Friday, June 23, 2017

Oh to be in Gdansk

Supposedly, today was the hottest day of our heat wave.  Supposed to get up to as high as 111⁰ though it didn't quite get that high here.  But I hadn't been to Atria in several days and went today.  As I left the building, I glanced at the outdoor thermometer and saw that it was about 101-102.  When I got into the car and turned on the radio, a guy sitting in a recording studio in Sacramento had just finished playing a piece by some Polish composer and was saying that the forecast for Gdansk, Poland was 57⁰.  He then said "Oh to be in Gdansk!"  He said what I was feeling too.

I can't remember when I was last at Atria, but its been at least 4 days.  I hadn't planned it that way, but when the temperatures were so hot, Walt couldn't bike around town.  I didn't want to run the risk of him collapsing from heat exhaustion somewhere downtown, so he has been taking the car.  Which left me without transportation, since we only have one car.

In all honesty, in this heat I was delighted to have an excuse not to go to Atria!

I felt guilty, though, because my mother seems to have stopped answering her phone and though I called her several times to explain why I wasn't there, she never answered.

I knew she was fine, but daughter guilt just kicked in.

But when I talked with Jeri on Sunday, she said she had also tried to all her grandmother and never got an answer and wondered when would be a good time to call.  Not knowing what her so-called "schedule" is in the memory care unit, I couldn't tell her, but I told her to pick a day and time and I would be sure to be there to make sure she was there and that she would answer the phone.

And so, out into the cauldron that is Davis this week I went.

I prayed there would be parking in the Atria lot and I found out that 3 p.m. on a hot, hot summer day is the perfect time to find a spot.  There was not one, but three vacant spots.  Nobody wants to visit grandma in this heat!  First hurdle conquered.

She was not in the common room when I passed by, though I noticed that the strains of "Ah leave me not to pine" from Pirates of Penzance wafted after me as I went down the hall to her room. (When I returned an hour later, I could see the video of Pirates playing and they were in the early scenes, where Frederick is asking the young ladies "oh is there not one maiden here....?" so apparently they had run through the operetta the first time and then put it on again.

From the looks on the faces/bodies of the "audience" in the common room, I doubt that anybody noticed.

[Aside:  The common area is not the place to show someone who has a loved one who still has a mentis they are compus with.  It is like a scene out of One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest and every time I pass by I think "She's not that bad, is she?"  But every time I see her there with the rest of the slouching, slack-jawed old folks staring off into space, I realize she looks just like all the rest of them.  I wonder what they are like when they are back in their rooms visiting with their kids...]

Jeri said she would call at 3:30 and I got to the apartment at 3 and texted Jeri that I was there and that her grandmother was there.

At 3:30 on the dot she called, and, as I suspected, my mother didn't know what the noise was or what to do.  She did pick up the phone and they had a nice conversation.  Jeri, evil child she, when my mother told her that I was there visiting, asked her if I was going dancing tonight.  



When the conversation ended, she didn't know what to do with the receiver and after a second or two, didn't know what it even was and didn't have a clue what to do with it.  But I put it back in the cradle for her and realize now that the only way she can talk to someone on the phone is if I am there to make sure she actually answers the phone.

But Jeri was pleased and suggested that we do it every week, which I think will be a fun thing to do.  Hopefully by next week, it won't be so damn hot.  It is scheduled to "cool down" to 97⁰ on Saturday before going up into triple digits again next week.  Amazing to think of 97 as "cooling down".

But there was a very good thing that happened today.  As I said, I had not been at Atria for three days, and sat home feeling guilty for feeling relieved that I couldn't get there.  But, unlike other times, she didn't seem to have a clue that it had been 3 days, so I'm going to start giving myself permission to skip a couple of days and not go over there nearly every day.

Her roommate, Marge, walked in while we were talking.  I've seen Marge a few times and I have yet to understand a word she says.  She rattles on about something that is important to her, but her thoughts never make any sense and she eventually just kind of turns and leaves.  The aides tell me that she and my mother are good friends.  I don't know about that. After she left, my mother said "who is that woman?"

However, today she knew Fred and talked about him a lot, how much she missed him, how much fun they had together when they were married, etc.  It's nice that every now and then she can have those memories back again.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Media Babe #2

A year ago, my colleague Jeff and I were interviewed for Capital Public Radio's "Insight," a program about local "stuff."  The host, Beth Ruyak, was interviewing us about the 2016 season of Music Circus.  

It was a fun segment and she said she enjoyed it and would like to have us back again sometime.  Today was that day and we were there to talk about the 2017 season of Music Circus, so it was handy that we had just seen Beauty and the Beast, the season opener, the night before.

As before, we were ushered into the green room, where I was given an enormous cup of coffee and they brought in gluten-free peanut butter brownies (way too sweet) and granola bars and told us to just ask if we wanted anything else.

There was another interviewee there, a writer named Raheem F. Hosseini, there to talk about his late mother's decision, after years of fighting and suffering to choose to end her life, shortly after assisted suicide became legal in California...and the difficulties they had finding someone who would help her, even though it was legal.  He was a very nice, positive, upbeat guy, and his interview was prompted by a wonderful article he wrote for Sacramento News and Review.

The walls of the green room (which was really grey) were lined with posters, many of them autographed, by people whom Beth had interviewed over the years.


I was amused to see the collection of toys on the coffee table, things for people to do with themselves while waiting for their segments.


(Last year I signed that guest book with "omigod you guys" because we were about to see Legally Blonde.  I didn't sign it this year because I couldn't think of anything clever.  It wasn't until I got home that I realized I should have written "Thank you for letting us be your guest."  Owell)

The show is an hour long and each segment is scheduled for 15 minutes. The first interview was a telephone interview with a guy in Washington, DC taking about the latest congressional elections and then comparisons between Senator Dianne Feinstein and Kamala Harris; then Raheem; then us; and finally a jazz band from Sacramento State College.

While Raheem was in the interview room, the band came in and the young men spent a lot of time playing with each of the toys on the coffee table, concentrating on trying to work the puzzle that was that little box next to the guest book.  I don't think they ever figured it out.

Our segment seemed to end almost as soon as it began.  Beth played two recordings that Jeff had made for his own radio show later this week.  Then I talked about how comfortable the theater is and how blessed we are to have air conditioning.  Jeff went through the remaining shows in the season.  We both talked about the new projection system that Music Circus has just installed.  Beth asked how I felt about young children seeing the show, and would it be too scary for them.  I thought that 4+ year olds (under 4 can't come) would be fine; Jeff disagreed and cautioned to know your child before bringing them.

And then it was over.  Beth said that she'd have us back to talk about fall "movies" (she misspoke) and by the time we got to the car, Walt had texted "fall MOVIES" ?  Beth took a picture of Jeff and me, and I took a picture of her.  Her schedule was too crammed today to do the picture of the 3 of us we did last year.

It was painless, I don't feel I did as good a job as I did last year, but I enjoyed the experience and whether she has us back this fall or not until next summer, I'd love to do it again.
I'll keep at it until I get it right!  (Though I just listened to the recording and it didn't sound all that bad)

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Be Our Guest

It was another lazy, hot day only this day very little got accomplished.  I can't even remember what I did.

The plan was to go visit my mother around 1, after she's had her lunch so in he late morning, in the middle of writing a 10 page letter to my friend Ann MacNab (co-founder of the Lamplighters, housebound and unable to attend the memorial).  We always write very long letters to each other.  The letter from her I was answering was 17 pages long.

I took a break to have my now-scheduled reading time.  I read for about an hour and a half and since it was still just a little too early to go to Atria, I went back to writing the letter, when Jeri called.
We had a very nice, long chat which was so long that by the time we finished, it was getting late and I really didn't feel like going to Atria, so I just finished the letter and got dinner ready, since we were going to go see Beauty and the Beast tonight.  Believe me, the very last thing I wanted to do on such a hot night.

This was the opening production of the 2017 Music Circus season and I gave thanks, as I usually do, that Music Circus finally built a real theater.  For many years they performed in a giant circus tent with no air conditioning and the kind of chairs that stars sit in on the set between takes.  A decidedly unpleasant experience.

But the building was built three years after I started reviewing and I give thanks every time I enter the air conditioned building and sit in the padded theater seats!

It is a theater in the round and while we were waiting the stage was set with just a single red rose that looked like it had a God Light shining on it.


As for the production, it was absolutely wonderful.  The director, Glen Casale, is the major director for Music Circus and he had directed this show here before, but he had also taken a company on a European tour with it and the costumes for this production were from that tour.

It was an opulent production.


The performers were all professionals, many of whom had had major roles on Broadway, so the quality was top notch, my only complaint is that it was entirely too loud and with my hearing you know it's loud if I'm complaining about it!

We enjoyed the show so much, we'll see it again in 2 weeks when we go to another production in Solvang with Tom and family.  It will be the girls' first "big theater" production.  I wonder if either of them will come dressed as princesses, as many little girls did tonight!

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Havin' a Heat Wave

The heat wave continues.  Day 5 now.  It's predicted to get up to 106 today, and will have cooled off to 103 by the time we have to go to Sacramento to review Beauty and the Beast.  The extended forecast shows that it isn't going to get out of the 100s until Sunday, when it will cool off to a high of only 97, which at this point does seem cooler to me.

I think in the nearly 44 years we have lived here this is the longest stretch of triple digit days we have had.  Last year, I remember getting to the start of fall and remarking that we'd only had a handful of triple digit days, spread out over 3 months. It's only June and we have already had more than last year.  Climate change?  Nahhh.  Couldn't be.

Of course we live in air conditioner country and so with the combination of the house a/c and strategically placed fans, I am blissfully unaware of how hot it is outside  I didn't go to Atria yesterday because of the heat, but I feel guilty if I miss more than 2 days (I felt it was OK to skip Sunday because I knew Ned was visiting her) so I'll be out and about this afternoon.

Yesterday was "Orva Day."  I wrote yesterday's journal entry about the memorial service and got my one video posted to YouTube.  I had a bunch of photos that needed to be cropped and edited to make them look better than they really were.  That took a big chunk of time but I got them all posted to Facebook.  I also wrote to a few people to direct them to the photos and video, afraid they would otherwise miss them, and started a long letter to Ann MacNab, the co-founder of The Lamplighters, who was unable to attend the memorial due to health problems.

By the time I did all the Orva stuff and got my afternoon nap in, I completely forgot that I hadn't written my review of Legally Blonde, which we saw on Friday.  I was up at midnight finishing that.
I spent the afternoon reading all the glowing comments on the photos and loving memories of Orva and just the Lamplighters family coming together on Facebook .... that is, until this crazy comment showed up on my photo album for the memorial:
He was a dishonest person. He and the Lamplighters producer repeatedly sent out audition notices stating "All roles are cast by open audition" but they always cast the same people in each show.
There were wonderful rebuttal comments on this hateful comment and some urged me to delete the comment, but I felt (others agreed with me), that I should leave and let people see what a hateful person this was.

Never make an accusation like this to a historian.  I went to the Lamplighters history and discovered that this guy had been in the chorus for 7 Lamplighters shows in the 1970s and had actually moved up to a principal role for his last show in the late 1970s.  Which seems in contradiction to the comment.  

So tonight, as I said, we are going out into the heat to review Beauty and the Beast, which we last saw when Caroline was here and wanted to see the movie.  When we go to Santa Barbara for Tom's birthday barbeque, we are going with the girls to their very first big theater show, Beauty and the Beast.  It's a good thing I actually like the show!

Tomorrow my colleague, Jeff, and I are being interviewed again on the local PBS radio station to discuss the current season of the Music Circus.  We were interviewed a year ago and I guess all went all right because we've been invited back.  (Of course, it doesn't hurt that Jeff also has his own radio program on the same radio station.) It's nice the interview takes place the day after Beauty and the Beast opens.  I must bone-up on the other shows in this season.


Today is the big day of the Georgia senate election.  I do not live in Georgia and while I understand the importance of the democrat winning, I have heard from Ossoff's people many times a day for a year now.  I even was guilted into making a small donation once (good Lord don't do that!!!) and their requests for "just $5 more" increased.

By now I really don't care who wins.  I just want the harassment to stop!!!!!

Monday, June 19, 2017

Molecule Failure

From time to time at the end of the day it seems as if my molecules just collapse.  No matter what I should be doing, my body just. won't. move.  That's what happened at the end of the day yesterday.  It's not that it was a particularly energetic day, just eventful.  

Ned came at 9 with bagels to celebrate Fathers Day and we had a nice visit before he left to go and visit his grandmother.  Walt and I were delighted to be headed off to San Francisco, hoping to escape the predicted 107⁰ temperatures here.  We were headed to the Presentation theater, old home of The Lamplighters, for a memorial to Orva Hoskinson, co-founder of the company and "father" to hundreds of performers who have trod the Lamplighters boards over the years.  A cool breeze greeted me as I got out of the car.  How wonderful!

The stage was set with a display of Orva's costume for his iconic role of Bunthorne, the fleshly poet, in Gilbert & Sullivan's Patience. 
While Orva performed all of his life and performed and directed not only Gilbert & Sullivan, but opera, operetta, recitals, etc. (as a recording of "Donna non vidi Mai" from Manon Lescaut recorded in 1958 with LeRoy Miller accompanying, which began the memorial demonstrated) for Lamplighters, he will forever be remembered for his Bunthorne, of which one San Francisco Chronicle critic once wrote "There is Gielgud's Hamlet, and there is Hoskinson's Bunthorne."

There followed a parade of memorials interspersed with performances and film clips of Orva in performance that was an emotional roller coaster. But it was absolutely perfect and I think Orva would have approved

The memories started out with a song, written by co-founder Ann MacNab (unable, because of health problems to attend) to celebrate Orva.  It was perfect "Ann."

"The World is a Broken Toy" from Princess Ida brought tears from many remembering that the Lamplighters have lost FIVE in the last year.  In addition to Orva there was patterman/board chairman John Vlahos, the marvelous soprano, Rosemary Bock, patterman John Rouse, and Patience Bauman, daughter of two Lamplighters who met and married in the company.  Patience also performed in Lamplighters choruses.


Rick Williams, patterman, and soprano Jane Hammett recreated Orva's staging for "I have a song to sing o" from Yeomen of the Guard.  Rick also gave a shout-out to myself and Alison Lewis for writing the Lamplighters history, which was very sweet of him.


The afternoon continued through memories, laughs, tears, and, at the end, hugs.  (Highlight was a marvelous video montage by Judy Epstein, which will be uploaded to YouTube today.  Who knew Ova once had hair?)  Someone even remembered the incident (recorded in Arthur Bloomfield's History of the San Francisco Opera) when Orva streaked a production of The Grand Duchess of Gerolstein, on suggestion of then-director Kurt Adler.  (Three people at the memorial remembered being in the Opera House audience to see it.) Then there was a reception at the Lamplighters World Headquarters, which we also attended, not wanting to leave the cool air of San Francisco and head home!

When we finally got into the car, we decided to find some place to eat, for Fathers Day.  It took four tries before we finally found someplace that could take us without a reservation.  We tried Spengers Fish Grotto in Berkeley, but they turned us away, then Skates, on the Berkeley Marina, where we had gone with Caroline when she was here, but there was such a line of people waiting, I didn't even ask if they could take us.  Lowering our standards we tried Sizzler, a bit farther toward home, but they had a long line waiting and few tables open, so on we went to Denny's in Cordelia.  It wasn't anything fancy, but at least there was no line!  


We were now back in the heat again, though. I had told Walt I would drive home from Denny's, but my molecules started fading before I had finished my steak (which I brought home and he said he would drive.  I think I was asleep before we got on the freeway and barely awake long enough to stumble in the house and collapsed into the recliner.  Walt fed the dogs.

But it was a memorable day and I think even though it was an unusual Fathers Day, Walt enjoyed himself.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Saturday 9

Welcome to Saturday: 9. What we've committed to our readers is that we will post 9 questions every Saturday. Sometimes the post will have a theme, and at other times the questions will be totally unrelated. Those weeks we do "random questions," so-to-speak. We encourage you to visit other participants posts and leave a comment. Because we don't have any rules, it is your choice. We hate rules. We love memes, however, and here is today's meme. 
 
Saturday 9: As Long as We Got Each Other (Theme from Growing Pains)
... because it's Father's Day weekend
 
Unfamiliar with this week's tune? Hear it here.

1) This is the theme from the 1980s sitcom, Growing Pains. Alan Thicke played Dr. Jason Seaver, one of TVs popular dads. Who is your favorite TV dad?
Jim Anderson, from Father Knows Best.  I was sad to find out that Robert Young was battling alcoholism at the time!

2) Joanna Kearns, who played
Jason's wife, reports that she teased her costar by calling him, "Al," a nickname he hated. Is there someone in your life that you enjoy needling?
Only my brother-in-law.  I tease him every time he has a birthday because every time I have a birthday, he reminds me that I am now older than he is.  Three months later, we are the same age again.

3)
For most of the series, the Seaver children each represented a "type." The oldest, Mike, was the trouble maker. The daughter, Carol, was the brainiac. Young Ben could be very high maintenance. Which of the Seaver kids were you most like when you were growing up?
None.  I was quiet and a bookworm, but definitely not a brainiac.

4) In the song,
BJ Thomas sings about being "the luckiest dreamer who never quit dreaming." If you could have any dream come true this Saturday, what would you wish for?
To spend the day with my mother as she was before dementia took that which was "her" away.

5
) When he mans the grill, Sam's father proudly wears the "Kiss the Chef" she gave him for Father's Day years ago. Tell us about a gift you gave someone that was a hit.
Last Christmas I had a blanket made for my mother with pictures of the family on it.  She seemed to like it when she got it, though most of the time she doesn't know who all those people are. But for one brief shining moment, I think she liked it.

6) Sam's
dad takes his grilling very seriously and jealously guards his special marinade recipe. Do you have a secret you haven't even shared with family members?
I can't think of one.

7
) He recommends using a grill basket when barbecuing vegetables so you don't have to worry about them falling through the grill. Share one of your culinary tips with us.
This method for shucking corn on the cob:  https://youtu.be/J89FJcHJ1pQ

8
) Sam's father hates it when she swears. What's the last curse word you used?
The f-word.  My favorite curse word, though few hear me say it

9) Sam's father satisfies his afternoon sugar craving with an almost endless stream of Butter Rum Lifesavers. When you crave a snack, do you usually want something sweet or salty?

Usually salty.  Crackers or nuts.  It used to be sweets, but lately sweets are tasting too sweet for me (I assume this is another "gift" of growing older).

Friday, June 16, 2017

All in All, a Good Day

I knew it was going to be a good day when I woke up.  I had a decent night sleep.  My usual middle of the night 3 a.m. waking wasn't until 4:30 and I was able to go back to sleep right away.  By the time I came to life at 8, Walt had made coffee and fed the dogs, so I knew I would not be getting up to their yapping and jumping.

Usually the first thing I do when I come to life is to think about dinner and what will I cook now that I don't have any prepared Home Chef meals left for the week.  But we were going to a dinner at night, so I knew I wouldn't have to cook.  Last night I made Caroline's shrimp curry and it was as delicious as it was when she made it.  Good, simple recipe to have ingredients on hand for!  (Walt laughed when I told him I had to go and stock up on coconut milk.)

The second thing I think about before I get up is whether or not I should go to Atria that day, but since I was just with my mother yesterday and since we never have anything to talk about and she doesn't know if I was there an hour ago or a month ago, I felt comfortable skipping Atria today.
So the whole delicious day stretched before me, with lots of little things I could be doing, but nothing pressing I had to do immediately.

I sat and finished "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe," so I'm ready to discuss the book with our "book club" when we are all in Santa Barbara in a couple of weeks.

I spent an hour or so turning yesterday's photo of my mother, a picture of Benny from our day in San Francisco, and a picture of a guy sitting at a table at Fenton's into this picture of Benny;


Then I wrote to Brianna to tell her about going to Fenton's and also that I had finished the book and was looking forward to talking to her about it.  I also wrote a letter to Lacie congratulating her on learning how to ride her bike without training wheels.

I was disappointed when I heard Walt fixing his lunch when the sound of the microwave made me think he had finished last night's shrimp (because he is a huge lover of leftovers), which I had been looking forward to for my own lunch.  But later, when I went to the fridge, I discovered he had not finished it and I was able to have a bowl of it and quench my craving.

The afternoon passed quietly and at 5 we left to go to an awards dinner for Citizens Who Care and Yolo County Hospice.  We got to the parking lot and saw all these grey haired, stooped people shuffling into the hotel and knew we had found our event!

The evening started with some music by The Threshold Choir.  These lovely ladies visit people at the end of their lives, sit quietly with them and sing to them. I've heard about this before and it seems a lovely, loving thing to do and a peaceful way to leave this life.


Then, before the actual awards began, we were invited to go to the buffet table and get out food.  We were in Table #2.  There were 28 tables of 10 in the room and they started calling tables from the back forward.  All these people got their food before we did...and some got their food, ate it, and went back to get their desserts and we were still waiting to be called (we had not chosen our table; it was assigned)


Cass Sylvia, the former Public Guardian for Yolo County was at our table and was ready to lead a revolt if we didn't get something to eat!

The advantage of sitting for half an hour watching everyone go for food was that they all had to pass by our table, so we got to see who had showed up, like Jeri's high school band leader, a woman I worked with at the Physics Department in Berkeley a lifetime ago, a guy who went to school with Tom, and a woman who came over to tell me we were friends on Facebook and she loves my posts!  We recognized a lot more faces, but probably had not seen them in 30 years and while we have not changed, they had and the names didn't come.

As we finally got our dinner and sat down to eat, they turned off the lights to show an audiovisual presentation about the recipients of this year's awards.

How many of these things have I been to in my lifetime?  Hundreds.  Why is it that nobody (except Ned and his friend Jon) thinks it's important to have an A-V rehearsal before keeping nearly 300 people in the dark while they fumble around trying to get it right.

They finally did get it going and except for a sound level so loud I had to find earplugs in my purse and wear them (and I have hearing problems!) and terrible feedback, the presentation was nice, and the people honored were very inspiring (and make me feel like a piker).

There was an auction and a silent auction, but nothing appealed to us.  They did get $1,900 for two tickets to Hamilton in SF (I'll wait a couple of years till it comes to Sacramento and I can see it for free in better seats than these auction seats!)

We are usually the last to leave anywhere we go and I sat at our table and waited for Walt to be ready to leave.

 
But all in all it was a nice event, the food (when we finally got it) was OK, the awards were inspiring, and we were home before 9, capping off an all in all good day.