Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Wow--What a Day!

And you thought yesterday was just Labor Day.

It was also: National Cherry Popover Day … Emma M. Nutt Day … National Gyros Day … Chicken Boy’s Day … Calendar Adjustment Day … Building and Code Staff Appreciation Day … Great Bathtub Race Day … International Day of Awareness for the Dolphins of Taiji … National No Rhyme (Nor Reason) Day … Save Japan’s Dolphins Day … Toy Tips Executive Toy Test Day … and the first day of International Enthusiasm Week … National Nutrition Week … National Payroll Week … National Waffle Week … Self-University Week … Burning Man Week … National Bourbon Heritage Month … National Organic Harvest Month … AND … National Piano Month.
(I'm wondering how National Nutrition Week jibes with National Waffle Week and National Bourbon Heritage Month!)

September 1 is the 244th day of the year in the Gregorian Calendar.  There are 121 days remaining until the end of the year, which means only 114 shopping days till Christmas.

On this day in 1799, the Bank of Manhattan Company opened in New York City, NY – the forerunner of Chase Manhattan.

On this day in 1810, the first plow with interchangeable parts was patented by John J. Wood.

On this day in 1859, the Pullman sleeping car was placed into service.

On this day in 1878, Emma M. Nutt became the first female telephone operator in the US, working for the Telephone Dispatch Company of Boston. (is that where "I'd have to be nuts to work at a job like that" came from?)

On this day in 1887, Emile Berliner filed for a patent for his invention of the lateral-cut, flat-disk gramophone – AKA the record player.

On this day in 1905, Saskatchewan and Alberta became the ninth and tenth provinces of Canada.

On this day in 1970, the last episode of I Dream of Jeannie aired on NBC-TV.

On this day in 1979, the U.S. Pioneer 11 became the first spacecraft to visit Saturn.

On this day in 1985, a joint U. S.-French expedition located the wreck of the Titanic 560 miles off the coast of Newfoundland.

On this day in 1995, the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame opened in Cleveland Ohio.

On this day in 1997, the Jerry Lewis MDA Telethon raised $50,475,055 — a record — to support Muscular Dystrophy Association research and services.  (I never could watch that show...I know there was a good cause, but it always seemed like Lewis was exploiting the kids and the whole thing creeped me out)

On this day in 1998, the movie “Titanic” went on sale across North America.


James “Gentleman Jim” Corbett, Edgar Rice Burroughs, Richard Farnsworth, Rocky Marciano, George Maharis, Boxcar Willie, Conway Twitty, Lily Tomlin, Barry Gibb, Billy Blanks, Gloria Estefan, Kenny Mayne, Hardy Nickerson, Padma Lakshmi, Jhonen Vasquez, and Zendaya (Zendaya!  Whatever happened to him!), among many others, share this birthday, including Yvonne DeCarlo who went on to "star" with our friend Matt Buckner in Gypsy in an amphitheater in Oakland.

Hope everyone had a great holiday.  Now can we go back to delivering the mail, please?

Monday, September 1, 2014

Sunday Stealing

What kind of blog do you have?
That's a difficult question to answer...or rather it's a lengthy answer.  There is Funny the World, which is hosted by Yahoo and then Airy Persiflage, a mirror blog for people who want to subscribe.  Both are just my daily journal, my life, comments on current events, and whatever is in my mind that day (including Sunday Stealing). Then there is Bitter Hack, which is where I post my theater reviews after they have appeared in the newspaper.  There is also My Compassion Kids, where I print letters I have received from the children I sponsor through Compassion, Int'l.  And I also have Journey Through Dementia, which records the ups and downs of my mother's dementia.  That's mostly excerpts from Funny the World, for family who don't want to read my journal but who want to know what's going on with my mother. I have had others through the years, like one for my 70th year, one when I was writing a haiku a day, a letter blog when I was recording everything I sent and received, and a bunch of others, but those five are the current active ones.

How many posts do you have?
Funny the World has been written almost daily since March of 2000 and this entry will be #5,270

How many blogs do you follow?

It depends.  I have a lot on Feedly that I check almost daily, and some that don't have a feed that I check when I remember to do so.  Probably several dozen that I check on a regular basis, more that I check intermittently. On Sunday, I try to check as many entries there as I can.

How many followers do you have?

Something like 35 on Blogspot and 300-400 on Funny the World, but I almost never check stats.  It could be much lower (or much higher) than that now.  Funny the World tends to go a lot higher when I am blogging a cruise and it went through the roof when I was blogging my dieting and exercise efforts.

How often do you change your theme?

I don't really have a "theme" per se.

How often do you change your icon?
I change the look of Funny the World on the first of every month, meaning there is a new background and a new masthead.  Once I design something on Blogger, I don't change it. 

Do you have any favorite blogs?

Several.  I have been following Fighting Monsters with Rubber Swords, Rob Rummel-Hudson's story of his life with his now-13 year old wordless daughter, ever since his wife was pregnant with her. I've been reading Mary's Red Nose for years and we even met once. I love my friend Sian's Life on a Small Island, though I don't seem to be part of her blog roll. Mary's Z's World is very short, but it's nice to keep up with her life. Kari Peterson is a friend here in Davis and writes a great blogCan I Drink the Water? is a wonderful travel blog, but she only writes when she and her husband are traveling, so often there is nothing for long stretches of time, but her photos and descriptions are fabulous. 100+ year old Bill Baker, who lives in California and his friend Wilma, from Canada, are having difficulties finding a good new blogging platform, but when they publish, the blog is always full of fun anectdotes. And Because of Shamin is my now-favorite blog for things pertaining to sponsored children through Compassion, Int'l

Do you ever send anonymous messages to other people?

Never.  Anonymous posters (usually dive-bombers who are there to make trouble) are cowards.  Some anonymous posters are OK.

Do you ever get anon hate?

Rarely, and then only on something I've said in a theater review.

Have you made any friends through your blog?

Oh my word yes.  My friend Steve Schalchlin's Living in the Bonus Round is, historically, the fifth journal ever published on the internet.  It was because of him that I started my own journal and his friendship made me realize how rich internet friendships could be.  I am fortunate that I have made too many friends to count as a result of this blog.  Some have stuck around and remained friends, some have faded away, and some have died (I still miss Jim Lawrence of Jim's Journal, who died last year and who also was a blogging pioneer), but my internet blogging friendships are very valuable to me.

What’s your favorite thing about blogging?

I love the discipline of it.  I started this journal to see if I could produce an 850 word column on a daily basis, like my heroine, Erma Bombeck.  I discovered I'm no Erma, but since I blog daily, unless I can't get internet access, I think have have proven that I can write a daily column, if anybody ever wants to hire me!!  I think my writing has improved over the years, and I really do love borrowing small pieces of others' lives, through their own blogs.

What’s your least favorite thing about blogging?

The nights when I sit down to a blank screen an writers block.  It's always nice when those nights fall on nights when there is a Sunday Stealing to answer!

Day 63:  Laurel posted this to Facebook.  It makes me smile every time I look at it.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Bob at 77

We were standing at the dessert buffet table when my cousin Ken turned to me and said, "I'll bet she could still beat me at Pinochle.   That woman is as sharp as she ever was..."  
I wonder what he would have said if he had been me earlier in the day.

I didn't go to Atria yesterday, but the day before we talked about going to Bob's birthday party this afternoon.  I reminded her that it was written on her calendar.  This morning, I called to remind her that we were going to the party.  To my delight, she remembered and said she'd be ready to go at 3 when I said we would pick her up.
At 2:45, I called to let her know we were getting ready to leave and would meet her out in front of Atria.

"Oh?" she asked.  "Where are we going?"  I told her that we were going to Bob's party.  "WHO?" she said.  I said that it was Bob's birthday party and that I had talked with Peach and we were supposed to be there at 4. "Are they here?" she asked.   I assured her that they were in Roseville and that we needed to leave in 15 minutes.  "Well, I'll have to  change my clothes," she said "I didn't know anything about this."  She asked several times in the car where we were going and what we were going to do there.

Sigh.  No, Ken--she will not beat you at Pinochle, and no, she is not as sharp as she ever was.

That aside, however, it really was a lovely afternoon and, as usual my mother covered beautifully and I don't think anybody got much of a hint at how she recognized almost nobody and had to be reminded of what all those people were there for.  She was thrilled to see Peach again, of course, though she couldn't get over her curly hair and couldn't remember it ever being white.  She told me several times that she just didn't recognize her.

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But she got to see several other people in the family, like my 2nd cousin, Donna (Niecie's sister), Ken, and Peach's sister Mandy, whom we almost never see.

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As for the birthday boy, Peach intended this to be a surprise and he was overwhelmed when he saw the crowd

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We spent a lot of time indoors in the air conditioning since it was in the mid 90s outside, but later when it began to cool off we went to the dinner buffet arranged by Peach's son Mike and his wife Stacey--a fabulous spread!  Then after dinner, they set up chairs so Bob and Peach could have their picture taken with everyone who was there, in groups of 1 or 2 (someone else took the picture with Walt and me in it, so I don't have that one)

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and at the end of the guest pictures, pictures with the reason they had come out here, their new great grandchild, Everly (not Beverly).   There was a Grandparent picture and a 4 generations picture (the guy in the red shirt is my godson, Peach's son).  And yes, she is the most beautiful baby in the world...under the age of 2.

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So a great time was had by all, and as the sun started setting, we told everyone goodbye and I took my traditional picture of Peach with Kathy's husband, Fred, the long and the short of it.  (Once again, as I frequently do, I wished Kathy were there with us.)

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My mother mentioned many times on the way home that it had been a "busy day" and I certainly hope she was able to get to sleep tonight. At least for one day she had something "exciting" to do and couldn't tell me nothing exciting ever happens in her life.

But I don't think I'll plan any games of pinochle with her in the foreseeable future.  We are hoping Peach and Bob will make it to Davis for a day, but that is looking less and less likely.

Day 62:  Our wonderful, wonderful reunion!

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Neither Rain, nor Snow, ...etc

You know, we think of the mail as just something that "is."  It arrives in our mailbox every day and we don't really think much about how it got there.  And I guess we assume that everybody pretty much gets their mail the same way.  We used to know our mailman, but it seems that it now changes so often, I don't make an effort to know who it is any more.

Today in a Swap Bot discussion someone mentioned that her mailman had tried to deliver a small parcel and when the woman wasn't home, he left a note that she could pick it up at the post office.
But then he saw me walking in town... so he turned his bike, got some speed to catch me and gave me the package so I didn't have to pick it up myself tomorrow..
Everyone agreed this was a special mailman, but many were confused about delivery on a bike.  I assumed this was a small village.  But it turns out it has a population of 90,000 (bigger than Davis).

I don't get it... what is so odd about a mail man on a bike? asked the woman who posted the first message.  I checked her profile and discovered she was from Belgium.
All mail mans do their work by bike. Only very large packages that won't fit on the bike are being delivered with a small postal truck.
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Looking at that photo, I wonder how many trips they make back to the post office to refill their boxes. Then she asked how we got OUR mail.  I guess it never occurred to me that mail was delivered in many different ways. I just never thought about it. Someone from Berlin uploaded pictures of the mail bikes in Berlin.

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Someone else wrote that in Mexico they use either bikes or motorbikes.  Someone from Latvia wrote, "our mailman has a small car not truck, and they stop, get out, deliver, drive a bit... I think I have seen them sometimes doing it together (maybe a relative helping or so), so one is at wheel and other runs out to deliver. Our mailman comes from a town 8 km away and no nice biking road between those towns."

Another woman wrote "I live in the rural area in TN and mail people use their own vehicles, and stop at my mailbox out front by the road, if it is a package he always brings it to the door, he is pretty awesome, leaves a bag of goldfish crackers for my grandson every once in awhile."

When I was growing up, the mail was sorted at the main post office and put into boxes to be delivered to big metal boxes around the city.  They looked like mail boxes, but had no slot for inserting mail.  The mailman then loaded his bag with his first load of mail at the post office and took public transportation to where he started his route.  He walked the route and when he finished the first batch, he was at one of those collection boxes where he picked up the next batch and walked some more.   He did it once a day, and twice or three times a day during Christmas time.

mailtruck.jpg (9973 bytes)Now all the mail for the mailman's route goes onto a small truck. The mailman parks the truck about a block from our house.  He then gets out and walks the route, down one side of the street, around the two cul de sacs and back up the other side of the street and back into the truck again to move to his next parking spot. (We have occasionally had a female mail carrier, but most of the time it's a man.)

When I did a search for this picture, I found lots of other US mail truck designs, some smaller, some larger.  Some are designed so that the mail can be delivered without the driver leaving the truck--these are for communities that have mail boxes right on the street.  The mailman has to walk up our driveway to the front door of our house in order to deliver our mail.  It never occurred to me how far he has to walk besides the streets that he walks, because almost everyone on this block (and probably all of his blocks) have long driveways.

Someone else wrote, "The postal service is pushing to have communal mailbox areas at the front of a neighborhood (that is already often the case in apartment complexes). It would be more efficient for them but I love having my mail delivered right to my house."  Me too, though I have not heard that discussed for here.  Seems strange that it's not, since this is the "city of bicycles" and with a terrain so flat it would be a simple thing.  

This whole thing got me curious about various methods of mail delivery.  If you have a different kind of service that seems normal for you, I'd love it if you'd share here.

Day 61:  A nice way to start the day, with a beautiful sunrise

Friday, August 29, 2014

Today at Lunch and at Logos

It's a good thing that lunch was so much fun, because today at Logos was dull...dull...dull!  Sandy had a busy morning, I did not (which was good because my book was gripping).  

However, lunch was great fun.  It started out to be the normal day with my mother.  I dropped off her clean, folded laundry and made a point of letting her know it was HER laundry and that I would return to pick up my laundry basket tomorrow (this ploy seems to have stopped her not recognizing her clothes).

We went to the dining room early because I had to go to work and you never know how fast or slow service was going to be.  We sat at the usual table and pretty soon Margaret came to join us.  The three of us had ordered when Leighton arrived (I don't know if that is his first name or last name...Peg, maybe you do)

I don't know how he started talking about barn-storming planes. I mentioned that my mother's sister had been one of those barn-storming pilots and was, in fact (or at least in family lore) the first women to get a pilot's license.   Leighton was interested and asked her about it.  My god, she joined in the conversation!  He asked her if Mel (her sister) had given her a ride in the plane and she said that she had and talked about the experience...a new story for me!!!  I had never heard that!

Someone came to the table and asked Leighton where he was going to be reading this afternoon.  I asked him about that and it turns out he writes short stories and reads them once a week for whoever wants to listen.  We talked about writing, a lot.  He started writing when he retired from his veterinary surgery practice.  He told us the story about a boy who wanted to meet an elephant (a story he has written for his grandchildren).  I just had the best time listening to him and sharing stories about publishing. 

Then it was time to get ready for Logos.  When I arrived, Sandy said she'd had a busy morning and had filled over half of the spaces on the first side of the log where we record the sales.  At the end of the day, I had recorded a grand total of seven sales (and two of them were to myself; I bought one book on botanical footware for my mother's birthday -- she loves shoes and she loves flowers and I thought she might enjoy looking at the book (I can always take it back when she's tired of it) and I later found a book with nice dog pictures in it so bought that too.)

Almost immediately, two young women entered the store, each wearing glittery shoes.  They each had broad smiles and bought 2 contemporary fiction books.

An old guy came in to ask about donating books.  He is originally from Palo Alto and he and his wife moved here 10 years ago because they realized that their grandchildren were "growing up without them" and they wanted to be able to spend more time with them (I understand the feeling...but he didn't have a mother in a facility in Palo Alto).  He told me a bit about his grandchildren and then said, with a sigh, "communication is so different these days."  He said he'd tried a cell phone, but that it was not for him.

There was a long period where the store was empty, during which time this little guy stood at the front door looking in for about 10 minutes.

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I didn't see anybody with him, but eventually a girl about 10 came alng and he walked away with her.
A guy who reminded me of Chandler Bing (Friends) bought a book of short stories, a young Latino man with a very bad limp came in to buy four bargain books from outside and then She walked in.

This young woman came up to the desk and asked, hesitantly, "Do you have a book named 'Outlander.'"  I just laughed.  I told her I seriously doubted it, given the popularity of the series and the TV show right now and then we just started talking about the Gabaldon books.  She LOVES the TV series, she LOVES the actors cast in the principal roles, she hasn't read the 8th book in the series yet, but plans to do so.  It was so nice to find a Gabaldon fan in the store.  First one I've encountered, I think!

But after she left it was 4:22 and 2 guys walked in and walked out again quickly.  Another guy in business attire came in and didn't buy anything.  Two girls wearing UCD shirts came in and left without making a purchase.
Another business man type came in and bought an art book (table top type).

"My friend" didn't show up by 5 p.m. either.   I'm wondering if he has found greener pastures, since a local music shop has opened up a used book section.

The last person to come into the store before Susan came to relieve me was a guy who wasn't interested in buying a book, but in making a donation to Doctors Without Borders.  I told him we weren't a 501c3 location so couldn't take his donation (at least not giving him tax credit).

And then Susan was arriving and relieving me and my stint was over.  Definitely not my most interesting day there (though the chat with the gal about "Outlander" was pretty fun!)

Walt asked me who I plan to have lunch with tomorrow and was surprised when I told him I would be home having lunch with him.

Day 60:  I got my very first letter from Brianna!

Thursday, August 28, 2014

I Miss the Smell of Tomatoes in the Morning

We moved to Davis in 1973.  It was not a decision we were happy about.  Walt was working for a division of the Department of Agriculture, which had its office in Berkeley.  When the old boss retired and a good ol' boy from Texas came in to take charge, he looked at all those hippies around Berkeley and set in motion moving the whole office up here to Davis.

It was, all things considered, a logical decision, since much of the work entailed working with offices in Sacramento.  It involved big decisions for the employees, though.  Most (some 50 families) chose to move; at least one guy found employment elsewhere so he could remain in the Bay Area.

I had passed by Davis many times, on my way to go to Peach's house in Citrus Heights, on the far side of Sacramento.  All I knew of it was a sign for the offramp.  I had never entered the town before.  I still remember the first time we came to look around and I kept trying to find "downtown," which I was smack dab in the middle of at the time. 

A big town this is not...and it was much smaller then.   We now have "skyscrapers."  A whole 3 stories tall. Several buildings.  There is one corner, where Walt's office is now, which I call "Wall Street" because there are 3-story buildings on each corner.

Our friend Michele had graduated from UC Davis and was excited that we were going to be living here because she had such pleasant memories of her time here.

At that time there was a big Campbell's Soup plant in Davis, not too far from our house.  The agricultural land which surrounded Davis was heavily planted in tomato crops.  I think it would have been impossible to starve to death in Davis in the summer because the huge tomato trucks, carrying their loads to the plant invariably knocked lots of tomatoes to the ground when they made turns.  If people were really lucky, a truck would tip over and most of its contents would spill out on the ground, ready for the gleaners.

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But the thing I learned our very first weeks in Davis was that the smell of cooking tomatoes filled the air every day for most of the summer.  The plant processed tomatoes into tomato paste.

Every time I got up and smelled cooking tomato aroma wafting our way from the Campbell's cannery I would be taken back to my childhood and the times my mother would make cream of tomato soup, using Campbell's tomato soup and milk and then serve it with a sice of balloon bread thickly lathered with real butter.  We would dip the tips of the bread into the cream of tomato soup. I loved  that taste.

After we'd been here a month, I wrote to ask Michele how long the smell of cooking tomatoes lasted.  I don't remember if she ever gave me an answer, but I came to love the smell of cooking tomatoes and when the plant closed and moved operations to nearby Dixon, I found I missed it.

The plant stood empty for many years but they have recently been given the OK to develop "The Cannery," which will build more than 500 homes on the land.  There has been activity behind the bushes that separated the cannery from the road for months now but last night I noticed that all the greenery has been cleared away and now there is a fence and all the buildings have been cleared away in preparation for laying out the new housing development.

The population of the city will increase significantly and I'm sure the homes will be beautiful, but for me, I like the small town feel, and I still miss the smell of tomatoes in the morning.

Day 59:  First day of School!

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Plot Spoiler

On the off chance that you plan to see a play by a Canadian playwright named Norm Foster about four ladies playing golf, you might want to skip the last part of this entry, because I'm going to talk about the play and reveal secrets.   It's called "The Ladies Foursome."  Unless you live in Sacramento (where the play is making its American debut this week), I think the possibility of coming across this play soon is slim, but I didn't want to be accused of spoiling anything for anyone.

But my day started long before the play.

Today was Jeri and Phil's last day here.  As I write this, they are in the air winging their way back to Boston.  It's always a bittersweet time when they leave, but this time not so much bitter, as we will be visiting them soon...and I'll get the chance to meet a couple of internet friends as well, so I'm excited about our upcoming trip to Boston.

We didn't see all that much of them today, actually.   After breakfast, they had errands to run.  They took Sheila and Lizzie for a long walk.  They took the borrowed cello back to the guy who loaned it and then went for one final visit with my mother.  Yesterday, while I had the car on the other side of the state having lunch with the Pinata ladies, they, along with Ned, packed a picnic lunch and had it with my mother in her apartment.

Today when they got to Atria she was already eating lunch, so they waited around and then had ice cream and a visit with her.  Tomorrow I'll go over to bring her her pills for next week and pick up her laundry.  She certainly has had a busy week...and on Thursday Peach and her husband fly in for a week.  We won't see a lot of them, but will see them a couple of times, at least.  I know my mother has been looking forward to that, as have I.

While Jeri and Phil were gone, I got snips of Emmy commentary from The Today Show, which I had recorded, turning off the TV when I heard them coming in the house.  I also watched the latest Top Chef and a couple of regular programs that had recorded during the week.  I think that other than one Jeopardy broadcst, I managed not to subject them to any TV while here. Quite an accomplishment for someone who almost never turns off the set.
Their plane left late and under normal circumstances, we would have driven them to the airport, but I had the play to review, so they went to Bay Area by train, having the opportunity to have dinner with their friend Greg, whom they had not had a chance to see while here, since he was working in San Francisco.

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As for us, there was no time for dinner, so we just headed off to Sacramento.  As we came to I-80 and saw how backed up the traffic was, we were sure we would not make it to the theater in time for the curtain (6:30), but Walt took back roads through town and around the freeway and we got there with a good 5+ minutes to spare.

The show is a very funny comedy, but with moments of poignancy and I found it compelling because of our lunch yesterday.  These are three women who have been playing golf together every week for 14 years.  They are there following the funeral of their friend who made the fourth in the group.  She was killed by lightning and in her place a friend of hers whom none of the other three know is joining the group for this last game.

The one-liners fly fast and furious as the women discuss life, love, men, sex, careers and everything but golf.  Surprises, secrets and confessions come to the surface, anger builds, explodes and dissipates during the game.  The big "reveal" was something I figured out early in Act 1 -- their dead friend was really lesbian, only I thought the woman joining the game had been her lover, and she had not, but she had met the woman's partner over the 12 years they came once a year to stay at the lodge she runs.

But these "best friends" begin to discover that though they have been close for so many years, "everybody has secrets" and they really know little about their friends' deepest darkest secrets, their turmoil and their troubles.

It made me think about our lunch group yesterday and how we have all been such good friends for more than 50 years and have shared births, deaths, and some of life's traumas, but not all.  For example, one in our group has been dealing with a relative's impending death from cancer, and had kept it a secret until yesterday. As close as we feel to each other, how much do we really know about each other, when we really only see each other 2 or 3 times a year (of course Char and I have a better chance, since we travel together).

The ladies of the Foursome left the stage with a slightly better understanding of each other's hidden truths, and a determination to make a better attempt at really being best friends from there on.

I think we left the lunch determined to keep these gatherings going in the hope that by seeing each other more often we can become closer because, as we are all in our 70s, we don't have that many more years left and as we deal with the indignities and tragedies of life, we will need our friends more than ever before.

Day 58:  The last photo with Grandma for this trip