just kept coming on the whole time we were balancing. The sunset drew an enormous number of spectators. The weather was nice all day. People even sunned themselves, earlier.

And we managed to distract a sizeable crowd ourselves. One man winked as he claimed we made him spend “a whole roll of film on pictures of dumb rocks.” And I thought that’s why I went digital. I posted my pictures from earlier today.

Starting the year in balance, and with a God-made, inspiring painting in the sky, watching my daughter join the Polar Bear club, going all the way under in 55 degree water… does it get better than that?

Man, this is going to be a great year!

International Connections

Monday just before taking several paintings of mine to a local gallery for sale in December, I received an e-mail from a woman in Italy, confirming a sale of one of them, Goodbye…. She is excited to be able to get it, wired the money immediately, and asked me to mail it after Christmas when she’ll be back in Italy again after her Christmas trip to the States.

What’s remarkable about this is that just five years ago, it would have been pretty near impossible for this sale to have occurred. Joanne, my new collector in Italy, is literally a friend we’ve never met. Two or three years ago, my wife replied to an e-mail joke that was sent to her, and somehow managed to Reply To All (which is so embarrassing, if you’ve ever done that accidentally), and Joanne was one of several to have received my wife’s reply, since Joanne was on the sender’s TO: list.

Got that?

Well, my wife is a very funny woman; a pro at quick retorts and smart-aleck replies, and she made Joanne laugh. Joanne wrote to tell her just that, and added a few funny quips of her own, to which my wife replied, and so it went, on and on to this day. Only we’ve developed a friendship with Joanne, who is roughly our age, an American who’s lived in Italy for years with her Italian companion Luigi, and they’ve known each other as long as Teresa and I have known each other. We’ve ICQ‘d with her live from Italy, we’ve emailed political musings back and forth, talked of God and religion, talked on the phone with her when she comes to the States, and even received a beautiful Italian handmade glass bowl as a wedding present in January 2003.

And Monday, she bought my painting!

It’s always a tremendous feeling, to this day, after 24 years of doing art for sale in one form or another, to have someone buy the stuff I do. But this one is just that much more special, since, like other paintings I have sold to personal friends: it’s going to hang in the home of a friend.

I love that!

Apparently she’s been talking it up among her relatives. This morning I received a quick little e-mail from one of her Italian cousins, Mauro, telling me in a sentence or two how much he/she (can’t tell by the name, but assume it’s he) likes the art on my website, in particular “Goodbye…”

Now wasn’t that sweet?

The slightly broken English told me it was probably an ESL situation, which warmed my heart even more.

I replied with an appreciative note, and then, “to make it easier for Mauro” (?) decided to copy all of my English text into the translate this box on Google’s Translation Service, chose English to Italian, and then copied and pasted whatever it gave me as a translation.

Yeah, I just trusted it was close to Italian, and that it said something close to what I meant.

Doing this reminded me of an old joke from the 60s (yes, I remember jokes from the 60s — probably because I didn’t “go though the 60s” like some of you out there with glazed eyes and slurred speech):

The Russians and Americans were having such difficulty in communication that the Leaders of each country were delighted when someone showed them a powerful new computer that could translate from Russian to English and back again. (Now you have to remember, any such computer in the 60s would naturally be huge, fill up a room or two, have rubber mats on the floor so that you and other computer users could walk around the machine without slipping, would be festooned with myriad blinking lights and whirring 1/2-inch tape reels, and probably have a steel cat-walk around its second story. So picture that, as I did when I was 10).

So the Americans want to give this thing a try. They type in an English phrase, and after some tremendous processing time, blinking of lights, and shaking of this monstrosity, there’s a loud DING! and out from a slot pops a strip of paper with what appears to be Russian text. The American hands it to the Russian who reads it and smiles with delight.

[To make a long story short] this goes back and forth, language to language, to everyone’s great pleasure, with everyone feeling like they are finally having a relatively quick conversation… until someone realizes they still are not sure what the other is reading, because they don’t speak the language. So an American decided to type in an American colloquial phrase: Out of sight, out of mind. DING! The strip of paper says something in Russian. The Russian diplomat looks at the translation with a confused look on his face. The American gestures that he should type in exactly what the paper says, so they can see how it translates back to English.


“Invisible Idiot”

I have no idea what I said to Mauro. I never ran it back through from Italian to English.

I hope I didn’t inadvertently denigrate the family line, or call into question the origin of his grandmother’s salad dressing recipe.