Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Enrique

Several people recommended the book, "Enrique's Journey" to me as a way to put a human face on the immigration crisis.  I finished it this weekend.  This is the review I posted to my "Books Read in 2014" page

Enrique.jpg (12236 bytes)This is a book based on a Pulitzer Prize winning series of articles, first appearing in the Los Angeles Times.  It was recommended to me by many people as a story that would put a human face on the immigration crisis that has taken center stage in our newspapers and television news these days.  The author experienced many things that her hero, Enrique (no last names are given to any living person to protect them from possible capture by immigration authorities) experienced so that she could truly relate his story. He made nine attempts to travel from Honduras to the United Statets to find the mother who left him and his sister when he was five years old. She was unable to feed her children and she left to seek a better life in the U.S. so she could send money home so they could have food, clothes and a chance for an education.   This is a heartbreaking story of a young boy's search for love and acceptance.

During the first part of the book, I wanted to give it to every person standing with a sign shouting hateful things at buses full of frightened children.  To have them read the conditions in their home entails and realize how desperate you have to be to even attempt it.  Physical violence and rape are just one aspect of it.  Children lose body parts in accidents with moving trains, there is travel across the desert with no food or water, hunted like dogs,...etc., etc. 

Enrique was caught and sent back to Honduras eight times.   On his ninth try, he finally made it and actually found his mother in South Carolina, but this is not a "happily ever after" story.  The difficulties children and parents face after a separation of years is incredible.  The second half of the book talks about that, about statistics, about the new life in a new country and I have to admit that my head was spinning before I finished it.  I no longer knew whether this migration was a good thing or a bad thing.  

You look at the face of Enrique at his kindergarten graduation, wanting only for his mother to be there.  And then you watch what he goes through in the intervening years.  The end of the book is ambiguous.  We know where Enrique is, but we don't know where he will be after that.

The one thing this book did for me was to make me want to sponsor a child in Honduras through Compassion.  

I found Brayan, 12 years old (the age Enrique was when he decided he would save money so he could find his mother), living with his grandmother (like Enrique's sister did after their mother left) and I figured I can't make conditions better on any grand scale, but maybe I can help one child have a better, safer life. 

I highly recommend reading this book.  It's not a feel good book and I doubt that anybody will find any black and white solution in it, but it definitely puts a new level of understanding on what is happening on our borders right now, and should make anyone hurling epithets at immigrant children feel ashamed of themselves (but I doubt if it will).


In a bit of serandipity, Jon Stewart's guest on tonight's The Daily Show is the woman who wrote "Enrique's Journey."

Day 29:  Happiness is a new boy (Brayden from Honduras) in our family.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Sunday Stealing

ABCs of Me
These types of memes generally have me answering the same thing I have answered over and over again.  I'm going to try to shake it up this time!

A If you were an ANIMAL, what would you be?
If I weren't going to be an elephant, I would want to be my mother's dog, when she had one.  Now there was a pampered pooch.

B BOOKS: What's on your reading list?

At the moment "Enrique's Journey," which I am finishing and in the car, "Drop Shot" (Harlen Coban).  As for what's coming up next, there are way too many to list.

C COMPULSIVE about anything?

Writing this journal every day.

D DREAMS - Do you ... dream in color? remember your dreams? keep a dream journal?

I don't dream very often, but when I do I dream in color and sometimes remember them clearly, but usually not.  No, I don't keep a dream journal.

E EATING - what's your usual snack?

Lately it's ingenious ways to use flour tortillas.  Or those little "cuties" (mandarin oranges)

F A Few of your FAVORITE Things:

Sleep (something I am rediscovering lately!), peanut butter, cool breezes, puppy breath, back scratchers, "just the right pen" (I am always looking for that elusive thing), my Kindle

G GIGGLES! What (or who) makes you laugh? Do you have a good sense of humor?

The dog, the granddaughters (not always necessarily in that order), and The Big Bang Theory. I have a great sense of humor.

H major HOT Button:

Injustice.  Right now the children fleeing Central America, the gays in Uganda who are being hunted down and killed, either the Jews or the Palestinians, depending on the day and who is getting the worst that day, inhumane treatment of animals, etc., etc.

I I am    Compassionate, I hope.  
J J is just a letter you left off of this list!

K Also KNOWN As... Aliases? Screen names? A nom de plume perhaps?

No nom de plumes.  Just Bev, Mom, and Grandma and, lacking originality, basykes for a screen name.  But those are enough.   Many decades ago, a priest used to call me BeaverLake because that was the translation of my name.

L I LOVE ...

My family, my friends, dogs, elephants, books, TV

M How do you feel about MEETING people? Do it all the time? Rarely? Parties or 1-on-1?

I am not good with meeting new people and getting worse about it the older I get.  But definitely 1-on-1, not parties!  I do enjoy meeting on-line friends.

N What's the story of your NAME? were you named after anyone? Do you go by a nickname? Any aliases?

They were going to name me "Barbara" after my aunt, but then decided it would be confusing to have two Barbaras in the family, so they gave me her middle name, "Beverly."  Oddly enough, whenever someone can't remember my name, they call me "Barbara."

O OBSERVANT - What's around you right now? What do you see?

Chaos.  A desk piled high with unanswered mail, gifts for Compassion kids, my calendar, books, stationery supplies, TV remote, camera, a glass of water,a cookbook, a set of drawers filled with stamps, glue sticks, junk, and I don't even know what's in the bottom drawer because I can't get to it.  There are also boxes that hold research books, ruler, journals for SwapBot, and several boxes with Washi tape. 
And that's just the left side of my desk.  I haven't even begun to cover the right side, the walls, the rest of the room.

P Who are the special PEOPLE in your life?

The family -- all the blood relatives and in-laws, the Pinata family, The Last Session family, Compuserve's Section 16 women, close friends like Ron and the Section 17 people (you all know who you are), our wonderful Lamplighters friends, people from the DCOC family (probably our closest friends in Davis, even though we rarely see them), people we have known longest in Davis like Bob Bowen, Derrick Bang, Steve & Jan Isaacson, the BBB women, and any of the Lawsuit parents, the wonderful poet Claire Amy Atkins, and yes, even the two friends who have removed me from their lives, Peggy and Melody.  (this list is longer than I realized it would be; how fortunate I am!)

Q Any Little QUIRKs About Yourself:

The pinky finger on my right hand has been numb for many years, I can wiggle my ears, I am all but blind in one eye

R What do you like to do for RECREATION?

Very boring.  Read, watch TV, write letters.  That's about it.

S Do You SING in the Shower? In the car? For your friends?

Nope.  There was a time when I sang choruses in public, but as I have gotten older, my vocal range has become quite limited and my voice more raspy and I am aware that I can no longer sing.

T What's at the Top of your TO DO list?:

Bring some order to the chaos of my office. But don't hold your breath.  There is a book to be read first...

U Any UNUSUAL Experiences:

Baking pumpkin pies to toss either at Charlotte, by Charlotte, or for our kids to throw at each other. Actually pretty much most of my unusual experiences have been with Charlotte.

V VEGAS, Vienna, Venice, Vladivostok... How far have you traveled? What's your favorite City?

Been to Vienna (loved it), been to Vegas (hated it).  The farthest I've traveled in one trip was probably to Perth, Australia, 9,202 miles.  Favorite city...San Francisco, and then London.

W WINTER, Spring, Summer, Fall... What's your favorite season? What makes it special?

Fall because the trees are beautiful and the next season is Winter.  I love Spring for the blossoms, but it's followed by Summer, my least favorite season.

X EXes - Things You Don't Do Anymore (but did, once (would you, again?))

I don't transcribe tapes any more (and no, I would not do it again).  I don't decorate cakes any more (and again no...I don't have the strength in my hands any more). I don't foster dogs any more and I won't say yes or no on the future, but for right now it's very nice having 3 dogs with a set routine.

Y Any secret/deep YEARNINGS?

Well, it's no secret that I always wanted to travel to somewhere in Africa, but that isn't going to happen.  I'm too old and it's too expensive.

Z ZERO to ZENITH - Where are you in your life? Still growing? On an upward (or downward) curve? Just skating along?

At 71, I'm on the back side of the curve, but with a mother who is about to turn 95, I suspect it may be a very long downward curve (though also if my mother is to be an example, I won't remember a lot of the steeper parts of the slope).

Sunday, July 27, 2014

The Magical Memory Box

Tonight we invited my mother to come to dinner so she could have corn on the cob, which is one of her favorite things (they don't serve corn on the cob in an old folks home. That would just be cruel...but she has all her own teeth, so she can eat corn perfectly.  In fact, her father had no teeth and he could clean corn off a cob better than those of us with teeth could!  But I digress.)

It was like planning a play date.  I had the food planned, the table set, the flowers in place, and even the activities arranged.

When we moved her out of her house, one of the things that ended up here was a big wooden box which I had never seen before.  It contained memorabilia of her graduation from Galt High in 1937.  The last time she was here, on Mother's Day, she and Ned looked through the box, but I knew she would not have remembered it, so I planned to show it to her again tonight.

I was right.  She didn't remember ever seeing it before, and she was delighted to see it now.

MagicBox.jpg (54012 bytes)

There were her varsity letters (she was apparently a good athlete), her diploma, a bunch of photos of friends (including one guy who looked like Jack Lescoulie.  His name was Foster and apparently he had been one of her boyfriends...this was news to me).

There was also a filled autograph book.  I swear every student in the school signed a page, with such timeless prose as Roses are red, Violets are Blue, Sugar is sweet and so are you and When you get married and your old man gets cross, come over here and eat applesauce and Some love the tulips that grow in the park but I like the two lips that meet in the dark.  

autographbk.jpg (69969 bytes)

She read every single one, rolling her eyes at how corny they were and would say, scornfully, "Wasn't that clever?"

BetsPrintSm.jpg (46276 bytes)But on one page was a real find.  This drawing was done by my aunt Betsy, who was, in her adult life, a professional artist...but this was 1937 and she was just two years older than my mother, so was probably 20.  But already I can see the style that she would adopt later.
Betsy is the reason my parents married.  She was working as a caricaturist at the Golden Gate International Exhibit on Treasure Island in 1939.  It was a World's Fair, a celebration of the two newly completed bridges in San Francisco.   Somehow at the fair she met my father and later insisted my mother needed to meet him.  The rest, as they say, is history.

But she signed the autograph book, as did my aunt Barb, 4 years younger than my mother.

She read every single entry, alternately laughing about them, or being exasperated because they all seemed so childish.

And when she finished reading them, she read them all over again, as if she was seeing them for the first time.
But it was perfect.  Gave me time to cook the lamb chops and the corn and she was amazed when I gave her a demonstration of the new-to-me method of shucking the corn cleanly and easily.

After dinner I gave her an ice cream cone and when she finished that she was pleased that I asked if she wanted to go home--because she did.  Walt had taken her clean laundry over when he picked her up earlier, but though we mentioned it several times, she never did seem to remember that there is clean laundry in her apartment.  I hope the clothes don't end up back at the front desk again.  I also gave her her pill container for next week.  She put it in her purse and I know she isn't going to remember it's there, but I decided to wait until tomorrow and then call her and remind her where the pills are, so she can take them.

It was really a delightful evening and I'm thinking maybe we should plan dinners like this maybe once a month -- more often would be too often for her, I think.

I wonder how many more times I can show her the Magical Memory Box and have it be a new and wondrous thing!

 
Day 27:  Happiness is watching my mother devour an ear of corn

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Emily Post's Worst Nightmare

My new transcriptionist t-shirt no longer smells of tortilla.  I took it out of the dryer and it just smelled like...well...like a t-shirt.

Now it smells like banana.

We have some bananas getting ripe, so I made a desserty thing which included mashed banana rolled into a flour tortilla (because I love four tortillas).  When I got to the couch to go to sleep, still wearing the t-shirt (because I sleep in t-shirt and shorts), my hand brushed up against the shirt, and encountered something gooey.  Banana.  I spilled banana down the front of me and didn't even notice.

When I got up to change my shirt I noticed I had also spilled something on my shorts while cooking dinner, so I had to change them too.

For the moment, my clothes are clean.  But it is only a few hours until breakfast.

I cannot believe how sloppy I am with food.  None of those shaky old people at Atria can hold a candle to me when it comes to spillage.   If I'm not spilling things down my front, I'm knocking things over (as I did my mother's water glass today)

The dogs love me as much as dogs do whenever there is a toddler in the house who eats from a high chair.  Sheila and Lizzie stand next to me, with that pathetic "please share your food with me" look in their eyes, but Polly is the smart one.  She sits under the table, by my knees, certain that sooner or later something is going to drop off my fork onto my shirt, and roll its way down to the floor.

It's why I have dogs.  To keep the floor clean of all the stuff I spill on it.

Whenever we go somewhere that serves food on real plates and puts your silverware on cloth napkins, I really try to keep my napkin in my lap to catch the food I will inevitably drop, but my lap is so small, with that big protuberance of a belly resting on it, that 9 times out of 10 by the time I actually have dropped food onto my lap, my napkin is already on the floor, having lost the battle for possession of what lap there is to the belly.

Lunches at Atria almost aways include soup (because their soups are so good) and I almost always wear samples of the soup home with me.  I sometimes crumble crackers into the soup and bits escape, bouncing off the gable to leave samples dotting the black sweat pants I usually wear.

Meals like the Gilbert dinner we had the other night are wonderful because we were at a crab place and so they make a big display of giving you those godawful bibs to wear...but everyone is wearing them, so there is nothing to be embarrassed about and I generally come away from a dinner like that pretty much unscathed...unless, of course, I have made the mistake of having a dessert.  Creme brulee is my favorite dessert because it is pretty much solid with little to fall off onto my chest or into my lap.  Or both.

I don't know how long I've been such a disgraceful eater, but I do remember when I was in Australila, in 2003, Peggy telling me she could teach me not to spill food so much.  Her idea was that I sit closer to the table, with my mouth closer to the bowl or plate.  That would have worked well, but with my luck I'd end up dunking my chin into my meal and have to worry about food spillage on my face instead of my clothes.

I always wanted to envision myself as a sort of elegant lady who could eat at any table and be gracious and ... tidy.  But really, it's best to just send me out into the barn and slop me like the pigs because we'll probaby all look the same when the meal is finished.


I went to Atria for lunch today...a fairly solid meal with nothing much to spill, so I didn't embarrass myself ... and during the course of the meal I was telling my mother about finally learning how to shuck corn cleanly off the cob (a technique she had not heard of either).  She kind of moaned and said she hadn't had corn on the cob in forever.  So she's going to come to dinner tomorrow night and we'll have corn on the cob and lamb chops, which she also loves and which she doesn't get at Atria.

I thought about watching a movie too, but I don't want to push it.  I think a meal will be all that she can handle, but I'm thrilled that she wants to actually leave the building and come here for dinner.  This is the lady who was known to have eaten 8 cobs of corn at one sitting when she was a teenager.  That was when she acquired her nickname of "Chubby," which has followed her her entire life.

Day 26:  Happiness is my weekly lunch with my mother

Friday, July 25, 2014

Today at Logos

Walt says he loves Thursdays because he knows that on Friday he can read "Today at Logos," which are his favorite entries, so here is another one, trying to make a more or less boring day interesting for Walt!

There was a guy sitting at the front table when I came in.   His eyes brightened and he greeted me like he'd been waiting for me.  I didn't recognize him.  Susan was toward the back of the store and a guy, who I thought was the same guy from the front table was talking with her in French.  I was embarrassed ...again... about the language.  I understood most of what they were saying, but didn't have the nerve to actually open my mouth and say anything in French to him.  

The Frenchman left and Susan told me it was author Max Byrd, who is on the faculty at UC Davis.  Then Susan left and I was settling into the desk when the other guy, who wasn't the French guy at all, came over, sat in the chair by the desk, and settled in for a nice chat.  That's when I remembered he was the long-winded  guy from a couple of weeks ago, who sat here and talked for about half an hour, and when I had to ring up books, he talked to other customers, and then came back to talking to me.

Today he was telling me that he's a re-enactor, someone who recreates the experiences that others have written about. I know Civil War re-enactors are all the rage, but he says he doesn't do battles, rather he does travels over rough territory, following journals written by the original explorers.  To tell the truth, I didn't follow most of what he said and zoned out completely when he started telling me all about guns and rifles.  My notes on his half hour monologue this week are: "re-enactors, guns, book review, cartographer, mom 92."  I was aching for him to leave.  And he didn't even buy anything this time!

While he was talking, a guy who reminded me of Johnny Weir, who provided such color to the figure skating events at the Moscow Olympics was wandering around with a female friend. He was prettier than she was (and wore more jewelry).   They left without making a purchase and my monologist was still prattling on about guns.

He finally did leave and I went searching for a book to read.  I had decided that several people have raved about author Terry Pratchett and I was fairly certain we usually had several of his books, but when I went looking we didn't have any, so I went back to mysteries and chose another Ruth Rendell again.

A woman came in with a list of books for her 4th grade son.   She was dressed in jeans and a blue top with an elegant lace-like pattern in the back.  Her hair was in a ballerina-type bun and she had a beautiful silver necklace.   She said she had come here rather than to the Avid Reader, which sells the new books, because the titles were all old...apparently she thought we had a better chance of finding a book by Dickens in a used book store than in a new book store.  

A woman bought two contemporary fiction books and said she had to force herself to leave before she bought any more.  We agreed that the book store is a bad source of temptation!

All the while I was dealing with these customers, I kept smelling tortillas and couldn't figure out why.  Nobody had brought Mexican food into the store.  Finally I smelled my brand new t-shirt (see Photo of the Day) and discovered that everywhere it smelled of tortillas.  Guess it was made in a sweat shop in Mexico. (I threw it in the wash when I got home.)

A guy wearing a shirt from the Church of Scientology in Sacramento bought a coloring book of the human brain.  It was a rather thick book.   I wonder how much of the brain one can color!

A woman came in clutching a book on the history of theater in French.  It's been on display and I've been staring at it for weeks, but Peter recently moved it outside and she was thrilled that she could buy it for $1.

A young man in khaki shorts with a grey t-shirt and a navy blue ball cap came in.  He was wearing sandals and I noticed that the little toe on his left foot seemed to live in a world of its own, separate from the rest of the toes, not moving in synchronicity with them.  When they went down, it raised up like a pinkie finger holding a dainty cup at a fancy tea.  He never turned around so I could see if his right foot had a similar little toe.

He spent some time looking through the foreign books and finally bought a book in Spanish about Jews in Spain.
A woman who must be prematurely grey since she looked (and dressed) quite young, but had  all grey hair in a messy pony tail.  She was wearing a skimpy sundress and one arm was tattooed from the shoulder to the elbow.   She didn't buy anything either.

Outside, two women walked buy walking four dogs, one had three and the other had one.

A guy with a messenger bag came in and started checking out sci fi and fantasy books, but the thing you couldn't avoid noticing about him was his nose.  It was very large.  Not quite Cyrano length, but definitely large enough that if he had been a drinker, I would have compared it to W.C. Fields, but it was just...large. He looked around for a long tie and ultimately bought three literature books, including "The Birds" by Aristophanes, which I thought was odd because I had just been thinking of that story last week--I don't remember why.

The women with dogs walked by outside in the opposite direction.

A young woman wearing a brown UPS-colored ball cap, a blue t-shirt with a white chemise over it which had what looked like an x-ray of human ribs painted on it. She was very friendly and said a cheery hello.

My friend came at 4:30 and we discussed the weather today (hot) and predicted for the weekend (hotter) and the new bag policy for the store.   He bought a book on globes and maps.

A woman who reminded me of Jeri's godmother, also Jeri, came in with two bargain books.  She asked if we had a section on American authors.   I told her we did not.  She then wanted to know where our poetry books were and I showed her.  She kept talking to me, but I couldn't hear her.  She didn't seem very friendly, but she sat down where the long-winded buy had sat and asked for a restaurant recommendation.  I gave her the name of three nearby and then we started talking recipes.  She was intrigued by my recent success with the roasted chicken.

Two girls bought two Nancy Drew mysteries and asked if we had more.  I was shocked to discover there were only two on the shelves.  We've had about 30 in the children's room for almost as long as I've worked at Logos, but Peter told me that someone came in and bought them all, and the two that the girls bought were new donations.

I didn't get much reading done today, but the book is a good one and I brought it home, though it has to take a back seat to "Enrique's Journey," about a young boy whose mother left him in Honduras to come to the U.S. to find a better life for her and her family.  Twelve years later she still has not returned and he is hopping the immigrant train to find her.  It has been recommended to me by several people and though I am not that far into it yet, it is a real eye opener, both for the situations that the immigrants are fleeing and for the horrific conditions they suffer trying to get to this country.  It's a book I suspect should be read by many angry people in this country.

Day 25:  Happiness is a new t-shirt
(even if it does smell of tortillas!)

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Old Friends

A couple of days ago, I wrote about my old "friends," the kitchen equipment I've been using for nearly 50 years.   Today I write about old friends (without quotes).

The people in the Pinata Group are our oldest friends, the ones who have been in our lives for more than 50 years.  Several months ago, I pointed out to Char that we weren't getting any younger and that we should make a greater effort to get together more often.  We have our cruises, but other than that we don't see each other month.  Of course, the miles between us (it takes an hour to get from one house to the other) kind of works against that, but we decided we would make the effort, because we enjoy each other's company.

So a few months back, Char drove up in this direction and we met at the Nut Tree strip mall and had a lovely lunch at Fenton's Ice Creamery, an import from Oakland, and a place where we had eaten together in the old days.
It was fun and we resolved to do it once a month.

But resolutions like that are easy to forget when you get on with "life" in your respective corners of the state.
We tried awhile ago to make a luncheon engagement for the two of us with three other women of the Pinata Group, but that went nowhere.

We decided to get together this week, and Char chose Wednesday as the day.  Again, we tried to involve the three other women in the Pinata group, but one was traveling around the country, which she seems to do constantly, and wouldn't be in our area.  Another's husband was recovering from surgery and she didn't feel she could leave him.  That left Pat, who lives in Sacramento and was going to be free to have lunch with us.

I was charged with picking a restaurant that was (a) near Pat's house, (b) had soft food for Char who had just had dental surgery, and (c) had vegetarian selections for Pat, who is vegetarian.

I decided we would eat at a Mexican restasurant in Sacramento, near Pat's house.  I had been there once with Peach and our cousin Shirley and I remembered that it was a good place, should have lots of soft stuff, and lots of greens.

Char drove to Davis and picked me up, and we met Pat at the restaurant.

The waitress came to take our drink orders and I ordered my usual water but then changed my mind when Pat and Char both ordered margaritas.  I decided to have one too.  They were huge, but not very strong, so it was a good choice.

The really nice thing about eating with your oldest friends is that, as Char pointed out, you really know a lot about each other.  We knew each other's parents and siblings and attended a lot of funerals for those people (my mother is the only Pinata grandma still living). I talk easily to Susan at Logos, because she is the daughter of Char's cousin, and Char babysat with her when she was a baby.  I know all about the aunts, Leona and Mabel and their quirks and a lot of Susan's family are names I recognize. We are interested in Pat's sister-in-law, who is blind and lives by herself on several acres of land in the hills.  We picked olives in her garden one year, and planted trees in memory of Pat's son, who had died, on that property.

We realized that there were things that we didn't know, and had never thought to share, but with a shared background of 50 years, there were more than enough memories to go around, after updating information on what our kids had been doing lately (Char and I pretty much know what our own kids are doing, but we were interested in hearing about Pat's kids).

It was a leisurely lunch with lots of laughs and a reminder of why we have remained in each other's lives all these years.  It also underscored the importance of not letting our friendships just kind of drift off and get lost, as so many friendships do.

I feel like we're in a kind of weird money-less tontine. We're now in the last quarter (or less) of our lives.  We have already buried one woman, and another one has had a heart attack and is not doing well.  It's depressing to realize that we are at an age where any day now we could get "the" telephone call announcing which one of us has passed on.  Char and I have promised to give the eulogy at the funeral of whichever one of us dies first.  I'm a terrible speaker and get very,very nervous if I have to speak in public, so if she decides to die before I do, the thought of giving a eulogy might just kill me right then.

But it would seem appropriate if we had a double-funeral and let someone else do the eulogy.  I have the mental image of the two of us trying to stuff full sized Christmas trees into their little Saab, all those pumpkin pies we baked, and all the other silly stuff we have done togehter over the years.  I can't imagine life without her, so she'd jolly better well stick around until I die...

In the meantime, I'll settle for another lunch, maybe when Jeri's godmother, Jeri, is in town and can join us.

Day 24:  Happiness is Ladies Who Lunch

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Some (other) Enchanted Evening

August is a more or less quiet month for me, with regard to reviewing shows.  There is a new musical at Sacramento's Music Circus every other week and one Acme (the teen age company here in town) show, but all of the other theaters I review are winding down their summer shows.  In September things will perk up a lot.

I started as a critic about the same time I started writing Funny the World, so this is my 15th year trying to figure out what to say about the show I am seeing on any particular evening.  One of the joys of doing this job for so long is bonding with the little group of critics who go to the shows.  There are six of us, representing a daily newspaper, a weekly newspaper a couple of radio show, and streaming review site.  And then there is Walter.  I've never figured out exactly what Walter does, or if he even reviews any longer, but he and Ned used to work for the same radio station (Ned now works for a different radio station).  Walter, the oldest of us alll, God bless him, is still there for every show, with his wife.   He has lots of infirmities and we've see him from limping to a cane to now a walker, though he tells me he is having surgery next week so maybe he will be able to give up the walker eventually.

There is also another guy, alternate for one of the newspapers, who comes to most things.  He never joins our little critics circle, but his wife does.  She and I bonded over rescued dogs.  I thought I was bad...she's much worse!  And then there is the tall guy who started reviewing about a year before I did.  He and I have never spoken. He works for the "big" newspaper and people greet him like a rock star. He is head and shoulders (literally and figuratively) above us all, in the way he is viewed by the theater companies.  It always bugs me that one particular company always sets aside certain seats for him, but even though I good-naturedly (kind of) complained about his special treatment, still there are his seats, marked "reserved" and none reserved for any of the rest of us.

But I love that our core group often gets together for chit chat either before the show or at intermission (usually not after the show because we are all ready to go home to either write the review of sleep so we can get up and write the review).  

Tonight, the Music Circus was presenting South Pacific.   It seemed to me that I just saw that show by another theater, and research shows that I was right -- it was a couple of months ago.  We took my mother to a Davis production in March of this year.

Walt always drops me off before he goes into the garage to park the car, so I can pick up our tickets.  While I was waiting for him, I was chatting with one of our critics circle.  She said she had fear and trepidation about seeing this show, which she had not seen in awhile and how the sexism, chid prostitution, prejudice and xenophobia made her very uncomfortable, but that it was a popular show for the grey-hair, walker set.  

I didn't talk with her after the show, though I wish I had.   This was an outstanding production and if you couldn't see the stage, you would still think so because the voices were so amazing.  Perhaps across the board the best voices I have heard on that stage, and I have heard some pretty good voices in that theater. As for the negative aspects of it, as I said following the production of Grease, you kind of forgive them because (a) it was typical of both the era in which it was set and the era in which it was written, but more importantly (b) good wins out in the end, unlike Grease.

We had the good fortune to ride to and from the theater with a young man who attends UCD, the very demographic my fellow critic felt would have difficulty with the negativity in the show, so I told him I was very interested in his opinion, and was happy to hear that he felt about it the way I did...that the fact that Lt. Cable regrets his rejection of the native girl Liat before he dies, and that Nelly is able to overcome her distaste at the thought of Emile's marriage to a polynesian woman and giving her two children before her death, means that all live happily ever after (well, except for the guy who is killed in battle).

It will be fun to write the review (ain't gonna do it now, at 2 a.m.) because I loved everything about this production.  I am looking forward to hear what my friend has to say about it...she won't be writing the review, as she shares the reviews with another person and so this was her week to just enjoy and not have to go home and figure out what to say about it.

Day 23 -- Happiness is knowing how to manipulate photos in PhotoShop