Friday, October 31, 2008


The last movie I saw in the theatre was "Juno" way back in February. There are lots of movies I've wanted to see, but somehow we just never get to them.

The other day I got a message on Facebook from a friend here in Davis, asking if I wanted to go to see "W." with her while Walt was in Santa Barbara this week. She said she could come and pick me up so I wouldn't have to drive. Sounded good to me! (I even had cash on hand, left over from when we didn't have Cousins Day and I'd gotten money to give to Kathy for gas).

At 4 p.m., she arrived and we drove downtown to the theatre. I love going to the theatre in the middle of the afternoon, especially now that I'm a Senior and can geet those cheap Senior prices.

The guy who sold me my ticket was a dwarf. He looked familiar and I glanced at his name tag and was surprised. Last time I saw him he was still in school, had a mowhawk and was dripping gold jewelry over his leather. I asked him if XX was his last name, and then introduced myself. Then I did that horrible thing that adults do and started to say that I hadn't seen him since he was a lot smaller. Ooops. Not the right thing to say to a dwarft! Fortunately I caught myself in time to say "younger."

As for the movie, it's quite good. Go see it! The trailers might make you think it's a comedy or that it is a cut and slash movie about Bush, but really Stone takes his subject very seriously, and I actually have to say that if I didn't know what that bumbling puppet has done to this country--and the world--I might actually have felt sorry for him, a guy trying so hard to win the approval of his father, who obviously thinks that Jeb is the one who should be president.

Of course, I do have to remember that this is Stone's vision and who knows what is true and what is not, but it certainly has the ring of truth.

James Brolin does a fabulous job as Bush. I would be very surprised if he were not nominated for an Academy award.

Richard Dreyfus is so good as Cheney that it was several monutes into his first scene before I suddenly looked at him and started asking myself, "is that Richard Dreyfus?"

Most of the others were fine, but trying too hard to "look" the part. The only one who was a real disappointment was Thandie Newton as Condoleeza Rice. She was a caricature, and not even a good one. Every time she had a scene, it took me out of the movie and into real time as I squirmed uncomfortably at her performance.

But overall, I thought it gave a nice picture of the man in the White House. Of course, I don't know when they finished shooting, so it doesn't go far enough to see him slip to 20% in pubic opinion, or become a non-person in the Republican party.

NickiLeft.jpg (59378 bytes)After I got home, my Alzheimers and blindness (so let me be dramatic for a moment) combined with Nicki's autism gave me a few minutes of panic as I went to give the dogs their dinner and couldn't find her. Not finding her is not necessarily an unusual thing, but usually it's because she's outside.

But it's raining. And I couldn't remember seeing her after I got home from the movies. I couldn't see her, and she didn't come when I called her (but then she never does).

I did another sweep of the house, calling her, but didn't see or hear her. I decided I finally had to confess to Ashley and came in here to send her another e-mail saying I'd lost Nicki. But as I started writing, I was trying desperately to remember whether or not I'd seen her since I came home from the movies. Finally I remembered that when I'd cleaned up the pee puddle in the kitchen, she had chased the towel. Whew. That means she had to be in the house, not outside injured somewhere.

I went back into the living room one more time and called her and, miracle of miracles, she actually came running out from wherever she was. It was a breakthrough--the first time she'd answered me when I'd called her. And she was fine and happy.

Another crisis averted.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Basic Human Rights

I've been feeling kind of guilty because it feels like I've been completely uninvolved in the fight to defeat Proposition 8, the Marriage Amendment bill. A day doesn't pass when I don't get at least one, and often many more than one, requestion for money or a request for involvement. I feel guilty that I've kind of ignored them.

In truth this damn eye thing has made me feel uncomfortable volunteering for the election. That and my normal reluctance to talk with strangers. I did work a table for our infamous Prop 22 many years ago and actually had one heated conversation with someone adamantly opposed to gay marriage. But this year, I've been more introspective, I guess, and making excuses for not getting involved. I've written letters and journal entries, of course, and we have a lawn sign, but that doesn't seem enough.

But videos like the following really bother me...and I think it will bother you too.

The reports from the "No on 8" campaign and Equality California is that there is a huge movment among members of the Morman church and the Catholic church to get out the "yes" vote. And, of course, there are lots of people who are working so hard to explain the issue to people.

Businesses which have supported a "no" vote on Prop 8 have even received threatening letters from the "yes" campaign, demanding larger donations, and threatening to publish their names of money is not sent.

It just seems like such a no-brainer for me.

How can Americans in this day and age vote to change the constitution to include discrimination, wording that says "these people are OK, but these people are not OK." That's really all that it is . The proposition has nothing about religion or schools or any thing else that the ads claim it will affect. I would much rather children learn that it is legal for two people who love each other to marry than it is that their government can single out a group of people for discrimination.

I love the way one recently married gay blogger put it:

My belief is very simple. As American’s we should never discriminate against a group, period. Your morals and beliefs are set aside when it comes to vote on issues that delve into discrimination. So, I have concluded that those of my “friends” that are voting Yes, are more acquaintances then friends. I choose to surround myself with people that respect my family, treat, acknowledge and understand my family has the same value, commitment and love as any other family. I’m not a second class citizen and deserve the same benefits of marriage as any other married couple. I also believe that no one chooses to be gay. I don’t wish anyone to become, turn out, discover they are gay. But if someone is gay, they deserve respect, acceptance and benefits. I don’t believe marriage should be taught in schools. It’s sex ed, plain and simple. But all family types should feel safe and accepted wherever they go.

The Rev. Deborah Johnson explains the proposition very succinctly for those who still are unsure about what this proposition does and does not say. (This is excellent. I highly recommend it.)

As she says, it is dangerous to put people's civil liberties to the vote of a people, especially after the courts have reviewed the constitution and determined that the right of everyone to marry has been there all along and that denying marriage licenses has been unconstitutional. This thing has could pass with a simple majority. Do you want anybody voting on your civil liberties?

I haven't been in the trenches with other fighters in this battle, but I can at least, this final week of decision for California voters, remind people that this is a bad proposition and to beg you not to legalize discrimination in this state. Today it's the gay people. Who might be targeted next? We must speak out to protect equal rights for everyone...

First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out, because I was not a socialist.

Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out because I was not a trade unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me, and there was no one left to speak for me.

-Pastor Martin Niemöller

Wednesday, October 29, 2008


Probably good advice to give is: when you have had disappointing news from the doctor, it's best not to immediately head to the supermarket. The opportunity for soothing with comfort food is just too great, especially if you know you're going home to an empty house, with nobody to comment on the food you've purchased. Croissants on sale today? Lemme at 'em! How about a bit of that Boursin cheese I liked so much? Yeah, I know we're out of peanutbutter. How about some big lamb chops for dinner? Maybe some snack crackers, since we're out of those too. And who can resist that french bread they just took out of the oven and which is sitting, warm, in bags right in front of you? Comfort food is never anything "green" or "nutritious."

It's not surprising that I would turn to food for comfort. My happiest memories of childhood often center around food. The ever-present cookie jar, the happy pig with the big belly and bigger smile, filled with freshly baked chocolate chip cookies, Saturday morning's "hockies," hunks of fried bread dough lathered with butter--contests with my sister to see who could eat the most (I think I once had eight--or was it 12?--of the things--no wonder I was on my first diet at age 10!). The bowl of cheese curls always served at my grandmother's cocktail parties, along with the Parmesan/mayonnaise appetizers that I still make for hors d'oeuvres today.

I loved the food preparation "rituals" in my house. One of my favorite mental pictures of my mother is sitting at the kitchen table, lit by the light coming through the window at her right. There is a bowl in her lap, held between her knees and she is peeling apples for her wonderful apple pie. I loved to eat the strips of apple peel that curled off of the apple and into the garbage bowl, or sneak slices of apples, sweet with sugar and sprinkled with cinnamon. "Don't eat so many," my mother would laugh, always afraid there wouldn't be enough for the pie.

Another of her standard desserts, especially for birthdays, was chocolate cream roll. A thin flat sponge cake baked in a cookie sheet with sides on it, then turned out onto a powdered sugar-covered towel, and the crisp edges cut off and saved for Karen and me to eat. The cake was then tightly rolled, while it was still warm, and left to cool. When cool, it was unrolled and spread thickly with real whipped cream and frosted with a chocolate frosting I have never been able to duplicate. Karen and I always got to lick the beaters, of course.

Nobody could make shoestring potatoes like my mother. Pencil-thin slices of potatoes, cooked to a golden brown, yet crispy perfection. I have never been able to duplicate them. I get tired of the endless cutting and the potatoes come out either soggy or burned.

One of her specialties was enchiladas, an unusual specialty for someone of Scottish descent. But when I was a baby, the woman who lived upstairs over our flat (whom I do not remember at all) was Mexican and my mother loved her enchiladas, so she Amalia to teach her how to make them.

The preparation took three days. She started out with mixing together a couple of kinds of meat, with dashes of spices. I especially remember the smokey smell of the cumin seeds that she crushed to add to the mixture.

Many years later, when she tried to recreate it all for me (because this was no recipe that had ingredient measurements written into it), I realized what she was doing was making chorizo sausage.

The mixture had to sit in the fridge for two or three days to cure, and whenever you opened the door to the fridge you got hit with this wonderful smell of aging meat.

When the time was right, the meat was cooked and then all the bowls were assembled on the formica topped kitchen table. There was the cooked meat mixture, the stack of corn tortillas, a bowl of Las Palmas enchilada sauce, chopped onions, chopped olives and cheese. I don't know where she got her tortillas. I suspect that they didn't have the stacks of packaged tortillas that you can get around here these days, because they seemed to be much fresher than the kind of corn tortillas that you buy at the supermarket.

Carefully she would dip a warmed tortilla into the sauce, then lay it on a plate and fill it with the other ingredients, then roll up tightly and put it in a baking pan.

When it was time, she would pour any remaining sauce over the enchiladas, sprinkle with cheese and put the pan in the oven to bake.

When they were finished, large leaves of romaine lettuce went on the individual serving plates, one enchilada went into each romain leaf and Parmesan cheese was sprinkled over the top. All that was left was to eat and enjoy. It was a request of many people when she was asked to make something for dinner.

I decided to make my mother's recipe for our last cousins day, but I decided to short cut it and bypassed the homemade chorizo step, just buying regular chorizo at the store. I also thought the packaged tortillas were too dry and didn't roll up properly. The end result was a complete disaster. I think it's the first dinner we've had in our two years of cousins days that had leftovers.

I guess I learned that there are no shortcuts to the "real thing."

I don't know if I can ever properly recreate my mother's enchiladas. But it's one of the food rituals, among many food rituals in our family, that I remember fondly

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Not Cataracts


I had hoped that this would be a relieved "We know what it is and now just have to fix it" entry, but alas no.

I woke up at 4 a.m. this morning, worrying about the appointment. Worrying and not worrying. So many people have assured me that this is classic cataract symptoms and that the operation will change my life that I was convinced I was going to march into the office and march out with an appointment for cataract surgery.

I managed to get back to sleep and slept until 7, when I realized I had a whole flock of butterflies in my stomach, realizing that my appointment was only two hours from now.

I checked e-mail and had a lovely supportive e-mail waiting for me, which helped a lot. It's nice to know people care. There were also lovely notes on Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. I felt I had the support of a lot of caring people behind me.

I got the dogs fed, said goodbye to Walt, who was heading off to Santa Barbara, taking the bus to the airport because I had told him I didn't feel comfortable driving him. He gave me a big hug and I promised to call him as soon as my appointment was over.

I could tell immediately, once again, that while I can drive all right, I probably shouldn't. Sunglasses don't stop that feeling that there are several layers of muslin in front of my face, though it's a bit better. I promised myself I would go to Kaiser (which is only a few miles away), stop at the supermarket on the way home, and then not drive again until we get this settled, one way or another.

My doctor is one of the most gentle people around. It was he who "broke the news" to me many years ago that it was time for bifocals, while I had gone in there expecting to get bifocals and looking forward to them. But he was afraid I'd take the news badly, thinking it was a sign of growing old.

He greeted me by name when he saw me and apologized that he had two patients ahead of me. I smiled and told him that was fine, that I'd only come early in case he needed to dilate my pupils. He got flustered and said that he didn't think he needed to do that...unless, of course, my doctor had recommended it. We agreed that didn't need to be done and he took his two patients.

I apparently passed the glaucoma test and then he did the chart reading, which I also passed. He said that if the problem were cataracts, I wouldn't have been able to read the letters I was reading.

He looked in my eyeball and said that yes, he could see the cataract, but that it wasn't large enough that the ophthalmologist would want to remove it.

After that he didn't seem to have any answers. Clearly, I can't see. Or rather, clearly I can't see clearly, so there is some problem. He could set me up with an appointment tomorrow, but it's in Sacramento, and I decided to wait until Walt gets home so he can drive me. So my next appontment, with an ophthalmologist this time, is November 5 so I have another week to worry and to deal with those butterflies.

I stopped at the supermarket, which is on the way home, and bought enough food for both me and the dogs to last until Walt comes home, so I don't have to drive while he's away.

And of course I came home to research macular degeneration, which Walt's mother has. I remember that the first hint we had of it was when she stopped driving. But I read through a bit of the information and took the preliminary test they give you and while I realize self-diagnosis is not a good thing to do, it doesn't sound like this is the start of macular degeneration. But I still asked Walt to ask his mother what she remembers about the first symptoms many years ago when she realized there was something wrong with her eyes.

There is also diabetic retinopathy, which really scares the shit out of me. Walt's old college roommate had diabetes and ended up blind because of diabetic retinopathy.

I'm better off just staying in the house where it's not nearly as apparent as it is the minute I set foot outside the house. And we'll now start the count-down until November 5 when I can go through this whole butterfly attack yet again.

I'll look on the bright side--if I'm losing my sight, I'll save a hell of a lot of money on cameras, camera equipment, and books!

...and if you want to hear the weirdest robo call ever, check this one from a local guy (whose name I don't want to give publicity), who is running for Congress. I wonder how successful this is being for him!

Monday, October 27, 2008

Addicted? Who US?

I got up this morning and came in here to check e-mail, as I always do. I had none. NONE. No personal messages. No notes from lonely Russian girls wanting to send me their photo so we could chat. No requests from either Move or Equality California asking for yet another donation to help them get through to election day. No notifications from lotteries from any country that I had won countless millions. No requests from Nigerian potentates to make me rich beyond my wildest dreams.

What the heck? That's like going for three days without receiving a single catalog in your mailbox. Unheard of.

The Internet seemed to be working just fine, so I went to my Gmail account and sent myself a test message. It never arrived.

I called the DCN help desk (which, of course, is closed on Sundays), hoping there would be a recording explaining what the problem was, but there was just the "sorry we're closed" message. I contacted several people who I either knew or thought I knew had DCN and who also had either Twitter or Facebook.

Jon, who was the best man at Jeri and Phil's wedding, got my message and almost immediately sent me an Instant Message on Facebook that he hadn't received any e-mail since 3 p.m. the previous day. He said that the server seemed to be fine (not sure how he checked that,but he used to work for DCN, so I'm sure he Has His Ways) but that mail just wasn't getting through.

In the meantime, I had sent myself an e-mail from my G-mail account and noted that it did not arrive, so it wasn't just that Nigerian Potentates, Russian girls and political fund raisers just all of a sudden decided to give up on me.

I realized how dependent we have become on electronic communication, and laughed at how I had set up back-ups for myself, with g-mail, Twitter and Facebook. I could still be connected electronically; I just couldn't get my DCN e-mail, but at least I could contact some of my friends thru Twitter and Facebook.

The extent to which we have become dependent on electronic communication was brought home when a Davis friend and I were having an IM chat on Facebook about the loss of DCN e-mail. She said that she had sent an e-mail to a friend to cancel a lunch date they had and had asked her friend to respond so that she knew the message had gotten through.

Well, we discovered that outgoing e-mail was OK, it was just incoming e-mail that was jammed up somewhere. She laughed that she might actually have to pick up the telephone and call her friend to make sure that the cancellation e-mail had been received.

A few minutes later, I received the following message:

I thought you'd enjoy this. To avoid the phone, I sent my friend another email (since our email is being sent) and told her to go on Facebook (where we're "friends") and IM me letting me know she got my email canceling our visit. I'll see if it works.

I told Walt that I wondered if the two women lived as close as Joan and I do to each other--2 blocks apart and most of our communication is done on notes attached to notices that one or the other of us has made the next move on our now three-year old Scrabble game.

This afternoon we went to the dog park for the second birthday party for the Rainbow puppies. Last year all ten of them were there, as well as their mother, Callie....

Callie.jpg (79917 bytes)

...the only one of the dogs who is not black and white!

The dogs, of course, don't remember each other and, since we had the time wrong and showed up an hour early, by the time we decided to leave, Sheila and Lizzie were very glad to leave the park and get into the car. They came home and collapsed.

But all the puppies are healthy and happy and a great time was had by everybody, including Bosley, the Boston Bull terrier who decided to join the group and absolutely loved everybody.

Bosley.jpg (83480 bytes)

Sunday, October 26, 2008

I remember you ... sort of

This afternoon the memorial service for our friends' son, who died of a heart attack at age 38 a month or so ago was finally held. If you want to have an overflow crowd at your memorial service, best advice is to die relatively young while not only your friends, but your friends' parents and all the people who knew you while you were growing up are still alive.

Walt was supposed to be at a volunteers' award dinner for the charitable organization he is on the board for, but there weren't too many people at the dinner, since so many of them were at the memorial itself.

It was a lovely memorial. Ken had a full life, was active in music, in theatre, with rugby, and was a civil war re-enacter, so there were people from all those aspects of his life to talk about his contributions. His two sisters (one of whom had flown in from Italy, where she now lives) gave lovely tributes to their brother.

The memorial ended with a lovely slide show which, unfortunately, I wasn't able to see well because a guy in front of me had a big head and was very tall and when I moved my head to see around him, he moved his head too, so mostly I saw the upper right quadrant of most of the slides.

When I walked into the room before things started , I saw so many familiar faces, people I used to know when our kids were in school. When it was all over there was lots of food and socializing and lots of renewing of acquaintances. However, it's really funny when you know someone SO well but can't remember their name. Names in the account that follow have been changed to protect...well, probably me.

There was the woman sitting next to me, whom I recognized as very familiar, and with whom I remember taking a quilting class about twenty-five years ago, but I couldn't remember her name. Later, I asked Walt "what was the name of that woman who was sitting between me and Margaret?" "Margaret? was that Margaret?" he asked. Then he told me the name of the woman sitting next to me.

We both tried to remember the name of Betty. We know her well. She used to work for the schools. Her husband was a local business man. His name is Ron. What was their last name? Neither of us could remmeber. I knew it was an "J" word, but couldn't get it right. Hours later, I shouted "JOHNSON!" "Right!" Walt said. He knew instantly who I was talking about.

He told me he that Theo Wurst had given him a glass of wine. "Oh right--wasn't that the guy whose car Jeri ran into when she was getting ready to go out on a date with him?" I asked. "No, that was...uh...." He couldn't remember. Later, at home, he shouted "Sheldon...that was the name of the guy whose car Jeri hit."

"Who was Vicki, the girl on the diving team with the kids, whose mother was there?" I asked. "Handley," he told me, as we were off on a memory trip about the people from the old diving team who were there.

It kept going like that...he'd remember one name, I'd remember another, we'd both forget the last name. "Whose that woman sitting next to Bob?" I asked him. "Bob? Where's Bob?" he said. "Do you mean Joe?" he asked, looking in the direction I was looking. "Right," I said. "Who is the woman sitting next to him?" I asked. "Uh...his wife," he said. Oh. His wife had gained a lot of weight and I hadn't recognized her. In fact up to that point I had been having a lovely chat with her, thinking she was someone else and that she had changed a lot since I last saw her.

There were the people we knew well, mostly the Davis Comic Opera People, most of whom were at Craig and Roy's wedding recently. We somehow all managed to find each other and gravitate to the same spot, sooner or later. Probably our closest friends in Davis. Definitely our closest group of friends.

I asked Walt if he remembered the names of the two girls (well, women now!) sitting at our table, who had been in the Jazz Choir with Paul. One of them re-introduced herself to Ned and Marta (who were also sitting with us), but I didn't remember her name. Walt, uncharacteristically hadn't recognized either of them (he's usually the one who recognizes all these kids years later).

I told him that one of them told us a story about Paul that we had never heard before. It seems that years ago, when they were all in the Jazz Choir together we took a trip to Disneyland. Walt and I always went along as chaperones and one year I guess the kids were staying in a different part of the hotel from us. Apparently Paul got fed up with the muzak playing in the elevators and decided to disconnect it. He apparently cut the wire he thought was the muzak but it turned out to be the alarm system and they ended up having to evacuate the entire tower of the hotel.

Fortunately (a) I didn't know about it at the time, (b) the choir director now has dementia and doesn't remember anything and (c) Paul's dead anyway. So, with those three things, this many years later I can laugh at what Paul did. You just never know what you're going to learn at a memorial service.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Play It Again, Sam

I just love retrospectives. There was a PBS special about the Best of Broadway on tonight. Not nearly long enough, but what a show. It repeated excerpts from some of the greats of Broadway doing their famous show-stopping numbers with the Boston Pops, under the batons of Arthur Fiedler, John Williams and Keith Lockhart.

There was Ray Bolger, looking and sounding old and a bit shaky at rehearsal, but young and vibrant performing his classic "Once in Love with Amy" from Where's Charlie?

Tears in my eyes watching John Riatt doing "Hey There" from Pajama Game with daughter Bonnie. Ben Vereen at his prime, Sammy Davis Jr., Pearl Baily doing "Hello Dolly," Elaine Page as Evita, Tyne Daly doing "Trouble" from Music Man and Carol King, who could sing the phone book and be riveting.

Carol Channing, of course, doing "Diamonds are a Girl's Best Friend."

The newer greats of broadway -- Audra MacDonald singing "When I Marry Mr. Snow" from Oklahoma and Kristin Chenowith doing "Glitter and Be Gay" from Candide. Both women are now doing TV shows ("Private Practice" for MacDonald and "Pushing Up Daisies" for Chenowith). I'd forgotten how glorious both voices were, though I listen to Chenowith all the time on my album of Wicked.

And of course there was Bernadette Peters, who not only performed , but was also a co-host of the show.

The show ended with The Big Voice herself, Ethel Merman, doing a medley of many of the songs she introduced on Broadway which have gone on to become classics.

I was so grateful that we live in an age where performances like this have been recorded and stored so that future generations can watch them and see what all the fuss was about.

The age of videotape, of course, is not quite so friendly to Politics as it has been to show business.

There is a new McCain doubletalk video over on my "Look at these Videos." McCain's problem is that he apparently never heard of YouTube or web videos. Otherwise why would he blatantly contradict himself over and over and over again? The best thing about these videos is that they are simply video clips of statements he has made, on both sides of just about every issue. Check it out....and if you haven't seen the earlier one, which I titled "McCain--Hoist on His own Petard," scroll down and check that one too.

There is another video you should watch. It's on this web site and I'd embed it, but you should read the description that goes along with it. This was taken by a woman who videotaped a group of "Yes on 8" demonstrators. The video is pretty bad, but for a group of loving folks who just want to preserve the sanctity of marriage.... well... watch the video.

I'm wondering what the children are learning about this election. The lies continue to pour forth, mostly unchecked by the people spewing them. The Yes on Prop 8 ads are hitting hard that if it doesn't pass, "gay marriage" is going to be taught in the public schools. First of all, I'm wondering what that means exactly. Does it mean that children will learn that the law allows people of the same gender to marry? Well...the law does. Are they supposed to lie? And even if Prop 8 should pass (please, dear God no!), the airwaves have been flooded with these ads of cute little kids talking about how boys can marry boys and little girls can marry princesses. The "Yes" people have spreaad that lesson far more thoroughly than schools ever would!

But the No on Prop 8 folks have now come out with an ad featuring the state Superintendent of Schools who calls the Yes ad a blatant lie and says that the proposition says nothing about "teaching gay marriage" in schools and that schools are not required to "teach marriage" at all.

Thanks goodness, good or bad, it will all be over in less than two weeks.

And just to totally confuse the tagging of this entry, may I introduce Terra.

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Terra is about a year old and on about the 4th of October she was attacked by some bigger dogs and hurt pretty badly. She was taken to the vet and stitched up but the wound is still pretty nasty looking (though Ashley tells me it's MUCH better than it used to be.

Terra2.jpg (67932 bytes)

She's going to be here for a bit and is settling in right now. We've agreed to keep the cone on her head until the wound heals a bit more (though I haven't figured out how to keep her from scratching it with her hind foot when I'm not watching her--Ashley is going to try to find her a sweater or t-shirt that will cover it up).

A new adventure in fostering begins. She's a sweet little thing who is trying to figure out all the changes in her life and decide who are the good guys and who are the bad guys.

Friday, October 24, 2008

The Cousins Day that Wasn't

I was feeling really good--and relieved--when I woke up this morning. I felt better than I had in two days. The Sudafed had worked and I had made it through the worst of my cold. I had even slept all night without having to get up in the middle of the night.

Best of all, there was no sign of a cough. The cough must have been due to the scratchy throat. I was good to go to Cousins' Day!

I got breakfast ready for the dogs and showed Walt how to fix Nicki's breakfast. He was planning to go to work today, so he went upstairs to get ready to leave.

The phone rang.

It was Peach.

Apparently Kathy had an intestinal bug and wasn't going to be able to make it. Peach said her husband could drive her to my house if we wanted to go ahead without Kathy, but we both agreed that it wouldn't be the same with only the two of us, so we decided to wait until Kathy was feeling better. (Of course, it wasn't until after we had made that decision that I realized I couldn't drive to my mother's anyway!)

So I had the day at home after all. Best of all, I had turned in my transcription project the day before so it was kind of a quiet day. Got all those towels washed, played with the puppy, caught up on Mad Men.

Nicki, who either is more normal now, or I'm just getting used to her, had been racing around the house like a mad woman. She loves carrying metal bowls, or anything else she can find, racing top speed from back yard to the living room and back again.

But around 3 p.m., I realized I hadn't seen her in a couple of hours. She wasn't in any of her usual sleeping places...and she doesn't respond when you call her. I tried looking for her outside, since she really does like being outside. But of course the world turned into one cloudy blob when I went into the sun. If she happened to be lying in a shadow, I wouldn't have been able to see her. And I didn't.

I checked everywhere in the house and tried calling her, but no luck.

About then Walt came home and I sent him outside to look for her. He was still hunting when she came trotting into the kitchen, happy as can be. I picked her up and her fur was warm, which tells me she had, indeed, been sleeping outside -- but beats me where.

I had on the afternoon MSNBC talking heads and decided that I could not stand one more minute of Chris Matthews or anybody who had anything negative to say about the race to the White House. I had just reached saturation for the day. A mention of Bill Ayers might send me over the edge. It was bad enough that someone from McCain's team made a snide comment about Obama taking time off to "go visit Grandma." Ranks right up there with air quotes around "health of the mother."

Don't get me started.

I got the dogs fed their dinner and got dinner started for us two-legged people and sat down to watch Survivor: Gabon.

That's when I realized that I had been coughing for awhile, but hadn't paid attention.

By the time dinner was ready, I wasn't really hungry. I ate some, gave some to Lizzie, and plopped myself down into the recliner and realized that there was a baby cough which was embedding itself deeper and deeper into my lungs. As I sit here, it is rapidly growing into an adolescent cough.

I was glad that Kathy's illness had prevented Cousins Day from happening because the very last thing I wanted to do was to spread this thing around. I'm going to go back to the recliner again now, folks. I have some more coughing to do.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Hello Darkness, My Old Friend

Tomorrow is Cousins Day and it's my turn to bring the drinks I have been completely uninspired, I have to admit so I decided that the thing to do would be to just go to the store and check out the flavored vodkas and see what recipes I could find on them.

Only problem is that they now put vodka in clear bottles with white printing in about 2 point type that is impossible for me to read. The only bottle I found that had a hint of offering something directed me to its web site for recipes. Well, thanks a lot. It would be nice if I had a Blackberry or iPhone, but I didn't even have my cell phone with me at all.

Ultimately, I found a bottle of "Pomegranate martini," which apparently is the whole kit and kaboodle all mixed together for you. You just chill, pour, and serve with a slice of lemon.

That's about the kind of drink I'm up for this month.

Walt was gone most of the day today, first to work and then to a meeting for Citizens Who Care, on whose board he serves.

I am feeling much better, thanks to Sudafed, and could have gone to the store while he was gone, but in all honesty, I didn't want to drive during the daytime.

There is an advantage of being a semi-hermit. Sitting here in the house, doing my normal routine, I am hardly aware of the eye problem (which gets checked on Monday! Yay!) The only time I really notice it is when I have to work for an extended period of time with WordPerfect.

I have managed to darken most of the other screens I spend a lot of time on, but I can't find a way to darken the Word Perfect screen. (There probably is a way, but I can't find it in the help menu, and I'm using such an old version of WP that if you go to their help desk, they just laugh at you!)

I was working on the translation of a new Morning Story and had to take a break every 15 minutes or so because the glare was getting to me. And I've taken myself out of the transcription pool until this gets resolved. Or not--but let's not go there!

So I decided to wait until after dinner to go the supermarket to check for the booze for tomorrow. It was absolutely delightful getting in the car. With no sun in the sky and only blackness around me, I wasn't even aware that I was having a problem at all. Unless I passed a car with exceptionally bright headlights, but since it's a 4 lane road from here to the store, even that wasn't a problem.

I find it encouraging that darkness is so comfortable for me, because I would think that if this is something other than cataracts, the problem would persist no matter what the light. If that's not the case, don't tell me. I want to keep my fantasy going for the next few days, please.

* * *

There is also reason to be cautiously optimistic about Nicki too. Oh, there is still something wrong with her, but I notice that she seems to be getting the idea of going outside to pee (at least some of the time. We've gone from mopping up several puddles a day to only one or two).

And after her trauma at the Farmers Market the other day, she is starting to not only enjoy, but invite human affection. Today she slept in my arms, just like a normal puppy, for about half an hour.

Well, not exactly like a normal puppy. I'm starting to think that while the ophthalmologist says she sees just fine, that she sees, but not "just fine." Most of the time she was cuddled in my arms, she would lift her head up and look up and then around and back down again. Like she was trying to figure out where she was. I also notice that whenever she gets over under the kitchen table, she howls. Never does it any other time, but I think she gets "lost" there.

The ranch in Wyoming rejected her. The guy said that (a) they aren't taking new cases now, and (b) they aren't set up to take behavior cases that stem from neurological problems. But he did say that it sounded like my assessment of "doggie autism" might be right. I'm not completely sure about that any more, since she has started responding. But she doesn't smell cheese when you hold it up in front of her nose, she hears sound, but doesn't always know which direction it's coming from, and from the very beginning I wondered if she had vision problems, even though she obviously isn't blind.

So who knows. Let's hope Nicki and I will both get better soon...and if only one of us can get better, let's hope it's me!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Pass the Tissues, Please

At 4 a.m. this morning, I staggered to the computer and updated my status on FaceBook. I wrote: "Bev can't sleep. Throat raw. Want chicken soup and my mommy to take care of me. Might get the soup."

(OK--just shut up about the fact that it was the middle of the night, that I felt like shit, and that the first thing I did was to write about it on the computer, OK?)

I still remember vividly the day I realized I was grown up. I was in my own apartment, had a job, was going to get married soon, and I had the flu. It was a studio apartment with a Murphy bed and I was lying in bed, under the satin quilt that I used to call "flufty wufty" when I was a kid. I had the chills and there was nobody to put a cool hand on my brow, take my temperature, fluff up my pillows, or bring me some soup.

Being sick is never fun, but if you have to be sick, I recommend having my mother around to take care of you.

I remember Lipton's Noodle soup, paper bags pinned to the side of the bed to hold the tissues if I had a cold, or a bucket on the floor if it was something intestinal. She would go to the library and bring home stacks of books for me to read. Each morning she made the bed so the sheets were tight and felt cool and crisp when I climbed into bed again. She was the perfect nurse, and she never complained when she had to clean me up--like the Christmas I got so sick after eating a cranberry jello salad. It had walnuts, celery and marshmallows in it and it was literally decades before I could even think about eating that salad again!

I still remember the comic book she brought to me in the hospital when I had my tonsils out. I was only four years old and I don't know why I remember it, but it was a Donald Duck comic and there was a whirlpool that either Donald or his nephews were caught up in. That's all I can remember, but amazing that it has stuck with me for 60 years!

But at 4 a.m., when your throat is raw and you can't breathe for the stuffiness in your nose, and you've been sneezing for a long time, there is nobody to heat up some chicken soup for you. And you realize that you are a grown up.

I've decided that this is a one-day head cold. It is NOT going to take root and bury itself into my chest because Cousins Day is Thursday and I am not going to miss Cousins Day. Fortunately, after I moved from the couch to the recliner and went back to sleep, I woke up at 8 a.m. and was feeling slightly better. There was nothing creeping down to embed itself in my lungs, which is the surefire sign that I will be sick for weeks.

I fed the dogs, because Walt was upstairs and the dogs were hungry and needed to be fed. They didn't appreciate my bravery, propping myself up to give them food so they didn't have to wait 15 minutes for Walt to come downstairs. Brave, selfless me.

I had my regular toast and cereal breakfast and was even able to taste it, another good sign. Walt kindly agreed to make coffee, when I finally decided to be pathetic and ask him to. Good Walt. It wasn't chicken soup, but at 10 a.m., I wasn't ready for chicken soup, just something warm going down my throat.

The warmth of the coffee (perhaps in addition to the aspirin I take every day anyway) seemed to help the sore throat immeasureably. There was still the sneezing and the blowing, but I could deal with that.

Just as long as the cough didn't start. It's the cough that does me in. I would. not. get. a. cough.

Walt went off to work for a few hours and I asked him to stop and get some Contac on his way home. I almost never take cold medicines. It's either the left over Christian Science of my mother, the desire to be really pathetic and then complain because nobody notices that I"m really pathetic, or the realization that cold medicines don't cure you, but only mask your symptoms.

As a general rule, I am not a pill taker, and the lifelong Catholic in me believes that we need to suffer...and what better way than to endure a cold without the benefit of medicines that will make you feel better?

But as I've added meds for blood pressure and meds for cholesterol and meds for diabetes and vitamins because I realize that my skin almost ever sees sun, so I probably need at the very least Vitamin D, my aversion to medications has diminished significantly, so if I can take something that will stop the sneezing and stop the runny nose and help me feel somewhat more normal...and especially help me be able to feel well for Cousins Day, what the heck.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Where No Man Has Gone Before

OK--I'm tired of politics. Let's talk about something else.

I've said before that the first thing I do on the internet each morning, after reading e-mail, is to log onto "That's My Answer." just a fun site with some questions to answer each day. Usually about four of them, sometimes thought provoking, usually silly.

The other day, the question was titled "Everything but the kitchen sink" and read, "In my purse I always have my digital camera, the front of the car stereo, my wallet and checkbook, paracetemol or aspirin, keys to the school and my car keys, lipstick, body spray, mobile phone, spare contact lenses & a hairbrush. So, tell us, what’s in your handbag? Is yours minimalist or is there everything BUT the kitchen sink?"

Obviously I have one of those bags which holds everything but the kitchen sink, but I thought it might be interesting to actually do an archaeological dig through the 15-20 lb bag (depending on how many books and how many cameras are in it) and see what actually IS in my purse at the moment.

MyBag.jpg (67042 bytes)

I don't know how long I've had this bag, but this is the same bag I had when Peggy was here in 2000...and it was old then. I only have one bag, unlike women who routinely change their bags with the season or the outfit or on a whim. I have cleaned this bag out in the recent past, but things tend to accumulate very quickly, so this will be a voyage of discovery as I go through it (I might actually clean it out at the same time).

Starting with that zippered pouch that you see there, it contains a metal Altoids box which contains my Moo cards, my digital voice recorder, the key to a room at a Quality Inn somewhere, some magnets from Jeri & Phil's wedding, an unwrapped cough drop, covered with purse fuzz, and a magnifier/light that I bought recently which allows me to read programs in the theatre in the dark.

The key has now been thrown out, magnets moved to my desk, everything else returned to the pocket (including the cough drop--you can always suck the fuzz off a cough drop if you're desperate). Now we go to the other pocket in back of the zippered pouch. That contains a business card from Jacqueline's High Tea (where we went one Cousins Day), an appointment card for my dental appointment last February, another Jeri/Phil magnet, an empty zip lock bag which I put my iPod ear phones in when I'm not using them at my desk, the petals of a flower, now very, very dead; and three twist ties that you use to close packages of bulk grains in the store and write the bin number on them. I don't know why I saved these. Except for the magnet and the zip lock bag, everything has now gone into the garbage.

Other pocket on the other side of the purse: All that's in there is a handkerchief which used to belong to my friend Gilbert, who died in 1986. The handkerchief also needs washing...euwww.

Now to the main section of the purse:There is, of course, my wallet (which Peggy bought me for Christmas in 2000), two sets of keys, my cell phone, my iPod, the Flip video camera, the regular digital camera, my sunglasses, a leather business card holder which has business cards I made back in the days when I was doing publicity for Steve and thought I should look professional. There's a teeny, tiny Tupperware container that contains earplugs (from the days when we went to rock shows) and a leather credit card holder (for all the cards that won't fit into my wallet--which is really silly, given that I only ever use about 3 credit cards)

Then for the "junk" - an envelope of photos of Brianna that were supposed to go into an album for my mother--but these are the leftovers. An envelope with check stubs from my Enterprise paychecks. It also has Nancy's phone number on it--but I don't know which Nancy. There are promo folders from Office Max, the Davis Food Co-op and the Post Office, a receipt from Walgreens for the SD card I had to buy in San Francisco when I took the women from Australia on a tour of the City. and an assortment of deposit slips from my bank.

There's a book of "fall savings" coupons from the strip mall where Petco is. We get these every change of season, I always put them in my purse and I never remember to use any of them.

There's a brochure from the Mendocino Botanical gardens, which I visited when we scattered Michele's ashes a couple of months ago; a reminder card about the bone density exam I had last month (my bones are fine, thankyew). a status report from Kaiser letting me know which tests are due and when, and an invitation to the SPCA Halloween costume contest next week. (Since I'm not a "dress your pet up" person, I won't be going.)

There's a bottle of Biotene mouth wash which my hygienist wants me to rinse with at night to prevent overnight dry mouth, and which I forgot about until this very minute. And there's a toothbrush in a holder, cause you never know when you'll need one.

There's a hand washing thingy from Joe's Crab shack, still in its original wrapper, but it feels like it's dry now. A brush, nail clippers, remnants of many of what were once kleenex tissues, a little book of photos of Bri, several pens which are ALWAYS at the bottom of the purse, and which I can never find.

There's a babyfood jar filled with Tums,, because it's more convenient than a big bottle of Tums. (The babyfood jar is from the days when I had to encourage pupppies to eat by giving them baby beef.)

There's a duplicate Costco card, a coffee flavored lip gloss that I bought at Peet's and have never used, a whole bunch of theatre tickets from shows dating back several months, and two plastic forks.

What is missing is a book to read and the only reason I don't have one of those is that I haven't started a new book since this eye thing began. but once I can read easily again there will be at least one, if not two, books in there.

And there you have it: why my purse weighs 20 lbs!

Monday, October 20, 2008

I Should, But I Can't

I actually got up early enough (6 a.m.) to watch Colin Powell on Meet the Press and to hear his very intellectual, measured, well-reasoned endorsement of Barrack Obama for president.

I should have turned the TV off right then and not turned it back on again until the election, but I've been too caught up in this whole thing and so I left it on.

Tom Brokaw asked Powell if he would ever consider a position in the Obama cabinet, should Obama be elected. Powell said that he has given 40 years of service to this country and he has no desire to go back into politics again, but he felt that if a president were to ask you to join his cabinet, you owed it to him to at least talk about it.

Two hours later on MSNBC there was a discussion about whether the Obama campaign would get in trouble for trying to fill cabinet positions before the election had even taken place.

I felt like I had stepped through the looking glass into some sort of parallel bizarre world. Where in the world did anybody get the idea that Obama had even offered Powell a position in his cabinet? The question was Tom Brokaw's (and to my knowledge he has no authority to interview prospective candidates for either candidate's cabinet!) and the answer was mostly negative on Powell's part.

But this is how offhand comments become inaccurate facts that are spread around.

Later, McCain was speaking in Iowa (I think it was Iowa...I've forgotten now). He said that the hero of Iowa was Joe the Plumber, who didn't deserve all the attacks that he was getting from the Obama campaign simply for asking for the answer to a simple question.


Has anybody heard the Obama campaign attacking Joe the Plumber? Earlier McCain said that the man didn't deserve to have his privacy violated -- yet it was McCain who made him a cause celebre at the debate by mentioning him 21 different times. Yet somehow this has translated in McCain's brain to the Obama campaign attacking Joe the Plumber.

A McCain spokesperson was interviewed today about Joe and he ranted long and loud about those taxes that Obama is going to impose in people making $40,000. He would not be contradicted. He is bound and determined that every middle class American be afraid of Obama raising their taxes, despite the fact that the Obama campaign has said over and over again, that there would be no tax increases for those making under $250,000 and that most people would see their taxes go down. But the lie persists with McCain spokespeople.

McCain still insists that Obama has never refuted comments by John Lewis about the atmosphere at McCain rallies reminding him of the things we saw in the 60s, despite the fact that Obama (a) refuted them during the debate, and (b) issued a statement at the time Lewis made his comments that they were out of line.

Yet McCain continues to spread the lies and distortions.

The thing that is so frustrating for me is that I have been following things fairly closely since this all began but I listen to the factual inaccuracies (so much nicer than "lies") coming out of the mouths of McCain and his spokespersons and I hear the crowds roar their approval or disapproval and I wonder how many people realize that they are being told lies. How many people will vote for McCain because they believe Obama is a terrorist? Or that their taxes will go up? or that Obama is a Muslim.

The most poignant and eloquent part of Powell's statement this morning was his verbal description of a photo of a mother in a military cemetery, with her head on the grave stone of her son, who had died in Iraq. He said that on top of the marker was not a cross, it was not a Star of David, it was a crescent moon and a star, and the much-decorated soldier's name was a Middle Eastern name. He had been an American Muslim giving his life in the service of his country, the United States of America.

The racial slurs against Obama do not unite this country; they divide them between "us Christians" (and maybe let the Jews in there too--but I'm not certain about that) and "those Muslims." Comments like that say that Muslims are, by default, bad people and that if a young Muslim boy, born in the Bronx and raised his whole life in New York aspires to become President of the United States, he might as well forget it because he's a Muslim and therefore somehow unclean.

Powell's comments after Meet the Press said it all.

I should turn off the television, but I feel that I need to know what is going on, what is being said, so I'm in a position to refute what I can, should that be necessary. But some days it's a lot more frustrating than others.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Nicki Flunks "placement"

I'm not going to write an entry on abortion, but I want everyone...everyone...especially those who kinda sorta agree with McCain's cavalier air quotes around "health of the mother" and who smirked as he dismissed Obama's stance for that particular qualification in late term abortions, to go and read this entry. the first hand account of someone who had one of those late term abortions McCain seeks to abolish--the reason for it and her emotions about it.

OK. On to something a little less emotional.

We just got home from a play in Sacramento, and I have to admit I'm not feeling too well. The tummy is a bit uncertain and I'm going to go sit and watch Saturday Night Live and hope that I don't spend the rest of the evening hunched over a porcelain bowl somewhere.

However, a little PS on our sweet little puppy.

Today I took her up to the Farmers Market, where she was going to spend the morning and then the SPCA would take her to Petco for placement and I would pick her up at 3:30 in the afternoon.

Around noon, Ashley called to ask if I could come and get her. She said that Nicki was too upset and she didn't want her to have to go through all the confusion of Petco too.

Unfortunately, Walt had gone off to Woodland to work a table for a volunteer organization he's agreed to join the board of, so I didn't have a car, but I called him and found that he hadn't left town yet. He agreed to go over to the Farmers Market and get her.

A few minutes later, he was back with Nicki in his arms. I took her out of his arms and the puppy actually seemed to grab me with her paws, like you'd expect a kitten to do. She buried her head in my chest. She has never done that. In fact, she doesn't really like to be picked up much. My heart just went out to her.

I sat down and she kept her head down and her paws clutching me and she lay there on my chest, breathing deeply for a good 15-20 minutes. She didn't sleep. I couldn't see her face, but Walt said her eyes were opened. Every once in awhile she'd lift her head and look around with this dazed look in her eyes as if to say "am I really OK now?"

The phone finally rang and I had to move her, but then I put her back on my chest again and eventually she started "coming to" again and within half an hour she was her old self.

I wrote and let Ashley know how things had gone when Nicki got home. She is trying to decide what to do about the puppy, but has decided not to have her come to Petco any more, at least not for now.

One thought Ashley has is to send her to the Rolling Dog Ranch Animal Sanctuary in Montana. This is a wonderful place which takes in dogs with special problems and works with them until they can be adopted. People who adopt animals from Rolling Dog understand that they may come with special needs, and are prepared to deal with them.

My fear for Nicki is that because of her "autism," she is going to be hard to train because she doesn't make eye contact and doesn't really pay attention to anything said to her. If she makes eye contact or responds, it's generally accidentally. This is going to make her difficult to train unless someone is very patient.

For now Nicki's placement is put on hold. Her bio and photo are on the web site, but she won't go to Petco.

She'll have her neurological assessment next month and we might get lucky and the perfect family just drop into our laps and all will go well, but the thing Ashley doesn't want is for someone to adopt this cute little puppy and then bring back a gangly adolescent because they are so frustrated with the inability to train her.

And now I'm going to go get into the recliner and hope that my dinner will stay down until it gets digested.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Doggie Autism

Nicki.jpg (47994 bytes)We know there is something mildly wrong with Nicki. The doggie ophthalmoligist has ruled out a vision problem; she obviously has no problems with hearing (when she wants to hear), and she has an appointment with a doggie neurologist November 13 to do an assessment.

This is the way that Ashley wrote up her description on the web page:

Nikki is a special little girl. She has an undiagnosed neurological problem that we are still working with vets to figure out. She is a very happy puppy, but she has trouble seeing things, sometimes circles, and may have some trouble hearing too. These are not related to problems with her ears or eyes, but problems within her brain. Typically these things do not progress, and she will live a long and happy life. She just needs a home that understands she is a little special, and may be a bit harder to train. Nikki's mom is a small 10 lbs terrier mix, so she wont be too big, and her dad was probably a cocker mix but we do not know dad for sure. Nikki loves to play, and run around with the other dog in her foster home. She is a very sweet little puppy who just needs a little extra time.

But in the meantime, I have diagnosed her myself: she has doggie autism.

Now, I don't know if there even is such a thing as doggie autism (and yes, I know the difference between autism and Downs Syndrome, unlike, apparently, Senator McCain, who, in the debate this week, more than once referred to Sarah Palin's personal familiarity with autism). But I've been watching Nicki today and figured out that when you put it all together, it seems to fit.

First of all, she's the sweetest little puppy ever. Just look at that face. Can anybody resist that? She is also one of the easiest puppies we've had, if you discount the razor sharp teeth sinking into your toes if you forget to put on regular shoes and attempt to be, you know...comfortable around the house. (Haven't worn shoes so consistently since last winter!)

But she is just...different. She has absolutely no interest in anybody else...well, except for her mother, but Hannah has now moved to a new foster home to make the separation easier for Hannah herself. Nicki played with her, but doesn't seem to notice that she's not here any more.

She occasionally shows passing interest in Sheila or Lizzie,but not much...and mostly as something big to attack to play with, like our toes. More likely, she is along side one or the other of them, until she loses interest and wanders off.

Her favorite toy is Sheila's food bowl, which is stainless steel in which she can see her distorted reflection. She will spend a very long time attacking the bowl, carrying it around, barking at it, and seeming to invite it to play with her.

apron.jpg (52224 bytes)She does like to go after things hanging over her head--like the aprons hanging in the kitchen, or the low hanging leaves on the bushes on the patio.

But if you pick her up, she has none of the "bonding with humans" attitude. She has no concept of "cuddling" and only wants to get down immediately. Endures petting, but doesn't seek it or appear to enjoy it much--doesn't not enjoy it, but she's the least affectionate puppy we've ever had (which, considering that she is a chihuahua/cocker mix, both breeds very affectionate, is very strange).

She also eats her own poop, unless I catch her right away, and seems unaware when she's peed somewhere, unlike other puppies. She walks right through it without noticing.

But, as I said, she is basically a very easy dog. She seems to have a real "off" switch. She has her active time at night, when she races back and forth, back and forth, back and forth, in the house, out of the house, running in circles, chasing Sheila's food bowl, attacking the empty bag of dog food she discovered yesterday, which I have just left on the floor because she's having such fun with it. But when she works herself up to barking and barking and barking and I reach saturation, I just put her in the doggie cage and it's like as soon as she gets in the cage, all four legs collapse. She falls asleep instantly and sleeps until I wake her up 8 hours later.

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Today I was trying to take this photo for Flickr and she was being very active and struggling to leap out of my lap. I took the teddy bear, moved it toward her, she laid her head down on it, and fell asleep instantly.

So I don't know what the deal is with the little doggie. I suspect she's going to make a very good pet for someone who can deal with her idiosyncracies. And, if nothing else, she certainly does keep us laughing at night.

Friday, October 17, 2008

I Don't Get It

I am no "talking head," and I don't have all the facts and figures at my disposal, but I do have some very strong impressions about the debate last night.

McCain has said more than once, when confronted with the level of negativity in his campaign, that if Obama had accepted his invitation to do town hall meetings, things would have been very different.

Doesn't this sound like blaming the victim? I mean...just because Obama chose not to do town hall meetings that means that McCain has to use ugly smear tactics? Telling lies and half truths? Question Obama's patriotism? Fire his supporters into shouting things like "kill him"??

Does this make any sense to anybody but McCain?

In last night's debate, McCain declared that he "always" confronted people who shouted ugly things at his rallies. Anybody remember seeing more than one time when he confronted the audience about their comments? (Other than contradicting that woman who said that Obama was an Arab). He was roundly booed when he suggested people should treat Obama with more respect. You think he's going to do that at every rally? And if he "always" did that, don't you think that it would make the news?

Has anybody once seen Sarah Palin react when someone yells "TERRORIST!" or "KILL HIM" at her rallies?

Then McCain turns around and gets "hurt" because John Lewis (D-GA) compares the atmosphere around McCain's rallies to George Wallace and the atmosphere of the 60s. McCain accused Obama of refusing to criticize Lewis' statements, when, in fact, an Obama spokesperson issued this statement:

“Sen. Obama does not believe that John McCain or his policy criticism is in any way comparable to George Wallace. . . But John Lewis was right to condemn some of the hateful rhetoric that John McCain himself personally rebuked just last night, as well as the baseless and profoundly irresponsible charges from his own running mate that the Democratic nominee . . . ‘pals around with terrorists.’ ”

I guess McCain never read that, when he seemed to accuse Obama of approving Lewis' statements. I dunno...if an emotional crowd was yelling "KILL HIM!" about me, I'd be a bit nervous myself. Wouldn't you?

I thought last night was perhaps McCain's "best" debate, but I think he lost every pro-choice woman in the country when he snorted and sneered about the necessity of including "health of the mother" in exception for late term abortions. (He also consistently called it "Pro-Abortion" rather than "Pro-Choice.") How could "health of the mother" possibly be a factor, seemed to be his attitude, suggesting that women and their doctors would lie about "health".

I've often thought how very weird that is. A woman is going to endure weeks of morning sickness, months of pregnancy with all of the problems that accompany it and then suddenly when the end is in sight, decide that now is the time for an abortion. I suppose there are very rare occasions where that might happen, but I just find it difficult to think that this might be a reason to deny all women the chance of life-saving surgery, I suspect any woman who has been pregnant would agree with me.

And my god will he let the Bill Ayers business go? No matter how much Obama explains his non-relationship with Ayers, McCain is bound and determined to link him to terrorism because he served on a board with Ayers, whose terrorist activities occurred when Obama was 8 years old.

I also was amused to hear McCain talk about how proud he was of the "First Dude," Sarah Palin's husband, the secessionist, the guy who wanted Alaska to secede from the Union and joined the Alaska Secessionist Movement, whose leader has been quoted as saying, "The fires of hell are frozen glaciers compared to my hatred for the American government. ... And I won't be buried under their damn flag."

I dunno...but it sounds to me like the First Dude has been pallin' around with terrorists.

I have to admit that the thing I like and admire about Obama is that there were so many ways he could hit at the McCain campaign on personal things, like Palin's personal life, like the fact that McCain is no longer talking about that bill Obama voted for to study the DNA of bears (he had that cute little joke "I don't know if this was for crime purposes or a paternity suit") when it turned out that McCain had voted in favor of the same bill. Instead McCain now talks about earmarks for a projector for a planetarium in Ohio. Obama could have made something about the bears .

But he doesn't. He keeps his cool. He explains the truth about the half-truths that the McCain campaign shoots with and he keeps the discussion on the issues. Even his negative ads aren't personal attacks on McCain, but are comparisons between his position and McCain's, as opposed to McCain's, which personally attack Obama on his patriotism and hint at nefarious behavior. Even today a McCame spokesperson was saying that if Obama was "tight with terrorists" the public had a right to know.

We are a country that makes a lot of decisions on externals -- how a candidate looks, how s/he sounds, in addition to the message presented.

Obama looks and sounds presidential; McCain looks like an angry bull dog (or perhaps a pit bull?) who is sputtering around from one attack to another.

I've said it before, but I'm supporting Obama because he is the first candidate since Kennedy who makes me feel hopeful for this country. I could well be very, very wrong in my thinking that he has the better chance of actually bringing change. I hope not.

But I"m never going to vote for someone who spends 100% of his advertising dollars (according to a bipartisn study dont recently) on negative attack ads, many of which are personal attack ads, not "message" attack ads (check this analysis.)

Sorry, John. I can never support you. (However you were very funny at the Alfred Smith dinner tonight!)

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Belated Greetings

I didn't exactly forget my friend Steve Schalchlin's birthday on October 4th. I sent him a note via Facebook. I had intended to surprise him with a journal entry all about him, because he's such a shy guy and hates publicity.


But I wasn't inspired to come up with an entire blog entry worth of material that didn't sound forced. But this morning I was going through Facebook and came across a new video he'd just posted. It's not a new song, but he's lately been performing at a little club near his house and the videos from Kulak's are always just excellent, so I sat here and listened to the famliar words by the familiar voice and was struck yet again why I love this man.

I can't remember when he wrote this, but I believe it was either just before or just after our troops entered Afghanistan. See what you think:

(My apologies to people who can't view embedded You Tube videos.)

I met Steve because Paul died. The weekend that Paul was supposed to have been performing in Davis, I wanted to get out of town, so Walt and I went to Los Angeles to see Steve's first show, The Last Session, about which I have written much in previous years. Steve wasn't performing in the show, but I was taken with the heartfelt (I stuck that in for Steve) lyrics. I don't think I ever fully felt them, though, until after I'd met Steve in person, a few weeks later. He and I met for lunch in San Francisco when he came up to do a one night show at a club there, and we hit it off right away. A friendship began.

Not long after that, Walt and I flew to Denver for the first meeting of what I call "Friends of Steve," to see a production there. The day before the group was going to see the show together (Steve was doing a guest shot for two performances this time), the group was going to go on a sightseeing tour. The tour would include Columbine High School. The tragedy was still fresh in everyone's mind. Paul died the day of Columbine and my first thought, when we all thought he'd killed himself, was that it was in response to the Columbine shootings, since he tended to get very emotional (and dramatic) about stuff like that. So the very last thing I wanted to do was to see Columbine High School.

Walt wasn't eager to see Columbine either, nor was he interested in seeing The Last Session twice in one day, so he went off by himself to walk around downtown Denver. I went to the matinee of the show. It was the first time I'd seen Steve play the role of Gideon, the singer-songwriter who is dying of AIDS and who assembles his best friends to make one last recording as a farewell to his partner, Jack, before he plans to kills himself.

Steve lives with AIDS and is doing well, but at the time he wasn't that long into his "bonus round," and I sat there alone in that little theatre, watching this man I had come to regard as a good friend, singing this song about his own funeral, the funeral of Paul still so fresh in my mind. I sat there sobbing., thinking that there was a very real possibility that this man I had come to love might one day die of his disease. I still get teary when I hear the song, though I know that when I die (because I will die before Steve--it has been decreed), he's going to be the one bringing nachos to my funeral and will sing this song for me.

Steve and I have been through a lot together. We became best friends, did a lot of traveling together when he was giving lectures on living with AIDS to college groups. I was able to go to Stanford University with him when he was honored there. Walt and I flew to New York when Steve's second show (both were written with his partner Jim Brochu) opened at a Musical Theatre Festival. We've shared hotel rooms, meals, and deep, dark secrets. And he almost always eats half my dinner when we go out to eat, something we haven't done in a long time now.

We've kind of let space come between us in the last year or two. He's busy about things and I'm busy about things and we haven't seen much of each other, and don't have our morning on-line chats as often as we used to. But I am very eager to see the world premiere of his Cantata, "New World Waking!" which the San Francisco Gay Men's Chorus is going to perform at the Davies Symphony Hall in early December.

The best thing about my now 8-year friendship with Steve is that he has also become friends with Ned and the Preoccupied Pipers crew and has actually recorded a couple of songs with them, and even performed with the group a couple of times

So I guess this is a belated birthday greeting to my friend, who still has the power to move me with his music and for whose presence in my life I am still very grateful, even if he does drive me crazy sometimes.