Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Back to Seedy Bars

There was a time in our parenting lives when the only way we could get to see much of our kids was by visiting them in seedy bars in questionable parts of town.  Three of our kids were in a band called "Lawsuit" for ten years and we tried to get to most of their shows--and since they played nearly every weekend, we spent a lot of time in bars.  Which is fun for someone who doesn't drink!

Lawsuit packed up its bags and faded in to the annals of music history in 1996 and while there is a revamped band, Preoccupied Pipers, they aren't as organized, don't play as often, and only Ned is in it regularly, Marta occasionally, and Jeri when she is in town (rarely).

But tonight Preoccupied Pipers played as part of an extravaganza called....

Ned has been working with Tom Fay to put  this show on and publicize it (lemme tell you...if you want a good publicist, Ned's your man!  He managed to make and post a video a day for the past week advertising this gig, in addition to an appearance on a Sacramento morning TV show and getting his mother to write a half-page long article, with two color photos, on Tom Fay, "The Christmas Miracle.")

And so there was no way we could skip this concert.  Harrow's isn't exactly as "seedy" as some of the bars we have visited following our kids around Northern California.  It actually has a menu of real food, so we could have dinner there.  Ned saved us a table overlooking the stage and dance floor
A quartet opened the show and then Tom and his band, the Rhythm Kings, took the stage and did their set, ending with The Santa Rhumba.  To look at him tonight you wouldn't think he was 75 and nearly died of a stroke two years ago!

There were a couple of other bands following the Rhythm Kings and then Preoccupied Pipers came on  The thing that was always interesting about Lawsuit is that they always filled a dance floor.  Even in a crowd that hadn't danced to other groups the same evening, would always be dancing to Lawsuit.  That's what I thought when I saw the group dancing to Preoccupied Pipers.  It was a Lawsuit flashback.  (Walt pointed out that I could tell my mother that we went dancing tonight!)

It's always fun to see Ned on the drum, though he's hidden behind all the instruments in front.  He did come out in front with guitar to do a duet with Marta.

There were also several "guest stars" whom I did not get pictures of, like Sarah "Sarge" Clanton and Barbara West singing a trio with Marta and later Paul's best friend Kag sharing the lead with KC Bowman on the finale, one of my favorite Lawsuit Songs, "The Grassy Knoell," their off-beat tribute to Christmas and the Kennedy assassination.  Even Ned's brother-in-law Brad got in there playing the tin whistle.  Everybody just had a great time.

There was another band after Preoccupied Pipers, but we decided to skip it and just came on home to watch Jeopardy.
As I write this, I am uploading my video of "The Grassy Knoell" to YouTube.  If it actually uploads, I will link to it here tomorrow.  It made me teary remembering the Lawsuit years and missing Paul.
We came home on such a high, the show having been so much fun, and with the happy news that Doug Jones had won the Alabama Senate run-off.  

Of course by the time I got to the end of this entry, Roy Moore had refused to concede and was demanding a re-count and you just know they'll find some way to reverse the votes.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Sunday Stealing

 Bah Humbug!  Before we get all warm and cozy for the upcoming holidays, here's a chance to let out all those angry feelings you've been harboring .  I copied this a long time ago and don't remember where I stole it from.

TV show I loathe:
If I loathe the show, I won't watch it.  There are several shows that I have never watched that I know I would loathe if I did...any "mating and dating" show (The Bachelor, Bachelorette, Who Wants to Marry a Millionaire, etc), anything with Kardashian or "Christley" in it

Movie I loathe:
I can't think of a movie I loathe (except I remember hating The Stuntman decades ago but don't remember why now.  There are movies I'm not fond of, especially at this time of year-foremost among them would be It's a Wonderful Life (because it's played to death in December) followed by any of the sappy formulaic Christmas movies that Hallmark shows during the whole month of December.
Music genres I loathe:
Anything loud and "splatty," which would include not only heavy metal, but also most modern operas and/or symphonies!

Magazine which annoys me:
I don't really read magazines any more because the print size is too small, but I would think I would not enjoy any right wing propagandistic publication.

Makes me cranky at restaurant:
Two things -- parents who let their kids run around unsupervised, and overly solicitous wait staff.  It's one thing to be attentive to your customers; it's entirely another to interrupt them every couple of minutes to ask if everything is all right.  Olive Garden in Sacramento is famous for this.

Makes me cranky in public:
Everybody walking around looking at their cell phones.

Makes me impatient at home:
Polly's bark to let us know we are not doing something she wants us to do.  There is no "off" button on a Chihuahua!

Makes me impatient at work:
I'm retired, so this doesn't apply.

Celebrity I hate:
"Hate" is such a strong word, but I find I can't look at Bill Cosby, Kevin Spacey or Matt Lauer now and I used to like all three of them.  So very disillusioned!

Music artist I hate:
I don't know any current music artists enough to hate any of them.

I could care less about:
What Bill O'Riley, Rush Limbaugh or Steve Bannon have to say, though Bannon is a very scary guy with far too much influence on #45.

Blogger's habit that annoys you:
It annoys me when a blogger writes something really good....but has no comment or contact information so I can compliment him/her on it.

Feature on your blog you hate:
I'm pretty much content with it.  I would like to change the look just because it's looked the same for many, many years, but every time I try I end up with the same look -- it's why I change the wallpaper and colors each month.  It's the only change I feel comfortable with.

Politician that you hate:
Could there be any doubt?

Saturday, December 9, 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! 

Unfamiliar with this week's tune? Hear it here.

1) This song is about a woman who loves singing along with her car radio. Is that something you enjoy?
I am more likely to sing along with CDs, but in the last few years, my voice seems to have disappeared.  I have a vocal range of about 4 notes and it's to depressing to try to sing.

The video begins with Maren Morris finishing her cigarette before getting behind the wheel. Do you allow smoking in your car?
I don't know anybody who smokes any more, but if I did, I would ask them to please not smoke in the car.

3) In this song, Maren admits she's lied. What's the last fib you told?
I always tell my mother I'll see her "tomorrow" because she gets upset if she thinks I won't be there the next day but she can't tell one day from another and even if it's several days that I don't see her, she doesn't know. "I'll see you tomorrow" seems a kind deception.

) She mentions having her radio on the FM dial. Are you loyal to a single radio station? Or do you spin the dial?
Mostly I listen to CDs or an audio book, but if I have the radio on, it's either NPR or a classical music station (the only two set buttons on the car radio)

5Maren was inspired to write this song while on a long car trip from Nashville to Los Angeles. When do you get your best ideas? (In the shower, behind the wheel, over lunch with friends ...)
Actually, I seem to be my most creative as I lie down at night and get ready to go to sleep.
6) She performed this song on Saturday Night Live last year. The host that week was John Cenna. Do you follow professional wrestling?
Heavens no, but I've seen John Cenna on talk shows and he seems to be a nice guy.

7) In 2016, when this song was popular, Alex Rodriguez played his final Major League Baseball game. He has embarked on a second career as a broadcaster. Would you be comfortable on camera?
Our kids (now adults) have been making movies for so many years, that it doesn't bother me to be on camera, but I'm never comfortable with it.

8) A 2016 study revealed that 43% of Americans own mutual funds, many in their 401(k)s and IRAs. Are you involved in the stock market
My husband handles investments.  I know we do have mutual funds, but that's about all I know.  (Lord help me if he dies first!)

9) Random question: You have something awkward and embarrassing that you simply must tell a pal. You know your friend will not be happy with the news. Would you prefer to deliver it by email, in a phone call, or face to face?
It depends on who the "pal" is and how comfortable I am speaking with that person face to face.  (I'm basically a chicken)

Just a comment that Holidailies drives me crazy some time.  I am trying to be diligent and check out most of the entries that people have submitted and, if possible, add a comment to each entry (unless there is nothing that I can think of to say to the entry).  I think that one of the reasons we join Holidailies is to get to know other bloggers and invite them to look at your stuff too...commenting is a great way to do that.

But there are a couple of people who have neither a comment box nor any contact information.  The frustrating thing about this is that these are the entries that are really interesting and have things that I want to comment on.  It's like wanting to scream at the news on TV at night.

The other people who drive me nuts are those who put the Holidailies address in the place where their entry address is supposed to be, so when you click on their entry it takes you back to the front page of Holidailies and never do see their entries, though the excerpt they posted about the entry may be very intriguing, but you'll never know it because they put the wrong link in their post.

However, most of the participants have comment boxes and post the right way and most of them are generally interesting, so I continue participating every year.

Friday, December 8, 2017

Christmas Around the World

Our Christmases these days are quite different from the days of old, much calmer, for one thing -- but part of me misses the "old days," when we had to borrow an extra table and chairs from the local community center and when we were never really sure how many people would show up.

In the years when we were hosting foreigners in our house (70 in 10 years, from 15 different countries), whichever of them was in the neighborhood (i.e., the western United States!) they would plan to spend the holiday with us.  Sometimes we managed to squeeze as many as 24 people around the dinner table (bear in mind that our room is 22' x 15' !)

I love this picture because it kind of epitomizes those days.  Walt always used to read "The Night Before Christmas" to the kids before they went to bed, and even as they started getting older, they insisted he continue the tradition.  When there were visitors, they, too, got into the spirit of things.   So in this picture we have, going round the circle from left to right:  Pujol from Brasil, David in Walt's lap, Tom in the lap of Marcio, also from Brasil.  Next to Marcio, bent over and wearing glasses is Felix from what was then Yugoslavia, then Paul, and Ndangi from Zaire and Jeri.

Ndangi was one of the first persons from another country to stay with us at Christmas time.  We had already planned to host Chieko from Japan, but Ndangi ended up with no place to go, so we invited him to join us as well.  He didn't speak much English at that time and my French got a good workout.  For the next several years, wherever either one of them were in the states, the two of them (who developed a kind of brother and sister relationship) would fly in to join us for Christmas.  Chieko is now married with three children and living back in Tokyo.   Ndangi works in Silicon Valley, is married  and has twin girls.

I think Marcello (Brasil--Rio de Janeiro) was the next one to be here for Christmas.  Marcello arrived in this country speaking no English (awkward, because he was here to go to high school).  He was also not happy with his placement in the middle of California because he was a surfer and hoped to spend his days surfing (he had no idea the water in this part of the state was so cold!).  By the time he left here, he was better at speaking English, so good that he was able to return to the United States a few years later and, the last I heard of him, he had been working as some sort of official for Marriott Hotels.

Maria (here with Grandma Sykes) came from Mexico.  Her minister recognized that she had great potential and wanted to find a family which would take her in so she could study in this country.  I heard of her by chance, and agreed to have her live with us.  She was bright and delightful (and is now married and owns her own restaurant, which has received awards for excellence in a Sacramento magazine). 
Her sister, Sandra, came to visit one year and spent Christmas with us. 

What we did to that poor woman shouldn't happen to a dog.  It happened that at that time, Jeri was working for a theatrical supply place and so she gave David a break-away bottle as a gift.  Those were the years when the kids took movies of everything, and created elaborate plots (all involving chase and fight scenes, or falling off roofs or whatever).  The kids had been filming a complicated movie all day and it was going to end with a fight scene at the dinner table.  Sandra was totally unaware of what was going on, was new to our family and how weird we were, and didn't speak English all that well. 
So we all sat down at the table and most people had been told what was going to happen, but nobody thought to tell Sandra.  All of a sudden, David chases Paul through the house yelling at him.  Walt yells at both of them to stop fighting, David growls, picks up the wine bottle off of the table and hits Paul over the head with it, the bottle shattered and Sandra screamed.  Everybody goes on eating as if nothing unusual was going on.  I thought poor Sandra would have a heart attack.

Vince was from Malaysia and had lived here in Davis for a few years with his family while his father studied at UC Davis.   When the family went back to Malaysia, knowing that Vince's chances of a good education, as a Chinese student, were poor in Malaysia, and that they would either have to leave him here or send him to Singapore, contacted the church to find a family.  The church called us and we said sure.  So Vince moved in for three years, and continued to spend Christmases with us through his college years at UC Davis and until he married and began having a family of his own (twins now).

Victor was Ndangi's cousin and came from Zaire speaking not a single word of English.  One of my very favorite memories is of David and his friend Jeff setting up English lessons for Victor every afternoon.  Victor and David developed a special bond and after David died, though we had not seen Victor in years, he showed up at our door unannounced, tears in his eyes, to be here for the memorial service.   When it was over, he disappeared and we haven't heard from him since.

Felix also joined us for several Christmases in a row.   He came from Yugoslavia on vacation and lived with us for three weeks, but he then went to graduate school at Cal Tech, and would return for the holiday.  He later got a job with an engineering firm in Sacramento, so lived close enough that he could join us each Christmas.  

He is now married and  he and his wife own a B&B in the Seattle area.  They have two beautiful white poodles and I often see pictures of them on some hike or other around the area.  We saw him this spring when he was in Sacramento for a conference. I like this picture of him helping Ned to peel the potatoes for Christmas dinner.

When I remember all of those crazy years when we barely had enough elbow room, let alone room to move around the table, I think of them fondly.  We certainly had a lot of very special people from other countries pass through our lives and our hearts over the years.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Gift List 2018

Now that #45's tax bill is about to pass, I'm thinking of what I'll do when all that money comes flooding in.  Taking Stephen Colbert's advice, I went shopping on, Gwyneth Paltrow's web site for the uber rich so I can make my Christmas list for next year.

I started small, with games. For $34 I can buy a deck of "dirty talk cards," presented in a pristine giftable box, the fourteen cards inside have sexy sayings—printed on a luxe paper with hand-painted gold edges—as a special collab between Paper Chase Press, Afterall, and goop. It’s an incredibly fun way to spice up date-night—your significant other won’t be disappointed.

If you don't want to play cards, maybe for $70 you can get a "Love is Art Couple's paint kit." The key to this body-painting kit—by which we mean painting a canvas using your and your partner’s bodies—is stripping down first. Includes organic, non-toxic gold and black paint, a specially treated cotton canvas (3.5’ x 4.5’), a plastic drop cloth (10’ x 17’) to protect your surface from paint splashes, two pairs of disposable slippers (so no tracking paint footprints off the canvas), and a soft mesh body scrubber for cleanupSadly, this item is sold out, but maybe by next year they will have restocked.  I can just see Walt and me painting each other while the dogs leap about trying to figure out what's going on.
Not into painting?  How about a $500 dart board?  This beautifully-crafted dartboard is as much fun to play with as it is a gorgeous object. Made of silk-screened cork in five colors, the board itself is stunning (with a keyhole on the back for easy hanging), but the darts themselves look fantastic, too. It’s an original, modern update on the ancient game of skill—a keep-it-forever classic.

Colbert was particularly excited about the $66 jade egg. 
Used by women to increase sexual energy and pleasure, this nephrite jade stone helps connect the second chakra (the heart) and yoni for optimal self-love and well being. Please be sure to follow the instructions included with your egg.  Made exclusively for goop.
  • Nephrite jade
  • Length: 1.57", Width: 1.18"
  • Eggs are pre drilled for string add-on; we recommend using unwaxed dental floss
Having worked in an ob/gyn office for many years, I am quite familiar with the yoni.  You may want to look it up.  (The egg also comes in Rose quartz, which is cheaper, only $55)

For only $84 you can buy a water bottle with an imbedded obelisk-like amethyst crystal to infuse water with positive energy. A soothing crystal, amethyst is thought to help transform negative energy, enhance existing psychic abilities, and calm the mind.  Sounds nicer than my $1.25 plastic job.

Of course you can't live without these $460 sun glasses.  Given how often people misplace their glasses, maybe you should get a back-up pair just in case.  These pair nicely with the $230 ear buds to keep your music with you at all times (or for $300 you can buy wireless ear buds, which have the added advantage of being much easier to lose.)

I really was not taken with this $2,750 sequin-shaped cocktail ring.  I think it's ugly, but others obviously disagree with me if they are paying nearly $3,000 for this monstrosity.  The description states that the ring can be worn with either a cocktail dress and heels, or a tee-shirt and jeans.  I'm glad to know it is multi-purpose.

But while I don't like this ring, I can't live without the $145 "nut milk maker," a product I've never seen before.

And all these years of burning incense cones, or a stick of incense that you prop up on something, it's a comfort to know that for only $345 you can buy this incense burner.

This gorgeous gift set comes with three hand-cut semi-precious stones (clear quartz, rose quartz, and black onyx) that hold your incense stick sideways so it can burn at both ends. It even comes with a clever copper-tone brass tray to collect falling ash (read: no clean-up required). The packaging is so pretty that no additional wrapping is required.

I have a year to plan my gift giving 2018, but I'd better order early because almost everything that looked good to me is already sold out.  

I can hardly wait for my tax refund to arrive...

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

And now a word from our sponsor

I was watching The Today Show this morning when it suddenly felt like the commercials had been going on forever.  So I did the logical thing -- I hit the "record" button and later went back to count them.

Twenty-two commercials.  I am remembering the lovely days in  Ireland where the commercials were all grouped at either the beginning or the end of the program, and the program went on uninterrupted.  How civilized.

Walt has been noticing evening commercials and wondering if I is assumed that the programs we watch are all geared toward old people, since there seems to be a preponderance of commercials for medications.  (Some day I really want someone who created it to explain the side-by-side bathtub commercial to me.  How does that POSSIBLY make you think of physical intimacy.  For one thing, the tubs are at the edge of a cliff, presumably out in the middle of nowhere and there are no clothes to be seen.  Did they have help, or tiptoe through the tulips nude.  So the guy takes the little blue pill, or whatever color it is, and it works.  They have to get through TWO bathtubs and either make love on the ground or in a small bathtub.  But that commercial has been running forEVer.

I don't know what demographic the morning commercials are aiming at.  Maybe you can figure it out.

1. the movie All the Money in the World
2. Papa Murphy pizza
3. Baskin Robbins ice cream pizza
4., about the evils of second hand smoke
5. Panera
6. Tylenol
7. Cheerios
8. Peanut butter chocolate Cheerios (which sounds ghastly)
9. the movie The Shape of Water
10. Lindor chocolates (does anybody eat one of those truffles as slowly as that woman does?
11. Some internet connection
12. Blue Basic dog food
13. Robitussin cough syrup
14. Paradontax tooth paste
15. St. Jude's hospital
16. The importance of milk in the diet of an Olympian
17. Symbicort medication for COPD
18. Kohl's
19. Ross for clothes
20. Palmer's Coconut oil with a half-naked woman meandering through a forest pouring coconut milk over her body -- kind of the ice cube challenge with coconut
21. Boot Barn (it starts out with a bunch of vignettes asking "what is love?" and it turns out that love is boots.
22. Ross again, this time for house decorations

At least there was no Stanton Optical commercial.  Those are my least favorite commercials and they run one, then another commercials runs and then Stanton is back again with the same commercials.  They are a tad less offensive than they used to be, but I still hate them.

So this is apparently the White House all tarted up for Christmas. Isn't it warm and inviting? Looks like something out of a Bergman movie.

Was there ever a better representation of the past year and the cold heartedness of the current administration? I can see a tree for the millions who are about to lose their health care, a tree for children who will no longer get nutritious meals, a tree for schools whose funds will be given to Charter schools, a tree for the land in Patagonia that has just been taken back by the government.  There is a tree for big game animals, whose future is uncertain.  There's another tree for immigrants hoping to escape horrendous environments now denied admission to this country.  There is a tree for the undocumented children who might be deported to countries they have never visited.  There is a tree for the forgotten of Puerto Rico, and a tree for the impending chaos that is about to happen in Jerusalem.  So many trees.  

Yes, it's all very jolly.  

At the end of the hall is #45's stocking.

It's full of coal.

Monday, December 4, 2017

The Dreaded Christmas Letter

My old boyfriend's (Brother Bill) Christmas card arrived a bit late--December 2, instead of the 1st.  His is always the very first Christmas card we get.  He is apparently having health problems that he didn't go into this year and I was sorry to hear that.

I take Bill's annual card as a challenge.  It is my personal challenge to get our Christmas letter written and e-mailed to him before I get his card.  This year I completely forgot about it and it took his card to remind me.

But I got my letter written (it is linked in the left column if you want to read it).  The venom over Christmas letters seems to have lessened a bit but each year you know there are going to be some who "hate...hate...hate" them. 

I can never figure out why someone would be upset at getting something that someone has spent time creating to share with friends and would prefer to get a card with a pre-printed name and no message whatsoever.  But to each his own.

I have been sending out Christmas letters ever since we got married (52 of them!)  In the beginning the preparation was much more elaborate because I took my paste up to a real printer and had them printed to mail out.  They always included a family picture or more

This was our family picture in 1969, Paul's first Christmas.
The printed cards started to get spendy, when you considered not only the price of the printer but also the rising cost of postage.  It was costing me nearly $200 just to send greetings that most people would glance at and then throw away.  I started xeroxing the letter to save money but the photos always looked liked...well, xeroxed photos.

Email was a godsend because I could reach a good number of our friends and email greetings without having to whittle the list down to an affordable postage list.  And then when Funny the World came along and I realized that I could design a web page and just send out the link to the site, I had found Nirvana.  I could do what I loved to do, I could design a prettier card and still reach all our friends, and now even acquaintances that I would like to greet during the holiday season

I probably go overboard on who is on our list, but I really love sharing the card. 

I heard a story this morning of someone who had regifted something that turned into kind of a nightmare.  I don't have any regifting stories of my own, but I do remember the Christmas that Walt's mother gave my mother the gift she had given her the previous year. I loved that we always had a blended family, from the first year of our marriage.  Walt's mother came to my parents' house for Christmas and forever more, until distance or health made that an impossibility, wherever we were having Christmas the two families always spent it together.  Now, of course, that there are other in-law families to consider it's different.  It helped that Walt's brother and sister didn't marry until late!

But the regifting story got me to thinking about memorable Christmas gifts I have received.  Not memorable in the "Oh Wow you got me a ....." story, but the strange gifting incidents.  Like the Christmas that I begged and begged my mother to let me open just one gift.  I was in grammar school and it was a gift a classmate had given me.  I don't know why this is such an indelible memory, but I even remember where I was sitting when I opened the gift and how disappointed I was because it was a piggy bank. I don't even know why I was disappointed but I guess I expected something more exciting.

Then there was the year I got the camera.  Something I dearly wanted.  In those days, department stores delivered your purchases for you and when this box came, my mother said it had my gift(s) in it.  She said there were something like five gifts in it and decided to just wrap the box it had been sent in.  I was thrilled to get a camera, but the multi gifts she was talking about were the various parts of the camera--the flash attachment, the bulbs, the batteries and don't remember what else.  That little Brownie box camera changed me into a photographer, but I always felt cheated that I didn't have four other gifts in the box.

Then there was the year that I got a big box from the family for whom I babysat.  The father was a big joker and from the time when I went with them on their vacation to Lake Tahoe, he gave me a hard time about not eating my vegetables.  I was so excited to open their gift, and then so terribly, terribly hurt that it was just full of limp vegetables.  I wasn't going to let them know that I wasn't a good sport, though, and called to thank them fort he vegetables.  "Did it take you a long time to find the present?" the father asked.  Turned out he had hidden a book of movie tickets in the tissue paper under the vegetables.  I might never have found them if I hadn't decided to be a good sport and thank him for the vegetables.

There was the year of the Mary Hartline doll, which I've spoken of before.  I wasn't into baby dolls any more and so desperately wanted one of those big fancy dolls that look like a young woman from Tara or somewhere.  I watched a show called Big Circus at that time and the hostess was Mary Hartline and I guess my mother thought that any non-baby doll would make me happy.  I knew when I saw her under the tree that I would never get the kind of doll I really wanted .. and I never did.

The final gift memory I have is from when I was in high school.  My mother was so excited about the gift she had given me and she teased me about it for weeks.  Then I was somewhere babysitting and watching television and the girl on the TV was wearing a faux fur bolo jacket kind of like this one:

I knew instantly that this was the gift I was getting...and it was (only in grey).  I never liked it but I never let my mother know and acted excited, but I think I only wore it twice.

I guess this makes me sound like an ungrateful kid.  I received a lot of wonderful gifts throughout my childhood and adulthood, but these stand out as some of the most "memorable" gifts I have ever opened.