April 15, 2023

            I first met Lollie the person sometime in my early teaching career at a grading, and I thought she seemed cool.  Lollie the person is a small woman with an enormous heart, with a quirky way of being and dress, stylish but not intimidating. Lollie and I talked about getting my students involved with the environment as we were both passionate about it, and while I had been afraid to incorporate field trips, Lollie invited my classes to a beach clean-up for Heal the Bay, saying, “Oh, it’s easy—just have them sign the forms and show up. It will be cool.”

Not our Lollie–Frog at Debs park–maybe a bullfrog?

Indeed, it was cool. There we were at Dockweiler beach early on a Saturday, and there was little Lollie standing there, telling the students what to do. I was an immediate convert not just because I liked the beach but because the student writing from this experience was much better. These students had an experience and they also had something to write about.            

That was the first of the beach clean-ups with Lollie, and then I had my classes cleaning the LA river with FOLAR (Friends of the LA River) and heading out to Solano Community Garden to meet Al, a socialist and compost enthusiast. Later I got to know Lollie better through her love of dogs. Lollie was volunteering at Baldwin Park Animal Shelter and making videos of adoptable dogs with her students, and we went along to learn more.

Lollie’s love of dogs connected us, and I was always so happy to run into her and Fiona her Poodle-ish creature in the mailroom or on campus. Later Lollie gave me a real gift, making it possible for me to adopt Joey, the senior Chihuahua from Baldwin Park who stole my heart.

            I kept connected with Lollie (the person) through the years and my changing jobs, and when she decided to retire, I volunteered to take over her Animal Wellness and Pet Adoption event—a huge event Lollie designed and ran in concert with the Center for Engagement, Service, and the Public Good. Then Covid happened.

            The event was cancelled, and I only talked to Lollie on e-mail, sharing books and thoughts, and then just getting busy. A few weeks ago, Robert and I drove the Bus out to visit Lollie in Santa Monica, and we brought Harold the terrible dog. Lollie was lovely as ever, seemingly unchanged, and we had a nice walk in Temescal Canyon and Harold swam in the creek running high as the rains were ongoing then. After a picnic and discussion of how I could re-start the Animal Wellness Event (planned for fall 23), we dropped Lollie off at her house and headed back in the Bus with a tired and wet dog.

This story should end here, but then something else happened: Lollie the frog. After we got home from our trip and the walk, Robert went out to check on the fish in our new side-yard (yes, I will get final pictures up), and then he yelled, “Jenny! Come here! There’s something weird in the pond!” I thought it was likely a dead fish, but I went to see. Robert was all a-flutter, saying things like “Plecostomus!” and I didn’t know what to think, but then I saw her. “That’s a tadpole, “ I said, although it was bigger than any tadpole I had ever seen. Sure enough, that was a tadpole, and later we found the egg cache where she was laid (although I think the fish ate the rest of the eggs). Then it was all Google and frogs, and we think Lollie-the frog is a red-legged frog based on the eggs and her tadpole state.

            And so began the time of Lollie. “Did you see Lollie today?” I would ask when I came home from work. There were many nights with the flashlight checking on Lollie, making me think of the frog catching scene in Cannery Row, a book we read aloud on our honeymoon. And can you buy frog food at PetSmart? You can! And day after day, night after flashlight night, Lollie-the tadpole has been there. I planted Sweetgrass and reeds in the planter next to the pond, and Robert found her some sticks in case she wants to leave the water, and just tonight, we saw her there, tail wrapped around a stick, as though she knows she will need higher ground.

Today I had declared that it was a garden day, that all the many my life issues would take the back seat, and so we set out for Debs park, the closest park to our house. I wanted to go there because the mustard is blooming on the hillsides and Harold loves it there.

Walking around the pond, we saw many turtles, but then I saw a frog. We felt like this was a sign, and we stopped to stare. The frog, as frogs are, was nonplussed. “Is Lollie gonna be that big?” Robert asked, but that may have been a bullfrog, and the egg sites we saw walking around the pond looked different than what we had seen at home in our pond.

            It is an amazing thing to have a Lollie the person in your life, and it is an amazing thing to have a frog drop eggs in your pond and have a Lollie the frog (currently tadpole) in your life. I am so thankful and amazed by both of them, and I will keep you posted on Lollie the frog and Lollie the person who is now out helping folks in Fiji! I consider having these folks in my life a blessing, and I am thankful for their grace.

It’s also pretty cool to have a Harold!

4 Comments Add yours

  1. Bonnie Uffman says:

    good morning, Jenny…….i always look forward to and relish your stories. thank you…….spring is currently happening in Kansas…….i hope that all is well with you and Robert. – Bonnie


    1. jenny91030 says:

      Thank you, Bonnie, and I am happy to hear spring is there in Kansas. You would love Lollie the person as she embodies many of the qualities I learned first from you about standing up and making a difference, and I think you would like polliwog Lollie, too! Much love to you–


  2. Lollie Ragana says:

    Hi Jenny,

    Your love and enthusiasm for life reveal the love in your soul. That is why I love being around you so much. You have such a wonderful joy in being alive–for people, clean-ups, students, and critters!

    And, you’re so right about student writing: soooooo much better when they have had an experience and want to share their thoughts with others. XO


  3. jenny91030 says:

    Oh, Lollie, thank you for your comment–you have taught me so much and I can’t wait to see what we will do in the fall with my students. Lollie the frog is fine, too–I think she is getting used to us!


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