Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Unopened Gifts

As I shop for and wrap up Christmas presents for my kids I can't help but think about all the gifts that will remain unopened this season. Dolls, racecar sets, video games and bicycles that will all remain under an unlit tree. All are reminders of children who once filled their homes with laughter and love. All are reminders of what was taken so quickly, and heartlessly. All are reminders of how Christmas will never be the same ever again for their families and friends.
I don't write this today to depress you, or because it's the politically correct thing to do. I don't even want to say that we should all remember how blessed we are, because that is obvious. I write this for the parents of those 20 children, to let them know that we are all with them. It's the nightmare that every decent parent fears most: to lose a child. I heard someone start to say something at a child's funeral once "Well, it's better this way, imagine if..." I had to interrupt. There's no "better" here. There's no worse. It's just horrible all around. I know sometimes people are well meaning, and they just don't know what else to say, but I think the best thing is not to say anything. I think the only thing you can say is: I'm here for you. I'm here with you.
So that's what I wanted to say to the parents in Newtown, Connecticut, and I know I speak for my family and friends: We're here with you. Our hearts and prayers are with you too.

Caren E. Salas


Tuesday, March 27, 2012


 Call me wishy-washy, but I've always had a hard time picking favorites. Maybe I just over-analyze things, but I always end up thinking of the variables involved. When someone asks me "What's your favorite color?"  I'm thinking, for what? To wear? okay, black or dark blue. To look at? purple. In the natural world? that aqua-turquoise you can see in tropical seas. To decorate?  Well, you get the picture. There are just so many options out there. Don't get me started on things like my favorite animal or flavor of ice cream. (So far, I don't think I've come across any flavors of ice cream I didn't like.) 

One of the exceptions to my undecided nature, is when it comes to flowers.  I think I can safely say I LOVE daffodils. They are my favorite flower. I love the scent of jasmine, and the beauty of a rose, but daffodils are at the top of the list. They start to appear in late winter or early spring and their big sunny yellow flowers remind me that summer is only a season or so away. They make me feel hopeful for the warmth of days to come.  They are my happy flowers. The best part is that when I buy them, they are all closed up and I can practically watch them bloom before my eyes.

Yesterday morning I bought these. They were selling three bunches for $5.00 (another plus, not very expensive.)  I took pictures of them throughout the day so I could really show how the flowers open up. I wish I had one of those time-lapse cameras. It would be amazing. All of the photos were taken about two or three hours apart, and the last one was taken this morning. They usually last about a week, and while they sit on my table, it makes the whole room feel lighter.

While I was preparing for this blog post, I was thinking that maybe there's a "Daffodil Day". I mean, why not? They have National Pancake Day and stuff like that. So I looked it up, and as a matter of fact there are "Daffodil DayS". It's actually a period of time where the American Cancer Society (as well as other Cancer organizations around the world) give out daffodils with the hopes of raising awareness and support in the field of Cancer research. They explain it better at  if you want to check it out.

As I read the article I thought it was cool that they described the donations made at this time "Gifts of Hope", because, like I said, daffodils seem to send a message of hope for the summer. In this case it would be hope for the future.  I really didn't start this article thinking this is how it would end up. I just thought it would be a nice little article about my favorite flower. I guess you just never know how things will turn out sometimes.  Sometimes it's all about pretty flowers, sometimes not. I've lost too many friends and family members to cancer. My favorite flower has an even better reason to my my favorite now.  Hope your days are filled with Daffodils, or if not, with hope.

Caren E. Salas

photos by Caren E. Salas                                        

Monday, February 13, 2012

Flying Geckos!!

Well there's something you don't see every day: giant 100 foot long geckos flying around at the beach. I mean, really! Everyone knows the beach is not a gecko's natural habitat! Yet there he was, gliding along on the gusty wind coming in from the ocean; his tail dragging a bit in the sand. He was kind of hard to ignore. Thankfully he wasn't blocking the sunlight, or I would have put my foot down. Just because you have relatives in the insurance business, doesn't mean you can inconvenience everyone on the beach. I have to admit, he did seem quite peaceful and I was a tad jealous watching him zig and zag up there with the clouds. The tide was high, so my usual activity of searching for seashells was thwarted. My attention, therefore, alternated between the crashing waves, my surfing son, and the waving gecko. Not a bad view actually.  We stayed awhile, but my son got tired of surfing, and wanted to go. We bid the huge reptile adieu, brushed the sand off our bodies and headed home.

Caren E. Salas

photo by William Salas

Friday, January 27, 2012

The Mayor of Blackthorne

   The street I live on, rocks. It's the kind of neighborhood most people don't believe exists anymore. It's almost like a small town in itself, or a village.  Everybody knows everybody, not in a casual wave because we happen to live on the same block kind of way, but in a we actually like hanging out together kind of way. Our kids have all grown up together, gone to the same schools together, and shared some of life's crazy experiences together. I won't lie. It's not always smiles and tra la la. There's been drama, and arguments and rivalry; pretty much like a normal family in some ways. And that's what we are: a big extended family.  I have more kids that call me "mom" than the old lady that lived in a shoe.  People can move away, but they still remain "Blackthornians". There are even a few honorary Blackthornians: those who haven't ever lived on the block, but have participated so many times in our events that they have become a part of us.  By the way, I'm not talking about an occasional BBQ or birthday party. I'm talking camp-outs, trips to the beach, Easter egg hunts, Posadas, Talent Shows, 4th of July block parties, cookie exchanges, Halloween costume parties, summer bashes "just because". The list goes on.
    One of our neighbors, Steve, was one of the driving forces for these events. He, and his wife Karen, organized some of the best events and parties. We came to call Steve "The Mayor of Blackthorne". He always seemed to greet everyone a big smile, a big hug and a welcoming personality. He had his faults. We all do.
    Yesterday, Steve passed away. It was so sudden, most of us couldn't even process the thought. One of our own, was gone: someone our age; someone who had been such a big part of all our lives, and the lives of our children.
   When my son was very small, he wandered away from our house. We were frantic. Everyone came out and helped to search for our little one. Steve was the one who found him. I only just remembered that. Funny how memories work sometimes, but it's those memories that we are left with. It's those 4th of July, Halloween Elvis, Pictionary Party memories that will keep Steve with us.

He'll always be the one and only, Mayor of Blackthorne.

Caren E. Salas

Some of the Blackthornian Men:  Bob, Dave, the Mayor and Steve W.