The girl from Venice Beach – 1973

Posted by on February 26th, 2017  •  0 Comments  •  Full Article

The girl from Venice Beach – 1973

I found a hand typed letter in some old drawings last week (February, 2017). It’s a forgotten love story about one of my old girlfriends. I’ve tried to retain some of the voice of that 17 year old, while rewriting some parts to make them more lucid. And yes, this really happened.

November, 1973, somewhere near LA:

Fuck it was cold that morning. I was awakened from my slumber by a sound that scorched my heart. Teijsha, god, my beautiful Teijsha crying out in mock anger as Todd did something outrageous to her lovely young body in the early morning light.

Half asleep, my mind drifted back over the last couple weeks:

Teijsha and I running, clutching our packs and sleeping bags, tripping over our soaked ponchos, kissing and hugging, laughing and smiling, giggling and hoping: shit, that damn 16 wheeler truck better be going as far as Eureka…because once we get our stuff inside that 1000 mile high tractor and get ourselves up the ladder and shut the door, we’re not going to get out just because he’s only going as far as podunk, which is halfway to Eureka and has the tiniest amount of traffic between here and wherever we are.

Goodbye to a 1000 experiences, lifetimes, climaxes, smiles, frowns and grins…Teijsha and I stoned out of our minds on mescaline, walking into Ruth’s Anaheim laundromat, skipping to the bulletin board, giggling at the thumbtacks, later camping in a small patch of trees inside the cloverleaf on-ramp to Interstate 5, looking up through the branches to the dark sky as we made love with diesel trucks roaring by on the road. And then falling asleep with Teijsha snuggled warm and happy beside me. We were 17, in love, and the world was our oyster.

The dream faded away as I woke up fully, sickened by the sound of Teijsha and Todd making love in the kitchen not less than twenty feet away.

I tried to cover my ears, and when that didn’t work, I crawled down to the  bottom of my sleeping bag, not an easy task in a 1968 surplus military down sleeping bag. I could still hear them so I grunted, and then coughed loudly. Teijsha must have recognized the noise as me because the sounds got quieter.

I went back to sleep for a while and dreamed about the folks back home in far away Olympia. I was wakened again by the sound of Todd and Teijsha going outdoors. They had to step over me  as they walked through the kitchen of the house where some kind folks had invited us to spend the night.

I sat up and looked over at our traveling buddy Myron, who was bunking down with me below the silverware drawers. He had finally woken up and was blinking over at me through a stupendous hangover.

Myron: “Well, which way did it go?”

Me: “You owe me 10 cents.”

Myron: “It went, you mean.”

Me: “Yeah”

Myron: “Ah well, that’s the way the cookie crumbles eh Mark?”

Me: “Yeah.”

I was feeling pretty shitty about the whole thing so I got up, grabbed my patched blue jeans, pulled them on with a shirt and  walked out to the porch. I sat down on the rocking chair and played some lonesome blues on my harp. I’d been playing since the seventh grade when dad gave me a chromatic harmonica for Christmas  but mostly I liked playing my Hohner Blues Harps. Pretty soon my feet started to freeze so I went in and sat by the wood stove, which the people inside had been stoking to warm the frigid house.

The front door opened and I heard Todd talking about how cold it was outside and how many different types of birds they had seen. He really was quite a nice guy. We’d met him at a freeway entrance and had invited him to join our threesome as we hitched our way up Highway 1. All four of us had got a ride with these fine people in a VW bus, and then they’d invited us to spend the night in their coastal cabin. Despite the fact that he had just fucked my girlfriend, I couldn’t deny he was a mellow dude.

I was still sitting hung over in the kitchen warming my feet when Teijsha walked in. I could tell she and Todd had been doing some heavy talking ’cause her eyes were all red. I hadn’t even looked at her since the night before when she and Todd had sat on the couch together and started getting it on. As I would come to realize later, free love has it’s down side. There are no ties or commitments , and everyone is free to do whatever they want.

I chose my first words carefully.

“I hope he takes good care of you.”

I guess those were the wrong words because she broke down crying as she ran into my arms.

“Mark, I love you so much, God I love you!”

Well, that really blew me over ‘cause she had just spent the night with Todd, and in the short time I’d known her she didn’t usually just ball anybody.

“I still love you too, Teijsha.”

She was holding on pretty tight to me and it felt damn nice. But I didn’t really know what was happening so I put my arm around her, like when your grandmother is hugging you and you’re just kinda’ hanging on until it’s over. She sobbed for a little while, holding on fiercely and rubbing my back.

“Do you love him?”

“No, but I think I’ll be very happy with him. But that doesn’t change the way I feel about you. I’m so fucking confused!”

She cried some more then and I was getting to feel a little more sure of myself. I tightened my arms, and she responded by lifting her head up off my shoulder. She looked into my eyes with her beautiful tear streaked face, like she used to do when she wanted me to kiss her. At that moment, kissing her was the last thing on my mind and I turned my face away to look out at the fog shrouded coastline.

“Don’t lose me,” I said.

“Oh Mark, I won’t, you’ll see me again.”

“I hope so. God Teijsha, I love you so much.”

Then we both cried for a little bit and I started fidgeting, worrying about Todd walking in on us. Then she did something that really blew my head wide open. Teijsha had a way of talking to me that made me feel tremendous rushes of emotion toward her. It was when I had my arms around her and she would squeeze her hands up between our bodies. She would play with the buttons on my shirt as she talked to me, looking at the buttons she was pushing around and glancing up at me every once in a while. She smiled up at me from behind her long lashes. Every time she did this to me my insides melted and I felt I could love her forever.

Well she started doing that again only she was crying at the same time, stopping to sniffle between each word.

“Do…sniff…I…sniff…do I…sniff… have your address Mark?”

“No, I’ll write it down for you.”

“Mark, if I came up to Olympia in a couple days, would you take me back?”

“Oh, for sure Teijsha, for sure!”

“Well, maybe one day I’ll come walking up to your parents house and surprise you.”

Me at my brothers wedding, 1973

Me at my brothers wedding, 1973

I grabbed a piece of paper and wrote down my parents address, where I planned to be for about two weeks during the holidays. I gave her the paper, then found Myron and told him I wanted to split right away. I wanted to hitch to Olympia without spending another night on the road.

Myron was a really mellow dude. He and I and Teijsha had been slowly hitching up the coast between LA and Eureka for a week and a half. Highway 1 was a great place to hitch because there were lots of fellow hippies driving and hitching the road, with frequent places to sleep on the beach. He was headed for Portland eventually. But he knew I couldn’t handle the Todd and Teijsha scene, so he was ready to split immediately.

I went inside to get my poncho and found Teijsha sitting alone in the pantry, weeping. “Did you want to be alone?” I asked. She nodded her head.

I finished packing my pack, an old canvas relic from World War Two. I said goodbye to the beautiful couple who had invited us all to crash at their seaside cabin.

I went back to the pantry, not knowing what to expect. There was my lovely red haired Teijsha. She was curled up in the corner, looking very alone and far away. Her beautiful body was covered in baggy clothes, but her huge eyes stared brightly at me. There was a depth to those eyes that stays with me still to this day.

“Goodbye…” I murmured.

She shook her head slightly, but said nothing, just looked away.

I walked up to Todd, who was sitting in the nicest chair, with his arms folded tightly, staring out the window at the foggy ocean.

“Take good care of my friend,” I told him. He seemed quite taken aback at that and hesitated briefly before warmly grabbing my extended hand.

“I’m really sorry man,” he said.

“That’s alright, I did it to the dude she was living with down in Venice Beach two weeks ago. That the way it goes,” I said.

“That’s the way the ball bounces,” I heard Myron mumble quietly behind me.

“That’s really beautiful man,” Todd said. “Take care of yourself, you are a beautiful person.”

“So long,” I said.

So Myron, me and my harmonica started truckin’ off up the road to the freeway entrance. I turned around once and saw Teijsha looking out the pantry window. It was still partially covered in morning frost, but I could see her tear stained face watching us walk out of her life. I got out my harp and played the Beatles song “Let it be”. We got a ride in a red Volkwagen with a couple cool ladies, away from Teijsha, and one hell of a lot of me.


The back story

Me at my hand built tipi in 1971

Me at my hand built tipi in 1971

I’d met her two weeks before. I had hitched South for a while to escape my wet November tipi. I’d built the tipi after dropping out of high school. I’d cut down the trees, bought a roll of canvas, sewed the seams, everything. I based it on a book called: “The Indian Tipi”. I had put it up on a commune West of Olympia. But the tipi got damp and uncomfortable as the rains came in, so I would head south to warmer weather.  I had no where to go, no one to meet, no money in my pocket. I’d fetched up at the Ventura Pier, sitting by the side of the road. I’d given up on getting a ride and was in a mellow mood, watching the world go by.

I got out my trusty harmonica and started playing the blues, sitting on my old canvas rucksack. I saw a VW bug slowing down next to me. I stood up and there was a beautiful red haired girl inside the car, all by herself.

As hitchhikers, we were totally dependent on the people who gave us rides. Very few of us had any money, I might have had five dollars. The people who picked us up gave us shelter, food, everything. We had to basically let the honesty in our souls shine through while standing on the side of the road. They had to be able to look at us and know in an instant, while traveling at freeway speeds, that we were good people.

In some respects, getting rides was an art form. Even back then, single women would generally not pick up guys. Yet there was lovely Teijsha, looking at me through her open passenger side car window, the VW burbling quietly at the curb, waiting to hear my spiel.  For hitchhikers, especially guys, this was the gold standard.

“Hi, I’m Teijsha, where are you headed, looks like you need a ride?”

“Far out, yeah, I’d love a ride! I’m not headed anywhere in particular, just hoping for a change of scenery and maybe some food?”

I smiled warmly into the  little car at the amazing woman. She looked boldly right back at me, clearly liking what she saw. She was about my age (17), and was wearing very short cut off tattered blue jeans. Her legs were long and slim and she was curved in all the right places. The view into her low cut tank top as she leaned over and rolled down the passenger window was taking my breath away. She was stacked like a brick shit house…to use a common term of the times.  To say it was lust at first sight would be an understatement.

“Sure, I have some food at the house, it’s not far away. You wanna come with me? We can get high.”

I threw my pack in the back and she drove me to her place where she had some food. Then we sat on the couch smoking reefer while staring deeply into each others eyes. There was something going on and I really wanted to see where it led. She told me we needed to wait for her boyfriend to get home from work.

He was a chill dude, I’ll call him Ben. He accepted me warily. Clearly this was not the first time she had brought home lost puppies.

After a couple beers and more reefer, we decided to all go to a drive-in movie. I hid in the back seat under a blanket to avoid paying.  When we got our parking spot, we leaned the front seats down and all three of us crowded into the back seat where there was more room. When I look back on those strange times from the perspective of age, I can only shake my head at what happened in the back of that car. Both Ben and I started making out with Teijsha. I was making out with her on my side, and Ben was doing the same on his side. Her attention was divided and eventually Ben threw up his hands and left.

After a couple days of that Ben was getting increasingly unhappy. Teijsha and I decided to hitchhike up to my tipi in Olympia where we could start fresh. I wondered how she would make money to help support us. While I had a part time job waiting for me in a print shop, I knew she had no real skills, and my money wouldn’t support two of us.

“Teijsha, how will you make money up in Olympia?”

“Um, I can sell smack? I was a user for a while, and I still have a lot of contacts.”

“Shit, I don’t want you turning all my friends into heroin addicts!”

“Don’t worry, I will only sell to users, it’s easy to tell who’s using. I won’t mess with your friends.” I was dubious at this statement, but I trusted her, and more than that, I really wanted her to come home with me.

Her boyfriend Ben didn’t take it well. Teijsha had insisted he was just her roommate, but I could tell he loved her. He didn’t get violent, just got quiet and sad. He told her he loved her and would always have  a place for her if she decided to come back.

Teijsha and I hitched north up the coast, a couple of vagabond hippies with no money, no plans, just flowing along in the river of life.  The rides were usually easy to get, especially when you had a girlfriend as beautiful as Teijsha. With her movie star looks, everyone wanted to be near her. She bubbled with excitement and passion for living.

And then we met Todd, and, as my parents had done with me, I gave her her freedom. It broke my heart to do it, but I felt it was the right thing to do.


Hitching was a very reliable method of transportation back then. I had become so good at it that I could beat the Greyhound between Olympia and San Francisco. There were  thousands of hippies traveling around the country then (early seventies). All the freeway entrances had lines of hippies with their thumbs out. Anytime I felt the need to escape my life, I would load up my pack, grab a guitar,some harmonicas and walk  to the downtown  freeway entrance. A car would usually pull over within an hour. I had the dress and look down to a science. Fellow hippies could look at me and know in an instant that I was fellow traveler, and more than that, they knew I would be cool.

They would pick me up, make room for my pack and we’d share a joint and whatever else they had including food. I’d also get rides from “straight” people. Often they were business professionals in nice suits and ties. They were curious about why I was on the road. All they expected in return was entertaining conversation…maybe a song on my harmonica, and occasionally help with the driving. I hitchhiked the entire west coast, parts of Canada, and all the way to Colorado and back. All my high school friends were in college by then, but I felt the need to stay on “Walk-a-bout”. All I was sure of was that I just wanted to be free and not think about the future.

My parents (strict Presbyterians) were not happy about my choices, but dad was a very wise man. He knew my mind was set. I think he also had faith in my intelligence, and knew I would come around eventually. So they let me have my freedom. Their offers of free college tuition had no attraction for me.

People who I could relate to were all heavily involved in stopping the Vietnam war. We wanted to change the world, get in closer touch with nature. It was all a bunch of foolish pipe dreams with no real basis in reality, yet they made perfect sense in my confused 17 year old mind.  Around my high school, and to my peers, I was a hero. I had dropped out of the corrupt American dream and was living the real dream, the life of freedom. I had a part time job printing at the Sherwood Press…whenever I was in town…and the tipi. Life was full of marching in the streets, standing vigils at the State Capital, and volunteering at the Olympia Food Coop, which still runs to this day (2017).

It took me three years to come to my senses. I sort of “hit bottom” and didn’t like what I saw. Through it all I always had a part time job in printing with my old friend Jocelyn. She didn’t mind that I liked to hitchhike around the country. She also acted as a lifeline between me and my dad. My dad and I were estranged for a while. But Jocelyn sang in the choir with dad and would pass on messages to me since I had no phone in the tipi. She had a fleet of young people who helped her at the print shop. They were all high school friends of mine like Ted, Margot and Byron Youtz, Marc Young and even Devi Unsoeld and her brothers.

Once I realized I needed to get serious about life, Jocelyn suggested I attend a trade school for printing. I was already running her shop. I didn’t do billing, but I could handle all the day to day interactions with customers, and print the usual run of jobs from wedding announcements to her bread and butter work: funeral announcements. There was a vocational trade school half an hour up the freeway in Tacoma.

I walked into the college that fall and asked if they had openings. The teacher, her name was Connie, seemed sad that they were full. I told her a little about my history. Suddenly she asked me if I was a high school drop out. When I admitted that I was, her face brightened. She said they had one opening left but they were holding it for a dropout. It came with a full scholarship but only if I agreed to attend extra classes to finish high school while I studied printing.

In looking back over my life, it’s clear to see that was a pivotal day. I was a natural printer. All the classes were easy. I could run the letterpresses better than the instructors. I was so good with the machinery that the pressroom instructor (Lamar) tasked me with rebuilding one of the Multilith 1250’s.

A year later I was weeks from graduation and I got a job  at J. L. Darling. Another year after that I took a hiking scrambling class and met Sue.

Custom theme is working

Posted by on February 21st, 2017  •  0 Comments  •  Full Article

I’ve got my new custom WordPress theme up and running:

I wrote every line of PHP and CSS in 11 files that make it work. I had to custom write the search.php file because my “if” statement on the sidebars was conflicting with other logic. That was 6 weeks of work. And I took about 4 days off during that entire time.

So I’m a little burned out on computers right now. It’s cool to learn new stuff, and I’m lucky to be working less than half time this quarter so I could study, and then apply my new knowledge to a nice project. Plus I was studying ecommerce, and building lesson plans for the new class I’m teaching, all at the same time.

Turban Squash Thanksgiving 2016

Turban Squash Thanksgiving 2016

It’s really nice to have that in the bag finally. I plan to build on that, but I have to take a break to do some grading now.

In other news, an old friend of mine died in a car accident recently. We used to play volleyball together on the company team. Cars are so darn dangerous. People think climbing is dangerous, but I think cars are much scarier than climbing.

Now that I have a little free time I’ve started a new self portrait. Getting going was like pulling teeth, but now  I can’t wait to get back to the chair and the mirror. Maybe after I get this grading done later today…  I want it to be all crazy colors, like my last palette knife turban squash. I should be able to use that color scheme on my portrait. Skin is orange, like the squash…and I feel a need to throw some paint around.

I’ve skied Mazama Ridge twice with my daughter and Sue on my days off. That thing is such a grind when you include the return trip up the road. But the runs on top are very nice. Both times there were no tracks, and we had to break trail the whole way. Navigating up there is super fun. You never know exactly where you are, especially in a whiteout, so popping out on the lake, with a clear trail home is a thrill. Off to work.


Custom theme development in WordPress

Posted by on February 13th, 2017  •  0 Comments  •  Full Article

I’ve been studying WordPress since January. First I got my cart running. It’s actually live and there is now an SSL certificate in place. This means you can use your credit card or paypal to purchase my paintings. I left the “you can’t buy, it’s in testing mode” banner up since I’m still not happy with the shipping functionality. However, you can actually buy a painting, everything works. And if it doesn’t, send me an email and I will fix it. I will try to add in a coupon for free shipping. This way, if you know me and live nearby, like Seattle, I can drive halfway with the painting and save us both the headache of shipping.

But before I do the coupon  I have to focus on my next lesson plan.

I’ve gotten very deep into creating a custom wordpress theme. I’m converting a static html page over to a theme. I have it working already, but it needs a lot of work to be called done. This is one of a series of ten tutorials I’ve working through.

Making a custom theme is the hardest thing I’ve ever done in computing. It pulls together everything I know about HTML, CSS and JavaScript, plus a ton of stuff I don’t know about PHP. The functions that make WordPress work are so deep they remind me of writing jquery libraries from scratch.

But when it does work, it’s very cool. I’ve always liked that about web design. If you do it right, there is an instant feedback.

I do feel bad about not painting. My last painting was at Thanksgiving. But it doesn’t matter.  It’s fun learning new stuff for my job, and the painting can wait until I have some free time.

Blast from the past (2-19-98)

Posted by on February 9th, 2017  •  0 Comments  •  Full Article

February 19, 1998

Today I got a plain manila envelope from the California State Highway Patrol. I panicked and searched my mind desperately for the last illegal thing I did in California. There was that illegal lane change in Joshua Tree, 6 years ago. Could it be a traffic court summons? I gingerly pried open the tape and found a musty old leather wallet inside with paisley patterns on the lining. I realized with a shock it was a wallet I lost in 1972 on a hitchhiking trip near Big Sur. I can just barely remember standing in a long line of hippies on the side of the road. We all had our thumbs out hoping to be interesting enough for a ride up the coast. I was coming home from a month long hitching trip to see a girlfriend in Frisco. I remember looking for my wallet. Talk about a trip down memory lane. There was my moldy original social security card, My drivers license card, look at that haircut! Plus a couple of rolling papers, now what could those have been for? And a lot of old miscellaneous receipts and notes about people who had given me rid es or hospitality on the road. There was even an REI membership refund for 3 dollars. There were a bunch of phone numbers of friends long lost in the mists of time. I couldn’t help wondering what was going through the minds of the clerk at the Highway Patrol who finally decided to go to the trouble of finding my current address and returning my long lost wallet 28 years later. But hey, thank guys!

NOTE: this is an excerpt from an old online journal I’ve had since 1997. You can email me if you’d like to read more from those days. It’s in a hidden directory at the request of one of my old deans.

Shopping Cart is almost done

Posted by on February 5th, 2017  •  0 Comments  •  Full Article

I was asked to teach WordPress last summer, and then low enrollment canceled the class. This Winter it was offered again and it ran. I’ve been using WordPress since 2011, but never delved that deeply into it. It’s been fun diving into it and learning all the intricacies of the application.

I learned most of the new stuff about the shopping cart here at This guy does a great job of explaining it. I haven’t bought the SSL certificate for the store yet, so you can’t use your credit card to make a purchase, however, the paypal function may be live…I’m actually not sure. I just launched on February 4, 2017 and I’ve not done any testing.  I do definitely have the paintings, and those are the prices unframed.