Friday, May 22, 2015

Lazy Ladies

This luncheon has been going on for 40 years.  A chance for friends to get together for a leisurely lunch. 

They invited me yearly for a long time, but the lunch was always mid-week, and I always worked.  They eventually stopped inviting me.

They took a break for a few years, as family matters which go along with an aging population interfered, but I was delighted to get an invitation for this "reunion." (Though sad that, ultimately, Natalie was not able to attend after all.)
The only problem was that it was being held on a Thursday, my Logos day.  I finally decided to play hookie.  Anne, who filled in for Sandy when she was on vacation is now an on-call volunteer and I asked her if she would work for me today so I could go to the lunch.  She agreed, and I was free to finally attend my first Lazy Ladies' Luncheon.

Apparently the history of this lunch was that it started in 1976, a chance to get together with those women whom you first got to know in PTA, or Little League or Scouts or some other organization and now never see, unless you happen to pass accidentally downtown (where everyone admits nobody goes any more!)

Apparently the event continued annually until about four years ago and there hasn't been one since.  But perhaps the impetus for reviving it came from a tea I attended a few months ago, where I got to see a lot of women I know in Davis, but rarely see any more.  It was held at the home of our kids' former nursery school teacher.

So when the "save the date" e-mail came, I assumed this, too, would be held at someone's home and was surprised when the official invitation arrived saying it was at the local country club.

Was I surprised when I arrived! This was no "little" luncheon.  There must have been 80-100 women there and I probably had known half of them, at least, over the last 40 years, though may not have seen them in 30.  What fun!  There was the psychiatrist's wife, the wife of our kids' high school music teacher, two women I actually see for lunches a few times a year, the woman I used to work with at the bakery, a friend of Marta's mother whom I did not recognize until she introduced herself to me, lots of women I worked with on various school projects, the former mayor of Davis, a few women who had been involved in one capacity or another with the Davis Comic Opera Co., a woman who is the town historian, our kids' nursery school teacher....everywhere I looked there was either someone I remembered or someone who looked familiar and I was embarrassed not to remember her name.  Fortunately we all wore name tags. Only one woman brought up Paul and David (for which I was grateful), but her kids had performed with our kids (David's only on-stage kiss was with her daughter).

It was a real ego booster for me, as I had so many women come and tell me how much they enjoyed my reviews (though one woman asked if I was still writing them, since she hadn't seen any in awhile--and this is my busy season, so there has been at least one a week, if not three!)

I sat with our friend Dair, one of my favoritest people, whom I have not seen in several years, since she moved to a retirement complex out of Davis, but she and her husband were the reason why we took on our Mexican daughter, Marie, who has now become such a successful business woman.  She had not heard of all of Marie's recent fame and we were able to smile that we both remembered her when she was just a little girl in a little town in Mexico that someone thought could achieve good things if she had the chance of an education in the United States. It was definitely nice getting caught up with Dair and sharing stories about our grandchildren.

There was a lovely salad and soup buffet lunch, with cookies for dessert, and our hostess greeted us with a few words, starting out by asking who in the room has had some part of her body replaced.  Probably half of the room raised their hands (this is an experience I have yet to have, though can knee replacement be put off forever?)

I came home on a real high.  And as it turned out, I could have still gone to work at Logos, since I was back home by 1:30, but since I immediately fell asleep for about 2 hours, it was probably just as well I had taken the afternoon off.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Oh sheet

I thought we had figured out a solution to the laundry problem.  Once I started bringing her laundry to her in a laundry basket, rather than just leaving it on her bed, she stopped taking her clothes to the front desk saying they weren't hers.  I was proud of myself for solving that problem.  Apparently not.

When I got home from the book club yesterday, Walt let me know there was a message on the answering machine for me.  It was a semi-ominous message saying she was calling about my mother, that everything was OK, but that I needed to talk with either the person leaving the message (I couldn't understand her name) or the nurse and that calling them the next day would be fine.
So I called in the morning and learned that my mother has ... twice ... brought sheets to the dining room to turn them over to someone.  They thought I should know.  


When I brought her laundry home to wash last week, I was pleased to see that it was a big bag.  She has given me nothing but underwear for a month, and as she wears the same 3 outfits in rotation every day, surely they must need washing.  But she refuses to give them to me because "they aren't dirty."  But this was a hefty bag of laundry and I figured she had finally given me her clothes to wash.

But when I came home, I discovered there was only underwear and her sheets and pillow cases.  What the heck...?  She pays Atria to do her bedding.  But I washed it and when I took everything back to her, she said that the housekeeper had not done her bed in two weeks (which I always don't believe since sometimes she thinks she has only been at Atria for a few months, so her concept of time is way off).  I could see that trying to reason with her was an exercise in futility, so I just left the laundry basket with the sheets and her underwear on her bed, as I always do.

However, before I left, she gave me back the basket, which means that she left the folded sheets on the bed.  Bad.

I figured out what probably happened was that the sheets were not in the basket, so she didn't know where they came from and thought she needed to take them somewhere and couldn't think of anywhere else to take them but...the dining room?  Twice?

So I sat her down and told her we had to talk.  I kind of laid it on thick to hopefully make an impression on her.  I told her that I felt like I'd been called to the principal's office.  I then told her what she had done and, of course, she has no memory of doing it.

But in the space of less than 5 minutes she had given me three or four different versions of what happened with the sheets, everything from she has no memory of ever seeing sheets, to finding them folded on her table and knowing that they belonged "somewhere" but she didn't know where (in none of versions did she remember taking  them to the dining room, for any reason).  She knows she herself has never changed her sheets, though two days before she had told me she had.

I tried to scare her and told her that I didn't want Atria to think her dementia was too bad for her to live in her apartment and that she would have to move, reminding her of when her mother, my sweet little old grandmother, had been kicked out of a rest home for behavior problems (though in her case it was for swearing like a sailor and knocking frail old people off their walkers!)

I tried to make a joke.  I had brought her some lovely sunflowers, which she loved and would interrupt me to talk about how beautiful they were.  I suggested that whenever she looked at the sunflowers, she should think of sheets.  Kind of silly, but I thought maybe that would work.  A few minutes later she looked at the sunflowers and said "I look at those flowers and I'm supposed to remember something, but I can't remember what."  I said "the sheets."  She said "what about the sheets?"

It's a lost cause, so if she gives me her sheets to wash again, I'll just put them in the linen closet when I bring them back.  I tried that with her clothes, but she finds them and doesn't recognize them.  Generic white sheets should be easier to "hide."

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

I'd Drive 75 Miles...

My never ending quest to find like-minded people with whom I can discuss books has taken me far afield this time.  About a month ago, Char suggested I might like to come to her book club.  She's been talking about this club for a long time and it sounded so much like what I was looking for than anything else I'd encountered that I said I'd give it a try.

(Actually what I really want is a handful of women sitting in someone's house drinking wine and talking about a book and their lives, but that doesn't seem to be available to me!)
The book they were reading this month was "The Rosie Project," by Graeme Simsion, a book I really enjoyed.
Don Tillman is a brilliant geneticist who probably suffers from Aspergers Syndrome.  He has decided it is time to get married and sets about finding a mate scientifically by creating a 16 page questionnaire designed to weed out any women who would not suit him.  He calls it The Wife Project.
Rosie Jarman is all the things he does not want in a wife prospect. She is also beguiling, fiery, intelligent—and on a quest of her own. She is looking for her biological father, a search that a certain DNA expert might be able to help her with. Don's Wife Project takes a back burner to the Father Project and an unlikely relationship blooms, forcing the scientifically minded geneticist to confront the spontaneous whirlwind that is Rosie—and the realization that love is not always what looks good on paper.
The thing about this book is that it could have been written by The Big Bang Theory's Sheldon Cooper, so it was fun to picture him while reading it.  A light read, but enjoyable.
That was the mini review I wrote about it at the time.  I especially enjoyed it because of how easy it was for me to hear all the words in the hero's mouth coming out of Sheldon Cooper.  I was eager to hear what others had to say.

Today was the meeting.  I decided attending Char's book club had another wonderful benefit to it -- it takes about an hour and 15 mnutes to drive to her house and that means two and a half hours of audio book time.  I was in the last parts of my current audio book, "One False Move" (a Myron Bolitar mystery by Harlan Coben) and felt that I might come close to finishing it by the time I got home from Char's.

The club meets at the local senior center (I immediately came home and checked our senior center to see if there might be a book club that met there, but didn't find one) and while we were driving there from Char's house, I asked her how many were in the club and she said it varied.  Sometimes as few as 3, but they had had as many as eleven once.

"The Rosie Project" must have been a very popular choice because there were sixteen people crammed into a tiny room in the senior center.  But there were enough chairs, though some had to sit in a back row.

It was a lively discussion with everyone having an opportunity to contribute, which is totally what I missed during my brief time in the Woodland Shakespeare Club.  They seem to be a nice group, except for one woman who dominated the discussion with comments more about her family problems than the book.  I took an instant dislike to her and was pleased when Char told me that her daughter had quit the club because she couldn't stand the woman either.

Toward the end of the discussion someone asked how many were surprised when such-and-such happened and that elicited the biggest debate of all, since there was a definite division of oppinion about the event, with people having polar opposite opinions, and everybody pulling out their copies of the book to read quotes from that section aloud.

It was a fun afternoon.  The book for next time is a heftier tome, "The Goldfinch," which I bought about 2 years ago for my Kindle and have not yet read, so I came home and started it right away.  I can already tell that unlike "The Rosie Project," wich someone in the group today called "cotton candy for the brain" this is going to be a more serious read, but I'm already looking forward to discussing it with the group.

By the time I got home, there was only 48 minutes left of my audio book and as there was nothing on TV tonight, I was able to finish it in short order.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Not So Speedy

I have been in computer hell.  Again.  Thank god for my guru, with whom I have a love/hate relationship!

It started with yesterday's entry, and wanting to scan photos to use of my experiences with Mt. St. Helen's.  To scan photos, I use PhotoShop Elements, choose the "import" command to my printer, and it gives me a choice of importing from my camera, or from the scanner.

Only yesterday, it didn't give me the scanner option.  I've been using this method for more years than I can count, and at least 3 years since I got this new Canon printer, so it's not like I was making some rookie mistake.  What the.....

My old printer would not scan when I was out of ink, for whatever reason, and I was nearly out of ink on this printer, so I went to the store to buy replacement ink, but once that was put in, I still couldnl't see the scanner.  I tried rebooting the printer, but that didn't help.

I tried contacting PhotoShop, thinking this might be a software problem, but could not find a help number, so tried the Canon printer web site and found a 24/7 tech help number, which I called, reaching Sunil Kumar (of course), whose English I only understood about 2/3 of the time.  I explained my problem and he said he would have to check my computer to make sure I had the right drivers (because I wasn't sure how to check that).  I was still under the impression that I am talking with one of Canon's reps.  I allowed access to my computer and he started searching things and things flew about my computer rapidly while he was speaking things I could sometimes understand and sometimes comprehend.  This went on for a long time.

Then he showed me on my screen how the problem was that the "Network Access Protection" was turned off and that he was unable to fix that on my computer, but he would check with his supervisor.  When he came back he said something about how his supervisor might be able to fix it if I signed up for their year-long protection, for "only" $350.

He said I could take the computer to the nearest Microsoft store, which, he told me, was 77 miles away and they would keep it for several days and I would have to pay $350 to them, or I could just pay him the $350 and his manager would fix it for me and make sure my computer would be fine for a whole year (after which, presumably, I would owe another $350)

Red flags were waving, bells were going off, and I felt as if I was trying to do business with a used car salesman.  But this had been the tech rep I had called from the Canon web site!

Nevertheless, I was not going to fork over $350 and would find a work around if I couldn't get the scanner to work (the pix I used yesterday were photos of pictures).  I played the "poor little old lady on social security" card, saying I would have to see if I could afford $350.  

He kept adding to the list he had typed up for me on my screen showing me all the problems my system had and that's why I did a smart thing:  I hit "print screen" so I could save it, which turned out to be a good idea because when I told him I would have to think about it and call him back, he immediately erased the list.

He was grumpy, and reminded me that the problems with my system were "growing daily" and I needed to get them fixed sooner before it was too late.  He gave me his "private number" and extension to call when I had figured out my finances.

Well.  I immediately wrote to my guru and while waiting to hear from him, I tried another graphics program which also had an "upload" capability and it, too, could not see the scanner either.  Then I tried the Big Guns.  I rebooted the computer.  Voila!  I have scanner access again.

But I had a lot chat with my guru and he wanted to check my computer to see if he could figure out what these shysters had done.  Turns out it was a bogus Canon web site which led you to a company called Speedy PC Pro and all over the internet there are exposes about them and instructions for how to remove their software from your system.

It took Steve a long time and he found dozens of places where Speedy PC had added fun little things to my computer which would cause problems down the line (needing more "fixing" by them, presumably).

But supposedly I have a clean PC again.  And incidentally, before I called him, I decided to dial the call-back number Sunil Kumar had given me to see what happened.  An operator answered, not "Canon printers" to "Speedy PC."  I hung up immediately and within seconds, there was a return call saying 'Beverly?  You just called me."  Like Canon would do that!  I hung up on that call and it was called again, which I just ignored.

Oh...and that "Network Action Protection" that was causing all of my problems?  It's something I don't even HAVE on my computer and is handled by other software.

So be forewarned.  Stay away from anything that smacks of Speedy PC Pro.  Apparently the only thing they are speedy and professional about is trying to scare you into giving them hundreds of dollars for repairs you don't need.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Thar She Blows

It was 35 years ago this week when Mt. St. Helens blew her top.

It was the only significant one to occur in the contiguous 48 U.S. states since the 1915 eruption of Lassen Peak in California.The eruption was preceded by a two-month series of earthquakes and steam-venting episodes, caused by an injection of magma at shallow depth below the volcano that created a huge bulge and a fracture system on the mountain's north slope. An earthquake at 8:32:17 a.m. on Sunday, May 18, 1980, caused the entire weakened north face to slide away creating the largest landslide ever recorded. This suddenly exposed the partly molten, gas- and steam-rich rock in the volcano to lower pressure. The rock responded by exploding a hot mix of lava and pulverized older rock toward Spirit Lake so fast that it overtook the avalanching north face.
57 people were killed in the eruption, including 84 year old Harry Truman, who had lived on the mountain for many years and didn't believe it was going to erupt
(surprised HIM, I'll bet!)

At the time of the eruption, our very first foreign student, Eduardo, from Brasil, was living with us.  We were all very interested in what was going on in Washington State and Eduardo really wished he could see it.

Walt's good friend Dave lived near the mountain in Beaverton, Oregon, which was receiving a lot of fallout of volcanic ash.  So we planned a trip to take Eduardo to see Mt. St. Helen.  It just so happened that on that same weekend, our friend Michele was giving a surprise 50th birthday party for her husband Richard.  We knew that there would be a stripper there and we gave Eduardo the choice of Oregon or stripper.  But he grew up in Rio de Janeiro and could see naked ladies anytime -- but when could he ever see volcanic fall-out again?  We took a friend of his with us and went on a camping trip.  

Because of all the ash still in the air, it was recommended that we wear face masks for our protection.

There was in deed a thick coating of ash on just about everything, especially on the leaves of the plants around Dave's house.  Our kids, ever the entrepreneurs, gathered a bag of volcanic ash and when we returned home, they set up a "Punch and volcanic ash" stand.

They sold little bags of ash for 10 cents, I think, and one irate father stormed over demanding his kid's money back because he felt tht he had been cheated.  We assured him that yes, we really HAD been in Oregon and this really WAS volcanic ash...but if I remember correctly, he didn't believe us and insisted we give his kid's dime back anyway.  (The kids may remember this more accurately than I do).

I revisited Mt. St. Helens in 2000, when Peggy was here.  We were staying with my friend Diane in Seattle and Peggy also wanted to see the mountain.  I was actually curious myself to see the change that had taken place in twenty years.

Twenty years after the fact, the signs of the devastation were still evident everywhere. The power of the explosion from the mountain could be seen in the dead trees, still lying like matchsticks wherever you looked, many larger trees uprooted (and this after years of clean up). There were burn scars on the walls of the opposite hills, and walls of silt/lava many feet tall seen on the floor of the valley beneath the mountain. It was an awesome sight seeing it up close and personal then.  I wonder how it has changed in the 15 years since I last saw it.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

The Princess of Procrastination

I have always worked best under pressure.  If you want a job done, don't give me a month to do it, give me a deadline of tomorrow.  If I have a month I can find a zillion reasons not to do it until it's due the next day.  I can't say that I produce my best work that way because that's the way I have always worked.  Who knows what kind of work I would produce if I took my time and did it slowly?
When I have a job to do is when the dishes get washed, laundry gets folded, drawers get straightened, and things get baked.

When procrastination is at its worst is when the job involves transcription.  I worked as a professional transcriptionist for pretty much most of my professional life and there was a point at which the thought of putting earphones in my ear and transcribing what I heard became so abhorrent that it made me physically ill.

At the time when The Psychiatrist finally figured out I really didn't want to do his work any more I had a stack of untranscribed tapes that would have filled a drawer.  I don't think he had a clue how many untranscribed tapes I had.  But he had this kind of hypnotic, monotone voice when he dictated. I worked for him for thirty years and my body reached a point where it just rebelled against typing one. more. damn. tape.

So we were both happy when we agreed to part ways, amicably.

But that experience has left me with such an aversion to transcription that I've learned to do telephone interviews where I transcribe as my subject is speaking  In truth, these are not the best interviews because I really like the face to face encounters and ask better questions face to face, but I also take rotten notes and so I must record the interview, and if I record it, it must be transcribed before an article can be written.  In truth, it's one of the reasons I avoid doing feature articles any more (that and the fact that I make 50% less writing them now than I did when the paper said they were cutting my income in half "just for one year"(yeah right), due to newspaper cutbacks, though they take 50% + more time than a review to write).

But I recently did an interview for an article which, if I get it written, will appear in the paper next week.  I did the interview 3 weeks ago because it was my subject's last day in Davis and my only chance to do an interview. It was the kind of interview I love, where you toss out a question and get back a perfectly "written" article.  All you have to do is copy it to paper...after transcription, of course.

So I've had this tape (the interview was only an hour) for 3 weeks and as of this morning, I had transcribed one sentence.  Today was going to be The Day I would finish it.

By dinnertime, I had folded 2 loads of laundry, had a delightful 2 hour coffee with my friend Kari Peterson downtown, shopped for Davis postcards and little books to send to Brianna and Lacie tomorrow.  I'd done a load of dishes, written a letter to one of my Compassion kids and edited the page of letters from the Compassion kids, did some organizing on my desk, updated my review blog, wrote a note to Jeri about the current review of Cinderella, and rebooted my computer, as requested by one of my anti-virus programs.  The screen told me it would "take awhile" for the updates to upload, so I sat down to just look at the current rerun of SVU on today's marathon.  Of course it was one I had never seen before, so naturally I had to watch it to the end.  I noticed there was no information on a calendar to the "Next Door" web site for the beerfest Walt is organizing, so I made one for him. I had looked at the dictation machine, but had not touched it and it was time for Jeopardy and then of course dinner and then we had to watch the finale of Amazing Race and Grimm.  It is now 10 p.m. and there is a PBS special on King Henry VIII's palace at Hampton Court (which we toured many years ago).  I have the show set to record tomorrow morning at 4 a.m., but I may sit down and watch it now too.

And of course I wrote this journal entry... and now it's much too late to start transcribing.

I can surely finish off the transcription in a couple of hours tomorrow morning, can't I?  Except I have to take my mother's laundry to her, and STARZ will let me see the new Outlander in the morning....

Friday, May 15, 2015

Today at Logos

Whew.  I'm wiped out.  It's a good thing today was a Logos day because after watching the season finales of Grey's Anatomy, The Blacklist and Scandal one right after another, I don't know that I have the energy to write anything else but a recap of the day!  (FWIW final scenes of Scandal were the best of the 3.)

I had a lovely chat with Sandy for about 30 minutes.  She and her wife are going through major landscaping and she's a better man than I am, I have to tell ya!  While we were talking a guy who looked like our kids' friend Kag was eavesdropping and occasionally adding a comment himself.

A middle aged man bought 3 literature books and then an older man came in, kinda shaky, wearing a visor and glasses that wrapped around his head and came apart at the nosepiece in the middle.  Not only did he have regular glasses, but also sunglasses on top of his head.  He wandered around for awhile and was finally joined by his wife, a thin woman wearing a navy dress and a straw hat.  She bought 2 bargain books (one of which was a book of golf jokes) and a book on the Old West.

As for him, he said he had some books to donate and then went on and on about the eclectic nature of his collection and how he had already donated some to a library in England.  The problem was that he was so soft spoken that I only understood about 1 in 5 words and at one point I said "yes" to something and he was surprised that I had heard of that book.  Oops!  Busted!

While he was lecturing me, a guy came in with 20 books to be donated.

A woman bought a bargain book and counted out her pennies to pay the $1.  She was one penny over!  While she was counting her pennies anther old man paid for another bargain book.  For a minute, because of the hat and his grizzled appearance, I thought it was the soft spoken man back again, but it wasn't.

A guy came in looking for an out of print book.  It always amazes me that so many people come into the store where we have, for the most part, one copy of each book (some are multiple copies, but those are rare) and  they expect me to check a database to see if we have a certain book.  Do you know what a nightmare trying to keep a database of all those books would be???  They also assume that because I work in a book store, I know every book ever written and which books every author has written.  Fortunately I do have my smart phone, so I can check...and even Amazon hadn't heard of the book this guy was looking for.

A woman came in wearing flip flops.  She had the weirdest toe I'd ever seen.  It kind of stood straight up next to her other normal toes.  I wondered if she could wear anything but flip flops!  She was looking for a book by Henry Pressman, a new to her author but didn't find anything.  She did buy a bargain book, and then, when she checked the cookbook section, bought another book, on award winning recipes from the Gilroy Garlic Festival because she found a recipe for garlic basil bread pudding (which sounded delicious).  We started talking about garlic and she told me that taking just one garlic clove a day had cured her of her upper respiratory problems.

I shared with her the story of the woman I once worked with who was really into garlic and had lots of it at every meal.  The problem is when you eat copious quantities of garlic, you don't just have garlic breath (which I don't mind), but you excrete it out of your pores and the excreted garlic smells nothing like garlic breath.  In fact, working with her I would sometimes get nauseous just smelling her and moved my desk to an open window so I could get some fresh air.  I don't think she ever realized how bad she smelled and I didn't know her well enough to tell her, and she was an otherwise lovely lady.

An English woman rushed in looking for the credit card she had left behind, which Susan called and told her about.  She found it and went on her way.

A couple came in.  He looked like a college athlete -- maybe rugby, judging by the clothes he was wearing.  He bought a Steinbeck book, and then his female friend bought a different Steinbeck, saying she had never read him before.  Oh what a lovely adventure she is about to embark on, if she enjoys his writing as much as I do.

A young man with a backpack was looking at the science fiction books toward the front of the store when a friend of his, passing by, saw him and came in to chat.  Ultimately she bought a book of the Arabian Nights and he bought two books, one a Bible and the other a book on religious doctrine (presumably he did not find those in the sci fi section!)

An older man wearing wrinkled clothes, slouched in, moving slowly, dragging his feet, and letting his arms hang by his side.  He was very pleasant and reminded me of my paternal grandfather in his later years.  He got a book off a shelf and sat down at the front table to read.  After awhile a woman looking very much like our San Francisco friend Wilma in about 20 years sat down next to him and got her own book to read.  Eventually they put both books back and left without buying anything.

My friend arrived shortly after 5 and was delighted to find an old book, printed in the early 1930s.  It was about Toulouse Lautrec and was written in French.  He doesn't read French, but the book was in very good condition, was only $4 and had great etchings in it.  I told him now he could invite people up to see his etchings.

My last customer was looking for books by Lee Child.  She was unsuccessful but bought a mystery about the Knights Templar.  Were there always books about the mysterious Knights Templar, or was that a craze started by the success of Dan Brown?  Re Child books, I told her that Walt and I decided that if you eliminated the sentence "Reacher said nothing" from Child's books, you could cut the length by one quarter.  She laughed and agreed with me.

Walt went off to "Celebrate Davis" when we got home.  I stayed at home because I remembered it was lots of booths set up in the local park by many businesses to give you crap with their name printed on them.  You can also buy over-priced food there (the good stuff is usually gone by the time you get there), but it's a great place to meet friends (though the last time I went I didn't see a single person I knew, other than those manning a couple of the booths)

He was home before the fireworks started.  We had to put The Blacklist on pause because we couldn't hear over the sound of the dogs barking (we had locked them in the house).  Polly and Lizzie barked, Sheila went into the living room and hid under the dining room table.