Friday, January 30, 2015

Today at Logos

First, an observation I made last night while going to the couch to sleep.  Each night when I come into the darkened room, Sheila immediately gets off the couch, where she has slept all day, and sleeps by my side on the floor.  It occurs to me that the dog and I are sharing a bed.  She uses it in the day, I use it at night.  It's our version of Cox and Box.

That said, how was today at Logos?  I had a chat with Sandy about her upcoming trip to Viet Nam, Cambodia and, because they'll be in the neighborhood anyway, Nepal, where they have friends and plan to go hiking.  They'll be gone 7 weeks and it sounds like an exhausting, but exciting trip.

There was a guy with a Big Dog in the place when she left.  The dog was a yellow pup, not sure the breed, but his name was Thunder and he was very friendly.  We bonded.

I chose a Ruth Rendell book to read while working today, since we had a large number of new ones to the store.  I picked the shortest one. It is turning out to be another page turner and since I didn't quite finish it, I brought it home to finish here and take back to Logos next week.

A "rumpled couple" came in.  I think mother and son.  He was in baggy jeans and a narrow brimmed hat.  She was in a saggy top, black pants and also wore a felt hat.  She was looking for a specific female travel author (which she did not find), but ultimately bought three very thick books, saying that she doesn't like "Jane Austen-y" books...likes something with more heft.  We talked about travel books by women and I told her about the book I'd read about the woman who traveled across China on public transportation.

As she was leaving she spied the cards we have for sale by a local artist and decided to purchase a sunflower card because of something in the movie Under the Tuscan Sun.

A guy wearing a River Cats shirt (the River Cats are the Sacramento minor league baseball team) bought two books on atoms and molecules.  He paid, but then kept standing there like he expected me to do something else.  Maybe he thought I'd give him a bag (which we no longer do). He finally picked up his books and left.

(Aside...I wonder why every customer who brings book to the desk places them as far from me as they can instead of handing them to me)

A woman with a stroller containing a child of about 18 mos, with a very dirty face came in with a book from the bargain table outside.

An older guy in a large black cowboy hat browsed for awhile but didn't buy anything.

A tall, thin woman in a long striped dress made of some soft, filmy material, boots that disappeared under her dress, and a knit white tam-o-shanter on her head was looking for "Reconnections," a book about healing yourself and others by Eric Pearl.  I directed her to the self help section, but she didn't find it and said "thank you" as she was leaving, but then returned with a bargain book by David Attenborough.  She was very sad when I told her he died this past year.

A guy with sideburns down to his chin, and a biker bag slung across his shoulders browsed through the literature section, but left without buying anything.  Nor did the guy who came in carrying a foil-wrapped burrito from the local Chipotle.  And "my friend," who arrived at 4:25 couldn't find anything he wanted either today.

A small Asian woman with a folded up scooter under her arm and Yoko Ono sunglasses spent a lot of time sitting on the floor looking through books. She ultimately bought a bargain book and "Kiss of the Spider Woman."

A stooped older woman brought a heavy bag of Poetry magazines to donate.  Then she browsed for awhile and finally purchased a copy of "Beowulf."  She said she had never read it and that "it's about time I got educated."

A tall man with sunglasses on his bald head bought a mystery and I realized after he left that I overcharged him by 4 cents because I misread the amount it showed on the cash register.

A large man came in looking for greeting cards and I sent him to the book store in the next block. (Our cards are blank inside)

A woman and a teenager with bright blue hair were looking through the bargain books outside and I was disappointed that they didn't come in. 

A tall guy in a knit cap came in, disappointed that the unicorn book he had seen on display last week was no longer for sale.

A young woman with dyed reddish hair was looking for a young adult book whose name she couldn't remember by an author she couldn't remember, but knew that her daughter had "axed" for it.  She looked, but didn't find it. She then gave me a very long history of her book collection, her book cases, and the books she had read.

A cheery guy carrying a guitar (not in a case) and a kid with pink hair (this was my day for colored hair!) came in, but they were there for a meeting which was taking place at 7 p.m., so they left and would return later.

Susan arrived with goodies for the meeting, which is concerned with getting the high school literary magazine published.  We had a nice chat until Walt arrived and then Walt and I headed home to be here in time for Jeopardy.

There is a slight chance I may not have access to wifi in the next couple of days, so if there is no entry posted until Sunday, that's why.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Laid Back

Today was so laid back, I didn't notice I was still in my pajamas until after lunch.  I sleep in my clothes so often, when I stagger from recliner to couch, that unless you look at your body, it's easy to forget that you are actually wearing pajamas because they feel the same as your clothes.

But though it was a laid back day, it was still productive.  I managed to answer thirteen letters from Compassion children which had been waiting to be answered, some for over a month.  Some of these were letters that accumulated while I was in Iowa.  

It's not that I hadn't written to the children, but I just hadn't answered their letters.

Compassion has this neat deal where you can send the kids e-mail using their on-line tool.  There are several different types of stationery you can choose and you can add up to 3 photographs.  Write your letter on line and send it off.

But the neat thing about the on-line tool is that you can then duplicate the letter for another child.  Obviously when I am answering a letter, I don't duplicate, but about once a month I write a generic letter to a child and then duplicate it for the next child, just changing the names.  It makes it possible for me to write frequently to all of the kids on my list...if I had to write 19 individual letters, I would never get them written and sent as often as I do now.

It's handy to have all these gadgets at my disposal too.  For two of the kids, I included a picture of myself holding their letter (a selfie taken with my phone, using the cable release so I don't have to actually press the button myself)

When I finished the letters, I took a long nap and was so deeply asleep I didn't hear Walt leave for his meeting and was just barely awake when Jeri called.  She always calls on the birthdays.  It was good to check in on the snow conditions in Boston.  They have been shoveling for days.

(Jeri says "take a block of ice and chip away everything that doesn't look like a car")
 And then, when Walt came home, we did go out for sushi, to Sushi Unlimited, where we went last year.

We ordered three different rolls to share and all were delicious.

But we have become the people we used to make fun of.

I love it that Walt loves his phone so much.  It makes me feel less guilty when I whip my own phone out at a restaurant.  And to think, it wasn't that long ago that I looked at people looking like us and scoffed that they were having a meal together, but both were on their cell phones.  Now I understand.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Well, at least it's short

My mother has had her hair cut, and got a perm today.  She has been looking long and shaggy, like an old lady in a rest home, and I was surprised to read in one of my old entries that almost exactly a year ago, I was making the same complaint.  

I have been pushing her to get her hair cut and she keeps "thinking about it" while the hair grows longer and stringier.  I finally realized that this is something else she is incapable of doing.  The idea of (a) remembering the hairdresser, (b) finding the phone number, and (c) making the call was completely beyond her ability, so I made an appointment for her last week.

This morning she called in a panic.  "Someone" had called her--she didn't know who--to ask her about something--she didn't remember what--and could I return the call and take care of it for her. 

I figured it was beautician Lucy calling to remind her about her appointment, and it was.  She wanted to make it earlier, so I went to Atria for lunch and then took her upstairs to the salon.  I realized again that this trip upstairs to find the salon is completely beyond her ability to navigate.  She didn't even recognize the elevator and swore she'd never been in it.

This wasn't a bad memory day, it was a terrible memory day. She couldn't remember anything, and even when we got home from the salon, it took her a few minutes to recognize her own apartment, but then she noticed familiar things and "guessed" it was her place.  I think "having something to do" just completely threw her for a loop.

But it got done.

When she had a haircut and a perm last time, this is how she looked...

and that was what I was expecting to see when I picked her up.  I spent the 2 hours she was at the salon in her apartment and when I got to Lucy's, my mother was sitting in a chair, bent over, with her head in her hands.  I'm not sure why, whether it was fear that I wouldn't come to get her (which it may well have been), or if she had looked at herself in the mirror.

This is the before and after:

She looks better, that's for sure, but she looks like she got her finger stuck in an electric socket...or like an old lady in a rest home that just had a bad perm.  If it had been me I would have been very upset, but she seems OK with it...and if she can't recognize her own apartment, it's probably a good thing she can't really see how bad her hair looks.  For this she paid $75.  She wuz robbed!

The day got worse.  I left Atria and went to the post office to mail a package.  When I was standing in line, I got a text from Jeri and I pulled out my phone and answered it.  Then I mailed the package, got into the car and half a block from the post office, I realized my cell phone wasn't in my pocket.  I pulled over to check my purse to make sure it was there--and it wasn't in the slot for the phone.  I tore the purse apart and it just wasn't there.  I checked the floor of the car, then I turned around and went back to the post office.  It wasn't on the desk by where I had texted Jeri and the clerk said that I had not left it at her window.  Where was it???  I tore the purse apart again, but no phone.

I hoped some kind soul picked it up and was going to try to call me.  I got home, confessed to Walt that I had lost it, and called the phone.  Nobody answered.  I was in a total panic and felt I couldn't do anything right because it seemed that everything I touched fell apart and I didn't want to have to buy a new phone when we will be paying for a new computer soon and when my laptop needs work too (but that will wait until later in the year).

Finally Walt went outside to check the car again and there it was, right on the seat where I'd been sitting, in plain sight and I just hadn't seen it.

More and more I'm wondering when I'm going to have to move to Atria.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

The Birthdays

I found this video the other day.  (I tried to embed it but for some reason that didn't work, though it should have.)  If you don't want to go to YouTube and watch the video yourself, it's a video of David, Jeri and Paul, sitting on the couch (holding pictures of Tom and Ned, who couldn't be there) and singing "My Favorite Things" with lyrics I rewrote to commemorate The Pinata Group. That's David on the guitar.

I had all sorts of mixed feelings watching it. I thought I would be emotional and yeah, emotions welled up.  But one thing that struck me very forcibly was something I said to David shortly before he died.

We were joking about all the photos and videos I take and I told him "that's OK--you can die and I probably won't even notice because I have so many videos of you around." In retrospect, that was a terrible thing to say, given that he was dead not long after.

But as I watched this video, I realized that maybe it wasn't so bad after all.  Here they were, alive again, singing together with Jeri.  The video made me smile and though I wish to heck they were here, the videos are a comfort because for a few minutes, they are back, alive, whole and the family is all together again.
We're coming up on Birthday Time.  Paul's birthday is tomorrow and David's is a week later.  Paul would have been 46 and David 43.  They are permanently stuck at 30 and 24.  

I look at Ned's grey hair--actually he's getting white hair.  He has more than I do.  And I see the look of a middle aged man.  I wonder what his brothers would look like at 46 and 43.  

Paul was planning to move to L.A. with his wife and become a movie star.  What would he be doing now?  Waiting tables?  Working in the post office?  Or would he be one of that small percent that actually work in the business?  We'll never know. I feel cheated because I always wanted to watch him win his Oscar and stand there and thank his mom for all her support.

And David.  He was in the process of getting his life together.  He had tried Sacramento City College and Chico State and gave up.  After a period of working bagging groceries, he was talking about moving to Santa Cruz and going to school there.  He still hadn't figured out what he wanted to be when he grew up.  But what a mind that kid had.  If he found the right path, he could have done anything.

Instead the two of them are lying in a grave in the Davis cemetery and it just seems so unfair that life has moved on without them.

After so many years (19 and 16), the birthdays and the anniversaries aren't as wrenching as they were in the beginning.  You never "get over" the death of a child and you do, as people wanting to say something comforting after they died, "remember them" (as if you could forget!).  You are forever changed.  They become a part of the person you are now and you go on about your business.  You don't wear sack cloth and ashes forever, you don't shut the curtains and assume the fetal position for the rest of your life, but you laugh and have good times and bad times while a piece of your brain includes them in all family activities, though you don't really talk about them much.

We'll probably go out for sushi on Paul's birthday.  We've been doing that for 16 years now.  Who knows what we'll do on Dave's, but we'll raise a glass of wine...or water...or whatever and toast them.

And then we wait until the death anniversaries roll around a couple of months later.

Happy birthday, guys

Monday, January 26, 2015

Sunday Stealing

Easy A-Z Meme (some of these questions I have answered many times before)

A. What are your favorite smells?
The ocean, coffee, puppy breath, fresh bread, a non-hot house rose

B. Can you go a whole day without caffeine?
Sure, and often do.

C. Who knows more about you than anyone else?
Maybe Char?

D. What song did you last listen to?
"If I give up the saxophone, will you come back to me?"  (seriously!)

E. Do you wear socks to bed?

F. Can you change a car tire?
Sadly, no.

G. If you could choose one color to wear for a whole year, what color would you choose?
Black...since that's the color I wear just about every day anyway.

H. Do you cook often?
Only once a day....sometimes twice

I. What’s your least favorite season?
Summer.  I am not a heat person

J. Can you sew?
No.  I can't even sew buttons any more.

K. What is your favorite fruit?
Oranges in the winter, strawberries in summer

L. Are you health conscious?
Alas, no (my doctor will tell you)

M. Do you think you’re very conscious of the feelings of others or more self oriented?
I am acutely aware of the feelings of others.

N. Do you curse a lot?
To quote Country Dew, "Why the f**k would you ask me that question?"

O. Do you remember lyrics easily?
Yes.  Or at least I used to.  I have hundreds of lyrics to songs buried in my head, though probably not lately.

P. Can you roll your tongue?
Yes indeed.

Q. Is there a certain food you often crave for no reason?
Oh there's always a reason to crave food.  Mine is probably donuts.

R. What was the last book you purchased?
"Go Into All the World" by David Chalmers, reviewed on my book review page.

S. Where was your last vacation?

T. Last movie you watched? Did you enjoy it?
In the theater, Into the Woods.  And yes, I enjoyed it.

U. Think of your oldest friend. If you met them now do you think you would still become friends?
That would be any of the Pinata Group people...and yes.

V. Paris, London and New York… which one would you live in, which would you visit for a day, which would you visit for a fortnight?
London to live, Paris for a fortnight, and New York get out as quickly as possible.

W. Do you usually sleep with your closet door open or closed?
I sleep in a room without a closet.

X. Have you ever broken a bone? If so, how did it happen?
Yes.  I dropped a frozen beef roast on it.  

Y. How do you like your eggs?
Scrambled, soft.  (but really "Benedict-ed")

Z. What was your last argument about and who with?
I'm not an argumentative person, so I don't remember.  It's been a long time, though.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

It's a Slow Process

It may not look it, but I am making slow progress toward clearing my desk to make way for the new computer, whenever it arrives (I've told the guru no rush -- I need to make room first!)

Believe it or not, this is after a day of cleaning things off.  I figure any time I actually see wood on my desk, that's a good day.

I'm doing it slowly.  For example, I still have a stack of letters from the Compassion kids that arrived when I was in Iowa that I haven't answered.  I'm taking time to answer them now, as I come to them.  Only my printer isn't hooked up right now (because I've lost the install disk) so I can't print them, so each letter has to be hand written, which takes at least twice as long.

But my wonderful friend Mary in Rockport just sent me a whole bunch of stickers, so taking time to write to the kids, one at a time, gives me a chance to pick the perfect stickers to send to them, and get a one-postage-fits-all envelope ready to send with a whole bunch of gifts attached to each letter.  I haven't done that in a long time.

I also found something I've been frantically (well...sort of...) looking for for about a week now. I thought I'd lost it and was disconsolate, but it is now found and put in a safe place.

Ever since I was a kid, I made mountains of stuff on flat surfaces and on those rare occasions when the Aquarius in me kicked in and I decided to clean (Aquarians can go years without "seeing" clutter and then suddenly one day they have to get it all organized) my way of organizing is to take it layer by layer, occasionally doing carbon dating along the way, tossing out the stuff I no longer need and then separating what's left into piles. 

Essentially, I break the mountain into mole hills, toss out a little bit, and stash the mole hills in other places.  And then when it is all finished, I start putting the mole hills back on the desk and have the base for a new mountain.

For example, the pile on the left of the desk is stuff I plan to use in decorating a couple of journals I'm working on.  The stuff on the right side is stuff I haven't dealt with (like the rest of the Compassion letters).  The stuff piled on my computer is stuff that I need to keep and need to find somewhere to put. Out of sight to the right of my computer is more stuff that needs to be filed away somewhere, as soon as I can figure out where to store it.

I keep telling myself that if I had a bigger office with more shelves I could organize better, and I probably could.  Over the years, I have brought in various cupboards with drawers to put stuff into. And that works, briefly, until more stuff comes in to take the place of the stuff I moved into the drawers.

But this is a TINY room and I've run out of places to store the cupboards and shelves.  And besides, eventually they get covered up with more stuff.  

I am feeling like my mother these days, as I wade through "all this crap" and wonder what in God's name I am going to do with it all and how I can ever get rid of enough to make this a neat and tidy office.

For the moment, though, if I can just clear away a place where the guru can put the new computer and get it set up, I'll be satisfied.  And it shouldn't take more than a day or two before my mountain is built again and I can start all over.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Bald as a Billiard Ball

Well, I have taken the first steps in making good on a promise I made a year ago.  I signed up to become a "shavee" at the St. Baldrick's fund raiser for children's cancer research on March 12, losing my grey locks and going bald.  Ned and I will do a mother-son shaving. It is too early to start asking for contributions, but sometime next month I will post a link to my page and beg readers to contribute help me meet my $500 goal.

In truth, I was thinking about not doing this, but someone just signed the guestbook from my March 9 entry last year, leaving a message for my friend Nancianne, who was being shaved for the second time.  She wrote:
Nacianne, Thank you for being a hero to kids with cancer! My son will be celebrating his 12th year of being cancer-free this March. He first fought cancer at 10 months, and then again just after his 4th birthday. Each time you shave your head, you are not just funding childhood cancer research, you are also sending out a message of hope to families like ours. You are amazing and I thank you from the bottom of my heart!
How could I possibly think about not going ahead with my plans, when I realize how important it is.
I chose two kids to honor in doing this, both children who have died of the disease.  One is a girl named Caroline, who died less than a year after her diagnosis.  I chose her in honor of Peach (Carolyn) and her fight with breast cancer.

Of course my mother says she wants to know how long my hair will take to grow out because she doesn't want to see me bald and she certainly doesn't want to be seen in public with me.  Well.  Whatever.  That's her decision, but I kinda hoped she'd be proud of me for doing something to help children with cancer, but apparently appearances are more important than curing cancer. 'Twas ever thus with her, I fear.

I had lunch with her today and we were joined at lunch by my cousin Niecie, who is a beautician and comes occasionally to give my mother a pedicure.

I'm lucky that she enjoys this time with my mother because I have a mild phobia about touching other people's feet and her toenails had grown very long and something needed to be done.

I had to park a block away from Atria today and this is my parked car.

I used to be an excellent parker. I could parallel park on a steep San Francisco hill, between two cars, driving a stick shift. Lately I can't park for love or money. When I parked here, there were no cars ahead of me, no cars behind me and it took me three tries to get it parked this close to the sidewalk.